Ultra running is defined as anything longer than 26.2 miles, or the marathon distance.  I recently joined the ranks of ultra running by participating in 4 different events over the months of February and March.  The distances covered were 50k (31.1 miles), 50 Miles and 100 Miles.  In the past these distances would have been daunting.  As a matter of fact the 100 mile distance is still daunting and will probably always give me pause before hitting the register button.  The 100 mile race has the opportunity to present so many obstacles, especially on the trails and in the middle of the night, that it is the race that I think I will always question my preparedness just before the start of it. The question of ultra running being 'good' for you physically came up earlier today when Regina posted a video and tagged Jeff and I in it.  I watched the video and found myself shaking my head at every comment the athlete made.  All of it made so much sense to me except for one comment:  "I have a lot of fun doing this but I don't think it is necessarily good for you."  It was this comment that started a conversation amongst us, including Kevin.

The consensus seemed to be that running this distance, in the video the athlete is running 135 miles, is not good for you physically.  At first I agreed but then I started thinking a bit more about it.  At what point is there diminishing returns on a race of this distance?  Athletes are not necessarily going into Zone 3 and Zone 4 in their heart rate, so what is the taxing portion?  Is the question more about being sleep deprived?  What about those in the armed forces that are up for longer periods of time? More questions than this popped up but the reality, for me, is that this is not a scenario in which you are looking to improve fitness.  Your fitness is achieved in the weeks and months leading up to the event.  Your body is then restored during the recovery phase, which for me is currently at the end of Week 2 from Lake Martin 100.  Did I gain any fitness over the course of 28 hours?  I highly doubt it but I did gain something much more valuable at this point and for the future. What I gained from ultra running was a mental advantage and that is priceless and will pay dividends going forward.  When I first took on this challenge I looked at the miles that I would be running on a daily and weekly basis during the training.  Weeks that included 85 miles and 90 miles.  Back to back days of 31 miles and 20 miles were staring me in the face.  They seemed so daunting but as the training continued these became commonplace and while not 'easy' they were no longer frightening.  My mental ability to comprehend the distance, break it down into manageable parts and then achieve the goals improved from Day 1 through the start of the race.  During the race I was able to rely on the fact that I had put in 18 weeks of training that involved 1,000 miles of running and I was prepared, both physically and mentally. Today I am looking at a race schedule for the start of 2015 that includes a 100k, 100 miler and 50 miler all in the course of a month.  3 months ago I would have laughed to keep from crying.  Today I smile and say:  Yes, I can do this.  Today I think to myself about how awesome it is going to be to go through the training and accomplishing the daily goals and race goals.  This mental edge will allow me to perform day in and day out and to achieve even better physical fitness.   This to me is far more of a benefit than any detriment that may or may not come from running 100 miles in a given day. A year ago there was an article on TriathleteMagazine.com regarding what happens to the human body during an Ironman.  This was an interesting look into the physiological process that takes place.  An Ironman is hard, but running a 100 miler is harder so this take can be changed in terms of the physical tolls.  All that being said the following line from the article is what makes me think that the mental gains far outweigh the physical toll that takes place during these endurance events, including ultra running: Fortunately, though, those years are restored to you within a few weeks. Then it’s time to start thinking about tickling the reaper again. I would sacrifice a few weeks of non-activity to recover in order to reap the benefits that the sense of accomplishment brings.

Do You Think Ultra Running, Or Endurance Events, Are Good For You?

  For reference here is an article from The New York Time that is also interesting reading. New York Times Blog: What Ultra Marathons Do To Our Body.

Published in Train

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
Fashion is not one of the qualities that the Hoka One One brings to the party but they certainly bring consistency.  In the grand scheme of things isn't that what we should be aiming for?  Form rather than how good we look as we shuffle around the marathon course at the end of an Ironman because we were not recovered enough to get our training in?  In the most recent past, I have written two blog post reviews for Hoka One One that you can read here and here and the comments were somewhat shocking, but they really shouldn't have been. When Jeff, Kevin and Karen started wearing the Hoka shoe and screaming at me how awesome they were, how awesome they were at allowing me to feel recovered enough to run more and more I laughed. As a matter of fact I called them moon shoes and made a vow that I would never run in them.  True to my word I never did put a pair of these shoes on my feet despite the gallery hollering at me to get a pair and a box of said shoes showing up at my front door on a routine basis.  No way am I ever going to wear that.  How is that going to LOOK?  What kind of fashion statement am I making by wearing these clown shoes? [caption id="attachment_9511" align="aligncenter" width="600"]fashion - hoka - trail running Source: Hoka One One AUS[/caption] Oh, how times have changed.  When Rocky Raccoon 50 training started back on November 25th I did not own a pair.  I was going from riding my bike for 1550 miles over September and October to running miles and miles.  That first week I ran 50 miles (previous week was about 27 - take that 10% increase) but I quickly realized that running 50 miles on a weekly basis was going to take a huge toll on my legs, from my ankles to my hips.  Eventually, that would lead to a breakdown mentally as the idea of running in soreness and pain would be too much.  I ran in the Hoka Mafate first on December 5th and then again on the 11th.  The days then started stringing together and I ordered a second pair.  Before I knew it I was ordering a 3rd pair and now I am like a ravenous dog in front of a piece of meat when I see the shoes on clearance at Running Warehouse.  I am clicking and clicking and putting in discount codes and self-high fiving when the receipt is emailed to me. Once I got past the idea of being a fashion fool and realizing that in order to achieve my goals as an endurance junkie that fashion just did not matter.  My mind and body want to do great things like run across the Gobi Desert but in order to do that I need to train.  Not just train, but train vigorously and keep pushing myself.  For this to occur I need to go out on a regular basis and run and run and run.  For this to take place my fashion sense is best left to what I am wearing to the office and strapping those maximalist shoes to my feet and enjoying the pillow goodness that the Hoka offers. As a matter of fact, it would seem that many people are realizing this as companies like Brooks and New Balance have entered the maximalist market.  Maybe the fact that these shoes seem 'cool' coming from those brands will help them sell and allow people to realize that in order to reach their endurance goals they have to be consistent in their training.  One way to be consistent is to not fall victim to the 'I do not want to run because I am sore' excuse.  Hoka and any other maximalist shoe that comes out is not the end all be all but they sure are a great start. [caption id="attachment_9510" align="alignright" width="300"]fashion - belt buckle - lake martin Source: Lake Martin 100 Mile[/caption] Looking back at my training log I have run 932.29 miles since the start of Lake Martin 100 training.  I can tell you that not one day did I not want to run because my legs were hurting too bad.  Yes there were days of soreness, or days of lack of sleep but nothing from an injury stand point that would keep me from tying my laces and heading out the door.  When the 100 mile endurance event is over I will have accumulated approximately 1100 miles and I will cross the finish line with my arms up thanking my wife, my training and race partners but there will also be a special thank you to the Hoka because in this case consistency will have triumphed over fashion. Let me correct myself.  Form will have led to fashion when I am sporting that belt buckle.

Has The Hoka Lack of Fashion Prevented You From Buying A Pair?

    * Cover Photo Credit: Run Blogger
Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_9476" align="alignright" width="300"]physical mental adaptation - endurance sports - training Source: Steve Ingham Blog[/caption] Physical and mental adaptations are taking place during these training stressors that I am under-going during what can be described as Cycle III of the Lake Martin 100 training.  When I first thought about training for a 100 mile race I was inclined to say to myself:  I will never get through this.  As the days and weeks have passed I have seen my body and my mind adapt to the training and this isn't the first time.  During the three training cycles for the various Ironman races the ability to adapt to the training stressors became more and more evident. Yesterday I was at the chiropractor and we were discussing the training for Lake Martin as well as the events that took place on Sunday at The Cowtown Ultra-Marathon.  During that conversation I uttered the words:  the physical and mental adaptation is quite evident.  The look was peculiar but I went on to explain the following:
  • Running 15 miles is no longer a chore.  It is ~2 hours of training and not 15 miles.  Mental adaptation.
  • Running faster at a lower heart rate has become the norm.  Physical adaptation.
The miles I am covering have all been around the 145-148 bpm range.  This for me is the low-end of Z2 and my body has been able to adapt to this range and along the way I have gotten faster.  This past Sunday I ran 31.25 miles and was able to run the last 10k of that distance at an 8:25/mi pace.  I was able to do this because I kept to around 10:00/mi for the first 25 miles (paced Karen to a 10 minute marathon PR) and my heart rate was barely into Z1.  My energy sources were not tapped and I had physically adapted to burning fat for fuel.  My glycogen levels were not depleted and this allowed me to pick up the pace like I did for the final 6.25 miles. Had I not been training at a slower than capable pace then running those first 25 miles would have been a chore.  Mentally I have been able to accept the fact that in order to keep the motor running for 50 or 100 miles, even 30 miles, I cannot go out and run it as if I am trying to qualify for Boston.  Laying out a race strategy for Lake Martin means that I will have to be able to go slow out of the gate.  Walk the uphill from the start, run the flats and cascade the downhills.  Mentally this would have been nearly impossible a year ago as I would say:  In order to get faster I have to go faster.  The difference is that this year it is about going longer.  In order for me to go longer I need to start out slower. [caption id="attachment_9475" align="alignright" width="300"]physical mental adaptation - endurance sports - training Source: Heather Hagen Blog[/caption] The physical and mental adaptions that is occurring during these training stressors will carry over when Ironman specific training begins.  Matter of fact I saw that happening when I went on a biking binge in September and October.  During those two months I cycled 750 and 800 miles respectively.  As the miles piled on my speeds picked up and when I combine that with what I am seeing from these huge running blocks leads me to believe that the same can be done for swimming.  Of course, I would have to actually go to the pool in order for that to happen.

Do You Experience Physical And Mental Adaptation When In The Midst Of Large Training Blocks?

Published in Train
The Ironman Chattanooga Challenge started out with a challenge from me to KC to blog our way through a year of training for Ironman Chattanooga on September 28, 2014.  We knew that along the way we would be facing different scenarios that would force us to move training days and rest days.  We would skip parties, have to work late, sleep in all along the way to our own finish line.  Each of our travels there would be different and the point is to showcase that there is more than one way to get to the finish line of an Ironman. This week seems to showcase that we are built to crave a challenge.  Essentially we are looking at a challenge within a challenge.  It isn't hard enough to train for an Ironman but when it is so far away and you are Type A the difficulty grows exponentially.  We crave the challenge and this week it seems that KC and I have gone ahead and sort of accepted a new challenge on the way to Ironman Chattanooga.

KC's Week 10 - Ironman Chattanooga Challenge Challenge

"Finally remember that God heals and the doctor sends the bills. Give nature every chance to do her own good work."    ~Tom Osler (1978) "One of the basic rules of health is, ‘Listen to your body.’ I am responsible for my health, and to respond to my body I must listen to it, learn from it.  ~George Sheehan (1978a) Those 2 quotes were taken from one of my favorite books, The Lore of Running, by Tim Noakes. Smart guy! Plus, he’s come around in his thinking when it comes to the conventional wisdom regarding endurance training with way too much emphasis on sugars and grains. [caption id="attachment_9329" align="alignright" width="300"]challenge - triathlon - ironman KC's Week 10 - Ironman Chattanooga Challenge[/caption] Those quotes hold true today as I did not do the Disney marathon. It was a hard decision to make but I knew by Friday morning there was no way I wanted to show up on Sunday and half ass it. Funny thing is, had you asked me Thursday morning if I was planning on doing the marathon, I would have said yes but then I had a little accident on Thursday afternoon, with the same foot that I have been having the nerve issues with, and that was the nail in the coffin right there. That’s when I knew, no marathon for me. So what’s a girl to do when she can’t run the marathon she’s been training for, for the last 10 weeks? She does another 100 mile bike ride. For anyone counting, that’s 2 centuries in the first 2 weeks of 2014. I’m kinda feeling a little challenge coming over me …a century a week? What the what? Is that the insane KC speaking? Why yes, yes it is and she loves this crazy challenge idea. Stay tuned to see what happens in week 3 of 2014. I plan on picking up the run slowly this week and should be back up to running speed soon, as long as I don’t pull anymore stupid human tricks while walking to my car in the parking garage at work! Easier said than done, I know. I had some fun this week. I was a guest on a really cool podcast! You should go listen to it. Not because of me, but because the 2 guys on it, Andrew and John, are awesome and are a hoot to listen to, plus you may learn a thing or two. Here is the link: http://doughboytoironman.com/2014/01/10/ironman-year-one-episode-13-coach-kc-kristie-conception-on-why-beginners-and-bopers-need-coaches-too/ That’s all I got for ya this week. Upward and Onward!

Jason's Ironman Chattanooga Challenge Challenge

Week 10 of ICC is also the first week of overload training for Rocky Raccoon 50.  This week was quite the week in terms of running volume.  I hit 67 miles this week for what is easily the most miles I have ever run in a week.  It did not come with its own challenges though.  Mid-week I found myself sluggish and wondering what was happening considering I had just come off of a pull back week.  As I wrote, here, it boiled down to tracking my food and making sure that I was surrounding my workouts with carbs and then lean proteins and healthy fats for my other two meals.  Since I workout in the morning this turns out to be very advantageous for my running and recovery.  Big breakfast and then some healthy, tasty and protein rich meals the rest of the day. [caption id="attachment_9328" align="alignright" width="300"]challenge - triathlon - ironman - rocky raccoon First Week Of Overload For RR50 and HUGE base building for IMTN[/caption] This weekend was a breakthrough as well.  I was scheduled to run 23 miles on Saturday and 13 miles on Sunday.  Prior to registering for RR50 I had registered for the Bold In The Cold 15k which happens to be my favorite race.  This was the fourth year and I was torn about how to approach it.  Do I run prior to the race, run the race and then cool down.  Run the race then finish off the remaining 14 miles.  How would I fuel?  How would I hydrate? I took the option of running 12 miles as a warm-up first, then run the race at a steady but not fast pace and then cool down. I started at 5:15am with 12 miles and felt good.  I held a steady 8:56/mi pace with my HR at the top end of Zone 1. Perfect.  After that run I stopped and had coffee and a banana to refuel.  Walked to the start line and saw a bunch of friends.  We got in line and the gun went off.  I figured a steady 8:30/mi pace would be great to start and then drop down to 8:00/mi and negative split the race.  Well, after the first two miles and running a 7:50/mi pace I felt great and figured it was time to light the match and hang on for dear life.  Over the course of the next 7 miles I ran ~7:35/mi and finished in 11th place in my age group.  Finished off with a 2 mile cool down and 23 miles in the books. Sunday morning I went to Cedar Ridge Preserve where I ran 12 miles with 1500+ foot of climbing and cursed myself, the trail, Jeff and everything else along the way.  I was hurting big time.  I had two hours out there to contemplate what I wanted to do at RR50.  I have a 'plan' heading into the race so far but bigger than that is I think I am going to register for my next challenge. I originally thought I would be racing 70.3 Galveston in April, but with RR50 taking precedence I do not think that I can get the bike volume in that I would need to have an enjoyable and fast race.  What I will have is a HUGE running base and so the next logical thing to do is run a 100 miler.  I have the registration page open  and am ready to pull the trigger.  With running the 100 miler at the end of March I can get a couple of weeks of recovery in before entering into training for Buffalo Springs 70.3 and true IM specific training.  The next challenge is on the horizon and I think I am ready for it.

What Is Your Next Challenge?

Published in Train
Monday, 20 January 2014 12:44

Ironman Chattanooga Training Week 11

Ironman Chattanooga is creeping closer and closer all the while I have my sights set on the Rocky Raccoon 50 and Lake Martin 100.  The and I suspect it will continue into Ironman specific training.  The more work I do on the trails the more I am coming to the conclusion that overloading one's body helps their mind as well as their ability to be stronger and faster. When I did the two large cycling blocks in September and October (nearly 1600 miles in two months) I noticed that my running seemed to be easier than it had been before the large cycling block.  With the large volume of run training I am doing now I am noticing that my running ability as well as my swimming ability have taken a step forward. I started thinking about this last night and how this can be incorporated into a Ironman specific training cycle.  Typically, I would have 3-4 swim sessions, 3-4 bike sessions and 3-4 run sessions per week.  What if we changed that up to be very specific.  Week 1 - Swim heavy with nearly 20,000-30,000 yards.  Week 2 - 70-80 miles of running.  Week 3 - 250-300 miles of cycling.  Obviously in those weeks you would still have some of the other sports but not enough to make the focus go away.  Then in Week 4 that would be a recovery week with limited volume for all three disciplines and then started again.  In a 16 week schedule you would have 4 very sport specific weeks in which you just worked your ass off on that sport.  You basically buried yourself in that sport for the week.  You may cry for mercy but then the next week would be a different sport.  Thoughts? Anyway, this is Week 11 of the Ironman Chattanooga Challenge and while KC contemplates another 100 mile ride for next weekend, I contemplate whether or not I want to do an ultra run two weeks post Rocky Raccoon as a training run.

KC's Ironman Chattanooga Challenge Week 11 Recap

[caption id="attachment_9360" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman chattanooga - triathlon - running - triathlon KC's Keeping It Simple And Effective[/caption] Keeping this week’s re-cap short and sweet. As you can see from my training week above, I started easing back into the running. I still have some tingling and numbness in the toes but it’s much less and not as painful. I got my 3 days of Xfit in, love that and did my 3rd century bike ride of 2014 …that’s 3 for 3 if anyone is counting. Let’s see if I can pull that off again next weekend. Anyway, not a whole lot going on training wise at the moment, except just keeping a solid base. There is a half marathon I may do on February 23rd but haven’t completely decided if I really want to do it or not. Other than that, I have a 70.3 coming up March 22nd and I will be super ready for that. It’s a hilly one, which I love the challenge of a nice, hilly bike and run course, so bring it on. Upward and Onward!

Jason's Ironman Chattanooga Week 11 Recap

[caption id="attachment_9359" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman chattanooga - training peaks - running - triathlon Lots Of Running Miles . 71.79 for the week[/caption] This week was all about the trail run.  This was the second week of overload for RR50 and it did not disappoint.  The week consisted of two 10 milers mid-week, a 24 miler on Saturday and a 13 miler on Sunday.  I banged out the two 10 milers but the first one I hated.  I posted on Facebook that the 10-12 miler is quite possibly the worst distance to run because it is too long to be considered short and too short to be considered long.  On anything less than a 10 miler I know I will be out there for anywhere between 45 minutes and 1h15.  I can handle that.  On a run longer than 12 miles I know that I am looking at close to 2 hours based on my current Z1 pace.  I can live with that, but the 10 miler is just awful. Anyway, when I got to Big Cedar Wilderness on Saturday morning it was dark out and I borrowed Karen's headlamp.  Figuring with the 6am start time for RR and the fact that the Lake Martin 100 miler will take me from sun-up to sun-down I better get used to running with a headlamp.  Karen's headlamp is badass and I believe that I lit up the night with it.  I only needed it for a few minutes but running with a headlamp is not terrible.  The 24 miles I was supposed to run turned into 21.8 miles because it is nearly impossible to map out an exact amount of miles when it comes to trails especially when you go must make up routes.  I was happy with the 21.8 as I finished them in less than 4 hours at a decent pace. Sunday was my third round with Cedar Ridge Preserve which is a tough trail course here in Dallas.  The last two weeks it has beaten me up to the point that when I get home to climb the stairs it is a chore.  Yesterday, that did not happen.  I took it to Mr CRP and when I was done I posted this to Facebook:

Float like a butterfly Sting like a bee Scheduled for 2 laps finished with 3 Guess who won this round That would be me See you next week Mr CRP

It was a blast.  I covered the 16.5 miles in just over three hours and felt great.  My legs were strong the entire time and I held a consistent pace over the miles.  Since each loop is 5.5 miles I could see what pace I was running for each section and compare them to themselves.  Steady was the name of the game and now my mindset for RR50 and a goal time is starting to come together.

[caption id="attachment_9358" align="aligncenter" width="300"]ironman chattanooga - cedar ridge preserve trail - running - triathlon Cedar Ridge Preserve Trail[/caption] [caption id="attachment_9357" align="aligncenter" width="300"]ironman chattanooga - big cedar wildness trail - running - triathlon Big Cedar Wilderness Trail[/caption]

What Are You Training For And How Is It Going?

Published in Train
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 12:28

Treadmill Running - I am getting used to this

[caption id="attachment_9214" align="alignright" width="300"]treadmill - running - habit - rocky raccoon The NordiTrack that we use in the garage.
Source: NordiTrack[/caption] Treadmill running was something I would do only if forced to.  I would look at the treadmill on my way around the gym and would think to myself......no way, no how.  I was 'forced' onto that machine a few times during Ironman training and it was ok.  Not my favorite but it was a time saver when I had a run workout right after swimming.  Then one day I jumped on it, and I cannot remember why, to do mile  repeats.  I fell in love with the idea of mile repeats on the treadmill because I could control the speed.  By control I mean go faster than I would have outside in the elements.  I felt this benefited me tremendously to get the legs to turnover at a pace they would not have should I have been outside. The off-season hit and summer was there so I did not have to do any treadmill running.  This was grand until Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile Trail Run training started.  Two weeks into that training and the ice storm of 2013 hit Dallas.  This forced me indoors and I am fortunate enough to have a wife who is also an endurance athlete and loves running.  She had purchased a treadmill and I thought nothing of it at that time, but what a life saver this turned out to be.  This, by the way, is not your typical treadmill.  Karen did her research and she ended up with the NordiTrack 9000 (not the actual number but it sounded good.)  This thing is incredible. This treadmill has the ability to connect with Google Maps and allow you to run anywhere in the world.  To date I have run in Venice, London, Joshua Tree National Park and started the Big Sur marathon amongst other courses.  The treadmill goes through an incline or decline based on where you are on the course and it also provides pictures of where you are at.  The data it gives back to you is outstanding.  I have enjoyed my time on the treadmill so much lately that I am coming up with reasons to not run outside.  Last week I ran 17 miles through the streets of London on the treadmill. To make it an even better experience last week after 12 miles on the treadmill I mounted a 19" television along with Apple TV so that we can stream Netflix or ESPN to the TV and allow us to run until we cannot run anymore out there.  In the past few days I have learned a few reasons as to why I am enjoying my time on the treadmill compared to the days of dreading it.

Why I Am Liking The Treadmill

  • Data. As I mentioned earlier there is data everywhere.  From the incline / decline percentage to speed to calories burned.  There is also elevation gain data being thrown at you.  All of this data is in a controlled environment and in front of my face so I do not have to look down at my watch every 10 seconds hoping that time has passed.
  • Easier On The Legs. The Rocky Raccoon training started out with 50 miles in week 1.  It was at 52 miles in week 2 and I believe this week (week #3) is going to be near 60.  That is a lot of time on my legs and having the comfort of the treadmill under me makes the recovery process a bit easier.
  • Mental Strength. I have done super long trainer rides (6 hours is my PR) but that is completely different from the mental strength of the treadmill.  I have figured out multiple ways to make treadmill runs go by fast and have applied those ideas to the road.  For example, the 17 mile run I did on Saturday is made up of 68 1/4 mile segments.  If running at a 9:00/mi pace I am pacing a 1/4 marker every 2 minutes and 15 seconds.  Knowing that I only have to run 2:15 to put a check mark in the box helped tremendously as I did not look at the entire run of 17 miles but instead 0.25 miles at a time.  Anybody can run 0.25 miles right.
  • Multi-Tasking. As I said earlier I have mounted a TV above the treadmill in the garage.  This gives me the opportunity to catch up on movies that I have not seen in the theater because I was too busy swimming, biking and running.  In addition to movies I am also finding that I can crank out 1 to 2 chapters of a book at a time without losing my balance or feeling disoriented.  Since training for long hours is draining I can easily be asleep by 8pm instead of watching a movie with Karen or reading a book that I bought months and months ago.
In the middle of typing this blog post I looked at what I have planned for training during the week, which is where the treadmill is going to come in handy.  Since I need to leave the house around 7:15am to get Chico to school I need to be out on the road by 5am running and home by 6:15-6:30 at the latest.  That would put me at 10 miles maximum and that is if I maintain a 9:00/mi pace.  Running at Z1/Z2 is no guarantee of running that pace so the treadmill will come in handy in the middle of the week and I am glad that Karen had the foresight to research and buy one. I do not know if I will ever be able to keep up with Emily but the more I run on the treadmill and the longer the miles go the higher the confidence level goes that a super long treadmill run is feasible.  This weekend's 19 miles will be a true test.

Are You A Treadmill Runner?

Published in Train
Sunday, 15 December 2013 19:49

ICC - Week #6: And The Hits Keep On Coming

Ironman Chattanooga Challenge (ICC) entered and completed its 6th week and with that KC and I are one week closer to the toeing of the line and jumping into the river to float downstream.  We will not really float but with the amount of swimming the two of us are doing that might be the best solution for us. Remember that the ICC is to showcase how two seasoned triathletes with multiple Ironman finishes train for the race.  Since we are in different areas of the United States, different genders, different family/friend/work responsibilities you will see different types of training volume.  We also have different strengths so while I may spend more time in the water, KC may spend more time on the bike.  We are crafting our own way to the start and finish line of Ironman Chattanooga.  I do not compare my volume to her's and she is not comparing her training to mine.  We are our own athletes with our own goals.  This is true for you, the reader, as well and so while there are rules of thumb when it comes to training for an Ironman like make sure you swim, bike and run there is no one way to get there.  Keep that in mind as you read what we are putting ourselves through and looking at your training schedule [caption id="attachment_9225" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman chattanooga - rocky raccoon - triathlon - ultrarunning KC's Training Calendar. Gotta love the simplicity of tracking her training volume[/caption]

KC's Week 6 Ironman Chattanooga Challenge

Some of you may have already read part of this post on Facebook today, sorry for the repeat. Week 6 proved to be much better than last week. I felt stronger and better rested. I took it a little slower on the runs this week and focused on building up the miles during the week. I also felt like I redeemed myself with today’s long run. I can erase last week’s crapiness from my memory bank now. Today’s 20 mile run that turned into 22 miles was brought to you by Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I also claim the title of The Running MacGyver. That wrapper you see in the picture above, saved my run too. My body Glide and jogbra failed me today folks, so around mile 7, I realized things were gonna get ugly, particularly in one spot. My quick thinking MacGyver skills kicked in (my Dad would have been so proud) and I began looking for a remedy, which turned out to be the candy wrapper. I carefully placed it between my skin and the jogbra and threw down the next 15 miles, no problem! For those not in the know, here is a link about MacGyver:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacGyver Overall, this week was pretty good. I’ll start throwing in the swimming in January. For now, until the end of the year, I’m enjoying the running, the night biking and the crossfit stuff a lot. Upward and Onward! [caption id="attachment_9227" align="aligncenter" width="224"]ironman chattanooga - rocky raccoon - triathlon - ultrarunning Who needs Body Glide or Trislide when you have Reese's Peanut Butter Cups[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_9226" align="aligncenter" width="224"]ironman chattanooga - rocky raccoon - triathlon - ultrarunning 20 Miles Turned Into 22. Yeah, that happens!!!!![/caption]  
~KC

Jason's Week 6 Ironman Chattanooga Challenge

This week was the week from hell when it comes to driving.  Dallas was hit with an ice storm on Friday of last week and with the temperatures being below freezing that means that ice did not really go away until Thursday.  In 10 trips into the office I was stuck in traffic on 9 of them thanks to poor driving on the ice.  It was horrible and with each passing minute the anger in me grew to rage.  I had not planned on doing so many doubles but I needed a stress relief and when I would get near home I would either choose to go swimming or go and lift and do core.  The benefit is that this gave me a way to structure my training for Rocky Raccoon and allow me to get in the pool, jump on the bike trainer and do some lifting and core work. [caption id="attachment_9224" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman chattanooga - rocky raccoon - triathlon - ultrarunning Jason's Colorful Training Peaks Calendar For Ironman Chattanooga Week 6 Training[/caption] My training plan for Rocky Raccoon 50 is very run heavy with 6 days per week of running.  The majority of the runs during the week are low mileage with Monday off.  Wednesday is the long run day mid-week.  Saturday and Sunday make up about 60% of the miles I put up.  For example, this week I ran 57.4 miles with 31.45 between Saturday and Sunday.  Trying to make sure that I am getting proper recovery I devised the following plan:
  • Monday (Rest day from running):  AM Swim; PM Bike Trainer.
  • Tuesday: AM Swim; PM Treadmill run.
  • Wednesday: AM Run; PM Bike Trainer
  • Thursday: AM Run; PM Strength/Core
  • Friday: AM Run; PM Swim
  • Saturday: Long Run
  • Sunday: AM Long Recovery Run; PM Strength / Core
My swims will be structured and between 1500 and 2200 yards because I am only going to be in the water for 30-45 minutes. I need to keep the structure of the swim this way because right now I am in no mood to get in the water but I know that I can do anything for 30-45 minutes and that will keep me motivated.  The bike trainer sessions will be one hour-long with my heart rate in Zone 1 and not much more than that.  Just pure spinning to keep the legs fresh. My long runs on the weekend I am hoping to do on the trails.  There will be days where I have to run them on the treadmill, like this past weekend.  On Saturday do to responsibilities I ran 19.32 miles on the treadmill.  You would have thought I shot the President the way people reacted to me on Facebook.  When I thought about it I realized that these people are telling me not to run on the treadmill had no real reason for telling me not to run on the treadmill.  I enjoyed running for three hours and getting lost in my own mind while also watching two movies.  Had the people proclaiming that I should be outside could provide me with scientific evidence that running on the treadmill is WAY WORSE than running on the road then I would have delayed the process but in the end it was what I needed to do to get in the 19 miles and enjoy the day with my step-son having our Saturday morning breakfast before leaving to cut down our Christmas Tree. Overall I am very happy with the way training is going so far. I had some issues during the first week of Rocky Raccoon training but have broken through that plateau and am now on my way to some very large volume weeks. As the volume increases I may have to make some adjustments to my training but that is what this is all about. Keeping your eye on the prize and making adjustments to get there.

Are You Racing Ironman Chattanooga? If So, Share Your Training Story With Us

Published in Train
Wednesday, 13 November 2013 16:56

Trainer Time Is About To Explode

[caption id="attachment_9131" align="alignright" width="300"]trainer - sufferfest - andy potts - triathlon Andy Potts On The Bike
Source: Ironman[/caption] Trainer.  This is one word that can cause shivers down one's spine.  You think about the boredom, the monotony, the tons of sweat and well you get the picture.  The trainer is one place most people do not want to be.  That is unless you are Andy Potts or Meredith Kessler who do a majority of their cycle training on the trainer.  As a matter of fact, Andy Potts only rides outside during races.  Meredith Kessler once every couple of weeks.  I cannot fathom this today after riding 800+ miles in October and ~750 miles in September with the majority of them outside.  To be more definitive my outdoor miles of those 1500 totaled a bit over 1300. This wasn't always the case though.  After my bike accident a couple of years ago in which a good friend of mine went over top of me and broke his shoulder I spent a lot of time on the trainer.  I actually did a century+ ride on the trainer one day.  I rode for 6 hours at an average pace of nearly 20 mph for ~120 miles on the bike.  At the time I said it wasn't that bad as I was flipping around the TV and it distracted me.  Thinking on that day today I would have a hard time just spinning away for 6 hours on the trainer.  Spending more than an hour on the trainer these days seems like a lot unless I am involved in a video or a specific set. Watching shows on Netflix is no longer an option.  I find that as I am getting engrossed in the show or movie that my intensity drops tremendously.  I am not focused on the activity and paying more attention to the screen.  This does not make for good time on the trainer.  The trainer should be set specific where I am focused on what I am doing and not focused on the plot of some form of entertainment.  This is where programs like The Sufferfest come into play.  I previously wrote a review about two of  The Sufferfest videos but since then they have expanded their roster of videos and each one is better than the last. As the entire country enters into colder and colder weather the time on the trainer is going to increase but be sure to have the proper sets with you before you make that first peddle turn otherwise you are just spinning and getting nothing out of the exercise.  This article on Active.com shows 3 bordeom busting sets and each of these looks great.  The difference between these sets and The Sufferfest is that the videos on The Sufferfest are only one hour-long.  If time is of the essence and you need visual and audio queues to help you then I suggest going with The Sufferest.  The motivation you get from hearing the audio is awesome and if you are competitive then riding along with the cyclists in the video will get you going. Regardless of which works best for you I highly suggest that you go into the trainer session with a reason, even if it is just recovery, otherwise it will be a huge waste of your time.

How Many Hours Do You Spend On The Trainer In The Winter?

Published in Train
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