Dave – Another great start to the year, it’s important to have fun and laugh at yourself

This was our 5th year for this event. It’s always tough getting up in the morning after partying hard the night before, but it’s a great way to start the new year. It’s only a short swim and a one mile run on the beach, but you get rewards/penalties for how many clothes you wear and if you drink a beer between the swim and run. I always do pretty well get minutes taken off for both categories.

70’s themed NY’s eve party

This year we had been to a 70’s theme NY’s eve party and I was dressed a John Travolta, we had a blast and danced the night away to around 2am. I had 2 costumes planned and decided to go for the Sexy Strappy Hollow-Out Brazilian Bikini Bottom Swimwear Swimsuit as I could make use of the wig Judy wore the night before. It was a good choice as my alternative was the Sexy Collared Bow Tie Bodysuit Thong Butler Teddy Costume but someone else showed up wearing the same, although he did cover up a lot more than I would have. I parked across the road at Crabby Bills where we have breakfast afterwards and strutted down to the beach.

Strutting down to the beach with beer and Fireball.

It was a cool morning, overcast, 63 degrees and windy. We waited around for 30 minutes until everyone turned up, we never start on time. By now my jaw was already shivering and we hadn’t even got in the 65 degree water.

Trying to keep warm before the start

The wind had started to really pickup and the temperature falling fast. By now the water had really started to whip up and several people opted not to swim. We did discuss swimming parallel to the shore but opted to do our usual swim out to the buoy, around it and back. We started north of the buoy as we knew the water would push us south and in we charged. The swim out wasn’t too bad, everyone was pretty close to each other as we got near the buoy. Bill was the closest, then me, and the other 3 swimming were just south of me. We were now south of the buoy and tried to swim towards it but after about 30 seconds I look up and I’m now about 30 yards south of where I started, Bill wasn’t making any ground nor were any of the others. At this time we decided we had to swim to shore to save ourselves, the wind was now stronger.

The wind really pushed us down the beach. It was the scariest swim ever.

As you can see from the GPS route how much the wind pushed us down the beach. As I was swimming back I remember thinking about how crazy this was, we’re all still drunk from the night before and now we’re swimming to save our life’s, I was praying we all made it back safely. Luckily we did as we all got close to shore and was able to stand up and walk out, checking we had all made it. The video below doesn’t really do it justice.


The smart ones bailed as soon as they realized how strong the currents were.
Even Superwoman couldn’t stop the waves from crashing over us as we started the swim.

Posted by Jackie Doucette on Monday, January 1, 2018

Now we all had to run back up to the start line and then start the mile run. We started off together, I think still recovering from the swim and feeling thankful that we made it, none of us had a beer this year. I started to push the pace and put some distance between me and the rest of the group, turning round at the half mile and now running into the wind. The wind was now gusting around 40 mph with no protection, the temperature had dropped to 55 degrees and it was a real struggle to make ground. I was pretty confident with the lead I had built up that no one was going to catch me and just kept pushing forward, high fiving the others as I passed them. By the time I got to the finish line, half of the spectators had bailed because of the conditions. We had a quick beer and then headed off for breakfast.

The conversation was largely focused on how scared we all were in the swim and that it wasn’t a good idea. But we had a great time as always and then proceeded to my truck in the parking lot. We piled as many people as we could into it and then the others tried to get some protection from the wind standing behind the door. We hung out for over an hour, finishing off the beer that was left from the night before and just having a blast talking about all the previous years races and the fun we all have. This is one time where it’s all about having fun, starting the year off with friends and doing what we love. I know it’s late posting but I wish everyone a “Hippy” New Year for 2018 and may you all stay healthy and achieve your goals.

Part of the crazy crew.
Getting our safety speech before the swim, we should have listened to Jen.

The most underdressed and overdressed.

Dave – “Keto + MAF = Performance + Recovery”

So for the last 4+ months I’ve been following a Ketogenic Lifestyle and Phil Maffetone’s MAF training to maximize my health and reduce the risk of injury. Although I’ve been relatively healthy I’ve read a lot about Keto and it’s anti-inflammation benefits in addition to a whole host of potential health benefits. If you’re interested in learning more about it and for some great recipes, this is where I suggest you should start www.dietdoctor.com. It’s essentially, low carb, low-medium protein and high fat, and yes it goes against what we’ve been told for so many years but it works, research it with an open mind. So far I’ve lost about 15 pounds and I didn’t have any weight to lose, nor was it my intention to. But I have felt improved mental clarity, high energy level through the day, less fatigue, and did I mention great food every day, at least if you love bacon and eggs. If anyone wants to reach out to me for more info please do so. It’s not about watching or cutting calories, it’s more about eating real food, fattier cuts of meat etc., and eliminating the majority of carbs we’ve eaten for so long that has led to the obesity problems.

As for MAF training, it’s about doing your workouts at a heart rate of 180 minus your age. You do this for 2 months to build your base, regardless of type of activity, and yes it may mean walking some time. Then after that you continue to do 80% of your workouts at that level and the other 20% you can do some speed work. This also helps train your body to burn fat for fuel rather than glucose so it’s a natural fir with Keto. Training at this low level of intensity also reduces stress and inflammation, so again builds on the benefits of Keto. Now when I wake up in the morning I feel relaxed, none of those aches getting out of bed. Now most weekends I get up, have a glass of water and go out for a 3 hour run with no food, no Gatorade, no Gu’s, just a little water and I feel great. When I come back I don’t even eat for a couple of hours and the next day I feel great and go out a do a Tri. MAF talks about running slow to run faster, so would it work.

I went into my Portland marathon in October with only 8 weeks of training over a 10 week period and ran a 3:25:59, no carb loading the night before, just a nice steak covered with butter. My next races would be the real test. I haven’t done any speed work this year and I had a 10K Turkey Trot race coming up and another 10K 3.5 weeks later. For anyone that knows me, I give it all in a race and at the end I can hardly walk and have a lot of hip pain. But after my marathon I felt pretty good and 2 days later I was running 5 miles each day for the following week without any pain. I went into the Turkey Trot with a goal of sub 45 minutes, but not confident that I could do it. That’s about 5 minutes slower than my PR 2 years ago but after a year of injuries and only running since July it was going to be a challenge. I ran the first mile in 6:52 and was then able to keep the other 5.2 miles in the low 7’s for a 44.22, 7:07 average. And my hip didn’t feel bad at all, just a little ache and 2 days later I ran a half marathon distance training run. So I think it’s working, I ran this race in a fasted state, had nothing apart from water, finished with a decent time and felt great afterwards.

So for the next race I decided I would do a couple of speed workouts to see if I could improve that time. I wasn’t optimistic as this race had 2 bridges in the race so was a harder course. The speed work was a little tougher on my body but again with the anti-inflammation and other easy runs my recovery from the speed work went well. I lined up at the start and was optimistic but not positive. Again in a fasted state, I started the race easy and then ran over the bridge for a 6:46 first mile. The second mile was on the flat for a 6:40 pace and I could feel myself tiring a little but was able to keep the cadence high. My next 3 miles were all under 7 minutes and the 6th was 7:08 coming back over the bridge for the second time. I finished in 42:57, 6:53 average for a 90 second improvement from the Turkey Trot. Again my hip felt good and the following day I did our weekly Tri.

I really believe that the combination of Keto and easy training has helped me to recover quickly and able to keep fit. Only time will tell but so far I’m very encouraged with the results and I’m positive I have quicker times ahead of me. I’m still doing a boot camp once a week, yoga and several 7 minute workouts. All of these help and I would encourage everyone to look at adopting these techniques. Best of luck with your journey and happy running.

At the top of the second bridge climb, and I don't look like I'm dying.
At the top of the second bridge climb, and I don’t look like I’m dying.
Around mile 2, still feeling good and in control.
Around mile 2, still feeling good and in control.
Near the start but feeling relaxed and good form.
Near the start but feeling relaxed and good form.
Crossing the finish line, looking relaxed and feeling good. Not a usual feeling at the end of a race.
Crossing the finish line, looking relaxed and feeling good. Not a usual feeling at the end of a race.
Our Clever Training group before the race.
Our Clever Training group before the race.

Dave – Portland Marathon, 10 minute BQ time of 3:29:59 with a long course 26.4, 7:57 average pace.

Well after almost a year of various injuries my Portland Marathon race date was fast approaching. It was about 14 weeks out when I started my 7 Minute Work-Outs as described in this post. 4 weeks later I was able to run more than the 2 miles I had been able to run without stopping.

Here’s my pre-race summary 1 week before the race. “9 week marathon training preparation done, next week is the Portland Marathon. Hoping for a 3:55 time, not sure my legs will hold up. Last 9 weeks total miles 30, 36, 37, 23, 4, 39, 35, 32, 27. Prior 30 weeks total was 350 miles, 11.5 miles/week. The 4 and 23 above were due to my bike injury when I hurt my ribs. I’ve come a long way in 9 weeks, hopefully I will finish injury free and can continue my comeback.”

I did 2, 6 mile runs the week leading up to the race, keeping my heart rate around 123 for Zone 2 training. 2 days before I ran 2 miles with my dog and I was hoping to run a couple of miles when we landed in Portland the day before the race but it didn’t happen as we ran out of time. That night for dinner rather than my usual carb loading pasts dinner I had a low carb high fat (Ketosis) dinner of Prime Rib. Race day morning I didn’t have anything to eat, just a bottle of water, I was going to run my first race fasted and hoped my short training time and method would carry me through the race.

Before the race started, a little nervous of what lies ahead

We walked down to the race start area and I did a short warm up. Weather was perfect, around 45 degrees at the start and would only climb to mid 50’s by the end of the race. Although my bib was for Coral A which had pacers up to the 3:30 marathon time, I knew I wasn’t in that shape and decided to go out in the B coral. I was thinking of going out with the 3:40 pace group to see how I did, knowing that I would probably tire and be closer to my 3:55 estimate. However the front of the coral was 3:35 so I decided to go out with them so I wouldn’t be behind any runners. The gun went off and I settled in with the group as we headed out passing various bands playing along the road side. We hit the first mile at 8:05 and I felt great. By the end of the second mile at 7:54 I felt like I was running faster than the group so decided to run by feel and not worry about where the pacer was. My next mile was 7:34, then 7:23 and 7:38. By the end of the 6th mile at 7:34 I had caught up to the 3:30 pace group. I decided to run with them, still at this time believing that I would only be able to hold this for a while and if everything was perfect maybe I wouldn’t be too far behind the 3:40 group by the end of the race.

The next several miles were all around the 7:51 pace and I still felt great, at each aid station I was taking either water or Ultima which is an Electrolyte keto-friendly drink. I did buy 2 snack bars at the expo the day before but didn’t feel like I needed them at this time. Around mile 10 we came to the infamous St. John’s Bridge climb but still clocked 8:09 and then back to the 7:51 pace. I actually thought about leaving this pace group and just running free as I felt great and was now leading this pack, but I decided to hold off as the crowd support for the “3:30 pace group” was great. I decided if I could hold on to this it was way better than I could imagine and therefore not worth pushing on. We had a smaller climb coming back over the bridge at mile 18 at an 8:21 pace and then settled back to a 7:57 pace.

2 miles out, still pushing hard to break 3:30

We were now at mile 19, 2 hours 21 minutes in to the race and still no carbohydrates but I could feel myself tiring and started to drift a few yards behind the 3:30 pace group. At this time I decided to eat my Will’s snack bar, the highest fat, lowest carb bar on sale at the expo. To be honest I’m not sure how much it helped me as I still felt tired the last 6 plus miles and didn’t get a boost from it, but it certainly didn’t hurt and after that long without calories was probably a good thing. Mile 20 was 8:01, then it was 8:10, 8:19 and 8:32 for mile 23. My chance of a sub 3:30 marathon was quickly disappearing but I wanted to give it everything to try so dug deep and managed a 8:06 mile 24. My energy dipped again for mile 25 and came in at 8:19, now I had to push hard to be able to beat 3:30. I targeted a couple of runners I could see ahead of me and did everything I could to chase them down. The course was a reading a little long with every mile the mile marker was a few yards further out so by the time I hit mile marker 26 my watch read 26.2. Somehow I managed a 7:49 mile 26 and now just had the final .2 mile push with about 3 minutes left on the clock. I just ran on empty and could now see the finish line and the time ticking down. After I crossed the line I stopped my watch and looked down, my watch read 3:30:02 but wasn’t sure how quick I stopped it.

I felt pretty good at the end of the marathon, except my calf’s

The good news was my hip didn’t feel too bad, yes I could feel it and I had a slight limp but overall I would give it a B rating. My calf’s now started to tighten and they were screaming at me as I walked through the finish area to meet my wife. I was in pain but happy with my time even though I though I had missed the 3:30 cut-off. When I met Judy she showed me the unofficial results and that also read 3:30:02, my mind thinking I could have pushed a little harder to beat it, but in reality I pushed as hard as I could. I couldn’t have hoped for any better time given my abbreviated training schedule and my short time following the ketosis lifestyle and running my first race fasted. We went back to the hotel and I jumped in the jacuzzi and  felt much better after that. Now it was time to Stan, meet a fellow Hip Runner who lives locally and is someone I’ve watched through Strava, as he’s a very fast runner and also works out a lot like me.


Fellow Hip Runner Stan, we had a great time catching up.

We had a great time chatting about our hip replacement, sharing scars, and I learned a lot about Stan. He’s way faster than I ever imagined and is a top notch runner at all distances from 5K to 100K. I hope that Stan, Tom and I, and hopefully anyone else reading this, will have the opportunity to race against each other some day. I know it would be a great event and it would bring the best out of me as these are 2 top class runners. We had a great time, it felt like we were long time friends that hadn’t seen each other for a while.

The un-official time, later corrected to 3:29:59

When we got back to the hotel the official race results were in, my time was 3:29:59, I was so pleased. We immediately went down to the hotel bar and celebrated with a few cocktails and some more fatty foods. We were vacationing in Welches, near Mt Hood for the rest of the week. I took 1 day off but then ran 5 of the next 6 days around 5 miles each day and I feel great. I’m really listening to my body and researching a lot to keep me injury free and hopefully running faster.

Elevating my legs after my Jacuzzi at the hotel

Dave – Yes you can run!

Yes you can!Just a short note to give encouragement to others to set no limits to what you can do after a THR. I keep active with running, biking (ElliptiGo bike, no seat), swimming and boot camp / strength training. Running is my passion but the others all help you achieve your goals. With just 3 weeks to go to the Portland Marathon I had to get a good long run after my short (10 week) training plan had been derailed over the last 3 weeks, first I fell off my bike and then Irma kinda of threw a curve ball. Moving all the furniture in and out, sand bagging etc., aggravated my ribs again. But I set out today and took it easy the first couple of miles. Oh, did I say my 3 hour workout today was running over the bridge you can see in the background. It’s .73 miles across and is about 75 elevation gain. The more I ran the better I felt, no hip pain and the ribs got easier and my pace got faster. In the end I ran over the bridge 27 times for a total of 20 miles. I started around 8:15 in the Florida sun and was running for just over 3 hours, I’m tired now but feeling more confident for the marathon. So don’t set limits, set goals, realistic short term goals and build on them if you feel good. Don’t forget to join the Hip Runners Strava group to keep track of all your runs: https://www.strava.com/clubs/hiprunner

Dave – 7 Minutes to Injury Free Running for Hip Runners

So if you’ve followed my posts over the last 5 years, you know I’ve enjoyed my share of ups and downs. Luckily more ups than down, along with great results I’ve met many new friends and pushed the boundaries of what I thought possible. I have another post I’m in the middle of writing but thought this was too important not to share it with you. I’ve been injured with various injuries since my Ultra last September and I have an upcoming marathon in Portland in October. I had only been running about twice a week, probably around 5-6 miles, and even in those runs I’ve had to stop due to my hip, rest and then start again. So how was I going to run a marathon in 11 weeks. I’ve rested, taken time off, yoga once a week, kept fit riding my ElliptiGo bike, swam, followed a healthy diet etc., but nothing was getting me past a couple of miles. When I was injured about 3 years ago and ended up having to take a year off, I went to the gym and did strength training and stretches and was able to return to running faster than before.


So one day I was doing something and I saw an ad for a 7 minute workout and how they can help you get a 6 pack etc., no I don’t believe the hype, but I thought it could help me get stronger. So I downloaded a bunch of apps and started doing between 3 and 5 of these 4 mornings a week while I’m down in Miami to build strength and flexibility. After about 3 weeks I saw my run on our Sunday morning Triathlons get better, now I was able to run 4 miles only stopping once and the following week without stopping. The week later not only did I run 4 miles without stopping, I started to see my cadence improve and my speed increase, it was the best I had ran for almost a year. The following day I worked from home as we had a tropical storm pass through and I didn’t want to drive through it and after it passed I went for a run on Monday evening, I ran 6.2 miles without stopping and without my hip hurting, without doubt these workouts that I’ll describe were working for me. The following Saturday I left my house on a Saturday morning, after a few drinks the night before, not feeling like a long run but knowing I should at least try as the marathon is getting closer. It was around 9am, in the low 80’s, with very high humidity and plenty of sunshine, a typical Florida day. I had also been reading the book “Primal Endurance” so I left without breakfast to escape my Carbohydrate dependency and set out to run no more than 123 heart rate (180 – age) for fat burning training. Armed with just a 20 ounce hand held filled with Tailwind (which I strongly recommend rather than a Gatorade type drink) I set off. I ran down to the beach and then headed south along the beach, it was hot but at least a little sea breeze. I ran for an hour and a half before I ran out of the drink and then headed to the road to get some water and then came back. I was out for 3 hours, 10 minutes, I ran 14.18 miles and my hip felt fine. So now to cut to the chase, what are the apps and how do I use them?


I downloaded a bunch of free apps, yes all of these apps have 100% free options in them, you can pay for more but you don’t need to. Everything I’ve done is with the free basic app, they all have extra programs you can pay for but there is no need. I downloaded more but these are the one’s I settled on, I have an iPhone but I assume they are all available on Android. Also they don’t need any equipment, so you can do these anywhere. I would turn off the notifications otherwise they keep sending you a message to remind you to workout, for me I don’t need the reminder.


Sworkit – I do either the Strength, Full Body or the Stretching, Full Body for 7 minutes. If you don’t like a particular exercise you can hit next and it will swap it with another exercise and keep the same time. I set mine for 7 minutes and they have 2 30 second breaks programmed into that which I usually skip. You could of course select 8 minutes and take the break to get a 7 minute workout. If I’m doing 4 or 5 consecutive workouts or I’m feeling sore, I will do the stretching full body workout that has a lot of good exercises for the hips, I tend to skip every other of the shoulder exercises and just split the 30 seconds between the one they are doing and the one I skipped.


Sworkit Lower Body – I do the Killer Hips workout every time. I think this is key to help build up the muscles for running. Again I do the 7 minute version of this with no break. Make sure you have a bottle of water to drink between the different workouts.


Perigee Seven – 7 minute full body work out. I probably do this one most days and it reminds you if you don’t as you may lose a heart. It’s just their way to motivate you to keep doing it. If you skip an exercise in this app it doesn’t replace it with another so if there’s one you can’t or don’t want to do, just do a different exercise.


Fitify Bosu – Full body workout. This is the only one that actually requires any equipment, a half Bosu ball which I picked up on clearance at Bed Bath and Beyond for a real cheap price. This intensifies some of the workouts as you have to balance more as you exercise. I think this works my abs the hardest.


Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout. If I’m doing 5 exercises then I include this one, I would do a strength, stretch, strength, hip and then finish with a strength.


I’ve continued to make good progress and have been doing a 10 mile run on Tuesday, a long run on Saturday up to 20 miles, and doing a fast 4 mile run in our Sunday triathlon’s and maybe one other run during the week if I feel good. I don’t think my hip is quite 100% yet but I’m glad to be back running and looking forward to the Portland Marathon on October 8th. It probably won’t be a Boston qualifying time but given where I was a short while ago I was concerned if I could do it walking within the cutoff time.


I’m writing this as Hurricane Irma pushes north heading towards our house on the west coast near Tampa, luckily it wobbled more north during the day and it should pass us on the east and be weaker than expected. I also fell of my ElliptiGo bike 2 weeks ago when it was wet and bruised my ribs pretty bad, I was amazed when the x-ray said nothing was cracked. I’m back running again now but have missed 2 weeks of training and my 7 minute workouts, I plan to start those again this week. I hope you try these and let me know how they help you, I think they would also help pre-surgery.

That’s me on the right in the blue shorts, beginning to look like a runner again.


We’re back home no, 2 days after Irma. No power, but we are safe and the house only had minor damage. We were lucky, it could have been a lot worse.

Cryotherapy – Have you tried it yet?

Just got back from my first session and I feel good. For those of you that don’t know what it is you get in a chamber and they use liquid nitrogen to lower the temperature to -230 degrees Fahrenheit and you stay in it for 3 minutes. I wasn’t as cold as I thought I would be and once you get out you warm up immediately. It’s great for inflammation so if your feeling sore from one of those runs you may want to think about incorporating this into your recovery options. The cost is approximately $40 – $45 per session, maybe schedule one the day after your next race. I also believe in massages, I have one every 3 weeks to help treat my muscles and get some additional range in my abductors etc.

Love the new site update Tom, great seeing all the athlete pictures at the top of the page.


Dave – 10 Days Off – 10 Days of Fun – 6 Tri’s, Half Marathon, 2 Duathlons

Entering this Christmas period I was thinking about not running for a couple of weeks to try to rest my hip and see how it would go. Well if you know me that’s never na easy plan for me to follow. I knew I had (for charity) to run a half marathon on Christmas Day so we moved our weekly fun triathlons to Saturday, besides who else was going to work out that day.

So Saturday cal group of us met and did our weekly tri, for me 18 miles on my ElliptiGo bike while the road bike group on their 21 mile route try to catch me. Luckily they’re still to achieve that. So Sunday came and I headed out, I hadn’t run more than 6 miles in about 4 months so I knew this would be a challenge, I will write a post about that soon. I accomplished it, having to walk a little each mile between mile 9 and 13.

The following day I took it easy and just did a bike ride, which unfortunately was cut short with a blown tire, and a run. The following day was nice so I started with a bike ride, then went for a run with my dog and decided to swim in the Gulf again as it was around 80 degrees outside. The next day I got up and went for a bike ride again, then took my dog running, then for another swim (you’ve got to love the weather in Florida) and then finished up with the Clever Training Group Run where a ran 6 miles at a pace a couple of seconds faster than my last 2 10K races over the last morted the same wnth (another post coming).

Thursday started the same way so I did another tri, making it 4 in the last 6 days. I decided to rest Friday and just ran a couple of miles with my dog. On Saturday we switched out Sunday Tri a day early again with the holiday and I also added a run with the dog.

On New Years Day for the last 4 years we’ve done a Polar Bare Race, at least a Florida version of it. What makes it tough is that I throw a New Year’s Eve Party the night before that we don’t shut down to 3am so getting up at 7:45 is awlays a challenge. We meet at the beach, the water temperature was around 63 degrees but it was sunny and maybe 70 degrees air temperature. With our Polar Bare Race you get points added on for the more clothes you wear so we have a little fun.
Compare the 2 photos of our group and another group a couple of miles north. There is no better way to start the year with a duathlon with friends, a short swim followed by a 1 mile run on the beach with optional shots or beers in between for extra minute credits. A few people turned up about an hour late (too much to drink) but as it was so nice a few of us did the race again with them. We have a blast dressing up (or down) each year and this year was the best. We then follow it with breakfast and a few more beers.


Monday was also a beautiful day so I also did a tri, although the water was rough, and then went to the Clever Training bridge speed workout in the evening. So in a 10 day period I did 6 triathlons, 2 (or 3) duathlons), a half marathon and a day of rest (only 1 run). 30 workouts in 10 days.

Not quite the rest I had planned but at least I did follow the cross training plan that I try to promote and encourage you all to follow. Now it’s back to work and to follow a moderate training plan. Life is about having fun, don’t let your hip stop you. Happy New Year and all the best for all your goals in 2017.

Dave – 2,000+ miles for 2016

This year I was able to run more than 2,000 miles for the year. Last year I missed out by about 30 miles due to racing too much and my hip was sore and I was trying to recover for January races. This year I had ran 1,720 miles by the beginning of September but had a heel problem , plantar fasciitis and hip problems, probably made worse with the other issues. However by not pushing too hard and just taking it easy I’ve been able to run about 25 miles a week. This wasn’t a goal at the beginning of the year and I advise against making mileage goals. We need to run based on a specific race goal and rest when our body tells us to. I ran various ultra races this year and that’s why my mileage was so high. Next year I plan run no more than 1,500 miles and do more training on my ElliptiGo. Still I’m proud of reaching this level, it’s a huge accomplishment for anyone and even more so for members of the HipRunners Club. Run safe, run smart and enjoy your 2017 racing schedule.

2000 miles in 2016
2000 miles in 2016

Dave – 46 mile ultra with an 18 minute PR.

PTC Start, over 100 crazies about to run 46 miles in the heat
PTC Start, over 100 crazies about to run 46 miles in the heat

Labor Day weekend in Florida is hot, so why would anyone want to run 46 miles in this heat, and if they did it the year before they’d have to be crazy to register again. Okay so I’m crazy but if you’ve read my posts you already know that. This is the third and final race in the Summer Slam Series, 3 races put on by 3 great race directors, all ultras in the middle of Florida’s summer and all FREE! I’ve trained really hard this year for this series with a goal to at least win one of them which I did in the first race and finished second in the 6 hour race. Now for the longest race I wanted to go all out again to attempt to be the first Pinellas resident winner in the fourth running of this event. The week prior to this event Hurricane Hermine came on shore in Florida producing heavy down pours leaving some of the course under water, the good news was that it was going to be cloudy but more rain was in the forecast race day.

I lined up at the start of the race and saw many friends I have got to know over the last year running this series and got a brief chance to wish them good luck. I felt confident, strong and was optimistic I could win this race even though there was a lot of tough competition half my age and not with a hip replacement. It’s odd, the week prior I almost felt like I hadn’t trained hard but I still ran 46 miles, much of it at speed. This week I had only ran a couple of days due to the storm so I felt rested. The night before I tossed and turned, I’m sure like most of the other runners, unsure of what the following day will bring and anxious to get started. Michael Stork counted the race clock down and we’re off, my goal was to run around an 8:15 pace for the first 18 miles, 8:45 to 9 minutes for the next 18 and then 9:30 for the last 10. If everything went well I would finish first with a new course record around 6 hours 55 minutes. My main concerns going into this would be cramping which I’ve suffered in all the other ultra’s and losing too much time at the aid stations, the latter would be easier to control. In support of that I had recruited 2 people to assist me, Luis would be joining me at mile 18 on his bike and handing off to Erin at mile 32 to ride in the last 14 miles with me.

Patrick (left), me and Daniel (right) as we head into the Clever Training Aid Station at mile 18.
Patrick (left), me and Daniel (right) as we head into the Clever Training Aid Station at mile 18.

As we left downtown St Pete one person pushed ahead at a fast pace and then it was me and Patrick Hrabos, last years winner and I was second. Running sometimes just in front of us or behind was a fellow Englishman Daniel Bellingham who had finished fourth last year. There was a lot of hype going into this years race with the previous 3 winners and 8 out of last years top 10 finishers expected to start and a race field of over 100 participants. Patrick and I chatted along the way, something I don’t think I’ve ever done in a race, but the pace was on target and felt comfortable as we caught up with each other from last year. Probably around mile 10 Patrick was telling me about the top 2 finishers at the Hard Rock 100 that had ran pretty much side by side and as they approached the finish they decided to hold hands and finish together. I think we were both hoping to win and agreed that if we were together at the end we would do the same. It’s a long race so we knew there would be a lot of twists before the end.

Lots of water along course
Lots of water along course

We knew from Michael, whom had biked the entire course the day before to provide a course condition update, that there could be a couple of water obstacles just before mile 18 where the Clever Training aid station was set up. Even though this is a free event it’s amazingly well supported by volunteers just as if it was a paid event with aid stations providing, ice, water, drinks, fruit and many other offering pretty much every 4 miles or so. My wife was going to meet me here and I was going to meet Luis to ride alongside me, up to now I had a hydration vest filled with Tailwind Nutrition to support me and had taken a couple of salt caps that had melted in my compression short pocket. I planned on changing my shoes and socks here, drinking some pickle juice to help prevent cramping, dump my vest and change my shirt. The first of the 4 reported water obstacles had dried but about half a mile before the station we ran into the second obstacle, it was about 300 yards long and as much as 6 inches deep in water. Me, Patrick and Daniel ran through it as there was no way around it. Last year I spent more than 5 minutes here with a full change of clothes and saying hi to my running group friends volunteering, this year I wanted to keep it as short as possible. The other 2 pretty much ran straight through it as we had the previous 2 stations but I stopped to change shirts, drink some pickle juice and had a quick pee. I decided not to change my shoes and socks even though they were now completely soaked as I didn’t want to lose too much time to the others.

Patrick was now in the lead and Daniel about 500 yards ahead of me as I set off with Luis. Not more than a minute later the heavens opened up and it started raining hard, I’m glad I didn’t change my shoes as it would have been completely wasted. Up to this point we were on track, at 2 hours 58 minutes with an 8:13 minute/mile pace. I maintained the pace for the next mile and could still see them both ahead of me and then suddenly I felt all my energy leave me and my legs were heavy. I saw my pace slow to around 9 minutes and as I tried to push I had nothing left in my tank. It was a strange sensation for me, I had gone from being very comfortable thinking I could win this race to what the hell just happened and with a full marathon still to run. By now the bike trail had many puddles ranging from a couple of inches deep to ankle deep and with the rain still coming down completely soaked from head to toe. Now I couldn’t see the 2 runners ahead of me and was passed by Tyler whom I had beaten in the previous 2 races. I wasn’t panicking too much at this time as it’s a long race and just as I had last year finished strong was hoping I could do the same again after I get over this feeling. Unfortunately the next few miles my pace deteriorated and by mile 26 I was struggling to break a 10 minute mile.

I was physically drained and now thoughts of stopping entered my mind, could I continue for another 20 miles like this? I thought about the slam and knew if I didn’t finish I wouldn’t get the Slam shirt, I knew at this time I wasn’t going to win and the only question now was how many other people would pass me. I wanted to finish for my running friends, for my fellow HipRunner’s and for myself but with every step I just wanted to stop and walk. Luis kept up his job and kept providing me with drinks and a salt cap every 4 miles or so and I also took a couple of Accel Gel’s, but didn’t feel the energy jolt I was hoping for, this was going to be a long day. I remembered back to last year, despite the severe cramping and the extreme heat I felt better and more confident than I did now, I was wondering if we had the same heat would I have called it quit. After a few miles like this I eventually signaled to Luis I had to walk for a minute to compose myself and then started to jog again. I hate walking but now I was becoming mentally drained and I felt like I had to convince myself to keep moving every step I made.

Thanks to Erin and Luis for sharing support from mile 18 to mile 46.
Thanks to Erin and Luis for sharing support from mile 18 to mile 46.

At the next couple of aid stations I pretty much ran through them, just stopping long enough to drink a cup of water and grab half a banana and then back out. Around mile 34 Erin met up with us to take over from Luis and at the next aid station he turned back to head home. Judy also met us there to give Erin the supplies I needed for the final 12 miles and also give me another drink of pickle juice. I didn’t tell her that I was drained and I would be later at our next planned stop as I knew she would be worried about me. I quickly moved on and Erin rode alongside me. Shortly after the aid station Dave Toms met us on his Bionic Runner bike as he did last year, it was great to see him and listen to his positive support. I consumed a couple more salt caps and 2 more Accel Gel’s on the way in. So many more times I wanted to walk for a minute at the end of each mile but refused to give in and kept pushing, only walking across some of the major roads we had to cross along the course. Now there was just 6 miles left, I was tired, exhausted, feeling a little low but didn’t want anyone else to pass me, at this point I was happy to take 6th pace. I kept asking Dave to check if anyone was behind me as we ran along Keystone Road to the park, last year I was closing in on 2 runners and picking up my pace, this year it was just about keeping moving, if I stopped I may have not been able to start running again. I told Dave a couple of times I was pretty beat and as we got closer to the finish it was harder beat but I kept moving.

Crossing the line in joint 5th with Patrick. It was a special moment that brought satisfaction to a tough race.
Crossing the line in joint 5th with Patrick. It was a special moment that brought satisfaction to a tough race.

Just before we got to the park entrance with less than a mile to go I could see someone ahead of me and a girl walking alongside, I said ‘is that Patrick’ but we quickly dismissed that as we expected him to have won the race again. As we got closer he turned and it was him, as I got alongside him I asked if he had already finished and was just cooling down. He told me he had had stomach issues and then pushed hard to try to catch Tyler and Daniel and that it led to more issues and he had to stop and slow down. He asked if he could run in with me if it wasn’t to slow me down too much. For me it was an honor, maybe that something that kept me going with stopping for a brief walk was to allow me this opportunity. We ran together as we entered the park for the final half mile stretch, as we got to the last 50 yards we once again ran into the water, joined hands and crossed the finish line together. It meant a lot to me to finish the race the way we had talked about some 30 odd miles earlier, albeit it with a different outcome in mind but now finishing joint 5th the disappointment was lifted. I crossed the line with a friend, something I had never done before and I felt a sense of accomplishment. I later learnt that Patrick had tears in his eyes as he crossed. We hugged and then embraced our support crews.

Summer Slam 3 Race Series Overall Winner
Summer Slam 3 Race Series Overall Winner

I finished the 46 miles with a time of 7 hours, 12 minutes, 29 seconds for an average pace of 9:29. It was an 18 minute PR from last year even though this race felt much harder but about 17 minutes off my target time. Even if I had been on my game I don’t think I could have won. Tyler set a course record of 6:35 and Daniel was about 2 minutes behind. I’m hoping for warm weather next year to level the playing field with these young guys. The good news was that my time was good enough for me to secure the Overall Grand Slam Master Winner’s medal for the 3 race series.

Looking back I don’t think I consumed enough carbohydrates in the early part of the race and depleted my Glucose store or it was down to giving everything in the previous 2 ultra-races 7 weeks and 3 weeks prior and my old body just hadn’t had time enough to recover.

The good news is that it wasn’t my hip that held me back, I could feel it a little but really it held up great during the race. The salt caps and pickle juice prevented the cramping so that’s good knowledge to take into the next races, now I just have to practice race day pacing and nutrition a little better. I probably go out a little too fast and that catches up with me, my nutrition is getting better but I still have a lot to learn. More reading, more training, more practice if I decide to continue with my ultra-racing. This was my best race out of the three but my post race recovery still takes about 36 hours, I’m so uncomfortable in my general hip area I don’t know what to do, sometimes I wish I could just unscrew my leg and lie down. I’m too competitive to just go out to complete it, I set myself high goals and go out and see what I can do and who I can beat. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t do better, but 5th place isn’t too bad and the top Pinellas finisher for the last 2 years with 2 of the best 10 races times helps. I’m going to have to see how my body holds up before I commit to next year, at this time I’m reconsidering the Daytona 100 in December. I’m sure I could finish it but not sure it would be in the time I want and more importantly I’m not sure how much pain I would be in after the race.

This post is about 4 weeks late and now I’ve pulled out of the Daytona 100. I took a week off after the race and my first run back my left heel had a little pain. I finished the 6 mile progression run and didn’t think about it until I got home and took my shoe off and the bottom of my ankle was very sore and tender. The next morning when I got up I could hardly walk. Since then I’ve not been able to run much, the heel pain is still there causing me not to push off correctly and that throws my form off. Sure enough it radiates up my leg and my hip starts complaining pretty bad. My massage person thinks it’s my Soleus muscle and I went to the doctors today and he pretty much agreed with here recommendation to keep foam rolling. I hate not running but it’s good to get back to ElliptiGo riding and doing more swimming. Not sure what the future has, I need to get over this before I decide what I will do next.

Dave – Second attempt to win the 6 hour Durrty Beer Race Ultra

DBR 2016 Start
DBR 2016 Start

Last year I came second after leading the race for 4 hours and then had a series of cramping that allowed someone to pass me and eventually win the race. Although we both ran 35 miles, a new race record, he completed his quicker than mine. This year I felt stronger and was hoping to run an extra loop, I was better prepared physically, mentally and hopefully from a nutritional perspective as well. I’ve been using Tailwind Nutrition recently having given up Gatorade a few months back when I saw the heart rate spikes it causes. Tailwind is more natural, provides the eletrolyctes you need, and also has 200 calories so you don’t need (as much) real food. I also had a couple of bagels and gels just in case I needed backup, salt caps, Hot Shot (to avoid cramping) and pickle juice although I was hoping I didn’t need any.
I lined up at the beginning wearing my Artic Cool sleeveless shirt, similar to a tech dry fit shirt but supposed to keep you cooler, hey when you’re racing in Florida in summer I’ll take whatever advantage I can. They’ve been great in training leading up to this, the shirt doesn’t stick to your body as much and feels like it allows more air through to keep you cooler. I also wore my 2XU XTRM compression shorts, they prevent chafing that you would normally get running in shorts for 6 hours, I still apply Body Glide around suspect areas just in case. I believe the compression shorts help support my hip and supporting muscles during these long ultra runs better than regular shorts. On my feet I wore my Adidas Climachill Rocket Boost that has a vent in the sole to reduce heat and my Drymax PTFE maximum protection socks. What you wear is just as important as the practice you put in, you have to have confidence that it can get you through the race in one piece without discomfort.

The race started and I was out at the front with 2 girls, kiera and Betsy (?). This year the loop was 3.4 miles and I was hoping to set a new course record with 11 loops for 37.4 miles. The pace for the first loop was 7:54, 7:46 & 7:48, a little quicker than I had planned. The girl running with Kiera had such a sweet compact fast cadence,  I thought I could be in trouble is she kept up that pace. Kiera I’ve raced several half’s against and I’ve been lucky enough to beta her by a few yards in each of those races. To my surprise she stopped after the first lap and the other girl kept going. The next loop was just a little slower but still going at a good clip, by this time we had separated ourselves from the race of the 123 race participants. After each loop I came in, reached into my cooler and switched my Amphipod handheld with my Tailwind. I had purchased 5 of these to reduce the amount of time lost in each loop. The fast pace continued for the next couple of loops and then I had to stop and make a bathroom stop, they were locked when we got there and I hate losing time but nature calls.

On the next loop my shoe lace came undone, it must have been lose for a while as I could feel a blister forming on the underside of my big toe. Betsy must have also stopped as she passed me while I was retying my lace but I quickly caught up to her. When I came in next time I changed shoes to my Newton Gravity 5’s and put a new pair of Drymax socks on. I ate half a bagel and took a salt cap as well. I felt like I was handling my nutrition better this race, pretty much finishing my 20 oz handheld each loop. This time I had to refill all my drinks so I lost a few minutes in transition. On the way back in the loop I saw Betsy running the other way, she was behind me and that was to be her final lap, I’m not sure if she was just training or what but she called it a day after 6 laps, if she had stayed in I knew it would have been a close call. Tyler who I beat 4 weeks earlier in the 50K in Orlando and Clint were over a mile behind me and I was still feeling good.

Over the next few loops my pace slowed down to the low 9’s, completing the marathon in around 3:48 and the 50K in 4:37, both decent times considering the Florida heat and I still had miles to run. I could feel my legs getting a little sore so I grabbed a Hot Shot, a new product designed at preventing muscle cramps and also took a Gu gel. I also put on my Inov8 hydration vest with a plan of not stopping on the next loop and went out on my 10th loop which would pretty much tie last year’s course record. That loop I ran around 9:35’s but didn’t think I had anyone close to me so when I came in I decided to drop my hydration vest and take a hand held for my last lap and another Gu. I set of and shortly after I could feel my right hamstring starting to cramp so I slowed down. It still felt tight so I decided to walk a little, still moving forward but I felt confident. I started jogging again but the cramping returned so I stopped for a short while and then started jogging again. I did see one person pass me but wasn’t sure if he was in the race or not as there were also many other joggers on the course now. I had less than a mile to go and knew if I just kept an easy pace I would be able to make it without cramping again. My pace was a little over 10 minutes but I believed I had time on my side as I hadn’t seen any of my challengers close.

Middle 4 winners, Dave, me, Jennifer & Stephanie
Middle 4 winners, Dave, me, Jen & Stephanie

When I came into the finish area Sean Connolly, the race director, was there as he was checking me in after each lap. I could tell by his face that something was wrong. I looked at him and asked if I was second, he confirmed it, someone had come in less than 45 seconds ahead of me. Was he the person I saw, was it someone else, I was devastated. I had led the race for over 36 miels and 5and half hours to have it snatched away from me in the last mile. Yes I equaled a new course record of 37.4 miles but that didn’t comfort me, I wanted the win and though I had done enough to secure it. Now all those moments I lost time came into focus. I should have stopped at the hotel before the race for a bathroom break, I shouldn’t have stopped to change my hydration vest on the last lap, if I had someone to pass me drinks and refill by bottles. So many opportunities to save 45 seconds. If I knew he had passed me I would and could have pushed harder that last mile, I would have left everything out there to win it. I knew this was going to be hard coming second for the second year due to cramping.

I pretty much had left everything on the course, I now started to cramp badly. Both hamstrings and both calves at the same time. This would go on for another 25 minutes or so with Jennifer and Stephanie coming over to help me and someone giving me a beer. My hip area was now starting to hurt, not so much my actual hip replacement but just the entire area. I didn’t know whether I should stand, sit, lie down, be on my left or my right. Once again at the end of the race the pain and discomfort would question why I do this. Although I went to the bar after the race I only stayed for the first bar and not the several other bars which form part of the Durrty Beer Run. I was still wearing my Artic Cool shirt which now felt completely dry and didn’t even looked like I had ran the last 3 plus hours in it. My wife drove me home and I tried to get comfortable but for the next 24 to 36 hours it was torture. During this time I wasn’t sure if I would race another ultra again.

Arctic Cool shirt from the race and my 'Bag of Crap' award
Arctic Cool shirt from the race and my ‘Bag of Crap’ award.

I took 3 days off from running but by mid-week I felt good again and now I’m looking forward to the next race. The next race is the Pinellas Trail Challenge, a 46 mile point to point race put on my Michael Stork, last year I finished second in 7 hours 30 minutes, 30 minutes behind Patrick. This year I feel confident I can run it faster and hopefully be the first Pinellas County resident to win it. Nutrition and cramping will be the deciding factors, I’ve trained hard all year, with the previous 3 years champions running the race and 8 out of last years top 10 finishers and more than 30 additional runners it’s going to a competitive field. I’m a year older but I still feel strong, I’m hoping to go out and make HipRunners proud.