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Western States

I’m going to run the Western States 100.

They say the first step to reaching a goal is to put it out there on ‘paper.’  So here it is – I’m going to run Western States.

Western States is the oldest 100 mile trail (running) race.  It’s also one of the most prestigious – like the Masters at Augusta National or the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.  The difference though – I can run Western.  Some might argue if I played enough golf or rode enough horses, I could tee it up with Rory in the Masters or race the Kentucky Derby.  But therein lies the magic of Western States – anyone can run it.  Anyone can toe the line in Squaw Valley, as long as …

  1. You complete a 100 mile qualifier
  2. You’re chosen in the lottery

Currently I haven’t completed a qualifier, nor do I have any entries in the lottery, but we’ll get into that later in this blog.  For now – we’re putting it on ‘paper’ – I’m going to run Western States.

If only it were as easy as that first sentence …

But if it were easy, everyone would do it.  And how much fun is that?

Hitting the ‘Reset’ Button

Deep breath … I’m hitting the ‘reset’ button.  There, I said it. It’s official.  For as great as my 2015 was, from a running perspective, 2016 has been just as far in the opposite direction.  For those who’ve followed my blog, I’m sure this isn’t a surprise.

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My miles are lacking.  My motivation is lacking.  I haven’t been blogging as much as I’ve liked and basically been absent on twitter.  Why?  It’s not fun to talk about running when running isn’t fun.  I came to that realization this morning – prepping for the Marquette Trail 50 felt like a chore.  And I have enough of those already.

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running when it’s fun!

Running should be fun.  I was reminded of this yesterday while listening to a podcast, hoping to get the inspiration to knock out my scheduled 22 mile trail run this morning, before my wife left at 10am.  This required me to get up in the 3s.  I don’t like getting up in the 3s.

Anyway, back to the podcast – it was great.  Diz Runs.  Check it out.  In this episode he was interviewing Sally McRae.  She’s one of the reasons I got into running ultras.  The video ‘Western Time‘ by Billy Yang sucked me right into the idea of trail running and ultras.  I had a lot of fun with it the last year and a half.

But recently things have changed.  I got off to a bad start this year and have felt like I’ve been playing catch up ever since.  Playing catch up is hard enough.  Playing catch up while training for a 50 mile race is pretty much insane.  And probably stupid.  Which is why my knee hasn’t been feeling good.

During the podcast Sally made a comment about one of the runners she was training – very nervous about running a particular distance.  Sally asked her if she’d feel better if she ran the shorter distance and the runner answered yes, and that’s what Sally recommended – because running should be enjoyed!

Flash forward to 3:15 this morning.  I woke easily, walked downstairs, began working through my stretching and that’s when I came to the realization (while thinking about yesterday’s podcast) this wasn’t fun.  And remembered, yes, running should be fun.

So … what do I mean by ‘pushing the reset button?’

  1. I’m not running Marquette.
  2. I’m going to find joy in running again w/o the pressure of training for a race.  Whatever distance / terrain sounds fun, that’s what I’ll run.
  3. I will get back to running consistent 20-25 mile weeks before I pick another race to train for.  I do have a couple in the back of my mind (Detroit Marathon / Stone Steps 50k in Cincy in the fall), but I’m no where ready to commit.
  4. I need to spend some time working on my core strength.  And my knee.
  5. I need to drop about 6-8lbs.

Dude – you’re not running Western States!

Yes I am.

Remember, this blog is my journey to Western.  Good.  Bad.  Whatever.

Another thing I learned from the podcast yesterday – you can have a bad year.  Sally had one that she basically had to scrap due to injury.  Then she came back, built a strong base, and came back and crushed it.

I’ll be back to crush it.

Tentatively – I think I can push my first 50 miler to Indiana in April.  And then Mohican in June.  But we’ll see how the rest of 2016 goes.

For now – I’m going to grab a beer and enjoy this beautiful May day!

Have you ever hit the reset button?  How’d it go?

What’s your favorite beer?

Cheers!

 

 

 

Earth Day 5k / Raccoon Run

For the past few years, the Kalamazoo Nature Center has done a 5k race for Earth Day.  The proceeds from the race then go to the Nature’s Way preschool associated with the Nature Center.

Since my daughter attends the preschool, I thought it’d be nice to help with the race this year – and well, I enjoy being outside.  In addition to the 5k, there’s a Raccoon Run for the kids – 1k run/walk.  My daughters had never done a fun run before and I was excited for it!

After getting up early and running 15 miles, we loaded up in the family truckster and headed over to the Nature Center for some fun.  My 4yr old was super excited when we got there, running around like crazy, but wasn’t really into wearing the bib.  The 2yr old wasn’t really into it at all.

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The excitement ended when we saw a person dancing in a gazelle costume.  For some reason it freaked out my kids – even though it was one of my daughter’s teachers inside.  They didn’t want to start because the gazelle was at the starting line.

Once I finally convinced them to walk on the other side of me from the gazelle, they did start.  But because the oldest was scared, she just wanted to walk super close to my side and not let go.  I did tell her the gazelle was chasing us at one point – that made her run, and fast, until she figured out I was teasing her.

We had fun though.  I enjoy spending time outside with my girls regardless the activity.

After Raccoon Running walking, the girls headed home and I went to help with the 5k.  I was assisting w/finish line duties.  It was easy, I helped pack up the start flag, unpack the finish flag, and then stood on the hill about .25mi from the finish directing the runners back to the start line – and cheering.  Loudly.

I kept telling them runners they were almost there, just around the corner!  Well, once I walked back to the start line, I realized I was lying to them.  It was much farther, and much more up hill, than I told them.  Oh well.  That’s what makes it fun 🙂

Mental toughness

Ultrarunning requires mental toughness – so I’m training the mind by staring at this donut all day without eating it.

No head. No heart. No feet.

Ultrarunning is hard.

I was supposed to run 20 miles this morning for my log run leading up to the Marquette Trail 50 mile run in August.  Except I only ran 5.  Actually I covered 5 miles, but most of the fifth mile was spent walking, reflecting and watching satellites zoom overhead.

Yes, ultrarunning is hard.  And I’m likely dropping from the Marquette Trail 50 miler again this year.

After the 50k I ran on January 2nd, my running imploded.  I intentionally took a couple weeks of rest / relaxation after that race, and then some things happened at work over the course of a few weeks – some planned and some not – that impacted my ability to run what I wanted / needed to run.  After that much time of inconsistent running, my head was out of the game.

Within the last couple weeks I realized that if I’m still running the MT50, and I still planned too, I had to start training seriously.  Except – one can’t just jump right back into training for an ultra without really training to train for an ultra.  It was foolish think I can hop right back into running 35 mile weeks right out of the gate after not running that kind of mileage for a few months.  And so I sit here with a with pain in my knee and pain in my foot.

Just after starting my fifth mile this morning, I stopped to watch a satellite zoom across the sky.  Once I started hobbling forward again, it was only a couple minutes before I stopped again.  My heart wasn’t in it.

At that point I realized I had – No head.  No heart.  No feet.

It’s also at that point I realized ultrarunning is hard.  It’s not just training for the miles, but it’s training the mind.  It’s training yourself to get up at crazy hours.  It’s training yourself to run through shit weather.  It’s training yourself to push through pain.  It’s training yourself to sacrifice time with family.

What I learned this morning is – you can’t just jump back right to where you were.

So with that … I don’t know.

I don’t know what’s next.  Will it be an ultra?  Or a marathon?  Half marathon?  I’m not sure.  I need some time to heal my knee and my foot.  I need some time to rebuild my head and get my heart into training for something again.

 

Remember – it’s YOUR run

Not gonna lie – it’s been a tough few months of running.  The year started with a bang when I ran really well in the Yankee Springs Winter Challenge 50k.

It’s since fizzled.  Life happens, it’s all good, you push through work, being ill, whatever, and get back to running as time permits.  As I’ve stated on the blog before, I love to run, but on the list of my priorities, it falls below family and work so sometimes I run into stretches where I don’t get out as much as I want.

In any case, I found myself a bit frustrated this morning.  It was a short run (4 miles), I was running slower than I’d like, my knee kinda hurt, and I was generally bummed that I wasn’t where I should be with my running – especially with my first 50 miler coming this summer.

I thought about how I’m not running as fast, or as far, or as often as many others who’re training for similar races.  I follow some pretty stout athletes on twitter / strava / wordpress (I’m likely looking at YOU!), in part to keep me motivated and in part to learn something.  The downside is – when they’re crushing it, and I’m not, it can be a bit of a downer.

Then I remembered … I’m not running their race.  I’m not running their training run.  I’m not running their pace.  I’m not running for them.  I’m running for me, and for my race.  That’s what’s important.  And as long as I’m doing the best I can at any given time, it’s all good.

If you find your self in a similar mindset, remember – it’s YOUR run!

So with that, here’s a picture from MY race, the Marquette Trail 50k, to remind me of what I’m headed back to this summer for 50 miles.

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beautiful lake superior

In other news, @henryhoward wrote a cool article on my WSER goal – check it out, he did a great job!

Running and a different kinda race …

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I love Nascar.  Are there other ultra runners out there who are Nascar fans?  I’m guessing a few but not many.  For whatever reason, they seem like different crowds.  Perhaps not though – both groups like to drink beer.

My brother’s getting married next month and I took him to Martinsville for his bachelor party.  The two of us, our dad, and nine other guys drove down to camp for the weekend and enjoy some racing – on the track.

 

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I’ve been to quite a few races, but this was the first time attending a race since I’ve started running seriously.  I thought it’d be a great opportunity to see the campground in the early morning hours vs. the typical late night.  I expected to see the aftermath of the previous night’s mayhem and have folks give me a hard time about running vs. drinking but neither happened.  Both of my runs were pretty quiet and uneventful.  One guy asked me how many laps I was planning on running, but other than that folks just watched me roll by.  Or run by.  Or slog by – whatever you wanna call it.

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#brothers

Note: a bit of advice – if you do go to a Nascar race, and you camp, and you can rent a private port-a-john, do it.  People are gross.  Anyway …

I enjoyed the peace and quiet for a bit both mornings.  Everything at a Nascar race is LOUD.  The race is obviously loud, but so is the camping – people blaring music and the generators running.  I am not a fan of the generators.  So taking time both mornings to run was awesome.

The whole weekend was a good one – we had fun, the race was great (although my driver didn’t end up doing so hot), we had some good food (my first Martinsville hotdog – I ate 7 over the weekend), played some yard games and enjoyed a few beers.

Now that I’m back from the race, it’s time to get back into the swing of things.  Training for the Marquette Trail 50 starts tomorrow.  Goodnight!

Do you like Nascar?

Ever been to a race?

 

Running into darkness …

Out the door, down the driveway, start the watch, run … I reach up to my headlamp and click – I’m instantly swallowed by darkness.  And I love it.

A few months ago, on a whim, I turned my headlamp off mid run.  There was supposed to be a meteor shower that morning and I wanted to see some shooting stars.  I felt distracted by the headlamp so I turned it off.  I instantly noticed a sky full of stars and it was awesome.  I saw two shooting stars that morning – not as many as I’d hoped, but these were the first two shooting stars I’d seen while running.

I find myself time and time again, especially when the sky is clear, reaching up to click myself into darkness.  I found this to be a similar experience to when I first started running without music.  Dropping the music made me feel more in tune with my surroundings.  Dropping the light took it to another level.  It’s me and the morning.  And it’s beautiful.

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It’s amazing how well our eyes adapt.  And I don’t even really eat carrots.  What I found is the headlamp gives me tunnel vision.  Running w/o the light seems to open up the world around me.  It’s hard to explain.  But it’s cool.

Dude – you’re crazy for running around, in the dark, with no headlamp.

Eh.  Not really.  But I think safety is still critical.  Given that, here are my tips for running into the darkness … should you decide to give it a whirl.

  1. Wear a headlamp.  When I see a car coming, I click the light on so I’m more visible and then generally step off the road to let it pass.
  2. Wear lights on your back.  Even though my headlamp is off, I have red flashing lights on my back.  Nathan makes a cheap clip light.  Get one.
  3. Wear reflective gear – that’s really a given whether your headlamp is on or off, if you’re running in the dark.  I’m a big fan of the Amphipod xinglet.
  4. Run known routes.  If you know where the pot holes are, it’s much easier to relax and enjoy the run vs. looking at the ground for something that’s going to twist your ankle.
  5. I don’t recommend trying this in the snow.  It’s too hard to tell what’s good from a footing standpoint.
  6. Relax and have fun!

Do you run in the dark?  Ever tried to click the light out?