Friday, April 1, 2016

New: Liposuction For Athletes!

On the bulletin board over my desk hangs a saying cut from a magazine ad. It reads: "If you can run, you can run farther. If you can train, you can train harder." This is a sentiment most ultra-runners embrace, except for many actually get to their training limits; a point where more miles and training are detrimental and prohibit recovery. But ultra-runners are a discontented crowd always looking for ways to improve fitness and get better. So along with training, many runners focus on achieving a specific "race weight" to perform at their best.

So while Tyra Banks and feel good social media posts urge us to love our bodies for what they are, running literature is telling us to get thin - crazy thin - if you want to run your best. In fact Runner's World continuously publishes the formula: 1 pound = 2 sec/mile. And the Jack Daniels' table has weight as a variable in one column so you can see your predicted times at your current fitness if you lost weight.

There's just one problem: dieting SUCKS! Sure you can lose weight if you eat only baby carrots and lettuce with water to wash it down, but where is the joy in that? Show me cheesecake, cookies and beer and I'll show you joy! I mean, come on, isn't one of the main reasons we run to be able to eat more food?? Hell, chocolate has been shown to stimulate more pleasure receptors in the brain than sex!

Well, now you can have your cake and eat it, too - literally! Introducing liposuction for athletes.

Liposuction has been around for decades and is a safe and fast procedure for removing unwanted pounds. Liposuction can be done in the out patient setting and you can be back to running just three days later, only at a much lighter and much more enjoyable weight.

Salem Bariatric surgeon, Dr. Raj Nair adds, "Thousands of athletes use surgery every year to help them get back in the game, from things like Tommy John surgery, tendon scraping and arthroscopic knee procedures. So why shouldn't athletes use surgery to help them get to the top of their game as well?"

Drugs in the amphetamine family are very effective at stimulating weight loss; unfortunately, they are all banned by WADA and an athlete risks sanctions and social ostracism if they use them. But liposuction is perfectly legal! The masses might balk at this being unfair, since only the rich can afford it, but with all the new liposuction centers popping up, the price of the procedure is on par with a high end home treadmill or an altitude tent.

"Ugh, ultra runners spend so much time talking about nutrition and it is so annoying," says Dr. Nair, who is an ultrarunner himself. "If you want to be fast, it doesn't matter what you eat, you just have to be thin. If your diet causes you to put on a little extra weight, just have it surgically removed a few months before your next big race." Dr. Nair often has two donuts and several cans of Coke for breakfast, further demonstrating that this Stanford grad doesn't place a lot of importance on the quality of food.
Medical expert, Dr. Raj Nair, trying to get some more of his beloved doughnuts

While we are not aware of any elite runners who publicly admit to having had liposuction, it seems on the brink of becoming the next best thing for achieving that performance edge, especially in the masters athletes where weight just doesn't seem to budge from your 40+ year old middle. If getting to race weight seems like too much sacrifice of all your favorite, check out liposuction. It just may be the solution you are looking for!

Mac Smith is all ready for his liposuction surgery yesterday (or his meniscus repair, whatever)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring Break!

We originally weren't planning to do much for spring break as we thought Megan might be having her tonsils out. But after a fairly illness free winter with NO strep throat, we decided maybe Megan was growing out of this repetitive sore throat thing and surgery wasn't such a good idea after all so we booked a couple days at the coast and a couple days at Mt. Hood. And then I read an article about how awesome the Utah National Parks are in the early spring and then I needed to go there. Ever since we visited Yellowstone and Grand Tetons in the summer of 2014, I've been kind of obsessed with getting my kids to the National Parks. After this past week, we've hit 15 and I've got hopes of hitting another five this summer with the kids and two more without them- not too bad for getting out and seeing this awesome country!

We got in to Vegas late Saturday night and as luck would have it, the Moonlight Ultra 24 hr and 100M race had a six hour little sister that started on Sunday morning (the others started at 6pm Saturday, hence the "moonlight" in the moniker). You are supposed to be sleep deprived when you are in Vegas, right?? So I headed off to Floyd Lamb park right about the time most drunken gamblers were calling it a night. The race was a low key affair on a 1.74M gravel loop through the desert. I was looking for a long run, but didn't want to push too hard with Gorge Waterfalls only two weeks away, so was hoping for at least 40 but not more than 42 miles. The dry desert air was great for my asthma and I felt better than I had in weeks (Oregon pollen is not my friend). I chugged along doing my own thing and by mile 12, I had already lapped every other runner in the race. I got to 40 miles in 5:26 just as it was starting to get pretty warm. If I kept the pace up, I knew I'd go over my plan of 42 miles, so I ended up walking, taking selfies and texting Mac the last lap and made it back to the start/finish in 5:45 where I called it a day - First place overall by three laps (5+ miles) and a new women's course record by almost 7 miles. The people at the race were super nice and it was inspiring watching the 100 milers plugging away especially as the day heated up.
Lap splits. I used the bathroom on lap 4 and 10 (lap 4 was only mile 6. I was so disappointed in my colon! I will attribute it to a bad airport meal and little sleep). Lap 22 I ran part of the way with the men's leader for some company and lap 24, I lolligagged. Otherwise, pretty decent training at 8:16 goal pace.
The Moonlight Ultra course
Just taking a selfie mid-race!
Since middle aged parents with their kids in tow have no business in Vegas during spring break, we fled Sin City as soon as the awards were over and headed to the family friendly land of Utah. God bless the Mormon women who all have about a hundred children and they raise them all without the crutch of alcohol! My own brand of  parenting consists of hiking all the sass and energy out of my kids and that's just what we did (and I didn't drink once! But there was one horrendous night where Mac let the kids have caffeinated soda at dinner and I might have had some murderous thoughts, though I am not sure if they were towards Mac or the kids!). We made the ambitious drive to Moab that night and then worked our way back through Arches, Canyonlands, Little Wildhorse Canyon and Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion. Wow - such an awe inspiring list of places in such a small area! 

Friday night we were back to St. George where we stumbled upon the Hog and Jog 5k. When I asked Megan if she wanted to do it, she looked at me like I had just let out a stinky fart, because running isn't cool any more and she "doesn't want to be crazy like me and all my friends who have to run all the time." And here I thought the family vacation was going so well! But Liam was all over it. He told me he likes running more than swimming and would even go if there wasn't any bacon! Liam crushed his 5k PR with a 32 flat and I managed three bacon "shots" during that time which was a bacon PR for me! Not bad mother-son bonding and all for $15 each! We spent the afternoon getting the VIP treatment at a nice Vegas resort courtesy of my cousin, who is a professional gambler, before catching a late night flight back to Portland.

Five national parks, two races and lots of quality family time - certainly a lot better than a tonsillectomy! Hope you all had a great Spring Break!


Arches NP
Landscape Arch, Arches NP


Delicate Arch, Arches NP
Double Arch, Arches NP
She says she doesn't like to run, but I caught her running!
Canyonlands NP
Planking on Whale Rock, Canyonlands NP
Goblin Valley State Park
My two Goblins

Hickman Bridge, Capitol Reef NP

Bryce
Merry Christmas from the Smiths!
Angels Landing, Zion NP
Bacon!
 
Right on the white line...future Badwater runner??


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hagg Lake 50K - A Pyrrhic Victory

Well, I said half marathon phase was over and ultra-phase had begun and what better way to kick it off than with an ultra!


Nowadays, there are big ultras every month and the two loop mud-fest at Hagg Lake has been relegated to "small local ultra" status, but back in pre-Ultramarathon Man days, Hagg Lake was pretty much the only thing on the Pacific Northwest Ultra calendar this time of year. In its 15 year history many top name ultra runners have kicked off their season at Hagg including Kami Semick, Joelle Vaught, Ashley Nordell, Cassie Scallon, Krissy Moehl, Devon Yanko, Denise Bourassa, Darla Askew, and for the men guys like Hal Koerner, Karl Meltzer, Max King, Jeff Browning, Ty Draney, Rod Bien, Ryan Bak, William Emerson, Jacob Puzey and Sean Meissner. With a history as a season starter like that and a location less than 90 minutes away, it was hard not to choose Hagg as a kick off for my (hopeful) comeback to ultra running. Plus, I have four Hagg Lake finishes of my own (my first goes way back to the 25k in 2002!) and five finishes gets you into The Hall of Mud, and who could resist that?? (you maybe haven't heard of it, but I assure you, it is very prestigious. Very.)

I took a very easy week between the Roaring Run Half marathon, mostly doing little three milers on my treadmill at a pace that I am embarrassed to post on my Strava (and usually don't!). But I assure you that 12+ minute pace is very deliberate (and even way slower than MAF) to allow recovery and "flushing the system" without adding any running stress or fatigue (I have to do these on the TM to run that slow, but I actually enjoy it - makes me feel like I could go forever!). I ended Roaring Run with a pain in my right hamstring and right foot, but the right foot pain was mostly gone the next day and the hamstring pain got diagnosed as piriformis/sciatic pain and stretching (esp. pretzel stretch) seemed to be helping so I didn't think it would be too big a deal. I had done five 20+ mile runs since Jan. 1, and while 13 weeks can't substitute for years of continuous training, I was feeling pretty good about my fitness for a 50k. What should have worried me was the fact that none of those runs were on technical trail.

Now Hagg Lake is not a technical trail, nor is it particularly hilly with 3,370' feet of total gain, but the issue at Hagg is the name sake mud. Hagg runs very differently on dry versus wet years, and this was a VERY wet year, especially after six straight hours of rain the night before. The dirt becomes a thick layer of sticky clay and it only gets worse the second loop after everyone has churned it all up the first time around. My La Sportiva Mutants did great in the mud, but so much force is needed to push off your toes to propel you forward and not having done any training for this, my feet were weak. By the end of the first lap, my arches were hurting badly! Hips and quads also had something to say, but only just typical minor whines.
Did I mention the mud?
The dam on the lake before the five mile AS is usually a nice little break from the trail, but by the second loop, I was in agony. I pretty much ran duck foot the final nine miles with several shouted "Ow!'s" (but no cuss words!). Fortunately, I had a lead and was able to keep it to pick up my third Hagg win, but at that point, there would have been no racing from me if anyone had passed. I was so glad to finish, but then the pain only got worse. I have never been so anti-social after a race! I made it to my car where I finally got my shoe off but could not take off my socks because of the pain when contorting my foot. I thought I'd walk the 100 yards to the food, but I almost fell over on my second step because I couldn't  put pressure on my foot. I got in my car and drove away and twice screamed in pain while driving (who needs to brake??).

My overall time was pretty slow compared to my other times, but I think this was the muddiest I have seen the course and the times across the board were slow. The men's winning time was 4:16 as compared to a 3:24 course record and winner Zach Gingerich is not a slow guy! Even the top ten master's times for men are all under 4 hours, which again just speaks to how slow it was this year. That being said, I know I didn't run the second lap very well, but I don't feel like it was due to bad pacing or fitness and my fueling was good, so overall, I am happy with the race. I am not, however, happy about my feet! I have a newfound sympathy for plantar fasciitis sufferers and I must admit, I probably didn't have a lot before. I have run through so many different "niggles" that I kind of thought people must be exaggerating with PF, but it is no joke! I hope WebMD has some pointers for me (hahaha- as if!). I am 3 for 4 in races (plus a master's win) since December after getting diagnosed and medicated for asthma, and while winning isn't really that important, especially in these smaller races, it is just nice to feel like I am getting back in the game. I don't want to have another set back! (yes, that is my whiny baby voice!). Anybody got any good PF advice??
Happy to be done! Also happy my car is the closest one!





Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I am Old Lady, Hear Me Roar - Roaring Run Half Marathon

This past weekend I ran the Roaring Run Half Marathon to see what 13 weeks of training and medication could get me. Well, it got me a strained right hamstring and a finishing time that didn't mesh with my goal time! 

Three weeks ago, I ran the Cascade Half Marathon at a controlled effort for a 1:26:44 finish. I thought three additional weeks of training along with a "race day" mentality (including a bit of a taper and better pre-race nutrition) would allow me to run ten seconds per mile faster for a 1:24:30 finish (6:27 pace), for my second fastest half ever, which would be a good accomplishment in my book (my PR came in 2013 when I was running out of my mind and I am not sure I will ever be able to equal that effort). I actually think it was a pretty reasonable goal and in line with my fitness. Unfortunately, I got a little too fired up early on and deviated a bit from the plan. (That's a euphemism for "I went out too fast and screwed up the pacing"). 

Two women were out front together early, chatting away at 6:10 pace. I knew better than to stay with them, but I stayed a little too close especially as the first two miles went downhill. I backed off but only to about 6:20 pace - still faster than goal pace. By mile 7 my hamstrings were sore and cement like and the pace slowly dribbled into the 6:40 range for a 50 second positive split and a 1:25:18 finish. Oops! At the time, I thought my hammies were just suffering from the hot early pace, but afterwards it was clear something wasn't right. My right hammy and right foot were in a lot of pain. My planned five mile cool down lasted all of 0.2 miles. On the bright side, I was at the front of the line for the potato bar! 
Covered bridge over the Roaring River
Saturday after the race, my kids were in a piano competition. Liam was up first and he totally choked. He left the stage in tears. Afterwards, I tried to tell him that we all have bad days and that I didn't have a very good race that morning. "Yeah, except nobody cares about running, Mom. It's just a stupid race!" So as you can see, there is no good reason for me to get too upset about my race! Megan didn't have her best day either, so no real shining stars in our family for the weekend, but we are getting out and trying and that's what counts.
How Liam really feels about the Bach festival: "Sucks big time". Hahaha!
Despite missing the goal, I am still quite encouraged. Aside from the hamstrings, I felt great. It was an "old lady PR" (PR post-40) and a master's win. (The two fast women went on to take 1st and 2nd overall). I know I could do better, but I am not a half marathoner and am not too hung up on what I could run. I think of endurance fitness as having two main components: a cardio-vascular component and a musculoskeletal component. With asthma, my CV fitness got so bad that I really wasn't taxing my musculoskeletal system and that fitness withered away. But with the asthma under control, my CV fitness has improved tremendously and now my musculoskeletal system needs to catch up. Strength training has always been an important part of my training because I think it helps so much in keeping the musculoskeletal system strong enough to endure the stress when the CV system gets in really good shape. And the weights don't lie: last time I was at the gym, I struggled to deadlift 155#; at my peak I could DL 200#. Now that this base/half-marathon phase is over, I know I need to get back in the gym and get strong again! But this week, I'll be babying my leg and not doing very much: ultra-marathon phase starts next week and I need a healthy hamstring for that!
First Old Lady!
We ended the day with peanut butter pie for Mac's 42nd b-day. Pie is good for aging husbands, sore hamstrings and crabby little boys. :)


Friday, January 22, 2016

Come-back Half

Last Sunday I ran the local Cascade Half Marathon. In terms of performance, I had nothing riding on a set time and I didn't take the lead up to the race very seriously, yet, the day before the race I found myself really worried. I realized I was using this race as a test, a test to see if I really could control my asthma and get back to racing again. Because I had a lot riding on this emotionally, I kind of went into panic mode before the race, taking extra reflux meds, revisiting the steroid inhaler and taking the regular inhaler twice before the race started - I was going to make sure I was well medicated for this thing! (To keep the lynch mobs at bay, I will point out that everything is WADA legal. And contrary to what many people think, asthma drugs do not require a TUE).

I thought a 6:40 pace would be doable even in the pouring rain (you can count on miserable weather for the Cascade Half) and made sure my pace didn't dip below 6:30 on the way out to the turn around. On the way back, I just tried to keep a steady effort and ended up with a ten second negative split for a 1:26:44 finish, which is now the median for my 7 life time half marathons. Despite being a middle of the road time, I was ecstatic: I felt completely in control, I had no breathing issues, and my legs felt like they were working exactly like they were supposed to work, and the race left me exhilarated, not completely exhausted! In summary: I passed my test! If I never got any faster, I'd still be happy and able to enjoy running and that is a very nice thing to be able to say (finally!). Plus, I did actually win the race (the farm town of Turner, OR is not exactly a mecca for speedy runners in the middle of January), which was a nice little cherry on top. I parked eight miles from the finish line and caught a ride with a friend which forced me to do an extra long cool down, which made for a pretty good day in the log book!

One funny little story: a generous doctor in the area donated $100 for both the men's and women's master runners, but there was only a plaque for the overall winner, who is typically removed from the age group awards. I politely asked the race director (and friend) to give the overall win to second place and make me the masters winner -  I prefer a hundred dollars to a plaque! The RD thought that would be awkward so he ended up paying me $100 from the race coffers and the second place 40+ lady got the donated prize money. Everybody wins! (well, except maybe Cascade High School, which is now getting $100 less from this fundraiser. I volunteered to help for a couple hours the day before the race, so let's call it even!). I guess I'll use it to cover all the co-pays for my asthma meds, cause they seem to be working!

In the few days after the race, I couldn't believe how sore my hamstrings were! Geez, don't my legs remember how to run 13 measly miles?? But a friend reminded me that I took ten weeks off and I have to think like I am starting all over again. I am optimistic that this means there is still lots of improvement to be had. I will test myself at the half again in three weeks at the Roaring Run, which will be 13 weeks since I started back running. Last year I ran 1:26:01 while suffering and feeling terrible (and experiencing several bad workouts ahead of time), so I will definitely be hoping for something better. Now that my hamstrings have recovered, it's time to get training!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016

Happy New Year! Sure we are ten days in, but I am still celebrating turning over a new leaf. Heck, I've even read two novels already, something that has been supplanted by running books and magazines the past couple of years. (Of course, I still plan to read all of those, too!).

Anyway, nothing better to kick off new training then a Fatass run! So yesterday, my training partner Dennis and I made the trip down to Yachats for the Cape Perpetua Fatass. We agreed that we'd be doing the run more "adventure style" than race style, which meant running in a group, hiking even the low grade stuff, and taking plenty of pictures - even a few selfies! We finished near the back, and I loved every minute of it! (And with no official results there will be no ramifications for my ultra signup score - phew! ;). The trails out there were like carpet - all pine needles and moss. There were a couple of miles that may have been the best suited to me than any other trail I have run: a thin ribbon of dirt running down an old dirt road over grown with grass, fast downhill with out a rock to be seen, just a few down saplings, most of which I hurdled with a  big smile on my face. I am taking three meds routinely with an additional inhaler for long runs, and while I don't like that I have to take them, the fact that they have made me feel so much better and have brought the joy back in to running makes it worth it. Now, hopefully with some concentrated training, I can bring the speed back in to my running, too.
Rays of sun through the tall trees

The beautiful Oregon coast

Stopping for selfies on the coast!
Big ferns and mossy trails: Oregon trails at their finest!
And since I have made it through a full seven days of training and a Fatass,  I have registered for a half dozen races! Here are my plans for 2016 so far:

1/17: Cascade Half Marathon - this is just a hard effort, long tempo day- a so-called "training race."

2/6: Roaring Run Half Marathon - This is the race I set my half marathon PR (1:21:15) back in 2013 when I was running at my best. I also ran a 1:26:01 there last year when I was having such a hard time and struggling to even do 4 mile tempo runs. So I have a very nice scale on which to measure myself and to get an idea of where I am at and what kind of expectations I should have for the year.

2/13 - Hagg Mud 50k - If you mention Hagg Lake you are likely to get an eye roll from anyone who has run it. On paper (or in the summer) it should be a super fast course, but it is endless thick, thick mud in February, which slows it considerably. I got my 4th finish several years ago and I figured this would be a good time to get my 5th and get my name in the  (very prestigious!) "Hall of Mud." But I am not paying $25 for a 5 year finisher's buckle! (really?? sheesh!)

4/2: Gorge Waterfalls 100k - No, I am NOT going for a Golden Ticket (no, really!) but this is a beautiful race with good competition and minimal travel. And I do love mossy trails.

5/13: Dawn to Dusk to Dawn 24 hour - Yes, another track race. Yes, I am crazy, but Yes, I still really like the idea of track races, too. I am undecided if I want to try for another fast 100 mile time or if I want to do the full 24 hours and try to get a 24 hour World Championship qualifier.

6/17: Bighorn 100 - Western States is awesome, but I need a break from focusing completely on that one race (not to mention, I don't have a spot!). I am very excited to get the chance to try another classic mountain 100 and the women's field is looking pretty stout!

8/20: Waldo 100k - (if I can make it through the lottery or convince the RD's that I am still "elite") - This is the race where I was first diagnosed with asthma in 2009 after breathing difficulties ruined my run. It seems fitting to go back as I am trying to rebound from such problems with asthma. Plus, it is another great race with minimal travel.

Fall racing schedule will be determined based on how all the above goes. 

So who else is running any of these races?



Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015 Year in Review

The Ultra-Running Year in Review: 2015

Well, my year of running had nothing notable enough that I want to toot my own horn and rehash anything in some kind of long winded year in review. In a nutshell: I was mediocre or worse at every race this year until I finally got so frustrated with poor workouts, that I dropped off of the 100km National Team because I didn’t feel I could live up to my own expectations. 

But there is a silver lining: less time training and racing gave me a lot more time to be a fan (and a cynic!) of the sport. I’ll leave the assessment of individual athletes up to the Ultrarunning Magazine panel and instead, let me tell you what you where I think ultrarunning went in 2015.

1)  You NEED a coach. If you haven't run an ultra yet, well, then you can't possibly know anything about the sport and you will most definitely need a coach to guide you through such complex activities like putting one foot in front of the other, eating gels and drinking water. And if you have run a few ultras, well then you are ready to get better and you will definitely need a coach to show you how to improve. And don't think you will out grow the need for a coach even when you have run a whole pile of ultras with success. Because then you are probably on the brink of burnout and you desperately need a coach to keep you from overtraining. In 2015, you absolutely cannot train for an ultra without a coach.

1a) After you hire a coach, you must fall madly in love with that coach. Or at least it will seem that way on social media when you talk about your coach more than your loved ones. Despite the fact that you may be paying said coach upwards of $400 a month, you feel compelled to do a bunch a free advertising for your coach, babbling on and on about how wonderful they are, as if they had invented the very sport itself. This is perfectly logical, because we both know there is no possible way you ever could have made it through your last ultra without a coach. You gave them a quarter of your take home salary, but they gave you your worth as a runner. Surely, that is worth a whole lot of social media love.

2) Become a coach. If you have finished at least one ultra, then you are ready to become a coach! Do you know how fast this sport is exploding?! Think of all the wanna-be ultra runners who have yet to run their first 50k; after one race, you will know light years more then they do, so why not make a little money on the side by coaching those poor, ignorant saps who are so desperately in need of guidance if they are ever going to survive the harsh world that exists beyond 26.2 miles. Just remember, no matter how good you are as a coach, you are never, ever, ever, qualified to coach yourself. See #1 above. Sure you can coach other people, but you my friend, are still utterly incapable of writing your own training plan.

2a) Once you become a coach, make sure you let everyone know that any time any one of your clients has a good race, it is really you who deserves all the credit for their success. I mean, we have already gone over how most people could barely even complete an ultra if left to their own devices, let alone be successful. Of course, if you do this by congratulating your athlete on social media, I am sure no one will figure out that you are just using your client to pat yourself on the back. And if one of your athletes has a bad day?? Well, you better fucking ghost that client, at least in your social media relationship, because you would not want that associated with your reputation. Obviously, that athlete was uncoachable.

3) The Ultra Beard loses its hipster status. I am not exactly sure what the origins of the ultra beard are, but I am assuming a lot of it has to do with Rob Krar. Ultra running had some inklings of facial fuzz before Rob Krar, and certainly the Boston Red Sox brought the bushy beard into sports way before it caught on in ultra-running, but in 2013, Rob Krar exploded onto the ultra scene and he did it all while wearing a marmot on his face! In fact, his facial hair has so much personality, it even has its own Twitter account! Soon after, it seems like beards became an ultra-running fashion trend. But these days if you head to any ultra in the Pacific Northwest, you would think a big beard and a flannel shirt were required gear for men. Indeed, even my husband Mac has been sporting a beard since March and my husband does not go out of the box. In fact, he doesn’t even like to go near the walls of said box but rather likes to keep his feet planted firmly in the center. This makes him very dependable and agreeable, but I assure you, it does not make him a hipster. In similar fashion, I have two friends that had barely crossed the finish lines of their first 50k’s when they started growing ultra-beards. The ultra-beard may not be going out of style, but it has definitely lost its hipster, cutting edge status. Now it seems everybody and their mother, er, I mean, father has a beard.

4) Finish Line Celebrations need to start carding. This past year there were a lot of big performances by underaged runners. Ford Smith took the title at Black Canyon, Andrew Miller set the Bighorn course record and won the Georgia Death Race, Jared Hanzen raced Lake Sonoma and Western States like a grizzled vet and Ashley Erba had a stellar run at Lake Sonoma. When I was their age, I spent most of my free time shopping and making mix tapes. I guess Amazon and MP3s have freed up a lot of time for ultra training. As more and more “kids” get into ultra-running, race directors may have to monitor the distribution of finish line beverages a bit more closely. But that should be easy least for the men: just look for the few runners without beards!

5) On the flip side, 50 doesn’t even count as old. You are doing ultras in your 50’s?? Big whoop-de-do! 50 year olds are still tearing it up. Anita Ortiz, Connie Gardner, Joe Fejes, Jean Pommier, Meghan Arbogast, and Bev Anderson-Abs are just a few examples of quinquagenarians still kicking butt. How about 60 year old Mark Richtman throwing down 3:34 50k at Desert Solstice; the extremely emotional and inspirational finish of 71 year old Gunhild Swanson at Western States; or 80 year old Bill Dodson crawling across the finish line at Caumsett 50k? To those guys, 50 year olds are still young whipper-snappers. iRunFar  estimates 20% of ultra runners are now over age 50, meaning it is hardly an anomaly any more. In fact, it makes 50 seem like it isn't so old at all - which sounds really good, as it is getting ever closer for me!

6) The more things change the more things stay the same. Ultra running has exploded in popularity, there’s more money in the sport, and races are getting more coverage and more hype. Yes, there are growing pains - like what to do about drug testing and convicted cheats - but at the core, ultrarunning still remains a group of likeminded people out to enjoy the beauty of nature and to test their limits in endurance.

Ok, so what other trends were there for 2015?


Hope you had a great year and have lots of great adventures planned for 2016!