My name is Nick, I am a Wisconsin dad who loves all things fitness, diving, and food! Persistent Resilience is a log of the fun and craziness that is my life. I am passionate about running, I love to see how far I can push myself, and my favorite runs are off-road. Currently I am trying to add to my ultra-marathon experience. If you have any questions about how/why I run or eat the way that I do please do not hesitate to contact me by leaving a comment, via facebook, or by email at Thanks for Visiting

24 May 2013

“You Run To Find Quiet” –2013 Ice Age Trail 50 Mile Race Report

“You Run To Find Quiet” – Ice Age Trail 50 Mile Race Report

“Daddy I know why you run for so long in the woods!”  This was how my daughter started a facetime conversation with me while I was in NJ, the morning before the race.  I asked her why and she responded; “When you run in nature your heart is talking to God.”  I was shocked, as I usually am, by the crystal clarity my daughter’s statements can provide during hectic times.  The days leading up to the Ice Age Trail 50 Mile race had been truly hectic.  I believe that racing ultra-distance events prepares you for the challenges of life, and I was about to fully test this theory.
It started three weeks earlier when I raced the Mad City 50K.  I had a great race but had really punished my legs.  I have never raced 2 ultras so close together before so I was entering uncharted territory.  Then a week before the race my boss called to ask if I was busy the following week, race week.  I told him my birthday was on Wednesday and Saturday I was racing 50 miles.  His response was, “good you are free Thursday and Friday, we need you in NJ.”  Finally the winter in WI had been exceptionally brutal and had not really dissipated until the prior 2 weeks.  This meant that I had zero race specific training for a hilly, trail, 50 mile race.  As I was flying home Friday evening the guy next to me asked if I had plans for the weekend, after telling of the race he commented that I seemed really relaxed for someone about to run 50 miles. I was, deep down I needed this race, the trails, the challenge, and the quiet of nature so my heart could talk to God!  Well, let the challenge begin, it was time to find my quiet.
Racing the Mad City 50K had left my legs tired, but I was pretty sure they had recovered enough to finish and possibly race the 50 miles.  Keeping this in mind I lined up in the middle of the crowd, and decided to take the first 9 mile loop extremely easy.  I say crowd because there were over 400 starters for the 50 Mile race.  Due to my starting position as well as the slower beginning pace (11-12 min miles) I got to run with some incredible individuals.  One such gentleman was Mike Price from Salt Lake City, UT.  Mike is 62, started running ultras in the early 80’s, and has run almost all of them (over 200).  Clicking off early miles with him involved an awesome game of name that race.  I named them, he told me how many times he finished, DNF’d, or DNS’d, and how to train for them.  This was awesome and the early 9 mile loop flew by.  As I came into the aid station (mile 9) I decided my legs felt good so I would gradually pick up the pace.  I made the decision here that I would not be passed by ANYONE in this race, I would only pass people.   I normally run ultras on water and gels, well I surveyed the aid table and there were no gels.  The volunteer apologized, I smiled, thanked them for everything, and told them; “No worries, you guys are awesome, time to run my first ultra on ginger ale.”
The next 14 or so miles down to Rice Lake (mile22) went pretty smoothly.  I took the technical sections closer to the lake pretty easy, especially the climbing.  I had mentally prepared for this eventuality as I had zero specific trail hill training for this race due to the disaster that was the WI winter.  I power hiked most of the hills, where I ran them last year.  (A great article regarding specific race training and it effects is Zach Bitter’s (3rd place).)  A holdover benefit I received from my speed training for Mad City, similar to Zach’s, was my enhanced ability to descend the technical trails.  My descending, normally strength, was enhanced by the speed work which increased my foot turn over allowing me to “fall” down the hill more efficiently.  I had slowly picked up the pace, and by the turn at mile 22 was running pretty quick.  I was really feeling connected with the trail and my surroundings and was about to have even more time to acquaint with them.
I had been waiting for some deep hidden fatigue in my legs to slow me.  It was a driving rain/hail storm that got to me first.  Luckily I had kept my arm sleeves on and rolled them back up, right on hypothermia averted!  Then right after leaving the mile 26 aid some deep fatigue in my left quad, a hold-over from Mad City made itself known.  While descending a small hill I felt a small hot bomb explode inside my quad, ending my ability to descend quickly.  What I found truly amazing was that when this happened instead of causing my mood to sour, I suddenly began to enjoy the trail even more.  I ran mostly alone, other than passing people, till the next turn at mile 40.  During this time I reflected on just how lucky I am to be able to run in such a beautiful environment, and how truly blessed I am to have the ability to enjoy it in a manner that, as my daughter told me, allowed my heart to talk to God!  I was finding my quiet.  I was keeping good on my plan to only pass people and not be passed.  Filling my bottles shirtless, in 50 degree temps, and with 10 miles to run I had huge grin on my face that really fired up some of the volunteers.  I was suddenly ready to run hard.  I left and let my body float down the trail.
The final 10 miles to the finish were some of the most exhilarating miles I have ever run.  My quad had either gone numb due to effort, or my mind had shut the pain out, and suddenly my ability to descend returned.  I took full advantage of this and my euphoric mood to push the pace to the finish.  I ran truly feeling the trail, becoming one with my environment.  I ran hard.  I ran fast.  I danced down the descents like a child running to a playground.  I ran because I needed to, I had found my quiet on the trail.  I cannot really explain why I felt so at peace 7+ hours into a run, but 50 miles suddenly didn’t seem long enough.  During some of the flatter sections I glanced down at my watch to see that I was holding 7 min pace, and on a few of the descents had dipped into the 5 min range.  This fast running allowed me to finish the race in 53rd place.  I was never passed the entire race!
I crossed the finish smiling.  I was truly happy; not to be done, not because I had achieved some great race result or time, Just Happy!  I had found my quiet, my heart truly had its chance speak with God, and my body had a chance to be rejuvenated by nature.  I am truly thankful to Jeff Mallach, the RD, and his exceptional crew of volunteers form making the 2013 a great race, and great experience.  Thank you also to my family who supports my desire to push my body and discover just how far I can go!  Thank you also to my sponsors; Performance Running Outfitters and VESPA, your gear, support, and advice make racing and self discovery so much fun! As a side note now that my mind thinks 50 mile/ 6-8 hour runs are business as usual, it may be time to increase distance and stretch to a new challenge!
Finding my quiet, heart talking to God! Photo by Ali Engin
Race Gear & Nutrition
1 VESPA Concentrate
1 multi vitamin, fish oil, vit D
4 Capra Flex
3 Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter packets
1 Green Tea w 1 TBSP of coconut oil
48oz coconut water
1 VESPA Concentrate
3 Gels
Ginger Ale
Coke (Final 10 Miles)
7 S-Cap salt tabs
Post Race
Guinness and good food!!!!
8 Capra Flex
1 multi-vitamin & fish oil
The North Face - Better than Naked shorts, & arm sleeves - Performance Running Outfitters (PRO)
Hoka One One Bondi 2B - 
Ultimate Direction - uno waist pack (1st 25 miles) & hand held (final 25 miles) - PRO
Drymax - Trail runner socks - PRO
Salmon S-Lab Hydro Set (2 8oz flasks) - PRO

20 May 2013

Hand Held Hydration Evolved - 2013 Salomon Sense S Lab Hydro Set Gear Review

Hand Held Hydration Evolved - 2013 Salomon Sense S Lab Hydro Set Gear Review

What comes in box 2 gloves & 1 8oz flask
 I was recently given a new Salomon Sense S Lab Hydro Set to demo by Performance Running Outfitters, one of my sponsors.  Like most ultra-runners carrying fluid on long runs or during races has always been a bit of a challenge for me.  I tend to go for as minimal an approach as possible when it comes to race day gear.  Other than really long self-supported efforts, or races with mandatory kit I avoid packs.  I have one, an Ultimate Direction Signature Series AK, and it has only been worn a few times.  I usually use either a single hand held or a single or double bottle waist pack.  The waist packs are ok but become annoying, and can restrict you stomach.  The single hand held bottle is acceptable however it becomes very fatiguing to carry one for 50+ miles. In the past I have just accepted this as the way things have to be.  Well Salomon decided that hand held hydration needed a new way to be!

In keeping with Salomon’s continued athlete inspired product innovation they partnered with Hydrapack, to create an entirely new hand held hydration system.  The system is based on Hydrapak’s soft flask technology and an integral glove designed by Salomon to hold the soft flask. This collaboration between Salomon and Hydrapak has produced a comfortable, highly functional hand-held hydration solution that has truly changed the way I comfortably carry fluids.

The design of the system is simple; it utilizes a pair of gloves that slip over the fingers and thumb and nestles into the palm of the hand. The palm side of the glove is comprised of a highly breathable mesh palm fabric area and two elastic bands. The elastic bands hold the soft flask in place while running (see image 1 below). To secure the flask a small adjustable elastic loop is provided. This is intended to loop around the base of the nipple of the flask to keep it upright and in place to facilitate easy consumption of liquids.  The backside of the glove has a nice terrycloth fabric area for wiping sweat from your brow (see image 2 below).  I found the glove to be very comfortable and it breaths well.  The freedom that the gloves provides your thumb and fingers is great for scrambling, power (euro) hiking, or completing tasks (opening gels). The gloves come in three sizes, which are measured at the circumference of the palm across the knuckles.

S: 6.75 - 7.25 in.
M: 7.25 - 7.75 in.
L: 7.75 - 8.25 in.

Image 1
Image 2

The soft flasks are easily inserted underneath the elastic bands and quickly adjusted  to exactly where you would like the flask to reside for running. The flasks are easily manipulated because your fingers and thumbs are free due to the design of the glove. Shown below is an image of the 247 ml (8oz) flask in place. The flasks are surprisingly secure, feel quite comfortable, and have a soft, form-fitting feel.  Salomon is releasing three sizes of soft flask, a 5oz, 8oz, and a 17oz.  The bladder is PVC and BPA free.  The bladder has a bite valve on top and it functions by biting it and squeezing the flask.  This design eliminates the need for pulling up a valve on the run and trying to close it again. 
Flask in place while running

Some may be concerned with the limited capacity of two 8oz flasks, for runs/races were aid is more than 10 miles/1.5 hours.  I have found however that this volume of fluid is more than adequate for that distance and beyond.  As an aside I do not consume a lot of water when running unless it is brutally hot.  Refilling the flasks is much easier than I expected with the smaller opening.  The only drawback is that adding ice to the drink is almost impossible.  That being said you can always freeze multiple flasks (if you have them).  The benefit of this reveals itself during hot runs as the miniature ice blocks will also cool your core temperature as they rest against your wrist (radial) arteries.   A side benefit is that as the flask empties it collapses in on itself, so you can stick it in your short pocket when done!

I ran with both the 8oz and 17oz flasks during a recent 50 mile race.  The 8oz flasks worked great especially one on each hand.  The 17oz while allowing for greater fluid carrying capacity, tended to flop around as it drained, making it extremely annoying.  It is my suggestion that if you plan to use the gloves in a race/run situation that you stick with the 8oz flasks.

The price of the S Lab Hydro Set is $60 from Salomon, with individual flasks priced around $20.  This is not uncommon for Salomon gear.  You can find the glove set for around $40 if you look.  I believe that the comfort and function of this system is truly worth the price, and I would highly recommend it.

DISCLAIMER - I was given the Hydro Set from a sponsor to review.  The opinions in this review are mine and mine alone.  Neither the sponsor nor Salomon were promised a favorable review.

08 May 2013

Day of Challenge - 2013 Mad City 50K Race Recap

Mad City 50K & 100K

It is just running everyone can do it, some are fast and others slow.  But there are a select few that can really embrace the suffering required to run for a long time.  One of the reasons I love ultra-running is that it is a challenge.  Most often the challenge is 90% mental and 10% physical.  This mental challenge, the willingness to suffer to persevere, is one of the reasons I went from racing 5 miles to 50 miles.  The other reason was my love for and need to connect with nature.  Well with that in mind I decided to step, way, outside my comfort zone and attempt to race an early spring road ultra, the Mad City 50K.  For me this would mean running at an extremely uncomfortable pace, for a long time, in circles, on pavement, fully clothed, and in some really cold weather.
The Mad City course for both the 100K (USATF National Championships) and the 50K is the same.  A 10K loop around Lake Wingra in Madison, WI.  This is a faster course with the men’s 50K CR a stout 3:03 (Zach Bitter) and the 100K 6:56 (Michael Wardian).  Do not let the times or the fact that it is pavement fool you; each loop has an elevation gain close to 1200ft.  That is right around 6k of vertical gain for the 50K and 12K for the 100K, not too shabby for a fast “flat” WI course.  The RD Tim “Timo” Yanacheck creates an environment befitting a National Championship race.  There are two aid stations; one at the start/finish and another right before the 4 mile mark.  Timo’s dedication to the race and its participants allows the runners to focus solely on running.
The course on a warmer day!
Focus is indeed what I should have been doing right before the start of the 50K.  After jogging to warm up I ran into Eric Senseman, the eventual 50K winner, and we began to catch up.  Well the next thing I heard was someone stating that they called 30 seconds to the start of the race.  So as I ran to drop my sweatshirt the race started.  My first thought was, “What the hell, how do you miss the start of a race you showed up an hour early for!”  Followed closely by, “Oh well I have 31 miles to catch everyone.”  Well it is just another challenge, right?  The 10K loop rolls out pretty quickly around the lake to right around mile 2ish where the first bigger hill is.  This hill is runnable, as they all are, but taking them too fast early on will really fatigue your legs.   From there the path follows the lake past the University’s arboretum and up the other large hill near mile 4 right before the 2nd aid station.  From this aid station you run downhill following the lake to zoo.  From there you have a quick flat shot to the start/finish to start your next loop.

Rokcing the VESPA & shades in the cold! (photo by Mary Gorski)

It is sometimes tough to remember that this is an ultra when you are running 10K loops, since you can so easily wrap your mind around that distance.   I was taught this lesson at mile 29 right as I passed the backside aid station for the last time, when my left hamstring seized due to fatigue, now that’s a challenge!  Up until that point all of my miles had been consistently in the 6:40-7:00 range.  Well not mile 29 that was near 17:00, but what can you do when you can’t really walk, but wait for the cramp to relax.  As soon as that happened I pushed back into the 7:00 range and finished the race for a total time of 3:51:38 and a 7th overall.  “Timo” put on a fabulous race, and really made running on pavement in 28 degree, windy, weather enjoyable.  I would highly recommend the 50K as a spring tune up race to prepare for an Ultra summer. 
Speaking of making you feel awesome, my friends who run shorter distance races always ask me what kind of swag (gifts) you get for running “crazy” ultras.  Well Timo and his fabulous sponsors do not disappoint, the bag I received at check in was jam packed.  Plus there was a huge bonus!  I was a little fatigued after the race so I was not quite sure what the giant box I received along with my medal and plaque contained.  Well it was a giant box of dark and milk chocolate truffles, 60 of them, NOW that’s SWAG!  I love chocolate so I had my final challenge for the day, for this one I would need to enlist the help of my two little girls though!
Mad City BLING!

50K         3:51:38 (PR)          7th Overall
Thank you to my sponsors

(3 hours pre-race)
3 Packets Justin’s Chocolate Almond Butter
1 Green Tea with Coconut oil added
1 VESPA ultra-concentrate
Multi vitamin, fish oil, 4 Capra-Flex
3 VESPA junior’s
1-20oz Chocolate Coconut Water with 3 TBSP of honey
2-20oz (Mexican) Coke-Cola
Salmon, avocado, sweat potato, & kale salad
Multi vitamin, 4 Capra-Flex
1 AWESOME Hard Cider!
Hoka One One Bondi B2 -
Too Much warm gear to list - Performance Running Outfitters