Wednesday, February 26, 2014

RACE REPORT: Colchester Half Marathon [2014]

February 22nd, 2014

This race is awesome!  ...enough said.

After last year's race, I knew this amazing local half would make it onto the 2014 calendar without much of a struggle.  There was, however, an approximate 16% increase in the registration fee which emptied my pockets of a whopping $14.  Haha.  Yeah!  $14 for a half marathon with three water/gatorade stops, pre and post-race massage, post-race food, and free showers.  Ok, you don't get a medal, but for $14, you can't complain about that!

Last year, I did this race as a last ditch effort to get SOME type of run in on my birthday since the marathon I had trained for was on the fence due to weather.  This year, the weather was gorgeous!; a nice sunny mid-30s day.  The intermittent breeze would be a bit chilly, but couldn't dampen the day.

As evidenced on Friday, my coach and I had been debating the idea of racing.  The race was by no means an A-race.  It was more like a C/D; just an early season test of where I was at in my running.  The problem was, I had a sore throat all last week and my resting HR was already up 16 bpm.  Do I take the risk of making myself sicker and race or play it safe and leave the test for next month's half?

If you haven't guessed already...
...this is a RACE REPORT.
Of course I ran!

The race starts at 10am, so even the lazy runners have plenty of time to get up, get breakfast, and make it to the start line before the gun goes off.  I went to bed early the night before (10p), so I was up around 6:30a.  After some tea and breakfast, my throat was feeling okay.  It wasn't great, but I felt it could endure a half marathon.  I checked one last time with my coach and we were Green Light Go!

I arrived at the school that served as our race site about 9:15a, got my bib, used the bathroom, and spent 20 minutes debating over my outfit.  I know what to wear below 30.  I know what to wear at 50 or above.  It's the 30-50 range that becomes questionable.  In the end (as you can see below), I was happy with what I chose.

Yes, that is a party hat on top of my running hat, on top of my headband.  Below 50, I keep my ears covered!  The running hat may have been unnecessary, but it all worked in the end.  And you can't run a birthday race without a birthday hat!

A friend of mine came to see the race and was able to snap a few photos.

Thanks Katie for the race photography!

Once I had on my ensemble (that sounds like a Disney race with a costume!), Katie and I made our way up to the road which was the starting line. 

There were a total of 530 finishers.  For a local race, this was a great turn out; thanks in no small part to the great weather I'm sure.  But it goes to show how much locals will support a reasonably priced and very well run race!

Ok, onto the race!

I started maybe ten people deep at the start.  I wasn't looking for a PR and knew my body wouldn't give it to me if I tried, so I kept back where I knew I wouldn't be pulled along.  My goal, which I repeated to myself in that first mile, was to take the first mile out easy and find my groove.  After that, I wanted to stay relaxed through the half way mark.  If I felt good, then I'd try to negatively split it by either A) picking up the pace from the half way point on, B) kick in the final 5k, or C) a mix of both.

Last year, while better trained and holding back, I ran a very even 1:44:24.  Given that I was sick, not as well trained, and that is was still early in my training, I thought a 1:40 (7:38/mile) was reasonable, but a 1:35 (7:15) would be my ideal.  I wasn't too optimistic though and set my goal for a 1:40. 

Just before the start, I had taken everything except Elapsed Time and Distance off my my GPS.  I was sick, so my HR was bound to be high.  And with a higher HR, my pace may be slower to balance out my "intensity."  I didn't want to worry about it; I was going to run on feel.  I did, however, have a notice every mile for the 1.0 mile lap time.  

Mile 1 - 6:38
Ummm...  WHAT?

From training, I had expected a rough 155-165 HR and a 7:00-7:30 pace.  Based on how I felt, I was going to guess 7:15 and 155-160.  Apparently my body had opted for a bit faster than that.  I pulled back a bit on the pace hoping to not blow myself out, but after some time decided to simply sit in this groove as long as it felt comfortable.

Mile 2 - 6:48
Ok, a little better.

Mile 3 - 7:05
There we go!

Mile 4 - 6:44
Oh!  Well, I guess that's just today's fate.  Let's go with it!

I'd be lying if I wasn't already starting to wonder how long my body could hold out at this intensity.  I wasn't breathing heavy, I didn't feel like I was overexerting, but I did feel like my legs were a bit sluggish, maybe "not firing on all cylinders" would be the best analysis.  With my lack of running and being sick, I had a doubt in the back of my head how the later miles were going to go.  At this point, I started taking in what nutrition I could.  I had Skratch with me in my handheld and a couple gels with me.  I was going to keep going and stick to the intensity as best I could. 

Mile 5 - 6:50
Still clicking away!

Mile 6 - 6:56
Slowing down a bit

Mile 7 - 7:32
Hello Hill!!  ...and sloshy, sandy, dirt road.

As you well know by now, my favorite running shoes have drain holes in the bottom.  The wet dirt roads were fun as you can imagine!  Either way, I darted around the bigger puddles and slowly made my way up the hill.  There were a couple people - one guy, one girl - that I was playing leap frog with at this point.  I would pass them on flats or downhills and they'd pass me on the uphill.  I am not an uphill runner. 

Mile 8 - 7:30
The hill is done.  Maybe I'm slowing down.

Mile 9 - 7:14
I'm not slowing down THAT much.

Mile 10 - 6:53
Definitely not slowing.

I spent mile 8-10 trying to calculate my finish time.  If I maintained what I thought was my average, what would I have?  But I might be slowing down.  If I slow to 7:15s, what will my time be?  Then I realized that I might really have a shot at 1:35.  So I started trying to figure out what my pace would need to be.  At some point, I realized that I would simply need to hold 7:30s and I'd be golden for a 1:35.  But I kept going under.  Hmmmm...

Oh, and mile 10 was another wet, sandy, mud road.  Yay!!  Once I hit the 10 mile mark, all I had left was a 5k, so I started to push the effort a little more.

Mile 11 - 7:12
Just two to go!  Two to go!

Mile 12 - 7:26
Don't blow up and you will be under 1:35!

Mile 13 - 7:31
My body is going to be sore tomorrow!

Mile 13.1 - 1:28 (7:21 pace)

Katie, the friend who had come to see the race, had not popped up anywhere in the race.  I knew as soon as I hit mile 8 that she had gotten lost or stuck and I wouldn't see her until the finish.  Haha  It made me laugh for a couple miles.  But just as I crested the final hill and saw the turn into the school, I saw her and tried to flash a smile for the camera.

FINISH = 1:33:47
7:10 pace

I was sick.  I had been on rest for 4 days.  I had not done any of the speed work or intervals that I built my running schedule on in 2013.  And I was barely a month into my training season.  Yet, I managed to run within 7 minutes of my PR.  I have two more half marathons before my triathlon season starts and I'm starting to get an itch for an early season PR.  haha

Now, if you're like me, you're curious where my HR ended up being since I didn't have it displayed on my GPS.  My Zone 1 runs are usually around 148-152 & sub-8:00.  The Raffle Run was 7:04/mile and averaged 165 bpm.  I expected a HR between those; maybe 160?  Then I got sick and all guesses aside from "higher" went out the window.  Once I got home and uploaded the data, I was surprised to find an average of 171.  WHAT?!  That's only 1 bpm below my Tradition Run 5k.  I guess THAT is how much being sick affects you. 


1.  Have you ever run a race while sick?
My first Ironman was done on the tail end of a cold.  Seems to be a pattern here.  

2.  When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised by your race results?
This race was a big shock.  The JFK50 in November was my last big surprise. 

3.  Do you run with all your data at hand, or do you "run blind"?
I like the idea of running by feel, but I will be racing with data once I'm better in order to help pace myself and feel out my efforts for longer races.  


Friday, February 21, 2014

To Race or Not To Race

As I sit here in my room, I am struck by the question that all athletes face at one point or another...

To Race Or Not To Race

Do I bag this race in order to preserve my training and the bigger picture or do I go for it and take the risk?

The stakes...

FOR:  The Colchester Half Marathon tomorrow, race #4 for the season, a test of where I'm at in training, and cross check of my run HR zones.
AGAINST:  I've had a sore throat (cold) sine Monday night. 

To Race...

If you've followed me for awhile, you may remember this race from last year.  I decided last minute (the night before) to run this race last year and loved it so much that I slotted it in for this year as of last February.  It's not a glamorous race, there are no great sites, there's no bling or awards, and the course even makes use of a single car width dirt road that we had to battle traffic for space.  But the race director is a hoot!, I love to support well run local races, it's only $14, and has some of the best post-race food I've ever had at races (This post-race food beats every $350-700 Ironman race I've done). 

This race, while not ever meant to be a PR search, was slotted to test where I was in my training.  I had hoped to run a sub-1:40 which would be a solid half for me.  This race would also provide a cross check for my running HR zones.

NOT To Race...

Since late Monday, I've had a dryness turn sore throat.  I haven't trained since Monday in order to try and bust up the cold.  The symptoms have stayed in my throat, but my resting HR has spiked 16 bpm and I can't say I'm feeling race ready.  Having taken 4 days off of training already, the last thing I want to do is go run a cheap race that doesn't mean anything and blow another week of training.

The Final Tests...

After talking to coach, I am about to hop on the bike for 30 minutes to see how I feel.  If I feel crappy, I will not race.  If I feel good, then I will wait until tomorrow morning.  If I feel like shit tomorrow morning, then I will not race.  However, if I feel good on the bike AND feel okay tomorrow, then I am allowed to race.

Wish me luck!!

  1. Post-Bike.  The bike went well.  I did a 10 minute warm up and then a 1, 2, 3 minute Z1/Z2 ladder and I felt fine. 
  2. Evening.  I felt great!  Maybe it was the ride, the relaxation, or the giant plate of broccoli and asparagus.  Veggies for the win!!  We'll see how I feel tomorrow and go from there.
  3. Race Morning.  I didn't feel 100%, but I felt okay.  I figured I could make my way through a solid half without an issue during the race.
  4. The Race.  HOLY MOLY!  While my muscles might argue it didn't feel like a great race, I ran within 7 minutes of my PR.  Sick, no training for a week, complete lack of speed/interval work (much different than last year), and still very early in the season.  I was VERY happy with the outcome.


1.  Have you ever bagged / scraped / or withdrawn from a race?
I've scratched races off of my schedule, but I have never pulled out of one after paying for it.  

2.  What would you do?
I'm not looking for advice.  I have my tests and the final call in the morning, but I'm curious what others might do.  Do you love racing enough to risk it?, or do you train focused solely on the big race. 


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Does IRONMAN's new Pilot Transfer Program Stack Up to the Competition?

Ironman announced recently that they are instituting a pilot program for transfers for their North American full iron distance events.  The general overview is below.  You can find the full details HERE

"IRONMAN is piloting a new program to give IRONMAN athletes an additional option to the standard refund policy. Instead of taking the standard refund, athletes registered for select North American IRONMAN events now have the option to transfer their entry to another IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 event in North America with general entry slots still available. Athletes may move to a race sooner or later in the calendar year (dependent upon availability) and may move to another IRONMAN event or to an IRONMAN 70.3 event."
The tricky part is that not many people know what the "standard refund policy" is, let alone what the details of this new pilot program means.  I admit I was one of many who initially thought "Hey, cool!  That'll be a nice option."  Unfortunately, as I'm sure we will find out very soon, this program does not change much. 

First, let me go over some basics of this new program.  Keep in mind this does not alter the standard withdrawal policy which I will go over later.

  • The pilot program is limited to 140.6 events in North America (excluding Los Cabos & Cozumel)
  • You may transfer into another North American 140.6 or a list of eligible North American 70.3s, but there is no program for transferring out of a 70.3 event at this time.
  • This program is limited to the year in which your original event is scheduled.
  • There is a $50 transfer fee.
  • You must pay any difference in entry fees, but do not get a refund for a negative difference.  
  • The race you transfer into must have open slots.
  • The race you transfer into must have had public registration open for 10 days.  
  • It must be at least 45 days prior to the event you are transferring out of AND into.  
  • You may only transfer an entry once.  

Kelly, a good friend of mine over at Some Random Thursday, posted a very good analysis HERE of how useful the program might be.

Go read her analysis first. I'll wait.

Done?  Good!

She concluded that if you know early in the year that you will not be able to race, you have an approximate 50% chance of being able to transfer, however that is most likely into a 70.3 event.  If you wait or do not know until late, your chances drop very quickly as many of the desired races, or simply those within traveling distance, sell out. 

In the past, Kelly as well as a number of other friends have all "eaten" the registration and associated fees in the past due to WTC/Ironman's previous policies.  And as we all know Ironman is NOT CHEAP.  While the announcement of the pilot program will undoubtedly be greeted well at first, I think it is safe to say that once you dig into the details, and especially once people begin to use the program, we will find that it falls quite short of expectation.

Breaking away from Kelly's analysis, I want to help shed a light on what this new program does.  Kelly gave us a look at how useful it might be.  I'd like to look at how comparative it is.  How does WTC stack up to other major 140.6/70.3 distance companies?  I am going to compare the WTC's policies to Revolution 3, Challenge, and HITS

How does the Ironman Transfer/Withdrawal Policy stack up?

In order to do this systematically, let's review each of the three companies policies.

WTC / Ironman - Transfer PolicyWithdrawal Policy
  • All withdrawals or transfers must be done up to 45 days prior to the event (subject to availability). 
  • You may withdraw from any race for a $75 (70.3) or $150 (140.6) refund; roughly a 27-37% or 21-24% refund depending on the event. 
  • If it is an eligible North American140.6 event, you may transfer to another eligible North American 140.6 of 70.3 event for a $50 fee + entry fee difference. 

Revolution 3 - Transfer Policy & Defer Policy
  • You may transfer your entry to another athlete up to 30 days prior to the event for FREE.
  • You may defer your entry up to 60 days prior to the event and receive a 100% credit to the same event for the following year for FREE.
  • With a medical reason and doctors note received 30 days prior to the event, you may withdraw your entry for a full refund of your registration fee.
Challenge - Refund Policy
  • You may withdraw your entry up to 83 days (3 months, 5 days) prior to the event for a full refund minus a $75 admin fee (87% refund). 

HITS - Refund Policy
  • Each athlete is allowed a one time free transfer up to 15 days prior to an event and must be credited to another open HITS race within a 12-month period.

Now that we've got all of the policies laid out, let's go through a scenario.  As we get closer and closer to race day, what are our options depending on which company the race is with?  And how do the companies compare?

Ironman - $75/150 withdrawal refund or $50+ transfer
Rev3 - Defer to next year, transfer to another athlete, or full refund (Medical)
Challenge - Full refund minus $75 admin fee
HITS - Transfer to another race

Ironman - $75/150 withdrawal refund or $50+ transfer
Rev3 - Defer to next year, transfer to another athlete, or full refund (Medical)
Challenge - NOTHING
HITS - Transfer to another race

Ironman - $75/150 withdrawal refund or $50+ transfer
Rev3 - Transfer to another athlete, or full refund (Medical)
Challenge - NOTHING
HITS - Transfer to another race

Ironman - NOTHING
Rev3 - Transfer to another athlete, or full refund (Medical)
Challenge - NOTHING
HITS - Transfer to another race

Ironman - NOTHING
Challenge - NOTHING
HITS - Transfer to another race

Ironman - NOTHING
Challenge - NOTHING

The winner of this little scenario is ultimately up to you.  Your priorities, work schedule, and such may vary greatly from me, but I can't help but rank them for myself.

My order of most athlete-friendly policies...
Revolution 3
WTC / Ironman

With our training volume and hectic lives, something is bound to eventually come up; injury, appointments, kids, family, mechanical breakdown, etc..  As athletes, we want to compete and we hate losing that opportunity, not to mention the money we spent to do it. 

HITS allows you to transfer your entry even 15 days prior to the event, no questions asked, but it's an up-and-coming race series, so not many people are participating.  My two cents is that they put on a great race!

Rev3, a triathlete's household name, restricts you to 30 days prior to the event, but offers a full refund for a medical issue and the option to transfer.  I have personally seen many friends take advantage of the transfer.  That option, however, is dependent on whether you can find someone to transfer to.  Living within 40 minutes of the Rev3 Quassy course, my chances for THAT race are pretty high.

Challenge may have the most time restricted option, but they offer a very sizable refund. 

WTC / Ironman is the ultimate loser in my mind, even despite the new program.  Yes, Ironman gives me roughly 1.5 months of more coverage than Challenge, but offers a significantly lower refund for a withdrawal.  And as Kelly pointed out, the likelihood of being able to find an available race to transfer to that is suitable for travel is low.  Most of us plan our yearly race schedule WELL ahead of time and there isn't a huge amount of room for changes.

What is the take home message?

The new WTC / Ironman pilot program for event transfer may seem useful, but when you get down to it, it A) is not going to be useful for the vast majority of racers and B) does not compare well to the programs offered by other rival companies.

I must say that I commend WTC / Ironman for initiating the program and hope that it will be altered in the years to come in order to be more useful to athletes (namely the ability to transfer to another race WITHIN A 12 MONTH PERIOD).  However, given the stamp that Ironman has made in this sport, I don't presume that this will happen unless given adequate pressure from athletes (aka. people stop signing up and races start dwindling in attendance).  The fact is, Ironman full-distance races sell out more often than not.  One highly probably motivation behind this program is to funnel athletes from the sold out 140.6 races into the 70.3 races that do not sell out.
If you are unable to do a specific full, all the other fulls within traveling distance are sold out, and the withdrawal fee is miniscule, then you will most likely opt for a close by 70.3 event.  Plain and simple.  That is unless you purchased your Allianz insurance.  If you did, then Ironman gets your money anyways!  

What races are you doing this year?


1.  Have you ever used one of the withdrawal, transfer, or deferral programs?
I've never needed to use any of these programs.  Until this post, I was unaware of what the details of the various policies were. 

2.  Have you purchased the Allianz Insurance during registration?
I have not yet, but am more intrigued by it now that I have gone through the details and scenarios.  It seems like a very fair offer and quite a useful policy when something comes up. 

3.  What is your take on the new Ironman pilot program for North American full distance transfers?
I think in a few months, once athletes begin to make use of it and the details come to light, it will not seem as useful as it does.  I applaud the initiative, but am highly weary of the motivation behind it. 

4.  Have you chosen a race (or counted one out) based at all on the withdrawal or similar policy?


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Winter Storm Pax Adventure Run

It seems the Northeast is in no shortage of snow recently! 

We had snow on Thursday, snow on Saturday, and snow again on Tuesday.  Surprise, surprise...  It's WINTER in New England.  But along with winter comes lots of fun.  Okay, at least for me. 

On Thursday last week, I had a rest day on the schedule.  The thing is, I was also off of work due to the storm and I don't handle sitting still very well.  Thankfully, my coach swapped days and let me go frolic in the snow.  Here are some pictures I took of my 1 hour run. 

My Pearl Izumi Trail N1 shoes and thermal tights keeping me nice and warm!

The roads were rather slippery!

You can't close the gas station!!

With all the snowblowing, I couldn't tell what was a snow pile and what was flying snow from afar. 

Crazy people out on the highway! 

Well...  It was plowed from the last snow storm.  Now there's just another 6 inches of snow.

Proof I was there. 

You can't stop mail delivery!  I feel I need to note that I was too slow to get a pic of the Fed Ex truck which went by first.  So to be fair, they were ALL out there. 

This was the view from my balcony.  While most people looked outside and went straight back to bed, wrapping themselves in an extra blanket, I went straight to my computer to ask if I could go play. 

You know you grew up in Western Upstate NY when...


1. What do you think when you see snow?
Is it "snow day," "I wonder if I have enough milk/eggs," "what movie shall I watch first," or "time to go play!"?

2.  How have you faired weather wise?  Where are you at?


Tuesday, February 18, 2014


3rd Annual Raffle Run
Presented by...

February 15th, 2013

Every year, my triathlon club, HEAT, has what they call the Raffle Run.  The idea is that we all get together and bring a food item as a race entry.  Then we run around a half mile block as many times as we can in 40 minutes.  Every time we pass by the start line, we grab a raffle ticket.  Once we're done, we all go back inside and raffle off the sponsor goodies and food.  It's a lot of fun, even despite the snow and ice this year. 

Here were the goodies!

Here's the 2014 racers.  You know it's an awesome race when you can throw jokes around with all the racers you pass and that pass you.  Love this group!!

You can tell by the progression of pictures below that I kept warming up.  It was in the low thirties with a wind chill of around 24.  I might have even been able to run this with shorts!!  Shocker!


Thanks to Sonic Endurance and Ken Schulz for the pictures!

This is always a fun run to throw into the monotony of winter training.  Plus, I used it as a test for next weekend's Colchester Half Marathon.  That race is still a tune up; I don't expect much out of it.  However, it will be a test of where I'm at.  After the Raffle Run, I believe I have an intensity and race strategy picked out.  I'm super excited!


1.  What is the best race entry that you've ever had to pay?
This year, I brought a box of chocolates.  They ended up being regifted as a Valentine's Day gift.  I'm okay with that!  haha

2.  Do you do any fun races to break up the monotony of your training?
I do half marys in the spring and sprint tris during the summer.  Once I hit fall, I am more into relaxing and getting in my training for the road races coming up.


Monday, February 17, 2014

It Must Have Been A Recovery Week

As of today, I'm looking back at the past week and am amazed at how productive I've been (for the household needs)...

Laundry is done

The bed is made

The fridge is stocked

I have the right side.

Meals are cooked ahead of time

Hearty Tomato Soup

Vegetable Stir Fry

Cauliflower Crust Veggie Pizza

Another Veggie & Tofu Stir Fry (Looks better than it tasted)
I found something I thought I had lost

Lost since January 13th. my jacket pocket!

I reclaimed my desk



And my taxes are done!

Woohoo!  Hopefully I don't have anything pressing for another 3-4 weeks.  haha


1.  What do you get done in a recovery week?  What really NEEDS to get done?

2.  How often do you take a recovery week?


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

2014 Food Log #1

Two or three times a year, I take a one week snapshot of my diet in order to ask a few things...

How many calories do I eat daily?  
How much protein, fat, and carbs do I eat?  
How does my current diet compare to what might be suggested? 

This helps me see where I'm at and compare to where I've been before.  This time around though, I fundamentally altered my diet by going vegetarian in September and I have a few new questions to ask.

How has becoming a vegetarian altered my caloric intake and macronutrient profile?
Have I drastically lowered my protein intake?
Has my attempt to lower my carb intake worked?

Since I logged my diet last, which was in March of 2013 (posted in April), I've come across a number of different views on the diet of an endurance athlete; high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat...  The only thing that most agree on is that protein is NOT the majority macronutrient.  I did, however, listen to a podcast from Endurance Planet that I have since lost place of that essentially said neither high nor low carb diets work well.  Instead, they pointed out that you have a specific amount of carbs that you need - call it X.  If you eat 2X, you're getting way too much.  But you also don't want to cut yourself short.  So they suggested cutting back slowly on carbs until you find a happy medium.  I started doing this subjectively (I wasn't actually counting the number of grams) and found that I did in fact feel better but maintained my performance.  So I've been sticking to "lowER" carbs as best I can.  

Without further ado, here is the data from my food log of January 22nd through 28th...

Before I start comparing numbers to March 2013, keep in mind that this food log is during the first week of triathlon training and I was nearly 3 months into training last year.  Based on that and my above stated diet changes, here is what I expected going in.

  • My average calorie count will be lower because I'm earlier in my season.
  • My carbs will be lower due to the point of season and my conscious avoidance of them. 
  • My protein consumption will be significantly lower due to the switch to vegetarianism.

  •  My average caloric intake is 3428; lower than the 3710 in March 2013.
  •  My fat consumption increased from 36 to 51%
  •  My protein consumption decreased from 20 to 16%.
  •  My carbohydrate consumption decreased from 52 to 37%.
  • ** As you may notice, those percentages add up to over 100%.  Most foods do not label insoluble fiber, which means that my Carbs are actually lower and my Fat & Protein are higher than the above stats. 

  • As predicted, my calorie count decreased from 2013, but you can't draw any major conclusions from that given the different points of the season.  I expect this to increase as the season progresses. 
  • I am surprised to see my fat consumption increase so drastically though it makes sense.  I was keeping my carbs lowER and my protein was most likely decreased from going vegetarian that the only macro left to balance out the calorie count would be fat.  I had not realized how much fat was in what I am eating.  However, while surprising, it does not bother me. 
  • I am a little surprised to find my protein consumption has not dropped more than it did.  This points out one of a few things...
    • I didn't consume that much animal protein prior to going vegetarian,
    • I've balanced out my protein with vegetarian options well, 
    • or the most likely, both.  
  • I am not surprised to see my carbohydrate consumption decreased.  However, I know moving forward, this may increase due to requirements for training.  

1.  Do you keep track of your diet?  If so, how?
Do you use an online tracker?

2.  Do you ascribe to a low carb, high carb, low fat, high fat, low protein, or high protein diet at all?
I am vegetarian, do my best to always eat whole foods and as little processed foods as possible, and I eat high carb foods (pasta, bread) very sparingly. 


Monday, February 10, 2014

Rebuttal to '10 Reasons NOT to Run an Ultramarathon'

Kristyn Bacon, a freelancer writer and ultramarathoner recently wrote an article for Trail Runner Magazine called "10 Reasons NOT to Run an Ultramarathon."  One of my clients passed it along to me with one question...

"How close is this to the truth?"

So...  As a one time ultramarathoner (the 2013 JFK50) who is looking to do 100 miles (maybe 2015?), here's are my thoughts...


Are those feet BURNT?  They look like Hobbit feet.  Was this from the Mordor Ultra??  (*pause while I Google search it*)  Ummm...  Hold your wizard staff!  They have T-Shirts for this race.  And it's apparently called The Walk Into Mordor: The Race for the Ring.  And this lady just started the 1,779 mile journey this past week!  Where do I sign up?!  I bet the finisher's medal is an inscribed ring.  Take THAT belt buckle!

1.  It’s dirty.
You have to use the bathroom in the trails or, if you’re unfortunate enough to do an ultra in the street, on the side of the road. Your Camelbak will never be clean, no matter what kind of bleach or organic cleaning product you use. You will eat with your hands. If it’s raining, your calves and butt will look exactly like the trail. Whatever color your shoes are now, forget it, because they’ll soon be brown.
Let's be real.  We do not go to the bathroom.  Ew!  That is a known fact.  And I don't know about anyone else, but I carry a full tea set, dining set, and umbrella with me.  Sometimes I'll even pack a blanket so I can make a picnic at each aid station.  Sure, it slows me down, but I refuse to eat with my hands.  No proper gentleman does that.  And my shoes started out brown, so the trails only help to add accent colors.
2.  Your feet will look like aliens.
No pedicure can save them. They will be calloused and blistered and your skin will never grow back the same way again. Your feet will swell and shrink. You will lose your toenails. First the pinky, and then, depending on the length of your race, every single one.
They make something for that.  It's called nail polish.  No one knows what color your nails are under that glistening layer of sparkles, let alone whether there is a nail under there or not.  
3. It’s expensive.
You’ll have to find a way to cover your grocery bill, which grows every time you move up to a new training bracket. You’ll have to buy a new wardrobe once your clothes stop fitting. You’ll need to buy rain gear and snow gear and first-aid kits, and then you have to pay for the race. You have to buy trail shoes. Then you have to buy new shoes after yours wear out.
No worries!  Now that I've discontinued my 5,000 channels of cable (who has time to watch tv with all this running?), skipped all of my dinner dates (how do you expect me to run tomorrow if I eat this non-organic slop??), and make all my food at home (because I don't trust anyone to use the right ingredients), I have more than enough money to balance out my new running gear addiction.  Plus, if you're a real runner, you don't need shoes!  Barefoot Hobbit!
4. You have to travel.
Where do you live?  There’s a better ultramarathon two hours away. If you don’t live near the mountains or the hills, there’s no option except in the next time zone. The race goes from the fifth to the sixth and then you have to drive and acclimate and meet new people. You have to take pictures. Sometimes you’ll have to learn a new language.  Then you have to run in a new language. Impossible.
Runner's have a universal language.  The raised right hand is "Thank you."  The thumbs up is "Good job" as well as "I'm good."   The raised left hand is "I'm slowing down or stopping."  The pat on the shoulder is "I've been there man!  Keep going!"  There is only one spoken word we need to know...  "LEFT!"  And the kids have always been begging for a vacation.  At least after you're done, you won't have to worry about them begging anymore.  "Who wants to go watch dad run again?!"   
5. Planning your social and running calendar becomes a science project.
It’s easier to get new friends who train, or just stop having friends.
Friends?  What are those?  Oh, you mean people who can keep up with me?  No, I don't have any of those.  They slow me down.
6. Explanations.
Nobody knows what an ultra is and then once they do know, they don’t understand why you’re doing it. They sometimes don’t know what kilometers are and then you have to convert. They’ve never seen a hydration pack before. You have to explain how to eat while running, and you must defend your food choices. They don’t know what calories mean in an ultra.
Eventually, the ego trip of describing what an ultra is and how cool you are for doing it wears off.  After the millionth question of "Don't you have to pee?," "What do you eat for that?," and "How many days is this over?," you begin to shorten your explanation to "Suffice it to say that I'm crazy and you're not about to come join me."  However, you say this secretly hoping that it sparks a challenge, spawning a new training partner.   
7. It’s unhealthy.
It is absolutely impossible and preposterous for someone to run 100 miles in a day without stopping. It has NEVER been done before. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You will be crippled. Ask your doctor. Your knees will lock up forever. The last step you ever take will be across the finish line and then you are DONE. People don’t even like driving 100 miles! Don’t do it. You’ll probably die.
You've become a whiz at Web MD because you don't want to hear your doctor tell you how badly you're treating your body or how many surgeries you're going to need by the time you hit 40.  They may label it as Ignorance Is Bliss, but you know its just their way of justifying that only 30 minutes on the elliptical without breaking a sweat is a "healthy workout."  Break a sweat dude!!   
8. It’s too hot.
It’s also too cold.  It’s also too windy and rainy and it might snow. Ice? It’s everywhere.  You’ll get a sunburn. Sometimes it hails here. What if it rains?
There is no such thing as bad weather, only weak runners.  BAM!  Plus, adverse weather patterns allow us to show off our incredible sense of style.  This week in runner's fashion - multiple layers of non-matching & bright neon colored clothing, garbage bag ponchos, sweat stained hats pulled so low you wonder how they can see in front of them, and the perpetual squint.  It's all the rage!
9. You will spend way too much time with yourself.You are not that interesting. You will probably be bored after two miles. The songs you have stuck in your head? You will hate them by the end of the race. There is no scenery to look at. The lakes that you pass will be ugly. The ocean is so loud. As for the mountains—you think you’ll have fun running for 17 hours in the mountains?  Anyway, you’re going to be in so much pain you won’t be able to think. Nobody is going to talk to you; after all, it’s a race.
It starts out with a thrill.  Thrill gives way to the question of "What did I get myself into?"  The answer never comes, but you eventually get lost in the monotony; not quite boredom, but certainly no more of that thrill.  At some point you hit a low and continue only by your basic survival instincts; fight or flight.  As long as another runner doesn't get attacked, you eventually get pulled out of your low and experience one of many highs during which absolutely EVERYTHING is interesting.  You start singing the most random songs - if they're even songs to begin with - and you are convinced that you should have a recording contract.  Shortly after, you decide to invent something that you're sure will make millions.  Then there's another low and everything from the cheering crowds to that stupid squirrel that you swear is following you is your mortal enemy.  Another high and your bounding excitement becomes visibly annoying to the other runners.  Another low; "The next person who passes me is never making it out of these woods!"  High; "La-la-la-la-laaaaa-la-ti-daaaa!!"  Low; "I'm never doing this again.  I'm quitting at the next aid station."  High; "I am never doing a puney marathon again!"  Low; "I want my mommy!"  ...and eventually those final miles come into view, snapping you back into reality.  Whether you're in a low or high, you know the end is near and you will be done with this roller coaster of an emotional endorphin ride.  As soon as you cross the finish line, you are either the most emotional teenage girl on her period or the picture of an emotionless serial killer.  Either way, all you want is food.  You don't even care that it's non-organic and will probably give you issues for a week.  And you're telling me THAT isn't interesting?!  Fine!  Go back to watching your reality tv! 
10. Somehow, you have to get in the best shape of your life.
You have to train in the morning and do your yoga at night and swim to keep your hips together and do push-ups. You have to run up stairs and up hills; you have to run them forwards and backwards to work all of your muscle groups. If you don’t have defined abs, you have to get them. At the end of the race when you’re skinnier and older, you won’t be able to walk and you’ll realize with mixed emotions that you’re in the worst shape of your life. Then you have to rest for days. Good luck.
Yeah...  Well...  Well....  I've got a medal / buckle / ring.  What do you have?  ...HA!  I win!


Kristyn, If I'm ever in Germany, count on me looking you up!  We should go for a bike ride or something.  You know, something actually sane.


Friday, February 7, 2014

History Will Repeat Itself

I will eventually learn that lesson!  

I recently purchased a pair of Pearl Izumi EM Trail N1 shoes for running through the winter.  As much as I love my PI Streak IIs, the holes through the bottom of the shoe let just as much snow/water up into the shoe as they do water out of it which usually leaves my feet soaked before I even get to the end of my driveway. 

The new Trail N1 shoes fit great.  They have much more grip than the Streak IIs, which work well on the snow, slush, or ice packed roads and sidewalks.  But they just are not my Streak IIs.  And that's a bigger problem than I thought. 

Remember how CT got hit with a snow storm the other day?  Yeah...?

As I was looking out the window at the driveway before I got dressed to run, I started thinking "Should I wear the Trail N1 shoes or can I pull out the Streak IIs?"  My mind was made up before I knew it.  I pulled out the Streak IIs.  It turns out the roads were quite a bit more wet than I had hoped.

WHY do I do these things?!?!

My feet were soaked and cold before I got half way down the driveway and kept getting more and more wet and cold as I ran.  Fortunately, my feet don't seem to mind it too much.  

In the end, I'm still too much in love with my Streak IIs.  The Trail N1s are just not the same!  I think they will work better as trail shoes for muddy run days, but I somewhat doubt that.  I'll probably run through the mud with  my Streak IIs anyways. 

My problem now is convincing myself to run in the Trail N1s.  I bought them, so I need to get use out of them.  I can't let them sit there and look pretty. 

Dear Pearl Izumi,

Please bring back the Streak II.  I have not found anything comparable for a replacement yet.  

~ Triathlete & Endurance Addict

1.  Do you have different shoes for spring, summer, fall, or winter?
I do now, but the lines are blurred.  

2.  Have you ever had a pair of shoes that didn't get as much use as the others over time?
I had not until this pair of Trail N1s.  


Thursday, February 6, 2014


As of yesterday, Moxie Multisport announced the members of their first ever national team. I am proud to be able to now say that I will be a part of the team. 

Moxie Multisport is a multisport group based out of Austin, TX which is also the "CREW" team for the Wattie Ink group.  This will be their first year with a national team.  With their close ties to the Wattie Ink team, the group sees a lot of one another and very often is interchangeable. 

What does this mean?

Well, I've got a ton of teammates to catch up with, cheer on, and be rooted on by this year.  It also means I'll be wearing the Team Moxie kit.  ...and from what friends on the Wattie Ink team tell me, we definitely have the better kits!  Booyah!!  haha 

When I have pictures of the kit, the team, and the associated adventures, I'll let you know.

Until then, get those training hours in!  I'm actually only writing this now because my Garmin needed to charge.  I had a low battery notice on the bike and need it to function when I go out to run.  hehe  Oh, how life is dictated by training.


1.  Have you ever raced for a team?  
In 2012, I raced for Newington Bike.  In 2013, I raced with a Cardio Express kit (my employer).  This will be the first official team I've raced for.

2.  Where is your favorite spot to cheer at a triathlon?
If there's a major hill, that's always a great spot.  Otherwise, I like being somewhere out on the run.  The bike goes by too quick to get anything but "good job!" out.  On the run, you can really see how everyone is doing, motivate them, and sometimes just get them going again.