Posts Tagged ‘Learning Experience’

The Event

Circumnavigating its namesake lake, the 30k variant of The Payette Lake run is something of an Idaho institution. It’s been run on the iconic shore of McCall, ID’s focal-point lake for 37 consecutive years or so. The Boise Area Runners (BAR Meetup, BAR Facebook) club with whom I thoroughly enjoy running were making a weekend out of the event for a second year in a row, which sounded like great fun. Even if the run was a total bear, the company would be fun.

This race was on my list last year, but ill-timed wildfire assignments (are there well-timed wildfires? Maybe, but they don’t call us to manage those) left me poorly prepared. Looking back, I had run all of 42 miles in July and 28 in August 2013; not exactly the solid base mileage numbers needed to tackle 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) in one shot. This year I was heading into the race in a much better place, having run 97 and 111 miles for the same months a year later. (more…)


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The McCall Trailrunning Classic was described to me as a beautiful course and a great place to try my legs at a 20-mile distance. It certainly was beautiful, and really hard over those 20 miles. I am glad that I had done the River of No Return 25k in Challis a few weeks prior, as well as a handful of longer training runs. I had to dig deep on this one.

The course begins at Jug Mountain Ranch, a golf and mountain biking club on the western edge of the “Long Valley” in which McCall, ID sits. JMR is a fantastic location and a gracious and accommodating host for an event like this. They opened their clubhouse to runners, had the nicest bathrooms that I will probably ever get to visit prior to a race, maintain a great trail system, and allowed about 300 runners to just take over their parking for the better part of a day. If anyone who reads this is associated with JMR, THANKS! GREAT JOB!

Picture of Council Mountain across the long valley, from the climb.

Council Mountain across the long valley, from the climb.


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If you’re curious about the run streak I’m referring to in this post, here’s a link back to my blog post about the Runner’s World Run Streak. The euphoria that led to my injury is pretty evident, there. This post describes a darker side to “streaking”.

I ignored a “tweak” in my calf for the last few days of 2013.  Just a nagging little soreness; a little tightness in the upper part of my left calf.  The excitement about maintaining a streak, the accomplishment of having run for over 40 days in a row… they overrode my good sense.  It was surprisingly easy to ignore the little twinge and the soreness I was experiencing, even though I know that Running Rule #1 is: “LISTEN TO YOUR BODY”.

I gave it two days of rest once my run streak was over, thinking that it would be enough to repair any wear and tear from the streak. Then I tackled a Saturday morning training run with a couple of running buddies who are regularly a touch faster than me.  Usually they drop me, but fresh off my rest days, I was really enjoying the quick pace, and kept up with them, chatting about goals, marathon training, early rising, and Boston, until- OUCH! About a mile and a half into the run, I felt my calf pull, tighten, start to burn, and then finally, cramp.

For about the next 400 yards, I jogged on, hoping that it would loosen up, but it was no use.  I had to pull up and do the limp of shame, a mile-and-a-half back to the parking lot.  By the time I got home, I couldn’t walk without a limp.  What’s worse, my run that morning was supposed to be a prelude to an active day. My amazing wife had gotten me a Nordic skiing lesson package for Christmas, and I was really excited about starting my lessons that day.  The way the lesson package works, you do lessons 4 Saturdays in a row, and then your ski rentals and Nordic trails pass are covered for the year.  I was really worried that I could miss a full month of lessons and have to wait until February before I could do the lessons. Much of the skiing season would be over by the time I was ready to use the season pass.  Regardless of the consequences, there was no way I could go skiing with the way my leg felt. Can you tell who felt like a bozo?

After a few ice sessions and a night in a compression sleeve, I still had a bit of a limp. Using compression, rest, and my massage stick, I was improving with each day. By mid-week I was walking normally.  I was able to slide into a Nordic skiing lesson on Thursday that got me back on track to complete my lessons in January. After 4 days of icing and compression, I was able to do the lesson on Thursday, and get back on track with another lesson the following Saturday.  Both ski lessons went really well, and my coordination and balance are improving.  Nordic skiing involves much less pounding than running, and feels much easier on my joints. There’s a lot of Idaho to explore on skis in the future!

Today marks two weeks since my injury.  I got in a two mile run this morning, though it wasn’t completely comfortable. I can still feel some tightness in the hurt calf. Hopefully compression and rolling/massage will loosen it up and I’ll be able to start training seriously for the Les Bois 10k coming up on March 1.

As for “the streak”… I think my streaking days are over.  Despite my efforts to work in low-key, slow 1-mile days, I still got hurt.  If I try a streak next year, it will be more along the lines of a excercise streak, or workout streak, and not focused solely on running.  If I added biking, hiking, skiing, or swimming a few times a week instead of running for 40+ days straight, I’d probably be better off today.

*update 1/21* I’m working in some walk-run training to try and ease back into running, since the 2-mile effort brought back a good deal of soreness.  If it’s not noticeably better in a week, I’m going to have to see a doctor.

Have you ever done a run streak?

What are your favorite winter non-running activities?

Have you found a doctor that understands runners?

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Wow, my first half-marathon! This insanity began with a text message from a friend. His goal is a half-ironman triathlon, and he was looking for a nice easy training run with a t-shirt and a medal. His easy training pace was about where I hoped my race pace would be, and he figured he’d keep me company if he could convince me to do a half marathon. He assured me that the course was flat and easy. I had already run a 9-mile long run, and had 4 weeks to get ready, so I agreed.

I didn’t really change my training much. I attempted to step up my regular Tuesday and Thursday easy distance weekly from 3, to 4, to 5 miles while maintaining my Wednesday interval workouts. I planned to leave Monday core workouts, Friday stretching/rest, weekend long run/rest days alone. I wanted to lengthen my long runs by a mile each weekend, until I had run 14 miles the weekend before race day. In reality, I got plenty of good training done, but not as good as I had hoped. Sickness and soreness knocked me back by about a week, and my long run the week before the race was an enjoyable eight miles rather than 14. My longest run prior to the half was a 10 miler shortened by exhaustion and heat two weeks before the race. Ah well. Best laid plans, right? At least the eight miler had me in a good mood before the race.

I was pretty excited on race day. I had gotten good sleep the two nights before; I thought that I had eaten well, and I felt great. The group I rode with had been through this race before and had a good strategy to get us dropped off prior to the start without so much as getting stuck in traffic once. Once let out in the parking lot, I found the bag drop and hung out trying to stay loose before the gun. Finally, the gun sounded and we were off! We basically walked to the start line because of the sheer number of runners, but by the end of mile one I was cruising along. The course is a major highway with plenty of room for runners for the first three miles, and then heads onto flat asphalt greenbelt trails for the rest of the course. My friend ran along with me, and we chatted while keeping a really good pace- miles between 9:15 and 9:30. This was above my goal pace but i felt great so we kept it up. It wasn’t until we reached the second water station, at mile 4, that I got the feeling that this might not be my day. It was at this point that my lower intestines began to protest.

I really didn’t want a gastro issue to cost me my goal time, but by mile 7 I was in a full on panic and stopped at the first available port-o-let. The wait plus the visit cost me eight minutes, and my buddy went on without me. Alas, it was not the end of my distress. I was forced to stop again, at mile 8, to visit a park restroom, which cost me another 12 minutes and basically ended any hopes of achieving my goal time. I was pretty crushed, but leaving the restroom I saw my wife and my little son cheering for me, which improved my spirits, and I ran on.

The rest of the race was kind of a blur. The gastro issues never returned, and I kept running sub-10 minute miles. I remember mile 11 as being tough, but not long afterwards I almost laughed as I passed the zoo, with the Giraffes sticking their heads up over the fence as I ran by.  My last mile was actually my fastest, at 9:06, which is something I am pretty proud of. I was excited to cross the finish line strongly. The post-race fiesta was great, including plenty of free Power Bar samples, fruits and veggies, potatoes, and even chocolate milk. After hanging out for a while, stretching, and eating, I headed home to take a shower and a nice long nap.

Race Swag:


My official chip time was 2h:21m:48s, which was disappointing since my goal was 2h:15m. Even more disappointing, was that without the time in the bathrooms and bathroom lines, I would have finished in 2h:04m:47s. I will probably have mixed feelings about this race for a long time. Disappointment because of what could have been, and satisfaction from successfully finishing what would have been unthinkable for me only a year before.

What I learned:
1. GI issues are really common among racers. I have read quite a few supportive and explanatory blog posts since completing my race. I wish I had read some of them before!

2. I may have sabotaged myself in the days before the race by trying to eat healthy. I actually upped my fiber and fresh veggie intake. Oops. Those foods tend to speed up digestive action in unhelpful ways.  From now on, carrots, broccoli, and oatmeal will not be a part of my diet in the 48 hours leading up to a race! Rice, white bread, and fruit are more stable.

3. The race organizers really should have had bathrooms set up before mile 7. That is simply too far into the race considering how common GI issues are among racers. There is really nothing that can be done about the lines, but you just have to have bathrooms at an event like this.

4. I am capable of a much faster time than 2:15! Especially on a flat course like this one. At a bare minimum, I will be aiming for an under 2:00 Famous Idaho Potato half marathon next year… If I can’t get one this year at the Fit For Life half in July, or the City of Trees half in October.

Chip Time: 02:21:48 (Half Marathon PR)
Age Group (30-34 M) 74/88
Gender Place: 519/592
Overall Place: 1,054/1,364

Event page: http://www.ymcatvidaho.org/famousidahopotatomarathon

Course map: http://www.ymcatvidaho.org/sites/default/files/imce/Races/Famous_Potato/2013/Half_Marathon_Course_2013.pdf

2013 race results: http://results.bazumedia.com/event/results/event/event-3202

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Happy March! Racing season has started in Boise!

In the depths of January I sat looking at this computer screen, searching for something that would make the frozen winter easier to bear. I found… the Les Bois 10k Trail Race, which promised a run in the Boise Foothills close to home, and 600 feet of elevation gain over an out-and-back course. I signed up and paid my registration fee before I could think better of it. The race packet came with some future race info, biofreeze pain-relieving gel sampler, an organic lemon bar (Lärabar, anyone?) and a race-branded technical fabric t-shirt. Cool!


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Briefly, I just wanted to record our upcoming move to Boise, Idaho! Tonight will be our last night in our house in Raleigh, NC, before we begin the move. I’ll continue brewing and blogging it, but I also hope to add some family updates and info about our new home.

Welcome to our new adventure!

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I am very excited to report that I brought home two first-place rankings in the 2012 CARBOY (Cary and Raleigh Brewers of Yore) Shamrock Open Homebrewing Competition!

My water, temperatures, and technique must be good for Belgians and Wheat Beers- I won 1st for my Baby Bailey Belgian Blonde (B^4) ale, and another 1st for my Thanking The Babysitter Dunkelweizen. None of the other 3 beers I submitted placed, but that’s ok with me. I can’t believe that two of them not only placed, but won! Hopefully I will get some notes from the judges that I can use to improve all of my beer.

What a great experience!

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