Category Archives: Family

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 🙂

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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!

Weekend to-do list

I’ve been getting pummeled with work lately and it’s ratcheted up even more these last two weeks as a major project closes out and a member of my team gave notice of his resignation.

Unfortunately this has been causing me to ignore the things that are important to me, specifically …

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Thank you to http://www.sarahrypmaphotography.com for the awesome family photo – she. does. awesome. work!

So as I sit here, working late (well waiting on some jobs to finish) – again – I mentally put together a ‘to-do’ list for the weekend.

It looks something like …

  1. run.
  2. SWMLC story book hike with my girls.
  3. date night with my wife.
  4. run.
  5. breakfast date with my girls.
  6. drink beer.
  7. watch nascar.
  8. sleep

That is of course assuming we get through this current issue w/work.  Don’t get me wrong, I shouldn’t complain, I enjoy my work, but at times it can be a little much.  This is one of those times.

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In other news, as I logged into Google Photos to pull down the family picture, it reminded me of the dangers of winter running.  This is from 2 years ago.  I remember the run fondly, running downhill, on ice (before I had yaktrax) slipped, ended up on my ass, and my headlamp slammed into the bridge of my nose.

I didn’t realize I was cut until I returned home.

Y’all have a great weekend!  What’s on your to-do list?

Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

It’s January.  Some are making new year’s resolutions and some have already broken them.  Some are finding success with their resolutions and some didn’t make any.

Me?

I’m not really a New Year’s resolution kinda guy.  Sure, it’s a point in time to ‘reset’ the clock so to speak, and set new goals – I have a few goals, perhaps we’ll get to those later, but I don’t see why a specific date in the year should signal a time to decide to do something differently.  If y’all want to do something differently – do it, whether it’s Jan 1st or April 3rd.

Anyway …

A while ago I was struggling w/the balance of it all – family / work / running / whatever else there is to balance.  Some days I’d sleep late and struggle to run and be frustrated if I missed a run.  Some nights I was a bit short with the girls so I could get up early and run.  Sometimes a work commitment made home life and/or running difficult.

As a result, as I was trying to fall asleep one night I asked myself  -> Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

To share breakfast with my girls?  Sure.

To go to work?  Sure.

To run?  Sure.

Coffee?  Ummm, obviously.

No, really – why?  What drives these actions and which one should take priority?

I gave it some thought, and I came up with the 5 reasons I get out of bed in the morning.  These reasons have become the five ‘rules,’ so to speak, that I live my life by.  Not only are they my rules, but they’re the priority of how I mange my time / life.

Why do I share these?  No, I’m not a shrink … 

Running, especially running long distances, is hard to balance in one’s life – especially with a young family at home.  It’s incredibly selfish.  Perhaps you’ve experienced these same thoughts / struggles and a similar exercise might benefit you.

So here they are – the 5 rules TJ lives life by.

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Thanks to Sarah Rypma Photography for the sweet family picture! http://www.sarahrypmaphotography.com

  1. Do the best I can for my family each day.  I adore my girls.  My wife /  daughters mean the world to me and I want to do the best I can for them every single day.  ‘Family first’ has always been a mantra of mine, but I used to let things – like running – or work – get in the way of this.  I’d try to rush through the bedtime routine with my daughters so I could get to bed for an early run.  Or I’d ignore my wife in the evening as I stretched or slept or worked.  Does that mean I don’t ever work now because I want to spend time with my family?  No – it just means I make a more deliberate effort to do the best I can for them, and with them, when I get the opportunity.  No more rushing through bedtime routine, I cozy up with my wife on the couch more in the evenings.  I make a point to return from my weekend long runs early enough to be there when the kids are up so I can make them breakfast and let my wife enjoy sleeping in.
  2. Do the best I can for myself each day.  This really has two parts –  whatever I’m doing, I want to do it the best I can.  Be it work, or running, or playing a board game.  If I’m not doing my best, what’s the point?  Secondly, it means after doing the best I can do for my family, I’m doing stuff for me.  Perhaps it makes be a bit selfish, but hey – you only live once.
  3. Have fun / Relax.  I try my best to make things fun.  Life should be fun.  Life should be silly.  If there’s one thing I want my daughters to learn its that it’s ok to be silly and have fun.  But with that being said, I am also not a very patient dude, and I have a bit of a temper, so I remind myself to relax and enjoy the ride.
  4. Be good to people.  I think people deserve a fair shot.  They deserve the benefit of the doubt, in my opinion, to be listened to and respected, unless of course they do something to lose that respect.  This doesn’t mean I always have to be nice to people or even like everyone.  It just means I am fair and honest with them.
  5. Do cool shit.  Life is short and we only get one shot.  I want to squeeze as much out of it as possible – be it travel, camping, running, fishing, whatever – and share that with my family.
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Torres Del Paine National Park – Chile

There – you didn’t see running until rule #5! Gasp!

That doesn’t mean that running isn’t a priority.  Or that I don’t spend many, many, many hours running.  It just helps me remember that running isn’t the priority.

I try to remind myself of these rules each night as I lay in bed – thinking about how I did, or didn’t, live up to each of these for the day.  Yes, just because they’re my rules that doesn’t mean I always follow them perfectly.  I find this nightly exercise relaxing; it helps me sleep and it mentally sets the table for the next day.

So there you have it, in the absence of any live changing resolutions for 2016 – my 5 rules for life.

Do you have any life rules that you follow?

 

2015 was a very good year …

Let’s just rip off the band-aid …

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this is where I quit the training for my first 50 miler

From a running perspective, my biggest disappointment in 2015 happened 3 miles into an 18 mile run on a Thursday morning.  I can tell you exactly where I was (see picture to the left).  Rather than running the 18 miles, I went home and went back to bed for 2 hrs.  Yes – 18 miles before work is difficult.  But … so is a 50 mile race (I imagine).

With that said … 2015 was awesome.  I won’t dwell on the negative, but it happened.

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2015 Kal-Haven trail run – look at that sexy form

2015 was the  year of the Ultra for me.  I ran my first two Ultras – my first in April, the Kal-Haven Trail Race, and the second in August, the Marquette trail 50k.  The ‘k’ was supposed to be a ‘M,’ but see two paragraphs prior …

Perhaps it was a bit unrealistic to expect to run a 50 miler during the first year of running ultras, but I figured I’d keep cranking up the mileage.  Oh well.

In addition to the two ultras, I ran two marathons.  That’s it – four races in 2015.  But I ran a PR in all of them!  Hey, it’s easy to do when you’re still a relatively new runner!

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Ready to high-five my nephew during the Flying Pig Marathon

Of course my first Ultra in April was a PR, especially at the odd distance of 33.5 miles.

In May, I knocked over 50 minutes off my Marathon PR at the Flying Pig in Cincinnati.

In August I ran my first 50k, on trails, thus that was a PR as well (and my favorite race of the year – by far!).

Then in October I dropped another 20ish minutes off my marathon time at the Grand Rapids Marathon.  This was also my first sub-4 hr marathon.

Beyond the four races, I also crushed my PR for miles in a year by over 300 miles.  It was a very good running year.  I hope 2016 treats me half as good.  We’ll begin to find out tomorrow – as I line up for my first race of the year, the Yankee Springs Winter Challenge 50k.

Beyond running, 2015 was good to me in other ways…

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My 2yr old caught her first fish …

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We went camping as a family for the first time (nephew and my daughters) …

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Backyard camping with my oldest …

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Watched Howie Day from this far away with my wife …

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Helped my daughters make snowmen in June …

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Took the family to Rocky Mountain National Park …

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… and watched my daughters explore the rocks at 10,000 ft near Dream Lake …

I hope you enjoyed your 2015 as well, and have some cool stuff planned for 2016.  My big goal for the year is to conquer the 50 mile race that I gave up on last year.

I’d also like to be a better husband and a better dad in 2016.  Not to say I was bad in either instance in 2015.  By my totally unscientific measure, I was an A-, but there’s always room to improve.  Sometimes I focus a little too much on the running … or let my temper escape when it shouldn’t.  I will do better in 2016.

Happy New Year!

What’d you like best in 2015?

What are your goals for 2016?

Sleep – the most difficult part of ultrarunning

Buzz, buzz, buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz … My alarm wakes me this morning.  It’s 2:40am.  Just 20 minutes after my daughter woke me to say her comforter fell off the bed and needed to be replaced.

I didn’t have it in me.  I rolled over, grabbed the covers, and faded back into sleep.  Bed won.  What should’ve been a 12 mile run, was left to what should’ve been.

When I finally awoke, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Sleep is the hardest thing for me with respect to my ultrarunning.  It’s not the running.  It’s not the darkness.  It’s not the rain, the snow, the heat, the fog.  It’s the sleep.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a very good sleeper, but what I realized is, with respect to sleep, there’s such a fine – fine, like a razor blade fine line between my ultrarunning success and total failure.  Too much sleep, and I don’t have the time to properly train.  Too little, and I run myself into exhaustion – which is probably true for most folks, but the line between the two feels incredibly thin sometimes.

Flash back to this morning …IMG_3492.PNG

I made the right call.  I’d slept less than four hours.  I can’t expect to make it through a couple hours of running, a day’s worth of work, hanging with the family and then get up at 2:20am the next day to run again.  It just wouldn’t work.

I’ve been trying to pull more of my running into the work week to spend more time with my family on the weekend.  I don’t sacrifice much time with my kids because I’m usually running very early while they’re sleeping, but consequently I lose time in the evenings with my wife because I’m trying to go to bed early.

It’s really quite selfish.  It reminds me of how selfish ultrarunning is, but it is … what it is.  So I’ve been trying to pull at least one of the weekends long runs forward.  To give us more time together at least one of the weekend nights.

It’s not working.

For the year, I average 6 hours 35 minutes of sleep a night.  3 hours 8 minutes of deep sleep, and I get up, on average at 5:48am (yes I track all of that).  Those aren’t really terrible numbers.  But those are just averages … easing the hills and valleys into more of a pleasing number.  Of course, on days I run, the sleep is much less, the mornings much earlier – and I ride the sleep trough into the next wave of rest.

I felt like I handled the sleep during the early part of the year much better than I’m handling it now.  Looking at the data, I was doing both of my long runs on the weekend.  But as I mentioned before – I don’t get to spend as much time with my wife that way.

So … what to do??

Ultimately I feel like I’m in a much better place when I’m getting my training in and feeling successful as a runner.  And by successful – for me, that just means showing up for a race, properly trained, and completing it.  When I’m not feeling successful with my running, that has other negative impacts – I get grumpy for one, and my fuse is a bit shorter.

Fortunately for me, the training cycle for my next race is about to peak next week.  But there will be others soon enough.

I think I’m going to go back to running both long runs on the weekend, drop the mid-week runs to twice per week (and lengthen them a bit), schedule deliberate off-days and take the opportunity to spend more quality time those evenings with the family.

When my wife, and I do get the chance to snag a sitter, and sneak away on a weekend date night, well … I’ll just make sure I schedule the shorter of the two long runs the next morning.

Sleep.  Who thought it’d be so hard?

How do you balance workout time with family time?

What’s the hardest part of your training?