Thursday, 20 October 2016 00:47

Recovering From Brazos Bend 100 Pacing

Having just completed pacing at Brazos Bend 100 where everything was flat and I had to adjust to using the same muscles repeatedly, I’m starting to think about recovery and how I can best prepare for my next set of races. The Bandera 100k (pacing a superb athlete), and Rocky Raccoon 100 (shooting for sub 19 hours) are are going to be extreme iwith varying terrain and lots of speed, and they get me thinking about how I want to avoid past mistakes I’ve made in my recovery.

 

I was 10 days post Ironman Louisville and I may have made one mistake on my way to being properly recovered. What was that mistake? Deciding to ride 40 miles on the Saturday after the race was not a big deal. Was the problem that I rode my CX bike, which has knobby tires, so pushing the pedals takes a bit more energy? Nope, it was going out to run trails the next day. I thought I was running 5-6 miles, but wound up at 8 and on a humid day. That was not smart. When you combine those two items you end up with a body that isn’t fully recovered.

 

Fortunately for me, I was smart enough to have recognized that problem and did nothing other than sleep in, swim, and jumped on the trainer to allow my legs to spin as I recovered. To that end, I was asked about preparing and recovering from an Ironman race or even a 100-mile ultra trail run. These are my tips.

 

Nutrition:

The focus on nutrition is a key for me regardless of race prep or not, but during the week before and two weeks after a race, my focus on nutrition is on high alert. I focus on lean proteins such as eggs, tofu and tempeh. I try to get those into every meal so that I am healing my body from the inside out, repairing muscle tissue that has been crushed during the race.I also add in lots of healthy fats in the form of nuts, beans, avocado, and of course the previously mentioned eggs. When I do this, I notice that my body repairs quickly.

 

When it comes to spicing up my food, I add turmeric and cinnamon as much as possible.

 

Inactivity / Rest:

Of course, I started by saying I made a mistake by getting too much in too soon, but the key to recovery and taper is inactivity. It is hard for athletes to sit around and just enjoy life, but I find that when I do that, I am healing my body heading into the race, as well as healing it coming out of the race. This rest also gives me an opportunity to do things that are not swimming, biking, and running. I get closer to family and friends, but it also allows me to not get burned out.

 

Sleep:

This should go without saying. Sleep is a key to relaxing the body and mind. It is during sleep that our body resets itself, and leading into the race, it may be difficult to get enough. However, when you come out of the race, sleeping in for an extra hour or two, plus naps, is essential. Without a structured training plan, sleeping in until 8a or 9a is golden. You can still get a 1 hour workout in and still be done by 12pm so that you have the whole day ahead off.

 

When it comes to sleep after the race, I pay a lot of attention to my sleep environment. Not only does having a comfortable mattress help with my recovery, but I make sure to turn mine because I like to have a 'fresh' mattress to sleep on. I also make the room very cold and dark. Lastly, I do not want to be distracted, so I turn the phone to Do Not Disturb and let the world go.

Published in Train

Rocky Raccoon 100 the 2016 version was not supposed to happen and what did happen was not supposed to happen. Thoroughly confused? Good, I will clear it up along the way from the start of the weekend through the final step across the finish line.

For those of you that may not know I registered for Coldwater Rumble 100 in Goodyear, Arizona without reading all of the words on their site. I wound up overlooking the fact that the race is not a Western States 100 qualifier and my long-term goal is to race the Western States 100. To do that I have to either win a qualifying 100 mile race OR keep racing qualifiers to gather lottery tickets along the way. After realizing that Coldwater was not a qualifier I had 3 choices:

  1. Race Bandera 100k two weeks prior to Coldwater and finish in under 16 hours. Bandera is one of only a few 100k races that are a Western States qualifier. Why?  Because it is freaking hard. Last year (2015 Race Report) I raced it and finished in under 13 hours so under 16 was feasible
  2. Pace Jeff at Rocky Raccoon 100 and give up this year's chance at a ticket and be the safety runner for Jeff if his lottery ticket were to be picked.
  3. Race Rocky Raccoon 100 two weeks after Coldwater and just finish.

When Bandera registration neared its close I realized I was in no mental shape to race that course or book a room, or drive to Bandera or anything to do with Bandera. Down to two choices and I presented them to Jeff allowing him to pick and hoping that he would choose option 2. Of course he chose option 3 without any hesitation and here I was pressing the register button on Rocky Raccoon 100 2016.

When I finished Coldwater my feel were blown up and I was so scared that I would DNF at Rocky Raccoon because the turn around time was so short and there would not be anytime to recover.

Pre Rocky Raccoon 100 2016

Here is the race report:

Loop 1 - Are We Going Too Fast?

Jeff, Greg and I lined up about 20 rows behind the starting line. I was very nervous about how my legs would hold up and beyond that how my mind would be able to sustain the concentration and positive mindset for another 100 miles. 100 mile races make me nervous despite this being my 4th attempt because there is so much uncertainty to them. Weather changes, body adjustments, blisters and everything else that can happen over the course of this long day.

We started out slow as the course is packed and is difficult to maneuver and in my mind I was thrilled with what was happening. When we hit the first aid station my confidence started to pick up but it really exploded when the next aid station was now only 2 miles away rather than 4-5 miles the way it previously was. Covering 5 miles and hitting two aid stations allowed me to break this race down into easier bits. The next aid station after was 7 miles and is typically the toughest 7 miles on the course but this year my mindset changed because I knew the aid stations were 3.5, 2, 7, 3.1 and 4.4 miles apart. Huge opportunity to break the race down.

In addition to that unfolding I realized that with the changes in the course it was much more runnable than it was the year prior. I found us doing a lot of running and would feel a twinge in my left ITB which had me worried about how it would hold up the entire race. At some points I could feel Jeff and Greg pulling away but a well timed hill forced them to walk and for me to catch up.

When we left the Park Road aid station I realized that we were only 4 miles away from completing loop 1 and this gave me a confidence boost plus knowing that there were at least 4 hills we had to walk and I could allow my barking ITB to quiet down. As we rounded the corner and headed down the path to the start/finish area I could see we were finishing in 3:34 and felt that was fast for what I had anticpated finishing that first loop and my mind turned to worry.

Finishing Loop 1 At Rocky Raccoon 100 2016

Loop 2 - Finishing On My Own

At the bag drop Karen helped me refill my hydration pack and asked me how I was doing. I told her my ITB was flaring up and was bothering me. I finished speaking to her, grabbed my FlapJacked Waffles and started walking. I told Greg and Jeff to catch me because I knew they were running strong and would have no problem getting up to me. Once they reached me we started running.

This time getting to the first aid station was more work as my left leg was acting up and tiring. I asked a volunteer for ibuprofen and when he poured out 4 then started to put two back in the bottle I stopped him and grabbed all 4. I took 2 and put the other 2 into my vest. Some hydration and we were off.

The running started to bother Greg's knees and we were walking a bit more than I expected. I shifted to a higher cadence as that seemed to help me get past the ITB issues. The next two miles went by fast and my spirits picked up (or was it the ibuprofen?) and I was feeling the ability to run again. The 7 mile stretch was tough but not impossible and before I knew it we were heading down a straight jeep road to the Park Road aid station.

When we got there I saw my wife, Karen, and my mile 80-100 pacer, Greg, and it was awesome. Jeff and Greg were stopping and I told them I was going to go on ahead and they would catch me. As it turns out I was able to run quite a bit here but not as much as I had thought I would be able to. I was being conservative with my leg and also knew that I was going to be finishing in under 4 hours. Having two loops done in under 4 hours coming off Coldwater two weeks earlier was a tremendous boost for me.

End Of Loop 2 - Rocky Raccoon 100

Loop 3- I Can Run

While I was finishing Loop 2 I realized that I had run out of liquid and was not smart enough to have filled up my pack at the last aid station. This meant that the transition time between loop 2 and 3 was going to be longer than normal as I wanted to put my two hydration bottles in my pack and then would need to top off with Tailwind from the aid station.

Once I was done getting all my liquids squared away along with eating Oreos and Pringles, I was headed back out for Loop 3 and I saw Jeff and Greg coming in.  I was shocked to see them this soon as I had expected them to catch me but when they did not expected to have a bigger lead on them. As we passed I said I would see them on the course. Having just run 60 miles by myself in Arizona I was mentally ready to tackle 20 on my own and off I went.

My legs started to feel much better and I found myself running all of the flats, descending aggressively and power walking up the hills. I took the other two ibuprofen just after I left the DamNation aid station the first time (you hit it twice per loop.) From there you are able to run a majority of the 3 miles before the timing mat. I was in shock how much I was able to run and not feel the tightness in my ITB. I did a mental body check and nothing was bothering me at this point.

It was just past the timing mat that I saw Jeff and Greg on the descending portion and expected to see them running next to me in a few minutes but that never materialized. I felt like a man on a mission and was running aggressively. Hit the DamNation aid station the second time around and picked up it on the way to Park Road. After Park Road I knew I had just 4 miles to get there and all of the sudden the 4 walking hills became three as I became possessed with finishing this loop and picking up Greg (Ninja) for my safety runner on Miles 60-80.

It's Ninja Time At Rocky Raccoon 100 2016

Loop 4- Let's Go Ninja

I asked Ninja to pace me AGAIN for miles 60-80 (he paced me last year) because I think that a 100 mile race on a 5 loop course is broken down as follows:

  • Loop 1 - Run hard but not so hard that you damage the rest of your race. Bank as much time as possible to provide ample time on loop 5.
  • Loop 2 - Stay aggressive but smart. Be cognizant of hydration and nutrition.
  • Loop 3 - Make Or Break against other racers. Others will kill themselves but by being passively aggressive you will pass them on Loop 4/5.
  • Loop 4 - Make Or Break for 24 Hours. If you have run the first three loop wisely, this loop can be another feather in your cap to sub-24.
  • Loop 5 - Relax. The end is near and sub-24 is on the horizon BUT be smart to not lose focus on finishing pace

When Ninja and I started he asked me what my goal was and I told him sub-24. I thought that having two sub-24 hour races two weeks apart was the accomplishment of a lifetime. He asked if there was a secret agenda and there was not. Let's just run and see what unfolds. Ninja is a great pacer because he knows the trails of Huntsville very well, is a Texas State Champion Trail Runner and knows how to direct. When we need to run he tells me, when we need to walk he tells me. He will run ahead of me and grab the liquids and foods I need.

As we neared the DamNation aid station the first time I told him to get me ibuprofen as a preventative measure. As he took off it lit a fire in my a$$ and I started running to. He got to the aid station and I was on his tail to the point that he had to wait to get the ibuprofen while I was eating. He opened the pack and there were 8 pills. I took 4 of them and he held the other 4. It was time to run but at this poitn the temperatures were dropping.

When you near the timing mat you are right on the lake and it is a very cold section. Greg happened to have a jacket wrapped around his waist that I put on and when my core temp heated up we were off and running. We ran so hard and so fast that we negative split Miles 70-80 in comparison to Miles 60-70. It was liberating to be running this hard and finishing the loop as strong as we did. The finish time of this loop was 4:14 while Loop 3 was 4:04. Yes, we were running.

Ninja Is Ready, But Am I?

Loop 5 - Do We Take It Easy?

As we entered the aid station Greg ran into the tent to grab me grilled cheese and quesadillas while I went to have Karen fill up my hydration pack and put the jacket on and have the hydration pack on the outside. I did some quick math and realized that I could finish in 22 hours with a decent Loop 5. My goal during Loop 4 switched from under 24 to beating CWR and now it was to be at 22.

Greg Brink, my Mile 80 - 100 safety runner, was ready to go and off we power walked the first hill and started running. I told him that I wanted to be smart and convservative here because I knew that sub-24 was in the bag even with a horrible Loop 5. We were chatting and laughing and having a good time. At the Nature Center aid station I asked him to remind me to take the other 4 ibuprofen pills that Ninja stuck in the pocket of his jacket at DamNation. We grabbed some TailWind and some Oreos/Pringles and took off. Running when we could and walking when we had to.

We hit the DamNation aid station and I went into the 'Med Tent' to switch out batteries in my headlamp and saw what could have been an episode of The Walking Dead. The temps had dropped to the mid-low 30s and people were freezing plus the fact that it was a 100 mile race. I had to get out of the tent as quickly as possible so as not to get caught up in the pain. I saw Greg and off we went for the last 7 mile stretch. After about 1 mile he reminded me about the ibuprofen and I told him that would happen at the aid station the next time and it was time to keep running.

We passed one of Greg's friends and then we passed another friend of mine and my confidence started soaring. I was having a damn great race and I told Greg we were going to just keep running and at certain points we were holding sub-10 minute paces. We were working and getting this race done. When we hit the DamNation aid station for the last time I took the last 4 ibuprofen and washed them down with a 1/4 cup of coffee because when you leave these tents the temperature feels like it drops 30 degrees.

After the coffee we were off and running. We were passing athletes left and right. I have never yelled on your left more in a race than I did in the last half of this race. I was pushing the pace and without a watch to rely on was just running on guts and feel and it felt GREAT.

The last aid station was an awesome sight. I grabbed some Tailwind and 1/2 a grilled cheese and we were gone. Again, the 4 hills that I walked on loops 1 and 2 and 3 became 3 as we were flying around the course. When we hit the bridge section I knew we only had one mile to go and that the last hill would be walked and then we were gone. I told Greg to text Karen that we were .75 mi out and by the time he finished sending that text we were 0.25 miles out and I started hauling ass. We make the left turn toward the finish line and Greg says to me: I have never finished a 5k this hard let alone running with a guy on Mile 199 of 200 in two week.

That finish line was glorious and I jumped over it and into the arms of my wife. I hugged her so hard that I nearly squeezed all the air out of her. I looked over to the finish time and saw 20:23. HOLY SH*T. I not only finished a second 100 mile race but did it in 3 hours less PLUS was only off my 2015 Rocky Raccoon time by 1 hour.

Greg Brink And I At The Finish Of Rocky Raccoon 100

It has taken about a week for this to set in and I still have a hard time understanding how I managed to pull this off. Of course, the blisters on my feet are reminding me but of all the athletic accomplishments I have achieved this ranks up there as one of the best. My ticket to the Western States 100 Lottery has been earned.

UNTIL NEXT YEAR ROCKY RACCOON 100 (UNLESS I GET INTO WS100)

Rocky Raccoon 100 - DONE

Published in Race Reports
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 20:41

Coldwater Rumble 100 - The Ups And Downs

Coldwater Rumble 100 was the third time I would step to the start line of a 100 mile race. It was also the third time that I was nervous, scared and excited about what was to unfold because the 100 mile distance is still a great unknown. My background is in triathlon and lately has been specific to the Ironman distance of 140.6.  The nerves I have at the start of those races are from how well I can race while the nerves at the start of a 100 mile ultra trail run are based on survival. I ask the question: Will I Make It? almost incessantly from the start line until I finish the first loop. Once I have completed that first loop I have a better idea of how my body is going to respond to the demands of the course.

Coldwater Rumble 100 turned out to be no different than the other two races when it started but it was most certainly different during and had me contemplating dropping out but thanks to terrific support from friends I kept my two feet moving. The following will be a recap of each loop and how I was feeling, what I was thinking and how I responded to the adversity.

Before we get into my race let me give you some background on Coldwater Rumble 100 istelf. This race is in its infancy as far as 100 milers is concerned so there is not much you can gain from reading race reports, and even if there were I would not read it because everybody's impression is different. The race takes place in Estrella Mountain State Park in Goodyear, Arizona which is just outside of Phoenix. The course goes through the desert and has approximately 8,500 feet of elevation gain (although I thought it was 6,500.) The course is 5x20 Mile loops with every other loop run in a counter-clockwise route. There is no shade and some sort of attacking cactus that I cannot remember the name of.

Get your popcorn ready because we are about to jump into the race recap:

Prior To Start And Loop 1: - The Holy Sh*t Look At Me Loop

When Jeff and I got to the race site and checked-in I could feel a bite in the air despite the 49* temperature. With no humidity the feel of the air was colder than I expected but I also knew it would warm up as the projected high was 73*. I decided to go with a compression shirt under a dri-fit t-shirt and arm sleeves. I wore CEP base shorts under my running shorts and a pair of CEP Merino wool compression socks. My trusty Hoka Challenger shoes and a baseball hat was what I was going to start with.

With only ~50 athletes starting the race there was no need to lineup too early so we sat in the car for a bit and stayed warm. Shannon, Tom and her son came by the car and we exchanged pleasentries about the race and then I headed to the start line. At the start I met a couple of people and then the count down was on.

Since it was dark at 7:00am I started the race with my headlamp and followed the other lights ahead of me until it was light enough out to take off. At the outset you begin by climbing and climbing and climbing. My immediate thought was that this was going to take longer than 24 hours to finish and was going to be very difficult. I tried to run my own race but you can get caught up in what the others are doing. After about 0.5 miles I decided I was going to walk so I could save my legs. Once you get past the first mile you can run and run I did. I caught up with another athlete and we ran for a bit. His name was Jeremy and he gave me some recon on the course since this was his third time at the event and he had a goal of sub-24 since the past two were over that.

Headlamps_Coldwater_Rumble_100

After Mile 5 I lost Jeremy and was now on my own. I saw two athletes ahead of me and I followed their footsteps. If they ran I ran, if they walked then I walked. We would play leapfrog with each other but what I noticed was that you can run from Mile 5 until the end fairly consistently. There was sand in some places and some hiking in others but overall it was runnable.

I finished Loop 1 in 3:37 and felt really good about the chances of breaking 24 hours. When you run marathons they tell you that you cannot bank time because you will burn out in the end. In ultra trail races I think the opposite is true. I think you can bank time and use it to your advantage and Coldwater Rumble was to prove that point.

Loop_2_Coldwater_Rumble_100

Loop 2: - The Almost DNF Loop

Loop 2 is counter-clockwise and starts with approximately 6 miles of running UPHILL. To be more precise it was walking uphill. I started loop 2 around 10:35am and the sun was out in full effect already but I did not take notice of it because there is no humidity and I did not feel myself sweating the way I do when I run in Dallas.

A few miles into the second loop I saw EMZ (Instagram Link) and told her I thought the course was harder than I expected and she gave me all the positive reinforcement she could and I was off to continue my climbing. A few miles later I saw Shannon and we wished each other well but I could tell that the energy was quickly leaving my body and I was doing my best to keep my feet moving. I reached an aid station and applied sunscreen and tried to keep up with my hydration and nutrition as best I could.

Some point during loop 2 I could feel my core getting sore and knew that was a serious sign of dehydration. I pee'd a couple of times but it was neon yellow and another sign that I was not drinking enough. Every downhill step caused a jolt in my back and core that felt worse than it should have been. I knew something was wrong but I never tried to correct and am still not sure why.

When I finished Loop 2 I saw Jeff and told him that I was dehydrated. Malia and Emily the same thing. They all told me to drink and that was the only thing I had to do for the entirety of Loop 3. At this point I was seriously considering a DNF but something told me to get through Loop 3 and that I would pick Jeff up for Miles 60-100. I finished Loop 2 in 4:28.

Loop 3: - The Revitalized Loop

This started off on not so good footing. I felt nauseous and was developing a headache. I saw Shannon a few miles into it and she asked how I was doing (at least that is what I think she asked) and I am not sure of my response but as we parted ways I felt a chill in my body and tears begin to well up because I thought I was going to crash on the course and not finish the race.

At some point during that moment with Shannon and getting to the first aid station my energy returned. I was drinking constantly and began eating oranges and dates. I started putting Gatorade/Water plus Salt in my hydration pack and before I knew it I was running and having to pee consistently.

In addition to feeling stronger, the way this loops lays out you can run and you can run quite a bit. I guess that I ran this loop about 85% of the time and finished in 4:41 but felt stronger than I did when I finished loop 2. Coming into the start/finish area I saw Jeff and he told me I looked much better. I warned him that we were about to embark on a 6 mile hike but I also knew that having company for the next 40 miles was invaluable.

There is something cleansing about running 60 miles in 12h42m solo but it is also very lonely especially when the sun goes down and there are less athletes on the course.

Loop 4: The Determining Loop

As we started on Loop 4 it was already 7:45pm and we calculated that we had 11h15m to finish and get in under 24 hours. We started to try to do that math on the minute per mile pace but with the hiking in the first 6 miles it was pointless because it was after that where you can gauge how much time you have and how hard you have to run.

We got past the worst 6 miles on the course and I told Jeff that if we could get paces into the 13:00/mi to 15:00/mi range we would set ourselves up for a walk on Loop 5 and I think that gave us energy to get through the next 14 miles because our paces fell out as:

13:58, 13:10, 15:26, 15:26, 13:21, 12:01, 13:09, 13:17, 12:08, 14:55, 14:27, 13:55, 12:47, 17:55 (includes ~3:00 at the final aid station).

At this point we felt great and knew that we had picked off a lot of athletes that had been ahead of us. Spirits were high but at the same time wanted to stay within ourselves and calculated that a 20:00/mi pace would get us home in under 24 hours.

Loop 5: The End Is Near......I Think

Knowing that we had plenty of cushion and that there were no other athletes close by we took a Walk With Purpose approach to the final loop. We would maintain our mantra of:

Run When You Can. Walk When You Must And Cascade The Downhills.

Having this in our heads and at the tips of our tongues proved to be fruitful as we maintained a solid walking pace of nearly 16:00/mi. I do remember at one point Jeff saying to me that I probably only had 2 or 3 matches left and my response being that my eyeballs hurt. This was no exaggeration since I was wearing contacts and with no humidity they seemed to be drying out and were bothering me.

In the desert there are no true landmarks because something may seem like it is 10 feet away but in reality is miles plus the course winds through the desert and makes the distance even longer. This happened to us twice as we were just trying to get from one aid station to the next. At this point I was bloated and could not eat anything but I kept my drinking and so much so that I pee'd approximately 78 times on the last loop.

Jeff and I have run enough together that we make the best of it all by calling back memories of the past while saying the dumbest stuff ever and I also know his tricks. I was too tired to calculate time left to reach the finish in under 24 hours and he kept telling me we needed this time or that time and me wondering if he was lying so that we could finish closer to 21-22 hours instead of 24.

It was at the final aid station that I was able to do that math and see that with 4.5 miles left and 1h40m to go that I could maintain that 20:00/mi pace and get in around 6:30a. I was ecstatic knowing that we had this in the bag and that I would finish in 4th place overall as the volunteers at the last aid station told us that only 3 athletes had headed into the finish at that point.

It was with about 2 miles to go that Pete (a competitor I met on the course) went flying past us with his pacer like their pants were on fire. Even if I could manage to run at that point there was no way I was going to keep pace. OK, fine.....5th place works for me (actually finished in 6th place OA.)

I told Jeff that when we got off the mountain and hit the pavement we would run. We got there and he asked me if I was ready. I told him no let's walk a bit more and then I noticed a headlamp coming off the mountain and started running and told him to: Let's Go. He was bewiledered and couldn't figure out why I was running. Sure enough we finished 8 seconds ahead of another competitor who turns out to be the husband of Jenny from Runny Legs.

Post Finish: Asleep In My Eggs

Learning from the past and wanting to make sure I ate food after the finish Jeff and I walked over to food area and I wolfed down two pancakes and some coffee. One of the volunteers offered to make some eggs and I heartily accepted. It seemed to take forever and while sitting there practically fell asleep sitting down. It wasn't until Jeff woke me up and told me to switch spots so that the heat would hit me on the other leg that I woke up. When the eggs came I devoured them in what seemed like two bites. Once done I told Jeff it was time to hit the road and we did.

At the hotel room I managed to get my clothes off and into the shower for 5 minutes to wash away the hurt of the day, not to mention all the sand and rocks. Out of the shower and into bed. Those 5 hours of sleep never felt so good as I woke up in the same position I fell asleep in.

Conclusion:

Coldwater Rumble 100 is not easy. Not by any stretch of the imagination but at the same time if you have a plan and stick to it you can make it a fun day. There are parts that are very runnable and parts where you must hike unless you are super human.

I cannot thank Emily enough for inviting me to the desert to race, nor can I thank Jeff enough for being a part of this event. Jeff changed plans for work to be out there and pace me through 40 miles. Shannon.....you have no idea what you did to help me when I saw you as I started Loop 3 and I cannot thank you enough for being the mirage in the desert at that point. Malia deserves credit as well. She was 'bossy' about me drinking and peeing on the course. She offered advice about it and it helped for sure.

The entire experience will not be forgotten and I am looking forward to the next 100 Mile Start Line where I will be nervous, excited and scared all at the same time.

Mile_65_Coldwater_Rumble_100

Published in Race Reports

In less than two weeks I will be at the starting line of the Coldwater Rumble 100 in Goodyear, Arizona. This will be my third attempt at completing a 100 mile ultra trail run and if successful will also be the third belt buckle I collect. Since many friends and colleagues know that I run 100 mile races they also know that I train for them and have begun asking me questions about the race. Maybe the fact that the date is just around the corner is what has sparked this interest but either way answering these questions helps frame my mind for the task that is coming up.

One of the first questions I am asked is:

How Do You Manage To Run For 100 Miles?

It is a fair question especially when you consider the majority of the people asking are not long-distance runners. The folks that are asking the question typically state: I get tired just driving 100 miles so how do you do it.

My answer is simple: I want it.

My answer is complex: I want it so I will do everything I can to make it happen.

The second answer is the key to being successful at running these distances and that means having as strong a mental game as you do physical game. When I am training for 100 milers I will have weeks that are planned out for 50 miles and others that are planned out for 85 miles. Both weeks I approach the same and that is to make the difficult so that I get stronger mentally. The 50 mile week will have more speedwork and the 85 mile week will just be a bear to wake up the next day after having just run 15 miles.

By being stronger mentally I can accomplish any task set out before me. At Lake Martin 100 in 2014 the elements were against the athletes. It had rained for a week prior to the race and the course was nothing more than a mud pit that you had to slosh your way through. I battled the course and the elements to finish in just under 28 hours. It ranked as the hardest race I had completed to date and still holds that title. That race taught me that I can do anything and is something I fall back on quite a bit.

Make your training harder than the race and develop the mental strength to be able to fall back on when the going gets tough.

Tips:

  • Run without headphones for 2-3 hours and just listen to your thoughts, breathing, nature.
  • Run in the evening and then early the next morning on a Saturday/Sunday or Sunday/Monday.

Is Your Approach To A 100 Mile Race Different Than A Marathon?

Without a doubt the approach to a 100 mile race is different. If you think about it, the 100 mile race is essentially 4 marathons and if you approach it as if it is the same then you are doomed before it starts but that does not mean that you cannot take concepts from the marathon approach and apply them to the ultra race distance.

When I register for a 50k, 50 mile or 100 mile race I look at the course and the aid stations. I want to know the distance between the aid stations as well as how many loops the course is. By taking this information in I can process a strategy that will allow me to get from point A to point B and only focus on that one segment.

Knowing this information also allows me to establish a nutrition plan. How much liquid I will need in my hydration pack? How many FlapJacked pancakes or Mighty Muffins will I need at base station? What will I eat at each aid station? Having the answers to these questions before the race starts allows me to focus on the execution of a plan versus wondering what is going to unfold.

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What Is Recovery Like?

This is probably the most difficult question to answer. After each ultra race my recovery has looked somewhat different. After Lake Martin it became a quick focus on getting all the calories into my system that I could handle. After Rocky Raccoon it was about sitting down and allowing my body to rest and that included taking a nap.

Taking an umbrella approach to recovery from a 100 mile race the focus is on getting hydration and calories into my system. I will drink water, without forcing it, while eating simple foods. If I am able to get mashed potatoes I am thrilled because they do not require any chewing and just swallowing (remember it is the middle of the night and you are exhausted.)

After sleeping for a few hours I will start to focus on walking and getting blood flowing through my legs while wearing compression gear. Simultaneously I am looking for healthy fats, lean protein and complex carbs which is typically egg sandwich(es) and waffles/pancakes. I do not want to eat until I am bloated and try to keep the calorie consumption even without peaks and valleys.

The other part of recovery that is important is to go for walks and not runs for the next couple of days. Keeping the blood flowing allows the body to recover much faster than if you were to just lay down all day.

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On January 23rd in Goodyear, Arizona the goal will be to complete the race in 22-23 hours while having a good time with friends. Laughter is always a big help for me mentally and being surrounded by people of a like mind will help with that.

Published in Train
Monday, 03 March 2014 07:44

A-OK 50K Ultra Trail Run Race Report

A-OK was not on my radar, not even the periphery, prior to about two weeks ago.  I was introduced to this race by friends of Karen who are on a Facebook page called Dallas Dirt Runners.  The first time I saw A-OK I thought that it would be a great 50k supported training run for me as I build toward Lake Martin 100.  What I didn't expect was to have the time of my life out there.  A-OK is such a classic old-school race that it only allows 75 athletes to enter and you have to mail (Yes, the USPS) in your registration with a CHECK.  This part of the process freaked me out to the point that I emailed the race director to ask if I could either register on race day or PayPal her the money.  Why?  I have not the foggiest of clues as to where the post office is in my town and writing a check seems so foreign.  Mary Ann (RD) replied to my request with a 'do not have paypal' and fortunately Karen was kind enough to mail the check and reg form from her office. A-OK was going to happen.

Published in Race Reports
hoka oneone - bondi b - product reviewHoka OneOne…..what is there to say?  These shoes have been a revelation for my feet, ankles, calves, hamstrings/quads, glutes and hips.  Let us not forget the mind because without these there would have been days that I would have contemplated not running at all because the body felt to beat up to lace up the shoes and hit the roads again. When I first started using the Hoka OneOne brand it was with the Stinson and Mafate, which I reviewed here, but then I realized that the miles would be piling up as I headed toward Lake Martin 100.  When I took out my handy-dandy Google Docs and sorted through the color-coding I realized that I would have close to 300 miles on the Stinson and at least 113 on the Mafate before the race.  Throw in another 300 or so miles and I was worried about how the shoes would feel by the time March 29th-30th rolled around.  I decided to go out and purchase the Hoka OneOne Bondi B as a compliment to the other two, but also because it was on sale and I had a discount code to the Running Warehouse. The Hoka OneOne Bondi B had a completely different feel than the Stinson or Mafate when I first put them on and it worried me.  Could these possibly have the same pillow feel that the other two shoes did?  What if I disliked this model and my Hoka OneOne love would be gone.  The first couple of runs with them and I was not as pleased as I had been with my experience with the Hoka OneOne brand.  The shoes just felt wrong.  They were very stiff but I kept putting them on in the hopes that all that was needed was a breaking in. After about 50 miles the shoes finally started to represent my previous experiences and I was getting happier and happier each time I put them on my feet.  While the feel of the shoe was not ideal at the beginning what I did notice was that they were still doing what they needed to do in terms of keeping my legs as fresh as they could possibly be considering I was coming off of Rocky Raccoon 50 and heading toward The Cowtown Ultra and an 86 mile week.  My recovery was not hampered one bit by the uncomfortable feel of the shoe. When the miles exceeded 50 the comfort returned and it dawned on me that the Hoka OneOne probably required a longer break in time due to the fact that while the shoe is light the platform is large and may take longer to break in.  When I laced up the Bondi B for The Cowtown Ultra I felt confident that they would take me from start to finish without any issues.  My belief was confirmed when I ran the first 25 miles while pacing Karen to a 10 minute marathon PR and then the last 10k at a pace nearly 1:30 less than the first 25 miles and my feet did not hurt and my legs felt as fresh as they could at that point. When Lake Martin 100 starts the Bondi B will have accumulated 221 miles which would make them ideal for that race.  The Stinson will have amassed 334 miles and the Mafate 160 to that point.  I will probably bring all three with me and make a determination based on the course and how technical it is.  Then again maybe I’ll just buy another pair of Hoka OneOne shoes, but I’ll be sure to get past 50 miles before I decide to bring them to the race. In conclusion, the Bondi B is a quality shoe and one that should be in your bag of tricks.  The Heel-Toe drop is different from the other two at 4.5mm versus Stinson (6mm) and Mafate (4mm).  The Bondi B also is the lightest at 10.8oz.  Having a set of varying drops and weights allows you to maximize your training by not stressing the same muscles while running.
   
Published in Product Reviews
[caption id="attachment_9454" align="alignright" width="225"]numbers - endurance sports - meaning Is this a number that has meaning?[/caption] Numbers are a large part of endurance sports as well as my professional life.  I spend day in and day out dealing with numbers.  In the morning I am running and maintaining a heart rate within a specific numbers range.  When I enter the office I become a professor of marketing and calculate spending, return on investment, share of voice and a whole host of numbers that convey a meaning to my clients and myself.  This past week all of these numbers, specifically endurance sports numbers, were thrown at me and made me tilt my head to think the way that my pug, Ginga, does. The numbers that were thrown my way were 9 and 10.  In two separate conversations the following took place:
  • You broke 9 hours at your first 50 mile race.  Do you feel like a badass?
  • Hey man, congrats on breaking 10 hours on your first 50.  Impressive.
The two statements gave me pause.  Maybe for the first time in my life I didn't puff out my chest and say:  Why yes, I am a badass!!!  I thought to myself and then asked why is 9 hours a holy grail?  I do not consider myself a badass because the guys that went past me at miles 45 through 48 and finished 20 minutes ahead of me are badass.  The guy that was cascading down the hills like a jungle cat…..he is badass!  Me, I'm just a dude running his first ultra trying to figure out how this all fits into my life. When the second statement came I was truly thrown for a loop.  The person giving me the congratulations on the pre-10 hour finish is somebody I look up to in endurance sports.  A person who has qualified for both Kona and Boston.  Has run with donkey's in Mexico.  Crewed for friends and Leadville 100.  The kind of endurance athlete I want to be when I grow up, yet his numbers made me think why 10 hours?  Why did he not say 11 or 12?  Why was this his mystical number? [caption id="attachment_9455" align="alignright" width="300"]numbers - endurance sports - meaning Source: RunTri Even the median is nowhere near 12 hours.[/caption] I am going to go back to Ironman for a moment to talk about numbers in that sport as well.  I finished my first Ironman race in just under 12 hours and the pats on the back were accompanied by the words:  great job getting in under 12 hours.  I thanked them and thought that it was a great accomplishment.  I then did it again at Ironman Arizona and fell short of that line in the sand at Ironman Texas 2013 yet that is the race I am most proud of.  At IMTX in 2013 I battled panic attacks in the water and finished that portion is 1:48 which is extremely slow in comparison to the 1:30 I did previously.  The heat took over and with temps in the 100+ range I managed to run the 15th fastest marathon of the M40-44 Age Group yet my overall time was 12:03:58.  Running as fast a marathon as I did held more importance than the overall time of 12:04 but I ask why?  Is it because I did not break 12 hours and then again, why is 12 hours the fictional hour mark that sets people apart? I started to research average times for 50 mile ultra trail marathons and stopped almost as quick as I started because the numbers I see in another race mean nothing in comparison to the race held on February 8, 2014.  Only that day can be compared to itself.  On that day I ran 8:53:52 and finished tied for 44th with Jeff out of a total of 322 that started and 288 that finished (89% finish rate) but there were well over 400 that registered so nearly 100 did not start the race.  Where do you define the numbers?  44 out of 322 or 44 out of 288?  Besides that what makes the 9 hours the line of demarcation? Being recognized for achievements, big or small, matters to me especially when the two quotes above are from your wife and a good friend.  That being said I want those numbers to mean something.  Can they mean something to more than just me?  Is there a way to universally define what is a defining time for endurance events?  Can we grade the courses on the days that they are races so that we level the playing field and allow the numbers to mean something?  Or is it because they cannot be compared and conversation and debate can ensue allow those numbers to continue to be applied at the presenters discretion?

Why Do You Think The Numbers 9/10 or 12 Mean Anything?

Published in Race
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 10:18

Heather Jackson Reminds Me Hard Works Pays Off

[caption id="attachment_9261" align="alignright" width="200"]heather jackson - triathlon - wattie ink Source: Wattie Ink On Instagram[/caption] Heather Jackson ranks right at the top of my favorite triathletes, male or female, to watch and root for.  I put her up there with Mirinda Carfrae and Caroline Steffen.  I think that my rooting interest is in the fact that all of these ladies are tremendous runners off the bike and that is the facet of triathlon that I am most inspired by.  Running a marathon is hard.  Running a marathon after a 112 mile bike is hard.  Running a marathon at the pace that they are running off the bike is incredible to watch.  These ladies, and triathletes in general, did not get there by hoping and wishing.  They got there through hard work. Yesterday I was reminded of the hard work it takes to be successful at this sport.  As I was scrolling through Instagram I came across a picture of Heather Jackson riding the trainer and looking completely spent.  Sweat everywhere and mouth agape as if to say: this is so f*cking hard but I will survive and I will get stronger.  That left a lasting impression on me and reinforced in me that in order to achieve the goals I am laying out for myself. I do not have my goals laid out specifically for this year as of yet but I am thinking of the following for the big races in 2014:
  • 10:00 at Rocky Raccoon 50 in February.
  • 5:00-5:15 at 70.3 Galveston in April.
  • 5:40-5:45 at 70.3 Buffalo Springs in June.
  • 11:00-11:30 at Ironman Chattanooga in September.
Knowing that these are all much faster than my previous times I have to be understanding of the hard work that is going to go into these training cycles.  I need to focus my mind on the knowledge that there will be rest/recovery days and that I need to take advantage of those days but simultaneously knowing that on training days there is a purpose.  Do not waste energy and time on the 'junk' miles and put the hard work in that is required to achieve these goals.  I use the word goals because dreams are goals without a plan.  I will have a plan and I will execute that plan to the best of my ability. Heather Jackson putting in the hard work in the middle of December for races that she will compete at in the Spring resonated wildly with me. Here is an athlete that has accomplished a lot in her career and could sit back and say: I did that and won that.  Instead she is pushing her body and her mind knowing that her competition is out there potentially doing the same.  This past week I finished my fourth week of ultra trail run training and legs felt beat up while I was under the weather.  It would be very easy for me to say to myself that I hurt and its Christmas and what would another slice of pizza or piece of chocolate do?  That is just not going to happen though.  I have to remain committed to my goals and take every possible step to accomplish them regardless of how hard it is.  I may not be racing to win, but I am racing to be better than myself. This week will be harder than the previous 4 weeks as the mileage climbs past the 60s for the week but there is a recovery week starting on Sunday after that long run.  There will be 3 weeks after that recovery week where the mileage will go be in mid-60s up to the 70s.  Those weeks will be hard and I will be able to look back at this week and say that was easy.  It is all in perspective. This week I also made the decision that I will start to see my chiropractor twice per week over those 3 overload weeks.  I want to take care of my body to get through them injury free and that starts by doing the hard things like taking 30 minutes out of your day to get your body back into alignment rather than heading straight home and flopping on the couch.  There is a lot of hard work left to do before I get to the start line of Rocky Raccoon 50 and thanks to Heather Jackson and her picture a fire has been lit under my butt to make sure that the extra cookie is not consumed and that the 'Five More Minutes' on the alarm clock are not asked for.

Thank You Heather Jackson For Posting That Picture. Motivating.

What Has Inspired You Lately?

Published in Train
Triathlon training is what we are supposed to be doing but when you look at logs for both KC and I you see something completely different from swim, bike, run on an equal basis.  What you see is RUN, BIke, swim…….yup the two of us seem to be allergic to the pool and that is ok for right now.  As we get closer to entering into our triathlon training specificity there will be a swing in disciplines.  The amount of running will drop dramatically and the amount of biking and swimming will occupy that void. This is the beauty of the triathlon training for Ironman Chattanooga that we are both doing right now.  The focus is not on triathlon specifically and that is a great thing.  Having trained for 18 months straight to complete 3 Ironman races in 12 months I could myself to be completely burnt-out on triathlon training and the sport itself when Ironman Texas finished.  My goal was to press the reset button during the off-season and I did just that.  Along the way I had two months of huge bike blocks and am currently through 1/3 of a huge running block for Rocky Raccoon 50.  These sport specific training will help me when the time comes for triathlon training.  My base on the bike and the run will be elevated to areas that I could only have imagined a year or so ago. [caption id="attachment_9255" align="alignright" width="300"]triathlon training - ironman - ultra running November was a recovery month. December will be near October.[/caption] To the right is a calendar view of my training days from September through December.  You will see that September and October had lots of training days as I was riding 750 and 800 miles per month respectively.  November was a recovery month so to speak.  Toward the end of the month I started to ramp up the running so when December hit and the weekly training volume would start at 50 miles per week running I had put myself in position to avoid injury by having a few miles on my legs.  With 9 days to go in the month you will see the number of training sessions surpass September and challenge November for sure.

KC's Triathlon Training For Ironman Chattanooga - Week 7

What the what? Somebody stop pressing the FF» button already! Time is out of control flying by and it’s blowing my mind. It will be 2014 before I know it. Disney marathon is looming around the corner, yikes! My bib# is 888 Isn’t that a great bib#? I thought so. Anyway, am I ready for marathon number 40 something (Yes, I’ve lost count)? I am and I’m not. I am ready to run 26.2 miles but not sure how “fast” I will run. If the marathon would have been today, 4 hours would most likely have been the outcome. About 3 weeks ago, maybe closer to a 3:30finish. Normally, this “slow down” would bother me but not this year. Nope! Since I already qualified for Boston at Disney this past January, and I’m not doing Boston in 2014, I’m still good to go for Boston 2015 with that same qualifying time. So no pressure on me. I may get out there on January 12 and tear that mouse house up or it may tear me up, we’ll see. Bottom line is, I’ll go out there, cue up an awesome playlist and have a nice, long run. Once Disney is over, then it’s time to start hitting the pool and putting together a smart training plan for the Florida Challenge 70.3 on March 22nd (http://floridachallenge.com/). A very hilly 70.3!! Then it’s full speed ahead training for Ironman Tennessee. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the next 2 weeks of down time (down time to me means, no workouts that are over 3 hours). I’d like to wish everyone happy holidays however you celebrate it, enjoy!

Jason's Triathlon Training For Ironman Chattanooga - Week 7

If you recall from the Week 5 post that I had planned out a week that included more swimming and more biking and more strength training.  As life would have it the triathlon training I had anticipated took a back seat to run specific training, but not on purpose.  On Monday I got up and jumped into the water and swam.  I got home after work and jumped on the trainer and rode.  Things were looking up for a more balanced type of triathlon training than the first 3 weeks of Rocky Raccoon training had provided.  Starting on Tuesday the week blew up. Tuesday morning was to be a swim in the morning and run on the treadmill in the evening.  When you combine the lack of turning on the alarm with looking for those extra 5 minutes of sleep you end up with running only.  I was a bit miffed at myself but I also knew that if I slept that far past the 'normal' alarm time that I must be needing recovery.  Asking yourself how I could get an extra 5 minutes without the alarm going off?  As it turns out my body woke up at 3:59am and my alarm is typically set for 4:03 on swim days.  That notion that I could sleep another 4 minutes before the alarm goes off turned into an extra 45 minutes and thus no morning swim. On Wednesday I got up and put in the 8 miles the training plan called for.  Sometime  during the day on Wednesday I made up my mind that I was going to go swimming in the evening and I did.  It was perfect because there are classes and loads of people.  Knowing that I did not want to look like a floundering fish in the water I focused truly on form and had a terrific swim session.  Thursday was a simple 6 mile recovery run with a visit to the chiropractor.  Going back to him on a regular basis has been terrific for me getting out the door day in and day out.  I am thinking that I will add in a second day per week to my current Thursday visit because I do not stretch, use the stick or foam roll.  Visiting the chiropractor helps me tremendously and keeps my hip flexors happy. Friday morning when I woke up I thought…..uh-oh!  I felt a scratchy throat but I was awake and so I ran.  The schedule called for 7 miles and I ran 7.5 but the key to the knowledge that I was not feeling well was the fact that my HR was in mid-Zone 2 despite running much slower than I had been.  During the day on Friday the little buggers got a hold of me but I fought back.  Loads of Vitamin C, electrolytes and liquids.  I skipped the Friday evening swim knowing that the mucus would be too much in the water.  I went to bed Friday night thinking that the 21 mile run on Saturday was out. When I woke up LATE on Saturday which equaled more than 10 hours of sleep I felt much better.  I kept pouring liquids and Vitamin C and around 11:30-12:00p I felt a break in the illness as I started sweating everywhere.  By 12:30p I knew I could get the run in.  I chose to do the 21 miles on the treadmill because I would be close to home in case I had to puke, visit the bathroom or just stop.  I ran very conservatively and finished the 21.1 miles in 3:24 while keeping my heart  rate down at the top end of Z1.  It was great to get through the run and build some mental strength that I could get the mileage in.  That paid off when I ran 12 miles this morning in recovery Z1 and the 12 miles felt good.

A few observations from this week:

  1. Emergen-C is very helpful. I give this product a ton of credit for getting me better.  That being said I am pouring Emergen-C into my HydraPak for the Rocky Raccoon 50 as it is nothing more than Nuun.  It is all electrolytes with a high concentration of Vitamin C and it is MUCH MUCH cheaper than Nuun.  I think there are 40 packs for $10.
  2. I am a Hoka fan.  I have run in the Mafate and now the Stinson.  I think these shoes have helped greatly with the amount of mileage I am putting on my legs.  I will have a full blown review of both of the models next week.
  3. With the proper mindset and planning anything is accomplishable.  I had created a schedule for myself that got blown up but since I had planned open times I could still get in a good swim, spend loads of time with my family and take care of household responsibilities.

How Are You Wrapping Up The End Of 2014?

 
Published in Train
Hoka One One came into my life about 2-3 years ago when Jeff showed them to us via social media.  My face looked like the Nile River with a cascade of tears from laughing so hard.  I immediately started calling him Neil Armstrong because they looked like moon boots.  Not long after that Kevin began sporting them.  The raves and reviews permeated every conversation.  I would hear things like:
  • I recover so much faster.
  • I do not feel the pounding on my legs like I do with my other shoes.
The incessant chanting of positive thoughts was thrust into every conversation we had about these ridiculous looking shoes.  Before I knew it Karen purchased a pair after talking to Jeff (I tell you he could convince eskimos that ice was the ideal solution to any problem they had and they would pay for it.  See Rocky Raccoon 50.)  Then the claims from Karen were too hard to ignore but I fought it.  I loved my Brooks Launch, and still do.  EMZ began wearing them and she too lauded over how great her legs felt after running with them.  KC, of the Ironman Chattanooga Challenge, became the next convert and all the sudden I was faced with a tribe of people I respected telling me that the Hoka One One was the shoe to end all shoes.  Not exactly that way but their claims of fast recovery and ability to go longer without issues started to pique my interest. When Rocky Raccoon 50 training started I did not own a pair but after the first week of 50+ miles after not having run 50+ miles in two months combined led me to the decision to get a pair.  I knew that in order to survive the training that RR50 was throwing at me I would need the ability to take as much off of my legs as I possibly could.  I had pairs of compression socks already but that wasn't enough.  I was eating properly after every long run but that wasn't enough.  Convinced that this was the right move I ordered the Mafate.  Soon thereafter I ordered the Stinson.  Let it be known that today I am a Hoka One One convert and here is why.

[caption id="attachment_9278" align="alignright" width="300"]hoka one one - mafate - ultra trail running - review The Hoka One One Mafate 3[/caption]

Hoka One One Mafate

I purchased the Hoka One One Mafate for the specific reason of using them for Rocky Raccoon 50 on February 8.  The Mafate has lugs on them that make them ideal for running trails but I figured I could also use them on the road.  The description on the Hoka One One site says:

The ideal shoe for ULTRA marathon runners looking for a lightweight, stable and performance cushion running shoe that can hammer the down hills and make it easier charging the up hills.

I figured I would have zero issues running the roads and since the training for RR50 involves charging uphills and sprinting downhills I couldn't have found a better shoe than this one correct?  Wrong.  This shoe is tremendous and I absolutely love it but not for the road.  The lugs do as they are intended and grab the road, which is ideal on a trail but not great on concrete.  I felt as if I were pulling my legs up just to get the lugs to release.  Now, this may have all been in my head but it was enough to throw me off as I was running in them.

I put on a total of 33 miles in the Mafate but after the first run I felt sharp pains in my right foot after about 6 miles.  I would keep going and within 0.5-1 mile the pain would go away.  I couldn't figure out exactly what it is about them but when I went back to the Brooks Launch that pain in my foot did not exist.  It had to be the shoes and more specifically using a trail shoe on the road.  In addition to the lugs I had to get used to the heel-toe drop.  The Brooks Launch which I have been using for the past 3 years is a 9.5mm drop while the Hoka One One Mafate 3 is a 4mm drop.  While the shoe looks like a boot and has tons of cushioning it is actually a very minimal shoe in terms of the heel-toe drop and this was something I had to adjust to.

While the foot pain was evident after about 5 miles and last for up to a mile what I did notice was that my legs were not fried.  I have done 4 runs in the Mafate 3 up to this point with the maximum being 12 miles and all the others being recovery runs after longer days or long weekends and my legs did not feel like I assumed I would from the pounding that they were taking.  I was becoming more and more convinced of the magical powers of the Hoka One One.  Despite the frustration of the foot issue I was sold on the shoe as a great long run shoe as well as recovery shoe and purchased the Stinson which is more of a road shoe.

Hoka One One Stinson Tarmac

I was like Ralphie from A Christmas Story when the Hoka One One Stinson showed up at my doorstep. I could not wait to rip open the box and get them on my feet as fast as I possibly could.  I poured over my training plan to try to figure out the best day to wear them and when I figured it out I laid them out like a bride lays out her wedding dress the night before the big day.  They may even have sparkled.  I was excited and when I put them on for the first time I was greeted with the feeling of pillows on my feet.  Could this really be?  Could these shoes that looked like cinder blocks actually weight next to nothing?  They sure felt like it but let's go take them for a test ride. [caption id="attachment_9280" align="alignright" width="300"]hoka one one - stinson -running - review Hoka One One: Time To Fly
Source: Hoka One One[/caption] The Hoka One One slogan is Time To Fly and with the first few steps that is exactly how I felt.  It was December 19th and I had run 174.45 miles since November 25 and was averaging nearly 54 miles over those 3 weeks.  My legs were beginning to get tired and I was starting to get cranky.  On this run I managed to bang out 6 miles at an extremely low HR of 140 bpm with not even the thought of my legs feeling tired.  The shoes were doing what they were intended to do and that was to provide cushioning to my legs and feet.  I felt like I was running on air and felt very fast in comparison to the miles on Monday thru Wednesday of that week.  The best part was that I did not experience any form of stabbing sensation in my feet.  I was getting more and more convinced that these were going to be my long road and recovery run shoes.  I would wear the Hoka One One Mafate 3 on the trails and the Brooks Launch on the treadmill. The Stinson has heel-toe drop of 6mm which is slightly bigger than the Mafate 3 but much less than the Brooks Launch.  Rotating all three shoes through my training would allow me to strengthen my feet and calves from different perspectives and I believe that this is also contributing to my fast recovery.  At this point I have run 23 miles in the Stinson with the longest being 12 miles and each run has felt good to great along with no issues the next day in terms of my legs feeling warn out.

Hoka One One Conclusion

The Hoka One One shoe is for real.  While they may look like clown shoes they do what they are intended to do and that is to provide cushioning.  Heading toward a weekend where I will run 23 miles on the trails in the Mafate 3 and 12 miles on the road in the Stinson I am excited because I know that while my legs will be tired they will not be thrashed as if I were to only wear one type of shoe that has less cushioning. The combination of the different heel-toe drop and the 23mm of cushioning make the Hoka One One a shoe that is ideal for long runs and recovery runs.  Of course, like any other shoe you need to test them to make sure they not only fit you properly but provide the support that you need.  The Mafate is neutral shoe that weight 14.7 oz while the Stinson is also a neutral shoe that weighs 11.9 oz.  The Brooks Launch weigh 9.3 oz but they feel heavier and that is most likely due to the pounding your feet and legs feel on each foot fall thanks to the 'lack' of cushioning in comparison to the Hoka One One line of shoes. In the end I think I have the right combination of shoes for my running.  The difference in weight coupled with the difference in heel-toe drop added to the difference in cushioning between each shoe is allowing me to maximize my recovery while building strength for the ultra run training I am doing.  As a matter of fact I think that the Stinson could be in my changing bag when I race Ironman Chattanooga in September of 2014 because of the comfort of the shoe coupled with the cushioning it will afford my legs after 112 miles of biking.
Published in Product Reviews
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