Friday, December 17, 2010

2 Month off & Now back to business

I was told the other night "If you don't post something soon, you are going to be unbookmarked". Ouch!

All excuses aside, I just needed some time off from this to get my act together on what is happening. I think I have it.

First, a quick recap of the last 2 months.

* Took my beautiful wife on a 15 year anniversary trip to the Bahamas. 2 night cruise. First time away from the kids for more than 2 nights in 12 years. Ran on the treadmill on the ship as it "Pitched and Rolled"
* Attended the Larry and Colleen Peterson benefit run. I won the race I ran with an official distance of "Some", and an time of "Elapsed". Zach claimed to have beat me, but I ran the outside tangents on the course, so I ran at least 10 feet farther than him. SO THERE!
* Have run in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas (Katy Trail.... which is not a trail), Lapham Peak, Denver, and a bunch of treadmills in between.
* Working on new running technique
* Happy to be running
* Ready to start a new chapter on running.... not sure what that means, though

***********************************

I recently read Dr. Nicholas Romanov's book "POSE Method of Running". I had heard about it, but never quite understood what it was. So, out of curiousity, picked up the book. Interesting theory.

Not sure if I can do justice trying to summarize the concept, so google it and see what you come up with.

What I can say is, the basic premise makes sense. Runners, for the most part, have never leared proper technique or form. Now, "Proper technique and form" can be very subjective, but I think very few people ever learned ANY technique or form. Most runners just started running. The academia came up in training, not the core form and technique.

For me, trying this was a quest in curiosity. I was bored and unmotivated. This gave me somehting to try and see what I could do with it.

After 6 weeks, here is what I can say.

* It is different. My calves hurt for the first week
* I thought at first "how can anybody run like this more than a few miles?"
* I slowly started to realize "wow, I am not at all sore after a run (once the calf soreness went away)"
* I almost look forward to runs, because they are feeling effortless (relatively speaking)
* It takes some skin adjustments on the balls of your feet
* My balance has improved 100%
* I learned that after thinking and telling people for years that I don't heel strike........ I heal strike.

I will dedicate some posts to this, and the progress. But that is a quick insight into what I have been doing.

***********************************

Check out the Lapham Blog for Craig Swarthout's 200 mile run in November. It is a great story.

And as he said himself "No good deed goes unpunished". Check out one of the comments from the "Off the couch blog" from "Kettlekid". I really have a hard believing anybody would categorize a 200 mile run...... any 200 mile run.... in under 60 hours.... as anything but AWESOME. Hence me as "The Slowest Matt" had to chime in.

***********************************

Great job to Helen for her job going to Hellgate. A belated "great job" to Brothergrub at his performance at Pinhoti 100 (Although, 30 minute miles isn't really running... is it?). Not sure if I can walk that slow.

I had the honor to go out and have a beer with Santa this week. He divulged to me who's been naughty and who's been nice.

He knows..... Yes... he always knows.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Incline

First off - Thanks to all who continue to read this blog even though I only post 2-3 times per month. I considered putting it on hold, but was told not to.

Today reminded me why I am a trail runner.

******************8

Last time I was in Denver, I ran up to the top of Green Mtn. At the top, I met another trail runner who, after talking about what kind of stuff we like, said, "You have to go do the Incline".

I responded with "The what".

He said.... "Google - The Incline"

I experienced it first hand tonight. I took a picture, but it sucked.

The Incline

In short, it is 2,000 feet of gain in 1.02 miles. THAT IS BAD ASS. 6600 ft to 8600 ft.

This is a small peek looming in the shadow of Pike's Peak.

Pictures don't do it justice, but check out the pics from the above link or just google it.

I thought it looked somewhat doable until I was looking straight up at the damn thing. 61% grade at its steepest, 41% average, it is gruelling.

And fun.

It kind of reset my batteries. I passed a bunch of people on the acent, and only got passed by one (and he is in training for the Special Forces). I will give that one a pass.

One the way down I took the Barr Trail, as most people do. I killed it. I passed at least 20 people. Could have done the decent 2x.

I realized at the bottom that I am still somewhat "In the game". Down hill running is a skill, not necessarily something great runners can do. I felt like a new man at the bottom.

At the bottom, I talked to a bunch of kids who are on a high school wresting team. I feel good again about the future of America, because these kids were put together.

Ironically, Crossfit is a part of their training. They were floored that I not only knew of it, but could discuss some of the "WOD's" they do. As tough as these kids are at the WOD's, I could take almost all of them on the Incline. This middle aged dude ain't done yet.

So if any of you are ever in the state of Colorado, you have to venture to Colorado Springs (Manitou Springs) for "The Incline".

And you better not "Decline"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Straight Cash Homey

Just when you thought it was all over.... the notorious boy comes back.

Yes, this is a running blog, but I have contemplated changing the name to "Straight Cash Homey" in honor of the return of Randy Moss.

In case you don't remember, check out this and this.

I equate Randy to John Mcenroe. Without these guys, their sports would be a lot duller (more dull?).

Mcenroe even said it in an interview.

Glad to have Randy back. I personally liked the "I play when I wanna Play" and "that's chump change" myself.

**********************

Austin, Tx has some nice running trails. Houston does not.

Thanks Lapham boys & girls for a great run last week.

**********************

Great job TCM runners on Sunday. Caught a bunch at mile 24. Nothing like watching Helen run by with a sign of Budweiser and Bailey's.

Straight Cash Homegirl

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Mistake of the Bully

Whenever I see or hear about bullies in my kid's schools, I feel a certain amount of rage build up internally in me. I have an intense hatred towards those who push people around just because they can. I especially hate it when I see kids do it to those younger than them who can not defend themselves'.

Yeah, it is probably deep rooted issues from my childhood. Blah, blah, blah.

I made a bully really mad this week. It was great. I think what really made this person mad was the fact that I was not intimidated by him. I just sat and listened, disagreed, and said "I understand where you are coming from, but that does not change where I stand". This person is used to getting his way, and got seriously pissed off when he didn't.

I felt like saying "Dude, let's settle this on the trails" but I don't think he would have understood.

The mistake he made was getting comfortable in his ability, believing his own hype, and showing off in front of his freinds. I held the professional line, and gave him every opportunity to not look defeated, but this is a person who is used to getting his way.

One of the things I have found unique about trail runners, and ultra runners (in gerenal) is their humbleness. I think it comes down to them knowing that anything can happen in a long race, and that intimidation doesn't do squat to a seasoned ultra competitor.

Pounding through rough races also builds up a mental toughness which absolutely transferrs to the real world. I actually thought at point point during the above mentioned interaction "I can sustain this punishment for 30+ hours straight.... you have underestimated your opponent".

So yes, another strech of an analogy with running, but at least another post.

Oh yeah, I didn't run at all this week. I just didn't happen. I have had thougths that my ultra days could be over. Not that it is a big deal, I am just not fired up like I used to be. Maybe it is because I enjoy my job and family life enough where that void has now been filled.

I have no desire to suffer through 30+ miles of trail racing anytime in the near future.

We will see. A few more months of me being the "road warrior" and I will need the fix.

Check out The Lawyer. She is back from a sabbatical. Welcome back, and happy racing.

By the way, Friday night at 9 in the Milwaukee airport IS the definition of fun.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The answer to the quiz

Steve Q got it right.

A - This picture was taken in Chamonix, France (pronounced Ch-a-mo-nicks for the American foooonetic spelling)

B - It is the start of the Mont Blanc Ultra Marathon (Ultra-Trail Du Mont Blanc)

C - You should be looking for Dave Ruttum, fellow LPTR dude, and rising star on the Ultra scene. Correct that, he is a star.

Coming off a win at Old Dominion 100 this year, a 4th place at the Ice Age 50 Mile (behind 3 of the top runners in the country), I would stay he is.... not slow.

Great race report here on the Lapham blog.

And here are two more pictures Dave sent along. Amazing stuff




I picked that first picture for a quiz because it reminded of the search books I read with my youngest.

And in case you want to try and find him, here is a picture of him before Ice age (the tall guy in the middle.

Great job Dave

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where's Waldo?

A little challenge for you all

See if you can

A - Figure out where the heck this is
B - What the heck it is
C - If you can find someone you know (I can't find the person I think I am supposed to)

Enjoy...... (Pinche F, you are not allowed to chime in)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Revenge on Green Mountain

Those of you who know me personally, know I was defeated by Greent Mountain back in May.

This weeks' travels brought me to Denver. Every time I got in my rental car, I looked up at the mountains and said "That one... no.. that one". Too many to chose from.

On Monday, I cruised to Golden and ran up "Chimney Gultch" to the top of Lookout Mountain. I think it was about 1500 of climb. I passed six mountain bikers and two runners on the climb. I had to flex my muscles just a tad. Great climb, great run, but really not as hard as I thought it would be.

So I cruised over to Boulder today. I saw there was a "Green Mtn.". Must be an omen. Time to get locked and loaded, get my A game on, and get revenge.

Here is a shot at the peak about half way up the climb


The starting point was at Chautaqua park. My brother-in-law grew up on Chatauqua in the Palisades, how odd is that?

Anyway, a lady at the info tent told me which trail to take to get to the peak (there are tons of trails at that park, most people don't go for the peak). She said 1.5 hours to the top. "Running?" No- hiking. Piece - o - cake.
Starting point 5400 ft., peak 8100 ft.

Took me just over an hour. Scott (another trail runner who passed me near the top) snapped this pic


There was a place to sign your name. I did it with an "uff dah".

Another guy snapped this one


Then it was back down. Very technical at times.


When I was almost at the bottom, a couple I had passed on the way up was finishing their hike on the way down (they only went about half way). The lady actually said "are you a professional athlete?" There you have it... I can retire now. That was pretty damn funny.

Go to the bottom and told the lady at the tent that it can be done in an hour.
She took this picture.


That is not the mountain in the background.

So revenge is sweet, and best served up with a "Mojo IPA" from the Boulder Beer Co. Awesome. The Crawfish Etouffe from Pappadeux's was excellent as well.

Time to get inspired

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It's a bandwidth problem

One of my new co-workers has made the reference a couple of times to people who have a tough time grasping macro-concepts as "He doesn't have the bandwidth for what we were saying".

I love that saying.

I think it applies to me and blogging right now.

I have not posted in 3 weeks. I could say

"I don't have the time" - That is kind of a lie.
"I have nothing to write about" - Has that stopped me before?
"I don't know what to say" - See above

The reality is this:

I am one of the luckiest people I know. I am on week 6 of the new job, and it is easily the best job I have ever had.

I work with great people, I represent the best of class in the industry, and the company is relying on me to do what I think is best for the business.

Cool, cool, and cool. I look forward to going to work. How many people can say that?

I have been laid off 2x in 2 years, and I have come out with great jobs in both circumstances. I now have survivor guilt. I know too many people struggling and suffering, and my empathy for them has kept me quiet about my new gig.

So what the heck does all of this have to do with running? Everything. Ask people who have known me A LONG time, and they will say running has always been a reflection on what is going on in my life. Well.. only a few people really know that. One friend used to gage what kind of mood I was in by my weekly mileage.

I try to approach many things in my life with a degree of passions. "Go big or go home". I am just wired that way.

Passion = Bandwidth

Right now all of my passion is going into work. I am learning my region, the business, and what I have to do to exceed expectations. It is great, but draining.

I have been running 20-50 miles per week, but it is all over the map. But.... I don't care. I am healthy enough to run, and I still enjoy it.

I am pretty sure there are no more races for me this year, but that is totally cool. I might run in the Grey Ghost 5k with my old fogie neighbor (the fast one), but that doesn't really count now, does it?

So a quick recap of the last 3 weeks.

Ran the Marin County Headlands - That place is freaky! The bunkers out there look like a set from the movie Trainspotting. Add the fog = Me freaked out... and nearly got lost.

Ran in Austin, TX last week in 102 heat, 75 dew point. I am still sweating. I found a pizza place named "Death Metal Pizza". It was closed. I HAVE to got there next time I am in town.

Ran the Des Plains river trail in Chicago land, 95 & humid.

Ran at home a bunch. Humid.

Ran in Dallas today in 90 something and upper 70s dewpoint. No problem. 9 miles. Maybe I am getting acclimated.

It was 107 when I got to the hotel last night. I don't know how people survive down here

Blah, blah.

I am crewing for Bill P at Superior. Really looking forward to that. Can't wait to see everybody suffering out there and being on the other side for a change. I am brining tons of coffee, so hang with me and you shall be fine.

I will work my bandwidth problem.

Wait... that sounded really bad

Monday, August 2, 2010

You might have a running problem if.......



....you get to your hotel room, look out the window, see this view, and think

"I wonder if I am allowed to run across that bridge?"

So I actually Googles "Can I run across the Oakland Bay Bridge?"

I guess I am not the first to ask the question. Unfortunately, as of now, the answer is no. But they are rebuilding it and adding a pedestrian/bike access side. How cool would that be? Run into San Fran from Oakland?

I would just have to put aside the horrible memories of the Northridge earthquake and just get high above the bay and enjoy it.

I did find out I can run across the Golden Gate Bridge for free..... but I am not sure I will have time to make that trek.

So this blog might turn into my stupid adventures of which city I am in, and which run I am trying to complete.

This week I will probably make it up to the Oakland Hills. There are some nice trails up there.

But it is a full week of learning about the new job and company. I get to do some cool stuff this week.

Another lame, rambling, post.

But I did run 48 miles last week.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Random Post

I am still alive.

Quick recap of the last 2.5 weeks.

Week 1.

Family reunion - Parents 50th Anniversary celbration.
Highlight - Got to run with cousins who I used to swing aroung by their arms and legs. They are all over 6ft and 200lbs plus. Great times.

Week 2

Started the new job-
Last week - Houston
This week - Colorado.... Sorry, no time to venture to the mountains for a run. Bummer
Next week - San Fran for a week of training and orientaion. Trail run will happen there.... some how.
Week after - Chicago.
Then San Diego, then Dallas.

It is all good.

3 weeks ago I started ramping up the mileage. I am back up to 40+ per week, and might hit 60 this week. What am I training for? Not sure yet.... but with only 3 entered in Wild Duluth 100k.... I am pretty confident I could secure a top 5 finish.

The emails about Ozark 100 are tempting.... but the last 2 hundreds were not good showings for me.

So it is just get back to the miles for me. Once the summer humidity breaks, I get fired up to compete. Hence the base training.

And..... I might be changing the title of this random blog to somehting a little more appropriate to where I am right now.

Great job to all who ran Voyageur last weekend. Looks like the Matt's took the year off.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Afton video part 3

I put the video here because Youtube disabled the audio.

video

Friday, July 9, 2010

Big News

Back in May, the week after Ice Age, I said "I had a bad week".

For those of you who don't know what was going on in my personal life, it was simple.

I lost my job. 2nd time in 16 months.

But... I said ultrarunning has taught me how to deal with adversity, difficult times, and how to keep your eye on the prize.

I decided after this lay off that I was going to be aggressive and do things a bit differently. I decided to call a company I have always wanted to work for, and start a conversation on why they should hire me.

To make a long story short, they had recently decided to put a position in the Midwest doing the same thing I was doing in my last gig.

One thing led to another. I battled hundreds of others through the interview process.

I got the call today that I got the job.

This is pretty close to a dream job for me at this point in my career. And it is incredibly ironic that this and my last job (which I also loved), came to me in the worse economy of my professional life (or life period).

This job transition is a major reason I took such a huge step back. I was emotionally tapped out, and running well was not something I even cared about.

So now the table is turned.

I am very fortunate to have this opportunity, as well as the support and kind words from all of my running buddies in real life and on the blogosphere.

The area I cover will stretch from Colorado to Ohio, Canada to the Gulf. That is a lot of trail running.

Call me the lucky dog.

I will still be based where I am now, so I will still be around to battle the faster Matts.

Thanks to everybody who has been a friend in this trying time.

Now I have to get back in shape..... the trails are a callin'

Thursday, July 8, 2010

More Afton Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNlXF6AaDus

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Afton Video

I filmed a little bit of everybody at Afton 50k and 25k on Saturday. Thanks to John S. who took pictures for me while I filmed.

The first video chapter is done and can be seen here

More editing needs to be done to get the next group of runners on tape.

Pay close attention to the runner in the video at 2:45. I think he is fast because he has an artificial spring in his step. I only heard it after watching the video.

Cheater!

Pictures can be seen here.

I am glad I did not run. I was HOT!

Oh yeah.........

Only one LPTR was there... and....
video

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Capturing Afton

Not running Afton on Saturday, but I will be there documenting it on camera and video. Or.... I may just be the RD's b*&$# for the day.

I am in no shape to run it. Have no business or desire to.

Ran today for the first time in a week and a half. I am sore.

Working on a few themes for blog posts. Should be interesting.

I may have some good news to share in the next week as well.

But for now, I have to get back to that darn pull up bar. This time I put in 4" lag screws. That should do it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Direction of the blog

Now that I have taken a few steps back to relax and live a somewhat normal life, I have been wondering what direction to take this blog.

It started as a forum on what I was doing on a leave of absence from work (it wasn't google blogger back then... comcast).

It turned into a running blog. Then the "road to 100", documenting the process I went through to finish my first 100.

I was told to keep posting, so it became anything to do with running.

The title "A Guy Who Runs" is on purpose. I am an average guy who was never an elite runner. I didn't run track or XC in high school or college. I have been a recreational runner for almost 30 years.

That is still kind of the theme, but since I have nothing on the schedule, I am at a loss for things to blab endlessly about.

So... since all of who are the ones who read this, what do you want to see? I have some ideas which I find interesting, but probably only me. Although, my attitude has always been "If I think it is interesting, somebody might also find it interesting".

So...... here is your chance for input.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I am that tough

Okay.... call it "I am that stupid" or... "should have paid attention during physics/engineering class"

Yesterday I was busting out a metcon, and on the second rep of pull ups, I tore the bar out of the lam beam.

It was a near disaster, buy I escaped with a minor bruise (and a failed workout).

I guess 2" screws on flanges are not sufficient to hold a 175.... 185 pound man in a kipping pull up.

I call it bad ass, but most would call it stupid engineering.

Thought I would share.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Am I being offensive?

I like keeping tabs on the "goings on" of my sweet home Chicago.

This week, there was some controversy over an ad the Chicago Tribune put on for the last nights hockey game.

You can see the picture here with someone who is upset by it here by Christine Brennan.

I saw a debate on this last night on Fox 9 in the twin cities between a U of M person (not sure what her capacity was) and "The Common Man". Common made the analogy of when people are playing a poor round of golf, they get comments like "you are playing like the Common Man". I know it is not the same, it was a joke.

Halfway through this interview, I thought "Oh, crap..... I am going to have all sorts of feminists after me for the "getting chicked ale" I made. I would upload the picture, but blogger says it is corrupt. Figures... the guy who made it is also corrupt :)

So, if you find the Blackhawks add offensive, you should find the term "getting chicked" offensive. Right?

Without opening a huge can of worms, let me say this first.

* I first hear the actual term in reference to Christine Crawford constantly kicking all of the guy's asses in Wisconsin. In fact, SHE may have come up with the term. Although, I think it has been around for a long time.

* I get beat by a lot women, so it is nothing I really worry about. AND, it is not something that even factors into hurting my ego.

* I look at our fast female MN ultra runners, and consider myself having a good race if I come close to any of them. Helen, Kim (Martin and Holak), Eve, Valeria, and many more. I am pretty sure they are not offended by the term, but maybe I am wrong.

* Too many people in our world today can't take a joke. I know it is hard to take a joke when it hits too close to home, so I will be open to the fact that I (we) are being offensive by using this term. But.... in my experience, any woman who braves the trail/ultra community can hold her own. They are tough women, women I admire. I think it takes a lot more than silly hyperbole to get mad. But maybe I am wrong.

* If men and women are truly equal, then why do golf courses still have womens tees? And why does this not offend the likes of Christine Brennan?
The Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in 2002, 2003, and 2004 used the "equalizer" format which gave a head start to the elite women against the elite men. The idea was to equalize the men and women, hoping for a race to the finish between a man or woman. Is this not sexist? The term "equalizer" itself should make some mad. I know women who would WANT to start with the men, AND BEAT THEM.

* In college, I was a part of the basketball pep band. We played at all of the Men's home games. It was a party. It was a blast.
A group of women on campus got together and protested us for being sexist. They said we should be playing at all of the womens games. The university caved, the group compromised, and we ended up playing some of the games with some of the band. Nobody in the band (men or women) wanted to, but we were forced to. Every womens basketball game I played at had more players in the band then spectators watching the game.
I can understand the desire to be equal, but where was the crowd who wanted to watch those games? Their answer was "you have to give it a chance". One person actually said it was because the band was not at the games. Seriously.

So back to the topic.

Are we being bad by using this term?

Is it offensive if I wear a skirt to run the Afton 50K?

Or is this just a vocal minority trying to get their way?

***********
For the record, I have never beaten Helen.

The only time I beat Christine was when she broke her hip and dropped out (I think she still made it like 50 miles). Never beaten Kim H.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kettle Shows its nastiness.... again

I woke up Saturday morning at 7am, a sleep in for me, and immediately thought "the KM 100 runners have already been out there for an hour".

I went to check the webcast to see who and how many actually started. 155 crossed the timing mats at the start.

I had a few hours of regret. I kept thinking "I should be there". "I should have stuck with my program and toughed it out". I checked the weather. 70's, overcast, scattered showers. "not bad", I thought. I neglected to check the dewpoint.

When I saw the runners cross at 50k, I was surprised. Grabowski was in 8th place, but banking a 5:25 50k. Wow, he was running a conservative race. Must have fallen and hit his head.

I was keeping an eye on Karen S., her first 100, and she looked tied for second.

Zach, John G, and the Saari's all looked to be sticking together.

The first sign of bad was when I checked the details of the weather. Dewpoint 65. Ouch! That is like 2 years ago.

Soon I hear that Karen dropped. Dizzy and headache. Dehydration.

Then I hear from Kevin that he and Dehart dropped, and that it was brutally hot and humid. It sucked the life and desire out of both of those hard core runners. Helen couldn't even get them to finish out the 100K. I would have loved to see that conversation. I wouldn't have been surprised if Helen was saying "stop being such babies".

Then the updates painted an ugly picture.

Brian Peterson was running the 100k, did the first 50k in 4:02! Came in 1st with a 9:4something. He was the only 100k runner not to get chicked by Crawford who finished second.

The hundred updates looked awful. I then felt glad about my decision to sit this one out.

Zach's wife was posting updates, and it did not sound good. Zach decided to take the 100k finish instead of the 100m. Smart move. I know Zach could have finished, but the price he was going to pay was significant.

So the night took its toll on the runners, and the Lapham girls came through nicely. Angela Barbera and Deb Vomhof finished well... around 28 hours, I think.

Congrats to Nolan Ming for finishing 3rd. That must have been some bad ass running in the last 40. Great job Nolan.

The KC Nerds cleaned house, though. They got 3 of the top 4 spots.

Great job to all who showed up and put forth effort.

If any of you want to share a race report, email me and I will post it.

*****************

I might run Afton 50K. I am feeling better.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Bright Side of Ultra Running

Back in February, I did a post called "The Dark Side of Ultra Running" where I empathized what KG went through at RR 100.

I guess the "kids" at Letsrun.com had fun with it and kind of poked fun at us. They said "Is there a bright side to Ultra running?" I am not sure if it was the moderators, but I hear that site thinks ultra runners are just slow.

So this week is the perfect week to respond with "The Bright Side"

I had a bad week.

Those of you who know about the looming dark cloud which has been hanging over my head for the last 6 months know what I am referring to. It did not work out the way I had hoped.

But the events of this week are met with the same mentality I had at mile 20 last weekend, and mile 70 at Superior 2 years ago. I actually take on the persona of Al Pacino at the end of Scarface and yell "I'm still standing" as he has a handful of bullets in him.

Ultra Running has taught me to hand difficult situations a lot easier than I used to.

I was with a distributor on Wed when the bad news came down, and he said "damn, you are taking this well". I said, "This aint' nothing, try getting through Crosby Manitou at 3 am when you are at the end of your rope".

So, I actually feel a giant weight has been lifted.

Being tuff, handling adversity, daring to go big and take risks professionally and personally.

That, my friends, is the Bright Side of Ultra Running

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ice Age Analysis

In an interview with Golf.com, Padraig Harrington said the following about a notorious blunder during a pairing with Tiger Woods;

You and he were having a great battle last year in the final round of the WGC event at Firestone when you were put on the clock on the 16th tee by rules official John Paramor. You promptly made a triple-bogey eight on that hole.
I'm annoyed that I allowed an outside influence to knock me out of the zone, not in the slightest bit annoyed with John Paramor. It was a real poor mental error. I should have been able to control the situation. I failed miserably that day.

I heard this quote a few weeks ago, and thought about it on Saturday when the doom set in. There is a fine line of explaining why one fails, and making excuses for why one fails. I am not sure I know where the line is, but I will put out there what I am calling "explanations". If they look more like excuses, oh well. Bottom line, I agree with "Paddy", I should have been able to control the situation. Race day performance was a reflection of a lot of bad decisions in the past month. I own it all.

#1 - Burning Desire
To do well in ultras, that is what you need. You can't "want" to do it, you need "I have do it".

I meet people who want to be runners, and want to run a marathon. I encourage them. I might point them in a direction of "read this book" or "follow x plan". When they ask about ultras, I tell them you need a lot more than the "I want bragging rights at the office" attitude. There has to be a force that sucks you into it, nagging at you, making think "I have to try this". Even the word "try" is okay in my book as long as there is a "have to" to go with it. "I want to do this" is not enough motivation, in my opinion.

Last year I had revenge on my mind, and I was on fire with desire. I had a lot of personal woes haunting me, but I found a way to use the races as therapy.

I learned this Spring that this mentality is hard to switch on for race day. One has to build it over time, and stoke it continually.

When I ran with the Lapham gang 3 days before the race, I told a few "I will be lucky to make it to the race at 100%". I was referring to my mindset.

I let the emotional roller coaster of the last month and more to dictate how I managed things, instead of the other way around. I am mad at myself for this, as I am an optimist by nature.

I was excited to be at the race, it was great to "be there", but I did not have the burning desire.

#2 - You are what you eat.

I guess I am Shit, because I sure ate like it recently.

Being a foodie, and in the food service bus., food & beverage is a part of my life. A big part. Like many, I tend to use food to comfort my soul.

Pizza is comfortable. Home brew is too. Veggies, not so much.

I have been eating like crap since Zumbro.

Barry Sears would say "You are WAY out of the Zone".

This brought me to race day carrying a few extra pounds I did not need. Not sure others could tell, but I knew they were there. Extra pounds slow you downs.

#3 - 50 Miles is a long way.

This was my 6th 50 Mile race. As strange as it may sound, you forget how long it is.

At mile 9 I picked up the pace, and felt great. It wasn't a "fast" pace, but I was pushing instead of cruising. I passed a "newbie" around 10 or 11. I knew he was a newbie because he was already struggling, and asking how long to the next aid station. I wanted to say "trust me dude, you are going too fast for your ability", but that is their own business, not mine. I should have been listening to what I was thinking and should have said it to myself.

Once I changed strategy at mile 22 or so, the pace seemed do-able but I could not stop thinking "Damn.... I have close to 30 miles left and I am already shot".

It was then that I remembered "50 miles is a long way". Never forget the distance and difficulty.

#4 - Fuel & Hydration

Apparently potato chips, cookies, coke, and PB&J sadwiches are not sufficient for fuel in a 50 miler. I had a ton of my own stuff, but could not get it in my mouth. I ate 5 shot bloks, and that was about 2 too many. NOTHING sounded good.

I don't like Hammer Heed, and I like it less at mile 20. I hate it at mile 30. Don't even mention the word at mile 40.

I think I should just start training with the stuff so I am used to it. Sounds like a plan.

This race used to offer Succeed! Ultra as the sports drink. I do well with that.

Oh yeah, 3 s caps for the whole race. At least I did not over electrolyte this time.

But my stomach was a knot at mile 22, and it felt like cement was in there. I have never had such issues as this, and it has happened in the past 3 races. It is hard to explain, but it is the worse part of the bad feeling. I can handle the raw pain of miles on the legs, but the stomach proboblems are a show stopper.

#5 - The knee

It started acting up around mile 13 or so. I had to change the way I ran, and I worried about it. It was very hard to run down hills, steps, and technical areas.

#6 - Zumbro

Running a 100 miler 4 weeks before Ice Age is a dumb idea. Just as dumb is starting a 100 miler 4 weeks before, and not finishing. That way, you get half of the destruction, and none of the glory. It is actually more than half the destruction, becuase your pace is a lot slower in a 100. I think I was out there for at least 12 hours, and it was 12 hours of wrecking the body.

Nobody had a good race at Ice Age this year AND last year after Zumbro 100. Ask, Meyers, Brownie, Zach, and Birkholz. BB made it 9 miles on Saturday and had to drop. At mile 2 he said to me "uh... my calf....". Not a good thing to happen that early in a 50.

*****************************

In case you read my previous post wrong, I am not quitting. I am just taking a step back to get my act back together.

The next 3 days will have a big impact on what happens in my professional life in the coming months/years. I first just need to get through that.

Stepping down to the 100K at Kettle is not my idea of "taking a step back", but thanks for the offer CC. The relay sounds fun... but that is a hard one to justify to the family. But.... there was some conversation about having a "Matt's" relay a few months ago.

I also recall in a state of dizziness on Saturday that I offered to crew for the Paint King at Kettle. That would be fun, but tricky to pull off after my "I am not going to Kettle" statement to the family yesterday.

We shall see.

I first need the knee to heal, then I have to figure out why my stomach is rejecting everything, then I have to find a race to wear a skirt in. Afton 25K? I would love to go hard and watch others get humiliated as a guy dressed in drag pulls off a decent run.

And I forgot from the last post:
Todd "Tater" Egnarski finished his 10th Ice Age 50 on Saturday. He did it with a smile.... well, smirk on his face. He has something I don't have... a "I Beat Matt Long" shirt.

You're a tough man Todd, and an embassador of the sport.

Other good stories can be found here, as well as soon on the LPTR site.

Could the Grabowski "era" be returning?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ice Age Report

It was a long, cold, rough day for me.

I tried to run the race I wanted to, instead of the one I should have run.

At the Rice Lake mile 22 turn around, I sat down on a bench at the aid station. Vishal Shani was there too and gave me the "hey, great job man". I said "I am considering dropping here and now".

I can handle that feeling at mile 40. Maybe mile 30. But at mile 20, that feeling sucks.

Mile 20 to mile 40 is one long stretch before you turn around at 40 and come back to the finish. I spent the whole 20-40 looking over my shoulder expecting Zach to be there (not really, but makes for a good story).

Zach had a long day too, but he had good reason. 100 miles on your legs 4 weeks before is really tough.

My stomach gave me problems most of the day, and my heart and head were really not into it.

I made the decision at the Rice Lake turnaround to get up and start the long trek to the Emma Carlin mile 40 turn around. I saw Scott Meyers, and told him how I was feeling. He gave me a priceless piece of sound advice "Just slow down, man". Best advice of the day for me. I did.

At that point I made a decision. I decided this was a race I had to "just finish". I actually felt an obligation to the readers of this blog to not be such a quitter, and to suck it up and just get it done.

I actually said to myself "stop being such a self centered ass, and finish this race". I know there are a lot of people who would be thrilled to run a sub 10 hour 50 mile, so I figured I had to do that. I thought that might even be out of the question at one point, but quickly found the "ultra shuffle", and did that for the next 20 miles.

Mile 40 to the finish was pretty bad for me. I have never been passed by that many people. I had already checked my ego, so I was okay with that. I even stepped off the trail and directed traffic "The finish line is that way".

Coming off Bald Bluff at mile 45 or so, I was pretty much at metaphorical bottom, but I could feel the finish. Just then Dave Ruttum came from the opposite direction and said "hey, I came back to run you in". He could tell I was having a crappy day earlier. Those last 4 miles were a joy, as Dave helped me remember why we do these.

And for those of you who don't know who Dave is, he finished in 6:41, 4th place. He then proceeded to go out on the course 4 miles and back 4 miles as a "cool down".

Dave, you are the man.

I came in at 9:44:55, and I had to work for every second of it. Last year was half the effort, go figure.

Other notable finishes
Brother Grub (aka Pinche Flaco) pulled out a 7:23 and maintained his 3 year streak of 11th place.
The Paint King (Dehart) did 7:37
Christine "chicked" a lot of guys with a 7:41
Wayne Nelson finished another 50 Miler (I think his first was last year at Surf the Murph)
John Gustafson finished his "training run" really strong in 9:32

Full results here

Might do a longer report to explain what the heck happened.

As of now, I am officially pulling the plug on Kettle 100 in 4 weeks.
My head is not in it. I have stomach issues I can't solve. I am burned out.

It is hard to say I am burned out with only 2 races this year, but it is what it is.

I want to enjoy this sport, and I did not have fun yesterday (although, I did laugh when it started hailing on us).

I need to take care of some things before I get back on the long trails. May do some normal stuff, but right now I have no commitments. I am going to chill for a while.

Thanks for reading

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Nothing to lose

..... Except my manhood, self respect, and bragging rights.

Aside from that, I am approaching Saturday with nothing to lose.

After I finished Ice Age last year, it was the first time ever in a race where I thought, "Darn, I ran too conservative".

So I am putting the cards on the table Saturday, and I am not worried about a crash and burn. I crashed and burned 2 out of 3 Ice Ages, so even if that happens, I still have a chance at a pr. I know, it sounds strange.

Down in Sconnie land now for work. Fratenized with the enemies last night. A simple 40 minute run last night where Double and I preached to Brothergrub. Next time we will try shock treatment.

Beautiful evening in So Wisco last night, and the Lapham campfire was a perfect finish, along with the Lapham Peak Brewing Company's beer.

We all watched as Joel decided to burn all of his awards from running (pulled the medallions off) and burned the plaques. Upon further review, I found these were all awards from beauty pageants, and synchronized swimming. I would burn those too.

****************************

So a rare declaration of my goals for Saturday

#1 - PR (8:41)
#2 - Break 8 hours (not likely)
#3 - Defend my age class title (really not likely)
#3 - Don't get chicked by Crawford (really, really not likely)
#4 - Not to wake up Saturday morning with my hand in a warm bucket of water
#5 - Beat all of the Lapham runners
#6 - Win the thing and go to Western States.
#7 - Set a course record
#8 - Set an American record for 50 Mile
#9 - Beat Zach Pierce

That should do it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Deep or Wide?

One of the things I have learned about the trail running community is that, for the most part, the runners are somewhat humble. (Except for you Howie ;).

I think one of the reasons for this is the inability for the layman to comprehend what it takes to get through a 50 - 100 miler. We have all heard the

"100 miles? I get tired driving that far"
and
"How many days do you plan on doing this?"

to name a few.

As a result, I sort of keep it to myself. I guess this blog is a platform to talk about it when I have nobody else who "gets it" close by.

I say "I am a trail runner" or "distance runner" or "adventure runner", but I try to avoid the term "ultra" outside of the circle of those in the know. It is too much of a pain to explain, and often I am defending the sport from a hostile attack, "That is not healthy, or good for you". Sometimes it is met with someone trying to equate what they do to it. (I won't give examples, but some are pretty funny).

Roadies are different. It is all about the PR, the splits, the training, the gaming, etc. Too much stress. Not my cup of tea.

"Tri's" are the best. And yes, I have many friends who are "Tri's" (term trademarked by Todd E). They will probably agree with this. Warning - following sentences are to be read as sarcastic.

"tri's" define themselves by their gear, and if or if they are not an "Ironman". It is always fun to meet one and they introduce themselves as "Ironman". Then there are the groupies oohhing and ahhhing about how someone can swim, then Bike, THEN RUN! What amazing athleticism!

Okay... enough tri trashing. Sorry gang. Feel free to reciprocate.

So, the point of all of this is how my not so close friends don't even know about my "ultra cool bad boy I am soooo tough" lifestyle.

Last week, as the group I was with was winding down from a stressful week, we were chatting about life and what a great team we made. One of my co-workers complimented me on something, but went on so say "just don't be boring". Or something similar to that.

boring.

Boring?

Boring.

BORING?

Huh. I have been called many things. Boring was not one I was used to receiving.

I actually took it as a compliment. I knind of knew what they were getting it, and I am happy to be boring vs. the alternative which they had in mind.

But that stuck with me for a few days. And as my mind wandered, it hit me.

Too many people today portray themselves as a "Renaissance Man". In actuality, they are jacks of all trades, masters of none.

I simplified it even more

Mile wide, Inch deep.

This thought was solidified some as I recall conversations with others about home brewing. I meet people all of the time who claim they make their own beer. I think "cool", and start talking to them, discussing our common interest. Most of the time, I quickly find out that they don't brew their own beer. They happened to be, at some time in history, in close proximity to someone brewing beer. As a result, they figured they were a home brewer by means of "being there". Calling themselves a home brewer added to their width, but they only went an inch deep.

Throughout my years as a musician, I have met countless people who claim they play this, that, and the other instrument. I even met a kid once who claimed to "play every instrument". When I asked if he could play the ophicleide, he gave me a blank stare. Upon further review, I found this kid was an inch deep in his talent with each instrument, but people oohed and aahhed at him for each metaphorical width he added to his reperatoire. I can "play" every common wind insturment made today, but saying so would be offensive to those who play those insturments. I play the tuba, and bass trombone, and I am a hack at some others.

I used to be a competitive sailor on big and small boats. Small, one design boats are fun because the skill of the sailor is one of the most important things needed to win. Big boats get fuzzy, especially non-class, non one design. For those of you boat geeks, PHRF or IMS.

Every few years, a rich "adventurer" comes to a famous race, having dumped millions into a boat which should perform well. He hires an expert crew (we all did it for fun), and tries to win a big race. Or, he tries to set some kind of record.

What they are really after, is widening their breadth of "mile wide" or more. These guys go a little deeper than an inch, but they really don't care about the sport. They care care about their egos, or "lagacies".

So after much pondering, I realized that most of my life has been lived 1-2 inches wide, but a mile deep. Dare I say 100 miles deep? Okay, 50 miles, since I am less than 50% on the hundos.

Sometimes I change up what I go deep on, but it is never more than 2 or 3. Right now it is trail running and cooking (i put the beer in that category for now). But... in reality, it goes like this.

Family
Work
Running
Brewing

Okay, switch the first 2 (it might be switched for me in the near future anyway).

And before you think I am a lush, the brewing is "the art of brewing". It is not the drinking, it is the creation of a great product. It is all of the hard work, study, and know how to create something others like.

I guess God should be above family.

So the big question is....... is this good, bad, or neither?

If our paths cross, and you don't touch any of my "width", I guess I am boring.

Personally, I am fine with it. I find artistry in the things I do.

And the more I think about it, the inch deep runners are the ones who can't comprehend what we do.

I think trail runners/ultra runners are a mile deep by defacto.

Not sure how wide everybody is. (except for BrotherGrub.... he is WIDE)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Trade Show Training

In an attempt to be consistently posting about running & training, I thought I would add this one in.

Workout of the week.

NAMA One show in Chicago.

AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) in 3 days

> Stand at your booth all day
> Go out with team at night

My legs are sore, but things went well yesterday. Round 2 is today.

The company who is buying our company is two booths away. Neither of us are talking to each other. Makes for some interesting drama.

Now this is a random useless post, but some of you have told me to post more, so this is what you get.

I will take pictures of this workout and post them sometime soon.

ZZ Tops "La Grange" is starting to creep into my head. Can anybody guess why?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Anybody want to loan me a skirt?

I ventured out to Afton today to get my standard 25k time trial at Afton State Park. I have been lethargic all week, and have been bailing on most of my workouts.

I ran stairs with the Lapham boys on Wed, and brought up the rear on the final rep. My knee has been worrisome, but stairs and hills (up) are no problem. The descents... another story.

This morning was to be a quick out... run... and back home. I knew last night I had no chance of beating my last time. Sometimes you can tell.

Woke up this morning, and just did not have it in me. I decided to make the trek, hoping things would jump start a few miles in.

I actually ran hard through the first couple of sections, but my knee quickly sent me "danger" warning signs. So I stopped.

I have 2 weeks to get this knee where it should be. Luckily, Ice Age is not that technical. I would be screwed if it were the Superior 50 Mile.

But, this could slow me down enough not to pr... and that means.... wearing a skirt at Kettle 100.

I don't know why, but I have been dragging for a week. I guess my diet has been in the tank, and that is probably why. Non running related stresses and issues made last week not so fun. Possibly the coming weeks as well.

At the end of the day, I am just glad I get to toe the line.

That is enough self pity for one evening.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Don't blame them, thank them

I turned on the TV this morning and saw on the news that Kate Gosselin got "voted off" Dancing with the Stars. I never watched this show, but caught bits and pieces of the horrific John and Kate Plus 8, but am familiar with both. (I actually did watch Kelly Osborne try to dance to "Crazy Train" by Ozzy. It was too damn funny to pass up).

My wife liked John and Kate Plus 8, and I would always yell "Turn the channel.... this is BAD!". I was never okay with the family being the center point of a reality show. I also could not stand the other shows with that same format "Let's see how many kids we can have and profit off of it".

So every time I see Kate intereviewed, she always says "My family is the #1 priority in my life" (I am paraphasing). I saw her say it this morning. She even insinuated that her poor performance was a result of her unbridled passion for her family (Kids).

She did the same thing when people questioned the health of having a show with cameras constantly on her kids (without their consent). She did the same thing in an interview with her husband right as they were splitting. It is like if she just said "I do it for the kids" enough, everybody will give her a free pass.

So this interview this morning just ticked me off to no end. Hey lady.... Go on that stupid show, or don't...... But don't blame your kids for your poor performance!

Whenever politicians say "vote children first ", I usually assume they are more detrimental to the family than they are benenficial. When famous people go out of their way to tell us how much they love their kids, I become suspicious.

How many people do you know who say "I hate my family. I hate my kids."?

Every six months or so I run into a guy I know. A runner. A good runner. A marathoner. Pretty fast. I usually congratulate him on his recent performance. WITHOUT FAIL he says something like "Yeah, but I could do better. I have a family and kids" (I think he has 2). I bite my tongue, but want to say "Maybe we should subtract 5-10 minutes per kid off your time for your hardship"

A few months ago I read an article about a female Crossfitter who was training for the "Crossfit Games". She would come home from work some days and go straight to her workout, putting off family time for an hour. In the comments section of this article, some guy went off on her saying how she was a bad parent and should not be doing this. This guys said something like "I used to do traithlons, but realized I will never get that time back with my family, pushing the kids on the swing". I wish I could remember what he said, but he had no idea of this families' commitment and lifestyle. He looked at one action and concluded she was a bad mom. Some friends of this woman chimed in on the comments and put this guy in his place. I actually felt bad for this guy because I felt he wanted to be out competing, but can't. So he uses the self righteous "family card" to make himself feel good.

One thing I will never do is blame my family for my poor performance. I want my kids to witness how I handle success and how I handle failure. Yes, failure. You can spin words anyway you want, but kids understand failure. I want them to see that when you get knocked down, the good man gets back up and keeps going. He learns from his mistakes. He doesn't piss and moan. He doesn't make excuses. He accepts it, and moves on.

The last thing I want them to see is "My dad performed poorly because of us". or "My dad resents us because we prevent him from doing x, y, z". My family actually laughed at the fact of my last 2 DNFs. I can take it. I think that is a healthy response from them. I thanked them for their support. My wife actually wants them to crew for me soon. (ahhh... dear, you kind of need to have a drivers license).

The challenge of being a husband, a dad, a sales manager, etc., is finding a way to perform with all of this in the equation. Everybody has their own baggage. I am not going to speculate who's bagge is heavier than the next. But we get out there anyway and face the music.

Ironically, as some criticize me for "Spending all of time away from my family doing races" (three to be exact in the first 6 months of the year), I also hear about husbands I know who don't do jack squat around the house. And.... are not involved in their kid's lives.

I guess the right thing to do is sit around all weekend on the couch drinking beer, watching sports.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Recovery-Training-Tapering-Racing

Tis the season to cram all of these into 4 week blocks.

One of the more obvious things I have learned in the past few years (I knew... but now I KNOW), is this simple concept.

"You get stronger during rest". I know it sounds simple, but most of us just run our bodies into the ground thinking we are pushing ourselves for what will end up being a return on strength. Problem is, we rarely allow adequate times of rest and recovery so our bodies can rebuild and come back stronger.

I rested until yesterday, and then hit back hard. My knee is still a little off, so I chose a metcon which would not stress it.

Welcome "Cindy"
20 minutes, as many rounds as possible

5 Pull ups
10 Push ups
15 Squats

I managed 9 rounds plus one more of pull ups. Interestingly enough, it was hard, but not "killer". I think this one is a lot less taking than Fran because it is all body weight. I have not done a strenght workout for 2 weeks. The rest helped too, as I did not have to do much "chipping". This workout also kind of snapped me back into performance/training mode.

The running workout:
3 minute intervals 6 times
alternate 1 minute rest/3 minute rest between intervals.

Not sure how far I ran, but it was good to "get the lead out". I am doing these outside now, as I really don't care about the distance, just the intensity. If I need accuracy, I will go to a track.

So it is full power until 1 week before Ice Age. Hopefully I can keep up with the fast Lapham boys for at least 20.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Wager for Ice Age

On the Crossfit Endurance websit today (you have to look a day back because they already have tomorrows up), there is a picture of my internet buddy Brandon at the start of the Bull Run 50 Mile trail race this weekend. Brandon owns his own Crossfit gym in Indiana and, as far as I can tell, is pretty much a bad ass.

6 months ago, he was not a runner. Like... never had run more than a lap or so around a track (feel free to correct this, Brandon). I think it was Senator Brett who challenged him to do an endurance run, putting CFE to the test. In true bad ass fashion, he goes from never running to a 50 Miler in 6 months. He successfully completed it this weekend. Great job Brandon. Here is where the debate comes in.

The workout of the day (or rest) has a photo and sometimes something to ponder and respond to. Todays was politically based, but people also were responding to a new running tackling a 50 Miler. So between the Obama lovers and haters, there was a little smack talk towards Brandon.

Someone named "E.P." actually stated that Brandon would have done a lot better following a traditional training method of "Long Slow Distance" (LSD). Whatever you feel about this subject, I found it rather audacious that someone was speaking from a standpoint of absolutes. I also got a little defensive for Brandon.

So I chimed in. Instead of repeating stuff others already had, I offered up a challenge. E.P. had basically brought up the question I brought up in January. "Can Crossfit Endurance take a good endurance athlete and make them better?" . What I was really thinking is... if the weather cooperates at Kettle.... could I improve? on this?

Well, E.P. basically said that it can't be done.

So I offered up a wager. Considering all of the variables for Kettle, and my recent performance (okay, lack there of), I decided to put the cards on the table for Ice Age. Since this will be my 4th year in a row, it is a great test race.

Here is the wager:

I PR at Ice Age (faster than 8:41) and E.P. has to wear a skirt at his next race.
If I don't, I do the same (I might have to make it a race after Kettle, because I am not sure how I would do that). But... I have no intentions of losing.

So the game is on. We have to pove it with pictures. Now that AH is recovering from some carribian butcher, I need someone else to do stupid bets with.

Ice Age will be fun.

Todd Braje is signed up. And I know of a few who will want to make him work for it. Hope they have fire extinguishers at the aid stations for the flaming shoes. Check out his times last year. That is some fast runnin'

**************************

Thanks for all of the supportive comments about Zumbro. I recovered quickly, but my knee is still a little off. I will probably be back at it tomororw.

I retrospect, I remember saying "I wish there were a 100k again this year. 100M just tears you up for the spring races." Maybe the drop was a blessing in disguise.

Talking to another runner this week on the phone, we kind of laughed at the idea of running an April 100. What were we thinking?

"We" are not rational people. It's the adventure we are after.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Zumbro 100 Race Report

Sometimes the shadow is the voice of doubt in the back of your head.
Sometimes the shadow is the controlling force preventing you from embarking on a journey or challenge which you know will push you to your limits.
Sometimes the shadow is voice rationalizing everything which should not be rationalized.

And what I just realized today is that the shadow can take over all operations and start saying and seeing things you would not have otherwise said.

Bill P. has had a few conversations with my shadow, and he had one Friday night/Saturday morning.

When I pulled the plug at Zumbro, it was not my shadow taking over. I actually rolled into the 3rd aid station on the 3rd 20 mile loop with the full intention to fix what was going wrong. Problem is, I still don't fully understand what went wrong.

My strength felt fine. My legs were a little sore, but what is to be expected past mile 50. I had no blisters, no chaffing, and only a sore knee to worry about. Somehow, I managed to get dehydrated.

I did not think I was dehydrated when I arrived at AS 3, I just thought I needed the right mix of food/calories/protein/fat. I even thought "Get a quick 15 minute nap, and that might do the trick". So I laid down on one of those 5 ft. long log benches (I am 6ft tall), and that did not work well. I then asked for a tarp, and rolled up in it next to the camp fire. Maybe a 30 minute nap.

People kept bringing me stuff to eat and drink, but the mere though of food brought me to the edge of puking. I even dry heaved in the fire once.

I started to realize I was probably done. I have been at this physical spot before, and it is not a quick recovery. Once I realized that, then the shadow took over.

The Shadow speaks

"I am glad I have not signed up for Kettle"
"Why do I do these races"
"No more races over 50 Miles for me"
and the cliche
"Never doing this again"

Not sure if I said any of these things, but I was thinking them.

I think I regained control at about 8am this morning.

So that is what happened. From about 7pm - mile 45 or so, until about 7:30 am the next morning, I only consumed about 4 ounces of liquid. Believe me, I tried. No dice. Dehydration was the symptom. I believe the disease was too much electrolytes.

************************

I decided to take a different tone for the rest of this.

I did not want this to be a report where I describe getting to the cliff of death, and barely surviving. I actually want people to come away reading this with a "You know, that actually sounds like fun" attitude.

So it is all positive from here.

Hopefully some of the readers see this as a "I have to do one of these" reads.

*************************

What is the difference between a Marathon and an Ultramarathon?

Marathon - Pre race - night before

You show up to a crowded arena, pick up a packet full of crap you don't need a talk about what 5 minute gap you are hoping to fall into. You cram your mouth full of pasta and go home or to a hotel where you try to sleep, but fail to.

You never see any of the top runners, because they have a different area to check in. They even get their own staging area, possibly their own warm van and even their own bathrooms.

Ultramarathon - Pre race - night before

Sitting around a camp fire with Brent, Adam, Chad, and Donnie. The daughter of the "elite" runner comes over to our tiny little fire and says "My dad says you can come over to a real fire instead of these twigs". 1 hour before we saw him chopping wood with a Grim Reaper style double sided axe. I think I even yelled "Keep that up, we need every advantage possible".

We had a few beers, talked about running, talked about the course, and talked about upcoming events.

Anybody willing to put themselves out there on the start line or willing to volunteer is pretty much automatically accepted into the "club". I think the only rule of the "club" is "You have to get it".

You either "get it" or "you don't". If you have to ask why, you won't understand the answer.

I met to newcomers to the "club", Misty and Chad. Misty will be debuting 100M at Kettle. Chad, not sure, but by the look of the fun he had on his face I give him 1 year max before he is doing something like this.

Sun goes down, off to bed.

My tent was about 50 yards from the start line. Can't do that in a big marathon.

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Morning comes - Aside from the turkeys, coyotes, owls, and other animals I can not identify, it was pretty quiet.

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Marathon - Start

> Wait in line for porta potties
> Get to the start line 15min-1/2 hour before start so you don't get behind 10 min milers lined up in the 7 min block.
> Pee behind a dumpster
> Listen to cliche pre race songs over the loud speakers "Born to Run" and "Chariots of Fire"
> Get into an almost starting block stance so you can nail that first mile as planned

Ultramarthon - Start

> Race director informs runners of markings and special weird parts of the course. Example, "Flags will always be on your left, except when coming on the out and back section. If you come to an intersection in the trail, and there are no markings, you are off course. Go back to the last flag and get back on course". My favorite pre race RD speech went like this 3 years ago at the Superior 50 Mile race. "....... then go out to Cramer Rd and come back" (the out was 25 miles, as well as the back).

> No worries about going to the bathroom because you are going to have to go bathroom sometime soon anyway.

> Staging for proper pace in line? Well, in this case, if you didn't like it you could get in that spot right away.



> No music.

> Hopefully not a lot of thinking about what you are about to do.

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And the game was on.

Almost immediately John Storkamp takes off (as instructed) but gives us the "look back". The big question at that point was how many people would risk going out at a Storkamp pace. I may not be smart, but I know from experience that a certain percentage of those front runners DNF as a result of going out too fast. That is the most dangerous game to play, yet the most rewarding for those who succeed.

I fell in with Brad Birkholz, Zach Pierce, Daryl Saari (Brownie), and a few others. Same old same old.

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The field spread out.

Blah, blah, blah. None of you actually care about what happened the next 20 miles. But I will tell you this. I learned Daryl's nickname is "Brownie", and that he HAS been chicked by the Mrs. Could there be a Mr. and Mrs. Granly Bandit this year? Daryly might have to give his pants to his lovely wife, Lynn.

Adrian, the stud from Illinois was with us for a while. This guy has some serious mojo. He decided to run this 2 DAYS before the start. With a Badwater under your belt from the previous year, as well as a McNaughton 2nd place finish, I guess nothing is out of the question.

I tried to manage coming into one of the aid stations elbowing Brad or Zach to show I was actually ahead of them at one point. Like that really matters.

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Loop 1 = 4 hours. No problem.

Here is how stupid some of us are. We start thinking (and actually saying) "Yeah, 4.5 hour loops... no problem.

(loop 2 was 5 hours, and I was 7th or 8th).

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Loop 2 - It starts to get warm. The "sand coulees" and rock cliffs sure capture some radiant heat. It got down right hot for a few hours. Luckily I layered, and stripped down. I was managing the clothes perfectly (although it is time to buy a white compression shirt, instead of black).

Damn it is HOT.

Somewhere around mile 30, Zach and I roll into A/S #2. John Gustafson is keeping an eye on us. We both look and feel like crap. We both ugged our way out of there and spent about the next hour in near silence. This sucks. Funny how you can bond a friendship without saying a word. I felt things would get better if we stuck together.

At A/S 4 he decided to do a big stop to change, and I went on with the plan to do the same at the next one. I fully expected him to catch back up as I was finishing.

I rolled into the 2nd loop finish in pain, but still together. Helen had my video camera and caught on tape. It is actually very interesting to see what state I was in. Bill was there to help out and learn how to open a trunk on a Volvo.

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Loop 5 - Okay

First A/S. Bill gives me some ginger and I take my first pill of "Vitamin I". Just to take the edge off. I was sick to my stomach. I asked for a small baggie of "the pills" so I could take one every 2 hours. Good, smart plan. I take them. Put them in my side pouch where they actually fall straight to the ground. 2 hours later I was in shock.

But.... leaving that A/S, I felt good. I ran the next 2-3 miles no problem. Maybe more. I was recovering. I was better.

I saw Adam, a first timer at the next A/S. He was pulling the plug. I felt better so I gave him the "fellow runner" pep talk and instructions. 2 hours later I was in the same spot.

Basically, I went from fine, to miserable from mile 45 to 52. Not brain miserable, stomach stopping. Cement was in my stomach. Dry heaving. I can't get any water down. I can't drink anything.

I made it to A/S 3 with the full intention to take a break, and get it back. I got worse.

The Negative Part

I ended up curling up under a tarp by a campfire. What I thought was 1/2 and hour was actually 2.5 hours. I remember Larry making some comment about me under a tarp, and then he was gone. Just a few moments later, Bill P is calling my name (wow, those guys move fast!) These guys tried to get me to eat and drink stuff, but I could not.

I can't explain it. This was not one of those mental crashes. I spent the whole time trying not to puke. I was mad. What did I do wrong? I drank lots of water, took plenty of S Caps (what I thought was less than a moderate amount), and ate consistently (which now I think was too much). My whole body started cramping up (this never happens to me). I really screwed up.

I finally decided this is not worth it. I am not that tough to just duke it out. I can handle the running and bodily pain, but not the stomach pain. I also don't like the idea of trying to cover the next 3 mile leg without drinking any water.

On the short walk back to Bill's car, I realized going to the bathroom how dehydrated I was (you can tell by the color).

I returned to my tent, still in my running clothes (and gloves) plus extra warm stuff and slept. Woke up at 2 am, tried to drink some water, couldn't.

End of the Negative Part

Woke up at around 7:20 to hear Storkamp finishing.

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I thought about changing the name of my blog to "A Guy Who DNF's", but even that is too much self deprecating humor for my blood.

My original plan was to use this as a training run. Try new method's, new things, new strategies.

So...

What went right

I pretty much nailed the clothing part. No cold hands. Never cold (it was cold at times). When it got hot, I put on (it was put on me) sunscreen, and went down to a tank top. No Chaffing. No blisters. No black toes... yet. Could have one.

I went out at the right pace. It is sooooo easy to go out harder than you should on these, and run some of the easy hills. I did not. I never felt like my body could not run. I never lost the strength.

The strength training gave me strength in posture and an overall solid feeling I am not used to. I am used to flab and organs sloshing around, which eventually takes its toll.

There are other things which I think I did right, but may have been mistakes. Still thinking about that.

What went wrong.

Zero heat acclimation. It got hot enough where this became a factor for a few hours. Damn.

Hydration & Electrolytes. Missed by a long shot. Maybe it was the way the race director mixed the drink



Food. Tried new foods. I think they might have been okay, but in the wrong quantities.

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At least I can say this. I have a long training run in so I can go hammer at Ice Age.

There are a lot more thanks and congratulations I should put here, but there are so many.

Bill, thanks for covering helping when I was down.

Brad, that was an awesome finish.

Zach, repeat age class title and 3 in a row against me. Look out at Ice Age.

Larry, you dedication to putting on these races is amazing. You and your family are a cut above.

There are more to think, but just trying to get this one posted tonight.

100% sure about Ice Age, 50/50 for Kettle right now. It is not good to run an engine completely dry of gas. Once or twice is okay, but soon things go real bad, especially if the oil goes too.

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Oh yeah, did Crossfit Endurance work? The heck if I know! I tell you this, I was doing air squats yesterday no problem and I can run up and down stairs today. We will have to wait until Ice Age to see. Fran, Murph, Griff.... here I come (they are CF names).

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Zumbro update

Well... call it a training run.

I pulled the plug at 52 or 53. Real bad stomach problems.

The consensus is real bad dehydration. Couldn't get the right balance of electrolytes.

Two 100s in a row I had to drop because of stomach issues.

I might be on the fence with Kettle now. This is not how I want to be competing.

Thanks to everybody for the emails and support.

Looks like Brad Birkholz is the new sheriff in town (aside from Storkamp).

Report to follow when I get my head back in line.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Final Notes

First off, a big shout out and a get well soon to my friend sitting in a hospital bed in the Cayman Islands. You picked a real bad time for a ruptured appendix.

I can see him now asking the doctor if the I.V. conforms to the Paleo Diet.

Get well soon.

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There is no webcast or live updating for this race. But, Scott and I might try to "Twitter" some updates. I saw might, because we have tried this in the past, and has not worked out too well.

Scott can be found on twitter as "runlikemonkey", and I can be found by my name or "kettlefans". At the end of any tweet, we will try to put a "#zumbro100". If you click on that, it will show all tweets which has that tag.

Problem is, coverage only works up on the ridges, and I would have to carry my blackberry. I might opt not to do that.

If you are my "friend" on facebook I might do 1-2 status updates. I will keep it cryptic as to not shove what I am doing in the face on my non running friends. (You see, my wife wants to know I am okay. I figure if I update around 10pm with a "doing fine, still alive, xxx miles, Storkamp pounding us" she will fell better).

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For those coming down to volunteer or pace, maybe try to find the video camera I brought down. I will give it to Bill P, and hopefully it will float around the race and capture everybody at different times. I have three 1 hour tapes, and a charger for it. Save at least one tape for the night. I hope to compile some kind of movie with that.

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Very glad to see Brent is back from the dead, and ready to rock. He ran Superior 2 years ago faster than the course record at Zumbro. Impressive.

I predict a breakthrough race for Zach. He's gamed me on the last 2, so I have to catch back up.

The Fastest Matt decided to bow out for a couple of reasons (smart reasons). I am bummed not to have a Matt to race against. And it doesn't count if you are the only Matt. I will have to wait until another day to race a faster Matt. (I still have this idea that Long will show up on a whim).

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Great job to Craig Swarthout of the Lapham Peak gang. He was one of the Sausages in the relay for the Brewers opening day. He ran 1.1 miles in that suit. Rumor has it he will run Ice Age in it. You can see a report and slide show here. He was not the one who got run over. I think he was the Brat.

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Good luck to the Chippewa 50K runners (especially you, Wilson). And good luck on T.F.H.

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So that is it. Thanks for all of you who have sent emails, who read this, and are just supportive in general. I almost ditched this blog back in December, but had fun documenting this training cycle.

And remember, this is just a training run.




Does anybody buy that?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Reflections & The Shadow

It is inevitable.

Race week is the hardest of all weeks. The mind and body starts playing tricks on you. All insecurities come to the forefront. If you are not busy, you will go crazy.

I try to use this week to reflect.

I first thank the Lord that I have been blessed with the ability to show up and do something. The event is worth it, even if one does not run. If you want to get a taste of what this is all about, just show up and hang out. You will enjoy it, I promise.

I think back to my first marathon (1991-Chicago). I was TERRIFIED. I was not afraid of the race as much as I was afraid of what would happen to my body when I pushed it to the max. Not pushing it to the max never factored into the equation.

I think back to first joining the Minnesota Dead Runners Society email group. I remember seeing a post by Julie Berg looking for people to get together to talk about running ultras. I thought they were completely nuts, yet something sucked me into to those posts and race reports.

I think back to my first Ultra, Superior 50K. I will never forget Pat Susnik saying "keep it slow... trust me". I kept wanting to run ahead. At the turn around, he took out the shovel and buried me. When I passed the 3 1/2 hour mark in that race, I feared the unknown. I had never run for that long of time.

I think back to my first Ice Age 50M, my first 50 Mile. Mile 32 I crashed and burned, leaving only my teeth as a method to identify my remains. I actually contemplated walking off one of those ridges between "Margaritaville" and Horseriders. That pain would surely not be as bad as what I was experiencing. I got my stuff back together, and managed to have a good final 10 miles. Wow, you can recover in these.

I remember my first hundred..... attempt. Kettle 2008. That word and date says it all. Enough about that (DNF).

My first hundred finish came at Superior Sawtooth that same year. I spent almost 2 months dreading a repeat of Kettle. Fear had taken back control of my body. That day (2 days) are ones I will never forget, and wish to never live again. I was willing to finish at almost any cost. And I almost got to "any". The bees had their fun, my knee went out, and I hit a dark abyss. Physically, I was still there, but The Crosby Manitou Gorge changed me. It was that experience that taught me these races are about something else. I am not sure I can articulate it, but the other runners out there know exactly what I mean.

I will never forget returning to Kettle Moraine 2009 to seek revenge. Revenge IS best served cold, and in this case it was sweet. When I am feeling down, I go back and read that race report. As arrogant as that sounds, I wrote that report for that reason. As a reminder of things gone right. For those new to reading this, it can be found in the June 2009 archive.

And as quickly as you are on top of the world, the slide goes quickly down. And the bottom of the slide dumped me out at the entrance to the Crosby Manitou Gorge at the 2009 Superior Sawtooth 100. There was NO WAY IN HELL I was going to go into that darkness (in case you didn't know, that was around 2 am). Another DNF.

This DNF came with a new stride. I was trying to race instead of finish. Sometimes you pay the price. That one cost $150 plus expenses, and a pissed off crew.

The DNF not only builds character, it reveals it. What you do with it shows who you are.

So now I embark on another one of these adventures. I don't fear the race. I fear my shadow, the guy who lurks behind you but is always out of sight. He creeps into your head and messes with you. He rarely gets any play, and rarely gets heard. But when the chip stack starts to dwindle, the day turns to night, and the mind turns to mush, the shadow gets comes out and stares you in the face. He knows all of my insecurities, secrets, and ways to shut me down. He is a mean SOB, and he does it with a smile on his face.

And now matter how well you perform, he does not go away. He is someone I just have to deal with.

He is the one I am racing against.

And I have a score to settle

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Review of the Training

Now that I am about 3-4 months into this new training program and less than a week before the first race, I thought I would make an attempt of a review on how it was worked for me.

First off, I have to say that there are no absolutes in the world of training. There are plenty of well proven training methods for all distances.

Over the years, I have become a little suspect of the "standard" methods (or, most popular). I think they work great for talented and great runners, but not so much for the average Joe. I have tried many of them, and usually felt beat up, injured or just metaphorically pounding a brick wall.

Up until 2 years ago, my 2 best races were done without much attention to a training plan. My worst years were the ones I tried to follow them to a "T". My full realization came a few years ago when I ran the Whistlestop Marathon on a whim, without any "marathon" training. I had run Superior 50M 4 weeks prior, but had barely trained for that. No speed work, no tempo work, not a lot of mileage. I ran it faster than the races I put all of the work and training into. I was at a loss.

Later that year I made the switch to the "Maffetone" low heart rate training method. It was surprising hard. The difficulty was from the discipline to keep it "low and slow" for a solid 3 months. It worked well for me that year, but even better from me last year. The thing it lacks, I have recently realized, is intensity training.

Now 3-4 months into "Crossfit" and/or "Crossfitendurance", I have seen a new side of things. I am running harder than I have in probably 10+ years, yet am not burned out or injured (kind of - Fran on Monday kind of tweaked my knee - I should be fine).

So here are some pros and cons from my experience.

Pros

Time efficiency - I work out 5-6 times per week, 3-4 "2 a days". The workouts rarely last more than a half hour. Some last 5-10 minutes (those are usually the hardest). I am not taking off to Afton State Park every other weekend at 4am and returning at 2pm. Also, I am not waking up at 4:30- 5am every weekday to run 8-12 miles.

Burnout - With the shorter time spans, burnout is less likely. For me, the running workouts are easier than the strength and conditioning workouts. Doing the running ones is just a matter of starting, and focusing. The strength and conditioning workouts are different every day. It is kind of fun to be constantly trying new things.

Intensity and Commitment - This is a big one. I used to be able to roll out of bed, have a few cups of coffee and hit the road to run. Within 1 mile, I was ready to run. Can't do that with the strength and conditioning workouts. If you are not FULLY COMMITTED to the workout, you WILL fail. This is good and bad. You can dial them down to a different scale, but even those are hard. You have to follow Yoda's advice on these. The reason this falls in the "pros" category is because of the benefit. I can now take on high intensity without fear. Fear has always been something I have struggled with, and part of the reason I love ultras. The fear aspect is hard to explain here, but I have chipped away at some of it.

Results - I know I can run a 5:30 mile or better right now, and my PR at Afton last weekend sealed the deal. I can't say yet if this will work longer than 20 miles, but I am not as worried about it as 1 month ago.

Cons

Difficulty - This is not for everybody. The workouts are not only intense, but many of them take certain equipment and skill to perform. Someone asked me a few months back, "Do you think a lot of people will get on board with this low training scheme?". The insinuation was that this is easy because of the low mileage. I don't think this will become a trend. The average runner who is not competitive will not do well with the intensity. This is not a recreational training program. It is hard, it takes commitment, and doesn't take excuses. This narrows the field of runners down significantly. If you don't do the workouts as intended, you won't see the results. With any program, I can't stand it when people do it half-assed and say "that didn't work well".

Potential for injury - Not on the running part, but on the strength and conditioning part. There were days I felt like I was in a street fight. I tweaked my back, neck, and legs all at different points. These workouts take a certain skill you have to learn, and continually develop. But caution, a bad push press or dead lift could side line you.

Ignorance - If I have one more person ask "is that P90x?", I am going to scream. I guess it is the equivalent of the "how long is that marathon" question. The point of this con is I have to constantly field questions. AND... I have to listen to people telling me what I should "try". Without fail, the person giving me the advice is in far inferior shape/weight than I am. I don't go around telling people about this, the questions are a result of them asking "how are you training".

Equipment - You really need some equipment and space. A good olympic bar is essential. Pull up bar is essential. I took a 3/4" od pipe and mounted into a header beam in my basement ($8). You can search the forums for making stuff on the cheap.

In conclusion, I have had fun and have enjoyed the last 3 months of training. I would not have made it with my planned 70+ miles per week. I just did not have that in me this year. If I lay an egg at Zumbro, don't blame Crossfit too quickly. There are a lot of things I have done wrong. I will judge the success based on Zumbro, Ice Age, and Kettle. The actual times might not be the deciding factor, though.

Few more posts coming in the next few days regarding Zumbro. Thanks for reading.