Thursday, November 27, 2008

So what if you eat too much

It's Turkey Day!

So many blogs that I follow are offering tips on how to get through the Thanksgiving holiday without eating too much, gaining weight, or otherwise blowing the diet. It's crazy. "Drink a big protein shake just before you sit down to the table." "Fill up on raw veggies first." One blog I read suggested that we just skip the big meal altogether.

You know what I say? What's the big fuss all about? So what if I have a day or two (or three or four) each year where I stuff myself with thousands of calories worth of great food? What's the problem with that? As an ultrarunner, I also have many days where I burn thousands of calories too. I say, it all works out in the end. Plus some.

But if you still want to fuss about it, the solution is not to avoid dinner or fill up first. The best solution is to make sure that the huge meal does not become a habit. And make sure that you dedicate a good hard workout or two to the memory of that turkey and all those poor green beans and sweet potatoes that made your dinner possible.

For the truly obsessed, has a calorie calculator that lets you pick your Thanksgiving day menu item by item, then it tells you how many miles you need to walk (or run) to work it off. Ridiculous.

Enjoy the day with people you love.
Be thankful for what you have, and forget about what you have not.

Run hard out there.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cold snowy run on the AT

(Steve Pero on McAfee's Knob, March 2005)

That picture is from the 2005 Catawba Run Around. I think Keith Knipling took it. I stole it from his site, so I'm giving him credit regardless. I was up there today, and it was snowy, just not quite that snowy. It was about 30 degrees, the wind was strong, and a flurry blew through that coated the entire mountain in a nice thin layer of white. I actually saw 6 other people (3 separate couples) up there, which is pretty odd for a Tuesday morning in cold weather.

It was a great day for a mountain trail run. 2400' of gain in just over 11 miles.

Run hard out there. Winter is almost here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Breakaway Friday: Joel's Story

Endurance Planet has recorded another podcast from Running Through the Wall.
"Running Through the Wall by Neal Jamison is a terrific compilation of ultramarathon stories. On today's Endurance Planet, a Breakaway Friday edition, we hear one of those tales. It's called Joel's Story and it's written by Robert B. Boeder. It's about the life of Joel Zucker, a 3-time finisher of the Hardrock 100-Mile Endurance Run, who died the day after completing the 1998 Hardrock. He was the only runner to die during or immediately following one of these events. But, as you'll hear, Joel is remembered for much, much more than his untimely death at the age of 44."


What a difference 6 months makes...

Here's a graph of my weekly mileage for 2008 to date.

This chart is a feature of, one of the best online sites I've seen for logging runs. Anyway, what should be obvious in the chart is the difference between my mileage for the first half of the year, and my mileage from June on (and especially after August, when I decided to take my injury seriously).

If you know me or have followed this blog, you know I started the year with some big goals. This was going to be a breakout year for me. I set PRs in almost every race I ran for the first half of the year. But then I jumped into the Old Dominion 100 a bit under-prepared. I had a fantastic race (sub 24 hours, top-ten finish) in brutal conditions (99-degrees that afternoon), and I am very glad I did it. I would never give up the exhilaration of racing for that buckle.


It came at a cost. After the OD100, I was mentally and physically broken. What I lacked in motivation I made up for in tendinitis. I went from averaging 50 miles per week to struggling to find excuses to run at all. From June to August I tried to push it too far too soon, and I paid for that too. In fact, I still am to some degree.

But you know what? So what if I missed Mountain Masochist (A race I absolutely despise due to the early start and the logistics of getting to and from the start/finish). So what if I missed the inaugural Grindstone. Those races mean nothing to me. What really bothers me is that finishing another Hellgate is in jeopardy. I've enjoyed five successful years there. Without a doubt some of the most memorable moments in my ultrarunning career happened there. I recall spending hours on that course with some of my dearest ultra friends Dan Lehmann, Mike Day, Cat Phillips, Kevin Townsend, Doug Blackford, and too many others to name. And finishing every year to find my wife and son waiting for me, it's more than any man deserves.

I am not ready to give that up. I will not give that up.

I have my work cut out for me between now and December 13. But I am willing to give it every ounce of passion I have. The reward is there, all I need to do is run smart and claim it. And that's exactly what I plan to do. Just before midnight on a cold December night, I'll stand at that gate one more time, shivering with anticipation as we pray and sing the National Anthem. Then, with the shout "Go!" and a chorus of nervous cheers, I will join 120 others and run into the darkness.

To be continued...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hellgate revisited

One of the "what ifs" has been removed. Now what?

Is it really all up to me?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hellgate What Ifs

What if I could get out of the funk I am in and convince myself that I really could finish this great race one more time.

What if I could cram months of training into 4 short weeks?

What if I could forget about finishing it fast, and just go out there to have fun and finish?

What if the race director would let me in at the last minute even though the race has been full for weeks?

What if...

Hellgate. It is the only race that I know so well I can visualize almost every mile in my head. I have had some of my best (most fun) times out on that beautiful and challenging course. I've run it fast, and I've run it slow. But I've always run it.

It offers so much. Am I really willing to give it up without a fight? The picture above was from Hellgate 2005. I trainined that year for a sub-three-hour marathon in the fall. That speedwork carried over and allowed me to have my fastest Hellgate in what was perhaps the worst weather year. Footing was hard to find. But what I did find that year was the courage to go out there and do my best.

Maybe muscle memory can help me get back into ultra shape in 4 weeks. If only I could remember where I put my courage.

Run hard out there.