Thursday, October 29, 2015

2015 Fall 50 Race Report

The lead up to this race was tumultuous to say the least. For the few of you that regularly read this, you know that. It was actually funny to me Friday night at my parents house when my sister asked me how I felt about it, and I was generally positive about getting the opportunity to race, being healthy, and having people to support me. Plus, I’d had enough good workouts in the past three months to think that the race might not be the disaster I worried it might be two weeks ago. 

Friday I left work a little early, but not much. Not having concrete hours I have to be at work is a big plus sometimes, like 2:30 PM on a Friday. I ran my standard 5k distance route at home, showered and headed north. I picked up Kelsey in Mineral Point who was eager to help support one of my races after I had supported her Wisconsin cross state record back in August. A short supper at Noodles and Company then on to Sheboygan. My sister helped support me on this race too, and here is her report, so it was a packed house at my parents Friday night and it was about 9:30 by the time I went to bed. 

The morning came easily and I woke up before my 3:20 AM alarm. I made two cups of coffee and had peanut butter toast. By then Kelsey and Berea were ready to go and we headed out at 3:45 AM for the long drive even further north. The drive was not entirely uneventful. We stopped at a gas station at like 5:15 AM, on a Saturday and it was open. Door County is not a populated place, I’m surprised that there was a gas station that opened so early on a Saturday. Then we ran into construction around I think Ellison Bay and I still have no idea how traffic was routed both directions through that town.

I picked up my number and sweet hoodie at the start then sat back in the van for 10 minutes. I walked around for another 15 minutes and did some leg swings. We ran into Dan Hovarth from the North Coast 24 and I thanked him again for helping me get to a hotel after the race last year. With five minutes to go I took my Team USA sweats off and headed to the front of the line for the last minute announcements. Then while it was still basically dark we were off!

Berea, Kelsey and I in the predawn rain!
Of course, I was burning with excitement, adrenaline and caffeine which put me near the front and after about half a mile I was in 4th/5th place running 5:52 pace, which is crazy, especially to be 10 seconds behind the leaders already. So I slowed it down some, and ran with Jeremy for a few miles. We went through two miles at 12:45, a good 30+ seconds behind the two leaders with several people close behind the two of us. I was thinking, ‘wow, this is a deep field… and people are going to blow up later.’ I settled into about 6:35 pace, which was faster than the 6:40-45 pace I had planned on running, but again, adrenaline gets me thinking, ‘oh it’s not that different.’ This whole time the rain was building. What was a drizzle at the start grew until it was a strong rain, with a decent 10-15 mph cross wind too.

I came through nine miles at like 58:59 or something, pretty excited about how well I felt. At almost exactly one hour the rain stopped. Shortly after that we encountered a steep little hill around mile 11 and I was passed by Chris Denucci and Camille Herron. I was taking it easy up the hill as they went past me and it was unexpected to say the least that I was on sub 5:30 finishing time pace and a woman was passing me. There was a time when I was younger when I had trouble running with the women. Part of that was being the boy in middle and high school that routinely lost to some women when we ran the two mile together. As I have gotten older I kind of see it as an honor now because the women that beat me typically have a far larger reputation than I do, and I like to race big names. I mean, she set an unofficial 50 mile world record! And I was right there with one of the best seats in the house! Another side of it is, I know how much work it takes for me to do this stuff, and I’ve got 4:31 mile speed in me, so when a lady passes me I respect her because she probably doesn’t have the same muscle or body composition I have and it must have take quite a bit of work for her to achieve this level. (I checked, she's run 3200 miles on Strava so far this year to my 1400 miles.) Finally, at the really long distances I think women have the ability to perhaps surpass the men. Look at Ann Trason, she often won races outright in her day. It’s just a matter of time before a woman comes along and runs a 160 mile 24 hour race.

At the 12 mile stop, I think, I took a gel and asked for a hat, I thought I said baseball hat, but at the next stop my sister had my stocking skull cap. So by the time I got the baseball hat on to keep the rain off, it was partly cloudy and not raining at all. Communication is tough!
It's early, of course I look strong.
18 miles in 1:58:5X and soon after that I was caught by Antony Kunkel and caught up to a 22 year old La Crosse student, I think he was Ryley, but might be a different person. It was funny, here I am in my short ultra debut running with a 22 and 23 year old that have both run more ultras than I. Anthony said I was his idol and he was planning to be on the next 24 hour team with me, and then we talked 24 hour races for a bit. Now that the race is over and I’m writing this a few days later, there is a huge difference between running for six hours and running for 24 hours. Ultimately it’s still running, you still need to be in aerobic shape, but the longer race takes everything out of you. It uses muscles fibers that don’t even activate until you’ve been running for eight hours.

Splits and Route
We ran together until around mile 24 or so. The marathon was passed in about 2:53:20, so about 80 seconds faster than I did it in training three weeks ago, only 3 seconds per mile. Then there was a steep switchback hill around 26 mile and I walked for the first time, less than a minute, but oh it was steep! I passed 27 miles in 2:59:06, slightly slowing in the third hour, but still on great pace. At the 28 mile aid station I took a package of margarita flavored Shot Blocks and saw that Tyler Sigl had dropped out and I moved up into 4th on the men's side and 5th over all.
The Fall Scenery was Great!
The last time I saw Camille and her bright green jersey for sure was around miles 31-32, and the three of them appeared to be about 90 seconds ahead of me at that point. Shortly after that I was pretty much on my own. I walked for maybe 20 seconds going through the aid station around mile 32 up a steep hill. I passed 36 miles in 4:03:2x, slowing down quite a bit in the fourth hour, still setting my 30 mile and 50k PRs in the process. Starva says my 50k PR is 3:26:59 now. I wonder if I could knock 27 minutes off of that... 

After the aid station around 32 miles the race got harder. I told Berea and Kelsey to only put 6 oz. in my bottles because otherwise they were too heavy, and my arms with having little micro-cramps when I would straiten my arm or rotate my shoulder to the outside. I have no figured out a good bottled system yet. I need to drink more, and have it with me all the time, but 20 oz. plus a bottle is too heavy for my arm.

Three things define a race versus training: 1. the mental attitude it’s a race; 2. competitors, preferably of the kind you can see or hear; 3. spectators, even if they don’t make a sound, the sight of them is encouraging. Without #2, at least seeing my competitors, and #3, except at the aid stations, it felt more like my longest training run ever, a really hard workout instead of a race. Sure I kept pushing hard because I wanted to retain my 4th male position, and the prize money that came with it, and I was curious how my body would handle this particular flavor of ultra run, but I really expected a pack to come flying past me, kind of like back in college cross country when the opposing team (MIT) ran in five person packs and they would go past me at mile two or three in an 8k race, and totally demoralize me. But it didn’t happen so I kept running.

There was a big hill around mile 39, very scenic with the yellow leaves surrounding the road, and I walked a fair amount up the hill. I would walk the steep parts, like more than 8% grade or so and then running the not as steep parts like 7% and under. Those are estimates, I'm just saying I didn't walk the whole thing.

It was quite lonely out there. Sometimes Kelsey and Berea would drive past and cheer or take a picture, but most of the time, like 4.5/5 miles there was no one cheering. It makes sense, but it's totally different from a 24 hour race where you are never more than 50 meter away from other people. At the 41 mile aid station I asked for hot chocolate, who would have thought! I was getting cold because it started to drizzle again and the wind was blowing, and after nearly give hours of running my body was not expending much energy to heat myself. This turned into quite the adventure for my crew. I thought the aid stations would have hot chocolate, but of course not, it's never that easy. For the record, if I ever ask for something in a race, and I didn't bring it in my bag, I don't really need it. Unless it's something ridiculous like a 24 hour race or longer, in that case you probably have time to go get it.

Oh the Pain!
I passed 45 miles in 5:15:something. Yeah that nine mile stretch was rough. At 45.5 mile was the last aid station and my sister must have known I wanted to stop by the look on my face because she kept saying, “Don’t stop, keep going!” as soon as I came around the corner. When I got to Kelsey on the other side of the aid station I took the salt pill, which we had a little fumble with but recovered well, and I took an entire 20 oz. bottle of gatorade, which was opposite to what I was saying earlier in the race. First I want less fluids, then I want more... Room for improvement.
Hot Chocolate!
I was really putting along at that point, my two slowest miles were 45 and 46. However, once I got those 20 oz. of gatorade in me, and knowing that the next stop included blankets, warmth, food, kept me pushing. At two miles I had looked back to see numerous people behind me, but then I didn't look back until mile 47. I rarely look back in race. We're talking, I can't remember the last time I looked back, it's pointless really, you need to focus on yourself. I didn't see anyone, but I was sure I was going to get passed so I kept pushing to hold on to whatever I could. It was so lonely out there I had no idea how I was doing compared to anyone else. It was starting to rain again, and it was windy. It was going to be a struggle with the weather the whole way. I looked back again with two miles to go, still no one, so I was even more nervous and kept pushing.

Finally I hit a mile to go, and I looked back a third time, and still no one! I wasn't about to get beat at the line so I pushed harder, which is not very fast at that point. A few turns into the park and then I finished! There was just one guy sitting at the finish line and he told me to keep going to the medical tent. I ran another 75 meters and stopped by the four medical people there. Then I sat down on a cot and drank a cup of gatorade. Berea and Kelsey were nowhere to be found, so I started walking over to the big event tent thinking they were inside out of the wind and rain. Then they came running around the corner yelling my name and I collapsed in their arms a moment later, exhausted from a long six hours.

They helped me walk to the party tent and I sat down on a folding chair as they put my sweats on me and gave me some chocolate protein shake to drink. I was really happy to finish as high as I did, to be surrounded by two wonderful ladies, and to have finished the race healthy! 

Kelsey and Berea nailed crewing. I give them a solid A. A few little things for improvement, but honestly I ran through aid stations, and most of the people that beat me actually walked. Coming from 24 hour racing, you need to have good aid station handoffs, you do it 70+ times in one race.

We went over to Kelsey's cousin's house for a quick cold water bath, which really helped my recovery. I ate some more and we cleaned up a bit. Then we headed back towards Sheboygan, eating a late lunch in Green Bay. It was a very good trip, and very long. It was about 6:30 PM by the time we got back to my parents house, nearly 15 hours round trip.

My goals going into it were #1 to be in the top five, to get some prize money, and #2 run under 5:40 to get my name on the provisional list for the 2016 100K IAU championships. Unspoken was to finish the race healthy and have a good experience, indeed more important than #1 and #2. I will take it. My finishing time was 5:54:33 for 7:06 pace average. Here is my Strava data. Also, congratulations to Camille for running 5:38 and setting the unofficial 50 mile world record by a couple minutes! It was previously an Ann Trason record. Also, Congratulations to Zach Bitter for setting the course record at 5:17! Honestly, they need to watch out, on a day with a little more competition, and not the rain and wind we had, both of those records could go down. It's not a really flat course, 1300 feet of vertical climbing, but it's not terribly slow.

Thank you to my parents for hosting everyone this past weekend! Thank especially for cooking gluten free and vegan meals, most people don't even consider doing that. Thank you Berea for coming up and helping out, a second time! I'm happy this race went much better for me than the Italy experience in April and you could see that. Thank you Kelsey for coming and spending your whole weekend helping me run this "short" race! Thank you Howard for coaching me! I'm still going to argue some things, but I'm here, I'm healthy, and you helped me get to this point. Thanks everyone else for reading!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Building Goodwill

What do I do on these business trips I am always taking? Well, that's classified confidential. (Ha! Inside joke.)
Wet Day at the Office
However, I would like to write in general about an intangible aspect of my travels, building goodwill through enhanced communication, customer understanding, and direct support. I think this applies to really any brand, how do you build that brand? Well, you can get a marketing degree to figure that out, but one extremely effective method is being there in person with a customer, particularly when things are not going well. Sometimes in my current role that means I need to be out in a muddy forest two days after 11 inches of rain fell.

It's not rocket science but it does cost money to be there in person, so it's not free you do have to earn it. The other side is, I typically travel when something is broken or not working right, so there is always an aspect of calming things down and having a fix for the problem. So in short, a big part of my business travels are building goodwill.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Bones!

I'm working on my race report, maybe tomorrow it will be done. However, I wanted to highlight one of the lingering pains of running long races, bone pain. Typically in my feet, this particular time it is my third and fourth metatarsals on my right foot. It hurts a little to walk barefoot, like 3/10. I am sure it will go away soon, but three days after the start the muscles have calmed down and the bones have become the most painful. 

This is all part of the process. Recovery takes time, from running, from bad habits. Again, this weekend was pretty great! I can walk slowly for a few days, and despite asymmetric pain in my body I am not limping at all!

Monday, October 26, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 226

It was a quiet week in Iowa. I went to work, and I worked, but it was not a very busy week for me. A few important meetings regarding future work, and some really great communication, but on my part not really much technical work. Speaking of communication, wow! Communication is so important, especially when it comes to working with other countries and other cultures. Specifically I mean meetings, both virtual and face to face, need to happen otherwise the ideas of acceptable and not acceptable will diverge. In many cases, acceptable and not acceptable are really negotiable, depending on the myriad variables involved. Simply adding cost to something, through extensive testing or more overhead, does not necessarily make it any better.

Running was really great! After a somewhat depressing week prior, I took a step back and did a couple nine mile runs around the weekend and then continued to taper for the Fall 50. Wednesday I had a little 3 x 2 minute fartlek workout and it went way better than expected. I know it was just a little workout, but I was running the fastest paces I have run in three weeks, at not a terribly hard effort. It gave me a lot of confidence. I don't always understand why things happen the way they do, but I trust God has everything figured out and my coach Howard is working to get me to the right places too. I've done the Emil Zatopek crash taper a couple times and it often works, it's just not at all the way I want to taper.

Saturday I ran the Fall 50 in Door County finishing 5th overall and 4th male in a time of 5:54:33! Needless to say it was a great experience, and one that certainly will get it's own blog post in the next few days.

Also of note I replaced the 1.1 kWh hybrid battery on my Honda Insight, you can see the old and new sitting on the floor in the photo below. I mean to write a blog post about that too. Overall, it was very easy, no grease was involved in the repair and simply washing my hands after it was done was all the clean up needed. I did buy a new 1/4" socket set, because I didn't have any sockets, I spent maybe $35 on new tools, which I consider not bad at all. Now I have 20 different small socket sizes too, with two different extensions.
The old Insight battery is about to be replaced by the new.
This coming week I am traveling to Louisiana for work, which means I will have lots of wifi access and someone should bug me to upload my Mt. Rainier video from September, because it's good and you guys would like it.

Friday, October 23, 2015

For the Most Part, They Don't Care

One click leads to another click, which lead me to this article about depression and eating disorders. Towards the end of the article it mentions how there is backlash for sharing personal information on the Internet. That is totally true, but in my experience the negative backlash of people who say "you're going to regret sharing..." is far outweighed by the people that say, "I read your blog...and liked it." Furthermore, while people being fired for posts on social media does happen, and it's something everyone needs to think about before posting that picture you will regret, in large part I don't think employers really care. I mean, they pay people to do a job, and how well can you restrict what people do on their off time?

We all have baggage. We have all done things that are wrong, things worth regretting. In many ways it is harder now to hide those things like you might have been able 30 years ago. Point being, for the most part, no one really cares that you post your personal struggles.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Replacing the Battery

When this is over I may write a better write up of the experience, but for tonight, just a taste. In the spirit of Back to the Future day I'm working on my strange looking car's propulsion system. Unfortunately, it's nowhere near as cool as Mr. Fusion.
Well I ripped into my 2002 Honda Insight and started to replace the 75 pound hybrid battery. The battery has been bad for a month, and I finally bought the replacement which cost more than I paid for the car. The good news is, I'm learning a lot about Honda engineering. They use what appear to be M4s all with 10 mm hex heads, and these neat washers built on the bolt.
Sure I'm sure it must be a little expensive but you can't drop just a washer. Plus, using just the one wrench size is really great. Also, their welding frankly isn't that impressive.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bad Mobile Websites

I hope this website works well on phones and I do check it sometimes to make sure. Some media companies don't seem to check. They publish content and it's hard to maneuver through. Some examples from just tonight:
The text takes up just 20% of the screen, that is clearly not enough. 
I understand advertising is needed to make money, but when a banner ads at the bottom needs an ad taking up 2/3rds of the central part of the screen it becomes hard to scroll without clicking the link. 

Mobile is a big thing in the world of the Internet. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 225

My post yesterday about being scared of turning 30 is really where all the juicy recent life events are. My life is pretty great. I have the best life in the world. That gets forgotten sometimes when I get greedy. ...which is all too often.

Work is going well. Quite well actually. I have some good news to share about my career, but I will wait until I know it has been shared with everyone I work with first... meaning I have to bring in food to work, haha. It's looking like I might get to do some international travel as well before the end of the year. We shall see.

Running is going better than I am letting on. 54 miles last week, the semblance of a long run and two workouts, although none are really events I am particularly eager to repeat. I'm fairly convinced I had a mild burnout and just need some time to recover. This has happened several times in the past. Training goes well, and then in the month or so leading up to the end of the season workouts and races do not go at all how it seems they should for the level of workouts I was just doing, then BAM! Big PR. We shall see.

Event of the week is this coming weekend, the Fall 50!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Scared of Turning 30: Part 2

What is the point? Specifically for me, what is the point of my life? And even more specifically, if I am not training and saving to return to Everest, what is the point? When I expressed that idea Saturday night, I realized I was already lost. 

Suffering is a good thing, and I’ve been suffering a little the last couple weeks. More so in my head than in reality, I mean my life is pretty great, but some of the the things on my mind have been troubling. “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.” Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 

Let me rewind a little. Running hasn’t been going so well since I crushed a 27 mile run in three hours flat two weeks ago. Unsurprisingly, I just wasn’t quite ready to be doing the workouts I was at the paces I was, so I went over the limit and now am recovering. This caused anger to build inside me. In large part because I had planned to do two 50 mile races this fall. I’m registered for one, Saturday, the other I’m doubting I will do. It’s frustrating because I spend $200 to register for one of these races and when once again the build up does not go so well I hesitate to even step to the starting line. I’ve registered for CIM in Sacramento three times but only ran it once. It is an expensive hobby to register for a race I do not run. It’s a painful hobby to try and run a race I am not prepared for. All of that being said, I’ve had the Zatopek syndrome for a taper happen several times with good results, and I think… that is quite likely what is happening this time around too. 

On a drastically different topic, I have a relative that has cancer. It's stage three. What do you say? What can I do? I guess that's part of growing older?

Changing subjects totally, I am legally, and Facebook officially, single. There is a woman I am interested in that returns my affection, and it is great! However, in my mind, which is somewhat apart from reality, I think, ‘I need to grab her and lock her down, because I might not get another chance!’ The very next thought is, ‘Are you kidding? I am not sure I am ready to leave my independent bachelor lifestyle yet. Plus, while we are similar in some great ways, we are pretty far apart in some other important ways.’ The reason I am admitting to any of this is because I hope it might help other people understand their own feelings. The point being, because of my lack of relationship experience and my increasing age I feel the need to rush things, which is stupid and could easily lead to making bad decisions, and still I feel that way.

Again a totally different subject, Saturday afternoon I went rock climbing with a good friend. We had pizza afterward in Galena and he asked, “So, are you going to Everest next year?”

I replied with, “I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I’m leaning towards going back next year.” After some other discussion I said, “If I don’t go back, what’s the point?” I was referring to saving money and my general frugal lifestyle, and in part the career choices I have made. As soon as I said it, I realized I was lost. 

Sunday morning, today, I went to church and the sermon was based on Mark 10:23-31 and Ecclesiastes 5:10-20, specifically Mark 10:28, “Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”” The sermon was about how we never seem to have enough, we always want more, more, more and how we see ourselves as such good people, but we are not good people, and we can never do enough good works to earn eternal life, even if you sell everything you have and give it to the poor.  Our gifts, like eternal life, are from God, and as it says in verse 27, “…all things are possible with God.” And as that relates to the Ecclesiastes passage, it is good for us to be content with our lives, and be happy in our work, because ultimately none of us can solve poverty on our own and on the opposite side of generosity having more will not placate desire. 

In other words, I want more. I want to climb Mt. Everest without bottled oxygen, I want to run fast races, and I want to spend my life with an amazing woman, but in all these things I seem to want them to go my way, on my terms, because I know best. HA! I love it when I get to this point in an article and I feel like some stupid part of me has been ripped out and exposed so that a better part of me might grow stronger. I don’t know what’s best for me. However, this micro distress of questioning myself the last two weeks has brought about some good results already. First to draw me closer to God, and I’m sure people are uncomfortable reading this, and it’s uncomfortable to write it, but it is easy compared to the negativity that overran my brain this past week at various time. Second, strait from Ecclesiastes, one of my favorite books of the Bible, “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work - that is a gift of God.” As that relates to me in these recent circumstances, I’m running a 50 mile race Saturday. I don’t know how it will go. There is an outside chance I could win. There is a chance I DNF. Regardless of the outcome, I am able to attempt something that so few people have the ability to do, and I will have a support crew of friends and family along the way. How blessed am I! Regarding relationships, I am happy to spend time with a nice young woman, regardless of where our relationship might go. Plus, the other side of the coin is, what sort of crazy woman is even willing to spend time with me? "Oh hey honey, I love you and I'm going to vacation on a mountain for two months where I stand a 2% chance of dying." I mean seriously, where is my head at? For Everest, well, maybe I will never go back. Maybe I will return in 2016. In either case, I have the skills, and I enjoy being in the mountains, my time in those high places is a blessing the vast majority of people on earth do not know, and I don’t take that for granted. 

I don't know what the future holds. It makes me uncomfortable. But! I do know that everything that happens, no matter how painful is ultimately for my benefit. That, is comforting.

Friday, October 16, 2015


I read a recent article about declining college student resilience

And of course I thought about it in relation to me and my recent whining about running not going so great. People would probably describe me as very resilient, I seem to never give up. Depending on the task, or project, I do almost never give up. On the other hand I have quit at numerous things throughout my life, baseball, basketball, soccer, trumpet, acting (although you never really know with that one…), mountain guiding, and others. While I have stuck with some things far longer than many of my peers, like running, engineering, a job in Iowa, mountain climbing, being a vegan for a short time or going to church every Sunday. Yet I don’t really think of any of those persistent qualities as being resilient, yet they are. How many times have I thought that my running career was over? 2004 after high school, 2007 when I had a sesamoid bone problem, 2008 when I got plantar fasciitis, 2010 when I got a stress fracture, 2012 when I tendonitis, 2015 how many times? And it’s not over, I’m just being dramatic. At the same time, suffering on my own is hard!

I climb a lot of mountains solo, six 14ers in winter and four in summer in Colorado, just in the last four years. I like the challenge, I like the independence, and I like the seriousness, and moving at my own speed. There are always set backs, that’s why in seven winter 14er attempts I have only one summit. It’s an interesting little test, I drive out to Colorado alone, stay with a friend a night or two, maybe stay in my van a night or two, and then stay in hotels alone. The whole time basically burning with motivation to get outside and climb. I go out and get thrashed by the weather and then try again the next day.

Maybe there is a difference in time frames? A few hours setback is easier than a few weeks. Thinking of my college education, it was really hard! Yet I never really lost my motivation to be there. Running is the same, sure it has low points, but it’s not like I actually stop running. I suppose this article is really just exploring my own ups and downs. I will say part of it is community. Having a group of people to help comfort me when things are not going so well. In fact, I think lack of community is a big reason for the rise in loss of resilience. Younger people feel alone, because we don’t talk to people, we sit staring at our cell phones. We don’t all go to church together. We don’t have community dances anymore. Our parents don't always live in the same house. Our society is fragmented. Every additional division leaves more people alone.

What can I do? Build a community? Simply be a part of existing communities? Blog my sorrows? I don’t know. Am I going to Everest next year? I don't know. No one really knows the future, and despite how frustrating every single little setback seems, I feel that ultimately these trials are for my benefit. Still that doesn't make them any easier.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Who Has Resilience?

Who has resilience? It's a good questions and I'll have a longer blog post about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Everything Other Than Great Shape

Having been in great running and racing shape a number of times over the last decade, I know what it feels like. Everything other than great shape is not as fun. It is hard to go into a race of any kind knowing I am not as ready as I have been in the past. 

When in great shape I cool down after a workout at 6:45 pace. When in great shape 4:xx pace shows up on my watch occasionally in a workout and I have to slow down. When in great shape 5:5x feels easy, about conversational. I recently struggled to run 8 minute pace, and had a recent interval at 6:58 pace! That's not great training. Any time I have intervals slower than 6:00 pace, it's not great. 

It feels like, 'what is the point?' I've had a good career, why don't I just stop? Of course, I don't actually know what I would do with the extra time in my life. How many injuries must I have? My sesamoid bones in my right foot have been sore lately. As I have gotten better over the years that peak grows a little more elusive at the start of every build up. I haven't had a single 80 mile week this year, barring the 90 miles I did at the 24 hour race in Italy. 

Positivity and negativity are both spirals. When the negativity creeps in doubt goes everywhere, my fitness, my training, my coach, my diet, my support system are all suspected as not working. I usually try to spin this stuff positive, but I haven't had a great run in a week and a half, and I have a 50 mile race in a week and a half. I am tired. I feel like running away to the mountains for a bit.

When I was 25 in 2011 and running half marathon and marathon PRs everytime I raced I took it for granted and assumed I would obviously run faster in the future, and four years later I have not come super close to either PR. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Live in Georgia: Week 1

Ha! Georgia! No I have not moved, I still live in Iowa, but I only spent about 24 hours in the state this past week.

The week started off well with church and then a great 27 mile run at 6:40 pace! Followed by flying to Atlanta in the afternoon. In the airport I ran into B, one of my former UD runners! She works for Delta in Atlanta while finishing her second degree at UD. It was so awesome to reconnect with her on the flight down! I even dropped her off so that she didn't have to take public transportation. 

Monday morning started off working in Atlanta. I can't really say much about work without divulging potentially damaging information, but I enjoyed my week working in Georiga.

Just a couple miles from our hotel was Sweetwater Creek State Park, which features at least nine miles of single track trails. 
I was able to do all of my runs for the week nearly as scheduled, which is unusual for traveling for work. I did dodge one snake and jump another. Fortunately no run ins with an alligator. 

I was originally scheduled to return to Dubuque Wednesday afternoon, but the trip was extended first to Friday, then to Saturday. I made a trip down to Milledgeville, GA, a college town which may be the alma mater of Frank Underwood. Hard to see, but they were having an outdoor meal or banquet, in October!
My run Friday afternoon was a workout and when I finished it was 86F and I was exhausted! So I took a swim in the local river, and it was amazing! Is this my life?! I ate at The Brick in Milledgeville, which is mildly famous for an incident with Ben Roethlisberger a few years ago. I wouldn't mention it, except I sat at the bar and talking to the people on either side of me mentioned it. Also, Milledgeville is famous for being the capital of the Confederacy while Atlanta was being shelled by the union, apparently there is a museum. Yes, I would return, it's an interesting place. 

60 miles for the week, I put down 50 hours of work, but that doesn't include travel time, like waking up at 4 AM Friday.  It's so funny, I don't feel like my life is that interesting, then I have a week like this, and most people don't have jobs like this.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Up... And Down.

I'll get to the I live in Georgia post tomorrow. But for today, why does it seem so many things go in ups and downs? Positives and negatives? Highs and lows? I don't think it is dramatic to say that life is dramatic. Sometimes there are more exclamation points and other times there are simply periods. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

One More Day...

I'm growing to despise the word "more". Why? Because it never ends. More is always increasing. More has happened twice on my current trip. I'm happy to provide the support that I am, that's why I have extended the trip, it is good that I am here. Yet... It is tiring waking up early most days, physically working most of the day, going for a run, then eating out at some strange restaurant, and going to bed in a strange hotel bed.

So tomorrow is the last day I expect to be here, this week. I was recommended to try Georgia Peaches while I am here... Everyone is quite nice and the work we are doing is actually the first of it's kind that has ever been done, which is exciting, for at least one more day.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

12 Hour Days

Sometimes in the business world, as a salaried guy or business owner, something goes wrong, and you are the person to fix it, and it doesn't care that you've already put in your eight hours for the day. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

All the Lonely People

There is a lot of loneliness in the world. Americans don't go to community dances anymore. Most people don't have a church "family". Everyone stares at their cell phones instead of engaging in conversations with strangers. We like the political comments on Facebook we agree with, and ignore or argumentatively comment on the statements we disagree with. In our media overwhelmed society we listen to what we want to hear, and flee the uncomfortable situations, like meeting new people with different ideas.

I have no solution, no recommendation. I get lonely too. Well, perhaps the solution is to get yourself into uncomfortable social situations, like actually come rock climbing sometime, or go to church when you are invited, or speaking to myself, actually get out on that dance floor.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My First 50 Mile Ultra Will Be: The Fall 50!

I registered for my third ultra this morning, and first non-24 hour race, The Door County Fall 50! It takes place in two and a half weeks. Am I totally ready? Not entirely sure, but the last few weeks have gone well, I mean I just ran a 2:54:54 marathon Sunday during a 27 mile run, so I'm not doing bad.

This race is exciting because it's close to my parents house, so logistics are easy, just driving no airplanes. It's also the 50 mile national championship, in a year when the really fast guys are probably focusing on the marathon olympic trials. It will be a learning experience. At this moment my biggest fear is staying healthy from now until the race, and then during the race. Here we go!

Monday, October 5, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 224

Short summary, I'm writing this Monday morning before I head to work, in Atlanta, GA. The work week was good, not very eventful. The biggest news had nothing to do with anything I did. Frankly, I think we are all happy there was no strike by the union. 

Running is really starting to take off! I had two two hour 14 mile trail medium long runs, which is good, I really enjoy those long runs at the Mines of Spain. Then I ran two fartleks, and both went well with paces at a good range. I'm not in the best of shape, but I'm in the best shape I have been in at any time the last 11 months!

Saturday I road tripped up to Devils Lake State Park for some rock climbing, and we tried to climb a 5.12a, and I certainly cheated by using the holds of the 5.8 climb just to the left. Later we traded leads on a single 5.8 trad pitch, which I aided over the crux to keep us moving. Not our finest moment, but the leaves are just starting to change, the weather was warm enough, it was sunny with little wind, it was a good day.

It was nice to socialize with several different people, my sister at the start of the week, then a variety of other friends later in the week and weekend.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Feeling like a failure, is only a feeling.

Feelings are not fact. I learned that when studying eating disorders during a presentation I witnessed. The perpetual, "I feel fat" does not at all mean one is fat. In that specific case, typically the people that say that are some of the least fat. 

Seth Godin wrote a blog post about this that was published this week:

It's a good article. I fail a lot, yet I have the best life in the world. Sometimes I get labeled arrogant and part of the reason is I feel like a winner much of the time. Certainly my emotions are more complicated with both feelings of depression and arrogant expressions of success, often within minutes or hours of each other. 

The point is, attitude makes a big difference in life. For me, being Christian, and all that really means, is like the biggest success I can have, so hopefully some of that positivity, and really love, spills into the other aspects of life, even the failures, which truth be told often teach us much more than success. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Tentatively Accepted!

Without saying anything more than the title, it's a good thing. Like any serious agreement between two people or two groups it often starts with a handshake or a verbal agreement, before the signatures make it official. It's a first step. While you can certainly stumble on a later step, the first one is typically the hardest.