rabbitPRO Matt Leach took to the track last week, competing at a meet in London that reminded him of a festival, complete with fireworks at the finish.
Last Saturday I raced at the Highgate Night of 10,000m PBs which included the British Championships. This meet only started 4 years ago under the initiative of Ben Pochee of Highgate Harriers. 10,000m running in the UK was at a low point with very few opportunities to run a fast 10000m. However this meet has grown year on year and is certainly one of the most anticipated events of the British track season.
I flew back to the UK 9 days before the race to try to ensure jet lag would not be a factor in my performance. I am very grateful to my employer and manger who allowed me to work from London for the week as this certainly made it easier. After a couple of days of waking up at 5am my body-clock managed to adjust to British time in plenty of time for the race.
Returning to places where I had done sessions before was a real boost. I'd forgotten quite how pristine the grass at Cambridge was but the track there was as windy as ever. Both workouts in the week before the race went well and it was particularly nice to do one with Cambridge University Hare & Hounds, the club which had a huge part to play in my running story.
I had been to this event once before in 2014 but nothing could have prepared me for turning up in the middle of the meet on Saturday evening. Supporters completely surrounded the track and there was a London bus on the infield and marquees on both straights. The atmosphere was more like a festival than a track meet with barbeques, beer and a live band.
The men's B race was going on while I was warming up and while I tried to remain calm and not get over excited before 25 laps I couldn't help but get excited with the noise coming from the track. Fireworks for the winner added to the party atmosphere.
With memories of finding myself at the back of the 5000m race I had done previously I got out fairly hard and found myself in 4th for the first few laps. The first couple of miles felt really good but unfortunately may have been a little ambitious and it was a long run for home when the lead group started pushing on. The atmosphere was incredible and I am very grateful for all the support - I just wished I could have been given some of the supporters' energy later in the race! The back stretch was more like a club than a track with loud music and a Strava inflatable. When I felt good, running through this was one of the best feelings I've experienced in running.
I shuffled to the top of Parliament Hill for my warm down and seeing the lit up track with the City of London in the background just cemented what an inspiring event this was. It's a event run by athletes for athletes and summed up everything that I love about running. It just shows what the grassroots running community can do!
The defining feature of the Dipsea course is certainly its verticality. Save for a few flat blocks near the start, runners are nearly always going up or down. The hills make the race what it is, so success at the Dipsea requires a dedication to elevation. As Jeff reminds Tyler every week, it is not enough just to go fast on the uphills. Half the course goes downhill, so a good run is only possible if you’re really cranking on the descents. Jeff illustrated this in their first workout together and Tyler has taken the lesson to heart, running faster and more aggressively downhill ever since.
The combination of climbing, descending and clogged trails makes the Dipsea uniquely intense. Though it is a short race by trail running standards, the toll it takes on runners is significant. Jeff reports that he experiences the sort of full body soreness and exhaustion normally associated with a multi-hour effort. Keen observers at various points along the course will tell the competitors their current place, providing extra motivation to chase down a few more runners. On top of that, the legal shortcuts provide a built-in inducement to risk taking, often providing faster, less safe routes down the steep hillsides leading to the Pacific.
The basic contours of the course owe themselves to a long-ago wager. Having arrived in Mill Valley on their way to the Dipsea Inn, in what is now Stinson Beach, several members of San Francisco’s Olympic Club made a bet about who could reach the inn first. The route proved to be an intriguing one, and the members resolved to return. They invited others to recreate a similar feat the following year, 1905, and the Dipsea race was born. As the race website reports “In many ways, the Dipsea remains remarkably akin to that first race and a runner from 105 years ago would likely be able to find his way today.”
With the race just two weeks away, Jeff is thinking about the Dipsea almost non-stop. He has spent many hours analyzing previous races, calculating what time he’ll need to run to earn a black shirt. Black shirts, with the runner’s finishing place on the back, go to the top 35 runners in the Invitational section, and it looks like a run of 53 minutes should be good for one. Jeff’s pre-race analysis also extends to Strava, where he scouts segments and routes here in Santa Barbara that offer the steep nastiness his legs will need to be prepared for next month.
With the course gaining about 2200 feet in less than four miles of running, the climbing at the Dipsea is intense. The sharpness of the early stairs taken at speed can easily soften up the legs of the unprepared, rendering them defenseless against the steep roads, driveways and trails to come. The stadium workout that we started with introduced the guys to stairs and their run at the park let them focus on quick uphills and downhills. The idea for this week was to stretch things out, adding in some steep trails and a larger total amount of climbing.
The workout Jeff dreamed up this week was definitely the toughest yet, challenging the guys from start to finish. Increasing the suffering was the presence of a guest, Kris Brown, one of the few guys in town capable of pushing both Jeff and Tyler to the limit. Kris—who is coming off of wins at Santa Barbara Nine Trails (in near record time) and last week’s Born To Run 30 miler—is currently putting in big mileage preparing for a 100 mile race next month in San Diego. He agreed to join the guys for some repeats of Jesusita Trail, a local favorite in the hills above town.
The workout was 3 repeats on a section of trail that is about 1 kilometer long with an average gradient of 14%. The plan was to start off easy and slowly build but, well, that didn’t happen. The pace was pushed early and hard and both reps 1 and 2 were run at near suicide pace. Clearly, Tyler and Jeff’s downhill practice has been paying off, as they were able to put some daylight on Kris on the way down. Kris, still recovering from a big effort for his win last weekend, shut it down after 2 laps. Jeff and Tyler pushed one another on to complete the third, suffering visibly as they coached each other to the top.
There was, as ever, lots of discussion about the downhills. The trails here in Santa Barbara are rocky and steep, unforgiving of mistakes. The Dipsea course is no different and Jeff tells us all tales of broken ankles, arms and ribs. There’s also the poison oak, which is so abundant that contact is inevitable. It really is a race that requires dedication, but Tyler has known that from the start. It sure seems that both guys have put in the work, paid their dues to the stairs and trails—one can only hope that their efforts will be rewarded next month in Marin.
Everyone agreed that this workout was hard, maybe harder than the Dipsea. Three repeats meant significant climbing late in the run, which is one thing that the Dipsea mercifully lacks. With more base miles in his legs than he’s ever had before, Jeff is able to push himself to new depths on the trails and the results are obvious. He was completely toasted after this workout but his history as an athlete would suggest that he will soon be stronger than ever. Tyler is in fine fiddle, dropping a sub-5 mile with a big smile on his face to polish things off.
After the run, talk turns to black shirts and runner’s section victories. It’s hard not to feel optimistic for Tyler, watching him run so well and have so much fun. Jeff’s goal seems within reach as well. Running is a sport that rewards consistency, and for the first time he has achieved that in his training. “This is my last chance to win a black shirt as a scratch” he says, and we all understand a little better why he has been working so hard.
Back in April, our friend Tyler Hansen ran an impressive 7 minute PR on a hot day at the Boston Marathon that saw many runners struggle just to finish. Here, he shares the story of his race and the preparation that led to his outstanding performance. Photos by Tyler's wife Vanessa Hansen.
The Boston Marathon has been on my race “bucket list” for years. Last year my wife, Vanessa, and I decided that 2017 would be the year to run Boston. It was sometime in May of 2016 that I set out on this endeavor. So I signed up, trained and ran a qualifying marathon before registering for Boston in September. The qualifying race that fit my schedule was the San Francisco Marathon in July, a tough course with close to 1,000 feet of elevation gain. The race went well, as I took 1st place in my age group and earned my Boston Marathon qualifier, with a PR of 2:43.
Fast forward a few months to December, when I started my specific training for Boston. This meant 6am runs before work and a long run every Saturday. The benefit of running at 6am in Santa Barbara is watching the incredible sunrise every morning along Cabrillo Boulevard. I completed six 20+ mile long runs, most included the later miles at race pace. To test my legs in race conditions, I ran the San Diego Half Marathon in March, dropping a PR of 1:12:22. This was exactly where I wanted to be as my Boston Marathon goal was approximately 2:30-2:35.
Once we landed in Boston, my wife and I hit the ground running, literally. Our first few hours in Boston were crazy! Vanessa and I took a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Boston. We landed at 6am and met our friend Amanda at the Airport, took the subway to our Airbnb to drop off luggage, jumped back on the Subway and were at Boston Common by 9am as Vanessa was running the 5k at 9:30. Immediately we were emerged in the spirit of Boston, as we were surrounded by 10,000 people getting ready to run the 5k. At the finish line I met up with a few friends, including rabbit’s co-founders Monica and Jill. We watched some incredible finishes, including Ben True beating his own American record, running a 13:20 road 5k, Molly Huddle was out kicked in the final stretch as she got trapped behind a couple “slow” guys and Michael Wardian ran blindfolded, in his Elvis costume and still finished in 19 minutes. After that we stopped by the rabbit pop-up shop where Vanessa got an awesome Boston rabbit shirt!
That afternoon we went to the race expo. The line to get to packet pick-up was longer than that of a Disneyland ride. The expo literally had hundreds of vendors and thousands of people, it was a massive production. While in the expo an announcement was made over the loudspeaker that there was going to be a moment of silence at 2:49pm. It was the 4-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing and 2:49pm was the time of the incident. That minute of silence was an incredible moment to honor the victims. We stood thinking of that horrific day, the victims and how it impacted each of us, and there we stood united and Boston Strong!
The following day was Easter Sunday and we went to a church service at the historic Old South Church, which is right by the Boston Marathon finish line. The service included an honoring of the athletes and a guest speaker, Carlos Arredondo, who was one of the first civilian responders to run towards the bombing victims most recognizable in photographs with his iconic cowboy hat. I don’t know if it was just me or if others felt that all the events leading up to the race, made for a truly incredible experience, but it was immensely impactful.
Now, onto race day! The weather reached into the 70’s, with 85% humidity and it sure felt hot. I arrived in Hopkinton (where the race starts) around 8:00am and jumped on a shuttle to the Athletes Village. Most runners were already there and filled two massive fields. Everyone is doing their prerace preparations as we waited for our wave/corral to be called out. I was in wave 1/corral 1, so my group was called out first. We made our way down to the starting line, where we stood like cattle in our corrals for about 30 minutes until the race started. Standing in the herd you really don’t have much of an opportunity for a warm up. I made my way toward the front, assessing where a good spot would be, there was probably only a hundred or so runners in front of me. There I stood wearing bib #606 surrounded by bibs in the 100-300s. As I looked around me I had wondered if other athletes with significantly lower bibs thought I was out of place or perhaps overly confident. Haha. The start was really quite something, with masses of onlookers, people cheering, cameras every which way and wave after wave inching closer and closer to the starting line in anticipation. I was ready. It was humbling and inspiring to be standing within a few feet of some of the world’s greatest male distance runners. When the gun went off we started shuffling forward and settled into a pretty good pace by the time we reached the starting line. The first few miles were intense being surrounded by hundred of other runners. I’m fortunate that it was crowded for just a few miles from the start. As the pack thinned out I was able to settle into my “zone” and a good rhythm. I couldn’t believe this moment was finally here, I was running my first Boston Marathon.
I had reviewed the elevation profile countless times and thought I had an understanding of what to expect, but what surprised me on race day is that the course constantly fluctuates, either you’re running downhill or uphill. There are very few flat sections where you can settle into a consistent pace. The first few miles are all downhill and very fast. I did my best to keep relaxed and smooth, so I wouldn’t overexert my muscles early in the race. Due to the hotter/humid temps I was doing my best to keep hydrated and regulate my body temperature by grabbing a cup or two at each aid station one to drink and the other to pour over my head to keep cool. I settled in and was running at a 5:45 pace, but around mile 10 my body started feeling heavy and more exhausted then it should have this early on in the race. Around mile 20 or so would have been more typical. I knew at that moment the rest of the race was going to be very mentally and physically demanding.
I had to make a decision, either let the pain and negative thoughts slip into my head and take over or make a slight adjustment, find the positives, and keep my mind clear and focused. So I adjusted my pace and really tried to absorb the energy of the crowd. The mental aspect of racing is probably one of the most important attributes to be a successful endurance athlete. In every race there will be moments you feel invincible and other times you’d like to quit, but a strong athlete has the ability to quickly check those negative thoughts and convince their body that all is well and to keep going.
I decided to take in more calories than originally planned, which would give my muscles some extra energy. I had two gels on me at the start, grabbed a couple at mile 11, then another at 17 and 22. I ended up taking six gels, whereas I initially planned on only taking three. The thing with racing is that no two races will-ever-be-the-same and you have to be ready to adapt. It can be anything from how your body is feeling, to a tactical race strategy from an opponent, the weather, a mishap during the race, etc. This is what makes racing exciting and challenging. You won’t always run your best or fastest race, but it’s about giving it your all and walking away from the race knowing that you ran the best you possibly could on that given day.
I tried to take my mind off the way my body felt and really took in the crowd’s energy. From the starting line to the finish, people lined the course cheering us on. It was unlike anything I’ve ever raced before. Little kids had huge smiles on their faces and hands out ready for a high five, which just makes you feel good! It reminded me of watching the Tour de France on TV with people packing both sides of the street. That energy is so incredible and encouraging especially in some of the hardest moments, like the hills leading up to Heart Break Hill and the last mile of the race. A noteworthy highlight during the race was certainly the last mile, running through downtown Boston and rounding that final turn onto Boylston Street where the finish line is within view a quarter mile away. To be honest, I expected the finish line to be closer than it was, but that didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying the final moments of the Boston Marathon. I looked around at the high rise brownstone buildings, the streets lined with flags of different nations, people packing the sidewalk cheering and police officers everywhere to keep us safe. I crossed the iconic Boston Marathon finish line and as I slowed to a walk, looked down at my watch to see my time of 2:36:57. Although it wasn’t as fast as I had hoped, it was nearly a 7 minute personal record, so I was pleased. After the finish the runners have to walk about a mile to get out of the athlete area. I was wiped out, but when Vanessa walk up with a huge smile on her face to congratulate me, I forgot about being tired and was so excited to see her and tell her about the race.
Vanessa had to get back to the race as she was photographing for rabbit (her photos are featured in this blog). We made our way back to the corner of Boylston where runners make that final turn towards the finish. It was so awesome to watch as thousands of runners kept running by to accomplish their goal of completing the Boston Marathon. We were looked for runners wearing the Boston rabbit race singlet, so that Vanessa could capture their moments. It was really something, to spot familiar faces and fellow Boston rabbits, cheering them on as they raced towards the finish line.
Later that evening we attended the rabbit post-race party, (how cool is it that rabbit threw a post-race party) where all the Boston rabbits and friends could get together to share our stories of how the race went for each of us. This was an awesome way to hear about everyone’s race and the experiences they had. I think we all agreed the race was amazing, but the heat was tough, as people dealt with muscle cramps, extreme fatigue and even collapsing once or twice on the final stretch to the finish. Somehow, despite all the suffering endured, we had smiles on our faces as we shared our stories. I will be telling my story, of the time I ran in the Boston Marathon, for the rest of my days.
- Tyler Hansen, BOSTONrabbit
While head starts may be a common practice for grade schoolers racing across playgrounds, they are not the sort of thing you’d generally associate with an august, century-old race like the Dipsea. The idea of a head start is not complex, obviously, but it can be rather controversial. After all, depending on how you look at it, a head start is either a reasonable way to level the playing field or a complete corruption of the concept of a race. If you think the only point of a race is to see who can get from one point to another fastest, then you may well fall in the latter camp. That is a reasonable point of view, of course, and certainly captures a lot of truth about why we race.
Many would argue, though, that there’s more to it than that. Some runners are simply more talented than others, younger runners are generally faster than older runners and men tend to be faster than women. Within a specific community or club (or grade school), where you have the same group of people racing each other over and over, straight up racing can get pretty boring. How much fun is it if only a few people have any chance of winning? If the goal of racing is actually to enjoy running and to elicit the best performance from everyone, then a head start system makes a lot of sense.
When it comes to the Dipsea, the head starts also solve a major logistical problem. The trails that the race covers are mostly quite narrow and often very technical. There is simply not enough room for a big pack of runners to pass through most points on the course. By staggering the start, as the race does, it is possible to accommodate a much larger number of runners on the course. Indeed, as the race website explains, there are 52 separate categories of runners, so understanding the breakdown is key to understanding the race.
The categories are divided between two sections: Invitational and Runner. The Invitational section is composed of runners who are returning to the race, having earned their entry the previous year. The Invitational section is the focus of the race for most and where nearly all of the prizes are available, so it is no surprise that they start first. Leading the way for everyone else is the AAA group, for men younger than 7 or older than 73 and women younger than 8 or older than 65. Those runners start at 8:30 and, for the next 25 minutes, one new group sets off to chase them every minute. At the back are so-called scratch runners (men ages 19 to 30, like our friend Jeff), who are awarded no head start.
At 8:55 the scratch runners in the Invitational section tear off through Mill Valley, knowing they must work their way through hundreds of other runners if they want to run fast. After a two minute pause, the process starts again, with the AAA group from the Runner’s section making their way onto the course. Finally, at 9:22, the scratch group of the Runner’s section is allowed on course. With Tyler starting in the Z group at 9:21, you get an idea of just how many runners he will have to pass if he is going to make Jeff’s prediction come true and win the Runner’s section. For Tyler’s sake, we just have to hope that there are no really fast 7 year old girls racing for the first time this year.
Indeed, according to the Tamalpa Runners, a 10 year old girl won the race just 2 years after the current head start system was put in place in 1971. Since then, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported, winners have included an 8-year-old girl, a 64-year-old woman and a 72 year-old man. All in all, the results would seem to indicate that the head start system works quite well in achieving its stated purpose of making it possible for nearly anyone to win the race. By neatly undoing the benefits of being young and fast, the Dipsea encourages each runner to summons his or her own best performance on the day and rewards them with the knowledge that their best just may be good enough to win. Some may still feel that it’s a corruption of racing, but it is surely a pure expression of the essence of running.
For young runners, like our friends Jeff and Tyler, the head start system pretty much boils down to one thing: the need for aggressive racing. With scores of slower runners clogging up the trails ahead of you, to be timid is to be slow. Being young and strong means that both guys will naturally climb faster than most other runners, so it is on the downhills where they must work particularly hard to press their advantage. This is something Jeff has learned from experience and something he practices nearly every time he runs—it’s part of what he calls “refining your Dipsea instincts.”
With passing on their mind, the guys took to the trails of Elings Park for this sunrise workout. With its steep climbs and abundant single-track, Elings is a perfect place to hone Dipsea skills. Just like on the stairs, Jeff kept pushing the pace on the downhills. Somewhere in his mind Jeff probably knows that Tyler is faster than he is, but he sure doesn’t seem to let on when they are training together. With three weeks to go, both runners are feeling good and getting excited for race day. Be sure to check back in next week, when we’ll take a close look at the course.
F U E L E D F R I D A Y this week comes from our friend and rabbitPRO Lauren Totten! Lauren shares with us this delicious recipe for gluten free French toast, which is simply perfect for fueling after a long run or tough workout. Enjoy the recipe from Lauren herself:
I’m a coffee and toast person, all day, every day. But, there are definitely ways to do that more nutritiously. My husband, Seth, really likes a good post-run breakfast. I’m content with toast, flaky salt, butter and loads of coffee. There is always a way to make toast better. How? First, quality bread. Whether you make your own or look to get a local fresh bread with minimal ingredients, the key to great toast is fresh, nutrient dense bread. For almost four years now, Bread SRSLY, a gluten-free sourdough company out of San Francisco has sponsored me.
Now, they are in local markets, and many Whole Foods. While I am not strictly gluten intolerant, I strive to eat nutrient dense foods. I found this in Bread SRSLY. It’s packed with different grains like millet and brown rice. This recipe includes Bread SRSLY bread, but if you can’t get your hands on a delicious loaf, you can order from them online and have it shipped to your door.
Or, you can pick up a different local loaf of sourdough. Now, prepare for how to make a toast obsession even better: French Toast.
1 Whole (Unsliced) Sourdough Loaf (preferably Bread SRSLY seeded loaf)
Almond Milk or Whole Milk
3 Eggs (or a flaxseed mixture if vegan)
1-2 TBS Maple
1 TBS Cinnamon
First, thickly slice the sourdough loaf; the best French Toast is thick pieces! (No one wants soggy french toast) Since Bread SRSLY is porous, it absorbs well, but not to the point of sogginess.
Second, whisk the eggs. Once a good consistency, add milk and whisk, then maple, and finally, cinnamon.
Third, pour part of the mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish. Make sure the slices sit well in the mixture. Pour the remaining mixture on top. This could take two casserole dishes.
Fourth, let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but longer is better. When ready to eat, let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then heat a skillet to medium heat and cook slices 3-4 minutes a side, or until they seem ready to flip!
We like to top ours with butter and maple. But, be creative! My husband enjoys almond butter or jelly, too. Fuel up!
- Lauren Totten, rabbitPRO
The Dipsea is a special race for lots of reasons. For one thing, of course, it’s old. Started in 1905, the Dipsea is the oldest trail race in the U.S. For another, the race covers an odd distance of 7.4 miles and traverses a wildly varying mix of terrain and surfaces as it travels from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach. Then there’s the intricate Headstart system, put in place “so that people of all ages can compete in this race on a more or less equitable basis.” Not to mention, the course itself is more of a suggestion than a requirement. A whole menu of shortcuts and alternative paths is available to savvy racers, with significant time and places to be gained by making the right decisions.
With the race capped at 1500 runners, it takes considerable resolve just to get in. Indeed, like most aspects of the Dipsea, the entry process is unique and potentially frustrating. For a first time entrant like our friend Tyler Hansen (gray shirt), getting in required enlisting the assistance of a Bay Area relative. By emailing his application to his wife's uncle in San Jose, and having the uncle drive it to a specific post office in Sunnyvale for mailing, Tyler was able to ensure that his was among the first applications to reach an all-important PO Box in Mill Valley. With 500 entries allotted on a first come, first serve basis, prompt arrival to the PO Box is the best bet for a newcomer to get in. In Tyler’s case, the work paid off and both he and his wife received entry to this year’s race.
For a returning runner, like rabbit’s Community Manager Jeffrey Stern (green shirt), the story is different. By finishing among the top 450 runners in the Invitational Section in 2016, Jeff automatically earned himself entry to this year’s race, which will be his ninth consecutive running. As a Mill Valley native, Jeff knows the Dipsea inside and out and has a special passion for the race, often proclaiming that he knows where he’ll be on the second Sunday in June (when the race takes place) for the rest of his life. In fact, Jeff’s love of the race is a large part of what inspired Tyler to sign up for the Dipsea.
Tyler is what you would call an accomplished runner. Last month he ran a 2:36:57 at the Boston Marathon for a PR in tough conditions. He is a champion on the trails, having won Santa Barbara’s brutal Nine Trails race, and a crusher of 5ks. Tyler is a smart and disciplined runner, a high school cross country coach who knows the sport intimately. For all of these reasons, Jeff thinks that Tyler has a great shot to win the Open Section in which he will be running. The Open Section is for runners who have not earned their way in with a prior performance, and Open Section runners face the disadvantage of starting at the very back. In order to place high enough to earn their way into the Invitational Section, Open Section runners must pass the large number of runners who will have started ahead of them.
For Invitational runners like Jeff, the situation is somewhat better, although passing remains a key skill. As a 30 year old male, this is Jeff’s last year in the scratch group, which receives no head start. Everyone in the section who is not a man between the ages of 19 and 30 will already have started the race, some with a head start as large as 25 minutes. If you have an ambitious race goal like Jeff does, you’re going to have to pass hundreds of people to get there. Jeff spends a lot more time racing bikes than running, but he runs pretty well for a dabbler. His Dipsea time has steadily been dropping and last year he placed 99th in the Invitational Section, which earned him the honor of a preassigned number for this year’s race. In 2017, with 99 on his chest, Jeff is looking to one-up that accomplishment by finishing in the top 35. That would earn him a coveted black shirt and nearly unsurpassed bragging rights among his Marin County friends. While it may seem like a big jump, Jeff has been running more than ever this year and a recent 5k PR of 17:06 points to the fact that he is in the best running shape of his life.
Because the Dipsea is such a specific race, Jeff and Tyler both believe that it demands some specific training. Early in the course, racers encounter long, steep staircases. The runner who is not prepared for this will face quite a shock to their legs. Likewise, staircase descents are treacherous but must be run quickly. The stadium workout you see here provided the perfect opportunity for the guys to practice both skills. They did 10 x 400 meters at a moderate effort, with one hard set of stairs between each lap, in a total of about 34 minutes. Both agreed it was a solid workout and Jeff pushing the pace on the way down was an eye opener for Tyler about what a fast run at the Dipsea will require.
We’ll catch up with the guys next week for another workout and more about this fascinating race, and we'll follow their stories through race day on June 11 to see how it all turns out for our friends. If you're already starting to get Dipsea fever, be sure to keep an eye out for invaluable insider tips from Jeff in the weeks to come!
F U E L E D F R I D A Y is brought to you this week by our friend Annmarie, the FitFoodieMama. If you haven't already, go check our her awesome blog filled with amazing recipes perfect for runners!
This week, let's talk about hydration! As spring melts into summer, the heat is real. We know some of you are already struggling to stay hydrated as the temperature rises. In addition to the obvious choices (water, electrolytes, etc.), there are also more creative ways to hydrate. So, we wanted to show you a delicious and fun way to hydrate with these Nuun blueberry mint hydration popsicles!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Nunn Hydration- they’re electrolyte tablets that are completely gluten, dairy and soy free. These portable tablets are packed with active ingredients like sodium, potassium and magnesium to keep you hydrated and alleviate muscle cramps. It’s like a portable sports drink…and now a popsicle.
Makes 6 popsicles
Check out Annmarie's blog and find the original recipe here!
Do you have a love/hate relationship with running? Don't worry, you are not alone. For many of us, our relationship with running is, well, "complicated." Running is hard. It hurts. It disappoints. It frustrates.
But, running is also very easy to love. It gratifies. It empowers. It challenges. It satisfies. Running is a beautiful thing that provides a feeling like none other. It's pure, it's simple, it's joyful.
On the blog, RADrabbit Elizabeth Forbes shares with us her story about how she got started running and why she still finds joy in logging those miles despite setbacks and injuries. Enjoy the blog in her own words!
Why do I keep doing this to myself?
Sometimes (like now, for a totally random and not at all related example, when I’m typing with my left leg propped up on a bag of frozen peas to ice a recently-strained Achilles tendon), I wonder why I keep coming back to running. The cautious hope, the heartbreak, the slog, and all the other frustrating bits of the running experience together can create an emotional and physical roller coaster that just won’t quit, and always has another loop around the corner. And yet, I can’t seem to quit running, as insane as the roller coaster sometimes feels. I’ve been a runner since high school, when my sister told me that the soccer team at our local high school “sucked” and that I should try out for cross-country instead. The rest is history, or at least it’s my history. I became addicted to all of what running had to offer me, a shy and skinny teenager with energy and intensity to burn: newfound self-confidence, leadership, competitive drive, and sisterhood. (The fact that I magically grew leg muscles and could beat many of the boys on my team were serious perks.)
But running has also given me plenty of lows, including stress fractures, torn tendons, devastating iron-deficiency and anemia, sciatica, and the many heartbreaks associated with falling short of lofty goals. So why do I keep coming back?
It’s for the click; you know what I’m talking about. It’s when months of exhaustion and random aches give way to one perfect day on the track, the road, or the trails. It’s that day when you find yourself running with joy, when you push through your muscles’ pleas for mercy and wring one more surge out of them just for the fun of it. Sometimes you click in a race, and sometimes on any given Tuesday. This feeling is what I suspect is often called the runner’s high, which is definitely a quick and easy way of describing it; but in my opinion, the description falls short. Anybody who has felt their body click into that sublime gear knows that they’re not just feeling capable, or happy, or even joyful. You’re suddenly giddy, and hungry for the next step, mile, or repetition. You push yourself almost too far into the red, but it feels exciting instead of daunting. When your body is clicking along in that mode, it can do anything your mind tells it to; that ability is intoxicating, and I personally can’t stop running and preparing for it to happen again.
That’s why I keep running, even during moments when my latest injury (heyyyy strained Achilles, how’s it going) has got me feeling negatively. No matter how few and far between these runs that ‘click’ get, there is always another one, and just like that I’m hooked on the process again. The guarantee of an eventual click has been especially important for me to remember recently, as the past few years have challenged my running. I moved to Santa Barbara to start graduate school in 2014, after several years of working and living in my home state of Massachusetts. During those years, I had started marathon training and fallen in love: I had stellar training partners, supportive local teammates full of New England spit and vinegar, and miles of roads and trails in my backyard. The summer before I moved, however, those years of too much running with too little stretching caught up to me, and I developed a crippling pain in my left foot. I arrived in Santa Barbara injured, frustrated, and as out of shape as I’d felt in a long time; needless to say, it was noooot a great way to start a running career in one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Adjusting to my new, undefined graduate-school schedule also made it hard to figure out where running would fit; for awhile, I found myself working too late at night and squeezing in runs, cross-training, and physical therapy appointments whenever I could identify free time.
All this change and adjustment meant that after moving to Santa Barbara, I experienced the longest period since I started running without a run that clicked. My motivation for racing dropped, and I felt more anxious while running than relaxed or happy. However, also during this time, I realized how much running competitively meant for my personal happiness. It was the first time that I hadn’t actively incorporated racing and a running community into my life in over ten years, and I felt the loss profoundly.
Fortunately, my foot eventually healed. And, though it took some time, I worked my way back up to running with ease and joy. I started attending the practice sessions of local running groups, and last spring I joined the RADrabbits. I hadn’t realized how revitalized I would feel by being part of a team again. And one day on the track, early in this calendar year, I felt it click. I surged around turns even while splashing through the deep puddles our SoCal winter storms had dumped on the local university’s track, a sh*t-eating grin plastered on my face. Since then I’ve felt that same giddy happiness during several runs, and I’m hungry for more. Current gimpy Achilles tendon notwithstanding, I have been running with more purpose and joy than I have since moving to Santa Barbara; once I shake off the (thankfully) last vestiges of this injury, I’m looking forward to identifying some races I want to compete in, and to seeing what I’ve got these days.
And here we go again…!
- Elizabeth Forbes, RADrabbit
rabbitPRO Caitlin Chrisman reflects on the Boston Marathon and the sacrifices that it requires from runners of all abilities.
Marathon Monday. The day that almost 30,000 people have been eying...for either years or months. It takes a solid qualifying time in order to enter the Boston Marathon, and, for some, it takes more than one attempt to finally hit the time. It's a grueling endeavor to achieve a Boston Qualifier—more commonly known as a BQ in the running community—yet one that many make with pride. Take this year’s race stats to get an idea:
27,221 started, including ~40 elites
53 wheelchair and 28 hand cycle finishers
The finisher's medals and satisfied smiles that some work years to get.
Among those numbers, a handful of elites toed the line. Elite runners - those who live and breathe running, whose entire profession depends on high placement or fast times at world and national events. Professional runners dedicate every waking minute to fine tuning their training to achieve the fastest times possible. They not only run miles at paces basically unimaginable to even the aspiring sub-elites such as myself, but also place a high focus on all the ancillary exercises and routines with the hopeful optimism that injuries will be kept at bay. Weight lifting, stretching, doing drills - these activities take almost as much time as the run itself.
It comes without surprise then that every decision is based around the given training regime at the time. What should I eat? Should I run again later today? Did I run hard enough today? Is it a good idea to go to the bar tonight with my friends?….I have a long run tomorrow… The minutiae of their day to day activity revolves around their training schedule; after all their paycheck is dependent on performance, just like any other job. Ultimately, though, the thought process outlined here for an elite isn't that much different than any one of those 27,221 runners who toed the line at the Boston Marathon just a couple weeks ago.
You may not believe me. I don’t look like them, you might say. Or, I don’t run nearly as fast as them.
Those two statements might indeed be facts. But, think about the time that you put in every day to run, while balancing a full-time job and maybe even a partner, or a family. Think about the sacrifices you’ve made, like leaving a dinner party early to guarantee that you make the early workout well-rested. Or think about those vacations that you decided not to go on because they were in the middle of a marathon training cycle.
The point is that it doesn’t matter if you’re an elite. The accomplishment is in qualifying for and competing at the Boston Marathon, not in the time. It’s in the sacrifices you make to get there. It’s the process that warrants respect and pride.
Just as the professional runners at Boston put in hard work every day, I always remind myself that there are millions of other runners doing exactly the same thing - putting in work to achieve their goals one mile at a time.
F U E L E D F R I D A Y is brought to you this week by our friend Annmarie, the FitFoodieMama. You have to check our her awesome blog filled with amazing recipes perfect for runners!
Inspired by the Dr. Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham, this is a healthy way to enjoy "green eggs"! It might seem like a strange combination at first but eggs and pesto really do taste rather well together. In fact, it might even taste amazing with ham (or better yet, bacon too) but to keep it simple (and meatless), in this recipe we skip the pig and serve it straight up egg and pesto-style, which really offers all the flavors it needs.
The eggs themselves are just simply made sunny side up and the pesto consists of just kale, parsley, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.
If you prefer the extra tang of parmesan, you can add some in (or find a dairy free version) but the recipe is pretty darn good as is.
You can find the original recipe here! Enjoy!