Monthly Archives: October 2014

JFK 50 – Ultra Marathon Run – My Next Big Run

My next big running challenge is the JFK 50 mile endurance run, in the ultra running world this race is the granddaddy of all 50 mile races.  If your new to the race here is some history.


From the organizers website: The JFK 50 Mile was first held in the spring of 1963. It was one of numerous such 50 mile events held around the country as part of President John F. Kennedy’s push to bring the country back to physical fitness.

When Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963, most of these events were never held again. The one in Washington County, MD changed it’s name from the JFK 50 Mile Challenge to the JFK 50 Mile Memorial in 1964. The JFK 50 Mile in Washington County, MD is the only original JFK 50 Mile Challenge event to be held every year since.

This will be my first running of the JFK 50, being a retired military member this race comes to me as a calling to celebrate the military, our country and my ultra running.  As the days count down to race day, I’ll use this page on my blog to review all parts of my JFK 50 race plan.

The Race Course:  The JFK 50 mile course is a point-to-point “horse-shoe” configuration  starting from U.S. Alternate 40 adjacent to the Boonsboro Educational Complex in downtown Boonsboro, Maryland and finishing at Springfield Middle School in Williamsport, Maryland.

The JFK 50 is in my mind two races in one, The Appalachian Trail section (approx. 15 miles) and the C & O canal path (approx 35 miles).  For me this will be my first real “mountain” race with any elevation to deal with.  Around mile 5 the course sets off on a 1,200ft climb, topping out a 1700ft. Exiting the AT the remainder of the race is very flat run along the C & O canal.

JFK50(Map and more info can be see here)

Watch my Twitter timeline and this blog for updates, where I’ll discus the following subjects and more.

My Goals:  I’ve had the hardest time conjuring up goals for this race.  My #1 goal is to finish alive and uninjured. And some of the stories about the AT have me wondering about that.  I’ve run a number of Ultras (13 to be exact), including a sub 23 hour 100 at Umstead, 13 Marathons (1 sub 4 hour finish) and 50 other races.  I’m coming off my last long run before JFK, a personal best 20 miler at 2 hours 42 minutes and 56 seconds.  And I might just be in the best shape of my running career.  BUT (pausing for effect and a silent prayer) I’ve never run on the AT and have no idea what I’m getting myself into with that section.

jfkmedal(Goal is to bring home my version of the JFK 50 Medal)

Saying all that and after consulting with a number of friends whom have run this event, whom know my running style, taking past finishes and judging against my current fitness.  My goals for the JFK 50 are (drum roll PLS).  As stated above to finish unbroken, a sub 10 hour finish or sub 11 hour.  (And the crowd goes wild and some laugh with delight).

My Fueling and Hydration Plan:
The JFK 50 course has plenty of fully stocked aid stations (14), approx. every 4 miles and some only 2 miles apart.  I’ve never run this race but from what I can gain from comments and race reports it appears that there will be no lack of food/hydration support.  From the official web site: “Provisions at these stations will include: colas, Gatorade, water, sandwiches, salted items, sweet items, energy gels, energy bars and basic first aid supplies.” Saying that I’ll stick with my plan of carrying a water bottle and snacks just in case.  I plan to run this race with my Ultimate Direction “AK” race vest and hand held Nathan 20oz water bottle.

graveyard100battlerattle(Graveyard 100k setup…I will go out much like this for JFK 50)

Instead of carrying two water bottles in the front pockets of the race vest, I’ll stash some gels, snacks and painkillers in these easy to access pockets.  I’ll also carry a small digital camera and headlamp. In the rear compartment I’ll stow some additional outer layer garments just in case it gets cold or wet.  With a shorter distance between aid stations I’ll stick with my tried and true plan of hand carrying a water bottle on races longer than a half marathon.  I’ll simply refill my bottle when needed to ensure I can make the next stop.

Part of what sets longer races aside from a marathon is that most runners can complete a marathon on a few cups of water and a GU or two.  During a long run like 50 miles, you’ll have to hydrate/refuel more extensively as you race.  What has worked well for me over the years is to drink/eat something light at every stop, as well as hitting a GU at 6 mile intervals.  I stress the importance of eating light.  Your muscles still have work to do, you can’t over tax your system by processing the gut bomb you’ve unloaded on yourself. I’ve learned it is important to maintain your energy level and fuel supply before you get into a deficient.  Think of it like your checkbook, once that first check is bounced…it’s hard to recover while paying the overdraft fees.

My Pacing Plan:  To be honest, I’m not sure what my per mile pace will be for the AT section.  I’m going to take that portion of this race by feel, my goal is to get off the AT between 2:45 and 3:00 hours.  Then run/fast walk a solid 12:00 minute per mile on the canal section to get in under 10 hours.  I can fast walk a 14:30/15:00 per mile pace.  I’ll mix in ten minutes of running at around a 9:30/10:00 pace and two minutes fast walking.  This combination worked well at the Graveyard 100k last spring.  My goal is to have some fight left in me for the final half marathon where I can attack the course and the clock.


UPDATE: My Race Gear:  Starting early Saturday morning and ending 10 hours later, I hope to make one transition from cold weather gear to my race gear.  Just in case I’ll have a few add on items carried in my race vest in-case the weather turns bad/cold.

From head to toe…

 JFK50 kit  JFK50outerlayer

Nike black beanie
Sun glasses
Nike gray ear warmer (optional use as neck cover)*
Nike balaclava*
Nike running jacket*
Trash bag as a disposable windbreaker* 
Blue fleece top*
Tech long sleeve race shirt x 2
Nike Fleece running gloves x 2
UD Ultra “AK” race vest (one 20oz bottle w/Lemon Gatoraid mixed with a Tri-berry GU)
*additional long sleeve shirt, beanie, gloves, trash bag in case the weather turns
Garmin 201 GPS
Nathan hand held 20oz bottle
Race ready long distance shorts
CW-X men’s stabilyx tights
Dirty Girlz, Puppy paw print gaiters
Injinji toe Socks
Nike Air Pegasus

* morning/cold weather use

Food and Miscellaneous
GU Energy Labs Tri-Berry Power Gels

Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes
Knuckle lights and hand held flash light
GoPro Hero 3+ Black with hand held mount



Wicked 10K – Longest Touchdown Run Ever

Blue Moon Wicked 10k – Longest Touchdown Run Ever

Sometimes we run for time.

Sometimes we run for a goal.

Sometimes we run for the win…

And some times we run the LONGEST TOUCHDOWN RUN EVER!

The 2014 edition of the Wicked 10k started with Michele and I working as race ambassadors for J and A Racing.


We opened the expo on Friday morning and by the time our shift was over we met a ton of great people in the running community.  We met older runners, young runners, couples, singles and runners of all shapes and sizes.  This experience proved again that the running community represents all of us.


The Wicked is a 10k race disguised as big Halloween costume party, if I had to guess I would say 90% of all the runners dressed up.  The range of costumes varied from the simple to the “out of this world” how did they think up that.

Start of Wicked 10k Meeting some interesting people

The great thing about a Halloween themed race is no matter if you’re the passer or the one being passed, you never know who you’ll come cross next.

Zombie Zone Photo bombing my own videos

The Virginia Beach boardwalk is an outstanding backdrop for this race and the weather conditions for this edition were perfect. Running the last mile of this race provides a great finishing experience. Instead of running for a time, it was fun to interact with the other runners, the very supportive and decked out crowds.

Running the boardwalk Longest touchdown run ever

Crossing the finish line I was a bit disappointed, the fun was over, the race was over…and the longest touchdown run ever was complete.

The Shadow – Running, Racing and Training



After some hard fought miles I was finally running alone. The sound of the starter’s gun is still ringing in my ears and the race has really just begun. All the work, all the missed social engagements and all those lonely hours on the road was paying off. Battling two would be challengers for the better part of the race. I was finally in the lead of my home town race the Brownstown 5k. This race was just like any other run-of-the-mill 5k, but to me, it was unlike any other. At this race last year I failed. My body let me down. I burned out with the intensity of a solar flare. And this was the race I always wanted to win. Today not only was I in the lead but I was also pulling away. At the two mile marker the majority of the pack was left behind and by two and a half miles I finally separated myself from my two lone rivals. Out in front the open road was my only companion.

I had never noticed how quiet racing could be. Normally in the middle of the pack, there’s always noise. There is always distractions. The sound of breathing surrounds you. The rhythmic sound of countless pairs of running shoes impacting and griping the pavement runs along with you. And the nervous chatter as competitors talk amongst themselves encircles you. But up front, alone, and in the lead it’s quiet. The only sounds are those of my lungs filling with oxygen and exhaling. The sound of my shoes hitting the running surface and propelling me forward. And lastly the absence of sound as my inner voice encourages me. Compared to being sandwiched in the middle of the field it’s so peaceful running in the lead.

Running up front is different, then running in the middle of the pack. Up front you set the tempo. If you’re trying to win the race as I am today, you set a pace just a bit faster than everyone else. Leading the race means you get to see everything first, guiding the field behind you along the course. Running with the lead also means you have to make sure you follow all the correct twists and turns along the race course. Whereas in the pack you can safely play “follow the leader.” Up front you have to motivate yourself, push yourself and challenge yourself when there’s no one in front for you to chase. And today at this point in the race, the field was far enough behind me that no one was pushing from behind.

But what is THAT? As I glanced down to monitor my footfall a shadow appeared at my feet. At first it caught me off guard, was it a tree, or an animal, some kind of creature approaching me from behind? After further study the shape of this intruder registered in my brain. The shadow was a head of an approaching competitor running me down from behind. All my senses heighten, the hair on the back of my neck stood up, and my skin became electric. My sense of hearing picked up on a sound, the soft cadence of someone approaching from behind. My heart rate quickens, and my nerves are rattled. I looked down once again and now even clearer, projected from behind, the looming silhouette of a runner. And this stranger was growing larger.

Now I’m sure, the shadow, the evil figure attempting to steal my victory was running at a pace that will surly over take me. My brain fires off signals that call for my accelerated heart rate and over juiced adrenaline to kick it up to a higher gear. My stride reaches out, my leg turn over quickens and the road beneath me speeds by ever faster. And yet the dark threat continues to loom and grows even larger. Now I can clearly see the shadow of the head and shoulders of the silent figure behind me. My flight or fight instincts kick in and now without even transmitting the thoughts my arm swing widens and my legs drive forward. I Pass a sign telling me I have less than two tenths of a mile left of this 5k. I vow that I will not let this menace who lives in the dark, who steals from behind, creep up and capture my day.

My eyes are fixed on the prize. Like a young boy hiding his head under the covers hoping that the monster just goes away; if I stop looking maybe the shadow will go away. But will power fails and curiosity forces me to look, in horror I see nearly a complete torso. In fear and panic I lean forward attempting to pull away from the ghost behind me. My foot strike quickens more. My heart is pounding. My lungs are on fire. I’ve got nothing left to give and the shadow grows larger still. Only 50 yards to go, and I’m in a dead sprint, my brain is lost, my body is maxed out and I’m almost home yet the pursuer gains an advantage with every effort I give to counter his attack. The finishers tape is just ahead, ten yards then five yards. I’m doing everything to pull ahead to keep the hunter at bay…and with a last push to the finish, I come home the winner.

I’m spent. I’m done. I’ve given everything I have and I’ve finished. The race is mine. I have won. Yet I wonder who nearly caught me, as I stumbled down the finishers chute collapsing into the arms of a volunteer, I ask, “who came in second?” With a mystified stare the young girl tells me, “no one, you’ve won the race and left the field in the dust.” “But who was behind me, who was I fighting off? WHO?” I ask, “Came in second?” The girl a bit confused tells me again, “Sir, no one, second place has not finished yet.” “But I saw his shadow, I saw a shadow of an approaching runner coming from behind, I fought him off for nearly half a mile where did that runner go?” The young volunteer looks at me, and smiles. “Sir, that shadow was you.”

The Reluctant Runner – Training, Running, and Racing

For most of us mere mortals running does not come easy, in fact running is painful and it takes dedication.  Some of the lucky ones (not me) make it look easy but even after 14 years of hitting the open roads…I still find it hard to get out the door some days.

This guest post is offered up by my Pastor, Rob Shepherd.  Rob is a great pastor, author, blogger (because of his blog I started mine), superhero dad and a Reluctant Runner.

“THE Reluctant Runner” by Rob Shepherd.

I run. I hate running. I would say I’m a reluctant runner.
You know those runners who say, “Once you start it becomes addicting.” I’m not sure what they are smoking, but I’ve never become addicted to running. My first race was a 5K. I then moved on to a 10K. I then ran three half marathons. I still hate running.
(The many faces of a Rob jog,
left to right – top to bottom
1. Hate running & don’t want to do this.
2. Lose weight, feel great!
3. Lost any sense of enjoyment
4. Running stinketh!
5. Almost done!
6. Feel great!  I’m Done!)
For years I refused to run. I would often say, “The only reason you will see me running is if someone is chasing me. And the only reason you will see me training to run is because I know in advance that someone is going to chase me.”
About three years ago I went through a job transition and we could no longer afford our gym membership. I wanted to still exercise so I thought I’d try jogging. It was awful.
I was up to an hour on the elliptical at the gym. That was awesome. I would pick a movie and then forget I was exercising. It was that easy. Running, not so much. That first time out I couldn’t do half a mile. I felt like death was calling me after that run. It was painful. I didn’t want to do it again.
And yet I found myself back out there. To help with my continued motivation I signed up for a 5K. The rest is history. I still hate running.
So the question is why do I run if I hate it so much?
  • I run because it’s the fastest way to exercise. I tell myself often, “Just hurry up and get this over with.”
  • I run because it helps me have discipline. Discipline is not easy for me. Discipline is needed though. I don’t want to be a lazy person. I don’t want to be apathetic. I don’t want to stink at life. Discipline helps push me to levels I wouldn’t get to naturally.
  • I run because it helps me get outside. I went to the doctor a few years ago, and she told me I needed more vitamin D. I work inside an office all day. I also am what comedian Jim Gaffigan would call, “Indoorsy.” Nature is trying to kill us. Pollen that attacks, tornadoes, volcanos, Sharknados, hurricanes, insects that bite, and sunburn are just a few of the examples of nature trying to kill us. But I need to get outside because of doctors orders, so I run.
  • I run because it eases my stress level.
  • I run because it gives me alone time to think.
  • I run because I’m fat. I don’t have a runners body. If I didn’t run I would balloon up to 300 lbs. I may never be crack skinny, but I am thinner than I would be if I didn’t run.
So all of that is why I run. I wish, like Brian, I enjoyed running. In fact Brian inspires me with all of his running adventures. Maybe one day I’ll catch the running fever, but until then I’ll be a reluctant runner.

You can follow Rob on Twitter
You can check out his blog
And you can visit his church

Thanks Rob for being my guest….

Crawlin Crab Half Marathon 2014 – Race Report – Revenge

Revenge is a dish best served cold…


Last year I went into the 2013 edition of the Crawlin Crab Half Marathon trying to establish some confidence for a sub four hour attempt at the Niagara Falls Marathon.  All of my training up to that point was on target.  I went into the 2013 half marathon wanting to prove that I had the speed required to run a sub four marathon.  Everything went well until the sun came out around mile 6 and it got hot.  At mile 9 I began to melt.  10 miles into the run the wheels came off.  Crossing the 11 mile marker I wonder if I really had it for 26.2 miles at my goal marathon pace.  I finished in 1 hour and 50 minutes.  The time on the clock was one thing, my broken spirit was another.

I recovered, and ran a strong 20 mile training run a week later.  Three weeks later I scored my first sub four marathon.

Truth be told even with the success at Niagara Falls, I’ve held a grudge with the Crawlin Carb Half for over a year!

Leading up to the 2014 edition of the Crawlin Crab Half Marathon, I ran the Air Force Marathon 13 days earlier.  As the days to the race drew near I was truly undecided whether I was really going to push it at the half.  Race morning I was still reviewing and questioning my goals for the race, consequently I decided to line up in corral three with some friends (my bib time had me in corral 1).  Standing there in the starting field, I finally decided to run with my friends and see how the day unfolded.  The day was perfect, bright skies, crisp temperatures and calm winds.  The conditions this year was much different than the unforgiving heat of the year before.

cchalk2014a(With a little help from my friends)

Mile 1 8:32 / Mile 2 8:19 / Mile 3 8:09 / Mile 4 8:10 / Mile 5 8:05  At the gun, the race crowd took off at a fast clip.  I kept my attention on my GPS watch as I wanted to avoid running out to fast to soon before settling into a nice rhythm.  The start at the Crawlin Crab rolls out for approx. half a mile then climbs over an overpass then the majority of the race is flat until crossing back over the overpass returning to the finish line. Although I had yet to commit to a fast race or a PR attempt, I knew if I wanted to make a run at a goal time I had to set the table properly.  At the end of five miles…my GPS confirmed, that not only did I set the table properly I may have even pulled out the good china.

Mile 6 7:57 / Mile 7 7:51 / Mile 8 7:54 / Mile 9 7:41  The game was on.  With a solid start under my belt, it was around the 10k mark that I felt something good could happen today.  My leg turnover was light and easy.  So easy in fact that at some point I was a bit worried that I may not be able to keep it up.  Putting that fear behind me, I decide to keep up my goal pace until I crossed the finish line or bust into flames.

cchalf2014b(Can you pass the potatoes…time to eat)

Mile 10  7:34 / Mile 11 7:20/Mile 12 / 7:28  Crossing the 10 mile mark, a quick glance at my GPS and some rough math confirmed that today was the day.  I had not only run a pace which put me into a position to have a fast time, it also left me with a lot of kick still in my lungs and legs.  Today could be special and I was not going to let the good china go to waste.  The RACE was at hand and it was time to serve the meal.  Last year at this point in the race a fast start and rising temperatures drove me into the ground and melted my will to fight/run hard.  Today, I was determined to not lose this PR!

Mile 13 / 7:28  The entree was served and consumed…and now it was time for the desert.  The three course meal that was the opening 12 miles where behind me and I still had a lot of pop left in my legs.  The end of the race course had us returning to the convention center area and back over the highway overpass.  Where in the past I’ve struggled to put the hammer down in this area, today I gave it everything I had.  In that last mile plus, I was passing people left and right.  At this point in the day it was nice to taste the ice cream that was “racing” and not just hanging on to finish.  The final right hand turn and the sights/sound of the finishing area came within range and I kicked it into high gear.

(Raw Video footage of the last 2 miles)

FINISH 13.1  Crossing the finish line, it felt so “significant” to finally have revenge on a course that last year left me humbled and lacking confidence.  The 2014 edition left me feeling secure that my training was paying off and confident that if I followed my race plan, fast times were in my future.

cchalf2014d(#boom PR baby)

I went home happy and with a new half marathon PR in 1 hour 43 minutes and 32 seconds, and that’s better than a hot fudge sundae!

Guest Post From Grindstone 100

Guest Post By: Tim S (Ultra Friend of Mine)
2nd Annual ”2013 Grindstone 100 Mile Endurance Run”

This race will always hold a very special place in my running resume. Not only was it my first trail 100 miler, but I’ve been wanting to compete in this since I became an ultrarunner.

GS100c(at 48 miles into the race)

Back before, us ultrarunners had Google and to search for races (besides word of mouth, of course). I can still vividly recall seeing the Grindstone 100 in Swoope, Virginia, and vowing to run it. At that point in time, my longest run was only 60 miles. I knew I wasn’t in the conditioning needed to complete the race at that point in time, but it always stayed in the back of my mind when I was deciding which Ultra to train for that Grindstone was still out there.

If my running career was Odysseus, then Grindstone was undoubtedly my Polyphemus. To continue my voyage and see other amazing sights around the world, I simply had to get past this monster.

And Grindstone certainly is a monster. The elevation profile even looks like a demon straight from the fiery depths of hell.


I paced my friend and fellow ultrarunner John Waite in 2012 through the last 20 miles of the course. The moment I crossed the finish line with him, the countdown began: 364 days til I raced this for myself. I signed up for the 2013 edition and trained my ass off. I did hill repeats in parking garages, ran on inclined treadmills, and made extra trips to Jockey’s Ridge and The Wright Brothers Memorial in Nags Head for specialty incline workouts.

Then life, as it usually does, threw a curveball. About a week before race, the governmental furlough closed Camp Shenandoah. Clark Zealand (RD) madly scrambled for a way to put the race on due to people flying in from all over the country. However, it was simply too daunting a task on too short of a notice. The race was postponed, and entry fees were allowed to be transferred over to the following year. Given my experience with other RD’s recently, Clark extended us an enormous olive branch by allowing an entry transfer. One RD I know of would have taken our money and, pun intended, run.

So 2013 came and went, and 2014 started shaping up to be the most epic running year I’ve ever had. I competed in my first point-to-point 100 (Graveyard), followed by Badwater Cape Fear and the Virginia 24 Hour Run for Cancer. In July I competed in and finished The LAVSRR 500k. I came home from work the Monday before the race and did an easy 4 mile run. After eating dinner, cold symptoms hit me like a ton of bricks. I went to bed Monday night sick, and ended up calling out Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from work. Needless to say, I did not go into this race very confident. I thought, briefly, about DNSing, but my pride would not allow it.

After gorging on pasta Thursday night and getting a decent night’s sleep, Cassie and I headed to Swoope for pre-race check in. I got my number and a few additional items (tshirt, cookie, beanie, etc) that the race provided. I met up with John, who was running his third (technically) consecutive Grindstone 100. We seemed to have very similar attitudes: happy to see each other, but the basic small talk was stalled as we both needed to zen out before the start.

I went back to my tent and tried to nap, but I was too amped to sleep. I was opening my eyes every 10 minutes to make sure I hadn’t missed the start time of 1800 hours. At 1700 I packed everything I would need into my Nathan pack (2 water bottles, slim jims, cliff bar, GUs, batteries, headlamp, and additional clothes packaged in ziplock bags).

There was a light rain as I walked to the starting line. My stomach was in knots and I was trying to ignore the knowledge that my legs would be screaming in agony just a few hours from now.

We had a moment of silence for Major Donahue, a fellow ultrarunner who passed away in the line of duty earlier this year. Clark followed this up with a prayer, and then we were off!

A conga line of endurance athletes filed across the camp and into the woods as we began our triple digit mile journey across brutal terrain. The first 5 miles went along slowly but confidently. The next stretch was 9 miles with a significant climb. The rain turned from a comfortable drizzle into a torrential downpour. The rain instantly soaked me to the bone, and mentally I could imagine myself carrying all the extra water weight from wet clothes. The rain continued as I ran through the next aid station and approached Dowell’s Draft at mile 20.

I have NEVER thought about dropping so early into a race as I did here at Grindstone. It took em 5.5 hours to go 20 miles.I could not imagine running another 80. Cassie did her job as my crew chief fantastically. She knew what I needed before I even asked for it. She had gear ready to go and provided encouragement in ways only she knew how. After lying to me and telling me how great I was doing, I set out to North River Gap, which was 15 miles away. A small aid station in the middle provided some relief, but by the time I got to the 35 mile mark, I was exhausted. My back was killing me from the hills. It was still dark, and the sun had yet to rise above the mountaintops. I found Cassie in the line of cars. I asked her if she would think any less of me if I dropped. She told me that she would be proud of me no matter what I did, because she knew I gave it everything I had. I realized as she said this, that I had more to give. It wasn’t much more, but it was there.

The longest and hardest climb of the race was from 35 to 43. 7 miles, with most of it uphill. For almost 3.5 hours, my heart was beating out of my chest as I climbed the 4000+ foot mountain. I finally made it to the Little Bald Knob aid station at 43 miles. I sat in front of a fire, warmed myself, had some soup, and set out as fast as I could towards the next aid station. Again, I thought about dropping. If I had of seen Cassie at the 46 mile mark, I would have climbed in the car and admitted defeat.

But then…

But then I climbed Reddish Knob, and the whole race changed. I looked out upon the scenery below me and felt a sense of enlightenment. I felt my soul lift away from my body as I stood on top of the highest geographical point for miles. The sky was one of the most beautiful cloudscapes I’d ever seen. Dark gray storm clouds highlighted the landscape as random sun beams illuminated the treetops below. I stopped for a picture, then ran to the halfway point.

Cassie was tired as hell from driving to aid stations all night, but she didn’t let that stop her from completing her job as my crew. She helped me with a change of socks while we talked strategy. I warmed myself in the car for a few minutes, then I set out, knowing I would see her at the 65 mile mark.

I ran slowly, but strongly, to the next two aid stations. Then I started my downward decent towards North River Gap. I passed a lot of people on the way down. The confidence carried me through the next aid station and through the next few miles. Miles 75-78 were tough. My vision started to double and I could not fathom running another 25 miles, especially with the knowledge that the temperature was going to drop to the 30’s.

I fought through the miles, and decided to put on some music to focus on something else besides the pain. A Bliss N Eso song came on, and it changed my whole attitude. I felt an adrenaline rush from “I am somebody” and ran into the aid station with 20 miles to go at 14 minute mile pace.

I spoke to Cassie frantically. I refueled with Coke, wrapped up my massive blisters, fueled up with a cliff bar, and started the last 20 mile of Grindstone. The biggest advantage I had at this point was that I had run this exact route before- when I paced John back in 2012. I made mental notes of every rock, boulder, incline, decline, and water source back then. That mental imagery stayed with me so entirely that I felt I could have run this last 20 miles blindfolded. I continued to pass other runners as I zoomed by at what was comparatively super human speed to what I’d been running previously.

I came into the aid station at Dry Branch Gap. It was darker than black at this point, and the cold front had finally blown through to where snow could have fallen if enough moisture was present. I donned some gloves, and set out on the 9 mile stretch to the last aid station. I trekked a 3.5 mile mountain, throwing up along the way from the exhaustion and the cold. And then, finally, a downhill! My calves screamed at me, but I screamed back “ALMOST DONE! DON’T QUIT!” I rocketed down the mountain and into the final aid station at 12 minute mile pace.

Cassie was surprised to see me as soon as she did. I had continued to pass people and was now almost 40 places ahead of where I was at the 50 mile mark. I dropped off my pack, kept a water bottle, and downed a couple of GUs. With an electricity coursing throughout my body borderlining on biologically impossible, I gunned it towards the finish. All I heard was my music and all I felt was the earth beneath my feet. Everything that had hurt up until that point ceased. I felt that same enlightenment as Reddish Knob the closer I got to the finish line.

With a quarter mile to go, I put on a Hilltop Hoods song and sprinted into the finish at a speed a 400 meter runner would appreciate. I hugged the totem pole at the finish line, and Clark presented me with my belt buckle and finisher’s shirt.

I could barely move as my muscles froze up. Cassie was waiting at the finish line with a hug and a bag full of supplies. I took one of the most wonderful showers of my life before hobbling back to my tent. And after over 40 hours without sleep, I crawled inside my sleeping back and grew ignorant to all the other surroundings in the world. I woke up a few hours later to see the final finishers cross the line before chowing down on a memorable breakfast,


After examining my race and my race report, pacing John two years ago saved my race. It enabled me to finish strong and helped me reach an achievement that was almost out of my grasp. I learned so much about mountain running and trail running in this race, and I can’t wait to run it again. The confidence I have and the time I know I’ll be able to shed at the next race keep me so excited I can barely sleep. But, like other feelings from ultras, that will pass.

Again, I want (need) to thank Cassie for waiting on me hand and foot throughout 101 miles of misery. John Waite had a huge part in me finishing, even though he kicked me butt and dusted me with 95 miles to go! And lastly, thanks to all of those who provided support throughout the race. Knowing I had people cheering for me made this run tolerable, and at times, enjoyable. You will see me do this race again. And next time, my goals will be exponentially higher than simply finishing. #beastmode

First Video Blog Plus Throwback Thursday

I’m going to attempt my first Video blog post this weekend…to kick things off I’ll answer 10 questions to let my readers, supporters and followers find out a little more about me.

Post your questions in the comments below and I’ll do my best to get to them all.

Thanks, and now for Throwback Thursday.

2007, Al Udied Air base Half Marathon.  I ran this even after working a 12 hour shift…went out to fast and melted in the heat.


I was a bit heavier then…

Cancer Hater – Thank You!!!

The #CancerHater Challenge reached their goal of $10,000.00 and I reached $1625.00 because of your generosity, I had the easy part, simply running.

Cancerhater leaderboard(I made the leaderboard, 8.25 miles in one hour)

Cancer Haters…  Presently I’m at 81% of my goal of $2,000.00


With a week to go “WE” working together can make it…and here is some EXTRA motivation.

If I reach:
$2,000.00 I’ll run the #CancerHater run in a Steelers jersey.  (and if you know me, that is a BIG statement on how much I am invested in this cause)

$1500.00  I’ll shave my head….aka “The Bald Burk Runner”

I know money is tight, but this cause can effect all of us…I had a scare this summer, lucky for me I did not have this terrible disease, but if I did I would have given any amount to find a cure.

Can you help….pls any amount.

TO GIVE, click here.

#CancerHater #CancerSucks #StillEasierThanChemo



Halloween and Running – Don’t be scared

You finally lost the 5 pounds that has been hanging on since the holiday season a year ago and now…it’s back.

Halloween can be a scary time for adults.  Scary is the holiday that celebrates the fun-size candy bar.


Consider these 10 ways to make your Halloween a little less scary and a little more healthy.

  • Buy candy you’re not crazy about.  This doesn’t mean all candy you give out has to be unappealing to you, but you may have more success sticking to the plan if you don’t have buckets for of your favorite candy bars lying around.
  • Give out non-food treats.  Offer small toys, stickers, pencils, erasers instead of candy — not sure you’ll be the most popular house on the block but you will stick to your healthy eating goal.
  • Offer healthier treats.  Some healthful options include granola bars, sugar-free gum, and individually packaged portions of raisins, apple slices, dried cranberries, and nuts.
  • Don’t ask your kids to hide the candy.  If you’re a parent, Halloween offers an opportunity to set a good example for your kids. Model moderation, not deprivation. And don’t blame the dog for eating all the snickers bars…no one believes you anyway.
  • Make the candy you DO eat last longer.  Put a handful of your favorite candy bars in your freezer so that when you do enjoy a piece or two, it will last longer and you’ll have the chance to truly savor the flavor.
  • Enjoy, but be mindful.  Reward yourself with small amounts of candy…will make it less likely you’ll go over bored if you have to and can EARN it.
  • Don’t get too hungry. If you skip a meal on Halloween day and let yourself get overly hungry, you’ll be more vulnerable to candy temptation. Drink plenty of water before to take up that empty space.
  • Plan the perfect Halloween night dinner. Have a tasty, balanced meal for dinner on Halloween.  Choose a dinner that is high in fiber, and includes some lean protein and a bit of fat, so it will take some time to digest.
  • Sip a warm beverage. Keep your hands and mouth busy while you hand out treats on Halloween night by sipping hot tea, decaf coffee, apple cider, or light hot cocoa.  But stay away from the shot of Fireball… they tell me.
  • Avoid boredom. People often end up munching mindlessly when they’re bored. So keep busy Halloween night by making plans with family, friends, or neighbors.


If you really want to have a fun on Halloween night get your kids to hand out the candy and go for a run.  It would be a blast to log a few miles looking at all the little kids dressed up in their Halloween best. If your really into the theme of Halloween, dress up and run around the neighborhood as Wheres Waldo.