Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The cliche "Year in Review"

You might be a bad blogger if....
....... it has been so long since your last post, you have to sign in again because your computer does not recognize the website. :)

Yes, as cliche as it is, I am deciding to do the year in review for one reason, I actually had a good year!

And for the first time in almost 30 years of running, I actually achieved one of my "secret" goals.

In short, here it is

Ran my first 100K
PR'd my 50 Mile (Ice Age - Won my age group.... the Lapham gang are still wondering how I pulled that off with an 8:41)

And the big one.... Kettle 100.
-Beat my best 50K time
-Beat my 100K
-Ran my second fastest 50M
-Ran sub 20
-Got my first top 10 finish (in a race where there were more than 10 runners)

And then it was all downhill after that.

A killer Voyageur (glad to just finish it)

A DNF at Superior (yes, it still stings).

BUT..... I learned a ton about myself this year, and learned some key elements of training and racing.

Oh yeah.... I won my first race ever! The 10K the week after Kettle in the middle of North Dakota. The competition wasn't deep, but I will take it. 42:something won the race (it was like running with concrete shoes I was so sore).

So the down time of blogging is almost over. Training season about to start. Not sure what is in store, but I am grateful for:

- The health and well being to be able to show up to any race
- The great friends I have made on the trails (okay.... even you cool hand)
- People who are willing to read this

Merry New Year (It's happy new year, dimwit) Movie?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The last month in review

If 1 post per month becomes the pattern, I might just end this blog. It has been low priority on a list that has become challenging.

It has been a challenging month in my work life, so I have been able to put my ultra skills to work. What I am going through now is a lot like the second half of an ultra, minus the death march (I hope). If you know who I work for, Google news them and you will get it.

On the good side, I am back to a consistent schedule of 8M/day 5-6 times per week. Nice and easy.

*******************

I was back in Wisconsin last week, and ended up participating in Jeff's "Funk Road 50". Celebrate someone's birthday by running a 50k on a week night. File it under "Sounded like a good idea at the time".

Somehow, I ended up running the first 8 miles or so with the fast boys and got pounded by them. On one of the out and backs, I decided to ease off and run with 2 women who started earlier and were running slower. They were Cathy Drexler and Christine Crawford.

Cathy is a hardcore volunteer at Superior, so it was to actually talk to her. Christine is a fellow beer snob, so she gets props for that. I don't know if she has a reputation as a sandbagger, but when we were finally about 2 miles from the 25k turnaround, she kept saying we were 6 miles out. I kept thinking, "Wow, I have really lost my conditioning and sense distance". She is recovering from an injury, and is used to running about 5 minutes faster for pace.

The two of them saved me from missing a turn (the whole race was in the dark, and well marked, but I missed a small arrow on a road).

At the turnaround I figured 25k was enough on a school night, and I got the "awww, come on"s. Sorry. Ron Bero had a similar case of the "I don't want tos".

Todd E and I raided Jeff's fridge back at his house looking for beer. Never found it. I find out later it was on the porch in a cooler.

Thanks Lapham gang.

*****************

I spent some time in Kansas City and ran a short route with a few KC Trail Nerds. I don't think they were ready to go hammer out 3 hours of hills as I was that night. So we did about an hour at the Psycho Wyco Course. I also got a run in at Shawnee Mission Park.

I did get out to St. Louis, and Travis suggested I hit "Chubb". I got there 15 minutes before the sun went down, and got kind of lost. Luckily, I kept it close. It is one of those parks which closes "1/2 hour after sunset". I never know when that actually is. That is a bad ass course.

*****************

More to come

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Lapham Drinking Club

They call themselves the "Lapham Peak Trail Runners".

I saw Lapham Peak, I saw trails, I saw runners, but I saw a lot of drinking, eating and hanging out. This could be one of those drinking clubs with a running problem.

I was dumb enough to bring a decent stash of homebrew thinking "hmmm, this is more than enough". I returned with 1 or 2 of mine, and a case of 12 oz Blatz in cans. Blasphemy!

As with many trail running groups, these guys and gals are fun to be around and not at all pretentious. They have a lot to be pretentious about, if they chose to. I think 5 of the guys I was out there with ran Ice Age 50 in under 8 hours. Me, being the 8:40 runner felt rather inadequate. One of them won it outright last year. So these guys (and girls) can run.

Brad and Julie (I think at least one of them have been at every ultra I have run) were there tearing up the trail. They both had just run Wild Duluth 100K, and Glacial 50M, I believe (and were going to run the North Face races that weekend). They should go for Gnarly Bandit next year.

So I got to run the stairs, and that tower everybody has probably seen. It is on the Trailbreaker Marathon. Picture of it here.



I guess we did the "Black Looop", but I am not sure. All I know is that they ran all of the hills, and 1 hour was enough for me.

So then we hung out for a couple of hours doing what trail runners do best. Talk about boring stories of..... Glory Days. (you are supposed to sing that a la "The Boss").

Kevin Grabowski, the self appointed "Good Looking One", took these pictures.




That's the famous Dave Diehar on the right, Me, Brad Birkholz, and Julie Treder.

As you can see, a fine smorgasboard of trail runner fuel.

I might be back for the Funk Road 50, a race celebrating Jeff Mallach's 50th birthday (it starts at 6:03 PM on a Tuesday, 50K). I have a sales blitz that day and the next in WI. Not sure if I can do my job, sandwiching in a 50K at night, but might be fun to try. (although, might be tough to explain)

You might be an ultra runner if.....
.... You work all day, and then run a 50K at night, sleep for a few hours, and go back to work (I am no desk jockey).

So thank you to the Lapham gang.
Dave, Joel, Ron, Kevin, Brad, Todd, Angela, Deb?, Julie, Jeff, Craig, and I think a few others. They are a fun bunch. And they now how to "List Trash Talk". The MN Dead Runners used to be good at this, but I think the list got to big for constant back an forth smart ass remarks.

And.... this got me back to running again. Steady 8 mile runs daily again, but nice and slow.

Thoughts and ideas brewing for the winter. Will have some posted by the end of the week.

Good luck to all who are running Surf the Murph this weekend. I am opting out to spend time with the family (don't you hate that lame-ass cop out?).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spoke too soon

As soon as I started to bask in my self pity and lameness, I looked at my schedule for the next 2 weeks.

Being in Wisconsin Wed-Fri, I thought I would give Kevin of the Lapham gang a shout to see if he was up for showing me the "Lapham Loop" on Wed. Turns out there is a group run there on Wed night.

Turns out he emailed the whole group saying I would be there. So, I offered to bring some brew, and now I am running again (tomorrow).

I think they are going to try and bury me, but Afton is my home course.... and I have many miles on the Superior trail. How hard could it be? (famous last words).

On a good note, I slept a full night 2 Nights in a row. No coughing! yeah!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Trying to get back on the wagon

I hit the perfect storm.

Lots of work, extensive travel, family stuff, eating like crap, and sick. Running is the last thing on my mind, and I don't care.

I need the time off. At least to rebuild mentally.

One of the harder things about training for ultras is not the long runs. It is the daily 8-10 milers at an easy pace. I made them a daily ritual, and it paid off.

I have basically been doing that for about 11 months now, and I am ready for a break.

I will probably start up with something November 1st. I have some ideas for competition between me and some of those of you who read this. All for fun, but more importantly to keep me going.

Stay tuned

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Still Alive

Work has a funny way of putting a kink in the running schedule.

7 of the last 8 weeks I have been on the road for 1-5 nights per week. It is catching up to me. At least now I am on my own, and able to set my own schedule. Thus, when on the road, I can bail at 5pm and go run somewhere for a few hours (instead of joining others for dinner). I am sure I have packed on a few pounds.

Not sure if the race season is over for me, or if I will venture out and do Surf the Murph 50M. I would like to, but if I am low on desire/ambition, etc, it could turn ugly.

I will be out spectating at the Twin Cities Marathon tomorrow. Good luck to all who are running. I will be cheering at around mile 24.

I might be wearing a poncho in case Nic decides to yawn in technicolor as he goes by.

I am going for a run now.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

He's Got the Power

Kevin Grabowski coming into to his 3rd place finish.

Add a 2 in front of the 8 on that race clock
video

Monday, September 14, 2009

Superior Sawtooth 100 report

You might be an ultra runner if.....

You go an extra 12 miles in a race just to prove to everybody you can't go anymore.

I was done at 50, but nobody believed me. Cry me a river. They made me go to mile 58, a new crew access aid station. (code for - can't drop here).

I rolled into 50 saying "I have nothing to prove, I don't need to be out here anymore". I was just wanting to go home and crawl in bed.

Bill Pomerenke, my crew, had to put up with my crap for a while. Thanks Bill.

Saturday, sitting at the finish area, I was with Brad Birkholz and I said to someone "I knew I was done at 50". This person asked "How did you know?". Both Brad and said "YOU JUST KNOW".

This was not a funk. My stomach had gone south and that caused a chain reaction of everything else falling apart.

But the long and short of it is.... I am cool with it. To finish would have meant spending a lot time at aid stations as well as tearing my body to pieces. I did that last year, had no desire to do that this year. I was out there to do something different. I am glad I tried. It made the event a different feel and experience than last year.

******************

The journey to the start line

Being on the road for work created more of a challenge than I expected. I sat in the Houston Airport looking at my flight get delayed 5 minutes... 10 minutes... 1/2 hour. I kept doing the math. This will be a short night of sleep.

Bill met me at my house at 8:15pm and we left around 8:30. We arrived at Gooseberry (hotel) around 11:30, and head hit the pillow at midnight. At least I can sleep in until 6:30. I woke up at 4:50.

Combined previous 2 night sleep around 11 hours. Both a result of me just waking up around 5am, my usual time. Not good.

********************

The Start

I see Daryl Saari right off the bat as he holds up a newspaper with the headline "400lb bear killed at Finland" (Finland is the half way mark. Someone asked if that made me nervouse. My response "Not really. I don't plan on being the slowest runner out there, so I should be okay".

Larry gave one of his priceless speaches. Included in the speech was "In the extreme case you have to drop, notify a ham radio operator". I chimed in and said "Don't you mean the likely case?"

*********************

The First Few Legs

Adam Harmer and I decided we would run the first 50 together, but running our own races. We were cool if one of us had to back off or pull ahead. A group of us went out in a pack right at the start, and by the time we hit the bridge, Angus Repper started to pull away.

Angus looked back at us with an expression saying "Is anybody coming with me". I was a smartass and said "Go ahead, have fun!". I turned to everybody else and said "That guy is doomed, you can't do that pace out here". Turns out he showed us how it was done by winning the race.

Kevin Grabowski, Wouter (The Belgium Guy), and Chris Hanson took off together. It was at that point that I put my money on Hanson. I have seen him run this course, and he is patient, calm, and does not get caught up doing stupid stuff (like the rest of us). I think I even said that we would catch Kevin becuase it looked like they were going "guns a blazing". Kevin ended up bring the heat and kicked some serious ass. It must have been his cool looking shorts.

We soon grouped a pack together consisting of Adam, Sean Faulk, and the guy from Mexico. I deduced that the english equivalent to his name was "Bill". I made a trade with Sean - a few S caps for a week long stay at his cabin in Finland. Remember that Sean? You must have been out of it, because you basically said I can go there anytime I want :)

Soon the pack grew, and we had Bryce Carlson (Georgia), Jason Boon, Ryan Flynn, Scott Meyers, and at least 1 or 2 others. I had a suspicion Boon was waiting to turn on the heat. He had an amazing Afton 50K and Voyageur 50 Mile.

At that point I said "26 hours will win this race". A few said that the runners ahead were trying to break 24. I knew from experience that you have to be a top dog bad ass to do that, and only four guys have done that. None of us out there were at that level. Around that time Adam said "statistically speaking, half of us won't make it there". As far as I know, Bryce was the only one in that pack to end up finishing.

*************************

Things get tough

We knew it was a warm and humid day. In hindsight, we were in denial. At least I was. I kept pretneding it was not as humid as it was. I kept expecting Lake Superior to bless us with her cool breezes. No such luck.

Leaving the Beaver Bay aid station was the first of the mountain climbs in the exposed sun. At this point, you are climbing a couple of hundred feet at a time, but there was not shade.

By this time, we had already backed off. I was flipping my pace chart to reflect longer and longer times. I thought we were adjusting correctly.

Adam and Sean had to listen to me freak out about how we were approaching where I was attacked by bees last year. They were not there, but there were old honeycombs and dead hornet nests all over that section. I was PHREAKED.

When we rolled into Silver Bay, we were hot. Sean said he was going to back off and cool off. I still felt fine, but was hot.

The next section of climbs were BRUTAL. All sun. No breeze. Adam kept cursing. I periodically stopped on the climbs to get my heart rate down. I was starting to chaffe bad. We backed off more.

I kept saying if we could just manage this heat until 4pm, we should be in good shape. I adjusted the strategy to keep a lid on the heat problem, thinking we could recover and make up ground once the sun goes down. I knew there were plenty of runable sections at night.

We rolled in to Tettegouche a bit beat up. I had run dry on fluids, and was raw from chaffing. There are some rumors out there about what I did at that point, but they are just rumors.

You might be an ultra runner if.....

Let's just say I am going to have to pay off a few people to delete pictures.

We left Tett, and I felt a ton better. I felt so good, that I made Adam work for it. But that section from Tett to cty rd. 6 is hard. Very hard. The hills keep coming. I had forgotten how hard this section was.

The fequency of the hills did not allow my heart rate to recover. My average HR was skyrocketing over a half hour period. I should have stopped and taken breaks at the top of climbs.

Close to Cty rd 6, we passed Wouter (The Belgium Guy). Turns out, he had run Cascade Crest 100 two weeks prior AND he rode his bike here this week from Grand Forks (almost 200 miles per day). This must be Pierre's brother lost at birth.

We made it to 6. I tried to put on a strong face, but was not thinking straight. I knew I would need lights in this section, but we couldn't find them. Oops. Bill gave me his headlamp (which I left on the chair) and my crappy little hand held.

I think I could have had better illumination with moon shining off my white butt than that little hand held. I kicked every root and rock in that last mile before 50.

Somewhere between 42 and 50, I lost it. I was already sleepy tired (I have not had that happen so early). My stomach was so upset, I was starting to dry heave. When I did, my whole mid section cramped up. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I couldn't eat or drink anymore. I was too sick.

****************

50 and on

I rolled into 50 announcing I was done. I knew I was past the point of no return, but everybody thought I was just at a low point.

I sat there whining and complaining, shaking from being cold (it was still warm out), and just a sack of crap.

After what seemed like an eternity, and everybody trying to kick me out, the Belgium Guy gets in my face and says "You are coming with me". I said "Are you walking?" He assured me we were. I followed.

His walk is BLAZING FAST.

At that point, 1/4 mile out, I realized ..... there is no crew access at the next aid station. THEY WON'T LET ME DROP THERE. I started to strategize how I will get to the station after that without running.

The Belgium Guy dropped me like a trappist ale yeast just finishing primary fermentation (that one is for you, Quick), and I was alone in the infamous "Sonju roots". Quite honestly, they are not that bad. I did bash my toes up, though.

I eventually arrived at Sonju Lake, mile 58 aid station. Larry, the race director, was there. I felt like my parents had caught me skipping schoold. I kept saying I was done, and Larry just laughed. Bill Gengler was there, trying to get me back on race. I kept thinkg "you of all people should understand". Problem is, he did understand. He didn't want to hear my whinning.

I don't know how long I stayed there, but after a bowl of vegetarian beef broth (yes, you heard that right), I figured I had to go.

Larry said "It's only 4.1 miles, you can do that in a half hour". Sweet. I was off.

WAIT A SECOND! Thats 7:30 mile splits!

It took me 1.5 hours.

*****************************

The walk of shame

Walking into Crosby, mile 62, John Storkamp and Kevin Martin were leaving in their truck to help out other stations. John said I couldn't be a wuss like Adam and drop here, but I couldn't do it anymore. I said I was done 12 miles ago.

I had not eaten or consumed water between the last 2 stations. I could not without heaving.

Doug and Maria Barton welcomed me, but I said emphatically "I AM DONE".

Bill tried to get me to reconsider, but it was not use. I also said "There is NO WAY" I am going into the Manitou gorge in this shape.

Ring the bell. Stick a fork in me. I am Done!

****************************

And that was that

I feel guilty for wasting people's time helping me, crewing for me, cheering me on, all to DNF. I greatly appreciate all of the support.

Bill did his job. I went for it. It was not my day to go for it like I did.

But, I enjoyed the race. Staying in the race would have done more damage than it was worth. I actually feel pretty darn good today. I can even run up and down stairs.

There is more to post about what everybody else did, but I will do that separately as this one is already too long.

Congrats to

Chris Hanson for brining home a strong 2nd place
Kevin Grabowski for a strong 3rd (caught it on tape)
Zach Pierce - stayed in the game and got his jacket
John Stuart - First hundo!
Daryl Saari - Last gnarly bandit standing!
Lynn Saari? (not sure if she finished or not)

and all of the others who gave their time and effort to make it a great race.

Thanks again to Bill P. for putting up with my crap.

More to follow later

Saturday, September 12, 2009

DNF at Superior

Yes,

You read that right. DNF at mile 62. I would have dropped at 50, but my crew and the entire aid station would not let me.

No crew access at mile 58, so they didn't let me drop there either.

Bottom line, it was warm and humid. I thought we backed off enough and did plenty of walking, but exposed mountain climbs did a number on me, and many other.

I got sick to my stomach and started dy heaving. NOTHING tasted good. I got to the point I couldn't even drink water without dry heaving.

Report to come in the up coming week.

I am not really down or depressed, just a little disappointed. It was just too hot for me, and this course provides only a slim margin of error.

It is toasty again today (Saturday). The other 2 races will be challenging for the field due to weather.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Signing off until the race

New Orleans was (is) interesting. Just walked down Bourbon Street and did not realize it is such a sleazy street. Looks much neater in the movies.

It is a tough thing to explain that I need to go home to sleep because I am running this weekend.

But... from here on out my crew, Bill, will be tweeting the race at

Matthew Patten @ kettlefans

click on #straces to see any updates from other runners. We have a few.

Thanks for all of the support and people who care. It is a great race.

I am praying for no bees. It looks like it could be warmer than expected.

See you at Lutsen.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

How do you get fired up for a race?

This video is one way.

Can you the correlation to running?

The sad thing is, I once heard a speech similar to this in a sales meeting early in my career. Needless to say, I quit that job shortly after.

YouTube - Glengarry Glen Ross speech

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The goofy things you do before a race

Everybody has them. I am not sure I do goofy things, it just consumes me from here on out.

At least next week I will have the complete distraction of work to take my mind off the impending doom and pain.

I put together a nice mini pacing flip chart I can stick in my pocket. I will be nice to know what pace I am not, including the fade factor. I am sure others will be envious.

I think I am going to invest in a second headlamp tomorrow. I think using one around the waist plus the head is the way to go. This way I can periodically turn the head one on and off to force my eyes to change and assimilate.

I have the food pretty much figured out. I have the fluid pretty much figured out. Not it's time to hit the wait room.

WAIT.... W A I T

8 mile run tomorrow, then a six and a 5.

Looks like the twittering thing will happen.

Scott suggested putting a "#straces" after each tweet. If any of you follow it, and click on #straces, you can see all of the tweets of others who have tagged the same race.

Who knows how many will join in. Probably none. We might be starting a trend (I guess it has already started with other races.

Less than 8 days......

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Final long run tune up for Sawtooth

The break in the heat and humidity brought the need to do the usual test run at Afton 2 weeks prior to a big race.

I decided to head out there alone so I could run my own run. For me, a loop at Afton is a good gauge to where I am. I used to do 2 (50k) before a big race, but that is too much for 2 weeks before a hundo.

My goal was to run, somewhat hard, but not go all out.

I was psyched to pull off a 2:15 25k loop, my best ever. To make things even better, I was fine at the end. I never hit a point on the hills where I thought I was going to die from heavy breathing. My change in gait and the way I run hills is paying off. We will see if it works in 2 weeks.

After a little break, I went back out to find people. It was then that I felt the pain and soreness of Lactic Acid buildup. Oh well.

I found Karen and Wayne, and we hung out for a bit. The group was celebrating Karen's 50th birthday this week. She ran 50 miles on her Birthday! Nice job grandma! (just kidding). What is more impressive about her is the fact that she has lost 25 lbs from last fall. And seriously, I didn't think she had 25 to lose. Way to be a role model, Karen.

Wayne is heading out for his 1st 50 at Superior. Dude, just relax and do it. Forget the splits and times.

********

I will have my master crew, Bill, back for Superior. We are putting together a plan for a great race. I have experience on my side, and a crew man who knows me well enough to know what I will need in the second half.

He has also agreed to "twitter" this race, so those of you who are interested can follow. We will do a few test "tweets in the next few weeks.

You can follow this twitter at

kettlefans
or
Matthew Patten

I am not sure which is easier to find.

************

Here is the deal with Superior/Sawtooth. ANYTHING can happen. The best laid plans can be wrecked by one wrong turn, fall, rock kick, etc. For me, the x factor is the muscle in my knee which went out last year. If that happens again, I will drop.

It could be a great day, or a bad day. Some of this is out of my control. That is not me being chicken, it is the reality of this beast.

I think people don't realize how relentless the terrain is on this course. That is what dismantles people more than anything.

Hopefully there will be no bees.... or at least hopefully they will not attack me this year. I will be thinking of you Molly at the spot we were attacked last year. I think I could find that spot exactly.

I get this week home to do my planning. Sweeeeet!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Fade Factor

Please don't mind the typos and grammatical blunders. It's week 4 of 4 of being on the road, and I don't care about literary prowess. I typed up the following on the plane the other day and sent the spreadsheet off to a few to mess around with. Read at your own risk.

*****************

The Fade Factor

This is a number which most distance runners can grasp, although few probably know what their number is. This number also changes based on weather, course conditions, course length, course duration in time, and your own physical condition.

Simply put, it is the rate at which you slow after a certain point. For simplicity sake, I am going to make the Fade Factor static to only the first half of the race, and the second half of the race. This means if you slow a lot more from mile 75-100 than you did at 50-75, I am not factoring that in.

So here is how it works.
 Take a 50 mile race taking 10 hours (hmmm sounds familiar)
o Fade factor should be between .40 and .45
 Run the first 50 in 4 – 4.5 hours, the second in 5.5 to 6 hours.
o If you use my Voyageur example, my Fade Factor was
 .43

I put together a spreadsheet for the Superior Sawtooth 100, and this factor was the key into planning a smart race. After about an hour of formula crunching, I came up with what seems to be a sensible breakdown of any time 24-38 hours and where one would hit each aid station.

Last year my fade was .40 (I guess more accurately I should say .60). This was after hobbling and limping for 30 miles or so.

One would reason that the closer you are to .5, the better shape you are in and/or you ran a smarter race. I think this only works to a point.

I think the magic number is .45/.55. That happens to be my factor a Kettle Moraine this year, and I felt good at the end of the race. I think .40/.60 will usually have a story behind it. My .40/.60 at Superior last year was a combination of many things, and it was hard on the body and hard on the mind.

On the flip side, my Ice Age 50 factor this year was .48/.52. I think I left some one the table and could have run the entire race faster.

So I have this sheet which you can type in your fade and determine the race strategy you want to follow. If you want a copy, email me. Right now it is only for Superior, but I might make it more of a template for any race.

*******************

Oh yeah, I have been in LA this week and caught a picture of a raging forest fire on the Angeles Crest 100 course. Hey Helen, you might be setting course records, but fire is hotter than lean horse.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

From The Big Easy to The Big Toughy

I thought about saying "The Big Hardie" instead, but I would attrack a lot of unsavory google hits.

So the week of Superior, I have to be in New Orleans. But, the meeting ends at noon on Thursday. I have found a flight to get me home at a decent hour, but it will be a challenging week.

All of my new co-workers will also wonder why I am such a drag while they will most likely be "enjoying" The Big Easy. Oh the price we pay to kill ourselves in races.

Bottom line, I will be at the start line at 8 am for the race start. Although, I have to sell it to the Mrs. again. (I will have to remind her I have already paid).

**************

Friday night I joined a few for an all night run at Afton. The humidity was intense. After 7 hours of running, we called it quits at 3 am. we didn't even nail down 30 miles.

Same thing happened last year. No worries.

**************

Ran a beautiful horse riding park in Madison, WI this morning. It was nice to do 13 with no problems. Felt great. Can't believe in 3+ weeks is Superior. Ouch.

**************

Lots of travel for the new job. California next week. Maybe I will post more than once per week.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Catch up

I never thought I would get needled if I didn't blog for 2 weeks.

Rough Crowd!

A lot has happened since my last post. Starting a new job is exciting, rewarding, but taking all of my brain power (yeah....it's a small brain).

I have pictures of some of the West Coast runs, but they are at home (I am on the road now).

Some cool stuff I got to run.
From my friends house in Malibu, I ran from 300ft above sea level, down to 100 ft, then back up to 1200 ft, all in 1.8 miles. Single track. It took me an hour to go there and back (3.6 mile). I still had the Voyageur chaffing, so it was a bit painful.

I ran around the Orange County Airport. I mean, I ran AROUND the damn thing. I was looking for the "Back Bay" of Newport Beach, but by the time I got there I was toast. It was all concrete and asphalt. Stoplights. Boo.

I also learned that "trail" to some people mean anything that is not a street.

I traveled up to the central coast of California and ran the Point Lobos Park in Carmel. Spectacular views, but the trails are lame. The National Park Service has done everything the could to make it as easy as possible to be on the "Trails". Lots of people, and they were annoyed by the fact that I was running. Few of them had the common decency to let my me by.

Check out the pictures at the link. It is worth it to run once. You can run down some small "power line-esq" cliffs to the beaches in coves. They are right out of "The Blue Lagoon" or other stranded isle movies. I am sure somehting has been filmed there.

Beautiful, but boring trails. It was fun to see Pebble Beach from a distance.

************************

I did find out I have a meeting scheduled the week of Superior. There is a chance I won't make it to the start line in time. That bites, but I might still make it up for the weekend.

Check out the entrants list. I guess that is what I get for being a smartass on the entry form.

I am still training for it. Time for the all night party at Afton.

Looking forward to that.

Thanks for reading. More posts and pictures to come.

Friday, July 31, 2009

New Beginnings

And.... I am off to LA for a fun weekend (solo) with friends and "the in-laws", then it's off to start the new job on Monday.

I will be up and down the coast a little next week, visiting the "production facilities" and corporate offices of the new gig. I am very excited to start the new gig.

I was hoping to get in some awesome trail runs in So-Cal and mid-state, but the chaffing from Voyageur is still really bad. I almost went to urgent care the other night. It is healing, but dang..... THAT HURT. I made a lot of mistakes last weekend.

Good luck to those who are also in the job hunt. Just keep moving ahead.

Oh yeah, I just signed up for Superior Sawtooth 100.

D'OH!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Voyageur 2009 Race Report

Last night my wife "Well, I guess you are a fair weather runner."

Ouch! Where's the love? She happens to be right.

Yesterday can be summed up with that one word. OUCH.

Somehow, I am in more pain after yesterday than any other ultra I have done (this was #11). Although, Superior was about the same.

Long story short, I was fine until right before the power lines on the way back (30 something). I started getting massive leg cramps (something that almost never happens to me), and the mid day sun with a 65 dewpoint drained my body of electrolytes and fluids. This happened quickly. I red lined my heart rate going over the power lines. Once that starts happening, there is no turning back.

I ended up walking most of the last 10 miles to come in just under 10 hours. I battled Kevin Grabowski for the last 3 miles, mano a mano. It was a vicious back and forth. But I put the hammer on in the final stretch and crushed him. Here is a picture to prove it. We were moving so fast, the shot is blurred.


Voyageur also brought back the battle of the Matts.

There was Matt Aro


Matt Ostrander


Matt Long


and me, the slowest Matt


At one point, 3 of us were together wondering who would be the fastest Matt. There was pretty much no question is would be Aro, but it was fun trying. I ran a majority of the race with Matt Ostrander, until he dropped me like a bag of sand after the power lines on the flip trip.

At the turnaround, I saw Matt Long was not far behind me. Knowing that he can maintain a solid pace forever, I knew I did not have enough distance on him. After I started walking at mile 40, I could feel him behind me (the 2 other Matt's had already passed). I finally heard someone off in the woods, and just knew. I said "Is that you Long?". He replied with a laugh "Is that you Patten?". I knew then I would be the slowest Matt on this race.

It's a good thing all of the Matts are good guys. And considering we were all under 10 hours, that aint' too bad. Right?

**************

I went to Voyageur not 100% mentally prepared, and I paid the price. This report is not the standard play by play as I don't want to relive the last part. And..... I am not up to it. So instead, the highlights, the obstacles, and the lessons.

The Highlights

Getting through any ultra marathon is an achievement, so I can't sit here and whine about not running the race I wanted. I am grateful for the year I have had, and all of the friends who have supported me along the way. Any 50 mile finish is a highlight, and this is one bad ass course. It is hard to compare it to Superior, as it has some extreme sections I am not used to. I am happy to have made it under 10 hours (9 fifty something).

It's great to see fellow training friends/buddies do well. Zach Pierce shaved an hour off his time and passed me in the last 3 miles. I told him before the race that this was his chance to beat me, and he poo pood it (I even have the sent email draft to prove it). Great job Zach.

Of course, his awesome wife took over 200 pictures. The can be seen here.

Meeting a few people I only knew by name was great.

Opening my drop bag at the 25 mile turnaround to find a old animal trap stashed in there (thanks to mr. Quick). In return, I peed in one of his water bottles when he wasn't looking.

Finally getting to say I have run "The Power Lines". They are hard to describe, you just have to experience them..... on the way back.

The obstacles

Coming off the last big power line hill on the outbound leg, the course took a sharp turn into thick vegetation. No way this can be the trail. After some runners came bushwacking back towards us saying there was not trail ahead, we realized someone had sabotaged the trail course markings. There was a pack of about 5 of us standing there trying to decide where to go. The obvious course was before the sharp turn, but there were no flags. We ended up doing a fire line with runners spaced apart, so if someone 1/4 mile ahead eventually found a flag, they would yell back and tell us this was the way. Matt Ostrander and I hung back and told people "we think this is the way to go, but we are not sure yet". It wasn't long before we got the yell, affirming the correct direction. We remarked the course, and went on our way.

Warning to those who sabotaged the course. Next year I will volunteer, and camp out in that section. I will find you. You better start training now, because even if I am the slowest Matt, I will catch a saboteur.

I can't begin to imagine why someone would do such a thing. It's probably the "These are my trails" attitude.

Moving on.

When I got behind on electrolytes, I cramped like I have never cramped before. I got some serious chaffing too (worse I have ever had).

For me, once the dewpoint is in the 60's, my time is limited. I can handle heat, just not dewpoint. Oh well.

The lessons

I decided with the cheaper grade trail shoe I have worn before, but not on races. Asics changed the tread pattern on the Gel Enduro last year, and it sucks. They must have designed it for "trails" being crushed dirt/limestone. I should have gone with the tried and true Asics Kahanas I have done well with.

I couldn't find the second sock of a pair, and went with a low cut sock. Bad choice.

I wore a different pair of shorts, and they hung down over the compression shorts and chaffed my thighs big time.

When I saw how much I was sweating, I should have slowed down or walked for 15 minutes/1/2 hour to bring my hear rate down. Sweat = dehydration = higher heart rate = loss of electrolytes = lactic acid build up.... Okay, the order is messed up, but there is a domino effect in there. Once I hit that threshold, I could not reverse the process.

*************

But, It was great to be out there. It sort of took the will out of me to do another big race this year, but I am sure that will change tomorrow. I have days or so to make certain decisions.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Power Lines it is

In 2002, I was looking for a marathon to run and almost signed up for the Minnesota Voyageur 50 Mile. I had this ignorant attitude of "forget the marathon.... this sounds like a real challenge".

I am glad I did not. I probably would have killed my desire to do Ultras.

Now, with a good year, and what looks like to be a cool forecast, I am finally signed up for it.

I am really not expecting much, just to get out and do my best for what this 50 miler has to offer. There are a lot of fast runners signed up, so it should be a fun time.

I am using this as a tune up race, so if I don't do great, at least it counts as a long run.

**********

And on the work note, Dallas has nothing to do with the job. It is not based there, the company is not based there, and I won't be going there. It was just a convenient location for the two I had to meet.

I won't name the company for fear on jinxing it. One never knows with google alerts. I have not even received the official deal for me to sign.

*********

Hey Brother Grub.... it's you vs. me on those power lines.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Way to go Dallas!

Anybody know what movie that is from?

Answer:

The Hunt for Red October. Great book, great movie. And for me, a great day in Dallas this week.

For those of you who don't know me, or don't know me too well, here is the scoop.

I got laid off a few months back. The entire division I worked for was canned in one stroke of the pen. I kept somewhat quiet about it. It's kind of like a DNF. But the consequences can be much worse.

But, being an ultra marathoner, I kept focus on the outcome and goal. I reminded myself of one of my ultra rules.

* If things are bad, the will eventually get better

They did. I went to Dallas for a final interview this week, and just received word that I got the job.

AMEN! I am lucky and blessed.

I will still be in the beverage industry, representing a great product.

I was worried for a while that I would end up taking a job working for Steve Quick. Looks like I dodged that bullet.. for now.

This relates to running as I can actually pay for more races this year. Now I just have to figure out how to celebrate (by running a race).

Happy trails

Monday, July 13, 2009

My season is not over yet

Recovery took a little longer than planned. My shin muscles hurt for 5 weeks. Never had that happen.

Did 50+ miles last week, and got the itch during a long run.

I just know there is more to come..... not sure what or when.

The itch is bad enough that I would say not to count anything out.

Off to Dallas tomorrow for what I hope to be a very good day. No running.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Final Kettle wrap up

Okay... I am putting this thing to bed.

I have splits, other race info, and stuff that is probably seriously boring.

So I thought I would wrap this up with an answer to this question.

"Is Kettle Moraine 100 a good first 100 miler?"

In my opinion, Yes.

First, notice how I did not call this one "easy". People have dubbed this one as an easy 100 Miler, which I think makes the RD's laugh. I think easy is a relative term, and no 100 miler is "easy". Some are faster than other, but each has their unique challenges.

I only have Superior 100 to compare this too. Quite frankly, apples and oranges. One has to approach Superior more as an adventure race than a running race. I walked over half of Suprior (probably 60%). In comparison, I probably ran over 90% of Kettle.

So here are the pros and cons for any of you considering it as a first.

The Pros

1 - Technical difficulty - moderate to low. The first 100k only has a couple of short sections of technical running. Most of the terrain is completely run-able. The last 38 has some technical spots, but they are not deadly. If you take it easy in that section (you will more than likely hit it at night), you should be fine.

2 - Out and backs - Out and backs are easier to manage from drop bag or crew stand points. It is also nice to see others on the course.

3 - Test runs - You can run a lot of it if you run the Ice Age 50 Mile 4 weeks prior. The parts you don't see at Ice age is the 25k past the 40 mile turn around and the 25k return trip. This is an easy technical section, but the dreaded "prairie" section.

4 - It is a well established run, with few problems, if any, popping up.

5 - Course markings - Very easy to stay on course. Not many places to get off course. Even Steve Q didn't get lost.

The Cons

1 - You guessed it... WEATHER. It can be HUMID or like autumn. If it is hot, sunny, and no breeze, the prairie section becomes EVIL.

2 - 100K turnaround. If you are not fully prepared mentally to go 100 Miles, it is really easy to drop at the 100k point and get your 100k credit (and a copper kettle). This is the Start, Finish, and 100K turnaround. Have someone there ready to kick your butt.

3 - The Prairies - Even on a mild day, they can be bad. I heard horror stories about them before the race last year and said "how bad can a prairie be?" Trust me... don't underestimate them.

4 - The coyotes - You hear coyotes going crazy during the night. Every year 4-5 runners get eaten by them, never to be seen again. Bring coyote repellent.

I have met more people (some with multiple times) DNF Kettle than Superior. I think part of it is that more people try Kettle. But still, it is an odd stat.

So that is that.

Next race..... not sure.... but good chance I will finally make a showing at Voyageur 50M

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Crew vs. Pacer

This subject has been covered many times by many people, so after Carl asked, I thought I would put my perspective on it. Again, this is what works for me, not necessarily what is the best thing to do.

I said before the race "I need good crew more than I need a pacer".

I do fine running alone hours on end. In fact, I remember so many details of the race because I tell the story of the race while it is happening. I find this helps with my concentration, and avoids the stupid mistakes (missed turns).

Pacers

I am still not 100% sure what a pacer is supposed to do. Some say it takes their mind off the pain they are in, some say it helps them push on, some say it helps them stay focused, some use pacers to help them stay on course.

For me, I see a pacer as someone who keeps you focused and maybe pushes you. Therein lies the problem. You can't always push in a 100 mile race.

Around miles 20-25, I remember saying to the group I was with "I am backing off a little, you guys are smokin'" It wasn't that they were running too fast a pace for me, it was just at that moment I was exerting more than I wanted to at that point in a race of that distance. I ended up catching up to them, and finishing ahead of them. I listened to my body.

I fear a pacer would pound the crap out of me, and make me run harder at times when I should not.

I remember Kevin G commenting about a pacer (maybe his). "Enjoy it, he does not let you walk... at all." I think he was saying that tongue in cheek, but if it is close to accurate, it could destroy the non elite runner.

I knew where I needed to back off in the 80-95 mile stretch, and I knew where I needed to go for it. A pacer would have been good company, but would have not changed how hard or when I ran. The only place they would have been able to lower the boom is in the last 4 miles. They would have had to been SCREAMING at me, though. And... talking some serious smack. Probably would have had to bring my mother into it.

I did end up passing 4-5 people from mile 62 who had pacers. I don't think that means anything. It could mean I don't benefit from a pace IN THAT RACE. Superior... different question. If I was still in a funk at mile 62, a pacer might have helped a lot, so who knows.

So, in conclusion I would say this.
1 - Figure out what you want a pacer for.
2 - The pacer should know the course well.
3 - The pacer should know your performance level, and intuitively know what is left in you.
4 - Don't let the pacer sacrifice crew responsibilities.

I did enjoy having my crew pace me at the final lap of Zumbro 100k this year. I was just sucking wind for the last 10, so it took my mind off it. My 1.5 mile burst at 57 came from being passed, a bigger motivation than anything.

So that's me 2 cents.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kettle - Lessons Learned - Part 1

The tone of this blog will continue to be "this is what works for me", instead of preaching a certain training style, method, etc.

First and foremost, having crew turned out to be a much bigger advantage than I originally planned. There are 15 aid stations with crew access. I find most people (still in race mode) will take 2-5 minutes at an aid station to get everything the need. Multiply that by 15 and you get 35-75 minutes! That would have been the difference between me breaking 20 hours. Yes, a couple of times I did sit down for a few minutes, and twice for 10 minutes. If I did not have crew there, those 10 minute stops probably would have been 15-20 minute stops.

When I hit the 50k turnaround, it was a 1 second stop. Everybody I was running with at that point went in for fluid and fuel. It took one guy 2 miles to catch back up, another 25 miles to catch back up, and a 3rd never did (100K runner). They were probably close at following aid stations, but my stops were under a minute compared to their 5 minute stops.

I hindsight, I should have given my crew, Bill, better directions on how to handle my stupidity. Once or twice I remember arguing with him about my intake of s-caps and shot bloks. I can just imagine the onlookers thinking "man, your runner is a major PITA".

What I also should have done, is simplify the crew bag into 1. I had 2 bags
1 - Food, drink mix, first aid.
2 - Extra clothing and gear. I was prepared for a lot of rain which never happened.

Having 2 bags made it a pain for my crew, and one critical aid station he had to park a little of a walk away. This is where I wanted something which was in the car. I should have had a plan like the following
* at each aid station have
1 - long sleeve shirt available
2 - short sleeve shirt available
3 - jacket available
4 - small array of food replenishment (aid stations are close enough together for small rations)
5 - belt for water bottle
6 - small thermos of coffee?

I should have put all of these into a waterproof backpack for Bill to carry to the aid stations. The crew can make the obvious adjustments as the race progresses.

Clothing and Comfort

I actually perform better when I am cold, and slightly uncomfortable. This plan works great for a marathon, pretty well for a 50 Mile, no so much for a 100 Mile. I was cold at mile 47, and had a chance to put on warmer stuff. I opted not to. I have this dumb mental state which makes me think I will start slipping (pace) if I am too comfortable. It is not true.

Once I was cold, especially my hands, I started losing control of my mental state. At mile 55, that is a steep slope.

Stay comfortable! When I changed into fresh clothes at mile 62 and put the belt on, I was a new man. I am not sure if I had done that at 55, I would have not had that bad spot, but I know it would not have been as bad.

After 50 miles, I don't like carrying a handheld. It gets heavy. Next time, plan for belt transition around 40-50.

I probably should invest in some gaiters. I did get rocks in my shoes, and had to dump and re-tie a couple of times.

I do much better without a backpack. Kettle has enough aid stations where I think it is not necessary. But, many people enjoy them, and it works for them. I guess the right one would work well for me too, but I would rather use them for a race where the aid stations are 10 miles apart (Superior 100).

Well, that's all for now.

Tomorrow I will recap on food and race strategy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Video from Kettle 100

Thanks to everybody for the kind comments and emails. It means a lot to me, and I appreciate it.

I am going to so a few posts on "Kettle recap" basically trying to identify what went well, what did not go well, things I learned, etc.

But, for now, some funny video. Bill Pomerenke took these. You can catch the essence of my state of mind when I finished. I was more mad that I had to run it because of Mr. "I RUN SLO".

The Start
video

And the Finish. That is Ron Bero's wife yelling "Come on Ron!". I thought she was cheering for me, saying "Come on, RUN!". Turns out, Ron was just happy I was not 40 years old. He clinched the Masters win.



video

Monday, June 8, 2009

Kettle Moraine 2009 100 Mile Report

Warning - This is a long one, and meandering at times.

It's been said many times before, but now I get it.

Ultra running IS A TEAM SPORT. And the team is much bigger than you think. It is as obvious as your crew (I had the best out there), and not so obvious as your friends who have spent the hours training with you. And even less obvious are the spouses and family of the friends who train with you.

What I was able to do in the race this weekend was only possible with my awesome crew, Bill Pomerenke, and the family and friends who kept me on course (literally and metaphorically).

The tone of this report might be a little different as my family will might be reading it (G rated). Sorry gang.

To understand what this race meant to me, you can read the report from last year. But here is what I remember.

Kettle Moraine 2008 100 Mile

Somewhere between mile 20 and 25:

It's over 80 degrees. The dew point is in the 70's (tropical), there is not a cloud in the sky, and there is no breeze. I was out on the famous "prairie" section, and I was falling apart fast.

By mile 29, I could not walk in a straight line. My hands were turning purple. I was not sure I could even make it to the 31 mile turnaround. Those last 2 miles were almost a death march for me. I knew I was done.

I dropped at 31. I wondered if I was cut out for this distance. Self doubt set in. My ego was crushed. I only made it 31 miles of a 100 mile race.

It was then that my good friend Jim Wilson showed me how it was done and got through the hell of that race and pulled out a finish. I gave him the nickname "rock star".

Fast forward to this weekend.

Location - Nordic 100k turnaround

I had just rolled in with more negative thoughts than one should be carrying. My crew (Bill) was there to handle all of the things I needed. Jim "the rock star" Wilson was there helping out too.

I had spent the last 7 miles sucking wind. I had been in a real bad "funk". I was worried this would turn into a 50 mile death march to the end. But...... I was finally starting to follow my own advice "When things get bad, they will get better". I had to get out of this "funk". I kept saying "get out of this funk, get out of this funk".

I knew I needed this aid station to get out of this funk. I took some vitamin I, drank some coffee, ate some real food (no gels, bloks, etc), and drank some water.

The clock was ticking, an I wanted to get back on the course before the 12 hour mark. It was 11:50 something. I figured it was time to go. I gave Jim the knuckle fist hand shake, and I was off.

There are a lot of people hanging out at this aid station because it is the finish for the 100k, the start of the 38 mile fun run (was starting 2 hours from that time) and the finish for the 100 Mile. People cheer for you as you go back out there for the last 38 miles.

What I did not know was that when I stepped back out on that course, I was embarking on the greatest race of my life................

Race Check in

Bill drove Steve Q and I down in "the green hornet" on Friday, and we arrived at check in around 5pm. There was a long line waiting to check in. Lots of familiar faces.

I talked with Daryl Saari briefly. He said he worries about this race because it "sneaks up on you". I wasn't sure what he meant, but I figured it out at mile 56.

His wife, Lynn, was there as well. She was going to run the "fun run". Lynn was the awesome person who kicked me out of an aid station last year, making me go finish my first 100 mile.

I told Timo, one of the race directors, that I was here to exchange my 2008 bib for a 2009. He understood what I meant.

Jim was there too, as he was going to crew for Veronica Black (from Australia).

The rest of the evening was uneventful. Thankfully.

Race Day

After a quick breakfast and coffee session, we were off to the starting area.

One the road there, we were passed by the guy who has the license plate "I run slo". Kind of ironic that he was speeding.

When we arrived, the weather was perfect. 50 something, low humidity, the rain had held off, no wind.

I saw Wynn Davis, who was gearing up for the 100k race. He was going to use this as a training run. He ended up setting the course record at 9:00:13 (come on man... can't you find 13 seconds over 62 miles?)

I ran into Steve and Kevin Grabowski (brothers). They are a fun duo. Little did I know that Kevin was going to help me get to the end of this race. (yes, you did man!).

Pierre Ostor, the guy who can handle anything, was his usual quite self. And Kevin Martin "the Big K" was going for his first 100M. This was going to be a perfect day.

After a quick pre race meeting, Timo did the stand ultra start. "ready, set, go".

The first 50k

I ended up running the first couple of miles with David Ruttum. Great guy, and very strong runner. Mile one split was sub 9 minute.... Mile 2 split was sub 9, same with mile 3. I said "Dave, I think we are running different races. Have a good one." I let him forge ahead. I did tell him about my battle with Adam Harmer. (Adam and I had a challenge to see who could get to 100 miles first. Me, or him at FANS 24 hour on the same day). Dave decided to take Adam's side and heckle me when our paths crossed.

I ran a little with Brad Birkholz and Julie Treder. I have met them in races a few times before and it was good to run a few with some familiar faces.

After a little bit, I decided to run my own race. I needed some time alone to get in my zone.

The second aid station came quick. Bill swapped my empty bottle with a full one, making the aid station time about 2 seconds. After this aid station, it gets a little hilly and technical.

This section brings you to the Ice Age trail from Bald Bluff up to the Emma Carlin campground. It is really easy to needlessly spend energy on this section. I was careful to conserve. A lot of people passed me. Most of them did it by running up the hills. Not one of the people who passed me in that section finished ahead of me. (both 100k and 100mile). Run hills later in the race if you can, not earlier.

I ended up talking with a "kid" Michael Mahoney who graduated from the same high school I did... 10 years after I did. We had fun ribbing each other. He took some "old man" jabs at me, I kept saying how this old man 100 Mile runner was going to beat him to the 100k mark in his 100k race. He beat me.

I had a great time running with Alex from South Bend "Irish". He had a lot of experience with this course (100M and K) and was doing the 100k. He kept me on a solid, conservative pace for a while. Fun stories too.

Emma Carlin

I rolled into Emma Carlin, mile 15.5, right on schedule in 2:35. Bill swapped bottles with me, and did not let me stop and chat. He and Wilson said "get out of here". One of the other runners heard that and on the way out said to me "tough crowd".

The next section was the start of the dreaded prairie section. The weather was perfect. This should be easy on a day like this.

I ended up running some with Kevin Stroud "Buffalo". I guess his running club is named "the buffalos". Alex was hanging with me as well. Good company.

Antique lane (unmanned aid station) came and went quickly. The prairies were easy today. I was still concerned, though. You can't spend too much energy out here this early in the race. A few times I said "see you guys, I need to back off". I was running my own race. Sometimes I caught back up to them, sometimes not.

Wilton Rd (unmanned aid station) came. I topped off my bottle with the water from the blue barrel. Not long after that I said "damn, the water from that barrel is ripe! Taste like pool water" (turns out it had a significant amount of chlorine which did not get rinsed).

As in all ultras, funny and strange things happen. Some where around mile 22 we came upon some people carrying what looked like a horse drawn carriage across one of the board walks. It was a replica of single axle wagon pulled by humans. They had to take the wheels off to get it across the board walk. We ended up helping them roll one wheel across. I said "I am in no hurry". That was very surreal.

Hwy 67 aid station came eventually, and I was feeling relaxed and strong. I decided to take a bio break early (pora potty). Bill switched my bottles again and I told him "dump the crap out in this one, it tastes like a pool". He said I was on great pace.

The next section went quick. I caught up to Alex again, who was with Scott Meyers. They did not hear me, so I came up and scared the crap out of Alex. Scott has a ton of experience with this course, but is battling foot injury this year. It was good catching up with him.

Highway zz (mile 26.5) came quick. I was in at 4:30, not bad for a trail marathon. Bill did the usual, and it was off to the turnaround.

Somehow in the next section I found my self running with Michael (the kid), Alex (the Irish), and Karla 100k. Should I be running with 100k runners? Run my own race. We had fun. Somewhere in there, though, my knee started giving me red flags. I had a few pops going down hills and something was not working right. I realized I probably could not go bounding down hills like I usually do. I had to watch this knee. It was still early in the race.

This section of the race ends at the Scuppernong Campground. It is the 50k mark and you turn around and go all of the way back to where it started. Bill had my bottle ready to swap, and there was nothing else I needed. I spent 1 second at the aid station. Everybody else had to go do stuff. Crew is awesome!

Oh yeah. 50k 5:23 PR! Fast, but not too fast for my plan.

The next 50K

As I started the adventure for the trip back, I figured it was going to get a little lonely. I saw all of the runners coming up to the turnaround, but once they were gone, it was quiet. My knee was really starting to worry me. I had to keep it from bending too much. I was not going to tell Bill, but I figured I had to.

At the next aid station, ZZ, I told Bill my knee was acting up. I didn't tell him that I thought it was going to be a major problem in a few hours. I think I even said I was going to back off. He told me Adam had just racked up 26 miles in 4 hours. Damn, he was going to smoke me.

I quickly made it back to Highway 67 (mile 39). Bill said "You are on sub 20 hours pace by a large margin". Okay. Maybe I should back off. It was easier to take car of me knee from here on out for a while as the terrain was nice.

I went back out onto the plains and decided to just maintain and easy pace. Don't try and push. One that section on the way back, it felt like running on the moon. I did not see anybody ahead or behind me (1/2 mile each direction). I enjoyed the solitude, but man was the eerie. It started raining. No problem.

I was getting a little cold, but I wanted to stay "comfortably cold" for a while.

Emma Carlin came, and I was happy to be done with that section. Even though it was easy this year, it was a monkey on my back which I feared all year long. Bill was there with Barb Meyers to get me situated. I remember telling him I did not need any warm clothes yet. I should have at that point. Oh well.

Right as I was heading out, 2 other 100 Milers were heading out as well. I guess they had taken a decent amount of time there. After talking to them later, they said they had killed the first 50k in 5:05 and were now paying for it.

It was quiet going back to the horseriders and Bluff sections. I made it to mile 50.5 in 8:58.. my second fastest 50 mile time!

I was in decent spirits, but was starting to tire. I was also getting cold (i was wearing a tank top and it was raining). I was also tired of carrying a bottle. My hand were cold and had lost their dexterity. Well, at least I had told Bill at the last aid station to have a long sleeve shirt and my belt ready at Bluff (I never told him this, I just thought I had). He had witnesses to the fact.

Eventually I made it to Bluff Aid station (mile 55.5). I was disappointed to find my belt was not there, or a warmer shirt, just the jacket I asked for. Bill could tell I was starting to fade. The jacket and gloves helped, but I was having a hard time carrying the bottle. All I remember was trying to get that jacket on and getting back out on the course.

Just as I left, the lead 100 Miler, Zach Gingerich was coming out to mile 70. Damn, he was on course record pace!

After that, I crashed. I was still in earshot of the aid station and I couldn't run. I started walking, and figured I should just walk for a little bit.

I should have had some caffeine at the last aid station. I was tired. I did not want to run any more. Crap! I was in a funk. Don't let this happen.

The next 2 miles was an absolute battle - Me vs. my shadow. My shadow was winning. My shadow was making plans to drop at the 100k mark and call it a day.

Get out of the funk, get out of the funk. It is hard to explain what happens when you get this point in a race, but I will say this. No amount of rational thinking can overtake what your dark side is thinking. This is where people do real stupid things, and make race ending mistakes.

I decided to get to the next aid station and focus on getting out of the funk. Michael Mahoney passed me in that funk and I said "you win, kid".

When I made it to the aid station, I focused on food and caffeine. I sat for probably 5-10 minutes, drinking and eating. GET OUT OF THE FUNK. GET OUT OF THE FUNK.

I don't remember leaving the aid station, I just remember thinking I was going to have to face Bill with my pace falling.

At this point, I was more worried about people looking at my splits and saying "you ran a real stupid race". Like I said, the dark side comes through.

One more brutal part about this section are the "easy" rolling hills. They were sucking the life out of me. Plus, there were mile markers of 4, 3, 2, 1 coming into the finish (meaning 4 miles left, 3, etc). I was watching my watch, and I was clocking 15 minute miles. OUCH.

I saw some of the 100 milers coming back out. Kevin Grabowski gave me a grunt (yes, you did Kevin). Rob Bero looked happy. Dave Ruttum looked like he had not run any miles yet (jerk). And, he yells "Adam's kicking your ass!". I laughed, but he was spot on. My butt was being kicked. I had this vision of Daryl Saari saying "this course sneaks up on you". Oh man was he right.

Well, you already read the 100k turnaround story.

The last 38

As I left the 100k turnaround, I felt better because I had the right clothes on, I had a belt carrying my water, I had real food in my stomach, I had caffeine in my brain, and some vitamin I for the legs. I felt better. A lot better.

I ran a little with Joel and Mark Dziedzic (the guys who I saw a little ways back). They were having a few issues. I enjoyed running with them, but somehow felt like I could pick up the pace. Was I feeling that much better?

The next aid station came quickly. Wow, what a change. I made sure I grabbed real food to keep the streak going. I was actually running again.

From 67 to 70, I saw Steve Q. He said he was struggling, but he was in much better shape than I have seen him in other races.

I kept getting better and better, and by the Bluff aid station, I was ready to rock.

Bill and Jim saw me coming in and immediately could tell I had recovered. Bill yelled "Matt's back!". All I could think of was the end of the movie "What about Bob" when Richard Dreyfus comes out of a catatonic state to object to his sister marrying Bob, and the son says "Dad's back!".

I think I said "okay, I am ready to race" What was I thinking? I had just run 70 miles. He gave me a run down of who was ahead of me, but I was thinking more "break 20 hours". It was possible.

I was now on fire. In the next 10 minutes, I picked off 3 runners. I was not running blazing fast, its just that people tend to slow from 70 on. I knew the rest of the course real well. I knew I could maintain a good pace until mile 77. Somewhere in there I found Jenny Chow (the eventual female 100m winner). She made it look effortless. Great race Jenny.

I knew almost every turn down to Highway 12, mile 77. My spirits held the whole way, and I was pumped to have passed some runners. Was I top 10?

At Hwy 12 Bill realized he needed to up the ante. He was telling me I could catch Kevin and Ron. Man, that would be a tough order. Those guys are experienced and strong. But today was my day. I felt great. Time to put it all on the table. Let's see if I can get those guys. At that point, Bill also informed me that Adam pulled the plug at FANS. They had bad weather, and it took its toll on a lot of people. Hey, I won "the ego challenge".

It got dark, and this section is very rocky. I almost fell 3-4 times. I did not want to slow, but I really did not want to face plant. It got dark and real windy. It was beautiful. All sorts of weird creatures making sounds I could not identify.

When I saw Dave Ruttum, he said "Adam is kicking your ass". I said "Not today man!". The rest of the way down to the turnaround was great, mainly because I could tell how far behind (or not) I was from everybody ahead. If I had enough juice, I could possibly catch Kevin and Ron.

In the last 3 miles before the turnaround their are stairs, up and down. There are three road crossings. I can see people being so out of it that they just run out into the middle of the street. I managed to look both was. I did see a car on one of them.

I made it to the Rice Lake turnaround 3.5 hours after leaving the Nordic Center 100k point. I still had a sub 20 hour in the sights, but I had to do a lot of running on the return. I might be able to catch 2 runners, but the 3rd (Kyle Amos) was pretty far ahead. I really don't remember much at this aid station other than Bill turning me around and telling me to get back out there.

The hardest part at this point was not falling. I was kicking more and more rocks, and I was catching roots. The stairs were really hard, and it seemed like there were more of them. I could also see all of the runners who were on my tail. I could not tell what kind of shape they were in, and if they were going to take a run a catching me. Keep the pace.

I ended up finding Kevin, and in true ultra fashion, gave me encouragement and told me to finish strong. I told him it helped having him ahead to keep me moving.

All of the funky lights of the runners going to the turnaround were coming at me. Some had reflector tape on them, some had different colored lights (red, green). I started wondering how a red light would help somebody out here. Never saw anybody with a black light, but I know Steve Q had one packed to inspect the hotel.

After kicking a few more rocks, I made it back to Highway 12 (mile 77). There was a party here this time. I am not sure what everybody was doing, but I didn't look like a lot of running. Bill made me an extra strong cup of instant coffee. Funny, after 60 miles, ANY coffee tastes good. He told me Ron was there too, but I never saw him. Bill said, "you need to get going, quick". He was justifying his role as crew, and making sure I shaved time off by not camping out at those aid stations. I don't think I was there long, and I still felt good, so I was off. I felt really good.

I knew the next section, hwy 12 to Bluff rd, could be a killer. It is not really hard, but it seems to go on forever. It has those hills that Wynn Davis calls "the silent killers". If you try and run all of them, you could be done. And, they keep coming. I first had to get through the open prairie before those hills. The night was beautiful, with sounds of bullfrogs, coyotes, and a bunch of other animals I could not identify.

I did see Steve Emmert from the blogosphere. He was hanging in there, looking strong. Eventually I saw Daryl and Lynn Saari. Wife pacing husband? Now that's a strong marriage! Lynn was doing the Fun Run, but it looked like Daryl was the Fun in that Run. They gave me another charge, and it felt good to see familiar faces.

I was in those rolling hills now. I was getting sick to my stomach. I had to slow to prevent the hills from killing me. Somewhere in there I saw Pierre, and gave him the "grrrrr". I don't remember much else, but making it to the unmanned station at Duffin rd. was a huge mark. Push on.

I was only a couple of miles from the Bluff Aid station and the final leg. Somewhere in there I saw Steve Q. I don't recall saying much to him. I was trying not to puke at that point. It's all pretty much a blur anyway.

Right before the Bluff aid station, I heard someone behind me. I thought I saw a light, and could not figure how close they were. I don't think I could hold someone off at this point. I pushed hard into Bluff (mile 92.8). Bill was ready for me. He and a woman dumped the rocks out of my shoes, and gave me a much needed re-tie. I slammed some Coke, and think I ate some food, but the whole time I was looking up that dark path to see who was behind me. I guess I was imagining things.

As I left that station for the final run of the Nordic loop, Bill yells "Run Matt, Run". He may have been saying "Ron, Matt, Ron", because it was Ron Bero who I had seen behind me. I did not know it at that point.

I did not have enough charge in me for the full 7 miles, but I figured I could push to the last aid station at mile 95. I was loosing it, though.

I saw some lights coming at me. I just moved over for the runners on their way out. One of them yelled my name. It was Wilson. Wilson. He was pacing Veronica Black. He gave me a kick in the butt. It wasn't enough, as it was hard to get to that last aid station.

I made it to the aid station, but I was a bumbling idiot. I saw two runners there recharging. I thought, "I can't try and hold off these guys too!". Turns out they were on the outbound, not inbound. I should have figured that out, but cognitive thinking was totally gone. All I took there was Coke (Cola). I figured nothing else mattered at this point.

I could not run. I tried.

Mile 95-96 - 15 minutes. aarrrggg. I heard coyotes yipping. Probably devouring a runner. Mile 97 marker.... 15 minutes. Where is my power? I am almost done.

Mile 97-98 has some bad hills. Ouch. 15.5 minutes. I could walk it in. Nobody would know, just run the last 1/8 mile.

MILE 99. I picked up a little time in that last mile, but I am toast. What's that noise. THERE IS A RUNNER BEHIND ME! NOOOOOOOOOOO! I have to run for this, or get passed in the last mile.

9 months of training, all the early mornings, the tune up races, the sacrifice, all came down to this. I had to pull out a run on the last mile. I kept looking back and seeing that light. I CAN'T SHAKE HIM!

I finally saw the finish lights, and gave a huge yell. Bill filmed me coming in. Less than a minute behind me was Ron Bero. I pulled out a 9:30 final mile because of him.

19:35 - 6th place overall. My first top ten finish with more than 10 starters.

I cursed Ron at the end, and we laughed.

Kevin G came in soon after. It was great to be out there with those guys bringing this one home.

Daryl Saari showed the Gnarly Bandits how its done and pulled off a 24:34. Pierre finished in 25:47. Kevin Martin got his first 100 finish in 27:22, and Steve Q came in at 29:05. He crossed the line singing "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" by U2.

There are too many people to thank, and so many people who joined me on this journey. This post is already long winded and rambling, so I will dedicate a later post to those who helped make it happen. I do know this, Bill helped me shave off at least 45 minutes. Crew rules!

I believe DNF's (did not finish) like last year are good for the soul. They give you resolve, and something to really work for. I did not want to come back to finish, I told people I wanted to come back and "crush it". I think Julie Berg said "go crush the Kettle". I feel I did it and I achieved the following

* 50K PR
* 2nd fastest 50 Mile
* 100K PR
* 2nd slowest 50 Mile (yes, I ran the second 50 here faster than Superior 50 Mile)
* 100 Mile PR (by 14 hours!)

Oh yeah. I am running a 10k this weekend in Napoleon, ND (family reunion/town celebration). No PR in that one.

Thanks for reading.

Pictures and possible video to come soon

Friday, June 5, 2009

Final notes

The race will have updates

here

There will be race blog entries as well as timing updates. After my needling of Dr. Nic, I see they ARE using timing chips this year. I guess it is easier for the RD's to track people.

And, this Twitter thing may happen on my end. I have the user name "kettlefans" or just my name, but if you search it, it does not show up. I realized you have to actually "tweet" to show up on searches. It might show up on searches today. I figured out how to easily do updates from the phone, so I will have crew give a few updates (I did this mostly for the Mrs.).

Slept well. Now the first challenge..... putting up with Steve for 5-6 hours in a car (now that is ultra endurance).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Race Preparation

One of the keys to a successful ultra is planning and preparation. Often, the stronger runners get passed up later in the race by smarter runners. I am not sure if I fall in to the "Strong" or "Smart" category, but am definitely better prepared for this one.

Having crew helps, as he will greatly minimize the chance of making mistakes. All the best laid plans don't account for the stupidity one displays at an aid station after many hours of running. My ability to do simple math and remember important things dwindles.

So here are some tools I made of for my crew. They are laminated on a clipboard. I will be assembling bags of S-Caps and Shot Bloks in the same quantities. We will swap these at every crew access aid station. This way, he will be able to track exactly how many I have taken (assuming I do not drop any) based on what is left. By the end of the race, I should have a pretty accurate tally of what I consumed during the race.

I could not transfer this as a spreadsheet picture, so here is the first sheet with overall info.

Aid station number Mile Elapsed Distance Station Name Crew Access Toilets Drop Bags Comments
0 0 0 Nordic Y Y #3
1 5.1 5.1 Tamarack N N
2 7.4 3.2 Bluff Y Y 7:10am-7:15am
3 12.3 4.9 Horseriders N Y
4 15.5 3.2 Emma Carlin Y Y #1 8:25am-8:35am
5 18.7 3.2 Antique Lane N N
6 21.4 2.7 Wilton Rd N N
7 23.9 2.5 Hwy 67 Y Y 9:50am-10:10am
8 26.5 2.6 County ZZ Y N
9 31.4 4.9 Scuppernong Y Y #2 11:15am-12pm
10 36.4 5 County ZZ Y N
11 39 2.6 Hwy 67 Y Y 12.30pm-1:15pm
12 41.5 2.5 Wilton Rd N N
13 44.2 2.7 Antique Lane N N
14 47.3 3.1 Emma Carlin Y Y #1 2pm-3pm
15 50.5 3.2 Horseriders N Y
16 55.5 5 Bluff Y Y 3:30-4:30pm
17 57.8 2.3 Tamarack N N
18 62.9 5.1 Nordic Y Y #3 5:30pm-6:30pm
19 67.9 5.1 Tamarack N N
20 70.3 2.3 Bluff Y Y
21 72.8 2.5 Duffin Rd N N
22 77.1 4.3 Hwy 12 Y Y #4
23 81.5 4.4 Rice Lake Y Y
24 85.9 4.4 Hwy 12 Y Y #4
25 90.2 4.3 Duffin Rd N N
26 92.8 2.6 Bluff Y Y
27 95.1 2.3 Tamarack N N
28 100.2 5.1 Nordic Y Y #3

Here is a fueling chart

Aid station number Mile Station Name Crew Access Drop Bags Clip-2 Heed Blox s-caps Gels A/S food
0 0 Nordic Y #3
1 5.1 Tamarack N
2 7.4 Bluff Y
3 12.3 Horseriders N
4 15.5 Emma Carlin Y #1
5 18.7 Antique Lane N
6 21.4 Wilton Rd N
7 23.9 Hwy 67 Y
8 26.5 County ZZ Y
9 31.4 Scuppernong Y #2
10 36.4 County ZZ Y
11 39 Hwy 67 Y
12 41.5 Wilton Rd N
13 44.2 Antique Lane N
14 47.3 Emma Carlin Y #1
15 50.5 Horseriders N
16 55.5 Bluff Y
17 57.8 Tamarack N
18 62.9 Nordic Y #3
19 67.9 Tamarack N
20 70.3 Bluff Y
21 72.8 Duffin Rd N
22 77.1 Hwy 12 Y #4
23 81.5 Rice Lake Y
24 85.9 Hwy 12 Y #4
25 90.2 Duffin Rd N
26 92.8 Bluff Y
27 95.1 Tamarack N
28 100.2 Nordic Y #3

..... and a gear chart

Aid station number Mile Station Name Crew Access Drop Bags Gear changes.
0 0 Nordic Y #3
2 7.4 Bluff Y Swap handheld of clip-2
4 15.5 Emma Carlin Y #1 Swap handheld of C2. Reload blox& S-caps.
7 23.9 Hwy 67 Y Swap handheld of C2. Possible clothing adjustment?
8 26.5 County ZZ Y Possible C2 swap
9 31.4 Scuppernong Y #2 Swap handheld of C2. Add gels if needed
10 36.4 County ZZ Y Possible C2 swap
11 39 Hwy 67 Y Swap handheld of C2. Reload blox, gels & S-caps. Possible clothing adjustment?
14 47.3 Emma Carlin Y #1 Swap handheld of C2. Reload blox, gels, an S-caps.
16 55.5 Bluff Y Swap handheld of C2. Reload blox, gels, an S-caps.
18 62.9 Nordic Y #3 Assess: Shoes, socks, shirt, jacket, hat, add body glide. Determine if light is needed. Reload all fuel. Possible switch to belt or back pack.
20 70.3 Bluff Y Sould have headlamp by now. Reload blox, gels, s-caps.
22 77.1 Hwy 12 Y #4 Reload blox, gels, s-caps
23 81.5 Rice Lake Y Reload blox, gels, s-caps. Assess clothing.
24 85.9 Hwy 12 Y #4 Reload blox, gels, s-caps
26 92.8 Bluff Y Beat me over the head with a baseball bat
28 100.2 Nordic Y #3 Enough said


As for running. I did one 4 mile run on Tuesday. I decided to take the rest of the week off. I am trying to minimize the amount I go up and down the stairs, and I am not doing any heavy lifting.

I slept well last night, and hope to sleep well tonight.

I try to eat the same as I have been eating on a regular basis. I will drink extra water all day today and tomorrow.

Trying to do everything to take my mind of the race.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Potential for a perfect day?

Weather.com forecast for Saturday in Whitewater, WI

High 64
Low 50
30% chance of precipitation.

Now that's change I can believe in!

***********************

And now...... for the LAMEST excuse I have ever heard.

Dr. Nick Riviera was going to pace me from 62 miles on (I told him it was an easy, free way to do the fun run), and he can't do it now because...... he has nobody to watch his dog.

I will have to make up a plaque for his office "You've tried the best. Now, try the rest"

Nic, I am now on Helen's side for Grandma's. :)

***********************

I think I have awesome crew as well. Bill and I have talked through a few things, and it looks like I have all of the bases covered. My only problem I could have at this point is going out too fast.

I have a theory on this - One CAN go out too slow. There is a sweet spot somewhere in there.

I still maintain this will be a breakthrough race for me. Hey, I am 2 for 2 in winning my age class this year! I would have to beat Zach Gingerich to make it 3 for 3, as there are only open and master awards :(.

**********************

One of the purposes of this blog is to maintain a "this is what works for me" attitude, instead of trying to preach.

With that in mind, I will probably do a post before the race of "what I do in preparation".

If anybody finds this useful or interesting, let me know. If not, let me know anyway (except for you, Steve Q).

And by the way Steve.... finding a lake is not a loophole. The RDs sanctioned it.

There is virtue in being prepared.

**********************

Not doing the twitter thing for this race. Instead, I will post a link to the race updates. They are somewhat frequent.

Friday, May 29, 2009

And now....... wait

Forecast for KM100 June 6th

High 71°
Low 55°

Chance of precipitation 60%

Chance of DNF 0%

***************

I emailed the Race Directors this week wondering if it was legal to leave an aid station in a car to go sit in a lake to cool off.

They were fine with that, as long as I came back to the aid station in the proper cut off time.

I don't plan on this, but as a method for covering every base, it helps to know it is an emergency option.

***************

The "Ego Challenge" probably will not be a Twitter event. Too many things one has to do to make it happen.

Adam might have somebody do a couple of updates on his (aharmer), and we might have a some updates on my profile (Matthew Patten) user name is kettlefans. If you twit a lot, don't expect squat from me. If anything I will Tweet on Friday, during the race, and maybe a final post race Tweet. My life is not interesting enough to have what I am doing published to the world. But the race should be a good test.

****************

I have a ton of yard work to do between now and about Tuesday. After then, it is no heavy work. All easy stuff.

I think I have the game plan figured out for the race. It is interesting to see how few people break 20 hours. Most think it is an "easy" 100, but the results just don't show that. 9 people in the last 3 years have broken 20 hours. I think that is an arbitrary number, though, that any 24 hour conditioned runner would love to do. It is tempting, but more than likely not realistic for me. If you go by the 2.6 rule for the 50, that puts me at 22 hours or so.

Anything faster..... gravy. Anything can happen, though.

*****************

I started training for this race in late October. I kind of knew all along I would be back to try and redeem myself. It has been a long road. The hardest was those 70+ mile weeks in the dead of winter on the treadmill. The weekend runs at Afton are fun, and I would do those without a race on the calendar.

I just want the race to get here now.

Good luck to all who are running FANS.

And good luck to the "Gnarly Bandits" at Kettle (I am not one).