Evolve

Into The Unkown / Arrowhead 135 Extreme Endurance Ultramarathon

Sometimes, head down, into the unknown, is the only way to go.

Changing course can be a stressful event. Exchanging comfort and control for the unknown is often too much for one to handle. From personal experience, I can attest to this. Recognizing, though, that time moves quickly, and making transitions requires taking action, I’ve become more open to evolving. Opinions, priorities, habits, people all must at some point be questioned. The desire to be yourself must be greater than the need to be liked or to fit in.

Have I become stagnant? Am I moving forward? Is my mobility upward?

Honesty, with yourself, is essential. Self-assessments can be harsh. You must remember that it is easy to judge yourself harshly. Comparisons (to others, and society) are easy to make, yet often disregarded is the fact that your (my) goals and direction may be different from the common human. Moving through life, living true to yourself, accepting the discomfort of alienation (self or group imposed) requires maturity and confidence. Thus continuing to evolve, your positions should be questioned and challenged.

It’s up to you. If you are happy with your current trajectory, by all means, continue onward. For those of you that are still curious, don’t fret, you are not alone. Take comfort in that. Understand that your self-confidence is paramount to living an authentic life. Evolve from within. Learn new skills. Disengage from that which may be holding you back. We all know what those things are in our lives. Evolving requires honesty.

Do not be afraid to use the knife on the reins of your existence. Freedom is always one swift slash away.

Intervals

Intervals

I just finished reading an article in the New York Times about HIIT, or, high intensity interval training. The title of the article, “How to Get Fit in a Few Minutes a Week” caught my eye, as titles like that usually do. The article does a good job of using science and study to give evidence based recommendations to the reader without too much complication in application. The concern is benefit and improvement in aerobic endurance capacity.

The “hacking” of fitness and health is extremely popular. The common theme is that we don’t have time to workout anymore. One hour of physical activity is just too daunting of an endeavor for the common human. The reasons why this is so are far too many to discuss here, so in interest of sticking to the topic I’ll move on to the nuts and bolts of interval training.

The body adapts very quickly to the stress we place upon it. If we do the same thing, at the same intensity day after day, week after week, our improvement stops, and as is often the case, overtraining and a loss of fitness can take place. Not good. Doing intervals is an effect way to layer differing intensities on top of a solid base aerobic fitness foundation.

  • What I mean here is that after running 50 minutes, 6 days per week at a moderate intensity, for 8-12 weeks it would be wise to substitute a couple higher intensity interval workouts into your week. You’ve got a base, now we can work on getting faster, building speed and power, 30 seconds of very hard effort followed by 60-90 seconds of recovery jogging, for as many as 10 repetitions.
  • Or, speaking in terms of strength training, instead of doing 4 sets of 15 kettle bell swings or burpees, resting between sets you would do 8 sets of 20 seconds of exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This varied demand takes us out of a certain comfort with the exercise and training, forcing us to adapt and become more efficient in the movement.

These are just two examples of application. Implementation of interval training is not a daily occurrence. Recovery is essential to improvement and sustained fitness gains. A good standard to follow is 48 hours between these workouts. Here, we are not talking about complete rest. It is always advisable to perform a lower intensity, endurance based or corrective exercise on these recovery days. Looking at our week of training, usually 6 days, we can space these sessions on days 1/3/5 with our targeted aerobic/endurance or corrective/recovery workouts on days 2/4/6.

Creating a flow in our training is essential. When thinking of efficiency don’t focus on cramming the workout into 8-12 minutes of pure sprint/recover training. Instead focus on optimization of those 30-60 minutes you are working on your fitness. In the gym take 3 full body exercises: burpees, kettle bell swings, and ball slams. Use an 8 x (:20/:10) or 4 x (:30/:30) format for each exercise, resting 3-5 minutes between them. Simple and effect application for 4-6 weeks, followed by assessment of progress toward your goals is the standard assignment.

Remember. Know your desired outcome (point B). Whether you are trying to get fit from a long period of inactivity, diligently training for a competition, or fixing a problem or weakness in your fitness (mental, physical), you need to keep an accurate assessment of your training.

As Dr. Phil Maffetone (endurance athlete coach)  says: Work + Rest = Training

 

 

Heartland 100 Race Report

Flint Hills, Cassoday, KS.

Warning: this will be pretty graphic.

  • Thursday, October 11, 2012.

My wife Jody and I arrived in El Dorado, KS at 6:15 PM. We got checked in and picked up some supplies from the local Walmart. It felt good to arrive and we were both relieved to be at our destination (base). We had a spinach salad for dinner and some greek yogurt for dessert.

  • Friday, October 12, 2012.

Man, I’m hungry. I awoke early and went down to sample the breakfast offerings, which seemed to be pretty good. Headed back to the room as Jody was waking up and we went down for breakfast together. I ate some more and then did my customary 2 mile day before race run. The weather was getting noticeably worse, rain was coming and wind was howling. We cleaned up and relaxed for a bit before going to lunch at a nice little place called Jacob’s Well. We both had soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. It was excellent. We made one more trip to the store before heading back to the hotel to await the arrival of my Dad and Grandparents. I made a small spinach salad for myself at this point and kept hydrating as is customary. We relaxed a bit more before heading to Cassoday for the pre-race briefing. The weather was now pretty miserable, thunder crashing and rain pouring down. The weather was the main topic of the meeting as there was a lot of concern for being safe and cautious during the race. We left feeling excited and a bit nervous about the pending adventure. Arriving back in El Dorado we picked up the family and went to get dinner at a place called the “chop house”. It looked nice on the website, but they had recently changed there menu to be more of a truck stop, cheap food establishment. I was hungry and ate what I ordered. “Rocky Mountain Trout”. It was pretty rubbery but went down OK. Headed back to the hotel we fueled up and I began to organize all of the gear for the next day. It was difficult winding down but finally turned the lights off at 10:30 with the alarm set for 3:30 AM.

  • Saturday, October 13, 2012. Race Day.

Awoke early and showered. Consumed my smoothie, but noticed it was hard to get down. I was not hungry… hmm. Drank some coffee to get things moving and we were on the road by 5:05 or so, arriving in Cassoday at 5:30. I got checked in and waited around in the gusting winds for the race to start. The nerves were setting in, but so was the excitement to run.

We were finally released at 6:00 AM sharp. I eased to the front with another runner and settled into a 7:55 pace. It felt good, but my guts were not settled. I’ve had this feeling before and it usually is not a good omen. We cruised along for a mile or so before being passed by a runner holding 7:30 pace, steady. I let him go and let the other runner (Jerad Fetterolf) run about 50 meters ahead of me. Cruising into the aid station at mile 8.2 I was out quick with a fill of water and a couple of gels. This next section was to be the most challenging as it was very muddy, the rain was now coming steady, and fairly hilly. Up and down we ran into the coming daylight. At about mile 10.5 I had to stop relieve myself, luckily I had a bit of toilet paper and used that as I ducked into a tree just off the road. Unfortunately, it was not satisfying.

I resumed running and stayed on pace, consuming a gel every 25 minutes and hydrating. I cruised into the Lapland aid station at around mile 17 in third place, 2:17 or so was my time. This is a crew access station so I saw the family. Dropped my headlamp, grabbed another gel and filled my water bottles. I was out and off for Teterville mile 25. about 1.5 miles outside of the aid I had to stop again to relieve myself. Not good. My guts were churning. I took some time here, but it was pouring rain and the wind was crashing into my right side. Running on I consumed gels regularly, like I had practiced, but noticed that my stomach was not happy with the sugar. Nausea was setting in. I was still running well but knew my calorie into and hydration may be suffering from the gut issues. I rolled into Teterville in 3rd place still, around 3:35. I cleared some rocks from my shoes and removed my compression sleeves. The rain was really coming now. I grabbed a payday bar hoping it would go down easy and provide some fuel.

Heading out of Teterville I hoped to keep my pace at around 8:20 to 8:30. Again, the weather got crazy. Wind, rain, thunder lightening… crazy! It was intense. I was slowed again by my body weakening. Flu like symptoms. I pushed forward. I caught my mind thinking of the miserableness my body was putting it through and feeling sorry for myself. I stayed in this train of thought for the next hour or so. I ate the payday bar and kept shuffling forward. It didn’t sit. It came up. Shit. Ok, just keep going. Need to get to Ridgeline aid station. There was an aid station at mile 31 or so that I stopped into after getting passed by another runner who looked strong. I drank some coke and grabbed some water. Jogging along I just kept moving. I felt weak all over. Depleted and had no appetite, the typical flu-like symptom.

About a mile down the road another runner caught up to me, Scott Hill, last years winner from Wichita. Really nice guy. He chatted me up and my pace quickened while I ran with him. After about 3 miles we were gaining on the runner in 3rd when I ate another gel. Soon, I had to stop and relieve myself again. Things were now getting painful. I pushed ahead. Entered Ridgeline, mile 36.5 or so. Stopped for a bit. Consumed some Gen Ucan. Trotted out of the aid station not feeling confident at all. Preparing my mind to be out there for 20 plus hours. My pace slowed to 9:30-9:50 per mile. I had to stop again because of my guts. Raw. 6 miles later I entered matfield green aid in 4th place (the lead runner, 2010 winner, had dropped at Ridgeline). I took my time. Took another Gen Ucan. Grabbed some orange slices, a cheese sandwich, and some ibuprofen.

Leaving matfield green I was now in 5th place. I stopped about a mile out of the aid to clear rocks from my shoes again. I shuffled along, finishing eating my orange slices. The rain and wind were kicking. Battering into my right side again. Eventually, I ran the hills pretty well, things were turning around. I felt strong… the first time all day my body was coming along. Great. I held a steady 9:45 on the hills into the wind and passed the 4th place runner who was now walking. I cruised this 7.5 mile section pretty solidly. Hitting the halfway point in 8:10 or so. Not bad for the hell my guts had put me through. Coming back it was steady headwinds and more rain. Everything was soaked. My feet were surely looking like hell, but nothing could be done about that. I stayed warm and protected in my Light Flyer Jacket from Patagonia. Great piece of gear. Gortex. It was during this section that I caught a glimpse of the runner in 3rd, Scott Hill, and his pacer. About 1 mile before the aid I passed them feeling strong. Entering matfield I was confident and grabbed another cheese sandwich, and some EFS gel mixed with water. Leaving the aid, climbing the small hills to ridgeline I started to feel weak again. Depleted may be a better word. Looking ahead though I saw the 2nd place runner with his pacer, walking the hills. A couple miles later I passed them and began more push to Ridgeline. Climbing the final hill there I was dealing with some strong foot pain as the water logged footwear had caused some irritation. The rain had mostly let up now so we were mostly dealing with the crazy gusts of wind. I stopped at the aid. Changed footwear, socks, grabbed my handheld bottle, had a Gen Ucan, grabbed some orange slices. Taking my time here I was passed by two runners, leaving in 4th place.

I shuffled along and did the best I could to maintain a steady pace. Not having a pacer was interesting. You are literally in your own head the entire time. It was at this point that I knew I wouldn’t feel great the rest of the race. Leaving with the headlamp assured me of having to deal with the pending night fall.

I soon passed the 3rd place runner. He was done racing. Now settled to walking. His pace in the first 50 was way to fast and his apparel was way to minimal for the weather conditions. I’m sure he felt like hell.

I grabbed a PB and J sandwich at the aid station with 31 miles to go and ate it. Soon I had what was to be my final gut pit stop. It was laughable now. Running this race on an average of 100 calories per hour was just plain silly. I kept drinking water and taking my S-caps. A few miles later I entered Teterville, mile 75 just as the sun was setting and darkness rolled in quickly. I drank some coke, which sat well thankfully, and left with a PB gu gel. Next aid was Lapland 8.2 miles away. I rolled out and found a decent pace. The coke was sitting nicely. 45 minutes later I was still moving well when I turned a corner and ran smack into the headwind. Daunting. This literally forced me to 11:45 pace, tops. Fighting forward. I stopped at the unmanned aid station and filled my water. Grabbing a fig newton, I pushed forward. I now was focusing on hydration just pounding water and salt, knowing my calories were pathetically low and having zero tolerance for food or sugar.

A few miles later I climbed the hill to Lapland aid. It was here I began to see all of the 50 mile racers, which was nice to have some interaction with others in the night on the trail. Arriving at Lapland I had no appetite. Filled my bottles, and searched for something to eat. It was great seeing my family at these aid stations. They were always positive and excited to update me on who well I was doing compared to the others. My dad informed me that 2nd place was only about 10 minutes up on me. I drank some coke, two cups, and ate a half banana or so. Jogging away I was ready to finish. 17 miles to go. About 1/2 mile out of the aid it hit me, nausea, all the coke and banana came up. There goes that I thought… I jogged on and found my stride, drank water, took salt and kept moving. 4 miles later I came to another unmanned aid and filled my water, took 2 cookies, ate them. Moved on. I was now turning into a zombie in the night. Run/walk was the technique now. I would run all downhills and mellow grades, but walked the steep portions in the night. Rolling up and down. Finally my watch said 92.8. I was at Battlecreek aid. The final manned aid station. As I entered I saw Scott Hill sitting on a chair eating soup I think. I grabbed some mountain dew, filled my handheld with ice and water and was out. Second place was mine, but I still had to finish. I ran the next 3 miles well. Pushing about 9:50 pace steady. Then I ran out of gas. It was flat, but I had to run/walk. I’d run a minute, walk 30 seconds. Drinking water constantly, I pushed onward. With about a mile left I saw the finish in the distance. I stopped and organized my pack a bit and looked up at the stars. It was a clear night. Full of stars and distant lightening storms blitzed the sky. Pretty amazing. I turned off the gravel road and onto the pavement, jogging to the finish. Closer and closer I came and saw my family there, full of energy and happiness. It was great. I crossed in 18:13 in second place. What a day. Epic. My mind had willed this, pushing my depleted body to the finish. I sat down, ate some chili, and began to freeze. We loaded into the Land Cruiser, which had an epic day as well shuffling the family around to meet me at the 8 aid stations. We were all exhausted and crashed upon reaching the hotel.

Never Give Up.

Finish what you start.

The Mind is Primary.

In order to break barriers and improve you have to go through some hell. Knock the door down, bust through the wall, keep pushing. Do not succumb to negative thinking. Use it as fuel. Beat it back.

A lot was learned about myself at the Heartland 100. Satisfaction is a sweet feeling.

Onward.

Gear Used:

  • Footwear: Hoka One One, Bondi B
  • Socks: Drymax
  • Bottoms: Pearl Izumi Ultra 3/4 tights
  • Base Layer: Patagonia Cap 1, SS and LS
  • Jacket: Patagonia Light Flyer
  • Watch: Garmin
  • Pack: Mountain Hardwear Race Vest
  • Salt: Succeed S-Caps
  • Gels: Gu, EFS
  • Generation UCAN corn starch
  • Handhelds: Amphipod

2012: An Honest Assessment

The first ultra-experience, Jemez 50k 2010

The first ultra-experience, Jemez 50k 2010

January 2012 was a turning point.  It was time to all-in, or continuing in that middle-area, of “OK” at lots of things, but “good” at none.  I had just completed a 6-week strength training block in the studio, working up to a 40 pullup max, and 5×315 deadlift.  This was great, but in the end I didn’t feel accomplished.  I was now weighing a solid 165, but was that the goal?  Train in the gym to be better in the gym?  Was I another “crossfit guy”?  Did that motivate me?  The answer to that question was no.  The gym is a modality, a tool to make you better at Sport.  It is not Sport nor can it substitute for it.  Thus, my energy turned toward my real passion… endurance.  Specifically, competitive distance/ultra-running.

Endurance is a strong word.  It says a lot.  When a person has endurance, to me, they are tough, strong willed, dedicated individuals.  See, you can’t fake endurance.  Profound, lasting endurance is earned day in and day out.  An endurance athlete has the ability to recover quickly, relentless pursuing the next goal or event.  Training through fatigue, learning how to actively recover and envision a future of breaking through barriers.

It was at that point, when others had begun their new years “resolutions” that I decided to make 2012 the year I gave endurance my focus.  Being a fairly impatient person, enough time had passed without giving this effort 100%.

Let me summarize happenings thus far.  I’ve competed in 9 events with 2 more coming up soon, from trail and road 10k’s to 50 mile endurance races.  My season will culminate in the Flint Hills of Kansas at the Heartland 100.  I’ve begun the process of building an endurance “base”.  This will take years, but the ball is rolling.  In each event I am a competitor and am racing.  The goal is no longer to finish, but to push my limit, or to out what and where that limit exists.

To say that I’m excited about the process would not do my emotions justice.  I’m thrilled to be in this position athletically.  Having a goal is key.  The mind needs to experience the urgency of competition and deal with the limitations of time.  Each day is a day to improve, take charge, devote energy to, focus on, and make that deposit towards accomplishment. Confidence is gained when you feel satisfied with the sacrifices made the previous day or week.  A bit faster, longer, harder each week.

I have a long road ahead.  Sport specific fitness for ultra-running takes time.  The human body transforms slowly, but nonetheless steadily.

Ask yourself if you are ready to commit… to be all in.  Give it 6-weeks, address the goal, want, or need and devote a portion of each day to it.  It’s like flossing, if you can floss every day you can make progress in the gym.  Don’t have the time or discipline to floss?  Good luck changing your body or accomplishing a goal.  Be honest.  Give it 6-weeks.  Assess where you are at, what was hard, what went well.  Make changes and keep moving forward.

Embrace the suck.  It takes guts to change.

An exciting mention for Mount Werner 50k in the Steamboat paper!

From Steamboat Today, August 5, 2012

Steamboat race on Mount Werner increases distance, looks to stay

Jake Lawrence of Albuquerque, N.M., crosses the finish line during the Mount Werner Classic on Saturday at Steamboat Ski Area. Lawrence finished second in 4 hours, 55 minutes.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs — Jake Lawrence planned out his running schedule for the summer far in advance. The Albuquerque resident knew the Mount Werner Classic — in a new 50-kilometer format — was an option.

And on Wednesday, he finally registered for what would become his golden race.

Lawrence, who drove eight hours Friday, completed the 31 miles Saturday on his 31st birthday.

“That’s the reason we’re here,” said Lawrence, who had to get cleaned up from several falls on the course. “It was totally random and it fit. We wanted to go to a pretty place, and we’re here.”

Lawrence joined some 60 other racers competing in the well-known race with a new format.

After years of being a 5- and 12-mile run, the race changed to 50 kilometers this year. The race began at the gondola, went up the mountain and onto Mountain View trail, then turned around at Long Lake and descended back down.

For his part, Lawrence didn’t just make it an easy birthday celebration. He finished second overall in 4 hours, 55 minutes.

Boulder runner Trent Briney was first in 4:47. Steamboat Springs’ Bill Goldsmith — despite a nasty gash on his arm — was third in 4:57…

To keep reading the article, click here.

 

Upcoming Race: Mount Werner Classic 50k

Upcoming Race: Steamboat Springs: Mount Werner Classic 50k – August 04, 2012