Hello, thank you for joining me along my journey of becoming a Runner! I've always been an active guy, played sports in high school and continued into adult recreation sports after high school. As I started my family and found a career, the activity level slowly decreased. Well my Fiance had enough of our lazy ways and started on the Weight Watchers program and completely overhauled our daily meals. Step 2 was getting more active, so we decided to JOG our annual Juvenile Diabetes charity walk and actually enjoyed the activity. The month following the charity walk, we signed up for our first official 5K and had an absolute blast. From that point forward I have officially been BIT by the running bug and this is my journey to becoming a RUNNER!

Monday, November 10, 2014

First One is in the Bag

Let me start by saying the trail race was everything I had hoped it would be and loved everything about it, but also follow that up with....I got my a$$ kicked lol.  Also huge thanks to my wife and all our friends that came out to support me, I had my own little cheering section when I finished, so cool.

Mrs. Schlub and I arrived about an hour before the race.  We took the time to walk some of the trails and also take some great pics.  Photos courtesy of Mrs. Schlub.

We were looking at perfect weather for racing, forecast called for mid 60 to low 70 for the duration of the race.  I got to the starting shoot about 15 min before the start of the race and the director was already making announcements for the race.  Some of my favorite comments “This is a tough course,” “This will be the hardest 13 miles you have ever run,” and “We recommend you take water out there because there are gaps between aid stations.”  Of course I had completed this course just last weekend so I knew what I was getting myself into, or so I thought.

The minutes leading up to the start were a mess for me; I don’t know what I was doing.  The nerves were getting the best of me at the start line and I told Mrs. Schlub I had to run to the restroom again, only ten minutes until start time, what is wrong with me.  I rush to the restroom and back and we only have a couple minutes before the gun goes off.  As they count down from 20 seconds I realize I didn’t start my watch to find satellite connection, again what is wrong with me.

The gun goes off and we are out and running.  The lead pack was filled with strong and fast runners and of course my ego gets the best of me and I latch on and hold on for dear life.  My watch finally syncs up about a quarter mile into the run.  My goal was to hit the first 3 miles hard, there was a small climb for the first two miles then some downhill and rolling flats for the remaining mile.  I looked down at my watch and realized I was at about a 7:30 pace; I just about had a panic attack on the trail.  I told myself to stick to the plan, get up the first climb and you get a nice downhill that you can catch your breath.  I made it to the climb and the downhill was a nice sight and I was able to get myself under control.

Coming into mile 4, we started to hit the sandy wash which I planned to have a steady pace and hopefully make up some ground.  Well my legs felt like jello and I wasn’t running as smoothly through the sand.  I’m sure it had plenty to do with the 7 min/mile pace I was holding onto in the first couple miles.  At this point the one thing I told myself is that I COULD NOT walk in the sand.  My pace was considerably slower in the sand if I walked so I just had to keep moving.  About mile 5 my legs finally started to feel good and I was able to finish the sand strong.

The next section was again some rolling flats that allowed me to hold a pretty good pace.  I was coming up to what I call the midway point, it’s about mile 9 and there is a side trail that leads back to the start/finish line.  I had told Mrs. Schlub about this trail in case she wanted to see me crossing here.  At the time she mentioned she probably wouldn’t be there as our friends would be with her at the finish line.  Still, a part of me hoped she was there for a little moral boost.  In the end she wasn’t there but I’m really glad she wasn’t, I ran right through that section continuing on knowing I only had 4 more miles to go (in actuality it was 5 more miles to go, who marked this course??).  I know if she had been there I would have stopped longer than I actually did and thrown me out of rhythm.

Now we come to the climbing.  There are actually two climbs in the last 3 miles.  We go up and over a smaller hill which gets us to the base of the final mountain.  I stayed steady on the first hill only power hiking the last 50 feet.  Once over the hill, it’s a nice long downhill that I was able to open up and make some good time on that section.  THE MOUNTAIN!  To this point I had given it my all and was just going to hang on for this last climb.  I started with a very slow steady pace which quickly turns to a CRAWL up this mountain.  My steps were so small and slow that young kids were passing me on the way up lol.  There are no highlights here, it was brutal, and I had to take 2 full rest breaks, but was very proud of myself for making it to the top as quick as I did.  I don’t see me handling that mountain any better than I did yesterday.  You know the saying, “what goes up, must eventually come down.”  As you hit the high point of the trail, it jumps right down the other side of the mountain.  I did a good job getting down quick and quickly got into a smooth run for the last mile to the finish, and then it happened!!!

CRAMPS!!!  Yup, the last mile was filled with cramps in my calves and hamstrings.  I swear 4 or 5 guys passed me in this last mile all because I couldn’t finish the run strong.  When I crossed the finish line, Mrs. Schlub and our friends let me know that by forehead and face was covered in salt.  I will need to re-evaluate this for next time.

Hit the finish line in 2:13:38 seconds.  I was planning for right around the 2 hour mark but the mountain slowed me down and the cramps got the best of me in that last mile.  So here is my take away:

1)      I have the best wife and friends in the world.  To be out early on a Sunday to see me off and hang out until I get back is awesome.  It means a lot to have that kind of moral support and really made it easy to get over the struggles in the last mile.

2)      These guys in the lead pack were fast.  I was able to look at the results after the race and the guy who won the half marathon distance was able to average about 7:30 min/mile pace.  That means he was running 6 min miles in the flats to make up for the slower pace on the climbs.

3)      I need to TRAIN HARDER.  Like the last point, these guys are stronger and faster than me right now so I have some work to do.  I need to get stronger in the climbs.

4)      I need to warm up better.  It can really impact my performance if my legs take a few miles to warm up and start feeling good.  I don’t like to have tired legs but I need to start with a warm up mile or something like that.

5)      I was able to hold my own in the flat sections.  I could hold pace with the other runners in the flat and downhill sections.  The climbing is where they are stronger and that is where I need to start focusing my training.

6)      The volunteers were awesome!!  Each aid station had plenty of staff, they offered water, Gatorade, and PowerBar gels.  The staff was friendly and cheering the whole time.

I loved the event and I am already planning my next trail race.  I need to really focus on strength training and I need to focus on running my training runs much harder.  It’s going to be a lot of hard work to get to the next level, so challenge accepted.

Any suggestions for losing salt and cramping during the race?


  1. Wow! Great race. I liked the pictures too. Don't you love it when the announcers try and psyche you out before the race???
    My advice would be to fill your hydration pack with an electrolyte replacement--I use Tailwind nutrition. The cramping is probably related to dehydration. It is so hard to hydrate and fuel properly--I imagine running in the desert even more so!
    You did great! How do you like your hydration pack?

    1. The scenery was awesome, race could of been a lot better in my mind.

      I agree with the dehydration, I was kidding more water than I was taking in.

      I love my pack, I use to have a camelbak until a buddy got me the one I have now. Has more pockets and the bladder hangs from the top of the pack rather than sitting at the bottom.

  2. That's a great trail time! Trail and a mountain :) Congrats on a great run! You can go back next year and shave that time ") I am always salty like that after I run. I just hydrate as much as possible before an event and I usually try to eat a dill pickle or sip a small amount of pickle juice after a really sweaty run. I try to catch myself from taking short mouth breaths, I always seem to cramp when I do that. I try to breath in deep with my nose when I catch it and if I really get a side stitch I raise my arms, it works for me.

    1. Thanks. I want to go back next weekend and shave time off lol.

      Hmmm pickle juice huh. That's a new one that I'm going to have to try.

  3. Way to go!!! You did amazing!! I can't even image what facing a mountain at the end of a race would be like! Way to go, champ!

    I lose a ton of salt when I run too. After the Portland marathon Adam was like, "how did you get all this sand on you?" LOL

    I drink an electrolyte drink the day before a race, during the race and after the race! Did you take Gatorade at the aid stations? I try to have at least one cup at each aid station, but you mentioned the aid stations were kind of far apart at this race so maybe two cups per station would have worked better? My coach has recommended taking salt tabs, she takes them when she is busting out her sub 3:10 marathons so I guess there's something to it :)

    1. Thanks. In my mind I cold of done better but the first one is out of the way.

      Ha....Adam....but I can totally see how he was thinking that.

      I took one cup off Gatorade and the last two aid stations, obviously not enough lol. I've heard salt tabs but I also looked into Sport Legs. I need to do some more research.

  4. Great job on finishing your first trail race! It sounds like a really tough race - deep sand, hills, and a mountain in the last 3 miles!? Brutal.

    Pre-race briefings for trail races are the best :) Sometimes the director explains how the course is marked and I get so confused and become convinced I'm going to get lost. Then when I get out on the trail it all makes sense. And as for your race actually being 14 miles... welcome to running trail races. As long as it's in the ballpark of 13.1 miles, we'll call it a half marathon. That applies to every distance in my experience on trails.

    I don't know much about nutrition and exercise science, but my guess is your cramps arose because you are a salty sweater and weren't replacing the salt you were losing through sweat. Maybe try using a sports drink for hydration? You could always use a slightly watered down sports drink in your own bottle/pack if drinking it straight won't work for your stomach.

    1. It was tough but I feel like I left a lot on the course. I need to build of this race.

      The trail race briefing was much different than road races. Ha...good to know the races are "around" the advertised distance. I'll keep that in mind for the next races.

      I think you got it, sweating too much and not replacing it fast enough. Took in some Gatorade at the aid station but too little too late lol.

  5. I love love LOVE the pictures! I wanna run around cacti too haha! :D

    That's a great time! Sounds like an extremely hard race, I hope you're proud - because you really should be! :D too bad you cramped up.. but hey, you still did great! *applause to you*

    I am a salty runner too HAHA oh how stupid that sounded.. But yea.. at first I was all "wtf I didn't notice any wind when I rand past the sand volleyball place, why is there so much freaking sand on me?!" then "oh f*** it's salt HAHAHA ew i'm disgusting!" xD
    I have started drinking Farris (for some reason I think Farris is norwegian, so.. it's basically sparkling water.. haha), and that helps a LOT for me :)

    1. The scenery was awesome.

      I'm glad I raced and I can't wait for the next one but man I wanted a better performance.

      I've only had salt issues a couple times and its usually when it's really hit out. Need to find a good solution.

  6. Congrats!!! Great job! Aren't you so happy you checked out the course so you had the heads up?! Super smart move!

    I think your plan to train harder if you want to keep up with those guys is good - and luckily, you have the inclines right there and already do so well! :D :D: D

    I've never had cramps, but have been taking electrolyte tabs to help with salt loss!

    1. Yes, checking out the course before was huge.

      I need to put in the work if I want to run with the lead pack, getting at it starting next week, our maybe the week after lol

      I tried to take Gatorade ibn the choose but no help. I'll need a solution to avoid this in the future.

  7. Congrats on finishing your first trail race! Sand is my least favorite surface to run on...except mud, I guess. And mountains in the middle (or end?) of trail races are half the fun! Embrace the pain.

    1. Thanks. Sand wasn't too bad it just took a while for my legs to get warmed up.

      Ha embrace the pain, I'd like to improve my fitness so climbing mountains is not as painful lol


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