Sunday, June 29, 2008

Another good run at Afton

After a crappy week of running, and only one good run to show for it, I was able to have fun at Afton on Saturday again.

I decided on Afton over Adam's RTA due to the fact I wanted to run, and not go cliff scaling. I was also not interested in damaging any digits. Check it out and you will see what I mean.

I decided for the 6am start, and was only interested in one loop. The 50k is next week, so I guess it would make sense to leave a lot on the table for that.

Jeffrey, Alicia, and Joel showed up and we started out together. I saw Phillip's car in the parking lot, and figured he had arrived at 2am or so. Joel said he wanted to run all of the hills, as did I so we wished our partners farewell and went at it.

I was actually hoping for hot and muggy weather, but we got perfect conditions. I was still sore from Tuesday's run, so I figured running the hills would be enough punishment.

I did manage to see Phillip off in the distance. I whistled at him. I hope it got a laugh.

It was fun running with Joel. A fellow brother in Christ, a fellow home schooling family, but he is now studying for the BAR (insert lawyer joke here). Heck, I am a salesman, does not ge more bottom feeding than that!

We pounded every hill, but the meat grinder got to us.

The snowshoe loop grew another few inches of grass, so those shorter than about 5' 5" will not be able to see for short periods of time next week.

Heat acclimation is going okay, I guess. Not doing the "no air conditioning" thing. I guess I don't care that much.

If you want to see someone who tried to do it at the last minute, check this guy's report out. He decided to acclimate for Kettle Morraine..... the day before! It is also an interesting report from the guy who won it last year, and was 4 hours slower this year.

Guess I should go run now.

Brew on tap = Bavarian Heffeweizen - darn good!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A good run at Afton

Free Smileys & Emoticons at Clipart

This is how I felt on Tuesday evening running at Afton. I was not trying too hard, and maintaining a decent pace. I ran out of time to do more than one loop (25k) so I decided to see if I could comfortably maintain an even "faster" pace for the loop. I came in at 2:30, which I was happy with. I could have maintained that pace for probably a third of the way through a second loop.

The good news is.... it was hot, and I was fine. Could I be getting acclimated? My heart rate never got out of control. My legs got sore before my heart rate showed any signs of maxing out.

I feel I could probably hammer out a 5:15 - 5:30 time for the 50k next week. If it is hot and steamy, longer.

The grass is getting high on the snowshoe loop. Kind of fun, but a few stumbles.

I need a good race to re-start the training.

Free Smileys & Emoticons at Clipart

Monday, June 23, 2008

Full blown burnout

It happens every year around this time. Spring is over, all of the big spring races are over, and I don't want to run anymore.

Must get to Afton.

Missed Afton on Saturday. I was dead when I got home Friday night. Boy #3 broke his ankle last week and I was out of town. I thought I would be a dad/husband this weekend.

Must get to Afton.

Looks like tomorrow evening after work, I will be at Afton. I hope to get a long run in.

Looks like Afton 50k is a go for me. Don't expect anything spectacular.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Good luck to all of the Grandma's runners

This weekend is the real start of summer (Grandma's Marathon). Best of luck to all of you who are going, for those of you who it will be their first marathon, and for those for it will be a gage in where they are performance wise.

And, for that guy (who will remain nameless) who was going to run to the start, effectively running it twice. He chickened out, what a wimp. He claims he is sore after running 75 miles in 12 hours two weeks ago, but I don't buy that!

I look forward to all of the race reports. I will not be there. I might hit afton.

Tough week for me. Missed three days in a row. These sales blitzs are torture on conditioning. I did get good Chicago Pizza, great beer from ale houses, and topped it off yesterday with a hot fudge sundae from the Ghiradelli Ice Cream shop.

I need some warm weather for heat acclimation!

Monday, June 16, 2008

I have competition

No, not running competition.

I had the opportunity to attend Adrian Peterson's fundraising dinner with work last night. Of course, my wife gets a picture with him.

Sorry dude, she's taken! I don't care if you can rush over 200 yards in a game.

I bet I could smoke him any distance longer than........... 15 miles?

Hey Adam, I almost called you. We had two open spots next two us. I figured you only lived 5 minutes away. Did not want to put you in a hostile situation with your wife, though.


I am in Chicago all week for another sales drive. I am sitting on Lake Street in Oak Park as I write this, waiting for the stuff to start. It is going to be urban running this week. Maybe I can run downdownt and do some sky scraper climbing.

Can't believe Grandma's is this weekend. Don't worry everybody, this mild weather will break Friday night and it will be a sauna on Saturday.

I "have" to play golf on Friday again. Work. I suck at golf. Then I am sore. Boo hoo.

At least I won't be stuck behind a desk.

I need to get my butt in gear this week and next week so I can have a decent race at the Afton 50k. Hope to see many of you there. I will be there with Bells on (metaphorically speaking).

Less than 1 week until summer.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Notes on heat acclimation

I did receive a response from Karl King. Here is what I asked him;

1 - What references/studies do you have on heat acclimation, and what is the
best way to get acclimated?
2 - Is high dew point/humid heat acclimation different?
3 - How long does one need to get acclimated?
4 - Can someone like me truly acclimate, or do I just accept that I will never run decent races in that kind of weather?

Here is his response;

Do not take excess S Caps. Hydration is from water, not S Caps. It is extremely rare that one needs more than 2 per hour, but there are exceptions. Probably only 1% of the population needs more than 2 per hour. I know of only one person who requires 4-6 hour.

The best way to heat acclimate is to run in the heat consistently for 10-14 days. Dew point is not an issue. I have a bad record of runs in hot, humid conditions, so I was very concerned when I signed up for the Vermont 100. I ran in the hottest time of the day, and over dressed slightly for those runs. Whenever I drove anywhere, I rolled up the windows on the car and suffered in the heat. It was not unusual for the temps to be in the range of 105 to 110F. I did that for a couple months before the race. By the time I got to Vermont, I had tremendous heat acclimation. I needed all of it. On race day the temps and the humidity were over 90. Only 48% of the field finished, and I was one of them.

My heat acclimation lasted into October, and then finally I lost it.

So, you can heat acclimate for hot, humid conditions. You just have to spend a lot of time in those conditions before race day.

If you take more S Caps than you need for the conditions, you will get very thirsty and drink lots of water. That will be bad for performance, slowing you down from the useless weight. It is better to be slightly on the low side than to take too many. I go by my stomach. When it starts to feel a little off, I take an S Cap, and that usually does the trick for the next hour or so.

I guess I already knew some of this, but I did not realize the power of constant exposure to heat. I remember not having an issue with it in college, and remember that I also did not have air conditioning.

I found a lot of stuff on heat acclimation, and the consensus seems to be 2 weeks of daily training/exposure to heat of at least 1 hour per day. What I did not realize was how quickly it goes away. If there is a week of cool weather, one can loose a significant amount of the acclimation.

I actually found a guide for Army Rangers who are about to go into training. This is designed to have them acclimated when they arrive. Kind of interesting stuff.

1 - Heat acclimation takes 2 weeks.
2 - Air conditioning can detract from your acclimation
3 - 1 - 2 hours per day of exercise is needed in the heat for the acclimation.
4 - It goes away quickly

I guess I intuitively knew this, but I learned a few things.

So, if I am going to run Afton, I have 2 1/2 weeks of riding around in my car with the heat on.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Re-grouping, analysis, and moving forward

It has been one week since the DNF, and I feel okay. I did not have much recovering to do because I dropped before I had a chance to do much damage.

I decided to do some research on heat acclimation, hydration and dehydration in those conditions, and signs of danger to come.

This is more for me to truly understand what went wrong, where, and why. Maybe what I learn will help some others.

I emailed Karl King with some detailed questions, and hope he is kind enough to respond. He has in the past.

I am trying to avoid the "this is what works for me" syndrome, as everybody has different physiology.

I might be a volunteer at Afton instead of racing, and am pretty sure I will not run Voyageur 50. I told my wife I would not run any more hot races right after I dropped on Saturday. I should learn to shut my big mouth.

I violated ultra running rule #2. Never make any decisions about races withing 48 hours of the end (or dnf). Rule #1 is no whining.

This week I was at the Water Park of America walking the property with the Food & Beverage Manager. They keep the water park at 90 degrees so the guests won't get cold when they sre going in and out of the water. Needless to say, it was very muggy as well. I thought "I wonder if he would let me roll a treadmill in here on the upper deck?" This would be an ideal place for heat acclimation.

This also reminded me of stories I have read about people training for Badwater. They wear ski parkas and winter hats and go run in the summer heat. That would look odd if I saw it on the street.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Kettle Morraine 100 report (sort of)


I guess I better get this one out of the way.

The short version......
I dropped at the mile 31 aid station.

The long version

I always like starting reports with funny quotes.

Timo (the race director) at the pre-race briefing. "There is severe weather in the forecast. There is no way to call off the race or signal danger, so get to a low spot if bad weather is near" not an exact quote, but that was the jist of it.

The quote I remember after the ordeal was over goes something like this (not verbatim)
"a man's character is revealed not through his success and achievements, but how he deals with failure and adversity".


"Sports don't build character, they reveal it"


As of today I will not whine, complain, bitch or moan, make excuses, or feel sorry for myself. I don't attempt these races for glory or to gain points at the water cooler.

So here is what happened.

The drive down on Friday was uneventful. My family and Jim Wilson shared a cabin on Friday night, so we got to bond. I also met up with Brent at packet pickup, and we chatted, and discussed the weather.

I think I actually said somewhere in one of these meetups, "I am not too worried about the heat, because I am not running fast tomorrow, just far." I normally get destroyed by heat when racing. I had this idea that if I slowed down enough, heat would not hurt me. AND, I was not racing.

Famous last words. I was not even nervous.

Jim and I headed off to the start, and were there around 5am. We met up with the Aussie, and learned some Aussie vernacular. "Good On Ya" Jim and Brent! I was puzzled when she asked Jim "What do you reckon we do abouth mossies?" She was asking about deal with the mosquitos.

I found Brent and headed to the start. I shook Mark Tanaka's and Joe Kulak's hand, and wished them luck. They literally DID toes the start line, and started the thing like it really was a race. They even had the 100k runners beat off the line.

My plan was to take an s-cap every hour until it got really hot. Then every half hour. I had no desire to ingest 20,000 mg of sodium in 24 hours. I think this was my first mistake.

My plan was also to run my own race. I quickly realized that Brent and I were running different races, so he pulled away at mile 2. I was in no hurry. People were passing me. That was cool. 100 miles is a long way.

I was trying hard to keep my foot on the breaks during the first hour. I believe I did, but was still averaging 10 min miles. That would be a fast pace if I maintained it. I kept slowing every opportunity I had. I knew my heart rate was below 140, so I was not concerned. I was sweating a lot, but drinking and taking electrolytes.

The course looks quite different than 4 weeks ago. Much more vegetation growth. I felt relaxed and focused. I ended up behind a runner who kept asking if I wanted to pass. I said "not really, I am not in a hurry". Turns out this guy has run it before, and posted some good times. 3 weeks ago he ran Greenbay marathon in 2:55. That did not scare me, as often one has nothing to do with the other. I made sure I stayed behind him after he said "we are on a 20 hr pace". Not for me. He pulled away from me shortly after.

I soon found myself pacing a pack of 7 runners. I kept urging them to pass, but they said this was a good pace. Now I was responsible for something... uh oh.

One of the women behind noted that the section from 15 miles to 25 miles is killer. It is flat, but in the prairie, no shade, and hot hot hot. "How bad could it be?"

I will have nightmares about that section for some time.

The section was rolling meadows, with some grass growth. All of the humidity was amplified by the grass. Plus, the recent heavy rains made portions of the running surface boggy. The sun was out and not a cloud in the sky (maybe). No wind. After 10 minutes of this, I was feeling it. There were occaisional breaks of wooded shade, followed by more of that. I was sweating BUCKETS. I had to adjust my plan. I started walking. I decided to walk until the shade, and then run. I figured running in the meadow was wated energy. I was walking fast enough where the runners in front of me were not even pulling away from me that much.

I look down at my shoulders and they were bringt red. Not good. It was 10:30 am, and I was sunburned like a lobster. I did not expect this. I was hot, sunburned and running out of fluid. By 2pm I would be burned beyond a crisp. And I only had tank tops to change into.
(what I did not know, was that my skin was turning red due to early signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. I am still trying to figure that one out, as heat stroke comes after heat exhaustion).

All I can say is, I was not sunburned. Not at all. Maybe I was seeing things.

So, at the next checkpoint, I was surprised by my family. I told my wife "it is very hot". Duuuuh!

She took some pictures of me looking like an idiot. I did find a Moose Mtn t-shirt in the car (thanks Larry), so I put that on. By the time I left that aid station, I actually felt good. I took it real easy for the next few miles.

I was alone, and saw nobody for a while. I started to worry if I was on the right trail. I crossed a road at one point, and was afraid I was lost. I turned around and looked at the road, and sure enough, there were course markings. I was starting to loose my mind. I was only 1/4 of the way there.

I rolled into the next aid station with another guy who I somehow caught up to (or he to me, I don't remember). I looked at the marker, and it said 26.5 miles. I turned to him and said in a sorrow tone "we have only run a marathon". I look at my watch. 5hrs and something.

I asked "How long to the next aid station?" The answer was "a slow 5 miles". I was wondering what exactly that meant. But I was off.

I don't know when it happened, but about 1/2 hour after that my body shut down. It would not deliver energy to my legs. I would start jogging slowly, and immediately I would have to stop. Every time I took water I felt like I was going to puke. I was getting dizzy and disoriented. My hands were swollen. My fingers were turning blue! Bad. I knew I was done.

If this were mile 62 or later, I would have done something to get me through (jumped in a lake). But I was at about mile 30. I could see no way how to "tough it out" for 70 miles.

I was worried that I would be in danger between aid stations, like not making it and needing medical treatment.

I did consider jumping in one of the lakes on the way back. I was serious. Then I realized that one might do this late in a race as a last resort. Not in the first third.

The last mile to the 50k turnaround was a death march, but I made it. It only took me a few minutes to say I was done. Many others were making the same decision there.

I asked the race officials if there was a DNF bell I could ring (a la navy seals), but none was to be found. I think they should have something like that in the future. I was about to cry. I sat down with my family, and my 3 year old said "daddy, you STINK". Thanks Todd.

I was embarrassed that I only made 31 miles in a hundred mile race. I knew I was only allowed to feel sorry for myself for a few hours. I did. I am done with that.

Here is the crazy part. I felt worse at that point than any of the 50 miles or 50k's I have finished. I was toasted at the end of IA 50 this year. But I was still able to run (slowly) at the end. I was totally incapable of running at the spot I dropped here.

I was severly dehydrated. My core temperature was way up. I needed a shower.

It took until Sunday morning for my fever to break, and even then my wife said my face looked swollen. I looked at my shoulders, and there were no burns. I was still drinking as much as I could.

I felt guilty that when I went to bed on Saturday night, Jim and Brent were still out there. There were sever t-storm warnings, a tornado watch, and buckets of rain coming down. I was hoping they would make it.

Brent came in at 25 hours plus some, and Jim was the last to finish with 18 minutes before the cut.

About 120 started the race, 37 finished. Some look at last place as a bad thing. Jim made Rockstar status in my book for finding a way to get there before the cut off. Brent too.

The winner last year (Mark Tanaka) was 4 hours slower this year, and still managed 2nd place.

What is next

I am not sure, but I still plan to run Superior 100. Afton 50k and Voyageur 50 mile make me nervous due to the heat. I might work on heat acclimation for the next month. I quit early enough in the race as to not destroy my psyche and season. I am not tough enough to be stupid.

Congratulations to Adam Harmer for winning first at FANS 12 with 75 miles....IN THE HEAT!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Kettle Moraine 100

DNF at 50k.

My body would not take on water anymore due to dehydration. It was 85 degrees at the time and close to 70 dewpoint. Tropical. I never do well in those conditions.

A report will come after I pull myself out of the black hole I am currently in.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Final Thoughts

Gee, that almost seems like a dark title.

First of all, if any of you are in the Twin Cities area this weekend, make a trip down to Lake Nokomis to cheer on the FANS runners. You can meet many of the Motley Crew.

There will be

Steve Quick 24 hr(if only he did the 12 hr instead, he could battle Adam for the win. who knows how far he will go in the 24 hr?)
Carl Gammon 24 hr (a man with many great stories, yet modest and humble. Let's see that 100!)
Pierre Oster 24 hr(one of the most interesting characters around. Ask him about how he accidentally shot a grenade at his friends house. He might ride his bike there as well)
Julie Berg 24 hr (will she add more hardware to her mantle?.)
Adam Harmer 12 hr (looks like the only guy who could break 70 miles... but who knows).
John Taylor 24 hr (always has a funny anecdote during one of these. he is solid and experienced.)
Karen Gall 24 hr (she claims she is not that fast, but once she is in her zone, she can go far. at least 100 for her).

Those are the only people I know, but there are many more formitable competitors.

For me, well.... I will use some musical thematics to describe how I feel right now. I have always thought one of the best "build up" pieces of music was "The Pines of Rome" by Respighi. The final movement gets to my soul and brings me somewhere else.

I had the honor to play in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra when I was in high school, and we played this piece my final year. The fourth movement starts out with a very soft marching beat. It is almost a sinister march. But there is a point when the woodwinds come in where it switches to the major key. At that point, it seems like a light of hope is cast upon everything (it is supposed to simulate an army marching on Rome). From that point on it builds up, slowly adding the brass with increased Fortes. The final bar includes a backup brass section blowing at an unprecidented 5 fortissimos. The piece is famous for that (the only piece which has printed 5 "F"s on the last note.

If you saw Fantasia 2000, this was the piece with the whales. They got close to what the depiction was supposed to be, but I always saw it different.

So, the 5 "f"s is the finish line with an incredible march toward it.

I will also be thinking of the people who have inspired me throughout my life. One being my mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1984. She went through chemo hell for over a year. She never complained and never missed a beat. Back then it was pretty barbaric. Through all of her suffering and pain, she still made it to all of the kids events and would yell "run hard, play well". My brother used to mock her by saying that to me (in her voice), so those word mean a lot to me know. She still will say it with a smile when I do stuff like this. (my brother never moked her when she was sick, he is a good man).

Tomorrow can't be as hard as going through chemo for a year. So that will be it.

I will be yelling out to the FANS crew on Saturday night. I hope they can hear me.

And finally, the forecast looks tough.

3pm tomorrow - Whitewater, WI
90 degrees
68% dewpoint.
holy cow, that's hot.

At least we are not running fast!

If you have not read the "you might be an ultrarunner if..." on the right, do it.

Here is my favorite, which applies to this weekend.

"You might be an ultrarunner if...... the winner of the race finishes on a different day than you do"

And with that, I am out of here!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

72 hours and counting

It still has not hit me, but I think it will soon.

I feel like it is the calm before the storm.

Plans are coming together. After analysis of all of the aid stations and drop bags, I realized that the drop bags are all basically 25k apart. So this race can be broken up into 25k and 50 segments. This fits perfectly to my 3 hour fueling game plan, as 3 hour 25k fits my pace. I know I can do Afton 50k at an easy pace in 6 hours, and that is a harder course. BUT, I still plan to be flexible, so I am giving myself 13 hours or so for the first 100k. It will be tricky as the 100k's and 100 milers start at the same time.

I think I have the fuel and drop bags figured out. I only need 4 (including start/finish bag).

I am a little concerned about potential high temp being 80-85 degrees. BUT, I will be running slower, so hopefully it will be easier to manage.

I bought a handheld flashlight yesterday to use in tandem with my headlamp. Not sure if I will need it, but good peace of mind (piece of mind for you Maiden fans).

I will not print out aid station cards, as I have a real simple plan.
*each drop bag - pick up a cliff bar, pre set baggie of s-caps, and hammer flask.
*I just need to figure out how to nail down drinking to bottles of Succeed each 25k. It is easy to drink more than that. I will have one bottle of water, and one of Succeed. I just don't want to leave aid stations with half filled bottles, so I might have to figure out a strategy (drink succeed first, then water, refill succeed, drink last). That made sense to me.

The plan is to run the race in around 24 hours. Around is the key word. we will just have to see what happens.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The competition and more preparation

Every so often I look at who is signed up for the races I am running in. This is only possible in ultras, as they post "who's registered" in most races.

The list on this weekend's race is looking big, check it out here.

The defending champ, Mark Tanaka (16:28), will be there duking it out with Joe Kulak (2nd place last year 16:59). Greg Loomis, a seasoned 100 miler will be there after posting an 8:15 there at 50 Mile a few weeks back. Ron Bero will be back, he took 5th last year under 20 hours. Christine Crawford's name is not on the list, but I but she will be there (she won last year). There are many other names I recognize, and it will be interesting how many fast runs there will be.

Brent Bjerkness will be there, and will probably kick my butt. Jim Wilson will be back for revenge on the course. I plan to run my own race, so I don't know how much (if at all) I will run with either of them. Sorry guys.

The forecast looks like 80 and sunny. 65 for the low. I just hope the sun does not beat down on me. I might pick up and extra white shirt this week.

So far my strategy for fuel looks like this.
1 Cliff bar or similar every 2-3 hours (250 calories)
1 20oz bottle of Succeed every 2-3 hours (150 calories)
couple of servings of hammer gel every 2-3 hours
aid station food to finish out the following

Every 3 hours
700-750 calories. I will mix up these combinations so as not to get sick of any one thing (which will happen regardless).
1 s-cap every hour and see how that works. Maybe up it to every 45 minutes. I really don't want to be popping them every half hour, but if it is really hot, I might for a few hours.

I plan on printing out an aid station strategy and laminating it. This way I can do the thinking beforehand, and just hand it to a worker. This will be a flexible plan.

Drop bags will have way too much in them, but that is good piece of mind. More on that later.

I am starting to get my mind around this one. Should be fun. My wife keeps telling people I am doing this. I don't. You readers are the only people I have told (and the MN Dead Runners).

More to come.