Thursday, 08 January 2015 10:37

Running Slower Will Make You Faster. Huh?

If you have been involved in endurance sports long enough you have heard the statement that running slower will make you faster about 1,000,000 times. 999,999 times you have ignored that advice but I am here to tell you that you should not ignore this advice. I am also hear to tell you that it is not that straightforward. I think when people here this statement about running slower they believe that all of their training should be done slower and that magically they will get faster. The fact is that you need variation and slow is definitely one of those variations. For the past 1.5 years I have been running slowly so that I can build up my endurance while also teaching my body to burn fat for fuel which in turn allows me to go longer as evidenced by the finish of the Lake Martin 100 Ultra Run amongst other ultras with distances varying from 31 miles to 50 miles. The training plans that I have put together are a mix of slow days, recovery days (not the same as slow days), trail runs and speed work that is not done on a track. In the rest of this blog post I will highlight various points for what I have done and why I think they have benefited me in becoming faster than I was 5 years ago.

Long Runs On Trails

When I decided to run ultra trail runs I knew that it would be imperative to get on the trails so that I could get used to the change in terrain but I did not realize, until recently, the effect that running trails would have on my speed. When you get on the trail and start running you are 'forced' to slow down in comparison to running on the road but what also happens is that you are more engaged with your core, you are strengthening your ankles and simultaneously doing speed work. How are you doing speed work? No trail is just flat. There are a lot of changes in elevation on a trail so you are doing hill work which is speed work in disguise. Along with that change in elevation you are going to be changing speeds and not on a set workout like 4x1 Mile repeats. This change occurs all the time and thus you are bringing in various muscles that you are not typically using on the road.

Speed Work During Your Mid-Week Long Run

Speed work is often thought of as taking yourself to a track and doing a 1 mile warm-up followed by some sort of repeat whether that is 400, 800, 1 mile and then a cool down. This is a terrific way to get faster but I find it unrealistic for trail or road races unless that marathon you are training for is on a track. Changes in the terrain are going to be all over the course that you run so doing speed work in those conditions will enhance your ability to recall those moments during training while you are racing. One of my favorite workouts is an 8 mile run that includes speed work. I start with a 1 mile warm-up where my pace is approximately 2:00/mi slower than the tempo pace I am going to attempt to execute. After that warm-up I head into 3 sets of 3x2:00/2:00 with 0.5 mile recovery. This means that after the first mile warm-up I go for 2:00 at my goal tempo pace, which is 6:45/mi and then 2:00 at a recovery pace. I do this 3 times which will total 10 minutes. Why not 12 minutes? The reason is that last 2:00 recovery is built into the 0.5 mile recovery pace before I do the next set. After 3 sets of this tempo work I cool down until I hit 8 miles. I have a loop that I run that works perfectly for this so I would suggest you have that type of loop and if it is shorter or longer make that adjustment.

Long Runs At Zone 1 / Zone 1.5 At A Consistent Pace

When I say long runs at Z1-Z1.5 I am referring to road runs that are 15-30 miles. My goal on these long runs is to have the fastest mile and the average pace per mile is within 10 to 15 seconds of each other. I do not want to go out and set records at the beginning and then bonk toward the end. I want to run efficient and effortless for the entire time and when I am done to look at the Strava app to see that the Heart Rate graph and Speed graph are flat regardless of change in terrain. This is a mindset and one that takes time to train but once you are able to conquer this thought process you can run 'forever' and being able to run for long periods of time allows you to teach your body to use fat for fuel and that means carrying less fuel which means that you have less weight on you and eventually you will run faster.

My Evidence That This Is Working

Here is the same loop from January 2014 in comparison to January 2015. You may say that the paces are the same but take a look at the suffer score from Strava. These runs were about a year apart at approximately the same time of the day and yet the suffer score is practically 50% less and that translates to having the run take place in Zone 1 versus Zone 2.5+. Being able to run the same pace with less effort will lead to faster times as I do not burn through glycogen as quickly.

running slower - run faster - training January 2015 - Suffer Score 37running slower - run faster - trainingJanuary 2014 - Suffer Score Of 70

 

On New Year's Day I ran a 20k at a pace of 7:31/mile with over 700 feet of elevation gain and my HR never entered into Zone 4. Approximately 50% was in Zone 2 and the other 50% in Zone 3 which is more evidence that running slower I have improved my running efficiency which has led to faster times for me.

Are You A Believer In Running Slower To Get Faster?

Published in Train
Friday, 06 February 2015 12:13

RR100 Cast Of Characters

RR100 was a tremendously successful race for me, read the race report here, but it never unfolds the way it did without a tremendous amount of support from some key figures. This cast of characters was either on-site or very instrumental in helping me reach the finish line in 19:22 or was there during my training and pushing me to get better as each session passed. There are many people to thank so let's get this cast of characters post (poached from Old Stude) started.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - race - ultra trail

Lead Actress: Pit Crew Chief aka Karen What can I say about Karen that I have not already said? She is the rock to my insanity. PERIOD. For those of you that do not know Karen came into my life as I was getting divorced. It was a hard time in my life as everything seemed to be crashing down all around me, but as Karen is apt to do on a daily basis she puts items and life into perspective. For the past 8 years she has been able to get me to see the forest for the trees and for that I am eternally grateful. On race day Karen's job was to make sure that my crew was ready to go when their time was called but to also make sure that I had everything I needed at the transition area to make sure that I did not spend unnecessary minutes looking for things. Each time I came around to finish a loop she would yell what do you need? Hydration vest fill-up, pancake, shirts, shoes, new watch. It did not matter as she was ready and kept me moving. Karen would send text messages to my pacers on Loops 4 and 5 to find out where I was and how I was doing so she could prepare the transition area for exactly that and nothing more. Of course, after I acted like the Tasmanian Devil in the area she would have to clean it back up and get it squared away for the next loop but she never complained about it.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - race

Oh, just a little run through the woods of Huntsville State Park with Jeff[/caption] Lead Actor: Carrot aka Jeff Irvin I 'met' Jeff nearly 6 years ago and we were both getting our feet wet in endurance sports. At the time he was writing a blog as was I and we commented back and forth and from there our friendship took off. Since then I friendship has continued to grow and if it weren't for Jeff I do not think I would be running these long races. Jeff was the person who said: We should run a 100 mile race. I told him he is nuts but I would do the 50 with him. Before I knew it I was signing up for Lake Martin 100 and cursing him ever since but that never stopped me from signing up for RR100 this year or agreeing to race Bandera 100k three weeks prior or come up with ideas of running Coldwater Rumble 100 in January of 2016. We have even discussed running across the Gobi Desert together. Yeah, he ain't right. All of that being said I rely on Jeff for his analytical ability when it comes to gear, especially when it comes to the bike. I am impatient and do not want to review anything so I let him do the research and then just buy whatever he recommends. He got me running in Hokas and come early March I will be riding with power from the Garmin Vector pedals thanks to him. His friendship has been unwavering and invaluable.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - trail - ultra - race - run

A-Train and the misfit triathletes (Carrot, Baha, D-Rog) at IMTX 2013[/caption] Supporting Actress: A-Train aka Annie Annie is Jeff's Leading Actress (wife) and is my second sister. I cannot count the number of times that Annie and I have laughed at all the stupid stuff that her husband gets me into and how I never seem to say no to him at the same time. Simultaneously, Annie has asked me to look after Jeff at the races we do together since he seems to always end up in the Medical Tent or send me text messages when I am not at the race to ask me questions about Jeff. Her ability to laugh at our stupidity while supporting us is amazing and I thank her for allowing me to be a part of these adventures. If you want a glimpse into Annie's mindset about our friendship I will tell you a quick story about the first time we met. Jeff was racing IMTX in 2011 and I volunteered for the race and Jeff decided, without talking to Annie, to offer me his house to stay at in exchange for watching their pugs. When I showed up at their hotel room to get the garage code/key to the house the following conversation took place: Jeff: Hey Annie, can you give Jason the key and garage code to the house. Annie: This makes total sense. I am handing over my house to a guy my husband met on the internet. Jason: Not only that but he is from New York and is Puerto Rican. Jeff: And he has pugs so it is totally fine. To this day we laugh about that conversation and everything that has taken place since then. Supporting Actors:

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - race - run

Ninja and I before the start of the IDB Trail Run[/caption] Ninja aka Greg: If you read my race report then you know that Greg is a veteran of the RR100 race having finished it himself 3 years ago and then pacing every year since then. Ninja is one of the first people I ever ran a trail with. I met up with him at Cedar Ridge Preserve along with Sherrif as I was preparing for RR50 and LM100. When we were running you could tell he had an easy time on the trails as if he was born to run on them. Since that time until today I have found him to be one of the nicest people I have had the fortune to cross paths with. When I asked for pacers he was the first to respond that he was in and then took the impetus to ask if we all needed to sit down for dinner to discuss strategy. His confidence was very reassuring in the days leading up to the race and then when we were out on the course. The fact that he was open to a Bro Hug after the race was over was just icing on the cake.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - run - race

 

Gorilla aka Jeff Bennett: This dude is my kind of crazy. There is not a challenge that has been presented to him that he has run away from. A Marine and a Kona qualifier how has ridden bike on the Tour De France course, run the Boston Marathon in a Gorilla suit, canoed for 61 hours straight and won the Burro race multiple times proves that statement to be true. Jeff was the first person I texted when Lake Martin 100 was over as we were heading back to Texas from Alabama. My message to him was: Consider this your first recruitment letter for RR100. Having paced our friend Raul at Leadville 100 and all of his experience in endurance sports plus his good-natured wit I knew I needed him on the team for the 1st part of Loop 5. It was going to get dark mentally at this point and having him draw stories from all his exploits would be the panacea to this mental downturns. It turned out to be true when Korean Charmin became the topic of choice after the Nature Center Aid Station. More on Korean Charmin in the Outtakes Post that is coming out next week.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail race

Sherrif, Old Stude aka John: I met John through the Wade 70%'ers group I started hanging out and training with in preparation for Ironman Arizona. Since that point, I would say that Sherrif has become one of my biggest inspirations and a person I respect immensely. His nickname Old Stude is not unwarranted as the dude is old but he does not let that stop him from getting better at these events. I look up to John as he does not allow anything to get in the way of him reaching his goals. Being tough regardless of circumstance is something I admire in people and Sherrif has that, but he is also the first person to lend a hand, slap you on the back and congratulate you. He is also not somebody who ACTS tough as evidenced by his finish at Ironman Chattanooga and the look of disbelief that came through his tears. John's ability to push himself inspires me to push myself and I cannot thank him enough for that. The Extras: There are so many other people who were involved in the training of this event that this would go on forever but here are a few: Lee who was willing to run the trails with me every chance he got and I appreciate him for joining me on those early weekend runs through the North Shore Trails of Lake Grapevine. Dog Bait - John was not around a lot but that is because he is retired and can go gallivant around but his message just before the race was beyond supportive and I replayed it over in my mind as the race went on.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - race

Drum - Michelle is a fierce of a competitor as you will find but would not know it because there is always a smile on her face.  Through Strava and text messages she sent enormous amounts of support and confidence building encouragement.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - run

Goat - Jeff has never met a stranger and is always prepared with a positive word(s) to help you through anything.  His ability to tell me that I am crazy but say it in a good way gave me one good laugh after another not to mention the Peanut M&Ms as fuel before Loop 5.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - run - race

 

Train Wreck - Marc travels a long ways to come and hang out with our group for training rides and races.  He is willing to help anybody out and when I finally went to run with him in his neck of the woods he returned that by buying me breakfast.  Just the kind of guy that he is.

]rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - race - run 

 

The RR100 Cast of Characters That Helped Me Reach 19:22

Thank You.

   

Published in Race
Wednesday, 14 January 2015 06:29

2015 Bandera 100k Race Report

2015 Bandera 100k Ultra Trail Race will not be an event I will forget for a very long time.  When Jeff mentioned that we should do this race as a great way to end the peak weeks of training for Rocky Raccoon 100 I thought it was a great idea.  When you are running 85-90 miles per week the more races you can involve the better as it takes away the monotony of running on your own, plus it allows you to test pacing and nutrition strategy. As race day neared I started to worry about the effects of running on such a difficult course would be on my legs.  I worried about injury and getting sick as the forecast was not a pretty one.  On race day all of these went away except for keeping true to my only two goals for Bandera 100k.

  • Goal 1: Stay vertical.  Do not take chances to avoid falling and what could lead to injury.
  • Goal 2: Finish under 16 hours and get yourself a lottery ticket to Western States 100.

How did the day go?  What are my thoughts on the race organization, the course, the volunteers and everything in between?  Let's find out.

Friday January 9th - The Day Before Bandera 100k

On Friday I drove 5 hours from my home in Dallas to the Flying J Ranch where Jeff had booked us a room.  On my way down he texted me that he upgraded our room to one that had a kitchen and a laundry room.  Little did we know how important that laundry room would be. When I got to the hotel and brought my bags in Jeff and I went to grab a bite to eat and then over to the pre-race meeting and packet pick-up.  While at packet pick-up we met two athletes that had run Bandera 100k the previous year and they were able to answer the three questions we had.

  1. Q: What time should we show up?  A: Get here prior to 6am so you get a close parking space and not dealing with lines.
  2. Q: How hard is it to pick up drop bags? A: Crossroads drop bag can be picked up as you are leaving the park.
  3. Q: Are there any sections on the trail that you can run? A: Yes, middle 20 for sure. First 5 tough as well as last 5.

After hearing that information we set out to eat dinner.  Keeping to the program of eating like a King for breakfast, a Prince for lunch and a pauper for dinner I decided to have a greek salad and fried pickles.  After having a bowl of fruit before bed I was set.

Saturday January 10th - Bandera 100k Race Day

4:30am wake-up call.  Breakfast of coffee, toast with peanut butter and sliced banana and it was off to the race site. I decided that I did not need drop bags on the course and just packed a bag for the start/finish line.  In that bag I had a pair of fresh shoes to change into along with a full change of clothes.  Jeff and I made a commitment to ourselves that we would make a full change of our upper body clothes regardless of how good/warm we felt.

Loop 1 - The First 31

When we lined up I repeated my 2 goals in my head as the clock was counting down.  Having Jeff with me and running into training partner Troy at the start helped to calm me down to just run and not 'race.'  Once we started moving the nerves left and it was time to execute the plan of start slow and then go slower.  We ran with all of the 100k participants for the first 5 miles which included a section that is vertical and one athlete slipping on the ice and falling backwards into Jeff who blocked him while I grabbed the front of his shirt.  I made a mental note to make sure to be careful at that spot when I came around for Loop 2. When we reached the Nachos aid station things started to clear up in terms of athletes.  The spreading out started to take place and we could start to run.  This is also the first time on the course where the sotol is not tearing you up.  The sotol cactus hurts as it pulls your skin when you run through it.  There is no avoiding the cactus so you have to suck it up and get through it as best you can. [caption id="attachment_9797" align="alignright" width="600"]bandera 100k - race report - ultra trail run Bandera 100k Course Profile[/caption] Jeff and I stuck together through the sections from Nachos to the Cross Roads Aid station and then when reached Mile 20 he mentioned to me that I could go ahead if I wanted to secure a good time because I was able to descend really well.  I told him that if I get the itch then I would go ahead.  When we hit the last mile before getting to the Cross Roads Aid station a second time I was in heaven.  I latched onto Troy's hip and we descended that last mile at a very fast pace and I was loving it.  I had a huge smile on my face and when we hit the aid station Troy and I were laughing that we were actually able to run.  I waited around for Jeff and Troy took off.  After Jeff came into the aid station we headed out and this time after about a mile I kept running and was now on my own. I kept repeating my race strategy which was to run the flats, walk the hills and cascade gracefully down the descents.  I could feel that my legs were strong and I just kept on plugging until I reached the Last Chance aid station where I grabbed a couple of Oreos and moves on. In the last 5 miles from Last Chance to the Lodge I came upon an athlete that was walking and seemed to be walking gingerly.  When I caught up to him we were chatting and he told me that he fell at the 11km mark and probably broke a rib.  When I asked if he was going to stop at the turn around he said that he would because he was having trouble breathing and could feel the rib floating.  I was in awe that this guy went past all the aid stations between the 11km mark and what was now about the his 45k mark and still moving.  Tough. Tough. Tough. When I got to the Lodge I stuck to the plan of making a full upper body change so I swapped out my wet and sweaty tops for dry tops and it felt great.  When I took off the Hoka OneOne Mafate and put on the Hoka OneOne Stinson Trail shoe it felt even better.  My feet felt light and I was ready to run.  I opened a foil packed with a FlapJacked pancake and ate it as I set out for Loop 2. [caption id="attachment_9805" align="aligncenter" width="172"]bandera 100k - ultra trail race - runner - race report Check out the mud on my shoes at the end of Loop 1[/caption]

Loop 2 - The Second 31

As I started running I could feel how light I felt.  My hydration pack felt lighter which told me that I would need to fill up at some point because being out on those trails without liquid would not be a good idea.  My feet felt great and it seemed as if the mud was not sticking as much to the Stinson as the Mafate.  The best feeling though was the fact that I was dry. During the first part of Loop 2 I kept repeating to myself that I needed to race the daylight.  I am not a fan of wearing a headlamp and with the trail being difficult and my first time on it I wanted to get as far into the loop as I could before having to wear the headlamp. [caption id="attachment_9806" align="alignright" width="199"]Bandera 100k - ultra trail race - race report Middle of Loop 2 - Notice how clean my shoes look now[/caption] It was at this point that I made the decision that aid stations were pit stops and not an opportunity to strike up conversation.  My goal was to stop at the aid station and down two cups of coke and grab two Oreos to eat as I walked.  When I hit Nachos there were about 10-15 athletes hanging around and I went right past them following my plan.  Relentless Forward Motion was the name of the game at this point. As I came upon hills that were not steep I made the decision to run them as opposed to walking them because at this point I have nothing to conserve my energy for.  I ran the flats, the uphills and descended and I felt myself getting strong.  Reaching Chapas I followed the aid station plan and kept moving. When I hit Cross Roads the first time on Loop 2 I refilled my hydration pack as well as the two Oreos and Coke and then kept on going because I knew in this section there were some steep climbs as well as the fun descent that I wanted to hit in the daylight.  I was fortunate enough to do so and when I got to Cross Roads the second time I grabbed a cup of coffee because the sun was setting and I could feel that I was getting cold when I left aid stations due to their warmth inside the tents. As I left Cross Roads I was only focused on getting to Last Chance.  4.2 miles and nothing else mattered.  During this section I came upon Ted who was Bib# 333 and I stuck to his tail as much as I could.  Eventually Ted and I ran into two other athletes and we all ran as pack for a while.  After about 1 mile one of the athletes pulled over to use nature's restroom and we kept going.  When we reached Last Chance I could tell that we were covering quite a bit of ground at a decent pace and yet my legs still felt very strong.  When we left we ran into another athlete but it was not long before it was just Ted and I. After having run 5-6 miles together we finally decided to chat.  As I found out Ted lives in Austin and is from Zimbabwe.  What a great conversation and what a great way to kill the last 4.7 miles.  At one point I told Ted that when we hit the field he did not have to worry about out sprinting me because my only goal was sub-16 and injury free.  His response was: the podium is all yours.  We had a good laugh. Ted and I were clicking off the miles and passing a few runners when I told him that I thought we were finally done passing other athletes and this was with about 1.25 miles to go.  Sure enough within minutes a head lamp appeared from behind us and I remember hearing Ted say something along the lines of: somebody caught us. That was all I needed to hear and for whatever reason I took off like a jack rabbit.  I began descending as if it were a perfectly gorgeous 55* day out with the sun shining.  Except it was below 32*, raining and muddy beyond belief.  When I finally stopped descending and realized I had smashed my toe and knew I was within 0.25 miles of the finish line I had thought I would stop running and coast in.  My legs had a different idea and I kept running.  In fact I ran so much and so hard that I wound up being that dude that passes people as they get close to the finish line.  I apologize to the two ladies I passed but my legs were moving without my control it seemed. As I crossed the finish line I looked at the clock and saw 12:52.  Not only did I eclipse 16 hours and earn a ticket into the Western States Lottery but I also beat the 14 hour goal and was now below 13 hours as well.  WHAT?!?!?! [caption id="attachment_9795" align="alignright" width="300"]bandera 100k - ultra trail runner - race report USATF 100k National Championships[/caption] The official from USATF asked if I was in the Championships and before I knew it he was handing me a medal as well as getting a belt buckle from Joe the Race Director.  I walked into the lodge area to get my gear as I was expecting to go to the car and change and then come back to get Jeff when I realized he was standing in front of me.  When I asked how he managed to close so  fast he told me that he crushed his ankle and was driven to the finish line.  I was bummed because our number one goal to stay injury free was not accomplished by Jeff.  We walked back to the car and got changed when I saw the back of the USATF medal and it showed 3rd Place M40-49.  WHAT?!?!?!?! Two days later I am still shocked by the race I had.  It was nothing I expected but I am very happy with the outcome.  More importantly I ran this morning and my legs feel pretty good.  In addition to that Jeff says his ankle is feeling much better and he thinks he will be more than ready for Rocky Raccoon 100 on January 31st.

Thank You

Thank you to Joe for putting on a wonderful race.  Thank you to all the volunteers who braved miserable conditions to support us.  Thank you to all the athletes for lining up to run and making this an experience I will never forget.  Thank you to my wife and stepson for their never-ending support of my dumb ideas.

Published in Race Reports

Lake Martin 100 was the endurance race I signed up for thanks to the urging of Jeff and Dave.  Running a 100 mile race was never even a consideration.  I admired Emily from afar but in reality I thought she was missing a screw.  When Jeff and Dave finally broke my will and I registered for the event it was all systems go.  The training, eating properly, recovering and especially the mindset was all going to be done 100% with no short-cuts. On Wednesday evening I drove to Jeff's house so that we can get up early (4am) and pickup Caroline (our pacer) and Dave and head for Alabama around 5am.  When we arrived at our house for the week we were in awe.  This house was awesome.  Spirits were extremely high.  We were going to run 100 miles and each one of us was prepared.  Except we were not prepared for what would happen Friday into Saturday.  Rain and lots of it came down on Friday (all day) and Saturday (into the late part of the morning.)  I never once thought about how much this rain would change the course. Saturday morning we got up at 4:30am and had breakfast.  I ate two banana and peanut butter sandwiches with coffee.  Driving to the race I was a bit nervous about what was going to unfold.  Luckily for me these guys are a barrel of laughs and that helped take away the edge quite a bit.  We unloaded the car and setup our drop bag section in The Stables.  This race was conducted on a horse farm and The Stables would become the sight for sore eyes over the course of the next 28 hours. We lined up at the starting line and promptly at 6:30am the race was under way.  The first part of the race is straight uphill and right then and there we should have known that the ass kicking we were going to get all day was about to unfold.  You just keep running straight up the driveway and make a left onto as steep of a downhill as the uphill.  Within 5 minutes your quads and your hamstrings have been worked more than one can imagine.  We hit the trail and MUD.  I do not mean a little bit of mud.   I am talking ankle-deep mud.  The kind of mud you are afraid that you will pick your foot up and your shoe will be still in the mud.  This race officially entered crazy world with that. After about a mile into the race we befriended Martin.  A nice Irishman from St. Louis who chatted with us about racing 100 milers.  After a few minutes with him we came across the first of what seemed like 12 stream crossings.  The problem is that the stream was now a river from all the rain.  There was no tip-toeing over the water or looking for rocks.  You had no choice but to go right through it and so we did.  The water came up to our calf and was freezing cold.  Now soaked, cold and facing the idea of 98 more miles of this turned this race into the mental fight of a lifetime. We eventually left Martin and came up on a handful of other racers.  We chatted with them and took GoPro video with them.  It was all so much fun but that may have been the last of the fun as the course continued its soul crushing.  You were either going up the steepest inclines you can imagine, going down the steepest inclines or crossing water.  Very rarely were you able to actually run.  This was not just a physical endurance test but mental.  Nothing about the Lake Martin 100 was going to be easy. Just when you think you have done enough climbing you come to an area labeled Heaven Hill.  It is appropriately named because every step takes you closer to heaven.  You think to yourself:  this has to end soon.  The problem is it doesn't.  It keeps going up.  Of course when you finish you come across the valley and it is gorgeous.  You are above the tree line and can see for miles on end.  This is where the first aid station is.  There is so much food that you could easily spend 30 minutes there just eating. You leave Heaven Hill and run a 5 mile loop.  I say run because there are actual opportunities to let your legs loose.  It is in this section where you are capable of averaging 13:00/mi paces.  You read that right.  If you manage 13:00/mi here you are doing awesome.  At the end of the 5 mile loop you come back to Heaven Hill to check in and grab more food.  The next 5 mile loop is another area where you can run and we made friends here again.  Spoke to people and had the opportunity to laugh about the fact that the first 8 miles almost made us quit. At the end of this 18 mile loop you come back to The Stables.  Here you have access to your drop bag where you can change, eat, sit, etc.  After a few moments here it is back out for the final 7 miles of the first of 4 25 mile loops that creates the Lake Martin 100.  The 7 mile loop is just as crushing as the first 8 miles.  We were told that the 7 mile loop would be fairly easy.  The problem is that this information came from a billy-goat or somebody who likes to take pleasure in other's suffering.  Out of The Stables you walk for nearly 0.5 miles UPHILL.  You get onto the trail and it is a whip.  Again, more up and down with more mud.  More suffering and less laughing.  This race was going to test you every step of the way. When we finished the entire 25 mile loop in 5:39 I was surprised.  I could not believe that we managed to finish the 25 miles let alone in a time that I considered respectable.  I had plans of racing the first 25 miles at a 12:00/mi pace and we finished in 13:36.  The 22 hour and 30 minute goal was out the window.  There was no chance that was happening.  Time to head out for Loop 2.

Lake Martin 100 Loop 2 Highlights:

As we started running I noticed that Dave was not looking good.  We were chatting and he said to me that he was getting a bit light-headed.  This was not a good sign this early into the race.  I became worried and wanted to make sure that nothing happened to him along with keeping us moving forward. Near the same time I noticed that Jeff was going through the course very gingerly.  His legs just did not want to move it seemed. I kept my mouth shut because I did not want to add any stress to these guys considering how stressful this race already was. Probably 3 miles into the 2nd loop I left both Jeff and Dave.  My legs were feeling great and I was ready to keep moving.  I had told Dave that the last thing I wanted to do was spend all night out there.  The idea of racing and seeing the sun go down and then come back up was terrifying to me so I took off. When I reached the Heaven Hill aid station I ran into Gordon and it was a sight for sore eyes.  The moment I saw him my smile got huge and I gave him a big hug.  A familiar face was needed after getting my ass kicked for the previous 8 miles.  I hung with Gordon for about 10 minutes waiting for Jeff and Dave before taking off again.  It was at that moment that I knew they were not going to finish this race and I would be taking this on by myself.  As I came into The Stables I saw Caroline and we chatted.  She told me that the guys had texted her and were concerned about making the cut-off.  I left and set-out for the next 7 mile loop knowing I would see them when I got back.  I took my phone out and texted my wife to tell her that I loved her and that she was a main inspiration for me.  It was tough knowing that the guys were not going to be coming out with me.  My mind had to turn to steel and not allow me to give up. As I came into The Stables to end the 50 miles I looked at the time and I had been on the course for 12 hours.  For some comparison, Jeff and I did Rocky Raccoon 50 in under 9 hours.  This race was that hard.  To have a difference of 3 hours tells you how difficult the course was.  The crazy thing is I am in better shape today than in early February and could barely manage a 14:30/mi pace.  When I saw the guys in The Stables we chatted and they told me they were not going back out.  I felt defeated but knew that I had to finish this race for them.  I grabbed my headlamp and maglite because I knew it would turn dark while out on the course.

Lake Martin 100 Loop 3 Highlights:

About an hour into Loop 3 it got dark.  I stopped running and got my headlamp out along with the light.  I still felt really good and was able to run.  The biggest issue was the mental aspect of now being in the dark.  This got to me quite a bit.  I had to start thinking of things that would allow me to keep moving forward.

  • Susan Lacke and her MTFU mantra.
  • Emily and her SIUB mantra.
  • Knowing that at the end of the 68 miles I would pick up Caroline and have a partner to run with for 25 miles.

My body felt decent considering the lack of sleep and the physical toll I was taking.  It was during this section that I ran into Anastasia and Crystal.  They were awesome to chat with in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night.  They asked me if it were my first 100 and how I felt.  I told them I felt great and that I was going to finish this race.  They gave me the most positive encouragement and I held onto that for the rest of the race. During the night you have next to no visibility and the climbs that you knew you were coming upon during the light were no longer that obvious.  You were able to run when out of the woods but while inside the trees you could not really figure it out and had to walk when you felt your Achilles and hamstring get tight.  That was the clue to the idea that you were going uphill. As I took another step I kept telling myself that I just needed to finish the 18 miles to get to Caroline.  Just keep focusing on the goal for this loop was my mantra.  As I managed my way around the course hoping to not get hurt and just finishing.  At this point time to finish became irrelevant.  Finishing became the only goal. Upon entering The Stables I saw Caroline and then moved to the bag drop section where Jeff and Dave were.  These guys were so supportive.  They gave me so much encouragement and made me feel that I could easily do this.  Caroline and I left for the next 7 miles of the third loop.  Because of how hard this section is there was not a lot of running but having company was awesome. When we finished Loop 3 I took the time to change socks and put the Hoka One One Mafate back on my feet.  I used all three pair of Hoka I brought with me.  I started with the Mafate then switched to the Stinson and then the Bondi for the first three loops.  Every one of them was covered in mud and weighed far more than they should have because of all the water that they absorbed.

Lake Martin 100 Loop 4 Highlights:

The final loop of the Lake Martin 100 was not going to be a pretty sight.  I was exhausted beyond belief.  My body was sore and my mind was questioning my own sanity.  I had not gone into delirium but I was not all there.  This final loop became nothing but survival. Caroline kept pushing me and encouraging me to keep moving.  We came across Anastasia and Crystal throughout much of this loop.  We were moving between places 3 and 6 as there was another runner out there with us.  I kept thinking that finishing in the Top 3 in my first 100 mile would be a hell of an accomplishment. We reached a section that is road and as I was walking I could feel my eyes closing.  I would take 3-4 steps while sleeping on my feet.  Once I opened my eyes to catch where I was I would close them again.  The sleep walking was helping me as I moved through the easier part of the course. When Caroline and I reached The Stables it was fully light out.  Since the last 7 miles was going to be nothing but walking there was not a need for Caroline to join me.  I went out without a Garmin and just planned on walking.  My legs were stiff and sore.  My feet were a shredded mess and every step hurt.  This was not going to be pretty. I had a short conversation with Karen in my head about getting through this and focusing on getting in before the 28 hour mark.  As each step went by and I got closer to the finish line I was overcome with joy.  This 100 mile run was not as much physical as it was mental.  The first 8 and the last 7 miles were the toughest miles I have ever covered.  When you add up the distance that is 60 miles of soul crushing activity.  Regardless of sport or time in a race these 60 miles were bordering on the impossible. As I came down the final hill and saw the The Stables in the distance I pumped my fist and started to cry a bit at the enormity of the accomplishment.  I had goals before the gun went off.  Throughout the race the goals were a moving target.  I managed to hit each of those targets and after nearly 28 hours I can say: Lake Martin 100  ….. I Finished! [flagallery gid=27]

** If you want the R rated version just contact me.

Published in Race Reports
Thursday, 20 March 2014 09:09

Running 100 Miles Fears And Thoughts

[caption id="attachment_9530" align="alignright" width="151"]running 100 miles - fear - thoughts Source: Lake Martin Website[/caption] Running 100 miles in a couple of weeks or even one week is daunting.  Running 100 miles in one day can be downright frightening.  When I registered for Lake Martin 100 I was excited to be taking on a challenge that I never saw coming.  It was one of those moments where you think to yourself:  F' It Let's Do This.  After hitting register you think to yourself......what did I just get myself into. I applied all the training mantras and thoughts from going through Ironman cycles to this training yet it always seemed different.  I tried to incorporate swimming and biking when I could but it just seemed to get in the way.  As a matter of fact I have not been in a pool in about 4 weeks and my bike has not seen my a$$ in more than 6 weeks.  The training, especially the overload weeks, did not allow time nor the motivation to do either of the other sports.  There were days were I wanted to go swimming to aid in the recovery process but then thought to myself:  pack bag, get in car, drive, change, swim, change, get in car, drive, unpack bag.  No thanks I'll just sit on this couch and exercise my thumb as I go from channel to channel. Throughout the heavy training I would think about scenarios in which I needed a response for that just in case moment on the course.  Yesterday, I was speaking with co-workers about running 100 miles and they asked me was I worried if I would finish.  My response came quick and with authority:  NO.  I have trained myself to combat the physical fatigue that is going to occur but I wonder where the mind will go when the time ticks closer to 14-15 hours.  I then started to think about other things that give me pause and this brief list is what I came up with.
  1. Temperatures when the sun goes down.  As many of you know I am a cold-weather wuss even though I ran the A-OK in sub-20* temps I am not a fan of cold weather.  I would rather run in heat and humidity like I did at Ironman Texas than to run in anything below 40*.  When the sun goes down we will have been on the course for over 12 hours and thus the mindset then needed to battle the physical fatigue is going to increase because the sun has gone to sleep and the temperatures will get colder.  Making sure that the gloves I start the race with are in my hydration vest so that they are on my person when the time comes.
  2. Weight Loss.  There is not much I can do about this but it is in the back of my head.  When Jeff and I ran Rocky Raccoon 50 back in February I managed to lose nearly 10 pounds despite drinking close to 120 oz of liquid while consuming a Oreo, M&Ms, Potatoes and liquid calories.  My fear is more about the strength needed at the end of the race to carry on.  Dropping that kind of weight may hamper my ability to move on.  The good news is the chance to eat like Michael Phelps the next morning.  Think of all the pancakes, waffles, eggs, toast, hash browns, fruit, oatmeal and coffee one can eat after a running 100 miles. OK, not a fear anymore.
  3. Blisters On My Feet. This is another scenario in which preparation may not be enough.  I will be cutting my toe nails this weekend so that they can grow a bit but not be too long for the race.  I bring this up because I forgot to do just that for RR50 and while diving downhill I felt my toe grab my sock and sure enough a huge blood blister formed.  Regardless of blisters forming I will finish the race but being in discomfort for very long will take a toll on the mind.
  4. Caroline Our Crew Leader. She scares me.  I am not kidding.  She is a 3:05 marathoner and having to deal with three idiots in the middle of the Alabama woods may be more than she can handle and thus turn into the person that just yells at us and crushes our souls.....I am just kidding.  In our exchanges for the past couple of weeks Caroline is the one thing in this race that is going to be constant....other than PAIN!!!!
Ironically, the pain is not something that I fear.  We all know it is coming and we all know we are going to get through it.  It is the unknown that causes the most pause when it comes to running 100 miles.  That being said there is a start line and a finish line that we all will see.  What happens between those lines is going to be an experience and one that I am thrilled to be sharing with Jeff, Dave, Caroline and the GoPro. OK, maybe there should be another fear...... [caption id="attachment_9531" align="aligncenter" width="300"]running 100 miles - fear - thoughts Source: Lake Martin Website[/caption]
Published in Race
Tuesday, 04 February 2014 09:29

Ultra Trail Run Training - The Survival Post

Ultra trail run or ultra trail runner was not a part of my vocabulary as of 11 weeks ago.  The idea and notion of running that far made any sense.  I would laugh at Jeff when he brought it up.  I called it crazy and just a dumb idea.  I would look at the training and think to myself:  70+ mile weeks is just ridiculous.  Why would anybody do that?  Then I started to think more about it and slowly my mindset began to change.  Why not do it?  Why not push myself further than I had in the past?  Why not go out on the limb and should it break it would only be because I tried. Along the course of these 11 weeks I learned a lot about training for an ultra trail run that I can use for the remainder of my training leading up to the Lake Martin 100.  I look at the overload weeks and think 85-95 miles in a week.....that sounds crazy enough to be awesome.  Mindset is one thing that you need to have going into long distance endurance sports training especially if the sport is specific like cycling or running.  When there is a combination of sports the mindset is a bit easier to get to because the monotony is broken up.  One way to think about this is your job.  When you are tasked with pulling the same report on a weekly or daily basis you find that report to be a pain in the ass but when asked to work on a project rather than pulling that report you get excited.  Ultra trail run training is that report.  Triathlon, for me, is that project. Here are a few tips I learned along the way to this point.  This is not a comprehensive list but I believe that following these tips will allow you to not only survive but to thrive on your way to your first ultra trail run whether that is 50k, 100k, 50 miles or 100 miles.

Ultra Trail Run Training Tips

  1.  Eat The Elephant One Bite At A Time. As a vegetarian I could have put something more plant friendly but the point is that the entire training plan is so big that it seems overwhelming.  Focus on that day's training and not the next day's or the upcoming weekends.  Live in the moment and focus on what you are setting out to accomplish.  This means that if it is a 4 mile run that you focus on those 4 miles and not think about the 25 mile run you have coming up in 4 days.  Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will your ability to cover these distances.  Instead it is all bricks in the wall to getting you to the starting line.
  2. [caption id="attachment_9402" align="alignright" width="300"]ultra trail run - tips - training Source: Outside Online[/caption] Recover Properly. Recovery is not just the time you spend doing nothing sitting on the couch.  That is important but so is the amount of sleep you get.  In addition to that it is the right food that you put into your system.  Let us also not forget about stretching.  Now, I can tell you that I do not stretch.  I stop running and head right for the kitchen but never once do I stop to lay on my back and stretch out my hamstrings.  Instead I go to my chiropractor on a weekly basis (2x per week during overload weeks) and allow him to stretch me out as well as adjusting me.  I also get a massage at least every other week.  This allows my body and, just as importantly, my mind to relax and get away.
  3. Take Taper Seriously. In the past I would have found ways to sneak in a few extra minutes of swimming or cycling or running during taper week thinking that it could not hurt.  For this training cycle I am taking taper so seriously that I am not doing anything not on my training plan.  If it isn't there I am not doing it.  I am focusing on my nutrition and getting as much sleep as possible.  I am running these last few miles at a Z1 HR and not going above that one bit.  I am truly paying attention to taper and when I go out on these short runs I feel a spring in my step, a faster pace and the confidence is building.  In taper weeks prior to this one I would go for a short run and feel either fatigued or playing mind-games with myself that my legs were not sore.  That is not the case this time.  I have not felt stronger the week before a race as I do today.
  4. Figure Out Your Nutrition During Long Runs. I have run the equivalent of 12 half-marathons plus over the course of these 11 weeks.  On those runs I have run with the nutrition I plan on using on the course with what would be the equivalent of 225 calories per hour.  By testing and testing and testing the taste, cal/hr, electrolytes, carbs and protein mix I am confident in what I need to bring with me to the course on Saturday morning.  In addition to figuring out exactly what you are going to use you must use these long runs to figure out exactly how you are going to carry these calories.  I have done the runs with my running vest and a flask, even during 'short' runs of less than 10 miles.  Why?  To get comfortable with the extra weight.  To get comfortable with drinking while running.  To get comfortable with the vest and how to fix/adjust in case of anything happening.
  5. [caption id="attachment_9403" align="alignright" width="300"]ultra trail run - tips - training Source: (a href="/chrisultra.blogspot.com/">Chris Ultra Blogl[/caption] Run At All Different Times Of The Day And On Different Surfaces In Different Weather. An ultra trail run is going to take a long time.  This means that you are going to start before the sun comes up and in some cases finish after the sun goes down.  That is a lot of hours to cover while on your feet and different things are going to happen.  Running in the dark is different from running during the day.  Running on trails is different from running on the road.  Running in the rain is different from running in the heat and humidity. As you can see all of these items are different and you need to be prepared for these changes as much as possible.  The only way to do that is to train in those elements.
I will repeat that these tips are not exhaustive.  There is much more that goes into training for an ultra trail run but these will get you started.  I will be 100% honest and tell you, the reader, that this training is harder than Ironman training.  From a physical perspective there isn't much difference but rather in the mental fortitude that it takes.  Running 26 miles on Saturday is hard.  Running 13 miles the following day is harder and I think that is why ultra trail run training is harder than Ironman training.  I can ride my bike for 6 hours on Saturday and then run for 2 hours on Sunday because they are completely different.  I had a hard time psyching myself up to go out for a long run on Sunday after having done a long(er) run on Sunday.

What Are Your Tips For Surviving An Ultra Trail Run Training Program?

Published in Train
Ultra Trail runner were not words I would have ever used to  describe me when I started down the endurance athlete path.  Like anybody else I started with a half-marathon and that was ok but I wanted more.  I ran a marathon, and probably should have quit then because I couldn't walk afterwards, yet something kept pulling me back in.  I got into triathlon and raced sprint and Olympic distance races at first but again needed more.  When I raced my first Half-Ironman I was already of the belief that an Ironman would not be far behind.  Once that third Ironman was over and the fourth (Ironman Chattanooga) was registered for there seemed to be a void. There was a vacuum where the endorphins, training, food logging and elated exhaustion was missing.  Enter the world of Rocky Racoon 50.  The words ultra trail runner would now become part of the adjective list used to define me.  Somewhere along the way I had the following conversation with myself, and also a little help from my friends:
  • Me: When RR50 is over will you have time to properly train for 70.3 Galveston?
  • Me: Can you race Galveston by winging it?  Do you want to wing it?  Do you want to be great that day or just say you did it?
  • Me: Jeff is running Lake Martin in late March.  Can the 50 miler be a 'training' run for that? You'll have the base.
  • Jeff:  Yeah dude, c'mon and race Lake Martin with me. I have over 24 hours worth of stories for you to listen to.
  • Me: Yes, running a 100 miler makes much more sense than racing a 70.3 triathlon.
[caption id="attachment_9345" align="alignleft" width="300"]ultra trail run - triathlon - observations This Pic Of Denali National Park Looks Awesome
Source: Rob Hammer Photography[/caption] While I have not registered for Lake Martin 100 I have looked at condos.  I have set up a budget to pay for the race and the accommodations.  I have added to the Rocky Raccoon 50 training plan to carry me through March 29.  So it seems like a forgone conclusion that Lake Martin 100 will be my first, and not likely last. attempt at a belt buckle a la my friend Emily - RUN EMZ. And while the idea that running 100 miles seems more sane than that of a 70.3 mile triathlon there is more reason to this decision than meets the eye.  The ultra trail run training has proven to be a great way to train for an Ironman without specifically training for an Ironman.  How?  Here is why:

Ultra Trail Run Training Observations

  1. Embrace The Pain.  I thought I was a badass for getting through 18 months of Ironman training for 3 Ironman races.  Pfft!!!! That sh*t was nothing compared to this.  I am running upwards of 60 miles per week and capping off each week with a 12-13 mile run through Cedar Ridge Preserve.  For those not in the Dallas area, that MF'er is HARD.  This past week I asked the following questions of myself while 'running' 12 miles with over 1500 feet of elevation gain:
    • Are you sure you want to do this 50 and then 100 mile race?  This seems insane.
    • Are you kidding me?  Aren't you man enough to climb this nearly vertical wall of dirt? Get your ass up there.
    • Really dude?  Really?  You are doing this by choice? You do not have the ability to do this.
  2. My aerobic ability is a good as it has ever been.  I ran a 12 mile warm-up on Saturday followed by a 15k where I managed 7:30-7:40 per mile and finished in 11th place in my Age Group while averaging a Heart Rate that was at the Top End Of Zone 2 Without Going Into Zone 3.
  3. I have swum nearly 50% less in the first two of January 2014 compared to January 2013 (8,900y v 17,150y) and yet I posted a 14:20 800 TT last week (PR is 13:36) and yesterday posted sub 1:40/100y without feeling taxed.  The mindset of hard has changed.  The bar for what is difficult has moved and I am now able to push my body further because the mind is not quitting as early as it used to.
  4. I am becoming more efficient at using fat for fuel.  I am running very early in the morning Monday through Friday (430-5a start times) and thus am not eating breakfast prior to those runs.  These runs are typically 5 - 10 miles in length so there is truly no need to eat anything prior to starting.  By being able to use fat for fuel I am getting leaner but more importantly I do not have the need to carry loads of fuel.  Right now my plan for the 50 miler is to wear a Nathan Pak with ~800 calories along with two flasks of EFS Liquid Shot totaling another 800 calories.  As I run if I feel the need for a banana at an aid station here or there I will take one in.  The plan will put me at approximately 200-250 calories per hour.  Yes, I have been training on that and it has worked and my recovery has been sound as well.
[caption id="attachment_9346" align="alignleft" width="300"]ultra trail run - triathlon - observations Source: Competitor Magazine[/caption] When I put these 4 factors into my head and converse with myself I can see that the ultra trail run training is going to be enormously beneficial to my training and performance at Ironman Chattanooga.  Learning where I can push myself, understanding the use of fat as fuel instead of extra carbs on the bike or run and having an advantage aerobically plays well into Ironman racing. While 2014 is only two weeks old I am already contemplating what happens after Ironman Chattanooga in September.  Take a month off and start training for an earlier in the year 50 miler so I can  race Galveston?  Sounds like a pretty solid plan, but not until I add Ultra Trail Runner to the list of adjectives.

Have You Seen A Benefit To Your Triathlon Performance From Ultra Trail Run Training?

Here is an article from Competitor Magazine on Trail Running Tips For Triathletes.  
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
Tuesday, 27 August 2013 07:44

Wee-Chi-Tah Trail Half-Marathon Race Report

Wee-Chi-Tah Half-Marathon Trail Race

Let's continue the story from yesterday shall we?  In case you missed it here is the recap of the Hotter N Hell Hundred Bike Race.

wee chi tah - trail run - race report

 After the bike ride we showered, had dinner and back to bed early again as we needed to get up for a half-marathon trail race.  Makes total sense doesn't it?  When the alarm went off I don't think Jeff, nor I, moved.  What in God's name were we thinking? Totally spent and dehydrated we pushed our way to the car while Bob hung back as he wasn't running and was going to head back to Austin. Before I tell you about the race let me just say that I have NEVER done a trail race.  Karen has and has told me that they are just different and you run them slower.  I thought great....run slower so more of a recovery run.  Yeah, not so much.  You start out and everybody is gung-ho and you go with the flow out of the gate.  Jeff was gone in seconds and I was caught behind other athletes, which was not a bad thing. I didn't know what to expect so going out a bit slow was fine by me.  That is until the first mile was done, my watch beeped and I saw: 8:48.  What was I thinking?  If those people were not in front of me I probably would have run a rather idiotic 7 minute mile.  Holy hell this is going to be hard was my second thought. I ran and with every step my quads screamed, then my calf, then my hamstring.  Even my arms and neck were yelling at me to stop and lay down. I hammered on and eventually wound up with two guys behind me and we were chatting while running single track.  These guys were pushing me otherwise I don't know if I would have kept on.  We were together for about 2-3 miles but on the trail that seems like an eternity of having guys breathing down your neck.  At once you want to yell at them to pass you but at the same time you are happy to have partners because you have no clue where you are or where you are going.  The small chit-chat that last 20-3o seconds and then stops for minutes helps pass the time. Now, this trail racing stuff is HARD. You are going up and down repeatedly. You are jumping over roots and rocks.  Avoiding getting hit in the face by twigs.  You have to be on your game.  At one point we went through a series of ups and down that while only 1/4 mile in length kicked my ass.  I reached the top of one of the dunes and stopped dead in my tracks.  One of the two guys, who had resorted to calling me Jeep because of my shirt yelled out: C'mon Jeep you cannot stop now. You are my pacer. I said alright let's do this and I ran not 100 feet, not 10 feet but one foot before I never saw him again. I just could not keep up the pace but I was determined not to walk.  He had given me the inspiration to run the entire race.  This was at mile 6 1/4 (yes, that is what the mile marker said) and I knew that I had about 1 hour and 10 minutes to go.  Let's do this. At one point you go over a suspension bridge that sways and rocks and I fell into the fence three times because I did not have the leg strength to hold myself up. Once past that you run up a cliff and a spectator yelled: #472 looking strong. I replied with:  You are not a very good liar.  I was done until we crossed a stream and the cold water on my feet made me want to stop and lay down.  One of the volunteers must have seen my face and said only one more mile to go. I heard this and started running, then I heard 'go you can get in under 2 hours.'  WHAT? I huffed and I puffed and I climbed the last hill then crossed the finish line and hit my stop button at 2:00:00.  HOLY SH*T are you kidding me?  Looking to go 2:30 and I beat that by 30 minutes.  I was spent. I could not stand at the finish line and the idea of doing anything other than involuntary breathing was impossible. Caught up with Jeff afterwards and he said that was the hardest trail race he had ever done.  Hands down.  I don't know if I'll go trail running anytime soon but to put down a 2 hour run on that course made my day beyond belief.  We grabbed some bananas, oranges and water then headed off to the car where I proceeded wrap a towel around my waist and strip in the parking lot because I just did not care anymore.  I was spent and tired and hungry and dirty. In other words I was done. Off to the Motel 6 for a quick shower, then out for breakfast and a two-hour ride back home.  All in a good day's work to say the least. This endurance weekend was a big boost of confidence for the rest of 2013 and truly for what lays ahead in 2014.  If my body can react to a trail run and finish in 2 hours after pouring myself over my handlebars the day before in a 100 mile race then I truly believe that a 5:30-5:45 bike split with a 3:45 run split at an Ironman next year is well within reach.  Now to work on my swim anxiety.

Published in Race Reports