Tuesday, December 20, 2011


There’s nothing like FINALLY getting that monkey off your back!  For the past 2 years, I have been attempting to run the Tussey Mountainback 50 miler in Boalsburg, PA. 
Take 1:
Tussey was slated to be my very first ultra event following a long and “illustrious career” of sub-sub-sub elite marathon running.  I trained as anyone would for their first ultra….run about 20 miles during the week and backfill with mega, back-to-back long runs on the weekend for a weekly total of 70-80 mpw.  Throwing all my past experience with marathon training and “coaching” out the window, I grabbed this training program by the horns.  Unfortunately, it dragged me through the dirt, mud, rocks, and rooty trails.  The stress and strain of weekend warrior training was likely too much to bear, seeing as a very low key soccer pick-up game led to injury 1 month prior to game time.  This injury wasn’t like any injury I ever had….wait….oh…yeah..never been injured.  This was a first!  In the end, I toed the line at the base of Tussey Mountain in the Applachians, proceeded up the first few miles of the Tussey 50 Miler (2009), felt a twinge in my foot/ankle, saved-faced for a couple miles (i.e. 31), then dropped from my first ultra attempt.
Take 2:
Following Tussey, my foot/ankle recouped and my ultra ‘career” had begun with a successful year of low key events.  With a couple wins and a couple 3rd place finishes under my belt, including a New York State Ultra Championship, I signed up for redemption at Tussey 50 miler, 2010 ed.  Now…being an “experienced” ultra-runner, I trained evenly, did my workouts, long-runs, etc.  Ready to toe the line against a stellar field for the 2010 USATF National 50 Mile road championships, including Todd Braje (defending champion), Dave James, Howard Nippert, and others, I tapered as anyone should.  On Saturday, one week prior to the race, a pain in my ankle appeared.  Nervously, I attended to the pain by visiting my podiatrist.  Posterior Tibial Tendonitis.  I pulled out from Tussey that year, before it even began…but asked Michael Casper to defer my entry until 2011….he obliged.
Take 3:
As the tendonitis in my ankle subsided, I discovered how therapeutic the Montrail Masochist could be.  My foot felt at home in this shoe.  Slightly different feel than the New Balance MT100s or MT101s.  My foot “heeled” although there always seems to be something there, I can pretty much run without any issues.  During the 2011 ultra year, I trained a lot and raced even more.  Following some low key events like Kent Prizer’s Fat Ass 50K (1st), Febapple Frozen Fifty Mile (1st), HAT 50K (DNF), Ice Age 50M (5th), Laurel Highlands 77M (2nd), and Vermont 100 (35th; see my Vermont blog), I was ready to tackle Tussey for a 3rd time (although really only my 2nd attempt).  Opportunistically, the Blues Cruise 50K occurred 3 weeks prior to Tussey, so I signed up hoping to get one last long training run in before Tussey…or so I thought.  On Friday, September 30th, walked Evan to the bus stop as I do any other school morning.  Like clockwork, we had a catch with a tennis ball while waiting for the bus.  I wished him well with a hug and a kiss and walked back with Emma (my daughter) to our house.  “Emma…do you think I can reach the garage with this tennis ball?”  TOSS!  5 minutes later, standing in the garage, I felt a twinge in my back…WTF???  From a tennis ball?!!!  Really?  You gotta be kidding me.  Well…there goes the Blues Cruise 50K!  Race was won in 4:02 or something.  A sidenote…this was my training pace around the lake about a month ago for 29 miles.  Anyway..to make a long story short, I recouped enough for a busy taper month leading up to Tussey.  Usually, I don’t like to taper so long, but better to be well-rested and healthy than side-lined again.
Race day
Sunday, October 23rd was as perfect a race morning could be.  With temps in the low 30’s and forecasted to reach 60, the weather couldn’t be any better.  This was the 3rd year in a row that Tussey served as the National Championship 50 Mile race.  With more prize money on the line, a more competitive field was drawn to compete.  As usual, Todd Braje would return to try for the 3-peat after defending his championship last year In a course record 5:43.  Michael Wardian entered the race fresh off helping Team USA grab a Gold medal at the World 100K championships with a 6h42m performance.  In addition to these racing studs, the starting line-up included David James (USATF 100 Mile Trail Champ), Michael Arnstein (Vermont 100 Champ),  Jeremy Pade (an up and coming ultra-dude), Mark Godale, Matt Woods, and others.  A top five would be tough, a top 10 would require a solid effort.  As we lined up at the starting line, I introduced myself to Todd (I’ve been in email contact with him, since he lives in my old stomping grounds of San Diego and we have some mutual friends) and Jeremy Pade.  The horn sounded, or someone said go…I wasn’t really paying attention.  And we were off.

Heading into Tussey this year, I had a pre-determined race plan and goal finishing time.  I always like to set high goals, which aren’t always that realistic.  For instance, running under 16 hours at the Vermont 100, my first 100 miler, turned out to be one of those unrealistic goals.  However, unrealistic doesn’t mean unachievable.  I know what I can achieve and a 6h15min time seemed doable, if everything came together.  6h15min equates to 7:30/mile over a extremely runnable course with only 5000ft of elevation gain.  My plan was simple:  Mile 1-10 = 70 minutes, Mile 11-20 = 75 minutes, Mile 21-30 = 75 minutes, Mile 31-40 = 75 minutes, Mile 41-50 = 80 minutes (the last 10 miles are the toughest!).

Leg 1 (0-3.2 miles):  As we headed off into the darkness, a 6-man pack formed immediately at the front, including the usual suspects:  Wardian (#2), Braje (#1), James (#4), Arnstein (#5), Pade (#7), and Finger (#55).  I had told myself to run my own race and not get sucked into a stupid pace with the leaders and I stayed true to myself.  It wasn’t my fault the pace was slow heading up the first climb of the day.  We clicked through mile 1 in 7:30, which included over 200 foot of ascent.  But, it was easy.  As we continued to climb, Arnstein described his experience at the Spartathlon and Wardian talked about 100K Worlds, the others talked, and Pade and I were silent.  Probably, both a little intimidated by the company that we kept, but both trying to produce high caliber performances.  The climb went quickly and we would soon summit after 860 feet of climbing in a bit over 3 miles and 23 minutes.  We approached the first aid station with the volunteers calling out, “#2, #1, #4, #5, #7, and #55!”  You had to be there, it sounded hilarious.  I am sure #2, #4, and #5 wondered, ‘who the hell is #55!’
Leg 2 &3 (3.2-11 miles):   Immediately after the initial climb, the course descends over the next 7 miles with absolutely no ascent.  Being the smart, non-aggressive type, I let the low numbers go.  Although I descended quickly averaging 6:45/mile for the next 7 miles, they descended quicker.  I imagine their pace hovered around 6:15/mile and they were out of sight after another 4-5 miles.  I wasn’t worried.  I was sticking to my plan!  I was soon joined by Evan Cestari at ~mile 7.  I’ve seen Evan’s name in race reports regarding Massanutten and perhaps some other races, but wasn’t that concerned.  Don’t get me wrong, Evan is a tough runner over 100 miles, but I didn’t recall any “faster” “shorter” endurance races on his resume.  Tussey, being a “road” race plays more into the road marathoners’ hand, and that is what I used to be with a PR of 2:38.  Again, not fast, but faster than the average human.  We chatted for a bit about 100 milers, mutual acquaintances, etc., and would click through 10 miles in 1:10:30.  My race plan was coming together slowly.  In the Whipple Dam parking lot, I would meet up with my crew (my wife, two children, and mother-in-law).  A quick exchange of the water bottle (containing Endurox) and a chug-a-lug-lug of Ensure and I would be on my way.  Although Evan didn’t stop, I quickly reeled him back in within the next 0.25 mile.  The aid station only took about 5-10 seconds.  Not bad, considering I chugged down 250 calories of Ensure!
Leg 4 (11-17.2 miles):  As the race continued, Evan and I stayed together.  We were soon passed by Matt Smith and then Mark Godale (#6).  No alarms were sounding.  Our pace was still strong with a 7:20 average from miles 10-15.  The next major hill hit having 359 feet of gain and our pace would slow to 8:51.  I made a mental note that Evan tended to fall back on the climbs, but then close back in on the descents and may have even commented to him that that didn’t play into my favor with the last 4 miles being downhill.  But, we continued cruising along over the next mile to mile 17 (7:22) and the next aid station.  By this time, I had to jump in the job-johnny and let go of some extra weight.  A little over a minute had passed.  The chill in the morning air had now subsided and 17 miles of ATP consumption started to warm the soul.  I dumped my gloves with Andrew McDowell’s wife and headed off..
Leg 5 (17.2 to 21.2 miles):  It didn’t take long to reel in Evan.  Extremely runnable terrain with a gentle descent makes these miles very tolerable.  I picked the pace up (after leaving some weight behind) to a comfortable 7:01 (M18), 6:36 (M19), 7:02 (M20) and 7:12 (M21).  After catching back up to Evan, we ran the majority of this leg together.  Since I have run this course in training and during that previous injured attempt, I knew the next 2 legs were make-or-break legs.  Greeted by my crew, I was happy to refuel with some more Ensure, change of bottle, and a fig newton.  I “quickly” headed off after a 44 second “break” ready to tackle the long hill.
Leg 6 (21.2 to 26.5 miles):  Keeping a steady, easy pace on leg 6 is the key to making the 2nd half of this race “enjoyable”.  Over the next 5.3 miles, the course steadily climbs for 700ft of gain.  This isn’t daunting on paper when you do the math of an average 2-3% grade.  However, the grade increases gradually from beginning (2%) to end (5%).  As we headed out, Evan fell off the pace a bit.  I continued to run comfortably up the hill clocking 7:19 (M22), 7:21 (M23), 7:30 (M24), 8:18 (M25), and 7:41 (M26).  As I turned the corner toward Penn Roosevelt Park, Evan was nowhere in sight.  I would learn later that he had to drop with hamstring? issues.  Over the last few miles, the endurox didn’t seem to be working well.  I started to feel dehydration set in and slight hints of cramping in my right leg.
Leg 7 (26.5 to 30.5 miles):   I quickly deposited my endurox on the ground and had the volunteers fill my bottle with water, hoping this would turn my hydration status around.  With only a 5 second stop, I continued onto leg 7 with another nice mile long climb of ~300 ft.  The water seemed to be helping with the slight cramping and I continued to push.  With the climb, mile 27 had slowed to 8:27, however, I would quickly recover to a 7:14 (M28), 7:16 (M29), and 7:00 (M30).  With the accelerating pace, I caught glimpses of a fading David James (probably just doing a training run, anyway).  I passed the 2011 USATF 100 Mile champion and immediately saw Matt Smith fading fast.  The aid station came quick and my wife and crew were happy to see me in 6th place!  Another quick stop in the job-johnny and refueling then I headed back out.
Leg 8 (30.9 to 33.7):  Having stopped for the bathroom and aid, I slipped back into 7th, but quickly reeled Matt back in over the next mile (7:15).  Leg 8 is easy with a similar amount of descent and ascent.  I was cruising along in 6th now, chasing 5th.  I soon would see 5th place in the form of Jeremy Pade after a 7:14 (M32) and 6:52 (M33).  We headed into the next aid station side-by-side and for some reason, I refueled.  Don’t really think I needed it, but for some reason wound up losing 1 minute to Jeremy.
Leg 9 (33.7-36.5):  The race to the lake began.  I had Jeremy in my sights and gradually closed the gap right at the start of the paved section with a 7:29 (M34) and 7:14 (M35).  I surged past Jeremy with a 6:53 (M36) and arrived at the lake quickly, about 2 minutes after Mark Godale (4th).  Another quick exchange with my wife and I was off.  But, stupid me…I grabbed Endurox.
Leg 10 (36.5 to 41.8 miles):  I headed down the road set on catching Godale.  Mile 37 went down in 7:37 which included the 23 second refueling.  Heading up the next hill felt like slow motion compared to the previous 10 miles which I had covered in a little less than 1h12 min.  I glanced back and saw Jeremy a few hundred meters back.  Knowing what hills lay ahead, I started running scared.  The next few miles, I felt like I was alone, bleeding in the ocean and Jeremy was the hungry shark, ready to gobble me up.  I approached the next major climb after averaging 8:17/mile over miles 38-40.  Jeremy was gaining and I was doing what I could to ward off the attack.  The mile 41 climb loomed in the distance and I struggled with a “power”-hike/jog through a 10:40 mile.  I managed to hold him off and put what little distance between us that I could leading up to mile 42 (8:50).
Leg 11 (41.8 to 45.8 miles):  Although, I managed to hold Jeremy off on leg 10, the bleeding continued and the shark attack was imminent.  After a quick water bottle exchange with my wife, I was off still in 5th place.  Leg 11 is the out-n-back leg with an initial 200+ft climb, 300+ft descent, a quick turn-around, and repeat.  A few minutes into the climb, Braje (2nd) still looked strong a few minutes ahead of Arnstein (3rd).  I had only missed Wardian, who was a ways ahead en route to his amazing course record.  Soon after seeing Arnstein, Jeremy attacked on the hill.  I fell back about 30 meters, but was able to maintain that distance on the climb.  Mark Godale didn’t come into sight until about 3 minutes from the turn around.   I closed the gap on Jeremy to the turn-around and tried to focus on the return climb.  Jeremy had climbing legs and I didn’t.  The gap opened to about 100 meters at the summit, but again on the downhill to Bear Meadows, I closed the gap and we were neck and neck.  But, I for some reason, I started to  lose focus.
Leg 12 (45.8 to the Finish):   Stupidity set in.  A neck and neck race for a 5th place finish in the National Championships and I stop for aid with a fairly easy 4.2 mile finishing leg!!!  STUPID.  I really don’t know what I was thinking.  I guess that is where experience pays off!  Entering the aid station, I stopped to exchange my water bottle, but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted.  Powerade or Water.  It felt like an eternity.  And perhaps it was, with the finish a “short” distance away.  I headed onto leg 12, dazed and confused.  The next mile reduced me to a walk, despite only a small incline.  Focus…gone!  Will I maintain 6th.  Andrew McDowell was at least 12 minutes back.  I started to push down the long hill over the next 3 miles.  Jeremy couldn’t be too far ahead.   Mile 48 went by in 7:08, Mile 49 in 7:35.  No sign of Jeremy in front and no sign of Andrew behind.  I shut it down over the next mile, but probably couldn’t go any faster than 8:30 anyway.  I crossed the finish line for a 6th place finish in 6:33+ almost 1 hour behind Michael Wardian in 1st (5:33+).  Todd Braje held off Michael Arnstein for 2nd place.

Even though I am happy with my performance, I feel that I could have done much better with different fueling options.  The Ensure worked wonderfully, as it usually does.  The high calorie content tends to make up for my difficulties in taking gels or any real solid foods during the race.  I need to figure out solid fuels in my preparation for Rocky Raccoon, but I might just have to be prepared to go on Ensure, powerade, water, and blocks.

After the race, I had the opportunity to talk for a length of time with Todd Braje and David James.  I enjoyed a post-race brew with Andrew McDowell and Keith Straw.  And most importantly, I got to share the entire experience with my family and they got to see first-hand how crazy their father really is…AGAIN!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Vermont 100 Race Report

Five weeks should be enough time to recover from the difficult terrain that makes the Laurel Highland 77 mile trail race…..if your planning to run a 5K….however if the race is a 100 miler…not so much.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t my thinking when I decided to run Laurel Highlands this year after a mediocre showing at the Ice Age Trail 50 Mile race.  “Laurel Highlands should be a nice training run to bridge the gap between Green Lakes and Vermont”.  Don’t ever consider saying, let alone thinking, these words when you are a newbie to ultra-running.  This might be an achievable feat for Nick Clark or Geoff Roes or Ian Sharman, but not for Joshua Finger.
I chose the Vermont 100 mile endurance run for several reasons:  (1)  I run pretty well in the heat; (2)  70% of the course covers jeep roads; (3)  Vermont is within driving distance; (4)  beautiful mountain scenery; (5)  good competition; (6)  I didn’t get into Western States via the Lottery.  My training following the LH77 mile trail run was more about recovery and maintenance, then about 100 mile training.  Instead of focusing solely on Vermont with peak mileage weeks around 120-130 mpw about 3-4 weeks out, I was gingerly limping up and down staircases questioning my decision.  Although the weeks leading up to LH77 consisted of 120 miles, the weeks following LH77 consisted of ~45 miles and 2 weeks at 65 miles, followed by a two week taper.  The big question that loomed within, “Is the Laurel doo-doo still in my legs.”
We drove up to White River Junction/Quechee Vermont on Thursday morning.  This would be the first real ultra that my kids would see firsthand and maybe they would understand what I meant about how much work goes into getting each trophy.  After each race, my children “fight” amongst themselves about who gets to keep the hardware.  For Laurel Highlands, finishers in under 24 hours received a nice wooden mile marker trophy with a “77” branding.  I commented to Evan, “That trophy took a lot of hard work.”  His response, “No it didn’t Daddy.  It’s just two pieces of wood bolted together!”  Leave it to Evan to think of it that way.  His favorite TV show isn’t “How it’s Made” for nothing!  Anyway, the 7-1/2 hour trek to Vermont went by relatively quickly.  In addition to my wife (crew/eventual “pacer”) and children (motivators) in attendance, my crew/spectator list would include my parents (spectators/RV hosts), Matt Wilson (crew/pacer), and Patty Wilson (crew).
Race time was fast approaching; I set my alarm for 2am, however, had some difficulty sleeping and awoke at 12:45am.  I had plenty of time to go through my pre-run routine.  I ate two homemade banana, chocolate chip muffins and drank a cup of Green Mountain coffee that I had picked up the day before.  Matt and Patty arrived at the RV around 2:45am and we were soon off to the start line located in West Windsor, VT.  As we approached the meadow, it looked like a scene out of “Field of Dreams”, with a line of cars heading to nowhere.  Soon enough start time approached and I was off on my 100 mile journey.  I reconnected with Brian Rusiecki at the start line and we decided to hang back a bit from the lead pack.  The first mile dropped about 200 feet on one of the jeep roads that would eventually make up about 70% of the course.  Over the first 20 miles, we were joined by Boston resident, Robert “Marty” Shaw, who was fresh off a wind-assisted 2:37 Boston Marathon.   This stretch was pretty uneventful with occasional bathroom breaks littered throughout.  I think I released pressure from both portals only once during these early miles.  (A little side note about the Vermont 100:  in addition to travelling 100 miles on foot over road and trail, the elevation changes that you endure throughout the race are substantial.  Although the race started at 1350 feet above sea level and tops out around 1950 feet above sea level, the elevation gain approached 15000 feet, with an equal amount of descent.).  Conversation was pretty good among the 3 of us, talking about past races, the course, work, etc.  Brian seemed extremely interested in the Laurel Highlands race and may be making an appearance next year.  Should make for some good competition!  Anywho, this stretch was relaxing, however, much faster than I had originally anticipated.  We would wind up hitting 20 miles in 2:51:07 (8:33/mile average) which included 2700’ ascent and 2600’ descent.   At Pretty House aid station (mile 21), I would see my crew for the first time and discover I was running in 12th place about 12 minutes behind the leaders, which included Michael Arnstein, Leigh Schmitt, and Justin Angle, among others.  The three of us hit the aid station together; however, Brian would jump out ahead with me in tow by about 1 minute.
Over the next 10 miles, the course undulated with 1500’ ascent and 1900’ descent.  With each mile, my legs would feel more tired.  It’s disconcerting when you still have over 70 miles and over 11,000’ of hills to climb and descend.  I was happy to see my crew at mile 30 (4hr25min) and had to hide my discomfort, so that they wouldn’t worry.  At this point, I had to make sure to refuel for the next 17 miles, for the next time I would see them, I would be just shy of halfway.  I also had to hit the porta-potty one last time.  Unfortunately, I had to wait for about 1 minute while a spectator did their business.  Not a big deal for a 100 miler, but if it was a marathon, I would have been pissed.  I had taken over 9th place at this point and soon enough would continue down the road.  Only about 0.3 miles or so, the course would turn up into some more difficult climbs.  In addition to the difficult footing, the temperatures would start to climb now that the sun was out.  These initial climbs were steep, reducing me to a 12:27 mile.  The course shot down over the next mile and would undulate a bit after that.  I found that the trail sections, as usual, tended to slow my pace a bit over the next few miles, but I was able to find somewhat of a rhythm that kept me around 9 min/mile pace.  At ~41 miles another climb presented itself having 467 feet for the mile and, of course, I was reduced to a slow slogging motion with a 15:53 mile.  It seemed every climb until Camp Ten Bear would reduce me to a walk or slow climb.  These climbs came often enough and started to leave negative thoughts in my head.  I was looking forward to seeing my crew again at mile 47 (Camp Ten Bear).  In addition to being the first weigh-in of the day, my parents were supposed to be there with Evan and Emma.  When I approached the aid station, I was saddened that my kids weren’t there.  It’s easy to get a little choked up when you’ve been looking forward to something and it doesn’t come to fruition.   My placing hadn’t changed much over those 17 miles.  I hit mile 47 at 7:25:45 (9:25/mile overall).  Notice my pace has slowed since the first 20 miles.  It would continue to do so.  After getting over the initial impact of not seeing my kids, I hoped on the scale and was happy to see that I was only 3 lbs under weight.  The scale was different than the one used for the initial weigh-in ad I suspect it was off a few pounds.  There was no way I had lost 3 lbs by now.  But, 3lbs was nowhere near my 7lb limit.
As I exited Camp Ten Bear, I tried to use the frustration of not seeing my kids to my advantage.  Unfortunately, the next 6 miles included some nasty climbs over some of the more technical sections and included some shoe sucking mud.  Fortunately, I didn’t throw a tire.  It was during this section where I started losing a couple positions and would fall outside the top 10 (for a few moments at least). It was also during this time that I realized my power-hiking/climbing needs A LOT of work.  My slow hike was no match for the faster climb of others.  Fortunately, it was this point where I met Stuart Johnson from Seattle.  I don’t know what it was, but it was somewhat motivating talking to him as we hiked up the mud-slide.  As we talked, I noticed our pace increasing to under 10 min pace!!!!  This isn’t hammering by any stretch of the imagination, however, it is when the past 6 miles are clocked in at an average of 13:30/mile.  The mile 54 aid station (Birminghams) approached and I was able to regroup, refuel, and recharge.  A quick 1:20 stop and I was off heading toward the Pinkys (Mile 57) where I would hopefully see ALL of my crew.  As the miles clicked by, I noticed the pace increasing 9:45, 8:45, 7:45.  I was moving and feeling good.  No pain in the legs.  I heard one spectator on the side of the road comment, “Man…that dude is flying!” 
I felt great coming down into Pinkys and could see my kids playing on the side of the road, Matt, Patty, Teri, my parents, everyone.  I was psyched…ready to roll.  Feeling great.  I had gained back a position and was in 10th at the Pinkys.  After 2 minutes of refueling, I quickly set off down the road and up  3 miles of hill….RUNNING….at 10:30 pace.  That is 3 miles of hills with 950 feet of climb and only 70 feet of descent.  I was RUNNING up them.  I felt great.  After the climbs, I headed over some rolling terrain, mostly downhill, with 3 miles hovering around 9min/mile.  I quickly, and I mean quickly reached Margaritaville aid station at mile 62.  I think my crew was surprised to see me so soon.  I had gained another position, hopping into 9th.  My crew pointed out that Andrew McDowell was only a couple minutes up.  After a quick 1 min refuel and boost, I powered out of Margaritaville (didn’t even notice the intricacies of the aid station). 
The next 4 miles climbed a bit in the hot sun, so pace did slow a bit, but still hovered at 10:40/mile.  I reached the top of the climb and another unmanned aid station.  I stopped in the shade a little, took a pee on a tree, refilled with some water and some HEED and was on my way.  On the way down to Camp Ten Bear, I could see Andy in the distance.  He seemed to be struggling a bit, whether it was the heat, distance whatever, I knew I would catch him. I descended upon him at 9min/mile pace and slowed for a chat.  Andrew lives in Downingtown, which is only about 15 minutes from my house and only 2 minutes from Matt.  I wanted to discuss future training in the area, because I think it is key to build a strong ultra community when you can, especially since there are not that many crazies willing to do this crap.  We slogged on down the hill into Camp Ten Bear together for the 2nd weigh-in on the day.  As I had expected, the previous scale was off, cause this scale had me right on my weigh-in weight of 148 lbs.  At this point in the race, pacers are allowed to join in the fun, so Matt was ready to go for a quick 30 miles, at least that was the initial thought.
The climb out of Camp Ten Bear was massive, at least it felt as much.  We walked the entire climb of ~540 feet at 17 min pace.  Welcome to the Vermont course Matt!!!!  However, soon we were off running again around 11-12 min pace for the next 4 miles.  More interesting, I was gaining position and had climbed into 6th place by mile 75.  As the miles continued to click off, the climbs and descents, trails and roads, started to take a toll.  My legs started develop that downhill pain that we all love.  The next 10 miles would go by slowly at 12:20 pace.  It appeared I was doing better on the climbs than on the descents.   I was also more comfortable on the roads than on the trails.  My paces would flip-flop depending on the surface and the terrain.  I hoped to keep it going, however, my race was quickly coming undone.  As Matt and I approached the aid station at mile 83, I noticed another runner quickly approaching down the hill.  I didn’t know if it was a 100K runner or 100 mile runner.  As we left the aid station and made the turn, I asked Matt to circle back and check out the bib number color.  Sure enough, he was a 100 miler and I was soon in danger of going backward.  Over the next couple miles, we worked to hold him off as long as possible, but it was inevitable.
Here is an excerpt from Aaron Mulder’s blog (http://rootsrocksraces.blogspot.com/2011/07/race-report-2011-vermont-100-mile.html).  He has it spelled out nicely:
At one point I came blazing down a hill to an aid station, to see a runner and his pacer leaving it just ahead.  They turned the corner just down the road, and then the pacer popped back out in a mad dash for the aid station.  A volunteer shouted "What, what did you forget?"  The pacer made it 80% of the way back to the station, then turned around and headed out again.  Ha!  I knew what that was.  That was him checking whether I had a red (100K) or black (100M) bib.  If you saw a pair of runners then you could pretty much count on it being a 100-miler and pacer.  But an individual could be in either race...
I still had to stop at the station, but I knew that was another guy I'd be catching.  If he was that concerned, he wasn't going to stay ahead for 15 or 20 miles.  In fact, I was taking all the downhills faster, so while he held me off for a while on the climbs, I caught up on a descent.  We chatted briefly, and I noted that I saw him checking out my bib color back there at the station.  "Yup."  "Thought so.  Well, good luck to you!"  I headed on
It was about at this point when walking the rest of the way was the recipe for the day.  Walking into Bill’s (aid station at mile 88) was disheartening.  I fell back to 10th position and still had a long road ahead.  The sun was starting to get lower in the sky, so we grabbed a couple headlamps for the slow trek ahead.  Since the plan was to walk the rest of the way, my wife decided to join us over the next 7 miles to the mile 95 aid station.  A couple miles in, the temperatures started to drop a bit, and dumb me forgot to grab a shirt.  So, here I am walking, dehydrated, in the early evening hours, after being on the course of 16 hours.  Each downhill required a slow, backward, descent.  The pain in my legs was too much to bare going down with the forward motion.  Soon enough, I started to get cold.  My pace started to slow form 20-23 min/mile pace to 30-40 min/mile pace.  The only logical thing to do, would be to send Matt ahead to grab me my long sleeve shirt.  Within about 20-25 minutes, Matt returned and I was in an awful state.  Definite hypothermia had set-in.  It was the death march of all death marches.  We could finally see the mile 95 aid station ahead.  The slow bob of my headlamp was confusing to the volunteers.  Is that a runner, horse, apparition???  I came into the aid station ready to drop from the race.  I was talked out of it by some spectators/volunteers.  They quickly laid me down on a beach chair with my legs raised to keep the blood pooling in my legs.  After a couple blood pressure reading attempts, they called the EMTs to get a better assessment.  With a blanket covering me, the chills subsided.  I drank some fluids (Gatorade, soup, etc).  The EMTs arrived and took my blood pressure manually.  100/60.  LOW!  I sat for about 10 minutes drinking fluids and my blood pressure would start to rise.  I was feeling much better now and planning to head out for the final push to the finish. 
Volunteer (V):  “What is your number? “
Me (M):  “Why?”
V:  “So, I can log you out of the race”
M:  I am not done!!!  I have 4.5 miles to go and it is only 19 hours.  I have plenty of time.
V:  To the medic, “What do you think”
Medic:  “I am not making that call, but he is doing much, much better”.

So, after about 40-45 minutes of laying down, sitting, refueling, I was off down the road again with Matt and Teri joining me.  It was again a slow push, however, with a sweatshirt and running pants, I stayed nice and warm.  My garmin had died during my repose, so I have no idea about pace.  I was walking pretty good though and think it hovered around 20 min/mile.  We were moving right along, reaching the last unmanned aid station at mile 97.7.  On the move to the station, one runner (Jullian) was sleeping while being pulled along by a bandana by his pacer.  The next 2.3 miles included some steep climbs on roads and trails.  We would eventually reach 1 mile to go.  In another quarter mile, I stopped, disrobed from my running pants and sweatshirt, handed them to Matt and Teri, and took off down the trail.  This wasn’t the easiest trail to run at 1:15 in the morning, but I was determined to cross that finish line running with full steam.  I crossed the finish line in 21:19 for my first 100 mile finish.  Patty was surprised to see me at the finish.  She was sleeping in here chair and I had to alert her that I was finished.  About 5 minutes later, Teri and Matt came into the finish area.  We walked to the car, drove back to the RV, Teri and I took showers, and I went to bed.

This was by far the toughtest race I have run to date.  The slow time was probably a combination of many factors.  Running LH77 probably had the biggest impact and I learned a valuable lesson from it.  I will be heading back to Vermont someday, cause I have some unfinished business there.  I know I can run this course in 16 hours or faster.  No doubt about it.  I just have to approach it smarter and with a better training stimulus.  I was so grateful to share this milestone with my family, especially my wife.  Her support everyday and during those last 11 miles are/were unwavering.  She is my bedrock.  Thanks to my children, Evan and Emma, for putting up with my early morning runs.  Thanks to Matt Wilson and Patty Wilson for the wonderful support during the entire day and night.  I know how tough it is to stand around all day for someone to come running by shouting orders.  Thanks to my parents for driving the RV up and serving as my Howard Johnson.  Thanks to Vermont for putting on such a great event.  I look forward to coming back and taking care of business.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Respect the Course!

So...finally I found some time to blog about the past 6 weeks post the Ice Age 50 Miler.  Life doesn't lend a helping hand when there are only 24 hours in the day.  In the past, I was an afternoon runner on the weekdays, however, with Evan partaking in organized sports for the first time, I needed to sacrifice my afternoons to be a better father.  It helps that there is a "large" supportive group of ultra runners in the area who train at..what some would call...absurb hours of the morning.  "Large" refers to anything greater than 1.  'Cause as an ultrarunner, averaging 10-12 miles starting at 4:45-5:00am isn't considered normal.  It is hard to convince anyone else otherwise.  By the way...Johnny Cash was f$&cking cool!!  (Watching Johnny Cash in Folsom Prison documentary).  Well, Jason Wiley doesn't need any convincing.  This MOFO is crazier than me.  And that is hard to pull off!  Jason has been running solo during the wee hours of the morning and it is only recently (i.e. the past 8 weeks), that I have been joining him.  Daily we meet for an easy 10-11 miles on Monday at 5am from Oaks.  Tuesday consists of a freaking tempo or something quick totalling 10-11 miles.  This past week was 3 x 2 miles with 3min rest.  Man I've lost some speed, but was still able to run the last 2 mile at 11:37.  Considering that I used to do these things at 5:20 pace, that's not too bad for an ultrarunner at 5am.  Wednesday typically takes us on the "Goat run" up the Perkiomen trail.  Since Jason is really the only reader of my blog, I don't need to explain this one.  Thursday typically takes us on the only real hills in the area in Valley Forge Park, Mount Joy and Mount Misery.  A complete loop is ~3.8 miles with 750 ft of elevation gain.  I done 8 in one session for a total of 6000' for 31 miles.  Not a bad 50K.  There's an idea!!!   Hmmm!  Anyway, where was I.

Oh....Laurel Highlands "race" report.  I decided to run LH77 mile after failing to qualify for one of the remaining WS100 spots at the Ice Age trail 50 mile.  Not that I really think I could have grabbed one of those spots when you have to run against Zach Gingerich, Lon Freeman, and Glen Redpath, but you gotta try.  Laurel Highlands is a point to point race on the extremely difficult Laurel Highlands trail including 11,389' elevation gain and approximately the same amount of loss.  With the race taking place in the middle of June, temperatures typically start in the mid-60s, however, rise over the course of the day to the mid-80s or more, with the typical high humidity of the northeast.  Last year, I opted for the 50K event (my first non-fat ass Ultra) and took 1st place, uncontested, by 6 minutes.  I learned a thing or two from going harder in the 50K race, that made me treat the course with respect the 2nd time around.  Others may not have given the course the same respect that I did and paid for it in the end.  Since this 77 mile race was an "unplanned" stop on my race calendar, I decided to use a extremely minimal taper.  2 weeks before (Memorial day weekend), I logged 70 miles from Saturday to Monday for a weekly total of 120 miles.  With 1 week remaining until LH77, I decided to take it easier during the week, only logging 40 miles from Monday to Friday with Friday as a travel day and off-day from running.  Adding on top of that the LH77, pretty much gave me back to back 120 mile weeks.  This is mileage my legs aren't quite used to anymore, not since training my ass off for Philly Marathon in 2007 when I averaged 93 miles/week for the year (Took the last 6 weeks off following Philly).  Anyway, my "taper" wasn't going to do me any good the day of the run, however, I am hoping the strength and knowledge that I gained from LH77 helps me toward my Vermont 100 goal ( 2 weeks from now...Yikes!!!).  I am in taper mode now for that one.  Hence the reason I am writing this "report" and not out running, especially tonight when my wife is consoling her friend (husband is cheating) and the kids are at my parents (who were out Roes-watching in Juneau the past couple weeks).  I think they saw him dodging a porcupine on the trail.  Anyway...my writing sucks, but I dont' think I need to plan things out to write something that will probably be used against me when they try to commit me.

So...back to the story....LH77 would be my longest run ever, with my previous best of 100K.  15 miles doesn't seem like much, but when it's after a 62 mile warm-up, it's like running with a monkey, orangutan, and gorilla on your back.  My wife (Eleftheria) and I drove out to Confluence, PA and stayed in a nice house.  Confluence is only about 10 miles from the start in Ohiopyle, right on the Youghigoney (sp?) river.  The race started at 5:30am and I was off at a blazing 9 min mile.  Respecting the course.  I was in about 10th place or so.  Others were not respecting the course.  The first 9 miles includes over 3000 ft of elevation gain with only about 1500 ft descent.  Last year I covered it in about 1:27.  This year, I hit 10 miles in about 2 hours.  Respecting the course!  After 10 miles the course "flattens" out a bit and your able to infuse some "speed" into the legs up to about 8-9 minute pace.  The rocky terrain keeps ya honest.  At the first checkpoint of 19 miles, I was only 8 minutes out of 1st.  Respecting the course and in good position to make strides over the next 58 miles.  I reached the 50K turnoff about 23 minutes slower than last year and reached the 2nd checkpoint, gaining 2 more minutes on the leader (Dan Rose) with Andrew Bartle running in 2nd only 2 minutes up.  Despite what some others may have thought.....this race wasn't in the bag.  Still another 47 miles to go, with temperatures rising and another 5000' of gain to go.  As I left each aid station, Derek Schultz would enter only about 1-2 minutes back.  Derek is an up and coming ultrarunner who lives close to me, but I hardly ever get to train with, since he runs at about 8pm.  His training seems to be going well for Pine to Palm under the hired hand of Ian Torrance.  I don't understand why anyone would pay $125/month for training advice....when I will give it for free.....Run...Run...Then Run some more!!!  At an aid station around mile 38, I decided to work with Derek to chase down Dan and Andrew.  Figuring we were only 5 minutes in the rear, it shouldn't take too long to catch up to them, knowing they expended vast amounts of energy running faster earlier on the difficult terrain.  As a side note, Andrew was the only real competition on my radar having run 6:11 or something at Tussey Mountainback.  We do have similar road times for the marathon.  Anyway, it was at this point when I hit my first setback of the day.  A lack of energy sucked away from me on the detour.  For some reason, I couldn't keep the pace with Schultz.  Tired legs from no taper????  Lack of calories????  Hate running other peoples races????  I slowed to a walk for a couple minutes and tought about the WS100 Geoff Roes Comeback.  I started doubling my calorie intake and felt a boost of energy within a mile.  Soon enough, I was back to running 9 min pace up the hill toward mile 44 aid station, only to find that my the directions were horrible for crew access and my wife didn't make it there.  So, no Ensure...no Endurox...no more S!CAPS!...Oh, well...after checking with the vollie, I found out that I only lost 3 minutes on Derek in my incapacitated state.  I started running well and soon caught Dan Rose trotting along on the trail.  I asked if everything was alright and he responded something about his hammy.  Tough break.  Respect the course.  Within a few minutes I caught and past Andrew Bartle suffering from dehydration.  Tough break...Respect the course.  At mile 48-52, I succumbed to another tough spell.  Dehydration, lack of calories, tired, all of the above.  Taking ~1hr to cover those 4 miles seemed like a lifetime.  When I reached the next aid station at 52, I was so happy to see my wife.  I chugged down 2 bottles of Ensure (500 calories) and took 3 S!CAPS.  Refilled everything I needed and charged after Derek, although now I was 6 minutes down.  A vollie or observer commented that the next several miles were runnable.  I started moving "nicely"  8-9 minute pace.  Hoping to be gaining on Derek.  However, I would reach the next checkpoint another 11 minutes in the rear and a total of 17 minutes down.  The race was just about over.  I kept pressing on and would reach the next aid station at mile 68 only about 14 minutes down.  I was gaining on him!!!!!  It's now or never.  I left the aid station literally screaming down the trail.  Pysching myself up for what hopefully would be a quick 9 miles with the last 3 miles of decent (~1200ft).  The trail was runnable, so I was able to move at 7:30 pace and everything felt as good as it could feel until I hit the downhill and my downhill legs were shot.  I actually had to walk downhill at 18 minute pace for mile 76 and lost anytime that I gained over the last 7 miles.  It was a fruitless effort chasing Derek with his fresh legs.  I look forward to going head to head at Masochist.  But, for now..I need to focus on my first 100 miler at Vermont, followed by UROC in September.  It will be nice having a racing break in August.  I wil need it, if I am going to toe the line against the likes of Geoff Roes, Dave Mackey, Karl Meltzer and others...not that I think I will beat them...I just hope to finish with 1 hour of them.

Look for my next race report on the heavily contested Good Neighbor Day 15K on July 4th as a final speed session leading up to Vermont, which should be a fun adventure!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2011 Ice Age Trail 50 Mile Race Report

The Ice Age Trail 50 Mile, celebrating its 30th Anniversary, is the oldest trail race in the Midwest.  Centrally located in La Grange, Wisconsin, the Ice Age Trail consists mostly of single track, runable terrain tracking through pine groves, over eskers, and around lakes.  The never ending hills and valleys with occasional ankle twisting rocks and roots make it difficult to notice the courses’ natural beauty.  It takes a seasoned trail runner to navigate this terrain without becoming intimate with it.  Luckily, I would be one of those lucky few this year vying for chance to run one of the most prestigious races in ultra running today.  As it has been for the past couple of years, the Ice Age Trail 50 Miles also happens to be race #11 of the Montrail Ultra Cup series with 2 Western States slots up for grabs.  You can bet that those remaining WS100 slots will be highly contested among several elite ultra runners. 
The Ice Age Trail 50 Mile race is broken into 3 sections of varying terrain.  Although the elevation change isn’t significant (only ~3400ft), it is forever undulating.  The first section, navigating the Nordic Trail, is definitely the easiest of the three, covering ten miles of cross-country ski trails including several small hills.  Footing is easy, allowing for a quick-paced start.  Section 2 begins after a short meander across Bluff Road to Confusion Corner, where all three sections of the course converge.  From Confusion corner (mile 10.5), the course picks up the Ice Age Trail heading south to Rice Lake and back.  Over the next 20+ miles, the course winds through changes in scenery, trail direction, elevation, and grade.  After traversing the many technical hills of the southern Ice Age trail and making your way back to Confusion Corner, another 16 miles awaits on the northern Ice Age Trail.  Section 3 consists of more undulating terrain from Confusion Corner to the Emma Carlin Trails, climbing over Indian Signal Hill, a Native American spiritual site that, according to settlers accounts from the mid-1800s, attracted Native American peoples from far away distances.  After a return trip from the Carlin Trails, cross Bluff road and “fly” down the flatter Nordic Trail to the finish line and some cold Milwaukee Brew.
One of my goals today was to try and break into the top two and gain entry into Western State 100M on June 25th.  The morning started with a 4am wake-up call.  Even though I had a restless night of sleep, I felt surprising fresh in the morning.  I don’t drink caffeinated coffee anymore and haven’t done so since the beginning of February.  So, my breakfast consisted of the norm:  cup of decaf and two pieces of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and jelly.  We drove out to the Nordic Trail from our hotel in Lake Geneva, WI, (about a 30 minutes drive) arriving around 5:15am.  After making a short stop at the port-a-john, I was ready to roll to the starting line set to go toe-to-toe with some of the more elite ultra runners in the nation.
The 2011 Ice Age starting line-up would not disappoint.  Runners hailing from both East and West coasts, North and South, would vie for those coveted top 2 spots.  After my normal pre-race research, I knew the competition would be fierce, including runners like Lon Freeman, Glen Redpath, Zach Gingerich, and many others.  Zach Gingerich is one of the most prolific mid-western runners, having finished 3rd in Ultrarunner of the Year Voting, with a prestigious 1st place finish at Badwater 135M in 2010 and the fastest 50 and 100 mile times in the United States last year.  Glen Redpath is no slouch either, having finished 12th at Miwok 100K a week prior, a top 10 finish at the 2010 WS100, and many more ultra wins.  Lon “The Wild Card” Freeman with his not so hot WS100 finish last year, could not be overlooked, owing to his previous 5:58 at the American River 50 Mile, and top finishes at races like Mountain Masochist and many other.  As for other dark horses, there are too many to count, but with break out performances, could spell trouble and hurt any chances of reaching WS this year.
As we went out, the field of ~290 runners thinned out quickly with Shaun Pope, Lon Freeman, and Zach Gingerich sprinting off the line well under 6:30 pace, while I quickly fell into 7th position with an opening 7:23 mile.  Over the first 9 miles, I would remain in that position just trying to stay relaxed and slow.  Each mile would click on by and I would continue to try and slow the pace down.  We all know that that never really works.  It may feel slower, but the pace remains the same.  I chatted briefly with Tim Long from Boulder, CO (running in 6th) who had run Collegiate Peaks 50M the prior weekend.  I reached the end of the Nordic Trail loop (9 miles) in 1:06:36 which included about 30 seconds of stoppage at the aid station.  With a quick wardrobe change from long sleeve to short and refueling with a bottle of Ensure, I was off again into 7th position.  Over the next 2 miles, I would pass Tim and take over 6th place behind Jim O’Brien and Glen Redpath.  Glen had just come off a 12th place finish at the Miwok 100K last weekend in the Marin Headlands.  I figure after a race like that, there has to be do-do in his legs (boy was I wrong).  I quickly overtook Jim and hung on the heels of Glen over the next 6 miles of undulating terrain.  We reached aid station #5 at mile 17+.  Glen continued through with no stopping, while I refueled with an Ensure, changed water bottles (containing Endurox), popped 200mg of Advil and continued on my way.  I dropped over a minute behind Glen.  The first turnaround is a small loop of approximately 0.5 miles.  Approaching the first turnaround, I passed by Shaun Pope in the lead (~11 minutes up) followed by Lon Freeman about 2 minutes behind.  Zach and Glen were still on the loop, which meant I was only about 3 to 4 minutes behind 3rd position.  As I left the loop, Glen was quickly within sight.  I made the pass over Glen to 4th place around mile 23 and found myself about 30 seconds behind Zach (according to several out-bound runners).    At halfway, I glance at my watch which read 3:10.  Not a bad 25 mile split for this course, considering the winning time the past 2 years has been 6:20.  That 30 seconds would grow to ~2 minutes after stopping at aid station #5 again for more Ensure, Advil, and gels.  I left the aid station before Glen, remaining in 4th position.  However, after a quick nature break a few minutes later, Glen approached again, breathing heavily.  I figured the do-do in his legs was catching up to him.  I pressed on trying to close the gap on 3rd place and Zach Gingerich, however that would never happen.  I would reach 30 miles in 3:53:41.  Following section #2 on the Ice Age Trail, you continue past confusion corner onto section #3.  I held onto 4th until about mile 35, when Glen made his move, leaving me in his wake.  Glen asked if everything was okay and I said, I was going through a rough patch.  He responded, “get some caffeine!”  If I had some on me, I might have obliged, but in the middle of the woods, there is none readily available.  His lead over me would grow to about 10 minutes at the 40 mile turnaround.  10 minutes in 5 miles!  Yikes!!  Zach was only about 1 minute up on Glen, with Lon clinging to 2nd, and Shaun in first.  Shaun looked strong, while Lon seemed to be having trouble with the hills.  Zach was plodding along in his Nike MayFly’s.  Yes….MayFly’s on a trail course!!  On a side note, for those who don’t know, MayFlys are extremely lightweight (~4 oz) shoes which were discontinued many years ago.  I used to use them for road courses, but would never imagine using them on a trail course….with no socks…and toes sticking out the front.  Anyway, I reached the 40 mile turnaround at 5:31:45, leaving me with ~1:30 for the next 10 miles to break 7 hours.  At the turn, my rough patch from mile 32-40 would pass and I picked up the pace to about 9 min pace for the next two miles, after a few 10-11 minute miles.  Growing fearful of losing my 5th position, I would search for on-coming runners.  The next runner to pass would be Jim O’Brien, 23 minutes behind with others in tow!!  I continued to press on over the next few miles hitting the Nordic Trail with 1.5 miles remaining in 6:48.  The hypoxic math mind performed some calculations, “8 minute pace to finish sub 7!”  I started to push it so my Garmin was reading 8 min pace.  I thought this a likely scenario, until the couple steep inclines arrived.  Walking up hills at 8 min pace, doesn’t happen, not on these legs.  The next 1.5 miles seemed to go on forever, however, I would cross the finish line in 7:01:06 for 5th place.
I was very happy to have survived the day.  I couldn’t have done it without my wife’s motivating words, “Don’t you dare drop out of this thing, after dragging me to Wisconsin!!”  Thank you, Honey!
1.  Shaun Pope (6:27)
2.  Lon Freeman (6:34)
3.  Zach Gingerich (6:43)
4.  Glen Redpath (6:48)
5.  Josh Finger (7:01)
6.  Peter Witucki (7:27)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Weekly Summary: Apr 18 - Apr 24

Mon-PM:  11 miles (1:30) Joy-GWHQ, 600'
Ran with Matt from Knox's HQ.  Raining today.  Muddy trails. Ran into Trail-Ben, another British runner on the trails.  His name wasn't Ben, but he will forever be known as Trail-Ben.
Tues-PM:  11 miles (1:17) Betzwood Loop + extra loop, 421'
Afterwork run with Tantino.  Ran Betzwood in 49 min (6.5 miles), then added on another 4.5 miles in 28:50 on the trails.  Felt pretty decent.  No abdominal problems.  Don't even think I had to go potty.
Wed-AM:  11 miles (1:28:32)  Betzwood-Sanctuary, 352'
Early morning run with Jason.  Started at 5am.

Wed-PM:  7 miles (52:25)  Betzwood-Sanctuary, 502'
First double in a really, really long time.  Ran with Ben and Mike.  They weren't too happy with the loop.  They enjoy flatter running, but I convinced them to run this loop.  As always, running with these two tends to be faster than normal easy runs, but didn't feel too bad.

Thurs:  0.00 miles (XX:XX)
Friday-AM:  10.4 miles (1:35:51) French Creek, 1027'
Met Matt at Shed Road.  Ran down Lenape to the Six-Penny loop.  Nice 400' climb.  Then back down Six-Penny to Boone and back to Lenape up to Shed.
Saturday-AM:  22.75 miles (3:09) GVHS, 2140'
What a crappy run.  Was supposed to run 30 miles with Matt at Blue Marsh.  Started at 7am.  Raining hard and cold for the first 2 hours.  Then the rain subsided and ran the last hour wet and chafed.  Course was nice despite being muddy and wet.  Sure hope Ice Age has some decent weather.  It would be nice to have a race where I don't have to deal with the elements and can just relax and run 50 miles.

Sunday-AM:  14.5 miles (1:46:38) Chester Springs, 1206'
Ran with Matt starting at 6am.  Started out stronger than usual.  Ran the first mile in 8:20 with 185 ft elevation gain.  We then started running nice steady pace through 10 miles in 1:12:30.  Re-chafing started in mile 11 and I had to run at what felt like a snails pace (8:20-9:00).  Interestingly, I can see this as being a really nice pace for Vermont.

Mileage = 88
Vertical = 6200'
Days off = 1

Not a bad week back from GI issues.  7-10 days of good training remaining, then taper will begin for Ice Age.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Weekly Summary: Apr 11 - Apr 17


Running was hampered this week due to illness.  My son was sick early in the week, but I managed to get about 8.5 on Monday and 11 on Tuesday.  When Wednesday came around for the workout, I had GI troubles, requiring immediate attention about 5-6 times during the run.  Needless to say, the workout did not happen and I only made it out for about 5.5 miles.  Thursday and Friday were days trying to recover from those issues.  Saturday, I was able to get 15 miles in the morning with the guys, very easy, but the rest of the day was spent with the GI distress.  No idea what the problem is.  I guess I got a bug from Evan.  Anyway, took Sunday off from running and primed the walls in the basement.  Didn't have any bathroom issues this day.  So, what was the damage.  40 miles and 3 days off.  Missed Boston.  Better having this problem now, then when Ice Age comes around.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekly Summary: Apr 04 - Apr 10

WEEKLY SUMMARY: Apr 04 - Apr 10

Mon-PM:  5.1 miles (36:40) Baseball Pratice to Home, 285'
It was like 70 degrees or so out, so not used to running in this weather after the cold winter.  Don't know if it was the weather or the tired legs from the weekend that made me feel horrible for this run.  That is the reason for the shorter distance.

Tues-PM:  10.9 miles (1:20) Betzwood Loop + extra loop, 421'
Ran with Mike Tantino.  He has been out for a long time.  Pace was a little faster than I tend to like on my easy days, but got into groove after a little bit.

Wed-PM:  0 miles (X:XX)  Did not run.
 Evan had baseball practive at 5pm..then went to Iron Hill for dinner.

Thurs-PM:  13.1 miles (1:39)  Tantino loop than modified DML, 1256'
Ran with Mike T. for about 5.5 miles, then added on a loop of Joy and Misery alone.  Ran harder up the hills.

Friday-AM:  11 miles (1:27) Betzwood from Oaks, 284'
Ran with Jason starting at 5:00am.  Early morning run, but felt pretty good on it.  Could have went for more.
Saturday-AM:  15 miles (1:49) GVHS, 1253'
Met Matt at GVHS for a workout at 7am.  Ran a 5 miles warm-up in 39 minutes easy.  Then 4 x 10 minute tempo with 3 minute jog between.  The tempos were at 6min/mile over rolling hills.  Effort was definitely harder than the 6min/mile.  Finished it up with a 2.6 mil "cooldown" back to cars.  The cooldown was up Yellow Springs which is a longuphill followed by steep down.

Sunday-AM:  26.2 miles (4:00) French Creek/Horseshow Trail, 2447'
Met with Matt and Jason at Scott's Run Lake parking at 6am.  Headed out on trail before sunrise.  Very slow going considering the technicality of the trails.  Ran out to Warwick Park.  This will be the last 13+ miles of the proposed Horseshoe Trail race.  On way back, ran faster.  Legs tired, but was able to push harder the last 4 miles on very technical trail.

Mileage = 81
Vertical = 6000'
Days off = 1

This was my "off" week.  Took it a bit easier with mileage and vertical this week.  Not bad for an off week being 80 miles.  Decided that I probably will run Boston on the 18th.  Probably won't run very hard.  Will just try to keep pace for a 2:45-2:50.  Don't want to tire the legs to much or ruin my mental racing mind for Ice Age.  Will be an interesting run.  Going to drive up on Sunday and camp in Highlander somewhere.  I will have to see what Lee's goal is.  Maybe I can run with him.  I have a feeling the road is going to take something out of my legs post-race week.  Anyway, should be fun!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

WEEKLY SUMMARY: Mar 28 - Apr 03

Mon-PM:  9.6 miles (1:13) Kimberton Whole Foods-Home, 745'
A new chapter in our lives has started.  Evan is playing in an organized team sport.  Today was his first practice and he did remarkably well.  Evan's a quick learner!  Anyway, after practice, my wife took him home and I ran from the Kimberton Whole Foods starting at around 7:30 or so.  Headlamp needed new batteries and made the trip home challenging.

Tues-PM:  7.75 miles (1:02) Joy-Misery x 2, 1312'
Cause I am a masochist.  Was going to run 3 loops, but wanted to go home and have play catch with Evan.

Wed-PM:  11.6 miles (1:40)  Joy-Misery x 3, 2000'
Garmin battery died.  Ran 3 reverse loops and practice power-hiking up the steeper sections.

Thurs-PM:  11 miles (1:23)  SRT, 282'
Workout on the Schulykill River Trail with Matt.  6 x 5 min w/ 2 min jog.  Started easy, though legs tired.  Paces were 5:56, 5:54, 5:52, 5:48, 5:44, 5:38.

Friday-AM:  8.25 miles (1:)5) Perkiomen Trail, 282'
Ran with Jason starting at 5:30am.  Raining during the run, but snowed after.  Probably would have preferred the snow.

Saturday-AM:  22 miles (3:30) Horseshoe Trail, 3000'
Exploration run on the Horseshoe Trail.  This section will wind up being miles 20-30 for the 100K race.  Tough, tough section.  Some very steep hills with lots of rocks and debris fields.  Looks like a tornado or something shredded trees apart.  Almost killed myself on a fall, but stopped my head from hitting a big log by about 6 inches.  I am sure it would have knocked me unconscious and probably of split my head open.  Lucky Day!!!
The 10.5 mile entry below is the direction the race will proceed and has over 1600ft of climbing and 1233 ft of descent.

03APR2011 (Happy Birthday to me)
Sunday-AM:  20.5 miles (2:36) Betzwood-Sanctuary, 863'
Met up with Terry, Patrick, Paul, Mike, and Carolyn for a stroll through the flat sections of VF.  Ran 4 miles before running with them.  Legs were tired today, but was able to go up the hills strong.

Mileage = 91
Vertical = 8500'
Days off = 0

Sunday, March 27, 2011

WEEKLY SUMMARY: Mar 21 - Mar 27

Mon-PM:  11.5 miles (1:15) Oaks-Betzwood-Sanctuary loop, 348'
Trail wet from rain all morning.  Don't know what got into me running this fast for a "recovery" week, but it felt pretty good.

Tues-PM:  10.5 miles (1:13) LL-GWHQ-JOY lollipop loop, 753'
Met up with Ben for easy run on trails.  Legs felt a little tired on hills, but all in all getting through it.  Ran two parking lot loops before Ben arrived.

Wed-PM:  9.65 miles (1:12)  LL-GWHQ-Joy lollipop loop, 753'
Raining and 39 degrees, but didn't feel cold.  Ran Joy with some passion, could have went longer, but it was getting late.

Thurs-PM:  11 miles (1:27)  Joy-Misery X2, 1604'
Cold day in the afternoon.  Ran from Waynes Woods parking lot to Mt. Joy, then Mount Misery.  Repeat.  Then run up Joy and back to lot.


Saturday-AM:  31 miles (4:33) Joy-Misery X8, 5306'
The Joy-Misery Loop is a loop consisting of two east coast "mountains" in Valley Forge Park, which measures ~700ft of vertical gain for a total distance of 3.85 miles.  From the Knox's HQs Parking lot, head up the paved path toward Mount Joy.  Take a left onto the trail after the tree stump.  Mt. Joy is relatively devoid of rocks, however, does have some sections on the climbs.  There are also two fallen trees which test your agility.  After Joy, the loop heads over to Mt Misery after crossing Rt 252.  You are only on the road for about 0.1 mile, then you start the 370' climb up the very, rocky side of Misery on the start of the Horseshoe-Trail (a 141 mile trail that leads to the Appalachian Trail).  The climb lasts about 0.8 miles at which point, you shoot down another less rocky section with many log steps, joining up with Yellow Springs Road.  Taking a left on Yellow Springs head through the Covered Bridge and up Rt 252 to finish the loop at Knox's HQs.

Started running at 5:45am and completed 2 loops with headlamp.  Met Jason (winner of St. Croix 50 miler) at 7:00am and ran 6 more loops with Jason.  Jong showed up during my 4th loop.  Very nice run.  Temperatures were 21F at the start and 36F after run completed.  Refueled with 2 bottles of Ensure, 1 bottle after loop 4 (15.5miles), and 1 bottle after loop 6 (23.3 miles).  Ran with fuel belt to see how this would feel for Vermont 100.  Felt really good and you can pack alot of stuff in it.  Today, I used a water bottle with Endurox and refilled it with water after loop 7.  All in all, felt really great the whole time.  We reversed the loop on loops 5 and 8.  Those climbs are tougher, but I didn't power walk/hike at all.  Kept the body moving. 

We ran into Alex on loop 5 and chatted for about 5 minutes.  It will be nice expanding the running group with Alex and Derek.  We just need to get on similar pages.  I think these Joy-Misery loops would do them well, especially with Highland Sky (Alex) and Pine to Palm (Derek) coming up.  There just aren't any other places close-by that offer this type of climbing (i.e.  Western States-ish climbing).

Sunday-AM:  20 miles (2:31) Betzwood-Sanctuary, 747'
Met up with Jason at LL parking lot and ran 3+ miles with him, then headed back to LL to meet Terry and Patrick.  Went out easy along Betzwood trail, up Sanctuary, and back along SRT.  Ran the last couple miles of SRT at faster clip (6:40; 5:55).  Felt pretty good, surprisingly.  Patrick dropped the hammer even more with 0.5 miles to go.  I think he hit 5:43 or so.  Couldn't get my legs to move that fast after yesterday.

Pretty good week of running and will serve as a good base for training leading to Ice Age and Vermont.  Who knows, if things go well at Ice Age, maybe Western States too!  Acquired over 9000' vertical this week, but will need to focus on getting more vertical in my daily running routine, so probably means more Joy-Misery Loops

Mileage = 93
Vertical = 9511'
Days off = 1