What it took to run 100 miles…

Now that I’ve done, both successfully and not so much, 100 mile races; I thought it might be useful to list out what has worked for me after a lot of trial and error. Mostly error let’s be honest. If you don’t have a solid experienced person who’s ‘done the run’ to help you through it then it’s mostly error. And honestly no one can really prepare you for pushing yourself to cover 100 miles, much less the 200’s. It’s something that has to be experienced to truly understand it.

The Partner:

Honestly I think the number one thing that’s been of benefit to me is getting fortunate enough to find someone to make this insane journey to ultramarathonville with you. Someone who runs the same pace, the same distances, the same everything, basically 2 people, 1 pair of feet.

I know most ultras, especially front and mid pack, seem to be lone wolves. They’ll hook up with someone for a mile or three or maybe 10 and some cases 20 but inevitably their mismatched pacing and goals pull them apart or just their solitary nature.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. But having someone to lean on, and that leans on your during the race can get you both through situations that would otherwise take you out if you were solo. Most people I believe have the capability to be stronger for others than necessarily themselves. I like to think so anyway. So having someone who needs your help will help you to turn the knob to 11. And on the flip side it can be greatly beneficial to hit an aid station and collapse knowing your partner has your back and will get you back up when it’s time to move on.

I think ultimately it’s not very common for two or more runners to mesh their physical and mental abilities but if you can swing it then it’ll be a big boost for your chances to beat the odds.

I believe the average success rate across all races and combining men and women is around 60%? Some races are true monsters that eat runners up alive with success rates that are much lower than that and some are more benign and encouraging with higher success rates. But in general, the odds are not great for the average runner especially the first timer. So doing whatever you can stack the odds more in your favor may make the difference between the agony of defeat where you walk away with experience gained and the agony of success where you walk away with a buckle.

Training:

It’s important to cater your training to you. This seems like a simple thing but it’s easy to go online or in a book and take someone’s training regime, workouts and schedules and try to follow it. This though can lead to injury depending on your level of ability as most of the training programs I’ve found seem to be strongly catering to podium chasers.

If this is you then good on you friend. But as a solid “back pack” in Ultra distances I quickly found I had to design workouts more in line with my abilities, my life and free time and quite frankly how much time I’m willing to devote to the cause.

The variety of training methods is about as wide as the number of runners there are. There are podium placers who rarely run longer than 20 miles as a training run and others who regularly do much more.

So figure out what works for you and go with that. Which is no small task. If you have the disposable income there can be a lot of benefit from getting guidance from an training coach that has real experience at training for ultras. That last is key because training for a marathon is not the same as training for a 100 mile race.

Over the last 2 years, which is how long it really took, I’ve made enough mistakes to finally figure out what training works for me. What is at my borderline of injury and how hard I can push before I risk sidelining myself. And it took injury and sidelining myself for sometimes up to 2 weeks at a time to figure that out. (I know, 2 weeks, that’s just an extended recovery week, but to me it felt like 2 months).

Crewless:

If you’re going to be doing a 100 without a crew, 100% doable, then just plan on spending more time “not moving”. You’ll spend time getting gear out of your drop bags, filling bottles, changing shoes, etc. A good crew can cut your time spent in aid stations by half or more and insure you leave each aid station with the right gear and nothing extra to weigh you down.

Pace plan:

A pace plan is a good idea but understand like with most plans it’ll break down as soon as you start running. It’s almost 100% guaranteed you’re going to go out too fast and that’s going to cost you later on and there’s a pretty fair chance it could cause you to DNF. Going out too fast IMO is the number cause of DNF’s based on the large number of race reports I’ve read.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read “I started at X minutes per mile, by mile 50 I was at x+3 minutes per mile, by mile 75 it was x+8 minutes and the last 25 was a dead man shuffle of 25minutes per mile”.

Pacing, pacing, pacing, if you want to successfully finish a race, regardless of distance but it’s critical ultras, then pacing is how you do it. Too fast up front is NOT ‘banking time’. It’s adding extra stress, fatigue and toxins to your body that you will 100% pay for later.

Have a goal time and then break that down into thirds. Then steal time from the first and add it to the 2nd, 3rd. Then steal time from the 2nd and add it to the 3rd. Example: 100 miles, 24 hours to make the math easy. That’s 33 miles in 8 hours x 3. Let’s steal an hour from the first one and split it up in to the last two. So now we have 33 miles in 7 hours, 33 miles in 8.5 and 33 miles in 8.5. Let’s steal half an hour from the second and add it to the third and we end up with 33 miles in 7 hours, 33 miles in 8 hours and 33 miles in 9 hours. A 7/8/9 split is more realistic IMO than an 8/8/8.

But I can’t do 33 miles in 7 hours on trails. Then maybe a 24 hour 100 isn’t a good finish time for you. So add half an hour to all three and shoot for a 25:30 finish.

That is a very general possible option to compute your 1/3 pace targets and doesn’t take into account any changes in terrain. Once you add vertical or technical to your route then it can get ‘really’ complicated on doing your pacing.

Barring some weird terrain I’ve never seen anything remotely like equal splits much less negative splits in 100 mile runners times. Prairie Spirit 100 for example gives you 14 hours to make the mile 52 turn around and 16 hours to make the back 48 for that reason. They know if you can’t do 52 in 14, you’re not going to make the back side in 16. For the majority of runners.

Bottom line though is know your cut offs for every aid station. Give yourself a 15-30 cushion for each and then print them out in large font on a piece of paper so you can read them in dim light and when you’re barely able to stand up.

Ultimately there are two things will DNF you in a 100 mile race. You drop out due to any number of reasons or you fail to make the cutoff at an aid station. So knowing your cutoffs may keep you moving whatever little extra you need to hit them. I’ve seen runners who make cutoffs by literally a couple of minutes. Myself I hit the mile 85(ish) aid station with 4 minutes to spare and ultimately didn’t make the mile 92 cutoff by about 10 minutes.

Personal observation – You think dropping out at mile 50 sucks? Try missing mile 92 cut off by 10 minutes with 3 hours left to make that last 8 miles.

Checklists:

Regardless of a crew or not, have a checklist for every aid station you’re going to spend any time in, the turn around where you swap gear out, whatever. And for goodness sake use it. It adds almost no extra time and it can save your race if you for example leave the turn around and forgot your head light and it gets dark and leaves moving at a crawl.

At our first 50 mile race, Rocky Raccoon, near the end after it got dark we ran into 3 people who were barely moving because it was pitch black and none of them had expected to be out in the dark. They joined up with us for the final stretches to make it to the finish line. I’m not sure they’d of finished in time if they’d been out there in the dark by themselves those last miles.

So have your “Don’t leave the aid station without doing this and packing that.” and USE IT.

To the pain:

“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

-The Dread Pirate Roberts

Understand that pain in inevitable. Your feet will hurt, your muscles will hurt. Your joints will hurt. Your tendons will make themselves known in ways you can’t imagine until it’s happened. Your brain will hurt. You’ll have chafing that will make you scream when you get a chance to take a shower. You’ll be nauseated and possibly be puking or dropping your shorts frequently (hopefully in time) over the course of the race and usually in the back half when you can barely drop into squat without swearing like a sailor. You’ll have blisters big enough to hide a dog in. Well one of those tiny purse dogs anyway.

You’ll wonder why you’re doing this to yourself. And if it’s not your first then add the tag line: Again.

I’ve been in pain during ultraruns that honestly would knock a lot of people off their feet. Pain at levels that prescription strength (legally obtained) narcotics didn’t touch.

Note: I would strongly advise any runner to not use anything stronger than OTC pain relief. You can, maybe, dope yourself up to where you can keep going but also where you’re doing permanent damage to your body or least damage bad enough you’ll need significant care afterwards.

The bottom line is, expect discomfort. Expect pain. Expect to have an continual inner dialogue “Is taking this next step worth it?” for miles on end.

So what to do about it? Learn to live with it and learn what you can safely do to knock the edge off it.

“Make friends with pain and you’ll never be alone.”

Ken Chlouber

The safest, note I didn’t say safe, but the safest pain reliever available OTC for ultra runners is Acetaminophen, aka Paracetamol aka Tylenol. The reason this is safer is because it’s processed by the liver. All the other NSAID’s are processed by the kidneys. During long distance running you’re stressing your kidneys pretty badly so throwing something else to be processed by the kidneys into the mix isn’t great. Additionally something like Ibuprofen can act like a binder or glue with the myglobin molecules that are generated from muscle damage to make it harder for them to fit through the kidneys.

If nothing else to take away from that just remember “Ibuprofen bad when running.”

This can all lead to a lot of bad things, the worst that I’m aware of being Rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdo is when there’s so much myglobin in the blood that it chokes the tubes that make up the kidneys and its ability to filter your blood is greatly diminished. The effects can range from bad to BAD aka dead.

During ultrarunning it’s very important to pay attention to the color of your urine and the frequency of urination. If it starts to get dark yellow then start being concerned. If it turns the color of Coca-Cola then start being scared.

The solution is easy enough, hydration, hydration and hydration. Don’t forget to hydrate! And do not hydrate with just plain water unless you’re getting enough electrolytes through other sources as you can end up with something like Hyponatremia which can have impacts from bad to BAD aka dead and the loss of of enough electrolytes which are literally what help your electrical system operate to do things like make your heart beat which,yes same thing, bad to BAD.

Fueling:

It’s important to train fueling. You need to find out ahead off race day what works well for you in terms off caloric intake, flavor, bulk, texture, nutrition etc. And this can shift over time and effort. What you feel like you can intake for days at the start of a 100 mile race makes you want to puke by mile 75. So not only have a fueling plan but a back up plan.

Improper fueling and hydration are the second leading cause to a really bad race and likely a DNF as well. These two things are super critical. No matter your pace, you’re going to be burning more calories than you can process per hour. So you’re running at a deficit. You make up the difference by converting fat into energy.

So training fasted and at sufficient distance to force your body to go through whatever carbs it has stored up and then have to dip into the fat stores is another crucial part of fueling. The more used to turning fat back into energy your body is, the better off you’ll be in ultras.

Like everything about ultra marathons, you have train it it all. Your digestion, fat conversion, pain tolerance, mental willpower, physical body, it is all a wonderful machine if you will that will let you cross the finish line. Sometimes in good shape, sometimes in horrible shape, but in the end crossing that finish line before the cut off is the goal of a race.

And in the journey you learn more than a little bit about yourself, win lose or draw.

Important tip: Be wary of consuming a large quantity at one time and VERY wary of consuming strange things. My first 100 mile race at the mile 25 aid station I had some dessert bread offered to me by the sweetest lady you could imagine. And it was very good and I said so. She gave me a big piece ‘for the road’ which I ended up just eating it over the next mile since I didn’t want to waste it and didn’t have a great place to carry it. For the next 50 miles that bread sat like a lump in my belly and caused me to cut way down on my intake waiting for it to process. Ultimately it wasn’t what caused my DNF but it did add a bit of unpleasantness to the race.

In general for fuel I depend on these after trying a lot of things:

CBBJ or Cashew Butter, Banana, Jelly sandwiches. I blend cashew butter, banana along with some honey and or maple syrup into a paste then use that along with some good elderberry or blackberry jelly on potato bread. It’s a great source of carbs, fats, proteins and important electrolytes like sodium and potassium. I’ll usually take half a sandwich an hour as about half my calorie intake for the hour.

eGels by Crank Sports. I just prefer these over other gels, better electrolytes and carbs, I like the basic flavors except the mountain dew one and in general they work for me. I save these for when it feels like I’m starting to tank on energy.

I’ll also pack in my drop bags or carry with me one or more of the following –

Sour Patch Kids Extreme, Candied Ginger, Gin-Gin ginger chews, Twizzlers, Werther’s, Clif bars.

I think it’s important to mix it up on fuels. For one reason, nutritionally to get a diversity of sources for all the things you need to sustain your efforts. And for a larger reason so you will continue to fuel.

One thing to note is try to stay ahead of the bonk. It’s very hard to come back from a bad bonk from bad fueling or hydration. And it’s never fun.

Hydration:

I don’t depend on fluid intake for my fueling, at least not solely. There are runners, usually sponsored by Tailwind it feels like, that just fuel on fluids. I can’t do that myself. If you can swing it then great.

I use drink mixes more earlier on during a 100 and prefer more plain water later on. For drink mixes I use Pedialyte (orange and strawberry), Crank Sports eFuel (citrus punch) and EFS (fruit punch). I portion these up into a bottle’s worth into small ziplock bags.

For the first 50-60 miles I typically carry a 500ml bottle of a mix and a bottle of plain water at one time and usually go through 500ml total every hour(ish) depending on weather. When it gets hotter or sunbaked during the day I can easily up that to 1 liter per hour and even more during the summer.

After that first 100k or so I usually start leaning more on 1 bottle of mix to 2 waters. To make sure my electrolytes are kept stocked up I add an Hammer Endurolyte Extreme once an hour.

Gear:

Let’s start the bottom and work up. Each of these items is not the first or maybe not the 10th item I tried, I was rarely lucky with gear choices to get something that just worked the first time –

  • Shoes – For ultra’s I only use Altra Olympus or Hoka Clifton in Wide. I’ve not found for me any other shoe that works as well for going stupid long distances.
  • Socks – Injini toe socks under and Balega blister resist socks over. Yes I double sock it for 100 miles.
  • Shorts – Altra Trail shorts which are no longer made. Once the pairs I have wear out I’ll probably use Brooks Sherpas which I use now for long training runs.
  • Shirts – Honestly whatever fits the temperature of the race. I do find that higher end shirts have a softer texture than cheap ones. Not critical for short distances but for 100 miles that roughness adds up to chafing.
  • Hat – Halo skull cap or a buff in a cap configuration.
  • Vest – Solomon Advanced Labs 12L 2019 version or Nathan VaporKrar. Solomon preferred due to better pockets and storage.

Misc –

  • Poles – Leki folding poles because I like the way the hand straps unhook which means I use them as other poles I tend to not use the straps because they’re a pain to get my hands in and out quickly if I need to have a free arm.

Two months out…

So it’s two months out for what may, or may not, be our next 100. The fall version of Prairie Spirit 100 aka Kansas Rails to Trails 100.

We’re in month 3 ish of training and roughly 6 more weeks before we start tapering. Because of WFH and the Covid’s I’ve been running every day. The usual 4 days a week of actual training and the other 3 are just to keep the streak alive.

Of note this time around is Rabbit and Bunny conspired to kill me for my birthday in July. They both signed me up for VR runs. Bunny’s was ‘just’ 110 miles in 10 days. With the caveat on day 1 you ran 2 miles, day 2 4 miles, day 3 6 miles until you finished on day 10 with 20 miles for a total of 110. Oddly enough that was also almost the temperature those days.

It works out to a 100 miles in 7 days on the back side, technically 98 but I added a little extra to knock out my first 100 mile week .

Rabbit’s was ‘only’ a 1 mile, 5k, 10k, half and full in the same month. With riders on each one. 1 mile was to be a PR attempt. I succeeded, surprisingly given the temperatures and RH but got it done. The 5K was see how much elevation you get in 5K. Not a huge amount, this is pretty flat area but we did get a reasonable amount. The 10K was to run to someplace for food. We ran and got icecream. ūüôā The Half was to run someplace I’ve never run before. That wasn’t easy without traveling but I managed. And the full was to be a ‘fun run’ with Bunny. Fun is certainly an interesting concept.

For Rails of the things we’re considering strongly is have a drop ‘pouch’ at every manned aid station with 2 pre mixed bottles for the way out and 2 for the way back. This helps cut down on minutes spent refilling or getting refills and minutes were literally the difference between our first DNF and running up against the cutoff at mile 92. Imagine suffering for 92 miles and then having to quit because you’re 12 minutes late to the station with only 8 miles to go? Yeah we’re keeping an eye on minutes now.

A crew would be nicer, I’d love to hit an aid station and just walk through it trading used for new without having to stop but there’s also something about depending on no one but yourself, for good or bad.

Another key thing is we’re going to do our overnight gear change at the mile 62(?) aid station, not the 52. The reason is there are no GD bathrooms at the 52 so unless you want to show your ass off to people there’s no way to change into clean warmer gear for the night half. Or you haul your gear down the block to the Taco Bueno, change then haul it back. No thanks. The mile 62(?) station has bathrooms, big ones. So we’re going to just circle through the turn around and wait for better amenities.

Gear choices are only slightly changed from the last ultra we did, Snowdrop 55 but I’m gonna list them here –

Shoes: Altra Olympus 3.5’s and maybe 4.0’s. The 4.0’s are not due to ship till September. Another victim of the global impact on Covid I’m sure. I have two pair of 3.5’s, one with a fair bit of miles on it the other not too bad. Hopefuly the 4.0’s will work for me and I can have a newer pair to use for the bulk of the miles.

Socks: Injinji’s of course. Won’t use anything else for ultras.

Shorts: The Altra Trail 2.0’s (discontinued). The Brooks are okay but once you go stupid long it’s the Altra shorts for me. When they wear out I don’t know what I’m going to do.

Shirt: REI long sleeve quarter zip (discontinued). I have 4 of these, they’re stupid soft and comfortable. I should have bought 20.

Head: Halo skullcap, that rubber strip really does work to channel the sweat sideways and keeps it out of your eyes.

Ears: Trekz Aftershockz Air or Titaniums. I can’t do in ear and I also want to be able to have my ears unplugged so I can hear the world.

Vest: Salomon Advanced 12L 2019 edition. Storage and layout is the best out here for my needs.

Poles: Leki Shark folding poles. I’ll be carrying these as emergency in case of injury, picking them up at the 62 mile station.

Fluids: Usual, Pedialyte (orange or strawberry), Crank Sports eFuel and water. Alternate about 50/50 between plain water and flavored water. As the day gets long and into the next tend to desire more plain than flavored which means I have to supplement with electrolytes and food based fuels.

Electrolytes: Hammer Endurolyte Extremes, nothing better in my experience.

Foods: Whatever’s at the aid stations with backup of DIY nutbutter mix (cashew butter, banana, maple syrup, salt and then either a high quality jam or cookie butter) on potato bread, a few Crank Sports eGels, Clif Bars and Ensure at the drop bags just in case nothing appeals.

Meds: All the pain killers but focused on Acetominophin to keep kidney impact as low as possible but sometimes you gotta mix things up to come at severe pain from multiple directions.

Electronics: Pixel 2 for live tracking and status updates “Not dead yet”, Stryd Air for accurate pacing, Fenix 6X with my hand built ultra tracking datafield, Scosche 24+ just because I like to have HR data to look back on and likely a Gopro 8 to try and record the agony of a 100 miles.

Misc: Squirrel’s Nut Butter for anti chafing, for colder runs it’s better than Trail Toes, my preferred when it’s hot.

And there you have my packing list for any given 100 mile race.

Kansas Rails To Trails Race Report

AKA how to not finish a 100. Long story short, we DNF’d. Read below for more details of the race, our race and the gear used –

The Race review (nothing personal) – It’s a well run race, with sufficient manned and unmanned aid stations. The course is easily runnable by anyone, the surface is probably 98% packed gravel (almost old asphalt like in some sections) with some paved areas in the towns and where the path weaves under the highway from time to time. The trail won’t slow you down.

Check in, packet pickup was done smoothly and well, no major roadblocks there. The pasta dinner was plentiful although not gourmet but sitting and talking to other runners over some canned sauce is worth the price of admission and then some. There were a lot of ‘firsts’ there. One couple we talked to, the woman had to drop from the hundred due to being pregnant and her and her S.O. were just going to walk up out to the turn around for one of the short distances, have lunch in the town and then walk back. Bravo for her for making that choice and him for supporting it.

Drop bags made it without issue to the locations we had ours, no complaints. It’s possible to have a drop bag at every manned station which isn’t something we’ve personally seen before. We just had 2 bags, one for the 25/75 station and one at the turn around.

The scenery is… Kansas. After the first mile you’ve seen all the variety you’re going to see. There are sections where the trail bed drops off fairly sharply on one side or the other so some level of care should be taken to stay between the lines but the path is 6 to 8 feet wide for all of the route.

It’s important to note that the outbound 51 miles is where most of the 1100 vertical contained. You’re almost constantly going up hill even if it’s only slightly so the first half + of the race.

The aid stations were reasonably well stocked and included the typical options. The second aid station had figured out exactly the best way to offer raman. Cook the noodles and strain and portion them out into cups and keep the broth heating separately. When you take some, add some broth back to the noodles and they’re the perfect temperature and not so overcooked they’re like mush. I wish and hope that other RD’s will pass this on to all their AS’s and each other.

The volunteers were on par with any other ultra we’ve run although I’d like to call out the two volunteers at Richmond trail head who were there when I staggered in 2 minutes before the cut off. The only way they could have been more helpful was to craft a palanquin out of the picnic table I was flattened out on and carried me to the next aid station on their shoulders. I didn’t get a chance to catch their names but they were outstanding in their care, their courtesy and their “the next cutoff is going to be tight, you should probably be moving” encouragement after I’d been laying there all of 2 minutes. We love it when the volunteers are obviously either runners themselves or they’ve crewed runners before and are aware of the technical parts of ultra running, not just how to make you feel welcome and get you food and fluids.

There are bathrooms at the manned aid stations except perhaps the most critical one, the 51.2 mile turn around. There are no public bathrooms here and there were no porta-potties. While it’s quite possible there are ordinances preventing placing porta-potties in a park this lack was noticed. Especially for those who were replacing everything to deal with the upcoming drop in temps for the night.

There was sufficient water at the water stops. I do have a trivial to most, kind of a pain for me, complaint in that most if not all of the water jugs used for the unmanned water stops were filled from a garden hose. They all had that “it’s hot mowing out here, I’m just going to take a drink from the hose that’s been laying in the sun, oh my that’s nasty” taste. For whatever reason I really do not like the taste of hose water so this was an ongoing problem for me. It wasn’t super impactful just kept me going ‘yuck’ every time I drank it. After awhile I’d keep one bottle in reserve of good water obtained from the manned stops to reduce the amount of rubber water I was drinking.

So if you’re looking for a 100 mile course as a first time course or just a affirmation race after a DNF of a more technical one, the Kansas Rails to Trails / Prairie Spirit has no serious downside other than it’s not a ‘destination race’. You won’t be presented with some grand vistas or gorgeous waterfalls or painted rocks. But if you just want to endure a 100 mile race at an easier pace than is required for a lot of them or just want to PR that bitch of a distance then give it a shot.

Now let’s get personal –

3 days ago we DNF’d our first attempt at a 100 miles. This was at the Kansas Rails to Trails 100 Mile Race as it’s known in the fall. The same race occurs in the spring as Prairie Spirit 100 Mile Race. Different buckles, same everything else.

Bunny and I have spent the last year training for this race. We did the miles, 1100ish this year , we worked out nutrition and hydration, gear selections. We put in the sprints, the hills, the tempo runs, the back to backs, the overnights, the long runs, the short runs. 2 days a week at the gym for strength training. We ran our first 50 mile race this year, our first 24 hour race, my first triple back to back to back race weekend. A lot of miles, gallons upon gallons of sweat, and a whole of time going over the same local running paths and trails.

And we went into this race feeling we were ready. My primary concern going into it was sticking with the pace plan to get us to the first of many cut offs at the turn around at mile 51.2. I created a pacing chart that I had every expectation would see us finishing with an easy pace but plenty of cushioning to not have to worry about cut offs. We have Snowdrop 55 coming up in 2 months and I didn’t want a lot of recovery time so we could use this more as a training run than a finishing run. I was honestly expecting to finish in around 27-28 hours and enjoying the experience as much one can enjoy this ridiculous sport we claim to enjoy.

And up till the turn around we did accomplish these goals without any issues. We ‘stuck the landing’ on the turn around precisely on point and still feeling pretty good about things with a projected finish time of 27 hours. I was dealing with some food issues, too many calories too early that were sitting in my stomach and refusing to either get digested or come back out.

I had a minor problem really from mile 30 onward I primarily subsisted on water, saltstick chews, hammer endurolyte extremes and candied ginger. At the AS’s I would add some calories, not a lot but enough to keep things in the processing pipeline while waiting for that lump of lead homemade goodness of pumpkin bread and cookies to get processed. I kept it to no more than half a baby potato dipped in salt or 4 chips or a half cup of the raman broth. There wasn’t really any time during this nutrition shortage that I felt short on nutrition, my fat burning was taking care of energy needs.

Even with that, we ran our 2nd fastest Marathon distance and our fastest 50 mile distance in the first half of this race. So that to me validates our training if nothing else. We’re getting better.

Around mile 60-65 things started to clear up digestion wise, the backlog of calories was moving through. But that’s when, figuratively thankfully, “shit happens”. At the 51 mile turn around I picked up poles to use. My thought was these would transfer a minor bit of effort from the legs to the upper torso during the walk segments. We’ve used them for ascents and descents before and the back 25 miles of the ROcky 50 without any problems.

I thought the poles were safe…

What I believe in hindsight that they did was also transfer a minor bit of stress to my lower back. By mile 65 my back was hurting. As both a tall and sideways big ass runner my whole life living in an average sized world I’ve had back problems. By mile 75 my lower back was excruciatingly painful. I couldn’t straighten up at this point without external assistance in the form of a wall or floor. I would take the occasional opportunity to lay flat on a bench when we passed one to give it small break but the relief this was getting me lasted for shorter and shorter time frames until eventually I’d literally just stumble/slam into the side of a bridge or one of the entry barriers and hang off it for a few moments trying to straighten and get even a second’s relief.

Without any risk of exaggeration this was some level 10 pain that I endured for several hours. But as long as we had a shot at making the cutoffs there wasn’t any chance I was going to stop, too much, too far to get to this point. That’s not to make me sound like a bad ass, I’m not, I can just tolerate pain when the potential reward is worth it, I take a couple of aspirin for a minor headache like everyone else. But I was literally throwing a pharmacy at this pain and it wasn’t touching it. A smorgasbord of over the counter, hard core prescription pain relief and muscle relaxers (all legally obtained and prescribed), didn’t even dent it.

And yes I know you shouldn’t do this, that you can dull pain to the point of real injury, even permanent injury, let’s all agree this is bad and not something anyone should ever do.

Bunny was having to act as a human bumper to keep me from going off the path. If you’ve never run this trail there are sections with a fairly sharp, fairly deep drop off on one side or the other at times and she’d get between me and the edge and bump or pull me back toward the center of the track. I was unable to move in a straight line, what would have happened if she hadn’t of been there… well it might have gotten ugly to say the least.

While that may not sound like much, I outweigh her by 80 lbs at least. And she was putting in every mile, every hour I was and carrying just as much gear. So keeping me from going off the rails wasn’t an insignificant task.

I’ll stop here to say that guys and gals, if you get lucky enough to find a ultra running partner who you can depend on through good and bad times, who is there every step of the way make sure you fully appreciate just how lucky you are. Finding someone to pace you that last 25 miles is hard enough, finding someone to run at your side for a 100 miles, to give you the freedom to push yourself to the point of destruction by taking on the burden of ‘keeping you between the lines’ is unbelievably rare.

At 26 hours, 46 minutes we were still 2 miles short of the last cut off. I’ve never run a 6 minute mile in life much less 2 of them back to back at miles 92-93. I knew we were done and with that realization I knew I could not go another step forward without going face down, my arms were toast from trying to support my torso for so long and my lower back and down into my glutes and hip stabilizers was a black hole going nova of pain (or for the nerds it felt like what I imagine is the end result of putting a bag of holding into a dimensional hole) so I went down intentionally to lay on my back on the trail to find some relief so we could finish that last 2 miles where the only thing waiting us was to get pulled for time. And the worst part? We were still on pace to finish the race in about 29:30, it’s just that last cut off killed any chances of getting to use the last 3 hours to finish.

A law enforcement vehicle had been running drag on us, stopping at each crossroads to pick up the water jugs at the unmanned stops as as everyone behind us had either dropped prior or been pulled at the last check point. He was kind enough to cut the misery short by a bit and took us into Princeton and checked us in then dropped us off at the start. Bunny arranged for that, it is just a haze of pain for me. If I’d of been clear minded my own stubborn pride to the point of stupidity would have stepped in and said, no I’m going to keep walking till they pull my stupid dying ass off the course but I wasn’t quite of sound mind at that point.

I can’t say I’m not disappointed in that my mistakes cost Bunny her first buckle and to a lesser extent me as well. I can say I put everything I had into that run and pushed through more than I thought I could, and I think highly of myself, so that’s something. At no point did the thought of dropping out or calling it quits enter my head and that’s something even more.

I can say we’ve already micro-analyzed the race, the obvious and non-obvious mistakes, the moving versus non-moving time, what we can do to fix those problems so that at the next race we reduce the wrong and increase the right.

Ultimately this failure is just the first. There may be more failures, RNGesus with the weather, terrain, mistakes will factor in that result ratio, but there will 100% be more attempts.

Technical stuff –

For this race I carried the following things, not everything was used. Each entry has a note of some kind indicating my thoughts on it’s usefulness or ability to do what I asked of it –

Clothing:

  • Altra Trail Shorts 2.0 – No longer made which is a damn shame. The best shorts I’ve found for me. When mine wear out it’s going to be a sorry ass day, literally. Wore these the entire run. No chafing.
  • REI Quarter Zip – No longer made (see above). Super soft hand, lightweight, wicking, drying. The perfect long sleeve shirt.
  • Under Armor Cold Gear Shirt – Perfect weight for the night time run, was able to get by with just this and a vest.
  • Brooks Thermal Cascadia Vest – Used this during the night when temps dropped into the low 40’s to high 30’s. Combined with the UA shirt was perfectly comfortable.
  • Injinji medium weight trail crew socks first layer, Balega no show medium weight outer layer – Went with two pair of socks for cushion value. They DID NOT prevent blistering on the outer sides of heels from all the walking we ended up doing. I do not normally get blisters except on stupid long runs when I end up doing a lot of walking and then it’s on the outside of my heels where there’s more rubbing due to heel striking.
  • Buff – Standard buff, used during the night worn on the neck.
  • Halo head wrap – Love these for their ability to keep sweat out of my eyes. That weird rubber band thing actually works as I have some old ones the rubber band has come off and I get sweat in my eyes if I wear those.

Shoes –

  • Altra Olympus 3.5 x 3 – I started in a size 13 which is my nominal size then switched to size 14’s at mile 25 and mile 50. The thought was to have as much cushion as possible for my feet and it worked out well for me.

Misc Gear –

  • Squirrels Nut Butter – Liberally applied at race start at every possible chafing location. No chafing as a result. Previous winner was Trail Toes but I’ve found SNB to be better for me personally although it doesn’t do well in the cold as it gets rock hard in the jar so carry it in a small zip lock on your person if you need to apply during a race so it stays warm.
  • Salomon 2019 12L vest – First time wearing this for an ultra race. In my opinion of the vests I’ve used it has the best and most efficient layout of storage spaces. If you can’t get everything you need in this thing then you’re running for days, not hours. Almost everything is very well thought out for my needs. My biggest gripe is the strap system to fasten it on but then I have this same complaint about most vests. Only the Nathan’s get it right and have clasps that are as easy to use when you start as when you’re staggering after 25 hours of running.
  • Paria Outdoor Products – collapsible carbon poles. I’ve put a fair number of miles on these poles and while I directly attribute them as the cause of my DNF for this particular race it is NOT for any fault of the poles, just my lack of training with them over long flat distances.
  • Trekz Titanium Headphones – Carried but never used. When I wanted music I just played it on the speaker of my phone for both Bunny and I to share. Still enjoy them.
  • Pixel 2XL – Carried to enable live track so friends and family could keep track of us. Found out the hard way that live track only lasts for 24 hours. So much for that. Also used for music which sounds good enough for phone.
  • Zebra headlight – H600FW to be exact. This light lasted the first hour+ of the race and then about 8 hours of the night on the same battery on medium. It puts out a metric crapton wave of floody light in front of you at this light setting and weighs virtually nothing and comes with a very comfortable head strap. It’s not a ‘runners’ light, it’s more of a hunting / tactical quality light which is why I think it works so well. It’ll go a couple or three hours on high and you’ll light up the immediate area like a car would. Highly recommended. If you want a long throw then get a different model though, i prefer to see everything in a hemisphere around me for 50 yards than a narrow beam for 150 yards.
  • Goodr BFG Sunglasses – Very overpriced for the quality but they get the job done and if you drop them on a rocky section and scratch the crap out of them you’re only mildly annoyed rather than going “!(@&)&!%##!! that’s $150 down the toilet!!!!111!” that you might do for any of the higher end sun glasses. I consider them disposable and if I get a year+ out of them before they get scratched up then they served their purpose.
  • Stryd Foot Pod – No better device for accuracy for distance and speed. Downside is the battery only lasts about 14-15 hours so you will have to recharge or use an alternate method.
  • Garmin Fenix 6X – No better watch ecosystem for me and the way I run and train. The current iteration, the 6 series will give you second by second GPS for up to 60+ hours. (note live track burns into this by a fair bit). If you need more than 60 hours of continuous GPS tracking without having any downtime to throw the watch on a charger then you’re beast mode and probably don’t need GPS.

Nutrition –

Note not all of this was used this race but it has been used at some points and tested well with us –

  • NB&J sandwiches – specifically Cashew butter + high end jam + banana + honey + maple syrup + salt on potato bread. These turned out to be the best options of the various PB&J’s we tested.
  • Candied / Crystalized Ginger – Eat a piece with every fueling to enjoy less stomach distress and get some spicy tasty calories.
  • EFS Fuel – A high potency drink mix of all the electrolytes, BCAA’s and other things you’re burning through. Best flavor is the fruit punch in our opinion.
  • PediaLyte – Doesn’t have everything you need but sometimes you just want to hydrate and this does the trick and with a flavor profile tailored to appeal to people who aren’t currently feeling their very best.
  • Strawberry Newtons – Good but not sure I’d take them again, they ended up tasting too sweet oddly enough during the run.
  • Peanut Butter M&M’s – Usually highly tasty but like the newtons they ended too sweet, won’t take again.
  • Stinger Waffles / Stroupwaffles (generic) – Were eaten during the run, not critical but does provide variety.
  • Cliff Nut Filled bars – Only had 1 out of 4 and only half of that one. Decided they’re good for a short run but too heavy for a long run. Won’t bother with them again.
  • Ensure Enliven – Used these 3 times for a heavy hit of calories and electrolytes and fluid replacement. Not great warm. I’ve used these twice now on runs of 80+ miles and for me they seem to work well. Bunny doesn’t get along with them as much, too many calories in one sitting.
  • And lastly at the Aid Stations I primarily had small amounts of boiled potatoes liberally smushed into salt, ramen broth (fluids, salt and warmth), potato chips (no more than 4) and never all of that at the same time.

Preparing for a ‘Real’ Ultra

Having successfully finished two 50k races now I can officially call myself an Ultra Marathoner. Unlike some I feel that the additional 4.868 miles of a 50k over a marathon counts as an Ultra. It’s like doing a Marathon plus a 5k race and then some.¬† It counts. Period.¬† The reason I think so it that personally it takes more effort and planning to crank out 31+ miles over marathon. No it is not the same effort as a 50 mile, but it is still requires a little more fuel and hydration, extra time on legs and most importantly the mental strength to go just one more 5k and even more so to go beyond that.¬† That’s my take on it anyway and frankly I don’t give a rats rear if you‚Äôre an elite 50 miler who doesn’t think a 50k qualifies as an Ultra, because it does so there. :p

That said I am not going to lie, I am more than a little terrified to face my first ‘real’ ultra 50 mile race. This weekend’s Go Longer 50k in the subfreezing temperatures and winds reminded me just how horrible the pain can be during a race and at the end of 31 miles; now add on top of that another 19 miles and I am frankly challenged to wrap my mind around how I’m going to be able to do that.  Saturday was a real struggle for me. I hurt, a lot, mainly because of the cold. My head was in a bad place due to fear of some unknowns and the cold wind just made me feel absolutely miserable. It was my turn to be down and need support and that is exactly what I got. Trex was more than upbeat and cheerful the whole way and helped me not to sink too far into the doldrums. I am grateful.

So if I have learned anything from this journey it is to trust my training, stick to the plan (as best I can), lean on your partner if needed, and remember that with every distance the accomplishment is going past the wall, and the wall comes when it comes.

So that’s all there is to it. Right? I mean really it’s just tackling a little less than two marathons back to back. Right? As if one marathon isn’t hard enough?!!! Why am I doing this? (((Begin Panic Attack)))

‚Ķ..  10 minutes later  (((End Panic Attack)))

Okay with that over and done with I can resume my plans to pack and prep for Rocky. I have exactly one day off every year, today, MLK Day, when my kids are in school, the spouse is at work, and it‚Äôs an observed company holiday for me. So after I write this post I will make the most of my time and pack and plan for my race. I actually enjoy packing and prepping for a race, so it will be nice to do it without constant interruption. But before I start packing I am reviewing what I learned from this weekend, revising my To-Do and packing lists, and making notes to ensure I prep and pack having gained more insight. So here’s a list of things I learned from this weekend:

I learned that I can’t eat nearly as much food as I planned, but that having it sorted in go bags was brilliant and saved time. Some tweak need to be made to how label/number by bag sets.

I learned that a combo of Spring Energy fuel with some Huma and PB, Hot Chocolate and Hot Broth sprinkled in does a body good.

I also learned that subfreezing temps slows me way down at the aid stations because my whole body is stiff and my hands are shaking and ridged. Let’s hope it’s not this bad at Rocky.

I learned I should have remembered to use handwarmers on my exposed bottles to prevent freezing. If it hadn’t been below freezing and the straws on my bottles hadn’t frozen I could have saved more time in and out of rest stops.

I learned I need to have rubber gloves or a dry change of gloves so I can more quickly refill my bottles without having to expose my fingers in extreme cold temps.

I learned I am going to have to use the volunteers at the aid stations and need to have an efficient method for handing off my bottles and drink mixes so that the required communication and time are minimal. For this I plan to separate my food and drink mixes and I plan to rotate 4 bottles in my pack and have pre-filled bottles in my drop bag. Two full and two empty so I can easily add mix to empty bottles and just hand those to be refilled. I actually had this setup ready for this weekend but I failed to execute my plan due to a few issues. First I still had water in my front bottles when I arrived at the car aid stations. So rather than swap them I opted to refill them. Two I struggled with getting to my empty bottles stored in the back because the rear storage in my Nathan Vapor Krar 12L is nearly inaccessible without taking the damn thing off or having Trex help me retrieve stuff. I find this to be dangerous on trails as I am likely to trip doing this, especially in the dark. Which is the reason I just bought a Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set. I lucked out and it was on sale today so it should arrive just in time for the trip.

I learned that sticking to Trex’s well planned out pacing workouts does the trick, except for when one of us decides to break pace and “reel-in” some other runners with whom we were not technically competing since they weren’t even doing the same distance as us.

I learned that Altra Men’s Paradigms sort of fit my feet. Remind me to rant about shoe sizing in a later post.

And most of all I learned that I am very very lucky, fortunate, and grateful to have a wingman like Trex by my side.

Spring Fueling

Although it’s kind of late in the game we’re trying out Spring energy fuel/food as one source of fueling for our first 50 mile race. It was highly recommended by Ginger Runner and overall he and I tend to like the same things. We have the same opinion on the shoes we have in common, the hydration vests etc.

I know the age old wisdom don’t change anything pre-race but we’re 6 weeks out and we have time to test this option out and make sure it agrees with us physically and mentally.

Spring energy gels are ‘real food’ and not just an assortment of sugars. Now I, so far with 2500 miles under my belt and in my belly, get along with pretty much anything. I’ve not done extremes like cake icing and Coke but I’ve tried a vast assortment of fuels out there from Gu’s pure sugar to cheese Quesadillas real food and none of them had disagreed with me in terms of digestion. There are a number that I don’t care for in terms of flavor or texture but I’ve eaten them all without a problem. I’ve also consumed loads of ‘real’ food on long runs and races without any problems.

Spring gels fall into the “let’s take real food and turn it into baby food” in a lot of ways. The primary ingredients are basmati rice, bananas and then some variety of add ons such as coconut oil, coconut water, fruits, peanut butter, honey, chia seeds, citrus and so on.

They have a system for fueling. Pretty much all other fuels I’m aware of in gel format and frankly most of the bar types like Picky and RX are the same basic blends but different flavors. And for some, the ones based on date puree the flavors are so close together for me because they’re all very ‘datey’ that they might as well be the same.

Spring has 5 types of fuel each in one flavor and one drink mix to supplement those. Each type is aimed at one type of output. Pre-race or when you need a boost, long slow burn, caffeine laced for a bit of pep up, recovery etc.

It’s certainly an interesting approach. Flavor wise they’re okay to me. The most popular one, Canaberry so named after Sage Canaday and Strawberries isn’t super fruity to me. It tastes like what it is, pureed rice and banana with some natural sweeteners and a hint of strawberry.

I think because they’re kind of bland they may agree with most but I doubt few will actively look forward to them? There’s not going to be a “Yay! It’s been 30 minutes time for another of those delicious yummy gels.” for me at least.

One thing with the Spring fuels though is IMO you really have to make sure you’re consuming enough electrolytes. Their system is balanced and includes their drink mix (which is a peculiar blend of flavors, I’m not yet sure if I like it or I can tolerate it). If you just use the fuels and you’re not ingesting electrolytes some other way then you’re risking getting out of whack on basics.

I plan on using their hydration but I’ll be rotating it with Ultima (Lemondate and Pomegranate) and PediaLyte (Orange) as I like those flavors and feel the mixing things up will help over 50 miles.


Altra Trail 2.0 Shorts (Mens)

Altra Trail 2.0 Shorts

In my seemingly till now never ending quest to find a pair of shorts to go really long in I’ve come across the Altra Trail 2.o Shorts.

I ordered them in the Extra Large (of course) size just on the off chance they would fit.¬† The official sizing is for a 37 to 41″ waist.¬† ¬†I’m happy to report they fit at the waist just fine for me at 6′-4″ and 240lbs.¬† YMMV of course.

#GingerRunner likes them and they made his top 5 shorts lists for 2018 and I’ve found over the last couple of years that we tend to have the same opinion on various pieces of gear that we have used in common.

Overall the fit is good, loose but not baggy. Which was a relief.  Although I did buy them from Running Warehouse which has a good return policy.   The waistband is slightly elasticized and there is a drawstring that ties on the outside in the front.  That means no knots, bows or strings inside your shorts to cause a potential chafe point.

The material is soft and on the light-medium weight side.

There are two slanted mesh pockets on the sides that are rectangular and about the size of an iphone 5-6.¬† ¬†They are stretchy so you could stuff a fair number of gels in them.¬† ¬†In the front left is a shallow horizontal pocket that’s big enough for a credit card, a key or two or something of that ilk.¬† But this pocket has no closer on it, no zip, velcro or overlapping flap.¬† ¬†Use it at your own peril.

In the back is a open sleeve that could be used to hold a light jacket or a pair of gloves or arms sleeves or something like that.  Under the sleeve is a zip pocket that holds a Pixel 2XL quite easily.

One minor thing I found is because the waistband is soft and only a little elastic after 5k my phone had pulled the shorts down a bit after the material had gotten soaked through with sweat.¬† ¬†This could be fixed by tying the drawstring tighter.¬† BUT… because it’s your typical string based drawstring this might cause a potential chafe line for you if you really load down the shorts with loot.

These trail shorts have a built in boxer liner which I like and the ends are hemmed just right for my quads to be tight enough but not too tight so that the liner doesn’t ride up.¬† ¬†Pretty important for someone like me.

I ran them for the first time today, just a 5k though.  But other than near the end that after sweating them through and them stretching a bit that they were getting pulled down by the weight of my phone they really just disappeared during the run.  And pending issues showing up on a long run these look like a very real candidate for being my 50 shorts.

I also have a pair of 2XU compression tights that I’ll be testing to see if they will work for me for long runs.¬† ¬†With the potential temps of the Dead Horse 50K we’re doing in November ranging from 30 to 50, dressing appropriately may be tough.¬† ¬†I have a feeling it’s going to be a cold start and being a bit underdressed so as to be comfortable for most of the run.¬† ¬†Still not sure if I’ll be doing shorts or tights for it, probably take both.

The Running Industry is Biased Against Plus Sized Runners…

It’s not a serious title as I’m fully aware that my body size and shape is in the 1% of the 1% of folks trying to be long distance runners. I know that myself and the few other folks like me are not a profitable sector for anyone making running clothing.

But seriously what the hell is up with running clothing apparel makers sizing being so out of sync with the rest of the clothing industry?¬† ¬†For example a “XL” in running shorts is roughly a Medium or at best a Large and that’s being generous.

Literally my hip bones without any of that flesh and muscle that goes on them is too large to fit these.

I’m trying to find long long distance running shorts.¬† The same thing that every other long distance runner looks for, chafe free, fast drying, light weight, pockets for the key things etc.¬† ¬†But primarily shorts that are comfortable and can go long without leaving a person screaming in the shower after their super long runs as the water hits the chafing.

You find all these articles and videos for the top recommended shorts and…. I can wear none of them.

Right now I’m going to end up running my first 50K in a pair of UA Launch shorts that I cut the liner out of and a pair of UA compression shorts.¬† ¬†What’s the problem you ask? Well those compression shorts soak up sweat and end up weighing a bazillion tons.¬† The waistband ends up chafing me after about 15-20 miles.¬† Their so called ‘flat seam’ technology also ends up chafing me in other locations that should not be chafed.


I’d really like to try some of these awesome no seam having, no chafing after 100 miles, super light, fast drying shorts with the cool pockets but alas, I’m stuck with stone age technology.¬† ¬†Which I guess a dinosaur should be used to after all…

There’s no real point to this post other than to piss and moan a bit about things if you’re a runner you’ve probably never had to deal with.

 

Olympus 4.0 Followup

I took my Olympus 4.0’s out on Carl yesterday and have a couple of follow up observations.

Carl is pure vertical and technical vertical at that.¬†¬† It’s a ‘granny gear’ slope of typically 45 degrees or sharper with loose shale, slick rock and loose rock.

After 4 loops I came away less thrilled with the grip of the Olympus. Granted these were rough conditions.¬†¬† But in general I found them to be slightly less sure footed as my Lone Peak 3.5’s.¬†¬† Slightly more slippage on loose material and I partially slipped twice while descending on large rocks (boulders).

At the end of the day I came away feeling less sure on bad surfaces than I do in my Lone Peak’s.¬†¬† This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it makes me more aware of footing and balance and potentially avoids over confidence that my LP’s might put me in.

Part of the problem I think is the Vibram outer ring on the Olympus is harder material and while I’m sure really durable, it seems less secure on smooth hard surfaces at dramatic slopes that may not be as dry as they could be.

They’ve also had more stretch to them them I’m used to in a trail shoe and after lap 2 I had to retie them, starting at the base of the laces all the way up to get them to lock back in.¬†¬† This ‘should’ be a problem that resolves itself over time as all the stretch is taken out but the increased volume this is causing in the midfoot has me pulling the eyelets closer and closer together.

I’m going to have to get a pair of the Lone Peak 4.0’s sooner than later so I know what I’m going to be training with from now till spring.

Altra Olympus 4.0’s

6.2 down, 293.8 to go.

[Follow up here]

Ran my Olympus 4.0 from Altra for the first time yesterday.  Just a short 10K on mostly single track dirt paths with a few moderate technical sections.

My prior trail shoes have been Leadville V3’s, Altra Lone Peak 2.5’s, Altra Lone Peak 3.0’s, Altra Lone Peak 3.5’s.¬†¬† My current trail shoes are the Lone Peak 3.5’s that have distances up to a full marathon on them.

Sizing Note:¬† I wear anywhere from a 12.5 to a 14 in Altra shoes.¬† In Lone Peaks I’m a 14, Paradigms a 13, etc.

I initially ordered 14’s in these but they were just clown shoes so I swapped them for 13’s.¬† For trail shoes with descents the 13 is about right.¬†¬† But in a 13 they’re noticeably longer than my size 13 Escalante 1.0’s when you put them next to each other. ¬† One thing that is rather annoying about Altra’s is how flexible the ruler is they use to measure their shoes.¬† Because no one typically carries much above a 12.5 locally I almost always have to order shoes either though the local stores or online and just hope that a given model fits me in the size I ordered.¬† I’ve had to send back half the new to me Altra’s I’ve ordered because I guessed wrong on the sizing.

Initial impression was “Wow, soft and wow, I feel tall” after putting them on and walking on them.

Over the course of the 10K I was left with a fairly pleasantly neutral outlook on them.¬† While I didn’t walk away with a “OMG these are amazing.” I certainly didn’t walk away with a “These are going back.”

Honestly after the first couple of miles I kind of forgot about them and, again honestly, isn’t that a good thing?

By the end of the run they had loosened up a bit and if the run had been much longer, say a half+ I’d of likely stopped to tighten the laces but it wasn’t enough to be an issue.

Grip wise they handled everything, sand, dirt, mud, rock that I was on and I always felt like they were stuck to whatever the surface I was on.

The lugs I think are wide enough that they probably won’t cake up as badly as my Lone Peak’s do going through exceptionally thick clay type mud that we occasionally encounter, the type of material where you gain 2lbs, per shoe by the time you’ve gone 20 feet over it.

The laces, a bit of a pet peeve, weren’t too long nor too short.¬†¬† I was able to double knot them without an issue and there wasn’t enough dangling to bother me.

The arch support was just about right for me, if you have flat feet these shoes may not be to your liking so try them before buying them or may sure you can take them back.

Overall, with only 10k on them, I think they’ll do to replace my 3.5’s when they wear out.¬†¬† My current pair has about 150 miles on them and I have another pair LP 3.5’s NIB waiting their chance to come out and play but I’ll be rotating these Olympus 4’s in as well.

At this point barring any surprises in durability or fitment coming up I can see myself in a new (but broken in) pair of these for the at least half of Dead Horse 50K, if not the whole thing.¬†¬† A race I was worried about as I still have 600 miles or so of training to do before them per our schedule and a pair and a half of Lone Peak 3.5’s isn’t going to get me there and leave enough to do 50K in.

Tape and Taping and Quality Control

I’m really honestly not sure if KT Tape / Rock Tape provides ANY real benefit per science.¬† The claims border on questionable to say the least and smack of witchcraft and voodoo.¬†¬† “It lifts the skin away from the muscles and fascia to promote blood flow”¬† Uh… huh…

But… with that said I can’t say it doesn’t work.¬† And mentally for me, and your mileage may vary, it doesn’t hurt anything and potentially could help so… why not?¬† And sisters and brothers I need every speck of assistance I can get. ¬† Other than your giving money to someone for something that may be a waste of money.

With all that said the last three rolls of KT Tape “Professional” that I’ve purchased over the last year have all sucked at adhesion.¬† Two from a local sporting goods store, one from amazon, all purchased at different times and in three different colors. ¬† I apply them in the standard per KT positions to assist with ITBS on my left leg.

The roll or two I had prior to that from 2016 stayed on not only for the full duration of a run but literally days and 2 or 3 runs and it was only after they started to look a little faded or I thought it was time to let my skin breath did I take them off.   And peeling the tape off took effort.

Not so much with these new rolls, within a half hour they’re loose at the ends, within an hour or two they’re flapping¬† and by hour 3 on a run they’re just dangling and annoying so I pull them off.

Now it’s possible these days I could have legs covered in petroleum jelly or astro-glide but you’ll have to take my word that’s not the case.¬† The tape goes on clean dry skin, I’m not any more hirsute than I was before.¬† So the logical answer by Occam’s Razor is the adhesive on the newer issued rolls is not as good as the older ones, or quality control has gone to hell.¬† My money’s on KT as manufacturer finding some way to save money to increase profits for the tippy top of the profit sharing food chain by using a lesser adhesive.

Last week I ordered a roll of Rock Tape through Amazon and picked up another roll at one my local running stores to try out.

A couple of immediate observations, Rock Tape isn’t precut strips, just one long roll.¬† Secondly a new roll of Rock Tape doesn’t quite fit in a KT tape plastic container indicating the tape or center spool is thicker by a fraction of a degree.

I cut three strips out of it, the usual size I use with KT tape, one precut strip cut into two for an X and one precut strip left whole to go over it.  The method as offered by KT in their videos.

Another observation is the edges all stuck down well pre run.¬† With the KT tape I’ve been using there was always a little bit of ‘not quite’ sticking going on at the ends.

I ran a 5K this morning right around 30 minute pacing in warm humid as water world hell setting and then took a shower.  So far the tape is remaining stuck down on all edges.

I’ve got another 5K this evening and obviously a shower after that so we’ll see how it goes and I’ll post an edit on this afterwards.¬†¬† But so far while more expensive $19 versus $16 the Rock Tape is even with just a single short run’s results sticking far better, much like the 2016 versions of KT Tape Pro did.