I have been tossing this “crazy” idea around in my head for a good 6 months now. I don’t know the moment I decided “someday I want to run a 50 miler” but it was likely after too many Ultra Runner Podcast reads/listens combined with a few post long run beers. Up until the last month, however, it has been something I was able to shrug off saying “I’ll wait until the kids are old enough to stay home alone.” There was safety in that, they are only 4 now! The last thing I have EVER wanted to do was for this hobby of mine to make my family life any more difficult to schedule. Somewhere in the last month this fleeting thought rushed to the front of my mind and I took the first step into the danger zone and googled “how to run your first 50 miler”. EEEEKKKK Second step was putting a call out on a local trail running group’s Facebook page for advice. A phone call and a few e-mails later (I LOVE the running community, always so willing to help!) I was convinced it is at least do-able, I am not the ONLY person to EVER run a 50 miler with kids and a job.
This week I had a talk with my wife, who will have more/longer weekend mornings to captain solo at home, and she thinks it is manageable. Her main point was “why wait, you never know what can happen so do it now!” That makes sense in the case FOR running a 50 miler in 2014 but AGAINST my brain is still pushing back, “I will miss things, and these are the sweet years for the kids. I won’t miss much when they are teens who sleep until noon!” Another point my Mother-In- Law made FOR was that the race I want to do is looped. I COULD drop at 30 miles and since I was planning a 50K that weekend why not go with the A goal being finish 50 and B goal do the 30 I would have done had I stuck to my original 2014 plans. Not that I would use that as an excuse to under train OR DNF it DOES make it seem less terrifying.
The only other AGAINST is this leg issue I’ve been dealing with for a while now. It seems to fade/go away just to come back again. I got a once over from a sports med doc who couldn’t seem to say anything more than “possibly” overuse. It doesn’t hurt WHEN I run so there’s that. It feels like a knot in the top of my calf which sometimes runs up behind my knee and into my hamstring. Why would I sign up for something so scary when I have this to deal with?!?! Honestly I think if I was 100% I would have already registered.
I have until August when prices go up (unless they reach capacity) to decide.
The race – Farmdale Trail Run have you done any running here? How was it?
What got you to register for a race you were afraid of?
Quick reminder – our next FUN RUN is Saturday, March 29th 9am – Groppis in Bay View! DETAILS
Tighten Those Laces! LET’S RUN!!!
If you are a runner you have probably been asked what got you started. Every time I am asked the answer is the same – a bet. This answer is true but it is not the whole story. I would have never been fit enough or even probably made the bet without my membership to the YMCA of Central Waukesha County. Before belonging the Y I had never had a gym membership.
Having a gym membership was not on my list of things I ever wanted to do and to be honest getting fit was not my top priority 6 years ago. It became my priority only after I got my Y membership. Most people get their motivation at this point because they are paying for the membership so they better use it. Mine came out of the courage it took for me to get the membership, not my courage, my wife’s.
I don’t talk much about my personal life here because it’s not relative. You probably know I have kids and MAYBE that they are adopted but unless you’ve been to a group run, we are friends on Facebook or you done some online stalking (don’t tell me about that one) you likely haven’t heard about my wife. It’s not a huge deal to me (besides that she is the most amazingly supportive person about my running). Honestly at this point in my life being a runner and craft beer lover are stronger parts of my identity then being a women married (no not legally) to another women. Maybe that comes with being with the same person for almost 9 years or maybe it comes with finding new kick ass communities to be a part of.
My wife is a pretty private person when it comes to professional settings. It’s not that she was not “out” at work 6 years ago it’s just she didn’t see it as relative information to complete her job and it is not. At the Y full time employees and their families get complementary memberships. Though in order for me to get said membership they Y had to know who I was and how I was connected there so essentially my wife had to “come out” to various people. I don’t remember if I asked about getting a membership or she did it on her own but I was excited to be getting one. After I became a member and went and got my (terrible) picture taken I thought I BETTER use this thing so it was worth it and I did. I starting using the weight machines (which I no longer touch), riding the bikes and using the elliptical. THEN I got on a treadmill THEN I ran a 5K THEN I fell in love with running BECAUSE of the love of my wife who has a great job at a great place. So the REAL reason I started running was because of the YMCA of Centeral Waukesha County!
Not only did they get me running The YMCA of Central Waukesha County has become an important part of my family! I workout there, my kids have grown up there, go to school there and take classes. Employees know me by name and always greet me with smiles. It is pretty much my family’s second home. So it is time to give back.
On February 22nd the Y is hosting their annual “Ride Around The Clock”. I will be riding on team “Spoke ‘N Hot” at least 2 hours but probably more and probably in the middle of the night. The ride and the funds raised go to the Ys Annual Support Campaign. From the Y: There’s no place quite like the Y. We’re a vital part of Waukesha; a welcoming place to learn new skills, connect with others and access support in times of need. Our unique combination of services enriches the well-being of people of all ages and walks of life. As a nonprofit organization, we never turn away anyone who needs us. We need your financial support to continue to keep that promise.
Please consider donating to MY support team in honor of YOUR support team by clicking here: https://www.crowdtilt.com/campaigns/ride-around-the-clock
***NOTE: I AM NOT a blogger who has been compensated for blogging about the YMCA. That marketing program is through the Metro Milwaukee YMCA. My YMCA is NOT affiliated with the Metro Milwaukee YMCA and did not compensate me in any way for this post!
As the 2013 Lakefront Marathon approached I was half sure it would be my first DNS. The pain I had been dealing with in late summer seemed to be returning and I had been coughing for the last week. Even with all these doubts I brought my son to the Kern Center on Saturday, picked up my packet, talked to a couple We Run This ladies and patted myself on the back for leaving without buying anything. PRO TIP: Bring a 4 year old to the expo you won’t have time to buy anything!!
I had stayed at my in-laws in Belgium, WI (20 min North of Grafton/Start line) Saturday night because my Mother In Law was kind enough to agree to bring my kids BY HERSELF to catch me as much as possible during the race. The second I put on my shoe in their kitchen Sunday something felt “off” when I toed off. A few strides in the driveway and it still felt weird. My only other shoe option was the 2 year old 500 miles on them shoes I keep in my trunk…. Just, NO! So I headed to Grafton High School to do this thing. I saw Sun from Keep Running MKE and HAD to say hi awkwardly since she was awesome enough to feature me AND is an all-around kick ass female MKE runner! I looked for a couple of other people I knew were running but didn’t find anyone. I DID find a guy I have known for about 13 years who I haven’t seen in at least 7 and had no idea he was running with his husband!
START – Concordia (Mile 7-8)
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it was in the back of my mind that I COULD DNF at any time if I wanted. This WAS “only” a training run. I had a score to settle with this course after my pretty rough run last year but it wasn’t worth sacrificing my main goal race, my first 50K. I wore a headband to warm my ears for the first ½ mile but warmed up quickly so it worked well to wrap around my watch to make sure I’d run by feel. Though every so often I’d see the time at a mile marker (EVERY MILE because Lakefront ROCKS) and think “too fast”. Lakefront is a great course, a course I would run on my own. Some people feel the “lack” of spectator support is hard but as someone who generally runs alone with no music I am use to having to motivate myself. This year it seemed like there WERE a good number of people out, including the famous accordion player around mile 3.5. Concordia University is where the bulk of spectating happens in the first ½ and mile 7-8 would be my fastest at 10:15. It was great to see @msindigo who had written my name on a sign!
Mile 8 – 13.1
Right after Concordia I saw my family for the first time. I stopped to hug my kids and my son cried and declared he wanted to come with me. It was cute and sad. Someday I hope he is with me at mile 9 of a marathon! I was really anxious to get to the 13.1 mark. I don’t know why but mentally it just needed to get here. Thankfully the miles seemed to be flying and I kept thinking I was a mile behind so there were many nice surprises of being further than expected. I crossed the mat in about 2:20 and had accidentally caught up with the 4:40 pace group by now. They would walk through water stops and drop back but I would hear them creep up after. I carried my Nathan hydro pack to practice wearing it that long for the goal race so I didn’t stop much. I, personally, get kind of annoyed by pace groups. I like to run my own race and it messes with my mental game to see them/get eaten alive by them. That being said I know they are a life saver for some so it is not that I am against them. I am excited though that the spring 26.2 I am considering does not use them.
13.1 – 17
I was still feeling really good past the 13.1 mark but had to use the bathroom pretty badly. (GUYS MAY WANT TO SKIP TO MILE 17-20) Not only to pee but I had some feminine issues that were starting to feel like chaffing was starting, oh HECK NO! So I finally found a port-o-potty around mile 17 with no line and took care of all my business not really caring I discarded my tampon because I had on black shorts.
Mile 17 – 21
I started to slow for the first time in the race here. I don’t know if it was the stop and go, that my longest road run had been 18 miles (followed by a 10 mile trail run the next day) or what but I know it wasn’t my fueling. I had a plan, stuck to it and never got hungry (it is trouble when I get hungry). The BIG lesson I learned in this spot of the race was how to handle a low point. Even with the slowing pace I recognized I was fading, dealt with it and did NOT let it discourage me. I just kept moving forward. Around mile 21 I tried to eat my last gel and it was not happening. I got down about half of it and for the first time ever could not finish it.
Mile 21 – 24
I knew the BIG downhill was coming. I knew I was a better downhill runner this year. Still moving about a minute slower than my first half I had begun to calculate that I had REALLY only trained for 8 weeks at this point so I was proud/happy to be where I was when I was and started to think of all the people who did not get the chance to even toe the starting line. Aches and pains and a slower last 10k didn’t matter. I was here, running, smiling, talking to who I could and trying to take in every moment for those who could not. I really hope this positivity can translate to 50K day.
This is when you actually feel that downhill as the course flattens out. I did all I could to keep running but I did take a few walk breaks. I LOVE running by Northpoint Snack Shop because I volunteered there in 2011 and that is when I decided to try this crazy thing! Each mile got faster than the last as the crowd came into view. I was right around the 4:50 pacer but she seemed to be all alone so I had no idea if she was on pace or not. By mile 25 I gave in and uncovered my Garmin for good. As I made my way into Veteran’s Park all I could do was smile I saw my family one last time and gave high fives down the finish chute! I had made it there from Grafton 23 TWENTY-THREE MINUTES faster than in 2012! Without marathon specific training, by running by feel and wen a week earlier I wasn’t sure I was going to start!!
I was walked by my friendly local medical student to get my space blanket and food bag, I assured him I was fine and he pretty much told me to “keep walking”. The free noodles sounded SO good when I heard about it but the smell made me feel a little sick in the moment. I knew I wanted beer so I made a B-line for the free Milwaukee Brewing Company brews and text my mother in law. As I waited to hear from her I set my stuff down on a picnic table to take off my shoes and couldn’t help but cry at what had just happened. All the sudden it was really real. It was part pride and part “oh crap” because what if I just derailed my 50K training (I don’t think I did because I pulled a solid 18 mile trail run/10 mile road the next weekend). Once I found my family it didn’t matter! The finish party was awesome this year. A great atmosphere and a nice day. I pulled on my compression socks and sandals (fashion!) and we stuck around for a while.
I love this race and will do it again and probably again. I have no 2014 race plans yet except, of course, Ragnar Chicago another race I love and am excited to run as an ambassador this year! Depending how Saturday’s 50K and subsequent recovery goes I would love to see what I can do in a marathon I train for again and have talked to a few community women about targeting the Wisconsin Marathon as a group! I will keep you updated. For now…
Tighten those laces, let’s RUN!!!!!
Registration for Ragnar Chicago opened last week and many other Ragnars are open or about to and you REALLY want to run. The only problem is you don’t know anyone who needs a team member. Why not start your own team!!! Don’t worry it’s not as scary as it sounds and we are here to help. This step by step guide will give you the skills and tools to recruit, engage, and get your team ready to run! The following strategies have been proven successful for captaining both a 12 and 6 person team.
Watch for part II where we will highlight the actual running of the race.
1)Start talking about Ragnar RIGHT NOW! Talk to anyone who will listen because you never know who would be interested. Get yourself educated on your race by reviewing the race specific page at http://www.ragnarrelay.com
2)Start posting on your social media about Ragnar RIGHT NOW! Be creative and post videos/blogs. Feel free to share the video of team We Run This and our ULTRA journey in 2013 or find videos for your specific race by going to the Ragnar Relay YouTube page. If the video evokes emotion in you it will likely get people’s interest. Encourage your friends to share your posts to find runners outside your circle.
3)Encourage people to join you but be straight forward about expectations. How will you handle drop outs? (see below) How much communication do you except? How much participation/special projects will be involved?
4)Do not let people think they are on your team until you have cash (check) in hand!!! You can invite as many people as you want to your group/e-mail list but only invite PAID runners to the official Ragnar team site! As a captain you will register and therefor have sole financial responsibility of the team. I encourage people not to be scared of this go ahead and register before you have a full team. If it makes you feel better to have some of the money to pay back to your credit card/savings wait until you have a few payments.
Once you find a team – keeping them on track!</p>
We can all agree runners are a … unique… group. Now you have 11 or 5 of them to “manage”.
1)Start a Facebook or similar group where everyone can get/share information.
2)Be straight forward about expectations again in your first couple of correspondences
3)Ask about fitness, experience and how they expect to train and encourage people to be HONEST with you and themselves.
4)Tell everyone they need to communicate any concerns, injuries, etc with you ASAP. The sooner you know you need to replace a runner the easier it will be to find one.
5)Keep your team engaged: posted motivational videos, quotes, pictures. Share your ups and downs in training and others will follow suit.
6)Stay engaged! You will likely be forming a team 6 months or more before race day so make sure your enthusiasm holds strong by scheduling group runs with all/some of the team and hosting team meetings (see below) 2-3 times before the race.
1)Plan to hold 2-3 team “meetings”. These meetings can be in person but they do not HAVE to! If you are using a Facebook group you can chat on Facebook. If everyone has the technology you can use google+ Hangout or another video chat site. If this is not your forte it is likely someone on the team knows about or has a kid that knows about technology.
2)The first meeting (about 5 months out) – BASICS – Get to know one another, review runner distances and start to place people so they know what they are training for (NOTE: Distances can always change, be prepared to run a little more than the assigned distance just in case), VOLUNTEERS – talk about recruitment NOW! If you need more runners talk recruitment of them now as well. Do you want team shirts? Who can/will design/be in charge? Does anyone have a suitable vehicle to use? What kind of vehicle to rent/where from? Does someone have connections for a discount? Make reservations sooner than later! PRO TIP: If you can DO NOT rent at an airport location there is usually extra taxes!
3)The second meeting (2 months out) – Do you still need volunteers? Runners? This is the meeting to really start talking logistics. Make a plan to secure a vehicle. If you want to and haven’t you will need to order shirts ASAP. PRO TIP: It is usually cheaper to go with a local printing company than an online source. Are you staying in the start city the night before? Where? Who can car pool? Are you staying in your end city? Where? What if some of the team wants to stay and others do not? Who will bring what? See our tips for packing for Ragnar here! Remind runners to stick with training but take it easy the week before the race. Plan last meeting to tie up loose ends if applicable.
4)It can be fun to plan social meetings if some of you are in the same town(s). As the captain if it is possible you should plan to travel to another town to meet your teammates. If you all don’t meet pre-race it is no big deal you will become fast friends during the race.
Dealing with drop outs
If you have made your expectations clear throughout recruitment, in theory, this should be easy. You have two options when it comes to a drop out 1- replace the runner 2- do not replace them and have someone or multiple people pick up the distance. Many captains hold strong that once you pay it is NON-REFUNDABLE unless the exiting runner finds a paying replacement. You can decide if you want to refund all/some of the funds if the team has to find the replacements. Some teams split estimated race day(s) costs (food, gas, hotel) beforehand and will have to decide about refunding that or not. I have never done expenses this way. I have always had these paid after.
That about sums it up! You are now ready to choose your own Ragnar adventure at www.ragnarrelay.com make 5 – 11 new friends and have the experience of a life time!
Still have questions? Contact Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tighten Those Laces! Lets RUN!!
I’ve been on the sidelines pool running, strength training and biking (more on that here) for about 4 weeks now. I have been trying to keep a positive outlook and develop a “plan B” in the worst case scenario that I can not complete my running goals this year. A received a free sports injury evaluation at Aurora Sports Medicine (a service they provide to anyone that qualifies) and was told I can do anything but run for 2 more weeks (I had been resting 2 weeks already) DONE! I did all the above stuff instead to stay in a shape rather than out of and probably spent more time working out then if I would have just run the miles my plan told me to.
Sunday was set to be the We Run This Trail run and with low registration I wasn’t sure if anyone would show…. and they did not! It was a stretch to hold it on a Sunday morning but it was the only day I could find in August that worked for my family! I bet you all REALLY want to come to our NEXT run with Three Cellars beer and wine lounge though?!?!?!
Since no one showed for the run I decided to go explore new trails and see how my leg would hold up. My friend Troy (@Midwestphoto) had told me there were some trails by my house in Whitnall park so I went that way. Found the trails but ALSO found the Wisconsin Trail Run series as well. I had seen this race was going on a while back but completely forgot about it. I stayed off the course as much as possible and also looped back to my car every 1.5 miles or so in case my leg gave out.
I was having a good time just exploring. Cheering people on and having the occasional runner or volunteer tell me I was going the wrong way. Elevation gains aside (550ft) I could tell I have been out of running but it doesn't feel impossible to get back to where I was. I'm looking forward to doing more training and seeing more of the park in the coming months.
Things got really crowded when the mountain bike races started so I got outta there after 7.6 miles (OK not the smartest come back run but my leg didn’t give me ANY trouble) I did 2 more miles on the road and called it a day.
This morning I did 4 “shake out” miles and got SMOKED by a lady wearing a Madison Mini shirt, which was only Saturday. I walked another .75 and got heckled my some ladies I’m pretty sure had been sitting on their porch drinking all night.
Today I feel like I ran a 1/2 at PR pace, I’m hungry, tired and my glutes and quads KILL!! EVERY second was worth it. Did/does it have the possibility of derailing my recovery…yes. Did I WANT this run for my sainity…yes. It felt good to earn my beer and I celebrated with a Surly Coffee Bender smuggled into WI by my BRF.
In other news I applied to be a Ragnar Relay ambassador last week and had a great time coming up with THIS VIDEO to include as a unique, look at me, I REALLY want to do this element. Do you think it worked?!?! We find out Friday!
Tighten those laces, LETS RUN!!!
As I’ve both alluded too as well as flat-out said there is no way around it I am INJURED! I have been having a sharp, centralized pain in my lower leg for just about 2 weeks. I have pretty
awesome high cost small non-profit insurance so I really can not afford to go to the doctor and get a bunch of tests done. Though I am getting a FREE injury eval tomorrow. I talked to a lot of people about my situation who deal with lower leg injuries and done my fair share of internet searches (I recommend NEITHER as a REAL solution but it’s what I have) and have been told/convinced to boot the thing, rest, ice, compress, blah blah blah. I have also been convinced pool running would be a great way to stay in shape for some races I have coming up…. Like the MARATHON I’m suppose to run in, ohhh 2 MONTHS! and the 50K 20 days after!
So pool running, strength training, yoga and biking it is!
After some research and youtube video tutorials I was all set to get in the pool and possibly make a fool of myself. The Y by my house has “aqua jogging” belts anyone can use so after work yesterday I braved the waters and did 2o minutes of pool running (I had 2 miles on my plan). As I strapped on my belt (feeling like I should be going to water aerobics) I desperately searched for a lane that wasn’t marked “class” by a cone or too busy. I spotted one with just one person slowly moving in it so I picked that lane and the women proceeded to leave as I entered (SCORE! LANE TO MYSELF). The orignal plan was to stay in place but that quickly went out the window as I worked on my form. Stay upright they say, high knees they say, go through the FULL running motion (not just marching) they say. Turns out doing ALL that at once is actually really HARD! I spent most of the 20 minutes saying out loud “right, left, right, left” because I noticed if I didn’t I was favoring my right side. I probably gave the teenage lifeguards a good show! I will be back tomorrow for 40 minutes if anyone needs a good laugh! Finished up with 10 mins of laps and realized the pool is NASTY DIRTY! Would bother me more if possible open water swims are in my future.
I’ll let you know what the deal is after the sports injury assessment. Injury aside the FREE Trail Fun Run is ON for NEXT SUNDAY morning sign up now: http://wrttrailrun.eventbrite.com/
Tighten those laces,
lets YOU run!
As soon as I crossed the finish line at Ragnar Chicago in 2012 I KNEW I would be back. After suffering the heat and chaos of a captaining a 12 person team I also knew in 2013 I would put together a 6 person team and call it a day! So I did what any reasonable runner would do and
hired a coach with experience searched the internet for training plans. Though I couldn’t find a Ragnar Ultra specific training plan I did find multiple blogs that suggested one should be in “marathon shape” so I figured I would follow a marathon training plan with some modifications. Since I already had the book “Train Like A Mother” I thought I’d try their “own it” plan. I WILL NOT be re-hashing that plan here. The authors deserve your money so if you are interested in it PLEASE go buy the book. Since I revamped the schedule some and had a few “hiccups” in training you will have to fill in yourself I WILL show you what I did based on my Garmin data (I am also putting myself out there and leaving all the paces, I NEVER claimed to be the fastest). I would also like to mention I am NOT a certified coach/trainer so if you choose to follow any of these suggestions you are doing so at your own risk.
For a video recap of our Ultra adventure head over to Youtube
Training started February 2nd 2013.
Outside of running all these miles I also generally took Monday and Wednesday to strength train. I used a new online library of workouts at www.streamfit.com mainly because it was founded by a local guy and it gives you the option to customize your workouts.
The other important thing to consider when training for Ragnar Ultra is nutrition. I ate the most of anyone on our team and that left me with the most energy and motivation throughout the journey. Even with only sleeping 1.5 hours.
Pre-Run: Start practicing this RIGHT AWAY. Find out how long before a run you need to eat and what works for you. Choose easily packable/storable foods that give you both carbs and protein. There is NO “right” formula for this just trial and error. If you ALWAYS need coffee/caffeine before a run try to ween yourself from that pre race just in case there is nothing available.
On the run: Practice eating!!! Gels, gummies, pretzels, orange slices, anything. I suggest have 2-3 fuel sources that work for you as you may get tired of using the same one for all 3 legs or one might just seem more appealing at 4am. I found it very helpful during Ragnar to “over eat” on the runs. For example I usually eat about 200 calories on a 10 mile run. Near the end of training I started loading it to 300 – 400 to get my body use to it and also used this plan race day(s). I found over loading just a bit and near the end of each leg to help when I didn’t feel like I could eat right away. It gave me a bit of a window before my system was too depleted.
After the run: : Practice with different recovery drinks find one you could get down even with a bit of stomach distress. Many people experience a bit of nausea when they are sleep deprived. Also make sure it is something portable/storable. During training I pretty much stuck with my Post Long Run beer but since there is NO drinking allowed on the course I used GU Recovery Brew. To be honest I had used it before but NOT in this training cycle so I got lucky it didn’t back fire.
In between the runs: This is hard to practice. Even on days when you do your back to back runs you will still be living your “normal” life with access to “regular” food. Try for at least 2 of those sessions to eat less than you normally would and eat foods you think you will be bringing. The food that CHANGED MY LIFE during the race was turkey on wheat bread. If your stomach can handle it I suggest running pretty soon after a meal as well just incase you forget to eat/ are using that time to sleep and you get stuck trying to get loaded right before a leg. Also try using Imodium or Pepto Bismol a couple of times to see how your body reacts. There was not a single person on our team that did not experience some stomach “issues” these things were a game changer!
Be prepared to do A LOT of laundry and try many different top/bottom combos because you never know what the weather will be so you are going to want many options that have been tested on 10+ mile training runs.
As you see above I did not do any 3x runs. I did a few when I trained for Ragnar as a 12 person but this training cycle I found myself REALLY pressed for finding that “extra” time also you are TRAINING you don’t want to beat your body TOO badly. I found doing a few of the 16-19 mile runs at a faster pace really simulated the pounding I felt in my quads on my last leg.
When possible run at ALL times of the day. Especially if you are nervous about a 3am run start. Find a buddy and find a time to run then. Get to know what the sky looks like, what animal noises are around and get use to the silence (I strongly suggest running your night leg sans headphones, it is a wonderful time to reflect, regroup and visualize your strong finish)
Other Ragnar Ultra runners: any other training suggestions?
Tighten those laces. Lets RUN!!!