Tag Archives: No Wimps

This is Fun? Damn Right!

A COUPLE OF MILES into last Sunday’s trail marathon, as I wound my way along the Potawatomi Trail, a low roar of excited babble came from across the lake to the right. The guy in front of me glanced in that direction.

“Sounds like the five-milers over there,” he said, referring to the shorter race that took a different path through the woods.

“Yeah,” I replied, “but they’re not having as much fun as we are.”

He agreed. “Got that right!” The morning was sunny and cool, and the Poto was in superb condition. Why settle for a measly five miles when you could run 26.2?

Saturday’s half marathon had been gray and bleak, with the wind off the lake driving most runners to warm places elsewhere for their afterglow. Working Zero Waste afterward, I shivered with the race staff and made liberal use of the heater in the volunteer tent.

No such issues on Sunday, the kind of day you’d want for a marathon, or any kind of run. Despite some fatigue from the half, I had good energy throughout. I finished slower than last year (which I’d run on fresh legs) but as I said, I was having fun.

So what exactly is “fun” about running four-plus hours up and down a trail?

I’m sure every trail runner would answer a bit differently, but “fun” and its synonyms are prevalent in our conversations. When someone says, “I nearly died out there. I couldn’t walk for a week. It was AWESOME,” we nod and make a note to look up that race.

This couple shows the joy on Sunday. (Photo from Frog Prince Studios.)

For me last weekend, enjoyment came with “being present” in the event, where outside thoughts and worries slipped away and my world shrank to the race and the trail. Hard effort, discomfort and pain mixed with runner’s high and feeling of accomplishment. The scary thrill of nearly losing control on steep downhills. Encouraging shouts from volunteers and spectators. Sweat-soaked PB&J and cookies in sticky hands. Exchanges of “Good job!” as I pass and get passed by other runners. A surge of adrenaline cresting the final rise and seeing the finish line, sprinting the final hundred yards, and capping it off with a somersault just for the hell of it.

Cruising along the back half of the loop.

Trail Marathon Weekend remains among my favorite events. I like going to new locations and rarely repeat a trail race, but every year I go to the Poto. It’s local and low-key, with, to me, a “just right” mix of smooth running and difficult climbs and descents. Not overly rocky or rooty either, though there are places that require careful footwork. You can spot them by my face prints in the dirt.

TMW also scratches a particular itch I have to push my limits. You mean I can run both the half on Saturday and the full marathon or 50K on Sunday? And it’s called the “No Wimps” option? You sadists! Where do I sign up? (You can read here about how I graduated to this from the 5-miler.) This year I even ran an “ultra half” which you get by missing a turn and running 14 miles instead of 13.1. (I’m thinking of suggesting this become an official category.)

And the marathon has a special award, the Rogucki Trophy, for the top finisher age 50 and older. Each year the male and female winners get their names and finish times put on the trophy. As the 2017 Rogucki winner, I had a title to defend, which reason would argue for resting on Saturday instead of doing No Wimps. Reason lost. (It usually does with races.)

Nearly as famous as the Stanley Cup!

So did I successfully defend my Rogucki title this year?

My name added for 2017 (bottom left).

Well, no. Two guys in the 50-54 age group smoked me like a pork butt. The winner finished second overall in 3 hours 35 minutes, a time I wasn’t going to touch even with a month of rest and an IV line of espresso. And that’s just fine with me. Frankly, I was stressing a bit too much about it. With the pressure off, I can enjoy that I won it once, and have that much more fun next year.

And, BTW, our Zero Waste effort rocked again, with reduced overall waste and a 97 percent landfill diversion rate. That’s three straight years of winning that no one can take away!

The Sunday morning Zero Waste crew – a gaggle of Girl Scouts. They did great! I’m wearing my marathon and No Wimps medals. Wooden! Very sustainable!

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Trail Marathon Recap: No Wimps, Baby!

“I LOVE TRAIL ULTRAS – except when I’m running them.”

That’s how I described my relationship with long trail runs to someone running with me during Sunday’s 50K. It’s not entirely accurate – I enjoy experiencing being in the moment during one – but I also spend a lot of time fantasizing about it being over. That said, I had a great time at the Trail Marathon Weekend. And I got that No Wimps shirt and medal!

"No Wimps, Baby!"

Someone told me if you complete the No Wimps Challenge, you have to jump into the lake. Funny, nobody joined me. Wimps!

The vignettes below are from Sunday’s 50K. Saturday’s half marathon was fun but uneventful. I ran it easy so I could run strong on Sunday, and it was good prep for the 50K. (Not according to plan was tripping and falling twice, banging up my knee a bit, but I suppose it can’t all be sunshine and roses.)

(Note: See my previous post, if you haven’t already, for some awesome photos of the trail by fellow blogger Detroit Runner.)

What’s He Going to Do for His Second?

Some people start racing with something modest like a 5K, and then there are people like Ben. I met up with him at the halfway point of the second loop, and we got to talking. An experienced hiker (he’ll be hiking to Everest this summer), he thought a trail 50K might be good training.

Ben completes his first race ever - a little weekend trail 50K.

Ben completes his first race ever – a little weekend trail 50K.

“Yes, it probably would be,” I said. “So is this your first ultra?”

“It’s my first race,” he replied. Yes, a 50K was his first running race. Ever

And as a warmup, he’d run 26 miles on the trails on Thursday, so this was his second marathon in four days. He didn’t qualify for a No Wimps medal, but I wouldn’t have argued if he’d gotten one.

Blood and Guts

About four miles into the second 13-mile loop, I got to thinking how some of last year’s 50K finishers had looked like death warmed over, and by contrast, how good I was feeling. Then I passed a spectator. “Is this your third time around?” he asked. I confirmed it was, counting the loop the day before. “You have some blood coming from your right nostril,” he called after me.

I wiped my nose, which had been running more or less continually, and sure enough, there was some blood. Nuts. I slowed down a bit, but kept running – the nearest help was the aid station two miles ahead. But after a few minutes the bleeding stopped and I picked up my pace again. That, plus falling once more (on my right knee again – arrggh) was, fortunately, the extent of my injuries.

Goodness, How Delicious

The Friday before, another volunteer and I worked for over 90 minutes putting together about a hundred peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cutting them into quarters, and packing them in bags for the aid stations on Sunday. “Do we really need to make all these?” I asked one of the Running Fit crew.

“Oh, yes,” I was told. “We ran out last time.”

So I hope I can be forgiven for being annoyed on Sunday when I caught up to someone holding one of the pieces like he wasn’t sure he wanted it. “What’s the matter?” I asked him. He mumbled something about not being sure of its age or origin.

“Hey, I made that sandwich,” I snapped. “So eat it, darn it!”

And he did.

 

A perfect day - if you were running. Otherwise, it was a tad nippy.

A perfect day – if you were running. Otherwise, it was a tad nippy.

You’re Right, I’m Not

Final mile of the 50K, and I’m cruising on adrenaline to the finish line just a few minutes away. I’m passing lots of tired-looking people, and enjoying every minute of it.

“You’re making us look bad,” someone said as I caught up to a small group of struggling runners.

“It’s the final mile,” I said. “Rock it out!”

“Oh, no,” he said. “We’ve got six miles to go.” They hadn’t finished the second 13-mile loop yet.

“Sorry about that,” I replied as I passed.

There was a short silence. Then I heard from behind me: “You’re not sorry!”

I wonder what gave it away.

We’ll Meet Again

As I neared the end of the first 13-mile loop, some runners came up behind me. They sounded fresher, and I expected them to pass me. But at the next climb they dropped back, and I finished the loop ahead of them. “We expected to catch you,” one of them named Matt said at the aid station, “but you never slowed your pace. Nice job.” They then took off on the next loop while I was adjusting my gear, and I figured I’d seen the last of them.

Matt and I battle to the death - or the finish line, whichever comes first.

Matt and I battle to the death – or the finish line, whichever comes first.

18 miles later, with just a quarter mile to go, I passed a couple of runners. “YOU again!” one of them yelled. It was Matt. I’d caught up! “Well, let’s make it a race at least,” he said. It was on! We took off sprinting.

I was ahead as we crossed the final footbridge, but he kicked it in hard and beat me to the finish line. After finishing, we congratulated each other, and he thanked me for inspiring him several times during the race. I assured him it was mutual.

I collected my bling and sealed the deal with a dunk in Silver Lake. As it turned out, I won my age group by over half an hour.

I also saw Ben, wearing his 50K medal and posting “I’m an ultrarunner” on his social media pages. “Best post ever,” he said.

April 28 was Wear Your Medals to Work Day. (Hope you got the note.)

April 28 was Wear Your Medals to Work Day. (Hope you got the note.)