Q & A With Rocky Raccoon 100k Finisher Andrea Moore

Andrea Moore Team Dirt and Vert Rocky Raccoon Tejas Trails

North Texas Team Dirt and Vert member, Andrea Moore, completed the 100k ultra at Rocky Raccoon on February 7-8, 2021

We asked Andrea a few questions about the event and her takeaways.

Congratulations to Andrea and we look forward to seeing you cover many miles leading up to your next ultra.

Tell us all about your 100k race. Was it what you expected?

Yes and no. I didn’t really have expectations going in to RR100k..I didn’t know what I didn’t know and didn’t want to create a race based on unknowns before the race even began. We have no control over unknowns..expectations are not real..they are guesses..fears..and bring anxious thoughts/feelings. With that said, and two 50 milers behind me over the past several months prior to RR100k..I knew it would be work! Next level work! Next level fight and grit! I knew it would be hard! I knew it would hurt! And I thought “so what..it’s going to be hard and it’s going to hurt”..I wanted to KNOW..what’s on the other side of mile 51 (prior PR distance).

What was your longest race distance prior and what made you choose this race?

Prior to RR100k I was a road marathoner, new triathlete, and trail runner in training. With COVID shutting down planned races, the hunt for new challenges became priority. Yeti Trail Runners hosted a 24 HR challenge, which ultimately led to their 50 mile distance challenge..I couldn’t stop thinking about it..gathered up a squad and we nailed it..9 hrs of the hardest thing I’d ever done. The pain was a small price to pay for the family bonds built..the memories made..the struggle we pushed through TOGETHER. So different from road running..ultra and running far became more “meaty and meaningful” than running fast. I wanted more. A month later, first TRAIL 51 miler happened with some of that same squad..supporting a friends first 100 miler. It was incredible..and a new distance PR. I want to “race” a trail 50! “Everyone” was racing Rocky Raccoon in 4 months. Signed up..the 50 miler was a different weekend from when “everyone” was racing. I would have to move up to the 100k if I wanted to be there with framily!! It was more important to be with them..no matter the miles. We changed the registration to 100k and got to work immediately.

How did you train and how did the pandemic impact your training or race preparation?

Training..ummm *laugh* I looked up material online..printed three plans that were 6-8 weeks in length. Found others running the 100 mile distance at RR and ran trails with them on the weekends..lots of 20 milers..50k night runs..vert climbing..and fuel/hydration/gear practice. The trail miles were painful..all new to my road feet/legs/muscles..it usually wasn’t until the following Wednesday I could walk without limping. Despite the pain, I knew I was building something..building trail legs..building new ankle knee hip muscles. It hurt but it was so exciting..getting to the next level. We signed up for local ultras to use as “practice runs”. When Team Dirt and Vert announced their crew would be going down to Huntsville for “on course” training miles..we set out to join and go for a 50k. The conditions were grueling that day..the rain non stop..the water deep and mud destroying our legs..it was brutal but perfect training. Being able to experience the course allowed us to study and better prepare for race day. The pandemic..no impact on my training really. I wasn’t able to swim..a big component of my recovery after long miles but spent more time stretching rolling and walking our standard poodle for recovery! More indoor bike rides on Zwift also helped with this during the week. No gym sessions at the Y..but that was ok..we have weights and bands at home.

In hindsight, what would you have done differently in training or race execution?

For my first 100k I don’t see anything I would do differently..TODAY. I didn’t have time goals, pace charts, mile marks to hit, etc.. It was just go and journey for 62 miles with framily and a bunch of incredible athletes. Let the chips fall where they may. The yearning to get faster is not in my heart right now. FAR is my hearts passion. Honoring that fire, after RR100k I registered for my first 24 hr race and snagged a new distance PR of 64 miles in wicked snow and mud conditions..it was hard and AWESOME! I’m now registered for a 69 mile race in late May and on the waiting list for my first 100 miler in October!

Any advice or words of wisdom for runners considering their first 100k?

Words of wisdom for others considering their first 100k..that’s a tough question. Humans can do anything they want to do..once they decide to!! Let that sink in. Decide what you want..what sets your insides on fire..something you MUST have or do. Make a plan to get it or do it. Work for it. Plan on it. See it. Hear it. Feel it. Dream about it. Breathe it. Give life to it. DO IT. No one can create “the thing”. YOU CREATE IT. That goal..that dream..that experience..YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CREATE IT. Manifest it!! We bring about what we think about..you can create anything!! It’s our ultimate super power..we all have it!! Some tap in to it while others wish for it. It is up to you..DECIDE..and DO.

Now that you’ve completed your first 100k, what’s next for 2021?

5/15 Flower Moon 50 miler (Oklahoma)
5/22 Possums Revenge 69 miler
10/9 Indians Trail 100 – wait list
Someday Moab 240

Q & A With Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Finisher Erik Kennemer

Erik Kennemer Rocky Raccoon 100 2021 Race Report Team Dirt and Vert

One of the inaugural North Texas Team Dirt and Vert members completed his first 100 mile ultra at Rocky Raccoon on February 7-8, 2021

We asked Erik a few questions about the event and his takeaways.

Congratulations to Erik and we look forward to seeing you cover many miles leading up to your next ultra.

Tell us all about your first 100M race. Was it what you expected?

I lucked out with excellent weather, perfect trail conditions and pacers that were beyond seasoned and skilled. I knew going in that it would start out as a running love fest and devolve into misery, nailed that prediction.. The first loop I probably went out a bit too fast and couldn’t shut up, wanted to chat with everybody… THAT eventually ceased to be the case..Waves of emotion would ease over me out of nowhere and then subside, I’d like to avoid the rollercoaster analogy but… What I didn’t expect is that I felt relatively mentally alert the entire time, I had expected to be out of my head towards the end.

What was your longest race distance prior and what made you choose this race?

Crazy Desert 100k was my longest race prior to Rocky which I ran last March. Rocky has had a special place in my heart for a long time, I paced a good buddy “guess who” there 9 years ago at his first 100 miler and have returned to crew for another good buddy “guess who” a number of times. I had no doubts where I wanted to earn my first big buckle.

How did you train and how did the pandemic impact your training or race preparation?

I try to “stay ready to get ready” year round but started training in earnest 16 weeks out. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by strong knowledgeable runners that I can turn to for advice and guidance, no reaching out to the faceless Twitterverse here. Early in the training I maintained what some would consider conservation mileage 40-45 a week and towards the end ramped up to 60-65 mile weeks averaging 30 miles during the week with one day focused on hill work and back to back long trail runs on the weekends. The monotony of my weekday solo runs really made me appreciate the company of my Dirt and Vert brethren on the weekends as well as an occasional after work jaunt at one of their organized runs. The PANDI honestly didn’t effect my training much, I run super early during the week and would run with the same small and trusted circle on the weekends.. Mainly it just gave me anxiety about race cancellation.

In hindsight, what would you have done differently in training or race execution?

My race went really well and I’m honestly pleased with the quality of work I put in. I’ve crossed a lot of finish lines but there are few races that I feel I did well and honestly this was my best effort. I asked for advice from those with experience, I listened, implemented and was consistent. I’m chaos incarnate and thesis NOT typical for me. Execution wise I was uncharacteristically organized leading up to it and stuck to my plan regarding not burning time at aid stations and the start finish each time. I probably should have grazed a little more when I did pass through just to break up the monotony of eating the same thing mile after mile after mile. Towards the end I just didn’t want to eat and I’m sure I was low on calories.

Any advice or words of wisdom for runners considering their first 100M?

My advice to anyone considering tackling a hundred would be to seek the sage council of those who are experienced and be consistent in your training. Listen to your body, adjust activities as needed and know that rest and recovery are extremely important. During the race if something is irritating / bothering you, make adjustments immediately.. That rock in your shoe or the hotspot on you naughty bits isn’t going to fix itself. Lastly, don’t go in it thinking you can just “wing it”…

Now that you’ve completed your first 100M, what’s next for 2021.

I haven’t picked the “next” yet, for now I’m just enjoying running because I want to and looking forward to cycling season but I KNOW there will be next… I’m of course going to throw my hat in the ring for that loooooong shot chance for a Western States slot which because it scares the hell out of me it could actually happen…. Plus I hear it would drive a certain someone absolutely INSANE “guess who” if I got in with my first ticket.

Q & A With Dino Valley 100k Finisher Zach Dane

Zach Dane Team Dirt and Vert Dino Valley 100k Texas

One of the North Texas Team Dirt and Vert members completed his first 100km ultra at Dinosaur Valley on November 21-22, 2020.

We asked Zach a few questions about the event and his takeaways.

Congratulations to Zach and we look forward to seeing you cover many miles leading up to your next ultra.

 

1. The Dino Valley 100k definitely was tougher than I had anticipated! Being who I am I went out way quicker than I should have, it’s a 6 loop course with each loop being about 10.1 miles so that first loop was fast. After that I felt ok but around mile 30 it had warmed up a lot more than we all thought it would so dehydrating started to kick my butt. Basically I had lost all my nutrition that I had put into my body halfway into a 62 mile race! I powered through It though and took the next couple of loops as easy as I could.

2. My longest race distance prior to the DV 100k was the cross timbers trail marathon back in February of 2019. The reason I chose DV 100k is it was just after my cross country season had ended so I knew I would have time to recover, and I had some friends that already signed up as well.

3. Coming off of cross country season I had the speed but I didn’t have aerobic base needed for a 100k so my training mainly consisted of a couple longer runs but in reality I didn’t have that much time. My preparation was more of a mental preparation I knew if I wanted to cross the finish line it would be a battle between my ears. Covid didn’t necessarily interfere with much other than the stair master at the gym being taken once and a while.

4. Looking back on the race now I would have not ran a race so close to cross country season! I would have given myself time to recover from XC then start a newer training block building off my speed and endurance.

5. Well now that I’ve completed my first 100k I’ve planned out some stuff for the summer of 2021. One of my friends Briston Rains and I are going out to either Utah or Colorado in June to either run the Bears Ears 50k or the North Fork 50k. After that in July I’ve signed up for a brutal race put on by Karl Meltzer its called the Speedgoat 50k in Snowbird Utah. This is the race I have my eyes on considering its a high profile race and very competitive. So I’m beginning some training right now building my aerobic base and I’m going to tackle the speedgoat 50k course pretty hard. For the June races they are to get my body prepared for the mountains and elevation of Utah. Im shooting for a top 5 finish at Speedgoat.

Tejas Trails Bandera 100k Race Report – Jen Kirkpatrick

Tejas Trails Bandera 100k Race Report Team Dirt and Vert Jennifer Kirkpatrick

Most of all, the ultra distance leaves you alone with your thoughts to an excrutiating extent. Whatever song you have in your head had better be a good one. Whatever story you are telling yourself had better be a story about going on. There is no room for negativity. The reason most people quit has nothing to do with their body” ~Scott Jurek

I’ll let you in on a little secret: leading up to Bandera, I didn’t completely trust my training. My lack of trust had absolutely nothing to do with the plan that my coach had laid out for me. My lack of trust rested solely on ME, and it had become a raging fire, fueled from the guilt and regret of missing workouts. Yes, I managed to get the majority of my workouts in, but I did miss some strength and mobility and I did miss some mid-week runs. I felt like a complete and total failure. I felt that I had let myself down, my coach down and my team down. Plus, it was just scary to race after a year of nothing. Did I still have a competitive spirit? Could I still run that far? It’s just crazy where the mind will go if you let it.

A lot of people dread taper, but I don’t. There’s a point during the week when the nerves melt away and I am forced to accept the reality that what is to come is what is to come. I cease to fret about performance or pain or fatigue or results. Taper is when you have reached the point of no turning back. In other words, you no longer have the time to train in order to change the outcome. Or, you have no more time in which to screw it up. I find an eerie comfort in that. Taper week, for me, is accepting my fate then tying up loose mental ends so that I can race in the best mental shape.

Going into the race, I had a few goals:

  • Complete the race in 15 hours (Greg thought I could run in 14:30 – I thought he was insane)
  • First and second loop splits with no more than an hour difference. (Also thought that I would not be able to pull this off.)
  • Remember that racing is a celebration, not a test
  • RACE, not run

Due to COVID protocols (Tejas Trails did an EXCELLENT job, by the way!), the race started in a wave format. I was in first wave, which was 6:30-7:00AM. The wave start is awesome, becuase there is no pressure to arrive at a fixed moment in time. We were heading to the start and I decided that I wanted to change shorts, so I went back and changed shorts! That level of chill could never have happened in a mass race start. I started around 6:42AM. The weather was PERFECT! It was in the 30s but there was virtually no wind and not a cloud in the sky. The forecast was upper 50s, cloudy in the afternoon and low 40s that night. It just doesn’t get any better! Most of the first wave had started at 6:30, so I was by myself, except for a few people that I caught and passed early on. The wave start worked really well for me because I didn’t get caught up in what everyone else was running and I could focus on maintaining the level of effort that I wanted. When the faster runners in the group behind me started catching up, it wasn’t that mental blow that you sometimes get because I knew those people would have been far ahead of me if we had all started together. Plus, if I had 30 minutes on them and they caught me – it’s not like burning matches to keep them from passing would have done any good….because they already made up 30 minutes on me! I did miss trying to chase down women to better my position, though. Chasing people can be fun. Tejas Trails Bandera 100k Race Report Team Dirt and Vert Jennifer Kirkpatrick

Everything was clicking along really well, until I got to the Lollipop. I ended up somehow getting a cactus needle jammed through my shoe into my second left toe. I tried to pull it out of my shoe, but needed tweezers. I wasn’t about to waste time pulling off my shoe for one stupid cactus needle, so I carried on and decided that if the poking became unbearable, I would address it at that point. Around this same point, I started feeling a sharp pain in my left ankle. Just one mile prior, I had been thinking about how much stronger my ankles were compared to the last time I ran in the Hill Country. Wow. What in the world could have happened? I realized fairly quickly that the pain in my ankle started at exactly the same time as the cactus needle in my toe, but it seemed unlikely that would have caused the issue. Again, I decided not to think about it until I needed to think about it. Even then I was resolved to keep moving, however that might look. Luckily, I only felt it off and on for the next 5 miles or so, then nothing! (By the way, it ended up being a large cactus needle stuck in my ankle. I suspect that it punctured a vein, which caused the pain and the large bruise afterward.)

Bobby had come to crew and Baha to pace. They went for breakfast after the start, then met me at Equestrian, which was the second aid station. I shed my long sleeve shirt and headlamp, traded water bottles and was off again. My goal was to trade water bottles at most aid stations, restocking food at Nachos (mid-point of the loop) and start/finish. Efficiency was a must, especially during the first loop. I made it to Nachos quickly and easily enough and restocked nutrition pretty quickly. I knew I was ahead of the pace chart I had prepared, but couldn’t tell exactly because I refused to take the time to pull the pace chart out of the pouch out in my belt. Since I wasn’t exactly sure how the wave start was going to work, I had based the whole thing on a 7AM start, so I had to account for that 18 minutes as well. Run math….smh.

When I made it to Chapas, I was feeling good, but a little tired. Having the Big Ass Runner crew cheer for me as I ran through the barn gave me a nice shot of adrenaline so I had some energy going into the flatter, more runnable section of the course. This is where faith in your training pays off. Even though I didn’t have a lot of faith in ME for the overall race, I knew that I could get through these runnable sections. Greg structured my training around keeping my leg turnover for those flatter areas and I knew I was prepared for it. I made it to YaYa, tired, but still moving. Bobby and Baha didn’t make that aid because they had gone to grab lunch, but all I needed was water anyway. Now it was just a few miles to the start/finish where I would be half way done AND would pick Baha up to pace. I rolled into the start finish with a first loop time of 6:27, which was about 30 minutes faster than I had planned for the first loop!

It seemed like I spent A LOT of time at the start/finish before heading out on the loop, but the difference in Baha’s Strava for the loop and my chip time for the loop was only 6 minutes. If that’s the case, I’m really happy with that. Baha’s friend, Brian, started the loop with us and stayed with us until we arrived at Boyles. He certainly kept the conversation going! I needed Coke, so we stopped. Gah, I hate to waste time at aid stations but I was in a low spot. I told Baha that I was tired. I would have been happy to lay on that rocky ground and take a nap! No time for napping in a race, though, so off we went again. Stopping for Coke was a good decision because I did get an energy boost. Sometimes taking a little bit of time now of time pays big dividends later. I was feeling pretty good at this point, but had been doing run math in my head. (I realize how dangerous it is for me to attempt run math while running, but I threw caution to the wind and did it anyway.) If I was right and we could maintain just under a 15 minute average pace, it seemed like a 14 hour finish was possible. I asked Baha if I was correct in my thinking and he agreed that it was completely within reach. I told him that it would be pretty sweet if we could come in at 13:58 or 13:59. 13 just sounds better than 14, right?? That’s all I had to say – from then on, he had a new goal for me….sub-14.

Bobby was ready and waiting for us at Equestrian. This stop took longer than it should have….I feel this may become a theme. I had planned to arrive here at 4:30, which would have been just an hour prior to the sun setting, so I had also planned to put on a long sleeve, vest, headlamp and gloves. It was still “warm”, so I only put on the long sleeve and headlamp, stuffed the gloves in my belt and grabbed more nutrition. At this point in the race, I only had 22 miles left. So short, yet so far. I had fueled well in the first part of the race, but that stuff gets hard to stomach. I transitioned to getting most of my calories at aid stops through Tailwind Rebuild and Coke – which was my plan from the beginning. I’m going to keep doing it in all my races until it doesn’t work anymore! LOL!!Tejas Trails Bandera 100k Race Report Team Dirt and Vert Jennifer Kirkpatrick XOSkin

Heading out after what seemed an eternity, the miles started clicking away and it really didn’t seem to take us a long time to get to Nachos, even though it was 7 miles. In my mind this stop went really well – Baha might beg to differ. Baha stopped to use the port-o-potty and I downed my Coke and Tailwind and was waiting on him when he was done. Thats a win, right?? In my pace chart, I had anticipated making it Nachos around 6:15PM, which would have been close to the time that headlamps needed to be turned on. We rolled into Nachos at 5:15PM! Now the immediate goal in my head became making it to Chapas before turning on my headlamp. Of course, this was a very arbitrary goal, but sometimes all you need are a few mind games to keep you motivated in those last miles.

We rolled into Chapas at 6:22PM. At this point, I was sliding down into another low and I had difficulty getting all that shit down my throat fast enough for Baha’s liking. I haven’t a clue how long we were there, but regardless, it was too long! While we were there, Bobby said to me for the first time: “just run faster”. I thought, “Dear God, he has spent WAY too much time around Baha!” But he went on to say that we were gaining about 5 minutes between each aid station and that “all I had to do” was keep that up to come in at 14 hours! LOL!! Of course! No problem whatsoever! I finally got my ass up off we went. But a few steps later, we were running through the barn and saw the Big Ass Runners AGAIN!!! I can’t even begin to express what a pick-me-up that was! I was a little sidetracked by all the fanfare and Baha practiaclly had to shove me out the barn door to get moving again. We might have been 100-200 yards down the trail, which, by the way, was some of the smoothest and flattest this course had to offer, AND I TRIPPED AND FELL. (We all knew it had to happen!) I’ve never hopped up so quickly because we had NO time to waste and of even more importance: I only had ONE aid station in between me and that finish line!

This section went pretty well besides me being dog-ass tired. But we made it at least a mile or two in before headlamps were needed, and that excited me. My body was tired but my brain was still in it. I still hadn’t pulled that pace chart out of my pouch and was going off memory. Anyone who knows the brain fog of an ultra knows how stupid that was. I thought YaYa was 5 miles from Chapas at 57 miles, but it was actually almost 6 miles from Chapas at a hair over 58. I kept thinking we had to almost be there, but we never seemed to get there! More exhausted by the minute, I refused to give into the fatigue. I couldn’t let myself down. I couldn’t let Baha down. I couldn’t let Bobby down. I couldn’t let Greg down. Baha kept encouraging me by saying that all he wanted was for me to give myself a chance – a chance to meet this goal that I didn’t know was within my reach until this day. I didn’t fully believe in my mind that we could make it. We had this big climb at the end and by my superior run math calculations, I thought we were going to roll into the finish between 14:15 – 14:30. But Greg’s training had prepared me for this very section and this was where we HAD to bank time, if we were to make it. We blazed through that section, even if it did seem like an eternity.

We made it to YaYa at 7:40. With less than 5 miles to go, there was no reason to load up on calories. Plus, yuck. I drank some Coke, put my head on Bobby’s shoulder for 5 seconds (yes, Baha counted) and we were headed to the finish, baby!!!

I thought the distance between YaYa and the finish was 5ish miles, but it was actually 4. (Why did I carry that chart??) I really needed to go to the bathroom. And I really tried to pee while I was running. And I really didn’t want to admit to Baha that I needed to stop. Eventually, Mother Nature won the battle and I had to stop. Baha continued telling me that we were right there, but I still thought we were tracking a 14:15 finish. Suddenly, we were making our way up that gnarly climb and descent that was at the end….how were we already here?? We made our way through that – cautiously, because steep, rocky descents are my Achille’s Heel – and finally, the home stretch! My watch rolled over to 14:00 and I thought that we had a mile or so left to run. Well, guess what? We didn’t. We were literally THERE! We crossed the line at 14:02. Tejas Trails Bandera 100k Race Report Team Dirt and Vert Jennifer Kirkpatrick Jason Bahamundi

I am really proud of this effort. I wasn’t sure what to expect, not having raced a 100k before. I feel like my pacing was pretty even. My second loop was just a hair over an hour longer, and I’m really proud of that. A lot of that is due to race management by Bobby and Baha not letting me linger longer than needed. A lot of it is knowing that you have to keep moving and the knowledge that not walking is slower than walking and that walking is slower than the ultra shuffle. For me, it’s also important to know when to hike. There were several inclines I was able to run, but at some point the energy expenditure outweighs the benefits of attempting to run up something and hiking actually becomes faster. The catch is: you have to run again as soon as you are at the top. That becomes a mind over matter thing when you’re tired. Tejas Trails Bandera 100k Race Report Team Dirt and Vert Jennifer Kirkpatrick

I can’t begin to express my gratitude to Bobby, for coming to the race and crewing for me. Having loved ones at aid stations is such a pick me up. Knowing they will be there gives you the will to keep moving through the rough spots so that you can see them sooner, rather than later. And I can’t express my gratitude to Baha for believing in me and getting me there. I cherish the memories that we have made on these adventures! And finally, thank you to Greg, for preparing me to tackle this course and helping me navigate the rough patches during training.

More adventures await, but for now, I’m going to rest and relax a couple of days and play Taps for my two big toenails. Guess I kicked one too many rocks out there….

Q & A With First-Time 100 Mile Finisher Sue Luck

Sue Luck Dinosaur Valley 100

One of the North Texas Team Dirt and Vert members completed her first 100 mile ultra at Dinosaur Valley on November 21-22, 2020.

We asked her a few questions about the event and her takeaways.

Congratulations to Sue and we look forward to seeing you cover many miles leading up to your next 100 mile race.

1- Tell us all about your first 100M race. Was it what you expected?

It was the toughest race I had ever done. I expected this going into the race that it was going to be hard mentally and physically. I am glad I did it because it challenged me mentally more than anything else.

2- What was your longest race distance prior to DV and what made you choose this race?

The longest race I had ever done prior to this race was the Spartan Ultra which is a 50K and 70 obstacles. I choose this race because my good friend Jackie had reached out to me mentioning that this 100 miler race had a huge discount code for signing up.

3- How did the pandemic impact your training or race preparation?

The pandemic was actually a blessing for me in training for the race. It gave me a positive goal to look forward to and to stay active. Since the lock down in March 2020 I was able to work from home so I had more time dedicated to my training all summer long leading up to the race. Some days I ran early in the mornings or right after work. I devoted more time researching and testing out my gear to prepare for the race.

4- In hindsight, what would you have done differently in training or race execution?

If I can change one thing in my training is to speed walk more. I mostly ran nonstop in my training schedule. In hindsight I ended up walking most of the night. The major thing I would do differently is consume more food and calories during the race and hit up the aid stations more.  I bonked on a couple of the loops due to not eating enough food.

5- Now that you’ve completed your first 100M, what’s next?

I would like to run more trail races in 2021. I plan on doing this race again. The race director and volunteers were very supportive. They did an amazing job organizing this event! I love supporting local races.

Sue Luck Dinosaur Valley 100

Trinty Trail Out and Back FKT – Race Report

Trinity Trail FKT Lake Lavon Jason Bahamundi

On Friday, November 27th I laced up my shoes and went after the Trinity Trail Out and Back FKT. The decision to go after this record was made on Wednesday, November 25th in the evening after seeing that I had a good week of recovery and feeling emboldened by the FKT attempts of Greg and Jen. I was inspired by their efforts to push themselves when there was no reason to and with nearly 9 months of no racing, that itch had to be scratched.

Earlier this year, when Lake Sonoma was cancelled and then Bryce Canyon followed in the cancellation line, I noticed that there were a lot of people going after FKTs. I saw Billy Yang follow Amanda Basham on her 22-Mile Kalalau Trail/Na Pali Coast FKT attempt and that was the first time I wondered about an FKT attempt. The pandemic allowed for those thoughts to marinate as we entered into a steady state of base building. With no races in sight, I wanted to get that race day feeling. The Trinity Trail Out and Back FKT attempt would provide that.

On Wednesday, I wrote down the items that I would need for an 8 hour run. On Thursday, after the Turkey Day Run with Team Dirt and Vert at Erwin Park, I went home and started to assemble all of the items I had written down. It truly felt like the day before a race as I was going up and down stairs, into the garage, counting gels and calculating liquid amounts. Figuring out where the ‘aid stations’ would be and what I would need to get me from Point A to B and back again. I had nervous excitement, but that race day vibe was certainly there.

When the alarm went off, I most certainly felt that race day vibe. I had a couple of cups of coffee and an Rbar before gathering up all my bags and loading them into the car. The pre-race bathroom stops and feeling in my gut that I had to use the restroom were certainly there. Stopping for gas and feeling the excitement grew. Once at the start, I got nervous because I didn’t want to screw anything up with having the run being certified by FastestKnownTime.com.

A couple of email exchanges with Greg and Jen settled me down and got me focused for what lay ahead.

My goal time for this attempt was 8 hours. I had gone into Garmin Connect to create a pace strategy with that finish time and a positive split knowing that I’d have heavy legs toward the end. Greg had provided me with some insight into where the water stops are and how to remember where the trail started back after the loops were completed. Jen helped immediately by telling me that the trail went left once you stepped over the crossing gate and not straight as it would seem.

It was time to go. Pressed start on my watch and started running. This trail is not technical in any way. It is a horse trail and there is a lot of dead grass covering the trail with little to no rocks and or roots. In the first few miles I kept checking my watch because I was so nervous about going off the trail, but despite that my paces were well ahead of the 10:00/mi goal I had set for myself. Knowing this helped when I reached mile 3 and got turned around a handful of times. I don’t know that I’ve been more nervous about being lost than I was right then and there. The trail goes straight but the stepped on grass sweeps left and I just blindly followed that left turn until my watch was beeping that I was off course. Back tracked, didn’t see anything, went back, then back again and finally found the trail. OK, let’s get going.

I stayed around the 9:00/mi mark until I reached Brockdale and then the nerves kicked in again. I couldn’t find the water and was wandering around for what felt like 30 minutes. I had also noticed that my watch said 9.86 miles and Greg told me that the water was at mile 9.5. Did I miss it? I turned around and saw the spigot and filled up my bottles. I flipped through my watch faces and stopped on the one that showed me my remaining time to hit 8 hours, how far I’d gone and my ETA back at the finish. It was at this point that it said 2:03pm. A full 57 minutes ahead of my goal and 42 minutes faster than the ETA I saw when I got lost at mile 3. This is when I start asking myself: are you going to hard? Do you need to conserve energy? My response to myself: All Gas, No Brakes. Your legs will stop working when they stop working. Make this FKT attempt hard for the next person to go after.

One thing about the 5 mile stretch from Collin to Brockdale is that it was tacky enough to have mud stick to your shoes and then have the hay stick to the mud and create bird’s nests on your feet. Your 8 oz shoe would now weigh 3 lbs. The moment you kicked it off, you’d be right back in the mud. I reverted back to Rocky Raccoon in 2019 and how muddy  that was and that I took the mindset of running right through it and figuring it out later. In my mind, I knew that the return would be hard because my legs would have 30 plus miles on them by then.

The remainder of the run was fairly boring and I was just looking forward to the Mile 16.5 ‘aid’ station where I would fill up and make a run to the loop and be on the way back. When I reached the water spigot I noticed that I was still ticking of sub-10:00/mi paces and that would set me up for a return back that if the wheels came off the bus would still put me in the vicinity of setting the FKT. Once I left the water stop, I ran the 3 miles to the start of the loop and felt good. The loop had some cold water crossings that woke me up and gave me some life as I could feel the tiredness of the early wake up call start to set in.

After clearing the first two loops, I grabbed my nutrition that I had set out as markers to remember where to go back into the trail. This was an idea that Greg had given me a few days before. It worked perfectly and it was time to head back. I had seen text messages from Karen/Michelle/Erik about the pace I was setting and where I was on the course. There was also a text from Jen that I was kicking ass.

The back portion was not a big deal until I had 13.1 miles to go. How did I know it was exactly 13.1 miles to go? That is exactly when I saw Sam the Bull Mastiff with his owners and I had yelled that I was running up from behind them. Sam had drool coming down his face and he was off leash. This gave me some worries but Sam turned out to be a lovable dog. He ran next to me and when his owner called him he left, and then a few moments later he came back and ran a bit with me before leaving  again.

After leaving Sam, there was nothing exciting going on and then it happened. I stepped wrong and twisted my ankle. I audibly yelled: FUCK. FUCK man, not now. I hobbled for a bit and within 0.5 miles the pain was no longer there. Soon enough I was back at Brockdale filling my water. I looked at my phone and saw a text from Greg that said: Killing It and one from Jen that said: Fucking beast! Home stretch. 9.5 to go.  It was those words that played over and over in my head as the next 5 miles were the worst of the entire run. I normally have a mantra of Stubborn Mule playing in my head. It was something that Goat used to call me and it means so much. This time I started telling myself:

Embrace the suffering and every step from here to the finish is going to be comfortable and you can do this.

The mud that I scooted through on the way out now felt heavier and wetter and downright awful. I spent a lot of time kicking the mud off so that I could try to run but it just repeated itself over and over and over. When I got out of the 5 mile stretch and into Collin Park, I took the time to knock the dirt and mud off my shoes because I wanted to give these last 5 miles everything I had. the home stretch wasn’t hard other than having tired legs and being dehydrated. It was in this stretch that I had started laughing at myself because when I was so ahead of the 8 hour pace I thought I may break Greg’s record by 2 hours. Once the legs got tired then I had looked at breaking it by 1.5 hours. At this point, any time faster than Greg’s would be welcomed. I just wanted this to be finished.

When I went through the last pasture and back onto the trail, I knew I was home and would be setting the FKT and be ahead of 8 hours. I ran the last stretch without stopping and after I stepped over the cattle guard and walked a few steps I hit the stop button on my watch and it flashed 7h40m32s. I was elated, exhausted and emotional. Almost immediately my phone rang and it was Karen. I told her that we did it and she told me how proud she was of my effort and just like after every other race that holds meaning: I cried. The emotion just poured out of me. I didn’t expect that to happen but it told me that I gave everything I had and didn’t hold anything back.

A bunch of text message exchanges with Jen and Greg and tears streaming down my face told me everything I needed to know about the support community I have as well as the effort I put out there. I know that this FKT will not stand forever but I hope that I set a time that will make the next person think about whether or not they want to go for it and if they decided to that they are going to have to give it 100% for the entire 43.7 miles and not take a single step off the gas.

Q & A With First-Time 100 Mile Finisher Tiago Camilo

Tiago Camilo Dinosaur Valley 100 Mile Finisher ActiveJoe Racing

One of the North Texas Team Dirt and Vert members completed his first 100 mile ultra at Dinosaur Valley on November 21-22, 2020.

We asked him a few questions about the event and his takeaways.

Congratulations to Tiago and we look forward to seeing you cover many miles leading up to your next 100 mile race.

 

1. Tell us all about your first 100M race. Was it what you expected?

No and big no! I imagined my first 100M to be the perfect experience, with a crew, a pacer and mountains, a lot of mountains, that is what I love. In the begging of the year I was aligned to participate in Silverheels 100, which could provide me such experience, but due to covid restrictions I just did not believe that the races was happening and the motivation to train just drop 100%, therefore pushing me off the race. At the same time I also saw Dinosaur Valley at a very competitive price, this was in January and jump to it as well. Similar to Silverheels, my understanding was that this race was algo going to be re-schedule or canceled… to my surprise it wasn’t.
The time was approaching and the lack of motivation to actually train was still present. 2 days to the race day I convince my wife that I was going to run a trail race… the idea was that I was going there to train and enjoy the race, not really sure how long I was going through, 2 to 5 hours max, but deep inside I was aiming for 30 to 40Miles. One day to race day, I finally read the race guide.. and learned that there was not going to be water on course, and for some reason I felt that 10Miles loops were going to be easy and therefore, I would no need to have drop bags as well.. crazy decision..
I start slowly and building my pace along the race, after the first afternoon heat wave, everything was great, and slowly I start to convince my self that I was able to actually finish it, even for a crazy old guy with no training 😊

2. What was your longest race distance prior to DV and what made you choose this race?

The longest race I did at the time was Cross Timber 50 Miles, but for that one I really trained 😊

3. How did the pandemic impact your training or race preparation?

What preparation? That was the issue, there was no preparation, just regular running on Sundays Struggles with Gracie and some minor weekdays runs, I just did not believe the race was still on.

4. In hindsight, what would you have done differently in training or race execution?

Actually train for a 100Miles, more time on top of my legs. Read course guide with 1 month in advance. The race started slow, since I was still trying to understand what I was doing. On the 3rd lap the heat, lack of water and calories, close throwed me out of the race. I was ready to give back my ship, when the race crew pull me over and forced me to eat. So first lesson, was you need to prepare this in advance.. bring enough water and calories with you… I waited for the cold of the night, and everything changed, I was able to run and enjoy running under the moon. I even end up with a negative split at 50M.

5. Now that you’ve completed your first 100M, what’s next?

Aim for my elected 100M race, the SilverHeels 100M and 2022 try to aim for Moab240
Tiago Camilo Dinosaur Valley 100 Mile Finisher ActiveJoe Racing

Meandering…Purposely Toward The Finish Line Vol 4

Cocodona 250 Arizona 2021 Race Across The Desert

It’s been two weeks and last week alone felt like a month so it may be almost 6 weeks since my last blog post about training for Cocodona 250? It’s hard to keep track these days, especially with everything going on outside of the ultra / trail world. I hope this blog post helps you get away from the anxiety and stress of COVID and the Presidential election and aftermath.

If you want to get caught up then you can click the links for Volumes 1, 2, 3

Let’s Get Into What Has Transpired In The Last Two Weeks

I had another idea of what I was going to write in this space but then I received an interview request that was asking about setting goals. A day after that I listened to The Trail Life podcast Episode 8 and the conversation was about goals and going after them. Finally, while listening to the podcast The Social Run Episode 31, I knew that I wanted to tell the world my goal for Cocodona 250.

Let me preface this by saying that I had an idea, a few months ago, about this goal and shared it with Greg and Jen. I laughed at myself, so they didn’t have to, because it just seemed so absurd. Without knowing anything about the course or about training for this event, the goal was just kinda slapped onto a text message.

Here is the thing about me and goals. Once I’ve established it in my mind then I can’t let it go. It just sits there and gnaws at me as I train, as I sleep, as I eat and even as I execute on race day. I’m not afraid of going after what some would deem as ridiculous when it comes to goals because failure is not the end. For me, failure is the beginning of the process to getting to that goal. If I succeed on the first try, then the goal was too easy and I will need to go back after it.

Here are some examples of me setting goals and where I’ve fallen on them:

  • Going under 20 hours at Rocky Raccoon in my first attempt on that course in 2015. Finish Time: 19:22
  • Going under 19 hours at Rocky Raccoon in each attempt since then:
    • 2016: 20:23:32
    • 2017: 19:11:36
    • 2018: 19:21:30
    • 2019: 21:59:00
  • Going under 11 hours at an Ironman after an 11:00:50 at Ironman Chattanooga in 2014. Results of each attempt since then:
    • 2015: Ironman Florida – 11:27:26 (First Sub-4 Hour Ironman Marathon)
    • 2016: Ironman Louisville – 11:22::12
    • 2017: Ironman Maryland – 11:35:27
    • 2018: Ironman Chattanooga – 10:31:00 (No Swim and probably would have been near 11:30)
    • 2019: Ironman Wisconsin – DNF
  • Western States 2019 Goal: Sub-24. Actual Time: 26:36:53
  • Black Canyon 100k 2020 Goal: Sub-12. Actual Time: 11:57:27

Putting myself out there isn’t new, failing isn’t new, and these just out of reach goals allow me to be a better athlete during training and especially during racing as I chase those numbers.

With that being said, I updated my Training Peaks account with Cocodona 250 as a race and with a goal. What’s that goal? 80 Hours.

My original text message to Greg and Jen said that I think we can finish this in 72 hours. 100 miles in 24 hours + 4 hour nap + 100 miles in 28 hours + 4 hour nap + 50 miles in 12 hours = 72 Hours. After seeing the winning finishing times at Moab of 61 and 63 hours I decided to check on the elevation profiles of each. Cocodona has about 10,000 more feet of climbing than Moab and is 10 miles longer so I pushed my 72 hours to 80 hours. Can this happen? No Fucking Clue, but you can put every dollar you own on the fact that I’ll go #AllGas #NoBrakes chasing that time during the event.

Cocodona 250 Jason Bahamundi Goals

Now That We Know Your Goal, What Has Training Looked Like?

The first official week went very well. As you can see from the image below, I was spot on when it comes to time spent training as well as hitting the TSS score I had planned. The combination of bike work, hill repeats, trail running, speed work and swimming was awesome. I will add in that I also took naps on Saturday and Sunday which helped facilitate my recovery for this upcoming week.

The upcoming week looks very similar in terms of the plan, but I am adding in a weight vest hike post bike ride as well as bringing back the Man-Maker. This workout is a beast and when you are done, the idea of curling up in a ball and crying then napping is welcomed!!!

Training Peaks Jason Bahamundi Weekly Training Plan for Cocodona 250

Conclusion

Last week I was able to solidify the team that will help me across the finish line (or at least not die!) and that has been a huge relief. These last two weeks have given me the opportunity to set a goal and develop the plan that is going to get me there. With November 1/3rd over, I can say that I feel like I am in a good spot. Our Team Dirt and Crew will be heading to Huntsville State Park for some Rocky Raccoon training, and there is another opportunity (in a couple of weeks) for me to test fitness and gauge how the plan is progressing.

I am also starting to get more serious about registering and booking accommodations for races in early 2021 as a setup for Cocodona.

So, until the next time I post……Thank you for reading and please do not hesitate to ask me questions because they will help me formulate my plan.

Happy Trail Running….Find Your Dirt and Your Vert

Meandering…Purposely Toward The Finish Line Vol 3

Cocodona 250 Aravaipa Running Heart of Arizona Footrace

Two weeks or so ago, I posted Volume 2 of Meandering…Purposely Toward The Finish Line and a few things have happened in those two weeks that it felt like the right time to post Volume 3.  Before you get started on Volume 3, and want to read Volume 1 and 2, click the link and then come back. For those of you that are just finding this blog series, the backstory is that Greg and I are running/racing Cocodona 250 in May of 2021 and this is a way to track my progress toward that finish line.

Thanks For The Links To Vol 1 & 2, Now Give Me New Info

Crew Chief and Pacers Are Starting To Line Up

Crew Chief – Maria Simone of No Limits Endurance Coaching

Maria will be my crew chief for this race and we have a long history together. Maria and I go back to 2012 when she coached me for my third Ironman at Ironman Texas in 2013. Since those days, Maria has remained a great friend of mine and somebody that I always look to for inspiration, laughter, motivation and insight. The reason that I had Maria as my number 1 draft prospect for this event is her experience at Tahoe 200 and how invaluable it will be to me during the lead up and in the moment of the event. I was also sold on our ability to work together in the toughest of times when I paced her at Rocky Raccoon earlier in 2020. We spent nearly 7 hours on the trail that night and we laughed the entire time. When things get tough, and they will, you will want to have people around you that will cheer you up but also smack you into reality and get you going again. Maria will be that person for me.

Pacer / Crew – Ashley Durstine

You may have seen Ashley’s name pop up in association with Team Dirt and Vert on this site as well as on social media. Ashley is our Group Lead in Phoenix Arizona and will be leading runs out there on Wednesday and Saturday. I was following Ashley on Instagram and all of her photos are of the White Tank Mountains or of Skyline Regional Park and they are always just so gorgeous. Over time, I’ve seen her ability to run and climb in the type of terrain that Cocodona will be run on and it just made sense for me to ask her to be a part of this adventure. Having somebody with experience and understanding of where I’ll be running will prove to be invaluable.

Pacer / Crew – Courtney Schwartz

If you can have somebody who lives in Idaho and has an ultra-running resume like she does, why wouldn’t you ask her to be a part of your team? Courtney lives in the mountains and runs up and down them (with her good dog Rush!!) and has an immense amount of experience that I will lean on during race week. Her knowledge of wind and different types of weather at the top of a mountain versus in the canyon will be helpful and her joy will be welcome when the moment comes, and it will come, when I am overly tired, overly hungry, snarky and just ready to tell everybody to fuck right on off.

Pacer / Crew – Michelle ‘Drum’ Blackard

Where do I begin? I met Michelle back in 2012 when we trained together for Ironman Arizona. 2 years later we trained for and raced Ironman Chattanooga. From those days in 2012 to now I have always looked to Michelle for inspiration and motivation as she goes from Ironman to Ultra Trail Runner to Mountain Biker. She moves through these sports with grace and with a passion for success. Michelle is also one of the most organized persons I know and that is going to be valuable as we make our way from Black Canyon City to Flagstaff. Having shared many laughs with Michelle over the years, I know that when the going is horrible she will get me to smile and laugh.

To the four of you, Thank You. You do not know what a relief it is to have this part of the race complete. It may not seem like much, but asking people to give up a week (or more) of their life to join me on an adventure through Arizona was stressful. This isn’t asking somebody to pace you for 5-7 hours on a trail and then get home within a day. This is asking somebody to give up time with family, friends, work and wait on you hand and foot (literally!) I cannot be more excited about this team as each brings with them a different perspective and experience that will prove to be invaluable during race week.

How Is Training Going?

Glad you asked. It is unofficially starting this week, and officially starting next week. October 1st was to be the day I started but I didn’t and then last week I had a lot of stress about life and I decided starting a training plan under those circumstances didn’t make sense. I wrote my first official week out and put it into Training Peaks with a November 1st start date. On Monday October 26th, I woke up with a green whoop recovery score, following three straight days of red, and that was very uplifting. I decided that I can start an unofficial plan during this week and allow that to flow into next week. In addition to that, Team Dirt and Vert is hosting a Halloween Night Run at Erwin Park and that’ll be a great way to kickstart this training plan.

Training Ideas? Have You Formulated Those Yet?

Yes, my goal is to be the strongest version of me when we start on May 3rd. This means that in addition to running, there will be a lot of hill repeats with different focuses. One day will be running uphill and not crushing myself downhill while others will be easy on the uphills and smashing myself on the downhills. I will be adding in running/hiking with my pack on to simulate those days out on the course when that pack will feel like it weighs 100 lbs. The Man-Maker on the treadmill will make a come back as will weight vest hikes on the treadmill followed by swims.

What I will not be doing is sleep deprivation training. I have not done that in any of the 100 mile training cycles I have done and find it hard to wrap my mind around. I am a big believer in consistency in training and recovery. Interrupting sleep patterns and causing inconsistencies in training doesn’t make much sense to me. Since I’ll be having a rolling aid station and pacers the need to train while sleep deprived and increasing my ability to get injured doesn’t make much sense

Are You Planning To Race Prior to May 3rd?

Simply put, YES. I am also planning on pacing.

Anything Else You Want To Share With Us?

In my last post, I mentioned getting another Inside Tracker test done. The results have come back and I have a few tweaks I need to make to my diet, and have already begun that process. I have increased my consumption of soy along with a bigger breakfast to get Iron, Vitamin B and Vitamin D into my system. I have also ordered AltRed as beets were a suggested food that I eat to help with my biomarkers. My morning and afternoon smoothies now incorporate beet juice, tart cherry juice. I’ll use AltRed on big training days.

I listened to my boy Hector Rodriguez on The Trail Life Podcast and it got me fired up for Coco250. Hector recently completed the Moab 240 and is in the lottery for Tahoe 200. Listening to him speak with excitement about racing, and the grind to the finish line and insight into racing this distance was awesome. I’ll be bookmarking this episode and listening over and over again because it’s down to earth with insight from a person who is not sugar coating the truth of the adventure and accomplishment.

Conclusion

This adventure is starting to take shape and I am excited for what is going to happen over the course of the next few months. There will be lots of thrills and excitement as well as downs and fuck this, I don’t want to train anymore. It’s all in a training cycle and especially for something like this where I have no idea where I’m headed but I’m certainly going to get there.

So, until the next time I post……Thank you for reading and please do not hesitate to ask me questions because they will help me formulate my plan.

Happy Trail Running….Find Your Dirt and Your Vert

Announcement: Phoenix Team Dirt and Vert Chapter To Launch Mid-November

Ashley Durstine Arizona Group Run Leader Team Dirt and Vert

If you read the About Us section of this website you’ll learn about us as individuals but the first paragraph explains exactly who we are and what we are looking to accomplish.

Team Dirt and Vert is a collective of trail runners spending their time chasing single-track and tackling challenging terrain. That is what you’ll read on all of our social profiles and it is 100% true but doesn’t give you the depth of what we are about.

We challenge ourselves to do what would be considered unthinkable and not because we want a kudos on Strava but because we don’t believe in limiting ourselves. We want to keep going out and finding new experiences, new challenges and create memories for a lifetime. We want to extend an invitation to you to become a member of Team Dirt and Vert by challenging yourself, pushing your envelope, creating new memories and remembering that life is better when you’re running single track up a mountain……the view is better up there!

Building community is to the collective as spiritual practice is to the individual.

When we founded this endeavor, nearly two years ago, we could not have anticipated where this would go. Maybe it would die on the vine or maybe it would remain in North Texas with us just chasing each other around trails and pacing/crewing at races. Little did we know that there was a void that we could fill and help bring those new to trail and ultra running along, or that seasoned runners were looking for a group to call home.

With that as background, we are working on expanding our reach beyond the borders of North Texas and believe we have found the perfect person to help us accomplish that goal.

Please welcome Ashley Durstine as the first Group Lead of Team Dirt and Vert. Ashley is based in Surprise, Arizona and will be heading up the Phoenix Team Dirt and Vert chapter. Our first expansion beyond North Texas. Our hope is that we are able to launch more of these across the country in 2021 and that our program with Ashley will be the example for all chapters.

We can tell you a lot about Ashley, but instead we will let her tell you about herself in her own words:

I found my passion for running back in 2013 with 5k OCR mud runs with friends. Prior to that the only running I did was mandatory PT runs while serving in the USAF.

I fell in love with trail running back in January 2017. My husband just got deployed and I started working again in the dental field. The stress relief and adventure helped me through life’s problems.

I loved the race atmosphere at those OCR races and wanted that for trail running. I signed up for my first trail half marathon race at Lake Powell. After that a 20k race at my favorite place the White Tank Mountains and recently a 40k at Lake Pleasant.

I love challenges pushing the distance and being involved with the running community. November I will be running my first ultramarathon at Usery Mountain.

I love sharing my passion with others, learning and gaining knowledge from this amazing community.

Ashley – From Greg, Jen and I — Welcome to the family. We look forward to seeing you grow the Team Dirt and Vert group in the Phoenix area. This is the first of what we expect to be an amazing ride and having you captain the ship has us thrilled.

For those of you in the West Valley of Phoenix and Phoenix in general, please check out our Events Page for upcoming weekly group runs as well as special events that will tie into racing in the area.