Monday, September 6, 2010

North Country Weekend: A report

This may end up being long, so bear with me.

I guess I’ll start with a little background. My last actual ultra was the Mind the Ducks 12 hour, directed by Shelly Viggiano in Rochester NY. Mark , Jason, Shelly and I headed there to kick off what would be a great summer of running. My race report from that can be read at the Runner’s World Forum, and Jason’s 5-installment report of the race can be read here. To save some time, I’ll just recap and say that I managed 64 miles and had a good time. This was the last time I ran over 50 miles in an actual race(note complete lack of sun exposure). Also pictured is 24 hour specialist Rebecca Schaefer.
This kind of planted the seed to run the 50 at North Country, since the distance had already been covered. The difference was that instead of 64 miles in 12 hours on a very well-supported, paved, ½ mile loop, it would be 50 miles over unknown terrain in the Manistee National Forest.

My original plan was to run either the 50mile or newly added 100k at the Woodstock races in Pinckney, Michigan at the end of September. But after some coaxing and bribing from my friend and training partner, Mark, I was registered for the 50 at North Country. Mark was even kind enough to float me a loan for the registration fee before the race filled up. He's not only a role model of mine as a runner, but as a person.

About 1 month before the race, I figured our travel group for the North Country Races was complete. A whole group of us would be meeting to camp, eat, drink, and swap stories and jokes. I would be joining a large group of friends, some close, some that I had only met online or only through hearing crazy stories. Food, lodging, and good times would be provided, which was far more than I had anticipated. Before hearing of this, my plan was to sleep in my car at the nearest legal(or hidden) spot to the race start. Minimalism has its limits, and a nice tent beats my stuffy old Subaru that surely would still have muddy trail shoes and my mountain bike tire in it. The nearer the weekend drew, the more excited we all became. As one could infer from my previous blog posts, I was less than impressed with my own training, but was looking forward to a fun weekend regardless. As long as my knee held up for the majority of the race, I’d call it a success.
Due to some circumstances and an open marathon entry, I had the great opportunity to invite my friend and training partner, Alex Poulsen. He hadn’t run a marathon, but had been trail running with me all summer and was steadily building his long run with his speed. As an accomplished cross country runner, he’s proven himself at every distance from the track to the half-marathon. Alex and I, along with some other runners(all better than I) compose what is left of Western Michigan University’s track and cross country program(we have track and xc for women, just not men. I won‘t complain; I‘d never make the cut). We have helped each other through tough workouts and coaxed each other into piling on miles over the summer. Alex would be racing his first marathon on some pretty tech trails, and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that he’d be bringing home some hardwear. His long runs are tempo runs for me… when I can keep up. Part of that is the way our brains are wired. A larger part is that he is actually a secret government funded humanoid running machine(citation needed). More on his race later.

After Mark’s planning and my avoidance of planning, we finally decided that He, Shelly, Jason, Andy, and Ryan would meet at my house. I’m on a short summer break, so I’m away from school for a few weeks. They would pick up Alex and I at my house, since it was relatively close to the highway. We all met right on time…if this were two time zones away. The only reason I was on time is because the meeting was at my house. I have a feeling that was part of the plan - odds were not as good that I would come up missing or show up late. We took some pictures and my parents actually got to meet the group of barefoot gypsies I often travel with. I talk about them so much, I guess its only fitting that they put names to the faces. After that, my parents asked if they would be able to see me finish. I told them that I would be done anywhere from 8 hours to 15 hours after 7:30am.

We rolled out of my house and hit my dusty washboard road toward the highway. Two exits later, we decided to get some food and gas. This is how we travel. We’re not good sitters, and we talk too much to be in separate cars for too long. A not-so-quick stop at Arby’s, some gas, and we were off…for another 20 minutes or so. We had to stop at the final store before heading away from modern civilization. The Meijer in Ludington was our final stop for last-minute vices. We stopped off for some wine and I bought some Red Bull. Shelly and Jason bought some wine. Ryan suddenly exclaims, “We can play Slap the Bag!” He likes it when I quote him in my blog, and given his last minute decision to run a marathon on (the last half in socks!), he deserves at least that much.
Side note: I don’t necessarily condone the repeated use of energy drinks, especially without excessive testing in small doses. I have found Red Bull to work well for me after using it for workouts. The buzz lasts a couple hours and seems to bust me out of funks. The notorious energy drink “crash” doesn’t really seem to happen during long runs, as energy gets depleted anyway. Accompanied with more complex carbs like Hammer Gel and some sort of solid food like pretzels or other aid station fare, it works pretty well for me. What works for me may not work well for another person, so caution and experimentation is really important.
So that final stop, we were off and driving again, with about 30 minutes until reaching our destination. Rick and Julie were kind enough to not only supply us with food and water, but a place to stay. They made a head count and set up their camper, a tent, and a makeshift shower. The field next to Julie’s parents was mowed for us to have room to camp and enjoy the fire.

We unloaded our gear and drove 1.2 miles down the road for packet pick up at the start line. We waited in line, joked around, and said generally inappropriate things to pass the time while we waited in line. We got to check out the start/finish area and gaze down the trail to catch a glimpse at what was in store for tomorrow. Alex and I couldn’t take it. We had to run it. We had our running shorts on and tossed our swag bags in Mark’s car. We decided to do just a quick out and back, then jog back to the campsite. We checked out a mile or so of the trail, and hit the road. Rick passed us in his car on the way back and asked, “you guys need a ride?” We declined and said we were trying to shake out the stiffness from the car ride. He told us we would regret it in the morning. Rick’s got a good sense of humor, so he joked with us a bit and sped off. We grabbed a beer on the way in and joined the festivities.

Several new people were at the tent. We met Micah from the east coast, who was looking to conquer the 50mile distance. Judging by his solid training and level-headedness, he was going to do it smoothly and be really successful. He and another guy named Johnny had both been dabbling in “natural running” and were doing some training in Vibram Fivefingers. Of course, we were able to talk quite a bit about training and life in general.
After hearing a great deal about him, I got to meet Rick’s son Jesse. He explained that he was “out of shape” and just looking to have fun and run a good marathon. We had quire a bit more in common than our name and had some laughs. After some more talking, I realized that his “out of shape” includes times I could only run after getting bitten by a radioactive spider.
We ate our food, which was delicious pasta prepared be Julie and the rest of the family. It was then time to hydrate. I wish water came in glass bottles and aluminum cans, because there were 7 or 8 empty ones next to my chair after a couple hours time. My tendency to self-sabotage had been in full swing. “oh damn, I’d better have some water” I said to myself as I tried to maintain a normal walking gate to the cooler. I realized that I had stolen Chris’ chair, a sweet zero-gravity chair, as he is squatting on the ground in his crappy beach chair. He was gracious and kind enough to insist I keep using it.
Lots of laughing took place, we talked running, swapped old race stories, and let everyone in on some of our inside jokes from old trips. Some inside jokes are funny after the fact, others are totally un-funny. We all decided to hit the sheets about the same time. Which was about 11:00 or so. I knew I wouldn’t be sleeping well, so I was in no hurry to get to bed. I never sleep well before a race, and have even PR’ed for 5k distance after an all night Relay for Life walk at school. I had slept fairly well all week, so I figured I would just get what sleep I could and hope for the best. Allergies took their toll, as did the anxiety and alcohol as I tried to sleep in the tent. I felt as if I was waking everyone up with my noise. My constant tossing and turning on the tent floor sounded like a crumpling bag of potato chips, so I had to be careful not to wake anyone.
Finally, the sun started to peak up over the treeline as I heard, “You joggas ready to run?” Jason, as usual, was up and ready to go. He told Alex and I that he would wake us about 20 minutes before they left for the start line. That was about 15 more minutes than I needed, so there I sat, in the tent, making one half-assed attempt to relax and count my breaths before the bustle of the prerace environment got me all giddy and happy to take off. Alex, Jason, Shelly, Andy and I hopped in the car and I pinned my number onto my shorts. Time to join the herd for the big stampede! The Canadian and United States national anthems were played, as both countries were represented that day. Ryan exposed his techy, nerdy side by pointing out feedback and poor sound quality.

We waited around, standing anxiously. I filled my water bottle and talked to a few familiar people. I saw my friend Phil Stapert, one of my ultra running role models who, whether he knows or not, has taught me a great deal about our sport. As the 50 was getting ready to start, I wished our marathoners good luck and safety. Alex was looking confident as usual. I wished him well and told him to give me a verbal shit storm if he saw me walking. Shelly looked calm and collected, and for good reason. She knew she had the marathon distance in the bag and was running her second one in a month! Her progress in the last year is nothing short of amazing. Mark is always in good spirits. He gave me a hug and wished me well. I told him to stay strong and have a good time. Telling Mark to run strong and have fun is like telling a rock to sit still.

Ryan was registered for the half marathon. He put in a solid 10-11 mile run on a section of the North Country Trail in Hesperia about 2 weeks before the race. He looked good afterward and the 13.1 would have been in the bag…so he switched to the full marathon the night before the race. A ballsy, rediculous move that made no sense- classic Ryan. We wished each other well, and Jason and I reluctantly walked over the 50 mile start.

The runners all gathered in the parking lot. I had no idea where the actual start was. I took my usual spot in the back/middle of the pack, where all the fun folks reside. The sense of genuine excitement for one another is best there, so I never saw any start line. I heard a faint, “GO!” over the loudspeaker and we were off. It was a bit of an anti-climactic start, but I wasn’t really paying attention either. I wasn’t totally awake yet.
I started my shuffle, then realized we were really moving. I was in the middle of the pack, running an 8 minute pace on pacement. I told Jason, “This course isn’t hard, its even paved!” To get the full 50 miles, they RD must have had to add a short out and back in the parking lot. Jason replied “yeah, we’ll be done in no time running this pace!”

We cruised past the start line again and got to be applauded by those who would be racing the marathon or the half marathon. The race was quite crowded as we shuffled into the singletrack, meandering through the scenery for about a mile. I made passes whenever I could. I would ask people if they minded if I snuck around them at the next available spot, and they all gladly made concessions for me. The sportsmanship at races always impresses me, which builds my love of the sport. We finally got to a climb that felt like a little over a 1/2 mile of steady elevation gain. The trail was a mountain bike trail, so rather than a steep, technical climb, we were treated to a long, sweeping climb that encompassed a gully. It was a breathtaking scene as I could feel my heart rate rise with the climb. Next thing I knew, we were taking off downhill again.

This is where I met "Ohio" and Chris(I really hope I got the names right).They were accomplished runners who were going for approximately the same goal as I was. We decided to team up and tackle the 8 hour finish together for a while. There was a moment when we were dipping below 8 minute mile pace on the incredibly smooth descents, and were able to use the momentum to power up the climbs. At approximately mile 6, we reached one spot on the course that branched. The options were to go straight or take a hard right. The race director told us that no stakes means to stay the course, so my first thought was to continue going straight. There happened to be a small directory for hikers on this particular corner, so Ohio and I slowed down to look at it. Just as we decided to take the left, Laura(who would lead the women) confirmed that we were going the right way. She had run the course before, so she was certainly an asset. I got separated from my new friends at that last aid station.

I found out that there was NO Gu on the course, so I my only choice was to cram the solid, unportable food in my mouth at the aid stations and use a 50/50 mix of Gatorade in my water bottle. The Gu had never been distributed to the aid stations-a major oversight on the race staff's part-so I had to use this makeshift fueling strategy all day. My original plan was 2 gel packets per hour, and some solid food at aid stations. This would keep me light and eliminate the need to carry anything but water all day.

I ran with Laura for about 8 miles of the easier part of the loop. The was a very talented runner; her pace was almost perfect and she was really consistent. We chatted a bit, and I used the opportunity to pick her brain a little about ultras. She had a one man support crew at the aid stations, and watching how fluid they were made me think about having a crew for my next ultra, she barely even slowed down when I had to stop completely. The adrenaline rush of aid stations spurred me on to catch her again, but its so much more efficient to stay smooth.

We entered a new trail, and immediately after an aid station, we were met with a pretty long, winding climb. Every time we made a hairpin corner, we were met with another section of hill to climb! When I move out west, I'm going to get my ass kicked at mountain running. Im used to a constant barrage of small climbs, not sustained climbing. The most long climbs I do are at a tiny local ski area on my route home from school when I visit my parents. It was then that we were finally able to make our descent. I began stutter stepping behind Laura, and realized that my legs were still fresh enough to bomb the downhills. I just used my inner moutain biker to glide over the roots and rocks, going as fast as gravity would let me go. My quads weren't even hurting, so I let it fly. I passed Laura and told her I was going to let gravity do its thing. She laughed and I told her to scrape me up off the trail when I crashed.

The next few miles were uneventful. I was alone and enjoying the quiet, singing a few songs to myself as I kept a decent pace, feeling great and smiling to myself. I glanced down at my Garmin 405, and I realized the "virtual partner" feature was activated. It was then that I remembered that Ryan and I had traded watches. My battery was not lasting as long as it previously had, so Ryan was kind enough to swap with me, since his race was shorter. Just as I was thinking that things were going pretty smoothly, I found a Gu on the trail! The small pull tab on the package was peaking out of the dirt at me. I stopped, picked it up, and stuffed it into the waistband of my shorts. It was a chocolate one- my least favorite flavor. I'm not one to refuse presents from the trail gods, so I took it with a smile and saved it for later. The trail smoothed out, and the only obstacles were a series of 3 foot tall rollers on the low spots in the course. I picked up the pace without realizing it, hitting a mid-7 pace on the flatter sections! My heart rate felt good(guestimation-I never use an HRM). Every time I hit this pace, I felt as if I was making a wager. Would I regret running this fast when I blow up, or would I be further along on the course when my inevitable fizzle occurs? Regardless, I kept relentlessly charging forward while I was on a high.

A few miles later, I had come to a few large hills. I powered up them, but they took their toll. I was fatigued, and couldn't ignore my urge to walk. I took tiny running steps up the hills. I found out after running it that the course contains an 8-9 mile stretch of energy-draining hills. I heard some rapidly coming up behind me. I thought to myself, "Is someone putting the surge on me at mile 17 in a 50 mile race? He's a better athlete than I'll ever be!" Hopping around on my left, I caught a glimpse of the blue jersey of Sam Darling, the man who would go on to win the marathon. He was blazing by me, and I thought I was moving at a good clip. Incredibly impressive. One more marathon guy passed about 10 minutes later. He asked if I saw any other marathoners. I said "you got 'em! Not too far ahead! Do a tempo 10 miler and kick his ass!" Sam was flying; I don't know if anyone on the course was going to be able to catch him. I must have run into the half marathon course, because I began having to pick my way through the racers that composed the back of the pack. For the most part, I just went off course and skirted around. Where they are in the pack or how far theyre running didn't really matter. Running is all so relative to the person doing the racing, so I did my best not to interrupt their race. I did get that chance to see Sam, a girl I met at one of the Barefoot Running University clinics in Grand Rapids. She was running the half and looking great. We traded smiles, congratulated each other, and went about our way.
I walked another hill. Of course, on my second bout of walking a hill, I heard a familiar voice yelling behind me. "Is that you walking, Jesse!?" I look back to see the glorious combo of a highlighter yellow Brooks ID singlet and a blue "Bank of Michigan" trucker hat. Alex was in third place! He blazed by in pursuit of the leading marathoners. As he passed, I felt the sting that is my running club nickname. "Hobby. Jogger," Alex calmy said with a fececious heir of contempt. I told him to run like hell and chase down the finish.

A few more miles had passed, and we finally were on a part of the course that leveled off. Chris and I had met up a while back and were talking alot on the course. I don't know if it's normal to talk so much during a race, but I was enjoying myself, so its all good. We passed a few more 13.1 racers, cheered them on, and finally rounded a corner that took us toward the start/finish line. We heard Bart Yasso himself over the loudspeaker. "We got some ultrarunners comin' in people!" We rolled in with a great deal of excitement, and I immediately saw Alex. He rushed over to ask how I was doing, and I told him I felt great. I asked his time, and he told me he ran a 3:14. I was at a loss of words. How the hell does someone run 3 minutes away from a Boston their first marathon...on technical trails!?

Bart Yasso walked up and told me that Chris and I were in 1st and 2nd place. I assumed he was messing with me. I could clearly see other runners ahead of me when the race started, and hadn't seen them since. Apparently, there had been some misunderstanding with the frontrunners at the aforementioned unmarked corner. Though it felt a bit opportunistic, I felt a surge of adrenaline as I downed my first Red Bull and Grabbed another for the trail ahead. Chris was kind enough to offer me a couple gels from his own private stash, as well as a mini Clif Bar. Mr. Yasso asked me if I was carrying a pack. I told him no. He asked if I had a drop bag. I told him no. I was wearing what is best described as a mesh house shoe. To be called a true minimalist by one of the figureheads of the running world is certainly awesome. We surged down the trail and talked about how something must have gone wrong. Either way, the leaders with the guts to stay in the race would have to come take their spot from me!

I felt much more comfortable knowing where the aid stations and the more difficult sections of trail were the second time around. Chris and I talked a bit more, but got separated on the downhills. For some reason, I felt loose all day and was able to float down the downhills. I think training barefoot and in different types of minimalist footwear has taught me not to rely on footwear for solid downhill running. Utilizing the built up heel of a standard running shoe, in my experience, is similar to running down a sand dune. The absorption of the force allows for stride rate to slow and a straightened leg to hit the ground. In a shoe with no padded heel, the knee remains flexed and a light, fast stride is used to keep the body "floating" instead of repeatedly crashing. Dancing around the roots and rocks is a blast. When I'm feeling a good flow of energy on downhills, its as much fun as downing a technical section on a mountain bike or blasting down a ski slope. Rolling along with speed and feeling the wind in my sweat-soaked hair, I was at peace with my solitude. I rolled through two aid stations, chatting with the friendly volunteers as I made an effort to not completely stop moving. I had to stop to fill my bottle at every other AS, but other than that, it was two cups of gatorade and a hadful of oreos. Have I mentioned my love of oreos?

It was a couple miles past an aid station that I reunited with "Ohio." He and his wife were having a great time. They were both in good spirits. To me, Chris and Ohio epitomize ultrarunning(Not exclusively, I have many great friends that are role models not only as runners, but as people). Ohio told me earlier that he and his wife would be running the last miles together. Even with a chance to take an overall win, he still followed through on what he said. He exclaimed "I saved your spot, buddy! Get going!" He had his own specific goals in mind, and wanted to conquer a feat of endurance, and he looked like he was going to do it with ease. We talked a bit more and I was off, officially leading the race! Me, the king hobbyjogger, leading a 50 mile ultra. Absurd.

I rolled into the next AS, and nearly startled a group of volunteers. "You're our first customer!" they said as I perused the selection of treats. I grabbed my oreos and gatorade, thanked the kind folks at the table and took off down the trail again. I've learned that most food doesn't irritate my stomach on runs. I once stopped at a burger king for a double cheeseburger in the middle of a 14 mile tempo run with running club. That was certainly a test of my gluttony and my stomach, but any small amount of food typically goes by with little unpleasantness. I was temporarily blocked by a 7ish year old boy in the trail, most likely a son of one of the volunteers. I can't imagine having that kind of patience at that age. He was waving a large stick around as I passed him, and he accidently whacked me in my kneecap as I passed. I laughed it off and kept going. Kids are awesome. To think I may cease to be one some day is downright scary. I started a tough climb, and remembered where I was. I was heading into the section of tough hills, this time alone. I the hills seemed to start gradual and get steeper, so I ran as far as I could, then picked a landmark to start walking at. This worked well for me, as I was too tired to power up some of the climbs. It broke the task down into manageable pieces. If I thought even for a second that I had 19miles, 16miles, or 12 miles to go, I would immediately start thinking discouraging thoughts. Even when in the lead, motivation was fleeting.

I continued to trudge along in no man's land, still floating relatively easily on the downhills, and relentlessly moving forward on the ups. I made a sharp turn, and saw a glimpse of white coming after me on the trail. A real ultrarunner was coming back to reclaim his stolen spot. I immediately felt a sense of urgency as I ran a particularly long downhill section. My predator was temporarily at arm's length. I kept imagining the group of leaders barreling down the trail at me, stalking me and shouting, much like in post-apocalptic scifi movies. I was having visions of these running machines, hunting me down for sport and their spot back from the outsider. Of course, this was my crazy imagination run amuck in my solitary and hypoglycemic state. All the runners I encountered were class acts all the way. I passed through another aid station, this one having a supply of delicious, albeit stale, grilled cheese. I downed one of the delicious sandwich slices and sped off. As I left, I saw the same runner again. He was closing in again, and I remember a section of tough climbs ahead from my previous loop. It wasn't long before I heard the footsteps closing in. On one small uphill, I was finally passed. Brad Hinton had taken the lead, but wasn't flying past me. I smiled and said, "I've been saving your spot for you, its nice and broken in!" He kind of smiled and stepped ahead. I asked him how he was feeling, and he replied positively, but I don't remember exactly what he said. For the next 6 miles or so, I latched onto his pace. This man is one tough son of a bitch on the uphills! I maintained a run and glided on up some of the stuff I almost fell backward on. I walked some hills and watched him fade up to the top. Luckily, there was a down for every up. My legs were still feeling fresh! I glided and hopped down the hills over roots and logs to make up the time I lost on Brad. Without fail, he would then respond with a great climbing effort and the scales would tip again. We passed through one more aid station. The AS was on an uphill part of the course, so he naturally arrived first. The only issue with aid stations on this course was that water bottles had to be filled with cups on the tables by volunteers. At this particular aid station, it was kind of a "first come, first served" basis. Brad got his bottle filled, grabbed some Gatorade, and was off. The woman working the AS sensed the urgency of the situation, and filled my water bottle with haste. She told me "go get him!" and I was off, thinking that I could get him, but I couldn't hold him. The next section whizzed by. I picked up my hill walking pace to stay right on Brad's heels while he ran. He started bombing the downhills to match my speedy descents. The head games were starting, and we had 5 miles to go. We jumped over some logs, floated some tricky, technical descents, and continued on the route of merciless climbs. There was a yellow cooler ahead, the final aid station before the finish. It was really close, possibly less than 2 miles from the finish. Brad skipped this aid station altogher, I grabbed a cup of blue Gatorade and threw it down(this was odd, every other AS only had green). I sprinted up to catch Brad, but once again, he was simply too strong to pass.

I bided my time. I had my ace up my sleeve. Im somehow able to kick, no matter how long I've been running, there's always more. I managed a 2:40 800m in the last 5 minutes of a 12 hour race. I've somehow scraped together a 19:00 5k in the last 3.1 miles of a 34 mile race. I feel like this is bragging, but my times at short distances are pedestrian at best. I have very little talent at at running fast on roads, but a experiences have led me to feel that there is something in me that works well under extreme duress. Brad and I ran side by side on a sandy, wider trail when we saw the sign. There was a sign that directed the marathon runners to their 1.2 mile finishing loop, and the 50milers to the finish. A cold beer and food was just minutes away. There was one final, small hill before a grassy 400-600m sprint to the finish.

The hill neared as I dropped back, just off of Brad's shoulder. We climbed the loose terrain as I felt the sand spraying off of Brad's yellow Brooks Cascadias. We almost reached the top of the hill, and I made my move. I side stepped and shot up the hill. Slapping Brad on the shoulder, I said, "let's kick this thing in!" I wanted us to give each other every last drop of what we had. I wasn't going to let him win with anything less than a run for his life, and I wouldn't give him anything less either. We both took off. This pace was easily a sub- seven effort in the sand. We rounded the corner, and saw the flags that would guide us in. A sweeping right turn, and we were in front of the crowd. Those that could stand were on their feet. I could't resist. I had to smile. Here I was, running stride for stride, pushing hard and only focusing on running. Running as fast as I could. The pace picked up more-Brad had answered my surge. I replied with more-He matched it and raised it. I matched is pace as we came in. The moment was perfect. Pure and silent and complete. I heard my heart rate and could feel every breath blasting from my lungs. One blink later, and it was over. I was in the arms of friends and could hear... nothing. I looked back at the finish line, and my adversary had collapsed in the yellow scaffolding that housed the finish line. I feared for his safety and went to go help. I had waited too long, and he had already been helped up by race staff. That's probably a good thing as I was probably incapable of holding up any more than my own frail body. I went to give Brad and handshake, and we essentially collapsed into each other. We knew what we had done. We ran a race that is usually won by minutes, sometimes over an hour. We finished within FAR less than 1 second of each other. I wanted an experience that would push my limits. It was given to me, not only by a distance or a course, but by another man. The finish can be seen here:
The finish, posted by Jason

Brad was awarded first place. I won't complain. I honestly can't say who won. The only complaint that I will actually make is with regard to the possible reason that I was given second place. The leaders had gone off course. Brad rallied and ran 53 miles in the exact same time I ran 50. The problem is that this isn't my fault. If this was the real reason that I was awarded 2nd, then I was essentially penalized for taking the time to read a map. I could go on and on with my speculation and rambling, but essentially, I will sum it up as such: I did NOT have any expectations to win this race but I did have a tentative time goal. Being in 1st place and fighting hard to the exciting end helped me reach that time goal. I wanted to find a part of me that had been lost, a part that genuinely enjoys running. This is what I did this weekend. It was perfect and I wouldn't change a damn thing.

Humans were once able to be a part of their environment, not the controller of it. We were once able to fly through our world without overly structured footwear and special suits that evacuate sweat. Our bodies are all made for this. Mine and yours.

Brad(seated) and I, moments after the finish.

Sam and I a few minutes after the race. The things I do for affection.
I don't know how to rotate images

some dusty ankles and some jewelery. Lots of rehydration to follow


  1. Fantastic post jesse. Congratulations on a fantastic race.

  2. unreal. did i miss your final finishing time? i am so lazy that i don't want to click around to find the results! as i said after MTD, with that sick last lap - God help us if jesse decides to focus on ultrarunning. way to go

  3. Shel- final finishing time(gun timed only) was 8:00:30. I started in the back of the mid pack, so maybe a little faster if I ever work up the guts to start in the front of a race. My goal time that I was too afraid to actually verbalize was 8 hours.

    Thanks Kate and Shelley!

  4. Hey, Thanks for the shoutout. It was great meeting you all. I had a blast for the time I was able to hang out at the campsite. Maybe some day I'll make my way back out there to run it again.