Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mad City Madness - 100km National Championship Race Report

(Sorry for the tardiness on this one. Blogging has been on the back burner lately, or more accurately, off the stove altogether. Why didn't anyone warn me that Little League and kids softball would eat up every spare minute of your life?!? As if I had tons of extra time to spare!)

My experiences on the US 100km team have been nothing short of amazing and it has been a privilege to be on the team these past three years (even though Worlds were cancelled last year). Worlds are my surrogate Olympics and they excite me in exactly the same way. Nothing makes me feel more patriotic than wearing ‘USA’ on my chest and representing this country in international competition. For those reasons it was a high priority for me to get back on the team for 2014. The best opportunity to qualify was at Mad City, which also serves as the USATF National Championships.

I am happy to say I not only secured an automatic team spot but I also picked up my first national championship title! Yes, I know many of the top ultra-runners were at Lake Sonoma and even more don’t care about road racing at all, so the race wasn’t super competitive, but I am still pretty excited about the title, especially since I have been second or third at a USATF national championship five times without winning! I have a little bit less enthusiasm for my overall race performance, though. To coin my own Yogi Berra-ism, my race was “90% perfect.” ;) Nine out of the ten 10k loops went great, but lap 9 was a big fat F, total failure! I think the splits sum things up quite nicely:

45:50, 45:11, 45:03, 45:50, 45:56, 46:02, 47:22, 54:30, 46:46 (some of the lap 8 time should actually be on lap 9 (explained below) so lap 8 isn’t that far off pace and lap 9 was even worse than this shows)

While there weren’t a lot of big name ultra-runners in the women’s race, I was excited because there were two fast roadies entered: super-star marathoner Camille Herron and Amy Halselth, whose one ultra was a 6:19 50 miler. There was plenty of room on the team for all three of us, so I never had to worry about losing my spot as long as I ran decently, but I thought adding some unknown (to me) runners with obviously very different strengths than mine would make the race really interesting. But Camille decided ultra-running wasn’t her priority right now and took a DNS. That left me and Amy as the main contenders.

We hit mile one in what felt like a very comfortable 7:30, but the first mile is always very comfortable! Amy said she hadn’t wanted to run faster than 8 minutes for the first mile, but she didn’t back off at all. In fact, she seemed to be hitching the pace up, little by little.

Ultra-runners frequently say things like “I just want to run my own race”. It’s a good concept: run to your own abilities and don’t get caught up with what other people are doing. I thought about dropping back a bit, but I knew I could bonk hard and still make the team. I had a little strategy pow-wow inside my head as we started lap 2: It seemed a bit fast, but still comfortable. And I didn’t really want Amy to get a big gap, because even though I didn’t have to win, I still wanted to win. And I always start so conservatively, I thought it'd be good to test myself. Besides, I figured I had experience on my side and knew how to trouble-shoot or push through rough patches. So I committed to staying with Amy and I tucked in and followed for a lap.
The early miles - keeping pace with Amy Halseth
The loop has a few rolling hills (120’ gain per loop!!) with the biggest hill around 2.5 miles from the start. On lap 3, I pulled a step ahead on the hill: excelling at douche grade can come in handy sometimes!! At the top of the hill there are two fairly tight turns that allow an easy glance behind without too much contortion. By lap 4, Amy was about 50 yards back. By loop 5 she was 100 yards back and I was feeling good that I was maintaining pace and putting a little cushion on my lead.

Just jogging around the lake a time or two...or ten
After the 50k (3:47), the cumulative miles became noticeable; the pace got a bit harder to maintain and the mile splits were slowing, but only so slightly. By the second half, the winds were really picking up and there were strong in-your-face gusts along the lake on the back half which added to the fatigue for slower splits. But I couldn’t see Amy behind me at all on the hill for laps 6,7, and 8. I figured she was close, but at the end of lap 8, I wanted to know exactly. USA team member Carolyn Smith and her sister Cindy were out to cheer and help and so I asked, “How far is the gap to second?”

“About an hour,” they answered back.

“What??! How far, really?” I needed the truth, not silly jokes!

“Really, it’s about an hour. Maybe more,” they replied.

“Amy was right behind me.”

“Amy dropped. You’ve already lapped second place. We can get the exact split for you next time, but it’s around an hour.”

It was seemingly good news, but it robbed me of all my race day focus, tenacity and toughness. I was relieved, but the relief somehow let me acknowledge the tiredness and stop pushing it out of my mind. I stopped at the aid station and just stared at everything there, looking for some panacea for fatigue. And the Coke was calling to me like Alice in Wonderland: “Drink me!” I stood there and downed three glasses even though I know caffeine is not my friend. But I didn’t have too much longer and 9 ounces of Coke isn’t such a big deal right? After 30 seconds or so, I set off at a slow pace. “Well I can just jog it in,” I thought to myself. (Since the AS was right before the start/finish mat, the AS time actually got recorded as part of lap 8, but I consider it to be part of the whole lap 9 demise).

My first mile was more than 30 seconds slower than any other mile up to that point. I realized that was a little pathetic and tried to pick it up a bit. And then the Coke had a certain effect with 2.5 miles to the next bathroom! There were a few trees here and there, but at this point the course was along a golf course and through a residential area, and, well, squatting behind a tree just didn’t seem right. And honestly, I didn't care. I settled back into jog pace till I got to the AS at mile 3.8 on the loop. No doubt I needed to stop, but I fully admit that I didn’t attend to business with any sort of haste. And then I walked the 100 or so meters back to the aid station and again stood there looking for food. At least this time I was smart enough to go for the caffeine free ginger ale! I put back three more cups of soda plus six orange quarters, again without any alacrity or particular attention to time, and I just jogged my way out.

When I got back to the start/finish, Carolyn and Cindy assured me that I did indeed have more than an hour lead. “You could just walk it in, and you’ll win.” I am not sure if all the sugar finally kicked in or if the idea of walking it in just seemed too absurd, but right then it was like my racing brain turned back on. I didn’t want to walk it in or even just jog. Part of starting fast was to test myself, and with an hour+ lead, there was no safer place to test myself. Bam - the fire was back! I chugged two cups of ginger ale and was out there, falling in right around 7:35 pace.

Certainly my legs were tired, but halfway around the lake, I felt like it would’ve been well within me to have kept that pace for lap 9, too. I finished with a 6:50 last mile “kick” - proof to myself that I could finish strong, but also further confirmation that I wasn’t totally spent. Of course, I made it no more than 100 yards from the finish line before I slumped to the ground and lay in the grass and dirt like a pig for the next half hour before getting up, so you could say there was some fatigue there!

See? I still have enough energy to start the "YMCA" dance.

Overall it was a good race. I took two weeks off after Rocky Raccoon and didn’t start training again until Feb 17. I thought it’d be a pretty good day if I could break 8:00, so 7:47 was way ahead of expectations. But Dakota Jones said in his Buffalo Stampede race report that complacency is the ultimate flaw (that kid is wise beyond his years!). I definitely feel like I suffered some complacency out there, and that disappoints me. I think having a deeper field would have helped a lot, but still it feels like it fell short of my best effort. And learning that I was only 80 seconds off the course record makes the sting a little worse. Unfortunately, I never ever had the course record on my mind, and I feel confident (in retrospect) that with a little more focus, I had it in me. I absolutely think a great effort/great race is better than a great place and this one feels like I “settled” for the win, instead of putting forth a great effort the whole time. I also know the nutrition wasn't perfect, and I don't like that either. The first six laps went really well drinking half an Ultimate Direction handheld full of Perpetuem and then dropping the bottle off at the next aid station. Unfortunately, the bottles were mixed ahead, there wasn't any ice, and I got sick of warm Perpetuem really quickly. After lap six I think I got a little behind on calories, which probably has a lot to do with why I wanted the Coke so badly and also why my head got out of it a bit. If I had known I was going to have such awesome crew, I think bringing another flavor or getting Carolyn and Cindy to add ice would have helped a lot.

So not a perfect race, but I am trying not to be too hard on myself because I am happy with my overall fitness right now and I am very glad to be joining team USA again this year. There won’t be any complacency in Qatar!
"Sure you can take my picture, as long as I don't have to stand up!" That is grass all over me,  because I was laying in it  with my legs on the car bumper about two minutes earlier!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Nutrition, Part 2: Race Nutrition (Reporter Style!)

A few weeks ago (ok months, give me a break!), I gave you Your Perfect Nutrition Plan for daily living and promised a Part 2 relating to race day nutrition. I know you have been as eager as a 13 year old girl waiting for Justin Beiber to come to town (or in our house, Taylor Swift), but the wait is finally over! And just for kicks (mostly mine), I am breaking it down reporter style: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of race day Nutrition, particularly as it relates to ultras.

WHO needs to eat during a race?

The average person has enough stored glycogen to last for about 90 minutes of low to moderate intensity exercise. Well trained individuals may be able to go longer than this due to increased metabolic efficiency. However, the higher one’s intensity, the greater the demands the body has for glucose, such that at race paces you’ll bonk a lot quicker than you would if you were just going out for an easy run. So anyone racing longer than an hour should consider taking in some calories during the race and I would definitely recommend some race nutrition for anyone going longer than 90 minutes.

WHAT should you eat?

There are dozens of sports nutrition companies trying to convince you that their product has the ideal mix of nutrients to fuel you to your best ever performance. Certainly, these companies have put a lot of research into their formulas and if they have been around for a few years, you can feel pretty confident that they have a good product. However, it doesn’t matter how perfect the product is if you won’t eat it! I am a firm believer that the best thing to eat during a race is something that you know you WILL eat. For example, I pretty much know that I have about a four gel per day max. After that - gag fest! If you can’t eat a gel, but you can eat jelly beans all day, eat jelly beans and don’t despair that you aren’t eating a true sports nutrition product. Certainly, your body is burning a lot of glucose while running, so you want to choose carbohydrate rich foods, but the junk food aisle of your supermarket can make for great running fuel, too (and is usually much cheaper). I ran a world record fueled almost entirely by orange soda. And when I was having stomach issues at Run Rabbit Run due to the altitude, soda and a box of Red Vines got me through the final 60 miles! I really think WHAT you eat is not that important, as long as you actually DO keep eating. I often find that even when my stomach is OK, I still just don’t want to eat, or that some foods make me gag. Having new food options can help; listen to your body and eat what you are craving. And for gagging, you can find things that dissolve if you chew them like gum (pretzels, saltines, animal crackers, etc. can all be eaten without truly swallowing if you chew long enough).

WHEN should you eat?

Before a big race I have a standard pre-race breakfast: two packs of instant oatmeal (maple and brown sugar), a banana, a bottle of sports drink, and an Ensure (chocolate, please!). It’s about 700 calories and almost all carbs. I have a pretty strong stomach, so I can eat 2 hours before a race and be fine, though  know a lot of people prefer three hours ahead. During a hundred miler, I’ll start eating 20 minutes in and try to keep eating every 20 minutes from there on out, aiming for about 200 calories/hour. I think constant small boluses are easier on the stomach than trying to cram in a whole bunch of calories at once.

WHERE should you eat?

Most trail races have at least some variation in terrain and certain types of terrain are more conducive to eating than others. When I first started running ultras, I used to try to eat on the uphills because the slower pace made it easier to fumble with packs and wrappers without tripping. But now that I am racing harder, I find it is easier on my stomach and my breathing if I eat during times of lower heart rate, so I usually eat on downhills or smooth flat sections. Technical trail running does not come naturally to me, so I don’t eat as much when the trail gets rough, because I need all of my concentration for my footing. As you might expect, aid stations are great places to eat, but not just because of the food availability. Even in those few seconds when you are waiting for your bottle to be filled, your heart rate will come down making it easier to digest food. For this reason, I often will finish off whatever I have on me right before I get to the aid station and then use the aid station to resupply for the next section.

WHY should you eat during long races?

Ok, the simple answer: running burns a lot of calories and you need fuel to keep your muscles functioning.

To dive into things a bit deeper, oxidation of carbohydrates, fats and proteins produces energy (remember ATP from Bio 101?) that can be used to contract muscle fibers. Muscle glycogen is mobilized and oxidized quickly, whereas fats are mobilized and oxidized slowly. Both ultimately produce the same amount of energy, but it takes a lot longer to make that energy with fats. Only carbohydrates can be mobilized and oxidized fast enough to produce enough energy to sustain high intensity exercise. But we only have about 1500 calories worth of energy stored as muscle glycogen - definitely not enough to fuel an entire ultramarathon. Once the muscle glycogen is gone, the body has to rely on oxidation of fat for energy (protein contributes minimally). Since fatty oxidation is slower, the pace we can maintain when only using fat drops. This is “bonking” or “hitting the wall.” Note that when you do bonk, though, you still have plenty of energy to keep you moving forward, you just have to do so at a slower pace. If you slow down enough to match energy use with energy production, this switch to fat use isn’t uncomfortable. The problem is that most people who sign up for a race are trying to push themselves to some extent, even if they aren’t trying to win, and that “bonk” pace may be a slow walking pace - not what most people want to do in a race situation. But trying to maintain a pace without enough energy is very uncomfortable and you won’t get very far!

That’s where race day nutrition comes in! By eating high carbohydrate foods, we are giving our bodies more glucose to utilize for energy production. One other note: endurance training will increase your ability to mobilize and oxidize fatty acids for use, thus reducing the rate at which you burn through your muscle glycogen. Some athletes employ a low carb diet hoping to enhance this effect (not getting into that subject here!). However, we still need carbohydrates to run at the highest intensity for extended periods of time. This is why you’ll still see all the low carb athletes eating lots of carbs during races. Bottom line: efficient fat metabolism may slow the depletion of muscle glycogen, but in long races at high intensity, carbohydrate intake is still needed to keep the engine running.

HOW do you eat during races?

This past summer I crewed at three major mountain 100’s and had the opportunity to see how many different runners were doing throughout the day, and I would say GI issues were the most common problem runners faced during theses races. I saw someone vomit as early as 20 miles in and many more complained of stomach issues before they even hit the marathon mark, many of these runners stating that they never have GI issues in training, even when running 30 miles or more. So why are stomach issues so much worse on race day?

In order for the GI tract to process food, there needs to be a good blood supply to the GI tract, both to bring it the energy it needs to process the food and to whisk away all the newly absorbed nutrients. When you exercise, your muscles demand more blood and your GI tract gets less, so the GI tract works less efficiently. And while you may have no problems eating in training, there are
often many factors on race day that are quite different than your normal training routine such as anxiety, running intensity, heat, humidity, and altitude, all of which can further detract blood from the GI tract. However, my personal opinion is that many people go into a "Food Frenzy Panic Mode" on race day and this is a major cause of race day GI distress.

Ok, so what do I mean? Basically there are two possible race day eating catastrophes that lie on completely opposite ends of the spectrum: Don’t eat enough and you will bonk; Eat too much and you will have stomach distress. If you have stomach distress during a race, it doesn’t matter what quantity of food and liquid you have actually eaten, it is too much for your stomach to process at that point. If you aren’t having stomach issues, bonking is a relatively quick fix: ingest a bunch of sugary foods and in a relatively quick time your energy levels will return. People bonk and rebound all the time in races. It isn’t ideal; but it usually isn’t race ending. Stomach issues are the much bigger evil: if you are vomiting, you lose fuel and liquids but you have no way to replace them as long as your stomach keeps expelling what you put in. This can be a deal breaker.

And yet, it seems to me that many people start ultras trying to eat and drink as much as their stomach can hold. I am not sure if this is a fear of the distance: “I need to eat and drink a lot if I am going to make it to the finish,” or if this is a fear of future stomach issues: “I know I am going to feel bad late in the race, so I better eat as much as I can now.” I think a lot of people try to focus on getting in the maximum number of calories per hour, especially early in a race. Often this means they take in a lot more calories in the first hours of a race then they would in training. But the goal of taking in the maximum number of calories per hour comes with a high risk of over-fueling and setting the stomach off, particularly as I think the amount the stomach can process decreases as a race goes on (due to dehydration, damage to stomach lining, etc.), such that this early feeding frenzy can actually be the cause of stomach issues and the reason people get stomach problems earlier in races than they do in training.

In my opinion, one should aim to get by on the minimal amount possible (or just above), rather than trying to consume the maximum amount possible. It has been said that you can't put time in the bank for ultras; the same philosophy applies to eating: don't try to put calories in the bank for later in the race. Erring on the side of too few calories has easy to recognize warning signs and is easy to fix. Erring on the side of eating too much early on can be a lot harder to fix. That being said, if you do get into stomach troubles, STOP EATING! If you feel bloated, “sloshy”, nauseated (or are vomiting), it’s because your stomach is behind in processing. Try taking a few electrolyte caps to help process liquids, and then CHILL! Your stomach needs time to process what’s already in it. Adding more food/liquid will only make the situation worse. Ironically, vomiting can help tremendously because it immediately clears the backlog. If you have a stomach full of calories and liquid, you don’t need to worry about bonking/dehydration for the short term as your body is still absorbing these things. If your stomach is in a pretty bad place, I’d recommend going a whole hour without ingesting anything and then start adding back slowly. If you do vomit, avoid the second wave of "Feeding Panic": “OMG, I just threw up everything I ate so now I need to make up for lost calories!” Start back slowly, and aim for a lower hourly intake than you started with. Also, consider switching foods: sodas tend to be good for wonky stomachs, gels have a lot of calories for a very small volume (good if you are very bloated but still able to keep things down), a different drink mix may work better for you late in a race, etc. If you continuously have GI problems, you should reconsider your over-all fueling plan. Don't keep doing the same thing expecting different results.

Training with lower calorie intake can help you get comfortable with what your minimal requirements are. If you do get too low and bonk, think of it as good practice on what to do for race day and see how you can rebound from this situation. Hopefully, with this kind of training, you can have the confidence to avoid the "Food Frenzy Panic Mode" on race day.

Hopefully the "Who, What, Where, When, Why and How" of race day nutrition will help you get through your next big race!
"Screw gels - I am going straight for the Red Vines!"

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ultra Mother-Daughter Bonding

Ok, so lots of people gave me feedback on the utility of the Buff. I especially like the ice-in-the-Buff idea. Whatever you like to get you out the door and enjoying nature is good by me (I am still not saying I’ll wear one!). But am I wrong, or do Buffs seem to be fairly specific to trail runners?? Anyway, enough fooling around; on to more serious running numerous 1 mile laps around a lake with my daughter. You can find her version of the story here.

The weekend of March15-16 I had the pleasure of participating in the Pacific Rim 24 hour run. But this wasn't just another race for me - this was an ultra I got to run with my nine year old daughter Megan! And it was my 50th ultra to boot!

The race is more like a strange cult running event that seems to draw many of the same participants year after year and comes complete with its own whacky leader in RD Fred "Wildman" Willet.  A lot of people remembered Megan from last year when she did 27 miles. In fact, at this race Megan is the super star and I am an ultra-nobody! At one point I was running a lap without Megan and mentioned I was there with my daughter and my companion asked, “Oh, are you the mom?” I love it; yes, I am the Mom!

The race gives sweatshirts out to anyone completing at least 50k, but Fred must've had a soft spot for Megan last year, because he gave her one for completing her first ultra-marathon at 27 miles. But right at race start he made it really clear that she wasn't going to get off so easy this year as pretty much the first thing he said to her was: "You're not a rookie anymore, so if you want the sweatshirt, you have to do the full 50k!" No problem - that was Megan's goal all along. My goal was just to be with Megan, but I was hoping I could sneak in a few extra laps to get a 50 mile weekend.
#50 - For 50K!
Though we were basically duplicating everything we did last year, things seemed a lot different. First off was the weather - Saturday was beautiful compared to last year's horrible storms. It made it a lot easier to be out in the park. But the real difference was Megan. She still had the same fierce determination, but she seemed so much more mature this year. Sure she did about a hundred cartwheels during the race, but she just seemed less silly. Last year, I made a feeble attempt to tell her about Sacajawea (since we were running around Lake Sacajawea); this year she told me the entire history of Lewis and Clark and how Sacajawea was taken from her tribe as a baby and raised by another tribe. She told me how Clark helped deliver Sacajawea's son, John Baptiste, and later Clark helped raise the boy. She said Sacajawea was married to a fur trapper, but she didn't remember his name, but it was something like "Frenchie-French-Frenchman" and she laughed at her joke (actually Toussaint Charbanneau, which is pretty much the same as "Frenchie-French-Frenchman" if you ask me). And she matter-of-factly told me all about Lewis committing suicide three years after the trip. I grew up in California and grade school history was all about the gold rush not Lewis and Clark so I wasn’t just running with my daughter but learning all kinds of history. I have to admit, I wasn’t always the best student. I constantly made jokes about Uranus when we past the plaque of Neptune that showed directions to Uranus (the park has plaques of the planets around the perimeter, but Uranus wasn’t on the course. Good thing because we don’t want to see Uranus while we are running an ultra! -hahaha!) And when Megan told me Lewis had a black Newfoundland dog named “Seaman” that liked to hunt beaver...well, I just about lost it! Is it bad that my nine year old is more mature than me?? (Well, she is very mature for her age...)
There was one sidewalk section. Apparently this means you should cartwheels.
Megan’s approach to the race was very different this year as well. Last year she ran and rested based on when she got tired or when it rained, but this year she had plans, and strategies. I swear I had no input when she said she wanted to do 32 miles so that she could beat all the people that stopped at 50k and she told me I had to do 51 miles both to match my bib number (#51!) and to beat all the people who stopped at 50 miles. That one extra lap bumped me from 9th female to 6th!

Oh, it was serious alright! There were training plans and race strategies! 

While many people question the sanity of running a looped course or think it might be boring, what you lack in stimulation from new scenery, you make up for with the much higher interaction with other runners and the people at the one aid station. We got to talk to many people on the course, including speedster Zach Gingerich who just came up from Portland to do a 100 mile training 16:59. My daughter is a huge fan of his after all of their eating contests and how nice he was to always say hi to her or tell her what lap he was on. I have to say I am a fan for the same reason. We could never get that on a standard race course. It was great to share laps with several others, too, including Karl Jansen, who gave Megan such a good lesson on jogging slowly instead of sprinting/walking that I nearly had to sprint a full lap myself to catch them when I stopped to chat at the aid station! And by the end of the event Megan practically had her own cheering section at the aid station. Thank you to the runners and volunteers at Pac Rim for letting Megan and I be part of the cult. These last two years have truly been priceless time spent with my daughter.
My first selfie ever (yes, really!) at the finish of the race  - that's how monumental this was. And Buff fans, take this late entry into the world of selfies as proof that I take a really long time to warm up to new things!
For anybody wondering what your limits are (marathon, 50k, 50M, more???) but you have doubt holding you back, I strongly encourage you to find a timed event and get yourself out there! I think you will surprise yourself. The cost for Pac Rim was $84, which is cheaper than most marathons (and there was much better food!). If for some reason you do have to quit early, you won’t be stranded in some remote area.

Megan didn’t get to 34 miles because she has any special athletic gift; rather she has the childish naivety (and the example of crazy parents) that allowed her to believe it was possible to finish a 50k. Too often people place a mental barrier up delineating what they think they can and can’t do and it prevents them from achieving their maximum potential. I am super proud of Megan but honestly I don’t think she has extraordinary talent. Rather she is a great reminder that ordinary people can do extraordinary things if they believe they can.
I was not at the race to be competitive, but I got this nice orange plaque thanks to Megan's strategizing!
One final funny note: A friend from RWB Camp Eagle named Rob left a comment on Megan's Pac Rim race report. When Megan read it, her eyes lit up and she gasped, "Mom, is it Rob Krar?!" OMG, What have I created??! (Rob, your comment is still appreciated!)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Buff - WTF?!?

We were first introduced to fabric tubes as clothing with the 80’s leg warmer rage. More recently, arm sleeves have taken over the athletic world, so much so that NBA players contesting in indoor climate controlled conditions now wear arm sleeves. Sometimes just on one arm. Oooh, now that’s cool! But even the uni-armed sleeve look is so last year, because athletes  - particularly ultrarunners - have a new fabric tube trend: The Buff.

Sure one sleeve is cool, but if he really wants to be the bomb, he needs a Buff, not a sweatband!

Now back when I was in college, running in the buff meant being naked. Of course, I also thought streaking meant running through the quad without clothes and not some obsessive-compulsive adherence to running at least one mile every day. But I date myself because that was last century. Now a buff refers to an oversized fabric loop, with numerous associated You-tube videos showing the infinite number of genius uses for such a seemingly simple design.

And yet I am left wondering, “Why the hell would ultra-runners want a Buff??” Ok, yes, if you are like some Killian Jornet freak who dances across two mile high mountain peaks where weather can change at any moment and freeze your face off, well, then, yeah, in that case, I get it. But American runners don’t just wear their buffs on high mountain peaks to ward off frost bite; they wear them at races like Way Too Cool and Western States, races you could run in the buff and not be in danger of frostbite! (Nevermind that I was hypothermic at Western States. We all know that was an anomaly and besides, no Buff would have saved me!).

Why have we replaced beanies and the more sensible-sized fleece headbands with some big cloth rag that looks like a turban wrapped around the head?? I don’t get it. But maybe that’s because I have never been a fashionista, especially when it comes to running. I choose my clothes for how they fit and function not how they look. I mean, did you see me at Western States??: A light blue overly worn hat from 2002, a fluorescent green freebie bandana from my kids 100 Mile Club, and a Goodwill cotton T-shirt! At least I had on cute Lululemon shorts, but only because I won them and because Ken Sinclair and Sean Meissner have forbidden me from racing in the shorts I like to call “my dumpy blue shorts.” So, yeah, I really need help when it comes to fashion, but I have watched those You-Tube videos and I still don’t know how I would wear a Buff.

A few years ago, Western States gave out Buffs as part of the schwag. My daugher modeled it as a strapless dress a few times, before I finally used it to wipe up some juice and threw it out. Great uses for my Buff and I didn’t even get them from a video!
Megan rocks a Buff
(Buff-wearers try not to get your fabric tube in a wad, this is all in good April fool’s fun...mostly. :) If you are a Buff die-hard, please feel free to clue me in on what I am missing!)