Archive June 2018

Keto is Neato! (5 days and counting)

So today marks our 5th day on the Keto diet. I started it Saturday, with a 6 mile run during which I burned off my last delicious meal of carbs that I had enjoyed the previous night at our local Thai Buffet. It was my way of saying one last goodbye to curried chickens and rice, sweet coconut milk rice dessert, delicious Pad Thai.  There was a tear in my eye as I left stuffed to the gills.

I have been using MyfitnessPal (MFP) on my iphone linked to Garmin Connect and my (formerly Trex’s) Garmin Fenix 3HR to track my calories, macro nutrient percentages, and my runs (+ general movement).  I set MFP goals to 1lb per week which put me on a roughly 1600 daily calorie limit to reach my goal weight loss of 10lbs. I set my daily macro percentages for fat (70%), protein (20%) and carbs to (5%).  Then using the app I scan barcodes and input amounts consumed and track my food down to the macro level. A trick to doing this is to preload foods to see how they will affect your numbers. That way there are no surprises or oopsie overages.

As of this morning I am 7lbs lighter than what I weighed after my run on Saturday which has been my average weight since about this time last year. That’s way more than I had expected to lose so if the trend holds I will increase my calories. I am only looking to cut 10lbs of fat and no more simply to allow for muscle gain over the course of our ultra training and to offset the gear we carry on trails. Mostly the same reason as Trex. But I also am undiagnosed as a pre-diabetic. Since I have started running again and eating a much less calorie rich diet on the regular I have seen vast improvements, but I am(was) still affected by the blood sugar crashes and spikes and based on reading the ‘internet’, Keto can help treat issues such as these. I make no claims as to whether there is real science to back this, but it’s worth observing whether it has benefits, and so far in just a few short days I am going to give a resounding YES. Here are some observations I have made about how it is working and affecting me thus far and why I would say its been beneficial, although this could change come Sunday after my first serious long run on the diet.

TL:DR Summary of my experiences:

Rapid weight loss with no significant issues with energy, sugar highs/lows, or cravings throughout the day. A slight notable energy decline in the first two days, but nothing like what I was counting on. I tend to want a sweet flavor following the fatty more salty foods, but that’s kinda normal so that doesn’t really count as a craving for carbs. I am able to stave this off by chewing sugarless gum or saving room in the calorie budget for a fat bomb. So far I like the diet, enjoying fattier foods like cheese and peanut butter has actually been a relief mentally as I feel guilty for eating those on a normal calorie diet.  It feels decadent and cheese, PB, avocados, salami, etc are just delicious!

Heart Rate seems to be a bit high during runs but that could just be the heat. Feel like run energy is higher than normal on a work day, but the biggest improvement is that I am not totally wiped out after my runs/work day when I get home. Tonight is a prime example. It’s 9pm and I am still fully energized even on the computer and I haven’t had caffeine since my morning cup.

A slightly more detailed account of my experiences thus far:

Day & Evening 1:  I didn’t really notice much energy loss during the run I think because I was still burning off residual sugars from the prior days meals. I ate on plan through the day but did have a little more caffine after my run as I was feeling a tad run down. Ha!

Day 2: (Massively sunburned after lounging by the pool on day one, Banana Boat Simply Kids Spray totally failed even with multiple reapplications) I chose not to do a long run, both to recover fully from the Marathon from the previous weekend, and primarily because it was Father’s Day and I gave my DH a dad day off.  So I caffeinated a tad more throughout the day.  It’s notable that I felt a tab peckish throughout the day but was satisfied with on-diet snacks and didn’t feel deprived or hungry, just that I had a slightly higher craving to eat.  Normal tired by evening, not a major crash as I was expecting

Day 3: I was a tad sluggish and drank far more caffeinated coffee drinks both to add “Fat” using real cream, and to keep me perky.  Being that it was also a Monday, that is a general contributor to the sluggishness of the day. But I didn’t feel hungry between meals and ate quite well on plan. Late evening, after kids are asleep I did a tad bit of exercise, my PT leg exercises with the elastic bands; afterwards I had a headache and crashed immediately in bed. The headache was probably on account of slightly more caffeine than normal and well my sunburn.

Day 4 (Yesterday. Here’s where it gets a little more interesting?):  Technically I ran my first real run without carbs to fuel it. Unfortunately my Wahoo HR monitor(also formerly Trex’s) was deplete of battery juice, so my HR data is inaccurate as it came from the Fenix, which is just not reliable. I was way over into z4 in several segments in the run and was a steady z3 for the rest and we were doing a moderate to slow pace.  I felt out of breath for most of the run at our normal pace so there was probably some validity to the higher HR, just not clear if it was the heat or the diet or both.

During the run, aside from feeling out of breath, I actually felt pretty good. I didn’t feel sluggish, or tired, I actually felt like I had sustained energy, much like how the eGels make me feel; not supercharged like on caffeine but just right.

After my run was a MAJOR improvement. Normally by the time I reach the house after my drive in the car I am run down and sluggish after a long day at work followed by hot sweaty run in the Oklahoma heat. I typically reach for a Yerba Mate Revel Berry to perk up so I can wrangle kids into tubs, and help with dinner and bedtime etc.  But I can’t drink those on Keto as they have too much sugar; but I didn’t need it. I felt like I had drank one and was able to last all night without feeling like a total zombie. HUGE PLUS!

That brings us to today, Day 5:   Much the same as yesterday, during the day I felt pretty good. I actually didn’t drink any extra caffeinated drinks today, just my normal cup of freshly roasted, and ground French Pressed delicious Papa New Guinea with coconut oil, heavy cream and xylitol to go with my egg fried in a tablespoon of butter. The best part of waking up! I recall that yesterday I did have a 20 calorie High Brew mid-day, but I can say I could have lived without it. But today nada extra. We picked up some keto friendly Tru Lemon drink mixes at the nearby supercenter and I can say they will do for now as something better than water when you just want flavor. I ate well, hitting my target fats for the first time really, and didn’t feel hungry. I did snack a bit after lunch but I think that was less hunger and more boredom driven.   During our run today I was feeling pretty good. We did Fartleks, which I am hence forth calling ‘Running Roulette’ as we take turns picking when to start the intervals so you don’t quite know when your next sprint is coming or how far/long.  My HR was through the roof during the sprints but I wasn’t as out of breath today as yesterday.  I feel like the run was slightly easier than I expected.  Same story as yesterday when I left the trail and came home. Plenty of energy left to finish this article after the nightly routine; no crashes, sustained energy. Liking this very much so far. Oh and I weighed myself when I got home just before my shower  and after tanking up on water to rehydrate and I am actually down another lb.  That may fluctuate but I will keep a close eye and adjust calories as needed.  Stay tuned for more observations/experiences on the Keto Diet. Or don’t, IANTBOY

Make Weight (common phrase heard in a wrestling room)

Bunny and I, mostly me because she can’t afford to lose much, are going ‘keto’.   I’ve done this before back when it was called Atkin’s Diet.   I had good success with weight loss during the 10-11 months I did it, then my twins were born, I started having a heart arrhythmia and it fell by the wayside.   Plus, no offense or fault for all the restrictive diet folks but cutting out a significant sized source of calories isn’t enjoyable to me.   I like all foods, I like bread, cake, veggies, fruits, meat of every source that runs on legs (no seafood) and trying to come up with half assed “almost as good as” substitutes sucks for me.  Life’s too short to try to pretend that cauliflower makes a great substitute for mashed potatoes or pizza crust or that jack fruit makes for great pulled pork sandwiches.  That’s not to denigrate anyone’s choices, I’ll support your choices to the bitter end, just that those choices aren’t permanently for me.

We’ll be trying for the TKD or Traditional Keto Diet of shooting for 80% calories from Fats, 15% from proteins and 5% from carbs while keeping total carbs below 50g.

80% calories from fats is tough if you actually like food.  I don’t know about you but I don’t eat a stick of butter or a box of cream cheese as a normal diet, nor do I sip heavy cream blended with coconut oil as a beverage.  So it’s tough if you actually enjoy all kinds of foods like myself.

With our first 50K, Dead Horse Ultra, looming ever closer, okay it’s roughly 5 months out at this point, I’ve decided, not so much that I want to ‘run keto’ but I do want to drop a fair percentage of my body fat to make that run more enjoyable.

It’s a race that I want to have the mental and physical energy to enjoy the route, the people, the desert, the views, everything involved with it as I won’t have too many of these fairly pricey ‘destination races’ in what’s left of my lifespan.

It’s not so I can burn out a awesome PR because at the end of the day I just want to finish the race and a) not be DFL and b) not be DNF.   I shoot on the low side of goals in running.  🙂

Keto has it’s downsides other than food options of course for ultra running.   Increased oxygen demands in an already potentially oxygen deficit function impacts ability.   Very little in the way to look forward to at an aid station, no chips, gels, pizza, pbj sandwiches, drink mixes, pretzels, etc and so on.  Just give me more water, let me take this yummy salt tablet and head back out.

I’ve read up enough on it that to me the biggest performance boost is from weight loss for a Keto runner.   Other than that running efficiency seems to go down on Keto at least for middle and back of hte packers like myself.  It really can’t not if nothing else from the oxygen costs to turn fat into fuel but additionally the energy increase to do the conversion compared to burning carbs, these increase work loads on the body without any performance boosting benefits.

So long story short, we’re going LCHF solely for weight loss benefits.  If I can replicate the success I had 15 years ago when I did it the first time then I’ll be in much better shape to handle our first 50K.

Today was my first longer run after reducing carbs to under 50g a day; it was roughly 10 miles and I was out of energy hard around mile 6 and have been feeling wiped all day afterwards.   My average pace ended up close to 2 minutes slower than normal.

We were going to hold off a bit for personal reasons on starting our Keto roadmap but we’re doing a 20 Mile Midnight Madness run in 2 weeks and I thought that would make a great test case.   It takes, let’s make up a generic time frame, 2 weeks to start getting fat adapted and, another generic time frame, 4 weeks to get fully comfortable.   That’s a snide comment on how time units are always so nice and neat when they apply to the ‘average’ person.   Why 2 weeks?  Why isn’t it 13 days?  Or 16 days?   2 weeks is just too neat and tidy of a time unit which makes me question is there any science behind it or it did folks just round it to a basic unit that everyone will be comfortable with.

I digress, but I do that.

So last weekend we ran our second marathon, in 90 degree heat no less, on trails.   Saturday I tested my legs with a 3 mile ‘normal’ pace for me and it wasn’t too bad, I hit my usual casual run pace of 10’s without feeling too bad.  But I still had stored carbs for fuel.    Today I decided to stretch it out a bit to see how much damage I was looking at and muscle/tendon wise I wasn’t bad.  Quads were slightly ‘bouncy’ when I was walking but nothing serious.   But oh my goodness, energy levels dropped like a stone during the run.

But it’s only been two days of no carbs and based on my basil metabolism and my exertion levels and just how many calories it costs me to move my not insignificant mass forward, I would have been running out of glucogen about half way through the 10 mile run and that’s about where it went sideways on me.

This week we’ll take it easier with some Z2 5K’s and next Sunday we’ll try another 10 mile run and see where we are.   Because we have a 20 mile run a week after that and I don’t want to be a back of the packer because the race director deliberately oversold the race so there’s a lack of medals for every finisher I’m not going to try to burn things out and see where we are.

Anyway that’s our going Keto story.   We’ll post updates if there’s anything of interest that pops up.

A TL;DR writing about Trail vs Road Marathons

After completing our first trail marathon, and our second marathon this year, I want to take some time to reflect and to compare and contrast these two experiences.  TRex has done a fine job of describing the technical details of these races in his blog posts (Mowdy and Little Rock ) and I highly recommend them for their informational and entertainment value.  But I want to expound on more of the touchy feely stuff that running two marathons in less than 6 months has taught me about myself, my RS, and the major differences and commonalities of road vs trail long distances running.

First and foremost I will say without a doubt, that while trail is by far much much harder than road racing, for me personally, I far prefer it. Mainly because trails are just more fun, at least in my experience.

The trail running community is smaller and a bit more tight knit and supportive. You tend to see the same people at all the trail races and get to know them or at least their reputations around the trail heads. You greet each other warmly and wave and cheer as you pass or get passed by your fellow trail runners.  You begin to really know who you are up against and learn pretty fast who you can beat and who will beat you.

Awards and giveaways tend to be more artistic and unique due to the smaller size of most trail races. They tend to be display pieces or useful in some way (coasters, bottle openers etc). With road you tend to have glitzy mass produced chunks of cast medal that only server to hang on a hook clanking against each-other like bickering siblings. Little Rock’s ginormous medal being the considerable exception due to its size.

And let’s not forget the food!  There is always lots of food on the trail, often homemade food at the finish, and goodies along the way. And let’s face it, food is really why I run. I love to eat.  With road races, they are typically more about speed over endurance, so sustenance is boiled down to essentials rather than provided as indulgent treats. The exception being some city vendors who want to show off their goods to a steady stream of potential customers (like delicious chocolate chunk cookies, grilled pineapple etc.); and those enthusiastic volunteers who supply Jell-O shots, Fireball, and beer at nearly every city and trail race.

Another thing that makes trail more fun is all the wildlife you get to see, such as snakes, spiders, dear, bob cats, raccoon, fox, and even Wild Mustangs; at least in OK where we run. You get to run through things like spider webs, (mostly Trex since he is taller and usually runs in front so as not to take me out when he eventually falls, and he almost always does), creeks and creek beds, rolling meadows, rocky hillsides, densely canopied wooded paths, muddy puddles etc etc. Stuff that makes your shoes dirty and you don’t see/do every day. It keeps things interesting and requires you to focus on the terrain instead of the crazy thoughts that tend to roll around in your head while you run.

Which brings me to my next reason. The mental break.

I tend to have a few mixed tapes that are my go to mental playlists when I run long distances on paved surfaces which don’t require much external focus. I tend to think about my life, my goals, past, present, and future. This can be very meditative, introspective if you will, and are frankly life saving for me as a time when I can simply sort through the chaos in my head and in my life. But depending on the day, the demands of the run, and my mood (or Trex’s) I may happen upon on a bad loop that runs like a broken record, and those can be devastating for a run mentally and physically.  And there is such a time as needing a brain break, a mental shutdown, when you don’t think too much; when you can’t let your mind wander aimlessly or exert effort to figuring your life out, and those are when trail running comes to the rescue. When I just don’t want to think about sh*t.

With trail you can’t afford to get lost in your mind. You have to constantly focus on the terrain so as not to trip and fall. You can’t shut your mind off completely, but you have to focus it on doing regular assessments of how you are doing physically and then use your mental will power to push yourself when your status check comes back ‘in the red.’  I really became more intimate with this process during our Greenleaf 30K when my legs wanted to give up really early. I had to use my mind to focus on my strengths; to connect my mind and body, in a way, to override the pain signals by sending thoughts of how my muscles feel at their best. It’s hard to describe, but in essence I recall powerful feelings to replace the feelings of weakness I am experiencing when my body is strained. It requires a lot of focus and there is no room for thinking of much else in those moments because when you break focus the pain becomes overwhelming.  It is a brain exercise that strengthens the mind unlike pondering how to solve world peace.

Now this ‘mind over matter’ process is something both Trail and Road have in common (for me). It was my go to process during our first marathon this year as well as during our trail marathon. It is a good skill to hone period. But with road you can also let your mind drift a bit to distract yourself from the pain, whereas you can’t do this with trail. At least I can’t that is, else I end up on the ground like Trex does when he lets his mind wander off the trail. He has told me as much.

Another major common factor I have found to be pretty much universal in trail and road long distance races is the ‘Wall’. Any time I have set out to complete a distance not yet run, (race or training) there always comes a time when I grapple with the question of my ability to go further than I have already known.  Whether it be 1 mile more or 6.2, the added distance seems to boggle the mind.   It’s seem also to coincide with when all the aches and pains scream loudest. The place when the battle of ‘mind over matter’ is at the pinnacle.

Now I have read this described differently, more as a generic point in every run where you simply think you can’t go further. But for me it always seems to come when I am in ‘unknown’ territory. With my very first 3 mile run as an adult, so many years ago, it was around mile 2. With my first Half Marathon it was at mile 11, (I had only trained up to mile 10). With my first marathon it was at the typical mile ’22ish’ when I was 2 miles past the furthest distance I had ever run, and felt like I had nothing left to give the next 4.2 miles. At these points all the pains seemed to mount their offensive and bombarded my senses to the point where I wanted to quit even though I had just a few miles left. It’s that point, or points in some races/training runs, where you decide you are going to finish and not quit in spite of the pain.

With trail I tend to bout this foe off and on throughout the distances, simply because the terrain is usually so very unknown. With road there isn’t much variance in what to expect. A road is a road is a road. This weekend I hit a wall very early around mile 3 when my calf decided it was not prepared for all the uneven surfaces since we hadn’t run trail in several weeks.  It wadded up into a loose ball that tightened over the course making each step painful.  I had to constantly send forth thoughts to try and relax the muscle groups and recall how my calf feels normally to endure.  This took a ton of focus.  I hit another wall at the usual mile 22, when I realized just how abnormally long it would take us to traverse (walk in this case) another 4 miles in the heat. But there was no way in hell I was giving up after so far come and knowing I had done it before, so I pushed on, and so did T.

With both Mowdy and Little Rock, battling the elements was another challenge. For Little Rock it was cold rain. For Mowdy it was the exact opposite… oppressive heat.  Each made the runs far more challenging than had the weather been ideal, but for sure the heat was a more toilsome foe as it got stronger as the day went on.  We had to constantly replenish water and fuels and find means to cool our core temperatures.  It added nearly two hours to our road marathon time. Both races were hilly, but the added heat and rocky uneven surfaces of Mowdy made it a far more difficult race over Little Rock.

A key lesson from both.  I learned during our Little Rock race just how hard the ‘walls’ can be to overcome both for myself and my partner. Mowdy was no different in that aspect, however I did learn how to avoid getting “shushed” when my partner is in the throes of his battles, and I think I was better at reading his queues as well as my own as to when to offer/ask for support.  This is crucial when running with someone else. Sometimes you are the much needed voice of reason and encouragement, but sometimes you just have to know when to STFU and quietly be a source of strength or keep your whining to yourself. It is a balancing act throughout the journey to the finish, one that I believe has been my hardest but most important lesson thus far. I can’t say I have fully learned my lesson but I am well on my way.


All about that Bass…Pro Marathon

Our next big run, okay our next Marathon or greater run because I just signed up for the 20 mile Midnight Madness run on June 30th by TATUR, is likely going to be the Bass Pro Marathon.  The reason for that is a two piece.   One of my bucket lists is to join the Marathon Maniacs which the entry level condition is to do 2 marathons (or longer) runs in 2 weeks or 3 marathons or longer in 60 days.  The second piece is it lines up perfectly with our ‘last long run’ weekend before our first attempt at a 50K, the Dead Horse Ultra, on November 17th (ish).

So doing the Bass Pro fulfills our long run and sets us up to get the 2 Marathons or longer races in 2 weeks.   And it’s within driving distance so that saves on costs.  And they have pretty medals.

This summer we’ll have a couple of shorter races, the Fleet Feet Firecracker 5K and Bedlam Run 10K although I’m not sure if Bunny is going to run those with me.   I may have to go solo or find another running wife temporarily to fill in.  It doesn’t look like the August run is a thing right now, I forget the name of it but I placed 3rd in my age group at that one mostly because all the fast old guys stayed home in the AC. 🙂

The Midnight Madness run will be our first long run weekend to kick off our training program for the Bass Pro / Dead Horse combo.   We’ll be taking it a bit easy this week definately, maybe a couple or three mile walk later this week and possibly a short easy run on Sunday.   Then the next week just start easing back into things before we hit the 20 mile race.

My current training plan is a combination of a couple of plans I’ve gotten from Ultra books and online.   It’s a 5 day a week, TWTSS running schedule because that’s what I’m used to.  Wednesday is always an easy day, Saturday and Sunday are always a medium/long combo back to back.  One long run a month starts at midnight.  Every 4th week is a light recovery week.   The T and T days are where I mix it up with pyramids, sprints/strides, thresholds, hill repeats and power hiking.   One thing I’ve read and agree with is you have to train your hike/walk as well as your run.  A prime example was this last marathon we did where due to injury and heat we ended up walking far more than normal.  As a result I ended up with a blister on the side of my right foot back by the heel and my shin muscles are especially sore because they were much more engaged with my walking gait than my running gait.

So don’t just practice running when you’re training for distance, have a couple or three long power walks in there.

My other goal is going to be to drop weight as much as I can between now and November as each pound I can shave off my bod is one pound less I have to haul for 26 and 31 miles respectively.   I’ve been holding rock steady at my current weight plus or minus about 4 lbs since last year so on top of my stepping up my weekly mileage for training, I’m going to be stepping down my calories or at least the ‘bad’ calories.

We’ll see how it goes but pending showstopping injury or death I’m going to be climbing those Utah hills and deserts in November so that’s something to look forward to.


Mowdy Ranch Mustang Run – Marathon Edition

We did the Fourth Annual Mowdy Mustang Run yesterday, June 9th 2018.  tl;dr – It was a great race, extremely well run and supported by very friendly folks, challenging course and we had a lot of fun with it.   Strongly recommended but due to it being run in Oklahoma in June, it’s a challenge.

Wild Mustangs

Wildlife alert – This isn’t your street run in the middle of urban America.  On the back half of the first loop I took a step and realized there was a 3′ copperhead’s head about 8″ from my foot, his natural brownish coloring blended very well with the dirt/sand/clay i was running on.   Luckily he was facing the wrong way or this race might have ended differently.   Later on the back half of the second loop there was another four footer that I believe was a water moccasin lying across the trail.  It was far easier to see with its darker coloration.

Now while neither of these two snakes are typically aggressive and their bites are rarely fatal to adults, it’s still going to ruin your day if you get bit.   So keep an eye out.

Gear Check:

  • Shoes:  Altra Lone Peak 3.5
  • Socks: Injini Toe Socks in medium weight short crew
  • Stryd
  • BCG Compression Shorts
  • Champion Shorts
  • Underarmour  Heat Gear Tank
  • Underarmour Halo
  • Hand Customized cooling towel with an ice pocket
  • Plantronics BackBeats
  • Scosche 24+ HR monitor
  • Fenix 5x
  • Google Pixel 2L
  • Nathan VaporKrar 12L Hydration Vest
  • Platypus Bladder
  • Ultimate Direction 500ml Soft Flasks
  • CrankSports eFuel, eGel
  • Trail Toes anti chafe cream that we like to refer to as “Trail Crotch”

We drove down the day before.  Because of the early race start, the travel time and packet pick up at 4:00 a.m. we’d of had to leave right after we went to bed to drive down the same day so off we went the evening before.

You can rent bunks in the bunkhouse for not much money and it’s a real set of bunkhouses with lines of double bunk beds along the walls, if you can handle sleeping in a room of strangers it’s a lot of fun. There is also an area for camping out by the Start/Finish line if you’d prefer that which is free.  Depending on your preferences either one is viable.


They had a big (BIG) bonfire set up down by the camp area and you could drive down (or walk) and set up a chair and watch the fire if you wanted.   The camp area was about a quarter to third of a mile away from the bunk/main house.

There was also spaghetti dinner the night before as part of your entry.  We didn’t partake as we had dinner with both families at Cracker Barrel before we left.

As usual for a race we didn’t get a ton of sleep for the all the usual reasons including of course sleeping in a strange place surrounded by strangers and were up with the other early risers around 4:00 a.m. and were ready by around 5:00 with all the usual pre-race stuff to do.   We’d prepped fairly well and didn’t have any pre-race surprises other than for whatever reason my race workout hadn’t synced to my watch.

The 50k and marathon runners all started at the same time.   Lights were definitely needed for the first 30-45 minutes as after starting out within a quarter mile we were in the “Shire” which was forested and pretty dark and pretty rocky/technical.

Overall the course was a mix of terrain, from hard packed ground that was practically paved except it was uneven under foot because it was, well… you know actual ground and then to some pretty technical stuff that was very rocky and had a fair bit of difficulty to traverse especially on lap 2 once you started getting (or had gotten) tired (or injured).

Rock Climbing

The route was run twice to make up the marathon distance with a 3rd sub loop on the back half for the 50K’s to get them their distance.

I’d like to call out the fact that the course was EXTREMELY well marked, it would be impossible to get lost.  All the white markings were always on your right and the next marker was always visible.   They included tree tags, wire ground markers and streamers clothes-pinned to the trees.   All you had to do was make sure the markers were on your right and unless you were vision impaired you could always see where you needed to go.  Unlike a 30K we ran last year in spots, with this race we never had a moments confusion as to where we needed to go.

They also looked to have swept the trail free of leaves in those places where there were leaves and mowed the trail in the places where it went through the meadows.  You honestly couldn’t ask for a better laid out course. Kudos on a job well done.

There was a lot of sun to be had as the big chunk of the trails were without tree cover.  An issue if you’re prone to burning.  Me thanks to my genetics I went the whole day out there without sunscreen and came back with a little redness, no pain.  A ginger would probably have spontaneously combusted so if you’re fair skinned, pile on the SPF 50.

Someone came by with a broom

There were aid stations, all manned except for 1, every 3 miles.   All the aid stations were well staffed with people and the usual running fare.

We’d like to especially call out the staff at the 6 mile / Bigfoot station.  They were extremely good at their jobs.   Welcoming, friendly, encouraging and they had us restocked with ice and water on our second loop, cooled down with portable misters and a piece of cold watermelon in our hand and headed out in a minimum of time.  For a race that had nothing but a high level of quality and professionalism these particular guys and gals stood out and rocked it hard.  Bravo!

The first half we were doing okay, slower than a street run by a fair bit but a lot of that time was lost in the very rocky trails that made up a fair bit of portions of the first half of the first half.  Which is a weird way to say it but there you go.

Around mile 8 or 9 I took a pretty heavy fall, as usual on a stretch of terrain that was ‘easy’ which leads to lapses in concentration and a rock or root or something grabbed me and asked me to visit the ground.   Pulled some things in my right thigh and left lower leg that made the rest of the race a little less than pain free.   Around mile 11 or so the muscles in my lower left front calf blew up with excruciating pain and I had to remove my gaiters to get some relief.   My RW ended up having to take my shoes and gaiters off for me as I couldn’t bend my right leg without it seizing up so I literally couldn’t reach my shoes to take them off.

At the halfway point we, by more luck than design, had parked the FJ next to the path so we were able to step off the trail, resupply from our drop bags and then head back (to the same exact point we left it) to the trail.

By miles 14-15 things went downhill, not literally, and my calves started locking up like Hulk’s fists every time I tried to run with a forefoot strike.  I was able to shift to heel strike gait to counter that but then a half mile of heel striking and my IT Band said, “Gotcha!”.

Pope of Nope

From miles 15 on it was mostly power hiking, I’d try to step up the pace and the Pope of Nope would show up and tap me on the shoulder.

Pain’s a funny thing, sitting here writing this my brain is telling, “it wasn’t that bad you could have gone faster” but intellectually I know that wasn’t the case at the time.

With the slower pace came the hotter temperatures and hydration and electrolytes were an issue.  I went through at least 2 gallons of water over the course of the race and urinated only once around mile 25 and not much then.  I was sweating it out as fast as I was taking it in.


The interesting thing is after about 5 or 6 miles I was ‘recycling’ my sweat to be kind of grossly honest.   The cooling towel I had around my neck would catch all the sweat and water I poured over my head, evaporation would cool it off and later on I’d wring it out back over my head.   Very Dune like.

Every aid station starting with #2 at 6 miles I’d get at least 16 ounces of water, sometimes 32 ounces.   Earlier in the race I was using eFuel in half the water but by mile 15 it was just water.   I was taking in eGel’s and the occasional salt tablets to keep my electrolytes up.  Possibly not as well as I should have been because around mile 23 the muscles in my forearms also started cramping up, the kind of seizures where it curls your middle 2 or 3 fingers into your palms and you have to press them out with your other hand until the muscle relaxes again.

Fun in the Sun

At mile 22 or so there was an unmanned aid station of some ice water jugs on a makeshift table.   Honestly if that hadn’t of been there and if I hadn’t of taken a good 6-7 minutes or so to sit down and cool off by putting ice water on my cooling towel and wrapping it around my head I’m not sure I’d of finished.  Yes, I would have, but the thought of it being possible I might not finish this race was certainly trying to insert itself into my head.

Mile 24 and some nice folks on a quad came by and checked on us, filled our water bottles with ice water and they offered to drive us in.   DNF with 2 and a half miles to go?  NAFC.

Mile 25 (or so) we came to the last aid station, a Luau themed one which served as the last two manned stations on the back half of the loop.  It was here that I was finally at a point where it felt like I needed to urinate.  Wasn’t  a lot but it also wasn’t the color of coke so I had some confirmation of no rhabdo going on which is always a concern for me when I push myself.

With a clean, albeit darker yellow, bill of health I just focused on trudging out that last mile and a half, all in the sun, and uphill to the finish line.  I wasn’t in great shape mentally because at one point my RW was talking and I realized I hadn’t understood a thing she was saying.  I’d heard it but it might has well have been in ancient Egyptian.

Not far to go

Not far to go

We crossed the finish line, got our medals which albeit modest in size are extremely well done and of the 40 or 50 medals I have are easily in the top 3 for just clean tasteful appearance.  We then packed up where we got to watch at least two people finished after us so we weren’t DFL’d and headed home.

We stopped at Mona’s Rose of Sharon’s diner on the way back.  Mona’s had good reviews on Google, the best on the entire trip and I’m happy to report those reviews were well deserved.  I had a cheeseburger with fries and onion rings and RW had steak fingers with fried pickles.   For afterwards we had a blueberry hand pie warmed and topped with ice cream.   If you enjoy classic, good, old school diner food this is a place to get it, it was all very good, very tasty and it wasn’t because we’d just run a 26+ miles on trails in the sun.

We had some takeaways, or I did, in that you need to double check your load out before you head out.  Whether it’s the start or at a drop bag break, don’t assume you put everything on  your list on your body, physically double check it.  For instance I had no pain relief other than prescription strength stuff which I didn’t want to take as it has a mental impact.   My capsule of OTC pain relief was nowhere to be found when I needed it.

Also be ready to start at least 30 minutes before the start of the race.  Make sure your electronics if you’re using them are ready to go at least 5 minutes before the start time.   For example I ended up having to get my phone out, sync my calendar to my watch, then start the run on the watch and by then the race had started and been going for a couple of minutes.

Also always pack some alternate food stuffs.   All I packed was eGels which get the job done but in the last quarter of the race I found myself wanting something else, a waffle or some PB M&M’s or Stinger Chews or just something other than a gel.

And the biggest takeaway is we’re going to have to train harder than ever to be ready for our 50K in November if we want to finish that race with a decent, for us, time.

All in all we had a great time, in spite of my personal physical issues, at a great race run by great people.  And there were wild horses.  What more could you ask for from a trail race.

Scosche Rhythm 24

I’ve had problems with HR monitors of late.  I train by HR zone so having a semi accurate and reliable montior is kind of important to me.

I started with a Garmin HR Chest Strap, the basic one everyone probably starts with.  It was good until the strap wore out.  How it wears out is beyond me but about 4 months it started reading erratically.  I tried changing batteries to no avail and then found posts that indicate the straps should be considered consumable and the Polar straps lasted longer.

This was around month 5 of my running and right in time for Black Friday sales so I bought a Polar replacement strap for $10.   Worked great.  Until it didn’t work so great and it was time to buy another one.

Now at $10 to $20 a pop and 4-6 months of life that was a bit ridiculous so I bought a Scosche Rhythm+.

Well on me it didn’t work so good.  Lots of drop outs in signal and it would consistently read ridiculously high in the first 5 to 10 minutes.  Like 20 beats above my max HR when I was just warming up.   I went so far as to take it off once and it still kept on reading something at 180 beats a minute.

So I went back to the Garmin which was at least somewhat more reliable.

It was with interest that I read about the Scosche Rhythm 24 and the new updated sensors and the new algorithms and all that.

And I couldn’t not buy one as my current chest strap was once again failing.  So another $20 for a new strap or try something else.

I did a short 30 minute run today, last teaser run before our marathon in a couple of days.   The Scosche Rhythm 24 I’m happy say paired easily and quickly to my Fenix 5.   During the run the HR seemed to be most responsive and more ‘real time’ if that’s a thing.   And most importantly during the run at no point did I see any stupidity or silliness with the numbers.

After the run when I checked the data it was a beautiful chart.   A start at 50 beats a minute ramping up to 118 over the next quarter mile or so and then leveling out around 120 beats a minute for the remaining 3 miles with only minor variations which were attributable by changes in pacing.

There were zero drops in the data and no ridiculous ramps up to 180 and then dropping down to 120 in the space of 10 seconds. It was a smooth climb to my cruising HR and then steady as she goes Cap’n till the end of the run.

Now this was a single run of a fairly short distance but I have to say I’m pretty happy with it so far.

In full disclosure a LOT of the new features that aren’t just about HR aren’t avaialble to me because I don’t own a iPhone, I’m Android.  But I don’t really care about those features, they’ll be nice to haves once they do produce a android app (assuming they do, they never really released a working one for the Rhythm+, just one that would brick your Rhythm by not checking if the firmware needed updating before trying to push it).

So if the new features are important to you and you don’t own an iPhone this may not be the HR device for you.

But if you want what appears, knock wood, to be a good way to get accurate valid HR data, albeit at a price, then you may want to consider it.   If nothing else it’s more comfortable than a HR chest belt and there’s no strap to wear out.