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Category: Running

Pine Creek Challenge 100 – Friends make all the difference

I have figured out the formula for finishing a 100-mile race. Pine Creek is the 3rd time I have completed the 100 mile distance. The key to all 3 finishes was one underlying theme. Surround yourself with incredible people! I know that’s not easy, and it can be total luck. Don’t get me wrong, there is lots of training you need to do, but that is just a matter of putting in the miles. If you can make friends with complete strangers on the course, find an incredible pacer, or put together a great support crew, you greatly increase the odds of finishing. I have been lucky enough those things happen each time. You are going to be battling your thoughts in the race. Having somebody there to talk with eases the pain. They are there to help push the pace or slow things down if you’re going too fast.

Why is it that in an ultra can you make friends with complete strangers? Is it the fact that you are facing a common goal and you both want to succeed? You create an instant bond because of the shared suffering. So the biggest thing I did RIGHT was to make new friends. It has helped me EVERY SINGLE time in a race, except for Vermont 100 where I was gifted the ultimate pacer by chance.

The other thing I really liked about this race was having a pace chart handy. From this point out, if it is a 100-mile race, it is critical to have every single detail of your race in an easy-to-look at Excel-like grid that is laminated. I am going to create one of these cards for every race at this distance.

Race charts like this make you feel like you are actually making progress in a 100-mile race. Somehow, Michelle, had the entire thing memorized!

The other benefit of running with a friend is you hear about new podcasts and books that are worth checking out. You learn about books and podcasts that might interest you and would never be exposed to. You hear about the most impactful material that is in that person’s life.

Michelle, Amy, and myself at mile 50.

I wouldn’t say I helped Michelle as much as she helped me. We completed it together. In my first hundred, 2 people stayed with me to get me to the finish. I remembered how much of a difference that made to have people to chat with. It helps with your mental state and I couldn’t imagine doing it alone. It was nice to go through the night with someone on their journey.

I am 100% sure Michelle was more than able to have completed it alone, but she was also kind enough to share the experience. Having someone to run the race with also keeps you honest about the pace. We would take turns alternating between a run-walk when combo in the later miles to keep under our pace target. It’s one thing to run 100 miles on your own, but an experience shared is so much more enjoyable.

Some of the things that I would say went wrong in the race were little slip-ups.
I skipped a shoe/sock change at mile 30-40 miles. There was gravel and dust that was getting in the top part of my socks that started to cause a rash. I should have cleaned and swapped socks sooner to prevent that. I also didn’t have enough caffeine intake later in the race and I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I finally got a cup of coffee at mile 90 and it made a huge difference. Maybe I can bring my own instant coffee?

I should have had a drop bag at BOTH aid stations, not just the Blackwell. There is something about having access to YOUR stuff that gives ease of mind. Something in the bag you can look forward to that is not at the aid stations. I struggle with knowing what to put in each bag so I opted to put it all in one, which really didn’t work out.

I ran out of water between the longer aid stations, be mindful of a hot hundred and ONLY using handhelds, they actually might not be able to hold enough water if it’s greater than 8 miles between aid stations. I am just grateful the weather wasn’t too intense that day.

What would I have done differently? Not too much, my feet took a beating and I am glad I went with the shoes that I did. I switched out 2 pairs of Altra Torin 5s which felt great and caused zero hot spots. 100s can be extremely lonely, and if you get lucky enough to find a person running a similar pace it is worth staying together. You motivate each other to push when the pain can be unbearable. If I had to do anything different I would have lowered my expectations of a finish time when on a new course.

How would you know what to expect? My “A” goal I realized was going to be almost impossible to hit. My “B” goal was under 24 which I achieved. My “C” goal is to make friends and have fun, but my “C” goal was actually the most important goal. I am GRATEFUL for the experience and will be smiling for the next few weeks with the wonderful memories replaying in my mind. I still feel new to the 100-mile distance and feel like I have a lot to learn. Finally, don’t put your number on your shirt, I was an idiot and switched shirts and forgot to move my number. It should always be on your pants! How could I forget that!

Michelle Goldberg and myself right after the finish.

Final thoughts: I should have never told people it’s going to be easy because it was all flat. I completely underestimated the distance and the terrain. The course was beautiful as you can see from the photos. Would I do the race again? I am not sure… I think I enjoy a more rocky and technical terrain over the endless flat roads. It was great, don’t get me wrong, but I enjoy an actual hill every now and then.

More videos and photos can be found here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/eA6UWL9FSdMsfC1F6

Trail Runner Nation – Tips for Racing and Running

My favorite running podcast is Trail Runner Nation.  If you haven’t heard of it stop now and go check it out.  I’ve listened to most of the shows in their library.  There are so many good quotes and tips for training.  Here are just some of the ones I’ve written down, and my thoughts on the different topics.  I’m sorry I don’t know what episode, or who said them, but just go listen and you’ll find out.

  • You never know where your last finish line will be. You are lucky to get to do this so enjoy it, smile, and have fun out there.
  • If you plan a quality workout also plan quality recovery. The day following a hard workout needs to be easy. You need more recovery as you age. Listen to the signs your body gives you!
  • Invisible training – it’s getting sleep and everything we need for recovery.  That could be lots of rest, yoga, foam rolling, etc…
  • Road and speed require more “invisible training” than trail.  The trail is not as hard on the body as road running and racing can be.
    • ** This made me think about giving up all road racing next year.  I really agree with this. **
  • Work on leg turnover, it needs to be in your schedule. Try the Yasso track workout.
  • If you put miles in the bank you will pay interest on them later. So go out slow in a race.
    •   Don’t be an idiot first half, and dont be a wimp the second.
    •  “Run with the mayor” at the start of the race. (Run in the back and work your way up through the crowds.)
  • Cramping occurs from dehydration , low electrolytes, or running at an intensity the body can’t sustain.  Train for race and test the pace!!!!!
  • Listen to your body. Take note of what you are doing during training. How much you sweat, pee, and how much food you need. It’s all rehearsal for race day. Adaptations happen over time and you need to know what you were doing when things go right, just as much as when they go wrong.  Have a change log if you modify things with your routines/training.
  • Even if it’s just 5 minutes a day try to start a routine. A body in motion stays in motion.
  • Save music for later in a race when you are not feeling good, or as a reward at a certain mile marker.  It may give you more motivation.
  • As mileage increases so should rest, stretching, good nutrition, and massage. Take care of the body more so it recovers better from the stress.
  • Have an “A” race and “B” race. Focus the effort and training to the more important race.  Have an “A” goal then “B” goal for the race itself.
  • More supportive shoe on race day.
    • You should have many shoes that work the foot in different ways. Race in a shoe with heel support because of added strain. Train in zero drop if you can work it in slowly.
  • Finish fast on long runs. Simulate what happens in a race. In training test running hard while you are dehydrated and have tired legs.  This will help you train for race day.
  • Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement.
  • Drink to thirst.  Don’t be waterlogged and wash out electrolytes come race day. You should not be peeing clear come race day.  Don’t eat too much fiber. Take S caps before the race will prevent the need to pee. You need electrolytes to process fat and food, if you don’t you may have stomach issues. If you don’t have electrolytes then water and food that enters the body will be rejected. Take an s cap or hammer tab so you have the right balance.  (Really applies to longer races).
  • Visualize the race and how it will play out. Do it daily up until race day. See yourself successful and running the course to completion.  A good time to practice this is when you go to bed at night.
  • Race specificity – mimic the next race course and conditions during your training.
  • Don’t let your feet or arms cross over the middle of your body.  Perform an inventory check while running on your form every 10 – 15 minutes.  This is even more important as we start to fatigue.  When we get tired our form starts to suffer.  
  • Your training should be on a cycle.  3 weeks at regular intensity with the 4th week at 20 percent less mileage/intensity. This allows time for the body to adapt to the training.  The benefits from training come when you take a break.  It gives your body a chance to rebuild.  If you’re always going at 100% you never give your body a chance to repair.
  • Mental rehearsal before a big event increases chances of success.
  • Be autonomous!  Know everything there is to know about your body.  Know how much sleep you need, how much recovery, water, and food you need on a run.  You’re an experiment of 1.  Use your training to test different methods of fueling and pacing.  Practice!  This comes back to the idea of rehearsal for success.
  • Slow weights – see Phil Maffetone

Running tips from a few podcasts – Cloud259 and RunnersConnect

I like to listen to podcasts from Runners Connect and Cloud259.  Here are some tips from some of the pros that are worth remembering.

  1. Happy and positive thoughts.
    1. If you think negetive thoughts about performance or training negative things tend to happen.  Try to have a positive outlook and try and be happy while training.  In training, the body and mind are linked.
  2. Building endurance is a slow process.
    1. You need to have patience with training as your bodies adapts.  You can’t expect PRs and breakthroughs every race or training run.  Elite athletes have been working for years building the endurance base they have.  You need to set long term goals that may take 1-2 years to accomplish, not just a few months.  Base work is cumulative.  The most effective training is consistency.  Slow and gradual progress toward your goal.
  3. Strength training can be done while you run.
    1. Fartlek or hill repeats can build strength and can be done while you get more miles in.
  4. Digestion slows while running.
    1. Blood flow goes to critical organs while you run to get you moving as fast as possible.
    2. You have enough stored glycogen to last 2 hours.  Past that you will mostly start to use fat as a fuel source.  You need to perform workouts that promote fat burning and train the body to use fat as fuel.  You can take in fuel on the run, but won’t be processed efficiently.
  5. Hard / Easy days and knowing the difference.
    1. Hard days should be hard, but easy days really need to be a VERY easy pace to promote recovery.  People tend to run too fast on easy days and this doesn’t do anything except set you up for injury.
  6. Weight training
    1. 8-10 rep range for most sets, not 3-6.  Improves technique and helps avoid injury.
  7. Refueling.
    1. Take 130 – 200 calories on the run per hour (This really depends on the person’s weight).  Should be mostly carbohydrates.  Test different fueling sources and see how your body reacts.  When you have GI issues you know when you eat too much, if you bonk you didn’t have enough or you can’t use fat as a fuel source efficiently.
    2. The muscles need a 4 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein after a workout.  Chocolate milk or PBJ are good choices and are cheap.  Studies show chocolate milk helps recovery just as much as the expensive recovery drinks.
  8. Build a training plan and stick to it.
    1. It’s mentally easier to go out and get the training done.
    2. Having smaller short term goals is more rewarding then one big long term goal.
    3. The mind likes when large tasks are broken into smaller pieces.
  9. Runners tend to not eat enough carbs during the training season.
    1. Take them before, during, and after to make sure you are getting enough fuel to work out.
    2. Not all carbs are created equal, choose healthy, non-refined carbs.