Wednesday, July 14, 2010

VT100 Interview: Donny Andreas

Name: Donny Andreas
Age: 43
Hometown: Seneca Falls, NY
Years Running Ultras: 4
100 Mile Finishes: VT100 2009 only finish (Pittsfield Funeral Run - 2008 DNF at 50 mile, Iroquois Trails 2009 - DNF at 50 mile)
Ultra Achievements: 2006 CanLake 50 - Rite of Passage: First 50k finish. I've been wearing big boy pants ever since.

SJ: Donny, thanks for taking the time to talk to us about ultra-running and this weekends Vermont 100.
DA: Hey John. Thank You for actually asking me about running. Usually when I talk about running, it sometimes induces running - I mean my friends and family actually start running away from me. They can't take another conversation about my Born-Again reverence towards the miracle of Glide and the new healthy testicles I have because of it.

SJ: You've been running ultra's for almost 4 full years now, tell us what it was that got you into the sport at age 39.
DA: I had been running shorter distances since the midlife crisis age of 35. I started running in an attempt to control some rampant anxiety issues - you know, dissipate some unchanneled energies. I was automatically drawn to the longer distances as my conditioning developed because I am sort of addicted to long sessions that involve repetition. I like the hypnotic aspect of it, the clear mind, the occasional spark of insight and the beautiful exhaustion that ensues. Ok, John promise me none of this gets back to my overpaid therapist. I'm still trying to make her work for it.

SJ: You've run the Finger Lakes 50's four times now, what is so special about that race to you? What is it that has you going back?
DA: Interesting question because this is a touchy race for me. Confession first: I keep showing up every year because it is the closest ultra from my front door. This is a multi-loop race where you get to decide mid-run, as you are passing through the check-point station, whether or not you will complete just the 50K or continue on for a final loop for the 50 mile. This is an unusual courtesy from the race director but it turns out to actually be a curse. Every year I have unwavering intentions of running the entire course but every year I get weak. I finish only the 50k. And this is a relatively non-technical course with not a lot of elevation. The challenge is completely mental. I suppose that is the allure of it.

SJ: You ran a little race I know very well called Pittsfield Peaks for the second time this year. You finished 17 minutes faster this year over last. What do you attribute to your consistency and your ability to finish faster this time around?
DA: OK, so please note the embarrassingly uncontrolled drama and excitement in my voice...(I just peed a wee bit)...Yes, I really LOVE that race and I LOVE that course. I am a flatlander over here in Seneca Falls and Pittsfield, in comparison, is like an amusement park for me. I am pretty much a control-freak, yes, just like all you other ultrarunners, but this course sort of unhinges my obsessive need to consciously direct my pace, monitor caloric intake and attend to the rest of the items on that long laundry list of things-to-do while running an ultra. For me this run brings out a more intuitive approach. I have to let go a lot more and really be receptive to the terrain. I have to let the run be as fluid as possible and I have to allow myself to be acted upon by the elevation instead of acting upon it - ebb and flow, no forcing. So, yes I did finish this bitchofacourse faster and in some pretty muddy conditions. This was not due to my slop-fest training schedule or my unwieldy pearl izumi trail shoes (crutches would have been faster).
SJ: In the Vermont 100 in 2009, you finished in 26:55, very respectable for a first 100. What will you do differently this year at the race?
DA: Ya, I got people this year - a crew! However, they just think its a mystery weekend of Cosmos and Lemon Drops. So, last year was crazy.. I was a mess before the race. I went by myself with pretty much two water bottles and a heavy waist pack filled with hospital-grade first-aid supplies, convinced I would be performing major surgery on myself every other hour or so. This year, there will be a little more practical organization, a few extra squares of toiletpaper and a lot more personal support. I will still adhere to the "no sitting rule." The downfall is knowing that I finished last year's run while under the intoxicating aura of blissful ignorance; a one-time-only high.

SJ: Do you have any time goals for this year?
DA: If I sub 24 this, it would be a huge accomplishment but time aside, the goal is to have a good, strong run while remaining injury-free.

SJ: Why did you choose to return to Vermont as your second 100?
DA: It gives me a chance to confront the big 100 mile challenge again. For me, there is a lot of physical, mental and emotional stuff in a race that long. It's at the very least a serious mental exercise. I am intrigued by getting myself into trouble and then trying to fight my way out - a little masochistic I suppose but the end result is a growth experience, for sure.

SJ: Do you have a pacer for this years race? Who is it?
DA: Yes, so Mark Boone, my brother-in-law, has graciously accepted the challenge to run a few sections of the course with me in the late hours of the night. I warned him of potential outbursts of surly behavior, my irascible affliction with irritable bowel syndrome and most importantly, he is to understand that 20-minute miles are considered Blisteringly Fast at 2:00a.m. He promised to oblige. Crewman and nephew Eric Davids might be able to help out for a few hundred yards, although he needs prompting that this is not a contact sport. My sister Michele might even surprise me with throwing in a few miles at the end.

SJ: What has your training looked like this year heading into the run? Do you use other ultra's to train?
DA: I have had a real problem with consistency this year. Actually, one of my most undisciplined years to date - just a lot going on. My mileage has been all over the place. My only saving grace is that I have had four shorter ultras since April: Mind the Ducks - 40 miles, Highland Forest - 30 Miles, Pittsfield Peaks - 53+mud and Fingerlakes 50's - 50k. My most consistent activity has been watching television while thinking really hard about running. Fingers are crossed.

SJ: How do you think Pittsfield Peaks helped you in your training for this years event?
DA: It was a critical race for me. It served as my longest and most difficult run and the timing of it is pretty good. That is an annual must-run.

SJ: Donny, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us about this years Vermont 100. We wish you the best of luck in achieving your goals!
DA: Thanks John. I am looking forward to spending time in Vermont this weekend - it's kind of like Christmas. Oh, so there was this really helpful guy I met back in October 2008 at the Pittsfield Funeral Run. I was attempting my first 100 miler over the Halloween weekend. So, I ended up DNF'ing at 50 miles. We were talking a little bit after the race and he offered to help train me for last year's VT100. So just wanted to thank him for helping me achieve some important personal goals. Hope everyone has a good run this weekend!