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40 for 40

“The cells needs to learn how to get there.” ~Vinnie Tortorich

“When you think that you are done, you’re only 40% into what your body is capable of doing. And that’s just the limits we put on ourselves.” ~David Goggins


So here I was. Approaching 40. I had a planned another ultra distance run for the summer of 2013. I had drafted a training plan at some point, but in the end life, work, and family proved how any well-thought out plan is simply that, a plan or a guide. Plans change. The goal didn’t.  I was fine with it all. I used to freak out if I missed a specific planned long run like when I trained for my first (and only) marathon. Back then the thought of the 26.2 distance scared the crap out of me.

There is something special about the solo mission or the solo run. The beauty of the solo run to me is flexibility with the training schedule. Basically, I had no training schedule. I ran when I was able to run. You get what you can get. For the big run, this time around it came down to either a Saturday or Sunday run. It depended on what the family needs were around the run. The run day’s weather kind of mattered, but I had no control of it. I would either have a hot day or a slightly less hot day. You definitely have to be able to operate without the adrenaline rush of a huge paid event. No medals or shirts. Simply run for enjoyment and the time on the path.

Months had gone by from the drafting of a training schedule and I blew past its estimated written run date. After that point I never really locked down on the actual run date, but I was pressed.  Ideally I’d put in a few more “long” runs to build up. All I had done were 1-1.5 hr Z2 runs during work lunch breaks. Plus, I would have to get the run done while my lovely and pregnant wife capable of driving from city to city meeting me at specific areas along the run. I never really locked down a run date. Life did it for me and I realized it 1-2 weeks before the run. I know. That’s plenty of time to up my miles and taper. 🙂 I wasn’t worried. My confidence was high and my body wasn’t beaten up from over-training.

What: 40 mile solo run.

When: Aug 31, 2013. After turning 40 yrs old.

Why: A cool challenge to do 40 miles for turning 40. Heard a guy do it the year before and it stuck to me as a goal. Seemed like a totally do-able goal. Just do a 50k and add 8 more miles to challenge myself. Plus a bonus of seeing what I’m capable of on an fat-adapted NSNG approach.

Another reason to do it is to celebrate my youth at 40.

Where: From home and head north along the Iron Horse Trail several cities up and back.

Who: Me, and crew of my 7 months pregnant wife and 5 yr old son.

How: Trained whenever I could. Had set a training plan based on a 50k training schedule, but it never panned out. So got what I could get as far as run days, which usually ended up being 1-1.5 hr lunch runs 1,2, sometimes 3 times a week and no real long weekend run. The longest training run was maybe 12 miles.

I figured my body and mind knows how to get to 32 miles already. Or as Vinnie Tortorich would say my “cells need to learn how to get there”. The real run would happen after mile 32.

Body and nutrition: Trained to be fat-adapted for about a year. Eleven pounds lighter than the year before.

What I carried:

  • 1- 24 oz mixture (plain Generation UCAN, 1 tsp coconut oil, 1 tsp Jarrow plain whey protein, water, and ice)
  • 1 snack zip bag of raw almonds
  • 70 oz water in a Nathan’s Hydrapak
  • 1 package of fruit flavored TicTacs
  • Salt Sticks in a Nuun bottle.

What was waiting for me in a cooler and van:

  • 1- 24 oz mixture (plain Generation UCAN, 1 tsp coconut oil, 1 tsp Jarrow plain whey protein, water, and ice).
  • Jar of almond stuffed Spanish olives (Safeway brand).
  • 4 frozen plastic bottles of water.
  • 1 gallon bottle of water.

Fueling strategy and what was actually consumed:

The strategy was to use fat and UCAN and to consume them when I felt I needed the energy. I would only drink water when I felt thirsty. I would take in salt sticks if it got too hot or if I found myself taking in a lot of fluid. A tic-tac as an experiment it case I was really in a funk and needed some sort of sugar to trickle.

Here’s what actually went down:

  • Coffee with heavy cream (pre-run/breakfast).
  • 36 oz of Generation UCAN mixture.
  • 25-30 raw almonds.
  • 6 almond stuffed Spanish olives.
  • Salt sticks.
  • 1 orange flavored tic tac pill.
  • 70-100 oz water.
  • Half a short Starbucks black coffee (4 oz) after mile 33.

Comparison to a sugar strategy,for this distance would have been consisting of gels and sports-drink of about:

  • Bagel with peanut butter
  • 15 Hammer Gels
  • 118 oz of Heed

40 miler notes:

At 7.83 miles Danville
Miles to six almonds.

At mile 8. Warmed up and ready for a 50k.

In 10.2 miles and I’ve only had almonds and one sip of UCAN mix..

11.09 miles I’m feeling a little high.

Mile 14 I took the seconds sip of you can.

Watch my footing at mile 14.16 almost tripped.

Mile 15.2 after two salt sticks.

Mile 16.78 near the got swiped by a cyclist zipping by my left from the rear.

Mile 17.5 met up with the family and had to Olive’s with almonds.

Mile 19 I got to Treat Boulevard bridge and I took my third swig of Ucan.

At mile 20 took another swig of UCAN mixture.

Mile 20.5 I had UCAN mixture.

Mile 25.67 miles stumbled and nearly fell.

Tried trickle sugar (1 tic tac) 32.7 miles.

Mile 33 GPS watch died. Slipped into an aid station Starbucks.

After Starbucks, switched to iPhone GPS. Switched on some tunes.

Met up with family at Central Park.

Sore outside my left foot at the base of my small toe noticed sometime after mile 30 and general sore feet. No blisters. No black toenail. Did develop some forehead acne from the heat, sweat, and visor.

1 and 2 days post run felt a little sore in the morning in the legs, but usual loosened up as the morning carried on an I got coffee in me. Generally felt healthy and fine.

I started and ended the run at 144lbs.
I noticed after a week, I was down 5 lbs in weight. Not sure why. Perhaps it took a week to reduce any sort of inflammation in my body and release any excess fluid it may have kept?

Thoughts & what I’ve learned:
Felt this run was not that big of an accomplishment as I thought. It could be I only feel this way because it was not a battle with my nutrition or body. My body held up and if it weren’t for being fat adapted I would have come apart.

If I was able to switch shoes after mile 30 or at least loosened up the lacing a bit , my feet would not have hurt as much towards the end.

Despite my sore feet, I  felt I finished stronger .


Thanks to following supporters and inspirations.

  • My crew: wife and son (Zee & Kaleo)
  • My trainer and friend: Vinnie

Podcasts and Facebook groups:

  • America’s Angriest Trainer Podcast
  • Vinnie Tortorich’s No Sugars No Grains Facebook group
  • Endurance Planet Podcast: Ask the Ultrarunner, Ask the Coaches, & Sports Nutrition