Thoughts and Graphs

In the past, sometimes, I’ve run my best races/workouts while in the midst of running really low mileage. Some of my best workouts have come just a few weeks removed from an injury or setback, planned or unplanned. Why the hell is that? Recently, I ran an 8mile tempo workout on a treadmill and, after gobs of mileage and fitness, it felt much more difficult to maintain 5:27pace than it did 11 months ago. I’m way more fit than I was. But, my heart rate was higher this time around. Everything felt more difficult. Maybe, it’s because the body is using some blood to recover from the previous day’s workload which makes less available blood for the current work output. I dunno. Here is a simple graph of what I’m talking about in the grand scheme of things (below)…plateauing or becoming stagnant. Hopefully, motivation will rise again and fitness will, too.

On a side note, yesterday I ran a workout on the Thompson’s treadmill and it was great. I call it my “Decline” hill specific workout. I made it up myself. It’s a nonstop 55min workout, constantly at a significant incline, gradually declining in percent grade and time, gradually increasing speed, run in my New Balance Trail Minimus shoes. After a 3mile warmup (and later a 3mile cooldown), here is a snapshot of the workout:

I really love hill specific stuff. I think it’s speedwork in disguise. I was curious, how much vertical did I gain? Here is the math:

15%…15/100 = 0.15…60/4.5mph = 13:20pace (for 10min) = 0.75mi…0.15 x 0.75mi = 0.1125mi vert…x 5280 = 594ft

14%…14/100 = 0.14…60/4.6mph = 13:02pace (for 9min) = 0.69mi…0.14 x 0.69mi = 0.0966mi vert…x 5280 = 510ft

13%…13/100 = 0.13…60/4.7mph = 12:45pace (for 8min) = 0.63mi…0.13 x 0.63mi = 0.0819mi vert…x 5280 = 432ft

12%…12/100 = 0.12…60/4.8mph = 12:30pace (for 7min) = 0.56mi…0.12 x 0.56mi = 0.0672mi vert…x 5280 = 355ft

11%…11/100 = 0.11…60/5mph = 12:00pace (for 6min) = 0.5mi…0.11 x 0.5mi = 0.055mi vert…x 5280 = 290ft

10%…10/100 = 0.1…60/6mph = 10:00pace (for 5min) = 0.5mi…0.1 x 0.5mi = 0.05mi vert…x 5280 = 264ft

9%…9/100 = 0.09…60/7mph = 8:34pace (for 4min) = 0.47mi…0.09 x 0.47mi = 0.0423mi vert…x 5280 = 223ft

8%…8/100 = 0.08…60/8mph = 7:30pace (for 3min) = 0.4mi…0.08 x 0.4mi = 0.032mi vert…x 5280 = 169ft

7%…7/100 = 0.07…60/8.5mph = 7:03pace (for 2min) = 0.28mi…0.07 x 0.28mi = 0.0196mi vert…x 5280 = 103ft

6%…6/100 = 0.06…60/9.5mph = 6:18pace (for 1min) = 0.16mi…0.06 x 0.16mi = 0.0096mi vert…x 5280 = 51ft

Total Elevation Gain = 2,991ft (which would be about 21k’ per week average)

All in all, I wasn’t trying to hit this workout outta the park. I was just trying to get on first base. My AVG HR was 145 (MAX HR was 163) right in a solid fat burning zone, positively improving the efficiency of the mitochondria. Hell of a leg workout, building my climbing legs for four huge ultra trail races next year.
Just good honest work.


Not At Home

Not At Home

“Not at home. Not at home at all.” Again and again, this was the phrase I mentally muttered as I opened up my stride on the Escarpment overlooking Lake of the Clouds. Similarly to whom I borrowed this quote, Bilbo Baggins experienced this same jubilation whilst tip-toeing around Smaug underneath the Lonely Mountain. The views, my effort, and the atmosphere culminated at once, leaving me ecstatic and even emotional at times. I was two and a half hours deep into a long run in foreign backcountry territory, yet my fitness allowed me to enjoy every step. I was not at home.

A couple hours later, here I am, slouched in a library’s armchair in -look it up- Minocqua, Wisconsin, still feeling the euphoria of the day’s effort.

Yesterday, Twitter brought me news of an inhuman feat by one Jim Walmsley. Jim became the fastest human to double cross the Grand Canyon (R2R2R), running the 21 miles across (North Rim to South Rim) in 2h46m then repeating the 21 miles (South Rim to North Rim) back to where he started. It took him 5h55m, shattering the previous record of Rob Krar’s stout time of 6h21m, crowning him as the new King of the Canyon. Legendary stuff.

Jim’s accomplishment aided in today’s motivation. I wanted to run far. I wanted to hurt. I wanted to be depleted of calories. I wanted to get muddy. Check. Check. Check. And check. My legs felt surprisingly refreshed after yesterday’s 25-mile effort (combined with six hours of driving) and compounding abuse of eating an entire bag of Lays BBQ kettle cooked chips, a whole large bag of Haribo Gold Bears, and 12 chocolate chunk cookies as sides to a foot-long sub. #calories

Here is the 30-mile / 4h58m route I covered, via pictures (not mine). Enjoy:

My truck

Summit Peak (highest point in the Porkies)

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Mirror Lake

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Lake of the Clouds

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Escarpment (Escarpment Trail basically dips and rises along the rocky bluffs of the Porcupine Mountains, completely exposing the runner to all the elements that the Upper Midwest offers. To my right, over the rocky eskers, lies Lake Superior. Deep blue. Harsh. Wavy. Intimidating. To my immediate left (1k’ below) lies Lake of the Clouds.)

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Trap Falls (the blue skies turned gray and, by the time I hit Trap Falls, greeted me with a cold/foggy rainstorm. Rain like you wouldn’t believe. Chafe city.

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Government Peak

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Mirror Lake

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Summit Peak

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My truck

It was one of the most magical/sensual things I’ve ever experienced. This effort matches up with the big runs I did with David Kampf and Greg T. in the Adirondacks.

Through my trips to the Northwoods, I’ve been mentally compiling a list of one-liners that characterize the area. I will leave you with them:

1. Pine trees

2. Lakes

3. Motels

4. Wind

5. Logging trucks

6. PBR beer (unfortunately)

7. Paul Bunyan bars

8. Toyota Tacomas

9. Oldies Rock music

10. Old miners

11. Trails

12. Rocks and roots

13. Depressing homes

14. Fishing

15. Cold/unpredictable weather

16. The bare essentials

Berry Walnut Oatcakes

Berry Walnut Oatcakes

Here is a recipe of my favorite breakfast, enjoyed especially in the Fall and Winter. It’s pancakes on steroids. Brace yourselves.

Dry ingredients:

1c whole wheat flour, 1/2c steel-cut oats, 1/2tbsp chia seeds, 1/2tbsp pure cane sugar, 1tsp baking powder, 1/4tsp salt

Wet ingredients:

1 1/2c almond milk, 1 cage-free egg

Combine each set of ingredients separately. Then, combine together.

After spreading a little bit of olive oil onto the skillet’s surface, pour the concoction onto the skillet. As the temperature rises, add in frozen blueberries, dried cranberries, walnuts, and some cinnamon.

Golden-brown is the color you’re looking for. Once visible, flip the cakes and turn off the heat.

Spread natural peanut butter (no preservatives) and maple syrup (no high fructose corn syrup) over the cakes.

Enjoy with some water and a fresh cup of Infusco. Ramiro Ponce Honduras is the bean. At Infusco, we have a direct trade and relationship with farmer Ramiro Ponce from Honduras.

To order beans, merchandise, or to see what we’re all about, visit our website at