Tag Archives: ultrarunning

Hitting the ‘Reset’ Button

Deep breath … I’m hitting the ‘reset’ button.  There, I said it. It’s official.  For as great as my 2015 was, from a running perspective, 2016 has been just as far in the opposite direction.  For those who’ve followed my blog, I’m sure this isn’t a surprise.

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My miles are lacking.  My motivation is lacking.  I haven’t been blogging as much as I’ve liked and basically been absent on twitter.  Why?  It’s not fun to talk about running when running isn’t fun.  I came to that realization this morning – prepping for the Marquette Trail 50 felt like a chore.  And I have enough of those already.

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running when it’s fun!

Running should be fun.  I was reminded of this yesterday while listening to a podcast, hoping to get the inspiration to knock out my scheduled 22 mile trail run this morning, before my wife left at 10am.  This required me to get up in the 3s.  I don’t like getting up in the 3s.

Anyway, back to the podcast – it was great.  Diz Runs.  Check it out.  In this episode he was interviewing Sally McRae.  She’s one of the reasons I got into running ultras.  The video ‘Western Time‘ by Billy Yang sucked me right into the idea of trail running and ultras.  I had a lot of fun with it the last year and a half.

But recently things have changed.  I got off to a bad start this year and have felt like I’ve been playing catch up ever since.  Playing catch up is hard enough.  Playing catch up while training for a 50 mile race is pretty much insane.  And probably stupid.  Which is why my knee hasn’t been feeling good.

During the podcast Sally made a comment about one of the runners she was training – very nervous about running a particular distance.  Sally asked her if she’d feel better if she ran the shorter distance and the runner answered yes, and that’s what Sally recommended – because running should be enjoyed!

Flash forward to 3:15 this morning.  I woke easily, walked downstairs, began working through my stretching and that’s when I came to the realization (while thinking about yesterday’s podcast) this wasn’t fun.  And remembered, yes, running should be fun.

So … what do I mean by ‘pushing the reset button?’

  1. I’m not running Marquette.
  2. I’m going to find joy in running again w/o the pressure of training for a race.  Whatever distance / terrain sounds fun, that’s what I’ll run.
  3. I will get back to running consistent 20-25 mile weeks before I pick another race to train for.  I do have a couple in the back of my mind (Detroit Marathon / Stone Steps 50k in Cincy in the fall), but I’m no where ready to commit.
  4. I need to spend some time working on my core strength.  And my knee.
  5. I need to drop about 6-8lbs.

Dude – you’re not running Western States!

Yes I am.

Remember, this blog is my journey to Western.  Good.  Bad.  Whatever.

Another thing I learned from the podcast yesterday – you can have a bad year.  Sally had one that she basically had to scrap due to injury.  Then she came back, built a strong base, and came back and crushed it.

I’ll be back to crush it.

Tentatively – I think I can push my first 50 miler to Indiana in April.  And then Mohican in June.  But we’ll see how the rest of 2016 goes.

For now – I’m going to grab a beer and enjoy this beautiful May day!

Have you ever hit the reset button?  How’d it go?

What’s your favorite beer?

Cheers!

 

 

 

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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 into darkness …

Out the door, down the driveway, start the watch, run … I reach up to my headlamp and click – I’m instantly swallowed by darkness.  And I love it.

A few months ago, on a whim, I turned my headlamp off mid run.  There was supposed to be a meteor shower that morning and I wanted to see some shooting stars.  I felt distracted by the headlamp so I turned it off.  I instantly noticed a sky full of stars and it was awesome.  I saw two shooting stars that morning – not as many as I’d hoped, but these were the first two shooting stars I’d seen while running.

I find myself time and time again, especially when the sky is clear, reaching up to click myself into darkness.  I found this to be a similar experience to when I first started running without music.  Dropping the music made me feel more in tune with my surroundings.  Dropping the light took it to another level.  It’s me and the morning.  And it’s beautiful.

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It’s amazing how well our eyes adapt.  And I don’t even really eat carrots.  What I found is the headlamp gives me tunnel vision.  Running w/o the light seems to open up the world around me.  It’s hard to explain.  But it’s cool.

Dude – you’re crazy for running around, in the dark, with no headlamp.

Eh.  Not really.  But I think safety is still critical.  Given that, here are my tips for running into the darkness … should you decide to give it a whirl.

  1. Wear a headlamp.  When I see a car coming, I click the light on so I’m more visible and then generally step off the road to let it pass.
  2. Wear lights on your back.  Even though my headlamp is off, I have red flashing lights on my back.  Nathan makes a cheap clip light.  Get one.
  3. Wear reflective gear – that’s really a given whether your headlamp is on or off, if you’re running in the dark.  I’m a big fan of the Amphipod xinglet.
  4. Run known routes.  If you know where the pot holes are, it’s much easier to relax and enjoy the run vs. looking at the ground for something that’s going to twist your ankle.
  5. I don’t recommend trying this in the snow.  It’s too hard to tell what’s good from a footing standpoint.
  6. Relax and have fun!

Do you run in the dark?  Ever tried to click the light out?

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?

Cold weather hydration tips

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running below zero

I know, I know we’re half way through February and I’m just now giving you cold weather hydration tips.  But here in Michigan – it hasn’t been cold!  I suppose everyone who reads my blog doesn’t live in Michigan though.  Perhaps you’ll find some of these tips useful.  Worst case, we can pull them out again next year a little earlier in the year.

So while it hasn’t been too awfully cold this year, I do live in Michigan.  It does get cold and I’ve run for multiple hours below zero in a single run.  People have asked me – how do you keep your hydration from freezing?  I’ve asked other people how they keep their hydration from freezing.  Here’s what I’ve learned from my winters of running …

  1. The smaller belt clip bottles from Amphipod and the like don’t work for long runs.  I’ve literally had to throw them on the ground mid run to try to break up the ice to get to any water from them.  No, I have nothing against Amphipod, I wear their Xinglet on every run.  The problem with the bottles though – they’re too small so they freeze up quickly.  And since they’re small, I’d need multiple on a long run and that meant I didn’t get to all of them frequently enough to keep them moving and ice free.
  2. Preheat bottles before your run.  Whether you take warm water, mix your drink with warm water, or stick them in a pot of hot water – make sure it’s warm when you leave.  This serves two purposes – obviously it takes longer to freeze, but the warmth against your body will be nice as your body warms up at the start of the run.  I’ve had UD bottles out for 2 hours, below freezing (low teens I believe) and kept them flowing this way.  By the time I got home my Tailwind was a bit slushy, but I could drink it.  If you drink the Tailwind when it’s still warm – it’s not bad at all.  Warm water, eh, I don’t love it, but if it allows me to drink I live with it.
  3. If you use the UD bottles, squeeze a little air through the valve after your drink.  I suppose this would work with any bottle really.  This clears any liquid that might freeze the valve shut.
  4. If your hydration pack fits under your jacket – wear it under your jacket.  Mine fit under my old jacket and the warmth of the body keeps everything flowing.  You look silly, yes, but you can still drink when you’re 2+ hours into a run.  Besides, if it’s -3 who else is outside to see you look silly?
  5. Hydration bladders can be tricky.  Once you take a drink, blow the tube clean of liquid.  The tube will freeze quickly otherwise.  Realize as you blow back into the tube – you’re pressurizing your hydration pack.  This may force liquid back into the tube if there’s too much air in the bladder.  It’s a delicate balance and one that I got wrong yesterday.  I had to run the last hour w/o any hydration after my tube froze.  If you’re using the hydration bladder, stick the end under your, or down your shirt, to keep the valve from freezing.
  6. Drink more often.  The more often you drink, the more often the bottles are used / moved.  This motion keeps them, and the valves, ice free longer.  Set a reminder on your watch to drink.
  7. Pick a loop that keeps you close to home / car / something else where you can replenish your hydration if things do freeze.  If you leave water in your car, make sure it’s warm and in a thermos.  Otherwise it will freeze too.

Those are my cold weather hydration tips after a few years of running through Michigan winters.  Do you have any others to add?

 

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.

 

 

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.