Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Otter Creek

The 2007 version of The Otter Creek Trail Runs were alot of fun. A few athletes had way to much fun a the pasta dinner. Fun that hungover into the race.

We had a cabin that slept 30 people and dining facilities for the dinner. Cynthia had made her homemade pasta sauces for the evening. It seemed that almost everyone who walked in was carrying some type of adult beverage. All of this made for a night of good friends, good drink and some of the best prerace food you will ever eat. We had a few more show up to stay the night in the cabin than expected so Cynthia and I ended up sleeping on the floor in the nature center. Let this show what I will go through for you athletes. I camp quite a bit, but never in places where I know there a poisionous snakes just a few feet away.

On race morning everything was looking good. There was a slight drizzle, but it was very warm for December. Great running weather if you don't mind the mud. We did have the threat of more serious rain latter in the day. I thought this might hinder day of registration, but it seems I put to much faith in the sanity of runners (I should know better by now). Around 60 people signed up that morning. So we started with around 250.

The course is an 8 mile loop. As far as trail runs go this loop is not too bad. Most of it is very runnable. The views are breathtaking in several areas along Otter Creek and The Ohio River. The mud had made the course much more challenging. Take a moderate hill add wet leaves and mud and things get interesting. Everything I said about the course not being too bad does not apply to the first 2.something miles the marathoners have to run. This small loop sucks on a good day. The best part of the course may be the aid station at the Blue Hole. This station is stocked with all the normal fare plus homemade cookies and other treats. Staffed by my parents Mary Janet and Jim Heady many athletes find themselves loosing time eating and socializing. Most find it is time well spent.

The race got started on time or there abouts anyway. The 16 milers started and the marathoners went their own way. The 8 milers started 10 minutes later.

The winner of the 8 miler came through in less than an hour. Jason Crosby and Tracy Lightfoot were the male and female winners. Each received a certificate for a free pair of shoes provided by Ken Combs Running Store. Winners of the 16 mile and marathlon also received free shoes as did the last runner of the day.

The 16 miler was won by Mark Morgan and Erin Harper. For the complete results check back on the website.

Things started getting fun for the marathon. Dave Arnold was the winner. After spending most of the day locked in battle with eventual second place runner Tim Barnes, Dave finished in 3:44:16 a great time for a muddy trail run. Mary Siegel was the first female. The drizzle we had started the race with kept up until about the time the fourth place finnisher crossed the line. Then it all cut loose thunder and lightning with sheets of rain. The trails quickly became creeks with spots in them in some places knee deep. That fourth place finisher happened to be Larry Holt the owner of Ken Combs Running Store, who makes this race a possibility. Things do work out well like that somedays. The photo above taken by Brian Keller shows one of the hazzards added due to the rain. Some say this photos was doctored. I was not present when it was taken and can therefore make no assumptions.

After the race all athletes were treated to an increadible meal. Homemade soups of all kinds. Chilli, bean, tomato, and red lentill. There were also homade muffins as well as cheese, peanut butter and all the usuall fruits etc. Cynthia spends weeks leading up to the race in the kitchen making the food for the weekend with her own little hands. The food itself makes this race worth the entry fee.

I would like to express how impressed with the runners I was this year. In running the trail removing all the markers and signs I found almost no trash. Each year I find myself upset with you guys the day after the race for being so inconsiderate of the trail. That was not the case this year. I was very pleased. Thank you very much. The one of you that trashed the drink containers out there please clean up your act or stick to the roads.

Since the race on Sunday we have gotten many emails praising us for a great race. We do appreciate it. Even though we do take special pride in this race and tend to go a little overboard with the food etc we are still basically just doing our jobs as race dierctors. There are others who should be given way more credit. Larry Holt and Ken Combs Running Store which I have mentioned. Larry gave the shoes to the winners as well as all the socks each marathoner received. With out this support we would have to cut corners in other areas and the race would not be the same.

Jack West and the staff at Otter Creek Park provide us with a great location and wonderful hospitality. Jack is around from the dinner of Saturday evening till clean up is over on Sunday night. He even came in on Monday, his day off, to help finish the clean up.

Hammer Nutrition is with Headfirst Performance at all of our events and we could not do it without them. They provided the gels and heed.

These are the people that support you. Please retun the favor. Purchase from them whenever possible and don't feel shy about dropping them a note to say thanks.

We also had great volunteers. My Parents, who I have already mentioned ran the aid staion. Bobby Carey and Chase Wininger were out on the course helping with traffic and keeping the aid stations stocked. Grant Wininger took photos out on the course. Brenda Gutmann handled parking before she ran herself. Stacy Jensen and Thomas Watts helped with registration and getting all the food out for the finishers, and Kim Rauen who did everything all weekend.

My special thanks to Cynthia. She takes a special pride in this event and it shows in the event that everyone sees as well as the weeks of preperation leading up to that point.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Back To The Story

We show up at the transition area on Saturday morning to get everything set up. This is when real doubts start creeping into my mind. It seems that most of the other athletes had crews of several people and well stocked tables full of everything you could think of for a race. My crew consisted of my wife and a small cooler. For you that know Cynthia, you know at least I had a crew with as much energy as 3 normal people.

We drove up the river to the start. The roads were very narrow. Remember the big truck we were driving, Cynthia decided that she did not think she could drive back to the transition area. I had to inform her that she was on her own for that. I had to concentrate on the little 281.2 miles before me.

The race started with each athlete asigned their own Kayak to crew for them in the swim. The river was very intimidating. I had swam in rivers around bardges, but here there were actual cruise ships. We swam near an oil tanker that was docked. Although I was not all that close to it I remember not being able to see the top of the ship when I turned my head to breath. The current in the river was kind of crazy. I would be making good time and then I would be swimming in the same place for a time. All in all it was a good swim and I came out of the water in second place by about 10 minutes.

When I exited the water I could hardley walk. It took a few minutes to get my legs back under me. Happily, I saw that Cynthia had survived the drive back to the transition area, and had even found a double cheeseburger for me on the trip. I ate the burger drank something and mounted up for the ride.

The bike was what I had been waiting for. Things were going just as planned. I took the lead after a few hours. I was riding well. There were only 2 people on the course riding faster. The first was a member of a relay team. I do not know his name, but this guy was a freak. It seemed like every time I looked he was lapping me again. I was certainly glad he was not doing the entire thing. The other person who was riding faster in the begining was a guy from England, Arthur Puckrin. While it is not unusual for someone to be riding faster than I Arthur was 65 years old at the time. He is now 69 and has not slowed down much at all.

As the ride progressed I had a few questions. The first one being if I have to get off my bike every so often to go to the bathroom, why is nobody else getting off their bikes? As gross as the answer to that is, it really does save time. The second question was, why am I doing this again? I had not done much night riding so things got a little interesting after the sun went down. I had no real problems, but I kept hitting the same pot hole every lap. I increased the lead I had pretty well. I think as I mentioned that doing well on the bike was unexpected on me. By the time people realized I was a threat the lead was already fairly wide.

When I dismounted the bike I was ready to go. Running well along a beautiful river, and in the lead as a bonus. Life was good. Well it was good for a while. About half way through things started sucking really bad, but I just kept moving forward. The memerable things about the run were the people. A Swiss doctor, Beat, was doing the race. Cynthia ran portions of the race with me. Each time we would see Beat she would offer words of encouragement. His response was always the same "hi". We just assumed he did not know english. This went on over and over us cheering and Beat saying hi. With just a few hours left in the race we once again see Beat and offer words of encouragement. As a change of pace he responded is good english "my ass hole hurts". That may not seem real funny now, but at the time I almost fell over. Since that race I have learned that Beat not only speaks 6 languages well, he never is a lack for something to say in any of them. The next memorable thing was a girl for Puerto Rico. She was sponsored by Hawian Tropic. I only had a few more miles to go when she told me it looked like we would get to split the prize money as the winning male and female athlete. The great thing about that was that until that very moment I did not know there was any prize money. In the end I walked away with $750 Canadian. Not enough to cover the trip, but every little bit helps. A single iron was also put on during the weekend. We had met the person who ended up winning. With just 4 miles left to go he showed up to cheer me in to the finish. He brought his wife and dog with him. I stopped to say hi and to pet the dog. I finished the race in 24 hours and 7 seconds. I tell people I would have gone under 24 if not for that dog.

It was a great experience. All the local media were at the finish line. It is never a real good idea for me to speak to people after 24 hours of exercise with no sleep. At my best I don't look good or speak well. The best quote in the paper the next day was when I was asked what I was going to do next and I said I was not sure, but it would involve a steak and a beer.

I came home with a title, Champion of the Americas, many great memories and most importantly many new friends from around the world.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

We interupt this story

We will finish the ultra story on Wed. There was an interesting happening today. USAT is thinking about changing the age group rule. They went to the current procedure of determining the age of the athlete on December 31 a few years ago. They are considering changing the rule back to determining the age by the actual age on race day.

Being on the Mideast region board I was asked about this. I gave my opinion, but I would like to have some feedback from the athletes. If anyone has any input let me know.

Remember that it is you the average athlete that pays the bills at USAT. If you have any ideas, problems, etc. Let your representative know. If you happen to live in Kentucky that would be me

Monday, October 1, 2007

An Ultra Story

It has been a tough few weeks. So much needs to be posted, but I need a break. So instead of any important stuff how about I just tell a story. Since I first posted on this blog, several people have asked about the ultra triathlons I have done.

I was looking for a race to do when I came across this event in Canada on the internet. It was a double iron distance race in Levi, Canada. I decide to do races the way an impulse buyer shops. It sounded cool, so I signed up. The race was billed as the Championship of the Americas.

I did a little research and found that there was actually more than one of these type of races. The International Ultra Triathlon Association is the governing body for these events. The community of athletes who compete is relatively small and scattered around the world. It was easy to find the results from previous races. I assumed it was an advantage that I had no record in these type of events.

I decided if I was going to compete I was going to try to win. To do so I was going to remake myself as an athlete. I was a runner who did some triathlons. To win I knew that I had to come up with something else. I figured that just as I did others would look me up. They would find that I was an OK runner even up to 100 miles, but little else. My plan was to make my weakness my strong point. Namely the bike.

I did just enough running to assure myself that I could finish. The swimming I did was an entirely new program I made up. That is the topic of another post sometime latter. I rode my bike almost all the time. The main workouts I did were a long swim on Friday, long run of at least 20 miles every Saturday, and a long bike of at least 100 miles every Sunday. Every Wed. consited of 1.2 mile swim/56 bike/13.1 run. The rest of the week was shorter stuff.

I trained like that for several months. As the race approached I was feeling fairly confident. The sort of confidence that comes with having no idea what you are getting into.

We flew into Quebec City and were met at the airport by the race director. We rented a vehicle and got a tour. I had reserved a Ford Ranger, but they did not have one so we were upgraded to a V10 duely. The redneck in me could not have been happier. Quebec was incredible. It looked like someone had plucked an old European City and dropped it in Canada. The old city is completely walled. The race course consisted on 4.8 miles in the St. Lawrence River. Looking at the river was intimidating. The bike course was a loop with one short but steep climb, it would be best handled by going into it with enough speed to not loose all momentum. One end of the bike was a hairpin turn that was an issue because although I had increased my speed on the bike I still was a poor bike handler. The run was 1 mile out and 1 mile bike. Out was mostly uphill and back was down.

The most amazing thing about the race site was the fact that when we got there at 9:00pm there were people everywhere. They were walking, running, cycling, rollerblading etc. It seemed amazing that in a place where it is so much colder that there was so much more activity than there was at home. The entire culture was different. Even though, from what I could see, the local economy looked much the same as home the focus seemed different. There were not the huge homes everyone seems to be striving for here. The cars people drove were not as fancy as what you may see here. The thing was that almost every vehicle had a rack for bikes, or skis. It was a cool place.

The day before the race we had a race meeting and for the first time I had to submit to a drug test before a race. I had not studied, but I passed anyway. Everything was set, all that was left to do was the race. I'll cover that next time.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


Who are these people who spend their lives posting on these forums? I look at our Louisville Landsharks forum and think this is a great idea. Everybody seems to be giving advice, sharing stories, and truly attempting to create a community of triathletes. I assumed all triathlon forums would be much the same way. Not being a big fan of the computer I had not read any of the other forums out there.

I couldn't sleep one night last week so I thought I would see what people had written about IM Louisville. I found the forum at Slowtwitch.com All seemed well. Everyone seemed to like the race. There were a few silly complaints about shirts, etc, and some constructive discussions of items like traffic and the Raccoon. All in all it seemed like a great thing people out discussing issues that affect us all, and even bragging (with all right to do so) about their accomplishments.

This morning it was drizzling out and my back was giving me some problems, do it was easy for me to decide to delay my ride. I thought I would check out some more post in the ST forums. After reading a few threads I became more disappointed in triathletes than I have been in the 25 years I have been involved in this sport.

One particular thread was on wearing headphones. The answer seemed simple. It is against the rules, don't do it. The thread broke down to insults and threats of violence. When I want to be exposed to that kind of talk I watch professional wrestling. I never expect it from triathletes. It seems like there are people who spend their lives on these things and have created their own little wars with others. They fight their battles at the expense of those who are really trying to get information.

I hear the term lifestyle used about triathlon alot. Assume I were new to this sport and posed a question on one of these national forums. It may be a silly question, but how many of us did not have silly questions when we started. If the answers I received consisted of calling me a dumb ass and threatening to run me in a ditch and beat me, why would I want anything to do with that lifestyle.

More importantly, if we get this type of reputation why would any venue want a race filled with these kind of people, or why would any organization want to sponsor anything these people are involved in?

The answer is simple. Triathletes are some of the best people I have had the honor of being around. In our local area I have never thought of any athlete being any way other than encouraging and helpful to the new athletes. Before every event we put on I get emails and phone calls along the lines of this is my first race and I have no idea what to do. I help theses people all I can and normally leave them with the advice that If they get to the race and have any problems just ask anybody, because these athletes will more than happy to share what they know.

Maybe I live in my own little dream world, but it works for me. I see triathletes as dedicated, honest, driven, good people. As a group they are also affluent, loyal to good products, and in general good at sharing information on things they like. That last statement was aimed at potential sponsors, of course. I have such faith in this group of people that when I read things like I did this morning or hear of drug use in the sport it totally shocks and kind of hurts me. I can not believe that any of the athletes I have ever been around would be rude to anyone involved in the sport and the thought of someone doing anything to cheat on purpose at one of my events never crosses my mind.

If you are a triathlete you have every right to be proud of yourself. Not because you can stay afloat, balance a bike, and put one foot in front of the other, but of who you. Would you be any different if you were involved in another activity? Of course not. We are just lucky that triathlon has the type of appeal that brings so many high quality people together.

On the other hand if you are you of the rare people who has such self esteem issues that you need to get on national forums, call names, and make threats I really wish you would focus your attention on another activity and stop making us look bad. I do not care how fast of how far you can swim, bike, or run. You may be a world champion, but if you are not a good ambassador for our sport please go chase people off from another sport so the rest of us can welcome them with open arms.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

First Post

I never realize how little I have to say, until I address a group of people. This is no exception. A blog seemed like a great idea. A wonderful tool to communicate items of importance about our races. I could share my brilliant observations and opinions. The possibilities seemed amazing. I did a little research on setting up a blog and then did it. I was so excited and proud of myself. The next thing I know I am staring at this empty box I am to write those brilliant observations and opinions in. It was at this point that I found I have none. A very depressing moment. Don't get me wrong I have plenty of observations and opinions, they are just not very intelligent. Being who I am that will not stop me.

Here is the plan for this site. I will post anything I believe relevant and a whole bunch of things that are not. Look for race reports, pre-race information, information on our sponsors, training items, and pretty much whatever I feel like writing. If you have any ideas for changes let me know. I may totally ignore them, but at least you tried.

For those who don't know me (the lucky ones) a little background info. I started running (and really sucked at it) around 1980. Did my first triathlon in 1982. Took a little time off from '89 to '96. Insanity set in and I started running again. Since that point I have done a little of everything from 5Ks to 100 mile trail runs. At some point the local park asked me to help with the annual triathlon and I became a race director. About the same time I was downsized out of a job (seemed just like getting fired) so I decided to become a full time race director. Anyone who thinks that is a brilliant idea, because of the entry fees they pay should take a look at what I drive before jumping in. Being around triathlon again gave me the bug so I started training for cycling and swimming. Two months later I thought I was ready for my first iron-distance race. As often happens in my life, I was wrong. I survived and had a great run. It was just everything leading up to that point that gave me problems. In the last few years I have competed in just about every distance. I have found that I am not very good at the short stuff. I tend to fair much better in the longer distances. There seems to be a correlation between brains and endurance. The less you have of one the better you do at the other. I have done double iron distances (4.8 mile swim/224 mile bike/ 52.4 mile run) up to quintuple iron distance (12 mile swim/560 mile bike/131 mile run). Had fairly good results in those.

Well that about sums up who I am and what to look for here. Now the trick is to see if I will actually keep posting stuff.