Endurance Sports on the Web
Any race that involves those awe-inspiring stop and smell the roses (wild flowers) moments are good in my books. The HWY 20 drive up east through the Cascade Range is absolutely beautiful. The town of Winthrop, Washington is a hidden gem (as was the resort we stayed at “River’s Edge Resort”….a definite gem!). This was my third “ultra”: my first was the 2012 Kneeknacker, followed by the 2013 Chuckanut 50k, and the upcoming endeavor being the White River 50 mile in July. My goal was to race in under 6hrs and without injury seeing as Kneeknacker I was in the depths of Iliotibial Band syndrome and Chuckanut I pulled a hamstring the week prior.
For the rest of Sheryl’s race report, check her blog.
Holy crap!! That was tougher than i expected…
Like usual, let me jump back a few days. Wednesday of this week, I snuck in to Vancouver really early so that i could run the Coast Mountain Trail Series, Buckin’ Hell course before work. I wanted to get a bit more familiar with the top section of the route before the race (Saturday). The trail was in great shape for most of the way up, but once i got to about 900m elevation, i ran in to some serious obstacles.
Continue reading on Mike’s blog…
Last Saturday, 300 brave warriors stood together at the foothills of Rancho San Rafael Park near Reno, NV, shaking off the high desert morning chill. All eyes were on Peavine Peak, stretching 4,500' vertical into the clear blue sky, and the snake of trail leading to the top that would begin our journey. We were here to race the 28th annual Silver State 50-mile/50k/Half Marathon
, a beautiful and hilly trail run put on by the Silver State Striders
, and it was time to get moving!
(Last minute instructions before the 85 runners tackle the 50-miler)
I met some familiar faces at the start, many of whom were getting their last training cycles in before the Western States 100m and Tahoe Rim Trail 100m (TRT), two big summer races with similar terrain. The 50-miler had ~80 runners this year, including Chikara Omine (fresh off his win at the Quicksilver 50m [6:11] last week and hoping his sore hamstring would hold up), local speedster Peter Fain (also eyeing States this year after cutting his teeth at the 100-mile distance with a 23:37 at Wasatch last Fall), Thomas Reiss (training for TRT), Joelle Vaught (the favorite in the Women's race), Mark Lantz (going for #9 States this year), Bob Shebest (training for TRT #3, after getting 3rd in 2010 with a sub-20 hour finish), Lon Freeman (also targeting States), Erik Skaden (States), and Jim Magill (already his 6th ultra since late February). At 6am, we were off!
(Mark Lantz hydrates, as Thomas Reiss, Peter Fain, and the other runners stay warm)
(...and we're off!)
This was a cruiser race for me, hoping to sneak in a qualifying sub 11-hour time for the 2014 Western States 100 lottery without screwing up my last training cycle before the Chamonix Marathon. I don't want to end my streak as the most losing runner in the Western States lottery...7-time loser, SO PROUD!!! But it was nice to start the race knowing I had time to relax, take some pictures, and literally stop and smell the flowers.
(The climb begins)
(Eric Frome charges up the hill)
After a few miles in the shadows, a long line of runners broke into the sun and spread out. Chikara, Bob Shebest, and Peter Fain set the pace up front and soon were out of reach. In fact, it didn't take long before all of us were so spread out it felt like we were alone! I paced along with local runner Lisa Daane, tackling her first ultra after having her son just nine months ago. I love how new Mom's have such a high pain benchmark that a 50k just isn't enough...gotta go big!
(Out of the shadows)
(Lisa Daane climbs the single track)
(All smiles in the early miles!)
(Into the sun, with a familiar shadow pose)
The trails in this area are amazing, alternating between fire roads and single track, and all of it runnable. By the time we cruised through The Pond aid station (mile 8), civilization was a distant memory, replaced with vast stretches of desert grass sprinkled with wildflowers like the red paintbrush, blue violets, and purple sage. My soul drank fully from Nature's cup!
(Sharing the single track)
(Up, up, up!)
(Happy volunteers at The Pond, and more great trails!)
(Balsamroot, I think?)
(The best part of the race...this view goes on for miles!)
I walked a good chunk of the climbs, keeping my heart rate under 145 (my aerobic threshold) as much as possible. That was easier on my knee too, a minor soreness that appeared soon after Big Sur, and likely due to too much road racing. The liquids were going down fast, a sure sign of the dry, high altitude conditions, and we reached Peavine (mile 11) just as our water bottles were down to the final slurps. George Ruiz and his gang of super-volunteers got us set up, and we descended down into the back country.
(George and his volunteers ran a tight ship at Peavine)
(The gorgeous back country)
(Long easy descents make it fun!)
(Red paintbrush on the left, purple sage on the right...what's not to love?)
I stopped for an impromptu bio break around mile 15, and again at the Long Valley aid station (mile 22), both signs that I was not keeping my fluid levels up. I wasn't in a hurry though, so I spent a lot of time rehydrating at the aid stations. I think I had the same problem when I did this race the first time in 2007
. "Wait, you did this race six years ago
?" asked a fellow runner. Holy cow, I'm already becoming one of "those" old guy ultrarunners. And still making the same mistakes! ;-)
(Downhill is fun!)
(The ladies of Long Valley take care of us)
I shuffled along with Jay Kincaid, a local runner from Reno, who suggested walking a few steep hills so we don't un-Gu our stomachs. It had warmed up to the low 70's, so the heat was becoming a factor, but we did have some occasional cloud cover that seemed to hover right with us down the single track. We're surfing cloud shadows! I picked up the pace a bit along with Taylor Valentino, who entertained me with stories of his studies in Exercise Physiology and endurance recovery techniques. Taylor was really looking forward to helping out the great Dr. Marty Hoffman at Western States this year! Given what he is studying, I suspect his thesis will be a must-read for ultrarunners.
(Just gorgeous at every turn)
(Taylor tackles a big climb)
(At mile 29, we begin seeing 50k runners on the trail)
(The fun single track towards River Bend)
(Lisa makes her way back from River Bend, still smiling)
(Jay Kincaid begins the big climb at mile 34)
(River Bend aid station, mile 33!)
(Feeling great at River Bend, photo courtesy of Patrick McKenna)
I took it easy on the long descent to River Bend (mile 33), where the volunteers helped me swap out my hydropack and pointed me back up towards Peavine. One more big ascent bottom to top, and it's all cruising from there! I was just under six hours, so looking at a comfortable 9:30-10 hour finish. The clouds started to come in more frequently, giving us a bit of shelter from the noon sun, and we started into the climb.
(Awesome cloudscapes near the top)
I caught up to Eric Frome, and after chatting a bit we figured out that we had lived in the same area of Portland, OR, within a few blocks. Eric was training for the Leadville 100, his first 100-miler, looking to add to the family legacy started when his father did Leadville nearly 30 years ago. We chatted for an hour, making the climb go by quickly, and even found out that he had finished the 2013 Boston Marathon
just 17 seconds ahead of me. 17 seconds?!? How strange is that? Out in the middle of the desert, I'm running with a guy that probably next to me for all of Boston.
(Sharing high fives on the trail)
Josh Owen and Joshua Marks, two more Oregonians, caught us on the final climb and we all got a big refill at Peavine (mile 39) before the long descent. I leaned into the hill to chase after the pink top of Lynn Vanscholack from Meridian, ID, whom I had been seeing for the last four hours. My guess is that she and Lisa were duking it out for 2nd Female, with Joelle likely leading. The Oregonians bid me farewell, and the wind swept me down the single track.
(This aid station was singing REO Speedwagon at the top of their lungs when I arrived...awesome)
I caught Lynn at the Ridge View aid station (mile 44), who was smiling but suffering from pushing the last climb. When she heard we had 10k to go, she said "no problem!" and we headed out. The last few miles of single track were so much fun - just enough incline to lean forward and bank those turns. I was actually a little bummed when downtown Reno appeared on the horizon - darn, we're almost done!
(Civilization arises like a mirage...or the Mirage hotel, maybe)
I jogged into the park and crossed the finish in 9:37:39 for 31st place, feeling good and well under the 11-hour time I needed. It was so nice to take it easy! Chikara was there to great me at the finish, and let me know that he and Bob Shebest ran side-by-side for 33 miles before Chikara pulled away to win in a 3rd-best-ever-on-this-course 7:09. Holy cow, that's 3 minutes/mile faster than me! Bob came in second (7:23), and Christopher Wehan (7:30) came in third, with Michael McMurray (7:33, 4th) just edging out Mark Lantz (7:41) for the Master's win. Joelle Vaught had handily won the Women's division (8:13, 9th overall), with Lisa Daane (9:27) getting second, and Lynn Vanscholack (9:45) holding on for 3rd. Everyone mentioned miles 34-39 were the toughest, but the weather couldn't have been better. (all results
(Feeling good! Photo courtesy of Patrick McKenna)
(Chilling with winner Chikara Omine, photo courtesy of Patrick McKenna)
There was plenty of folks handing me beer at the finish, and I chilled out with Sarah Syed (tackled the 50k today) and Mark Lantz as we cheered on fellow runners and snacked on ice cream. I gave a final thanks to John Trent and the Silver State Striders for inviting us once again to frolic in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Such a great day! I headed home with the windows rolled down, breathing the sage-filled air deep into my lungs. Refreshed, renewed, and replenished.
As you may know, two weeks ago we welcomed the fourth member of our family into the world. She is beautiful, mellow, and most importantly, healthy. And for that, we’re incredibly grateful.
We’re also not getting any sleep. Which doesn’t slow down our three-year old one bit, so the fun is compounded.
Every minute, morning and night, it seems, is occupied by a kid. Our house is a happy, lived-in, played-in wreck right now, and it’s all I can do to carve out an hour to run each day. (Mega-props to my wife, Erin, for holding down the fort while I got in 24 miles on Sunday in preparation for my 12-hour race, in just nine days.)
So you can bet the coffee is flowing. But although I’m a bit more caffeinated than usual (on my second cup, as I write this), I’m pretty proud of how well we’ve managed to keep eating well, during this time when I’m sure we need good nutrition more than ever.
Almost every night, we’re tempted to “just get takeout, tonight, and then we’ll get on top of things after that.” While the latter is proving elusive, I must admit we’ve done a good job of cooking all our meals and avoiding the 40-dollar bill (minimum) that accompanies takeout.
So I thought I’d write a quick list of the way we’re making healthy food work when we’ve got zero time — not so that you can weather the storm your next newborn brings with him or her, but in hopes that maybe you’ll find one of our strategies helpful with whatever keeps you busy, day to day.
How to Eat Healthy When You’re Short on Time
1. If you can find a free 15 minutes, make a huge batch of a high-energy, healthy snack that you can grab throughout the day to keep everyone happy. Before we had our first child, we made an amazing peanut butter granola with pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, almonds, and dried cherries. This time, it was seasoned, smoky almonds glazed in maple syrup. Both recipes are in my book that comes out in the fall, but in the meantime, it’s not hard to find homemade granola or trail mix recipes (I’ve got a bunch listed on the recipes page here). Or pickup a pre-made one at Whole Foods or from the farmers market, knowing that the additional five or ten bucks you spend will save you lots of stress and probably an impulse takeout meal.
2. Use the Dr. Seuss meal planning strategy to limit the possibilities and make it easier to choose what to make, quickly. In other words: find one main ingredient that either you already have (the best case) or is in season. Once you’ve committed to the star ingredient, it’s easy to narrow down recipe options or do a quick Google search for a recipe based on it. Often, this leads to the realization that you have everything you need to make a recipe, or can easily substitute a few ingredients to avoid a time-costly trip to the store.
3. Don’t ignore the prepared foods counter at Whole Foods. I don’t mean the hot foods bar, which is uber-expensive and not that good, but the cold deli counter, where they sell pre-formed veggie burgers or tempeh salads. They list all the ingredients right there for you, and most of them actually are whole foods (somebody was thinking when they named their store!). In a pinch, spending just a few dollars extra here can prevent the food-binge takeout trip, and the effort to heat up your food in a pan or toaster is minimal. Example: dinner tonight in the Frazier house is fresh black bean burgers — I got four of them yesterday, weighing over a pound total, for six bucks.
4. Give yourself a break, and buy some of the other foods you normally make. If you’re reading this, I bet you’re weird like we are, and pride yourself on making what most people buy. Hummus, almond butter, granola, pizza dough … all of these foods are things we normally make from scratch. They’re also all foods I’ve bought in the past week. There’s a recurring theme here: spend a little bit more than you usually do, for something slightly less healthy than you usually eat, in order to stave off the big, unhealthy, expensive takeout trip which can quickly become a habit.
5. Put out a healthy snack bowl for the kids. And the grown ups. We got this idea from Dr. Joel Fuhrman in his book Disease Proof Your Child: Every day, we put out a healthy snack on the table so that anyone who walks by can grab a handful. Sometimes it’s a simple trail mix, other times it’s vegetables with hummus or almond butter or goddess dressing to dip in. The idea here is that if everybody grazes throughout the day, people stay happy and nobody wants to cannibalize the sweet little newborn when mealtime arrives an hour late, for some unforeseen but inevitable reason.
6. Love the sandwich. For the most part, I’ve stopped eating sandwiches since I went vegetarian and eventually vegan. Without the meat or at the very least the cheese, I can admit that the thrill is gone. But that doesn’t mean they’re not still the ultimate healthy and convenient meal. Buy some sprouted Ezekiel bread (4 or 5 grams of protein per slice), load it up with whatever vegetables you’ve got around and a good shmear of hummus, and you’ve got a lunch to tide you over. (For car trips, we’ll just do almond butter on Ezekiel bread or hummus without the veggies — our son loves this lunch.) The popular one in our house these days involves hummus, avocado, tomato, the leafy green du jour, homemade vinaigrette and a pinch of sea salt.
7. Make salad ‘n’ beans sexy. Cold beans on a salad, even for lunch, sounds awful to me. It’s what I used to think you had to eat all the time if you were vegan, switching out the beans for spongy tofu when you were feeling really saucy. But here’s how I’ve come to love the old S ‘n’ B: Take a can of chickpeas, drain and rinse, then dry well. Toss the chickpeas in 1 tablespoon flour, then put them in a skillet over high heat with a teaspoon of hot oil so that they crisp up a bit. Season with salt and black pepper, then add to your salad. Sure, the flour and oil probably make the beans slightly less healthy than without, but come on — you’re eating a big-ass salad for dinner! The warm, salty, slightly crispy chickpeas absolutely make the salad meal-worthy, especially if you include some high-calorie, high-nutrient foods like avocado, hemp seeds, nuts, etc. And the total prep time is probably 10 minutes.
On that note … add beans to everything you can; they’re an easy way to substantiate and up the nutrient content of any meal. Twice I’ve made pasta al arrabbiata in the past three weeks, since we had the stuff we needed on hand, and both times I threw in a cup and a half of cannellini beans we had made ahead of time and frozen (a can works, too, of course) — to make a healthy meal out of one that would otherwise fall just short, in my opinion.
8. Simplify the smoothie. I’d be remiss not to mention smoothies in a post on quick, simple, nutritious food (or any post, for that matter ). Those times when I can’t count on all of my meals being rich in nutrients, I can always count on my old blended buddy the smoothie to deliver. The way to keep it from becoming a preparation beast of its own is to take a few minutes and put all your dry base ingredients (seeds, protein powder, etc) into single-serving, reusable cups, so you can store them in the fridge and just pop one open to dump into the blender instead of having to get out all the stuff, every time.
9. Go back to basics with a grain, a green, and a bean. This meal is a miracle for four reasons — it’s substantial and healthy, you almost always have the ingredients on hand, active prep time is almost zero, and it dirties only one pot. I like adding some rice to a version of this one, and tossing in tons of baby spinach during the last few minutes.
And one more …
As I was putting this list together, I thought of a few more little tips that didn’t lend themselves well to a list, and the most important of them is this:
Do everything you can to pick up one or two extra meals at the grocery store when you go. Nothing eats up your time like going to the grocery store every single day — and I definitely tend to fall into this habit when things get busy.
But recently, when I run to pick up the ingredients for a meal, I’ve been able to improvise and grab more stuff that I know I can make into something good for the next night or two. Base your choices, again, on what vegetables look good or what you know you have at home in the freezer. You’ll get better at this as you cook more and become comfortable with making substitutions in case you forgot to pick up something. This is also a time when swinging by the prepared foods counter can be a lifesaver.
Whatever your method, it feels great to know you’ve got 2 or 3 minimal-effort meals in the hopper so you can grab an extra 20 minutes to kick back with a mojito in the evening. Or not.
Alrighty, that’s all for now. I’m sure somewhere in the house there’s a diaper that needs changing or a story that needs reading or a scraped knee that needs kissing — not to mention seven miles that need running — so I should probably get to work. See you soon!
Our thanks to Margaret Inoue for sharing her race report with us….
The Barkerville Rush Relay is a 100km relay race from Quesnel up through Barkerville and back into Wells. It is divided into 8 stages varying in length from 8 to 17.5km; the race gains a total of 3500m and can be run with 1 to 11 people (see the course profile). Being a Wells resident, this is also the closest running event to my home.
For the last couple of years, I have volunteered as a checkpoint in stage 7. This year, my friend, Yael, and I decided we’d get a local Wells team together. For various individual reasons, our first group of 10 dwindled to 2. While Yael and I both are willing to take on a running challenge 50km is beyond our league. Yael, not willing to give up on the plan, found a team in Quesnel that needed a couple of runners. And so it was that I came to be a “Bon Bon on the Run.”
Yael running leg 7
I warned Sunshine, our team leader, that I was not fast by any stretch of the imagination and her reply was that that was fine; she was not running to win, but her team had won best costume for 9 of the 10 years of the relay. Oh dear.
As last minute team joiners, Yael ended up with stage 7 and I with stage 1. Living almost an hour away from stage 1, I trained with Yael on stage 7. Heck, practicing on the most hated leg in the snow has got to be good training for anything, right?
The morning of the race, I got up at 5:25 in order to get out in time for the 7am start. Sunshine set me up with our costume. She had painted t-shirts and made cellophane hats and waistbands like the ends of wrapped candies and gave me candies to hand out to people who either passed me or who I passed.
On the start line, I handed out my first candy to Bob Simpson, who had been our Independent MLA. Then we were off. Most of the runners were quickly ahead of me as we started up the first hill. Despite the short length of my leg (8.5km), it gains just over 800m and hills have not traditionally been my forte. My plan was to follow my 10/1 run plan and to keep a manageable pace up the steep hills with the hope of finishing in under 1:06, preferably not last. So I let the spread happen ahead of me and kept to my game plan.
Heading up the hill start, watching the spread happen ahead of me, I knew this hill would be deceptive. The race co-ordinators has set up signs along the routes. At the top of the hill, the sign said “If this leg was easy, it would be called your mother.” I chuckled. Though I still felt good at the top, 6-mile hill was still ahead. As it flattened out, I increased my speed. My support crew was awesome and unexpected. Sunshine, who I had only met at 6:45 that morning, drove with my boyfriend, stopping periodically along the way to cheer and offer water.
By the time I saw 6-mile hill, I knew I had 2 runners behind me and 2 in my sights. Though I hoped to gain on them up the hill, apparently the 2 ahead had a game plan, too, and the distances stayed pretty similar. As I completed 6-mile, I already began to dread the next one. Having driven it hundreds of times, I felt it could be harder. Partway up that next hill, someone’s support crew was blasting “I want candy” from their car. What could I do? I deked across the rode to give them the candy that I had been carrying for the last 6km.
As the road turned into rolling bumps, Diane Dagneau eased passed me. I was confused, I knew she hadn’t started with us and for the past couple of years, stage 7 has been her stage. Could it be that she started later than us and had caught up and passed me? In my mind, this would be possible, after all, she is a strong, fast runner. As it turned out one of the women behind me had some troubles and Diane, who would later run stage 7 as well, had replaced her teammates.
I finished my leg in 1:01:51 (according to my watch) and was stoked. I had achieved my goals. With one runner still behind, I wasn’t last. I finished under my anticipated time and I still felt good. I gave a high five to my next runner, Hazel, who took off down the road.
Stage 7 checkpoint list
The race was still only just beginning, though. Having had such a great support crew, I tried to do the same for Hazel. Her leg was 17km. Somehow she managed not just to achieve her goals for the leg, but also to keep the cellophane hat (mine fell off early). After her leg, Jason took the proverbial baton. I stopped to cheer him twice as he made up for mine and Hazel’s slower starts and easily passed the first runner ahead of him and caught up to the second. Then I had to head off as I was volunteering for stage 7. As we drove on, seeing the spread was really interesting. The first person was a whole stage ahead of the last. No wonder there was a mandatory 12pm start at Stanley.
I dropped Yael’s costume to her and headed out to set up for my check point. Checking my sheet, I discovered that 2 of the runners were actually running the whole thing solo. As we marked them off going up and coming down, it was clear that the mandatory start had narrowed the perceived gap. With the first runner heading past at 1:57pm and the last runner coming down around 3:40, the times were quick this year. Reports of the snow were bad – slushy and rotten with at least 2 runners reporting falls. Definitely not an easy leg.
With stage 8 finishing the relay and my stage seemingly ages past, the race was done. During dinner and the awards, our team came in third in our division (mixed open) and Sunshine continued with her almost impeccable streak, once again winning her team (us) best costume. As it turned out one of the solo runners also won fastest stage runner in both the first and last legs. Amazing.
I had never before participated in a relay race and the experience of running as a team in such a friendly, fun event buoyed me. Being my first race of the season, it was an energizing start and I may even have found a buddy for my off-road duathlon training. Bring on the summer!
You guys know that I love the 5Peaks series, and that they are actually how I first discovered trail races. 5 years ago, my gf Kiri, took me to my first ever race, at Golden Ears! Of course since I thought I was tough, I took on the Enduro course, a 14 km loop.
I absolutely loved running the race, but on the drive back to Burnaby, I started to feel very sick, and could barely focus enough to speak. Pulling into my driveway, I rushed inside and proceeded to make friends with the porcelain throe in the washroom. My first trail race literally made me puke.
Continue reading on Solana’s blog…
Dear Friends and Fitliner…..
This past Weekend , May 10 to 12 2013, as the first german Cyclist ever was I able to overcome the route from Flensburg to Garmisch….1100kilometres in 51 hours 30 min and 30 sec…This is the new german solo record in cycling, It was very hard because the weather was really bad……1000 kilometres against wind, a whole lot of rain and temperature was very low, at night only 5 Grad Celsius, everything a cyclist really loves……in addittion to approx…..10 detours due to road construction work…..but nothing discouraged me and Top – Crew…( Gaby-Katja-Markus-Michael-Wolle and the race director Dieter )….Everybody was in high Spirits everytime I stopped at our two Fitline vehicles…..THANK YOU….also to my fans who didn’t let the weather stop them to come and encourage me……The worst part was form Augsburg to Garmisch, 180 kilomertres contionuous rain and storm Gusts of wind….but nothing was able to stop me….I am now the only german with a double record: Run 2001 form the lowest Point in Germany to it’s highest the “Zugspitze” -2964 metres…1154 kilometres in 6 days-21 hours and 15 min. back then world record…4 Marathons per day, still german record and now Bike 2013: 1100 kilometres Flensburg to Garmisch in 51 hours-30min-30 sec…german solo record…..Just like Edi Fuchs ( Extrem-Biker Austria ) had already eaid: Only the really tough ones masters a challenge in conditions like that….THANK YOU – Edi…..And now the Training continious for the RAA in August – 2200 kilometres & 30.000 hm have to be done in 5 days and 12 hours then one get qualified for the RAAM – 2014 USA….My Conclusion: You feel yourself once you reach your own limits….so long…Your Achim….
We arrived in London on Sunday afternoon. Our flight went well and we really appreciated the bump up to business class to allow us to put the legs up and stretch right out - amazing how these flights can seem a few hours too short! ;-) When we arrived in London the weather was a bit mixed with showers and sunshine. We enjoyed our run in Hyde Park - it's always a great way to get some fresh air, exercise and to help shake off the jet lag.
Pelicans in Hyde Park - big birds!
The next morning we went for another run in Hyde Park. After our run we stopped at the Cafe where Neil enjoyed a Bacon Sandwich - oh my!
These are the new flats Number One Hyde Park - several million pounds for a flat here with a Mclaren Dealership and a Rolex Dealership below the building.
Always a cheery sight to see at a local pub!
Tuesday we flew to Inverness to stay with Graeme and Fiona for a few days. They took us to some great sights including this Gorge - very deep!
Graeme and I enjoying a stroll on the beach on the West Coast near Ullipool.
Nice Mountain Views!
View of Loch Ness early evening.
View of Loch Ness after the sun set. Tomorrow we head off to the start of the Cateran Race. Graeme, Neil and I are all doing it - Fiona is the crew. Looking forward to the journey! Saturday we set off at 7 am to complete 55 miles. More details to come!
We are excited to inform you that the inaugural Buckin’ Hell trail race takes place this weekend in North Vancouver, the second race in the brand new Coast Mountain Trail Series. The event takes place on Mt. Seymour and includes four distance options: 20k solo, 20k relay, 10k uphill, and 10k downhill, with the popular Old Buck trail serving as the route up and down the mountain. Total elevation gain and loss for the full route is 7000 feet, 3500 feet up and 3500 feet down. We at Trainharder make the bold prediction that this race won’t be like your average run around the seawall.
Although everything you need to know about the race including information on registration can be found on the Coast Mountain Trail Series website here, we decided to also direct a few extra questions to Race Director Gary Robbins. Anything to gain an advantage right?
Trainharder (TH) – Can you explain the race format in a little more detail? Does everyone start at the same time? Is there a rest period at the top before runners head down?
Gary Robbins (GR) – The race format involves four options. The distance from top to bottom is just shy of 10km and you can choose to just run the uphill race, to just run the downhill race, to run both the uphill and the downhill, or to find a teammate and run it as a relay race.
There is a mass start at the United Church on Parkgate Road, just around the corner from Parkgate Village, at 8am. This will involve everyone who is participating in the uphill portion of the race.
Once up top there will be a break before runners continue back downhill again. The length of the break will depend on how fast you are able to get up the hill of course.
There will be a mass downhill start from the Mount Seymour parking lot at 10am.
As we grow this even in future years we’d like to do a seeded return run in which runners depart from the top at the intervals they arrived at. For year one however we’re keeping it simple and having everyone run together in both directions.
TH – Both directions present unique challenges. Which do you think will be most challenging?
GR – The climbing starts so quickly and is so relentless that inevitably you’ll have runners near the front who’ve just gotten too excited and gone out far too fast. They’ll pay a price for their excitement and they’ll be cursing us early.
The descent will inevitably take its toll on the quads of the runners. What will make this race so unique will be the timed break up top before you turn around to run back down. This will allow people to go harder than they normally would in an up and down style race because they’ll get some recovery time in between. Whether this will be a good thing or a bad thing for some of these runners remains to be seen :)
TH – Do you expect more uphill or downhill runners?
GR – The is plenty of excitement around the ability to just run downhill and this seems to have fueled a few relay teams with the downhill runner reaching out for an uphill partner in crime. In the end numbers are fairly even though.
TH – Any pieces of advice for nervous runners?
GR – You’ll cover a vertical kilometer of climbing and descending. Try to keep that in mind during the first few kilometers of your day. If you curse us late in your race you’re running a smart race, if you curse us early in your race you might want to slow down a step :)
TH- Thanks Gary! Good luck with the event!
On the line, I stood beside Jonathan Brownlee and Martin Van Barneveld. The two of them were having a very casual conversation as the race was to begin in less than 2 minutes. If Jonathan was nervous about the race, he sure didn’t show it. Why did these two seem so calm? We have the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song playing and then the very ominous drum beat. I believe that Jonathan had a plan, knew exactly what he needed to do and was confident that he could get it done.
Through advise from Sharleen Hoar, I drew up a plan for myself. Not something I ‘hoped’ would happen, but a series of points that based off of training I know I am capable of. I was still quite nervous but I was confident in what I had to do to be happy at the end of the day.
Continue reading on Andrew’s blog…
Ultrarunner and hotel/restaurant magnate Karl Hoagland has acquired Ultrarunning Magazine
, and will be taking over as its Publisher starting with the July, 2013 issue. Hoagland is no stranger to ultrarunning, having finished over 40 ultras including a 15th place at the 2010 Western States 100 (he also serves on the board of WS).
Retiring Publisher John Medinger along with his wife Lisa Henson, who has been UltraRunning’s General Manager, will remain involved with the magazine as Correspondents at Large, contributing content on a periodic basis. John will also continue as the Race Director for the Quad Dipsea (which he founded 30 years ago) and the popular Lake Sonoma 50. Managing Editor Tia Bodington will retain her position with the publication, as will Subscriptions Manager Carol King. Ultrarunner Erika Lindland will join the team as a Contributing Editor with responsibility for race content and the magazine’s on-line content and presence.
The next generation of Island triathlon stars made a statement Saturday.
Andrew McCartney of Victoria recorded his biggest career move as he hopes to eventually join a pantheon that includes Olympians and fellow-Islanders such as Simon Whitfield and Brent McMahon.
The 25-year-old finished a breakthrough seventh in the World Triathlon Series race in Yokohama, Japan.
I do not have a record of who took this picture and shared it with me.
If you recognize the image please notify me so I can give proper photo creditsThe first climb of the race held approximately 1600 feet / 500 meters of elevation gain and it began just two miles in. After nearly decapitating a few teammates due to some non-breakaway tape on the starting line, I narrowly avoided being stampeded by the nearly 1000 runners behind me who were also tackling the 100 miles around Mt. Fuji. Staying controlled over the first few miles was no easy task and even while hanging back around 12th place overall I still managed a few back to back 6m30s miles to open my 100 mile journey. (If you want a good laugh FFWD this video to 1m47s
and then freeze frame it through the start)
The fact that my calves were already feeling lactic while climbing unusually large and seemingly endless dirt stairs by mile four just reinforced the fact that UTMF was a bit of a different beast. A 100 mile run in which approximately 30% of the terrain was paved and fully runnable, yet the remaining 70% would somehow contain nearly 30,000ft / 9,000m of climbing and descent. It just didn't make any sense to me. The math seemed to be missing a variable. How steep could the terrain really be? Oh hardy har har har. The joke was in fact on us and the equation was about to be balanced, one painful mile at a time.
Shinpei KosekiAfter twelve miles of racing and the aforementioned 1600 foot hump I'd had nine miles of running at seven minute mile pace or better under my belt. That's not the kind of running you'd expect to do in a mountainous 100 miler. The next four miles, which took us to the sixteen mile aid station, were covered at an approximate 7m30s pace over undulating terrain. Immediately following the aid station we were finally into the steepness I'd prepared for. The trail underfoot on was an approximate 30% grade which is very comparable to the grade I did the bulk of my training over. The first 16m/26km of the race, had been covered in just over two hours.
With a 3pm start time and a 5:30pm sunset my Princeton Tec headlamp
was now shining bright. I had held my own over the opening miles and slowly moved my way up into the top ten, and then the top five. Within the first mile of this climb I now found myself up in fourth. Just two miles later and the course topped out at close to 5,000 feet, in which I was anticipating a super enjoyable descent. Though the terrain disappeared nicely at a near 35% grade in the upper portions I picked my way though it before I started to experience acute and intense foot pain. Foot pain directly where I had broken my foot twice before. Foot pain that I had not felt since getting back off of crutches over a year and a half prior. The pain would be brief but super intense and left no doubt as to its whereabouts, and it was freaking me the f#@k out. The sensation never lasted for more than the individual foot strike and was acute enough to balance perfectly with allowing me to continue racing while never allowing me to stop worrying about when it might flare again. A nice little internal dialogue ensued in which I basically told myself that I'd have to pull out of the race if it didn't somehow rectify itself. I've been in hospitals in New Zealand, Australia, El Salvador, Honduras, Oregon and Hawaii. I've filed over $20,000 in out of country medical claims (that have all thankfully been fully covered by my $75 annual policy) and I simply had absolutely ZERO intentions of adding Japan to my international hospitals list. At 36 years of age I'd really prefer if the next time I end up in a hospital is when Linda and I start a family in a few years time.
One, two, three, four, five. Five "f#@k me" moments in about an hour of running. As the terrain eased underfoot the pain within the foot disappeared altogether so I just decided to roll with it. In a funny conversation with friends after the race.
"It was an intense localized pain from about hour three till four, but then it subsided and I never felt it even one more time over the next sixteen hours of running"
By the time I'd reached the water station at about mile twenty three the foot pain seemed a distant memory, though I was then hoping that it was not going to be terrain specific and simply spike in pain again on the impending descents. As mentioned though it subsided and never flared again. As a preventative measure I actually had an x-ray on it today and even my Doctor could not believe how great the images looked. All is good and it just seems to be 'one of those things' that can happen when you go and run for a full day in the mountains.
I spotted Australian runner Brendan Davies hitting the water station ahead of me but failed to notice that I'd passed him in transition. About a half a mile after the water station there was a volunteer on the gravel road who was directing me to my left and onto a singletrack climb. The course flagging, which included reflective lights, pylons, volunteers, volunteers with mini light sabers and just generally anything and anyone in place to ensure you did not take a wrong turn was truly beyond anything I'd ever seen in a 100 mile race. It's a testament to Tsuyoshi Kaburaki, his team and the entire Japanese running community, and quite the site to behold. This volunteer directed me to my left. There were little blinky lights on the flagging tape up the climb. I looked left, then up, then up further, then straight up. I tried to make a joke in English to the volunteer which involved me using my arm like an airplane taking off. We were about to go vertical.
Shinpei KosekiI train on steep-ass terrain. I LOVE super steep unrunnable terrain that forces you into a power hike, bent at the waist, hands on knees, straining to breath just to sustain twenty minute mile pace. I excel at this discipline though I'd never seen anything quite like what I was staring at before. It was the lack of noticeable switchbacks that really accentuated what I was confronted with, but the next single mile was going to climb 2600ft / 800m at a maximum grade of up to, including, and slightly over 50%. For reference a double black diamond ski run will often be in the 30-40% range. Because there were blinking lights on the flagging tape going up the trail it felt as though you could look straight up, like you should be able to see stars but instead they were flashing and you knew you had to pull those stars out of the sky under your own power. I reached forward in the dark to grab any solid object I could find to help pull me up the trail. A friend described it best when he said, "and then the trail was right in front of your face"
You never really feel like you're racing up this terrain as your cadence is so low, though the lack of oxygen reaching your brain leaves no doubt that you are indeed pushing to you maximum pace just to continue forward momentum. Before I realized it I was closing in on the headlamp of then second place French runner Cyril Cointre. I pulled ahead of Cyril just before our 50% grade climb gave way into a 53% grade descent. Cyril pulled right up to me and all of a sudden we were kind of caught up in a 'who's the better downhill runner' game among two guys who obviously prided themselves on how they could cover downhill terrain. Nothing about what we were doing felt overly intelligent but it was fun to have another runner to push the pace with.
After a slight uphill grind in the landscape I promptly took my head out of my ass and pulled aside, waving Cyril past and simply saying "you lead" to which I immediately let him go. We were less than thirty miles in and on the first of what was promising to be many sizable descents. It was far too early to be revving the pistons up. Not ten minutes later did my quads reiterate my decision by starting to cramp.
'You've gotta be kidding me' I thought. I glanced at my watch to see I'd been racing for approximately 4h30mins. 'This is bad. This is really bad. I don't know if you can recover from this Gary? I think you've potentially already made mistakes that are going to haunt you for the rest of the race.'
The Greatest Magic Trick I've Ever Performed. Disappearing, Reappearing, Disappearing Quads.
I huge component of ultra running and more specifically 100 mile running is the ability to constantly and honestly assess your physical situation so that you can make appropriate decisions that ensure you are able to perform at your optimal level. I was struggling through some tough decisions and realizations that also forced me to question the first 4+ hours of my day. Had I gone out too hard? Was I running someone else's race without noticing it? Could I maintain my current slightly slower pace without cramping or would I have to slow further? Was my race effectively done? Would I be forced to drop out? Would I even finish this race today? How could this be happening to me? Quad strength and resilience was one thing I worked hard at and prided myself on, how in the world could that be my weak link on this day? Were my quads getting better or worse? How was my nutrition? How was my nutrition? How was my nutrition? How was my...
I'd been doing a decent job at staying in the optimal range of 200-300 calories an hour since the race had begun but I had been ignoring the overwhelming sense of hunger that would not subside no matter how many race food calories I injected. Looking back over my day in that moment I realized that I'd in fact eaten very little in advance of the 3pm start. It was now 7:30pm and I hadn't had much of a meal in nearly twelve hours. The mere recognition of this seemed to prompt an unsettled grumble in my belly as if it were calling for help. I had a Hammer bar
in my pack so I reached back and promptly devoured it. Sure enough, some solid calories combined with the slightly slower pace and my quad cramping subsided. This small victory felt pretty huge in that moment and I high five'd myself in my mind for working my way through it.
What goes up must go down and on this ridge that meant going up again, and then down again, and then up, and down and up and down and up and down again, and then for good measure you went up a sixth distinct spine before finally dropping some 2700 feet in just over a mile with a maximum grade somewhere in the 57% range. From start to finish this approximate 12m / 19k section took three full hours. An hour after the first quad issues my quads started to speak to me again. Once more I managed to eat them back into submission.
When we finally dropped down off this ridge we hit pavement and flat runnable terrain again. Time to wake up the legs!
As I was approaching the mile thirty-three aid station in third place, while running paved roads through a small town, a Japanese runner wearing #113 came screaming past me like he was in a 10k road race. The only thing I could figure was that he was looking for the accolades that would come with arriving at the aid station in third place while also being the first Japanese runner. There was simply no way that he was running a smart race and his pace certainly wasn't sustainable so I wrote him off without a second thought. Turns out most of us did. Hara Yoshikazu wasn't one of the pre-race favorites and I knew this when he passed me. I'd paid attention to who my competition was and who I needed to be aware of. Hara was in fact running his very first 100 miler, though he had won a 100km trail race in a time of 6h33m, which is pretty nuts. This of course was all information that I would not be able to source until after the race. In that moment Hara was just a runner that I was certain would either DNF or slow considerably and struggle to finish at all.
Shinpei KosekiI hit the aid station in fourth, thirteen minutes behind defending champion and pre-race favorite Julien Chorier, 4m30s behind Cyril, and now one minute behind Hara. The race was six and a half hours old and I was exactly where I was hoping to be. Heading to Japan I had every faith in my abilities as a 100 mile runner over mountainous terrain, and after training with last year's second place finisher Adam Campbell I had every confidence that I was strong enough and healthy enough to challenge for the lead and a hopeful podium finish. The race was still in its infancy but I felt like I'd dodged a bullet with my quad issues, and once I saw my amazing Salomon
support crew and they provided me with a triangle of rice wrapped in seaweed it only served to confirm my earlier findings. My quads had started to seize from a lack of overall calories on the day, not a lack of per hour racing calories, and getting solid food into my stomach was like riding on the wings of a unicorn...or at least how I'd envision that to feel. My spirits were buoyed by a simple 300 calorie reward and my legs seemed to forget that they'd threatened to leave me for dead just an hour earlier. (I've been told that if I don't correct Unicorn to Pegasus that I won't be getting married in Sept...OR Unipeg, greatest creature ever not created)
The next twenty-two miles of the course, bringing us up to the midway point, were predominantly paved and with a continual slightly uphill grade. This was the longest sustained runnable section of the entire race. Adam had told me about the UTMF course and how sections of flat'ish pavement were interspersed relentlessly with super steep mountain terrain. In training I'd run a 50km road run on a near weekly basis for the last few months. This wasn't as much about developing any additional foot speed as it was about training my mind to handle the monotony of this task at hand. I needed to learn how to zone out and click off kilometers for hours on end without a single excuse to walk, hike, or stop for any reason. This training was now paying dividends for as much as I continually wanted to stop and walk this section of the course there was simply no physical reason to do so.
We could not have gotten any luckier with the weather for the race as just hours before the race started a few rain clouds passed over the starting line and we were concerned for what might lay ahead. In the end we ran under a cloudless sky AND a full moon! So bright was the night sky through this exposed section of the course that I managed to shut my headlamp off and simply run by the light of the night orb over my shoulder. Though we were covering a mix of paved and then gravel surface road it was at least an isolated backroad in the forest with absolutely no car traffic or outside distractions. It felt as though we were running through a park and with my headlamp off, lit from above, clicking off mindless miles of the race I found one of those rare and special moments of peace. This is why I do this I thought. This is special. This journey and sense of adventure is what I crave from life.
I have a storied history of getting lost in races. It was this and this alone that forced me to once again turn my headlamp back on as I knew I'd never live down missing a turn in the night because I was running with my headlamp off. Not two minutes after I switched my lamp back on though did I end up jumping over a dormant snake on the side of the road. Just an over sized grass/garter snake was my best guess but having been confronted by a brown snake
in an Australian expedition adventure race once I at least decided to pay greater attention to where my feet were landing.
As the road angled upwards the motivation to continue running waned, but again there was no reason other than mental fatigue to break stride. At about this time I spotted Cyril up ahead and walking. As I caught him all he said was "how far?"
To which I responded "About 3km"
Taking it down a notch three hours earlier had saved my race.
There was a slight and slightly unexpected out and back as we approached the next aid station. Hara came running towards me, to which I spat out, "Wha!? Am I going the right way!?"
His general lack of response told me that his English probably rivaled my Japanese, and that this was likely an out and back.
Next up was Julien, now less than five minutes ahead of me. I was in third AND I'd managed to make up eight full minutes on him in that section, but Hara was now eleven minutes clear of me and showing no signs of weakness. It was clear now that Hara was indeed a threat on the day, a completely unexpected runner was not only in the lead but he'd been making significant gains over all of us on the faster sections of the race.
Out and back sections can be pretty tough in trail races. The forest and mountains can hide so much, with runners merely minutes apart never once catching a glimpse of each other. In referencing post race splits it's evident that nothing really changed through this section in terms of competitors behind me catching up, however they were now thrown in front of you like they'd appeared out of nowhere and were somehow running twice as fast as you. The out and back was only a few miles long and I said hi to nearly half a dozen people behind me. This had the effect of getting kicked in the nads repeatedly. Again like unicorn wings, not something I've yet experienced in my life, but basically how I'd expect it to feel.
I had JUST made up nearly ten minutes on one Julien Chorier yet somehow because there were half a dozen runners within thirteen minutes of me I became convinced that the wheels were coming off. So convinced of this was I that I started coaching myself for how to react WHEN those runners behind me caught me. In essence I was prepping myself for the inevitable letdown that would occur and attempting to rally in advance of this letdown to ensure that I didn't temporarily give up on myself WHEN those runners caught me. This is a common reaction when things like this happen in racing and basically I was recreating it in my head to attempt to limit my loses once it actually unfolded. I promised myself that I would make every additional effort necessary to latch onto those beasts behind me once they tracked me down and I'd fight like hell to keep from getting spit out behind them. All the while being 100% certain it was an inevitability.
Shinpei KosekiI just kept trucking along as the terrain grew in steepness and technicality. I kept my head down and went to work and a funny thing happened. No one caught me. I shoulder checked repeatedly and it wasn't until I arrived at the next aid station unscathed that I had managed to regain some of my confidence in how well I was moving. I just never ceases to amaze. You are moving at a set pace of 10km/hr for arguments sake. You catch the runner in front of you and you naturally speed up and feel amazing. The adrenaline catches a hold of you and you can't believe how FAST you're running. Reverse the scenario, going the exact same speed, in the exact same initial head space, yet getting caught yourself you somehow suffer a massive letdown and your mind gets the better of you. I was thankful that I had yet to deal with the latter and was hopeful that I'd soon be dealing with the former.
Clearing another aid station without seeing a runner from behind and learning that I was holding my own against the two in front of me was reassuring. The next section of the race contained the literal and figurative high point along with one of the weirdest things I've ever heard of in a trail race, a mandatory walking section.
Immediately after departing I was instructed "no running in this section." This had of course been covered in advance of the race but now that I was confronted with its reality I was disappointed that the terrain was in fact so damn flat and easy. To be all alone in third in a highly competitive 100 mile race and then to self govern walking over terrain that you would be forced to run if you sneezed or caught your toe on a rock was a bit torturous. It demanded trusting that your opponents were in fact honouring the same rules as you. Given that Japanese culture is probably the most honour based society on the planet I convinced myself that should I chose to run I'd surely be struck down by some god of the trails and have my foot clear severed in half should I break their code of conduct. Not a minute later I came across two volunteers almost hiding in the woods and holding up a sign in English,
I was congratulated with a ceremonial golf clap for adhering to the rules. Truth be told though I was shoulder checking the entire time while attempting to channel my inner Olympic speed walker, swaying my hips hither and tither and had I spotted a headlamp closing in on me I was prepared to erupt into a sprint as there was no way a gap of the minutes I possessed could be honestly closed if everyone were walking, speed walking or not. I saw no lights and was thankful for it. The flat slowly steered itself upwards and before long a hike was all anyone would be able to sustain anyways
As we topped out at the highest point on the course at just under 6,000 feet the full moon illuminating Fuji immediately to our left, as we were now on her flanks, the landscape transformed itself into a lunar style volcanic rock. Volunteers manned the high point and said in broken English,
"Okay to run"
I basically asked them to repeat those words three times before I exploded into a scree field of volcanic rock, taking a few kilos of it with me in my shoes to deposit at the next aid station.
Photo Credit Shinpei KoseckiThe next 6m/10k was almost all downhill while losing about 2,000ft of elevation. I departed ten minutes behind Julien for 2nd and arrived at A7 - 105.3km just eight minutes in arrears. The volunteers at A7 actually told me that I was eight minutes behind BOTH runners. BOTH runners! I thought, that's it Hara has cracked and Julien hasn't been making any ground on me. Looking at the somewhat inaccurate course profile I figured this was my best chance to put in a bit of a push and to get myself within striking distance of the lead.
Hearing that I was eight minutes back I was hoping to make up five minutes over the next ten miles of the course. I wanted to arrive at A8 - 121.7km and hear the words,
"You are just three minutes behind the leaders!"
If I remember correctly it was 3:30am what I started into the climb and felt just slightly better than Death on a Monday after a long weekend. It was finally time to use my greatest weapon, my music. I pulled out my MP3 and bluetooth earbuds and fired it up. Within minutes I was wide awake and moving faster over the mountains than even I would have guessed possible. Singing out loud, pumping my fists to the beats, anticipating and embracing the terrain ahead rather than fearing it. The music in my ears quickly made me feel at one with the earth under my feet and though I'd hesitate to say I felt like I was floating over the terrain I became confident and almost hyper aware of my every stride. This confidence lead to more unencumbered running than a body wearing nearly 13 hours of constant movement would normally possess. My questions about IF I was making time on Hara and Julien were replaced by questions about HOW MUCH time I was making. I simply knew that with relatively consistent splits between all of us over the last forty miles that I was now outpacing my nearest competitors.
The sun started to rise and presented a scene of beauty that left me nearly pinching myself. Fuji in all her glory, a full moon lingering off her shoulder, a red blanket colouring the horizon, and a Lake Yamanakako appearing from within the shadows down below as though a curtain had been drawn back on its slumber. A brief moment after digesting all of this and there were photographers and videographers dotting the landscape in front of me. They'd positioned themselves for just this moment in the race and I threw my arms in the arm and screamed,
"Can you believe this! This is AMAZING!!"
Shinpei KosekiFeeling the sun rise over you in a race that takes you non stop through the darkness of the night all by yourself is a bit like the warm embrace of a loved one that you've gone far too long without seeing. It's all at once foreign and familiar and comforting beyond reason. I was now wide awake and alive by every possible definition of those words, and not five minutes later this happened
(fast forward to 1m45s for the sunrise shot and what follows)
I came around the corner and he was right in front of me. I had no inkling that I was so close to Julien
Shinpei Kosekiand that I'd taken back the eight minutes he had over me in half the distance that I though it would take to gain just five of those minutes.
As I pulled up alongside him he asked, "Who's that?"
I responded "It's Gary"
Even though we'd met a few days earlier and spent enough time together via the team to become acquaintances he just was not expecting to see ME and hence did not process who Gary was. I pulled alongside of him and as he looked over to see just who was there he inadvertently uttered "Oh non non non"
This was comical for numerous reasons, not the least of which was that he just seemed to have blurted out his thoughts more than anything else in particular. I managed to translate what that meant into English though.
"Umm, excuse me! Non, non, non. There's a clause somewhere in your Salomon contract that states that you can not pass Julien Chorier. I think you need to step aside and revisit what you signed IMMEDIATELY you smelly Canadian bastard."
(Julien could not be a nicer person. None of what I said above was actually thought by Julien, at least not that I know of. He in fact came up to me post race and specifically commented on how impressed he was by how I was moving at that point in the race...before he laughed at me for beating me and jabbed me in the eye with a French flag...and he even apologized for not realizing who 'Gary' was in the moment. Class act all the way with a great sense of humor as well)
I had just passed Julien Chorier. If I'm not mistaken Julien had yet to be been beaten in a 100 mile race and his resume is stoopid stacked with amazing results. It was mile 75'ish and in that exact moment in time it was the best I'd felt compared to where we were in the race all race long. My Imagine Dragons song I referenced in my HURT race report
was next up on my playlist and the trail cut left and proceeded straight down. My adrenaline was pumping and within two minutes of passing Julien I could no longer see him behind me on an open section of trail.
I'D WON THE RACE! It was mile 75 and I was in second, but with all the positive emotions that had collided inside of me it was like a cheetah had mated with flying squirrel that'd co-evolved with a flying fish...that'd be one badass creature with wings mind you, I was dropping miles like I was counting in the 90's for distance and not the 70's.
Mile 75...76...77...78...79 into the aid station with cameras and live feeds and the unexpected 2nd place runner getting his fair share of early accolades.
"How do you feel?"
"Like this race is about 21 miles longer than I'd realized"
I was in and out without seeing that not only was Julien just over five minutes behind me, but he had now teamed up with fellow French legend and co-pre-race favorite North Face runner Sebastien Chaigneau.
I knew within a mile of departing the aid station that I'd given too much too early. I'd made a mistake and now I had to pay for it. This was my sixth hundred miler yet I should have and do know better than this. I was internally scolding myself as I processed just how bad the damage was.
Could I finish? Definitely, eventually, with a 48 hour cutoff at least I would hope so.
Could I catch the lead runner? Absolutely not.
Could I hang onto second place? Doubtful. It's not like Julien Chorier goes 'oh I was passed by a runner. On no no no, I guess that is that and this race is over for me, it was nice while it lasted'
Could I hang on to top ten? I certainly hoped so but honestly I was in a bad spot and I knew it.
Head down, go to work. Don't think, just do. One foot in front of the other. Eat, drink, repeat. Distract the mind as much as possible. Try not to look at the mileage on the Ambit
as it's clicking off slower than paint drying. Try to stay positive. Try not to freak out at the fact that Julien has just passed me while I was filling my water bottle at the next water station. I swear he shot laser beams through me with his eyes as if to say don't even f#@king think about trying that shit again!
Try not to look straight up at the fact that this climb appears to go on forever. Try not to freak out over the fact that Sebastien, who I haven't seen since mile five, has just appeared out of thin air and is passing me like I'm moving backwards. Am I moving backwards? Hard to tell but either way I'm giving it all I've got.
Seb tells me the worst is yet to come.
"Yup, steepest section of the race is yet to come."
Nothing, and I mean nothing on my course profile eludes to or prepares me for what's to come. I honestly thought I was about to the top of this section, the apparent last significant climb of the race, but in fact I was on false summit one of three and the top was a clear cut rock scramble. I LOVE rock scrambling, when I go out for a f#@king ROCK SCRAMBLE not for a 100 mile running race!
Foot hold. Hand hold. Foot hold. Slippery mud from the frost overnight that's melted in the sun. Literal movement backwards. Hand hold. Root Hold. Rope Hold.
Am I having a heart attack?
No you just wish you were so that you'd have an excuse to stop.
THE TOP! Shit you've gotta be kidding me. The downhill is so steep that I have to use the ropes on the trail to make my way down the supposedly easier side of this mountain. Only six more miles / ten kms of downhill to go until the final aid station.
A10. Mile 90. KM 143
They tell me the splits to the three runners in front of me. I laugh in their faces. I grab my supplies reminding myself that I'd still really prefer to finish 4th over 5th, and 5th over 6th, and 6th over 11th. I feel like the finish line is somehow moving further away from me. I detour to the actual aid station and literally twelve volunteers behind the table stand at attention and almost try to 'sell me' on their foods in front of them. They're wonderful. All of the Japanese people have been. Everything in this race save how I've actually run my final twenty miles has been wonderful. I take a slice of orange and everyone celebrates in unison. I realize I'm the first runner that's touched anything outside of my own supplies that my crew has laid out for me. I eat five slices of orange and they count off each and every one. It's comical and heart warming all at once. I thank them in my best broken Japanese and get on with my near but not quite death march to the finish line.
It's not the climbing miles that scare me it's the flat and downhill miles as those are where I'll lose the most time to my stalkers.
About 45 minutes later,
"Eight miles / thirteen kilometers, all downhill"
It was toughen up time and I was really struggling to convince myself that this would all be over shortly, and that the faster I ran the sooner it'd end. I walked and shoulder checked more than I care to admit. Then I caught up to the very last runner in the shorter STY race. The three sweepers around him were all but literally sweeping him off course. I detoured his way and threw my arm around him and told him how strong he was, how he was almost home, how everyone would be so proud of him. I knew he wouldn't understand the verbal language but communication and support comes in many forms. He found me on FB two days later and thanked me via google translator. I told him how much he'd helped me without realizing as much. I think in hindsight I was attempting to speak to both of us.
The terrain gave way to a steep gravel road descent. I leaned forward under the assumption that inertia would propel me forward and that somewhere tucked away deep inside I actually cared if I fell on my face or not and I'd prevent that from happening by moving my legs faster than they'd moved in hours.
I was too close to quit now. Too close to not win 4th place. We passed through a temple at the bottom of our last climb, right before the gravel gave way to pavement. The temple and temple grounds looked impressive and warranted stopping to appreciate them further, at least that was the latest argument that popped into my head as an excuse to stop torturing myself.
I could see the finish line now, though it was closer in sight than it was in running distance as we were to run an arc around the lake and across a bridge first. Purgatory. My legs started cramping. I didn't care. One mile. A half mile. A quarter mile. Nothing but cheers and applause. Nothing but smiling faces and positive energy and love. Nothing but pure elation.
Photo Credit Shinpei Koseki
Photo Credit Koichi Iwasa4th place.
The hardest 100 miler I've ever run.
The most talented field of runners I've ever gone up against in a mountainous 100 miler.
I couldn't be happier. I couldn't be more proud...in that moment I thought as much, but just sixteen hours and fifteen minutes later I was happier still, I was far more proud.
Thank you Japan
Thank you Kaburaki
Thank you amazing UTMF volunteers and organizers
Thank you Team Salomon, especially my crew who I could not have succeeded without
Thank you Justin Jablonowski and Rich White for hosting/helping me/us in Japan and motivating us to sign up in the first place way back in November
Thank you Kim and James for the surprise congratulations decorations upon our return home
My amazing crew. Photo Shinpei Koseki
I sincerely hope to return again and to ideally spend more time in Japan appreciating and exploring the culture and the history further. I've dreamt of going to Japan my entire life. I've dreamt of running an internationally competitive mountainous 100 miler since 2008. I've dreamt of being healthy and at the top of my running game since 2010. I've dreamt of Entering the Ninja
since I was five years old. Three out of four ain't bad I guess, three out of four ain't bad.
Photo Credit Shinpei Koseki
PS: I have an athlete page on Facebook now and an online like will help grant you three wishes!
If you like this page
within the next 24 hours you will find something amazing in your life.
If you like this page
within the next 12 hours you'll be rich beyond your wildest dreams.
If you like this page
within the next 6 hours you'll have the skills of a Samurai bestowed upon you in your sleep
If you DO NOT like THIS PAGE
something you love will be tragically taken from you while the whole horrific incident it is inexplicably live tweeted via my Twitter feed
. Feel free to follow me on Twitter as well, though I'd strongly recommend against it if you don't LIKE THIS PAGE
[Ed Note - A few hours after this posted, the video became password-protected. Try the password "injinji" and let's hope it works!]
Photographer/filmmaker Matt Trappe
shot an amazing video for Injinji
at the Lake Sonoma 50m this year. Great footage, and commentary from Dave Mackey, Timothy Olson, Meghan Arboghast, Galen Burrell, and Jacob Rydman!
Couldn't agree more. I've been blister-free in Injinji's for nearly a decade now.
Late one night after a long day of work, just before his 40th birthday, Rich Roll polished off some fast-food cheeseburgers as he watched TV before heading to bed.
As he walked up the stairs, Rich had to stop, bend over and catch his breath before he could continue. Sweat was on his brow. The stress and busyness of life on the partnership track at a law firm had taken their toll on the body of this former Stanford swimmer.
Instead of blaming his work or coming up with another excuse, Rich did what most people don’t. He seized the moment. He decided then and there that things would change — that things had to change.
It’s hard to believe that just two years after the staircase incident, Rich finished one of the most grueling endurance events on the planet — Ultraman, essentially a double Ironman-distance stage triathlon — in 11th place, no less. And the following year, Men’s Fitness magazine named him one of the 25 Fittest Guys in the World. (Oh, and did I mention Rich did it all on a plant-based diet?)
In this episode of No Meat Athlete Radio, Doug and I had the absolute pleasure of hanging out with Rich, author of Finding Ultra and now host of the wildly popular Rich Roll podcast, to pick his brain about the behaviors and mindset that allowed him to make such dramatic changes, going from overweight and unhealthy at age 40 to one of the most famous vegan athletes in the world — all in the span of about two years.
We’ve also got a special giveaway with this episode: to celebrate the debut of the paperback edition of Finding Ultra (affiliate link) next week (that’s May 21), Rich and his publisher, Three Rivers Press, have generously provided several copies for some lucky NMA Radio listeners! (I also somehow ended up with an extra copy of the hardcover version, so I’ll throw that in the pot too.)
Here’s how you get your hat in the ring to try to win one:
1. If you just want to do the bare minimum, leave a comment on this post. On May 21 (the day the paperback edition is released), we’ll randomly draw winners and announce them in the comments section here.
2. As the Chotchkie’s manager in Office Space says, “Look, we want you to express yourself, okay? Now if you feel that the bare minimum is enough, then okay. But some people choose to wear more, and we encourage that.” So show your flair and get a second entry by leaving us a rating and honest review on iTunes (and letting us know here that you did).
Good luck, and enjoy this inspiring episode!
Click the button below to listen now:
Download audio file (nmaradio12.mp3)
As always, please leave us a rating and review on iTunes if you like the show, so that we know to keep ‘em coming!
Doug, Rich, and Matt at DC Vegfest 2012.
Here’s what we talk about in this episode:
- Matt’s new baby update! (5:15)
- Doug’s vegan transition progress (6:55)
- How Rich went from being overweight and out of shape to being named one of the 25 Fittest Guys in the World, in just a few years (29:00)
- The panic attack and “moment of willingness” that Rich seized to change his life (33:40)
- Rich’s most important keys for people who want to get in shape (43:30)
- Why Rich trained at an extremely low intensity for the first several months of his training (45:45)
- Rich’s approach to strength-training (52:50)
- How Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week helped Rich to balance family life and business with training as an elite endurance athlete (54:00)
- Rich’s (and Matt’s) low-pressure approaches to raising kids on a vegan diet (58:00)
- The success of the Rich Roll Podcast and Finding Ultra (1:05:45)
Links from the show:
Thanks for listening, and special thanks to Rich for taking the time to chat with us and share his insight and wisdom. Check out his podcast to hear more from Rich every week.
Last week after I wrote a post called 10 Foods Worth Eating Every Single Day, something interesting dawned on me:
Most of the foods that I eat — and those in a typical healthy vegan diet (as opposed to the junk-food variety) — are Paleo.
Sure, the seeds are iffy. And I probably eat beans three or four times a week, and even wheat once in a while, which Paleos wouldn’t do.
But beyond that, the foods on my list, by and large, could have been eaten by a caveman.
Guess what? The converse is true, too. Most (yes, most) of a Paleo dieter’s foods are vegan. They’re whole foods, including a ton of vegetables and nuts, a fair amount of fruits, and no dairy.
Though we focus on the differences in our diets, and fight like pissed-off hornets as a result, the healthy versions of both Paleo and vegan diets look an awful lot alike.
Here are just a few of the things we agree on:
- Vegetables are good, and organic vegetables are better.
- Nuts are good.
- Fruits are good (with some qualifications).
- Fast food is awful.
- It isn’t natural or healthy for adult humans to drink milk meant for baby cows.
- Whole food is crucial; we should eat food as close to its natural state as possible.
- Processed food is evil, and there’s something very wrong with the system that is foisting it upon us.
Do you realize what a small minority these shared beliefs put us in?
Each day, 1 in 4 Americans eats fast food. Forty-four percent eat it once per week!
Only about a quarter of Americans never eat fast food, so we’ve got a lot in common already, without even considering our common avoidance of dairy. I can’t find a figure for how exclusive a group it is that doesn’t consume dairy, but and as NY Times columnist and Vegan Before 6 advocate Mark Bittman puts it, “Drinking milk is as American as Mom and apple pie.”
And we still haven’t even cordoned ourselves off from the masses who buy mostly processed, packaged foods to eat at home — the vast majority of whoever remains after we eliminate fast food and dairy, I’m sure.
Essentially, those of us who avoid fast food, pass on milk, and choose whole foods are the weirdos, in a world of processed food and rapidly expanding waistlines.
Even when it comes to meat — the “staple” of the Paleo diet (more on this in a second) — I think most Paleos would agree that what our factory farm system produces, whether due to the way the animals are confined or what they’re fed or what’s injected into them, is not healthy.
And the healthiest vegan athletes, by my judgement anyway, advocate limiting grains or avoiding them entirely. Very often they rely on pseudograins like quinoa (technically seeds) instead, which don’t jive with Paleo, but I think most Paleos would agree that seeds trump wheat and grains any day.
Basically: we’re far more alike than we are different.
So why do we hate each other?
I get that the ethical issues muddy things up a bit. Vegans hate that Paleos so proudly eat meat; Paleos hate that vegans try to tell them something that humans have done throughout our history is suddenly wrong.
But for now, let’s put that aside, and acknowledge that if all meat-eaters ate meat raised the way the Paleo diet specifies it should be, our food system would be a heck of a lot more humane (and healthy) than it currently is.
Speaking of meat, I asked my online-buddy Joel Runyon, what he thought about the vegan/Paleo feud, he had this to say:
The biggest misconception about the paleo diet is that it’s all about eating meat. Not true! Paleo is about eating whole, real food that hasn’t been processed a thousand times & packed with tons of sugar.
And as he explains on his new site, Ultimate Paleo Guide,
… that means no twinkies, oreos or your favorite breakfast cereal. Sorry, but we’re not sorry … if it’s got a bunch of chemicals that you can’t pronounce in it, it’s probably not paleo – sorry!
Gee, sounds a lot like how I eat.
We can argue forever over which diet is better. Guess what? Nobody is going to convince anyone to switch sides; the argument just entrenches each camp even more.
Who is to say what “better” even means? Do we look at pro athletes and see what they’re eating? Okay, in which sports — endurance, or speed and strength sports? Or should we instead choose not to look at the healthiest, most genetically gifted individuals on the planet, and instead focus on the masses of people who just want to stay reasonably fit and live to see their grandkids graduate high school?
Do we theorize about how humans are meant to eat, or should we look at empirical studies of how humans on these diets have actually fared? (Of which, unfortunately, there are few that isolate the variables we want and span a significant length of time.)
There’s no right answer. Sorry. But in the face of the obesity epidemic our processed-food society faces, it doesn’t matter.
That’s right — when you set ethics aside and talk about health, my view is that is that the distinction between Paleo and vegan is completely insignificant.
As time goes on and more research is done, it’ll be nice to have a clearer picture of which of these two diets leads to long-term disease prevention and health. That I wholeheartedly concede.
But most people — indeed, the 35 percent of Americans who are obese — don’t need to worry about which is better right now. They need to worry about not being obese, soon, so that the “long-term” even matters for them.
And for those people, people who are overwhelmed with the conflicting information out there and don’t know where to even begin, our blog posts and articles that trash one diet in favor of the other don’t help. Instead, they confuse, to the point of inaction.
Vegan ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll had an interesting discussion about this same topic last week on his podcast, where he talked to Andy Bellatti, MS, RD about the pointlessness of the Paleo/vegan feud. Before they even got to it, Rich mentioned a friend of his who wanted to get in shape.
Like any friend of one of Men’s Fitness magazine’s 25 Fittest Guys in the World would do, this friend called Rich. He wanted to pick Rich’s brain about exercise. Aerobic, or anaerobic?, along with other specific questions.
Rich’s answer? Get yourself outside and go for a walk. That’s how you get started. That’s as much as you need to worry about right now.
And that’s really the point I want to make with this post. Ignoring ethical arguments, which don’t have a place in a discussion that’s purely about health, the message that people who don’t know how to eat healthily need to hear is as simple as the dietary equivalent of a walk in the sunshine.
It’s a recommendation that Paleos and vegans alike will agree on: Eat whole foods.
What we could do instead of fighting
We want so many of the same things.
We want people to be healthy. We want farming to be separate from the word “factory.” We want our food system to provide us with real food, and to treat people, animals, and the earth with respect.
So instead of fighting, let’s do some things together.
The posts on No Meat Athlete about plant-based Paleo diets are a start. Dena Harris went further with it by creating PaleoVegetarians.com.
But these aren’t even what I’m referring to — these simply make Paleo fit into a vegetarian/vegan-shaped mold. They’re as Paleo as possible while still being strictly vegan or vegetarian.
Why not throw away the mold entirely? I think Vegan Before 6 is great. Why isn’t there a podcast with vegan and Paleo co-hosts, who get along and have intelligent discussions and promote eating whole foods above all else? How about a blogger who eats vegan during the week and Paleo on the weekends? How about vegan at home, Paleo at restaurants?
(If any these things exist, which they might, I’d love to hear about them. I’d probably be a fan.)
I’m not suggesting we throw away the labels. Vegan means a lot to me, for ethical reasons and for health-related ones too. I’m sure Paleos feel the same about their tribe. I’m just saying let’s work together, instead of against each other, for the good of everyone who simply wants to learn to be healthy, and doesn’t care how.
I understand that some vegans will be turned off by this post (Paleos too, but that’s no surprise, given the very rift I’m writing about!). We’ve taught ourselves to disdain everything Paleo, and I’ve met plenty of vegans for whom it’s vegan or nothing — flexitarian, pescetarian, vegetarian … none of them is any good if it’s not 100 percent vegan.
This is where I’m different. I’d rather see 100 people go mostly vegan than 25 people go all the way. 1000 people go Vegan-Before-6 than 100 go vegan. And I’d take a million Paleos over a million Standard American Dieters any day. This is why I don’t hate the Paleo diet, or its legions of adherents.
Oh yeah, and there’s a more personal reason I don’t want to hate Paleos. My dad has gone Paleo (or Primal, really) in the past year, and I’ve been happy to see the improvements — yes, improvements — in his diet and his health since he started. Which is convenient, since I really didn’t want to fight my dad anyway.
Before Paleo, he ate like most people did. Now, he pays attention to what he eats, making sure to have a salad every day, bringing fruit and a homemade sandwich to work, cooking most of his food, and avoiding most dairy and wheat. He eats meat, of course, but no more than he used to, at least as far as I can tell, and he cares about how the animals it comes from were fed and raised. He gets eggs directly from a small local farm you can go visit, and has even mentioned wanting to raise his own chickens.
I don’t think I need to point out that I’m not arguing for Paleo. I’m arguing for whole food, food that is easy to pronounce and prepare and doesn’t make a secret of where it came from. Call it whatever you want.
That’s what will make the difference in people’s health and in our food system, and it’s neither Paleo nor vegan. Whole food is both, and that common ground, along with tremendous passion we all have for healthy eating, is something we should leverage if we want to make a real difference.