Posts Tagged ‘Run Happens’

Hey Adventure Foot readers!  Oh, how I wish there were more hours in the day.   I’ve got tons to blog about, but as it turns out, I’ve had my Adventure Foot out the door so much lately that I’ve been having trouble finding the time to write.  Expect several really cool blogs soon including one about bee keeping and backyard chickens, as well as a review of the Peoria River Trail of Illinois (a multi-use recreational trail) that I cycled last weekend.  Those blogs are going to have to wait though, as I’m preparing to leave for one of my biggest adventures to date: the McNaughton Trail Ultra Marathon.

If you haven’t read about friend, Ultra-Runner, and Adventure Foot Contributor Jared Busen here on my blog, you’ve got a little catching up to do, my friends.

Now I don’t usually get bossy with my readers (because I appreciate that you’re reading…) but I’m serious you guys- click this link and read my first article about Jared from last yearI get a report on how many people click links…and I’m going to be sad-faced if you don’t click over and check the article out.  Also, read his race report from his 150 mile at McNaughton from 2011 by clicking here.  You read those and then come back, okay?

I’ll wait…

Okay- all done? Jared’s awesome.  Am I right?  This guy has run (and won) some of the longest, hardest races that my newbie running mind can even comprehend.  And he’s done it all with class, humility and an infectious attitude about running that makes those around him reach for new heights.

Case in point: when I wrote that article that you just read (I’m giving you one more chance to click here and read it…) I had only run a couple of 5Ks.  I had just signed up for a 10K and was nervous about finishing that distance.  I’m now the proud owner of 2 half marathon finisher medals.  Much of my confidence to take on longer races can be credited to Jared and his enthusiasm for distance running.  In one of our first conversations about running, he explained running Ultra Marathons to me in this way:

“It’s about continual forward progress. It’s about not quitting. It’s hard for me too — really hard. You’re going to hit walls and want to stop no matter what distances you’re training for.  For running you have to be adaptable and know how to overcome.”

I’ve taken the mantra of “continual forward progress” into every training run and every race I’ve run since that day. I’m a slow runner, and always being at the back of a pack can be really discouraging.  What Jared helped me to see is that it’s really not all about speed.  Whether it’s me running a half marathon or him running hundreds of miles, it’s about seeing personal improvement all the time and working hard towards a big goal.  And Jared’s goals are big.  Really big.

His goal this weekend? Running two-hundred miles in Vermont’s Green Mountains.

This is Jared’s second outing at McNaughton.  Last year, he won the 150 mile race with a time of just over 50 hours.   This year, he’s been training with two of the best Ultra Runners in the world- Shaun Brassfield-Thorpe and William Sichel– and he’s coming into the 200 mile race smarter, stronger and faster than before.  He’s worked incredibly hard, and I know that he’s going to run a great race.  And in his corner is a small but dedicated crew- which includes yours truly!

Map of the routes for McNaughton 2012

That’s right- I’m headed out to Vermont to help Jared reach this monumental goal.  I’ll be on the “day crew” helping to provide nutrition, hydration, gear and support for his race from 6am-6pm.  And at night Jared will still be running, the night crew will take over support, and me?  Oh… I’ll be doing something just plain crazy:  running 30 miles myself.

“Whhhhhaaattt?” you say?  “Has she lost her mind!?   I thought the most she ever had run was 13.1 miles!!?”

Yeah, that is the furthest I’ve run and yeah, I am a little crazy.

During the 55-ish hours that Jared will be running, I’ll be completing 3 laps of the 10 mile course and hopefully earning an Ultra Marathon finish.  I’ll basically be doing 10 miles a day for 3 days in a row.  I’ve been training hills, trying to learn to love them, and putting the miles on the Mizzunos, but I’ve got no idea if I’m ready for this.  30 miles, even over 3 days, is easily one of the toughest goals I’ve ever put in front of myself.  I’m both intimidated and emboldened by the challenge, and am truly looking forward to the experience.

Jeff Spencer will be accompanying me to Vermont and will pace Jared for 50 miles of this race.  Jeff is a solid runner with many races under his belt and will help keep Jared going when the going gets tough.   It’s going to be a big challenge for Jeff too though, and I know that we are both trying to get our game-faces on for McNaughton.

The race director for this Ultra is Andy Weinberg, who is the mastermind behind some of the toughest races in the world.  How tough did he make McNaughton?  Well, each 10 mile loop of the course will have a gain and loss of 2400 vertical feet.  That means in my 30 miles, I’ll have +7,200 feet, in 50 miles Jeff will have +12,000 feet  and Jared will have +48,000 feet of gain and loss.  Need that in perspective? Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, is 29,029 feet tall.  Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa is about 19,000 feet tall.  So yeah, he’ll basically be climbing them both- stacked on top of each other.

Profile of one 10-mile lap at McNaughton

Lest you think Jared is the craziest runner out there, I might also mention that 5 people are already on the course right now attempting to complete 500 miles.  In 500 miles, they’ll be climbing 120,000 vertical feet- that’s Everest + McKinley + Kilimanjaro+ Kosciuszko+ Carstensz Pyramid+ Elbrus.  Those are 6 of the “7 Summits,” or the highest mountain peaks on each continent.  The time limit for these athletes to complete 500 miles and that huge amount of climb is 240 hours (10 days).  In the history of the course, no one has ever completed the 500 miles in the time allowed (Which in previous years has been 9 days. A 10th was added this year for the first time.)  I think this year will be the year for a finisher.

So there you go.  I leave for Vermont tomorrow and I can’t wait to tell you all how it goes.  If you’re a Twitter user- please follow Jared’s Twitter feed throughout the race @runhappens    I also am planning to try to “live blog” from my iPhone while I’m crewing.  I don’t know how to do that, but I did download the app, so I shall give it the old college try.  To follow live blog, I guess just check back here often!  Or follow Adventure Foot on Facebook.  For more on Peak Races including McNaughton, The Death Race, and Warman Cycling Event, click here! 

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Friend-of-the-blog Jared Busen has written a wonderful guide to running hills to share with you all!  It seems like running hills should be much like running everywhere else only more … you know… “up,” but sometimes I feel like I’m crawling up the things.  However, with just a few tweaks

Laura and Jared after a 7 mile run.

to style, you too can be conquering each hill like a boss!  I was the beneficiary of the run he talks about in this article, and had the great fortune to have him check out my stride first hand.   The first few attempts were a different feeling for my legs to get used to, but now, I feel like I often am moving uphill better than I am anywhere else.   Once, early in my running career, I told a friend, “Man, I wish people pre-Columbus were right!” and she asked what I meant and I said, “I wish that they were right about the world being flat- because these hills are killin’ me!”  Now that I think of it though, what fun would flat be?  I’m slowly learning to love the hills.

-Laura Sievert

Love the Hills

by Jared Busen

Recently I was running with a friend for the first time. I don’t mean it was the first time I had a friend to run with, I mean it was the first time I ran with this particular friend. Laura is fairly new to running and currently training for her first half marathon. Like most newbs she didn’t know how to run up hill so the hills were kicking her butt. I worked with her on our run and got her to the point where she wasn’t dreading hills. What follows will be some tips and pointers I’ve learned over the years about how to run up hills.

Hills are an important part of a training program. Hills are both speed work and strength training in disguise. They improve leg and core strength as well as speed and power. They improve your running economy. Plus if you get good at them it’s a great feeling to pass another runner going uphill with ease while they are sucking wind.

Before I get into how to run hills I want to mention the mental aspect of it. If you are a runner you are going to have to run up hills, a lot of up hills. They are in most races, most training runs and about any trail run you do. Hills are a fact of life. The right attitude will make them easier and even enjoyable. You are going to encounter them no matter what, if you bring a good attitude you will be in a much better place to attack the hills.

“Hills are easy”. You may think this is a lie, as I did when I first heard it. However I have come to believe this statement, it’s true. Even if it’s not (which it is) then if you just keep telling yourself and choose to believe it they do in fact become easy. “Hills are easy” is a standard mantra of mine. If I’m doing hill repeats or just running a hilly route I still tell myself this.

“You are a better runner at the top of the hill then you were at the bottom”. Again this is another true statement that I love. How can you not love hills if they make you a better runner!? If you get better every time you run up a hill how can you decide to not get excited and run a hill? This is my default response when someone gets tired on a hill or complains about it. If it’s a really long hill think of how much better you are by the time you get to the top.

Maintain your effort not your pace as you climb the hill. As you improve and get stronger you can start to hold your pace, but to begin with go for maintaining the effort. This ensures you won’t be wiped out at the end and you’ll be able to take advantage of the flat at the top or the downhill on the back side.

Lean into the hill. This lean is generated at your ankles, NOT your hips. Don’t bend at the waist as mechanically it’s horribly inefficient and it constricts your diaphragm making it harder to breathe. You should normally run with a slight lean from the ankles, lean a bit more then you do on the flats. You want your body weight over your toes or just a bit forward. Keep your head up and your body in a straight line.

Run closer to the balls of your feet. Even if you are a heel striker run on your mid-foot to ball. This prevents any breaking while running uphill and keeps you light and quick on your feet. You can only do this (CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE)

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Jared Busen at the Badgerland 24-Hour Track Ultra Marathon

Readers will remember an article in July introducing you to Jared Busen, an ultra runner.  Earlier in September, Jared competed in the Badgerland Ultra Track Marathon with the goals of raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project and running 130 miles in 24 hours. Busen raised more than $3,400 for the Wounded Warrior Project. He also ran over 91 miles before issues with keeping calories in his system forced him to stop the race. Even though he was unable to finish, his total distance placed him third in the Badgerland event.

I talked to him after the race, and despite being somewhat disappointed that he was unable to complete 130 miles, Busen is looking forward to his next Ultra Marathon. In fact, this weekend, Jared plans to run 100 kilometers (62.2 miles) at the same event in which I plan to ride my bike 100 kilometers. The Get Out blog will continue to keep readers up-to-date on Jared’s races, including his return to theMcNaughton race in Vermont May. Last year, he won the 150-mile race, and this year he plans to compete in the 200-mile event. In ultra-exciting news, I plan to be part of his race crew for this amazing event. And as long as I’m setting running goals, I’ve decided that if my friend can run 200 miles, I ought to be able to run 13 … so I’m making plans now to run in the 2012 Bridge the Gap to Health Half Marathon. This event is scheduled for May 12, 2012, and more information can be found on the Bridge the Gap Facebook page. The Get Out blog congratulates Jared on his performance in the Badgerland Track Ultra and wishes him continued ultra-running success. Here’s his recap of the event. More information can be found at his website www.runhappens.com.


Badgerland Track Ultra Recap

By Jared Busen-

Sept. 3, 2011, was the 24-Hour Badgerland Track Ultra. This race takes place on a 400-meter track, log as many miles as you can in 24 hours. My goal was to run 130 miles before the time elapsed. This was a big goal, but one I know I’m capable of achieving. Well, I fell way short of it. I didn’t even run all 24 hours. This won’t be an in-depth recount cause when you run 369 laps around a 400-meter track, they all blur together. Even had I wrote it right after the race, it still would all blur together. My official distance is 91.731 miles.

My crew was Brandon and Betsy Barnes. They both did a great job supporting me and getting me whatever gear or food I needed as the day progressed. Betsy walked the 6-hour and reached her goal of going more than 20 miles; she finished with 20.136 miles.

My buddy Ryan Dexter was there also, he was trying to cover 145 miles that day. Once the race started, he took the lead immediately and was setting a solid pace. I was trailing anywhere from half a mile to two miles for the first few hours. After that, him and I started trading for first place. We’d run together for a bit then split off on our own pace. We were the only two racing this thing; everyone else was taking it easy and just logging miles.

To put it in perspective, Ryan and I were doing the 24 hour race. We were running faster then any of the runners in the 12-hour race. Only one person in the 6-hour race was running as fast as we were, but he was there to pace Ryan. He and I were both setting a tough pace.

Ryan would lead, then I would lead, then he would lead. We spent a few hours trading for first place. Then he started to feel bad. Long story short, Ryan took a break and ended up dry heaving and calls the race. He covered 62.397 miles before dropping. It was a huge effort up to that point. I really hated to see him drop for a few reasons. 1.) He’s a hell of an ultra runner, I hate to see him drop. 2.) He’s a buddy of mine, hate to see him suffer 3.) He was my only competition, part of my motivation to keep pushing myself. Now the race was basically mine to loose. I’m way ahead of second place and, while I’m feeling a bit rough, I’m still running a solid pace.

To be honest the whole race was a bit off for me. I didn’t feel up to par to begin with, not sick or bad, just not completely right. I was hoping that I would catch my groove at some point, my body would remember what ultra running feels like and I’d hit the zone and just run. But it never occurred. All day I kept pushing, and not feeling like I was going anywhere. Yes, I was in the lead for a large portion of the race, but it never felt easy. I was fighting for it.

I keep the lead, eventually I’m 8 miles up on second place. Way out in front and no one even close. I’m still not feeling right, mentally I’ve been struggling the whole day. My stomach is starting to feel wrong, and mentally I’m feeling worse and worse. I keep fighting myself, can’t get past the hump. I hit the 90-mile mark right at 18 hours. This is the time when my stomach has had enough for whatever reason.  I go to the grassy/bushy section of the track and start to dry heave, followed by full on puking and throwing up the entire contents of my stomach. I still have no clue what caused this.

I lost all my calories and felt like crap. Eating is paramount to an ultra runner, there are 6 hours left in this race. I have to keep eating. Maybe had there been an hour left I wouldn’t have worried about it, but 6 hours is a long time to burn energy and not refuel. I decide to stop for a bit and see if my stomach will calm down. I keep feeling like I need to throw up.

Ryan still has a tent up that he uses to change or when his crew needs a nap. I climb in there after having sat for a bit and take a nap. The hope is my stomach will calm down. After an hour of resting Brandon and Betsy talk me into going back out and start moving around the track. My stomach is still killing me, and mentally, I’ve lost all fight and motivation. After 19 hours of feeling off, then throwing up and having an upset stomach I have no desire to go on.

We tried ginger, flat coke and Pepto-Bismol to get my stomach to settle, all in the hopes I can take in calories again. I walk the track for about five laps hoping to feel better. My pace at this point was a 10-minute 400 meter. That’s a 40-minute mile — not good. Any faster and I wanted to toss my cookies again. After the five laps at this pace, having not eating for a few hours and mentally being beaten I call the race at hour 20. I’m miserable, was off my goal and can’t eat. The choice was to suffer for another 4 hours, or call it take a shower and try to sleep. The hotel sounded way better then suffering the rest of the night.

I fell way short of my goal and didn’t even finish the race. I’ve run more than 20 hours and more then 91 miles on many occasions. I’m a strong runner, but it just wasn’t my day. It took some coming to terms with another failure at this course, but it’s what happened, so I have to accept it. It was my choice to stop. I still feel it was the right decision, but it’s an embarrassing decision to make.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me I did great, was a stud for doing what I did in the time I did, I ran 91 miles … I get it. However, I’m a much better runner then that performance. It’s all relative. I’m an ultra runner — this is what I do. I keep running no matter what, but I didn’t that day. It was the right call, but a hard one to accept still. I’ll get there, just need some time between me and the race. That’s part of the reason I’ve waited a few weeks to write this recap. I needed time away from the race to accept it.

I still took third place in the race, which isn’t too shabby for not having run the last 6 hours. I am happy with the pace I was setting and the effort I put into the race until the end. Track ultras are a different beast. It’s a hard race to compete in. I don’t know if I’m going to go back next year or not. Still thinking about that and probably won’t make a decision until May or June about trying to finish this race a third time. Part of me wants to go back and prove to the track I can beat it, but part of me wants to move on and do an ultra I’ve never done before. Go somewhere new next fall and ultra run there. We’ll see.

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Jared Busen, pictured here in uniform in Afghanistan. Busen continued training runs while he served there as a Combat Advisor in 2009-2010.

“Ultra” is the right adjective for Jared Busen in more ways than one. This Class of 2000 Quincy High grad has gone on to become something of a real-life superhero. In 2006, Busen joined the Army, went into Basic Training, and discovered that distance running was his passion. Not satisfied with marathons of 26.2 miles, Busen elected to push onward to Ultra-Marathon distances.

An Ultra-Marathon takes one of two forms: it can be a specified distance (often 50k, 100k, 50 miles, 100 miles or 150 miles) or the race can last a set length of time, for example, 24 hours, and the runners will cover all of the distance that they possibly can before time expires.

It’s easy to list out Jared’s accomplishments as a runner and be in awe. He’s competed in 13 Ultras since he began. He took first place in the Farmdale 50 mile in October 2010 and first place in 150 mile McNaughton Trail Run in May 2011. He places regularly in every race he enters. He even continued running and training while he was deployed in Afghanistan — famously recording hundreds of laps around the .6-mile perimeter of Camp Alamo just because he needed somewhere to stretch his legs. During Army leave time in South Korea — where you would imagine a soldier might want to rest — Busen instead ran a 100k, came back three weeks later to run in the Seoul Marathon, and then completed a second 100k a week after that.

Ultra Marathons take place on a variety of surfaces, including rugged trails like this one.

Besides conquering herculean running distances though, what sets Busen apart in my mind is the focus he brings to all of his endeavors and the easy and unassuming way he talks about distance I can only imagine in terms of road trips in my car.

“[Ultra marathoning] is a sport anyone can do. I’m not gifted or special, I’m just a regular dude who decided to do something hard,” he explains. “The first step is to accept that you’re capable of accomplishing that kind of challenge.”

I expressed some disbelief at his assertion that anyone could take on that kind of distance — thinking back on how hard my first two 5k races seemed this year — and he continued to explain how someone makes the jump from small distances to larger ones.

“That’s the only difference. It’s about continual forward progress. It’s about not quitting. It’s hard for me too — really hard. You’re going to hit walls and want to stop no matter what distances you’re training for.  For running you have to be adaptable and know how to overcome.”

Busen recently launched a website dedicated to his Ultras. In race recaps, you start to understand some of the difficulties the sport entails. The logistics of these races are planned months in advance. Each racer requires a small but dedicated team of people to monitor the race, provide the right hydration, nutrition and equipment as conditions dictate. For example, Busen calculated that he consumed over 10,200 calories during the 150-mile McNaughton race. For comparison, that’s eight days worth of calories for me right now. It’s not surprising that this race takes that much fuel though, or that it takes a team to manage it. The trail is a 10-mile loop repeated 15 times with 2,400 feet of elevation change per loop. The total elevation change is 36,000 feet, the equivalent of the height of Mount Everest and Mount Saint Helens combined.

In addition to his physical accomplishments, Busen is an indefatigable teacher and motivator. In the Army and now the Army Reserves, he is a drill sergeant with the rank staff sergeant E-6.  And while he’ll tell you he was the one “all up in everyone’s face, barking orders,” you can see that he was a leader by example. I asked him why such a Zen-guy would want to be a drill sergeant, and he explained that he just wanted to be the best soldier he could be.

“I guess I see a drill sergeant as a model soldier, so aspiring to that forced me to be as focused as I could be. You’re in front of everyone and they’re just waiting for you to screw up — it’s motivation to work even harder and do my best.”

Busen (right) running on a track. He says that long distances only require a commitment to "continual forward progress."

Busen backs his drill sergeant persona down a decibel or two when he helps coach track and cross-country teams at his local high school and junior high.

“It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences, to help kids learn to love running. I hope I inspire them to run their best. They definitely inspire me.”

The “Get Out” blog will feature some of Jared Busen’s own race recaps in upcoming posts. Until then, I’d encourage you to check out his blog at www.runhappens.com or find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/runhappens?ref=ts.

Jared is currently training for the Badgerland 24-Hour Track Ultra-Marathon and hopes to complete 130-plus miles. He is running this race in support of the Wounded Warrior Project and has set a goal of raising $5,000 to support our military heroes. Please consider making a donation — either a one-time amount or by-the-mile — for this honorable cause. Visit http://tinyurl.com/WWPJaredBusen to make a donation or for more information.

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