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Tecumseh Trail Marathon report

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Post  Mark B on Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:22 am

This is going to be a tricky report to write. I can usually come up with some cutesy theme to kick it off, but my creative juices must have been sweated out somewhere in those hills of Southern Indiana. Still, I'll do my best and push on.

In a nutshell: OMG. OMFG.

I started out conservatively (I thought) but just didn't have the strength and endurance to keep running through the 3,800 feet of elevation gain as the race progressed through the hills and drainages. I walked much of the second half, made the cut-off and finished just shy of 7 hours, coming in at 6:54.

Background: Wendy and Tim Miller first started cajoling me to try something new and come run Tecumseh when they ran Eugene. They recruited friends and family - including some very talented ultra runners - to lobby/pester me until I gave in and said I'd come. But not before I'd teased them about their dinky little hills. Ahem. Well...

I trained on hills and trails back home, though that training was less than I wanted thanks to a bad foot sprain just as I was starting my training, and a second foot sprain about a month before the race that turned taper into a recovery period. I was worried what that would mean, but I consoled myself that my two 21+ mile runs would get me through with a bit of walking. There was no time goal, though I secretly hoped that I'd do better than I was predicting.

The day was gorgeous. Cool at the start and mild at the end. I wore shorts and a T shirt. I wore my jacked but stowed it in the straps of my Camelbak after a couple of miles. I had nuun in my Camelbak and was going to fuel with gels and whatever looked good at the ultra-style aid stations.

I started off with Jeff, and we stayed together for the first few crowded miles. He pulled away as the crowd thinned and I lagged - a process that repeat itself for the whole race. I felt pretty good in the early race, though I did not realize so much of those miles would be on chunky gravel roads rather than single track trails. My feet weren't happy about that.

At about 8 miles in, I started to grasp that this was going to be a very long day, but even then I didn't know just how long. I tried to stay in the moment. At 13 miles, I met the biggest, steepest, nastiest hill on the course. Partway up the slope, which could double as a ski jump, my left foot (the one I hurt four weeks ago) started to flare up. I hoped it was healed enough. It wasn't. Most of the rest of the race was spent walking, often without a soul around. I usually enjoy solitude, but a little camaraderie would have been nice.

I got it when I least expected it: I met up with another walker in the last few miles, and we spent time talking and walking. She pulled away after the last aid station, but I reeled her in on the last big hill. But rather than pass her, I slowed down and walked with her - conspiring to run in the last 100 yards for the cameras. (When I suggested this, she laughed and said, "I don't even know you, but I love you!") We crossed the finish together.

(Thanks, BTW, to Clark, who did the fun run but waited for me to finish and even walked back up the course to find me in that last mile. I really appreciated that.)

That's a out it, I guess. I wasn't ready for the terrain. My hills may be bigger, but theirs are steeper... And there are a LOT more of them. Yowza.

I need to heal up now, lose some weight and do a lot of running just for the fun of it before I will be ready to race again. But when I do it, I will be ready.

Last word: I can't feel sorry for myself about this race. I am about the only person in our group to not get taken out by a nasty case of food poisoning acquired at our preerace dinner in Bloomington. While I was struggling in the hills, Wendy was barfing every 30 minutes to an hour - for 26 hours. Now that's a marathon.

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Post  Dave P on Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:48 am

Congrats to hanging in there to the end, to finishing something new, & for gaining a new fan (you didn't get her number, did you?)
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Post  Dave-O on Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:57 am

I agree - no matter how bad the race, or tough the course, its better than food poisoning. Sounds like a fun, unique experience!
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Post  Traveller on Mon Dec 05, 2011 11:47 am

It was, indeed, a beautiful day.

I know you will be better prepared for the next one.

The fun run as my first trail run of any kind. I'm still paying for that, but it was a great experience.
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Post  John Kilpatrick on Mon Dec 05, 2011 11:53 am

Mark - you've got a great sense of humor! Sprained ankles, food poisoning, wicked hills? Sounds like a lot of fun Shocked. Really, it sounds like a unique event - something that would be cool to try sometime. Hope your foot heals well and thanks for the report! Look forward to the "what next" part of your journey...

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Post  Mike MacLellan on Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:16 pm

Y'know, your last post before the race mentioned your goal of having fun. In that sick, sadistic way that runners view fun, I think you excelled. Rest up and enjoy the holidays.
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Post  Seth Harrison on Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:22 pm

Geez Mark, you weren't joking when you said months ago that you were going to give trail running a try. You did a great job finishing this brutal course. Time isn't even a consideration, and as Dave said, it beats food poisoning. You looked happy and relatively healthy finishing the race in Charles's video. Hope you feeling o.k. today. Congratulations on a really cool accomplishment.
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Post  wendy_miller on Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:40 pm

We had tried for months to prepare Mark for the terrain on which he'd be running. But there is simply no way to do it. I've never run Tecumseh the race, but I've run the course. Brutal is an understatement. But so is beautiful. It's a beautiful kind of hell. The views are spectacular. But it's hard to defeat that course. You cannot describe it via words, or even pictures. You just have to try it.

Mark--I am SO sorry I didn't get to run with you. If I could have physically done it, I would have...but there was just no way. You should be uber proud of finishing. I think with a better training cycle leading up to it, Tecumseh could be a much more enjoyable experience for you.
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Post  Glenn on Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:00 pm

@Mark B wrote:This is going to be a tricky report to write. I can usually come up with some cutesy theme to kick it off, but my creative juices must have been sweated out somewhere in those hills of Southern Indiana. Still, I'll do my best and push on.

In a nutshell: OMG. OMFG.


I don't know - that's a pretty entertaining way to kick off a race report.

You've got to post an elevation cross-section image here or on your blog. As a fellow western US mountain snob, I'm still struggling with the concept of brutal hills in the midwest.
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:11 pm

Fun was the purpose, and fun is what you had! I'd agree taht your 7 hr run was much more rewarding than food poisoning. Seriously though, congrats, Mark!
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Post  Jeff F on Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:17 pm

Mark,

It was great meeting you and your family. It was nice to run with you for the first few miles, I felt the urge to pick up the pace so had to move on. You are a real trooper to hang in there and finish. Sorry I could not stick around and see you finish, I had to get home for our neighborhood white elephant party.

I will try to get my report written later today.
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Post  Traveller on Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:32 pm

@Glenn wrote:
@Mark B wrote:This is going to be a tricky report to write. I can usually come up with some cutesy theme to kick it off, but my creative juices must have been sweated out somewhere in those hills of Southern Indiana. Still, I'll do my best and push on.

In a nutshell: OMG. OMFG.


I don't know - that's a pretty entertaining way to kick off a race report.

You've got to post an elevation cross-section image here or on your blog. As a fellow western US mountain snob, I'm still struggling with the concept of brutal hills in the midwest.

The race organizations provides a chart, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

From the above link, the total ascent is about 3500 feet and the total descent is about 3800 feet. From the section I ran, they are frequent and can be quite steep.
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Post  charles.moman on Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:42 pm

Tecumseh Trail Marathon report Screen10

The chart does not do justice to what the course is like.
It challenges you again and again as you wind up & down switchbacks, plus the large hills.
Obviously, not the same as Leadville or other western route, but come and run it and you will see it is not a piece of cake. As Mark said, they are not long, but quite steep and that is what whips you over and over. Frustration

It really is a beautiful course.

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Post  amyjoann on Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:26 pm

Hey you did great ! I live in IN and have heard lots of stories about that race ,and this was from real good trail runners used to it. You ran one tough @#$#@ race . Very Happy I do want to try this race once but you have confirmed for me that I will not try it alone and I will train a lot in the dunes. Great job again!
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Post  T Miller on Tue Dec 06, 2011 1:48 am

Mark, Great job on a very difficult course. I was standing there at the finish waiting and hoping that you would make the cutoff and be able to finish the race. I talked to Clark about driving down to the cutoff spot where the course crosses the road. I wanted to go down there to cheer you on but in the end I didn't want to take the chance of missing you at the finish. I know the ankle injuries really made it difficult during the race and limited the amount of training you could do prior. Great job on getting it done.

Thanks for traveling all that way to spend time with us and run this race. It was great being able to hang out over multiple days. I only wish that we had not eaten at that damn restaurant. I'm truly sorry for the suffering that you guys had to endure as a result. I hope you're all better SOON.
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Post  Jim Lentz on Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:15 am

Great job on finishing a tough race, Mark!
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Post  Jerry on Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:50 pm

Glad you had fun, Mark. Training is overrated. lol!
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Post  Mark B on Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:22 pm

Thanks for the thoughts, all. It was fun reading your comments.

I spoke too soon about saying I was the only one to avoid getting sick. I got sick... as did the rest of my family... on the flight back. It was the full meal deal. Fever, chills, splitting headache, bone-rattling nausea. I even redecorated the rear lavoratory of the airplane when I couldn't stand it any longer and just had to throw up. The whole experience reminded me of Tecumseh, holding on through a difficult situation when the only thing to look forward to is for it to come to a merciful end. That, and making it through without throwing up on your shoes. No

You aren't kidding when you say the elevation chart doesn't do Tecumseh justice, Charles. I just downloaded my Garmin data, and this is what it shows:

Tecumseh Trail Marathon report Tecums10

This profile makes a LOT more sense to me. It shoes the amazing steepness of the hills and their relentless nature. I may have climbed more in some of my training runs, but the grade of the slope was far less... and they went on for miles, which meant miles of descent on which you could recharge your legs as you dance over the hills.

Tecumseh is like dancing with a pile driver.


Last edited by Mark B on Sun Mar 25, 2012 7:39 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Fixing typo that made a sentence totally incomprehensible...)
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Post  Mark B on Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:32 pm

@Dave P wrote:Congrats to hanging in there to the end, to finishing something new, & for gaining a new fan (you didn't get her number, did you?)

Her name is Shelly, and no I didn't get her number. I neglected to mention that she was a little old lady. Very Happy

@Dave-O wrote:I agree - no matter how bad the race, or tough the course, its better than food poisoning. Sounds like a fun, unique experience!

I spoke too soon on the food poisoning (ugh...) And, if by "unique," you mean there's no way in hell I'd do this again... you may be right!

@Traveller wrote:It was, indeed, a beautiful day. I know you will be better prepared for the next one. The fun run as my first trail run of any kind. I'm still paying for that, but it was a great experience.

I didn't know it was your first trail event, Clark. That section around the lake was the prettiest part of the course, but it had more than its share of ankle-twisting roots. I even saw one guy start foraging in the woods to find a walking stick so he could hobble to the finish.

@John Kilpatrick wrote:Mark - you've got a great sense of humor! Sprained ankles, food poisoning, wicked hills? Sounds like a lot of fun Shocked. Really, it sounds like a unique event - something that would be cool to try sometime. Hope your foot heals well and thanks for the report! Look forward to the "what next" part of your journey...

Again with "unique!" Whatever you do, John, if you decide to try this, make sure to run steep hills until you can't stand the sight of one. Then run more of them.

@Mike MacLellan wrote:Y'know, your last post before the race mentioned your goal of having fun. In that sick, sadistic way that runners view fun, I think you excelled. Rest up and enjoy the holidays.

I think whoever created the trail is the sadistic one, Mike. It snakes up and down every hill and ridge in those forests. I have to admit, I didn't think it'd be as extreme as it was.

@Seth Harrison wrote:Geez Mark, you weren't joking when you said months ago that you were going to give trail running a try. You did a great job finishing this brutal course. Time isn't even a consideration, and as Dave said, it beats food poisoning. You looked happy and relatively healthy finishing the race in Charles's video. Hope you feeling o.k. today. Congratulations on a really cool accomplishment.

Thanks, Seth! I was definitely happy to be done, that's for sure! Wink Also, I was enjoying helping keep my newfound running buddy (Shelly) jogging for the cameras at the end.

@wendy_miller wrote:We had tried for months to prepare Mark for the terrain on which he'd be running. But there is simply no way to do it. I've never run Tecumseh the race, but I've run the course. Brutal is an understatement. But so is beautiful. It's a beautiful kind of hell. The views are spectacular. But it's hard to defeat that course. You cannot describe it via words, or even pictures. You just have to try it. Mark--I am SO sorry I didn't get to run with you. If I could have physically done it, I would have...but there was just no way. You should be uber proud of finishing. I think with a better training cycle leading up to it, Tecumseh could be a much more enjoyable experience for you.

Don't worry about it, Wendy. There was no way you could have done that race that day. You were too sick. And I do think you're right... there will come a time when a course like Tecumseh isn't such a body-wrecking, ego-shattering challenge. I'm just not there yet. Thanks again for your hospitality during our visit. Barfing aside, it was a great time.

@Glenn wrote:
@Mark B wrote:This is going to be a tricky report to write. I can usually come up with some cutesy theme to kick it off, but my creative juices must have been sweated out somewhere in those hills of Southern Indiana. Still, I'll do my best and push on.

In a nutshell: OMG. OMFG.


I don't know - that's a pretty entertaining way to kick off a race report.

You've got to post an elevation cross-section image here or on your blog. As a fellow western US mountain snob, I'm still struggling with the concept of brutal hills in the midwest.

Well, you know what they say: Write what you know. Wink

I posted the elevation chart above, and I think you can see how that course would grind you to dust in pretty short order if you weren't prepared for that specific type of terrain. Also, the gravel road sections of the course aren't the gravel most of us are used to - the gravel was actually chunks of broken limestone, about the size of a large olive, except jagged. That'll do a number on your feet, especially in minimalist footwear. And yet, some guy ran the thing barefoot! Amazing.

@Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Fun was the purpose, and fun is what you had! I'd agree that your 7 hr run was much more rewarding than food poisoning. Seriously though, congrats, Mark!

Thanks, Michele! I'm struggling with the concept of "fun" on this course, but I can say it was beautiful out there, and a gorgeous day. That might be enough.

@Jeff F wrote:Mark,

It was great meeting you and your family. It was nice to run with you for the first few miles, I felt the urge to pick up the pace so had to move on. You are a real trooper to hang in there and finish. Sorry I could not stick around and see you finish, I had to get home for our neighborhood white elephant party.

I will try to get my report written later today.

I totally understand your picking up the pace, Jeff, so no worries about that. In retrospect, I should have started at a much slower pace but it was easy to get pulled along but the conga line of runners. (I started in the 10s; I usually started my training trail runs in the 13s because my route starts with an hour of climbing.)

@amyjoann wrote:Hey you did great ! I live in IN and have heard lots of stories about that race, and this was from real good trail runners used to it. You ran one tough @#$#@ race . Very Happy I do want to try this race once but you have confirmed for me that I will not try it alone and I will train a lot in the dunes. Great job again!

Lots of hard, hard, training is the key for this one, Amy. Wendy's brother and his training partner train in those hills all the time (said training partner finished in 3:12) and it makes them strong, strong, strong.

@T Miller wrote:Mark, Great job on a very difficult course. I was standing there at the finish waiting and hoping that you would make the cutoff and be able to finish the race. I talked to Clark about driving down to the cutoff spot where the course crosses the road. I wanted to go down there to cheer you on but in the end I didn't want to take the chance of missing you at the finish. I know the ankle injuries really made it difficult during the race and limited the amount of training you could do prior. Great job on getting it done.

Thanks for traveling all that way to spend time with us and run this race. It was great being able to hang out over multiple days. I only wish that we had not eaten at that damn restaurant. I'm truly sorry for the suffering that you guys had to endure as a result. I hope you're all better SOON.

Yeah, that pre-race dinner might go down in infamy, Tim. Hopefully the health department will come down on that place like a ton of bricks.

It was great spending time with you and your family. I'm glad you were there at the finish, and I know it was long time to wait. Given you quickly you got done, you could have gone to see a movie and returned in time to pick me up!

Funny you mentioned the cutoff time. Not making the cutoff didn't even occur to me until I was about a mile away from it, and only when somebody else mentioned it. (I made it with about 40 minutes to spare.)

@Jim Lentz wrote:Great job on finishing a tough race, Mark!

Thanks, Jim. Tough it was.

@Jerry wrote:Glad you had fun, Mark. Training is overrated. lol!

Yeah, good point, Jerry. I got it done, right? And I got every penny out of my entry fee. I pity that poor guy who ran it in 2:58. He got ripped off. Wink

When I was out there and things were going poorly, I just kept telling myself that, while I couldn't run, I could still walk. And that's how I got it done.
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Post  Vivian on Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:55 pm

Mark, I am so sorry to hear that you had such a tough race and then ended up succumbing to the food poisoning on top of all that. What a bummer. But you are a tough guy and kept on going and that is just amazing. I hope you and your family feel better soon.
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Post  Mark B on Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:52 pm

@Vivian wrote:Mark, I am so sorry to hear that you had such a tough race and then ended up succumbing to the food poisoning on top of all that. What a bummer. But you are a tough guy and kept on going and that is just amazing. I hope you and your family feel better soon.

Thanks, Vivian! We're on the mend, slowly, but we'll get there.
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Post  Mark B on Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:59 pm

I rooted around a bit and found the photos from Tecumseh.

If you think my form looks a little, well, funny... so do I. Geez. Dorsiflex much?

Tecumseh Trail Marathon report Tecums12

I actually felt pretty good at this point, fairly early in the race.

Tecumseh Trail Marathon report Tecums13

I risked a thumbs-up, but it ended up looking dorky, as usual. Smile

Tecumseh Trail Marathon report Tecums14

Later in the race. I was happy to be going downhill. I like downhills. I wish there'd been more out there.

Tecumseh Trail Marathon report Tecums15

I'm laughing because I'm sharing a joke with the photographer to do some fake running for the camera.

Tecumseh Trail Marathon report Tecums16

Shelly and I crossing the line, finally.

Tecumseh Trail Marathon report Tecums17

I ought to start a contest: Fill in the thought balloon above my head in this last photo. Profanities optional. Wink


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Post  Mike MacLellan on Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:49 pm

You got a pretty good stoic-hero photo going on for your avatar, Mark. That should be worth the hills and sickness. Funny seeing your hair's progression, too, in those photos. Very Happy
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Post  Mark B on Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:20 pm

@Mike MacLellan wrote:You got a pretty good stoic-hero photo going on for your avatar, Mark. That should be worth the hills and sickness. Funny seeing your hair's progression, too, in those photos. Very Happy

Funny you mentioned that, Mike. Shelly and I were talking about coming in dressed like this:

Tecumseh Trail Marathon report Owie11

As for the hair.. yeah, it did kinda wilt, didn't it?
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Post  Randy E on Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:21 am

Hey Mark, nice job getting it done. Sounds like a tough race.
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