Sunday, February 15, 2009

Psycho Wyco 50K

Yesterday was the fifth running of the Psycho Wyco Run Toto Run 50K, a well organized, albeit somewhat sadistic event put on in Kansas City by Ben Holmes and the Kansas City Trail Nerds. This is the third year I've run this extremely popular event and once again left me wondering why I decided to do this to myself once again. The three loop course is run on bridle trails throughout Wyondotte County Park, Bridle means trails more appropriate for horses than humans. The trails are rocky,rooted and rutted and the three loop 50K course contains almost 9,000 feet of elevation gain.

This year's Psycho came just one week after the Rocky Raccoon 100, where I pulled out at mile 63 with a thropping right foot. I had already made the decision to run Psycho prior to Rocky and decided to stick to the plan even though I knew it would be somewhat of a stretch to get through the 50K, especially if it was icy or was both.

The main reason for doing this had more to do with not wanted to miss the event then it had with really wanting to run it. Ben Holmes and the Nerds have done a tremendous amount of work growing the sport of trail and ultra running. They have developed a enthusiastic community of runners and volunteers that work hard, are fun to be around and deserve to have their activities supported. The aid stations at this race have always been well staffed, but this year's race was special, as over the past year I have gotten to know a number of the Nerds who man these muddy oasis'. The other reason I didn't want to miss this years race was to cheer on the continued influx of Topekans at this very off road event. The number of trail runners continues to grow in Topeka and it is very cool to see so many Topekans do so well yesterday. Among the top performances were good friend Dave Wakefield who took sixth overall in the 50K, Kevin Lemasters who took fourth overall and won his age group in the 20 mile. Kim Deckert who finished eighth in the women's ten mile while winning her age group and Becky Collins who was right behind Kim finishing ninth in the 10 mile.

All in all my race was pretty much a carbon copy of last year, finishing in 7:25, just nine minutes off last year's pace. Significant only in the fact that I had just run 63 miles last weekend and the mud was perhaps a bit worse this year. The real by product of "getting through" these two long weekend runs (other than a very sore right foot) is the endurance base and confidence to begin the heavy training for this summer's Grand Slam. The Three Days of Syllamo is just four weeks away. Three days, 95 miles and untold elevation change throught some beautiful, but brutal country in North central Arkansas. Last year, day two was full of challenges and I eventually completed just 31 of the planned 50 miles. My hope is that the Rocky/Psycho double has built into me a liitle more endurance for the long run ahead.

In closing, first; a big shout out to GPRC-Salomon runner Rick Mayo who tore up the course in and finished in second place and finally, a big thanks and congratulations to Ben Holmes and all his Trail Nerd volunteers for another year of fun on their sadistic slip-n-slide.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Rocky Raccoon 100

So, yesterday I had the opportunity to join some friends and run the Rocky Raccoon 100 just north of Houston, TX. I had not planned on running this event until about a month ago when I thought it sounded like "fun" and would be a good test of muscle memory as I had not run much since the Mother Road 100 due to a injury to my right foot. Well what I found out was that if muscles have memories, mine have chosen to forget. The lesson; attempting a 100 miler with a training journal low on miles and heavy on ego is not recommended.

Rocky Raccoon is an extremely well organized event run on a fairly flat twenty mile loop (for those with limited math skills that means you get to run the course five times) For me, multiple loop courses are somewhat mind numbing to begin with. In the case of the RR course, each lap seemed to grow increasingly difficult with steeper and steeper hills and tree roots that grew larger with each trip. The day was hot and humid with highs in the mid 70's, a bit of a shock to the system for those of us from points north, but overall a great day for running!

Early on I knew this was not to be my day. The course ran much tougher then I anticipated and although I was on track after 20 miles, the heat was starting to get to me and my right foot was already throbbing. After 60 miles I was still in the hunt for a 25-26 hour finish but the pain in my right foot was beginning to concern me and I was searching for a good reason to keep running.

There are races you dream about, train for, sacrifice for and once into, are willing to push beyond and through what may seem like reasonable reasons to quit, fighting on in hopes of finding your way to the finish line. For many this was one of those races, for me it was not. As I said I thought it would be fun and once it was no longer fun it was hard to keep going. So when the very real concern of inflicting long term damage to an already injured foot became an issue the decision was really quite easy.

The real fun of the weekend was not getting in a 63 mile training run but in seeing several of the Trail Nerds complete their first 100 Miler, watching fellow runner Gary Henry dig deep and get his RR100 buckle after a DNF here a year ago, getting to run 20 miles with fellow podiatry patient Ben Holmes, and having the opportunity to witness my friend Lee Crane complete his first 50 Miler in 10:28. Way to go Lee, Gary, Darin, Coleen, Gabe, Nick, Danny and all the others who got 'er done!