Monday, July 13, 2009

Lunar Trek 2009 Report

Lunar Trek 2009 Results:
Lunar Trek 2009 after-the-fact Weather Report:

After a crazy two-day clean up from last Wednesday night’s monster hail storm in Wichita, I was tired, stiff and sore from cleaning up debris, raking leaves, and bagging 40+ bags of leaves and branches. Plus it was over 100 degrees both clean-up days! So being sore before you start an ultra is always a little nerve-racking, but it’s not the first time I’ve done that.

I rode up to Scandia, KS with Terry and Sherry Rider from Wichita. Terry is a fellow KUS ultra-runner from Wichita (who I ran the Flint Hills 50 miler in March with from start to finish). After a few blocks of driving in their 4 door truck I thought I heard some chirping. I smiled and turned around to Sherry, to see if maybe she was making the clucking noises? No, it was a bird! In a cage! In a truck! I said, calmly, “Is that a bird?” “Yeah”, they said in unison, “it goes with us everywhere!” Anyway…I thought…well that’s interesting.

We arrived at 8 pm at the race start and I had an hour to change and arrange drop bags and pack my pockets and camel bag with just the right supplies for the 100K (62 mile) start at 9 pm. It was still light out at 9 pm and for the first 3 or 4 miles or so of the run. I started off in a mid-pack of about 6. We held together for about 6 miles or so before spreading apart. I was running with Terry and Matt from Kansas City. Of course, it got dark, but because of the moon light I didn’t hardly ever even use my headlamp.

From 9 pm until sometime around 5 am it was mostly still (minimal breeze) and very, very humid (as high as 90% according to weather reports!) and warm – 80s and then dipping barely into the high 70s (though it didn’t feel like it) sometime in middle of the night. I’ve never sweat so much in my life, seriously! After 20 miles I changed my shirt because I felt it was actually starting to disintegrate. The bugs were out and on full attack, especially lightning bugs. The course was in great shape with absolutely no mud!

At Aid Station #3 in a barn, in the middle of the night, we were talking to a nice farmer man about the heat and humidity. He said what one day this week just a few miles away a friend of his who owned a feedlot lost 350 head of cattle in one day because of the high heat/high humidity which is fairly rare in North Central Kansas. The poor cows just fell over dead! At 35 miles Matt, Terry and I had hamburgers at the aid-station. Wow did that really help! Real food and protein and it fueled me for a long time.

There were only 11 of us who started the 100K and lots of others running shorter distances. Sherry completed the 11 miles. Two 100k participants dropped at 20 miles with non-heat related issues. The other 5 dropped at the 40 mile point. I arrived at 40 miles at 9 hours, which was 6 am, about an hour behind where I had hoped pre-race. I felt fine – legs relatively fresh and I was ready to get back out there. I grabbed some fruit and supplies and spent only like 4 minutes at the aid station and left again all by myself. By this point Terry had faded a bit behind me. In the end, he finished about an hour behind me.

I ran well for the first 10-12 miles of the last loop. I believe my 50 mile time was 11:10 or something. Then the “death-slog” set in for the last 12 miles. Definition: that terrible feeling in your legs where you just can’t seem to muster up enough strength to keep pushing. If I would’ve had a pacer I could’ve finished probably 30-45 minutes faster. It hurt the same whether walking or running so it didn’t make a difference, but I had just lost the will/drive/momentum and walked a lot in those last miles but not all of it. I tried a run 4 light poles and walk one strategy for what felt like hours.

Then a dumb dog decided he wanted to be my pacer. He was a lab pup who just wanted attention. He would try to trip me up to get me to pet it and bite my hands as they moved and anything to get my attention. He followed me for 6 miles before someone picked him and took him home! Thank goodness!

I never had any major issues. No significant blisters. No nausea, no dehydration. I ate dozens of PB&J rollups in tortilla shells and survived the last couple hours on granola bars among other normal ultra foods. I also drank a whole 12 ounce mountain dew at mile 50. When the sun came up and it started getting hot again, it wasn’t fun. Thankfully, though, it was cloudy and that really helped. However, by 10 am the sun started peeking through the clouds and we started to bake. Actually, with the humidity, wouldn’t the correct term be broil?

My official finish time was 14 hours 17 minutes and 32 seconds, which come to find out is my 100K PR! I finished first in my age group (yes, I was the only one) and second out of the 11 100K participants (4 finishers). My only other 100K finish was at Free State in April 2008 with a time of 14:28:50. Lunar Trek 2008 results: This finish gives me a lot of confidence heading into Leadville which is like 6 weeks away or less!

This Lunar Trek Run in small town Scandia, KS is a special treat to participate in. The race directors are just great, fun, thoughtful, thorough, and so friendly. After the race I felt awful and I laid on the cold hallway in the dark, in front of a fan, throwing up, and they took such good care of me!!