July 19, 2009

Buckeye Trail 50k

31.64 miles of mud and hills was on the schedule for this past Saturday at the 16th annual Buckeye Trail 50k endurance run. Over the past two years this has become by far my favorite race. It's beautiful, serene, and the prep is awesome....it's literally like packing a full day of elk hunting into 5hr time slot. Just what the doctor ordered.....

In 2008 the BT was my first ultra and I finished in 5:18. Not bad, but well above my 5hr goal. So on January 1st, 2009 when I sat down to scratch out my goals for the year, knocking out the BT50K in under 5hrs was number 4 on the list just below "arrowing a P&Y black bear"....check. And, just above "read 5 non-hunting books"..... a little way to go on that one.
Physically I was feeling good. Leading up to the race I had some long back to back runs (23 miles one Sunday followed up by a 28 miler the next)that gave me some killer confidence. Strategy going into the race was to start fast, hold in the middle, and gut it out at the end. Pretty solid I felt until the night before. I don't know why but for what ever reason as I lay in bed, night before, I decided to go 180 on it. Instead, I was determined to start slow, push the middle, and gut it out at the end. Something I have always wanted to do, just never the patience to do it.

Race day came and I was mentally psyched. I stood there, in the rain, waiting for the start amongst 165 others. I couldn't help to feel a huge sense of pride because I knew I had to be the only guy there running to bowhunt. I thought of all the hours and miles I had logged in prep for the race. Honestly, it gave me chills.

7am and as the race started I stuck with my strategy. I let people go a bit and hit Jori and O for my first aid station around mile 6 in just under 54 minutes. By the way, a huge thanks to Jor and O for sticking it out in the rain, waiting for hours to see me run up, grab a few items, mutter I love you, and take off. You're both awesome and as I have said before, I could not do what I do without the you!

I hit the turn around (Pine Lane) at 2:24 which was right on pace. As I left I knew it was going to be close. I kept telling myself over and over "this is where the race is won". I had no time to waste and each and every minute on the return 16 miles was going to count and I knew it. I hit Jor and O again at 20 miles, grabbed what I needed and headed off. 11 miles left and I was still feeling strong. As I rolled into the last and final aid station (Snowville) at 25 I looked down at my watch....I had exactly 1hr and 7 minutes to finish. If I could hold it together I was going to do it.

As I left the Snowville aid station and I was on my own. Usually by this time in the race folks are spread out quite a bit and its just you, the trail, and your mind. And this is why I feel this is such great prep work for the hunt. Being by myself, in pain both physically and mentally, struggling to keep focused, is exactly how I like it. It's a test. It's all about you. There's no time for quit and no second chances. With your back against the wall you have to give all you have, every minute, every step.

I pushed harder as I covered the last few miles. As I made the 6 mile trek from Snowville to Oak Grove I thought a lot about life, family, bowhunting, and how much I had to break 5 hours. There was no way I was going to let 4hrs and 30mins of tooth and nail running go to the pot because I couldn't keep it together for another 20 minutes. I had to do it. Failure was not an option.

In the end I made it and crossed the line at 4:56:20, good enough for 19th out of 165. Not too shabby and a real step closer in the prep to the 50 miler on August 28, and the elk hunt in September. Details on the 50 miler can be found here.....prep coming soon.

July 6, 2009


Check out the pages of the July/August issue of Eastman's Bowhunting Journal. Page 98 offers up the Elk hunt 2008 as the first story in a brand new feature called "This is My DIY".