Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My humble attempt at a charity drive

Here's The Deal

I have several friends who use running and racing to help raise money and awareness for charity.  With all the things I have done and still have planned, it only makes sense to get in on the action.  I've been meaning to for awhile but as a lot of you know, things have been a bit hectic in my life.  I have also had more trouble than you can imagine getting things set up for a few different charities.  No excuses though and I am now on top of it.  I have it set up to raise money using my next major race which is Epicman on Dec 29th.

The Charity 

Like I said I looked at a few different charities but I decided I needed something that really spoke to me and therefore would drive me to make a strong effort towards raising money.  Well I really didn't need to look farther than a very good friend and former partner of mine from the old days, Pat Apoian.  He is the founder and president of an organization called Humble Heroes.

The Mission

Humble Heroes Mission Statement:
Humble Heroes is a 501c(3) charity committed to standing behind the men and women in public safety. The purpose of Humble Heroes shall be to assist Police Officers, Firefighters, and their families by providing financial and moral support to those who have been seriously injured or fallen ill, while building solid relationships between public service and the communities they serve.

The Race and Rules

I wanted to make this a bit more interesting than "I'm running a race so please donate money".  Not that I have anything against anyone who does that and I think it is great but if you know me, you know I love a challenge.  So here's the deal.  Epicman is a triple Ironman distance race with all three disciplines ran consecutive and the clock doesn't stop until you cross the finish.  So it will be a 7.2 mile swim, a 336 mile bike and a 78.6 mile run for a total of 421.8 miles.  It begins at 7am on Dec 29th and the race cut off is 60 hours later at 7pm on Dec 31st.  My idea is to accept pledges for every hour that I beat the cutoff  time by.  So the faster I am, the more money I raise.  Similar to when you were in forth grade and you went around your neighborhood and had neighbors pledge money for you to walk around a 1/4 track as many times as you could.  I actually bailed on this when I was in forth grade because I was fat and lazy back then.  Yea yea, I know I went from one extreme to the other.  So for example if you pledge $2 per hour and I finish the race in 50 hours, then you give $20 to the charity.  Pretty simple.  And to keep it as simple as possible, anything 29 minutes and under gets rounded down and anything 30 minutes and over gets rounded up.  So the same $2 pledge with a finish of 50:29 still gets $20 where as a finish of 50:30 is only $18.  Still simple right?  For all my police buddies out there, just roll with it and Ill tell you what you owe after the race is over.  I will keep a running sheet of all pledges sent to me via my email at  I also plan on updating, without using names of course, what the largest current pledge is.  I will allow pledges to be raised if people decide their buddy pledged more than they did or if the largest current pledge brings out the competitive side in you and you want to try to keep up.

My Spiel  

People are always telling me they don't think police officers and fire fighters are paid enough for what we do so here is your chance to help out.  Police work extra jobs at clubs, churches, traffic intersections, construction sites, etc. etc. just to make ends meet.  Fire fighters work their off days as EMT or Paramedics to make extra money.  When they are seriously injured, on duty or off, they lose the ability to work these extra jobs and the whole family suffers, especially their children.  So for all the police officers and fire fighters out there reading this, think of that extra job you're working tonight, tomorrow, this weekend, whatever, and pledge some of the money you make for this cause.  And to those who are not, remember that you will be helping the same people who would run into a burning building to save your life, chase down an armed suspect to save your property, stand in harms way so that you don't have to and risk their lives for yours without question and without even knowing who you are.  I think that deserves a little something, don't you?  This is a 501c(3) charity and is fully tax deductible.  I will send everyone who donates the proper tax information.  And please share this on your Facebook, Twitter or even email to all your friends and family.  Every little bit counts.  So let the pledging begin!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

This is going to be Epic, Man!

ep-ic [ep-ik]-–adjective
1.  noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style.
2.  heroic; majestic; impressively great.

So obviously I am not planning on picking up long poem composition, so the second definition is what this challenge is all about.  With this definition in mind, I'd like to point out that the word "epic" is now considered one of the most overused words in the english language according to the urban dictionary.  You cannot have an epic haircut.  Ever!  There is no such thing as an epic 5k.  That group ride through local neighborhoods stopping at lights and sitting in traffic cannot be considered epic.  And for christ sake, your Starbucks frap-a-whatever-the-hell or your Five Guy's burger and fries in no way, shape or form, can taste epic.  This challenge however, most definitely has every right to be called "EpicMan".

The EpicMan Challenge is a triple Ironman distance triathlon in Hawaii on the island of Oahu.  The course is a 7.2 mile swim, a 336 mile bike and a 78.6 mile run.  This is a non-stop race starting on 12/29/11 and finishing on 12/31/11 with a 60 hour cut-off.  Yes, 60 hours.  The race is by invite only and after submitting a race resume to the race director, you sit by the computer and wait to see if you are one of the lucky (relatively speaking) 25 participants.  I'm pretty sure I checked my email no less than 100 times a day after submitting my resume, even though I knew in the back of my mind, that my race resume just might not have enough on it.  When I received the special invite and password to register, I was blown away and beyond thankful for the opportunity to participate in such an awesome adventure.  For me, this is quite possibly the race of a lifetime, in an unbelievable location and will truly be an absolute epic adventure.  Dani will be my crew chief and crew and I couldn't be more excited to have her there to share in the fun.  She is by far the best and most positive person to have there helping me out and loves doing it.  

Jason Lester is the master mind behind this and a few other amazing races including Epic 5, a 5 Ironman distance race in 5 days on 5 different islands in Hawaii.  His story is truly inspiring and he goes above and beyond to promote and raise money for charity.  To read his story and donate to his cause click here.  I just downloaded his book and will give you a review soon but it seems very inspiring for all levels of athletes and non-athletes alike.  Speaking of raising money for charity, Dani and I have decided to use the races and adventures we are doing (Ill let Dani tell you about hers) this year to raise money for a charity.  We are still working out the details but stay tuned for the website, sponsorships and possibly some fund raising events soon.

The training has already begun and if you know me, you know that I take my training very serious.  And with the magnitude of this event, it just got twice as serious.  The first week alone totaled 29h 21m of training.  So if you need to find me in the next six months, I will either be training, sleeping or working.  I downloaded a pretty good app to help track my miles and hours and will post some numbers when I get bored during the taper in December.  And if anyone has a long, well, any kind of workout to do, let me know as Im sure I will too and would love company.  I am beyond excited for this journey from training to race day and race finish.  I know most people would never be "out there" enough to take on something of this magnitude, but I hope to inspire people to get out there and take on something.  "Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Post race photo op in Key West
The Race:
The Keys 100 is an ultra marathon run from Key Largo starting at mile marker 101 and heading south all the way to Key West ending at mile marker 1.  It is run all on concrete sidewalks or blacktop shoulders on the road.  It is notoriously a hot race but this year they said it was a few degrees cooler, but I'm pretty sure they were full of it.

Race Plan:
Uh yea right.  Well I had one.  But this is essentially a step by step account of what happened to it.  Step 1: Tape said "race plan" to a target frame down range.  Step 2: Load shotgun magazine tube to full capacity with buckshot.  Step 3: Combat load one round in the chamber.  Step 4: Yell "Going Hot".  Step 5: Commence to blowing the shit out of said race plan with all rounds from the shotgun.  Step 6: Repeat step 2 through 5 until you run out of ammo.  Step 7: Go buy more ammo and repeat step 6.

Race Actual:
Contrary to the uninformed and incredibly incorrect belief of a few people, I did not go into this race underestimating it.  Nor did I fail to give the course the respect it deserves.  Its 100 miles in heat and humidity on concrete and black top!  I may not have it all together upstairs, but I'm not THAT stupid.  I knew even before finishing my second 100 at Umstead in April that this one was going to be the toughest one of the three.  So I planned accordingly and left the start line at the slowest trot I could manage without wanting to shoot myself.  Who knew that in about 20 hours, this pace would seem like a sprint.

The Meltdown:
Or maybe this should be called the upchuck.  My stomach started giving all those bad little tell tale signs in the mid teens and by mile 20, it started working in reverse.  This was before it even got very hot out and my pace was still a very easy jog.  No Bueno!  I started with just burp pukes in my mouth and spitting them out on the move, but I knew I was in serious trouble.  At the 26.5 mile mark was a parking lot where my crew met me and I sat on the back of the van for a min to try and settle my stomach.  I believe it was one bite of honey stinger waffle that started Niagara Falls.  It was pretty bad.  Enough came out that Steve said the puddle went from the back of the van and had reached past the front passenger tire before they got rolling again.  Worst thing was that it still showed signs of what was for dinner the night before.  Leads me to believe I had some stomach issues before the day started and that pretty much, no matter what, there was no way going 74 more miles was going to help them go away.  So what do you do?  Go 74 more miles anyway.

I wonder if I can crawl in here?
The Heat:
Holy smokes the heat.  It was very hot and humid.  I was drenched and dripping off every part of my body.  Dani gets the engineer of the year award when she figured out she could tie my calf compression sleeves together at the end, rubber band them together, fill them with ice and rubber band them back together around my neck.  Fancy handy work seen in pic to the left.  So a Ziploc bag of ice in my hat, my neck wrapped with ice filled calf sleeves, topped off ice water bottle to squirt on my arms and I still felt like I was on fire.  These all had to be refilled every mile or two.  The run/walk/puke kept up for the rest of the day.  After awhile I just stopped trying to get anything to stay down because I was tired of puking it back up.  I was so thirsty but I just could not drink.  Anything more than half a swallow would start my stomach heaving again.  I learned to squirt water in my mouth, swish it around to kill the thirst and then just spit it back out.  Not good when you are going 100 miles in heat and humidity.  But somehow I managed some kind of forward progression.  The last 25 miles took me a grueling nine and a half hours.  It was not actually a crawl, but I should have tried that since it probably would have moved me faster.  But I pushed it, sucked it up and finished.  27 hours 17 mins.  The cramps were agonizing in all my leg muscles, the blisters became huge after so long on my feet with horrible form from the cramps and the overall body soreness was like nothing I have ever felt.  I have never hurt this bad from anything in my life.  Marine Corps boot camp, Police Academy, SWAT school, Ironman.  All equivalent to a pin prick on your finger compared to this.  But I finished where most other would not have wanted to.  Or been able to for that matter.  And that still makes it a good day in my book.
Skin from largest blister on right foot.

The Aftermath:
To the best of my knowledge and after some extensive post race research, I'm pretty sure there were no blood drawing check points during the race.  No one waiting to stick me and fill up an empty vile with my name on it.  No awaiting courier to drive it to an awaiting lab technician who would then send word if I had any medical issues.  I do however know the signs of Rhabdo.  The most prominent one being cola or tea colored urine.  This sign I did not have.  Most other signs are the same signs as dehydration and of just running a 100 miles.  My urine was frequent and clear so I just figured the pain and discomfort the next couple days was from the hell I just forced my body through on almost no nutrition.  When I still wasn't feeling too hot Tue, I went to see the doc who did a urine test on the spot and said it looked fine and drew some blood to send to the lab.  The next morning she was a little worried over some of the liver numbers and wanted me to have an ultra sound done on my organs to make sure they were still there.  Apparently, the important blood test, the Creatine Kinase takes a bit longer to come back.  But when it did, my phone blew up.  I'm pretty sure everyone at Kaiser called me in a 15 min period telling me to go the ER right away because I had Rhabdo and acute kidney failure.  Who knew?  So they admitted me and held me captive over night while they pumped IV bag after IV bag in me.  The next day they said I had made great progress getting my numbers to come down and said I could go home as long as I promised to keep drinking water and Gatorade.  Stay in hospital with IV stuck in me or go home and drink Gatorade?  No brainer.  For you number nerds or those who understand just what the hell they mean, here are some of the blood result numbers that caused Kaiser to blow a gasket: Liver ALT: norm 33, mine 421.  Liver ASP: norm 41, mine 775.  BUN: norm 8-20, mine 81.  Creatinine: norm .6 to 1.3, mine 4.1.  And the winner Creatine Kinase: norm 38 to 174, mine 32,821.  As I write this, I am still working on getting all these back to normal.  Another blood test scheduled tomorrow and hoping they are all back under control.  I am not exaggerating when I say that I have pissed once every hour since the Tuesday after the race.  And I am including night time during when most people would be sleeping through the night with maybe one bathroom interruption.  Oh well, at least its flushing me out and everything is getting back to normal.

Me and the crew at the start.

The Crew:
Worked their asses off.  I felt so bad for them.  At one point they were stopping every mile to refill me with ice and attempt to keep me cool.  I can never express enough thanks.  This one I can truly say I would not have made it through without them.  Thanks to Dani as crew chief, my brother Steve and good friend Jimmy.  Also props to Stephen Spencer who helped crew Tatyana to 1st place female and a new course record on the 50 miler, without the help of any negative infidels.   I also have to mention a woman I met at the start.  Down to earth awesome attitude.  She chatted with me for a bit at the start like I was her equal.  I had no idea until after that I was talking to Pam Reed.  She is basically the female Dean Karnazes.  She did Ironman St George the weekend before, won the Keys 100 2011 that day and had Ironman TX planned the next weekend!  What an absolute beast.  She is doing Badwater this year and my money is definitely on her to win the women's race.  Total BAMF.  My final thoughts on the race?  It was a bad day, no doubt about it.  But I still wouldn't have traded the experience.  Whether it be a good day or a bad day, this race was proof, in more ways than one, that a positive attitude can get you through anything.

Keys by the Numbers:
100- Miles in the heat and humidity on pavement and black top.
95- Number of starters for the 2011 Keys 100
74- Miles completed after total stomach shut down
50- Number of drop outs for the 2011 Keys 100
45- Number of finishers for the 2011 Keys 100
44- Number of stops my crew made to tend to me
27- Place overall
21- Number of 10lb bags of ice my crew went through
20- Miles into the race when I started puking
5- Number of shoe changes
4- Number of sock changes
3- Number of times I fell asleep while actually walking
2- Number of times I saw the sun rise during the race
1- Number of times I fell asleep sitting down
.75- Miles left when Dani said I actually started complaining
0- Number of times I thought of quitting

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go."

Monday, April 18, 2011

"How you know Timmy?"

Tim and his Dad. Loved meeting these guys!

This is Dani, guest blogger, writing about my experience as "Crew Chief" for Jason. I am ADD so there is no promises that my thoughts will go in any order that make sense.

I LOVE crewing. Not because Jason is my boyfriend and I have to, but because I actually enjoy it. The way I see it, if you are dumb/tough/serious/insane enough to run 100 miles then I will do everything I can to help you. Whether I know you or not really isn't that important. This brings us to Timmy, and the title of my blog post. Timmy (Tim) met Jason around mile 4 of Umstead. He was crewing for himself out of race headquarters and Jason offered my services. His dad was in town but at the hotel watching basketball. He happened to drive up at the exact moment that Tim and Jason came through a pitstop. Tim told him I had his stuff and ran off. He looks at me and says (insert Long Island accent) "How you know Timmy?" Me: "I don't know him" Timmy's dad: "Well why you got all his stuff?" After me explaining myself and him warming up to me he started telling me stories about Tim and his ultra-running career. He started to leave and asked me a million times if I was SURE that I was staying in that EXACT spot. He walked to the car and brought back a target bag. "This is Timmy's turkey sandwich. Make sure he eats it. When are they gonna be done?" I looked at my pace schedule and told him 18:30. He looked at me a little skeptically and said that Tim wanted to break 20 hours. "As long as he sticks with Jason he will do an 18:30" I replied. Still somewhat skeptical he left with plans on being back at 18:30 into the race to watch Tim finish. I feel fairly confident he thought I was strange. I was helping his kid that I had never met before. I thought he was awesome because he barely trusted me with a turkey sandwich. Smart man!!

Around this time our friend Jill's friend Rachel showed up. She rocked. Never met any of us but since she lived in Raleigh she offered to run a lap with Chuck. While they were running a chick came through crying telling us about a homeless man that jumped out of the woods and starting attacking runners. Apparently he got a few punches in the faces of runners before someone held him down. My thought was "Awesome. Jason is out there fighting crime and I get to listen to him complain about how it added to his time." Turns out someone else was the crime stopper. When Rachel and Chuck came back I told her about it. She wasn't surprised telling me that there were several incidents like that. Seriously? That's crazy. I didn't give it much more thought.

Time passed by SO quickly during this race! Having Yvonne, Stephen, and Brett there made a HUGE difference. They so funny and the group dynamics were perfect. Yvonne and Stephen went out with Chuck on a lap which left me and Brett to man the crew area. Two ADD peeps. Good choice. At this point Jason would be headed out on mile 75 when he came through. My "plan" was to run the last 12.5 mile loop with him. But I wasn't sure how he would feel so I decided that I "could" run the last 25 if he needed. When Jason came through I was on the phone and Brett was watching basketball. I told Brett to see if he wanted me to run with him and he told me yes and that he wanted Gatorade. Gatorade?!? That is NOT on the list of typed instructions! Crap! We didn't even HAVE Gatorade! We stole some of Chucks powerade and off we went.

After about 15 miles I realized that it was a BAD idea to commit to the last 25. I have never run 25 miles in training in my life. But whatever. It's slow miles right? After 18 miles Jason wasn't feeling so hot. His stomach was a mess. He tried to eat a gel and immediately got sick. Major sick. He was heaving all over the place when I started to smell cigarette smoke. Now I am typically not someone who is afraid of things, but all I could think about was Rachel telling me about homeless people in the woods. I am eying my man who could normally take out pretty much anyone and he is projectile vomiting. My mind was RACING. I was seriously freaking out. I kept my mouth shut and tried to be as encouraging as possible although I was fairly confident that I was getting ready to be attacked. Woods+darkness+creepy people= not my favorite place to run. Lesson learned, next time I will pace with appropriate weapons.

I kinda tricked Jason a few times with the race time. Honestly I just wanted to get the hell outta the dark creepy woods. My math skills aren't the best but I was roughly thinking that there was a pretty good chance that 18:30 was dead on. I was right! Jason crossed the finish line in 18:29:05 and Timmy? 18:29:54. His dad was thrilled! Chuck rocked it out too coming in a bit later. Kept up his amazing attitude the whole time.

One of the coolest parts of the race was that it was 20 minutes from my dad's house so he came out. As a former Marine and Cop he is NOT easily impressed. He is never one to let anything go to your head and the next day he looked the results up. Best quote ever "Did you see that the winning time was 14:07? Jesus. I thought Jason did good. That's FOUR AND A HALF HOURS! He got his ass kicked!" Gotta love dad!

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flames by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." -Albert Schweitzer

Thank you Jason, Chuck, Tim, Eric, Tony and all the other Umstead runners who poured their hearts into the race for your inspiration! My spirit is officially rekindled. I am ready to run!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

No quit in this body..........mostly.

The Umstead runners Eric, Tony, Chuckles and OB
Umstead 100 mile endurance run is held in Umstead Park just outside Raleigh, NC.  It consists of a twelve and a half mile loop completed 8 times.  Each loop had several out and back section that allowed us to see other runners in front and behind us.  This was a nice bonus since I knew a few other guys doing the race.  Chuck came up from GA and two buddies I met at Bartram 100 last year, Tony and Eric, came down from NY.  The bonus being that when you see people you actually know out there, it is a definite pick me up as you cross paths and exchange "good jobs" and "way to gos" with each other.  The course is mostly hard pack gravel road with zero technical sections, rolling hills and a few short steep climbs on the "sweet" section of the lolly pop. 

The start was a surprise.  Literally.  Chuck and I were standing in the crowd with Dani, Yvonne, Brett and Leeb chatting, laughing and taking pictures when all of a sudden, BANG.  A gun went off.  Instinctively, I reached for my side arm, realized I was unarmed, remembered where I was and began running all within 2.4 seconds.  As far as I know, there was no on your mark, get set, here we go, get your head out of your ass, nothing.  Just BANG.  So we were off.

I started the race with the same plan as the last 100 miler and that was to run all run able sections and walk the significant hills.  Somewhere around mile 3 or 4 I met Tim.  We hooked up and started ticking off the miles together.  He is a school teacher from NY and a lifeguard during the summer.  We swapped some stories for awhile and came to the point in the conversation about who came to see us race, crew, and support us during our journey.  Tim told me his father had come down to see the race but that he wasn't much of a crewing type.  Knowing how much Dani loves to pick up stray racers and crew for them, I told him that it was nonsense to crew himself and when we came back in to end the loop, I told him to grab his stuff and dump it off at my crew area.  This is one of the things I love about ultra distance races.  You meet people, realize they are great folks and help each other achieve their goals in any way possible instead of looking at everyone as the competition and willing to cut throats in order to be one more place up in the finishing stats.  Well this move worked out good for both of us.  He was able to return the favor by being a "racing pacer" with me.  We weren't always the same exact pace as we traded places back and forth a few times for the remainder of the race, but we had a great time running and were able to help push each other through the miles.  We came up with a system to keep ourselves running on the run able sections and not walking too early on the hills.  We picked out spots on the course that would be our walking markers for the hills.  It’s amazing how much of the course you can memorize in just 8 loops.  When we were feeling good the conversation went:  Tim- "OK, where you want to walk this hill at?"  Me- "Uh, see that big fat pine on the right close to the road?  Let’s walk from there." Tim- "Sounds like a plan".  When we were tired, it was more like: Tim- "Where?" Me- "Log on left." Tim- "Cool."  But no matter what, we stuck to the plan and whenever we hit the markers, we walked.  The crest of a hill feels oh so sweet after the climb so that was always the unspoken spot to get the run going again.  Our plan worked great and I still had enough energy to run all the same sections on the last loop that I ran on the first loop. 

 Tim and I coming in from a lap.

At every stop, my crew was asking how I was doing and did I need a pacer yet.  I was still feeling pretty strong physically and mentally and I knew we were going to be short on pacers between Chuck and I by the end of the race if I picked up someone too soon.  I told them don't worry about me and kept going.  I had so many people come out to support me on my first 100, I wanted Chuck to have the same experience for his first and figured I would leave everyone to help him out.  Dani insisted on coming out at the start of the 7th loop which was mile 75.  She tricked me by telling me she was going to just run the first few mile of this loop and then pick me back up for the last loop.  If I was on top of my game, I would've known she was full of it.  But late at night, tired, chilly and not thinking 100% straight, I fell for it.  So being the awesome trooper that she is, she ended up running the last 25 miles with me.  Let the record reflect that I was against this the whole time and did not want her to get injured, but I was also thankful to have her with me and enjoyed every second.  She is such an inspiration to me and has such a positive attitude at just the right times.  I said it in the last race report and will say it again and again.  Best.  Crew.  Chief.  Ever! 

Dani and Yvonne working hard.  Brett took the pic.  Leeb?  MIA.
A dear friend, who came out to the Guts Reactor 100 miler and paced me, came up with this motivational saying "No quit in this body, No quit in this mind."  She told me that she got inspiration from the fact that during her pacing duties, she realized that I had a continuous drive to keep moving forward no matter what the conditions or circumstances.  I am very proud of this fact and glad that I could inspire her to push through those tough times in her training on her quest to fulfill her dreams.  So I had this little piece of motivation in the back of my mind and was saving it for just the right time.  Well, I had to pull it from the back of my mind to the forefront at mile 4ish on the last lap.  I was starting to feel bloated and had the nagging suspicion that my stomach was mounting a revolution against me.  It materialized about 5 seconds after eating my last gel pack.  I don't recall ever vomiting so violently that I actually had a hard time catching my breath in between blahs.  The worst part about it was I was on the early section of a hill that lasted about 1.5 miles.  So I threw up, walked forward, threw up again, walked forward some more, ect, ect.  That is when Jill's ditty came in handy, with a slight modification.  "Ok so my stomach just quit on me, but there is no quit in my mind".  This kept me moving forward and when I finally stopped emptying the remainder of the liquid contents of my stomach, I was further up the hill and actually feeling better.  The dark place lasted less than two minutes.  Not too shabby.  I had just caught up to and passed Chuck a few miles back after exchanging a few ata-boys and keep it ups.  This was something else that kept me moving. If I slowed too much, Chuck might catch back up to me.  This wasn't out of competition that I was fearful of him catching me.  It was actually because I knew he had one more loop to complete and I was worried that if he saw me having a tough time on my last loop, it might work its way into his mind and cause him some doubt.  He was well on track of beating his goal time, but this deep into the race it comes down to more mental strength than physical ability.  So I was relieved when I crested the hill at a jog and felt increasingly better as we worked our way through the back section of the course.  The remainder of the loop was tough since I was now running on fumes and my stomach still didn't want to accept anything worthwhile.  Dani played more tricks on me with the possible finish times in order to push me as fast as I could go, although at that point there were really only two speeds.  Go or stop.  So go it was and I finished the last loop with a pretty decent pace and even had the energy to run the last short hill to the finish line.  I was so excited I forgot to tell the time keeper my number like I had done at 15 other points in the race.  She yelled at me.  I didn't care.  I was DONE!
My kind of bling bling baby.
All in all, everyone had a great race.  Tim had a tough time between lap 7 and 8 with some stomach issues of his own, but I was happy to see him a few minutes after I finished telling me he was only 50 seconds behind me.  He must have really killed the last lap because he dropped the volunteer pacer he had picked up!  Chuck ended up breaking his 24 hour goal by an hour and got to receive the "100 Miles One Day" belt buckle.  I'm so proud of Chuck for finishing his first 100 in style and smiling the whole time.  Eric did great by setting a new PR by 3 hours.  Tony just came off a huge journey that took him over 350 miles of running on the Caminho Da Fe in Brazil and was still only 4 minutes off his time from last year.  I managed to hit 18 hours 29 minutes, which was an hour and a half faster than my goal.  Even going through a rough patch, I am very happy I was still able to come out with such a great result.  Huge thanks as always to my crew chief Dani and crew Yvonne, Brett and Leeb.  Also I have to mention my new friend Iman.  This guy is just over flowing with a positive energy force and I enjoyed seeing his happy smiling face every time I passed his area.  It was like getting an extra little electrical charge.  If you stop and think about the fact that these guys spend a whole weekend out in the woods, sitting around bored, waiting to see us for two minutes every two and a half hours while they fill bottles and shove food and pills down our throat and go run with us in the middle of the night all to help us fulfill our dreams, you might realize they are just as crazy as we are.  So the least we could do was have a shirt made for them, right?

"There may be people who have more talent than you, but there is no excuse for anyone to work harder than you!"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Money in da bank!"

Pre-race with the best crew chief ever.
Guts Reactor Run 100 mile trail run.  Sat March 5th 0630.  The course was a figure eight with the large loop being 13 miles and the small loop being 7.3 and completing each five times.  Total mileage by my calculations was 101.5 miles with total elevation gain around 11,000.  Rain and chilly air greeted us at the start line and would prove to be the theme of the day.  Scratch that.  On second thought the theme of the day was MUD!  The course was 80% single track and 20% jeep roads.  The single track sections were pure mud.  Shoe sucking, flowing over the top, no way to go around it mud.  The jeep roads were semi hard pack gravel which quickly turned to more mud once enough rain fell.  Some of the mud was squishy.  Some of the mud was slippery making uphill climbs next to impossible and downhill descents more like skiing than actual running.  Some of the mud was the sticky kind that layered over and over on the bottom of the shoes.  Some of the mud was pure suction that continually tugged at the shoes attempting to claim them as a prize.  Some of the mud was deep enough to flow over into the shoes even with gators on and then squirt back out on the next step only to repeat the process.  I even think some of the mud was slipping and sliding on itself, but this was never verified.  Ok moving on.  Did I mention it was muddy?


I won’t bore you with details of each lap.  I ran all the run able sections and walked most of the hills right from the word go.  This was very hard to do for me but I knew I had the longest day of my racing career in front of me so no need to rush it.  I came into the race with two goals.  The first, as always with any challenge of this magnitude, was to finish.  Short of a bone poking through the skin, I was pretty sure I had this one in the bag even before the first step.  The second was to finish in less than 24 hours.  Once the rain was falling and I saw just how bad the conditions on the trail were, I wasn’t too sure about this one.  In order to keep me on track for this, I devised a timing plan that I labeled "The Bank".  Five twenty mile laps gave me 4 hour and 48 mins to complete each.  So I gave myself 3 hours for the big loop and 1:48 to the small loop.  Every minute under those times would be extra time in my bank.  So the plan was to put time in the bank at the beginning and not withdraw too much by the end to keep me under 24.  My crew chief and totally awesome girlfriend was in charge of keeping track and it worked like a charm.  I assumed I would be withdrawing time out of this bank after the half way point, but when I kept coming in under the allotted time for each lap, I was getting more and more excited. 

In my job and in the areas that I work, I come across a lot of music that I really don’t consider "music" and requires no talent at all to "compose".  Yet somehow these songs get stuck in my head and become inside jokes with friends and coworkers.  One in particular became an inside joke with me and my brother.  The song's main (and I think only) lyrics are:  "I got money in the bank, shawty whatcha drank." (if you haven’t heard this, you tube "Lil Scrappy Money in the bank" to get the full effect at your own risk).  This became a line between me and my brother (also a cop) anytime we would talk about money or banks.  It was to the point where it was almost uncontrollable and would be stuck in our heads for the remainder of the day after one of us sang it.  So half way through the race when I realized I was still putting time in my 24 hour bank, this lyric popped up and became the theme of each stop at my crew area.  It was probably more for me to help take my mind off of the growing miles and to keep up with my positive attitude during the later miles in the race.  Either way it worked as I was able to keep putting "money in the bank" for every lap on the course.  Side note, at this point, I was still 100% upright for the race.  No falls.

The later miles came with a bit more rain and dropping temps, but my attitude stayed positive and I was able to make pretty fast crew stops and get back out on the trail.  I never hit "the wall" and never found the "dark place" that are famous in ultra marathons.  Probably the lowest point was at mile 53 when I came in the crew tent.  I had a shoes and socks change that slowed my stationary time down a bit and I quickly became extremely cold.  That’s when I could actually feel my mind shutting down.  I was having a hard time making the words in my head come out and was told that my eyes looked very distant.  Probably had the early stages of hypothermia.  So being the awesome crew that I had, they realized this, threw me gloves, stuck a beanie on my head and got me back on my way with a couple pacers one lap earlier than we had originally planned.  No worries since so many good friends showed up to help out that I still had plenty left for the remainder.  Joe and Lauren weren’t even actual scheduled pacers and ended up being a perfect fit.  The cloudy head and even the beanie only lasted a half a mile.  I ripped off the hat and stuck it in my pocket and was feeling great again once I got warmed back up on the trail.  Contrary to my worries about the pacers being miserable, they were actually having a great time and enjoying the crazy conditions.  Kind of speaks to what kind of friends I have.  Positive attitudes and crazy personalities.  Joe fell and semi took out Lauren, but we didn’t count it against Lauren as a fall.  I still kept my wheels down.

Quick fuel stop and still smiling!

That was the last lap in the light.  I got back at mile 60 and did a much faster crew stop and headed out with my brother with headlamps and small flashlights in hand.  I had come out a few weeks earlier and did a 25 mile training run on this course at night to see how different it would be.  I never once got lost or even questioned where I was even with criss crossing trails, hidden trail heads and crossing jeep trails everywhere.  So I was pretty confident headed out in the dark.  May have been a little over confident.  What I didn’t plan on was running it at night in the fog and rain and mud after 60 miles of fatigue were in my legs and head.  This proved to be a bit more challenging than my night training run.  The trail’s turns and intersections were not very well marked due to weak chem lights in the fog and I found myself second guessing a few of the turns.  We never got all the way lost, but it definitely had more of my attention.  Either way I was again pleased to know that my pacer was having a blast as he had never run in any of the above conditions.  Yet another positive attitude and happy go lucky loop.  Steve fell more than anyone, but to his credit, he was hardcore (hard headed) enough to come out with road shoes.  Me?  Still upright.

Chuck bleeds!

Back in at 73 for what seemed like an even faster crew stop, although this might be my imagination by now.  I headed back out with my new pacer Chuck.  We are both doing Umstead in April so he already had 30 miles in his legs from earlier in the day and still came out to haul me around another 7 in the mud.  Yet again another great loop and we were both having a blast and talking smack.  Chuck fell too, just saying.  In fact, he managed the most mangled injury of the night and with only a quarter mile left in his pacing loop.  Congrats Chuck!  You win the “Doh” award of the night.

Jill after her mud swan dive
At mile 80 I was excited to know I was picking up Jill the "Poonstar" Poon.  She was possibly the most excited about coming out and crewing and pacing for the race short of my girlfriend Dani.  And I love to feed off of other peoples positive vibes.  She is full of them so I knew I was in for a good loop.  Within half a mile I heard a voice behind us and I thought "Damn I must be slowing down cause I’m about to get looped."   I was relieved to find out it was Yvonne.  When she realized how much fun everyone was having out on the course, she quickly stole Lauren's trail shoes and tracked us down.  The very motivating theme of this loop?  Last time I've got to do this hill/climb/decent/aid station/turn/whatever.  And just as I thought, both ladies helped keep me in good spirits.  Who wouldn’t be happy running with two lovely ladies in the dark, right?  Jill had an ever so graceful swan dive into a puddle and wins best fall of the night.  Im pretty sure she actually disappeared for a full second under mud and water when I heard her trip and turned around to see.  Yvonne stayed upright and I was now just one loop away from keeping my feet facing the mud the whole time.

Crew stop at mile 93 was more like NASCAR tire change.  Hand me two bottles and giddy up.  I headed out with Leeb and my girlfriend/crew chief/best sherpa in the world, Dani.  I owe her so much for this race I can’t even begin to thank her.  She was the only one there from start to finish and actually ended up with around 40 hours straight of no sleep.  Course that might have been the overdose of 5 hour energy, ripped fuel, red bulls and chocolate covered espresso beans.  Well she had probably the most fun out of all the pacers while she was jumping into puddles two feet at a time like an 8 year old in galoshes.  Leeb was excited too as he thought he was going to get to pace someone earlier in the night that needed help but they bagged the lap a quarter mile in.  So halfway through the loop I started asking about time and doing some math.  At this point I knew I would be able to crawl it in under 24 hours, but had no clue I was about to blow it away.  I asked the aid station volunteers if the rumor my crew was getting was correct and that I was in second place.  They verified and so I took off again with paranoid thoughts of getting caught at the end and losing a place.  I had no dreams of placing at all but once it was there, I wasn’t going to give it away.  The rest of the loop I was asking Dani and Leeb if they saw any lights coming up behind us.  They kept reassuring me I was fine and would hopefully not have to pull out a sprint finish.  Leeb took off at the end of this loop with about a half a mile to go to let my peeps know I was on my way to the finish.  What an amazing feeling!  The smile on my face says it all.  I’m pretty sure that if it got any bigger it would swallow my whole face.  See video below.  Dani fell several times.  Leeb stayed up.  And me?  Hell yes.  Stayed on my feet in the slick, muddy ass, dark, tired, wet, cold, technical conditions for 101.5 miles.  There should be an award just for that.

Many thanks to all that came out in support.  Jill Poon, Chuck Mathison, Joe Whitwell, Lauren and Rudy Cortjens, Yvonne Bedell, Stephen Leeb,  the older OB, Steve and Tat Spencer, Sarah Bell and always special thanks to the one and only Dani Grabol.  I would’ve done it either way, but you guys made it faster and 100 times more fun.  I’m very proud to call you wild and crazy folks my friends.  Congrats in order to all finishers of all distances in such tough conditions.  Thanks to Tony the RD for putting on the race and assuring that we were not short changed on mileage.  Thanks to Alex Poon for taking care of the boys while Jill came and played in the mud.  Thanks to All3Sports for the tent and gear.  Without that tent, it may have been a totally different story.  And you can never say enough thanks to all the volunteers that braved those conditions and keep us going all night.  They could have just as easily stayed at home in a warm bed but their dedication out there is always much appreciated.

The  OB CREW!!

Race stats: Official time 21:41:47.  2nd place overall.  45 people did not start.  54 started the 100, only 17 finished.  9 DNF and the rest dropped down to shorter distance.  The winner was an hour and a half ahead of me.  Third place was an hour and half behind me.  Apparently those paranoid thoughts were misplaced on the last lap, but you never know.  I just knew I was going to hear Dan Arnett’s voice coming up behind me at the end.

Lessons Learned: 
1.      If a body part even has a fleeting thought of rubbing another body part, put body glide, vaseline, chamois butter, spit, snot, something, anything on it.
2.  Just because conditions are horrible, doesn’t necessarily mean     attitudes have to be.
3.  When you think your flashlight is dying, try wiping the mud off the lens first, DUH.
4.  In a cold, rainy and wet ultra, don’t ever ever ever forget nipple band aids.  Ever.
5.  Good friends make everything better.
6.  Injinji socks rock in any conditions.  Feet should’ve been hamburger.  Not one blister.
7.  Danielle Grabol is the most dedicated girlfriend in the world, hands down.  End of discussion.

An awesome poem quote that kept my attitude positive:
“It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”

Up Next??  Umstead…..Bitches!

Monday, February 28, 2011

My new blog.

Recently I was inspired by a friend's blog and gained motivation for training and racing through his training tips and running info.  Most people who know me would probably say that I would benefit from being unmotivated more than anything, but yes, I do find motivation in reading about other people's lives.

So why start a blog? I decided that my passion to live life and accomplish my goals could be shared and possibly help people get out there and live their dreams.  It doesn't have to be through running, racing, working out or any other extreme things some of us do, but rather any life goals in general.  If I could motivate one person to put aside excuses and go after the things they want to achieve in life, than it would be worth it to me to share my stories.  After all, "Everyone dies, but not everyone lives".