“Don’t Give Up On Yourself”


Technically this was my second Tecumseh Marathon this year, with last year’s race being rescheduled to January. January’s race had snow, ice, mud, and was turned into a looped mess of extreme conditions. I loved it and the cold temps made it even more enjoyable. Finished that race third overall in a time of 3:26. When it was announced the next race was scheduled for an October date, I was ready to sign up and get a crack at the real Tecumseh Trail Marathon course. Plus the warmer temps would be such a benefit. After convincing several friends to signup, training had begun. Was able to get in a pretty good base, lots of great long runs on the trails, and felt like I was in pretty good shape. Expectations were high for a great race.

Tecumseh Trail Marathon January 2014

Tecumseh Trail Marathon January 2014

Marie and I headed down to Bloomington Friday afternoon. Besides getting stuck in traffic a couple times, we got down there pretty quick because we didn’t make any stops. We checked into our hotel, which was a fantastic room. There was a couch in it. Then we drove over to packet-pickup and then off to dinner at Olive Garden with great friends. Everyone was excited and all in a great mood. After dinner we headed back to the hotel where all of us were staying except for Devin. Devin was staying at the host hotel and would meet us at the start of the race in the morning. We made our plans of when would leave and all went to our rooms for the night. Spent the next hour getting everything ready to go for the morning.

Olive Garden with Amazing Friends

Olive Garden with Amazing Friends

After hitting the snooze three times in the morning I finally decided to wake up. Marie was getting to sleep in because she was doing the fun run, which meant she didn’t have to be there until 11:00 or so and she would be riding with Marylin and Kellie. The rest of us were meeting in the lobby at 7:00 for breakfast. After getting ready, I arrived in the lobby at about 7:15. Had a bagel, a mini doughnut, and a cup of coffee. We all loaded up into the suv and headed to the finish line where we would catch the shuttle bus to the start. With the race a point to point course, it’s much nicer to have your vehicle at the finish. On the way to the bus, we all took in the great scenery. With the peak of Autumn happening, it was incredibly beautiful with lots of orange, yellow, and browns. We pulled into the park. It was nothing like it was in January. No snow, ice, or running rivers going across the roads. The finish area was covered in massive crunchy leaves instead of the thick mud we had before. I took in the views across the lake while the rest were ordering their medals. I sat on a picnic bench and thought about how much fun the race was going to be. After using the restrooms, we loaded onto the bus for the long ride to the start.


We finally arrived with about twenty minutes to the start. That gave plenty of time to use the restroom again. But not enough time to get in the half-mile warmup I was hoping for. I did two strides and that was it. Saw some friendly faces at the start. Talked a little about the race and couldn’t wait to get on the trails. Then another bus showed up and I knew the wait would be a little bit longer. The anticipation was killing me. I was getting a little too nervous and the more I thought about us getting started, the less I thought about my race plan.


The time finally came. With the start of the race we were all off and running. The beginning of the race was on a gravel road, so the pace was kind of fast. But I stayed with the front pack, thinking it would slow down once we hit the trails. When we hit what I thought was the beginning of the trails, was actually a fire road with huge rocks and gravel. The pace did not slow down. I felt ok going with the group. Devin and I were talking while two of the other guys were talking, with another runner along for the ride. The five of us were packed pretty good. I kept looking at my watch and seeing that we were still running around 6:20’s. The goal before the race was to go out around 6:50’s to 7:00 minute pace. Let the pack go if they were going faster and hope to pull them back later in the race. I was a little scared to let them go, so I stayed with them. We reached the first big climb of the race. Devin went around the two runners and pushed the pace up the hill. I went with him and we formed a little gap over the other runners. When we reached the top, the pace slowed effort wise. Not too far down the road, we hit another hill and Devin picked the pace up again. At first I went with, but then decided it was too fast. I let the other three runners go ahead of me. Slowly they pulled away and finally to a point that I didn’t see them. I was still running faster than I wanted, but didn’t want them to pull away too much.


The front group kept a gap on me for about 2 miles. I was taking the hills easy, but going too fast on the downhills and the flatter technical sections. We were running on trails that were very similar to the single track deer trails at the dunes, with a bit of Imagination Glen type of technical to it. Lots of climbing and lots of steep downhills. The woods cleared up a little and I could see the group just a little ahead. I was surprised that I was pulling them in. I had been going the same pace as when they pulled away, so that meant they were slowing. That got me a excited that maybe it was my day to win. Maybe I was running a smart race. I felt pretty good. The pace was faster than I planned. I finally caught back up and tagged along the back. The five of us weaved around the trails and climbed up and down the hills. On the hills they would gap me a tiny bit and I would pull them back in on the downhill and the more technical sections. One of the runners slowly fell back and out of sight. I was getting more excited the way things were playing out. After we crossed one creek and headed up the hill, Devin made a wrong turn. We all yelled up to him and he returned back to the trail. This put one of the other guys in the lead with me in second, then Devin, and then one of the other guys. The new guy in front picked up the pace. I was fine with it on the flat technical stuff and the downhills. But it seemed too fast on the uphills. I stepped off the trail and let Devin and the other guy pass me while we were on a big climb. I felt fine, I just didn’t want to push it. We flew over the top of the climb, down a steep hill, and then started another climb. The three of them started to gap me. I let them go and their lead kept increasing.


Again the lead group was out of sight. I was fine with that, knowing we would be getting to more technical stuff and I could easily reel them back in. I was looking at the ground heading up one of the hills checking for roots. I made a right turn and came upon a little shelter building. On the front side of it, there was a trail going left and right. But I didn’t see any pink ribbons that we were supposed to be following. I knew right away I made a wrong turn. Didn’t know how bad I messed up though. I waited a minute to collect myself. I was extremely frustrated. Then the runner who was in fifth place ran right up to the shelter too. At first we thought that maybe we didn’t make a wrong turn since both of us were there. We waited another minute to see if the runner in sixth would come up from behind. The fifth place guy ran a little bit back down the trail and noticed a ribbon. He yelled up to me and we both headed back on course. Now people would think that the trail was then poorly marked. It wasn’t the case. It was pretty obvious which way to turn. We both had been looking down at the roots and just missed them. He lead for a little bit and then stepped aside to let me lead. I was now kind of in a panic mode and thought the guys in the lead were getting too far ahead. I dropped the pace and flew through the trails. We had gotten lost around seven miles into the race. So there was plenty of racing left to do. I didn’t keep my cool and let too much of my competitiveness take over.


I spent the next four miles going way too fast. I was enjoying the trail, the scenery, and having fun. Now if the race was only a half-marathon, that would be fine. But I was doing a marathon. At one of the aid stations, I stopped to get something to drink, while the runner in fifth passed me and picked up the pace. I let him go. Around twelve miles I was starting to feel tired. I knew I was coming up to the biggest climb of the race. I had never ran it, but I heard the stories and had seen videos of it. The course came out of the woods onto a road. I picked it up a little on the road. The Sun was out and it was getting hot quickly. All of a sudden I felt extremely tired. My legs were feeling weak and the fast early pace had caught up to me. As the feeling hit me, I saw the big hill right in front of me. I looked up and saw the fourth place runner nearing the top. I slowed my pace once I hit the hill. not more than thirty meters up the hill, I started walking. I was done. Legs were hurting too much to run up. I’m known as a good hill runner, but I destroyed my legs by not following my race plan. Thought to myself how stupid it was for me to run way above my head. Why would I run under 6:30 pace. None of them could hold that pace. We were all running above our heads. I was supposed to run smart and pass them all near the end. I ruined my race.


While walking up the hill, I was passed by four runners. It was going to be a struggle the rest of the way and I was going to hurt a lot. Once I reached the top, I went into a slow run. This would continue for about four miles. Around mile seventeen, Sam had caught up to me while I was walking down a road. He urged me to run with him. I told him about getting lost and being stupid about my pace. He said we should work together, but I was still hurting too much to go with him. On the next very short climb, I started walking again and Sam left me behind. Not too long after, a spectator handed me a gel. I asked him who was leading. He told me, then said who was in second. I asked him how the young guy (Devin) was doing. He said he looked extremely tired and was struggling.


Back onto the trail, the lead woman pulled up along the side of me. After I had took a whole bunch of gels and ate a few shot blocks, I was feeling a lot better. I decided to tag along with her. We were rolling at a good clip and it felt great to be running well again. We reached the hill that everyone had talked about at the eighteen mile mark. It was a big hill. The whole way up was switchbacks. But even with the switchbacks it was steep and kept going on and on. We did a little walking with a little running when we could. Was really nice when we reached the top and headed on the downhill I was feeling fantastic. When we reached the next hill, she stepped aside and let me go ahead of her. I slowly pulled away. After a little while a spectator told me I was in fifteenth place. I had thought more runners had passed me than that. My burst of energy was giving out though. I started the walk/run method again. I would walk the hills and run the rest. The top female runner and a few others passed me up. I was eating the shot blocks and taking gels again, hoping to get some energy.


After the halfway, I had been asking for pop at every aid station I came upon. But they all looked at me like I was crazy for wanting soda. I would joke back at them saying I wanted pop and not soda. Pop has saved me from many bonks at trail races. This was the first time I had been in a trail race that was a marathon or longer that didn’t have any. Even the January Tecumseh race had pop. My stomach was feeling well and I knew pop would help. But none was to be had the whole race. At about the twenty-one mile mark, I started feeling good again. I decided to use the energy I had and push the pace. I started passing runners again. I went by the top female runner and then caught up the guy who had left me when he was in fourth. He was struggling just as bad as I was. I finally made my way into tenth place after hearing the camera guy tell me.


My thought now was that maybe if I really pushed, I could catch Sam and a few more. Once I hit the road again, I dropped the pace to what my gps said was 6:50. I saw Sam on the trail that was coming back the way I was going out on the road. He made a joke and told me to take the shortcut over to the trail. Now I was really excited that I could probably catch him because he had about a two minute lead with four miles to go. When I made the turn at the end of the road back onto the trail, I stopped and got three drinks. I drank two cups of water and a cup of Gatorade. I started running and felt great. Went past a couple runners and was rolling pretty good. Then all of a sudden I was hit with some major fatigue. It took me all the way to a walk. Looked at my watch and saw that I had just over three miles to go. Runners started passing me again. The same runners I had just passed. Looked back and saw the top female runner again. As she went by, she said the best possible quote at that time. “Don’t give up on yourself”. Wow. That really hit me with some emotion. At first I kept walking, thinking of the quote over and over. I had been in this type of hurt before and have pushed through. One more runner went by before I started running again. I had just under three miles to go. I kicked it in and starting running down the trails. I looked at my watch and saw 7:30 pace. It was crazy that I had been walking and now going this fast. I was loving this part of the trail. Very technical and just the trail I was made to run. I starting passing the runners again. This kept up for another mile. I had passed five runners now and knew I was in tenth place. But I still wanting to pull in a few more. Up ahead I could see the top female again. But my legs were starting to tire. I saw her walking a little up a hill. When I reached the hill, I started walking. This would go on for the rest of the race. On the steeper little hills, I would walk. Then pick it back up to a slow run. On the downhills I would let it all loose. I was looking back because one of the guys was catching up. I didn’t want him to pass me because he looked like he was in my age group. I finally hit the road. It meant about a mile and half left until the finish. I picked up the pace to about 7:45. I felt fine running that on the flat. When I got to the final big climb, I saw two runners halfway up walking. I started the hill in a slow run. Not too far up, I was into a walk. I looked back and saw the other runner starting the climb. He was running, but a I had a good gap and thought I could just run when he got close. I kept looking back until I saw him finally start walking. The hill was brutally long and the heat was killing me. On the turn at the top of the hill, I looked back and saw there wasn’t much of a gap. I started running again. Looking ahead I saw the other two runners were out of reach. My goal now was just to hold him off from behind. The road was a lot longer than I thought. A couple times I went into a walk. Then up ahead I saw and heard Marie, Marylin, and Kellie cheering from a picnic table. Right before I hit the corner, I lost my breath. I’m guessing it was my allergies. I walked for about five seconds and then started running down the grass hill to the finish. I looked back a few times until I knew he wouldn’t catch me.



I finished in 10th place overall, 3rd place age group, with a time of 3:52. Only 52 minutes off my goal time. I enjoyed the course and was happy I finished. But I was upset with my stupid start to the race. I didn’t do anything according to plan. When I heard the winning time was 3:10, I really got mad at myself. If I had done what I wanted to do, I could have competed for the win. But I got too excited and raced stupidly. Not an hour later I was fine with the race. There is always another one on the calendar. I learned some lessons from this one and had a lot of fun. I also learned that I need to add more faster running into training, more hills (means more Greeks runs), and going farther and faster on the long runs. It was a great experience training for this race with such great friends. We had some epic runs that I’ll never forget. Great breakfast times after long runs. It really was one of the those races where the journey was so much more memorable than the destination. Hopefully recovery from the race goes quick and get back into some great training for The Huff 50k and many more races for the rest of my life. I’ve had some amazing support from a lot of friends. Even with some people counting me out and hoping I didn’t run well, the support blocked those people out. On to many more journeys and maybe I’ll go back next year for a better overall result.


Won’t Give Up: 52.4 Miles

Photo By: Scott VanLoo 4 times around

Photo By: Scott VanLoo
4 times around

Sometimes we have romantic dreams for race day, all is wonderful, and we run the race surpassing our goals to times we only imagined deep in our hearts. Then race day comes and our heart breaks. I spent all Winter training for my first 50 mile at Indiana Trail 50 in one of the worst Winters in history. Had some pretty epic runs and some runs when I suffered all the way to the end and some runs that felt effortless. I came out of Winter really fit. Wasn’t the fastest I’ve been, but I was in the best long distance shape. Ten mile runs were easy days. I was really pumped for race day and believed I could run a great time. Three days before the race I came down with a really bad flu. Spent a few days puking. Race day came and I thought I could still run well. After just 6 miles of the 50 mile race, I was already beginning to feel sick. The rest of the day was a worst case scenario. Ended up walking about 24 miles and running about 26 miles. It was not the day I wanted.

My plan for the rest of the year was to get back to the shorter stuff and get some quicker times.Then move back up to the longer stuff with that speed gained. The disappointment was too much. After talking with some people and the generous offer from a friend to pay my entry, I registered for Yankee Springs Double Marathon. I couldn’t go the rest of the year with such a disaster for me at Indiana Trail 50 in the back of my mind. Went to Tryon Farm Trail 50k to keep my fitness going and ended up with a really good day and came away very optimistic.

Going into Yankee Springs I don’t have big goals like I did for Indiana Trail 50. Looking for a solid effort and a time I can be happy with. I ran the trails last year and finished the marathon distance. The trails were wonderful, so I know I’m going to enjoy running them again. The plan is to go out very conservative for the first half of the race, then see how I feel from there. Going to be a hot day and I’m going to need to be concentrating on nutrition and making sure I drink enough. There’s going to be several good runners in the field. If they run a pace I feel comfortable with, I’ll hang onto them. I am going to run my own race though. So if it’s too fast or too slow, I’ll run alone. Going into the race, I know I’ll experience pain, tiredness, and will want to stop for a DNF. I guaranteed myself I will not stop and will not quit. I know I can go 50 miles. I know how to hurt. This is going to be a great learning experience to go 50 miles running. I have a lot of friends who believe in me and I believe in myself. Yankee Springs is where I’ll prove to the doubters and prove to a tiny little voice in my head that whispers sometimes that I can’t. I wasn’t born with natural running talent, I was born with the talent of being able to train harder and race harder than some. Yankee Springs will be the race I look back on in five years and say “that is where I picked myself up and succeeded.”

“The strongest and most accomplished people are not those who always win, but those who refuse to give up even after they lose. You might think you’re not good enough, but you’ll surprise yourself if you keep trying. What defines us is how well we rise after falling. At the end of the day, to win, all you have to do is get up one more time than you fall down.”-Nicole Wilkins

Memorial Day Trail Run Extreme

a mem

What was it like leading the race? A question I got from a non-runner after the Memorial Day Trail Run Extreme. The quick and simple response is of course it feels awesome. But while running the race, there are many things going through my mind. It takes a lot to commit to leading the race. Trail Run Extreme is one of my favorite races. The trails are extremely difficult and beat your body up. There are no places to rest on the course. You are either going up or down, turning 180 degrees around corners, and continuously watching your footing. There are so many tree roots, uneven footing, and rocks along the trails. All this makes for a fun and tough course. Depending on my fitness, the goal each year is to go for the win. I always give a 100% effort for this race out of respect for what the day represents.

Start of  Memorial Day Trail Run Extreme

Start of Memorial Day Trail Run Extreme

The race started off fast just like it does every year. There is a strategy the first half mile going around the soccer fields then heading onto the single track trail. You don’t want to get stuck in the back, but you also don’t want to use everything you got and be in oxygen debt the rest of the race. Saving for the last couple miles is important because of the hills and lots of time could be lost or made up. I started off just a little bit slow to see how fast everyone else would start. Of course the young guys went out hard and I saw one masters runner going with. It wasn’t as fast as years past. So I latched right onto the back of the front group. I looked around behind me and watched the runners in front of me. I wanted to play this chess match the best I could. After the first turn, some of the runners in the front pack already dropped off pace. I moved my way up into 3rd before the next turn. Drew was leading with Chris right behind him. I started to pick up the pace to try to be the first into the woods. I passed Chris and pulled up next to Drew. He looked over at me and then picked the pace up. I pulled up next to him again and he picked it up even faster. So I backed off and let him have the pole position going into the woods. Chris was right behind me and Drew created a 10 meter gap ahead of us. On one of the early turns I looked back and only Ralph was coming along with us. The pace was fast, but I didn’t want Drew to get away too far. We were flying around the corners. I grabbed trees with my hand to help myself make the sharp turns at such a fast pace.

We hadn’t hit RollerCoaster yet and I was already thinking it was going to be tough to win today. Drew and Chris were running so fast. My goal was to stay with them as long as I could. We came up out of the woods for a short run across some grass with the first water station. Several spectators there to cheer us on. Drew was about 15 meters ahead of me and Chris was a couple meters behind me. I was waiting for Chris to pass me, but he stayed right behind. That made me think he was either feeling the pace or waiting to pounce later in the race. Headed back into the woods and down the steep single track hill on our way to RollerCoaster. I noticed the first climb into the Coasters, I made up a few meters on Drew. On the downhills, he would pull a little ahead and on the uphills I made up a ton of ground. I decided to pick up my pace and pull up next to him to see how he would react. To my surprise, he didn’t fight me off. He stepped aside and let me go by. I took full advantage of his move and picked up the pace even more. By the time we left the Coasters, I had about a 30 meter lead on Drew with Chris right behind him.

So I had to make a choice. Do I back off the pace a little to recover and then pick it up again at the hill leaving Far Creek or do I pick up the pace and build as much of a lead as I could? One of the games that is played out in your head during the race. I could pick it up and then hit a wall later on in the race. But if I let the other runners stay with me, they could use their speed to out-kick me in the later stages. With still having tired legs from the previous weekend’s 50k/8.5k Double, I didn’t think I would have too much speed at the end. So I decided to lay it all on the line along the creek. I dropped the pace. When I came up to the first mud crossing, I jumped to the most shallow part of the water, hit a little sand and jumped to the other side with minimal amount of mud. I was thrilled about that because I knew I could jump the next two mud crossings. Came up to the next one, jumped over the downed-trees and leaped across the mud without touching any of it. Another successful mud crossing. The next one, I was a little scared about. I could leap over it, but it was a long jump and if I missed the other side, I could fall backwards into the mud. I built up momentum. But I noticed my steps would be a little off and I would have to jump off my left foot. I hesitated for second. I didn’t want to mess up and I lost speed. I still ended up jumping from my left leg and flew through the air. I landed with a good foot to spare, but I slipped and had to throw my body forward and grab the hill with my hands. I made it, though my gel I had been carrying in my hand was covered in mud. I tossed it next to the guys who were in charge of the crossing. I knew I wouldn’t need it. It was more of a safety blanket to have during the race.
I was thrilled to have negotiated the mud crossings with very little mud on the shoes. The water in the shoes quickly drained out and I was flying down the Far Creek Trail. When I reached the top of the hill to the Balcony, I looked back and didn’t see anyone. I wasn’t sure how much of a lead I had. One of the issues with leading is that you are being hunted by all the runners behind. Not seeing them was good and bad. I wasn’t sure if they were just out of sight or if they were way behind. I decided to keep the pace high. I was feeling great and having a good time. Now I was running in Log Jam. One of my favorite sections of the trail. Really sharp turns and a whole lot of them. I also knew I was going to be able to see the other runners on the switchbacks and could see how far back they were. I felt like I was running a faster pace than what I had been running along Far Creek. But I could see that Drew and Chris were catching me a little. I didn’t see Ralph and last I had seen him, he was closing down on those two. So I thought he passed them and wasn’t too far behind me. I kind of backed off the pace going into SwitchBack. Now I was hoping to get a better gauge of how close they were and I was hoping to see if Ralph was catching me. I was feeling a little tired, but the pace felt ok. After making a few turns, I saw Drew just down the hill heading the other way. I asked him what place he was in and he said 3rd. Did Ralph pass him? How close was he? I couldn’t see anyone else until I was leaving Switchback and saw Jose on one of the trails. Instead of finding out how far they were behind me, I was now more confused. I decided to relax the pace for a couple minutes on the UpperPipeline. When I got to Hydes Hills, I saw they had cut those from the course and bypassed them. I was kind of disappointed because they are a lot of fun and I thought I could sprint through them and gain some ground. I decided to wait until I was on the flat section of Rich’s Revenge. Through these trails, it’s easy to keep a good pace going because the trails are very runnable.

My thought was that the others would be tired by this time. I cranked down the pace to under 6 minutes a mile. I was feeling great. The goal was to hammer as hard as I could and increase the lead that I had no idea how big it was. I could see Chris every now and then, but couldn’t see the others. With the way the switchbacks were, I couldn’t tell how much of a lead I had. I was sort of running scared. I didn’t want to be caught with having led so much of the race to this point. I was also really enjoying running so fast this late into the race. As I was about to head into the last switchback of Rich’s Revenge, I saw Jose heading the other way. My thought was that he was in 5th. I was thinking Chris was in 2nd and I didn’t know where Ralph and Drew were. I picked up the pace even more and before I left Rich’s Revenge, I had the pace down to 5:45 and slowed just a little heading into Speedy Ridge.

Photo By:  Bret Pete

Photo By: Bret Pete

By this point I was thinking I had the win unless something crazy happened. I was having a blast, I was running fast, and I was leading my favorite race. When I reached the final mud crossing, there were a few people there cheering. Bret was taking pictures and said “Defending your title John, great job”. I went through the mud with no problem. I started recovering from the hard effort through Rich’s Revenge. Through Bobal Ridge, I charged the uphills and was careful on the downhills. I didn’t want to fall. I was moving pretty good and was looking forward to the switchback to see how big of a lead I had. I still wasn’t sure where Ralph was and I didn’t know if anyone was catching up. As I was running along the trail, I kept looking over to the trail going the other way and didn’t see anyone. Now I knew I had the win. I was excited and relaxed. I rounded the corner out of the single track and got a glance of the finish that was about a half mile away. As I came up on the corner, there was a little girl yelling “here comes the runners”. I then heard a man say, “they aren’t coming yet. It’s too early.” When I got to the corner, it was kind of funny when the guy saw me. The little girl then said something like “I told you so”. I headed back into the single track for one last time. I saw Jose on the other side of the fence going the other way. I asked him what place he was in, he said 3rd. I was really impressed with how well he was racing. I was feeling extremely happy I was going to win. I was feeling great and moving well. After the 180 degree turns, I picked up the pace to finish as strong as I could. Around one of the corners, I flew up on the side wall to have a little fun.

At the start of the day I really wanted to win. But after the fast start, I didn’t think I was going to. Now I was heading into the final 200 meters in the lead. I was pumped. For a moment I thought I was going to cry a little. Yes, that is a little over the top. But so much emotion was going through me. I love this race. I talk about all year long every year. I try to get as many people to run it as I can. I believe the race could be a monster event if people would just show up and race. I rounded the final turn and headed up to the finish. A few people were there cheering and saying good job. I crossed the line as Overall Winner. I was happy.

1. John Borman 44:15
2. Christopher Lechner 46:18
3. Jose Elizondo 46:48
4. Ralph Nurse 47:00
5. Drew Finely 47:05
6. Brady Smith 48:42
7. Sam Langley 48:57
8. Michael Griffith 49:20
9. Davidly Bradley 50:07
10. Trent Sinnett 50:32
11. David Ahner 51:09
12. Chad Lawless 51:55
13. Stephen Messick 52:06
14. Chanbo Sim 52:50
15. Anthony Fleming III 53:01

Photo By: Chad Lawless

Photo By: Chad Lawless

Photo By: Debbie Modrak Gruszka

Photo By: Debbie Modrak Gruszka

Tryon Farm Trail 50K

“A runner must run with dreams in his heart.”– Emil Zatopek

Marie and I arrived at Tryon Farms about forty-five minutes before race start. Grabbed our bags, a couple chairs, and the rest of our supplies and headed over to the barn. Right away you get the feel of an ultra running race. At road races, people seem to always be hurrying around in a rush to make sure they get registered fast, get to the restrooms fast, and get to the start line fast. I’ve noticed the last couple years, ultra runners move around more relaxed before the race.

Photo By: Marie Fessler

Photo By: Marie Fessler

Saw several people I knew, said hi and a little small talk. Todd Henderlong was setting up the finish line and timing system for T&H Timing and Extra Mile Fitness. We set up our chairs next to the start/finish area so I would have access after each loop. I was thinking of setting up on the backside of the barn, but I was thinking Marie would much rather prefer being in the Sun. Small price to pay for a few extra seconds each loop. Headed into the barn to pick up my packet and saw Dick Canterbury. Said a few words, picked up my packet, sweatshirt, and number. Then headed back outside.

Photo By: Marie Fessler

Photo By: Marie Fessler

Changed socks and shoes and made sure to apply extra blistershield. With all the rain the past week, I knew the course was going to be extremely wet and muddy. Set my water bottles up, placed my gels and other nutrition in a spot easy to get to, then headed to the restrooms. While in line, I heard two guys behind me talking. One of the guys asked the other about races or something and the other guy replied that he had won the Detroit Marathon. I heard Zach was going to be there from the race director. I’m kind of a running geek when I’m around elite runners. Turned around, introduced myself, and wished him luck. After using the restroom, I headed back over to the chairs to get final preparations done. Next to us, I noticed Mark Linn setting up his chairs and also explaining to his dad what he would need each lap. Mark is a regular at most of the ultra’s in the state and the surrounding areas. His dad came up to watch him race. What makes Tryon so great is that it’s a perfect ultra for spectators. With five laps, and a spot on the course within a short walk, there are plenty of enough times to cheer. Mark and I talked a little about the race and about how he had just done Gnaw Bone. Race director announced some final instructions. He mentioned some of the deep water and mud on the course. Said a few things about Zach, Dick, and an Eleven year old who was running an ultra for the first time. Then the annual singing of the National Anthem by all the runners and spectators. Finally time to line up for the race.

Photo By: Amy Bohac-Datz

Photo By: Amy Bohac-Datz

The plan was to go out at a conservative pace. I knew there was no way to win the race with Zach in it unless he dropped out or had a miserable day. But I thought I would be able to place high. Even though it was a small field of runners, there were about ten runners that could run times that I was looking for and you never know what can happen in a trail 50k. The race started and right away Zach took the lead with last year’s winner, Brent right behind him. I fell into leading a small group for about the first quarter mile around the grass trail. Before we reached the first flooded water crossing, James went around us and surged close to Brent. So our little pack had become four runners. We got to the first water and boy was it cold. First lap is was only about calf deep, but as the race went on it got deeper and deeper. Right away we started introducing ourselves. Runners in the pack were Nicholas, Adam, Aaron, and I. About a half-mile into the loop, we reached the entrance into the first single track section. Entering the woods, there was a small creek that I was able to jump. We single filed out, one right after another and made our way through the trail. The trail was really muddy with lots of sharp turns, a few logs to jump and some puddles to run through. Leaving the trail back into the meadow was the same small creek we went over on the way in. We re-grouped and started running close together with two in front and two in back. We had a great conversation going and learned a lot about each other. Crazy how trail races are like that.

Nicholas was a veteran of ultra running from Brownsburg, In. He was the second oldest of the group at the age of 32. I was the oldest, which I pointed out my goal was to finish ahead of everyone older than me. The other two were in their twenties. Nicholas talked about how he was training for Western States 100, the big daddy of ultra-running in the United States. It’s not the hardest race, but it’s known as the Boston Marathon of the ultra community. It was very intimidating to hear he was going. Aaron was also a veteran of ultra running and said he was from Lafayette, In. Many 50k, 50’s, and 100k. He mentioned his next big race was Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin. We talked about Yankee Springs, which he has done and I ran last year. I mentioned to him that I was planning on doing the Double Marathon this year. Adam was the least experience, as this was his first 50k. Adam said he was from Naperville, Il. He had done several marathons. Next up for Adam is Leadville 50 Mile and then he said he is doing Yellowstone 100 mile this year also. It was great to have these guys to talk to.

trail map

We made our way around the meadow. This section was a little tough for footing. Really tall grass and uneven ground. It was soft though. We could see the leader and the other two guys pulling away. We were content with out pace and I felt comfortable with it. We made our way out of the meadow and onto the next single track section. This wasn’t as muddy and really easy to run on. I made note of it for later in the race that this would be a great place to push the pace. The section was soft dirt, a couple mud patches, a lot of turns, a couple little inclines. After this section of the course, we made it to the next meadow type section. Not too long entering, we came up on another flooded section of about ankle to calf deep water. My shoes had already dried out from the previous water, so running through more water at first was kind of annoying. But I quickly remembered I was having fun. After a few turns through the meadow that was surrounded by small trees, we reached the course mountain. The mountain is a pile of sand sitting in the middle of nowhere. Clearly it was put there by someone because it does not look like it belongs. It’s placed right next to a little pond. It’s not very high, but it was deep sand and took some effort to climb. I remembered how hard it got by the last loop during the previous year’s race. We left the meadow down a trail towards one of the houses on the course. Last year there was an aid station here. This year the wasn’t because they changed the course around to make it less confusing. We made our way through the figure eight on a single track trail. Noted that this was another great place to surge if needed later in the race. We made it to the last meadow loop of the course. We could see Brent and James up ahead, but Zach was already through this section. After the long loop around, we entered another trail. This trail was only about a hundred meters, but it was a sloppy mess of mud that only got harder to run through as the race went on. We made a quick turn onto a road and crossed into what I call the swamp section. Just like last year, entering the swamp we ran through above calf deep water with mud on the bottom. Made our way around the swamp area which had a several section of mud and flooded trail. As we rounded the backside I could see the barn up ahead. Lap one was complete and it felt like I was on an easy run.

Photo By: Marie Fessler

Photo By: Marie Fessler

1st lalp

Marie was there with a couple of gels for the second loop. I had already taken one during the first loop. Adam and Aaron didn’t stop, I stopped for just a few seconds, and Nicholas changed shirts. Not too long after we started the second loop, we were all four together again. Through the second loop, we kept the pack together and talked the whole time. We were all enjoying the race and loving the course. The second loop, the flooded trails seemed deeper, the mud seemed sloppier, and the tall grass was trampled closer to the ground. We ran pretty much the same pace as the first loop. Nicholas and I both noticed that the course was a tad short. Not by much, but it was short. With having run several 50ks and been following the sport of ultras for awhile now, I pretty much know that when it comes to trail running the distance is more of an approximation. Besides, you are running the course just as much as the distance and a course being a tad off isn’t going to make a gigantic difference in the scheme of things. Heck, with all the major turns and mud on the single track, the pace drops so much that on a course without all the turns, the pace basically evens out. During this loop, we noticed the leaders were pulling ahead even more. I was feeling good. I hadn’t taken any water, but I had taken a few gels and was feeling good.

Photo By: Marie Fessler

Photo By: Marie Fessler

As we finished the second loop, I didn’t see Marie as I came around. I found out later she was checking something out and it wasn’t me. I stopped real quick and grabbed three gels and took a drink of some GuBrew. A couple of the others had stopped but it wasn’t long before we re-grouped again. For this loop I was ready to start pushing the pace. I didn’t drop it by much, but it was an increase. I wanted to see if I could make up any ground on the front runners. At this point I was thinking I would place fourth if I could pull away from the group. But I didn’t think there was anyway to pull in any of the leaders. Quickly it was just Nicholas and I. He was hanging about five meters back. After the meadow and heading into the second single track I increased the pace again. I saw Nicholas back off and wait up for Adam. I was clear of the group. On the third lap though, the 10k and 5k runners were now on the course. It helped a ton to have runners to pass by. All I had to say was “trail, passing on left” and they would all move over and reply with some encouraging words. It was even better when it was runners that I knew. There was one runner though that I could have pushed into a tree and have a big smile on my face for the rest of the day. In trail racing, there is trail etiquette. If a runner is coming up behind on a single track trail, the runner will say “trail”. When the runner in front is able, they step to the side and let the quicker runner go by. It’s the nice thing to do. Every runner I had passed up to the point had done that and after this guy did it. I came up behind and said “trail, passing on left”. There was plenty of room for him to move over, but he didn’t. So I said “trail” again and again he wouldn’t move over. I asked him if he could move over politely and he yelled at me that there was no place to move, which there clearly was because I had passed a couple runners before him and then passed a few right after him in the same area. I got upset and ran into the woods and took a turn wide to go around. I gave a “thank you” in a not so nice tone and told the guy to be nice. He yelled back that there was no place to move to. In return I told him to chill, have fun, we are running a fun trail race and learn some trail etiquette. He yelled back again. I told him to stop being a jerk and have some fun. I understand he was probably new to trail running or he was having a hard time during the race. But it was so annoying trying to be so nice to a guy that was clearly being a jerk. Every single other runner the whole day nicely stepped aside and let me go and we always exchanged a “good job” or something. This was the only point in the whole entire race that negative thoughts went through my head. Entering one of the meadows, I saw Brent and James leaving the meadow. I marked the time on my watch to see how far they were ahead. When I reached the same place I had seen them, they were about three and half minutes ahead. At this point, I was sure I was only going to get fourth. I saw Adam, Aaron, and Nicholas in the meadow and I had about a two minute lead on them. I kind of chuckled seeing them running together and thinking I could be with them talking instead of running all by myself.

Photo By: Marie Fessler

Photo By: Marie Fessler

Finished up the third loop. Marie was waiting for me with my Gubrew and some gells. I had her walk with me so I could hand her back the bottle. I was feeling really good and the pace was feeling a little hard, but felt ok. Headed into the fourth loop with the thought of just hanging on for a fourth place finish. The course was continuously getting muddier and deeper water. I was having a ton of fun and really enjoying the trails. I was now looping some of the other 50k runners. Everyone was in such good spirits and we cheered each other along. As the loop went on, I started feeling really good. On the single track trails, my pace was a lot faster than I had been running all day. Everything just seemed to click. Entering the first meadow, I saw Brent and James again exiting the meadow which meant I hadn’t made up any ground from the last loop. I kept moving and finished the fourth loop feeling good.

As I went through the start/finish area, I was told the guys were only two minutes ahead. That meant I made up ground on the second half of loop four. This gave me a lot of hope. I made the decision to go for it. Having experience on muddy trails, I knew a lot of ground could be made up in the first section of muddy single track. I stormed into the woods with a goal of hitting it extremely hard. It was so much fun. I felt like I was at Imagination Glen with Devin flying through the trails. They were really sloppy at this point, but I was moving pretty quick. I was just about to exit the trail when I saw Karen Spoor. She told me they had just exited the trail. I wasn’t sure how close I was, but I got motivation to pick up the pace. I couldn’t see them when I exited. I climbed the little hill over the two houses and that is when I saw them up ahead. I couldn’t believe I was catching them. I had thought for sure I was going to get fourth. I was pulling them in and felt really strong. There was a thought that maybe they didn’t know I was coming and when I reached them I would be spent and the would surge away. After leaving the meadow, I reached the single track. At first I couldn’t see them, but I dropped the pace to 6:30’s and was rolling through the trails. Then I saw them again just about a hundred meters ahead. I pulled them in real fast. When I caught up we exchanged “good job” and stuff. I made the plan to surge hard when I caught them to see if they had anything. After they let me go by, it didn’t take long until I pulled away. They seemed content with the pace they were going. I was pumped and kept the pace around 6:30’s to build on the lead over them. The lead kept growing and growing. We had about three miles to go, so I wasn’t about to relax the pace. As I was exiting the last single track, I noticed James running and I couldn’t see Brent. I had a bad feeling he surged away from him and was gaining on me. On a switchback, I asked James where Brent went. He said he had to stop at the aid station for a breather. At this point I knew I was going to place second. I was extremely excited. When I reached the swamp, I all of a sudden felt really sluggish. The mud and water was really slowing me down and the last mile was very painful after such a hard lap of running. But I crossed the line in Second Place with a time of 3:35:01. The greatest trail race I have ever ran.

Photo By: Marie Fessler

Photo By: Marie Fessler

1st Place: Zachary Ornelas 3:15:03.0
2dn Place: John Borman 3:35:01
3rd Place: James Smith 3:37:29
4th Place: Brent Ksenak 3:41:28
5th Place: Nicholas Balbach 3:49:43
6th Place: Adam Kimble 3:52:14
7th Place: Ryan Geers 3:55:37
8th Place: Mark Linn 4:08:44
9th Place: Aaron Pleitner 4:12:39
10th Place: David Curtin 4:35:16

It was such a great day. Marie and I went over to the Gallery Gallop 8.5k for the night race. Ran 2 minutes faster than last year and had a blast. Extremely happy Marie was with me and she ran well herself at the Gallop. We ended a perfect day with a perfect night.

Photo By: Lisa Moreno

Photo By: Lisa Moreno

Indiana Trail 50 Mile-Being Honest

How to do you write a race report for a race that went absoutely horrible? Should I pretend it was a great day and I’m happy that I finished? Do I take the risk of being honest and talk about how much it sucked with the possibility of having people upset that I’m not happy at all? The goal of the race was to win and run a fast time. So when I finish with a time four hours slower than goal, it’s hard to see anything to be happy about.

a mt

a mt1

Training was fantastic the last four months. The bulk of trianing was with Devin or alone. Did have group runs on Wednesday’s and Weekends. Didn’t matter the weather, I ran in anything and everything. Some of the best runs were in brutal conditions. Running in -8 degree temps with windchills -40 wearing face mask, multiple layers and even two pairs of socks. Runs is blizzards with several other runners. Even got to wear trail shoes a lot running in town because of all the snow. Definitely a Winter full of great running stories and memories that will last a lifetime. Weekly mileage was right on. Several over 90 mile weeks, 80’s, 70’s, and some good cut-back weeks. Ran in a lot of races for speedwork and was running splits almost dead on. Two of my best workouts were Laporte 10k and Ringing in Spring 10k. It was extremely hard not to “race” them, but I held myself back and hit splits almost dead on and felt fantastic. I did sacrifice running some races that I love to hit hard just so I could stay on track with training. There were a couple of long runs I cut short because they didn’t feel right, but bounced right back a few days later. Running a few 5:50 miles at the end of 22 mile long runs felt great. It was the best training I had in years.

Three days before the race, I caught the flu bug. Spent about thirteen hours of puking every hour. Whole body was exhausted and dehydrated. Stayed home from work and spent the day trying to sleep and eat. But anything I ate, even crackers, I would just puke back up. Popping Tums and drinking pop was all I could take. By Friday morning I was feeling a lot better. I decided I was going to do the 50 no matter what. I was still thinking I would be fine by race start and if I wasn’t I was going to finish no matter what. I tried eating a sandwich for lunch and only could manage half of it. My body felt fine, I just couldn’t eat anything. I kept drinking Gatorade and water. I left Valpo and headed out to Chain-o-Lakes State Park and picked up my packet. Tried eating some pasta at the park, but could only handle a little. The garlic bread was actually the only thing I could manage to eat without feeling naucious. Went out to eat with Devin and his parents just to try and get something in me. I could only eat about a quarter of my salad. Back in the hotel room, I kept drinking water and GuBrew. I hadn’t slept much the last couple days, so I was hoping I could have a deep sleep. Didn’t happen. I was up almost all night feeling nauceous and finally got in a good two hours sleep before I had to wake up. I was feeling a little better and hoped for the best.

Photo By Dave Sullivan

Photo By Dave Sullivan

Now I could go through a very detailed account of how the whole race day went. But there was only about six miles of good and the rest was bad. So I’ll make it kind of short. Arrived at the park, found Devin, and then when found Dave and Tom at the Inov8/Wolfhound Racing tent. I had everything prepaired and ready to go. The start of the race was in the dark and would be that way the first three miles or so. Devin and I decided not to use headlamps and just run with the guys who had them. We went straight to the front with a couple guys right behind us with lamps. We could see the trail fine and it wasn’t technical, so we had no issues. The first few miles were really slow and I was fine with that. I didn’t know how I was going to feel later, but I could handle going easy. One runner wearing warmup pants and a jacket took the lead and our pack let him go. We thought the winner was going to come from one of us. There was a lot talking like always at the front. Everyone learning about each other. One of the reasons for the talk he to see who the legit contenders were. It also passes the time. We were making jokes, enjoying the trail, and getting ready for the real work to begin. Devin and I were surprised by how small the lead pack was. There were some fast runners that had registered but didn’t show up. Somewhere around mile four we hit the first aid station. I drank some water and Gatorade and had a gel. Still felt good. The pace was still slow and everything was going great.

Photo By Dave Sullivan

Photo By Dave Sullivan

By mile six, everything went downhill. Started feeling nauseous. My legs were fine. Kept pushing forward, but I stopped talking as much. I was hoping it would pass. A little after eight miles, we hit the halfway aid station. I went straight for the pop, Devin had his parents there with his water, and the other runner with us took off down the trail without stopping and even picked up the pace. I knew he was trying to make a break. Aid stations at the best places to do that. Everyone can handle the pace, so tactics like that are used a lot in long races. Devin got out second and then I followed behind. We hit the single track section of the trail. My stomach was killing me and felt like I was going to throw up. We were flying through the single track. It was a lot like Imagination Glen, but without the roots. So it was really fun and easy to go fast. But as I climbed up one of the hills, I puked off to the side. It was a quick puke, but I all of a suddend felt like crap. We came out onto a gravel road that was a huge climb. Devin waited up for me at the top. The other guy was pulling away and I knew Devin didn’t want to let him go. I told him I wasn’t feeling well and told him to run his race. He said he hoped I recovered and then he took off after the guy.

Photo by Dave Sullivan

Photo by Dave Sullivan

Now I was alone for the rest of the lap. I could see them for a little while. But the issues were getting worse. I had to go to the restroom. I came out on one of the roads during the course and saw an outhouse. Stopped really quick and got going again. My stomach was destroyed at this point. Kept pushing forward. I got to the last aid station. I tried eating several things and drank some more pop. After this aid station (schoolhouse), there is a really steep down hill. I let myself fly down the hill and at the bottom, I puked up everything I had just ate and more. I was still keep an eight minte pace and made it back to the end of the first lap. A bunch of support was there. I let dave know that I was suffering and it was going to be a bad day. I headed straight to the restroom. Got out and Devin’s parents had my bag of stuff. I reached in a grabbed some gels and food to put in my bag. Dave and Tom followed me to the aid table. I got some Tums and drank some pop. Tom recommended some bananas and I ate one. Dave followed me a little up the hill and wished me luck or something. When I crest the hill, I puked up everything including the Tums. Luckily I took a couple extras. I ran for about a mile and puked again. I took the tums and drank some water. I decided to walk and see if I could recover.

Photo By Dave Sullivan

Photo By Dave Sullivan

I ended up walking the next three miles to the next aid station. Dave and Tom arrived there right when I got there. The gave me encourgement, I ate some more, went off at a walk and puked not a minute later. This is when I reached a bad moment in my head. Everything was lost. The day was going to be hell. I wasn’t going to acheive anything I wanted. All the training for this race down the drain. I was walking and I hadn’t even put in any hard effort. All because of catching the flu, my race plans were destroyed. I would have been ok if I had bonked beacuse of going out too hard or some other reason like that. I felt like I was cheated out my goals. I couldn’t fight it and at least give them a try. Runners were now passing me. Of course all were giving encouraging words and asking if I needed help. It’s so hard to say thank you when someone tells you great job when you know that you aren’t. I know it’s because they are good people and mean the best and I did appreciate it, but It also made everything seem even worse. One of the things I heard the most was “you always go through ups and downs in the race”, but they didn’t know I was down and done. I did manage to run a mile before the next aid, but right before I got there, I puked again. The rest of the loop I did some running and walking and a lot of puking.

Photo By Brenda Campbell

Photo By Brenda Campbell

I walked the whole last lap but the last 2.6 miles. I talked to a lot of runners during the lap and met a lot of people. I stayed positive while talking with them. I knew they were in their own race and doing great. I didn’t ant to come off as bitter or anything like that. It was hard because I had so much negativity going on in my head. My GPS battery had died at 37.5 miles, which was weird because that’s how far I ran at Dances With Dirt when I got lost. I had no idea where I was on the course until I hit aid stations. I spent time looking around off the trail. I remember passing a farm that had miniture horses, I saw these two massive swans in one of the lakes, lots of flowers beginning to bloom, and picked up a lot of trash. It was crazy how many runners were throwing there gels and other wrappers on the ground in the woods even after the race director had gave a lecture on it. It was hard to keep going and knowing that there was nothing I could do about how I felt. I finished with a time of 10 hours 14 minutes 16 seconds.

Photo by Brenda Campbell

Photo by Brenda Campbell

Photo By Dave Sullivan

Photo By Dave Sullivan

Now if you have read this to this point and are thinking that what I did was great, I would stop reading and not finish this. I’m going to share what I really feel in a honest and really not in a way that most of the running community would want to read. I’ve been running for 23 years and I don’t know a runner who loves running more than I do. I love everything about it. You can find runners who love certain aspects such as the social, loneliness, challenge, finishing, competiveness, or being a fan of all of it. Very rarely now days can you find a runner that Loves it all. So when you say the things I’m about to share, some people get offended or even have the opinion that your way of thinking is wrong and what you do is wrong. It’s extremely annoying when people just can’t let others run and be happy for their own reasons. It’s basically, you can love to run but only if it’s for the same reason I run. My goal was to win the race and to run a fast times. My goal wasn’t to finish. I knew I could finish, I know I could finish 100 miles. I will finish 100 miles when I feel like I can run a good time for me. The challenge was to do the best to my ability. To push myself to a limit of wanting to give up, yet keep on going and run strong. I’m not elite, I’m not sub-elite, I’m just a runner who likes to compete as hard as I can. I love training. Running hard through the dunes, on the roads, or anywhere. I put everything I had into training for this race. Sacrificed a lot to be the best I could be. So when I get sick a few days before, I feel cheated. I didn’t finish the race to say I could finish. I finished because I was frustrated and mad. Knowing I could have won, knowing I was in shape to run fast, yet something I couldn’t control derailed everything. The weather was perfect, the course was perfect, and I was anything but. I was frustrated and mad for almost the whole race. People get upset when the see an Olympian who wins silver or bronze not happy with their performance. It’s always like, why can’t they just be happy. It’s crazy how many people can’t understand how much that athlete worked for one goal. Of course I’m not even on the same planet as an Olympian, but on a smaller scale I put everything into this race. Of course I should be disappointed. I know many understand. I will find another race and make up for this epic fail. I am thankful for everyone giving encouragement and the support I recieved at the race. I didn’t run well, I didn’t do anything special, I finished and that was it. I’m really disappointed and frustrated. That’s ok though. There isn’t anything from the race I can use or learn from. Can’t learn anything from racing with the flu. Taking a week off and decide what my next race is. Hopefully in a few days I won’t feel so disappointed. It is ok to feel disappointed though.

Year In Racing 2013

“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree”
― Haruki Murakami

It’s been a fun year of running and racing. I’ve run everything from 1 mile trail races to getting lost in a 50k and finishing with 37.5 miles. Races have been on roads, trails, and cross country courses. I’ve also been able to meet a lot of new friends this year and have been inspired by many. A lot of the races were used as workouts, but still love being in the competition a lot. Most importantly, I dabled in some longer races this year and had some pretty good success. Next year, I’m going to try going even longer. Thank you to everyone who has supported my running all year.

Overall Calumet Region Striders

Overall Calumet Region Striders

1st Place Overall XYZ Trail Series

1st Place Overall XYZ Trail Series

Siberian Express Trail Run
10th OVERALL 49:04 1032 John Borman 6:35 pace

Valentines 5k
14th Overall John Borman 35 M 1st age group 17:53 5:46 pace

Frozen Frenzy 4 Miler Trail
1st Overall John Borman 29:46
a foot
8th Annual Foot Pursuit 5K Run-Trail
2nd Overall John Borman 35 M 1st age group 35-39 20:42 6:41 pace

St. Paul’s Spirit Run 5k
2nd Overall John Borman 35 M 1 age group 35-39 17:50.0 5:45 pace

13th Annual Runnin’ with the Irish
2nd Overall John Borman 35 M 1 age group 35-39 17:29 5:38 pace

Clinton Lake 30 Mile Trail Race
5th Overall John Borman 35m 1 age group 4:02:39

Hanna’s Hopscotch 5K Run
1st Overall John Borman 35m 1 age group 17:07 6:07pace

Marie and I with Jose Lopez

Marie and I with Jose Lopez

Most Egg-celent 5K Run
1st Overall John borman 35 M 1 age group 16:42 5:23pace
a wolf
a dyn
Dyngus Day Dash 5K
1st Overall John Borman 35M 17:40
Friends painted this so I wouldn't get lost. Ringing in Spring

Friends painted this so I wouldn’t get lost. Ringing in Spring

2013 Ringing in Spring
9th Overall John Borman 35M 2 age group 18:00 5:48pace
Jake and I in the first mile at Crossroads

Jake and I in the first mile at Crossroads

2013 Crossroads Marathon and Half Marathon
2nd Overall John Borman 35M 1st age group 35-39 3:00:59 6:54pace
Got to on training run with Benson and Benard several times during the Spring

Got to on training run with Benson and Benard several times during the Spring

Apple Tree Orchard 10 Mile Run
3rd Overall John Borman 35M 1st age group 35-39 1:01:09 6:07pace
Orchard 10 Mile

Orchard 10 Mile

Potato Creek Trail Runs Marathon
2nd Overall John Borman 35 M 2 age group 3:48:25 8:43/M (Ran 28.2 miles)
Me, Rose, and Don

Me, Rose, and Don

2013 Dances with Dirt GNAW BONE 50k
8th Overall John Borman 35M 1st age group 5:40:48 (Got lost and ran 37.5 miles)
Lots of Extra Mile Fun Runs

Lots of Extra Mile Fun Runs

Tryon Frams Trail 50k
2nd Overall John Borman 35M 4:21:53 (Got lost a few times)
^v SAME DAY v^
20th Annual Gallery Gallop
6th Overall John Borman 35 M 1 age group 35-39 36:48 6:58pace
Whitewolf and MorningSun  So glad I got to meet these two this year.

Whitewolf and MorningSun So glad I got to meet these two this year.

2013 Black Cat Strut 5K
3rd Overall John Borman 35 M 1 age group 35-39 19:28
a trailrun
2013 Memorial Day Trail Run Xtreem
1st Overall John Borman 35 M 45:03

Yankee Springs Trail Runs
DNF Was signed up for the DoubleMarathon. Dropped out at Marathon 26.2 Miles Time: 4 Hours on the dot

2013 Field Station Frenzy
1st Overall John Borman 35 M 18:00 5:48pace

Tiki Torch Run 10k
1st Overall John Borman 35 M Top 35:54 5:47pace

2013 Munster Rotary Run-A-Round 5K
5th Overall John Borman 35 M 1st age group 35-39 2 17:57 5:47pace
^v SAME DAY v^
2013 Munster Rotary Run-A-Round 10K
4th Overall John Borman 35 M 1 age group 35-39 39:39 6:24pace

Extra Mile One Mile Time Trial
3rd Overall John Borman 35 M 5:06

Jennie Hamilton Memorial 5 Mile Trail
1st Overall John Borman Male 30-39 31:27

3rd Place Overall Team 24 Hour Relay

3rd Place Overall Team 24 Hour Relay

24 Hours at Sunset Relay
3rd Overall Team Midwest Insurance Agency 23:48:16 7:26/M 192 Total Miles

33rd Annual Brickyard Run 5 Mile Run
14th Overall John Borman 35 M 1st age group 35-39 29:02 5:48pace

2013 Nativity Catholic Church Festival 5K Run
2nd Overall John Borman 35 M 1st age group 35-39 17:56 5:47pace

Epic Mile Duel with Dave. Beers to celebrate

Epic Mile Duel with Dave. Beers to celebrate

Extra Mile One Mile Challange
12th Overall John Borman 35 M 2nd age group 35-39 5 5:02

2013 Running Wild for the Zoo 5k
4th Overall John Borman 35m 1st age group 18:20 5:55pace

Friendship Race

Friendship Race

2013 Friendship Run 5k
2nd Overall John Borman 35M 1st age group 17:49 5:45pace

15th Annual Buckley 5-Mile Run
16th Overall John Borman 35M 1st age group 30:26 6:05pace

With my Nephews.

With my Nephews.

2XTreme 10 Mile Trail Run
1st Overall John Borman 1:10:54 63

Bride Of ZOY 15K Trail Run
2nd Overall John Borman 1:04:05

Training in Valpo. Always see someone I know

Training in Valpo. Always see someone I know

Run Dirty 10K Trail Race
2nd Overall John Borman 35M 1st age group 38:05.3 6:08pace

33rd Annual Rotary Ramble 5K
14th Overall John Borman 35M 1st age group 35-39 17:13 5:33pace

2013 Valpo 5 Miler
1st Overall John Borman 35 M 28:52 5:46pace

Marie and I at the Ice Cream Race

Marie and I at the Ice Cream Race

Nielsen’s I Scream for 13.1 & 5K
1st Overall John Borman 35m 1:18:51 6:01pace

2013 Blueberry Stomp 15k
7th Overall John Borman 35M 1st age group 35-39 57:03 6:08pace

2013 Popcorn Panic 5 Mile
8th Overall John Borman 35M 2nd age group 35-39 28:52 5:46pace

2013 Tower Run 8k
1st Overall John Borman 35M 31:38 6:21pace

Run into Fall 10k

Run into Fall 10k

2013 Run Into Fall 10K
2nd Overall John Borman 3786 35M 1st age group 35-39 35:49 5:52pace
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Crazy Legs Trail Half-Marathon
2nd Overall John Borman 35M 1st age group 1:36
2013 Tri-Town Half Marathon
3rd Overall John Borman 35M 1st age group 35-39 1:21:11 6:12pace

Salt Creek Shuffle 5k
1st Overall John Borman 35M 18:03

Halfway through the Chicago Marathon

Halfway through the Chicago Marathon

Chicago Marathon
422nd Overall Borman, John 02:51:33422
Split Time Diff min/mile miles/h
5K 00:19:13 19:13 06:11 9.71
10k 00:38:24 19:11 06:11 9.72
15K 00:57:43 19:19 06:13 9.65
20K 01:16:58 19:15 06:12 9.69
HALF 01:21:19 04:21 06:24 9.38
25K 01:36:34 15:15 06:17 9.55
30K 01:56:49 20:15 06:32 9.20
35K 02:21:28 24:39 07:56 7.57
40K 02:42:25 20:57 06:45 8.90
Finish 02:51:33 09:08 06:42 8.96

2013 Run for the Roses 5k
3rd Overall John Borman 35M 1st age group 35-39 17:30 5:39pace

Hero Half Marthon
4th Overall John Borman 35M 1st age group 35-39 1:23:31 6:20pace

2013 Manda’s Race 5k
8th Overall John Borman 35M 2nd age group 17:44 5:43pace

Start of Dawn of the Dunes on tv

Start of Dawn of the Dunes on tv

Dawn of the Dunes 1/2 Marathon
1st Overall John Borman 35M 1:22:46 6:19pace
Panther Pounce 10k

Panther Pounce 10k

10th Annual PNC Panther Pounce
4th Overall John Borman 35M 1st age group 35-39 37:24 6:02pace
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2013 Valpo Half Marathon
5th Overall John Borman 35M 1st age group 35-39 1:21:41 6:14pace

11th Annual Valparaiso Turkey Trot 10k
19th Overall John Borman 35M 3rd age group 35-39 37:44 6:05pace

Jake, Devin, and I before the start

Jake, Devin, and I before the start

Twisted Turkey Trail Run Marathon
2nd Overall John Borman 35M 3:03:48 (Short Course) (Extremely Muddy)

XYZ “Finale” 4 Mile Trail Race
1st Overall John Borman Open 0:28:14 (Really it was a tie with Devin)


“Of course it was painful, and there were times when, emotionally, I just wanted to chuck it all. But pain seems to be a precondition for this kind of sport. If pain weren’t involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part in sports like the marathon, which demand such an investment of time and energy? It’s precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive–or at least a partial sense of it. Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking, but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself.”
― Haruki Murakami

a twisted

“I’m not doing the race because I don’t want to get hurt.” “Too many roots out there.” “The hills are too steep and too many hills.” “Too dangerous if it’s muddy.” “I twisted my ankle once out there.” “Those trails are way too hard to run a marathon on.” These are a few of the excuses that some runners used to explain why they didn’t want to run in the most challenging trail race in the state of Indiana. Sure that’s just my opinion that I have come up with because of my experiences with Dances with Dirt and The Huff 50K. Some would put Tecumseh in there, but since Dances with Dirt has more elevation and on the same type of trails Tecumseh is on, it’s safe to say Twisted Turkey is harder. 2011 Huff 50k was harder than any trail race, but that was because of weather conditions. 2012 conditions were easier. So why am I starting off the race report making a case for Twisted Turkey as being the hardest trail race in the state? Because it is and it is the reason I wanted to race it. I love challenging courses and always have. In high school, my two favorite training runs were the Greeks Route and the Cowles Bog Route. Greeks was always done hard with three builds and Cowles Bog always turned into a race on the way out and way back on some really fun trails. Some runners prefer the fast and flat routes so they can run good times. Sure, I love to post some good times, but I prefer a good challenging race through difficult trails or with harsh weather conditions. I seem to run better the harder it gets. The same excuses runners were using for not running were some of the reasons I used to convince myself to race. Of course I didn’t want to get injured, but then again most of the runners I know right now that are injured didn’t get injured running trails, but from running on roads. I planned on signing up for Tecumseh this year until race director, Tom Taylor, told me about Twisted Turkey. It took me a couple days to decide that Twisted Turkey was a tougher challenge and I emailed Tom and let him know I was in.

After only his first run on the trails at Imagination Glen, it didn’t take much to convince Devin to signup also. So now I had a training partner to get ready for the same race which always helps. We did four training runs together at Imagination Glen and ran together about four to five times a week. Sam joined us for one of the runs at the Glen and I was also able to get in a training run out there with the Twisted Turkey preview run. Just over two weeks before race day, Devin and I had a great 20 mile run out there. Even though we each fell and recieved some good cuts, we both felt ready to go for the marathon. The race website had a list of the runners entered in the marathon. One of my biggest flaws is that I like knowing who I’m racing against and it really messes with my mind. There were some really fast guys listed. But I still kept my main goal of WINNING.

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a bass 1

The Buzz for the race was huge. Tom had packet pickup at the restaurant in Bass Pro, which was fantastic. Dave Sullivan, Wolfhound Racing founder, had professional tri-athlete Guy Petruzzelli come to the event. At the pre-race dinner, Guy gave a great talk about defining moments and some of the obsticals he has overcome to be the oldest professional tri-athlete in the United States even after some had told him because of serious injuries he may not be able to reach the top again. Really motivating and it was nice to have a professional athlete support a race in NWI.

Pre-race dinner

Pre-race dinner

Guy, Me, Dave, and Diane

Guy, Me, Dave, and Diane

RACE MORNING. Race day finally arrived. Woke up around 6:30am. Came out of the bedroom and saw Devin awake on the floor that he slept on. Our couch is a little too small for him. Asked him if he wanted to shower first and he said go ahead. Marie took the first shower, then me, then Devin. I had everthing layed out the night before, but of course I always load up on extra clothes just in case. Had a Powerbar for breakfast and drank some GuBrew. I have found GuBrew is the best on my stomach. Had everything just about ready to go. Threw in a few scoops of blistershield into my socks and was ready to go. Devin was driving seperate since he had to work at the running store after the race. Poor guy. Plus, he wanted to stop at Dunkin Donuts to pick up a bagel. Marie and I got the car loaded and headed off to the race listening to some good ol country music.

Devin and I on race morning

Devin and I on race morning

Marie and I arrived at the park about an hour before the start. Marie was just as excited as I was since she would be racing the 5k with Kellie. We sat in the car with the heat on since it was about 30 degrees out. I put my number on, took a few drinks, listened to some music, and got into a racing mindset. About 40 minutes before the start, I found Devin to do our easy warmup. Our plan was to check out the rollers since it had been worked on the week before and some boardwalk was added. We ran real slow to The Dark Side. First thing I thought was that it looked harder now. The downhills were a little sketchy looking. But after getting a full look at it all, I realized that it was a lot easier than before. With the boardwalk, the bad footing was now good footing. We headed back to the Front Side. We saw the lines for the Port-a-Pot getting long, so we headed there first. While in line, someone said there was another on the other side of the soccer field. So Devin and I started to run over there. Nobody challenged us in the race to the port-a-pot, so no line. Victory for the day. Used the restroom and headed back to the car for final prep. Grabbed my bag of gels and a bottle of water mixed with GuBrew and took it over to the aid station that was located about the halfway mark. I didn’t want anyone to take it, so I placed it under the table. Went back to the car, got my racing singlet on, and sat in the car until just before the start. I wanted to stay as warm as I could as long as I could. About 10 minutes before the start, I headed over. Saw a few friends, wished them luck and we were about ready to start. Then Tom announced how the course had to be changed because there was a fallen tree on the course and no way around. Well, I didn’t see the tree, so I can’t say for sure. But right before a race, changing a course 100% of the time is not good. It’s a trail race and there is always a way around. Whether it’s the lead runners making a path during the race, or running a little extra around, having a course longer than shorter is always better. Because of the course change, the race ended up being about 2.5 miles short. Lesson learned. Never change a course last second. The Huff 50k showed in 2011, that runners will always find a way. The decision was made and those running the marathon would still all be racing the same distance as everyone else. Still a start line and a finish line, just shorter distance in between. One thing I did notice was that there were runners who were signed up but not at the start line. So the front pack was going to be smaller. Talked a little with Jake, who was the fastest marathoner in the field. Talked a little with Sam and Thomas who were both doing the half. Also talked with Don and Dave who were doing the marathon and were also a couple of the fast runners that would be up front. After hearing a few confusing instructions on the new section of the course, we were ready to start.

Jake, Devin, and I before the start

Jake, Devin, and I before the start

There was a cool 10 second countdown and then we were off. Seemed like right away nobody wanted to take the lead, so I went up front and Devin came up beside me. Right away a front pack formed. Devin (marathon), Jake (marathon), Sam (half-marathon), Thomas (half-marathon), and Jon (marathon). We were doing a little talking early on. I introduced Sam to Jake. We all shared our opinions on the new loop added into the race because of the change. It was a pretty relaxed start, which is how most trail marathons begin. The added loop was around the soccer and softball fields on the Front Side. All flat and in grass.
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We passed by the start/finish line and ran through the sand volleyball court. We all laughed about the sand and how we didn’t know we were dune running. It was great to have such a chilled start. When we got onto the Iron Horse Heritage Trail, we were running just under 7 minute pace and it felt real easy. We crossed the bridge to The Dark Side. I wanted to be leading when we got to the Roller Coaster, so I pushed it a little when we got on the flat trail. Devin and I were still in the lead, but the pack was still together. Devin let me take the lead heading down the first steep hill and we all single-filed out. I wanted to sort of push it through this section because I didn’t want anyone feeling comfortable through it. That ended quick when I got to the top of one of the hills and forgot we were supposed to turn left. That bunched everyone up again. On the next hill, Sam passed me by and I let Devin go also. The plan of pushing it through there was gone. We all navigated the up and down hills and over the boardwalks with no problem.

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We came out of the trails as a tight pack and in no time at all the group exploded. Jake took the lead and dropped the pace. Devin and I had talked about this the day before. I told him this was were the fast guys were going to use their speed to pull away. We both looked at each other while crossing the parking lot as Jake pulled away and laughed a little. Sam fell back a bit. I heard him ask Jon what race he was in and Jon told him the marathon. Sam then told him he better go with us. It made me laugh a little because I knew that Sam wasn’t going to be coming with, but why the heck was he telling the other guy to go. We rounded the backside of the soccer field and Jake already had about a 20 second lead on us. He stopped for a second at the water station just ahead and we caught right back up to him. We rounded the field and Dave Sullivan pointed us back into the trail. Right away Jake put in another surge and pulled away. Devin let me go ahead of him and we followed a little behind Jake. While rounding one of the sharp turns that was covered in leaves, Jake took a fall. He got up quick and that’s when I noticed he had trail shoes on, but not ones with good traction for mud. Devin and I looked at each other and knew some of our pre-race talk was going to happen. We knew Jake was going to pull ahead and we knew if we kept an even pace, we would pull in anyone who went out too hard. Besides that trails were going to be muddy on the second loop, the continuous up and downs and turns would take it’s toll on everyone.

Jake started pulling away again. I told Devin if he wanted to pass to let me know. He said he would wait until after the hills. So at this point, it was Jake in the lead by about 15 seconds, then me and Devin, with Jon right behind. Nobody else was in sight behind Jon. The section we were running on is called Bobal Ridge. It’s a bunch of up and down hills with a great view over the little valley to Rich’s Revenge. Right before we reached the 180 degree turn on the East Ridge, the trail was closed off to have us run in between two trees that had a bunch of logs to jump over. So this cracked Devin and I up. On all our training runs, we went through the trees. Devin said that would make race day much easier when we could go around. We found it hilarious that we had to jump it anyway. Of course that is more fun than going around. So by this point, Jake had a bigger lead and was still pulling away. I knew it would be better for Devin to go after him now. So I stepped off the trail and made him go by. That sparked Devin, because it only took him a couple minutes to catch him. While going through Rich’s Revenge, I could see them on the switchbacks. I also got to see Sam, Don, and Dave as they were making their way through the trails. A little before we left Rich’s Revenge, Jon passed me at a really good pace. First thing I noticed was that he was wearing racing flats. I knew that it was going to be rough for him once the trails got muddy. Also through these trails, I passed a women who was wearing a bib#. I asked her what she was running and she said the marathon. She said she got lost. I still have no idea how she could have made it this far into the trail even if she had gotten lost. Craziness.

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With the ease that Jon went by me and with Devin and Jake still way up ahead, I wasn’t feeling all that great. My confidence started dropping. I felt like I was going a decent pace, but they were still pulling away. As I was running the Upper Pipeline, I could see all three ahead on the Switchbacks. Thoughts that I was going to get 4th, that I wasn’t going to catch up, and that it was going to be a long day running alone were going through my head. Through the Switchbacks, I was fighting these negative thoughts. It was a marathon and anything could happen. I decided while leaving the Switchbacks, that I would surge and pull them in closer. I know it was against my game plane, but I was a little scared that I wouldn’t see them again. I couldn’t see them when I first entered Log Jam. I picked up my pace and rounded all the corners with a good pace. Reached the flat part of Log Jam and could see all three. Jon was just behind the two and I could see that Devin had taken the lead. I was really happy to see that. It gave me more confidence that I could still get them. I picked it up more. I saw Jon fall off their pace a little and that gave me more confidence. I love Log Jam because it really destroys rythym because of the sharp continuous turns. While running down the hill out of Log Jam, I could see all three guys not more than 20 seconds ahead. We were now in The Basement. The Basement is completely flat, but it’s single track and it was already muddy. I was slowly pulling in Jon, but I noticed the other two were pulling away. I finally caught Jon as we headed up the steep climb out of The Basement. When we reached the top, there was tape going across the trail. I knew we were supposed to go that way. The other trail lead back to where we just came from. There were some mountain bike riders on the trail and they said the other two runners had gone under the tape, so that’s what we did. The only thought of what could have happened was that one of the mountain bikers had moved the tape. I found out after the race that Don and Dave moved it to the right place when they got there, which probably prevented a whole lot of runners going the wrong way.

We ran along the Balcony and jumped over some logs. We reached the hill to head down to Far Creek Run. It’s a really steep hill and I was used to running up it, not down it. I hit a mud patch not to far from the top and almost fell. Not sure how I caught myself. Jon took the hill really slow, so I pulled a little ahead of him. It was cool to see some runners on the other side of the creek. It had only been the four of us for awhile. I then realized that there hadn’t been a aid station by the trailer park and I hadn’t taken a gel yet. I took a gel and thought that on the second loop, it was going to be tough going that long without water. The trails along Far Creek Run were already a little muddy and knew the second loop it was going to be really bad. Around one of the bends, I saw Jake and Devin. They had about a 45 second lead on me. Not too bad in a marathon. As I was coming out of Far Creek Run, I could see them running back over the bridge to Front Side. Got up onto the Iron Horse and tried to knock some of the mud off my shoes. Some came off, but not all. Every footplant along the sidewalk felt weird with the mud on the shoes. Grabbed a cup of Gatorade from the water station and headed down the trail to Near Creek Run. Right away I saw that I had gotten closer to Devin and Jake. The trails were muddy but I could still hold a good pace on them. Went around Daytona and headed up the hill. By this time of the race, I was starting to feel really good. The two in front didn’t have too big of a lead and thought I could catch back up.

Came out of the trails and headed around the softball and soccer fields. Devin now had about the same gap back to Jake, that I had behind Jake. When I rounded the soccer field, I saw Paul Danger. It was cool to see him. He wasn’t sure he would make it. He started yelling at me “you are all winners, you are all winners”. Made me laugh hard. We rounded back pass the start/finish area and there was a nice group cheering us on.
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I headed back into the woods down the hill into the Lil’ Dipper section. These trails were covered in leaves, But Devin and I had ran them several times with the leaves on them. Just had to watch my step and land flat foot so I wouldn’t trip. Went through Zig Zag and into Spaghetti Hill. While coming up on a turn, I saw two runners coming from a trail we don’t run down. They asked me how I got where I was, “I followed the signs, tape, and the correct trails”. They asked which way to go. I was kind of irrated just because I was trying to pay attention to footing and I was thinking in my head that there was no reason they could have gotten lost if they were doing the half or the full. The course was clearly marked from the direction they had come. I told them “go back the way you came, then go the right way.” As I said that, I hit a stump and went hard to the ground. Af first I got mad, then I saw I had re-opened a cut that I had gotten a few weeks ago. I got up and took off in a sprint becuase I knew that would calm me down. While continuing on the along the trail, I was trying to figure out how they got there. It didn’t make any sense to me. I know the area and where they came from, there had been tape across that trail and even a volunteer telling the runners where to go. Made absolutely no sense. While thinking about it, I realized the pain in my knee went away and I was moving at a good pace. Finally made it to the halfway aid station. I had taken 3 gels on the first loop and only had 2 left in the bag I had stashed. I grabbed those and grabbed my water bottle with GuBrew. I took my gloves off and my hat and put them into the bag. It was warming up pretty quick and I had a good sweat going. All this took about 20 seconds or so and I was back off running. A few quick turns on the trail and then I came up to a spot where I didn’t know which way to go. I found out after the race that Devin and Jake had gone .09 out of the way on the wrong trail. I stopped and waited for Jon to catch up. We picked a trail to go down which happened to be the right one. This was the only time on the whole course that I wasn’t sure exactly where to go, but if I had gone the wrong way, it wouldn’t have been much. Other than that, the whole course was perfect and couldn’t understand why some runners had gotten loss in the half or full. Jon and I started running again. I was a little irretated and he was upset. He said “I pick my first trail marathon and it’s not marked”. I totally understood what he was saying. You don’t know what to expect in your first one and to have to stop for a minute could scare you a little. We both relaxed and got back to racing. Now knowing it was his first one, I was a little more confident that I could beat him.

We ran passed Paul and I yelled to him how to drive to the other side. He had never been to the park before. After the race, I found he had to leave back home before going to the other side. We got back on Iron Horse to go over to the Dark Side again. When I passed the aid station, I asked Jim if he could put my water bottle on the table. I knew I would need it again when I came back around. It was kind of funny. Instead of reaching out to grab a water, I was reaching out to hand him a water. It was a successful handoff too. I could see Jake up ahead not too far, but didn’t see Devin. I thought it was the time to make a move and pull them back. I entered the trails to start the Roller Coaster again. I knew Jake would be running it kind of easy since he was strugggling with footing because of his shoes. I hit hard. I knew I could make up a lot of ground this way. I was feeling really good flying down the hills and back up. By the time I came out of the trails to go around the soccer fields, I saw I had made a huge dent into the lead Jake had on me. But I didn’t see Devin right away. Then I looked across the field and could see he was way ahead. I marked the time when I saw him and when I got to the same spot, he had just over a 2 minute lead on me. I was quickly catching Jake around the soccer fields. I thought I was going to have to use the trails to get him, but catching him around the field gave me a lot of confidence. When I got back on the trail, it only took a minute before I was back up to him. As we rounded the corner that he had fallen at on the first loop I told him I was passing on the right. He moved over and I still went a little off the trail to make sure he had plenty of room. As I went by I put in a surge. I didn’t know how he was feeling and I didn’t want him to latch on. I pulled away from him pretty quickly. After the race while talking to him, he said he had fallen three times and decided he didn’t want to get hurt. So he went slow the rest of the race. Not too long after I passed him, I saw Devin on another trail. He yelled over “did you pass him”. With a big smile, I said yes. I sort of wanted to make him a little nervous because I was coming after him next. I realized after the race, that only made him pick up the pace.

I was still feeling pretty good. But I also knew that I was going to go a long time without water. I only had two gels left and I should have already taken at least five by this time of the race, especially on trails. Going through Rich’s Revenge, I could see that Devin was increasing his lead. But I also saw behind me that I was increasing mine on Jake and Jon. The first time through Rich’s Revenge, it was a little muddy, but mostly frozen. Going through this time, it was all mud. Real slick mud. On the turns and hills I was being real careful not to fall. I had a few almost-falls but straightened myself out by either going off trail or finding dry ground. I was doing great. While going down one of the few straight sections in Rich’s Revenge, I was paying attention and hit a really muddy patch. Feet flew in front of me. I twisted in the air and slammed to the ground hitting my knew on a root. I gave out a yell of not so nice words. I layed on the ground almost in a panic. Was I going to be able to finish? How bad was I hurt? Anything broken? I looked down and saw the blood and thought the worst. I slowly stood myself up. I bent down to look at it. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a runner and I started running. It took me a second to realize they were about three minutes behind because of the way the trail was. The knee hurt but I kept running. My pace really slowed. I was afraid the knee was going to get worse. When I had fallen a few weeks before, the pain in the knee went away quick, this time it wasn’t. I wanted to keep moving because I knew I had a big lead on the next runner. Going up and down Hyde’s Hills was extremely slow because I didn’t want to fall again.

On the Upper Pipeline I started yelling at myself. I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to win so bad. I knew there were a few people who didn’t want me to win. The way they were treating me leading up to the race. Not telling me good luck, yet telling the runners around me good luck. I don’t know why they never congratulate me when I do well. It is a select group that just loves when I don’t do well or only talk to me or comment on my stuff when they disagree me or need something in return. It’s the same people that will always say down when I say up. All this stuff was going through my head. I was getting angry at myself that these people were going to be right. That I’m not as good as I want to be. I slammed my left foot on the ground hard. It was the same leg that I hurt. I wanted the pain to go away. I was reaching the point that I wanted to walk. Next to Upper Pipeline is the trailer park. Seeing that didn’t help. Maybe those people are right about me. I grew up poor and maybe I’m not supposed to succeed. I doubt myself a lot in races and I was really doubting myself at this time. I was now feeling tired and could feel the miles of the race taking its toll along with my knee hurting. I yelled at myself a few times rounding the corners of Switchback. Right before I reached the last turn on the East side of Switchback, I told myself not to give up. I decided to pick up the pace. The knee should stop hurting after awhile. I put in a surge. I was on a mission to catch Devin. When I got to Log Jam, the trails were total mud. I did my best to stay on the outside of the trails and stay out of the middle. I was finally moving at a good pace. I wasn’t feeling good though. The pace might have been great, but it was taking everything I had to keep it. I looked over and could see Devin just leaving Log Jam. I marked the spot, looked at my time, and when I reached the same spot, he had about two and a half minutes on me. I could still get him. I flew into the Basement. I couldn’t see him at all. I rounded all the turns wide to keep out of the mud as much as possible. I passed a couple of runners who were still on their first lap. They moved aside and urged me on. On the hill out of The Basement, I charged it hard. But once I got to the top, I regreted that. My legs were really hurting now. Kept moving along the trail. When I reached the downhill to Far Creek Run, I saw the whole hill was mud. I saw that it was dry on the right side just off the trail. There were leaves and branches, but it looked safer than the mud. Hit the bottom of the trail and headed towards the river. I saw several runners again across the river. The trail was all mud. Not a dry spot on it. Slowly my shoes got caked in mud. On the bridges I tried to knock it off, but it really didn’t work. The mud got so thick on the bottom of my shoes, that the arch of my feet started hurting.

Everything was starting to shut down. My pace started slowing and I knew that it was going to be a struggle the rest of the race. Struggling to the finish isn’t anything new to me this year. Several of the long trail races I’ve done this year have been tough the last 4-5 miles. I hadn’t seen Devin in a long time. I knew he was pulling away. He was being hunted and he didn’t want to be caught. Having trained with him the last several months, I know he has a lot of heart and won’t give up. I had to have a perfect race if I was going to beat him. Today it wasn’t going to happen. I reached the aid station after the bridge on Iron Horse. I drank my bottle of GuBrew. I should have grabbed some food or more to drink, but I just wanted to finish. Before entering the trail again, I stopped and looked back to see if anyone else had come up the other side of the bridge. Nobody did. I slowly ran down the hill. It’s the hardest thing to push the pace when your goal is not going to be reached. I wasn’t moving fast at all. I reached the Near Creek Run. After a couple turns, I saw Don across the river. I yelled “Go Don” a couple times until he looked over. Not too long after that I saw Jake on the other side. That meant Don had passed him. I yelled over to him. He yelled back and said he fell 3 times. I told him I had fallen twice. Seeing him still running and working through the race made me think. On any other course, Jake would destroy me along with the rest of us. He is an amazing runner. I had no idea what he was thinking about during his last few miles. But he was going to finish. I wasn’t thinking about how I was going to beat Jake Gillette, I was thinking Jake Gillette was still going to push through on a bad day and that I should think more positive. I knew before the race that there was going to be a lot of carnage from the front group. In trail racing, that’s how it always goes. The goal is to break the other runners the best way you can. Devin had broken us all and was going to win. Sure the time was going to be a huge gap, but front runners know that time gap is only because of a few moments during a race where you made the decision to either go or not go. Maybe if I had gone with Devin when I let him pass me, the whole race would have been different. What if I had decided to give up after the hard fall? Simple moments during a race can make the outcome of a race seem much more dramatic. Like what Guy Petruzzelli had said the night before at the dinner about making those choices that define you. I came up out of Daytona and saw Phil and Jeff at the top of the hill. They told me I was doing great and to keep pushing hard.
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I rounded the softball and soccer fields. I knew my pace wasn’t fast, but I was moving forward and that was all I need to do. I had looked across the field to try and see where Devin was at. He had already gone back in the woods. I ran past the start/finish before heading into the woods again. There were a lot of people there now that the half and 5k runners were done. Heard a lot of encouraging words and I kept on running.
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I headed back into the woods for the last time. My pace was over 9 minutes a mile at this point. Having been around 7 for a lot of the race, this was not very fast for me. Kept moving. On the downhills and uphills, I made sure I didn’t fall. Passed a few more runners who were on their first lap. When I reached the last aid station, I stopped and drank two cups of water. Of course it made no sense to stop because I only had about three more minutes of running left.
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I made my way around the final turn and picked up the pace into the finish line. 2nd Overall with a time of 3:03 and a distance of close to 23.5 miles. a bass finisha bass finish 1a bass finish 2

2nd and 1st Overall

2nd and 1st Overall

It was a really tough race mentally and physically. Had a lot of fun and a ton of struggle. But these are the type of races that keep me going. To keep training and keep trying to do well at these tough races. A lot of people will say “at least you finished”. But that’s not where I’m at right now in running. I’m never going to be an elite or anything like that, but I’m in the stage of running where competing hard is what is driving me. Of course I don’t think finishing first would make me a better person than the runner who finishes last. I didn’t win Twisted Turkey and I’m a little disappointed in myself. But that’s ok to want to keep doing better. We all have different goals. Nobody’s goals are more important than anyone elses. Going to use the experiences from today to hopefully make the Huff 50k go better.
Finisher Awards

Finisher Awards

Congratulations to everyone who raced the Twisted Turkey 5k, 13.1, and 23.5. It was a fantastic event for the first year and I know Tom will only improve on the race. I would recommend this race to everyone. It is a challenge, but that only makes the finish that much sweeter.
Lunch celebration. Don 4th Overall and Dave 7th Overall

Lunch celebration. Don 4th Overall and Dave 7th Overall

Overall Name Age Gend AG Place Time Pace
1 Devin Clark 18 M 1 Top 2:56:29.8
2 John Borman 35 M 2 Top 3:03:48.9
3 Jon Okenfuss 20 M 3 Top 3:11:13.8
4 Don Robb 33 M 1 30-39 3:15:02.6
5 Jake Gillette 27 M 1 20-29 3:16:02.9
6 Michael Nelson 45 M 1 40-49 3:22:55.3
7 David Bernard 38 M 2 30-39 3:24:32.8
8 Jay Marshall 47 M 2 40-49 3:30:45.7
9 Tommy Ferry 36 M 3 30-39 3:35:19.7
10 Aaron Pleitner 26 M 2 20-29 3:46:26.1

Twisted Training


“The obsession with running is really an obsession
with the potential for more and more life.”
– Dr. George Sheehan

Scheduling a vacation day to get in a long run on the trails may sound like a waste of a free day to a non-runner. To those who run, they understand. Long runs are the most important runs when it comes to training for a marathon or longer race. With just over two weeks until the Twisted Turkey and knowing Devin didn’t have to be in class until 12:30, we planned on a 15-20 mile run at Imagination Glen. We arrived just before 8am with temps around 30 degrees and a good wind blowing, it was a bit nippy out to start.

We started on the Front Side at the Trail Head. We weren’t sure if we were overdressed, so we decided to do a short loop back to the car in case we needed to drop anything off. Headed out past Shelter Skelter and right away I was feeling a little tired from all the running lately. The pace wasn’t the goal today, just the distance. Followed the trail through Spaghetti Hill. The trails were covered in big oak tree leaves. Hard to see the roots and a few times on the Front Side, it was hard to see where the trail was. But loved running on them. I started feeling a little more fluid going through Zig Zag and Little Dipper. Devin was leading the way as we went around Daytona. Daytona had no leaves on the trails and the ground was frozen. Really easy to run on and continued that way all along Near Creek Run.



It was a little breezy out of the West and in the open areas, we could really feel it. After Near Creek Run, we stopped back at the car. Made sure we had what we needed before heading over to the East Side. Before going over to the other side, we hit Pennisula and hopped onto the Iron Horse Heritage Trail and crossed the bridge to The Dark Side.


Followed the trail down to the creek and ran Far Creek Run passed Beaver Pond, over Marsh Bridge all along the creek. While going through a few of the turns, we saw about six deer laying down off to the side of the trail. I hadn’t seen that many deer doing that in the wild before. They are alwasy standing or running away. I’m sure they were hitting the snooze button because it was a little late in the morning. It was pretty cool though. Trails were all frozen on this part of the trail and it was great to run on. We still hadn’t picked up the pace much. Just a good steady pace. Climbed the hill up to The Balcony and then dropped down into The Basement. Surprised that it was dry all the way through except for one small muddy puddle that we were able to jump. By this time of the run, it wasn’t cold anymore. It was perfect for running. Headed out of The Basement up to Trailer Run. We turned into Log Jam and did a quick loop through the very swervy twisted trails. Came out and went through Switchback to Upper Pipelines through Hyde’s 7 Hills. Then to my favorite part of the park, Rich’s Revenge.


By the time we had reached Rich’s Revenge, Devin had a few times of almost twisting his ankle and I had been fine with no close calls at all. Going down one of the hills through this section, Devin decided to bring back his baseball playing days and had a great slide down the hill. He got up right away and back to running. His knee hurt for a little while, but he said it wasn’t bad. A few minutes later we saw two deer running along the side of the trail. Got to love running on trails and seeing the wildlife.


Left Rich’s Revenge onto Speedy River past the East Ridge onto Bobal Ridge. The woods looked amazing through these sections. Sun was up and shining bright and everything was real Fall-like. Came out by the Practice Fields and back into the woods to Broken Arrow. Next up, the extremely difficult Roller Coaster. The pace was real slow through here. The trails covered in leaves and the steep up and downs were really sketchy. Made it through with no broken bones. Got back onto the Iron Horse Heritage Trail back to the Front Side. We did a tiny loop, then back to the car for some gels and water. Half the run was done. We both felt great and ready to go for the second half

We did basically the same loop for a second time. There were a couple areas we did a little different. Now on the first loop, Devin had fallen and had several times of almost twisting his ankle. He had lead almost the whole first loop. Now it was my turn to lead. Of course since I could now have a great view of the whole trail coming at me, I almost twisted my ankle a few times. On the second loop the trails had become a little muddy with the temps rising and the Sun shining. We kept the same pace going that we had the first loop. About 16 miles in we were back on Bobal Ridge. The leaves were thick and in some places there was now mud under the leaves. Devin was leading and I was following about five meters back. Going down one of the steep hills, both of my feet slipped on the mud and I caught myself from falling. I said something about it and while I was talking, I hit a root and went flying in the air. I nailed a little tree with my back and smacked the gound pretty hard. It scared me at first and I thought I was hurt bad. If you ask anyone I train with, I never fall on trails. I took a few deep breaths and saw the bloody knee. The back hurt, but I could tell it wasn’t too bad. It took me a couple minutes to get myself together and get up. Devin was very helpful by taking pictures.


The knee was throbbing the rest of the run. But I was happy my back wasn’t too bad. Of course Devin knew I wasn’t going to cut the run short. We still had 4 miles to go. We headed back over to the Front Side, did a loop around the Softball Fields, and a little part of the trail to get in 20 total for the day. I was so happy to be back after getting beat up by the trails.
DSC00405 The run was fantastic overall. We did a lot of talking about strategy for The Twisted Turkey. Noticed how the trail conditions changed pretty quick from lap to lap. We started about the same time the race will, which helped a lot. We know we will be concentrating more when we race and paying more attention to the trail instead of talking. It was my longest run on those trails and can’t wait to do the full marathon on it. It’s going to be an extremely hard course. We aren’t sure what kind of time can be run on it, but we are certain nobody is going to be breaking 3 hours.

Valpo 13.1 2013

It’s a Rather Blustery Day
“Oh the wind is lashing lusterly
And the trees are thrashing thrusterly
And the leaves are rustling gusterly
So it’s rather safe to say
That it seems that it may turn out to be
It feels that it will undoubteadly
Looks like a rather blustery day today
It seems that it may turn out to be
Feels that it will undoubteadly
Looks like a rather blustery day today”


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The 4th Annual Valpo 13.1 Race lived up to its reputation. For the fourth year in a row, wind was a major factor. With 15-20mph winds and sometimes gusts reaching 25, it was pretty rough. With the way the course is layed out, the worst of it was during the last six miles of the race. So basically only hurting you when you are already hurting from the distance. I’m sure there will be a year when the wind will stay away and there will be some really fast times run on the course. The course only has two hills and they aren’t very big. It’s pancake flat and made for fast times. But the wind has wreaked havoc every year. Runners don’t mind a challenge and the race keeps growing with over 500 finishers this year. They do such a great job with making it feel like a big time event. The huge tent this year loaded with food was a big upgrade. One little tiny thing that still needs an upgrade, more toilets. The lines are way too long. But that’s the only negative. Double the amount of toilets and this is a first class event all the way.

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How did the day go for me? Of course it started with me hitting the snooze three times while Marie was up and getting ready. Finally got up, went into the closet to get my clothes. Took me a minute after I couldn’t find what I wanted to remember that I had laid out all my stuff in the living room the night before. Yep, just a little tired. Grabbed my water bottle out of the refridgerator which had some GuBrew tablets added the night before. Big drink, then realized I didn’t have a powerbar to eat. I always eat powerbars the morning of races half-marathon or longer. No panic. I’ll just take a Powergel thirty minutes before the race and that should help. Took a shower, got dressed, and ready to go. Stepped out the door and got smacked with the wind.

Don't run long without it.

Don’t run long without it.


Arrived at the race about 55 minutes before the start. We had already picked up packets on Friday from the Extra Mile, so I headed straight to the toilets. Only four people in line, sweet. On the way back to the car, chatted with a few people. Mostly talked about previous races. Several asking me if I was going to win. I love hearing that question. Huge compliment and appreciate it every time I’m asked. But it’s also the hardest question to answer. Of course I would love to win and that would be the goal if I’m capable of winning. Typical answers are “I’m going to try”, “not today, fast guys showed up”, “just a training run today”. The first one is probably the best answer. But I don’t want to say that if I know I’m not going to win and especially since about 75% of the races I do are just workouts. Got back to the car, turned it on, and turned up the music. Sat in the car for about ten minutes then headed out for a warmup. For longer races the warmup is usually around a mile or so. Today I did 2 miles because I’m still in training mode to get ready for Twisted Turkey. I had ran a hilly route Friday. Saturday I did the famous hilly Greeks Route. The goal for this race was to run 1:18-1:19 on some tired legs. Felt great on the warmup, but did notice the wind was real strong out of the Northwest, which was the worst direction for the wind to come out of. Went back to the car. Took off my warmup clothes, which were my running pants, and two long sleeve tech shirts, and a running jacket, plus hat. It’s really good to stay warm before the start. One of the reasons I take showers before all my races is because of how much the hot water helps your body warmup. I put on a long sleeve and racing singlet. I took two pair of racing flats to the race. If the conditions were going to be great, I was going to wear the Saucony Type 5’s. But since the weather wasn’t ideal to run fast times, I wore the more cushioned racing flats, Brooks St. Racer 5’s. Put on some new gloves, grabbed three gels, and headed to the start area to do some strides.


Some runners like to get pumped up before races, some like to joke around and get into a very happy mood, some runners stand around scared to death that they are about to race, and then there are the types like me. I like to stay calm and relaxed. I talked to a few people and then started doing some strides. I had a clear road to do the strides since all the runners were on the wrong side of the starting line. After a couple strides, I changed up the laces on my shoes. Did a couple more and changed the laces again. I’m so paranoid about the fit of my shoes. I’ve been in races where I have tied them too tight and made my feet hurt. I’ve tied them too loose and it felt like my shoe was going to come off the whole race. Finding that in between is almost impossible for me. Time for everyone to line up for the start. The race director said a few things that nobody could hear. Then another person talked that nobody could hear. Then I realized that I hadn’t found Satellite yet for my Timex GPS. I got scared for a minute. With just just about 30 seconds before the start, I had Satellite contact.

Photo By Becky Sue Kreiger's Fisherman

Photo By Becky Sue Kreiger’s Fisherman

Photo By Dan Shelton

Photo By Dan Shelton

The race started. I planned to go out a little faster than I had been in the last few half-marathons. I wasn’t worried about what anyone else was going to do. Leo Frey pulled up next to me and I looked across and saw about 8 runners going across leading the race. A lot of Alpha Males in this race. We were coming up to the first turn and the lead vehicle started turning right. I said to Leo “he’s going the wrong way” and Leo agreed. All the other runners followed behind the lead vehicle. I yelled over to them it was wrong. Then Leo noticed we were definitely correct when the arrows were pointing left on the ground. Leo and I were basically setting the pace at this time and it was right where I wanted to be with just under 6 minute pace. After two more turns, we started heading into the wind. I backed off and tucked myself into the pack so they could block the wind. It worked a little, but the way the wind was hitting us, it was going right through them. I pulled back up front after I saw the pace had gone from a 5:55 to a 6:15. We went by the start line area so there were a lot of people cheering. After we turned the corner, I looked around at the pack. There were 7 of us. The only runner I knew was Leo. I saw a few of them were high school runners and then there was a runner that looked about thirty, but didn’t recongize. At this moment I was thinking that I had a chance to win. I knew Leo had been running some fantastic times lately, but he hadn’t raced long in a while. So the plan was to wait until we got around to the Airpot entrance and put in a long surge. All that went out the window real quick. We were going 5:50 pace or so when we hit the wind again. I tried the tuck behind the pack thing again. But the pack split up real quick. The high school kid and the runner I hadn’t seen before started to pull away. Not sure how the rest of the race would have gone if I had stayed with them. Instead, I let them go. Leo tucked right next to me with another runner just off the back. At this time there were two clear leaders, me and Leo in 3rd and 4th, and the other guy 5th. We all were pulling away from everyone else.

Photo by Rick Gosser

Photo by Rick Gosser

Photo by Rick Gosser

Photo by Rick Gosser

We now had the wind at our backs and were heading past the airport. We were all skipping the first water stop since it was a cool day. I was still feeling pretty good and still wondering if those two lead guys would ever come back. They were lengthing their lead a little at a time. With Leo at my side, we were running just under 6 minute pace. Not sure exactly where it was. Maybe around the gas station or right before, the guy behind us had pulled ahead. Again I decided to let him go. Not too long after that, Leo started pulling away. I wasn’t slowing my pace yet, they were just picking it up just slightly. I skipped the water at the next water stop and still felt really good. Leo had gain about a 30 meter lead on me before the next turn. After the turn, the wind started hitting us again. It wasn’t bad, just a little from the side. Enough that the effort was a little harder. My pace started slipping and saw it going up to 6:20 pace. I always forget how long this straightway is. It started wearing me down. I saw Mr. Jankowski up ahead taking pictures of Leo and then me when I went by. He said that 2nd and 3rd place runners looked like they were getting tired or something like that. With Leo in 4th and me in 5th, I was thinking that maybe there was still a chance to get top 3 overall especially since the last several miles would be into the wind. If any of them hit the wall, they were reall going to suffer.

Photo by Kim Eades Orosz

Photo by Kim Eades Orosz

Finally reached the turn to get out of the wind. I love this turn because there are always so many people cheering and it gives you a boost going into a long beautiful stretch. As soon as I hit the turn, I dropped the pace. I felt great and ready to reel some runners in. Concentrated on staying relaxed and holding a good pace. Just a few minutes went by and I noticed that I hadn’t made a dent catching Leo or anyone. They were going just as fast as I was. Another water stop was coming up, so I took my first gel. At the water stop, only two girls were holding cups and both said they had Gatorade. I wanted water, but no big deal. I took one of the cups without losing pace. As I left the table, I heard a girl say “what if they want water?” I was cruising at a good pace and was feeling good. Hit the first of the two small hills. Went a little faster up the hill hoping that the other runners had gone slower and I could make up a few seconds. Saw a bunch of cows on the right and one of the cows was running a little. I was thinking he could probably beat me in a short race, but I would eat him up in a long race. Up ahead I saw a farmer with a horse and rounding up a few other cows. Put me in a really good mood when he waved. I love seeing hardworking people doing a tough job and keeping a great attitude. Farmers rock. I reached the next turn. There were a few people there and a couple girls sitting in a SUV cheering me on. I could still see every runner ahead of me. I was really happy about that. When I turned the corner I couldn’t see anyone behind me. It was the first time I had looked back, which is crazy for me because I always look around to see what is happening.

There were hundreds of these Woolly Bear Caterpillars everywhere on the roads.

It was only about a half-mile before the next turn. The turn into the wind and the turn into the long straight. For the first quarter mile I felt great and actually saw that I was making a tiny bit of ground up on Leo. I’ve done a ton of races with wind. Several times, I’ve ran fantastic into it. A few years back in the same race, I went from 10th place to 3rd place in just several miles into the wind. Everything was feeling great. The pace didn’t feel too hard. Passed another water stop and took one cup. Lots of people at the water stop cheering. Race was going great…..

I took in a breath and nothing came back out. Tried to breathe again and nothing. I had to stop. I yelled pretty loud and not sure if anyone heard me. It was the big F-word. “Not again”. This has happened to me in other races. Not sure what it’s from. My legs felt fine and I knew I wasn’t out of control. Some have said maybe allergies and others have said it might be a little asthma or something like that. Normally I stop all together until the breathing gets back to normal. But I didn’t want to give up. I walked at a quick pace. I took in a bunch of deep breaths. Tried to relax. I looked back and saw a runner maybe about a minute back. Didn’t know who it was, but there was no way I was going to let him catch me. I started a really slow jog. I saw my friend, Chuck, riding his bike towards me. He could tell something was wrong. He gave a thumbs up asking if everything was ok. I told him I was good and gave a little wave. I finally pulled out of it before the little hill. After losing pace, it’s hard to get it back. I finally got it to 6:40’s. There was no way I was going to catch Leo now. The goal was to not let the runner catch me from behind and use that as motivation to keep going. The rest of the race was a struggle. It’s hard to keep pushing a hard pace when you know the final time is not going to be what you wanted. After the next turn, it was nice to see runners that were heading out. Got lots of motivation by the great comments and it’s even better when they know your name. The next turn was back into the wind for a very long stretch. Some runners think this race is boring. But I love it. I barely run out in the country area, so it’s like seeing new scenery. I love the old trees, the old farm houses, and the open feilds to me are beautiful. I tried to think about those things on this stretch. I might have looked back to see where the next runner was about a hundred times down this road. With a mile to go, I knew the runner wouldn’t catch me. Kept a solid pace all the way to the finish. It was nice to hear my name coming into the finish over the loud speakers. Finished 5th Overall with a time of 1:21:41. Not what I wanted, but I’m happy with it.

1st Mile–5:58, 2nd Mile–5:55, 3rd Mile–5:50, 4th Mile–5:57, 5th Mile–6:08, 6th Mile–6:15, 7th Mile–6:01, 8th Mile–6:06, 9th Mile–7:28, 10th Mile–6:28, 11th Mile–6:40, 12th Mile–6:49, 13th Mile–6:07

Marie and I after she finished

Marie and I after she finished

I watched a few runners finish and then went to the car to change. Grabbed some clothes for Marie and her phone to take some pictures. Went to the final turn of the race, found a spot behind a sign to block the wind, and watched the runners come in. It’s one of my favorite things to do at races. Just before the corner, there were a group of high schoolers who were cheering the runners onto the finish. Two boys were taking it to a whole other level. I saw some runners coming by like they were going to die. After hearing the cheers from the boys and funny things like “there are donuts at the finish” and stuff like that, smiles were all around. I could have sat there all day long if runners were going to continue to finish. It’s such a great moment when they turn into that final straight. I saw Marie and I got up and headed towards her. Took some pictures and ran with her into the finish. I was so proud of her. She hadn’t been feeling well and she didn’t want to use that as an excuse. She beat her time from last year in tougher conditions and she almost ran a PR. I gave her some warm clothes to put on then headed into the tent. Lots of food. Best of all was the soup. I had a couple bowls of some potato soup and it was so good. We spent time talking to people and waited for the awards. Got to my age group and they called my name. People had been cheering a little for the runners as they went up. But when my name was called, the cheer was a little louder. I’m not going to say this anywhere else or talk about this at all outside of this blog post. But I kind of got a little choked up. The race was hard, a little disappointed, but the cheers made me feel really good. I asked Marie if we could head out. I didn’t tell her it was because I had a little tear in my eye and she won’t know until she reads this. It’s the little things that are the best things. Running is a huge part of my life and getting the encouragement that I get from so many helps so much.

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Dawn of the Dunes Half Marathon

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Dawn of the Dunes Half Marathon 10-27-13 Gary Indiana

First year for the race and also the first Marathon in Gary. Tom Taylor is the race director and has done a great job with all the races he has done in NWI this year, so I knew it would still be worth doing. It was looking like it was going to be a small event about a month ago. Then a couple weeks ago there was a massive media blitz and Tom and the mayor of Gary gave a press conference for the event. It grew fast. Also put a lot of pressure on Tom to get a lot more stuff than what he planned on. With the help from the city of Gary, Tom pulled it all together fantastically. Race morning came and runners were pulling in by the hundreds. So many runners, the race had a slight delay before the start which everyone understood. I think the biggest draw was for the scenery of the course. Along the lakeshore and through some scenic neighborhoods and along route 12, which has some amazing views on both sides.

a a dunes bridge
a a dunes chicago
a a dunes trees

With having run Chicago Marathon two weeks ago and Hero Half Marathon last week, I knew my legs would be still tired for this race. But I still wanted to give a solid effort. Marie and I got to the race a little late because I hit my snooze a couple times. I didn’t eat a Power Bar like a normally do before any race that is half marathon or longer and I didn’t get in a warm-up. Wasn’t too worried about not getting in the warm-up though. I planned on going out kind of easy since the first several miles are rolling hills. Marie and I went to the starting line and were ready to go. It was great seeing so many familar faces. Always puts you in a good mood. Coolest thing about the start, was seeing that Channel 7 News was there with a reporter and camera’s. Wow, big event.

Wearing the orange singlet. Made it on TV.

Wearing the orange singlet. Made it on TV.

Mile 1-6:17, Mile 2-6:12, Mile 3-6:14, Mile 4-6:01, Mile 5-6:03, Mile 6-6:00, Mile 7-6:08, Mile 8-6:14, Mile 9-6:10, Mile 10-6:15, Mile 11-6:22, Mile 12-6:25, Mile 13-7:23

The race was off and about four to five runners sprinted out like it was a 5K. I settled into an easy pace with Brandon to enjoy the view of Lake Michigan. The top group kept pulling away and at first I was worried that they might not have gone out too hard. I didn’t want them to get too big of a lead. When you race a lot, you can tell by a runner’s form if they are going too hard or not. It became clear that several of them were already struggling to hold their pace and we hadn’t hit a mile yet. Brandon and I were still running together when we hit our first big climb. I love hills and always get excited running them. I pulled away from Brandon and decided to start pulling in the lead runners. The next few miles were rolling hills, with lots of turns. One of the things I noticed along the way was how fantastic the police were keeping the roads clear and directing the runners. They did an amazing job all day. Highly impressed. A couple miles in I caught up to a couple high school runners. It was kind of funny because I didn’t expect them to talk. Most times in races like this, when you pass high school runners, they are normally silent because they are hurting. I could tell the pace they were going was not going to hold because of their strides and arm carriage. I said good job to them. One of the kids asked me where I was from and told him from Valpo. One of the kids had a Chesterton Cross Country shirt on and I wasn’t sure where the other kid was because when he told me, I think he was a little too tired to say it clearly. We hit a hill and they both fell off the pace. I only had two more runners ahead of me and I was pulling in the second place runner. I hadn’t looked at my distance yet on my GPS. I wanted to wait awhile so that maybe when I looked, I could get a happy surprise and almost be done. On the next big hill, I caught the next runner and went passed him pretty easy. Only a half mile later I pulled up to the leader. But every time I got within a few meters, he would put in a little surge. For an experienced runner, that’s a sign that they are not confident enough to run with you. It happens all the time. All they are doing is wearing themselves out. If you can stay steady and not get caught up in the surges, you save a ton of energy. Finally around 5 miles or so, I pulled up along side of him. First thing he said was “are you in the marathon?”. Answer “nope, half marathon.” I could tell he was struggling. I didn’t have to surge to pull away. He fell off pace.

a a dunes runners

Of course during a race, I think about running a lot. But today one song kept playing in my head because I’ve been listening to Passenger a lot lately. I love the song Holes and it’s got a great Rhythm for running. Well, the chorus does.

Another song that went through my head was Counting Crow’s “Sullivan Street”. When we running down Rt. 12 there was a side street with the name and the song came to mind right away.

Around mile 6 or so, we reached Rt. 12. A long flat straight stretch on an out and back. It may sound boring, but extremely scenic on both sides. I was feeling great with a nice pace going behind the lead police car with a 4 wheeler along the side of him. It was amazing how they shut down this road just for the race. We got a little down the straight and then the lead police car took off down the road and so did the 4-wheeler. I looked back and could see I had a huge lead. But looking ahead seemed like a long way before the turnaround. I was still keeping the pace pretty good, but could tell it was slowing a little. I reached the turnaround. Cop car pulled next to me and asked how I was doing. It made me laugh. I told him I was doing great and he was doing an awesome job. Then asked him if I could get a ride. He laughed and then pulled up as lead vehicle again. I had looked at my time when I hit the turnaround so I could check the lead I had on second. When I reached them going the other way, I doubled the time and had about a 1:30 lead. Jeff, who was running the marathon was right behind second. When I went by we gave each other high-fives and he told me the other runner was really dying. The rest of the stretch was AWESOME. Seeing all the other runners. Almost every single one of them said some encouraging things. I tried to acknowledge everyone and gave high-fives to a few. It’s hard when you are tired and trying to keep pace. But it helped so much hearing the great comments. I looked back a few times and could see my lead was increasing.

a a dunes shirt

A couple of great sponsors of the race.
a a dunes adv
a a dunes wolf

When I got to mile ten, I was pretty sure I had a big enough lead to win. I was feeling tired and decided to ease the pace in the rest of the way. Back in the neighborhoods again going up and down little rollers. The police car was staying pretty far ahead. I came up to an intersection and the police car had gone straight, but the arrows had us turning right and there was a volunteer telling me to turn. I stopped and put my hands up so the cop could see that he went the wrong way. I pointed that we had to turn. I turned and started running again. The police officer pulled up along side me and said he was sorry. I told him he was doing a great job and not to worry. He asked how I was doing. I told him I was just chillin the rest of the way to the finish. He asked if I was afraid of the runners catching me. I told him if they did, it would be nice if he arrested them. He laughed and pulled up back in the lead. I coasted the rest of the way to the finish.

Accepting award from the Mayor of Gary

Accepting award from the Mayor of Gary

a a dunes jeff

With Jeff Mescal, Oveall Marathon Finisher

With Jeff Mescal, Oveall Marathon Finisher

There was a fantastic buffet after the race with some great food and a nice view of Lake Michigan.

Marie ran the Half Marathon also and did a great job. I’m so proud of her for continuing to push herself.
a a dunes marie

The Dawn of the Dunes was a fantastic event. Loved it all. Can’t wait to run next year and I’m sure it’s only going to grow even bigger. Great job by race director Tom Taylor and his wife Maggie. This might become the big event that NWI has needed for a long time. A destination Marathon.

Happy after the race and a great view of Chicago.

Happy after the race and a great view of Chicago.