Monday, August 2, 2010

Week in Review and My Burning River 100 Experience

This week was another ho-hum week of training in the sense that I logged less miles than I would've liked. The quality experiences I had this week are some that I'll never forget, and that will help my own training in a substantial way.

Thursday was my last run before heading down the the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run. I did a 6.5mile run at a comfortably hard(but not quite tempo) with my friend Abbey. We took the long way to campus to go watch the "Out of Shape Mile," an informal 1 mile race at our school's track. Im not even sure of the details, but the name of the race is an absolute misnomer. All of the runners participating are either high school, college, or post-collegiate runners. Well, all except me and a a couple others. Three of these runners work at our local running store and are really important to the local running/community wellness scene. Their contributions to the efforts to make Kalamazoo/west michigan a fitter place are much appreciated. One of the employess happens to be Ryan Sheehan, who recently place 4th in the USATF Nationals for the 5k. Needless to say, I was a bit out of my element. I've never raced a mile, and even my 5k races can be counted on one hand. Since everyone there was really fun and excited to do the run, I decided to join in. I stood around a bit, thirsty from the run to the track, the runners decided to head out for a warm-up of about 2 miles. I immediately realized that their warm-up pace was just a little slower than my mile pace. I could have been dropped on the warm up by everyone.
Joey, a friend and fellow exercise science student, was kind enough to stay with me even though it may have been an uncomfortably slow pace for him(he's incredibly fast).

The mile race went fairly well, although I could feel that I ran too slow, even for my ability. In retrospect, the first 800m felt too easy, but I always fear going out too hard. My short-distance, anaerobic-esque endurance is fairly limited. Upon finishing my third lap(1200m), I turned my head to realize that I was about 3 seconds from being lapped by Sheehan, who ran a 4:19. My only real goal was to not get lapped, so I succeeded in that respect, even if just barely. I found a "rabbit" on the last 600m or so and just followed him in for a 5:34(I think, within 2 sec one way or another).

I was have mixed feelings about the time. If I wanted to be negative, I could say that many guys my age have little difficulty hitting a mile time like that with some training. But there is a definite upside. At Mind the Ducks, a 12hour ultra in New York, I was able to run an 800m(a little short, actually, .49xxmiles) in 2:44. My 1 mile race didn't even have a split that low. I ran a faster 1/2 mile with an 11 hour and 55 minute warm up than I did fresh. That defies all logic, but it does confirm my suspicions that I have mental issues to work through when it comes to speed and racing.

That was the longest race report from a 1 mile race ever... If theyre's a direct correlation, then my Woodstock report should be 100 times longer.

In Other News...

I was given a special opportunity this weekend. I was asked by my friend Jason Robillard to be a pacer and crew member for his attempt at the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run. It was such a surreal and enlightening experience. I'll post a more detailed report of my experiences once I read Jason's report and feel less lazy.I don't want to take anything away from his race report(since most people who read my blog are followers of his, I'll refer to his blog for the great report to come). His last 100miler had a novel of a race report(with yours truly in a short cameo- but I won't let the fame go to my head...). I will say that my experience with short ultras does not translate, nor does it compare, to anything in the 100mile range. I learned a great deal and loved the experience. Jason's wife, Shelly, is a great crew leader. She showed our new friend Barefoot Art and I how its done and flawlessly led our crew of barefoot gypsies to a successful race for our racer. Her hilarious personality kept me laughing all day and she knew just what to do every time Jason came down the trail to the aid stations. Art's tactful organizational skills and steadiness were a great supplement to our antics and made the experience flow very well for us all. He was also great fun to have around. The entire experience left me perplexed. Why would anyone do this to themselves? How can a person keep going when they can't even stay awake? Of all the people here, why am I pacing the dude in a kilt? Where do I sign up?

Many recently acquired friends finished the race, showing class and the utmost of sportsman(sportsperson?)ship along the way. Rachel Sterk(crewed by Phil Stapert and Ben Eggers) did an awesome job and stayed solid all day. Even when in a low, she still managed a smile when we cheered and waved. Jimmy V showed the Burning River who's boss and finished strong with his crew of badass ultra girls. Jeremiah Caltado ran a jaw-dropping 22 hour time and ran a strong as we all knew he could. I wish I could've watched him more; I think I could learn a great deal. I wish I could remember the names of the crews we bonded with over the day, watching and cheering their racers on as they cruised through the aid stations. I feel like I got to know lots of people without ever even introducing myself(sounds creepy, huh?).

Anyway, heres a breakdown of yet another unmotivated week of mileage:
Monday: 6miles (48:00)
Tuesday: 8miles (1:18)
Wednesday: 17miles(2:30)
Thursday: 11miles(1:24)
Friday: nada- travelled to Burning River
Saturday: 36miles(12:30) night time pacing duties for Burning River(this may need adjustment)
Sunday: travel back home, passed out repeatedly.

Total:78 miles(18:30)


  1. We are looking forward to crewing for you at Woodstock. I told Jason I wasn't sure what I wanted to do race-wise. There is a possibility we might just crew for you. Since I'm running more races than I ever have in one year I might either do a short run or just tag along for your adventures. I'm in a weird running limbo where I'm not sure if I want to tackle speed or distance. Ok, I will stop typing : )

  2. Shelly, I'd be honored to have you crew for me. I'd have to give you the honorary title of "crew chief," since you've proven to be so qualified. As long as finances come through, we should be in business. Don't take any time off on my acccount though. I'd like to see you tackle that 50k!

  3. Oooh! Crew Chief... I would have to make some t-shirts for sure :)

    I would like to tackle the 50k too but I'm thinking next year might be the time to do that. I'll keep you posted.