Prairie Spirit Trail 100 Preview: A Noob’s Guide to the PST 100

Prologue

I know this course and this race pretty freakin’ well. I have run the 100 mile twice (one with a blizzard DNF at mile 77 the second with a sub-24 hour finish) and the 50 mile once (under 8:45).  So yeah, I am pretty much an expert – or at the very least –  I have more than a few pointers for this race that I think at least somewhat useful.  For this preview, I will be focusing on the 100 miler.

Course

For those who don’t know, this course is Rails to Trails.  This means two things are certain: The course is 1.) FLAT and 2.)SMOOTH.  Great race for those not totally confident in their ability to climb mountains (or anthills) and those who have trouble getting to the refrigerator without tripping and falling.  The most technical part of the ‘trail’ is the road crossing.  I shit you not.  This race is a shufflers dream come true.  It is out and back, so once you hit the turn, there is nowhere to go but home – it’s just really far away.  Although it is a rail trail, there are some differing views as you cover the 50 miles of the course – forests, fields, trestle bridges, towns, lakes, water towers, and of course a Kansas fixture – grain elevators.  It is actually really pretty – no mountain, but pretty in it’s own right.  So that’s the course.  Moving on.

Tip 1:  Run this 100 in quadrants.  They say the best way to eat an elephant is in small bites.  One bite at a time and you will eventually get it done.   Elephant meat might still taste like shit and make you want to puke or give up sometimes, but you will finish eventually.  I feel like the best way to approach this race is in 25(ish) mile chunks.

Chunk 1:  Start(Ottawa) to Garnett
Chunk 2: Garnett to Iola
Chunk 3: Iola to Garnett
Chunk 4: Garnett to Finish Line(Ottawa)

Of course, when shit goes south, fall back on the old, “run aid station to aid station” mantra.  All else fails, just go into survival mode and keep moving and don’t dick around at the aid stations.

Chunk 1:  Start(Ottawa) to Garnett

Start SLOW!!! This course is hella easy, especially at first.  You will want to blaze out of the start and try and keep people from passing you.  DON’T.  If your goal is to simply finish the your overall average pace needs to be 18 minutes per mile – so running 8s at the beginning is just dumb to do because “you’re feeling amazing!”  No shit, it’s the first part of a 100, you are supposed to be feeling good.  Fight the urge to sprint, be disciplined, it will pay massive dividends later.  For those of you looking to sub 24, I would suggest aiming for right at 5:20-5:30 goal for the first 25 miles.  That puts you right around a 13 min/mi pace.  Other tips for this first section – make sure and eat and drink at Princeton and Richmond.  I know you don’t feel like you need it, but if you don’t it will catch up to you later when it warms up.  Next – do not screw around at the train station in Garnett – yeah its cool, but you are racing, not sightseeing.  Do you business and get your ass back on the trail.  Finally, the gravel and dust can be hell on your feet, so consider dumping rocks out of your shoes and even changing socks and shoes as needed.

Chunk 2: Garnett to Iola

This is probably where you may start feeling the miles add up.  Honestly, it is one of my least favorite chunks of the race.  From Garnett to Welda is roughly 8.5 miles.  I always, and I mean ALWAYS, hit a low spot somewhere between 20 and 30 miles, so it is usually in this stretch.  There are more open spaces where the wind can suck, or the sun can fry you – so try and stay cool, hydrated, and don’t forget the sunblock.  Pace-wise, try and maintain roughly the same pace as you did the first 25 mile chunk – and maybe just a tad faster if you are feeling good.  The stretch to get to Colony is another 7.5 miles or so and a lot more of the same.  By this time the relative beauty of the trail will wear off and it will just get boring.  I would suggest running with someone of similar pace (but do NOT press or slow way down just to stay with someone).  Again – if you are gunning for a sub24 – if you can get to the turn at Iola from Garnett in that 5:20-5:30 range it puts you around 10:40 or 11 cumulatively.  This means after a quick stop to gear up for the second half, you have 13 hours for the return trip.  Assuming you have not murdered yourself to get to the turnaround, you will have a good shot at your 24, you will just need to manage a 16ish pace for the 48 miles back to the finish line.  Remember – this course is front loaded with a couple in-town miles (or at least was the first 3 years), so this mileage is ballpark.

Chunk 3: Iola to Garnett

First and most important tip here is get your ass out of the aid station and back on the trail!  Don’t think about how far you have gone and that you now have to do it again.  Don’t think about how much it is going to hurt.  Do what you need to do and move your ass on back to Ottawa.  A checklist of ‘to do’s’ is wise here- don’t want to go without a pre-planned change of shoes or your headlamp if you are going to need it.  When you take care of the necessities, get back on the trail and finish the job.  I always tell myself after turning around that now every step is one step closer the the finish line.   Now you know the course, so it is just a matter of pace management and continuing to fuel the machine.  Eating and drinking becomes critical at this point – even though you might be sick of eating and drinking – force it on yourself so you don’t blow up in the home stretch.  You now have 6 hours to get back to Garnett and leave 7 for the final chunk (which is actually less than 23 miles).  Just keep moving, and since you have been conservative through the first half, you will likely see it start to pay off and get there even ahead of schedule.  Make sure and eat and drink at Colony and Welda, utilize your crew if you have one, and lean on your pacers as needed.  It’s about to get tough – so you have to as well.

Chunk 4: Garnett to Finish Line(Ottawa)

Here is where they separate the 100k’ers from the 100 milers.  Mile 75(ish) to 100 is the hardest part of this (and I think all) 100 milers.  You have come so far, but still have so far to go.  At this point you will need to think aid station to aid station.  It is 9 long ass miles from Garnett to Richmond, so I would mentally run this section in 2 parts.  Have your pacer help you break it up and put a planned 3-5 minute rest about 5 miles in.  It will give you something to shoot for before getting to Richmond.  This section is the hardest for many people.  It is long and dark as hell.  You really start to feel like you will never get to that damn town.  After that, I felt like I started to smell the finish line, and the 6.5 miles to Princeton didn’t seem nearly as bad.  You will probably be walking off and on quite a bit now, but try to keep both your walking and running pace up.  You have plenty of time – 7 hours for 23 miles works out to about 18:15 miles, so just keep moving, alternating walking and shuffling.  Don’t stop unless you have to – and then, do it for only very, very short periods.  Once you get through Princeton, you might find some new life knowing that you only have 7 miles to go – or you might not!  I know at this point was so done, and “I just want to be done.”  My pacer heard that at least 100 times.  I finally got some new life when we got into the edge of town, and we cranked out the last couple miles getting to the finish.  For this last section I say this:  Relentless Forward Progress is the key.  Just keep moving.  You WILL get there if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Lean on your pacer.  Let them be the brains of the operation – and dammit, do what the hell they say!  If you have managed your race well, you should have been able to hold the 16-17 min/mile pace needed to get your “100 in a day”.  If your goal was to just get that under 30 buckle, these same tips apply, just with a slower pace. You can walk, shuffle, jog this course in under 30 hours if you JUST KEEP PRESSING FORWARD.

Epilogue

Nothing about a 100 mile race is short – including a race preview blog.  This was not comprehensive or precise to the minute or half mile, but it does have some great info that you can take and build your own plan.  Good luck – and I hope to see you out there!

 

 

Trail Nerds – “Winter Wyco” Run Toto Run 50K Race Report

A good ultra allows you the opportunity to have fun.  A great ultra supplies a challenge that tests the limits of your abilities.  An outstanding ultra places you head to head against yourself, other PsychoWyco-2016-2064racers, the trail, the elements, and you physical and mental limits – while being supported by a hoard of experienced, enthusiastic volunteers and top-notch race director.  By this standard, the Run Toto Run aka “Winter Wyco” 50K was OUTSTANDING.

The course is by far one of the most demanding in the state of Kansas.  Nearly all single track, it is not the rolling wheat fields that come to mind when the word “Kansas” is uttered.  It is not a mountain course, but it does provide lots of small chunks of technical running, steep (but brief) climbs, sharp winding switchbacks, muddy bridle (horse) trails, and even a nice climb up the grassy Wyandotte County Lake dam.  Most of the course is very runnable and gives you the opportunity to put your speed to the test – if that is your wish.  My training leading up had focused on quality over quantity, speed over distance, and thriving over surviving.  I planned on putting myself to the test, setting a very lofty goal of 5:15 on a trail where my previous best 50K time was 6:45 (albeit very hungover on a 95 degree day).

Usually the weather plays a major factor in this race as it is held in the middle of February in Kansas City.  Those of you familiar with this region know it is usually -70, windy, and miserable  this time of the year.  Not this year!  Goosebumped and shivering, I started in my favorite pair of shorty shorts and short sleeve Nike Dry Fit shirt and my Orange Mud HydraQuiver 2.  While I was uncomfortable at first, I was banking on the 70 degree forecast as well as a bit of additional motivation to move my ass a bit faster to stay warm.  Mission accomplished.  In the first 2 miles of the conga line, I passed at least 60 people and managed to warm my fingers enough to restore blood flow.

Action Shot at the Triangle - Mile 90 Photography
Action Shot at the Triangle – Mile 90 Photography

I had a great first loop, enjoying the relatively mud-less trail and the mild temperatures.  I didn’t utilize the aid stations much since I was wearing a pack filled with my own pre-packed food and 2 bottles – but I did enjoy their encouragement as I passed thru.  The finish line was like a freaking party – with music and beers flowing enthusiastically before 10am. Out-freaking-standing! I had a lap time of about 1:36 – way ahead of my goal average of 1:45 over 3 laps to hit 5:15.

The second loop went great for the most part.  I knew that I had gone out really fast trying to get around the conga line, so I dialed it back and focused on eating and drinking for the push in the final loop and hitting much closer to my 1:45 per lap goal.  The traffic was much thinner this time around and it was comfortably warmer for this trip around the lake.  Pretty uneventful lap and I nailed my goal – hitting the aid station with a lap time of 1:46.  I now had 10 minutes “in the bank”, basically allowing me a full minute per mile slower than goal pace for the final lap and I would hit my target!  Who knows, the shit stayed out of the fan, I might even go 5:05 or better!

Coming out of the aid station and up the hill to the bridle trail, I could tell that the distance was starting to take its toll on me.  I almost ALWAYS hit a low spot about 20 miles into any race, and this was no different.  I battled to keep my pace on target, but my heartrate was telling the tale.  Early in the loop, I knew I couldn’t keep it up for the full 9 remaining miles, so I backed off a little,  scarfed down a few hundred calories and chugged some water.  It was starting to get warm (hot for February) and I suspected I had gotten behind on both food and water.  About the time I hit the big dam hill – mile 25 or so – I was feeling awesome again and put the hammer down.  I ran up the hill to the dam aid station, blew through, and blasted up both of the following hills on the lake road before turning back to the singletrack that winds around behind the dam.  This is where the proverbial “shit” happened.

Literally blasting down the technical singletrack switchbacks, I was fully focused on my footfalls and trying not to donate teeth and flesh to the Wyco Trail Gods.  Pantera had stormed my earbuds full blast and my heart was pumping massive volumes of oxygenated blood.  I was in the zone!  I was in the zone so freaking hard!  So hard I missed the sign. OHHHHHHHH FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDGE! Only, PsychoWyco-2016-4494-XLjust like Ralphie, I didn’t say fudge.  I end up dead-ending at a paved road with no flags to be seen.  Overwhelmed by the adrenaline infused blood thudding my veins I had ended up off trail somehow.  I spent the next 10-15 minutes backtracking, taking more wrong turns, until finally finding the spot I had veered from the correct course.  I spent the next ten minutes or so totally pissed off at myself and pouting like a damn baby.  I was totally on target to nail 5:15 – maybe even better.  Just like the viral news video of the fire victim, my tune changed to “NOT TODAY!!!”.

Getting lost really got in my head and since my time goal was out the window, I adjusted it.  I just wasn’t going to get passed before the end.  I managed to easily stay ahead of anyone seeking to steal a position from me, and after a 2:15 loop, I got across the finish in about 5:35ish, 23rd place overall – still a great time and course PR for me.

Candi, Eric, Alicia and I all stuck around and enjoyed the finish line festivities while waiting to cheer Ryan into the finish.  Ryan finished the 50K with plenty of time to spare even though he felt as bad as he ever had during an ultra.  Candi fought some nausea and still posted a sub 5:45 while Eric completed his first ultra as a 50 year old – under 6:30 – with no hill training!  All in all it was a great day and an IMG_0900outstanding event put on by RD Bad Ben Holmes and the Trail Nerds.  A sweet zipper hoodie, finishers trucker hat, and vanity sticker for the car were all an added bonus to the sweet medal which actually features a spinning tornado!  And don’t forget the amazing photos provided for no additional fee to runners – taken by the best in the business – Mile 90 Photography.  If you have not experienced one of the best trails that Kansas has to offer, I suggest you get this one, or one of the other great Trail Nerds races on Wyandotte County Lake, on your schedule immediately.

 

#22Kill Challenge – 22 Miles, 44 Pounds, 6 Hours

I am not a combat veteran and do not have to cope with PTSD or thoughts of suicide.  I served during a peaceful time and was off active duty completely out of the Army when the shit really hit the fan in 2003.  But I have plenty of old battle buddies who did have to serve multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and are now dealing with the aftershocks.  They are the reason I am doing this.

I got challenged by Darin Brunin on FaceBook for the 22 days of 22 pushups for the #22kill movement.  Here’s the idea…

‪#‎22kill‬ doing ‪#‎22PushUps‬. I am pushing in an attempt to raise awareness to the fact that 22 AMERICAN VETERANS will commit suicide today!
Losing 22 of our vets a day is unacceptable. Politics aside we need to reach out and help, especially if our government is not supplying the support that these men and women need and deserve.
Please spread the word that veteran suicide is not the answer!
The organizations at the links below are raising the bar in creating a culture that OUR Veterans know their sacrifice was not in vain. To participate visit
www.22kill.com
Share this noble cause
http://www.honorcouragecommitment.org
This organization promotes Veteran Entrepreneurship. Help spread the word.

IMG_0918So here you go Darin.  Well, unfortunately I hate push-ups.  I also am not disciplined enough to post a video every day like the challenge required.  But I did come up with what I feel like is a suitable replacement.  At this Saturday’s Angry Bull 6hr Endurance Run,  I will load up an old-school Army rucksack with 44 pounds and run 22 miles (well try at least) in the 6 hour event.  I will make a video at the end and I will also make a $100 donation to  http://www.honorcouragecommitment.org and challenge you to donate as well.  Select from one of these vetted charities and give what you can.  You could save a life.  At a minimum, help me out by sharing this and helping bringing some further awareness to PTSD and veteran suicide.

Run Toto Run “Winter Wyco” Race Preview

Ever wondered what the Run Toto Run “Winter Wyco” Trail run is all about?  Here is my take on a great race put on by the KC Trail Nerds!

Wyandotte County Lake Park
Kansas City, KS

12th Annual
The 50K, 10-Mile and 20-Mile courses are a loop course on rocky, rooty, and hilly bridle trails & single-track trails.
Time limit: 9 hours for 50K & 20M; 8 hours for 10M.
Start Times: 8:00 AM for 50K and 20-mile, 9:00 a.m. for 10-miler.

2016 White Rock Classic 50K Race Report

IMG_0815
Hazy Mountain View

On a briskly cool, yet not terribly uncomfortable February morning, about a hundred runners met up at the base of White Rock Mountain near the Turner Bend Store near Mulberry Arkansas to put their running (and mountain climbing) abilities to the test.  This fatass style (yet extremely well supported) 50K race is a part of the AURA Ultra Trail Series.  The Arkansas Ultra Runners Association (AURA) puts on the Arkansas Traveller 100, Ouachita 50 mile, and other great events in the state.  They have been doing this since 1989 – and definitely know what the hell they are doing.  As far as I could tell the only difference between this and a full-on “race” is no entry fee, official timing, shirt or medal.  All of which I am more than happy to live without.  It does have all the spirit and soul of a great, low-key ultra – which is definitely infinitely more important to me than the medal or shirt.  So, yeah, I love it.

IMG_0812This is my second consecutive year running the White Rock Classic.  Last year, coming off my best EVER winter training blocks, I knocked off my fastest 50K time – just under 5:30 – and it took literally everything I had.  While the terrain on a forest road course suits a faster runner, the 5000 feet of steep mountain climbing, and fast descents definitely add the challenge to the course.  Coming off a very solid 6 weeks of training, I was hoping to get close to last years time.  I had been eating very clean, lost some weight, and added a lot of high intensity cardio and strength training in with my normal training plan.  I felt like I had a good shot at having a solid day.

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Zach, Candi, Johnny and Ryan

With a 9am start time we decided on just getting up early to drive in for the start.  Despite starting 10 minutes behind our planned schedule, we picked up Ryan and Johnny on the way and made it easily with about 30 minutes to spare -plenty of time to get final race prep done.  Lisa Gunnoe gave the pre-race instructions and a few resounding gong strikes signaled the start of the race.  Yes, a guy called “Bear”  rang an actual gong.  The start of the race is basically 3 miles up the base of the mountain.  Candi and I planned to stay together at least the first few to enjoy each others company and warm up nice and easily.  I have a bad habit of taking out too fast and paying for it later.  I kept telling myself that it would pay dividends later in the race and I could pass some fools who had taken off (like I usually do) as if they had been blasted out of a shotgun.  We reached the top of that first big climb and Candi and I were separated as I blasted off down the hill.  I felt warm and loose and let it rip.  For the rest of the way up to the White Rock Mountain overlook area that served as the turnaround, I just kept a nice rhythmic pace climbing and blasted the downs – keeping my legs moving fast trying to avoid pounding my quads.  A majority of the climbing is in the first half of the out-and-back and I didn’t want to burn all my downhill mojo in the first half.  Ultimately, I passed several people on my way to the top of the mountain, never getting passed myself.  I was just shy of my halfway goal of 2:30, signing in at 2:33.

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Candace takes the lead!

Lo and behold, my gorgeous wife had been right behind me most of the way – keeping me in her sights almost the entire trip up the mountain.  Turns out we pass face to face about 500 yards after the turn!  She said she was feeling great and running great – and I remind her that she is first female and is to, under no circumstances, let ANY of the ladies pass her!  The final push to the top of White Rock is super steep and in and out-and-back course, what goes up must come down.  The threeish mile descent after turning around is steep and fast!  Candi actually caught me by the bottom and was flat FLYING! My hips felt pretty trashed at this point (mile 18-19) so I took a few “vitamin I” and she pulled away.  I wished her well, pretty sure I would NOT be seeing her again until the finish line.

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Female CHAMPION~

As usually happens in ultras, I experienced several ups and downs.  About mile 22 I was having a pretty solid “down” and was really getting my ass kicked by another steep descent.  Regardless of the craptastic place I was in my life at this moment – I refused to walk and just let gravity hammer me to the bottom.  I told myself I would eat a lot at the aid station at the bottom and drink some ginger ale.  I did exactly that, and it soaked in like a potion of healing as I climbed my way out of the aid station.  At this point the food, pop, ibuprofen all kicked in at the same time and I never slowed down again.  I caught up with the 25 year old physical specimen Johnny at about mile 26 and finally my wife with about 3 miles to go the finish.  We run together for half a mile or so, but I pull away on the last sets of hills – feeling like a beast unleashed and bearing down on its prey.  I IMG_0834passed 4 people in the last 5 miles or so and was smelling the finish line.  Doing math during a race is not my strong point, but I figured it might just be possible to sub-5 hour this race if I could really put the hammer down.  I gave it absolutely EVERYTHING I HAD the last three miles running splits of 7:30, 6:53, and 7:01 – unfortunately it was just not quite enough.  I finished in 5:01:41 in 7th place overall, less than 1 minute ahead of Candi who took the female win!

The weather, course, and most of all people were totally awesome.  This race brings out some serious speedsters and I was totally honored and surprised that I was able to take that much off of my previous time and get into the top ten of this group.  I would encourage anyone who loves the outdoors to come run this race – it truly is a gem.  Thanks to Lisa, PoDog, and the rest of the AURA members and leadership that put this together – it really is one of my favorite events of the year and on my “do every year” list.  Hope to see you all next year!

 

 

 

Gear Review: Orange Mud HydraQuiver 2

Gear is very important once you start regularly running and racing distances 20 miles or more.  Shorter runs you can get by with not much more than a water bottle and maybe a couple snacks in a pocket.  If you are training long miles self-supported and running ultras, chances are you will need something a bit more significant than a belt pouch to carry some essentials including food and water.

Candi and I had been gifted an Orange Mud HydraQuiver 2 from a

Wearing my Orange Mud
Mid Pack and Candi Crusher

friend who had been too large for this particular vest, but having great results with my old pack, the Orange Mud just stayed hanging

on the running rack in the laundry room.  Yesterday, on a planned 20 miler, I decided to give it a test run.  The plan is, if it passed, it would get the nod to start the game at White Rock Classic 50K next weekend.  (I will get back to whether the HydraQuiver 2 made the starting lineup or not in a few paragraphs, so read on.)  Following are my observations from my experience yesterday with the pack.

Fit / Wear

Fit is so important in hydration packs.  All the little pockets and gadgets are great, but if the damn thing does not fit right, it might as well go in the garbage.  The HydraQuiver 2 vest fit nicely with very easy adjustments.  The wearer can adjust from front center, back center, and under both arms.  Personally I don’t like shit sitting under my armpits, so I pull tight at the front and wide in the rear and cinch under the arms.  I also like it to ride higher on my shoulders – I was fairly quickly able to get the pack adjusted pre-run to a very comfy position (while wearing a long sleeve, fairly thick pullover).  So I definitely liked how easy it was to adjust for the first time.  No difficult buckles to fuck around with (and still not get right), just a simple one-way pull ratchet clip that stayed in place and didn’t get looser than a truck stop lot lizard while running.  While running, the fit held nicely and the pack stayed where I wanted it.  My only knock on the fit is that once it warmed up and I took my pullover off, I put the pack back on and it was too loose.  Since I had the front already cinched tight (per my preference) I had to either take it off to tighten the rear or have Candi pull the underarm straps.  No problem if you have a running buddy, but a big pain in the ass if you are solo.  Again, this is partly due to my personal preference in the front, but I would like to be able to reach the underarm straps from the front without removing.   But all-in-all a very comfortable fit and ride once adjusted and it did not give me any chaffing or hotspots.

Form / Function

I will start in the front and move to the back.  The front (chest) of this pack has a large oval pouch on both sides.  These damn things are good size, and are super stretchy with easy to use locking drawstrings at the opening.  In my left pouch I had my iPhone 6 PLUS

Orange Mud HydraQuiver 2
Orange Mud HydraQuiver 2

IN A CASE, a couple cereal bars and fruit strips.  There was still plenty of room, and it felt just fine.  In the other pouch I had a few more bites of food and it actually felt empty – tons of space for trash or little road finds to be tucked away as we ran along.  I shit you not, these little pouches were like Harry Potter “bags of holding”  I love having easy access to fuel, small gear items (like chap stick, wet wipes, body glide, etc.) without breaking my arms and cramping my shoulders grabbing from the back – or God forbid – stopping to take it off to get crap out of the back.  Beware however, one of the pouches has an access hole on the bottom corner, so don’t lose your keys!  I didn’t notice the bottom corner access hole until after I finished, but luckily didn’t lose anything.  Fortunately, inside each pouch is a small clip, great for securing keys, whistle, or single shot Derringer pistols.  Move up on the shoulder straps and each side has an additional pouch for small items like ibuprofen or S-caps or maybe a few bucks and an ID for you urban runners who have things like convenience stores on your routes.

In the back, there is not much storage (none actually) aside from the water bottle holsters.  You could possibly use the bungee adjustment cord between the holsters to strap down a jacket or something rolled up, but I am not sure that was the intended use.  As far as the bottle quivers, this is what makes this pack unique.  Most packs that use bottles as opposed to bladders (which I HATE) are on the front, all sloshing in your ears and banging into your face, while rubbing your chest raw with the weight.  Having to bottle holders on your back damn near perfectly distributes the weight and makes for no bounce.  I had one empty bottle and one that was full and could not tell any uneven weight distribution at all.  My concern starting was that I wouldn’t be able to reach them well or get them back in the quivers after taking a sip.  Turns out that by simply tugging down a bit on the front straps pulls the bottles up your shoulders and it is no harder to grab a bottle than it is to adjust an earbud.  I did struggle a little bit – at first – to get them back in, but by the end of a single run, the muscle memory was set, and it was just like slipping your trusty pistol back into its concealed carry holster.  Very handy.

The bottles on the back did not bounce and swishing sounds were minimal.  I used my trusty CamelBak insulated 21 oz bottles with the lock tips (best on the market) rather than stock and they fit just fine.  As a matter of fact, they are taller and skinnier than a lot of bottles and they fit just fine.  Actually they might have been easier to grab and stow due to their shape and size.  The point is that it will work fine with just about any bottle I have ever seen.

Conclusion

I really had a great experience with the Orange Mud HydraQuiver 2.  My only two criticisms are that it is somewhat challenging to adjust the fit while wearing, and if you are going really long in high heat, you are maxed out at 2 bottles – with no option for a bladder.  But, for me, in a 50 miler or less or any race where the aid stations, water refills are no more than 8-10 miles apart two bottles should be more than sufficient.  I loved the way it rode, fit, and most of all – just how easy it was to get to my food (I LOVE FOOD) while running with no reaching or stretching to get stuff out of the back.  When I hit the starting line next Saturday at the AURA White Rock Classic 50K, I will most definitely be wearing my Orange Mud HydraQuiver 2!  Check back to read the follow up on how it performs during an actual ultra!  Big thanks to Orange Mud for putting out a quality product!

PS – This review was not solicited by Orange Mud in any way.  It is strictly my opinion on it based off of my personal experience with the pack.  As always, there is no perfect one-size -fits-all in any aspect of ultrarunning.  It truly is a deeply personal experience that is different for every runner!

 

U.T.O.T.D: Soreness vs. Pain

I will start this with a simple clarification between the definitions of soreness and pain:  soreness indicates that you have worked a muscle or group of legpainmuscles while pain may indicate an actual injury.  If I have a pain that is sharp, extremely localized, and gets worse as I go – I watch that very carefully and make sure it isn’t (or does not turn into) an injury.  If I have soreness, I pay attention to it as it lessens as I work it out, hopefully making gains – be it running, lifting, agility.  If you train through an injury, you can hurt yourself and miss training time and as we all know, that SUCKS.  If you train through soreness you will feel less sore and overall stronger when you are done.  Like with most things workout related, this is sometimes a judgement call, as it may not be obvious if the aches and pains you feel are sore muscles or damaged tissue.  Here is where my tip of the day comes in:  Listen to your body at all times.  Not just when you first start your workout or after you are finished.   If you feel sharp pains, back off and rest.  As you feel muscles loosening up, push a little harder.  Take an inventory of how you feel periodically during your workout and adjust accordingly – but BE HONEST.  Don’t be a wuss and slack off because you are sore and then blame the pain of soreness like it is some kind of injury!  No one else cares about your excuses and you can not lie to yourself – so every run, every workout, every lift – give it all you’ve got and go be the best you that you can be!

U.T.O.T.D: Be Flexible!

Mid Pack Zach says, "You're awesome!"
Mid Pack Zach says, “You’re awesome!”

Sometimes, just like Forrest Gump observed after stomping a dog turd, SHIT HAPPENS.  I know that ultrarunners love to use plans.  Training plans, fuel plans, hydration plans…. always a goddamn plan for everything.  The difference between success and failure lies in how well you can manage to sidestep, block or catch the unplanned bullshit that comes flying in your direction.  After all, that’s what running an ultra is all about.

Be flexible!  All week, Candi and I had planned on capping a nice solid training week with a brisk 20 mile run.  Low and behold, my eldest spawn reminds me on Friday that I had committed 6 months ago to assist with a school tourney on Saturday from 7:45 to about noon.  FUUUUUUCCCKKKKK!  Some planner I am… should have added that to the calendar months ago.  Having afternoon plans pretty much nuked our chances for getting our scheduled workout in -AS PLANNED.

Fortunately, we did as we do… we got creative.  Nobody wants to get up at 3:30 am to run on their day off, but somehow 5:30am seemed perfectly acceptable.   We decided to simply split our run into 2 separate 10 milers – one before the tourney, and one immediately after.  Simple.  BE FLEXIBLE.  To add a little bonus, or possibly self-punishment, for my piss poor planning – it was also decided that since we would have to break it up, we would do both at a faster pace.  The result was 2 very solid runs that totaled our goal – faster than goal speed.  Success.

Whether it is a training run getting interrupted because  of a birthday party, a workout cancelled because Globogym was installing new Tug Toners or Shake Weights, or because you drank too many white wine spritzers last night to do speedwork at the track – DON’T PANIC! Missing a single workout isn’t the end of the world and will not cause an automatic DNF at your 50 miler in two months.  Chill the fuck out, be creative, find a new time (or substitute) and BE FLEXIBLE!