Tell us a little about yourself
I am 49 years living in North Vancouver, BC with my wife and my daughter. Full time father, husband, and employee in information technology industry. I also have been enjoying running for about 20 years on my spare times and recently been engaged in the sport of table tennis which started out of necessities to be active since I couldn’t run for short while and now growing into another passion. I feel is going to be my life time sport after retiring from competitive running, to keep me fit and cognitively sharp
As long as my memory pool allows me, from the very young age I was a big sports fan and liked to be active and fit. Movement is part of me, I am stretching while resting, I am in constant motion,
I started running about 1998 for a short time, ran my first 10K race (Sun Run Vancouver) without training anything specific to running, purely used my soccer fitness. I enjoyed the running, I guess you could say I got hooked on runners high. But not long after that unfortunately I ran into some health issues. Being on medication for long time, then severe concussion, not being able to exercise I started gaining weight, Then I was diagnosed with asthma.
I have vivid memory of what I was planning but not sure whether I was dreaming or fully awake, I was making plan how to help my lungs and be fit again, so in late 2001 I decided running.
A friend of mine back then was running with the Running Room and asked me to join him on their Sunday runs. First run in ages, out of shape, I was able to run about 5k that day. During my first run, a super happy, energetic, and on Duracell battery run leader engraved a wanna person to be in me. She would sprint forward, cheering the runners ahead and then turn around and run with the slower runner, constant cheering and encouraging everyone. She made me enjoy the running more and with soccer conditioning drills I was able to speed up my running fitness.
I did my first half marathon in 2002, then about 3 months later I did my first marathon. The first marathon thought me quiet a bit about the energy, electrolyte, tolerance, adaptation, perseverance and most importantly humbled me. I knew nothing about the nutrition, yet I wanted to be competitive. I thought running was like going to soccer game, just lace up and get on the field. The bonking and cramping were a good lesson to be learned, Gatorade wasn’t the right fuel for endurance and demanding sport. I went on running 6 more marathons before deciding to run my first ultra, Stormy 50 miles in Squamish, BC in August of 2007. The day after running 50 miles I was able to go for training run. After a marathon, first week I had to walk the stairs backward, I was sore for at least 2 weeks and needed 4 weeks before my legs were fully responsive to proper training.
The quicker recovery from the ultra 50-mile race made me switch and focus more on the trail running and while I was still racing road 100K races, mostly I spent my training in the trails.
I was fortunate in 2009 to represented Canada in the Inauguration of the Common Wealth Mountain and Ultra Running Championship in England and 2011 world’s in Holland, both in 100km road distances.
I have run the Fat Dog 120 miles three times in 2010, 2012, 2013 and couple of 200+ miles races in Tahoe 2014 and Bigfoot in 2015 in the US.
In the last couple of years primarily been racing shorter distances. In 2018 I am hopeful to race my 4th and last competitive Fat Dog 120 before I retire myself from the long distance.
I love the sport of running and passionate about giving back to the community that has given me so much. If I am not racing I do volunteer in the local races.
I am run leader volunteer at the Foretrails Clinic in North Vancouver and I am also leader of the North Shore Lions Athletic Run Faster group Tuesday speed click.
What’s the toughest setback that you have had to overcome in an ultra?
Most of the Ultra running races have surprising elements that in one way or another could have an impact on your race performance and success. The elements could be injuries, mother nature going wild, heavy rain/hail, thunder, wind, heat, wild and loud sleep stations, wild animals, snow, about 40-degree difference from lower to higher elevation, from canyon to peaks. Sometimes as simple as the drop bags don’t show up at the designated place where you plan weeks ahead preparing the race necessities.
I have had some tough ones but the one I remember, while about 40 or so miles into the Big Foot 205 miles race when I was running down a steep switchback I heard a pop on my left leg and immediately felt sharp pain around my left knee. At that moment I just had switched to a new shoe and the foot for some reason didn’t feel right. So, I kept saying to myself that it could be from the shoe and hopefully the pain will go away when I switch to another shoe. The pain never stopped and as I continued on it got worse. This really slowed me down. I switched my shoe in the next designated drop bag location and the pain never stopped. I wanted to race to end but quitting wasn’t an option, I was doing the race in memory of friends who passed away a few weeks back, so I had to finish. Passed the half way mark then my stomach didn’t feel right, so I went about 10 hours just relying on water before I was able to eat some solid food. 165 miles of excruciating pain, stomach issue, nearly falling off cliff zig zagging narrow trail with the cliff on the outside due to sleep deprivation, hallucinating at Sunday 2 AM hydro folks sitting in the crane basket fixing the broken wire in the middle of no where above the narrow trail. I over come those painful moments which later MRI showed torn Meniscus. I still to today can’t believe how I finished that race, felt like a very long painful dream. What got me through it thinking of my friend, fear of letting him down, repeating to myself one step at a time, one foot ahead of another.
What advice would you give to someone racing their first 100 miler?
100 miles is just another distance and experience. It is not impossible and anyone could do it at any level however finishing could come with challenges, surprises, and suffering due to elements I touched on earlier. Most 100 miles races they days have cut off time, which could add a bit more stress on people haven’t not done their homework ahead of time. Better prepared, the smoother it gets or easier to deal with surprises going back to our memory pool. For some people might take one try and for some could be 2, or more to achieve it. As much as physical preparation, you need to be prepared mentally as well, crucial element to coup and ease in dealing with unknowns or when things are not going right way, the mental preparation will assist you to assess, plan, and take the action needed in crisis.
Passion is the crucial ingredient to over come the challenges, obstacle, setback and triumph. 100 miles is the next level of test to the limit at that point. The person with the passion In running is expected , anticipated to have already completed some shorter distances progressively and has gone through the trial and errors of nutrition, gears, some unknown elements in shorter distances such as 50 miles, 100K as such. They enjoy running not just for the sake of completing or racing 100 miles. Passion would give you the tool to adapt and have a pleasant experience, with passion suffering can still be beautiful because the rewards are greater and assist you to achieve even more later in all aspects of your life.
Having an Open mind and acceptance of the circumstances is another key ingredient. With unknowns, trial and errors teach you and prepare you better. Limiting yourself to only certain program, terrain, condition or food only limit your success. Sometimes the conditions on the race day, could throw something at you that you haven’t been trained in or not accustomed to and you may need to divert your plan slightly to adapt. If you have a closed mind or not acceptance, you may end up packing it in and go home far sooner, while patient, open mind and slight deviation could still lead you to successful finish. Go with the Flow!
Train as much possible in similar to race conditions, it is great to train in similar terrain so your body gets used to the stress as well you learn to proper pacing. This may not be possible for everyone depending your training ground in comparison to the race terrain, like someone living at the sea level but he/she is racing in high altitudes, or living in cold and dry climate but racing in hot and humid conditions or vise-versa. There are alternatives ways to the adaptation, just do your research ahead of time and practice.
Don’t over train or burn out before the race, I have been guilty of this in the past and has back fired. In our mind regardless of how much we train still not enough. Slight under training is far more beneficial that over training and burn out. The most important thing is to get to the start line fresher and healthy
Break the race in chunks/segments and practice during your long runs, this could be from Aid station to Aid station depending on the remoteness of the race or segments broken because of incline/decline or purely distance.
Seek help or advise from others already been through the ordeal, ultra runners in general are very approachable folks and love to share their experience, struggles and their success. Run with them, be observant, don’t copy per-se but could compare to what you been doing on your own. Listen to the tips, also beneficial to keep a log.
Train at night and with headlamp, sprinting leg during the day light, could become jello passed the regular sleep hours. Training at night with head lamp ahead of time, will give you a sense of what to expect. Have a bright headlamp during the race is also great help. Hammer Nutrition Espresso Gel with 50mg of caffeine could be very handy to keep you awake with the sustain energy.
Have a nutrition plan from the beginning of you training, find out what the race organizer provides or who are their sponsors and most likely they supply their aid station with the brand. Practice, practice, find alternatives. If you have a brands or brands find out when and in what distances the particular source of energy could benefit you. If you are unsure and looking for healthier, sustain and reliable energy brand, Hammer Nutrition product are gluten free, Vegetarian and Vegan friendly with needed glycogen, protein, fat, electrolyte, race days supplement, variety of the recovery product for your training and required for racing 100 miles and longer distances.
Do not panic if things don’t go as planned or when you hit lows. This is common and very normal, high’s and lows are part of ultra running, the longer the race, reoccurrence chances are higher. stay calm, focus, positive, one step at a time and shortly after you feel like gods again.
Prepare and have a functional gear on the race day, find out what gear works for you. If you have limited budget in purchasing gears, you could borrow from friends and try multiple brands. When borrowing stuff, keep in mind the hygienics and the bacteria build up. You could even make your own custom pack, as long as is functional, comfortable and has storage capacity for what you need on the race day, food, warm clothes, poles, safety kit. Communication device, emergency or tracking.
What are your top three Hammer products? And why?
Perpetuem - this is my new favorite nutrition since I was introduced to it, I use it in my longer training runs and races beyond 2-3 hours. I am barely ever hungry after consuming Perpetuem, it provides me the calories I need, it provides me the protein I need and on top of that some Fat which is plant based and great. I personally use Perpetuem unflavored and mixed it like pancake batter texture and drink plenty of water to top if off.
Recoverite - My new best friend. There aren’t any long run or intense training run that I go without Recoverite. I prepare a bottle before heading out for run and sits in the car until I am done with the workout. Recoverite has given me the ability and opportunity to train back to back without feeling much of fatigue in muscles and also control my craving of eating all sort of unhealthy stuff after the workouts. As I am aging, Recoverite becoming my motivator and encourages me to look forward to the next workouts. On top of Recoverite I also take Endurance Amino and Tissue Rejuvenator.
Espresso Gel - my fav Gel, taste good, keeps me awake in dark nights or early in the mornings. I call it Volcanic eruption of my sleep, keeps me sharp. Surprisingly with 50mg of caffeine, one would expect a quick buzz then major crash but the energy is sustained and controlled.
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