Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Exhausting Lifestyle of Running 100+ Mile Weeks

Tonight I slogged through nine miles of sore running. I'm not injured, or sick, and last week I did my first 100 mile week in a long time, maybe three years. I remember the days when I was younger doing 100 mile weeks and I remember the great workouts. Running 6:15 pace and having a conversation, running a 20:12 6k tempo, running 5:30 miles like they are easy. It's easy to forget the days like today, where every foot step was a struggle, when it is hard to get out the door, when 8 minute mile pace is as fast as I'm going to go. Yet as I struggled out there for more than an hour the hazy memories of soreness, exhaustion, and heavy steps came flooding back. All of those forgettable days I've had with those dreary runs, came back to me like a long lost fortune. Some people call these junk miles, but I did an 8k in 29:43 yesterday! Today my legs didn't want to run, they wanted more recovery. By running I slightly increased the damage, the microtears, in my leg muscles. My body will react by working harder to heal those muscle fibers and make them stronger.

There are a lot of lonely, forgettable, slow runs when a person is trying to be as fast as he can be. Yet in many ways those are the runs that make the race. When I am exhausted at hour 23 on December 10th in Phoenix, I really want my legs to keep running, and days like today make that moment easier.

Saturday, September 30, 2017


Show me the ultrarunner who has not had issues. I don't think that person exists. It's too much of a painful lonely sport attract people like a giant party. It's not just finish lines and after parties. The vast majority of it is out on the road and trails, alone, putting in the work so that maybe hopefully for that one short moment everything will culminate in a personal record and I will have achieved something I doubted was possible year ago.

Case in point, I hit the glycogen wall hard this morning on my long run, very poor carboloading after my run yesterday.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


I just finished watching "Black Hawk Down" for maybe the tenth time. I had an army recruiter in my dining room in the fall of 2003 and I am thankful that I did not enlist because surely I would have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. First of all, thank you to the veterans that have served so that we have a country where it is possible to voice descent. Second, I do not understand why you do it, why you go into harms way. Even as a teenager I realized that the danger of bullets and bombs was significant. That was ultimately why I did not enlist. If weather or conditions are bad in the mountains, we take a rest day, I've had dozens, but in a war, you have to go when it is time to go, regardless of the danger. Third, my appreciation deepens every time when a mountaineering person dies. Ueli Steck dying was a big deal for me, he was the best Alpinist in the world. If you take the risks, even 0.1% long enough, say 1000 days, the odds catch up with you.

When I was young and watched Kelly's Heroes and Midway war seemed exciting. Now that I am older, I cry. It's heartbreaking. Why do we do this? What is the point? The current drama with North Korea, can't we sit down with them, China, South Korea, Japan, Russia, and talk about what we want, and dare I say, our fears? I realize world peace will probably never happen, but I see movies like "Arrival" and I want it to happen. You can't threaten someone into being peaceful forever, the motivation has to come from within, when the person aspires to a higher standard.

As Josh Hartnett grows throughout the story his obliviousness is lost. It's hard to ignore the question, "what changed?" He did... what else? I am not sure. Frankly, if war only changes the people who directly experience it, we will never be rid of war. Many of the most peace loving people I know are war veterans.

I'm rattling on. I am grateful that despite the hardships I have faced in life, like my recent burglary, I still enjoy a life that is more privileged than the vast majority of the world, and I did nothing to deserve it. I was simply born in the right place and the right time to the right parents. Thank you God!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

I was robbed.

Life = eventful. It's Sunday evening and I'm laying on my couch waiting for it to get dark enough I can fall asleep. I'm exhausted from my 12 day round the world trip to India via Qatar then South Korea and home via Japan. Last weekend, while I was gone I was robbed, my nice blue Trek Madone carbon fiber bicycle was stolen along with my Garmin Fenix 2 watch, my Cilogear 60L worksack, an iPhone 4S, and a 60 Whr battery. And my house was made into even more of a mess than usual.

I didn't run today, I'm exhausted from the travel. It was a five movie type of weekend, lots of laying on the couch. I read about Irma and watched the news and it's all so heartbreaking. My friends in Florida are probably being flooded tonight. I saw people in India that will never have the financial wealth and physical benefits I have like healthcare. And the person or people that broke into my house ransacked my medicine cabinet probably have a drug problem, something they cannot control. It doesn't make me angry, it's heart breaking.

Why me? I mean, why am I not the robber addicted to drugs? Why was I not born into a low caste in rural India? Why don't I have any running injuries at the moment?

I'll be just fine. Pray for those less fortunate than me.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, August 12, 2017

When You are the Bully

I've been on both sides of bullying. I've stood there and said nothing as people are bullied. I said nothing because I've been on the other side, made fun of for being short or whatever the issue was. After you have been bullied, it's really hard to voluntarily be bullied again. So you stand there chuckling along as people make fun of another person. Where is the love?

To apply this to a wider subject, to North Korea, we are the bully. There is no conceivable scenario I know of where they would "win" in a war. Fortunately, it's a battle of words and not actions at this point, but that's how bullying often is. It's all just words until something violent happens, and then people are left wondering why it escalated so quick. It's no surprise to the bullied and it shouldn't be a surprise to the bully either, but it always is.

My point is that I encourage you to defeat bullying in your life when you see it because it's destructive at school, in the work place, and in international politics.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Thoughts in My Head

The following is a rough stream of thoughts in my head:

I should just quit. I'm so bad at landing. I can do just about everything else in the plane I have tried but I'm up over 25 hours now, and I still haven't soloed, and I'm not sure the end of dual instruction landings is even in sight. I feel like a failure. But isn't this always how it is? Most things I try I fail at. I just paid north of $400 today, spent 9 hours 15 minutes total on flying, and while the flying under the hood was really cool, and I nailed it, the landings sucked. I'm confident I can get to the ground in one piece, without crashing, but the landing gear is going to need more frequent inspection. Why can't I do this? Why am I spending so much money on this? I have basic status on United and American right now, why am I bothering to learn to fly an airplane?

Learning is so tough. I mean, I try these things and while I like to imagine I'm a fast learner, I don't think I am, I'm just stupidly stubborn enough to keep at it after everyone else quits. Look at me! There are tens of thousands of people just in the USA that could run ultras better than me they just aren't stupid enough to stick with it.

This is so frustrating. I need some encouragement, but of course I'm not going to ask for it. First world problems right? I can't land a plane well. Boohoo.

Maybe I should try helicopters? After all you basically just set it down. How hard could those landings be? I don't know. What's the point?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Deescalating the Anxiety

In the past month there have been three instances where I consciously deescalated the anxiety of a person or group. One at work, one in the Bugaboos, and then one I won't mention the situation. I've done this for years, but only recently have I been able to articulate it.

What does it mean to deescalate? According to Google/Safari It means to "reduce the intensity of (a conflict or potentially violent situation)." Anxiety on the other hand I think of as self induced stress.

First I'll tell the Bugaboos example. The second pitch on Pigeon Spire my climbing partner comes up over the ridge to the belay and the look on his face said "I'M FREAKING OUT!!" So I asked him on a scale of 1 to 10 how much he was freaking out, and he said "SEVEN!! ... six." So I tried to get him to relax a bit by looking out away from the rock and potential fall, at the gear, taking a drink, and telling him how well he was doing, making a joke, and basically having a comforting demeanor myself. When he saw how unfazed I was he calmed down, and really enjoyed the rest of the climb. Those are standard ways to calm a person down, a more advanced tactic is to escalate the fear briefly for a minute or few second even, because showing that it was all a rouse, an act, often gets a person too scared to laugh, to actually relax a bit and laugh. However, that can backfire and I've been sworn at before when I misjudged that tactic.

Second we had a day at work where everyone seemed on edge and stressed out, myself included. So I told everyone how well they were doing, we went for a little 10 minute walk around the parking lot, and again I tried to tell a couple jokes to lighten the mood. It's easy to get the idea that our little thing we are working on is so critical, and the reality is it can wait, the world isn't ending. I think it worked, the mood was a little better an hour later, and the next day people were in pretty good moods.

So, when you see that others have fear and anxiety that might be preventing them from accomplishing the task at hand what can you do?

  • Be calm, speak calmly, don't express your emotions with yelling and anger.
  • Tell a joke, not a crude hate filled joke, but something light to ease the tension.
  • Compliment the person with the anxiety. It's hard to be stressed out when people are telling you you did a good job on something. 
  • Give the person something else to focus on, a small easy to accomplish task, that only takes a few minutes, like coiling the rope on a rock climb, or emailing me the contact information for a certain person at XYZ factory.
  • An advanced technique is to briefly escalate the anxiety for a few minutes, a facade really, but in the business setting use something that is clearly out of your influence or irrelevant to the project, because you cannot "invent" a true problem, like you can while rock climbing. Then deescalate quickly so that the person with anxiety thinks, 'well at least this is not as bad at that terrible thing happening!' Here is an example: not scared person, "Uh oh... I think the rope might be cut." Scared person, "WHAT!?!" Not scared person, "Sorry, my mistake it's fine, it's just the way it was coiled there. We are fine, look this rope is rated to hold 6000 pounds and it's in perfect condition."

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Trip Report: The Bugaboos 2017

For years I have wanted to get up to the Bugaboos. They hold a number of "classic" climbs on great rock, they are remote, and the approaches are real mountaineering challenges, not the gentle trails of California and Colorado that lead to the base of many climbs. However, they are notorious for bad weather and "epics" which is to say people having a much longer day than expected due to any number of reasons.

Like any big trip the preparation started months ago. Fortunately, work gave us July 3rd and 4th off, so taking just three days of vacation meant nine consecutive days off! First I had to attend my cousin's wedding in Wisconsin, which was great! My grandparents from the other side of the family even drove over form Minnesota to have a couple meals with us too! Sunday afternoon I flew out of Madison and arrived late in Calgary, although at 10 pm there is still plenty of sun in the sky at that hour early in July.

Funny story about climbing partners... I almost always have trouble getting people to actually come on a trip. Trips are expensive, they take vacation time, they are dangerous and there is a very real possibility that weather will shut the whole thing down so you go home without completing the route.  I started by inviting the eight most experienced climbing partners I regularly climb with, and three were interested, however, as the date approached, no one was ready to commit but me. So I went ahead and bought my plane tickets. I've spent plenty of time soloing in the past and I'm sure I will in the future too. If you are going to climb a lot, you are going to solo sometimes. What that means is that I travel very fast on non technical terrain, but rope soloing is a pretty slow process, so I end up being pretty conservative about the difficulty of routes that I do. Anyway nearing a month remaining until the trip none of my main climbing partners had bought a plane ticket so I offered the trip to one of my new and less experienced climbing partners... and he actually said yes. If he had not said yes I was going to open it up to all my Facebook friends, because frankly, even a very basic climbing would allow us to do more than me by myself.

Monday we woke up and went for a little 5k run then started the drive through the Canadian Rockies, Canmore, Banff, and the 45 km dirt road to get to the trailhead. As we left the plains of Calgary and entered the mountains around Canmore and Banff I stared at the wall wondering, 'what is so special about the Bugaboos that I've never even heard of any of these mountains that are far more accessible and still huge looking?' It's a good question, until about two minutes before the Bugaboo parking lot when the modest Hound's Tooth comes into view.
Photo from the hike between the parking lot and Conrad Kain Hut with Hound's Tooth in the background.
The parking lot is at 4700 feet, and most of "the Bugs" are in the 10,000 to 11,000 foot range. The Conrad Kain hut is at 7320 and so there is a big of a hike, just under 3 miles to get there, which takes about two hours.

Tuesday we tried the Kain Route on Bugaboo Spire. Unfortunately, I led us off too far to the left and we ended up on the west face and I was standing on top of a giant attached flake with no noticeable cracks, bolts or pitons for 30 feet of challenging climbing. About this time two guys that did the northeast ridge route came down the rappel route, which overlaps the Kain route at that point, about 25 feet to our right. It was getting into the afternoon so we rappelled the last three rappels and then scrambled down simul-climbing with a rope because there is some exposure in places.
View from our highest belay ledge with Snowpatch Spire below us.
Wednesday we planned to go up on Ears Between on Donkey Ears, part of the ridge on Crescent Spire, which isn't much of a spire but a long ridge. We went too far to the right, did a different route, decided to rappel the back side when we got to the top. Then we got the rope stuck while rappelling off a rock horn, and it took a long time to get it down, but we didn't leave anything behind! We trekked out and what we hoped would be an 8 hour sort of day was more like 10 hours of mini epic in great weather.
Getting ready to mini-epic off of Donkey Ears ridge with Snowpatch and Howser Towers in the background. 
Thursday was probably the highlight because we actually summited Pigeon Spire. A 5 AM wake up, 6:05 AM start from the hut and then a long day hiking to the base and climbing the whole thing. I should mention, we roped up and had gear in the whole way up and down. Most groups seemed to solo, or be tied together without gear in, which frankly is a bit dangerous because a fall off the ridge would most likely be fatal. However, a group from Montana climbed in the same style as us and I think gave Jake a little confidence that they had some fear too. Here is the summit video I took as I belayed with one hand and operated the camera with the other...
Here is a video we took on the way down from the upper Vowell Glacier showing all of the main spires in the Bugaboos.
Friday we slept in again, after a little bit of celebrating on Thursday night, and hiked up to the base of Lion's Way, but we were exhausted by that point of three long double digit hour days in the mountains and decided to head back down to the hut to read and play games. Oh I napped so well Friday afternoon!

Friday night we had a small celebration of sorts in the hut with our new friends. What a great little place! And for those that aren't familiar I typically do not mention people by name unless it is a pretty public person, or I asked the person in advance, so I won't publish specifics about my awesome new friends.
View looking out the front widows of the Conrad Kain Hut at Sunset.
Saturday we woke up, had breakfast and hiked out. We headed to Golden where we ran into IFMGA mountain guide Jonny Sims who then took us paddle boarding near the head of the Columbia river for a couple hours than over to a friend's house for some grilling and jam band music making. I would totally recommend you check him out for a trip if you are into this sort of thing. A bit surreal really. Are all Canadians so nice? Nice or not we were invited to move north by several different people, which doesn't happen in every country on every vacation.

A few more notes on the week, we had amazing weather! Look at this forecast at the hut, it's what really happened:
I was stunned how many women were at the hut or on the mountains! Seriously, usually in the mountains it's 80%+ men, and this time I think it was close to 65%+ women. I was stunned. It's great! It's nice to see more ladies out in the mountains.

It's light all the time up here this time of year! Seriously the sun starts coming up at 4:30 AM and finishes going down around 11:30 PM, and oh yeah, we had a full moon this week too. However, the mosquitos are pretty bad, even as high as the hut.
Panorama from high on Bugaboo Spire showing Conrad Kain Hut, Snowpatch Spire, Pigeon Spire, and the Howser Towers
And yes, I would go back again!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Expedition 2017: The Bugaboos!

Jake and I will be out of cell phone range until Saturday night and if you want to follow along, you can track up via Garmin: https://share.garmin.com/IsaiahJanzen

I will also have Twitter updates from time to time, and probably a blog post when we finish. Tentative schedule is the 5.6 on Bugaboo Spire, 5.8 on Bugaboo Spire, 5.8 on Snowpatch Spire, and by that point, if we do those three routes... we'll see.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


"I don't believe in human caused climate change" he said. I didn't respond. As we walked I pondered what he really meant.

For Christians, "belief" is a strong word. We are told to put our faith, hope, and trust in the Lord, not in earthly things or people. I read a good article recently about how teaching climate science was not about facts, but emotion.

It didn't snow, at least snow enough to warrant a shovel, plow, or any snow removal equipment, this winter in Independence. It's an anecdotal data point, but people who have lived here for a decade or more say that it does in fact snow here, which makes it an interesting, four month long data point.

The glaciers are melting. Andrew's Glacier in Rocky Mountain National Park, just below Taylor Peak was the first time I wore crampons in the summer of 2004. I returned in August 2010 to climb Sharkstooth, and the glacier was totally melted. Again, I was there later in the season in 2010 than 2004, and it's one anecdotal data point, but for me that was a tough pill to swallow. I can't take someone else to that glacier to teach them snow technique, at least not toward the end of the summer.

The Khumbu ice fall on Mt. Everest seems to take more ladders and have more crevasses than it used to, according to the locals who have worked there for many years in a row.

The Khumbu glacier in 2016 was lower than in 2014.

In September 2015 I visited Mt. Hood, and apparently it was one of the lowest snow years, in decades, and with modern snow making machines and weather forecasting it was a surprise. We hiked up rocks and dirt for hours before reaching the snow.

Belief is not about facts, and facts are not about belief. The recent Tangier Island incident is a perfect example. The town believes one thing, in a person, yet there are facts affecting their life and future, which do not perfectly line up with what they are being told to worry about. Similarly when the "costal elite" scream that people should believe in this or that, it's a failure of vocabulary. Are glaciers melting, yes or no? Are sea levels rising, yes or no? In other words, it doesn't matter what you believe, the truth is the truth. The reasons for the facts... well, I suppose we have to leave something for us to argue about.

I'm not saying you should "believe" in human caused climate change, in the same way that you do not believe in the speed limit, airport security, or corporate benevolence as the purpose of life, or the answer to a given problem. I am saying that examining the evidence, and respecting the evidence and likely outcomes is just as wise as respecting the speed limit as you drive down the highway. The speed limit is not going to save you in the way that you believe Jesus has saved you; however, ignoring the speed limit might very well get you killed in the same way that ignoring climate change may cause dramatic coastal flooding.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Climate Change is Real

It wasn't hot the last few years on accident. It did not snow here in Independence this winter because the earth is warming. Hurricane Sandy didn't hit New York City by mistake. These recent torrential rains are not strange, we should expect more extreme weather events. Since climate change is in the news a lot today, and of course tomorrow will be another emotionally draining issue, her are the top five things trending on twitter:

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Birthdays are Depressing

"Everything is meaningless." Ecclesiastes 1:2. Birthdays are life's participation award. By any measure I've had an extremely successful year. I climbed Mt. Everest. I took a new job and moved to rural Kansas. I bought a house. I've climbed something like eight 14ers in Colorado, in the last 12 months. I ran a 7:10 100k. I got into alpine touring skiing. I even went on a couple dates, which leads into the depressing part.

Despite all of that incredibly awesome stuff, birthdays seem to remind me of the things I have not done in my life. Checking social media can be so hard. Classmates and friends getting married and having kids. Living in cool places, taking cool vacations, buying cool cars. It can be overwhelming, so I rarely open Facebook.

I hope that I motivate and encourage other people. I hope I do because I am afraid, based on only ever being myself, that left to our own thoughts we will be too depressed to ever enjoy our lives. Where I'm going with that, I'm 31 and single. I can count the relationships I have had on one hand that have made it two three dates. The vast majority of the time I'm fine just being alone. But at night before I go to bed when I am not working or running or doing something active I get lonely. Whatever, I'm not going to dwell on it tonight, at least in this paragraph.

Hopefully 2017 is the year I pay off my student loans, but this birthday serves to remind me that I am now 31 years old and still have student loans. (Yes I could have paid them off years ago but I thought that Everest was a better use of my money, and we can debate that in person sometime if you want.) The thing is, while I had more student loans than many people, I had far less, a third or less of what some people with engineering degrees have. Which just goes to show how crazy college tuitions have gotten.

To end on a good note, I remember being a little exasperated once in high school lamenting that I would probably eat processed meat on white bread for lunch when I got older, and let me tell you, I make way better sandwiches than that!

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Nike #Breaking2 Event

Wow! How cool is that that Eliud Kipchoge ran 2:00:25! Plenty of other sites are commentating on the event, so I'll just throw in my thoughts.

  • The drafting was the biggest advantage, both from the Tesla and huge clock (positioned high up so the people in the back row could see it).
  • The shoes are a step forward, but more like a 0.7% improvement rather than the 4% improvement Nike is advertising. I'm still considering buying a pair. Even 0.5% difference in a 100k or 24 hour run is tremendous. I bought the Adidas Adios Boost in March specifically for the Mad City 100k, and I averaged only 2 seconds per mile ahead of the guy behind me, with is within the realm of shoes giving that sort of advantage. On that note, I have some ideas for shoes that I think might be even faster than the current Vaporfly. In other words, the marketing gimmick that this event was worked.
  • Zersenay Tadese set a personal record by four minutes! Running 60:00, 1:06:50, that qualifies as running it the hard way. I think he finally got nutrition right in the marathon and I'm guessing he will throw down a 2:04 if paced a little better.
  • The weather was good, but a few degrees cooler might have been a little better, not cold, like 36F, but more like 46F might have been faster instead of 52F at the start.
  • Why didn't they lay down a rubber track surface instead of the concrete?!
  • I tweeted on Thursday: "The Nike attempt on Saturday will be thrilling. My guess is they'll be on record pace until like 38k, then it will be ugly." That was pretty close to what actually happened, they were on pace (2:00:06) at 38k, although I was wrong about ugly, it was simply painful.
  • I am excited for an actual competition with a similar format to happen in the new few years. I think that perhaps if the spectators of Boston or New York had been there they might have helped lift up the runners. I also think if it was an acknowledged competition, people would perhaps find that 0.5% improvement mentally. My vote is someone needs to build a 1000 meter oval rubberized track for distance events like the marathon. Surround it with trees on the infield and outfield and other wind breaks, like a workout building with big glass windows, in a cool mild predictable climate. Way better variety than a 400 meter track with a turf infield, but also easier than a concrete car race track. I would totally want to run a marathon on it, probably even 100k.
Pretty cool.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Ueli Steck Died

Here is the story from Alan Arnette, the best Everest season coverage.

Ueli was in Pakistan in 2009, as I was. He drove up the Karakorum, because we saw his name on log books as we drove up it. In 2016 late May, I believe he stayed at the Yak and Yeti when I was, ate breakfast just 25 feet away from me, alone. I never walked up to him because I was partly starstruck, didn't want to be that fan guy, and third, wasn't 100% sure it was him. Everyone at these mountain climbing things look about the same, fit, a little disheveled, wearing plaid name brand button up shirts, white, male, and mid 30s. Believe me, I wish there were more women in the sport.

After the fact I learned we had a mutual friend, so I sent our friend an email telling Ueli (although I misspelled it Uli) I would love to climb something with him. She forwarded it to him, unsurprisingly, I never heard back. The pool of people in the world who want to go fast on 8000 meter peaks without oxygen is small.

He was the best. The Swiss Machine as people called him. And now he is dead. He died the #1 most common way to die in the mountains, falling while climbing unroped. Everyone does it to some extent, and it's as risky as risk comes. Every year there is some famous or semi famous climber that dies while soloing, and despite what the best climbers say (including myself, definitely not a great climber, but not exactly an average one either) about soloing, it's dangerous!

I'll leave you with this video below of a speed record he set on a famous face, the north face of the Eiger. My thought is that he probably slipped and fell on something like the steep, but not really steep, section shown near the end of the video. Maybe a rock hit him. Maybe the snow was soft. Maybe there was some verglas.

He is survived by his wife. He had no kids, was 10 years older than me, and was a professional. Events like this make it easier to focus on running instead of climbing mountains.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Race Report: Mad City 100K 2017

Validated! It's really nice when a race goes down just about like I expected it would, and that "expected" was definitely good!

Training this winter had been going well, not great, or excellent, but well. I have to say that southern Kansas has a nice winter training climate. I would give my build up to this race a solid B, not a B+ or a B-, but good. I had two 90 mile weeks, a slew of 60 and 70 mile weeks, and four consecutive months of 500,000+ steps. As for specific workouts, I climbed essentially three 14ers in Colorado, had five 20+ mile long runs at sub 7 minute pace average, and two 4+ hour trail runs. My workouts during the week weren't bad either, nothing huge, but a 28:58 8k was in there, and maybe 30 miles total at sub 6 pace if I'm optimistic about my last ten weeks of training. It's all on Strava if anyone wants to see it.

I took a day of vacation Friday and drove up to Madison, arriving around 6 PM. Along the way I went for my final run on the trails at the Mines of Spain. They recently cut back some of the forest and it's pretty wide at the moment, which is nice. My parents came down from Sheboygan and after dinner we went to bed at a hotel.

Saturday morning started at 5 AM. After quickly changing, eating a bagel and having a coffee, I drove over to Lake Wingra to get my race number, chip, t-shirt, box of chocolates, and other goodies. By the time I had everything put together, and used the port-a-pottie for the last time, it was about time to start. The temperature was 39F at the start, so I wore arm warmers and a thin stocking hat for the first two laps.

The race is ten laps of a 10k (6.2 mile) loop. There is an aid station at the start/finish line, and then another one 3.8 miles into the loop. There are some hills on the course, and they basically all come in the first 3.8 miles. My nutrition strategy was to get handed a 20 oz. bottle at the 3.8 mile aid station, either gatorade or water, always with a gel, and then drink as much as I comfortably could and discard the bottle at the finish aid station. That way I would get to spend about 65% of the lap without anything in my hands, and yet get enough water and calories for the seven hours of modestly hard running. The first and last lap I had 8 oz. of pomegranate juice instead of a 20 oz bottle, anticipating not being thirsty, and just needing 2.4 miles to finish. At the finish line I basically didn't get anything to eat or drink until 70k, then I downed a Starbucks double shot espresso, and at 80k and 90k I drank some mango smoothie. I needed some protein later in the race. My muscles were not having a great go of it.

My pace goal was to run 6:50-6:55 per mile, 42:30-43:00 per 10k, expecting a finish time of 7:05-7:10. I thought that was a very realistic goal based on my training. Of course I want to break 7 hours! But my training has not been quite to that level, maybe another three weeks and I would have gotten there, if I hadn't managed to get injured.

The first about 1.5 laps I ran with Jesse and Gary, who was trying to set a master's record. When Jesse told us he was a 2:17:59 marathoner, I was pretty shocked. When he accelerated ever so slightly to use the bathroom I let him go. I mean, he ran at the last two Olympic Marathon Trials, and I think I probably have made peace on the other hand with never running in that race. (Ha! I'm not sure I want to accept making peace with that.) At that time I was doing just under 42 minutes per lap, which would be just under 7 hours for a finish time. I was pretty excited as I felt good, and the optimistic side of me thought, 'maybe today is the day!' Which is a thought that many runners can relate to. Soon Gary stopped to use the port-a-potties and I was alone. The nice thing about loop courses is that after a few laps there are people around you, as everyone has different paces.

On the 5th and sixth lap I finally slowed down over 42 minutes per 10k, and I was pretty happy because the first half of the race I basically kept telling myself to slow down and save energy. Then around 70k, the race got harder and I slowed down more than I wanted to. That is of course the point of an ultra, or really any race, to run beyond what is comfortable. My stomach rebelled a little against the gels, enough that I skipped eating the gels a few times, I think I had five total, out of eight bottles I had with a gel attached. As for liquids, I had about 60 oz. of gatorade, about 60 oz. of water, 16 oz. of pomegranate juice, 6.5 oz. Starbucks, and 8 oz. of mango smoothie.

What to say about the last three laps? My average pace was 7:13, 7:15, 7:23 on those last three. The whole time I'm thinking, 'Run smart. Don't blow it. Drink. Eat. Relax. Save energy for that last lap, but keep pushing. Thank you God for this day!' While I had a few issues with blisters earlier in the race, by 70k, it didn't matter any more, I couldn't really feel that pain over the lead in my legs. I was focused on maintaining good form, and simply running. I was trying to be in the moment as much as possible, not dwelling on the 15 miles remaining, or the 45 miles covered, but remaining aware enough that I would finish. A few years ago I read from Last to First by Charlie Spedding, and it was a book I could actually relate to. A guy that worked hard for years, and "failed" often, until he ran to 3rd place at the 1984 Olympic marathon. One of the things he said, at least I think it was him, maybe it was Ron Hill, was that he ran ever race to finish it. Which is to say work hard and put it all out there, but don't blow yourself up before you reach the finish, which I have done a number of times. So I ran this race hoping to finish and have a good experience and it was!

The last lap I thought that I would have extra mental energy and run a faster lap being so close to the end, and that did not happen. On the contrary, I was the most tired of any lap in the race. I ran my slowest mile, a 7:50, on the big hill going up to mile 2.8. Fortunately, while I could feel I was low on glycogen, I was not bonked. While I could feel muscle damage, it was not like Mad City last year or North Coast 24 last fall when the feeling of muscle damage was too great to continue and I DNF'd. When I rounded the corner with a half mile to go I was so excited, I put in everything I had to the finish. At the finish I raised my arms in joy, in thanksgiving to God, and selfishly for a good running picture. I slowed to a walk, and fell over in the grass 25 meters from the finish. 7:10:42.3!! Mission Accomplished!!!

I can't help but think of races like this (50k, 50 miles, 100k, and really marathon) as "middle distance". They aren't really long and super hard like a 24 hour run, or Nolan's 14, and yet they are way harder than a half marathon or a 5k. (Traditionally middle distance refers to races like the 800 meters, and the one mile, and in college maybe the 3000 meters.) Which is to say, a long time ago when I began to realize that the marathon wasn't going to be my best event, I thought it would be the 100k. I thought that would be my chance to be on Team USA. Of course, I wasn't really even aware of the 24 hour run at the time. After a DNF at this race last year and my 2015 Fall 50 performance, I was a little scared that I wan't going to have a good middle ultra distance race. That makes this national class performance so rewarding!

Thank you to my parents, my dad, basically the only person at the 3.8 mile aid station, and my mom who felt like she did so little compared to the support that she has given me in 24 hour races! It may sound simple, but having that support just where I wanted it definitely helped me run a good race! Thanks to Tim Yanacheck for putting this race on! A final note to all of you trail ultra runners, you should really try the roads for several reasons:

  • There are more opportunities to represent USA at world championships. A better honor in running I do not know, except maybe a world record.
  • For a moderately good runner like myself there is more opportunity for prize money.
  • There is less variability like trail conditions, or how well you know the trail, in determining your final time. 
  • You can actually register for the races instead of entering lotteries eight months before the race and hoping you get accepted, and are healthy then.

Here is the activity on StravaHere are the official photos.

Team Janzen

Split Calculations

Start01.2 seconds
1st Loop - 10 Km6.21441:57.36:45.1
2nd Loop - 20 Km12.4271:23:50.06:44.8 6.21 41:52.7  6:44.4 
3th Loop - 30 Km18.6412:05:29.06:43.9 6.21 41:39.0  6:42.2 
4th Loop - 40 Km24.8552:47:15.26:43.7 6.21 41:46.2  6:43.3 
5th Loop - 50 Km31.0693:29:18.46:44.2 6.21 42:03.2  6:46.0 
6th Loop - 60 Km37.2824:11:33.76:44.9 6.21 42:15.3  6:48.1 
7th Loop - 70 Km43.4964:54:53.96:46.8 6.21 43:20.2  6:58.4 
8th Loop - 80 Km49.715:39:45.16:50.1 6.21 44:51.2  7:13.1 
9th Loop - 90 Km55.9236:24:49.26:52.9 6.21 45:04.1  7:15.2 
10th Loop - 100 Km62.1377:10:42.36:55.9 6.21 45:53.1  7:23.0

Left Foot Carnage
Right Foot Carnage

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Independence: Weeks 12 through 35

I would like to restart my weekly series. Blogging weekly helps me progress toward goals by holding me accountable to myself for accomplishing things, or analyzing my setbacks. There are a number of reasons I haven't been blogging lately, and you might as well know. The reasons break down into either self consciousness of the ridiculous, which is always hard to share, and the logistical, which is frankly a little depressing.

  • After climbing Everest, and wanting to climb it for 12 years what is next? Other mountains aren't the highest, plus I used oxygen, so I don't really know how I can handle altitudes above 8000 meters. If I mention further goals, like K2 and G4... it's so arrogant even to mention wanting to climb G4, I'm not sure I have the skills to do it. Well, I know I have the skills, but I'm not sure about the technical ability at that altitude, even with training. Something like seven expeditions have failed on the southwest ridge?
  • I ran on Team USA, for the 2015 24 hour world championship. It was a dream come true. Being on Team USA had been the goal for so long, that achieving it left a bit of a hole in my motivation. In other words, there is motivation to be on your first national team, but the motivation is not the same the second time around. Here again, mentioning I want to be on a different Team USA, like the 100k, and that I think I could medal at the 24 hour world championships, possibly even win is so arrogant I feel ashamed just to think it. Haven't I already enjoyed enough success in life? How can I ask for more?
  • Logistically it's a lot harder to go out to a coffee shop and use my lap top in Independence than it is in Dubuque. I miss Monks and Jitterz. The one coffee shop in town closes at 5 pm, and 2 pm Saturdays, and is not even open Sunday. McDonald's doesn't even always have Internet. I'm not ready to pay for Internet, but I am the closest I have been in the last six years. 
  • The Blogger app on my phone has been super buggy, shutting down after 10 seconds when I try to type a blog post. When I'm only a little motivated to write on a work night getting shut down a couple times is enough for me to forget it.
After the North Coast 2016 where I only did 100 miles I took close to six weeks off. Everest took more out of me than I care to admit, the summer was hot, and that adds up to subpar training leading to the race. I don't like to admit it, but I still seem to get a fair amount of my self esteem from how my running is going at the moment. If you hadn't guessed, it's going well, I won a half marathon today. 

2017 has gotten off to a really good start for me. I've climbed two 14ers in Colorado in the winter, and have plans for a far more aggressive climb in March. My running is coming around to the quantity and quality that I would like, and that is necessary to achieve those goals above. Plus, I basically landed a Cessna 172 yesterday, and I'm only a 9.7 hour student pilot. While there are certainly challenges, and change is hard, I am adjusting to a new situation, and learning how to adjust. I think this summer I will do far more bicycling than running in the afternoons in July and August, not unlike June and July of 2011 the year I bought my bicycle. I just did not want to accept last year that I couldn't have an effective run in 90 degree heat. 

I will ask, if you actually like reading this, please encourage me, specifically though text message to my phone. While I blog mostly for my own understanding of the events in my life, I could journal and accomplish the same reflection, which I have been doing a bit of lately, but that doesn't share any of it with you. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Problems in Three Countries

I haven't been blogging for a variety of reasons lately. I need to really blog about why I'm not blogging, but that's a story for another day.

Today was a unique day, I worked on challenges in three countries today, not including the USA, where I sit. That included three continents too. I like to imagine that I'm a global citizen, an international businessman, and on some spectrum I am. Yet, it's not easy!

Business, like life, is full of decisions, and there are many possible directions. Deciding which way to go is challenging. I knew an entrepreneur who regularly said, "people are desperate for leadership" and it struck me as a strange thing to say. Big companies seem full of managers and senior level people.

In all three situations I was involved because people thought I would contribute, if not lead, to the best direction for us to take. The truth is, I don't know. It's one of my favorite sayings. The decisions seems to be 70% chance we get what we want, 90% chance we get what we want, and 99% chance we get what we want, of course we went with the conservative 30% on the first decision. I've come to understand statistics and probabilities much better over the past several years. Decision making is never 100%, if it was there would be no decision to make.

Getting back to the title, every culture (both country wide and the micro culture of a town or factory) is different. We don't all communicate the same, have the same priorities and pressures, and I struggle to know, especially when calling three other countries in one day, how well we are all really communicating, and accomplishing the bigger mission of distinctive quality, while also remaining as profitable as possible.

That's life.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Comeback

Tuesday night, yesterday, I ran a 6k tempo on the track, and it took me 22:12, which is 5:57 pace per mile. It's pretty exciting to be doing a workout at sub 6 minute pace, but it's also a long way from the 20:12 6k tempos that I ran back in 2011 and 2012.

I don't know what is next for me. In many respects I've accomplished what I set out to, I was on Team USA, and I climbed Mt. Everest. The motivation changes as I age. Yes, part of me knows that what I have done is not enough, not as much as is possible for me, and racing faster and climbing more challenging routes still call, and are very possible for me, but then again the couch also calls after work some days when I just don't feel like exercising.

Perhaps this is my seven year sabbatical from difficult physical sports? In 2010, being unemployed, I played a fair amount of video games, ran in the middle of the day, and read quite a lot. While I didn't like it at the time, applying for every available job I could find, in hind sight it was nice to have that break, at least for the first two months.

In the moment, it's hard to really know the extent that something has an effect on you. It's also terribly hard to identify having peaked. Meb Keflezighi ran his fastest race and won the Boston Marathon at age 38 in 2014. When I saw him at the 2007 Olympic Marathon Trials in New York struggle to the finish in 8th, I thought at age 32 his career might be over. A win in New York and Boston, and fourth place at the London Olympics later... I was obviously wrong.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

All Time Low

A song came out a few months ago called “All Time Low” by Jon Bellion and while I am certainly not going through my all time low, I am going through a bit of a low. Again, nowhere near the kind of lows I've had in the past. It's like the movie "Inside Out" where sadness can be a key part of our core memories that shape who we are. In other words, it's important to have low times as well as high times, you can't be emotionless.

My family had a fight while we were in Arizona. Turns out five days together with only one rental car is too much of us in a small space. We can’t even agree on when to eat breakfast. I like to imagine that I have an amazing family, you can call us perfect if you want, we certainly aren’t, but I can see how we might try to sell that image to the world, and put on a semi-successful acting performance. The point is, if even we have fights with each other, everyone must have fights with each other! As I mentioned this to several people over the past week many empathized with me because family gatherings and the holidays can be a stress as much as it can be a celebration in many families. 

To add to it, while I did climb a 14er in Colorado solo on January 2nd, which is a big deal, and I mean I didn’t see anyone else for 9.8 miles, I feel very much in an athletic slump. I’ve got to be one of the only people in the world who climbed Everest and is disappointed I used supplemental oxygen, it feels like a failure. Isn’t that bizarre? Of course it was a success! How could I feel it was anything but a success? Running just has not gone my way the last two years. There have been a couple good races, but nothing that really stands out the way previous races did. It’s been over five years since I PR’d in the marathon. I’ve gained weight. Am I done? Will I ever set another PR again?

Financially I had the best year I have ever had. My 401(k) made a lot of money in 2016, I passed new earnings and net worth miles stones, becoming more financially secure than I ever have been. But money feel very empty. It’s just a number, and it is so easy to simply want more. I reach a financial mile stone and I feel the same as I did before reaching it. Sometime in the 2030s I will probably become a millionaire, and nothing will change, partly because of inflation, being a millionaire in the 2030s won’t mean much. I write this because it feels like the feelings about my finances should change as they improve, but they don’t.

Blogging regularly for eight years has been a nice way to express things, to sort them out in my head and then share them with the world, but as I become more established, I wonder, what is the point? People don’t want to read about my privileged life. And they especially don’t want to hear that I feel like a failure far more often than I feel any signs of success. Maybe it's time to call blogging quits?

This is a key part of my personal motivation, the feeling of inadequacy, of never being good enough. Of course, as a Christian sinner, I will never be good enough to deserve Heaven, or even the wealth, in all of it’s many forms, that I enjoy here on Earth. So I feel even worse, which encourages me to be the best I can, but perfection is an unobtainable goal. I don't know. Do you want to hear these things?