Running – 18,000 miles – marathon – ultra marathon – long run

18,000 miles I’ve run since I started this crazy journey on the 2nd of August 2000.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have guess that through some high times, some lows, some injuries and some challenges I would still be running 17+ years later.

18000

Running and a fitness life style have added so much to my life.  Over those 17 years I’ve logged a lot of miles…and became a better person.

18 Lessons Running Has Taught Me

1.  Time away from a problem makes it much easier to solve…and running gives you that time and creative energy to see the solution.

2.   Running helps to make a bad meal, or snack not so bad.  I’ve also learned that unfortunately you can’t outrun a bad diet.

3.  I’ve met a lot of good great people (friends) running.

4.  My health has improved beyond measure.

2016GrandCanyonR3NorthRim(On the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, May 2016)

5.  I seen things/places I would have never experienced without the run.

6.  I’ve reinvented who I thought I was.

7.  Life is sweeter while on the run.

published2(The second of two articles I’ve had published)

8.  I’ve found my creative voice from running, I’ve found I can tell a story about my run.

9.  Miles are more than a measurement of distance.

10.  To stop and smell the roses.

11.  Sometimes its fun to be lost.

Umstead-buckle(Sub 24 Hour Buckle From Umstead 100, 2014)

12.  I can do more than I ever thought.

13.  A mile is a really long way.

14.  A mile is nothing at all.

15.  When someone yells “BEAR” in the middle of the night, you’ll run faster….it does not matter if you ran 80+ miles before hand.

16.  I can completely change my clothes in my car without flashing anyone.

17.   80% of the people do not return a friendly wave while running.

18.  When I look for a reason to NOT run, I normally find more reasons that I should.

AND Finally…

gy100picturedunes1(I Ran 102.5 Miles Down the Outer banks of North Carolina)

I may never win a race, or place in my age group, but I can do epic, I can run epic and my life will be epic. ~ Brian

P.s. thanks for reading my blog, here’s to the thousands of miles in front of us.

P.s.s My thoughts when I ran my 15,000th mile.

Running 100 – Umstead 100 – Oops I Did It Again

Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeahYeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
I think I did it again…
f0385f8c1d082224987039496366cbad-900x900x1
Just Like Britney,  YES I DID…I DID IT AGAIN
I’m an official 2017 Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Race Entrant.
umstead2017aa
Umstead was my first 100 mile race, when I ran it in 2014.  You can read my race report here, I documented my race, the training and the support required to run 100 miles.
Let the training begin…

Running – What Are You Thinking About?

For all the miles, for all the time we spend on our feet. For all the running we do over different terrains, different distances and for our different training objectives. Turns out most runners are thinking about the same things. That is according to a study in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

Those thoughts could be grouped into three categories:

Pace and Distance
Pain and Discomfort
Environment

This study got me thinking about all the things I think about while running.  I was onced asked, what do you think about during a long run, my answer….everything and nothing at all, and with much skill I master those complex trains of thought all at once.

Ten things I think about during my long runs.

11813341_10153598437366458_5794626971266741540_n

1. Oh, this first mile sucks…

2.  I hope that dog does not eat me, followed by I hope that girl, guy, old person, young person, middle aged person, monster truck driver notices me while texting/talking on their phone.

3.  What a beautiful sunset/sunrise.

4. My pace, am I running to fast for my long run or am I running to slow for my short run.  It’s a paradox.

christie-brinkley

5. Sex…okay I’m a guy.

6.  I hope that hill ends soon, followed by, I need to run more hills….I Love hills!

7.  Is that a blister forming or is that muscle twinge an injury coming on?

8.  I wonder what it’s like to sleep in…

Cleveland Browns v Tennessee Titans

9.  Will the Cleveland Browns ever turn it around?

and

10.  Quiet time with God.  (not really in scope with #5 but then again, I’m a guy.)

So what do you think about on that long and sometimes lonely open road?

 

 

Runner – Anton vs. Me

Anton vs. Me

antonvsme

A Facebook friend posted this picture of super star runner  Anton Krupicka.  Anton is an American Ultra-runner.  Anton has won the Leadville 100 twice, the Miwok 100, the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler, the Collegiate Peaks 50 miler, the White River 50 miler twice, the High Mountain 50k and the Estes Park Marathon.  He also came in second in the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run in 2010 in what would have been a course record time of 15:13:53.

Anton is a “Rock Star” in the Ultra-world…many including my friend think he is just dreamy.  I have to admit he does have that special “look.”  But then I thought…so do I, right?

1.  Ultra hair…Anton has thick, long and wavy hair.  Mines thick….

2. Ultra beard…With years of growth ahead of me, Anton’s beard is the envy of many.  I’ll get there unless my wife tells me she has had enough of it.

3.  Massive ultra lungs…sure Anton runs at elevation…but has he run in 106f heat index on a hot and humid North Carolina night?

4. Ultra-waist line…Being a vegan it would be easy to have a trim waist, try that eating pizza, cookies and mint chocolate chip ice cream.

5.  Short ultra shorts…I think we have a push here, we both pull off the short shorts look.

6.  Powerful mountain climbing quads…okay I concede this one.

7.  Runner’s calfs, not sure about Anton but I can’t wear skinny jeans (boot cut are hard to get on) because I can’t get the narrow cut ankles over my calves.

8. Sense of style, I’ve never been accused of leading edge style, Anton sets the style in the ultra-world…but these socks?

9. Ultra Resume, as noted above Anton has won many 100 miles races.  Myself I’ve finished second twice, once in a USAF 5k while holding off a young butter bar LT 20 years younger than me.  I also won my age group at a North Carolina small town 5k and kept up with the local 16 year old high school track star to place second, again.

All joking aside, don’t compare yourself with other runners.  You are the best example of you that you can be.  If you want to be faster…train harder, suffer more, run longer…but don’t compare your efforts or results to others.  Compare your race times against the you that you want to be.

It has been proven over time that people live up to the expectations they set for themselves….set those high.

I Am A Runner – Why I Run

Why do I run?  There are a lot of reasons. I run because, I enjoy it.  It’s fun.  I run to see new places in a different and exciting way.  I run to enjoy the company of other runners.  I run to experience the beauty of nature, a gift which God has given us.  I run , to be alone, and to be in good company.  I run to challenge myself and to compete with others.  I run to feel young and to learn from years of wisdom.

The reasons are endless.

On one of the many cross country flights I’ve taken, I was seated next to a young girl (she was maybe in her mid 20s) who was overweight.   When she took the seat, the middle seat, next to me “she” apologized for being so large and that she would be most likely taking up some of my space.  I smiled, said hello and told her it was okay.  She then asked the flight crew for an extension for her seat belt.  As she attempted to buckle it out of the blue she opened up to me about her struggles with “being large” and all the things in life she could not do.

She could not go on amusement rides, ride a horse, go for long walks, feel good in a crowd, walk up stairs, go hiking, and wear cute outfits.  What caught my attention during this list of things she could not do was that she said she could not run.  I could feel the the hurt and saddens in her voice.   I smiled and said that I was sorry.  I almost mistakenly told her that I understood, but how could I?  I told her that I did not judge her and that we all have our battles in life and to keep on fighting.  Honestly, I wasn’t really sure what to say.

We made small talk for the rest of the flight and I assured her that I did not mind sitting next to her.  I shared some of my “military adventures” and parts of the world I had seen.  The flight of over five hours, which started off with an uncomfortable conversation ended rather quickly.  At the end of the flight we said goodbye.  Needing to get to a connecting flight I quickly gathered my things and got on my way.  Before exiting the plane I looked back in the direction of my previous seat assignment.  The girl was struggling to make her way between the rows of seats as she moved towards the exit.  She noticed I had looked back for her and smiled.  I smiled back and gave her a quick nod.  Then I turned and made my way out of the aircraft, down the flight ramp, into the airport and on to my next flight.

During my runs I often wonder how her life is going and is she still struggling?  I often wonder why?

11813341_10153598437366458_5794626971266741540_n(Running the March 50K, 2015)

I run to have a body which does not limit the things I can do in life.

 

 

Ultra Marathon Runner – My Bad Habits

Running blog post after blog post trumpets the virtues of running.  Some run bloggers post about their perfect training plan, routine and or running program. Myself I’ve posted many times on how you can run better, but let’s be honest.  Let’s be clear.  Let’s be open and transparent.  None of us are perfect.

My Bad “Running” Habits

I do not stretch - Not before, Not after and not during.  Maybe on the starting line or a race I might take a few seconds to stretch out my quads and or hamstrings.  I might take a few moments to warm up my achilles tendons but for the most part I do not stretch.

pixxa2

My diet leaves a lot to be desired - I’ve gotten better over the years.  I’ve tried really hard lately.  I know I need to improve but the number of slices of pizza I eat out numbers the veggies.

I still have a bad Dew habit - I had a period of success, but I’m back to drinking Diet Dew more than I should.

I hate to throw out running gear - I’ve got some shirts and shorts that are over 10 years old and I refuse to throw them out.  They may be too big, the cords (in the shorts) and elastic is gone but I still keep them and yes wear them once in awhile.

13119962_10209293162754954_3322676477634451765_o

I like black -  On 99.999% of my outings I wear black shorts, black compression shorts, black leggings or black pants.  I feel a lot of pressure to make sure my bright colored running shirts match my shorts.  It used to cause me a lot of stress until I figured out everything goes with black.

I have a sock problem - I believe new sock day should be a national holiday.  Nearly every time we go shopping in person or online I can be found checking out the newest high tech socks.  The right socks can make the man or the run.

GEORGE-HAMILTON

I don’t wear sun block - No I’m not George Hamilton or the new Crispy and creepy Colonel Sanders…I’m just dumb.

Running is about getting better, it’s about improving….so I’ll continue to run and try to improve on my bad habits.  Until then…anyone up for some sun bathing and pizza?

What are your bad running habits?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultra Marathon – Medoc Meltdown 50k 2016

I thought I was more BadA$$ than that.

13900072_1298080476869772_8235949979389878068_n(Before it got ugly)

The morning, and days after make it no easier.

-  I melted on lap 3 and could not go out for the 4th lap.

-  My running partner for the day Woody won the event.

- Another running friend, Becca, won overall female and THE ONLY female to finish.

- 10 runners finished the 50k “plus” (34.4 miles).

I’ve got to be honest, I view myself as member of the group of runners who does not give up, who fights to the end.  So what went wrong (again)?  I overlook my DNF at the Boogie 50 miler in June because I simply did not want to be there.  But with Medoc I wanted to be in that race…I wanted to do well.  I wanted to be running no matter the conditions.

It was in the middle of the 3rd lap that I began to fall apart.  The course, a single track trail with many rolling hills, rocks, roots, bridges and a number of good climbs consisted on two sections an 5+ mile loop and a 3 mile loop.  The two sections of the course had you running a figure eight, with an aide station at the transition point.

This race was hot and muggy from the first steps that we took at 0800 local time.  Local weather had temperatures in the mid 90s with a heat index hovering between 105 to 112 fahrenheit.

13903418_10153784962980869_1553787256831586802_n(Lap 1, I still had my GoPro)

Woody and I ran together from the starter’s gun.  We had ran a solid pace and were making good time through the first two laps.  During our third lap we had settled into a consistent run/walk routine, walking the uphills/the stair climbs and running the flats and downhills.  Over the course of the day we had slowed but even in the midday furnace and muggy confines of MEDOC Mountain we were still progressing at a good clip.  Making our way past the transition point on lap 1 and 2, I was able to refresh, rehydrate and get cooled off some.  This mid course pitstop gave me the juice and vigor to continue.  On lap 3 the midpoint oasis offered no such relief.  I left there feeling worse, depleted and flat.

Every climb after this point taxed me more than the previous two laps. I knew I was in trouble when I began to get dizzy after every run section.  As much as I wanted to stay glued to Woody’s hip, it was a struggle to get in the final miles to finish the third lap.

13921101_1298344093510077_856199800322259064_n(I look better than I felt)

When I got back to the start/finish line, after crossing a short section of black top I felt very hot.  After signing the logbook with my time I was nearly out of it and only wanted to cool off and get out of the heat.  Even as I dumped cold water and ice on my head I felt like my body temperature was climbing and my breathing was very labored.

Although I heard one of our awesome Race Directors telling us that we were the top two runners I just could not answer the bell for the final lap.

The 2016 edition of the MEDOC Meltdown was over for me.  As I watched Woody go off on lap 4 I hurt inside and for a second thought about joining him, but by this time I had chugged down so much liquids trying to cool off that I had lost my stomach.  I was resigned to sit on the end of a bench as a mixture of sweat, water and hope dripped off of me soaking a 3 foot diameter circle on the concrete below my feet.

13902548_10153780825150869_3369914905696840525_n(The final Standing to the 2016 edition, of the Meltdown)

This Ultra Stuff is hard, it’s humbling and no matter your status, your conditioning or your dreams…each race, and each outing is a new set of challenges.  You either rise up to meet them or you melt under their pressure.

Videos coming soon…

 

 

Race Day Faces – Marathon and Ultra Marathon Racing

The race director stood high upon an elevated platform.  With a oversized U.S.A. flag draped across the starting line he held a microphone in his left hand and at the correct moment in time he drew it near to his lips.  After a brief pause he glanced at his watch and with a crackling voice the director announced that we were 60 seconds from the start of the race.

10341585_984137051669840_4619930211726568863_n

With that announcement I thought about all the hard work, all the lonely hours and all the long miles that got the collective group of runners that surrounded me to this very place.  I also thought about the commitment it took to be standing there.  Although this was not my first marathon.  I had run many marathons before, each one is unique and each offers it own set of challenges.  I also spent some of these last moments looking around at the faces in the crowd around me who were facing the test of running 26.2 miles.

A younger girl, at least younger than I am, is standing three paces to my right.  Her shiny red hair is pulled back in a long intricately weaved pony tail tucked under and flowing out the back of a red and blue ball cap.  Her pale skin, freckles  and dark blue eyes highlight her confident looks.  Noticing her eyes, a cold steel stare is focused straight into the crowd ahead of her.  A determined look beams with security and confidence.  Instantly I get the feeling she is not only up to the challenge in front of us but she is focused on pushing towards some lofty goal.  Any tension that this girl maybe feeling is only apparent in her thin lips being firmly pressed together.  Standing silently her forward stare is only broken long enough to manipulate the buttons on a large faced GPS watch strapped around her left wrist.  Any signs of nervousness are lost with the exception of the pace at which she actively presses the buttons on this high tech tracking and timing device.  I can tell she is intent on ensuring the settings are dialed in to monitor her performance.  With this small task complete she retreats back into a zone of isolation.  Lost in her own little marathon day bubble I notice she has not engaged in any small talk.  With the crowd now pressing in around us, she is lost to the happenings outside of her own temporary world.  I paused to think was this girl trying to settle a score, trying to qualify for Boston or set a new personal record?  Standing next to her was someone who may be on the opposite end of the marathon spectrum.

Boston Marathon(Each crowd has a number of stories within)

Stationed to the left and a few feet forward of me was a man with close cut salt and pepper hair, a goatee with two silver patches on each side of a square chin.  His round face with eyes that appeared to be in a natural squint instantly drew my attention.  His eyes wore a look of concern, worry and apprehension.  With tan and weathered skin this gentlemen I estimated to be in his mid to late 50s appeared to spend many hours outdoors.  His nervousness was evident in that his eyes gazed from one focal point to another in rapid succession.  These deep brown eyes darted around catching quick glimpses of the crowd of runners standing near him.  These eyes which I assumed had witnessed years of worldly experience today appeared wide open, fresh and new.  They worked in rapid order to take in all that was going on around them.  On his face I mostly saw apprehension.  When not taking in all the excitement of race morning I noticed he nervously made conversations with those around him.  He seemed to gain some confidence, some relaxation with each discussion.  When not engaged in pre-race dialog he kept up a constant routine of checking the fit of his running gear.  Once satisfied, at least for the moment, he looked back and forth at the crowd only to return to fidgeting with his gear and making small talk with those near to him.   I wondered was this his first race of 26.2 miles or was he coming back from some injury?  In front of him a few paces ahead was a runner older than the majority of us in the vicinity.

He stood amongst a group of runners who took turns talking, shaking hands, high fiving and living in the pre marathon moment.  I guessed this man is an elder statesmen’s of the local running community.  Each of his tidy silver hairs were neatly combed back and perfectly placed in the cut of his mature mane.  Confidence poured from this man.  Every move he made seemed well rehearsed and carefully thought out.  His eyes were bright, clear and happy.  His face was lined with age and highlighted with high cheekbones.  Today those lines of experience shown a heart that was content with life and his place in it.  His bright inviting smile welcomed conversations with anyone looking his way.  I could not make out the words he expressed but by the smiles and laughter that came from those he chatted with I could tell the interactions were positive and uplifting.  Was this man here to run this marathon for himself or to support a friend, make a statement or was this his last go around the marathon block.

I stood alone taking in the wonder of those around me.  I hoped my face gave off the feelings of the day.  A day open to new challenges, new goals, new excitement and new progress.  I hope in my eyes was confidence and wonder of the 26.2 miles that lay before me.  I hoped my expression uplifted those with whom I stood among his quiet cool morning.  Mostly I hoped that my expressions helped someone reach their goal for the race.

finish(My Marathon and 100 miles of success came
with confidence in myself and those around me)

Words can and do inspire.  Yet sometimes the ability to face a daunting task can be acquired by simply seeing confidence in those around us.

Running – How Long Will You Run – Ultra Marathon Life

At work much like the scene out of Forrest Gump I was asked an innocent question.

Forrest-Gump

How long will you run these long distances, these ultra marathon races? 

My first response was simple…”As long as I can.”  Then I paused to think about my reply.  After a few moments of reflection I restated my answer.

I’ll continue to run….

As Long As I Have The Desire and Ability - The desire to run long distance might just be the most important element that keeps me heading out the door.  Without desire it’s hard to run any distance, let alone marathon (26.2 miles) or ultra marathon (longer than 26.2 mile) distances.  I truly have a desire in my soul to run (pause for effect), run really long distances/races.  When the desire departs, I’ll find something else to do.

There will come a day when my old bones, tendons, muscles and cartilage will tell me its time to hang up the running shoes.  Right up to that time I’ll keep on running.  Say what you will but I have seen no ill effects from the nearly 17 years I’ve been running.  Until the body gives out…

It might come down to a scene like the one played out in Dances with Wolves, where Dunbar and Timmons come across an old wagon and a set of bones.  The only difference may be in the dialogue.

daneswithwolves

To quote Timmons’: “Someone back East wonders why don’t he finish this Ultra.” 

Until then, until Timmons and I meet up, I’ll keep on running.

As long As I feel Like I’m Adding Value - I understand in the context of the Running World I’m no one.  I do average around 2,000 viewers of my blog per day, I’ve been published a few times, I have a small following on the social media platforms and every once in a while I get recognized at a local race.  BUT, I’ll keep running as long as I get that one tweet, that one e-mail, that one handshake that tells me I some how helped someone, get off the couch, log that extra mile and reach that goal.

As Long As The Epic is Still Out There - So much of life is normal, easy and safe.  Running has added EPIC and as long as it is out there I’ll run to find it.

Until I Think It’s Crazy - This might be the most vain reason.  I’ve worked hard to get to this “status,” maybe that is not the right word.  I’ve put in a lot of time to get to a point that I can talk with confidence about running 100 mile races, where finishing a marathon is not a question mark.  I train to get faster at distances most people think are crazy…and I’m not ready to give that up.  I’ll run until I think it’s crazy too.

So how long will you continue to run?

 

MEDOC Meltdown 50kish – Ultra Marathon 2013

Medoc Meltdown 50k (plus), The Race Report – 2013

Update:  The Meltdown took a pause for a few years, but it’s back in 2016…and I’ll be there again. 

medoc logo(Checkout the Facebook page for this event)

Organizer Frank L. advertised this event as a Fat A_ _ Running Event, meaning it was not “a race.” There was no entry fee, no awards (but a cool finishers rock), no whining and no aid would be provided (yea right, those Popsicles were awesome).  The Meltdown was an opportunity to run with old and new friends (plus plenty of NC horse flies!) and enjoy the hot and steamy beauty of an NC state park in August.

Going into this event, as a Meltdown rookie, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into.  From all the Facebook posts I could tell that this was going to be a tough run and a chance to hang with the Ultra crowd.  I knew it was going to be hot/humid and I knew I would have to provide for my own support.  But I had no idea how tough the Medoc Mountain State Park course was going to be.

Do you like hills, Medoc has them:

medoc hills

(One of the Medoc Climbs…are we there yet?)


Do you like roots, Medoc has them:

Medoc Roots

(Medoc Roots…my ankles loved these)


Do you like rocks, Medoc has them:

Medoc Rocks

(Rocks are one thing, ROCKS going up hill…come on Medoc)


Do you like stairs, Medoc has them:

Medoc Stairs

(The World Famous Medoc Stairway To…more pain)


The course at Medoc was a little over 8.6 miles in length.  The 50K event (4 laps) would have you completing nearly 35 miles in the heat and humidity of North Carolina.  The conditions of the trail and the temperatures made this the toughest trail race I have run.  Being a rookie I never had a good feel of what Medoc challenge was coming up next, so I never knew when to push it or when to conserve. 

Medoc and me

(One of the many Medoc Challenges) 


But I’ll tell ya four laps of this place was all I wanted.  Out of 77 starters I placed 7th with a time of 8 hours and 30 minutes.  That time is slow compared to my previous 50k PR but knowing the trails I ran over….I’m very happy with my performance.

But the best part of the day was the people.  The Medoc crowd and it’s organizers Frank and Cameron were GREAT.  I was blessed to run with some super people, Paul S, Amanda M, Jon H, and Veronica J.  You guys made the day…you kept me going when I needed a push and I hope I made your run a success.  Running is about more than the miles, the trails or the conditions….it is about the people!

If you like cool race bling, Medoc has that too:

Medoc Rock
At one point I told myself this may just be a “One and Done” event for me….now I’m wondering when next year’s Meltdown will be.