50-Mile Ultramarathon: Race Day Tips

April 7th, 2018 by Erin Young
By Erin Young

Feeling Anxious and Nervous

You have trained for your first 50-mile ultramarathon. You have been visualizing your run and you’ve trimmed up the toenails. But you might be a bit anxious and nervous. Doubt is creeping into your psyche. You even had a nightmare that you missed the start of the race. This is perfectly normal. To ease your anxieties, calm your nerves, diminish any doubt, and get you pumped, consider the following tips and what to expect.

What to Pack

Well before the night before you travel to the race site, make a list of everything you need to bring. Check the course for “drop bag”  locations and know where the water stations will be. Put what you will wear on race day in a clear plastic Ziplock. Pack two or three pairs of running shoes and at least three pairs of socks in case the race becomes wet and muddy. Pack a rain jacket, especially if the forecast calls for rain. Arm warmers that go on and off without a wardrobe change, are a lifesaver if you start in the cool morning or run through the night. Pack a hydration bottle/belt/backpack, and a cap to protect you from the rain and the sun. You pack a second set of clothes. Some like to change sweaty running clothes after the first 25 miles.

Pack a small transparent storage container to help you or your crew easily locate the following essentials: body glide, zinc oxide, toenail clippers, tweezers, scissors, ibuprofen, Neosporin, Tiger Balm, bandages, athletic tape, athletic bandages, wipes, tissues, sunscreen, headlamp, flashlight, extra batteries, sunglasses, bug spray, lip balm, Benadryl, vitamins, and duct tape.

If the course is tricky or if you are nervous about zoning out and missing that flag on a turn, also tuck in a copy of the course and aid stations. Put it in a ziplock to keep it dry. Although the aid stations are usually stocked, pack a big cooler with water, your sport drink of choice, coconut water, fruit, and food that you want your crew to feed you throughout the 8 – 13 hour race day. One time I cut up a giant burrito for my crew to dangle in front of me each lap. Turns out it was not that appetizing and the on course broth and grilled cheese had super powers. Just eat what you can stomach. Don’t force anything unless its fluids. You won’t make it far without those.

  What to Expect The Night Before The Race

  1. What to Eat – Some races offer a pasta dinner the night before for a fee. Eat what you are accustomed to eating and what works for you. You don’t need pasta! I like a giant salad with a good protein, just as I do at home.

  2. Lay Out Your Running Clothes – Shorts, running tights, top/tank, sport bra, arm warmers, socks, running shoes, jacket, rain gear, etc. If I am camping, I sleep with them on!
  3. Set Your Alarm – Set 3 alarms! Everyone staying with you should set his/her cell phone alarm.

  4. You Might Not Sleep – I can never sleep the night before an ultra. I toss and turn. I worry the alarm won’t go off and that I will oversleep. You will be ok not having a good night sleep that night prior. It is the days and weeks leading up to it where rest and sleep are crucial.

What to Expect The Morning of The Race

  1. Prepare Your Body – Smear generous amounts of body glide or sport wax around your toes, feet, nipples (guys), below your sport bra (gals), and throughout parts of your body that will chafe.

  2. Dress – Strap on your running watch or other gadget. Dress appropriately for race day weather. Again, arm warmers! If you’re running on a cold day, dress in layers. I like old socks for my hands so I can throw them away when it warms up.

  3. Consume Calories – Eat a breakfast that you know you can stomach. It might not taste good, but eat a little something. Amino Acids prior to race start is a good practice if this is something that is not new.

  4. Butterflies and Diarrhea – It’s an exciting day and you’re a tad nervous. Experiencing butterflies and diarrhea is not uncommon at the start of any race. If you can’t go to the bathroom, a little warm salt water can help, but a little nervousness usually does the trick.

  5. Pack Your Car – Don’t forget your bib number, timing chip, extra running gear, cooler, and the container with the essentials.

During The Run

  1. Start Slow – An ultra is an endurance run, not a sprint! You can’t win a 50 mile race in the first mile, but you sure can lose it!  Plan on giving yourself walk breaks! If your goal is to finish, walk early in the race and you will feel much better that last 10!

  2. Bask in Nature’s Beauty – Enjoy the sunrise, the sunset, and the bright rainbow that adorns the sky after a rainfall. Enjoy that you CAN do this… not everyone has the ability.

  3. Hydrate – Always fill your bottle at the aid stations. If you arrive with a full bottle that is a red flag that you aren’t sipping enough. Eating small amounts frequently is usually easier than a small meal. Take small bites and keep moving your feet. Be mindful to drink or consume some electrolytes and not just water.

  4. Take Care of Your Feet– If your feet get wet, it is wise to change socks or even shoes. If the blister feels small, take care of it early to avoid a major problem later on. Unless it is hurting, avoid popping a blister. The fluid in the blister is healing. I prefer to put a good amount of neosporin over the blister and cover with athletic or duct tape. I like duct because that is not coming off!

  5. You Might Bite It– If you trip over a tree root, a rock, or slip on a switchback or in a creek, dust yourself off and carry on! You will likely fall later in the race when you are fatigued and fantasizing about an ice cold beer.

  6. Carry Wipes – Depending on the course, there will be moments when the woods are the only place to go. Don’t litter and be mindful of poison ivy. And check out Tom’s wipes if you’re a little chapped!

  7. Thank The Aid Station Volunteers, Race Directors, and Your Crew – They are on their feet longer than you are!

You Are A Rare Breed May you run many more!

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TransRockies Run: Summer Run Camp for Adults and at Least 10 Reasons You Should Consider it

August 21st, 2016 by Erin Young

All 500+ runners pumped up and ready to start the 120 mile journey from Buena Vista tomorrow.

13895525_10153954939079217_7824321277672351084_n.jpg (960×720)I don’t even know how to start explaining the TransRockies Run. How do you sum up 120 miles over six days, with 20,000 feet of elevation gain? My objective here is for you, my reader friend, to believe that you can do such a thing. Because it’s true. And for you to understand why you would want do such a thing.

Team OAM NOW athlete with the King… Max King. If you don’t know who he is, just pick up any Trail Runner magazine and you’ll find him 5 times.

TransRockies is a unique experience. Starting at Buena Vista, CO already at 7,965 ft elevation, the event kicks off the night prior to the start with a race briefing. Run by Canadians, the tone is set, and from here to the infamous “Stage 7”, everyone here, came to have fun. Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors athlete and TRR finisher, Tammy Shuler advises, “Talk to everyone and don’t take the event too seriously.” You’ll be disappointed if you do. For the next 6 days you are camping under the Colorado stars. Some nights have music, a campfire, s’mores, and even a beer mile for you elites, but every night has showers, dinner, and a slideshow of pictures of the day. There is a shady hangout, post run, where you rub elbows with the elite (Max King and Nikki Kimball are two of my favorites!), and meet people from around the world. This year, there were over 20 countries represented! The people you meet here are people who are good to the core. People who remind you that the world is kind and happy. People who share their chapstick and Body Glide.  

The crew from Kalamazoo at the start of Stage 3 in Leadville. Stage 3 is 24.5 miles with 2, 700 ft of climbing.

Each day the TRR Canadian crew gets you pumped at a new starting point. All you have to do is pack up your human sized duffle that is provided by the event and pass it to a friendly crew member where they transport it to your next camp for the night. Where do you sleep? Tent city is awaiting you. You don’t even have to set up your own tent. Just use what remaining oxygen you have left in your lungs to blow up your sleep mat and call it home for the evening. Breakfast and coffee(really good coffee) is hot and waiting for you each morning.  There is even running at sinks to brush your teeth. Not as posh as home but you will likely make a new friend while flossing.  

Stage 1 is relatively “flat” with only 2,500 ft of climbing, but very hot and dry. It finishes 20.8 miles later at the ice cold Arkansas River, perfect for soaking tired legs.

Runner’s average 20 miles a day, for six days.  The last three days are spectacular! There is a 3 day run option, but you are really shorting yourself and you’ll be sad when you have to go home and camp moves on. I did that my first year thinking I couldn’t possibly do the six. But then I had to come back the following year because I knew I was missing something too great to pass up. Then I had to come a third year because I was in love with the people and it was what made summer feel like a true summer. Every runner has to carry emergency gear after day one. Because of the possibility of violent fast approaching weather, it is required to carry a hat, gloves, jacket and an emergency blanket, as well as adequate hydration. Tammy also suggests, “walk the climbs and run the downhills.” Wise advice, since running these Colorado Rocky Mountain grades is often, just as slow as walking and a lot more work to run.

Hope’s Pass is a long, steep climb to 12,536 ft, but runner’s are rewarded with an exhilarating downhill back to 9,211 ft.

    Training for this event is a whole topic on its own. But I promise it is attainable for any working person as long as you enjoy trail running. Are you a backpacker? This is totally up your alley. Cyclist? You have the aerobic capacity and strong legs. Coming from Michigan, the altitude alone will make running more challenging for even well trained athletes. You can’t worry about that. Relentlessly work on improving your aerobic fitness and get strong. This means being okay with slow and easy. Runs are more like an adventure and time on your feet. Miles mean very little. A few weekends running/hiking back to back long runs at MAF or your aerobic base and you have what it takes. You may spot a rabbit or two, so you can Purchase firearms and accessories at palmettostatearmory.com. The downhills are far more abusive than the climbing. Find a nice long down grade and repeat. If you are from Michigan, repeat a lot. And plan on doing this in the shoes you will actually wear. Shoes treat your feet well on flats could be shoes that eat your toes on downhills. When I say get strong, I mean hit the gym in the winter. Focus on core and quad strength as well as agility. I had more than one fall where a winter of push ups saved me from broken teeth.  
Camp Hale is where runners spend the night at the end of day 3 and 4.

Camp Hale is where runners spend the night at the end of day 3 and 4.

If I haven’t convinced you that 6 days of all inclusive “luxury” camping with inspiring people is reason enough to add TransRockies Run to your bucket list, the scenery is spectacular! You climb mountains guys! And when you finally reach the top where the sky opens up to endless rows of rugged Rocky Mountains, your heart is beating so hard that you can feel it in your ears! The feeling that you made it there on your own, in the heart of the Rockies, is unmatched. And every day is completely unique. The scenery never gets old (though you may have to look through some dark patches in your soul from time to time, but I promise, they go away).   And if you aren’t yet convinced that this event is something you should try, there is a better reason. My favorite reason, and the reason I’ve gone back four times… this experience changes YOU.  This event isn’t about racing the course from A to B as fast as you can for the majority of us. This event taught me to be smart, and run smart. TransRockies taught me about dealing with perceived hardships and continuing through dark moment when you think you can’t. It taught me to look closer at people to understand their intentions and read their needs. This event taught me to see the beauty of people. There is profound kindness and contageous happiness and courage in people who appreciate nature. TransRockies reminds me to appreciate the beauty and the power of our land. The mountains are breathtaking and humbling to say the least. I know to respect the mountains. There are no mountains on my run routes now, but I have a renewed vision of the sandhill cranes in the cornfields and the turquoise blue Gull Lake. Nothing looks the same after TransRockies.
Vail Pass on Stage 5

Vail Pass on Stage 5 consists of 24.1 miles, 4,100 ft of climbing and arguably the best scenery.

  It’s hard to limit what I say about this event. I have so many happy memories. I finish each time, sore and physically and mentally exhausted. Everytime I think, “I don’t need to do that again”. The soreness, fatigue and sometimes swelling fade. But the memories of Trans Rockies tug at me all year long. It isn’t long before it sounds like a great idea to go back and see my dirtbag runner, summertime friends.08_11_16_TRRM_0466-ZF-2078-03556-1-001-015 IMG_2341               If all of this sounds intriguing visit TransRockies Run and tell them Erin sent you!   The post TransRockies Run: Summer Run Camp for Adults and at Least 10 Reasons You Should Consider it appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.

Two Great Tri Clinics, One Place: Presented by Team OAM NOW & Athletic Mentors

January 12th, 2016 by Erin Young
unnamed-1TRI 101:  Presented by Team OAM NOW & Athletic Mentors
This is a great clinic to come hear what Triathlon is all about.  If you have been considering doing a TRI or have done a few and are looking for tips to improve, this will be time well spent!
Where:  Downtown YMCA
When:  Saturday, January 16th 9:00am- 10:15am
Swim Technique & Training:   Presented by Team OAM NOW & Athletic Mentors
Open to all levels, but geared toward athletes looking to step beyond beginner. Swim stroke technique discussions and training recommendations.
Where:  Downtown YMCA
When:  Saturday, January 16th 10:30am – 11:30am

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Pro Bike: Kaitlyn Patterson’s Winning LIV Lust 27.5

December 14th, 2015 by Erin Young

Few mountain bikes come from the dealer ready to race. Even the highest level models need some adjustments or small equipment swaps to meet the racer’s build, style, and preference. But, what happens when a rider buys a mid-level, quality-designed bike with no real intent on high level racing and then finds herself quickly ascending through the sport over the next 18 months? In the case of Team OAM NOW rider Kaitlyn Patterson‘s full suspension Giant, it meant lots of changes.

This rig netted a slew of podiums, including wins at Ore to Shore, Peak to Peak, and 2nd and 5th, respectively, at Chequamegon 40.

This rig netted a slew of podiums in ’15, including wins at: Ore to ShorePeak2PeakGravel Grinder and 2nd and 5th, respectively, at Chequamegon 40 and Iceman.

A Rocks Brothers post reduces weight and adds some style. KP like her Salle Italia SLR Lady saddle. Pit stop sealant handles the little punctures.

Rock Brothers post reduces weight and offset, and adds some style. KP likes her Selle Italia SLR Lady saddle. Pit Stop sealant handles the little punctures.

Stan's ZTR Podium 27.5 wheels are run tubeless with sealant, wrapped by Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires, chosen for their great all-around performance.

Stan’s ZTR Podium 27.5 wheels are run tubeless with sealant, wrapped by 2.25 Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires, chosen for their great all-around performance. KP ran them at 18 and 22 psi (F/R) for Iceman. The Q15mm front hub keeps steering stiff and responsive.

KP's bike started as a LIV Lust 2. The award winning Maestro suspension gives 4 inches of quality travel and the 27.5 wheels quick reflexes and big wheel stability.

KP’s bike started as a LIV Lust 2, size Medium. The award winning Maestro suspension gives 4 inches of quality travel and the 27.5 wheels offer light weight, quick reflexes and big wheel stability.

Front Wheel C RS

Rock Shox XX fork holds up the front. A hydraulic suspension lockout can firm up both ends of the suspension. The OEM Shimano caliper clamps an Alligator Windcutter rotor.

The cockpit is set up with 22 inch Truvativ Noir carbon straight bars, Shimano Deore brake levers, a SRAM XO rotary shifter and stock grips. The lockout is to the left. A Garmin 520 notifies of additional Strava segments mastered.

The cockpit is set up with 22 inch Truvativ Noir carbon straight bars, Shimano Deore brake levers, a SRAM XO rotary shifter and stock grips. The lockout is to the left.

The Lust uses a hydro formed Aluxx Aluminum frame for stiffness, with Giant's 3F, women's specific geometry.

The Lust uses a hydroformed Aluxx aluminum frame for light weight and stiffness, with Giant’s 3F, women’s specific geometry. A Blackburn carbon cage does water bottle duty and a XX shock provides the rear suspension.

For a more athletic posture, the Lust swapped the original stem for a 90 x 30 degree Contact SL, run inverted. A mounted Garmin 520 notifies of additional Strava segments mastered.

For a more athletic posture, the Lust swapped the original stem for a 90 x 30 degree Contact SL, run inverted. A mounted Garmin 520 notifies of additional Strava segments mastered.

The Lust was converted to a 1x system, with a 32t RaceFace chainring mounted to the OEM SRAM S1000 crank arms, gold KMC chain, and SRAM PG1070 10spd, 11-36t cassette. A SRAM X9 derailuer handles the shifting and the OEM Shimano caliper clamps a SRAM rotor.

The Lust was converted to a 1x system, with a 32t RaceFace chainring mounted to the OEM SRAM S1000 crank arms, gold KMC chain with Squirt Wet lube, and SRAM PG1070 10spd, 11-36t cassette. A SRAM X9 derailuer handles the chain movement, with an OEM Shimano caliper clamping a SRAM rotor.

When the modifications were done*, Kaitlyn had personalized her Lust to get the most from the responsive frame. Only the brake caliper and levers, crankarms and grips remained from the original purchase.  And if you’ve followed Kaitlyn at all this season, you can’t argue this is one fast bike!

* Kaitlyn would like to give a great thanks to Team OAM NOW team mate Alex Vanias for all the work he did wrenching on her bike and making it the race winning machine it is.




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Athletic Mentors Coaching Gets Team OAM NOW Runner on the Podium and the Path to the Western States Endurance Run

September 19th, 2015 by Erin Young


What would you do to get into the famous Western States Endurance Run? The world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race that only lets 369 hearty soles purchase a bib to run up 18,000  and descend 23,000 feet of Sierra Nevada mountains? For some of us long distance trail runners, we are happy to run 100 miles just to prove that we can handle such an event. To even be able to enter into the lottery of the WSER, you have to complete an approved 100 mile race within the event’s time limit. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t dream of doing the WSER. It scared me enough to not enter for several years. But the more it scared me, the more I was intrigued by it.

After having my first baby 7 months ago, I thought it was ridiculous to think I could even attempt to run a qualifying event so that I could get my ticket into the lottery. As I continued to struggle through runs and worry about the extra weight I now carried, I still thought… maybe I can. I kept at it and was feeling pretty good about my running and soon I was thinking, I can finish, but it won’t be pretty.


The coaches of Athletic Mentors, Cheryl Sherwood , Cricket Howard and Mark Olson, together helped me get my head on straight. With just a few conversations, I not only knew I could do it, but I believed I could do it, and do it well.  I had to believe that I could do it and WANT to do it. I had to keep believing that I AM going to do it. Using my daily run data, Mark walked me through a plan each week. As we got closer to the event, we spoke each day. I’ve never felt so relaxed in those last few days before an event. I had complete trust in my training and the coaches of Athletic Mentors.


Cheryl joins me at mile 85 for the final loop. If it weren’t for her company, I may have taken a trail nap.


The Woodstock Hallucination 100 was going to be my ticket in. The event was 6 loops through the very runnable Pinckney Recreation Area. I had a dream team of supporters… seriously. My mom, Tammy and Joe, stayed up all night to greet me each loop. Joe was in charge since he knew exactly how to keep me and my head in the race. After two loops, pacers were allowed. Liz kept me positive with light hearted girl talk. Joe got me through the coldest, wettest and darkest hours of that night. Scott, my future Trans Rockies Run partner,  and I chatted into daylight (I think he is going to be an awesome partner next summer!). Cheryl, Team Manager of Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors ran with me my final loop. Each one of my pacers contributed to a fun and successful 100 miles. And yes, I said fun. I never once thought that I wouldn’t make it during the run. It was an absolute high to see my crew on every loop and I was so excited to see them. There were times I felt lousy, but I knew I’d feel good soon. Mark had given me simple, but very wise advice, “You’ll feel great and want take off, stay patient. You’ll feel bad at times, but you’ll get over it.” This was the first time I’ve ever followed coaching advice explicitly through a training plan, and I followed his advice to the end of the event.


Earned my ticket! Now I just need to be lucky on December 5th!



I wish I could write about a more eventful 100 miles. But truthfully, it wasn’t eventful at all. The race went perfectly. My body and mind cooperated. No stomach troubles, no blisters, just a little sleepy at times. This was a perfect race. I never thought I could get under 24 hours in my first try at 100 miles. I did because I was patient. Just that steady pace Mark told me to stick with got me in at 21:08. It was an extra special finish to be 2nd Overall Female, and 9th in the overall race. That made me feel fantastic! So, my advice if you ever want to do well in an event that you worry you can’t do… keep those positive people close and let them help you, BELIEVE that you can do it, and get Mark Olson as a coach!

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