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Running in the winter survival guide – ultra-marathon crazy


Sitting back after the 5th running of my Ultra Crazy 50 training run during a rather harsh cold snap in North Carolina I am reminded of a few cold weather/winter running tips. 26168507_1952791064735420_4004312953369809902_n 1.  Dress to run and dress in layers, but don’t overdress.  At the start of any cold weather run you want to feel slightly chilled.  If you feel nice and toasty before you run a single step…imagine how hot you’ll be after 5-miles?  Being as warm as a bug in the rug might sound and feel good, but once you start to sweat…and that sweat turns into damp clothes, you won’t feel so good when the chills set in.

2.  Keep your hydration from freezing.  For our 50-mile run we ran four 12.5-mile loops.  Our loop had us out on the trails, away from running water for anywhere between two and two and half hours.  This extended time in the elements had our hydration bladders and drinking tubes and hand-held bottles frozen solid.  To remedy this:

A. Adding a little bit of oil, sugar or salt to your water will harmlessly lower its natural freezing point (I’ve heard alcohol does the same)

B.  You can carry your hydration on the inside of your clothes or jackets next to your body

C.  Take little sips more often to prevent the water from settling in the bladder or hose

D.  Blow back into the tube after you drink to keep the path clear 

3.  Keep an eye on the trails/road.  Umstead was snow covered and beautiful this Saturday  but she was also dangerous.  A snow-covered surface can hide a lot of hazards, ice, roots, rocks, pot holes etc.  It is best to run with caution and an eye on the ground.

4.  Bridges freeze first.  The bridges that provided a wonderful backdrop for our mid-summer selfie was an iced covered hockey rink.  When running in the winter beware, it just might be a good idea to walk.  We had four bridges to cross over and each one was a bit slick.

5.  Make your pit stops fast.  If it’s the call of nature or time to resupply and refill your water bottle do it fast.  It is surprising how quickly your body cools down when you’re not moving.  Sure I was cool while running, 10 hours out in the elements will do that to you, but the only time I really felt “COLD” was while making our refueling pit stops.

The difference between running a race and “racing” a race can be boiled down to tactics.  My book 26.2 Tips to run your best MARATHON (or any race for that matter) bridges the gap between training and racing.

6.  Shoe Gaiters are not just for sand, rocks, stones and trail grime.  Shoe gaiters are great for keeping snow out of your shoes.  And if you must go off trail, try to keep your shoes dry, starting a long run with wet feet on a frigid day is a sure way to get on the sad panda super highway.

iceearrings (Ice ear rings…a new fashion trend?)

7.  Have a sense of humor about the conditions.  If you let the cold, the wind, and the pain get to you it’s going to be a very long day.  Nothing makes the time go by faster than a smile and a good laugh.  We had a good group who helped each keep their spirits up when things got tough.  We never feed the trolls.

And finally, Embrace the pain…”if it was easy, anyone could do it.” It’s called an Ultra-Marathon, not so much for the distance but for the ULTRA-CRAZY people who do what we do.


Running 2017, a mixed bag of marathon and ultra-marathons


2017 was a mixed bag of marathon and ultra-marathon success and coming up short.  I’m not going to use the word “failure” instead I’ll say…”coming up short.”  Coming up short of your goals is still a degree of success if you, got to the starting line, dared to dream big and gave it the best you had.  I ran 1,959 miles in 2017, I stood on the starting line of 11 race, all 26.2 miles plus and managed my way through three different minor injuries.  Not an excuse for coming up short, just some simple facts.  I also had an outstanding year!

2017 GOALS/RESULTS:
Yearly Mileage: 2500/ Came up short 1959.4
Avg. Monthly Mileage: 200+/ Came up short 163.3
Avg. Weekly Mileage: 50+/ Came up short 37.6
Set Monthly PR 250+ / Came up short 220.6
Run Two, 100-mile Races / Done
Set 100-mile PR / Done
Run another sub-4 hour marathon / Done x 2
Set marathon PR / Done

2017 running graph

Aside from the running goals, I wanted to get my book “Running to Leadville” out into the world.  I wanted to get the story in the hands of runners and non-runners alike to inspire, entertain and to motivate others to live an epic life.   At the end of the year I’m overwhelmed by the success.

In turn, you have inspired me to keep writing, keep dreaming and to keep running.

Thank you.  You can pick up a copy on Amazon or a signed copy from my blog.

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JANUARY: The year started off great with the 4th running of Brian’s Ultra Crazy 50 at William B. Umstead state park, in Cary, NC.  This event started as a training run for my very first 100-mile race back in 2014.  Facing the 100-mile race I needed a long run and a group of friends came out to help me.  This ultra crazy long run has has since grown into an annual event.  2017 saw five finishers…

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Finishers
Joshua D. 2017/002
Eric H. 2017/003
Randall W. 2017/004
Elisa S. 2017/005
Andrea M. 2017/001 with Horace the Horse Ist Non-human Finisher

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Each 50-mile finisher walked away with a custom finishers award.

FEBRUARY:  The mixed bag of success and coming up short began when the injury bug came a calling with a calve injury days before the race.  During an easy slow run my right calve cramped so bad I was forced to drop out of the Uwharrie Mountain Run, a 40-mile trail race in Asheboro, NC.   From the lows came some highs!  Bryan S. and his great staff at Run-N-Tri Outfitters of Wake Forest, NC hosted my very first running seminar on “Surviving your 1st Ultra-Marathon” and a book signing for “Running to Leadville.”

MARCH:   After some down time because of the injury bug, Michele and I were off to the Beach.  At the Myrtle Beach marathon expo I was able to team up with Shane M. of Roanoke Island Running Company for a “Running to Leadville” book signing.  It was a great day hanging with Shane, talking about the race and meeting new friends.  Then on a cool morning, with a flat course and some fresh legs I was able to set a new marathon PR (3:53:47).  Looking for a spring race that is fast…I would highly suggest you run the Myrtle Beach Marathon, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. booksigningWe had such a great time we will be back in 2018….use code BBMBM for a discount on race entry.

APRIL:   After the marathon success it was time to face the Umstead 100-Mile Endurance Run once again.  I ran the first 50-miles with my good friend Eric H. as he took on his first 100-mile race.  AND with a ton of help from friends I was able to score a 100-mile PR of 21:36:36.  Then it was time to get ready for the annual 24 hour run at Sandy Bottom, in between I joined the Peninsula Track Club in Hampton, VA for a seminar on “How to tackle your first ultra) and Running to Leadville book signing.  In my 8 years running this race I thought I had run in every weather condition possible until it got hot….hot, hot….and HOTTER still.  Team RUN4LIFE not only did not melt, they melted the course record Virginia 24 Hour Against Cancer, in Newport News, VA. 18192458_1591195744224909_1614413725968285807_oRUN4LIFE took the team Championship for the 3rd time in 4 years with a course record 914 miles.

MAY:  2017 only got busier…I took my running shoes on two road trips in May.  First linking up with Shane and Heather at Roanoke Island Running Company for a Saturday morning run and Q&A session on tips for “ultra-marathon success” and “Running to Leadville” book signing.   2017ClevelandexpoweekendThe second road trip started with a stop in Fredricksburg, VA where I got to hang out with the wonderful folks of Lucky Road Running store.  After a great talk with Jeff and his super customers we traveled to the Cleveland Marathon for a two day book signing at the Expo and a 26.2-mile run along the roads of Cleveland, Ohio.

JUNE:  The heat of the summer kicked in and it was time to hit the mountains.   My friend Josh and I headed to Northern Virginia to run the Eastern Divide 50k, in Pembroke, Va.  Great mountain race with tons of climbing and an equal amount of heat. 19223054_10213592637955862_93835527902490611_o JULY:   The summer theme seemed to be “run up a mountain,” when George N. RD of the Virginia 24 Hour Against Cancer talked me into running the Grandfather Mountain Marathon, in Boone, NC.  It was hot, hard and well worth it… Summer 2017 would be known for three hot summer races.19787083_1674797045864778_8793944937478573483_o AUGUST:  A local favorite got my goat last year.  The 2016 edition of the meltdown saw me DNF’d while running in the lead two-some.  This year it was time for some revenge at the MEDOC Mountain Meltdown 50kplus. 20604591_1708158732528609_8623512576372602280_n SEPTEMBER:   When you click the registration button on a 100-mile race, it just kind of of lives in the back of your mind haunting you until race morning.  Such was the case with the Yeti 100.  I thought about the race all year…  Standing on top of White Top Mountain it was finally time to look for the Yeti and run my second 100-mile race of the year and my 4th 100-mile race overall.

The Yeti 100, on the Virginia Creeper Trail, is a great race, and captures trail running at it’s roots.  Jason G. and his gang at Yeti Trail Runners put on a great race with some one-of-a-kind flair to keep you moving.  At the end of the trail I was so very happy to get a big hug from Mr. Yeti himself and score my very own sub 24-hour belt buckle.  That’s four sub-24 hour 100s if your counting…hot dawg.  Hot YETI….IMG_20170930_055539731_BURST000_COVER_TOP (1)OCTOBER:  No rest for the Yeti in all of us, road trip time again…Michele and I headed to the 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga, TN.  On Saturday we spent the day hanging out at the expo, launching my newest book, 26.2 Tips to run your best MARATHON (or any race for that matter).

Tips front cover

Sunday, Michele ran the 5k and I took on the 7 bridges challenge….and got an extra .63 mile to boot.  The marathon carried a special meaning for me, I ran to honor a little boy who only lived seven days…I ran for Isaiah. 22528073_1860912847256576_8573685712116066337_n NOVEMBER:  Regretfully I had to drop out of the City of Oaks Marathon, in Raleigh, NC…this is a great race, but coming off the Yeti 100 and a marathon two weeks later my legs were fried.  I needed some lower mileage days to get some zip back in the wheels.  Next up would be the Outer Banks Marathon in North Carolina.   OBX Marathon ExpoWhat a great two days I got to spend in the Outer Banks.  I got to spend a cold, and windy Saturday indoors hanging out with good friends, new friends and other Yeti finishers talking about running and pedaling books at the Outer Banks Marathon EXPO  Then on a near perfect Sunday, a goal of simply finishing turned into an unexpected sub-four hour marathon performance. MTC shirt run7November saw another big running accomplishment come off the board.  After years of trying, after countless times when my friends got me into the run, only to have life get in the way, I was FINALLY able to join the Mangum Track Club completing the 14+ mile shirt run.  What a great day it was….  It won’t be my last shirt run!

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Over the Thanksgiving holiday I got to run with a great group in Cleveland, Ohio…the Trail Tribe.

DECEMBER: As in life everything was going great until it wasn’t.  Maybe my favorite 50k, the Seashore 50k, Virginia Beach, Va was my entry into the ultra race world.  This year I was going back for my 5th finish and my 5-time finishers belt buckle.  UNTIL my left IT band decided it wasn’t the right day to claim my prize.  With great regret I dropped out at the half way point. 25398821_1848850338459447_5375417104049472144_n (1)I didn’t get the finish I wanted or the belt buckle…but I did get some awesome pictures.  At this point I was trying to keep it all together.  I was also disappointed as with this race I was running for something bigger I was running #sidneystrong to support Sidney Povish a 16 year old girl who was diagnosed with (B-All) Lukemia.   Her father Brian was one of the four hour marathon pacers who helped me reach my goal at the OBX marathon.  Pls help if you can.  

I hope you had a great 2017 and wish you an outstanding 2018 and beyond.

What awesome 2017 running high lite do you have to share with the world…post it in the comments section below.


Running – Racing – Marathon – Ultra Marathon Community


No other athletic community is like the running community.  Whether running for fun or racing a ultra-marathon, full or half marathons and right down to the 5k, runners a special breed of people.

What other community toils away at their craft in near obscurity?  Would Arron Rogers pay to play football in an empty stadium?  Would Michael Jordan have played for free in the middle of a city park, unnoticed by anyone?  Yet 99% of all runners, even world class athletes train and run unnoticed by the majority of the world.

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In what other sporting endeavor does world class talent compete on the same course, play on the same venue, and run the same miles as the last place finisher.  The average baseball player will never be able to take the mound and pitch an inning in Yankee stadium.   The weekend tennis player will never be able to serve at Wimbledon.  Yet week after week the average runner toes the same line as the Olympic qualifiers, world record holder or world major marathon winner.

The “community” of runners is part of the story I tried to capture in my book Running to Leadville.  For those unfamiliar to the sub-culture of ultra-marathon this book uncovers the unique relationships in the running world.

The running community is unlike any other in the world.  We run the same races, cover the same ground, run against the same clock as the professionals.  The last place finisher will cover the same 26.2 miles as the winner of the Boston marathon.  The last person to cross the line in Placer High School in Auburn, Ca would have ran the same Western States 100 course as past winners Ryan Sands, Kaci Lickteig, Rob Karr or Hal Koerner.

The Golden Minute – Western States Endurance Run 2015 from Western States Endurance Run on Vimeo.

In what other community would you see the final finisher, just beating the cut off time celebrated as much as those who won the race.

The running community is (in my opinion) the most supportive community I have ever been associated with.  From the local running clubs, to the regional elites to the world famous runners who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. 

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Each has been very humble, supportive, welcoming and down right wanting you to do your best, 

 


Running – It’s Going to Get Tough


Running and racing, whether it be a marathon, ultra-marathon or your local 5k, can at times get difficult or down right seem impossible.  In these moments of conflict you might think about tossing in the towel.

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Do Not Do It…..

It will get better, I promise.

If you ever feel like you have had enough.  If you ever feel like your legs are about to explode and you can’t take another step.  If you have felt like you have the will power of Pee Wee Herman and just want the show to end.  Just hold on.

Seven steps that can take a near Did Not Finish (DNF) experience and turn it into another notch on your running and racing belt.

1.  Simply keep moving.  If you feel like you just can’t go on….keep going on.  You can’t stop if you keep on moving.

2.  Walking is okay.  There is no shame in walking.  Some days your legs or lungs just don’t have it.  Maybe you’ll have to give up on your goal time, but if you take a simple walking break, you may regain enough strength and commitment to continue to fight to the finish.

3.  Never quit where you at.  If you’re going to drop out of the race, do it at an aid station or the start/finish line.  If giving up becomes an option, make your way back to an aid station or the start/finish line…you just might find out that the bad patch has passed and you can continue on to the finish.

tips cover

Do you want to run faster, run your best marathon, or any race for that matter?  26.2 Tips to run your best MARATHON (or any race for that matter) bridges the gap between training for a marathon and the race day tactics that can shave seconds, minutes or hours off your finishing time.

4.  Just one more mile.  I once got my son to finish his hamburger after he said he was full by asking him to eat “just one more bite. ” The same tactic can work during a race, just one more mile, and one more mile until you find yourself running to the finish line.

5.  Keep some run in it.  If there comes a time when you have to walk, mix in some run segments no matter how short or slow they may be.  It’s hard to give up when you can still run.

6. Walk if you have to but walk with purpose.  There is a big difference, not only in time, but mental focus/strength between a 18:00 mile and 14:00 mile.  If you go into the death walk, “aka dead man walking mode” it is so much easier to drop.  Keep up your pace the best you can and sooner or later you’ll cross over that finishing line and into victory!

7.  Hitch hike if you have to.  When I’ve been at my lowest, I’ve survived a race by staying in touch with the runner or walker in front of me.  Trying to not be dropped helped me focus on moving forward and not on the pain, fatigue or the mental weakness I may have been going through.

A good race and a bad race are sometime separated by staying in the game.  Never give up while you still can move forward no matter the pace.

 

 


Running A Sub Four Marathon – Running, Racing and Training


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I’ve had a few, but too few to mention.  If there was a pop song about my quest for the sub-four-hour marathon that would be a key line in the ballad.  In the world of marathon running a sub-four-marathon to some is a routine benchmark.  To others it’s a goal still on the horizon.  To me it has always been a waterline of marathon success.

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I ran my first marathon in April of 2005.  When I began my marathon journey I believed it would be a fair bet to say one marathon would be enough.  17 years later with 23 finishes I’ve run four, sub-four-hour marathons.  I’ve read that less than 1% of the population have completed a full marathon.  That got me to wonder what percentage have run a sub-four?  It took me eight years to reach this milestone, running 3:56:57 in 2013 at the Niagara Falls International Marathon.  My last sub-four was at the Outer Banks Marathon, Nov 2017, with an unexpected 3:59:22 on a day when I simply wanted to finish the race.  I’ve also failed on three occasions when I was trying to run a sub-four finish but things did not turn out as expected.

What I’ve learned running four sub-four-hour marathons.

Niagara Falls Marathon – 3:56:57

City of Oaks Marathon – 3:56:06

Myrtle Beach Marathon – 3:53:47

Outer Banks Marathon – 3:59:22

  1. Pace is key.  When I look back at my successful sub-four-hour times my pace was very steady and predictable.  In reviewing the data from the race what I saw was a steady pace with no high patches and no low patches.  This proved to me that a steady pace wins the race and runs a successful sub-four-hour marathon.
  2. Make effective use of the aide stations.  During a 26.2-mile race you need to take advantage of the aide stations but what you can’t do is waste a lot of time in the process.
  3. Have something left in the tank to fight for the finish I wanted.  Somewhere around mile 18, I normally can tell if I have fight left in me.  I believe this is different than hitting the wall.  To me, hitting the wall means that a finish may be in question.  Comparing my four sub-four finishes with when I came up short, finishing was never an issue, fighting to the finish was.  A successful sub-four meant I had fight left in me at the end.
  4. Never give up on the dream.

Want to run your best race, check out Brian’s book – 26.2 Tips to Run Your Best Marathon (or any race for that matter.)

What I’ve learned coming, but did not get to open the sub-four-hour champagne.

Windermere Marathon (2014) – 4:04:05

Air Force Marathon (2014) – 4:07:08

Cleveland Marathon (2017) – 4:04:06

  1. I tried to run too fast.  In some cases, I did not watch my pace, I went out to fast or I fell in love with a faster finishing time.
  2. I failed to run my race, and my plan.  At some point in the race I got caught up in the number of people passing me.  I began to believe I should be able to run with this person or that person and I ended up running their race and not mine.
  3. I could not stop the bleeding.  Once I got off target, I could not get the ship righted.  Once I started giving back time to the clock, I simply could not stop the bleeding, things either got worse or the got no better.

A sub-four-hour marathon is not a judgement of your marathon ability.  We each bring our own value to the race.  Some run to BQ, some run to finish and some run to get what “they” value as a benchmark time.


Outer Banks Marathon – Running and Racing 26.2 Miles


Outer Banks Marathon 2017

When I signed up for the Outer Banks Marathon, the first thing that came to mind was the ocean front, wind and sand.  When I left the Outer Banks (OBX) after running the 2017 edition of the marathon what came to mind was that this race had it all.

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 ( Would I have enough fight in me on my birthday?)

NOTE: In all transparency, I was provided a free entry into the Outer Banks Marathon as a ambassador.  But my feelings and thoughts about the race have not and will not be influenced.

This race had it all…

The expo/packet pick up were both well organized.  I arrived on site early Saturday morning to cold and blustery winds with the Saturday races already in full effect.   I was hoping the weather would take a turn for the better as I unloaded and headed for the expo.  I was at the expo all day talking to runners and pushing my books, Running to Leadville and 26.2 Tips to run your best MARATHON.  To be 100% honest, I never heard one complaint.  Other than the harsh running conditions on Saturday everyone was happy and the excitement for marathon morning was in the air.  The expo had a great mixture of running and area related goods.  The traffic was steady all day I enjoyed meeting new and old friends while talking with a bunch of eager runners.

OBX Marathon Expo

 (Thank you to everyone who stopped by my booth)

This race had it all.

Roads:  The majority of the race was run on the roads around and within the Outer Banks.  Prior to the race I dreaded the idea of endless miles trying to survive from one-mile marker to the next.  The road sections of this race were not bad at all.  In fact I found them rather entertaining as did a few runners around me who commented that because of the race they got to see parts of the OBX that they normally don’t get to see.  The road sections took us to the sound side, through some golf courses, around some sand dunes and along residential sections with some wonderful beach houses.  All and all I would say the variety of environments helped make the miles pass quickly.

Trails:  I had heard about the trails of the OBX marathon and although I consider myself an experienced trail runner, they did offer a nice little challenge.  The trails are not technical and offer a wide birth rather it was the rambling up and downs combined with a sandy surface that began to take effect on my legs.  A marathon is not meant to be easy and the trails here offered a nice break up of the road sections.  They also provided a challenge to ensure you would remember them long after the finishers medal hung around your neck.

Hills:  The OBX course is flat.  BUT add in the rambling hills of the trails then throw in a bridge crossing at mile 23 and you have yourself a “wonderful” way to spend the day.  I ran all day thinking about that bridge.  It must have been around mile 15 or so that I got my first glimpse of it like Everest larking oft in the distance.  That thing haunted me for the rest of the day until at mile 21 we made the right turn that put it right in front of us.

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 (the 23rd mile Everest)

OBX marathon spilt times

 (Pretty steady day running 26.2 miles)

I had no real goal going into this race.  I wanted to finish but I also wanted to run a sub-four-hour marathon if my legs felt good and if everything went according to plan.  At mile 21 facing “the bridge” I knew I was on pace to potentially achieve that elusive goal.  Then a thought entered my mind…if I kept up whatever pace I could, if I refused to walk, if I refuse to give into weakness I could make up for a few lost seconds climbing that bridge.  But if I gave into my weakness, if I gave into the easy path…I could never recover the minutes I would lose.  I hit that bridge as steady as I could, running and repeating to myself…“I can make up seconds, I can’t make up minutes.”  I kept my head down, my eyes on the ground, only worrying about the next step, the next stride and the next moment.  I fought off the trolls of weakness as they tried to tell me how tired my legs were, how heavy my feet felt and how labored my breathing had become.  I refused to feed the trolls and they failed to gain strength.  For every negative thought, I countered with “I can make up seconds…I’m lost if I give up minutes.”

Looking back on that segment of the race, I lost very little time on that bridge.

Fantastic finishing area and post-race support:  At mile 24 I caught back up with the four-hour group whom I had run with earlier in the day.  I lost them at mile 10 when mother nature called collect.  After summiting the bridge, it took a few minutes to get my legs back under me.  Once my legs, lungs and mind had recovered at mile 25 I did my best impersonation of Shalane Flanagan and put the pedal down.  To be honest I thought about her relentless attack at the NYC Marathon and I gave that last mile point two my best effort of the day.  I never looked back and finished the Outer Banks Marathon running 8:40s to claim my fourth sub-four hour marathon at 3:59:22.  Not bad for a 53 year old on his birthday.

The post race food, support and transportation was first class.

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 (Happy Birthday to me……)

The Outer Banks Marathon had it all for me that day and I gave it everything I had.


New York City Marathon – Shalane Flanagan


Lightening does strike twice…New York City Marathon and Shalane Flanagan

In 2014 “Meb” Keflezighi won the Boston Marathon and brought the USA back to the top of the Boston Marathon for the first time since 1983.

And Shalane Flanagan won the 2017 NYC Marathon in dominating style.  In doing so she became the first US women to stand on top of the Big Apples Marathon podium in 40 years.  She also overcame so much more.

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My wife and I watched the NYC Marathon on delay after a full day of chores around the house. Around 2 p.m. we sat down to begin watching the race.  At around mile 13 of the women’s race I hit the pause button and went for a run.  It was a wonderful day in our neck of the woods and I needed to get some miles in.  With a little extra pep in my step and with thoughts of the marathon looming I headed out for my run.  At that time Shalane and Meb were hanging with the lead pack. While I covered the 11-mile loop my mind was full of thoughts of how the race would turn out.

After returning home and a quick shower, it was time to begin watching the second half of the race.  AND what a half it was.  I won’t go into the blow for blow details about what transpired on the streets of NYC, I’ll only tell you that when Shalane made her move the noise in our home was nearly as loud as the crowd on 1st Ave.  For two-miles my wife and I cheered her on… “YOU Go Girl!  Don’t look back…You Got THIS!!!!!!!”  As the miles disappeared and her competition feel off the pace the emotions of seeing someone capture their dream was over whelming.  I could barely speak, I was clamping as loudly as I could and my hands hurt.  I felt like I was there with her.  In her moment.

When Shalane crossed the finish line of the NYC Marathon as the first US women’s champion in 40 years and with her first major marathon title…I could hardly speak and my wife asked.  “Are you crying…?”

Yes, I was choked up.  Yes, I had tears in my eyes.  And yes, I was so very happy for someone I have never met.   And in that moment is what makes running so much more than a hobby, a form of fitness, or even a sport.  The marathon reflects life….it will move you.  I may never win a marathon, but I do know what it is like to achieve a goal, to concur doubt, to overcome odds and to beat my own limitations.

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Shalane did all that and made us proud, Congratulations!


The Hardest Thing About Running – Not Being Able to Run


When your sidelined with a running injury, do not let a temporary road block take away your runners spirit.

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 (Just because I can’t run,
does not mean the road is empty)

Some might think that in the middle of a long run, when your feet feel like they are on fire, when your chest feels as if it will implode with the very next breath, when every part of your body wants you to shut it down and stop, that that might be the hardest part of running. Although you may not believe it…not running is the hardest part of running.

The hardest part of running, for many if not most runners, is not being able to run.

It will happen to all of us sooner or later.  One day because of an injury we will not be able to lace up our shoes and go for a run.  When that time comes, we pray it’s only temporary.  When I can’t run…I’m not such a nice person.  When I see a runner out enjoying their day.  I hope they see a snake.  On some occasions, I may have wished that their beefy and spicy burrito came back to pay a visit when farthest from their home.  I may be guilty of hoping for some chaffing in an uncomfortable spot.  Or maybe that things bounce or swing a little too much?

Not really.  I jest.

A quick word about Running to Leadville.  I wanted a running story that would inspire and motivate.  I wanted a story to uncover the drama of running 100-miles coupled with a tale about uncovering the demons within.   I also wanted a story which would uncover the ultra-marathon lifestyle.  So I wrote Running to Leadville.

What They Are Saying

Available on Amazon and signed copies direct from my blog.

When I can’t run, I enjoy seeing runners getting in their miles.  It brings me immense joy to see the world in motion and to see a fellow runner out in the day.  To keep my runners spirit, I give a wave or a silent high five to the unknown runner who crosses my path.  To me seeing another runner on the go reminds me that better days are ahead for me.  I take solace that I’ll again be part of the motion and that there is promise of a better tomorrow.  Just because I can’t run today, does not mean I am not the runner who will run tomorrow.

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 (Even when I can’t run, I’m still a runner)

If for some reason your forced onto the sidelines…don’t lose that runner spirit.  Keep your runners’ high alive, encourage your running friends, smile at those who can run and enjoy in the victories of others.  The race does not go to the person who runs today…the ultimate victory goes to the person who continues to be a runner, even while sidelined.

How do you keep your runners SPIRIT alive?


Running and Marathon Racing, A Post About When Things Go – WRONG


It’s easy to write about the running experience on a perfect day.  It’s easy to write about the results of a flawless race, a personal record or a race win.  It’s not so easy to draft a race report about a run that went terribly wrong.  The conflict is that we often learn more from a bad experience than we do from a good one, hence we should share those experiences where things went wrong to avoid making the same mistake, again.

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 (Not every race ends in smiles, puppies and unicorns)

So here goes my top FIVE racing/running mistakes:

1.  I didn’t need a headlamp.  During my first JFK50, I really did not factor in what the day light conditions would be.  It was mid November and an early morning start.  I figured I would need a headlamp.  Race morning standing on the street light lined roads with the sun coming up it hit me that I would not need the headlamp that was resting on my forehead.  I considered tossing it to the side of the road and writing it off.  But , that was a thirty dollar headlamp so I removed it and tucked it into my shorts pocket.  For the next 50 miles…..I fought a near losing battle trying to keep my shorts pulled up.  The extra weight of that headlamp caused my shorts to ride low….ALL…DAY…LONG.

2.  Went out to fast, again.  Most have done it.  We know we shouldn’t…we are smarter than that, but still.  I found myself sitting on a log at mile 20 of my first 50k completely gassed.  I was capable of running the distance, I was fit…I had the racing smarts.  BUT…I got caught up in the excitement of the day, the challenge of a new distance, and sucked into a pace I could not keep up.  I was done.

Shameless plug for my book.
I tried to capture the drama and the challenge of running 100-miles in my book Running to Leadville.  The tale is more about life than running.  The story is centered on the main character who after his parents’ divorce finds his life full of rejection and heart break.  Then he meets her…

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The story also highlights the personal struggles of running a 100-mile race, and not just your run of the mill 100-mile race, but the iconic ultra-marathon known as the “Race Across The Sky.”

Available on Amazon and signed copies from my blog

3. I cheated on my plan.  I planned to run a sub-four marathon.  I was committed to the plan and to stay with the sub-four hour pace group.  Then I saw the 3:55 pacer sign in front of me.  I was hooked, I was smitten, I lusted over this new goal.  All went well until mile 20 where I was dropped from the 3:55 group.  I tried to regain control of my day yet eventually I could no longer keep up with the four-hour group.

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 (Even the greats have a day when things went wrong)

4.  I went cheap.  I knew I needed gaiters.  I looked at the simple design and thought, I can make them and save a few bucks.  I ran 20+ miles trying to keep the sand, rocks and dirt from gathering in myself made product.  In my misdirected attempt to be creative, to save a buck I constructed an ill designed, poorly fitting gaiter that did not keep debris from entering my shoes.  This poor design also collected sand under the sole of my running shoe.  What a painful mess…

5.  Cheap socks…will let you down.  In the early morning hours of my race day, I tried to sneak out of our bedroom with awakening my wife.  In my ninja mode I snagged a pair of socks from the draw and put them on.  Advance forward to the starting line of a 50-mile race when the gun went off.  At around mile two something in my right shoe felt off.  At mile three I could feel my heel riding against the back of my shoe.  At mile 3.01 it felt as if my sock was halfway off of my foot.  I pulled over to the side of the trail, sat down in the dirt and removed my shoe to find….my sock halfway off my foot.  I fought those ill fitting socks all day long.  First the right then the left then the right…..50 miles of cheap sock fun!

Running and racing can be fun when everything goes right.  Running and racing can be a pain in the butt when things go wrong yet these bad days teach us a lot and make the best “war stories.”

What has been one of your worst case race events?


100-Miles in 24 hours – Ultra Marathon Frequently Asked Questions


100-Miles in 24 hours – Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve run four 100-mile races, and at times I ask myself why?  There’s something about the number(s) that draw me.  100…it’s a simple number but also one that is complex. The number 100 to me represents a new frontier, a barrier and a significant milestone.  24-hours like 100-miles is a significant number.  It may simply be a measurement of time but it is also so much more.  24-hours in a simple fashion represents life in its purest form.  In a 24 hour period like our lives we are born into the day and in 24 hours our physical life on the planet will end.  100-miles and 24-hours to me are linked together to form the almost perfect measurement of our (my) endurance and I guess that is why I’m drawn to run 100-miles in one day.

I tried to capture the drama and the challenge of running 100-miles in my book Running to Leadville.  The tale is more about life than running.  The story is centered on the main character who after his parents’ divorce finds his life full of rejection and heart break.  Then he meets her…

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The story also highlights the personal struggles of running a 100-mile race, and not just your run of the mill 100-mile race, but the iconic ultra-marathon known as the “Race Across The Sky.”

Available on Amazon or SIGNED copies off my blog.

When other people hear about my 100-mile races, I’m nearly always asked the same questions?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you keep moving?  You simply do.  Forward progress is the name of the game, no matter how bad you feel, how bad your feet hurt or how messed up your stomach is…you simply never stop putting one foot in front of the other.  I stay in the moment. I stay focused on taking that next step.  For 24-hours, that is the only thing that means anything to me.

IMG_6201(My first 100 mile finish, Umstead 100, 2014)

Do you eat?  Yes, you have too.  I start refueling almost from the first step.  I eat small bites of good energy fuel/food all day long.  Unlike a car’s fuel tank that you can fill up when empty, if you wait until your empty to refuel, you will lose your stomach.  More 100-mile runs end on stomach issues then muscle issues.  I add small amounts of fuel all day to try and keep my tank full, or as full as it can be.

What do you eat?  I eat a lot of simple foods, power gels and easy to consume drinks.  I pack food bags with items such as, apple sauce cups, bagels with peanut butter, power bars, gels, and miniature candy bars.  At the aid stations, I look for boiled potatoes, salty snacks, PBJ, cookies, and warm chicken broth.  And if they have pizza BONUS!

Food selection during a 24-hour run or 100-mile race is very personal.

gy100picturedunes1(Graveyard 100, 2015)

Are you running the whole time?  I’m moving “nearly the whole time.”  During my last two 100-mile races, Umstead 100 – 2017 and Yeti 100 – 2017, I spent very little time off my feet.  The only time I was not moving during Umstead was when I stopped to get some small rocks out of my shoes.  Total time off my feet may have been 15 minutes.  During the Yeti 100 I was never off my feet.  The only time I was not moving forward was while I was at the aid stations getting my water bottle filled and selecting my food items for the next leg of the race.  With food items on hand, I eat on the go.

As for the running part of this question…the elite level guys I believe are running near the entire time.  Most amateur 100-mile runners use some form of run/fast hike program.  During the Yeti 100 I started the race utilizing a 6/2 ratio of run/hike.  Run 6 minutes/hike 2 minutes.  This cycle lasted the better part of 35 miles.  The hardest part of this ratio was keeping up with my watch.  For the majority of this I was running with a friend who had his watch set up with reminders of when to run/hike.  When we separated at 30 miles, I had to keep up with the time intervals on my own.  As I got tired I needed something simpler (math wise) to keep track of on my watch.  I began a 5/5 run/hike ratio.  This lasted until night fall when I could no longer see my watch (around 60 miles).  Then I ran/hiked by feel.  I ran as long and as hard as I could, hiked until I caught my breath then did it again, and again and again.  I finished the YETI 100 in 22 hours 47 minutes and 45 seconds.

539997_10212672620318758_3861652004417893958_n(My second Umstead 100, 2017 with my stellar crew, Elise and Andrea)

Do you change shoes?  No.  If it’s not broke don’t fix it.  For all four of my 100-mile races I ran in one pair of shoes and socks.  Although I have seen other runners do multiple shoe/sock combo changes mid race.

How long does it take?  Most 100-mile races have a 30-hour cutoff.  I’ve finished all four of my 100-mile races have been Sub-24 hours.  The event winners normally finish around the 15-hour mark depending on the challenges the course offers.

Umstead 100, 2014:  22hr 51m 05s
Graveyard 100, 2015:  23hrs 05m 05s
Umstead 100, 2017:  21hrs 36m 36s
Yeti 100, 2017:  22hrs 47m 45s

IMG_20170930_055539731_BURST000_COVER_TOP (1)(Yeti 100, 2017 with RD Jason)

How do you keep running all alone, in the dark, at night?  I stay in the moment.  If I start thinking about the what if, how far I still have to go, or the things that go bump in the night I might just lose it.  I focus on moving forward as fast as I can.  I do not let my mind wonder much further then the next step on the trail.

Do you have a question about running 100-miles, comment below and I’ll be sure to answer it the best I can.