Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bennett Springs State Park

I took a risk and went out for a long run, carrying no water or calories, in a strange place on rarely used trails. What I found was a test of my fitness, endurance and quite an adventure along the way!

The trails were extremely rough, quite hilly in parts and required climbing over fallen trees, large branches and washouts at the bottom of some hills. Much rain had fallen, and dozens of portions of the trail were covered in running streams, like this one:

It wasn't too long before I found a cave off to my left, and I couldn't resist the temptation to crawl in. Below you'll see a nice peek inside.

Not much longer and I found myself near a quiet, hidden graveyard that had been untouched for decades. Many of the stones had dates of the 1700 and 1800s. More than a few were simply rough hewn limestone that was fading away from the years.

I did take a bit of a spill at the 7 mile point, just after I'd turned around. Took the brundt of it on my inner right knee and right palm. Some scrapes and bruises that I didn't even bother to examine until after I'd showered.

By mile 8 or so, I lost the trail. It was rough enough to be difficult to follow in spots. Eventually, I found it again, and happily made my way back.

I frightened two large deer and even a cayote, none of which would cooperate for a portrait.

I relished every moment; allowing myself to take pictures with my phone (the only thing I carried) and wading through streams or over obstacles as needed. Unbelievably, it actually took me 2 hours and 25 minutes to complete, but it was all worth it! In many ways, this was a celebration of my fitness.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

2009 Snake Chase 5K

Despite a few minor hiccups in the beginning (race planner forgot safety pins, everyone was lined up in front of the start line which wasn't actually the start line, etc.), this really was an ideal set-up for a race and a lovely, fairly fast course.

The day was a little on the chilly side and a bit of a breeze generally out of the south. I jogged around for about 20 minutes warming up, peeling layers and then finally into a few striders.

I lined up near the front with less than 5 minutes to go. When the gun went off, we went surging, and a few familiar faces darted way, way ahead of me. I looked at my watch and we were running in the low 5s. I knew this wasn't good, so I let them go and thought, "See you later."

Dozens of runners passed me at this point, and I continued to roll back my pace until started to see 7:00, which felt unimaginably slow at the time. So slow, in fact, I was deeply concerned if my watch were correct. Two runners in particular continued to drive a wedge in between me and them, setting what seemed to be an impossible distance to ever make up. I wasn't sure what to trust--their pace, my feeling or my watch. I decided it was best to mind the watch, as it was the only scientific thing I had. I continued to pull back and it felt all wrong.

But then, things seemed to normalize, and those who sprinted ahead... a few stayed there, but then I found myself gaining on them with no increase in speed whatsoever. Before I knew it, I was past those two (along with many others), and was only to see one runner again. I turned 1 mile in 6:50.

I hit the turn around point at exactly 11:00 minutes, meaning... if I could keep up the pace, I quite possibly could hit my 22:00 goal. But what I wasn't expecting was the wind in my face (nothing major, but still notable when I was a bit fatigued), and I was already beginning to suffer. It was slightly after here that one runner passed me, but I was not passed again, and I pretty much hung on behind him for the rest of the race. He finished just a few seconds ahead of me, and when we crossed, he turned and shook my hand. Somehow, I managed to not puke on him.

It was a good race, and an official new 5K PR of 22:17 (21 seconds off my previous PR of 22:38 on a slightly easier course which I ran in January). I also took an age group first place win by nearly two full minutes.

Looks like I still have some work to do, but I'm getting closer to my goal. My average pace was 7:05, which at exactly 3.1 would have gotten me there. But we all know that's never the case in a real race, so I will have to work harder. The good news is, I am consistently and measurably getting faster. And I still have a few months to go for the season!

Route:--Elev. Avg:753 ft
Location:Kansas City, MOElev. Gain:-4 ft
Date:03/21/09Up/Downhill: [+370/-374]
Time:09:00 AMDifficulty:2.4 / 5.0
52 F temp; 66% humidity
52 F heat index; winds SE 6

Distance: 3.15 miles

Speed:8.5 mph

Pace:7' 05 /mi


Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
16' 50-0' 158.8+0.30 ft
27' 04-0' 018.5+0.0+16 ft
37' 13+0' 088.3-0.2-27 ft
end6' 52-0' 138.7+0.2+6 ft
Versus average of 7' 05 min/mile

Posted from

Sunday, March 15, 2009

LBTT 13 Mile Failure... and then Success!

I first attempted this run yesterday, after I became severely ill from food poisoning... or something. I thought I could still run if I could get problems under control. Four doses of Pepto Bismol didn't do it. Two doses of Immodium AD seemed to. The second dose was taken only a few minutes before the run started. I met Rick and Karen, but after only a bit over two miles, I was so woozy I could hardly stand up, let alone run, and I'd started to mildly hallucinate. For the first time in my life, I quit and walked back to my car alone.

Today, I was feeling much better, and thought I'd slip out to the same location with the same plan to see if I could pull it off. I had no real pace plans, I was going to be happy if I could just go the distance. Technically, I haven't gone 13 miles since Chi in October.

The first 7 miles were great, I was feeling stronger and stronger, in spite of the fact the last of those were into a bit of a headwind. I gulped some Gatorade at my car, and then went south, continuing the run into the wind. But for the last six miles I was pretty tired, and didn't care about my pace. I assumed I was running high 9s or low 10s, but again really didn't care. Just wanted to focus on finishing.

I've forgotten some of the exhaustion that one experiences when going the distance (and 13 miles really isn't that much, I know). I was just looking for that groove; that zone and hang on to bring in. I managed to find it and even ran a pretty good last mile (the mind has so much to do with my pace... I knew if I hurried I'd be done sooner).

So, I feel somewhat vindicated from my miserable failure yesterday and important lesson learned. And I was very happy to finish!

Route:--Elev. Avg:742 ft
Location:Blue Springs, MOElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:03/15/09Up/Downhill: [+403/-403]
Time:11:29 AMDifficulty:3.2 / 5.0
Weather:Mostly Cloudy
53 F temp; 63% humidity
53 F heat index; winds S 8

Distance: 13.00 miles

Speed:7.1 mph

Pace:8' 27 /mi


Elevation (ft)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
18' 50+0' 236.8-0.3-9 ft
28' 22-0' 057.2+0.1+13 ft
38' 09-0' 187.4+0.3-13 ft
48' 21-0' 067.2+0.10 ft
58' 27+0' 007.1-0.0+10 ft
68' 15-0' 127.3+0.2-10 ft
78' 11-0' 167.3+0.2+6 ft
88' 36+0' 097.0-0.1-3 ft
98' 37+0' 107.0-0.1+7 ft
108' 40+0' 136.9-0.2+4 ft
118' 36+0' 097.0-0.1-3 ft
128' 24-0' 037.1+0.0-3 ft
138' 09-0' 187.3+0.2+3 ft
end********** ft
Versus average of 8' 27 min/mile
** Insufficient data to calculate this split

Posted from

Sunday, March 8, 2009

10th Annual Truffle Shuffle 5K

It was a good day to fly a kite. It was not a good day to run a race. But that didn't dampen the spirits of the more than 350 runners who turned out to run the 10th Annual Truffle Shuffle 5K on a balmy, if extraordinarily windy, 71F day. Depending on the weather source, sustained winds were between 21 and 27 mph, and gusts were in excess of 35 mph.

I showed up with two friends of mine Crystal (her first 5K, way to go!) and Eddie (a somewhat seasoned runner and racer). Eddie and I jogged around for about 25 minutes before the start, and after ensuring that Crystal had a good position, we lined up near the start. You can see me above on the far right, about 3 rows of people back, about four in, wearing sunglasses, white singlet and black shorts.

This race director did a great job of counting down to the start, so everyone was prepared. I took off with a kick, and made the first two turns well before a quarter mile was up. By a half mile we were going up a moderately steep hill that lasted for half a mile. The front group of about 20 was well ahead of me, and no one was really behind me. As a severe gust blew mightily into my uphill run, forcing sand and salt into my nose and mouth, I felt singled out for the toughest experience of all participants on this hill. I remember looking down at my watch and seeing only a little more than a half mile had elapsed. I was already miserable. This was going to be a tough race.

At the top of the hill, we were wound onto a trail of small, loose gravel, where we would stay for nearly two miles. This path was circuitous, and several times we passed on the same trail the runners behind us which was somewhat confusing to me. I'm not used to being this far in the front and could really only see one or two runners head of me (the others had spread out sufficiently they were out of sight). More than once I'd decided I'd taken a wrong turn, and would just give up soon.

But I kept going. At nine minutes into the race, I thought my pace was going to bring me just under 23 minutes, and I started counting down in 30 second increments. With twelve and a half minutes to go, I had the following conversation:

Me: "Self, you only have twelve and a half minutes to go. You can suffer for that much longer at this pace."

My response: "Uh, no we can't. No way. Quit now."

I didn't have that discussion again. With five minutes to go, I was seriously spent and quite nauseated. I looked around (again no one really near me in either direction) and considered just giving in and throwing up. But before I knew it, 30 seconds passed, and another 30 seconds, and we were approaching the finish line. I hadn't been passed in a long time, and somehow I was still running fairly strong.

Then a woman passed me. I knew at this point I had been third female overall, and I had not lost this position. The other two very fast chicas I hadn't seen since the gun went off, but none others had passed me. My Garmin read 2.85 miles elapsed.
I didn't want to take fourth. Couldn't, in fact, take fourth. I demanded of my body, "You are NOT going to let this happen!" I settled, and determinedly overtook her, shouting that same phrase over and over again in my head.

Soon, it was a sprint to the finish line, and I was shocked I had anything in the tank. But, I did, and I pressed hard, especially when I heard my name and "a female finisher!" by the announcer. My official finishing time was 22:59 (this was not chip timed), which was a win for females 40-49 by nearly three minutes, third female overall, and 27th runner overall.

This was a tough course (my toughest 5K yet), but I was really proud of myself for hanging in there and enduring.

You can find the race report from BJ the DJ here.