2016 Recap, and Welcome, 2017

Happy New Year. I’m happy to see 2016 behind me. Usually I can pick out the good and focus on it, but 2016 made that difficult. When asked, the best memory of 2016 I could point out was my exhilaration at seeing Hillary Rodham Clinton earn the Democratic Party’s nomination for President. (I didn’t think I’d live long enough to see a black man elected president; a woman president seemed completely out of reach.) It was a lovely feeling, while it lasted. I watched Mr. Trump do everything he could to derail his own campaign, and I was certain HRC would win. While 2016 had a lot of awfulness in it, the last two months cemented its place in my history. Here’s hoping it’s the last awful year for a very long time.

I will remember 2016 as the year I decided to run my first ultramarathon. That won’t happen until March 2017, but 2016 gets the credit. Last March, I volunteered as an aid station staffer for the Badger Mountain Challenge 100-miler. I was out there in the wee hours of the morning. All the 50-mile runners were done. The folks I saw were cutting it close to the cut-off. None of them were running. I found myself thinking, “I can do this…”

I ran my first half-marathon in February, so by the time I was standing around in the freezing cold waiting for ultramarathoners to stumble through, I was already looking for a new challenge. Because of all the running I was doing, I discovered I enjoyed trail running a good bit more than running on pavement. So I started doing more of it, and looking for more hilly races to train on.

I ran the Sage Rat Run Dirty Rat 15K in May. When I was debating signing up the race, I was very close to choosing the 25K because “it’s only another six & a half miles.” I was a bit disappointed that I’d become a person who could utter such a phrase. Although the Dirty Rat is really a run along a gravel road rather than a trail, it was a good day. One the return, I met up with a fellow runner with a similar, but slightly faster, pace. We pushed each other through the descent, despite the tired thighs. I saw my favorite-ever marathon course sign: “Why couldn’t Pheidippides have died here?” And I discovered Goldfish as race fuel. OMG they’re the best ever when you’re running long distances.

I returned to the Multnomah Falls Trail Run at the end of September. I’d put myself in a bad position by running Multnomah Falls for the second time six days before my second half marathon. It dawned upon me a month or so before these races that I needed to chose which one to train for because they’re very different runs. I’d be in better shape regardless of which one I chose to focus on, but not in ideal shape for both. As it turned out, I PR’d in both races. Nonetheless, I recognize I put myself in a bad position. When I add races to my calendar, I need to decide very quickly which ones are “A” races, which are “B” races, and which are training runs.

I don’t make resolutions – I’m one of those people that if I’m going to make a change, I’ll do it at the time I make the decision instead of waiting. But I know that having a date-certain is beneficial for a lot of people, so I don’t knock the concept.

I’m considering trying Whole30. I don’t believe I have any issues with grains, gluten, or dairy products, but I would benefit greatly by cutting out refined grains and added sugars. I’m also willing to try it to see if it helps with my sleep issues and my allergies.

My concern is that I’m half-way through training for Badger Mountain Challenge 50K, and the authors advise that performance will suffer during the 30-day reset. They recommend making the first week a light training week; my next recovery week isn’t until Week 16. I’m not sure I want to tackle this within two months of my race.

I have some concerns with fueling during lengthy training runs. If I’m not using honey, how do I get carbohydrate without getting too much fiber? 100 calories worth of potatoes has 2 gm of fiber; if I stick with 50 calories for every two miles, over the course of a 10-mile run, that’s 10 grams of fiber. My longest run in training is 22 miles. That’s a lot of fiber to put into a body that’s running. (For the non-runners reading, it’s a pretty common side effect that running makes the runner want to poop.)

I suppose I’ll keep pondering. In the meantime, there’s no reason I can’t start incorporating some of its changes in my diet now. But I’m not giving up weighing myself (it’s quite helpful in monitoring hydration), dairy, or my honey-based energy gel.

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