Tag Archives: training

What makes you think you can run 100 miles?

What makes you think you can run 100 miles, anyway?

I can’t.  Not yet anyway, but that’s the beauty of all of this.  Rome, as they say, wasn’t built in a day.  But I crave the challenge.

At one time I couldn’t run a half marathon.  Or a marathon.  Or a 50k.

I remember the exact spot – 4.5 miles into my first 6 mile run thinking to myself ‘how in the hell am I going to run a half marathon (twice beyond what I still haven’t finished) in a few months??’

I continued to train, fought through pneumonia and knee pain, and finished my first half marathon in as planned.  And it felt Awesome!  I was exhausted, but knew immediately I had to do it again.

I went through a similar experience when training for my first marathon.  It was a 17 mile run day, and I was 14 miles in, and felt like total shit.  I was gassed, it was later in the day than I normally ran, and I just wanted to get home to my wife and kids.  I thought … the actual race will be over an hour longer more – what’d I get myself into!?

I continued to train, fought through a dog bite with rabies vaccine (that’s a story for another day), and another knee injury that sidelined me for over a month, and finished my first marathon as planned.  And it felt Awesome!

Just as I finished a 16 miler training for my first ultra, I thought to myself ‘that was a good run, time for some waffles and coffee … oh shit, I have to run double that, plus some in a couple months for the race.’

I continued to train and completed my first ultra (Kal-Haven Trail run – 33.5 miles) in April of this year.  I loved it and knew as soon as I finished that I needed to do more – go farther.

IMG_2153

first ultra!

See – I’ve never been a good runner.  At least I haven’t considered myself good. Hell, I don’t even know what good is.  Does it mean you can run X distance in Y time?  All I know is when I ran in high school everyone beat me.  I haven’t gotten any faster.  I do believe I have endurance – I enjoy pushing myself physically, and mentally, to run farther.  I enjoy the planning that goes with it and the race strategy.  I enjoy being outside in the quiet.  I love it.

Ever since ran that first marathon, I’ve had this thought in the back of my mind that I’d run a 100 miler some day.  And now I’ve picked the race – the June 2017 Mohican Trail 100.

I’ll spend 2016 training for a summer 50 miler and build upon that into 2017 for my first 100 miler.  I’ve already started putting together the list of races for 2016.  I’m guessing there will be another 50 miler in there between August 2016 and June 2017 as I prep for Mohican.  If anyone has a suggestion, let me know – something in the Michigan / Indiana / Ohio area would be best for me.

And that’s how I plan, in a nutshell, to run a 100 miler.

Thoughts?  Advice for anyone who’s run a 100 miler?  I’ve read a 50 miler is twice as hard as a marathon.  And that a 100 miler is 4x as hard as a 50 miler.

Did you run 47 miles?

Her: What time did you get up this morning?

Me: About 3.

Her: My god, that’s early – what, did you run 47 miles?

Me: Only 8.

Her: *staring*

Her: *still staring*

Her: What, that’s it!?  You got up that early for 8 miles?

Me: I was going to go 12, but I had to cut it short.  I had 10 Taco Bell fire sauces with lunch yesterday.  It was burning a hole through me.

Her:  10?  That was dumb; you’re disgusting.  

Me: Have a good day, I love you too!

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.

IMG_3366

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?

Week of 11/2/15 in review …

Miles this week: 25

2015 YTD: 1110


Although the week started out slowly, I finally feel like I’m starting to get back into the swing of things.  After a nice 7 mile run early in the week, I deliberately took a few days of rest to finally kick this nagging chest cold that seems like has been hanging on forever.

That brought me to the weekend, and it was awesome!

Saturday morning started out sleeping in (more rest for the cold) followed by my favorite time of the week – breakfast with my girls.  Eggos all around!  I run to eat worse, vs. eat to run better!

After swim lessons with the oldest, it was off to 7/11 for Slurpees (new tradition I guess, we’ve done it two weeks in a row) before heading out on the first of three runs over the weekend and our last stroller run of the season.  Even though it was a bit chilly, we enjoyed it.  No monsters or alligators chased us on Saturday – just leaves.  And lots of ’em, it was VERY windy.

IMG_3329

After the stroller 6 miler, I dropped her for a nap and headed out for a quicker second lap.  It felt good to get a little speed in the legs.

My wife and I had a chance to get out, as adults, on Saturday night and enjoyed an awesome meal at Principle Food & Drink.  If you’re ever in Kalamazoo, try it.  It’s awesome – specifically the spicy pork craklin’s and the Korean BBQ wings.  Wow, wonderful indeed!

Speaking of food, my wife killed it in the kitchen too by making two of my favorite meals and chocolate chip cookies (they’re the best chocolate chip cookies).  I’m a little scared of what the scale’s going to say in the morning.

Hey – I thought this was a running blog, not an eating blog …

Ok… back to running …

That brings me to this morning’s run, and it was AWESOME.  Wow, what a sky full of stars.  My wife told me Saturday night there was supposed to be a meteor shower overnight.  I’m glad I made it up in time to run under the stars.  This was the first time I ran w/o my headlamp.  I had it with me, and turned it on a couple times when there was a car nearby, but most of the time it was off so I could enjoy the stars.  I did see two meteors along the way as well!

I did cut he run short though.  My route took me past the house about half way.  That was a mistake – the coffee was calling my name and I bailed on the last few miles.  In the end, it was for the best.  My girls woke up right after that and it let me make banana bread with them while my wife slept in.

All in all though, 25 miles this week is finally a number I feel decent about again.

As for Western States – it’s time for those who’ve qualified to enter the lotto.  There are a few folks I follow on Twitter or Strava who are throwing their name in the hat.  I wish them all the best!  Two more years and I expect to do the same!

Have you ever looked past one goal to reach another?

There’s a very good chance I hit my mileage goal for the year -> 1350 miles.  Bummer.  At the moment, on 11/6, I have 258 to go.  After a bit of rest and an ankle injury, post GR Marathon, I was borderline based on the training I have planned for the rest of the year.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 10.58.48 AM

Then came the nagging chest cold / cough that I can’t seem to kick.  Every night before bed and every morning when I awake – cough, cough, cough.  That too has side-lined me as of late.  The longer it’s sidelined me, the more frustrating it’s become.

Mentally, it’s been difficult.

I think I finally made peace with it yesterday though.  I started thinking about why I run.  It’s not to run 1350 miles this year.  That was just an arbitrary number I picked out of the air.  It was me thinking – hey, I wonder if I can run 35% more next year.  35% is a lot.  Which is why it was a goal I suppose – otherwise it’d be a given.

No, I didn’t really run to hit that number.

I run to be healthier. -> Ok, so taking the time needed to actually kick this cold would make me healthier, vs. running myself into the ground on limited sleep and risking pneumonia again.

I run to enjoy the outdoors. -> I can still enjoy the outdoors while I’m sick – on a walk with the kids, or sitting on the deck enjoying the evening (what’s left of it now that we’re back on standard time).  I don’t have to push myself out of bed at 3am every day while sick.

I run to train for my next race. -> The longer I spend with this nagging chest cold, the more I jeopardize my training for the Yankee Springs Winter Challenge.  So, taking a break to fully kick this is a good thing.

I run to ultimately run my first 100 miler.

I run to eventually complete Western States.

Both of those final two are far enough in the future that they’re not really impacted either way here.

Ok – thinking through that helped.

Next I thought about what goals I have accomplished this year …

  1. I ran, and finished, my first Ultra.
  2. I ran, and finished, my first trail Ultra.
  3. I ran a sub 4hr marathon for the first time
  4. I already ran more than I have in any other year

Ok – feeling even better now.

Perhaps the answer is – I need to look past one goal (1350 miles) to reach another one (to be prepared to run the Yankee Springs Winter Challenge).

Have you ever had to look past one goal to reach another?

Time for a Trip to the DL

Seriously!?  You just announced to the world that you’re running a 100 miler two hundred mile races, and blogging about it, and you’re hurt already!?

What can I say?  Shit happens.

My awesome Grand Rapids Marathon came at a cost – I’m injured.  I don’t recall anything specific happening during the race, but my left leg did bother me during the long out and back section.  As best as I can figure, I think it was due to me running on the right side of the road (all runners were running ‘with traffic’ as the road was closed).  Typically I run against traffic so I can see what’s coming.  Therefore the crown of the road typically has my left leg lower than my right.  During much of the race on Sunday, it was the opposite.

Perhaps it was something else, but that’s the best I could come up with.

I noticed my left ankle is stiff with pain on the inside.  I don’t have my full range of motion with it either.  I ran on it this morning, and it felt better once I was going, but that made it worse later in the day.  According to Dr. Google, it looks like it could be some tendonitis – which leads to stretching, and this … (please ignore the pink towel – I’m the only male that lives here)

FullSizeRender 53

Holy crap that was cold!!!!

So I’ll on the ice / ibuprofen / tiger balm treatment for a few days.  It’s a bummer too because I’ll be out-of-town this weekend, for a long weekend.  Running is always a great way to see somewhere new.  Oh what the hell, perhaps I’ll take my running shoes anyway – just in case …

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!

Did you quit again?

Me: I have some running news.

Her: What?  Did you quit again?

Me: Nope.  I’m running a 100 miler.  Two of them actually.  I have to complete one to qualify to enter the lottery for the race out West.

Her: That’s not the race in the desert is it?

Me: The Badwater?  No – that’s 135 miles.  That’s ridiculous.

Me: Oh … and I’m blogging about the whole adventure.


So my wife’s on board aware of my plans.  She tolerates the idea for now.  She’s kinda been down this route before.  Last summer I was training for a 50 miler and ultimately had to drop back to the 50k.  That’s what she meant by ‘did you quit again?’

I never quit, just adjusted my goals.

I remember that morning vividly.  I was up at 2am for an 18 miler – before work.  About 3.5 miles in I just stopped and said to myself – this is f’n crazy.  I ran straight home and went back to bed for a couple hours before going to work.

BUT … part of what draws me to this sport is that, yes, it is F’N CRAZY!  It’s a challenge, and I love that about running, regardless of the distance.  There’s just something about pushing myself to run longer distances that I can’t shake.  I’ve never been fast.  But I can push myself to run farther.

Summer training is hard, and that ‘goal adjustment’ was dead in the middle of summer.  Weekends are booked up with fun things outside of running – camping, travel to in-laws, farm markets, vacations, etc.  That’s what summer is for.  But … it makes for some tough running, especially when traveling.  Thus, the long runs move into the work week.  And you really can’t run double digits, before work, without getting out of bed at a insanely early hour.  (my record is 1:50am – for a 20miler on a Friday.)

Ultra training ramps it up even more because you get to do that – twice, on back to back days!

Don’t get me wrong.  It sounds like I’m complaining.  I’m not.  It’s a challenge.  One that I welcome and look forward to.  That’s one of the biggest reasons I do this – to push myself.  How far can I go?

This summer, I only managed the 50k on trails in the UP of Michigan.  Next summer, the goal, again, is the 50 miler.  Once I accomplish that, I’ll focus on training for the 100 miler.

Baby steps.

By the way, the 50k I ran – Marquette Trail 50 – is an incredible race.  Do it.