Thursday, August 1, 2013

RR: 2013 Vermont 100

July 20-21, 2013
Woodstock, VT
The 25th Anniversary Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run
Pre-Race:
It had been one incredibly long journey over the last 8 months preparing for my 5th Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run. I imagined that I'd feel an immense amount of self-imposed pressure returning "home" to run in my favorite 100 Mile Event. Vermont is the only 100 I've been able to finish in under 24-hours. In 4 previous starts of the race, I have 4 finishes. The pressure would come from going 5 for 5, making all of that hard work pay off and finish in sub-24 hours, and achieve my ultimate goal of running a Personal Best 100 Mile time of 23 Hours and 19 Minutes or faster.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Isolation


Almost 4 years have passed now since I first met Randy and Quinn on Mount Agamenticus in Southern Maine. Prior to that meeting, I had never met a blind hiker, though had heard stories of a few in existence. They were largely elusive in nature to say the least. It has been an immense pleasure to get to know Randy over these years and to watch hime develop and ultimately flourish as your every day peak-bagger. When I first met Randy, I wrote a trip report of my own titled "Seeing Is Believing." Everytime I hike with Randy, I try to bring some new folks along so they can indeed see it, and believe it, that a blind man and his dog are legitimately tackling each and every Four-Thousdand Footer in New Hampshire.
I've done the 48, a few rounds now actually. I attempted to hike them all in one winter and came a few peaks short in the final week. I know a small part of the struggles, both mental and physical that Randy is taking on in his quest to complete the 48. Certainly winter hiking comes with perks. The rocks and roots are largely filled in by deep sticky maritime snows. Summer offers challenges some would say unimaginable for this team. And yet, they soldier on. The rocks and roots are all there. So are the raging stream crossings of an unusually wet spring and summer, mud pits of various and sometimes surprising depths adorn the trails, and the bugs are as bad as they've ever been.

Monday, July 15, 2013

RR: North Fork 50K

June 29, 2013
North Fork 50K
Pine, CO
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North Fork, a race run in Central Colorado on trails notorious for being hot. A majority of the race traverses through some old burn area terrain in Pine, CO. Wildfires that happened nearly 20 years ago, and the vegetation is rally only just starting to come around again. I've heard enough about this race to get me up the hill to check it out. I was on the fence for awhile.. do I run the 50K or the 50 Mile? 3 Weeks out from the Vermont 100, I decided the 50K would make a great last test before the big race.

My goal, as always, was to finish. A sub 6 hours finish would be great.. but setting a new PR for 50K would be the perfect day. I needed a good race for my confidence heading into Vermont. I'm all ready worrying about if I trained enough. Did I run enough miles? Did I do enough climbing? Am I ready? Questions I haven't asked in a long time, which is good because it means I'm scared. I respect the sport, I respect these distances. Standing on the starting line, I was feeling all warm inside. Once again, I had made a great choice. Here was a race that was old school to the core. There was no inflatable start/finish line. My shirt had no sponsor's littered all over it. It was as grass roots as it gets. The race is directed by an ultra-runner, all of the aid stations were manned by ultra-runners.. this was a race for ultra runners.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Gear Review: Balega Socks

Balega Enduro 2 Quarter socks with Drynamix
MSRP: $11
Produced in Cape Town South Africa
Distributed from Hickory, NC
Company Website
Product Page

I had been e-mailing an old friend of mine about outdoor business issues here in Colorado a few months back, when I noticed her signature at the bottom of her e-mail had changed. I noticed the new company she worked for, called Balega, and checked out the website. Socks.. When it comes to adventuring in the outdoors, there is a rather important saying, "Your heels are your wheels." Therefore, we never can check out too many brands to determine what will work for us, and take care of us, the best.

So I asked her if she wouldn't mind kicking me a pair of socks. I specifically asked for a pair of Balega Enduro 2 Quart socks as they sounded closest to the Darn Tough's I've been wearing, every day, since 2008. She gladly sent me a few pairs, free of charge, to check them out. There was no catch, I didn't even promise a review. But I feel I'd be cheating my readers if I didn't tell you about them.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Interview: 100 Head/Heart/Feet


This July in the Green Mountains of Vermont, a very special documentary is being filmed. 100: Head/Heart/Feet chronicles the drama of Zac Wieluns, an ultra-runner from Maine and a member of The Trail Monsters running club. Zac has failed to finish Vermont in his previous two attempts, and is hoping the third time’s the charm.
The film is being produced by Hammer and Saw Films of Colchester, VT. Michael Mooney is Co-Director and Producer of the film, along with Associate Producer and Ultra-Runner Ben Watts. I have the high privilege of interviewing these two about the film and ways in which our running community can help them out.
(Don’t forget to check out a sneak-peak of the film by viewing the trailer at the bottom of this interview. Also, the film’s producers need your support to make this event happen. You can offer your support byCLICKING HERE.)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

RR: 2013 Golden Gate Dirty Thirty

June 1, 2013
Golden Gate Dirty Thirty
Black Hawk, CO
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I had heard a lot about the Dirty Thirty since moving to Colorado. Friends tossed around words like challenging course, relentless uphills, beautiful scenery, tough. I had to find out for myself if the race lived up to it's reputation and, thankfully, it didn't disappoint. The way they get this thing off the ground is humbling. 300 runners start the 50K and they all squeeze into less than 100 parking spaces. Runners are requested to carpool to the event. But wait a minute.. 300 runners for a 50K! I marveled at the size of the field at the starting line. I looked at Jeff Friedman and said, "Jesus, this is the new marathon now-a-days huh?" It sure is..

The Vermont 100 is inching ever closer. This race was to play itself out as a tough long run where I accumulated some time on my feet. But I needed more. How do I truly train for 100 miles? I want to be prepared for the last 30 miles of a 100 mile race. How do I do that. I stayed up far too late the night before the run, and drank. I then only got one hour of very broken sleep. Which means that when my carpool crew showed up at 4:30am, I was still a bit drunk and incredibly sleep deprived. Perfect... let's race!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Video: 2013 Grand Canyon R2R2R

"Finally took a moment to sit back in the chair and reflect on another weekend at The Grand Canyon. Something about that place is sheer voodoo.. and in a good way. It's magic is unmatched, it pulls you in. When you leave the ditch, some how your soul stays behind for awhile.. freakin... un... real."

I had another amazing adventure in The Grand Canyon. This years run took me from The North Rim to the South Rim via Bright Angel Trail and back. The adventure measured 52 miles with a side trip to Ribbon Falls on the way back to cool down. It took me 14 hours and 12 minutes to complete this years run (R2R2R Time) and 14:27 with the run to and from camp. 3 hours shorter than last years adventure. A more detailed report is coming soon, but for now.. please enjoy this years 7 minute video of the fun we all had. Huge thanks to my friends from the Front Range who joined me.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Review: Trail Box

Last week I received an e-mail from a reader by the name of Stuart Fingerhut. Stuart is a long time reader of this blog, and he's started a new concept that he wanted me to check out and write about. First, a little background. Over the last few months, BirchBox.com has picked up steam as a reputable way for consumers to test products. BirchBox caters to Men and Women by offering a small monthly sampling of Grooming & Beaty Brand Products. Consumers can join online by paying a $20 monthly fee, in return they receive a monthly "Birch Box" in the mail with trial sized grooming and lifestyle product samples.

Trail-Box.com works the same way. It is designed specifically for the new, or experienced, trail and ultra runner. The monthly fee is $10 a month, though for a short time the first month is only $1 and the 2nd the mere $10. Once you sign up, you'll receive a small package in the mail that is rather professionally wrapped.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Niwot's Challenge Report

It was the race designed to get harder and harder the further in you went. The 2013 Niwot's Challenge ended up being a greater success than even I could have hoped for. This morning, through the exhausting fog of directing such a race, I am proud of the performance of all those who came out; and very much enjoying viewing the pictures of what failure looks like.

This Is Niwots
The Niwot's Challenge was designed after two iconic running events in Ultra-running lore. One, obviously being, the Barkley Marathons in Tennessee. The other being the More and More Difficult (MMD) 50K in New Hampshire's White Mountains. Runners would be tasked with negotiating some of the most rugged and taxing terrain in Colorado's Front Range. They search for books along the way to prove their presence at mandatory mountain top locations. They had 10-hours to make it to the 25.5 mile halfway point of the run, and 24-hours to complete the entire course.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

RR: Rockin' K 50 Miler 2013

Saturday, April 6, 2013
Rockin' K 50 Mile Ultra
50 Miles - Kanapolis State Park, KS
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"Our patience will achieve more than our force."
~Edmund Burke


Pre-Race
I travelled to Kansas with my Colorado Mountain Ninja brethren, to see where my training progress is in regards to my Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run training plan. My training started back in October, where running 6 miles was quite a task, and I weighed a175 lbs. Since then, I've lost 20 lbs, and more closely followed my training plan then I ever have before. The Rockin' K 50 Mile Run near Ellsworth, KS, was chosen to be my "shake out" run. A run where I'll get a first hand look at what's working, and what's not working, with my ongoing training towards the Vermont 100. But over the last month of training, it started to turn into a bit more than that.

After a great performance at the Twin Mountain Trudge in February, and a great run with the High Line Canal 100K Fat Ass... I wanted to see what more I could do. For a race, I'd put down the cameras, put aside being social, and run. My fellow ninjas Mark Larson and Jerry Armstrong would also be running in the 50 mile run. Historically, Jerry and Mark are much faster runners than I. They are talented, fit, slim, fast.. they look like what people think runners look like. Mark has been traveling abroad for the winter months, a nomadic bum by nature. Jerry has focused a great deal of his training on elevation gain. Both of these guys, are two people who would take a "slow-day" when thinking of training with me. I guess part of me wanted to prove that I'm not the slow guy these days. That I can hang, that I can push and challenge as much as they. That it doesn't matter if you run 100 miles in a week or 50, what matters is that your training is tact, on track, has meaning, and you want it. Afterall, 90 percent of this is mental.. right?

Monday, March 11, 2013

On Dieting: PART 2

I am both amazed and humbled by the response of last week's post On Dieting, right here on this blog. Obviously, diet in Ultra-running is a popular subject.. but so is dieting in general. Much of the personal responses I've received included continued encouragement, but also with similar questions. The most common line of questioning was: "Any more in depth information on what your daily diet was to drop like that? " I knew after my original post that I couldn't just throw up results and leave it at that. After all, research shows you all stop reading after so many words. So, it's led to this follow up post where I'm going to outline as best I can, the choices I've made and how I've managed to see the success I have on this diet.

So, I'll start with the elephant in the room. Exercise. I've been exercising religiously since October 16th.   A few folks questioned my training for July's Vermont 100 starting to Early. Most runners are just now getting back to their wheelhouse workouts. I've been there for a few months now. I knew I had work to do, and I made the choice to do it. But what does it look like? I started out slow, baby steps, towards getting back into fitness. Like I said, that first 3 mile run on October 16th was painful and didn't offer me much in the way of hope. Here is a snapshot of what the first week of November looked like:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

On Dieting

Back in October I introduced my plan to lose weight, get back into 100 miler shape, and live a healthier lifestyle. In case you missed it you can read about it here: A Personal Revolution. In that post I said, "Though I am about to embark on the most difficult life change of my entire existence. This change, is a diet change, and it is the basis of my pending weight loss and preparation for the Vermont 100." This could not have been more understated. Over the last 5 months, I have followed my dieting plan as closely as possible. I've learned a lot during this process and I've learned a lot about other people. It truly is amazing living a healthier life looking back into the "other world." I'll admit it.. I'm a people watcher.

In this post I'm offering up a more in-depth discussion about my diet. How things have been going, the challenges I've faced, thoughts I've had, and really just try to share with all of you a very real look inside of where I'm at.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

RR: 2013 Twin Mountain Trudge

February 23, 2013
Twin Mountain Trudge
22-Mile Edition
Medicine Bow Mountains, WY
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Pre-Race
I woke up early to drive up to the Medicine Bow Mountains of Southern Wyoming. The Twin Mountain Trudge was celebrating it's 9th year. An event that, regardless of the trail conditions (see: amount of snow) forbids the use of snowshoes or any other flotation device. Though, they allow hiking/ski poles, yaktrax, micro-spikes etc. We haven't received much snow in the area this winter, which initially generated thoughts of "an easy race." Race Director Alec churned out a FaceBook update the night before, informing us of high winds and minimal snow on the course. Depths ranged from bare spots to knee deep pow. I knew that the whole course wasn't bare, and a certain degree of challenge would be present. But I wouldn't fully understand until I showed up.

After arrived in a random Forest Service Picnic Area parking lot, I checked in with Alec and allowed him to check my gear for the items we were required to carry for the entire run. A wind jacket, pants, gloves, warm hats, fire starter, a whistle, headlamps for the 22 milers, 40 calories of food, 40oz of water.. I'm probably forgetting something. I had flashbacks to my first ultra, where I showed up with a monster pack and more than I needed. I knew I was doing the same today. A big pack and too much gear. Instead of a wind jacket I packed a puffy coat. After all, it's 15 degrees at the start with 30-50mph winds. I packed winter pants I typically wear mountaineering. 70oz of water. 600 Calories of food. My pack looks huge, but... it carries light.

With a wicked wind still whipping across the starting area, we all huddled for the pre-race meeting. I was waiting until the last possible seconds to take off my fleece pants, puffy coat and be ready to roll out. As soon as the meeting ended, I huddled at my car and stripped down. My toes are all ready cold and hurting from the nip. I just needed to finally get moving. And then, Alec put a flask to his lips and with a swig of whiskey, we were off.

Monday, February 25, 2013

VB: Frozen Dead Guy 50K

This years Frozen Dead Guy Fat Ass 50K took place on Saturday, February 9, 2013. We ran from Nederland, CO (Home to the famous Frozen Dead Guy), to Boulder, CO via trails and backroads. To check out this years adventure, watch the video below!

Monday, February 18, 2013

By The Numbers: Part 3

This is Part 2 of a three part series taking a closer look at my training numbers leading up to my four previous Vermont 100 finishes.
To read Part 1, please click HERE.
To read Part 2, please click HERE.

So here it is, one last look at four different years of Vermont 100 Training. I consider myself lucky to have finished all four of the Vermont 100 I have started. I'm even more grateful that three of those runs were in under 24 hours.  2007 - 23:19 | 2008 - 23:37 | 2009 23:27 | 2010: 28:58



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

By The Numbers: Part 2

This is Part 2 of a three part series taking a closer look at my training numbers leading up to my four previous Vermont 100 finishes. To read Part 1, please click HERE.

My third Vermont 100 was in 2009. By this point in my 100 mile running career, I was feeling pretty indestructible. I had just finished 2008 with an Epic run across the Widest Part of New Hampshire. A non-stop 125 mile jaunt for S&G's. What else was there to prove? Though, by now the Vermont 100 had become my hometown-hundred. It's where everybody ultra in New England would be during that weekend in July and I just truly loved being there. So I set out to train as I had the previous two years. A periodization training plan that slowly built up in monthly miles, following a well deserved rest in November. I ran almost an identical schedule with 2008 in preparing for 2009 and the results were not-surprisingly similar. The biggest factor in training for the 2009 Vermont 100, was the beginning of my now annual winter fat ass series.. which really helped keep my eyes on the prize and working towards the goal of another sub-24 hours.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

By The Numbers: Part 1

It's the new year, 2007. I've just completed a 3 month stint of what I then considered "Hardcore Ultra-running." My goals for the fall of 2006, were to run three 50 mile races in three months time. It was July of 2006 when I paced a stranger during that years Vermont 100, and I finally got it in my head that running such a vast distance was indeed possible. I figured, running three 50 milers in three months would be adequate enough to prove myself either right or wrong. I did it, managing to better my time for the distance in each race. Vermont 50 (10:31), Breakers Nifty Fifty Miler (10:05), and the JFK 50 (9:47). After successfully completing that amazing three months, I set my sights on running 100 Miles.

I trained all winter (2006-2007) on mostly roads in New Hampshire. The snow falls heavily there in the winter and buries the trails from November to May. An ultra veteran, living in New Hampshire at the time, mentioned on the Ultra List how training for a spring 100 miler is hard to do when you live in New Hampshire. I wanted to prove him wrong.. so off I went. My first 100 wasn't the Vermont 100 though. I was training for the McNaughton Park 100 Miler. A race held in Illinois, of all places, in mid April.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

On Race Directing

I've been running Ultramarathons now since 2005, just a year after I started running in 2004. You can always read how I got into this sport HERE. I've had the incredible opportunity and the injury free fortune to see most of America on foot. I started blogging in 2004, and blogging here in March 2007. I've shared many opinions and views in that time.. but none of them have been as candid as my views on race directing.

In the last few years, race directing has become as much a part of this sport as running in races itself. It seems like everybody wants a piece of the pie. Everywhere you turn, new trail and/or ultra running clubs are springing up all over the country and their associated races are popping up with them. Instead of folks putting on one race a year, they're hosting a series of races in multiple locations. I've never had a problem with this. I think it's great for our sport. It offers variety, and it offers choices when the more popular events have filled up quicker each year. It creates a unique opportunity for any runner to enjoy an event that's made just for them.