Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mindset Makeover

Those of you who know me, know that I am not a patient man.  Particularly when it comes to running. I started running in 1998 and my first road race was the following spring when I bandited (sorry, not sorry) the Boston Marathon! So, yup. Zero to 26.2 in less than a year! If that’s not an impatient (stupid?) runner, then I’ve never met one!

For a while, my impatience served me well. Pushing me every day. Trying to finish my next training run faster than my previous one - every single time out. It worked well and I got quick, quick. But, after a while it began to wear me down and burn me out. So, I soon realized that if I wanted to keep doing this “running thing” long term, I’d need to add easy days to my hard days. This has worked for me with varying degrees of success.

Over the last 17 years, I’ve had my ups and downs with running. Most of my road race PR’s are from late 2008 / early 2009. And, since then, it’s been a real struggle trying to get back to that level of fitness. Always while pushing the envelope of patience, which (when combined with age) resulted in a series of prolonged set-backs and injuries.

So, this year, after battling the hands of time to a draw, I decided to flip the script and start running ultras. I figured, “If I can’t get any faster, then I’ll just go longer!” Unfortunately for me, my impatience is a real liability in ultras. Having patience can mean the difference between finishing, finishing strong and lying on side the trail in a fetal position. So, I’ve REALLY had to focus on keeping those impatient demons at bay.

What does that mean, really? Well, this year, it means instead of running ALL the road races on my running clubs schedule, I’ll just run a couple. Instead of running ALL the club track workouts (which I love), I’ll just do a few. And it means, instead of hammering ALL my longs runs, I’ll just pick one or two long races to run hard. Everything else has been slow and steady. Or, at least that’s the "one mile at a time" mindset I've been working on as I build up to my first 100 mile race.

Now, that’s not to say that I’ve been 100% successful in changing all my impatient ways. I have definitely regressed a bunch of times this year. I went out way too hard (in way too warm of conditions) at the TARC 50. I over did it with my Mountain Running, and paid the dearly for it at the Summer Classic 50. So, I’ve had my fair share of lessons learned. And, I think I’ve grown from them.

So far, by adhering (mostly) to my new, more patient, way of thinking I’ve managed to stay injury free all year long. I’ve been able to rack up over 2500 miles – an average of 68 miles per week. And, I’ve been (mostly) happy while doing it. Although, I will admit, it has been a real challenge sticking to the long, slow, lonely runs on the trails instead of running fast and free with my friends. But, I’m hoping all my hard work will soon pay off.


My next big mental challenge is preparing for, and running, the Ghost Train 100 Miler on October 25th. In the training runs I’ve done on the course, both during the day and at night, I’ve averaged somewhere between 8:00 and 10:00 minutes per mile. It’s hard for me to fathom right now, but those easy training paces are 3 to 5 minutes per mile faster than the 13 minute miles I’ll need to average during the 100 miler itself! Crazy.

I have no doubt that, even with all the patience practice that I've had, that it’s still going to be a struggle for me not to give in to the “I just wanna get there” feeling. The temptation is going to be very real, and very strong. But, I know that if I don’t remain patient, particularly in the early going, it doesn’t matter how fast I start, I won’t get to the finish. And that would be a shame. Because, with this being my first hundred, the finish is the only thing that really matters!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Race Specific

I’ve been told by people wiser than me (which is just about everyone) that, with the Ghost Train 100 Miler less than 8 weeks away, it’s time for me to start focusing on “race specific” training. Meaning, I need to try and emulate the conditions I can expect to see on race day in my everyday training so that I can become comfortable with them prior to toeing the line.

So, what does that mean exactly for a race like Ghost Train? To figure that out, let’s take a deeper look at the aspects that make the GT 100 the race that it is...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Crescent Moon

Recently, while taking my dog for an early evening stroll, I saw this...


















 


Which inspired me to write this...


Monday, August 25, 2014

Help Wanted

Exactly two months from today, I will be running the Ghost Train 100 Mile Trail Race in  memory of Sam Berns. Sam was a wonderful young man from Foxboro Massachusetts who passed away on January 10th. Sam suffered from a rare disease called Progeria – which is a fatal genetic condition characterized by an appearance of accelerated aging. Sam lived ‘til the ripe old age (at least where Progeria is concerned) of 17.

Sam’s parents, Leslie Gordon and Scott Berns, founded the Progeria Research Foundation in 1999 and since that time, PRF has been the driving force behind the Progeria gene discovery and the first-ever Progeria drug treatment. They have taken what was an obscure, ignored disease and have developed a globally recognized treatment in just 13 years – an unheard of timeline in the world of medical research!

I will be raising money for PRF and hopefully awareness about Progeria with every mile I run at Ghost Train.  But, I need your help!  No, I don’t need you to contribute to 100 Miles For Sam (although I wouldn’t be disappointed if you did), what I need instead is your time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Drop Dead Legs

Well, I guess it was bound to happen sooner, or later…

When you spend the year pushing your body to the limit, by training for (and racing) ultras, eventually it’s going to push back. And, that’s exactly what happened to me last weekend at the TARC Summer Classic 50m. The race began just fine, but I never really got comfortable. I felt downright awful at around the 12 mile mark, toyed briefly with the idea of just running a 50k and then finally dropped out altogether at mile 20. Logging the first official DNF of my ultra-running career.

At the time, I didn’t really know what was going on out there, I just knew that something wasn’t right. My legs were very heavy and sore from the start. My energy level was low. And, my overall attitude was terrible. Feelings which are normal in the last quarter of a 50 mile race - not the first quarter!


Now, after having reviewed the last 10 weeks of my training log (since my last 50 Mile Race) I know EXACTLY why things went south...       

...Because I am an idiot!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

‘Twill Serve


Robin Williams
died this week. That alone is sad enough, but add to it the fact that he committed suicide and it’s downright tragic. To think that one of the funniest human beings on the planet was so depressed that he couldn’t will himself to go on living is simply unfathomable. Unless, of course, you know anything about depression…


Robin Williams starred in many movies over his illustrious career. But three, in particular, stand out for me.  They don’t stand out because they were good. Or, because they were memorable. Or, because they were funny. They were all those things, and more! No, the reason that these three movies stand out for me is because they were life-altering! They touched me deeply and affected me for years to come!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Full Circle

In July of 2009 I attempted what was, up until that point, the biggest physical and mental challenge of my life – The Pemi Loop. A 31.5 mile run/hike through the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Up and over eight 4000+ mountains with more than 9000 feet of elevation gain. It was my first ever ultra-marathon and I wrote all about it HERE.

5 years later (to the day, surprisingly!), with many miles and a few ultra-marathons under my belt, I decided it was time to give it another shot. So, I headed back to the Pemi, the headwaters of my ultra-running river, to see what I could do    …and the results were rather stunning!

But first, a little history …

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Patience Practice

pa·tient adjective \ˈpā-shənt\ 1: able to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with difficult problems or people. 2: done in a careful way over a long period of time without hurrying.

I
was not very patient at my previous ultramarathon race – The TARC 50m. And I paid for it …dearly. So, I vowed that the next time out, things would be different. As it turns out, The Bear Brook Trail Marathon would be that “next time” and just like at the TARC 50, the weather would be warm and muggy. Perfect conditions for working on practicing patience!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Filling the Void


“Something's missing and I don't know what it is.  No, and I don't know what it is.  At all…”
– John Mayer


Yup, something’s missing from my life. And I don’t know what it is. I do know that I SHOULD feel fulfilled.  I’m healthy.  I’m married.  I have a good job.  And I have four beautiful children.  But somehow, on most days (and even more so now that I’ve reached Mid-Life), I still feel a kind of emptiness inside. A void, if you will. And it scares me.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Don't Try This at Home

"Overcoming Fear” was supposed to be title of this Hut Traverse blog entry.

Or at least, that was the working title for the story I was writing in my head at mile 40 of my 50 mile journey. Then the darkness happened - both physical and emotional. And, I realized that fear is a good thing. Fear is healthy. Fear is what keeps us from doing something stupid…

…like climbing a rocky mountain ridge, by yourself, at night, in howling winds, with 40 hours having passed since last you slept…


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Midway Island

As we turn the page on June (and with it the first half of 2014) I wanted to take a moment to pause and reflect upon the high/low lites of my year so far...

  • I’ve Logged 1791 miles this year for a weekly average of 68.6. My highest ever to this point in the season.
  • I’ve not lost even one day of Training due to injury. Any off days I’ve taken so far have been by choice.
  • I’ve lost 7 pounds this year, with just 3 more to go to get back 185 - which is where I was this time Last Year.
  • I’ve raised nearly $1500 for Progeria Research through 100 Miles for Sam. Not a bad start.
  • I’ve had more than just a Little Fun with my friends. Thankfully, they are almost as crazy as I am.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

AMC Hut Traverse

In New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest the Appalachian Mountain Club operates a chain of eight High Mountain Huts. They are mainly located along the Appalachian Trail on the highest parts of the range, including the Franconia and Presidential Ridges. The huts are situated roughly 7 miles, or "a day's hike", apart. It's been a traditional challenge since the 1930's for strong AMC "Croo" members to connect all the huts into a single 1-day hike. With roughly 50 miles and 20,000 feet of elevation gain, over extremely rugged terrain, the traverse has also more recently become a fun challenge for hikers looking for something beyond the traditional 18 mile Presidential Traverse or 31 mile Pemi-Loop.