Monthly Archives: February 2015

Running – Racing and the Mental Game

The Mental Game

Since launching this Blog and Tweeting, Updating, Tagging, Pinning and Posting about my running adventures, I’ve received a ton of e-mails.  Some readers want to give me untold millions if I simply provide some personal information. Others want to sell me the latest gadget to turn water into gasoline.  There are a few who care enough to want to help me become a better version of me for the paltry sum of $19.95.  Within that cornucopia of digital media a few are honest running questions or advice.  It was for these select e-mails that I started blogging about my running.  I don’t claim to be an elite runner, and I acknowledge I’m not a coach.  But over the last 14 years and approaching 15,000 miles I’ve learned a few lessons I’m willing to share.


One question I’m asked often is how do I go into races of extreme distances, 50k, 100k 100 miles and 24 hour runs with a positive outlook and the mental ability to get to the finish-line.  I’ll be honest it, I wasn’t always built this way.  At one point in my life I was looking for the easiest way out, a short cut or I simply would avoid any challenge that truly taxed me.

Over the years my outlook, my mental toughness has changed.  I no longer look for the easy way out, I don’t take the easy road, now I thrive on the hard, difficult and the road less traveled.  How did this change come about?  I’ve used visualization techniques, and self-talk, to rearrange my thought patterns about my life in general and my running performance in particular.  I picked up on this “reprogramming” of the brain, almost by chance.  After changing the way I viewed myself I became a believer in positive thinking.  I was unaware of this at the time but this overall technique is what brain doctors call Neuroplasticity.

To run 100 miles, you can’t simply show up and run.  Many a fit athlete has failed to finish a 100 mile race not because their body gave out but because their mental fortitude was not up to the challenge. To successfully finish a 100 mile race you have to believe you can do it.

Visualization techniques:  Visualizing the outcome you want to achieve. I first heard of this technique in the late 1980s when Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar discussed his pre-game preparation.  Berine told reporters that he visualized how every play in the game plan would develop and be successfully executed.  These mental reps. allowed him to see success and increased his confidence in his skills and that of his team mates.  Kosar claimed he went into every game believing that the designed plays would work if everyone did their job.

According to “Visualization has also been called guided imagery, mental rehearsal, mediation, and a variety of other things — no matter the term, the basic techniques and concepts are the same. Generally speaking, visualization is the process of creating a mental image or intention of what you want to happen or feel.

When I began my running/racing career I often stared at the starting line wondering if I could finish.  After a few races where I stood on the starting line, nervous, lacking self-confidence and just pain scared I would embarrass myself.  After one such race I remembered the technique Kosar had talked about.  From that point forward I began to visualize a successful race in training and the night before.  Instead of fearing failure, I began seeing myself successfully running and finishing.

As I progressed in my running career this selffulfilling prophecy increased my confidence.  As my confidence increased I ventured onto longer races distances, marathons, ultras and then the Grand Daddy of them all the 100 miler.  Many Nights after being granted entry into the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Race I laid awake envisioned how this race would play out.  I ran the race over and over again in my mind.  I pictured the start of the race, the refueling stops, and most importantly I saw in my minds eye the finish.  I watched this highlight video over and over again to the point that I could almost sense the intensity of crossing the finishing line.  I got to the point that I could feel the overwhelming  joy of being handed that shinny 100 miler finishers belt buckle.

I’m not implying that by simply daydreaming about a event that your going to be successful.  You still have to put in the hard work.  But by seeing the finish of this race in my mind, I stood in the cold on a Saturday morning in April staring into the darkness of Umstead State Park knowing I could finish this race.  After-all, I had seen the finish, I had lived the finish, I had enough confidence to trust my training and take that first step.

To complete an extreme distance race take more then seeing the finish.


Self-talk:  Self talk is the internal dialogue we use to view the world, explain situations and communicate to ourselves.  The type of self talk you use–negative self talk or positive self talk is a powerful force, one that can and often does define your life.  To be completely transparent…I have to confess I did not always have a positive self-imagine.  For much of my childhood/teenage years I would de-value my own self-worth with negative self talk.  I was hard on myself believing I would fail at many things that I tried to accomplish.  I can’t tell you when that negative talk changed but at some point in my life I got tired of feeling down.  I finally began to believe in…ME.  I told myself that if other people could achieve greats things, then I could too.  It wasn’t easy and I still had doubt but over time I began to believe I could achieve ANYTHING I set out to accomplish.

An article published by stated: “Most of the time, negative self-talk can hinder you from performing at your fullest. This gives you second thoughts about your ability to carry out the task. With positive self-talk, you can put your doubts on the wayside – so you can focus on accomplishing your feat with flying colors”.  

I really can’t place the event or the time that my attitude about myself changed.  It was some time after high school around the time I went into the military.  I was 24 years old and I knew things had to change.   At that crossroad in my life I vowed that I would no longer engaged in negative self-talk.  I choose instead to communicate in positive ways that I could accomplish my goals, whether in education, within my career, and or my running.

After gaining entry and the months leading up to Umstead, my first 100 mile race, when I  spoke to anyone or to myself about running 100 mile I never used the words “try, attempt, or make an effort” to run 100 miles. When I talked openly or in private I always used the terms, “when I run, when I complete and when I finish the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Race.”  Whenever Umstead came up in conversation I only spoke in terms of finishing the race, accomplishing my goal and being successful in my endeavor.  I simply refused to speak a negative word about finishing this race.  My mind was in training mode just the physical ability of my legs, and lungs.

As I trained my body for Umstead and other challenging races, I knew I had to train my mental state.  I have to be mentally tough, resilient and capable just like my physical state would be.  Little did I know at the time, these techniques were part of a bigger mental restructure called Neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity – Neuroplasticity according to: is also called brain plasticity or brain malleability.  “This plasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.”

This plasticity (“rewiring”) of the brain or the thought patterns within the brain allowed me to transform the mental image I had of myself.  Where before I may have given up on a tough run or a challenging feat, because the mental image I had of myself was that of someone who was not skilled, not a finisher, and not talented.  Today I go into races knowing I’ll finish, knowing I’ll run hard and knowing I’ll run distances that many only dream of.

What has changed? The mental image I have of myself has evolved into someone who finishes, who takes on the difficult and of a person who does not give up.  I communicate with myself in a way that lifts me up, provides confidence in my ability and in my training.


Life has taught me that you can accomplish all of your goals if you develop an image of yourself succeeding.  If you believe and tell yourself you can do it, if you allow your brain to adapt to this new reality you can do anything.

Runners – Racing – Oreo Cookies and Life

If you follow my running adventures, you have no doubt noticed my love affair with the wonderful black and white cookie known as the Oreo. Relationships come and go, careers change, and the years on the calendar pass.  But Oreos have always been by my side. I first remember eating an Oreo when I just a young lad and have continued the courtship ever since.  The cookie with the magically wonderful and frosty white center has seen me in good times, a reward after a long run, and in bad. There is no truth to the rumor that I once eat an entire bag of Oreos without taking a drink.


Other than being a wonderful little cookie, I was unaware of just how much an Oreo can tell others about our personality.


According to a video, Kraft (Nabisco is now a Kraft brand), surveyed over 2000 Oreo eaters and found that they are divided into three categories:

  • Dunkers tend to be energetic, adventurous, and extremely social.
  • Twisters tend to be emotional, sensitive, artistic, and trendy.
  • Biters are easy going, self-confident, and optimistic.

    More interesting facts: Women tend to be dunkers while men tend to be biters.  And, Democrats tend to twist, Republicans tend to dunk!

After being enlightened by this new information, I wondered how our Oreo cookie habits might shed some light on our running personalities. Like the I conducted my own survey and found some connections between Oreo eaters and runners.

  • Dunkers are the runners who show up to a race wearing the color coordinated tutu, kilt or rainbow colored spandex.
  • Twisters tend to be runners who show up to a race very focused, very determined to set a new PR/PB or qualify for Boston.
  • Biters are the easy going group of runners who show up more for the social event, then setting a new race record of finishing in on the podium.
  • Then there are the gulpers we they eat the cookie all at once. We They tend to show up at races for the social connection, taking the day as it comes then after the first mile is in the book…we they go for the PR/PB.
  • Lastly there are the folks like me who eat the entire bag of Oreos.  We are….. there’s no hope for us.  We sign up and run every race we can get to.


If you’re an Oreo cookie eater, be proud.  Embrace your cookie and the way you eat it.

runners being assaulted, robbed, raped or left for dead

I was once told this thought about life “No one gets through life without having a story to tell.”


That statement is equally true in the running community. We have all read the sensational headline or heard about some life changing event. The headlines are full of stories of runners getting hit by traffic and unfortunately some killed by drunken drivers. We have also heard tales of runners being assaulted, robbed, raped or left for dead.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people, BUT you don’t have to become a victim.

Let me introduce you to a friend and allow you to hear her testimony:

My name is Stephanie

I am a statistic.

I am a victim of rape.

I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone. The importance of women being protected wasn’t necessary. Call it ignorant, small town minded, whatever you’d like. That’s how things worked.

I was raped by someone I was dating. Someone my parents knew and approved of. Someone everyone liked. Basically, someone that wouldn’t hurt another person.

That day changed my life forever, and it fueled a passion to bring self-defense to everyone.

If I had learned about self-defense items, I wouldn’t be writing this today. But that’s not the case. I am here to tell all women that rape is real, so are physical attacks. Whether you’re out on a beautiful but lonely trail, running the streets of the inner city or with someone you should be able to trust. You have the right to protect yourself. You have the right to be protected before something happens!

My Mission is to:
EQUIP others with personal protection products
EMPOWER you with safety solutions
EDUCATE others with knowledge that saves lives

binDamsel in Defense offers many items you can carry in your purse, on your keychain or on your belt. There’s no reason for you to go unprotected!

You can call me at 304.834.4201, email me at and absolutely check out my page.

To ALL my girl “friend” runners, I care about each of you……PLS visit Stephanie’s web site if only for education and PLEASE Protect yourself.  I want to run with you again and for a long time to come.

No Excuses – Run – Train – Race – Live

We all have been there.

We all have looked at the front door to our home, stood just inside the threshold and thought…not today.   The excuse list might look like this:

– Not today, it’s cold
– My legs are sore
– I just don’t have the time
– Another REST day won’t hurt
– It’s raining
– It’s windy

And my favorite (from another point in my life) – No one will ever know

BUT no longer will we (I) take the easy way out.  We (I) will choose movement, We will chose action and we will move (run over) mountains.



Snow Day = No Run But Making Snow Angels

16 Feb it snowed in Virginia and the world came to an end.

8 inches of snow, and sleet…with 18 days until the Graveyard 100 I decided it was not worth the risk to run outside.  I stayed inside and banged out 60 minutes on the elliptical.  I posted a challenge on Twitter that if I could get 100 new followers while I worked out I would make a snow angel.  Came up just short but decided to do it anyway!

Enjoy the snow and #run when you can…be safe!

Compression Socks – Product Review, A New Way

Compression Socks + A New Way = Savings and Comfort

Running a ton of miles gets you an extra slice of pizza, some cool race bling and once in a while the chance to try out some new running gear.

I had the opportunity to test drive a new type of compression sock.  At first I wondered what could be different about a sock design, but once I had them in my hand I knew something was different.


Introducing Tiux Performance Compression Socks.


From their website: “We are a small startup with something to prove. We’re dreamers looking to challenge the status quo. We’re never satisfied and believe we can do much better. This drives us to deliver premium products with great customer value.

We’re not like other sports apparel brands. Instead of using brick and mortar shops, we sell directly to you online. We break away from the traditional retail model by eliminating wholesalers and distributors. This lets us control the entire process, from apparel design to shipping products to your door. Our streamlined approach allows us to sell our products at fair prices.

I can’t speak of their business model, although I sure like the pricing…I can speak of the Quality, Fit and Performance.

The product right out of the package impressed me.  In my hand I could feel the high quality materials.  The material felt plush/soft yet supportive and firm. Once on my foot/calve the wear felt comfortable.  And I really liked the racing stripe, it made me feel faster.  During my run (8 miles) I can’t say I ran any faster but I did notice a cushioning to my footfall which was a bonus.  This was my third straight day logging over 8 miles and normally I have some tenderness in my calf, ( ha, old age stuff) but on this run I did not have any issues. I can’t say for certain the socks cured me…but they did make my lower legs feel more supportive.


If your needing a new pair of compression socks, I recommend you give them a try.

You can visit their web page
Like them on Facebook
Follow on Twitter and Instagram

Places I Should Not Run – Marathon Training – Run – Ultra Marathon

A Humorous Look at Places I Should Not Run:

I should not run near any restaurant where food smell lofts to the outside world.  I ran the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon back in 2009, and had a great experience   The race was well organized and featured a great course, except for the part where we ran right into a wall of breakfast food smell.  Our senses were overloaded with the smell of bacon, pancakes, and coffee.   I’ll tell you that is not the smells you want to have to overlook when you’re hungry enough to eat the south side of a north bound skunk.


I should not run in the dark anywhere I had not run in the daylight.  During my military career, I was deployed to a few remote locations, my last deployment was to Al Udied Air Base, Qatar.  This deployment was right in the middle of training for the Marine Corp Marathon.  Despite missing out on the MCM and with a lot of grit, I kept running during the deployment despite the extreme temperatures and LONG duty days.  About a month into the deployment I needed a long run.  Up to this point all of my runs had been on the residential side of the base.  One night I ventured to the operational side of the base, an area I had never run.  Let’s just say my long run turned into a really, really, really long run when I could not figure out how to get back to the dorms.
QATAR - Al Udeid Air Base Qatar
I should not run near people who smoke, eat Krispy Kreme doughnuts and drive around looking to yell at runners.  On a nice quiet Sunday morning I went for a run on RAF Mildenhall, UK.  During this run part of the sidewalk had become a bit unstable under foot so I choose to run along the side of the road.  I figured this was a safe spot, I had not seen a car in miles, I was on base and certainly the military community would understand someone trying to stay fit.   Then I was passed by a car going the opposite direction, this car then turned around, and pulled up next to me.  Once along side the driver began telling me, in a not so pleasant tone, how unsafe it was for me to be running on the road.  I normally would have gotten upset, and maybe gave her an ear full, but the sight of this “lady” holding her smokes in one hand, eating a doughnut with the other and turning the steering wheel with her belly was just too much.  I laughed out loud and nearly fell over.

I should not run (race) on a course which is not clearly marked.  I ran a local 5k, more of a fun run, but still billed as a race where the route was a bit questionable.  The Race Directed greeted everyone and thanked them for showing up.  Then the RD thanked the sponsors, the city and his club for hosting his first race, then proceeded to give the count down.  5… everyone ready.  4….have a good race.  3…be safe.  2..  1 GO.  In a blink of an eye we were off, half the field ran one way and the other half ran the other way.  No kidding, the race group took off in two different directions, it was nearly 100 yards down the road before both groups stopped turned around and looked at each other.  The embarrassed RD then pointed in the right direction and we took off…..again.  I’ll keep which direction I ran to myself.

What places should you not run?


What places should you not run?

Marathon – Running For Boston – Ultra – And Beyond

Running has opened so many doors. Running has also introduced me to a ton of great people. People of different abilities. People with different goals. People with different experiences and people from different backgrounds.  Sure we all meet people different then ourselves, but when you run with them you learned more about them and yourself then you ever thought possible.

Eric H. is one of those people.  I did not know Eric before he responded to my Facebook add about a 50 mile run as a train up for Graveyard 100.  Running with him I found out he is in the military, new to our area and wanted to meet a few new faces. He joined us for our run and a connection was made.

(Running the Noland Trail)

A few weeks later Eric posted that he was going to run a 25 mile training run and wondered if anyone wanted to join him. I met Eric at 8 a.m. on a cold Saturday morning and four hours later we found we had a lot in common.


Eric is the Running Program Director for the US Military Endurance Sports (USMES) Association.

What is USMES? Founded in 2010, USMES is a non-profit charity organization chartered to support endurance sports education and activities for current, retired, and Veteran members of the United States Uniformed Services.  USMES has programs for athlete development at all levels from novice to elite. Current programs include: race teams, sponsored individual athletes, regional and local club events, education, coaching, and equipment discount programs. In addition to supporting active cyclists, wounded adaptive cyclists, runners, and triathletes, USMES seeks to raise awareness of the physical and psychological benefits of endurance sports within our military community.

The natural thing when running with someone new is to talk about our past running accomplishments. Eric told me about some of his highlights.

(Running the Noland Trail)

I have to admit, I was impressed, so I asked him how he became a runner? I never had a problem passing my PT test, and would run a couple miles from time to time as part of my “workout”.  I had PCS’d (military change of station) to Tucson in 2011 without my family (daughter was finishing school) and I was bored one weekend. I saw a 5k advertised, the Tucson 5000, and figured I would give it a shot. 5K led to a 10k, which led to a half marathon, which led to a marathon, which led to an ultra!

How did you feel after that first race? I did fairly well for my first time out (22 minutes), so I felt proud and exhilarated. My first half marathon was they Veterans Day Half Marathon in Tucson, and I thought I was going to die. But, like the 5k, I did fairly well with a 1:45 (ish) finish. My first marathon was the Tucson marathon, and this time I knew I was going to die! But, I pushed through the pain, and finished with a sub 4. The endorphins were really flowing after that finish, and although I could barely walk, I was on cloud nine.


Eric’s accomplishment are not solely running related as I soon found out when I asked him what else was he proud of.  So many personal accomplishments, it would take forever to name them all, here are a couple. As a high school dropout, I think completing my masters degree next year will be at the top of the list. I have had a very successful military career where I have been fortunate enough to make rank rather quickly, and have been selected for some choice jobs on staff. Six deployments and counting, but have made the best of each one. Leading the Tucson Team RWB chapter was an amazing experience. I had no idea working with fellow veterans and the community would be so rewarding.  Our team took the club from just a handful of members to the 500+ member chapter it is now. Still so many things on my bucket list, especially in the adventures category!

As we spoke about bucket lists, we found out we share many goals. I asked Eric what his favorite racing distance is and why? Well, right now marathon is my favorite because it is the longest I have run. However, I am hoping to make ultra-distances my favorite! I prefer the longer distances because it is a true test of endurance. It takes both the mind and the body, unlike some of the shorter distances.

During long runs, what do you think about? Running is my therapy time. It’s my time to block out everything else, put on the blinders, and contemplate life. I think about family, school, work, future endeavors, upcoming life choices, and sometimes I think about how much my body hurts. A runners high exists for sure, but mine usually doesn’t show up until the finish line.

Eric then told me his big goal is to qualify for Boston. Boston is just another bucket list item. It would be awesome to be able to say I actually qualified for Boston, and it would be even more awesome to say I actually ran it. 

After Boston what’s next? I have no idea where my running will take me. But I do have a feeling I am going to stick to the much longer distances until my body can’t take it anymore. I have been doing a lot of reading about the Umstead 100.

Learning about his desire to qualify for Boston and getting a snap shot at his running resume I asked him what advice he would give to new runners, and runners jumping to the marathon distance? I was smart enough to map out a great training plan to work up to my first marathon. Because I was prepared mentally and physically, I enjoyed it. So many people don’t put in the time and end up hating every second of the 26.2 miles… or whatever they can crank out. Put the time in, get the weekly miles done, and you will enjoy your marathon much more. Best advice I ever got was “start with your mind, and finish with your heart”. I pass that on every chance I get.


And finally, realizing qualifying for Boston is not easy I asked him how he pushed on when things got hard? This is a tough one. I have so many “places” I go in my mind when the going gets tough. I think the main thing I remind myself is that there are so many people who can’t run, and I try to “run for those who can’t”. I think about how proud my family is of me for my accomplishments, and I think about that runners high I will get when I am done.

You can contact Eric at and for more information on USMES check out their web-site.

Knights of Columbus 10 Mile Run for the Heart

Knights of Columbus 10 Mile Run for the Heart – Jan 24 2015

By late January I normally have a few races already under my belt. This year I kicked off the racing season with a 50 mile training run for an upcoming 100 mile race (the Graveyard 100, my second). Add in the effects of our annual getaway cruise getting moved to mid-January instead of early February which left me with a big fat ZERO in the racing column. As the end of the month approached I was feeling a bit antsy for a race.

To correct this dilemma I took to the web. While pulling a fartlek on the internet I came across a local 10 mile race. The 3rd Annual Knights of Columbus 10 Mile Run for the Heart held on the tour roads of the Yorktown Battlefields. This race fit perfectly between long training runs for Graveyard. This race came at just the right time to scratch that racing itch.

yorktown10miler(Run in the Yorktown Battlefield site of
the last major engagement of the Revolutionary war)

Leading up to every race I’m always surprised at how lucky I have been to have raced the majority of my 84 races under great conditions.  Even the worst race day weather has not been that bad. Well…..old man weather hasn’t been the best of friends to the Knights of Columbus 10 Miler.  In 2013/2014, the race was postponed due to snow/ice which closed the Battlefield roads.  This year the race went on as scheduled despite a cold rain that covered the area most of Friday night and into Saturday morning.  Conditions at race time saw a cold light rain, which eased up during the race and a light breeze throughout the race.  Temperature at race time was 38 degrees. You win some and you lose some.

Orange Air Force Marathon Hat
Plain Orange Long Sleeve technical shirt
Black/Orange OPEDIX KNEE-Tec 2.0 compression tights
Bright Orange Nike Air Pegasus shoes
Black Injini Toe Socks
Garmin 201 GPS watch
Run Gum – a great caffeine kick to get fired up on a cold wet day

103 runners entered the race with 89 runners completing the course.

I seldom go into a race, viewing the other runners as competition. I race myself, I race the clock and I race my previous times. Going into this 10 miler I wanted to break my previous 10 mile PR/PB of 1 hour 23 minutes 49 seconds at the 2012 Lake Charles Running Expo. Throughout the fall and winter I had been running well in training correcting a few running flaws in my gait to the point that my training times had really improved. I figured this race would be a good opportunity to open up the reins and see how fast I could run. If everything went right I hoped to race for an age group top three. I planned to win this race against the clock.

RACE: The start of the race was on the battlefield roads, a good half mile walk from Yorktown High School. Leaving the warm and comfortable confines of the high school lunch room I noticed the rain had stopped but it was still very cold. On this damp morning I did not want to arrive too early to the starting line and have to stand around in the cold. I also did not want to be late. Running a few strides and bouncing around in place kept the legs limber as we waited for the field to get organized. After a few short words, the gun went off and we were let lose.

Normally a slow starter whether in training or on race day I tried to pick up today’s starting pace without going out to fast and burning out early. I got off the line well and held my own as the pack began to stretch out. The majority of the opening miles I made my way thou the crowd passing runners who went out fast, yet could not keep up the pace. At the first out and back section I caught a glimpse of the front runners and after a quick count I figured I must be close to being in the top 20. I decide then and there that this was going to be a RACE. I was going to run hard, I was going to run smart and I was going to finish strong.  You race to victory or sometimes you get beat.

Mile 1, 8:01 / Mile 2, 7:57 / Mile 3, 7:34 / Mile 4, 7:14 / Mile 5, 7:16

The opening segment of the race went well. I was feeling good, my legs had responded, my lungs were working well providing my body all the required oxygen and my mind was squarely in the game. As I rounded the Mid-Point mile marker, I ran a quick math drill in my head and figured out I was on target to run a new PR/PB. The battle now came in believing I could keep up this pace for the next five miles. A weak point in my running armor has always been a fear of blowing up. I tend to run conservative, below my potential for the fear of burning out and having to Did Not Finish (DNF) remark next to my name. Today at the mid-way point I was feeling taxed, but I knew I had enough fuel remaining in the tank. I knew I had not run so fast in the beginning that I had burned the fuel from both ends of the tank.

Mile 6, 7:43 / Mile 7, 7:41

Mile 8, 6:51, Up to this point I had passed a fair number of runners while working my way to the front.  As the numbers on the mile markers increased the distance between the runners in front of me was growing longer. In the closing miles it took more of an effort to reel them in and to get around them.  Just after mile marker eight, I took on two packs of runners that required me to put on a concentrated effort to catch and put some distance on them. This moved left about 100 yards plus to the next group of runners in front of me. The next grouping was a pair of guys running stride for stride. I called them “the running buddies” in my mind as I began my attack.

Mile 9, 7:19, I began my assault as the course turned back to the start/finish area. With less then a mile left in the day I was in full on race mode. The course here had some sneaky rolling terrain. No real mountains or hills to climb but enough of an elevation gain that it could take some zip out of your legs. These hills also made a wonderful place to pass someone. I had to put on a strong effort to catch the two guys in front of me. I pulled shoulder to shoulder with them just as we reached the base of one section of rolling terrain. Normally I would conserve my legs and mark time as we climbed the hill in hopes of being able to make a pass on the downhill side. Today, I decided to make my move on the uphill. And make-a-move, I did. Never breaking stride I fired off a big push and continued this move on the uphill slope and passed the two running buddies I had moments ago trailed. By the time I had reached the crest of the hill I had a good 15 yards of separation and was pulling away. On the downhill section I had moved clearly out in front of them and had a welcomed separation of 50 yards. But this wouldn’t be the last I was to hear from these two. Sometimes you give and sometimes you take.

After catching the running buddies I had only one lone runner in sight. A guy wearing a red shirt was about 50 yards in front of me with a mile to go. Like the crimson red cape of a Matador to his bull, the guy in red tormented me all the way to the finish. I knew I was having a good race I just had to finish strong and I would get my PR/PB. But now I wanted to catch this guy.

To make up the distance it was going to take some serious effort. To answer this call I put my head down and went to work. Part of improving my pace over the last year was to run more on the front of my feet. Early on in my running career I was a heavy heel striker. Watching some of my favorite ultra-running movies I enjoyed seeing how elite runners ran. I noticed they ran more up right and forward. This contrasted greatly to my form of a heavy heel striker. Over the summer months and into the fall I worked very hard at landing more forward on my feet. In training I concentrated on staying up on my feet. During this 10 miler as I was beginning to tire, I concentrated on my mantra of staying “up on my feet.” This helped me to keep pace at the end of the race and not just in the beginning. Today would I drink the wine or stomp the grapes?

Coming off a slight downhill I poured on the coals. This effort allowed me to get to within in 30 yards of the runner in red then he would slip away. At the same time I could hear voices behind me and they sounded like they were getting closer. Not wanting to get caught from behind, I poured on the gas once again, the voices grew faith, the red shirt guy grew large. This cycle continued for the last half mile of the race, back and forth we jousted. I was unable to complete killer blow on the guy in red. Correspondingly, the voices chasing me were never able to advance. Cresting the final incline and turning to the left the finish came into sight. I pressed home with everything I had this time able to separate myself from the voices that had been trailing me and yet I could not make up any ground on the guy in the red shirt.

yorktown10milerbling(This race offered some nice Bling)

Mile 10, 7:38, The Finish line, Crossing the finish line I glanced over at the official race timer. In big, bold, and bright red numbers flashed the PB/PR that I had wanted: 1 hour 17 minutes and 3 seconds. A new best by 6+ minutes. Thankful for the great finish, but bummed I could not catch the red shirted bandit I went seeking him out. I wanted to find the guy in red and thank him for spurring me on, I wanted to finally “catch up” with him, but he was nowhere to be found. Dejected that I would never find him I turned to grab a cup of Gatorade out of the big orange containers. As I began to sip my finishers drink from behind I heard two voices, “we have been trying to catch you for the past mile.”

kofc10miler(A New 10 Mile PR/PB)

Some times you finish behind your goal and sometimes you finish in front. The Knights of Columbus 10 Mile Race was a fun run, a spirited race and a great day to run miles over some wonderful roads in the Yorktown Battlefields. I scored a PR/PB and placed 2nd in my age group.

yorktown10milerresults(Second in my age group, best ever for me)

Running Questions – Hydration

I receive a good bit of email because my blog.  And I LOVE it.  The majority of letters that come in are about running or they are offering me large sums of money if I simply send them a small amount of harmless personal information.  Please Mr. John Smith, Banker from Nigeria, my mother’s maiden name really is Partridge and my SSN is BR5-49-Ou812.  I want need my millions from Uncle Ed!

Sorry I digressed just a bit.

kp(Me Before My Running Career Kicked Off, Honest)

Most legit “running related” emails fall into two groups. Either the authors are telling me about their running success (LOVE IT) or they are asking me about races I’ve run or training questions. Equally love these…The questions tend to fall into three categories: How do I get started, Which shoes are best and Hydration. The first two are very person specific questions. I tend to answer those one-on-one. And by no means do I think I’m some expert, I freely offer whatever advice I can strictly as my lessons learned.  Always seek the advice from a professional coach/doctor or someone alot smarter then me.

Hydration, on the other hand I have written about a number of times on my blog.
Scared of a lifetime
Hydration or death
Hydration solutions 

Recently I was asked,   What is your opinion on hydration systems?  Do you prefer vests, hand held water bottles, and/or waist straps.   

My preference is the hand held water bottle, but that depends on the distance of my planned run/race, the separation of the aid stations and the weather conditions.

Distance: My go to set up is a hand held water bottle for anything 10 miles in length or greater for “normal” temperatures and humidity. Living in the Virginia Beach area, that means until mid to late June or early July then I tend to carry a hand held on just about every run. I’ve carried a hand held bottle for the majority of my running career and it feels like second nature to me. I hardly notice it to be honest, routinely switching it side to side to balance the muscle fatigue. I’ve carried my trusty hand held for 12 hour runs, 24 hour events, 50k, 50 mile, 100k and 100 miles races.

I’ve never used a waist belt/strap or a camel back type reservoir.

9568-154-005f(Richmond, 2005 My Second Marathon)

Separation of aid stations: I’ll stick with my hand held for the majority of races up to the marathon distance. Anything longer then then I begin to consider adding my ultra race vest. I run in a Ultimate Direction AK Ultra Race Vest. Once over the 26 miles threshold I analysis the distance between aid stations to help decide if I add the vest. If I’m running/racing on a looped course and the aid stations are 6 to 10 miles apart I’ll stick with my hand held. Greater then that or if the weather/terrain is a factor I’ll add the vest, not only for additional hydration but also for extra gear to fight off the cold, wet, and dark, but to also carry extra food stuffs.

Weather: As mentioned above the weather conditions both hot/humid or cold/wet all add into my thought process on determining my hydration plan for long runs or races. 

Whatever your choice for hydration, ensure you have an ample supply of water, it better to carry a little to much and not need it then to be miles away from a water supply and run out.