Tuesday, December 24, 2013

New Sponsors for 2014

First off, Merry Christmas to those of you celebrating!  Happy New Year! I have a little quote to bring into the new year:

Be where you are right now and be there with intention, strength and flexibility.  There's no where else to go but where you are right now.  

 and, a favorite of mine:

“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way.”
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull 

My Running & Race Directing in the New Year 
2014 is looking to be super exciting! I have created some new races that I am more passionate about than ever (that little Tahoe 200 mile Endurance Run & Deception Pass Half & Chuckanut Mountain Marathon).  My Bellingham Trail Running Series is really taking off and I've had incredible response to making it a half marathon series with some other distances thrown in.

Continued Support
I'd like to thank Smith Optics & Hypoxico Altitude Tents for their continued support. 
Pearl Izumi Trail M2.  Yes, that is real dirt. Doesn't come with the shoes, but pairs well with them anyway...
New Smith Optics sunglasses just in time for Hawaii!!  I had my other ones stolen from my car.  Damn style conscious Bellingham thief.
PI Ultra Team
If that weren't enough, I was just a little, ok ok, I was really excited to get a message from Scott Jaime. THE Scott Jaime, inviting me on to the 2014 Pearl Izumi Ultra Team! Last summer Scott set an impressive overall FKT 486-mile Colorado Trail in 8 days, 7 hours, 40 minutes, and 17 seconds!  What a talented group of runners PI has for 2014.  I'm in good company.
Ultimate Direction
I'll be hydrating with Ultimate Direction gear this year as well, thank you UD!!! I've been really impressed with UD's commitment to lightweight running vests. I'm excited to try the Jenny Collection.  I will use the Ultra Vesta for HURT 100 in Januaury. Love the new women's colors!
Ultra Vest, Jenny Collection

Chillin in the Hypoxico Altitude Tent

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Existential Crisis of Runners

Why do we get up each day and run, day after day after day? What drives us? Is it worth the sacrifice? I recently received an email about this running existential crisis from a friend. She wanted to know if I ever feel a little lost in where my running takes me.


At first it is exciting to be doing something new, something that I feel like might be impossible.  Ultras are fun in the beginning because we are excited by doing something so big. Once I knew I could do a 50k, 50 mile, 100 mile, ultras lost a little luster.  I couldn't do the long races anymore solely to prove to myself that I could finish since I already knew that.  So I started competing, trying to place and run fast.  But competition is fickle and it's only a little satisfying to win.  So why do it?  This threw me into an existential running crisis a year ago and I dropped from a few 100 mile races because I was not excited about the race courses. I knew I could finish, but finishing wasn't enough anymore.  I needed a deeper meaning.

Lately, for me running has been about building a community.  I run so I can have my tribe.  I'm really not sure why I do anything in life... unless it's hugging my little girls or reading a book to them before bedtime. In the end, it's the connections I make with others that give my running meaning.  I also love being fit and that takes work, so I do the work. I wish I had a good answer for myself and my friend who asked the question in the first place.

I know as deeply as anyone that in the end, it's just you and the life you've made for yourself.  Don't expect anyone to hold your hand or be there for you when the going gets tough.  But you can always go for a run.  No one can take that joy away from you.  The best thing you can do for yourself is pick an adventure that excites you and go for it, full of fear, but holding nothing back.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thank you from a Runner

As I sit on my new spinning desk (bicycling while working), I can think of too many things to mention that I am thankful for.  I'll just list 6 since that's about as long as your attention span is anyway:

1. My plantar fasciitis is gone. How did this happen? I really have no fucking idea, but I give thanks for its disappearance. My only inkling is that perhaps I shifted my attention to getting stronger rather than being injured.

2. I don't just like my job, I love it. I love my work as much as I love my running. And that's a whole heck of a lot. I am super excited for all the races I am directing in 2014.

3. Crazy ultra runners. Thanks to all the crazy ultrarunners, my dream of organizing a 200 mile race around Lake Tahoe looks like it will be a success.  I've been floored and equally thankful for all the interest and attention the race has received.

4. The unknown. I couldn't be more surprised about what direction my life has gone in. Five years ago I could've never imagined that I'd be where I am now. Some truly amazing opportunities have opened up for me during times when I thought life couldn't possibly get any worse. Why this happens to me, I'm not sure, but I've never given up in believing in the magic of the universe.

5. My trail running club: I started the club a year ago and I feel a real sense of community forming. Plus, they are making me faster since many of them are shorter distance trail runners who run every step. 100 mile training is overrated! Run fast!

6. My family: It's my family that is the spine of the body of everything I do. It holds me up and shapes everything I do. The support & love of the people closest to me make life so much more beautiful.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Kill a Hill

You want to kill some demons? Kill some fucking hills already.
The view from the top isn't too bad at 7 a.m.
On that note, today was time for some serious hill repeats.  Sometimes we need to let off a little steam and a good long hill session is a perfect therapy.  I recently did a write up on 12 keys to 100 Mile Success where I explained the importance of hill workouts.  Pine and Cedar trail in Bellingham, Washington is perfect for this particular hill worout:
  • Long, Steep Hills with Lots of Vert: (1x week, can alternate with short steep hills) pick a 2 mile climb that is so steep you have to fast hike it (example: 2 miles with 1,500ft plus of climbing).  Fast hiking is key to 100 milers. As you improve, begin running the least steep sections. Really push your cardio. This should not feel good. You can do one repeat of this workout, for a total of 4 miles and really push it. As you get closer to your event, work up to 4-6 repeats (16-24 miles) and it becomes a good endurance workout with lots of vert.
One thing I love about doing six repeats on this 4 mile roudtrip climb of 1,600 feet (24 miles, 9,600 ft vert) is the look of disbelief I see from hikers when they see me doing it not once, not twice, but three times in the span of their one climb.  It's sort of fun to blow minds, and it makes the monotony more interesting.  This coming week, I challenge you to blow a few minds and kill some fucking hills (and demons). 

It wasn't enough to do multiple repeats. My friend is an overachiever. Heavy pack didn't slow her much.
Heather Anderson, aka "Anish" of fast hiking PCT record fame, and K-Doug

Sunday, November 17, 2013

12 Keys to 100 Mile Success

“Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like the muscles of the body.” -Lynn Jennings

Despite all the training in the world, it really comes down to mental toughness and preparedness. This is what our training should in its essence teach us. It is too easy to quit, but the rewards of completion are worth fighting for not just on race day, but everyday we hit the trails or the gym.  Each run you do must have an intention.  Sometimes it will be recovery. Then you take it very easy or skip the run all together if your body is tired. Other times it will be to put in those extra 5 stair sprints or run the 30 miles, instead of 20, you know you need to run.  Here are my 12 keys to 100 mile Success:

1. Hit up the Hills. Too often people don't train for the kind of terrain they will encounter.  Even if your 100 miler isn't super hilly, doing hill workout will build strength and mental toughness.  This doesn't mean forcing yourself up a hill once a week, it means literally busting your butt doing multiple types of hill repeats and hilly long runs during the week. Here are the 4 key hill workouts to practice:
  • Long, Steep Hills with Lots of Vert: (1x week, can alternate with short steep hills) pick a 2 mile climb that is so steep you have to fast hike it (example: 2 miles with 1,500ft plus of climbing).  Fast hiking is key to 100 milers. As you improve, begin running the least steep sections. Really push your cardio. This should not feel good. You can do one repeat of this workout, for a total of 4 miles and really push it. As you get closer to your event, work up to 4-6 repeats (16-24 miles) and it becomes a good endurance workout with lots of vert.
  • Short, Steep Hills or Stairs: (1 x week, can alternate with long, steep hills) These are used for sprint repeats. I use a set of stairs that climbs to the top of a street in my neighborhood. It's 65 feet of climbing in less than 1/10 of a mile. It's just short enough that I can stomach 10 repeats, or more, but I'm keeled over panting by the top. Prefect torture. To make this a complete workout, pair it with a easy 4 mile warmup and 1-2 mile cool down. 
  • 2-3 minutes balls to the wall: (1x week) Pick a very steep hill and run it as fast as you can for 2-3 minutes. Use the downhill as recovery, and rest at the bottom as long as needed. Repeat. Repeat. 
  • Long Hilly Runs: (1x week) The hills don't have to be super steep, but they should be similar to the ones you will encounter in your 100 miler. This should be your long run every week. Begin with whatever distance you usually do for a long run and work up to a weekly long run of 20-30 miles with a couple of 50 milers (can be races) in the months leading up to your race.  
2. Downhill Speed/Adaptation: In addition to working on your uphill speed, you will want to work on your downhill speed. A lot of runners lose time on the downhills.  It's a shame, since it's easy to improve on the downhills. Use the workouts in #1 to focus on your downhill speed as well.  Every week make sure one of your "hill" workouts focuses on going fast on the downhills.  You will also want to get your legs ready for the downhill pounding that is a 100 mile race. Downhill specific workout:
  • Pick a steep 5 mile uphill out and back route. Run/hike the uphill easy, use it as a warmup. For the downhill really push the pace.  Make your self uncomfortable.  Work up to 2-3 repeats. If you don't have a 5 mile hill, use a shorter one and do more repeats. 
3. Practice regularly with your race gear, nutrition, and hydration: It is essential to practice with EVERY damn thing you might use during the race and make sure it works for you. Long runs and "B" races are a great time to practice.  Want to do well? You better have your nutrition and hydration dialed in. Best way to do that is during training runs or races that mimic the 100 mile course. Be sure to use the clothing, packs, food, powders, pills, socks and shoes that you plan to use. Don't start doing this 2 weeks before your race. Start 3 months before your race. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready for your run.  On another note, just because you can eat real food in training runs DOES NOT mean you can while racing. Practice your nutrition in a 50 mile or 100k race to know for sure.

4.  Long Run & Back to Back Long Runs: As mentioned above in hill workouts, you will need to add a long run and work up to 20-30 miles weekly, although it's been done on less. This is just the ideal. Your long runs should mimic the race course you are preparing for.  It is also good to have a few races in the months leading up to your 100 miler. Keep in mind that any races done less than 4 weeks before your race could hurt your race day performance and are risky.  Back to back long runs are a good way to get time on your feet but break up the impact of a one day really long run.

5. Recovery Runs: These runs help add mileage and prepare your body for the  mileage of a 100 miler. They should be VERY VERY easy. Walk if you need to. No pace is too slow. You must keep it easy or your quality runs will suffer.

6. Tempo Runs/Speed Work: Be sure to push yourself with some speed workouts. Sure, a 100 miler is slow, but if you get faster if will be that much easier. A few of my fav's for this are:
  • 1 mile repeats with 2-3 minutes rest (at 5k pace)
  • Hill Speed Workouts (see above)
  • 6-12 mile tempo runs: run at a slightly uncomfortable pace the entire time.
  • Interval: Set your watch. Begin by running for 8 minutes easy, 1 minute hard and work up to 3 minutes easy, 2minutes hard. You can vary this workout any way you see fit. 
7. Practice what you SUCK at: This may be the most important training tip yet. Are you bad at hills? Start doing hills all the time. Do so many hills they seem flat. Practicing what you suck at will make you a better and tougher runner.

8. Start a Stregth Training Program: You could do my 15 minute a day program or you could attend a class a few times a week, get a personal trainer, or join Crossfit (but don't overdue it or your running training will suffer). Increased strength will make you a much better runner.  Be sure to work on your legs too, for example if you can't do one legged squats then you better start practicing. Start small, build up. Make whatever you do, well DOABLE. Otherwise you will wimp out.

9. Cross train: I bike almost every day in addition to running. I like to use a trainer and bike indoors during the winter. I do a interval workout for 44 minutes that's 1 minute hard, 3 minutes easy. 11 reps. The key?  No impact, lots of muscle benefits.  Cross training is excellent for a recovery day or when you're feeling over trained.  Just make sure it doesn't interfere with your running and the energy you need to put into running workouts.

10. Enjoy your Workouts.  If you don't enjoy your workouts then what's the point of all this anyway?

11. Rest When You Need it: Even if your rest day is always Saturday, take a rest day when your body needs it. This is the art of training your body to rebuild into a stronger, faster runner. Without rest days, you will plateau or even back track. If you are tired for a quality workout, it won't be quality. Sure, on occasion the point of a workout is to run on tired legs, but this should not be done on a regular basis. It is the path to over training and injury. Take it from someone who is pretty good at both.  Some signs it's time to rest:
  • trouble breathing on an easy run
  • tired legs on terrain you can usually run
  • often sleepy during the day even when you get a full nights sleep
  • lethargic, irritable, agitated, dizzy, or other odd symptoms
  • soreness
  • niggles: little aches and pains that don't seem to go away
  • craving unhealthy foods
  • mental: feeling like you have to run or you will lose fitness even with just one or two days off
  • catching a cold or flu
12. Dial in your Nutrition. This means two things to me:
  • Experiment with race day nutrition as mentioned in #3. The runner who can stay fueled properly will be much more likely to do well and finish the race.  Figure out what works for you or your run will be more of a sufferfest than it needs to be.
  •  Eat healthy to train well. Everyone is different, but eating whole foods in general is a good idea. Cutting out sugar and other empty calories is a must in my book.  For most people eating only whole foods (no cheating!) will have them at a race ready weight come race day.  Extra pounds equals extra suffering and slower times.  Personally, I also choose to cut out all grains and most added salt focusing on lots of vegetables, fruit, and protein.
HURT 100, Oahu, Hawaii
Comments: what would you add to this list?

For more daily fitness ideas, inspiration, and humor, check out my Facebook Page

Yoga based core and strength exercises on my YouTube Channel
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Sunday, October 27, 2013

November Challenge: 15 minutes of Strength for Runners

We all know we need to do it. So let's do it together: a quick daily strength based workout for everyone. I completed the 200/100 Challenge for October everyday because I knew you were all counting on me! There is no reason not to complete this workout EVERYDAY.  Strength comes in consistency. Without consistency, we have nothing.  

The plan is to come up with a roughly 15 minute workout each month that will play to your weaknesses making you stronger overall.  The workouts will focus on core specifically with upper body and leg work that will make you stronger as a runner.  If this workout is too hard, and it just might be, cut the reps in half. It only works if it is something you will do everyday, and if it's too hard, you won't do it.

To join the group on Facebook, go to our event page.  Without further ado, here is November's Challenge: 125/200/125+ 2 min plank

2 minutes of Plank, downward facing. This will be very hard for some of you. I suggest taking it in segments if it is. If I am unable to hold it for 2 minutes I take very brief breaks in downward dog.
Extra Credit: 30 seconds side plank, on each side, for a total of 1 minute. 30 seconds of upward facing plank.   
125 Alternate Arm/legs:
Do 5 rounds of this:
10 pushups (50 pushups total)
10 triceps pushups (50 triceps pushups total)
5 one legged squats, or 10 regular squats (25 one legged squats per leg total)
Variation/advanced: add in Kettlebell swings.

200 Core: (in addition to the plank)
100 Bicycle crunches
100 other core work: example bicycle legs, vertical leg crunches, hip lift, etc.

125 Full Body: (repeat 5 times)
10 mountain climbers
5 burpees
Hold squat for 10 seconds, sit into it deeply with good form, see picture.
Squat good form

Alternate squat/butt workout

Bicycle Crunch

Plank, face down, with variation leg lift

Side plank
Triceps pushup

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Tahoe Running & a BIG Surprise

Loon Lake Trail Run
A Running Vacation in Tahoe
I've never been to Lake Tahoe in the fall, and what a treat!  I usually spend some time at the lake in the summer running trails, racing, or helping put on a tour there.  This year I was there during the hottest days of the summer for my failed FKT around the TRT.  This past week it was really lovely to run in the sun with that crisp feeling of autumn and beautiful fall colors all over the mountains.  It was warm enough to run without a shirt and in shorts. All the pics are from the runs I did this week near Tahoe.

2014 Races
On another note, I am working on a really big project that I hope to make into a pretty amazing race. I'll give you a hint: there's nothing like it. It is going to be super unique and pretty crazy and the beginning of a new chapter in ultra races in the US!  This is why I have been too busy to blog much lately.  I have a whole new website to add content to and it's a lot of work.  Keep your fingers crossed.  I'm hoping to hear from some permitting folks soon and then I can announce this MONSTER project, just in time for Halloween.

 10/23 Loon Lake Trail 9 miles total

10/24: Ward Creek to Stanford Rock/TRT intersection 10.5 miles total

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My Imaginary Podcast with Trail Runner Nation (and the real one too!)

I was pretty stoked to say the least when Scott Warr of Trail Runner Nation asked me to go on the podcast this week and talk to them about my latest write up, The Every Person's Guide to Trail Running Lingo. My write up is really not what it purports to be, readers be warned. It's written for the trail runner who has been in the sport long enough to see the humor in my "definitions."  Rather than give traditional definitions, I give funny, sometimes crass definitions for various ultra running terms. So you can see why I was surprised when TRN contacted me!  I thought, wow, here I go with one of (what I think) is my most crude, potty mouth obnoxious posts and they want me to talk about it on the air! Sweeeeet. Oh god. What did I just get myself into?!  To celebrate, I'm going to give you an imaginary conversation I had with the folks at TRN, before I even spoke to them! Think of it as the pre-interview. Or the nervous "I'm-better-at-writing-than-speaking-interview".  

Don: Hi Candice. So first off, let's just get it off the table. Why are you such a potty mouth?

Candice: <Pause> Uh, er, well.... I guess I need a filter, like coffee.  You know <nervously rambling>  I like coffee. Ultra runners like coffee. Do you like coffee?

Scott: Uhhh, yeah.  I...

Candice: So when I make coffee I use this cool little one cup espresso press. It's all by hand. Damn, what's the name of that press? Well, my point being that it has a really good filter. 
Don: Which is what you need?

Candice: Exactly. I'm going to mount one of those filters over my mouth, tape it on real good. Wait...hold on... right now.  Before I let loose any doozies.

Scott: If Faith was here, she'd be pleased.

Don: She opted out.  Err, we guys thought it was funny, you know, your trail lingo. But Faith is a bit more feminine and-

Candice: cultured? I knew it!  Damn. Well maybe she'll join us next time when I talk about my newest post: "How to Match Your Nail Color with Your Sweat Stained Shorts".

Don: Not sure that filter is working Candice, haha.  That's not really the point I was making.

Candice: Gee guys, this is going so well!  Haha <nervous laugh> I'm so happy to be on here. Can we talk about beer?

 Scott: That's Ultra Runner Podcast.

Candice: Oh yeah, right <blushing>.  Well, I thought I'd prove I was a real ultra runner by consuming not 1, not 2, but 4 beers before talking to you.  And running a lap for each one. Like a beer run!

Scott: So... you forgot about #3 and basically you can swear and shit talk, but don't tell us you're drunk.

Candice: Oh.  Not to worry, I'm good for another, maybe 2 beers.  And anyway, I'm just trying to loosen up! Haha, ha....<nervous laugh>

Don: <Clearly changing subject> So, Scott and I were on a run this morning wearing our Petzels and Scott, like he always says, was like "Don, thank you so much for getting me up at 4:20 this morning. I was going to kill you when you called, but I would've had to kill my phone too. And that's just taking it too far."

Candice: Yo, I heard this one. You like the Petzel? And poor Scott. How could you make him get up every morning at 4:20. Waiiiiit a minute. Does this have to do with the new marijuana laws? I knew it! That explains a lot guys.

Don: What do you mean exactly? We're in Callie, Not Washie.

Scott: She means that our sound is dank.  It's cool Don.  Anyway, moving on.  Candice, we're planning on describing you on our podcast as an "active" blogger. Could you please comment on blogging activeness. That's some blogging lingo.

Candice: Ooooh, impressive. I, too, am a fan of making lingo by adding "ness" or "ing".  But, yeah, active blogging, it's really an endangered species.  It's like the Siber Toothed Tiger of blogs.

Don: Haha, I once made a blog, posted about my 5 mile run and my 10 mile run. And then I kinda got bored.

Scott: Who got bored?  Don, you had a blog?  I would've read your blog.  What did you call it?

Don: The Doninator Runs.

Scott: Like the Terminator?

Candice: So about the blogging--

Don: That's why we're friends! Wanna watch the show tomorrow night?

Candice: Sure.

Scott & Don: Ummmm, ahh....(looking at each other) We were talking about here in Californie.

Scott: Moving on, again, so if you listen to Trail Runner Nation Candice, how come you haven't made fun of us?

Candice: Good question. Not to worry, I'm working on it.

Don: Very good. Now on to Trail Running Lingo. 

Without further ado, my interview with Trail Runner Nation.  Thanks guys! Check out their other podcasts. There's a plethora of great interviews. Some of my personal favs? Check out anything with Warren Pole.  Also join the conversation at Trail Runner Nation.  Yes, they have an active forum!  Oh, and let's not forget one of the most important trail running terms Scott and Don taught me about: PEK, Performance Enhancing Kokopelli. Get one or 20, it apparently enhances ultra performance. Great for gear junkies like me ;-)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

10 Things Dog Owners Should Never Say to Runners

Dedicated to all the leg-humping-teeth-baring carnivores out there.

After conducting an enlightening poll of runners about dog encounters, I've come up with some statements that dog owners should never say to runners.  It's not so much that the dog is the problem, it's the ridiculous statements their owners make to runners and other non-tethered folks.  Don't get me wrong, I love dogs and most dog owners.  I just find you funny and obnoxious.

It's OK, he's friendly!  As person's dog lunges and bears its teeth at runner.  If you have to say he's friendly, there's a problem.

He really likes you!   This either means the dog just humped your leg, jumped up on you, or is wiggling his body like the wound-up-under-exercised-ADD dog that he is.  Also goes along with "Oh sorry she's still a puppy." An apparent excuse for bad behavior and leg sex.

Oh sorry, she's still a puppy.  That explains why the 100 pound dog just jumped up on me.

She's just scared.  I'd say that looks more like some serious carnivorous intentions.

She won't bite.  If you have to say this, then she really might bite and I'm not coming anywhere near that piranha on a leash.The next thing these owners are likely to say is:

Oh my, he's never done THAT before. Well, thanks for clarifying and not apologizing. 

He has a high prey drive. No way! Is that why he just ran off into the bushes after that squirrel?

He's afraid of kids. I call that aggressive and dangerous.

She loves giving kisses.  Actually, I think she likes salt and has a penchant for french kissing.

He's in training. You mean you're in training?  Dogs respond to their owner's behavior. Good leadership equals good dog behavior.

Now go walk your dog and please don't forget to pick up your little baggies of shit. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Being Vulnerable by Recognizing Our Common Humanity

I love it when people write or talk about their life challenges with a dirty paintbrush, reminding us that life is messy.  Telling it like it is.  There's a disconnect between our own experiences and what we see on social media. How often do we become vulnerable to our audience, our friends, even our own families?  I often write something only to edit it into what I think others can handle.  What?! You say.  Considering what a potty mouth I have, you're surprised aren't you?  

Social media only adds to the problem of everyone's seemingly perfect life. We post pictures of our amazing trips where we're smiling, running, winning, and enjoying good food.  Can we even live up to our own profiles? Are our relationships so perfect? Are we super fit?  Um, no, no, no!  I once had a friend tell me that life really is like the TV show Desperate Housewives.  If you haven't seen it, it's full of dramatic events that are (mostly) well hidden under a smooth, beautiful surface.  At the time I thought, yeah whatever, mine's not.  Then I took up ultra running, went through a nasty divorce, and had some secrets of my own that I'll spare you from.  I became very close with a few of my friends who shared their own shocking secrets with me.  I was stunned. Here we all were living in quiet desperation thinking we were all alone all the while everyone else was too.  

I guess it's not practical to think that we can share our struggles with just anyone, nor is it a good idea on social media.  Yet there must be a way we can be more real.  How do we become more genuine with those close to us and honest in social media settings without creating a big pity party?  Being vulnerable is hard but it is exactly what makes us compassionate and bonds us to each other. We alienate ourselves when we hide parts of ourselves and when we smooth over our lives.  

  Dirty Truths about Life as an Active Human
  • Life is boring.  Don't let Facebook fool you. Life can be a fucking monotonous load of crap. Take it from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, published in 1798, sometimes life is like being on a sailboat with no wind to move you where you want to go:
All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
'Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, no breath no motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

  • Life is Unpredictable: Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  You win a race, complete a FKT, PR on our favorite run... the highs can be so high.  But the lows are often equally dramatic. Don't put too much on any one event (good luck with that one). It's too darn depressing when it isn't the brilliant success you wanted.

  • We all have Addictions: In the broadest sense, we all have things that we use to keep us from feeling vulnerable, feeling our emotions or anything else that scares us.  Maybe it's a drug or maybe it's an addiction to a person, exercise, food, work, internet.... the list could go on.  We all have something that we turn to when we don't want to feel.

  •  We all have Fantasies: All you have to do is listen to an episode of Dan Savage's Savage Lovecast to know that you're not alone.  Where do all these people come from? I don't think I know any in my daily life.... or do I?! 

  • We Write Our Own Story: When aren't most people spinning the string of their life into some sort of story?  We all do it.  Isn't this what training is?  We try to create the picture that we want the world to see, backing up peoples' online social feeds with disgustingly happy, fit, romantic stories.  Ultimately, that we can write our own story is a very, very good thing. Don't waste your opportunity.

  • We are all slow: At least sometimes. Yes, some of us are way slower than others, but there's always someone waiting in the wings to kick your slow ass.   I recently ran and DNF'd the Run Rabbit Run (dropped at mile 20). I ran in the hare race, which is the elite field.  All the "normal" runners do the Tortoise race and start 4 hours earlier. So there's like 40 bad ass runners starting in my "fast" heat and I line up after a night of severe gastrointestinal issues (we'll leave it at that). Lo and behold I experienced something I've never, ever experienced and hope to never experience again: the dreaded DFL. Until it was DNF that is. Yep.  I feel your pain back of the packers.

  • We're all Scared Shitless.  Recently, it was a message from Trail Runner Podcast wanting to interview me for a podcast. OMG!  I've always wanted to be on a podcast but all of a sudden all my insecurities came out.  To grow, we must get through our fear. When we avoid it, we may be missing the greatest opportunities of our lives.  Take it from Georgia O'Keeffe: I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.  

  • We are No Better than a Herd of Cows: Ok, we're a little more advanced.  I'm sorry to break it to you folks, but don't we all just seek acceptance most the time?  Oh, this is the pitfall of so many of us!  We lose our sense of style, our beauty, our creativity, our very souls by seeking acceptance.  No, I'm not being dramatic.  This is serious stuff folks.  We lose who we are when we join the herd of mooing beasts.  Originally, I got into ultras to do something different and exciting.  Not to ruin it for all the newbies, but it's just another herd. Moooooooo
  • Sunday, October 6, 2013

    200/100 Daily Challenge

    As runners we often neglect our overall body fitness for a good jog in the park, a scramble up a mountain, or a track workout.  As great as running is, we'd all have better fitness if we added a strength workout.  I'm no expert, but I can claim to inconsistently practicing yoga and various body weight exercises since high school. I even had an off season romance with Crossfit.  Yep, I'm one of those runners.

    I own 3 kettle bells, a yoga mat, pull up bar, and a barbell.  My parents had a basement full of hardcore weight lifting equipment when I was a kid.  My siblings and I mostly just used the space for rollerblading and writing the year in the dust on the Fitness Equipment Station (1996) and laughing at posters of thick veined, greasy weightlifters in 80's spandex.  Perhaps it set the stage for my so-far-life-long relationship with guilt and inconsistency in my strength routine.  That is about to change.  The most important thing I learned over the past 15 years of inconsistency is that consistency trumps intensity or duration. Clearly duration and intensity are good, but if you set a goal for yourself that is too hard to attain daily, you won't do it consistently.  So here's my challenge to all the runners out there:

    200/100 Daily Challenge

    Simple: Every single day you do 200 reps of core/abdominal work and 100 reps of upper body work, in addition to your regular running routine.  You can do reps of anything you like. You can change it up every day or weekly. But you must do 200/100. We're counting on you.  I did the workout the past 2 days when I put in loooong workdays on my feet and just wanted to curl up in bed with a good movie.

    For some of you, this is going to be really tough. If that's the case, ease into it with a 100/50 challenge. For those of you that it's really easy, be sure to slow down on each rep and feel free to add more reps, just don't add so much that you don't want to do it consistently. The beauty of it is that on a day when you don't want to do it, it only takes 10-15 minutes. On a day when you're digging it, add some extra.

    Here are some ideas for what you can do in each category:

    200s: Focus on your core strength
    bicycle legs
    plank (use 1 sec=1 rep)
    kettle bell

    100s: Focus on upper body
    kettle bell
    tricep dip

    Also check out this awesome site: 22 Scientific Core Exercises for some new ideas. This website has hundreds of exercises for mountain athletes to build strength with links to videos/descriptions: Mountain Athlete Exercises

    Want to add in some extras?  After 2 weeks of doing the 200/100 regularly, you may want to add a few more things. I find these two exercises to be very helpful, as a runner:

    2 minutes of plank (continuous). If that's too hard for you, you can give yourself a little break by temporarily going into downward dog. But try to keep doing it for 2 full minutes. 

    Credit: 57 Physique

    One legged Squats
    10 one legged squats (on each side) or 20 reg squats if that's too hard. Tone it down if it hurts your knees. Keep your form!!

    Credit: Running with Jack
    A note for the ladies out there: there is no need to fear muscles.  You will not look big, you will look healthy.  Muscle burns fat.  And like mentioned above with consistency trumping intensity/duration: muscles trump fat!  

    Do you have any exercises you particularly like? Share with us.

    Thursday, October 3, 2013

    The Every Person's Guide to Trail Running Lingo

    All respectable cults, cultures, and clubs have their own unique vocabulary.  Behold the Every Person's Guide to Trail Running Lingo, warning: guaranteed to offend you and/or make you laugh.

    Running by Feel: Basically, it's not wearing a watch. Done by folks disillusioned by the road running religion, cheap as fuck, or forgetful like myself.

    PR: Something runners use to create obnoxious posts on Facebook and athlete pages.

    CR: Also known as Bragging Rights and obnoxious Facebook Posts.

    PB: How Canadians say they've PR'd.  Aren't they cuuute?!

    Technical: Trails made for rugged, rough, adventurous types. I believe you can look up Gary Robbins or Kilian Jornet and you'll get a good idea of this concept.

    Sponsored: A runner who is willing to sell her/his soul for free shoes or a logo'd jersey. Or someone who is fast and has sold their body/blog/website for advertisement purposes.

    No Meat Athlete: The folks who find themselves defending their food choices and B12 levels and have a good sense of superiority and guilt.

    Paleo: The athletes who like to spoil dinner parties and nacho gorging sessions, but still drink copious amounts of craft brewed grain beverages. Also tend to have good sense of superiority and guilt. 

    Road Runner: Runners of the Religious Watch Wearing Factions, Triathletes, and the Club of Suburban Child Bearing Middle Class. Could be of the Suunto, Garmin, or Polar denominations.

    Trail Runner: The runners who claim that they went on a "run" where they hiked half of it and climbed over fallen tree logs the other half of the outing.  Look up James Varner in the Trailepedia. Didn't find him? Oh, yeah!  He's still out bushwhacking in the middle of no where.  I mean "running".

    Pacer: Some lucky bastard's bitch.

    Crew: Some lucky bastard's bitches.

    Bonk: Some unlucky bastard running an ultra who thought it'd be a good idea to eat a ham and cheese sandwich at mile 20, and hasn't eaten since mile 20. Now it's mile 50. Ouch. Also known as running out of glycogen stores.

    Elevation Gain: What you should've done in workouts before your first trail race.  Includes plenty of sweat, heavy breathing, and endorphins. Sound familiar? What's not to like?

    Drop Bag: That bag of shit you never used at the aid station. More stuff = more anxious about the race.

    FKT: A record folks can set without actually competing in person with other runners or giving much verification. Great for runners looking for a new challenge, introverts, fakes, or slow folks who wish they were fast.

    Hokas: Clown Shoes. 100 mile shoes. The anti-Christ to the Minimalist Shoe Movement and arthritis. 

    Minimalist: If you're not naked and shoeless I will not accept your minimalism. Case closed.

    What terms do you have to add? Extra points for sarcasm and humor...

    For more daily fitness ideas, inspiration, and humor, check out my Facebook Page
    Yoga based core and strength exercises on my YouTube Channel
    A little crazy on Instagram
    Short, sweet and sassy on Twitter

    Sunday, September 29, 2013

    10 Rules of Ultra Running

    Before you get your panties all tied in a knot by The Rules, see # 4 and remember that I used my own experience to write these.  Yes, I own a pair of (oh god, shame) leopard print gaiters, see # 7.  I thought I was going to kill myself when I DNF'd the Tahoe Rim FKT last summer, see # 1.  I ran on plantar fasciitis for 9 months and am going stir crazy now, see # 3.  I traded an addiction to nicotine and alcohol for ultra running, see # 2.  I fear the marathon like the slug fears salt (I've only run one road marathon ever and it was my gateway to ultras) see # 5.  Like any good cult, we ultra runners have certain defining aspects, which I present to you without further ado: 

    10 Rules of Ultra Running

    1. Love the DNF. You were on such a good streak. You were so hardcore. Never a DNF in 8 years! You think that makes you an ultrarunning badass? Think again. Once you've been deflowered you will realize it's the DNF that makes you tough as nails.

    2. Do it For the High. Admit it already!  You are as much of a junkie as the next drug addict. So you love the mountains, the serenity...blah, blah, blah. Ok, repeat after me: I love the pain, I love getting into my head and ignoring my body, I love the feeling I get from destroying my body over 100 miles. Ok, good we got that straight.

    3.  It's Not an Injury until You Can't Run: but if you can't tell the difference between a "niggle" and something serious, you'll never be a good ultra runner.  Even experienced ultra runners make the mistake of thinking something is a niggle when it's serious.  You will too.  The more crazy you go when you do have to take a break the more #2 applies to you. 

    4. Kill Your Ego: If running 100 miles doesn't make that ego die, it's gonna be tough. And for ultra runners making the ego die is really, really tough. We like praise and we write/talk about our accomplishments like no other group of addicts: how tough, how crazy, how bad the weather was, how we suffered like it's a badge of honor. We can live off praise for at least a week, no food needed.  How can we become a better runners? Stop talking and writing about how badass we are and get out and run. 

    5.  Fear the Marathon: It's what separates us from the masses right?  Heck, we avoid the dreaded marathon like it's a rest break because deep down we know that running a marathon is just as hard, if not harder than an ultra. Why? Because we have to run fast, no walking breaks. See #6.

    6. Walking=RunningWow, you ran 100 miles!  That is so amazing!  Well.... the dirty secret of ultra runners? We don't "run" 100 miles. We get through 100 miles as fast as we can. There's a lot of walking. Regardless of how much walking, ultrarunners may call a race a "run". Why? I have no fucking idea.

    7. Wear all the Latest Gear at Once: I swear I've seen more crazy styles on ultra runners than I do in a episode of Sex and the City.  Seriously, compression socks and capri pants? Buff headbands? Leopard print arm sleeves?  Compression shorts sticking out under skorts?  Shorts/Skorts over tights? Gaiters? I mean seriously gaiters?  HAVE WE NO SHAME!! No, we don't.  

    8. Sell your Soul or at least your Body: For all those aspiring fast folks and the the ones who are actually fast: get used to putting advertisements all over your body. Consider temporary tattoos, hats/shirts/pants/socks with logos. Heck, even patch a logo onto your pack or shirt. If you're logo'd apparently you've made it.

    9. Change your Profile Picture: You'll need a picture of you running for social media now that you are an ultra runner. While you're at it start an athlete page and invite all your friends. I'm sure they don't get eough updates on your running from just your personal page.

    10. Go Paleo: Or at least pick some sort of creative diet.  It could even be the I-Ran-so-I can-Eat-Anything Diet.  Or the I-Ate-too-Much-so-I-have-to-Run Diet.

    Bonus! 11. Start Liking Beer. 'Nuff said.

    For more daily fitness ideas, inspiration, and humor, check out my Facebook Page

    Yoga based core and strength exercises on my YouTube Channel
    A little crazy on Instagram
    Short, sweet and sassy on Twitter

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    The Way the Water Flows

    I struggled with my decision to do Run Rabbit Run 100 mile in Steamboat Springs or Plain 100 near Leavenworth, Washington, both on the same weekend. Since I had my airfare taken care of for my trip to Colorado, I couldn't resist going.  It seemed like the bigger of the two adventures, and the one that was a little scarier: traveling and competing in a really stacked field on tired legs. 

    I knew I wasn't at the top of my form. I'd just run Cascade Crest 100 (CCC100) August 24-25 and I was happy with my finish there.  It was 3hr 40 min faster than when I had run the race in 2011.  I knew my body was tired and my plantar fasciitis had been bothering despite a big taper after CCC100.  I was stuck in that conundrum where I wanted to do RRR, but not in my current health. I was leaning more toward doing Plain 100 mostly because I'd save money from travel expenses and it is so low key.  In the end RRR won out.  In hindsight, I don't feel like I made the right decision, but at least I made the best one I could make with the information I had.
    Heading up, up, up the Manitou Incline in the misty rain. Sad to see Manitou Springs, CO was hit pretty hard by the flooding.
    From the very start of my stay in Colorado, it began raining.  As it turned out, I arrived right at the time Boulder began to flood.  I was in Boulder Tuesday visiting the Ultimate Directions storefront, and just a day or two later, Boulder was in a state of emergency.  That same day I drove to Steamboat Springs and camped at the pass, worried my car might sweep away in a flood, it was raining so much. I awoke with my car still firmly planted on the ground, whew.

    I found myself feeling a little more nervous about RRR than I usually am before a race.  The night before the race, I went to bed at 11 pm, only to have to get up all night long, very sick.  I left messages for my crew, Danny and Dave (of Colorado) who were driving up that day for the race. I told them not to come since I was so sick, I might not even start the race. Danny said he had nothing else planned and would come anyway...just in case I decided to start. How lucky am I to have friends like this?! Thanks guys for being so selfless!

    By 4am I was feeling like I could sleep. Lucky for me the race started at noon.  Seriously.  I caught about 3 hours of sleep and got up to see if I felt better. Ugh. My tummy still hurt, but I wasn't having to rush to the bathroom every 10 minutes, so I got dressed and left Danny a message that I felt better and decided to start the race.    

    Looking back, I realize that it's really really tough to start such a challenging race already feeling like you want to DNF.  You are almost guaranteed to give up at some point. It's hard enough to finish a 100 miler when everything goes your way.  The race began with everyone running straight up the mountain. The first 2 miles have over 2,000 feet of climbing and no one seemed to be holding much back.  My stomach ached even more as I fast hiked up most of the first 2 miles. The next 2 miles have 1,500 feet of climbing, still steep but much more reasonable to my sick stomach.  Pretty much by the time I was at Aid Station #1, mile 4.5, I knew I was done. I had trouble running the flats and downhills as the race snaked along a ridge and down toward Long's Lake.  I figured I'd get to Danny who was pacing me at Fish Creek Trail head (only spot the "hares" can be paced from), run to Olympian with him and then make a final decision whether to keep going or drop.

    Drop it was. I didn't have the strength I needed to run the other 80 miles. Sure, I could probably do it, but for what consequences?  On an already tired and sick body, finishing this race could put me out of commission for weeks, months perhaps.  And this race wasn't worth a finish for that sacrifice.  I dropped at mile 21, relieved and a little sad that I wasn't going to finish what I began. 
    Manitou Incline
    It's pretty steep
    Some damage to the incline
    For the rest of the week, I visited the must see (and feel!!) Strawberry Hot Springs, outside of Steamboat and made my way down to Manitou Springs to hike the Incline, all the time trying not to hate myself for my weaknesses.  Now, sitting at a computer writing in Roslyn, Washington, just having finished directing my most difficult race for the year, it's rest time for my body and mind.
    Course marking 15 mile section, took 7hrs even with me running a lot of the trail between putting up signs.
    One of my favorite views on the Cle Elum 50k course!