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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Webcast of Burning River

I almost forgot. If you would like to see how I am doing on race day, check out the BR live webcast. I'm bib #68.

http://www.burningriver100.org/webcast.html

Why run 100 miles? Or getting psyched for Burning River

I am a bit ashamed to admit that I have spent quite a bit of time in the past few days reflecting on why I like running 100 mile ultramarathons. I really have wanted this to be a good post on the eve of Burning River as, after nearly 200 blog posts and raising nearly $12,000, I've decided to take a break from fundraising. While it has been an integral part of my ultrarunning and it is both an important and personal cause, I have only barely had sufficient time to keep the group operating as it warrants. At the same time, I'm still receiving emails and comments from interested runners and getting an average of two-dozen hits per day so I've been hesitant to just let the group disappear and the hard work that we have together put into this fade away. That is why I am happy to announce that Cruz Pitre has agreed to take over management of the Lupus Runners website to keep the movement going and growing. We need to talk about the details still, but some time after Burning River I will redirect the www.lupusrunner.org to a new site. Cruz is adamant runner and been a dedicated member of Lupus Runners this year and I know that he will do a great job as I take a break to focus on other things.

You will, of course, still be able to see what I am up to at my various other websites such as www.brianthesociologist.com and, now that I finally have my hands on a Blackberry, I'm increasingly addicted to Twitter so look for me at www.twitter.com/thomasb7. Also, rest assured, that I will keep running. Which takes me back to the point of this post--why run 100 miles? Since I haven't been able to come up with an eloquent and thoughtful diatribe, I'm resorting to a bulleted list. Here goes.

Why run 100 miles?
  • It's a great way to get people to donate money to an important cause
  • The food at aid stations tastes really good after 50 miles
  • You meet some really great people
  • Because no matter how hard you train you never know what's going to happen
  • A central precept of Buddhism is that life is suffering and the key to happiness is letting that go. Running 100 miles involves suffering, then letting that go, the suffering some more, then letting that go, then you finish.
  • You get to know people really well when you run with them for 12 hours.
  • You get a cool belt-buckle at the end.
  • You get to know yourself really well when you run for 24+ hours.
  • Marathons are way too crowded
  • It requires more patience that any other sport I've participated in
  • I was a really bad wrestler in high school
  • No one ever asks you your time afterward, they just ask "At one time?"
  • It's a great way to spend time hanging out in the woods
  • Training with a jogging stroller is a great way to get a toddler to nap
  • The week before or after a race you don't have to feel guilty about going to a buffet
  • There is definitely an ego driven cool factor
  • Did I mention how good certain food tastes after 50 miles?
  • No one looks at you funny if you walk
  • It's a great time to listen to audio books (entire novels at a time)
  • Dawn looks great after 75 miles
  • Night time is magical when you are in the middle of the woods with nothing but a headlamp
  • Other things in your life feel more possible, and less stressful, afterward
After my first 50k, I almost cried because I was so glad that I actually did it. After my first 50 miles, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction. After my first, and only so far, 100 miler I was so tired I didn't particularly feel anything other than some mild confusion that I did not need to keep running. In fact, rather oddly, after 50 miles I was glad to be done. After 100 miles I was somewhat disappointed that it was over.

Dayton Daily News Article


Thanks to all you Lupus Runners out there who have helped get us this far. Also, many thanks to everyone who has made donations--we have collectively raised nearly $12,000 since 2007. I look forward to finally meeting some of you in person at Burning River this weekend. In the meantime, check out this recent article in the Dayton Daily News.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Prepping for Burning River

Well, ready or not the Burning River 100 is just around the corner. I confess that I am less certain about my preparation this year than last year. Ironically, being in China was not a great problem in terms of my training. However, getting my schedule cleared to go to China and catching up on time with my family and work stuff left me with fewer miles on the road then I would have preferred. Still, I had a few 30+ mile runs, a 40 mile run, my 12 hour Great Wall adventure, and a recent 32/25 back to back run, so I think I still have a good shot at finishing as long as I run smart.

My plan is to start out more slowly than I did at Haliburton and to try and keep a more even pace throughout. Last long run, I used a 10 minute run/5 minute walk pace that allowed me to complete 25 miles in 5 hours, even after doing 32 miles the day before. I ran even splits throughout and felt pretty comfortable at the end so I think this is a better strategy than the 9/1 and 25/5 run/walk ratios that I used at the beginning of Haliburton.

The logistics of Burning River are also slightly more complicated than at Haliburton since it is point to point as opposed to two out-and-backs. However, my parents are going to be joining Holli as part of my crew so we will have additional support. We're also going to try and coordinate crew needs that we didn't really plan well for at Haliburton--namely the need for Holli to sleep and eat at some point during the race. There is supposed to be cell phone service throughout so that should help too. Perhaps I'll twitter the event.

In terms of equipment, I'm planning on using a single water bottle throughout and, depending on the heat and my pace, an additional water bottle in a holster. I was pretty happy with how that worked last time. I'll aim to consume 100 calories of gel, honey, or sport beans every 30 minutes and to take electrolyte tablets every 20-30 minutes. I'll start eating some solid foods at 10 hours or so (soup probably).

I'm going to try and stick with Dirt Dawg as he heads for what I am sure will be his first 100 mile success story. I'm also looking forward to meeting Nate and Mae, two of our Lupus Runners from last year, who will also be at the event. It should be a good time!

I confess with some guilt that I haven't really had the time or energy to do a great deal of fundraising. I do want to thank everyone who has donated so far and to ask those who haven't donated to consider making a contribution to this important cause. I think 2009 might be my last harrah in terms of fundraising (at least for a little while) as I've had difficulty pulling together the time and energy that I feel the cause really warrants. It might be better for me to take a bit of a break (at least from fundraising--running keeps me sane so I don't expect to stop that!). So this is the last time I'm going to ask all of you for money, at least for the next year or two. Help me out this one last time and click the donate button on the right!

Monday, July 6, 2009

50k Great Wall Run Video

video

50k ultramarathon on the Great Wall of China




Total time in motion: 11 hours 50 minutes
Total distance 50k or 31 miles
Average pace: 23 minutes per mile
Distance on or along the Wall: 20 miles
Distance on roads around the Wall: 10 miles

I'm far from an elite runner and not even particularly fast, but I have been around the block. I've completed a 100 miler, a 50 miler, and a few 50k races. I can generally go 50 miles in under 10 hours and 50k in under 6 hours. 22 minutes per miles isn't even a fast walk--at least under normal conditions. These were certainly not normal conditions.

I compared my times with a local guide and it sounds like I was moving on the wall about twice as fast as most people. I tried to run the flats (which were very few) and walk the stairs. While I did stop to take breaks and take photos, I tried to minimize these stops, which I think it part of why I covered the ground so quickly (at least relatively). There were some mildly treacherous areas where running was simply not an option, at least if you are concerned about falling off the wall. Still, I kept moving and, as some past ultrarunner once quoted, I blew past rocks and trees like they were standing still.

Perhaps my times speak for themselves, but I would definitely rate this as a 10/10 in terms of difficulty. I believe most of the marathons that are held on the Great Wall are only actually on the Wall itself for 3 to 6 miles. I will note, with no small amount of pride, that I was on or alongside the wall for about 20 miles. Seriously, it was sort of like being a stairmaster for over 8 hours except the steps were often irregularly shaped rocks.

As I thought might be the case, this was a more mentally challenging race than some of my past races. Holli wasn't there to back be up with encouraging words or to provide me with supplies. No one really had any idea what I was doing so there wasn't even the general ambiance of a race that can be so motivating. Still, there were some people who stepped up when I needed help. There was the fellow long distance hiker who helped me get back on track after I got lost trying to avoid the military base in the way of getting to Gubeikou (I never made it to Gubeikou, but made up for it by going an hour past Simatai). There was the two shop-keepers who generously gave me a pair of headphones after mine were lost in the same overgrown brush disaster that scratched up my legs and arms and led to, perhaps, the lowest part of the race. There was the woman who sold souvenirs on the wall who showed me a shortcut around a particularly bad hill during my final miles on the wall (dude, she said she comes to the wall everyday and then walks for two hours to get home. She told me that I was running fast and I believed her until I saw her move on some mountain trails--she was like a mountain goat! To make myself feel better I am telling myself that I wouldn't have struggled to keep up if my legs were fresh.) Oh yeah, and there was the American couple who gave me some sun screen--a critical supply that I failed to bring.

In 2010, I will return to this section of the Great Wall with my students. I'm working with a travel agent who will arrange for overnight stays on the wall. I had my low points on the run and my high points--I perhaps had more doubts during this race than during any of my previous races. However, the scenery was incredible and getting to the next tower for another view was always a motivator--be sure to check out the video for some scenery and details about my run.

Also, don't forget to click on the "Donate here" button on this site! Help support the fight against lupus!