Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K Trail Race

What an incredible experience! The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K race in Madison, Wisconsin was amazing. I ran it last Saturday (October 25th) along with Andy and Brett. After a 9 hour car ride, I was ready to run. The course was in the Kettle Moraine Forrest about an hour east of Madison. It was one of the most beautiful settings for a trail run that I have ever seen. It seemed that around every turn or up every hill, the course changed and it was even better than the miles we had just covered. It had rained the night before so there were spots on the course where there was standing water. We also ran through and over some mud, deep sand, rocks, small chunks of wood, small bridges, meadows, and along single track paths. The course ratings that were provided by the race website were very accurate in terms of elevation change, technical terrain, overall difficulty, and scenery. The race organizers did a very good job preparing us for what was to come. The course markings were excellent, the aid stations were very well organized with friendly people and plenty of food. The race organizers were ready to make the 31 miles as good as it could get.

Race day started off with my wake-up call about three hours before race time. I had granola with soy milk and added some Hammer Whey Protein. I then mixed my first hand-held bottle for the race with Hammer Heed. I was very happy with the way my Hammer Nutrition Products fueled me for the race. I had already pre-packed small one serving plastic bottles of Hammer Heed and Hammer Perpetuem to refill my hand-held bottle along the way along with my Hammer Endurolytes and Anti-Fatigue Caps. I had a small waist pouch to carry them in. I was ready to go! I also packed my drop bag which I would have placed at mile 22 so I could restock what I needed in terms of supplements and race gear. The plan that I had worked out for all of this took a lot of time but worked very well and was a key factor in my success of the race. I was happy with my running strategy for the race as well. I had good strength and energy all the way through to the finish of the race. I actually almost took out a volunteer trying to put my medal on due to my surging finish with Andy. We finished the race with a negative split which is always a goal for me to try to get.

It was great to run with Andy and Brett others form the North Face stores. It was a great group. We all worked together to make it a team effort and many times as we encountered other runners along the way and talked to them, we realized just how awesome it was to be out on this fantastic course and with such great weather and surroundings. North Face provide great items in the packet for the runners. Each runner got a technical shirt, stocking cap, and a pair of socks. Very nice!

Post race time was spent trying to keep warm, enjoying a fantastic hot food buffet, and telling stories about the race to anyone that would listen. I followed up the meal with a Hammer Recoverite shake and then a late dinner with Andy and Brett. It was a great day! Andy and I had run a marathon the week before in Texas and here we were having just finished an ultra-marathon in Wisconsin a week later. It was time to celebrate our accomplishments.

It's recovery week now. Time to run a few miles and let the body gain strength and repair. Up next for Andy and me is the second part of the Texas Quad marathons on December 14th. The Wellstone Dallas White Rock Marathon .

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Marathon2Marathon Race Report

This past weekend (Oct.18th).........Who would have thought that when I signed up for the Marathon2Marathon race in Marathon, Texas that it would be so incredible? What a fantastic experience and one of the best kept secrets of all of the marathons in this part of the country. The organization of the race was outstanding. The volunteers were hard working and dedicated to making the race a huge success. Andy, Larry and I were all excited to start the first race of our Texas Quad of marathons. We were not disappointed at all. The number of participants was small in terms of some of the larger marathons around the country but that just made the experience all the more positive. Volunteers that worked the aid stations were very friendly and helpful and the stations were well stocked and easy to get to. The pasta dinner the night before the race was put on by several volunteers and was excellent. The post-race party was an outdoor event under the stars. I didn't realize that the stars could be so beautiful. They were so clear and bright.

The race course was challenging but also a thing of beauty. The race started just outside of Alpine, Texas and followed a straight line (other than one curve in the road) back to Marathon. It was run on a highway between the two cities. We, of course, ran on the shoulder of the road. You could see for miles at a time. It was amazing to have such views of the surrounding area. Running with mountains all around you as you are running in the lower elevations was something that I will remember for a long time. The course had several rolling hills with a "where did this come from" hill at mile 22. As you finish the race, you can see the finish line for miles and hear the sounds of the crowd waiting to cheer you through the finish. The people in the town really supported this race. They made you feel so welcome. The weather was fantastic. It was cool to start the race and warmed up as the morning went on. There is something very special about starting a race and watching the sunrise. It was spectacular!

We stayed at the Gage Hotel which was incredible! The food at the Gage was amazing! There is so much to do in the surrounding area that you could stay for a week and still need to come back for more. It is truly a runner's paradise.

A special thanks to Berta and Sheri who crewed the race for us. They did an outstanding job of keeping us going as well as helping other participants too. Their support was very much appreciated! I was very happy with the Hammer Nutrition Products that I always use. They were fantastic! My Brooks Infiniti's felt great the entire way and provided great support!

Many stories and memories were created and I'm sure will follow soon in this blog. The lady on roller blades that until mile 15 or so Larry and I couldn't figure out how she kept showing up coming down the road at us over and over again. The man that kept going to the "green porta-cans" until at one of the last ones he said he was sorry he had to catch up with us but the door was stuck. More on these adventures at a later date as well as race pictures. Larry and I had a great time running together and I am blessed to have such a great friend to run with at these marathons. Congrats to my son Andy who finished in 9th place overall with a sub 4 hour marathon! It is an incredible blessing to be able to do these marathons with him. What a day!

I can't wait to go back next year. You should check it out and reserve the October date for a great marathon. Pictures of the race this year will be posted soon.

This weekend (Oct.25th), Andy and I journey up to Madison, Wisconsin to run a 50K in The North Face Endurance Challenge. We will be joined by running group partner Brett. It will be an exciting time!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Running for the Future

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to an elementary school track club. Two or three times a week they gather before school to run/walk a distance that is determined by the individuals in charge, usually between 1 and 2 miles with parent sponsors along also. The third through sixth graders really look forward to their morning sessions and are very proud to be in the track club. I was asked to speak to them and tell them a little about how I started running, what it's like to run in a race, how I train, nutrition ideas, and stretching.

They listened very carefully as I described how I got started running and why I liked running so much. As I told them that I started out walking and running just like they are doing (but as an adult) and then progressed up to running different distances, it was clear that they were very interested in learning more and more. They wanted to know what it was like to run a marathon and an ultra-marathon. It was fun to tell them a few stories about the races that I had run.

However, the most exciting part of the morning was that there were 60-70 kids exercising on a regular basis and enjoying being with their friends and parents. As I talked to them it was clear to me that they were the future of running. Right there in front of me were the future walkers and runners that would perhaps enter races as middle school, high school, college, and adult participants. Whether it be for recreation or competition, they were going to be the foundation. It was so exciting being a small part of what they are doing.

Dean Karnazes has an organization call Karno Kids that raises dollars to support improving health and wellness of our youth. His website talks about how we all can become active in his quest of "No Child Left Inside". It's amazing what is going on in our communities.

As the morning ended I asked the kids if they knew what a standing ovation was. They mentioned that it could be something that was real good, something that you enjoyed, something special, and other phrases. Then I told them that the morning was not about me, but about them. It was about them getting up early to come to school and to care about their health and wellness. It was about them coming to be with their friends and parents and to walk/run on a beautiful October morning. It was about them being the future of running. I asked them to stand-up and give themselves a standing ovation. They did. The gym roared with excitement!

As I stood there watching them leave the gym and then joining in with them, I realized that sometime down the road they might think back to that October morning where some guy that ran crazy distances gave them an idea that they too could dream. And make it come true!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Marathons Here We Come and an Ultra too!

Some James Taylor for you to listen to while you read the blog below.

I am so glad that October is here! Marathon2Marathon in Marathon,TX. on October 18th and The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K on October 25th in Madison, WI. are just around the corner. I am excited to run them both. It will be an experience to run a marathon and an ultra on back-to-back weekends. My son Andy will be joining me to do both of the races and our very good friend Larry will be running with us at Marathon2Marathon. It has been said that Larry and I are long lost brothers that have found each other after many years. I am convinced that this is true. It is a blessing to get to run with him! For Andy, Larry and me these marathons start a series of races that begin in October and finish in February. We will also all be doing the Wellstone's White Rock Dallas Marathon in December, the Chevron Houston Marathon in January, and the Austin Marathon in February. Looks like a Texas Quad to me!

The super feet of our running group will be well represented at The North Face Challenge as Brett joins us and at Dallas where Joel joins us. It will be incredible to run with them! They are both outstanding runners and dedicated running buddies. We are all looking forward to a great time at some awesome marathons on some fantastic courses.

Running multiple marathons in a row like this will require good race strategies, good nutrition, and an excellent training plan. It will also be fun just to accomplish the goals that we set a year ago in Dallas. The conversation in the restaurant brought smiles to our faces. Our brows narrowed at the thought of such an adventure. But there it was on the table. The challenge of the Texas Quad. Could we really get all of this planned? Was it as crazy as it sounded? The answer to all of the questions was yes. So here we go! Texas and Wisconsin, here we come!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!