Tag Archives: 50 miler

Hitting the ‘Reset’ Button

Deep breath … I’m hitting the ‘reset’ button.  There, I said it. It’s official.  For as great as my 2015 was, from a running perspective, 2016 has been just as far in the opposite direction.  For those who’ve followed my blog, I’m sure this isn’t a surprise.

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My miles are lacking.  My motivation is lacking.  I haven’t been blogging as much as I’ve liked and basically been absent on twitter.  Why?  It’s not fun to talk about running when running isn’t fun.  I came to that realization this morning – prepping for the Marquette Trail 50 felt like a chore.  And I have enough of those already.

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running when it’s fun!

Running should be fun.  I was reminded of this yesterday while listening to a podcast, hoping to get the inspiration to knock out my scheduled 22 mile trail run this morning, before my wife left at 10am.  This required me to get up in the 3s.  I don’t like getting up in the 3s.

Anyway, back to the podcast – it was great.  Diz Runs.  Check it out.  In this episode he was interviewing Sally McRae.  She’s one of the reasons I got into running ultras.  The video ‘Western Time‘ by Billy Yang sucked me right into the idea of trail running and ultras.  I had a lot of fun with it the last year and a half.

But recently things have changed.  I got off to a bad start this year and have felt like I’ve been playing catch up ever since.  Playing catch up is hard enough.  Playing catch up while training for a 50 mile race is pretty much insane.  And probably stupid.  Which is why my knee hasn’t been feeling good.

During the podcast Sally made a comment about one of the runners she was training – very nervous about running a particular distance.  Sally asked her if she’d feel better if she ran the shorter distance and the runner answered yes, and that’s what Sally recommended – because running should be enjoyed!

Flash forward to 3:15 this morning.  I woke easily, walked downstairs, began working through my stretching and that’s when I came to the realization (while thinking about yesterday’s podcast) this wasn’t fun.  And remembered, yes, running should be fun.

So … what do I mean by ‘pushing the reset button?’

  1. I’m not running Marquette.
  2. I’m going to find joy in running again w/o the pressure of training for a race.  Whatever distance / terrain sounds fun, that’s what I’ll run.
  3. I will get back to running consistent 20-25 mile weeks before I pick another race to train for.  I do have a couple in the back of my mind (Detroit Marathon / Stone Steps 50k in Cincy in the fall), but I’m no where ready to commit.
  4. I need to spend some time working on my core strength.  And my knee.
  5. I need to drop about 6-8lbs.

Dude – you’re not running Western States!

Yes I am.

Remember, this blog is my journey to Western.  Good.  Bad.  Whatever.

Another thing I learned from the podcast yesterday – you can have a bad year.  Sally had one that she basically had to scrap due to injury.  Then she came back, built a strong base, and came back and crushed it.

I’ll be back to crush it.

Tentatively – I think I can push my first 50 miler to Indiana in April.  And then Mohican in June.  But we’ll see how the rest of 2016 goes.

For now – I’m going to grab a beer and enjoy this beautiful May day!

Have you ever hit the reset button?  How’d it go?

What’s your favorite beer?

Cheers!

 

 

 

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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.

 

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?

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.

Week of 10/26/15 in review …

Miles this week: 18

2015 YTD: 1085


Definitely not my favorite week of running.  This was supposed to be the week that I begin rolling with my training for the Yankee Springs Winter Challenge 50k.  Instead – I was sucked further into ‘The Hole.

Monday started off well enough with an easy 6 miler to test the ankle.  The early morning brought lots of stars and a beautiful fat moon setting into the early morning sky.  My ankle held up ok, but was still a little sore through the day.

Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Friday was disappointment after disappointment after disappointment after disappointment.

I couldn’t get out of bed to run.  For anything.  I’d been fully sucked into the hole.

With some prodding (begging?) from my wife I made it out for a 6 miler on Saturday, and it was beautiful.  Cold, pouring rain, beautiful.  One positive out of the run, I ran a mile in under 8 minutes.  I haven’t done that in a while, but 45 degrees and pouring rain can make one move a little faster.

One of my employees asked about my weekend today – I told him I ran.  It rained.  And I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts.  So you went right home then?  Nope.  I ran faster.  And it was awesome.  You’re crazy.  Aren’t we all?

Sunday was about as beautiful as a day comes in Michigan – Perfect cloudless sky and about 60 degrees.  I took the family over to Kellogg Forest for a hikeImage 11-2-15 at 9.54 PM

Family Hike – Kellogg Forest

The girls had a great time learning about moss and ferns and petting a little garter snake we found.  My oldest daughter taught us what a beech leaf was.  She’s 4.  My wife and I are a wee bit older.  I Googled it – and she’s right – my wife told me as we rounded another corner.  At least we’re getting our money’s worth at the Nature Center preschool??

After the run, the girls went home for a nap and I was back at Kellogg Forest to run trails.

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Sometimes Ma’ Nature stops me in my tracks and all I can say is ‘Whoa!’

The 6 miler took me past some of my favorite areas of Kellogg Forest – including the geocache where I proposed to my wife.  With a ring pop.  Time has changed things.  It was a bit overgrown now, and the pine trees that were about knee-high at the time towered over me.

I also spent some time running along the North Country Trail – the same trail I’m planning to run my first 50 mile race on in August – albeit a section much further North.  It’s cool that it’s so close to home.

That was the week – in a nutshell.

On side note, October was an odd running month.  It was by far my lowest total mileage for the year (barely over 70), but yet I crushed the Grand Rapids Marathon – so I feel great about that.

(By the way – I hear the coyotes raising hell outside at the moment.  I love hearing that.)

Let’s see what November brings.  For now, I’m off to see if I can find the Northern Lights.  They’re supposed to be visible here tonight.

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.