Thursday, September 30, 2010

Conservation NH

As we begin to work our way towards the running of The Run Across New Hampshire, it is our job to educate you about not only the mission of this years run but the people, places and organizations that make it all possible. The first organization I'd like to introduce you to is an organization called Conservation NH.
Who Is Conservation NH?
Conservation NH is a non-profit organization whose mission it is to "enrich the quality of life in New Hampshire by improving the environment and conserving natural resources." They do this, in a non-partisan way, by developing and improving environmental policies, engaging citizens and businesses about the importance of those policies, holding elected officials accountable for their voting on environmental issues and educating citizens about how they can best get involved in the electoral process to advance environmental policies.

To put it into laymen's terms, Conservation New Hampshire is the middle man between the citizens of NH and Lawmakers. Their job is to echo the environmental concerns of the people, for the people, in the hopes that state and local environmental policy will change for the greater good of future generations.

Why Conservation NH?
When I first conceived of the idea to Run Across NH in 2008, I had it in my head that it would be more than myself running out there on the lonely roads. Thanks to the support of our friends from Make-A-Wish, we had quite a crowd that came out to run those final 10 or so miles into the finish. In 2009, due to bad weather, the numbers of those who participated was lower. Both 2008 and 2009's runs were done as part of a fundraiser for two local non-profits.

This year, because of the gloomy economy, I knew that fundraising just wasn't the way to go.. or was it? I remember my initial mission from 2008 - I wanted people to get outside. But it doesn't start there. After looking at the maps of this years run; it was evident that a majority of these trails travels through private lands with easements and right of ways. I began to think of the major storm of activity over the years that needed to transpire for these two trail networks to even be open for use. Thats why I've connected with Conservation NH.

My Concerns:
This could very well be my final year living in New Hampshire. It's a New England state with it's own list of quirks of course. While New Hampshire does include the White Mountain National Forest and a few other smaller mountain area's; it's still rather limited in terms of the amount of open spaces for folks to use. An estimated 1.8 million people live in the Southeastern corner of NH. Many of them live in New Hampshire but commute to Massachusetts to work. Many folks move to NH from Mass to avoid ever increasing state taxes to the south and dream of a "quieter" place. Except, Southern NH is now outgrowing itself. Urban sprawl has taken over in the last 15 years, evidenced primarily by the new I-93 Widening Project; a highway expansion plan that interferes with numerous area wetlands yet continues to move forward anyway to ease growing concerns of over crowded and dangerous highways.
I-93 Construction - Eagle Tribune
Typical Northbound I-93 Traffic on Mass Border,  Evening Commute
I wondered how many of those 1.8 million folks know about places like Fort Rock, Kingman Farm, Pawtuckaway State Park, Bear Brook State Park, etc; all areas with extensive trail networks. I wondered how much about New Hampshire they actually know beyond the glare of their vehicles windows. I'm willing to guess not many and I can guess this by the number of folks I don't run into out in those places. Pawtuckaway is 25 minutes from Manchester, NH where 110,000 people live. Bear Brook, is all of 25 minutes to the north of Manchester and 15 minutes from Concord where 41,000 live. This doesn't include the populations of those towns that are suburbs of two of New Hampshire's largest cities.

Vermont has a government funded agency dedicated to the preservation and use of lands (VDEC). In previous years I've run in the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run and the Vermont 50 as well as races in Pittsfield, VT. Combined, these races work with over 150 separate landowners in one small corner of Vermont to get the races off the ground. In thinking about why there is no 100 Mile ultra in New Hampshire, the answer is simple, no land owner in NH will cooperate with such an event. Fear of being sued and the "hermitization" of people's connection to their homes prevents people from even getting involved in local conservation pleas. Case in point; Bear-Paw Regional Greenways. A local ground from Deerfield, NH who have single handedly contracted the assistance of landowners willing to conserve our states land. One of their missions was to connect Bear Brook with Pawtuckaway via a trail network stretching all of 10 miles. After 15 years of work, Bear-Paw has indeed secured many parcels of land for generations to enjoy... but there is still no 10 mile trail? Why? Unwilling, and stubborn, NH landowners.

As I move forward with this years Run Across New Hampshire, my mind is heavy with the gratitude of not just the 100's of landowners who helped make these two Greenways possible, but the other agencies involved in seeing that process through. The society of the Protection of NH Forest, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation NH, NH Audubon, NH Preservation Alliance and so on. It takes a HUGE effort.

This is where I hope to land in a year and settle down. Colorado is an amazing place. Just thinking about the cities of Boulder and Golden alone sends chills up my spine. These two cities have open spaces preserved for eternity, a network of trails that weave in, out and around town and connect to the majority of long distance trails in the area. It makes me wonder.. why doesn't NH pick up this same mentality. If you build it they will come right? I mean.. How many people in Concord know that you can run to Hooksett or Bow all on trails? That Penacook is connected to the Hospital.. by trails. How many NH residents know that you can run or bike all the way to the Great Bay on the now defunct rail-bed?

In Conclusion
I've chosen Conservation NH because I feel that their work in preserving our states greatest resource is both tireless and needed. Both greenways are within a half hours drive to about a half a million people and many of them don't even know it exists. I want people to join us the weekend of October 23-34; and join Conservation NH in exploring these greenways to appreciate the lands we do have here in New Hampshire with the hopes that you'll find importance in preserving more land for future generations.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

2010 Run Across New Hampshire

The 3rd Annual
Run Across New Hampshire
"Sullivan Expedition"
125 Miles of New Hampshire Wilderness
October 23-24,2010
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For the third year in a row, Team Sherpa Ultrarunning presents The Run Across New Hampshire (RANH). The RANH was first concieved by Sherpa John Lacroix during the summer of 2008 and has been run on the same route (Brattleboro,VT to Odiorne Point, NH) for the last two years. The 2010 Edition of the RANH will be run on mountain trails in New Hampshire's western range.

This years run is being conducting with the cooperation of Conservation New Hampshire. Conservation NH's Mission is to "enrich the quality of life in New Hampshire by improving the environment and conserving natural resources." Our mission in working with Conservation NH is to get people outside during the weekend of our run. To get them outside and enjoying a portion of our state and sections of trail that are virtually unkown and/or under utilized. With this in mind, it is our hope that in getting outside, people will understand the true value of New Hampshire's most natural resource and will in turn encourage the conservation of that resource, New Hampshire's forests.

The Run
Section 1: The Sunapee-Kearsarge-Ragged Greenway (SKRG)
The SKRG is a 75-Mile "emerald necklace" of trails that runs around the area of Lake Sunapee and crosses over the peaks of Sunapee, Kearsarge and Ragged Mountains. Greenway volunteers maintain this long distance trail and advertise it as a 14 segment trail travelling through 10 New Hampshire Towns. For The RANH Sherpa John will be running the SKRG in it's entirety, starting at Lake Solitude on the slopes of Mount Sunapee, 75 miles Counter-Clockwise around the Greenway and back to Lake Solitude.

Section 2: The Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway (MSG)
The MSG is a 48 Mile hiking trail that runs from the summit of Grand Mount Monadnock to the summit of Mount Sunapee. The greenway travels through 3 State Parks that includes Mount Monadnock, the 2nd most hiked mountain in the world (Behind Mount Fuji). For The RANH Sherpa John will run the MSG from North to South, starting on Sunapee and finishing on Monadnock, all 48 miles immediately after having run the 75 mile SKRG.

The current speed record for the MSG is 9 Hours, 30 Minutes and 4 Seconds. While Sherpa has no intentions of breaking this record during this expedition, at the expeditions terminus he will become the first person to ever run the SKRG and MSG in succession. The Average hiker typically takes 3-4 days to hike the MSG and the SKRG has no means of shelters/tentsites there for has only ever been done in segmented day hikes.

From car to car this years RANH totals 128.8 Miles in length.
Elevation totals 27,210' of Gain and 26,869' of Loss for total elevation change of 54,079'

The Crew Will Assemble at Newbury Harbor (Newbury, NH) at 4am for the hike to Lake Solitude. The official run clock is set to begin at 5am from Lake Solitude/Mount Sunapee State Park.

CLICK HERE FOR A MAP
(See Bottom of Post for a local map)


CLICK HERE TO HIKE/RUN or CREW!

[During the next couple of weeks we're going to introduce you to the SKRG and the MSG by providing you with more details about each Greenway and their history as well as an in depth look at the finish location, Mount Monadnock. We'll also take a closer look at Conservation New Hampshire and what they do to help Conserve New Hampshire's greatest asset. We'll introduce you to The Crew for the adventure, provide you with the list of segments to run and also conduct a few indepth interviews. Stay Tuned!]

~F.A.Q.'s~
"Why The Sullivan Expedition?"
In the summer of 1779, General John Sullivan led the Sullivan Expedition, a massive campaign against the Iroquois in western New York. During this campaign, troops destroyed a very large Cayuga settlement, called Coreorgonel, on what is now the southwest side of Ithaca, New York. He pushed his troops so hard that their horses became unusable, and killed them on this campaign, creating the namesake for Horseheads, New York. The lukewarm response of the Congress was more than he could accept. Broken, tired, and again opposed by Congress, he retired from the Army in 1779 and returned to New Hampshire. It is through Sullivan County that much of this years RANH takes place and the effort required to complete the 128 mile mission would deem horses of today, "unusable."


"Do You Have People Who Follow You?"
Yes, I have an experienced crew prepared to assist me on the journey. They have spent countless hours preparing for the journey with me by scouting out sections of the trail, determining aid station locations, counting miles between stations and ranking sections of the trail based on level of difficulty. The Crew is an intrical part of the expedition where as they will be my "horses," carrying food and water to each aid station and serving as pacers when needed.

"Do You Eat, Drink, Sleep?"
This is a very common question and the answer is a resounding yes. The amount of food and drink I'll need to consume during the expedition is astounding to many. Eat: I've been known to eat the following: Banana's, oranges, watermelon, strawberries, gummy bears, cookies, potato chips, grilled cheese, cheese burgers, pizza, PB&J and a variety of anything else I can get my hands on. It is vital to the success of this mission that i consume enough calories to keep my body fueled throughout. I also eat Powerbar Energy Chews and Powerbar Gels. Drink: On me at all times will be a bottle of water and a bottle of my favorite sports drink which will both be refilled at each aid stop. I also drink Boost High Protein shakes periodically. Sleep: The goal is to NOT sleep during the expedition but this is a hard thing to fight off. Typically I get sleepy around 11p and 2am and will fight the sleepies until sun-up. Sleep during the expedition usually comes in the way of 10-15 minute cat naps but one wouldn't really call it "sleeping." It's more of a catatonic state where the body rests but the mind keeps racing. While my eyes are closed, I'm breathing heavy and my muscles fall into a deeply relaxed state, I am still very awake and can hear everything going on around me. It's like a bad nightmare.

"How Many Aid Stations Will You Have?"
My crew is prepared to see me at 28 Pre-determined locations. These stops range in distance anywhere from 3-10 miles and they have been set up in locations that limits the amount of driving my crew will have to conduct between stops. Not only does this lighten the amount of work and pressure put on my crew to "be there" but it helps us operate with a minimal amount of auto emissions during the trip.

"Can I Join In The Fun?"
Yes! In Fact, that's the whole reason we've teamed up with Conservation New Hampshire and why we're doing this. We want to encourage folks to get outside and enjoy a section of our state that isn't typically used or known about for recreational purposes. You can sign up to run or crew by contacting Leah Belanger at leah.belanger@gmail.com She'll provide you with all the details. Runners: In the coming weeks, we'll post a list of segments you are welcome to run as well as their level of difficulty based on the perception of a mid to back of the pack runner. Crew: Crewing is a hard job. It requires patience in that you do very little driving and a LOT of waiting around for the runner(s) to appear. Once they're there, you spring into action for all of 5 minutes, rinse and repeat.

"Why October?"
This is how I like to celebrate my birthday; outside, adventuring and with my close friends. Yes it's cold but how many people actually like running in the heat and humidity?! (Truth be told, I LOVE it) Besides... have you SEEN the folliage?!

"What If The Weather Is Bad?"
The adventure takes place rain or shine. Jed Williamson who annual writes, "Accidents in North American Mountaineering", said it best himself; "There's no such thing as poor weather, just poorly prepared hikers." During the 2009 edition of RANH we ran out of Keene with a head wind for the next 40 miles followed up by torrential rain and snow on Sunday. We still found our way to the end of the run with all types of gear to keep us safe and comfortable from beginning to end. KEEP THIS IN MIND if you intend to join us. Come prepared for anything! We've experienced high temps in the 80's and low temps in the teens during previous editions of this run!

"Do You Run The Entire Time?"
I dare you to find someone who can! I know a few folks who could.. they're out of my league, but that's not me. I run the downhills and whatever of the flat sections I can. Otherwise, I'm powerhiking all the up hills as fast as I can. Keep in mind that this expedition, while about being the first to complete this mission is a timely fashion, is more about the journey and less about "how fast" can it be done. I all ready know that whatever my time is.. it can be done faster without a doubt!

"When Will You Finish?"
The run finishes sometime on Sunday, October 24th on Mount Monadnock. Hiker's and runners are encouraged to join us for the final segment of trail. This segment begins at the Dublin Tr. Trailhead parking lot on Old Troy Rd. in Dublin, NH. The clock for the run will officially stop on the summit of Mount Monadnock. Because of the nature of this run it's hard to say when we'll finish. Best estimates are anywhere from 32-40 Hours with 36 hours being a "fair guestimate." 32-40 Hours is anywhere from 2pm-9pm Sunday. Your best bet is going to be to follow twitter updates during the run to follow my progress and base your participation on that. I'm not thinking we'll still be out there after dark on Sunday, but you never know. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess 4pm Sunday.
2008 RANH: 31 Hours 29 Minutes - 2009 RANH: 33 Hours 56 Minutes (Both Runs on Road.. no mountains ::wink wink::)

"Why Did You Decide To Do This?"
You'll have to tune in to read about the why. But here's a hint.. it's a lot like Forrest Gump who said, "And one day, I just felt like runnin'"

"Can I Read About Previous RANH's?"
Yes you can. Both reports were done as part of a series. Many have enjoyed them in the past and continue to enjoy them to this day. 2008 RANH REPORT CLICK HERE - 2009 RANH REPORT CLICK HERE

Contacts:
Team Sherpa: Contact Sherpa John Sherpajohn@gmail.com
Media: Contact Leah Belanger leah.belanger@gmail.com
Participate: Contact Leah Belanger leah.belanger@gmail.com
Conservation NH: Contact Michael O'Meara mhomeara@conservationnh.org

Click On Map For Larger View

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

RR: 2010 Vermont 50

September 26, 2010
Vermont 50 Mile Endurance Run
50 Miles - Brownesville, VT
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Pre-Race
I was excited to return to the Vermont 50 for the fifth year in a row. After DNFing at the Leadville 100, which in turn ended the Grand Slam for me, and then deciding not to head out to Utah for the Wastach 100, that meant I was able to sign up for the Vermont 50 a race I had not previously intended to run. So I was excited to put my name into the mix and get out into the hills of Vermont, one last time. I had no idea what to expect heading into this years race. After struggling to recover from Leadville with sickness.. it was a tough call. I knew I wanted to enjoy the course this year but how was all going to depend on how I felt when I woke up in the morning.

I arrived at Ascutney Saturday night after a bit of memory issues while packing up the car. Forgot my bottles.. was in Nashua.. drove to Epping.. and was all ready in Manchester when I realized that I forgot them again. It was hard not to laugh at myself seeing as I wasted an hour and a half driving around Southern New Hampshire all because of memory re-lapse. Is this an age thing or a tired thing? At Ascutney I checked in, got my bib and then enjoyed the Spaghetti dinner that happened inside the hotels restaurant. They did a nice job feeding us all. I started thinking about race day pretty early on. My thoughts all revolved around who I was going to run with. I had a few choices.

I could run with Gilly, who in 2009 came to the Vermont 50 and ran in the mud. At mile 47, she had arrived 10 minutes late and was pulled from the course.. crushed. She was back this year for redemption and I had thoughts of running with her helping to see her to the finish line. Then there was Josh. Josh is a better runner then he realizes. Typically Josh runs with his father, side by side, which is quite fantastic to watch and/or be apart of. But when dad is at home, Josh turns the engines on and can run like hell. I knew he was thinking of PR.. which was currently at 10:52. I could help him reach his PR.. or then there was this girl I heard about from Gilly. Her name is Bekky and she is a new student in the UNH Outdoor Education Department. As part of one of the classes I previously took, she was doing the VT50 as her endurance challenge. Gilly told me this girls time goal was 8 hours and 30 minutes. I could help bring this girl down to earth.. and get her to the finish line..

Why help anyone at all though? It was a pretty easy thought for me. This was the fifth time that I was lining up for this race and it's likely to be the last time. I was thinking back to my first year running it. It was my first 50 miler and I had no idea if I was going to make it. I wanted to qualify for Western States. It was Joe Desena who lined up that year with me (2006) and told me he'd run the entire race with me, step for step, all the way to the finish.. and yeah.. "you'd qualify for Western." I could think of no better way to spend my final time on this course then by helping someone else as Joe had helped me. I had no real time goals for this race,  no real needs wants or desires... I thought long and hard about how I'd best enjoy my day out here and this was it. So, the thinking continued.. who would I help.

Rain never materialized overnight, thankfully, and we woke up to a balmy morning this time of year. It was 52 degrees at the start of the race, some 20 degrees warmer then in years past. I milled around the race tent before the start, listening to Zeke's unique voice booming across the participants. I ran into a bunch of folks I hadn't seen since before the VT100, folks I hadn't seen since May and it's always great to catch up with the familiar folks. It's even more exciting to meet the new faces, folks who I'm facebook friends with but have never met. I enjoyed a variety of conversation and then Gilly introduced me to Bekky. It was finally time to head out to the road, it was warm in the tent and outside 52 degrees didn't seem so balmy anymore. We all stood at the starting line, arm crossed trying to hug our own warmth inside. Waiting for Zeke to tell us to leave. It seemed like the number of runners out there was lower then most years but the RD would later tell us the number of runners was above 500. The command was given and we were off down the access road.

Go!
We have to have been the worst group of miscreants to run around out there. It was Josh and Leah, Gilly, Bekky and myself. We were whooping it up in the early morning air, cracking inappropriate jokes, talking about youtube videos no one wants to see. It was a riot, at least I was having a blast, smiling ear to ear and excited for the day. This is a far cry from the dread I felt when the alarm went off this morning. All I wanted to do was stay in my tent in sleep.. but figured that would be the most expensive nap I'd ever take. Yet here I was, bounding down the first sections of road, feeling like a sloth. I felt awful, slow, fat... thats pretty much how my lackluster year has gone. Lack of any real training has caught up to me the last few races and I was feeling it. I was bummed.. knowing that there was certainly no PR in store for the day.
Josh was quick to remind me that if I ran with him I'd set a personal slow on the course. In looking at Gilly, I immediately went to thinking how she needed to do this race on her own. She needed to learn, needed to put her guts out there and go get it. Leah was in the relay, Loni was no where to be found.. I just kept running. I was half way up the first hill when I realized that it was Bekky who was keeping pace with me. She was picking my brain, asking questions about this race, others races and UNH OE. It was in that moment that I knew I'd found who I was going to run with.. and it was Bekky. We made it into the first aid station where we grabbed fruit and then headed right for the woods. We were both warmed up now, settling into a pace.. and our day was only just beginning.

Into the Wild
After leaving the first aid station, Bekky made it pretty clear that she was glad we were running together. The first hill doesn't end at the first aid station, it continues in the woods, and continues and continues. She wondered what her race would have been like had she chosen to run it all, and the thoughts now that she's seen the course weren't so pretty. We walked when we felt like it and ran when it was necessary. We ran all the downs and flats, enjoyed the twisting and turning singletrack and you could even hear a few hoots and hollars as we bounded through the forest. In between the fun, we talked about Outdoor Education and UNH. The department, the classes, the people. Bekky is really excited to be in our major and at the end of the day I can tell you that I'm excited she's there too. We talked about the class she's currently in and I quickly discovered that she was running with her Dewey book, quoting Dewey's Experience in Education and trying to draw parallels from our activity to what she's learning in class. Sometimes this doesn't come easy, but when you're doing something so life changing as running your first ultra, it becomes pretty easy. She stopped thinking so much and just let it all come to her naturally. Beyond school, of course we had plenty of time to get to know each other, our supportive/unsupportive familes, and who it is we hope to become.

We made it into Skunk Hollow Tavern when Bekky was shocked we'd all ready run 12 miles. Time flies when you talk and talk and talk. Company is the best thing out during these races. In the aid station I found Gilly's father who had transported my aid bag to the stop for me. I grabbed what I needed and turned around to see Bekky all ready to go. I was shocked! This girl had done her homework. Not only did she have a steady pace, but the girl was in and out of the aid station, refilled, fed and ready to rock. I was impressed and we took off together. out of Skunk Hollow the course heads out onto the roads. We climbed a long hill that lead us up to the rock wall. The rock wall is a long rock wall that has to go on for a mile. It's on both sides of the road and keeps animals in the pastures. To our left, one the top of a high pasture is a house made of stone, worth at least 2 million not included the 100+ acres of land with it. We pass by the house which owns this immaculate one mile rock wall, with every single stone expertly placed so that the wall is perfectly square. At the end of the wall is a sugar shack complete with 8 or 9 cords of wood and thats just what we can see. It's quintessential Vermont and always awesome to run by all this craftsmanship.
Paula
It was on this section of the course that we began conversation with a woman who was wearing a G.A.C shirt. I told her about the GAC at the VT100.. and how I thought they were rather quiet and selective with their cheering this past year.. and thats when I realized that this was Paula. If you read my VT100 report, Paula was the unfriendly woman who was puking her brains out on the way to Margaritaville, (Karma is a bitch as you'll read here later), and today was a completely different story. Paula, in much better condition, was a real gem out on the course today. Her every move and word was accompanied with a smile and friendly words. Still in High School Skinny shape after the 100, I joked that she'll be running her way into a little black dress after the run. She smiled and we shared some more laughs. She was so pleasant and the GAC should be happy to have such a friendly and outgoing member.

We continued to make our way through the woods now with the climb up Garvin Hill around a few more corners. We re-entered the woods which was all maple trees. Each tree had a bright blue tube attached to it and that bright blue tube connected to a bigger black tube. All of these lines were carrying the tree's syrup to a holding tank. The holding tanks then had another line that took the syrup down to the nearby sugar shack where the water is then boiled so all that is left is pure syrup. These lines wove in and out of everywhere and we joked that it looked as though we were running through a gnarl of spider webs. The leaves were gorgeous, temps still cool and all we're thinking about was pancakes and syrup. We then make that final steep climb to the top of Garvin Hill where for the first time in years we are treated to a view of the Vermont countryside. Over the last few years it's either been raining for foggy to the point that there is no view but this year, a blanket of color is laid out below us as we look out towards the hills to the West. A stunning view, one that at first leaves us speechless. We get into the aid station and thank the VERY friendly volunteers. Those of us who ran last year were reminiscing about the cranky crew that manned this spot in 2009; this years volunteers told us that crew refused to come back. We thanked them very much for their time, gave a few resting bikers some guff.. then heading off down the trail. I raised my arms up and yelled "Waa hoo!!" The view was stunning and I had to let it out.. simply amazing.
Down and around we go as the trail now weaves it's way in and out of the woods, down and around pastures and houses, on and off of roads and into what seems like the middle of no where. At Cady Brook I see an aid station work who is wearing a Yankees hat. Lots of these folks in Vermont. I give him some ceremonial crap and I get the usual "We'll make the playoffs." Truth be told.. I really don't care but it's really fun to jar at the yankee fans; they're so upsetable! Cady Brook is in the black hole of the course. The forest here is dark and deep. We mosey our way up a long hill. Some runners run it, today we decide to be smart, take our time.. and see what happens. We keep talking and laughing, just enjoying the day.. and the moments of silence were now becoming a bit more frequent. It's getting harder for me to turn my legs over after we break, something I can't stand but deal with. The trail is easily discernable, where the bikes have all riden they've blown the leaves off the trail. So you'll have a blanket of yellow and orange on the ground with a stripe of brown down the middle. There isn't a bit of mud to be found on the course this year and I'm loving it even though it's extremly dusty.

Party Time!
At Smoke Rise Farm we see the gang from Margarittaville. It's just about lunchtime now and they've got burgers rolling all ready and warm soup. I asked if anyone was drunk yet, "not yet.. but buzzed!" We grab some grub, get refilled and head up the road. I don't wear a watch when I run but I know we're right around 12/min mile pace still, about where we've been since the beginning and still running a solid race. We run then walk then run then walk up the hill out of Smoke Rise. Around the corner a mother and her daughter are out ringing a bell and shaking a pom pom as they have every year. It's getting warmer on the course and the cloud cover is making it darker from time to time. We get off the road and dump back down into another fun winding downhill trail section. It takes us down to Dugdales which is the next handler stop. We're excited, moving well and still all smiles.

We enter Dugdale's where I head right for the porta potty. Happy that for a change I've only done this deed once on the course today but dreading the chaffe to follow. When I get out of the porta potty, I see that Leah who has since finished her relay section, has my red bag and has gone to work at preparing my waist pack for me. She's crewed for me before so she jumped right into action. She emptied my trash and refilled me with gels. My bottles were ready to go and I drank some boost. At the aid table I grabbed fruit and gummy bears. I was so happy Leah helped me get going and so greatful for her work that I gave her a huge hug to thank her. Bekky was all set to go, her and her mom offered me more candy, I took some gummy bears and we walked down the road. I was telling her that this was Silver Hill Meadow, where the 100 is. We were on the final miles of the VT100 course now and we were running with Marge. Marge is the newest member of The Animal Camp and was wearing our color proudly. She was looking great out there and I was showing her the this and that of the VT100 as well. We climbed the hill and ducked off into the woods where we climbed some more. I was feeling awful and running wasn't helping.. this is where the karma comes in.

Sherpa-puke
So as we climbed a hill of mowed down briars, I felt crummy. For some reason my stomach had been unsettled for the last few hours. I didn't know whatw as wrong or what to do but I asked Bekky how she was. It was warmer now and she wanted to take a layer off so we stopped. As she removed long sleeves I stepped off the trail and into the shrub where I proceeded to bend over and puke freely. Out came gatorade, gummy bears (whole) and orange pieces. I think there was some boost in there too but.. the world was not agreeing with me. I threw up some 4 times when I looked down below and saw another runner climbing the hill, I waved hello as he caught up. I stood up and looked at him when he asked, "You ok? Going to make it to the next aid station?" The look on my face was priceless. With a HUGE smile I looked at him, bright eyed and said "Hell yeah man.. this is all just part of the party." I immediately felt better and we were now running quicker then we had in the last 2 hours on the course. It was time to roll and it couldn't have come at a better time.

From here the trail continues with roller coaster single track that weaves back and forth and in and out. We'd be bread and buttering runners left and right. A runner is 500 yards ahead of you yet right beside you. We kept leap frogging the same two guys. They'd let us go, we'd let them go and so on. I told everyone about the party house that was coming up and the cooler of beer they usually leave out for us. Yet as we reached the house this year, no one was home. No cheering, no yelling, nothing but eery silence. As we rounded the corner I saw a small cooler. I looked inside and all it had was water and spare bike tire tubes. Damn! NO BEER! I was so disappointed yet we carried on. We crossed a road and headed back up another long hill and I knew Fallon's was at the top. We entered the aid station and I had a fig newton and some Ginger Ale. My stomach is feeling much better but I don't want to take any chances. Apparently I have some nutrition to figure out for the future. Bekky and I make quick work here, I share my ginger ale with a biker who looked dogged and we carried on down the trail. Down below we took a sharp left into the woods at a shed and as we went to climb the next hill, I found a fungai. The thing was huge. I took it off the tree and carved my message into it "Josh & Gilly LET'S GO" I put the mushroom message on the groun in a spot where I was certain their heads would be down and they'd see it and then we took off running.

Alone
Bekky was starting to get IT Band issues now and from time to time she'd slow down do a walk. Mostly on the downhills which is where the IT Band is most known to flare up. She walked a bit gingerly down the steepr hills but for the most part, she sucked it up and toughed it out. She kept telling me that if I wanted to go ahead I could. I won't lie.. I thought about it.. but only briefly. I was having a great day, enjoying the course and everything about the day.. I was in no hurry. I had no idea what time it was nor did I even care. We were just running. We'd come this far together and my goal was to get this girl to the finish. I feared if I left her.. she might find reason to slow down or quit. I didn't want that; so I made my running trot a bit slower and just slowed down a bit for her in the places that I knew would hurt. She was doing great. The only thing now was... the course was rather quiet. We were running sections of the course where I usually see 50Kers coming out of the woods and 50 milers slowing down. We saw virtually no one.. and I began to wonder a bit.

We entered Goodman's and I was happy to see John Bassette and his crew there. John is the VT100 Pacer coordinator. I looked around on the aid table and they had grilled cheese. My favorite! I was so excited to just stand there and eat quarter after quarter of grilled cheese. All told I think I ate two whole sandwhiches and rank a soda. Bekky was ready to rock so I thanked John and his crew and we left. I warned her that it was a long ways to Johnsons now.. 6 miles or so.. and it's not pretty. Everything you've experienced in chunks on the course thus far, is thrown at you in one last thrown down with the course during this next section. Prepared, yet tired, we took it on together. We talked and cracked more jokes and the miles just ticked by. Somewhere in the dark spruce we passed a 75 year old man who had started his quest at the 50K at the same time we started the 50. He was walking his best, with a walking stick and chocolate smeared on his lips. All smiles.. this guy was true inspiration. Especially given all those folks who constantly tell us how we'll be missing our knees at 60.
We hit the final downhills with fury, trying to keep Bekky on her game and not hobbling with the ITB. The miles are just ticking by now.. fewer and fewer places to go. We pass a few runners, a few guys gingerly walking, one not pleased with the constant zig and zag of some of the sections.. but we're moving. We blast out onto the road and enter a farm where Ascutney is high and mighty in front of us. 4 miles to go and we're all smiles, thinking about food, the finish and accomplishment. We try to keep our heads about us still running that same 12 min/mile pace we started with. We see Gilly's father and boyfriend waiting for her. Then we see Leah. We stop to walk a bit, saving energy for that final climb past Johnsons. Leah walks us up the driveway and into Johnsons aid station, mile 47.5 Bekky see's her mom while I entertain Leah and she entertains me. We grab food and drink they take off again knowing that Josh and Gilly were 15 or so minutes behind us at Dugdales...

The Finish
We tackle the final climb of the course with zeal and anticipation. We want it to be over now. Suddenly climbing doesn't feel so hot anymore.. and we know running downhill hurts a bit. Even my IT Band is starting to say hello. Yet it's in these final miles that I feel so proud of my new runner, so proud of Bekky for finally taking on this challenge she had heard about over a year before and only now finally had a reason to go for it. She could not have run a more perfect race from nutrition to pacing to having the perfect crew. It amazing, humbling and inspiring to watch all at the same time. I really was speechless. A tiny lump formed in my throat as I fought back tears though.. because I was thinking about Leadville and the Slam. I was thinking about my struggles at the VT100.. and the amazing year I've had despite being a tad slower. I was so happy to be here in this moment, happy to be back, happy to be finding that finish line.. that I couldn't help but get a little emotional. So I started to tell Bekky about "Last Moments." I have a professor who told us about how she works with terminal patients and she just thought about last moments. How in life, we never know when THIS moment will be our last... that if it is our last moment.. what kind of a moment is it going to be. It was here that I told Bekky that this was a hell of a last moment.. and if it's not the last, it's a mighty fina rendition to the last of many moments we've had in our lives. And it's these moments that make all the others, good or bad, worth while.. and keeps us coming back for more.

As we traversed the final ski slope, I looked back as we were about to take that final turn when I saw.. Leah behind me. I did a double take, looked back again and there he was. Josh. Talk about final moments. My jaw dropped and my eyes widenned. I think I almost pissed myself but I turned around and made the kid chase me. We yelled back and forth a few choice obsenities, then I slowed down and asked if he wanted to finish together. He wanted his PR.. I looked back.. now about 30 yards ahead of Bekky.. I looked at Josh ahead of me.. and yelled, "Go get it Josh! You deserve it!" Josh finally beat me in an ultra, missed a PR by less than a minute, and me.. I waited for Bekky.. and we continued on. As we approached the chute, I saw Loni on the sidelines. I had to stop. Loni has been training for an entire year.. and I mean entire.. training more for this then I have for anything.. just to finish her first 50 and she was pulled at Dugdales. I had to give her a hug and I told Bekky back about 10 miles prior that if I saw her I would. So here we were, in the chute and I stopped.. to give Loni a hug and told her how proud I was of her and how inspiring her effort is to me. Then.. I looked ahead and Bekky was now waiting for me. I sped up and we ran, side by side, through the chute and across the finish line. We'd done it... all 50 mile in 10 Hours 53 Minutes 16 Seconds... a new personal Slow.. and one of the more enjoyable Last Moments I'd ever had.

After medals and pictures, we waited for Gilly. With her family at the fnish we knew she was close. At 11:53, with 7 minutes to spare and a face on the verge of tears, we see Gilly and her pacer Paula come barreling down the trail and into the chute for her first Vermont 50 finish. It was bitter sweet. She got her redemption and she got it on her own... I couldn't have been happier for everyone.
--------------------------
I gotta say thanks to Mike Silverman and the rest of the Vermont 50 team for putting on one of the more amazing races in our country. I've travelled a lot, done alot.. and I have to say that this race doesn't compare to any other that I've done. It's worth every penny to run here, rain or shine and it all goes to an amazing cause. Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sport. Providing opportunities to those with disability. Huge congrats to them and thank you!

SJ
(A Few stolen photos coming)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Success

Coming off the heels of a DNF at Leadville, it was nice to find that finish line again. This time, it was back in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Not only that but I had the chance to give back to a fellow runner in the sport but guiding her to her first 50 mile finish.

After 10 Hours 55 Minutes I felt greet. I'll be running pretty quickly after running a very relaxed race from beginning to end which will keep me on track for the run across New Hampshire.

The report from this years Vermont 50 should be up within the next 24 hours... followed by The RANH announcement on Wednesday.

HUGE Thanks to Leah for helping me during the race. Congrats to Josh.. Gilly.. and Becky. The leaves were amazing and so was the course, the driest it's ever been since I've run this race.

Stay Tuned!
SJ

Friday, September 24, 2010

Race Preview: Vermont 50


So here we are on the doorstep of the 17th annual Vermont 50 Mile Endurance Run. This will be my fifth straight time running the Vermont 50 and it could very well be my last give my uncertainty of where I'll be living this time next year. As always, I'm beyond excited for this race. It is very well organized and the Vermont country-side is like no other place this time of year. Once again, 600 mountain bikers will get the early start followed by about 100+ 50 mile runners and a few hours later by the 50K entrants. They'll all weave and wind their way through the Vermont woods just south of Woodstock, VT on some of the most pristine single-track trails New England has to offer.

I've had a tough go at running since Leadville. After week 1's recovery I was sick with Strep throat during week 2 and had 5 days of hiccups during week 3. Thankfully, I've managed to piece together some running and hiking over the last 2 weeks and while out last night, I finally felt the turnover in my legs that I haven't felt since June. June when I tore up and down the Pittsfield Peaks Course. With that in mind. I'm not sure how I feel about this weekends race. Part of me wants to hang back and enjoy my last go round on this amazing course.. the other want's redemption for failure at Leadville and missing Wasatch. It's all going to come down to how I feel on race day and what cards I'm dealt. With that said here are my goals:

Race Goals:
1.) Finish
2.) Sub 10 Hours
3.) PR (8:58)

Weather looks to be near perfect on race day with temps struggling to reach 60 degrees after night time lows in the lower 40's after scattered Saturday Rain showers. I'm expecting the course to be damp during the morning and slowly drying up as the day progresses.

Quite a few friends will be out on the course this year trying to PR themselves. If I'm not feeling so hot early in the race it's going to be fun and an honor to fall back and help them reach their own human potential and running goals. We'll see how it all plays out. But for now.. I'm going to get me some single-track and Long Trail Ale!

SJ


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blog Schedule

A lot of information is going to be coming through the blog over the next few weeks so I wanted to give you folks a preview before we get elbows deep into it.

This weekend is the Vermont 50 Mile Endurance Run at Ascutney Mountain in VT. True to form you'll get a race preview on Friday followed by a race report early next week. Beyond that, I look forward to finally introducing you to this years Run Across New Hampshire Trail Edition. Thanks to our friends at Conservation New Hampshire, we're going to be doing a lot of cross posting to keep you folks up to speed about what's happening in October, why it's happening and every bit of information about the adventure that you can think of. We're not only going to have an appreciation for the trails we'll be traversing, but we're going to appreciate the history of the area as well.

I'm very excited to start working towards The 2010 RANH and I can't wait to bring you all along for the ride, welcome new readers and hope to motivate you all to get outside during the fall season.

Happy Trails!
SJ

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pawtuckaway 50K+

Saturday, November 13, 2010 - 7 AM
Pawtuckaway State Park
Nottingham, NH
36 Miles
6,334.2' of Gain / 6,343.2' of Loss

No Fees, No Aid, No Awards, No Whining

Join us on Saturday, November 13, 2010 for November's 50K Challenge. We'll be starting from the Pawtuckaway State Park main parking lot on Park Road in Nottingham, NH. This is a Fat Ass event. Which means all runners are participating in this run at their no risk. There is no entry fee, no aid stations, no awards and because you have been forewarned we especially ask for no whining. Though we advertise no aid stations, we do ask that runners bring a few items to place at a stealth aid stop out on the course.

The course is an 18 mile out and back roller coaster loop run on mostly single track trail and snowmobile trail. Some of the course follows a few unmaintained dirt roads all within the boundaries of Pawtuckaway State Park. Some of the course goes up and over steep and very rocky terrain that makes up the glacial cirque and erratics of Pawtuckaway. The course also offers 3 short bushwhack sections which will be marked with ribbon. Runners are expected to retrieve the letters on 6 orienteering markers you come across while orienteering these sections. Course Map

Because of the technical nature of the course, this event will only take place providing there is no snow on the ground. To sign up, please contact Sherpa John at sherpajohn@gmail.com

Inspiration Point: Ben's Journey

Peter Larson of Runblogger posted this on his daily mile and Twitter accounts and it really is a moving video. Every time I watch it, I can't help but rise to my feet and go for a run. The video is the story of a young man named Ben, who decided to take up running in his effort to lose more than 120 pounds. The video tells it all and speaks louder than words ever could. My initial thoughts about the video lead me to think about all of those over weight American's out there with a launrdy list of excuses on why they can't get out to run a mile... then 2.. then 3. Their knees hurt, they have bad ankles, bad back.. no kidding. I would too if I was carrying extra weight.. running is much more than just getting in shape.. it's living, breathing, and experiencing life. I think Ben teaches us this point the best as he learns to reach for his own Human Potential... and boy does he. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gear Review: NEMO Equipment


NEMO Equipment is a New Hampshire company located in Nashua, NH. I first learned about their products through my former employment at Eastern Mountain Sports. A lot of customers had been coming in asking about their tents and I realized that I knew very little about them or the company. It was at the Association of Experiential Educations Northeast Regional Conference that I met an employee of NEMO. At the conference he set up a variety of their tents and air mattresses as well as placing on a display a variety of their extra products. I spent a fair amount of time with John learning about the NEMO Brand, setting up and taking down tents, inflating and deflating air mattresses and then spending my last night at the conference testing out their new MIO 1 Person Tent. I was simply blown away not just by their products but the companies dedication to those who use their products, listening to what we want and need, but also their dedication to the environment.

NEMO is owned and operated by a dedicated group of outdoor enthusiasts who don't just make the products, they test them by beating the crap out of them and seeing what's left. At the end of the day, these tents hold up to every test I've thrown at them while still looking like new. I'm impressed. For years I've used Eureka, Sierra Designs and MSR tents; swearing by all of the them as quality tents that can't be beat... until I was lucky enough to get a MIO 1 Person for my own use from the folks at NEMO.

> 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg)
> 24 sq ft (2.2 sq m)
> 6 sq ft (0.6 sq m) Vestibule
> Sit-height comfort

The Mio is the perfect one person tent for the lightweight/compact traveler. I've managed to squeeze this cantaloupe sized tent into my carry-on while flying cross country multiple times this year. The Mio is lightweight and super durable. It held up to 60+ MPH winds and driving rains during a severe thunderstorm in Vermont's Green Mountains all the while keeping me dry and cozy. It kept me cool with the rooftop vent under the blazing sun of the Sierra Nevada's of California and it kept me warm and at home while in the Rocky Mountains of Leadville, Colorado. While the Mio offers plenty of room for the single adventurer, my wife and I have managed to sleep side by side, comfortably, in the tent as well. We call it our "cuddle tent." The Mio is by far the best one person tent on the market.


Mio is the close cousin of NEMO’s Gogo tent, an ultralight AirSupported bivy. Mio’s airbeam is similar in shape to Gogo’s but ten inches taller, allowing you to sit comfortably inside. Mio uses NEMO’s ExoFly vestibule design, which allows the inner tent to be retracted when you need vestibule space, or deployed when you want extra leg room and interior space. An overhead vent at the apex of the tent promotes good air circulation. The Swallowtail end of Mio can be propped up with a short stick to tension the tent above your sleeping bag. Includes Integrated Pump, watertight stuff sack, stakes, repair kit.


> 1.5 lbs (0.68 kg)
> 1.6" Thickness (4 cm)
> Two layer comfort adjustability
> Packs small
> Includes stuff sack


I've been a Therma-Rest user for the last 15 years and the Tuo Lite quickly became my new go-to mattress for camping. The double air chambers gives me the opportunity to customize the level of comfort the pad offers on a variety of hard surfaces. The pad offers protection from the cold ground while allowing travelers to free up some space given it's "body-sculpted" design. Being able to easily roll up my bad and put it into a stuff sack for travel has proven very important to me as well. While the old hodge-podge of mattress's continues to bring the bulk and the excessive materials, the Tuo Lite continues to allow me to travel light, compact and sensibly wherever it is I might be adventuring.

The Tuo series of inflatable backcountry accessories brings a new level of comfort to the sleeping pad. Literally. The Tuo sleeping pads have a thin film inside that divides the pad into two separate airtight levels, each with their own valve. Not only does this give you complete redundancy in the event of a puncture, it means you can inflate the base layer firm for protection from rocks and roots and keep the top layer partially inflated for maximum comfort. Enjoy the full 2.3" thickness of Tuo Luxury sleeping pad or save precious ounces with the 1.6" thick mummy-style Tuo Standard sleeping pad. A 2/3 length version of Standard called the Tuo Lite is also offered. All models include a stuff sack and repair kit.

NEMO has a variety of other products to go along with both the MIO and Tuo Lite as well as a collection of other eco-friendly products (often made from the scraps of tent construction) that compliment the outdoor adventurer well. It doesn't matter if you're a runner, hiker or weekend warrior.. these products are well worth the investment, which is what purchasing quality outdoor equipment is, an investment.


Cheers!
SJ

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Forward...

In a little over a week I'll be heading up to Brownesville, VT to run in my 5th Vermont 50. Since I plan to move to Colorado next summer, this is unfortunately going to be my last VT50 for some time. There is a lot about the VT50 that I love, a lot about the race that has made it so successful and over the next week I hope to bring some of that information to you. Any runners out there who are looking for a quality 50 mile race in the area... this is it! Sign up, there is no cap on how many runners are allowed in, it's a great time with a gorgeous course. the single-track on this course, for those trail runners out there, is unlike any race in New England. They have a 50 Mile and 50K option as well as a 50 Mile Relay for teams. Check it out! www.vermont50.com

After the VT50 and I give you guys the report, we're going to phase right into my upcoming October Adventure through New Hampshire's mountains. This year, we're working closely with Conservation NH to encourage folks to get outside and enjoy a network of trails in New Hampshire that many consider to be a hidden gem and under-used. So in the coming weeks, we're going to introduce you to those trail segments we'll be traveling on, we're going to introduce you to Conservation NH and why their job is important to New Hampshire's public lands and we're going to set up the adventure ahead.. all 125 mountainous miles of it. I can't wait.

In the mean time... the temperatures are finally cooling off in New Hampshire after a hot and humid summer. We're in need of some rain around hear as the word "drought" continues to be uttered by water companies and well owners. The Patriots are back in action and that has be glued to the TV and sports radio. And hell... we're on the doorstep of fall in New England. The best time, in my opinion, to hit the local trails.

Cheers!
SJ

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Generally Speaking

Over the last two days I've had a great time traveling to two corners of New Hampshire to speak publicly to folks about my life of adventure. The first stop was on Monday night where I headed to Lincoln, NH and gave at talk at the Woodwards Inn. My audience was a collection of folks, 40's and older, who were in the area for the AMC's Fall Hiking Week. I gave a 45 minute long presentation to them about Human Potential.. but beyond that, I had an opportunity to tell them my story about my life hiking New Hampshire's Peaks and how I became an ultra-runner.

I asked the group for some feedback and 80% of those in attendance liked the program, but it was the 20% that surprised me. I try to tell my audience that I've lived my life under this mantra that "you can do anything you put your mind to." This is what my parent's taught me. It troubles me when someone seems to "miss the boat" on this and provided me the following feedback, "You can do anything you put your mind too is a bunch of baloney. Someone with the IQ of 90 will never become a neurologist." I scratch my head at this wondering how they got this from my presentation, and what I can do in future presentations to fix this. Other feedback is the classic, "Sherpa John is completely oblivious to the fact that when he is 60 he'll need knee and hip replacements. How is he training to handle the days when he can no longer run?" While I fully admit that there is a certain level of wear and tear that the body goes through from what it is I do and enjoy, I'm glad to know that when I am 60 I'll have had a hell of a ride getting there. Still, as much as I've heard this in my days of running and hiking, I've really taken some time recently to think long and hard about these thoughts others express in trying to understand why it is that they stress them. Perhaps that it is what they are used to... a generation of folks who have always been told the reason why they can't do something rather then why they can.

Tonight, I had the opportunity to run with the Runner's Alley - Portsmouth half marathon training group. At the conclusion of our 5 mile run, I had the chance to talk to the runners for about 20 minutes about ultra-running, running progression, running without a watch and finding their personal motivation. These folks were attentive, they asked thoughtful and intelligent questions and I could see the gears turning in some of their heads that they too could one day run an ultra if they put their mind to it. I greatly enjoyed my visit with these folks because it was a refreshing difference from the hikers in Lincoln.

So this has me thinking... what are the differences in the trains of though between hikers and runners? Is it really the difference between walking 5 miles in an entire day vs. running 5 miles in under an hour? Why is it that the hikers fear injury and the runners almost embrace it as an inevitable possibility? This brings in the thoughts of actual risk and perceived risk given one's chosen activity. As I move forward with my public speaking and education folks about what it is we all enjoy in the outdoors, I hope to find new ways to turn the 80% of hikers inspired to 90%. I know that I'm above 90% with the runners, I just need to find the connection between the two. This will require me to dig deeper within myself and think of my own thoughts through this adventure progression.

Regardless of the outcomes of these two programs. I had a great time speaking to both groups, and if I inspired even 1% of those in attendance to get out and move... I've done my job and accomplished my mission. But you know how I am.. I'm always dreaming big. Maybe 1% really isn't enough. As much as I accept the fact that I'll never reach and please everyone.. I hope to make a bigger and better impact on those I actually do reach.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Liberty

Courtesy of 2020 Vision Quest
It was just after September 11, 2001 when a small group of hikers climbed atop Mount Liberty (4,459') to fly an American Flag as a symbol of American pride and solidarity after the attacks on our nation. From that flying of the flag was Flags On the 48 created. Every year since, hikers have ascended New Hampshire's 4000 Foot Peaks to fly American Flags proudly from the summits. Over the years, Team Sherpa has hiked to Owls Head, Bond and Bondcliff. After missing out on the event the last few years; we finally returned to hike Mount Liberty.

Sarah and I arrived in the Whitehouse Parking lot in Franconia Notch hoping to surprise our old friends Bob and Geri Hayes with the flag flying equipment in tow. Instead, we were surprised to not find them anywhere and instead a group of hikers we didn't know. So, after posing for a parking lot picture and being handed a small American Flag, Sarah and I headed out onto the trail. We hiked steadily to Franconia Ridge where we quietly approached Randy Pierce and the rest of his 2020 Vision Quest Team. I snuck up behind Randy and told him it was time to get the lead out. He smiled from ear to ear while extending his hand for a handshake, and welcoming Sarah with a hug. From here, we followed in Randy and Quinn's footsteps on the way to the summit of Liberty.

I've mentioned Randy a few times on this blog, but in case you've forgotten.. I want to tell you about him again. Randy, along with his seeing eye dog The Mighty Quinn, aspires to be the first blind man to successfully hike the 48 Four-Thousand foot mountains in New Hampshire. He and his team are an amazing inspiration and truly a "sight to see" in watching them work. Please check out their website: 2020Vision Quest.

After hanging out with Randy and his gang for awhile, I took off for Flume, another 4K. It was a grueling 50 minute 2.4 Mile run from peak to peak to peak. Ankle twisters grace the landscape and a collection of boulders here and there. After a few bashed toes and tweaks, I was expressing myself with a few swear words. On the summit of Flume I counted around 50 hikers enjoying the gorgeous weather and remembering the devastation of 9/11. Back on Liberty, I counted 50 more. This event has truly grown over the years.

Sarah and I just want to thank the 2020 Team and the rest of the FOT48 folks for welcoming us on the hike. I also personally want to thank Bob and Tricia, a couple from Rhode Island whom I first met in 2005 at a "48" film showing and whom I'm run into a variety of times in the Whites since. Their friendship and support is always warmly welcomed and appreciated. Thank you!

Sherpa John

Thursday, September 9, 2010

15 Minutes Late...

It finally hit me today while sitting in one of my professor's offices. I started talking about Leadville and the burn from missing the cutoff finally stung... really bad. So bad that some tears actually started to well up in my eyes, my voice cracked, I gasped a bit for air and I tried to talk but nothing. I'm sure my recent bout of nightmares doesn't help. The Emergency Room docs gave me a pretty nasty tranquilizer on Monday Night. For the last two days I was in a medicine induced coma of sorts having nightmares. The same recurring nightmare for two days, and when I woke yesterday I was fired up and ready to run mentally... but not physically.

For the last 3 days I've had the same recurring dream and in that dream I've failed to finish the Vermont 100. Each rendition of the dream has me dropping out of the race at various aid stations I know so well. One edition of the dream even has me not knowing where during the race I dropped at all. Four years, four Vermont 100s; this years was the first one where I chased the clock for 29 hours... and did not receive a buckle. So it was tough waking up from that "coma" yesterday feeling utterly dejecting, feeling like I'd just lost 2-3 years of my life and in those 2-3 years I'd failed to finish Vermont 2-3 times.

I was talking to my professor today about life. How I was 15 minutes late out in Leadville and for the first time in my running career, the time reaper got me. I remember back in 2005, when I ran the Bay State Marathon, Supposedly the easiest Boston Qualifier and I was one of the last out on the course. I remember how awful it felt. I've never forgot that feeling and how I wanted to quit running... running sucked. It hurt, I wasn't cut out for it, I'm not in the kind of shape one needs to be in to run... but I fought back. Just like at Leadville this year... I remember looking back at the others who weren't going to make the cutoff... but we soldiered on. I remember those i passed on the way to Twin Lakes asking, "What time is it." "JUST RUN" and run we did... I fought to the bitter end.. but in the end.. I was 15 minutes late.

So I got stuck thinking today... after this recent bout with Strep throat and uncontrollable hiccups.. I'm a week late in school all ready. For the last 10 years of my life.. I've been 5-15 minutes late for work.. every damn day... for 10 years. When it comes to training for these races... I tend to start really training after it's a tad too late. I'm always about 15 minutes late and I struggle to break out of this awful funk. I'm tired of being the late guy.

I've got my list of struggles and things to triumph over that go far beyond running. Those who have followed this blog since 2008, will remember by time of great sorrow and the time I spent dealing with deep depression. I haven't talked much about it lately so perhaps you think it just "went away." Not so... I still struggle with my demons on a variety of levels. Part of working through my depression is trying to figure out what causes it.. the very things about my life that create the feelings I have. So.. here it is.. 15 minutes late... I have an addiction to the love of others. Because of abandonment issues during my adolescent years, I just expect people to push me away and abandon me... so I attempt to abandon them before they do, seeking out the love and approval of others in the process.

Man I've got some issues... and all I can do is work on them. But I can't help but feel like I'm always 15 minutes late. I'm always tackling things 15 minutes later then I should have. But hey... at least I show up right? If only that worked like it used to... I'm still... 15 minutes late.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Alive...

I'm alive though barely. I woke up today around 11 am Eastern Time, hiccup free (fingers crossed) and wondering what day it is and what have I missed. Last week, starting on Monday I had a fever of 100+ degrees that lasted all week. On Wednesday of last week I made my way into health services at school where they took blood to check for mono and a throat culture to check the white substance on the back of my throat. Good news was that it wasn't mono, bad news was it was strep. Thursday, I was so out of it from the fever that I couldn't get to class, but I travelled into campus to get the penicillin. I started it immediately. Saturday... the hiccups started. It turns out that my throat was so damaged from the strep that it caused acid reflux which caused hiccups. I hiccuped non-stop Sunday and Monday.

Monday night I woke up to get out of bed for fear of keeping Sarah awake. Turns out.. she had all ready left and was on the couch. I kicked her back into bed.. and i laid on the couch. A few hours later I drove to the ER to be treated. They gave me a mouth and throat numbing concoction plus some ant-acid. They sent me home with industrial strength pepcid and a tranquilizer. So, I've been asleep for 2 days, I woke up today finally hiccup free and not really knowing what day it is or what I've missed in the world since Sunday.

But I will tell you this, I had some awful nightmares while sleeping. Many of them revolved around failing to finish the Grand Slam and my future failure at the Vermont 100. I woke up a few times, in tears, thinking I had failed to finish the Vermont 100 for three straight years. I recently signed up for the Vermont 50 with my goal being to pace folks to PR's.. and right now I don't know what I'm going to do. I haven't run a step since Leadville.. spending most of the time being sick. But I do know that after these night mares an with what looms ahead... I'm going to get back on the roads, better then ever and start training for whatever comes in the future.

SJ