Jason Bahamundi

Jason Bahamundi

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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.

Sunday, 16 October 2016 21:38

Ironman Louisville 2016 Race Report

October 9, 2016.......Ironman Louisville took place and for the first time in a long time I was not sure how the day would unfold. This is my race report and will not be too detailed with regard to the course and will provide that in another blog post.

Prior To Race Day

My buddy Goat and I left Dallas on Wednesday for the long car ride to Louisville. We decided to break up the ride and stop in Memphis. This was a really smart move as we got into Louisville on Thursday afternoon and had plenty of time before bike check-in, practice swim, bike ride and run. All the things you need to do before you toe the line for a long day of racing.

We rented a house in the Audobon section of Louisville and it was gorgeous. The FW Tri Club had 5 athletes racing and 2 Sherpas staying in the house. We all had our own rooms and bathrooms so that we were not in each others way. My friends Jeff and Annie came out to Louisville to cheer Kevin and I on. Kevin was there with his wife Jennie and son. There was going to be plenty of support on the course with all the athletes and sherpas. This could shape up to be a fantastic day but the reality of it was that I was tired. I was tired of training. I was tired of triathlon and Ironman. I wanted this race to be over as quickly as it could be. Having the support around me that I did made a world of difference.

With bikes checked in, bags turned over, nutrition bottles filled, and dinner consumed we went to bed around 9:00pm. I laid in bed thinking about everything and could feel myself not being able to sleep. This is the first time in a long time that I can remember not falling asleep easily the day before a race. I had a lot of things swirling in my head. I was thinking about work and phone calls I had to make. I was thinking about my wife and where she would be and how she would manage on race day. I thought about the race and the goals I set for myself. The nerves were there and this was unusual.

I think the biggest stressor was the goal I had set for myself. I did not tell anybody, not even Karen what I expected as I did not want to have those expectations grow to become unreasonable but there is one person that knew exactly what I wanted to do. Ever since I met Taylor after his completion of Ironman Arizona in 2013 we have had this ongoing routine of texting each other our race goals. The day before the race I sent him the text message of what I thought my body could do and some might say it was spot on and that I know my body well.

Ironman Lousivlle_triathlon_race times

Swim

Ironman Louisville_Swim

I have anxiety when it comes to the swim of an Ironman event but having raced Ironman Chattanooga in 2014 this rolling start was exciting to me. I knew I would be able to jump in, pick a line and swim. Despite the conversation about swimming upstream for 1,400 yards I was more than happy to exchange that for the mass swim start of races past.

We dropped off bikes and got in line. We had about a mile walk to the swim start but knowing that the lines move fast I did not worry about this. We got in line and started chatting with our neighbors and the tension that normally accompanies the start of this race was gone. I pee'd in my wetsuit twice on the walk and noticed that the entire concrete area was wet despite the fact that it had not rained in days in Louisville. I laughed with my teammates and was starting to feel very loose. The tension and stress from the night before was gone.

We hit the pier area and I tapped Goat to wish him well. PUshed my goggles on tight and as I was about to jump in I noticed another athlete coming at us. The look of fear on his face with no goggles and no swim cap. I could not worry about it as I jumped in an began swimming. The line was clear and I very rarely touched anybody. I could see the buoys and got to the tip of the island in no time. I was actually surprised how quickly I got to the tip of the island. I knew I had another 500 yards until the turn around and when I got there the typical contact began as everybody bottles up around the turn buoys.

As I turned I got kicked in the face and had to stop to adjust my goggles but that would be the extent of the major contact. I wanted to swim free and clear and was away from most but as the buoys came up I found myself right on top of them. I could not figure out why I was so close but just went with it. Every now and again I would have somebody touch my foot or swim across my face but this was a relatively clear swim.

The buoys went by quickly and I was able to swim right up to the stairs and exit. Once under the swim out arch I looked at my watch and saw 1:17. Me? 1:17? Holy cow. I immediatly knew I had 8 minutes on my predicted time.

I flopped on the ground like a fish and had my wetsuit ripped off. Grabbed a cup of water on the way out and then began the run from to the transition. I yelled out my bag and they handed it to me as I made the turn down the rows of bags.

T1

I pride myself on being in and out of transition as it is still part of the race. I always choose not to go into the tents as there is nothing but ass and balls in there and they are typically very hot. I was outside the tent and put my shoes on when I heard a volunteer yell to a lady she was going in the wrong tent. I looked up and told her that she did not want to go in there.

Once my arm sleeves were on I ran through the tent and handed my bag to another wonderful volunteer. Through the tent and some sunscreen that burned like heck. I realized I had gotten a wetsuit hickey and it burned when the sunscreen went onto it.

Out to my bike where I noticed most were gone but this did not phase me as I got into the water around 8:05am which is rather late.

As I grabbed my bike and began to run to the bike out arch I was ready to ride. That is until the volunteers yelled that the mount line was further up. What I did not notice was that by further up it was about a 1:00-2:00 run to the mount line. By the time I got there I realized my transition was close to 10 minutes and thus all the swim time I gained I just gave back.

Bike

Ironman Louisville_Bike

I saw Karen, Annie and Jeff immediately and that was a good feeling. The first 10 miles from bike out are relatively flat but I had looked at the weather and knew it was a 4-7 mph wind out of the North-North East and that is exactly where were headed so we had a light headwind. Nothing too noticeable but it was there.

During these 10 miles I was just getting accustomed to the bike and I noticed that my feet were freezing. While the water was 73* the air temp was about 50*. I put on full-finger cycling gloves but my feet would suffer for the majority of the ride.

After the 10 miles you start the climbing. This first climb is steep and I had another athlete say to me, after we crescted, that he was good on that hill but was now done for all the others. We had a good laugh. I was now ready to settle into the ride and knew it would be a lot of gear shifting, climbing and descending.

This bike course is relentless for a Texan. The average gain per mile is a tad under 50ft. In Dallas-Fort Worth, we may average 35 ft/mi if we are lucky. That 15 feet does not sound like much but over 112 miles that equates to nearly 1,700 feet of climbing we do not experience here. If you climb for :30-1:00 and descend for :05-:07 there is no chance to really recover and all this adds up throughout the ride. I decided to ride to NP instead of average power because for every climb there would be a descent and thus the average power numbers would be off. I have typically ridden the DFW area to an NP of 176w but trying to stay conservative I decided to stay between NP of 155-160w.

When I finished the first loop in three hours I felt a 6 hour bike finish was plausible and my power was right where I wanted it. My mindset changed when I realized that the fatigue was building and that I had another 20 miles of climbing. I adjusted my goal mentally to 6:05-6:10 on the bike and would still be happy with that. As I passed other athletes that were bombing the descents and then incapable of climbing I was gaining confidence and realizing that I had more in my legs than I thought. I had to stick to my goal watts and pay attention to cadence on the climbs.

One part of the bike course that is phenomenal is when you ride through the town of Le Grange. There are fences and boards up lining the street and they are yelling loudly. You feel like a rockstar going through this section and it reminded me of Chattanooga. Every Ironman race should have this setup.

Once through Le Grange and the short out and back I knew I had 33 miles back to downtown Louisville. I figured I would have a tailwind at this point and tucked in. I noticed that my power was exactly where I wanted it at NP of 155w. This was going to be a good ride that would set me up for a run......until things changed. On the ride back to town I noticed that I was not pushing my watts and that I had only pee'd once on the bike. Was I losing energy? Was I dehydrated? I started to worry but then the 5.0 mile notifications went off and they were sub-15:00 which means I was riding faster than 20 mph. Oh well, could not worry about it now.

At the last aid station I took a handup of Gatorade and drank the entire bottle in less than 10 miles because I wanted to make sure I had tried to be as hydrated as possible at this point.

As I went past the swim start  I slipped my feet out of my shoes and prepared to dismount and run. When I got to the dismount line I noticed that I had ridden the second 56 miles just a bit faster than the first 56 and my legs felt like they could run. This was going to be a good test of my fitness.

T2

I handed off my bike and ran down the 'alley' to the gear bags and yelled out my number. I turned the corner and did not see it but that was because a volunteer further up the aisle had it ready to hand to me. I grabbed as I ran past and again go dressed outside of the tent. Run shoes on, hat on, and loaded up my nutrition flasks into my pockets. Race belt on as I went through the tent and then additional sunscreen. Time to run!!!

Run

Ironman Louisville_Run

I had a goal of running a sub-4:00 marathon two years ago and ran 3:58:59. I had that same goal but I felt my run training was solid and a 3:50 marathon was more than feasible. The first mile ticked off at sub-9:00 and then I saw Karen, Dave and Annie and it was an awesome sight. I was on cloud 9 as the next few miles ticked off under 9:00. I had to tell myself to be smart about this. Holding back in the first 5-6 miles would help me get to that 3:50. The reviews of this run course was that it was flat but what I noticed after we past through the University of Louisville was a short sharp descent and my quads began yelling at me. After 5,000 ft of climbing on the bike my legs were somewhat shocked to be running and at this pace. At Mile 4 I caught Goat (typically do not catch him until mile 20) and I was surprised. A slap on the ass and a fist bump and I was off. 

Since this is a double loop that is straight out and back I figured that the turn around would be at mile 6.5. That was a wrong assumption. The turn around was until mile 7+ and it was a false flat all the way to that point. Once you turned you could feel the slight descent taking hold. My watch was beeping at every mile and nothing was slower that 9:30 and that was with walking through aid stations. I was excited but I could feel my quads yelling at me. It felt as if they were at the end of the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile race.

Toward the end of the first loop I ran under the Red Bull arch and saw Karen. She took pictures and asked me how I was feeling. I told her I was hurting but could not muster much else. I had to keep running if I wanted to reach my goals and I was gone. I noticed that I ran the first 1/2 marathon in 1:56 and if I could repeat that I would finish in 3:52. The miles ticked off and my feet were moving but my walks through the aid stations were taking a tad longer than I wanted. When I reached the final turn around point I knew I had 6 miles to go and with 10:00 miles I could be right at 4 hours. I did not want to chance it so I made a decision that there would be no walking through aid stations. I had to grab water/coke/gatorage on the run.

As each mile ticked off I had saved :30-:45 seconds over the 10:00/mi pace. I was moving and my determination kept growing. I was doing math in my head an thought I could run a 3:55. Off my goal but still an IM marathon PR. When I had only 1 mile left to go it was time to do the gut check. Could I keep running and not break down. With about 0.75 miles to go I knew I had the run of a lifetime and began smiling. I took my sunglasses off and hung them from my jersey. I ran about 0.5 miles and they fell out. Oh shit!!! Stopping to pick them up would cost me time plus the idea of bending down to pick them up was intolerable. I did turn around and grab them. I looked up and kept going and sure enough I saw a teammate up ahead around the Red Bull arch. I came up on him, slapped him on the ass and wished him well as he headed off on his second loop.

As I started down the chute I saw another friend, Erin, who took one of the best pics of the night. The lights and sounds of the finish line were calling me. Heading down the chute my smile grew bigger and bigger. I crossed the line of my 6th finish and nearly collapsed as I had no energy left. Dehydrated, overwhelmed with a 3:56 marathon and a fantastic day at the race. I saw Karen and the tears welled up in my eyes. These race finishes are always emotional for me as I reflect on the sacrifice, time, energy that I put in, that my family puts in, that my friends put in. They are never easy to get to. They are never easy to cross but when you do it is a state of euphoria.

Finish Times

Swim - 1:18:02

T1 - 8:06

Bike - 5:54:36

T2 - 5:08

Run - 3:56:20

Overall: 11:22:12

 

Ironman Louisville_Finish Line_4th Street Live

 

Thank You

To my family and friends for dealing with me over 16 weeks of training. To the volunteers for being fantastic all day long. To WTC for putting on a first class event. To the city of Louisville for hosting us and showing us what it is like for a community to embrace Ironman weekend.

 

 

 

 

Last week I was up late at night watching Diners, Drivers and Dives. They were at a BBQ joint and the sandwich they made sounded awesome. They had used pulled pork but being a vegetarian that was not going to happen. I started of thinking about ways I could re-create this sandwich without using tofu or tempeh while also having that sort of shredded pork feel.

It dawned on me that spaghetti squash shreds in a similar fashion so that would be the base of the sandiwch. The next question I had to answer was how I was going to develop that burnt end crust and my trusty cast iron pan answered that question.  There were no questions when it came to toppings because the slaw I have been making lately goes with everything, as do pickles (any good BBQ has pickles) and sweet potato fries.

Lucky for you it was fantastic and I am sharing the recipe to this ridiculously tasting dish.

 

Monday, 14 March 2016 19:34

Recipe: The Falafel Waffle

Falafel is one of my favorite foods and anytime I can get my hands on it I am going to take advantage. A couple of weeks ago Karen and I were talking about going to one of our favorite Greek restaurants for falafel but I got the idea that we can just make it at home and not have to use chickpeas to make it but rather garbanzo bean flour.

I had the flour, the parsley, baking soda and garlic so why not make them at home and instead of busting out the oil just using my trusty waffle maker. Then instead of just having falafel waffles we could make them into sandwiches and top it with a tzatziki sauce. My Mediterranean cooking inspiration was on high gear and it was time to get this party started.

Below is the recipe and it is super easy to make. You can use it for #MeatlessMonday or just whenever.

Enjoy and do not forget to #EatUp.

 

Thursday, 10 March 2016 22:03

#Vegan Recipe: Tempura Avocado Street Tacos

A few weeks ago Karen and I went to a local establishment to have a meal on the patio while the weather was absolutely gorgeous. We have been here plenty of times but this time was different. As we were reading the menu and confirming the appetizer of Hot Chips (fresh made potato chips with a side of habanero ketchup) we saw the item labeled: Tempura Avocado Street Tacos.

Just saying the name made me drool. Karen decided to order it and I went with a taco salad knowing full well that she would not finish the plate and I would get at least one taco. As I had predicted she shared the last taco and I devoured it. Poor taco never stood a chance. A few days after that I decided I was going to replicate the dish.

As we sat down to eat we looked at each other and commented that it looked like the restaurant version. The first bite signified that I had indeed remade the dish BUT BETTER. The key was what I used for my tempura batter. Keep reading the recipe below to find out what that secret ingredient was.

Enjoy and do not forget to #EatUp.

 

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

As most of you know I am a Brand Ambassador for FlapJacked and have been for some time now. The reason I continue to work with them is that the product tastes great, and I mean that about the Mix and the Muffins. Beyond that they are great people who support me through all of my endeavors regardless of how stupid they may be.

One of the other main reasons I love the product as much as I do is that you can be very creative with it. From cookies to crepes to cakes of all shapes and sizes. This recipe is for an individual sized cake that you can make in about 10 minutes but comes with all the flavor of a cake that has been labored over for hours.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I enjoyed eating the results

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

Tuesday, 01 December 2015 18:08

Vegan Recipe: Overcome Illness Stew

The last month has been full speed ahead with racing Ironman Florida (race report here) and then Wild Hare 50 (race report here) two weeks later and registered for Isle Du Bois 52k two weeks post Wild Hare 50 had run my body into the ground. Endurance events take a lot out of you both physically and mentally and your immune system is shot.

I learned this first hand Saturday into Sunday of this past week. I was feeling sluggish on Saturday but managed to do some running around (in the rain) with my wife but by the end of the day it had become full blown - leave me the F alone. I got in bed with a tremendous pain in my face around my sinuses and knew I had a sinus infection. I woke up every 1h20m and had difficulty going back to sleep. When I woke up Sunday I planted myself on the couch and did nothing but neti pot and try to watch football.

The Giants-Redskins game made me not feel any better as that was possibly one of the worst games I can remember watching. Just horrible football. I went to bed Sunday night hoping to sleep through the night but that did not happen until midnight when I got finally got 6 straight hours. When I woke up I felt much better. Less achy in my muscles and less pain in my face. The illness started to turn but not wanting to take any chances I kept up the fluids, vitamin C and when dinner rolled around I wanted nothing but a hearty stew.

I decided on the drive home that the stew would include rice, beans, mushrooms, onions and leafy greens. All of these are high in micro-nutrients but also included complex carbs, protein and healthy fat. I did stop myself from adding additional ingredients as I kept to the keep it simple stupid method.

When I woke up this morning I felt better than I had in the past 48 hours and believe that I am on the other side of the illness. Now the stew is not the only reason because the neti pot is the main helper here but the soup is sure to help battle illness as well as warming you up during these cold winter months. The recipe below is super simple, takes no time and tastes great. Enjoy.

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