Monthly Archives: November 2015

Week of 11/22/15 – 900 miles on the family truckster

Miles this week: 24

2015 YTD: 1206


This was a tough week.  Mentally tough as we spent most of Thanksgiving weekend at a funeral.  Tough from a running standpoint based on the holiday and funeral.  Tough for spending about 900 miles in the car, in rain and traffic and construction over the holiday weekend.

I came into the week planning to pull my back to back long runs up to Monday / Tuesday.  This would allow me to work around the Thanksgiving double run-eat-run 10k races I planned to run on Thursday / Friday mornings.  It would also allow me to get my mileage even with the holiday and funeral over the weekend.

Well … that running plan went to shit.

Monday / Tuesday I was exhausted.  Literally too exhausted to get up and run.  It happens sometimes – I tell my wife it’s my tired phase.  Sometimes I just need to sleep. We piled into the family truckster Wednesday night, to drive across the state to the in-laws for Thanksgiving.  Just before we get on the highway, my wife hollers – ‘Don’t get on, don’t get on!’  She saw the traffic piled up under the overpass so we passed on the highway and pulled over to check our phones.  I pulled up Waze and it looked like this …

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At that point we bailed.

Since we didn’t make it to Detroit Wednesday night, I didn’t make my run Thursday morning.  Since we were headed to Ohio for a funeral early Friday, that shot my run Friday morning as well.

So Wednesday night I was sitting at 0 miles with both races out of the picture.

I managed to drag my ass out of bed early enough to run 12 miles, through the rain, Thanksgiving day before we hit the road again and enjoyed my first holiday lights of the season.

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Thanksgiving was good, but I was missing spending it was my side of the family based on the circumstances at hand.  But I still stuffed my face and enjoyed the company of my in-laws.

Friday I was up early again for another run through the rain – this time 6 miles.  Then it was in the car to head South.  I followed that with another early 6 mile run, again through the rain – what the hell??, on Saturday morning.

Saturday evening it was back to Detroit to pick up the kids and on toward home today.  All told, we logged about 900 miles on the family truckster.  Unfortunately I only logged about 24 on my legs.  All in the rain.

I wanted to run again this morning, but I didn’t take enough clothes with me for the rain.  Each morning after my run, I stuffed the wet clothes in my gym bag and rolled onto the next town.  I don’t mind running in the wet.  I don’t mind running in the cold.  But I do mind putting on something wet to go run in the cold – so I passed this morning.

I guess it was only fitting to do all of that running in the rain.  Some how it seemed to match the sadness of the weekend.

One bright spot on the weekend, aside from the Thanksgiving dinner – I tried Buffalo Wings and Rings last night – holy awesome wings!  When we returned to my in-laws I told them I needed a beer and wings.  Buffalo Wings and Rings happened to be close so my father-in-law joined me for a beer while we waited on wings for takeout.  They were AWESOME.  HUGE wings and the sauce (roasted garlic) was perfect.

Well, that’s pretty much how the week went.  Here’s to this week being better on all fronts.

How was your Thanksgiving?

What are your favorite wings?

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving all – good luck with your turkey trots and fourth helpings of turkey and gravy.

IMG_3485.JPGThere’s no turkey trot on the agenda for me this year, but I did make it out for a 12 mile milk run this morning – realized we were out last night and I can’t enjoy my Kellogg’s breakfast cereal w/o it!

With that 12 miler I’m ready for gravy (that’s really what I’m in it for).

OK, gravy and PIE! (Apple please)

Speaking of the 12 mile run, I gotta give it to Smartwool – they make some awesome stuff.  I was wearing my long sleeve mid-weight shirt this morning.  We had mid-40s and rain.  Not a heavy rain, but a steady rain for all but the last 35 minutes or so.  When I got home the shirt was damn near dry!  My body heat must’ve been enough to keep it drying through the run.  I also didn’t get cold at all.  Smartwool (or Icebreaker – they’re both awesome) is about all I run in anymore.

With that – it’s time to load up the family truckster and point it East in search of gravy, where I’m thankful to spend the day with family and delicious food.  Safe travels to all those who’re headed out of town and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

What’re your favorite running apps?

I was 9 miles into my 12 mile run recently, texting with a co-worker at 5am about a problem at work (I’m a computer nerd – we’re always available) and I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye.

That’s weird, it seemed like lightning – but … we don’t really get much lightning this time of year …

A few minutes, and a few texts later (by the way – thankfully I’m working on HR training and have been moving SLOOOOOOOOOOWLY, otherwise this texting thing isn’t really doable) I saw another flash.

Hmmmm – maybe that is lightning.

I opened one of my favorite apps ‘Storm’ from Wunderground, and sure enough – there was lightning about 75 miles out.

Good – I’m not rushing home for work and now I don’t have to rush home for the lightning, it’s headed North vs. East.

With the work crisis behind me, and the lightning headed North, I spent the last three miles thinking about what my favorite running apps are.  Then I got to thinking – what other cool running apps are there that I’m not aware of?  That’s where you come in … but I didn’t think it was fair to ask you without giving you my favorites as well.

Mine are below.

What are your favorite running apps?


 

IMG_3438.PNGStorm – Free

Storm is awesome.  Yes it has the hourly / daily forecast like all weather apps, and I use that to help me gather the proper clothes the night before a run, but the radar is what I love about it.

As you can see, it’s possible to overlay a lightning map.  I’ve used before to bail on an 18 miler when there was a storm moving in quicker than anticipated.

The pie shaped area ahead of the storm gives you an idea of how fast (each tick mark is 15 minutes) and what direction a storm is headed.  If you click on the storm, it will give you estimated times it will reach cities in the path.

This app also allows you to look an hour into the future with the radar.  Obviously it can’t really see the future, but it’s the best guess as to where a storm is headed.

Lastly, it will alert when lightning (or precipitation) is in the area.  Since it does that via notification, and my Garmin Fenix 3 receives notifications from my phone, this is a pretty sweet deal.  Typically I don’t like to be close enough to rely on that for lightning (I think it alerts at 10 miles), but I’d rather have that last bit of warning vs. nothing.


 

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Garmin Connect – Free

Not all apps are sexy, and this one definitely falls into the ‘not sexy’ category.  But, for what it lacks in sex appeal, it makes up for in functionality – usually.

This app can do all sorts of things – track sleep, steps, download golf courses??, plus probably some other stuff, but what I love it for is the ability to link up to my Garmin Fenix 3.  If you don’t have a watch this will link to (I think it’s compatible with newer Forerunner watches also) then you can skip this one.

Before I start a run, I click the ‘Start LiveTrack button’ and then as I’m running, my wife can see where I’m at.  This is very useful if I end up hurt and she needs to come pick me up (fortunately never had to use that), wants to swing by a run with the girls after grocery shopping (has done that in the middle of a 17 mile run), track me during a race, or just see how close I am to returning home on the weekend.

The downside to the liveTrack functionality – after recent updates to my watch software and the Garmin Connect App, I’ve seen a few occasions where it hasn’t worked.

Lastly, Garmin Connect is the app that allows my to pair my Fenix 3 to my phone to receive notifications.  Any notification that appears on my watch (including the aforementioned lightning alerts), come to my phone.  So – while I’m running a race, those following my progress w/LiveTrack and send me words of encouragement during the race.


 

IMG_3443.PNGStrava – Free (Premuim $59.99/yr)

I log all of my runs (and walks / hikes) to Strava.  it’s my go-to app for logging / tracking my activities.

I enjoy the ability to compete in the challenges (typically I do the monthly distance / 10k / half marathon) and commune with other runners.  Seeing what other, local, runners are doing out in the cold of winter helps to keep me motivated.

I used to use Map My Run, but it because very slow, especially when reviewing old data.  I’ve never had that issue w/Strava.

Strava will track mileage on your shoes too.  I find that very helpful.

I’m a Strava premium subscriber.  I utilize that for weekly goals, personal heat map (where I’ve run) and to a minor degree the trophy case.  I’d say most of the best functionality is in the free version though.

One bummer though – I couldn’t bring my data over from Map My Run.  But I got over that soon enough.


 

Pace IMG_3444.PNG– Free

I use Pace a lot – like multiple times a week a lot.  It’s another app that falls into the ‘not so sexy’ category, but it’s very useful.

As my runs get longer and longer, the math to figure out what time I need to get up in the morning gets harder and harder.

Pace helps my plugging in my distance / anticipated pace and, Voila!, there’s how much time I need.

I also used it before my last marathon to help me understand what pace I needed to run to break 4 hours.  Yes, anyone can google it and get a result of 9:09/mile.  BUT … if you run 9:09, per your watch, you’re likely not going to break 4 hours.

Because you really run more than 26.2 miles in a marathon!

Looking back at my previous two marathons, I figured I needed to plan on running at least 26.5 miles.  I plugged in 26.5 miles, 3:59:59 in the ‘time’ field, and it spit back a pace of 9:03.

I shot for 9:02 just to be safe.


 

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Google Sheets – Free

Spreadsheets.  On your phone.  That’s really about all I need to say about this one.

I personally use a Google spreadsheet to maintain my training log.  This gives me the ability to view / update that on the fly.

Coolness.

It’s pretty full featured too.  The training log is simple math, but if you wanted to you can format with different colored cells, etc.

If you keep a spreadsheet as well, perhaps this would be useful to you.

 

 


 

IMG_3452.PNGGoogle Maps – Free

Google Maps helps me explore new places visually before strapping on my shoes to run for real.

Yes, I like to explore while I run, but I also like to be safe, and there’s some comfort knowing what I’m getting into – before I get into it.

Case in point, I was looking at the area near a Fairfield Inn that I stayed recently.  I saw lots of industrial stuff that didn’t look too welcoming to a run.  And given that I like to run early, before the sun’s up, I took a pass and hit the treadmill instead.

 

 

 


 

 

IMG_3447.PNG ISS Spotter – Free

I love to run early in the morning – aka Darkness!!

Why???

Well first off, that’s what my schedule allows, but … there’s some really cool stuff to see in the wee hours of the morning – like the International Space Station!

How do I find the International Space Station?

I’m glad you asked – simply download the ISS Spotter app and it will provide you a forecast of when you should be able to see the space station fly overhead.

It also provides a nice map of where the space station is at the current time.

If you’re really into looking at the space station, you can set an alert to let you know when it’s nearby and very visible.


 

IMG_3445.PNGThe Night Sky – $.99

Another benefit of early morning running – Stars!  And I love stars.

There are plenty of apps that act as a star chart, and I’ve used a few.  Honestly, this one doesn’t get great reviews in the app store, but it meets my needs.

First, it was one of the star charts with the smallest installation footprints.

Secondly, it’s very responsive.

What more does one need?

I’m not real big on seeing the artist representation of the constellation, but there’s probably a way to turn that off.  It just hasn’t bothered me enough to look into it.

I like that this will tell me what a particular constellation, or planet, is and that it also helps me look for a specific constellation on planet.

Recently it helped tech me that a constellation I was looking at was Canis Minor.

One other benefit – when I read reports of a meteor shower, centralized on constellation XYZ, I use this to find XYZ in the sky so I know where to look.


 

IMG_3446.PNGAurora Forecast – Free

I’ve always thought it’d be cool to run under the Northern lights.  To date, that’s never happened, but I’m hoping this app helps me with that.

This app does exactly what the name implies – helps one understand the forecast for the Northern lights.

One of the cool features is the globe that you can spin around and see where the Aurora is currently active.

While I haven’t been successful from a running standpoint, this app has been useful in notifying me of an opportunity to take my daughter out to experience them the first time.

 


 

 

IMG_3448.PNGScope Nights – Free (but in app purchases)

Another app that’s rated poorly in the app store, but I dig it.

It’s offers a quick glance as to whether or not I’m gonna have a poor / good / great star viewing run in the morning.

One of the extras I purchased was the dark sky map.  It shows you where the sky is darkest around you.  Not necessarily useful for running, but it helps me find the dark sky if I want to take my daughters out for a ride to look at stars.

 

 

 


 

Week of 11/16/15 in review …

Miles this week: 38

2015 YTD: 1082


The watch keeps creeping earlier in the morning.  That’s the story of the week from a running standpoint.  As the runs get longer, the watch rings earlier.  Such is the glamorous life of an ultrarunner.

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Good morning sunshine!  Err … good morning darkness.

I only logged 3 runs this week, but they were pretty good ones – 12 / 6 / 20 milers.  I don’t think I was out of bed, on a running day, any later than about 3:15 this week.

I’d originally planned on 4 runs, but I had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting for Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy.  They’re a great organization, protecting many, many acres of land here in Southwest Michigan.  My wife and I have supported them for many years.  Well, their annual meeting was at a bar this year.  And our friend now works for them.  So … I thought I’d attend (who doesn’t like free beer!??).

After a couple delicious Michigan beers, and some catered food, suddenly waking up at the crack of dawn well before the crack of dawn, seemed like a bad idea – so I bailed on one run and extended my run on Saturday morning to 20 miles.

My runs were ‘ok’ this week.  I’m still plugging away at the target HR runs (80% – 145/146 BPM).  So far I haven’t seen any improvement in the second week, but I’m committing to this for a couple months.  More to come on that once I’m finished …

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Saturday’s run was the first snow run of the year – yippeeeee!  The alarm rang at 2:30am and I ran 20 miles, alternating loops around my 4 mile blocks – to the North and to the South.  Not the most exciting course, but it was my first ‘cold’ run of the season and my first snow run.  I wanted to keep it close to the house in case I ran into issues.

One thing that still confuses me is why my pace has to slow to keep my HR in the correct spot, as the distance increases.  I thought perhaps I was hydrating poorly, so I focused on that Saturday, but it didn’t seem to make a lot of difference.

Any ideas??

I tried something new with my hydration on Saturday as well.  I wore my UD SJ vest under my shell.  The thought is the heat will prevent the bladder, tube, from freezing.  This run was barely below freezing so of course it worked great, but let’s see what happens when we hit the double digit negative temps of a Michigan winter.

Since we did get snow, we had to make a snowman.  My kids love snow.  I love snow.  It worked out great!

Daddy – what’s a pipe?

Eh, they’re cool – but people don’t really smoke them anymore.  Snowmen do though!

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Yes, that’s a pipe, don’t judge.

Currently I’m about 20 miles behind on my annual running goal.  However, if I continue to follow my plan between now and the Yankee Springs Challenge, I should end up on the good side of the goal.

My body’s feeling good and I’m ready to continue rocking this training schedule through Christmas.

How was your week of running?  See anything cool?

 

Derailed this morning …

This morning’s run was derailed by the 2yr old’s meltdown around 2:30am.  I can get up early for a run, but I need a pretty solid night’s sleep to make it happen.  With somewhere between 4-6 hours a night, I definitely go for quality vs. quantity.  When the quality isn’t there, neither is the run.

She’s in a phase now where she wants covered up, but can’t won’t do it herself.  Sure, I could go in a few times a night and cover her up again, but that somewhat perpetuates the issue.

We chose cry it out last night – which means it lasted awhile.

Ok – so this blog post was just derailed by the 4yr old falling out of bed.  What’s going on here??

These events remind me of one of the reasons I started this blog.  When I first started running farther and farther, I didn’t know how I’d make it work with young kids at home.  I looked for blogs of folks who were ultrarunners w/kids to get some perspective, but I couldn’t find any.  Thus, I wanted to share my experiences of ultrarunning, with young kids at home, in the instance someone else is curious about it in the future.

So how do ultrarunners make it work with young ones at home?  I don’t have the whole answer yet, but there are days we don’t – like today.  The majority of the time it’s all good though.  It just takes some patience and some quality sleep.

What I will say is my family comes first.  I’ll always do my best for them before I do my best for myself.  If that means covering them up or letting them learn to do it on their own, and it costs me a run, I’m happy to do that.

Here’s to trying again tomorrow!

 

 

Week of 11/9/15 in review …

Miles this week: 33

2015 YTD: 1044


I’m back.

Running-wise / health-wise, I feel like I’m finally back in action.

Guess what else is back – my appetite.  Holy moly, I packed on quite a few lbs. this week.  Beer will do that.  And donuts.  And more beer.

33 miles isn’t a huge number for me, by any stretch, but after the ankle issue post-GR Marathon, struggling through a chest cold and crawling out of ‘The Hole‘ I’m finally content with my running this week.

*sigh of relief*

Monday’s run was awesome.  I wasn’t expecting clear skies, but the stars were out (sweet!)  Not only was I treated to a beautiful sky full of stars, but I saw another meteor (double sweet!).  Seeing the stars is one of my favorite things about the early morning running.  Unfortunately we’re getting into the time of year, here in Michigan, where it clouds over until April.  Better enjoy them while I can!

Friday was supposed to be my first of the weekend double.  The weekend double is the biggest difference between training for a marathon and an ultramarathon.  When I was marathon training, I loved sleeping late on Sunday.  With ultramarathon training I don’t get that anymore – it’s back to back long runs.  That is, unless you move the weekend double to mid-week and go to work as a zombie.  This is the approach that I like to take, at least some weeks, so I can still sleep late on Sunday.  (By late I mean 6:45am today – kind disgusting really …)

Anyway, back to Friday – I was supposed run 12.  I’d done some reading recently about HR training and I thought I’d give it a go.  Seriously – how slow would it possibly be to run at 146 BPM?

SLOW!!!

I made a couple of laps around the blocks near here (they’re big – I live in the country) but then I had to bail due to Taco Bell from the previous day’s lunch.  Fire sauce doesn’t mix well with ultra running.  If you’re curious, that was a 10:25 pace for 8 miles @ 146BPM.

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Saturday was scheduled for 14 miles so I took the opportunity to run around Gull Lake.  I haven’t done that in awhile so that sounded nice.  I took the opportunity to run without a headlamp again for part of the run.  It’s very calming and relaxing.  Again I went for the HR training and ran at 146BPM.  When I say ‘ran,’ that’s somewhat deceiving.  There were definitely sections where I had to walk to keep the HR low, but this is a somewhat hilly course.  I also noticed the longer I went, the more easily my HR elevated.  That got me to thinking why … I don’t have an answer yet, but it’s something I’m going to look into.  I finished the run at 10:48 pace.  Slower than the first run.

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Venus as seen while running w/o Headlamp

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Good morning!

Today was the third HR training run.  I target 146BPM again and again I was even slower.  For 6 miles I clocked a blazing 12:05 pace.  WTF is going on here!?  Was it the beer I drank last night?  The coffee I drank this morning?  I don’t know.

What I do know – HR training isn’t for the ego.

I plan to stick with the HR training for at least the next couple of months.  I’ll write a post when I’m finished and let y’all know how it went and what I learned.  Based on what I’ve seen so far I’m definitely curious about what’s causing the HR to elevate higher than it seems like it should be.  I’m also curious to see if my pace eventually starts to drop.  That’s what’s supposed to happen.

Aside from the running this week …

I had a wonderful visit with some family I haven’t seen in awhile.  While in Columbus I enjoyed some Skyline Chili – my absolute favorite.  Damn that stuff is good.  I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

My wife texted me Friday afternoon about a last minute babysitter.  Someone was back from college and in need of beer money.  I jumped all over that and we enjoyed a very good dinner at Four Roses. If you’re in the Kalamazoo area, check it out.  Very good food!  I recommend the maple mustard ribs.  They also have an awesome beer selection.

Speaking of awesome beer selection, we hit Bell’s Brewery after family photos yesterday afternoon.  For anyone who loves IPAs, they have a double Two Hearted Ale on tap at the restaurant.  It was fabulous!  Their food is amazing too.  I recommend their smoked wings and poutine (duck poutine!).

Today we took the girls out for a hike before lunch.  Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy does a tike hike once a month in their local preserves.   Bow in the Clouds has a creek so my kids were definitely in.  That means they have something to splash in and throw rocks in.  Score!

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Bow in the Clouds Preserve – Kalamazoo Michigan

That about wraps it up – how was your week?  Did you enjoy the miles?  See anything cool or drink any good beer?

What makes you think you can run 100 miles?

What makes you think you can run 100 miles, anyway?

I can’t.  Not yet anyway, but that’s the beauty of all of this.  Rome, as they say, wasn’t built in a day.  But I crave the challenge.

At one time I couldn’t run a half marathon.  Or a marathon.  Or a 50k.

I remember the exact spot – 4.5 miles into my first 6 mile run thinking to myself ‘how in the hell am I going to run a half marathon (twice beyond what I still haven’t finished) in a few months??’

I continued to train, fought through pneumonia and knee pain, and finished my first half marathon in as planned.  And it felt Awesome!  I was exhausted, but knew immediately I had to do it again.

I went through a similar experience when training for my first marathon.  It was a 17 mile run day, and I was 14 miles in, and felt like total shit.  I was gassed, it was later in the day than I normally ran, and I just wanted to get home to my wife and kids.  I thought … the actual race will be over an hour longer more – what’d I get myself into!?

I continued to train, fought through a dog bite with rabies vaccine (that’s a story for another day), and another knee injury that sidelined me for over a month, and finished my first marathon as planned.  And it felt Awesome!

Just as I finished a 16 miler training for my first ultra, I thought to myself ‘that was a good run, time for some waffles and coffee … oh shit, I have to run double that, plus some in a couple months for the race.’

I continued to train and completed my first ultra (Kal-Haven Trail run – 33.5 miles) in April of this year.  I loved it and knew as soon as I finished that I needed to do more – go farther.

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first ultra!

See – I’ve never been a good runner.  At least I haven’t considered myself good. Hell, I don’t even know what good is.  Does it mean you can run X distance in Y time?  All I know is when I ran in high school everyone beat me.  I haven’t gotten any faster.  I do believe I have endurance – I enjoy pushing myself physically, and mentally, to run farther.  I enjoy the planning that goes with it and the race strategy.  I enjoy being outside in the quiet.  I love it.

Ever since ran that first marathon, I’ve had this thought in the back of my mind that I’d run a 100 miler some day.  And now I’ve picked the race – the June 2017 Mohican Trail 100.

I’ll spend 2016 training for a summer 50 miler and build upon that into 2017 for my first 100 miler.  I’ve already started putting together the list of races for 2016.  I’m guessing there will be another 50 miler in there between August 2016 and June 2017 as I prep for Mohican.  If anyone has a suggestion, let me know – something in the Michigan / Indiana / Ohio area would be best for me.

And that’s how I plan, in a nutshell, to run a 100 miler.

Thoughts?  Advice for anyone who’s run a 100 miler?  I’ve read a 50 miler is twice as hard as a marathon.  And that a 100 miler is 4x as hard as a 50 miler.