Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Finishing February Strong

I got out for my first run post 30 Dark Miles yesterday and felt OK. Now with 4 running days remaining in I continue with my training struggle and hope to finish the month of February strong. My goal mileage for this month was a measly 120 miles and currently I am sitting on 82, trying to see just how close I can actually get. It looks like the weather is going to cooperate, now ita a matter of seeing if my legs and endurance will cooperate in helping me get there. In my monthly re-cap, soon to come, I'll be recapping the last 5 months of mileages as well as the last few weeks to simply lay it all out there. I'm trying... motivation is absent but my goals are clear.

The Pittsfield Snowshoe races are coming up quick and I'll be starting the month of March off with 50 miles on a pair of snowshoe. It should be an interesting and painful adventure. Plenty of training miles plus a trip to California for Spring Break all loom ahead. These workouts are going to be key in getting me in shape for the McNaughton Park 150 miler in April. I am having to rely on a lot of past levels of fitness to carry me into that race and hoping to get as close to prepared as I can looking to survive the distance. It's been a very rough winter, I wish I had more people to run with.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

30 Dark Miles

Something just didn't feel right about the Kancamagus run, so I altered the plans and moved the run to the Seacoast of New Hampshire, opting for a safer more feasible route. The participants are at such varying levels of fitness and readiness, myself included, that I felt like running the Kanc might not have been such a hot idea. That combined with a pending snowstorm looming on New England, I knew I was making the right decision for the group. In moving the run, we lost Tom Parent. Adam is dealing with ITBand issues so he needed to pull out. And Nate, who had pulled out of the Kanc Run previously, decided he would show up late to the new route and join us then. The new route is a 10 mile loop through the streets of Dover, Durham and Madbury New Hampshire. We parked our cars at a Store 24 which acted as the Start/Finish location and served us well. To start Loop 1 with me was Josh Robert, the kind soul who accompanied me for 50 miles on the Run Across New Hampshire, most of which then was at night. This was out first "run" together since then, and it was appropriate that this run would also take place at night, under frigid temps and an overcast sky.

Loop 1: Miles 0-10
At 9:12pm Josh and I took off from the car at a modest clip, catching up on how each other was doing as of late. The temp was around 27 degrees. Josh was heming and hawing a bit and experiencing a bit of heartburn from the dinner he shoveled down before showing up. We talk about school, relationships, life and where we thought the fountain of youth could be located. Not really, but it was great to have company on my usual training loop through town. It gave me a chance to act as tour guide while we fought the enormous amount of traffic still out on the roads. We ran down busy Stark road and through the big cemetery (spooky at night). On to Garrison and then Spur as we race adjacent to the Bellamy River towards where it empties into the Great Bay. As we got closer to the bay, we marveled at the warm breeze that came up off of the water and how warm it felt. We hopped onto route 4 and crossed the bay as cars whizzed by one by one. Its a busy night on the seacoast and we wondered how many drivers we drunk. We turned onto Piscatiqua Rd/Back River Rd and took time to stop and walk the steeper hills that lead us back towards the finish. Josh is still having issue with his stomach and some heartburn and he starts toying with the idea of "booting." He hangs in there strong as we negotiate the hills quickly and make our way to where Nate was to meet us for the 2nd loop. As we made it back to the Store 24, Nate was waiting for us. We greeted him and then Josh went over to the other side of his car at which point he upchucked his dinner rather proudly. Poor guy puked out of his eyeballs. NASTY! After refreshing with fresh fluids, gels and whatever else we needed, we were ready to take on loop #2.

Loop 2: Miles 11-20
Te three of us took off. While Josh and I started to slow down a bit and tried to continue our moderate pace, we got to observe Nates current level of fitness. Nate is rebounding from the foot injury that stopped him from Running Across New Hampshire and I can verify that he is rebounding well. It was almost like Nate could have run circles around us. It was great to have his company as the usual jokes started pouring out as we laughed our way around the 2nd loop. Traffic is starting to slow down and become less numerous but there are still plenty of cars out at 11pm. BUt as we strolled down Spur Rd, we saw no cars at al on this section and the night was growing more peaceful. That is until we got onto Back River Rd again. Tw cars came screaming down the road and they were filled with either dunk or stoned college kids. With their window's rolled down and the clock striking midnight we hear, "What the hell are you doing!? It's late... GO TO BED!" We got a huge laugh out of these clowns as they drove down to route 4, tool their turn and from afar... continued to yell at us, "It's LATE!!! GO TO BED!!" And soon they were gone. Josh is feeling much better stomach wise, but now his hips are starting to bother him, poor guy. He is beginning to wonder if two loops is going to be enough for him. As he and Nate talk it up on the hill section, I feel my stomach drop and I come to a screeching halt in the road.. in a split second, I run off into the woods to take care of business. DAMN it's cold. The temp is dropping ever so slightly and I feel it now that I've stopped. The guys continue up the road and wait for me just ahead. I catch up with them and we run the last 2 miles together to finish loop 2.

Loop 3: Miles 21-30
As we return to the cars, Josh mulls over his decision and makes the right one in deciding to call it a night after 20 miles. His hips are killing him and there is no sense in pushing the button on a training run. We wish him well and Nate and I take off into the night for one last loop. As we take off up the hill, we talk about what kind of a stand up guy Josh really is and how well he did tonight in cranking out the 20 miles that he did. And then.. conversation was come and go as we ran mostly quietly into the night. It's just after 1am now. There are virtually no cars on the road aside from a few here and there. The temp has dropped to 20 degrees and we feel its frigid infliction upon our faces. Nate was cold at the cars and Josh lent him his fleece coat. Now Nate is overheating a bit but its better than being cold. We laugh it up as usual as we make our final round. My feet are killing me from the pavement and the kink in my neck is starting to hurt. I'm tired, and ready to call it a night. As we reach mile 29ish.. we see a truck come hauling ass up the hill in front of us and as it gets closer, he actually swerves to try to hit us. You've got to be kidding me. We give him the one finger salute and hustle down the road to our finish. 30 miles, at night, in February... complete.
I'm very pleased with how the run went. My training is still not back to normal but I'm slowly getting there trying to piece a few days together during the week. I just need to get my daily mileages up. But for 30 miles, I did much better on this 30 miles then I did with the Boston Prep x2. I felt better before, during AND after. I think things are starting to come together again finally.. but I'm pretty far behind on my training for McNaughton Park. The goal at McNaughton is to simply survive at this point. The only issues during the run were my feet hurt. I was pretty capable of turning the legs over on the late loop and even pushed myself running up the final hills on the loop. The bottoms of my feet are getting hard and rough again which is good as well. Really glad I had some company on the loop, it always makes it a lot more fun.

Next up... Pittsfield Snowshoe 50 Miler

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Whats Up First?

The Pittsfield PEaks Snowshoe Marathon is just a few weeks away (March 7th) and as I have the previous two years, I'll be one of the racers doing laps on Joe's mountain in the tiny little Hamlet North of Killington, VT. Only this year I'm bringing a few other crazies with me to take the course on not once.. but twice. You got it.. a Snowshoe 50 Miler!

It's not too late to sign up if you're interested. They also have a 6 mile and a half marathon option and the race caters to all abilities. Just come on out and enjoy the day in the snow as there is PLENTY out there in Pittsfield. We'd love to have you;

If you're interested in joining us for the 50 Miler... please contact me via e-mail (there is a button on the right) and I'll fill you in on the details. There is currently 4 of us taking on the ultimate snowy challenge!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Yes I have a Facebook page....hell, who doesn't? If you don't, you're obviously in the minority and if you do, you know what it's all about or perhaps you're at least still learning about it. Even though I have a page, I invite you to learn this... facebook is freakin' annoying! It amazes me the types of things people will blast up on there for the entire world to see. Facebook is the Dewey Decimal system for humans. A way for us to catalog our entire lives in one concise place. But here is the thing... every picture you place up there... it's no longer yours. It belong to facebook and always has. And if you try to delete your account, your info and stuff stays up there.. so in a way.. you are now a prisoner to the program.

What amazes me the most about facebook and the folks who use it religiously, is that these are the same people who bitch and moan about "Big Brother" watching over them and how it is an invasion of privacy. Then they turn around and tag every possible picture of them ever taken so that, yup, big brother... and ANYONE out there can follow their hum drum little life. I'll admit it, there are some pictures of me on facebook that I care not for the entire world to see. I don't want future employers to see them, I don't think I'll ever be able to run for president. nor could any of the rest of you out there using the website. You can untag photos of you... but then your friends get pissed at you, retag it.. and of course the photo stays up there forever.

Then there is the status change. I'm guilty of it myself, broadcasting my every feeling and thought in a simple little status change, "John is: hating facebook." Sometimes I know when a friend is sick, going to the bathroom, drinking coffee, driving their car, hating work or is sick as a dog. I know everything there is to know about anyone. And even though it's supposed to be a great way to stay in touch with old and new friends.. I find that I don;t have the need to when all I can read is their damn status. The same goes for wall posts. You post on my wall how we had a wild time last night... and now the ENTIRE WORLD knows about our wild night. You tell me how much this weekend rocked... the whole world wants to know the rest, "Hmm.. wonder what they did." Its the famous MRs. Jones syndrome where the neighbors know everything... yet in real life.. we lock ourselves away form our neighbors and tend to turn ourselves into hermits.

What the big deal Sherpa John? You have your own blog! Yeah.. but at least with my blog I'm in control. I decide what gets posted here, what comments are kept for others to read.. on facebook... my control is limited and its really freaky. Just think about it before you put anything up there for the public to see. You never know who is watching!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Moats and NO Badwater

(Photo Courtesy: Dave Dunham)

Sunday, February 15, 2009
Conway, NH
South, Middle and North Moat Mountains
10 Miles = 5 Hours 45 Minutes

I got an e-mail about a week or two ago asking if I'd join my friend Alan on his hiking of the Moat mountains in Conway, NH. This would not be any ordinary hike, Al was finishing hiking a peak-bagging list and it is one I was certain not to miss the celebration for. We all met up at 9am at the Diana's Bath's parking area and then carpooled over to Dugway Rd where our hike would begin. Temps were all ready in the mid to upper 20s at this point in the day and the sun was shining brightly. It had been a long time since I'd hiked with many of these folks who had shown up. Local legend Kevin Tilton, mountain running legend David Dunham, a cast of other characters and Alan himself who was about to finish hiking to the summit of all 176 three-thousand foot peaks in New Hampshire.

Al was getting antsy and ready to roll in the parking lot, our group was all ready behind time wise. The only one with any worry on the time was me, as I had to make it back to Manchester for my mother's birthday party by 5:30. So at some point around 9:15am, we took off into the woods at a brisk pace and climbed towards the ridge line of the Moat Mountains. The trails are hard packed frozen tundra. I'd call it snow but it hardly qualifies anymore. I'd call it sleet... because that's what it looks like but I doubt it qualifies as that either. Its just frozen garbage really. But it was so eloquently shimmering in the days rising sun. As a group we all climbed up the first open patches of of the summit dome of South Moat and soaked in the rays of sun as we negotiated rotting snow. We were afforded with amazing views to the south and east as well as of Mount Chocorua, the most photographed mountain in the world. (I heard this tid bit somewhere)

After taking in the views and the company on the first peak, I was given the job of finding the trail over to the middle and North peaks of our adventure. I'd like to say that the going was easy but it wasn't. Bare rocks made for hell on our snowshoes, and when there was snow, it was heavy, wet, sticky and in some places... deep. I feel into a few spruce traps along the way and the trail was extremely hard to follow in places. But for all the trouble we endured in negotiating the ridge, we were treated with such magnificent views in all directions of the White Mountains. It was a gorgeous day, superb views and a motley crew of hikers.

As we made our way from Middle to North, I enjoyed catching up with Al after not having talked to him in quite some time. We discussed our usual topics and got a few chuckles out of each other. I'm really glad I decided to show up to support him in his quest. As we reached the summit of North Moat, we all wished all a hearty congrats on the finishing of his list. I wanted to stay and celebrate but I needed to boogie down to the car. Time was winding down and we were a bit behind on our hike after having to slosh across the ridge searching for the trail and breaking it out. I shook hands with those I had met and friends of old. Waved good bye to some.. took off my snowshoes and bounded off of the summit in search of the trail. The trail down was a hardened mess of post holes and backcountry ski tracks. It wasn't hard to follow, but it was rather difficult to negotiate. I post holed in a few places, thought I broke my knee in others all the while trying to scurry my best down the trail to the car so as to not be late for tonight's festivities.

As I scurried down the trail I enjoyed some time alone wishy washing through an amazing birch forest. I rubbed my hands across every tree I could touch and smiled at all the rest. I felt great, rejuvenated and as much as I loved hiking with the group, I loved the short time I had alone just as much. I came upon the Diana's Baths area which is now nothing more than frozen waterfalls and the faint gurgle of rippling waters below. It was so cool to see and hear. As I made it back to the car, I hoped in and took off quickly for Manchester
Happy Birthday Mom!
I had a great time with my family at the Olive Garden in Manchester.
Finally, I found out today that I DID NOT get into Badwater. I am not surprised as I'm sure there were hundreds more qualified runners than myself. It was however fun to have my name and application thrown into the mix. I'm not sure when in the future I'll try, but now it's time to finalize my plans for the year and get going on training for them... more to come in the coming days on my plans for 2009 and my goals!

Onward, upward and forward

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thawing out a bit...

I'm loving these warmer temps. I ended up going out for a run last night around 10pm, it was definitely a warmer night for a change with temps hovering around 30 at that hour. Today temps are topping out around 55 and will continue to rise. Warm winds will blow in from the south bringing temps to around 50 tomorrow accompanied by some driving rains overnight. It is my hope that some of the trails in Massachusetts will open up so I can get some trail running in. While it is not entirely impossible, it's not really looking good either but I am hopeful. Trails are what I need to get back on track. Either way, I ran in shorts today as temps topped out at 55! Woo Hoo!

Things are getting better by the day in my battle with depression. My medications are all working in sync now and I'm finally getting some sleep. I find it interesting that during my darkest days I stopped dreaming, and now that I am feeling a bit better, dreams have returned... weirds ones at that. I'm still not feeling entirely like myself again but anything is better then where I was. So the struggle continues to get out of this funk and eventually off the meds... it's going to be a long journey, but I'll get there.

Post Surgery Appointment
I went to the doctor today for the final post surgery appointment. I got to OK to keep running (and healing) and look forward to the many miles I'll be putting under my feet in the coming year. Unless anything unfortunate happens, I don;t need to return to this doctor again and I'm excited to be moving on.

The wait on Badwater continues... I find out on Monday if I was accepted.... then I have the daunting task of trying to figure out how to pay for it all... yikes!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ultra Results

I want to have a better organized place for my ultra-results and provide links to each races report. So here it is, it will be edited over time. To read a report, just click on the races name and you'll be taken to that races report.

7.25.05: Wakely Dam 50K (NY): 7:57

6.24.06: Rachel Carson 35 mi.(PA): 8:04
7.22.06: Wakely Dam 50K (NY): 7:02
9.24.06: Vermont 50 Miler (VT): 10:32
10.21.06: Breakers Nifty 50 Miler (RI): 10:05
11.18.06: JFK 50 Miler (MD): 9:47

1.6-7.07: Disney's Goofy Challenge 39.3 mi.(FL): 5:59
4.14.07: McNaughton Park 100 Miler (IL): 34:15
5.27.07: Pineland Farms 50K (ME): 5:35:15
6.9.07: Pittsfield Peaks 50 Miler (VT): 16:02
6.23.07: Pemi Loop Challenge 50K (NH): 10:14
7.21.07: Vermont 100 (VT): 23:19
9.1.07: Grand Teton 100 (WY): 30:44
9.30.07: Vermont 50 (VT): 10:06
11.10.07: Stone Cat Ale 50 Miler (MA): 10:34

4.11.08: McNaughton Park 150 Miler (IL): 33:33 (100 Miles)
5.17.08: Massanutten 100 (VA): 32:09
6.14.08: Pittsfield Peaks 50 Miler (VT): 12:20
7.19.08: Vermont 100 (VT): 23:37
9.14.08: Pisgah 50K (NH): 6:31
9.28.08: Vermont 50 Miler (VT): 8:58
10.19.08: The Run Across New Hampshire 124 Mi: 31:50

3.6.09: Pittsfield Snow Ultra (VT) 52.4 Miles: 15:07
4.12.09: McNaughton Park 150 Miler (IL): 36:15 (100 Miles)
5.16.09: Massanutten 100 (VA): 33:35
6.6.09: Pittsfield Peaks 50 Miler (VT): 12:27
7.19.09: Vermont 100 (VT): 23:27
9.27.09: Vermont 50 (VT): 10:14
10.17.09: The Run Across New Hampshire 118.5 Miles: 34:26

3.27.10: Barkley Marathons (TN): 22 Miles 12:25
5.8.10: McNaughton in Vermont 100 (VT): 7:02 (30 Miles)
6.5.10: Pittsfield Peaks 50 Miler (VT): 11:22
6.26.10: Western States 100 (CA): 28:29
7.16.10: Vermont 100 (VT): 28:58
8.21.10: Leadville 100 (CO): 18:00 (61 Miles)
9.26.10: Vermont 50 (VT): 10:53
10.23.10: Sullivan Expedition 125 Miles (NH): 25:00 (61 Miles)

3.5.11: Pittsfield Snowshoe 100 (VT): 32 Miles 22:22
7.17.11: Leadville Silver Rush 50 Miler (CO): 11:33
8.20.11: Leadville Trail 100 Miler (CO):
9.17.11: Steamboat 50 Miler (CO):

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Boulder Loop Trail

Sarah entertained me with a very cool weekend in North Conway. As we made our way into town Saturday night and checked into the Holiday Inn Express, we had a chance encounter with David Breashears in the hotels Lobby. David is the producer of the Everest IMAX film that played nationwide in IMAX Theaters. He is also spoken of in John Krakauers Book, Into Thin Air. It was definitely a thrill to share some earth if him for a bit.

Sunday we headed over to the Kancamagus Highway where we parked at the Albany Covered bridge to head out on a short 3 mile hike of the Boulder Loop Trail.

Temps had soared into the lower 50's here in the great white hell... er... ah.. North. We could have hiked in short sleeves except the winds were a changin'. Winds were shifting from the South to the North and with the change came snow showers and dropping temps. In the hour and a half it took us to hike the 3 mile loop, the temp dropped some 10 degrees. We parked the car and strapped on our snowshoes and enjoyed a nice leisurely stroll of the Boulder Loop Trail. I was amazed at how little snow there was in the north country in comparison to what we have down on the seacoast. Its been a tough winter for sure.

As we made our way up past the initial boulder fields, along the banks of the Swift River, we were in awe of the ice hanging off of the many cliff sides.

Making our way to the first initial set of ledges, we admired various animal tracks the included deer, moose, bobcat and some hawk/eagle feathers that we found.

We continued on our hike making our way to the ledges of the boulder loop and enjoying the gorgeous views while the wicked Northerly winds continued to usher in a new shot of frigid air and some more winter-like snow showers. We enjoyed some spectacular views of Chocorua, Passaconaway and Whiteface, Various peaks to the east and the valley to the west. It was a gorgeous day to be in the mountains and it was great to find a wonderful place to reap the benefits therein. Peace, quiet, tranquility and savage nature. The mountains are good for the soul, and while many of our friends are stuck peak-bagging the 4k's.. we found the same solace in a tinier place with all the same benefits. I cannot wait to return to these mountains over the next 2 weekends!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Run The Kanc '09

What: Run The Kanc '09 Fat Ass
When: Saturday, February 21, 2009
Where: Conway, NH to Lincoln, NH
Distance: 35 Miles of Pavement

That's really all there is to it. No fees, no awards, no aid, no wimps. This is a pure 100% "Fat Ass" run (originally scheduled for Feb 7th) that will take place weather permitting.

The Highway
The Kancamagus Highway is a designated National Scenic Byway. The Kancamagus Highway, or colloquially "the Kanc," is a 34.5 mi (55 km) long two-lane road that runs, east and west overall, through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Part of New Hampshire Route 112, it is generally considered one of the most scenic drives in the region.

The highway, which opened in 1959 after two dead-end stretches of road were connected, runs from the Pemigewasset River in Lincoln, and along the Swift River from Kancamagus Pass, at an elevation of 2,855 feet (870 m), to New Hampshire Route 16 in Albany. With the exception of brief stretches at either end, the road runs through the White Mountain National Forest.

The Run
26.2 Miles up gradual uphill to the top of Kancamagus Pass followed by a quad pounding 9 mile downhill to the finish in Lincoln. This run is remote and runners must be prepare to be self reliant. There is no aid along the road and except for at the start and at the finish, there are no operating business's, homes or buildings.

This is a NIGHT run starting from Conway at 9pm. It typically takes 7-8 hours to complete the journey to Lincoln. It is a group run, not a race. Runners should plan to stick together. This run will take place only in non-snowy(rain) conditions. Cold is not a factor unless windchill advisories are posted.

If you are interested in joining us on this run, please contact me by e-mail at

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Truth is...

It's amazing how depression casts this ominous cloud over an individual. It is something that you cannot possibly Describe to anyone, because they'll never understand it without actually experiencing it for themselves. It's as if a storm rolled in from off on the horizon and sucks your life into its main vortex. Spins around for a few months, spreads a little rain... ok.. a lot of rain, lot of wind and you are the destructor. Its not until the storm departs, the clouds lift and the sun returns that you can truly see the damage that your "storm" has caused.

The truth is, I caused a lot of destruction, made a lot of bad choices and changed my life in many ways that I otherwise probably wouldn't have. There is a lot that I regret, but some that I can see has happened for a better outcome a better life. I trust now that the storm clouds have parted in my life and the sun has come out and the view of the destruction I have caused is neither good nor bad. But.. I can tell you that the flowers are blooming.. the flowers in my life are all of you. You who come here to read. you who try to understand, who leave comments.. you who help inspire me who help lift me up when I am down. There are many of you and I am thankful for each of you. Unfortunately.. there are still some storm clouds that keep floating over me and the rain comes down in thunderous booms.

The more I see the storms coming, the more I understand how the rain falls, the better I am at opening my umbrella, wearing the rain gear and singing in the rain. I know many of you who come here wondering what the hell I am talking about in posts like this. I'm sorry I do not feel the liberty to fill you all in. Just know that those who did me wrong.. they read.. and they KNOW what they did. They know. And no one had to tell me.. I figured it all out on my own.

I met with the psychiatrist again today. I am experiencing some minor side effects to my medications. But we don;t want to change anything up just yet. Things are working and the side effects aren't even really noticeable. So.. onward and upward we go.. continuing to fight the good fight, trying to push these storm clouds away and weather them when they are here. Life is always changing.. the story and plot thickens... sadness is replaced with sheer anger... never good. I have a lot to work through still but I am making strides... now if I could just get running.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

January Recap

Boston Prep x2

What can be said about a month where so much mentally and emotionally has gone on. Not to mention the fact that I STILL have not been given the OK by my doctor to even START running again post surgery (Dec 30th). What I put into January was a solid month of survival. Survival from my own meandering mind and survival in a frigid landscape. Here in New Hampshire we are living one of the top 3 snowiest winter's on record up to this point. Frigid temps have a solid grip on the region and another 6-12" snowstorm is bearing down on us for this coming Tuesday. There is no end in sight to this great white hell they call winter. My depression has left me unmotivated to run and the fact that my doctor has not even given me the OK yet... could have spelled trouble. However, I trust that I am progressing nicley both physically and mentally and I got out there when I could for 96 Miles. Here is how the month looks.

January Re-Cap
Miles Run: 96.1 Miles
# of Runs: 14
Avg Miles: 6.86

Month Starting Weight: 158 Lbs
Month Ending Weight: 161 bs
Weight Change: +3

Race Results:
Boston Prep x2 - Unofficial fat ass run held in Derry NH. 33 Miles in 5:27:35

Looking Ahead:
Right now the February plan is to get back on track and try to bang out a 120-140 mile monthly effort. We'll see how it all unfolds in hoping that mother nature cooperates a bit so I can stay off of the indoor track. Either way, it's time to right this flailing ship and look ahead to what the 2009 Ultra-Running season holds.