Tag Archives: family

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?

 

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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?

 

Embrace the rest days – I bet you’ll love it

I used to suck at rest days.

Dude – it’s the easiest day of the week!!!

I know, but I kept trying to turn rest days into running days and that never turned out well.  I always thought I could, or should, sneak in a few extra miles.  After all, I’m training to run ultras – I need miles.  But instead of successfully logging the extra miles, some combination of the following happened:

  1. I ran the extra miles, which lead to burnout, which lead to a crappy run on my actual training run.
  2. I ran the extra miles, which lead to burnout that made me skip my actual training run.
  3. I didn’t run, but felt like I should run, so I felt crappy about it.

Alas, I was not embracing my rest day.  Rather than looking at it as an opportunity to relax / recharge, I was looking at it as a missed opportunity.  The mindset can make all the difference.

I’ve since tried to embrace the rest day, and I love it!  I schedule it, just like a training run, and I’ve found it adds balance / structure to my week.  I no longer go to work thinking ‘I should’ve snuck in a few extra miles this morning.’  I go to work thinking ‘Hey, good job, you slept in today.’

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My rest days are now an opportunity to catch up on a few extra Z’s in the morning and grind / press a real cup of coffee.  I still try to stretch during my rest days, and read about running, and tweet about running, and blog about running … but I don’t run.  It also allows me to spend some extra time with my family because I’m up later the night before a rest day.  I know the morning won’t start before 4am.  Today I slept all the way till 6:15!!!

If you too struggle with your rest days, take it from me – embrace them.  I bet you’ll love it.

 

 

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?

 

Sleep – the most difficult part of ultrarunning

Buzz, buzz, buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz … My alarm wakes me this morning.  It’s 2:40am.  Just 20 minutes after my daughter woke me to say her comforter fell off the bed and needed to be replaced.

I didn’t have it in me.  I rolled over, grabbed the covers, and faded back into sleep.  Bed won.  What should’ve been a 12 mile run, was left to what should’ve been.

When I finally awoke, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Sleep is the hardest thing for me with respect to my ultrarunning.  It’s not the running.  It’s not the darkness.  It’s not the rain, the snow, the heat, the fog.  It’s the sleep.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a very good sleeper, but what I realized is, with respect to sleep, there’s such a fine – fine, like a razor blade fine line between my ultrarunning success and total failure.  Too much sleep, and I don’t have the time to properly train.  Too little, and I run myself into exhaustion – which is probably true for most folks, but the line between the two feels incredibly thin sometimes.

Flash back to this morning …IMG_3492.PNG

I made the right call.  I’d slept less than four hours.  I can’t expect to make it through a couple hours of running, a day’s worth of work, hanging with the family and then get up at 2:20am the next day to run again.  It just wouldn’t work.

I’ve been trying to pull more of my running into the work week to spend more time with my family on the weekend.  I don’t sacrifice much time with my kids because I’m usually running very early while they’re sleeping, but consequently I lose time in the evenings with my wife because I’m trying to go to bed early.

It’s really quite selfish.  It reminds me of how selfish ultrarunning is, but it is … what it is.  So I’ve been trying to pull at least one of the weekends long runs forward.  To give us more time together at least one of the weekend nights.

It’s not working.

For the year, I average 6 hours 35 minutes of sleep a night.  3 hours 8 minutes of deep sleep, and I get up, on average at 5:48am (yes I track all of that).  Those aren’t really terrible numbers.  But those are just averages … easing the hills and valleys into more of a pleasing number.  Of course, on days I run, the sleep is much less, the mornings much earlier – and I ride the sleep trough into the next wave of rest.

I felt like I handled the sleep during the early part of the year much better than I’m handling it now.  Looking at the data, I was doing both of my long runs on the weekend.  But as I mentioned before – I don’t get to spend as much time with my wife that way.

So … what to do??

Ultimately I feel like I’m in a much better place when I’m getting my training in and feeling successful as a runner.  And by successful – for me, that just means showing up for a race, properly trained, and completing it.  When I’m not feeling successful with my running, that has other negative impacts – I get grumpy for one, and my fuse is a bit shorter.

Fortunately for me, the training cycle for my next race is about to peak next week.  But there will be others soon enough.

I think I’m going to go back to running both long runs on the weekend, drop the mid-week runs to twice per week (and lengthen them a bit), schedule deliberate off-days and take the opportunity to spend more quality time those evenings with the family.

When my wife, and I do get the chance to snag a sitter, and sneak away on a weekend date night, well … I’ll just make sure I schedule the shorter of the two long runs the next morning.

Sleep.  Who thought it’d be so hard?

How do you balance workout time with family time?

What’s the hardest part of your training?

 

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?