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Showing posts with label capital backyard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label capital backyard. Show all posts

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Capital Backyard Training - One Month Out



Capital Backyard Ultra, which I fully intend to be my longest distance run ever, is only about a month away. This means that the beginning of my taper period is less than a month away and that the longest training plan I have ever used is coming to an end. This training block has been the most gradual, consistent, and intentional training I have ever submitted myself to following. Probably even more so than the plans I used for my first marathon and hundred mile distance races, which were basically the only times I used and followed a training plan. Even in those situations, I didn’t follow the plan verbatim; I used them more as an outline to follow. My plan to prepare for Capital Backyard has been similar. I don’t have specific daily mileage runs at certain effort levels. The whole purpose of the plan I came up with and decided to follow was to build an increased base for sustained endurance gradually without injuring myself.

How did I go about that? It was a pretty simple idea and plan altogether. I took my December running mileage and calculated my average daily mileage for the month (5.94 miles/day). Now, the plan was to just run a higher average daily mileage in January and continue to increase that daily average for February, March, and April. There are no rest days built in, no built in cross training days, no scheduled long runs or speed workouts. None of that typical training plan stuff that a coach would probably include. It has been more or less all based on feel and how my body is reacting and when it is ready to be pushed, using that average daily mileage figure as the target. November and December were supposed to be my “off season” or recovery months after last year’s racing, but we had a pretty mild winter and I really didn’t cut back on running as much as I had intended, so my starting base mileage for this training plan was greater than I originally thought it would be. I thought this might spell trouble for me when trying to incrementally build my mileage each month, but I’ve been able to hit all of my monthly mileage goals thus far without a great deal of difficulty.

Training mileage so far...

That’s not to say there haven’t been a few speed bumps and challenges along the way. Life happens and schedules become disrupted, but I believe if you’re committed to a goal you’ll adapt and find a way to make it happen. My family went through a one and a half week bout with a stomach flu in January. Snowstorms made it difficult to get out for runs on multiple occasions. Most recently, a case of colds and sinus congestion made their rounds through our household which we still have a few lingering symptoms from and are in what I hope are the final stages of recovery. Through all the challenges, the goal never felt out of reach.

Now that the training is nearly complete, the question remains as to whether it was ever a good plan at all. The backyard racing format is still in its infancy. There is a wealth of data to support the science of good and bad training for most race distances. This is not the case for the unique structure, demands, and strategy of the backyard race format. Whether this plan I followed was good or bad will not be determined until the end of Memorial Day weekend when my race at Capital Backyard Ultra is concluded. I am confident and excited for the race. I have high hopes for my day there. I am excited to run through two consecutive nights. I intend to PR my greatest distance ever run and finally surpass that 200 mile distance milestone then continue to see how much farther I can go before breaking. The ultimate goal is to be the last person standing; that is the point of the race. The “B” goal for me is to push until I break, to never quit, but time out on a lap due to sheer exhaustion and inability to continue the required pace. If I achieve either of those goals, I believe it will provide some validation to my training plan.




Scott Snell
24 April 2022

Monday, April 4, 2022

Capital Backyard Training - Month Three - March





March has come and gone, but training doesn't stop! I hit 244.65 miles in March for a daily average of 7.89 miles. I am right on track for my four month training plan to build up my mileage to prepare for what I hope to be a distance PR (over 150 miles) for me at Capitol Backyard Ultra. My training in March went super smooth. I was a little under my target daily mileage average for the first three weeks, but I knew I had a 42 mile run to celebrate my birthday on my schedule for the third weekend of the month. I was sure that long run would pull my average above my target and it certainly did as I comfortably increased in daily mileage from February to March by 5.64%.



Now I just have to do it again in April then sneak in a long run in early May and it will be time to roll into a taper. I was uncertain about attempting this type of mileage build up as a training plan in January, but with only a month and a half of training time left, everything is going splendidly and I am confident I’ll hit the mileage goal (a higher average daily mileage than March) I have set for April! With hard work and dedication, goals can be reached. Look out Capital Backyard; I’m going to be ready!




Scott Snell
April 4, 2022










Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Capital Backyard Training - Month Two - February





I am already approaching the midway point of my training for Capital Backyard. February’s training went much more smoothly with less speed bumps and worries than January’s training. My only concern during February was that I was overtraining and that I could peak or burn out too soon. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but so far so good. My training plan to match or exceed my monthly daily mileage average from the previous month until May is working well. I have exceeded my target marks for January (6.19 miles/day) and February (7.47 miles/day). Now I only have two full months of mileage build up left before rolling into a taper period in May.
 

My primary motivation to keep this train on the tracks and continue this training regime is to earn a place on the US International Backyard Team and run at Big’s Backyard this October. With this goal in mind, I will continue to put in the effort and hopefully have the best performance possible come May!



Scott Snell
March 2, 2022




Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Capital Backyard Training - Month One - January




Best Coast Trail Running Scott Snell


I am officially in training mode for Capital Backyard and am right on track where I want to be with 192 miles for January after today's run! My training plan is to use December's mileage as my baseline and match or exceed my monthly mileage from the previous month until May. I hit that target for January even with record breaking snowfall and a week long bout of the stomach flu in our household. I wasn't sure if it was going to happen with those extra challenges, but I managed to keep this train on the tracks. Three more months of training with tentative monthly mileage goals then it will be time to run some yards before I know it. I am psyched! My only worry is that I may have started out too hard. I question whether I can keep the momentum and energy going for the next 3.5 months. I fear I may burn out in March or April. Earning a place on the US International Backyard Team to run at Big’s Backyard this October is a big goal which requires a big effort. No other way to do it other than to put in the work and grind!

The plan.




Scott Snell
January 31, 2022














Thursday, January 20, 2022

2022 Goals… Errrr...I mean goal. As in Singular.



What are my goals for 2022? I should rephrase that. What is my goal for 2022? Earn a place on the 15 person USA Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra Satellite Team. That’s pretty much it. Pass or fail. All or nothing. A singular goal.

Of course there are building blocks to reach that goal. I’ll run plenty of training workouts, incorporate cross training, and have distance goals for long runs. But I’m not looking at those as goals in themselves. For me, at least this year, those are just stepping stones or progress markers towards achieving the goal.


How does one earn a place on the USA Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra Satellite Team this year? Well, there's a couple ways to get a spot. One is to win a silver ticket backyard race (currently six of them). The other way is through the “at large entry” route, which basically means run one of the top 9 backyard performances (outside of the winners of the silver tickets) in the US and apply for entry. As of now, a top 9 performance is right around 40 yards or 166 miles. I'm registered for Capital Backyard (a silver ticket race), so the plan is to win there or at least do well enough to have a solid shot at the “at large entry” route. We'll see what the day brings… If I fail to secure a spot there or think that my “at large entry” route chances aren’t good based on whatever distance I run, I’ll look into other backyard races to better my chances of getting in via the “at large entry” route.
                                    
Although I only have a single running goal for the year, that doesn’t mean I don’t have other goals I hope to achieve this year. One of which I will mention here since I am incorporating it into my running habit. This year, like last year, I am attempting to fundraise for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® again through the St. Jude Heroes program. I will basically do what I did last year and hope for better results. I’ll kick it off again with a celebratory birthday run where I run my age in miles (42). I’ll follow that up by asking for per mile pledge donations for the races I run this year. If you would like to support my fundraising efforts, donations can be made at my St. Jude Heroes fundraising page. Want to pledge a per mile donation based on how far I run at the Capitol Backyard Ultra? Fill out this Google form and donate when the results are posted. You can learn more about my past fundraising attempts in this blog post.

Thank you for any and all support!



Scott Snell
January 20, 2022






Friday, October 22, 2021

Why I Run Backyard Ultras and Why I'm Dead Set on Running Big's Backyard


Scott Snell Beast coast trail running backyard ultra finish

My three key reasons why the backyard race format attracts me:
  • The pressure and excitement of having a hard cut off time constantly looming.
  • The opportunity and motivation to push yourself beyond what you thought your limits were.
  • Reaching a deeper state of being.
This past weekend I followed along online via tweets and facebook status updates as runners ran a 4.1667 mile loop every hour on the hour beginning at 7 AM Saturday and into the following week at the original backyard ultra, Big’s Backyard. The backyard race format is simply a matter of elimination where the winner is the last runner remaining after all other runners have been eliminated as a process of attrition. Every runner must complete the loop within the hour and start another loop at the beginning of the next hour. Any runner that fails to do either is eliminated. This continues indefinitely until one runner is the last one standing and the winner. After 70+ hours of running, three runners remained in the race (eventually Harvey Lewis would win it with 85 laps or 354.2 miles). It was then that the thought occurred to me, “many people would consider this to be torture.” I have a differing opinion. Watching these athletes push themselves to and beyond the point of exhaustion and knowing that they volunteered themselves for that experience out of their own free will only filled me with inspiration and awe. It also gave me a whole lot of FOMO and stoked my fire to earn my spot at Big’s in 2022.

I certainly have not made a secret of my intentions to run at Big’s. However, I don’t think I have ever explained in depth why I set this as my “A” goal above all other racing or FKT goals. Before explaining why running at Big’s became my highest priority goal, I feel the need to explain how I became interested in this race format to begin with. It began with an interest in Laz as a person and as a race director. Running the Barkley Marathon never really piqued my interest. The race and format interests me, I just have never had any intent at the time of learning about it or since to run it myself. His backyard format race though immediately made me wonder how long I would last and how far I could go. Then seeing records broken and competitors dig and push the boundaries of what I thought was possible I became increasingly intrigued with the format and wanted to test myself at it.

To my benefit, and likely in large part due to Courtney Dauwalter’s amazing performance at the 2018 Big’s, the backyard format started gaining more attention and received much wider coverage. This led to numerous backyard format races popping up throughout the US and eventually worldwide. In 2019, a backyard format race, Run Ragged, that was pretty local to me was announced. I registered for it and a question on the registration form was “How many laps do you plan to run?” I answered as honestly as I could at the time with my knowledge of backyards and my goal for the race, “One lap more than the second to last person standing.” Yes, maybe it was cocky, but I was going there with the intention of winning.

After doing just that and assessing my experience at Run Ragged, I didn’t know if I even liked the format or if I would ever do another. What the format introduced me to that I had not experienced previously was the feeling of chasing cut offs. I’m not trying to brag as I am by no means an amazingly fast runner, I would consider myself a middle of the pack runner at best, but I had never feared missing a cut off at any standard set distance races I had run. I had never felt stressed to make it to an aid station with the clock counting down to a cut off time. My first experience with that was at Run Ragged as that is essentially what a backyard format is, a 4.1667 mile loop with a one hour cut off. You are always within one hour of missing a cut off no matter your average pace. This was a form of stress new to me while racing and a completely novel experience. At first, I didn’t think I liked it, but over time and with more experiences, I have come to enjoy the excitement this sort of pressure to perform brings to racing.

As an additional beneficial effect of the relentless and never-ending pressure of looming cut offs, the backyard race format also provides an opportunity and motivation to push yourself beyond what you thought your limits were. Everyone has their own reasons for running in general and anyone who gets into ultrarunning usually has additional reasons for pursuing that niche of the running world. A major reason why I was attracted to ultrarunning was to find my limit and to see what my mind and body are capable of when pushed beyond what I accepted their limits to be. After several years of running set distance ultras, I felt like I was still pushing myself, but not to the point where I was questioning if finishing was possible. After the first couple 100 milers, I no longer questioned if I would finish. It simply became a matter of when. That reason alone drew my attention to backyards. Since there can be only one finisher, everyone else will find their limit on that given day. That’s what attracted me to ultras to begin with, to find my limit. The backyard format could finally deliver that to me so it was only natural that I would gravitate towards them. After running several backyards (Run Ragged, Last Idiot Standing, Keystone Backyard Ultra, and Backyard Squatch Ultra) and being the last runner standing without having found my limit, I concluded I needed to go bigger and enter bigger backyard races with deeper fields. What backyard could be bigger than the originator of the backyard format, Big’s Backyard? My mind was made up, I would run at Big’s. No more being a big fish in a little pond, I wanted to run with the big dogs at Big’s.


The other major attraction of the backyard format for me (at the risk of sounding all new age and hokey) is that it encourages the runner to seek out and embrace a transcendental state of running. It allows the physical act of running to act as a key to access a spiritual or nonphysical realm. I’ve said many times that endurance running is only a physical feat to a certain point, then it becomes a mental challenge. This statement is even more true of a race without a set finish line. The idea in itself seems a bit supernatural to begin with: to run continuously for an indefinite distance or time. Most rational people (runners or not) would likely have an issue with this concept. I embrace it for the fact that I am so in love with those short episodes of time while running where I lose track of time, pace, and miles; I feel like I’m floating effortlessly and not even thinking about running or effort. They start and end unexpectedly. I don’t think they can be consciously induced; they seem to just happen for me. I don’t even notice that I’m having one of those episodes during it; it always occurs to me after it’s over and I look at my watch wondering where the time went and how I covered so many miles unknowingly. I think Harvey Lewis was describing this state immediately after winning Big’s this year when he said at times he was running pain free and felt like he could run forever. I believe he called it reaching “running nirvana”. What better way to attempt to achieve a state of “running nirvana” than to run beyond the limits of what your logical and rational mind has accepted as possible?

So far, this post has covered my key reasons for being attracted to the backyard race format. I haven’t specifically state why I made Big’s Backyard my goal race to reach. I hinted at it with the topic of running more competitive backyards with deeper fields, but there are other backyard races out there that have resulted in some pretty impressive distances run, much farther than I have ever gone or thought possible. Why did I pick Big’s over others? An additional motivating factor for me is to earn a spot as a member of the USA National Backyard Team, representing the USA running with some of the best backyard runners in the world: Courtney Dauwalter, Maggie Guterl, Harvey Lewis, and Michael Wardian among others. The only opportunity to achieve this is at Big’s. I think most kids dream about achieving the pinnacle of success in some sport, whether it be winning the super bowl or an Olympic gold medal. I had these dreams as a kid too, but none of them panned out. Now I have an opportunity to reach what I would say is or at least near the pinnacle of backyard ultrarunning, to earn a spot on the USA National Team. I believe I am capable of achieving that so in my view I’m doing a disservice to myself to not pursue it.

Scott Snell
October 22, 2021








Saturday, October 16, 2021

Post Inspiration 4 St. Jude Fundraising Effort - Asking Billionaires For Help


As some of you may know, earlier this year I attempted to tie in a fundraising effort with several of my races. I set up a St. Jude Heroes fundraising page so all donations would go directly to and benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. After that I linked it to a Facebook fundraiser page to make it easier for people to donate. Then I attempted to promote it. I started it off with a celebratory birthday run where I ran my age in miles (41). I shared this on my social media platforms and asked that anyone who intended to get me a birthday present to please donate to the fundraiser instead. I received a few donations from friends and family.

I didn’t get as many donations as I had hoped. I thought if I went bigger, I would surely get more donations. I tied the fundraiser to my first race of the year, a 24 hour trail race. I set up a pledge system for anyone to donate any amount per mile they like prior to the race. Unfortunately I didn’t have any takers. I thought, “maybe 24 hours isn't enough.” I updated the pledge system for my next race, The Keystone Backyard Ultra, which I was sure would go longer than 24 hours. I was right in my assumption about it going longer (I ran for almost 31 hours), however I was wrong about thinking that going bigger would garner more donations. It was the longest and farthest I had ever run. I was really happy about my performance, but it would have been much sweeter if I had been able to secure any pledges.

After three running “events” that I had attempted to use to help raise funds for St. Jude I had garnered a total of 7 donations totaling $185. I was still $65 away from my fundraising goal of $250 (the base amount for St. Jude Heroes). I concluded that I’m far better at running ultras than fundraising. I got first place at the two races I ran as a part of this fundraising effort, but was still only about 75% of the way to my fundraising goal. Thankfully, I received a cash prize of $12.50 per lap (4.1667 miles) run for a total prize of $387.50! I donated a portion of that prize money to reach my base fundraising goal.

I was happy to have reached my goal, but the fundraising effort still felt like a failure to me as the only reason I reached my target amount was due to me donating. I decided fundraising isn’t my forte. I didn’t give it too much thought after that and tried to move on just focusing on running. Then, as a Bibrave Pro ambassador, I registered to run and promote the Inspiration 4 mile virtual run, a part of which was a fundraising component. It kinda felt like fate had brought this fundraising effort back into my life, and coincidence or not, of all the fundraisers that the Inspiration 4 mission could have chosen to support, they chose St. Jude as I did six months earlier.


The Inspiration 4 fundraising goal was inspiring, as it should have been given the name. They aimed to raise 200 million dollars for St. Jude and were successful in doing so. The success was in large part due to generous donations from two people heavily involved in the mission, Elon Musk ($50 million) and crew member, Jared Isaacman ($100 million). The flight was operated by SpaceX, founded by Musk, and procured by Isaacman.

After following the Inspiration 4 mission and promoting the virtual run, it made my earlier fundraising efforts seem pretty trivial. I know every bit counts, but $200 million counts a whole lot more than the $250 I raised. Then I realized, I was asking friends and family to donate. These are all people with budgets pretty similar to me when compared to billionaires. They might have donated 10, 20, or 50 dollars, which I greatly appreciate, but I doubt anyone I have in my circle of friends and family is going to donate thousands of dollars (let alone millions) no matter how far I run. That’s when I realized, I should have been asking billionaires to donate.

The Inspiration 4 crew traveled to an altitude of 364 miles, making the round trip (just accounting for distance from earth and back) 728 miles. Strictly considering the distance away from and back to earth, Musk and Isaacman’s per mile donations were $68,681.32 and $137,362.64 respectively. I ran 150 miles at my last race, fueled primarily by carbs and not rocket fuel. If either Musk or Isaacman had pledged the same rate for my run I would have raised $10,302,197.80 from Musk or $20,604,395.60 from Isaacman.


So this is my ask of a billionaire out there. Let’s continue to inspire even after the mission of the Inspiration 4 has been completed. It was an inspiring project to see four civilians travel into orbit. Especially when one of those civilians, Hayley Arceneaux, is a cancer survivor, was a St. Jude patient, and is now a physician assistant at St. Jude. I will be running another race in May 2022, Capital Backyard Ultra, that I plan to go even farther than my last. I would like to attempt to tie another fundraising effort in with this race as I did past ones, but fear the results will be the same as before. Is a 41 year old father of three boys who recovered from a hip surgery and now runs 100+ mile ultras as inspiring as the Inspiration 4 mission? Probably not in most people’s opinions. But maybe it adds a fifth pillar to the four pillars of humanity (leadership, hope, generosity, and prosperity) represented by the four crew members of Inspiration 4. I would suggest that my story and likely even more so many others’ could represent the pillar of persistence, the undying tenacity of the human spirit to continue forth despite undue suffering and grim odds. The quality of persistence is a common recurring trait throughout many of the most influential turning points in human history; doesn’t it deserve a place as one of the pillars of humanity?


If you would like to support my fundraising efforts, donations can be made at my St. Jude Heroes fundraising page. Want to pledge a per mile donation based on how far I run at the Capital Backyard Ultra? Fill out this Google form and donate when the results are posted.


Thank you for any and all support!


Scott Snell
October 16, 2021

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Ramblings On Backyard Ultras and the Undefeatable Human Spirit





I usually plan out my blog posts. I usually don’t put together a formal outline, but I at least have an idea of one in my head and will put at least a few notes or bullet points down on paper prior to beginning to write just to make sure I don’t forget to include any of the major points I intended to cover. This is not one of those posts. Tonight was the first night of running that it finally felt like the temperature dropped after the sunset. I think it was cooler than it has been since early spring this year. It’s strange when it takes a cool run after dark to realize how quickly the seasons are shifting from one to the next. Time doesn’t wait. Night to day, season to season, and year after year. It’s relentless. During this run while thinking about time relentlessly pressing on, I decided I would write this free form, unplanned blog post just to see where it led and what end result would be produced.

The main thing I thought I would write about was how I currently have no races on my schedule and I’m pretty much ok with it. I’m at the point after my last race (almost a month) that I would usually start experiencing some of the post race blues without having the next goal to conquer on my calendar. I’m not really feeling that as much this time or the need to sign up for anything. I’m guessing the reason why is because although I’m not registered for any races as of now, I know I have a race on my agenda next May, the Capital Backyard Ultra (CBU). I earned a guaranteed spot at CBU by winning the Last Squatch Standing this past August. The winner of the 2022 CBU will receive a guaranteed spot on the USA team at the 2022 Big Dog’s Backyard International Satellite Championship. It is a momentous race for me. It is a chance for me to earn a spot to represent the USA in an International competition of the best backyard runners from around the world. It struck me during my run tonight that this could be the most important race of my life. With that thought in my head, I vowed to make the months leading up to it my most focused months of training ever.

If I train hard and smart January through May, I know I’ll be ready for CBU physically. But the mental side of backyards can break you and end your run just as quickly as any physical issue. I was considering a gym membership to increase my running miles starting in January when weather can make outdoor running less enjoyable in my opinion, but I’m not so sure. I began to think that forcing myself out the door in freezing temps and running through slushy streets may help me nurture that determination that’s needed during a backyard ultra to get up and go out for another 4.167 miles when your mind and body may be advising otherwise. I mean that’s all this format is after the physical aspect, just a mental battle between the logical part of your brain that knows this must stop at some point and the other side of your brain that refuses to quit even though your muscles have been relaying the message to your brain that they’re spent.

I can’t explain what it is that keeps other runners going in these backyard races. I’m not even sure what it is for me all the time. I like to think it’s a reflection of my well honed sense of determination. I’m not the greatest or most talented runner, but I am a pretty determined person. I like to think it’s a display of the undefeatable human spirit to not accept defeat even if it seems the mind and body have accepted defeat. I feel that I was on the precipice of that situation a couple times at backyard races. Somehow, I found the will and desire to keep pushing on even when my brain was providing me logical justifications to quit and body parts were signaling their surrender.

I don’t know what will happen at CBU. I hope to have a good day. I hope to run my longest distance ever. I hope to be the last person standing. But hope can be lost quickly during a backyard ultra. The mind can be defeated in unforeseen ways. Some aspects are not in my control. What I can control is my training and my goal for race day. My training will be on point. I am committed to making that happen. My goal is simple, to go out for every loop on the hour until I am either timed out or I am the last person standing.



Scott Snell
9/24/21