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Howl 2012 RR

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Mark B
Michele "1L" Keane
Jeff F
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Howl 2012 RR Empty Howl 2012 RR

Post  Jeff F Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:56 am

You don’t see many race reports this time of year, so I thought I would post a report for this weekend’s Howl at the Moon.



After last year’s debacle at Howl I told myself never again, but we have all said that as runners and ultra runners. A friend of mine had to skip Howl last year due to an injury and the race director is such a great guy that he deferred her registration to this year and she talked me into signing up. I had no goal other than running one loop (3.29 miles) at a time and see how it goes. I was not optimistic as I had done only one 20 miler this entire year, and that was just two weeks ago. The 20 took me 3.5 hours so I figured worst case I would still have another 4.5 hours to walk another 11 miles to get to 50K. Another factor was that I came down with bronchitis the week before Howl. I was in denial for most of the week but finally on Friday I went to the doc. Of course I didn’t tell her I was planning on doing the run, but I know what she would have told me. I figured if I ran out of energy or began one of my never ending hacking spells I would just quit.



Friday night I drove over to Kennekuk Cove County Park, which is about 40 minutes from my home, to set up my canopy and tent, and to meet Charles and my friend, Jen. On Friday night they run what they call the Baby Howl, one loop around the course. Both Charles and Jen did the Baby Howl while I enjoyed the beautiful evening and drank a beer. The Howl is put on by the Kennekuk Trail and Road Runners. They call themselves “a drinking club with a running problem.” As a result the party atmosphere began Friday night and did not end until Sunday morning. I didn’t camp out on Friday night but I understand there were some people having a good time into the wee hours of the morning.



I drove over Saturday a.m. and arrived about 6:15 for a 7:00 start. The weather was beautiful, 55 degrees, slight breeze and clear blue skies. It was hard to imagine it was August. The weather was perfect the entire day, even with clear skies the temp probably never hit 80 and there was always a nice breeze.



I met up with Charles and Dot, along with many of my local running friends before the start. This was my third Howl and each year I meet more of the ultra runners that have been doing this event for years.



I decided given my strategy of running one loop at a time and listening to my body, I decided that I wasn’t going to wear my Garmin. The first race I have ever done that, and it worked out just fine. They have the official clock at the start/finish line which is all I needed to pace myself. The first loop I ran then entire course with the exception of the one big hill which is at approximately the 2.5 mile marker. This year they added another aid station. In past years, they had aid stations at the start/finish and about ½ way; this year they added a third at the top of this big hill. Given that and the mild weather, I didn’t even worry about carrying my hand held until loop six when it started to warm up a little. I hit loop one in about 35 minutes, which is pretty much the pace I maintained through loop 5. I did incorporate a little more walking but I noticed my running pace also picked up a little so I did maintain this 35 minute/loop pace.



The aid stations were fully stocked with all kinds of food, so I was grabbing at least something at almost every aid station. I would also down a gel every 45 minutes and a Succeed tab every hour. The food I ate at the aid stations included bits of a Payday bar, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pretzels, bananas, licorice, boiled potatoes, and green olives. Oh, I forgot. On the first loop they were grilling bacon at the first aid station and it smelled so good I even grabbed a piece of that. My strategy seemed to work, unlike last year when I bonked at about 20 miles, I never ran out of energy and my stomach was fine the entire day.



During the 6th loop my right ITB started to talk to me so I began to incorporate more walking. I would run until I was a little uncomfortable and then walk for a minute which seemed to give me some relief. I did take a couple ibuprofen at the end of loop 6 and which gave me some relief in loop 8. Loops 6-7 were a little tough but I got back into the groove in loops 8 and 9. Once I completed loop 9 I knew that I was going to reach 50K. If I remember correctly there was still about 2.5 hours to go and I only need to do one more loop. When I finished loop 9, Jen was finishing loop 10 (which was her goal since she was training for a 24 hour in two weeks), so we filled our handhelds with beer and began walking. We walked two loops and timed it perfect to hit the finish line when the out and backs began with 30 minutes remaining. For the last 30 minutes they have an out and back ½ mile course that you can do as many times as possible to add to your mileage. I ended up doing 5 out and backs for another 2.5 miles, so unofficially I ended up with 38.69 miles (officially 38.19 because I dropped one of the straws they give you to record how many out and backs you run.) This ended up being my best Howl. This was the first year I went start to finish without sitting down or mentally quitting. I thought I was done doing ultras after last year but my performance, and more importantly the culture of the Howl has renewed my motivation to continue running trails and ultras.



At the end they provide food and plenty to drink. Of course, we were late hitting the food line so there wasn’t much of a variety left. The awards ceremony is always nice. They give awards to everyone who exceeds their goal, they gave awards to everyone who did at least 35 miles (to commemorate the club’s 35 years), and they give very nice age group medals (belt buckles) to I think 10-15 deep in each age group. This was the first year I received an age group award.



After the awards there were a number of us that sat around and enjoyed the beautiful weather and each other’s company. The Howl is held at the same time as a car show in the park, where they have live music, food and drink well into the night. I camped out Saturday night with several others who enjoyed the night’s festivities. It was such a great time; I am already looking forward to doing this again next year.
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:17 pm

Congrats Jeff on an excellent race and the AG award. Despite being an ultra, this race actually sounds like fun. Is there a 50K option?
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Post  Jeff F Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:13 pm

Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Congrats Jeff on an excellent race and the AG award. Despite being an ultra, this race actually sounds like fun. Is there a 50K option?



Thanks Michele. It is an 8-hour event, so you can run as few or as many miles as you want.
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Post  Mark B Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:41 pm

Nice work, Jeff! I'd have thought such a short loop might get tedious, hour after hour, but the setup at Howl sounds like that wouldn't be a problem.
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Post  dot520 Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:22 pm

Given that you mentioned the day before that you were only going to participate due to the 'crud', you really outdid yourself. Awesome! The club really puts on a really fun run and I hope I'll see you there next year.....maybe I'll try to just keep running instead of stopping. Maybe I'll take my water bottle and put some sort of magic 'elixir' in it for my final loop (s). That might be the ticket! Smile
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Post  mountandog Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:35 pm

good race. liked your report. congrats.
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Post  fostever Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:07 pm

Can't imagine running the same loop sooo many times. Congrats on the accomplishment, sounds like a great atmosphere!
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Post  charles.moman Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:00 pm

The loop is 3.29 miles long, so even though you are repeating it, it does not drive me crazy. You also get to talk to a lot of different people on each loop and that makes it a lot of fun. There are some very serious runners, some sort of serious runners and other there having a good time getting in some miles with friends. It is totally not like a road marathon where so many are trying for a marathon PR. Just a much much more relaxed atmosphere.
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