Last Sunday (4/5) I ran in the Brew to Race from Kansas City, MO. to Lawrence, KS. Wow! What a day! Race day for the 44 mile Ultra-Marathon started with a 3:00AM wake-up alarm (actually we set 4) and lots of anticipation. With the support vehicle already packed and ready to go, I dressed for the race and around 4:00AM ate my pre-race meal of oatmeal and soy milk with Hammer Soy Protein, and Hammer Heed Drink. Berta, Kelsey, and I left shortly after that to make the short drive to Kansas City. We met Andy,Katiy, and Monk (Andy's dog) at the race starting area and as they discussed the different mile stops they were going to meet me at for food and drink I did my stretching and made a quick porta-potty stop. Starting areas before an ultra are just different than other races. It's hard to explain but as you stand there ready to toe the line with others that will be running a race of that distance, stories and strategies are shared in a matter of minutes with others that you might know or have never met. Everyone forms a common bond of friend and competitor.
The race started at 6:00AM and the weather for the day was going to be a challenge. Temperatures started out around 44 degrees but the forecast called for falling temperatures and rain, sleet, and snow as the day progressed. The forecast was exactly right. It was almost perfect for the fist few miles as far as the weather was concerned. The rest of the race was run in constant rain, sleet or snow. Also, very high winds out of the North and Northwest were constant.
This picture is early into the start of the race after it got light and before the weather hit.
The race is run on a combination of river levee trails, highways and gravel country roads. It really puts you through a test of running surfaces. There are several major hills but also some rolling hills and some great flat stretches. Aid stations are set up for solo runners and they are supplied with basic needs, but I think that it is always important to bring along your own food and drink that you have been using in your training. Not a good time to switch. The volunteers on this incredibly harsh weather day were fantastic. They were out there longer than many of the runners. Spirits ran high as you approached each stop. They really made an effort to make sure you were doing ok. A big thank you to them.
I had fantastic support crew. Berta, Kelsey, Andy, Katiy, and Monk took very good care of me and made sure that I had everything that I needed to run the race. The support vehicle was loaded with clothing (Brooks clothing and Brooks Infiniti shoes) and food choices that even the most elite runner would marvel at. Berta worked so hard to organize everything and I really appreciate that!
Here I am at one of the stops getting refill on my Hammer Perpetuem or Heed. Berta used a cleaning tote to keep all of the things we had planned for at each stop. One of the most important parts of my race strategy is to carefully plan what I want at each stop but also have a plan for back-up items that I might want to change to. At many of the stops, the whole crew was standing out in the wind, rain and/or sleet waiting to help. Throughout the race I drank Perpetuem, Heed, Hammer Supplements, and water. I ate peanut butter, honey, and sliced banana on whole wheat bread sandwiches. I also had ginger chews which taste very good during a race. My energy level was outstanding and again I really feel that my Hammer products really made a huge difference.
As I neared the last few stops and asked what time it was I started to notice that my time was quite a bit faster than it was a year ago. I really dug deep to have a strong finish and was very happy with the results. As I have stated in my blog posts many times before my strong faith plays a vital part in my training. I was also very pleased with my training schedule and nutrition plan. I felt strong both mentally and physically coming into the race and finished in the same way.
Arriving at the finish was great! Even in the bad weather there were lots of people there to cheer finishers in. Finish time was 7:31:25. (Last year I ran the race in 8:54.) I was really happy to cut that much time off of the race last year. It was a challenging, but great race and I can't wait until next year which I will run right before the Boston Marathon.
Although the finish line was exciting, there was something even more special at the conclusion of this ultra adventure. There waiting for me at the end were family and friends. What more could you want. To Berta, Andy, Kelsey (Not in the picture because she spent the day taking pictures), Katiy, Joel, Jenny (Helping me down the slanted walkway), Maggie, and Monk I say a big thank you for meeting me at the finish and helping to celebrate the ultra accomplishment. It was great to see you there and I sincerely appreciate all that you do for this crazy runner.
Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!