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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

World's Longest turkey Trot - Completed

On Friday November 29, 2013, through Saturday November 30, 2013, Alfredo Pedro Perro (a/k/a Moose) and I completed the World's Longest Turkey Trot.  We ran 91.5 miles from the Bean at Millenium Park, Chicago, Illinois:


to Milwaukee, WI:


We started at 7:00 a.m. on the 29th running up the lakefront path.  Our friends Melissa Pizarro, Ed Cook and Kim Fitmiss joined us initially.  We were in great spirits and we engaged in plenty of Shenanigans throughout the day:






Over the course of the day Kim, Melissa and Ed headed back to the city leaving Alfredo and I to buckle down and crunch some serious miles before dark.  We were lucky most of the day because we had the wind at our back and the temperature stayed right around 28 degrees.  We had some very long stops to eat  which allowed us to dry off some clothes as well.  We were not in a hurry.

As the night fell and we approached Waukegan, we were joined by pacer extraordinaire (and KM 100 female winner) Shelley Cook!!  We also had some crew assistance from Alfredo's wife Kiki!


It got a bit colder at night, but nothing major.  We had a few moments.  We also struggled to find places that were open for food and drink. We had a major high when we hit the Wisconsin border:


But then a reality check when we realized we had many sad and dark hours of pounding the pavement to go. 

And then the greatest crewperson in the history of man joined us!  Tony Weyers!!!!!


This man saved our lives.  He crewed us for over 12 hours in the cold dark emptiness of the world's flatest and boringest country roads.  He got us shakes and coffee and (cheap imitation) Gatorade.  We would not have finished without him.

I'm not going to lie....during most of the second half of this run we decided it was a bad idea, too much pavement, completely stupid.  Alfredo started with a injury that kept nagging him.  He was a warrior.  The night hours were cold and boring.  Although we heard Shelley Cook's life story due to an unfortunate overcaffination incident, not much happened until the sun came up the next morning and we enjoyed some Racine Danish Kringle.


This picked us up a bit.  Then we had a rather long debate about where to finish.  The Fourth Base is actually in West Milwaukee, and the prospect of running through Milwaukee wasn't attractive to anyone.  So we decided to run till we saw a Milwaukee sign.  And we begged Tony to find the closest Milwaukee sign.  It ended up being 91.5 miles to the sign....and it was 91.5 miles to the Fourth Base too.  Go figure.


As we got closer our friends and family came out to join us.  We actually raced the last 2 miles.  I have NO idea why.  

I want to thank Tony Weyers.  He carried us.  Shelley Cook kept us from losing our minds at night.  Ed Cook, Kim Fitmiss and Melissa Pizarro - thanks for pacing and joining.  To all our family and friends that cheered, followed us on FB and/or sent us messages, you were the reason we didn't quit.

These types of events are hard.  Set aside the fact that we ran 90 plus miles all on pavement in below freezing temps.  The real challenge is that there is no real good reason why.  We were asked that question countless times along the way.  Eventually we started cracking up when people asked.  We never had a good answer.  "Because we said it out loud" didn't make sense to people.  "Because we can" seemed arrogant.  There was no buckle or medal.  It's not on Ultra Signup.  Most people will never know we did it and we have nothing to show for it.  That's the best part.  We just did that.



I ran the entire distance in Hoka Bondi B's.  Most of the Strava Data can be found here (in parts).













Wednesday, November 27, 2013

World's Longest Turkey Trot

My friend Alfredo Pedro Perro needs a 100.  Bad.



So we came up with a crazy idea.  Instead of doing a 5K turkey trot, or shopping till we drop, let's create the World's Longest Turkey Trot!

About six months ago we participated in a senseless and arbitrary run (in the cold and snow) from Napperville, IL to the Bean at Chicago's Millennium Park.  Why?  Because someone said it out loud.


We ran about 32 miles and had a fantastic time.  When it was over we decided that the run would have to be played forward at some point to a new location.  It had to be EPIC.  

Fast forward to this Turkey Trot idea.  We knew we wanted to run FROM the Bean.  But the question remained....Where To?

Well, Alfredo is itching for a 100.  I am from Milwaukee.  A friend of mine once joked that I could run there.  BAM.  Let's go from Chicago to Milwaukee!!  



We will be doing this pretty much unsupported starting from the Bean at 7:00 a.m. on Black Friday.  We are going to have some friends start with us and meet us along the way.  I will be sure to post plenty of pictures. 

We will end at the Fourth Base in West Milwaukee - a bar I used to cook at.  



We should be arriving there between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon on Saturday.  If you live in Milwaukee follow us on Facebook or #worldslongestturkeytrot and come join us afterwards to celebrate.

I guarantee whether we make it or not, we will have a good time.  Who knows...maybe Dovi will join us for some miles.

If you say it out loud you have to at least TRY to do it!





Monday, November 18, 2013

DNF


People are going to call me an asshole.  

I wanted to write about my feelings and experiences with the phrase DNF.  Some people think DNF is a dirty word in the running and/or ultra-running world.  Some people think it means someone is weak.  Some people believe it means the runner "did nothing fatal."  After a post about a DNF on social media you will often see scores of compliments, accolades and encouragement.  Some people are very embarassed about the fact that they DNF'ed.  Some see it as a badge of honor.  Someone I deeply admire once told me that you know you have arrived as an ultra runner when you 1) finish a 100 mile race; 2) DNF a 100 mile race; and 3) throw up during a 100 mile race, and still finish.  So what is a "DNF"?  At its simplest level it is an acronym for a very simple phrase:

 Did not finish.

If you run ultramarathons long enough there is a very good chance you will at one point or another fail to finish a race.  If you start a race and fail to finish a race it is a DNF.  Period.  (and if you just doubted this "BUT....." please know...everything after the "BUT" is bullshit).

I'm going to state the obvious.  Running Ultramarathons is hard.  A lot can go wrong.  The race may last a half of a day or several days.  It may be 31 miles or hundreds of miles.  During the course of these events many people routinely: get lost; stop having fun; feel immense amounts of pain;  get stuck in snow/rain/extreme cold/extreme heat/extreme humidity/rain storms/hail/sleet etc.  Moreover, people get Injured (meaning they suffer an objective and identifiable trauma to their body that generally requires medical attention)(i.e. took a header and are gushing blood).  Or sometimes they get "Injured" (meaning something hurts in the moment which is generally normal when you run for ultramarathon distances but no medical attention needed)(i.e. "my knee issue started acting up").  We also get tired.  We give up.  We quit on ourselves.  We get sick.  We decide "we're not having fun anymore"  We get pulled from the course by race officials for taking too long or appearing to be injured.  

If you run ultramarathons long enough you will experience one or more of these phenomena.  Depending on how you feel on any given day you might seccumb to these and make the decision to stop running.  Conversely, you might fight through them and continue and hopefully finish the race.  A race official could make the decision for you and pull you.  Each and every one of these can result in exactly the following outcome:

You did not finish.

I've DNF'ed twice.  Once I was a complete wimp, didn't respect the distance and gave up on myself.  (KM 100).  In the other, I broke my toe (Farmdale 50).  In both instances I did not finish.  Neither felt good.  One felt humiliating.  Life went on.

I can promise you that if you run for a very long distance a voice in your head might try to convince you to give up.  That voice can be extremely convincing.  What might seem like a soreness can turn into a "possible stress fracture."  It's not hard to decide that you "don't want to jeopardize the rest of your racing season."  If you run long enough every single adverse condition listed above will hit you.  Whether or not someone seccumbs to them and DNF's is a personal decision.

Nonetheless, know this.  If you get on the start line and attempt to run an ultramarathon you are attempting to do something most people can never imagine doing and that is admirable.  You are, to some extent a badass.  If you DNF you aren't a wimp, or a loser, or a failure.  You're no better or worse than anyone else.  You just couldn't finish today.  There's no better reason.  Don't try to justify it.  Just take it for what it is:

You did not finish.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

PRODUCTS I USE

PRODUCTS I USE


I have several go-to products that I use for racing and heavy training that I want to promote.  They really helped me and I want you to know how, and what they can do for you.  I haven't received anything in exchange for doing this.  (though I would love to in the future).  I will continue to use these products even if the company in question makes fun of me.  (I am talking about you HOKA). 

1.     Hoka One One Shoes


I run almost exclusively in Hokas.  I have been for a little over a year.  The first time I saw them was at the North Country 50 last August.  My niece pointed them out to me and said "you should have shoes like that!"  I bought a pair of Stinson Tarmac's (shown above on the left) for the Chicago Lakefront 50/50 which I was going to run the 50 mile option, all on pavement.  I was shocked at how soft they were.  I should caution than for the first few weeks while I was breaking them in I was sore in the hips in a way that I had not been previously sore before.  Nonetheless, my legs, knees and hips felt great.  I ran a 8:22 at that race.

I had originally decided that I would keep a pair of Hokas "in my toolbox" for long races.  That was a lie.  Once I ran in Hokas I couldn't go back.  With very rare exception I always run in Hokas.

I use the Stinson Tarmac for road running and very easy trails.  They are my favorite shoe and I wear them whenever possible.  I can get around 500 miles out of them, after which I still use them for short dog jogs until they scream out for retirement.

For medium trails, or for easy trails in snow or mud I wear the Stinson Trail (pictured above right).  I wore these exclusively for the Superior Trail 100.  I can get around 700 miles out of these shoes.

I also have a pair of Bondi B's which I wear for shorter road races and a pair of Mufate's which I wear on gnarly trails and in deeper snow.  I enjoy both, but the two pictured above are the ones I must have.

I have not suffered a major injury since I started wearing Hokas.  I have run about 3,000 miles in them and so far I can report that I have not noticed one bad thing about them.  If you ever want to be my best friend for life buy me a pair of Hokas:)



I have ugly feet.  (See previous blog entries).  I am prone to black toenails, calluses and other conditions.  It is a constant struggle to try to keep my feet in a good running condition.  The best solution I have found to date is the use of Injinji toe socks.  I know that they feel weird.  They are hard to get used to.  The are also hard to put on and take off....especially after running for several hours.  Nonetheless, I swear by them and they are worth every penny.

3.  Vitargo



I try to eat as low carb as possible.  I also avoid refined sugar when I am following my eating plan.  Nonetheless, when I run more than 50 miles I use Vitargo.  When added to water it makes a very thick drink that is a little unpleasant to get down the first time.  It is also a little tricky to mix.  This video helps with that:




when I drink a Vitargo it feels like I have been awoken from a death march (which is usually the case).  I have a sustained boost of energy, but most importantly, it feels like I have new legs...or at least revived muscles in my old ones.  I drink a Vitargo shake every ten or so miles after 50 miles.  I have never thrown it up and it has always helped.



I became very tired of Gells and Gu's while I was still running marathon distances.  The sugar and the sweetness didn't really agree with me.  To this day I avoid them unless I have no choice or I am in a strange circumstance.  When I am following my standard eating plan I avoid refined carbohydrates and sugars.  As such, I spent some time looking for a food that I could use like a Gell or Gu that was all natural and tasted good.  When I discovered these 1.15 oz. packets of almond butter I was in heaven.  They come in several flavors if you have a sweet tooth (chocolate, honey, maple and vanilla).  They also make a peanut butter and hazelnut butter.  This is good clean fuel that makes me run better and feel better than sticking sugar in my system.  As an added bonus Dovi LOVES them too....so if we get lost I have nutrition for him as well.  I highly recommend trying them, even if you are not on a carbohydrate restrictive eating plan.

5.  Arc'teryx




I use Arc'Teryx base layers, jackets, gloves and hats.  Their products are a little more expensive, but every single thing I have bought from them is awesome!  I especially like their cold weather gear.  My Arc'Teryx jackets have saved my life on the cold winter trails.



Monday, October 14, 2013

SUPPORTING OTHERS


My blog has been quiet for some time because I have been recovering, taking it easy and because I have had a lot on my mind.  I recently proposed some changes to my ultra running group and I was a bit surprised and disappointed by the responses of many of them.  This weekend reminded me of one of the main things that attracts me to ultra running as opposed to road running.  We support each other.

This weekend I had the opportunity to run in the Farmdale 50 in southern Illinois.  Due to the government shutdown the race had to be changed to a new location at the last minute.  An unknown course.  Bow hunters near the race.  7 loops instead of 5.  No one cared.  People actually showed up to register on race day in spite of these "complications."

My friends Katerina Claiborne and Tony Silvestri were going to be attempting their first 50 mile race at Farmdale.  It was a blast to ride down with them and listen to their concerns, fears and excitement about tackling a new and challenging distance in unknown conditions.  I got to share my pre-race podcast with them and work out a good race strategy.  They both rolled with the punches, they didn't get psyched out, they dove headfirst into the unknown.  They impressed me greatly.

The vibe at Farmdale was unbelievable.  Good people, good friends and a great trail.  My friend Paul Wilkerson spent the day manning the only aid station (often by himself) and I know that without him neither Kat nor Tony would have made it to the finish.  It was a bit warm and and trail seemed a bit difficult to me.  I had a three-fold tragedy involving some late night Olive Garden, some friends (and RD's) who kept me up wayyyyy too late and a toe that went black and blue.

Ouch.

I pulled out at mile 30 with a  DNF.  It did not bother me one bit.  I kept true to my promise to myself during Farmdale - no more suffering in 2013.  I located my bag of Cheetos, my M&M's and my lawn chair and I plunked myself at the finish line to spend the next five hours cheering for other runners.

Let me digress for a second to tell you about my last DNF.  Kettle Moraine 100 in June 2013.  I quit that race (purportedly) because: 1) I wasn't having fun; 2) I had nothing to prove; and 3) I didn't have a good enough reason to finish.  This is of course all total BS.  I was a selfish wimp.  To add insult to injury I committed one of the cardinal sins of ultra running.  I left.  I missed seeing my friends finish.  Some of them finishing their first 100 mile race.  I can tell you honestly in retrospect that the second biggest regret in my running career was pulling out of that race.  The biggest regret - was not being at that finish line.  I don't think I will ever forgive myself for that.

Some of the friends I abandoned at KM 100.  

Tony and Kat both had heroic performances.  They both finished their first 50 miler.  I am so glad I was there to help and to cheer.

Tony Silvestri - 50 Mile finisher


Katerina Claiborne - 50 Mile finisher!

 You both knock me out!

Sunday I spent watching the Chicago Marathon.   I had a total of 37 people on my list to cheer for.  I did not see them all, but I was glad to see as many as I did.  I am proud of all of those who tried, who finished and who couldn't because of injury.

I am extremely proud of my best friend Aaron German.  He has been training his ass off for a year on the lakefront path with the hope of finishing sub 3 hours.  I was reading a book by Tim Noakes the week of the marathon which took the position that telling someone they CAN do something increases their chances of doing so.  On Friday I did the unthinkable.  I told Aaron he would run 2:50-2:55.  He ran a 2:53.  Although I  didn't run one step I am still calling that an assist.  Good job Aaron....you knock me out.

I still have a lot on my mind.  Many people didn't bother to go out and cheer for the runners.  Many people finished Farmdale, picked up their award, and went home.   I saw a lot of litter on the trail.  We cannot turn into a sport for the selfish or the self-absorbed.  What I love about this sport is that we realize that we can't do it alone.  The race doesn't happen without the RD's.  No one could finish the distance without the AS volunteers.  We need pacers, and crew members and donations and volunteers.  We need people to stick around and cheer.  We need to teach newcomers about the traditions and culture of this sport.  We are a community and a family.  Once we lose that, everything that is special about this sport is gone forever.  These is nothing more disappointing to me than a self absorbed runner.  ESPECIALLY when it is me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

QUALIFIED!
SUPERIOR TRAIL 100 RACE REPORT 



This weekend I took a major step toward my goal of participating in the Hardrock 100 by completing the Superior Trail 100.  It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life physically and mentally.  It tested every fiber in my being and almost broke me.

The weekend started with a long 9 hour drive from Chicago to Gooseberry Falls, MN.  I listened to my standard podcast (4 Keys to race Execution - from Trail Runner Nation).  It contains some of the best advice on how to approach a race ever.  My wife (and crew chief) Kylia Kummer knows the podcast by heart and she feeds me lines from it throughout the race.  "Run with the mayor" (a/k/a don't get wrapped up in the speed in the beginning); "In the first half don't be an idiot, in the second half don't be a wimp"; "Stay in your box"; "Get to the Line"; and remember "that one thing."  It reminds me of the importance of mental preparation and having a race strategy.


When we arrived in town Thursday we had some good pre-race food with all of my friends that were doing the race.  Our group had about 15 or so people in total.  Then we hit the mandatory pre-race meeting where we received some great final instructions and got a chance to see the shwag.  The meeting was exceptional and informative.  We learned of the history of the race, details concerning the course and course markings.  I did not do any drop bags (pre-made bags of gear that are placed at points on the course) because I had a crew.  This took a lot of stress out of that day.

Pre-race briefing
Kick ass trophies

After the meeting we took the LONG drive from the start to the finish, where our resort was.  We were welcomed by a sign that indicated Bears had been accessing the garbage.  That was a nice thing to think about.  As usual I placed my number on my shorts, laid out all my clothes and got a very sound night's sleep.

Alfredo Pedro Perro and I woke up at 5 and were out the door by 5:30.  We then took a very long bus ride in the dark to the race start.  On these types of rides you hear people talk about their plans, their fears, their strategies and other random rumors they have heard.  It seems like the people that have been there before sleep.  I think Alfredo and I just wanted to get running.

Alfredo, Paul, Paul and I a the start.


We received some last minute instructions at the start:



And then we were off.

I was prepared for two things in this race....beauty and difficulty.  It delivered on both, more than I ever imagined.  The first 20 or so miles Alfredo and I stuck together and took it easy, trying to run at about a 12 minute pace.  The trail had single track dirt, some gravel fire roads and complete BS gnarliness.  Often times we were basically climbing up boulders to an overlook.  Other times we were hopping rock to rock on top of rocks the size of a head.  There were roots everywhere.  And at one point the entire ground consisted of loose flat rocks that slid around under your feet.  When I was asked in the aid station what the trail was like I said "unimaginable."  For those first 20 miles I felt like I was sure to fail, that this must have been an evil trick and I was really angry.  I should say that during these miles I passed over and next to magnificent waterfalls that blew my mind.  I also ran to the top of mountains that had amazing overlooks that we ran across.  The views were spectacular.


Running on the edge


Surprisingly, we made OK time and did those 20 miles in under 6 hours.  When we went out again something happened.  I think I just got used to it.  I started going a little faster, not worrying as much and I felt a lot of the pressure release.



Let me back up a second.  My last 100 mile race was a DNF (did not finish).  I gave up on myself and my crew and withdrew for no good reason.  It was very hard to live with.  I had never quit anything like that before.  So I had made a plan with my wife.  I will not stop this race unless it is out of my hands, i.e. a medical professional or aid station person will not let me continue due to injury or  a time cutoff.  So quitting was never an option in this race.





So from miles 20-40 I motored by myself, leaving Alfredo behind (because it felt good to go the speed I was going and when it feels good you should go with it).  Even though it got really, really hot.  The trail was the same...masochistic and worsened by running in the sun.  Also, the aid stations were sometimes 10 miles apart - something I am not used to.  I ran the entire time with my huge camelback backpack.  Nonetheless, more than once I ran out of water. I could not wait for night to come.

When the sun set it seemed like it didn't get any cooler, although having no sun shining on you was nice.  I tool an extra long break so I could re-group with Alfredo for the dark portions.  We ran 40-50 together and then ran through the rest of the night with his pacer Siamak who is a very accomplished an talented runner.  He kept us safe and on the course through the night.




For the first time ever I tried trekking poles.  I used them to help me climb, and to give me added security that I would not fall in the dark.  I did a nice gentle jog while always keeping one pole on the ground.  I was shocked at how much they helped, even though I probably wasn't even using them "correctly."  I will use them again on any 100 mile race where they are allowed.



When the sun came down Alfredo and Siamak took off, and I never saw them again until the end.  I did not have my own pacer, and I told them that if I was slowing them down they should leave me when the sun comes up.  In retrospect, I should have had a pacer.  I always moved faster when I had one.  Moreover, I started to hallucinate and I was very concerned about getting off course.  Having someone in a better state of mind would have helped.  My hallucinations involved bears, moose, snakes and phantom aid stations.  At some point I just accepted them and moved on regardless of what they were.

By the time the second sunset came I was struggling to stay in front of the cutoff.  I was only about 30 minutes from being pulled from the course.  At this point I again started to believe I would fail, but as promised I did not give up.

I started to become very emotional in this race.  My wife Kylia told me many of my friends were following on Facebook and texting her.  It made me feel like I had to try not to let them down.  I also thought of a fellow ultra runner Flynn Schultz that died a couple of weeks ago and was scheduled to run this race.  I know he didn't know Leadville would be his last race.  I decided that when I got down I would remember him and run as if this might be my last race.

Flynn Schultz
 I thought about my friends Chuck and Shan who ran across Illinois (410 miles in 7 days) and that their motto was "till the wheels fall off."  I used the pain they endured as inspiration.

Chuck and Shan after running across Illinois

I thought about the obstacles I have had in my life that  overcame.  I also thought about my friends that, in spite of their best efforts, came up short in this race and what they would give to be in the position I was in.  I cried from time to time.  After 30 hours of running I was falling apart.

At 18 miles to go Kylia arranged for Karen, a friend and co-member of my running group to help me.  Another runner, Geoff that dropped due to sickness joined my crew.  They told me I could do it and I started to believe.  I decided that I could endure anything for 18 miles and that I was going to finish.

Geoff and Karen 


Then the trail got even more ridiculous.  We had to run up a hill that seemed to last for a half hour.  After that we had to do more bouldering up and down Moose Mountain.  We started meeting people that thought we were in trouble time-wise.  I started to panic more and more.  That panic made me run faster.

Alfredo running on Moose Mountain.  Yes....that's on the course.

We got into the final aid station 4 minutes before the cutoff.  Everyone was yelling at me to get in and out quick.  My best friend Aaron who had run the marathon was there ready to help pace the last 7 miles along with Karen.  I had 3 hours to run 7.1 miles.  THREE HOURS.  How could I fail to do that?

Then the course got harder!  The most ridiculous hill of the day in about mile 99 took what was left out of me.  My body knew I was coming to the end and the pain started to set in.  My emotions started to flow.  I recall asking "how many miles" and "what time is it" over and over.  Along with "are we on course?"  Those last seven miles were tough.  It was also tough knowing that I had run more than 100 miles and I still have 3.3 to go.  My worst fear was running all 103.3 and still being cutoff.

When we finally came out of the forest onto the road I started crying and running as fast as I could (10:00 mile according to Aaron) and emptied the entire tank to get to the finish with 12 minutes to spare: 37:48.  The finish line was a blur.  I saw Dusty Olson.  I was handed food and a sweatshirt and a buckle and a medal.  I was just glad to be done.  I was glad to no longer be moving.  I had qualified for Western States and Hardrock and finished a race that many people fear.  I was THRILLED.

I have a few takeaways from this race.  Trekking poles can really help.  I can ignore stage 5 chaffage for a long time.  (this was the worst chaffage ever).  Don't let anyone tell you a race is too hard or you aren't ready.  Don't give up on yourself.  And remember that other people have your back.  There is no way in hell I could have done this without my wife Kylia, crew person extraordinaire who spent 38 hours waiting in the road to see the world's smelliest guy for two minutes.  My pacers Karen, Aaron and Siamak kept me safe, on course and motivated.  My friends at New Leaf gave me hundreds of additional reasons to finish and the memory of Flynn Schultz gave me to inspiration to run like there was no tomorrow.

My borther Alfredo.  There are no words.  Had you dropped I would have failed.  Just knowing you were out there too kept me moving.  Thanks Moose.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013


SUPERIOR TRAIL 100 (SUPERIOR SAWTOOTH)

Gooseberry Falls (Picture by Alfredo Pedro Perro) 


This weekend I will take the next step towards my goal of participating in the Hardrock 100.  Qualifying.  I hope to do so at the Superior Trail 100 on Friday morning. I have wanted to run his race since the first time I heard about it because it has equal parts of badass and beauty.

Sawtooth is actualy a 103.3 mile race held in northern Minnesota.  It starts at Gooseberry Falls and runs to Lusten MN.  



There is 21,000 feet of elevation gain in the race.  For those of you that don't run ultas...it's a Lot!  (Hint: the Sears Tower is around 1,000 feet high).  The trail is full or rocks, roots, boulders and (hopefully not) moose, bears and wolves.

(photo by Alfredo Pedro Perro)

(Photo by Alfredo Pedro Perro)
I am not going to lie....it is intimidating.  Many great runners have been chewed up and spit out by Sawtooth.  I am glad so many of my friends will be there towing the line with me.  I hope to get to run with a few of them.  My wife will also be there crewing the entire 38 hours, so I will have plenty of support.  I will take plenty of pictures and prepare a full race report after (regardless of the results).  For now, keep me in your thoughts on Friday and Saturday as I attempt this extremely difficult task.   




Friday, August 23, 2013

RE-TASTE OF CHICAGO


Some of my friends and  I live by the credo that "If you say it out loud, you have to do it."  This mantra led to the first annual "Re-Taste of Chicago."

By way of background, on of my ultra-heroes Jimmy Dean Freeman once ran the L.A. Marathon Route while eating 5,000 calories (there were a few bonus calories too). [Link to Jimmy Dean's Food Run] This video gave me the idea that we should try the same concept with the Chicago Marathon route.   Chicago clearly has better food.  There are plenty of iconic eateries on the route.  Once I said it out loud we had to do it.

So the plan was to run basically the Chicago Marathon Route, but to stop at 9 places and eat food.  These food stops were mandatory.  I received several emails regarding food allergies, gluten free, etc.  To each I responded "This is probably not an event for you."  The point of this exercise was to suffer on a very specific level.

With the help of another formerly fat person Ethan Matyas we came up with the following list of food stops:

1.  Billy Goat Tavern - Cheezeborger or Fried Egg Sandwich; 2.  Weiner's Circle - Hot Dog or Veggie Dog; 3.  Ann Sather's - Cinnamon Bun; 4.  Lou Malnatti's - half slice of Deep Dish Pizza; 5.  Greek Islands - Baklava;  6.  Mario's Italian Ice - (medium - any flavor); 7.  Los Commales - Chicken Taco or Quesadilla;  8.  Three Happiness - Egg Roll; 9. Harold's Chicken - piece of Fried Chicken or order of Fried Okra.  

That's not all.  At the end of the course, (which ended up being about 29 miles due to all the food stops) you had to drink one beer (PBR) and eat one pice of cake for Melissa Pizzaro's birthday.


Once my wife Kylia Kummer got involved we HAD to have a proper tshirt:


We also had a rather large debate about the portion sizes.  I insisted that we go with full portions, with the exception of the deep dish pizze.  The point was to be as uncomfortable as possible.  The rest is history.


We had 11 starters.  Melissa "the birthday girl" Pizzaro, Alfredo Pedro Perro, Todd "Breeze" Brown, Amanda Ticachek, Siamack Moustafi, Katerina Claiborne, Ethan Matyas, Tony Silvestri, Kirsten Pieper, Cathlin Upton and myself.  Deepa Ramakrishna joined at stop 2 (obviously out too late the night before).

3 miles after the only pre-race instruction ("don't get hit by a car") we were off.  2 miles later we were eating a cheeseburger.  Then a hotdog.  Then a huge cinnamon roll.  It rapidly went downhill from there.
I did actually eat two extra portions of pizza - because cheese + sun + running = FUN!

Birthday girl begging to DNF at stop 3 - Ann Sather (unbeknownst to us at the time Alfredo  had already thrown up his veggie dog at stop 2)



I'm not going to lie....even I was loathing the next food stops.  It really felt like once we swallowed the last bite we were approaching the next one.  It was a great experience to go for a 29 mile run and not once think about the running part!

Overall, the formerly fat guys dominated.  Several of us (myself included) never approached the level of discomfort I had in mind.  In all, 3 people threw up (Melissa, Alfredo, Siamack).  Several people DNF'ed and only a few people finished the entire distance while eating all of the food - Ethan, Tony, Melissa (who was the only throw up and finish participant) Todd and myself.  

This was a great event that I would love for someone else to put on again!!  It was challngeing and fun.  We also got to work together and help each other out.  My favorite moment was watching Kat eat this HUGE eggroll.


She was in tears, dry heaving and still trying to eat while asking "why am I doing this?"  That was precisely the degree of suffering I was looking for.

So here's the lesson.....don't say it out loud unless you're going to do it!

PS:  A great video was made of our event by Tony Silvestri - https://vimeo.com/72294207

PPS: Our event was discussed in episode 188 of MarathonTalk