Monday, October 20, 2014

A Leap of Faith



Hard work, patience, and faith.

That’s what it takes to finish a 100 Mile Race. Or, at least that’s what I THINK it takes to finish a 100 mile race. Since I’ve never actually run one. Oh, I’ve done the training. And read the best books on the subject. And spoken to plenty of people who have gone the distance. But, the furthest I’ve ever run at one time is 50 miles - which barely gets me half way!

So, what makes me think I can do it?

Hard work, patience, and faith.

Over the course of the year (and even more so lately) people have asked me how my hundred mile training is going. And my answer is always the same: “I don’t know”. This is the first time I’ve ever tried to do this. I’m kind of winging it. And I won’t really know until the race is over and I can see the results.

I DO know that I’ve worked harder this year than I ever have before, in my previous 16 years of running. I’ve logged more miles and more (and longer) long runs than ever before. And I’ve patiently stuck to my “slow and low” heart rate training, instead of running and racing with my friends - mile after lonely mile.

But, what about that last part? The faith thingy?

Well, as a long-time long-distance runner, this certainly isn’t the first “leap of faith” that I’ve taken. In fact, I’ve taken quite a few. This one just happens to be over the largest “chasm” yet!

The first running leap I took was after I ran my first mile without stopping. For some reason (that I still don’t quite understand) I decided that, once I finished that mile, it was time for me to begin training for the Boston Marathon. Perfectly reasonable, right? What makes and overweight, out-of-shape, newbie jogger think he can run a marathon? One word. …Faith.

The next leap I took was the running of the marathon itself. After training all year, averaging just 25 miles a week and only having gone as far as 18 miles (once) without stopping. I lined up to run the 1999 Boston Marathon. At the time, that 8.2 mile distance (between 18 & 26.2) seemed like a pretty big gap to jump. The race was a slow slog (particularly the last 10 miles) but I believed I could do it …and I did!

13 years later, I ran my First 50 Mile Racewith only one 30 miler under my belt. And, although that 20 mile leap was a sizeable one, it seemed more manageable at the time - based on my 60 mile per week training and my years of endurance experience. And, as it turned out, it really couldn’t have gone any better. Despite not having a clue what I was doing, I felt great the whole way, finished strong and exceeded my wildest expectations!

Now, after only having run 50 Miles, I’m attempting another 50 mile jump to 100. Am I crazy?

Maybe. But in addition to that 50 mile run, I also did another 50 Mile Run. In the heat of the summer! I did four 50k’s. Two of which were on snow! I ran the 30 mile Pemi Loop. Two hours faster than ever before! And I did the 50 Mile Hut Traverse. Staying on my feet for more than 20 hours and more than 20,000 feet of elevation gain! So, I know I’m somewhere in the ballpark.

Plus, if past "blind faith" performance is any indication of future positive results, I’ve got to like my chances!

I’ve completed all my Homework assignments. I’ve done the Extra Credit. And, I’ve Studied as hard as I could. So, with less than a week to go until the race, all that’s left for me to do now is have that faith in myself, in My Team and in my God. And KNOW that it will be more than enough to carry me to the finish.

See you on the other side!


PS. For anyone who's interested, there's still time to donate to 100 Miles For Sam
Thanks!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Taper Time

So far, 2014 has been a very busy year…

I’ve logged 2829 miles through 41 weeks - for an average of 69 miles per week. Or, about 10 miles a day! My weekly average is 9 miles per week more than my biggest year. And, 17 miles per week more than I’ve averaged over the last 5 years. Which works out to one extra long run, every week! Speaking of long runs, my AVERAGE long run this year has been 24 miles.

That’s like running a near-marathon every week, all year long!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dream Team

A few weeks ago I put out the call for Help, and that call was answered…

On Saturday October 25th, I will be running my first 100 mile race. And I’ll be doing so with the help of 7 wonderful people who will be pacing me (in shifts) for the last 70 miles of the race. So basically, from early Saturday afternoon until early Sunday morning, I will have a team of runners whose sole purpose is to make sure I get to that finish line. I feel so very fortunate to have so many great friends who have absolutely nothing better to do than run back and forth with me through the woods.

So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce my “Dream Team” of pacers for the Ghost Trail 100m and a little  info about what makes each of them so special...


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October

"October.  And the trees are stripped bare, of all they wear.  What do I care?”

Autumn is a season of decay. The grass turns brown, the flowers wither, and the leaves fall off the trees. The bright warm days of summer are long gone. There is a chill in the air, a frost on the ground, and a foreboding sense that winter is right around the corner. Traditionally, this time of year is a melancholy one for me. As the weather gets colder, and the days get shorter, my thoughts turn darker – like the days ahead.

This year feels different, though. This year I feel hopeful. And, I’m not sure why.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mine Falls Fifty

When I mapped out my 2014 Race Schedule back in November of last year, I had originally planned to run the Pisgah 50k as my final tune-up race before Ghost Train. However, those plans changed when I became aware of a low-key, 50 mile run taking place on the same day in my “home woods” of Mine Falls Park. 50 miles in Mines?! I gotta be a part of that, right?

Of course, there were other reasons (besides proximity) which ultimately lead me to choose the Mine Falls 50 over Pisgah. And they mostly revolved around a single question: “Which race will better prepare me for Ghost Train?”

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.

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 …