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.