The 26 hour wedgie: A Bear 100 race report

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I was not supposed to run the Bear this year. I was drawn out for Wasatch. During peak week (3 weeks out) of training for Wasatch, I realized I had mistook the trail work deadline and was not allowed to run. That was a bad night and I’ll spare you the details (but ask Tommy – his version is probably entertaining). The next morning, Tommy forwarded me an email response he had gotten from the RD of Bear saying that he’d let me run his race (two weeks after Wasatch). I was grateful to be able to utilize all the hours spent training for Wasatch! **Let me just insert here how awesome it was that Tommy was willing to do that. He was already signed up for Bear as his first hundred, so although it was to be an amazing experience for us both, it meant I could no longer pace him through his own experience nor be there at the finish line to watch him cross.

TRAINING:

I trained on roughly 45 miles averaged per week.  Some weeks I hit 50-60 but that was earlier in the summer.  The last two months it was closer to 40-50.  Ideally it would have been more but with two trainees in the house plus real life, job, kids, you know the routine –  I was happy with what I got. The weekend that Tommy and I had planned on our longest peak run of 40 miles, it rained like a mofo so we had to cut the run short and ended up with 28. I do have to say that I feel like I had plenty of time on my feet training with a lot of vert and technical in the miles I had. Quality over quantity. I had plenty of runs over 25 miles this summer, probably at least 9. I also tried to keep up with my once/week tempo runs.

NUTRITION:

The night before the race I ate a 6 oz steak, sweet potato, salad and at least 46 rolls at Texas Roadhouse. Protein, fat and carbs. The morning of the race, 2 hours before go time: 2 scrambled eggs, a piece of toast with jam, 1/2 banana, my Core Power protein shake and a piece of bacon. Mmmm, bacon.

My nutrition plan was at least 150 calories/hour at minimum. I had five 5-oz flasks of raw unfiltered honey that carry 120 calories along with lots of aminos and sugar per oz. I planned to drain a full flask every 4-5 hours and supplement with whatever sounded good of real food at aid stations. That worked until about mile 45 when I started puking (it was hot as hell). The thought of honey after that was worse than getting hit in the face with a giant log. I had run out of my usual electrolyte drink about a week before the race but “luckily” found some sample packets in a bag in my garage and put those in my drop bags. I realized at mile 3 when I opened my bottle cap and heard a fizzing sound that my electrolyte powder from the sample packets was rancid (it has a little protein in it). Taste confirmed. Doh. I had to fill my bottle with nasty Heed at the aid stations but hardly had any. I used salt tabs as my main electrolyte replacement, taking one per hour since the start and as many as 4 per hour in the most intense parts of the heat. Saved my butt! At the aid stations I survived on chicken noodle soup, watermelon and about ½ cup of Coke from mile 50 on. Somewhere in there someone handed me the most amazing stale and cold grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. Oh ya, shout out to quesadillas too.

THE RACE:

Good luck suckers! Also, I lost this buff during the race somehow and I'm pissed about it.
Good luck suckers! Also, I lost this buff during the race somehow and I’m pissed about it.

Mile 1-25: Loud Talkers and Mall Walking

Took things slow. Power hiked every uphill, mall walked or ran the flats (depending on the temps and if it was shaded or sunny) and crushed every downhill. The night before at dinner, Stephen Lindsay reminded me of something I already knew, but his phrasing stuck in my head and I repeated it during the race: walk with purpose. Not all walking is equal. There is a HUGE difference in a 16:30 min/mile walk and a 20:00 min/mile walk, especially over the course of 100 miles. Even on the last miles of the race, I forced myself to “walk with purpose” when I needed a break and kept it under 16:45 min/miles as much as I could. Thanks for the phrase Mister Stephen. The first 19 miles passed surprisingly quickly thanks to me eavesdropping in on a loud-talkers conversation behind me. I wisely picked up a cooling towel in my drop bag at mile 19 and kept it around my neck. Around mile 22 a sizeable climb began on an exposed part of the trail about the same time that the temps started cooking. I slowed my pace quite a bit, partially on purpose but honestly I couldn’t keep my breathing steady in the heat. People started passing me like crazy and I was getting a little pissed. The next miles into the Cowley Canyon aid station just never frickin ended but I maintained a steady jogging/power hiking pace on this long flat section.

Mile 25-50: My Nativity Cameo

The climb out of Cowley Canyon aid station blew goats. It was probably the hottest part of the course for me. I was keeping up really good on my water, salt tabs and honey (along with some potatoes and whatever from the last aid station). Kristyan (my crew captain extraordinaire) poured ice down my sports bra and my boobs were frozen but a little frost bite on the ladies was worth keeping my core temps down.

Please Lord, let me die. So freaking hot.
Please Lord, let me die. So freaking hot.

I wrapped my cooling towel, freshly drenched from the aid station around my head and tied it under my chin. I looked like I had run straight out of the nativity. I didn’t care about my biblical fashion because the heat didn’t seem as bad this way. After I reached the summit and started downhill, I started to feel really good. I passed a lot of people on the downhill coming into Right Hand Fork and came into the aid station on a second wind. No stomach issues yet.
I picked up my first pacer Jena and we headed out. Bless her heart for agreeing to this. She was telling me how it didn’t feel that hot while I was panting like a dog. Chatting with her kept my mind off of the miles and even though we were mainly walking, time passed quickly enough. I started getting nauseated and couldn’t tell if I needed more food or if food was making it worse. In these scenarios I err on the side of eat anyway, which I did and promptly started into the barfs. Poor Jena, who has probably never experienced the lack of pride that comes from puking out your intestines while you pee your pants at the same time. This was basically the highlight of miles 40-50.

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My pacing bestie Jena. Basically we are twins.
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Happy for shade!
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Climbing out of Temple Fork
She said to make a cute face.
She said to make a cute face.

Despite literally walking the entire section from Right Hand Fork to Tony Grove, I somehow came into Tony’s around 13:10ish elapsed time which was even a tiny bit ahead of my projections. I credit it to the “walk with purpose” pace.

Mile 50-75: Wedgies and Sing-a-longs

I came into Tony Grove feeling somewhat better because temps started to cool but stomach was still a little touchy. I changed my pee pants, addressed some hot spots on my feet and ate some chicken noodle soup and a cheese burrito. I spent a little more time there than I hoped (aimed for 10 min, spent around 15 because I changed all my clothes and had to fix my feet). I picked up Pacer 2 – Mr. Sam Jewkes. My nausea was gone and energy levels were back up so we made really great time, running a good portion of this section. Whenever I started to slow down, Sam would remind me that this was a good runnable section so we needed to take advantage. What an A hole. He did a great job of entertaining us all – us being every person we passed with his never ending portfolio of songs from high school choir. He reminded me when I needed to eat and mostly ran in front of me so I could chase him and that sweet never ending melody. We passed a lot of people. I was happy. We ran a good section of these miles with Kendall Wimmer, Jason Brock and Brady Adams. We were in and out of aid stations almost without stopping as I had plenty of water, temps were cool and I’d grab a cup of noodles and a sandwich or something on the go. I feel inclined to tell you that I had a significant wedgie from here on out.

Mile 75-Finish: Obscure 80’s music that no one but MVH listens to and Moon Walking

I came into Beaver feeling so good that I was able to slow jog even the small uphills. My crew was great, Sam had kept me fueled and smiling, and MVH was ready to roll as soon as I arrived. In fact, he told me we needed to leave in two minutes. What an A hole.

Beaver Lodge Aid Station. Kristyan's weekend can be summed up as a date with my feet.
Kristyan’s weekend can be summed up as a date with my feet.

I had zero stomach or GI issues and having some aid station food in my belly I set off on a decent jog. The feely goods left quickly and within an hour I was death marching up the hill toward Gibson Basin. I wasn’t sick, just sapped of energy. By this point, I had no panic or thoughts that I wouldn’t finish, I knew I was making good time. MVH just kept me running the flats and downhills and power hiking the ups. As soon as I ate a good amount at Gibson Basin, my energy was restored and we were again running the flat section called the Sinks. At one point I looked up to see Matt moon walking back and forth across the mud. I was jealous. He also got hot chocolate at every aid station. I was jealous. I was afraid it would bother my stomach or give me the shits.

Ranger Dip AS. 7 miles to go! MVH and his damn delicious hot chocolate. All I got was chicken noodle soup. I shall never tell him of my jealous rage.
Ranger Dip AS. 7 miles to go! MVH and his damn delicious hot chocolate. All I got was chicken noodle soup. I shall never tell him of my jealous rage.

I must give credit where credit is due here: horrible music. I have no idea where in the hell Matt gets his playlists but they are aweful. So aweful I love them. I think I spent at least 5 of the 6 hours with him wondering who the other one person on earth is that actually has the Flash Gordon theme song downloaded. Time went by surprisingly fast. Confession: I came home and downloaded the Flash Gordon theme song.

By the time we had hit the Beaver Creek campground aid station, I had a pretty good idea that I would be under 28 hours. I knew as long as I kept up my calories that my pace could stay steady. I was able to catch up with Matt Williams and Jennilyn about 2 miles out from Ranger Dip.

Matt Williams and I ticking off the last miles.
Matt Williams and I ticking off the last miles.

I started to get a pain in the top of my foot that was pretty significant but didn’t want to take the time to figure out what was wrong. I made good time up the last climb out of Ranger Dip and knew from there it was just a painful downhill to the finish. At some point along here I realized I would be under 27 hours which fueled my fire. I kept up with Matt W as much as I could. We crested the summit overlooking the lake just in time for the sunrise. It literally took my breath away. I yelled at the mountains “I’m happy!” probably 5 times at the top.

1 mile to go
1 mile to go

The whole way down I was thinking about how Tommy had probably finished a few hours before and would be waiting for me across the finish line. I remembered my last 6 miles at Wasatch last year and how I was able to run for a small section but mainly walked the last bit. I couldn’t believe how much stronger I was feeling this year.

The pressure of hoping I would make it was gone. I knew I had made it. The main feeling I remember thinking along the last few miles was gratitude. Grateful that I was still running at mile 98. Grateful to have a husband that could empathize with my suffering and elation. Grateful for Jena, Sam, MVH, Kristyan and Aaron for taking their time to be there when I needed them. Grateful for the morning glow on the aspens on the way down. I remember thinking that all of the barfing, peeing my pants, chaffing, exhaustion, legs begging for mercy for seemingly endless hours were worth that last 20 minutes of pure happiness. I’ll be honest, I was also thinking about that damn pain in my foot but I figured my season was over so let the freaking thing be broken – I didn’t care!

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I crossed the finish at 8:24am. 26:24 for 100 miles. 7th female to cross.  4 hours and 40 minutes faster than my race last year. It was completely unexpected. But then again, I somehow feel like my strongest version of me during these tests of body vs mind.  I had put a lot of faith in the very conservative first half theory.  I shouldn’t say “faith” because as a running coach, I advocate this with my clients.  It takes self control and letting go of anxiety to let people pass you.  I nearly ran the second half as fast as my first half.  All the walking in the first half both saved my legs and reserved my energy systems.  It also saved me from a DNF in the heat.  It’s been 2 days since I finished this race. I am still smiling about it. This is the first race I can honestly say that I raced to my physical potential. I started off this year with an injury that left me questioning whether I’d be able to run consistently enough to have a satisfying year. I am reservoir of satisfaction right now. Can’t wait to do it again.

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Empathy. Tommy finished in 24:37. He had one hell of a race.
Oh mommy
Oh mommy. She comes to all my finishes.
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Overwhelmed. My amazing pacers Sam and MVH who I owe my finish time to.
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I am a grateful hobbit.
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Thanks for smelling my feet all weekend. She took good care of me.

 

Product Review: Puma Pulse XT training shoes

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Most of you that follow my training blog know how much I advocate weight training in endurance training. I have spent the last 5 years inside the gym working on my strength, agility and power so that I can see increased benefits in my running. When I was asked to review a new shoe by Puma as a training shoe, I felt like I was the perfect gal for the job. I know my shoes. A lot of people make the mistake of using their running shoes as their gym shoes because they are comfortable. Running shoes were not designed with the fit or materials ideal to withstand the weight and motions used in cross/weight training. Lifting weights and doing things like box jumps will wear your running shoes out faster and potentially cause you undo pain or injury due to wear and tear in the wrong places. It is best to find yourself a good trainer shoe for your gym time and save your running shoes for what they were designed for.

Enter the new Puma Pulse XT. They were designed for both indoor and outdoor use (which is perfect for my training as I often add 400 meter sprints into my rounds of weights and cardio). The first workout is used them in included rounds of kettlebell swings, box jumps, dumbbell press jacks and 400 meter sprints.

The first thing I noticed was how lightweight they were for jumping. They also have a responsive footbed that supports both my heels and the pads of my feet as I landed my box jumps. I tend to get sweaty feet (hi, I’m gross) so the breathable mesh on the upper was welcome.

I thought it wise to encompass all types of workouts for a nice well rounded opinion so I slowed things down the next day and worked on some strength, coordination and endurance with one of my favorite heavy lifting workouts: Turkish Getups. If you don’t know what these are, you must Google them! I headed into the gym in my new Puma ensemble which included their latest line of workout clothing: the Watch Me Leave Tee. I’ll be honest, when I pulled it out of the package, the first thing I noticed was its short mid-drift cut and wondered if I’d even dare wear it to the gym. Aside from the short cut (which will be a huge plus for many and a huge deterrent for others), I DID love the scoop back (not pictured) and the material. It’s ribbed but with an elastic dryCELL material which allowed it to hang just right and good breathability. So on with the Turkish Getups:

The goal is to lift as heavy a dumbbell as possible, starting on your back and slowing lifting your body to a kneeling position and ultimately standing up, all while keeping the dumbbell positioned directly above you. This is not meant to be a fast movement. On the contrary, it takes slow, precise coordination and strength while having the endurance to keep it overhead through the full movement. The Pulse XT shoes have a great grippy rubber (as you can see pictured above) to help you keep firmly planted when you have weights in your hand (I’d say that’s pretty important when you have a weight directly above your face haha).

I PR’d my Turkish Getups at 50#! Hard work paying off or lucky magic new shoes? I’ll go with hard work but having the right shoes for the job is always a plus.

If you are interested in trying out the Pulse XT trainers or new apparel line for yourself, check them out at:

www.puma.com/en_US/search?q=PULSE

Happy Trails!

Kenz

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of PUMA.

Give me the dirty penny, I’m going to polish Mr. Lincoln

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I walked out of my sports medicine doctor’s office yesterday with some information I needed to digest.  The first unexpected news came as a result of an MRI I had gotten the previous day.  Since my last race a month ago, I have had a series of mystery ailments that have left me cautious and nervous about how they would affect the rest of my race season.  I have not been running for the last 2 weeks for fear of making some lower back and hip pain into something that left me on the sidelines for the summer.  The first news that he gave me was that the results of my MRI show that I have a congenital defect in my spine where an extra joint has formed between my lowest vertebrae and sacrum.  This causes my hips to move independently from each other during activity instead of parallel.  The result of being highly active with this type of faulty anatomy is inflammation build up and cysts in the SI joints from all of the friction in the extra joint.  The inflammation is always hovering right around my sciatic nerve which is the culprit for my lower back pain.

I have mixed feelings about this information.  On the one hand, there is no specific injury that needs to be healed and therefore no surgery or time off of training needed at this point (huge sigh of relief) because this type of defect cannot be permanently fixed.  On the other hand, I am left with a problem that although is only intermittently painful in nature, will be something I have to deal with as long as I choose to continue with a highly active lifestyle.  The solution to the problem is simply a regimen of anti-inflammatories or a steroid shot and just enough time off to get the inflammation to leave the nerve alone.  I can probably deal with that.  I suppose it depends on how inconvenient of a time it decides to be a naughty bugger.

One of the cysts burst a month ago, two weeks before a marathon that I was trying to PR.  I had no idea what the heck had happened at the time.  Based off of the acute pain, I assumed I had a pinched sciatic nerve but no idea why as I have never had nerve pain like that before.  I was pretty much bed ridden for 5 days.  The good news to that story was that I was able to get the sensation to go away with one week left before race day and probably no fitness lost.  Although I did not feel any lasting effects from the problem, I do feel like it took a toll on my mental game as I was unsure whether I could even run so close to my race.  Therein lies the second tidbit of information I walked away from the doctor’s office needing to process:

The doc pretty much told me that I wouldn’t have to deal with this problem if I choose to give up my love for ultra running.  BUT he also told me that as of right now, there is no damage being done other than inflammation so he wasn’t going to tell me I had to stop running.  Hmmm.  Is continuing on a path of training for what many people consider to be an “extreme” sport worth the investment of countless hours of training for a race I may end up sitting out of due to an untimely bout of back pain?  The emotional toll of watching something from the sidelines that you invested your heart and soul into is pretty rough.  Perhaps I take these kinds of things a little harder because 90% of my running passion comes from its emotional benefits.  High emotional risk for high emotional reward.  This was what I was left thinking about all night last night.

My conclusion: Life is simply a game of trial and error, of action and consequence, of risk and reward.  We take stories away from each experience that make up who we are and who we strive to be.  Those sweet moments when my body and mind are in a rhythm together have more value to me than any amount of emotional or physical price paid.  A race is so relatively short compared to the amount of time spent preparing for it.  And you know, when I really think about it – the thought of crossing the finish line isn’t what gets me out of bed at 5:00am to hit the trails. It’s the time spent ON the trails.  It’s the time spent running with people I love.  It’s the time spent being amazed at what the human body is capable of.  It’s watching perceived limits melt away on the horizon of my backyard peaks.  It’s crawling out of emotional and physical hell being a stronger person than I was when I dropped to my knees.

Give up all of that to avoid the possibility of temporary setback?

I’ll see you on the trails.

 

Photo cred: Aaron Williams
Photo cred: Aaron Williams

Kenz

 

Musings: An experiment with being happy.

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“I’m happy”.  One day someone casually asked how I was doing and that was my response.  I’m not sure why I didn’t just respond with the usual “I’m doing great, how are you?”.  I’m willing to bet the person who was asking didn’t honestly care how I was doing.  It’s funny looking back at that moment that I don’t even remember who asked me or where I was at.  Probably the check out counter at the grocery store or on a phone call with customer service.  I get asked that probably 10 times on a daily basis.  As do you.  That’s a standard greeting anyway, isn’t it?  I ask people all the time only half listening to their response because I already know what they are going to say: “I’m good, how are you?”  Occasionally I’ll get a response like “Oh I’m alright” or “I’m doing fine, thank you” and if someone feels like being real honest they will say “Not great” to which things get slightly awkward because I don’t know how much to dive into what has caused them to veer so far off of the socially normal and acceptable response of “I’m doing great”.

So why did I blurt out something so crazy like “I’m happy”?  Well, because…wait for it…I. Was. Happy.  That’s it.  I must’ve been having a particularly good day, enough so that when asked how I was doing I recognized this unusual happiness and stated it.  So while I don’t remember where I was or who asked me, what I do remember was the woman’s response.  “Oh!  Well I’m glad to hear that.  Good for you!”  She was being sincere too.  I completely caught her off guard.  I thought about this exchange later in the day.  It was something so simple, yet so different than my mindless responses and I liked the reaction I got.  The positive response I received made me feel happy.  I got more happiness from expressing my happiness and made someone else feel happy at the same time.  What a smorgasbord of happiness.  I decided to experiment.

For the last two months when someone asks how I’m doing, my response has been “I’m happy”.  I like the variety of responses I get back.  I have found that I typically get four types of responses:

1) Some people give a cheerful response as the first lady did.

2) Some feel so awkward that I didn’t stick to the script that they almost mutter something that hardly resembles English in their baffled scramble to recollect themselves.  I like these ones just as much as the cheerful responses simply for the entertainment factor.

3) Some people ask why.  These are fun too.  It gives me the opportunity to be reflective and self aware when I have to justify my happiness.

4) Some people act offended.  Yes, offended.  Well, I mean who the hell do I think I am to be so happy?  I actually had someone say that to me in a sarcastic tone.  They were obviously not as happy as me that day.  Poor them.

Most of you that know me well know that I am not always happy.  Okay, if you know me REALLY well (ahem Tommy and kids) then I may or may not be described as ornery and negative.  Annnndddd if we are in the cyber circle of truth then I shall disclose that I have this prevailing fear that when I die I will be remembered as a crusty bitch.  Yes. I often find myself wading around in my own cesspool of negative, ornery, crusty bitchedness.  Bitchy Resting Face is an actual thing.  I’ve been tagged in that video by more than one friend.  The struggle is real.  That means that over the last two months when I have responded with an “I’m happy!” I am lying at least 37% of the time.  I’m okay with that.  Want to know why?  Because the more I tell people that I am happy, the more I have to think about why I should be happy or what I have to be happy about.  That 37% lying rate is starting to decrease the longer this experiment in being happy goes on.

I started to wonder if my happy response would become as thoughtless as an “I’m good” as it becomes my new norm.  I don’t believe it ever will.  People will continue to be thrown for a loop and actually hear the answer I’m giving to their thoughtless question.  It forces them to give me a thoughtful response.  It brings a teeny bit of connection with other people.

Hearing two words verbalized by my own voice in my own ears several times a day has had a pretty powerful effect on my overall emotional health.  What a delightful and accidental experiment in being happy.  Maybe my children won’t have to write “Beloved Mother, Wife, Friend, Crusty Bitch” on my headstone after all.  Sweet relief.  The power of two words.  I’m happy.

happy

How are you?

Kenz

Tempo work: all runs are not created equal!

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I am smack in the middle of peak week training for the Salt Lake City marathon.  Things are going good, really good!  To be very honest (this is the cyber truth circle) I don’t have much of a love for road running anymore.  Once I started mountain races and ultra distances, there was no looking back.  It’s been nearly two years since I ran my last official marathon (on the road).

So why am I back to the road?  Since becoming a running coach last year, I have written dozens of marathon training plans.  I was curious to know how the sound scientific training principles that I am using on other people would work for me.  AAAnnnddd by the end of the ultra season last year, I was craving a little speed, a little faster cadence for a little change up to all the climbing climbing climbing.  My last marathon was a great experience.  It was the first time I had actually stuck to a training plan and it paid off.  I PR’d by 18 minutes.  But I always felt that I had the potential to be a faster runner than what was reflected in my finish time for that race (3:42).  Back then I didn’t fully understand that all runs are not created equal though.  I always kind of thought that you just went out and logged the miles.  In order to get faster, you have to get SPECIFIC with your running workouts.  Each running workout needs to have a purpose.  Each workout should be programmed to create a physiological change in your body that results in increased fitness – whether that be in the form of endurance, speed, strength, etc. and all of that depends on your individual goals.  If you want to become a faster runner, you need to train your body to be able to clear blood lactate and keep it below a manageable level.  Why?  Because when your body becomes more efficient at clearing lactate (aka increasing your lactate threshold), you are able to deal with a slightly more demanding pace for a prolonged period of time.  My last go around with a marathon, I was missing a vital piece to increasing my pace:

TEMPO RUNS

Some people call them Threshold Runs.  I don’t care what you call them as long as you are doing them.  Before I dive into the “T” pace runs, let me clarify that these are different than interval running (“I” runs).  “T” runs and “I” runs are done at different paces and for different amounts of time.  T runs (I’m not typing parentheses anymore so deal how you need to) are over a longer duration than I runs, therefore by nature requiring them to be a little slower than I runs.  I will dive more into interval runs in another post, I’m sure you are just salivating at the thought. 🙂  So is pace important in T runs?  YES.  My T pace and your T pace are going to be different because the pace at which my body will begin to clear lactate faster is going to be different than yours albeit possibly very close.  A very common mistake for runners to make is judging a run by it’s overall AP (average pace).  Example:

Monday: I run 6 miles with an 8:15 average pace (AP).  This run was designed to be an “easy effort” run.  I run each mile at a fairly consistent easy pace between 8:05 to 8:20 which averages out to an 8:15 AP.

Tuesday: I run 6 miles with an 8:10 AP.  This run was designed to be a T run.  I run an E pace warm up and cool down with the middle like this: 15 minutes @ 7:20 w/ 2 min rest, 7 min @ 7:20 w/ 1 min rest.

22 minutes of Tuesday’s run were run significantly faster than Monday and the rest of it was run slightly slower in order to recover.  Even though their AP is only the teensy weensiest (I like it, it stays) different, each workout has a completely different physiological response in the body.  I used to not understand this.  But now I do homekids and hot dang it is paying off.  If my training runs are an indicator of my marathon performance in 3 weeks, I will be able to satisfy my speed appetite early this season and move on to my créme de la créme: mountain trail racing, baby!

Don’t be deceived by that sneaky average pace when you are logging the miles.  You might just be getting an apple when you wanted an orange.  Now I’m hungry and hopefully you have a nice little tidbit of training knowledge to stick in your back pocket.  If you are interested to know more about how to customize running workouts that help you to a goal, let’s chat.

 

Happy Running!

Kenz

Throwback Post: Getting Authentic and Laser Boobs

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I received an email notifying me that my domain name from an old blog I used to post a few years back was expiring.  I was torn on renewal because I have paid to continue it a few years after posting due to a few posts on there that I really loved and didn’t want to lose.  I’ll be honest, most of the posts were junk but my all time fave post is one that I want to keep close to me forever because of the message it sends.  I decided I am going to let the old blog die but I wanted to repost one here.  There is not a lot about it that pertains to running – but then again, a lot of who we are goes into why we run.  I don’t think I have posted on this blog about my favorite race mantra (that may have to be my next blog post after this).  If you follow me on Instagram you probably have seen me post about it several times.
My race mantra and life theme is: I am fearless.  I will persist without exception.
The following blog post, written exactly two years ago explains the first half of my race mantra.  It applies to my life and my racing:
BLOG POST FROM www.sarcasminspandex.com dated 02/27/2013:
GETTING AUTHENTIC AND LASER BOOBS
While I was enjoying a running therapy session with Katie yesterday, we got into a very insightful ah-ha moment that I wanted to write about.  Mostly because I have found that if I put it down in writing, I receive better clarity on my own thoughts.  I am wondering if you can relate any of this to yourself…
I am an inauthentic person.  Most of us are.  What I mean by that is that over the years, we have created stories about ourselves because of the things that occur in our lives.  The real eye opener for me over this past weekend was to identify what stories I have told myself over the years, where they came from, and how I then have taken that view and started looking for evidence to support it in almost every aspect of my life.  Separating the stories from the incident itself and realizing that what’s left is just reality, just a fact that happened and that it didn’t define me, opened the door to empowering myself over the things that have riddled my life with misery.
When I was 7 (ish) years old, I was molested repeatedly by a neighbor boy several years older than me.  A few years later, I was molested again by a different neighbor boy who was also several years older than me.  They were completely unrelated incidences.  That was my incident.  The story that I told myself because of that incident was that I have no control over my situation, I have no worth beyond my body, I am not loved, I am not important to other people, and that i’m ordinary.  That is just a story, it is not reality.  Of course people love me, of course I am important to my kids, my husband, my friends, and of course I have control over my own situations.  All these years I have confused the story with the incident.  My payoff was that I was right and someone else was wrong.  I was justified in being a victim.  It was my right to be sad, depressed, angry and frustrated.  Just throw me into the pile with the millions of other people in the world that have gone through what I went through and i’m just another ordinary victim of sexual abuse.  By telling myself these stories and getting the payoff of being justified, the ultimate outcome of this was that I had thrown off the responsibility for my own situation.  Again, I had a right to be depressed.  But that just isn’t working for me, 20 years later i’m still in the same vicious cycle of thought.  There is always a cost with every payoff that I get.  And that cost has been meaningful and emotionally expressive relationships with other people.  I have lost the ability to love and be loved from people I have craved closeness with over the years.  And the costs have been devastating to me.  When I realized that the payoffs were not worth the costs, and that I am ultimately empowered to choose whether I continue getting my payoffs or do what i’m scared to do and be fearless, it was the most liberating feeling I have felt in my life.
Am I getting too serious here?  Do I need to throw this in to make you smile for an intermission?:
Here is my point about being inauthentic: I learned to be an outgoing, sarcastic, life of the party kind of gal when I have felt completely blah and apathetic to my own feelings.  This makes me feel like I can’t be fully expressive because who the hell wants to hang around a depressed person?  I am done with that story.  By being fearless (frick, this will take some trial and error), I believe that I can be completely emotionally honest and expressive and be clever as hell at the same time.  I am going to get what I want out of my life.  And part of what I want is to inspire others that you can get the same thing.  I for sure don’t have everything figured out and am accepting that I probably come off as a hot mess, but secretly I like that because it’s just how I feel inside being manifested on the outside.  Perhaps I can be relatable.
On a random note: I was searching my camera roll on my phone for a certain picture and caught this one that was taken on accident yesterday when we were doing human back squats:
I found it interesting that this was the face I just happened to be making at that moment and starting to recognize a pattern for me:
I am a crusty ho.  Actually, if I were to go along with the theme of this post, the actual reality is that I pull this same face often.  The story that i’m telling myself is that I’m a crusty ho.  See what i’ve learned?  Life changing.
I wanted this blog to be a little more about fitness and my love for it when I started and realized that this is just what came spewing out when I started trying to be more authentic.  I have some realizations about how these inauthenticities have shaped me as an athlete as well.  I will be working on that post shortly.  Perhaps I need to keep the serious thoughts a little more sparse so you don’t want to gauge your eyes out with your drinking straw every time you read my blog.  I promise shorter posts in the future.  And I promise to include all the totally inappropriate and offensive things that I do because something inside me wants to make you laugh that guilty and awkward laugh that leaves you wondering what the hell just happened.  Like shooting lasers out of my boobs and poking my friend in the nipple while wearing lingerie in public.
EPILOGUE:
03/01/15
Part of why I chose to become a running coach was because I have used running as one of my ways to be fearless. I wanted to inspire others to do the same.  While I in no way claim that I am an inspiration, I do hope that I can be an instrument in someone else’s journey to become fearless – both as an athlete and as a person.
Happy Running!
Kenz

When am I ready to take the ultra marathon leap?

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I recently got an email from someone that said:

“Dear Kenzie,

I wanted to ask your advice.  I have been running fairly regularly for the last 7 years.  Last year I completed my 5th marathon and was very happy with my progress.  I am thinking that I am ready to take the next step and dive into a 50k distance race but am not sure I am ready.  What advice could you give me to help me decide if this is a good idea?”

The email continued on with a little more detail about her running background and family situation.  I get emails like this fairly often so I thought I’d post some thoughts.

“How do I know when I am ready to make the ultra marathon leap?”

Perhaps it would be appropriate to ask you if you enjoy crapping your pants and vomiting on bushes.  “Gee, that sounds swell Kenzie”  Perfect, let’s do this.  Alright, jokes aside most people seek out the ultimate challenge because they are looking for just that – an ultimate challenge (and let me insert here that I have yet to crap my pants or vomit #winning).  So the real question is: are you ready to dig deep inside yourself and find out what you’re made of?  I think you’ll like what you find along the journey.

The truth is, there is no real set answer to this – no box of prerequisites I could list to check off.  If you took a random slice of the ultra running community and looked into their journey to their first ultra distance race, you would see such a wide variety of demographics and differing amounts of previous races under their belts that it would be difficult to find a prevailing common thread.  I know people that have never run a full marathon before running their first 50k.  I know people that have run 30 plus marathons before they ran their first 50k.  I also know a handful of people that have run a 100 mile race but never any other distance.

While my journey may be different than yours, mine is not better or worse than yours.  It’s simply mine.  Everyone that considers the leap has their own unique reasons.  It would be nearly impossible for me to make a generalized blog post telling you a one size fits all answer.

“So thanks but no thanks for the non-informative post Kenzie”.  My pleasure.  Before I leave you thinking I’m a waste of cyber space, let me give you a few points to consider:

1) Like I said before, most ultras are on trails.  If you aren’t comfortable or familiar with running on trails, you need to learn to be.  Everyone starts somewhere.

2) Do you have the time to dedicate to the training?  While training for a 50k really isn’t that much more than an advanced marathon training plan, you need to consider whether you not only have the time to log the miles but DRIVE TO the trails to log the miles.

3) Is your family life supportive of your time commitments?  I run with a girl that is an amazingly talented runner.  She leaves me in her dust on almost every run.  We have talked about her debate on whether she should sign up for the Speedgoat 50k.  While I have zero reservations that she is physically and mentally strong enough (if I can do it, she most certainly can), she has little kids at home making it difficult to get out on the trails more than she does already.  She can manage training for marathons by making up for some miles on her treadmill but getting out onto the more technical trails in order to make a race like Speedgoat doable would be nearly impossible for the next few years.  Family comes first.

4) While a 50k is only 5 more miles than a marathon, the time on your feet significantly increases.  This is due to the fact that you are now dealing with the elevation gains and losses on trail and technical terrain.  And let’s be honest, 5 miles at the end of 26.2 feels more like another marathon to most of us.  My PR on a marathon is currently 3:42 (improving that come April) and my PR on a 50k is 5:45.  That 50k was considered “fairly runnable” with minimal elevation gain for a 50k and very groomed trails.  Now contrast that with Speedgoat 50k which took me 10 hours because it had about 4 times the elevation gain as the previously mentioned 50k and very technical trails.  So even with my fastest 50k, I was on my feet 2 hours longer for only 5 miles.  Party time.  Still sound appealing?  Awesome, let’s continue.

Note that none of my points to consider had anything to do with how many races you have done, what your PR on a marathon is, how many miles per week you have logged over the last 5 years or how big your beard is.  While all of these things can definitely help in a lot of aspects, I don’t think they are absolutely necessary.  Would I recommend a marathon first?  Depends on the person.  Would I recommend that you have at least a year of trail experience first?  Depends on the person.  I don’t go around telling everyone that they should just go ahead and sign up for a race right away.  The benefit of hiring a running coach is that we know how to get you from whatever your point A is to your goal in the most efficient and effective way possible and in a time line that keeps you healthy and interested.

“So am I ready to take the ultra marathon leap?”

If you are to the point that an ultra distance race even sounds appealing, congratulations – you are 75% there.  If after reading the points to consider you feel like this may be the gig for you, feel free to contact me and we can discuss your goals.  I’ll give you a cyber high five and perhaps recite a motivational sonnet because I can relate to the seduction of the trails.

Happy Running!

Kenz

 

 

 

Cross-training workout: Robuster Complexes

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Many of you that know me personally know that my love for cross-training (mainly with weights) is almost as strong as my love for running.  The good news for me is that the former can benefit the latter if done properly.  For years now I have spent at least 5-6 days in the gym (3-4 during training season).  I have a pretty good idea of what works and doesn’t work now when incorporating it into a specific race training plan.  I have come up with some rules through research and good ol’ trial and error.  Although there is no one universally superior way to cross train, there are a few rules that should be adhered to in general for overall success in incorporating some cross training into an endurance training plan.  Keep in mind that this post is meant mainly for the running audience.  So to the rules:

1) The amount of days spent per week cross training is going to change depending on the amount of miles you are running per week and your overall goals for the training season.  For the most part I would recommend 2-3.

2) You can overdo it.  There is a delicate balance between cross training that will enhance your race performance and that which will be a detriment.  Let’s stay away from the latter please.

2) Each workout needs to have a specific purpose other than making you ludicrously sore.

3) Things that mimic the movements of running are the most common forms of cross training for runners (ie:// swimming, biking, eliptical) and although all great workouts, I feel that targeting specific areas of the body in more direct ways can be just as, if not more beneficial to your performance.

4) Utilizing the “rest” periods between specific movements to work on an area that wasn’t just being worked can both give you the most bang for your time and allow you to keep your heart rate up (which has it’s own benefits that I will talk about in another post).  For example, instead of simply performing 5 sets of 20 pushups, then 5 sets of 20 squats, etc – superset those and add a cardio set in between supersets to allow your energy systems to recharge before the next superset.  It would look more like this: 20 pushups, 20 squats, 400 meter sprint x 5.  Yes, that means I just called a 400 meter sprint your rest. 🙂

5) Stay away from very heavy lifting.  I struggle with this one myself because I like it.  There can be a place for that in the off season if you’d like but generally it is not recommended for endurance athletes during training season.  Note that this didn’t say stay away from lifting.  Just heavy lifting.  This is subjective, but usually things that only ask for 3-8 reps per set at that weight are because they are heavy.  Don’t do it.  The more reps in the set, the less weight asked for.  Think lighter and more reps.

5) If you are only going to spend 2 days/week in the gym, make sure each of those workouts is well rounded or that between the two workouts, you are getting a full body experience.  If you spend each time just targeting your legs and core (as most runners tend to do), you will miss out on vital upper body strength needed to carry you across the finish line.  Plus, what if you come across your friend who just hit a wall at mile 22 – who’s going to be able to hoist them on their backs and carry them across the finish line?  That’s going to be you with your newfound well-rounded fitness.

Now then, to the fun part of the post: “But what would one of these cross training workouts look like?”.  Awe, way ahead of you.  Here is one example.  It contains all 4 elements of what I believe are a well rounded workout, along with some nice VO2max training along with it to boot.  I will be posting workouts like this under the training tab along the top of my page so check back periodically for ideas if you get in a funk.  I am also happy to offer cross training incorporation into the training plans I write and as part of my monthly E coaching package.

Robuster Complexes

For time:

15 Robuster Complexes (10# dumbells in each hand for women, 15# for men)

800 meter run

15 Robuster Complexes

500 meter row on the rowing machine (can sub 400 meter sprint if no access to rowing machine)

Repeat once

 

Click here for a video demo of a Robuster Complex

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*I am working on a YouTube page to upload all of my demos to.  Won’t that be nice?  If you can’t view the video demo, check my Instagram feed, I posted the demo today.

 

Happy Running!

Kenz

Trail Runner Tabatas

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A lot of people have asked me to give them a workout that will benefit their performance on the trails.  Tabatas are one of my favorite types of workouts.  Never heard of Tabatas?  They are a HIIT (high intensity interval training) type of programming characterized by 20 seconds of hard work followed immediately by 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times.  Studies have shown that in just 4 minutes of this format of HIIT, you can increase both your aerobic and anaerobic fitness faster than longer more moderate training.  You can read more about Tabatas and their studies here.

I have been doing them for years.  Here is what I like about them:

  • Even someone with the worst attention span (this lady here) can handle 4 minutes of the same thing.
  • You can pair different movements for a specific target audience.
  • The best of both worlds people: aerobic and anaerobic in the same workout.  Me likey.

So here I have created a nifty little pairing of exercises in Tabata format that will benefit all types of runners from road to trail.  I chose to target muscle groups in the legs, glutes and core, although some of them will work your upper body as well.

Trail Runner TabatasDon’t have a hill at your convenience or stuck in snowpocalypse?  No biggie, do those sprints on the treadmill homeslice.

For those that are new to this type of cross training, a word of caution: go easy on those 20 seconds until you get used to it.  We don’t want you getting injured now do we?  You can increase intensity as you do this more often.

You should be nice and schweaty by the time those 20 minutes are up.  Also, if you are incorporating this into a race training plan, pair it with a few miles at easy pace (in other words, don’t do this the same day you are planning a tempo, interval or long run).  And on that same note, if you are new to these movements, you will most likely be a little sore so I wouldn’t being doing this the day before your 20 miler either.  That’s a good way to make a long run feel longer.  And by good, I mean bad.

If you need a demo of movements, here you go:

Jump Squats

Mountain Climbers

Burpees

Lunge Switches

Alright guys, let’s get our Tabatas ON.

Happy Running,

Kenzie

 

Product Review: ZeroPoint Compression

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An ultrarunning friend of mine from Canada had contacted me a few months ago and suggested that I test out a brand of compression socks and sleeves that he had been using.  They are based out of Europe and not as well known as some of the more popular brands in the US like CEP and Zensah.  I’m never one to just jump on a product bandwagon because they are willing to give me a few pairs to try out for free.  If I like it, I will rave about it.  If I don’t, I will post what I do like about it and what I would have preferred to see in the product.  There is a lot of debate about the effectiveness of compression in general and this post is not meant to address that.  I am a fan and believer of compression based off of my own experiences with it and thus this post will talk about what I like about ZeroPoint Compression’s product.DCIM102GOPROI have been product testing both the compression socks and compression sleeves for a few months now.  I have chosen to run all of my ultramarathons this year in the sleeves so you could say that they are been well tested.  I will just say right out of the gate that I fell in love with the sleeves initially because of the color.  Hey, I may have the mantraps to fool you but I am indeed a girl.  And a girl with a love for flashy colors at that.  But you can get flashy colored compression wear just about anywhere these days.  Nevertheless, hot pink calve sleeves are always a precursor to a party on the trails.  See?IMG_7453As opposed to CEP sleeves that have a ribbed texture to them, ZeroPoint’s design is such that you can see the different compression zones on the sleeves based off of the knitting design.  That’s pretty nifty.

I only paint the toes that have toenails, okay? #runnerproblems
I only paint the toes that have toenails, okay? #runnerproblems

IMG_7907

Once they are put on, I can immediately feel the graduated compression from the bottom of the sleeve near my ankle, gradually decreasing in pressure upwards toward the top of the sleeve.  As a side note, they make a compression ankle sock (I have yet to try) that can be paired with the sleeves for a more custom-fit compression to the individual’s foot and calf size, as opposed to a full length compression sock.

As mentioned before, I have used the calf sleeves on all of my ultramarathons this year.  I feel that they aid in blood flow, decreasing the overall fatigue feeling that I tend to get on the longer distance races.  Once the race is over, I put on the actual full compression socks for my recovery.  The first time I put on the socks, I could immediately feel the different areas of compression on my foot.  Once you try a pair, you’ll know what I mean.  I feel a tighter compression on the arch of my foot and achilles area, while the balls of my ankles are left with less compression.

Notice the different compression zones you can see.
Notice the different compression zones you can see.
IMG_7909
They even put a “R” and “L” for those of us particularly right and left challenged. Bonus. 🙂

I have not worn the full socks during a lot of my trail runs simple for the reason that the pair I was testing was slightly big on my foot – meaning there was a little too much fabric at the end of my toes.  This is never a problem for my weight training or recovery days so I reserve the full socks for those days and use the sleeves for my runs.  I plan to get a pair of ankle socks to pair with my sleeves to remedy that issue.

Overall I have come to love ZeroPoint’s brand for use on running, weight training and recovery.  Although they aren’t as well known in the US market (just yet), they are definitely a cutting edge company with a keen eye for good looking compression without sacrificing functionality. Two thumbs up, especially since my only complaint with the full sock sizing can now be remedied with a pair of ankle socks.  Hot pink to match my sleeves please. 🙂

The finish line of Squaw Peak 50 miler.
The finish line of Squaw Peak 50 miler.

If you’d like to read more about the studies done on compression wear, you can click on this link.

You can visit their website at https://www.zp.fi/ to read more about their products and order online.

Happy Running,

Kenzie