It’s been a little over two weeks since the bombings at the Boston marathon. I was incredulous when I first heard reports that two bombs exploded at the finish line of the marathon. I immediately thought of all my friends who were running and spectating at the marathon and began reaching out to fellow RVRR club members to try and see if everyone was unharmed and accounted for. It took some time, but we were able to confirm that all of our friends and fellow runners were safe. The whirlwind of events that transpired over the week following the bombings had me in sort of a funk. Driving home from work on marathon Monday, I kept thinking about how excited I was to run my first Boston three years prior and how accomplished I felt when I crossed the finish line, the same place that had now turned a day of joy and celebration to terror and sadness.
I did what most runners likely did that afternoon, I laced up my shoes, put on my blue Boston marathon tech shirt and went out for a run. My run helped clear my mind a bit, but I still had a feeling that this attack was somewhat personal. The assailants didn’t only attack innocent men, women and children, or an entire city– they attacked all runners.
The first woman to run the Boston Marathon, Katherine Switzer, is known for her famous quote, “If you’re losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon”. I couldn’t agree with this statement more. It is very inspiring to watch a marathon; not only to observe the individual runners triumph over completing 26.2 miles, but also to observe the many spectators and runners who are complete strangers, cheer and celebrate each other along their journeys.
The tenacity and kindness of runners and marathon spectators alike couldn’t have been more evident after a horrific attack such as this. From the Marathoners who ran through the finish area straight to donate blood, to those who ran to the aid of the victims within seconds of the blasts. Along the marathon course, spectators offered blankets, water, and food for the thousands of marathoners corralled outside of the city.
Being runners, we will do one thing that runners do best; we will persevere. It’s this unwavering mentality to push on no matter lies in front of us, no matter how much it hurts, or how far we have left to go, that is one of the great qualities that runners are known for.
50 mile Start - Photo by Woolheater
Two weekends ago I completed the Stone Mill 50
in Maryland, my third 50 mile trail race.
The weather for the 50 miler was kind to us, as It was a beautiful day for running with a low around 28F and high around 52F. The course was very runnable with a mix of single track and fire road, making the course very runnable. However, the cumulative stress from many flat miles was adding up and I found myself in a rough patch around the 28 mile mark after running a 3:30-3:35 for the first half of the race. While running on a towpath along the Potomac river, instead of suffering and thinking about how far I still had to go, or how tired/sore I was becoming, I thought back to my experience pacing Dan Brenden at the Vermont 100 and asked myself, “What would Dan do?” I reminded myself how happy Dan was to be out there running and seemed happy throughout 100 tough miles, so I put on a big smile and said good morning to every walker, cyclist, and jogger that I passed and kept my focus looking out, admiring the beauty of the river in the gorgeous morning weather.
Sunrise - Photo by Trombatore
This was just the first of many times I brought my thoughts back to my time spent with Dan in VT and was able to put on a big smile and just try to truly enjoy where I was at that very moment. Experiencing lows and being able to “enjoy” them with a smile on your face, reminds you that perspective and mental toughness is truly one of the most important variables, and obstacles, in any ultra distance. I had some pain and tightness in my hamstring, knee, and foot all on my left side around the same time. I was run/walking a bit from the 28 mile mark to around mile 34 when I was able to take two Ibuprofen. 20 minutes later I was back in business, as my stride returned to normal and the pain was dulled. I popped in my headphones and cranked out the last 16 miles, passing more than a handful of runners over that time. I was able to push harder and run faster the closer I got, knowing I was chasing a sub 8hr finish and a new 50 mile PR. I was trying to hold my place and possibly catch anyone else in front of me, and ultimately just be done running! I finished the race in 7th place overall with a new 50 mile PR of 7:52; just 42 seconds behind 6th place who had passed me during my run/walk low around mile 30. Overall I am very happy with the race and my result. I set a new PR with little specific training, and really enjoyed much of my time out on the trails, especially the first ~25 miles spent running with my buddy Jayson
The following morning, we woke up early to drive into Philadelphia to cheer for many RVRR teammates in the full and half marathons. I am happy we decided to make the trip into Philly and hobble around cheering for everyone. It was great seeing the faces and the joy and gratitude for everyone we cheered for, especially those running their first marathons. This weekend marked four years since I ran my first marathon back in 2008 and my mom was quick to remind me that when asked if I was going to do another marathon after I finished four years ago, I responded, “No way” and now I competed in a race nearly double the distance and almost 4 years to the day. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when no one tells you that you can’t and when you have the support of so many amazing friends and family.
Hellgate Elevation Profile - Photo by The Roanoke Times
Looking ahead, I have been recovering/tapering for the last two weeks since Stone Mill, as I am signed up for my first 100k on December 8th. I am running David Horton’s Hellgate 100k in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. I’m definitely a bit nervous about this race, as it will be the longest distance and likely continuous hours I will have run at one time. Plus the race starts at 12:01 AM on Saturday morning and has many big climbs and descents with around 24,000 feet of elevation change and plenty of technical trails. Reading previous race reports and course reviews, it’s easy to conclude that this race is unlike many others, is extremely difficult and in return is very rewarding and “special”. I can’t say that I feel fully prepared for the race, but I have done some great training over the last 6+ months. I don’t also feel 100% recovered from the Stone Mill 50 but am fully committed to giving 100% and finishing this race one way or another. It’s going to hurt for sure, but isn’t that what I signed myself up for? Either way, I am looking forward to the challenge and opening a new page in my ultra running book.
Noun: An extended period of running, especially one spent away from home or while traveling.
My recent trip to Portland, Oregon was the latest in my series of runcations. Previously, I have traveled to Colorado (Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins) as well as California (Lake Tahoe/Squall Valley, Yosemite and San Francisco) with plans to explore these cities and their surrounding wilderness while on foot. Not all runcations require a week away from work and a flight across the country, some of my most memorable runcations have been a short car ride away, consisting of weekends discovering new trails with friends be it in New York, Vermont or other East coast states.
This most recent trip had other significance, in that it also marked my first 100 mile week. Over the 7 days spent in Portland, I logged around 104 miles over 22 and and half hours of running, moving time. A good deal of this was spent climbing or descending, as we ran three different volcanoes and spent time zig-zagging our way through the Columbia River Gorge area, valleys around Mt. Hood, and the Tillamook State Forest.
There may be no better way to explore a new city or area than by on foot. Running allows one to get a good feel for a new city or connect with the mountain or trails in a very personal way. Running allows you to cover a lot of ground in a shorter amount of time compared to hiking, and usually presents you with opportunities to get away from the crowds. Below are some tips to consider for a successful runcation.
Tips for a Successful Runcation:
1. Plan Ahead
Carry a map, let someone know where you’re running, be sure to check the weather, pack layers, bring sunblock and a change of dry/warm clothes, pack a hand held bottle or running pack.
2. Fuel Properly
This means carrying plenty of calories and water for your planned adventures. Also, if you’re running trails/mountains and not near many towns or places for food, you may want to bring food and water for when you finish your run. Its NOT fun returning after a few hour adventure with no food waiting for you and an hour or more drive back to civilization. Don’t be silly, prevent yourself from getting hangry before it happens!
3. Travel with a Friend
Find someone with similar fitness and love of running. You don’t want to get out there and hold someone back or be held back. It’s important that everyone is capable of logging the miles and equally excited to explore a new area. Also, if you’re out running in a remote area it’s much safer to run with someone. I’ve been lucky enough not to encounter many dangerous situations or unfriendly wildlife, but anything can happen.
4. Don’t Forget to Enjoy it
This last tip seems simple enough; you’re on vacation, you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself. However, this is perhaps the most important tip of them all. After a few long days of running, a wrong turn or difficult trail, down on some sleep, a bit hungry and thirsty and you could have a recipe for disaster! Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses, take in the sights, slow down and look for wildlife, flowers, and trees not native to your area. If you don’t remember to take it all in and enjoy yourself, it’ll quickly be over.
Stay tuned for additional posts covering some of the runs and trails I experienced while in Portland, including: Multnomah Falls and Larch Mountain, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Kings Mountain, and Elk Mountain.
RVRR Crew pre-race - Photo courtesy of Sally H.
Having run 11 Ultras
(nine 50ks and two 50milers) as well as countless training runs all across the country, I’ve had the honor of experiencing many amazing trails and races. However, NJ Trail Series
Mountain Madness 50K holds a special place in my heart, as it was the first race that took me beyond the 26.2 barrier back in 2009. Since running this race in it’s inaugural year, I’ve been back each year since. As with most trail/ultra races, this race has a great community of runners, volunteers, and race directors which add to the enjoyment of the event. It’s also held in early Fall when the leaves are changing and the weather is crisp making for beautiful and fast running conditions!
In the events inaugural year in 2009, I went up with a few friends, the two who ran the 50k ended up getting lost and needed to take a taxi back to the start. My other two friends ran the 7 miler which ended up being closer to 14 miles with some wrong turns added in. Running any race with friends can really make all the difference in the world. You have people to carpool up with and BS with prior to the race start which helps settle the nerves and keep your mind off the race. Even better is having friends cheer you along during the course, cheer you through the finish, and enjoy some post-race beers together. What really what made this year special was being able to share this great trail race with so many of my RVRR friends. It was a special day for three RVRR teammates who were lining up to attempt their first Ultra, and a fourth running her first trail race.
9 AM – Race Start
The course was different this year in that instead of having roughly 8 miles of easier trails to spread out the pack, we ran roughly a half a mile before turning onto single track up the first notable climb. I went out comfortably with the lead pack of around 10 guys to try and avoid the likely bottleneck throughout this section. I was feeling good, passed by a few on the climb and settled into 5th or 6th with my buddy Bill. I had the pleasure of running the first ~18 miles with Bill who was running his first marathon/ultra marathon. Running with him kept me relaxed and helped me keep moving at a quick and steady pace. It felt just like we were out on a training run, but with more people and covering the miles at a quicker pace.
~Mile 10 - Photo courtesy of Joe A. of MpFit
My Nathan pack has been having some malfunctions recently which I haven’t been able to pinpoint. The bladder doesn’t seem to leak outside of the pack, yet when I put it inside it begins to leak, a lot! I lost about half my water (3/4 L) within the first few miles and was pretty soaked. I didn’t plan to stop at any aid stations long enough to refill it, plus there would have been no point if it would just leak again so I made do with what was left in the bladder. This caused me to be pretty thirsty by the time I got to each aid station, forcing me to stop at each aid station longer than I would have liked. I still was in and out fairly quickly pausing only to drink a cup or two of water, pick up some orange slices, a hammer gel and some PBJ’s (thanks Alli). Bill and I went through the first two Aid Stations together and then passed John from Sneaker Factory who was also running his first ultramarathon, we chatted a bit and Bill and I continued on our way.
I really had pretty close to the perfect race one could ask for; I didn’t get off course, had no tumbles, and never really hit a low or felt super spent. I ran by myself from the point I pulled off from Bill but didn’t really mind it, the time seemed to go by fairly quickly. One runner passed me not long after splitting from Bill. I knew that I was moving fairly quickly and believed this guy HAD to be running the 25K because of how quick he was moving and how fresh he looked. After a mile or two, I pulled up to a battered Jayson Kolb who was in a rough place due to a few falls. He mentioned that the next 50k runner was about 4 minutes up. I had thought Jayson was in third place and couldn’t believe that the other guy was running the 50k. I tried not to dwell on it too much, buckled down and kept moving forward with my eyes on Aid Station 6 at the Start/Finish.
Focused coming into AS6 - Photo courtesy of Joe A. of MpFit
Well before race day, I decided I would put in my headphones at this final manned aid station. The last ~7.77 miles are arguably the most runnable of the entire course and I knew music would motivate me to give everything I had over that last bit of the race. Just as I descended onto the carriage trail with about a quarter mile to go to the aid station and turn around point for the start of the final loop, I crossed paths with Jason Friedman who was in 3rd place. I took note of the time and pushed into the aid station. I dropped all my food, aside from one Roctane Gu, drank a cup or two of water and sprinted out of the aid station with much encouragement and motivation from everyone to race for 3rd place and the cash prize that went along with it. When I reached the point I crossed paths with Jason, he was just about 6 minutes ahead of me. I knew I would have to run with everything I had just to have a chance of catching him, but I knew it was possible. In previous years running this race, I’ve caught runners and put 12+ minutes between us over as little as ~3 technical miles before the finish. As I anticipated, my music gave me the much needed adrenaline rush that it typically does in the last few miles of ultras, enough so that I was running nearly all out in hunt for 3rd place. I focused on my breathing and my footing, knowing one spill could take me out of the picture. These last miles had many straight sections where you could see a quarter mile or so ahead of you and I kept wishing that I would catch a glimpse of 3rd place. I knew I was running wicked fast, but I had no idea how strong Jason was running. Just when the adrenaline from my music was fading and the fatigue was sneaking back into my legs, I caught a glimpse of Jason at the top of a short and steep switchback section. I powered my way up the climb and made my move by sprinting past Jason as fast as my legs could carry me, as I wanted to be out of his sight to ensure he didn’t have time to react and chase me down.
Finish - Photo courtesy of Sally H.
I thought to myself, “Okay, now you’re in 3rd place…just keep cranking, give it everything you have.” I had no idea if he responded and was giving chase, so I glanced behind me on a few climbs and around a few turns and didn’t see Jason. This didn’t put me at ease so I continued to run all out trying to focus on my footing, praying to see the orange and pink ribbons indicating ~1/2mile or so to the finish. I begin coming up on runners finishing the 25k and some 50kers who had yet started the final 7.77 mile loop. I passed by the runners and was soon back on the carriage trail around the lake for the final quarter mile sprint to the finish.
This race has ended up becoming a sort of fitness gauge for myself each year to see how my training is progressing. With only a few small variations in the course throughout the first three years, it’s interesting to see the improvements in my finishing times.
Year – Finish Time – Finish Place
2009 6:17 3rd
2010 5:53:50 6th
2011 5:19:42 3rd
2012 5:01:53 3rd
Podium - Photo courtesy of Joe A. of MpFit
I think this is a true testament to the progression I’ve made in my training and racing over the last four years (note: my marathon times have also dropped from around 3:23 to 2:53). I’m feeling super fit, and feel like I’ve been doing a good job balancing higher mileage weeks (75-80+mpw) with rest and easier days/weeks. I’m hoping to continue with this momentum, train through the winter, continue to do lots of long trail runs on the weekends with friends. I’m looking forward to the future possibilities in my running and looking for a good first 100miler come late winter/early spring. So if you have any recommendations, please let me know!
Also, be sure to check out other RVTR race reports by Gene and
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” -John Muir
Dan, Hugette, and I at the Finish of the VT 100 - Photo: Chip Tilden
The president of RVRR
and I decided to head up to Vermont to crew and pace for some of her teammates from Mountain Peak Fitness
. I planned to help crew for our friend Zsuzzana Carlson for the first half of the day after which, Laura would jump in at mile 70.5 to pace her to the finish. We each wanted to get in a solid run, so we decided that each of us would pace someone instead of trying to split the 30 miles between us.
Laura, Zsuzzana, and I the night before the race
I was originally paired up to pace someone running her first 100miler. She ended up dropping around the 50mile mark and after she pulled out, I decided to head to mile 70.5 to sign up to pace whoever needed me. Within a few minutes of arriving I was assigned to a runner slated to arrive in 20 or 30 minutes. I quickly geared up and chatted with Hugette, who was telling me about Dan and his attempt to break the Grand Slam of Ultraruning record this year. Hugette was very gracious for my volunteering to pace, and you couldn’t help but get excited from all her energy and positive words about Dan.
Pacing and crewing is an interesting thing, as its a very selfless act. You dedicate money, time, and so much more in order to help a runner get to the finish line. While at first glance it may appear that very little is gained by a crew/pacer during a 100miler, the truth is quite the opposite. Crewing and pacing for my friend Mike during his first 100miler at Western States this year was an amazing experience. Not only did I have the ability to help a close friend accomplish a remarkable goal, but I also experienced all the energy that goes into running and putting on an ultra-marathon. I would quickly learn how rewarding pacing a stranger could be.
Dan Brendan rolled into Camp 10 Bear around 6:35pm complaining of a strained or torn quadricep muscle. He ran right to Hugetta’s car, got some food, a headlamp and fresh batteries, and some ace bandage in case he needed it for his quad later in the race. Dan and I rolled out of the aid station around 6:40pm and to be honest, I was thinking “great, this old guy would be walking the rest of the way or dropping shortly”. Little did I know who I signed up to pace, as Dan was not your average ultramarathoner, as if such a thing exists. As we began our journey together and got to chatting, I quickly began realizing just how decorated and experienced a runner Dan is.
Dan is one of the most modest people you will may ever cross paths with. While runners, and more specifically, ultra-runners, tend to be pretty laid back, its not uncommon to come across the bragging type, myself not excluded. Had I not asked Dan all the questions that I did, he would have never boasted that this Vermont finish would mark his 105th, 100miler in the last 10 years and his 10th sub 24 hour VT 100. Yes, you read that correct thats 105,000 miles in the last 10 years logged exclusively during 100 mile races, wow!
When you share hours and miles with a stranger, running tends to create a type of bond and a pathway for honest and open dialog, often prompting one to tell a stranger things they may find difficult to discuss with anyone else. True of this type of commradarie on the trails, Dan and I shared stories of our trials and tribulations, loved ones lost, races run in remembrance of very special people, and so much more.
Dan & Hugette at the Finish of the VT 100 - Photo: Chip Tilden
Aside from being extremely modest and thanking the swarms of people cheering him along during the race, and believe me there were many, Dan was extremely appreciative of my company. Not only was Dan a pleasure to run with, but he didn’t seem to hit any lows during our last 30 miles together. If he was feeling bad, he didn’t complain or slow down. He kept a smile on his face the entire 8 hours we ran together and continually exclaimed how great it was to be out in the beautiful VT woods sharing the miles with me, and I couldn’t have agreed more. Endurance running has a funny way of stripping away the layers and all the protective barriers we as humans put up. However, when you cross the finish line of an ultra, your true emotions and feelings are exposed on the surface. In addition to his impressive running feats, Dan is also known for his signature finishes. At the end of every ultra-marathon, after 20-30 hours of non-stop running, Dan picks up his long-time girlfriend and walks across the finish with Hugette in arms. Dan mentioned a few times throughout our time running of how much he looked forward to carrying her across the finish line and how it was probably his favorite part!
So in my decision to volunteer as a pacer and get in some solid weekend mileage, I had the honor of running with one of the ultra-worlds greatest runners. I truly feel like I was the lucky one to have had the opportunity to run with Dan and learn many things over those 30 miles. Dan showed me that it’s possible to run a 100 miles with a smile on your face and that the greatest reward is the journey itself when you love what you’re doing. I will definitely recall Dan’s genial attitude during any lows during my next race and think to myself “what would Dan do?”, knowing that he’d keep pushing with a smile on his face, happy to be exactly where he is!
I highly recommend checking out www.run100s.com and signing up to volunteer or pace at a race, because you never know who you might cross paths with and what you may take away from the experience
UPDATE: Dan completed the Leadville 100 in 29hrs and 12 minutes and is well on his way to breaking the Grand Slam of Ultra-running with a record 7 finishes when he runs in the Wasatch Front 100miler on September 7th.
Tomorrow I am racing in the HAT 50k in Havre de Grace Maryland. I had the pleasure of running this race last year for the first time and am excited to be returning this year. In addition to trying to put forth a solid effort and better my time, I will be running in honor of a friend of mine. Tammy, A co-worker and friend, was recently diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML).
I was talking to Tammy a week or two ago about her training and upcoming races, only to hear a few short days later of her diagnosis. Hearing news like this really helps put into perspective how lucky each and everyone of us is and how fragile and special life is.
If there’s anyone I know who’s got the best chance of beating something like this, it’s definitely Tammy. As true with most runners and athletes, despite being a bit hard-headed, we’re fighters. We do what we love and part of that is the competition and the challenge. Hell, if running marathons and ultra-marathons was easy, wouldn’t everybody be doing it? (ha). Around mile 20 into a race, just as you start to get fatigued and start questioning why the hell you thought it would be a good idea to run a race, something clicks and you dig-down to fight off the demons telling you to stop running; “Hey Idiot, you can stop running anytime. It will all be over, why continue to put yourself through this.” But, you push through that and fight your way to the finish. Tomorrow, I won’t be running just for myself. Instead, I’m dedicating this race to Tammy and all those who are pushing through in a much more difficult race. When I inevitably begin to feel tired, and my legs hurt, and I want to slow or stop, I’m going go think of Tammy and how much she would give to be out there running with me if she could. I’m going to embrace the pain around mile 20 because so many others out there would give anything to be in my shoes. So, this one’s for you Tammy. Keep kickin’ ass, keep your spirits high, and never give up! You’ll be back on your feet and on the trails and sailing in no time.
To all those battling cancer or sickness, here’s to you! Keep on fighting like hell, don’t ever give up, and once you get to the finish line, the beer will taste so much better!
Follow Tammy’s journey in her fight with Leukemia on her blog The Road Less Traveled and drop in to provide some words of encouragement.
Amazing RVRR support!
The Philadelphia marathon has a special place in my heart, as this was my first marathon back in 2008. At that time, little did I know that I would be back three years later shaving 30 minutes of my time with a new PR (2:53:13)!
I’ve trained fairly consistently over those three years, run two additional marathons (NJ and Boston), and run a total of 9 ultras (7x50k, 2x50mi).
Sept 2010: 132mi
Oct 2010: 150mi (Mountain Madness 50k)
Nov 2010: 153mi
Dec 2010: 63mi
Jan 2011: 157mi (Watchung Winter 50k)
Feb 2011: 203mi
March 2011: 243mi (Hat 50k)
April 2011: 249mi
May 2011: 270mi
June 2011: 192mi
July 2011: 221mi
August 2011: 258mi (Mahlon Mayhem 50k)
Sept: 215mi (VT 50)
Oct: 169.2 mi (Mountain Madness 50k)
Coming off Boston in April 2010 and my first 50miler in May 2010, my mileage dropped a bit to recover. However since September 2010, my monthly mileage has almost exclusively been 150+ miles, with the bulk of the months well over 200 miles per month. While this may seem pretty impressive to the average runner, it is by no means even a fraction of what the “sub-elite”, faster runners are logging. However, a large difference in most faster runners training and mine is that I do not follow any training plan. In fact, I don’t plan any workouts, long runs, etc. Instead, I run by how I feel, what the weathers like, what obligations I have to fulfill, etc. This training works for me, however, I definitely believe a bit of structure would be beneficial for my training. I could really use more direction in my workouts and a bit more honesty in keeping my easy runs, well easy.
Leading up to the marathon, I had the confidence of a solid base of training and several huge ultra PRs, but lacked the confidence of running fast on the road for almost 3 hours. I had done very little race specific training and nearly no long road runs. Aside from one tempo workout at the end of October (6x1mi at 1/2 marathon pace with 0.5mi recovery) for a total of 14 miles, my next longest road run was 15 miles back in late August. This is just how my schedule played out with a few ultras and recoveries mixed in. Being realistic with my training, or lack thereof, I set a stretch goal of 2:50 if everything went perfect and I felt amazing. My realistic goal which would still be a 5 minute PR, was 2:55. I was confident I could go under the 3hr mark, but was not sure by how much. My race day plan was to keep it controlled early on but try and loop in with a group and see what I had in me. I wanted to run ~6:29-6:35/mile for the first half of the race, try and hold/speed up a bit to the 20 mile mark and then push and run a fast 10k to the finish. I ran a pretty even race, with perfect execution (not bad for winging it)! I came through the half in 1:26 (6:35 pace) and went through the 30k in 2:03 (6:38 pace) and finished in 2:53:13 with an overall pace of 6:36 meaning I was able to make up a bit of time on the last 10k. Although I was able to negative split late in the race, these were by far the toughest miles. I felt relatively relaxed and easy throughout the first 18 or so miles, trying to keep smooth knowing I wanted to push the last 10k. Quite unlike my first marathon when the last 10k and more specifically last mile, seemed to fly by, these last miles felt quite long. I didn’t really hit the infamous “wall”, but I was definitely working to keep up my pace.
Post race with my buddy Lindsay
Having tweaked my nutrition over my last several ultras, I’ve become used to eating every 30 minutes and planned to stick in the ballpark. Even though I would be on my feet much shorter than in an ultra, I knew running quicker would burn up calories pretty quick. I took 1 gel thirty minutes before the start and then took 5 gels over the course of the race, taking one with water just about every 30-35 minutes. I also took beer at both stations around miles 19 and 22!
Overall, I’m super stoked with my result and new PR. Muscularly I’m much more sore than in previous marathons and ultras, partly I believe, because I did very few road long runs. My longest road run being ~15 miles a few weeks before the marathon, so I think while I was fit, my muscles were not used to the pounding on the roads. Taking all of this into account, I know that with a bit of focus, more specific training (long runs, tempo, hills, and marathon pace) I can go sub 2:50.
With that being said, I entered my name into the hat for 2012 Western States 100 lottery. The lottery drawing is December 10th, so I’ll be waiting until then to determine my training path forward. If my name is selected (~1-5% chance), I’ll spend the next 6 months figuring out how to train for my first 100miler. If my name is not selected, I may ramp my training back up and see about running a spring marathon and finding an alternate 100miler to run this upcoming summer or fall.
Also, big thanks to my amazing friends and all the support from everyone in RVRR. It was amazing hearing you guys cheer me through the race. One couldn’t ask for a better running club and support crew!
I’m sitting at my computer on the 1 year anniversary of my marathon PR (3:00:32) at the Boston Marathon, while the marathon world record was “broken” at today’s 2011 Boston Marathon by Geoffrey Mutai in 2:03:02.
I’ve been drafting this post for quite some time and it’s kind of funny because after all the miles and races, the ups and downs; I haven’t ever really contemplated why I run, I just do! I don’t have to ask myself everyday why I’m going out for another run, or heading out the door when it’s snowing or 100 degrees and humid, it’s just part of who I am and what I do.
I recently read Tony Krupicka’s Running Times article which inspired me to attempt to answer a question I’ve been asked probably hundreds of times, why do I run?
This question may seem pretty straight forward to the non-runner and one might expect a quick, simple response. However for those of you who run, you know that truly answering this question is much more difficult than it may first appear. People run for a variety of reasons be it to stay in shape, lose weight, socialize with friends, blow off steam etc. and while many of these are part of the big picture of why I continue to run, essentially, they are not the underlying factor that motivates me to run every day.
Over the years I have participated in a variety of sports (soccer, cycling, tennis, rowing) none of which have satisfied my desire for physical activity. While I thoroughly enjoy(ed) all of these activities, they were never completely fulfilling. I originally started running during the summer of my sophomore year in high school because my girlfriend at the time was a runner. After our relationship ended, running became an outlet for me, a way to ease the heart break of losing your first ‘love’. I was convinced into joining my high school cross country team during my junior year and instantly connected with the team and my coach. My experience with running over the last few years confirmed what I learned during two years running high school cross country; runners are some of the most compassionate, dedicated, funny, quirky, motivated, and all around wonderful people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.
Running has led me to some of my most memorable moments and has helped me meet some of my closest friends. Every run is a new adventure, everyday is another brick in the wall, another piece to the puzzle. I love the daily challenge, the feeling of an elevated heart rate, and a satisfying sweat dripping workout. I love the satisfaction from a solid effort run and the fatigue that comes with it. I love setting, meeting and hopefully surpassing the goals I set for myself whether that be completing a certain workout, hitting a specific number of miles in a week, setting a new PR, or running a distance I have yet to run. Simply put, I love the way running makes me feel.
Anton describes his 180+ mile weeks, near daily summits of Green Mt., “Running as much as I do is a lifestyle, and racing with others is a celebration of that lifestyle, a public and collaborative expression of the thousands of hours spent honing a specific craft and art. Without the consistency and discipline of my daily running ritual, however, these depths would never be accessible, so in the mundane habit is where the true work is done.”
I started running ultra-marathons for the challenge, the uncertainty of not knowing whether you could complete the distance. Plus the camaraderie among the other runners and the solitude on the trails is like nothing I have ever experienced before. The amount of satisfaction and the sense of accomplishment you feel after running for over 12 hours is indescribable.
I run to get away from my problems, but more importantly to find solutions and answers for them. Running is a vehicle for inner exploration, a path to a better me and at the very least, a fitter me. When is the last time you can honestly say that you set a goal for yourself and actually worked hard for it and completed it? Runners do this almost every day, with every run, each workout, we can almost feel ourselves getting that much closer to whatever goal we have. Running provides us with a sense of great accomplishment every day.
I run because the more I run, the more beer I can drink.
I run because it makes me feel alive, and connected the world.
I run, because that’s who I am, I am a runner!
Roger Hart has a truly great post appropriately named “Runners” over at Lean Bean Running Machine that i strongly suggest you read. In describing his running career with some of his closest friends he goes on to say that,
“We ran because it beat collecting stamps, because we were running towards something, because we were running away, because we were all legs, lungs and heart, because we were afraid of who or what might catch us if we stopped.”
I feel like this fairly sums up everything I’ve been trying to say.
Roger adds, “And what did we learn from running seventy-thousand miles and hundreds of races, being the first to cross the finish line and once or twice not crossing it at all, those runs on icy roads in winter storms and those cool fall mornings when the air was ripe with the smell of grapes, our feet softly ticking against the pavement? We learned we were alive and it felt good. God, it felt so good.”
So I ask you, what have you done to challenge yourself today?
Trails, Rocks, and Triceratops!?
Last year’s “RVRR Rock Run” is now the new and improved “Chimney Rock 5 Miler”. This race is being put on by the Raritan Valley Road Runners on Saturday March 26, 2011 in the Washington Valley Park in Central NJ.
This is a 5 mile trail race that is sure to please everyone from the new trail runners to the seasoned veteran. The course takes you over streams, through the woods, to the top of Chimney Rock (providing beautiful views of the surrounding area) and back down.
As the race director, John D’Agostino says, “there are many reasons to stay home on a Saturday morning and, with 2,000 ft.+ of elevation over 5 miles of serious trails in Washington Valley Park, the Chimney Rock 5-Miler is certainly one of them. This race is for those with gusto, aplomb, that je ne sais quoi, as this race is one to get the blood flowing.”
The Top 3 Male & Female Finishers will receive custom Quarry Rock Trophies. As if this race wasn’t fun enough, there is a inclusive post-race party just a few miles away at the Chimney Rock Inn. If all this doesn’t sound exciting enough to motivate you to get outdoors and moving on a Saturday morning, maybe the mention of beer will peak your interest! Yes, you will have earned yourself a beer (or two or three) after surviving the rugged Chimney Rock trails. Even better, if you come out and run and mention you found out about the race from RunsOnBeer.com, then your first beer is on me!
So get out your trail shoes, register for the Chimney Rock 5-Miler and be get ready for an amazing local trail race! Also, please bring your retired running shoes on race day to donate to Nike’s ReUse-a-Shoe Program. Hope to see you all in March!
Online Registration: ($18 pre-registration through 03-24 & $20 after)