Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bills' Bad Ass Race Report - 13 Year Old Kid Runs 50k Ultramarathon

Well my title will give away the surprise, but I will still tell the story from the start.

Saturday was Bills' Bad Ass 50k.  Why the name?  Well historically, runners (and especially ultrarunners) have put on low key, unsupported runs called Fat Ass runs.  Well this run was low key but instead of unsupported, it had terrific support, including a well-stocked aid station and a finisher's shirt!

Sponsors of the run were Chef Bill and Wild Bill, both ultrarunners themselves.

The run was to start at 8 AM.  Luke and I were up by 4:30 and spent an hour at church from 5AM to 6AM as part of the quarterly 24-hour prayer vigil.  We then got a few supplies (Muscle Milk) and got on the turnpike for the 45-minute drive to Peninsula.  We dropped off a few things at the aid station - I had volunteered to bring some water and bananas - and then headed down the road to the Church In The Valley where Roy Heger was directing us to park.

Luke had a great cross counrty season with a 2-mile PR of 11:55 and also ran a 19:59 5k last month.  He has continued his training of about 20-25 miles per week, and was planning to pace me for 1 of the 6 loops (5 miles each) that make up the Bills' Bad Ass course.  I was kind of hoping for some company & encouragement later in the run, but Luke wisely realized that I would be pretty slow at the end and chose to run the first loop so that he could actually run it.

We waited in the car for a bit, as it was still chilly (29) at the start. Eventually we wandered over to the start and visited with a few people.  Chef Bill stood on top of his car with a megaphone and gave a few last-minute instructions.  Then as everyone was still pretty much just standing around, he said, "Ready?  Go!"

The 5-mile loop starts at the parking lot by the Everett Road Covered Bridge and follows the Riding Run trail and the Perkins trail.  This course is also part of the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run, but in the BR100 event they run the opposite way as we ran today.  Here is a video tour of the course prepared for the BR100.

Luke and I were actually standing off to the side by the bathrooms when the run started, so we didn't get off to a very good start.  Not that it matters at all in a 50k!  Here we are coming through the Covered Bridge at the start of the run.

We ran together for the first loop, chatting a little bit, and also sharing gloves.  Luke hadn't brought any so we traded mine back and forth every mile.  We were each wearing our Garmin 305's so we got a little chirp at each mile split.  As you can see, Luke was wearing the gloves in this picture.

During the first loop, Luke asked how far he could run, and if he could run the whole 50k.  I told him that wouldn't be a good idea, and suggested that he run 2 laps.  "Then if you really feel good, stop, drink some gatorade, refuel, walk the uphills like a good ultrarunner, and if you run 3 laps, that would really be a long run for you."  Little did I know!
There were 4 water crossings in each loop.  None were very deep, if you were careful you could tiptoe from rock to rock and keep your feet dry.  Here is a shot of Jeannine Nicholson & Ladd Clifford making their way across.

As we neared the end of the first loop, Luke let me know he planned to keep running.  I told him he could run at his own pace, and I would go on ahead at my own pace.  Our first loop split was 48:19.  I timed myself in and out of the aid-station, so did Luke.  We spent 39 seconds at the 5-mile aid station, and we were on our way.  All I had was some Gatorade.

For most of the 2nd and 3rd laps, I ran in a small group with Chris Basich and Mike Manozzi. Here you can see just my head, behind Chris, as we navigated the trails.  I took a tumble right around 9 miles, I was looking ahead for a good way to go around a sloppy mudhole and tripped over a root.  I tried to roll and somersault onto my left shoulder, as I learned during Running With Scissors that it doesn't help to try to catch yourself with your hands.  Chris commented that it was a "Pretty good fall!"

Mike is actually a champion racewalker, known as the Italian Stallion.  He's got a great attitude and should have a great future!  Here you can see just my left arm with Mike in the background.  My 2nd loop split was 47:38, just about 1/2 minute faster than the first time around.  I spent 1:21 at the aid station, having some Gatorade, Coke, and Muscle Milk.  I also had a few Swedish Fish candies, but they were really hard and chewy and stuck to my teeth.  I dropped my gloves in my backpack and headed out.

Much to my surprise, as I was heading out, Luke was coming in to the aid station, having completed his 10-miles.  His 2nd loop was 50:39, not too far behind me!  He didn't look to be struggling so I figured he would probaby go ahead and run the 15 miles.

My third loop was much the same as the 2nd, but a little slower.  And I realized that I was almost half done and had only had liquids.  My 3rd loop was 49:06 and I spent 2:15 at the 15-mile aid station, I had an orange Gu that really hit the spot!  More Gatorade and Coke.  And I took off my winter hat, trading it for a baseball cap.  Much to my surprise, as I was headind out, in came Luke, finishing his 15 miles, his longest run ever.  Great job kid!  His 3rd loop split was 54:31.

Now I have to admit a few thing, specifically my lack of resting in preparation for this run.  I did my longest run ever, the Run With Scissors Double Marathon, just 2 weeks ago.  Also, I donated blood on Thursday.  So my body wasn't really ready for this, and during the 4th loop I started really feeling it.  Also at this point I realized I hadn't taken any Endurolytes.  My first run with Endurolytes was the RWS, and I really think they helped my legs to not cramp up.  But around 17 miles, my muscles were definitely starting to feel fatigued.  I added a little more walking, mostly on the uphills, and my overall pace slowed by a couple minutes per mile.

I got back to the aid station for the 20 mile mark, my 4th split was 1:01:07.  Here is a picture of just some of the wide variety of food and drink available.  I had another Hammer Gel, a cookie, some Endurolytes, Coke, Gatorade, & Muscle Milk.  Anything I could to add some energy.

I looked around for Luke, expecting him to be around the aid station to cheer my last 3 loops, but I didn't see him.  I asked Chef Bill, "Did my kid take off on another lap?"

"Yeah, he stripped down, changed his shirt, and headed out again," was the surprising reply.  Oh well, there wasn't much I could do about it now.  I did have a blister issue on my inner right heel, same as in RWS, so I changed socks and shoes.  I was at the 20-mile aid station for a long time, 8:16.  As I was heading out, here came Luke in his familiar yellow shirt.  "Walk a lap if you need, be done, whatever" was my advice.

"I'm not being done!" he shouted back.  His split for the 4th loop was 1:00:31.  Little did I know but he had actually gained a little on me during that lap.

My 5th loop was a struggle.  I walked the uphills.  I walked the downhills where the footing was less than perfect.  Even on the flats, I used a pattern of run 5 mintues - walk 1 minute.  In my mind, I was resting and getting ready to push harder on the final loop.

As I was coming in to the 25-mile aid station, I had the biggest surprise of the day.  Luke caught me from behind!  He had only spent 5 minutes in the aid station, so my lead was cut from 9 minutes to 6 minutes right there.  Our 21st & 22nd miles were about the same speed, then he gained about a minute each on the 23rd & 24th miles.  And the 25th mile, mostly downhill, was the biggest difference as Luke gained over 3 minutes during that 1 mile.  The loop time for me was 1:09:40, compared to Luke's 1:04:00.

We both had completed 25 miles, and at this point any thought of pushing the final loop left my mind.  I only wanted to enjoy the final loop with my son!  We took about 4 minutes in the 25-mile aid station.  The temperature had risen and I decided to carry water for the final loop.  Someone from the aid station offered Luke a handheld bottle also, but he didn't want one.  We would be together and could share, neither of us is used to having water during our training runs so refueling every 5 miles is more than we are used to.

We walked together for several minutes of the 6th loop before deciding to run again. We shared stories of runs, views, and falls. Many people had asked Luke his age, and several had invited him to move to their town and run cross country for their school, including 5-time state champion Peninsula Woodridge.

Six 5-mile loops is only 30 miles, so to get the extra mile, at the end, we needed to cross the road, go up a hill with a steep set of stairs, continue up the hill until we find a basket of candy, pick up a pack of Smarties, and return to the aid station with the candy to prove we made it all the way to the top.

Near the end of the 6th loop, Luke dashed ahead on a downhill.  I became stuck behind a pack of runners that we were lapping on a narrow section of trail, watching Luke get farther and farther ahead.  I got around them as the trail widened and we approached the aid station.  I expected Luke to stop for one more drink before attacking the final climb, but he circled the pole and headed for the stairs.  My 6th loop was 1:07:37, he had gained 30 seconds on me.

I gave Chef Bill a look of dismay, tossed my empty water bottle towards my pile of stuff, and followed in pursuit.  My strength enabled me to catch Luke on the stairs, and we ran the top section together, hoping that the basket would come soon.  We met a few runners headed back down.  Finally there it was.  We each took some Smarties (last year it was Dum Dum's) and headed back.

We encountered a few runners still heading up, and I showed my candy and told the same joke, "Sorry, I got the last pack."

When we hit the stairs again, Luke seemed to be almost skipping down them while I was descending much more gingerly.  Luke created a gap between us then, to make matters worse, I had to wait for a couple cars before I could cross the road that last time.

Luke finished 24th out of 89 entrants (78 finishers) in 6:12.  I was one place behind in 6:13.

Conventional wisdom is that kids aren't supposed to run long distances.  But why?  The major worry seems to be overuse injuries such as stress fractures.

This would be a result of training for long races, not just of running them.  And Luke certainly didn't train for this!  Also, we worry about the repeated pounding on the hard surfaces.  Luke's 50k was run entirely on the trails of the beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  This is a nice soft forgiving surface.  I think he's gonna be ok!  He'll probably take a few days off.

Not me though, I've got to improve so he doesn't beat me again!

Thanks to Chef Bill and Wild Bill for an event that I will remember for a lifetime!  Thanks also to Laurie Colon and Mark Shelton for the pictues you see here!  And thanks to you if you read this whole thing!

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