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Sunday, June 25, 2017

BlackHills100 2017 DNF

Lately I don't know what kind of ultra runner I am. I have quit more races in 2017 than my entire running career leading up to that. I never want to be the type to quit. I never like to feel regret. Ever. Most of my life decisions, (no alcohol, healthy foods, whatever else) are grounded in a significant hate of the feeling of regret. I fought hard to finish many races in the past, Ive been able to work through so many different type of issues. This year however I have been unable to find the energy or the strength to work through them. 

I love ultra running & the community. I want to be in this sport long term. I love the feeling of ravaging through a tough goal or the feeling of a win at a race. But I feel I've hit a burnt out point from over racing. My mental game has suffered because of too many races and too many times having to run worried about performance. The more and more I race the less and less significant they become in my head. 

I've ran through black hills 100 over and over in my head. I don't even know where to begin. I love how I ran 0-45. I felt so connected with nature and in rhythm and tuned in. I felt so in love with the sport and felt so much energy from every volunteer and member of my crew. I was so excited to pick up my pacer & one of my all time favorite humans.  It all crashed down on me when my stomach locked up. I couldn't eat, I couldn't run without a burning pain and every time my heart rate went up for just a bit I would go into dry heaving. My race came to such a screeching halt. I tried for 15 miles to let it subside. 

I knew I didn't want to run like that for 40 more miles. 

I knew I didn't need to run like that for 40 more miles. 

This is what ran through my head out there as my headlamp shines a little light on the cold rocks that lie on the trail. 

You've been in the ER twice from running. You're a Dad and a son and a friend.  Why in the world would you even entertain to keep going?  This is miserable. Does a finish matter enough to be miserable for 10 more hours? can you just hike it out? Will you be proud when you finish 10 hours over your goal? Are you going to be one of those who misses there goal then quits the race? Are you going to be judged for this? Are you going to regret it? Have you fought hard enough to respect the fact that your amazing pacer came all the way here to run with you and spent all that time training and traveling? Is hiking for 10 hours going to make that any better? What do you need to prove to anyone? To yourself? 

I concluded to drop. I'm not strong and dedicated as most ultra runners. I feel that way now more than ever. I'm over here putting training on back burners to eating healthy and living a chill life and fitting in runs here and there.  I'm not super BA runner. Although I want to set running goals like Sub20 at BlackHills and train an amount that makes it possible for me but challenging for me. I want to go try it and see what I got. I want to run like that because I like that. I don't want to go out to ensure a finish, if it was my WS qualifier yes go out ensuring the finish but this was fun for me to run to what I felt I could do out there. And the fact I didn't hike it out make me less of an ultra runner that's ok with me. I feel bad for dropping. I feel bad for anyone who follows me and thinks I'm super strong because I'm not. I'm mediocre on my best days, over here mostly not working my ass off, walking my dog down the country roads instead of cramming in run after run and I don't know why. But I'm not out there stressing about it and I'm not stressing about BH anymore. I have my WS qualifier for the lottery in 4 weeks & I'll do that one in a way that hopefully I can get a finish. I'll enjoy the mountains and the ultra vibes.

I love this sport enough to take a break from it after that. 

Subnote:
My pacer & I are solid. 👊

Writing is healing. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Eat well, live well & then run long.

Eat well, live well & then run long.


My journey into a healthier lifestyle has been pretty typical in many ways. I started out overweight and found some success in running to lose some weight. I started eating just a little healthier and I was like ok this is working, cool. Let's run more and see what happens, and if I run more I can eat more of whatever I want, right? Ok this is working. I'm running 100 milers, going for 20+ mile training runs multiple times a week on minimal sleep, a non-consistent lifestyle routine & diet choices that were more based on convenience than on nutritional value. This worked for me for a few years of training and  ultra-running until I started to question if that path leads me to where I want to go, and is that journey the journey I want to be on, does it provide the most fulfilling life for me. 

Trying to answer those questions on morning hikes with Dexter lead me to some discoveries I had been avoiding and some changes that I am proud of. It should be noted that as a father first, I have an instinctual habit of putting Kiera first in all decisions of my day to day life. So, when I get into detail below about priorities her, family & work are left out because this is independent of those priorities and runs parallel to them. 

The answers to those questions had me spending some of the winter and early spring of 2017 testing different approaches and priority shifts. I feel like now I have developed enough of a list to write this post and explain how I came to it. See in my prior training for events I would put running on the top, if it interfered with sleep, diet choices or lifestyle routine & I would tell myself that was "OK" because I was training for big-bad ass things and I needed the work more than the others. Or that running was relieving stress & I needed to use it for that. Which is still the case some days but those are far less of late.

So through all the morning hikes listening to audiobooks, trials of different priorities & re-vamping of training & exercise regimens I've listed the 3 priority guidelines I’ve put in place as I develop & execute training for ultra’s.

#1 Diet. Will going for a run effect my ability to cook whole plant based foods to fuel my body? Will a run after work hinder going to the market to get fresh food, etc. Or do I have it already prepared ready to go? For me to settle on diet becoming the #1 thing was a big paradigm shift. But through my own personal growth I have found time & time again that a whole food plant based diet is key for me & aligns with where I am going & the journey I want to be on throughout life. 

#2 Lifestyle Routine. Will going for a run effect what time I get to bed tonight? will I get up super early and fit a run in?  I'm a mid-day runner normally but found myself stressing about trying to fit more miles in by going to bed later or getting up earlier, this is no more. I'm not saying the occasional late night or early morning runs are out completely. I still will go out and enjoy the stars on a nice night or the sunrise on a nice morning, but not at the expense of any stress about fitting in miles or not by breaking my day to day routine which I feel adds way more value to my days & life than a 6 miles jaunt at 11PM.

My morning is I get up at 6 and do 15-20 minutes of core strength & balance exercises. Then around 6:30 I take Dexter for about 15-20 minute walk down the gravel road & we talk out the day. When I get back I cook breakfast & cook & pack my lunch (sometimes dinner too) before getting ready and heading out for the day. So I ask myself will the run throw that off? that can then throw diet off, that can then send my whole week off, etc. So that is why Lifestyle Routine has taken the #2 slot.

#3 Body Signs. This one is quite simple & has been something I've always tried to do. Is my body welcoming a run? Are there any red flags that I'm overdoing it or is it simply saying no to the idea of a run? If so then maybe I do something different that brings me joy. This one has never been too much of an issue but every once in a while I would get so focused on a race that I would think I had to go out and do this or do that when in reality I didn’t. 

I have big goals on my plate. I want to run both the entire Arizona trail & the AT Trail one day. I want to run up as many 14er’s in Colorado that I can. I want to run Boston in 2018 & I want to win a 100 miler someday. I want to finish 3-4 100's a year as it has become my favorite distance to run. The journey & the experience of a 100 is something I crave & truly enjoy. I understand that I can’t complete those things above without adequate training, but I do feel I can adequately train and adhere to these 3 guidelines. But lets say that training for these events while doing those things above doesn’t allow me to win races or run fast enough for Boston entry or whatever it may be. Is that going to derail me? Absolutely not. That will be exactly where I should be & I will be very happy with where I am at.

The reality is that there is no end goal, there is no 1 thing that my hat will be hung on, there is only this now. This journey that I am on is everything & I feel I have a clear vision of what I want that to look like & I feel that these priorities align with that & allow me to continue living my life, my way spending time doing things I love in places I love for as long as I can.

Thanks for listening & happy trails!


Jeff

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Quad Rock 50

Quad Rock 50 - May 2017 - Ft Collins, CO



I got off work Friday mid-afternoon on an absolutely gorgeous day here in Nebraska. With the sun high in the sky I fueled up and hit I-80 West towards the Rockies. "I-80 West" rings in my head here and there throughout my week, just that nice neat little phrase and all it's promise and undiscovered adventure. I sat back, relaxed and listened to Elizabeth Greenwood explain why her 6 digit student loan debt has lead her to obtaining her own death certificate and many notable people who have faked their own deaths in the audio book "Playing Dead" read by Arden Hammersmith.





This kept me intrigued for miles, (both driving and while running). This one was a random find on audible, almost like hitting shuffle on Spotify radio and a song comes on and then you go listen to the whole album. I stumbled on this, the initial aww inspiring feeling of this young gal is going to leave it all behind for a new life in the Philippines was quickly reminded of all the collateral damage when one does partake in pseudocide. Although financial seems to be the biggest reason,  I heard stories of people leaving fame, leaving abusive relationships, insurance frauds, taking advantage of terrorist attacks and one of the most shattering to belief in people was a man faking his own death after his wife passed away so he did not have to parent their infant child. Only to be discovered by his very own daughter 30 years later, but a week after his actual real death. This was one of those stories that make you just wonder about all the people and different situations going on out in the world and how faking ones death can ever be an option. I was totally "in" the book by the time I hit Ft Collins, CO that evening. 

I stopped by the local run store about 30 minutes late as they were all dark and closed up, I'd have to get my packet in the morning. So I went for a drive up the road that goes around Horseshoe Reservoir and entered into Lory State Park, where the race start was. The sun went down over the back of the mountains as I set out my gear, read through the information about the race and ate my Thermos of dinner. I fell asleep in the back of my car around 9:00 and was woke up around 3:30 that morning by the first people arriving for the race. I got myself up, ate a bit of breakfast and got myself ready to run. The start was buzzing with people before much time passed and the sun was just starting to peek up. We stood on a little gravel road when the gun went off and about 150 of us headed into the mountains. I positioned myself somewhere near the middle of pack.

 We hit the trails and life was good. I couldn't not get over the views. It seemed like every few minutes another view overlooking the city or the mountains would open up. On one climb I took a picture of the view and told the Facebook world that if I could only do 1 race a year it'd be this pure mountain magic. The first 20 miles had us the top of 3 different peaks.Mile 6, 12 and 20 all concluded with a few thousand feet of climb. I was not ready for this.

 I didn't really study this one at all and just tried to think about it as a regular run, big mistake. I got to the 25 mile mark at 5 hours and set back out to do the same 25 mile loop backwards for the last half. I had ran the Lincoln Marathon pretty hard only 6 days earlier & hadnt taken any days off since. I ran and talked with another runner for quite a bit of the first portion of this loop. Somewhere around mile 30 I started having stomach issues and then the big climb came and they got worse. I fought a muscle in my leg tightening up after that and lost all that fire and fuel to keep going & going. At mile 38 I decided I was done, 






I could of hiked it out, I had time, but I also had a lot of things to do this weekend including driving back home. Working hard doesn't always mean hiking out a bad run, or suffering when the day isn't yours. I got a solid 40 mile run in a course that was way harder than I anticipated and I never (seriously) contemplated faking my own death. 

I'm happy I went out there because I got to experience the course and get a feel for the race. I plan to come back again and conquer this one. Colorado runners always humble me with their insane athleticism. It was such a wonderful experience to be in the company of so many great athletes at the finish as I ate my veggie burger and drank from my 25 mile finisher mug. Oh yea, they let you drop down to 25 miles and not have to go home with an offical "DNF" ribbon around your neck. Great race, great trails, great scenery, great people. See you again, better rested with the right focus sometime soon. Happy Trails!




Sunday, October 16, 2016

Grindstone 100 2016 Race Recap

GRINDSTONE 100 2016 Recap

Course Profile
GRINDSTONE-100
Oh where to being describing Grindstone100. This was my last big race of the year and my “A” race. Everything sort of lead up to this 23,000ft of elevation gain, mountain run in Virginia. I picked this race for a few reasons:

#1 - It was close to my brother's house so he could crew. He was crewing at Blackhills 2015 with me, so I wanted him to see the opposite of a pissing blood, DNF 100-mile experience.
#2 - It is a Hardrock and Western States qualifier.
#3 - To see where I was at and if I was capable of conquering one of the big Mountain Ultra's


The 2 weeks leading up to GS were full of stress, poor sleep and everything you don’t want to happen before the hardest endeavor of your life. We bought a house, so yea that was super exciting, until 3-4 days before we were to leave for GS the sale fell through. Our house still sold so we still needed to be out of our house by the 7th. Suzi and I worked our butts off to get everything we owned in storage units all across town. We spent the last few nights before I left for the race with her on a little mattress and me sleeping in an inflatable canoe in a big empty house thinking how in the world is this all going to come together.

Thursday morning, I woke up in my inflatable canoe and got myself ready out of a suitcase we'd been living out of these last few days. I took my truck to my friend's Mike's house the night before because when I got back to Nebraska we would not have a house anymore. I grabbed my race bag, which was frantically thrown together in the middle of packing the house up and headed to Lincoln to pick up my Crew Chief, also known as my Mom. We quickly headed to Omaha and met Crystal (ultra-awesome-pacer) and soon we were flying to Washington DC. We landed Thursday afternoon and made it to my brother's house for all kinds of awesome food. I ate a good dinner and headed to bed with an early morning wakeup call so I could still sleep some on Friday.

With the Friday 6PM start, my plan was to wake early Friday, get to the race headquarters and then sleep most the afternoon away. I executed that plan for the most part, my mid-day sleep was broken up by lunch, but I was able to get back to sleep after that. I probably got 3-4 hours that afternoon. I woke up at around 4 and had a few hours until race start to run through stuff w/Crystal.


It had rained most the day Friday and we knew going in it was going to be a cold wet run. Hurricane Matthew had made the forecast for the next 24 hours mostly filled with rain as well. Luckily this didn’t turn out to be too big of a variable to overcome. I'd say the worst the rain did was cause some slower more cautious miles for me on the trails. Being my first time on these trails and the dense fog picking up my headlamp light, making it not illuminate the rock, I was slowed down through most the overnight hours. Here are some of the most memorable thoughts of the first 20 miles Friday evening:
"How are these people running this fast on these rocks?"
"Are all 100 miles going to be like these first 20?"
“Do these climbs ever end?”

I saw my crew for the first time at mile 20 Aid Station. The climbs weren't actually as bad as I was expecting. They were long... very very long, sometimes climbing up for 7 miles but the grade wasn't steep enough to make me breathe harder than I wanted to or cause my heart rate to get to high. I took each climb throughout all 100 miles with a solid mindset and effort but careful to not overdo it.

I left that aid station around 11PM and would see them again around 3AM at mile 37.
The next 17 miles included a few more big climbs, but the trail got less rock-filled and slowly became more packed dirt that I could run well on. My Nike Pegasus shoe choice was actually still holding well, I didn’t have any feet pain and was able to start cruising through miles again. I picked up quite a bit of time on this section as I listened to a couple different books on tape. Arriving at around 2:30AM I beat the crew to mile 37 and got some pancakes and other food in a baggie and started the big climb out of this AS.

I felt good entering this station and good leaving. That quickly went away on this 7 mile-3000+ ft climb up. This was my "low" of the race. It wasn't a low that slowed me down a great deal but I was soaking wet, cold and climbing climbing climbing. Every 10 minutes it got colder, rained harder, and got muddier. This climb seemed to last forever. I had no one to chat with and I just had to find that inner strength to keep pushing and not let it slow me down.

My initial plan when I broke down Grindstone on paper was to be at the turn around (mile 50) at 6AM, 12 hours after starting. The fog had probably cost me 1/2 an hour on that first 25 and then this muddy, slick trail had cost me at least another 1/2 an hour. I got to Crystal and my crew at the turn around at 7AM and was really excited to see them. My brother asked me here how I was feeling and I was said “surprisingly really well, I had 1 low and it didn’t last too long and I’ve ran ever since”


There aren't many people in the world who can make you excited about running 50 more miles up and down mountains in the cold rain, but heading back out with Crystal was all I wanted to do at this point. We made good time through the first miles of daylight on this section. We were running most the hills to try and keep our body temp up. This worked well at that and also helped us get through quite a few miles quickly. We had some good chats and before I knew it we were at mile 63 and crew again. I ate some soup and drank some pop here. I stuck to my plan of only water and pop all day long, removing any sugary electrolyte drinks from my plan. I was taking hammer electrolyte pills and those seemed to help me be able to eat a lot of real food every chance I got.

I left mile 63 solo with the plan of picking up Crystal again at mile 80. This actually worked well for both of us. She got to get some stomach stuff taken care of and I got to try and fly to a 3-hour goal of the next 17 miles. In these mountains with the trails how they were that was a tough goal but I was excited to try and hit it. I was in and out of the 1 AS in between and I hit mile 80 in 2 minutes under 3 hours from leaving mile 63.

The crew was there at 80 and I took some time to re-fuel and get ready for the last 20. I knew from the outbound trip that these 20 were going to be the toughest miles of the entire day. These last miles with Crystal had us climbing up those really long climbs again, which seemed twice as long as before. On the big long climbs up we had fun singing and taking karaoke requests from other runners.  I was still able to run all the downhills, that lasted all the way to the finish. My quads felt fine coming down even the steepest of hills. The last one down the road was steep but we were flying because we were so happy to have made our final summit in the cold rain.

Around mile 90 we had to cross 4 or 5 creek crossing that had filled with water. These were dry on the way out but on the way back with tired legs I kept miss-stepping and getting more soaked. After that we had a few head down, focus on the rocks, trail headlamp, not so fun miles here. We got through them but they were a total grind. Just then this huge branch came crashing down from the top of a tree. I looked over at Crystal and was like "just a branch". We stayed focused and strong and made it to mile 95 Aid Station so happy to see humans and coffee. I had some serious chaffing struggles the last 10 miles of the race, I’ll spare you the gross details but it was making every step super painful.

I spent the last 5 miles really reminiscing on the entire day. I probably could of ran these better or stronger but I felt like doing whatever I wanted for those 5 miles and that I had earned that right throughout the day so I hiked a good section of these 5 miles and thought about what an amazing day it had been. I finished in 27 hours and some change, honestly I haven't even looked at what my time was. I am just simply satisfied in this finish on that day.

It was tough.
It was fun.

It was what I paid for.
What I trained for.
What I came for.




Thank you VA, Clark & the volunteers for what will be a 100 I will always remember.

Happy Trails and stay dry.

Jeff








Thursday, August 4, 2016

Taco Mile


The "Beer Mile" parody..."Taco Mile" was brutal stuff. Not sure if it was the nachos before hand or the hard shell choice that added to the difficulty.

Right away in bite 2 of taco 1 I had some hard shell in my throat that kept making me cough throughout. Taco 3 and Taco 4 were tough to get down.

Finished in 8:05 missing my initial goal of 8:00. I simply didn't want to run too fast to get back to having to eat another taco. I told K before hand, the worst that is going to happen is I could get so sick I hate tacos forever. She said well the worst is you could possibly choke and die...2 of the same kiddo, 2 of the same. Here is a little video collection of "Taco Mile 2016"

video
video
video
Lap 3 of Taco Mile 
video
Finish Thoughts
video

Monday, July 25, 2016

Psycho Psummer 50K Run


Psycho Psummer 50K Run 


Yes this was my pre-race dinner
If I'm not saying "Hell Yes!" to something, then I"m probably going to say "No”. I had no intentions of doing this PyscoPsummer50K race until about 2 weeks before it. I went to a gathering at Lincoln Running Company where the local greats were speaking about Western States. I was talking to Kaci after the talk and we starting chatting about this race. Instantly I could tell how much she loved the trails and this entire event and I knew it was one of those races that I did not want to miss out on. So I went with a "Hell Yes" and signed up a few days later. Suzi and I packed up and headed east with the dogs after work on Friday. We dropped dogs off with my parents & then then headed down to Kansas City. I grabbed some waffles with butter, syrup and fried chicken strips on top to load up the calories before tomorrow's sweat fest.

And yes my 50k was
fueled by this donut.
After getting to the hotel around midnight; race morning came pretty quickly. It’s never hard for me to get out of bed before a race though. I had a donut and some pre-race coffee and made my way to Wyandotte Lake. I had about an hour to kill before the race started and just tried to stay loose and keep my energy up. With my BQ attempt at the Nebraska State Fair marathon coming up in 4 weeks my plan for this race was to go out and simulate marathon effort for at least the first 26 miles. I wanted to simulate that race day effort and hopefully gain some confidence from being able to do that. There is no way for me, in a solo training run to go out and have a 5 hour, marathon effort run. This is why I mix races like this into my training plan for that added value come race day. Has it backfired before? Yes, maybe once or twice I've overdone it too close to race day, but I'm more careful and knowledgeable of that now.

entering the trails with 2 of the best
Soon it was 8am and warming up outside and I was ready to get in the trees and some shade. I started into the trails with Kaci and Jeremey for the first little bit then they were off. The first few miles of each 10-mile loop was real rocky with some good climbs. I immediately had that feeling of "Yesssssss…this is my element.” The 360 degrees of trees and a little rocky trail winding through them occasionally opening up to views of the lake. The first few miles had me jumping over logs and off rocks and making my way down rocky descents. I came into each aid station on this first loop with tons of energy. I was drinking only water; no electrolyte drinks this time around for me. I have recently switched to this new formula to help with some gut issues of late. What I am doing now is a combination of Hammer Electrolyte pills (2 per 90 minutes) and sprays of BFIT Rapid Electrolyte Spray. All throughout the day the spray seemed to give me the electrolytes needed. I was sweating non-stop in the over 100-degree heat so getting this stuff back in my body was crucial. I had a fun first loop and came through 10.3 miles at 1:30 and I can say my effort on that loop was equal too BQ marathon effort.
Lots of these throughout the day


I quickly headed back out to my 2nd loop at 9:30AM as it was starting to get hot. These first few miles seemed tougher this time around. More elevation and more rocks to deal with this. I knew from my first lap though if you get through these first 3 miles, miles 3 through 8 are some absolutely wonderful running trail. It winds and switches back many times through the trees. It was easy to be completely in a rhythm in this part and just get lost in my own head. I had my Orange Mud handheld bottle with water in it and I would take a drink and dap some on my shoulders and a bit on my face through the entire day. I found out around mile 13 that the only one in front of me was Kaci, this was information that would be repeated to me through the day.
in my element here
one of the climbs at the end of each loop

I understood that but kept trying to fight off the thoughts about leading the men’s part of the race and just be myself because it was still so early. The last 3.5 miles of each loop began with the "Mud Babes" aid station. This was the Oasis of the entire run. I rolled into here hot as can be, as I had been most all the day and saw a sprinkler and made a line straight for it. Drenched my head and hat. Carol continued her ultra-aid-station magic and hooked me up with this towel that they must have got from heaven. Ice cold on my shoulders felt so perfect at that moment. I put more ice in my hat and cooled my temp down here really good. I tried not to stay too long but it was so nice. After this one the next one is quick and then a few big climbs before the loop ends. I feel like I did these climbs good and got to the start/finish in good spirits with a 1:45 minute lap brining me through lap 2 in 3:15 and holding strong. I got 2 of my electrolyte pills here, a little fruit and some more ice and water. Big thank you to Jodi and Suzi as I headed out of here with 1 loop to go feeling pretty good. I was 20 miles through and felt like effort was still on marathon level.
Towards the end of each loop

Lap 3 quickly had me climbing up those first few hills and rocks. It felt harder each time. The descents started bringing out some old ligament pain in my right ankle. Nothing too alarming but annoying as it was using my energy focusing on it. Every A.S. That came and went I did not do a good job of getting what I needed and cooling down. I needed to eat something with some calories, gel or something solid but I kept not doing it. This would end up catching up with me. I was getting more drained by the mile and finding it harder to stay positive. I hit that most runnable section but was fading. I was trying to hold effort but could feel that I was getting slower. My effort felt on point but my miles had dropped over a minute from these same miles on loop 1. I'd been taking punches from the heat all day and it was starting to take its toll on me.

Mud Babes Aid Station!
I finally got to that "Mud Babes" aid station and was so happy to see Carol and that the sprinkler was still on. I immediately ran to it and she ran over and helped me get cooled down, I was about to start back out and immediately turned back and sat down because I got a bit dizzy. I took about a minute or 2 here and the new leader Tim had come in and gave me some encouraging words. That was enough to get me up and back out there. Shortly after here I saw Miguel as well. It was very nice to see him looking strong through these miles. He's a runner with tons of experience and ability and he had some words to help get my mind back in the right place. After he was out of sight I just set my sights on toughening it out from here to the finish for that 3rd male spot. The last 3 miles were tough, lots of trying to talk myself into finding the strength. Lots of shutting up the voices that were trying to discourage me about losing the lead so late in the race and not having been stronger. I spent lots of time working through these type of things in my head. But all experience is good experience, I've grown to know that and learn that each time you are out here dealing with new things you are getting better. There are no bad races or bad days, there is only learning and growing. This was not a bad race though, this was me going out at marathon effort in 100-degree heat index and seeing how long I could hold my body there. Looking back, I'm very please I could hold it as long as I did. I was telling myself in this section to just find that rhythm that I could run in and not need to take a break and walk. Find that rhythm. Find that rhythm. I finally got into it with about 1.5 miles to go. I got the last few tough hills done and could start hearing the music from the finish area party with about a half a mile left. I dialed it in now and pushed to the finish line. I finished lap 3 in 2 hours and 9 minutes. 7 minutes behind the male winner and many minutes behind the amazing Kaci.
Finishing it up

I was happy to be done. I was happy to have come in 3rd male and 4th overall in a pretty big field of runners. I was happy to immediately been greeted by the GOATZ running group at the finish line. I was happy Kaci congratulated me and talked about how great of a run I had. I was happy there was ice water and a hose to cool off under. But most off I was happy I was here, at the finish area. This is my favorite part; connecting with the fellow runners that went on for the next couple of hours as we saw so many running friends come in and met so many new people that had finished up distances from 10 to 31 miles. Some first time ever racing to people who had raced for decades, this gathering is like no other. Connecting and appreciating likeminded people is what it’s all about. Sharing our stories from the ups and downs of the day. This is why I can continue to easily say "Hell Yes!”

These feels

Thank you to all those who were out there cheering, volunteering and running. What a fun day!

Happy trails!
Jeff












Thursday, June 30, 2016

Black Hills 100

Black hills 100 recap

Kiera eating Mountain House & me happy in my element. No nerves at the start.

I had one main goal going into Black Hills 100, to enjoy most all of time out there. See I have a tendency to race hard, whether it's marathon, 50K, 50 miler or even 100 my nature is to race hard, which in many cases can result in some tough miles. I decided long before this 100 that I was going to enjoy 95% of the time on the trails or I was not going to do 100's anymore. I told myself if you can't figure out how to have fun out there, you aren't doing this anymore. I started running 100's mainly because of my love of being on trails. An opportunity to be on trails with my type of people for multiple hours pushing my body to do amazing things is what I think about when I think about why I run 100s.

We were one of the first vehicles to pull up into the start area on Friday morning. A 10:00 am start allowed for plenty of time to chill and make sure I had everything ready. I learned something I knew about myself but I always seem to forget. When I'm preparing for a 100 miler I think i need so much more than I actually do. I had my Orange Mud Double Barrel pack loaded up with so many items it seemed like a backpack that morning. I took 2 or 3 items out there in the parking lot trying to lighten the load. I still had a bunch of Clif bar pouches and gels and such & all my water.
Fellow OM Ambassador, Chad.

As the place started buzzing with more and more 100 milers rolling in Crystal, Kiera, my Mom & I all chilled in the grass waiting for it to get closer to 10:00 AM. I had the pleasure of meeting Chad here and got to chat with him about our strategies to combat the heat & how our training had been. I also had some good conversations with one of Black Hills 50 most consistent entrants Lori. She was the only other Nebraskan registered this year that I knew.
Chatting about Western States

Soon it was 10 & we were off down a bike path to get out of town, I tried to shuffle my way to about the middle of the pack to give myself many opportunities for connection and trail vibes out there. Last year I had a big head coming into this race and went into the hills in the top 10 percent and was alone most of the run, I changed that up this year and it made such a difference. Early miles were mostly filled with chatting with other ultra-runners about Western States & making our predictions. I spent a good chunk of these first 5 miles running with Chad. We had some good chats and made our way to the first aid station. I felt like I hit that first aid station really conservative and felt absolutely great. I filled my water bottles up here at Alkali Creek and gave Kiera a high five and made my way back into the woods.

She gives me so much motivation.

I slowly ran the first mile or 2 here hoping to see Chad come up behind me but I didn’t so I kept rolling. This trail was some of my favorite single track. There were tall skinny pines all around in grass like fields, the trail was lightly covered in the needles and it was track that was easy to just roll through. I loved these miles to Bulldog Aid Stations. I came into Bulldog (mile 10) and just filled my water. I saw the co-RD here and it was nice to see him out on the course scoping out the runners and seeing if they looked like the sun was taking to much out of them early. I could quickly tell in his glance of me that was what he was doing and smiled and said doing great, absolutely gorgeous trails out here. He said thank you & the AS captain said I'll see you at mile 90. I laughed a bit and said yep, mile 90, just a bit from now. That seemed like an eternity away.
I actually took a picture on the trail. 

I moved out of Bulldog and in route to Elk creek. We had been doing some pretty significant climbing from Start to bulldog but I was able to conservatively do all the hills so was still feeling fresh and not sweating much. That changed here. There was an 1100 ft. climb waiting for us as we headed back out and it was about 3 miles long. I power hiked when I needed to and ran until my body would heat up then dialed it back. I did this up that climb until it started to level out and we had some good running trails. I felt good through these trails and was still having fun. I hit mile 17 aid station Elk Creek about an hour in front of my plan and I was hot. I wasn't dehydrated at all but it was around 98 right then and I needed a cool down. I had grabbed a flower off the trail and handed it to Kiera at this aid station. I told her she needed to get some sunscreen on because her cheeks were all red, I learned shortly after that it was a mile hike up hill to the Aid Station from the car, that's why they were all red. Amazing what an 11 will do to see her Dad rock some trails. I spent about 5-10 minutes at this AS getting re-hydrated and trying to convince a runner named A.J that he could go on but his mind had already decided he was done. I quickly heard of another here that dropped as well. I gave Kiera her flower got some positive vibes from Crystal & my Mom who were both really happy with how I was running and looking at each AS. They were going to try and get a horseback ride in and then meet me in 12 miles at Dalton Lake. I said perfect, have fun and I'll see you there. Still 100% happy, having fun enjoying my time out here.
Crystal & K & my mom crewing all day. 

Leaving Elk Creek was mostly runnable single track trail to the next AS. I think I may have over-exerted on this stretch of trail because a lot of it was direct sun & it was so runnable. I started getting pretty hot here and had my first battles with my stomach. It was 6 miles from Elk to the next AS and by mile 3 I was burning up hot & I had already drank my water and only had some electrolyte drink left. The thing about electrolyte drink is it’s great when your stomach is solid but when your stomach hurts every drink is hard. I battled this stomach pain all the way to the next AS and almost immediately sat down here at mile 23. I was spent, i needed time to get ice in my hat & get my body temp down. I also needed to find things to get my stomach back on track. Chad showed up shortly after and gave me a Tums, i ate a bit of watermelon and had some ice to try and get it back but it was a struggle.
This sums up the day pretty good, ice was gold. 
 Finally from just time sitting there it started to get better and I power hiked my way out of crooked tree thinking ok 6 miles to Dalton Lake & you get to see your crew. Another big climb here of around 800ft meant just power hiking this first part. I'm not a fast hiker at all so this is where people catch me during events like this, I know that and am working on hiking faster but for now it was just about moving forward. I would try to run when I had runnable track but my stomach pains got worse and worse. Mostly on each side and high up they felt almost like side pains. I wasn’t sure how to fight them off, I tried eating, drinking, walking etc. and couldn’t shake them, this was the time out there that I was 100% not enjoying myself. This quickly turned into my lowest moment of any ultra I’ve ever done. By mile 25 I could barely hike. It all hurt, I saw Chad again out here in this stretch and we did some hiking together. Trying to get one another to stay positive we chatted about stuff but we were both in some pretty low lows. Knowing how hard he trained and worked I went on praying his low would end soon. With about 1.5 miles left to Dalton & my crew, I had been walking for the last mile. Every time I tried to run my body shut it down back to a hike. I kept getting more and more negative, telling myself you can’t even hike you are not cut out for this. This is the last run, after this one no more running, I’m done, and I’ll find something else. This is ridiculous, so with that 1.5 miles left to Dalton in my lowest low a runner came up behind me. I'm not sure what kind of Ultra magic he had with him but we got to chatting early with hike and he was going to start running again and I was like I'll see if I can hang with you. We ran most all of the next 1.5 miles, not because I felt good again but because with the presence of another person the pains were tolerable, I did it, I arrived at Dalton AS. In many ways this felt like the finish line because I longed to get here for so many miles. I knew I was not quitting but people were dropping here a lot, it was sad to see, so many people having to drive home and feel like I did last year after dropping at 50. I was determined to figure out my issues and get this thing back right.
coming out of the forest in on of my biggest lows ever.

Dalton Lake. I will not forget Dalton Lake. I arrived here defeated, dehydrated, sharp pains in both sides and totally down. I went from saying I was going to enjoy this entire thing to hating it just like that. to making myself think that I couldn’t, even if I set out to enjoy this thing. That all changed here at Dalton. I lied down next to the AS with my hands over my head breathing slow and they side pains started to subside. Crystal ran all the way back to the truck and got me a smoothie and my other hydration pack. I drank that smoothie in about 30 seconds flat. I was already feeling somewhat better. I told her how my whole body was so hot i wanted to walk back 1/2 a mile to the lake and get in, that I thought I needed too. She drug me over to this tote filled with creek water and a towel and said here you go. I washed my whole body with that cold water and my HR started coming back down. I chatted with Kiera and my mom and started feeling better. I saw Chad come in shortly after that in the same condition i just did about 15 minutes earlier and made a point to try and help him as much as I could. Assure him it was going to get better. I was proof, I was feeling better. I went back and Kiera and I had a quick contest to see who could jump the highest. After 4 or 5 jumps she determined I could and said see Dad you got this, you're going to be ok. This AS stop made my day, I left Dalton in route to Nemo.

leaving Dalton & my lowest point with Kiera's encouragement.

I left knowing that everything after Nemo gets more runnable, from the beginning my mentality was get to Nemo feeling good and you can haul butt from Nemo to the turnaround and back to Nemo. I made my climb out of Dalton and was feeling good. When I got half way to nemo the trail descended for the next 3 miles and I laid down some great miles here. To get to Nemo there is about a half mile run to finish up this segment on the road. I was blazing here when I saw the guy with all the Ultra Magic from earlier here. He wasn’t moving well and it was devastating, I was like oh no what's wrong. He was having some major kidney issues but was committed to do the things to get it better and continue on. I told him the same stuff that we talked about before, keep your mind right and you will get through this. Coming down into Nemo the road felt great, I was able to stride out here and run like I run on a 5 mile training run. I felt like i was flying when I saw my crew. I knew i needed to give them something amazing after that last AS stop. I ran as fast as I could into Nemo and saw Sarah had made it down from North Dakota and gave her a big stinky 98 hug. I was laughing, making jokes and running form was on point, I was in and out of Nemo in under 3 minutes and back out & I think I left them with a whole new mindset about this whole thing.
SARAH!!! Truly one of the best in ultra-running.

Nemo to Pilot Knob was not as runnable as I remembered or had in my head. Lots of big loose rocks and strange climbs that created issues with the rocks. I met a runner named Gary on this stretch, and we told some stories to get our mind off the trails. We talked about my whole story about Boston and had some laughs. I had a pretty decent stretch though and made it to the next AS at mile 43 in good spirits. I sat down and had some soup and Jeremy Bradford was sitting next to me. I had to get filled in on his Across the Country run so I kept asking him questions about, such a remarkable athlete. I had a detailed list in my head when I came into Pilots Knob. I'm like ok Mom can you get my other headlamp, this one has auto adjust and i keep tripping on the rocks. Crystal got me soup, Kiera got me dew. Then they filled my packs and chatted with me about strategy. I was feeling great & mind was all positive. I felt lucky to get to do this and be out here with my kind of people. My favorite line from this AS was when i was swapping headlamps I swapped batteries and I'm like "Oh way to go Jeff, who uses Toys R Us batteries in there Headlamp at an ultra"
Doing that shuffle down the trail

The Crew


Out of Pilot knob and on my way to the turn around. This section was nice sweet single track again. This is the part where i called it quits last year but I was feeling great and that though never crossed my mind. It was all about getting to the turnaround to pick up Crystal so we could start making our way back. I ran every section of this that was flat and walked the climbs and descents. The descents were tricky here with the headlamp and I decided I didn’t want to risk anything before the halfway point. I needed a good break to eat and chat with other runners before Crystal and I could make our way back out of here and towards Sturgis. The sharing of stories from all the other runners is always a reminder that everyone is going through their own thing; they can get through it and you can too, just get back out there. That's what Crystal & I did...headed back down the rocky trail 50 miles from Sturgis.
Half 1 of dont be and idiot done...now Half 2 of dont be a Wimp


We were off and it wasn't long before we were running at a nice easy pace and chatting away. It probably felt like walking to Crystal as she had been waiting for hours & hours to run. We met quite a few runners in these first miles as they were making their way into Silver City. It was nice to see so many still out there, we had been hearing tails of dropping all day it started feel like there were hardly any runners left. The temps were about perfect by mile 55 or so, a real nice little breeze that felt like air conditioning on my face as we ran those headlamp miles together. The moon sat just above the tree line and lit up most the sky. Stars were out & we just kept rolling through miles until we came to the first aid station on the way back. We came in and saw my Mom. This is the only AS Kiera slept through. I had some pop & a quesadilla and some soup then we headed back out. We had many more miles of night time together laughing and enjoying trail talk.

The sun started coming up on the horizon in front of us and it almost took my breathe away. Not only the beauty of it but also the fact that I thought it was only around 2:00 am. See going into this 100 I pinpointed the overnight hours as my biggest struggle & my biggest dread. Jason Koop gave me some great advice and told me to accept it as a challenge & not go into the night all complacent; try to conquer it. That advice along with managing my caffeine intake & my crew not mention anything about what time of day it was helped me to never feel fatigued over the night hours. So when I saw daybreak and I had just realized I had conquered my biggest struggle of the 100 I got an instant rush of adrenaline. 
We were just before Nemo AS and I started really turning on the burners. The daybreak, accompanied with no more having to shine the light on the rocks to get the best footing & the fact that my legs felt fresh as can be made for some really fun miles. We spent very little time at Nemo AS & headed back to the trail ready to keep tearing it up. These miles were so much fun plus we got some really awesome views. There were 3 or 4 times where the trail opened up to the hills in the distance and I'd point and say "Crystal Look" and we both would take it in. 
Coming into Mile 71 w/Crystal
After all the hours joking and signing Alanis M, Crystal & I departed at Dalton Lake AS (mile 71) and here i picked up my second pacer, Sarah. I have no clue how I got lucky enough to get two of the most wonderful pacers ever but the ultra-gods must have aligned just right for this race because it was like we didn’t even miss a step. All the fun Crystal & I were having on the trails immediately passed over to Sarah at that AS and her & I just took off back into the woods.
Heading out with Sarah

This next session with Sarah started out with some pretty decent climbing so we had some miles of just chatting and power hiking in front of us. The sun was getting higher and higher in the sky and I was slowing down with the heat. It’s really difficult for your body to manage your temperature the second day of an ultra, after the heat on day one, then the cool down over night the 2nd day heat was very hard to process. I’d run in spurts but then get to hot and have to dial it back. This was very common on all 29 miles that Sarah & I had together. It was easily manageable but just something that slowed us down considerably. Had day 2 temps been lower like we were expecting I think I could of rode that momentum I had early all through the day but that day two heat was very tricky. Sarah & I set the Course Record for the most well placed, good-spirited profanity ever, not only course but maybe world record as were completely rolling for many miles. For most all of these 29 miles the most sore I was from laughing and chatting than from running. I could write a book about these miles but I'll let the photos below do the talking. We came into a clearing just before mile 95 and I was like over this way Sarah & started just striding out to probably my fastest mile of the day. Everything looked great at this point, 5ish miles left and fresh as can be. I told my crew 1 hour and we'd be in. We left and boy did things change...
What is your pain level on 1-10? I'd say a 2...OMG Run!


laying down some speed at mile 95

Mile 90 refuel stop

mile 90 pee check... all clear!

5 miles left, we've done 95 & most all of those 95 have been great except for that 1 battle with heat exhaustion. This is going to roll by, we will start with this one big climb then roll from there in. The climb seemed to never end and for the first time in 40 miles brought my spirits down. We finally got to the top of it and the part we were going to blaze suddenly seemed un-runnable. Then I over extended my foot in a cattle guard and had this pain in my ankle, ugh more frustration. Then the bottom of my feet started feeling like I'd run on rocks for the last 30 hours, ugh what is going on. Here I am just 4 miles from the finish and I can’t run. Sarah helped me so much work through all this. I kept saying we had to have this, no way were the ultra-gods going to let us go through a 100 miler & 30 hours of trail time and not have a big struggle to have to work through, so we got it all in the last 4 miles. We hiked almost all of those last 4, even the last 1 that is sidewalk on the way back to Sturgis. I took off my shoes to try and help with the feet issues but really it was all mental, I let myself go there and I couldn’t' bounce back, I did a great job of staying mentally focused on the positive for 30 hours and I guess I just didn’t have the mental energy to stay there anymore. Regardless we met Crystal with a .25 mile to go and all ran in together.
Finishing this 100 mile was about so much for me. It was redemption. It was not giving up. It was never quitting. It was proving to myself that I do absolutely enjoy this sport and the time out here. That I can manage my body in a way that it takes me on the most amazing journeys imaginable. It was about connecting with amazing people & showing Kiera that enormous feats can be conquered when you just break them down. It was complete duckery but it was worth every second.
The most amazing crew &; pacers.


Until next time Black hills, Happy Trails.

Also a big thank you to my Mom, she is not pictured in any of my photos, she must have been the camera person but she was instrumental in all of this, at every aid station, rocking the crew chief roll with Kiera.

Ok that's a lot of screen time, I need a run....

Jeff