Monthly Archives: October 2015

Week in review – 10/25/15

Miles this week: 3

2015 YTD: 1067


After my 3 miler on Tuesday, I spend the week on the DL.  My ankle was in rough shape after the Grand Rapids Marathon.

I spent the weekend, in New Orleans, with my wife.  I took my running shoes, but never ended up running.  I’m anxious to get out there this week and test the ankle again.  While I never ran in the big easy, I did walk about 20 miles over the course of the weekend and the ankle felt pretty good.

New Orleans was a good trip – awesome food!  If you make it down there, I recommend Lüke – very good gumbo and shrimp / grits.  Also, if you make it down there – DON’T STAY ON BOURBON STREET.  It might be fun to party, but when you’re ready to sleep, it’s nice to sleep.

The beignets at Cafe Du  Monde – definitely a winner!

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‘Coffee is strong at the Cafe Du Monde
The donuts are too hot to touch
Just like a fool, when those sweet goodies cool
I eat ’til I eat way too much’ – Jimmy Buffett ‘The Wino & I Know’

We spent Saturday riding out to a couple of the plantations, had a nice lunch at Oak Alley and awesome tour at Laura Plantation.  It was on the drive out to the plantations that I saw my alligator roadkill – not something you see in Michigan!

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The remnants of hurricane Patricia rolled in late Saturday night so we had one last nice dinner and bounced out of town early (Sunday vs. Monday), and we’re back to Michigan.

Here’s to a week with some more miles and more stars!

Time for a Trip to the DL

Seriously!?  You just announced to the world that you’re running a 100 miler two hundred mile races, and blogging about it, and you’re hurt already!?

What can I say?  Shit happens.

My awesome Grand Rapids Marathon came at a cost – I’m injured.  I don’t recall anything specific happening during the race, but my left leg did bother me during the long out and back section.  As best as I can figure, I think it was due to me running on the right side of the road (all runners were running ‘with traffic’ as the road was closed).  Typically I run against traffic so I can see what’s coming.  Therefore the crown of the road typically has my left leg lower than my right.  During much of the race on Sunday, it was the opposite.

Perhaps it was something else, but that’s the best I could come up with.

I noticed my left ankle is stiff with pain on the inside.  I don’t have my full range of motion with it either.  I ran on it this morning, and it felt better once I was going, but that made it worse later in the day.  According to Dr. Google, it looks like it could be some tendonitis – which leads to stretching, and this … (please ignore the pink towel – I’m the only male that lives here)

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Holy crap that was cold!!!!

So I’ll on the ice / ibuprofen / tiger balm treatment for a few days.  It’s a bummer too because I’ll be out-of-town this weekend, for a long weekend.  Running is always a great way to see somewhere new.  Oh what the hell, perhaps I’ll take my running shoes anyway – just in case …

Just about perfect – Grand Rapids Marathon Race Report

My third marathon began Saturday night without much in the way of expectations, other than to have fun – but I try to do that with most things since that’s one of my five rules for life (#3 relax and have fun).  My number one fan helped me prep by mixing up my Tailwind and slopping some peanut butter on slice of bread for my pre-race PBJ.

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Early to bed, and early to rise.  My alarm woke me at 4am and I went through my normal pre-run routine of pulse / weight / water, slipped in to make sure the girls were tucked in and covered up, then shuffled downstairs to gear up for the chilly morning ahead.

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I enjoyed my pre-race PBJ, did some light stretching, double checked my list and then it was North to Grand Rapids.  What a beautiful starry night morning (it just felt like night).  It was cold though – just 28 degrees.  Don’t get me wrong, I live in Michigan and I’ve run for hours in below zero degrees, but I still have my summer blood and 28 seemed cold over the weekend.

45 minutes later, I pulled into the parking lot at the YMCA and walked in to pick up my packet and bib.  1441 – I liked that number.

I spent the next hour, or so, sitting in the jeep – heat blowing, listening to my ‘pre-chill’ mix on Spotify, visualizing the race and making sure I had everything in order.  After that, I did some light jogging and made my way over to the starting chute to stretch.  Here was my one and only big decision – do I run in my jacket?  I’d already shed the pants and was running in shorts.  I decided to keep the jacket on right up until the start and then stuff it in my UD vest.

I positioned myself behind the 3:56 pace group and waited for the race to start.  I was strangely calm – no nerves.  Just calm and ready to run.

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I rolled across the starting line about a minute, or minute and a half, after the ‘gun’ and about 200 yards behind the pace group.

Mile 1 -> Slowest of the race (sweet – I didn’t go out too fast!).  I actually fell further back from the pace group.  Things were crowded and I was enjoying a slow warm up.  I recall a guy taking a selfie of himself about 1/2 mile in and a lady asked me what our split was when we hit mile 1.

Mile 2 -> I sped up during the second mile, but was still pretty far back from my pace group.  I was ok with this – plenty of race to go and I felt good.  Toward the end of the second mile I noticed a couple gals behind me discussing a new house.  After a couple minutes I realized – hey, I know her!

Mile 3 -> Faster yet.  Erin catches me and says ‘hello’ and I respond ‘hey, I thought I heard you back there!’  We run for a bit and I tell her I’m going to drop back.  I’m running quicker than I should be.  She says it looks like I’m walking.  I guess that’s a compliment?  In any case, I feel good, but I didn’t want to run out of steam early.

Miles 4 and 5 -> So much for slowing down.  These are my fastest (along with mile 10) of the race.  I’m feeling good so I figure I might as well try to close the gap with the pace group.  These are the last two miles as we leave downtown toward the Butterworth Park.

Miles 6 thru 9 -> Butterworth Park is crowded.  The trail doesn’t seem quite wide enough for all the runners.  I think the 3:56 group is a popular one and that might’ve been part of the reason for the congestion.  I’m still closing on them.  Somewhere in this stretch I see the guy leading the half coming BLAZING back in the other direction.  If I thought it was crowded going with the flow, he must’ve been pissed trying to win the race in the opposite direction.  I saw Erin again toward the end of this stretch as she broke off to complete the half.  She wished me well and she was running strong.  I knew she’d have a great finish.

Mile 10 -> I finally settle in with the 3:56 pace group with a quick run downhill about half way through this mile.  I’m feeling very good at this point.

Miles 11 and 12 -> Run through Millennium Park with the 3:56 group and again the trails are tight, but I managed.  Once of our pacers had a couple extra waters from an aid station and offered them to the group.  I thought that was nice.  But not as nice as it would’ve been if he had a Two Hearted Ale.  He didn’t.

Mile 13 -> I left the pace group.  Why the hell not!?  I was feeling great!  This will come back to bite me.  It eventually did.

Miles 14 and 15 -> I continued rolling and the miles were still slipping away almost effortlessly.  As this point I started actually believing I could break 4hrs today.  I was well ahead of that pace and still felt very good.

Miles 16 through 18 -> So the feeling good didn’t last long.  Mile 16 started a 7 mile out and back section of the race.  I wouldn’t say I ever truly felt bad, or down, during the race, but this out and back section was definitely the worst part.  It was relatively flat, but we were running on the right side of the road.  I’m normally used to running on the left (against traffic).  The road was crowned opposite to what I’m used to running and it was hurting my left leg.  I did pass one of my work mates heading in the opposite direction.  He was smoking right along.  A while later I passed a few more of my work mates participating in the My Team Triumph charity run.  That helped as well.  I stayed ahead of the 3:56 group during this stretch, but I could hear them closing.

Miles 19 thru 21 -> Trying as hard as I could (keep running, you’re doing great, don’t slow down!) to keep ahead of the pace group, again along this long stretch of out and back with my left leg hurting.  They eventually caught me at mile 21.  We rolled through the aid station together and I declined the pickle juice.  I tried to hang with them, but I fell back.

Mile 22 -> I start trying to do math, yes math!, in my head to see how fast I need to run these last few miles to break 4 hours.  I feel like I’m running out of steam big time.  Other than the first mile, which was intentionally slow, this was my slowest mile.  I feel like I’m crawling along, and the pace group leaving me didn’t help.  It was a 9:17.  Yeah, slow, but in the scheme of things, not too shabby still.

Miles 23 thru 25 -> I’m headed back downtown and through Butterworth Park again.  Plenty of room on the trail this time!  I remember coming up a hill, out of the woods, and into the park.  The sun was shining, I’d just taken a swig of Tailwind and felt a boost and I was rolling! In reality these miles weren’t much faster than the dreaded mile 22, but hey, I felt good now!  

Mile 26 -> Will this ever end!? Ok, it wasn’t really that bad, but that quickly I was back on the other end of the spectrum.  I’d figured out I needed to the last 1.2 in about 14 minutes.  No big deal, but it felt like I was running and going no where.  I kept thinking – this is awesome, I’m going to break four hours.  Followed by – I hope I don’t step in a hole or pull a muscle.  Followed by – am I there yet!?

The final .2 was awesome – folks lining both sides of the streets cheering.  I was passing people left and right.  I saw the finish line and the time started with a ‘3.’  I was home free at this point and rolling fast!

I pumped my fist as I crossed the finish line and yelled.  One of the finish line volunteers grabbed me.  I thought he wanted a hug.  He thought I was about to pass out.  He walked me over to my finishers medal and I met one of the guys from work.  He helped me through the food chute to the worst part of the day …

I grabbed a cup of lemon lime gatorade and chugged it.  Except … it wasn’t lemon lime gatorade.  It was pickle juice.  WTF!!!!?

If I had food in my stomach to vomit, I would’ve vomited.

The grossness didn’t last long though because I was juiced -> 3:56:47!!!  It was a new PR by about 21 minutes.

We headed over to the beer tent and enjoyed a free New Holland IPA and chatted about our days under a beautiful sunny blue sky!

If I had it all to do over again, would I have changed anything?  Perhaps stayed with the pace group a bit longer.  Other than that, it was pretty much about as good as it gets for me with a run!

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Nutrition: 1 PBJ 3hrs prior to the race.  500-600 calories of Tailwind that I sipped each mile.  I supplemented my fluid intake w/water at every aid station.

Pre race meal: Shrimp / Pasta

Splits:

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Week in review – 10/12/15

Miles this week: 31.6

2015 YTD: 1064


I started the week with an easy 5 miler through the breezy drizzle.  As long it it’s not a hard rain, or 34 degrees, I typically enjoy running in the rain.  There’s something refreshing about the cool rain drops hitting my face that I enjoy – like a baptism by nature.  I also love how the rain / puddles play with lights in the dark morning.

That 5 miler would be my last run prior to the Grand Rapids Marathon.  I’d hoped to sneak another one in mid-week, but that didn’t happen.

Friday was a rare ‘off night,’ if you will.  Typically I’m up early to run on Saturdays.  That’s when I get my long runs in – before the ladies awake for the day.  My wife tolerates, for the most part, my running – as long as I’m home to hang with the girls in the morning so she can sleep in.  And let’s face it, that’s not really a chore.  Weekend breakfast with my girls is my favorite time of the week.  Especially when it involves strong coffee and waffles.

Anyway, since I was running the Grand Rapids Marathon on Sunday, Friday was an off night. I took my oldest to the local hockey game.  I spent the night carb loading, for my Sunday marathon, with Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and cotton candy.  The K wings lost, but we had a great time!IMG_3219 (1)

And then Sunday was my third Marathon.  Great week!

On Deck for Marathon #3

In about 27 hours, I’ll toe the line for my third marathon.  I’m not quite sure what to think.  I should be nervous, but I’m not.  Excited – yes, but not nervous.  I have no idea what to expect out of this race.

My original goal was to build on the fitness of my 50k in August.  I’d add some speed work, keep hammering away at the long runs and go out and break 4 hours for the first time.

Instead I fought through a couple of running funks, where I couldn’t get out the door to run in the morning.  They each went on for days.  I ran a couple of 20 milers and lots of 10 milers, but nothing really in between.  I have no idea what to expect on Sunday.  At least from a time standpoint – I don’t know what to expect.

I do expect to have fun.  In the end, it’s about enjoying the experience.  I remember back to my first marathon (Kalamazoo last year) – jogging ever so slowly to the finish line.  I’d injured myself about a month and a half prior to the race and basically hadn’t run since then.  Less than a mile into the race my knee was in pain, but I pushed on.  I must’ve been favoring that leg because about 16 miles in the other, non-injured, leg seized up.  The muscles in the calf, hamstring and quad all locked up.  They were done.  But I wasn’t.  I stretched it out awhile and walked for a bit and alternated between a job and walk for the next 10 miles.  It seemed agonizingly slow at times, but I wasn’t going to give up.

Apparently I looked so bad that when I passed my dad and brother, who were out there to cheer me on, they were trying to decide between them who’d tell me that I should pack it and call it a day.  Fortunately neither one of them suggested it.

When I crossed the finish line, I remember my eyes tearing up just a bit.  I’d made it.  I didn’t care what my time was, only happy that I’d finished.  It was an epic experience, and before they put the finishers medal around my neck, I knew I was going to do another one.

Even though I was in pain for the entire race, and had to walk more than I ever thought I’d have to walk, I truly enjoyed the entire experience.

I’m still going to chase that 4hr mark on Sunday, but even if I miss it, I expect to have fun, enjoy the race and the beauty that is Michigan in the fall.

Oh, and the beer tent – that should be fun too!

I skipped my run today – and I’m ok with that.

I went to bed last night planning to run 5 miles this morning – my last run prior to the Grand Rapids Marathon this weekend.  But I didn’t.

I woke up, checked my resting pulse rate, glanced at my phone to see if there was anything critical from work and rolled out of bed to weigh myself and chug my morning glass of water.  At this point, I typically head down the steps to gear up and head out the door.  This morning, I turned back toward the bedroom, crawled back into bed, rolled over and went back to sleep.

You’re training to run 100 miles, and you’re good with just going back to bed??

In the past, skipping would really bother me.  At times it would almost ruin my day.  I felt like I cheated myself – let myself down – was a lazy POS – whatever – pick any of the above.

Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t say I was happy about skipping my run.  I’m ok with it.  I accept it.

After I did get out of bed (for real), I recalled an article I have hanging on my wall at work (when I’m not being a husband or a dad or running I do have time to do some work) => 15 Critical Habits of Mentally Strong People.  I won’t regurgitate it here – you can click the blue text if you’d like – but I will call out one point that’s stuck with me: Mentally strong people don’t dwell on their mistakes.  I wouldn’t call missing a 5 miler a mistake, per se, but the idea is the same – what’s done is done.  It’s like a golfer missing a 3 foot putt.  A five miler, or <insert your mileage here> is a ‘gimme.’ At least it should be a ‘gimme,’ but sometimes those easy putts lip out.  You can either let it go or let it eat you up. I’ve been eaten up enough.

Are you writing a self-help blog or a running blog?

While this article was written for the corporate life, much applies to running – specifically ultras.  This sport requires mental toughness.  Testing my mental toughness is one of the things the pushes me to run farther.  I love it.

My point is – some nights your kids scream all night.  Work called.  You buddy helps you move a swing set and Busch man cans are 2 for $3, you have a fridge full of Michigan double IPAs, and you don’t eat anything all day.  Whatever the reason, you need a few extra Zs in the morning.  It’s ok — if, IF it’s not just an excuse and doesn’t turn into a habit.  Mentally strong people don’t dwell on mistakes.  But they also don’t make it a habit.

Also … in his article, Travis Bradberry points out mentally strong people make a point to get enough sleep.  That helped me this morning too 🙂

Did you quit again?

Me: I have some running news.

Her: What?  Did you quit again?

Me: Nope.  I’m running a 100 miler.  Two of them actually.  I have to complete one to qualify to enter the lottery for the race out West.

Her: That’s not the race in the desert is it?

Me: The Badwater?  No – that’s 135 miles.  That’s ridiculous.

Me: Oh … and I’m blogging about the whole adventure.


So my wife’s on board aware of my plans.  She tolerates the idea for now.  She’s kinda been down this route before.  Last summer I was training for a 50 miler and ultimately had to drop back to the 50k.  That’s what she meant by ‘did you quit again?’

I never quit, just adjusted my goals.

I remember that morning vividly.  I was up at 2am for an 18 miler – before work.  About 3.5 miles in I just stopped and said to myself – this is f’n crazy.  I ran straight home and went back to bed for a couple hours before going to work.

BUT … part of what draws me to this sport is that, yes, it is F’N CRAZY!  It’s a challenge, and I love that about running, regardless of the distance.  There’s just something about pushing myself to run longer distances that I can’t shake.  I’ve never been fast.  But I can push myself to run farther.

Summer training is hard, and that ‘goal adjustment’ was dead in the middle of summer.  Weekends are booked up with fun things outside of running – camping, travel to in-laws, farm markets, vacations, etc.  That’s what summer is for.  But … it makes for some tough running, especially when traveling.  Thus, the long runs move into the work week.  And you really can’t run double digits, before work, without getting out of bed at a insanely early hour.  (my record is 1:50am – for a 20miler on a Friday.)

Ultra training ramps it up even more because you get to do that – twice, on back to back days!

Don’t get me wrong.  It sounds like I’m complaining.  I’m not.  It’s a challenge.  One that I welcome and look forward to.  That’s one of the biggest reasons I do this – to push myself.  How far can I go?

This summer, I only managed the 50k on trails in the UP of Michigan.  Next summer, the goal, again, is the 50 miler.  Once I accomplish that, I’ll focus on training for the 100 miler.

Baby steps.

By the way, the 50k I ran – Marquette Trail 50 – is an incredible race.  Do it.