Category Archives: Training

Excited for Indiana

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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?

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Cold weather hydration tips

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running below zero

I know, I know we’re half way through February and I’m just now giving you cold weather hydration tips.  But here in Michigan – it hasn’t been cold!  I suppose everyone who reads my blog doesn’t live in Michigan though.  Perhaps you’ll find some of these tips useful.  Worst case, we can pull them out again next year a little earlier in the year.

So while it hasn’t been too awfully cold this year, I do live in Michigan.  It does get cold and I’ve run for multiple hours below zero in a single run.  People have asked me – how do you keep your hydration from freezing?  I’ve asked other people how they keep their hydration from freezing.  Here’s what I’ve learned from my winters of running …

  1. The smaller belt clip bottles from Amphipod and the like don’t work for long runs.  I’ve literally had to throw them on the ground mid run to try to break up the ice to get to any water from them.  No, I have nothing against Amphipod, I wear their Xinglet on every run.  The problem with the bottles though – they’re too small so they freeze up quickly.  And since they’re small, I’d need multiple on a long run and that meant I didn’t get to all of them frequently enough to keep them moving and ice free.
  2. Preheat bottles before your run.  Whether you take warm water, mix your drink with warm water, or stick them in a pot of hot water – make sure it’s warm when you leave.  This serves two purposes – obviously it takes longer to freeze, but the warmth against your body will be nice as your body warms up at the start of the run.  I’ve had UD bottles out for 2 hours, below freezing (low teens I believe) and kept them flowing this way.  By the time I got home my Tailwind was a bit slushy, but I could drink it.  If you drink the Tailwind when it’s still warm – it’s not bad at all.  Warm water, eh, I don’t love it, but if it allows me to drink I live with it.
  3. If you use the UD bottles, squeeze a little air through the valve after your drink.  I suppose this would work with any bottle really.  This clears any liquid that might freeze the valve shut.
  4. If your hydration pack fits under your jacket – wear it under your jacket.  Mine fit under my old jacket and the warmth of the body keeps everything flowing.  You look silly, yes, but you can still drink when you’re 2+ hours into a run.  Besides, if it’s -3 who else is outside to see you look silly?
  5. Hydration bladders can be tricky.  Once you take a drink, blow the tube clean of liquid.  The tube will freeze quickly otherwise.  Realize as you blow back into the tube – you’re pressurizing your hydration pack.  This may force liquid back into the tube if there’s too much air in the bladder.  It’s a delicate balance and one that I got wrong yesterday.  I had to run the last hour w/o any hydration after my tube froze.  If you’re using the hydration bladder, stick the end under your, or down your shirt, to keep the valve from freezing.
  6. Drink more often.  The more often you drink, the more often the bottles are used / moved.  This motion keeps them, and the valves, ice free longer.  Set a reminder on your watch to drink.
  7. Pick a loop that keeps you close to home / car / something else where you can replenish your hydration if things do freeze.  If you leave water in your car, make sure it’s warm and in a thermos.  Otherwise it will freeze too.

Those are my cold weather hydration tips after a few years of running through Michigan winters.  Do you have any others to add?

 

When work calls – run!

I woke up Tuesday, about 4:20am, with the intent of running about 7 miles.  Typically when I get up, my first stop is my daughters’ rooms to tuck them in so they don’t wake up cold, cry and then wake my wife.  As I was tucking in my oldest my phone began to vibrate – work was calling.

*sigh*

I’m a computer nerd.  Actually I’m an ex computer nerd who manages a team of computer nerds.  And when the computers aren’t happy – we get called.  Computers don’t care if it’s 4:20am and a run is on my schedule.

I won’t bore you with the details, but it quickly looked like I would not be enjoying my morning run.

Fortunately though, after spending about 40 minutes on the phone with one of my team members, life on the work front was once again happy.

At this point, I could’ve fired up the teapot and pressed a cup of coffee and read the news.  Or crawl back in bed for a quick nap.  Both sounded great.  But I saw my running gear on the chair beside me – waiting to go enjoy the snow.  And that’s what I really wanted.  Rather than bail on my run entirely, I ran 4 miles instead.

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I can’t remember the last time I only ran 4 miles.  But you know what?  It still felt great to get out and enjoy the brisk February morning.

My advice to you – the next time work calls, or something else unexpected pops up – run!  A short run is better than no run in my book.  I think you’ll feel good about running vs. being annoyed that your original plans were spoiled.

Happy Friday!

What’re your weekend running plans?  I hope to run somewhere around 14 miles tomorrow.  It’ll be a cold on in Michigan!

Next up => 50k at Pinckney Recreation Area

Next up => 50k as part of the Trail Marathon weekend at Pinckney Recreation Area.

I began the year with hopes of returning to the KalHaven Trail Run, where I ran my first Ultra last spring.  I thought it’d be cool to see what a year of Ultra running would do to my time.  Unfortunately work had other plans.  And by work, I mean me – I’m the one that originally scheduled this maintenance window (I’m a computer nerd) without checking the schedule against the races I wanted to run this year.

*Sigh*

Thus, the last few weeks – since I realized I can’t run KalHaven – have been a bit off the rails from a running perspective.  There were other reasons too, but I’ve already covered them.

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Winter training – trying to dig out of the Hole

Truth be told, after the minimal running over the few weeks, I was also starting to fall back into the Hole.  A few days ago my alarm went off to run, I silenced it, rolled over in bed and told my wife – I need to find a race to run this spring so I can get my shit together.  I then went back to sleep.

Well, I found the next race and I’m pretty excited about it.  I’ve never run out at Pinckney, but I’ve heard awesome things – especially the Potowatami trail where we’ll be running.

I’d considered it earlier in the year, but dismissed it thinking there was a conflict between it and the 5k at our local Nature Center where I’m volunteering and my daughter is running the kids run (her first run – she wants to learn to run w/me this year – awesome!!).  Well – upon further review, the 5k is Saturday and the 50k is Sunday.  Woohoo!

Now that I have my sights set on a race that I can train for, here’s to digging the rest of the way out of the Hole.

In other news, it’s Super Bowl Sunday – who are you rooting for?  I knew you’d say the Broncos! – Go Broncos!

Also, what’s your go to beer, or wine, or spirit, for the game?  I’m going with Bells Hopslam.  It’s awesome.

 

 

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?

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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 …

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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?

Fueling and Hydration

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Fuel for the 2016 Yankee Springs Winter Challenge

My race fuel for the Yankee Springs Winter Challenge arrived.  As I pack it away in my race vest, prepping for the coming race, I’m thinking about hydration and race day fuel.

I’ve spent much time trying to figure out the best way for me to hydrate / fuel for my training and races – either by trying different things or reading about what works for others.

I’m a runner w/Crohn’s disease, so that affects what I put in my body pre-race, and during the run.  I typically go for things that are low in fiber / carbonation the day before, and during, my race.  Those two items don’t sit well with my Crohn’s.

I love beer, but it’s not what I choose to carbo-load with.  The carbonation in it is very uncomfortable for my Crohn’s.  I’m also a big fan of Clif bars, but they don’t go near me before a race.  I’ve tried it; it wasn’t fun.  After a race, sure, they’re both usually the first thing I consume.

I’m sure things vary from person to person, but I thought it’d be worth sharing where I’ve landed.  Perhaps it helps.  Or perhaps it at least gives you some things to try – even if you’re not a runner with Crohn’s (and I’m guessing most of you aren’t).

A couple of my baseline rules are:

  1. No beer / chicken wings / Chinese / ghost pepper sauce the night before any race, or a training run longer than 6 miles.
  2. Drink water.  All the time, regardless of whether I am running the next day.  Staying hydrated makes me generally feel good.  If I’m not enjoying a Michigan beer, or a stout cup of coffee, I pretty much only drink water.

I wear a UD SJ 2.0 vest to accommodate my fuel / hydration (amongst other things – we’ll get into that in another post).  I love this vest (you can see it in the picture below).  At this point, it’s pretty much like wearing a seatbelt – I wear it on every run.

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recent grocery run, featuring the Ultimate Direction SJ 2.0 vest

Training run: If I’m running less than 10 miles, I fill both bottles with water only.  I don’t need both bottles full, but I like the balance it provides having them equal weight.  My watch alerts me to drink every 10 minutes and I rotate between the bottles to evenly distribute the weight through the run.

If I’m running 10 miles, or more, I fill one, or two, bottles with two scoops of Tailwind – one caffeinated and one non-caffeinated.  Each bottle provides me with 200 calories and 16oz of hydration.  Since the calories and electrolytes are in the liquid, I don’t have to mess w/carrying gels.  Or stuffing messy gel packets in my pockets.

If it’s a really long training run, I’ll utilize the 70oz hydration pack that slides into the UD vest, and mix it at the same ratio of 200 calories per 16oz – half caffeinated and half non-caffeinated.

The combo of raspberry buzz / lemon Tailwind go together very well.

Marathon: Two 16oz bottles can’t get me through a marathon and a 70oz hydration pack isn’t very conducive to running fast.  After doing some research I found that some folks mix their tailwind to a higher concentration.  I tried this during my last marathon and it worked fabulously.

In each 16oz bottle I mixed 4 scoops (4o0 calories – again half and half) so I was carrying 32oz with me and 800 calories.  At the end of each mile I took a small squirt of liquid – alternating between bottles, again to keep them balanced.  This made the bottles last through the marathon.

I tested this ratio prior to the race to ensure my body was good with it.

However, since I wanted to drink more than 32oz over the course of the 4 hours+, I supplemented the hydration side with water at each aid station.

The bottles in the vest took care of the calories / electrolytes and the extra water from the aid stations kept me hydrated.

I ran a PR at that marathon – 3:56:58.

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ultra setup – a stick of Tailwind in each

50k: I move slow enough during an ultra to carry the hydration pack, but I don’t – that’d be dumb with the aid that’s available.  Pre-race, I fill both of my 16oz bottles with 2 scoops of Tailwind (200 calories each bottle).  This time I mix one bottle caffeinated and one bottle non-caffeinated.  I start the race with these in my vest along with a number of Tailwind sticks.

Rather than alternate drinks in each bottle during the race, I typically down an entire bottle first.  This makes refilling one bottle, vs. two partial bottles, much easier at the aid stations.  That convenience is worth more to me than the minor imbalance the bottles create.  At aid stations, I fill the empty bottle and fill with one of the aforementioned Tailwind sticks, shake, and go.  It works out pretty quickly and stuffing the empty Tailwind packet in my pocket isn’t as gooey and sticky as an empty gel.

The Tailwind provides me the calories / electrolytes / hydration I need through the race.  So far, I haven’t had to eat anything else during an ultra.  But – I haven’t run anything farther than 34 miles yet either.

Pre-race: There are times in life I still feel like a big kid.  My pre-race dinner is one of these occasions.  I eat Kraft mac and cheese w/hotdogs.  Seriously.  It’s a bland meal, provides some extra carbs, and is comforting as it reminds me of childhood.  The salt in the hotdogs make me drink a little extra the night before the race.  It’s wondrous.

The morning of the race I get up and eat a peanut butter and jelly a couple of hours before I run.  Again, simple and bland – easy on the ole’ gut, but it helps me start the race without feeling hungry.

After that it’s me and Tailwind until the finish.  So far that’s worked out well.  We’ll get a chance to test it again in a few short days.

How do you fuel / hydrate for races?

Do you choose different methods for different distances?

What’s your pre-race meal of choice?