Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bartram 100's

Team Insanity in our custom made straight jackets.

December 10-11th I completed a personal, physical experiment on myself. Most of you that know me know I like to play games. Sometimes playing some stupid game is the only way to get through an ultra distance/ultrarunning event. It is the way you break down the event into manageable “bite-size” pieces to get you through the distance. I had heard a theory that you can run twice the distance of your previous longest run, if you play things smart. So basically if you know that you can run 10 miles today, you should be able to run 20 tomorrow. Then there were others that started talking about doing triple the distance of your longest run. This is where Bartram came into play for me.

For 2011, I had decided to take a break from running 100 mile races (hundos) and focus on my first half and full ironman distance events. I focused on swimming and biking and just kept my running in check with doing my favorite ultra in the area of Sweetwater, Hot 2 Trot, and Stump Jump. I was pleasantly surprised and somewhat amazed at how good I felt at these ultra runs with as little running that I had been doing. I ended up with 36.5 miles at Hot 2 Trot and my longest run preparing for it was 16 miles.

So, I get a call from Sandy Geisel and Mike Delang about Bartram. “At least come out there and do the 100K” I am told. Next thing I know I am signed up and somehow magically talked John Ridgley into joining what turns into being Team Insanity. I thought this name was completely appropriate for the players involved, but more importantly my thoughts of running that far with as little running I have done for the year. Then the trash talking begins for me to step up to the 100 miles. I jokingly state that I will get to the 100K distance and see how I feel and would hopefully push on. I knew my friends or wife would not let me settle for less, but I just had a hard time admitting to myself that I would run 100 miles.

This is where the experiment begins. The longest I have run in the past 3 months was 31 miles, so the triple the distance theory was now in play. I had the idea of doing the first 5 loops, then the next 5 to get me to 100K distance and then some way work out the next 6 loops to make the 100 miles on the 6.25 mile course.

John Ridgley and Philip Sustar in from the first loop. Notice the smiles; they don’t stay around all day!

The Bartram loop is good combination of single track, wider path, and dirt road with large gravel, 100% on dirt. All the road sections with the large gravel had paths to the sides to get around the gravel. The RD’s stated that they had changed it from last year to make it 6.25. There is an unmanned aid station about 3.5 miles into the loop. This is a good mental factor knowing that you are over 50 % done with that loop. The loop is completely runnable the entire time, if you are not running 100 miles, at least for mere mortals like me. I would highly recommend this event to any of my ultra-friends that are looking for your first 100K or hundo.

My thought was to try to be consistent per loop. I had figured out if I did the 6.25 miles in an hour and a half and could keep that pace, it would be a sub 24 hour hundo. In theory, that doesn’t sound that hard, but one thing that I have been taught from the beginning my of hundo training, RESPECT THE DISTANCE!! About the time you think you have a hundo handled, it can beat you down into submission!

So, Team Insanity shows up about 6:40 am and at just before 7 all runners are gathered for final instructions and then “GO!” Not everyone realized that was the official start, but then we all got going. We have to do the first loop using headlamps. One major lesson that I learned at this race, run your own race! Don’t worry about anything but yourself and the way you want to run the race. I let myself get caught up with others and different things going on. Before I know it I have completed 4 loops in a sub-20 pace. I know this is too fast, but I just kept going the best I can, hoping to hang on to this time and benefit from it later.

I must give a disclaimer at this time. Not only am I banded from doing math at hundos from my previous crews, but I honestly am struggling to remember who ran what loops with me, but will just let you know what I remember.

John, Terrie and Philip on lap 6-7?

About loop 6-7 I pick up my first pacer of Terrie Tillman. She and I became friend just this summer when I kayaked for her and she swam 12.5 miles around Key West and people call me crazy! She has completed more road marathons than I have and she is an ultra-runner, I just haven’t talked her into one, yet! I was glad to have someone to run with me and talk. It is so amazing how having someone to talk to can make the miles click off. Terrie and I run a few laps and then I pick up my next pacer.

Terrie trying to help with my lower back locking up. This continues to be an issue for me and would have to deal with this for 50 more miles.

Jason Rogers came down be part of my crew also. I had joined up with Jason’s crew at Pinhoti and he wanted to pay me back for helping him there. It gets dark and we keep clicking off the loops. I get to the 100K point, 10 loops down and really want to stop there and call it quits. I even ask Jason to run ahead on finishing that 10th loop to inform the RD’s that I was continuing on just so not to have people cheer and then find out I was not done. Jason did a great job of making me smile and laugh when I would run the down hills. When I did run, he would rap some made up thing about me that couldn’t help make me feel better. It was great having him there even though at times I was so miserable I wasn’t great company.

At this point the race became the biggest mental battle I have faced since Cascade Crest 100. For whatever reason I could not figure out a way to break down the remaining 6 loops besides one by one and that seemed ridiculously painful. Now that I have slowed down, it is getting to the low 30’s, I am just miserable and want to stop. One valuable lesson that I have learned by accident is that a major key to your success at the 100 mile distance is who is on your crew. I was taught there is one of 3 ways of a hundo ending, crossing the finish line, having to be taken to the hospital, or getting popped by the Grim Sweeper and not making the cutoff. I have been fortunate to have people on my crew like this at every hundo, Victor “Mad Mexican” Zamudio and Pat “Traildog” Ackley at the first two hundos. My beautiful wife stepped up in their absence this time and did a great job.

Rhonda realizing that I am pretty bad shape ends up connecting with Willy “Nature Boy” Syndram that is there and has been pacing for another friend of ours that has finished. I had also just meet Willy this year at GA Jewel when he needed a crew member. Things worked out and I was able to be there for him. Willy could easily been asleep, but he is out there in the middle of the night pacing me. It got my attention that he would be help me because Willy is one of the “lead pack” guys. He is one of those guys that finish races, depending on the distance, 2-8 hours before I do. I knew if he was giving into help me, I had to “man up or shut up!” I continue to just move forward as best I can, but at that point it is all walking besides the down hills. I believe when Willy finished pacing me he had gotten in 100 miles for the day in less than 22 hours!

For whatever reason, this is the first hundo that I have run that I had issues with sleep deprivation and had a major struggle to stay awake. Willy gets me through loops 13-14 and I request 10 minutes to sit down and get a little nap. Willy and Rhonda watch over me and get me going again in less than 10 minutes with Jason as my pacer. It starts to get daylight during this loop and I start to come back alive.

Terrie is still there and I decided to have her run with me the last lap. This is her first ultrarunning event to see and I had been telling her all this stuff of “Power of the 2nd sunrise” and “Smelling the barn.” I knew if it took it, she would call me out on that stuff to push me to finish this last loop strong. Harry Goslow, a fellow Ironman, marathon runner, and Team Insanity supporter, wants to help push me along for the last lap. Remember I am a game guy, right? Well, I let them know that I wanted to play the game “Drop the Pacer.” I wasn’t trying to be mean, but I honestly was going to try to run off and leave them and their job was to not let me do that so it pushes me even harder. I ran that lap like I ran one of the first ones and by Harry’s calculation; I did it in about 1:15 to finish in 25:44, a new PR for 100 miles for me!

Sandy is such a wonderful person. She just ran 100 miles herself but comes over to check on me after the finish.

One of the things that I truly enjoy about this sport, in the true spirit of ultra-running, you look out for your fellow runners. When you crew for someone, they pay you back for what you did. Or, just helping someone out that needs it. I love the thought that ultra-events are like family reunions. We have to take care of each other, there are only so many crazy people that like to run this far!! :)


To the RD’s of Bartram, you guys did a great job with the support. I think the course layout this year is great and know that a number of Team Insanity’s support crew plan to run your event next year.

To the Team Insanity support crew of: Rob Prince, Jenn Ridgley, Beau Bearden, Harry Goslow, Todd Carson , Chris Green, Peggy Dwyer, and Leslie Lybarger. Thank you for giving your time to help and support the crazy people running around in circles. You guys were awesome!!

Sandy Geisel: “Little Miss Sunshine” you truly amaze me with your positive energy the whole time. Great time and first female!

Mike Delang: I KNOW that you can do a hundo. It WILL happen.

John Ridgely: Twice this year you have stayed in the fight when the events put you on the ropes. Way to hang tough and see this one out!!

Terrie Tillman: You have more than paid me back for Key West with this event. Let me know how and when you want to come over to the “Dark Side” of ultra-running. You will do great!

Jason Rogers: I appreciate you going above and beyond of supporting me for this. I so want to see and help you get that Pinhoti buckle! Stay focused and strong and you will be wearing one in mid Nov 2012!!

Willy “Nature Boy” Syndram: Dude, you were so solid pacing me. I know you could have been asleep in a warm sleeping bag instead of freezing with me at my snail pace. You kept me in the fight at my lowest time.

My Beautiful Wife: I honestly have too much to say thank you for. The love, support, the verbal cattle prods when I need it. You not only took care of me, but helped the other members of Team Insanity. No one would argue that you earned the “Crew Boss” title that weekend. I would not be able to run these races without you!