Monday, October 27, 2014

Athlete Interview: Myles McCormick

One of the runners I have enjoyed getting to know through social media lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  Myles McCormick is a regular man of encouragement to me and many others as we pursue our running goals.  A short time ago, we exchanged some e-mails and direct messages after he ran his 7th marathon on October 19, 2014.  The following is the interview that came out of our catching up with one another.
Brad Zinnecker/Trail Running Faith:  Myles, you recently had a big race.  What race was it and why did you chose to run it?

The Prince Edward Island Marathon Medal, 2014.
Myles McCormick:  On Sunday, October 19, I ran my 7th marathon, the Prince Edward Island Marathon, (PEI).  This was the site of my first ever race, a 10K.  I have completed several 1/2 marathons at this event and having previously enjoyed the event & location, I decided to run my Fall marathon here this year.

Brad:  What did you learn during this race?  What went well?

Myles:  I learned that I can maintain a set pace for 42.2K on my own along a varied course of trail & road, flat & hilly sections, with beautiful scenery & lonely trails.  (There were only 330 people in the marathon.)  I was pleased that I broke through my wall of getting under 4 hours!

Myles breaks 4 hours but spends a bit of time post-race recovering in the med tent!  All is good though---Gatorade and a medal!!!  #7!
Brad:  That's awesome Myles!  You must've really pushed yourself as the pic you sent me shows you partying in the med tent afterwards!!!  :)  What struggles in training, preparing, traveling, and/or during the race did you have to deal with, manage, overcome?

Myles:  This year I had to see a pedorthist to stabilize my footing.  I also worked with a physiotherapist on a strengthening program.  Also, I changed my running program, form, and training plan via my coach.  

Myles looking good as he runs the PEI Marathon.
Brad:  Wow!  That's a lot of major work.  It obviously helped.  I have never heard of a pedorthist and actually had to look it up and included a link of the basic definition for my readers.  (Perhaps they knew what one is, but not me!  Still learning!)  Though your race went really well, what do you think, if anything, you could have done better?

Myles:  I realize now that I have to take in more electrolytes & gels to avoid muscle cramping near & at the end of the race.  Comfortable running temps & a varied course of trail & road with a lower level of electrolytes caused calf muscle cramping after my finish.

Brad:  Hence the med tent.  That must have hurt a bit.  Do you think that there is a connection between suffering and endurance, and if so, what is it?

Myles:  As running distances & volume increase during training & racing, the body becomes fatigued.  You enter a zone where your mind is also challenged, causing you to pull out resources & routines while on the road to reach the finish line.  It's amazing how one feels with 10K to go.  This is the point where you fight & work to earn your medal.

Brad:  And your PR/PB as well.  Myles, what joy do you find in running?  What joy did you find in competing in this race?  Do you feel joy is easy to attain or fleeting?

Myles:  I find great joy in running solo where it is just you and the open road/trail, where you can unwind and get away from it all awhile, challenging yourself with your training, pace, distance, or the route.  I also enjoy running with friends which always helps overcome difficult training phases.  The sense of comradery and support you receive while on the road is valuable as a resource to improve by learning from others!  

Myles was stronger!
When it comes to distance running, sometimes it is the small accomplishments that provide joy but for me this race allowed me to break through my runners wall and run a sub-4:00hr race---a goal that through injury I found difficult to reach.

Brad:  Myles, your wife and I have both struggled with vertigo.  My cases seem pretty mild and fleeting compared to your wife's struggles.  Has her vertigo impacted your running at all?

Myles:  With my wife being my strongest supporter while battling vertigo, I have learned to take my runners aches & pains in stride as I know that there are others that are fighting tougher battles than my road issues.  For all she has & continues to go through with her vertigo, I dedicated my run to my wife Bonnie & it was amazing as I spotted her at the finish line cheering me on while having a great day after she just ran a 5K.  Runners high & tears of joy for both of us, priceless! 

Brad:  That's awesome Myles.  So glad she could be there and you two could share those moments together, they knit us more closely to one another than we sometimes realize.  Anything else you would like to add?

Myles:  There is something special about the support, encouragement, and friendship one receives from fellow runners that extends from one community to another as we continue to learn & improve each time we hit the road for a run.  All the best Brad.

Brad:  Thanks Myles.  Congrats on number 7!  What an awesome job!

Marathon number 7, PEI, complete! :)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Athlete Interview: Kaci Lickteig

Last year I met a couple at the Dizzy Goat 3-6-12 Hour Race in Gretna, NE put on by the G.O.A.T.z., (Greater Omaha Area Trail Runnerz).  Later in September at TNF ECS WI, I bumped into them again and as we were talking, they started telling me about this young lady from their area that was tearing up the trails and winning races one after another, some of them outright.  Her name was Kaci Lickteig, aka, the Pixie Ninja.  

The night before this year's Dizzy Goat, I was staying in a hotel just south of Omaha as a storm unleashed outside.  Both Kaci and I were on social media at the time and talking about how crazy it was pouring down.  I told her I was racing the 6 hr the next day, and she said she'd be there to volunteer.  We made plans to say hi, and sure enough, a few loops in, there she was at the start/finish line aid station, helping out runners as they came through the end of their laps.  Kaci was very nice, encouraged me in the high heat & humidity, and even filled my handheld bottle for me a couple of times.  What other sport do you get volunteers, who just a few days later, compete in the superbowl of their discipline, aka, Western States, where Kaci came in 6th with a time of 20:07:10.  Amazing!  

Kaci graciously allowed me to send her some questions so I could interview her after her most recent triumph at the end of September.

Stream crossing in her Pearl Izumi kit.
Brad Zinnecker/Trail Running Faith:  Kaci, you did awesome on your most recent race, tell us about it...

Kaci Lickteig:  Thank you. I ran The Bear Chase 100K in Lakewood, Colorado.  It is a 12.5 mile looped course on mainly single track terrain.  I had run the 50 mile last year and loved it.  It was on a different course in 2013 due to the flooding, so I wanted to see what the real course was like.  I loved the course this year as it was almost 100% trail and it had 3 water crossings per loop. 

I had an excellent race.  I wasn't sure what to expect, since it was my 2nd 100K.  My first was over a year ago.  I started with a pace I 'felt' like I could hold for the 62.2 mile distance.  I was very consistent with my loop splits and only started to slow down on my 4th and 5th loops (5 total for the 100K).  I attribute that to the distance and the warm weather conditions.  However, I ended up finishing strong and I improved my 100K time by over an hour.  It was a great experience. 

Brad:  That's incredible!  Kaci, you won this race outright, 1st overall, and by over an hour---what's that like? A lot of us can dream about that but never actually realize it.

Kaci:  It still surprises me when I win a race outright.  I just know to run my own race and stay within myself and I will have the race I am meant to have.  It is a great feeling, but finishing in itself is just as great and rewarding.  

Brad:  Very true, I remember the emotions that struck me as I prepared to run down the straight away to the finish of my first 50K.

Tell us about this race...what is special about the Bear Chase Race?  Why did you choose it?  Why should others consider it?

Kaci:  Like I said, I had run it last year and loved every bit of it.  It is very organized and runner friendly.  Last year when the race was almost cancelled, the Race Director contacted every runner by phone to let them know.  Now that is admirable by an RD.  I believe it is a wonderful event for beginners to experts to run.  The loops make it crew and runner friendly along with the trails being very runnable.  You get a bit of everything to experience---hills, water crossings, trails, etc.  It is great for beginners because they have multiple distances so that you can get a true feel of what trail running is like.  I highly recommend it!  

Brad:  It sounds very tempting!  Tell us Kaci, what went well for you on this race?  What did you learn?  What would you do differently? 

Kaci:  I ran even splits and stayed focused throughout the race.  I learned that I can push limits that I didn't think were possible.  I would have tried to get in a few more calories my last two laps.  I was on the verge of being nauseated so I had to be careful.  Otherwise, I felt I executed the race very well.

Brad:  Kaci, as you learn to push through your limits and discover more of your ability, the rest of us stand in awe!!!  Keep it up!  Some amazing things await in the future I think!  

At the same time, in most ultras, there's always something we have to deal mentioned nausea, what other struggles did you have that you had to overcome?

Kaci:  I struggled with keeping cool and not getting overheated.  The course is pretty open and there were no clouds out that day.  The temps rose to the mid 80s.  I found that by dumping water over my head and getting cooled down in the water crossings helped.  The important thing was to keep my face and core temperature down.

Brad:  Yes, that's so true.  I loved that at the Dizzy Goat they had those cold, wet foam cloths at the start/finish aid station to wipe/cool off your face, head, neck.  So key on those hot days.  

What do you think is the connection between suffering and endurance, physically, spiritually?

Kaci:  I think there is a strong spiritual connection with endurance events.  I feel like you have to let go and let God in these situations.  I find it calming to pray during the race, whether I am feeling good or bad.  I always think back to times when Jesus suffered, and know that I am in no way close to what he has been through.  I know I can persevere on with Jesus on my side. 

Brad:  I agree.  Whether things are going well at the moment, or things seem to be unraveling, Philippians 4:13 is a good reminder, that "I can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens me."   Faith is both needed and can be deeply nurtured through the perseverance and strength gained in endurance events like trail and ultrarunning. 

Kaci, what would you attribute your success in ultrarunning and running to? 

Kaci:  I attribute my success in ultrarunning and running to be from having such a passion for running.  I love to run and enjoy being able to see results from the work I put in.  I have a driven Type A personality that helps keep me focused on never settling for mediocre.  I strive to be the best that I can be.  Hard work and dedication is how I have become the runner I am today. 

Brad:  What/how do you find joy?

Kaci:  I find joy in running by feeling free and the rush of endorphins from running.  It is my 'social hour'.  It makes my day complete.  I simply love it!

Brad:  What's next for you? 

Kaci:  I am running a 50K rails to trails race which is part of the Market to Market Relay here in Nebraska.  I am looking forward to running with some fast competition and seeing if I have improved since last year. 

Brad:  Anything else you'd like to add? 

Kaci:  Always keep running fun and interesting.  Never allow it to become a chore.  Believe in yourself and let go and let God!

Brad:  Thanks Kaci!  Kaci is one of the nicest young ladies I have met out there running.  She has a wonderful smile and a very helpful, encouraging attitude.  But don't let that fool you, when she's racing, she's racing to run her best and win.  She is the Pixie Ninja!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Athlete Interview: Rod 'Jed' Paul

"No ordinary runners.  No ordinary race."  That's the tagline on Twitter for the Canada Army Run which was held on September 21, 2014.  While I had never heard of this run, living in the States, several of my Twitter friends are from Canada and many were running in it.  So, I asked Rod 'Jed' Paul if he would let me interview him after the race.  The following is his account of this year's Canada Army Run.

('Jed' is a nickname Rod has on Twitter amongst a group of us runners from around the world who greet and encourage one another daily.  I am honored to be part of this group along with 'Jed.')

Trail Running Faith/Brad Zinnecker:  I understand you ran the Canada Army Run 1/2 Marathon, is that correct?  Why did you pick this race?

Rod 'Jed' Paul:  Yes, I did run the Canada Army Run in Ottawa, Canada.  You have a choice whether you’re participating in the half marathon or 5K.  The courses take you past scenic sites in Canada’s Capital, which is beautiful in September.  Canada Army Run is unlike any other run in the country.  In fact, this event has become the fastest growing run in Canada!  In less than six years, the number of participants has more than tripled, from 7,000 in the 2008 inaugural run to more than 25,000 in 2014.  From the cannon used as a “starter’s pistol” to the “dog-tag” medals soldiers place around all participants necks at the finish line, this unique event is “military” from start to finish. More than anything, though, Canada Army Run, is about Canadians and the Canadian Armed Forces – Air Force, Army, and Navy – joining together in the spirit of camaraderie and community. It’s a chance for the troops to extend the military esprit de corps to Canadians and to thank them for their support. And, it’s an opportunity for Canadians to say thanks to the men and women who serve them in so many ways at home and abroad.

Brad:  That is sooo cool! I am sure the people love being able to thank the men and women who serve them, and for them to turn out in such huge numbers shows the people do truly appreciate their armed forces men and women very much.  What an honor for the people of your Air Force, Army, and Navy.  The runners too, especially with the dog tags as medals, must feel a real personal connection to the soldiers as well.

This is about 50% of the 13,000 running the 1/2 marathon according to Rod who was in about the middle of the starting corrals.
Did you run the race with anyone?  

'Jed':  I run every race with My wife Joanna, she makes every race special!

Brad:  That's really great.  Tell me about your race, what went well?   What did you learn?  What went wrong?  What would you do different next time?

'Jed':  Our timing getting to the event, parking and up to the start area went well. 

I learned a lot around nutrition and hydration. This run was in the middle of full marathon training and as such a lot of the testing and trying different things out continued into this run. It was a good learning experience in this regard.  

I made a mistake with using a single product for my nutrition and hydration…I think for my next half I will go back to tried and true gels.  The nutrition mixed in my backpack hydration pack works well if I can focus on drinking it consistently.   But, when I didn't, I came off the rails and couldn't get it back. The last half of the race I had zero energy and ran on empty...

The biggest issue came from my bladder being full when the race drinking water wasn't really possible.  I made a bad decision to try and run it off...the temperature was cool so I never got to a point where I didn't need to relieve myself like I had hoped and by 10K I had to hit a port-a-potty. The nutrition after that still wasn't enough as I was use to gels that give you a little punch when you take them and the product I was mixing in my water doesn't do that so I burned out on the last half and couldn't get my energy back.

Brad: That's tough and can make for a hard slog at the end.  I also understand you forgot your watch according to what you mentioned on Twitter.  How'd that impact your race? 

'Jed':  At the first of the year it was a huge impact when my watched malfunctioned...completely threw me off my game and race.  This race I was okay without it except that I was using it to time when to drink my hydration/nutrition and without it there to regulate me I lost my way.  Again, another good learning experience.  I am trying VERY hard not to depend on any technology during a race.  In training runs this seems to be okay and I am seeing some progress-but in races I am still using it to see pace.   If it fails I am okay as I can now tell from how hard I am breathing, etc., where I am with pace, so it is becoming less of a concern.

Rod and his wife just before the Canada Army Run 1/2 Marathon.

Brad:  I also heard the weather wasn't good, how'd that impact the race? 

'Jed':  The heavens opened up the second half of the race...opened up as in raindrops bouncing off the pavement.  I don't think it impacted my race but it did impact me after the race as we were stuck in it for about an hour…we got a serious chill and I came home, (a twelve hour drive) with a bad cold.

Brad:  Yeah, that cold has hung on a bit for you.  Tell me Rod, as you came to this race, what were your goals?  What did you want to get out of it? 

'Jed':  This race marked one year of running for me.  This was my ninth 1/2 Marathon and I wanted to finish it with a PR.  My wife was sick all week and didn't think she was going to be up to the I was okay to just go run with her, turned out she was on fire and it was me who was dragging!  We finished in 2:04.  (This was my third 1/2 marathon in as many weeks…I was dragging more than I thought.)

Brad:  Wow!  That's a lot of racing in your first year and especially over the last few weeks.  It kind of leads into my next question.  In distance running, suffering & endurance often go hand in hand.  What do you think we gain from suffering in racing? Do you think suffering & endurance in running and/or life can lead to joy?

'Jed':  I don't know if I would agree with is the wrong word for me, I push myself in endurance running.  I don't suffer but I do hurt at times.  It is a good hurt as I know it means I pushed the limits and grew because of it.  I never consider it suffering as I enjoy it too much.  If I over do it and injure myself then I pay the price of not training smart.  I practice a lot of injury prevention techniques and to date I have not had a bad injury.

Brad:  Lol!  I'm not sure everybody always enjoys it!  That's pretty incredible that you have raced so much in your first year and yet had no bad injuries.  It seems so common for a majority of runners to struggle especially when they first come into running and racing.  

Looking back over the Canada Army Run, what joy did you get from the race? 

'Jed':  I met twitter friends for the first time.  I went on a road trip with my wife to beautiful Ottawa. I got to run with some amazing and inspiring soldiers who defend our country and way of life, some were injured and were there running or wheeling with was a very inspirational run and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Rod's wife Joanna, Rod, and our mutual Twitter friend Jane.
Brad:  Anything else you want to add?

'Jed':  That about covers it.

Rod & Joanna get their dog tags!!!  Congrats!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Race Season Change and Update, 2014

So, 2014 has been good.  I have done 9 races in 6 months in 4 states with two very big PR's in the 25K and 26.2M.  I have also done well in some of the shorter races including an age group placement.  I have run 25K, 17M, 15K, 5K, 6HR, 8K+, 5K, 26.2M, 5K, all trail races in either IA, MN, NE, or WI.  

Recently I had decided to run the 13.1M at the Three Rivers Trail Run while one of my sons ran the 5K.  But due to various logistical reasons, we have decided to forego this race.  I believe this will benefit me as though I have had some good runs recently, I do not feel fully recovered from TNF ECS WI race weekend in mid-September.

Instead, I will run the RCC Run the Woods trail race with two other family members.  Two of us did this last year and had a blast.  It's a tough late Fall run with a simple but awesome lunch afterwards. (Wonderful beef stew from the Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant!)  For one of them this will be their first race over 5K, just as it was for the other one last year!  This will be race number 10 for me this year, but taken at an easy pace.  

This will also allow me to spend some time out in Pine Ridge, Sac & Fox, and Sand Springs Conservation Areas, figuring out the race courses for the Fall 2015 races others and I will be putting on for Hardin County Conservation.

My goal is still to run 1200 miles for the year, but right now I am a bit behind at 866 when I should be just over 900.  So, we will see.  Hopefully I can at least pass last year's 1106+ which is my biggest year.  I will also be volunteering at The Runner's Flat 50K.

More interviews to come soon too!  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

P.S. Get 20% off with code "wonderful" for The Runner's Tea, but hurry, it's only good today and tomorrow, 10/2-10/3.

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