Add to Technorati Favorites "Going the Distance!": 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Short Berryman Race Report and So Long, For Now...

Filled with emotion after finishing the 2007 Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Run

Another amazing event put on by the SLUGs and co-race directors David and Victoria White! You really couldn't have scripted a better day, the weather was ideal and I got to see many of my good friends. Not my finest performance finishing the marathon in 4:44 but I had fun nonetheless. Got to run a bit with Jerry Frost, chat it up with Don Frichtl, Paul and Cindy Schoenlaub, Ben Holmes, Pat Perry, David and Victoria, Rick Mayo, David Stores and so many others; it really was great :-) For the full 2008 Berryman Marathon and 50 Mile Run Results click HERE. And now, let's move on to what is really on my mind.

I started this blog over a year and a half ago and had no idea what a big part of my life it would become. It began more as a marketing tool when I started my job as a loan officer for Mindy's Mom but then evolved into something much more. It took on a personality of it's own as my "baby" and all of you became my cyber family sharing in my accomplishments and supporting me when I was down. I can't begin to even explain to all of you how much it has meant to me to know you were out there reading along and sharing in my life, laughing when I laughed and crying when I cried. The emails I've received, comments on the blog and all of you who have come up to me at races have touched my life in a profound way and I thank all of you for being interested in my story (or stories) and sharing the past 18 months with me. What a journey it has been! Throughout the last year and a half I have grown more than in any other period in my life and finally let the real Carey shine through as I tore down the walls I had built around myself. As I sit here writing this I am filled with emotion and must admit a bit sad, but it is time. For those of you close to me this probably isn't a suprise while to others it may be totally out of left field. As I embark on a new career and direction in life I need to focus my full attention and efforts on that, I hope all of you understand and support me in pursuing my dream. This is not Good-Bye but simply so long, for now. Know that I am here and you can always email me if you ever need anything or just want to say hello. The picture at the top of this post is me after finishing my first 100 mile race almost a year ago. It was perhaps the best moment of my life thus far and really the start of "the change" inside me.

Wishing you all the best,

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Berryman Report Coming Soon!

Andrew Karandjeff, Victoria White and Lee Hess with the thumbs up

So my last race for a while is history and I must say I really enjoyed seeing all of my good friends and running a course which has so many special memories for me. I definitely didn't set any records as I finished in 4:44:22, I kept telling my legs to go faster but they just wouldn't listen :-) I hope to have a race report together by the middle of this week.

How amazing was the weather this weekend!?! Between the marathon yesterday and the Cardinals game today I definitely took advantage of it. Hope all of you were able to catch some rays too!

Until later,

Friday, May 16, 2008

3 Tips For More Energy

Fitness Together - St. Louis owner, Tim Chudy, posted these great tips on his blog today on how to have more energy and who couldn't use that? Enjoy!

"Everywhere you go people are looking for 'energy'. You’ve heard and seen all the ‘Hi Energy’ stuff out there. But where should you go for your energy fix? And is it really a fix at all? Or just a remedy that leads to an inevitable crash and burn?

In reality, the "energy" we're chasing is simply mental alertness. And it's no secret that coffee, energy drinks and cigarettes contain drugs that stimulate your brain, giving you the mental alertness we often mistakenly call 'energy'.

If you are searching for a better way of living, a life that doesn't depend on chemicals - literally, drugs! - to keep you awake and motivated, if you are tired of being tired, then being jacked up, and then being tired again, then set the coffee cup down, step away from the supersized Diet Cokes, and turn to a more natural solution. There are better, healthier ways to achieve higher levels of physical and mental energy.

Here are 3 ways to gain more energy, naturally:

1) Exercise

It doesn't matter what time you exercise, just be consistent with your efforts. Just pick a time that fits with your schedule and personality. If you have to do it first thing when you wake up, just do it. Don't even let yourself think about it. Just get started. A lot of people think too much about their plan. They want to have everything perfect before they begin working out.

Focus on intense strength training for 30-40 minutes followed by a brief cardio interval training session to boost your metabolism all day long. Exercise is like a drug. Like caffeine and nicotine, exercise causes the release of many 'good for you' chemicals into your blood stream, resulting in mental stimulation and an improved sense of overall well- being. Exercise just makes you feel awesome.

2) Eat smaller, more frequent meals

Skip the cycle of starving and overeating characterized by no breakfast, a high-carbohydrate lunch, and a huge dinner. Instead, eat a supportive breakfast and then continue to eat supportively every 3 hours for the rest of the day. Research shows that a high-fiber, high-protein breakfast helps control appetite and increases mental alertness all day, and improves your ability to process information.

Don't skip breakfast and rely on a coffee to get you through the day. Got no time? C'mon! You're an adult, you can get up 10 minutes earlier to have a protein shake, some almonds, and an apple. You're not in high school anymore. No excuses!

3) Eat only whole, natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, raw nuts, Green Tea, water

Trying to survive on processed foods is a recipe for an energetic disaster. Stick to whole, natural foods during the day, snacking rather than eating huge meals and you'll never feel like dozing off again. If a food is from a bag or a box, it doesn't deserve a place in a supportive nutrition plan. Try to avoid all added sugars.

Bonus Tip:

Take 2-minute breaks during the day to perform some light stretching or deep breathing.

Sitting at a computer all day zap our 'energy'. From poor posture, to eye-strain from computer screens, your office, cubicle, and car seat definitely sucks the life out of you. Daily exercise breaks are essential to not only boost energy, but mobility. Each day, as your slump over your computer, your upper body becomes rounded forward and tense. You need to reverse that movement by incorporating some light shoulder and chest stretches. In addition, get outside into natural light whenever possible."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Yoga and Running / Berryman Marathon Saturday

Header from

Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while know that I started doing Yoga about 8 months ago and how strongly I believe in it as a complement to running, you may remember that I included it as a blog entry subject back in September. Yesterday I was breezing through the June issue of Runners World and saw that they had an article on how Yoga makes you "stronger, sharper and less injury-prone." I couldn't agree with them more! They also featured a group called Runner's Yoga 90210, founded by Angie Stewart, "where marathoners, beginner runners and even members of the UCLA track team gather in Beverly Hill's Roxbury Park for a 20 to 30 minute run followed by 45 to 55 minutes of yoga in a nearby studio." I actually have a similar routine, each week on Tuesday and Thursday I run for 45 - 60 minutes before my morning Yoga class and feel incredible after I'm done. It's a great back-to-back combo that I highly recommend. For more about Yoga and Running visit the Yoga For Runners Section at

This Saturday is the Berryman Marathon and 50 Mile Race down near Berryman, MO in the Mark Twain National Forest. This event holds a special place in my heart as it was where I ran my first ultramarathon back in 2006. This is my last scheduled race for sometime as I shift my focus to my new position at Fitness Together - St. Louis so I'm really looking forward to having a great time. Berryman holds a lot of memories as it is a special place not only for me individually but also for Mindy and I when we were together. Her smile, kindness and enthusiasm at "her aid station" will be missed by all.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there! :-)
Hope all of you are well,

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Big River Running Company Summer Speedwork Sessions

My good friends at Big River Running Company are putting on FREE Tuesday night speed sessions at the Vianney High School Track (I-44 & Lindbergh). They begin tonight and will continue throughout the summer until Tuesday, August 24th. Anyone who completes 10 or more sessions will not only be faster by the end but will also receive a free Big River Running Company shirt. Be at the track around 6:30 pm to meet, the sessions will start promptly at 7:00 pm. I'll definitely be there for most of the summer and hope to see some of you! To learn more click HERE.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The 40 Runner’s Commandments

Fellow SLUG, Randy Hunt, sent this out today via "SLUG Mail," Good Stuff!

The 40 Runner’s Commandments
by Joe Kelly
1. Don’t be a whiner. Nobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.
2. Walking out the door is often the toughest part of a run.
3. Don’t make running your life. Make it part of your life.
4. Keep promises, especially ones made to yourself.
5. The faster you are the less you should talk about your times.
6. Keep a quarter in your pocket. One day you’ll need to call for a ride.
7. Don’t compare yourself to other runners.
8. All runners are equal, some are just faster than others.
9. Keep in mind that the later in the day it gets, the more likely it is that you won’t run.
10. For a change of pace, get driven out and then run back.
11. If it was easy, everybody would be a runner.
12. When standing in starting lines, remind yourself how fortunate you are to be there.
13. Getting out of shape is much easier than getting into shape.
14. A bad day of running still beats a good day at work.
15. Don’t talk about your running injuries. People don’t want to hear about your sore knee or black toe.
16. Don’t always run alone.
17. Don’t always run with people.
18. Approach running as if the quality of your life depended on it.
19. No matter how slow, your run is still faster than someone sitting on a couch.
20. Keep in mind that the harder you run during training, the luckier you’ll get during racing.
21. Races aren’t just for those who can run fast.
22. There are no shortcuts to running excellence.
23. The best runs sometimes come on days when you didn’t feel like running.
24. There is nothing boring about running. There are, however, boring people who run.
25. Distance running is like cod liver oil. At first it makes you feel awful, then it makes you feel better.
26. Never throw away the instructions to your running watch.
27. Don’t try to outrun dogs.
28. Don’t wait for perfect weather. If you do, you won’t run very often.
29. When tempted to stop being a runner, make a list of the reasons you started.
30. Without goals, training has no purpose.
31. Go for broke, but be prepared to be broken.
32. Spend more time running on the roads than sitting on the couch.
33. Make progress in your training, but progress at your own rate.
34. “Winning” means different things to different people.
35. Unless you make your living as a runner, don’t take running too seriously.
36. Never tell a runner that he or she doesn’t look good in tights.
37. Never confuse the Ben-Gay tube with the toothpaste tube.
38. Preventing running injuries is easier than curing them.
39. Running is simple. Don’t make it complicated.
40. Running is always enjoyable. Sometimes, though, the joy doesn’t come until the end of the run.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

What? I thought Dark Chocolate was GOOD for you!?!

For the past few years it seems like everywhere I look I'm reading about the benefits of dark chocolate and with my focus on health and fitness, I've been doing my duty and making sure to include at least 1/2 oz. of dark chocolate in my diet every day (my preference is Ghirardelli's 60% Cacao Dark Chocolate). Some days are tougher than others but I know that what I am doing is good for my body and that it will pay off in the long run; YEAH RIGHT, I LOVE CHOCOLATE! Sunday long runs are "tough", resistance training is "tough", EATING DARK CHOCOLATE IS PURE HEAVEN! So I must say I was a bit bummed when I read recently that perhaps dark chocolate isn't all it's cracked up to be. According to a double blind, placebo study conducted by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University:

"This investigation failed to support the predicted beneficial effects of short-term dark chocolate and cocoa consumption on any of the neuropsychological or cardiovascular health-related variables included in this research. Consumption of dark chocolate and cocoa was, however, associated with significantly higher pulse rates at 3- and 6-wk treatment assessments."

Say it ain't so!!!! Apparently it was too good to be true and we've been tricked by the marketing geniuses at Hershey's. Of course I may hold out until I see more evidence, it was only one study and they could be wrong; they say there's no "short-term benefits" but I'm in it for the long haul. To read more about the study click HERE.

Two weeks have passed since my 70 mile DNF at McNaughton and as time passes I have become more comfortable with my decision. If you've been paying attention to my upcoming race schedule you may have noticed that one day I say I'm running Kettle in June and the next day it's "tentative"; I haven't signed up yet because I'm a bit undecided. Part of me thinks I need to get right back on the horse and "redeem" myself while another part of me doesn't feel redemption is necessary; "only run it if you truly want to". So that's what I've decided to do, until I'm 100% certain I'm not going to commit.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get my daily dose of dark chocolate :-)
Hope all of you are well,

Monday, April 21, 2008

2008 Double Chubb Results and RD Write-Up

1st Place Female Christine Crawford on her way to victory (photo by George Powell)

Of course I went out to cheer on all the runners at the 2008 Double Chubb Trail Runs on Saturday. The course was re-routed due to flooding making it much more challenging than usual. It was great to see all of my friends and catch up; sometimes it's nice not running and just being a spectator. As always David and Victoria White did an amazing job as race directors; our group is so lucky to have the two of them!

For the full results click HERE and if you haven't already, make sure you page down to read my post from yesterday on Diet and Exercise. Below is the brief write-up from Victoria about the race:

"Let me just say, a great big THANK YOU to all our great volunteers, and to my husband David for dealing with the Park People, and getting them to let us have the race, even though half the park was flooded.

Race day, brought a light rain, while we were trying to get things setup. Having the Granddaddy Lodge was a bonus, as most of the runners stayed under there until I drug them out to start the race.

We had 4 runners that have now completed all 10 races. Congrats to Joel Lammers (WI), Lee Hess (MO), Stuart Johnson (KS) and Al Maiuro (MO). They were all presented with a Denim Shirt embroidered with Double Chubb 10 Year Finisher on it.

A huge Thank You to Jeff Collier for the Start/Finish Banner and the directional sign he made for us. They will both be used for years to come.

As always the Slug's bring out our best volunteers to help with the race, from helping with packet-pickup all the way to loading up the trailer when it is all finished, the volunteers worked tirelessly. Thanks again, I can't pull off the race without you.

We had to change the course, due to the flooding, so the 25K runners did the Double Chubb and the 50K runners did the Quad Chubb. (Janet Whalen said she invented the Quarter Chubb, doing only one loop). Mud was the word of the day, and made the hills slick. 6 runners dropped down to the 25K, having enough of the hills. Not going past the Rail Road tracks, cut out about 12 miles of flat trail.

Chris Wright won the 25K with a time of 2:05:55 with Master Jeff Vanderlinden on his heals at 2:06:53. 3rd overall and Female Winner was again Mary White with a time of 2:14:23. Female Master was Laura Scherff with a time of 2:24:20, on a tough day, these times are impressive. The Senior award went to Rudy Schwarz with a time of 2:31:45 and GrandMaster to George Powell with a time of 3:02:23. On the Female side it was Deb Schopp with a time of 3:41:52 taking the Senior and Grandmaster Joyce Yarger with a time of 5:54:36.

David Pokorny won the 50K in a time of 4:06:58 with Joel Lammers taking the Masters with a time of 4:22:37. Ben Creehan led the race for the first two loops, and was only 2 minutes behind on loop 3, but ended up finishing 2nd with a time of 4:16:06. Christine Crawford won the female race with a time of 4:41:55, and claimed she really enjoyed it (when she turned around, I discovered she was wearing half the course on her back). Starting from the West Tyson end, there are showers for the runners to rinse off the mud, and grime from the trail. When Kat Yarger finished, she asked me "when can I sign up for next year?" I'll get back to you on that one Kat. Gena Bonini won the Female Masters division with a time of 5:53:40. Senior Lee Dougherty beat out Don Frichtl with a time of 5:28:17 with Don's time of 5:29:30 pretty close on that one. Tony Kramer took the Grand Masters with a time of 5:39:22 and Senior Female Kay McVey had a time of 7:20:22.

I really enjoyed the day, having a little party for 100 of my closest friends. It's always nice to see people finish their first trail race, or their first Ultra. The smiles and hugs make all the work that goes into putting on a race worth it."

Victoria White
Double Chubb Race Director

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lose Fat / Gain Strength - A Few Diet and Exercise Tips

Carrie Tollefson - Diet and exercise done right (photo from

A friend of mine emailed me this week asking me for some advice on how to lose weight based on my own experiences and information I've learned over the years. I wouldn't consider him overweight; he's around 6 feet tall and 185 lbs. and would like to get down to around 170 lbs. and be "lean and mean". While I do not claim to be an expert I have been successful in not only losing a considerable amount of weight but also maintaining that weight loss; and, as most of my friends can attest, I've read practically everything I could get my hands on regarding nutrition.

In order to be successful losing fat and gaining muscle both Diet AND Exercise are important and go hand-in-hand. If you are overweight or obese, making simple changes in your diet will result in quick weight loss since you have so much to lose; but, at a certain point the addition of exercise is imperative to continue making progress. I recommend that you make changes in your diet and start on an exercise routine at the same time to supercharge your fat loss and enjoy the mental and physical benefits of an active life immediately. You must also look at this as a lifestyle change and not some temporary diet where you will go back to your old routine once you lose the weight. I'm sure you've heard people say, "I can't wait to lose this last 10 lbs. so I can get off this diet; I miss ice cream so much and that's going to be my reward!" Guess what, this attitude is the main reason 90% of all people who lose weight actually gain back even more than they lost in the first place.

At the age of 24, it was easy for me to lose the weight for several reasons. I was young, a smoker who never worked out and had one of the worst diets you can imagine. Believe it or not, here is what I would eat in a typical weekday:

Breakfast - 3 Mrs. Fields Cookies and a 44 oz. Coke (my office was in a mall)
Lunch - McDonald's Super Size Big Mac Meal with a Super Size Coke
Mid-Afternoon - 44 oz Coke
Dinner - Either ate out at a Chili's type restaurant, Burger, Fries, Chips and Salsa and Soda or if eating at home something else very unhealthy and in large quantities.
Dessert - At around 9:00 pm I'd have a big bowl of ice cream.
I'd also drink about a liter of Coke every evening and drank alcohol probably 3 times a week.

My caloric intake was in excess of 5,000 calories a day while I was only burning around 2500 calories; it really is amazing that I didn't weigh more and I'm lucky that I caught it when I did! The changes I made were dramatic as I cut out all fast food and soda, started a resistance training and cardio program, limited my consumption of alcohol and started planning my weekly meals. I would take my lunch to work, grill chicken breasts on Sunday and freeze them for dinners during the week and carefully tracked my caloric intake so it matched my output (or in this case I was aiming for a caloric deficit to lose weight). But let's say you're like my friend and you don't need a major over-haul like I did; you just want to clean things up a bit. Here are a few tips:

1. NEVER SKIP BREAKFAST - It really is the most important meal of the day and jump starts your metabolism. Try to find a good combintation of complex carbs with high fiber, protein and healthy fats; I start every single day with Nature's Path Optimum Power Cereal with skim milk and I add in a few raisins. If I'm in a pinch and don't have my cereal I usually go for a whole wheat bagel with all natural peanut butter and a skim latte.

2. EAT OFTEN - You really should eat 5 to 6 sensible meals throughout the day. Think of your metabolism as a fire, if you build your fire and don't tend to it the flames will slowly die down but if you stoke your fire it will come roaring back to life; these small meals serve to stoke your metabolism. A typical week day for me looks like this: I eat my breakfast (described above), eat 2 of my Mom's Oatmeal Raisin cookies around 10:00 am, a lunch of Turkey and Spinach on whole wheat bread with whole wheat pretzels and an apple, mid-afternoon/pre-workout snack of an Odwalla or Clif Bar, for dinner a chicken breast or salmon with brown rice or red potatoes, steamed broccoli and carrots and then for dessert fat-free yogurt with berries and almonds. Also, immediately after my workout, I grab a skim latte and I usually have 1/2 ounce of Ghirardelli's 60% Cacao dark chocolate thrown in there somewhere.

3. BE CONSISTENT - "But Carey, I need some variety and can't eat the same things everyday." That's OK, I actually enjoy my routine and do break away from it with comparable substitutions but I still ensure I'm making healthy choices and keeping my caloric intake in check. When I say consistency it doesn't mean the same things, at the same time, every single day; it just means don't have yo-yo's in your diet where one day you're making healthy choices and the next opting for muffins and french fries. Even if you eat the same number of calories on your healthy vs. not so healthy days there's more to it than that; remember that the quality is just as important as quantity especially when resistance and endurance training.

4. IT'S OK TO "CHEAT" - Occasionally. Allow yourself one meal a week to fall off the wagon; this could actually help your body so it doesn't get in a rut and shock it back into fat burning mode. Remember that this is a lifestyle choice; if you deprive yourself completely you will not be successful. As time passes and you make healthier choices including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, etc. your body and mind will no longer crave those high-processed, sugary foods that are bad for you; funny how this works, but trust me, it's true.

5. HYDRATION AND ALCOHOL - Cut out all soda and sugary drinks; personally I drink diet soda but there are purists out there who say to cut this out too. Water is always the best choice! As far as alcoholic beverages you should cut these back to a minimum and drink in moderation. If you're going to drink have red wine or a drink like vodka and club soda; stay away from high sugar drinks such as margaritas and mixing your spirits with sugary soda. I do not drink alcohol at all for a few different reasons but I'm not saying you have to completely cut it out, just be smart about it and know that the calories in alcohol can add up very quickly. Not to mention losing your inhibitions and hitting Taco Bell for that infamous "Fourth Meal"; we've all been there...

The above is just the tip of the iceberg; as athletes, nutrition is extremely important to ensure we are not only performing our best but also keeping our immune system strong and our mind functioning properly. A book I highly recommend picking up is Eat Right to Train Right by Chris Carmichael; I consider it the nutrition "Bible" for athletes. is a great website for evaluating the nutritional value/content of foods and also determining your caloric expenditure; DO NOT let this tool create a food obsession where you record and analyze everything. My recommendation is to track your food intake for a period of 3 days which will give you a baseline to help determine what changes you need to make and where the holes are in your diet.

Over the past year my view and approach to workouts has changed quite a bit and evolved from focusing solely on cardio conditioning (running) to a combination of resistance training, yoga and cardio in order to be stronger and healthier. Also, since studying for my CSCS Exam, I've learned much more about the importance of resistance training and the downsides of following an aerobic only conditioning routine. While aerobic conditioning is effective for burning calories and fat it is not the most effective way to build muscle and in fact many studies suggest that it may do just the opposite. The amount of muscle you have directly effects your metabolic rate; more muscle means more calories burned, it's as simple as that and the most effective way to build muscle is through resistance training. Resistance training does not only mean weight training; pilates, yoga (power yoga in particular) and boot camp style workouts are other great ways to build muscle if you're not a big fan of pumping iron in the gym. As an endurance runner, having a strong core is imperative to improving performance; when you're deep into a race these core muscles help you maintain your form and avoid injury. Since incorporating yoga, pilates, ab-work and weight training into my routine while maintaining my cardio component (running 50 miles per week), I have been performing better and feeling stronger than I ever did when running was my sole focus. My goal as an ultra-runner is not to add bulk but to add strength; there is a major difference. Yoga, pilates and lower-weight/higher-rep resistance training allows you to do this without adding a ton of mass.

As most of you know muscle does indeed weigh more than fat so if you are only using the scale to measure your progress you may find yourself disappointed. Last Fall I weighed 165 lbs. and after a winter of relatively high mileage and adding in resistance training and yoga I am 175 lbs. My diet is "cleaner" than ever, I'm working out on average 10 - 12 hours per week and feeling/looking stronger than before so I am happy with where I am because I know that the weight gain is due to increased lean muscle and loss of fat. It took me a while to stop focusing on the scale and simply look in the mirror; once I did I liked what I saw :-)

As I said in the beginning I do not claim to be an expert here and continue to learn more and more each day in my experiment of one. Some of the above may work for you and some of it may not; the method of losing weight seems quite simple, burn more calories than you consume. But, as I've found out through the years and in my studies, there's a lot more to it than that. Conversely, many of us do have easy fixes we can make in our every day lives to produce quick results. Of course, the less you have to lose the more complicated it gets.

Please share any thoughts or comments you have as I (and everyone else, I'm sure) would love to hear them!

Hope all of you are well,

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Randomness at the Charlottesville Marathon

Chris in the jungles of Colombia (South America, not Missouri :-)

My good friend, Chris Wynne, ran the Charlottesville Marathon today in Charlottesville, VA. I ran Chris' first marathon with him back in 2006 at Chicago and of course, he ended up beating me; I chalked it up to beginner's luck :-) This was his third marathon and he finished in a time of 3:32:04 which is very impressive considering he's also a full time law student at UVA. What's so interesting about his run today is the email he sent me this afternoon:

"You'll get a kick out of this -- I ended up running with this guy who told me he was partial to ultras....after about a few minutes, I found out that not only did this guy recognize your name from your blog, but he was the guy whose girlfriend you talked to at McNaughton -- the guy who slept for 11 hours during the 150 miler and got up and kept going (I think he said he wound up finishing 6th). His name is John and he's from here in Charlottesville. Small world, right??"

I don't know what's crazier, the randomness of Chris "running" into him or the fact that he is running a marathon less than a week after the McNaughton 150!?!

Great job Chris on a strong finish! For the full 2008 Charlottesville Marathon and Half Marathon Results click HERE.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The 2008 McNaughton Park 100 Mile Trail Run - My First DNF

The Heaven's Gate Crew

I met fellow SLUG, Travis Liles, at his home in Troy, IL at 11:30 am Friday morning and then we continued on the 2 hour journey to Pekin, IL for the 2008 McNaughton Park 100 Mile Trail Run. It was relatively warm but windy as we left Troy but that all changed as we headed north.

We arrived at McNaughton around 2:30 pm, ate our Subway sandwiches and then made our way over to see if we could pick up our race packets early. The 150 mile race had already begun and many of the runners were coming through the start/finish area as they completed their first 10 mile loop. The McNaughton Park Trail Races have three distances; the 150 Mile Run (15 loops) started Friday at noon and the 50 mile (5 loops) and 100 mile (10 loops) runs both started at 6:00 am Saturday morning. We found Andy Weinberg, the race director, and he said the packets wouldn't be ready until 4:00 pm so Travis and I headed back to town to check into our hotel and relax a bit at Starbuck's. When we came back to pick up our packets around 5:00 pm it had gotten even colder and the wind had picked up quite a bit.

"Thank goodness we aren't running tonight," I said to Travis.

Little did I know that was the best time to be running since the overnight rain and additional 150 runners would turn the course into a "you'd have to see it to believe it" mudfest by Saturday afternoon. Travis and I headed over to Applebee's to grab our dinner to go and I saw fellow SLUG, Don Frichtl, having dinner with three young ladies. I didn't want Don to have all of the fun so I made my way over to chat with him a bit and, of course, to meet the "Valpo Girls" (Sarah, Katie and Cara). Don said he had run a loop earlier in the day and that the trail was in good condition; but that was before all of the additional runners and rain. The "Valpo Girls" were there supporting Ellen Erhardt and said they would cheer me on too.

"What do you want us to say when you come by?" they asked.

"Just tell me I'm looking good no matter what," I replied.

I wonder if Katie is single? I digress, on with the story...

We woke up around 4:45 am Saturday morning and began our preparations for the race. With the mud and 2 creek crossings per loop I knew that my feet would be wet for the entire time so I decided to try out a tip I learned from Jeffrey "Sam" Rogers to coat my feet in diaper rash ointment (zinc oxide) which would serve to "waterproof" them. I actually did this the night before and slept with socks on and then added another coat in the morning; this tip is brilliant as my feet looked fresh with no pruning whatsover after running for almost 17 hours in the muck that was McNaughton. Also, per the advice of David Horton on the Ultralist, I applied Balm of Gilead to my areas that are prone to chafing in the front and the behind; this too worked wonderfully as I had no issues whatsover during or after the race.

At 5:30 am we arrived at McNaughton Park and I made my way over to the drop bag canopy to stash my gear and listen to the pre-race briefing. I chatted a bit with friends and made a few new ones who knew me from the blog; they joked about how I probably hear that a lot at races and actually, I do. It's nice to know that someone out there is reading this :-) The temperature was in the low 30's with a blustery wind but it was not raining, yet. As the first light of dawn began to creep through the clouds the Mayor of Pekin welcomed us to their city and wished us luck, followed by a few last words from Andy and at precisely 6:00 am we were off.

My plan was to average 2 hours and 15 minutes per loop which would get me well under the 24 hour mark with a 22:30 finish. Usually it takes me a while to get into my groove but I was feeling good from the start and running fast. Before long, Mark Carlson, a friend from the blog running the 50 miler, caught up to me as we approached the Heaven's Gate aid station to the cheers of the "Valpo Girls."

"Yay, Carey! Looking Good!" they yelled.

I gave them the Rocky pose and a big smile, "You probably say that to all the guys," I said.

Mark then teased me, "What's this? You've got your own cheering section!?!"

I ran with Mark and his pacer, Scott, for loops two and three and was stoked to see my parents as I entered the start/finish area at the end of 30 miles. This was the first 100 mile event my Mom had been to and I was really excited for her to experience all that is a 100 mile race. I then continued on the 4th and 5th loops as the course got progressively worse from the wear and tear of the runners and the rain. There were spots where the muck was probably 12 inches deep and practically sucked your shoes right off your feet and it was as though the hills were coated in oil; you'd take one step forward only to fall three steps back. I didn't have any issues with the downhills and I credit that to Yoga which has helped my balance tremendously.

My approach to nutrition during the race was simply to eat; whether it was gels, solid food, soda or soup it really didn't matter, I just needed calories. Whenever I would start to feel off I knew it was one of two things; either I was low on salt which I could tell by looking at my hands (they begin to swell when I'm low) or I needed calories. Although I didn't feel like eating I would force myself to down a gel; in the beginning this was tough to do without a gag reflex but as I continued it got easier and easier since I knew that it would make me feel better. This was a big triumph for me in regards to running ultras as the nutrition aspect has been the hardest thing for me to get down (literally).

I finished my 6th loop at around 7:30 pm and stopped for a minute to talk with my parents, grab my new Petzl Zipka Plus headlamp (loved it!) and down some Pepsi.

My Mom and Dad were great, "Do you need anything? How are you on gels? Salt?" they asked.

"I don't know, I'm trying to figure it out," I replied obviously distracted and someplace else.

In actuality I was thinking about what a mess the trail had been and how difficult and slow it would be trying to navigate it in the dark. I completely spaced and didn't grab anything but the light and headed off for my 7th loop. After I finished the first mile my parent's met me at the top of the hill with the remainder of my can of Pepsi.

I quickly downed it and said, "The trail is going to be ridiculous."

They replied, "That's OK, you've been running strong and look great, just go out there and give it a shot."

And with that I dropped into the woods for what would be my last lap.

During the day the mud was definitely challenging but you could see where to step in order to best navigate the uphills and not just slide backwards or fall flat on your face. This was much more difficult in the dark and the frustration mounted as I sloshed around slowly making my way along the course. About a mile before the Heaven's Gate aid station I ran up on Ellen Erhardt and her pacer, Christine Crawford.

"Is that Christine?" I asked.

"Yes," she replied.

"It's Carey, Have you ever seen anything like this?"

"Yes, at Clinton Lake; but it was only 30 miles," Christine replied. "I'm having a hard time keeping upright with my runner and I have fresh legs!"

"This section is really depressing and makes you want to quit," Ellen chimed in. "I keep telling myself it will get better, it will get better."

"I just don't know if I want to do this anymore, it's getting a bit ridiculous," I replied as I moved past them and continued up the hill.

Going into the Heaven's Gate Aid station I had pretty much made up my mind that this was my last lap. I walked up and began talking with the aid station captain, my friend and fellow SLUG, Brian Kuhn, about the conditions and the fact that I just didn't want to do 3 more loops under those conditions.

"I ran a loop and I know, the conditions are tough; possibly the worst I've ever seen. You don't have anything to prove so the decision is yours; I'm sure you'll make the right one whatever that may be," he said.

"Thanks Brian, I don't know if I'll be back around, I appreciate your help and advice," I said.

"Only one more lap to go, right?" asked Katie who apparently thought I was much faster than I actually am.

"I think I'm done after this loop," I replied in a sad tone not because I was upset about my DNF but was more down that I wouldn't be able to see her and everyone else at Heaven's Gate three more times.

As I passed back by Heaven's Gate aid station heading back to the start finish I quietly continued on in the darkness; I had already said my goodbyes and just wanted to get the last 3 miles done. I walked the last mile or two with Julieann Bergman and her husband, Marc; they had decided to call it a day also and we talked about the unbelievable conditions and rationalized our impending DNF's to each other.

Just before 11:00 pm, after 70 miles and almost 17 hours of running, I crossed the line finishing my last loop.

"I'm done," I said, "Had enough and don't want to head out there in the mud again."

"Why don't you take some time, rest, even get some sleep and then give it a go later. The trail will get better and dry out as time passes, you can finish it in the morning," the volunteer said.

"My boyfriend slept for 11 hours and is now out there passing people; you can totally do that," another woman said (her boyfriend was running the 150).

"It's not a question of whether I can do it; I just don't want to do it, I don't need the finish that bad. Give me a second and let me talk it over with my Dad."

"It's ridiculous out there, Dad. The thought of doing three more loops in that mud, two of them in the dark, is just too much. I'm done, what do you think?"

"That's fine with me; you ran well and had a good race. You don't need to go back out there to prove anything," he replied.

And with that I took off my timing chip and turned it in officially taking my first DNF.

How do I feel about it today? I'm a bit mixed, it's very easy to play "Monday Morning Quarterback" when you're back sitting in the comfort of your own home typing away on a computer. This was perhaps one of the best races I've ever run; I nailed the nutrition, was running very strong, felt good mentally and physically and was in 3rd place when I dropped. You may say, "How could you drop when you were in 3rd place if you weren't hurt?" For me the mud was just that bad, it hadn't become a race anymore as much as it had just become a test of who could endure the mud the longest; I think the winning time of 27:06:58 pretty much tells the story there. Could I have finished? Without a doubt and now that I know what the winning time was I may have won; all I had to do was complete those last 3 laps in 10 hours or less. Sounds easy, right? That's a big IF. Would it have been better for me to take a rest and give it a shot at dawn when the trail was in better shape and I could see again? I can answer that with a definite no. For me, when I set out to run a 100 miler it's all at once; no breaks, no naps, just one foot in front of the other until it's done. Was it OK for me to quit because I was sick of the conditions and wasn't going to achieve my sub-24 hour goal? I'm still not sure...

David Goggins ran an incredible 150 mile race finishing in 33:36:20; I am astounded by his performance and truly cannot comprehend doing that even in the best of conditions. For the complete list of the 2008 McNaughton Park Trail Runs Results click HERE. Congratulations to him and all of the other finishers, thanks to Andy and all of the volunteers and thanks to all of you for your prayers and positive thoughts on Saturday. I hope you understand why I stopped at 70 miles, whether you agree with my decision or not may be a different story. I have been honest here in my thoughts and rationale and hope that you can at least respect me for that.

Hope all of you are well,

101 Year Old Man Completes London Marathon; or Is He Really ONLY 94???

Martin with a smoke after the marathon

Buster Martin ran the London Marathon yesterday in just over 10 hours but there is some question as to how old he really is. Below is from the UK Times Online:

On Saturday The Times disclosed that Guinness World Records had refused to verify his claim to be the oldest marathon runner. Now it has emerged why the world record guardians will not be featuring Mr Martin in its celebrated publication. Internal correspondence between senior officials at the organisation, obtained by The Times, shows that Guinness has evidence that Mr Martin is a mere spring chicken of just 94.

To read the article in its entirety please click HERE.

I hope to be able to run a marathon at his age, whatever that may be...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

2008 McNaughton 100 DNF

Just a bit before 11:00 pm last night, after 70 miles, I decided to call it a day and dropped out of the McNaughton 100 Mile Mudfest. These were by far the worst conditions I have ever seen; if you'd like to check out the few who finished and when the rest of us dropped please click HERE. Overall I ran a good race; felt good mentally and physically but decided to hang it up and live to fight another day. Thanks to Andy and all of the volunteers and congrats to all of the runners who trudged through to the finish! I'll post a full race report later this week.

Hope all of you are well,

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Let's Do This!!!

Photo of Winston Churchill taken by Yousuf Karsh

"If you're going through hell, keep going." ~Winston Churchill

"Watch a man in times of... adversity to discover what kind of man he is; for then at last words of truth are drawn from the depths of his heart, and the mask is torn off." ~Lucretius, On the Nature of Things

"We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey." ~Kenji Miyazawa

"Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are." ~Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

"When written in Chinese the word "crisis" is composed of two characters - one represents danger and the other represents opportunity." ~John F. Kennedy, address, 12 April 1959

"Adversity introduces a man to himself." ~Unknown

"We do survive every moment, after all, except the last one." ~John Updike

"Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant." ~Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), Satires

"When you're feeling your worst, that's when you get to know yourself the best." ~Leslie Grossman

Signing off until Sunday...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Weather Forecast for McNaugthon

Jeremy and Sara after the Sylamore 50K

Most of us have been checking the forecast for days now but in case we may have missed it Ryan Dexter just sent out the email below to the Ultralist about the expected conditions for the race this weekend:

"Similar to last year - I think the weather is going to cause this race to become an epic adventure yet again.

- There is a flash flood warning in effect in Pekin, IL until early Friday morning with rain in excess of 3 inches possible.
- Friday - showers possible/cloudy - High: 57 (wind chill 47) Low: 35 (wind chill 21)
- Saturday - showers possible/cloudy - High 42 (wind chill 31) Low: 29 (wind chill 15)"

My friend, Jeremy Bolt (also running the 100 mile race and pictured above with Sara Kniffen), sent this proverb to me some months back:

Traveler : What kind of weather are we going to have today?
Shepherd : The kind of weather I like.
Traveler : How do you know it will be the kind of weather you like?
Shepherd : Having found out, sir, that I cannot always get what I like, I have learnt always to like what I get. So I am quite sure we will have the kind of weather I like.

My hope is to have this same attitude Saturday!
All the best,

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"Yes, Running Can Make You High" - NY Times Article

Photo from

I meant to post this earlier when I saw it on the Ultralist but simply forgot; I know, hard to believe, but it happens :-) Interesting article in the March 27th edition of the New York Times:

"Researchers in Germany, using advances in neuroscience, report in the current issue of the journal Cerebral Cortex that the folk belief is true: Running does elicit a flood of endorphins in the brain. The endorphins are associated with mood changes, and the more endorphins a runner’s body pumps out, the greater the effect."

To read the article in its entirety please click HERE.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

McNaughton Park Trail Runs Next Weekend

One of the McNaughton Hills - photo by Mark Carlson

The McNaughton Park Trail Runs are next weekend near Pekin, IL and include 50, 100 and 150 mile events. Originally I had signed up to run the 150 mile race but after much thought and consideration I decided about 6 weeks ago to drop down to the 100 mile distance and give it my best effort to try to break the 24 hour mark. Here's a short blurb about the course from the event's website:

Do you think Illinois is all flat cornfields? Wise ultra-runners will get some serious hill training in before coming to McNaughton Park! We don’t have mountains in Illinois ... just a few rolling hills with elevator shaft downhills guaranteed to warm your quads on a chilly April evening. Here’s how one satisfied customer described the terrain: ‘I now know why Illinois is so flat. They took all the hills that are supposed to be there and put them ALL into one spot in Pekin, IL ... and called it ‘McNaughton Park’.”

If you'd like to take a McNaughton Virtual Tour created by Ollie Nanyes please click HERE.

The "only 150 mile ultra race in the United States" begins at noon on Friday with the 50 and 100 mile races starting Saturday morning at 6:00 am. Fellow SLUGs Jeremy Bolt and Travis Liles will also be tackling the 100 mile distance and SLUG, Tracy Thomas, is toeing the line for the 150. If any of you would like to track the runners as the race is happening there is a webcast you can tune into by clicking HERE. If you see that I'm "stalled" say a quick prayer and send me some positive vibes! I'll post a full race report next week after the race.

Today was the Go St. Louis Marathon and I went downtown to cheer on the runners and enjoy the amazing weather. Last Fall in my Yoga class, my friend Larry Hook and I were talking about running and he said, "I've run a few half marathons and someday I'd like to run a marathon," to which I responded, "Why don't you do it next Spring?" Well, today was "someday" for Larry as he rocked the course with a sub-4 hour finish! Way to go Larry and congratulations to all of the finishers! To view the full 2008 Go St. Louis Marathon Results click HERE.

From today's weather it certainly seems as though Spring is here; hope you're outside enjoying it!
Happy Running,

Monday, March 31, 2008

The 2008 Barkley Marathons Results

Photo of Brian Robinson's finish courtesy of Marcia Rasmussen

The Barkley Marathons took place this weekend at Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee. Here is a description of the race from

The Barkley is considered one of the toughest 100 mile races in the world. It has 52,900 feet of climb (and 52,900 feet of descent), more than any other 100 mile race, more than the 33,000 ft. of climb at Hardrock, and more than the 45,000 ft. at Nolan's 14. Since the race began in 1986, only 6 runners (7 now) out of about 600 have finished within the 60 hour cutoff. The race consists of 5 20-mile loops with no aid except for water at two points. The cutoffs for the 100 mile race are 12 hours per loop. The 60 mile "fun run" has a cutoff of 40 hours, or 13:20 per loop. To prove you completed each loop, you must find 9 to 11 books (varies) at various points along the course and return a page from each book.

"Fly'in Brian" Robinson won this year's race in 55:47:00 setting a new unofficial course record. Here is what David Horton had to say about Brian in an email to the Ultralist earlier this evening:

"Brian is an amazing man and athlete. I am truly impressed by what he did at Barkley. He told me in an e-mail prior to Barkley that he had trained hard and was ready. When he says something, you can take it to the bank. Even more so, he is a credit to the human race. I am glad to call him a close friend. I am not sure I would have finished the PCT if he had not helped me.He deserves all the accolades that he receives. Don't forget that he hiked all three of the major long trails, 7400 miles, in 300 days, within one calendar year. I consider it an honor to be in one of the seven with Brian at the top."

Here are the unofficial results as compiled by Wendell Doman:

Loop 1
1 Brian Robinson 7:07:43
2 Byron Backer 8:03:15
3 Jim Nelson 8:22:20
4 Greg Eason 8:52:23
5 Carl Laniak 8:52:25
6 Andrew Thompson 8:56:35
7 Jason Poole 9:03:09
8 Todd Holmes 9:03:10
9 Dewayne Satterfield 9:15:15
10 Michael Graz 9:05:15
11 Heather Graz 9:05:16
12 Blake Wood 9:11:52
13 Andras Low 9:11:53
14 Joe Decker 9:17:24
15 Jon Barker 9:17:25
16 Wendell Doman 9:33:00
17 Hiram Rogers 10:33:24
18 John Tyszkiewicz 11:09:58
19 Eugene Trahern 11:09:59
20 Ed Furtaw 11:18:19
21 Bill Goodwine 11:18:22
22 Andrew Hackett 11:19:45
23 Leonard Martin 11:19:55
24 Sue Thompson 11:27:11
25 John DeWalt 12:04:33
26 David Hughes 12:17:06
27 Matt Mahoney 12:17:06
35 Starters

Loop 2
1 Brian Robinson 16:47:30
2 Jim Nelson 20:00:57
3 Byron Backer 21:53:37
4 Carl Laniak 22:14:44
5 Greg Eason 22:14:45
6 Andrew Thompson 22:14:55
7 Blake Wood 23:17:20
8 Jason Poole 23:19:46
9 Joe Decker 23:37:30
23 Starters

Loop 3
1 Brian Robinson 29:56:49
2 Jim Nelson 33:42:34
3 Byron Backer 36:28:29
4 Blake Wood 36:52:27
5 Greg Eason 38:15:57
6 Carl Laniak 38:15:58
7 Andrew Thompson 39:15:59
7 Starters

Loop 4
1 Brian Robinson 43:19:20
1 Starter

Loop 5
1 Brian Robinson 55:47:00 (unofficial result)
1 Starter

Congratulations Brian on an amazing accomplishment and also kudos to the 60 mile "fun run" finishers! To view all of Marcia Rasmussen's photos of the finish please click HERE.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

Moraine Lake (Photo from the Banff/Lake Louise Tourism Bureau)

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour made its St. Louis stop last night and I went with my good friend and fellow SLUG, Deanna Stoppler. My favorite film was 20 Seconds of Joy; below is a description from the film festival's website and a preview from YouTube:

“I don’t want to die, I want to live. I’m pretty good at running away, and this is my escape!” This is how Karina Hollekim describes her dedication to BASE jumping. Documentary filmmaker Jens Hoffman first met the now 30-year-old Norwegian in 2002. He immediately started to film, accompanying her through many stages of her BASE-jumping career, until it comes to a sudden stop, changing all aspects of her life.

You definitely need to check it out when it comes to your area. Click HERE for the US Schedule (this page also has links for International and Canada dates) and HERE to learn more about the Banff Mountain Festivals.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Trail Running Video with Scott Jurek

Definitely worth 4 minutes of your time as Scott discusses and demonstrates body alignment, his uphill running technique and the importance of engaging your core while attacking hills.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ryan Shay's Autopsy Results Released

Photo from

Last week, the New York City Medical Examiner's Office released Ryan Shay's autopsy results. Here is an excerpt from the online Runner's World Article by Amby Burfoot:

"The brief autopsy report said only that Shay, who died at the 5.5-mile mark of the U.S. Men's Olympic Marathon Trials in Central Park last November 3, had succumbed to an irregular heartbeat caused by an enlarged heart. There was also evidence of scar tissue in his heart, possibly from an old infection, but the autopsy could not positively implicate the scarring or say what had caused it. In an e-mail to Shay (Ryan's Father), Ellen Borakove of the New York City medical examiner's office wrote:

Ryan's cause of death is cardiac hypertrophy with patchy fibrosis of undetermined etiology. Natural causes."

To read the article in its entirety please click HERE.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Shaw Nature Reserve Video by David Stores

My good friend and fellow SLUG, David Stores, was kind enough to share one of his favorite running areas with us, the Shaw Nature Reserve, which is about 30 miles west of St. Louis just off Interstate 44. This adds a whole new dimension as it's one thing to write and talk about trails and adventures but quite another when you can document them on video. Also, as many of you know, we've had some major flooding here in the St. Louis area and David was able to capture a bit of the Meramec River on film during his run. David, next time you need to invite me along! If any of you have videos you'd like to share please send them to me and I'll get them up on the blog. If you haven't already, check out my 3 Days of Syllamo Race Report below. It's a bit long but so is running over 93 miles in a single weekend!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

2008 3 Days of Syllamo Race Report

Rob Apple, Susan Donnelly and Jerry Frost at Sunday's 20K finish line

I met my good friend Jerry Frost at the I-44 commuter lot at exactly 3:30 pm Thursday afternoon, packed all of my gear into his Ford Escape and we were on our way. Jerry and I always have some interesting, and rather deep, conversations about life and this ride was no different. A few hours into the trip we were cruising along chatting away when all of the sudden the CD started shorting out and the lights began flickering; before we knew it the engine was sputtering. We pulled over to the side of the road just south of Salem, Arkansas, about an hour from Mountain View and in the middle of nowhere. Although I know nothing about cars I diagnosed the problem as either the alternator, the battery or more than likely both; this same thing happened to me before many years ago with my '84 Chevy S-10. As we got out of the car we could hear the thunder and see the lightning in the distance; we actually both kind of chuckled as the rain drops started falling, what luck! In a matter of minutes a young man stopped to help us out and then one of his neighbors also came out to help us push the truck off the road. Once off the road we called AAA for a tow and about 45 minutes later we were riding shotgun with Kenny, the tow truck driver, on our way to Mountain View. As we road along Jerry chatted with Kenny and noticed a picture of a dog on his cell phone. "That your dog?" Jerry asked. "Yep, that there dog's the best coon huntin' dog around. I trained him from a pup and he placed 1st in a national competition. Man offered me $10,000 for him but I said no way; some things are more important than money." We got to Mountain View around 11:30 pm, dropped off the Ford at an auto shop, said our good-bye's to Kenny and checked into our hotel. "I've never seen you that quiet," Jerry said. "I was just taking it all in and wondering what part of a 'coon' people eat." "Carey, people don't eat coons, they just kill them for the sport of it." "Glad I kept that question to myself then," I replied and with that we got our gear ready for the next day's race and went to bed.

Jerry woke up early and walked down to the auto shop to sort things out with the truck while I hung out at the hotel, took a shower and ate breakfast. Since we didn't have a car Paul Schoenlaub was kind enough to come pick us up; he swung by the hotel around 8:05 am and then we headed over to get Jerry. As we pulled up to the repair shop Jerry had a disappointed look on his face, "I've got to stay here with the truck so we can get it fixed; I'm going to have to miss the race," Jerry said. Bummed for Jerry but in a hurry for the 9:00 am start, we bid him good luck and headed down to Blanchard Springs campground. We got there around 8:45 am and I scrambled around to get everything ready, pinned my race number on, signed in and filled my water bottles. I said a few hello's and headed over towards the start to listen to the pre-race instructions from Steve. I looked around at the field and saw some great runners; this year's field was much deeper and I knew that I didn't have to worry about repeating last year's 4th place finish. Josh Nordell, Ty Draney, Tom Brennan, Matt Hart, these guys are in a whole different league! A few minutes after 9:00 am Steve announced "OK, Go!" and we were off.

I started out near the front of the pack too fast like I always do and ran with Ashley Nordell, last year's first place female, for the first few miles until I tripped and fell flat on my face. Ashley said, "Looks like you got your fall out of the way early!" "I'm sure there will be more," I responded as I stopped off by the creek to wash up and let her go on. For the next few miles I was passed by several people; Pat Perry said hello as he went by and Andy Emerson introduced himself since we've never actually met in person. Before I knew it Stuart Johnson was coming up on me and I said, "You know, we've got to stop meeting like this! Seems like every race I start out like a banshee and end up dying about 4 miles in." "The trick is to take it easy today, it's going to be a long weekend," Stuart said as we settled into a slow, steady pace; we would end up running practically the entire rest of the race together. There was a lot of debris on the trail from the recent snow storm so we were constantly hopping over, going around and straddling the trees and branches that blocked our way; this made the going quite slow and tore up our legs quite a bit. About half way into the race we were joined by Paul Turner, I didn't know Paul but Stuart did so we ran along together for a while as they caught up on stuff; by the end of Saturday I would know Paul quite well.

A little later I pulled away from Stuart and saw Pat Perry up ahead on the trail walking. "We must be at about the marathon distance because I'm hitting the wall," he said. "No, actually we're only at 20 miles; still a long way to go," I replied as I passed by him figuring I wouldn't see him again until the finish line. I ran by myself for a bit but before I knew it Stuart was back, with Pat in tow; somehow Pat had a new lease on life and was running again. For the last few miles we were running practically everything and as we came out on the road we all knew the finish was near. We picked up the pace and although we had decided to finish together I started running even faster, Stuart and Pat did too. I broke into an all out sprint for the last 100 yards or so crossing the line in 5:53:12. As we stood there, catching our breath, Stuart said, "We probably shouldn't have been sprinting that last part, it'll catch up to us tomorrow." "Yeah, I'm sure you're right, but I could smell the finish line and just wanted to be done!" I responded. Although I beat my time from last year by almost an hour the field was so strong that I ended up placing 17th. I was OK with that, now with no pressure I planned to take the rest of the weekend easy and just enjoy myself; little did I know I'd be racing against cutoffs the next day.

I headed back to set up my camp, soak my legs in the creek and shower before chowing down on the pasta dinner Chef Cal had cooked up. For some reason I felt really tired and worn down and assumed I had just let myself run too low on water, salt and food. I figured filling up my tank and a good night's rest was all I needed as I crawled into my tent around 9:00 pm, but sound sleeping just wasn't in the cards. Massive thunderstorms blew through the entire night; thunder, lightning and a torrential downpour which kept me in that world where you're not awake but not really asleep either. Around 3:00 am I thought, "If it's doing this at 5:00 am there's no way I'm leaving my tent," and then I dozed off again. As my watch alarm sounded I got up, looked outside and saw nothing but stars in the sky. "OK, no excuse now, I guess I'll have to run!"

Steve had to re-route the 50 mile course due to debris on the trail and the new course was said to be very challenging. It was an out and back on the Sylamore Trail for the first 18.5 and then continuing on the Ozark Highland Trail for another 6.5 miles to the turnaround; per the rumors it had 8,000 feet of elevation gain and loss EACH WAY! With our headlamps and flashlights on we headed out towards the Sylamore steps a little after 6:00 am; thankfully none of us knew at that moment just how long the day would be. I settled in with Stuart Johnson and Paul Turner from the beginning as we made our way slowly along the Sylamore Trail dodging debris in the pre-dawn darkness. We arrived at the Barkshed aid station around 8:30 am, 2 1/2 hours and less than 10 miles into the race; what was taking us so long? This would be the question of the day. We trudged on down the Sylamore Trail stopping at the aid stations along the way to refuel with coke and pringles. We reached the 18.5 mile aid station around 10:40 am and were warned by Liz and Steve's sister that the next 6.5 miles were tough; apparently a lot of very steep and long hills and a bit more technical. We were moving at a snails pace already and none of us were too stoked to hear that!

This next section was definitely challenging, there were some very beautiful sections that included cascading waterfalls, interesting rock formations and a few caves; in fact Paul and Stuart both joked about stopping to take a nap in one of the caves and for me to pick them up on my way back. Up to this point none of us were in the best of moods and it didn't get any better; usually when you hit a low point you can count on the people around you to pull you out of it but all three of us just continued to feed each other's negativity as we complained about how long it was taking, how hard the course was and how much longer we were going to be out there. We were definitely in a funk! We reached the 25 mile turnaround a little after 12:30 pm, 6 1/2 hours into the race. The "code" word listed on the paper at the turn was "Syllamo" (to prove you had actually gone all the way out) but I joked that the first thing I was going to say to Steve upon crossing the finish line was "You're a sadistic ass!" We now started our way back knowing that we only had 7 1/2 hours to make it to Blanchard Springs before the 14 hour cutoff; we were all a bit concerned!

We discussed our strategy for making it back within the allotted time. First and foremost we needed to turn our attitudes around and start being more positive, we had to push ourselves by running more and walking less and we needed to stay properly fueled and hydrated; these three things were key to a successful finish. We saw a lot of our friends still making their way towards the turn; they were also a bit concerned about the cutoffs and commented about how long this course was taking. A short time after picking up the pace I could feel that familiar wave wash over me and I started sweating profusely; I was not feeling well at all, I didn't just hit the wall I was actually in it. As we reached the 27.5 mile aid station I dumped my water bottle over my head to snap out of it and was zig-zagging a bit as I approached the table. Billy Simpson and Greg Eason could tell I was bonking hard and asked if I was OK. "Yes, I just need soda and food," I replied as I began slamming 3 cokes and ate almost a half a can of pringles. Those really hit the spot which meant my salt was low too and I knew that I would be feeling better within minutes. We left that aid station around 1:15 pm knowing that the next few miles were the toughest on the course.

About a mile later Paul said, "It's been great running with you guys today, you go on. I need to walk a bit and can't keep up this pace." "OK, man, but keep going, don't stop, you can finish this thing!" Stuart and I said and with that we continued running on. "Do you think he'll make it?" I asked Stuart. "Yes, if he just keeps moving. Paul's one tough dude!" Every now and then we would see Paul just a short distance behind us continuing to hammer on and he caught up to us again at the next aid station where Liz and Steve's sister were working. "You guys were right, that section was tough! Steve's one sick dude to come up with a course like that!" I said. "Yes, it's brutal. I'm not like him, he enjoys causing you guys pain. He figures the harder the better," his sister replied. More pringles and coke and we were out.

Around mile 39 I was feeling really good and began pulling away from Paul and Stuart. None of us said anything, I just started running more and a bit faster and the next thing I knew I had left them. As I came down the hill to the Barkshed Aid station at 4:30 pm the volunteers were cheering me on and said "Only 9 more miles to go!" "Yes, I know. I've run the Sylamore 50K a few times and definitely know the way back from here!" I quickly grabbed some coke and pringles and was on my way. I ran practically the entire time for the rest of the race and was feeling really strong. As I approached the Sylamore steps there was a little girl and her Dad out on the trail, "You're almost there," she said and I smiled back, "I know, it's all downhill from here!" Running down the steps I came out into the field and saw Pat Perry about 200 yards from the finish line with his hands up celebrating his finish. "How great would it be if I could pass him at this finish line?" I thought and at that moment I broke out into a full on sprint. The spectators all saw me coming and began cheering but I couldn't make up the distance finishing just 19 seconds behind him in 12:17:59 for 11th place. As he turned around he said, "Where did you come from? You must have been flying for the last 25 miles!" "Yeah, I was feeling good and ended up running a negative split. Something like 6:30 for the first 25 miles and 5:45 for the last; it was my slowest 50 miler but probably the best race I've ever run," I replied. "Great job!" Steve Kirk said as he came over to shake my hand. "Next year, I'm running the 5 mile St. Patrick's Day fun run in St. Louis. That course was ridiculous," I half-jokingly said. "What do you mean? You'll be back next year, you know it," Steve replied. After grabbing a fleece I returned to the finish line to welcome the rest of the runners in and found out that some very experienced people were actually pulled due to the cutoffs. As we stood around talking many of us agreed that it was one of the toughest courses we had ever run. After soaking my legs in the river, taking a shower and mowing down on some red beans and rice I headed to bed; I was absolutely beat but the end was near!

I slept about 11 hours and woke up around 8:00 am Sunday morning; as I headed up to the race pavillion you could feel the excitement in the air. We were all exhausted but this was the last day, a 20K victory lap if you will! I chatted a bit with Pat Perry as we ribbed each other about who was going to win the stage race; only 16 seconds separated us so it all came down to this race. "I don't know if I feel like racing today, we'll just see how I feel," I told Pat but secretly I really did want to beat him. He had run two great races but I knew that I was faster, I figured he had been running out of his mind and that there was no way he could keep it up. As we headed over to the start line Ashley Nordell came up to me and said, "You're Carey, right?" "Yeah, we've never really got to talk much since you're always way out in front," I replied. "You met my friend, Cheryl, at a race down in Oklahoma. We have a thing where when we meet people from different states we always email each other," she responded. "It was at Turkey & Taturs, yes, I remember her. She was really cool, we chatted quite a bit out by our cars after the race." "Small world," she said and with that we turned attention to Steve for the last day's instructions. The plan was to stay with Stuart the entire race as he was really going to put the hammer down because he definitely wanted to beat Pat and a little after 9:00 am we were off. We started towards the front; Stuart, Pat, Ashley and I cruising along and I knew within a few minutes that there was no way I could keep up this pace for long. We started going up hill and I did my best to hang on to Ashley and Stuart but I just couldn't, Pat was on my heels and I could hear him breathing heavy but I was too. About 2 miles in we came to a tree, I went off the trail to go around but Pat went under it and passed me. "Oh, I've got you," he joked but I thought to myself, "Yes, you do!" He was only 20 feet ahead of me but I was tired, my legs were heavy and I just didn't feel like racing anymore so I let him go.

It usually takes me 7-8 miles to warm up but in a 20K you don't have that long. I was passed a lot during the first half of this race and kept telling myself that I just needed to push on. I was only carrying one water bottle and drained it about 6 miles into the race; thirsty and hungry I arrived at the unmanned aid station, filled my water bottle and headed out for the last 5 1/2 miles. I was feeling a bit better and mentally convinced myself that it would be easier to run than to walk. Veronica Battaglia was on my tail for the entire last 4 miles and with about 1 1/2 miles left was less than 100 yards behind me. Heading into the last downhill section I thought there is no way I can let her pass me so I started flying at an 8:00 minute pace; downhill, technical running is my strength so I easily pulled away. Heading out on the road I saw Paul Schoenlaub and Stuart at the showers, "Great job, Carey. Looking strong, you're almost done!" they shouted to me. "Man, Veronica's on my tail. I'm beat, she's been pushing me this entire race. I can't let her pass me!" and as I crossed the bridge I looked behind me and there was no sign of her. I was relieved but still needed to push on this last bit to the finish. I got into the field and started my usual finish line sprint to the cheers of the spectators. Crossing the line in 2:38:55, Steve congratulated me on finishing all three days and gave me my hand-carved Ozark Hoot whistle finisher's award. Pat was there and I congratulated him. "You did awesome this weekend and we're a better man than me; great job!" He ended up beating me by less than 10 minutes for the entire stage race.

I headed over to grab my camera and snapped a few pictures of my friends and runners coming into the finish before breaking my camp down and showering. By about 2:00 pm Jerry and I were ready to start the journey back home and I was excited to have another 3 Days of Syllamo Stage Race under my belt. For the complete results of the 2008 3 Days of Syllamo Stage Race click HERE.

As many of you know I've been having a rough time mentally during my races lately. I've been wallowing in my low points and unable to get myself out of them; I haven't been enjoying the journey and just want to get to the finish. This weekend was no different as I was down quite a bit but continued to push on because that's what I do. I love the feeling of finishing and the sense of accomplishment I had on Sunday when we were driving home BUT this is only a small part of ultra-running. I am doing some real soul searching and trying to turn around my mental attitude to be more positive during the actual experience, this is much easier said than done! In order for me to keep going out there and running these races I've got to have a better outlook otherwise I will burn out and just be checking them off the list; or worse yet I will just quit running races all together. There's so many things I love about the sport; the friends I've made, the new lease on a healthy life I have, the confidence I've gained through these accomplishments, knowing that I'm inspiring others to get out there and push themselves and the list goes on. The trick for me is to remember all of this when I'm tired, hungry, thirsty, cold and hurting 20 miles into a race knowing that I have many hours left to endure. As David Horton says, "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional." I've been suffering too much lately and it's time to put that to an end.

Hope all of you are well and Happy Running,

Monday, March 17, 2008

3 Days of Syllamo Race Report Coming Soon

Challenging, that's the word that best describes this weekend. From the road trip down to Arkansas to the hellacious 50 Mile course Steve created for us on Saturday; this weekend was full of obstacles physically, mentally and emotionally. The official results are not yet posted but I know that I finished just a bit under 21 hours for the entire stage race, about 45 minutes slower than last year. Saturday's course made last year look like a walk in the park! I'm writing a full report and hope to have it up in the next few days.

Unfortunately I was only able to take a few pictures down there; that's the problem when you're a "one man show" it's tough to both run and snap pics for the blog. To check out the few that I have click HERE.

Hope all of you are well and Happy Running,

Sunday, March 9, 2008

3 Days Of Syllamo Stage Race Next Weekend

Header from the 3 Days website

3 Days of Syllamo, a three day trail running stage race covering over 150 kilometers in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, begins this Friday with the 50K event. Here is a description of the event from their website:

Day One 50k: This run will take place on the Sylamore and Syllamo trails. Full aid stations will be provided at approximately 4-8 miles apart.

Day Two 50 mile: “This is where the fun starts.” This run will be held on the Sylamore, Syllamo and Ozark Highland trail that winds, climbs and descends through the beautiful Sylamore Ranger District including several creek crossings, past scenic vistas and bluffs and through dense forest. Full aid stations will be located approximately 4-9 miles apart.

Day Three 20k: This run will take place on the Syllamo mountain bike trails. Aid will be provided at the halfway point.

To view the 2008 Participant List click HERE and to read my race report from the 2007 3 Days of Syllamo Stage Race click HERE.

Steve and Liz Kirk do an amazing job as race directors; this may be my favorite event of the year! After each race Chef Cal whips up a great meal and this year Steve has promised folk music from local musicians and massages from the Massage Works School of Therapy as part of the post race festivities, NICE!

Today will be my last run before the race; an easy, 8-10 miler. Since I began tapering my left leg hasn't been bothering me as much and everything feels like it is healing up quite nicely. To be honest, I was just running too much for too long. My plan for the rest of the year is to cut back my running to around 50 miles per week, return to Yoga classes 3 times per week and introduce at least one class into my weekly routine. I took one called 24 S.E.T. last week which is "a cardio/strength combination class that alternates strength exercises to sculpt every major muscle group with easy to follow step moves;" it was great!

Hope all of you are well and Happy Running!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

101 Year Old Man To Run London Marathon

Picture of Buster Martin from BBC News

This story, from BBC News, was posted on the Ultralist yesterday and I thought it was awesome!

Man, 101, to run London Marathon
A 101-year-old man has his sights on the London Marathon in a bid to become the world's oldest competitive runner. Working plumber Buster Martin ran Sunday's Roding Valley half marathon in Essex in five hours 13 minutes, and is now focusing on London's 26-mile event.

On finishing the run, the first words of the ex-member of rock band The Zimmers were: "Where's my beer?" Mr Martin, who has 17 children, started work at Pimlico Plumbers in London three years ago because he was bored. He drank a tankard of ale before signing autographs and chatting to fans near the finish line of the Essex race.

'A revelation'
Charlie Mullins, managing director of Pimlico Plumbers, said he was "amazed" when Mr Martin appeared at work on Monday morning after his exertions. He said: "I was amazed and delighted, he turned up on time and set to work polishing the vans. He's a revelation."

Mr Martin's trainer is marathon enthusiast Harmander Singh, who helped Fauja Singh, 96, break the London marathon record for the over-90s.

Buster, who lives in London, made headlines last year when he signed up as an agony uncle for men's magazine FHM, offering guidance to a younger generation. He also found fame when The Zimmers, who had a combined age of more than 3,000 years, scored a hit single last year with a cover of The Who's My Generation.

Story from BBC NEWS: