Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Acceptance and a Good Run

I should be studying right now. I have a chemistry test in less than 12 hours. I'll get to it after I purge some other thoughts.

I had a good tempo run with Alex today at a Fort Custer Recreation area. It was Alex's longest run ever and a decent tempo effort for me. We arrived at the trail at 9:00am, feeling adventurous and ready to explore a new area. I was hoping to get a mid-distance tempo run in in preparation for the North Country 50, alex was shooting for his longest run. We're two very different runners(this was a topic of discussion during our run), but we manage to play off of each other's strengths pretty well. The 17 miles went pretty well, other than my usual lack of planning. I hadn't eaten much for breakfast, and only brought water to drink. I had raisins and leftover GU from my last long run adventure, but didn't want to tap into that until at least the second loop. We hadn't planned for much heat or humidity, but the last hour or so of the run had temperatures nearing 90 degrees and the air was thick in the swampy trails.

This is the part of the run where a trained racehorse of a mid-distance specialist begins to differ from a "play it by ear" ultrarunner. We both wanted to be done and out of the uncomfortable heat, but Alex employed a "the faster you run, the faster you're done" logic and I simply went into survival mode. I maintained the same pace we had been holding all morning; he probably quickened the pace by about 20 seconds per mile or more. I think ultrarunning has engrained in me a "self preservation" characteristic that always leaves a little in the tank for later. Some may call this laziness. In my case, its probably true. I could barely match Alex's speed, but I felt like I could have slowed down and kept going. It may not even have been a difference in fitness, but perhaps just a difference in how our brains are wired. He knows, based on previous experience, that he can run fast. I know that I can run for extended periods if I conserve energy. Im hoping that continuing to run with those who are faster than me teaches me to set pain aside and do what my body is capable of doing. Since I haven't heard of many camels being genetically altered to become racehorses, this may never happen. We finished the run, wiped what sweat we could off of us, and headed for some locally grown vegan cuisine at a nice eatery...or maybe engorged ourselves on McDonalds and hit the memory is fuzzy.

This run taught me alot. I realized that running slow and long will not make me fast. Its going to take a lot of work to bring me to the level at which I desire to run. Its humbling to know that Im not a good runner, and this run brought me back down to earth. I can get there, but I think more experience and a considerable amount of hard work will be necessary for me to cruise the trails with the efficiency I dream about.

I suppose I shouldn't be so hard on myself, but its the way I've always been and I can't help but compare myself to others(despite my efforts not to). I know Im a good person with potential, so my self loathing does have its limits. I feel proud that I've only been running for 4 years, and last year was my first ultra(50k) and half-ironman. Human nature shows us that it's normal to always want more, and to attempt greater things. Its just important to keep things in perspective. Accepting that the processes involved in life don't always show progress immediately is important, and Im trying to learn that patience.

I feel a little better now. Back to the books.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Based on my experiences with my own search for minimalist shoes, as well as that of others, finding the right shoe to protect one's foot is always an ongoing experiment. The shoe must be responsive and thin enough to approximate barefoot running. There must be enough protection to make it more comfortable than barefoot running. This balancing act is certainly not a "one size fits all" situation. The continuum of keeping ground feel and adding protection is a different for any runner on any terrain. This is one reason that I'm surprised at the uproar and defensiveness exhibited by shoe companies a few months back, when barefoot running was getting a great deal of press. I'd consider myself a part-time barefoot runner, one that attempts to maintain a "naturalist" style of running, no matter whats on my feet. I currently own 5 pairs of "minimalist" shoes(minimalist being the relatively recent term given to thin soled shoes with no supportive features). These shoes are Vibram Fivefingers KSOs and KSO Treks, New Balance MT100s, an old pair of Nike Waffle Racer IVs(with the heel hacked off and the upper sliced up) and most recently, the Terra Plana EVO. The total value of these shoes is over $400. How could the shoe industry be worried about losing money? I've probably bought more shoes since my journey into minimalism began.

As I mentioned, I was given a new pair of EVOs to test out, with the stipulation that I write a review of them. I waited with much anticipation, and they arrived pretty quickly from the store in New York. If the service I received was representative of what any other customer will experience, then the company was well on its way to my approval already. I anxiously opened the cool-looking box, read through a little literature on "getting started," and looked at the shoes. After inspecting them closely, I found the quality be exceptional(not that I'm some sort of textiles expert). There were no seams in the upper, which looked and felt very breathable. The mesh upper was thin(almost transparent, with a lightweight, rubberized overlay on top of it, presumably to give it some rigidity and some strength). I immediately folded the shoe, curious about the flexibility. The shoe folded easily, ranking somewhere between KSOs and Treks with relation to flexibility. The design is a fairly ingenious idea- the hexagonal panels on the sole are rather thick, but the material between them is thin. The small hexagonal panels provide some protection because of their thickness, but the flexibility comes from the thin material in between. Where more flexibility is required,such as the forefoot, the panels are smaller and closer together, providing more ground feel and dexterity than the larger panels on the heel.

About and hour after trying the shoe on, I decided it was time to take them out to test. I drove to a local land preserve to conduct the test, but thought I should run in them on the road first. The plan was to do a 6 mile road run, then do about 4 in the trails, so I could get a feel for how the shoe behaves on both terrains.

Road Test:
The 6 miles I ran on the road went very well. I started out sore, but that was likely a leftover ache from the previous day's run. Once I loosened up, I was running at my normal pace, feeling as loose and easy as I do in my current favorite road shoe, the KSO. I was surprised by how the thicker sole performed on the road. The flexibility allowed me to feel road debris and gravel, but also dampened the jagged edges of some of the bigger chunks of gravel I stepped on. The heel has no discernible lift to it, so the sole performs well for a person who normally runs barefoot or in another minimalist shoe. My problem with most shoes is the raised heel, which seems to alter my biomechanics to a point of knee pain. The wide toe box of the shoe allowed my feet to splay as they do when barefoot. This is a key part to the "natural" feel of a good minimalist shoe. Racing flats, for example, tend to have the narrow toe box that binds the foot and restricts the splaying motion. I headed back on the nature preserve to conduct the rest of the test in the woods.

Trail Test:
I returned to the trailhead to start the trail portion of the shoe test. I stopped at my car to grab some more water and a gel(I hadn't eaten in a few hours; I was getting hungry). I felt a bit of a hot spot on my foot, on my achilles of my left foot. I was a little worried, but decided to carry on. The trails are semi-technical, but not a great challenge to run on. There are roots, rocks, hills, loose sand, and singletrack trails on a 4 mile loop .

The trails felt amazing in the EVO. The ground feel was quite impressive, but the thin sole made it very stable. The closeness to the ground, coupled with the respectable traction made the shoe handle very well on the trail. The upper is composed of a mesh that is very tight, so sand and debris doesn't get into the shoe(a common problem with very well-ventilated shoes) In semi-loose conditions, the sole provided good traction, more so than KSOs. On very technical sections, I had to exercise more caution than I would in an "armored" shoe like the New Balance 100. Sharp roots and rocks can certainly be felt in the EVO, but it is worthwhile compromise on all but very rocky trails with fast descents.

Later that day, I ran with Alex Poulsen, my training partner and an amazingly fast runner. He's been dabbling in barefoot and minimalist running with fantastic results. I asked him to try out the shoe to provide the point of view of a person going from more standard shoes TO minimalist shoes. My running experience over the past 2 years is either barefoot or minimalist shoes, so we come from different backgrounds. Alex has done some training in aquasocks and some barefoot, but trains primarily in NikeLunaracers(with about 800 hard miles on them). He really liked the shoe for the duration of our run. We even stopped by the track so he could do a quick(really quick) 400m. He really liked the shoe and is considering buying a pair. He is already a very efficient runner, so muscle memory and good form more than made up for any lack of ground feel in the shoe. The shoe earned his seal of approval as well.

Overall Impression
I really like this shoe. Anyone looking for an alternative to the popular Vibram Fivefingers would be well-advised to consider the EVO. The fit is much more forgiving because the foot is allowed to simply move inside the shoe, as opposed to the more precise fit required with Vibrams. The toe box is wide for my feet to move around, but I have normal width feet. Quality seems to be top notch and the design works really well. I would assume that the thickness of the sole will provide a long life for the shoe. The more conventional design allows for socks and draws much less attention than Vibrams, although they are certainly cool looking. Unlike Vibrams, I enjoy wearing the EVO for casual wear and walking around on campus and in town because they are so comfortable. They really do provide a feel that is close to barefootedness(as much as they can- they are shoes after all), but less stares and objections in public(there is NO law against being barefoot in public, but some are mistaken and can fiercely object).

As I mentioned before, the shoe is not perfect. The aforementioned hot spot on my achilles sidelined me for three days. It quickly turned to a large blister that became inflammed and kept me from running comfortably. I cannot entirely blame the shoe. 10 miles on a shoe, never having been tested, without socks, is a bit excessive. I do, however, feel that a minimalist shoe can be worn with no socks to provide the best ground feel. Maybe slowly conditioning my skin to the upper would allow me to wear the EVO sockless. The shoes are also a little on the heavy side when compared to KSOs. Even the NB100, a more substantial shoes, weighs about the same(I must admit, the weight is not very noticeable while running). Finally, my only other gripe about the shoe is the price. Terra Plana is certainly a shoe company for people who are willing to pay top dollar for products of the utmost quality. Their casual shoes retail for similar prices as the EVO(about $160US). Many people, especially those who are fans of minimal shoes, seem to feel that shoes should be cheap and last forever. A price in this range is quite unpopular with people who feel this way. I tend to feel the opposite way. There is about the same amount of material and labor in an EVO as a cushioned trainer. I don't feel that "features" found on traditional running shoes are worth anything at all, so value being placed on simplicity makes a great deal of sense to me. All in all, the Terra Plana EVO is a great shoe for those who run barefoot and want some protection, or even those who run in shoes and would like some benefits of barefoot running.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weekly Review Ending 7/25/10

I've learned something from this blog already. That thing is to stop planning. I planned on hitting about 100 miles this week in preparation for North Country. Planning was my mistake because it's just not my style. My best weeks of training have been products of sporadic runs and enjoying myself. Taking myself and my training too seriously has led to running being less fun. If I've gotten as far as I have by having fun, then there must be something to it, because planning and trying too hard has not gone well. I managed 45 miles this week- a far cry from the 100+ I had anticipated.

The week started out well, with a nice run at a reasonable tempo effort. I was then attacked by blisters on my achilles. Running 10 miles in an untested pair of shoes was a stupid move on my part. I attempted to continue on without letting the blister heal, but it then became swollen and caused my achilles to become sore and inflammed. My gait was affected by the soreness, and the opposing leg started to ache from overcompensating.

I muttled on through the week, managing a double of fairly respectable mileage. The first run of that day was a re-inforcement to the notion of enjoying the trail and taking in the sights and sounds. It's why I fell in love with running in the first place, and it can help me keep that feeling if I can forget the pressures. I ran sporadically for the rest of the week and capped it off with a great run with my friends Mark, Rick, Jason and Shelly. It was certainly a "low mojo" week.

It's become clearly obvious to me that I was inadvertently maintaining a delicate balance by just doing as I felt was right for the day, and trusting my instincts. My mileage-and run quality-went up by just mellowing out and not sticking to a schedule of any kind. I've learned this week to just let the flukes of fitness come to me and hope they're timed right for races. The endurance is there for me to actually enjoy the North Country 50- a true blessing for what looks to be a beautiful trail, and something I've never experienced in an off-road ultra. The speed shouldn't be an issue. If I'm truly enjoying the run, the speed will come. I've proven to myself in recent performances that I can run fast at a moment's notice, even when on the verge of collapse(Kal-Haven, Mind the Ducks, and my 68-mile adventure run with Jason and Mark). Bear in mind that speed is relative-Im not a fast runner, but every runner knows when they're running at peak performance, so I don't mean to sound overly confident.

Heres my week in more of a numbers form

Wednesday AM-14miles(2:15)

Friday- nuthin'- lack of motivation and excess pain in the legs
Saturday-nothing- started in a bachelor party early- no time for running shenanigans.

Sunday- 6miles(1:10)
Total- 45miles(6:44:00)
Not a great week from a performance standpoint, but I hope it has helped me realign my goals and keep me motivated. My knee is acting up, and I feel that the conservative approach is the best bet with my pacing duties and the 50 looming in the distance.

Another part of my week is the beginning of something bigger than myself. I'm heading to Northeastern Ohio for the Burning River 100(Most probably know this as they are followers of Jason Robillard's blog). As of now, Im Jason's only pacer for the race. I have to admit, Im pretty excited to take on the duties of pacing. Im anxious to learn the ins and outs of 100milers and to, in a small way, repay a friend and mentor who's done countless things to help me over the past year. Since Jason isn't one to toot his own horn, so I'll do it for him: He's underestimating himself. His training is nothing short of impressive. Considering relatively low mileage, his performance and recovery from long runs are great indicators of his upcoming performance. Im grateful to pace him for the last miles of the race.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekly review ending 7/18/2010

Not a great week to start out the recording my mileage in this blog. I guess rest weeks aren't supposed to be full of breakthroughs, are they? 32 miles of running felt very strange. Admittedly, I would liked to have run more, even if I had designated this week a rest week. I was hoping to still get a run in every day(maybe even an easy combination of doubles). Last weeks long run adventure with Jason and Mark Robillard took a larger toll on me than I had expected(68 mile double crossing of the Kal-Haven trail). Considering that my previous long run was 64 miles at the Mind the Ducks 12 hour, I shouldn't be suprised that this run took a toll on my body. The 68 miler was done at a faster pace overall, was self-supported, and was run in temps that peaked in the mid 80's, and was not preceeded by any type of taper. My legs had lost their "spring" and I knew it was time for a rest week. I mostly focused on running easy and sharpening skills instead of fitness. I worked on trail running skills, focused on form, and tried to find that easy, "go all day" pace just out of curiosity.

I also practiced running in shoes. I never thought I'd have to struggle with running in a real running shoe again. I've decided(tentitavely) that to run as fast as I can over technical terrain, I'm going to need some degree of pretection for my feet that is a bit out of reach for my Vibram Fivefingers KSOs, and maybe even my KSO Treks. For this protection, I've turned to the New Balance MT100. Its a great shoe with minimalist features(low heel, no arch support, no pronation control), but has a bit of traction and a rockplate to protect from roots and rocks. As minimal as the shoe is, it is still by no means an approximation of barefoot running. I'm still undecided as to whether the NB100 will be used for my upcoming 50 miler, the North Country Trail 50. If the race is going to be an all-out effort to run fast, then I will use the shoe. If Im going to run a little less recklessly, I may opt for my Treks or possibly the Terra Plana EVO(review coming soon).

My academic and social life has also taken its toll on my running this week. My summer schedule consists of 1 class, but the amount of studying necessary to keep my head above water is more than I've experienced in my collegiate life. My yonger sister's wedding was this weekend, and it was great to give the running a break and reconnect with friends and family. It kept me from running, but I was more than willing to make the sacrifice for my family.

Okay, enough of my excuses. Heres the breakdown of my running mileage this week.
Monday: 4 miles(34min)
Tuesday: 5.5 miles(45min)
Wednesday: 6.5 miles(55min)
Thursday: off- homework and lack of motivation, but got 3 bike rides in
Friday: 9 miles(1:15)
Saturday 7 miles(1:00)
Total: 32 miles(4:32)

For the next week, Im hoping to run in the 100 mile range, with no real discernbile long run. Hopefully I'll get in a few two-a-days(each run of double digit mileage). And a run on friday or saturday in the 20-25mile range. If I'm right, abstaining from ultra-distance long runs will help keep me somewhat fresh so I can go over 100mile weeks 3 weeks in a row. The 68 mile long from last week should serve as my long run for the upcoming 50 mile race. I know I have the endurance base, and the speed base will be addressed in the 3 weeks prior to the race. The upcoming cycle will be focused on maintaining a "comfortably fast" pace, even when not feeling 100%. Im cautiously optimistic about the race, but I think I have the opportunity to run a strong race.

One last note: Im hoping that recording my mileage on this blog will help me focus more on the intrinisic motivators to run. Trail running, especially ultras, attracts me because the idea isn't to be the fastest in the trail, but to try to become part of the trail. The thrill of the run should be what I focus on, not minutes and seconds and other minutia. Im concerned about caring too much about competition not running for myself, but I need those running with me to help me bring out the best in myself.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Minimalism and running

Running cannot be discussed without the topics of barefoot running, minimalism, and "the book," Born to Run by Chris McDougal. Im a bit proud to say that I discovered the merits of barefoot and minimalist running just barely before the big explosion. It was a strange means to a positive end, but actually started with an injury, just as with many barefoot runners.

I had just finished my first triathlon(see previous blog post). My first forray into endurance sports was a success, so I decided to keep pushing my limits. I also had a bit of a "split personality" of sorts. My teen recklessness needed an outlet, and I had found that in the sport of motocross.

I had gone up to the Kalkaska area of Michigan to ride some of my favorite trails with would-be brother-in-law Robb Bennett and my father Mike. These are some of my most cherished memories with both of these guys. My dad, who claims to be a poor athlete, had more endurance than I did at the time on a motorcyle even after getting into triathlon shape. We unloaded the bikes for a ride on a trail that we appropriately named "the black diamond."

Long story short, I was hit head on my a utility ATV. Im sure you've all seen them: Jeep-sized four-wheelers with steel brushguards, winches, and skid plates firmly attatched to them, weighing in excess of 600lbs. I was doing at least 30mph, and the ATV must have been going nearly 15. We met at the top of a sharply peaked hill, and never even saw each other until impact. I didn't know, but I had shattered my patella(knee cap) of my right leg.

6 weeks later, I was able to flex my knee. My physical therapist, though very supportive and optimistic, told me not to plan on running for a while. 2 weeks later I was hobbling to class with a cane, but determined. I set out for a 6 mile run. Im not sure why I set out to do 6; my previous longest run was 8.

How does this relate to minimalism? I'm getting there. I found that while running, my right(injured) leg hurt much less when I took shorter steps with it. Prone to knee injury before my catatrophic knee "rearrangement," I was worried that my limping gait would cause me more injuries. Then something began to happen. Rather than my stride returning to the normal excessive length in my injured leg, the uninjured leg began to take the after the injred one. My stride length had decreased, but my stride frequency had increased(this is one of the main components od barefoot/minimalist running, but I had no idea). The only problem was that my new, awkward gait was worsened by my shoes. My Asics Numbus 10s had large, cushioned heel. It was what I was told I needed as "oversupinator" with high arches. My logic as a fabricator and gearhead(I dabble in welding and metal fabrication) told me that "if its not working, hack it up until it oes." So there I was, in my garage, with a hacksaw. I "made" my own running shoes work. I was a little embarassed at first because "normal" runners can just run in shoes as they are. I was making adjustments for my handicap. I only found out a couple months ago that one of my favorite ultrarunners, Anton Krupicka, did this before becoming a "made man" with New Balance. I also found it funny that we've both been pictured running with button-down shirts on!

Since then, I've slowly transitioned to minimalist and barefoot running, occasionally reverting back to shoes. I wore cross-country flats for a while, then I decided to join the barefoot runners and train exclusively barefoot. I wanted to do this becasue I read testimonials about it being more efficient. As an athsmatic, I want to squeeze every ounce of efficiency out of my weak pulmonary system. It was certainly a huge time investment, but I feel that the payoff has been well worth it. I cut my weekly mileage from about 35 miles per week to about 5. It slowly crept back up, then I introduced Vibram Fivefingers into the mix and it took off. Since this winter, I have brought my mileage up to around 100 miles per week, all in minimal shoes, with my longest continuous run being 68 miles. Im hoping to get up to around 120 miles for a peak before my upcoming 50 mile ultra.

Im sorry these preliminary posts are so long. I feel like once I get my history established, I can be more direct and get to the point.

My First Post: getting acquainted

Im kind of starting from scratch here. I could backlog my entire, albeit short, running career, but I hope theres more to come than there has been in the past 4-5 years. To sum it up, I'll just explain how I got into running in the first place, and a few of my favorite experiences. I feel like a self indulgent ego maniac talking about myself like this, but "If the shoe fits..." or something like that.

I graduated high school never having run one continuous mile. My only running memory was "the fitness test" in 6th grade. It consisted of some sit-ups and push-ups, which were easy enough for a fat kid like me to fake his way through(collapse on the gym floor when the teacher had his back turned- Sorry Mr. Olsen). There was also the timed mile. For me, it may as well have been a marathon. Not exactly the biggest ego booster for the overweight athsmatic kid with Osgood-Schlatter's syndrome(bone spurs near the knee joint). I huffed and puffed my way to what I'm fairly certain was a 12 minute mile. Another bad experience was my attempt at junior varsity soccer. I was cut for being in piss-pour shape and not being athletic in any way.

Fast forward to the year after high school. I was taking summer classes at community college while working full-time. Math, along with running, was my nemesis at this point. For help, I called my cousin and lifelong idol, Mike. The athletic, smart, outgoing, charismatic childhood hero of mine was a doctoral student at Michigan State University. 4 years my senior, he was everything I ever wanted to be. Every girl I knew talked about how good-looking he was. Every guy I knew talked about how cool he was. I offered him a beer before we began our tutoring session. He declined in his freshly acquired Australian accent(he spent a few months there studying abroad) and explained that he was training for a triathlon. "I've heard of those," I said enthusiastically, glad that we'd found some common ground. "That's with running, and swimming and stuff, right?" He confirmed my answer and began to tell me about his training. I was so impressed and inspired. "There's one in town. We should do it together next year!" He told me enthusiastically. "That sounds great!" I said through my teeth. The thought of sustaining any tpye of exercise for 1-2 hours(sprint triathlon) seemed absolutely impossible, but how could I say no to my hero?
I bulshitted my way through the conversation, knowing I'd never be good enough for such endeavors. We continued on with the study session, I feigned an understanding of algebra and Mike met a group of friends for a round of golf. He was good at everything he did, but calling Mike a "natural" is a disservice to him. He put the effort and the thougt into everything he did.

Time passed and Mike continued on with his adventures, then thanksgiving came around. I hadn't seen him since our tutoring sessions, and was looking forward to seeing him and hearing of his latest adventures. The phone rang at my house at 3am thanksgiving morning. My mother, who's bedroom was across the hall from mine, rolled over and hit the speaker button to answer the call. I'll never forget the sound of my Cousin Jill's(Mike's sister)voice when she told my mother over the speaker phone that Michael, my hero, was dead. He was killed in a car accident on his way home from a bachelor party. He hit a tree with his car and was pronounced dead shortly after. Each member of my family would pass this tree on our way to work daily. I would never see him alive again, and I would carry him to his grave two days later.

It was then that I knew what I had to do. Energy can not be created or destroyed. Mike's charisma and zeal still existed, in me now, and I knew that the only thing I could do for myself and my family was to fulfill that half-assed promise I made that summer. I would finish a triathlon, come hell or high water. My Aunt Diane, with tears in her eyes, gave me slightly oversized Trek 1000SL road bike(Mike was about 2 inches taller than me).

I'll save the race report for another time, but the day finally came. I nearly gave up in the swim, but crawled onto shore, covered in weeds. I emerged from the water next to an 80 year old man. He looked better than I did. It was from that point on that I pedaled as hard as I could and never looked back. The course was on a route that Mike and I spent many days on: At the beach with our families, playing on his father's boat and camping, riding sea-doos on the lake, riding bikes in his old neighborhood. I rode 14 miles faster than I ever had smiling and thinking about the good times.

When the run started, I was so emotionally charged that I never felt the "brick" feeling associated with the second transition. My run training consisted of a handful of 3 mile runs at 9 minute mile pace. Little did I know(I didn't even own a watch), I was running at a sub-7 pace. With one mile to go, I knew I wanted to run until I collapsed. My lungs burned and I resisted the urge to grunt and groan like a wounded animal. I came into the finish line and collapsed into the arms of Michael's mother Diane. I told her that we did it. She told me that Michael would be proud, and that I reminded her of him with my determination. I've never been so proud in my life, and I still have yet to be. I didn't care where I placed, all I cared about was that I filled my obligation to my fallen brother.

Unbeknownst to me, I placed 3rd in my age group and ran a 5k that I wouldn't beat for 2 years. After a year of training, I would return to run the race a mere 3 minutes faster.

I have been given a precious gift, but at a tremendous cost. This is why I love running, but refuse to let it turn into a chore or a job. It will always be a gift. Every time I'm out, I smile and think of the reason Im enjoying the air in my lungs and the road beneath my feet.

It was then that I fell in love with all three sports, but running would always hold a special place in my heart. I worked my way up to marathon distance within one year and began to love trail running more and more with each outing. Im assuming that this blog won't attract too many who don't know me, so I'll just post race reports from now on as they happen, Not retroactively. I'll post a link to my race report for my 12 hour ultra, which is over on the forums. I'll also try to post some pictures from this story once I steal them from my parents computer at home.