Tag Archives: beer

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.

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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.

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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?

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Week of 11/22/15 – 900 miles on the family truckster

Miles this week: 24

2015 YTD: 1206


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 …

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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.

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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.

How was your Thanksgiving?

What are your favorite wings?

Week of 11/9/15 in review …

Miles this week: 33

2015 YTD: 1044


I’m back.

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?

SLOW!!!

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.

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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.

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Venus as seen while running w/o Headlamp

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Good morning!

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!

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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?

Why do so many runners blog?

One of the first things I noticed after diving into the social media world of running … lots of runners blog.  Like ALOT (excuse the poor grammar there).

It made me think – why do so many runners blog?  Runners do like to talk about how much they run … at least that’s what people like to say …

After thinking about why I blog, I’m guessing most folks are blogging for the same reasons I am.

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Working on the blog – with a Michigan Beer of Course!  Dark Horse – Crooked Tree, one of my absolute favorites!
  1. It allows me to connect with other runners.  My wife doesn’t run.  My buddies (at least my local buddies) don’t run.  Blogging gives me a way to connect with other runners with similar goals.  Or even other runners who have totally different goals, but still share the same passion for the outdoors.
  2. It allows me to share my running experiences with those who are interested.  My friends can come and read about my adventures, at their own leisure, without me ramming it down their throats at the office or through Facebook.
  3. It’s a record of past adventures.  These words and pictures will let me look back someday to read about race XYZ, see what I wore to handle some particularly bad weather, or even relive a nice hike with my family.
  4. In some odd way, it seems like a way to hold myself accountable.  If others are reading about my journey, how could I let them down!?  Yes, I’m my own motivation, but a little outside motivation never hurts, right?

Whatever the reason, I’m thanking that other runners are sharing their adventures.  I enjoy reading race reports from all distances – half marathons all the way up to 100 milers, product reviews and the simple details of a great training run.  It also opens my eyes to some pretty cool races that I never knew about!

Some of my favorites blogs are:

  1. The 100 Mile Mark
  2. Fat Girl Running
  3. Trail Running Faith
  4. Bradley on the Run
  5. Vanloo Running

Why do you blog?

Just about perfect – Grand Rapids Marathon Race Report

My third marathon began Saturday night without much in the way of expectations, other than to have fun – but I try to do that with most things since that’s one of my five rules for life (#3 relax and have fun).  My number one fan helped me prep by mixing up my Tailwind and slopping some peanut butter on slice of bread for my pre-race PBJ.

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Early to bed, and early to rise.  My alarm woke me at 4am and I went through my normal pre-run routine of pulse / weight / water, slipped in to make sure the girls were tucked in and covered up, then shuffled downstairs to gear up for the chilly morning ahead.

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I enjoyed my pre-race PBJ, did some light stretching, double checked my list and then it was North to Grand Rapids.  What a beautiful starry night morning (it just felt like night).  It was cold though – just 28 degrees.  Don’t get me wrong, I live in Michigan and I’ve run for hours in below zero degrees, but I still have my summer blood and 28 seemed cold over the weekend.

45 minutes later, I pulled into the parking lot at the YMCA and walked in to pick up my packet and bib.  1441 – I liked that number.

I spent the next hour, or so, sitting in the jeep – heat blowing, listening to my ‘pre-chill’ mix on Spotify, visualizing the race and making sure I had everything in order.  After that, I did some light jogging and made my way over to the starting chute to stretch.  Here was my one and only big decision – do I run in my jacket?  I’d already shed the pants and was running in shorts.  I decided to keep the jacket on right up until the start and then stuff it in my UD vest.

I positioned myself behind the 3:56 pace group and waited for the race to start.  I was strangely calm – no nerves.  Just calm and ready to run.

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I rolled across the starting line about a minute, or minute and a half, after the ‘gun’ and about 200 yards behind the pace group.

Mile 1 -> Slowest of the race (sweet – I didn’t go out too fast!).  I actually fell further back from the pace group.  Things were crowded and I was enjoying a slow warm up.  I recall a guy taking a selfie of himself about 1/2 mile in and a lady asked me what our split was when we hit mile 1.

Mile 2 -> I sped up during the second mile, but was still pretty far back from my pace group.  I was ok with this – plenty of race to go and I felt good.  Toward the end of the second mile I noticed a couple gals behind me discussing a new house.  After a couple minutes I realized – hey, I know her!

Mile 3 -> Faster yet.  Erin catches me and says ‘hello’ and I respond ‘hey, I thought I heard you back there!’  We run for a bit and I tell her I’m going to drop back.  I’m running quicker than I should be.  She says it looks like I’m walking.  I guess that’s a compliment?  In any case, I feel good, but I didn’t want to run out of steam early.

Miles 4 and 5 -> So much for slowing down.  These are my fastest (along with mile 10) of the race.  I’m feeling good so I figure I might as well try to close the gap with the pace group.  These are the last two miles as we leave downtown toward the Butterworth Park.

Miles 6 thru 9 -> Butterworth Park is crowded.  The trail doesn’t seem quite wide enough for all the runners.  I think the 3:56 group is a popular one and that might’ve been part of the reason for the congestion.  I’m still closing on them.  Somewhere in this stretch I see the guy leading the half coming BLAZING back in the other direction.  If I thought it was crowded going with the flow, he must’ve been pissed trying to win the race in the opposite direction.  I saw Erin again toward the end of this stretch as she broke off to complete the half.  She wished me well and she was running strong.  I knew she’d have a great finish.

Mile 10 -> I finally settle in with the 3:56 pace group with a quick run downhill about half way through this mile.  I’m feeling very good at this point.

Miles 11 and 12 -> Run through Millennium Park with the 3:56 group and again the trails are tight, but I managed.  Once of our pacers had a couple extra waters from an aid station and offered them to the group.  I thought that was nice.  But not as nice as it would’ve been if he had a Two Hearted Ale.  He didn’t.

Mile 13 -> I left the pace group.  Why the hell not!?  I was feeling great!  This will come back to bite me.  It eventually did.

Miles 14 and 15 -> I continued rolling and the miles were still slipping away almost effortlessly.  As this point I started actually believing I could break 4hrs today.  I was well ahead of that pace and still felt very good.

Miles 16 through 18 -> So the feeling good didn’t last long.  Mile 16 started a 7 mile out and back section of the race.  I wouldn’t say I ever truly felt bad, or down, during the race, but this out and back section was definitely the worst part.  It was relatively flat, but we were running on the right side of the road.  I’m normally used to running on the left (against traffic).  The road was crowned opposite to what I’m used to running and it was hurting my left leg.  I did pass one of my work mates heading in the opposite direction.  He was smoking right along.  A while later I passed a few more of my work mates participating in the My Team Triumph charity run.  That helped as well.  I stayed ahead of the 3:56 group during this stretch, but I could hear them closing.

Miles 19 thru 21 -> Trying as hard as I could (keep running, you’re doing great, don’t slow down!) to keep ahead of the pace group, again along this long stretch of out and back with my left leg hurting.  They eventually caught me at mile 21.  We rolled through the aid station together and I declined the pickle juice.  I tried to hang with them, but I fell back.

Mile 22 -> I start trying to do math, yes math!, in my head to see how fast I need to run these last few miles to break 4 hours.  I feel like I’m running out of steam big time.  Other than the first mile, which was intentionally slow, this was my slowest mile.  I feel like I’m crawling along, and the pace group leaving me didn’t help.  It was a 9:17.  Yeah, slow, but in the scheme of things, not too shabby still.

Miles 23 thru 25 -> I’m headed back downtown and through Butterworth Park again.  Plenty of room on the trail this time!  I remember coming up a hill, out of the woods, and into the park.  The sun was shining, I’d just taken a swig of Tailwind and felt a boost and I was rolling! In reality these miles weren’t much faster than the dreaded mile 22, but hey, I felt good now!  

Mile 26 -> Will this ever end!? Ok, it wasn’t really that bad, but that quickly I was back on the other end of the spectrum.  I’d figured out I needed to the last 1.2 in about 14 minutes.  No big deal, but it felt like I was running and going no where.  I kept thinking – this is awesome, I’m going to break four hours.  Followed by – I hope I don’t step in a hole or pull a muscle.  Followed by – am I there yet!?

The final .2 was awesome – folks lining both sides of the streets cheering.  I was passing people left and right.  I saw the finish line and the time started with a ‘3.’  I was home free at this point and rolling fast!

I pumped my fist as I crossed the finish line and yelled.  One of the finish line volunteers grabbed me.  I thought he wanted a hug.  He thought I was about to pass out.  He walked me over to my finishers medal and I met one of the guys from work.  He helped me through the food chute to the worst part of the day …

I grabbed a cup of lemon lime gatorade and chugged it.  Except … it wasn’t lemon lime gatorade.  It was pickle juice.  WTF!!!!?

If I had food in my stomach to vomit, I would’ve vomited.

The grossness didn’t last long though because I was juiced -> 3:56:47!!!  It was a new PR by about 21 minutes.

We headed over to the beer tent and enjoyed a free New Holland IPA and chatted about our days under a beautiful sunny blue sky!

If I had it all to do over again, would I have changed anything?  Perhaps stayed with the pace group a bit longer.  Other than that, it was pretty much about as good as it gets for me with a run!

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Nutrition: 1 PBJ 3hrs prior to the race.  500-600 calories of Tailwind that I sipped each mile.  I supplemented my fluid intake w/water at every aid station.

Pre race meal: Shrimp / Pasta

Splits:

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Week in review – 10/12/15

Miles this week: 31.6

2015 YTD: 1064


I started the week with an easy 5 miler through the breezy drizzle.  As long it it’s not a hard rain, or 34 degrees, I typically enjoy running in the rain.  There’s something refreshing about the cool rain drops hitting my face that I enjoy – like a baptism by nature.  I also love how the rain / puddles play with lights in the dark morning.

That 5 miler would be my last run prior to the Grand Rapids Marathon.  I’d hoped to sneak another one in mid-week, but that didn’t happen.

Friday was a rare ‘off night,’ if you will.  Typically I’m up early to run on Saturdays.  That’s when I get my long runs in – before the ladies awake for the day.  My wife tolerates, for the most part, my running – as long as I’m home to hang with the girls in the morning so she can sleep in.  And let’s face it, that’s not really a chore.  Weekend breakfast with my girls is my favorite time of the week.  Especially when it involves strong coffee and waffles.

Anyway, since I was running the Grand Rapids Marathon on Sunday, Friday was an off night. I took my oldest to the local hockey game.  I spent the night carb loading, for my Sunday marathon, with Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and cotton candy.  The K wings lost, but we had a great time!IMG_3219 (1)

And then Sunday was my third Marathon.  Great week!

On Deck for Marathon #3

In about 27 hours, I’ll toe the line for my third marathon.  I’m not quite sure what to think.  I should be nervous, but I’m not.  Excited – yes, but not nervous.  I have no idea what to expect out of this race.

My original goal was to build on the fitness of my 50k in August.  I’d add some speed work, keep hammering away at the long runs and go out and break 4 hours for the first time.

Instead I fought through a couple of running funks, where I couldn’t get out the door to run in the morning.  They each went on for days.  I ran a couple of 20 milers and lots of 10 milers, but nothing really in between.  I have no idea what to expect on Sunday.  At least from a time standpoint – I don’t know what to expect.

I do expect to have fun.  In the end, it’s about enjoying the experience.  I remember back to my first marathon (Kalamazoo last year) – jogging ever so slowly to the finish line.  I’d injured myself about a month and a half prior to the race and basically hadn’t run since then.  Less than a mile into the race my knee was in pain, but I pushed on.  I must’ve been favoring that leg because about 16 miles in the other, non-injured, leg seized up.  The muscles in the calf, hamstring and quad all locked up.  They were done.  But I wasn’t.  I stretched it out awhile and walked for a bit and alternated between a job and walk for the next 10 miles.  It seemed agonizingly slow at times, but I wasn’t going to give up.

Apparently I looked so bad that when I passed my dad and brother, who were out there to cheer me on, they were trying to decide between them who’d tell me that I should pack it and call it a day.  Fortunately neither one of them suggested it.

When I crossed the finish line, I remember my eyes tearing up just a bit.  I’d made it.  I didn’t care what my time was, only happy that I’d finished.  It was an epic experience, and before they put the finishers medal around my neck, I knew I was going to do another one.

Even though I was in pain for the entire race, and had to walk more than I ever thought I’d have to walk, I truly enjoyed the entire experience.

I’m still going to chase that 4hr mark on Sunday, but even if I miss it, I expect to have fun, enjoy the race and the beauty that is Michigan in the fall.

Oh, and the beer tent – that should be fun too!