Add to Technorati Favorites "Going the Distance!": November 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Go'in Back to Cali" and Staying Fit During the Holidays

"Go'in Back To Cali"
Last week I headed out to Los Angeles to visit my good friend, Erik, for the Thanksgiving Holiday. The plan was to catch up with Erik on life, eat (of course), run along the beach, make some new friends and get in some hiking up near Malibu. I'm happy to say I did all of that and then some and the weather was perfect; sunny from the moment I stepped off the plane until I left yesterday with highs hovering around 70 degrees and lows dipping into the 50's. Erik owns a beautiful house in Venice about a mile from the beach so every morning I ran along the boardwalk towards Santa Monica Pier and ventured as far as Pacific Palisades a few times. I would then jump on the bike for a bagel and peanut butter from Main Street Bagels in Santa Monica and a No Sugar Added Mocha Latte from the Coffee Bean. Mmmmm... delicious!

We spent Thanksgiving at Erik's house and the meal was excellent; it was all organic and everyone brought a homemade dish. The dinner guests were great and all very interesting; they included Janella (works for Brushfire Records), Elizabeth (a local artist), Mike (a professional BMX rider and owner of Lavar Brand), Frank (owner of Natural High Lifestyle), Jason (an account exec for Outside Magazine), Brittany (a Director at Quiksilver) and Erik (SVP Merchandising and Design at Quiksilver). Frank advised us all to have an eating strategy so we had dinner and desert while taking regularly scheduled breaks to rest and let everything settle; eating can be hard work! With such a diverse group of people the conversations were very thought provoking; I enjoyed soaking it all in as we discussed everything from the environment to how to make the perfect cup of french press coffee.

Friday I woke up with a sugar hangover thanks to Brittany's homemade pies and ran it off with my own personal half marathon along the beach. After my bagel and coffee Erik and I headed up to Leo Carillo for some hiking and grabbed a bite at Malibu Seafood on our way back home. Friday night was mellow with dinner at Primitivo on Abbott Kinney and Saturday I spent most of the day just riding my bike around Venice exploring and people watching. I thought I was supposed to fly out Sunday afternoon so Erik took me to the airport around 10:00 am but when I tried to check-in I figured out that my flight was actually booked for Monday. I took a cab back to his house and enjoyed the rest of my bonus day; OK with me! Erik and his friends were so kind and really made me feel welcome during my stay. Part of the reason for the trip was to figure out what's next for me in my career and where I want to live; I can definitely see myself returning to the sunny beaches and warm people of Southern California and know that the right door will open if that is where I'm supposed to be. To check out all of the pictures from the trip click HERE.

I definitely ate my fair share but made sure to get plenty of exercise during my vacation to burn off the excess calories. I logged over 60 miles of running along the beach and a ton of miles on the bike exploring Venice; it's OK to indulge a bit but it's imperative to maintain your workout routine especially during this busy season. I was reading the article, "You're Invited For The Holidays," in the LA Times on Sunday and it talked about how important it is to make time for exercise so you can start 2008 feeling fit and healthy. The article had some really good tips and you can check it out in its entirety by clicking HERE. Of course my recommendation is to just lace-up the sneakers, throw on some layers and head out the door!

This weekend is the Green Rock 40 Mile Fun Run out on the trails behind Six Flags. My good friend, Deanna, is heading down from Columbia Friday afternoon to crash at my parents house and we're going to roast up some SMOREs in the backyard; Good Times! The run starts at 6:00 am Saturday morning and I figure it will probably take us around 9-10 hours. The weather is looking ideal, partly cloudy with a high of 40 degrees and no chance of rain; PERFECT! I'll have pictures and a full report next week.

Hope your Holiday was good and Happy Running,

Monday, November 19, 2007

I "Got My Kicks" At The Route 66 Marathon

Me, Dan, LaDonna and Brian

I headed down to Tulsa this past weekend to run the Route 66 Marathon with my second cousins, Dan and Brian. It was to be the first marathon for both of them and we thought it would be a great experience to run it together. My Dad and I left around 5:00 am Sunday morning from my Grandparent's lake house near Grove to drive to the Southern Hills Marriot where we were meeting up with Dan, Brian and their families. We arrived at about 6:45 am and I headed into the lobby to find all of them waiting. I quickly ran to the restroom and then we jumped into our cars to make our way to the start line downtown.

I expected a lot more traffic considering it was a marathon morning but we had no problems finding a parking space and getting to the start area. The weather was ideal with the temperature hovering around 50 degrees and an overcast sky; there was a slight mist in the air and a cool breeze from the south. For a marathon it doesn't get any better! As we stood around waiting we caught up a bit on life, since I haven't seen either of them in about 12 years, and chatted about the race. They were both very excited and well prepared for the 26.2 mile distance. I saw my good friend, Matt Bickhard, along with TATUR founder, Brian Hoover, who were also running the marathon; it seems that no matter where I race I always see familiar faces. Around 7:50 am we were directed into the starting corral and promptly at 8:00 am we were off.

Brian and Dan's goal was to maintain a 10:00 min/mile pace throughout the race and finish somewhere near 4 hours and 30 minutes. We began the race a bit fast (go figure) and were consistently running a 9:00 minute mile pace through the first 10 miles. They both were feeling good but I could tell Dan was a bit concerned about going out too fast and I should have listened better; instead of backing off we just continued cruising along. I kept reminding them to relax their shoulders, take electrolyte capsules and listen to their bodies; if they felt lactic acid building up or that we were pushing it too much just speak up and we would slow down. Around mile 10 I saw fellow SLUG Tom Whalen running back towards downtown in 4th place and shouted over words of encouragement; man that guy can fly! He ended up placing 4th overall and taking 1st place Master's Male; congrats Tom! We hit the halfway mark at 10:00 am and were pacing ahead of our 4:30 goal but a lot can happen during those last 13 miles.

As we left Jenks on our way back towards downtown, Dan said his hamstrings were beginning to cramp and I reminded him to take some more electrolyte caps and down some GU. We also stopped so he could stretch his legs out a bit and decided to let Brian go on without us. Around the 15 mile point I saw my Dad and asked him to bring my bag out to me at the next stop as I had forgotten S-Caps and Hammer Gels. Up until this point I had been borrowing electrolyte caps from Dan but they weren't S-Caps and had less sodium; I suspected that may be why he was having some issues as he wasn't replacing the salt he was losing through his sweat. About a mile later my trusty "Crew Chief" came to the rescue delivering the much needed S-Caps which I shared with Dan as he was complaining of severe cramping in his hamstrings and calves.

Around mile 17 we began taking walk breaks as we waited for the cramps to subside but they never quite did and by mile 22 Dan was hurting pretty badly as the cramps had now moved into his quads. It was also at this point that he hit the "Wall" and as he weaved back and forth he told me that he was so tired he could fall asleep right there in the road. Fortunately an aid station was near, he downed some Accelerade and GU and within minutes he was back and alert; close call! He pushed on despite the fatigue and pain reminding himself that the more he ran the quicker he'd reach the finish line. Around the 25.5 mile mark we saw Matt Bickhard who was walking back up (he had already finished) looking for his friend. Matt told us that it was all downhill from here which put the spring back in Dan's step as we coasted and rounded the last turn towards the finish line. We crossed the tape in 4:36:37 and Dan now officially has the first of what will be many marathon finishes under his belt. Brian finished about 15 minutes ahead of us in 4:22:34 and Brian's wife, LaDonna, ran the Half Marathon in 2:25:18. They dug deep and finished strong; congrats to all three of you!

As we stood around munching food and talking with our families I was reminded of how I felt after I finished my first marathon back in December, 2005. I was physically exhausted, emotionally drained but very proud; I could see that same look in their eyes and it made me smile. I think most of us ultra-runners tend to just shrug off the marathon distance as no big deal but watching Dan and Brian push on as they battled cramps and fatigue made me respect the distance again. Both Dan and Brian started out running back in January of this year not with the intention of completing a marathon but simply to lose weight and live a healthier life. After many months of training and hard work they accomplished something that most people never will; everyone CAN finish a marathon but few have the discipline and dedication to actually do it. Way to go Dan, Brian and all of the other First Time Finishers at the Route 66 Marathon!

To view the full results of the Route 66 Marathon click HERE and to view all of the pictures from the race click HERE.

I leave for LA Wednesday morning to visit my good friend and former colleague, Erik, for the Thanksgiving holiday. He actually lives in Venice so we plan to get in some beach running, yoga and hiking over the long weekend as we catch up on old times and discuss what lies ahead in the future.

Wishing all of you a great holiday and Happy Running!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Race Day Tips for a Marathon and Beyond

Recently Runner's World Magazine published an article by Amby Burfoot on how to run a "smart" marathon titled, appropriately enough, "Marathon Smarts". This Sunday I'll be running the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa with my second cousins Dan and Brian and have been thinking about some tips to give them before the marathon. Much of this information is not new and is mentioned in the article but what I have done is to describe my own personal race routine whether I'm running a marathon or a 100 miler.

1. Stick With the Tried and True - I never try out new things on race day. This weekend I'll be wearing my New Balance 902's which have about 60 miles on them along with Injinji socks, my "signature" yellow SLUG jersey, favorite North Face shorts and a Headsweats hat. I've worn all of these items 100's of miles and know that they're comfortable and don't cause any chafing or blisters. For nutrition I'll bring along a few pouches of Hammer Gel and 10 S-Caps both of which I've used many times in training and I'll stick with water only for hydration.

2. Rise and Shine and EAT - The minute I wake up I'll eat a bowl of Nature's Path Optimum Power Cereal and add some raisins of my own; this is a staple for me as I eat it every morning. I usually eat about 2 servings so total with milk and raisins it's around 550 calories; plenty to fuel me for a while. Since we're leaving for Tulsa at 5:00 am (3 hours before the race starts) I'll also eat an Odwalla Bar at about 7:00 am; my favorite kinds are Berries Go Mega and Chocolate Chip Peanut.

3. You May Be Cold Now But You'll Be Hot Before You Know It - Unless the projected high during the race is below 40 degrees I'll wear a short sleeve shirt and shorts. Sometimes I bring along a throwaway sweatshirt to wear up until the last minute and either toss it or hand it off to my crew. If you wear a throwaway and toss it you won't get it back; most races donate the clothes to charity. I pick up my throwaway shirts at Goodwill for $2; can't go wrong there.

4. No Bloody Nips - I use Body Glide under my arms and on my inner thighs and Nip Guards or band aids (much cheaper) to protect my nipples; this is IMPERATIVE if you are a male. Make sure that you've worn your clothing, shoes and socks before in long training runs so you know they don't cause you any problems; goes back to rule #1.

5. Keep Your Number On Your Shorts (and your shorts on your rear end) - I actually just started this at Kettle since I planned on changing shirts at some point and have been doing it for every race since. It gives you flexibility so you can change on the fly and not worry about transferring the number; I'm assuming that most of you plan on keeping your shorts on for the entire race :-)

6. Perk It Up - I don't drink coffee before a race as it messes with my stomach but I do grab a Soy Latte if there is a Starbucks around. Many people, including my friends Gabe and Deanna, won't run a race without there caffeine fix; personally I can take it or leave it.

7. Save Your Energy For The Race - For distances longer than a marathon I don't warm up at all and this weekend at Tulsa I won't either given the leisurely pace we'll be running. If I'm really going after it in a marathon (which I rarely do anymore) then I'll jog just a bit before and do some light stretches after my muscles are warm; not too much but just enough so that when I start at a 7:00 min./mile pace my body is ready for it. For ultra's there is plenty of time to warm up when the race begins.

8. They Have Water At the Aid Stations - I may sip on water before a race but usually am plenty hydrated going into it; I see a lot of people downing liquids until the last minute and I used to be one of them. Perhaps I am just more lax now but I don't really worry about it; if I'm thirsty I drink but I don't go out of my way to hyper-hydrate. It's not like you're heading into the Sahara; in most marathons water is available every 1-2 miles.

9. Steady Does It - I never do this in marathons but am getting better; I always start out too fast and fade at the end. This is the opposite of how it's supposed to be done as it's better to get faster towards the end (negative split) or at least run an even pace throughout (even split). Most elite marathoners run negative splits as Ryan Hall did in his recent victory at the Olympic Trials.

10. Don't Let Mole Hills Become Mountains - Don't wait to get the rock out of your shoe or adjust your shirt if it's rubbing you in a weird way; these things will only get worse. Catch them before they cause any real problems!

11. Something To Drink? Yes, Please! - I drink from the beginning of the race until the end but be careful not to overhydrate; take S-Caps to keep your electrolytes in balance. Hyponatremia is very dangerous (potentially deadly) and can occur if you drink too much without replacing lost salt.

12. Love To Eat - In a marathon I'll stick to Gels only (GU or Hammer Gels) but in longer distances I will eat more "real" food. Whether it's M&M's, Coke or PB&J, if it looks good I'm eat'in it! You must replace the carbs you are burning otherwise you most likely will hit the infamous "Wall" when your body has depleted all of its glycogen stores. The body can only store about 2,000 calories as glycogen and most people burn an average of 100 calories per mile; that's why the Wall suddenly appears around the 20 mile mark when your body runs out of fuel.

So that's my own personal spin on the tips from Runner's World and you can read the article in its entirety by clicking HERE. Please email me or comment if you have any questions or an interesting pre-race ritual you'd like to share with everyone.

I'm off to the Lake Friday and then Tulsa Sunday morning; look for a full race report to be posted late Monday night.

Happy Running,

Saturday, November 10, 2007


UltraLister Davy Crockett recently published a list of 100 Mile FAQs (frequently asked questions) on his blog which I found very interesting. Although I'm a "Newbie" at this distance I do get quite a few questions from runners and non-runners alike when they find out that I've completed two 100 milers in my short running career (2007 Kettle Moraine and 2007 Arkansas Traveller). Following Mr. Crockett's lead I decided to post my responses to some of the 100 mile FAQs.

1. Do You Sleep During The Run? No, personally I do not. Since these are races my goal is to finish the distance as quickly as I can; also there is a 30 hour time limit for most 100 milers leaving little time for naps.

2. Do You Walk? Yes, I would say that I walk about 30% of the total distance (30 miles). The "plan" is to walk the uphills, jog the flats and run the downs; of course if the race is relatively flat then you must include scheduled walk breaks. At Arkansas Traveller I didn't follow this plan and ran everything for the first 16 miles which almost caused me to DNF early in the race due to the heat and humidity.

3. Do You Eat While You Run? Yes, you're supposed to. In a 100 mile race I'll burn around 15,000 calories so it is essential that I replace these calories during the run. For me I have a hard time eating as I tend to have no appetite and an unsettled stomach; I force myself to eat whatever "looks" good or something I can just gulp down. At Arkansas Traveller I lived on Coke and Soup during the last 60 miles but typical aid station fare includes Soda, M&Ms, Gels, Sports Drink, candy, chips, cookies, PB and Jelly sandwiches, boiled potatoes and about anything else you can imagine (pancakes, sausage, bacon, hamburgers, etc.). You must also replace your electrolytes during the race by either consuming salt or electrolyte capsules. Personally I take Succeed Caps and in hot weather consume about 3-4 an hour; during the AT100 I took over 60 S-Caps throughout the 24 hours I was running.

4. Do You Stop To Rest? There are aid stations about every 4-5 miles where we fill our water bottles, grab something to eat and see our crew if the station is accessible to them. My rule is to get in and out of an aid station in 2 minutes or less as I take food out with me to eat while I'm walking. My crew usually walks along side refilling me with Hammer Gels, S-Caps, Woerther's Candies, Starlight Mints, Clip 2 and Tums. I almost NEVER sit; as the old ultra saying goes "Beware of the chair!" It has been the cause of many DNF's (Did Not Finish) for other runners.

5. How Long Does It Take To Run 100 Miles? As Davy says in his response it really depends on the course. Kettle was my first 100 miler and I finished in 27 hours and 11 minutes due to the fact that I walked the entire last 38 miles. At Arkansas I finished in 24 hours and 35 minutes as I was better prepared both mentally and physically for the night portion; I practically ran an even split (1st 50 miles in 12:09 and last 50 miles in 12:26). In February I plan to run Rocky Raccoon which is considered "easy" for a 100 miler; my goal is to run a sub-24 but my "stretch" goal is to beat 22 hours.

6. Why Do You Like To Run 100 Miles? That's the Million Dollar question that I get all the time! First and foremost I like to push myself to see exactly what I'm capable of; the feeling of accomplishment when you finish is unsurpassed by anything else I've ever experienced. I love the people I meet during the journey and the beautiful places I get to see. I've learned a lot about myself; I can achieve anything I set my mind to and when the going gets tough I'm able to handle the stress in a calm manner (something I try to apply in everyday life). I enjoy reflecting back on the race and going through the "play by play" with family and friends; it's like reliving the excitement all over again! Lastly, you can't truly appreciate "rest" or a shower until you've run a 100 miler.

7. How Long Does It Take You To Recover? I'm usually running again by the next weekend although I stick to trails and go no further than 7 miles. Typically I do a "reverse taper" and am back to my average weekly mileage by about 3-4 weeks after the race. I ran the Rock Creek 50K three weeks after Traveller and missed my 50K PR by 3 minutes placing 7th overall; my recovery time is getting shorter and shorter as I get more miles on my body.

8. What Do You Think About As You Run? When running a race of this distance you focus on how you're feeling (body scan from head to toe and internally), keeping your hydration/electrolytes in balance, following your fueling strategy and what you're going to need at upcoming aid stations. When you scan and something isn't right you then move into a solution oriented mode to figure out what you need to do to fix the problem before it gets any worse. If you are at a REALLY LOW POINT you start thinking about why you're doing this as you search for meaning and inspiration to push on.

9. How Much Do You Have To Train? I average about 50 miles per week and a typical week consists of 4-5 runs of 6 to 10 miles and one long run over 15 miles. The Long Run is really the key as it primarily trains the endocrine system to handle the stress you will encounter during a 100 miler. I ran at least one race of 50K or longer practically every month this year.

10. Doesn't It Hurt? Yes! There are times when the pain seems unbearable; you must know the difference between "safe" pain and pain which signifies a problem so serious that you must quit. By about mile 50 everything hurts to some extent so it simply becomes varying degrees of pain. At Arkansas I actually started feeling better as the race progressed during the last 50 miles; I've found that for me late in a race it is less painful when I'm running than when I'm walking or standing still. As Davy said, after the race the pain subsides but the memories and sense of accomplishment last a lifetime!

11. Do You Get Blisters? I am blessed in that I have very few foot problems and rarely get blisters. If I do they are small and relatively insignificant; I usually don't even notice them until the race is over.

12. What Kind Of Shoes Do You Run In? I run in trail running shoes and love the Asics Gel Trabucos; I've tried others but keep coming back to these. I also wear Injinji Socks, use Sole orthotic insoles and Dirty Girl Gaiters. During Arkansas Traveller I ran in the same pair of shoes the entire race, never changed my socks and my feet felt great (it's all relative).

13. How Many Miles Do You Run In A Year? I just started running in September, 2005 so:
2005 - 492 Miles, 2006 - 2454 Miles, 2007 - 2305 Miles (through 11/11)

14. How Often Do You Run 100 Miles? I've only run two 100 milers and completed both of them in 2007. This year I also ran races of all distances including one marathon, six 50K's, one 6 Hour Timed Event and one 50 miler. I will be running one more marathon this month and a 40 mile "fun run" in December which will complete my events for 2007. Next year I will run fewer races and plan to participate in four 100 milers; I will run less 50k's and no marathons.

15. Do You Win? Not Yet :-) I am relatively young and early in my ultra career; the highest I've placed in a 100 miler was 20th at Arkansas. My running times in general have improved quite dramatically this year and I do think that someday I'll be able to run a sub-20 hour 100 miler. Is that good enough to win? Depends who shows up that year.

Are there any questions I've missed? If so please shoot me an email or leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer them.

I may be back later this week with another post before I leave for the Route 66 Marathon on Friday. As you probably have gathered I didn't travel to California as my trip got postponed; I'll be heading out there for the Thanksgiving Holiday which actually works out much better anyway.

Hope all is well and Happy Running,

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Day After The Marathon

This video was created by the Flora London Marathon as a commercial for the event. I saw it a few months ago but forgot about it until I was checking out Kelly's Blog today and she had it posted. Something most of us can relate to; enjoy!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ryan Shay Collapsed and Died Saturday During the Olympic Trials

Ryan Shay: Photo from

A tragic story as Ryan Shay died during the Olympic Trials this past Saturday in Central Park, NYC. According to sources, the 28 year old marathoner collapsed about 5 1/2 miles into the race and was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival. To read the November 8th NY Times article, "Small Town Mourns a Running Marvel," please click HERE.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Alicia, his family and his friends. Let this serve as a reminder to us all that life is precious and that you never know when your time will come; enjoy every breath!

For more information please click HERE.

The Ryan Shay Memorial Fund
5873 Leisure Lane
East Jordan, MI 49727