Monday, October 17, 2016

Ultra Spiritual

I heard running ultras could be a spiritual experience. The mix of long days and night, extreme physical exertion, and mental anguish can lead to some incredible highs and lows. This is what I was looking to experience. I wanted to know what this kind of running would do to me, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Emotionally, I know that it messed me up for a few days. As a non-emotional person, I experienced some rawness to my emotions that is very rare for me. It culminated in uncontrollable laughing fits for a few days after the race.

Physically, it challenged my body in ways I'd never been pushed before. You can read more about that here.

So what did running 100 miles in 26 hours do to me spiritually?

I always struggle with my call when it comes to race days. Outside of my job and ministry, I often find myself wanting to compartmentalize my life into a focus on the thing I'm doing. So when I show up to run a race, I want to let running be the emphasis of my day. I want to ignore who I am and how I'm called so I can just be a normal runner trying to reach my goals.

But that's not what God wants from us, is it? He doesn't want me to put my relationship with Jesus into a FBC compartment that comes out when appropriate. He wants me to let Him into my life at every level; being a representative of Him in whatever I'm doing.

This race, I was ready for that. I knew that I had a challenge ahead of me just in trying to run and finish such a long distance. But I also knew that my identity as a disciple of Jesus had to come out too in whatever ways I had opportunity.

So when I ran with two other guys and the subject of my job came up, I couldn't back down. I'm always afraid that if I tell strangers that I'm a Pastor, the air will change and it will become awkward. I fear that because it happens all the time. Not on this day. As the three of us with different spiritual backgrounds - cultural Mormon, atheist, Baptist - talked more and more into the day, I found that my opportunity was great. Though I wasn't there to walk them through the Gospel so they could stop running to say "the sinner's prayer", I did have every opportunity to show them a picture of Jesus and of Christians that is a far cry from what we see in the news. I prayed for these two awesome guys, I talked openly about my identity in Jesus, and listened to their ideas and thoughts about life, politics, and religion.

But then I got hurt. As my leg seized up and pain forced me to back off of running, I had to let my new friends go on ahead. "God, why would you let some stupid injury keep me from continuing with these guys?" I had actually tried to make sure I was running with purpose. Couldn't He have protected me from pulling a quad for that continued conversation? Wouldn't that glorify Him better than me limping along the gravel?

What a reminder of the mystery of God. We often like to think that He is more like a formula than a being. If only I do this, then God will do this... It doesn't work that way. Not only that, but blaming God for a pulled muscle is shallow theology. More likely, I turned wrong, slipped on a rock, or didn't cross-train enough to strengthen myself for this run.

But there I was... limping and praying. My words were these, "God, I know this is not the most important thing in the world. But I really want to finish this race. Can you help with this leg situation?" Over and over and asked God for His intervention. And believe me, I knew how little this mattered. Running 100 miles literally means nothing to the world. In fact, it can easily become a problem of pride when we just want to show people how great or tough we are. But I pleaded nonetheless.

And I made a deal. (Don't act like you haven't done it.) I offered that if God could help me to continue this race, I would make sure to give Him the credit. Though toughness has always been my most prized value, I would admit that it was not my own toughness but God's grace that allowed me to finish after an injury at 40 miles. Brutal honesty: I haven't quite lived up to my end of that deal. Ugh, pride.

There's a quote from British Olympic gold medalist Eric Liddell from the movie "Chariots of Fire" that always goes through my head when I'm running. He says to his sister, "God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast... and when I run, I feel His pleasure."

As I pushed my body, mind, and spirit to continue under difficult circumstances - pulled quad, exhaustion, pain - I could feel the God who was there with me. Again, this may not be among the most important things I do in my life, but I believe God blesses our passions. And I can glorify Him even when doing "nonspiritual things".

A couple of other learnings...

I am a starter and not a finisher. I am impatient. I tend to look past things based on the time it will take to finish them. So ultrarunning may be exactly what I need. I'm learning patience, persistence, and how to stay in the moment. God will use those virtues in me as I continue to grow in Him.

We are not meant to be alone. I would have been lost without my crew. Matt: driving to aid stations, filling bottles, offering encouragement. Jolie and Katie: helping Matt but also running with me into the night as I began to hallucinate and just wanted to sleep. It's possible to run these things alone, but I can't imagine it. I'm reminded that none of us are created to be alone. Out of the community of God's Trinity, we are made and called into community; with each other, with God.

This was a tough race, but one in which I feel like God was at work. And He still is. As memories of that day continue to float back to me, I'm learning more of how God can use these experiences to change me.

So I'm not done. Now I'm praying for recovery and good health... cause there are more races in the spring.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Running with Cows

The Heartland 100 Spirit of the Prairie Ultra Marathon. My first 100 mile race.

Whose stupid idea was this?

It's 6am, dark, and 43 degrees outside and I'm starting off for the longest day of my life. Though it's a pretty chilly morning, this is going to be the perfect day for running. Finally, I get an ultra marathon race with good weather. My goal for the race is to finish under 24 hours and it starts out looking pretty good.

The Flint Hills of Kansas are a beautiful place to run. As the sun rose slowly over the horizon, you could see for miles over the gravel roads and prairie grassland. Though a different world than the traditional mountains of West coast ultras, it was amazing to run through the rolling hills of Kansas. And I was running great. To begin the race, I stayed towards the front of the group, maintaining a pace in the front 10 runners. After a few miles, I connected with a couple guys who had similar goals and a matched pace, so that is where the day really began.

Larry, Sam, and I found quickly that running together, chatting, and solving the world's problems were a great way to pass the hours. For the next 40 or so miles, we ran together. Though we came from very different lives, it was a blast having some good people to run with.

Things were going so great for me. My legs were feeling good, my feet were holding out great in my VFF's even on the Flint rock roads, and my nutrition was perfect. Tailwind was my basis, but for the first time ever in a race, I was actually hungry and supplementing with food from aid stations. We were on pace for under 20 hours to finish, so I was sure we'd break 24 easily.

Until mile 40. While running along, my quad began to hurt. I've never had this kind of cramping or pain, so I wasn't sure what was going on, but I was nervous. Little by little over the next few miles I felt the quad getting worse. Thankfully there was a 43 mile aid station coming with my crew of Matt, Jolie, and Katie there to meet me. At the aid station, I took extra salt, tried to massage the quad, and stretched trying to work out the cramp. Volunteers offered advice and I decided to take off again with Larry to push through and continue. It didn't take long to realize I had a problem. The leg wasn't getting better, it was getting worse.

After sending Larry off to continue his run, I walked. Maybe if I could walk a bit, it would stretch and work out the cramp so I could keep going. Ultra wisdom is that time and miles will heal most problems; just keep going. It wasn't working. I limped for 7 miles to the 50 mile aid station and turnaround, feeling like quitting may be my only option. The EMT agreed that this wasn't cramping. I either pulled or tore my quad and it was swollen and painful. What do I do? I can't imagine finishing this race in the pain that I'm in. But if this is just a pulled muscle, I will feel like a quitter. So after sitting for a few minutes at the aid station, I took an IT Band strap and strapped it around my quad as tight as I could and took off. I tried to run a little and couldn't so I walked for a few minutes, then tried to run again. Finally, I decided I was going to push no matter what. My new mantra became "Run slow, walk the hills, get there". And that is what I did. I ran slowly, feeling my quad with every step, but little by little it became bearable. We were back on!!

At the 57 aid station, it was time for some pacing, as it got darker and cooler. Katie saddled up for the next 17 miles of running into the night. After 17 miles with me, Katie stopped to rest a bit while Jolie took the next 9 mile stretch with me.

At this point I'm experiencing my biggest concern with a 100 mile race. Sleepiness. I just want to go to sleep. My body is tired, but not unbelievably so. But I'm dying to sleep. And then there is the even worse part. Chafing. I'd been using some anti-chafing lotion that I found and it DID NOT WORK! I was hurting in the "undercarriage" so badly that it affected every step. By now, this was hurting more than my quad did. I'd settled into the pain of my leg and was doing okay now.

After a slow trudge to the aid station, it was time for the home stretch. It was the last crewed station with 17 miles left to the finish. Katie never planned to pace me for nearly this far, but I was in need of company so she took off with me for the final miles.

It was tough. We're tired, my feet now hurt from all the gravel, I'm chafing, my quad is jacked up, and I'm ready to just climb into the back of my car and curl up to sleep forever. But finally, after the second sunrise of the race, Katie and I coasted to the finish line.

My goals were toast. I finished in 26:40:33 and was 24th overall out of 48 finishers. I wanted to be top 10 and under 24 hours, and was frustrated that I didn't get to meet my goal. But I'm happy that I stuck it out through the injury and finished. My buddies met our goals and finished in the top 10; congrats to Larry and Sam.

I learned a lot in this race. First and foremost, get the right kind of anti-chafing treatment. That was a big mistake. Also, my new Vibram FiveFingers Trek Ascents were great. I wore one pair for the whole 100 miles and I had one blister total by the end. I will admit that the bottoms of my feet were about over it by 80 miles in.

It was a great race! I love that I got my first 100 miler in the books. But I feel like I have a little to prove after missing out on my goals. I'm looking at you, Booneville Backroads Ultra 100 miler!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Pleasant Creek

 I guess I put off this report. Maybe it didn't seem too important to write, but as I sit two days from my first 100 mile ultramarathon, I'm thinking I should rehash my last race.

The Pleasant Creek Trail Run takes place near Cedar Rapids, IA in Palo and offers the options of running a 15k, 30k, or 45k. These distances are based on the length of the horse trail that we run and how many loops we run. I really only signed up for this race because I had registered in the No Coast Trail Series, where I had to complete 3 of the races in Iowa to be in the standing. I had been leading the "Ultra" category all along due to my Hawkeye 50k and Booneville 100k finishes. I was hoping that by finishing the Pleasant Creek 45k, I would solidify myself at the top.

This race was even more exciting for me, as it turns out, because it was my wife's first ultramarathon attempt. After running her first half marathon this summer with our 9 year old son, Katie decided she was up for trying a trail ultra. Though the 45k is only a little further than marathon distance, it counts. Our friend Jolie was taking on the 15k as well and we were excited to see her finish too.

The Pleasant Creek Trail Run turned out to be a blast. Finally I got to run an ultramarathon on a nice day. No rain, no 20 degree temperatures, just sun and 70's. It was great.

As the race was about to begin, I stood near the back of the pack with Katie trying to get her phone and watch to sync up. Those things always work perfectly until you need them. As we fiddle with it all, the race is started and we take off. I had no plans of running with Katie since I was hoping to run this one hard and she was planning on going out conservatively. So I took off into the pack, trying to get past most runners.

I learned in Painful Elimination that getting stuck behind slower runners in a trail race can be a big hindrance, so I decided to go out fast and get past people so I had some room. I blew past a bunch of runners and found my place near some others who were going about my pace.

Though you can't ever compare midwest ultras to the mountain ultras of the west, I found this trail to be challenging due to it feeling all uphill. It wasn't a ton of actual elevation but it felt like we never came down; we just kept going up. And unlike the short steep hills of our local trails, these were long and drawn out. As I ran them on my first loop, I knew I should walk for the long term. But I didn't. Adrenaline.

As I finished the first loop I saw one other runner coming back out from the start wearing the bib number of a 45ker. Everyone else in the front was running either the 15k or 30k. So I knew I needed to catch this guy. About halfway through loop 2 I caught up to the runner ahead of me, and eventually dropped him. I was feeling good and as I came across the 2nd loop finish, they seemed surprised that I was a 45ker already. Was I in first place?

The 3rd loop was tough. I should have walked more uphills earlier, and my body was tired; but I knew that the guy I'd passed before could come up on me at any moment so I had to keep moving. I kept going, ran through aid stations without stopping, and began to entertain the idea that I could win. At one of the aid stations the volunteers told me they thought I was the first of the 45k runners to come through, so I started to believe it. I could win my first race as long as I don't let someone catch me.

Finally, the last stretch. As I came in towards the finish, I saw Kate going out on her 3rd loop. She looked strong and hadn't called it a day after 2 loops. I was proud to see her going back out to finish.

As I ran hard to the finish, I heard a volunteer yell out, "2nd place in the 45k..." Nuts.

Apparently another runner had been way ahead of me from the beginning. He beat me by close to 25 minutes and I'd never seen him. Oh well. For my 4th ultra and a race I hadn't even considered the option of placing, I got 2nd.

And Katie finished her first ultra. She had a horrible 3rd loop as her phone and watch both died and she had no way to gauge her progress, and no music to keep her going. But she didn't quit. She kept on until the finish and is an ultra runner. I'm more proud of her finish than mine. She went from an early summer half marathon to a tough trail 45k. That's toughness.

Gear: I wore my new Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon MR Elite shoes and they were great. They kept out the mud and gunk from getting inside and gave great traction through the race. Otherwise, I counted on my Epson Runsense SF-810 watch for tracking, my Ultimate Direction hydration vest, and my Flipbelt for my phone. I didn't need my Plantronics Backbeat Fit bluetooth headphones this time. I just listened to the woods, my steps, and my breath. I'm finding that I run with headphones less and less.

Nutrition: Tailwind. The aid station volunteers seemed to take it a little personally that I never wanted anything from them, but on this shorter ultra, I just needed my Tailwind and I was good. I did get some water late when I was ready for a lack of flavor in my mouth.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


I was interviewed on the latest episode of the RunIowa Podcast and it's out TODAY. Check it out HERE. And subscribe, because Rob and Dave do a great job talking about running in our neck of the woods.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

On Mud and Failure

 I came into this one with confidence. A 4.25 mile loop that I'd have to finish in under an hour up to 15 times. I knew I could pound out an easy 10 min/mile pace and finish each loop with over 15 minutes of rest before the next loop. I knew I could run the 63 mile total distance in way under 15 hours because I'd run my first 100k in just over 12 hours. It would be hard but I would beat this 15 hour race called Painful Elimination.

And then, it rained. It rained off and on all week long, it rained most of the night before the race, and it rained for the first few hours of the day. So a nice mix of prairie and single-track trail turned into a muddy trudge. With 100 runners traipsing over wet grass and mud, the trail got worse and worse and worse.

Long story short; I failed. After 7 loops/hours and 29.75 miles, I bowed out.

As Katie and I drove together the almost 3 hours to Bloomington, IL the day before the race, there was one thing I knew for sure... I wouldn't quit. If I didn't make it back in under an hour at some point, I could accept that. But I definitely would not stop running by choice. But quitting is exactly what I ended up doing.

This run feels like a major failure for me. The excuses are there. The mud was bad. By the 7th loop 100 runners had dwindled to 13. In fact, the winner only made it 11 loops and only 3 people ran 10 loops. Many that finished 12 loops in better conditions the year before were out long before me.

But this is ultrarunning. There are no excuses. Whether it's muddy trails at Painful Elimination, muddy B roads at the Booneville Backroads Ultra, or freezing temps at the Hawkeye 50k; my job is to push through. The whole point of ultrarunning is to push myself farther than I thought I could go.

So mark this down as my first DNF. I'm glad to have at least gotten an ultra distance out of it, and received the finishing award for 7 loops. (They had awards for 7, 12, and 15 loops.) But I've got a bad taste in my mouth from this one.

The Good:

  • My body and feet felt great. I definitely felt the exhaustion of running 7 hours with the extra effort it takes to take every step in mud. But no injuries or issues came from this one. Nutrition was fine, thanks to Tailwind. My feet were perfect in my Vibram FiveFingers Trek Ascents. They handled the mud better than most, and didn't get overly heavy or loaded with mud. No blisters, no lost toenails, no issues.
  • I was on the front end. I ran with the group at the front of the pack all day. I even finished some loops first. (Though slowing down may have helped me last longer.) Staying up front kept me from getting caught behind slower people in the mud during the single-track sections.
  • I learned that single-track trails are my jam. I'd feel heavy and tired while running through the prairie sections; sometimes getting left behind by the frontrunners. But once we got into the real trails, I always caught up. On my VFF's I was nimble and quick, and felt great moving through the trails.
The Bad:
  • DNF (Did Not Finish) I will be back next year. I'd sign up today if I could.
  • Quitting: I didn't time out like I'd figured may happen; I gave up. Not good. 
With my Heartland 100 Mile race coming up on October 8th, this didn't give me confidence. Thankfully, I also have the Pleasant Creek Trail 45k coming up in September to get my swagger back. Hopefully it goes well.

This race is a reminder that failure happens. Conditions in this life often don't go the way we plan. But most importantly, when we fail, there's another race; another chance to go again. I'm reminded that God has given us the ultimate do-over by offering us Jesus. In Him I always have another race, thankfully, cause I fail in life a lot more than in races. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Never Alone

I went for a late run last night. Work and baseball took up my daylight, so it was off with my Knuckle Lights for a night run. I don't mind running at night when it's warm out, but it definitely changes my running habits. There are places that I just won't run when I it's dark out. (I watch too much Criminal Minds, etc.)

After a short impromptu coach's meeting at Jeff's halfway through my 8 mile run, it was even later and darker for me to finish up. So why not hit the big hill?

The "big hill" is on Walnut Street in Mount Pleasant, and it runs in between the Catholic side and the "other" side of Forest Home Cemetery. It's toward the edge of town, right next to Old Threshers and a bunch of trees. At night, it's creepy.

So instead of running as usual with my headphones, I took them off so I could have full use of my senses to warn me when someone comes out of the bushes to murder me with an ax.

As I looked around and listened to the sound of my footsteps, my breathing, and the Gatorade sloshing around in my bottle; I got a reminder that I wasn't alone. I looked over and in the distance I saw a small glowing cross. At the time, I mistakenly thought it was the lit cross from my church, but I was on the wrong side of town to see our church's cross.

It was a great moment as I remembered that in the darkest and creepiest of places, I am not alone. Though we usually quote a different part of the Great Commission, my favorite part is when Jesus says, "...and surely I am with you to the very end of the age."

Things look pretty dark out there. Another mass shooting, political garbage, a dark world. But this photo is a reminder to me that though it's dark, Jesus is still here and His light is still on. He will never leave us or forsake us. We don't have to worry, because He's promised to stay with us and to lead us to something better.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Becoming a Booneville Bada$$

Before the race.
Never underestimate Iowa. That's definitely one of the most important things I learned at the Booneville Backroads Ultra 100k on May 28th southwest of Des Moines. The funny thing is, I trained on hills, both at Geode State Park on the 7 miles of trails and on the backroads of Henry County, expecting them to be similar. They were not. The low rolling hills of southeast Iowa are nowhere near the same as what the Booneville course threw at us. No, it isn't the mountains of Colorado, but the hills were high and constant. And the mud made it worse.

The mud! I was kind of looking forward to the "B" roads that we would encounter on the Booneville course, especially because I was attempting to finish my first 100k in my Vibram FiveFingers shoes that have very little cushion for the long miles. Most of the course is gravel and I knew that would be tough on my feet, so I thought that the mud roads would be a nice soft break from gravel. I was too right. Due to rain the night before, and some rain during the race, the B roads were not just soft but way too soft. With nowhere to find solid ground, you were forced to trudge through the mud with the added weight of muddy shoes and going up hills for a few miles. It was there that the demons first showed their faces. 

About a week before the Booneville Ultra, I finally decided that I felt prepared for my first 100k. Thanks to my unofficial coach's training plans and advice, I had done a lot of solid work to get ready for this event. I'd run tons of hills, put in back to backs, and ran the Hawkeye 50k the month before as a training race. But going from a 50k or back to back runs to a full 100k still seemed ominous. But I'd told way too many people about this to DNF so I better be ready to run all day. 

Before the race began, Steve Cannon, the race director gave a speech to prepare us for what was coming. The significant part went something like this... "Today, you're going to meet some demons out there. When you do, shake their hand, tell them to have a nice day, and keep going." It was a great reminder of the lows that most all runners experience over the course of a long run.

The race started out great. It was partly cloudy and calling for some storms, but at 6am it was beautiful. It wasn't overly hot and the gravel roads were just wet enough to be a bit soft to run on. Thankfully, they hadn't been overly grated so they weren't just covered in rocks so you could find a good path to run that had enough traction and enough give to be comfortable. Our course was not marked because we had to earn our #boonevillebadass status, so we had to use cue cards to follow directions in order to stay on course. I started off easy, running about a 10 min/mile pace, hoping to keep it easy while not going out too slowly. After a few miles I found myself running next to someone who matched my pace and seemed like a good person to chat with for awhile. The most difficult part of this is making first contact. Brittany - who became my running partner for most of the day - was running my pace, but I wasn't exactly sure how best to start a conversation. How do you make that first contact to see if she's interested in chatting without seeming like I'm hitting on her? The truth is, I'm obviously happily married and not running an ultramarathon to pick up girls, but I felt like a guy at a bar trying to figure out a pickup line. (Katie would later call Brittany my race girlfriend, though I literally couldn't have picked her out of a lineup for most of the race. When running beside someone, you don't spend your time studying their features. I seriously didn't even know what she looked like until about mile 25 when we found the mud.) Somehow my new running friend and I started talking and found that our goals for the race were the same. I wanted to finish in under 12 hours and she wanted the same because a finish a little under 12 hours would be a women's course record. So off we went.

The run was going great. We were running at about a 10:15 min/mile pace and feeling great. We knew there were people ahead of us, but few passed us from behind and we'd left those that were close in the dust. We got through the first aid station at 10 miles and then the long run to the second at 23 miles. The next 7 miles should be easy to get to the next station. Boy were we wrong. Between 23 and 30 miles the demons came out to play as we angrily trudged through the mud. Our great pace started dwindling quickly and by the end of those mud miles, we'd dropped to an 11:30 pace and were pissed. Neither of us expected this and we recognized our goals slipping away and noticing that are legs were wiped from getting through the unstable ground. 

We rolled into the mile 30 aid station pretty frustrated with the recent events. I planned to change my shoes. I was wearing my Vibram FiveFinger Trek Ascent shoes, which are great on trails and I'd worn for the Hawkeye 50k the month before. They have no real cushion to speak of, but great soles with lots of traction. Coming out of the mud, Katie and my crew (Matt and Jolie) told me my shoes looked the best of any they'd seen coming out of the mud. I'm sure that's true. I planned at this point to change my shoes because of how muddy they'd been, but the crew told me there was more mud ahead so I decided to save my shoe-change till after. But my feet felt great. I couldn't feel any blisters or hotspots, and was excited at how well my Vibrams were doing. I really didn't know if I could go 63 miles on such small amount of cushion, so I was just hopeful to continue feeling good.

The next stretch I was expecting to be the hardest one. We had a 12 mile run before the next aid station and at mile 42 we would get to have a pacer. Not only that, but as we took off from the 30 mile station, it started to rain, and then rain harder. I even stopped at one point to put on the new Patagonia Houdini jacket I'd bought the night before at REI. It was great as it kept the rain off without heating me up. I honestly don't remember a lot about this stretch. It rained and I ran. Brittany had gotten out in front of me and I was running alone and remembering how much I hate rain. Eventually it slowed down and I caught back up with Brittany to continue our run to the next station.

Throughout all of this, I was feeling pretty good. My legs were feeling tired but not overwhelmingly so. I'd been drinking my Tailwind consistently with my two bottles full on my Ultimate Direction vest. I knew I needed to be supplementing that with some food at aid stations but wasn't feeling like eating much. My stomach wasn't awful but I was definitely not totally comfortable. Full disclosure: running with a girl was a bit of a problem. I apologize for the TMI but I suffer from what my son calls "the running toots" and running with a girl made that difficult. I didn't want to be the guy ripping them the whole day next to someone. So my stomach was a bit off for most of the day. But otherwise, I was doing well.

Mile 42 came and after I did finally change shoes to my VFF KMD Evo's, Matt and I took off for an 11 mile stretch to the final aid station. (My feet still felt great in my Trek Ascents, but they were wet from rain and a bit stretched out from all the mud so I decided to get fresh shoes on.) The hills continued and my fatigue grew. I'm pretty sure there were moments where I was weaving around while running or walking hills. But we kept going and Matt was a great encourager as we made our way forward. We even passed a few people in this stretch.

Finally, we made it to mile 53 and the final aid station where Katie would pace me into the finish.I was getting frustrated because the race info stated that the first porta-potty wouldn't be till mile 50 and I had been in need of one all day. There were some gas stations along the way but I didn't want to stop. But as my watch clicked off mile 50, there was no bathroom to be seen, and I was angrily moving toward the aid station praying for one. As we came in to 53, I asked for a restroom and was told it was about a hundred yards past the station to the porta-potty. Phew.

Katie and I took off. And then, we stopped to walk. The hills just kept coming. Each time I would pick a site to try to run to so that we would keep going as long as we could until walking the worst part of the hills. It was on this stretch that the demons really showed up. I was tired, and hot, and ready to be done. I was so tired of going up a hill only to get to the top and see that there was more. I was ready to finish this thing. Katie tried to encourage me and keep me going but I was over it. Until... with about 4 miles left I felt like I could start pushing again. After walking the hills and complaining about it, I was ready to go. So we started running. We ran downhills and we ran uphills. We just kept going. Finally, I realized that I could hear Katie breathing and noted that I better check on her. She was fine but running hard as we were going at about a 9:40 min/mile pace up and down hills for the last few miles. Finally, we saw the turn and came in hot to the finish line.

I finished in 7th place with a time of 12:17:57. The RD was there at the finish to shake my hand and congratulate me on the finish, and to give me my Booneville glass. What a feeling to be done!

Though I'd hoped to break 12 hours and finish in the top 5, I was happy with my effort. The Booneville Backroads Ultra turned out to be a much harder course than I'd imagined, but was a great experience. (Brittany came in about 8 minutes after me and though she didn't break the course record, she won the women's division!)

As I plan for my first 100 miler this fall, in the back of my mind is my one leftover desire about the Booneville Backroads Ultra. I want that buckle. So I'll see you next year for the 100 miler at Booneville.


  • Ultimate Direction hydration vest
  • Tailwind bottles and liquid nutrition
  • Vibram FiveFingers Trek Ascent and KMD Evo shoes
  • Injinji Compression Socks
  • Reebok dri-fit shirt and UnderArmour running shorts
  • KC Royals mesh fitted hat
  • Plantronics Backbeat Fit headphones (I didn't use them)
  • Epson Runsense SF-810 watch (super accurate all day & battery last all day too)
  • Flipbelt
  • Patagonia Houdini jacket