Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Marine Corps Marathon- Another PR is Always a Good Thing

The trip to D.C. for the Marine Corps Marathon was a success. Ginger, YD, and I rolled out of Boone Friday night and made our way up to PA to hang out with my parents for the night. It was great to see them, and YD was psyched to see his grandparents. Saturday morning Mom, YD, and I took a little walk to go find a little coffee to fuel the drive down to D.C. for packet pickup. Glad we got lots of coffee because packet pick up was a Zoo! The lines were insane! I was prepared for a cluster, but I have to say it exceeded anything I could have imagined! It literally took hours to work our way through the lines. I guess I should have known. I've never run a huge race like this. I typically only enter ultras, and you'll never find 30,000 people looking to toe the line at a 50 or 100 miler. There just aren't that many people in the world who are deranged enough for that, I guess. But, we took it all in stride and had a good time with it. That's really all you can do, and this weekend wasn't about just running a race. It was about honoring our fallen brothers and sisters. One of the Always Brothers MCM runners, John Straseskie, is a perfect example of our mission. John was running to honor his brother Kirk, who died trying to save the life of four of his brothers. Check out this inspiring story about Kirk here. I have to say that Kirk's story has influenced me like no other. He truly was a hero. I plan to dedicate the rest of my training this year and my run at the Rocky Raccoon 100 to Kirk. My efforts are only a drop in the ocean of honor that Kirk deserves.

My roommate from the 8th & I and Camp David days, Jeremy Kelly, met us at packet pickup and then we linked up with a bunch of the other runners at the hotel. It was great to see Geoff and Carla and meet some new Always Brothers family members at the hotel. It was great meeting Ken Hickman, JP, Gene and Mary Bryant, Kathryne, and John. They are some amazing folks. Everyone turned in early to get ready for the 5:30 am trip to the start line. On our way, we encountered another maze of lines, but it was lots of fun. We laughed and made jokes about classic Marine Corps hurry up and wait operations.

The start line was like nothing I've ever experienced or imagined. 30,000 people all lined up and ready to put themselves to the test. JK and I made our way to the 3:45 starting corral. We should have gone up to 3:15. I spent the first half of the race weaving my way through the mass of humanity that was making its way through the streets of northern VA and Georgetown. It was impossible to be anything but happy though. I was surrounded by people honoring their loved ones and my brothers. With marching bands, hilarious signs, and hordes of people cheering us on, it was truly an awe-inspiring scene.

I was treating this as just another training run. I was hoping for a marathon PR because that's just how I operate. I'm always pushing myself to get stronger. But, I wasn't really that focused on time. Two weeks ago I ran the New River 50K and PRed that course, so I wasn't sure how my body would react to another serious effort. The main goal (training wise) is to get ready for Rocky, so I didn't want to injure myself. The real goal for the day was to just have fun, honor my brothers, and encourage people whenever I could. It turned out to be a great day because I was able to accomplish all of these goals. Once I reached that halfway point, the crowed thinned out and I started getting after some serious negative splits. Check them out:

My favorite part of the course was a section on Haynes point that had the road lined with pictures of fallen heroes. It was inspiring, and it really put any perceived suffering into perspective. No matter how rough I might feel, it is nothing compared to what these men and women and their families have sacrificed. It as beautiful seeing so many people being honored.

As I rolled into the last 5 miles, I really pushed myself. I wanted to see how hard I could go as I finished up the race. It was so cool to see the Marines and spectators lining the course. My second favorite part of the course was the finish. It was all Marine. At mile 26, the course takes a sharp left turn straight up a hill to the Iwo Jima memorial. It was classic. Oh, you ran 26 miles? You're tired? Suck it up and climb this hill. Awesome!!

The finish of the race was fun. I felt great, and I was happy to beat my marathon PR by almost 10 minutes. The best part though? Seeing my Ginger and my friends at the finish. I was so proud of them. Carla, Geoff, JK, Kathryne, and Ken finished their first marathons in style. JP and Gene set new PR's. Ginger achieved a new marathon PR on a course that was not an easy one.

It was great to see everyone happy and feeling proud at the finish line. Check out Ginger and me celebrating some awesome hardware. She looks like she's at the start not the finish-bad ass!

JK finished in full-on beast mode and looked no worse for the wear.

All in all, it was a great event. We raised lots of money for Always Brothers and, most importantly, we honored some heroes. I'm glad we have some new members of the Always Brothers family. I'm looking forward to our next event in Ohio this Memorial Day. Hit me up if you are interested in joining this great cause. We will have relay teams for the 100 mile run in Ohio. Each team will honor a hero. We will also have some folks who will attempt the full 100. It won't be a race, though. It's about staying together and honoring those who make it possible for us to live the good life.

This week, I've been getting lots of work done at the office and keeping the training rolling. Rocky Raccoon, I'm coming for you!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Always nice to PR on a Training Run- New River 50K

The last few weeks have been really busy at work, but I've been able to maintain my efforts at preparing to chase that Raccoon in Texas this February. I've been feeling strong on daily runs, and I've been enjoying some time on the trails most every day. Yellow Dog has been feel scrappy with the advent of the cool fall weather, so I've been letting him come along on some shorter runs. He is definitely over the distance running thing. At mile 5 he pretty much turns into a parachute dragging behind me. He'll tolerate another mile or so after that, but he's a mile 5 dog these days. And, that's OK by me. I'll happily take 10 more years of the occasional short run with him over a couple of years on long runs.

Last weekend I drove up to Fries, VA to do the New River Trail 50K. It was a fantastic race. The RD (Annette Bednosky) is a bad ass runner and she knows how to put on a solid race. The volunteers were great, the aid stations were well-stocked, and the vibe was awesome. There was a place to park the truck and crash within sight of the Start/Finish and the pre-race communication was top-notch. I drove up after a work function Friday night, rolled into the camp spot around 1 am, climbed in the back of the mobile dog house, and crashed out. Yellow Dog's bed is actually quite comfortable, and I had a great night's sleep. One of my favorite parts of the event is the 8 am start time. There is nothing like being able to wake up at 7:15, eat, get dressed, lace 'em up, and toe the line. It's way more civilized than having to get up at 2 am and start running at 4 am.

The first thing I noticed at the start line was that it wasn't your normal ultra crowd. I was surrounded by a bunch of super-skinnies. There weren't many diesels there looking to suffer for 6-7 hours. Local strongman and Masters' bad ass Doug Blackford pointed out that this race is a lot like a track meet. It was. The field was full of strong marathon runners looking for a Boston Qualifying Time (They have an official marathon split) and a 50K first time or PR. Lucky for me, I never go to a race to race anyone but myself. I'm no speed demon. I'm a grinder who just loves doing long distance. I was, however, looking for my own 50K PR. This race is the course to get one. The old course record was like 3:25 and I think it might have gotten crushed Saturday by someone. Not me though. After taking it on the chin in Leadville, I was hoping to turn this training run into a little redemption, and I was able to do just that. 4:55:58. I beat my best 50K time by 30 minutes. I have to say I'm pretty pleased with that.

I felt strong from the start.  I didn't go out of the gate all crazy though. I like to chat with folks and get into a nice rhythm. As it turns out, Jarheads are everywhere and I spent the first 5 miles chatting with a retired CH53E pilot and his wife who was also a Marine officer. We had a good time telling stories and laughing. When they stopped at the first aid station, I kicked into cruising mode, and got about the business of working towards my goal. One really interesting thing about this race is that it's basically flat. It's railroad grade, so unlike most ultras there is never an excuse to walk. Normally you have some big climbs that you power hike. Not this race. This race is all about keeping the legs churning. No walking needed. It's been a while since I did 31 miles without walking a step, and it felt great. I think it was a great warm up for the Marine Corps Marathon next week. Since that's only 26.2 and it's all road, there will be no walking. Glad I got into shorter/flatter race mode a little early. 

All in all, it was a great day. I got a nasty little blood blister on my toe because I didn't want to stop and clean some pebbles out of my Hokas. No biggie though. It has healed up quickly and won't be a problem. I was happy to get home that afternoon, hang out with Ginger, YD, Mookie, and some friends  (Ash and Lambeth) who were in town visiting. We went for a nice, short hike Sunday and then did a little sightseeing around Linville. It was really nice to hang out, relax, and chill with good friends after the race. I was happy to reach my goal, get a PR, and have a fun day. It was a great confidence builder in the build up to Rocky Raccoon. I took it easy Monday and took Tuesday off. I was back to my normal run today and felt strong. 

I'm looking forward to the trip to DC with the Always Brothers MCM runners next week. It will be so much fun to see Ginger rock out the marathon and see Geoff and Carla reach their marathon goal. Everyone has been training so hard, and I'm excited to see them have a great race day. The fact that we'll be honoring my brothers and raising a little money for Always Brothers is pretty amazing bit of icing on the cake. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

You hear that, Rocky? Raccoon hunting season is in full swing.

Week two of chasing the Raccoon was a pretty good one. I managed to work in four decent runs during the week-- even though work is a bit crazy right now. I wanted to stack up another decent week to build off last week's fun and games, so I had use up a lot of the weekend on the trail. Luckily, Ginger needed to do her MCM training long run on Saturday. That meant we got to spend the day together over in Damascus checking out the sights on the VA Creeper Trail. The plan was to do 16 together and then I'd tack on an extra four at  the end. Well, my math skills are not exactly, shall we say, strong. In fact, my math game is not tight at all. About a half mile from the turnaround (we were doing an out and back with a water jug stashed at mile 5), Ginger stepped off the trail for a second. I think she had to tie her shoe, so I said I'll keep going and we'll catch up at the flip flop. Well, I'm dumb and went a mile or so up the trail before I realized that the halfway point was 8 not 9. Duh, that meant, I had to haul ass to try to catch her before the she finished. I didn't. She was crushing it. She took 4 minutes off her time from when we last ran that 16 mile section. I was pushing it, and still couldn't catch her. Check out these splits:

It was a great workout though. I was crushed by the last two miles. First time in awhile I've done a run and really cracked myself. All in all, it was a great day. Sunshine, good times, a nice 20, and Ginger had a killer MCM training day.

I finished off the week by joining Carla and Geoff for their 13 miler at Moses Cone. I love those trails. It was another pretty day, and fall is coming quickly here in Boone. Running in the cool weather, without crazy humidity made for a great week. I ended up logging about 60 miles. I'm proud of all of the Always Brothers Marine Corps Marathon runner. Everyone has been killing it in training, and I think we'll have a great time in DC in October. Here are my totals for the week of MCM/Rocky training.

Not too bad for this early in Raccoon Hunting season. I'll back it off for the next two weeks. I'd like to do some hiking and let my legs recover a bit before I do my final prep for the New River 50k and Marine Corps Marathon in October. Those races are two weeks apart, so that'll make for a perfect beginning to the real build up for Rocky.

I'm pretty pleased with how my legs have been feeling after Leadville. I've been running stronger than I was before I went out there, and I'm feeling good about the possibility of a PR at Rocky in February. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Raccoon Hunting: Week 1

I enjoyed a couple of chill weeks since I got back from Leadville. I got back into the swing of things at work, processed the trip, and weighed my options for my next racing goals. I promised myself I would wait a couple of weeks before deciding what I'd do next. I kinda did that. I decided to run the New River 50K (Oct 12th) just because the race looks fun and the distance is a reasonable one that I could do just with normal running as I'm prepping for the Marine Corps Marathon with the Always Brothers team that we put together. I've enjoyed joining Ginger for her training runs, and I've been running with Carla and Geoff as they hit their long runs in their training. It's been fun to run with all of them and see how psyched they are with the progress they are each making. Ginger has been running really strong and having a good time. I'm so impressed with how she's taken a great approach to recovering from her injury last winter. I love running with her and enjoying the time on the trail with her. Carla and Geoff have really been an inspiration. Each week, I've joined them for their distance PRs and they have been doing a great job.

Last week, my Raccoon Hunting buddy Jim Cansler called and said he wanted to take another shot at the Rocky Raccoon 100. It was such a great weekend last year, that I couldn't say no. We will camp at the park, watch the superbowl and celebrate my birthday after. Ginger said she'd be happy to crew me and hopefully pace me for a few legs, so that was all the motivation I needed. I pulled the trigger and signed up. That means, that I have kicked off the latest 100 training cycle. I think Rocky is just what I need after Pbville. It'll be great to run a course I know and take a stab at a new 100 PR time. If nothing else, it'll set me up with a good fall/winter of training in case Pbville ends up being a goal for next summer. And, it'll just be an awesome trip.

I have felt really strong on every run since I recovered from Leadville. This week, I hit three strong 7 milers on Mon, Tues, and Wed. I took Thursday off, and did Ginger's long run with her this week. She did great and we had a nice average pace (9:26) for 16 miles- complete with negative splits for the second half. She's a beast! I took saturday off and ran with Geoff and Carla today. I ended up hitting 19 in 2:54 with some serious negative splits on the last 9 miles or so. I was psyched to finish with 8:42, 8:41, and 8:20 miles at the end. I felt great, and think the first week back went great. Here are the weekly totals.

It was a great week overall. I got to do some good runs, had a good week of classes, and got some cool news when I found out that a story on linked to my blog. I'm a sports junkie, and getting a link from the mothership is pretty much the highlight of my blogging career.

I've still been using the Hoka Stinson Evo Tarmacs for my smooth trail runs, but I've been looking for a trail shoe for tech trails to replace the La Sportiva Wildcats I've been wearing for years. The toe box is just too narrow now that my feet have mutated. I had been using the Hoka Stinson Evos, but I got some blisters at Leadville because that shoe just doesn't fit my foot quite right. I like the New Balance Leadvilles I had been wearing, but the sole just isn't grabby enough to be my go to tech trail shoe. If you got suggestions, send them my way. I'm a forefoot striker and I like a low drop, neutral shoe. I've been thinking Altras but I tried on a pair and I'm not sure the toe box is actually tall enough. It's plenty wide, but a little too low. Maybe I just need to try another size/model. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Race Across the Sky-- Well, half of the sky for me... this year anyway...

There really are not too many ways to say it. I got a beat down in Leadville this weekend. No excuses. I don't make 'em. I just didn't have it. I'm not used to setting a goal and falling short, so it certainly was a little tough to take. That being said, I don't feel like my race was a failure. A wise man once told me that as long as you learn from something it's not a mistake. And, I believe that about falling short of a goal. Sure, I'd much rather be telling the story of how I ate some doughnuts Sunday morning using my giant, baller, Pbville sub-25 finisher's buckle as a plate. Hell yeah I would. But, I'm not. The Reaper got me at Hopeless. I didn't make the time cut- got sent home. Well, sent back down the mountain to Twin Lakes, actually. But, I learned from it. I loved it. I reveled in the suffering and the satisfaction of knowing I laid myself bare on that course. I smiled at the beating I took. I'm pretty sure my brothers would be proud of how I represented them out there. I know Ginger, Lois, and the rest of my friends there saw that I gave everything I had, and they were awesome in supporting me. So, here's the story of the day. 

I started off with some excellent words of motivation in my head. Ginger put together a little book for me, much like the one Star made for Darris before Badwater, filled with messages from my friends. Little things, like a reminder to Harden the Fuck Up from Paul Gilman (a little taste of my own medicine there), a solid #chooseyourfriendsbetter from Kramer, and some very thoughtful advice from Brian O'Neill. O'Neill is my firefighter, Marine, literary genius, all around bad ass buddy from the Always Brothers family. He gave me a battle cry of sorts to carry with me for the day: Molon Labe, which basically means Come and Take. This was, reportedly, the reply King Leonidas gave to the Persians when they demanded the Spartans surrender their weapons at the Battle of Thermopylae. As we left the hotel at 3:30 am Saturday morning, I grabbed a sharpie and scrawled this mantra on my hand. 

The scene at the starting line was wild. 800 or so folks lined up and ready to attempt the feat of racing across the sky. At 4 am the gun (literally- no sissy starter pistol) went off and we began shuffling down 6th street towards Turquoise Lake. The first 13 miles ticked off uneventfully. I felt pretty good and made sure I didn't go out too fast. I was still unsure of how starting a race at 10,200 feet was going to feel. When we hit the single track around the lake, I settled in with a group moving a little slower than my planned pace. I was OK with that. I had figured out by mile 7 that going sub 25 was not really a realistic goal for me this year. I just couldn't maintain that pace without my heart rate going too high. No worries, though. I felt good at a slightly slower pace and wanted to make sure I followed the advice I'd been given: Be patient. The second half of the race can't happen if the first half kills you. I made it to May Queen (mile 13.2) feeling pretty good and was happy to see Ginger and Lois, who had everything I needed and quickly got me moving again. 

The climb away from May Queen up Hagerman Pass was much burlier than I had anticipated. The elevation was hurting me more than I thought it would. I felt slow and out of shape. But, I told the mountains to Come and Take and chatted with my fellow runners with a smile on my face. Silently suffering. The views were unreal. We climbed a thousand feet or so and looked back down that lake. All I could think was, "Damn, this place is gorgeous!"I really do love Leadville. The mountains are surreal. 

After the climb to the top of the pass, I careened my way down the Powerline to the aid station at Outward Bound (mile 23ish). Feeling a little rough from the climb, I was a little shaken by the fact that I was so far behind my goal pace and only an hour ahead of the cut off. I was going as fast as I could without blowing up. But, I just kept pushing. I reminded myself to enjoy the day- to enjoy the view. I wanted to take in the scene and remember that this was, as my "sister" Star said, "My Leadville Day" when she alluded to the St. Crispin's day speech from Henry V. I knew it didn't matter what pace I held. The only thing that mattered was that I held the best pace I could. So I did. Through the blazing sun I shuffled along. 

I can't say I really enjoyed the section between Outward Bound and HalfPipe. It was mostly road, and mostly exposed. I'm a trail runner. The scenery was nice, but were WAY too many cars on the road and it was HOT. But, I reminded myself that this was an Ultra and not a day on the beach. If it was easy, everyone would be here. If it was easy, my friends would not fly across the country to crew/pace me. It was easy, my friends would not wax poetic about St. Crispin or King Leonidas. If it was easy, I wouldn't be here because I wouldn't like it. I am a Marine, and I don't like things to be easy. So, I shuffled on. Telling myself to HTFU, drink water, and telling the damn course: Molon Labe. 

I rolled into  the Treeline crew station feeling very bad. I was hot, dizzy, and worried. I had been doing a run/walk combo for a few miles now. I was trying to follow the advice of not going out too fast, and I was losing way too much time. I was less than 45 minutes ahead of the cutoff. "WTF?! How is the happening," I asked myself. I trained my ass off for this, and couldn't understand why I was so slow. But, I perked up a bit when I saw Ginger and Lois. They gave me some much needed fluid, food, and sunscreen. I continued on towards Halfpipe feeling better. 

I got back into a running rhythm for a while, rolled through Halfpipe and started the climb towards the Mt. Elbert water station. Then, the wheels came off. I ate a Cheer Pack and promptly puked. "Shit," I thought, "these things ALWAYS work." Not this time. I was at mile 31 and life was NOT good. I walked for a while, got my stomach settled and distracted myself by talking to my fellow pilgrims on the road to pay homage at Hope Pass. The climb was rough. It seemed to last forever, but I finally hit the water station and began the decent to Twin Lakes. 

And, here the Persian Army of the Pbville course, took a little piece of me. It took the piece that mattered most for my race. I could not run the decent. Even though it was downhill, I would puke every time I tried to run. I couldn't understand it. I was hydrated. I had been eating well for the first 25 miles. I had settled my stomach after the mile 31 incident, but now at mile 37 or so, I was puking every time I tried to run. I needed to make up time. I'm usually a fast descender. I can make up time on a downhill without getting out of control. Not today. To make matters worse, walking down the hill was making my left knee feel like a knife was stuck in it. Not good. I wanted to quit. It's hard to admit that. But, I did want that more than anything-- for a minute. But, I knew that wasn't what I really wanted. What I really wanted was to fight these metaphorical Persians to the end. So I did. I kept pushing on, and I kept trying to have fun in the process. I chatted with folks who were also suffering on the decent and even scored a cold Coors as I approached Twin Lakes from a nice couple who'd come out to watch the carnage. 

"A Coors?! How can you drink a beer in the middle of a 100 miler?!" you ask- with a disapproving look. Yes, A Coors. I don't know why, but it made perfect sense to me. I wanted a beer. I was in a dark place and a beer seemed like a good flashlight. It was. I only drank half of it, and I started feeling better. I wish you could see the looks people were giving me as I rolled into the aid station at Twin Lakes with a water bottle in one hand and a beer in the other. Priceless. 

I was feeling better, but I knew time was not on my side. I told Ginger I was in trouble. I was only 15 minutes ahead of the cutoff entering Twin Lakes. I told her my knee was hurting and I thought I was done. She reminded me that I still had 15 minutes, and I might start feeling better soon. So, I changed my shoes, grabbed my coat in case weather came while I was on the Pass, and headed towards the climb at Mt Hope. 

I did feel better. I started running and the nausea was gone. My knee pain- gone. Wow, Coors is the wonder drug! The river crossing was refreshing and I was buoyed by the fact that I'd made it out of Twin Lakes before the leaders passed me on their way back to town. "Hell," I thought, "they are only 19 miles ahead of me. That ain't bad, really." And it isn't. I have no illusions about how these races go. I'm not there racing anyone else. I race myself and the course. And that race was going great again. 

Until the climb began. Mt. Hope punched me square in the jaw. Check out the elevation profile of the course here (remember the starting point is 10,152 feet): 

The last spike, that's the climb to Hope Pass. And this is where the taking happened. I promised myself I would tackle the trouble that came my way with a cheerful and resolute heart. I promised myself I'd wear the blackened eyes the course would give me with a smile and bounce higher every time I got knocked down. I did the best I could. The climb punched, and I absorbed. I could hardly breathe and each step seemed oddly difficult. The grade seemed way steeper than it really was. I knew the clock was ticking, but I soldiered on. I kept thinking, "If I can get to the Pass in time, I can make it to Winfield before the 6 pm cut no problem. It'll be downhill and I can run without puking now. But, it wasn't to be. I made it a half mile from the Hopeless Aid Station, and at mile 43.5 I was told by a course volunteer to turn back. I had missed the 4:15 cut off for Hopeless. My race was over. Well, I still had to descend the pass. I still had to go 4.5 miles to get back to Twin Lakes. 

It was brutal. I honestly don't remember the last time I set a goal and didn't make it like this. I mean, I've run races slower that I'd hoped, I'd had articles rejected at work, but I have never been cut from a race. I'd never let the metaphorical Persians Come and Take. I had a couple of hours to think about this as I slowly trudged back to Twin Lakes. And here's what I decided. 

They can still Molon Labe. Those bastards didn't really take anything from me. While I went to Leadville with the goal of a sub 25 finish (or at least a finish), I didn't fail. Sure, I didn't reach my race goal. But, that isn't the real reason I run. I run because it love it. I run because it lets me challenge myself- let's me find the ragged edge and look over it without any real danger. It also lets me honor my fallen brothers. Mostly importantly, it lets me see new places, and share them with people I love. Well, I did every bit of that at Leadville. I fought until the clock said I could fight no more, and I loved it all. 

Thanks to Ginger, Lois, Reeve, and Kramer for coming to support me. Thanks to all of my friends and family who sent me good vibes and words of encouragement. Now it's time to get on a place (if we don't miss this one), and go home. I miss my Yellow Buddy and Mookie. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

And once more into the breach we go...

So, here it is. About six months ago today, as I was recovering from the Rocky Raccoon 100, I pulled the trigger on Leadville. I've enjoyed every second of my training for this run-- even the seconds that sometimes felt like work-- especially the seconds that forced me to reach deep inside to keep moving forward. All the hay is officially in the barn. Ginger and I did nice 5 miles in Frisco, Colorado this morning  (9,100 feet), and I felt great! The legs are ready and the lungs are willing.

And now, it's time for the payoff. The prize. Race day. I'm am ready. I have put the time in. I have put the miles in, and I'm ready to enjoy some time on the mountain. It'll be hard. I will go to a dark place, but I will revel in the ability to challenge myself. To feel that rush of excitement when you know you are doing something difficult. And when it gets hard, I'll have lots to help me find my way out of the pain cave. First, I'll remember all the support and understanding that Ginger has given me. She has been great about indulging my love of going on long runs. She has always made me feel good about going out for a run. Second, I'll have the support of the rest of my family and friends who encouraged me and continue to encourage me. Reeve and Kramer are coming halfway across the country to pace me. I gotta put on a show! Third, I'll have the support of my brothers. My Always Brothers family who motivate me to push myself. Most notably, I'll have the memory of my boy Mike Boelk turning himself inside out last weekend as he ran 100 Miles in Seattle for Always Brothers. He and Chris Pratt ran all 100 miles in a little over 27 hours, and it was a thing of beauty. I have never seen someone willing to suffer as hard as Mike did. I have also never seen a group of men and women come together to support a goal like I did last weekend. I watched Dan push himself to unspeakable places to honor our cause. Countless people (I'm looking at you Tami and Barbara) ran more than twice their PR distances. Dan, Paul, Allen, Jim, Tami, Bob, and so many others (many of whom we'd never met) were there every step of the way to support Mike, Chris, and all the runners as we made out way to the finish. My Always Brothers family will be with me this weekend. I'll also be running for Tyler, Dustin and all of his Lima Co brothers, and all those who can't. So, yes, Leadville is for me, but it is also my way of honoring those who make it possible for us to seek out challenges like Leadville.

So with apologies to Edmund Vance Cooke, I allude to and borrow some of his fine words that Brian O'Neill shared with us in Ohio. I look forward to Saturday morning when I head out to tackle that trouble that I've brought my way. When it beats me to the earth, I vow to come up with a smile on my face until I reach the end. I will battle my best and be proud of any blackened eye that the mountains deal me. I will play my part in the world and give everything I have. Then, I will find some more to give. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

One week closer

Another week closer to the big trip to the left coast for the Always Brothers 100 Miles for One Mind (I'll be supporting the boys as a pacer this year). That also means another week closer to flying from Seattle to Denver for the Pbville 100.

This week was another solid effort. I focused a little more on climbing and descending and a little less on mileage (as planned). I still worked in some decent mileage days with decent elevation gain. The totals for the week are nothing eye popping, but they make a lot of sense to me. I didn't want to push too hard after last week, but it ain't time to taper (insert wry smile here) yet.

I felt a little tired the Monday and Tuesday, but bounced back and started feeling strong by Wednesday, which seems about right given last week's totals. The best news was basically zero soreness. The normal ankle/foot pain I have experienced with a high volume of training hasn't been an issue this time around. I attribute that to a smart, steady build up, and to mixing up shoes between the NB Leadville and the Hoka One One Stinson Evo. I also spent a little time this week experimenting with Endurolyte Fizz tabs in my water bottle to take on a good flow of electrolytes without having to drink gatorade all the time. So far so good. I'll keep testing them out next week too. I wouldn't want to invite some last minute stomach problems.

I also had some good company on a few runs this week. Carla and Geoff, who are training for the Marine Corps Marathon, did 12 of my 17 with me yesterday morning in a pretty epic rain storm at Moses Cone. It was nice to have company in some nasty weather. Misery does love company. 12 was the long run so far in Carla & Geoff's training program and they are looking strong. Don't tell them, but they actually went 12.6. Hey, bonus mileage right? Anyway, the sun came out for the first time in a while today so Ginger and I knocked out some miles on Rich Mtn from Trout Lake. It was Ginger's longest run in her Marathon training program, and she rocked it out. So glad to have her back out on the trails having fun.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

One Month to Leadville

Well, I haven't found writing a training blog all that interesting. I can't imagine that it's all that interesting for someone to read either. So, I haven't been doing it. Without trips to cool places to write about and cool pictures, it just seems like all it would be is:  I ran today. It was fun, and it was hard. I ate lots of food, and now I want some ice cream. That would be the daily entry around here. Ha ha ha. But, it's been a while and this week is a training milestone, so here's the latest.

Since I got back from Pbville, I've been running plenty. Lots of miles in Damascus, Boone, and up on the trails at Moses Cone. I've been slowly building from 50 mile weeks to the big 100 mile week. I haven't done a 100 mile week in either of my previous 100 training cycles, but Leadville is a different beast, so I decided to do it this time. Good confidence builder, I think.  Last week was my big mileage week in the build up. Check out the stats:

7 days: 109 miles. Not too shabby. My goal was a 100 mile week, and I'm happy to have gone a little over. I think I'll take the day off tomorrow. I want some ice cream.

I did my 50 miler at Moses Cone on Monday (that's been a standard 100 prep thing for me). It took me a little over 11.5 hours total time (best time in training). My average pace was pretty good, and there was plenty of climbing. I ran mostly solo, but Ginger and Kramer both joined me for a few miles, and it was very nice to have the company. 50 miles is a long way to run alone. Heck, my solo 50K (At Moses Cone and sub 6 hours a couple of weeks ago) felt like a long way to run alone. Even at a race- without a pacer- there are other racers to talk with. The trails at Moses Cone can be a bit lonely. But, that's kind of what I was going for: time to test myself in the dark place. Anyway, I took Tuesday off, and then got right back at it on Wednesday. This was a little departure from my normal 100 miler build up. For the first two 100s I did, I took a week off after my 50 miler. I needed it too. But, I figured I should not do that this time. Leadville will be harder than either of those previous hundies, so I wanted to push it. The crazy thing is that my legs felt fine. I really wasn't even all that sore this time around. Sure, I was tired. I've been tired all week. Running 100 miles in a week takes a lot of time. Running 100 miles in the mountains (on trails) in a week is tiring. But, it was a fun week, and I have to say I'm feeling good about my chances of hitting my goal in Pbville. I want some ice cream.

Next week, I'll still be logging lots of miles. I won't start the taper (bleh- I feel like a triathlete using that word) until the very end of the month. (And really, I'm gonna refuse to call it "tapering"because I'm going surfing) Mostly, though, next week will be about climbing and descending. I think I have plenty of miles on my legs, and now I want to spend a week really beating up my quads to get them ready for the descents in Pbville. I'll hit the Profile Trail at Grandfather Mtn, maybe some miles at Black Mountain, and lots of time at Rocky Knob part (awesome Mtn Bike trails in Boone).

Soooo, that's it for now. Big ups to my buddy Darris Blackford who rocked out Badwater on his 50th birthday this week. Check out his blog. If you read it, and you should (it's good- he's a bad ass), you'll see his advice saying your goals out loud so it'll be harder to quit. When I read that today, I decided I'd dust off the keyboard and write at least one more blog entry. Ok, I'm going to eat some ice cream now.

One more thing, contact me if you want to run the Marine Corps Marathon in October. Always Brothers is a charity partner and we have a couple of slots left. Deadline is August 2nd. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Leadville Training Trip Wrap-up: A little bit of hope and Winfield

Today was my final day to run out here Leadville before the big day in August, and it was a good one. I woke up feeling good. I was excited about the chance to access the climb to Hope Pass from the Twin Lakes area. The weather wasn't looking very cooperative, so I got moving earlier than I planned. I slurped down some "Super 8 Elixir" (nice call, Ginger, for coming up with that), grabbed a peanut butter bagel, and hopped in my sweet rental car and headed out. I was greeted by a nice view at Twin Lakes.

 On the way to the trailhead, I ran into a cool couple from Breckenridge and chatted them up looking for beta on the trail. They were out for a mountain bike ride but were happy to help out. They said that I'd likely get shut down by snow very quickly on this side because so much of it is north facing. They suggested I drive up towards Winfield and access the trail at Sheep Gulch. The idea being that the south facing side of the pass would have melted more. Armed with some new directions and a new plan, I happily said thanks and got moving. The weather was looking a little ominous.

The road to Winfield isn't exactly friendly. It was slow going in the rental. The last thing I wanted to do was get stranded because I broke the Chevy Cruze. I was really wishing I was in the Tacoma (aka: YD's mobile dog house). I arrived at the Sheep Gulch trailhead, looked at the clouds, and decided to get moving quickly. I was pretty stoked to be finally getting this crucial part of the course under my feet. My main goals for this trip were just to see how things were laid out and see how the altitude would feel. But, I was also really wanting to get a sense of how this crucial section would compare to the hills at home. I started power hiking up the climb, and was pleasantly surprised. It sucks. But it doesn't suck as bad as I thought it would. I am certain that it will feel a whole lot different with 50 miles on my legs, but the most important bit of knowledge was this: I live in a great training ground for the climb at Hope. It's similar to how it feels going up the Profile Trail at Grandfather. The gradient is similar and it's similar in techyness (that's an industry term. ha ha). I thought going up: I can do this. If I'm patient on my way to Hope, eat well, and hydrate I'll be OK. It was a huge confidence builder, especially since I still have months to train.

I made it just shy of halfway to the summit before the snow turned me back. Just over a mile in this is what I was dealing with:

I post-holed up to knees through a few sections before it finally just wasn't going to let up. Oh, and it was snowing. Just a little bit, but snowing. I decided that it was silly to keep going. I was slipping and didn't want to risk getting injured up there. I was a LONG way from any kind of help. It was as exposed as I've felt in quite some time, so I headed back down. I knew I could still get some decent miles in by taking the trail  all the way back to Winfield and then running the road back to the trailhead. Check out this view from the decent.

Amazing, eh? I got back down to the trail junction that goes to Winfield and enjoyed that section. It's rolling but mostly uphill to Winfield.

The clouds were looking worse and worse, and thunder was rumbling a little too close for comfort, so I kept moving and tried to push it down to the old town and the road. I was very happy to see Winfield when I got there.

It was starting to rain and getting cold. No worries though. I knew the car was just a couple of downhill miles away. I also know I will be a whole lot happier to see that place in August. It'll mean I'm halfway done.

All in all, it was a great week out here. I logged some decent miles, and I felt great doing it. I was able to figure out a lot about running out here, and I think I'll be able to put together a solid pacing plan based on what I did this week. This trip really helped me know for sure that I can have a great race. I'll need lots of help from my pacers and crew, but I feel good about it. Now, I'm all packed up and ready to head down to Denver in the morning to catch a flight home. I enjoyed the trip, but I am ready to be home! 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Clear trails in Leadville- Not the course, but it'll do

I woke up feeling pretty beat this am. I don't think it had much to do with the altitude or the miles this week. 40 miles in 3 days is solid, but not really enough to leave me feeling beat down. I think I was just a little bummed about not being able to run much of the course. Add in a little bit of missing home and a lot of solo miles lately and motivation can get sapped a little bit. BUT, I've pretty devoted to the goal of having a good day on the course in August. I'm reminded of the difference between discipline and devotion. Discipline is instant and willing obedience to all orders (That's what my Senior Drill Instruction taught me). It's also doing what you know you have to do even if you don't want to and nobody is watching. Devotion is doing something out of a love for the actual thing. The love of the experience and what it means. This goal means a lot of things to me.  First, just lacing up the shoes and doing this race is a pretty big goal for me. I don't do a lot of races. I normally like to just do long runs with my buddies and enjoy the fun of suffering with friends. Leadville, however, has always intrigued me. It's always just kind of been out there as this thing that's supposed to be a really hard race-- a chance to really test yourself. I have no illusions of actually being competitive here in August. For me sub 25 will be a huge accomplishment. I just want to test myself, enjoy the scenery, and share a great day with the people supporting me and everyone on the course. I also really want to have a good day, reach my goal, and be able to add the Lville 100 to the list of things Always Brothers had done to honor our fallen brothers. I really hope to be able to raise the Always Brothers Banner at the finish. All those things got me up and out of bed this morning. A little Super 8- (not so super) coffee got me going. Then, I headed downtown to hit up Cookies with Altitude for a bacon, egg, and cheese bagel. Sitting in the sunshine chowing down on a killer (in lots of ways, right) breakfast sammich, reading a little Gatsby, and chugging some gatorade greatly improved my mood and motivation. I should have added a Red Bull to the mix. Don't know why I didn't think of that! I've been neglecting that sweet nectar lately.

Since the road to Mosquito Pass was still snowed in, I decided to hit the Mineral Belt trail to get my miles in today. I didn't realize it would be so pretty. The views were pretty spectacular, and I enjoyed looking down on town from the trail.

I also didn't realize the first 6 miles would trend uphill and hit 10,600. I was a nice surprise to get that much elevation gain in today. I hopped on the trail at 9,500, so that's not a bad gain for six miles.

 I did a lot of hiking for the first few miles. I was just feeling a little sluggish, and decided that it would be OK to work on the hiking uphill for a while. After the summit, I enjoyed the long, slight downhill grade back to town.  I added some miles around town to make sure I hit an even 14. Despite my early slow slog up the hill, I managed to make sure the overall average pace was sub 11:40. My avg HR for the day was the lowest of any of my runs out here so far, and that HAS to be a good thing. I didn't manage to beat the rain, and I got drizzled on for the last few miles. It was chilly today. The weather here is volatile. The day started out nice- sunny and warm. I saw some clouds moving in before I left the hotel, so stuffed a jacket in my pack. I would have needed it if I had stayed out much longer.

After the run, I stretched, showered, and chilled for a bit before heading down towards Twin Lakes to try to find the section of the Colorado Trail the course will hit to head up Hope Pass. I think I might have found it, so that will be on the menu tomorrow. I'm hoping to get in 10 miles and bag an even 50 for my four days of running out here. More than half of tomorrow's effort will, hopefully, be hiking a big climb. We'll see if I can actually find the trail. It looks like there are some twists and turns leaving Twin Lakes that could be dicey. Either way, it'll be a fun last day out here. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Leadville Training Trip Day 2 or In search of non-snow covered trails.

I woke up feeling good this morning. No ill effects from the altitude or yesterday's leg stretcher. I grabbed some Super 8 coffee (did I mention that it's not so super?), and headed out in search of the trail around Turquoise Lake. I jumped in the rental car and rolled out to the Sugar Loaf Dam where  you can access the trail that takes you to May Queen.
 The lake is still frozen and, sadly, the trial is still covered in snow. I drove out to May Queen Campground to get a feel for what the aid station will look like and to try to find the start of the next section. The campground was mostly free of snow, but all of the surrounding trails were still buried. I decided to head back to town, stop in the Leadville Race Series storefront to get a map, and then pick out a section to run today since the snow was harshing my chi on running the first leg. I also wanted to try to get a better idea on how to find the elusive "boulevard" stretch that I found out I wasn't actually on yesterday. I got a map and some beta on how to find Mosquito Pass, which I heard is a good facsimile of some of the bigger climbs on the course. I have pretty much given up on running most of the actual course since it all seems to covered in snow. I haven't totally given up yet. Now that I have a good map, I'm going to head up towards the Fish Hatchery and try to find some access to the higher sections tomorrow afternoon. I'll run in town somewhere first and then hope to do some hiking up there later. I brought gaiters. Sooooo, anyway. I decided I'd run 10 miles along the lake on the road, and then hit Mosquito pass after for 8 miles or so of climbing and descending. The run along the road was scenic and I got 10 miles in feeling good the whole way. I walked some of the hills because I figure I'll be walking most of the uphill sections on race day. I was happy with an 11:30 avg for the ten miles since it had some good elevation gain.
 You can see the snow still piled up on the sides of the road. Once you get off the road, there's lots of snow in most places.
 I drove up to the area for that climb on Mosquito pass, but I got shut down by snow again. My little rental car isn't exactly good for this kind of exploring, but no worries I'm just here to get used to running at altitude anyway, so I drove back to town, refilled my hydration pack, and jumped on the greenway loop and knocked out another six miles. I felt pretty good the whole way. As I got about 3 miles out of town, the clouds started threatening to dump some cold ass rain on me. Lucky for me, the 3 miles back to town were downhill. I ran my fastest miles of the trip and felt pretty solid. I beat the rain back to town, and I was happily stretching back in my Super 8 palace as the rain pelted the ol' rental car down in the parking lot. Check out these clouds and the view from the last few miles today.

With two good running days under my belt out here, I'm feeling good about running at altitude. I have been able to maintain my normal pace on the flats and downhills. The climbing is a little bit of a different story, but I don't think this race is going to be about speed. It'll be a test of patience and will. I think I can handle that. I'll step up the hill training at home and work in some more hiking to get those muscles ready. But, before that, I have a couple more days out here to get some good training in-- snow or no snow. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Training in Leadville Part 1

I had a smooth travel day yesterday, and made it to Denver in time to have lunch with my Uncle and Aunt. It was great to see them. It's been a couple of years since we've been able to hang out, and it's always great to see my Godfather. We talked some baseball and football (he's a Broncos fan, so I had to bring up the Ravens ha ha ha). After lunch, I made the trek from Denver to Leadville. I was pretty tired when I rolled into the Super 8, so I made taking a quick nap a pretty high priority. Then, I took a little walk downtown to see the sights and start getting used to being at 10, 200 feet.

All in all, I felt pretty good. I had a little headache when I got to town, but that could easily be explained by not sleeping well Thursday night and getting up at the crack of dawn to get to the airport. Either way, a little Vitamin I, a lot of water, and a nap took care of it.

I woke up this morning and hit the continental breakfast (The Super 8 needs to tighten up its breakfast game), and took a walk downtown in search of some maps to plan my run for the day. Cookies with Altitude in Leadville has their coffee and donut game in solid order. I was stoked to get some good coffee and chomp a couple of tasty donuts to get the day rolling. After that, I did a little more sightseeing before lacing up the Hokas.

The views from town are incredible. Mt. Elbert, Mt. Hope, and Mt. Massive dominate the skyline. Looking up at Mt. Hope is a little daunting. I'll have to climb that sucka twice. Shiver! It'll be a nice little sufferfest. But the key will be not to think about that. The only step that matters is the next one- not the one you have to take in 10 hours or the one you took 4 hours ago. Little chunks. Like we used to say in Boot Camp: "Just take it Chow to Chow and Sunday to Sunday." Breaking things in to little parts and being in the moment will get you through.

For today's jaunt, I decided to run from town and check out the first leg of the course. I cruised down 6th Street, hit McWethy, and then wandered my way to the Boulevard. I wasn't sure I was on the right track, so I stopped and asked some nice folks who were putting up some firewood for next winter. Side note: winter isn't over here. They call it Spring, but it's a lot like "Spring" in Boone. Still cold! Hell, it snowed on me twice yesterday, and I woke up to flurries this morning).  People are are really friendly, and they don't look at you like a freak when you're out training for a hundy. People here get it, which is very cool. Anyway, I cruised down the Boulevard heading out of town and enjoyed some slightly downhill miles that I knew wouldn't feel that nice on the way back to town. My legs felt great, and I'm pretty happy with how my lungs were holding up. I keep cruising towards Sugar Loafin' Campground. Once, I got there, I wasn't sure of where the powerline was, so I just wobbled around for a mile or so to be sure that I'd hit 10 miles before I got back to town. I'm hoping to get a better race map from the folks at the Leadville 100 shop in the am. My legs felt great on the return to town. The long uphill grade wasn't steep, but I felt it. I did feel stronger once I was headed back to town though. I was able to maintain pretty close to my normal average pace at a normal effort level, so I'm really pleased with that. Big confidence booster for race day. All in all, it was a good warm up day. If I feel good in the am, I'll push it a little harder and run a longer stretch. I'd like to find the route to the May Queen aid station and be sure I get to run all of that. It'd be great to do an out and back on the first leg tomorrow. That would make for 26ish, which would be a great day. We'll see how I feel- and how the trail looks. It may be snowy. We shall see.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A solid week and a strong finish

Another week of training is in the books. This week was my first 50 mile week since Rocky, and my legs are feeling great. I made each day count, and knocked out a little over 50 in 4 days of work. I started with a good 10 miler on Monday and followed it up with to good 7s on the hills on the house loop. Saturday brought cool weather and light rain- perfect conditions for the New River Marathon in Todd. I treated the race like a normal long saturday run. Figured I'd go out, cruise the flats, hike the climb, and cruise into the finish planning for a 4:15 to 4:30 time.

It was an early start to the day. When the alarm went off at 5:15 and it was raining, I was cursing my decision to do the marathon instead of just running one on my own later in the day. But, Ginger got coffee going and was in awesome Crew mode getting me fired up to get in a good run. It was chilly at the start but so pretty out in Todd. I had some good friends to run with, and I spent the 13 just running along, chatting with them, and meeting new folks on the course. I even ran into a guy from Linconlton who grew up with a couple of my buddies from the Recon days. Pretty cool, eh? What a small world! I think his name was David, and it was his first marathon. He ran along with Elissa, Andrew (another first timer), and me through the first 13 miles. As the road kicked up and we got into the big climb, Andrew slowed down and Edawgy, David, and I powered up the climbs in ultra mode (hiking). I felt great going up the climb. All the hill work has been paying off. We flew down the backside of the climb and then settled back into a 9:15ish pace for the next few miles chatting away and enjoying the scenery. It's worth mentioning here that I was wearing the Hokas since most of the course was on the road. They were fantastic! My feet felt great and my legs weren't feeling beat up at all. Those things are worth every penny I spent on them.

At mile 20, I looked at my watch and figured out that I could PR and get in under 4 hours if I picked up the pace. So, I decided it was a good time to stretch the legs and get a little hard effort training. I kicked the pace up and started running 8-8:40 miles for a while. That felt good so I started trying to stay really close to 8. My lungs were feeling great, and my legs were feeling even better so I kept it up and started picking people off along the way. As I got into the last mile, I knew sub 4 would happen, and I kicked it into higher gear. I was happy to see Ginger and YD at the finish. I'm always so happy to see them!

 So, I blazed through the finish line to go say hi.

 I even got to see my buddy Bobby Cordell at the finish. Our friend Julia was there too--with cookies. You know I LOVE chocolate chip cookies! Ginger had a big smile and a protein shake all ready for me, so I was a happy guy!

It was a great day, and I'm pleased with the way my legs felt on the flats and the climbs. Check out the negative splits here. The rest of the day was spent hanging out with good friends. Ginger, as always, made sure I had everything I needed, and seeing her at the finish was some awesome motivation. After we rolled back to Boone and ate some pizza, we chilled out for a while before going to a dinner party with some of her peeps from work. Dinner was awesome, and we even had time for a nice little hike to stretch the legs out. All in all, it was an awesome day! So, another good week of training has come and gone. I'm feeling ready for a week of training in Leadville. I think it'll be cold there. It's been snowing, so checking out the big climb at Hope Pass might be pretty interesting. Stay tuned for a report from Colorado.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Moving closer to the goal and a little backstory.

Another solid week of training is in the books, and I'm feeling a little stronger with each run. Last week was another good week that ended with a solid Saturday effort. I was planning on doing 15-20 over in Damascus and figured it would be another solo day. I got a pleasant surprise Friday night when Kramer (a few beers in) said he would be up for joining me for part of the run. K has been a great training partner for the last couple of years, but he has been dealing with injuries lately. He will be pacing me at Leadville. That dude is without a doubt one of the finest off the couch athletes ever. He can takes weeks at a time off, and still go knock out 20 miles like it's his job.

We hashed out a plan, and he met me at Camp Z Saturday morning. Originally, he was going just run the first 6 with me, drop me at the AT trialhead and run back to the trailhead and then head home. He figured 12 with the freedom to walk on his own for some of the last six would be good enough for the day. Smart guy. I ended up deciding to take advantage of having someone to run with, so I just turned around with him and we cruised to the 10 mile point. Then, I made it a speed workout for the last six back to my truck, which I had left in town. The speed workout was solid! Mile 16 was a 7:30 pace. I'll take that. I doubt I'll see a single mile that fast in Leadville. I'll be in trouble if I go that fast even once. But, it was nice to stretch the legs. After the run, K and I threw down on some pizza at the Blue Blaze Cafe. I was HUNGRY! It was sooo good! I love pizza.

I figure this is a good chance to share a little backstory in case you've missed it at some point. I've been running distance since I went to grad school in 2007. My buddy Reeve got me into it. We'd just go out for stupid long trail runs for fun. I didn't really get into ultras until my Marine buddies and I decided to run 100 miles to honor our friend, Tyler Swisher, who was killed in Iraq. You can check out a documentary made about our first run at We decided in the fall of 2010 to start a non-profit called Always Brothers. You can check out our website Since then, we have done two 100 mile runs and raised over $100,000 for the families of Marines and Sailors killed in Combat. This year, we are doing our third 100 in Seattle, WA to benefit PTSD research. I will only be doing support and pacing this year because Leadville is the following week. Leadville has been a personal goal of mine, and I think it can help us raise awareness to be out doing more mainstream races once in a while. So, in Leadville I'll be running for myself, but I'll also be running for Always Brothers and all of my brothers (and sisters) who have paid the ultimate price defending our freedom. No politics here. Just honoring my family.

It helps me when I'm tired while training and racing to know that my efforts are serving a larger goal than just my personal desire to see where I can push my body.

This week will be my first 50+ mile week of this training cycle. I knocked out a good 10 on the house loop here. The hills felt good, and I'm looking forward to the New River Marathon on Saturday. Thanks again to my Ginger and all of awesome friends for supporting me, training with me, and indulging my love of running.

Yellow Dog says hi to everyone. He's chilling under the table, chewing a rawhide, and enjoying the life of a happy dog. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Slowly but surely my legs are feeling stronger and stronger. I recovered well after the 18 miler a couple of weeks ago, and stacked up some good miles last week. I hit up the hills around the house on the regular all week in preparation for another Saturday sufferfest over in Damascus. After a leisurely morning kicking it around Camp Z (complete with breakfast at Sharpie's), Ginger and rolled over to Damascus. She was on her way to a little overnighter backbacking trip with Yellow Dog, so she dropped me off at White Top in the VA Creeper Trail. From there, I breezed down the trail to Straight Branch where I refilled my water. I headed back up the Creeper to the AT trailhead at and began the climb back up onto the ridge. That section of the AT, which heads back south to Damascus, is mostly runnable with a few climbs that'll get the ol' heart rate up. There are not too many good views, but here's one of them:
I arrived back Damascus around mile 21 and then headed back up the truck at the Straight Branch parking lot. Total mileage for the day was a solid 25. I didn't eat nearly enough, so I was feeling a might bonkish (as Mac Brown might say). But, that's OK. I needed a little suffering to get used to what it's gonna feel like on longer runs. This ain't about strolling in the park, right.

I took Sunday off. Spending the day cutting grass and doing a little bouldering was a nice change of pace. So far, this week has been spent on the hills around Camp Z. I'll knock out another 20ish jaunt on the Creeper/AT on Saturday and then take it a little easy next week. I'm going to run the New River Marathon next saturday to try to make myself push the pace a little bit. Then, it'll be off to Leadville the following week to train on the course there.

All in all, I'm feeling great about the training so far. My legs are holding up to getting the mileage back up to normal. I still have almost 4 months before the big day arrives in Leadville, so I'm feeling confident that I can get ready in time. Time will tell.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rebuilding the Machine

I have been slowly building the milage back up over the last few weeks, and I've been pretty happy with the results. My legs were pretty beat up after Rocky in February, and I know Leadville is gonna require some serious mileage weeks later this spring/ summer. With that in mind, I didn't want to get too crazy too fast. So far, the approach has been working. I've increased the normal daily run to 7 with some solid hills in the mix. There are two painful climbs on the loop by my house that have been getting easier each day. Last weekend I knocked out a solid 14 miler with some climbing on the AT. Yesterday I bumped it up to an 18 miler that had about 2500 feet of elevation gain, most of which was on the AT. I was tired at the end but felt great. Still plenty of life left in my legs at the end. Today, was a nice 5 mile hike at Gentry Creek over by Mountain City, TN. Still feeling good after that, but I'll bet the climbs on the house loop will hurt in the am.

I have been running in La Sportiva Wildcats for the last couple of years, and they have served me pretty well. Lately, I'd been noticing that my toes didn't have enough room on long runs, so knew it was time to either go up a size or try a new shoe. My buddy, Bobby Cordell is a huge Hoka One One fan, so he talked me into trying a pair of the Stinson Evo Tarmacs. They look goofy as hell, but they have been great so far. I've also been wearing the New Balance Leadville shoe for a couple of weeks now. I use the NB's on trails and the Hokas on the road and flat trails. Seems to be a good combo so far. I wore the Hokas for the last 4 miles of yesterday's run, and LOVED them. When I came off the AT and got to my truck on the VA Creeper Trail, I busted out the Hokas for the return trip to Damascus. It was crazy. I felt like I was running on air. It still feels odd to run in something other than the La Sportivas, but I'm willing to try this out to save the feet (legs and ankles) as I prep for Leadville. We'll see what this week brings. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It's been a while since Yellow Dog has had the blogging bug, so he told me to go ahead an take over for a while. We've been living the good life here in Boone for the last year or so doing lots of adventuring and a lot of training for long runs. Yellow Dog has retired from distance running since his knee surgery a couple of years ago. He still joins me for the occasional short run (5 miles or less), but he has been my faithful hiking companion and he can still hike with the best of them. He's been doing a lot of hiking/hill training with me in the backyard as I've been starting to get ready for my next big race: The Leadville 100. I've spent the last 6 weeks or so recovering from the Rocky Raccoon 100. Training for Leadville is going to be a new beast. Up to now, most of my ultra running goals have just been meeting the goal of making the distance. With Leadville, I really want to excel and see where I push myself. I feel like this race is really the "soul surfing" of ultra running. It's a race for grinders. It is a race that rewards enduring suffering, and I really like that. With all that in mind, I've been slowly kicking off my training over the last two weeks and will kick it into high gear over the next few weeks.

I've decided to try my hand at a little training blog, and YD told me to go ahead and use his blog for a while to help me document my training and help me keep track of my thoughts as I prepare. So, for the next few months, my friends, I'll be blogging about my training here.

If you've found this blog or you're a friend who's followed YD's blog for a while, I hope you'll enjoy reading about this journey to see what's possible in the mountains. Because, for me, that's what distance running is all about. It's a time for me to just be. To think about nothing and everything. To turn ideas around in my head, and to get a break from thinking about work and day to day stuff. Mostly, it's a way to explore the woods, explore my limits, and be with my amazing friends who support me by pacing me, crewing me, and running with me as a I train. I also want to start this blog by saying how much I appreciate my friends and family who indulge my running habit. I know it takes a lot of time and I devote a lot of travel time to running when I could be visiting family or friends in far off places. Thank you for understanding- even if you don't understand the drive to run distances like these- I appreciate your indulgence.

So, that's it for now. Short and sweet. I'll be back soon with the first training update. As always, I'm running for my fallen Marine brothers. I hope that my running serves the higher purpose of raising awareness of the sacrifices being made for us by our Military. Every run I do is in their honor and I hope you'll check out the website for Always Brothers . Take a minute and check out the site. If you can spare a few bucks make a donation. If not, please help us spread the word.

Thanks. Hope you have a great day. Semper Fi and Semper Fratres.