My Ultra Marathon Year in Review – 2018

2018, was a year about stepping up to the next level in running.  Big goals come with big risks, big rewards and the results can be the lowest of lows.  Yet in the end, I look back and marvel at where my legs have taken me.  I ran along the beaches of the Atlantic coastline and the heights of the Colorado Rockies.  I scored unexpected personal records and left part of my soul broken and battered in the dirt of a small mountain town.  I made friendships that will last forever and I cried tears of failure and success all alone.

In one word, this was an “outstanding” year.

2018 GOALS/RESULTS:
Yearly Mileage: 2500/2506.7 Done
Avg. Monthly Mileage: 200+/208.9 Done 208
Avg. Weekly Mileage: 50+/Short 48.7
Set Monthly PR 250+/Done 258 July
Set Week PR 62+/Done 77
Complete the Leadville Trail 100/DNF at 60.5

Other assorted PR/Milestones
Set # of running days per year PR / 251, 2018
Most elevation in a month // 21,484 feet gained, Dec 2018
Most elevation in a year // 178,844 feet gained, 2018
# Sub-four hour marathons // 3
Set a marathon PR // 3:52:28 Atlantic City

JANUARY: With the temperatures hovering around 9 degrees a group of brave and crazy souls ran the 6th edition of my Ultra Crazy New Years 50-mile Run at William B. Umstead state park, in Cary, NC.  What has become an annual training run and tour of the Umstead 100 course was born out of training for my very first 100-mile race back in 2014.  In 2018 we had five finishers…

2018 Finishers
Darryl Benton
Jillian Breitwieser
Elisa Cellan Schasse
Andrea McHugh
Amy Clark

Leaderboard
Brian Burk (x5, 250-miles)
Andrea McHugh (x3, 150-miles)
Elisa Cellan Schasse (x2, 100-miles)
Joshua Deuermeyer
Eric Haselby
Randall Woody Woods
Darryl Benton
Jillian Breitwieser
Amy Clark

By the end of the month, I was running under the sunny skies and warm temperatures of Clearwater, Florida at the Clearwater Distance Classic scoring my 5th sub-four hour marathon.

FEBRUARY:  I had plans to travel to Phonix, Arizona, to meet some online friends and run a marathon.  That all changed with a visit to the Vets and the sudden passing of our miniature schnauzer Emmy Lu.  From the lows of loss to the highs of sharing miles with a friend, I was able to run 42-miles with Karl M. during his birthday run.  And there would be cake.

Happy Birthday, Karl…

MARCH:   I was able to return to the Myrtle Beach Marathon Expo for a book signing.  I so enjoy meeting and talking with runners at these events.  Its great to hear their stories of overcoming, challenging themselves and finding the value of that next mile in their personal running journey.  Thank you for sharing your stories with me.

Badwater Cape Fear Ultra-Marathon – How long could a group of new and old friends run together…51.4-miles.  This race had it all, sand, surf, wind, darkness, laughs, joys, new friends and old.  At the end of the day and the end of the beach, we finished together.

APRIL:   It’s hard enough to run a 100-mile race…now add in the worst weather conditions you could imagine; rain, snow, ice, wind, and bone-chilling cold.  I considered dropping out at the end of every 12.5-mile loop.  AND I was only pacing my friend Andrea for 50-miles…she had been out in that mess for four laps when I joined her for the conclusion of an EPIC 100-mile race.  Andrea got it done and I was so proud to witness the grit and determination that she displayed to finish that race.

One thing you can count on in April is the Virginia 24-hour Ultra Run Against Cancer and team “Run For Life” bringing their A-game.  Under the new leadership of Andrea, our team of running friends once again captured the overall team title with a combined 904-miles.  Our team of ultra crazies took the team award for the 5th time in 6 years.  Personally, this would be my 10th Virginia 24-hour Ultra Run Against Cancer and for the first time, I was able to keep going the entire race finishing with a total of 95-miles.

MAY:  Becoming an annual trip, Michele and I headed north and took on The Cleveland Marathon Challenge Series.  Michele walked the 5k and 10k races while I ran the 8k and the marathon.  With no real goals in mind, I set off on Saturday to enjoy the ride and see what Sunday would bring.  After a rained filled morning and easy flowing early miles it was around mile 16 when I decided a sub-four finish was within reach.

We will be back in Cleveland in 2019 to once again run the Challenge series.  COME RUN with me and get $10.00 off when you use my special discount code BB2019

JUNE:  I traveled back to the Virginia creeper trail, the little mountain town of Damascus, Virginia and the Yeti Trail Runners race called the Dam Yeti 50.  A shorter version of the Yeti 100  the 50-miles between Whitetop mountain and the finish line did not lack for fun.  9 hours and 33 minutes of trails, snakes, cows, humidity, jokes and stories, bridges, waterfalls and an ever ending bond brought home an awesome weekend among friends.

For all the “camps” I missed as a kid, attending the Leadville Race Series Run Camp made up for it all.  One of the ultimate experiences of my life, I spent, three days exploring the Leadville Trail 100 Mile race course while making friends and taking in the beauty of the Rockie Mountains.  There really is nothing like reaching Hope pass for the first time.

JULY:   The summer heat moved into North Carolina and I hit the trails of Umstead focusing on long runs.  With the challenge of Leadville on the horizon and not living at altitude I banked on the effects of heat training to help face the challenge of running above 10,000 feet.

You can pick up the book that started my calling to the mountains, Running to Leadville a story that will capture your heart, uncover the drama of a 100-mile race and a life that help you believe in Love.

AUGUST:  The month was all about Leadville and I wish I could post a picture of my shiny buckle.  BUT sometimes life does not play out as planned.  All in all the Leadville Trail 100 experience was everything I could ask for and more…I simply came up short.

SEPTEMBER:   Michele and I along with friends Jeff and Kendra headed to Charlotte, NC for a half marathon weekend.  Normally the race is the highlight of the weekend but after the 13.1-miles was covered the real fun and time on my feet began. With shiny finishers medal around our necks we eat, we drank a little, we painted pictures, we rode in a horse-drawn buggy and we walked the nightlife filled streets of downtown Charlotte.

OCTOBER:   Traveling to Atlantic City I got to spend two days hanging out at the expo, with my newest book26.2 Tips to run your best MARATHON (or any race for that matter).  Marathon Expos are always a great place full of excitement and fun.

On Sunday I ran the Atlantic City Marathon with a heavy, yet inspired heart.  Days before the race a friend of ours lost her young son.  In the big picture of life running a marathon truly means little…but it was in a small fashion that I could honor LJ and run #LJStrong.

NOVEMBER:  With 18-years of running behind me you wouldn’t think there would be too many firsts still in front of me.  But there was one…I ran the City of Oaks Marathon as a pacer.  I’ve paced races for friends in the past but I had never been an official race pacer before.  This opportunity came with a lot of excitement and pressure.

What a great experience.  I finished the race slightly faster than the assigned pace goal, which told me I have much to learn about pacing vs. racing.  I hope to make this an annual gig.

For Turkey day we headed out to run the Skinny Turkey Half marathon in Wake Forest.  For 13 miles I got to hang out with my run pal Lyndsey while we worked up the hunger of our Thanksgiving meal.  I am thankful for great running friends.

DECEMBER:   I’ve had good luck with my racing and weather, but 2018 might be known as the wettest running year ever!  Running in bad weather is tough enough for a marathon, 50k…50-miles but when the weather turns ugly during a 100-mile race it can be soul crushing.  The Devil Dog 100 would be hard enough on a good day…throw in a solid day of rain.  It was defeating.

To cap off a record-breaking year I was finally able to get out to Uwharrie National Forest and run a loop of the infamous Uwharrie 100-mile course.  20-miles with 3,680 feet of elevation….and rocks, rocks, rocks, and more rocks.  My tour guide Tori estimated at least 10 water crossings, I believe it was more like 812.

WOW…..unrelenting is a correct description of that place.

I hope you had a great 2018 and wish you an outstanding 2019 and beyond.

What did you learn about yourself while running in 2018?

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