My 2011 Endurance Goals

As another year comes to a close, it’s time for me to reflect on 2010 and look ahead to 2011. I want to set a few key goals to work toward in the coming year—ones that will keep me active and allow me to expand my strength and overall endurance.

2010 in Review

This year was eventful on many levels. I finished several key races with modest improvements in performance—yet no definitive end to my cramping issues. I completed four triathlons and one ultra marathon with a couple of smaller races sprinkled in that mix for good measure. Two of my races were 70.3 (half ironman) triathlons. The other two triathlons were Olympic distance, and, in each of those, I set personal best times. The ultra marathon was a mess for me (read more about it), but I managed to eek out a 50-mile effort. Cramping remained an issue for me this year with the exception of the final 70.3 triathlon of the season. Chaffing was my nemesis during that final race. At least it wasn’t cramping, and Band-Aids solved that issue rather easily.

Pro Tip: Never forget to apply body glide to your nipples before a multi-hour endurance event!

Surfing in KauaiIn October I married an amazing, beautiful woman who supports my athletic endeavors—even the most outlandish ones. While on our honeymoon in Hawaii, I rediscovered my love for surfing. And, I’m returning to school full-time in 2011 to focus on healthcare studies. All of this, I’m hoping, will assist and improve my focus on my athletic training and conditioning.

While remaining injury-free for the 2010 active season, I came up short of making it out of the year unscathed. Just prior to Thanksgiving, I suffered a rather serious neck injury. I herniated a disc between C6 and C7 in my neck, causing some severe pain and spams radiating into my shoulder-blade. This has sidelined me for a few weeks until my physician and physical therapist give me the all clear to resume training. Fortunately, I’m feeling much better right now and anticipate a return to full activity within a couple weeks of writing this.

My 2011 Goals

  • Become a Certified Personal Trainer.
  • Figure out my cramping issue during training to avoid race meltdowns.
  • Run between 50 and 100 miles in a fat ass ultra this Spring.
  • Do a few Olympic and 70.3 distance triathlons (events TBD).
  • Run 100 miles in the BoMF 20in24 in July.
  • Complete a 140.6 triathlon in late Summer or early Fall (event TBD).
  • Improve my surfing quality and quantity on multiple coasts.
  • Log more miles via foot and/or bike for local trips than via cars.

That’s enough to keep me focused and busy for the foreseeable future with the time and effort invested yielding both health and fitness dividends along the way. I’ll be posting here with updates on event decisions, training progress, and any milestones reached. What are your 2011 endurance goals?

20in24 Race Recap

Running across the Falls Bridge, mile 13

It’s been about a week and a half since I participated in the Back on My Feet (20in24) Lone Ranger Ultramarathon on July 17-18, 2010. I suppose that’s enough time to have my psychic wounds heal a bit and allow a somewhat objective look at my performance and the event as a whole. My goal was to run 100 miles within the 24 hour event and to raise money for Back on My Feet (BoMF).

There’s good, bad, and ugly. I’ll cover those, but in a slightly different order.

The Bad

The sun and heat was an enemy to many for the event. While I was cautious to start the run at a snail’s pace and carry electrolyte drink with me, the heat was unfailingly oppressive. The first and second of my 8.4 mile laps around the Schuylkill River Running Loop went well enough, though, and as mid-afternoon (and the hottest part of the day) approached, I went out on my third loop. I knew the running would be slow, so I told my fiancée and other family members that I’d be back around in about two hours—queue the theme song for Gilligan’s Island.

Between mile three and four on my third lap (20 miles in on this day of Hell’s heat), my calves and the muscles on the front of my shins began to cramp simultaneously. I slowed, then I stopped. That was a big mistake, and, as I tried to stretch my legs unsuccessfully, my plans for the day started to unravel. I was standing on some dirt atop the running path, and fortunately a fence was there to provide some support while I tried to stretch the cramps out of my legs. To make matters worse, I was mid-way between aid stations, of which one was a medical station.

The Ugly

My second mistake was attempting to sit on the lower rail of the fencing. The cramping in my left leg kicked into high gear, and my foot curled under in such a painful, weird way that I could no longer put weight on it. I attempted to sit down on the path, only I couldn’t keep my legs bent. At this point, I abandoned pride and put myself in a supine position in the dirt. A few runners passed, all asking if I needed any help. I answered that I had some cramps, but just needed to let them subside then stretch again. HA!

Another Lone Ranger came by, slowed, and asked if I needed help. I said yes. A relay runner assisted in getting me up out of the dirt, and they helped me over to a shady spot under a tree. As they helped me walk through the grass, about 25 yards, I felt dizzy. I thought, “Damn, my race is over.” I was bummed, but lucid enough to know I was nearing some big trouble due to the heat.

At the tree, I felt a little better, especially after throwing up a couple of times! Someone flagged down a cyclist on West River Drive and sent them up the road to get medical help. When the ambulance arrived, I hopped hobbled slowly into the back and onto the stretcher. During the short ride to the medical tent my vitals were normal, and I was able to leave the “bus” under my own power to hang out with the event’s medical staff for a while.

A little over an hour after arriving at the medical tent, my cramping had subsided entirely, my vitals were still well within normal limits, and I was feeling ready to go again. I ate some boiled potatoes, refilled on fluids, and began to walk the remaining four miles around to the starting area where my family was waiting for me. I made it around without incident and checked in at the main medical tent after reassuring my loved ones that I was OK. At my better half’s urging (thank you, honey), I took a long break and had a neuromuscular massage to work through the trigger points in my calves, shins, and also my ITB. I felt much better after the medical attention, rest, and massage, so I decided I would try to put together another three laps, at least, to salvage 50 miles out of the planned 100.

Vitals check after my heat incident

I later saw several other runners needing medical attention and having really rough days, so I wasn’t alone in this situation. The 2009 women’s Lone Range winner was sick from the heat, too, and we were able to talk about it for a bit on my fourth lap (her sixth and final for the event) around. I took comfort (not joy) in knowing that even the toughest out there were feeling the effects of the intense heat and humidity.

The Good

Running at dusk with Boathouse Row in background

The next three laps were cramp-free, and I approached them with mixture of running and walking (at that point I wasn’t on a tight time schedule to complete 12 laps/100 miles). For lap four, I donned my Princeton Tec Remix headlamp (pictured above) and hit the trail with the sun setting over the course. While the running path was lit sporadically by street lamps and strategically placed event lighting systems, many areas are pretty dark. Having a lightweight, powerful light was great for not only navigation and safety, but also camaraderie. A few other Lone Ranger runners without lights stayed with me due to the light and allowed us to talk and keep moving through the humid night.

I took a brief break between laps five and six to stretch, eat a slice of pizza, change clothes, and otherwise freshen up. I left the start line for the last lap of the event just before midnight, when the Midnight Madness race was about to begin. My feet were pretty swollen and painful by then. Fortunately the leg-crushing cramps were held at bay, and I trudged along to finish 50 miles at around 2:15am. At that point, I didn’t feel the need to continue pushing on for more miles after what I had been through during the heat of the day. I just rested until around 6:00am, then started packing up for the ride home to recover and get back to work the next day.

Personal Highlights

  • I helped raise over $1,200 in donations raised for Back on My Feet (over $300,000 total event-wide).
  • Learned more about myself and how limits can be flexed.
  • Completed 50 miles on a brutally hot and humid day.
  • Met and talked with some fantastic runners, volunteers, and BoMF staff members during the event.

Review of Ibex Roaster Wind Briefs

Ibex Roaster Wind Briefs - merino wool
Ibex Roaster Wind Briefs - merino wool

The following product review and associated drivel is made possible by a generous grant of frigid weather from the Great White North.


Baby, it’s cold outside

I went running during one of the coldest , windiest mornings during the East Coast’s recent arctic blast (gee, thanks Canada). Since I’m training for a half Ironman triathlon and don’t particularly enjoy indoor/treadmill running, I decided to bundle up. I’m ok in the cold, and I layer religiously in the winter. This run was no exception. I was sporting poly-pro base layer top and bottom, fleece tights, wool longsleeve top, hat, gloves and windproof jacket. I was set.

Bullshit! The frank and beans disagreed. Wind gusts around 25-35mph made the per-dawn air around my nether regions feel like they were forced to take an ice bath. I pushed on, knowing I wasn’t going to suffer frostbite with the layers and all, but the discomfort made for a short, serious tweet later that morning about needing some windproof undies to protect my junk.

Warmth from the bosom of the Interweb

Keith Anderson (@ibexwool) replied via Twitter, and that nudge was all I needed to make the purchase. Ironically, I had actually looked at those undies earlier in the day, and my one concern was the $40 price tag. What if they didn’t block the wind well, or chaffed me in ways no man should be chaffed?

Based on the quality of the swag Ibex beanie I received at last year’s SXSW Bikehugger Beer and BBQ event, I decided to trust the recommendation and make the purchase. Ordering was easy on Ibex’s site, and my stuff shipped quickly and arrived on-time, just as one expects these days. There were the usual email notices confirming the order, package tracking info, etc. God bless the Interwebs. You know, I could really do well as a shut-in.

Like springtime in the Rockies

I took my first run the morning after the briefs arrived, and I can honestly say my goods and services felt like they were still indoors, within the warm confines of the bed. The temperature was about +15 Fahrenheit with winds blowing around 10mph sustained. Not exactly the coldest, harshest conditions, but nothing to scoff at, either. Not only did I not feel the wind or any cool air under the briefs, but they were really comfortable. It was almost like they weren’t there at all, except for the support that a solid pair of tighty whities gives.

Running in these briefs is like waking up to realize it’s springtime in the Rockies. You just feel great and want to keep moving as a result. And, knowing that these briefs are eco-friendly, sustainably produced, and constructed in the U.S. by what seems to be a great group of individuals gives me an even warmer feeling. I highly recommend the Roaster Wind Briefs to anyone who likes to stay active outdoors in all kinds of foul weather.