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"

Image result for be excellent to each other abraham lincoln

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Closing the chapter on 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. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Breaking at Brazos (Warning: Epic Read)

So my season finally culminated this past weekend at Brazos Bend in Texas. As you may be aware, originally, I was slated to charge hard after the 100 mile. Well, in the world of not everything goes according to plan, a few days (Wednesday) out I changed my distance down to the 50 mile. My primary reason for this was I serious thought I was coming down with some illness that would impede my ability to run what I am capable for 100 miles. To be honest, I even thought 50 miles might be a stretch. However, flights were booked and the last thing I wanted to do was end the year with not even bothering to show up to race an event I was looking forward to.

With that said, my goal at Brazos was to just run a good 50 mile time. If you were to ask me my goal, I would say sub 6 but in reality, I seriously thought that would be a big stretch. Hey, I wasn't feeling 100% but I knew inside that I could at least finish 50 miles.

Anyways....on with this tail....

Mid-afternoon on Thursday, I met up with ultra-badass Maggie Guterl, who was running the 100, (you may or may not know her as Maggatron) at the Philadelphia Airport for our travels down to the Houston, Texas area. (I won't bore you with details of our layover in ATL, rental car pick-up...etc.)

Eventually, we arrived in Antarctica, I mean Texas. It bares mentioning that somehow temperatures in the 30's followed us down South. Definitely a little shock to the system. Especially considering, Texans don't seem to know how to handle cold weather. Thankfully, neither Maggie or I were going to be stuck out in the cold as for the first night we stayed with Maggie's friend, Kehl, (it is pronounced like the superfood kale), and his wife Mariah.

On Friday, it was difficult to leave to leave the comfort of blankets and fireplace at Kehl & Mariah's. (Is this really a surprise? You should know by now my love for blankets and fireplaces. All that was missing was hours of reading, which I did not do nearly enough of this past weekend.) More or less, the bulk of Friday was getting settled at our hotel (30 minutes from Brazos Bend State Park) and packet-pick up. As part of going to pick-up, Maggie and I met up with Caroline Boller for a shakeout run. We all discussed our goals. All of them may or may not have been met continue to find out....

Originally, my plan was to fuel during the race with Tailwind and use ShotBlocs. Race Director supreme, Rob Goyen told me he would have some for me since I still feel weird about small bags of white powder going through airport security. Anyways, I was feeling a bit out of my comfort zone so I opted to fall back on a variation of my original fuel method.....Gatorade & Water. Something about this plan felt calming. In the past, I added pedialyte to my mix. This time, I opted against it. Using Lemon Lime Gatorade, I filled all my bottles with a 2/3 Gatorade, 1/3 Water mix.

This is as good a point as any to talk about gear. I went in with:

2 Nathan ExoDraw bottles with 3 Tropical Punch and 3 Orange ShotBlocs taped to the bottle.
Nathan Peak waistpack w/ two flasks should I need the extra fluids later.
Montrail FluidFlex.
Smartwool socks

Since there is nothing special about my shorts, singlet and underwear, I don't think you need to know those specs.

With throwing caution to the wind and still aiming to take a crack at sub 6, my plan was to wear my Garmin GPS watch. That way, I wouldn't do anything too stupid.

After a meal consisting of Panera's Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup, I did get in some reading of my giant 800 page Theodore Roosevelt book (Wilderness Warrior) that talks about TR as a conservationist and naturalist, (Loving it!), before some shut eye.

Race morning, Maggie and I drove over to Brazos Bend State Park. While I was starting at 7am, Maggie went off at 6am. Maggie was going to be under the good care of her friend Nicole. Once we arrived, we hauled our gear over to a canopy and table being shared by Jeff Miller. (I didn't get a chance to thank you for this! I know you were using it because it was yours but it was helpful to have a good visual place for stuff in the perfect location.) Maggie went off to finish her prep and I went back to the rental to lay down for 45 minutes. Hey, it was still cold out. Sure, I was going to warm up once I started running but I wasn't running yet.

Those 45 minutes went by way too quick! Around 30 minutes before the start, I changed into my race shoes and socks. (I had a pair of FluidFlex II's as a backup in case I needed a shoe swap or if the FluidFlex didn't feel right on race morning.) Upon grabbing my GPS and turning it on, I got a surprise: LOW BATTERY. Yep, it drained in travel. I had charged it prior to leaving Philadelphia because I didn't want to bring the bulky charger in my already overfilled bag. Trusty Timex Ironman it is! With 3 loops, I at least could do easy math in my head on a per lap basis. Additionally, I remembered Aid Station 1 was around 4.1 miles in and Aid Station 2 was 9.2. None of the other markers I had committed to head but what my brain could contain would do.

Nicole offered to help me out too with anything I would need which was great having a support system. Mainly, bottle refills.

Following a little musical pump up of In Flames and Tower, I was as ready as I was gonna be. About 2 minutes before the start, I went up to the start line next to Caroline. With it being still cool, I was wearing a tech shirt and gloves. As soon as the final countdown ended, we were off. I went out fresh and comfortable. It was kind of surprising considering how I felt earlier in the week. During the first little out and back section of the course, as I was coming back, to my right a pack of wild pigs was running. They even decided to make a hard left and cross the trail we were running! They did after I passed. No word was mentioned about anyone getting taken out so I figure no runners or pigs were harmed during the course of that encounter. Near misses, yes, but nothing more.

And to think, this way we were told to pay more attention to the alligators that may be along the trail. Yes, gators!

As I made my way into the first AS, I was under 7 minute pace and thinking to myself, SLOW DOWN! Too early for that. So while I was comfortable, I was trying to be wise and not tax myself too much this early on, especially since I didn't know what the course was like. It was my first time on much of the course, aside from the small portion from the prior day. Around 6 miles in, I shed my shirt tossing it to a gent after I asked if I could. I kept the gloves on.

At aid station, two, much of the same mentally about pace. Too quick. Yet, now I was beginning to think, just accept it. Now, I was also making a note mentally how long it was taking me to get from the second aid station to the longer Sawmill section out and back. It was going to be the only way later on that I could be able to gauge my pace through the section.

With our canopy station, right before the lap finish, I swapped my first ExoDraw for the second, making sure to take one of the remaining ShotBlocs from the first bottle to consume immediately. My first lap split was around 1:53. HOLY MOLY!!! Might have been a hair too fast. In fact, MINUTES faster than my goal. I was aiming for closer to 2:00. Still I felt good. (And it was here the gloves literally came off.)

On the short out and back, no pigs happened upon me. However, I got to see Caroline was also crushing the course not far behind me. Oddly enough, the second lap was much like the first! Was feeling a smidgen harder but I was not feeling like I was red-lining. And my splits were fairly consistent with the first loop. (Maybe a tad faster.) It is worth noting that on the second out and back to Sawmill, I got the best surprise of the WHOLE weekend. My friend Laura was running in the Half Marathon race. It has been years since I saw her. She lives in Denton which is hours away from Brazos. Seriously, it put a pep in my step. (Rob, your race is bringing long lost friends back together! Okay, not lost but you get the point.)

Finishing up the second lap, I made the pit stop. I didn't swap bottles, I topped off. Why I didn't grab the second? My brain told me it was going to not be comfortable. I had a comfortable grip. (Yes, it sounds stupid but that is where my brain was.) Really, what I should have done is just grab the second along for the ride. In retrospect that might have been the wiser thing to do. And while I had the Peak available, I was past the point of wanting to dead stop to put it on. I did feel some cramping coming on in my quads making me fumble through my bag trying to find the baggie with my Advil. Thankfully, Nicole and Jeff's crew dug up some quick out for me.


Now, I was 14 minutes under 6 hour pace. I was feeling pumped from passing the start/finish. Yet, no longer after that I started to begin sway. At the turnaround point, it was like a dead stop feel that my legs really did not want to move again. That right there was my oh-no point. Signs were now clearly beginning to point downward spiral. Still, I kept moving. Maybe not as fast. And certainly not much ahead of Caroline who was in the midst of a race for the ages. Around a mile after the turnaround, I had to walk. We had a slight minor headwind (or that is at least how my body was reading it) and I was feeling light headed. My body needed a breather. This went on for a minute or two. I downed most of my ExoDraw. I'd say, I don't think I would have been able to recover from the spiral if not for that decision to walk and drink. Sure it meant, I had to stop and take aid at 4.2. It was easy to decide because I knew I would be able to get Gatorade. My split here was 3-4 minutes slower than my prior two trips. 1/4 of the way through the loop and survival is in effect.

At the same 6 mile mark where I earlier tossed my shirt, I got the second coolest surprise of the weekend, Fran, the dinosaur! Laura brought her prehistoric friend with her. Luckily, I still had enough in my legs to not be eaten. Fran did look a little hungry. Still a small child would have been a more sizable meal than my skin and bones.

Fran is looking hungry. PC: Trail Racing Over Texas

Caroline was now on my heels. In fact, around 40 miles, she passed me. She was obliterating the course. Did I try to keep her in sight? Yeah. Did I? For a little bit. Caroline is an amazing runner who knows how to close. Throughout the rest of the race, she increased her lead. So yes, she won. (More on that later because after all this is about my race at the moment.)

At the 9.2 mile aid station, I was if math served me correctly, 7 minutes slower than the prior two loops. I couldn't afford to give back any more time to God of the Clocks if I wanted sub 6. With such a time in sight, I wanted it. I moved as fast as I could. Yes, I hit the 9.2 mile and Sawmill aid stations for coke shots on the way out. I needed the jolt. I was on fumes. Sure it was costing me time but doing otherwise would likely have put me further in energy debt (as I'm calling it.)

 Once that finish line was in sight, I knew I was going to do it. With time to spare! Crossing the line, I stopped my watch at 5:51:26. A 15 1/2 minute PR off my previous 6:07 best. (Might be one of the top 50 mile times in the country this year. Have to wait and see on that.)

Going into 2016 after the struggles I had last year, I honestly never would have expected this performance. Can I improve on it? Time will tell. At least, I don't have to race a road 50 mile to go under anymore. (This will make 2017 much more fun since a possible race just got dropped.)

Now about Caroline's result. It was an American Record for 50 miles on trail. She ran 5:48:01 winning the race outright!!!! In our conversation the day before she shared she wanted sub 6. Did she ever get it! It is a privilege to have witnessed so much of it. (After all, I didn't get to the finish in time for that. I was busy at that moment.)

High Five with the American Record Holder!    PC: Trail Racing Over Texas

Her time shattered the previous best from back in 1994! Plus, it was Caroline's 42nd Birthday! Talk about giving yourself a big 'ol present!

Also, her time bested the previous overall course record men or women at Brazos Bend by 9 seconds! Fastest ever!

I'm biased by that is the Ultra Performance of the Year for Women in my eyes.

Of course, Brazos Bend still had a little 100 miler going on. You know, Maggie's race.

Well, I was a horrible friend for a little bit as an hour after my race, I went to the hotel for a shower, check in back home, clean clothes and a little rest not in the back of a SUV.

Three hours later I was back and got news Maggie was on pace for the women's American trail record of 14:22 in the 100 mile! HOLY! Instantly, I'm the edge of my seat wanting to witness more history. Also, Nicole told me that Maggie was now leading the whole 100 miler! Wow, this was exciting. It was dark now but the air was definitely electric. Everyone was routing for her.

She finished her 5th of 6th laps with around 2:20 to go 16.67 miles. It was doable but gonna be close. Her Trail Racing Over Texas teammates Jeff Ball and Katie Graff were going to split pacing duties. Every single moment she was out there we all wanted to know where and how much time she had. The suspense!

Eventually, we got word that she was having some problems of the puking variety. Still she was going to PR and run a huge time that was going to put her on the all time list. While the fastest two times came and passed, Maggie turned in the 3rd fastest 100 mile on trail and 7th fastest overall regardless of surface with her 14:47:02 (it was 6th at the time but bumped to 7th after a WR later that day.).

As if that was not enough, like Caroline, Maggie now owns the fastest time ever by anyone in the 100 mile at Brazos Bend.

I wish I could say that the day after was nearly as exciting but lets face it, it was a struggle. Maggie and I definitely were rocking the sore runners shuffle. We did go back to watch the finish of the races for a fitting end to the race related portion of the weekend.

You can imagine what traveling back home was like. I'll leave that to your imagination because I've written a lot and want to do some thanks.

Total thanks first and foremost has to go to Peg. She is my biggest supporter and I don't do this without her.

Rob, Rachel and the rest of the Trail Racing Over Texas folks! You made me feel welcome all weekend long.

Second thanks for Rob to believing in me to think I could run a fast time at Brazos. Sorry it just wasn't in the 100. Next time.

Maggie who is just too awesome a friend and without her this PR never happens. Thanks for introducing me to Rob after Viaduct. PA Power!

I would be remiss to not thank Nathan Sports and Montrail for making products that work for me.

Ok....signing off now. And....spent.