Monday, December 22, 2014

2015 Race Calendar

As I worked on my potential Leadville 100 training calendar it helped me look at and lay out the races I'm going this season. I'm excited for some of my favorites and some new ones in the mix. Luckily a lot of the races correspond really well with training, allowing me to do some long runs as races which means aid station support. Here's what 2015 is looking like:

Winter Race Series
Littleton, CO along the Platte River trail
December 20, January 17, February 21

I'm excited to do these races with my friend Jill. The first one was this weekend and it's a 10k. I'm pretty pleased with my time. I did a fast 5 mile run the night before so I was a little tight going into this race but I felt pretty good throughout the entire course. I finished in 53:21. The January and February races are 10 miles which will be good fun fast road runs.

Salida Run Through Time
Salida, CO
March 14

This is one of my favorite marathons in one of my favorites places in Colorado. I've already signed up and I'm pumped to try and beat my time from last year. My tentative Leadville training is a good motivator to get me out on trail training runs more which I feel was what my running last year was lacking (among other life events).

Platte River Buckhorn Exchange Half
Littleton, CO
April 12

I did this race 4ish years ago. It's a pretty fast half along the Platte River Trail. I'm excited to run it well since I doubt I'll be out until 1am drinking the night before. Sorry Shelly, this time you won't be able to tell me I smell like a bar when I run by.

Quad Rock 25
Fort Collins CO

I just signed up for this race. I learned so much on the course last year and this will be a great race to work on my uphill speed walking. I also hope to not add a matching scar. Hoping Kate will be around for this one cause no one touches the King's Eggs*

Grandma's Marathon
Duluth, MN

This one is a maybe and it's only if my sister decides to run it. I told her if she signed up for it I would run it with her. I'm a little apprehensive about this since it is so close to some other runs. I want to heed the advice from Ryan about not doing anything stupid to compromise my training so I will have to play it by ear. The race never fills up so I can make it a game time decision, but I'm keeping it on my radar for now.

Northfork 50k/50mi
Pine, CO

So much depends on if I get into Leadville or not. If I don't then I want another go at the 50 miler. If that's the case then I'll have to disappoint my sister and bow out of Grandma's. If I do get into Leadville, I'd like to do the 50k as a training run. It falls right in the middle of a 30mi/10mi weekend set so I think it would be good to get an aided trail run in for that.

Leadville 100
Leadville, CO
August 22

So that's the tentative calendar. Really the results of the Leadville lottery will determine a lot of what my summer race calendar looks like as well as my ultimate calendar. I'm playing a few fun tournaments (New Year's Fest in Tempe over Super Bowl weekend, Poultry Days, and Master's Nationals which are in Colorado this year!!!)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Idiots out wandering around

Training summary for December 14 - December 20

Recap of last week:

Well I didn't succeed in all of what I wanted to do last week. I got up a bit late on Saturday so didn't get a run in before the first official meeting of the Bagel Trust. It was ok though, I got some killer bagels and rugelach. I did get out on a run later that afternoon, 6 miles on the road so not the trail run I had hoped for.  So I could be mad, or I could just be happy that I got a good night sleep, good bagels with good friends, and a run in. Not too shabby.

Total Miles: 24

Week 2:

Sunday - eek, didn't get a run in. I have no excuse except for being out late on Saturday night, drinking a bit too much, and then going to a boozy brunch Sunday. I did get a heck of a lot done on Sunday, but none of it involved running shoes.

Monday - Mondays and Fridays are technically my "rest" days. But, understanding that life happens I know that sometimes I need to do runs on those days. So I pumped myself up as I left work on Monday and geared up for a longer run. I had a new podcast to tryout, Risk! and it was a great fit and something I'll add into my road run motivation set. I did a little over 8 miles and felt pretty good about myself after my lack luster weekend performance.

Tuesday - Hill Repeats. We did a little under 8 miles. I am still a lot slower than everyone else running, but I feel like I've got so much faster compared to last year. I ended up finishing the workout by myself which was ok. I forget how beautiful it is to be on top of the mountain and over look Denver and it was a nice sight to take in by myself after a hard workout. When I got back to the parking lot I was pretty happy to see that Ryan left me a Ninjabread in my car door.

Wednesday - Trivia! I didn't run I went to trivia and the Japanese Honey Bees pulled out a last minute win by rocking the Christmas Carol final category.

Thursday - eek, another missed day. I was going to run at lunch, but I've been on the struggle bus every morning and ended up rushing to get myself to work on time. Therefore I did not pack stuff to run at lunch. After work we had a stitch and bitch so I was busy cooking and hanging. No run, but it was a fun night.

Friday - I knew I had to run today. 3 days off is no good for consistency. I did a short 5 mile run in the neighborhood. Not a lot of miles, but I'm super excited by my pace. When I do my afterwork runs I just try to get the miles in and not worry too much about my pace. I went into this run wanting to take it pretty fast and I did it.

Saturday - Santa Stampede!  Jill and I are running the first race in the winter distance series!!! I'm super pumped for it, we get a  Santa hat you guys! It's a 10k so I'm excited to run it as fast as I can.

I'm planning on a longer run Sunday, I don't know if the weather will be cooperative to get in a trail run but that'd be my preference. I think it will be a great challenge to run the 10k hard and be tired for my Sunday long run.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Idiots out wandering around

Now that I officially put my name into the Leadville 100 Lottery I need to get some serious training in. To help keep myself more accountable than my kitchen calendar, I'm going to update the weeks training hopefully each Friday. I won't be linking these posts to social media (other than this first one) so if you're super curious about my training you'll have to come here by your self.

I have some newer posts in the queue that I'm working on, so have no fear my philosophical musing on running will reappear once I get my writing and editing on.

Leadville 100 / 2015 Running Season Training

December 7 - 13

Sunday: I was in Minnesota for my cousins wedding. Sunday's training consisted of eating brunch, taking a nap on my sisters love seat, going out to a fat italian dinner at a place my mom called "pantaloonees", and watching A Christmas Story the Musical. Yep...successfully training for the day after Leadville. (Author's note I did run 4ish miles on Saturday so that's not too bad for vacation)

Monday: I flew into Denver at 6:50am and went straight to work. I took a nap in my car. Came home and helped my mom set up her new iphone. Fell asleep before 9pm. Hey rest is important for good racing!

Tuesday: HILL REPEATS! 8ish miles up Rooney Valley trail followed by 10 shorts (5 running hard downhill 5 running hard uphill). The weather was amazing. I felt good overall, not much knee pain on the downhill which is a bonus. I'm still way slower than everyone else, but it was nice to have people at the top to run with.

Wednesday: 4ish miles during lunch. It was a struggle, the day after hills always seems harder and lunch runs are tough for me. I had some commitments after work so I wanted to make sure I got a run in even if it was a bit shorter.

Thursday: 6miles, normal loop in the hood. Felt a lot better than Wednesday.

Friday: Today is a rest day, I've had two cups of Denver Bike Cafe coffee so I'm pretty jittery.

Saturday: My training sheet says 18miles, but I haven't built up my mileage enough for that. To avoid injury the current plan is to try and do 10-13 miles on trail and then eat a lot of cookies and drink delicious beer at the ugly sweater cookie exchange party.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shortest Fat Season Ever

Fat guy in a little coatWe have a joke at the end of ultimate season that once you play your final game you start "fat" season (or fat week/fat month). It's more of an acknowledgment that you get to take a break from the last several months of working hard, giving up happy hours, and waking up early on Saturday mornings, etc. The end of September was my official start of "fat season" and I indulged it for the first few days. Until I went for a run, and I got hungry for running season. Then I saw this: Leadville 100.
There isn't much time to rest in between ultimate and running season. It's helpful that ultimate season keeps me in well enough shape that I can transition into running a bit easier, but mentally it can be a challenge. I'm basically trading one time consuming hobby for another. Add on the million other fun things to do in Colorado over the winter and the off-season of ultimate can be more of a time drain than the on.

I was lucky though to have a really good run first run so the mental hurdle of starting training wasn't too tall. It did get me thinking and I'd like to revisit a topic I've covered before; how to motivate your self to train when you really just want to sit on your couch, drink a beer, and watch House Hunters International on Hulu.

There are a few things that have helped me get out on a run in the past that I'm hoping to harness over the next few months. With the lessons I learned from the 50miler last summer I know I need to put in some longer hours on the trails and it's a bit daunting to think of the training road ahead. So this post is more of a self motivator, but I hope you can find something that may aid you going forward.

Sign up for a race

A great way to start running again is to sign up for a race. It gives you an end goal in mind, a finish line for training if that's what you need. It also motivates you to run for some higher purpose than just to run. I have a couple races on my docket for next year; Salida Run Through Time Marathon, Quad Rock 25mile. In addition to those I am hoping to get another crack at the North Fork 50miler and of course there's Leadville or another 100mile race. Those are all well and good, but they seem so far away. Even Salida, which is typically in March, seems far enough away that taking training seriously right now is difficult. I am looking into race that fall somewhere in the next few months to get me out and running, but sometimes even signing up for a race isn't quite enough of a push to get out on a Tuesday night.


I've admitted before that podcasts are my guilty pleasure when road running. On days when I'm feeling really sluggish or unmotivated it's an incentive to catch up on episodes of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. I typically only allow myself to listen to these podcasts on runs and I've found it to be quite a good motivator. I also recently picked up some great beer from Minnesota (Bells Two Hearted and a selection of Surly) with the caveat that I put in some miles before I can truly enjoy them.

Feeling shitty

While it might sound counter productive, whenever I'm feeling bad, especially stomach stuff bad, a run usually helps. I'm sure there's some sciencey stuff behind it, but all I know is if I'm feeling bad running it out often works. It's still difficult to go out on a run, but with the potential of feeling better and being able to do more fun things because you're feeling better is a nice perk. True, sometimes you don't feel any better, but I rarely feel any worse.

Being Weird

I read a quote that was posted by Grandma's Marathon on facebook "The days when you least feel like running are usually the days you need it the most". When all else fails I will sometimes, literally, chant "you're going for a run" in my car as I drive home from work. I don't let myself think about anything else and I just repeat, outloud, that I'm going on a run. I am not sure what people in the car next to me think, but it usually gets me focused enough on running that there is no other option when I get home but to put my shoes on. Perhaps by putting it out to the universe it's harder to say no when you unlock your front door?

Truth be told I'm about 50 parts excited and 50 parts terrified for what I'm hoping to accomplish next year so I'm also trying to harness that into a motivation to run. Right now I'm up to 8miles for a long run which means I have a ways to go, but I'll get there. If anything, I've started a google doc for Leadville so hit me up if you want to join my crew and I'll put your name on the list.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Second Chances

I've been thinking a lot about second chances. You don't often get a second chance to do something better, and when you do sometimes you miss it. It's not easy to get a second chance in relationships, your career, or your athletic dreams so if you do wouldn't you take it?

Races are a special thing, unlike other sporting events, you can get a second, third, fourth, fifth, etc chance at a race. Sure, the racing field changes, the weather can be different, but there's still you and the course and if you sign up, pay the fee, win the entry lottery, you do get another chance to take on the challenge.  Running allows you the unique option to come back and see if you can best your demons and make a better imprint.

In ultimate we used to talk about your "last best chance". We never knew from year to year what the team would look like, what our competition would be, and if we as individuals had hit our "ultimate peak". That year, that game, that tournament, might be your last best chance to win a national championship. Unfortunately you don't know it until it's long passed. It may be your last best chance to qualify for Boston in your age group, it might be your last best chance to run a sub 5min mile. But you can often get another chance to run a better race (not always a faster race), but a better race.

A lot of people have asked me if I'll ever do a 50 miler again. The opinions from people ranging from "probably not right?" to "you better not" (my mom). I've gotten confused looks from people when I don't give a definitive no, or when I say not this year maybe next, or when I say well I want to do a 100 miler so probably. After suffering a lot in my 50 miler, and suffering even more in the weeks after, I can't help but think about how lucky I am to be able to give it another shot.

I'm not going to be a runner who wins races, so my best is running a race well. You get a lot of last best chances to be a smarter runner, a better runner. Sometimes that means winning sometimes it doesn't. I'm lucky that I still have the physical ability to train and the economic stability to enter races and travel to the start.

There are a lot of moments in life that everyone wishes they could do better or had done better. You don't have infinite chances as a runner, but you get a lot of them if you're willing to put in the work. I feel fortunate to get the chance to do it better and would feel like a fool not to take advantage of it. Wouldn't you?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Most Funnest Day Ever - or the 50mile recap

A lot can happen in 13 hours 41 minutes and 46 seconds. A lot can happen to your body in 13 hours 41 minutes and 46 seconds. A lot can happen in your brain in 13 hours 41 minutes and 46 seconds. A lot can change in a person in 13 hours 41 minutes and 46 seconds.

To avoid being overly suspenseful, I finished the 50 miler. If you haven't guessed from the sentences above, it took me 13 hours 41 minutes and 46 seconds. I've struggled with the best way to sum up my experience, it's likely little bits and pieces of it will continue to trickle out through future blog posts. For the purpose of this post I'm going to take a page from one of my favorite podcasts; This American Life.

Each blog post I choose a theme and bring you stories on that theme. Today's theme; 13 hours 41 minutes and 46 seconds.

Act 1: The little things. Over the course of 50 miles the little things add up.

Act 2: The fight. What happens when the brain, body, and stomach get into a fight?

Act 3: I get by with a little help from my friends. It's takes a village to finish a race, and sometimes a little rolling rock.

ACT I - The Little Things

This wasn't my first race. It wasn't my first ultra. It wasn't even the first time I was faced with spending many many hours out in the hot sun on my feet having to perform athletic awesomeness. Good performance is about nutrition, hydration, mental toughness, and physical preparedness and ability. I had all of these for the race. I had my go to nutrition - Gu gels as well as countless other things in my drop bags to supplement at aid stations. I had my go to hydration - salt bills and water mixed with HEED enduralite powder which packed electolytes as well as 300cal of per serving. I had mental toughness - I've been through enough shitty training runs and races to know I could get through a lot to finish. I had trained, I had worked for this. I was ready. Then things started happening...

It started out small. I tried to pass someone on a flat section at the beginning of the course and took a fall. Nothing major, but I had scraped my knee up good and could feel some soreness in my knees and ankle.

I stuck to my one Gu an hour plan and at about mile 8/10 I was ready to down my second Gu - strawberry banana. I ripped open the package and started oozing it into my  mouth and had the immediate reaction of wanting to vomit. I managed to choke the rest of it down, but it was brutal.

I made it to the mile 10.1 Homestead aid station and had Becca and Andy fill my waterbottle with HEED. It had some other HEED already in it, a different flavor, but I didn't really care much what it tasted like. I took off for Buffalo Creek aid station and my first drop bag stop.

I tried my third gu, it took my 20+ minutes to finish it, dribble by dribble into my mouth. Ugh...why did it make me want to puke?

The climb between mile 16 and mile 22 was tough, lots of walking. Lots of stomach pains. Not a lot of food/fuel.

I decided that the HEED was no longer working for me, I ran the section between mile 22 and mile 31.9 with only water and the food I managed to eat at the Rolling Creek Aid station (some watermelon, a piece of a candy bar, a part of a banana).

It was all those things, added up, that caught up to me from mile 31.9 on. The lack of fuel intake while running made it hard to find the energy to go faster. Since I was going slower, it also meant it took longer to get to aid stations where I was able to intake fuel. Can you see the pattern? I was unable to eat I know that had a huge impact on me, especially later in the race. I hadn't planned on having to come up with an alternative to fueling on the go, Gu has never given me trouble before. The HEED thing was weird too, I had done a lot of training runs with different mixtures and it always gave me  confidence that I was getting in calories through hydration. Not being able to ingest the two things I've always counted on was rough and it hurt me at the end of the race. I'm sure, looking at my splits, the  steep decline as soon as the lack of proper fuel kicked in was monumental.

ACT II - The fight.

Let me give you an taste of what my body, mind, and stomach were going through during the race in the form of a dialogue.

Stomach - Yeah, so I don't like what you're putting in me so if it's ok with you I'm just going to hurt here until it's gone.
Body - Well, we had an agreement Stomach. I'd put things in you and you'd turn it into energy so I could work.
Stomach - I know, but I changed my mind on what you can put in me. I want pickles right now and nothing else.
Mind - I'm trying to ask for pickles, but different words are coming out of my mouth.
Mind - oh, I got it, "Pickles, I need PICKLES". - what there are no pickles left? Oh...
Stomach - well I guess I could eat a banana and some chips, but it's pretty lame.

Body - Everything hurts a lot
Mind - well we need to keep going. This section is flat we should run
Body - nah, I've set everything on cruise control at an 18 minute mile so we're just going to do that for the rest of the race.
Mind - but the time cut-offs, we need to make the cut-offs!
Body - yep, 18 minute mile, ONE SPEED FOR EVERYTHING
Mind - I can override your system and make the legs go faster
Body - pretty sure you can't, I put a block on that, you no longer have control over your legs
Mind - I want ice, why do I keep saying salt?

Body - I have to pee
Mind - really, again?
Body - I have to pee NOW
Mind - ok, ok, go pee
Body - I forgot about the chaffing.

Mind - I don't know if I can finish
Body - well I'm just going to keep moving forward whether you tell me to or not
Mind - I don't know if I'll make the cut-offs
Body - ok we can try to go a little faster sometimes, stomach can you send me something?
Stomach - .....
Body - Stomach are you there?
Stomach - fu

Mind - There's .4miles to go, we're running
Body - fine
Stomach - fu

ACT III - I get by with a little help from my friends.

It literally took a village for me to finish this race. It took three friends and one dog to get me to and from the race. Of which I'm so thankful for. Kate, Spencer, Jimmy, and Atila can tell you what sorts of trouble they can get into for 13 hours 41 minutes and 46 seconds. The aid station people gave me food, ice, comfort, a chair. But more so they gave me something to look forward to every 4-6 miles. Knowing that I was one stop closer to actually stopping. Even if they ran out of pickles. Ryan had a beer for me at mile 46.2. At that was amazing, also because he had a chair for me to drink it in. I did drink it, only about 1/4 of it. But it was a delicious, cold Rolling Rock. Liz made sure I ate food at the aid station, even though I didn't want to. She gave me a hunk of some weird candy bar and the whole aid station cheered me on as I climbed back out and on with the race. Janice the race coordinator at the finish. Despite being the 2nd to last person to finish the race, they cheered with what I can only imagine was the same enthusiasm as when the first person crossed the finish line. And then she hugged me. Sweaty, tired, emotional wrecked me.

Erin - without whom I don't think I could finish it. I didn't know Erin until I met her at Mile 22. She joined me at mile 31.9 and spent some very intimate time with me for the next 6 hours. She went from being a friend of Liz who was interested in pacing, to someone who I couldn't live without. She put up with my brain refusing to work and freaking me out, my mood swings of optimism to crabby, and anything weird that my body was going through at any given moment which was a lot. We talked, we cheered when we saw a trail sign, we joked about obsessive compulsive tendencies like counting steps, and there was no question in my mind I wanted her to cross the finish line with me at the end.

Epilogue - Dehydration is a horrible

I thought I was in ok shape the day after the race. I had trouble eating breakfast, but I felt ok. Drank a few beers, took a nap, watched soccer. I was sore and just assumed that was that. Then I was flung into a pit of horribleness. I referred to myself as the walking dead for the next week. I was not prepared for the late onset dehydration, which Erin informed me can come on 2-3 days after a race. It was like I had the flu, without the comfort of knowing how to treat it or when it would end. I was chilled, I even have a small burn on my foot from putting a bottle of hot water on my skin to try and warm it up.  I had weird fever thoughts when I tried to go to bed at night. I couldn't think straight, I couldn't speak well or articulate my thoughts, and I couldn't eat. I managed to get down a bowl of ramen type noodles thanks to Dan and Allison and a couple vitamin waters. I'm happy to report that things are much better. Everything except for the food part. I've managed to start eating some more meals, but it's sad to not be able to eat normally like I am used to and love to. It's improving, but just at a slower rate than I want.

Will I ever do it again? - Time will tell. I will say that this was an awesome race, well organized, well put on, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to attempt it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

NorthFork 50 preview

When I first started writing a couple years ago I never really thought I'd get to the day where I'd be doing final prep for my first 50miler.

You paid money to run 50 miles?
It seemed like such an abstract thing that would happen in the future at some point, not something that was going to happen this Saturday at 7am. The realness of it all sunk in this past weekend as I prepared a novel length email for my friend Kate who is schlepping me to and from the race. I calculated estimated times for aid stations in case she wanted to catch me on the course and then it hit me, come Saturday I'd be actually doing it.

This past weekend was a flurry of errands. Here's what I got:

  • 12 gels (10 Gu brand, 2 Honey Stinger fruit smoothie because they are delicious)
  • 6 packs of gu chomps various flavors some with caffeine
  • smokey tempeh (for protein in my drop bag)
  • salmon jerky (for protein in my drop bag)
  • a cheap watch (because I lost my other one)
  • KT tape - I don't know if I'll use it or not, but it was on sale at Target
  • gallon zipper close plastic baggies
  • blister bandaid strips
  • sunscreen.

I wanted to have something to look forward to eat in my drop bags. Unfortunately it's tough when you're at an aid station and the only protein options is turkey or peanut butter. I've eaten tempeh "bacon" during ultimate tournaments before it provided the right amount of salty, chewy, protein that I needed. I figured it'd be worth a shot and I don't really  need to worry about keeping it cold. I've got a couple other things on my list to get but I put a good dent on Saturday.

Unfortunately my body is rebelling against me right now and I'm trying to fight off the early stages of a cold (stuffy nose, scratchy throat etc). I purchased some zinc tablets and some throat lozenges and have been pounding those and Vitamin C, here's hoping for a full recovery before Saturday.

I went through the race website and put together all the info regarding elevation, turn by turn navigation, course map, estimated times etc. I'm going to make a pace card for myself to show me at each aid station what the estimated time should be for a 10hr race (ohhh how ambitious!) a 12hr race (the goal) and a 14hr race (the cut offs). I figured a 10hr estimation would give me some motivation or remind me to slow down a bit if I'm going to fast. Also I want to make sure I can actually spend some time in the aid stations so this give me an idea of when I need to be heading back out on the course.

Course Thoughts

I've been able to run a few sections of the course now which will be a big help. In total I've run about 38 miles of the 50mile course. There are some good climbs, but nothing compared to what you see at Quad Rock. The total elevation gain is 7,350 feet over the course of the race.  Here's what it looks like:

So pretty consistent up and down with a long downhill at the end. The race is almost entirely on single track with a few "service road" type sections that don't take up too much of the course. I remember the downhills being really fast and fun and I can't wait to stretch out my legs on them. Ideally I will have run a smart enough race I'll be able to run the section between the Meadows (miles 22.3 through 31.9) and final downhill. The climb from Buffalo Creek to Homestead isn't crazy steep, but it's long and I remember feeling tired doing it during the last training run.

There's some pretty hot, exposed sections of the course due to the two large wildfires that cut through the area in the past. I've been warned by a lot of past runners that these sections are hot, long and brutal. Especially during the heat of the day. I haven't settled on exactly how I am going to handle these sections, but I have some thoughts.

  • A hat, I'm going to wear a hat, probably for most of the race. 
  • A camelbak, I never got a fancy new hydration pack, but I've been running with the trusty camelbak for awhile now and it's been fine. I thought about just doing a water bottle since the aid stations are close enough to refuel, but I'd rather have more water, maps, food then needed and the extra water can be doused on my hat and put on my head for a quick cook down.
  • Bandannas, I am thinking of packing some in the drop bags to dunk in water at aid stations or put ice in if they have it to get through some hot sections.

Temps are looking good for the day, the high is 74 and the low is 46. There are no storms predicted, but it's Colorado so it will for sure rain/thunder/hail at some point during the race. Perhaps I'll get lucky and it will be on another part of the course, or perhaps I will get lucky and the rain will come as I run through the burn areas. I'm also packing a lot of salt pills and will be taking those often.

Additional Gear thoughts:

I am still figuring out what to wear on race day. I've really enjoyed my new patagonia shorts, their pockets are good and they  have a nice back pocket which my old ones do not. I do think it would be wise not to try and shove M&Ms in the butt pocket despite their thick candy shell.

I think you're brain has a thick candy shell
I bought some additional icebreaker shirts/tanks and will likely pack a tank in one of my drop bags but start out wearing a shirt and probably arm warmers if it is in the low 40s at the start time. I am going to pack in my camelbak or in my drop bags the following:

  •  a jacket 
  • ankle brace
  • long sleeve
  • extra socks
  • winter hat
  • gloves 
  • maybe pants. I highly doubt I'll need pants, but it's better to have them in a drop bag just in case.

So really, my ultimate goal for this race is to finish. It's my first 50miler and crossing the finish line will be the best thing ever. I'm sure I'll be all weird and emotional when I get to the paved path around the lake at the very end, knowing that I can stumble into the finish. Finishing will be huge, really that's the biggest and most important goal for me.  I do have some secondary goals:
  • Finish in 12 hrs. I think with my training this is doable. If I feel good I see no reason why I can't make this happen
  • Focus on my self and not get distracted. As we'd say on Molly Brown "IRRELEVANT", I'm going to focus on me, running, food and liquids. I am not going to worry about other runners or other people on the course and just be there because ultimately it's my two legs that will do the race.
  • Not throw-up. I don't like throwing up and that just sounds really unpleasant.
  • Drink a beer at the last aid station - Andy Jung said he'd have a cold one waiting. Hopefully by completing this goal I won't fail at the preceding goal.
  • Be proud of myself, no matter what happens I'm proud that I took on this challenge.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Getting rid of setbacks, it's ok to divert

Life is full of things that get in the way of the plan, or sometimes even things that completely blow your plan up into little pieces. Thankfully for me my most recent occurrence is the former and not the latter, but it can still be frustrating.

Against my better judgment, as the start of any good story begins, I played ultimate last week. I was at a tryout for a team called Mesteno and stupidly rolled my ankle.

I say "stupidly" because I didn't roll it doing something awesome. I did it after I stopped and went to turn around to go back in line. I have pretty loose ankles, but I felt a pop as it happened. I immediately felt pain, hobbled over to the sideline and put it up with ice. The ice in this case was an ice block and a Tecate compliments of Tower. Tower made me drink the Tecate that was on my foot later, which I was ok with.

I rested a bit and then my next stupid decision was to go out and play more. It actually felt ok. I could "feel" it, but it wasn't hurting me to do normal frisbee motions. I iced more when I got home and did the typical athelete self diagnosis of looking up "how to treat a rolled ankle" on the internet. From my research I think I have a mild sprain. There wasn't significant swelling, but there's a little bruising. So ice, arnica, and rest. I'm not going to lie, it hurt the next day, but at least it didn't really look any worse.

It's been almost a week now and I'm happy to report that things are doing better in the ankle department. I purchased a beefy ankle brace for future ultimate endeavors which, if anything, puts my mind at ease. I went on a long training run on Saturday (22miles) at the race course and it felt fine. There were little pains here and there, but nothing more than the usual. The run allowed me lots of time to think about what happened is I realized that I hate the term "setback".

I don't like the word setback. On face value it oozes negativity. Hearing setback makes me immediately think,  "it's going to set you back and that's bad". In reality, training is full of things that divert you from the exact plan; weather, sickness, injury, or forgetting your shoes. When something happens that disrupts training it's too easy to focus on the negative and what happened. It's most important to focus on what you can do in the moment and in the future. On Molly Brown we talked a lot about relevance/irrelevance, or things we have control over and things we don't. Being able to separate it out and realign your focus into what you can do in that moment means you're thinking with a forward motion in mind. It's irrelevant to focus on rolling my ankle, it is relevant for me to focus on how to protect it in the future and how I can heal myself to get out and start running again. Dwelling on it as a setback only focuses on what happened. I would rather focus on what can I do next.

The word setback immediately sounds like focusing on the past, or focusing on something I cannot change. Even saying the word implies the past. I can't change that I hurt my ankle, but I can focus on what to do today and tomorrow to continue to prepare for my race. So I took a day off, I kept icing, I bought a brace, then I put socks on, laced up my shoes, and ran.

Rolling my ankle caused me to modify my training for a few days, but there are countless other things that have done that throughout the course of my running career. Saying setback means I can't move forward, but acknowledging that sometimes things disrupt your training gives you the control to keep moving forward. Therefore I don't see this as a setback, I just see it as training. Just as a thunderstorm keeping you inside for the afternoon, or a deadline at work that has to get done when you're training for a race it's all part of the package. Maybe that's why training programs are so long, because we all know that at least once or twice you're week plan is going to get thrown and you have to adapt.

*I'm less than a month out from race day!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Quad Rock re-cap

I have so many awesome things to say about this race and have struggled keeping it concise and interesting. I think the biggest take away I have from the race is improvement. In running sometimes it's hard to see your improvement when each training run blends into the next. Races are great, especially repeating races, because you have a quantifiable time to tell you if you've improved or not. This year I feel like I had that tangible "heck yeah you're getting better at running" moment and an intangible "you're figuring out what you need to do in a race" moment.

The tangible...

The most exciting part about this race for me was beating my time from last year by 32minutes! I finished
with a time of 5:37:58. I cannot tell you how surprised I was to see that time when I came into the finish. This finish gave me a huge confidence boost in regards to the 50 miler, knowing I can conquer such a tough course and do it so much faster than I even planned was awesome.

My finish time is also the most concrete way I can communicate to people outside of the running community how I've improved. Trail running and trail races are difficult to explain to the outside world. Road races, for the most part, have set times that allow you to judge how fast of a runner you are. It's also easier to relate to someone who has done some races. You finished the marathon in under 4 hours is easy to relate to. Trail running depends so much on the trail, the weather, the elevation. You can run one in 5hours, the next can take you 7. So being able to say I took 32 minutes of my time is easier to grasp than I finished in 5:37.

It was awesome to have such a concrete symbol of all the hard work I've put in the last few years and it makes some of those really horrible training runs finally seem worth it. I would have been happy to finish with the same time as last year, but it tastes a little sweeter knowing I kicked last years time in the butt.

The intangible...  

Here's how race day started for me. I got up at 3:30am to make coffee and eat a burrito. I took a selfie with a stuffed tiger named Raja, packed up my bags and headed to Liz and Becca to carpool to the start. We got to the start with plenty of time and with rockstar parking. Quickly I realized I left an entire bag of post race clothing along with my head sweatband, various hats, and watch back in town. There was no chance we could go back and get it so I had to forget about it and move forward. I was more worried about managing my food/fuel without a watch but had to rest of the fact that I could judge when I needed to eat based on the aid stations

The beginning of the race is about 2 miles of flat mostly dirt road to spread out the crowd. I didn't think much about where I was in the pack and just tried to use that time to wake up my legs and get warmed up for the first climb. The first climb put me right in the middle of a big pack of people. This is where I made the best decision I think I made all race (and in my running career) - to walk. I didn't realize it at the time, but making a strategic decision is something I never really thought about in regards to improving myself as a runner.

I'm a slow walker, I usually justify running as much as I can because I believe my walk is even slower. However, with the 50 miler in my  mind, I thought practicing walking fast uphill wouldn't be such a bad plan. I didn't have a watch to gauge my time, but I was in the middle of a pack going uphill on single track so now was as good of time as any to give it a try. I employed this tactic throughout the rest of the race. Walking anything that was steep enough to make me resort to my tiny slow uphill run/shuffle. I committed myself to do the walking fast, with larger steps, and if I could to keep up with someone ahead of me.

This seemingly small insignificant decision translated into a huge victory. My legs did not implode after 3 hours or at mile 16 - 18 like usual. My legs actually felt great. I had some moments of knee soreness which usually goes away after I finish running downhill but I did not suffer from any tightness in my IT bands, quads, hamstrings, or shins. I also had zero chaffing, which is a miraculous feet unto itself.

I'd like to give a special shout out to my friend Donny (aka Donald Roguelstein) for some advise he gave the bearded wonder during his 100 miler on walking fast: concentrate on using your arms and really swinging them to push your legs up the hill. Whenever my legs felt tired I focused on moving my arms and before I knew it I was up the hill.

In the past forgetting my watch and all my stuff would have taken a mental toll on my for the race and I could have easily rested on that mistake as a reason I didn't do well, or felt poorly, or finished slower. Instead I put it in the "irrelevant" box in my head and ran. It's hard to measure or show that improvement because it was a lot more than a number like 5:37 or 32 to me. My improvement as a runner has gone beyond just getting faster and stronger. I feel like I'm smarter and more strategic about what I need to do to feel good in a race and can let the other stuff roll off me if it won't help me keep putting one foot in front of the other.

*a quick note on my leg injury. It's doing well, I didn't get stitches, but I'll have a gnarly scar I'm sure. It happened near the end of the race so it was a lot easier to just suck it up and finish rather than worry about it or look at it. I looked at it once and it almost made me puke so I tried to ignore it. Trail's not if you fall it's when.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Quad Rock Preview

This weekend is the Quad Rock 25/50 in Fort Collins. I'm doing the 25 miler for the 3rd year in a row. Right now the weather is looking to be pretty amazing, 72 and clear. Perfect drinking beer after running weather. Again I'm going into a race feeling so/so about my training. I haven't put in the longer trail runs that I would like, but I have been running a lot so hopefully that translates well.

Looking ahead for this race I'm looking back at a training run I did a couple weekends ago with the North Fork 50 people. We did a 16.3mile section of the 50 mile course. The course felt great, although the climbs are no where near what we see at Quad Rock. I'm still experiencing the 3hr leg implosion and I'm debating about how to approach it for this race. Since I know it's coming and I know I can get over it (I managed to bust through that wall at Salida so I think I can do the same here) I'd like to do everything I can to either get over it quicker or lessen the pain. I am going to continue to push nutrition and salt pills early and often. It's so tempting to wait an extra 10/20 minutes to do a gu when you're feeling good and don't want to stop running or slow down to fiddle with the packaging. I recently purchased a new supplement for my water that has 300 calories in it. I used it for my training run and it didn't have an obvious impact. I'm going to bring some to mix into my water thoughout the race, but I don't want it to get in the way of my hydration since you're supposed to alternate between this mix and straight water. Perhaps the biggest thing I can do is actually stretch/roll the night before. I am so bad at doing this and it really should be something I do on a daily basis. Especially after I play ultimate. My sprint/climb muscles are what specifically hurt and get tight at the 3hr mark and it's probably because I don't do enough on my off time to take care of them. I'm trying to do a little bit of stretching and rolling the week leading up to the race.

All in all I'm excited to get out of the city and run a race! It feels like the Salida Marathon was so long ago. I'm also psyched to add to my race t-shirt collection and coffee mug collection :). Here are my goals for this race:

1. Finish close to my time from last year.

I'd like to be right at the 6hr mark again. Depending on how I feel I could try and push it to get under 6 hours, but that will be a game time decision. Right now I'm happy to run it about the same as last year since my focus for this season is the 50 miler and this is just a well aided training run.

2. Minimize chaffing

Yeah, running isn't glamorous ok... I have body glide, but sports bras are stupid. I am going to super glide up and see if that doesn't help. I'm also going to get a new running bra and see if that helps.

3. Learn

It's easy to get wrapped up in the race and you might miss some valuable piece of information that will help you in your next run. I'm going to try and not just survive each moment, but learn more about what I need to get me through the long hall. That includes noting pains, weaknesses, stomach issues, energy issues, feelings of of strength, and my overall outlook of the race as I go through it. The benefit of races such as Quad Rock is you have a lot of time to think out on the trail, it's not uncommon to be alone on the trail for a mile or miles and while the views can knock your socks off I hope that I pay more attention to myself and my running.

I'm feeling optimistic about my speed since I got my hair cut. That has to shave 10-20 seconds off my time right? I am a little worried about what to do with it. I am so used to putting it up in a braid and now I cannot even put it in a pony tail. Fashion aside...I'm always worried about minimizing distractions and things that make me feel uncomfortable while I race so I need a solution that will keep it out of my face. I have 4 days to figure it out....

I'll check in with a race re-cap. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

running without a rope

*I had a really hard time with this post. It's been rewritten so many times I finally just decided to throw it out there.

Molly Brown spent a lot of time on the mental game of Ultimate. To help we asked Scott Gurst to give occasional talks to our team about training your mind. I love all of his talks, I've heard a lot of them several times, yet each time I find something new to ponder or implement in my life; both in ultimate and beyond. One of his talks is about fear and "climbing without a rope" and it seems even more relevant to me at this stage in my running career and life.

sometimes ropes are helpful when river crossing

In rock climbing there's a style of climbing called "free soloing". It basically means you climb without the aid of a rope. If you want a more in depth description you can google-fu it. There is no room for error, all you can do is climb up. If you read impressions from free climbers you'll hear similar assessments of the challenges. The difficulty is not the physical challenge of climbing, but the mental difficulty of staying focused. With a rope you have something to catch you, a safety net in case things go wrong. What do you do when that net is gone?

Running solo is less risky than free-soloing but there are more similarities then you would expect. I think one of the biggest ones is the idea of letting go and just running. It's easy, especially when you're feeling fatigued or frustrated during a race, to stop the free rhythm of running and focus on everything else. You start to think about your past training, your food intake, your pace, your clothing choice, how long you've been running, how much longer you will have to continue running. While there is a time and a place for some thought (nutrition, pace, and clothing), the rest is stuff you cannot change and therefore need to push it out of your head. It's really hard to stay focused and not let your mind wander to things that hint at failure. You can't worry about your training because you're there, you're running. The best thing you can do is just keep running. If you don't just believe you'll be able to run uphill forever then it's easy to just want to give up on running that hill in the first place.

Another similarity I see is the concept of being solo. Running, in itself, is a solo event. It makes sense, your mode of transport is you. If someone is carrying you, it's not really running. Do they have marathon piggy-back races? But many runners will tell you that the act of running is often a very social experience. We depend on each other for motivation, for intel on trail conditions, or for an extra gu when we've run out. Although we runners pride ourselves in the self-propelled nature of our sport, running solo is often a scary thing.

Not piggy back, but I doubt Eric would have carried me around the whole tournament
I start running, really running, 8 years ago. For the entire time I've had the same running partner. Having someone else to depend on to make decisions on where to run, what to wear, what to eat, when to eat, even what shoe to buy was a pretty secure rope and safety net. Someone to complain about the weather to, to share in the misery with, to celebrate a good run with, and to drink a beer post run with. If I failed it wasn't really my fault since I didn't make any decisions without his input. If we got lost on a trail I had someone to blame. I didn't have to just go out and run and see what happened, I depended on a safety net to guide me to what I needed to do. It was really nice to not have to make decisions, all I had to do was show up. It was also nice to know there was someone right there who know exactly what you were going through. Plus, everyone knows a celebratory beer tastes much sweeter with friends. Now that I'm running without a rope I have to make all the decisions.

Ok, I admit, that sounds a little overly dramatic. Yes I can still ask people about trails, I can still go running with people, I can probably still bum food off of people if need be. But there is a sense of loneliness when you start venturing out on runs on your own. You lose that safety net and it's easy to say no to a challenging run or route. A safety net, which could be a running partner or even a familiar route/trail, allows us to stop focusing on our individual goal and the motivation to challenge ourselves can be lost. I was in charge of my own training now, coupled with a race distance that is completely new to me, so I had to figure out on my own how to approach it. It is way too easy to bail out and skip a new run or a new running partner.  But I didn't sign up for a race to bail out, I signed up to work towards running 100 miles.

So how do we move forward? How do we run without a rope? Scott Gurst shared another important piece of advice during this talk, borrowed for the author/athlete John Bringham. Bringham wrote a book called "The Accidental Athlete" and in it he wrote:

"We never know what is going to be our last best day. the race that turns out to be our last best day can't be recognized in the moment, it can be seen only in retrospect."

You never new what race will be your best, your peak, until after it's happened. If we continue to run and train with a bail out, a rope, we might never reach our goal and run the risk of looking back at our running career with a lot of missed chances. This doesn't mean go out and try to win every trail run and race, but if you move forward always thinking that you can save it for the next run or the next race, there might not be one. Maybe you'll get hurt, maybe life will happen and you can't sign up for a race. I look back at my ultimate career and wonder was 2012 my last best chance at a nationals title? I probably won't know that for another few years, but I want to do whatever I can to not wonder that about running.

Looking at my training as an opportunity to put it all out for the next race, so if it is my last best chance, I know I put it all out there. This helps overcome the fear of failure or the unknown. If Quad Rock is my last best chance to run that race well, then I'm going to put in the work leading up to it. That means planning on some good hard trail runs to get ready for it, packing my own food, bringing my own water, and double tying my own trail shoes. Luckily I know there will be some awesome people at the finish line ready to imbibe in that celebratory beer with me.

Was 2013 my last best chance for ultra running? I don't think so. I've just dipped my toe into this field and I'm excited about all the strides I've made thus far. It's scary to go at it alone without a veteran ultra runner by my side all the time, but sometimes that rope can also be a weight that holds you back from your real potential. The weight has been shed, the rope is gone, whether I was ready for it or not and there's no where to go but up.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Salida recap

I didn't realize he took the picture until it was too late.
Final time: 5:32:53

Well the first marathon of the season is in the bag and my body is telling the tale and likely will be for awhile. There's no getting around it, this was the toughest marathon I've done. I experienced a lot more discomfort and pain during this race then in any of my other races - the 50k included. Here's my assessment on specific parts of the race for me:


I actually feel like I did pretty well on the nutrition front. I think that played a big part in me being able to finish semi-strong and keep my time similar to last year. I ate a lot more gu then I have in the past. Largely to do with the Honeystinger fruit smoothie gu, it was so delicious! That aside, I felt like I had good energy, it was other parts of my body that broke down. I kept my salt pill intake up, but could have probably done a bit more near the end. As the tendency in races, you start to forget about good nutrition intake near the end because you rationalize that you just need to get to the end and it's so close. In retrospect, I think I should have kept my gu/salt pill intake going in the last 7 miles. My water intake was good and I was fully hydrated using a mix of water and Acclimate. On a final note, the M&Ms at the last aid station helped me power through the last two miles of downhill and for whatever reason I saved a cookie in my pocket from mile 8ish until later in the afternoon while watching TV. Tower was jealous.


Yeah, I didn't train enough for this race. I did train enough to finish the race and power through some pretty painful moments. But I did not do enough long runs to keep the pain monsters at bay after about 3 hours. Which, coincidentally, was the longest duration of running I did leading up to the race. I'm pleased that my past experiences and overall badassness overcame this deficiency enough to keep me in the same time bracket as last year. However I would like to see what I can do next year combining all of that with dedicated training.

Pain threshold

They say women have a higher pain threshold than men. Maybe that's true, maybe it's not. But I learned a lot about my pain threshold over 5 and a half hours and I passed a couple dudes in the last 3 miles so maybe that says something. Here is a run down of what hurt:

  • Ankles/Achilles/shins. This felt more like an impact related pain response. Which makes sense, when you are pounding on your legs for that long things get sore. I am surprised that I haven't felt that more in the Quad Rock race which has way more punishing descents. I do think more overall running will strengthen this area up over the next few months and I'm not too worried about it.
  • Hamstrings/Quads. Pretty obvious that these things hurt. Just your typical soreness, but I definitely felt them for a lot longer during this race then in previous races. Again I point to not enough long run training. I also experienced a lot of Quad fatigue and that made other muscle groups work a lot harder throughout the race.
  • IT Bands. Holy cow, I have not experienced this level of pain in a race before. Usually after a race or a hard frisbee tournament I get the usual tightness/soreness. But this go around I felt them starting at mile 13 and pretty much on and off the rest of the race. It was physically difficult to move my legs forward because of the pain. I actually think a contributing factor to this was playing ultimate the Thursday before the race. Although I wasn't playing 100%, there was some sprinting, and quick changes of direction which are all the things that contribute to my IT Bands hurting. So in the ultimate 2 days before a race.
  • Knee. Ugh, my knee gives me trouble in every race. It's something that I've just gotten used to, but it still hurts just the same. I don't know much more that I can do about it except for just dealing with it. It hasn't hurt so badly that I've been sidelined in either running or ultimate so I'm calling it a symptom of being old.
  • Pelvis. (Insert some lame sexual innuendo joke here). This was a new one. I have never had my pelvis hurt while running and it didn't hurt so much during the run, but after and through the next day. My theory on this pain is related to the IT Band and Hamstring/Quad pain. Because of the fatigue in my muscles and the tightness in my IT Bands, other muscle groups were working to keep my legs powering forward. I feel like I've gotten a stronger core over the last few weeks, but this race required me to activate muscle groups I haven't had to depend on as much in the past and I felt it.
Mental toughness

There are a few things that contribute to finishing a race and Mental Toughness is just as important as physical ability and proper nutrition. I was feeling pretty bummed near the end and had to give myself several pep talks to keep going. Thankfully, when those pep talks were not working, Abby (an amazing ultra runner) came bounding past me and kept me going through the hardest part of the race. She's been having her own running woes and to see her push through it and encourage me to keep going helped me climb out of the abyss of miles 20-24 and let gravity do the rest for the final 2 miles. 

I'm proud of myself for pushing through the pain and frustration to finish the race. Realistically my time is much better than it probably should have been, and for that I have been physically paying the price for the last few days.


Marathons are hard. If they were easy they'd call them 5ks (am I right? hahahaha). Anyways, long distance racing is tough and there are a lot of factors in play that lead to success. I'm really proud of the other runners who were out there running and killing it. There were some PRs and that's awesome. When you feel good you feel good and just rip it. I'm thankful that I had to survive this challenge because it's only going to make me that much stronger when I tackle 50 miles in a few months. It's almost guaranteed that at some part of a 50 miler you're body is going to want to break down and quit and I'm thankful to know that I can at least get through 13ish miles of body breakdown to finish a race. So it's onward and upward. I predict many long training runs in the next month and a half as I prepare for Quad Rock.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Oh hi come here often?

Don't mistake a lack of posting for a lack or running. I've actually been putting in a lot of miles over the last few months just not a lot of typing. As the weather warms up it's about damn time I talk about running, hill repeats, snot rockets and beer.

There is some exciting news on the horizon race wise here is what my calendar is looking like for this running season:

Salida Run Through Time Marathon
Where: Salida, CO
When: this weekend! EEK!

This will be my second year doing the marathon and I'm pretty excited about it. Not because I'm prepared to run a super fast marathon (I have a surprisingly low number of really long runs on the books to prepare for it), but because I really like this race. It's a beautiful course (except for the road) and well put on. I'm also just really ready to get out there and run a race. What I've lacked in long runs I've made up for in hill repeats and consecutive running days. I'm hoping that this translates into something good. My time last year was about 5:32 so it would be great to get under 5:30. Honestly though, I'm just glad to get out and finish. And to eat a lot of M&Ms at the aid station.

Quad Rock 25
Where: Fort Collins, CO
When: May 10

After spending time on the wait list yet again I was just accepted into the race this week. I'm shooting for a faster time as I gear up for my big race of the season in June (more on that later). This is a really tough race and a great way to practice running on tired legs. I'm also hoping to nail down some of my hydration/nutrition stuff so I'm maximizing my energy output with my energy intake. My time last year was around 6 hours so I'm shooting for under 6.

Northfork 50miler
Where: Pine, CO
When: June 28

Yes you read the above correctly. I signed up for a 50miler! I felt like this was the year I wanted to do it. That and my friend Ryan (aka Wrong Way Ryan) scared me into thinking they had filled up before I made the decision prompting an early morning registration. I want to get a fast time in for Quad Rock so I can work on making sure I meet all the time cut offs for the 50 miler. This race is going to be a test mentally and physically and I am going to be so pumped to just finish it. I choose it specifically because I'm familiar with the trails and will have great support at one of the aid stations.

Additional races:

I'm looking at doing one other race in April. I'd actually like to do a fast road half marathon so I can build some confidence going into the rest of the spring. I've looked at the Platte River Buckhorn Exchange Half and an Xterra half in Colorado Springs. The Buckhorn exchange one is pretty pricey for a half ($70) but you do get a lot of food/beer at the end and a free light rail ticket back to your car in Littleton.

I'm also thinking about some fall races. I am leaning towards a year off from Molly Brown largely because of the 50 mile race. I love this team and this team deserves someone on the roster who can put in 100% from the get go. Realistically I won't be able to do that until July which puts me in a tight spot for tournament prep. I haven't ruled it out (I never do until the last minute), but if frisbee isn't in the cards for me this season I'm looking at some fun fall races. I may even convince my sister to run the Twin Cities Marathon!

Looking ahead:

As I gear up for another running season I'm looking forward to growing as a runner. This has been a side passion for mine for so long and it's about time I kick it into a higher gear. I'm at a place in my life where I can focus 100% on this passion and do it, as they say, on my own two feet. The support I've had in the past as been great, amazing actually, but I'm ready to go find my own trails to run and do it without chasing anyone else but my own goal. It's scary to think about taking on such big races on my own, but I think I can do it.