Category Archives: Goals

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.

IMG_2903.JPG

beautiful lake superior

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

Excited for Indiana

100TrailLogosmall.jpg

from the Indiana Trail 100 website – http://www.indianatrail100.com

I’m excited!

When I originally started this blog, I wanted to target the Mohican 100 as my first 100 mile run in mid-June 2017.  However after giving this some thought recently, I decided to instead focus on the Indiana Trail 100.  And that has me excited.

Seriously – I’m excited about Indiana! Yeah, I didn’t think I’d ever utter those words …

Why the change?

I want to push this Western States goal.  Yes, I want to run a couple of 50 milers before moving up to a 100, but I wanted to run a 100 mile race sooner vs. later.  Thus, I started poking around at the WSER qualifying list to see which races were early in the year.  And I found that the Indiana Trail 100 was in April – and a qualifier.

I see a few benefits to this …

  1. This ideally sets up up to run a couple of 100 milers next year – Indiana and possibly Hallucination.
  2. The Indiana Trail 100 is closer to home, making the weekend ideally less impactful to my family.
  3. The course appears to be less technical than Mohican.  Ideally good for a first 100 miler.

The downside though …

  1. The course appears to be less technical than Mohican.  The Mohican course looks sweet, but I’ll pass on that if it allows me the potential to get in a couple 100s next year.

I would still love to run Mohican.  Perhaps in 2018?  I know the chances are very slim that my name will be drawn for Western after only one qualifying race.  Thus, there will likely be other years I’ll need to qualify.

What race are you most excited for in your future?

Ultrarunning: not always run through the woods drinking PBR

It’s been a tough few weeks – from a running perspective.  Yes, the year started off with a bang when I ran the Yankee Springs Winter Challenge.  From there, my running went downhill.

And not in a good, I just crested a hill and I’m ready to let gravity help me cruise sorta way.

I’ve been challenged from work on a couple of different weeks – the hours have been creeping up as we near the finish line of a major project.

My wife has work travels coming this week which will interrupt my running (kiddos can’t stay home alone while I run in the morning and it’s the time of year the double stroller is firmly ensconced in the garage, behind all the deck furniture.

Work will continue to hit me with more and more hours through the month of February.

The April race I picked, a reprise of my first Ultra (Kal-Haven Trail Race), has been trumped by work and I had to bail on it.

In short, I’ve been generally bummed out and unmotivated from a running perspective.

Dude – don’t be such a downer!

Why do I share this?  At first I didn’t think I would.  It’s not an exciting / motivating post.  But – Ultrarunning is hard.  And I thought it was worth sharing that aspect of the sport.  Too often you see only the ‘awesomeness’ of the sport.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of awesomeness, but my goal with this blog is to share the experience – the whole experience – of training / working toward my goal of running Western States.  That includes the good and the bad.  It’s easy to tell you how awesome it is to run through the woods and drink PBR.  It’s harder to write about when things are going tough.

What have I learned over the past few weeks?

IMG_3856.JPG

Keeping my eye on the prize – 2016 Marquette trail 50 (miler this year) – with last year’s 50k pint glass.

Well – it helps to keep life prioritized.  As I’ve mentioned previously, running isn’t at the top of my list of priorities.  That keeps my running disappointment from becoming general disappointment.

I’ve also learned when you miss a few runs, it’s not the end of the world.  And you shouldn’t try to make up for all of that lost mileage in a single day / week / or even month.  Keep focus on the goal.  For me it’s running my first 50 miler in August and building a strong base to run my first 100 miler next year.  It’s not running 10 miles on last Tuesday.

Finally – run when / what you can.  A short run is, hands down, better than no run.

 

 

 

2015 was a very good year …

Let’s just rip off the band-aid …

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 9.59.39 PM.png

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.

IMG_6390 (1).JPG

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!

IMG_2220.JPG

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…

IMG_3900.JPG

My 2yr old caught her first fish …

IMG_2845.JPG

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

IMG_2767.JPG

Backyard camping with my oldest …

IMG_2876.JPG

Watched Howie Day from this far away with my wife …

DSC_0182.jpg

Helped my daughters make snowmen in June …

DSC_9950.jpg

Took the family to Rocky Mountain National Park …

IMG_2517.JPG

… 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?

When it’s ok to ignore the big picture

I find running to be a very ‘big picture’ endeavor.  It involves setting goals that take months and/or years to reach.  I know in the very best scenario, I’m looking at 2018 until I have any chance at Western States – with one lottery ticket.  In all reality, it will be some time much beyond that.

In addition to the goal setting, there’s the thought and planning involved with creating a training plan to get through those months leading up to a big race and shuffling your schedule around on a weekly basis to hit those training plans.

The weeks leading up to race weekends involve planning the travel and logistics of the race.  Do I need to book a hotel?  Am I flying?  How is my old man going to find me on the course at any given time?  Am I carrying hydration for the whole race or do I leave some Tailwind in a drop bag.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 5.17.48 AM.png

Custom Map I put together for my Dad to find me during my first Ultra

One of the coolest logistical moves I’ve seen is the custom trucker hats I read about over at The 100 Mile Mark.

Honestly the ‘big picture’ is why I love ultrarunning – I’m a planner.  I love to set goals.  And I love to challenge myself.

But … (you knew there was a but coming based on the title, eh?)

There are times when I need to ignore the big picture – specifically when it’s time to actually run.

Looking at the big picture can be very overwhelming at 2:40am when my alarm rings.  I have to get out of bed and run for how many hours??

Prior to my first ultra, my parents wanted to know what time they should be in town to watch.  They live in Cincinnati – some 5 hours away from Kalamazoo.  I said something to the effect of ‘Oh, it’s a long race, you can leave when I start and still make the finish line before I do.’

Then I thought to myself … Oh shit – what did I get myself into?  They’re going to be driving, from CINCINNATI for less time than I’ll be running!! … and I had a small panic attack.

I find while I’m running, it’s always best to live in the moment.  I don’t think about how much further I need to run (I did that once on an 18 miler and bailed after 4 miles, only to go back to bed for a couple hours – it was the beginning of the end of my training for my first 50 miler last year).  I don’t think about how many more days I need to get up before 4am this week.  I don’t think about how many more hours of sleep my wife is getting each week by not running – Ok I have thought about that a few times, and it makes me want to run straight home and jump back into bed.

IMG_2909 (1).JPG

Living in the moment during the Marquette trail 50k – 2015

Simply put, when it’s time to actually run, our friends at Nike said it best – Just do it.  That’s when I find it ok to ignore the big picture.  I roll out of bed, gear up, head out the door and enjoy each step in the moment.

Relax, breathe, run.  And watch the stars.

I leave the big picture thinking for a later time – usually when I have a beer with me.

Have you ever been overwhelmed with your big picture running goals?

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.

IMG_2153

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.

Have you ever looked past one goal to reach another?

There’s a very good chance I hit my mileage goal for the year -> 1350 miles.  Bummer.  At the moment, on 11/6, I have 258 to go.  After a bit of rest and an ankle injury, post GR Marathon, I was borderline based on the training I have planned for the rest of the year.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 10.58.48 AM

Then came the nagging chest cold / cough that I can’t seem to kick.  Every night before bed and every morning when I awake – cough, cough, cough.  That too has side-lined me as of late.  The longer it’s sidelined me, the more frustrating it’s become.

Mentally, it’s been difficult.

I think I finally made peace with it yesterday though.  I started thinking about why I run.  It’s not to run 1350 miles this year.  That was just an arbitrary number I picked out of the air.  It was me thinking – hey, I wonder if I can run 35% more next year.  35% is a lot.  Which is why it was a goal I suppose – otherwise it’d be a given.

No, I didn’t really run to hit that number.

I run to be healthier. -> Ok, so taking the time needed to actually kick this cold would make me healthier, vs. running myself into the ground on limited sleep and risking pneumonia again.

I run to enjoy the outdoors. -> I can still enjoy the outdoors while I’m sick – on a walk with the kids, or sitting on the deck enjoying the evening (what’s left of it now that we’re back on standard time).  I don’t have to push myself out of bed at 3am every day while sick.

I run to train for my next race. -> The longer I spend with this nagging chest cold, the more I jeopardize my training for the Yankee Springs Winter Challenge.  So, taking a break to fully kick this is a good thing.

I run to ultimately run my first 100 miler.

I run to eventually complete Western States.

Both of those final two are far enough in the future that they’re not really impacted either way here.

Ok – thinking through that helped.

Next I thought about what goals I have accomplished this year …

  1. I ran, and finished, my first Ultra.
  2. I ran, and finished, my first trail Ultra.
  3. I ran a sub 4hr marathon for the first time
  4. I already ran more than I have in any other year

Ok – feeling even better now.

Perhaps the answer is – I need to look past one goal (1350 miles) to reach another one (to be prepared to run the Yankee Springs Winter Challenge).

Have you ever had to look past one goal to reach another?