Running My 7th Virginia 24 Hour Ultra Marathon

My first Ultra Marathon was the 2009 Virginia 24 Hour Run For Cancer.  Little did I know seven years later this event would become a staple of my running calendar.

24hourrun history

(7 years of running, 34.25 miles to my 500 mile jacket)

When I first entered this race in 2009 I had three full marathons under my belt but had no idea of what I had gotten myself into.  I also had no idea how to go about running an ultra.  Likewise, I knew very few local runners and mostly considered myself a lone wolf runner.  Seven years later and I don’t want to say I’m an expert, but I’ve learned a lot about ultra running along the way.  I’ve also met hundreds of great people in the running community and have had the pleasure and honor to be the captain of Team Run4Life for four years.

2016teamrun4lifeA(2016 Edition of Run4Life,
Andrea, Jessica, Genno, Paul, Ally
Me, Steve J, Steve D, Steve S, Hank, David, Shannon)

The 2016 edition of this race would be the first time I would go into the day not focused on my running plan and or big mileage numbers I set for myself.  12 days after this race I will be headed west to the Grand Canyon to run Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim.

The tentative goals for my seventh running of this event would be to run the opening 20 miles as a long training run.  So focused on “ultra training” It had been a while since my last “marathon pace” 20 miler.  I wanted to see where I stood in respect to being in “marathon shape.”  After a slower first lap with the congestion of the 24 hour start I hit the 20 mile mark at 3 hours and 12 minutes into the day.  My time was not as fast as I wanted but this gave me a starting point for my marathon training.  The second goal for the day was to run a minimum of 50 miles.  With the R2R2R adventure hanging off in the distance I did not want to put up big numbers and compromise my legs.  I ended the day with 59.5 miles after pacing Paul and Genno for their last laps.  3rd and most importantly I wanted to get  through this event without getting injured or blistered.  On a near perfect day I accomplished all three goals, now on to Grand Canyon and our R2R2R outing.

2016VA24hourrun(Paul and I early on)

BONUS:  Without the pressure of my own plan hanging over my head I was able to chill out enjoying time around the camp and running with my team members throughout the day.  That time with these inspiring people was invaluable.

2016run4lifegroupa(Myself, Hank, Andrea, David and Steve)

We will find out over the next few days how our team “Run4Life” did in the team total miles competition.  Our team has won two out of the last three years, in 2013 and 2015 with a course record of 834 miles.  A 3rd win would be over the top, my unofficial mileage estimation is 914 miles.  That would be a new course/event record.

201624hourrunpacers(Eric, Myself, Andrea and Joshua)

A Big Thank You goes out to Eric, Jennifer, Joshua, Charles and Kimmy who selfishly gave of their time to help us around camp, run errands, pace runners during the day/night and feed us!

201624hourruncamp(Run4Life Base Camp)

Team Totals: (unofficial)
Steve S 135 miles, Race Champion
Genno 92 miles 3rd overall female
Paul 89.75
Andrea 84.5
Shannon 78.75, a new distance PR
Ally 78.75, new distance PR
David 75
Hank 60
Steve J 60
Brian (Me) 59.50
Jessica 50
Steve D 50, Thanks for stepping in at the last minute!
Team Run4Life = 914.25 miles 

2016 Photo cache
Read about the Super Seniors who ran this race in 2016
2015 Race Report
2014 Race Report
2009 Race Report

Running – Ultra Marathon – And Super Seniors

Every runner has a story.

Some run to fight depression, some run to battle weight issues, some run to forget and some run to honor those they lost.

Likewise, every race has a bigger calling, to honor our heroes, to set the ultimate challenge and to raise money to fight an evil illness.

Super seniors headline the Virginia 24-Hour Run/Walk for Cancer


Robert White served in the 17th Airborne during World War II, has run nine marathons and jogged a 5K in Hampton earlier this month. In short, this 92-year-old marvel is accustomed to pushing himself.

Saturday, and perhaps Sunday, White embraces another challenge as he joins other “super seniors” in the 13th annual Virginia 24-Hour Run/Walk for Cancer at Hampton’s Sandy Bottom Nature Park. Read about his and other super seniors here.

Ultra Marathon – Running The Grand Canyon Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim, R2R2R or R3

Ever since I announced to my wife, family, friends and the world that I wanted to run the Grand Canyon, Rim (South Kaibab Trail) to Rim (North Kaibab Trail) to Rim (Bright Angel Trail) in one day, I’ve been asked why.  Why would I want to take on such a challenging run, that isn’t even an official race.


I never really had a good answer, at least not a single answer.  As this day approaches I’ve tried to explain the calling the Grand Canyon has had on my running dreams. 16 days until I run the Grand Canyon and 20 reasons why. 1 – 8.  Coming soon


9.  There’s only two hills…

10.  The idea of running something that has remained mostly unchanged for 1,000s of years.

12.  For the challenge, half and full marathons are are hard, 24 hour and 100 mile races are down right tough….but Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim may be life changing.  What else can equal that?

13.  Life is short and now is the time.


14.  To see and be surrounded by natures color palette.

15.  I grew up in Erie, Pa most of my early adult life, but for one summer there was a thought that we might one day move to Arizona.  I remember looking at a map of the state, seeing the canyon outline and thinking, wow wouldn’t it be cool to live there.

16.  During my first trip to the canyon over 20 years ago I stood on the edge wondering what it must be like to venture into the canyon and stand at the edge of the Colorado river and stare at the people on the canyon’s rim.

south kaibab 17.  To see the Colorado river. 18.  The challenge is had to match, near 48 miles with over 20,000 feet of elevation change. 19.  It’s the GRAND CANYON. 20.  I’ve often wondered what it must have been like for the first person who while out collecting water, hunting or trying to find a new western passage, stumbled across this natural wonder.  I hope to capture some of that wonder, some of that initial excitement when I take my first strides down the South Kaibab trail headed North.

Running – Racing And The Marathon, How Do You Select A Race?

Whether you run local 5 and 10ks, half marathons, full marathon or ultra distance races selecting a race to run can be an arduous process.  There are many things to consider.  On the line are long hours in training, miles on the body and the time away from family, and friends.  Not to mention the money spent on registration fees, travel and  accommodations.  This investment can be money well spent or wasted depending on the outcome.  Selecting a race is a major decision point on to not take lightly.

With all of that added pressure resting on your shoulders (and on your feet) is your race selection normally based on the length of the race, the location, on performance indications or on the swag and bling available for finishing? 

bling(I love the bling) 

I get asked this question often via e-mail or in person, how do I go about picking a race?  Although my selection of a race is never the same, sometime I’ll run a certain race because friends recommend it, it’s a local favorite or I just want to hang out with a group of cool people.  Although I’m selecting a race to run for training or race purposes it comes down to…

Mostly distance.  I pick most of my races based on the distance I need as part of my Marathon/Ultra training plan.  I normally select a few target aka “goal” races during the year, then the rest of my racing calendar is based around races that will support these “goal” races. The trend lately has seen most of my target races being marathon and longer in turn the “support” races have been half marathon or longer in length.

On Location:  I’m not an elite athlete , not independently wealthy and not sponsored by a national shoe company.  Selecting a race destination with its associated travel costs, time and the number of vacation days needed are major factors for me.  Most of my races tend to be local events while my destination races (a night away from home) are run in combination with a long weekend or previously planned vacation.  Reviewing my race travels for last year (2015) I ran 11 races with five being in combination with a night out of town.

On performance:  In years past, 2013 in particular my eyes were squarely on running my first sub-four hour marathon.  I selected both Cleveland (failed attempt) and Niagara Falls (successful 3:56) with the hopes of providing a flat and fast track.  Other years I’ve selected races as a train up for a longer distance  an example being my first 100 mile run at Umstead in 2014, I ran the Graveyard 100k as a train up run.   Counter to this I have yet to avoid a race based on the performance.  I’ve gone into a few races knowing it was going to be a slow tough event for me.  In 2013 I ran races an example being the Medoc Mountain Meltdown, a FA event of the 50k+ length, that I knew would kick my butt.  Here performance wasn’t the end result hanging out with running friends was the goal.

For the bling/swag:  Yes I’m a sucker for big and shinny race medals.  I love the free goodies and event shirts that most large scale races offer.  In reality I do not pay much attention to the bling or event goodies when I select a race.  I love finding out what the medal looks like and I like a lot of chrome and shiny stuff, but I do not select a race based solely on the bling/swag. The swag at the expo and the finishing bling is a bonus.

With so many great races on the calendar, the selection is getting harder and harder to make. How do you go about selecting a race?

Boston Marathon – And The Squirrel Runner

I never give “running” the Boston Marathon much thought, except on Patriots day every April.  Then I wonder if I could post a Boston Qualifying (BQ) time.  I’m not against charity runners getting into the Boston Marathon, but If I ever “run” Boston it will have to be by posting a qualifying time.  Because simply, that is what “running” Boston means to me.

To be honest, I don’t think I have what it takes to BQ.

I believe I have the legs to BQ.

I believe I have the lungs to BQ and I Believe I have the mental toughness to run a qualifying time.

But I’m to much of a squirrel runner to stay focus long enough to train for my BQ race.  Plain and simple I get distracted too easy.


Did I mention I wanted to be Bruce Lee when I was growing up, I just loved him in “Enter The Dragon.” My favorite scene was when he was fighting in a room filled with mirrors. I wonder if Bruce Lee could post BQ time.

My goals in running are to run for as long as I can. To experience as many running environments as I can well adding to my life’s journey.  I enjoy running local 5k races and national 100 miles events.  I want to run it all.  I just don’t have the make up to sacrifices a number of running experiences and all they add to my life for one qualifying time.  Now I’m not saying a BQ time is not a worthy goal…it is and I respect those that have the focus to train for and achieve such a goal.  Myself I can’t stay focused on one race.



One day after school a friend and I got into a bottle rocket war.  Man those things were zipping by my head, dang that was stupid, I could have lost an eye. Then I could have been a pirate. I lived on a lake so being a pirate…..what?

Priate, what were we talking about?

My hat goes off to all those who have reached their goal, whether it was your first Boston Marathon or your tenth.  You have reached a goal few have.  For those who seek other running goals away from Boston, my hat goes off to you as well.  One of the best attributes of our hobby/life style is that their is room for everyone.


Speaking of hats…this cat broke into my house once. He was crazy and was wearing a red and white striped top hat…….

Umstead 100 – Andrea’s 100 Mile Run – If It Was Easy

Andrea is one of my good running friends, she joined my 24 hour team three years ago when she was not sure the ultra world was for her.  In the three years since I’ve been witness to her becoming an “Ultra- Runner and a 100 Mile Finisher.”

andrea100f(Andrea’s post just prior to the big day)

Andrea signed up to run the 2016 edition of the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance race, and I paced her for the last 50 miles of her 100 mile journey.  During that long night I got to wonder who is the more talented, the more relentless, the toughest runner.  The record holders, the runners who qualify for the Olympics, the World Champions runners or the amatuer runners who put it all on the line for the only the love of the sport.

I’m not discounting the effort or dedication of these world class athletes but for my money the amateur athlete who has no chance to win the race but continues to grind may be the toughest of the bunch.

In 2003 when Paula Radcliffe was running for Olympic gold in Athens and things went wrong, when there was no longer a chance to win the race she pulled over to the side of the road and called it a day.

When I ran Umstead in 2015, a world class runner came to North Carolina hoping to win the race and set a new course record.  When things went wrong, when the day turned against him he dropped out of the race.

andrea100a(Andrea, Me and Wendy)

Andrea’s Umstead run was going great when I joined up with her and fellow friend Wendy at the 50 mile mark. The three of us ran two laps together (25 miles) and everything was going as planned.  Then some point after the 75th mile Andrea’s body began to turn on her.  Battling an upset stomach, nausea, and retaining water that made her hands and arms swell to the point of pain and discomfort Andrea did what only a handful of people choose to do.  She pressed forward. The miles leading up to 100 I suspect were the hardest miles of her life. In a battle with herself and the miles yet to travel Andre did not pull over to the side of the trail to give up, she went to work.

Andre did not quit when her stomach turned on her.

When nausea had her making unplanned and rapid trips into the woods Andrea never entertained giving in.

Andrea did not give up when her normally light and easy stride turn into a painful, and labor effort.

In the 16 hours I spent with her I never once heard her once mention anything but finishing what she started.

When we made the turn for the finish, when we were 100 yards from the finish line, I told Andrea how proud I was of her, “this is easy when everything goes right, when everything goes as planned, You girl did it when everything worked against you, YOU fought and are going to be a 100 MILER FINISHER and I’m so proud of you.”

andrea100c(In the moments of Victory)

My voice cracked and Andrea eyes teared up but she lower her eyes back to the trail and went back to work.  Even in victory she battled to cross that finish line.


In 27 Hours, 12 minutes and 43 seconds, Andrea began an 100 Mile Runner.

andra100d(Buckle Up….)

She is one tough runner….


10k Twitter Followers – Runner – Marathoner – Ultra Run – Long Run

When I started this blog and my social media accounts…..I had no idea 10,000 people would decide I had something interesting to say.


I have been inspired, motivated, and encouraged by many other runners, bloggers and people on SM.  I hope you enjoy my posts, and are entertained by my writings.  I also hope in some small way I can add some motivation and encouragement to your life.

Thank You very much for following my adventures.

Not following me…what are you waiting for? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter


Running – 5 Seconds and My Life

What is 5 seconds in the big scheme of things?  Most would say not much…hardly any amount of time at all.  But to a runner 5 seconds can be the difference between world records, a personal best time, or qualifying for Boston.  5 seconds can also be the difference between life and death.


During an ordinary normally routine run though a housing area, I was moving along enjoying the afternoon and in the middle of a good stride when I sensed something coming up from behind me.  I don’t run with an Ipod or anything to cloud my senses. I prefer to be aware of my surroundings and this time it paid off.  In the middle of this run I felt something approaching me.  Whatever was coming up from behind was catching up with me kind of fast.  My instincts also told me that whatever “it” was, it would not be long before it caught up with me.  I also gathered by the mechanical sounds that the “it” was a car or maybe a truck.  Then almost before I could process everything that was going on, a car passed me on my right side and turned  quickly right in front of me.  It appeared this car was pulling into a driveway, a driveway less than 6 feet way.

I’ve got to admit I was pretty surprised, startled, shocked and upset when the driver pulled in front of me. Wanting to avoid this driver I figured I would cut behind the car and get out of the way.  Clearing the street with a quick look over my shoulder, I turned to move behind the passing/turning car.  Then my senses kicked in again, something was moving at me a SECOND time.  The car that just passed and turned in front me was now in fact backing out of the driveway they had entered destined for a driveway across the street. My attempt to get out of the way put me right back in the path of this 4,000 pound monster.  Luckily my awareness served me well allowing me to avoid being run over yet again by this person.  Most startling of all was that the driver gave me the “why was I in her way again” stink eye…


5 seconds.  5 seconds would have been all it took for this driver to slow down. 5 seconds to allow me to get out of her path.  5 seconds could have prevented the near fatal juggling act between the both of us.  5 seconds and the stink eye could have been avoided.  I guess those 5 seconds were important to her.

Home 5 seconds earlier checking the mail.

5 seconds sooner turning into your favorite show.

Dinner served 5 seconds earlier.

Those 5 seconds really are a big deal after all.

To me those 5 seconds nearly ended my running career, those 5 seconds nearly took me out…not once but twice!

Is it really too much to ask, give me 5 seconds, PLEASE

Running – Moments That Moved Me – Ultra Marathon

Most of us will never hear the roar of the crowd as we race for a podium finish.  Most of us may never qualify for Boston.  All of us will accomplish more than we ever thought possible as long as we continue to run.


My Top 10 Running Moments

10.  Running 200 miles in one month, for the first time, June 2013.

9.  Completing my first marathon in 2005.

8.  Running my first sub four hour marathon at Niagara Falls in 2013.


7.  Having a Running story published (twice) in a national publication.

6.  Pacing a new friend to her first half marathon (2011) and first marathon finish in 2012.

5.  Finishing step for step with my running mentor at Graveyard 100k in 2014.


4.  Finishing my first 100 mile race at Umstead in 2014 (22h 51m 05s).

3.  My wife surprising me with a re-commitment of our marriage at the City of Oaks Marathon in 2015.


2.  Running with my grandson Aiden for the first time, 2014.

1.  I’ve continued to run in some form or fashion, high mileage or low for 16 years ( Aug of 2000 – present.)

What are your top running moments, please take a moment and post a comment below and tell us about them.

Marathon – Runner – With Olympics Trails Goal

Thank You Kris for taking the time to participate in my blog interview and a Big Congratulations on your podium finish at the 2016 running of the Shamrock Marathon!   On March 20th 2016, under near nor-eastern conditions Kris ran a 2:54:10 and finished 3rd Female.

krislaw4(Closing out a great day at Shamrock, Kris Lawrence 3rd overall female)

To introduce Kris, when I first started blogging about my running adventures I came across Kris’s blog.  Kris being a local runner, a really fast runner and someone trying to qualify for the Olympics trails, I was hooked.  Not only is she a talented runner, but also someone balancing all of life’s real issues.  Kris has a military spouse, kids, a house and all the distractions we all have to deal with, but she still manages to focus on her training.  To me her blog and her running have been an inspiration.

Thank you Kris for taking time out of your busy life to be a guest on my blog.

One thing that really captures my attention is your quest to run a Olympic Qualifying Time for the marathon. I’ve never known anyone personally with an Olympic sized goal…I must say I was impressed!

When did you realize you had the talent to aim so high? And when did this become an official goal of yours?

Kris – About 7 years ago I lived in the Seattle suburbs and started jogging to take off some extra baby weight. I entered a small 5K and surprisingly did well. There I met a local coach who told me I could try to qualify for the Marathon Trials. I had no idea what he was talking about so I went home and googled. I thought he was crazy! Here I am years later, still chasing that crazy dream. I missed the 2016 Trials by a little over two minutes. Who knows, maybe I’ll try for 2020.

Through your blog I know you have had to deal with some pretty serious injuries over the last few years can you give my readers an idea of the battles and how you stayed focused on your goals through all of this.

Kris – Honestly I was very lucky in that I did not suffer any injuries other than minor tweaks for the first four years of my competitive running life. Then I believe I started reaching the miles a little too high and did not pay enough attention to the little things, like core and stretching. I suffered two stress fractures and a torn calf muscle, one right after another. It was incredibly disheartening. Every time I would make progress it was one step forward, two steps back. A few times I wondered if it was all even worth it. I truly love this sport but not at the risk of my health and so I made changes. I switched training programs, lowered my mileage, and starting working on strength and physical therapies, like dry needling, to keep my body healthy and strong. It’s important to stay proactive in our sport.

What does a typical training week look like for you?

Kris – My training week has evolved over the years, meaning I think I’ve run every type of training schedule there is at least once. Currently I run 6 days a week all in single runs (running only once a day). Monday, Wednesday, and Sundays are my easy paced mileage days. The distance varies but I rarely wear a watch and love to listen to music on these days. Tuesday and Thursdays are speed or tempo days. I will usually wear a gps watch and never listen to music. I need to focus on the pace and staying relaxed with good form. Saturdays are my long runs. I try to run these with friends starting the pace at an easy feel and ending at close to marathon race pace for a few miles, practicing race day nutrition as well. After every run I stretch and have some form of recovery food or drink. Three days a week I add in a strength session that I do on my own in the privacy of my home. I set my timer for 40 minutes and go through various strength exercises. I also do 10 minutes of core almost daily.

What is the best advice you have received about running and life?  What advice would you offer someone looking at getting into shape for the first time or someone setting an Olympic size goal?

Kris – The best piece of advice I’ve gotten is to “love the run”. It seems so simple but you’ll never make progress without enjoying what you are doing. We get so much more out of this sport when we are happy, grateful, and appreciating the moment. We don’t “have” to run, we get too. We don’t “have” to race 26.2 miles, we have the opportunity too. Just like in life, attitude is everything and will determine your success.

I loved the Shamrock Marathon photo you posted on Facebook, where you said all you could think about was not falling down.


When not racing, but out on a long run, what do you think about?

Kris – Everything! While I’m racing I purposely do not let my mind wander, choosing to focus on every step and mile, but on long runs; anything goes. I think about my next race, foods I want to cook the following week, plans with friends later, etc. I’ve also imagined myself winning the Boston Marathon about 10,000 times.

Your family, Husband and kids…do they have a knack for running?

Kris – My husband has beaten me in the marathon! During college my husband, a group of our friends, and I decided on a whim to run the Marine Corps Marathon. We were poorly trained and had NO idea what we were doing. We all wore cotton t­shirts and our longest run was only ten miles. Needless to say it was a painful experience. My husband and I ran together for 26.1 miles before sprinting to the finish line to beat each other and later after viewing our online results, we learned he officially beat me by .1 seconds. He won’t ever let me live it down! My daughter completed a season of Girls on the Run. Joining her for her 5K race was one of my proudest moments. My sons love to run 1 mile races occasionally but mostly love to join me on their bikes while I run. We have great conversations that way.

What has been your favorite place to run/race, it’s okay to have two favorite places…or more.

Kris – I could probably name 100 places but I’ll stick to First State Landing Park. I could run in there for hours and have done so many times.

Who are your running heroes?

Kris – Another question that I could give a dozen answers so I’ll keep the list to one. My high school running coach, Dave Symonds, who instilled the love of Boston into my life and PRed every marathon he ever ran.

A lot has been in the sporting news about doping in our sport…your thoughts? Being an upper crust runner, are you subject to testing?

Kris – I think its wonderful that so many elites are vocal about doping and testing. I agree with those outspoken elites, like Alysia Montano, that hope for lifetime bans and wish more races would not allow prize money to athletes who have tested positive for illegal substances even after serving their suspensions. Personally I have had to sign forms allowing myself to be tested at the Boston and Chicago Marathon but because I never placed high enough, was never tested.

You may not know, I once failed a drug test, but it was not for performance enhancing drugs it’s because my level of Oreos was too high.  Ha ha ha little junk food humor there.

Kris – Ha!!

What is your favorite pre-race meal….and post-race “I can eat anything I want, victory meal?”

Kris – Pre-race I always have some soft pretzels and Gatorade. If it is a marathon day then I’ll also include Hammer Perpetuem. Oh and coffee…tons of coffee! Post­race I LOVE a Coke and Large Hamburger.

krislaw3(Running with the pack)

Would you rather win Boston, the Olympics or set a world record in Berlin?

Kris – Boston because I want to wear that gold crown everywhere.

Prior to most long runs or races, to get motivated,  I enjoy sitting in my car and listening to music, the adrenaline pumping kind of loud music.

How to you get pumped, jazzed or up for a race.

Kris – Youtube! Before the Shamrock Marathon I sat in my hotel room alone watching a youtube video of Amy Cragg (Hastings) racing her debut marathon and the post race interview. She said she was suffering so much she focused on making it every quarter mile. I remembered that at mile 23 when I started to hurt.

And finally….from the serious of a 3rd place overall female at Shamrock to this important question…

What’s your favorite color and why?

Kris - Gold. Color of my wedding band and first place!

Kris, again thank you very much…I’m a big fan and will continue to follow your adventures!

I’d like to thank you for supporting your military spouse and the sacrifices your family makes to protect this great nation. God bless you! Maybe we will get to meet one day. I’ve seen you at races but been to star struck to step up and say hi….(silly I know, but local elites are a big deal to me.)

Kris - I would LOVE to meet someday. Anytime you are up for an easy run at the park, let me know. Thank you so much for including me, it was an honor! – Kris Lawrence

Kris…run fast we hope to see you in the 2020 Olympic Trails!