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.
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.
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?’
I’m not running Marquette.
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.
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.
I need to spend some time working on my core strength. And my knee.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I don’t recommend trying this in the snow. It’s too hard to tell what’s good from a footing standpoint.
Relax and have fun!
Do you run in the dark? Ever tried to click the light out?
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 …
This ideally sets up up to run a couple of 100 milers next year – Indiana and possibly Hallucination.
The Indiana Trail 100 is closer to home, making the weekend ideally less impactful to my family.
The course appears to be less technical than Mohican. Ideally good for a first 100 miler.
The downside though …
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?
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 not start 2016 with a bang? While most were still hung over from New Year’s (when I went to bed at 11:57pm – just because I couldn’t care less about the ball drop), I ran 30 miles. Me and almost 340 other runners met in the early morning cold, at Yankee Springs Recreation Area, on the second to run between 10k – 50miles.
I’ve hiked the YSRA many times (I even saw the elusive eastern massasauga rattlesnake there once – Michigan’s only venomous snake), but I’ve never run there. When I hiked there, it’s always been the same 4 mile loop so I didn’t really know what to expect for this two-lap race.
My daughters decorating the most awesome drop bag.
After my typical pre-race meal of PB&J, I headed North and arrived at Yankee Springs, under the cover of darkness, about 7am – an hour or so before the race. A short walk took me over the lodge where I picked up my number, race gloves and a pretty sweet long sleeve tshirt.
After a quick pit-stop at the port o Jonathans, it was back to the car to hang out and stay warm until time to race. I double checked my UD SJ vest, pinned my number to my pants, and strapped on my Yaktrax. Thank goodness I had them along. The ground was covered under a layer of ice from a recent ice storm. They proved very beneficial.
Before the start of the 2016 Yankee Springs Winter Challenge
About 5 minutes prior to the race, I walked across the parking lot, dropped my drop bag, took a quick pre-race picture and took my place at the start line. I find the start of ultras to be very chill and I love that. No Metallica. No pyrotechnics. No jumping around. Just a ‘hello’ from the RD, a quick countdown from 10, and we’re off.
I started out the first lap at a pace that felt very slow. As I’d been running at a low HR for a couple of months, I decided to try to keep it down through the first of two loops. I wasn’t shooting for zone 3 like my training runs, but definitely trying to keep things in zone 4 – as opposed to my first 50k where I jacked myself into zone 5 4 miles into the race and subsequently blew up.
A couple miles in I caught a gal and just kinda hung behind her for a bit. She was running pretty much the exact pace I wanted to run. I didn’t want to pass and force myself to run any faster trying to keep from slowing her down, but I think she didn’t really love having me hanging so close behind either – she felt like she was holding me up. We chatted a bit about running and family and then about 6 miles in I stopped to remove my jacket and let her roll on. My jacket – the UD Ultra Jacket, is sweet. After a few more runs in that, I’ll have a review on here.
At this point I was all alone, where I stayed for the majority of the first lap.
I came up a hill about 8 miles into the race and saw a guy standing with cooler and a radio in the tree behind him …
But … I figured, what the hell? It was only about 3 or 4 ounces, what could it hurt? The first lap – nothing, all was good. I did pass on the chicken though.
Shortly after that, I rolled into my first aid station (third on the course). I had a really odd experience. I could smell the campfire on the way up the hill and shouted something about it smelling wonderful. I walked up and thanked the folks for being there and they all totally ignored me. No one said a word. I don’t know if it’s cause I had my GoPro on, and it freaked them out, or what. One dude was cutting pickles. Another was telling him not to slice his thumb off. And 3 or 4 people were sitting around the campfire ignoring me.
Oh well. I thanked them nonetheless and rolled on – right into the toughest part of the course. Terrain-wise, it was cool – hilly and challenging, but it really slowed me down. I walked most of the up hills and tried to roll through the icy downhills as best as I could. It was in this section that I started to see the gal I ran with earlier in the race.
I pushed on through this section, still trying to keep my HR under control and came out of this to the last aid station. The gal I was chasing chose to skip it, but I stopped to refill my bottle.
They were stoked about my camera.
Hey, are we on camera!?
Me: Do you mind?
Me: Cool, I don’t think the last group appreciated it.
I thought I turned it on, but apparently all I got was this picture. Notice the dude on the right – I thought he was wearing a baby out in the cold. No – it was a dog.
This stop rejuvenated me and I begin running pretty well after this. It was also about this time that I decided to shit-can the heart rate running. I was going to push it into, and through, the second lap.
I caught the gal I’d run with earlier and wished her well. This was her first ultra and she was going to stop for some traction between laps and I rolled into lap 2 feeling very good.
I stopped to take a picture of lap 2, a couple miles in, and that killed my phone. It froze up. Oh well, onwards!
I felt really good the first half of lap 2 and passed quite a few people. Whatever quite a few people is in an ultra, in the winter. Probably more than 5, but less than 10. Not bad in a race of 64 runners though.
At one point I remember seeing an Oreo on the ground.
Damn that looks good! I thought.
Fortunately for me, a couple miles further and I happened on an aid station – and they had Oreos! I choked one down (it seemed hard to eat) and it tasted delicious.
I was still feeling good as I ran into the PBR guy again. I had no intention of stopping – I was running well. But he asked again. And … that’s all it took for me to stop. Now he had a group with him. I chatted a couple minutes and one of the guys I’d passed snuck by.
Then … I ran out of gas. I don’t think it was the PBR, but I think it was just stopping again so soon when I felt like I was running well. I never really got back into the groove.
I skipped the oddball aid station from lap 1 and powered forward.
With about 5 miles to go I passed a guy sitting down. I chatted a minute, he wasn’t feeling well, but he started moving so I moved along.
I continued to slow down and finally Alex (the guy who was sitting earlier) caught me. He wasn’t feeling well and I was gassed so we kept each other company for the last 4 miles in. Alex – if you’re reading this, nice to meet you!
Post race there was chili and beer – how can you go wrong!? Well, you can go wrong by leaving your ID in the car and being too lazy to go get it. So for me, it was just chili.
In the end, even though I believe it is hard to compare ultras because of the varied terrain, it was a 50k PR for me by a long shot. So I guess I’ll take that.
This wasn’t an A race for me, but rather something to keep me training through the fall / early winter. I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to folks!
Aside from my new UD jacket, I received a Patagonia Air Hoody for Christmas. I know you’re not supposed to wear something new in a race, but I did. And it was awesome. I love how the hood keeps the neck warm and when up can be pulled up over the face. I’d highly recommend it.
As I mentioned earlier, I was wearing my GoPro. That was a first for me and here’s a short video compilation from the race …
If you want to see my Strava data, you can find it here. Otherwise, here are the just the splits:
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.
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!
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…
My 2yr old caught her first fish …
We went camping as a family for the first time (nephew and my daughters) …
Backyard camping with my oldest …
Watched Howie Day from this far away with my wife …
Helped my daughters make snowmen in June …
Took the family to Rocky Mountain National Park …
… 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.
I’ve spent much time trying to figure out the best way for me to hydrate / fuel for my training and races – either by trying different things or reading about what works for others.
I’m a runner w/Crohn’s disease, so that affects what I put in my body pre-race, and during the run. I typically go for things that are low in fiber / carbonation the day before, and during, my race. Those two items don’t sit well with my Crohn’s.
I love beer, but it’s not what I choose to carbo-load with. The carbonation in it is very uncomfortable for my Crohn’s. I’m also a big fan of Clif bars, but they don’t go near me before a race. I’ve tried it; it wasn’t fun. After a race, sure, they’re both usually the first thing I consume.
I’m sure things vary from person to person, but I thought it’d be worth sharing where I’ve landed. Perhaps it helps. Or perhaps it at least gives you some things to try – even if you’re not a runner with Crohn’s (and I’m guessing most of you aren’t).
A couple of my baseline rules are:
No beer / chicken wings / Chinese / ghost pepper sauce the night before any race, or a training run longer than 6 miles.
Drink water. All the time, regardless of whether I am running the next day. Staying hydrated makes me generally feel good. If I’m not enjoying a Michigan beer, or a stout cup of coffee, I pretty much only drink water.
I wear a UD SJ 2.0 vest to accommodate my fuel / hydration (amongst other things – we’ll get into that in another post). I love this vest (you can see it in the picture below). At this point, it’s pretty much like wearing a seatbelt – I wear it on every run.
recent grocery run, featuring the Ultimate Direction SJ 2.0 vest
Training run: If I’m running less than 10 miles, I fill both bottles with water only. I don’t need both bottles full, but I like the balance it provides having them equal weight. My watch alerts me to drink every 10 minutes and I rotate between the bottles to evenly distribute the weight through the run.
If I’m running 10 miles, or more, I fill one, or two, bottles with two scoops of Tailwind – one caffeinated and one non-caffeinated. Each bottle provides me with 200 calories and 16oz of hydration. Since the calories and electrolytes are in the liquid, I don’t have to mess w/carrying gels. Or stuffing messy gel packets in my pockets.
If it’s a really long training run, I’ll utilize the 70oz hydration pack that slides into the UD vest, and mix it at the same ratio of 200 calories per 16oz – half caffeinated and half non-caffeinated.
The combo of raspberry buzz / lemon Tailwind go together very well.
Marathon: Two 16oz bottles can’t get me through a marathon and a 70oz hydration pack isn’t very conducive to running fast. After doing some research I found that some folks mix their tailwind to a higher concentration. I tried this during my last marathon and it worked fabulously.
In each 16oz bottle I mixed 4 scoops (4o0 calories – again half and half) so I was carrying 32oz with me and 800 calories. At the end of each mile I took a small squirt of liquid – alternating between bottles, again to keep them balanced. This made the bottles last through the marathon.
I tested this ratio prior to the race to ensure my body was good with it.
However, since I wanted to drink more than 32oz over the course of the 4 hours+, I supplemented the hydration side with water at each aid station.
The bottles in the vest took care of the calories / electrolytes and the extra water from the aid stations kept me hydrated.
50k: I move slow enough during an ultra to carry the hydration pack, but I don’t – that’d be dumb with the aid that’s available. Pre-race, I fill both of my 16oz bottles with 2 scoops of Tailwind (200 calories each bottle). This time I mix one bottle caffeinated and one bottle non-caffeinated. I start the race with these in my vest along with a number of Tailwind sticks.
Rather than alternate drinks in each bottle during the race, I typically down an entire bottle first. This makes refilling one bottle, vs. two partial bottles, much easier at the aid stations. That convenience is worth more to me than the minor imbalance the bottles create. At aid stations, I fill the empty bottle and fill with one of the aforementioned Tailwind sticks, shake, and go. It works out pretty quickly and stuffing the empty Tailwind packet in my pocket isn’t as gooey and sticky as an empty gel.
The Tailwind provides me the calories / electrolytes / hydration I need through the race. So far, I haven’t had to eat anything else during an ultra. But – I haven’t run anything farther than 34 miles yet either.
Pre-race: There are times in life I still feel like a big kid. My pre-race dinner is one of these occasions. I eat Kraft mac and cheese w/hotdogs. Seriously. It’s a bland meal, provides some extra carbs, and is comforting as it reminds me of childhood. The salt in the hotdogs make me drink a little extra the night before the race. It’s wondrous.
The morning of the race I get up and eat a peanut butter and jelly a couple of hours before I run. Again, simple and bland – easy on the ole’ gut, but it helps me start the race without feeling hungry.
After that it’s me and Tailwind until the finish. So far that’s worked out well. We’ll get a chance to test it again in a few short days.
How do you fuel / hydrate for races?
Do you choose different methods for different distances?