Wednesday, July 22, 2015

0SPF - TrailsRoc - Did I mention I hate the heat?

On Saturday July 18th I ran the 0SPF trail half.  This was my 17th race of the year, mind you it would be more impressive if I raced all of those. I started 2015 with the goal of running a half marathon a month for the year, and I will reach that goal. Most of the runs were training runs. Not necessarily a run where I am trying to break a PR.  These were also mostly first time races for me, and in some cases the first time I had done that distance. The nice thing about this, paired with the fact that I didn't do them all that fast, is, should I try to do them again, I have loads of room for improvement. The negative aspect of this is, it has felt like a busy year for me, and as I have seen myself do before, I worry about losing interest in yet another hobby. One I have told people and swore that I planned to continue for a long time. Into my retirement. Not a hobby, but a lifestyle. 
So how did 0SPF go? Horrible - but it was humid as all getout and hot for upstate NY. According to garmin connect it was 73 at the start with 94% humidity. I know during the 1 mile warmup I did before the run, I was sweating like a pig. Out of 132 finishers I was 76th.  I ran the first 3 miles pretty much on pace, the next 4 were a little slower, but manageable. At the 6.7 mile turnaround I was at 1:25. So my goal of finishing in 2:36 was out of the realm of possibilities unless I wanted to run a negative split back, and that wasn't happening. I would have needed to finish in an hour at the turnaround. An hour.  It took me almost 2 hours. Actually an hour and 53 minutes. I can run a road half in an hour and 53 minutes. Miserable. I had no power, I was hot and kept dumping water over my head at the aid stations. I was having some trouble with nutrition also, and this time it wasn't heartrate as I had thought it was in the past. Very few times did my heartrate get over 153, and that's what I consider my anaerobic threshold. I think it was a mix of training and heat. 
Purposefully, my coach Heather has had me pushing myself to get stronger. This is what I asked for. I also told her that the only race I considered an A race this year is Imogene, and all of this training was in preparation for that. I wanted and needed and still need to work on hillwork, speedwork on hills, and  general strength and conditioning. I had my first over 40 mile week back a few weeks ago, and have been feeling good, but fatigued often. It's a fine line between pushing yourself hard enough for growth while at the same time giving yourself the opportunity to recover. 
The week before the SPF I ran 20 miles easy on Saturday, 8 miles easy on Monday, 9.7 miles Wednesday with up and downhill fartleks of 1,2,3,2,1 minute length with 1 minute recoveries, and a 5 mile easy run Friday which I ended up pushing myself a little (which I always do on short runs) and getting in negative splits on the whole run and an average pace of 8:37. 
I could have come into SPF a little fatigued, but it's only a half, how bad can it be. 
I started at the mid back of the pack, where I like to be and I should be. In the first 0.3 miles you climb 100 feet and then flatten out and run down hill for a bit. At 1.5 miles you start climbing again, and over the next 12 miles you climb up and over around 14 hills of at least 70 feet in elevation. None of them are really huge, they're just repetitive. After the turnaround I did what is known as the Death March.  Head down, looking at the ground, putting one foot in front of the other. I was averaging over 15 minute miles, every mile. Ugh.  
My stomach wasn't doing great either. I wished I had brought some Sport Beans, but I didn't. Heck, I was planning on finishing in 2.5 hours, how much food do you need for that?  Not much really. At one point I tried to force myself to be sick so that I could reset my stomach, but even failed at that and drudged on. 
SO - at 3:18:24 on the clock, I crossed the line. Wiped out, but smiling.
I really don't do well in the heat. Really really don't do well in the heat. 

SO - where do I go with this information? If I can keep my brain out of my ass, I will not sign up for races during the summer season in the future, and either volunteer or hang with Kris and the boys and do house work, and run for fun. If it's a hot day, skip it. I am also considering another change for 2016. In addition to not planning any number of races goals, possibly even setting a maximum number of races, I am considering going naked - no - not naked naked, I am not built for that, I mean data free. Steve Chaffee runs with only a stopwatch, simple. I like that. We'll see.  I am a huge data nerd, so t would be tough. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Old Loggers Path - First Half

The Old Loggers Path in North Central PA is a route I had seen online as a possible run that I might want to do some day.  The whole trail is 27.1 miles long.  PAHIKES website has a topo, elevation profile, and some blogposts on the trail. Great link - 

Saturday July 11th, I met up with Steve Chaffee and we drove down and picked up Michele Fanton and Ayda (not sure about the spelling) the dog. It took us about 2.5 hours, with the last 1/2 hour being a 10 mile drive down Pleasant Stream Road to drop a cooler (our aid station) and drive the 3.5 miles to the parking area. We got ready to go, and had a little hangup getting the 100 yards to the trailhead, when some guys Weimarhanar decides to hold Ayda at point until his owner showed up with his other two dogs to state "jeesh, I didn't think there would be so many people around". Fortunately, that was the last unleashed dog we saw all day. 

The trailhead going Clockwise from the Masten parking lot starts off uphill from the road, with a fairly reasonable climb.

 We had known there was a possibility of nettles from this guy's posts and youtube video -, but didn't expect to hit them within the first 1/4 mile. No way around them, and they had pretty well overgrown the trail so we just bull through them and keep going. Irritation only lasted about 5-10 minutes, and wasn't really that bad. Steve and Michele who was leashed to Ayda pulled away and went right up the climb. I knew it would be a super long day if I pushed myself too hard, especially right off the bat, so I kept myself in my zone and bulled uphill. 

Not too far into the run things flattened out and it was nice. 

We continued on across a creek and through some absolutely stunning woods. On the side of a ridge with huge pines, which would have made a great photo op, but I was busy trying to catch up on the flats and downhills when I could.

  Around 5 miles in we could hear Yellow Dog Run, the creek that flowed into Rock Run which Steve had told us was a beautiful place to stop and take a rest and enjoy the views. It wasn't long until we came up on  the creek. 

About a mile fruther along we came to the junction, and took a break and a couple of photo's, and soaked our feet. The holes looked deep enough to jump into without touching the bottom, and Steve contemplated it, but decided against it. 


After leaving this little haven, we climbed uphill for about 1.3 miles, climbing about 600 feet. Then things flatten out and you go through another real pretty set of pines and ferns around mile 8. 

After 3 more miles of comfortable trail you turn off to climb Sullivan Mountain which offers some great views. We stopped a couple of times along this portion for photo ops also, and to enjoy the views. 

After Sullivan you start to descend towards the road where we left the cooler. We still had about 3.5 miles till the road, but it's a nice route down. It can be technical at sections, and one segment had the creek you run along re-route itself to go right down the Loggers Path, but it was refreshing on the feet, and no-one complained. 

We got to the road around mile 16.5 and stopped for some food and drink before making the trip back to the car. Steve said this is the spot he leaves the cooler, and if you decide to go on from here you have two more pretty good climbs. One within the first few miles after crossing the road and Pleasant Stream. We spent 10 minutes enjoying our food and ice cold water and got back on the road heading for our big cooler and a soak in the stream. You can just see Steve's back to the right of the big tree when he grabbed the cooler in this spot. We wanted to make sure it was hidden so we didn't come back to an empty cooler. 

3.5 miles further down the road and our run was completed.  We started at 9:30, and it took us 5 hours and 22 minutes with our stops. Our moving time was 4:07 and I felt real good after it. I can't wait to go back and see about doing the whole loopp. Maybe when the weather is cooler.

One of the best finish line aid stations I have been to.  

Strava of our run

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Coming down the Pike.

So - the longer and longer I look back on Sehgahunda, I realize just how much of a success it was.  I had a plan. I ran my plan. I didn't suffer, and for that reason I felt like I missed out on something. What a dork. Since then I have run a couple of races that have slapped me down hard and reminded me of a few things.

I am not a fan of the heat. I read a great book by Vanessa Runs called "The Summit Seeker". I recommend the book, and even better was I got the electronic version and for an additional $1.99 got the Audible version which has Gordy Ainsleigh reading his Foreword for the book. So cool.. In this forward he talks about Vanessa's boyfriend Shacky. He explains it perfectly. "His genes are from cool foggy Ireland, and are still having trouble adjusting to the American Southwest."

Between this heat, and the lack of depth of knowledge about running, I am being taught lessons. Lessons not learned in only a shorter run. Or, I should say, you know it's a hot day when you go for a short run, you know it's hot, and that it's not fun, but you can suffer through it. Extend this out past a couple of hours and it turns into a death march. That slogging of feet that feels like you can't take another step. I still haven't witnessed this on a truly long race, but can only imagine just how bad it can get, and have respect for the people who get through it with grit.

Sehgahunda was cool. Mid 40's at the start, and that was a blessing for me.

I have started religiously wearing a heart-rate monitor also. This, with the fact that I now have a trainer who is setting up my runs to stay in a certain zone has me really paying attention to my HR. Guess what, when it's hotter out, for the same perceived exertion, your heart-rate is higher, sometimes considerably higher. So.. You cannot run your race pace if it's hot!

I like the cold. I like snowshoe racing. I like running in the midst of winter, when my face-mask freezes, and I have to step carefully on the icy roads.

So. When I started looking into my race plans for next year, I thought about it, and figured that maybe it would be smarter for me to choose some cooler season races. It's hard to train for the long mile when it's dark out, but I enjoy running with a headlamp, and I enjoy running in the cold. So Kris and I talked about my options for a first race and decided that there is a 50K in Virginia that is called the Holiday Lake 50K. It's held in February, around Valentines Day, and Kris and the boys have the next week off.  So, it would be a great way to start a vacation week.  Additionally, a great friend and Ultra Mentor, Rich Shear, told me that the Race Director is a friend of his. 

Now, of course, with my inability to do anything half way, and additionally a goal of doing a 50 miler next year, it so happens that the Holiday Lake 50K is part of two different race series. One is called the Lynchburg Ultra Series, and consists of 3 - 50K's, each getting tougher - in Feb, Mar, and April and then ending with a 50 Miler that Rich suggested I do, The Mountain Masochist Trail Run in November. The other series is the BEAST Series which includes these first 4, plus an additional 100M and 100K race. I am not ready for those, and won't be next year. I might be crazy, but I'm not stupid. 

There are other 50K's coming up this fall, but I think after Imogene, I'll be looking for some recovery time, slowing things down some and getting a few more 1/2's in before the end of the year so that I reach my 2015 goal of a half marathon per month. I happened to look the other day and found that by the end of October, I will have run in 23 races this year. Obviously I will need 2 more halfs before the end of the year, and it would be illogical for me to not find some other race between now and the end of the year so that I at least have an average of a race every 2 weeks for the year. 

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am the king of hobbies. I am an addict for change and hobbies. Guitars, Whitewater Kayaking, Cycling, Running, Photography, etc. Trail running I feel might stick, just because it implements, running, hiking, camping and photography, all in the outdoors. It's everything I want out of life. Everything I have always enjoyed. I am going to try to start running with a camera. We'll see how that goes. Hopefully I will have pictures to post in the future to make the blog a little more fun to read.  

Take care. 


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hours vs Miles

I took this shot in 2008, the year I started running, the year I did my first half. The shot wasn't taken on a run, I think I was heading out for a morning hunt, but I've seen a similar view a number of times on the trail or an early morning run, hike, or hunt. 

What separates miles and hours while running?

It seems that the answer to this is where you run.  If you're a road runner, you likely track your runs by distance covered.  If you're a trail runner, trying to get across a concept to people who understand road running you tell them how far you went in miles.  Maybe if you're running "shorter" distances on the trail, you do the same, but then, at some point, when you're training for the big show, whether it be a long race, a long hike, a long backpacking trip or a long hunt, you start thinking in hours. 

It goes something like this:

Well, I am going to be out there for multiple hours / days / weeks and I need the power to keep moving. It becomes less and less about speed, and more and more about the ability, strength and mental power to keep moving. Whether it be running, hiking, backpacking or hunting, you're going to be pushing your limits. 

People can be amazed by the long runs. 

Why? Because they understand them as something they see, or can do, or have done - running. And, they realize that these guys are pushing the envelope the whole time they're out there, no matter how big or deep that envelope is. The guy who finishes 100 miles in 18 hours is just as impressed by the guy who took 30 to complete the same distance, because in their own way, they're both damned hard core, and they both put their all into it, and suffered miserably. But the guy out there for 30 hours suffered for 12 more hours. 

But, those guys who pack back in the big country to disappear for a while, carrying everything they need to survive on their backs are also damned impressive, yet less likely to get the same level of ooohhhs and aaahhhhs, however, that's not what they're doing it for. It's strange if you think about it. They're actually working hard for a longer period of time, and carrying more weight, but the big difference is, they're appreciating it all, for themselves! They're out there to soak it in. Not to roll over a goal. They're watching the sunrise, they're looking at the views, they're taking the time to pause and see how that one ray of sunlight is poking through the treetops to light up that single flower. 

Runners don't typically take that time. They're soaking it all in at warp speed. They don't take that extra 30 seconds to stop and appreciate that view. They have a schedule to meet, and places to be, and a clock to beat. I know, I can be one of them at times. Sometimes you're so beat from the run that you're hardly seeing anything off the trail. Sometimes you're not even focusing that well on that trail in front of your feet! It's survival mode, and because it's clocked, you don't stop, and sit down and take the pack off and catch your breath. That gets done when you cross the finish line. 

I'm a runner, I'm a hunter, I'm a backpacker and I'm a hiker. I love each one in it's own way. They're all sweet, and they're all hard. They all offer a level of accomplishment, they just have their differences.  

Running is fast - depending on the distance, severity and your speed it can typically be done in a few hours (10-15 miles), a half day (20-30 miles) during daylight (50-70 miles) or over a weekend (100 miles). You're going to cover the most ground, but not likely going to really "see" as much.

Running can also be done in theory without a huge disruption to your schedule or family life. I can get up at 4AM, and head out for a run, without waking anyone, be home and showered, and have breakfast with my family before heading out for work. However, I would be lying if I didn't say that includes being in bed by 9. (so maybe a little time away from the family at night) I eat healthier because it affects how well I perform the job. I feel more energetic because I am healthier whether from the running or diet who knows. I often meet up with a group of like minded others at the end of a race and socialize.  It's awesome and I love it, and it's good conditioning for the other three! 

Over my next 14 weeks however, I will probably be mixing in more hiking and backpacking to build my strength. Plus, it's something I can do with my family and my dog. I need to build my base core strength, and there isn't a more enjoyable way to accomplish that. 

So my training schedule - even on Strava - has switched from running 35 miles per week to "running" 5 hours a week as of June 1st. I likely won't cover that same amount of ground, but it'll be just as valuable, and it'll likely be with family and friends who I have negelected during my spring training. Mix that with some swimming and cross training, and hopefully I'll be a more solid athlete at the end of it.

Oh - and why 14 weeks?  That's when I head for Colorado to help a friend filming his Mule Deer hunt. For nearly two weeks we will live above 12,000 feet. With 70 lb packs, camera equipment and everything we need to survive. At the end of those two weeks I hope to run one of my bucket listers. The Imogene Pass Run that finishes in Telluride. Registration opens June 1st. Two years ago registration filled in 150 minutes, last year it was 58 minutes.  I hope I can get in. 

PS - I have an addition to my bucket list -  Hardrock 100 course hike-through end to end. Shooting for 4 days or less.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sehgahunda 2015 - My first marathon...

This one is damned interesting.  Saturday May 23, I ran one of my bucket listers.  It was a race I saw in my quest for cool trail races, and thought, hell yeah! I want to do that some day!
SO - this year, after the Hyner Challenge, after some push from a friend who mentioned she had heard some extra spots were opening up, I got on the waitlist. 
A few weeks later, and I was in! I had been told this was easier than the Hyner 25K, and it was.  I was told I wouldn't feel the aches I felt the day after the Hyner and I don't. SO, why, after completing my first marathon, do I feel a lack of accomplishment?  
I don't know if it's the fact that I didn't post that much about this race on social media, so I didn't have many folks giving me the token pat on the back. Something I have found is a great morale booster, but when contemplated, is a pat, that's it. You're asking for that pat when you post, and you will get one, guaranteed!  Even if it's from mom. 
Is the pat important? Hell yes! Extremely important to some. It was and will likely be in the future to me also, but not this time, not this run.  This one was for me.  It took me too long, though my time fell between my intitially planned A race and my newly planned A race a that was changed a week prior. My initial goal was a 6:30, and my newer goal a 6 hour race, I finished in 6:11:15. I was 117 out of 199 finishers. There were also 30 DNF's.  Weather conditions were the reason for the new goal, with the fact that the course would be dry and the weather would be cool - around 40 at the start! This day was to be a training run for me. And it was. But, like a training run, I don't typically look for outside acknowledgement from my training. 
So, what does it all mean? 
I think it means, that afterwards I felt that maybe I am not built for the long stuff. Maybe, my last couple of months of listening to Trail Runner Nation podcasts about Ultrarunning went to my head, and for a moment I forgot about getting to a point with my ultracycling where I decided it was just too much. On my last long ride I was at a point where I wasn't having fun, and why the hell was I doing it, 8 hours into an 11+ hour ride I called Kris to pick me up at the next stop, I'd had enough of riding alone.
Maybe it's because I listened to one of the podcasts where the guest was Ashley Walsh, who writes a blog called AshRuns100s, and happened to be speaking in the latest podcast I listened to about possibly giving up the 100's. About how she was in first place in a 100 at mile 80, and decided that she didn't need to finish. She didn't need the acknowledgement of others. Do yourself a favor if you understand running for long distances and read this one, it doesn't bash long distance. It talks about it as medicine. About she needed that medicine to get her through a tough time in her life, and at that race, at that point in time, she no longer felt that need, and in fact felt that maybe she was abusing the medicine.
Don't get me wrong about running, I need the run, I love the run, I'll continue to run. I have a bunch of races scheduled in the near future and I'll run them. Heck, they're around the right distance where I'll probably push my limits and see what I can do in them. Those races are going to be fun. Those races I will enjoy. But, maybe I won't be looking for as many pats. 
Where do I go from here? I continue to train. Heck, I'm planning on running between 6 and 11 tomorrow depending on the condition of the trail. 
In the near future anyways, if I want to run over 20 miles, it will likely be on a trail with a few friends not that far from home.  At least for now, I have to be honest with myself. Right now I'm not a big distance guy. I'm not giving what I consider a fair effort. I haven't figured my nutrition out enough where I can push myself. I have to go slow enough to maintain a heart rate low enough to consume my nutrition without issue. And, for me, that's pretty damned slow. Then I also need to get my mileage up.
Maybe I just need to wrap my head around it. From what I listen to, most people who aren't elite and doing the Ultra stuff, do it like I did. They go slow. They do what they need to for their body to maintain for hours, up to 30 hours, sometimes more. My issue is, this wasn't ultra distance. With proper training I shouldn't have needed to worry so much about heart rate and nutrition in a race of this distance. It was a race that a friend of mine won! He ran it over two hours faster than me. I'm crazy happy for him. I also don't think I gave this a fair chance coming into it. I need to train a hell of alot more for a race like this. I have to consider that after writing it all down, maybe it's just that. I signed up for an event that I had no right in running, I treated this like a fun run, and that's ok. I just need to wrap my head around it, and I really did learn alot. AND - I guess I had to start somewhere. 

So - what about the Sehgahunda? 
It really is a nice race. Really.  It's very well staffed, and well run. It's like most other trail races that I have competed in, but not like the best of them. Not like the races I have done with the MedVed folks, the TrailsRoc guys, the RoadsArePoison guys, and the Fantons, those all felt like family events. It's a trail race that finishes like a road race. It's a here's your medal, there's your burger, have a nice day after the finish line. Up till then, it's a trail race as I know them, with the very little experience that I have. But-  giving a fair shake, I might have missed the camaraderie coming in as late as I did. 
Funny thing about trail races and what attracted me. It's a tight knit group. It's the Cheer's of running - where everyone knows your name. You finish, and sit down and there is some awesome food, folks come up and chat and see how you did, and how everything is going. Everyone cheers every last runner across the line, and because there are more folks for the later runners, the cheering is louder. It's social and it's awesome, and it's something you're hesitant to share, because it's an amazing secret. But, don't worry, Sehgahunda will not divulge that secret. At least not shouting it from the rooftops. It's there, but you have to find it, or you have to bring it yourself. For me, this was a race that I felt somewhat guilty about running. A race that I left my family for the day to do something selfish. I'm sure that has an impact on my impression. 

Back to the race, it's a tough race.

Mile 0 is the dam on the Mt Morris end of letchworth park. Here's a shot I took race morning 20 minutes before the start. 

Mile 1-15 are fairly friendly, with 1-6 being the nicest. Somewhere around mile 3 I had to stop and take this picture of the gorge. 

After mile 6, you'll find more slow rollers, and could be potentially quick, but you need to run it slow, keeping in mind what's coming after the 3rd aid station, after mile 15. After 15 through about 22-23 there are some serious climbs. A couple of real doozies. It's also starting to get a little warmer out. After mile 23 it's pretty flat except a very short climb to the finish. 

People are great, aid station workers are great, fans are great. During the race you get passed by Relay runners who started 1/2 hour after you if you're a man, or 45 minutes after if you're a woman, but it's not a big deal, unless you're elite, you should be racing yourself and your personal capabilities. Success will be judged by yourself primarily. Know your goals going in, and run accordingly. Know the conditions of the course also, as they can have a huge effect on your race from what I have heard. And - if you can run the pre-runs with the Fleet Feet folks I would highly recommend it. As many as possible. A familiar course can be your friend.

What do you get?  Decent swag for sure. Marathon Runners get a bib with their name on it (I was a wait lister, so no name), a hoodie, and all finishers get an awesome finishers arrowhead. 

Will I do it again? Yup! But, hopefully with the active support of my family, and because I now have a PR to beat, or if I can convince my family, I will run the relay with them all, which would be absolutely awesome. Will I wear the hoodie proudly? Yep, there was blood, mud and sweat that paid for that sweatshirt. Not only did I fall once, but twice in this race, my first ever fall in a race, and I did a full roll the second time! I had plenty of opportunity to twist an ankle also, but got lucky (and was taped up), and got through mostly unscathed. 

I'm thankful for this race though, as a training run it was tops. It gave me a bump up to some longer runs. I completed 26 miles without injury or major injury. It gave me an idea of what kind of pace to expect during climbs and how to climb them. I'm far from knowledgeable about the long stuff, and as can be seen from the whole first half of this post, this race left me very dissatisfied about competing in an event of this distance. It's alot like my first half marathon in Sedona Arizona in 2008. It was fairly slow, and I felt out of my league. Next time I plan to be more prepared. 

Final assessment - why did I feel a lack of accomplishing anything special? I was alone - not alone alone - I had great friends there, but my family wasn't there. They will be next time. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mess the Dress 5 Miler

Running is going well, workouts and cross training? ugh!

Today I ran a great trail race, short and sweet, a 5 Mile muddy run wearing a skirt. It was a Trails Roc event, and the charity was a group who raises money for prom dresses for girls who don't necessarily have the money to buy their own. It's a great group of people, and over the winted I did the Cast A Shadow Snowshoe race with these folks and figured they'd be a nice group to support. 

I ended up 10th in a field of 113 runners, which is probably my best finish ever for an event of this size. There were no age group awards, but I was first in the 40-49 age group, so felt pretty good about that also, considering I lost my shoe, twice, in the mud.  

Rules of the race were simple, follow the trail, keep the orange flags on your right, and don't avoid the mud. I ran the whole thing pretty much at my redline, but still felt good at the finish, though next weeks Hyner View Challenge Trail Race will tell alot more with 16.5 miles of running and 4200 feet of climbing. 

The short and sweet of it was I did 5 miles in 45:56 in muddy conditions, and my achilles felt pretty good, as I have been having some issues with it because of all of the hillwork I have been doing. So I started doing some exercises to help build strength in my lower legs and hopefully prevent future issues. 

So far year to date I have run 236 miles and climbed 17,500 feet in elevation.  I am trying to get in at least one run with 1000 feet of climbing per week. I am also shooting for 25 miles a week, and maybe will get my bucket list goal of 1000 miles in a year this year. 

Well, it's been a good year so far. Plan is to run 9 tomorrow with Kris, and have a mellow week after that with a couple of 6 milers, resting up for the Hyner.  

Here are some shots from todays race.  It's a stellar outfit. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A change of goal, but not pace - big plans for 2015!


2015 brings new loftier goals in health and fitness, and new lessons to be learned hunting. 


In the summer of 2014 I went for my annual physical, and through blood work my doctor found that my cholesterol was high, as well as my triglycerides, and my A1C was borderline high, which he stated was a precursor for diabetes. He said, well, you're not fat, which means I can't just tell you to eat right, because it doesn't look like you're eating all that bad. He asked how much sugar I was eating and I told him not much, so he said, well, make it none. At the time I thought, this guy is crazy! I did tell him that I thought I could get my cholesterol back in check with diet, so he gave me until November to get it straight or he was going to have to put me on medication. 

I started looking into diet changes, and had considered going into a more Paleo type of diet, but figured that wouldn't help my cholesterol before I started doing some research. I basically took the next 3 months to research and think about how I was going to attack this, and in October I started the "Whole 30" diet - which is more of a body reset. No alcohol, no dairy, no legumes, no pasta, no grains for 30 days, along with some other limits on ingredients. Then you can start adding stuff back in and see how you feel.  This is not easy at all. It's very tough finding what you can eat, especially at first. I am lucky that I hunt and have game meat in the freezer, and we have a garden with plenty of fresh vegetables. I was never able to get away from the evening "snack" of frozen blueberries, but even though not recommended, it wasn't off limits, and it was my weakness. Evening snacks were and still are a hard habit to break. Anyhow, on November 24th I had my bloodwork done again with the following results. 

    • Total Cholesterol - 194       down from      229
    • HDL Cholesterol -   44          up from         41
    • LDL Cholesterol -  136      down from      142
    • Triglycerides  -        69       down from      231
    • A1C -                       5.1      down from      6.1
    • Weight -                   184     down from     195 (this was Oct 24 - Nov 24)

Wait, what? Yes, this was diet alone. No exercise changes. Kris wasn't super convinced when I started it, and has become quite the advocate after seeing the results. Including the clearing up of the snuffy noses for Kelleach our 12 year old son, and the acne on Brogan our 15 year old son. For Brogan it was dairy, and Kelleach seems to be mostly gluten and dairy. I have added things back in, but can definitely tell when I go off too far. Grains and dairy seem to hit me the hardest and take the longest to recover from. Sugar is just addicting. That's it. There's no way around it. When I fall off the sugar wagon, and I still do, it's hard to get back on track. Sugar in my mind is one of the most addictive substances in the world, and causes you to desire it more. The only sugar I allow myself now is honey in my coffee, and a very occasional dark chocolate bar, but even that has to be limited.


So - once getting my health in check somewhat, and agreeing to go to Colorado in September and be the videographer/photographer for Kim Womer's high country mule deer rifle hunt, the decision was made that even though I was in good shape for the 2014 mule deer hunt, it was time to get in great shape for 2015. Kim was asking Jeff at Antler Quest to give us the best chances of a 200 inch buck, no matter what we physically had to do to get it. I told Kim whatever he needed me to be able to do, I would be ready and we started planning. I mentioned to Kim that on the last Saturday of our hunt, there was a race that I always wanted to run. The Imogene Pass Run (IPR) goes from Ouray Colorado to Telluride Colorado. Running up 5000 feet to go over a 13,000 pass and then down into Colorado. It's a 17 mile race and has been on my bucket list since I learned about it. Kim was fully supportive and said I had to do it. He said he'd be waiting for me at the finish with a beer. 

Having never run further than a half marathon, and never run that kind of elevation, I signed up for a couple of the tougher local races, including the Frozen Snot, which is a 14 mile race in PA which climbs 5400 feet over the length of the race. For a precursor, I ran the Frozen Assets race, which is typically a snowshoe race, unless there's not enough snow, which was the case this year. It was a 23 degree morning, and with little snow on the trail I ran my first race of the year on January 3rd. 

I decided that my goal for 2015 was not only to run the Frozen Snot, and the Imogene Pass Run, but to also try to run a half marathon every month. 

The Frozen Snot took me about 6.5 hours, and was a good lesson. A few weeks later I did the Cast A Shadow snowshoe race, and ran 14.6 miles in snowshoes in around 3:55. Both of these races were a very good idea of what was coming. A 13 mile road race is nothing compared to what these races had held for me, and if I had any dreams of a 4-5 hour IPR, then I needed to do some serious leg work. This would also help me immensely with all of my running, and with the whole reason for getting serious about my running - Kim's muley hunt! 

So - with 180 days left before we leave NY for Colorado (September 2nd), we have big plans. Kim has been working out like a madman, and I have been ramping up. I have been doing some running, and just got back to the gym last week, and have been snowshoeing with Kris up back. I'll be in shape. Right now I am reading a book by Loren Cordaine about the Paleo Athlete, and combining the Paleo diet with the athletic lifestyle to maximize your training.

New Lessons

So this leaves us with the lessons to be learned. 

Since my first half marathon in February of 2010 I have learned quite a bit. I did my jaunt with cycling, and distance cycling and triathlons, and running, and now I am looking to the woods for my hunting and my running. It's a different type of running and demands your attention at all times, but is very mind clearing with the fact being that there isn't a lot of room for doing much other than paying attention and enjoying the view. I've learned a lot about training, how if I want to be faster I have to do speed-work, and if I ever want to be a good Snowshoe racer, or trail runner, I need to do some serious legwork and hill work which overlap each other in benefit. So there are fitness lessons. 

I am waiting for delivery of my new Panasonic HC-VX870 4K camcorder, and have busted out the Contour Roam and my D300 to start working on my photography again. Kim and I will be sitting down with what we have and seeing where we are with things. Kim has a line on some GoPro cameras which will also help out with things, and I believe we're going to sign up for a video class with Campbell Cameras being held on the 21st of March in PA. 

The next level of learning for me will be hunting with a new person. This is always a lesson in life. To see how different hunters approach things. Many times small changes in how things are approached can lead to different levels of success. Additionally, Kim and I will be hunting similar to the way I hunted last year for mule deer, but in the same way, quite differently. We will be hunting more of a specific animal. Possibly going for a single deer. That one buck in the area that exceeds all others. It will take time and patience, and fitness. It's going to be a great experience. Additionally, if things go well enough, it may give me the time to get off the mountain before my race and possibly get my first elk. Even if it's a cow. I wouldn't mind bringing home a whole bunch of meat for the freezer. 

Time will tell.  

Next race is the Cooks Forest Half Marathon that Kris and I will be running on March 28th.