Tuesday, May 16, 2017

More like the Extra Dirty German....

Sometimes, I look forward to sharing my thoughts about my running and get ideas of what I want to say only to not write things up in time or forget the cool catchy yarn I want to spin.

We can call this a clear mix of the two. Since last time I threw up on this blog, I've added races of 60K, 5K and 50M all the while working to stay focused on running. I'll tell you it has been hard. Allergies finally hit. A planned race was not doable for issues with the truck. And work got super stressful! The latter which required some serious overtime. Most of these were grouped around the start of May. This has enabled me to dub May, not exactly my best month. A few years ago, I had three ultra DNF's which I followed up last year with super stress from having my whole routine thrown out the window by serving practically two weeks on a jury. This led to stress causing a late DNS at World's End. Yeah, May....

Anyways, I've been managing fairly well this year. My sleeping rhythms (whether a good night or bad night) have me up running before 6am (sometimes a shade after). With the early sun, I've been able to do these morning runs mainly on trails. Most of my training has been within the Wissahickon lately. While I do not usually do my 20+ milers through there on the upper trails, on the day of my aborted race, I spent 3 hours cranking out some enjoyable footfalls. You might say that right now the runs through there have been centering. Sure I do a little pavement here and there on my morning runs, but I find myself dipping onto the trails.

Of course, I do not expect y'all to come here merely to read how I train but want to know about some racing. As I mentioned above, I've done three notable runs. The first was the 3rd edition of Bryan Court 100. Prior to this year's April edition, it was last held in Dec 2015. It is 100 laps around a .38 mile double cul du sac street. The brainchild of my friends Jurgen and Otto, it is not so much a race despite official results with awards and finisher medals but a good time to do a long run with friends. I needed the mileage considering I had just been moved off the wait list for TGNY 100 in June. And one of the things I hate to do by myself all the time are super long runs. (Anything about 20 as a training run moves into that category.)  BC100 was exactly the experience I hoped for. Got in miles. Got to hang out with people. Great day!

Now originally, I was going to follow up BC with Lake Waramaug 100K. Mid-week, I started to get hit with stress at work and that turned into anxiety surrounding the race, Luckily since I had not signed up, I opted to do a different race, Ironmaster's Challenge. It was closer by an hour, on trail instead of road, and I could sleep in the truck for free the night before. Not to mention, they had race day registration. Unfortunately, I never made it out to the race. The afternoon prior to my departure, the truck started running really poorly. It's an old truck so we expect some tempermentalism from it. However, the difference was this time the Check Engine light was on. Still I departed around 7pm to head out to Pine Grove Furnace. Considering, I had some time for the truck to settle down (since sometimes warming up does the trick), I told myself if the truck was not running right by the time I would hop on the PA Turnpike, I wouldn't go. This ended up being the case and the truck ended up in the shop twice the following week to correct the issue.

Mentally, I pushed through and did my 3 hour run through the Wissahickon getting in 22 of the 31 miles I had planned. Having almost bagged the run before 5 miles, this was a boost and led into a solid week of training and a 5K.

Sure, it was Broad Street 10 Mile weekend but I was doing a 5K because I was not signed up for the 10 miler because I had ultras on my slate. (Hello, conflict!) So I dipped my toes into speed again and went back to the Alex Wake Memorial 5K held at the Baldwin School. For whatever reason, this year the race felt smaller than when I did it back in 2014. (At least I think it was 14 and not 15.) Last time, I had won a gift card to Bryn Mawr Running Company and was hoping to do the same again. And considering without any present shoe sponsor, I planned on building up some cash to get a new pair of shoes. In fact, I had not only my previous gift card from this race but a second gift card to the store. In the end, the race ended up being 7 seconds slower than my previous winning time. A bit of a bummer but I did get another BMRC GC which I promptly went to spend after the race. Again with TGNY in mind, I got a pair of Clifton 3. I would have got the Brooks Hyperion for a road flat too but they were out of my size. (Amazingly, I also found out one of the old GC that I thought was for 50 was for 100!)

Lets call this starting to feel good!

And feeling good I was. In the week leading up to Alex Wake, I got into the Dirty German 50 Miler. I was going back for two reasons. I needed the miles with not doing the end of April ultra and a bit of redemption for 2015 when it was one of my May DNF's. The forecast looked good. Cooler temps! (Unlike the sufferfest of heat last time.) However, as the race got closer cool temps became cool temps and a Nor'easter!

Thankfully, the RD, Stephan green lit the race to continue.

Now, while feeling guilty for the mud running that was likely to occur, I was pleased as punch to be running this race in the rain. It is a little more suited to my liking.

With the forecast, I elected to bring a tent to the race (held in Philadelphia's Pennypack Park) to stash my stuff so that I would have dry gear, shoes to change if need be, my hydration.....

Let me say right now, I was very happy with this decision. Once the tent was set up, I stayed not only dry but warm as I did the final moments of prep. Bottles filled. Check. Shoes laid out. Check. Glide applied. Check. Bib pinned. Check. Socks....socks. Where are my socks? Search through the bag. How is it, I have everything else but my socks? Deep breaths. Apparently, somehow the extra socks I tend to leave in my ultra gear bag for races were not there. Now, I had one pair of slightly damp socks I wore to the race. Troubleshooting in the spot. I needed to determine my best combination options. Best non-sock shoes in this weather? I immediately identified my Montrail FluidFlex as the best draining shoes and thus the best choice for no socks. Considering my FluidFlex II's looked too shiny, I figured no sense to use those. That left me with LaSportiva Vertical K and Helios. After working with what fits best with my Farm To Feet socks, I decided to go with the Vertical K. In fact, I opted to start the race with this combo and go to the Montrails if need be. The Helios were comfy enough to walk around in post race without socks and the best candidate to keep me warm after. Crisis adverted. At least for now.

Fueling wise the plan was simple. 3 laps. 3 bottles. For the first lap, I would go with my Nathan SpeedShot Plus followed by Nathan ExoDraws for each of the last two. I would keep Clif ShotBlocs in my Nathan Hipster throughout the race. I would say this worked out wonderfully. No issues with this plan.

A couple of minutes before the start, I popped out of the tent, scurried to do my business and make it to the start just as Stephan was giving instructions before we went off. (Following a countdown of course.)

Like that we were off as the first race of the race (50K started 30 minutes after us and 25K an additional 30 minutes later). I got a few words of encouragement from people I didn't see. (Quite possibly all my friends staying dry who were doing the shorter races.) This encouragement prompted the runner a few strides ahead of me to ask if I was...well who I am. I confirmed this. Turns out the runner, whose name is Jameson, had heard about me through Peg during his own training in the Wissahickon. Small world? Probably not in this case considering...same city.

Anyways, it appeared we would be running together for some time. (I'd say we opened up a good gap from the start never really thinking about anyone behind us.)

1st lap....check out lap 3 later (it is of the same section)
Photo: Christopher Mortensen

Now the benefit of being out front for the first race of the day is getting the best trail conditions possible for the day. And of course, all the surprises nobody else has experienced yet. The first of which was the initial Pennypack Creek crossing due to a bridge detour. That creek was angry and it was still early. The rain was only going to make it worse later. I uttered something about fearing it on later loops. Aside from that one stretch, the first loop was rather uneventful. Tried to stay away from any giant puddles, run the drier edges and not push the pace too much. Jameson and I were pretty inseparable for that lap until he made a pee stop (sorry to out you but it is the nature of these) near the finish. Not long after I left for my second loop, he caught up and were we back together. This time we both discovered the creek crossing had been rerouted over the bridge. (Stephan later said the creek was really high on the 25K runners. Clearly. adding to the need to reroute on the fly.)

Also, it was obvious, that the course was going to be muddier and slower this go round. (It would be on this loop that I would slip twice.)

Buttery Singletrack
Photo: Renne Farrington Wentz

Maybe it was the rain but I did mention that I thought we might have missed a section between aid stations 2 and 3. For some reason, I felt like we had not done part of the course that you run in both directions. Our time on the first lap felt fast at 2 hours. I mentioned if we did miss it, I would run it twice this lap to make up the difference. (Which would be three actually since it would be correct time, back out to do it again and do it again.) Thankfully, I was wrong. I apparently my brain did not process one straighter stretch as the section I thought we missed. (This is the stretch right after AS 1 and right before AS3.) And yet, on the first loop on the way into AS 3, a group of runners asked if they were going the right way which I assured them. Because I will say this, despite the rain, the ground trail markings help up really well!

Following the 'repeater section', Jameson started to become a little elastic in his contact. Still we were together. Talking a little less but still together enjoying the weather. At one point, Jameson blew by me on a stream crossing. I was taking them careful. We hooked back up and it was through here that I started to distance myself from him. To be honest, I enjoyed the initial company but I'd rather not talk about my running in the middle of a race. So I was happy to be left to my own devices. It wasn't like I was alone with other runners around.

Eventually heading back to AS1/AS3, I could see that the aid station moved a little as the creek was now creeping up over the banks onto the paved path. Thus, reminding me to be happy about not having to cross the creek like the first loop. The rest of the loop was uneventful aside from working to pass people on slippery muddy singletrack. Loop 2 was 13 minutes slower than Loop 1.

During my start/finish pit-stop, I saw Sean from the Wissahickon Wanderers who ran the 25K. I was focused on getting back out so I didn't say much other than it beginning to suck a little as I took an ibuprofen and switched bottles for the last time.

On this loop, I hit what really is AS1 but with it being so close to the Start/Finish, less than a 1/4 mile, I am not calling it that. Here, I grabbed a swig of Coke and for whatever reason a Keebler-esque Fudge Cookie. Boy did that taste yummy! Much yummier than the trails looked. Lets call it what it is....a mudrun at this point. Water is really ponding on the trails. Especially those closer to the creek. Anyways, I felt good enough. Yet, as I got close to AS1, I started to crave those cookies again. However, it had been moved again due to an ever increasing creek overflow and it would have required extra steps, so I skipped it. Now, I was feeling like I was running through water. Some stretches it was either take the mud slopes or the water stream. Usually, I went with the latter as it ran quicker from a terrain standpoint. When it was a river on the path, that was a different story. That sucked! It created loads more resistance. I would say out of everything with the race, that is what made it super slow the third loop. Honestly, I was amazed I still got traction running at all!

3rd Lap - Another paved section under water
Photo: Christopher Mortensen

For the first time all day, I hit up AS2 for Coke and I grabbed 3 of those fudge cookies. Delicious!

Someone caught me eating all the cookies....(actually AS1/3 guest host)
Photo: Jeff Landerkin

More running through mud and water......

Photo: Kevin Minteer

AS3......course reroute!

The creek is now flooded to the point we now had a manned road crossing. (Stephan along with the volunteers did a great job looking out for the safety of the runners and making changes on the fly.)

Of course, I did not realize this at first. The downhill into AS3 was clearly different but I thought that reroute was for safety of sliding into the aid station. But if you are moving the course closer to the snack table, you bet I was grabbing cookies and coke before attempting to ford the path. Yes, I was going to go through the creek. My biggest worry was a Canada Goose floating right in my pathway. That is until, the volunteers shouted to me that I had to go up now. OH!!!!

Photo: Melissa Lin

I will say the changes made for a much more exciting memorable race. I was enjoying it expected I was starting to feel a little tired and sore. Not to mention cold. For my first lap, I ran with a tech-shirt over my singlet but I shed that before the start of lap 2. My singlet felt warm for much of the race as I was not overheating. However, with getting a little tired, I was feeling like I needed to be out of the rain. I wanted to be done and dry.

While the end could not come soon enough, it did arrive. My last lap was around 2:39. I finished the 50 Mile in 1st place in 6:52. Considering the conditions, I can't say a bad word about the time. I had an enjoyable run. Thanks to the tent, I had a place to change into dry clothes and warm up. Warm felt so good! And the Helios did a good job warming my sockless feet up. While I got no blisters on my feet, despite adding some protection for groin chaffing, I got a little tenderness.

It would have been a blast to hang out longer post race but it was still raining. The hour I did spend was really pleasant. Luckily, I got to see Stephan one last time on the way out. He did an amazing job!

And he has already organized a trail maintenance day post race because of our impact on nature in those conditions! That is hugely considerate and respectful.

Ok..I've waffled long enough now. In the end, I was happy to have done well and get in a good 50 miles. I would take the Nor'easter conditions over 95 degrees with humidity any day of the week.

From here on out, I focus on quality training for Worlds End 50K in 2 1/2 weeks before TGNY 100 two weeks after that. It is a big stretch but one I am feeling up to the challenge. Much more so because I got to take part in the Dirty German this year.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Searching for that sweetspot.....

It has been several weeks now since I DNF'd at HAT. In that time, I've been searching for balance, peace and consistency.

A few days following HAT, I took an excursion to Black Moshannon State Park (and Forest) for a couple of days of hiking, running being in the woods and relaxation. I had a completely refreshing experience and will look to work more local getaways like this into my life. To me what is spoken about nature being a recharger is true.

Initially, I was going to take it much easier following my DNF than the reality has been. Sure I took all of the days before Black Moshannon off but since then, I've been relentlessly pounding out the miles. This has been good and focused. Some days, it is a solo long run. Others it has been a medium morning run followed by a speed session on the treadmill during my lunch break at work. (I tend to eat at my desk so I am not running on empty. Even recently been treating myself to some Entemann's Pop'ems.)

What has been hardest is racing. For whatever reason, the early part of this year has been a little more empty of races. Like I said before, I'd done more in the past. Considering, I use small short races as speed work and a mental training session, this has weighed on me. Thankfully, racing season is picking up somewhat. Last weekend gave me plenty of options which I took advantage of doing 5Ks on both Saturday and Sunday. Sunday became a must after what I felt was a subpar 17:15 at Kristin's Krusade. Sure, I ran 4 miles to the race from home with gear (and uphill to boot) but I was aiming more for a 16:45. Didn't feel gassed but more flat. (After I did run back home too.) Sunday went much better but was way harder. I ran a 16:25 at Healthy Trails (I drove to this one) and did a 3 1/2 mile warm-up. However, I eeked it out by 3 seconds over second. It pushed me to where I nearly threw up at the finish. Would have I felt that way had I not done so much the day prior? Hard to tell but I was feeling better about the faster effort.  In both efforts, I managed to come away with the victory.

Yes, I was pleased as punch to come off a weekend of positives with wins and fast efforts and holding off someone 17 years my junior. In wanting to keep the train going, I planned on racing again this weekend. With Easter being on Sunday, that meant only a handful of Saturday races. I wanted to be a little more low-key and zoned in on a race over in NJ at the Riverwinds complex.

In short, it did not go as hoped. But I should have seen the writing on the wall. I have been sleeping poorly as of late and last night was probably the worst of it. I was up essentially from 4:30 on with only minor cat-naps for the during of my slumber, Not exactly restful. And you ever get that vibe somewhere that hits your spidey sense? Something felt out of sorts.

Despite running faster than last week, I only was able to manage 2nd. Sure second is not a bad placing but the way it happened was something I was not physically or mentally prepared for. A mile into this race and I'm barely hanging on first and my body is lacking any other gear. Immediately my mind went to, not another week like this (referencing last week's narrow win), and while I was done. I was proceeded to be passed and mentally I had no response. (Winner did go sub 16...don't have the official times.) (This also brings me to 4 wins and 4 non-wins aka losses for the year. The latter matching the entire total for 2016.)

So instead of building some positive consistency with getting what I needed out of today's 5K, I didn't and that right now has a bit of a dark cloud lingering. Sure, time wise it has been good but each effort has not been a smooth affair creating a lack of steadiness that I am searching for. What this means for my plans in the next couple of weeks, I'm not entirely sure at this particular moment. All I do know is that I will get back on that horse and try again.

Monday, March 27, 2017

HAT's Off....

So it seems that my 2017 is at a crossroads.

To say, I'm completely surprised by this is me trying to fool even myself. The reality is, I'm not entirely shocked to have reached this point. Over the past couple of years, I'd like to think I've gotten a little more reflective about where my running performance/ability stands.

For those keeping score at home 2015 was a pretty rough year for me from an ultra standpoint. I also viewed that start of the year as a weaker out the gate. Through this point in 2015, I had 2 DNF's, 1-2nd, 1-3rd, 1-4th and 3-1st. However, I did manage to rebound and win Umstead around this time as well but I struggled the rest of the year on a number of levels. Basically, I was forcing things and feeling if I DNF'd that I could just find another race to push myself with.

2016 was a much better year (5 wins in 5 races) and not the point of comparison for this piece like 2015 is.

Right now through 2017, I have 2-DNF's, 2-1st's and 1-2nd. Not horrible but those DNF's are not exactly what I want to be compiling. Also, only one of those results is a 5K. Normally, I have at least one more. Plus, the one I do have was more of a cross country run in the snow than a road course I was hoping it to be. So really, relatively speaking, it is a mixed bag with only my 50K back in Jan being a really solid result that I felt good about. Now there are a few reasons for this. Part of it is that some of the races did not take place this year or I opted for other choices.

My latest choice was to not run Two Rivers Marathon and see if I could do HAT instead. My choice was made because I have been increasingly feeling exhausted from stress (and anxiety as for me the two have a link). The thought of getting up to leave the house at 5am for a 2 1/2 hour drive for a road marathon felt too much to handle. And considering my standard would be the demanding road marathon mindset, I just did not have it. So I felt maybe if I race on the trails instead I would be in a better place. (In addition, I opted to not travel to VA for an ultra next weekend.) Thankfully, I was able to get into the field and toe the line.

However, the best part of my HAT Run was my pre-race ritual on site. Not much else went well. I had surprisingly poor sleep and was incredibly loud in the morning. Then my sunglasses managed to get broken. All this before we started. Yet, while, I went to the front in a modest pace, once we hit a minor uphill and I mean minor, my legs were flat. I thought it might have been just not being loose and that running some more would get me going smoother. NOPE. I was never comfortable. My legs felt heavy and incapable of a fluid feeling stride. I was hardly into the race but I knew I was done. I kept going to see if it would change but the reality was my body was telling me that today was not the day. Still, I managed to get through 17.5 miles before calling it a day. While the day's result is not what I wanted, it provided me with some great information, namely, that I need to rest. That means no running right now. So, I'm taking it light for a few days possibly a couple of weeks.

Yet, the bigger piece of information is that, I need to rethink my priorities at the moment. (And I don't think if I had done the marathon, I would have gotten the same insight.) Back in 2015, my DNF would have likely had me running a race this weekend of comparable distance. Let's not forget I would have gone in with lofty goals as well not thinking the previous effort had any effect on me. This time around, I know that would be a knuckleheaded thing to repeat. It has me rethinking my attempt at a sub 7hr 100K. In fact, it has me rethinking even doing that race altogether. Right now, my main objective from a running standpoint is to get my legs back to feeling springy and being energized. Part of that requires recharging my own batteries too. As a result of that, I will be taking a small getaway to a more remote Western part of PA for a few nights in a cabin in the woods. Theodore Roosevelt typically used his trips to nature to do something similar. I'd never thought I would need the calm of the 'wilderness' like I do periodically. I'm seriously hoping it makes a big impact.

During this woodsy-time, I'll do some hiking and running but those activities will partially be to break up the day that I aim to spend good amounts of time reading. Objective: RELAXATION

Once I come back to civilization, I'll re-evaluate my running goals including the 100K and whether I should race it or not. I will say that on Saturday, my response was not to. But I've relaxed my stance because I've considered going to just set a PR under 8hrs. It seems a more reasonable goal but that is dependent on how I feel. And the reality is that I don't have to decide right when I come back or even get back up to the same running speed. I can take the time to rest and prioritize that. And the reality is that I need to. I understand, I'm pretty fragile, in a manner of speaking, beyond just running. Yes, an aspect of what I am trying to say is that this is bigger than just running. Seriously, I do not want to feel overwhelmed with stress and suffer a paralyzing 'fight or flight' episode. (While I can type words, I'm not entirely sure that these are the best words to describe things but I hope you as a reader get a sense of understanding.)

The biggest part of all this is that not only do I have to make sure my legs feel good to run BUT that my mind and body can handle doing it. This means thinking about whether it will stress me out to the point that I will undo everything I am trying to do to improve at the moment. If the answer is no, than that race is out. Aside from that, I will get back to some shorter local distance focus. I will be staying away from adding any ultra that I have not already signed up for or considered in express discussion with others. (Not all of them have been made public and really they are in the fall.)

I've got time to right this running ship but it does require me to really address my stress and anxiety first. Hopefully the wilderness will do that for me.

What I do know is that I seriously feel like I learned a big lesson from 2015 and that is not to push it. I'm more observant and conscious enough to recognize the potential for doing damage to myself. 2016 was a year to regain a lot, so I will be damned if I lose it again.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Conquered by a Pebble (Foothills 50K Race Report)

Today, I bring you the story of how took a trip to Pickens, South Carolina so I could fall down a mountain.

Yes, I fell down a mountain. And in typical fashion it was not because I tripped on a super technical section of roots or rocks. I either caught a pebble or little nub of a cut tree.

Of course, that single event is bookended by so much more. Ultimately, this is that tale.....

As the calendar flipped from 2016 to 2017, I began to look for some reasonable races where I could travel and expand my horizons through new challenges. Last month's Iron Horse was another such example. In doing my research, I stumbled upon a race called Foothills 50K (aka Conquer the Rock) held at Table Rock State Park in (you guessed it), Pickens, SC. It looked like a challenging race with 18,000 ft of elevation change as we would run 3 loops up and down Pinnacle Mountain.

About Pinnacle Mountain: According to my sources at Wikipedia, they tell me, Pinnacle Mountain is part of the Blue Ridge Mountain range. Other sources, including RD Matthew Hammersmith, inform me that there was a fire on the mountain late last year. As to the validity of the first, I cannot confirm or deny the accuracy but as to the second, my first hand experience there this past weekend does indeed confirm a fire took place on the mountain. (It's my job to sort through the facts so you can get to the bottom of things.)

Now what really made this a possible race destination was the daily emails I get from Frontier Airlines telling me of deals to Charlotte, North Carolina. We are talking reasonable prices if you are good flying with only a backpack that can fit under the seat in front of you. Thankfully, I excel at this! Using handy-dandy Google Maps, I was able to learn that Table Rock State Park was a two hour drive from Charlotte Douglass Airport. One of my travel criteria is that the race be no more than 2 1/2 hours from where I fly in. My reason for this emphasis is to make sure I do not tax myself with a longer than necessary drive. Of course, if I am not flying and staying regionally, that drive time number can rise.

Due to the airfare and distance, I put the race on my calendar for March 4th. That doesn't mean I registered right then and there for it. Unless there is a sell-out risk, I've taken the approach that I'd rather make sure I'm not wasting more money than need be. It is also why I opt to reserve cars through the rental companies themselves at the rate I can cancel. Same goes for hotels. And since I try to keep airfare down, I minimize loss. (Can you tell I obsess over the economics of logistics?) If I can manage to book Southwest at a comparable rate too, all the better.

To make things happen, I booked a flight out of PHL on Frontier on March 3rd that got me into Charlotte at 12pm. From there it was an Enterprise booking until 4am Sunday morning as I was flying Delta back to PHL via Detroit around 6am.

Lodging for the most part was left alone for a while. Now, this tale is not entirely a solo adventure as my friend from Trail Whippass (and a fellow local runner), Kiran was doing the same race! While we booked our flights separately, our travel was nearly identical! Her flight back was 15 minutes after mine but we ended up on the same Frontier flight down. What that meant....split expenses! YES! Cheaper traveling for the two of us. Of course, we waiting until the week before the race to handle lodging. (Which is the same week that I officially registered.) We had a game plan. Friday night, stay near the race. Saturday night, in Charlotte closer to the airport. Now the really awesome part was we managed to get a cabin in Table Rock State Park for 1 night. This took some finessing as they typically require a two night stay. More or less, you find a single night available that is bookended and take that.

By far away, these cabins were stellar. Now I could really go on about how awesome these are. All of them date back to the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps)  and have been lovingly cared for. I felt fully relaxed. Full kitchens, heat (as in actual heater system) and to our surprise upon arrival...WIFI!!!!!!! The wifi was great because cell service was non-existent on my phone. Because I had a Google Fi phone, I could easily make a wifi call. Also, because we had a kitchen, on the way from the airport, we picked up food to cook. Better then trying to figure out where to eat in the middle of nowhere. The final touch were the plush blankets. Oh yeah. Ideal, sit and read environment that I usually can experience most when in Maine.

Anyways, since we arrived near 4pm and there was a packet pick-up in the park, we stopped at the cabin to drop off our stuff before heading over to get our bibs. That was a super quick process which enabled us to get back to relaxing and eating quicker before bedtime. (Yes, I'm cutting some of the boring out but I will tell you I did get a third of the way into Sarah Vowell's Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.)

With an 8am start time, it made Saturday morning so easy. No extra early rise and shine. We got to the race location around 7:15 - 7:20. Since the race was providing Tailwind, I loaded up my Nathan ExoDraws and my Nathan Peak with the good stuff. My fueling strategy was to use the Exo bottles for the first two loops and the Peak for the last. Now I was still going to run with the Peak the whole time in case I needed to tap into it since we got aid at the start/finish of every loop, so a ten mile stretch. As usual I had some ShotBlocs taped to the bottles. First loop would be with one bottle, the second with the other...and as stated before neither for the third loop. I also would be stuffing a handful of Gummy Bears in my face each time.

Since it was a little chilly, I went to the start line wearing black gloves and my Trail Racing Over Texas t-shirt. For the course, I opted to wear my Montrail FluidFlex FKTs. Now I did consider wearing a pair of LaSportiva Helios SR's due to the downhill as they have the extra grip in the heel but I felt they run a little too tight for a 50K. From the 'gun', it was clear that it was going to be a two person race between myself and last year's third place finisher, Eli White as we went out to the front very quickly for the road section that starts and finishes every loop. We chatted away and were in lock step all the way up the mountain. As we got closer to the top, we really noticed signs of where the mountain burned. Eli pointed out a wonderful view from Bald Knob around a mile from the summit. That last mile really kicks you in the unmentionables, especially the last 1/4 mile before the summit of Pinnacle Mountain. Once we cleared the summit, Eli asked to go around and moved by me on the downhill. He was like a rocket! With two more loops, I was not going to take too many risks at that point. So he opened a lead. My goal was to not let it get too large so I moved quick by cautious. Eventually coming down the Ridge Trail we blend into the popular Table Rock Trail which goes to the summit of the adjacent peak to Pinnacle. Here, all the runners we going to encounter hikers for much of the day. (The Pinnacle Mtn Trail had some as well but not nearly as many.) And it is in this stretch between the junction of trails and road, it happened.

I fell down the mountain.

I had just passed a group of hikers on a downhill slope and hit a slightly level patch where I could open some. As I was about to hit some gas, I caught my toe on something and felt hard. My right side took the brunt of the fall. Yet, I managed to do a number on my left knee too. Not only that, I nearly destroyed my handheld as I was leaking Tailwind all over the trail. Amazingly, I was able to put the bottle components together and all was well. I had some ShotBlocs that went flying. And while I did not discover this until after the race, I broke the little spring loaded do-hickey where I can put things and tighten them in place on my Nathan Peak.

I got up and started moving again. I had been banged up pretty hard. I looked down and saw blood from my knee and then noticed it from my right elbow. Negative thoughts began to swirl in my head. Quitting became an option. I had two miles to go in the loop. Already I was thinking the fall cost me the race. Yet, in a sign of mental strength, I told myself I did not want to DNF another race that I traveled to. Regardless, I wanted to finish. Still, if I felt I would do myself harm continuing only then I would stop. My spirits were boosted by seeing Eli just leaving the Start/Finish as I was coming in. He was about two minutes up on me. I ran into the 'Barn' and made the decision due to the fall I wanted both my hands free for the whole race. I ditched any ExoDraw bottles. Also, with being out of whack, I did a quick pee break. This all meant a little slower than usual but I felt it was appropriate.

My brain also told me that if I had any shot of winning it had to be because of going uphill. Once I got off the road and past the Nature Center (and the pretty waterfalls) it was time to climb. I told myself to push a little in the spots I paused a tad on the first lap. Make up time. Amazingly, when I got to Bald Knob, a hiker told me Eli was a minute up. Ok...I'm doing well. On a switchback portion, I caught a glimpse of Eli. A glimpse because he was nearly at the summit which meant he was flying down hill gaping me. This time, I had little choice but to push it a little more on the downhill. Quick and alert! No problems the second time down. Again, Eli was just leaving the Start/Finish when I came in. Only difference was he had a little more time up. It was still a close race. Yet, I was beginning to feel resigned to the fact I was going to be second. Still, I was not quitting but I felt the third climb a bit more so I was REALLY SURPRISED to hear from the same hiker farther down the mountain this time that Eli was only a minute up. Then before we ever reached Bald Knob, I caught him!!!! Thinking if I could strike anywhere, it was now so I made an effort to pass. This lasted a little bit until we hit the 1/4 mile Sh*tkicker before Pinnacle's summit. My body said no more. It's day was done. Eli took back the lead and once he hit the summit, I heard a shot of joy and down he went. My legs were toasted. As much as I wanted to run down, my pace was seemingly in what felt like neutral. I was only moving because I was going down. With it now being early afternoon, traffic on the trail was greater and that did nothing to help me do anything but stop when I hit groups usually on stone steps that I had to use the steps as groups flanked the sides that I utilized the first couple of loops. Despite giving it a fight, I knew I was not going to caught Eli and just focused on finishing in one piece.

As I was finishing my third loop, I saw Kiran go out for hers. She was in great spirits! (Plus, now I got a sense of how long it was taking her.)

So in the end, despite a good effort especially climbing, I got whipped on that downhill by 11 minutes. Both Eli and myself went under the course record (5:23:25 to 5:34:33) as did the next two finishers. (One of which was last year's winner, Darian Smith.)

Did I want to win? Absolutely. However, I am far from disappointed with my effort. I got hurt and fought back to reset the race with 5 miles to go. (Yes, I lost 11 minutes in 5 miles.) This was by far the toughest 50K I have ever done. It is a great challenge that I am only happy to have participated in. It reminds me that while I like to think of myself as a good downhill runner, I have room to improve there but it requires moving out of a comfort zone by taking risk. It also reaffirms that I can climb well on long steady climbs.

Following the race, I confirmed the campground bathrooms had showers (Thanks, Darian!) and bought a bar of Irish Spring from the state park's Country Store down the road. It helped to get clean of the blood. Plus, that allowed me to feel fresh while waiting for Kiran. I thought I would read some but that didn't happen as I poked around to the store some more again later and ended up buying a t-shirt. Not the one I really wanted which had a WPA era style graphic but still a nice long sleeve. In the process had a nice chat with the woman working the register. She told me that this was the first weekend of the season they were open. She also told me how she took a trip up to Allentown once and told me about tea ordering. In the south, it is just tea for iced tea. Her travel mates did not know this during said trip up north.

Anyways, I hung out back at the finish and got to see Kiran finish. She did awesome! And she also had the attitude of change and go. We took the scenic way out of the park and caught some views of what we ran. The drive to Charlotte was pretty uneventful which was nice.

Our room at the Residence Inn was a nice space to finish the day. We both ate leftovers from the prior night. Of course, I tried to venture out for food but Panera closed before I got to it and a diner effort was met without any attention to be seated. At that point eating at a place would take too long. Still I enjoyed the minor experience of walking around as it was a pleasant evening of no jacket required.

Eventually it was lights out and I did not sleep well. (I took the couch in both the cabin and the hotel. Both were sleeper sofas but much like I do at home, I just sleep couch style.) My scrapes from the day were angry with me which led to the lack of comfort. And since they were on both sides of my body, I could not side sleep. Still, I caught 3 hours total before getting up around 3:20.

To the airport, we went. We got to security just in time as the line ballooned behind us! I hung out with Kiran at her gate until it was time for me to board my flight (I left a little earlier).

And after a pair of flights and a 2 1/2 layover in Detroit where I grabbed breakfast, I was home.

Now that a few days have passed still a little banged up but I did my first real run today. 6 miles into the office.....

Of course, the result and physical impact has me rethinking some upcoming options of races. Thankfully, none of them require a full commitment right now so I can heal my wounds and get back out there to do the damage I want to than have it done to me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Some things go according to plan.....others become a disaster

In this latest installment of my running life, you could say that we've entered the Twilight Zone. Last time, my 50K was spot on awesome. This past weekend it was awesome in the sense of it being a hot mess.

For a brief spell, I traveled down to Florida to participate in the Iron Horse Endurance Runs. In looking for a good 100K, I opted to make the pre-Valentine's trip down to Florahome, FL. Historically, it has had a lot of participants, was relatively cheap and easy to get to and the course has had some good times put up on it over the years. All key factors if I want to run a quick time at something other than a local race. (As you might have guessed, I'm still trying to get out of the immediate Philadelphia area some for ultra racing.) Furthermore, considering I had a good time down in Florida last year at the Swamp 50K in Palm Coast, I figured why not repeat things.

Aside from my nerves going through airport security and pre-race week jitters, I was feeling dialed in for a good performance. Sure, the 80 degree temps worried me. Saying otherwise would be foolish knowing I have a history of not performing well when it gets what my body deems too hot. (Also, one of the factors of why I do not have intentions on doing Western States.) Opting to fly down on Southwest, I was able to arrive in Orlando at 8pm. Now I had a two hour drive ahead of me so I had rented a car with Enterprise. To save a few bucks, I opted for the click and they pick. Sleeping plans were to crash in the rental unless it was too small. Sure I could have rented a mini-van straight away but that would have been 150 bucks more. Yet, to my surprise, I was able to get a mini-van for 88 bucks when I arrived. Everything upon arrival in the airport goes well until I leave the Enterprise area. The Kia Sedona I was driving, well I did not drive it so well (despite it being the same model I used last year) and scraped it on the bollard leaving. My heart sank. Of course this is happening to me at this moment. I was instructed to switch out the vehicle, yet in order to do that I needed to know my deductible. That meant calling home. Thankfully, Peg was able to be reached quickly and she found that out for me and confirm our policy covered rental cars. This was a relief. I knew it but when in a moment of crisis, it helps to be reaffirmed. Of course, I tell the lady at the counter who replaced the gent before and she tells me I need a claim number. So now I have to get on the phone and I'm barely holding it together. Actually I don't think I was holding it together much.  Still after a hugely stressful hour delay, I was in another mini-van and back on the road. I made a brief stop at Walmart for supplies since I knew they would be open.  Eventually I got into Florahome at around midnight. Later than I wanted but in a vehicle I could sleep in and at the start area so that allowed me to stay in as much as possible.

Well....except this was not a time of great sleep. For some reason I was not all that comfy. I was in and out of sleep but happy to be getting some rest. Thursday night had been a good night of sleep and I knew that was more important for the task at hand.

Around 5:45, I woke up and went to the bathroom nearby. Got changed into my gear and then headed over to the start/finish area to set up my chair with my bottles and everything else I might need. For the 100K, I was going to rely on the same gatorade/water mix as last race along with gummy bears. I also had ShotBlocs and Coke at the ready for consumption. I had extra socks, singlet, sunglasses. I was ready. Around 6:35 the race brief started and I sat down to do my best to rest a little more. It was at the brief that I saw fellow Trail Whippass'er Mary Harvey. She's the one who helped put Iron Horse in my ear as an option for my 100K. Around this time, I also saw Frank Alessandrini who I ran against and with at Swamp last year. He also was pulling sleep in a vehicle duty.

Around 7am, we're lined up and sent on our way down the paved multi-purpose trail for 1.75 miles to a turnaround. This was all feeling fine. We pass through the start/finish area and I grab some gummies and one of my Nathan Handhelds. for the remained of my first 25 mile loop. At a shade under 6 miles we get off the pavement and onto a sandy power-line easement trail. Things instantly become tougher on the sections with more loose sand. Eventually, we pass the primary during the loop aid station (which we hit 3 times per loop) and I feel good. And for the most part, I feel good for the first 15 miles. Then I start to get a feeling like I need to stop to urinate. This is always not a good feeling. I do to relieve the pressure and then continue running just fine. Except now I'm thinking of my body functions more. Usually, I have a series of actions before a race start that one did not occur this particular morning. Anyways, I can put it in the back of my mind and continue. I see Mary at the aid station for her second time as I'm hitting it for my third. At this point, we are back on the power line. Around here is when the wheels begin to come off. The power line is the sandiest portion of the whole course and it hates me. Behind my right knee, I start to get some discomfort. Not horrible but bad enough to give me pause. Well, for the remaining 4 miles of my 25 mile loop, I'm walking/running trying to work this discomfort out. Now while, I gave up the overall lead (to the 50M runner who had been behind me buy a few minutes), I still managed to hit 3:07 for 25 miles. A shade faster than I wanted but considering it was cool for most of this loop, I expected it to be quick. Yet, now I really was having problems. I was not shaking the discomfort in my knee. For the 1.75 segment, I was doing 98% walking. For the 3.5 miles back to the start/finish line, it took me 40 minutes. Ouch. Still I thought the walking would shake out the discomfort, so I began to run again. Well, that did not last more than 400 meters. My knee was not happy.

Instead of going out farther, I went back to my gear, put some Tiger Balm on the back of my right knee and set Peg a message making her aware of the situation. I then went to lay down in the mini-van for a spell thinking maybe that would help.....(right before this, I saw Frank and told him of my ills, he was now leading the 100K)


Not my day.

So after 28.5 official miles, I called it a day. The race personnel tried to get me to head back out but it had been almost 90 minutes since I had finished 25 miles. If things hadn't got better in that span, I knew it was not worth continuing. What I needed to think about was the rest of my year. Merely finishing now had the potential to put me on the shelf. Now if it was going to be a world leading PR, I might have thought that a reasonable price to pay. However this was not about to be the same case here.

Peg suggested to me that I come home that night instead of the next morning. I checked flights on my fancy Google Fi phone I use during travel and was able to get Southwest for 115. I took it. I would now be home at 10pm. It was hardly noon yet so I still could hang around to see Mary. When I saw her a bit after the 5 hour mark, she too was having a rough day. When she came back after her 3.5 out and back, I joined her for some walk and talk. (Since that was her pace at the moment.) It enriched my day some. After walking out to the power line, I turned back for the lonely portion of the walk in the hot sun. During the out with Mary, we saw the 50 mile winner come in but at no other other point, did I see any other finisher. The heat was taking its told.

Once, I got back to the area, I had everything packed up and hit the road to the airport for a too early end of my trip. But it was wise to leave early. After the emotional night before, sleeping in my home felt wonderful. Everything on the way home was smooth. I passed out much of the flight on the plane. Quite possibly could have been a food coma from the Chipotle Sofritas Burrito I had at the airport. (Which by the way was the most affordable airport food I've ever encountered!)

Since the weekend, I've spent part of Monday feeling emotionally up and down because of the incident with the car coupled with a not so great performance. I've not run since Saturday but have biked into the office and back. With it being colder, I've been wearing compression pants but also adding a slip-on knee brace on my right knee. Sunday and Monday, the knee still felt off, it has gotten better the past two days but with a 50K Two weeks from this Saturday, I'm going to be smart and err on the side of caution. I'll resume running maybe over the holiday weekend. I'll focus on keeping fitness mainly.

What does this mean moving forward? Well, I had been considering a 100 miler in April but might decide to run a road 100K again (hated it the first time I attempted it) in a time goal. Either way, both of those will be close enough to drive 4-5 hours and not need to spend a huge amount of money on travel. I'd like to do one more travel race in the fall so to space it out I need to not spend all the money now.

Also, right now, I'm in a bit of limbo. Due to a transition at Montrail to Columbia Montrail, I am aware of my status with them. I've been honored to have represented them in 2015 and 2016. They believed in me and stuck by me in the rough 2015 year. I feel like I delivered well for them in 2016 and was excited to represent them in 2017. I was informed of a new contact who I reached out to on a number of occasions in the past couple of months with no reply. Maybe it is the email address I've been sending from. Maybe they have not been getting them. I'm not sure. Everything about the shoes, I still love. My primary reason for sharing this is because it feels bad to not know and not hear from anyone. And I really do not feel like it is right to be silent about it anymore. If part of my role as an athlete with a blog and presence (however minor that is) is to be honest with myself and you the reader, it deserves to be known.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Angela Ivory Memorial - 50K (It's all about the Fat Ass)

In the past couple of years, I kicked off racing in the form of running PHUNT down in Fair Hill, Maryland. Since I'm trying to spice things up a little for 2017, I opted to run a 50K Fat Ass down in Delaware called Angela Ivory Memorial. Previously, for the first two years, it was known as the Eugene Bruckert 50K, after one of the organizers.

(PHUNT was the week prior to this event. I went to Fair Hill on PHUNT Day and did a loop of the course before the racing there started. This also reminded me of my love/hate relationship with Fair Hill.)

While Fair Hill was only around an hour from my house, the location for this run was around an hour and forty five minutes from me. This was going to be my first time at Killens Pond State Park. A couple of years back I ran a 50K at Trap Pond State Park. Now, if someone can organize one at Lums Pond State Park, I can hit the trilogy.

Because the start was also earlier than PHUNT, I had to leave much earlier. I was out the door before 6am for the drive down. Thankfully, the drive was nice and smooth. Once I got off of I-95 which had a good amount of traffic, I was able to use the cruise control. When I arrived at the main entrance to the park around 7:30, there were about 6 vehicles waiting to get in. The gate was still locked! Nobody worried. We all hung out patiently waiting for it to be opened.

Originally slated for an 8:00am start, it got pushed back a tad. It didn't seem to bother anyone. After all this was a fat ass race. We all were gonna be recording our times on a sheet of paper and fueling ourselves. It is nice to have a loosely organized care free run now and again.

Weather wise, it was overcast, damp, foggy but ideal running temps.

For the course, we would be running multiple loops of the Nature Trail with an out and back spur that was the start/finish area. (Basically a lollipop loop that most of it was not the stick.) While the trail loop itself is 2.6 miles, this spur was long enough to bring the distance to 3.1 miles per loop. There were two distances people were running: 50K and 50M. I was there to do the 50K, I had 10 loops to do.

After some instructions, we were off going loopy. Knowing there were a few junctions to keep an eye out for, I kept conservative for the first lap as we were following just the parks own markings. And with doing multiple laps, I got to look around some in the sense I might notice something new each lap. I'd say it was due to the weather creating a nice what I like to call a Pacific Northwest feel, I loved running at Killens Pond. The loop was short enough that I felt it hard to get in a negative head space because if I ventured there, soon enough the loop would be over. In terms of a description, it was on the whole very flat but very forested, except for the short road shoulder section between the boat launch and Nature Center.

Since we were doing loops, I opted to take my splits. My method for each split was, I come in and get aid and start the next split when I leave the start/finish area. Due to each lap only be a 5K, I decided to start out with no handheld. My nutrition plan for this event was to go old school: Gatorade, Coke and Gummy Bears. I had set up a 20oz bottle of Coke, a bag of Haribo Gummy Bears, two handhelds and 20oz bottle all filled with diluted Gatorade.

While my plan was to pick up a handheld after the first lap, I decided to push myself and just took a swig of Gatorade from the 20oz along with a small handful of gummies that I jammed in my mouth. I kind of squirreled the gummies like I usually do with my ShotBlocs. Considering, I'll be doing some traveling for races, I feel like I should really try to use what is easy to acquire in places, so I can fly with less. This is what led me to the fueling plan used at Angela Ivory.

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I stuffed nearly a whole bag of these in my face during the 50K

In the end, I actually never did a single lap with a handheld. For the first 5 laps, I hit the 20oz bottle of Gatorade because I expected at some point I'd grab one of my Nathan bottles. Once it was clear, I was likely not going to do that for any loop, I drank out of the handhelds. I began to save time as I was not twisting a 20oz bottle cap. (It was a reused Coke bottle.) My slowdown became reaching into the gummy bear bag and grabbing the colorful squishy yummies. At no time, did I hit the Coke. Not fully surprising as historically I don't drink it during a race but last year during a few races notably Boulder Field and Brazos Bend, I took it from aid stations later in my run.

One of the great luxuries of this run was that the distance was short enough per loop, you were always coming across people. And since we were not restricted to one direction, it really allowed people to keep their running feeling fresh. I will point out that I kept in the same direction the whole time. I liked being able as I got later and later into the run to have markers of how I was doing comparatively to past loops and distance to the start/finish.

To avoid keeping you in suspense on how I did, below are my splits from the run

  • 21:46
  • 20:35 (42:21)
  • 20:36 (1:02:58)
  • 20:12 (1:23:11)
  • 19:40 (1:42:51)
  • 19:51 (2:02:43)
  • 19:15 (2:21:58)
  • 19:11 (2:41:10)
  • 19:18 (3:00:29)
  • 18:32 (3:19:01)
Yes, you see the final cumulative time correctly. 3:19:01 It is my second fastest 50K following my 3:18:32 at Rosaryville in my debut at the distance. I've run a handful in the 3:20's but not in the past two years (due to the specific races I ran and more other distances). 

Also, you'll notice that I got faster the later into the run I got. Once that pattern began to emerge after 5 laps, I went for negatively splitting it and trying to keep getting a little faster. Sure, it was a FA, I was running but once I saw I got possible dip under 3:20, I definitely pushed that final 5K.  

Amazingly, as I finished the organizers, Jeff and Gene, were in the midst of their own loop end/start. Talk about timing! They awarded me a Milestone Pod courtesy of Nancy Rowe and Milestone Sports. Nancy was also around then too and we had a small chat that only reveals the small world that is ultrarunning. 

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I know a few cool kids with this.

Due to the weather being a tad damp, I didn't stay around my beyond a half hour post finish before hoping in the truck for the trek home. However, one final notable conversation was with Ryan Goverts who partially blamed me for his ultrarunning. He had no plans on doing one and then attended the Philadelphia Runner Ultra Talk featuring Rebecca Barber, Iain Ridgway, Jim Blandford, Maggie Guterl and myself. Again, small world! And nice to know that our talk helped inspire someone.

If you are ever looking to get in miles in foggy damp weather, I highly recommend loops down at Killens Pond State Park in Delaware. And my Montrail FluidFlex II's did a wonderful job on all the surfaces be them woodchips, pavement, dirt, road or the wet wooden bridges. I managed to keep warm for the first five laps wearing an extra oops later of shorts and a tech tee. I shed the tech tee after lap 5 since I was beginning to get a little sweaty. All in all, the end, I geared it just right to get the time I did.

Now, before I end this post for the day, I would like to discuss something beyond the running world. If you do not wish to read something topical, you may want to stop. If you have an open mind, please continue on.

I'd like to take a moment to appreciate all the people (and especially the women) who participated in political activities over the weekend. You are bringing vital issues to the table (no matter the side) and hope that as a society that we all can come together to have conversations with lasting impacts that benefit all of us. It may be a painful process and get ugly at times but my belief in humanity leads me to hope in the end we'll all feel in it together. Struggles are real. While they take different shapes for different people, struggles are struggles. We must understand each other without degrading each other.

As Abraham Lincoln shared with us in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure: "Be Excellent to Each Other"

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Closing the chapter on 2016....it wasn't a dumpster fire of running.

As my finals days as a 36 year old come to a close, it is fitting to sit back and reflect on the past year running wise.

(Since my birthday is a mere few days before the end of year, I can get away with this as an end of age and year review.)

If you recall my views on my 2015 from a racing/running perspective, you’ll remember I thought it was sub-par. You’ll also remember that I felt I destroyed my confidence. As a result of those two aspects, my overarching objective for 2016 was to build myself back up as a runner. In some ways, it was like beginning all over. Each race was thought of in terms of ‘do I feel confident in performing well’ and ‘will this move the needle of my confidence in a positive direct’. For the most part, it was a good mentally healthy approach.

I’d say my approach worked well. I did not have a DNF in 2016. I did have 4 DNS (Seneca Creek Greenway, Worlds End 100K, Twisted Branch 100K, and Indian Creek Fifties) and three of those were due to questions of illness.

From a numbers perspective, (which will make this a lot shorter, call it my gift to you), I did the following this year:

  • Started 26 races ranging from 5K to 100K.
  • Won 23 of those races.
  • 14 races took place off road.
  • 9 – 5ks
  • 2 – 50M
  • 1 – 100K
  • 2 – Marathons (One trail/One ‘road’)
  • 5 – 50K
  • Won at least one race in each month of the year.
  • Dipped back under 16 minutes in a 5K. (Squeaked in with a 15:59)
  • Raced in 7 states.
  • Won the Bucks County Marathon for the third straight year (and now have won half of them.)
  • My biggest surprise was an unexpected sub 6 hour 50 Mile running 5:51 and change at Brazos Bend. (Especially since I was not chasing a sub 6 this year like I tried last year.)

All of these results, I believe have me pointed back on a good path going into 2017. One regret is not getting to run the 100 mile at Brazos Bend. However, without that question of a looming illness, I would have not changed to the 50 mile and set my PR. And to be honest, I was thinking of a road 50 mile to go for sub 6 in April that I no longer have to subject myself to. YAY!

Moving forward, I’ll shoot for 6-7 ultras. This year I had 7 and that seemed to work well for me. I don’t see a need to run one a month like I did in 2014. Plus, 7 spaced out allows me to enjoy other races that I can use as ultra speedwork. Plans are also to travel out of the Northeast for a race or two. Time-wise, I’ll take what is given to me. Overall, I’ll be happy if I can set at least one PR in the year.
Since nothing really is set in stone for my schedule, I’ve got nothing to share on that front. And you know what? That is fine by me right now. I’m going to enjoy the remaining days of 2016 with some light running.

Before I sign off, I do want to say that very little of what I accomplished this year would have not been possible if not for the support of Montrail and Nathan Sports products. Being dialed in on footwear and nutrition/hydration delivery made pre-race prep a snap.

Also thank you to all the people who read this blog, support me in racing and support me in life. My life is fuller because of it.  (Of course, one rises above the rest. I think we all know who she is at this point. J )

Originally when I sat down to do this post, I thought I’d find a way to be much wittier than this has been. For that I offer sincere apologies. 2017 will bring a return of ramblings. 

Until then….lets at least secure Betty White in bubble wrap.