My brother, the Ultrarunner

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These are my brothers (from left to right) Justin and Mike. They are ultrarunners, which means they run very far. For fun. A week ago they made their 3rd attempt to finish the EC100, a 100 mile race from Norco, California to Santa Monica.

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I’m the big guy holding the bike, and that’s Josue to the far left. Josue and I have crewed for them each year, and each year they have DNF’d (did not finish). Justin wrote about this year’s race on his blog http://travelingathome.com/ so I won’t go into as much detail about the race as he did.

What I do want to talk about is how crewing for the race this year inspired me to train for an ultramarathon too. The problem is I don’t like running as much as they do. I like lifting weights. I know it doesn’t look like it in the picture above. Let’s just say that I have a ways to go.

I have trained for an ultramarathon before. I ran a 50k in Big Bear with my brothers but I burned myself out trying to keep up at their pace. DNF. After that race, I really didn’t do much more running. I decided that running sucks and I wanted to do as little of it as possible. Which is a shame because I had started to enjoy it when I was training and logging in around six miles a day, five days a week.

So I’ve gotten into lifting. The problem is that most lifters and bodybuilders tend to keep cardio to a minimum because they “don’t want to burn up all their gains.” This suited me just fine because remember, I hate running. Runners don’t seem to do much lifting. If you want to be fast and cover a lot of mileage, you really don’t want too much extra weight slowing you down. As a result, many runners are very thin with minimal muscle mass (with exception of strong legs).

You can usually tell a runner by looking at one but you can definitely tell a lifter by looking at one. They couldn’t look more different. However, there are some similarities between ULTRArunners and lifters. For one, they both like to eat and need to eat A LOT. Ultrarunners burn so many calories on their long runs that they need to make sure to keep their fuel sources replenished. Lifters can’t get huge unless they also consume a lot of calories. I like to eat so that’s a plus. Both runners and lifters like to put in a lot of time training in order to reach their goals, and both have goals that are measurable and attainable which is great because I like planning, setting goals, and being able to measure success.Therefore, I think that I can be an ultrarunner and a lifter, and train for an Ultra without having to change up my liftingeatingplanning routine.

I walked and rode alongside my brothers for 50 miles this year and found that ultrarunning is not about speed but about patience. There is a fair amount of walking involved when trying to cover 100 miles in the span of 24-30 hours. I didn’t think that I would be able to do the 50 miles but I did and it was fun hanging out with my brothers while they tried to finish this race. I knew that this year they would finish because the three brothers were together and nothing would be able to keep us from that finish line.

We saw some great views along the way.

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After nearly 28 hours, many blisters, chafing, wrong directions, aching muscles we made it to Venice beach and saw a beacon of hope telling us we were close to the finish line. 1.4 miles to be exact.image

We saw how much time we had left and how little we needed to travel and this inspired my brothers to pick up the pace and groan and grunt and limp their way to that finish line. As we got closer to the finish line at the bottom of the Santa Monica pier, Alex (the other member of our crew) and I rode alongside Mike and Justin while Josue ran by their side and we crossed the finish line together as Team Disgruntled.image

This is what success looks like.

Seeing my brothers push themselves to their limits and seeing the look of joy on their faces even though their bodies were exhausted made me proud to have been a part of their support team and also made me think that I could also do the same thing. Now the question is, “can I train for an ultramarathon while still building muscle?” After all, you can’t flex cardio, and I want to look like a lifter not a runner. So that is my goal for this year: To finish the EC100, to go back to Big Bear and conquer it, and maybe do a few other races along the way…all while packing on some serious muscle. Regardless of whether I fail to reach those goals this year, I know that this will be a great year. A quote comes to mind about how one will never be perfect but in striving for perfection will achieve great things. I know that even if I don’t look like a professional bodybuilder, and even if I don’t finish those races, if I can stay off the couch and train for these things then next year I will still be in a lot better shape than I am currently in right now.

P.S. Can’t run by Venice Beach without paying a little visit to Mr. Olympia.

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