Rocky Raccoon 50 2019 Race Report

It’s been a week since Bunny and I did the Rocky 50. We’re both feeling for the most part surprisingly well. After the race neither of us suffered the bone breaking muscle cramps, me in particular, after the Dead Horse 50 we did November 2018. My muscles, specifically my quads were pretty sore for a couple of days afterwards but by T/F they were good and today, S, they feel pretty normal.

Jazz hands!

For us this race started with a 8 hour road trip including stops for gas some breakfast. As is turning out to be the norm our rooms were not ready/available when we got there so we went and had lunch and did some shopping to kill the time.

After checking in we went to the main lodge at the park to do bag drop / packet pickup. The folks were really nice and encouraging when they heard this was our first 50 mile.

Back in our rooms it was time to sort out our gear for the umpteenth time and then some TV which reinforced once again why I cancelled cable tv years ago. I think I may have been asleep by 8:30 and for once pre-race slept surprisingly well.

There we are

To keep stress down my alarm went off at 3:30 and I went over my gear once again. By 4:30 I picked up Bunny and her gear and off we went to the Hunstville State Park where the race was held. Race start was at 6:00 a.m. and it started on time.

Off we went into the darkness at our normal post-start walk and then started our 1K run / .25k walk cycle. At each aid station we refilled a bottle, we both carried two full ones and one empty spare and snacked on whatever looked good. Our main nutrition was comprised of Spring Energy gels with some alternates like eGel by CrankSports, Skratch Labs bars, Justin’s Nut Butters, candied ginger.

Hydration was a mix of PediaLyte, ElectroRide by Spring Energy, eFuel by CrankSports, Skratch Labs drink mix.

Electrolytes were supplemented by Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes. One of the critical things we wanted to make sure of was not getting low on electrolytes to avoid major cramping during and post race. And our plan seems to have worked fairly well. So we had electrolytes in our water and additional capsules.

More Jazz Hands!!

Overall I find I don’t care for the flavor long term of the ElectroRide. Bunny likes it but for me it becomes unappealing and I can’t afford to have my fluid less than appealing so I consume it at a sufficient rate.

Starting with Damnation aid station we started grabbing cups of Raman with broth although we had to consume it at the aid station because we weren’t allowed to leave with the cups.

For future use to avoid that time sink I’ve picked up a couple of Sea To Summit collapsible mugs so we can fill and go for these kinds of foods.

We held our schedule like clockwork for the first 25 miles getting back to the S/F in 5 hours 50 minutes. A little slow for us but we did have another 25 miles to go.

I will say the course was mostly okay running wise but there were a number of pretty large mud sinks on the trails that just kept getting wider over time as runners kept going further and further out to get around them.

In general if you were careful you could though get through the course without getting your feet soaked.

The scenery was, no offense Texas and I’m a born Texan, but it was boring. Your basic Texas scrub land with some tall pines scattered here and there. After the first mile you’ve seen all the variety the course has to offer. It was no Moab desert for views.

Like everyone pretty much says, the long out and back to Farside from Damnation seems like it takes forever and when you get there there’s just fluids and some friendly people to cheer you back out.

The aid stations were well stocked with the usual things including hot foods at most.

I was starting to get worried about lack of urination by the end of lap 1 so I wasted some time trying to pee during the layover between lap 1 and 2 and we also got our trekking poles and changed shoes.

Overall I cost us quite a lot of time with fruitless attempts at urination starting now and through the next couple of ASs that had bathrooms. But I’ve suffered Rhabdo before from runs so seeing the color of my urine can be critical for me as I don’t care to hit the emergency room with kidney failure.

Eventually I started drinking more and more water even though I wasn’t super thirsty, going through about 750ml (24oz) every hour and this did the trick.

During lap 2 we switched to walking the uphills mostly and running the downhills but because the whole course was up and down with very little flat this cost us time. Add in the pee checks, raman stops, gear malfunctions and the second lap took us 7 hours and change.

We ran into a couple of ladies, one a teacher and the other a sub on the second lap and ran with them for awhile, they were ironwomen but this was their first 50 mile and really first trail. They were quicker than us except on the more technical trail pieces but eventually left us behind overall.

I bring them up because we picked them up about 6K from the finish line again where they were trying to make their way back in the pitch black as they’d not brought any light options. We moseyed back to the finish line at a moderate walk with one detour because someone had removed the ‘do not go this way tape’ and the sign to turn off was facing away from us on the side of the trail so we missed it.

Eventually we figured it out and made it to the finish line in 13 hours and 25 minutes.

Take-aways –

We both ended up measuring about 3500-3600 feet of vertical gain over the 50 miles. Not a stupid amount but more than we were expecting for sure. It was also mostly a rollercoaster route.

It should be obvious but for a long race you have to bring lights, plural and spare batteries. I’ve owned and own lights of all kinds, mostly hard duty mil-spec types but a few running lights as well.

Of all the lights I’ve owned and used I highly recommend a ‘non-runner’ light, I heard comments “is a car coming up behind us” early in the morning, and that is this ZebraLight in the warm white ‘Floody’ version.

It lights up a huge area in front of you without any hot spots, just a solid hemisphere of light. The 18650 batteries on high-high lasts about 2 and a half hours and is beyond bright. The medium power will last you all night, 13 hours and is as bright enough to keep you moving. It can also be programmed with a second high power that can last up to 6 hours and puts out as much light as any good ‘runner’ light. It’s light weight, super durable and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Once you’ve seen it turn night into day you’ll be happy to have it.

Stay on top of your hydration and electrolytes. It can mean the difference between an enjoyable race and a DNF. At no time were we really low energy, my biggest limiting factor was general muscle pain, specifically from my Morton’s Neuroma in my feet and just the constant stress of going up and down hills in my quads.

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’re 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)))

…..  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’s 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.


Agendas turn me away

At the risk of being preachy…

I was raised to think for myself.  Which was a miracle when you consider the time, location and general society I came from.  By all rights I should have been firmly entrenched in one belief system or another and lived my life according to that system’s particular tenets.

Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave.

But… for whatever reason my family both immediate and extended were all cut from other cloth.  Live and let live, choose your own path and allow others to choose theirs.  And different paths aren’t wrong just because they don’t align with yours.

This could be due to the fact that all my family and relatives on my mother’s side were voracious readers.  They were all dirt poor, too poor to buy a pot to piss in as my aunt said on many occasions but they could beg or borrow or buy (never steal) books.   Libraries, book mobiles, each other, discards from stores who would toss books that didn’t sell by their expiration date and send the front covers back for reimbursement, you name it they would find a way to get books.

As a result of all that reading you can’t not be exposed to so many viewpoints and life lessons and the like.   I grew up on The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, Robert Heinlein, Louis L’Amour, books who’s heroes were heroes.  They fought for what was right, righted wrongs and got into wonderful adventures.

I never so wanted to be born a Sackett at that time than anything else in my life.

One of the things I’ve decided for myself at some point in my life is that people like to have their decisions and choices affirmed.   I think for a lot of people there is an innate need for affirmation for a choice and this leads to the friction that people have at all levels of societies.  No one likes to have a choice be wrong and what better way to be right than to have everyone else agree with you?  And if they don’t agree with you?  Then convince them to do so.

So you end up with the people who are ‘fanboys’ and go beyond that.   Whether it’s which console is better, or which religion is better or which [whatever] is better these differences of choice can create an over abundance of… enthusiasm in a person in trying to make sure everyone else agrees with them and makes the same choice.

“That’s great and all, but why are you writing about this?”

Good question, it’s because I’m watching YT videos about running.   And as I dig deeper into the videos available I run across the proponents of “This is the only way to [whatever]”.  It could be diet, or stack height, or simply the best way to carry water on a run.

Specifically what triggered this post are the videos on diet I’ve come across today by runners that are telling me that if I’m not [vegan/vegetarian/carnivore/keto/low carb/high carb/fat adapted/non dairy/nothing with a face] then I’m an idiot and wrong.

Obviously they can’t all be right because they’re 100% at odds with each other.  Each ‘food base’ points to their individual champions as proof and throws them out there as the end all be all evidence they’re right.

I’m here to say that I bet you could take any of these champions, they’re not even a percent of a percent, they’re unique and precious snowflakes, runners and they would excel regardless of what you fed them.   There are pivotal figures in ultra running who only get by on plants or meats or sugars and they’re so far above the rest of us as to be off the bell curve much less at the end of it.

Bottom line, my advice is, if you have a view point, then present it in a calm rational manner and explain how it works for you and do not imply or outright insist that any other choice than your own is wrong, only that it’s different.  

You’re not going to convince the people who already agree with you, by definition.  And your rabid insistence you’re right is going to turn away far more people than if you just presented your opinion as a personal choice and not one that if the listener doesn’t follow they’re idiots.

Let me reiterate, people do not like to be told their choices are wrong, doing so causes them to immediately shut down their thinking and listening centers and at best you’ll get polite nods and blank stares.  The human version of the “Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave.”

I’m perfectly willing to listen and learn and re-evaluate my choices but I don’t respond well to people who aren’t willing to return the favor.

Low Carb Fueling for Long Runs

Big ol’ grain of salt….

Found a mention of a low carb option called Spike-Free (not currently avaiable as they’re researching new recipes) that included a document that has some interesting information in it.  As always take anything you read on the Internet (including this site) with a very large grain of salt.

The purpose of the document is to obviously support their theories and coincidentally their products on the best option for fueling.  It’s the same thing that eFuel and [insert your favorite fuel company] does.  Note that pre-low carb my favorite fuel was the eFuel gels and drink mixes.   They worked very well for me, better than anything I’ve tried and I’ve tried a lot (most commercial and DIY options).

But now that we’re doing low-carb, me primarily as it’s the easiest way for me to lose weight which I’m trying to drop lbs for our 50’s, sugar based options are off the table.

But the interesting thing in their proposed science for me was that after 2-3 hours of training/racing your body will have consumed all free glycogen in the system which makes sense even for people who are carb loaders.   There’s only so much storage room in the human body and 3 hours of running burns through that for the average person.  This is the source of the 20 mile wall/bonk (for the average elite).   For me I burn through glycogen stores a fair bit earlier, it takes a lot more energy to push a Semi Tractor up a hill than a Porsche.

But your body needs carbs/glycogen.  This is why if you were to cut out every carb down to 0 intake your body has a mechanism to start turning protein into a carb substitute, even consuming itself if it has to.   So you do need to intake ‘some’ carbs when you burn them all out because during extreme exertion your body has a hard time doing everything at once.  There’s only so many resources to allocate to keeping you moving, your organs functioning properly, your brain working right, processing nutrition and water, cleaning your blood of toxins.

Long story not very short, the folks at Spike Free allege that once you’ve run the tank dry then you can consume carbs to some degree, need to in fact.  And most importantly they allege that at this point certain carbs are processed directly into energy and bypass the insulin reaction with all the bad things that brings to a low carb running on fats and ketones type runner.

And this is what I find interesting as we’ve discussed how we’re going to fuel low carb on our long runs/races.   The Spike Free’s folks thoughts that we should be able to add some basic carbs like potatoes or a banana an hour, need to in fact, could prove pretty important in our abilities to do these ultra runs with some measure of enjoyment.

We’re already at the the 3-5 hour long run point in our training and those are just going to keep getting longer so we have plenty of opportunity to test it out.

If it works we’ll let you know.  And if it doesn’t work we’ll let you know that as well.

Ketoinued – Running at Midnight is Madness

So last month we went madder than the hatter and ran a 20-mile race starting at midnight.  Then last night we ran our first back-to-back morning then midnight 15k’s. As Trex has already given you his Race report, I suppose I should give my take since it was a tad bit different.

Having been on a Keto diet for month it was a preparing for races and long runs are different in many ways.

First no carb loading the days before the race and long runs. I have to say, while I am honestly not really craving carbs I did miss our pre-race ritual meals, Thai or Indian for dinner two nights before the race, and Honeynut Cheerios and bananas for breakfast (dinner in this case). Instead I eat more veggies,  avocados, fatty meats and fat bombs, drink lots of water and electrolyte drinks (Propel so far is my favorite from a flavor standpoint).

My vest isn’t laden with gels and treats, instead I bring Lyteshow, salt sticks, hammer electrolyte extreme endurance, Nuun Energy tablets, run gum and Rx Nut Butter,  Ucan and Propel server drink pouches.

Fueling for long runs is a bit different as we can’t depend on carbs. So I did some reading and found a few recipes for alternative fuels for Keto running. I bought some reusable squeeze pouches on Amazon and made up a few batches. One of pb,  ghee, avocado oil and salt. The other was pb, Lilly chocolate chips, and coconut oil. Lastly I fill a pouch or small water bottle with Gut Shot garlic and dill. Since I started Keto I crave pickle juice. This has really been a life saver and has helped with leg cramps, which I experienced around mile 13 during the Midnight Madness.  I also made lemon keto fat bombs (made with Coconut butter, which I don’t’ recommend) and usually have a couple in my ice chest.  Other snacks I pack for pit stops now usually include pickles, pickled okra, Moon cheese, Parmesan crisps, macadamia nuts and pork-rinds for crunchy salty.

With our race routes and long runs being on the same city trails we normally run, we park our vehicles to serve as our own aid stations. For Midnight Madness we parked right next to the race aid station, in the lower lot of Turkey Mountain, which stocked foods and drinks we can’t consume on this diet, so no aid there for us really.  It has worked out perfect and has ensured we have the right fuel and plenty of cold water at critical times during our runs.  Like most trail races I will grazed a bit when we stop, taking in little bit of the variety of goodies. And so far, by the time I do feel a bit tired and low on energy we are able to refuel and go.

Midnight Madness, being my first really long run on Keto I would still give it high praise for sustainable energy. During my 10-mile run through the Santa Cruz mountains and yesterday’s back-to-back 15k’s I didn’t bonk out. I feel like Keto has been way more of a help than a hindrance, at least for that distance/pace. On the other hand I have definitely noticed an impact to my HIIT runs and distances. My HR runs higher and I still find it harder to catch my breath, this is also impart due to the heat of the summer but I encountered this in San Jose so I am confident it is the greater amount of blood oxygen it takes to burn fat that is the cause of this particular issue.  Overall in terms of running condition I have felt really good for my long distance runs having started Keto and plan to continue to stick with this at least through our fall races, unless something drastically changes between now and then.

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

Stroopwaffels at Costco

Just saw that Costco had a box of 30 Stroopwafel’s for $7.    That’s a far better price point than Stinger Waffles if waffles are your thing.   Buy a bottle of Saltstick tablets and take a electrolyte tablet while you’re eating the Costco offering and you’ll save significant money on fueling.

Nothing against Stingers, just at around $1 to $1.50 a waffle they’re crazy overpriced for what you get since they’re just a stroopwafel type cookie with some added potassium, magnesium and the like.

 

An Introduction

An Introduction

On the heels of my (our) first 20 mile paved trail run I decided it was a good time to make an introduction, as a soon to be occasional contributor to this blog. Having accompanied Trex (my Running Husband, not to be confused with my Dear Husband) on a good number of the runs documented on this blog I suppose it is only fitting that you hear the other side of the story, or at least another perspective.

First and foremost I am a #runner. I am very much an athlete, having run, swam, and even played Roller Derby; but I find I have returned most often to running, probably for the practicality of it. This past year I have once again fallen in love with running as an outlet and inlet for my mind and body.  Yes yes I am one of those people.

I, unlike Trex, actually enjoy running (while running). Yes, physically it is very hard, and my brain and body offer up the normal responses to tell me ‘This sucks! You really really should just give up right now’; but I find enjoyment in the physical mental process to conquer my own version(s) of the Blerch or LAD – whom I haven’t yet named, so stay tuned.

I struggle, like every other human on the planet, with motivation and discipline issues, and what I have found, repeatedly now, is that finding a running partner (like Trex) has been exceptionally beneficial to overcoming my personal tendency to stray from the (running) path.  While I do occasionally enjoy solo running and the benefits of this, over the course of my life I have always had companions to run with and just feel it is way more fun if it is a shared experience. Yes I did in fact call running fun, a fundamental difference between myself and the Trex–we generally don’t much agree on much, and certainly don’t agree on the definition of what we find to be fun. But nonetheless I appreciate the company so I don’t complain–much.

Now about our first 20 mile run….

I am not going to lie, it was hard. I mean really effing hard. The kind of hard that, for me personally, I would rank up there with child birth in terms of the mental fortitude required to keep moving once my body had hit it’s physical limits. And to toot my own horn, I have had two children at home without the assistance of drugs to numb the pain, so I have earned the right to make that comparison.

Since the 20-mile run is an achievement milestone on the journey to a marathon, as it is for most runners on that path, I fully expected it to be it’s own challenge. Being the longest distance we will run before the Full, it was a good test to see how we would hold up at our planned marathon pace. In short I feel we passed the test, but not easily, and not without sweat and (for me) tears (at the end, when Trex wasn’t there to see).

Since Trex handled the technicalities, having already crunched the numbers and tallied our distances and times and projected how we can make our planned times at LR, that leaves the feels to me….  As I already said this was effing hard, but it was also a lot of fun….right up until that last couple of miles, and even then I enjoyed being done.  We managed to keep our spirits high and the energy positive, and I am super proud of this run and what we accomplished.

The +‘s:

  • The weather held, not too unbearably cold.
  • Mentally I think I (we) was (were) in a good place for this run having completed the 30K the weekend before.
  • I feel I (we) gained extremely valuable insight into pushing through walls.
  • We stuck to the workout schedule we built with some flexibility and managed to maintain a good run/walk pace.
  • Good Carb/caffeine fuel intake during run keep energy and mental strengths in the green.
  • Escalante’s first long run performed well, no dead toenails or blisters. Super comfy on my feet.
  • Overcame the physical wall between mile 18-20 to finish on pace target.

The ‘s:

  • Too much food at rest stop.
  • Not sure if Escalantes will be cushion enough for my joints through 26.2 miles. Leaves me to debate on what to wear.
  • Encountered pre-cramping at mile 18-20. Made it difficult to stay positive.
  • Physically felt spent at mile 19-20, did NOT feel I could have run even one more tenth of a mile past 20. This has left room for doubt about how the hell I will manage to run 6 more miles.

Lessons learned: (The hard way)

  • Check your watches the day before to make sure you remembered to sync your workouts
  • Don’t overeat or drink too much at the break stops… molasses cookies, and fig newtons are a weakness.
  • Charge/check HR belts
  • Don’t linger too long at stops.. It causes muscles to lock up and you eat too much.
  • Don’t over tighten laces and or use straight laces. After the fact I have Extensor Tendinitis in my right foot thanks to my pulling the laces too tight when my shoe came untied. This injury is still bothering me 5 days later and probably needs another day or so to be completely healed.

All in all, as I said, I feel like we achieved this milestone with flying colors, but there is a niggling feeling of doubt planted in my brain that I am going to have to wiggle loose and dislodge in order to be mentally ready for 6.2 more miles.  But I am fully prepared to give it my all and try like hell to finish the next milestone on this journey for the sheer fact that I am stubborn and strong willed and hate to lose (even to myself).  Type A all the way

EFuel by CrankSports

#NotASponsor but willing to accept

Background I’ve tried everything as fuel for long runs, Clif, Gu, Stinger, Huma, Hammer, UCann, a couple of more brands I can’t remember the name of and in all the forms each brand offers, gels, waffles, chews, bloks etc.  I’ve DIY’d my own fuel of various recipes.  Honey based, Brown Rice based, Malto based, Chia based.  I’ve done ‘real’ foods like Picky bars, DIY energy bars, Lara bars, Clif bars, pretzels with PB, Oreos, Trail Mix, Nutter Butters, PBandJ, Bananas, Candied Ginger, some others.

Drink mixes I’ve used Skratch, Tailwind and one other brand I forget.

Long story slightly shorter is I have a ‘little’ bit of experience with a pretty good chunk of what’s available and in common usage.

So in Q4 2017 I picked up a couple of “eGel” gels.  They were being offered as freebies by someone at a race.  I took a couple and used one on a long run to validate no ‘issues’ but so far I can eat, drink anything without a problem.  After all the crap I’ve put in my belly over the last few decades both natural and unnatural I would be surprised, barring an infection, to find something I couldn’t digest.

But still they sat easy on me.

I can say that after 20 months as of right now of fueling for running that eGel by CrankSports and their drink mix eFuel has made a very apparent difference in me in my ability to stay energetic over the course of long runs.  I don’t know if their science is real or not, I’m not a food anthropologist as they say.  But I can say that I’m willing to given them the benefit of the doubt.  And valid or not they make a good argument for their stuff.

So I didn’t need to check the local shoe stores because I know exactly what they sell and this isn’t one of them. I popped over to Amazon and nothing.  A google later and I found out their website and then found out they don’t sell on amazon preferring to bypass the fee amazon charges as savings to direct customers.  There is one store in the state that sells them but it’s a 4 hour round trip to do it and just not worth it.

I ordered a sampler pack of gel and drink mix.  And got a shipped notice same day I place the order.   Each time I’ve placed an order it ships same day.  Today it literally shipped 34 minutes after I placed the order at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday.  This just put them over the top in my book s and prompted me to finally write this review.  And after using them for 4 months give or take with the same results every time is also another reason to review them.

On long runs I take a gel 30 to 45 minutes pre run and then one gel every hour or so after that.   I also alternate water and sips of the eFuel on the run.

And I have no highs or lows during our long runs, just steady sustained energy.    Last Saturday we did a pretty long 30K trail run and energy level I was up and level for the entire 19.5 miles.

Flavor wise for the gels, honestly they’re all pretty close to the same to me.   I can taste slight differences but not enough to have a favorite, they’re all acceptable.  They’re also not as thick as Gu’s which I find hard to ingest as a result but not as thin as Huma.   To me the Huma’s texture is just a bit offputting, not bad, just not preferred by me.

For the drink mix, Citrus Punch is hands down my favorite.  The orange is just awful to me.  No offense to Crank Sports or anyone who likes it but it’s just blech.  The Raspberry is not bad, if you like raspberry as a drink.  I don’t but I can say it’s okay.  The Mountain flavor which might be supposed to be kind of like Mountain Dew maybe but it’s… I’m not sure.  I got a sampler pack of the four flavors and the only one I enjoyed is the Citrus Punch.   It’s super tart which I like and citrus punchy.

So now I carry 3 or 4 eGels with me on long Sunday’s and 2 500ml bottles of eFuel and then a bladder of water. I don’t use it all but I’d rather have it and not use it than vice versa.  If it’s more than 2 hours I will also typically swap one of the eGel’s out with a Vanilla or Chocolate Gu or Huma just to have the variety of flavor.   The eGels, again to me, you might have a different experience, are just too similar so having something that’s completely different in flavor is nice to have.

Lately I’ve also been bringing a vacuum sealed pack with some pb filled pretzels from Costco, a individual pack of oreos with 6 oreos in it and some candied ginger.   Me and Bunny share those typically.