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Howl at the Moon 8-hr - RunUltra Marathon

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Danville, Illinois
United States
Kennekuk Road Runners
90F / 32C
Total Time = 00m
Overall Rank = 1/250
Age Group = Open Male
Age Group Rank = 1/85
Pre-race routine:

I wouldn't call it a routine: I camped on the race course. It was a lot of fun hanging out with all the other brave souls who are hardcore about having fun and running. But it also resulted in a terrible night of rest. Temps were near 80F, and it was extremely humid. It rained quite a bit. Not heavily, but enough to warrant keeping the rainfly on the tent (putting the hurt on any possible ventilation). And a bunch of 'skeeters got in my tent and harassed me all night, too.
Still, I was pretty content to eat a granola bar for breakfast, use port-a-jons for restroom needs, and enjoy the buzz of excitement at the starting line all morning.
Event warmup:

Nervously waited in line for a bathroom to open up at 6:56AM. Jogged the start line so I didn't miss the beginning of the race. :)
  • 8h 00m
  • 53.19 miles
  • 09m 01s  min/mile

Let's get right down to it with some blow-by-blow action recap.
Lap 1 - 3.29 miles - 27:11
Barely made it on time to the start area, and was about mid-pack as the RD shouted, "Go!" Weaved a little to find some open space, and then settled in. A quarter mile in, a pack of 14 people surged out in front and stayed together as a group for a while. I thought a few of them would get reeled in, but with the exception of one girl who came back to me, the rest pulled away. In that group was a running club friend of mine who I imagined would win the whole thing. As I got around to lapping some other friends a few laps into the race, they each said that he had passed them 15 minutes earlier. That's fast!
I ran side by side with another guy and made small talk for a bit during this lap. I kept consciously reminding myself to slow down to an 8:30 pace. But I was running very comfortably, and the weather was decent, so I went with the solid, but conservative pace early on. As I went down the straightaway to the start/finish, I saw two guys who looked like they missed the start of the race, and were scrambling to get going. Weird.
Lap 2 - 6.58mi - 26:39
Cruised into the end of the lap with my buddy, and I picked up a flask of gel so I could get started on some calories right away. No need to stop at the aid stations since I had a full 22oz bottle of cold water from get-go, and I wasn't drinking enough to warrant a refill yet. My running partner already needed to stop for a bathroom break, so I was alone.
Half way through this lap, though, the two guys I passed on the home stretch caught up to me, and then passed me. I stayed calm, thinking they had no business running that hard, but I quickly caught back up on the next downhill section, just to check the situation. They both seemed headstong and cocky about finishing 50 miles. One of the guys said he led the whole race for the first 6hrs last year... but ended up walking the last 2hrs. That, he explained, is why they were stopped at their tent, taking in fluids when I passed them in the first lap. We ran together for a bit, but I passed them for good at the end of this loop. My race plan was to take the first few laps so easy that my 5th or 6th lap would actually be my fastest. I dropped off my gel flask and picked up a granola bar on my way by my campsite.
Lap 3 - 9.87mi - 26:06
Now that the entire field was spread out on the course, I was passing hordes of people. I feel like I said, "Good morning" a thousand times (every 30 seconds, hour after hour). I was having fun now, anticipating each different section of the loop, zipping down the dirt road, feeling fine. I drank as much as I could stand, and took a quick pee break (while walking! - I even impressed myself), and trotted on down the trail. I figured I was at least in the top 12 by this point, but didn't think much of it. Too long of a day to worry about stuff like that yet.
Lap 4 - 13.16mi - 25:59
It was during this lap that I started to feel the effects of running for a couple hours. I wasn't tired, but I wasn't truly fresh any more either.
Lap 5 - 16.45mi - 25:58
Another uneventful lap of brief small talk with lots of other people. I always enjoyed chatting with people as we marched up the short, steep hill near the end of the loop. An awesome opportunity to take long strides, and mix up the muscle groups a bit. The sky was still mostly cloudy, so we were all being spared from the sun, but the heat was already taking a toll on a lot of racers.
As I came through the tent city again, I began to notice that a lot of people were stopping to take breaks. They sat down in chairs, stretched out, ate and drank, etc. I barely stopped at all, except to refill water, so I imagine I passed some of the people in front of me, but never knew it at the time. I believe I ran this lap really strong, stopped to put some sunscreen on, and still put up a really solid time.
Lap 6 - 19.74mi - 26:42
At this point, it was officially hot, and the precious cloud cover was breaking up. The humidity was already very high, and now we were about to get baked too.
Lap 7 - 23.03mi - 27:55
During this lap I was starting to snack on aid station fare. PB&J was good .Fig Newtons were really good. And bananas would be okay as well. I thought I could go one more lap in my old, trashed, racing flats, so I did.
Lap 8 - 26.32mi - 30:36
I took this loop a little easier, knowing it was getting pretty hot. I wanted to push the envelope of how much I could drink. I was happy to have peed earlier, and I wanted to keep it up. Like clockwork, I knocked out this loop in good form, and went through the marathon point in a little under 3:35.
Lap 9 - 29.61mi - 29:45
Coming up to the 50k benchmark, I was slowing a bit to take more time at the aid stations. I was careful about topping off with COLD water, even if my bottle had plenty. And I picked up anything off the buffet table that looked remotely appetizing, and forced myself to eat it. I believe this is the lap that I changed my shoes and socks and lubed my feet again. Fresh, albeit very old shoes, felt pretty good.
Amazingly, I was a mere 90 seconds ahead of my pace chart that I haphazardly made the week before the race.
Lap 10 - 32.9mi - 31:33
I saw my buddy, Tommy, who has blazed ahead from the word GO, up ahead after the first turn. I was sure he had lapped me. I figured he passed me while I was swapping shoes. But after talking, he was sure that we were starting the same lap. He admitted that he was done with the hellish pace, and was going to back it off for the rest of the day. When I asked him what position he was in, he told me that he was in 3rd place or so, and that 2nd place wasn't too far down the road. I was completely shocked, and still not convinced that he hadn't lapped me. But with good news like that, I took off and kept running strong.
Lap 11 - 36.19mi - 30:28
I had already been running without rest for about 5 hours at this point, and I was starting to question my ability to keep moving for another 3. I calculated what my day might end up looking like if I had to walk the last 2 hours. That would not be acceptable. And just when I needed it most, my pacer appeared, ready to roll. Jason was like a gift from ultra-running heaven. He was a huge pick-me-up during this lap, because I was hurting pretty badly.
Jason was crucial in getting me to eat more, drink more, take more salt, and get in and out of the aid stations quickly. He would get my bottle filled with ice, grab me some soda, spray me with sunscreen, find my ibuprofen, etc.
Lap 12 - 39.48mi - 30:45
Another really strong loop. I think it was about this time that the lap counters (you had to check in with a scorer each time) told me I was in 3rd place. I was hungry to hunt down 2nd place! Lately, I was stopping to get my head hosed off with cold water. Volunteers were great at this, and were even careful to avoid getting my shoes soaked.
Lap 13 - 42.77mi - 30:50
I hadn't bonked or anything yet, and the pain wasn't out of control. This was another solid effort. I could sense that the end was getting near, but every time I tried to do some simple math to figure out how I might finish up, I'd get distracted or confused. Besides, who wasn't to do math on the weekend?
Lap 14 - 46.06mi - 33:12
I did this lap by myself so Jason could take a break, eat something, and get himself ready to help me finish strong. As you can see by the time, it was a pretty long lap, compared to the rest. It was just hard to motivate myself to keep going, but I knew somebody was waiting on me, and I didn't want to disappoint, so I picked myself up and got rolling. Another lap in the books.
Lap 15 - 49.35mi - 32:58
Got my pacer back and eeked out another lap a little faster than the one before it. My spirits were pretty high, but the pain would come and go. For a few stretches, I was running hard and fast like it was the first lap, and it felt amazing. It was like I wasn't even in my own body any more. Those moments always go by too fast. Most of the race, I had my stomach on the verge of sloshiness, and burped... A LOT... constantly. Apparently this means everything is functioning properly, so I would just belch, smile, and move on. During the tougher moments, though, I wanted to stop and sit down for good. No more choking down warm gatorade electrolyte pills. No more pounding on the legs. No more searing sun, please!
Lap 16 - 52.64mi - 32:26
As I finished Lap 15, I had about 45min left in the race, which meant that I'd have the option of startin another loop. At the 7:30 point, they don't allow any more people to start a new loop because odd are they won't finish. I hollered at my lap counter, "Number 84 checking in!" And the called back, "Are you going out for another one?" I wholeheartedly replied, "Hell yes I am!!" And then just went nuts. They yelled my name and clapped and cheered. I threw down a cup of Pepsi and hit the trail by myself. It was time to dig deep. Knowing that I was darn near done, I was going for broke.
Still the lap wasn't without struggle. There were a few walkers out there, but nobody to run with. It was downright oppressively hot, and I was dog tired. I wanted to finish in good form, though, so I limited to the walking to just a couple minutes, tops, as I made my way through the course for a final time.
Then, at the top of the hill stood Jason. He had come around the course backward to bring me some news and give me a little company. He yelled from the top of the hill, "Janosky! Who's got two thumbs and is pacing the lead runner?! THIS GUY!!" I was floored. I started running up the hill. Jason instructed me to walk. There was still 20 minutes left, and he didn't want me to do something stupid.
The adrenaline really kicked in here. I was so pumped. I got the top of the hill and made sure Jason was being serious. He asked if I was ready to run. "Damn right I am." And we were off. I ran hard to the finish line with my foot on the gas the whole time. I was hell bent for leather, as the saying goes.
With about 12 minutes remaining, I was talked into doing an out/back to tack on another .5mi to my total. After that, I couldn't take any more . I reported my final efforts to my scorer, and he shook my hand and told me I was the winner.
I was obviously delirious from running in the heat all day, and emotionally fried without that news, so I blubbered a bit and let some tears fall as I stumbled back to my camp site in a state of giddiness masked only slightly by pure pain. The sense of pride and accomplishment was really special on this day. I outlasted some very tough competitors, and got to share the victory with my pacer/crew. Running is such a solo sport, I think it is a rare opportunity to be to be able to share credit for the win with somebody.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Or pray for a world free from the tyranny of humidity.
Post race
Warm down:

Sit and hurt.

Event comments:

Outstanding event for seasoned ultra vets, and first-timers alike. I'd have nothing but great things to say about the people, the amenities, and the atmosphere for this race. Sign up early, it's popular!

Last updated: 2010-08-16 12:00 AM
08:00:00 | 53.19 miles | 09m 01s  min/mile
Age Group: 1/85
Overall: 1/250
Performance: Good
From my Garmin110 lap/time/ distance/pace 1 00:27:11 3.30 08:14 2 00:26:39 3.29 08:06 3 00:26:06 3.25 08:02 4 00:25:59 3.27 07:56 5 00:25:58 3.27 07:55 6 00:26:42 3.27 08:10 7 00:27:55 3.27 08:33 8 00:30:36 3.30 09:17 9 00:29:45 3.28 09:04 10 00:31:33 3.29 09:35 11 00:30:28 3.28 09:17 12 00:30:45 3.27 09:25 13 00:30:50 3.27 09:25 14 00:33:12 3.27 10:08 15 00:32:58 3.30 10:00 16 00:32:26 3.35 09:40 17 00:04:18 0.39 11:02
Course: 3.29 miles of cross-country style fun. Quite flat overall, but with one steep hill. Terrain was a little tricky at times, as it tends to be on grass. But for the most part, it was hard-packed dirt roads, and a bit of pavement. Aid stations are outstanding at this event. 2 per loop, and they have it all!
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2010-08-16 4:26 PM

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St. Louis
Subject: Howl at the Moon 8-hr

2010-08-18 3:20 PM
in reply to: #3046834

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St. Louis
Subject: RE: Howl at the Moon 8-hr
2010-08-18 6:50 PM
in reply to: #3046834

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St. Louis
Subject: RE: Howl at the Moon 8-hr
Impressive race and great RR!  I won't ask what's next ultra wise until the pain subsides (and you finsish Boston).
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