Thursday, August 29, 2013

Revisiting Diet Ideas

Since Merrill's Mile, I have been eating whatever I want. I also have not been running as much. So when I set out to run 7ish miles on very hilly terrain in high heat and humidity I had some issues! Luckily I know what is wrong and how to fix it.

The strongest I have ever felt was on a fruitarian diet. I was lighter, faster, and could just keep pushing myself. Last nights run had me feeling heavy, slow, and weak. I know that the fruitarian diet is great for me, but it is pretty expensive and rather boring.

I am moving to Lexington in the next few days and will be starting a new diet when I get down there. This time, I am basing my diet off of a P90X buddy of mine, Lou Trentadue. He focuses on eating "clean". While that is a pretty subjective term, we can mostly all agree that a piece of grilled chicken is cleaner than a piece of fried chicken. With that in mind, this is what I want to do.

The Plan

All meals are going to focus on balance of the plate. It's as simple as 1/3 meat, 1/3 veggies, and 1/3 fruit. I am going to try to cut out starchy carbohydrates and focus on the mentioned 3 food groups for my energy sources. I also am going to cut out as much dairy(other than eggs) as possible.

What Do I Think Will Happen?

I am still a firm believer that in order to lose weight, you need to put less calories into your body than you use. With that being said, I think I will lose body fat but still appear normal. I will be able to go out and eat at normal restaurants. Since this is possible, I think I will be able to stick to it a little better than my past diets.

That's all I got for now. More thoughts on this later.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A special shout out to Sierra Designs tents!
As some may know, during the Merrills Miles race, the rain fly window fell out of out Sierra Designs Alpha 1 three season tent that was 5 yrs old. (The Yahooligans base tent)  I sent the fly back to the factory, they just called and told me they are sending a WHOLE NEW TENT, the Lightning HT3.  Retails at $369...Kudos on standing behind your products!!!
They recognized our use of the tent for Ultra Running and asked questions about "our world". Perhaps they see another sport to embrace.

So, next time your in the tent market....consider the great customer service we diescovered at Sierra Designs
Sierra Designs Lightning HT 3 Tent

Saturday, July 27, 2013

2013 Merrill's Mile Race Review

As some of you may know, I had a very successful run at Merrill's Mile. I figured I could go more in depth than, "OMG I RAN 100 MILES!" so here it is.

Pre Race

Up to this race I had ate a mostly vegetarian diet. I kind of waterfalled as time went on. By that I mean, I mean I started out as a fruitarian about 3 months before. About a month later I was mostly vegan. Another month went by and I was vegetarian, then about a week before the race I ate whatever I wanted.

While this was never intended, I find it prepared me well for the race. It got me down to race weight. I also found that recovery while on a Fruitarian diet was phenomenal. The flexibility in the diet as time went on was enjoyed also.

I would say that I moderately increased my mileage in the months before the race. I know I didn't run nearly as many miles as many 100 mile training programs suggest. I focused more on not getting injured and figuring out how to run in times when I didn't want to. For example, I may not have been out running 15 miles every day, but I was able to pencil in two 40 mile training runs on similar ground that Merrill's Mile was on weeks before the race. I think this helped me more than anything as it helped me develop an eating plan and a gear change plan. I discovered that I did really well in my Vivo Barefoot Evo II for the first 20 miles, then switching to my Hoka Bondi Bs for the remainders. After doing this twice I knew I had to do something similar in the race.

I was pretty confident in myself the weeks before the race. I felt prepared and confident. I was telling people that I was going to attempt to run 100 miles. They asked me if I thought I could really do it, and without hesitation I responded, "Yes."

So now that I took care of the diet, fitness, and the mind, I was ready to run 100 miles.

Race Day

I slept fine the night before the race. I stayed up late two nights before so I would be tired. I was not nervous or anything and went right to sleep. I woke up, got myself ready, and everything went according to plan. Since I have a morning routine I was able to just do it and not run into any issues.

My parents picked me up and we headed out to the Ranger Camp. We met up with our friends John, Deborah, and Angela. We set up our homes for the next 24 hours.

It was also at this time that I met Kyle, the leader of a study group who had asked if they could monitor everything I ate. I thought that was an awesome idea and agreed.

Willy lined us up at 9 AM and told us some basic guidelines. There isn't much to say about running around a 1 mile loop. He was pretty certain someone would get lost, assuring us that if they did he wouldn't go looking for them. Then, at the end of the speech, he turned his back and said, "You guys can start if you want to..." John and I looked at each other and set the pace.

We had agreed to try to run a majority of the race together. We started out at a 9:30 min/mile pace and decided to keep it at that for as long as possible. We feared that if we started out too slow we would not have time to finish.

About 7 laps in John had to make a pit stop. He told me to keep going. I ran a lap and didn't see him coming the other way. I walked by the porta-john's and yelled for him... Eventually I figured out that he had already left. I ran a fast mile and caught up to him. After a few more laps we got separated again and didn't really see each other for the rest of the race.
Cruisin' With The Hokas

I kept at my pace. A marathon rolled by and I was at a little over 4 hours. Am I doing this right? Don't people strive to run marathons this fast? I kept thinking that I was going too fast, but decided to stop thinking and keep running.

The rain started around 2PM. It varied from a light mist to a medium shower. Still, I kept running my race. I kept my head up. I knew that it was going to rain(I didn't have to look at the weather forecast, it had rained every day for the past 2 weeks). The rain felt good and was better than the alternative - Sun. I took my shirt off and chugged along.

As far as nutrition goes I stuck with Gu and grabbed an occasional snack from the aid station. At this time I was about an 8 or 9 on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being dead and 10 being on my perfect run. Despite all the rain, my feet were holding up really well(thanks to Swiftwicks).

After 27 miles I switched to my Hokas. I made this decision based on feel, and I could feel some minor stresses from my Vivos building up. The lack of flexibility in the Hokas is a good thing for ultras sometimes.

Miles 27-55 were honestly just running. I slowed down a little bit, but was still keeping around 10:30 to 11 min/miles. Still too fast? Not sure. I didn't want to question it.

When mile 55 rolled around things got miserable. The rain opened up and we were running in a thunderstorm. I really wanted to take a break, but my rule for this race was NO BREAKS SUCK IT UP! In the heaviest of the storm I decided to change socks. This would give me time to inspect my feet. My mom helped me get my socks off. My feet looked like they had been in a bathtub for a month. I had some sweet blisters. We popped, covered in superglue, and put a sock on. Blisters couldn't stop me now.

By mile 57 the second wave of runners started. All 4 of them.

I could see their headlamps in a line on the other side of the loop. I felt like crying. I have no idea why. Maybe it was because I was alone for so long. Maybe it was because I was tired of getting rained on. It was probably multiple things. So instead of holding it in I started to cry. I intentionally said things to myself to get it out, "You're not going to finish. You are going to make it this far and fail. God hates you." Blah blah yada yada... I cried. A quarter mile later I felt much better and was glad I got that out of my system. The weather seemed to reflect my mood and the rain calmed.

The miles started going slower after mile 60. So was I. I was trying to keep myself motivated and keep myself moving. I would walk half a lap, then run half a lap. My goal was to keep 12:30 min/miles but I was really around 14 or 15 min/miles.

It was around this time that I realized that the aid station had coffee. About every other lap I drank a small cup of coffee. I would go 2 laps, feel good, try to get another lap, and be dying for that cup of coffee. I gave in and just tried to remember to drink a cup every two laps. 

John and I, trashed
All this caffeine was making me have to pee, but I was getting faster. Not much faster, but faster. My dad started to run with me and discuss my strategy for later. He had been moving a majority of the time I had, but he was in much better condition than me mentally. We tried to do the math and figure out how much I could slack off. Even with these considerations, I kept my 15 min/mile pace. I just couldn't run any faster.

Finally I hit mile 84. It was around 4:45 AM. I needed a break. I sat down at the aid station and tried to get some nutrition. I felt like junk and was so tired. I told my dad, "Let me sleep for 2 minutes." I don't think I actually fell asleep, but I did reset my brain. The next thing I know my dad says, "Tyler wake up. You said 2 minutes and I gave you 3." I looked around and got myself up. Moving forward, at any speed, is better than sitting down.

My dad explained to me that I had to run 16 miles in 4 hours. I could do it if I ran... Wait what was that number? He started doing math again. We calculated how much I could walk if I wanted to hit 100 miles. He encouraged me to run more. Then, as my Circadian rhythm kicked in I started to wake up. My dad also was looking at the leaderboard and said, "Tyler, no matter what you do, you are going to be in 4th place. The person behind you is far behind and the person in front is 7 miles ahead." I said to my dad, "Forget that math, let's just run it in." 

Now, keep in mind both of my parents had been on the course for 24 hours. They had taken maybe a few hours of break in a wet tent, but nevertheless... They started tag-teaming. 

My dad would run a lap with me, talk to me, and make sure I was comfortable. Before the finish of the loop he would call out what I needed to the aid station. They would hand it off to me and I could continue running. My mom would run with me and do the same. I was so impressed with my parents during this time. They were just mechanical in what they were doing. They ran right next to me and were ready to run when it was their turn.

After a 12 miles I surprisingly had caught up to 3rd place. They were walking and I made a fast pass at what felt like 9 min/mile. They didn't follow or notice.
100 Miles - 23 Hours 52 Minutes

At mile 99 I realized that I could get a sub 23 hour 100 miler if I ran the last mile under 14 minutes. I ran it in around 7 minutes and 40 seconds. I came in one mile ahead of 4th place. When I came through the finish I was greeted by a man who looked like Caballo Blanco. I extended his arm and gave me a hug. After the hug I realized that it was Willy. For a moment there though... who knows? 

My dad didn't stop though. We started walking and got another mile in. Then for some reason we went around again. At 102 miles I thought that I was done. I sat down in a chair and relaxed for the first time in 24 hours. 

Then the person in 4th place didn't stop though. They were at 101 miles. If I let them catch up to me at 102 miles then we would be tied. When they walked by I followed them. 10 feet behind them. I had 30 minutes left. They weren't moving fast and neither was I. As I made the final turn I saw them turning in their timing chip. They were done. 

I walked through, getting 103 and turned in my chip. I was done. Willy handed me my belt buckle. Finally.

I sat down while my poor parents and our friend Dave packed up our stuff. I felt like I was being useless, but I could barely move. I stiffened up and got cold. When it was time to go. I got in the car and fell asleep. When I made it to my parents house I got out of the car and threw up. Sweet! We joked about it and I went in to sleep and eat for the rest of the day.

Here is the chart of my nutritional intake for the whole race. Thanks Kyle & Daniel!

Note: I would like to say that I was out there for me that day. I know I got kind of competitive there at the end, but it was really a driving force to keep me moving. In fact, when my dad first told me I was getting close to 3rd place I said, "I don't care, I just want to get 100 miles." Mentally it pushed me, so it became pretty important there at the end. If I had gotten 3rd, 1st, or last I would have been happy that I got 100 miles in.

A special congratulations goes out to Errol Josephs and Beth McCurdy.

A huge thank you goes out to all of the volunteers, friends, and family they helped me succeed in this race. I never could have done it without you.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Quick Pre-Merrill's Mile Post

Wahoo! I woke up! That's half the battle right?

Today, starting at 9AM, I am going to attempt to run 100 miles in less than 24 hours at Merrill's Mile. I am ready! I was good and packed everything a few nights before.

I also accidentally got my hair cut short. By accidentally, I mean, my mom asked me how I wanted my hair cut, I said, "Bald". She said, "I'm not doing that." I then said, short as usual. Apparently she missed the "as usual" part and went shorter than usual. It doesn't look bad though.

Anyway, wish me luck. Anyone running a race today, Good Luck!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Why The Sudden Change In Diet?

This video explains a lot of the ideas I have been thinking about lately. Feel free to skip the farm scenes. They are not necessary from a scientific sense, but do drive home the point.

And the Q&A:

Sunday, June 9, 2013

40 Mile Training Run: From Minimalist to Maximilist

This post is more of just a journal entry highlighting my adventures yesterday. I will have to review some of the gear I am talking about because it was all very helpful in finishing the runs.

Yesterday I set out to do my first 40 mile training run. I really want to get 100 miles at Merrill's Mile, but I know that if I don't push my body during training that I won't have the confidence to complete it.

Before my run I stopped at Big Peach Running Co. and picked up some Body Glide. While I was there I decided to try on some different shoes. I tried on the New Balance Leadville's. They were very nice trail shoes for those long runs. I also tried on some Hokas(Mufate 2, Stinson Evo, and Bondi B). My favorite were the Bondi B, since they were more road-friendly and had less aggressive tread. Not thinking anything of it I told the staff that I appreciated their help and that I would keep them in mind for my next shoe purchase.

I started out at The Greenway in Cumming, GA. This was my arsenal of gear: Brooks running hat, a sun hat, a cotton tanktop, underarmour underwear, Nike shorts, Swiftwick socks, Vivobarefoot Evo II, and a Camelbak 220z water bottle. I have also been practicing Fruitarianism again, and was eating a lot of Bananas, but mostly Gu during the runs.

After about 10 miles it started to get really hot and I was unable to keep up with my calories and hydration. The water bottle was not working out since there are really only two places to get water on The Greenway. I pushed to get to 22 miles and decided to stop. I was disappointed with myself and had some doubt about the 100 miles. The conditions I was running in were similar to that of Merrill's Mile. Actually The Greenway was probably a little cooler than Merrill's is going to be(4th of July).

On a side note, during this run I saw a baby green snake on The Greenway. I looked at him and he lifted his head up and went back and forth. After 30 seconds of that he turned around and started heading off the path(which is what I wanted since there are bikes there). I used my toe and gave him a little tap in the butt so he would squiggle off and be afraid of The Greenway. I wouldn't want him to get hit.

After the 22 miles my feet were sore and my legs were tired. At 22 miles, with low confidence, I needed something to change. Maybe if I had a different, non-minimalist, pair of shoes I could switch into them during the run and protect my feet as well as use different muscles?

I decided on the Bondi B. I am going to do a comparison of them to minimalist shoes, but to be honest I have found that I can run with the same gate and with less pain during long runs.

During the drive home I tried to eat back some of the calories, but I know I didn't even come close to what I spent.

I stopped by my parents house and picked up a Nathan #020 race vest that I got really cheap off The Clymb. When in doubt, try out a bunch of new crap!

For this run, my arsenal was: The same Broooks running hat, a tech shirt, the same Underarmour underwear,  the same Nike shorts, Zensah calf compression, Swiftwick socks(higher ones that compress my ankles), and the new Bondi B.

It took about a half mile for me to get used to the Bondi B. I was a breath of fresh air from minimalist shoes. I still kept my stride the same, but I did feel some different muscles working. I also noticed that my feet felt a little more stable and did not roll in as much as they do in minimalist shoes(the rolling takes a wear on my ankle and hurts after a while). Needless to say, in a little over 3 hours and some struggle I had 18 miles done!

On another side note, during this run I saw a baby bird in the parking lot. It was pretty tiny and was just sitting there yelling. I kept going, hoping that I wouldn't have to rescue it. The next lap he was gone, hopefully back with his mother.

I don't really want to go too much in depth about any of the new gear I purchased. I don't think I have given any of it enough use to be critical and I don't want to give something a positive review without more testing.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Never Wipe Your Ass With A Squirrel Book Review

Since The Barefoot Running Book originally came out, Jason Robillard has learned many tricks to make trail running, and living, more comfortable. He opens up in Never Wipe Your Ass With A Squirrel and lets you in on all of his secrets.

Jason Robillard is an ultramaraton trail runner who originally started out passionately pushing the barefoot running movement. Since then, he has learned moderation and implements shoes as tools. This typically leaves him running in minimalist shoes on the rocky trails all across America. I believe he chose trail running as the theme for this book because he has more experience with it than roads, and generally prefers trail running.

Never Wipe Your Ass With A Squirrel is written in a handbook-like fashion. Some tips are short and sweet, others are more in depth and require an entire chapter to cover. Overall, the book has a solid structure with little fluff.

Compared to other running books that I have read I am tempted to say that Never Wipe Your Ass With A Squirrel is the most laid back running book I have ever read. I believe this book is not intended for a serious audience. It is not meant for the guy that runs ahead of the crowd to get his mileage in. Instead it is meant for the guy that is in the back showing his friends that he can write his name with his pee and pulling out beers 10 miles into a run.

Why would you pay for this book? Because it is fun and memorable! If you are hanging around 10 years from now do you remember the guy that ran ahead and got 10 more miles than the group in the same amount of time, or do you remember the time you got drunk on a 20 mile out-and-back and learned a new skill? I believe your answer is the latter, especially if you are a girl! How does this help you? Well when you are 90 miles into a race, your legs are on fire, and the miles are turning over slowly, are you going to be implementing some bullshit formula to keep your heart rate below your lactic threshold so you can do this or that, or are you going to remember something clever, funny, and interesting? I, personally, would remember the easier, funnier option and would not care to do math.

One critique that I have is that not all, but some of the advice given is the same advice that is on his blog. This is convenient for those that do not follow his blog, but somewhat repetitive for those that do. Even though I have read a majority of his blog posts I found that the repeated content was helpful and more in-depth in the book, as it should be.

Al-in-all Never Wipe Your Ass With A Squirrel is an excellent addition to your running library. I ended up reading it over 2 days, which is extremely fast for me since it typically takes me weeks to read a book. I was very entertained by it and recommend it to anyone that runs trails, new or elite.

Jason had/has an odd sales plan with this book. Basically if one person buys it they can share it with their friends. I don't know if this still holds true, but either way I do not encourage you to do so. Instead, help a runner out who is trying his hardest educate you and make a buck(not a big one) writing about the things that he has spent years learning.

Here is a free sample to get you hooked.

To purchase Never Wipe Your Ass With A Squirrel go here and pick your format.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fat Run!

Jason Robillard was nice enough to let me test drive his new book, Never Wipe Your Ass With a Squirrel. It's a odd name, but a very good read so far.

One thing he writes about is running on fats. The purpose of this is to ease the transition from carbohydrate fuel to fats. This is what "the wall" that marathon+ runners hit. The idea is that if your body gets used to making the transition it is not so bad.

1 Pound of Fat -

 Yesterday I did not eat much. I probably was around 1400 calories give or take. I did not eat a lot at night and a majority of my caloric intake was from fats and proteins. You see where I am going here?

This morning around 10AM I split an omelette with Whitney and ate a pear. Oddly these eating habits had nothing to do with Jason's writing. I was just trying to practice portion control.

Anyway, around 1PM I was feeling a little hungry. That's when I reflected on my caloric intake over the past 12 hours and decided it would be an excellent time to try out Jason's ideas.

Now, Jason says there are two ways to burn fats while running. 1) Run slow and keep your heart rate below some number a mathematical formula gives you. 2) Fast before a run. Then just run.

"I'll just do a little of both." Guess what people! It worked.

Around half a mile I started to feel depleted. My pace did not change and I didn't feel too bad. This feeling lasted for about 4 miles, then I started to really feel the fat burning.

I could tell I was burning fats because I did not want to run anymore. My mind was telling me to walk. I was not sore, but my brain was scavenging for calories. I kept wanting to drink out of my bottle, which had nothing but water in it. Ha body! I tricked you!

It was at this time that I started craving some stupid stuff. For example, raw oysters. I have never craved this on a run, but today I wanted it. 

I did my best to just keep going. I told myself that if I stopped I would have to run another mile. The last half mile I said, "I wonder how much gas I have left in the tank?" I started running faster and it felt great. I was able to keep a sub 7 minute pace for that half mile and cruise to my destination.

I debated if it was a good idea to eat a meal once I got home. I decided that I would take a shower and eat something really clean. I ended up eating some black raspberries, a pear, some strawberries, and a cup of orange juice. Update: 20 minutes after eating this Whitney brought a milkshake from Chick-Fil-A to share...

Enough about what I ate!

So what did I learn? I think my body is used to making this transition already. It wasn't nearly as bad as described by noobie marathoners, but I can definitely still use some practice. Since 10 miles isn't really long enough for my long runs I am going to try to do the first 10 of my next run slow and low carbed, then eat something(like a peanut butter and jelly) and run 10 more miles. That will put me in a good place and give me some ups and downs during my runs.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Running The Streets of Dahlonega

When running around Dahlonega there are some things to keep into consideration. Of course, some of my suggestions can apply anywhere, but some are more specific to our small town.

1. “Sorry, I Didn't See You There”
Coming through Dahlonega I usually run from Hancock Park to the crosswalk at the Fudge Factory. I make an honest effort to slow down before hitting the crosswalk, since it is kind of hard to see anybody from that direction, let alone a runner. Even with the most caution I have found myself in the uncomfortable situation of waiting and wondering if that van is going to hit me. Sure enough, as I am halfway though the crosswalk the van cruises by and I hear the driver say, “Yeahhh sorry I didn't see you there.” and drive off. Never expect people to stop for you. I have friends that have been hit by cars, and you can too.

2. To The Left, To The Left
When running on the road try to always run on the left side of the road, facing traffic. When possible, run on a sidewalk. Exceptions to this rule are:

a. There are people on the sidewalk.
In this case, make sure you can safely enter the street and go around them. You should be running on the sidewalk that is next to the left side of the road, so you can safely enter the oncoming traffic. Regardless, look over your shoulder when entering the road.
b. You are running up a hill
If you are running up a hill and can see a tenth of a mile behind you and you can't see what is coming over the top of the hill, it may be safer to switch to the right side of the road until you reach the top of the hill. Once you are at the top of the hill and it is safe to cross, move back to the left side of the road.
c. You are running Lake Zwerner in a clockwise direction
If this is the case, I see no point in crossing the road just to immediately cross back again. I believe there is also more room on the part of the bridge facing the lake than on the other side. For bonus points do 5 mile out-and-backs and avoid this problem all together.

3. Closed
A few days ago around 8 PM I decided to run at the park and do some loops. Around mile 9 the lights started going out and a man from a car yelled, “Hey! I'm lockin' the gate.” I was able to finish my 10 miles, but it was frustrating having to leave the park when the man tells you to. It's better to just avoid the park at late hours and run other places. The drill field at the college seems to always be open and welcoming to late-night runners.

4. Well, That's Odd...
Ever wanted to try out those new shoes that look a little funky? Well you can, but the people of Dahlonega will glare at you. See, Dahlonega isn't one of those hip suburbs where the current trends are booming. Nope. In Dahlonega, people keep it simple. That is not meant to be taken as an insult to Dahlonega or it's residents, it's just something I have noticed. I got a ton of odd looks running in Vibram Five Fingers and even more running barefoot.. Just wait until I break out my Huarache sandals and sport kilt!

5. “Hi”, “Hello”, or “Hola”
Something that tends to bother me more than it should is when people don't say “hi” back. For example, I am running along at Yahoola Park and see a woman walking with her dog. As I run by I say, “hey there”. You would expect someone to say something back in this situation. Unfortunately, I mostly get the stupid look and pass by. The stupid look you ask? This is the same look you would get from someone if you walked up to them and asked, “Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like? Why the look? I believe I am saying “hi” too late. Think about it, you have an extremely charming, sexy, and almost barefoot spectacle running at you. Are your dreams coming true? Yes, yes they are! Then he says “hi”. You struggle to find the right words. I am looking at you, your dog is looking at you, you make a face like you want to speak, then it is too late. Prince charming is gone and then you realize the appropriate response. In conclusion, say “hi” about 10 to 15 feet before passing the person. You might get more normal responses.

6. Don't Be A Creeper Around Lake Zwerner.
Story time. One time I was running an out-and-back at Lake Zwerner. I was doing a pretty comfortable, but quick, pace. As I came around a turn I saw two college girls walking in the same direction as I was. They were talking and carrying on. As I got closer they didn't seem to want to move. No acknowledgments what-so-ever. Finally, I got about 10 feet away from them. I tried the ol' clearing the the throat trick(usually they hear you and move). One of the girls let out a yell and ran into her friend. Apparently they hadn't heard me and heard my cough, scaring the bejesus out of them. I laughed and apologized. About 10 minutes later I had turned around and was heading toward them. I noticed the girls through the trees and heard them talking. “They gotta see me coming”, I thought. I turned the corner(I say I turned, they say I popped out) and heard a yell. At this point I didn't know what to say, so I awkwardly said “Uh... Sorry I keep scaring you?” and ran off into the distance. Most people are a little more observant than these girls, but when coming up on people maybe try to clap your hands from a distance? I really haven't found a solution to this one yet.

I hope these tips help you navigate around Dahlonega a little easier. As Jenny would say, "…if you're ever in trouble, don't be brave. You just run, OK? Just run away.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Scariest Competitor Yet, A Dog

I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The end of my run  was approaching, my watch beeped for the 10 mile mark, and I was cruising down a big hill. My legs were getting a little fatigued, but still felt strong. I could almost see my house.

A car passed me and pulled into the driveway a few feet ahead of me. I watched the driver and passenger get out. All normal so far.

Then I saw him. The 70 pound dog I ran past every day was out. Nothing new really. The dog has an invisible fence which has never failed me. Until today.

I kept running, basically ignoring the dog. I don't know if it was because the owners were in the yard or what, but the dog started running, whimpered for a second, and kept running. Shit.

I turned around on the hill and started hauling up it. The dog was right on my tail. I ran faster while keeping an eye on the dog. The dog was literally within slapping distance. I took my water bottle and tried to spray it, but it didn't help. The dog kept chasing me up the hill. Then something happened. I started to pull away. I was actually getting away. I slowed down a little, then the dog started chasing me more. I ran harder and pulled away again. This time I kept running until I was out of the dogs sight.

I waited at the top of the hill until the owners waved me down. They asked me if he bit me. They were sure he got me, but he didn't.They apologized and told me that the battery must have died on the leash. I told them that I was okay and that I understood. Having owned a dog before I know that sometimes things are out of your control. It is the owners responsibility to keep a dog in control, but sometimes bad things just happen. They apologized again and told me they were going to check the leash right now.

Honestly I have more respect for them as dog owners than most owners around here. I have had many dogs chase me, but this is the first one that has been on an electric fence. I have ran past this dog probably 50 times and never had an issue. It was only when the owners were out that the dog got aggressive.

Running home I couldn't help but think, "Man... I just outran a dog." and "This is going to make for an awesome blog post!"

Now that I am reflecting on it, the only thing that I think I could have done different is maybe put my water bottle in his mouth or hit him with it. With luck, I avoided all conflict. I have written about dog tactics before, but it has never come into play as much as it did today.

Since the dog will probably have a fresh set of batteries and won't be as aggressive tomorrow I might try throwing it a treat. This seems to be the only dog in Dahlonega that has a problem with me. Maybe we can make friends. It not, there will be pepper spray in my other hand.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Humans - Built For Speed

Are humans built for speed? "Fast" is relative. A Kenyan can run a 4 minute mile, but a squirrel can still get away from him. So let's assume that we are built for running faster than the average run-of-the-mill 5K runner.

Since reading Scott Jurek's book, Eat & Run I have adopted some of his methods of running faster, for longer distances. But Tyler, why would you want to run long distances and run faster? Well, I am lazy. Not in the sense that I won't get out there and run, I just don't want to run for a long period of time. By running faster I can get in the mileage I need without wasting my day.

So what did I do to start running faster? I started running faster! It's that easy! Previously I had found that if I ran with someone fast, for example my buddy Mitch, I would get comfortable at an 8 minute pace and never think twice about it. I also found that if I started out running around 10 minute miles, it would be a chore to run the 8s. Since I have started running faster a majority of my runs have been started at an 8 minute pace or faster, hills or not. This gets me into the groove.

Yesterday, Mitch Pless mentioned in his speech(which was very good btw) that you need to train at a relatively faster pace at least a few times a week. This is because during an ultra, if you can maintain 10 minutes per mile you will do very well. By running faster during training you actually have to slow yourself down in your race, making ultras easier. I feel the 5k/10k crowd does the opposite by going as hard as they can for the race. This is the right thing to do in a short race, but ultras are a whole different game.

So what did I borrow from Scott Jurek? One of the things he mentioned was a zen-like breathing during running. He says that during his faster paces he keeps long and slow breaths, like a yoga pose. My first thought was, "Yeah right? And run fast?" Well I actually tried it and found that it puts me in the faster paced groove(as mentioned above) much faster than going out huffing and puffing.

I have a few other tricks up my sleeve that I am testing out. I currently and reading The Art of Running Faster by Juian Goater and Don Melvin. I skimmed the book for about 20 minutes and have already shaved a few minutes off my comfortable mile. I will give more tips when I finish it and test some techniques.Thanks for reading!

I Dig Dahlonega Writing

The other day Matt Aiken asked me if I would write some articles for his I Dig Dahlonega website. I thought it was a great idea and told him I would get to work on one. Since I am kind of a slow writer we decided to use my recently posted Reflecting on a Memory From 6th Grade Track Tryouts. I really like what he is doing by bringing local writers together on his page and linking back to their respective blogs.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Reflecting on a Memory from 6th Grade Track Tryouts

This is a memory from 6th grade track tryouts.

It was my first year trying out for track and I was still testing the waters. I wasn't sure what I was good at, but I kind of knew I wasn't fast or strong enough to throw the shot put far enough. The team had made it through tryouts and were pretty sure we all made the team(the track team at Lumpkin County Middle School wasn't that big). On the last day of tryouts our coach said, "If you want to make the team you need to run around the gym for the entirety of practice.

The gym was a hot and humid place. It didn't help that it was raining and they had the heater on.

We started running. The first 10 laps or so were okay. I felt I was inching toward the farthest I had ever ran(2 miles) and the clock was still ticking.

What felt like hours went by. I kept my legs moving, even though my some of my peers were walking. These peers were also getting yelled at by the coach. I wanted my coach to see that I was strong and that I could perform in the hardest of conditions.

One or two other kids had more laps than me, but I didn't care. They were better runners than me and had more experience. I was just focusing on myself.

Finally, after doing what felt like 100 laps the coach blew the whistle and told us that we all made the team.

For the remainder of track I was put in the 2 mile run group(the longest distance available). I wasn't the fastest, but I always finished and had gas in the tank. I learned a lot about myself during that run though. I found that I had an inner strength to just keep going, even in the most strenuous of conditions. Sure I have a permanent memory of the wresting mats we ran past every lap, but it was all worth it. Never, in a millions years, would I have though it would pay off some time later when I decided to start running ultra marathons.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Almost Sub-20 5k...

Today Whitney and I explored some of Yahoola park in a hunt for a Geocache. After that, we decided to run a little bit. She just started Couch to 5K and I like to run, so we ran.

Even though I am still recovering from the Red Hot 55k in Moab, Utah I was able to start out with a decent pace. For some reason I felt strong and was able to comfortably run within the sub 8 range. By the end of mile 1 found that I was running faster.

Anyway I just got faster and faster during the run. I felt strong through the whole run. The wind kept blowing back on me, slowing me down. If it wasn't so windy I would have made it. By the end of the 5k I was pushing hard but realized that I wouldn't make it when the clock went past 20 minutes. *Sigh* I ran out the rest and finished at 20:17.

So, can I break 20 minutes? Heck yes! It just has to be on a day with the right conditions(no wind, not recovering, etc). I could also just try getting faster too...

The fact that I started out this run without even trying and that I have not trained for this distance make me feel pretty good about myself. This might be a testament to distance running. The only reason I have this strength is because I have the confidence to run shorter distances at a faster speed(more confidence).

Anyway, here is the run. I might try to break 20 minutes again sometime, but it is not on my high priority list.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Luna Sandal Leadville ATS Laced Review

While running 24 Hours of HOSTELity I noticed a runner was wearing some Luna Sandals . After looking at them over from a distance and approving of the construction, I decided to purchase a pair for myself to test out(this may or may not have been an excuse to buy yet another pair of running shoes). These were developed and made by Barefoot Ted and his crew. If you don't know who Barefoot Ted is, give Born to Run a read. I figured with a 30-day guarantee, I have nothing to lose.

The Luna Leadvilles after a loop around a muddy lake :)
I anxiously waited for these to be made and ship. I believe they are handmade by a small office of "monkeys". I figured out my size by cross-referencing my Vibram Five Fingers size to centimeters to the Luna Sandals size. I had them shipped to my parent's house and I am pretty sure I drove my dad crazy with "Are they here yet?" text messages. Finally he said that they had arrived. Knowing what they were, he opened them.

The first thing we noticed after opening the package was that it came with "A Guide to your New ATS Laced Luna Sandals". I won't give away any spoilers, but it involves a monkey and his Lunas.

My dad said these were the stages I was going through. (from the guide)
The first time I put them on they felt pretty comfortable. I noticed the thong part between my toes, but it didn't bother me. The fit looked right, so I accepted them as mine and took them on a run.

I figured the intended use for this shoe would be a rocky trail, so I took them for a spin around the lake which has tons of sharp pointy rocks.

ATS Laces
 The lacing system on these is extremely simple compared to the lacing system of traditional huaraches. You basically just slide your foot over the back heel strap, then put your heel in the heel strap. The heel strap is a little elastic, making it easier to put on. This elasticity also contributes to comfort while running.

After my first mile I felt like the heel strap was slipping. I had not tightened the straps since I purchased the shoe, so I figured that was something that would need to be adjusted. Throughout my run I had to adjust the straps 3 times. After the run I asked a friend of mine that has them about this and he said that it took about two runs to get the ATS lacing system setup right. I figured lack of experience was making this harder than it should be. I think once I get these figured out they won't be a problem and will probably be more efficient than any other lacing method, shoes and huaraches included.

Luna is awesome enough to provide videos on how to use your sandals. Basically any problem you can imagine is talked about. Here is one on the heel strap.

MGT(Monkey Grip Technology) Footbed/Soles
This model has the thickest footbed of all the sandals at 11mm. That sounds a little thicker than most minimalist shoes at the 2mm or 4mm mark, but since they are completely flat everywhere I am able to run with proper barefoot form. The added height keeps annoying rocks from ruining my run. The more I run the more important it important to eliminate these annoyances. The soles are a little more flexible, kind of comparable to Sanuks. I suppose the right word would be cushy. They don't have a rock guard like the Merrell's, but the thickness prevents sharp rocks anyway.

The footbed has monkey grip(not made from real monkeys). I am not sure which side is monkey gripped though. The part my foot rests on is very grippy. I was able to run through muddy Georgia clay and slip minimally, while still enjoying the mud on my feet. The Vibram sole of the shoe is a treaded and grips well. I did not slip once in muddy conditions with the Luna Leadville's. I believe this is because the sandal makes me more observant of my running form, thus keeping me from putting too much weight in one direction. The monkey grip is just an added bonus!

These sandals are very comfortable, right up there with my Sanuks. I think every shoe has good features and bad features as far as comfort goes. I really like the laces on the Lunas. They stop my feet from sliding around without applying repetitive pressure to one area(I noticed my Merrell Trail Gloves and VivoBarefoot Neo Trails do this). I also like the soles on these. They are thick enough to block out the sharp rocks, but still provide some ground feel.

 Proprioception - the ability to sense the position and location and orientation and movement of the body and its parts.

Even though the sole is thicker in these shoes, proprioception is increased because your feet are out in the wild, compared to closed shoes. I am much more observant of the trail I am running on. I know that I could, for example, stub my toe, so I look around more. Also, feeling the air against your feet awakens a feeling I used to get when I ran strictly barefoot.

Running in Luna Sandals feels very primitive. It is a feeling similar to being an animal in the forest. You are the animal, you must be on the lookout for other animals and dangers. Things are dangerous. This is the real world.

It is nice to leave a stressful job, run in these, and forget all your worries. 

Even though I have yet to stub my toe, I would imagine it may happen one day. It is probably less likely to happen than my mind is making it out to be. The body tends to amplify dangers when in an unfamiliar situation(ie running in sandals).

Different Terrain
The Lake Zwerner loop that I tested the Leadvilles on provides a variety of terrain in a small package. On the flat sections I was able to run just like I do any other day. On uneven terrain I paid attention to where I was stepping but was able to keep a consistent gait. On uphills and climbs I was able to use my method of running more on my toes and plow up the hill with no problems. The heel strap stayed snug on my heel with this elevated heel method. On downhills I was a little more cautious, due to the openness, but was able to run efficiently. The laces held my foot in place and I did not feel any stress in one specific area. One thing I was worried about was the thong part on downhills. Luckily there was no more force than anywhere else in this area, keeping my toe webbing comfortable.

When To Use?
I wouldn't want to use these sandals in a major race right off the bat. They are too unfamiliar. I would like to get at least a hundred miles on them before attempting to use them for an ultra. This is kind of my rule for any new shoe, but I feel it is important when transitioning from a shoe to a sandal.

If I stay in Georgia my first use for these will be in Merrill's Mile. It may even be earlier, but I haven't considered any other races.

I plan to keep these off of the roads. I have other shoes for that, including invisible shoes. I consider these trail sandals and I have had some problems with trail shoes on the road(tread wearing down). I figure I better just use the right too for the job and not risk ruining my sandals.

Compared To:
Now I will compare these to other shoes I have had experience with.
  • Vibram Five Finger KSO, KSO Trek, or KomodoSport - These are more open and have a thicker sole and block the sharp and pointy rocks. No grip on the toes and less stress on the toenails. The sandals naturally have less rub spots than VFFs, because there is less shoe. VFFs are more popular nowadays and are probably more socially acceptable.
  • Invisible Shoes - These are thicker and feel more substantial. They are also quieter(I may need to cut the soles on the invisible shoes for a less slappy sound). I think the lacing system is more comfortable on the Lunas. The ATS laces are much more comfortable than the rope supplied with the Invisible Shoes. Invisible shoes do provide more ground feel and a more liberating experience.
  • Sanuk Sidewalk Surfers - My Sanuks got me through Merrills mile when my other shoes just felt uncomfortable. Sanuks are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. With that being said, I think my go-to shoe after all other running shoes have failed would be my Leadvilles, then my Sanuks. Sanuks tend to slide around when I run, but for walking and just trying to keep moving Sanuks are nice.
  • Merrell Trail Gloves - Trail Gloves provide a rock plate and are an excellent shoe option. Leadvilles are more comfortable to wear in messy situations. In my opinion it is easier to embrace nature than fight it. If I am going to be running through water it would be easier to wear the Leadvilles. Trail Gloves have a few spots that put pressure on my foot, especially on the downhills. This does not exist with the Lunas. Merrells and VivoBarefoot Neo Trails(below) are probably the most socially acceptable minimalist shoes on this list.
  • VivoBarefoot Neo Trails - These are kind of in the same boat as the Merrells. They don't have a rock plate, but are thinner than the Luna Sandals. The Neo Trails have a pinch spot as well, unlike the Leadvilles. I still highly recommend this shoe to minimalist trail runners.
But it is winter in the US... Aren't you cold?
Very observant of you! Previously when I ran barefoot full time I did run in the cold. The amazing thing about feet is that they are kind of like hands! When they are cold and get used, they warm up! Cold feet wouldn't really be an issue unless you were running in the snow(which may soak shoes and have the same outcome). Typically it takes a mile for the feet, and body, to warm up. After that it's all comfortable.

Some Questions
I asked the good people of /r/barefootrunning if they had any questions they wanted answered. I only got a few responses, but they were good questions. I may have answered these questions already, but I will put my answer below their questions. You can read the full thread here.

How well do they stay attached to your feet? I've always feared catching the top half of the sandal on something (a root, step, stone, whatever).
Comfort? Do the straps dig into your feet at all? -jammism

I feared that the lip would catch on something, but it hasn't yet. So far I have done a 3 mile run and an 11 mile run with them on semi-technical trail and I have yet to snag it. I think it is something to look out for, but less likely to happen than perceived. I will have to see how well that statement holds after I am extremely fatigued and not paying attention to what I am doing.

They are very comfortable. The thicker sole is nice on the trail and the straps are wide enough to not put pressure in all one spot(like a rope would). They don't dig into my feet. I did notice the buckle(similar to that of a backpack strap) was drawing some pressure to the area. I loosened the strap just a tiny bit and it moved the buckle just a hair.
When you adjust these it doesn't feel like you are actually moving the strap, but after a little pull on the strap it does actually get tighter and more snug.

How many miles did you get out of them, and on what terrain, until the treads started to wear out, if at all?  -imgladtheworldisflat

I literally just got them, so I am still doing durability testing. I can tell from the construction that I should be able to get at least 1000 miles out of them before some maintenance needs to be done. They are very simple as far as structure goes, so doing little work on them wouldn't be a big deal. The soles are treaded vibram soles, so I would imagine they would last similar to that of the five fingers.

Tread wear depends on what terrain you run on. I plan on keeping these strictly for the trail and avoiding roads as much as possible. I made the mistake of wearing trail shoes on a road one time and it wore down the tread faster than that of the trail.

I am going to start logging in my runs which shoes I wore and creating a durability list on my site so others can know what to expect from their purchases.

I just bought them. They are awesome. Better than invisibleshoes. I even use them for backpacking. -Gamermatt

Yep. I have invisible shoes and I prefer the ATS lacing over traditional huarache lacing.

I am very excited to be a Luna Leadville owner. They are super comfortable and a very liberating option for minimalist trail runners. I would highly recommend them for anyone interested. With the 30-day guarantee, you can't go wrong.

I did notice that they are no longer listed on the Luna Sandals website. After speaking with them on Twitter I found that they were just out of stock.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Attempting Fruitarianism - Kind of...

Well I am back on that "fruit diet". Basically my goal is to improve recovery times and feel better with it. I am being a little less serious about it this time around, as I still drink beer and have the occasional non-fruit snack.

For some of you wondering how anyone can thrive on just fruit, I am not going to go into a long-winded post about it. To be short, I don't. I also eat vegetables, nuts, seeds, and Avocados(and basically anything else I want because I'm not an extremist). There are plenty of resources, one of the most popular being 80/10/10 by Dr. Douglas Graham.

Anyway, I am using myfitnesspal in conjuction with this to make sure I am eating enough calories. I also like how at the end of the day I can look at which percentages of my calories come from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. I am shooting for 80% carbohydrates, 10% fat, and 10% proteins, but I have found that I usually end up with 90/5/5.

One thing I am finding is that I am not eating enough during the day. Even if myfitnesspal says I am over my calorie limit to lose weight, I feel like the body treats fruits a little different than deep-fried chicken. All I know is that at the end of the day I am hungry and I start to eat out of diet. I think with more food throughout the day I will be able to curve this behavior to maybe just drinking a beer at night with some fruit. 

To eat more during the day I am going to make it easier for me to eat fruit at work. I am bringing a cutting board and a knife so I can easily get into my oranges instead of having to work for it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

2013 24hrs of HOSTELity Race Review

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to participate in 24hrs of HOSTELity, hosted by DUMAss Events. Knowing the course, and my goals for this year, I decided to just go out, have fun, and not get injured. With these goals in mind I was not confident from the start that I would run the full 24 hours.

The race started at 9:01. Willy lead us through our first lap, then we were on our own. The course is a very hilly, 1 km loop. On a faster loop one could run it in about 7 minutes. Obviously records are not meant to be set here. With that being said, Willy did create belt buckles for anyone daring enough to hit 100 miles.

The first 15 laps went by fast. I knew that my leg would give me problems soon. Before this race I had tightness above my knee and around my foot. I got a massage the day before the race, which helped me run farther than I expected. Anyway, sooner or later during the day I felt the pain come back. I couldn't run correctly. When I could "run" my downhills involved a straight left leg, a bent right leg, and some hopping. Not good for preventing injury.
Luckily DUMAss events had a sports chiropractor there that knows their stuff. They helped me with some stretches. This got me going again for a few miles.

I would have times when the pain was minimal and I was really able to kick it up, then there were other times when I just wanted to stop.
Around noon I grabbed a beer and went around the course. Drinking and running is something I have never tried. The beer made me feel a little bloated, but I enjoyed the beer more than I disliked feeling bloated, so no worries there.

More laps went by. I was off and on as far as my leg went. I popped some Ibuprofen and got into my red wine(I came prepared!). The red wine was excellent. I drank it like water for a few laps, taking sips when necessary. This did not make me feel bloated, tasted delicious, and gave me a little buzz to reduce pain.

Now you may be thinking, "So you are running, drinking alcohol, and taking Ibuprofen? You are going to get sick!!!" Nope, in fact I think this race was one of my best feeling races as far as stomach goes. This may have been also helped by the fact that I think I ate more calories than I burned all day. :)

As the day went on I made friends with a few people. I used these people to make me want to walk more. For example, one friend was stopped and telling everyone she was done. I asked her just to walk a lap with me.  We chatted and before we knew it the lap was over with. I set out to do another lap and about a minute later I could see her starting another. I love in these races, no matter what position you are in, you can be friend with the person in first and the person in last. Best of all, the way the course is laid out you can see a lot of the runners in different stages of the loop while running.

My parents visited me and helped me with my leg. My mom let me borrow her Zensah calf compression and put in over my knee. She also stretched me out. After doing that I was able to run again!

Meanwhile, Angela McVay is kicking tail out there. She was in a race with Margaret Curcio for first place. All throughout the day they are back and forth. Now it is 1.5 hours from the finish and Angela needs to make up a lap. I hook up with Angela and she is tearing it up. She must be running those 7 minute laps I was telling you about earlier. Surely nobody is out there throwing it down like she is now! On our second lap together Angela passes Margaret, putting Angela on the same lap as Margaret for the moment. Angela still has to loop around Margaret to take the lead. Angela and I kick it for a few more laps, my leg locks up on me, and I have to let her go.

Walking slow again I expect Margaret to come by any time now, but she doesn't. At the end of the lap I am greeted by a friend who informs me that Margaret is done. Margaret apparently was just trying to get some training miles in. Angela comes plowing down the big hill and we tell her the news.

For some reason Angela keeps kicking. I get a few more laps in and hang out next to the fire for a while.

At the end of the race Angela lets me know that she won the 12 hours overall, and that if someone from the night doesn't beat her she will get first place in the event. I was so excited for her. She worked hard all day and deserved to win. On a side note, the laps have not been posted on Ultra Signup, so I don't know if she actually won or not.

After Angela leaves I hang out indoors for a while and talk with some people. Candy, one of the volunteers and a killer ultra runner, made some delicious chicken orzo soup. I had to stay to enjoy that(and sober up).

Finally around 10 PM I turn in my race chip and tell Willy that I am going home. He hands me a really nice plaque with the race info on it. I tried to go around and thank everyone, and if I didn't I apologize. I appreciate each and every person that helped me during the race.

After taking a shower and laying in bed I had no regrets for leaving. I have a very important and expensive race coming up in a few weeks. I want to be injury free for that and maybe try to compete with some of the pros.

This means over the next few weeks I will probably keep it low mileage and do a ton of stretching, maybe even some Yoga. The massage therapist I visited told me multiple times that I needed to stretch my quads out. I know with my barefoot running technique my quads do get used a lot. They deserve some attention.

Anyway, thanks for reading and if you were there and you took any pictures, or wrote a blog, let me know and leave a link! I will add more photos to this blog later.

UPDATE: Some more experiences:
I forgot about a few things I meant to mention.
  • There was a girl there wearing Barefoot Ted's Luna Sandals. I haven't done much research on these, but they looked really well constructed and comfortable. She only did a few laps with them(as far as i know) before switching to vffs. The steep hills probably led to some sliding around. I have messaged her about them and am waiting to hear back.
  • Jim, "Godzilla" , was a super cool guy that I met. I could hear him coming up on me. He has a distinctive breathing pattern, similar to what Dr. Nicholas Rominov teaches. Instead of deep breaths he almost pants. I am not sure if this is intentional or not. :) This coupled with his tight-leg-muscle-dowhnill-technique made me give him the nickname Godzilla. We cheered each other on all day and told each other we looked good.