Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A New (re)Start

Short Version: I have chosen to stop running Hundos and am going back to running shorter races (<50 miles) until such a time that I want to run Hundos again.

Long Version:
This might make more sense if I give you a brief history lesson.
Fall 2005: I run my first race is roughly two decades, a 21:24 5K. It was a great day, the beginning of what I refer to as the 'Modern Era'.
Sunburst 2006
June 2006: Realizing that as I have gotten older, I prefer slightly longer races, I try my hand (feet?) at the 26.2 mile distance and manage to break 3 hours in my first ever marathon in Indiana. I am flying high emotionally for about a week.

Spring 2008: After two handfuls of marathons, I set a goal of running a marathon in all 50 states before I turn 40 years old (8/18/2012) Which makes me an official 'state chaser. I check off this feat in October, 2010 in Connecticut.

2008: 15 marathons, 1 ultra marathon.

2009: 13 marathons.

2010: Knowing I am close to the 50 states goal, I decide my new goal is to go ultra, but not in small steps, I go straight to crazy land. In April, 2010, I attempt a 24 hour race (my only such race to date) to see if I can even finish a 100 mile race if I attempt one. I manage to run 101 miles in ~20 hours before I stop (I achieved all my goals, so I was done) In July of 2010, I attempt my first 100 mile race and finish 9th in the USATF 100 Mile national championship. I am now in elite company, as a 100 mile finisher.

late 2011/early 2012: Thinking I am invincible I start focusing on 100 mile races and do poorly, with my worst 100 mile time in Jan 2012, a 21:01:51 at the Winter Beast of Burden. Emotional damage done.

2012: I re-evaluate my training, and realize I am not the hot stuff I thought I was and start solving my problems (diet, training, race-day-procedure, etc. ) I get things turned around and get my 100 miles times back down to damn-near competitive.

August 2012: I pull a massive PR (by over an hour) running a 15:27:56 at the Summer Beast of Burden. While it was a great day, I end up in the ER for 30+ hours from dehydration and rabdomyolosis. The mental trauma from that little experience causes concern.

Jan 2013: While DNS'ing a 100 mile race in Florida, I decide to go down and volunteer for the race, where I meet Mike Morton who turns me onto a ketosis diet, which I start in March, 2013.

April 2013: I run the Indiana Trail 100 and at the end, I end up in the back of an ambulance, but after another solid race.

Early summer 2013: I start training for the 2013 100 mile championship but my heart is not in it. Doing 35+ mile days is no longer enjoyable. I have the worst position, that of someone who is >this< short of being slightly competitive in my sport (the 100 mile distance) so I am trying hard, but since I am trying hard, it has stopped being fun. When you hobby becomes more like a job, it stops being an enjoyable pastime. I had hit that point. I am now on the restrictive ketosis diet which is rough mentally, and not helping my running attitude.

June 2013: I run the inaugural GR Well-being 12 hour race, where, after 6 hours I am kicking butt but I have to stop for medical reasons. Turns out, I cannot (with my biology) run long races in hot weather on a ketosis diet as I cannot get enough fluids into me, I just can't. When I drop after 6 hours, sadly, I am not that sad. The previous 2 hours were tough mentally. I was asking myself 'why am I doing this?' more often that was appropriate.

That day I make two watershed decisions: |
1. I am dropping the ketosis diet and going back to a gluten-free paleo-style diet. It is quite healthy and more importantly, it don't mind it.
2. I will not be running the 100 mile national championship this year. My heart is just not it. I am not doing this for a paycheck, and it was not worth the anguish.

Which leads me to now. I knew I needed to do something drastic to get my groove back before I completely give this sport up, which I do not want to happen. I started running because I like eating food and I still do, so I can't stop running, but I can take a moment to enjoy it again, so I have. I want to become more of an ambassador to running, and I found that as a 100 mile running 'freak' I was so far from most other runners, they did not feel like they could relate to me.

I have decided to start over again. A few weeks ago, I ran my first 5K in over 2 years and it was awesome. The euphoria afterwards reminded me of my first marathon back in 2006. In a few days I will run a 10K and  then in the middle of August, I am running a half marathon. And then, back to my precious marathon in the fall. I am planning on running 3-4 of them (and RD'ing a local FA marathon) before the end of the year.

While I am re-starting, I have a few advantages going for me....
- I am running only 50-60 miles/week now and it feels great to be running that little.
- I am in shape, have some endurance, and a lot of experience in racing.
- I have a meager following on this blog and facebook to try to inspire other runners.
- I have no long term goals that are acting as anchors around my neck.
- I have no toenails so I do not have to worry about losing them in marathons.

The last few weeks running in the new 'mentality' has made a huge difference. Instead of running 12-15 miles slow and feeling blah, I am doing 8-10 miles at a good clip, and afterwards I feel great, as if I actually did some positive work. I feel like I did way back when. I like that feeling, and I want it to stay...

Elite marathoners take weeks off with no running after major races. I have not taken a break from running since I started again in 2005. The longest I have gone without running is 3 days in the span of 8 years, and only that is after 100 mile races. Maybe I just needed to take a break, and I sincerely hope this will get be back to where I want to be.


  1. Good read and insight. I hope you find that reset you're looking for. When running becomes more fun then winning, you'll find that spark again. And with that you'll find a good balance, and pace, for every distance.

  2. I love how 50-60 miles is a break for you. That's my ultra training right there. :-) Of course you are faster. You should get on a bike too, it makes injury more enjoyable and is a good way to get endorphins in without the damage of a heavy running mileage.

  3. Fascinating read. Sadly I won't be able to reference you as "This guy runs longer than you can imagine and does it all on keto!", but still, its good that you're so aware of yourself and what you need to do for yourself. The whole thing is admirable.

    BTW, I ran my first half-marathon today, and reading your amazing running stories helped inspire me to get to this distance. It isn't much in the big picture, but for me, it was pretty huge.

  4. That's great news, Adam! I wish you the best of luck on your impending 1/2! The keto diet was done because I was starting to try to be REALLY good at the ultra distance, so I started trying harder, which made it less fun. It was the thing that made me realize what I was doing wrong, so I am glad I tried it. It was not in vain :)

  5. Reading your blogs over and over have inspired me a lot. While I am new to ultra running and super slow, I feel more confident in my abilities. Your post are relatable and with all you have accomplished you dont come off as a douche like so many other ultra runners. Keep inspiring

  6. Just trying to give back, Kim. :)