Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Zumbro 100 2015 Race Report

My good friend, Nick, has a great life lesson and analogy to what kind of person we are.

When Nick was young, he was a fighter in school.  He got into a lot of trouble and one day came home to his father saying "you think you are a tough guy?  well, come with me"

His dad took him to a boxing gym.  Awaiting for him in the ring was a younger, smaller kid.  This keep proceed to thoroughly kicked Nick's butt.

The owner of the gym told his father "one of 2 things is going to happen when you get home.  1 - His mom will wipe the tears and blood off while they cuddle and eat ice cream.  2 - He will be back tomorrow wanting to know how to fight like that"

Rewind to Superior 100 2012 - Aid Station at County Rd. 6 - 41 or so miles into the race

Me and my "friends" were lying around puking, aching, complaining, etc.  I went out too hard and put myself into the DNF (did not finish) category.  I DNF'd this same race 2 years prior, and the Zumbro 100 in 2010.

I had come off a great 2009, setting PR's (personal records) all over the place and thought I was becoming a great ultra runnenr

But then 3 100 starts in a row, 3 DNF's.  I went on to DNF 4 50 mile races, and the one I managed to finish was not a pretty performance.

At first I made it a joke.  I even had a white oval sticker on my car saying DNF.

But one must be careful of what they mock.  That DNF sticker defined me.

I still tried to put a season together, but never quite shoved my chips "all in".  It effected my a lot.

I stopped blogging.  I stopped going on runs with my friends.  Avoided the group events where people would ask "what race is on your calendar next"

I had given up, just never said it.  Sure, I had a lot of excuses (which people made for me!)
  • You travel a lot for work, that must be hard to train for anything
  • You have 4 kids
  • Your work is stressful and demanding
  • Your getting older, your body can't do what it could even a few years ago
  • blah
  • blah
  • blah
I started believing them.  I knew they were cop-outs, but they sunk in.  Then my buddy, John Maas, turns 50 and sets a US record for 12 hour timed, comes in second at Lean Horse 100 with a blazing fast time, and WINS Kettle 100 (thanks to me, cough cough).


I spent 3 years with my buddy Andy S. running the Crosby Manitou (mile 62) aid station at Superior watching my peers achieve what I used to be able to do.

I inside watching while my friends were out playing.

I tried to be Nick going home, crying to mom, getting coddled and eating ice cream.

Well, guess what......  I hated that!  I wanted to learn to fight like that kid who whipped Nick.  I wanted to be an Ultra Runner again.  I wouldn't even say yes when people asked if I run these.  I would respond "I used to".

Monday, September 8, 2014 - Monday after Superior 100 races.

I email "the boss", John Storkamp, Race Director of Superior 100.  I basically tell him its time for me to get my act together and I WILL be racing next year, time to give the aid station away (Maria B. was waiting for it).

I pushed my chips "all in"

I knew 2 things I had to do
  1. Build a HUGE aerobic base by following the Phillip Maffetone method
  2. Get my diet in order.  For me, that meant going hard core Paleo
  3. Lose weight
The adjustment was not easy.  I had to cut out a lot of bad habit foods and check my ego on running (Maffetone requires a lot of slow running ).  I had to be disciplined.  I had to be consistent.  I had to be patient.

Thursday, April 9th, 2015 - One day before Zumbro 100 mile
  1. I just finished my best winter training period, maybe ever
  2. I have been 90% Pale for 7 months (not telling you what that 10% is made of)
  3. Scale said I was down 26 pounds
I had also in the months between signed up for the Gnarly Bandit Ultra Series.  I have thought about it every year since its inception, but it was just not in the cards for many reasons.

During that period, the trail community lost a great friend, inspiration, leader, and all around stud in February.  Aaron Buffington lost his battle to cancer at the age of 42.  He finished the Bandit series 3 years ago, and was claimed by cancer 2 1/2 years later.  As cliche as it sounds, I was reminded that life is short and I could die tomorrow.

I had the chat with my wife, and she said "Bring me home one of those pictures with you on it"(it's what you get for finishing all 5 face as well as some $$ from Bill Pomerenke).

Okay!  But I have screwed up every race I have started in 6 years.  She acknowledged I had put in more time and effort she has even seen me put in.  She believed in me.  Oh yeah... she went on Paleo as well and lost 25 pounds!  And looks hot.  (she did anyway)

So I committed, and we are back to day before race day.  My son agreed to come with me to help and be general support for me and the race.  Have my 16 year old there gave me more reason to focus.  I told people "At some point in the race, I will be faced to show my son what kind of father he has".  Yes, heavy burden, but I really needed to get this monkey off my back!

The last things I did before leaving for the race were
  1. Cleaning the old stickers off my car (DNF, Aid Station Wench)
  2. Getting a real belt for my Superior 100 belt buckle I earned in 2008
Funny, nobody saw the buckle on Thursday as my sweatshirt covered it.  But the mojo was there.

Race Day

For those who don't know anything about what a 100 mile race like this is, check out this link.  In short, you get 34 hours to finish six 16 .7 mile loops.  And these loops are not easy.  Each loop has 2,342 feet of climb.  And lots of technical running.  Lost of rocks, mud, and even some flat spots where you can run.

Heavy rain the night before put me in nervous mode.  I don't like cold rain.  I can handle it for a while, but not 20+ hours.  I knew the forecast said it would clear, but I also knew the course.  I knew there would be some serious mud slide sections.  Well kids, that's trail running.  I was prepared for rapture if that were to happen.

Before the race started, Brain, Rick and I put a picture at the finish line (Photo from Zach Pierce).  Being a looped course, we would see this guy staring at us each loop.  This would remind us things could be a lot worse.  The plan was to tap the picture after each loop.  I was told many other runners did the same.

8 am.  The race was on.

When one embarks on 100 miles, the key is to run the first 30 or so REALLY EASY.  I used my heart rate monitor to keep my pace in check.  It meant falling back when I wanted to be farther ahead.  It meant being patient and focusing on what I was supposed to be doing.  I spent a lot of time with Jeff W, Brian W, and a few who I didn't know.  I had the opportunity to chat with the legendary Susan Donnelly for a while.  We shared stories of people outside the running community reading "Born to Run" and asking us why we have not run Western States 100 or why we don't run in Vibram 5 Fingers.  She made me laugh hard by saying "At least I {she} have run Leadville 100, if they get that far down the list".  The way she said it was priceless, like that isn't even an accomplishment.

2 loops down - 34 miles in

Everything is going perfect.  I have my first glimpse of true confidence.  At the Start/Finish aid station, mile 34, more than 1 person says "you look great.  You don't even look like you have run".  Well this means 1 of 2 things.  1, they are lying or 2, the 5 people who came in before me looked like crap.  I could tell by the look of the runner who came in just before me that it was number 2.  I was finally running a smart race.  I can finally relax and get this done

I pushed forward and ran a tad bit harder than I should, but still under my planned heart rate.

My third loop ended up being faster than my second.  50 miles - 12 hours - I still felt pretty darn good.

My good friend Jim Wilson "the rockstar", said he would pace me for loop 5.  Great thing to look forward to.  Jim just came off a lifetime accomplishment of finishing the Arrowhead 135.

At mile 53 I had a much needed sock change and shoe shake.  Bill Pomerenke and Zach Pierce had the honors.  Both of them told my son "This is not the first time we have changed your fathers socks".  Strange sport this is.

Then the stomach started to turn.  Stomach issues are my Kryptonite.  I slowed down before things got really bad.  Maybe if I just walked, my stomach would correct itself.  I hate puking.

Normally at this point, I start dry heaving, and my body becomes paralyzed when I try to walk.  I have no energy to go forward and I convulse.

This time, different.  I got my body so good a burning fat, I didn't have to force food.  As it happened, I ended up walking 30 miles with consuming only a 100 or so calories.  My body knew how to burn fat stores, and it did it.

I walked most of 4.  I DID NOT want to go out for a 5th lap, but knew I had to.

Lap 5

I walked into the start finish and announced "Jim W, you have a huge burden on your hands.  You have to get me through loop 5".  John Storkamp heard or hear about that quote and found it seriously amusing.

We were off.  Jim and I have run together for close to a decade now.  He knew me enough to just give me what I needed.  Somewhere in loop 5 puked and just sat on the road/trail convulsing.  Once I got it done, it felt better (not normally the case for me.

Here I was 70 plus miles into the race.  I was walking, but maybe I could run again if my stomach came back.

Jim said little, but gave me much needed support.  Every aid station was a near nap, but I managed to not waste too much time (maybe I did).

The sun came up, we finished 5.  He said I was on my own.

I felt better.

Lap 6

Before I went off, there is a whole gang of people at the start finish.  Bill, Larry, Lisa.  Larry said I better get going if I am going to finish before him (he was running the 17 miler - one loop - starting in less than an hour).  Larry "The Oracle" is a legend.  He started this race 7 years ago and is just an awesome person in the community.

Could not let him beat me.

Lisa (Wildknits) asked "think you got a sub 5 hour loop in you?"  I think so.

I ran
I ran
I ran

I had ups and downs right away, but damage has already been done.  I can wreck myself.

Soon the 17 milers came.  I was wearing the first year Chippewa 50k shirt on the final loop (no plan, was just the right shirt).  Lead 17 miler flies by me but gives me a double take.  Took me 15 minutes before I realized "That's my buddy Wynn Davis... the founder of Chippewa 50K".

Lots of 17's passing me.

It was all about "3 more big hills" "2 more".  Climbing the "Picnic Rock" hill, I was in a train of 17s, keeping up with them.  To get fired up I had to yell "How about this, hundo keeping up with the 17s"

I needed any mojo I could conjure up.

It felt good, though.  I was running.  I wanted to be done.

I ran the whole last flat section coming into 1/4.  Bill Pomerenke sees me and says I'm done, but who's going to run me in?  I said come with me.

Fully clothed in warm aid station clothes, he ran the last 3 with me.

Bill has seen me suffer first hand for 6 years.  He would call me when I was not wanting to be out there, but he forced me to come out and run.  He has heard me say each Fall "I'm going to come back in the Spring and do Zumbro".  Thanks Bill for helping me get there.  We crushed the final 3.

My Son met us in the final 1/4 mile to run across the field together.  Very special.  We all crossed the field together and I got my finish in 28:37.  14th place.  I was ecstatic.

I finally got the monkey off my back.

I got to sign the banner and got to tell people "I'm and Ultra Runner again"

So many people to thank (The Mrs. and the kids for putting up with my training).  But thank you to all who kept telling me to get out there.

I'm fired up to be a good runner again.


wildknits said...

Great finish Matt - you looked good every time I saw you, and not in relation to other runners.

Glad I could be there to see you get this finish.

Double said...

Nice job working man.

Matthew Patten said...

Double! I miss you, brother. Looking forward to seeing you in June. You better be out there in some capacity

Chad said...

Nice race Matt! Way to not let that DNF sticker define you.

Jason Husveth said...