Monday, January 9, 2017

Mark's Introduction to WashMO Running

By: Mark Jacobs

This journey of mine actually began the 1st day of Lent in 2016. I'm not Catholic, I’m Lutheran, but I’ve always liked the idea of giving something up for Lent "for God". This year I decided to turn that around: do something for God. I promised to do some form of exercise every day of Lent. I shared this idea with my wonderful friend Sherri Mundwiller, with whom I have shared every step of my success, that poor woman had to put up with all my questions and chatter all year.  She was the only person I felt I could talk with about the little improvements.  Others wouldn’t understand what I was trying to do, but I felt that it meant something to Sherri.  She knew any improvement I made I would share with her because it was important to me...and no matter how insignificant it might be she would continue to show excitement and encourage me.  She has my undying gratitude for that. Being a very successful runner herself she had previously shared her story with me, which in turn inspired me to begin thinking of this as my own journey.  
The first day of lent I started walking: I walked to the gas station if I needed something instead of driving; I walked to church for Sunday service and for Lent service on Wednesday. Sometimes I’d just work out with some dumbbells.  When we had snow, I would ride my bike that I keep hooked up to my indoor trainer.  I'd had it a long time but rarely used it till then.
In April, after Lent, I was feeling proud of myself and liking the walking I’d been doing, but wishing with all my heart I could run.  I was a little scared to try.  My family has a history of heart problems. I was still way over weight and easily short of breath from any exertion.  I was at about 265 lbs with a size 40 " waist…I hated any picture I was in. The most recent of pictures at that time completely disgusted me. I’ll be honest, I was really pissed at myself for ignoring my fitness for so long, for allowing myself get so far out of shape. 
I decided then and there "no more”!  It was like a lightning bolt…I wasn’t having it.  That moment of decision was when my determination took hold.  I started on Third Street, destination Hwy 47 and back. Walking at first.  After a couple days I just wanted to see IF I could run.  So, with a small jog down the first hill and walking up the next, I began my running. Not too bad, felt pretty good; I continued like that all the way to 47. By the end of the first week I was running down hill and walking up...both directions. 
I was feeling confident about myself but knew I wasn’t ready to run up hill yet. So I decided to move my running to the trail because it was flat.  My first goal was to run to the bridge without stopping and after about a week and a half I was able to go one direction without stopping to catch my breath ...and after about another week I was able to go both ways.  This was really happening.  My improvements were becoming obvious!
I was so happy with that I went straight to the gas station to tell Sherri. She was very happy for me and suggested I enter the Rivertown 5k Race. I thought about that a couple days then told Sherri, “Why not?”.  She set me up to meet with Julie Hook. Julie is another wonderful runner and part of our community.  I talked to her for a while and signed up for the race. Before I left she mentioned to me about the Daily Run Club.
I was down to about 250 by this time. I felt like my work was starting to pay off. I had decided since “the day my determination took over" that I wanted to get down to 200 by 4th of July.  That was a pretty lofty goal. I figured if I belonged to a club that ran daily it would make me want to run every day like the name said. In order to lose 50 lbs, I knew I’d have to run every day and doing so would help me keep it off. I had no illusions of fast or long running. I wasn’t going to win a bunch of medals.  But if I was going to run everyday, I might as well have fun doing it, and I didn’t need to run all the time alone.
I was running consistently from Market to Main St and back so approximately 2.2 miles non-stop and I was feeling ready to introduce myself and find some others to run with.  My breathing was continuing to improve. I wasn’t fast, but I was steady.  I knew I would be able to finish the Rivertown 5k race though I would have to walk some of it.
May 14 2016. Big day my first race. I was early.  It was cold. It was windy.  Julie was there, I  went over and said my good morning, then Sherri arrived to run the half marathon. I promised to wait for her to finish her race after my race.  Sherri introduced me to Ximena. I was start struck, this was another passionate and accomplished runner in our community. I was so embarrassed by my appearance and she was styling as always.  My run gear just made me laugh in comparison.  But she was just so nice and full of encouragement, really a one of a kind type of person and I mean that in the best possible way. She doesn’t know how grateful I was that day for her kindness.

It was an ugly race for me, my finishing time was 45:47. But I was out there and I finished and earned my first finisher medal.  I made sure to get a picture with Sherri and Julie and Ximena, three very influential people for me in running.  Those three were there for the first race I ever run along this new running path.  They’ll always be in my thoughts for that.
Now this was not the first time in my life that I have run.  I am a retired Marine and yes I ran 3 mile drills thousands and thousands of times.  Often we would run 5 miles, but rarely further than that.  I ran two 10ks while in the military...but I wasn’t a distance runner.  3 miles, sure, but long distance?  …no way, it'd take me a week to recover.  Soon after I retired, work started to interfere with fitness.  I joined a gym for the treadmill, but time became an issue; I bought my own treadmill to save on membership fees.  Running turned into walking and soon the machine was just gathering dust.  I was working 10 -12 hr days and would accept any excuse to not exercise. What a fool I was when I think back now.  I had let the gift of running get away without ever having truly embraced it.

After the Rivertown Race I discovered the next race coming up would be the Beer Rrun put on by the Landing.  I won’t bore you with more details, but at the finish line I again got a picture with Ximena.  In fact, she’s been nice enough to get a picture with me every race this year if she was there.

At this point I still wasn’t part of DRC.  I asked Julie about it and she added me immediately. It was very humbling when I first joined…I was a newbie and the club was filled with so many exceptional runners.  Since joining, every single person I’ve met have been the nicest of people...I feel like I finally found out where the nice people in the world had been hiding…they’re all here in one place that’s why I couldn’t find them!
Since that first race and joining DRC, 2016 has been a blur!  I've run twelve 5ks,  one 10k, dropped 80 lbs and went from size 40 pants to size 34, I’ve run from the bank by Subway to Hwy T and back nonstop for 14 miles...just a little over 3 hrs, also have done 20 laps around Lion’s Lake for 14 miles, I have 3 finisher medals and 4 placement medals. And….13 race t-shirts!
In 2017, I’ll start the year with a race at Six Flags and I have my first half marathon on April 1st.  I’ll run my first timed race, a 12-hour in hopes of obtaining my first ultra distance on April 29.  I also signed up for the 2017 1000-mile challenge so I expect to be increasing my mileage and trying new things in this new year.  I’ve logged a little over 650 miles since I started keeping track during the last week of June.

I couldn’t have accomplished any of that without my magnificent friends in the run club headed by John Cash and Meghan.  Everyone encourages each other and if I need to ask questions to become a better runner there’s no better local pool of knowledge to draw from.  I’ve been in the club a while now and though I still feel humbled around these great runners /people...I feel accepted. I’m not married,  I don’t have me my friends are my family...

I put in the time, running is no longer work for me now, it’s fun.  I no longer avoid running, I cherish every moment.  It took a lot of work to get to where I am.  Blood and sweat (uneven sidewalks - oh yeah, I have crashed) and somehow, to my own amazement, I am now a distance runner.  How did that come to be??  I have to thank the influence of such amazing individuals in my running community.  I could give a very long list of names here ...but it all started with Sherri.  Thank you Sherri, Julie and Ximena and thanks to all those in the club.  You saved my life.  I will continue to strive to be a better runner, for myself and for my club.  My journey isn’t over.  Lots to do yet......RUN ON DRC!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Road to Castlerock

By:  John Cash

Like a lot of you, last March I watched the documentary The Barkley Marathons.  I was inspired. Within minutes of the credits, I was logged onto Ultra Signup registering for a race that I had been interested in running for more than 2 years.   As I confirmed my spot on the Vol State Race page, terror set in.  A 500 K on the roads of TN directed by a character known almost exclusively for always difficult, often misleading and hard as shit races.

Recently, I have made some great but difficult changes in my life.  That was how I viewed Vol State, great but difficult.  I have no previous multi-day race experience and 24 hour races have yet to go seamlessly.  Honestly, I didn’t know that much about the race.  I had the John Price book.  I knew the course hit several states.  I knew there was climbing.  What knowledge I had was fuzzy having been pushed out of the way to focus on 24 Hour Races and Marathon Training.  I assumed there would be plenty of time to research before July.  

Aside from scouring race reports in my “free time” at work, my concentration was pulled to other things, life, kids, a move, starting a business…mountain biking.  It was the weekend before and I had not driven the course, half my crew had to bail and basically I just had a drape hat, some arm sleeves and some printed copies of maps.  My training still felt focused on 24 Hour Racing and Vol State was basically going to get jammed in there.  

I got lucky by reaching out and finding a close friend, John Schupp, who was available to come out and help Meghan, my girl friend, in crewing me.  My daughter, Megan, I know…that can be confusing or make things easier…returned home from a trip to Florida early and she was really interested in joining us for the adventure, as well.  In the days before, we began recruiting more interest from friends that offered to stop in along the route and ended up being met by Shari Munier and Greg Wells in the second day.  I can’t believe these people were all willing to travel such a distance, to travel a larger distance, just to help me fulfill an obligation made on an inspiration.  I wanted very badly not to let them down.

I know every one of them had special experiences traveling the Vol State course.  It seems every time I met up with them they had a story to share and an overwhelming report that family, friends, the club and even people I have never met were actually following the race and interested in this crazy thing I was participating in.  It was very motivational learning how many people were remotely along for the adventure with us.  

I have only ever written one race report and it was pretty terrible.  My reason for writing this down is to first, thank all those people that sent a message, kept in touch, thought about the race…maybe even got a little inspired themselves.  Secondly, there are a few things that I wish I had known before attempting a multi day and while they are fresh, I want to remember them.

So, thank you guys.  I am reading over all the posts, comments and looking at some great pictures.  Recently I have been forgetting my race experiences shortly after they are done.  What I can’t feel from Vol State in a week will still be there in my thoughts thanks to so much interest and involvement from the people of my community.  I say thank you only because I don’t know how to better express my gratitude to so many.  Thank you everyone.

Other things I will have to try to remember if I ever multi day again:  
Eat the right way: Heavy fatty meals for slow burn, small carb calorie boosts until hunger 
Stay dry: Especially your shoes, change them, change socks, tape feet, avoid wet shoes at all costs  (additionally, watch water in other areas and be liberal with the lube)
Sleep enough: You need to hit REM sleep but not much more than that to feel awake.  A half hour won’t cut it.  1.5-1.75 hours is good enough without jeopardizing run time

It has amazed me how an after thought documentary inspired me to commit to something so great and difficult on nothing much more than a belief that I could do it.  Maybe not do it well, but as long as I could walk, I knew would get to Castlerock.  Ok, I didn’t foresee walking being such a burden in my planning, but like I said, that is part of the reason I am typing this up.  What I have found even more amazing is the actual reach of this experience.  I didn’t think anyone would care about this race or how I was handling it. I found though, that this experience wasn't just mine.  My crew, Meghan and my daughter each appreciated aspects unique to them.  All of the people that said tracking the race led to inspiration for them really made me think about the race differently.  All I can say is that I am grateful that I was inspired, I am grateful that such a crazy opportunity exists and I am grateful to have felt such support from all over.  I hope any one that felt inspired by the race finds their own Vol State and goes for it. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Check This Out: Nutrition Stop

I recently had the opportunity to chat with DRC fast-packer and runner Rick Kwiatkowski  about Nutrition Stop (click here for their Facebook page), where he works in St. Peters, MO. Get to know more about Rick and Nutrition Stop in this interview, then make sure to head over to St. Peters sometime to check it out!

Daily Run Blog (DRB): How do you pronounce your last name? Sorry to ask a question I'm sure you hear ALL the time, but I'm curious!

Kwiatkowski: Qua-Tow-Ski. It really is Kvee-At-Kov-Ski. Kwiat means "flower" in Polish and Kowski means "person". That was probably too much info.

DRB: Nah that’s not too much info. How long have you been working at Nutrition Stop (NS)? What has kept you there?

Kwiatkowski: I am terrible with time frames, I have been there for over 15 years. I moved to Texas [for] a while and worked for two different corporate nutrition stores. The reason I have stayed is how Mom and Pop shops do business. We sincerely try and help people. There are no push products and we do not work on commission.

DRB: What corporate nutrition stores did you work for?

Kwiatkowski: I worked for Vitamin World and GNC. I managed stores for both companies.

DRB: What differences do you see between these corporate stores versus NS?

Kwiatkowski: A lot of corporate owned and operated stores have push products and use a system that offers commission on certain products. I know how a lot of stores work and unfortunately I feel it interferes with the idea of truly helping someone get what they really need.

DRB: Both of the stores you previously worked at are supplement-specific. What kind of products do you carry at NS?

Kwiatkowski: We carry produce (all of it is certified organic), groceries, natural cosmetics, supplements, and bulk items.

DRB: Oh dang, now I really want to check it out! Do you have any favorite products? (I admit, I assumed it was mainly supplements!)

Kwiatkowski: We get our meat from local farmers. One product I eat almost every day is Missouri Bison. I also eat the Best Bar Ever nearly everyday as well. They are fresh made to order bars we have in the refrigerator(no preservatives).

DRB: I'm assuming the Best Bar Ever is local, then? Are a lot of the grocery items local?

Kwiatkowski: We try to get as much local as possible (Best Bar Ever is not local, but is always fresh). I live downtown so I am able to pick up some of our orders directly from the facilities downtown. I get to see how and where the items are made and deal directly with the people who make them.

DRB: Those relationships must be invaluable! Have you or Nutrition Stop been able to grow your local food stock because of those direct dealings?

Kwiatkowski: Yes. I also make it a point to go to local farmers markets and Best of Missouri Market (held yearly at the Botanical Gardens). 

DRB: I’m sure that’s a great event! Do you do any of the ordering or selecting of products? If so, what do you look for?

Kwiatkowski: Yes. The market has changed so much in the past decade with internet and big box stores getting into the market. We, of course, look at quality of product and integrity of the company. But now we have to see who is carrying these companies and if they are selling them at fair prices. Some products are being sold directly at prices lower than what we buy them for from our distributors. This is not just happening in our industry, but others as well. That is why it is such a struggle for Mom and Pop shops to survive.

DRB: Wow they really don't make it easy! It's good that you understand that, though, and are able to look for those things. Now, you carry a wider range of products than I was expecting, but I'll still ask: what do you recommend to first-time customers? I get pretty overwhelmed at nutrition stores and I wonder if it would be the same at NS?

Kwiatkowski: I personally believe in keeping things simple. That way people are less likely to be overwhelmed and more likely to stick with it. I usually preach paying attention to your macros (proper amounts of carbs, fats, proteins) and not sweating the micros too much. Starting with a good multi is a great way to ensure you are getting a good foundation of the micro nutrients you actually need.

DRB: Okay! Is that part of why you warned me that your views on nutrition and eating are “a little out of the range of normal”? Can you explain what you meant when you told me that?

Kwiatkowski: I have tried a lot of different ways of eating in my time. I noticed the biggest improvement in my health when I added clean meats and organic dairy back into my diet. I was feeling so great that I did some research to see if there were any people who mainly lived off of such foods as staples. That is when I found out about the Masai Tribe of Africa. They are herders who live mainly off of meat and milk. They believe farming is a desecration of the land. Pretty extreme departure of what people commonly think. So I decided to embrace this idea and test it in a reasonable manner. As a result I eat a lot of dairy and meat and nearly no fruit and veggies. Haha!

DRB: Ha, wow! That is different from the norm. I assume that's why you like the bison meat? What do you consider clean meats?

Kwiatkowski: Hormone-free, pasture-raised, and organic if possible.

DRB: Within that, do you eat any meat or lean toward one kind of meat over another?

Kwiatkowski: Not really. I do bison, grass-fed beef, salmon, and tuna. I look for calorie- and nutrient-efficient foods. Most meat fits into that category.

DRB: You said you tried other dietary regimens, were you trying those all through your running/fitness journey?

Kwiatkowski: No. I really just started running seriously a year or so ago. I was an avid day hiker back in my single days. After getting married and having a kiddo, my windows of trail time have diminished. So, to make the most of it, I decided to train to be a fast packer. I had to evolve my diet to be nutrient- and calorie-efficient and change my training to involve running along with power hiking.

DRB: Do you feel your fitness journey ties in with NS in any way?

Kwiatkowski: Yes. I believe health is a holistic sort of thing. The three main things we should focus on is nutrition, exercise, and sleep/rest. Nutrition Stop fills in the nutrition aspect, fast packing hiking/running is the exercise, and me being an exhausted, active parent equals sleep. Ha!

DRB: I would ask if your son is active, but I have a feeling he is! How old is he?

Kwiatkowski: He turned four this month.

DRB: Oh he definitely exhausts you, then, ha! I see your trail running posts, do you take to the road ever?

Kwiatkowski: Occasionally. I used to run mainly paved at Forest Park almost daily when my son was younger and would ride willingly in his stroller. Haha!

DRB: Does he enjoy fast-packing or running with you?

Kwiatkowski: At times. We live in a walk able neighborhood and have tons of parks around. We get a lot of outdoor and playground time. I usually pack out all our water and snacks in my fast-pack so it works into the whole idea of fast pack training.

DRB: Soon enough he'll be fast-packing right alongside you! Thanks so much for your time, and for sharing such wonderful information about Nutrition Stop.

This is definitely a place DRCers should check out. Let us know if you've been and give us your thoughts on it! Thanks again Rick, see you on the trails!