The world lost an incredible mother, wife, daughter, friend, attorney, underprivileged advocate, and community member suddenly and unexpectedly on October 16, 2013. In honor of my late wife, Holli Wallace, I am training for the Hallucination 100 mile trail run and raising money for the Children's Grief Center of the Great Lakes Bay Region.

My training progress

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fort Worth Marathon'n For Lupus

It's been a while since I've posted. I'm afraid that life is somewhat interfering with my running and definitely getting in the way of my blogging. As a quick update, I've had my first DNF at the Hallucination 100. I probably shouldn't have tried a second 100 miler less than two months after Burning River. I want to thank Dirt Dawg for dragging me through that last loop and Nate and Mae for being willing to come out and crew in the middle of the night. As always, thanks to my wife for waking up early, staying up late, and driving around to all those aid stations to make sure I was functioning as well as possible. Also, thanks to my parents for being there to support me.

I've actually decided to write this quick post to ask all of you out there to support another Lupus Runner. Cruz Pitre is running his first marathon on November 8th to help raise money. He has been a tireless supporter of the fight against lupus and he deserves our support. All you runners out there know how difficult those last miles can be and your contributions support a worthy cause and a worthy runner. I'm re-posting information about Cruz's run below.

From Cruz Pitre:

On November 8, 2009, I'll run my first Fort Worth Marathon. My wife, Michelle, my cousin Marisol, and friends (or some of their relatives) have Lupus. I would like to use this occasion to raise funds for Lupus research.

TO SPONSOR MY FIGHT AGAINST LUPUS, simply go to Brian's Firstgiving page at http://www.firstgiving.com/lupusrunners. When you make your donation, PLEASE MAKE A COMMENT along the lines of "FOR Cruz AT FORT WORTH" or something that makes it obvious that your donation arose from reading this page.

There are other Lupus Runners also raising money on this page so don't let that confuse you.

(I should note that we've "followed the money" and any donation will go directly to the Lupus Foundation of America. None of it goes to the Lupus Runners. We are only facilitating the fundraising.)

After you donate, you will be able to print out a receipt page, and you'll also get an email receipt.

If you would prefer not to donate online, you may send money to the following address and I'll donate the money in your name.

Cruz Pitre Jr.
600 Parkview Court
Kennedale, TX 76060

Upon request, I'll send you a donation receipt for your taxes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2009 Burning River 100 Race Report


Well, it's been nearly two weeks since the race so probably about time that I put together a race report. First of all, this was probably the funnest race that I have ever participated in. It was well-organized and scenic and a pleasure (er, relatively) to run. Holli, as always, was the best crew that I could ask for and deserves my utmost thanks and appreciation. I'd also like to thank my parents for coming out to support me and for my brother Dave and sister-in-law Lauren for coming out to help pace. I'd like to thank Dirty Girl for some much needed cups of soup and espresso beans at the covered bridge station, Kevin for his help as I cruised in and out of aid stations, and Mae and Nate for their enthusiastic support. Finally, I'd like to congratulate Dirt Dawg, who has finally chased down his first 100 miler and thank him for his support and company during those first miles.

In truth, there are many others who also deserve thanks. There are Tom and David who I had not met until the covered bridge station, but who both volunteered to pace me through much of the night. David, good luck finishing the Grand Slam--that is an incredible accomplishment. There are the podiatry students who did their best to keep my feet from falling apart at various aid stations. There are the aid station volunteers and fellow runners who magically showed up with mole skin, duct tape, and a variety of other medical supplies when the podiatry students weren't around. Then, of course, there are all the volunteers who just made the whole event happy.

I've decided not to write much about the details of the race itself. Let me say that the first 50 miles went pretty well (11 hours) and I was even feeling pretty good after 60. Then a couple blisters began to form. Then, I made the mistake of removing some moleskin that I thought was bunching up on me (it was, but it was also providing some critical padding). Then it began to rain. Then I had to run through some pretty significant mud.

I finished in just over 28 hours and 30 minutes, but my final pace was a pretty pathetic hobble and my over-riding memory of the last third of the race was largely one of, let us say, discomfort. It was frustrating as my leg muscles held up well and it was really my feet that caused me such significant problems. As you can see from the photo of Holli and I crossing the finish line, she is quite literally pulling me along. Still, I didn't give up and I am proud of that accomplishment. Furthermore, I think the foot problem is something that can be managed. In fact, two days after the race I realized that my toes were so cramped up that during I was not actually moving most of the muscles in my foot. I'm not sure if this was caused by the change in my gait due to the rather large blisters on my feet or the other way around. In either case, it gives me an excuse to buy some new socks and shoes and, perhaps in the near future, to try out some barefoot running to strengthen my foot muscles.

All that aside, here was my epiphany as I cruised through the ups and downs of the race. What if, rather than thinking of all this running as a series of training cycles and races I just ran when I felt like it. I mean, why does something as fun as running 100 miles need to be a once a year event? In fact, it has taken me a couple 100 mile races to realize that I do, in fact, really like to run. Perhaps for people who are training intensely for particular times or to win competitions, the distinction between training runs and actual races matters, but I have typically run races at nearly the same pace that I train. So what is the point of distinguishing between training and racing? This matters because, despite the foot issues, Burning River was just fun and I would like to do it again.

So, I've decided to go ahead and sign up for the Hallucination 100, which is Michigan's first 100 mile race. You are all welcome to join me as spectators, crew, or pacers. The run is a series of 12.5 mile loops and there is a campground on the loop where everyone can hang out all weekend. What else can you ask for in a good time?

Lupus Foundation of America Needs Your Hel

Lupus Foundation of America Needs Your Help -- Urge Your Senators to Cosponsor S. 1630, the Affordable Access to Prescription Medications Act

Go to http://capwiz.com/lfa/home/

Click on the link "Urge Your Senators to Cosponsor S. 1630, the Affordable Access to Prescription Medications Act," enter your zip code in the box called “Call Now” and click on the “go” button. You’ll then be presented with the contact information for your senators, as well as get talking points for what to say when you call.

Please ask your family, friends and coworkers to call on your behalf as well.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Webcast of Burning River

I almost forgot. If you would like to see how I am doing on race day, check out the BR live webcast. I'm bib #68.

http://www.burningriver100.org/webcast.html

Why run 100 miles? Or getting psyched for Burning River

I am a bit ashamed to admit that I have spent quite a bit of time in the past few days reflecting on why I like running 100 mile ultramarathons. I really have wanted this to be a good post on the eve of Burning River as, after nearly 200 blog posts and raising nearly $12,000, I've decided to take a break from fundraising. While it has been an integral part of my ultrarunning and it is both an important and personal cause, I have only barely had sufficient time to keep the group operating as it warrants. At the same time, I'm still receiving emails and comments from interested runners and getting an average of two-dozen hits per day so I've been hesitant to just let the group disappear and the hard work that we have together put into this fade away. That is why I am happy to announce that Cruz Pitre has agreed to take over management of the Lupus Runners website to keep the movement going and growing. We need to talk about the details still, but some time after Burning River I will redirect the www.lupusrunner.org to a new site. Cruz is adamant runner and been a dedicated member of Lupus Runners this year and I know that he will do a great job as I take a break to focus on other things.

You will, of course, still be able to see what I am up to at my various other websites such as www.brianthesociologist.com and, now that I finally have my hands on a Blackberry, I'm increasingly addicted to Twitter so look for me at www.twitter.com/thomasb7. Also, rest assured, that I will keep running. Which takes me back to the point of this post--why run 100 miles? Since I haven't been able to come up with an eloquent and thoughtful diatribe, I'm resorting to a bulleted list. Here goes.

Why run 100 miles?
  • It's a great way to get people to donate money to an important cause
  • The food at aid stations tastes really good after 50 miles
  • You meet some really great people
  • Because no matter how hard you train you never know what's going to happen
  • A central precept of Buddhism is that life is suffering and the key to happiness is letting that go. Running 100 miles involves suffering, then letting that go, the suffering some more, then letting that go, then you finish.
  • You get to know people really well when you run with them for 12 hours.
  • You get a cool belt-buckle at the end.
  • You get to know yourself really well when you run for 24+ hours.
  • Marathons are way too crowded
  • It requires more patience that any other sport I've participated in
  • I was a really bad wrestler in high school
  • No one ever asks you your time afterward, they just ask "At one time?"
  • It's a great way to spend time hanging out in the woods
  • Training with a jogging stroller is a great way to get a toddler to nap
  • The week before or after a race you don't have to feel guilty about going to a buffet
  • There is definitely an ego driven cool factor
  • Did I mention how good certain food tastes after 50 miles?
  • No one looks at you funny if you walk
  • It's a great time to listen to audio books (entire novels at a time)
  • Dawn looks great after 75 miles
  • Night time is magical when you are in the middle of the woods with nothing but a headlamp
  • Other things in your life feel more possible, and less stressful, afterward
After my first 50k, I almost cried because I was so glad that I actually did it. After my first 50 miles, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction. After my first, and only so far, 100 miler I was so tired I didn't particularly feel anything other than some mild confusion that I did not need to keep running. In fact, rather oddly, after 50 miles I was glad to be done. After 100 miles I was somewhat disappointed that it was over.

Dayton Daily News Article


Thanks to all you Lupus Runners out there who have helped get us this far. Also, many thanks to everyone who has made donations--we have collectively raised nearly $12,000 since 2007. I look forward to finally meeting some of you in person at Burning River this weekend. In the meantime, check out this recent article in the Dayton Daily News.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Prepping for Burning River

Well, ready or not the Burning River 100 is just around the corner. I confess that I am less certain about my preparation this year than last year. Ironically, being in China was not a great problem in terms of my training. However, getting my schedule cleared to go to China and catching up on time with my family and work stuff left me with fewer miles on the road then I would have preferred. Still, I had a few 30+ mile runs, a 40 mile run, my 12 hour Great Wall adventure, and a recent 32/25 back to back run, so I think I still have a good shot at finishing as long as I run smart.

My plan is to start out more slowly than I did at Haliburton and to try and keep a more even pace throughout. Last long run, I used a 10 minute run/5 minute walk pace that allowed me to complete 25 miles in 5 hours, even after doing 32 miles the day before. I ran even splits throughout and felt pretty comfortable at the end so I think this is a better strategy than the 9/1 and 25/5 run/walk ratios that I used at the beginning of Haliburton.

The logistics of Burning River are also slightly more complicated than at Haliburton since it is point to point as opposed to two out-and-backs. However, my parents are going to be joining Holli as part of my crew so we will have additional support. We're also going to try and coordinate crew needs that we didn't really plan well for at Haliburton--namely the need for Holli to sleep and eat at some point during the race. There is supposed to be cell phone service throughout so that should help too. Perhaps I'll twitter the event.

In terms of equipment, I'm planning on using a single water bottle throughout and, depending on the heat and my pace, an additional water bottle in a holster. I was pretty happy with how that worked last time. I'll aim to consume 100 calories of gel, honey, or sport beans every 30 minutes and to take electrolyte tablets every 20-30 minutes. I'll start eating some solid foods at 10 hours or so (soup probably).

I'm going to try and stick with Dirt Dawg as he heads for what I am sure will be his first 100 mile success story. I'm also looking forward to meeting Nate and Mae, two of our Lupus Runners from last year, who will also be at the event. It should be a good time!

I confess with some guilt that I haven't really had the time or energy to do a great deal of fundraising. I do want to thank everyone who has donated so far and to ask those who haven't donated to consider making a contribution to this important cause. I think 2009 might be my last harrah in terms of fundraising (at least for a little while) as I've had difficulty pulling together the time and energy that I feel the cause really warrants. It might be better for me to take a bit of a break (at least from fundraising--running keeps me sane so I don't expect to stop that!). So this is the last time I'm going to ask all of you for money, at least for the next year or two. Help me out this one last time and click the donate button on the right!

Monday, July 6, 2009

50k Great Wall Run Video

50k ultramarathon on the Great Wall of China




Total time in motion: 11 hours 50 minutes
Total distance 50k or 31 miles
Average pace: 23 minutes per mile
Distance on or along the Wall: 20 miles
Distance on roads around the Wall: 10 miles

I'm far from an elite runner and not even particularly fast, but I have been around the block. I've completed a 100 miler, a 50 miler, and a few 50k races. I can generally go 50 miles in under 10 hours and 50k in under 6 hours. 22 minutes per miles isn't even a fast walk--at least under normal conditions. These were certainly not normal conditions.

I compared my times with a local guide and it sounds like I was moving on the wall about twice as fast as most people. I tried to run the flats (which were very few) and walk the stairs. While I did stop to take breaks and take photos, I tried to minimize these stops, which I think it part of why I covered the ground so quickly (at least relatively). There were some mildly treacherous areas where running was simply not an option, at least if you are concerned about falling off the wall. Still, I kept moving and, as some past ultrarunner once quoted, I blew past rocks and trees like they were standing still.

Perhaps my times speak for themselves, but I would definitely rate this as a 10/10 in terms of difficulty. I believe most of the marathons that are held on the Great Wall are only actually on the Wall itself for 3 to 6 miles. I will note, with no small amount of pride, that I was on or alongside the wall for about 20 miles. Seriously, it was sort of like being a stairmaster for over 8 hours except the steps were often irregularly shaped rocks.

As I thought might be the case, this was a more mentally challenging race than some of my past races. Holli wasn't there to back be up with encouraging words or to provide me with supplies. No one really had any idea what I was doing so there wasn't even the general ambiance of a race that can be so motivating. Still, there were some people who stepped up when I needed help. There was the fellow long distance hiker who helped me get back on track after I got lost trying to avoid the military base in the way of getting to Gubeikou (I never made it to Gubeikou, but made up for it by going an hour past Simatai). There was the two shop-keepers who generously gave me a pair of headphones after mine were lost in the same overgrown brush disaster that scratched up my legs and arms and led to, perhaps, the lowest part of the race. There was the woman who sold souvenirs on the wall who showed me a shortcut around a particularly bad hill during my final miles on the wall (dude, she said she comes to the wall everyday and then walks for two hours to get home. She told me that I was running fast and I believed her until I saw her move on some mountain trails--she was like a mountain goat! To make myself feel better I am telling myself that I wouldn't have struggled to keep up if my legs were fresh.) Oh yeah, and there was the American couple who gave me some sun screen--a critical supply that I failed to bring.

In 2010, I will return to this section of the Great Wall with my students. I'm working with a travel agent who will arrange for overnight stays on the wall. I had my low points on the run and my high points--I perhaps had more doubts during this race than during any of my previous races. However, the scenery was incredible and getting to the next tower for another view was always a motivator--be sure to check out the video for some scenery and details about my run.

Also, don't forget to click on the "Donate here" button on this site! Help support the fight against lupus!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

For updates, go here

Since the Chinese government blocks Blogger, I've had to seek another location to blog during my trip. Please go to the following site for regular updates.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brian-the-Sociologist/85796972030

Monday, June 1, 2009

Going offline...

Ah, with 48 hours until departure, I've now learned that blogger, the service hosting all my blogs, is being blocked by that wonderful organization, the government of the People's Republic of China. Stay tuned as I set up an alternate hosting site to use during my trip.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Take off in one week!

Whew, lots to update you all with, but I will keep it brief. I ran my final long training run before my trip on Sunday. 40 miles in a little under 8 hours. I even took some video that I will post shortly. Between my Camelback and a small fanny pack, I think I am set to carry enough supplies. I stopped by the local running store and bought a case of sports beans and a new bottle of electrolyte tablets. That mix seemed to cover me pretty well along the 40 mile run so I'm hoping it will work on the Great Wall. Interestingly, while the heat on my 40 mile run caused me some grief I think the benefit was that it forced me to slow down enough that I had almost no muscle soreness the next day. I did have a few blisters so I picked up some new socks too. I was tempted to get some new shoes, but I think it is probably too late to experiment with a new shoe even if I had some blister issues with my current pair of Brooks Adrenaline.

If you are interested in the route I will be taking on my Great Wall Run, a FAQ of part of the route can be found at the Great Wall Forum here. Right now my plan is to get a hotel at or near Simatai and run to Jinshanlin and possibly on to Gubeikou (these are gates along the Wall with tourist access). My understanding is that there is a trail along the wall that is often used that I can follow. I'm still messing around with the Google map that I found of the Wall so I don't know exact distances yet. The FAQ states that one can walk from Simatai to Jinshanlin in 3 to 4 hours. I estimate that I can probably run that easily in 2 hours--so that will make a good stop to refill on water. Luckily, I still remember how to ask for bottled water in Chinese :). Apparently, it is possible to walk from Simatai to Gubeikou in one day so I'm guessing that I can probably run from Simatai to Gubeikou and back while using Jinshanlin as a "aid station." I'll use my GPS to track when I reach 25 miles out and just turn around at that point--either before or after Gubeikou, as necessary.

Forum posts indicate that I will have cell phone access the entire way and I have already gotten a hold of an international cell phone with a Chinese phone number. I'll have a camera and a small video camera with me to document the event. I would like to thank all of those who have already donated! Thank you Mom, Dad, Sandra, Andre, Cruz, Jason, Greg, Gail, Scott, Kelly, Karen, Aunt Edith, and Uncle Wilson! If I have time, I think I will borrow Tim's and Deb's idea of writing everyone's names down to carry with me on the run. I have a suspicion that the solitude of this run might make the whole thing especially intense.

On a final note, I placed the order for the t-shirts yesterday and they should be ready and in the mail to everyone before I leave a week from today.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lupus Runner shirts!

I'm going to order a new set of lupus runner shirts. If you would like one send me an email (brianjasenthomas@gmail.com) ASAP with your address and the shirt size that you would like. If you're helping us raise money I'll send you one for free--otherwise they are $10 each (this is simply the cost of the shirt and I don't make any money).

Long run and Great Wall prep

My goal was to get two 50 mile runs and one 45 mile run before running Burning River. That would mean one 40 miler yesterday, a 45 miler just before I leave for China, my much anticipated 50 mile Great Wall run, and a final 50 miler in July before tapering. I set out at 5 AM yesterday with the goal of getting a solid 40 miles in before lunch and also testing the running gear that I am planning on taking to China. Unfortunately, some foot pain around mile 30 caused me to slow down significantly so I decided to call it quits 33 miles in at a time of just over 6 hours. I'm not sure what the foot thing is--it doesn't feel severe, but I don't want to create a more severe problem by pushing myself too hard. I still have some time so I'm not worried. Yet.

The logistics of my China run are interesting for a few reasons. First, I will be traveling pretty light so won't have room for much running gear. Second, since it will be a solo run in relatively unknown terrain I will need to carry more food and water than usual. Third, since I am not checking any of my luggage I can't carry many liquids and, I have heard, even transporting energy Gels is sometimes problematic. So, I went out yesterday with my Camelback Lobo back with 70 ounces of water and 4 packs of Sport beans and 5 packs of Sharkies. Over 33 miles, I drank nearly all the water, ate all the sport beans, and 3 Sharkie packs. I also stopped and ate a breakfast sausage sandwich at a gas station (that's sort of like baozi, right?) The water + solid energy food + sausage sandwich seemed to keep my energy up okay so I feel good about my equipment/nutrient choices.

I should have enough room in my pack for 15 bags of sport beans (I've decided I prefer these to Sharkies) or 1,500 calories. Theoretically, if I consume 200 calories per hour that will carry me about 7 hours. Given Great Wall Marathon finishing times, I will really need to plan for up to 12 hours on the move. Consequently, I will need to plan on getting another 1,000 or so calories along the way. My hope is that a lunch of noodles and a few cokes should be enough to make up the difference. Ideally, I'll also be able to get a hold of some Gatorade, but I will have to wait until I am there to see. I've heard that I won't be able to expect much between tourist stops, but I believe these are about 20 km apart on the section I plan to run so I don't think getting a little something else to eat will be too problematic. There are still some details to work out, but I'm getting there!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Trail Marathon Race Report


I woke up bright and early at 4:00 AM to head to Pinckney for the Trail Marathon on Sunday. I've actually found that it is not that difficult to roll out of bed and hop right in the car as long as I get everything ready the night before. Races are definitely more motivation to get up early than regular long runs. I was really looking forward to the event as I haven't been on trails much in the recent past and I felt that getting this long run in was important if I was going to be at least close to my training plan.

I opted for the 7 AM early start, which meant that I was not allowed to finish in under 4:30 (not that it was likely that would be a problem). I was hoping to do an extra 9 miles after the marathon so I figured the earlier I started the better it would be. I met up with Dirt Dawg at the start and actually ran with him through the entire race. If you haven't checked out his blog and new podcast, I would definitely recommend that you follow those links. I first met Dirt Dawg when we were both training for our first 50 milers and have, in fact, not run together since we cruised the first part of the North Country Trail Run together in 2007. Dirt Dawg will be running his first 100 miler at Burning River this year also. Anyway, his company for the 26.2 miles was very much appreciated since headphones were not allowed at the race and anyone who knows me well realizes that leaving me alone to my thoughts is a recipe for disaster. Seriously though, the conversation helped the miles go quickly and, as we headed into the second loop, he put on some speed, which took us to a finish in just under 5 hours with negative splits on the second loop.

Anyone who has run out in Pinkney knows that it is possibly the hilliest part of the Lower Peninsula and it definitely took a toll on me. On top of that, the weather was much warmer than expected and I didn't bring any electrolyte tablets. Consequently, I only added 8 miles at the end of the marathon and, to be honest, those were some pretty slow and ugly miles. In the future, I might try and add my additional training miles to the begining of the race instead of the end because it was sort of a drag to head back out on the trail while everyone else was relaxing after the race. Still, I put in just over 34 miles for the day and after a little air conditioning in the car and a trip through the Arby's drive through I was feeling much better. That's on top of a 12 mile run on Friday and I really can't complain about a 46 mile weekend.

On a side note, the more I think about and start making plans for a 50 mile solo run of the Great Wall of China, the more excited I get. I might have to invest in some trail shoes though as the Trail Marathon left my feet a bit beat up from rocks and roots. I'll post more details about my Great Wall plan as they develop.

P.S. The above photo of Dirt Dawg and I currently appears as the first of a set of photos on the front page of www.runmichigan.com so check it out.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Welcome Lupus Runner Cruz!

I'd like to welcome the latest member of Lupus Runners. We are truly a national group with previous runners from New York, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, and now Texas! I've asked Cruz to write a short bio--he's planning a lot of races this year and getting set for his first marathon.

------
Cruz Pitre Jr.
I'm married to Michelle for 14 years, and have two boys, Andrew and Trei. I live outside of Fort Worth, TX. I'm a senior configuration manager at Sabre Holdings (parent company to Travelocity). I'm a 40 year old Army veteran, that until the end of last year (an over-active thyroid forced me to start running again), had not run since 1992. My running has gone so well that I have started training and competing in races. These are the races that I have competed and their results:

02/28/09 - Fort Worth Cowtown 5k: 26:08 - 08:26 (pace per mile)
03/14/09 - Impossible Possibilities 5k: 24:46 - 07:59
03/28/09 - Dallas Butterfly Booging 5k: 24:40 - 07:57
04/11/09 - Crecent City Connection 10k: 53:01 - 08:33

I'm registered to run in:

04/25/09 - Outlaw Run 10k

I'm planning to run in:

05/09/09 - The Jackrabbit Run 4 Hope 10k
05/16/09 - Run For the Children 10k

My goal is to compete at the marathon distance, or higher. My basic training plan is to run each distance (5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon) at least three times before moving on to the next distance.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Good luck Tim!

Our second Lupus Runner is running his big race for the year tomorrow. Tim will be running no less than the famous Boston Marathon! We are getting close to $1,000 in donations--let's see if we can take things into the triple digits for Tim! Have a great race and we look forward to report on how things go.

I'm also happy to announce that we have had another runner join Lupus Runners for 2009. Details soon!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

First Brian the Sociologist International Ultramarathon


Training plans are, in my opinion, schedules that tell you what real life has deviated you from. With summer coming close and the ultramarathon looming relatively near, I thought I would check the training plan I devised earlier this year and see how close I am. The bad news is that I am a little behind and that my weekly mileage has been below what I had hoped for. That being said, my long runs have been going well and I should still have time to get the runs that I feel I need for Burning River. Before Haliburton, I peaked with a late night 50 miler. If I can get a couple 50 milers in I should be in good shape.

So why did I titled this post "First Brian the Sociologist International Ultramarathon?" Well, if I follow this training plan I will be attempting one of my long runs, specifically my first 50 mile run, while I am in Beijing doing a preparing for a 2010 study abroad trip. The logistics of this are a little daunting as I won't have my full set of running gear, resupplying with water and food may be problematic (dumpling stops?), and many parts of Beijing are crowded enough so as not to be running friendly. I'm also not quite sure how I will fit it into my already busy itinerary. However, I think it is worth the effort as there are few better ways to see the city, if I can really get my act together I could do the whole thing on the Great Wall or someplace similarly cool, and with my GPS it is really pretty unlikely that I will get lost. Anyway, I posted on the ultrarunning listserve that I will be in China, but didn't hear from any Chinese ultrarunners so if anyone out there reads this post and has suggested routes or just advice, post a comment!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Have a great race, Deb!

I just wanted to let everyone out there know that our first Lupus Runner is running a half marathon tomorrow. Deb is a lupus sufferer and has done a great job of raising awareness and funds. She deserves our support. I've posted a note below that Deb wrote on Facebook about her race.

From Deb's Facebook site:

I suffer from a disease called lupus. It is a chronic, life threatening illness. I had several years where I couldn't walk for longer than 2 or 3 minutes without having to sit and rest. I have had kidney involvement twice, lung involvement, taken massive doses of steroids, taken chemotherapy - which left me unable to have children, been hospitalized 4 times, had a pseudo tumor.. that was fun.. the doctor told me that I possibly had a brain tumor, based on what he saw in my eyes.. but to try not to worry about it until I saw the neurologist in the ER, had 2 spinal taps, gained lots of weight, have major joint pain, have extreme sun sensativity, have tons of scars, have taken as many as 12 perscription medications at one time, lost a ton of hair, had years of depression, yet somehow managed to keep my sanity. ( no comments )

To see me today, you would not ever know that I was ill. Now is my turn to beat up on lupus. This is my revenge for the suffering and pain it has caused me. I will run the Illinois Half Marathon on Saturday, April 11, 2009. I'm asking for your financial support.

During the race, I will wear a pace tattoo on my arm, marking where I should be along the course at what time. If you offer your financial support, I will write your name on my arm during the race, and you will act as my mental support during that section of the race. I will really need your support, as I am coming off of two weeks of illness, and am just 4 weeks out from the race.

If you are able to support me, please follow this link to the Lupus Runners page. It is a team page, so you will not see my name, but rather a group page. If you leave a donation, please mention my name in the comment section. Thanks for your support. - Debbie

http://www.firstgiving.com/lupusrunners

Monday, April 6, 2009

Does this count as speed work?

Well, I completed the Martian Marathon with a chip time of 3:53. I'm really happy with that because I averaged 8:55 minute miles when I've been training at 10 minute miles. Also, this is approximately the same time that I had the last time I ran the Martian, which was 6 or 7 years ago (woah.) The race was fun, although it reminded me why I still prefer the culture of ultramarthons. Even though this was a relatively small marathon I still felt a little like I was part of a herd. Still, it was a nice way motivate me to put in a long run and it was fun to see all the people excited about the race (but really, do you need a hydration pack for a half marathon?) As always, Running Fit had everything very well organized, included some insane looking technical t-shirts and had some wonderful greasy pizza waiting at the end.

I was planning on doing the whole thing in around 4:20 and adding on a 4 mile run in the end to make a nice round 30 mile day. However, at the halfway mark I overheard someone say that we were at a 4 hour pace and decided I would rather speed things up and get home early than stretch it out another few miles. I need to write a blog post one of these days about the honey/salt/molasses concoction that I have been using on my long runs. I switched between that and the Gu that they had at aid stations. Interestingly, I felt a tiny bit nausious around mile 15 after a few Gu packets, but felt perfectly normal after going back to the honey mix. Kept pretty even splits throughout so I'm feeling pretty close to on pace for the 100.

Kudos to Deb who has kicked up the fundraising! I need to clear some grant reports off my plate and then hopefully will have the chance to start bringing in some money.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Martian Marathon and my aerobic capacity

Heading down for the Martian Marathon this weekend. I did this a few years ago and it was a nice run. I've more or less lost track of my training program; however, I did manage a 25 mile long run a couple weeks ago and a 20 mile long run the week before that so I'm feeling relatively solid. I might add a 4 mile run after the marathon for a nice even 30.

My weekly runs have been really hit and miss. This week for instance I did 12 on Monday and 6 on Wednesday. It is unlikely that I'll have any time to run before the marathon on Sunday. Still, I was comfortable running 10 minute miles during my last 25 mile run so I think I'm making some progress. I'm not sure I could get away with such intermittant training if I hadn't gotten myself in shape for the 100 last year. I hear the endurance you build for ultras has more of lasting effect than for shorter distances--that might be just one of those web rumors though.

On an interesting side note, I stopped by a health fair at SVSU where, among other things, some kinesiology students were testing aerobic capacity. Ironically, I tested in 20th percentile, which basically means that 80% of the rest of the world is in better shape then I am. That doesn't bode well for the marathon. Actually, the test was based on heart rate and, based on my experience with a heart rate monitor, I have a relatively high resting and, in all likelihood, maximum heart rate, which throws things off. One of my students told me that the kinesiology department does have the equipment for me to test my VO2 max, which would give me an accurate measure of my aerobic capacity. I might just be curious enough to track that equipment down...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Registered!

In order to help encourage me to actually wake up in time for a brisk 6 AM run, I decided to submit my registration for the Burning River 100 mile run. $175, ouch. No refunds so I better get my rear out the door and do some running.

Wakey, wakey

So the running hasn't been bad, but it hasn't been consistent either. Two weeks ago, I ran a wopping 2 miles during the week. Then, feeling bad and noticing the sunny weather outside I did 17 miles on Friday. This was followed be a 20 miler on Sunday. This week I repeated my pattern of inconsistency and only ran once with a 12 miler on Wednesday. Hmmm... This probably isn't a pattern I should be repeating if I plan on finishing Burning River. So, my goal is to wake up early tomorrow and to get a 20 or 25 mile run in before noon. Perhaps posting it on my blog will help get me out of bed in the morning.

I'd like to welcome Deb Frerick, a new Lupus Runner in 2009 and a lupus sufferer, has committed to run the Illinois Half Marathon on April 11th. Tim Smith has also joined us and will be cruising the Boston Marathon on April 20th. I wish them both the best of luck with their races and fundraising. I realized that 75% of the Lupus Runners from 2008 (everyone except for me) are scheduled to get married this year so I'm glad to see some new folks stepping up to help out.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Let's get this party started!

Okay, it's been a rocky winter for me in terms of training and that eternally difficult balance of what I need to do and what I want to do with my time. Thanks to an email from Debbie, our newest Lupus Runner, I've decided to kick things off for 2009. That means it is time for all of you to go to www.firstgiving.com/lupusrunners and to renew your commitment towards fighting a terrible disease. We raised $5,000 last year and I'm confident that we can do it again this year.

While the money helps with research and education, one of the most important things that we did in 2008 was raise awareness. Debbie, who is a lupus sufferer herself, decided to join us after she saw Mae wearing a Lupus Runner shirt in a race. So, in addition to running my race (Burning River) and continuing to raise money, I'll provide a free technical t-shirt with the Lupus Runner logo to anyone who commits to running a race as a Lupus Runner and raises at least $200. If you want to be a Lupus Runner, just send me an email at brianjasenthomas@gmail.com. Happy running in 2009!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Life on jury duty

Seriously, there is a conspiracy against jury pool W. Some of the other groups have served for only half a day out of the nine days that we have been on jury duty so far. On the other hand, old group W has been here five out of the past nine days. Actually, some of group W has been here even longer, having been selected for two juries so far. I've only served on one jury thus far and spent the rest of the time just waiting around to see if I will be selected.

Let me say this about the jury process. I think that everyone should have to do it once in their life. That being said, I am extraordinarily ambivalent about the jury process. I have been impressed by how well everyone gets along and was glad to be on a diverse jury that was still willing to work together so openly. The bureaucracy of the system has, to be honest, highlighted the reasons why we lecture about bureaucracies in introduction to sociology classes. I'm probably more of a populist as a result of all this. Everyone who served on the jury together yesterday clustered together in one of the small meeting rooms to talk and play cards. It's funny how strangers can bond together under circumstances like this. Technically, I've been excused from duty tomorrow, which is our last day. That means my civic duty will be done with soon. Of course, if I get picked again I must serve until that trial is over...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bye Bruce!


Our longtime truck, Bruce, is officially retired. Well, he isn't really retired, but we just sold him to make room for the F150 4x4 that is our new truck. Bruce was a great vehicle and took us everywhere we needed to go throughout graduate school and law school. He moved us from Michigan to Oregon and back again, throughout the Northwest, and even down to the Southwest. He saved us from a windstorm in Death Valley when we had to tie our tent to him. I slept in the back of Bruce on my way out to a week of solo backpacking in New York. He went to pick up Casey at the cattle ranch in Oregon. He's hauled us safely around for many, many miles--we'll miss you Bruce!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hotel treadmills

I'm at a conference in Grand Rapids for the next few days. I had some extra time so I hopped on a treadmill in the hotel. My plan was to run for a couple hours. I did about 7 miles on Monday so if I got 12-13 miles in today I would be all set for a long run this weekend. I had my mp3 player, some Sharkies for sustenance, and a water bottle. I quit after 7 miles. There is just something about treadmills that I cannot do. I'm not sure why I get bored so quickly, but there is just something about staring at a wall that just wears me out. Anyway, I'll just sneak in another 6 miles or so tomorrow and still be on schedule for my weekly mileage so it's not a big deal.

On the bright side, the short run gave me time to settle into my hotel room, eat some sushi, and finish a short article for Ultrarunning magazine that I've been working on. Yes, I'm taking my first step towards merging my professional life and personal interests with a somewhat sociological article discussing the role of online media in shaping ultrarunning culture. I've already sent an inquiry to the editor and she was interested in the article. It is not (I hope) too heavy on the academic stuff, but hopefully it will represent an interesting read.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I am speed

Okay, I'm not speed, but Elliott is really convinced that I am. Actually, I think he is convinced that I am able to run as fast as one of the 38 race cars that he has now accumulated from the Disney Cars movie (see above). Only a couple weeks into my training program and already my running has been hit and miss. Last week, I didn't run at all until Friday, when I got 10 miles in. This was followed by 20 miles on Saturday--I managed 10:00 minute miles, which is not great, but reassures me that I haven't fallen too far out of condition (speed is relative after all). Monday, Elliott and I headed out and cruised through 12 miles. "Don't walk, Daddy! I want to keep going!" he said at the end. Sounds like my training is going to consist of a lot of long runs... Seriously, everyone should have a 2 year old committed to a Disney movie about race cars as a trainer.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Plans for 2009

Okay, so the last month was a "recovery" month, albeit an unintentional one. I've been feeling a bit adrift and unmotivated without a goal for this year so I've decided to go ahead and pick one. So the official plan for 2009 is to run the Burning River 100 miler on August 1. It's held in Northeast Ohio and takes place before classes start so the logistics should be easier to manage than Haliburton last year. The heat factor is a bit of a concern as is the fact that I'm planning on being in China and Tibet for a couple weeks in June, but it would not be fun if it was easy. You can check out my training schedule below as well as a few area races I would like to complete along the way.Much to my shock, I am already ahead of schedule this week. I did 9 miles on Monday, 6 miles on Wednesday, and 10 miles today. I had a great run today since it was the first time that Elliott and I busted out the jogging stroller in months. I recently bought a small portable speaker for my mp3 player so Elliott and I both spent the run listening (at least while he was awake) to the Cars movie soundtrack. I often wonder what the fine residents of Freeland think of us. For those of you who follow my Facebook status updates, my concern that his lack of napping at home will lead to the demise of my ultrarunning career was unfounded. He won't nap at home, but the jogging stroller had him sleeping after 10 minutes. On top of that, when he woke up after mile 8 he insisted that we keep running. I only quit after 10 miles because I hadn't anticipated a very long run and had neither water nor energy gels (I also don't want to risk injury by ramping up too quickly after time off). The little guy was upset that the run was over! I mean he was crying tears disappointed! Now if that isn't motivation to up the mileage I don't know what is.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Snowshoeing!

Well, it's already 17 days into the new year and I've managed to go out for a wopping one run. The refrain is a familiar one, work and weather have stood in my way. While I don't particularly mind running in weather that is in the twenties or even teens, jogging strollers don't do well in snow and my running schedule until now has hinged critically on multi-tasking (i.e. childcare and running). That and a series of 12 hour work days has left me little extra time.


My one run, however, was quite a lot of fun as I've decided to embrace Michigan weather and my semi-rural residence by buying a pair of snowshoes for my birthday. Above is a picture of Elliott and I trying the snowshoes. I tried out pulling Elliott on a sled, which was fun for a while, but I couldn't get up to speed without kicking snow in his face (he had fun being pulled around our yard though!). Later I went out for a hour long run through some fields with the snowshoes by myself. I highly recommend the workout as it is relatively easy to run in them and it is fun to offroad through farm fields and areas that I wouldn't typically run. It is a bit like running in sand so you can expect slower speeds and a bit more of a workout, but it does have me looking forward to more snow. We are expecting about 8 inches by Sunday so that's a good thing.

On a side note, I did end 2008 on a high note with one final informal marathon to wrap up the year. I also racked up 2,599 miles over 2008. It's probably a bit more then that since I have been pretty irregular about recording my runs since my GPS began flaking out. Anyway, happy new year to all. I hope to have some time to think about my goals and plans, as well as those for the Lupus Runners, in the near future so stay tuned!