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Race Preview: Rockin' K 50 Miler

Posted Apr 04 2013 6:00am
Six months ago, after a doctors visit for blood testing and a check-up, I posted to this blog pictures of a fat, slow, bloated ultra-runner named Sherpa John. I made my mission clear in publicly announcing my plans to lose 20 pounds, and run a PR sub-24 hour 100 Miler at this years Vermont 100. The first test of the season is this Saturday at the 2013 Rockin' K 50 Miler, held at Kanapolis State Park in Ellsworth, KS.

Six months later, I've met my goal to weigh 155 pounds. I'm there more than 3 months ahead of the original plan. I'm running at a pace I haven't run in six years. I've trained for the last 3 months, on terrain that closely resembles the rolling grasslands of Kansas. I feel great and am running near my very best. I always know, that to run Sub-24 Hours at the Vermont 100, I need to be able to tackle 50 miles at around a 10 hour pace. So that's my first time goal this weekend, at or below 10 hours.

But then there's this question I've seldom asked myself in all the years I've been running these things... "What am I capable of?" Perhaps it's a good weekend to find out. The perfect weekend will show me at the finish line with a time faster than 8:58. Which is my current 50 Mile PR (2008 Vermont 100). With weather forecasts calling for 75 degrees on a gorgeous, sunny day.. the rest of up to me. A race plan with pacing and nutrition in mind. And the want... I have to want it.. and would't ya know.. I do. Sub 9 hours at Rockin K' is typically good enough for a top 5 finish. It's also in the realm for the top 20 fastest times in race history. Last years winning time was 8:33, set by Jeremy Morris.. a young man who has won the race the last three years and is returning again. (8:13, 8:47, 8:33). Paul Schoenlaub is coming back, who won the race three years in a row from 2004-2006 (8:36, 8:58, 9:19). Todd Knott, who's race record in 1999 still stands at 7:17 (he ran an 8:39 last year). My good friend and training partner Jerry Armstrong will be there, and his race aspirations/goals are good enough to find him with a podium finish.

The bottom line is.. I'm not sure what to expect. The only givens are that... Sherpa is back. I'm 20 lbs lighter, I'm faster, and I've got that fire inside that I haven't had in a long time. I wonder if I can compete with the big names. I wonder if I can run one of those fast times. Either way, I would love me a PR for 50 miles right about now to really show myself my current potential for the 2013 Vermont 100. Ultra sign-up predicts I'll finish near the bottom of the pack with a time of 13:07, which would be over the 12 hour cut-off. The least I can do is show Ultrasignup where to stuff it.

To top it all off.. this weekend is the 7 year anniversary of my first 100 Miler at McNaughton Park (2007). It's only fitting that this weekends race be in the plains as well. It's also approaching the 7 year anniversary of my grandfathers passing.. and as always, I run for those who can't. I'll be thinking of Moe this weekend.. while I try and tear it up.

Race Goals:
1.) Finish
2.) Sub 10-Hours
3.) PR 8:57

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