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.
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.
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?’
I’m not running Marquette.
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.
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.
I need to spend some time working on my core strength. And my knee.
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!
I love Nascar. Are there other ultra runners out there who are Nascar fans? I’m guessing a few but not many. For whatever reason, they seem like different crowds. Perhaps not though – both groups like to drink beer.
My brother’s getting married next month and I took him to Martinsville for his bachelor party. The two of us, our dad, and nine other guys drove down to camp for the weekend and enjoy some racing – on the track.
I’ve been to quite a few races, but this was the first time attending a race since I’ve started running seriously. I thought it’d be a great opportunity to see the campground in the early morning hours vs. the typical late night. I expected to see the aftermath of the previous night’s mayhem and have folks give me a hard time about running vs. drinking but neither happened. Both of my runs were pretty quiet and uneventful. One guy asked me how many laps I was planning on running, but other than that folks just watched me roll by. Or run by. Or slog by – whatever you wanna call it.
Note: a bit of advice – if you do go to a Nascar race, and you camp, and you can rent a private port-a-john, do it. People are gross. Anyway …
I enjoyed the peace and quiet for a bit both mornings. Everything at a Nascar race is LOUD. The race is obviously loud, but so is the camping – people blaring music and the generators running. I am not a fan of the generators. So taking time both mornings to run was awesome.
The whole weekend was a good one – we had fun, the race was great (although my driver didn’t end up doing so hot), we had some good food (my first Martinsville hotdog – I ate 7 over the weekend), played some yard games and enjoyed a few beers.
Now that I’m back from the race, it’s time to get back into the swing of things. Training for the Marquette Trail 50 starts tomorrow. Goodnight!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Why not start 2016 with a bang? While most were still hung over from New Year’s (when I went to bed at 11:57pm – just because I couldn’t care less about the ball drop), I ran 30 miles. Me and almost 340 other runners met in the early morning cold, at Yankee Springs Recreation Area, on the second to run between 10k – 50miles.
I’ve hiked the YSRA many times (I even saw the elusive eastern massasauga rattlesnake there once – Michigan’s only venomous snake), but I’ve never run there. When I hiked there, it’s always been the same 4 mile loop so I didn’t really know what to expect for this two-lap race.
My daughters decorating the most awesome drop bag.
After my typical pre-race meal of PB&J, I headed North and arrived at Yankee Springs, under the cover of darkness, about 7am – an hour or so before the race. A short walk took me over the lodge where I picked up my number, race gloves and a pretty sweet long sleeve tshirt.
After a quick pit-stop at the port o Jonathans, it was back to the car to hang out and stay warm until time to race. I double checked my UD SJ vest, pinned my number to my pants, and strapped on my Yaktrax. Thank goodness I had them along. The ground was covered under a layer of ice from a recent ice storm. They proved very beneficial.
Before the start of the 2016 Yankee Springs Winter Challenge
About 5 minutes prior to the race, I walked across the parking lot, dropped my drop bag, took a quick pre-race picture and took my place at the start line. I find the start of ultras to be very chill and I love that. No Metallica. No pyrotechnics. No jumping around. Just a ‘hello’ from the RD, a quick countdown from 10, and we’re off.
I started out the first lap at a pace that felt very slow. As I’d been running at a low HR for a couple of months, I decided to try to keep it down through the first of two loops. I wasn’t shooting for zone 3 like my training runs, but definitely trying to keep things in zone 4 – as opposed to my first 50k where I jacked myself into zone 5 4 miles into the race and subsequently blew up.
A couple miles in I caught a gal and just kinda hung behind her for a bit. She was running pretty much the exact pace I wanted to run. I didn’t want to pass and force myself to run any faster trying to keep from slowing her down, but I think she didn’t really love having me hanging so close behind either – she felt like she was holding me up. We chatted a bit about running and family and then about 6 miles in I stopped to remove my jacket and let her roll on. My jacket – the UD Ultra Jacket, is sweet. After a few more runs in that, I’ll have a review on here.
At this point I was all alone, where I stayed for the majority of the first lap.
I came up a hill about 8 miles into the race and saw a guy standing with cooler and a radio in the tree behind him …
But … I figured, what the hell? It was only about 3 or 4 ounces, what could it hurt? The first lap – nothing, all was good. I did pass on the chicken though.
Shortly after that, I rolled into my first aid station (third on the course). I had a really odd experience. I could smell the campfire on the way up the hill and shouted something about it smelling wonderful. I walked up and thanked the folks for being there and they all totally ignored me. No one said a word. I don’t know if it’s cause I had my GoPro on, and it freaked them out, or what. One dude was cutting pickles. Another was telling him not to slice his thumb off. And 3 or 4 people were sitting around the campfire ignoring me.
Oh well. I thanked them nonetheless and rolled on – right into the toughest part of the course. Terrain-wise, it was cool – hilly and challenging, but it really slowed me down. I walked most of the up hills and tried to roll through the icy downhills as best as I could. It was in this section that I started to see the gal I ran with earlier in the race.
I pushed on through this section, still trying to keep my HR under control and came out of this to the last aid station. The gal I was chasing chose to skip it, but I stopped to refill my bottle.
They were stoked about my camera.
Hey, are we on camera!?
Me: Do you mind?
Me: Cool, I don’t think the last group appreciated it.
I thought I turned it on, but apparently all I got was this picture. Notice the dude on the right – I thought he was wearing a baby out in the cold. No – it was a dog.
This stop rejuvenated me and I begin running pretty well after this. It was also about this time that I decided to shit-can the heart rate running. I was going to push it into, and through, the second lap.
I caught the gal I’d run with earlier and wished her well. This was her first ultra and she was going to stop for some traction between laps and I rolled into lap 2 feeling very good.
I stopped to take a picture of lap 2, a couple miles in, and that killed my phone. It froze up. Oh well, onwards!
I felt really good the first half of lap 2 and passed quite a few people. Whatever quite a few people is in an ultra, in the winter. Probably more than 5, but less than 10. Not bad in a race of 64 runners though.
At one point I remember seeing an Oreo on the ground.
Damn that looks good! I thought.
Fortunately for me, a couple miles further and I happened on an aid station – and they had Oreos! I choked one down (it seemed hard to eat) and it tasted delicious.
I was still feeling good as I ran into the PBR guy again. I had no intention of stopping – I was running well. But he asked again. And … that’s all it took for me to stop. Now he had a group with him. I chatted a couple minutes and one of the guys I’d passed snuck by.
Then … I ran out of gas. I don’t think it was the PBR, but I think it was just stopping again so soon when I felt like I was running well. I never really got back into the groove.
I skipped the oddball aid station from lap 1 and powered forward.
With about 5 miles to go I passed a guy sitting down. I chatted a minute, he wasn’t feeling well, but he started moving so I moved along.
I continued to slow down and finally Alex (the guy who was sitting earlier) caught me. He wasn’t feeling well and I was gassed so we kept each other company for the last 4 miles in. Alex – if you’re reading this, nice to meet you!
Post race there was chili and beer – how can you go wrong!? Well, you can go wrong by leaving your ID in the car and being too lazy to go get it. So for me, it was just chili.
In the end, even though I believe it is hard to compare ultras because of the varied terrain, it was a 50k PR for me by a long shot. So I guess I’ll take that.
This wasn’t an A race for me, but rather something to keep me training through the fall / early winter. I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to folks!
Aside from my new UD jacket, I received a Patagonia Air Hoody for Christmas. I know you’re not supposed to wear something new in a race, but I did. And it was awesome. I love how the hood keeps the neck warm and when up can be pulled up over the face. I’d highly recommend it.
As I mentioned earlier, I was wearing my GoPro. That was a first for me and here’s a short video compilation from the race …
If you want to see my Strava data, you can find it here. Otherwise, here are the just the splits:
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:
No beer / chicken wings / Chinese / ghost pepper sauce the night before any race, or a training run longer than 6 miles.
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.
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.
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?
A few minutes before I left the office yesterday one of my coworkers stopped by to wish me a Merry Christmas and chat about the family. Since he’s a runner too, the conversation always eventually ends up with us chatting about recent or upcoming races. He has a long training run this weekend as he then begins to taper for not one – but two marathons next month. Whoa.
Have fun and enjoy them!
A lot of people do, but I don’t generally tell folks ‘good luck!’ for a race. Most of us aren’t elite athletes that need a little extra luck to earn a place on the podium anyway. And really – what is luck? Per my friend Google, luck is …
success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.
As runners, we’re involved in many actions for months leading up to a race – obviously the running, but there’s also the stretching, foam rolling, eating well, proper rest and mental preparation.
Thus, I personally don’t believe in ‘luck’ for a race.
I view it, as I do with all of my races, as the reward for all of my aforementioned actions that lead up to it. It’s the reward for the early mornings, running through the rain, missed drinks with friends on Friday nights, good runs and bad. I know I have put in the time training and preparing, I trust that training, and now it’s time to enjoy!
For me especially, being that I’m a #darkskyrunner, races are even more special. For one, they’re during the day (or at least most of the race is during the day). Running through the daylight and seeing the scenery of ultras is awesome and one of the many reasons I run them. I also run alone during almost all of my training, so being around other people during a race brings an exciting vibe that I don’t normally get. It’s fun to meet new people and share stories (and a beer) with them.
Who needs luck? Just go out and enjoy the race. Have fun. You earned it!
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.
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.
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?
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 …
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Venus as seen while running w/o Headlamp
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!
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?