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Sunday, June 25, 2017

BlackHills100 2017 DNF

Lately I don't know what kind of ultra runner I am. I have quit more races in 2017 than my entire running career leading up to that. I never want to be the type to quit. I never like to feel regret. Ever. Most of my life decisions, (no alcohol, healthy foods, whatever else) are grounded in a significant hate of the feeling of regret. I fought hard to finish many races in the past, Ive been able to work through so many different type of issues. This year however I have been unable to find the energy or the strength to work through them. 

I love ultra running & the community. I want to be in this sport long term. I love the feeling of ravaging through a tough goal or the feeling of a win at a race. But I feel I've hit a burnt out point from over racing. My mental game has suffered because of too many races and too many times having to run worried about performance. The more and more I race the less and less significant they become in my head. 

I've ran through black hills 100 over and over in my head. I don't even know where to begin. I love how I ran 0-45. I felt so connected with nature and in rhythm and tuned in. I felt so in love with the sport and felt so much energy from every volunteer and member of my crew. I was so excited to pick up my pacer & one of my all time favorite humans.  It all crashed down on me when my stomach locked up. I couldn't eat, I couldn't run without a burning pain and every time my heart rate went up for just a bit I would go into dry heaving. My race came to such a screeching halt. I tried for 15 miles to let it subside. 

I knew I didn't want to run like that for 40 more miles. 

I knew I didn't need to run like that for 40 more miles. 

This is what ran through my head out there as my headlamp shines a little light on the cold rocks that lie on the trail. 

You've been in the ER twice from running. You're a Dad and a son and a friend.  Why in the world would you even entertain to keep going?  This is miserable. Does a finish matter enough to be miserable for 10 more hours? can you just hike it out? Will you be proud when you finish 10 hours over your goal? Are you going to be one of those who misses there goal then quits the race? Are you going to be judged for this? Are you going to regret it? Have you fought hard enough to respect the fact that your amazing pacer came all the way here to run with you and spent all that time training and traveling? Is hiking for 10 hours going to make that any better? What do you need to prove to anyone? To yourself? 

I concluded to drop. I'm not strong and dedicated as most ultra runners. I feel that way now more than ever. I'm over here putting training on back burners to eating healthy and living a chill life and fitting in runs here and there.  I'm not super BA runner. Although I want to set running goals like Sub20 at BlackHills and train an amount that makes it possible for me but challenging for me. I want to go try it and see what I got. I want to run like that because I like that. I don't want to go out to ensure a finish, if it was my WS qualifier yes go out ensuring the finish but this was fun for me to run to what I felt I could do out there. And the fact I didn't hike it out make me less of an ultra runner that's ok with me. I feel bad for dropping. I feel bad for anyone who follows me and thinks I'm super strong because I'm not. I'm mediocre on my best days, over here mostly not working my ass off, walking my dog down the country roads instead of cramming in run after run and I don't know why. But I'm not out there stressing about it and I'm not stressing about BH anymore. I have my WS qualifier for the lottery in 4 weeks & I'll do that one in a way that hopefully I can get a finish. I'll enjoy the mountains and the ultra vibes.

I love this sport enough to take a break from it after that. 

Subnote:
My pacer & I are solid. 👊

Writing is healing. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Eat well, live well & then run long.

Eat well, live well & then run long.


My journey into a healthier lifestyle has been pretty typical in many ways. I started out overweight and found some success in running to lose some weight. I started eating just a little healthier and I was like ok this is working, cool. Let's run more and see what happens, and if I run more I can eat more of whatever I want, right? Ok this is working. I'm running 100 milers, going for 20+ mile training runs multiple times a week on minimal sleep, a non-consistent lifestyle routine & diet choices that were more based on convenience than on nutritional value. This worked for me for a few years of training and  ultra-running until I started to question if that path leads me to where I want to go, and is that journey the journey I want to be on, does it provide the most fulfilling life for me. 

Trying to answer those questions on morning hikes with Dexter lead me to some discoveries I had been avoiding and some changes that I am proud of. It should be noted that as a father first, I have an instinctual habit of putting Kiera first in all decisions of my day to day life. So, when I get into detail below about priorities her, family & work are left out because this is independent of those priorities and runs parallel to them. 

The answers to those questions had me spending some of the winter and early spring of 2017 testing different approaches and priority shifts. I feel like now I have developed enough of a list to write this post and explain how I came to it. See in my prior training for events I would put running on the top, if it interfered with sleep, diet choices or lifestyle routine & I would tell myself that was "OK" because I was training for big-bad ass things and I needed the work more than the others. Or that running was relieving stress & I needed to use it for that. Which is still the case some days but those are far less of late.

So through all the morning hikes listening to audiobooks, trials of different priorities & re-vamping of training & exercise regimens I've listed the 3 priority guidelines I’ve put in place as I develop & execute training for ultra’s.

#1 Diet. Will going for a run effect my ability to cook whole plant based foods to fuel my body? Will a run after work hinder going to the market to get fresh food, etc. Or do I have it already prepared ready to go? For me to settle on diet becoming the #1 thing was a big paradigm shift. But through my own personal growth I have found time & time again that a whole food plant based diet is key for me & aligns with where I am going & the journey I want to be on throughout life. 

#2 Lifestyle Routine. Will going for a run effect what time I get to bed tonight? will I get up super early and fit a run in?  I'm a mid-day runner normally but found myself stressing about trying to fit more miles in by going to bed later or getting up earlier, this is no more. I'm not saying the occasional late night or early morning runs are out completely. I still will go out and enjoy the stars on a nice night or the sunrise on a nice morning, but not at the expense of any stress about fitting in miles or not by breaking my day to day routine which I feel adds way more value to my days & life than a 6 miles jaunt at 11PM.

My morning is I get up at 6 and do 15-20 minutes of core strength & balance exercises. Then around 6:30 I take Dexter for about 15-20 minute walk down the gravel road & we talk out the day. When I get back I cook breakfast & cook & pack my lunch (sometimes dinner too) before getting ready and heading out for the day. So I ask myself will the run throw that off? that can then throw diet off, that can then send my whole week off, etc. So that is why Lifestyle Routine has taken the #2 slot.

#3 Body Signs. This one is quite simple & has been something I've always tried to do. Is my body welcoming a run? Are there any red flags that I'm overdoing it or is it simply saying no to the idea of a run? If so then maybe I do something different that brings me joy. This one has never been too much of an issue but every once in a while I would get so focused on a race that I would think I had to go out and do this or do that when in reality I didn’t. 

I have big goals on my plate. I want to run both the entire Arizona trail & the AT Trail one day. I want to run up as many 14er’s in Colorado that I can. I want to run Boston in 2018 & I want to win a 100 miler someday. I want to finish 3-4 100's a year as it has become my favorite distance to run. The journey & the experience of a 100 is something I crave & truly enjoy. I understand that I can’t complete those things above without adequate training, but I do feel I can adequately train and adhere to these 3 guidelines. But lets say that training for these events while doing those things above doesn’t allow me to win races or run fast enough for Boston entry or whatever it may be. Is that going to derail me? Absolutely not. That will be exactly where I should be & I will be very happy with where I am at.

The reality is that there is no end goal, there is no 1 thing that my hat will be hung on, there is only this now. This journey that I am on is everything & I feel I have a clear vision of what I want that to look like & I feel that these priorities align with that & allow me to continue living my life, my way spending time doing things I love in places I love for as long as I can.

Thanks for listening & happy trails!


Jeff

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Quad Rock 50

Quad Rock 50 - May 2017 - Ft Collins, CO



I got off work Friday mid-afternoon on an absolutely gorgeous day here in Nebraska. With the sun high in the sky I fueled up and hit I-80 West towards the Rockies. "I-80 West" rings in my head here and there throughout my week, just that nice neat little phrase and all it's promise and undiscovered adventure. I sat back, relaxed and listened to Elizabeth Greenwood explain why her 6 digit student loan debt has lead her to obtaining her own death certificate and many notable people who have faked their own deaths in the audio book "Playing Dead" read by Arden Hammersmith.





This kept me intrigued for miles, (both driving and while running). This one was a random find on audible, almost like hitting shuffle on Spotify radio and a song comes on and then you go listen to the whole album. I stumbled on this, the initial aww inspiring feeling of this young gal is going to leave it all behind for a new life in the Philippines was quickly reminded of all the collateral damage when one does partake in pseudocide. Although financial seems to be the biggest reason,  I heard stories of people leaving fame, leaving abusive relationships, insurance frauds, taking advantage of terrorist attacks and one of the most shattering to belief in people was a man faking his own death after his wife passed away so he did not have to parent their infant child. Only to be discovered by his very own daughter 30 years later, but a week after his actual real death. This was one of those stories that make you just wonder about all the people and different situations going on out in the world and how faking ones death can ever be an option. I was totally "in" the book by the time I hit Ft Collins, CO that evening. 

I stopped by the local run store about 30 minutes late as they were all dark and closed up, I'd have to get my packet in the morning. So I went for a drive up the road that goes around Horseshoe Reservoir and entered into Lory State Park, where the race start was. The sun went down over the back of the mountains as I set out my gear, read through the information about the race and ate my Thermos of dinner. I fell asleep in the back of my car around 9:00 and was woke up around 3:30 that morning by the first people arriving for the race. I got myself up, ate a bit of breakfast and got myself ready to run. The start was buzzing with people before much time passed and the sun was just starting to peek up. We stood on a little gravel road when the gun went off and about 150 of us headed into the mountains. I positioned myself somewhere near the middle of pack.

 We hit the trails and life was good. I couldn't not get over the views. It seemed like every few minutes another view overlooking the city or the mountains would open up. On one climb I took a picture of the view and told the Facebook world that if I could only do 1 race a year it'd be this pure mountain magic. The first 20 miles had us the top of 3 different peaks.Mile 6, 12 and 20 all concluded with a few thousand feet of climb. I was not ready for this.

 I didn't really study this one at all and just tried to think about it as a regular run, big mistake. I got to the 25 mile mark at 5 hours and set back out to do the same 25 mile loop backwards for the last half. I had ran the Lincoln Marathon pretty hard only 6 days earlier & hadnt taken any days off since. I ran and talked with another runner for quite a bit of the first portion of this loop. Somewhere around mile 30 I started having stomach issues and then the big climb came and they got worse. I fought a muscle in my leg tightening up after that and lost all that fire and fuel to keep going & going. At mile 38 I decided I was done, 






I could of hiked it out, I had time, but I also had a lot of things to do this weekend including driving back home. Working hard doesn't always mean hiking out a bad run, or suffering when the day isn't yours. I got a solid 40 mile run in a course that was way harder than I anticipated and I never (seriously) contemplated faking my own death. 

I'm happy I went out there because I got to experience the course and get a feel for the race. I plan to come back again and conquer this one. Colorado runners always humble me with their insane athleticism. It was such a wonderful experience to be in the company of so many great athletes at the finish as I ate my veggie burger and drank from my 25 mile finisher mug. Oh yea, they let you drop down to 25 miles and not have to go home with an offical "DNF" ribbon around your neck. Great race, great trails, great scenery, great people. See you again, better rested with the right focus sometime soon. Happy Trails!