Saturday, November 10, 2012

Trout Brook

Had a fantastic time on the trails in Trout Brook this morning. Some video for you to enjoy. Trippy, dreamlike effects added by Youtube stabilization.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

VT50 2012 Race Recap

There is no shortage of old race bibs and safety pins scattered throughout my house. I don't know why I hang on to some of these. I have medals, t-shirts, cowbells, coffee mugs and other assorted race merchandise from the events that I've run. I don't really need the bibs and pins. But one bib in particular I have kept close by throughout the last year.

Those of you that read this blog (thanks to the now whopping 40 members, you all rock!) know that after last year's bucket filler of a race, I had something of a score to settle with the mountains in Vermont. After entering 2012 at my heaviest weight in a few years, I vowed to transform myself into what I jokingly called "lean mean mountain running machine". The plan: burn fat, build lean muscle, grow my hair and a beard. Then, the mountain running would just happen.

So this is what I did. I dropped the weight. I didn't cut my hair. I grew a beard that was often met with sideways glances. Women and children ran for the hills when I approached. All the while, I ran every day. Every single day. I ran in the morning. I ran at night. I ran by the river. I ran up the mountain. Repeatedly. In August, I finally pulled the trigger. The deed was done. All that remained was for me to show in Vermont and run.

Son of A (IT)B!
Three weeks prior to the race, I went out for my last long training run. I ran from my house to the summit of Wachusett mountain. For good measure, I ran back down to the base of the mountain and back up again for some added elevation. The wrist bitch said 3088 feet of climb over 17.5 miles. I felt strong the entire way, managing a sub-11 pace while running the entire length of summit road. It was a great confidence booster for the 50. Until the day after.

The next day, I ran a ten miler on the local trails. Two to three miles in, my knee starting complaining. I gutted it out and went home for the usual treatment of stretching, ice, etc. It didn't help too much. My right ITB was incredibly tight. I foam rolled. Tried to run - painful. For the next few weeks, I did everything possible to combat this issue. I rolled, bought "the stick", iced, took salt baths, stretched, had deep tissue massage, etc.

It got a little bit better each day, but I was still worried, even up until the day and night before the race. Screenshot from my day-before workout below...

"Knee made some noise every now and then, but I'm just going to have to deal with it."

This ITB issue really messed with my head. I was a nervous wreck leading up to the race. I probably wasn't all that pleasant to deal with prior to race day, so hats off to our crew for putting up with my demeanor.

Day 279
As usual before a big event, I slept like junk. We awoke in the 4 o'clock hour and began getting ready. My wife (best crew person ever!) made me a small breakfast and some coffee, and I prepared for a rematch.

This year, we smartened up and rented a farm house that was only about 20 minutes from the start, and was a few miles from the Skunk Hollow aid station (first handler station). So, we had a much more relaxed time getting ready. We finished up and headed out, arriving at the mountain sometime around 5:45 (this could be completely wrong, I forget).

After checking in, we hung out with the rest of the crazy people in headlamps. Returning this year to run the race out of the crew from last year were Doug and Jeremy. We ran into Gene, who crewed for Sarah last year and was crewing again this year, and Amanda, who we joked was going to straight-up win the race.

L-R: Amanda, Doug, Jeremy, Me

After a  "fist bump of fury", we were ready to go.

And We're Off!
The race started on time this year. As planned, I went out really, really easy. Jeremy and Doug were already beginning to pull ahead within the first mile. I went very gingerly, quite worried about the ITB and knee, especially on the opening downhill/flat stretches. On the uphills, however, is where my mountain repeats came into play. I was power walking with alacrity, passing people on the ups. Doug and Jeremy would get ahead, and I'd catch up or overtake them on the hills in the beginning miles.

After a few miles, we kind of spread out a little bit. With D & J ahead a little bit, I fell into a nice groove of my own and ended up chatting with a woman named Lauren from California for a bit. She had some ultra experience so it was great to talk it up with her about 100 milers and what-not. We caught up to Doug and Jeremy at the second aid station (about 8 miles in) and for a brief stretch, the 4 of us were running together.

It wasn't too long before I found myself pulling ahead with Jeremy. Gradually we distanced ourselves from Doug and Lauren. Surprisingly, my knee was feeling pretty good, and the ITB was behaving. There were some downhill sections that were actually a ton of fun! The course in the first half was in much better shape than last year, after Hurricane Irene had devastated much of this region.

By the time we reached the first handler station, we were probably a handful of minutes ahead of Doug. It was great to get to see Jenni and Lex (Doug's wife) and the rest of our crew, but I was determined not to dawdle at the aid stations this year. We were in and out quickly, and back on the road for a stretch, leading up to Garvin Hill.

This is the longest stretch of the race between aid. It's about 7 miles, mostly uphill. Long country roads, maple syrup tap lines, and beautiful farmland along this stretch. But even at the top of Garvin Hill, the highest point on the course, there wasn't much to be seen through the fog and misting rain.

At Garvin Hill, I knew we were making great time. I think we were sub-12 up to that point, which really made me feel confident, despite the fact that both of my knees were now starting to complain, especially on the downhills. Our ad-hoc plan was to run the first half of the race at whatever comfortable-push pace we could muster, banking time for the second half, which features more single track, more switch backs, and more little climbs. So Jeremy and I stuck together for a few more miles until he eventually began to pull ahead somewhere around the 25 mile mark.

And so it went. I ran when I felt comfortable, I walked the steeper uphills. I enjoyed some chicken broth at an aid station (Margaritaville?) and stuck to my nutrition plan - Nuun in the handheld and water in the 2L hydration pack. Honey stinger gels or chomps every 45 minutes or so, and a handful of potatoes, chips, bananas, or whatever else looked appetizing at the aid stations. I hit a real wall in the 40's last year and wanted to avoid that at all costs. Eating was a priority.

My plan for shoes was to run the whole thing in New Balance MT10's. I had a pair to change into at the 32 mile aid station. Before the race, I told my wife that if I hit the 32 mile station in a time anywhere close to my Pineland 50k time from May (6:35) that I'd be pretty happy. I think I rolled into the aid station somewhere between 6:15-6:25.

Approaching the 32 mile aid station

Some foot maintenance at 32

I took a handful of ibuprofen at this aid station as well, as my knees were really killing me on the downhills. After a change of shoes and socks and some preventative foot maintenance, I was off again, feeling really good about the time.

As I made my way up the hills following 32, I had my head down. It wasn't long before someone called out to me that I had started to go down a wrong path. I'm super thankful for that woman, as it would have been less than ideal for me to take a wrong turn at that point in the race.

The next stretch was just as I remembered it. Winding switch backs that left you wondering whether or not you had already covered the terrain. Just keep moving forward. Relentless forward motion. Keep moving. Move. There's another aid station not too far from here. Just keep going.

The rain was making the terrain increasingly slippery. The downhills were turning into mudslides, and balance was getting tougher. I was worried about my knees just blowing out several of the descents. The uphills were actually a welcome distraction from having to acutely focus on the downhills.

Around mile 35 I started to feel very confident about beating the cutoff times, which allowed me to relax a little bit. I remember more than one stretch where I kept reminding myself to breathe and just let my leg muscles calm down and relax. Deep breath in, visualize the ITB and knees relaxing. Repeat.

By the time I neared the 40 mile station, I was gaining more confidence. I stopped a little longer to chat with the aid station staff. Kudos to them for having potatoes this year! I left the 40 mile aid station with high spirits, knowing that I was getting close to the section that chewed me up and destroyed me last year - 42 to 45.

This was the "best" part of the race for me. The ibuprofen had provided some relief for my knees, which let me run some of the more "runnable" single track. It was incredibly empowering to look at stretches of the course where I was wobbling around in a nutrient-deficient haze last year and think "I feel good enough to run this stretch. It's not as technical as the trails in my backyard. Let's do this!"

Alone by myself on the single-track that took me to some dark places last year, I felt in control, confident, strong. I may have even teared up a little bit.

As I neared the 47 mile aid station where I was cutoff last year, I knew that there was no way (barring injury) I would not finish. In fact, I was damn sure that I could pretty much walk the rest of the course and still break 11 hours. I was so excited to get to the station this year that I ran up the hill leading to it!

At the 47 mile aid station. Everything hurt, but I knew I was in great shape to finish sub-11.

I felt relaxed at the last aid station. I got there in just under 10 hours. With just about three miles to go, I knew I was in fantastic shape. After a few minutes over at the food table, I made my way out into the fields that would lead to more single track on Ascutney mountain, and the ski slopes themselves. During this section I walked whenever I felt like it, which was quite a bit. The rain was pouring and the footing was slippery in the woods. As we got onto the slopes, it was even worse. I fell twice, while walking!

After a maddening couple of miles on the ski trails, I was almost there. To my surprise, Lauren caught up with me as we made the final descent. It was about 10:53 into the race and she came up with another guy. There was a palpable excitement in the air as they exclaimed "Western States!" and made their way down the final stretch.

I slipped a little bit on the final hill before the last stretch. As I made my way down, I could hear my crew cheering. I reached over to my right arm and touched the bracelets that the kids had made for me. I was overcome with emotion. Then I saw Jeremy coming back up to run me in. He yelled some words of encouragement to me as we made our way down.

Final Stretch!

After crossing the line, there were hugs and tears and all that good stuff. I made my way over to get my medal from the kind little girl handing them out. The wife snapped this pic immediately after. Tired and exhausted, but oh so happy.

Done and DONE!

A few minutes later, Doug crossed the finish line. He missed the 11 hour mark by 30 seconds, but finished the race despite not having really trained heading into it, and nursing his own injuries.

Afterwards, we enjoyed our drink of choice. Doug had beer, I had wine. We ate a burger at the food tent, and then we all made our way back to the farmhouse for more food and drink.

* Vermont is not flat
* Losing 30 lbs makes a huge difference
* Long hair and a beard is the look for ultras
* Ultras are freaking awesome, and I want to do more.

Thank Yous
I must say a huge thank you and job well done to the race organizers and volunteers this year. The aid stations were stocked and everything went pretty smoothly from my perspective. Huge thanks to the private land owners that allow us rights to their land for this one day a year.

Thank you to Doug - who continually talks me into "doing stupid things" that, in the end, are usually pretty damn fun.

And the biggest thank you of all to my biggest supporter - my wife Jenni. She and our kids extend a phenomenal amount of support to this crazy ultrarunner, and I am eternally grateful. You are the best!

As it was last year, there's a lot of stuff swirling around in my head about this experience. Some of it is tough to put into words. You've got to experience it. Go through it. Keep moving forward.

Medal, shirt, and bracelets that the kids made me to get me through this race. =)

I did continue "the streak" after the race. Day 280 was tough. But as of yesterday morning, I'm on day 291. Today I'm planning on going for a trail run with my daughter. One day at a time people, one day at a time.

Relentless forward motion. Run, run, run.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Trigger: Pulled


I got this e-mail last night.
Dear Adam,
Congratulations! You are now registered for Vermont 50 Mt Bike or Ultra Run

What did I just do? :)

How Did We Get Here

Remember that test from last weekend? Yeah, I passed with flying colors. My plan to run around the reservoir was shot down when I visited the deli along the route, that I was counting on being open, and learned that they would not be available during the hours I had planned. So, it was to the backup plan - an aid station simulation.

I ran a couple of these last year, and the basic idea is to mimic the distances between the aid stations in Vermont. I setup an "aid station" in my kitchen when I got up at 4:30 AM on Saturday morning, had some water and a piece of toast, and prepared to head out.

I actually had that last split wrong. It is 4.4 and not 4.2. This gets me to "Margaritaville" in Vermont - a total distance of 27.4 miles or so. The asterisk is to denote "bonus". I figured if I got to around 23 or so, I'd be feeling good, I'd at least go for the marathon if not the whole distance.

My primary fuel
If you want to read about the splits, I logged it on dailymile here. I took my time, played with different run/walk strategies, and had a great marathon distance training run. Afterwards, I had an ice bath, hot shower, and headed out to my nephew's second birthday party, where I ate and drank and ran around and had a blast. I thought for sure I'd be hurting Sunday.

But... I wasn't. I went out and ran another ten miles on Sunday. My legs were (still are) a little tired, but not anything unexpected for having run 36 miles in less than 24 hours. Since then, I've gone on a few more runs and my body is responding in a way I am honestly surprised by.

I may be crossing the threshold and entering into the "lean mean mountain running machine" territory I've been striving to get to.

So, I pulled the trigger.

Now all I've got to do is stay healthy and show up September 30th at Ascutney and RUN 50 MILES. Whether or not I make it this year, if there is one thing I learned from last year's experience - it'll be a Bucket Filler.

Yeah, I just might be mad. But then again, all the best of us are.

Until next time - run, run, run.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Catching Up

Please accept my apologies, dear readers (all 39 of you). It's been a while since my last post. It's been over two months, and while some things have changed, my desire to get out and run every day has remained constant. The streak is currently at 218 days, with no real end in sight, but one potentially very large threat looming in late September. Let's take a look at some highlights.

The day after the 50k at Pineland, I ran a couple of miles. Since then, the streak has not stopped. With nothing to really train for, it's been simple to go out for at least a mile every day. Some days, if the weather is nice I'll go out for a double. I tend to meet my "running wife" Rebecca for morning runs a few times a week, and I've slowly been adding more people to the weekend running crew. All of this makes it easy to continue getting out there.

Operation Lean-Mean-Mountain-Machine
Earlier this year, I resolved to lose the weight I had gained during the tail-end of last year. As you may or may not recall, entering 2012 I weighed just shy of 220lbs (219.2 to be more precise). Over the next few months, I modified my eating and exercise and saw good results. In April, I began eating "paleo-ish" and have continued since. Some of this is already documented in the Pineland Race Recap.

At Pineland, I weighed around 190lbs. Over the last couple of months, I've lost about 12-15 lbs. It varies depending on the week, and all the other factors around this - muscle, water retention, massive amounts of coconut ice cream and dark chocolate. But more importantly, I've leaned out, and I feel noticeably stronger. Hell, I can even do a handful of pull-ups and chin-ups now.

This transformation has led to more effortless running. My "auto-pilot" paces are getting faster. My recovery times quicker. One night, I even saw a 6-handle for about a half mile. It was downhill, but hey, that still counts!

On the mountain side of this operation, I've been logging more and more time over at Wachusett and the surrounding areas. My ultrarunning bud Julie was kind enough to take me out on a course that is a little technical and somewhat hilly. I've since learned that these terms translate to "a fuckton of roots and rocks" and "nightmare climbing". Crow Hill & Leominster State Forest if any of you are interested. Let's just say you won't be breaking any pace records.

Speaking of mountains
There is a little race at the end of September. It begins at Mt. Ascutney. Last year, it ended, for me, with disappointment. Throughout the year, I've been putting off registering. I've had all a bunch of reasons. "I'm gonna streak all year", "I don't want to face it again", "I want to lean out and really become a mountain machine", "What if I do it and fail again?", etc, etc.

But the biggest reason I was procrastinating is that Rebecca is targeting a half-marathon this fall. Her initial choice was Smuttynose, which falls on the same day. I told her I would train with her and run it, so I had an "out" for VT50. Well, a couple of weeks ago, she told me that she was going to re-evaluate and find another race, as the woman she planned to run with wouldn't be ready in time. One door closed, and another one opened. Her rescheduling, coupled with the fact that my buddy Doug has threatened to kill me if I don't run the race again this year, has got me leaning toward pulling the trigger.

So I came up with a kind of test to assess my overall level of fitness and my "readiness" for trying to tackle this beast in September. Last weekend, I headed out to Wachusett for some mountain repeats. I ran from the lodge at the base up the summit road and back down a few times. I also ran up and down Bolton Rd. once. The resulting numbers looked promising. From the dailymile workout log -

Wrist bitch - what say you? 3337 ft up, 3327 ft down. Plug that into your calculators kids. Let's see how it compares to VT50. 17.25 is 34.5% of the alleged distance in the green mountains. So....scaling out to 50 miles, this course computes around 9672 ft. Take that, Vermont!

This was not easy. Everything was sore. I had an epsom salt bath, an ice bath, tons of stretching, ibuprofen, etc. Then I woke up the next day and ran 11 miles in the woods. It was the first time I had run back-to-back double digit runs in over a year.

First part of the test looks really positive. The second part is coming up on Saturday. I'm planning my own version of Stu's 30k. Except that it'll be more like a 40k around the reservoir. I've got a few stops planned out along the way where I'll be able to buy some water and a snack. I'll slow down and walk and take my time. All about time on feet. Maybe 5 hours or so. We'll see.

If all goes well, and I can get out on Sunday, and still walk next week, you may be reading a post about how the trigger's been pulled. Maybe...

Until then - run, run, run.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Kids Are Alright

Sometimes I wonder what the kids think about all this running. This morning, the five year old told me:

"You did pretty good on that ultramarathon."

Thanks buddy! Also, I got this great piece of artwork for my efforts at Pineland.

My latest office artwork. Given to me for Pineland.
Guess they are paying attention. Hope it rubs off and we can get out on the trails soon. =)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pineland Farms 50k

I said it last year, and I'll repeat it again this year. Many thanks to the race directors and volunteers at this race. It is one of the best organized, fun running events I've had the chance to participate in, and definitely a go-to event in New England. That out of the way, on to the race report.

Training? Who needs Training?
Heading into 2011's 25k-turned-unofficial-50k, I had been running every day for 200 days, up until the day before Pineland. I took a day off and then went up to run. This year, Pineland marked the 152nd consecutive day of running at least one mile. Last year, I was coming off a "training cycle" that I had been sticking to with my "running wife" Rebecca. Maybe you remember the less-than-stellar Boston experience from last year? This year, I didn't really "train" for anything in the spring. I ran Stu's 30k in March and afterwards thought that I'd go out for a couple 20+ mile runs and see how I felt. If I felt good, I'd bite the bullet and sign-up for the 50k at Pinelands.

I went out 21 and 23 mile runs in late April/early May and felt pretty decent. So I signed up, and continued to just run trails as much as possible while keeping the streak alive. I figured that running every day, in combination with the increased cross-training I was doing (biking at work, pushups, crunches, burpees, plank, etc), I'd be fairly prepared for the 50k come Memorial Day.

Race Weekend - Saturday
Last year, I made the drive up, ran the race, and drove home. It was a long day! This year, decided to make it a mini-vacation. The wife and kids accompanied me up on Saturday night. We stayed in the Freeport area, which was perfect - about 20-25 minutes away from the race. Saturday night, I met up with a bunch of Dailymile friends down in Portland for a little pre-race celebration. Then came the arduous task of getting the children (5 and 7) to sleep in a foreign place the night before an ultra. Let's just say I did not get a great night's sleep. But, do we ever sleep well before races?

Race Day!
Woke up sometime before 6 and made our way over to get some breakfast at the hotel cafe. I don't normally eat that much before races, but this morning I decided to have a fuller meal - big old veggie omelette with bacon. Delicious. Then we made our way over to the campus. It was a gorgeous morning for a run - 60's with a slight breeze.

Got my number, had one last stop at the port-a-john, and it was just about time to get ready. Had a chance to snap a picture with the kids before the race.

My cheering section

Soon I made my way to the back of the pack and awaited the start. Let's go over my "goals", shall we?

  • Finish. Yes, I've run 32 mile training runs. Yes, I ran 47 miles in Vermont last year. Yes, I ran 50k at Pineland last year. But I've never officially finished an ultramarathon.
  • Take it easy and have fun. I had no intention of stopping "the streak", so I wanted to make sure that I didn't do anything stupid to jeopardize my chances of running on Monday.
  • Complete a series of "tests". This represented my chance to test several things:
    • New shoes. A few weeks prior I picked up a pair of New Balance MT10 trail shoes. Been loving them. Wanted to give 31 miles a go to see how they held up.
    • New eating. For about 2 months I've been eating a paleo-style diet. Which, of course means no grains and much, much less in the way of carbohydrates. I had more than one person tell me that this was a bad idea for endurance events. Nutrition on my training runs has consisted mainly of dates and bananas. Wanted to see how I'd do with this formula, plus some of the tasty salted potatoes.
    • My overall level of fitness. As I said, I hadn't really been training for this distance in particular. Was really curious to see how I would feel after 26-28 miles. The last time I ran anything more than the 23 I did in early May was the Vermont 47 in September of last year.
I may have also had a unmentioned goal of beating my unofficial time from last year, which was 6:58:19. A little healthy self-competition never hurt anyone (too badly).

So where were we? Oh yeah, the start...

I'm a back of the packer

One last wave to the wife and kids :)
"Runners: On your mark...Go!"

Nice and easy out of the gate. It wasn't long before I was chatting with a guy wearing VFFs. His name was Matt and he was from the Boston area. It was his first ultra, and after a few minutes talking, we decided to stick together. I told him a bit about the loop that I remembered from last year. The first 3 miles or so are mostly downhill, so I tried to go easier than I did last year. We moved along for a while at somewhere around an 11-ish pace.

After a while, we ended up falling in with a couple of women in the grass. I say "the grass" because after a while, you can't really tell where the hell you are out there. It all sort of looks the same.

Lots of this
One of the women, Christine, was from the Maine Trail Monsters Club. We both knew J-Rock so we chatted it up about how much of a beast he is, and how awesome the trail running scene is up in Maine. The other woman, Tracy, was actually also from central Massachusetts, so we had a lot to chat about as well. She was also rocking the VFFs (in fact, she actually works for Vibram, which is way cool, as I finally learned once and for all you're supposed to pronounce them VEEEEbram).

Anyways, the 4 of us moved forward together for a bit. After a while Christine dropped behind a bit, and it was just the three of us. We stuck together for the majority of the first 25k loop. After about 10 miles through the first loop, the course winds back through the start/finish area. Got to see the family which is always a super thing.

About 10 miles in, feeling great!
We then moved into the second part of the loop. Not the second loop, just the second part. The course is 10 or so miles of winding trails through the forest and farmland and then about 5.5 miles on the other side of the start/finish area. At the final-mile aid station, Tracy stopped to use the facilities, and Matt and I continued on. It wasn't too long into the second loop that we noticed Tracy had caught up to us. I have to admit, I was surprised to see she had, as we thought we left her behind. Anyways, it was great to be reunited for a little bit. She stuck with us until around mile 19 (I think?) and then it was just the two of us for the second loop.

Not far into the second loop, Dailymile friend Patty snapped a picture of us having a blast on this 50k adventure.
Feeling pretty good after some aid station food and drink
On the second loop, I stopped for a few seconds here and there to snap a few pics.

Did I mention there was some grass?
You might not be able to make it out, but there was some nice water over rocks  after this bridge.
Relentless forward motion. That's what the ultramarathoners say. So we kept moving forward. Pace was still somewhere near 12, although I wasn't really paying that close attention to it. Really just tried to concentrate on the perceived level of effort - slowing when I felt it prudent. Again - wanted to run on Monday, and in the back of my mind I was thinking I might need to save something in case I ran into dailymile friend and rockstar Maddy, who was running the 50 miler. I ran with her last year and thought the opportunity may present itself again this year, so I was trying to hold back a little bit.

On the second part of the second loop, we crossed the marathon mark and it was congratulations all around to the first time ultramarathoners that were near us in the field at the 26.2 mile mark.

Several times throughout the course, we ran into J-Rock, who was volunteering, and riding the course on his mountain bike. "Have you seen Maddy yet?", "Nope...". I was starting to get a little worried actually. Maybe she was having a really rough day. I was hoping we'd overlap at some point and was pretty surprised we hadn't seen her yet. Maybe she was having a truly phenomenal day, and she already finished? That seemed impossible, but still, I was wondering where she was / how she was doing.

Around mile 29 or so, I got my answer. I heard a familiar voice say "DM Representin!" and I felt a rush of air and saw a blur of colors as Maddy zipped by with her pace runner Sean trying to keep up with her as she was straight up crushing the last bit of her 50 miler. I turned to Matt and said "And I was worried about her!". He agreed - "Yeah, good thing, because it looks like she's really struggling..."

Last year, she and Brendan amazed me by taking off with a couple miles to go. This year, I was not going to let that happen again. I had held back long enough. It was time to see what I could do after 6 hours of running at an "easy" pace. I took off to catch up with them. As Maddy put it on DM, the three of us "busted our butts to the finish line".

I'd say so. After running in the 12-13 minute pace range for the better part of the day, the last mile was a scorching fast 9:30.

Best Finish Ever!
I slowed down a bit at the very end. Maddy ran into the start/finish area to much applause. Then it was my turn. As I entered the clearing, I saw the wife and kids waiting and cheering. The kids ran out to greet me, but as I approached, I raised my arms in celebration. I was about to officially complete my first ultramarathon, and I couldn't have been happier.

Loving It All
As I reached the kids, I grabbed my son and hoisted him up and the three of us ran together across the finish line, in what was undoubtedly the proudest, happiest, most emotionally overwhelming race moment I have ever experienced. I may have cried glorious tears if I had more liquid in me.

Best Finish Ever!
 I got my cowbell and a fresh bottle of water, hugged the family.

 A few minutes later, I saw Matt finish. Went up and shook his hand and exchanged thanks and congratulations. Headed to the BBQ tent and got some food. Spent a little bit of time hanging out with DM friends afterwards before heading back to the hotel room for a much needed shower, and of course, more food, and wine. :)

So how about those 'tests'?
New Shoes
The new shoes fared fantastically. No issues at all. No blistering. Feet were sore, but to be expected. It was a 50k trail race after all.

New Diet
I felt fantastic the entire way. No "wall" to speak of. Granted, I took this nice and slow, but I've been working on burning fat, and I think this race proved to me that I'm capable of going for a long, long time as long as I'm smart about it. Here is what I ate - at each aid station, I sampled boiled potatoes with salt, the salty banana, an occasional pickle, and oranges. I took 1-2 s-caps from the aid stations each stop. I also had some dates with me, and I think I ate about 5 over the course of the day.

Overall Level Of Fitness
I am super encouraged by the end of this race. Busting out a 9:30 pace in mile 31 without falling apart was awesome. And if you guessed that the streak continued Monday morning, you would be correct. I felt fine enough to even bust out an 8-handle for a half mile or so on the way back to the hotel. Ran on the single-track Tuesday morning without issue. So yeah, I think running every day, cycling at lunch, and randomly throwing in pushups, plank and the like is working like a charm.

The Data
The wrist-bitch reports:

Distance: 31.15 miles
Time: 06:35:12
Elevation Gain: 2457'
Elevation Loss: 2460'
Average Pace: 12:41
Average 'Moving' Pace: 12:03

An unofficial "PR" by around 23 minutes. I'm pretty happy with that.

Closing Thoughts
When I ran my "second first" marathon in 2010, my race report contained the following bit -
It is truly a miraculous thing that I get to do these things. Years ago, at 350 lbs, I would have never imagined such a thing was possible. Then I did it. 2 years ago, I never imagined such a thing would be possible, again. 
Years from now, I can't wait to reflect upon the things that I can't imagine doing right now - ultras, BQ, etc. 
Most things that seem impossible are achievable. It just takes a little consistency and discipline.  You can change your life. It all starts right now.
I am incredibly grateful for each day that I wake up and get to enjoy this way of life. Running has changed me in ways that I cannot even count. I want to extend a sincere, heartfelt thank you to anyone and everyone that has been a part of this journey with me - be they friends and family, online 'friends', people that have run with me during events, or even complete strangers that give a knowing nod and smile when we pass on the trails.

So that's it. I'm an official ultramarathoner. I got a cowbell even.

Need More Cowbell!
But here's the thing - the 50-mile finishers get an even bigger cowbell. Hmmm....

Until next time - run, run, run.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Been a while, I know.

I've been neglecting the blog. I know. I'll write more soon. Promise.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Images From The Trails

This weekend was no different than any other - time on the trails! Saturday morning I got out relatively early (before 7am) with Rebecca for some time on the local connector trail and some of the offshoots of the West Boylston Rail Trail. Here are some Saturday morning pictures.

Quinapoxet River
Ridge high above the river and rail trail
Leading down to the river
West Boylston Rail Trail
Later that afternoon, I decided to head out for another short run. I took the extension of the rail trail that runs behind home and down over to a couple of waterfalls off Mill St. The high winds had knocked down many branches and some trees. Here are some of those pictures.

Downed branches on rail trail

Waterfalls Off Mill
Sunday morning I spent some time exploring by the river and on the red and white trails in Trout Brook. Here are some of the pictures.

If you are interested, all of the pictures are thrown together in one of those auto-generated iMovie photo albums, with musical selection from my five year old son -


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Images From Last Weekend

Images from runs this weekend. On Sunday, I pace ran a friend at the Hampton Half Marathon. She did great, and PR'd by 4-5 minutes. I felt so great after the half that I went for another 3 mile run on trails near their house. On Monday, I had the day off for the first time in ages, and spent some time on my beloved river trails. Later in the day, I drove to Porcupine Hill to scout out some new trails.

Hampton Half and subsequent trail run

The beloved Quinapoxet trails

Porcupine Hill - about 5 very hilly miles away from home

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Come run the Quinapoxet with me

Took another stab at a trail running video. This time I was able to position the phone to capture some shots of me running along the trail. The music is from the surrealist film 'El Topo'. If you've ever wished you could come along on one of these weekend trail runs, this is your chance. 


Sunday, February 12, 2012

From the trails

After some speed and hill work this week, and a double yesterday, I decided keep it low mileage today. Some time on the trails. Connector and single-track to the river. Up and down the winding trails, still covered in patches of snow and ice. Footing tricky in spots. Up the bigmotherhill behind the house and down the rocky single-track. After a few winter-technical miles, the asphalt of the last 3/4 mi felt alien.
Have a great Sunday.

Shots from the trail on Sunday

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sometimes you find an airstrip

Single-track off connector by the river. Icy splotches. Icy mosses. High ridge path requires some hands for balance. Upper loop off rail trail leads to more fire road. A vague memory of a pond over these hills leads to moving through the forest, without trail. Up ahead a slope, and clear blue sky beyond. The pond?

Stumbling upon the air field for the Quinapoxet Model Flying Club provides a wide open field with little runways mowed into brown grass. Paths along the edge of the wide plateau provide views of the pond. Gate shut, barbed wire fence leads to more running along the edge. Finally, a path down wooded slope leads to town forest road.

Bridge over Quinapoxet and back on to icy single track. Sit by the river for a minute. Cross frozen stream and back to road. Road to Mill. Bridge over Q. Rolling hills. Bridge over Q. And up the little hill back toward home.

There are birds here.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Awesome Hangover

Standing on the icy edge of a 4135 acre reservoir, I thought - the word awesome is too commonly used. 

Awesome workout! What an awesome play! How was dinner? Awesome! 
This morning's run had moments that were awesome, in the true sense of the word.
What a great run this morning. Was out late last night (this morning) with old friends. slept for a few hours. Woke up and thought - I'm older than I've ever been. And now I'm even older. Took some ibuprofen. Had some water. Got dressed and got out there.
Today I drove over to the Wachusett Reservoir. There's a parking lot on 140 as you head toward Boylston. The road is part of the Stu's 30k course. I ran on 140 along the reservoir and took an old maintenance road down to the water. On to single track, fisherman and hiking trails that darted along the waters edge. Spectacular views.

Away from the water and into dense pine forest. The ground was so soft. Ran along old fire road with patches of ice scattered amidst red-brown forest floor. Roots reaching. Some parts of the forest so open that you could run through tall trees with little debris in the way of your step. Other places littered with downed limbs and wind-blown branches.

Parts of this run were truly exhilarating. I've never run over here, and the sense of wonderment as I crested hills or the amazement of gazing out over the water at distant shore in the sunlight far outweighed any ill effects I was suffering from last night's adventure. Don't get me wrong. I felt tired and my head was aching. At the beginning of the run. But as soon as I got about a mile in, and was on the trail, all of that disappeared. 

I am truly blessed to live so close to magnificent places to run.