Study of Two Western Staters

Grand-Canyon-041 In the second installment on Western States fueling strategies we interview Matt Keyes (MK) and Jamie Frink (JF), two WS veterans and race ringers, to determine if life follows fact.

Jamie’s resume includes three sub-24 hour WS finishes – 2009 8th, 2010 16th and 2011 14th.

Matt has completed five WS races, with the most recent four, sub-24 hour finishes.

Daily nutrition and race day fueling seem to be a continual subject of conversation, question and confusion. In my experience working with prominent science-based sports nutritionists on the US National Cycling team as well as my professional cycling teams, and currently Dana Liis, lead nutritionist for the Canadian national teams –it’s the same basic, albeit boring, story –  the appropriate balance of carbs, proteins and fats, and good quality food choices constitute nutritional cornerstones. As with everything – we need to individualize our nutrition and fueling by taking time to fine tune these guidelines to our circumstances, response/tolerance and goals. It may not sell books, magazines or products – and may not constitute the quick fix, silver bullet some seek – but with thoughtful consistency it is effective.

Matt and Jamie’s nutritional practices seem to be text book – fueling tricks of their trail feats as follows…

Day to Day
MK: “I am diligent about topping off with carbohydrates within 30 minutes following each of my runs to replace glycogen stores and insure the muscles and liver are loaded.”

JF: “Throughout the year, I follow a balanced (no extremes) diet of carbs, proteins and fats, and try to make good food choices.”

Race Eve
MK: “I eat a giant bean and rice burrito the night before the race and chase it with some dark beer (and water). “

JF: “The night before I cook chicken, pasta, pine nuts and vegetables, while relaxing with my pre-night race ritual – a pedicure complete with paint, while watching movies.”

Race Morning
MK: “I eat yogurt, fruit, granola, a cup of coffee, some low fat milk.”

JF: “I go with coffee, a bagel and peanut butter, but race nerves make it tough to get it down.”

Once the Gun Goes Off
MK: “During the race I shoot for 200-300 calories per hour – the majority solid aid station foods – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, potatoes, bananas and melon. Between aid stations I gel up, trying to east something every 30 minutes. I drink a mix of GU Brew electrolyte drink and water for the first half or 2/3 of the race then switch to a mix of sprite/7up and water (on the rocks). After mile 75, most of my calories come from sodas as my appetite subsides, even Gus are a challenge to choke down.”

JF: “I grab a handful of something at every aid station, even if I am not hungry I “force” feed a few bites – half a banana, peanut butter and jelly, potatoes – many times just grabbing and stashing in zip lock baggies for the trail ahead. During the first half I make a conscious effort to avoid sugar, caffeine and pain killers (boring!). But from Foresthill in – I cut loose, double fisting Gu and caffeine.  I let thirst be my guide (as experts advise) for hydration.”

Jamie’s must haves on her WS movable feast, thanks to her roving crew – tuna fish sandwiches on white bread, complete with mayo, V8 juice and white powdered donuts (if not devoured by crew first).

Inquiring Minds want to know – Drop Bags?
MK: “No drop bags for me. I do ask my crew to meet me on the course at mile 30, 55, 62, 80 and maybe 93. For the first three stops I order strawberry milkshakes and walk out eating a slice of pizza.”

JF: “I use drop bags – more as a security blanket. I am lucky to have an attentive crew. But I throw in those essential powdered covered donuts, as well as a few vital articles of clothing, such as arm warmers.”

MK: :Usually I head for the beer tent – it’s all that really sounds good the first few hours, and a reliable medical source tells me the best way to get the body’s fluids flowing. Then several hours post-race I am ready for my Auburn stand-bys – a Taco Tree vegetarian burrito and a Depoe Bay giant blended Mocha.”

JF: “I typically have an inexplicable craving for nachos and a margarita.”

Finally,  Fueling Irrelevant – Why WS?
MK: “I enjoy the training and moving outside every day. I don’t thrive on “racing” in the true sense – I am drawn to the long slow grinds in the canyons. I’ve probably run from my house to Cool and back with my favorite four legged training partner 50 times this year – I never tire of the stellar trails around Auburn.

“I also run because I can. I ran my first Western States 100 with my friend Dan Moores – three years later cancer took his life. He can’t run anymore. I can.

“I run because it keeps me sane. My wife Kim often sends me out the door to run, saying, “You should go for a run, come back when you feel better…”

“I run to show my kids (my own and kids I coach on the soccer field) that adults can still exercise and play even when they’re old.”

JF: “Initially I was drawn to WS by the sense of accomplishment. Now, it is my family that motivates me to participate. My kids are old enough to understand the accomplishment – and be proud of their mom. I also love it for the sake of it – I thrive on the training. WS and the long training days in the canyon with my training partners provide an escape from life – no phones, no computers and no work (Jamie teaches severely impaired adolescence functional skills). I own my training and racing time – no one else’s needs, decisions or actions can interfere. But ultimately it is the lasting feeling of freedom and peace that trail running provides.”


Just Do It

Daniela Gauvin – member of the o2fitness Truckee Women’s Cycling Training Group – making it happen. No babysitter, no problem. Pictured here, Baby Romey Gauvin provides extra resistance for single leg pedaling drills and high cadence pedaling intervals, during a recent group workout. Its our version of Rocky-style, back to basic training. Watch out world – Daniela and Romey are primed to hit the ricksha racing circuit.



Western States – Movable Feast


First installment in a two part series covering Western States Endurance Run fueling strategies.

A friend once said that an ultra running aid station under any other circumstance would be a dream buffet – complete with cornucopia of candy, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made to order, cookies of every make and model, potato chips and coke, among other things. You might say – a dentist’s idea of job security.

Effective fueling – hydration and nutrition, for ultra events takes as much diligent training as the physical aspect and is, like everything, ultimately individually fine tuned. It is an ongoing area of contention and research in an attempt to find that optimum performance formula.

Personally, based on my fueling strategies, I would in the eyes of science-based nutritionists be considered a fueling flunky. When racing a 140K in a European cycling stage race or a 50K trail running race – I would, on a good day drink a few bottles and subsist on several Gus. This is not a conscious decision of depravation – it just seems natural for me. My nutritionists contend I would improve my performances if I consistently ate and drank during the events.

That said it could be that different ultra distances, raced at different intensities demand different fueling strategies. I was speaking about this subject with Dr. Andy Pasternak of Silver Sage Sports Performance in Reno and the Medical Director of the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance races – who recently attended the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conference.

One of the presentations he attended focused on Gastrointestinal (GI) Distress, a common limiter for Western States runners – and interestingly often a greater factor in the non-completion rate than muscle fatigue or injury.

The presented study, conducted at the Javelina Jundred 100Mile trail run, by Kristin Stuempfle, Martin Huffman and Tamara Hew-Butler, concluded that a lower percentage of fat in the race diet and lower intake rates of fat, protein and fluid may contribute to GI distress in ultra-marathoners.

Dr. Pasternak remarked that, “Fat intake may be a marker for those runners that run smarter.” He continued, “It would be interesting to conduct follow-up tests on racers in different distances, including 50K and 50 Milers – and measure their running intensity along with their caloric intake during the race. There are a couple of possibilities for the findings from Dr. Stuempfle and their group. One is that fat may have some sort of protective effect on the GI system and help decrease GI distress. Also, because fats are more caloric dense foods, runners who eat more fat are able to ingest more calories. Another possibility is that fat intake is a marker for runners who are running in a purely aerobic zone. As running intensity increases, blood flow to the GI system decreases and more runners can have issues with GI distress. The runners who are able to stay in an aerobic zone may tolerate eating more foods (including fats) which allows them to ingest enough energy to successfully finish the race.”

In another study presented at the conference – the research group from Health Sciences Department, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, presented their findings from last year’s Western States, which focused on the race diets of finishers and non-finishers.


The study concluded that race completion was related to greater fuel, fluid, and sodium consumption rates. The finishers consumed 4-6 kilocalories/kilogram/hour, twice as much as the non-finisher, equating to 13,000-16,000 calories over the 100miles. Kilocalorie, fat, fluid, and sodium consumption rates during the first 48 km were significantly greater in finishers than in non-finishers.


Interestingly – the medical experts conducting the above research projects advocate hydrating based on thirst versus a regimented, scheduled fluid intake.



Stay tuned for  the study of two – fueling strategies of two successful Western States runners – Matt Keyes and Jamie Frink.

Melinda’s MoJo

Donner-Summit-She-Women1For our ride today we wanted an alternative to going up Lincoln and the frontage roads to Applegate.

We found off the beaten path roads – ended up going through Christian Valley and up and down on the hills in Meadow Vista for a total of 28 miles and 2500 feet of climbing.  We took it slow – so it took a little over 2.5 hours.  In the past on rides like this with my husband Alan, I usually end up feeling frustrated and tired and start whining and it all ends up to be a death march. It was the total opposite of that today!  Alan showed me the route and I agreed to it. I decided to let myself feel strong when climbing, but on some of the steeper ones, just going slow and steady.  I kept thinking about my training group compadre, Barbara and her excitement for being on the bike and allowed that energy to take over. Taking in the views of a new route and the great day outside and the feeling that I CAN do this – what a difference!! Oh my – It was FUN!  I’m so excited that I actually had fun on a long Sunday bike ride!!

I’m looking forward to round #2 of the 10-week Auburn Cycling Training Group!


Grow Through Training

I don’t know about you, but my needs and wants are constantly changing in life. I have found the same shifts to take place with athletic goals and desires as well. Once I achieve a goal, such as becoming a faster and stronger cyclist, I reflect upon what’s next. Sometimes it means shifting what my focus is, which is now moving back toward competing in triathlons to see what I can do with my improved cycling skills.

For me, these changes in goals and priorities have helped to keep myself from becoming burnt out and stay excited about sports overall. As a runner, swimmer or a cyclist, it has been easy for me to switch from one sport to integrating all three into what I do.

Being honest with myself and what I want has helped me to learn that sometimes I need a break from criterium and road races to race against myself as a triathlete. This has enabled me to return to my choice sport of the season and has also helped to even out the tan lines as the season has progressed.