Our second weekend at home was not actually a weekend at home it was a weekend on the road — in more than one way!
We drove from Indianapolis to Grand Rivers, Kentucky for the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) trail race. Choy ran his first 50 mile race and he was awesome! You can read about his ultra running work here: www.therunstuff.com. He ran 50 trail miles in eight hours and 19 minutes.
I think my friends said it best, “I drove 50 miles today and was exhausted” and “holy balls.” — yeah.
This was my first time spectating (new word) an ultra run and it was a great experience. I learned a lot about ultra runners, ultra running, trail running and how, amazingly, spectating an ultra run is exhausting. The race is hosted by the West Kentucky Runners Club (WKRC) and I think they’re used to having this race be pretty low-key, but the race has such incredible potential. I mean, it’s a Western States qualifier! (This is the kind of business-speak you learn hanging out with ultra runners. I didn’t know this before a few months ago.)
Here is my advice, albeit unsolicited, for the WKRC:
1. First aid kits – honestly.
The main aid station had band aids but WHAT ultra runner is going to ask for a band aid? These are pretty hardcore athletes, if they are coming to you for first aid it isn’t for a scrape. It’s likely because they are gushing blood and a band aid ain’t gonna do it.
2. Have better snacks for the runners
Salted potatoes, no wraps (disaster) especially with american cheese (double disaster).
3. More volunteers to direct the runners
I started directing runners to go another lap or finish their 1.6 mile hill and back before heading to the finish for 1.7 miles. Seriously.
***Idea: the sign up form for LBL should have a question that asks if the runner is bringing someone to volunteer. (Like a spouse or girlfriend or trainer) Is that person willing to volunteer? (I was.) Maybe that’s $5 off the sign up?! Also, that’s more people helping runners who stop thinking for themselves after a while.
4. Lastly, let’s have some fun and peppy music at the aid stations.
It really lifts the runner’s spirits.
1. Ultra runners are sooo friendly AND happy. All the folks who were coming through the aid station were laughing and joking (albeit about death) but still joking.
2. I noticed that they aren’t in a terrible hurry. In the track and field world, everything seems so hurried. You have limited time for handoffs, next events, etc. At this ultra race I saw several folks take their time eating their snacks and hugging and kissing their families, kids, and supporters. It seemed really familial.
This was Choy’s first 50 mile race, his longest race yet, and he finished 16th out of 123 that finished (several dropped out of the race). He got a fancy belt buckle to honor his effort and I’m like, “a belt buckle? We’ve got lots of those in Texas.” I kid, I kid.
After LBL, Choy and I drove to Chicago for a University of Houston Alumni event. UH has not been really great an engaging alumni (1) and engaging alumni outside of Houston (2), let alone Texas. When I learned that UH was going to have an event in Chicago, I had to go. I met the university President/Chancellor Dr. Renu Khator and listened to all that UH is doing to improve and be recognized for the great school that it is. I learned that there are 700 UH alumni in Indianapolis… that’s right Indy Coogs, I’m coming for you. Friends, get involved with UH — Rey Rodriguez, Glynda Caga-Anan (soon to be Reynaldo) a UH alumni event is coming to the Valley!
When Choy and I were in Chicago we stayed in Lincoln Park in an apartment we found on Air BnB. If you don’t know about Air BnB, learn about it. It’s a cozier way to stay in a city. It’s often cheaper than a hotel and I think it’s cozy. People put their extra rooms, whole houses or apartments up for rent and you can stay there! Cheap!
We drove back to Indy after the UH Alumni event, picked up our puppy who missed us a lot, and came home. It was a good four-day weekend aaaand I don’t want to go to work tomorrow.
Here’s Choy running: