Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Was Wrong

Last week, I wrote in this space that I thought there were three things required to finish a 100 Mile Race. "Hard work, patience, and faith".

This week, I'm here to tell you that I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Please don't misunderstand. Those three things ARE all very important, and I wouldn't want to toe the line of any ultra (let alone my first 100 miler) without them. But, if another critical item is not there with you as well, then those first three things are far less meaningful.

...and, that magical fourth ingredient is "support".

I was very fortunate that my support for The Ghost Train 100 came from a variety of reliable sources.

The first, and foremost, source of support came from my Family. My wife who, although she doesn't always understand WHY I choose to do the things I do, always stands behind my decision to do them. With everything she has! My kids who cheer for me hard, whether I come in first, or last. ...as long as I bring them a medal. My sisters (both blood and step) who always make a point of asking how my training is going. And last, but not least, my mom who is always "so proud" even if she does think (and say) I've "got a screw loose"!

My second big support group was my Friends. Both runners and non-runners alike, came out to the trails in tremendous numbers on race day and waited around for hours at the chance to see me for as little a minute - while I quickly wolfed down some food or hurriedly filled a water bottle at an aid station. Waving, screaming and photographing as I went past. Taking time out of their busy lives (and schedules) just so they could be part of something that was important to ME. Simply amazing!

Next was my Running Club. Letting me know that they cared about me, and the work that we've done together over the years, by contributing to my Progeria Fundraising efforts. And, cheering and laughing along to a rousing rendition of "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" at our annual end-of track dinner. Just three days before the race! That night we raised almost $1000 for 100 Miles for Sam. I'm not sure I've ever been prouder to be a member of the Striders. And, with 12 years of service under my belt, that's saying quite a lot!

My fourth layer of support came from the Race Volunteers. Willingly putting themselves in the faces of tired (and sometimes cranky) runners. Offering us all sorts of treats, elixirs and salves to help keep us moving towards our ultimate goals. Encouraging us when we wanted it and kicking us in the backsides when we needed it! The ultra-running community is chock full of caring, selfless and incredible individuals. And, I feel so fortunate to be counted among them!

Finally, my Pacing Crew. It's hard to put into words what these guys meant to me before, during and after my race. Standing around for hours (after keeping tabs for many hours more) just for the chance at jogging slowly, in the woods, in the dark, in the middle of night (and nowhere) with me. At the very least, these seven wonderful people provided some much needed diversion during some very lonely miles. And, at the very most, they completely saved my race!

Because, while hard work, patience and faith may be enough to prepare you for the start of your race, you'll never get to the finish (or enjoy it quite as much) if you don't have the support to go with it!

And, this week, my Ghost Train support team helped me to a finishing time of 22 hours, 13 minutes and 3 seconds  - at my first ever 100 mile race!  A time which, remarkably enough, earned me a rusty railroad spike, a shiny belt buckle and 7th place overall!



...official race report to follow shortly, as I'm still trying to soak it all in!

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Leap of Faith



Hard work, patience, and faith.

That’s what it takes to finish a 100 Mile Race. Or, at least that’s what I THINK it takes to finish a 100 mile race. Since I’ve never actually run one. Oh, I’ve done the training. And read the best books on the subject. And spoken to plenty of people who have gone the distance. But, the furthest I’ve ever run at one time is 50 miles - which barely gets me half way!
So, what makes me think I can do it?

Hard work, patience, and faith.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Taper Time

So far, 2014 has been a very busy year…

I’ve logged 2829 miles through 41 weeks - for an average of 69 miles per week. Or, about 10 miles a day! My weekly average is 9 miles per week more than my biggest year. And, 17 miles per week more than I’ve averaged over the last 5 years. Which works out to one extra long run, every week! Speaking of long runs, my AVERAGE long run this year has been 24 miles.

That’s like running a near-marathon every week, all year long!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dream Team

A few weeks ago I put out the call for Help, and that call was answered…

On Saturday October 25th, I will be running my first 100 mile race. And I’ll be doing so with the help of 7 wonderful people who will be pacing me (in shifts) for the last 70 miles of the race. So basically, from early Saturday afternoon until early Sunday morning, I will have a team of runners whose sole purpose is to make sure I get to that finish line. I feel so very fortunate to have so many great friends who have absolutely nothing better to do than run back and forth with me through the woods.

So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce my “Dream Team” of pacers for the Ghost Trail 100m and a little  info about what makes each of them so special...


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October

"October.  And the trees are stripped bare, of all they wear.  What do I care?”

Autumn is a season of decay. The grass turns brown, the flowers wither, and the leaves fall off the trees. The bright warm days of summer are long gone. There is a chill in the air, a frost on the ground, and a foreboding sense that winter is right around the corner. Traditionally, this time of year is a melancholy one for me. As the weather gets colder, and the days get shorter, my thoughts turn darker – like the days ahead.

This year feels different, though. This year I feel hopeful. And, I’m not sure why.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mine Falls Fifty

When I mapped out my 2014 Race Schedule back in November of last year, I had originally planned to run the Pisgah 50k as my final tune-up race before Ghost Train. However, those plans changed when I became aware of a low-key, 50 mile run taking place on the same day in my “home woods” of Mine Falls Park. 50 miles in Mines?! I gotta be a part of that, right?

Of course, there were other reasons (besides proximity) which ultimately lead me to choose the Mine Falls 50 over Pisgah. And they mostly revolved around a single question: “Which race will better prepare me for Ghost Train?”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mindset Makeover

Those of you who know me, know that I am not a patient man.  Particularly when it comes to running. I started running in 1998 and my first road race was the following spring when I bandited (sorry, not sorry) the Boston Marathon! So, yup. Zero to 26.2 in less than a year! If that’s not an impatient (stupid?) runner, then I’ve never met one!

For a while, my impatience served me well. Pushing me every day. Trying to finish my next training run faster than my previous one - every single time out. It worked well and I got quick, quick. But, after a while it began to wear me down and burn me out. So, I soon realized that if I wanted to keep doing this “running thing” long term, I’d need to add easy days to my hard days. This has worked for me with varying degrees of success.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Race Specific

I’ve been told by people wiser than me (which is just about everyone) that, with the Ghost Train 100 Miler less than 8 weeks away, it’s time for me to start focusing on “race specific” training. Meaning, I need to try and emulate the conditions I can expect to see on race day in my everyday training so that I can become comfortable with them prior to toeing the line.

So, what does that mean exactly for a race like Ghost Train? To figure that out, let’s take a deeper look at the aspects that make the GT 100 the race that it is...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Crescent Moon

Recently, while taking my dog for an early evening stroll, I saw this...


















 


Which inspired me to write this...


Monday, August 25, 2014

Help Wanted

Exactly two months from today, I will be running the Ghost Train 100 Mile Trail Race in  memory of Sam Berns. Sam was a wonderful young man from Foxboro Massachusetts who passed away on January 10th. Sam suffered from a rare disease called Progeria – which is a fatal genetic condition characterized by an appearance of accelerated aging. Sam lived ‘til the ripe old age (at least where Progeria is concerned) of 17.

Sam’s parents, Leslie Gordon and Scott Berns, founded the Progeria Research Foundation in 1999 and since that time, PRF has been the driving force behind the Progeria gene discovery and the first-ever Progeria drug treatment. They have taken what was an obscure, ignored disease and have developed a globally recognized treatment in just 13 years – an unheard of timeline in the world of medical research!

I will be raising money for PRF and hopefully awareness about Progeria with every mile I run at Ghost Train.  But, I need your help!  No, I don’t need you to contribute to 100 Miles For Sam (although I wouldn’t be disappointed if you did), what I need instead is your time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Drop Dead Legs

Well, I guess it was bound to happen sooner, or later…

When you spend the year pushing your body to the limit, by training for (and racing) ultras, eventually it’s going to push back. And, that’s exactly what happened to me last weekend at the TARC Summer Classic 50m. The race began just fine, but I never really got comfortable. I felt downright awful at around the 12 mile mark, toyed briefly with the idea of just running a 50k and then finally dropped out altogether at mile 20. Logging the first official DNF of my ultra-running career.

At the time, I didn’t really know what was going on out there, I just knew that something wasn’t right. My legs were very heavy and sore from the start. My energy level was low. And, my overall attitude was terrible. Feelings which are normal in the last quarter of a 50 mile race - not the first quarter!


Now, after having reviewed the last 10 weeks of my training log (since my last 50 Mile Race) I know EXACTLY why things went south...       

...Because I am an idiot!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

‘Twill Serve

Robin Williams died this week. That alone is sad enough, but add to it the fact that he committed suicide and it’s downright tragic. To think that one of the funniest human beings on the planet was so depressed that he couldn’t will himself to go on living is simply unfathomable. Unless, of course, you know anything about depression…

Robin Williams starred in many movies over his illustrious career. But three, in particular, stand out for me.  They don’t stand out because they were good. Or, because they were memorable. Or, because they were funny. They were all those things, and more! No, the reason that these three movies stand out for me is because they were life-altering! They touched me deeply and affected me for years to come!