racing

So, You're Running the Boston Marathon...

You've put in endless training miles, made several attempts to qualify, and now you're packed and ready to head to Boston this weekend! First of all, CONGRATS! You have reached runner level 100!

salespiring-2-2.jpg

We've talked to a few local Boston Marathon veterans and asked them for a few tips and tricks for race weekend. Enjoy, and good luck to everyone from Chattanooga racing on Monday!

Race Prep:

"Stalk your favorite elite runners, its the only time it's really okay! There are lots of events happening with famous runners giving talks or group runs, so if you want to see someone, do some research! We ran into Shalane Flanagan last year giving a talk at the Runner's World pop-up shop!" - Morgan Olson (1x Boston Finisher, '17)

For starters, check out these events happening:

"Buy a cheap 'throw away' blanket and 'throw away' sweats to wear to the athletes' village on race morning" -Scott Hamby (2x Boston Finisher, '16, '17, and headed back this weekend!)

"The day before the race, get your 3-4 mile shakeout run in on the Charles River Esplanade. It's a beautiful riverwalk with beautiful views of Boston! Really, just go exploring, anywhere you run you will see some cool sights." -Morgan Olson

"Hydrate! If the human body is a machine then water is the oil that keeps it running!" -Dianna Leun (2x Boston Finisher, '14, '17, and going back this weekend!)

"Talk to a stranger! Safety first of course, but strike up conversation on the subway, the bus to the race or in the port-a-potty line. Everyone is hyped up so it helps calm the nerves, and you can make a new friend!" - Dianna Leun

Race Day:

"Wear sunscreen" -Michael Green (2x Boston Finisher, '96 and '04)

"Don't worry, there is a last minute port-a-potty stop right before the start line" - Morgan Olson

"Go out conservatively, run the first 2 miles about 20 seconds slower than you want to run" -Alan Outlaw (1x Boston Finisher, '17)

"Run conservative until you reach Newton...around mile 16" -Scott Hamby

"Go out easy, take your time and don't force your way through the pack in the first several miles. The hills near the end only beat people down if they've already beat up their legs in the first part of the race" Kevin Huwe (3x Boston Finisher, '13, '14', and '17)

"Avoid zig zagging in the mass amounts of people, it's exhausting and it'll make you more frustrated." - Morgan Olson

"After you finish the race, it's about a mile to family/friend meet-up area, so think positive thoughts and don't fall over." -Morgan Olson 

Boston Experiences:

"A Red Sox game is a nice way to get the Boston experience before the race" Kevin Huwe

"The city of Boston is wonderful. Grab something at the bakery and savor each and every bite!" - Dianna Leun

"Go to Mike's Pastry in the North End. They have so many varieties of cannolies, you won't be able to pick just one!" -Scott Hamby

"Dunkin Donuts is the best local coffee shop you can go to!" 

IMG_0951.jpg

Good luck to everyone racing Boston on Monday!

Don't Stress. Remember where you are, and all you've done to be there. It's quite an accomplishment, so take it all in and enjoy the experience. Boston is a tough course with tough conditions, so just have fun with it. We hope you have enjoyed these tips and tricks!

Must-Do Chattanooga Races in 2018!

You've set your new year's resolutions: get fit, stay in shape, eat healthier. What better accountability than a tangible goal you have to train for, like a race! Races provide an end goal to work towards, whether that's to run a fast a 5k or to run your first half marathon. A registration fee and date on the calendar are excellent accountability partners that will all keep you motivated to train and push yourself!

Whether you're just starting out or need a bigger, badder challenge, here are eleven races to put on your calendar for 2018.

1. Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon, Half Marathon, 5k, and Kids Race: March 2-4, 2018

This race will not disappoint you. Although a young race, over the past 3 years the city of Chattanooga has come out strong with cheering and support throughout the race. It is a blast running through the various neighborhoods of Chattanooga, and seeing everyone out cheering. There is a large expo the day before at the First Tennessee Pavilion, and there's always great race swag for participants. There is still plenty of time to sign up and start training, don't delay! Click here for more info or to register!

fbstumps-3.jpg

2. Rock/Creek River Gorge 10.2m Trail Race: March 24, 2018

If you've always wanted to try a trail race, the R/C River Gorge is a fantastic chance to dip your toes into the trail world. The course has beautiful scenery with challenging a single track course through Mullens Cove loop at Prentice Cooper State Forest. For more info or to register, click here!

3. 65 Roses 5k: March 24, 2018

In it's 16th year, the 65 Roses 5k has raised about $1 million for Cystic Fibrosis. This year they are having a special guest, Olympian marathon runner Meb Keflezghi! You can sign up for the VIP ticket and have a chance to meet him in person, and it's all for a great cause! For more info or to register, click here!

4. Chickamauga Chase 15k, 8M, Walk, Kiddie K: April 21, 2018

This year will be the 50th running of the Chickamauga Chase, solidifying it as a Chattanooga classic, and must-do race for locals! This event has something for everyone, and we mean EVERYONE. From a road 15k race to a 8m trail race to the Kiddie K, this race is perfect for the running family. Road runners, trail runners, walkers, and kids will all enjoy a beautiful day of racing at the Battlefield. Not to mention the awards for the top finishers are Civil War bayonets!  For more information or to register, click here!

5. Chattanooga Chase 8k and 1 mile: May 28, 2018

raceday-10.jpg
Photo by Varina Shaughnessy

Photo by Varina Shaughnessy

In its 51st running, this challenging and hilly road course shows no mercy until the fast, flowing, downhill finish. But let's be real, this race is all about the after party! In recent years, the Chattanooga Chase has been sponsored by local restaurants who have up'd the heigh of the post-race festivities, providing food and drinks to all participants and families. Join us for a fun race kicking off your Memorial Day. For more information or to register, click here!

6. Waterfront Triathlon: June 24, 2018

waterfront-5.jpg

Chattanooga is known for being a triathlon city with the Ironman 70.3, full Ironman, and in 2017, we hosted the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. If you've been inspired by all the men and women in space helmets on bikes, before you sign up for the full 140.6 miles, start with this competitive but friendly Chattanooga tri. The Waterfront Triathlon offers both sprint and olympic distances, perfect for a beginner triathlete, yet challenging enough for advanced racers. For more information or to register, click here!

7. Missionary Ridge 4.7 Mile Road Race: August 11, 2018

Another classic Chattanooga race in its 45th year running! This rolling course on top of the ridge has breathtaking scenery the entire route. In August, the weather is sure to be hot and humid, so stay hydrated, and challenge yourself to take on the ridge! For more info or to register, click here!

8. Cam Bean Memorial 5k and Kids race: August 25, 2018

Photo by Emily Lester

Photo by Emily Lester

In its 3rd year, the Cam Run 5k and 1mile is very dear to our hearts. Cameron Bean, a former Fast Break employee, was tragically killed while running on Moccasin Bend Road which is the location of the race. The 5k in the morning is open to everyone! The top 25 male and female winners from the 5k will have the chance to compete in the 1 mile event that evening as a part of the River Gorge Omnium bike race. Click here for more information or to register! 

9. Battlefield Marathon, Half Marathon, Kids Run: November 10, 2018

battlefield17-8.jpg

A race through history! This rolling course takes your through beautiful Civil War battlefields and around historical moments, memorials, and canons. It's a great race to go after that elusive Boston Qualifier! Everyone can participate with distances from the full and half marathon to the Jr. Marathon. For the Jr. Marathon, kids log 25.2 miles throughout the year, and run their final momentous mile on race day. For more info or to register click here!

10. Sports Barn Turkey Trot

There is no other Turkey Trot in Chattanooga like this one. For years, this race has brought out before the devouring, football and food coma's start. Burn the calories before you eat them! Proceeds go to the Kidney Foundation of Chattanooga. Click here for more info or to register! 

11. Wuahatchie Trail Race

Photo by Kari Vradenberg

Photo by Kari Vradenberg

It's not just about how fast your are, but how old you are! Experience a different type of race with an age graded start. Each age group has a different start time that levels the playing field for a chance to win the Golden Antlers! The course is at  Reflection Riding Arboretum. Participant are encouraged to bring a white elephant gift for the prize table! For more info or to register, click here!

Honorable Mentions

There are SO MANY great races in Chattanooga that we've run out of room! These honorable mentions are more that the Fast Break crew loves and runs. Click on each one for more info or to register.

Good luck with your fitness goals this year! 

Following Hardrock Dreams: an Interview with Ryan Meulemans, a Local Chattanooga Ultra Trail Runner

Hardrock 100 mile race is notoriously known as one of the hardest ultra-marathons in the United States. It attracts running legends like Kilian Jornet to race across the Colorado mountains. Runners can only enter Hardrock through a lottery. This year, one of our own Chattanooga Fast Breakers made it in and placed 33rd overall. We sat down with Ryan Meulemans to hear about his race.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO RUNNING?

I've always been into the outdoors and have enjoyed the outdoors in many ways, shapes, and forms. I originally started with hiking and backpacking. And then was really into fly fishing for a few years. It was an evolution of enjoying the outdoors. In my early 20’s, I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, ate like #&^%, weighed 200 pounds. I got into exercising. I was like, I have to go to the gym and like bla, bla, blah. I quit smoking and all that. But the gym wasn't for me. It wasn't fun. So I started running on the road 2-3 miles, cause that's all I could do. But then a couple of buddies were like, "We go out and run trails." I hadn't been doing it much, but I liked hiking and backpacking in the Smokies. So that's just how I got into it. I wasn't really a runner until I became a trail runner. That was probably a little over 10 years ago.

Everything in my life is to the frickin extreme. It's just how I live, it's my personality. Everything is to the max. Running for me isn't any different. I got into it. I enjoyed the trails and it was one of those things, where I was having a conversation with some guys, and they were like, "Stump Jump is coming up." And I was like, "What's Stump Jump?" At that point I was really only comfortable with 10-12 miles. I thought about it for a few weeks, and decided that I was going to do it. I had 1 year to train for it. I did it and finished and liked it. And that was my first ultra.

I want to be in the woods. I want to be out there on the trails, and the cliffs and the streams and bluffs. That's why I do it. So I did Stump Jump a couple of years in a row. Then I started adding other races and 50ks became not that big of deal so I started doing 50 milers then 100’s.

Photo contributed by Ryan Meulemans

WHEN DID YOU START DREAMING OF HARDROCK?

I kind of like those more mountainy races. I had always had it in my head that Hardrock was the pinnacle. If you look at the race course, you can make an argument that it's the hardest thing in North America and definitely one of the hardest things in the world.

I put my name into Hardrock for about 5 years. There is a short list of races that the Hardrock race directors deem worthing or hard enough to do Hardrock. The list used to be bigger but it has shrunk down. I would get a qualifier every other year, put my name into Hardrock every year, and wait and see. And I wouldn't get in. But last December, luck of the draw, I finally got in for 2017.

I was ecstatic. You find out over Twitter. You're sitting there watching the lottery hitting refresh, refresh, refresh. I was picked in the second batch of names. It was like a band-aid had been ripped off. The lottery started and 5 minutes later I was in! But I didn't have any fear. I knew what I was getting into. I definitely wanted the opportunity to do it. So my name got pulled and I was all in.

 

WHAT WAS YOUR TRAINING LIKE?

My last 3 years of running have been FatDog 120 [in British Columbia], Western States, and getting ready for Hardrock. So I went back and looked at FatDog, which was great, and looked at what I had done. Even though FatDog is longer, I knew I probably needed to dial it up for Hardrock. So I just went about my plan with a nice build up. Every other Saturday as [a race] gets closer is the really long run. I’ll go do a 45-50 mile run, then the next Saturday 12 miles, then the next Saturday 45-50. So for these types of races, like a Hardrock or FatDog, the only chance you have is to go to some place like the Smokies to find 5-6 mile climbs. With a race like HardRock, you have these really long climbs and descents to train for. And there's nothing like that around here. So I'd go up to the Smokies around Friday afternoon and camp and run.

 

HOW DID YOU HANDLE THE ELEVATION?

I went out 2 weeks in advance. My sister lives in Denver, so I drove out. Got to Denver on Friday afternoon, camped in my truck. Got up Saturday morning, put in 18 miles up and down some 14ers. And I was beat. Elevation kicked me bad! I was like, “Ok, this isn't good. I'm really fit and I don't know how I could run 5 more miles.” So I was a little nervous. I went out again the next day for a shorter 15 miles or so. Took Monday off. Then my sister and I went out on July 4 and did 4 14ers in 1 day. It was up and down, up and down. It was pretty good. That day I felt better. That was Tuesday and I could feel it coming together.

I drove to Silverton on Wednesday. I went out on Thursday for a 20 miler, and I felt good. I went out again 1 week before the race and still felt good, elevation was good. I knew when I was going up 12 to 13 thousand feet and I was talking that things were going to be ok.


WALK US THROUGH RACE DAY.

Photo contributed by Ryan Meulemans

I slept like a baby the night before. Not sure why. The race starts at 6am on Friday morning. I felt good. The race starts and everybody is in a group. You run through town and a couple miles in, the first thing you do is run through a creek crossing. So your feet are wet the entire time after that. That was probably one of my biggest fears, that my feet would be wet the entire time and, knowing how technical the course is, I was wondering if I'd just wear my feet out with blisters. Luckily, feet were solid. I changed my shoes and socks one time at the half way point and was good to go. I didn't glide my feet, bandaid my feet, nothing. I rarely have foot problems, so if I do, I don't understand why cause I rarely do. But feet were wet the entire time.

So you go up the big climb and everyone's together and all strung out in a huge train. And the day gets started. The thing about Hardrock is that you have to remember the whole entire time A) how hard you worked to be there and B) how long it took for you to get in. I would come to the top of climbs and look around and be like, 'Oh my god, this is awesome.' It's truly the most beautiful running course I've been on. I was totally engaged the entire time. Any hundred mile I've ever run, you get into these stretches where you're just like, “This stretch sucks. I can't wait for this to be over.” But at Hardrock, that never happened.

Photo contributed by Ryan Meulemans

 A friend of mine had introduced me to my friend Joel whom I had never met before Hardrock training. My friend said we ran the same style and pace and we might want to run together, so we did. We did some training runs in Tennessee together and really hit it off. We had talked about it at the beginning that we should share some miles together since we're a similar pace, with the complete understanding that if either one of us hits a low point the other one is leaving and that's the end of that. There's not going to be any "we got to stay together type deal." So I caught up to Joel at about 12ish miles into the race. Him and I started rolling together. Just enjoying the day, just a beautiful Friday morning, just having a great time. And as with any Colorado afternoon, it starts to get dark, and the skies go black, and we look over at this mountain range, and we're like, "Oh $%*&! That doesn't look good!" So the temperature drops and a huge hail storm comes in, pea-sized hail. I have a hood on but it's killing my ears where it's hitting. Of course I had my Fast Break trucker on, but regardless, we were getting pummeled. I looked back and Joel's legs were bleeding. I finally yelled, ”Dude, we need to take cover." It started thundering and lightning. So we got into the willows and hunkered down for probably 10 minutes. It seemed to be moving out, and I was getting really cold, so we had to start running again just for that purpose. Fortunately, the storm was moving out, but the streams were now all flooded. It was intense, but that's part of the Hardrock deal! Joel and I rolled together through the night from 12 miles to the town of Telluride, which is at mile 72.

A great part of the race is an aid station section called Kroger’s Canteen. It's a very famous aid station. It's up on the top of a mountain in a nook. They built platforms there. Scott Jurek’s up there serving something to eat. We knew going into it, that one side of it was still completely snowed in. So in pitch blackness, we start up these snow pitches that was just like climbing a ladder. You put your feet in and use your trekking poles, and you've got your head lamp and you're just climbing into nothing. Straight up. It would go and pitch out, and then keep going. There's 3 pitches to the top, then you can see the aid station, and they're all yelling at you to climb. I was like, "Dude, don't fall. It's not going to be good." So super cool, but definitely one of the sketchier things I've done in my running, and I've done some pretty crazy spots.
 
In the middle of the night, we started down to the next descent and got into the town of Telluride, and grabbed what we needed at the aid station. It's 4:30 in the morning. It's getting close to sun up but not quite there yet. It's mile 70 and everything feels good. So we start out of Telluride, me, Joel and his pacer. And I don't know what happened, but I could not get out of first gear. They were leaving me in the dust. I lost all my momentum. I was really struggling to keep up with them. So finally I said, "This is it. It's that spot. You've got to go. I can't keep up."

Photo contributed by Ryan Meulemans

Looking back, I think I got a little low on calories. There's definitely something with altitude. I don't think I ate that much for 100 miles. I never had a gel. I don't like gels. I ate Shot Bloks. I'd ate quesadillas and burritos at aid stations. I think Joel was at a really good pace for probably 20 miles prior and it burned me just a little bit, so it hit later. It probably would have been better to back off, but I didn't. But there's no regrets. It was all still fine. It was a very difficult climb. It was a section of the course I had not seen. And looking at the profile, I think mentally I thought it wasn't going to be that bad, and then it was really bad. It was one of those ones where you're just going and there's 3-4 false summits and you think you're there, and it's not the top, and you get to another peak, and it’s still not the top. And I had all that going on mentally of my buddy leaving me and my pacer not keeping up (that’s another story). It was a lot. I think if you run 100 miles and don't have one low energy spot, you're really good. I felt low for a couple of hours, but once I got to the top of the climb, the sun was up, I was good. I bombed down into an aid station. I ate, had a cup of coffee, had a breakfast burrito and it was golden after that.

So I finally got to the top of that climb. The sun came up, and that's always a boost. That's a thing about 100 milers. There's always that time around 4:30-5:30 in the morning where you're tired and then the sun comes up, and I always get a huge boost. So after that, it was good. It was still a grind and very difficult. I was on my own all the way to the finish. Joel was always just ahead of me. He ended up finishing nearly an hour ahead of me.

I had seen the final 20 something miles of the course. We had done the final 20 miles the week before. So I knew after that low moment, everything else I had seen. I knew exactly where I was. I knew every climb that I had to do, which is both a blessing and a curse, to get the finish.

I got to the top of another climb, which is super hard, straight up. I'm digging, climbing, rocks are sliding right under me. When I got to the top of that climb which I knew would be really hard, I was like, "Ok I got this. Lets finish." I was at 85, had 15 to go. It was 10 in the morning on Saturday. I was golden. I had waited a long time for this. And the race had been great. I was in and out of the last couple of aid stations and then on to the finish. When you get to the finish at Hardrock, you kiss the rock. It felt great. I didn't feel destroyed at all. I felt really, really good about it.

Photo contributed by Ryan Meulemans

 YOU'VE FINISHED YOUR DREAM RACE. WHAT’S NEXT?

Hardrock is definitely a race I could see myself doing multiple times. I've done it one direction, now I have to do it the other way, since they reverse it every other year. I will probably put in every year. There's so much about it. Silverton shuts down the week before the race. It's a serene atmosphere leading up to such a big event.

 

Photo contributed by Ryan Meulemans

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR FIRST HARDROCK?

I think one of the biggest things that hit me at Hardrock was during the pre-race briefing, the race director, Dale Garland, announced who has done this five times, ten times, etc.  One guy had done it twenty-five times. Then he said that only 700 something individual people have only finished this race in the whole world. When tomorrow's race is done, there will be 780 or whatever. But only 750 or so people in the world have completed Hardrock. And I was like, I have to be one. I have to be 1 of those 750, that's why I'm here.