Tag Archives: being a dad

Weekend to-do list

I’ve been getting pummeled with work lately and it’s ratcheted up even more these last two weeks as a major project closes out and a member of my team gave notice of his resignation.

Unfortunately this has been causing me to ignore the things that are important to me, specifically …

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Thank you to http://www.sarahrypmaphotography.com for the awesome family photo – she. does. awesome. work!

So as I sit here, working late (well waiting on some jobs to finish) – again – I mentally put together a ‘to-do’ list for the weekend.

It looks something like …

  1. run.
  2. SWMLC story book hike with my girls.
  3. date night with my wife.
  4. run.
  5. breakfast date with my girls.
  6. drink beer.
  7. watch nascar.
  8. sleep

That is of course assuming we get through this current issue w/work.  Don’t get me wrong, I shouldn’t complain, I enjoy my work, but at times it can be a little much.  This is one of those times.

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In other news, as I logged into Google Photos to pull down the family picture, it reminded me of the dangers of winter running.  This is from 2 years ago.  I remember the run fondly, running downhill, on ice (before I had yaktrax) slipped, ended up on my ass, and my headlamp slammed into the bridge of my nose.

I didn’t realize I was cut until I returned home.

Y’all have a great weekend!  What’s on your to-do list?

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.

 

 

Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

It’s January.  Some are making new year’s resolutions and some have already broken them.  Some are finding success with their resolutions and some didn’t make any.

Me?

I’m not really a New Year’s resolution kinda guy.  Sure, it’s a point in time to ‘reset’ the clock so to speak, and set new goals – I have a few goals, perhaps we’ll get to those later, but I don’t see why a specific date in the year should signal a time to decide to do something differently.  If y’all want to do something differently – do it, whether it’s Jan 1st or April 3rd.

Anyway …

A while ago I was struggling w/the balance of it all – family / work / running / whatever else there is to balance.  Some days I’d sleep late and struggle to run and be frustrated if I missed a run.  Some nights I was a bit short with the girls so I could get up early and run.  Sometimes a work commitment made home life and/or running difficult.

As a result, as I was trying to fall asleep one night I asked myself  -> Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

To share breakfast with my girls?  Sure.

To go to work?  Sure.

To run?  Sure.

Coffee?  Ummm, obviously.

No, really – why?  What drives these actions and which one should take priority?

I gave it some thought, and I came up with the 5 reasons I get out of bed in the morning.  These reasons have become the five ‘rules,’ so to speak, that I live my life by.  Not only are they my rules, but they’re the priority of how I mange my time / life.

Why do I share these?  No, I’m not a shrink … 

Running, especially running long distances, is hard to balance in one’s life – especially with a young family at home.  It’s incredibly selfish.  Perhaps you’ve experienced these same thoughts / struggles and a similar exercise might benefit you.

So here they are – the 5 rules TJ lives life by.

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Thanks to Sarah Rypma Photography for the sweet family picture! http://www.sarahrypmaphotography.com

  1. Do the best I can for my family each day.  I adore my girls.  My wife /  daughters mean the world to me and I want to do the best I can for them every single day.  ‘Family first’ has always been a mantra of mine, but I used to let things – like running – or work – get in the way of this.  I’d try to rush through the bedtime routine with my daughters so I could get to bed for an early run.  Or I’d ignore my wife in the evening as I stretched or slept or worked.  Does that mean I don’t ever work now because I want to spend time with my family?  No – it just means I make a more deliberate effort to do the best I can for them, and with them, when I get the opportunity.  No more rushing through bedtime routine, I cozy up with my wife on the couch more in the evenings.  I make a point to return from my weekend long runs early enough to be there when the kids are up so I can make them breakfast and let my wife enjoy sleeping in.
  2. Do the best I can for myself each day.  This really has two parts –  whatever I’m doing, I want to do it the best I can.  Be it work, or running, or playing a board game.  If I’m not doing my best, what’s the point?  Secondly, it means after doing the best I can do for my family, I’m doing stuff for me.  Perhaps it makes be a bit selfish, but hey – you only live once.
  3. Have fun / Relax.  I try my best to make things fun.  Life should be fun.  Life should be silly.  If there’s one thing I want my daughters to learn its that it’s ok to be silly and have fun.  But with that being said, I am also not a very patient dude, and I have a bit of a temper, so I remind myself to relax and enjoy the ride.
  4. Be good to people.  I think people deserve a fair shot.  They deserve the benefit of the doubt, in my opinion, to be listened to and respected, unless of course they do something to lose that respect.  This doesn’t mean I always have to be nice to people or even like everyone.  It just means I am fair and honest with them.
  5. Do cool shit.  Life is short and we only get one shot.  I want to squeeze as much out of it as possible – be it travel, camping, running, fishing, whatever – and share that with my family.

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Torres Del Paine National Park – Chile

There – you didn’t see running until rule #5! Gasp!

That doesn’t mean that running isn’t a priority.  Or that I don’t spend many, many, many hours running.  It just helps me remember that running isn’t the priority.

I try to remind myself of these rules each night as I lay in bed – thinking about how I did, or didn’t, live up to each of these for the day.  Yes, just because they’re my rules that doesn’t mean I always follow them perfectly.  I find this nightly exercise relaxing; it helps me sleep and it mentally sets the table for the next day.

So there you have it, in the absence of any live changing resolutions for 2016 – my 5 rules for life.

Do you have any life rules that you follow?

 

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?

Week of 11/29/15 – ‘Tis the season

Miles this week: 51

2015 YTD: 1257


‘Daddy, potty, potty, potty!’

Me: Can you hold it?  We’re not by the bathroom.

‘Daddy, potty!’

Me: Do you just have to pee?

‘Yeah!’

Yeah … so, the toddler that dropped a deuce between the Christmas trees, at the tree farm … she belongs to me.  Eh, what’s a little extra fertilizer?  ‘Tis the season!!

It’s a good life skill – likely to come in handy while backpacking.  Or canoe tripping.  Or ultrarunning.  Not sure it needs to be learned at two though …

Speaking of ultrarunning, I had a great week of training.  At 51 miles, this was the longest week of running I’ve had since the final ‘big’ week prior to the Kal-Haven trail run back in April.  My first two runs, both 10 milers on Tuesday / Thursday were pretty uneventful.  I’m still working through the HR training and hit both of these w/145BPM.  No stars though.  Just dark, foggy running.

On Saturday I planned on running with a guy I met up in Marquette at the 50k in August.  The local running club was starting near the golf course over near the house and planning to run around the lake – 11.5 miles.  They had water set out – pretty sweet deal.

I was nervous as hell.

I typically don’t run with folks.  I asked Dan what pace they’d be running and his response was 8:30s.  I told him I could hang onto that for a bit (I didn’t tell him I’ve been running 10:30s/10:40s for the last few weeks.  I had no idea if I could keep up, but I was damn sure gonna try.  And in addition to the extra speed, I needed to run 18 on Saturday.

I had trouble falling asleep because I was worried I couldn’t keep up.  In the morning I wanted to vomit because I wasn’t sure I could keep up.  I don’t remember being this nervous before a race!

I left early to run about 3.5 before meeting them at the golf course only to be asked ‘Are you running it twice?’ (I was wearing my UD vest).  Nah, I’m just out to run 18.

I shouldn’t have been nervous.  It was a great run.  I’m very good with running alone, but every once in awhile it’s nice to have a partner.  I ran pretty well – 8:30s the majority of the way.  This was my first time running around the lake counter-clockwise.  I feel like it was uphill the whole way.  I know that can’t be possible, but it sure felt like it.  I started to fade a bit at the end, but we still ended up averaging about 8:40 for the run.  Whew – I made it.

After we got back to the clubhouse, I ran 3 miles back home to total out my 18.  Very.  Slowly.  Hey, I was done with the fast stuff for the day!

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I wrapped up the week with a pretty uneventful 12 miler this morning, but I made it home before the girls / wife were up so that’s a win.  Still not much in the way of stars this morning.  The whole week was crappy for stargazing, but –  as I mentioned, a great week of training!

In other news, we did get our tree.  After the backcountry dump.  My youngest was enjoying it with me this morning.  Or she was enjoying the iPad.  It’s hard to tell.
IMG_3491.JPGEarlier in the week, my oldest had an ‘art show’ at school.  It was actually set up pretty cool.  She was less excited about the art, and more interested in showing us her classmates.  And showing her younger sister to her teacher.

Next week is my peak mileage before my next race in January.  I have 55 miles on the schedule and it’s gonna be tough getting it in.  We’re heading across the state, and back, on Saturday for my nephew’s birthday party.  After we do our neighborhood Christmas party Friday night.  Nothing about either of those items screams – Hey, run 20 miles Saturday  morning!!!

Do you have a tree yet?

How was your week of training?

 

Week of 11/16/15 in review …

Miles this week: 38

2015 YTD: 1082


The watch keeps creeping earlier in the morning.  That’s the story of the week from a running standpoint.  As the runs get longer, the watch rings earlier.  Such is the glamorous life of an ultrarunner.

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Good morning sunshine!  Err … good morning darkness.

I only logged 3 runs this week, but they were pretty good ones – 12 / 6 / 20 milers.  I don’t think I was out of bed, on a running day, any later than about 3:15 this week.

I’d originally planned on 4 runs, but I had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting for Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy.  They’re a great organization, protecting many, many acres of land here in Southwest Michigan.  My wife and I have supported them for many years.  Well, their annual meeting was at a bar this year.  And our friend now works for them.  So … I thought I’d attend (who doesn’t like free beer!??).

After a couple delicious Michigan beers, and some catered food, suddenly waking up at the crack of dawn well before the crack of dawn, seemed like a bad idea – so I bailed on one run and extended my run on Saturday morning to 20 miles.

My runs were ‘ok’ this week.  I’m still plugging away at the target HR runs (80% – 145/146 BPM).  So far I haven’t seen any improvement in the second week, but I’m committing to this for a couple months.  More to come on that once I’m finished …

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Saturday’s run was the first snow run of the year – yippeeeee!  The alarm rang at 2:30am and I ran 20 miles, alternating loops around my 4 mile blocks – to the North and to the South.  Not the most exciting course, but it was my first ‘cold’ run of the season and my first snow run.  I wanted to keep it close to the house in case I ran into issues.

One thing that still confuses me is why my pace has to slow to keep my HR in the correct spot, as the distance increases.  I thought perhaps I was hydrating poorly, so I focused on that Saturday, but it didn’t seem to make a lot of difference.

Any ideas??

I tried something new with my hydration on Saturday as well.  I wore my UD SJ vest under my shell.  The thought is the heat will prevent the bladder, tube, from freezing.  This run was barely below freezing so of course it worked great, but let’s see what happens when we hit the double digit negative temps of a Michigan winter.

Since we did get snow, we had to make a snowman.  My kids love snow.  I love snow.  It worked out great!

Daddy – what’s a pipe?

Eh, they’re cool – but people don’t really smoke them anymore.  Snowmen do though!

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Yes, that’s a pipe, don’t judge.

Currently I’m about 20 miles behind on my annual running goal.  However, if I continue to follow my plan between now and the Yankee Springs Challenge, I should end up on the good side of the goal.

My body’s feeling good and I’m ready to continue rocking this training schedule through Christmas.

How was your week of running?  See anything cool?

 

Derailed this morning …

This morning’s run was derailed by the 2yr old’s meltdown around 2:30am.  I can get up early for a run, but I need a pretty solid night’s sleep to make it happen.  With somewhere between 4-6 hours a night, I definitely go for quality vs. quantity.  When the quality isn’t there, neither is the run.

She’s in a phase now where she wants covered up, but can’t won’t do it herself.  Sure, I could go in a few times a night and cover her up again, but that somewhat perpetuates the issue.

We chose cry it out last night – which means it lasted awhile.

Ok – so this blog post was just derailed by the 4yr old falling out of bed.  What’s going on here??

These events remind me of one of the reasons I started this blog.  When I first started running farther and farther, I didn’t know how I’d make it work with young kids at home.  I looked for blogs of folks who were ultrarunners w/kids to get some perspective, but I couldn’t find any.  Thus, I wanted to share my experiences of ultrarunning, with young kids at home, in the instance someone else is curious about it in the future.

So how do ultrarunners make it work with young ones at home?  I don’t have the whole answer yet, but there are days we don’t – like today.  The majority of the time it’s all good though.  It just takes some patience and some quality sleep.

What I will say is my family comes first.  I’ll always do my best for them before I do my best for myself.  If that means covering them up or letting them learn to do it on their own, and it costs me a run, I’m happy to do that.

Here’s to trying again tomorrow!

 

 

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?

I don’t always want to run

Here’s a secret that many non-runners don’t understand.  We (At least) I don’t always want to run.  I mean, I do, but I don’t.

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Not all runs generate viral Instgram shots.  They’re not all 45 degrees and sunny.  They’re not all beautiful fall sunsets.

As I stand in the kitchen prepping my Tailwind for tomorrow’s 12 miler, I hear the wind howling outside.  It’s November.  In Michigan.  It’s not really that unusual for this time of year, but this howlin’ session comes with 50mph gusts.  And rain.  There will be no stars.  No Meteors.  Just me and the rain and the wind.

By the way – mixing the Lemon w/caffeinated Raspberry rocks!

Couple that with a rough week that’s prevented me from running the last couple of days (the details don’t really matter at the moment) and prepping some Water Street coffee and sleeping in sounds much better at the moment.

I try to get at least one of my back to back long runs in during the work week.  That gives me at least a Saturday night to enjoy with my wife, where I’m not crawling into bed at 9pm.  And it gives me a morning to sleep in and cozy with her and the kids in the morning, watching Monkey George Curious George.

But that means getting up at 3am tomorrow.  And with 3am will come the November howlin’ wind and some rain.  It will be a mental test in the morning.  Am I complaining?  Eh, not really.  It’s kinda why I love this shit.  But even though I love it, doesn’t mean I always want to do it until it’s done.

And that brings me to another secret – I’ve never woken up early for a run and then regretted it after the fact.

So while there are days I don’t always want to run, I know in the end it’s worth it and I’ll most likely enjoy it in the end.  That’s what I mean by I do, but I don’t.  At this very moment I don’t, but thinking about how I’ll feel post run, I do.

After all, it’s only early if you’re still in bed and ultras don’t run themselves.  Who else is in for an early run tomorrow?