Why a blog? Aren’t you an introvert who only recently started using social media more than once a month?

The aversion to social media is actually part of the motivation for a blog. Rather than making small, frequent posts and feeling like I need to interact and respond to everything immediately, I can make posts that are less often but more thought out and meaningful. And I’ll still respond to things, but it just might not be immediate. Everything with the blog can be done in timeboxes and I’m hoping to not feel as constantly tethered to social media.

Beyond that, I also want to have a better archive of my experiences, both for myself and for others who do actually want to hear about them (without telling everything to everyone on social media who doesn’t). The most surprising and rewarding outcome of my racing has been in hearing how it has motivated or inspired other people, and I hope that sharing a bit more might help a few more people get out there to enjoy racing and see what they’re capable of.

Finally, I wanted a permanent place where I could give some support back to the people and the companies that have supported me. Without them I wouldn’t have even been able to attempt to do most of the things on this blog.

Why do you run so much? Wouldn’t you rather do things that are, you know, fun?

Honestly I got back in to running when I moved to the DC area, no longer had intramurals, and discovered that I had nowhere nearby where I could waterski. Once I started, though, I discovered that it’s exactly the kind of regular outlet that I need to disconnect, explore, and recharge. Running is my time to enjoy being outside, be free of constant stimuli, and be uninterrupted with my own thoughts (or with no thoughts at all).

I also love challenging myself, and for me running provides a constant test of my limits. In most sports you either win or lose, but with running I can always try to go faster or further. And for the most part, the results of a race depend entirely on me. As a Texas Rangers, NC State, and Cincinnati Bengals fan, I’ve grown weary of looking externally for my sports outcomes. 😛

If you love running so much, why do you spend time doing triathlons?

I love running the most on cool days through mountains and forests. I live near a nice bike path, but I’m not exactly in the mountains. What I do live near is hundreds of miles of beautiful Maryland farmland with great roads. And during the summer, the DC region is a bit of a sauna that is much more enjoyable for riding than running.

I can’t say I do or will ever enjoy swimming; to me it’s staring at a black line for an hour trying not to suffocate. The swimming is one piece of the challenge that I do enjoy, though, and in a way it makes the success in a triathlon even more rewarding.

When I move, who knows what I’ll end up doing. Hopefully I’ll be back in the mountains, though, preferably on a lake where I can waterski.

How do you have time for training when you have a job and kids? Your wife must be incredible.

Yes, yes she is. The answer to this question could be left at that, but as awesome and supportive as she is family still has to be the top priority if for no reason other than that I want it to be. Over the past few years, as my training has increased along with the size of our family and the demands of work, we’ve become much more effective with time and efficiency.

Almost all of my weekday training is as my commute, when I would otherwise be wasting time (and money) sitting on the metro. On weekends I try to get up and get it done early, or we make a fun event of it and I’ll run or bike to somewhere that my family can meet me and spend the day. I also do essentially nothing else: I don’t watch TV or play videogames anymore, or spend time on any of the numerous other things that can add up and chip away at our days. The final piece is for us to be really deliberate about family time, to purposefully enjoy it rather than just being in the same place at the same time. It boils down to minimizing the family time lost to training while maximizing the quality of that family time.

What do you eat?

Mostly, whatever my body is telling me it needs. I do have a bit of a sweet tooth and have to restrain myself sometimes, but I’ve found that restricting too much just saps my energy, power, and recovery and doesn’t let me train or perform the way I need to.

I’ve tried fat adaptation a couple of times, primarily for the Barkley Marathons, which is an event of up to 60 hours. I feel like maybe it has helped there a bit in the later parts of the race, but for shorter events that require bursts or higher intensities I’m not sure that I could recommend it. I also don’t know that it’s worth it. There are limits to sacrificing for the sake of performance, and man do I love carbs.

This is another area where having great support helps. Somehow between caring for 3 kids under 3, my wife still finds the time to cook great, healthy meals. For some great ideas on homemade meals and snacks, and healthy but practical eating, check out fANNEtastic food. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have the support of some great companies that provide the knowledge and the means by which to eat right, such as Hammer Nutrition and Chopt Creative Salad Company.

What I eat during actual races and training is a whole different. For “normal” distances that take less than 10 hours, I stick mainly with Hammer fuels. For races such as Barkley, I have the normal engineered fuels plus a whole spread of “real” food. The key is to have a few things each in the categories of savory, salty, and sweet, because you really never can tell what your body is going to want. In those situations, though, what it wants is most likely what it needs.

I’m not a data scientist. Can you explain where “Random Forest Runner” comes from?

Random forest is a popular machine learning algorithm. It’s widely considered one of the best “out of the box” algorithms, producing good results with minimal tuning or hyperparameter optimization. It also helps avoid the problem with overfitting that decision trees typically face. The tagline for the blog was originally going to be “enjoying sparsity, without overfitting” but I ended up deciding that was taking the whole play on words thing a bit too far.

I’m not a runner. Can you explain where “Random Forest Runner” comes from?

I like to run, largely through forests. I especially enjoy it if it’s a random one that I haven’t been in before. And these are actual forests, as in outside with trees and wildlife, not ones on the computer.

I’m not a data scientist or a runner. Can you explain where “Random Forest Runner” comes from?

I’m not so sure that my blog will have much to offer you… maybe go ahead and go to fANNEtastic food? I think everyone needs food.