Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tim Kruse- From Half to Hundred

Tim Kruse training on the Frozen Gnome 50k/10k race course in Sternes Woods
I met Tim in late 2012 when he came to a talk put on by Cari Setzler at The Running Depot in Crystal Lake, IL. At the time a half marathon was the farthest distance Tim had run. He was interested in a training program being hosted by The Running Depot and Fast Finish Coaching. It was a program written by Cari Setzler and coached by Cari and I. It was designed to get runners ready to run Earth Day 50k. Tim signed up for the program and soon started demolishing his goals and setting new ones. His final race for the season was a finish at Cactus Rose 100 in Texas. One of the most difficult 100 mile races in the USA.

I sat down with Tim to ask him a few questions about his exciting year:

Did you start the year out with any specific running goals?

I came into the year wanting to run my first marathon, do another Tough Mudder, and maybe a Spartan Race.  I was turning 40 so I wanted this year to be kind of special from a fitness standpoint. 

Tim Kruse at a Tough Mudder race

What races did you run this year?

Frozen Gnome 10k, Crystal Lake, IL
Shamrock Shuffle 8K
Gladiator Assault Challenge
Tough Mudder Chicago
SpartanRace Midwest Super Spartan
Earth Day 50k, Crystal Lake IL
North Country 50 miler
Rock Cut Triple Crown Series Finisher (Age group winner). Rockford, IL

Wow, that was quite a jump from your original goals for the year. Do you have one race that you are particularly proud of and why? 

I think I’m most proud of Earth Day 50k, my first ultra.  I really had no clue what I was doing, or really what it meant, I just knew I wanted to finish the race.  It’s a local race run by the MUDD Ultrarunning club, great course, well run with awesome volunteers. 

What was it like running your first 50k?

It was a new kind of hurt, especially miles 20-25 were the toughest, in training I hadn't gone over 18 miles because of an injury.  I think having a coach and a schedule on your first attempt makes it easier.  You get to rely on training when things aren't going your way.  The race was a great one to pick, Earth Day 50K, because it was local and the volunteers were just awesome.  It was definitely a gateway into longer distances.   
Tim Kruse coming to
finish line of North Country
50 mile-his 1st 50

What was the most important lesson you learned this year about running ultras?

I think learning from others' mistakes and successes, patience, and how to pace the distance properly for "my race" are my takeaways this year.  I think it took me until the Hobo Runs in Rockford to feel like I was starting to get things right.  I take the approach as I know nothing, and as long as I know nothing, I'm teachable.  I try not to get cocky, I don't get too high, too low, just rock steady in the middle.   

Tell me a little more about your 100 mile race. What was the course like? 

Tim Kruse at Finish line of Cactus Rose
100- One of the toughest 100s
in the USA
Course description: "No Whiners, Wimps, or Wusses : A nasty rugged trail run with Bonus Points for Blood, Cuts, Scrapes, & Puke. The course is best described as rough & knarly (technical)... understanding we made every attempt to avoid what is flat to find what is nasty. It was built more for entertainment than speed." This is the description from the Cactus Rose website and it describes the course perfectly.

What was going through your mind as you were running all those miles? 

As I went over 50 miles into uncharted territory I kept thinking that I only had 45 left, 35 left, 50K left, 2 aid stations left.  It made the race smaller and more manageable.  Even though I really enjoy running in the dark, I think one of the most amazing things is the sunrise on day 2 of an ultra.  They say it gives you a recharge and it did for me, what a blessing to look out over Texas Hill Country, there's so much life in a seemingly desolate place.  The last mile was the hardest on my body and the easiest on my mind.  My feet were so blistered I could barely walk, and and I had come to the realization that I was really going to finish, even if I crawled in the last half mile.        

Did you ever dream that one day you would be a 100 mile finisher?

No, this was like something someone else does, but not me.  It wasn't even a goal or a thought at the beginning of the year.  I think those around me knew that I could do it before I even thought about attempting it.  I still think I have to do it again because I'm so new to ultra running, and in some ways it's almost like I'm not really getting what it means to finish a 100.  I keep thinking if I did it, maybe it's not that hard.  I think the funny thing was people out on the course would ask me in bewilderment, "Why the hell would you chose Cactus Rose as your first 100?"  So maybe it was hard, but I'm still too much of a newb to know.    

What did you do for training? Is there any one or two things in training that you did that you feel helped in your training?

The heart of my training has been time on feet running, but for Cactus Rose 100, I had completed the North Country Run 50 mile race at the end of August, and then a 52 mile stage race 3 weeks later.  The 6 weeks leading up to Cactus Rose 100 I made a plan that had back to back long runs of 24-28 miles on Saturday and then 10-15 on Sunday plus a mid-week long run of 12-15 miles if I didn’t do speed work.  I think the thing that helped me out the most was hitting the gym and lifting weights.  As a speed work/strength workout I would run a mile at lactic acid threshold, stop and do a circuit of 25 frontal squats with 95lb, 25 deadlifts with 95lb, 25 kettle bell swings, and then do walking lunges with 20lb dumbbells 10 steps out and back.  I would do this for at least 6 miles and then a 2 mile cool down.  Sometimes I would hop on the stair master, bike, or elliptical as the cardio to change things up.  I’d do this on a Tuesday or Wednesday so it wouldn’t affect my long runs on the weekend.  I was also do a core routine several times a week.  I did a full 3 week taper with running, stopped lifting 2 weeks out, and the week of the race I focused on rest and stretching.    

What kind of shoe do you like to wear?  
Inov-8 Trailroc 245

My favorite shoe is the Inov-8 Trailroc 245 newer red color.  I wore this shoe at North Country Run 50 mile, Hobo Runs 50K, and Cactus Rose 100.

What do you use for nutrition?

On the 100 mile race I mostly used Ensure Plus and coconut water at aid stations.  I like to have Clif Shot Bloks Black Cherry with me at all times rather than gels and Raw Revolution bars have worked out really good.  I stay away from peanuts because of a slight reaction, and anything that has sugar alcohols in it like xylitol, mannitol, or sorbitol.     

What does your family think of your running adventures?

My wife has been very supportive with giving me the time to train and explore the world of ultra-running, but it takes its toll especially since we have young children in the house.  I’m looking forward to some dates with the wife and movies with the kids this winter.  I’ve also been told by other family members, we don’t’ understand why you’re doing this, in fact it’s crazy, but we’re proud you. 

Is there anything you would like to share?

This adventure will definitely continue.

Tim with his training and racing
partners in a Tough Mudder event

Monday, November 18, 2013

MUDD Poker Run 2013

MUDD Poker Run 2013

Thank you to Keith Daniels and Julie Bane for starting this great MUDD tradition of having a Poker Run! Keith was out a few times during the week and then again on the Poker run morning; creating and marking a fun 3.75 mile course winding through prairie and single track at Veteran Acres/Sternes Woods park.


1.Have fun!

2. You get 2 cards at the beginning of the run to start your hand.

3. Every loop ran you could receive 2 cards. But you could not ever have more than 5 cards in your hand. If you had 5 cards you had to turn in 1 or 2 cards to receive another card.

4. Run as many loops as you like. Eat treats. Socialize and have fun!

5. Best hand at the end of the day won the very special Poker Run trophy

They are off on a 3+ mile hilly loop through the beautiful trails of
Veteran Acres and Sternes Woods
John and Nandini mastering the Carina pose
Bad A$$ club- the final four running
Pouring rain, high winds, and dodging lightning bolts did not slow them down
All the extra mileage these hard cores ran didn't help them
win the best hand at the Poker run
Michael Johnson, Brandi Henry, Jean Lenard, Carl Galdine

Blair Piotrowski was award Poker Run Champ 2013 with 4 of a kind

Blair Piotrowski MUDD Poker Run Champ 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

North West trail run 5 & 10 miler- MUDD Ultrarunning Dudes & Dudettes aid station

Runners heading out of Sternes Woods MUDD aid station -North West trail run
photo credit Royal Hartwig

MUDDers getting the aid station prepared for the runners
Geoff Moffat, Michele Hartwig, Julie Bane, Jean Lenard, Jeff Lenard, Tim Kruse, Tasha, Nick

1st and 2nd overall for the 5 mile race
on a final sprint to the finish line
Mark Jensen is 13 years old. I am a big
fan of this kind young man.
He was beat out only by a nose. I'm so proud
of Mark. His father Bill Jensen is my
good friend and trainer. Final time 34:15 for 5 miles.

The MUDD Ultrarunning Dudes & Dudettes have been "manning" the aid station at the North West trail run in Crystal Lake, IL for 4 years. The weather was beautiful and all the runners had a great time. You can't beat the trails at Veteran Acres/Sternes Woods. The MUDDers look forward to volunteering at this race every year! It's a wonderful tradition.

The race director of the North West trail run is Bob Walsh. Bob is a great member of the running community in Crystal Lake. He is always there to help others. Bob will be hosting a 5k Turkey Trot at Lippold Park in Crystal Lake on Thanksgiving morning. The race is FREE. You just have to bring a donation of food or money for the Crystal Lake Food pantry. If you bring money in form of a check please have it made out to the Crystal Lake Food pantry because they can make that money go farther at the grocery store than Bob can. It's a great way to start your Thanksgiving morning.

Tim Kruse and Geoff Moffat waiting to direct runners
North West Trail run

Leaders in the 10 mile North West Trail run race
Christopher (Coco) Rodriguez

Runners heading into the MUDD Ultrarunning Dudes & Dudettes
aid station at Sternes Woods- North West Trail Run

Geoff Moffat directing runners
North West Trail run- MUDD aid station

North West trail run
Killer hill at mile 4

North West Trail run
nearing the top of the killer hill
Jeff Lenard, Michele Hartwig, and Sarah Finn Young.
Sarah was so fantastic! She was so kind to come out and thank Jeff and I
after the race. She told us our words kept her going. This is the note she sent us when she got home:
"Thank you for everyone who came out to support running today. My name is Sarah Young and today was the first time I did 5 mile run/walk. Also first trail run. I was nearly ready to pack it in and just finish walking when I hit the water stand. There were 2 people who encourage me to keep going, I did. They reminded me that it was to be fun. Today left an impact in my heart, and for that I say Thank you."

My daughter Tasha and her friend Nick

Jeff Lenard and I directing runners at a tricky corner. I jumped from
station to station bringing cookies to everyone.

Tricky photography of runners by my son Royal Hartwig

The Headless Helpers

North West trail run heading into the MUDD aid station

Ben Willis, Mark Perry, and Sarah Willis are human arrows
at the North West Trail run

North West trail run- Leaving MUDD aid station
Mark Perry, Julie Bane, Jean Lenard
North West trail run- Gerome greeting the runners as they
head into the MUDD aid station

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cactus Rose 100- Only those who risk going to far can possibly find out how far they can go- T.S. Eliot

Holly- toughest lady I know
Me the night before the race

I tried, I DNF'd, but that will not be the end of the story. I went on this adventure with my friends Holly and Tim. It was my first try at a "more difficult" 100 mile race. Not that running any 100 is easy, but I know which kind of 100's I can finish, and I wanted to challenge myself to something new. The idea of finishing this race scared and excited me. It drove me in training, it was something I had to do. My friends and I planned to run the entire race together. We had trained together and we had a vision of the 3 of us crossing the finish line together; holding hands, with our arms raised high in the air. That vision is still there, it will just have to wait for 2014 to happen. I was sad. It takes many, many training runs to get to the starting line of a 100. You dream of a race all year- and when you figure out on the course it's not going to happen, it's tough. So now I've started this race, I learned lessons I needed to learn and I am prepared for my next run at it. The dream is not lost.

Despite the disappointment of not getting to finish I had many things to be thankful for. My friends of course. I loved being with them all weekend. We laughed a lot, worked through some tough miles and made memories that we will treasure forever. The people of Texas were great, so welcoming. The runners in the race, the RD's, the finish line volunteers, they all were very supportive. It's a great community.

As far as the race- First off the course is awesome. I loved it and I miss it already! I can't wait to go back! I'm a cowgirl at heart and I love cowboy country! It is rugged, rough, and beautiful. The terrain is dry, sharp, various sized loose rocks. Parts of the course are run-able and parts are steep climbs and descents. On top of the climbs you can see breathtaking landscape for miles. The course had many huge Sotel patches. They were tall, grand and in full bloom. These plants had leaves with little teeth that cut you up. There was no way to avoid them, you just had to barrel through.
Close up picture of a Sotel. These plants were taller than us.

Camping at the start finish line is really easy. It only cost 10 bucks per car for the whole weekend. There was a nice wide open field to put up your tent.

My tent is the big one with awesome views of Hill country 
The race does not supply food or have any volunteers at aid stations. You drop your drop bags off at designated spots the night before then pick them up after you run the race. This was really easy and it only took about 30 minutes to drop off and pick up. The race supplied an unlimited amount of water and ice. It was about 5 miles between every aid station and every 25 miles you got back to the start/finish line. When you went back out you got to run the course the opposite of the last time.

Pre-race directions the night before
I barely ever eat any of the food at aid stations so bringing my own food was no big deal.  The aid stations always had a ton of ice with scoopers in it. The ice was clean. I get easily grossed out and I put the ice in my water bottle at every aid station. The race organizers did a great job at everything.

The race is described perfectly when it says on the website "We avoid anything flat to take you on all that is rugged and nasty".  The race director says everyone reads the website but does not believe the course is as tough as they describe. Believe it. In Ultrarunning Magazine Cactus Rose is rated tougher than Sawtooth. My girlfriend Holly has ran Sawtooth and she agrees with that statement. It is a beast, but it is not impossible. It kicked my butt but I will miss it every day until I get to go back. I will start this race again, and next time I will make it to that finish line.

Tim Kruse was the only one of our group that made it to the finish line. It was his first 100 mile race. He did a great job. At mile 50 Holly and I were pretty beat up and he looked like he had just started a 5 mile run. We were both so happy and proud of him. Holly went to High school with Tim and they just reconnected in the last year. They thought it was pretty funny that they used to work together in high school and now 20+ years later they are running a 100 mile race together.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Team RWB- Chicago Chapter runs with MUDD Ultrarunning Dudes & Dudettes

Team RWB Chicago Chapter and the MUDD club
It was a beautiful fall day for a run on our home trails! We were blessed to have the Chicago Chapter of Team RWB, come out to run with us MUDDers at Veteran Acres in Crystal Lake, IL! Team RWB was so generous bringing bagels, coffee and rolls.

We broke up into a few different pace and distance groups. Everyone had a great time! Thank you so much Team RWB! It was a special day! We look forward to sharing some trails with you again soon.

photo credit Katrina Strich (Allison Caldwell, Dave Caldwell, Brandi Henry)

If you are interested in joining Team RWB here is a link to the website

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cactus Rose 100- It's almost here!

Cactus Rose 100:  Bandera, Texas - October 26, 2013 
Race start: 5am Saturday  (36 hour time limit)  
Race description-
No Whiners, Wimps, or Wusses : A nasty rugged trail run
Bonus Points for Blood, Cuts, Scrapes, & Puke

"Sounds like fun- let's sign up!!!"-Michele, Holly, Tim

I'm road tripping to this race with 2 of my dear friends, Holly and Tim.  We are camping at the race start.  It will be Tim's first 100 mile race. WooHoo! He is going to do great! We all are! Planning, training and talking about training together has been a lot of fun. I am grateful to get to share this experience with my crazy friends!

Training has been going well. During the last 5 weeks I have ramped up my weekends with solid long runs. Running 22-26 miles on Saturdays. I have done these runs on the most rugged  trails I can find near my home. Then I backed these up with a 10 to 16 mile run on Sunday. I've also gotten out on the trails at night during the week for a medium length run. I used these runs for speed work, running the first half easy then finishing up at tempo to marathon pace. I run 5-7 days a week.  Every week the runs have gotten easier and easier. Now it's time to put it together for 100 miles! 

A little about the race...

The race is self supported.  You arrive at your drop bags every 5 miles. I've been planning my drop bags for weeks. One thing I got that I'm pretty excited about is self heating cans of Chicken Soup. Hot chicken soup has brought me back from the dead at 100 mile races so this was a great find. Other supplies include ensure, fruit, paydays, homemade almond bars, Sprite, S Caps, and Wet ones. The race supplies ice, water and a well marked 25 mile looped course. The course direction changes after each loop.

36 hours is a long cut off time. Most 100's are 30 hours. A long cut off time is a sign of a really tough course.

Creepy Critter WARNING- It's been said we need to watch out for Giant rattlesnakes on the course. I found this picture on the Internet of a rattlesnake caught in Texas in the general area of the race. I'm not sure you can believe everything you read on the Internet, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared...

Giant Texas size rattlesnakes- "Everything is bigger in Texas"

Never hurts to be prepared....


1 medium-sized rattlesnake (3-4 lbs.), cut into steaks 
1/2 cup flour 
1/4 cup cornmeal 
1/4 cup cracker crumbs 
1/2 cup milk 
1 egg 
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt) 
1 teaspoon salt 
dash pepper 

Mix dry ingredients. Whisk milk into beaten egg and use to dip snake steaks. Then coat them with dry ingredients. Fry, uncovered, in 400 degree oil until brown. 

Haha!!! Hope we don't need to use this recipe! All kidding aside. I am really looking forward to this challenge. I can't wait to see my Texas friends! Yee Haw!!! Let's do this!
~Happy trails - Michele

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Rock Cut- Triple Crown race series

We all had a great time at the Rock Cut Hobo Run race weekend! The Hobo races have reasonable prices and plenty of swag. The race is held at Rock Cut State park which has great campground. We got a group together and rented 3 campsites. Park rules allow 3 tents on each site and we were filled to capacity with tents, MUDDers, love and laughter!

Trying to photo bomb Gerome

 Hobo Triple Crown Race Results

Friday- 10k night run
dry, cool, pr weather
Saturday- 25k
Sunny and beautiful, great day for a run
Sunday- 50k
major downpour, trails were MUDDy
Caveman and Momma Caveman! Nice 25k finish (11 years old)

Congratulations on great runs from our MUDD camping crew-

Shelley Cook for finishing 1st overall Female in the Triple Crown Series!

Alec Bath 3rd overall in 25k!

Imola Hablik son ran the 25k. He is 11 years old! Imola Hablik finished the 25k with her son. It was a PR distance for both of them.

Blair Piotrowski finished the Triple Crown with Age Group awards! 

Timothy Kruse finished the Triple Crown with a age group award!

Todd Brown on killing the 50k after killing the 50k at North Face in Wisconsin the day before! B2B50k weekend!

The rest of us went to cheer, support, and squeeze in some training miles! I know I've never laughed so hard. It was fun to meet Roxie who was a sweet camping dog. A fabulous weekend Giggle Fest! I am so thankful for great friends.

Selfie by Runnerpics photographer Scott Laudick!
Lot's of laughing around the campfire

Me and my sweet daughter at the night 10k

Gerome and crew sitting around the campfire

This was when our "camp circle" was still small

Scott Laudick, Geoff Moffat, Andrea Pate

Scott Laudick and Geoff Moffat had a way with the kids....as well as the sweet tea and maple syrup

Alec Bath, Shelley Cook