Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Thanks Giving Day 5K
November is finally coming to a close. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving out there. Per the usual, I managed to get out an run my 6th straight Thanksgiving Day 5Ks. This year I went back to Nashua, NH to run in their yearly 5K Trail Run at Nashua High School South. This years run was a real treat as I got a pretty fair amount of my family out there for the run. We had a great time and I was really thrilled to see my two nephews join in the fun, especially Timmy who was very quick to tell me his time (36:??) while standing in the finish line chute. It was also great to be a part of this race because I really took a step back and observed as many runners as I could. For some of these folks, it's their first 5K ever and they're starting their own Thanksgiving Traditions. For many more, it's old hat and this is the only 5K they'll run all year. But you can tell who the veterans are.. they run around the parking lot for 20 minutes before the "race" and are standing on the starting line with their fingers on the watch button. ::Sigh:: To Each his own. I managed to run the 5K in a relaxed 25:06. Just under 8 minutes miles, I hurt a few times during the run but never enough to walk. I really enjoyed just running at threshold and seeing where I ended up.

November has become the time of year for me when I finally put my feet up and give it a rest. I look ahead to the races I want to run in 2011, and try to come up with a plan to get there. Next year seems east in comparison to the year I just had. As well it should be given the goals I've set up for myself. I've applied for the Hardrock 100 and hope very much to get in and I'll be looking for redemption at Leadville. The rest, is as good a guess as any. I don't know where I'll be living while I hope for Colorado and wherever it is I move I'll need to get in touch with the ultra-scene out there rather quickly.

But for now, it's time to get ready to break out of my November Slumber. Time to train 5 days a week, bring back the long runs and get back into shape. I have 20 pounds to shed and many places left to visit if only for one more time. I'm excited yet I'm still rather tired; however I think the fatigue comes from just sluffin' around. It's time to get moving again.. time to look ahead to 2011 and go for it. It's been a long while since I've revisited the drawing board and got back into old routines. Now is as good a time as any. 

Hmmm... I wonder if anyone has ever run the 2000 Mile Oregon Trail. Chalk the wagons anyone?

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Hampshire Adventures

It's no secret that in a few months it is my every intention to now longer be a resident of New Hampshire or New England. With that thought in mind, over the last few months I've made it a bit of a point to try and get to a few places I've never been before I head out. I wanted to provide a pretty elaborate reflection of these adventures but I thought I'd keep it rather short and just give you the nitty gritty. So without further adieu, here's a little more of what NH has to offer.

The Flume Gorge
One of America's top ten most beautiful State Parks. A natural chasm takes visitors from the Flume Visitor Center on wide gravel paths and wooden walkways through covered bridges, past waterfalls and through the 800-foot long gorge with its sheer 90-foot walls. Scenic pools, glacial boulders, and mountain views. Discovered in 1808, the Flume is a natural gorge extending 800 feet at the base of Mt. Liberty. The walls of Conway granite rise perpendicularly to a height of 70 to 90 feet and are from 12 to 20 feet apart. Bus service is provided to transport visitors to within 500 yards of the gorge entrance. Marked walking trails with signs explaining natural features lead to other points of interest, including the Pool and Sentinel Pine Bridge.
We decided to check it out. New Hampshire is the ONLY state of the 50 whose State Parks are funded specifically through entry fees. The State of NH charges $13 a person to take this 2 mile, self interpretive walk through the woods of the Flume Gorge Area. After paying the same amount (for 2) that you pay for a tank of gas, you and 300+ of your closest friends stand in lines on wooden scaffolding that lines the walls of the gorge. As the water crashes over the rock cliffs, you get to enjoy being soaked and cold while enjoying the natural beauty herein. Ok.. really.. I enjoyed the place, I just can't understand the $13 price of admission. But I guess it costs money to operate a place like this especially where many of these citidiots treat the surrounding nature like their own personal trash can.

Georgiana & Harvard Falls
Down the road from the Flume is a free hike. Into the woods, under 93 and up the hill you'll find a series of amazing waterfalls as the water cascades down the mountainside. These falls or even more gorgeous then the Flume and you definitely get better bang for your buck. Crystal cascades, weave in and out of the rocks strewn about as this river meets up eventually with the Pemi. Gorgeous views looking south along I-93 complete this trip as you hike ever higher up the trail to its terminus at Harvard Falls.

Every once in awhile you run into one of these but seldom up this close.

Yeah, I finally made it to the top of Monadnock. It was cold as hell this past weekend when we finally got up there. Shuffling our feet along the frozen puddles up high, temps in the 30s and wind cranking out of the west at 35+. This is the second most climbed mountain in the world and I finally made it up there to soak in the scenery of Massachusetts, Vermont, NH, NY and even a sliver of Connecticut. No mountain rises remotely as high for nearly 100 miles in any direction. The hike wasn't nearly as difficult as I expected and was truly enjoyable. Anyone can hike Monadnock.. if they wanted to.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Imagine If

Ray Zahab has only been running/adventuring for the last 5 years. A Former pack a day smoker, Ray continues to show the world what is possible.. by simply believing in yourself. He ran across the Sahara and then ran across Antarctica as you'll learn in the video above. But the reason I've decided to share this video with you is not because of Ray's accomplishments, per say, but what he says at the end. When talking about young people when Ray says, "We can make the impossible, possible... Imagine being 13 years old, hearing those words and believing it."

Yes, imagine being 13 and hearing that "You Can Do Anything You Put Your Mind To." This is indeed the life I lived as a youngster. My parents told me time and time again that I could do anything I put my mind to, and I believed them. Even when I got older, and started telling them, "I want to do this... " and they sometimes fired back some hesitation in supporting me by questions whether or not I was biting off more then I could chew, I believed what they had taught me earlier. I was so invested in the idea that the mental power to believe and achieve rules above all else.

Over the years, I was told that I'd never hike the 4000 footers in one summer... I believed I could and I did. I was told that I'd never make a documentary film that people would want to buy... or sell 500 copies of it.. I did and sold 800. I was told that I'd never run 100 miles.. and I have. I was told I'd never get a college degree... I'm got an associates and in May I'm graduating with a Bachelors. I've started to wonder.. did my parents really mean it when they put that bug in my head? Or did I just take it far too literally. I guess what they meant matters not because I made the saying meaningful for myself.

And you can too! I recently gave a talk in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where I received some feedback from a gentleman who said, "The idea that someone can do anything they put their mind to is hogwash. Someone with an IQ under 100 would never become a neurologist." Which is probably true.. why would someone with an IQ under 100 want to be a neurologist? But that's not the point.. the point is, if you have heart, if you believe in yourself that you can accomplish anything... you can... and you will.

Now.. Imagine if it went one step deeper.. and this is where YOU come into play. Imagine if the 13 year old believed it... and then you helped foster it? Think about how much more productive our society would be if instead of people telling you why you couldn't, shouldn't or can't do something they spent more time supporting you to do, to achieve, to get there.. just think about it.. and then the next time someone tells you that they're going to do something so unbelievable, so unfathomable.. you'll tell them.. yes you can.. And I'm here to support you every step of the way.

Happy Trails

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cha Ching!

This past Saturday became open season for those looking to toss their name into the bucket for the Annual Western States 100 Lottery. It was 2006 when I first put my name into the bucket. I sent in a check for $195 and waited, not so patiently, to find out if I was one of the lucky few. Of course, this was the very first lottery in the Dean Karnazes Book "Era" in ultra-running. I wasn't so lucky that year, or the year after, or the year after that... I didn't get to run Western States until the end of the Two Time Loser debacle was finally settled, and I got my chance this past year in 2010.

A few things have changed over the last few years. The two-time-loser rule has been abolished, and heading into last year, any old Joe could throw their name into the lottery bucket. In order to get into last years lottery, you just needed to sign up.... that's it. If you were chosen in the lottery, then you send in the money. You didn't even need to have proof of a qualifying time... seriously... ANYONE... even your 96 year old mother, could have entered last years (2010) Western States 100.

So entering this years lottery for the 2011 race, things have changed once again. For starters, you must provide proof of having run a qualifying time before entering the lottery this year. You must also have the entry fee on the ready so that if your name is pulled in December, your credit card automatically gets charged. Mildly inconvenient to those of us who don't have credit cards, but use debit cards, and it's tough to float the money in our accounts for a month on end. These changes, I think, are all great as it'll keep the crowd entering the lottery a little more reasonable and increase the chances for many to actually run the race.

So... I went to the ultrasignup.com website to throw my name in the bucket. Because if I fail to get picked this year, I get an extra ticket for the next year. A great deal.. and if I ever want to run the Grand Slam again.. I need to start accumulating extra chances. That is until I got to the part where I needed to float the money... no big deal.. until I saw the amount and almost crapped myself. I was instantly furious... this years Entry Fee for the Western States 100 is $375 making it the most expensive 100 miler on the continent, before lodging, meals, etc etc.

How Much We Talking Here?
So that got me to thinking about the historical price of entering Western States since I'd been trying to get in. Here is how it shapes up with % increase from year to year.

2007: $195
2008: $250 (+28%)
2009: $295 (+18%) (Race Cancelled due to Fires)
2010: $307 (+5%)
2011: $375 (+22%)

So in looking at these numbers, over the last 5 years the cost to run the WS100 has increased a total of  $180 or an increase of 92%. Now, I point this out for a few reasons.
1.) I've run Western States and it's not worth a $375 price tag. This is simply a product of supply and demand and I don't think the money taken in is going where it needs to go or is being spent in ways congruent with my own morals.
2.) Besides it being the first 100 miler in the country.. there isn't anything else special about Western States.
3.) Since well before 2007, The Vermont 100 has had an entry fee of $200.... it hasn't been raised in more then 5 years as far as I know and an e-mail to the RD told me that she doesn't remember the last time they increased the fee either.

A Closer Look
I was the race director for a 200, 100 and 50 mile trail race in Vermont back in 2008. I looked at the chance to direct races as an opportunity to give back to the community that had given so much to me. Race directing is VERY time consuming and I applaud those who do it. It's a thankless job for sure. For those who make a living out of race directing, good for you... I'm sure there are many who'd love to do the same. But I think some of the pay days these RD's are taking is a bit much. Case in point; WS100.
WS100 RD PayChecks:
2008: $45,000
2007: $43,000
(According to 990 Filings)

There are other races in our country that have followed this logic.
JFK 50
2006 Fee = $50
2009 Fee = $150 (+200% over 3 years)

2009 Fee = $300
2010 Fee = $800 (+167% over 1 year)

2008 Fee = $275
2011 Fee = $350 (+27%)
(Max Charge for Late Entries)

What do all of these races have in common besides the huge increases? All three races have race directors that take HUGE pay checks. We're talking in the thousands. Consider if you will that Leadville generates $263,000 in revenue from the 100 Mile Trail Run Alone. Badwater takes in $72,000 from 90 runners. But I think the number that's most aggravating is the one where in a 990 filing, we can see that Western States has $185,000 in assets, just kind of hanging around.

Lead By Example
For the past 4 years I've run in the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run. For the past 4 years, I've paid $200... every year... EVERY year to run the race. It's a fundraiser for a great organization in Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sport and to my knowledge, there isn't hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets hanging around for a rainy day. I'd MUCH rather run a race, organized and run with integrity such as this, as opposed to those who seem to only be interested in profiting off of popularity brought to them by New York Times Best Selling Books. (WS100, Badwater and Leadville)

The Grand Slam = BROKE
So, in order to run the Grand Slam of Ultra-Running one must now shell out around $1100 in entry fee's alone for four races. Start piling on the costs of travel, lodging, crew, meals, souvenirs, etc... and it's unlikely that many will be able to afford it. Perhaps this is why not many younger runners have run the Grand Slam since 2006.. the last time it was reasonable to even be able to pay for the entire adventure. So much for ultra-land fostering growth in the sport.

Other Popular 100 Prices
Rocky Racoon: $175
Wasatch: $175 (Grand Slam Race)
Arkansas Traveller: $180
Vermont: $200 (Grand Slam Race)
Mohican: $225
Bighorn: $225
Bear: $225
Hardrock: $250
Angeles Crest: $295
Leadville: $350
WS100: $375

Perhaps one day.. money will grow on trees....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bucket Kicking...

I had a long phone conversation tonight with A family member while driving myself to the Catskills. I'm job shadowing at a resort down here and the 4 hour drive down left me scrambling through scrambled thoughts. The conversation eventually drifted to me talking about my running career. Something that's weighed heavily on my mind for a few months now. The main theme as of late is WTF am I doing?? I recently quit the ultra-list. I have my reasons for leaving of course, one of which is the fact that I've had a few cranky months on there. No one's fault but my own but it's forced me to try and figure out why was I cranky at all. So I've thought and thought deep.

As I stated in a post last week, my year didn't go according to plan and there's many reasons for that. Whatever the reasons, the fact of the matter is that I entreated myself into the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning without properly training for it. And in the end, I feel like a giant ass. With slow times at Western States and Vermont then timing out at Leadville.. I'll admit it that I'm rather embarrassed. When I started my Run Across NH, I knew damn well in my mind that there was no way in hell we were doing it all... but I tried anyway. I guess thats part of my stubborn nature. That run wasn't so much about making it to Monadnock as it was trying to educate others and inspire some to utilize local areas better. Yet I digress...

In my conversation with My family member I told her how I felt, how disappointed I am with my year. I mean, I only finished a loop at Barkley, finally ran and finished Western States, survived VT 3 weeks later and then made it out to Leadville. As she pointed out, there aren't many people in the sport who've ever done all of that in one year or those who might even consider it. This forced the conversation deeper into the WTF am I doing?? It's times like these where I am forced to sit back and evaluate where I've been in the sport and where I am going. What do I REALLY want to accomplish. What's the point?!

I entered this sport as a hiker, just looking to push myself over vast distances. A 23 year old "kid," in a sport full of old goats, just looking for adventure. To spend days out in the woods, traversing mountains and seeing the land. Somewhere along the way, this vision has been blurred. I've trailed a bit off this course.. and it turned into doing, doing, doing. Perhaps it's a bit of anxiety of getting older, graduating college, getting a real job finally, etc. I feel like my life is ending soon... when it'll only just be beginning. I wanted to once again shove 10 pounds of shit into a 1 pound bag before it was too late...

Yet here I am.. what do i want to do in this sport moving forward. I've been at this for 5 years now.. and I really do know the things I want to accomplish. Here they are in no particular order:

1.) Hardrock 100
2.) Return to Leadville 100
3.) Wasatch 100
4.) Finish The Grand Slam of Ultra-Running
5.) Atacama Crossing
6.) Trans-Rockies Run
7.) Sub 24 at Western States
8.) San Juan Solstice
9.) Miwok 100K
10.) Canadian Death Race

Most of these adventures are mountains races as you'll see. I'm not really into the races where running is the main feature though I'll fully admit, I want to finish Leadville and get that sub-24 hour buckle at Western States. The rest of these races are long, grueling, mountainous adventures. This was the basis for my journey into endurance events and I think I need to find my way back. I just love being outside, no pressure to perform, just pressure to enjoy the journey. I long for that again..

Sherpa John

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Manchester City Miracle Version 2.0

Manchester City Marathon
26.2 Miles - Manchester, NH
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Team Relay
Every once in awhile, something happens in your life where you realize that your work is worth while. I've made it my life's work and my mission on this earth to inspire as many people as I can. To help as many people as possible realize their own true Human Potential. To help individuals realize that through some of life's more exceptional experiences, you too can accomplish anything you put your mind to. This past Sunday in Manchester, NH is where some of my work has finally come to fruition. I've said it before and I'll say it here again, that in all the work I do, my family tends to be the hardest people to get through to. While I was raised with the belief that you can do anything you put your mind to, I see a flurry of hypocrisy in my genetic relatives that at times leaves me speechless, aggravated and on the verge of giving up my mission. Until this past weekend...

Leg 1: Sibling Motivation
We arrived in Manchester dangerously close to the start of the race. It was my step-mother Helen who suggested first that we run the Relay here as a family team. unsure of if she could run a 6 mile leg and after having not heard form her for her decision, my sister Ann stepped forward to take the spot. My sister Ann who up until today had yet to run further then one and a half miles at any given time previously. She's never been a runner, isn't a runner... but she's stubborn. She has a ton of heart, some motivation, and if anything she has hope. She trained with my nephew Timmy in the months heading into the race, repeating out loud how much she hated running and how much it hurt. Yet this morning as the air is frigidly cold and windy on Elm St, I found her ready to run. hat, gloves, knee brace and a "Why the hell am I doing this." It was perfect.

I walked with her to the very end of the crowd of people and told her there'd be no pressure back here. We stood around, shivering a bit as the national anthem was sung. Here we were, two siblings, who grew up in this city the son and daughter of blue collar workers just trying to make it... about to run some miles together down memory lane. The race started, we walked across the starting line and then we began to run slowly. It was all about Ann's pace. We knew we had to average 13.6 min miles over the course of 26.2 miles for our team to finish officially.. our simple goal was to finish the first 10K of the race, at that pace. Ann thought for sure it'd take her 2 hours or more to run the 6 miles. I didn't care if it took 3...

We ran together down through the mill yard and I pulled every pacing trick I could out of my bag of tricks. I engaged my sister in conversation about anything just to make sure that she was running and running at a pace where she could hold conversation. This conversation pace, is a pace where you can run at a decent clip while still breathing. It's just below thresh-hold and she knew none of this. At the first hill an ultra-friend of mine, Tammy, and I were yukking it up. She laughed that I was running a hill as she said, "Sherpa you NEVER run the hills," my sister refused to walk the first hill so.. so did I. We ran as best we could and kept running when we could. Before we knew it, we were at the very tail end of the entire marathon/half marathon field. It was us, a handful of others and the police escort.

My sister kept looking back to apologize to the cop. I kept telling her that the longer it took us the more overtime he got... "Don't worry about it! Stop apologizing." We walked when she felt like walking but the further into the run we got and the more the miles began to tick away the more my sister wanted to run. She wanted to run that she almost couldn't walk. We eventually did walk those hills, but we moved at a good clip. I tried to give her a Powergel Chew, she spit it out in a fit of laughter at how awful it tasted. We looked for Halloween Candy at aid stations.. nothing but water and gatorade. We walked and ran and walked... we picked objects in the distance to run to, we picked objects to walk to. Before we knew it, we were making the turn at Dorrs Pond and out on the trail. My sister, after more then 5 miles of running was finally feeling discomfort but she kept running anyway.

We ran together that last bit on the trail. I can't describe here or anywhere how proud I was of my sister. There were no excuses, no reason why not, just the belief that she could run 6.2 miles and then here she was at the end of 6.2 miles. Sweaty, breathing heavy, sore legs and hips but smiling from ear to ear and happy. Not only did she make it the first 10K of the race but she did it in 1:16... a far cry from the 2_+ hours she thought it would take. The only problem now was, our crew and her husband weren't in the transition area. We had arrived way sooner then they had anticipated us to and they were away eating at Dunkin Donuts. My brother-in-law Mike was supposed to run the 2nd leg but since he was no where to be found, I knelt down and took the chip off my sisters ankle and took of running up the hill.

Leg #2: Run Like The Wind
After having run 12ish minute miles with my sister, I knew it was up to Mike and I to pick up the pace, to give Sarah a little cushion with the final leg and to ensure we finish in under 6 hours. So with that, and the chip around my ankle, after having run the first 10K with my sister as a warm-up; I settled into my own threshold pace. This would immediately turn into the greatest game of pac-man I've ever played. My sister and I rolled into the transition area as the very last two people to come into the 6.2 mile point of the race... out of EVERYONE. One after another I started to catch people. While some huffed and puffed, I could hear the frustrations of the many runners who felt that they were standing still as compared to my blazing pace. I was now running 7-8 minute miles with my mission to get to the half marathon point in an hour or less.

One after another... and about a hundred or so of that, and I was still feeling great. At first I felt like I was running much too fast, gasping for air, hurting a bit but eventually I settled into a pace around 8 minute miles where I wasn't breathing heavy. This was around mile 10 where I was trying to maintain a decent clip while also preparing for the final run downhill towards Elm Street. I had worn my Nathan Waist Pack so I had no need to stop in an aid station for water or other. I just focused on what was ahead of me, focused on runners up ahead and then catching them then finding another. This went on and on and on. I lent encouragement to those with their names on the backs of their shirts. I lent encouragement to other relay runners I passed. To those who were walking or stretching I offered gel packs or salt (they all declined). I knew I wasn't alone out there and every one of these other runners were helping me get the job done quickly and inspiring me.

After topping out on Hanover St. now began the long 2ish mile run downhill back to Elm St. I picked up my pace and let gravity take me downtown. As I made it right down in the heart of the city, the wind picked up and blew in my face almost standing me up but I cut through it. Cheers rang out from both sides of the street. Half Marathoners to the left, Marathon and relay right. I took the hard right onto Elm where I saw my family waiting in the transition area. I ran in, Mike bent down and took the chip off my ankle and put it on his wrist. I took off running with him, "John.... you can stay back if you want." "Nah, I want to run the whole thing. I'll run with you." I thought I'd be pacing him. I was unprepared for what would happen next.

Leg 3: Holy Blazing Tornado!
Mike and I ran over the Merrimack River and into Manchester's West Side. Up the hill into Manchester's old "French City With-in a City," and across Rimmon Heights. We talked along the way about how Ann had done on leg one and then how I tried my best during leg 2. During leg two I had run faster for further then I'd run in the last 2 years of running. I ran the 7 miles back to Elm St in a tiring 1:07. After talking with Mike for a bit I pointed out that if we could keep the pace going we'd give Sarah an excellent cushion and still finish with a great time as a team. That's all I needed to say. From that moment on I struggled to keep up with Mike. I was expecting to pace him but after the first half of the race, half of that which was faster then I'm used to, I was cooked. Mike began to take off and I struggled to keep up.

As we came to the Kelly St Bridge, Mike took off across the span and I couldn't keep up. I played it smart and hung back, letting him go. I knew he knew what to do and he was doing it well running a 7:30 min mile on average. I was beyond elated to see this happen. I wasn't the least bit upset at not being able to keep up because I knew at this point that we were kicking ass. That's not all, we were running this thing about an hour faster then planned at this point and Mike was running faster then I thought he was capable of over the course of 8 miles. I stopped at a porta-potty for a Sherpa Ritual and when I came out he was nowhere to be seen.

I kept running as best I could. In all the hustle of getting to town and then chasing Mike, my hamstrings were now shot. I mean.. SHOT. It had been a very long time since I'd been in so much pain and I forgot the essential role hamstrings play in our abilities to remain upright. Hunkered forward, I trudged along as best I could to make it to the next transition area. Around St. Anselm's college I realized I was running next to the News 9 Weather man. "Skarupa" We talked for a few miles while running to the top of St. A's then I took off down the hill. I ran into the next transition area where I saw Ann and the Kids. They ushered me into the van and we took off to a point on the course about 2.5 miles up.

Leg 4: Sarah
I saw Laura Bleakly round the turn somewhere at Mile 23.6. So I got out of the car knowing that there was no way we were that far ahead. Laura was pacing the 4 hour marathoners to their finish. I got out of the van and sat on the sidewalk trying to stretch out my pained hamstrings. They hurt and hurt bad. After about 10 minutes Mike and Sarah came running down the hill. At the last transition, Mike handed the chip to Sarah and she took off alone. Mike had come in some 15 minutes ahead of me after he blasted his section of the course. He eventually caught Sarah to keep her some company as I was supposed to.

They appeared from off a hill and the three of us ran together. We ran through the last neighborhood on the west side before crossing the new pedestrian bridge back over the Merrimack. Sarah was doing great, running at her own threshold and managing her own race. There was no doubt that she was in charge of her run, running her own race and doing so comfortably and at a good pace. I was so proud of her. We settled into her pace while crossing the river, around Fisher Cats stadium and back up towards Elm. We only walked a few times as Sarah told us she'd run almost the entire way. Sarah has run 4.5 miles before, today's run was putting her at a personal distance record of 5.1 miles. It was so great that the three of us could run together and then, around the final corner there was Ann and the boys.

The entire family was out here. Sarah, myself and the Robinsons. As we ran the final mile together I was elated. My sister was running with her husband now, trying to keep up with Sarah and I who were trying to keep up with the boys. What a GREAT feeling this was for me. My family had finally gotten it. You CAN do anything you put your mind to and nothing in this world is impossible. We all peeled off to let Sarah run it in. She picked up the pace on Elm St and sprinted across the finish line. Score one for Team Sherpa on This day!

Our team time was 4:21:26.
I managed to run all but 2.5 miles of the race.
We came in 51st out of 67 Relay Teams. Not bad for being dead last at mile 6.
We were 30th out of the 37 Coed Relay Teams.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Manchester City Marathon

Yesterday I went to the Manchester City Marathon expo to pick up my teams race packet. This weekend I'm running in the Marathon Relay here in Manchester, NH; my hometown, with a few members of my family. I first ran this marathon in 2007 and heading into the expo, I was curious to see what kind of changes had been made over the last 3 years to hopefully improve the quality of the expo. The answer, not much. Why? Because the marathon here falls on the same weekend as New York City's marathon and that's where all the vendors are. Still, I will admit that while walking around at this years expo, I did find that as compared to in 2007 the expo is definitely geared more towards "running" and not so much just business as usual.

My step-mother Helen was working packet pick-up, something she enjoys doing every year. After walking around the expo I approached her spot and stood beside her. She had been talking to a Manchester Native and it quickly turned into the downward spiral of "marathon culture" that I've grown to hate.

Runner: "Well, I've run a marathon before, in Burlington, so this should be a piece of cake."
Step-Mom: "That's great, so you're ready to go?"
Runner: "Yeah... Burlington, VT. It's a tough race."
Step-Mom: "So have you ever considered running ultras?"
Runner: "NOPE!"
Step-Mom: "Do you think Ultra-runners are crazy?"
Runner: "Yes!"
Sherpa: "Ok... well what makes us so crazy?"
Runner: "I guess it's just because I could never do it."
Sherpa: "That's why you know... the first step to running an ultra.. OR A MARATHON... is believing that you can do it."
Runner: "I barely have the time to train for a marathon so I know I wouldn't have the time to train for an ultra."
Sherpa: "I am willing to bet money that you've run more miles in training for this marathon then I've probably run in the last 6 months total."
Runner: "Don't think so.."
Sherpa: "How does $1000 sound?"

A few things happened here in this conversation. 1.) Why did my step mother even need to go there? Am I crazy? Or just determined, stubborn, dedicated, etc?  But then it heads into 2.) The Marathoners Chest-Thumping. The Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, VT was my first marathon. I've run it twice. Is it hard? Yeah. Now granted I can understand the level of pride that comes along with running a marathon. For some folks it's likely the hardest thing they'll ever do. I guess there is some kind of disconnect here that I don't understand. I mean... when an Ultra-runner shows up to run Vermont.. they don't walk around and say... "Well... I ran Western States so this will be a piece of cake." Just sayin...

But the one thing this runner is 100% right about is that.. so long as he's living under the mindset that he could never run an ultra; he never will. But I'll argue with him to the death that we're not crazy.. not one bit. In standing at the expo and listening to and talking to folks... I'm willing to certify that I was the least crazy person in the room, especially less crazy then this cat.

So, Ann, Mike, Sarah and I will be running the Manchester City Marathon Relay tomorrow. We have no time goal. our only goal is to have fun and finish regardless of how long it takes us. The best part about this run is that the members of my family who get me the most.. who understand why I run the most, are all out there running with me. I consider this to be a pretty major miracle for me seeing as so much of my family still doesn't seem to "get it."

Happy Trails.... er.. pavement?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

29 Week 2

Week 2 of being 29 years old was a lot of fun. Ended up job shadowing on the Canopy Tour at Bretton Woods Resort and then celebrated Halloween with friends at a Halloween Party and the Portsmouth Halloween Parade. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Back To The Drawing Board

As I sit here in my computer chair, I'm also a little remiss about the year that was 2010. We survived a very busy year and made it through the summer. It's November now. There's no more races on the horizon, just chilly runs in the woods with friends as we run our typical One A Month 50K training runs. For the first time in my running career, I have nothing on the horizon that I am gunning for. Or maybe I should clarify by saying that I have nothing really pressing on the horizon. I have some dreams, some desires, but I think I have a long way to go to see them through to fruition. I'll throw my name into the Western States lottery next week, mostly just because if I ever want to try the Grand Slam again I need to start accumulating extra tickets in the lottery to have a shot at getting in again. I fear it's a long road back to trying the slam again but at least the next time I'll have experience on my side.

I guess I really can't say that I'm all that disappointed with how the year went. From Barkley to Western States, From a PR in Pittsfield to helping a runner at the VT50. From The Vermont 100 to struggling at Leadville. All the way down to an adventurous yet short Run Across NH. What I've lacked in finish lines I've gained in victories. While I certainly travelled a lot and saw a great many parts of our country, I also learned that I need to take a step back and re-evaluate how this ride is going. This is the time of year when I usually stop and rest. After all, I won't lie that I'm pretty tired. I'll rest a little for sure, but I also recognize that I have a LOT of work to do in moving forward. I think I've reached a time in my running career where I've taken my base-line level of fitness of granted and thought I go do more on just that then training as hard as I should have. I see this as an insult to my fellow runners so to them, I apologize.

Goals for Year 2011
1.) Train More
My miles for 2010 are the lowest they've been since my first full year of running. If I expect to continue running long distance races, uninjured and enjoyably, I need to get back into a regular running regime which has me running a minimum of 5 days a week to maintain weekly mileage goals.

2.) Figure Out Nutrition
This appeals to both during the race and during my every day life. My eating habits drastically changed once I moved out of my mom's house in 2005 but mostly with the types of food I was eating. My main problem is that I am a very picky eater and fear that I might actually have food allergies to the types of foods I eat on a regular basis. This in turn has prevented me from losing the weight I hoped to lose this year. Also, I'm finding that during races I've been having a hard time with food digestion and in turn, acid reflux. More often then not I feel the need to vomit while out on the course and finally did in September. I need to go back to the drawing board and experiment with foods to better determine what foods work best for me while on the run and foods that I can keep down and digest.

3.) Return to the Gym/Trainer
I've really trailed away from going to the gym on a regular basis and I've felt the neglect here the most. I need to get back to strengthening my core muscles and some of my upper body to handle the stresses of running ultras. Whether this is by going to a regular gym, cross fit or rehiring a personal trainer.. time will tell.

Race Goals
1.) Leadville - Seeking Redemption
2.) Hardrock - Time to start trying to get in
3.) Pittsfield Snowshoe 100 - Try to see how far I can go in the snow
4.) Find new 50s wherever I settle down

Life Goals
1.) UNH - I May I'll be graduating from UNH with a Bachelor's Degree in Outdoor Education
2.) Move - I hope to leave New England an relocate some place with a change of pace, better atmosphere and greater career opportunities.
3.) Depression - I'd love to be in a place where I can get off of the medications

I have a lot ahead of me in 2011. A lot of life changes to come, attempting to settle down. While I'll continue to run and race I'm definitely going to have to be more choosy about when and where I race. I think this is a good thing because in the years where I've been most successful were the years where I didn't try to conquer the world. They were the years where my focus was on more training then racing.. and running for health and adventure as opposed to slaying a dragon. Hopefully going back to the drawing board will once again help me t realize my true Human Potential.

Monday, November 1, 2010


One of the usual questions I get when folks hear that I run ultra's is "What Do You Eat?" This of course comes right after the more simpler question "Do You Eat?" During this years RANH I had the crew keep tabs on what I ate during the 24 hours that I was actually out running around West Central New Hampshire. Here are the results:

2 Bananas
1 Jelly Dunkin Donut
2 Boosts
5 Powergels
Cup of Chicken Broth
Handful of Grapes
1 Strawberry Banana Stonyfield Farms Yogurt Smoothie
1 Small Bag of Lays Potato Chips
1/2 of an Orange
1 Can of Ginger Ale
1 Can of Coke
3 S-Caps
2 Cups of Mom's Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
3 Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
2 Slices of Cheese Pizza