Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks.

This is what I'm most grateful for, my family!

I love Thanksgiving.  It's so nice to have the day off from work, spend time with my family and relax.  It also seems to initiate a kinder gentler way of treating each other.   For this one day in the United States people seem to have a little more patience and caring.  Everybody just seems a little bit nicer because they have taken the time to reflect on the good in their life.

Just think what our lives would be like if we could carry that mentality and attitude every day of the year, not just on this special day. 

I read a lot of books by folks who look at life a little bit differently than the masses.  From Entrepreneurs to deep thinkers/philosophers.  I always seem to take away at least one positive piece of advice from each one of them.  I also try to surround myself with people who are not only successful, but more importantly positive and happy.

One habit I've picked up is the practice of being grateful.  Every day, and I mean every single day, before I get out of bed I spend a few moments reflecting on the things I'm grateful for.  There are several reasons I do this.  One is because I believe in the Law of Attraction.  Simply stated, the LOA says that what you think (positive OR negative) the Universe returns back.  It's exciting to think that if I spend time really thinking about all the good things in my life, the universe will return to me even more.  From how much my life has changed since discovering this, I have to say I'm a big believer that this is real.

The other reason is that it sets the tone for the day to come.  When I wake up I have the choice to focus on the things I'm stressed out or worried about, or I can say a prayer of thanks for the positive things in my life.  I really believe that light obliterates dark, and in the same way, positivity obliterated negativity.  You just can't feel bad when you focus on the good in your life.

I hope this post doesn't come across as preachy.  What I do hope is that anybody reading this makes a conscience decision each and every day to be grateful for the good they have in their life.  Not just on this one day that we set aside to do just that.    Happy Thanksgiving, I'm grateful that all of you are in my life.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Next Chapter for National Powersports

It was only 10 months after I started National Powersports (then known as "The Collectable Trader") that my vision for the company became crystallized.  I knew that I was onto something that was going to be big, and I had an image in my mind of a huge warehouse filled with hundreds and hundreds of motorcycles.  To this day that image has stayed with me.  I even wrote about it in an earlier post called "Using Vision to Change Your Life"

Well, very shortly we are about to get a lot closer to that vision.  On October 29, 2013 National Powersports will be moving to our new location at 319 Commerce Way, Pembroke NH.  This 52,000 square foot facility is beautiful!  We will finally be able to display our complete inventory, which is currently at 650 motorcycles.  I'm so excited and grateful for all of our customers and our incredible team of employees who have shared my vision and worked so hard to make it happen.

Here are some pictures of the construction going on in the building as we get it ready for our opening day, October 29th.

Outside of building.  52,000 square feet with over 100 parking spaces.
Sales Entrance sign going up.
"Big Ass Fan" We put two of these cool fans up.
We are finally going to have a customer lounge!
Main showroom
We had to build this ramp.  Here we are installing the railing.
We replaced all the old light fixtures with these super energy efficient LED ones.  State of the art lighting!
Creating the Parts and Service window.
This is the shop area.  20,000 square feet of room to work on bikes.
I can't wait to be open for business in this building!  I'll update my blog with more pictures as we get closer to our opening day of Tuesday, October 29th!  For those of you wondering where the new building is, here is a map.  It's only .5 mile from our current shop.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Patagonia EVERlong review and giveaway!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, this is going to sound like I'm beating a dead horse. There is a specific type of shoe that I am always searching for.  I love the feel of barefoot, or minimal shoes.  But I need enough cushioning and protection to run Ultras.  Two years ago that shoe didn't exist and I was forced to do a lot of cobbling to try to get what I wanted.  It seems as though I'm not the only one looking for that combination in a shoe, especially now that the popularity of Ultras is rapidly increasing.

Obviously it is not easy to make a shoe that feels like your running barefoot, but still protects your feet and protects against rocks, roots, etc for hours on end.  The newest offering from Patagonia aims to do exactly that (disclaimer: these shoes were provided free of charge for review purposes by Patagonia). Designed with help from Ultrarunner Jeff Browning (impressive list of race results here) I think they have done a great job of meeting both expectations.  

The shoe has "A flexible 4mm drop midsole and outsole allow for a more natural mid to forefoot strike while the 24.5mm/20.5mm (men) and 23mm/19mm (women) stack height provides added cushioning for long-distance comfort. A lightly padded, semi heel counter “pod” secures the heel" as described by Patagonia. 

It actually has some very interesting features, including the most minimal heel of any trail shoe I've ever encountered.  

Putting it on for the first time it felt like putting on a slipper.  Literally.  It feels like there is nothing on your heel.  I was initially concerned that this would lead to a sloppy fit and excessive foot movement.  But that is not the case.   

They feel very light on your feet and in fact only weigh 8.5 Ounces in my size 10.5.

The internal heel "pods" are almost identical in design to the heel on the Montrail Fluid Flex, and they work just as well.  

I have not experienced any heel lift while running and the softness of the heel is very comfortable.The forefoot fits nice and snug with very little lateral slop.  Even running downhill my foot does not slip forward and hit the front of the shoe.  

Speaking of the front of the shoe, the toebox is very roomy and the slight stretchiness of the upper material make it extremely comfortable.  My one complaint about the shoe is the sort of odd shaped toebox.  Specifically, the very front of it is pointy, leaving a gap over my middle toes.   It's not a big deal, but it feels like a "dead" area that I occasionally catch on rocks.  The shoe fits absolutely true to size and its the only area of the shoe that fits a bit oddly, so it's not an issue of it being to big for me.   I would have been tickled pink if the toebox was shaped like the last Patagonia shoe I tried, the Evermore (my review on runblogger here), which has one of the nicest fit of any of the shoes I own.

What I really like about this shoe is the sole.  There is a perfect amount of softness and "squish", but yet its very flexible.  This encourages a nice forefoot stride, but still is comfy when heel striking.  

The tread, while on the minimal side for a trail shoe, provided adequate traction.  I was actually surprised at how much traction they have, but that might be because I had very low expectations since it looks more like a road shoe pattern.  I'm sure in very burly conditions it would become evident that there are no toothy lugs.  I just haven't tested them in those kind of conditions yet.  As a result of this minimal tread, they are extremely smooth on pavement, making them an excellent transitional shoe good for a full day of running on roads and trails.

For another point of view, check out this review by guest blogger Laurie Greenberg on

Patagonia has generously allowed me to give away a free pair of EVERlongs to one lucky reader.  Just watch the video below and then answer this question in the entry form below.  "What slogan is featured on the bottom of the EVERlong sole?"  I will randomly select a winner on November 1.  Patagonia will directly ship the winners shoes by November 15.  This offer is good only to residents of the US and Canada.  Good luck!

Update 11/02/2013 - Congratulations to Jordon Psaltakis!!  Your the lucky winner of a pair of Everlongs!  Your shoes will ship directly from Patagonia sometime after Nov. 15! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

2013 Vermont 50(k) Race Report

I can't believe that I haven't written anything here since July!  Ever since the Vermont 100 I have been in a pretty serious running funk.  Truth be told I've actually been in an overall funk.  There are a lot of things going on in my life, like buying a new building for my shop and all the headaches and worry that go with getting it ready to relocate.  My training has suffered, as I just haven't been motivated to run for a long time.  It seems like every time I planned on running long, I just didn't have the mental patience to stay out there for very long.

As a result, I ran only one 20 mile long run in the time between VT100 and VT50! Usually in heaving training I do at least 2 20+ milers a week, sometimes 3.  Most of my weeks were in the 45 mile range, down from my average of about 70.  I attempted to run the Hampshire 100k on August 18th, but dropped after only 10 miles.  I just didn't want to be out there that long.  I also entered the Jay Peak 50k on Sept 1, but the option to drop down to the 25k after one loop did me in and I succumbed to the fact that I could still get a finishers place by doing so.  Although I came in 7th place, it didn't feel like a success since I once again didn't seem to be able to go long.

These runs and races were supposed to be training for my fall goal of breaking 8 hours at the Vermont 50.  But the week before the race I decided that it might be smart to drop down to the 50k distance and try to have a good race rather than suffer an inevitable DNF.

I felt pretty good about the decision.  Since the 50k runners start at 8am there was also the bonus of it being warmer at the start than it normally is for the 50 miler, which starts at 6:45.  Even though it was a little chilly, the forcast called for mid 70's and perfect weather.  Although I was still a bit chilly in my singlet I knew I would quickly warm up.  I was amazed at how many runners were wearing warm weather gear and thought about how much they were going to regret wearing so much in just a short while.

At the start I ran into George Lapierre, whom I hadn't seen in quite a while.  It was really nice catching up with him and we both started from the front.  I didn't realize that it was his first 50k, and thought that he would be strong competition for me.  He is an incredible biker and he has done well in the few shorter running races he has done.

As we took off two runners immediately took off like they were doing a 5k.  One of them had two water bottles in the back pockets of his shorts and I was a little perplexed as to what he was doing.  Geo and I made a few comments to each other about his performance and settled into a nice easy pace.  When we got to the first hill we were in the top 10 or so and he said, "this is were everybody passes me".  I didn't expect that, and kept my very easy pace going up the hill.  That was the last I saw of him until the finish line.

I did not know any of the runners in front of me, but I started passing people on that first hill.  My plan was to take it super easy for the first half and then see how badly my endurance had suffered and hang on my best for a solid finish.  Since I haven't raced a 50k in years, my 50k PR was a pretty soft 4:50.  I was hoping that if I felt good I might be able to break it if I had a good day.  By mile 5 or 6 I knew I was going to have a good day.  The hills seemed easier than I remembered and there was almost nothing that I needed to walk.

The fall foliage was in full bloom and it was incredible, keeping my mind occupied as the miles ticked away.  I decided to use a similar fueling strategy that had worked so well for me at the 100.  I was going to rely on Hammer Sustained energy for my primary source, supplementing it with Hammer gels if I need extra energy.  I had one drop bag at mile 12.9 which contained a few gels and a new bag of SE power to make a new bottle. 

At 2 hours into the race my hamstrings started to tighten up.  I decided to take 2 advil.  I am fully aware of the danger of using Nsaids at races, but I've been doing so since I started races and have never suffered any ill effects.  The one rule I have about using them is that I have to make sure I'm well hydrated.  If I am showing any signs of dehydration I will not use them as the danger drastically increases.  Since I was on top of my hydration I decided to go for it.

A half an hour later I felt really good as the advil had kicked in.  I was enjoying the beautiful scenery and I was very grateful to be outside, running well and in a very good mood.  Of course that influenced my pace positively.  Somewhere in the 20 mile range a few people passed me.  I chatted with one of them for a bit and he told me that it was his first 50k and that he was feeling good so far.  He told me that his Marathon PR was 3:15 (the same as mine) but he had been training hard and was in 3 hour shape.  He sure looked it as he pulled effortlessly away from me on a flat section of dirt road.

Sometimes getting passed in a race like this gets inside of my head.  But today it didn't bother me.  I kept repeating to "run my own race" in my head and not worry about anybody else.  I've done to many of these things to know that the majority of people blow up in the late stages.  Just focusing on how I was feeling, which was great, helped me enjoy being out there.    At this time I was in the top ten, but not sure exactly what place.  I ran alone for quite a while and enjoyed the solitude that came with being in the woods on a perfect fall day.  Run Happy crossed my mind many times.

Running Happy!  (Photo, Far North Endurance)
Somewhere around mile 22-23 I came upon the guy with the bottles in his rear pocket.  He said "nice job" and told me that I was now in 5th place overall, with 2 girls in front of me.  Being a math wiz, I realized that I was now in a podium position (3rd man for those of you who didn't figure that out).  This really lit a fire under my ass.  I was not expecting to do so well and since I felt good I decided that my goal for the day was to not let anybody else pass me.  I really wanted that 3rd!

I knew that with about 10 miles to go that it was premature to place myself on the podium.  Anything can, and usually does, happen with an endurance race.  But I HAD to try.  So I ran with purpose.  I ran every single hill from that point on and pushed hard.  Somewhere in this time frame I passed the early lead woman, who was clearly struggling.  The eventual woman's leader had come by me earlier.  We chatted a bit and she told me that last year she had finished in the 5 hour range and all she wanted to do was beat that time.  She looked fresh and was running great.  Now that I had passed one of the women I was in 4th overall.

The last 5 or 6 miles I kept looking behind me to see if anybody was coming, but nobody ever came into sight.  I spend quite a bit of time with a group of bikers who were very encouraging.  I would pass them going up the hills and then they would come back by me on the downhills.  Everytime I would go by them they would tell me that I was killing it, or that I was an animal, etc.  It was a lot of fun and kept me motivated to run the hills.

I was looking forward to getting to the last aid station, which I thought was less than two miles from the finish.  When I got there I was out of my Sustained Energy so I asked them if they had any gels.  Somehow I thought that the aid stations were supposed to have Hammer gels, like in the years past, but they didn't.  Luckily somebody who was at the aid station asked me what I needed and I said I just need one gel to get to the finish line.  He said "here" and handed me a berry Hammer gel.  Perfect!!  I wish I knew who it was so I could thank them, it really helped me.

As it turned out, the aid station was still 3 miles from the finish, so I really had to push if I was going to get that PR.  I believe that my watch said I was about 4:10 into it and there are some good hills in that last section.  I put the bit between my teeth and went for it.  About a mile from the end I started to cramp and had to fumble to get two electrolyte pills out of a little baggie I had, while trying to hammer as fast as I could.  I was just praying that the cramping would hold off just a little longer!

Headed down the last chute to the finish line! (photo, Far North Endurance)
I flew down the last downhill chute to the finish line and crossed the line in 4:38:45 for third place and a shiny new PR.  I was so relieved to not only have finished, but to have placed and ran well.    I spend my of the rest of the day hanging out and watching friends finish.  There were some amazing performances on this picture perfect day.

Between my 18:53 at the VT100 and my PR at the 50k, I know I'll be back for more next year.  I love Vermont!

The top three after awards.  (Photo, Far North Endurance)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2013 Vermont 100 Race Report

It's 3:55am and I'm standing at the starting line for the Vermont 100.  It's a familiar place to me.  In 2008 I was lined up at the same place, incredibly full of anticipation for the unknown experience of attempting to cover 100 mile by foot for my first time.  Except for 2010, I have been at every start since.  Until last year, I had finished every race.  My quickest time being 20:29.

Last year was a rough one for me, as far as finishing races go.  I ended up DNFing Vt at mile 70.   It just seemed like I lacked the desire to get to the finish line.  Sure, I had problems (wrecked quads and blisters) but that's par for the course when doing one of these things.

Unfortunately the string of DNF's (Did not Finish) continued for me earlier this year at the Massanutten 100.  I got sick on Monday before the race and the cold turned into walking pneumonia by race day.  I started, but only got to mile 20 before massive fatigue, coughing fits and a tough time breathing got the best of me.  It was particularly disappointing because I  trained harder than ever and felt very ready to go.

And now again I find myself full of nervous anticipation.  I want to break 20 hours.  Badly.  But I don't know if my head is strong enough.  Will I fail once again?  I tell myself to relax and trust my training.  I know that if things go terribly wrong my real goal is to just finish.  If things go right hopefully I can get that sub 20 hour finish that has eluded me at this race.

I know that in order to get my goal I have to be quicker through the aid stations.  In the years past I have wasted a lot of time there managing blisters, sitting down too long and just being unfocused.  This year I have my favorite crew, my wife Amy and my brother Barry.  And as an added bonus, my best friend Jeremy is along for the ride.  I have given the exact instructions on what I need at each stop.  The goal is for me to spend 2 minutes max at each stop.

I have a strategy for everything.  But as anybody who has ever done a 100 mile race knows, the best strategy is to be mentally prepared for surprises.  You just can't anticipate what you are going to have to deal with for this big of an undertaking.  And I have painfully learned that even my experience doing these races doesn't guarantee a finish.

Amy and I at the start.  The calm before the storm.

The race stared promptly at 4am after a nice surprise fireworks show on a nearby hill. (Yes, I know I just changed from present tense to past tense....) It was a cool way to start the race and I felt great as I ran down the first hill and into the woods for the first time.  We had been warned that the trails were much wetter than years past due to the extraordinary amount of rain that Vermont has received this year.  Keeping that in mind, I started the race in my Brooks PureGrit II shoes.  I had planned on wearing my Altra Torins, but the Brooks offer better traction and drainage.  My plan was to see just how wet it was and then change into the Altras if possible.

Although the trails were somewhat wet, they really weren't that bad.  I was enjoying the early easy pace, but my stomach felt like it had a big bubble of gas in it for a bunch of miles.  I took a couple minute bio break in the woods off the road and felt much better afterwards.  As I was running down the hill into Woodstock I saw my old buddy, Sherpa John up ahead.  I caught up with him and chatted a bit.  He was running great and it was nice to see him.  He was wearing a GPS watch and informed me that we were running at a 7:45 pace.  I was surprised as I felt so comfortable.  I reminded myself to make sure I didn't hammer too early.

Changing into the awesome Altra Torin shoes

I reached the first Handler station, Pretty House (mile 22.5) at 7:34am.   I spent less than two minutes changing shoes and socks into the Altras, grabbing two new bottles, and an extra gel and 3 Perpetuem solids that I ate as I took off.  I also drank a Vespa CV-25.  My crew was absolutely fantastic and had everything ready to go.  About a half a mile after leaving I realized that I still had my headlight on my head.  For about 10 seconds I started to get upset, but then decided that it really was no big deal even though I would have to have it there for another 8 miles.  Just as I stopped worrying about it coach Jack came driving by and I yelled at him to stop.  He took the light from me and later gave it back to my crew.

Amy helping me make another super quick aid station stop

Stage road was the next Handler station, at mile 31.4.  I arrived at 9:09am and was out in one minute.  In that time I got two new bottles, drank a Vespa, ate 3 Perpetuem Solids and restocked on my gels.  I was in great spirits and ready for the 17 mile stretch until I saw my crew again.  My shoes were working very well, my feet were great and my fueling strategy was working excellent.  The day was not nearly as warm as I had expected and there was a nice cloud cover keeping the sun from being to hot.  As far as I was concerned, the conditions were perfect.

Somewhere in the next few miles I caught up with Amy Rusiecki who was going through a rough patch already.  I usually keep to myself and don't do much talking to anybody else during a long race, but Amy said that her hamstring was hurting and she was upset that she already felt bad so early in the day.  We had a nice chat and I reminded her that last year she wanted to drop, but stuck it out and got second place.  During our talk she seemed to pick up the pace and started to feel better.  It's amazing how much our brain is in control of our bodies, regardless of how hard we train or how fit we are.  I was able to physically see a change in her demeanor, running and attitude just by having something to take her mind off of her current pain.  It was cool.  And she went on to finish 3rd woman with a time of 19:53!

Weighing in at the medical check

As the miles clicked away I was happy that I never really slipped into any type of low patch.  I was starting to chafe a bit, but it was nothing serious (yet....) and I just kept plugging away.  It just a hair under 3 hours until I arrived at Camp 10 Bear at mile 47.6.  It was 12:10 and I had covered almost half the course in 8 hours and 10 minutes.  I was over one hour ahead of my planned time and I felt great.  I got checked in by the medical staff, where I weighed 2lbs less than my starting weight.  That was a good sign that I was staying properly hydrated.  With the usual drill of two new bottles, a Vespa and some new gels I was on my way out for more.

I don't remember much about the next 11.5 miles except that somewhere along the way I got hit with a huge wave of nausea.  I thought for sure this would finally be the first time I've thrown up in a race, but nope, it didn't happen.  After a few dry heaves I felt better.  It was strange and I was grateful to not have to deal with being sick.  As I arrived at the Seven Seas station, mile 59.1 I decided that I needed some real food.  I ate some brown rice with tofu and avocado and felt much better.  My crew got me out in 2 minutes and then made the mad dash to the next handler station, the famous Margaritaville.  It was only 3.4 miles away for me to run but it was 17 miles of driving for the crew to get there.  When I got into the station they were just pulling in.

Wet macerated feet

Here is where I made the decision to take a bit longer than normal and fix some issues.  Since my feet had been wet from the trails for hours and hours, they were starting to get macerated.  The military calls this condition "swamp foot" and if not addressed it can be extremely painful as the waterlogged creases on the bottom of your feet start to blister.   I took my shoes off then rinsed, washed and dried them.  I changed the insoles for dry ones and powdered the hell out of my feet to absorb any moisture.  I put on a dry pair of Wright Socks and was ready to go.  Since the chafe was starting to get pretty bad too (you really don't want more details on where I was chaffing...), I decided to change my shorts as well.   After everything was done I had spent 8 minutes, my longest stop of the race.

Feeling much better after dry socks and new shorts

I'm convinced that it was one of the smartest moves I made all day.  Although I was starting to get pretty tired I felt like a new man with clean dry shorts and shoes.  The new shorts didn't eliminate the chaffing, but it did improve it.  Sometimes the little things make a huge difference when you are so raw.

The next 8 miles felt great.  Mentally I was super excited.  Last year this stretch is where everything fell apart for me.  This year I was cranking.  There are some long downhill stretches and I felt like I was flying.  I was trying to preserve my quads, but I also knew that if I wanted to break 20 hours I needed to take advantage of these quicker parts because the last 30 have lots of hills and are slow.

I pulled in to Camp 10 Bear, mile 70.5 in high spirits at 4:41pm and was super psyched to be there so early in the afternoon.  I lubed the chaffe, ate some more rice and tofu, drank a Vespa, and got new bottles and gels.  I was out in 2 minutes accompanied by Matt Wilson, my pacer for the last 30 miles.

Matt at Western States this year (Photo Luis Escobar)

I actually have not used a pacer in over 2 years.  And I had no plans on doing so here.  In the few days leading up to the race Jack emailed me explaining that Matt was coming up all the way from PA to pace me and that he was a great guy was had just run Western States in a little over 20 hours.  Jack said that he would kick my ass to the finish line and get me home in under 20 hours.  Frankly I was a little bit reluctant and told Jack, thanks, but no thanks.  But it seemed that he wouldn't take no for an answer.  It sounded like a recipe for disaster to me.   At the same time, I am learning that the Universe answers all requests and provides us with all the resources we need to achieve our wants and needs.  It's up to us to choose to recognize those gifts or ignore them.  I decided that this must be one of those occasions and gave in to the fact that Matt was going to pace me.  As I'll explain, I'm glad I did.

As Matt and I got to know each other a bit better I found him to be very easy to talk to.  I was actually a bit intimidated by him because he is such a strong runner.  I wanted to be strong and run well even though I was getting tired.  I tried my best not to whine too much, but I have to admit I did so a bit.  Matt was super good about watching our average pace and keeping me moving in the areas that were flat or downhill.   The nice part was that he wasn't sharing with me the actual math, he was just telling me if we were on pace or not.  When I did have to hike up the steep hills he was very reassuring by telling me that we were still moving well and on track.

Tired and confused at mile 77

We next saw the crew at the Spirit of 76 aid station (mile 77.4) and we actually ran the steep hill that comes into the station.  It was still light out and it was only 6:09pm.  One of my stretch goals was to make it to Bills Barn, mile 89 in the light, which I've never done before.  Now I had about 2 1/2 hours to try to accomplish that, but I was starting to get pretty tired.  We were at the station for less than 2 minutes, did the usual bottles, Vespa, etc and headed out.

70% hardpacked VT roads = sore feet

My Altra Torin shoes were working great, but the pounding of the hard packed roads was starting to get to me.  Matt was wearing Hokas and we talked a bit about shoes. I decided that I would change into my Hokas at Bills for the final stretch once we got there.  This thought kept me going as we continued to pound out the miles.

This stretch has lots of very steep hills that are not runnable for me when I'm this tired.  I concentrated on power walking at a brisk pace and found that I was starting to catch people.  About a mile before Bills, while going up a miserably steep road I passed Bob Ayers from Vt.  Bob is a super nice guy and incredibly strong runner.  He was gracious and told me that I was doing great and I needed to enjoy the good ones when they happened.  Seeing him picked up my spirits a bit.  I've never been even close to him at any race.  It was a good sign for me that I was moving well.

Shortly after I passed the early woman's leader (who was now in second place ), Traci Falbo.  She was struggling a bit.  As I went by I said "Welcome to VT, these hills are brutal aren't they?"  She was in no mood to talk and gave me a look like she wanted to kill me.  I later apologized explaining that I was just trying to keep things light, but she was in no mood to engage with me.   I didn't take it personally.  When you are doing one of these races and in a bad spot you are incredibly raw.

Shortly after the top of the hill, with Bills in sight, I saw my friend Adam Wilcox for the first time.  I didn't realize it was him as the sun was just starting to go down.  He was facing a tree with both hands resting on it and had one foot lifted up behind him.  His pacer, my other friend Ryan Welts, was removing his sock and shoe to remove what Adam thought was a pebble in his sock.  It turns out there was nothing there, but the blisters felt like a pebble and they were trying to fix it.   Adam seemed a little surprised to see me and not really that happy about his situation.  I could tell he was hurting, but he wouldn't admit it to me.  I wished him luck and kept going.

Bills Barn, mile 89

I was elated to get into Bills while it was still light out!!  It was 8:28pm and I had now run 89 miles in 16 hours 28 minutes.  Matt went ahead to tell the crew that I needed my Hokas.  As I was approaching the station I saw our car and stopped to see if my Hokas were there.  That way they didn't have to run back to the car to get them.  I looked in my shoe bag and they weren't there so I assumed they had them with them and headed in.

Jeremy, keeping everybody entertained.

When I arrived I weighed in at one pound over starting weight and medical cleared me to keep on.  I went over to the crew to discover that they did not have my Hokas.  As I took off my socks and washed and prepped my feet Jeremy went on a mad sprinting dash to get the shoes.  I lost zero time as he had them back before I had my new socks on.  He was breathing hard and said, how the hell do you do that for 100 miles??  I only wish that I could run that fast for 100 miles!!! 

On top of the shoe change, I got my usual bottles, Vespa etc. I also did my best to try to fix the chaffing which now was starting to get pretty bad. Amy keeps notes from each station and for here they say "Surprise!, flying!, ready to kick ass".  Matt and I headed out excited that only 11 miles stood before me and the finish line. 

Heading out of Bills, with Hokas on feet.

The next 6 miles to the last handler station, Polly's (mile 95.9) were tough.  I was struggling to run even when it was flat and I was walking more than I wanted to.  My chaffing was killing me, so much so that I took off my shirt and stuffed it down my shorts to create a barrier between my thighs and my ....never mind....  My makeshift repair did make it a bit better and I was just trying to stay focused and get through the pain.  The entire time Matt kept being extremely supportive letting me know that we were way ahead of the 20 hour goal and prodded me to get into a running shuffle as much as possible.

Trying to eat quickly and get the hell out of the aid station

I got to Pollys at 10:05pm, 18 hours and 5 minutes into the race.  Now I only had 4.1 miles to finish.  I remembered this section as pretty slow and tough, but it actually had more flat and downhill than I remembered.  For the next two miles I was doing the math and realizing that I had a real possibility to break my all time PR for a 100 mile race of 19:19.   When Matt and I came upon the 2 miles to go sign I looked at my watch.  It was 10:35pm.  If I could do the last two miles in under 25 minutes I could break 19 hours!!

Matt and I had actually run these miles on Friday before weigh in and I knew what they were like in the day.  They were hilly, but certainly runable.  I looked at Matt and said, "Lets go get a PR!"  Matt said "Hell yes, let's do this!" and I took off like a bat out of hell.  As I went flying down the trail, through the muddiest part of the course I started passing people.  We went by at least 3 runners with their pacers, two of which we actually startled because we were running so fast!

As I went by Adam and Ryan, whom had passed me a bit earlier, they were supportive and gave me words of encouragement.  But I know Adam's fierce sense of competitiveness and was running scared, positive that he would come flying back by me.  But nobody did.  I ran the last two miles in 18 minutes and crossed the finish line in 18 hours and 53 minutes.  I was floored when I learned that I had also finished in 9th place.  9th place!!! I never dreamed that I could do that at such a competitive event.
Crossing the line

Matt and I at the fnish
It's official - 18:53:56 and 9th place (2nd in age group)
Now the pain begins...

As I sat down in a chair the intense pain in my legs took over and an incredible wave of nausea overtook me as well.  I was sure I was going to throw up and even told Amy to move her feet as I was going to lose it.  After moaning and groaning a bit, the crew decided that I should go to the medical tent to lay in a cot for a bit.  I was shivering uncontrollably.  The extent of the chaffing became evident as the adrenaline wore off and the pain set in.  But I don't think any amount of pain could overshadow the feeling of accomplishment.

Special "Top Ten" Buckle
Standing with the fast crowd!
The next day at the awards ceremony I got to stand with the top ten.  I was pretty honored to be up there with such runners as Ian Sharman, Brian Rusiecki, Nick Clark, Jason Lantz and of course my good friend Adam Wilcox, whom I knew would be top 10.

It was an incredible day.  And I would not have been able to do it without Amy, Barry, Jeremy, Matt and Coach Jack.  A million thank you's go out to them and everybody else who has been so supportive of this endeavor.  Success is that much sweeter after failure, and I learned that the saying "Never give up" really holds pays off in the end.

Stats for the day:
Shoes - Brooks Pure Grit II - first 22 miles, Altra Torin - 66 miles, Hoka Bondi Speed - last 11 miles.
Socks - Write Sock cool mesh - 2 pairs
Gold Bond Powder - in socks and on feet after cleaning them
Shorts - Brooks
Shirt - Columbia Omni Freeze cooling shirt

Food: Vespa CV-25 - 8 Pouches, Vfuel gels - about 10, Hammer Sustained Energy - 9 bottles (3 scoops per bottle), 9 Perpetuem solids and about a cup of brown rice with avacado and tofu. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

One week to go! Massanutten 100 training re-cap

Weapon of Choice.

This was my last week of any substantial running before the race.  This week, the week of the race I will only be running 16 miles before I toe the line on Saturday the 18th.  I spent most of this week obsessing about which shoes to wear and how to not gain weight...  Here is what I did for training last week.

Monday - Scheduled day off. 

Tuesday - 10 miles on trails (1:17:58 - 7:48 pace).  3.5 miles warmup, 3 x 1/2m hill repeats (up and down) then 3.5 home at a spirited pace (under 7mm for last mile, easy effort to maintain). Felt really good this morning.  Shoes - La Sportiva Helios

Wednesday - 5.4 miles of trails (47:57 - 8:53 pace).  Ran at the quarries to simulate MMT. Lots of rocks. Actually bruised the bottom of my foot.  I thought I was settled on using the Helios at MMT, now I'm not so sure.  Shoes - La Sportiva Helios

Thursday - 10 miles of trails (1:21:32 - 8:10 pace).  Did HR x 3 at mile 4. Felt a bit sluggish today.  Wore my Hokas because of bruise from yesterday.  Slipped at end of run on log and slammed my arm and hip.  Luckily unhurt.  Shoes - Hoka Bondi B 2

Friday - Scheduled rest day, but I couldn't do it.  Went 6 miles on trails (48:19 - 8:04 pace). Was super excited to try my new Altra Lone Peak 1.5's because they felt so good out of the box.  Loved the shoe and decided that it might possibly be my MMT shoe.   Got an email from Coach Satan about 2 hours after the run telling me "not to be an overachiever" because I had a very long run in the woods of VA in a week.  When he says day off, he means it!!

Saturday - Rest day.  No sir, don't like it at all.

Sunday - 20 miles of trails (3:05:15 - 9:15 pace).  Ran the Powerlines trail.  Was so happy to be able to run.  Coach said "No Hammering!!" so I concentrated on practicing my 100 mile pace/effort.  Even walked a few hills.  Felt really good.  Only ate 1 Lara Bar and about 1/2 bottle of water.  Put the Lone Peak 1.5's through everything I could throw at them.  Only complaint is that they take a long time to dry out.  But all the good (great traction, super good fit. no toe jamming on downhills, great toe cap rock protection) out weigh that concern.  They were soaked the entire 3 hour run as it was a very wet trail.  Love how they feel. 

Summary - 51.4 miles in 7 hours 21 minutes

I was pretty cranky this week and really wanted to run.  As usual, I have put back on a few pounds and it messes with my head.  But, I am as ready as I have ever been and looking forward to rocks, blisters, ticks, 85 degree humid heat and incredible views!!

You can go with this (Helio)

Or you can go with that (Fluid Flex)

You can go with this (Pure Grit)
Or you can go with that (Bondi Speed)
Don't be shocked by the tone of my voice.  Check out my new weapon, weapon of choice (Lone Peak 1.5)