28 September 2016

Lapham Peak 26.2 Report

"Anatomy of a DNF"

Last month, I shared some thoughts on my running hobby.  I was coming off a great run at the Marquette 50k.  On September 17th, I started the Lapham Peak Trail Marathon.  I have won this particular race the last four years and was excited to try and "5-peat".

Well...that didn't go so great.  I actually ended up suffering my first DNF (Did Not Finish) in 53 races of marathon-distance or longer.

So...what happened?  Well, after successfully harvesting turkeys during the last two spring turkey seasons, they took their revenge.

I was leading the race about three miles in to it, when I came over a ridge, and to a blind corner in the trail.  As I crested the ridge, I came across 6 or 7 turkeys right there in front of me.  The startled me...I startled them.  Reflexively, I planted my right foot and pushed off, trying to move laterally (away from the closest one) to my left.

As I did this, I felt an immediate 'pop' and pull in my right knee.  Not.  Good.

It continuously worsened on downhills for the following 11 miles of running.  After about 5 miles, it tightened up when hiking or running uphills.  While it never bothered me while I was running on flat areas (unfortunately, hardly anything on this course is flat!), right around Mile 14 I decided that it was time to quit.

I was limping.  I was concerned that I would go from "Hurt" to "Injured"...and I can't be injured.  I needed to work on Monday!

So, upon arriving at a trail intersection, I looked at the posted map and found shortest way to get back to the start/finish area.  It was tough to tell the Race Director that I was done, especially considering I was leading at the time.

There were some lessons learned, though:

1) DNF could also stand for "Did Nothing Fatal."  I obviously wasn't near death, but I also could have really screwed up my knee and my ability to work, let alone continue running through my next event.

2) Sometimes you're the winshield.  And sometimes you're the bug.  Sometimes you come over a hill, and a bunch of turkeys will be waiting there to scare the youknowwhat out of you.  In life...stuff happens.

3)  It's all about mindset.  I could have been annoyed...angry...stubborn...dejected.  Many mindsets were appropriate for that particular circumstance.  But guess what.  It's time to look forward, make the best of it, and learn!  Negative thoughts won't get you healthy any sooner.

On that note, it's time to train for the season finale -- the "Wild Duluth 50k" on October 15th.

Happy Trails!

12 September 2016

Marquette 50k Recap

I wrote an article for local paper regarding my run at Marquette.

This race was very rewarding.  I put in a solid block of training after Devil's Lake, and at Marquette it came to fruition.  I even had to strategically RACE after being passed twice in the first 13 miles.

I can't wait to go back.

Two years ago, Eric Mathes was kind enough to write a column in this paper about my recent running accomplishments.  I had just won the Marquette Trail 50k in the Upper Peninsula.  I returned to that same race the last two years, and it has quickly become one of my favorites, if not my absolute favorite trail race and course.
Last month I ran the race once again and was fortunate enough to win once again, this time in the fastest time I have run in there in the 3 years I've participated.  When asked at the office about my running, similar subjects come up often.  So, I'd like to address the "3 Most Common Questions I Get Asked About My Crazy Running Habit":

1.  Why?
I often hear, "I don't even like to DRIVE that far!" when I share that I have run races as long as 50 miles.  The short answer to this question is..."It's complicated."
I have always been competitive and thrived on sports.  After leaving college and entering chiropractic school, it became more difficult to find those competitive escapes in terms of rec leagues or other "pick-up" games of basketball, football, etc.  I also told my sister, Kathy, that someday I wanted to run a marathon with her.  We ended up signing up for the 2004 Chicago Marathon and finished in 5:15.  From that moment, I began to wonder...could I break 5 hours?  4 hours?  Could I run a time fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon?
And, so it began.  I found competition among myself and the clock.  I also found competition in terms of how far I could go.  I eventually discovered the Ice Age Trail in the Kettle Moraine, and fell in love with being out in the woods.  So, "Why?"  I guess it's because I have found a passion for it, and what the world needs is more people who find passion for something in their life.
2.  What Do You Think About?
If I'm simply out on a run, I'm thinking about all kinds of things.  I never listen to music.  Occasionally I'll listen to a podcast.  But most of the time, I'm just thinking about my day.  What do I have to get done?  Any big issues need to be addressed?  What stress is bothering me?
It may be difficult to understand, but when all you have to hear is your feet touching the ground and your breath going in and out, it brings clarity to that space between your ears.  Things often are much clearer when you've applied some physical fatigue to your body.
Now, if I'm in a race, my mindset is different.  The Marquette 50k took me 4 hours and 40 minutes to finish.  That entire time, my mindset is alternating between 'taking inventory' on how I am feeling at that moment physically.  Do I need to take in more water?  Do I have enough calories?  Any cramps starting to show up?  Any sore spots (or, worse, chafing) starting to show up?  While racing, I'm also keeping an eye on the other runners.  This is about competition and it's a race, after all!  At Marquette, I began the race in the lead and actually was passed on two seperate occasions.  When that happened, I need to try and figure out if the runner who passed me will be able to maintain that pace.  Are they running too fast too early?  Are there strengths, where the runner is faster on the flat parts, or perhaps is better at running uphill?
At Marquette, I passed both of these runners back at different times, and eventually took the lead for good at Mile 18.  Once in the lead, I focused on running the remaining miles as fast as my body would allow without "blowing up" and having to walk a lot of the course...and perhaps getting passed back by another runner.
3. Do You Eat?
If I am running for less than 3 hours, it's not likely I would eat or drink anything besides water.  I actually don't normally take in a whole lot of food in longer races, either (races 31-50 miles long).  At Marquette, I took in about 800 calories of sports drink, with some sips of Ginger Ale or Coca Cola in the last 5 miles of the race.  Why Ginger Ale and Coke?  I'm not sure why--it's probably the sugar content--but it just hits the spot when I'm tired and running low on energy.  Two hours before the race, I normally take in about 300 calories of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins mixed together.  I use this to kind of 'top off the tank' so to speak.
So, there you have it.  "3 Most Common Questions I Get Asked About My Crazy Running Habit".  I very thankful to have a supported wife and family, and I try to do the majority of my training when my kids are asleep (in fact, I ran last night--9/6/16--for an hour in the rain at 8:15 pm and again this morning at 5:15 am) so that I can maximize my time with them.
As I mentioned earlier, find something that lights a fire in you!  If it's running, or some other form of exercise, I'd love to help you make sure you're feeding that fire in a way that's sustainable and healthy.  If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to contact the office...
Happy Trails!

14 July 2016

Devil's Lake 50k

I didn't know what to expect heading in to this one.  I have run this event the past two years, with a pretty brutal 4:53 finish in '14 and a 4:27 last year.  The course has changed each year, and I thought that this course would be more difficult.  The course has 4 major climbs, and 3 of them would be in the 2nd half of the run.

Add in the fact I have a 2 week old baby at home...and I was expecting something over 4:30 for the day.  I would have been happy with anything UNDER 4:30.  Well..I ended up running 4:10.  I have no idea how I did that.

The race started with a nice downhill section for the first 4-5 miles, taking us to the Lake.  I was bouncing around a bit in the top ten at this point, reaching the first aid station in about 7th.  Out of that first aid is the first big climb, and I did my best to keep an honest hike of it.  I ran a bit, but not much.

It was at this point that Jon Noll caught and passed me.  This would be a recurring theme all race.  It was an interesting test.  Jon would run every climb.  I would hike them.  So, every climb, he passed me and gapped me.  Once we returned to downhill or flat running, however, I'd reel him in and pass him right back.  He would hear me coming on the downhills, step off the trail...and let me fly by.  We joked about it all day.

On the 2nd-last big climb, at Mile 21, Jon passed me, and I told him I think the "Uphill Legs" would beat the "Downhill Legs" today.

At the Mile 25 aid station, I was in rough shape.  Earlier on I had lost all my SCaps and was in desperate need of some.  Enter...Jennifer and Sam, who were volunteering at Mile 25.  All I wanted was ICE and SCAPS.  Luckily, Sam had brought his personal ultra aid station box to the race and provided me with a handful of Endurolytes, a Ginger Gummy Chew, and Jennifer filled me up on Ice.  As I hiked out of the aid station, Jon passed me.  (I had passed him...you guessed it...on the flats and downhill in to the Aid Station)

I walked about a 1/4 mile out of the aid station.  The course would take us directly to the Lake, and we would then make one final climb up the Lake Hill, then have about 3 miles to the finish.  After letting the Endurolytes work their magic, and expelling a couple excellent burps, I was back in business.  On the downhill to the Lake I once again caught Jon.  We entered Lake Aid with me abotu 15 seconds up.  I stopped for Coke and more ice, and was told I was in 4th place.

As I left Lake Aid and approached the big climb, Jon once again passed me.  As he did, we bumped knuckles.  I figured that was it for me.  I stuck with him for a decent amount of the climb, but by the time I was nearing the top, and for about 5 minutes after flattening out at the top, I couldn't see him.

Once through the BEAUTIFUL South Bluff Aid Station at Mile 28.5, we begin our return to the Finish.  There's a hard left that we make on to a new trail...and lo and behold...there's Jon.  Immediately...blood is in the water and I'm in RACE MODE.

I catch Jon on a gradual downhill and we share a laugh.  He tells me to finish strong, but beware...there's a big hill right before the end.  I'm determined to keep up this pace.  My 29th mile was a 6:52 mile.

About a mile from the finish, there right ahead of me, is third place.  While still running, he isn't moving well.  RACE MODE.  I catch and pass him.  As I do, he asks, "50k?"  I grunt a, "Yep" in reply and now I'm full-on pain cave RUN.

There IS a big hill at the end and I run every step of it.  the last 100 yards is downhill in to the finish and it's a full sprint.  I finish in 4:10, 3rd overall.  I'm still trying to figure out how I ran FOUR - TEN?!

Strava Data

Next up is Marquette.  I want this one badly.  I have 36 days to improve on my speed and IMPROVE GREATLY on my climbing.  Let's do this.

36 Days To Marquette

Leaving Mile 25

Quite a sense of Accomplishment

Uphill Jon on the Left, Downhill Nic on the Right