The world lost an incredible mother, wife, daughter, friend, attorney, underprivileged advocate, and community member suddenly and unexpectedly on October 16, 2013. In honor of my late wife, Holli Wallace, I am training for the Hallucination 100 mile trail run and raising money for the Children's Grief Center of the Great Lakes Bay Region.

My training progress

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lupus Runners--Round 2

If you read this blog and STILL haven't donated--now's a good time!

Yassine Diboun, my fellow ultrarunning Lupus Runner, will be making his first attempt at a 100 miler.  This guy is fast and has placed in several ultramarathon.  There are live updates of the race, the Iroquois Trail 100 mile race--follow Yassine's race here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Race report

I woke up early Wednesday morning and thought that I was still on some trail and supposed to be running. Now, the really disturbing thing is that I was a little disappointed that I was not out on some trail running through the night. There's an elegant simplicity to a weekend where all you have to do is run... and run... and run...

After spending the night in London, Ontario and enjoying some nice pasta at an Outback Steakhouse we hit the road early on Friday. As we headed north of Toronto I anxiously noted each of the steep and rolling hills that characterized the drive to Haliburton. I was crazy nervous. I mean I was nervous like when I was hopping on a plane to spend a year in China (well, almost). I was so nervous that I didn't want to go directly to the race start so we stopped at Subway for lunch. It was cool and misty with some rain predicted for that night so we quickly set up our tent and listened to other runners arriving as I read a book to keep my mind off things. Here's one strange lupus connection. The forest also had a wolf sanctuary so Holli and I took some time to visit the wolves before going to the pre-race dinner. Between the fundraising and the new Lupus Runner logo, it gave an almost supernatural feel to the weekend.

The pre-race dinner was initially intimidating, but Holli and I quickly found a couple veterans of the 100 miler who were more than happy to let us drill them for advice on the race (thanks Gavin and Rick!). Go slow in the beginning they emphasized. Everyone was extremely friendly and we all stood up to introduce ourselves at the end of the dinner. I didn't sleep much that night.

The morning came quickly and I found comfort in arranging all my gear. Holli and I had a bagel and coffee at the restaurant and then wandered around outside waiting for the start. A bagpipe player led us to the starting line and before I knew it we were off. The first 50 miles were relatively uneventful. Dark gave way to dawn, I encountered Gavin and Rick again who warned me against getting sucked into going too fast by following the 50 mile and 50k racers that also started with us. I'm glad I took their advice! I had some great conversations with Steve who was also doing his first 100 mile run and whose pace was similar to mine. We lost track of each other for a while, but again found ourselves running and chatting towards the end of the first 50 mile loop. I stuck mostly to gels and Gatorade (lesson 1 = HEED is kind of nasty tasting stuff) and switched shoes once (lesson 2=Brooks Adrenaline ASR give me blisters while Brooks Adrenaline GTS do not). The hills were tough, but not unmanageable and I finished the first loop with soreness, but no real problems. First 50 miles were completed in about 12 hours. I was surprised, dispite my motivation, at how distasteful the idea of heading out for a second loop was. Luckily, after some encouragement from Holli, a 15 minute walking break, a few cups of warm soup, and two ibuprofin, I felt both recovered and motivated. As I the sun began to come down, the 50 milers heading for the finish kept wishing me a good night. What was I in for?

Night was interesting, to say the least. The first it was peaceful. Then it was surreal. Then it was lonely. Then it was discouraging. Then it was over. Holli was a trooper and I confess to a feeling of relief when she decided to stay up for the first part of the night to see me at aid stations. I'm glad that I've had a reasonable amount of experience hiking at night because the rocky and rooty terrain really slowed things down. I believe the temperature dropped into the 40s and, had I been able to run without fear of tripping and falling down, I would have been dressed adequately warmly. At my pace, I was barely dressed adequately (lesson 3=dress for walking). I ran/walked alone until about 4 AM, which only made the experience more surreal. The race was small enough that I rarely saw people during that time and they were all going the other direction--bobbing headlights that would appear suddenly, followed by a grunted greeting or word of encouragement, and then I was alone in my little cone of light. A few times I shut off my headlamp to experience darkness uncommon in urban and suburban America.

I pulled into aid station 5 around 4 AM. At this point, I just needed to run home. Rick, who I'd talked with a few times throughout the weekend, was sitting in front of a campfire and told me that he was dropping because his quads were shot. He also reminded me that the section between aid station 5 and 4 was one of the worst sections on the course. With some reluctance, I stood close to the fire to put on a second shirt picked up from my drop bag and sipped some soup and coffee cheerfully provided by dedicated aid station volunteers. It was warm and friendly there and I had distinct memories of the steep and rocky slopes of the next section. It was mostly downhill, but at that point downhill was hurting much worse than uphill. Still, I knew I just had to make it through 4 more aid stations and I was done. So I headed back out, slipping on my headphones hoping a little motivational music would help. Just as I moved into the cold realm away from the campfire, I realized the batteries in my MP3 player were dead. Seriously?!?! If I was going to have to fumble with some batteries, I was at least going to stand by the fire when I was doing so. I headed back to the campfire. Just in time to see Steve, who I spent hours running with on the first loop, head out of the dark.

Steve's company was much appreciated and I did not at all mind delaying my departure while he had something to eat and drink. We chatted and complained our way through the next sections of the run, informally competing to see who would site the next aid station first. We had some low times.

At one point, Steve, who was running behind me, said "Do you see that outhouse up there?"

I said, "I think so. That must mean we're close to the aid station."

Steve said, "No wait, I think it's some sort of machine. Like a wood chipper."

I responded, "No, it looks like an outhouse."

Steve asked, "Which side of the trail are you talking about?"

"The right," I said.

"Oh, I was looking on the left."

Of course, there was nothing on either side of the trail and we were still miles from an aid station. We did a lot of walking and tried to pick up the pace when the sun came up, but we never could accurately calculate how long it should take us to reach the next aid station (lesson 4= learn to convert from km to miles). Holli appeared walking up a trail before aid station 4, which helped me feel that we were finally getting close to the end (lesson 5=tell Holli how awesome she is more frequently).

We were sore. We were tired. We were sick of being on trails. But we were moving forward. Steve and I calculated finishing times hundreds of times. With about 9 miles to go, I started getting mad and I started getting scared. Despite aid station workers assuring me that I had plenty of time, I just got convinced that I might not make it before the cut off. And I got mad at the trail. I was just sick of stumbling on roots and picking my way over rocks. So I told Steve that I need to run and took off. I felt like I was flying. I was sick and tired of being in the woods and I was going to finish the race, regardless of how much it was starting to hurt my legs to take each step. I couldn't run the whole way and walked when necessary, but each step closer brought some new energy. Er, at least until I had about 3 miles to go, when my ankle hurt so bad I couldn't run more than a couple hundred yards. But after some dirt roads, that felt so short earlier but lasted forever, I was at the final aid station. "It's 2k, you're about 12 minutes from the finish," said the volunteer. "Really?" I thought. After counting the day and night in hours, I was baffled by the idea of 12 minutes.

My ankle hurt so I walked until the finish line came in sight so it took me over 20 minutes to cover the distance. There was Holli as I crossed the finish line.

"What do you need?" she asked.

"To sit down," I said.

I've spent the entire week thinking about the weekend. There was a mental element to the whole race that, to me, made it fundamentally different, and more difficult, than the 50 miler last year. However, I'm not quite sure how to put it into words. Physical endurance is necessary, of course, but I feel like there are mental elements that I confronted throughout the night and into the morning. I was never close to stopping (I think), but there were so many ups and downs as I was forced to confront and make decisions about my percieved (actual?) physical limitations. Are my muscles tired or do I just feel tired? Am I hurting or really hurt? How fast can I go without risking a potentially dangerous fall? What do I need to pay attention to (like where the trail goes) and what should I turn over to autopilot (like taking steps)? Why am I doing this anyway?

I'm not sure that I could have finished with the support of Holli and the many people who sent me email and wished me well the days before the race as I thought of them often. I confess though, the experience gets under your skin. In a complicated world, it almost feels purifying to spend a weekend with such a simple goal--keep moving forward.

Midland Daily News

Here's an article from the Midland Daily News. I think Tony did a good job and hope this helps raise awareness about lupus!

Stretching the limits for lupus
By Tony Lascari

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Race results are posted!

I'm still processing the whole race and planning on writing a longer race report once I am done. The brief update would be that I feel about 80% recovered although it took a couple days for swelling in my left foot to go down (gosh I kicked a lot of rocks and roots that night). I was really sleepy for the first part of the week, but I had to hit work full speed on Tuesday so that certainly didn't help in terms of having a chance to rest. I can walk and traverse stairs just fine although I did a test jog down the driveway and don't anticipate any long runs in the next few days. Still, I don't feel much worse then after the 50 last year so that has me pretty happy. Well, it also has me wondering if I could have run just a little faster at the end of the race. More about that later.

My official times was 28 hours 16 minutes and 19 seconds. Awesome! I placed 17th out of the 27 finishers. 49 people attempted the run so there was a finishing rate of 55%. Props to Derrick Spafford who won the race in 18:42:02. Seriously, that was one hilly, rocky course and I can't even fathom how someone covered the ground that fast. I'm really happy with my time since the next closest person was a full two hours ahead of me--I might have shaved off some time here and there, but there is not way I could have made up two hours. Anyway, you can check out full race results here. I'll post a full race report soon.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Some photos from the race

The morning of the race

Appropriately garbed

Cruising...

Heading for the finish after 28 hours and 19 minutes

I finally have a buckle! I'm wearing it to school today.

I'll post a more detailed race report later. Gotta get caught up on a whole lotta work stuff first. I do want to thank Holli, my friends and family, the race volunteers, those who have donated, my fellow Lupus Runners and everyone else who has contributed so much to help me make it to the finish line!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Run successful! 28 hours 19

Run successful! 28 hours 19 minutes!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

60 miles and all is

60 miles and all is well. Brian is looking tired but strong. Very hilly.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Just back from the pre

Just back from the pre race dinner. Not sure if this is going to the blog. Feeling ok. Pretty place to run.

Nine hours to start.

Nine hours to start.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Even more news

Hey, I guess I was already in the Midland Daily News. I haven't gotten a copy of the newspaper, but a colleague of mine says the article was pretty big. Click here to read it. I'm still scheduled for an interview on Tuesday so there should be some follow up too. Another colleague sent me a small clipping from the Bay City Times too. Cool.

I gotta head home and pack up the car so this will probably be my last nervous pre-race post (probably).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More news!

Well, I think I have the cell phone to blog thing figured out, although it will still depend on 1) having cell phone service at the race and 2) having text messaging service at the race. We'll see how it works.

I just got a call from a reporter at the Midland Daily News who will be interviewing me on Tuesday. Also, a story about my run will be in the Valley Vanguard on Monday (thanks Mary!). Guess that is just more incentive to finish, eh? Make sure you are still asking people to donate at www.firstgiving.com/lupusrunners--we'll take donations after the race too!

Sandi, the race is in Haliburton Forest, which is 3 hours north of Toronto. Not as pretty as Calgary, but not as hilly either. :)

T-shirts are in!

The official Lupus Runner T-shirts are done! I probably won't have time to send them off to those of you who ordered them before I head to Canada, but I will try and post some photos.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Almost race time

Well, I'm not sure I'm going to have time to post anything immediately before the run. Grammy is coming tomorrow to pick up little Elliott and Casey so they can have a weekend at her house. Holli and I are leaving, probably late afternoon on Thursday, to head into Canada. We'll stay in a hotel Thursday night before driving the rest of the way to Haliburton Forest where we'll camp Friday and Saturday night.

I'm definitely more nervous than the 50 miler last year. Going from a 35 mile training run to a 50 mile race feels much different than going from a 50 mile training run to a 100 mile race. I read the other day that the first 50 miles are physical and the second 50 miles are mental. We'll see if that is the case (actually, I'm not sure if that makes it better or worse). I've decided to think of the whole thing as simply 10 consecutive 10 mile runs. 10 mile runs have been the bread and butter of my training so that makes it feel much more manageable. How do I plan on running 100 miles? By thinking about the distance as a little as possible.

I've downloaded "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card to listen to during the race. I thought some classic science fiction would be engaging and not as dry as some of the nonfiction that I tend to listen to. During my night training run I listened to some horror short stories from www.pseudopod.org and I confess to having had one minor freaky moment just before 2 AM (Are there people standing in the middle of that sugar beet field? Can't be. It really looks like some people. Why are they standing there?). I'll probably throw on some podcasts and music similar to what I listened to on my last run (check this post and the follow up comments for my playlist.)

I also picked up a new pair of shoes. I went with some Brooks Adrenaline ASR 4. These are the trail version of the shoes that I've been running in. I've put a couple hours on them and they feel essentially the same, but with better traction. It feels a little risky to be sampling new shoes at this point, but since they are so similar and I could feel my last pair starting to break down (I can feel my knees get sore after I get 300 miles on a pair of shoes) so I thought it was a fair risk. This is, consequently, the first time I go into an ultra without some issue of blisters and/or ITB problems. That has me feeling optomisitic.

I'll probably have some extra food and drinks at drop bags and Holli is planning on being at aid stations with supplies and to hand over a flashlight, headlamp, and long sleeve shirt to me before it gets dark. I haven't used drop bags before and, honestly, making sure that everything is in the right place at the right time has taken some strategizing. I'm actually traveling relatively light with just a fanny pack that carries one bottle. I might bring the little video camera again as a video diary of the experience--I'm not sure. If you're curious about what I am bringing, a complete list is here.

Anyway, thanks in advance to all those who have supported me up until this point. Hopefully the T-shirts will be ready in the next couple days, but I still haven't heard from the company. A reporter from out student newspaper is coming to my office in a little bit so hopefully we'll have the chance to drum up some more donations. Holli is going to try and post updates from her cell phone, but it will depend on the reception up there. Wish me luck!