Hat - check
Gloves - check
jacket - needed to be washed
pants (all three pairs) - needed to be washed
cold weather underwear - needed to be washed
Laundry sounded like a lot of work last night in order to prepare for an easy 40 minute run. Okay, change of plans - easy on the dreadmill, weights, and stretching.
Easy 40 minutes turned into a 5.5 mile 45 minute easy run. I did my core body workout and did some arm/shoulder/back free weights. My arms already feel it.
Long run outside planned for tomorrow!
Okay, this is my buddy John running with me over lunch today. Do you see how many layers he is wearing?
Today's run was the hills labeled "Pain". Enough said. These are 7.5 miles of killer hills. Mix it up with the snow and ice, and you get a perfect training run for an upcoming trail run.
Last week, we were up in Minnesota celebrating Christmas with my in-laws. I was able to get in a couple of decent outside runs, including a solid run on the trails and a 10 mile run. It all felt good and I'm now getting focused for a hopefully decent race at Psycho in KC on Feb 13.
With the hills of Psycho, I'm stepping up my hill training. Because we got back late last night, I didn't have time to prepare to run outside today, so I was inside on the treadmill. I did the following workout which lasted about 46 minutes with a few minutes of walking after the cool down - All at about a 8 min pace.
5 minutes warm-up (slightly slower than 8 min pace)
incline at 5,6, and 7 (slightly faster) minute each;3 min recovery (slightly slower); incline at 6,7, and 8; 3 min recovery; incline at 7,8, and 9; 3 min recovery; incline at 8, 9, and 10; 3 min recovery, incline at 9,8, and 7; 3 min recovery; incline at 8,7, and 6; 3 min recovery; incline at 7,6, and 5
5 minute cool down + walking.
A solid Monday run.
This past weekend, I headed out on two back to back outdoor runs. With all the snow we have received, it was slow going for me, but just what I needed!
On Saturday morning, I headed out with the Saturday morning group. It was great to be back with the group. However, it was difficult to stop after only 6 miles. Many of them were headed out for 10 more miles when I had to depart. I forgot how much I miss the long run, it gives me a chance to challenge myself each week - there is nothing like being done and looking back at a 15+ mile run and giving yourself a pat on the back for the accomplishment.
Sunday was an easy 6.5 mile run with John. Sunday mornings are usually designated for trail runs, but since there is like 3 ft of snow on the trails, we decided to best stay in town.
A twelve mile weekend? I'll take it. Patience and progress is my mantra at this point.
I did set myself a goal - I recently signed up for the Psycho Wyco trail run in February. The race offers a 10 mile, 20 mile, and 50k option. I signed up for the 20 mile run and will shoot for it. One of the hardest courses ever but run by a great trail running group out of KC - the trail nerds.
The plan is take today off of running (likely elliptical and some strenght training today) and hit a couple of easy runs on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The elliptical was fine - 60 minutes burned around 900 calories for me; or at least that is what the machine said!
While on the elliptical, I was watching one of my guilty pleasure shows - Rachel Ray. I really like Rachel - and today, I found out that she is starting to run everyday - at least 3.5 miles and will start to increase her miles. Yep, I'm sold - I'm signing up for the Rachel Ray fan club.
One of the segments today talked about these woman who started a lunchtime running group in Chicago. They meet 3-4 times a week and run over lunch anywhere from 3 to 7 miles.
I've long been an advocate of the lunch time run, many reasons where the same as the woman in the group. It rejuvenates the mind and body and it is a great break in day. Also, it is "soul warming" to be able to run with people over lunch. I rarely "not" smile and laugh with my lunchtime running buds, and truly enjoy the company of my running friends.
I can't wait to get out more often with my running lunch buddies as I start my road back to everyday running!
So today was a welcome normal workout - 45 minutes hard cycle class (Kari was brutal on the hills today) and 20 minute run. I was a bit apprehensive on the run because I thought for sure my shin would hurt. It didn't get worse, in fact, after a bit of loosening up, it felt really good. No pushing it though, I stayed within my 20 minutes. I did change the speed, start at 8 min miles, then after 5 minutes, moving to 7:43. I left the incline at 1.5 and left both there as it felt really comfortable. I pushed it a bit with 5 minutes remaining, increasing the speed to 7:30 pace. Instead of going faster with 4 minutes left, I increase the incline each minute, first to 5, than to 7, then to 10 and held it at each for 1 minute before bringing it back down to 5 before settling into a 4 minute walk to cool down. I finished with the general strenght workout out and some stretches.
Today my thoughts while running centered on having passion - about challenging yourself to do something and believing that you can do it. It came from watching the movie Julie and Julia - which I recommend. I believe the movie represents two incredibly strong but struggling woman trying to find a place for herself. I, of course, relate this running. I think about all the souls who start to train for their first marathons, and after a few months of training, the tears and smiles they display at the finish line. For many people, the story ends there - and it is a great story. For others, it is the start of something more. It becomes their passion.
It felt good to be back. My shin seems fine, but the 5 mile run was hard. Simply put, I'm not used to running. I think just about 3 months ago, I won a 50 mile race. Not any more. Other runners are telling me how quickly I'll come back - we'll just have to wait and see.
It is funny how the small things are noticed on the run. I was going over a wooden bridge - and sometime between the last time I ran and now, the city replaced some of the old boards on the bridge. The city has still not fixed the large gaping hole on the bike path - but maybe that is slated for next summer.
The 5 mile run was an easy run done in about 38 minutes. A little bit fast, but it didn't feel that fast.
After the run - I spent about 15 minutes doing some general strength training along with stretching. This is new to me - instead of running a mile or two longer, I now know the importance of a proper warm-up and cool down in order to keep me healthy and running for a long time.
For the general strength training - it was a pedestal routine. It goes something like this - all 8 to 10 reps:
1. prone hand stand, single leg raise
2. supine hand stand, single leg raise
3. prone elbow stand, single leg raise
4. supine elbow stand, single leg raise
5. lateral elbow stand, single leg raise
6. lateral hand stand, single leg raise (these are hard!)
7. prone flexed knee elbow stand, hip lift
8. supine flexed knee elbow stand, hip lift
9. crunch with low reach
10. crunch with low reach and twist
You can find a video about it here:
Here is the link to the recipe: http://recipes.runnersworld.com/Recipe/crispy-parmesan-chicken.aspx
This is a "keeper" recipe. We'll use it again!
Oh yeah - I also did this on Sunday.....
Here is how I made them:
3/4 cup oat flour
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup skim milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Directions: Heat milk (can use water) until hot, stir in oats and set aside. Beat egg whites into a stiff peaks with hand mixer, and set aside. Mix all the dry ingredients and stir in oatmeal/milk mixture. Fold in egg whites until mixture is well blended.
I cooked on a griddle at 375, brown both sides. This makes about 10-12 pancakes - a serving is 5-6 pancakes or half of the recipe.
For the toppings, last night I used:
tablespoon unsalted peanuts
sprinkle of homemade granola
1 serving of sugar free syrup
These were good!! Served with two scrabbled eggs made this a filling supper.
Nutrition information for the meal: 639 calories, 89 g carbs, 20g fat, 36 g protein. The toppings added a solid 150 calories, but they were worth it!
(5 pancakes were 313 calories, 49 carbs, 5 fat, 20 protein).
You could trim down the toppings if needed. Also, use better n'eggs instead of real eggs for the protein on the side and you can still have a 500 calorie meal.
I had a bigger supper because of spending 60 minutes spinning on the bike yesterday pretty hard. My calorie count for the day was around 2200. This even included a glass of milk and a chocolate chip cookie at the end of day (desert with the boys watching Colorado blow the upset against OK state.)
For the day, my calories came from the following - 35% protein, 42% carbs, 23% fat. My protein percentage is still a little high, but I'm not yet getting in a longer than 60 minute minute workout. When I start going above 60 minutes, I'll increase my total calories and begin to put those extra calories toward carbs - shooting for somewhere around a 50% carb, 25% protein, and 25% fat diet.
Simple said, these are the best pancakes ever. This is from the Highland Grill in St. Paul, MN. These are the "Jack Cakes". As stated in the menu "Three oatmeal pancakes topped with peanuts, house made granola, banana, blueberries, raisins and honey. Meets your daily requirement for everything." If I die and go to heaven, I hope St. Peter's cafe has these available.
My running is still not happening, however, I'm just a few days away from lacing the shoes up again. I'm looking forward to this.
However, I admit, I have become exactly what I never wanted to become, someone obsessed with running. When I started running, I enjoyed it for the fun of running, being outside. Along the way, I became more passionate about running and more serious.
Now, I live for running. Don't get me wrong, I live for my wife, kids, and family as well. I live for good friendships and great experiences. But I also live for running.
So somewhere along the way, I decided that I need to invest in my running to keep it enjoyable. First it was just the perfect shoes, then better gear, then challenging and races that show off great parts of the country. Is there more? Oh yes.
Then it became the running groups and running friends. It became that my sports doctor became my primary physician. Then I couldn't figure out how to plan/train for ultra runs; so I hired a running coach. I wanted to run longer, faster and maintain good healthy habits. Okay, I could use a nutritionist. I should probably work on my bio mechanics and injury prevention so my stress fracture doesn't come back and I can stay a healthy injury free runner for a long time. Enter my new friend, the physical therapist who evaluated my running stride and now wants to get a closer look at my bio mechanics.
Hmmm... is this still fun? You bet. All for the run of it.
My shin is really good, I had to ref a game for my youngest son's soccer team (in addition to coaching at the same time) this past week, and absolutely no pain or "feeling" anything in my shin. Another 4 weeks until I start running, so I'm optimistic that it is healing well. I cycle/swim/elliptical 6 days a week for at least 60 minutes, and do one long workout (90 min) on the weekend - by combining two of the three - (example 45 min swim/45 min elliptical or bike).
I hired a nutritionist to help me out. She specializes in endurance athletes. So far all is good.
I started out on a restrictive diet to lose a few pounds that I recently put on because of the lack of running. I'm already back down to my goal weight, so now it is a matter of increasing the amount of protein to help my body recover and heal and cutting out the junk food. Currently, I'm at a 2000 calorie diet. When eating lots of plants (I now know what Mark Bittman is referring to here) - they can be filling. For example, for lunch today I had 6 oz of chicken and 3 cups of veggies which came in at less than 300 calories for lunch. I've increased the amount I eat in the morning as well to start my day off on the right foot. Instead of my usual what bagel with natural peanut butter, my mornings have recently included a big egg omelet with veggies, along with a cup of oatmeal. That was a big breakfast, but it keeps me full for the morning.
However, my meals have not been my downfall - it is the snacking that has always been problematic. She has given me many options for snacks - and that is going well. I'll start to take some pics of my food and post them out here.
I really miss running this time of year - if you can, get out and enjoy the beautiful colors of the trees - it is the best!!
Prior to class, I lifted - I'll admit - my lifting is not great, so I'm open if anyone has any thoughts on how to improve my routine. Here is what I did today - all three sets of 10 reps on the following on machines:
- lat pull down
- bicep curl
- chest press
- lateral raise
- triceps push down
- shoulder press
Between class and the upper body workout, I ran out of time to do my core routine. I'll do that tonight as I watch the biggest loser.
Food is becoming more and more important to me - I am really starting to get into a habit of eating whole foods as best I can. For example, today I made a salad for lunch. Salads can be tricky, but I found this handy container where you put the dressing in the top and it keeps is separated from the salad until I'm ready to eat. I like this container!
As far as what was in the container, it was a pretty easy. I used about a cup and half of baby spinach, about three large strawberries sliced, a tablespoon of light balsamic vinaigrette, and about 1/8 of a cup of feta cheese. This is one of my favorite salads. Sometimes, when I need a bit more, I'll put some grilled chicken or some turkey from deli on this. Yummy! Also, I'm going to try this with beans instead of meat sometime - like red kidney beans!
1 min rest
1 min rest
5 min warm up
1 min hard
1 min easy
2 min hard
1 min easy
3 min hard
1 min easy
4 min hard
1 min easy
3 min hard
1 min easy
1 min hard
Overall - 52 minutes in the pool. 8 minutes short of my daily goal - but I have soccer practice tonight - so chasing around a group of 4 and 5 year olds, as well as then chasing around 6 and 7 year olds right after that should get me to that hour.
Seriously, the pool is boring. I need a waterproof mp3 player or something....
About three hours later, the games were finally called off. I was happy to have a Saturday without running the kids around, but now starts the process of trying to fit in and reschedule those games into an already busy weekday schedule.
However, with how much my boys giggle, laugh, and smile; I know all of my "trouble" is worth it.
Anyway - as for the workouts lately - I'm still doing okay without running, but it is tough. I spent 35 minutes on Saturday doing the elliptical before swimming for 55 minutes. The 90 minute workout was my longest in a long time.
Today - I spent 45 minutes on the bike. Solid workout, but a little light after yesterday's longer workout.
Just in case you are wondering how I spend my 45 minutes spinning; here is the routine I follow:
Warm up 5-7 minutes
I've adopted Mark Bittman's philosophy of "eat more plants". When I get hungry for snacks, I reach for whole foods - such as apples, bananas, and grapes instead of granola bars or protein bars. If it comes in a package, it is likely not on my list to eat.
People thought I ate well before, crazy how there is always room for improvement!
I did have an interesting meeting yesterday with a nutritionist/runner. She had some really good suggestions for me, and I'm anxious to see her proposals about moving forward. More on that in another post....
One question she asked me was "What is your goal?"
An interesting question. Of course, I do think there is value in having A goal, but really, I look to add bang for my buck - so having a few goals in mind help me maintain focus. For example, here is how I responded to the question -
First - I want to maintain some good physical condition while I can't run for the next 7 weeks. I don't want to gain extra pounds while I'm out.
Next - When I return to running, I want to position myself to be a better, faster, and stronger runner. If I can begin healthy eating habits now, I should be able to continue them while I return to running.
Long term - I want to be able to better understand how nutrition helps my performance - what/when I should eat. While I train for a marathon/ultra run, I usually need 3000 to 3500 calories just to maintain my weight per day. Many of those calories come at the end of the day when I am hungry and in the form of ice cream or junk food. Probably not ideal - but I never was taught how to eat during these training periods.
Overall long term goal - I've been reading books about making decisions about what to eat that is not only healthy, but also good for social/environmental reasons. I want to be able to start to make good food choices, that in the long term, may be beneficial for generations to come. For example, buying food from the local food coop, eating more plants - less animals, etc and reducing my carbon footprint.
So - there are my goals. This is one area where I look to set goals in area of short term and long term. I'll reset or adjust my short term goals when needed, while keeping in mind my long term goals.
Anyway, last night we had a great mac and bacon recipe found here: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1918488
Melissa, once again, did the cooking. It turned out yummy. We substituted regular penne past with whole wheat pasta - which is what we usually always do at our house anyway. We served it with green beans.
Here is a picture of the plate - however - this is the magazine picture - I forgot to take a pic of my actual plate.
I would also like to report that it took almost all of my will power, but I did not "snack" excessively last night. After 8 pm, no eating for me. After viewing a couple of tips about emotional eating, I decided if I wanted to see if I could make it through my craving time between 8-10 pm. The above meal filled me up and I was not hungry. I had used most of calories for the day so I knew that I shouldn't be too hungry going into the evening. I'm sure there will be times that I will need to eat in the evening depending on my calorie count for the day, but yesterday was not one of those days.
Yes, I have not run in almost two full weeks. And yes, I smell like chlorine from the pool.
I have been doing quite a bit of swimming and cycling. On Sunday, I went out for a 30 mile bike ride. I was wiped at the end of cycling 30 miles, I can't believe there are people out there who like to run that far....oh wait a second!!
I have started to take a closer look at what I can do outside of running to make sure I come back from this injury in reasonable running shape. So, I have started to watch what I eat among other things.
I watch what I eat, I really haven't changed what I eat, but I do watch the Little Debbie Cosmic brownie get unwrapped and get into my mouth.
I know that I need to eat better.....
I'm not sure how many calories I actually burn through when I run, but I'm guessing my average 60 mile running week burns an additional 6000 calories or so a week. You can see how the absence of running might effect my diet.
I'm still trying to hit 60 minutes of cardio a day, 6 days a week, with swimming, cycling, and yes, elliptical. I've also started to water jog (yawn). Even with all of this, I seem to have put on a few pounds. I think some of the stress of not running is getting to me and, since I'm an emotional eater, the less I run - the more I eat. Hence - me and Little Debbie getting closer over the past couple of weeks.
So - to recap - less calories burned due to decreased exercise PLUS an increase in "junk" food calorie intake = a bigger Doug.
My wife is great - she is really supportive of helping me through this stress fracture. For example, she prepared a great meal below, and this is hopefully the first of many entries about trying to eat right...
We recently had the Cooking Light's Barbecue Sirloin and Blue Cheese Salad for supper. You can find the recipe here: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1918481
This is what our salad looked like.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the elliptical. I admire people for getting to the gym to workout and put forth a strong effort on these machines. But for an ultra runner to use a machine like this? He must have a stress fracture.....
I received an email from my running coach. I wanted to know what I should do while I'm sidelined from running. I was looking for some advice on what to do for general strength training. He mentioned to me to watch the video "building a better runner" available at runningdvds.com.
I sent a copy of the email to my buddy John asking if he ever heard of this obscure video. He replied with a note of "I have a copy at home, you can borrow it for a bit."
John has everything related to running. I secretly think he has some sort running museum in his basement that has a history of running.
It sure is nice to have a friend like John!
Okay - now for the updates on the MRI. My doctor has reviewed these results. It appears I have a high grade III stress fracture. I'm out of running for 8 weeks. Yikes. That puts me right up against Turkey Day. Even when I return to running, it will be a slow methodical return. In other words - no competitive running until late spring/early summer of next year.
There are many factors contributing to the stress fracture.
1. Nutrition - with the amount of calories and protein I need to maintain for the ultra distance training, I am likely not getting the proper amounts at the key times. Think pre/during/post race nutrition here.
2. Core/General Strength/Flexibility - nuff said - don't do enough of this.
3. Bio mechanics - the front of my tibia is taking more than its share of the workload than needed.
I'm taking a look at options on how to proceed, but likely get some help with all three of these items.
It should be an interesting 8 weeks. Oh yeah - I can still cross train and do some strength training.
Looks like a lot of indoor training for me with the exception of an occasional bike ride.
So no, I didn't sit on a sit-n-spin for an hour. I cycled hard for one hour. I actually attended class. It was not easy, a good challenging instructor, and lots of time in zones 3 and 4 made for solid workout.
I've started to pay more attention to what I eat. Missing out on 60-80 miles of running a week due to shin injury means no more milkshakes and pop tarts as a bedtime treat to maintain calories.
Also - I have been reading more and more lately about foods that not only healthy but also good or "green" for the environment.
I picked up a book by Mark Bittman titled "Food Matters". I am not sure if I agree with Mr. Bittman a 100%, but he at least makes me think about what I eat and the "cost" of that food - not just the price I pay, but what impacts the food I could eat cost the environment around me.
Anyway - My MRI for the shin is tomorrow, not sure when I'll hear from Dr. Chad and crew regarding results, but my shin is feeling fine. I would normally be running, but I'll wait until results come back. Swimming against Shaq, cycling, and lifting seem to be distracting me enough at this point not to run.
I may start talking more about my nutrition since I'm not running. There is only so much I can think about while spinning in a room for an hour.
I think I found it. I want to beat Shaq in the water.
Did anyone else see Shaq vs. last night when he took on Michael Phelps?
Okay - I really don't set the bar all that high, but I wanted to go to the pool today to see how I could compare to Shaq, at least in the pool. I'll admit, he didn't look pretty in the pool, and he looked slowed compared to OLYMPIC athletes. Don't get me wrong, he is not a pro, but his times were decent.
For his 25 meter race, I believe he raced it in 18 seconds. For the 50 meter, he swam it in something like 38 seconds. (I can't seem to find his actual times on the Internet). Nothing too fast here - but than again nothing too slow.
I figured, I could go to the pool today and beat that time. No such deal. I did swim a half mile before attempting the fast swims, but still, I do occasionally swim and in my mind, look faster than what Shaq did on ABC.
I did two 25 meter runs - 20.1 second, and 19.08 seconds. I did one 50 meter swim fast - 40 seconds. It was hard and I was flying. Crazy a guy as big as Shaq can move that fast in the water. I'm sure he was using all his upper body strength but hey, if it works.....
Okay - new goal for the next couple of weeks - a 37 second 50 meter swim and a 17 second 25 meter swim.
Thanks for giving me something to shoot for Shaq!
Just to get people caught up - it is either a level 1 or 2 stress fracture (MRI will determine treatment and how long I'll be out) OR it is something with my tendon/muscle irritating my bone - which doc thinks can be corrected with orthopedics and I can still run this fall. Only a MRI will give him a definite answer. He suggested that we could do a trail and error - for example, get fit for orthopedics and see if helps (although it would be up to me if the pain was getting better) OR no running till Jan (assume bad stress fracture and let it heal for 3 months) and start running again; if the pain returned than it is likely not a stress fracture.
Either way, I'm not sure I like this medical elimination approach.
FYI...Our health care system is a mess. Try calling around and getting a quote on "lower extremity without contrast MRI". I received an answer of $991 (after about 3 hrs of calling about 6 different imaging labs, I only received this one answer). That price is before my insurance carrier discount; which I called my insurance carrier and they didn't know what the final price would be. I received somewhere between $700 and $900. Why can't I shop around for MY MRI????
Anyway, after the run on Friday, my shin was not happy with me. I took the weekend off, cycling on Sunday for 60 minutes, and decided to swim today.
After a couple of email exchanges, I decided it was time to go in and get the shin looked at.
I'm not optimistic regarding the outcome of the Dr appt, my guess is it will be take some time off (4-6 weeks) and some stretches etc.
I'll continue to run through others, keeping track of all my running friends and their journeys to whatever their next race for me.
Oh well, I'll be a regular guy runner soon!
For the first 7 miles, I ran around the Marriott hotel for a couple of laps, headed out for 6 miles, and came back to finish up around the Marriott while waiting for Carla to start the last six.
Why? The Circus is in town; specifically, Britney's Circus. There were about 5 different tour buses surrounding the hotel, and Britney was likely somewhere inside.
The first thing Carla asked was "Did you see her?" Nope. We headed out on the the remaining 6 miles of my run. I was hoping Brit might come out and want to run a quick 5 miles with Carla and I. After meeting us, she would comp us tickets for tonight's circus show and be her special guests since we are just that cool.
No such luck. Apparently it is a strength training day for Brit.
Dave Mathews will be in town in a couple of weeks - anyone know if he is a runner?
After the swim, I went to lift weights and do my core workout. All was good, a solid 1 hr cross training effort for the day.
I am learning to appreciate running more as I haven't been running everyday lately. I really look forward to runs, and having cross training days such as today, makes being away from running palatable.
Carla wanted to get in a tempo run today - my thought was to try and push a temp run - 2 X 2 miles with a 2 mile warm up, 2 mile cool down, and 1 mile easy run in between the 2 miles of tempo. I did not have my trusty Garmin with me today, but according to Carla we hit the faster 2 mile sets at a 7:05 pace. It was fun to go that fast again.
After the run, I sat down to stretch and do my ab routine. I noticed the shorts I was running in had a huge rip in the seam along with a big hole. RATS!! I really liked those running shorts! In fact, they were to be slated to be used at Lean Horse until I decided I need some shorts with more pockets.
My wife usually is the one to throw away "over used" running items for me. I hang onto them way to long, almost like an emotional attachment for me. However, today was different - I simply tossed them after the run. I really like those shorts, there was no hard feelings toward them, and I simply told those shorts (in my head, not out loud); Thanks for all the great runs!
Just for the record - I'm amazed at the different builds of people who swim and at which speed some people can swim.
I was between to people today - a young guy who was thin, likely a runner doing some cross training, and an older woman, medium build, who looked like she was totally comfortable in the water.
I was amazed at how skillful the woman was in the water - each stroke was propelling her toward the other end of the pool. As for the young man next to me, his arms were going through the air faster than I could see them but yet he seemed to be swimming in place - not really moving forward at all.
It reminded me to slow down, take it easy, and enjoy what I'm doing. Sometimes it is not about how fast you get to the other side, it is about how you get there and sometimes trying to move too fast just seems to slow you down.
I have never really felt like John and I get into a good running rhythm at Jester Park. The trails don't seem to flow together, we usually need to stop and turn around; or figure out which area to run again.
However, today was different. It was a great 8 mile loop that flowed well. We ran through hills, along the lake (or river? I think it is a lake??) and today the loop worked out well.
My shin is getting better - I have ran twice now over two weeks. I'm going to still take it easy though - no need to push the recovery as I don't have a race planned at this point for the late fall or winter.
But the trails just felt right. Maybe I'll skip a marathon this fall and try another trail race before the year's end??
It was like having a conversation with a friend who you haven't seen in a while.....
Or tasting ice cream on a hot summer day....
Or hot chocolate on a cold winter day.....
In other words, it was comforting to me. I don't know when this happened, but running is so much a part of me, that running actually sooths my soul. It makes me a calmer person, a a patient dad, and (although my wife may disagree) a more understanding husband.
Today's run was an easy 5 miles. I wanted to see how it went. No lies, I even thought running 5 miles after the 50 mile race should seem easy. It wasn't - my two week hiatus from running caused some struggle in the 5 mile run.
Like that first awkwardness of saying hello to that old friend, or eating the ice cream too fast that a "brain freeze" occurs, or you burn the roof of your mouth because the hot chocolate is not "just" hot, but scolding.
Yes, a little bit of uncomfortable is okay, but in the end, you just feel better. When you finish that conversation, eat that last bite of ice cream, or finishing up that list sip of hot chocolate - you sit back and smile.
Those items felt so comforting, you can't wait to do it again.
Yep - me and running - can't wait to do it again.
I am pretty sure I have an addictive personality trait. I'm glad this is being used for running and not something else.
However, it is a struggle for me not to run. I have been having a little problem with my shin over the past 6 weeks and I need to let it heal. I decided I would get through Lean Horse and then take some time to let it mend.
It is a bit sore today, but I feel like I could run an easy five miles. GRRR!!!
Anyway, I have been working out, just not running. I did take Sunday and Monday off after the race. But since then:
Tuesday: Swim 35 minutes
Wednesday: Upper body lifting/abs
Thursday: Swim 40 minutes
My arms are sore!!! Maybe I should give my arms a day off and run????
One thing I can share is what I ate today in prep for the 50 mile adventure.
WARNING - lots of food
2 pieces of PB toast
Cup of instant oatmeal
Bowl of raisin bran cereal
Grilled Chicken Sandwich
1 slice of strawberry rhubarb pie
Clif Bar (brownie)
Speghetti with meat sause
Lots and lots of water, lemonade, and 1 diet coke
I'll be burning about 8000 calories tomorrow. I'm just filling up the tank!
I'll check in tomorrow with race results.
Top Stressful Events for a Runner
As most of us have read or heard before, there are many stressful events a person can come upon in their lifetime. There are many top stressful events people mention, and in no particular order, some of the events repeated in different articles are death in the family, marriage/divorce, new family members, loss of job, and variations of each. No doubt even many reading this can attest to these as top life stressful events. For each of us, running is possibly part of the solution or our way of coping with life’s large or even not so large stressful events.
I have found that life likes to play a little joke on each of us. Just because I am a runner who uses running as a way to help cope with life’s stressful event, running itself triggers some additional stressful situations. I would consider these a “second tier” of stressful events. Here are some that I have come up with, in no particular order:
• Determining a race to run
• Changing Shoes
• Weather related issues on important running days
• Health as it relates to running
I could easily go into depth regarding any one of these items. Lately though, changing shoes has been on my mind. For many, including even some runners, changing shoes is not a big deal. Then, for some runners like me, changing shoes is a HUGE deal.
When I first started to try and lose some weight back in 2002, I remember slipping on my old indoor soccer shoes. I started with a run/ walk program and eventually worked my way up to two miles. Once I started to run a bit more, I bought whatever cross training shoes that seemed to generally work. After a couple of months, I would head over to Kohl’s and search out the cheapest and nicest looking shoe to fit my need. Then I started to hit about 5 miles at a time and going more than 20 miles a week. Although I had already made a commitment to running, it was time I stopped playing the field of shoes a settle into a long term relationship with my sole’s mate.
The new friends I made through running suggested I go to Fitness Sports. After spending what seemed like the entire afternoon of trying on shoes, I slipped on a white and royal blue Saucony Grid Omni 3 shoes that provided a sliver of heaven for my feet. The heel cushioning was soft, the weight of the shoe was light, and the fore foot toe box fit my feet like soft leather gloves.
Some romantics let you know they found their true love once their eyes met their future partner for life. I did not experience this with my wife and thought that I never would (for the record, I dated my wife’s roommate, and pulled off the roommate switch, another story for another time). However, once I laced up that Saucony Omni shoe, I just knew I found that shoe; or maybe THE shoe for me.
I spent much time over the next few years with my beloved Saucony shoes. Like any relationship, it evolved over time. For me, I was running faster, longer, and more often. She went through some color changes and fabric updates (Omni 4 and 5). The changes each of us were going through seemed to compliant the other. We began to think nothing of setting new PRs as each race we seemed to just get stronger. The ultimate goal was beginning to become clear and it was time to shoot for a Boston Marathon qualifying time.
We kept up our intensity of the training and soon began to realize our goal could be attained. After many hours of emotional high and lows through training in cold, hot and damp weather, we decided to make a run for our goal at Grandma’s in 2006. I remember it well, as the black flag of death was placed out that day due to intense heat in the early summer run. However, without doubt, I knew that I and my Saucony Omni could do it. Through the heat and many water stops, I remember crossing that finish line while fist pumping as the goal became a reality. I remember after the race, although surrounded by many volunteers, I sat on the ground to slip off the “more than good friend” that led me to my goal. We did it.
After that run, we had a great summer. With the pressure of getting a Boston Qualifying time off our shoulders, we ran just for the love of running. Later that year, we smashed our Boston qualifying time by 4 minutes; setting my ultimate marathon PR of 3:06.
Then, we both seemed to change, this time, we didn’t change together. My miles began to increase, and the comfort she once provided wasn’t there any more. She changed her colors, and went to a new “Pro” grid instead of the “regular” grid. She must have thought this to be an improvement; however, to me it only made matters worse. My shins began to feel the effect. I tried to hang on to what we had built over the years by ignoring the new changes and focusing on the old items that once made us click. However, it just was not met to last.
After a good six years, I needed to move on. Since last fall, I started to try out some various shoes. Nike, New Balance, even a pair of Asics as a rebound shoe; but nothing seemed to fit as well as those Saucony shoes. I even came across a new pair of the old shoes in my closet. I occasionally wear them, but I know there is no future for me and this shoe.
Last week, I went to the Running Room and slid on a pair of Addis SuperNovas. Uh-oh, what is this I feel? A sliver of heaven for my feet.
My mind began to wonder about "Spook"....
There is a particular 1/2 mile stretch where the route gets its name. Legend has it a popular Des Moines chef was murdered on the side of the gravel road sometime around the middle of the last century by the Mafia. Runners have since claimed strange happenings along the stretch of the road. For example, one of the runners was out on a hot 80 degree day but when he reached this stretch, it was so cold he could see his breath!! Another claims instead of taking the normal 4-5 minutes to this stretch, he seemed to lost a half of time.
Anyway, the story and runners' stories went through my head during the run today. It was a nice break from thinking about the impending 50 mile run.
What?? A 50 mile run?? Maybe, I need to think about that a bit......
I know the philosophy is to keep the intensity of the runs going into the race while scaling back on the overall number of miles being ran. In short, go run hard, but not long.
But this close to the race? I buy into the run hard, not long philosophy, but only so close to a race. Generally a week before a race (marathon or ultra), I stay off my feet as much as possible. Ask my beloved wife, who knows the grass rarely gets mowed a week prior to a race, there is no browsing at stores or window shopping at a mall; I play baseball with the kids from my chaise lounger, and there is a noticeable increase in my Wii time.
So today's run goes against what I've generally done in the past about tapering the week before a race.
The workout was 8 x 2 minute at threshold pace (6:45) with 1 minute recovery. Today, these went easy, in fact, these were really easy. I ended up going quite a bit faster - 6:20's for the first few and really had to watch my pace to slow down for those two minutes. For my cool down, I ran 1.5 miles at a 7:45 pace, which was feeling like the effort of a 8:45 pace. Overall, this was 6 mile run with 3 miles at a fast pace.
This is very good. A great mental boost with a few days until the big race. Like I said, this goes against what I normally do for an ultra race, but than again, I don't normally run a 50 mile race.
Sunday was an easy 40 minutes. My wife had wedding shower/bachelorette party on Saturday night. My very responsible wife drove the restaurant but than carpooled with others, I'm sure to save on gas and NOT for any other reason (yeah, right?). Since I run all over, I mentioned to to her no need for both of us to go pick up the car, I'll just run to it. Then off I went, with my wallet and key. Hmmm....maybe I do have a running problem.
The Heed subtle Mandarin orange was the winner of the taste test. I bought a canister at Scheel's this weekend and am now getting prepared for the race.
I am a huge nerd, I put together a spreadsheet with detailed drop bag information, what I need to do at each aid station, what and when I need to eat, when I need to change clothes, etc. For example, in case anyone was wondering, I plan to change by shirt and socks at mile 33. I plan to also take an electrolyte supplement, mix my Heed, refill my water bottle, eat real food, and reapply sunscreen.
Really - is it race time yet????
If you asked me how I decided I was running or racing 50 miles, I don't know that I actually ever decided. I know at some point I had to register, but even then, not sure I had much of a decision.
The discussion originally came up when John was thinking about running a 100 mile race. From what I remember many months ago, the discussion went something like this:
John - "I'm thinking about running a 100 mile race in the fall. There is one in August that might work out well. The only problem is it is a long ways away. I can't go by myself and drive back that far just after running a 100 miles. I think I may need a driver."
Me - "Huh, do they have anything shorter than a 100 mile race, if there is, I could maybe help drive back."
John - "yes, there is a 50 miler, that would work out well for both of us."
So there you have it - that is how I am running 50 miles. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about the adventure, I am up for the challenge, and there is nothing like running a full day. I am passionate about running, and am looking forward to it. But if John didn't need a driver, I'm not sure if I would be doing this crazy thing!!
One week to go!
1 week and a day to until Lean Horse!
Most of my thoughts during the run today were about planning for this 50 mile race next weekend. I would like to think I could just show up and run 50 miles, but unfortunately, there is lots of planning to do. I have three columns across a spreadsheet regarding mile splits. The forth set of times is a bit different, as it show a pace between aid stations, but than adds 2 minutes for each aid station for walking and refueling. I then have sections titled: Packing List, Aid station list, Drop Bag 1 list, Drop Bag 2 list, and shopping list......The planning for this race has been just about as hard as the training!! I know you can't read the picture below, but if you have any suggestions about anything to inlcude, please let me know!
By the way, the drawing in the lower left hand corner is a duffel bag. The duffel bag has three various sizes of Ziploc bags inside of it. The three bags are: a small bag of must grabs at each aid station (Clif shot blocks, pre-measured electrolyte mix, sunscreen wipes, etc.); the second bag is a change of clothing (Socks, Shoes, shirt, etc.); the third bag is a what if bag (band aids, toothbrush, athletic tape, etc.) Yes - a toothbrush - if I have to puke, I'd like to be able to brush my teeth - especially since I'm wearing braces right now!
I noticed I forgot to list my (wife's) Ipod and have since added it to the list. If anyone has any suggestions regarding some good workout songs, let me know. 50 miles is a long ways, and an eclectic mix of music may do some good. I can listen to anything from country to hard rock to classical.
It is about as hilly as you can get in Des Moines. The winding hilly run through the South of Grand neighborhood is always challenging.
Today's running route reminded me of a couple of guys who showed me the route about 7 years ago, and whose company I miss as I haven't run with either of them in a long time. These two guys played a significant role in my life - they introduced me to the "long run".
I remember when I first started running to lose weight. One of my co-workers noticed I had lost a bunch of weight, knew I was running over lunch, and one day asked if I wanted to tag along for an easy 5 miles.
He was tapering for an Iron Man. Remember when your mom or dad told you to not "run with the wrong crowd?" I think my mom had something else in mind, but I started my long distance training with a small group of guys who thought the half iron man distance was barely worth doing.
Next week, I'm heading off to attempt my first 50 mile run. I have a problem, I run way to much, and probably should blame these two guys.
FYI.... Yesterday, I tried the Cran-Raz Clif drink. Too sweet, it has been tossed. Today, I mixed half a packet of HEED sublte Mandarin Orange with 20 oz of water. This half mix is about perfect. It is now a strong contender to win out and be used at Lean Horse.
After the usual morning emails between the downtown running folks, Carla and Matt wanted to do at least part of the run with me.
We all started together at the 8:30 pace and decided to run to the State Fair grounds - the day before the state fair begins, it always provides some interesting sight seeing. Each year I play a little game - this year I counted 8 mullets along with 12 guys who cut the arms off of their newer cotton T-shirts in the 8 minutes I was running through the state fair grounds.
Matt and Carla were actually running a bit fast at the beginning for me. Matt wanted to keep the steady pace, and Carla wanted to get in a few miles at a faster tempo - 7:15 to 7:30. After the first 20 minutes, Carla and I were off - Carla did a great job and we hit the first mile right at 7:15 pace. After that she maintained her tempo pace between 7:15 and 7:30 and I continued on around a 7:13 pace. After the 20 minutes, I was wiped - it was hot and I thought - really, will the next 20 minutes really matter in my training???? (um...I think asked myself a similar question yesterday???)
It does. I'm currently reading Lou Holtz's autobiography Wins, Losses, and Lessons. There are many parts of the book I really like, and as I'm reading the book, now have a better understanding just how wise Coach Holtz is. In it, he reiterates to his coaching staff and players to expect nothing less than doing your best all the time. There is never a moment where anything short of doing your best is good enough. I know, it sounds cliche, it is cliche, but sometimes I need to hear things about 100 times before it sticks.....
I'm not going to change the world by running for 20 minutes at a 6:45 pace. But in the small sense, I think by not doing this, I would not be doing my best. There is no reason to not run hard as my running schedule showed.
I ran hard. My pace ended up being a 6:48 pace for the 20 minutes - just short of the 6:45. I missed it by 3 seconds. As in the book, Lou reminds his players that as long as you did your best and gave it your best, you have nothing to be ashamed of and everything to proud of.
Okay, so at the end of the run, I finished up and started to walk for the cool down. Carla came in a couple minutes behind me and did the same thing. We were walking back toward our meeting place downtown, and then Matt zips by us still running and not stopping - still at his 8:15 to 8:30 pace.
I'm not saying Matt represents the tortoise and I'm the hare, but Matt's nice and steady pace made him look quite a bit better than me as I was still gasping for air. Aw well, I knew I gave it my best. Never give up. Do your best - and most importantly - do not become a statistic in the mullet or armless t-shirt counting game.
Let's be honest, with 10 days to Lean horse; this was the last significant workout. Although I know this workout would probably not affect my performance at Lean Horse, I realized I needed to nail this workout if just for mental reassurance. As I was running this, I knew I could do it, but it was hard. Then I thought, how easy is running 50 miles? I can surely put up with 50 minutes of running today because in a couple weeks, I'll be needing to put up with a quite a few hard hours of running.
I checked my Garmin for my splits. I ended up running about a 1 1/2 miles each interval, with paces coming in at 6:43; 6:42; 6:44; 6:45; 6:44. I hit it. After my last split, I gave myself an imaginary pat on the back and thought "a job well done - a great confidence booster!"
On a side note; I was out running for about an hour and twenty minutes today. People ask me, "What do you think about on your runs for so long?"
I think many different things. Today, I gave some thought to coaching my two sons' soccer teams, I thought about some of the stuff I needed to get done at work, that my garage needs to be cleaned out, and my tools need to get organized in my basement.
However, I'll admit, I'm a "simple minded" guy. I usually think about things as I'm in the moment. For example, when I'm at work, I think about work stuff. When I'm coaching my sons' soccer teams, I think about soccer; when I'm home, I think about the stuff that needs to get done around the house. SO, while I run, the majority of my thoughts are about, you guessed it, running...
Today's time was spent thinking about hitting those pace marks, if I was running too fast, too hard, or too slow. I thought about how good it felt to go fast, and how easy an 8:25 pace felt compared to the 6:45 pace. I thought about keeping hydrated and staying in the shade as much as I could to keep cool.
Sorry - nothing too dramatic here - like I said, a simple guy with a simple mind!
FYI...I tried the Clif Crisp Apple with caffeine electrolyte replacement drink mix today. Let's say is has been "tossed". The HEED subtle strawberry flavor so far is still the pick.
My thoughts have been on Lean Horse though. I've bought the sample sizes of the different electrolyte replacement powder mixes: 4 from Clif and 4 from HEED.
Some people may think I should have had this figured out weeks ago. Yep, they are right. However, I have determined that sweet drinks, like Gatorade and G2, seems to cause me some stomach issues. This only took me a few years to figure out and became apparent over the last couple of weeks. Therefore, I know need to try something different during crunch time to Lean Horse.
I drank some of the HEED Strawberry today. It was actually pretty good. Not too sweet at all. For Lean Horse, I plan to premix which ever electrolyte replacement flavor wins in my own reality elimination show of "Drink or Toss: Which electrolyte supplement can go the distance?" I'll place the winning flavor into small plastic baggies and carry a couple of them at a time an have some in my drop bag.
I'll post the winner in a few days.
John and I ran an easy hour run on the trail. Of course, the topic of Lean Horse dominated the conversation. We discussed, once again, the amount of time it would take me to run a 50 mile race - calculating pace while running is not an easy thing to do. We discussed logistics of drop bags, hydrating, eating, and ipod usage. In the two weeks prior to the race, John also reminded me that rest is a good thing, that if you got faster from running, your speed would actually increase on your long run.
We discussed that we need to quite our full time jobs and somehow see if we could make running our full time jobs. We thought we could do clinical trials regarding hydrating, but than John brought up the fact that it only take one clinical trial "fail" to have serious consequences, like not breathing anymore.
As we were running and talking, I was thinking to myself, this is why I run. I run to get outside, enjoy the surroundings, and enjoy the company. There is nothing like a trail run.
I'm training for the 50 mile race at Lean Horse, 20 miles to me should be easy. John is training for the 100 mile race at Lean Horse, 20 miles to him is barely worth getting out of bed.
Yesterday, I emailed John and let him know it was suppose to rain and it could get pretty nasty with some storms.
His reply was simply - "It's only 3 hours, how wet can we get?"
Okay - there are a couple of things wrong with this question. The first part of the statement/question is "only 3 hours". Ummm...ONLY 3 HOURS of running...seriously, we have a problem and probably should seek help.
The second part of the question/statement is "how wet can we get?" Yeah, we got wet. It was the kind of wet you get to your core. The rain was a nice novelty when we started....it cooled us off, kept us smelling better (vs. stinky sweat), etc. By the time we were done, my shoes had that "squish, squash" sound to it, the sound that only occurs when you carry 5 extra pounds of water weight in your shoe.
At one point, I turned to John and asked him a question. He turned back to me and said "What? I can't hear you because your shoes are too loud!"
To which my reply was "Huh, how wet can we get??"
Two weeks until Lean Horse!
Nothing special today about the run, but on the way to work, something odd happened. Actually, when I left the house this morning, I didn't even think I was running today - instead a cross training day with a planned swim. However, the thought had crossed my mind, maybe I should run? Okay, I'll follow my instincts, take the day to swim.
However, you know how some people people say things happen in 3s? Well, today, it happened to me on the way to work:
Car #1. I was behind a car, there was a sticker in the window - it was of a stick runner with the runner surrounded by the words "Never Quit"
Car #2. After Car #1 turned off my route, car #2 was in front of me. The vanity license plate stated "RUNKATH". Not sure what this meant, but I did know what the first three letters did.
Car#3 - just prior to pulling into my parking lot, another car had one of those little round oval stickers in the window. The oval simply stated "26.2".
By the time I stepped out of my car, I decided I better just run over lunch. The question is, did I want to change my mind so I just noticed these things, was it really fate or some other higher power that put those items in place for me to see, OR am I just that passionate/delusional about running that I notice everything running?
Our usual running group was emailing about weekly group runs and Carla mentioned she was getting out today over lunch. I let her know I was getting out as well and could use the company, but that my plan was to run an "easy" 70 minutes today. My easy pace is about a 8:30 miles. Carla replied back with "your easy is my tempo run!" With that, I decided to run with Carla over lunch.
We decided to run park loop in reverse. The route would take us up an incline of about 2 miles before a 1.5 mile descent. Not a hard route, but just enough inclines to give a solid workout. We began to chat and, 8 miles later at an 7:50 pace, I discovered my easy run was no longer easy.
I'm trying to strictly follow my running plan as Lean Horse gets closer. With a 50 mile race just ahead, it is important to follow the planned runs.
Oh well - it felt good to go that pace - isn't that what running is about?
Carla told me a funny story over the run. Quick background: Carla is beginning to run over lunch more and more and is introducing herself to some the usual downtown noon runners. Matt (another usual downtown runner and my cousin) spotted a couple of women that are fast and told Carla to introduce herself to see if she could run with them occasionally.
To paraphrase the story, it went something like this:
Carla: Hi, I'm Carla - I'm beginning to run more over lunch and notice that you get out quite a bit. Are you training for a marathon?
Lady: Honey, I'm always training for a marathon.
Carla: Oh, okay....well I'm training for one and was just curious about your training. Do you have any goals for an upcoming race?
Lady: At my age, honey, I don't run for time anymore.....are you training for your first marathon?
Carla (a little uncomfortable now, decided to lay out her credentials to show the lady that she is a dedicated runner) Oh no, I've done a few. I ran Des Moines last year to qualify for Boston, and ran Boston this spring. Not as fast as I would have liked, but a still a pretty good time.
Lady:I'm hoping to get to Boston in 2010. It will be my 5th Boston marathon. I've completed 73 marathons and 6 ultras.
Moral of the story - be careful who Matt tells you to introduce yourself too.
I was scheduled to do 40 minute tempo run with 10 minute warm-up and 10 minute cool down. I went out to follow the plan. At 10 minutes, I picked up my pace and my first mile was right at a 6:45 as planned. Second mile - 6:44, third mile 6:45, fourth mile - 6:44, fifth mile 6:50. Whew - that was hard! Water break! Now time for the cool down. What?? No way do I have another mile left???? Forget it, too $#%^* hot!
Okay, it is important to listen to your body right? My body was telling me to forget it. This time, I acutally did. A 16 minute cool down is no problem. I'll take the run in this heat. What is tomorrow's forcast???
Afton State Park Trail Run – 50k – Ultra trail run
4th of July 2009
Ultra Quick Summary – 4:52 – 19th place overall. Extremely pleased with results.
Ultra Long Summary – Read on…
The weather called for possible showers, high in the mid 70’s, overcast sky for the morning. All played out, the race was humid and there were a couple of periods where it was sprinkling, but thankful the sun stayed behind the clouds for the majority of the race.
You gotta like the race directors at ultras. They give new meaning to “laid back”.
Beth, John, and I started to gather in front of the race start line along with about 150 50k racers. In summary, here were the pre-race announcements:
“We are about ready to go. Make sure you keep the flags on your left. If you don’t, you’ll get lost. Some of the single track trail is overgrown. Okay, we are doing something new this year – chip timing. We are going to give everyone a minute to make sure that you have a chip attached to your shoe.”
About 5 seconds past.
“Okay, everyone have their chip? Everyone ready?” (I was thinking to myself - hmm..haven’t heard this one at a start line before!)
No objections from the runners were heard, so I guess everyone must have been ready...
“Okay, well, if everyone is ready, I guess we’ll get started. Run as hard as you can for as long as you can”
“On your marks, get set, go!”
With that, and a “Hey Doug, good luck, we’ll see you at the finish line!” from John and Beth, I was off.
Miles 1-7 – Scenery Miles
The first few miles of any long race, I like to take it easy, get into a comfortable pace and actually enjoy where I’m at. This race was no exception; and a race such as this one reminds me why I started running in the first place, to be able to enjoy being outside.
It was crowded at the downhill start of the race, and probably kept me at a nice easy pace. I wasn’t able to pass much, and I kept my pace in control going down the first big hill. A few of over eager novices blazed down the trail. I tried not to get caught up with letting them pass me and kept repeating to myself “I planned the race, now race the plan!”
The hills came and went, both up and down, and I maintained a comfortable pace. I wasn’t paying much attention to the runners around me, and in a race through the trails with how crowded the first downhill was; it was amazing at how quickly the race field seemed to spread out.
At mile 6, I noticed I was in a small group of about 4 runners. At that point in time, I decided I would stick with this group. They were in no particular order – “Leprechaun man” -red hair and beard, along with a green shirt; “Blue shirt guy who looks like Dave (from the Saturday morning running group)”, and “shirtless Michigan man” (due to the navy blue and gold shorts). Blue shirt guy who looks like Dave was out in front by about 50 meters, Leprechaun man, just behind him, then 25 meters in front of me was shirtless Michigan man.
Since it was early in the race, at this point just under a marathon to go, I thought this group could set the pace for the next few miles so I’ll hop on the end as the caboose of the train, and let them pull me for a bit.
Shirtless Michigan man didn’t want to play my game. I think he wanted to crush Leprechaun man and Blue shirt guy who looks like Dave. At about mile 7.5, He started to speed up, and I kept pace. This part of the race was one of two spots where the trail is pancake flat, and I thought I could handle going a bit faster. I felt like we were running pretty hard; I checked my reliable Garmin, and noticed I was running at a 7:10 pace – faster than race marathon pace??? - Probably not a good thing.
It was time to let shirtless Michigan man go. I eased back to a 7:45 pace on the flat and had a feeling I would see him in a bit. Shirtless Michigan man went ahead of the other two runners and I stayed as the caboose behind Leprechaun man and Blue shirt guy who looks like Dave.
The group, now with a new leader, headed up another long half mile hill at about the 8.5 mile mark. Leprechaun man and Blue shirt guy who looks like Dave slowed way down on the uphill. I walked past both on the uphill. However, on the downhill side just past mile 9, both came barreling past me almost out of control.
We were then running pretty close, only a total of 10 meters between the three of us as shirtless Michigan man must have been way out ahead. Then I spotted shirtless Michigan man coming up on the side of the trail inspecting the bark of a tree. Oh wait, he was peeing. All of a sudden, all four of us were within 10 meters.
We hit the second flat, this one about ¾ of a mile long, and shirtless Michigan man and I hit it hard again. We were pounding along at 7:30 pace and left Leprechaun man and blue shirt guy who looks like Dave behind. We were well ahead of the duo when we started up the hill named “Meat Grinder.” I did not see the Leprechaun man and blue shirt guy who looks like Dave again.
I came alongside shirtless Michigan man after the uphill and through some rolling hills. Since I was passing some time and feeling good, I decided to initiate a conversation.
“We are running at a pretty good clip, we should hit the half-way point around 2:20” I stated.
“Aw, I’m just hoping to break 6 hours, if I run the first lap under 2 ½ hours, that gives me 3 ½ for the second loop.” Shirtless Michigan man replied with a condescending tone.
“What – you don’t believe in negative splits?” I asked jokingly.
“I did when I did my Ironman last year”.
Okay, for the record, there are two types of Ironman out there, the first I typically don’t get along with and the second are some of my best running mentors. First, from my experience, most are “Type A” personalities, who have an ego the size of Godzilla. The second type is the good guys, who I respect for their knowledge and wisdom of endurance races. (If you are an Ironman and reading this, you know which one you are.) This guy went immediately into the first type.
“Which Ironman have you done?”
“Arizona” was his one word response.
“Oh really, I know a few guys headed to Wisconsin this year. Do you have any races coming up?”
“I’m doing that one this year. This is just part of the training for me.”
After the short exchange, I decided to add to this guy’s name, it was now “Arizona-Wisconsin-Michigan shirtless man with extra ego.”
We then ran without an exchange of words and I decided it was time to cut the rope. At mile 12, just before the aid station, I left him behind on an incline. I was truly afraid this man was going to tackle me from the back, so after the aid station, I headed into the single track prairie and woods with some extra hop in my stride.
The single track trail through the prairie and woods was extremely tight. I think the path to run on was about 18 inches wide at best. The prairie grass came up to the middle of my mid-section. Remembering back to the race director’s comment at the beginning of the race, I thought, why yes, the single track is overgrown.
This part of the race made me dizzy. I was trying to stay on the path, watching the footing in front of me, hoping that “Arizona-Wisconsin-Michigan shirtless man with extra ego” would not catch me. I was running hard although my splits didn’t reflect it. This was a pretty technical part of the trail, lots of short ups and downs, large rocks, and the winding trail.
I emerged pretty much in tact as I came upon the end of the first loop – no where in sight was extra ego man (I never saw him again). My brother was at the drop bag location to help me out. I refilled and refueled with some Cliff Shot blocks, water, and pretzels.
My watch was at 2:22, and the official clock was around 2:24. I had a couple minutes worth of aid station stops and some slow up hills that my trusty Garmin must have went into “auto pause” mode.
My brother stated: “I saw John at the (third) aid station. He asked if you were already 30 minutes ahead him at that point.”
I replied jokingly “Was I?”
He replied with “You weren’t then, but are now!!” “You seem to be doing well.”
For a moment, I actually believed my brother and though I was doing okay. However, thinking back to the first loop, I knew I went fast on the flats and was afraid it was going to cost me on the second loop. At best, I was hoping to match my first loop time.
The next 11 miles seemed to be uneventful. I occasionally peeked over my shoulder to make sure extra ego man wasn’t there, but there was no one around. I remembered another item the race director mentioned, “keep the flags to your left or you’ll get lost” I just kept the flags to my left and ran when I could. I managed to pass three people in this long 11 mile stretch. No one caught me from behind.
The down hills began to take their toll on my quads. I ran them fast, and knew I was going to feel it over the next couple of days. Other than my quads, I was actually feeling pretty good. I ran the flats fast again and found myself in good shape for the last 6-7 miles.
I saw my brother at the second to last aid station with about 6 miles to go. “You are in 21st position.” Hmm, that was pretty cool. “I wonder if I could get in the top 20,” I thought to myself. He mentioned there was virtually no changes in places in the top twenty spots, everyone seems to running well and staying in their position. “Okay, maybe 21st isn’t so bad I thought”
Miles 27- 31.1
At mile 27, I spotted a couple of runners ahead of me. I quickened my pace as I thought my chances of getting in the top 20 just improved. I flew by two older ladies still working their way to finish the 25K that started an hour after the 50k start. My bubble burst. Oh well.
I started to pass many of the walkers still hoping to complete the 25k. I had a good idea that most were in the 25k race, but I was still hoping to see someone from the 50k.
I then saw a blue sleeveless shirt guy ahead of me; he disappeared around a corner in the trail. I passed a couple more 25k walkers and thought for sure that I must be catching this guy. I then looked up one of the days many steep hills. I was headed up a big incline and the guy was less than 50 meters in front of me! However, he was running up the hill and I was walking. With still about 4 miles to go, I couldn’t spend the energy to catch him on the uphill, so I walked. As I walked up the hill, I noticed I was still catching the blue shirt. He was running up the hill slower than I was walking it. At that point, I knew it was just a matter of time until I passed him. When I passed him, I thought he was going pretty slow, maybe a fit guy doing the 25k at a slow pace. I was mad as I thought that I just caught another 25k walker.
I stated a friendly “Keep it up, just under 4 miles to go!” runner to runner acknowledgement; he replied back with a “Just under a mile to the aid station at mile 28.” At that point I realized he was in the 50k and I just moved up to spot 20.
With less than 3 miles to go, I started to pick up the pace. The 25k walkers were kind enough to do their best of moving to the side of the trail as I ran by them. It was a great feeling to be going so fast compared to the walkers. Any small victory, I’ll take.
I was beginning to just hope to hold onto my place when I saw a redshirt in front of me at mile 30. I can still get him. I must be part bull, when I saw red I hit it hard. With about a half mile to go, I passed the guy. There was no way he was keeping up. I felt bad for a moment, he ran a great race up to that point and I almost considered just running in with him. Nope, the bull won out in me and I passed him. A friendly “we are very close, good job, and keep it up” from me and a “great race” reply back was all that said. I ran to the finish line and came in at an unofficial 19th place somewhere around 4:52. About a half hour better than last year - I’ll take it!!
Mile - Mile split
First loop - 2:24
Second loop – 2:28
Total Time - 4:52*
*Actual Running time was 4:47:24 on the Garmin. Difference in time was due to some slow uphill walking and stops at aid stations for water, cookies, pretzels, strawberries, bananas and other food items (it was like a great snack buffet!).