Saturday, March 1, 2014

Racing Again!

You may be thinking, "Wait a minute, the dude races all the time!  What does the dude mean 'Racing Again?'"  Yes....I am calling myself "the dude" like Jeff Bridges in "The Big Lebowski
I love that movie and I love to go bowling every Sunday with my kids. 

Anyway, I race often as some would say.  Not as often as Kelly Agnew...he is a machine, but often enough.  However, my idea of racing over the past few years have been 50K-100 mile racing.  These races or runs don't really get the heart beating over 120bpm.  Of course, I wouldn't know exactly since I've never worn a heart rate monitor.  I've been doing pretty decent at these longer events, having grabbed 2 USATF National Championships in my last 2 attempts.  Granted, they weren't the overall National Championship, and I did get chicked in both events, but I will chalk that up to being being  The 2 events I am talking about are the 2013 Tussey Mountainback 50 Miler and the 2014 Rocky Raccoon 100 Miler.

My coach, Todd Braje (former US champ at 100 and 50 mile events), has me training hard each week for these races.  Typically, the week will likely include a track/interval session and a tempo or marathon pace run.  Depending on my future schedule, the workouts might take place on a hillier course (e.g. my Western States training) or on flatter courses (e.g. Rocky Raccoon training).

At the moment, Todd has me focusing on the flatter faster stuff, as my race schedule dictates with the New Jersey Ultra Festival 50K in 3 weeks (maybe), 3 Days at the Fair 24hr in May, Vermont 100 in July, and North Coast 24hr National Champs in Sept.  All of these races are relatively flat, with exception of Vermont which has rolling hills totaling about 15K ft of climbing, but of the untechnical kind, so it will require leg speed.  Needless to say, I would like to grab some of that speed from my early to mid-30's and pump it back in my legs.

That brings me to "Racing Again".  Last night I made the decision to forgo running the Horseshoe Trail Elevation Fest, hosted by Stephan Weiss of Uberendurance Sports, and run the Quakertown Rotary Run for Kids 10 Miler!  10 MILES ONLY!!!!  That is my shortest distance race since the 2012 Downingtown Turkey Trot where I ran 17:19 or something.  A very hurting 17:19.

I've raced 15K-10 miles a few times in my life, so this distance is nothing new.  In fact, I have a PR of 54min+ that I set at the Broad Street Run back in 2006 or something.  Here are my times.  I also ran in 2005 and finished in 55 and change, but that isn't listed here.
200710 Mile RaceJoshua N FingerSpring City, PAM0:56:130:56:1290

200610 Mile RaceJoshua N FingerSpring City, PAM0:54:460:54:4357

200010 Mile RaceJoshua N FingerLambertville, NJM0:59:270:59:215149
199910 Mile RaceJoshua N FingerLambertville, NJM0:56:460:56:425554
199810 Mile RaceJoshua N FingerYardley, PAM1:00:49

199710 Mile RaceJoshua N FingerLansdale, PAM1:06:48


But, I haven't raced this distance since 2007, so going "fast" for a longer period of time was going to be a challenge.

The race started promptly at 9AM with Ron Horn of Pretzel City Sports getting us started.  A group of 5 of us immediately split from the pack in the first mile, one of which was running the 4-miler.  We cruised through the first mile in 5:59.  A very moderate pace which served as a warm-up mile for the eventual winner, some guy with a 2009 Atlantic Division Championship shirt, my guess a Villanova guy....are they in the Atlantic Division?  He destroyed the field, running a course-record in 54:17 or something.  That is on a hilly course folks!  I settled into a rather tempo-ish pace with another guy from Allentown pumping out the next couple miles (some hills in there) in 6:16 and 6:10.  I broke away from him on a long downhill in during mile 3.  Mile 4 (6:27) included a longish climb and I could hear the constant stone under foot of my pursuer.  Over the next few miles, I kept pressing to try and break him, but he stayed consistently 100 ft behind.  I could hear him catching me on the climbs, but the descents I was moving swifter.  Mile 5 was still "slow" in 6:23, but I was able to pick the pace up on the next mile which was somewhat flatter to 6:14 and even faster still for mile 7 in 6:05.  It's the last few miles where the race is won or lost, at least the race for the podium.  I kept trying to push the flats and survive the up's.  Mile 8 continued with a 6:05 and was followed by the quickest mile of the day in 5:52.  This included a nice 11% grade (downhill) where I was able to relax and stretch the legs out.  With a mile to go, I kept trying to push the pace, but could still feel him on my tail.  With 1/2 mile to go, I made a right hand turn and he was still 100 ft back.  As I pushed, I stayed attentive for footsteps in my rears, but didn't hear anything.  The last little climb threw me for a shock, but I was able to hold my pursuer off  and finish with a 6:02 final mile and the masters win in 1:01:35 (3rd overall).  4th place was only a measly 10 seconds back.

I was pretty happy for this race.  Having not done much in the way of speed training, or running for that matter, since Rocky Raccoon 4 weeks earlier.  I never really felt like I was running hard like I used to be able to do, but was running hard enough to feel the effort.  Getting into that fast racing mindset is going to take some getting used to, as I try to use some shorter races in the early spring to get my "forever" pace faster for those all day racing events and the Vermont 100. 

I'm not shy to put out there that I want to make the US 24hr team for 2015.  This is going to take some major effort, not so much physically-wise, but more so mentally-wise.  The competition is going to be stiff for the team, as Jon Olsen, Jon Denis, Joe Fejes, Zach Bitter, and many others will vie for those 6 spots.  I know I am up for the task.

Thanks to my sponsors for my support.  As a Hoka One One ambassador, Don Morrison and the Chester County Running Store in Pottstown, PA keep my feet comfy all day long.  As a Vitargo S2 athlete, Genr8 Endurace keeps me fueled for the long haul.  GET SOME!!!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

2014 Rocky Raccoon Race Report

This year’s Rocky Raccoon would mark the 3rd year in a row making a trip to the Huntsville area.  I’ve really come to enjoy my trips down to the area, despite it being Texas and all.  Usually we Philly boys like to distance ourselves from Texas, owing to the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry in the NFL.  But, this was Houston area, not Dallas, and I have a couple new ties to the area, or at least I will in the coming year.  First off, I have mixed emotions about Bill O’Brien moving to the NFL to coach the Houston Texans.  Being a Penn State Alum, I’ve really come to enjoy the changes that he has made to the football program in Happy Valley.  That being said, I was somewhat disappointed that he made the decision to move from college to professional football coaching.  But, you gotta do, what ya gotta do.  However, I am excited to see what he can do.  Secondly, around the June 2014 time frame, a good friend of mine and dedicated training partner, Jason Wiley, will be uprooting his family from the northeast and heading to the lovely Woodlands area.  Jason and I go back a long way, starting from being pledge brothers at the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity back in 1992 at Penn State.  Our pledge class started out as the “Six Pack”, but after one member couldn’t hack it, we became “The High Five”, a name likely giving to us because of the mental/physical state that we usually were in.  Anyway, I am getting off-track.  Jason and I reconnected after I moved back from California and we’ve been training ever since, about 7-8 years now.  I guess this means I have a place to stay, a local crew/cheering section, and possible “safety-runners” for the 2015 edition of Rocky Raccoon.  Joe Prusaitis, I’m coming back.
                So, I came into the 2014 Rocky Raccoon with some high expectations.  After a dismal performance last year when I tried to break away from Mike Morton, I came back with a smarter race plan.  My main goal was to win the 2014 100 Mile Masters National Championship.  In addition, Rocky Raccoon was chosen to be one of the Montrail Ultracup races with 3 spots available for 2014 Western States.  I had no preconceived notions about grabbing a spot and actually wasn’t interested in getting one anyway, as I have my sights set on the Vermont 100 in July.  On top of all that, I was hopeful that I might be able to run a smart enough race to try and break the masters course record of 14:12:20.  It would take a perfect day and spot on nutrition if that were going to happen, but as I said I had high expectations.
                This year’s Rocky was also going to be interesting from the standpoint that I was going completely solo:  no crew, no pacer, no problem.  In previous races, I had always lined up pacers or even last year, flew one down.  But this year, I would take a page out of Karl Meltzer’s book and go it alone.
                I arrived in Houston on Thursday afternoon and was supposed to share a ride with Neal Gorman.  Due to a winter storm in the south, flights were canceled and Neal couldn’t make it down until Friday.  I made the trip solo up to Huntsville and enjoyed a quick little 5 mile run on the course, in order to shake out the legs.  I felt pretty good and was excited for what was to come in a measly 36 hours.  On Friday, I spent most of my day, preparing my Vitargo S2, drop bags, clothing, etc.  I definitely overpacked them which would come to haunt me later.  As the day carried on, I headed over to packet pick-up and met up with Neal, Jason (Lantz), and Jeremy (Pade).  After the race briefing, where I was more interested in hearing Neal and Ian (Sharman) discuss Ian’s record setting Grand Slam from 2013, the 4 of us headed over to eat at the “Farmhouse” in Huntsville.  Well, 3 of us ate real southern cooking, while Neal enjoyed 2 Clif Bars.  I had some Chicken Fried steak…yum…with fried ocra, and sweet potato fries.  Unfortunately, they were BYOB and we didn’t have any.  Probably good for me, as I know Jason likes to drink a couple the night before a race.  Just look at his Vermont 100 win from last year.  He was doing shots of Tequila during the race!!!
                The next morning we awoke at about 3:45a.m. and were ready to meet Neal outside at 4:30 for the drive to the park.  We got there in pretty good time and beat most of the traffic into the park.  We luckily also got a pretty good parking spot not too far from the start/finish line.  It soon enough was go time and the 4 of us lined up  at the front.  Vitargo S2 (from Genr8) was well represented with Dave James and myself stealing center stage.  The countdown begun and within 5 seconds Dave was off the front like it was a 10K.  I’ve become accustomed to seeing/hearing Dave do this at many a race with the usual outcome being a DNF.  It would be no different this day.  In fact, many of the projected frontrunners fell victim to the flat, rooty miles.  Unfortunately, the weather was not optimal with temperatures starting in the mid 60’s with 90+% humidity.  I adjusted my race plan and knew the heat and humidity would be a struggle with lots of carnage as the race progressed.
                I settled into a grove during the first 20 miles with a strong group, somewhere back in the top 20 or so.  The group consisted of Neal, Jason, Michelle (Yates), Nicole (Studer), Ford (Smith), Gary (Gellin), and others.  I chatted a bit with Nicole and spent miles 10-20 chatting with Ford.  Ford has a future ahead of him, considering he is 17 and still in HIGH SCHOOL!!!  We were betting on who would be in first after the first loop.  He thought Dave, I though Ian.  About 1 mile from the start/finish, Ian would come blazing by with Peter Hogg in close tow.  Dave was about 15 seconds back and would later drop around mile 23. We hit the end of the first loop in rather conservative 2:43.  This was where I wanted to be.  I made  a fairly conservative pit stop making sure to refill my bottles with Vitargo and grab some more S-caps.  The humidity was extremely noticeable, coming from the cold northeast. 
                During this 2nd loop where I started to have stomach issues.  I was drinking a ton of Vitargo, as I can usually get away with it as my sole fuel source, however, with the weather I wasn’t able to digest properly.  I started to feel some major bloating and tried to empty my stomach was some regurgitation. Unfortunately, nothing would come up.  I finally made it around to the end of the 2nd loop with a slow 3:01.  I was well off the pace that I know I can handle for a long period of time.  I spent some time in the aid station trying to regroup and get ready for the toughest loop of the day, loop #3.
                Every year, this is the loop where I have the most difficulty.  In 2012, I left mile 40 and had major issues heading to the nature center at mile 43.  After recooperating in the aid station for 10-15 minutes, I continued on my way and finished rather well in 16:13.  In 2013, I had the same issues, but this time dropped at mile 43.  I felt the same way this year.  As I left dogwood at mile 40, my bloating issues continued.  I had made no changes to my nutrition plan, which wasn’t the smart thing to do.  I stopped a couple times trying to puke, but nothing would come up.  I finally made it to mile 43 and stopped for about 10 minutes.  I ate solid food, drank some water, and just rested my stomach a bit.  I waved at the camera, to the chagrin of my friends of family sitting there back home yelling at me to continue.  As I finally left the aid station, I started to feel better.  I stopped drinking from my bottle and found that helped.  For some reason this day, I wasn’t able to handle Vitargo.  I was drinking 4-scoopers and that might have been the issue.  My stomach wasn’t able to handle that much.  At DamNation and I emptied my bottle and took only water.  The rest of the day would be aid station solids (pickles, PBJ, chips, etc) and water + S-caps.  I didn’t feel great about taking in gels, considering my stomach didn’t seem to be doing well with those sugary calories.  Soon enough my energy came back and my bloating went away.  My legs were in terrific shape as I was still able to pound out 8:00-8:15 miles all along the Damnation loop.  I made it back from to mile 46 at DamNation, in under 50 minutes.  I was cruising along nicely. But, I found that since I wasn’t eating and running that I was taking too long in the aid stations.  As it turned out, I was wasting about 5-10 minutes at each aid station and giving back all that time I was making up in between.  Again, I left DamNation and rolled off some 8:00 miles and even some sub8’s on the jeep road section.  I would make my way back around to Dogwood (start/finish) without giving away too much time, in 3:11.  Still under a 9 minute overall pace, but not where I wanted to be.
                Much of the same would occur on the 4th loop.  My legs felt fantastic, I would continue running 8-8:30 pace for all miles and give the time back in the aid stations.  As it turned out, the weather was taking its toll on the leaders.  I rolled into the aid station at mile 72 and saw Michele Yates sitting there.  She withdrew after a very aggressive first 60 miles.  After another long aid station break, I cruised along again at low 8 minute pace and reached the mile 76 aid station.  Ford Smith was dealing with issues and he informed me that Jason Lantz was only a few minutes up.   I headed out after another wasted 5 minutes and continued to pound out 8-8:30 miles.  As I approached the end of loop 4, Steve Speirs was running in 4th and Jason Lantz was a few minutes back in 5th.  I entered the aid station only 2 minutes behind Jason, then proceeded to waste another 10 minutes refueling!!!  What was wrong with me….where was the drive.
                Loop 5, it had now become dark which slowed me down as I didn’t want to take a header with all the roots on the course. I was still running relatively good, but had slowed to about 9:30-10 pace, as I was starting to tire and the darkness was taking its toll.  It was at mile 83, where Neal Gorman came flying by me in the aid station.  I tried to hang on, but he quickly dropped me in the darkness.  I had almost forgot about Neal and him making a resurgence after a rather abysmal 2nd lap.  As I left DamNation at mile 86, I got the word that Neal was 5 minutes up (in 3 miles) and Jason Lantz was another 10 minutes up.  I kept trying to plug away, but in the darkness it becomes rather difficult to stay strong.   Heading back to DamNation I was able to share some miles with Kaci Lickteig and her pacer Miguel.  We had a rather enjoyable conversation which made those 2 miles or so pass by quickly.  We finally made it back to DamNation for the last time and she was quickly through the aid station.  Like clockwork, I spent the next few minutes wasting time.  A lightswitch went on, I started to press hard, afraid of what was behind me.  On the open jeep road I started clicking off low 9 minute miles and came around to the aid station.  Finally a quick stop of only 1-2 minutes, I made my way over the last 4 miles to the finish.  It’s always nice being able to count down those final miles in a hundo.  97 to go, I kept clicking along and caught site of a runner in front of me.  I couldn’t see who it was and wasn’t interested either.  As I passed, I heard, “Josh is that you”.  It was Jason, he was struggling to keep a strong pace.  I tried to will him to join me and break 16 hours.  After he tried to stay for a minute, I started to drop the hammer, thinking to myself, “this is a race, let’s go”.  2 miles to go, I pushed even harder.  1 mile to go, I think I can get under 15:50.  Down the final half mile, I was in an all out race against the clock.  There was no tiredness in my legs.  I sprinted across the line in 15:49:46.  A new PR for me at the 100 mile distance.  Jason would come in over 5 minutes later.
                All in all, I am pleased with the way that I handled the weather conditions and the competition.  I didn’t go out too hard, I dealt with adversity in the form of stomach bloating, and I was able to run a really nice pace for most of the race.  I was disappointed to see that my garmin didn’t record the 100 miles (I think I know what I did wrong), but I estimate that I spent at least 20 minutes in aid stations/loop!!!  A total of over 1hr 40 min and even probably closer to 2 hours.   I definitely need to learn how to manage my race better and figure out how I can reduce those aid station times.  A crew would definitely help with that.  In the end, a better managed race would have gotten me back into Western States, but I am happy to see that Steve Speirs earned that spot and will be representing the east coast in Squaw Valley.  (Steve, if you need a pacer, don’t hesitate to ask!!!)  I am happy to see that I survived well enough to take home my 2nd consecutive USATF Masters National Championship (50 mile road at Tussey was the first).  It pays to be old.
                I want to thank, first and foremost, my wife and children for putting up with me during my crazy training cycles.  I also want to thank my coach, Todd Braje, for making me a stronger and better ultrarunner than I could have been on my own.  I want to think my training partners, Jason Wiley and Matt Wilson, for helping me train through the brutal winters, especially Jason, since he meets me for 5am track workouts!  I want to thank my sponsors, Vitargo S2 and Chester County Running Store for all their support.  And last, but not least, I want to thank Joe Prusaitis and the rest of the race staff and volunteers for putting on such a great race.  I will see y’all in 2015!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I headed into Sunday’s USATF 50 Mile Road National Championship, hosted by the Tussey Mountainback 50 miler with hesitant excitement.  Last year, when I was 39.5 years old, I ran a 22 minute PR at the 50 mile distance in 6hr11min.  I was pretty stoked with that effort, as I ran with Brian Rusiecki for the majority of the race, only to stumble with about 12 miles to go.  Leading up to that race, I had spent the majority of my time training for the Grindstone 100 miler with many hilly runs and hill repeats, yet a lack of mental fortitude forced me to quit at 1:00am after only 7 hours of running.  This year, I would be vying for my first Masters Championship, so needless to say my training differed quite a bit.  I spent many a morning doing track workouts under the lights at Ursinus College and tempo runs on the Schuylkill RiverTrail dodging deer and fallen branches.  Although my training would predict a faster time than last year, a mid-week cold would threaten my appearance on the start line.

For once, I decided to attend the pre-race dinner and it turned out to be a pretty fun event.  As it turned out, my wife and I found a seat at a talent-filled table which included Zach Bitter (last years champion), Cassie Scallon (female runner extraordinaire), Matt Flaherty (king of the stache) and his father, DavidRiddle (no introduction needed), and a couple other fellows.  Conversation was somewhat lacking for I think everybody was nervous about the event that would take place the following morning.  After a rather long, but interesting speech/question-answer period by Zach Bitter and a very spirited “pep-talk” by Harry Groves, a legend of Penn State cross country, the room emptied quickly.  I stuck around to talk with Anna Piskorska and Mike Reddy (good friends and occasional running partners) and was able to have a nice reunion with an old friend, Carroll Pope, from San Marcos, CA, who was attempting his first 50 miler.

Our alarm went off at 5am.  When I say our, I mean my wife/crew and I.  After getting ready, we headed out to the foot of the slopes at the infamous Tussey Mountain Ski Resort.  I tried to make a pretty simple nutrition plan to simplify my aid station “stops”. 

I would start with 1 bottle of Vitargo S2 for the first 2 legs and would get a replenished bottle every leg.  In addition, I would take the occasional S-CAP, as Vitargo lacks any electrolyte replacement

So, promptly at 7am, we headed off toward the first climb. 

I settled into a rather pedestrian pace with Jason Bryant, my main Masters competition, and stayed a few yards or so behind the trio of Zach, Matt, and David.  Toward the top of the climb, Scott Hilditch would catch us.  Scott is another young, inexperienced ultrarunner with a 4:07 mile PR that he set in high school.  I joined up with Scott very shortly after we started the descent on leg 2 and we chatted for awhile. 

I noticed that he wasn’t carrying any fluid, which would later plague him at about the 50K mark.  Soon enough, Cassie Scallon joined us heading out of leg 2 and we had a trio of our own.

We reached the dam in 1:17ish (11 miles).  This was a tad slower than last year, seeing as I made it there in 1:13 in 2012.

Over the next 2 legs, Scott and I would see-saw back and forth.  When there was a climb, he would pull away slightly.  On a flat or descent, I would close the gap.

We exited the aid station at mile 20 as quickly as we had entered.  I didn’t get any updates on the front-runners, as I knew they were out of my league.  My concern was behind me and I wanted to keep pressing as long as I could.
The next 3 legs were new territory for me, as the course had changed from the previous 13 or so years.  We would start with a very mild ½ paved road stretch, followed by a rather challenging 3.5 mile ascent with over 1300 feet of elevation gain.  My pre-race plan was to ease into the ascent by backing off on the short paved portion.  Scott put about 100 yards on me before the climb.  I made sure to keep that distance throughout the whole climb while watching my altimeter click off the elevation.  Soon enough I crested the hill about 30-40 seconds in tow of Scott.  

He was in the aid station when I arrived and a quick exchange of my bottle with my wife and then I was off.  He quickly followed….for about 200 yards….abruptly stopped…and depleted his stomach contents on the beautiful scenery.  That would be the last that I would see of him, until I was drinking beer at the post-race festivities.

What goes up, must go down.  The descent over the next 2 legs would do a number to my legs.  I started to feel some early signs of dehydration as some cramping started in my right calf.  In addition to that, the small rocks started to jab the underside of my foot, which was a bit uncomfortable.  So at the mile 28 aid station, I made the switch to my Hoka’s.  (SIDE NOTE:  I don’t think I will ever really go back to the Montrail Masochist).  

The Hoka’s breathed new life into my feet.  Unfortunately, they didn’t do much for my already damaged legs.  Continuing with the descent, I would get passed by a guy named Jason Baer and Cassie Scallon (the eventual women’s champion).  I tried to go with them, but the pain in my legs was too much.

I reached mile 30 at ~3:45, 15 minutes slower than last year and realized it would be a struggle to the finish.  As I turned up the road for leg 9, I saw Jason up ahead….walking.  I tried to use that to motivate me and give chase, but my legs didn’t want to respond as much as I wanted them to.  Rather slowly I made it to the mile 35 aid station at Penn Roosevelt Park.  

I took my only potty break (#1) and realized the extent of my dehydration.  I made a pact with myself to drink some more water and take more S-caps.  My nutrition seemed pretty dead on, but the pre-race illness left me somewhat empty.  I stuck to Vitargo S2 for the entire race, and probably went through at least 9-10 bottles!  Not once did I desire any solid food, however, I did take ½ a Clif Shot gel for the caffeine.  It was at this point, that I noticed Jason Bryant walking around, as he had dropped early with a recurring injury (or so I heard).  That boosted my confidence, as he was my only known threat for the Masters Championship.  Additionally, my amazing wife informed me that David Riddle dropped.  I was now the 4th place male with 3rd place in my sights!  Unfortunately, my elation wouldn’t last, as Scott Dunlap entered the scene.

I had never met Scotty D., but have come across his blog several times.  I knew that he was a strong athlete, but wouldn’t consider him a threat under normal circumstances.  However, this race was everything but normal.
My legs are done.  I am dehydrated and cramping.  Shit! 

I climbed strong, knowing that that didn’t affect my cramps so much.  I started the descent down to the river and soon enough Scott closed the gap.  Fortunately for me, he didn’t make the pass, but started a conversation.  The pain started to subside from my legs as we progressed toward the lake.  

As we hit the road around mile 40, I mentioned to Scott that David dropped and that the top master was only 10 minutes up.  He was somewhat surprised as he thought I was top master.  I informed him that I was joking.  It would have been a good ploy, but I wouldn’t have felt right being dishonest.  We quickly made it into the Coyler Lake aid station.  A quick exchange of my bottle and I was off for the last long climb of the day.  I made sure to make it quick so that Scott wouldn’t latch on.  As it would turn out, I put about 4-5 minutes on him by the end of the leg, running the entire way, even up the steep climb!  Well, it was a running motion, anyway.  I could have probably walked much faster, but I had to give it every ounce of effort that I could, as I saw Jason walking up ahead.

I crested the hill and began to pick up the pace heading into the next aid station. 

As I came to the intersection with Bear Meadows Road, there was Jason walking up the short ascent before the final 3 mile downhill finish.   With Jason in my sights, I quickly hit my aid and started to give chase.  As I made the short ascent, I glanced to the right, down Treaster Kettle Road.  Scott was nowhere in sight.  Perfect!  Knowing that last year I was able to descend with a couple 6:30 miles, I felt I would be able to close the gap on Jason.  After a short ascent, I made my way to the final downhill miles.  All of the sudden, both calves cramped to the point where I threw my bottle to the ground along with a couple inappropriate curse words.  After what seemed like days, I managed to rub the cramp out and make my way down the hill.  3 miles to go.  As I tried to pick up the pace and catch Jason, a small cramp would hit.  2 miles to go. Looking over my shoulder, the coast was clear.  Every little attempt at acceleration, would bring on a small cramp.  I could only maintain 7:50 down the hill.  1 mile to go!  Look over my shoulder, all clear.  ½ mile to go.  A calmness started to set in as I realized that I was about to accomplish what I set out to do.  As I slowly made my way to the finish line, my head in full tilt and trying to not induce any cramping, I noticed the clock ticking by.  6:53:45, 6:53:50, etc.  As it turns out, I would give back that 22 minutes from last year and become the USATF 50 Mile Masters National Champion for 2013 in the process.

No more than 2 minutes later, Scott would enter the scene and finish with a 25 min PR!  After he caught his breath, I congratulated him on a well fought race.


The best part, of course, is the post-race refreshments at the Pavilion.  You can't beat a nice cold beer after 50 miles of pain!

Congratulations to everybody, runners/crew/volunteers, on another successful race.  I am already looking forward to returning in 2014!

Most of all, thank you to my beautiful wife for supporting me in all the stupid stuff that I do!

Muscle Fuel:  Vitargo S2 (1:1 mix of unsweetened and tropical)
Electrolytes:  Succeed S-CAPS
Shoes:  Montrail Mountain Masochist, then Hoka One One Evo Stinson
Socks:  Balega
Shorts:  Pearl Izumi Compression Shorts
Shirt:  Race-Ready
Altimeter:  High Gear Axiomax
Garmin:  310XT
Post-race beer:  Pale Ale, I forget which one it was