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Setting Fitness Goals For Next Year

setting fitness goals

This will be a fairly short post, but I wanted to send out a note to expand on 2 points I made last week about setting fitness goals as we wrap up 2016 and move into 2017. Last week, I made a short video that brought up the following 2 points…

  1. Don’t wait until January to set your goals for next year.
  2. Set goals that you can fail at, if you don’t put in the work.

My Approach To Setting Goals

For a long time there was this idea that you set a specific long term goal and then back out your shorter term goals that need to be acheived to reach the long term goal. I still think there is some merit to that idea but I also believe it becomes more irrelevant as we move into the future with how fast the world around us continues to develop and change.

I tend to think in the form of the person I want to be and how I want to live my life long term and then set goals or acheivement challenges that support how I want to live. I think the former mentioned way of thinking, leaves you continuously chasing a moving target as you most likely have to continue changing your long term goals to keep up with the world around you. The person I want to be and the way I want to live my life is more consistant over time.

If you continue to challenge yourself in all areas of your life each year in a way that supports the larger picture of who you want to be and how you want to live your life as a whole, then that I believe will bring you closer to where you want to be in the long run. Plus, I believe you will find more enjoyment and purpose in the journey. I am not trying to get phylisophical with you, but it probably is important for you to know my perspective on the subject.

Coming back to fitness specifically… In my recent years, I have become a believer in challenging yourself in some type of physical test, more specifically endurance as I believe it makes you both physically and mentally stronger; coincidentally making you stronger in other areas of your life. I think the mental challenge of endurance racing and training for an endurance race, changes what your brain has been programmed to think is difficult and makes other things in life seem less daunting.

Don’t Wait Till January To Start Setting Fitness Goals For Next Year

I am probably writing this too late as it is, since January is less than 4 weeks away already, but there is still time to get a jump start on your plans and targets for next year. I’d say, split the next few weeks up like this… Take the next 2 weeks to dial in what you want to accomplish fitness wise next year and that still leaves you with a week to put a rough plan together and at least figure out what you need to be focused on as the new year turns.

If your big goal is tied to some winter sport, such as fat bike racing, then your fitness activity in January will be much different than if your goal is tied to a spring/summer activity. If it’s tied to a fat bike race, then your January fitness will likely be tied to some more focused race specific training vs early base training. If your goals are tied to spring/summer activities or especially the fall, then your January activities will likely be tied to some base training and overall functional fitness, which could include some other cross training activities. The latter is closer to where I am at right now.

Or, you could also be in a situation like myself where you are looking to add an entirely new discipline or sport to your physical activity. That can change things big time. If I was talking about 5k only races and a couple short cross country mountain bike races, things would be different and not so complicated. But, I’m talking about doing 100 mile mountain bike races, plus adding some long distance trail running and maybe even throwing myself into a cross country ski race or 2. Both of these take some recovery time and a lot of prep.

Set Fitness Goals Early And Own Your Diet

The other reason, I think it is important to know what your goals are prior to January is that you can go into the holidays with those goals in mind and it might keep you a little more honest about your diet. I have been guilty of this myself in the past, but it drives me nuts to hear people say that they are going to get focused after the holidays. You are just kidding yourself. I know, because I said stuff like that for years.

It is easy to get focused after Christmas and New Years, at least for a few weeks… But, if you really want to win over on your will power, get your goals set and have them in mind during the holidays. By the time you hit January, you’ll have momentum and you won’t want to quit come February and make skipping that 3rd or 4th cookie on Christmas Eve all in vein.

Setting Fitness Goals That Make You Work Hard

Plain and simple… Don’t set easy goals just to make yourself feel good. Sure, you don’t want to set yourself up for failure all the time, but if you truly want to get stronger in whatever you are doing, you need to stretch yourself and sometimes fail. I will write up a seperate piece about this, but I usually set 2 goals for something. Not that one of them is easy, but I set a stiff bottom line target and then a knock one out of the park stretch goal.

The stretch goal is what I am racing for, how I leave the start line and how I plan my nutrition for the race. It mentally allows me to take chances and really test myself at the start of the race while the bottom line target keeps me in the game if things fall apart. Like I said, I think I will come back and expand on this idea in another article as this would otherwise turn long winded.

Fail Stronger With Lofty Fitness Goals

One of the reasons I set lofty goals is that whether I succed at them or not, I win. Missing a lofty goal by a little bit, usually means I end up in a far better place than I was anyways, so it is a win win either way. Plus, I don’t like failing and when I miss a goal, it just makes me want to work harder to not miss it again. Additionally, after I chase a goal that maybe I wasn’t quite ready for, I start finding out real quick where my short comings are in order to acheive that goal.

I will be the first one to tell you that I don’t always race the smartest, I am not trying to either. It is all about the test for me. I usually try racing at a level above where my capabilities probably are at and that’s how I learn. I blow up, run out of nutrition or water, crash or something and I find my weakest link. It is not the most fun way to do it, but I am not in it for the fun. This again is leading to another article.

The point is, when you push yourself to failure, you learn what your limits are and what to improve next. You can’t do that if you always aim for what you know you can already do. Plus, you will usually find that your body will take you a little further than you thought to begin with. I have finished races with extra left in the tank and I honestly hated the feeling. It was worse than blowing up because I knew I did not lay down my best performance or push my limits.

Wrapping Up

I suppose this may still have been a little lengthy, but it is definitely shorter than what you are used to getting out of me. Like I said, I’ll circle back and expand more on the 2 sets of goals and maybe talk about some specific examples. Thanks for reading and feel free to send any comments my way.

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2015 Maah Daah Hey 100 Race Report

maah daah hey 100

I had heard that the Maah Daah Hey 100 was one tough race, but I was not prepared for what I had gotten myself into. A pre-ride of the opening parts of the trail a few days before the race was a big wake up call for what was ahead, but I still had no idea what was in store for me on race day.

This race report now available in audio with additional commentary on my new podcast – The Endurance Path Podcast w/ Steve Hamlin!

I’d still suggest reading through the written report and reviewing the maps, elevation profiles and checkpoint split times if you are headed out to the race, but also listen to the audio for some additional thoughts and commentary. Don’t forget to subscribe…

Listen on Google Play Music

Listen to Stitcher

Strava file and other reference links at the bottom of the report

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The Maah Daah Hey 100 Start

Pre Maah Daah Hey 100 Race

I arrived at the CCC Campground Tuesday night where the 100 mile race would start from on Saturday. We were making a family vacation out of the event and I also wanted to check out a bit of the trail ahead of time to see what I had gotten myself into. I had done 2 Lutsen 99er races, but I knew I had gotten myself into something much more difficult with the Maah Daah Hey 100. The Lutsen 99er has many miles of two-track or gravel road and nearly half the elevation changes as compared to the 106 miles of the Maah Daah Hey 100 that has only 5 miles of combined gravel road and asphalt.

I rode the first 8 miles of trail out to the first gravel road on Wednesday afternoon to see what I had gotten myself in to. I realized that I would have 2 big climbs in that first 8 miles and that the heat was going to be an issue as I finished my first pre-ride around noon and I was feeling the heat. I had been feeling very confident in my climbing abilities lately, but realized, I may need to rethink my thoughts about going out strong. I looked at the profile maps some more and it sunk in that I would be making these climbs all day on Saturday and the weather forecast was showing race day to be a hot one.

On Thursday, we drove the check points to see what the rest of the course might look like. My wife and kids were along and they wanted to see me throughout the race and take a few pictures. We hadn’t really planned on my wife providing any support at the checkpoints, but after driving the entire course we were rethinking that plan. Things were setting in that I had gotten myself into something bigger than I thought and even though I was well prepared with my drop bags, I was fearful that I had gotten myself in over my head on this one.

I woke up on Friday morning, the day before the race, as if I was racing that day and ran through my routine before riding up the first 5 miles of trail.  This would only be my 3rd long distance mountain bike race and I haven’t quite nailed the pre-race breakfast / routine yet.  I am one that needs some time in the morning and cannot just jump out of bed and onto my bike.  I was planning to wake up 2 hours before the race start, even though I was camping at the start line.  I also had to check out that first climb one more time to build some confidence. The climb wasn’t really a problem, it was just the thoughts of where I should jump in the pack and how hard I should push things out of the gate.

Maah Daah Hey 100 Course Layout & Elevation Profile

maah daah hey 100

The race course is point to point with the start line at the CCC Campground about 20 minutes south of Watford City, North Dakota and ending in Medora, North Dakota. It traverses some extremely remote terrain through the plateaus and valleys of the North Dakota Badlands. There is very little gravel road, in the amount of just a few miles in total. I’d consider the riding to be rugged, but not technical. You will have to carry or push your bike more than once.

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As you can see from the elevation profile, you are either going up or down. Some of the decents can be really fast through some of the prarie sections, but you need to stay on your toes as the trail can be washed out and not predictable at times. There are a few flatter sections early in the race, but after that it’s all up and down. Between the mid day heat and constant up and down terrain; miles 50 to 79 can really take a toll on you.

Maah Daah Hey 100 Race Day

The Maah Daah Hey 100 Start Line

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Me heading to the start line

As I headed for the start line, many racers were starting to line up already and I called an audible to jump a little in front of mid pack and not over do it on the start. It was going to be a long race… The Race Director, Nick Ybarra had a great starting line send off for the race that included the National Anthem and a quote from Theodore Roosevelt.  It was a very inspirational send off to the race and the thoughts of “this is going to be Epic” were setting in.

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Entering the first cattle gate at the trailhead

Start Line to Checkpoint A (mile 10)

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I eased my way up the first climb in line with other riders.  There were a couple of guys getting antsy that worked up past us, but I knew that we had a couple miles of open prairie ahead of us after making the climb and this was the first of many climbs.  Once we got to the top, I did jump around a few riders and made my way across a couple gaps in the prarie to make up some spots.  After the prairie section, we were dropped back to the bottom of the valley for another climb out before getting to Checkpoint A. We had 2 short gravel road sections during the race and the first one was at the top of this second climb.

It was time for breakfast and I popped out one of my homemade Rice Krispie bars while I spun an easy pace along the gravel and recovered from the climbs at the same time. My instincts wanted me to hammer this gravel road section like it was the Lutsen 99er, but I knew that wasn’t the right thing to do right now, at least for me.

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Passing through Checkpoint A

Checkpoint A to Aid Station #1 (mile 25)

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The next section of trail had an amazing descent that switchbacked down the edge of a ridge. This was my first real taste of what some of the trail ahead was to look like. I got a bit excited at this point and thought how awesome it was to have the opportunity to race on a trail like this.

Right about mile 17, I came down into a creek bed and then followed the edge of the creek… A little over a half mile later, the trail got sketchy and there were no 4X4 posts in sight, I realized I was not on the Maah Daah Hey Trail anymore. There were actually 2 other riders that were with me at this point. After backtracking about a half mile we found where the mistake had been made. Other than the other tire tracks headed down the creek bed, I have no idea why I headed that way as the trail went right across the creek and up the other side. I lost over 10 minutes according to my Garmin. Things also set in for me here about the ruggedness of this trail and that I needed to keep my focus on where I was going.

At mile 19, I came up on a long single file line of riders waiting to traverse down a steep bank across a creek bed and up the other side before hitting another climb up through some switchbacks. As I picked up my bike to slide my way down the slope to the creek bed, the guy behind me made a joke saying “I have an aluminum frame and am just gonna toss it over the edge and pick it up at the bottom”. I love the humor of riders early in races. I say early in the races, because it rarely happens late in a race, but I do enjoy some good sarcasm and kidding along the trail. My shoe filled with gravel and sand as I slid down the creek bed and I must have made some type of verbal complaint about it… The guy in front of me said “it will give you something to think about for the next few hours”…

Back to the race…  We got backed up while working our way up the switchbacks and I was getting antsy to make some time and spots back up in the traffic that I had lost when I got off the trail a few miles back, but I was still nervous about pushing too hard too early. As I looked out, I could see we would be climbing for quite some time and I kept patient and eventually worked my way around a few riders when we got out of the switchbacks. I did want to get out in front of as much of this group as I could to avoid getting caught up in any water refill lines at the upcoming Aid Station. We finally arrived at the first Aid Station where I was able to top off my water and keep moving.

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Coming into Aid Station #1

Aid Station #1 to Checkpoint B (mile 38)

maah daah hey 100

I left Aid Station #1 at a race time of 2:30 and was feeling good. I knew it was going to start getting hot and the second half of the race was going to be brutal from the heat alone, so I was toeing the line of pushing my current pace while still saving some for the afternoon. I assumed that my pace would slow later in the day regardless of how easy I took it at this point, so I needed to keep pushing. We had a couple of climbs and another descent before riding through Checkpoint B. My family had decided to skip Checkpoint B and head straight for Checkpoint C, to make sure they stayed ahead of me in the race.

Checkpoint B to Checkpoint C (mile 44)

maah daah hey 100

My Garmin doesn’t show it, but this next section up to Goat Pass is where I could start feeling the heat building up and setting in. I have to think that my Garmin temperature is off by 10 degrees or so, as it only showed 48 degrees for the start of the race and I definitely don’t remember it being that cold. It shows the temps coming through Goat Pass to be just over 80 degrees, which would have been just after 11:00 AM. Maybe somebody can check on their device for comparison…?

There were some volunteers on Goat Pass handing out cups of water. As I was coming across, they yelled that they had water and I could either drink it or dump it, my choice. I knew it was getting hot at this point, because I chose to dump it over my head and yelled a big thank you to them. I don’t know who they were, but if you are reading this, thank you again! I remember thinking to myself as I rode past that point; they had to hike it out there from somewhere carrying all that water that they were passing out. Seeing them on the trail, cheering me on; was awesome and the water just took it to another level of appreciation.

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Coming down Magpie Road

maah daah hey

Coming up Magpie Road

Checkpoint C to Aid Station #2 (mile 50)

maah daah hey 100

I had just run out of water, but rode through the Checkpoint C anyways and started looking for my wife up the road for my water fill up instead. We had a bit of a climb up the gravel before a fun and fast gravel descent. My wife was parked at the top of the second gravel climb where I pulled off and filled up my Camelbak. My kids looked like they were still having a good time and were hanging out the window ringing their cowbells. I gave them a high five as I rode off and yelled to my wife that I would see her on the other side of the river.

From here, we had about 3 miles of descent before hitting the river crossing. I can’t remember exactly what the terrain was like, but it wasn’t super fast as my speeds on my Garmin at that section top out at 20 mph for just a split second. I believe it was a mix of bench cut ledges with a bit of prairie mixed in. I finally arrived at the river and felt like I had hit a major milestone. I took my shoes off and crossed in my socks. Once to the other side, I peeled off my wet socks and put on my spare socks that I had packed in my Camelbak. We had another 56 miles to ride and I didn’t want to put wet socks back in my dry shoes. It was a short distance up a steep grade of switchbacks from there to Aid Station #2.

Aid Station #2 was a busy place, but I found my drop bag quickly and started swapping out my wrappers for fresh food. I lubed my chain as it was starting to get noisy and changed into my other gloves. My wife was just pulling into the aid station as I was wrapping up. I had plenty of water left, but topped it off anyways.  I pulled up to the truck on my way out of the aid station and dumped a bunch of chamois butter down my drawers and put more sun screen on.  I only share the chamois butter with you as it provided for a bit of a funny story a few more miles down the trail…

Aid Station #2 to Checkpoint D (mile 58)

maah daah hey 100

I left Aid station #2 at a race time of 5:09 and was still in pretty good shape for having ridden 50 miles, but fatigue was starting to settle in. I can’t remember exactly where it was at, it may have been coming up the switchbacks to Aid Station #2, but somewhere in there I had felt the first leg cramp creeping its way up on me. I had been here before and knew that I can push through them or walk them off and not to let it scare me. I needed to stay relaxed and just keep a steady pace, take the opportunity to stretch quickly when I dismounted for the cattle gates and stay focused. The next 25 miles were going to be brutal with the heat and the constant up and down.

So about that chamois butter…  As I worked my way down the trail, I was sliding all over my seat. I looked down to find chamois butter oozing out of my bib shorts everywhere and was actually running down my seat post.  I had apparently gotten a little carried away with it… Not only was I greased up well, but so was the entire mid frame section of my bike. My wife later told me that as I jumped on my bike to ride away from Aid Station #2, she could see it squishing out of my shorts and it gave her a bit of humor for the day.

After making another big climb and descent I arrived through Checkpoint D. My wife had skipped Checkpoint D and headed straight for E to keep out in front of me again. I was feeling the heat, but needed to keep plugging along. I still had plenty of water to make it to the next check point, 10 miles away. As a reminder, I was carrying a water bottle on the bike with eletrolytes and wearing a Camelback with a 100 oz bladder.

Checkpoint D to Checkpoint E (mile 67)

maah daah hey 100

After 4 to 5 more climbs and descents, I finally arrived at Checkpoint E.  My pace had slowed over the past 10 miles with the repeated climbs. To be clear, the descents were not just nice old relaxing down hill rides through the meadow. There were some very technical narrow bench cuts in the side of ravines that sometimes required an unclipping of my inside foot to work my way around the corners and down the hills. When we did reach an open meadow downhill, it could be a nail biting 20+ mph hour ride at times, with a finger on the brake and watching out for trail washouts and deep ruts that could take you by surprise. Not to mention, after having ridden that many miles in the heat, your reaction time and senses just are not up to par. But to keep up this pace, it required full on attention grabbing downhill riding as there would be a granny gear grinding climb at the bottom of every hill.

I was still in good spirits at this point and had cramped only a couple more times. I topped off my water, slammed half a Coke and had my wife dump some cold water over my head. We had purchased some ice and extra water jugs the night before just in case. I had originally planned to just use the Aid Stations and Checkpoints, but later found the ice and cold water that my wife packed to be very helpful and we were starting to get a system down. I also had used medical gauze as a head sweat band and decided to change it here as the first one was shredding apart by now.  By the way, the medical gauze wrap worked awesome for keeping sweat out of my eyes and holding the cold water around my head.

Checkpoint E to Checkpoint F (mile 72)

maah daah hey 100

If I remember correctly, it was mostly open prairie between Checkpoint E and F. However, we still had 2 climbs to tackle and the heat was really setting in. I was getting beat up at this point, but I was mentally in it and just kept steady. I didn’t over push on the climbs and I let it rip in the prairies where I could, but knew that I had to be careful, because the fatigue was setting in and would cause me to make mistakes if I wasn’t careful. I think it might have been in one of these sections where I was barreling downhill through one of the prairies and I had to lock up the brakes to avoid sending myself off the trail into a washed out ditch… I finally made it to Checkpoint F for a quick stop to down another half a Coke, top off my water and had some more cold water poured over my head before heading on my way.

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Coming into Checkpoint F

Checkpoint F to Checkpoint G (mile 76)

maah daah hey 100

It was only 4 more miles to Checkpoint G, but it involved another couple climbs and we were back into some of the rocky and dry clay areas, where the heat was heavy. My Garmin shows over 100 degrees for this section. Again, I am curious what readings other people were getting out there. My wife said that somebody had reported at one of the Check Points that they saw 115 at one point on their device down in the valley. 115 does sound a bit excessive, but all I know is that it was hot. I’ve traveled to India a few times and spent a week in Hyderabad, India a few years ago where it was 112 to 114 and this felt no different. Of course, I wasn’t riding a mountain bike across Hyderabad either. I think once you get over 100 degrees and you have been pushing the heart rate for 8 hours, 5 or 10 degrees difference doesn’t really matter anymore.  My Garmin peaked out at 105.8 for those that are curious.

I was feeling strong still and my spirits were high. Conserving some energy at the beginning of the race had paid off. I had come up on some other riders and could tell the heat and climbs were starting to take a toll on everyone. There were a couple sections of trees where a few riders were taking advantage of the shade to cool off. We exchanged a few words about how far it was to the next Aid Station as I pressed on. I got a bit of a second wind here, mostly of adrenaline and excitement as I realized I was working my way up in finishing spots. Back at Checkpoint C, my wife had thought I was running in spot 21 and I knew I must be getting close to top 10 at this point. There was another climb up to Checkpoint G where I just downed another half a Coke and kept going. Aid Station #3 was only 3 more miles.

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Coming into Checkpoint G

Checkpoint G to Aid Station #3 (mile 79)

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I found myself out on my own through this next section, but it went by fairly quick. There were a few switchbacks, but the climbs were not bad.  I had some adrenaline pumping and came into Aid Station #3 feeling good. I almost missed a turn in the switchbacks coming into Aid Station #3 as I was letting my excitement get away from me. Luckily there was not a drop off and I was able to get things stopped in time. It was a good reminder to respect the trail. I found my wife with the truck parked near and downed half a Red Bull, topped off my water again and took another cold water dousing over the head. We had a good system going now and it was working to keep me cool. I did not mess with my drop bag and headed back out on the trail.

Aid Station #3 to Checkpoint H (mile 92)

maah daah hey 100

I made it out of Aid Station #3 at a race time of 8:45 and feeling strong, but I had 12 miles to the next check point that would take me to the bottom of a near empty well. Heat was kicking my tail and taking a big toll on me. Leg cramps were starting to get a little more serious and I had to stop and stretch a few times. I could feel my body burning fat now and I needed to get some carbs in me as I was getting very sluggish. I had gone too long without some solid food. I stopped right around mile 89 and caught some shade behind a tree to eat a waffle, drink some water and stretch. I think I was only stopped for a minute or two before pressing on again.

My body devoured the waffle and was begging for more. I had been here before a couple years ago in my first and much shorter mountain bike race. I say first, but I did do quite a bit of riding 12 to 15 years ago, along with a couple short races. A couple years ago is when I had gotten back into riding again, after loosing some weight and realizing that the slightly overweight “Dad Bod” was not working for me.

I know at some point, I had 2 gels left and I may have taken one of them before the waffle, but I ended up finishing off the second one at some point during this time as well.  Mind and mental fortitude can take you a long ways, but at some point, you have to feed the muscles. I finally came into Checkpoint H and I was running on fumes. I ate a banana and downed a half a Coke.

I had all kinds of emotions going through my head at this point. This was by far the toughest thing I had ever done and even though I was hurting, I never questioned why I was doing this. I wanted to be there and I wanted to test myself. Deep inside, I was absolutely loving it. I had come a long way in my fitness over the past few years and I was excited about what I was accomplishing. That being said, I had been suffering to deep depths for the last hour and I still had another 14 miles to go.

My wife later told me that she was a bit worried for me at this point and knew I was hurting bad. I am the type of person that wears my emotions on my sleeve. On the outside, it must have appeared that things were coming apart, but on the inside I was just getting the distractions out of my head and preparing myself to finish these last 14 miles. This is where the mental fortitude comes in…

I had been yelling (yes, out loud) at my legs to shut up for the last hour and positive self talking myself into every pedal stroke (Thank you to whoever keeps posting those “Shut Up Legs” t-shirt images on Facebook that have been embedded in my brain…  I should probably purchase one of those shirts now).  I took the dunk of water over my head, topped off my Camelback and water bottle with cold water. As I left that Checkpoint everything was right in my head and I knew that I was going to make it.

Checkpoint H to Checkpoint I (mile 98)

I left Checkpoint I, thinking to myself… All I have left is less than half of a Chequamegon 40, “this is a piece of cake”, using my kids’ terminology. I was hurting still and it took a couple miles to get my legs back under me, the gels and the banana started to kick in and my legs were coming back. It is amazing how the body works. By this time I noticed a couple riders had caught me coming out of that last Checkpoint. I knew I couldn’t let up now and I had to push. I knew I was close to a top ten finish and I didn’t want to give anything up. I kept squirting the water bottle over my head and pressing on. I was slowly picking up speed, but they were still hanging with me.

We came under the I-94 tunnel to find ourselves backed up for a few seconds while some horseback riders were coming out of the end of the tunnel. We were able to make our way around them and I let my pedals have it. I think I was starting to get some separation from the other 2 riders, but they were hot on my tail. I arrived at Checkpoint I with the adrenaline pumping.

Checkpoint I to Finish Line (mile 106)

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I grabbed a half of banana from my wife and topped off my water bottle with cold water. I was feeling strong at this point and knew I was in the home stretch. I took off from this last Checkpoint strong and kept the heat on the pedals. This was a completely different feeling from an hour ago. I made quick work of a creek crossing and got back on the pedals. Before I knew it, I was dumped out on the asphalt and making my way down the bike path to the finish line. I finally crossed the finish line in 10th place with an official race time of 12 hours, 5 minutes and 26 seconds.

I was doing 24 mph when I crossed the finish line. I honestly could have kept riding. This probably sounds a bit demented, but there was a small part of me that was sad it was over. I was having one hell of a moment those last few miles. I don’t think I actually stopped for another 100 yds after the finish. My wife asked me what I was feeling when I finished and it is a bit hard to explain. I was excited and felt really good about how I performed and even gave a bit of a fist pump. I had won the battle from my perspective.

You see, it wasn’t really about the Maah Daah Hey 100. The Maah Daah Hey 100 was providing the atmosphere and the playground, but the race was going on in my head. I was making another step in my life’s adventure and overcoming another battle. A battle I brought on myself for sure, but you have to go out and put yourself in the battle in order to win it and show yourself that you can accomplish great things. At the end of the day, it is another stepping stone to your life story and what you will do with it. I left there, thinking now what can I go accomplish? The possibilities are endless if you never stop testing yourself. Idleness will kill you. We are meant to be productive, test ourselves and accomplish great things.

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The finish line

Post Maah Daah Hey 100 Race Thoughts

This was by far the most brutal thing I have ever done.  Never once during the race did I question why I was doing it. There are many reasons why racing the Maah Daah Hey was the right thing to do and they are all good reasons. It feels good to keep the trail alive and support another person’s dream of saving the Maah Daah Hey Trail. It was an amazing opportunity to race on that trail with that type of terrain and the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt to go along with it. I love traveling with my wife and kids and we’ve been able to visit and see some amazing things because of the National Park System and State Park Systems. The race was not through the National Park, but it was right next door and my kids got to check another National Park off their list and camp in another state because of this race. I thought the starting line send off was fantastic. Thanks again to the Race Director, Nick Ybarra for memorizing and reciting “The Man in the Arena” quote from Theodore Roosevelt at the start line. That was a really nice touch and set a great tone for the day.

As far as my goals for the race… I really just wanted to finish without having to use my lights.  I talked and planned for a 12 hour race, but I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into or if that was really possible, which is why my drop bags were packed with so many extra goodies… I even had these nagging thoughts of a 10 hour race that would pop up, but I knew I wasn’t ready for that yet. That will be for next time. I am really happy with how the race went for me. I had done 2 Lutsen 99ers, but this was a different kind of race. I am not taking anything away from the Lutsen, as I love that race. It has a little bit of everything to it, but there was something a little special about the Maah Daah Hey 100 and it was the ultimate test for me and where I am at right now.

To put things into perspective, 5 years ago I couldn’t ride more than 5 or 6 miles without having to rest up for a couple days. I would have been spending my Saturday drinking some crappy light beer and burning something on the grill because I thought it needed 1 more beer of cooking time… Sure, that may sound like fun, but I certainly wasn’t inspiring my kids to do anything great. Saturday August 1st, 2015 at the Maah Daah Hey 100, my kids got to see me set a goal and reach it. They saw me suffer and push through it. They spent the entire day with my wife going from Checkpoint to Checkpoint. It was just as long of a day for them, but they were right there at the finish line sitting around me telling me “good job Dad”. They were part of the team and the accomplishment. They had won the battle with me…!

maah daah hey 100

Podcast Show Notes Page – Episode 6: Revisiting 2015 – Maah Daah Hey 100 Race Report

Maah Daah Hey Race Links

2017 Maah Daah Hey Registration

Experience LAND – Info For All MDH Races

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My Monthly Endurance Path Update – April 2015


Welcome to the my April 2015 Endurance Path Update!

I started doing monthly updates last year, but did not follow through.  I am going to start them back up and see if I can refine them enough for it to make sense to keep them going.  As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated.  If there is something specific you would like to see or do not want to see in these monthly updates, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail through my Contact Me page.

My intention is to share quick highlights of any endurance racing, training, nutrition, health and any other fun endurance sport related activities that I experienced this month.


I have never done any road racing before and I decided it was time to give it a try.  Over the past year, I thought I was getting pretty decent on my road bike and I can safely say that I have been humbled.  That being said, I have really enjoyed the road racing and by all means will keep at it.  I intend to try out a time trial during the month of May as well.  I have a lot to learn when it comes to racing with a pack, drafting, conserving energy and climbing hills.

Total Races:  5

Criteriums:  3

Road Races:  2

Spring Fling #5 Criterium – Lawrence, Kansas

Results:  7th out of 20

This was my first race ever on a road bike and was totally unplanned.  I was mountain biking that morning on the Clinton Lake Trail System when I heard some commotion and an announcer.  I want ahead and checked it out to find a criterium race getting under way.  I went back to the camper to fetch my road bike and entered the Cat 5 race that was later in the afternoon.  This was nuts, but I loved it.  A lead pack took off on a break away going into lap 3.  A couple laps later, I was by myself trying to chase them down.  I reeled in a coupe of guys that got dropped from that pack, but was not able to cover the gap.  After this race, I knew I had to keep at it.

Tuesday Night Worlds #1 Criterium – Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Results – 20 out of 56, but no points

Bottom line, I had no idea what I was doing.  This was a Cat 4 / 5 criterium with every 3rd lap being a sprint lap for points.  The final lap counted for the same amount of points as the other sprint laps.  Overall time was tracked as well.  I was basically redlined the entire race and too nervous to get too close in line and basically blew up.

THK (Thoren Heuval Kernesse) Road Race – Avon, Minnesota

Results – 30th out of 46

My first road race.  Again, no idea what I was doing.  I found myself in the front of the pack on a couple sections coming into the halfway point.  This was a bad idea as I got totally dropped when we hit the climb.  I didn’t really see it coming.  I figured I would drift to the back of the pack going up the climb because I was spent and the next thing I knew, I missed the back and couldn’t get back on.  We had dropped part of the pack already, so I didn’t end up last.  I did have a strong finish up the final climb though, to leave with a little bit of confidence and feel good.

Ken Woods Memorial Road Race – Cannon Falls, Minnesota

Results – 24th out of 47

I’m starting to figure it out a bit.  Hung with the lead pack the whole race.  There was a couple minor break aways, but we reeled them back in.  I hammered up the big climb the first lap around and hung with the leaders.  Coming back around to the big climb again at the finish, I couldn’t hang though and ended up dropping to 24th place and over a minute behind the leader all on the final climb.  I am feeling better about things though and just need to work on my power.

Tuesday Night Worlds #3 Criterium – Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Results – 18th out of 46, but no points

This race went much better for me, other than I jumped for a sprint on the wrong lap and completely put myself in a bad position and blew up.  That being said, I was actually able to recover and wasn’t too far off from grabbing some points on the final lap.  I think I could have gotten up there if I would have positioned myself better on the second to last lap.  I got myself stuck in the middle of the pack and could not get out around people.



All races are included in the mileage and session counts.

Total Miles:  236

Mountain Bike:  42.7 miles

Road Bike:  185 miles

Running:  4.3 miles

Hiking:  4 miles

Total Sessions:  20

Mountain Bike:  4

Road Bike:  12

Running:  1

Hiking:  3

I officially removed the training tire off of my road bike before our spring break camping trip the last week of March.  My training now has turned to actual road rides, some trail riding during spring break and road races.  I still haven’t created the best morning habits yet, but try to get a body weight and short work out in before work in the morning that involves squats, push ups, lunges and abs.

That being said, I have ridden twice as many miles this year as I had by this point last year.  Last year, I only had 230 cycling miles in by the end of April and I have over 600 miles in this year.  There are 3 things that have contributed to this:  The first, being the fact that I picked up a Cyclops Jet Fluid Pro Trainer last fall and hammered through Sufferfest videos throughout the winter months.  Secondly, I also purchased a Fat Bike for the winter and was able to get a few trail rides in.  Lastly, I took a 3 day weekend to go mountain biking on the Santos Trail System in Florida with my Dad back in February.


I am still working on fine tuning the nutrition, but I have created what I think are some fairly good habits.  I have a pretty good breakfast routine of 2 to 3 eggs.  I usually get my eggs from a local farmer, but occasionally they run out and I have to get them from the store.  I highly recommend purchasing your eggs from a local farmer vs the grocery store if you can.  You’ll understand as soon as you see the color difference after cracking them in the pan.  They are so much richer in color and taste.  At any rate, I have been adding spinach or broccoli and cauliflower to my eggs on most mornings.  I used to do just eggs, but always felt like I was missing something and decided to add some veggies for some natural carbohydrates.

For lunch in the past, I had been mixing tuna with feta cheese and have now started doing raw vegetables and still adding the tuna on occasion.  I do snack during the day and with my activity up from last year, I seem to be hungry more often.  On most days, I have been adding a muffin in the mid morning and some fruit in the afternoon.

Dinner has usually been a mix of a meat such as chicken, fish or a burger along with organic frozen vegetables from Costco.

Health and Fitness

Weight:  158 lbs

Body Fat:  15.2%

Even though, I haven’t necessarily been feeling my greatest…  The month of April was pretty darn good in comparison to March.  I spent most of the month of March with a cold or sinus infection, which severely limited the amount of training I was able to do.  Not to mention, I had some international travel for work that didn’t help.

I have struggled quite a bit with recovery in the past and this still seems to be the case.  I used to think it was because I was getting older, but I honestly think it is because I tend to push myself past my my level of fitness too often.  I think the road racing is going to be good for me and really help me figure out how manage racing and training.



My kids are 5 and 7 years old and are able to hit some single track with me, so we can do some family rides on light training days.  Sometimes, my wife will ride with them and I’ll break away for my own hot lap and then catch back up with them.  It’s great to have the whole family involved and my kids can’t wait to race.

Website Updates

I have started a resource page to share what I use for all kinds of things related to racing, training, data logging, nutrition, health, trail finding, etc…  You can visit the page with this link: Endurance Path Resources.  Please let me know if you would like to see anything else.  I will continue to make updates as I expand the site.


I had pretty good month when it comes to taking on new challenges.  I would say, I need to pick up the training a bit more if I am going to be competitive.  I tend to struggle with recovery and I am working on figuring that out, whether it be sleep, food or overtraining when I do train.  I hope you found this update useful, whether it be insightful or inspiring.  As I mentioned above, please leave a comment below or or send me an e-mail through my Contact Me page if you have any questions or comments.

If you found this useful and think someone else would benefit from reading and following my blog, please share with you friends through Facebook or Twitter.  Thanks!

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Do Something Epic in 2015


Every year, is your year. You own every second of it and it is your choice how you spend those seconds. Last year, I posted the article “Do Something Epic This Year” that described what Epic really meant and what my Epic plans were for 2014. Many people start their year off with some New Year’s Resolutions. I am not talking about New Year’s Resolutions. I am talking about accomplishing something Epic that you can look back on later in life and see it as a major accomplishment. 20 years from now you will look back and that Epic event as a stepping stone to developing who you have become later in life.

You need to define what Epic is for you. It is different for all of us. We are all at different levels of endurance and have different goals for our endurance levels. I am very much focused on my endurance, but I try to carry this goal setting attitude across everything in my life. Life is a journey and my destination is to be the best that I can be and not waste any of the seconds that God has given me in life. This will require new goal setting and new Epic adventures each year. What was Epic for me last year or the year before is something of the past and no longer Epic for me this year, but rather a stepping stone to what I will accomplish this year and the years to come.

Utah Trip 120

Last year, completing the Lutsen 99er and taking a good chunk of time off of my Chequamegon 40 finish were my Epic events and accomplishments. Outside of racing last year, I also finally went Mountain Biking in Moab, Utah. Moab had been on my bucket list for years. I not only got to ride there myself, but also got to take my family with me. My then 4 year old, road about 9 miles of single track out in Moab during that week. We had a ball and even at his age, he is talking about the next place he can ride and how much farther he will go next time.  My kids were so fired up about biking that they participated in the kids race the day after the Lutsen 99er. They are already building and completing Epic moments in their life.


I have a couple of Epic events planned for this year. First of all, I already signed up to do the Lutsen 99er again and plan to take some significant time off of last years race. I am working this winter to set a good base to build on when spring hits. Secondly, I have registered for the Maah Daah Hey 100, which will no doubt be my big Epic event for 2015. It is 1 month after the Lutsen 99er, which should set me up pretty nice for the Maah Daah Hey 100. I will also race in the Chequamegon 40 again, if I make the lottery. I’ll get a Gate 3 start and make a run at the Gate 1 racers. Again, what was Epic for me last year is turning out as just another stepping stone for what I will accomplish this year.

You have to take everything in steps and control where you are headed in life. Things don’t happen by accident. It is up to you to create the end product of you and what you will become. Don’t set New Year’s Resolutions, set goals, sign up to accomplish something. You will change in the process. I don’t need to set resolutions to lose weight, eat healthy or exercise more. Those things are all bi-products of what is happening in the process of me accomplishing my goals or Epic events for the year. As a result of me accomplishing my goals, I will be in better shape and eating healthier at the end of this year compared to where I am today.

Remember, only a couple of years ago, I just wanted to finish the Chequamegon 40. Now I am talking about chasing down the lead pack. Start with something that will stretch you out a little and build on it every year. This year might be entering a short beginner race to get your feet wet. Not a lot of people are willing to take that step and those are the decisions that you make that set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd in life. Get out there and see what you are made of and build on it. It’s never too late. I read articles all the time about people of all ages jumping into a sport. We all see it when we watch the Kona Iron Man and listen to the stories of people stepping out of their comfort zone to accomplish something they never thought they could do.

In summary, take control of your calendar and define what you will do this year. It will only build on supporting a greater you and what you will become. You can do it. It is just a decision. You need to plan it and commit. What Epic event do you have planned for this year? What are you thinking about doing? I’d like to hear about it.

Read these posts about my 2014 performance in the Lutsen 99er and Chequamegon 40:

My First Lutsen 99er Race Review, Results and Advice


2014 Chequamegon 40 Review and Results


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First Fat Bike Ride – A New Way To Experience Life On A Bike

I was about 100 feet down the trail when I realized I had been missing out on an entirely different mountain biking experience. It was almost 9:00 at night, there were a couple inches of snow on the ground and it was 27 degrees outside. I was the only person on the trail and all I could hear was the sound of my 4.6 inch Ground Control tires rolling over the thin layer of snow. Sure, the bike was great, but it wasn’t the bike that made everything right. It was the feeling of freedom, experienced in a new atmosphere that surrounded the bike that made everything right. This was my first fat bike ride…

first fat bike

I have been nonchalantly looking at fat bikes over the past two years, since moving to Minnesota, but had not gotten serious about it. I was concerned I wouldn’t get my use out of it due to the short winter days and figured the winter was a good break to prevent burnout anyways. After the Chequamegon and the Red Wing Classic, I still was not ready to hang up cycling for the year. As the days shortened I picked up a new trainer and then a set of lights for my first night ride. The “burnout” excuse was no longer valid, I could not get enough of the bike.

It was that first night ride that completely changed my thoughts on getting my first fat bike. I can’t tell you exactly what it is, whether it is the focus on the trail, quietness of nature, or coolness of the night that makes night riding a completely new mountain biking experience. It was on that ride, that I realized I would definitely get my use out of a fat bike and the word “burnout” was not in my cycling dictionary. The fact that I was going to miss the Solstice Chase that was only 40 minutes away, drove me nuts. I ended up picking up my new Specialized Fatboy that same day.

It’s only December and the winters are very long here in Minnesota. I took up cross country skiing toward the end of last year, which I truly enjoyed and will continue to do. That being said, I have grown a passion for bicycles that I cannot explain. Riding the trail in the night added an additional dimension to cycling that I had not experienced before, and until now, I could only imagine what fat biking would be like night or day. Now, I don’t have to imagine.

first fat bike

first fat bike

first fat bike

Woolly Bike Club Trails

EDITED:  Updated with better photos taken during my next ride out and a link to the trail system that I took my first fat bike ride on.

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Why I Ride Bikes

Slickrock Trail

Have you ever thought about why you ride a bike? I haven’t thought about it much until now. But I just go do it every chance I get, which is far less than I’d like to. My problem is, I have a lot of hobbies and things I like to do. So I have to balance my love for cycling with everything else I am in to. But, when I do get on my bike, I like to go fast. I try to go faster than I did the previous time every time I go out. I think it is my way of fighting off getting older. I’m proving that I still got it.

I prefer mountain biking over road cycling, but enjoy both. Whether I am on my road bike or mountain bike, I get to clear my head. I can be in the moment. I don’t care how fast anybody else is and can just ride my ride. I get to shut the rest of the world off and focus on the present.

When I am going fast enough on a mountain bike that I have to hit a corner just perfect to make it through without sliding out of it, dropping down hill through the trees on a narrow section of trail or having to get your body in the perfect position to hammer the pedals to make it up the next hill… You don’t have a lot of time to think about other things. You have to emerse yourself in the moment and are one with your bike and nature. You are free from anything else and getting through the trail as fast as you can is all you have to think about.

When I am pushing my heart rate and putting all of my energy and concentration into an efficient pedal stroke on my road bike… All my concentration goes to the pedal motion, muscles and body posture to lay down another personal record. Again, I am one with my bike and the road and nothing else matters at this time other than kicking my own ass.

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Training While Traveling

I know how it is to travel for work and at the same time, training while traveling.  You spend all day working, meeting people or traveling; then are suppose to meet people again for dinner and then go back to your hotel and catch up on your normal work and answer all of your e-mails.  No one will ever give you a hard time about delaying dinner time or skipping dinner with the team because you have to much work to do, you may even get accolades and people might say how hard of a worker you are.  That being said, you shouldn’t feel bad if you delay or skip dinner to get your work out in while traveling.  Most things in life are just a decision and just like when you were a kid, you can’t let peer pressure dictate the decisions you make in life.  You have to make decisions that are right for you.

There are plenty of ways to get some exercise while on the road.  You may not be able to do your normal routine, but you can certainly get some type of exercise in.  Most hotels, even your general chain hotels, have some sort of exercise equipment.  It may not be that great, but don’t let that be an excuse to not spend 20 minutes on an exercise bike or treadmill.  If there is no treadmill, you can always go for a run outside.  I also have little workout routines that I will do in my my hotel room.  Just a 10 or 15 minute workout will help you keep on track; not to mention work off the bad food you might be eating while on the road.

The point of this article is not to tell you how to exercise while traveling or what to do for training, while traveling.  My point in this article, like many of my articles is to help you understand that it is up to you to make the right decisions for you.  You are the one that can improve your endurance.  You are the one that can get yourself in better shape.  You are the one that can improve your health.  It is up to you to make the decision to exercise while on the road, not skip out on your training while traveling and just make it happen.

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Do Something Epic This Year

This is your year to do something Epic.  We are in January right now and you have an entire year ahead of you.  Do yourself a favor and spend some time in the month of January searching out some endurance events that take place later in the year.  Write down a few that will challenge you a little more than you have challenged yourself in the past.  By the end of February decide which event(s) you are going to do and get yourself signed up as soon as registration opens.  Hang that registration some place that you can see it.

Epic for you may mean something different than what Epic means for me or anyone else.  To me, it is doing something that maybe right now you are not sure you are ready for or able to do yet.  In 2012, for me that was finishing the Insanity 60 day challenge and running a local 5K trail race.  In 2013, it was racing in the Chequamegon 40 and riding in the Copper Country Color Tour.  I may actually ride in the same 2 events this year, but I am scoping out some other events to add to the list.  The point is, you get to define what Epic means for you and then go chase it.  Believe me, you’ll hit a moment in the middle of some event or adventure that you will realize you are having an Epic moment.

I’m still young enough that I hope to improve my speed and distance year over year for the next several years at least.  If you are older, maybe Epic for you is completing something you did 10, 20 or 30 years ago.  Maybe it is just finishing some event.  Maybe Epic for you this year is the same as it was for me in 2012, and that was completing a local 5K race.  If that is what your goal is this year, then you need to search one out and get yourself signed up as soon as you can.  Get ready for it and make the best 5K of your life.  I promise, you will be glad you did and you will redefine Epic for yourself.  Maybe Epic for you isn’t running or cycling at all.  Maybe it is completing a hike you’ve always dreamed of or climbing a mountain.  Go figure out what that is and get it booked.  It is up to you to define your Epic moment of 2014.

What are your Epic plans for 2014?

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2013 Was Another Break Thru Year

Wow, what can I say about the year 2013. I kept the momentum going from my increased fitness and weight loss of 2012, and had another break thru year. To share some background; in 2012 I completed the 60 day Insanity Challenge, dusted off the old mountain bike and road bike, ran my first 5k race since High School and finished the year off with the Les Mills Pump workout. I started 2013 off in the best shape I have been in since college. I should also mention that I accomplished all of that while finding a new job and relocating to Minnesota. I went into 2013 excited to see what else I could accomplish.

I went into 2013 knowing that I wanted to compete in some type of event and maybe ride in the Coper Country Color Tour. I know I still had to finish my relocation, i.e. buy a house and officially get settled here in Minnesota, but I didn’t want to let the move get in the way of my fitness progress. I had come a long way in my fitness in the past few years and had never felt better. I was determined to continue down my endurance path. I went ahead and signed up for the Chequamegon 40 Fat Tire Festival in Cable, WI and the Copper Country Color Tour as soon as registration was open. I will write another article about this later, but getting registered ASAP for these events helped keep my focus.

Having those events out in front of me kept me focused on riding, even though I was still getting adjusted to a new job, looking for a new home and finally moving and settling in to the new house. I probably rode my bike and ran more miles in 2013 than I had in the last 5 years combined. That isn’t necessarily saying a lot, but I learned that I could still push myself. I felt that I could push my body to new limits. I rekindled some racing spirit by completing the Chequamegon 40. I finally road the 200k loop of the Copper Country Color Tour, and even pedaled up Brockway Mountain Drive in the process.

Was 2013 a break thru year for you? What did you accomplish this past year? Even if it wasn’t a break thru year for you, maybe there was one thing that you accomplished this year that was new to you. It doesn’t have to be a race or big tour. It could have been a new distance or trail that you covered. Please share in the comments below what your big break thru or accomplishment was for 2013 and help motivate the other readers.

I’m excited for what 2014 will bring and the progress that I can make as an endurance athlete. I should use the phrase endurance athlete loosely when referencing myself, but it is the path I am headed down and the frame of mind that I am in. I started this website to help me track my progress, keep me accountable and motivate and share my experience with others. I’m not sure what this website will lead to, but I hope you are motivated and return.

break thru year