Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Beer and yard work

I left for the Ozark Trail 100 thinking about the leaves in my yard.

I did a fair amount of raking the weekend before, but with several mature trees in my yard holding onto their growth I knew it wouldn't be the last time I put on a pair of work gloves. Still, leaving for the run I felt a bit of a twinge of guilt (maybe too heavy a word) over going to the race when there was work to be done around the house.

As it turned out, I didn't know from leaves. But we'll save that for a minute.

I rode down to the race with Dave and Jess Wakefield and Ryne Melcher. David and Ryne would be running, while Jess and I would provide the encouragement while attempting to remain sober. Ryne is a member of Team Montrail, currently residing in British Columbia. If I remember my geography, British Columbia is just the other side of Holton, so wanting to be helpful right from the start I explained what a cheeseburger was as we pulled into Sonic for some fuel. Ryne is a good sport, even if he does live in New Zealand. With proper fuel on board, we headed towards Steelville, Missouri for the pre-race briefing. Rumor had it that the briefing would last about an hour, so I brought a case of beer to try to make it through. After the briefing, we headed to the hotel and some last-minute pizza before turning in.

With ultra-running legend Willie Lambert in tow, we found the start line about 515 the next morning. Over one hundred runners were toeing the line for the inagural OT100. At 6am sharp they were off, with Jeff Browning, Ben Creehan, David, and Ryne leading the charge. Time for the crew to start drinking. Or half the crew, as Jess made some silly excuses about the sun not being up yet, that she had to drive, etc. Whatever, man. Just under three hours later we met Dave and Ryne at the "Deliverance" themed aid station, staffed by Colleen and Debbie among others. Of course, Dave needed something that we had left in the car, and while he left without whatever it was I made a firm resolve to back off the beer. This was going to be work!

At mile 43 I was surprised at how good Dave and Ryne looked. Jess and I were in rythym by then, and although we never had any plans I think that crewing just comes naturally after you've been around it. Whereas when you run you make a plan, crewing happens based on the runners needs and mood, so to plan anything is mostly wishful thinking. But we were a pretty decent team for having know each other for twelve hours. I attempted to jam a lube stick up Rynes' shorts, but he was so insistent that I be gentle I handed the job over to him. Fine, see if I put my hand in your pants again! After seeing the boys off Jess and I found a general store with a lunch counter and tucked into about 10,000 calories worth of food, our first meal of the day.

Anywho, mile 68 found me wanting to run. Just in case I was needed I had brought my gear and wanted to get it on before dark. The guys arrived feeling ok, and took some time to refuel here. They were both running a smart, conservative race and I think this was when I believed they would finish well. Sure, they had over 33 miles to go (the official distance was 101.5 miles) but the two of them seemed dialed in and unbreakable. My new plan was this: if they get to Berryman without needing company, I'm gonna demolish some beers.

I decided to do some pre-work and had about five while talking with the Berryman folks. Tony Clark, Kyle and Stacy Amos, and Deb Johnson...I was among ultra-royalty! The time passed too quickly, and I was trying to get some ultra advice from this group without being too nosy when Dave and Ryne popped out of the woods. They were looking REALLY good, even at the 80 mile mark, when Dave says "We need another pair of eyes."

Awesome, I am tightening my laces before he gets the sentence complete. Dave goes on: "Now I know you've been drinking...". I cut him off - a couple of beers isn't gonna cause me to piss a kidney! Let the lying begin. Pacers lie, and I was starting before we took the first step. I inhaled a cup of noodles and off we go. The leaves were unbelievable. They had to be three inches deep, and as the night wore on and I got tired I couldn't make out the trail. I lost it a couple of times, but luckily the experience in the group got us back on course quickly. The rocks uner the leaves were impossible to see, and I went butt-over-tea-kettle, feet in the air at least twice. Suddenly, I didn't feel as bad about the yard work I left behind. The remaining 20 miles saw Dave and Ryne on auto-pilot, and I learned a good bit about the final stages of a 100 as night turned into morning.

Congratulations to both of them for showing up prepared and nailing it. Also, it is another long story to detail how Jess was critical to the mission, and without her this doesn't get written. But a great time, and a perfect way for me to end the "season"...having fun, taking a jog in the woods with friends, and arriving home to realize that there is always another day to work in the yard.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Who I am and who I ain't

So, last weekend I went over to try my luck at the Blue Springs 50KM. I could have also registered for the 50 miler (not enough long runs of late), a marathon (somehow that didn't seem appealing), or a half-marathon (gimme a break, if I'm making that drive it's not gonna be for a half). Dave Wakefield called me the night before the race with the course description: pancake flat, and he was very accurate. Compared to the wonderful trail system at Perry, Blue Springs is a cakewalk. So, an easy course, coupled with amazing weather, allowed me to surprise myself and finish in a shade under five hours. During the race I managed my heart rate well and pounded the electrolytes so my under-trained legs wouldn't cramp. With so many obstacles removed (weather, terrain, etc), I had plenty of time to think about what this season has meant and what I want from running next year. Some observations:

- A DNF at Heartland and Nathaniel's Run in late 2008 were the two best things that ever happened to me as far as 2009 has went. The DNF gets alot of bad press by some, but in my view you stand to learn as much from failing as you do from finishing.

- I must have looked at that Rocky Raccoon finshers medal 100 times in the week after the race. I don't know why, it looked the same every time. I guess it was just a big relief that I finally officially belonged to the ultra club.

- Free State was a blast, and I was in no way prepared for that much mud. I also was not prepared for tornado warnings ending the race prematurely, but the thought that I was capable of finishing was comforting. This was also the race where I learned that in some events, the gear you wear ain't coming out alive. Best to just bury it and buy more stuff.

- Berryman 50: I finally went into a race "ready". By that I mean I didn't call Willie Lambert three times a day the week before the race worried about cough/cold issues, nutrition, tapering bloat, sleep patterns, or the shape of my poop. A gear issue prevented me from nailing a good time, but I was encouraged that I had "matured" enough as an ultrarunner to understand that these things happen and the only thing to do was finish. This was also my wifes' introduction to crewing, and for her it provided some insight as to why I was either lifting weights or running 20hours a week.

- Pacing Western States: first look at a HUGE race, and first look at someone (Willie) digging deep. I am convinced that the ten hours we were out there will remain my all-time favorite running experience.

- And finishing up with Blue Springs, where I'm starting to be able to identify my strengths and weaknesses as a runner. While my pace is usually slower than 90% of the field, holding said pace is a definite strength I must continue to capitalize on. And I really like starting out slow, I'm not talented enough to blast off the start line doing 8mph. I'd like to see my training become more purposeful, making sure I'm doing the right workout at the right pace and intensity. I have had some highs and lows here, and just want to do a little work to make that training consistently productive and not as haphazard.

- While I don't necessarily view it as a huge opportunity, I need to resign myself to the fact that I actually like doing the bulk of my running by myself. I am envious of those who run in packs not just for the social aspect, but running with someone above my ability (read: nearly everyone who has ever laced up a pair of shoes) could push my own workouts. However, somewhere in my DNA there is a "does not play well with others" gene that motivates me to spend an inordinate amount of time alone. It's one of those things that you might not like about yourself, but you aren't willing to change it.

- I also have a 2009 goal around volunteerism that includes trail work. I love working the aid stations, but I enjoy Perry so much I need to do more to help with the upkeep. Need to get in touch with Lyle over the winter and see what we can come up with to keep me actively involved with the local trail scene when I'm not running. For now, I'm going to build some miles and get ready for next year...and hopefully my first 100.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Get outta town

For those interested, here's the 2010 schedule I'm looking at:

24 hours of Utah/Moab 100...March

Free State...April

Rocky Mountain Double Marathon, Laramie...May



If you want to get outta town, let me know. We just got some openings for next years bus (which isn't a bus at all, but you get the idea).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Hamstring Shop

So, a few weeks ago I was doing my version of speedwork.

Visualization may be the only strength I have as a runner. Maybe disassociation is a better word, as most of the thoughts swirling around in my head have not a chance of happening. I usually come up with something like this for speed:

I am dusting the course. No one expected this dude from Kansas to win here, but due to brutal conditions and a little luck a sub-18 hour performance is enough for a guy no one has ever heard of to win.
At the finish line, sponsors are actually fist-fighting to see who gets to talk to me first. My family is there, with Mom telling everyone "that's my boy!" Trust me, spend thirty seconds with my Mom and she'll launch into the story of me, starting with'd be lucky if that story lasted sub-18 hours.
Jurek is there, having dropped under the pressure of my relentless attack. The friendly wager we made pre-race has him cooking me a steak.
I pull off my shoes, shake out the toenails, and open my first beer...

Well, you get the idea. In other words, speedwork for me is fantasy time, and whatever goes on in my little head can be as true as it needs to seem to get me through the workout.

This day, though, a bit much. Eight miles at 8:00 mins per, with the last two being hills. Tweaked something, drove too hard, extended my legs way too far out in front of my hips. Here's the short math: $600 in therapy, another couple hundred in massages, THREE prescriptions for pain, muscle relaxer, and inflammation. Just to do the Squaw Valley shuffle.

Since returning, I wasn't able to get back in the groove. Not healed! So, I opened a beer (I never call the man when I'm sober) and dial up Bad Ben. Tell him the story, whine a little, might have cried.
He knew exactly what I was talking about. Knew, in fact, nearly the exact date it happened to him and what to do about it. The exact exercises in the gym to perform. Etc, etc. And I'm happy to report that it is working fabulously! SO, this is a long-winded way to say "Thanks, man".

Jurek, get back on that grill...and put that cute little apron on while you're at it!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rock Creek #3...night version

My only report from this race is that this may be the only race where I beat Dave Wakefield to the beer cooler. Except I wasn't running, but I'm still counting it as a win!

Great time overall. Big thanks to Willie and Karen Lambert for putting it on!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Psycho Psummer

Great time volunteering at this past weekends Psycho run. The Nerds always put on a quality event and I had been jonesing for the opportunity to help a little at one of their races. Some thoughts:

- to the two people I sprayed with water who were disgusted with it: I am sorry, I don't know what I was thinking. I look forward to seeing the two of you in the next movie about Badwater.

- to the guy who simultaneously threw up and thanked me for holding him up while he did so: you are welcome, sir.

- if you ran this race, you know by know that there is no part of your body I will not ice/massage/etc...'nuff said.

- thanks for the beer, Brett! Nothing says ultra volunteer like a steady diet of PB&J sandwiches and alcohol.

- Thank you to all the runners, and congratulations for having the courage to be there.

- I can't imagine the amount of work that goes into planning and executing this race. Thanks to all those who made it happen.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Western States

I have taken some time to craft this, instead of my usual "sit at the keyboard and type the first things that come to mind". However, I am motivated by the supreme efforts I saw at Western States to put a little more thought into this one.

First off, big job by Gabe and Rick Mayo in pulling out sub-24 hour finishes! I'm not going to say any more on that, anyone who didn't already know these guys are animals has a lot of catching up to do on the local ultra scene.

I was pacing Willie. First time pacing, ever. First time on WS course for Willie and I. Maybe first time in history that a WS rookie has chosen as a pacer someone who has not even ran 100 in one week, let alone one day! I can't describe how amped I was. I had my race gear on way before necessary, and as Willie entered Michigan Bluff I thought I was going to jump out of my own skin. At that point, I could have paced an elite.

Except, a great many elites had already dropped by mile 55ish. Think stifling heat. Unforgiving terrain. Lots of folks who had previously dreamed of doing WS, and maybe even finishing top twenty, suddenly thought of something better to do:
- "Maybe I left the light on in the hotel room? I'd better go check!"
- "I haven't called my Aunt Mildred in awhile! Somebody point me to a pay phone immediately."

Or whatever.

I won't detail the overnight trip. Willie has already blogged about it. And while I don't remember reading this anywhere, I like to think that the little things that pacers and their runners share should be kept inside. It's a special thing, like the time your Dad drove you down a country road, tossed you the keys, and gave you the go-ahead to take the wheel. Somehow, the telling wouldn't do it justice.

I wanted to leave a note on his blog. Text maybe. Or maybe send a card. How do you explain to someone that you learned more about running from their example than anything you've witnessed to date? What version of Hallmark card will convey the appropriate message to a man who has trashed himself for 26 hours and still retains the will to do battle? How do you reconcile with being back in the real world, away from the trail, everything is so surreal because the effort, the WORK that you witnessed still brings tears gushing out of your eyes five days later?

I have no idea what to do, so I'm posting this instead...thanks for the keys, boss.

Peace, Lee C.

Monday, June 15, 2009


This one's for Gary...

When I started blogging, I titled this based on my experience (none) with the ultra-distances. To date, I'm quite comfortable with the rookie tag for several reasons. First and foremost, I find the elites and pluggers like me (and everyone in between, for that matter) blogging about the same set of circumstances surrounding their latest personal bests...or worsts. The heat, the terrain, the incline, the food that stayed down and the stuff that didn't. New gear. Lost drop bags. Distance does not care whether you've stumbled through one ultramarathon or 200. It is the perfect vehicle to humility.
I also still feel like a rookie for a few reasons related to my own running. Am I made for 100? How fast can I run one (a ridiculous question, in that the speedwork I did ten days ago strained my hamstrings and threatened my ability to pace for Western States, but one still wonders)? Where is the balance between running for so many hours a week and still being a well-rounded individual? If running defines a large part of me, how will I deal with it if I ever can't run due to age, injury, etc? While I want to live life to the fullest, I don't agree with that whole concept of beating the crap out of yourself just to be able to proclaim "Wow, what a life!"

Of course, there is never really a final answer as to what accomplishment really is. Gerry Lindgren was once quoted as saying "If you don't know why you run, you'll never be a good runner." I don't know if I agree with that or not, but if I find out why I run I'll let you know.
Finally, the word "rookie" was so battered around during my days with EOD MU5 that it became a constant way of reminding me that everyone has stuff to learn. Anyone who tells you "do it this way, that way won't work, I know, I know..." is full of shit. It's different every day, every run, every runner. In that sense, we're all rookie.

Sometimes the running gets control of me. Too many miles with no quality, too many times declining dessert, too many missed glasses of port. Too much doubt about my potential. And sometimes I'm in complete control, striking perfectly the line between training and living. Feeling capable, I can do it all. But not often enough. When I'm satisfied with my evolution, maybe I can change the title. It won't be because I have crossed a certain number of finish lines. It won't be if I get the hard-to-earn buckle. It will be when the balance I seek between running and the rest of my life is more defined. While I do have some long distance goals, I see a lot more 10k's in my future than ultras.

The rookie is out...Peace.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Road shoes

Nice hodge-podge of stuff going this past weekend:

Friday pm I took off from work early to go to Outback. Big meal, followed by ice cream and brownies at home. Saturday I had to work until 10pm, and when I got home I walked into a raging party. Big booze fest...Saturday was my birthday, and nice to know somebody could party since I had to work.

Sunday was the most fun, as I got to go on a longish run with Willie and MK Thompson. When we started it was about 93 degrees out, and I felt fine. For the first ten miles or so. Then the heat, or maybe it was all that pavement, started wearing me down. I have been running nearly exclusively on treadmills/trails, and definitely wasn't prepared to do eight hours on pavement. My whining worked, and we cut the run short and back at Willies house for 21.3 miles in just over 4 hours. Willies post-run analysis: "I knew we were in trouble when I saw those white shoes...I don't think I've ever seen Lee in a pair of road shoes." Willie and MK went back out for another few miles: I dug around in the cooler and grabbed a post-run beer. Felt good. Shower and bed immediately...I know, supposed to refuel but I wanted a pillow worse than food. Woke up this morning 5 pounds lighter and way dehydrated, go figure! It's taken most of today to get enough liquid back in the tank.

So, two more weeks of around 50 miles, then a week of 25ish before heading out to Cali. I have been practicing my singing for Western States, and it is still awful...should make it easy for Willie to stay awake!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

God bless the men and women who serve our country. GO NAVY!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


On Saturday I had the opportunity to run the Berryman 50 miler, situated in the Mark Twain National Forest. The run would be two 24.8 mile loops with a short out and back at the start. Celebrity sightings pre-race: Caleb Chatfield, Greg Burger, Paul Schoenlaub, and Darin Schneidewind. The weather was perfect at the start, a change for the area that had saw rainfall every day for over a week. Remember the windstorm/tornados down in Missouri a few weeks ago? Produced about twenty downed trees on the course that required crawling over or under to get through. So...pretty weather, fun trail!

We took off at 630am, with me leading the "Masters 'whousedtobefastbeforeallthesurgeries' Division". My big hairy audacious goal for this race was under 10 hours. My primary goal, as always, was just to finish. In talking with some vets from the course, I settled into an 11 hour plan, wanting to make the first loop about 5:15 and go from there. I was using a two bottle belt for hydration, something new for me but on Rick Mayo's advice I wanted to skip every other aid station on the first loop. Worked out beautifully, by the way. The first 5 miles of the course are extremely runnable: flat or gentle downhill, mostly in creek beds that had water in them.

Question to self, mile 3: Did I put blister shield on my left heel? (answer later)

The next five miles or so provided a great mix of rolling terrain, some mud pits, and some rocky stuff in the 2 creek beds that didn't have water in them. I hit Brazil Creek, around mile 16, at 2:50 and after soaking my hat and refueling I left out with caution. Again, Mayo had warned me that there were a couple of miles of hills after Brazil so I tried to conserve energy and use this time to enjoy the scenery.
Folks, you shoulda been there. I didn't even know the forest could get that green! There was poision ivy everywhere...just another plant to me, as I'm not allergic to the stuff (thanks, Mom!) and it added to the lush appeal of the place. I was really enjoying myself here: everything about the place reminded me of my childhood home. After a couple of miles the course leveled off a bit (more rocks!) and then came the trees. I had already navigated around a few, but in the last 6 miles of that loop there were at least a dozen huge poles directly on the trail. I was glad that I was a bit ahead of schedule pace-wise, as some of these took some time to get around.

I hit the turn at the five hour mark. These "turns" scare me...they are bad. Family and friends are there. The grill is sizzling. Beer is cold. Everyone is in a lawn chair that looks like a recliner. The car that will take you home is there. I was in enough of a hurry to get the hell outta there before any bad thoughts could creep in, but Darin REALLY helped with that. He had ran the marathon and was absolutely dying to go another loop, but had stuff to do with his family that afternoon. Seeing Darin all torn up about not running the second loop made me feel pretty lucky. Darin got my bottles filled, Jenny came through with the electrolytes and gels, and I was back on the trail in under five minutes. Twenty-five to go.

Answer to previous question, mile 27: "No, there is no blister shield on that heel!"

Also, around mile 27 the tops of my feet began hurting. really. really. bad. I figure this is just lactic acid buildup, so I come up with a new plan. Slow down a bit, pound the electrolytes, freeze my paws in every creek on the course, and things would get better.

Things did not get better. Things most certainly got worse.

It turns out that the low cut socks I was wearing had fallen down into my shoe. The shoe starts chewing up my ankles and the tops of my feet. I leaned against a tree and studied some abrasions, bruising, and some significant swelling. OK, then, new plan: if walking hurts this bad, running can't hurt any worse, so I might as well run. That worked for about two miles before I started getting food/drink plan was so dialed in that I was peeing every thirty minutes and felt great, so I suspect that the distraction my feet had become was now messing with my stomach. I did not take my shoes off because of the swelling, kinda like not opening an envelope that you KNOW contains bad news. So, I walked. And though my feet felt terrible, my stomach felt alot better. New math: I'd rather feel good, besides the feet, and walk than to feel bad and try to run. So I basically walked it in. I would run in spots, but they were few and far between. Since I've already touched on what the course was like, let me share some random stuff from the last 18 miles or so (it's all a blur anyway):

- those flowers are pretty.
- I like the forest.
- I wish there was a toilet out here. With a magazine rack.
- I wonder where I'll eat lunch tomorrow.
- "SWEET CAROLINE...duhduhduh...GOOD TIMES NEVER FELT SO GOOD (sogood!sogood!sogood!)
- Saw Mark Koester out there, looking good. A runner in a trail nerds shirt always picks me up. I ran for 50 steps with him. Adrenaline surge!
- These trees are bulls***! We could have done without that out and back, I've ran a marathon around these trees!
- I am Spartacus!
- Ouch!
- A year ago I would have quit this.

A serious note, I need to practice downhill running and lift more. My uphill stuff is good, but the quick, light turnover I used downhill for the first 20 miles left too quickly. At the last aid station, I was offered a beer. I didn't drink it, but that offer somehow gave me the motivation to jog in slow to the finish. In fact, this still hurt worse than walking but I figured there wasn't enough course left to get sick and DNF.

So, I got there around the 12-hour mark. I could have chosen different socks, but then I wouldn't have had to face being hurt with miles to go. The course was beautiful, even when my plans had fallen apart I enjoyed the scenery and terrain. David and Victoria White put on an excellent race, and the volunteers were angels. I proposed marriage to at least two volunteers who gave me cookies and popsicles.
Overall, happy boy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Update on Berryman

Finished Berryman in 12 experience was enhanced by wearing some low-cut socks that made for a really neat 2nd loop, I'll get the report out in a few days.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Waiting on "GO!"

Perfect taper week, for once!

I am usually a bit stressed the week before a run. I have figured out that the aches/pains everyone normally shakes off during training are given increased attention during taper time. Stuff that seems like no big deal any other day of the year (work, allergies, whatever) is magnified, at least for me, just before the run. Mostly because I'm not running as much, so I have time to think "The mail is late today...I wonder if that will effect my 50 mile time on Saturday?"

But just this once, it has been awesome! Life has slowed down to a crawl, and even though I'm on the weather channel website every five minutes to get the forecast (rain, rain, rain), I have been unsuccessful in stressing myself out. Confidence may be a bit of it. When I was asked to pace for Western States, my runner had no evidence that I could actually run for forty miles. For WESTERN STATES? ME? That's like putting everything you own on a donkey to win the Kentucky Derby!

But now I know I can. I know, I know... I will respect the distance. And I will demand respect from the distance as well. Just say "GO!"

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rock Creek Trail #2

Seen from a volunteers perspective, some notes for the Rock Creek Trail race this past weekend:

- congrats to all the runners. As much as I enjoy seeing the speedsters display talents I only dream of, its every bit as much fun to study the faces of the folks I usually run with...back there.

- Volunteers galore. Bo and his kids; John and his crew; Barb; Jenn; Christa; MK and Gabe; "workhorse" Askins; and at least 6 other people I missed. I am so taken with these efforts that I'm having a hard time with the words. If the execution of this race is to be a machine, ya'll are truly the wheels. Thank you.

Thanks to RD's Karen and Willie Lambert for setting this whole thing up. None of us can volunteer or run without these opportunities. I used to think that life-changing experiences were tied to the distance of the event. I think now that every event offers that experience for those who seek it.

- Finish line beer is the best in the world. When I retire, I'm never going to a bar, I'll just show up at races. I like the atmosphere better there anyway.

- Bit of personal info that I've not asked permission to share, so I won't use her name...a female runner came through our A/S and when I asked her if she wanted some food she declined, pointed to her stomach and said "Gut issues". She is one of the toughest runners I've met, so I wasn't overly concerned as she headed on. She stopped in her tracks, turned and gave me a hug for luck at Berryman next week. We've all fought that same stomach stuff, but to be caring enough to show some love for another runner whose race is a week away? Incredible. It would take a damn sight more than gut issues to keep this lady from doing anything she set out to do.

- Something that goes overlooked, but Kansas Trail Council is a constant in keeping those trails up and maintained. If you find another trail that was more runnable than Perry on Saturday, study it're probably on pavement.

- See ya'll at the night run...Lee C.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Whataday, whataday!
I knew an old football coach who used to shout this before the start of every practice. Shouted with enthusiasm, it was still a pretty generic call to battle in my opinion. Until Monday.

Monday morning after work I grabbed about 4 hours of sleep before cutting the grass. Laid down for about an hour before the UPS guy woke me up (What can Brown do for daysleepers?). Then squats and lunges before meeting the locals for "Hawg trot", a run that begins and ends at a BBQ restaurant/bar. Nice little tempo run, although my stride is too inefficient and I usually have little aches/pains in my feet after these things. Went home, showered, then work. Got off at 6am and caught a 10 minute nap in the Great Plains Running Co. parking lot before Willie showed up, went to scout the trails for Rock Creek #2. I did a 6 or 7 mile jog before giving up the ghost and walking the rest of the way in. My paws were hurting enough by then to practice some visualization of being up all night, hurting, and still having miles to cover to finish. A slice of convenience store pizza and a shower before FINALLY getting back in the rack for some rest. WHATADAY, indeed!

Mileage-wise I'm a little behind schedule for the week, but rest and recovery for the foot will have to be keys for the next ten days leading up to Berryman. I'll pour on the low weight/high reps in the gym for two more days this week and nurse the foot as best I can. Mentally, I find great inspiration in what I know from my peers. It wasn't that long ago that Christy Craig was fighting knee trouble, only to spank 40 miles at Free State. Willie has a foot story courtesy of the Mother Road 100, but has refused to let that keep him from doing the things he wanted to do. Colleen was technically dead with a cold for a month before Rocky Raccoon. Gary has been training for Leadville with Colorado beer.

Bottom line: thanks for the inspiration. I learn enough from ya'll to keep stumbling through this thing we do.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Stuff that means absolutely nothing, in no particular order:

Berryman 50 less than two weeks away. Running around 45 miles this week with a couple weight sessions thrown in, then 6 day taper. I like to start "food tapering" about ten days out, very clean diet, then slow life down to a crawl and severely reduce mileage about a week out, seems to work ok for me.

Thinking in the shower today what a neat thing it would be to have the "runner craze" really take over this area. Picture businesses that have the following voicemail message: "On Wednesdays, expect increased volume as Lawrence Trail Hawks have post-run meetings at our restaurant."

Or a sign: "This store closes at 5pm on Mondays to allow our employees to attend the 'Hawg Trotter' run on the Shunga trail."

Please send up a prayer for GH, who has a drinking problem.

Coffee is good.

Pumped about Rock Creek Trail Series #2 this weekend. Yours truly will be out there somewhere watching all of you get a good sweat on. I like to watch other people exercise, it makes me feel healthy!

Salomon XA Pro Ultra update: ran 40 miles on these puppies nearly out of the box last weekend...good shoe.

Would anyone like to cut my grass?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Free State

Showed up for the Free State 100K in a weird state. I had been battling the start of a head cold and no time to rest the week prior, other than reduced mileage, so I was really pretty antsy. After an hour of the usual pre-race chatter we headed off. This was my first time at Lake Clinton, and I was surprised by both the volume of mud and the topsy-turvy terrain. Yes, all of it IS runnable, unless you're me. Anywho, started extremely slow and the first five miles didn't suck so I ramped it up just a bit. Finally caught up with Willie and we rode into the start/finish at around four hours. Quick stop and back out for the second loop, which was markedly slower, around 4:15/20. I had some stomach issues by then, and if I am proud of anything it's that I was asked "Are you sure you want to do this loop (the third)?"
Yes! I was prepared to walk, which I mostly did. Willie and Colleen did a good job of being there for me and later allowing me some time to regroup. I kept repeating to myself one of my favorite quotes: "Do the thing and have the power". I kept this up for awhile while formulating the new plan: make it to KUS aid station, jog/walk to final A/S, save enough to haul ass to the finish. I was still talking to myself when the rain and lightning started to get interesting. I couldn't have been more pleased with the cooling rain, I had been feeling muggy for a bit.
Somewhere around mile 48 I found Willie waiting for me. I knew he had been holding back a bit and we trudged toward the KUS folks. Willie mentioned that they'd probably call the race if the tornado sirens kept going off. I hoped they didn't, namely because I felt like an animal running around in the woods in a hailstorm with severe lightning adding to the fun. About a mile later we see Phil Sheridan running down the trail, game over.
Good call. If my family had been out there I would have pulled them, too.
Couple of quick mentions: the volunteers were outstanding! Thanks so much for your hard work!
Nice work, Dave Wakefield, winner of the 40-miler.

Deb Johnson: "This is my third 100K, and we've had tornado warnings during two of them!"

Lee: "So, are you excited about Leadville, Gary?"
Gary: "Not right now I'm not." (around mile 45).

Willie: "These shoes don't handle mud very well!" (the man who has the most techncial knowledge of gear in our area, said around mile 51. He is a quick study.)

Lee: "I thought you said we were going to take it easy here!" (from around mile 36 to mile 40).
Willie: "And I thought you said we were going to do the first loop in 4:20!" (went under 4:00)

Willie: "Well, do you wanna try run 2/walk 2?"
Lee: "You can if you want." Pitiful.

Berryman is next...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Springburn is the new Hardrock!

Friday had a date with the treadmill. Like most, I generally find treadmill work boring and use it mainly to stay out of the cold. Not so on Friday. I grabbed some 5 pound dumbbells, set the incline on 15%, and let 'er rip. The first hour was hard enough, but the word "boring" never crept into my head. The second hour I started to get the "goose bumps" I always get when my electrolytes are gone...who brings food to a treadmill workout? Though the weather was pleasant enough outside, I wanted to focus on the constant incline work to make sure I am prepared for California in June (although the section I will be running on is not that bad terrain-wise, I don't want to be an anchor if Willie wants to start knocking out 8 minute miles. Pam Reed writes in her book, The Extra Mile, that energy is contagious, and while a happy, fresh pacer can really help to melt the miles a tired, overworked pacer becomes either dead weight for the runner or an excuse to drop.)
All the way through the third and final hour, those dumbbells made it seem like I was carrying my runner. I must have looked the part. A fellow was standing next to me saying something. I removed my headphones and grunted. He repeated his question "Are you training for something?"
I am gasping in reply. Yes. Springburn. 5K.
Dead serious, I put my headphones back in and finished the hour. Ya'll would have loved the look on that dudes face.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Berryman 50

Topsy-turvy week, beginning with the aid station relays for Rock Creek Trail Series #1. From the first person I saw come through the aid station (Gabe Bevan) to the last, it was inspiring. Plus, Willie really takes care of his volunteers. Thankfully the rain held off. Fast dry course.
Got Berryman 50 entry confirmed, filled rather fast. Rick Mayo tells me it's hot, with hills, and possibly standing water.'s Rocky Raccoon, all growed up! Looking forward to the wife being at this one as well. Good times!
Just got word that Dad is in the hospital, heart condition. So, unscheduled trip to Carolina to see them all. Will fuel early-morning and late night runs with REAL sweet tea in between fussing over Dad. Dropping out for about ten days.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy feet

Fake summer is awesome! Monday was 10 easy miles on the river trail in Lawrence. Tuesday another 10 on road, only because I know I'll get to spend a few days this weekend at Lake Perry with the Rock Creek Trail Series. What a difference warm weather makes!
Doing around 40 miles a week, increasing slightly leading up to Free State. Can't wait to see everyone at these races...

Friday, March 6, 2009

My constant aid station

It has been an epic week for yours truly when it comes to gear.

I had heard that the Pearl Izumi Infinity compression shorts (read: really cool underwear) were coming in to Great Plains Running Co. this week, so I was pumped about that. When I went in the store to buy a pair I discovered that there was a pair of Mizuno Wave Ascend 4's in my size. I fell in love with the previous version, and they have done a super job with the update so I was waiting on those to come in. New underwear + new shoes = happy boy!

So while I was doing some laundry today I did a little self-inventory of my clothes. I have a pretty respectable inventory, given the amount of time I've been running. I noticed that there was not one piece of gear I could identify as being unnecessary. This is not something I can take credit for, but I think a testament to the folks at Great Plains. See, they don't sell me stuff I don't need. I like my salesfolks to be available but not pushy. Further, they know what the gear is designed to do: this shoe can handle rocky stuff, this shoe likes mud, this shoe will replace your Viagra prescription. Also, the staff there pays attention to the customer. I realize that is not exactly a novel concept, but nothing keeps my wallet closed like needing help with something only to discover the employees at (fill in the blank) are playing grab-ass with each other.

One more thing, and maybe the most important: they value the idea that we all have potential. A year ago I was a fat guy who couldn't have told you the difference between a Saucony and a glazed doughnut. I just knew that I wanted to be a runner. I had a great deal of self-doubt about getting into running, but I had to lose some weight somehow. The staff didn't have any doubts that I could, and thank God for that. And even though I was just in there yesterday, I can't wait to go back.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

weird week

Took a break from the long run this week. Don't know if that's smart, don't really care, just felt like I wanted to do some shorter, quicker runs and give the bones some rest in between. Monday was Lake Perry, 12.5 miles, 2:07. At 6am Tuesday I met up with Willie Lambert for what turned out to be a nice little 7 miler. That afternoon I did another 10, but at a pace that barely qualifies as jogging. Killed some treadmill incline Wednesday.
Just a very random few days leading up to March, when I'll officially begin the training cycle for spring. Peace.

Friday, February 20, 2009

No need for speed?

So, I have been incorporating some speed work into my running diet. Actually, it's "faster than normal for me" work, which is painfully slow by most folks' standards. While I do think it's helping my development as a runner, it's painful for me and hideous for others to watch. Ever see those fast guys doing their track workouts? Feet barely touching the pavement, both legs working perfectly together, the whole windmill movement of their lower body...beautiful. My legs seem to work independently of each other, with one leg wanting to slow down and the other wanting to stop altogether. As I repeatedly remind myself to "hold form", I discover that my face has scrunched up in a grimace, like I'm gulping suppositories instead of electrolytes. When I concentrate on relaxing, I look down to find my hands flailing about, tensed up, or engaging in a little game of "rock/paper/scissors" betwee my right and left hand. I'm thinking of putting something on speedwork could become an internet must-see.
Today: 6 miles, average of 9:20 per mile off the bike path at Lake Shawnee. I would send you the video if I had one.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lake Perry yesterday

Even though it has been over a week since we got back from Texas, I didn't feel completely at home until yesterday at Lake Perry. Had a vague plan to get in some miles and ended up running 20. Beautiful mild weather. The trail there is so familiar, and when the weather or time constraints force me to the treadmill it's like I'm being punished. I crave being on that trail the way a weightlifter must crave the squat rack. Good to be home.
This week I'm shifting to 3rd shift for a few months. This should be interesting, I've never slept well during the day. Of course, sleep deprivation workouts should be a major strength by the time I revert to my home shift...see, there is a way to make EVERYTHING about running!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


First run today, flat dirt trail for about 5 miles. Legs felt a bit heavy but didn't feel like I was pushing myself too hard. Will continue to have a light week and start back training next week. Free State is next...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don't mess with Texas!

So, on with the details...
Thursday, Willie Lambert and I got on the road for Rocky Raccoon. Drove down to Denton, Texas. Everything is bigger in Texas (I love saying that). Anywho, had pasta at Carino's and turned in for the best night of sleep I've had in awhile. I continued to remind Willie on the trip down "Don't mess with Texas! (I really love saying that). Friday we were on the road for the remaining few hours to Huntsville, got there around lunch and checked in with the KC trail nerds. When I walked up to the shelter, the first thing I saw were all these unusually fit people drinking Red Stripe. EVERYONE had a beer in hand. So, when in Rome...
That afternoon I had car legs and needed to take a walk. Willie and I walked up the race course for about a mile, looked flat and fast. That was going to help, as none of us are heat trained so early in the year and the forecast was for mid-70's to 80'. Later that afternoon I ran into Duncan Callahan, accomplished ultrarunner and cross-country skier. Duncan previously won the Leadville 100, he's the real deal. And let me tell you, he has to be the neatest elite you'll ever meet. He introduced me to his wife, Annie and I got a photo. Cool. The next day on the course as we pass each other heading in different directions Duncan is calling me by name, giving me some runners love. That's why Duncan rules. See, when you're running 7 minute miles, competing for first at everything you do, when shoe contracts and other endorsements are hanging out there, you don't chat it up with some plugger like me who will be lucky to finish the 50 miler without blowing up.'re Duncan Callahan. I'm voting him Coolest Elite Ever. Period.
Later that night Willie suggests steak as the pre-race meal. We went to a local place called The Junction, accidentally ran into Darrin and Darci so we had a nice meal together. Sleep that night was not fitful, I was just ready to get it on. Saturday morning as we are preparing Willie says "Lee, remember...just for today...You need to mess with Texas!" Awesome, thanks Willie.
At 6am Willie and the rest of the KC group took off, with the 50-milers starting an hour later. Through the first loop I felt very strong and relaxed. On the second loop I felt great even as the temps were making things interesting. I was running along with a wonderful soul who pointed out a strong looking runner in front of us and said "She's on pace to finish in under 12 hours". UH-OH, wrong pace for Lee. I stayed with her until the aid station, but after that I kicked it up a notch. I had just gotten so comfortable in "start slow mode" that I just kept it for the first 26 miles or so. Ran in the second lap and had a too-long aid station/drop bag digging stop. Eight minutes was too long and I was fretting leaving out for the last loop.
But it was beautiful. Harder than I had expected in that I was slowing at this point, but still just awesome. I had so much confidence from the last few months training that the last 10 miles just flew by. Learnings from the race:
- confidence and training have to be dialed in for the 100 miler. I saw folks out there who may have skimped on that. Colleen, Nick, Gary, Darrin, and the rest of our group were absolutely dialed in and rocked it, which proved to me that I need to do much more focused training before I attempt the 100.
- have some things I want to tweak this spring, especially in the speed and intermediate distance workouts.
- using the Rachele Pruett mental approach to ultrarunning does alot for me mentally. Rachele would not DNF unless there was an ambulance involved.
- Jenn Franklin helped me clean up my diet the last few months, as well as being the best training partner ever. Jenn has become my pacer of choice. Thanks, Jenn.
- MK Thompson has something nice to say to me everytime we run together. MK is all natural, prescription free happiness. I've never had a bad time with her. Thank you.
- Willie, I don't have the words. Oh, wait a minute, I do...Don't mess with Texas!
- Trail Nerds at large: you guys are awesome!
- To Karen L. and Jenny C, thanks for letting the men go be boys...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rocky raccoon short course

First 50 miler down. 10:28:05. YAY!