Five Things You Need To Do To Run 100 Miles

Five Things You Need To Do To Run 100 Miles

This week is the final taper week for my 6th running of the Virginia 24 Hour Ultra Run For Cancer, third as team #Run4Life captian.  Not that I’m an expert or accomplished 100 mile runner, but I thought I would offer you Five Things You Need To Do To Run 100 Miles.

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#1 Sign Up…no kidding signning up for the race, admiting to yourself that you want to tackle this distance is the biggest first step.  If you don’t believe in yourself enough to sign up, how can you ever run the distance.  Check out how it went my first attemp to run an Ultra marathon and maybe 100 miles.

24hr2012(My thrid finish, not 100 miles but 75 had to do)

#2 Tell Everyone You Know…Once you commit to yourself that you want to run 100 miles, tell everyone you know.  Post it on Facebook, Tweet it on Twitter, post pictures of your entry acceptence on Instagram, write your grandmother, send a Western Union telegram to your old Army buddies….get the word out there.  The peer pressure of knowing your goal is out there for the world to see, and hold you accountable is powerful. How did I do at Umstead?

BartgoodluckUmstead

#3 Be Determined…You signed up, You paid the fees, you told your friends and family.  Now refuse to give in, the thought of running 100 miles is scary, but if you believe…you can do it.  In the months leading up to the big race refuse to even consider failure, never think of giving up, never entertain the thought.  Believe in you and you can do it.

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#4 Plan…Sounds simple enough.  Any other race distance you might be able to train and just show up.  But to run 100 miles you have to have a plan, where are you going to refuel, rehydrate and change clothes or get first aid if you need it.  100 miles is a long way, even for the elite ultra-runners this race is long, spanning 15+ hours.  In that time a lot can and will most likely go wrong.  You have to plan for 100 mile success of surfer 100 failures.

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#5 Coming Tomorrow…

My First Ultra Marathon – 24 Hour Run For Cancer 2009

I’ll be running my 6th Virginia 24-Hour Ultra Run for Cancer, how did it go during my first time out?  Here is a look back…

Virginia 24-Hour Run for Cancer April, 18/19, 2009.
16.5 hours, 14 laps, 8 pounds, 1 fall, 1 snake and 1……ah  A GHOST!

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My first ultra-marathon experience is in the books.  First impression of this experience is that this was the hardest thing I’ve ever done (running wise).  I completely underestimated just how hard running for 24, well 16.5 hours would be.  I also misjudged how much motivation I would lose when I realized I could not make my primary goal nor my secondary goal of 75 miles.  At the end of the day 52.5 miles would be it for me.  Over the course of that first ultra-marathon day, I lost 8 pounds, I fell on the trail, and I had an encounter with a not so friendly snake.

Frankly Scarlet, I had…had enough.

Going into this race I really had no idea what an ultra-marathon was all about.  I was once asked  by an ultra-running friend to give the races longer than 26.2 miles a try.  I flatly told him “no way, a marathon is enough for me.”  Never did I believed I would be up for the extreme distances of an ultra-marathon.  Then the Earth shifted off it’s axial tilt and something in my brain went a bit off center.

I started running long distances in 2000, and by 2009 I had a few marathons under my belt. I figured I was in pretty good shape, was a veteran to this running thing and was looking for a new challenge.  Somehow I stumbled across and decided I wanted to find out what running for 24 hours would be like.  I reasoned I would run a bit slower, and take a few breaks, but I also felt like I was up for the task.  The weeks leading up to the race I devised an awesome running and resting plan.  Laying it all out on an Excel spreadsheet I was pretty proud of myself when I hatched a plan to run for ONE HUNDRED MILES…heck that was only a little over 4.1 miles an hour, a snail like 14:24 pace.  I convinced myself surly my 4 hour marathons and 1200 miles a year had me in shape for this century challenge.  Staring at my planning masterpiece I figured this was going to be easy. (Insert evil laugh here….)

The Virginia 24 Hour Run For Cancer was run over a 3.75 mile lollipop looped course at Sandy Bottom Nature Trail in Hampton, Va.  The trails were flat and for the most part easy to run on.  One section of the trail covered an unimproved foot path with exposed roots.  This proved to be a challenge as the hours/miles wore on and as darkness set in.  Funny how the roots grew in height or was it I could no longer lift my feet?  I’m sure it was the roots.  This is a very nice course and a very well organized and supported race.

sandybottommap(24 Hour course in red)

Not only was this my first exposure to ultra distance but also to the ultra-crowd, I found this collection of running brotherhood a really nice bunch of people.

24runbb(Race Director George N. giving the brief,
I’m standing to the far left)

After getting the morning safety brief from George, our Race Director and founder of the race, he offered some advice to all first time ultra runners. “The Tortoise normally beats the Hare” and with those sage words the race began and the crowd of over 100 was off.  The excitement in the air did little to help me heed his advice and slow down the pace.  I turned the first lap in little over 40 minutes.  My car was parked just a few feet off the trail, as my make shift race HQ I taped a copy of my running plan on the window so I could monitor my progress thou out the day.  Although it was early I could not resist checking my running plan.  By my calculations I already had 10 minutes in the Ultra Bank, 100 miles…ha ha maybe 110?

Heading out on the second lap, I felt great…it was a wonderful day and the course was pretty easy.  As I made my way around for lap two, three and on to four I wondered why people where already walking?  This is a race right, making the turn to go back out on the trail I asked how my lap times/miles where holding up, one of the volunteers informed me I was up near the top of the leader-board.  My mind went into over drive, maybe I could win this thing?

Back out for another lap I was ahead of my 100 mile plan, I had a solid 30 minutes banked, and my legs were loving life.  Laps seven and eight went by just like the first 20 plus miles except I was a bit more tired during this cycle. Then there was the encounter with the snake.  I’ll only say that I did cry like a little girl when I nearly stepped on this thing in the middle of the trail.  I’ll also comment that my lap times thou this section of the trail were greatly improved.  I do not like snakes.  It was time to take a longer break get some food/fuel and change my shoes.  Feeling a bit overheated I decide I would take advantage of the down time and have a solid sit-down for my lunch/dinner.  From here my race fell apart.

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The extend time off my feet, the pace that I had been running at and the marathon limit to the distances I had run all came together in one rapid descending tidal wave of fatigue.  The miles after 30 were tough.  The extended break was tough, after the extended time off my feet my run was reduced to a 75% run to 25% walk ratio.  Slowly that decayed into a 60/40 mix with the approach of  night fall and the dark hours on the trail.

As night time set in I was not prepared for the dark.  Some how in my great 24 hour running plan I did not have any lightening equipment.  With night time setting in navigating the easy trails became increasingly hard.  Without my own lights I was forced to try and stay in contact with other runners just to find my way around the trails.  Seeing what was right in front of me was left up to my own senses, moon light and sheer luck.  The compounding effects of fatigue and the dark trails reduced my run to a fast shuffle this unfortunately brought on additional problems…namely a tree root and blisters.  My body, feet, legs, and back had never gone that far before.  The accumulation of fatigue was beginning to add up exponentially.  One lap felt like three and four miles felt like 12.

As I made my way over a relatively easy part of the trail my toe caught of something sharp.  My momentum continued forward as my foot was stuck in pace, the next thing I knew I was landing on the trail in a flying heap.  After a flash of anger passed I quickly inventoried my body parts to make sure nothing was missing.  At this point in the day my body was battered and now bruised and not so pleased with my choice of running an ultra-marathon.  Making things worse it was beginning to get cold and very very dark.

On my second to last lap, the 13th of the day, as I made my way thou the trail portion, around 10 pm I was maintaining a 10 minute run, 5 minute walk pace and moving pretty gingerly thou the darkest portion of the course.  The pack that started out the morning as one group of runners was now spread out in thin groupings.  At this point I had not seen another runner in over an hour and the darkness of this section was messing with my mind and spirit.  I was simply sore and tired.  During one of my strides as my left hand made its way back behind my back I felt the sensation of someone reaching out to me. I felt the sensation of skin touching my hand.  I felt someone holding my hand.

No kidding it felt like someone reached out and held my hand.  I instantly jumped out of my skin, spun around, directing my flashlight all around me and into the darkness of the empty trail.  No one was there…..just me and the emptiness of the nighttime.  Needless to say my pace was a bit quicker…the rest of that lap and my final time (lap 14) covering that portion of the course.  I’m not one to believe in the supernatural…..but something weird happened there….and it felt pretty real.

2011-12-29_14-57-17_909(52.5 miles)

All in all I came out of this experience…with no real injuries, a little leaner, very tired and a lot smarter on ultra distance running.

Why I Blog About My Running Racing Training

Why I Blog, Post, Snap, Pin, Tweet, and Write about my running adventures.

It’s not to brag, it’s not to say look at me.  Mostly it’s to keep myself in check but then I receive some feedback like this…and then I know the real reason I blog, post, snap, pin, tweet, and write about my running!

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@MaltTroll   Thanks for the straightforward advice. I need to do this weight loss gig … again. Sigh

@running2oki   I started & couldn’t jog 1 mile without walking love my journey, can’t wait to see where takes me!

@running2oki   LOVE this! your experience reminds me that my goals are possible! thank you! #inspiration #motivation

@owen_runs   I enjoyed reading that. Thanks for sharing!

@runanninarun    brilliant post!! Thank u!!

Sara H (Facebook)  Sometimes when you post things I feel like you are talking right to me. This is the 2nd day in a row that a post from you has made me get off my butt and just RUN!! Thanks for all the info and motivation you provide!  Thanks again for all your advice and motivation, it’s great to get it because i don’t know many runners!

Dave G (Facebook)  Brian writes an awesome running blog. He shares running experiences, stories, reviews running gear and is an overall awesome, inspirational dude.

Fitness – Weight Loss – Running – Eating

You have run the miles, watched what you eat and lost the pounds.  Now what?  The most important part of any diet or weight loss plan is to maintain your healthy lifestyle.

Here are 5 habits to help maintain your weight and not squander all that hard work!

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  1. Stop Dieting  You can’t live  on that diet forever.  You can’t continue to follow the fad diet.  Get back to eating normal, but the new normal for you.  Make sure you eat full, well balanced meals containing lean proteins, healthy fats, and fruits & veggies.  I don’t eat perfect, but I eat a heck of a lot better then I did.
  2. Be proud of your Success and Reward Results  Continue to set weekly and monthly goals, and make sure you reward yourself when you hit your targets. Celebrate with a fun activity (instead of a huge restaurant dinner with extra dessert), new running gear or a new workout outfit.
  3. Find what works for you  We are all different, Try cooking your own meals instead of eating out.  Supplement your meals with a smoothie or shake.
  4. Get Some Sleep  Lack of sleep can lead to irregular appetite & an imbalance of hormones which can lead to decreased levels of Leptin, your natural appetite suppressor. Make sure you get your 7-9 hours of Zzzz’s!

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  1. Be Active, Stay Accountable  Keep up your new healthy lifestyle by staying active and being accountable for your choices.   Just because you’ve achieved your weight loss/fitness goal doesn’t mean you should regress back to those old habits!   Be Proud, Keep strong & motivated for a happier, healthier, fitter you.

Run 15000 Miles Ultra Marathon Runner

While on a remote tour to Thule Greenland, August 2nd of 2000, I started running with a 2 mile run.  I was out of shape, 30 pounds over weight and simply feeling bad about myself.  I got on a treadmill with no expectations, I just wanted to lose a few pounds and get in reasonable shape.  I never would have guessed where those first labored steps, those first few out of breath miles would take me.

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15.  I lost 30 pounds and for the most part I have kept it off for 15 years.  I did gain a few pounds back here and there but as of today I’m 30 pounds lighter.

14.  I got in shape…from that first two mile run I now run ultra marathon distances (greater then 26.2 miles).

13.  I’ve met and become part of a great and supportive running community.

12.  I ran a marathon (13 to date) and become a Marathon Maniac, ran two marathons within 14 days.

11.  I began this running blog.

10.  I ran a race on top of the world and the middle eastern desert.

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9.   I’ve run two 100 mile races, both under 24 hours.

8.  I’ve run and raised over $5000 for charity.

7.  Captained a team which won a 24 Hour Race (most combined miles). #Run4Life

6.  Ran a 200 mile relay with 6 good friends.

5.  Ran the Air Force Marathon, and Marine Corp Marathon.

4.  Ran sub 4 hour marathon in Niagara Falls, USA and Canada.

3.  Changed my outlook on life.

2.  Had a running feature which I wrote published.

1.  Found the “ME” I never knew I could be.

I only highlight these to show you that if I can change my world by simply running, YOU can too.

My New Long Term Goal…25,000 miles before I turn 55.

#run #run365 #runchat

 

Volunteering at Umstead 100 Mile Ultra Marathon

Not every runner has a blog, but I believe every runner has something to share.  When a friend of mine volunteered at a local 100 mile race, and told me about his experience I knew he had seen the race from a side few get to see it.  A couple hundred run the race every year, but only 20, 30 or 50 who take time out of their lives to put on the race get to view it from a different perspective.  Here is Umstead 2015 from Dave’s side of the len.

My name is David G.  I am a 36 year old police officer, husband, and father of two wonderful children.  Running has been a passion of mine since 2007.  In 2014, I became interested in running longer distances.  I have completed several half marathons, three marathons and two 50k’s all within the last year.  As those distances have increased I feel like I am treading in unchartered waters.  A new benchmark for me is a 50 mile race. I’m presently training for the JFK 50 in November. While talking strategies for JFK, a buddy told me a great way to gain knowledge about running ultra-distances is to volunteer at an ultra. Taking his advice to heart, I decided to volunteer at the Umstead 100 mile Endurance Run. 

davidg(Author and volunteer, David G.)

I worked at Aid Station 1, which is at the race headquarters, Camp Lapihio.  My shift started at 2:30 am.  My wife asked who in the world wants to start a shift at 2:30 in the morning.  Quite excitedly, I said “me.”  Of course I was so excited I arrived at William B. Umstead State Park, Raleigh, NC about 10:30 pm Saturday night.  Arriving on site the atmosphere was electric.  I walked into camp and was amazed.  The place was packed with runners who had already completed the race.  They were eating, chatting and telling stories of how “their race” had unfolded.  I was in awe. 

Reporting to my assignment I was partnered with a cool 13 year old kid named Alex. Together, we poured water, Gatorade, soda, and handed drinks to runners as they came through.  The runners were so generous and very appreciative.  This race does a great job with the amount of support for runners. 

umstead finish

Volunteering, I was given the unique opportunity of helping runners when they needed help the most.  As a runner, I cannot express how appreciative I am for volunteers.  At certain points in races a banana, a GU or a Gatorade can make or break our day.  I never realized how fulfilling it could be to be there for someone else.  Umstead is a long race.  with 1,000 feet of elevation gain per loop (8,000 feet total).  Runners have to complete eight, 12.5 mile loops.  There are two Aid Stations and two “water only” stops.  When runners got to our location, they needed support.  We did whatever we could to make them comfortable for their brief stay before they headed back on the trail. 

During the time I worked, I saw some runners at their worst, both mentally and physically.  Running 100 miles is a grueling feat.  I saw runners who were at their worst one moment make a decision; a decision that they had trained to hard and had come too far to give up.  I witnessed that same runner go back to battle the course.  They battled fatigue, adversity, ups and downs but in the end, the look on their faces when they crossed the finish line was priceless.  Upon finishing, most fell into the arms of loved one.  I witnessed one girl collapsed at the finish line.  She did not collapse out of pain.  She was weeping from joy.  I was so proud of a complete stranger that I could hardly control my own emotions.  Countless times I saw men and women finish who were then greeted by proud loved ones with a well-earned “you did it” or an “I’m so proud of you.” 

Likewise, there were others who walked up slowly and reported that they were withdrawing.  For those who could not complete the race, the pain and despair in their eyes made me sad for them.  They had given it their all, fought the good fight, but in the end just did not have it that day.  I was disappointed for them but equally as proud for the effort that they had shown throughout the day. 

A typical loop at Umstead takes most runners about 3 hours to complete.  In the later stages of the race, some take longer.  I observed one older man come into our station and tell us that the last loop had taken five hours.  He thought he had fallen asleep and sleep walked most of the loop.  One volunteer told me about a runner she had encountered on the way into the park.  She saw a runner standing alone on a desolate trail looking confused.  She stopped and asked the gentleman if he needed help.  Delirious he told her he was thinking about taking a nap in a ditch but could not decide what ditch he wanted to sleep in.  Luckily, the volunteer sought aid for him.  Then there was another guy who staggered into our station and I don’t think he even knew where he was.  He was at mile 87.  We made him go into headquarters and sit by the fire for a little bit.  He got himself together and later I saw that he had totally recuperated and managed a sub 24 hour finish. 

To me this race is obviously physically hard.  The mental toughness I observed was something I’ve never seen.  People were battling themselves and winning. 

Grace Lichtenstein states, “Your opponent, in the end, is never really the player on the other side of the net, or the swimmer in the next lane, or the team on the other side of the field, or even the bar you must high-jump. Your opponent is yourself, your negative internal voices, your level of determination.” 

paul umstead(Paul, ran 100 miles in one day, then took a nap, well done!)

It was such an honor to work alongside a great group of volunteers who were out there for one reason, to see runners succeed.  Overall, volunteering at Umstead taught me something invaluable; next year I want to be one of them.  I want to experience the feeling of crossing the finish line and being met by my loved ones.  I want to feel proud the way they felt.  I want to be embraced the way they were embraced.  What an awesome day it was.  I will always remember volunteering at Umstead.

Running Questions – How Do You Run Hills? – Marathon – Ultra Marathon – Racing

Since my post on Running Hills, I received numerous questions on the topic.  To answer the most popular question, I decide another hill post was warranted.

Running Questions – How Do You Run Hills?

If you run long enough, if you enter enough races sooner or later you will be forced to run hills.  Over the course of countless hours logging miles on the road and trails, I’ve seen my fair share of challenging inclines.  How you see the hill and how you adjust your running pace and stride determines (in my opinion) whether you’re successful or if the hills will get the better of you.  I have three keys when facing a challenging hill: I adjust my mental attitude, I concentrate on my form, and I shift down to a lower gear.

I adjust my mental attitude:  Over time I have learned that attacking the hill might sound good in the moment, but it often leaves your power reserves drained and the hill winning the battle.  Now when I know I’m approaching an incline my goal is to maintain an even pace and conserve my energy use while climbing.  The hill is no longer a place to try and pass another runner, make up ground or accelerate.  I’ve learned over the years that if I can keep a steady and even pace, I will by default (as other runners slow or blow up on the hill) make up ground on the field.  I mentally accept that a slow and steady pace is the equivalent of speeding up and in turn a win.

I concentrate on my form:  The incline of the rising terrain is enough of a challenge; I do not need my running form to fall apart to add to the extra burden.  As the road or trail in front of me begins to increase I concentrate on staying upright as I run with just a slight lean into the hill from the hips.  I have and many runners make the mistake of leaning too far forward and or hunching over into the hill.  Running up right and landing on my forefeet provides a healthy spring into the next stride and makes the most of the energy used to propel me forward.  I try to maintain a healthy arm swing and keep my head up, this maintains a powerful position as I make my way up the hill and to a faster finish.

I shift down to a lower gear:  The hill is a challenge, there is no way around it. Unless your an better than average runner, you (I) should not try to run at the same pace while climbing the rising slope.  Accepting that I can’t keep up the same pace, I also don’t want to slow down too much trying to maintain the same stride length.  Much the same way a diesel truck driver downshifts to keep his rig going up a long incline, I down shift into a shorter stride so that I can maintain a consistent leg turnover as I scale to the summit.  This shorter stride saves energy, keeps my legs in their power zone and maintains some pop in my legs all the way up the incline and into the down slope.

Running hills in training and on race day will make you a better runner and if done correctly will provide a better race day finish.  Having a plan to conquer the hill will likewise help you win the war against the inclined road or trail.  Adjust your mental attitude, concentrate on your form and shift down to a lower gear and you will find success on the hills.

Check out my other Running Questions posts on Hydration, and Staying Motivated.

Do you have a running question?  Shot me an email or leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to give you my thoughts.

Five Life Lessons – Running – Training – Racing – Ultra Marathon

Five life lessons that hold true for your running, training and racing.

1.  Don’t bite off more than you can chew – The current running boom has given birth to a large number of appealing races.  It’s easy to go from running your first 10k to signing up for a race of marathon distance or longer.  Every month brings a new issue of the latest running magazines filled with scores of glossy and flashy race ads.  With on-line registration it’s easy to commit to a race (and invest a good deal of money) before your body may be ready for the challenge.  To ensure success, build a solid base, train smart and be ready for that longer race.  Your body and wallet will thank you.

shalane

2.  You’re always a role model for someone – You may not think it.  You may not believe it, but someone is watching you. Someone desires that they could run as fast, as far or as often as you.  Embrace the impact you can have on someone else, we all can’t be Meb, Shalane, Kara, Dean, Anton, etc.  You need only to be “You” to encourage and inspire someone.

3.  Don’t cry over spilled milk – Did you miss a training run?  Did it rain so hard you had no choice but to cancel your long run.  Was the track closed for your last speed session?  You can’t change yesterday just like you can’t put the sand back on to the other side of an hour glass.  Accept that the day did not go as planned regroup and attack your run tomorrow. 

4.  Stop and smell the roses -  A personal record is nice.  An age group top three is wonderful.  Winning a race would be over the top, but don’t be so focused on your racing goals to miss the bald eagle that landed next to the trail.  The water fall you ran past at mile 12 or the family of deer that crossed the road at mile 22.  Running is about more than the time on the clock or your standings in a race.  Enjoy the world around you as you kick butt against the clock.

5.  Time heals all wounds…regardless of how you feel right now. – Did you have a crappy race?  You went out to fast and hit the wall.  Your planned finishing kick left you high and dry.  Take 24 hours, be angry, be upset and vow to come back faster and smarter, then put it behind you.

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Running is part of your life…for some a big part.  These five life lessons can help you in the real world and the world in which you run.

What are some of your life lessons that play equally well in your running life?

Guest Post, First Ultra Marathon by Jeff

I would like to introduce, Jeff S, @JSmerc26pt2 on Twitter.  Some how even though Jeff pulls for another football team, located 100 miles to the south east of the Great Cleveland Browns, we have become friends on SM.  Jeff is an accomplish marathoner with 31 finishes at the 26.2 mile distance.  Jeff recently he ran his first Ultra-marathon.  I asked Jeff to wear orange and brown during the race but he declined and instead took me up on my offer for him to share his feelings on his first 50k.

Ladies and Gentlemen…..Jeff’s thoughts on his first Ultra and the LT J.C. Stone 50k – March 21 2015

jeff50k

The LT. JC Stone 50K Ultra Marathon is a very well organized event that is held at beautiful North Park Lake in Allison Park, PA. The scenic course starts at the North Park Boat House with a short loop, then proceeds to complete six five-mile loops around the lake. I suppose the course could be considered by some to be a bit boring and mentally challenging due to its six consecutive loops, but it is also a strategically perfect event for a first-time Ultra runner. The looped course on rolling paved roads has two aid stations 2.5 miles apart.

50K Start 3

While some could consider this a boring course, there is no shortage of beautiful scenery and wildlife consisting of deer, bald eagle, herring, Canadian geese and other wildlife. The Race Director does a very good job organizing this small event and the volunteers and spectators who support the runners are very helpful and enthusiastic.

A nice perk to being a loop course, is that you can park your vehicle and setup your support camp right along the Start\Finish stretch and stop whenever you need for refueling, or change of shirt or whatever you need. My support crew of 10+ folks had a blast at this event. If you have a support crew, they are to pace you and provide support as long as one person does not pace the entire event.

jeff50kb(Jeff did spot some Orange)

I’m glad I chose this small, local 50K race for my first venture into the Ultra Marathon World. I was nervous and anxious leading up to the Ultra, so it was nice not having to worry about travel, hotel, meals and unfamiliar terrain. Because I train at this park every weekend, I’m very familiar with the course, and it felt like I had home-field advantage not having to worry about the unknown.

I’ve now completed 31 Marathons including four Goofy Challenges, two Dopey Challenges and one 50K Ultra Marathon. I cannot thank my support group of friends enough. They kept me going and on pace throughout the entire run in addition relaying on all the well wishes and encouragement from Twitter and Facebook friends!

I thoroughly enjoyed my first 50K, and my support team was the absolute BEST that day, not only providing support to me, but all athletes as they passed by my base camp. I’d like to say I’ll do another Ultra in the future, but I honestly don’t know if I will. This one provided perfect temperatures, terrain and organization, and my support crew couldn’t get any better. I feel like I should stop while on top of the world! I don’t think I can top this experience or feeling.

Finish Line 1

I had some follow on questions for Jeff:

How did you feel once reaching the 26.2 mile mark and still have 5 miles to run?   I felt pretty good. (My longest run ever was 27.1 miles) My Ultra strategy of a comfortable 10:15 run pace with a 45-60 second walk break each mile kept me feeling fresh and right around that 11min\mile goal I had in mind. I always had at least one or two members of my support crew with me to keep the mood light and conversation flowing.  I was tiring somewhat but the adrenaline and visions of the Finish Line celebrations in my head kept pushing me forward.

How did this compare to your marathons?  I’ve had good and bad marathon experiences.  I do not run well in warm and humid conditions and tend to break down from dehydration.  Because this race started in the 40′s and never got warmer than low 50′s and was overcast I was in HEAVEN!  My first Ultra experience was an all-round WIN-WIN for me!

Why did you decide to run a 50k?  I have some friends that are Ultra runners and they kept encouraging me to give a 50K a try. My dear friend and Ultra Coach Marie B. is an outstanding Ultra Marathoner.  She Coached, encouraged and kept pushing me telling me I was capable running an Ultra. She wrote her prediction on a piece of paper and came with two minutes thirty two seconds of my actual finish time.  She told me – “I know you Jeff, I know what you are capable of.”  This meant the world to me knowing she had such faith in me that I could achieve this goal.

What was the hardest part of the run?  Past the 27.1 mile mark – this was the furthest I’d ever run.  I took a deep breath, exhaled hard told myself I can do this and keep pushing forward.  I’m not gonna lie, the last three miles with the rolling hills were more challenging than they seemed earlier in the race.  I also encountered a very strong head wind the last four miles that made it feel as I was running on a treadmill going nowhere at times.

What advice would you give to someone considering running their first 50k?  I would tell them YOU CAN DO IT!  It’s only five additional miles from the Marathon.  Unless you are an exceptional or elite athlete, you must start slower than you normal marathon pace.  Conserve your energy early so you still have some in the reserve tank for those final five miles. I was told on my very first marathon – You don’t bank time, you bank energy!  This is very true!  What a great feeling to finish strong and still have energy in the tank and the legs still feel strong.  I would also tell them, do your research. Find a course that sounds doable to you. Is it a road or trail course?  What is the elevation like? Is it an out and back or a loop course?  Find something that sounds achievable to you. Set yourself up for success not failure!

I have several Ultra Friends, and they are a different breed of athlete. I’m not sure if I fit into that category, but at least for one day I can say I achieved the honor of finishing and becoming a member of the Ultra Marathon Club. I now can proudly say I am a Runner, Marathoner and Ultra Marathoner!

Capture

Great Race Jeff, Congrats and welcome to the club of special idiots who run longer then 26.2 miles……

Running Hills, Hill Repeats, Hill Climbs and Ultra Marathon Racing

We need them.  They make us stronger.  We build them into our training and we sometimes avoid them at all costs.  They fight us and sometimes they defeat us.  Hills love them or hate them they are out there.

Ask ten runners and you’ll get ten different opinions on whether or not they like hills.  Myself, I’m a fan on a few conditions:  I know they are coming, I have time to get my mind right and the hill is winnable (or at least I have a fair shot at it.)

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I know they are coming.  I actually enjoy races with hills.  I like the challenge.  I enjoy the test.  I live for the moment that I win the battle with the hill at mile 10, the middle of an Ultra-marathon, or the finishing push at the end of the Marine Corp Marathon.  I know the battle is in front of me and I am ready for the challenge.  Conversely, I loathe the hill that is not on the race map, not listed on the elevation profile or that is right in the middle of a course that the Race Director claimed to be a “flat and fast.”  I love the hill I know is coming…but I hate the hill and the race with the secret.

I have time to get my mind right.  I love the challenge I know is in front of me.  I love getting my mind ready for the fight.  Just like a boxer who uses his entrance into the ring to fire him up for the oncoming battle, if I know a hill is coming I get up for the battle.  During the miles preceding the hill I tell myself I am hill monster, a hill destroyer, I reason my legs are hydraulic pistons ready to pound the hill into defeat.  All this self-talk ensures I’m ready to meet the challenge.  I hate the hill that pops up, catches me flat footed and mentally unprepared for battle.  I go into this hill feeling unprepared, not ready and behind the moment.

The hill is winnable:  I enjoy a good test of my abilities.  I don’t mind being stretched, but I want to know I have a reasonable shot at winning.  I’m not saying I want the challenge to be a push over, but I also don’t want to fight Mike Tyson in his prime.  No matter how well prepared I could be we all know the outcome.  Mike is going to beat me up and maybe eat my ear.  I want to fight the mountain, hill or raising terrain, but I also want to be aware that I can win…or at least have a shot at winning.

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Running hills has made me feel more confident about my running.  Battling a hill has made me feel strong.  Likewise, at times running hills has left me in despair.  If I know the hill is coming, if I have a chance to get my mind right and the hill is winnable I love to run, train, race, and defeat the hills on any course.

Do you love or hate hills….let us know.