Tag Archives: family

Earth Day 5k / Raccoon Run

For the past few years, the Kalamazoo Nature Center has done a 5k race for Earth Day.  The proceeds from the race then go to the Nature’s Way preschool associated with the Nature Center.

Since my daughter attends the preschool, I thought it’d be nice to help with the race this year – and well, I enjoy being outside.  In addition to the 5k, there’s a Raccoon Run for the kids – 1k run/walk.  My daughters had never done a fun run before and I was excited for it!

After getting up early and running 15 miles, we loaded up in the family truckster and headed over to the Nature Center for some fun.  My 4yr old was super excited when we got there, running around like crazy, but wasn’t really into wearing the bib.  The 2yr old wasn’t really into it at all.

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The excitement ended when we saw a person dancing in a gazelle costume.  For some reason it freaked out my kids – even though it was one of my daughter’s teachers inside.  They didn’t want to start because the gazelle was at the starting line.

Once I finally convinced them to walk on the other side of me from the gazelle, they did start.  But because the oldest was scared, she just wanted to walk super close to my side and not let go.  I did tell her the gazelle was chasing us at one point – that made her run, and fast, until she figured out I was teasing her.

We had fun though.  I enjoy spending time outside with my girls regardless the activity.

After Raccoon Running walking, the girls headed home and I went to help with the 5k.  I was assisting w/finish line duties.  It was easy, I helped pack up the start flag, unpack the finish flag, and then stood on the hill about .25mi from the finish directing the runners back to the start line – and cheering.  Loudly.

I kept telling them runners they were almost there, just around the corner!  Well, once I walked back to the start line, I realized I was lying to them.  It was much farther, and much more up hill, than I told them.  Oh well.  That’s what makes it fun 🙂

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.

 

Running and a different kinda race …

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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.

 

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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.

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#brothers

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!

Do you like Nascar?

Ever been to a race?

 

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?

Excited for Indiana

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from the Indiana Trail 100 website – http://www.indianatrail100.com

I’m excited!

When I originally started this blog, I wanted to target the Mohican 100 as my first 100 mile run in mid-June 2017.  However after giving this some thought recently, I decided to instead focus on the Indiana Trail 100.  And that has me excited.

Seriously – I’m excited about Indiana! Yeah, I didn’t think I’d ever utter those words …

Why the change?

I want to push this Western States goal.  Yes, I want to run a couple of 50 milers before moving up to a 100, but I wanted to run a 100 mile race sooner vs. later.  Thus, I started poking around at the WSER qualifying list to see which races were early in the year.  And I found that the Indiana Trail 100 was in April – and a qualifier.

I see a few benefits to this …

  1. This ideally sets up up to run a couple of 100 milers next year – Indiana and possibly Hallucination.
  2. The Indiana Trail 100 is closer to home, making the weekend ideally less impactful to my family.
  3. The course appears to be less technical than Mohican.  Ideally good for a first 100 miler.

The downside though …

  1. The course appears to be less technical than Mohican.  The Mohican course looks sweet, but I’ll pass on that if it allows me the potential to get in a couple 100s next year.

I would still love to run Mohican.  Perhaps in 2018?  I know the chances are very slim that my name will be drawn for Western after only one qualifying race.  Thus, there will likely be other years I’ll need to qualify.

What race are you most excited for in your future?

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!

Ultrarunning: not always run through the woods drinking PBR

It’s been a tough few weeks – from a running perspective.  Yes, the year started off with a bang when I ran the Yankee Springs Winter Challenge.  From there, my running went downhill.

And not in a good, I just crested a hill and I’m ready to let gravity help me cruise sorta way.

I’ve been challenged from work on a couple of different weeks – the hours have been creeping up as we near the finish line of a major project.

My wife has work travels coming this week which will interrupt my running (kiddos can’t stay home alone while I run in the morning and it’s the time of year the double stroller is firmly ensconced in the garage, behind all the deck furniture.

Work will continue to hit me with more and more hours through the month of February.

The April race I picked, a reprise of my first Ultra (Kal-Haven Trail Race), has been trumped by work and I had to bail on it.

In short, I’ve been generally bummed out and unmotivated from a running perspective.

Dude – don’t be such a downer!

Why do I share this?  At first I didn’t think I would.  It’s not an exciting / motivating post.  But – Ultrarunning is hard.  And I thought it was worth sharing that aspect of the sport.  Too often you see only the ‘awesomeness’ of the sport.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of awesomeness, but my goal with this blog is to share the experience – the whole experience – of training / working toward my goal of running Western States.  That includes the good and the bad.  It’s easy to tell you how awesome it is to run through the woods and drink PBR.  It’s harder to write about when things are going tough.

What have I learned over the past few weeks?

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Keeping my eye on the prize – 2016 Marquette trail 50 (miler this year) – with last year’s 50k pint glass.

Well – it helps to keep life prioritized.  As I’ve mentioned previously, running isn’t at the top of my list of priorities.  That keeps my running disappointment from becoming general disappointment.

I’ve also learned when you miss a few runs, it’s not the end of the world.  And you shouldn’t try to make up for all of that lost mileage in a single day / week / or even month.  Keep focus on the goal.  For me it’s running my first 50 miler in August and building a strong base to run my first 100 miler next year.  It’s not running 10 miles on last Tuesday.

Finally – run when / what you can.  A short run is, hands down, better than no run.

 

 

 

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?

My Instagram account isn’t sexy

My wife doesn’t run.  My local buddies don’t run.  Thus, twitter and wordpress have been great for virtually connecting with others in the running community.  Often times I find myself scrolling through my twitter feed, over coffee, admiring all of your drop dead gorgeous Instragram photos of mountains … sunrises … sunsets … forests … snow … you name it, I’ve seen it.  It’s awesome, and has to be a hell of a motivation to your running.

My running photos look like this:IMG_3497.JPG

That’s honestly a real picture!!! – taken at 4:59am on 12/6.  I believe Venus and Jupiter were supposed to be in there.

Or they look like this:

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You see, as a #darkskyrunner – my instagram isn’t sexy.  Sure, every once in awhile, I’ll get something like the snowmen, or if I’m running during the afternoon, on a weekend, I’ll get some shots to share, but in general, Instagram isn’t for us darkskyrunners.

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That’s not to say my runs are void of awesomeness.  I’ve seen full moons, new moons, no moons, super moons and lunar eclipses.  I’ve seen meteors and beautiful starry skies – using my trusty iphone to learn new constellations along the way.

I’ve seen the first rays of light to kiss the Southwest Michigan horizon.

I’ve stashed my headlamp and experienced the serenity of running alone, in the dark, with no light at all – just the light of the moon and the stars.

I’ve seen countless sets of eyes glowing back at me and a bloody pile of entrails with a blood trail leading off into the woods … no – seriously, that was this morning and it somewhat freaked me out, especially with how rowdy the coyotes were this morning …

But it’s not just the visual experiences I enjoy during my early morning runs.  I love to hear the owls and the coyotes (when they’re sufficiently far away).  I absolutely love the stillness of a fresh snow, in the dark, on a calm morning.

Then there are the smells … this morning it was the scent of a wood burning furnace.  I love the smell of burning wood; it brings back memories of camping.

For some reason there are areas that I run through that smell like cucumber.  I don’t know why – it’s weird, but it just smells fresh, and not in a Fabreeze kinda way …

The best smell I’ve encountered while running occurred during my first trail run at night.  I can tell you exactly where it was, clockwise around the loop at Kellogg Forest, just at what I call the ‘top’ or the ‘back’ part of the loop, where the rows of different conifers are planted, about 300 yards from where I proposed to my wife …

It was dark.  I had a headlamp, and had a pretty good idea of where I was in the loop, but as soon as the scent of the conifers punched me straight in the nose, I knew exactly where I was.  It was awesome.  It instantly reminded me of my canoe trips to Quetico – where we’d drive for a day and get out of the car in the Canadian wilderness to be overwhelmed by the freshness of the trees.  I had a big fat grin on my face that morning.  To this date, it’s still one of my favorite runs.  Oddly, I don’t seem to notice the scent as much during the day – it’s like when the eyes aren’t stimulated, the rest of the senses kick into a higher gear.

Of course there are things that don’t smell so great too – the port o johns, the intersection downtown Kalamazoo that seemingly always smells like sewage, and burning leaves come to mind on the other end of the spectrum.  Yeah – I love the smell of burning wood, but I hate the smell of burning leaves …

I get to experience some cool shit as a #darkskyrunner.  Unfortunately I just can’t share it with y’all.  But try it sometime – go out there in the wee morning hours and see if you like it.  I started running then out of necessity with the wife / kids / job, but I now love it.  It’s just that my Instagram account isn’t sexy.

What’s the best/worst thing you’ve smelled on a run?

What’s the coolest thing you’ve heard on a run?

Ever tried running in the dark?