Sunday, August 12, 2007

Howl at the Moon 8 Hour Run Race Report

I got a late start on my trip to Illinois Friday night. I got to Marla’s place around 10pm, plenty of time to crash on the couch and wake up at 5am for the race. Saturday morning consisted of me sitting in Marla’s kitchen petting her cats while she ran around the house flipping out about the race, making sure she didn’t forget anything and talking about how terrible she was going to do and how she would probably only be able to do about 40 miles because of the heat. She seems to be like that every time I talk to her before a race. She worries way too much!

Howl at the Moon is an 8 hour timed race. My main goal was to cover 50k, so I could call it an ultra. I was far from recovered from Burning River, but I felt good enough to run. The course is a 3.29 mile loop consisting of about 1 mile of roads and the rest gravel or grass. There is only one hill to speak of in each loop. It was steep but very short, about 25 yards long. Other than that the course was flat and runnable.

About halfway through my first loop I could hear ambulance sirens somewhere in the distance. I didn't know where they were coming from but after going another mile I could see that the ambulance was on the course. Apparently there was a 52 year old man on his first loop of the day when he collapsed, he was pronounced dead on the spot or very shortly after. From what I gathered he was a regular at Howl and everyone was very shaken by this. I hope his family is able to find some comfort in the fact that he passed away doing something he loved. The 18th annual Howl at the Moon will be held in his honor.

My strategy was to run at a normal pace for the first 3 laps (roughly 10 miles) then walk and run the rest of the way to cover 50k in the 8 hour time limit. I felt pretty good when I started running. I was able to keep up a 9:50 pace for the first 5 laps (16.45 miles) then I started my walk/run.

I thought I would be walking a lot more than running for the rest of the race but I didn’t feel like walking for very long periods of time so I was still doing a good amount of running. When I completed my 6th lap I realized that my walk/run was a lot faster than I thought it would be. I at this point I thought I would be able to complete the 50k distance very easily in under 7 hours with this walk/run strategy. As I continued on laps 7 and 8, I thought I might be able to do it in 6:30. It was surprising, because I was going about as casual as I could. I could definitely feel the 100 miles from last week, but I didn’t have any pain in my legs, just muscle fatigue. When I started the 10th lap I looked at my watch and saw that If I just ran two 10 minute miles I could reach the 50k mark in sub 6 hours. Those 2 miles were pretty tough, as I was tired at that point but I passed 50k in 5:58.

I don’t know when it became so easy to run a sub 6 50k but it was a nice feeling. I walked the rest of the 10th lap then decided to take a rest. I had 1.5 hours left. When the clock gets down to 30 minutes they open a short course which is a .25 mile out and back. I was going to rest for an hour until they opened that and run a couple more miles. About 20 minutes into my rest I saw Rosie about to start another loop, She had been at Mohican and Burning River and we had talked for a while earlier in the day.

She asked me if I wanted to go out on another loop with her. It didn’t take much arm-twisting, I decided to join her. We ran/walked that lap while we talked about or running. She is a very experience runner, with many 100 miler finishes and she is just a really nice person. We finished that loop 30 seconds before they opened the short course, perfect! The short course was all on grass and didn’t have very good footing. I went out and back four times. When I got back the fourth time there were only 4 minutes left on the clock. I was pretty worn out at this point but I thought I would see if I could cover the last ½ mile in less than four minutes. I finished up with about 15 seconds spare, Bringing my 8 hour total to 38.69 miles. Not bad one week after a hundred. I’m not sure what I could have gotten on fresh legs, maybe 45 or so. I was happy with the race, glad that I was able to take it easy but still reach my goals.

Are you wondering how Marla did? She won the women’s race, it wasn’t even close. She ended up with something like 51.5 miles, finishing second overall! What a freak! I was happy for her, but I wasn't suprised. I think she was the only one who didn't think she would break 50 miles.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the quick report bro! I have watched their website for results, but it is too soon. That was very impressive!

I am sorry we aren't getting those back to back 50ks next weekend.

Kim said...

Excellent race Josh!! I can't believe you recovered so quickly from the 100. Good going.

Rob "Buckeye" Powell said...

Great job. Thoughst and prayes for the runners family.

Sensationally Red said...

Very sad about the runner dying, but that's the way I'd like to go too...running. Marla is like Debi in my running group. It'd be nice if she had more self-confidence, but we all know she's tough as nails. Glad to hear you ran well and are recovering.

tony said...

I guess running is the way to "go", since none of us is getting out of here alive. But with the BR guy dying on the run in Sweden, and now this guy...I'm gonna start kissing Mike and my wife good-bye before I head out, you never know. As Rob said, prayer for peace and comfort to get through this for the family.

Josh, incredible run and another ultra under your belt! Oh to be young again.

Addy said...

It's amazing how casual you are about ultras, especially so close together. Congrats on another well run race :)

It's sort of frightening with these deaths in the sport, but I guess it is the way most of us would like to go.

Congratulations again. Any chance you'll rest any time soon?

Josh said...


I have to keep my readers happy with the quick reports, lol. Don't worry about the back to back 50k's we can make it up some other time.


Thanks! I wouldn't call it being recovered, but good enough.


Thanks, thoughts and prayers, indeed.


It was such a shock to all of us. I don't think anyone really knew what to think.


We never know how much time we have.
yep, another ultra, number 20 to be exact.


I used to beleive in the whole, run a race every 3 or 4 months, that didn't last long. I have the most fun when I run races, so thats what I do. Rest on the horizon? No way! It will be fall soon, prime racing season!

Anonymous said...


Can I just have a hug? I am not as turned on by the baldness as some.

tony said...

Hey Mike, where's the love? Ok, a hug it is from the bald guy!