Thursday, May 3, 2012

Kal-Haven Ultra Marathon-33.68 Mile Race Summary

Kal Haven Race Summary

Well, another Ultra is in the books.  I must say, that it was extremely rewarding to be able to get out there and race again.  That was probably my longest race hiatus in quite some time.  I truly missed the feeling.  I had been absolutely craving it.  

Friday Night
Friday night, myself and Geers drove separately up to South Haven to the finish line and dropped my car off, so that we would have a car to take us back when we got done.  There was a torrential downpour on the way up to South Haven and once we arrived, I quickly locked up my car and jumped into Geers' car.  We then made our way back to Kalamazoo and headed to Nicole's place for some pasta dinner.  We whipped a massive amount of pasta, which I indulged in several servings because I have no self control :)  We stayed over there for a bit and discussed race plans and mostly what we were going to wear the next day, then Geers dropped me off and I gathered a few things that I hadn't packed and got ready for bed.  I hadn't slept that much this week, so I was hoping to get a good nights sleep.  I actually fell asleep just after 10 pm.

Saturday morning-Race Day!
I have been training for this race for the last several months.  I hadn't really indicated a goal, but when it came down to it, I wanted to run it in under 4 hours.  That is basically around a 7 minute pace.  I have to admit, I was a bit unsure of this due to the fact that I haven't down a ton of running at that pace lately. A lot of my runs have just been about going out there and getting them done.  High mileage definitely effects your pace.  I had hoped that the high mileage would result in some amazing endurance however.

Anyways, back to race morning.  So, Geers and Nicole met at my apartment at 6:45am and we drove over to the Kal-Haven Trail head together to get our packets and get ready to race!  We were there pretty early and were one of the first few cars there.  The early starters just started right after we got there.  We put on our numbers and gathered around Ryan's car.  We took a few pictures as other friends of ours started coming in and I stood there doing a few different stretches to get warmed up and debated on my shoe choice and whether or not to carry a water belt.  In the end, I feel I made the right decision by going with my Kinvaras as opposed to my MT110's, because of the hard surface of the trail.  I do however kind of wish I didn't take my waterbelt, but there is something comforting about knowing the fact that I have water/gatorade on me at all times and it wasn't a huge additional weight, so it wasn't a big deal.  I went to the woods for a quick pee....twice and then put on the waterbelt, turned on the music and headed for the start.  A few friends wished me luck and I wished them the same.  I headed towards the front of the start line and before I knew it we were off.  South Haven here we come.

Thinking about the fact that I would be doing something this "crazy" 5 years ago would have shocked the hell out of me.  I mean, I was lining up to run from Kalamazoo to South Haven, which is nearly 34 miles a way.  I mean, who in their right mind does stuff like that?!?!  It takes a different kind of thought process to enjoy this stuff, but I absolutely love it.  Back to the race.  We were off.  I saw Chris Greggory at the front.  He has won this race the past several years.  I had no intention whatsoever of trying to keep pace with him for 34 miles, I just wanted to do the best that I can.  That's always my intentions.  I will always give my best, hope others do their best and what happens, happens.  The first mile was pretty slow.  I ran like a 7:14, but it was good to warm-up.  I hung with the lead pack for about 3/4 of a mile and then I let them slip away.  I have one too many times made the mistake of going out to fast, only to cramp like a mother fu*#@* later in the race.  It is one thing to feel such immense, horrible pain during a marathon, but to experience that in a 34 mile race, well, I wanted no part in that.  I always try and run a race the fastest I possibly can (duh), since I am racing it. For that, I pace myself accordingly.  Several runners that I see taking off early, I know will pay later in the race and I will catch them.  And, that is exactly what happened.  For the first 13 miles Geers and I ran side by side.  We were running around 7 minutes, maybe a little over 7 minute pace for a lot of the early miles, which was fine with me.  My goal was to get to Bloomingdale and feel like my legs felt ready to hammer down the remaining 16 miles.  Once, we hit Gobles I kicked it up a bit and blew through the aid station, managing to run by and grab a Shot Block without stopping.  I kicked up the pace the next few miles and I noticed a guy that was running with Ryan and I for the last few miles decided to follow suit.
He caught up to me and we ran together until Bloomingdale.  I stopped quickly to grab some water and then caught back up to him.  Little did I know, we'd end up pushing each other for 20+ miles, right until the very finish.  We started pushing the pace and I looked down and saw 6:40s.  I was kind of scared, because I realized we were going to be running nearly 34 miles, but I was feeling great so we kept at it.

Over the course of the race, we continually picked people off as we ran side by side.  We were making an incredible team.  We caught the last guy with a little over a mile to go and he seemed very bummed when we told him we were doing the Ultra.  The last mile was a 6:07 pace, I couldn't believe it.  I hammered down the last few with Rob and it came down to a sprint to the finish.  Rob edged me out by two seconds, but I most certainly wasn't bitter.  If it weren't for him, I would have never pushed that hard to begin with.  I managed 4th place overall and won my age group.  I was pretty satisfied with the fact that I ran a 6:53 pace for almost 34 miles and besides Rob, the only people that beat me was a former world champion ultra runner that ran a 3:38 and broke the course record, and the two time reigning champ.  Next year, I want to take a stab at that 3:38.  Overall, it was a very rewarding day and I was pleased with how I did.  I'm definitely digging these ultras.  The strangest part about this one was that I think I could have held that pace for a good 5 more miles, which I means I should have pushed harder, especially earlier.  Next race will be the Glass City Marathon coming up, but I am really looking forward to the Yankee Springs full!

Elapsed Time:3:51:58
Avg Pace:6:53 min/mi
Best Pace:4:19 min/mi
Elevation Gain:234 ft
Elevation Loss:586 ft
MinElevation:584 ft
MaxElevation:966 ft
Avg Pace

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