Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Montferland 15 km

It was time to get back on the horse, metaphorically speaking. I had not toed a starting line of any sort of race since Badwater in July, so I registered for a 15 km running race (9.3 miles) located in the oddly-named town of ‘s-Heerenberg, about 80 miles east of Amsterdam, on the German border.

The decision to make the trek was made easier by the news that Haile Gebrselassie, arguably the greatest distance runner of all-time, would be running the race in his first effort since setting the world record in the marathon earlier this year in Berlin.

Once we arrived in ‘s-Heerenberg, it didn’t take the rain long to start falling. And falling. And falling. A light rain quickly turned into a torrential downpour, made even more pleasant by whipping winds. I’m sure that I’ve raced in worse weather, but this was downright unpleasant.

There seem to be a few differences between running races in the States and in the Netherlands. The scene at the starting line is exactly the same...people chatting nervously with friends before the gun fires. But once underway, I noticed that there was almost NO conversation between runners, unlike in the States, where you usually see/hear friends talking to one another--dependent on pace--during the race. Crowd support was great. Every little tiny village along the route turned out to see the action and encourage the athletes, despite the weather. Numerous marching bands played music as I passed, playing what sounded like national and/or folk music. And the aid stations (two or three in total) offered a curious beverage: Very warm water. Not that I was complaining, because I was freezing my ass off.

I entered the race completely untrained for speed, as I’ve just been on a fitness maintenance routine since we’ve made the move to Europe. My lack of speed showed…when I wanted to accelerate, it was tough finding the gear. But my experience on hills and mountains showed, as I easily passed the flatlanders on the few bumps featured on this rolling course. The eastern part of the country does in fact have some hills, and it felt good to use them to my advantage.

Remarkably, I clocked almost even splits (5k: 21:08; 10k: 21:38; 15k: 20:47) en route to a 1:03:33 finish (6:53 min/mi pace). It’s not much, but it’s a start, and I’m fine with the effort given the deplorable conditions.

I even managed to say a quick hello to Geb as he departed the awards ceremony area. It was an honor just to shake the hand of the man who has done so much for the sport of distance running.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


High mileage? Low mileage? Ultrarunners come in all different stripes--as many runners as there are, you'll inevitably find as many theories about how to prepare for 100-mile races and beyond.

I've learned a lot about my body over the last two decades of running and competing. I have a few strengths and plenty of weaknesses. But at least I'm now able to identify them.

For instance, I've learned that it's pretty tough for me to consistently log 100-mile weeks anymore. No unless I want to stay injury-free, that is. So, for Badwater, I've focused more on maxing my mileage out at around 85 to 90 miles per week. But the key for me is making sure tht the bulk of those miles come in extremely long, back-to-back weekend runs, the longest of which will be around 8 hours.

Monday, June 4, 2007


I could write volumes on my nutritional viewpoint. But in a nutshell...

I chose to employ a vegetarian lifestyle in 1991. In 2006, for a variety of factors, I made the decision to start consuming regular portions of wild salmon. The vegetarian lifestyle served me well for many years, offering what I believe to be optimal athletic performance and health. At times, eating as a vegetarian can be challenging, especially during international travel (or when visiting Chicago!). Although I admire those who live a vegan lifestyle (Jurek, are you listening?), I simply can't imagine life without a cheese pizza or the occasional omelette! To borrow a quote from Don Kardong, "Without ice cream there would be darkness and chaos."

I firmly believe that modern sciene--when coupled with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole, unrefined, non-processed foods--gives us an incredible advantage. Gazillions of dollars and countless hours have been spent in the pursuit of identifying and designing supplements that fill in the gaps in our nutrition and offer a critical edge in athletics and overall health. Why not take advantage of this?

Unfortunately, marketing, along with anecdotal and often inaccurate evidence can easily confuse the consumer and lead us astray. So, I've attempted to let the science and my own personal experience be my guiding light.

In over 20 years of endurance sport competition, I've seen and used most of the garbage available on the market--from foul-tasting, over-processed "energy" bars to supplements that promised the moon. Through most of that time period, one company has consistently delivered high-quality, reasonably priced supplements and FUEL appropriate for use by endurance athletes: HAMMER NUTRITION.

Brian Frank, the founder of the Whitefish, Montana-based company, is as nice of a guy as you'll ever meet, and 100% committed to shattering the myths perpetrated by many of the supplement and "energy" product companies today. Brian's valued colleague Steve Born, the company's technical advisor, has become a good friend over the years, and taught me more about sports nutrition than I ever thought I could know. If you are even moderately serious about your own sports performance, you owe it to yourself to download a (free) copy of Steve's "Endurance Athlete's Guide to Success--Everything you need to know about optimum caloric, electrolyte, and fluid intake for training and competition." It's a treasure trove of information on sports nutrition.

When you're ready to investigate Hammer Nutrition's superior products, just click HERE to start the process of finding out which FUEL is right for you. Click HERE when you're ready to order. If you mention my name (Greg Pressler, a.k.a. Desert Fish), the friendly customer service folks can look up my customer number AND give you a 15% discount on your first order! I'll keep track of any credits I earn and match those credits with a donation to Soles4Souls.