Thursday, December 17, 2009

Western States entry and new article

Recently the Western States 100 lottery took place. I had signed up with the intention of not getting in and so it would count toward my "two-time-loss." If you lose twice, you get in the third year garunteed. Well, I got in this year. At first I was thinking, "Oh no. This was not the plan." Then I got super stoked that I got in! So I sent in my entry. ALSO, my good friend Dave got in, so it's good to know that my adventure to Squaw Valley, CA will not be unaccompanied. If anything, it'll be good to have someone to fly with.

This will be the farthest away I will have ever travelled for a race, and it will most likely be the first race I do after my run across America, assuming I finish that...

In other news, a new article came out today in the Huntington Beach Independant. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Getting Close.....

I finally graduated. It was great, there was a party, and the ceremony wasn't too long, and my mom didn't cry! Good news, good food, no more school. Those of you who know me personally know how truly stoked I am on this.

The day counter on my phone has informed me that there are 18 days left until I depart Huntington Beach. I'm putting the last touches on my gear list, and will be mailing my jogger out to Califonia tomorrow so it gets there in time.

As well as gathering "stuff" for the trip, I've also been doing more interviews with newspapers, and even talked to the St. Francis middle school, where I used to go. All the publicity is really taking off, and people are getting very excited and very willing to help. It's great how helpful people are. A link to the Orange County Register Newspaper came out with the article today at this URL.

I'm sure there will be more posts as the day draws nearer.....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sickness, rain, time, and Matt Grundy

I haven't updated this in awhile. Part is due to the fact that the end of the semester is drawing nearer and nearer and I have become busier than I ever thought possible. Part is due to the fact that I have not felt the need to express any huge running accomplishment. And the rest of the reason is that the date that I start my journey is getting closer and I'm starting to get a little nervous.

So, let's start at the beginning. My last test is in 2 hours and 45 minutes and I graduate Saturday. End of story.

Next on the agenda is lack of news. It has been rainy about 4 out of the 7 days every week for the past month. At first, it didn't bother me, I'd run in the cold and rain saying that I needed to train in every kind of weather because I won't be able to choose the weather for the 4 months I'm out there on the road. I'd come back after 2-4 hours of being soaked to the bone and semi trucks spraying me with hurricane forced winds and water to a hot shower and feel accomplished. It would be 35-50 degrees and pouring rain and I'd go out only to be completely drenched within the first 10 minutes of a 3 hour run and think that it was "toughening me up." The truth is, I'm paying the price now. Being sick can be attributed to the cold wetness and stress from the end of the semester and all I want to do is sleep. I went for a two hour run yesterday even though it was the worst I'd felt but I felt like I needed to get outside. And last night I thought I was dying. Though, I do find it kind of cool to think about the fact that no matter how big, strong, or tough you think you are, there are always going to be microscopic "bugs" that can bring you to your knees and cry uncle.

In other news the results came out for the Trail Runner Trophy Series. Initially they came out and I was in second, but not all my points were I emailed Trail Runner, and we got it all hammered out, and I won! ...Then there was also a discretion in Glen Redpath's points and he actually did win, and I actually came in second. And so it is done. I came in second place in the Trail Runner Trophy Series for 2009, Glen Redpath came in first. Congratulations Glen and all the other racers! I'm stoked on the placing, and if I had to lose to someone, I'm glad it was someone like Glen Redpath. The dude is a maniac!

Another highlight of recent times was a group run on Sunday night. Myself, Dave, Grundy, and a guy named Elliot who I hadn't met before Sunday ran the trails and downtown of Richmond. Elliot is a member of the Seal Team exercise group in Richmond and ran in Vibram 5-fingers. We did the North Bank trail, the path that leads to the 8th street bridge, the 8th street bridge, flood wall, part of the Buttermilk, Riverside drive, and the Nickel bridge. It was the farthest Grundy had run so far and he held up like a champ. Not only that, he kept me entertained the entire time with his jokes. If you own a recording studio, please let him come in and let him record all his jokes, puns, and goofy things on a CD every week so I have something new to listen to on the four month long run. Thanks.

Among the best of his jokes and ideas for the night was the idea to come up with a marathon on Halloween that is run at night called the "Night-mare-athon." If anyone steals that and doesn't give Grundy credit, I will come looking for you.

I start the cross country jaunt exactly 23 days from today. That is not long. BUT things are coming together quite well. People are starting to offer beds to me, which I appreciate greatly, and the word is really spreading. As soon as I get home this weekend I will begin packing and figuring out what I still need.

Well, that was my study break. Enjoy.
Shout out to Grundy. He has a radio show on Friday nights 5-7
Check it. Check it. Check it out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Double Richmond

This weekend was the Richmond Marathon. Dave had talked to me awhile ago about it because he was signed up for it and was planning on doing it from finish to start starting at 2am and then start to finish with everyone else for the real race. Of course I was up for the most-of-the-night run, but I wasn't ready to shell out the 95 clams for the regular race. Adam Tremper was still on the fence as of last week due to worry about injury but he ended up signing up late last week. On Friday I went to the expo with him because I just wanted to go for fun, and I saw my boss, Anne and my friend Mark Guzzi there at the Richmond Road Runner's table. I went up and they asked if I was running. I informed them of the "sort of" status of the run, and they asked if I would help pace the 4:15 pace group. Run a double marathon while only paying for the cost of food during the race...duh. After registering and receiving my pace bib Adam and I walked around the expo and spotted Bart Yasso, the Chief Running Officer of Runner's World Magazine. That was pretty cool, I must say.

Dave, myself, Kirby, Phil, and his son (on bikes) Matt Smythe, Justin, and two others that I'm sorry I forgot their names all met up and took off from the finish line. It was professionally "chip" timed, which consisted of Dave handing out two Pringles to everyone every time we crossed a timing mat. There was a mist the entire run, but we never actually got wet. Finishing up at the real races starting line, our race director came in a very unofficial 1st place. All hail Dave. We all proceeded back to the cars to change socks and shirts, and made our way to the start. Dave, Justin, and I were the only one's doing the double. Everyone else headed to their designated sleeping areas. Considering I had taken a 45 min nap from 12:15 to 1:00 am, I envied them a little bit.

The marathon field was the largest it had ever been at around 15 thousand entrants. The race started without me being able to find Mark, who was also going to be pacing for the first half because he is running the JFK 50 miler this coming weekend. It wasn't too hard to pick him out considering he was sporting a rainbow colored clown wig, "So people could easily spot him." It turns out, people find it easier to follow. Bonus. We settled into our very relaxed 9:43 min/mile pace and cruised along. We started with around 15-20 people in our group including two of the editors for Runner's World. (One of them is the woman in the greenish tank in the picture) At the half way point he dropped and got our group to chant "wear the wig," until I wore the wig. So, for the last half, I wore the wig. By the time mile 20 (or 46 for some) rolled around I was down to a steady group of two. David (what is it with runners named Dave? They are everywhere.) from Stafford and Andrew from Richmond. We all criused into the finish in around 4:11. I was 4 minutes early...not the greatest, but not too bad either. All in all, I had a blast and Adam did awesome finishing his first marathon in 3:19.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Best day this season

This morning I woke up planning on starting early and ending early so I would have time to study before my class at 4:00. I woke up early as planned but I heard the rain pouring outside...lame. I looked up the forecast and saw that it probably wouldn't be raining much longer so I studied first.

I got started with my run at about 10:30 and immediately felt amazing. I could tell it would be a good day from the start. I was planning to do a route that I planned would take about 2.75-3 hours that would take me over the Nickel Bridge, down Riverside drive, past some big building, over some bridge downtown, up to the Governors mansion, over the Belvedere bridge, back up Riverside drive, past the Nickle bridge to finish Riverside Dr. and back to my house.

I was cruising from the start. When I got to the end of the downtown bridge I decided to include an extra 2 or so miles that would include the Flood Wall and loop back over the downtown bridge for a second time. I was feeling strong and quick, my stride was sure, and the temperature was perfect. It was in the low 70s and the slight breeze caused the golden and red leaves to blow all over the still soaking street causing the normally black, and unattractive street to even be colorful. Normally, the phrase "beauty in death," doesn't evoke the most common emotion, but today, it could not have been more fitting to describe all the leaves.

After finishing the Belvedere Bridge I killed the only GU I had brought and chased it with a good serving of water. I looked at my watch just curious to see what time it was and I couldn't remember if I had stopped it at any point and forgot to start it again. I was going much quicker than I had originally planned. Riverside Drive seemed to be completely engulfed in a golden and red tunnel that turned everything the same color.

It's a bit funny to see the "seasonal" runners out there today. I went during a time when a lot of people should have been at work or class. Mid-day on a Wednesday is not when you go out for a run expecting to see half the neighborhood out there. But being the kind of day it was, I must have seen around 30 other runners. Strange sight.

Crossing over Boulevard where I would later turn back to cross the Nickel bridge again I was in the final section of my run and was still feeling fresh. This section of Riverside Dr. is especially hilly and usually where I make my decisions late in my runs to "just keep moving." Not today. Today the downhills were opportunities to go faster with no more effort. Today the uphills were an opportunity to work in some speed and hill training as a bonus. Today just worked.

Rolling back over the Nickel Bridge I was almost home. Upon reaching the last half mile or so I picked up the pace and just enjoying the day. I stopped my watch at 2 hours and 1 minute and 15 seconds. Good day. back to studying...

Monday, October 26, 2009

trip update

Everyone is being very very helpful with the trip! Anyone I talk to is very willing to help and I really appreciate it. People are coming up with their own way to help out with what they do best, it's really interesting to see how some people contribute. Mr. Wayne is a masseuse and he offered to massage my legs after Grindstone. It was great, and I really appreciate it, Mr. Wayne!

As far as fund raising, it is going up...slowly, but it is going up. Right now we are focused on corporations and trying to talk to them about possibility of sponsorship, so if you know anyone that you think would be interested in sponsoring me, let me know, I'm sure there are companies I hadn't thought of.


Marine Corps Marathon

I'll give you the end and then if you feel necessary, you may read the entire schpiel. Good day. 3:10:17. PR by 28 minutes. Boston Qualifier. Stoked.

I woke up race day at my girlfriend's parents house because they lived about a half mile from where the shuttles would take the runners from Crystal City to the starting line. I ran down there partially because I wanted to get a warm up run in, and partially because it was in the low 50's and being the genius I am, didn't take that into account when I forgot a throw-away long sleeve for the morning. The shuttle brought us to the starting area where there were tents, "Johns," and hot chocolate for sale. Since I hadn't planned on running with anyone I was walking around trying to find a windless spot so I could try to conserve any type of body heat.

Then I saw Mark Guzzi, the Tuesday night speed work guru and Sam walking around. I wasn't expecting to see either of them so it was a very pleasant surprise. Plus, Mark had an extra long sleeve I could borrow for the time being...also, very welcomed.

After about 30 min we made our way to the start line where people were packing it in and doing last minute shoe checks, gel counts, and saying prayers. Mark decided he would go for the mid 3:teens and told me if I was going to go for 3:10 I should stand near the front to avoid the crowds and can get a decent start so I don't have to play catch up when I was tired. I tried to find the 3:10 balloon guy, but couldn't. I was going it solo. The starting temperature was perfect. Cool in the shade and warm in the sun. I had a good start and could really only check my times every mile to make sure I was on track. The first 5 miles I did in the low 7's and high 6's. I felt good, and strong, and light on my feet.

Around mile 11 I saw a guy with a VCU Massey Cancer Center shirt on. I told him I recognized him from coming to the gym, and told him I worked there. He introduced himself as Drew and picked up the pace just enough for me to get uncomfortable, and I decided not to follow this early in the race. A guy that happened to be around us was also from Richmond. He introduced himself as Ryan, and then asked me if my name was "Mc...McNamara?...No..Mc-something" I told him my name and he said he recognized me from the article in the Richmond Road Runners magazine. He was really cool and it was good to run with him. We passed the halfway point in about 1:30-ish which was the fastest I had done a half marathon by about 15 minutes. I was still on track to finish on time. It was great to run with him, and he said he would try and help as much as he could. Running with him helped me stay on track, and it really made many of the miles between 11 and 20 much easier. I ran with Ryan until about mile 20 when we reached the bridge. Just prior to that they were giving out sports beans, so I gladly accepted the offering and immediately felt a pick up. Luckily I saw my family just before the bridge, ditched the shirt and hand bottle. And picked up the pace a bit.

I remembered the bridge as the section that I crashed on last year. This year, I felt strong going over the spectator-less section. Toward the end of the bridge/highway section, the 3:10 balloon caught up. I stuck with him until about mile 24. He was still in sight, but I could feel the effect of the quicker pace start to take a toll on my stomach.

Reaching mile 26 I saw Drew up ahead as he turned to go up the last hill to the finish. A few quick words were replaced by a struggling pace for the last 50 yards or so. The clock read 3:10:20, my chip time was 3:10:17. Afterwards I got pretty sick, possibly the combination of gels, mild dehydration, and the quick pace.

I found my family and went to eat for my Mom's birthday which was a great ending to the day. Plus, there was carrot cake.

There might be pictures later.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Coming Up...

Lately, my running has not been where I would like it to be. Unfortunately school has decided to take the lead in priorities mainly because it is hammering me into submission. Every day is some huge paper, project, test, homework, you name it, there's a good chance I have one due that day. That being said, I don't have a lot of time for much of anything else. Everyday is just a cycle. Wake up at 4:30 am and ride my bike 25 minutes to work. Sit for the next 3 hours only hoping the laundry hurries up so I have an excuse to get up from staring at whatever I'm studying to walk around. In my break I try to get a quick run in. When I say quick I don't mean quick from an ultrarunner's point of view. I mean quick from a weekend warriors point of view. Then it's off to class for the majority of the day where my brain is thoroughly battered, beaten, and flooded with information. Then homework or study time. If I'm lucky, this time is short enough to get a run in. Otherwise, it's bed time which is usually around 11 or 12, then I get up the next day praying the weekend would get there sooner. I'm so close to graduating, I got my cap and gown yesterday but I've still got a month and a half.

Enough complaining. This weekend is the Marine Corps Marathon. I would be a little more stoked on it if my dad were running with me, but injury has prevented that. I'll be flying solo, but I think I'll try my hand at a Boston qualifying time just to make things a little more interesting. Since I haven't had a huge amount of time for the long runs that I enjoy so much, I compensated by making the runs I could get in quite a bit faster. Whether that is enough to quicken my marathon time by 28 minutes, I don't know but I guess we'll find out. I did the math on my qualifying time (3:10:00), and figured out that I have to run 7:35 miles (or something like that). I got on a treadmill to see what that felt like. It felt manageable but we'll see. I have no sense of pace (except for 10 minute miles because it's just a really chill pace most of the time) so I'll try to hang with the 3:10 pacer for as long as I can.

The week after that is the Potomac Heritage 50k which is a trail ultra. I am pretty stoked on that one because it's in D.C. and it just seems like a lot of fun. Plus Keith Knipling will be there, and he's fast, so I'll be interested to see how that goes. More on that later...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Grindstone 100...DNF

This year, I started the Grindstone 100 with every intention of finishing the race, and a hope in the back of my mind of finishing well. My mental race, however, had a different plan.

Adam and I drove out to the start/finish line the morning of the race and attended the pre-race lunch and meeting in the early afternoon. The race was to start at 6 pm sharp. Looking around at the other racers I quickly realized this was a seasoned group many of whom had run their share of hundred milers. The race director asked those of us who had finished a 100 miler to stand. He slowly climbed the numbers of how many people had finished. Pretty soon he was up to 20 and four people were standing. He finally quit asking and just asked the four how many they had finished. Dave Snipes had finished 25. Another guy had finished 31...ish. Jay Finkle had finished 34. And Karl Meltzer (Course record holder for more hundreds than anyone can count) had finished 45.

After the meeting, I went out to the car to try to sleep because I was sort of tired and wanted to be fresh for the race. No dice. I rolled around, and rested but no sleep. The start of the race was just as expected. Karl led the lead pack, and within the first 2 miles had split off with Jason Lantz sticking with him to "see what was with this guy." I knew within the first 5 miles this was not going to be a walk in the park. My left foot which had started to ache around mile 50 of GEER last week had already decided to make a guest appearance. Unfortunately, this lead me to 1. run differently than I normally do to try to protect it a little bit, and 2. Think. Non-stop. About. It.
The latter proved to be the breaking point for me.

The course is tough. Up and down mountains that are miles up and miles down. And before long I was making the miles up and miles down in the dark. Soon after the first aid station at mile 5 it was dark. Heading up the first really big climb I met up with Todd Walker. We made the climb together in the dark and now we were getting up to the clouds. Literally. We entered the clouds and it was so thick, there were spots I couldn't see the ground despite the fact I had my headlamp on. At the top, we punched our bib numbers to prove we had been there and started to make our way down. The only problem was we lost the trail in the fog. We wandered around the top of the mountain until we saw someones headlamp. We found the trail and made our way down. Going down is usually where I sit back, relax, and let gravity work more than my legs and lungs. Unfortunately, my foot hurt more on the downhills than the uphills, and with the pain in my foot, came the pain in my ego. People passed me and they seemed like they were on completely fresh everything. Well, they were. It wasn't even mile 20 yet. I was supposed to be on fresh legs, and feet. This too, played out to be a menace on my mental race.

Upon reaching the first aid station with crew access, my dad shoved a Yoohoo in my hand and asked me what I needed. Water? Salt? Food? Band Aids? No. My mom was planning on coming the following day to see the finish of the race after she attended my brother and sister's cross country meet. I told my dad to call her next time he had service and tell her not to bother coming. The chances of me finishing this thing were slim. I left the aid station more out of stubbornness. I refused to drop out of a 100 mile race at mile 22. That is not me. "I can do this, I've done it before, I'll do it again, just wait for the pain to ease up some and find a rhythm. Just relax." I was talking myself into doing something I was mentally absent from.

The next aid station was 7 miles away. After running the initial mile, I was frustrated. Completely out of it. Mentally, I was done. I didn't come here not to finish this thing. I didn't drag Adam and my dad to the middle of nowhere to watch me drop. I decided I needed to relax, and just go for a walk. So I did. I walked until I wasn't angry any more. Which happened to be about 45 minutes. The pain was growing though. Still just climbing into oblivion and falling out of the sky, I wished I would run. I wanted to just do what I do and run. I wanted to hop up every hill and cruise down every rocky, rooty hill. I wasn't having fun anymore and I decided at the next aid station I would drop. It was a tough decision but I knew I had to. I was about 5 hours into a possibly 20-30 hour endeavor, and if it was this hard now, I didn't want to see what the next two dozen hours brought.

After I made up my mind, I could just try to make the best of the rest of my trip to my dropping point. I tried to make out the faint shadows of the mountains in the distance, and breath as much cool mountain air as I could. I would turn off my headlamp when the trail was lit well enough by the full moon and just relax wandering somewhat aimlessly at this point through the woods. After awhile, I started running. Why? I don't really know. I guess I just wanted to.

Reaching the aid station was bitter sweet. I told the aid station workers I was done. It had been 28 miles...they said nope, not allowed. "Not allowed?" "Nope. You have to get to the next one. That's where there is crew access. It's 5 miles. You can do it." They waved some peppermint stuff under my nose and told me to get going. So I grabbed a brownie, and hit the road.

At this point, I was positive, I was out of it mentally because I didn't even want to stroll through the woods. I wanted to stop moving and get off my feet. When I got to the aid station at mile 35 they had me weigh in. 154. I had lost 6 pounds in 7 hours. Not quite Jenny Craig. Not quite healthy. They asked me to sit down and eat and drink and I had no problem with this. I told my dad I was dropping. The aid station workers couldn't believe me and tried to talk me out of it. I was in 15th place, and "still looking strong." Don't know about all that, but I dropped anyway.

I was upset, and frustrated I couldn't do it. I'd never dropped out of a race, and not much of a quitter in general. In fact, I don't quit anything. I'm too stubborn and self motivated to let myself quit anything. I always have to prove it to myself that I could do it. Although it was hard to do, my dad said he was proud of me for knowing my limits, not pushing myself to the point where I really hurt myself, and it solidified a once shaky notion that I still had a central nervous system that I listened to. At the time, a comment like that sounds like a sympathy card, but a week later, it sounds a little like a complement.

The following morning, Adam and I woke up and went to the aid station where I had left some stuff and Dave was just coming in. We helped him along, and he looked good. He is a tough dude, and he finished well.

I'm still a little disappointed, but I realize that everyone DNF's every once in awhile, and for my first year of racing ultras, I'm still doing OK. I will be back next year to try to wrestle the monster that is Grindstone once more.

I'll be back.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


So as Grindstone nears... 50 hours and 44 minutes to be exact... I'm curious about my toenails. After the 12 hour event, two of them were looking iffy. Black to be exact. I'm looking for people's opinions (preferably runners) about what I should do.

I've got two options that I can see. I can leave them there and risk needing to stop to fish them out of my socks at Grindstone, or I can take them off myself right now.

Also, GEER left me a bit more tattered than the previous week. (i.e. I'm still feeling it on my runs) I've decided to take tomorrow off, and of course Friday until around 6 pm. Then we start.

Adam Tremper will be coming out with me and I'll probably pick him up at around mile 70 or so. He just came back from his bike ride across America and he is stronger than ever. You want to see a pair of legs? That dude has tree trunks for legs. Just huge solid slabs of muscle. And as big as he is, he's fast. Really fast. I'll be stoked to pick him up.

It should be a good time.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Not quite what I was expecting

Yesterday was the 2nd race in my three week race schedule. The Great Eastern Endurance Run 100k. (GEER) The plan was to go out Friday night, meet my dad at the start of the race, camp out, wake up, run, finish, end. I had a couple internal goals, nothing I advertised but mainly I wanted to finish. I ran a 12 hour event last week where I did 71.5 miles, and I have the Grindstone 100 next week, so I wasn't going to go hard charging this week. I did want to break Dave's time of 15 hours, and I did want to finish in the top half of the finishers, but if I didn't I wouldn't be too disappointed.

Camping was camping, no crazy stories from that. We ate, hung out by the fire, and slept. The morning of the race I woke at 5 o'clock and could already hear the infamous Marty from Charlottesville running store yelling for drop bags. As I got ready, I could hear the rain on the tent and could tell it was going to be a chilly start. Everyone gathered under the pavilion and the race brief was given as planned. At 5:57 we walked to the start, and at 6:00 am someone said go. We all made our way to the trail head and started up the mountain. The first climb is brutal. Just straight up with no switchbacks, in the dark, and in some mud. I was left in the dust by the front pack, and I had no problem with this. I kept going forward and before long, someone caught me, passed me, and then I was on my own again. Stumbling over rocks and scrambling up the mountain. Reaching the top would've been a relief if it weren't so rocky. Actually running was borderline impossible. It was more of a bouncing, jumping thing from one slippery rock to another just hoping to stay right side up.

Before too long, a guy caught up to me and stayed to chat for awhile. His name was Steve and he was really friendly. He told me all about what races he's done, and even gave me the scoop on Grindstone, which was very helpful. Being that we were running I told him about my cross country trip. He asked if my coach knew I was out there. A bit confused I told him I don't have a coach and am not on the cross country team, I'm running across THE country. He told me I should contact the Virginia Happy Trail Runners Club and should talk to them about it. They might know some people.

I ran with him for a lot of the morning until about mile 20. The temperature was all over the place. The temperature at the top of the mountain was about 10 or 15 degrees colder than the bottom, and fog rolled in and out. It was very hard to tell how I was doing as far as place was concerned because the 50k, 100k, and half marathon were all on the same trail for a little while. I just kept trucking along the best I could. I climbed mountains, and ran down mountains. Some of them just wouldn't end. It felt like there was no top, or no bottom. The worst part about running down for so long is that you know when you get to the bottom you will have to get back over the mountain you just hurled yourself down. At about mile 40 something, (I didn't pay very close attention to the mileage) I found out I was in second place. I couldn't believe it. On the climb up to that aid station I had passed three people, and one guy needed to drop because of medical reasons, and another guy dropped to the 50k also because of medical reasons, but there was no way I was in second.

I decided from there to push it. Why not? I only had 20 miles to go, I was feeling fine, and I might as well try to finish that way. The next two sections, I didn't walk at all. I just never stopped. I knew there wasn't much of a chance that I would feel that way for long, so I figured as long as I feel good, I might as well bank some time, and hope that the 3rd place guy was not running the sections I was. At the bottom of the last mountain climb, I grabbed my jacket. It had been raining for about an hour and I was really getting cold. And I knew that it was only going to be colder at the top of the mountain.

That climb took forever. I hiked a lot of it, and then got tired of hiking, and started running. Slowly, but I was running. That section was split up of hiking, running, hiking running, until I got to the top. I was freezing. I was afraid to stop too long because I needed to keep moving to keep my body heat up. Leaving that aid station I was assured that I still looked strong, and I was still moving fast. I doubted that, but I appreciated the comments.

From the aid at the top of the mountain, I had 4.5 miles or so. Mostly downhill. I booked it. For some reason, I thought the guy behind me was really close, so I never stopped running. I didn't stop at the final aid station to fill up my bottle, or eat. I just kept going. Part of that was due to fear of the guy behind me, and part of it was due to the fact that I was freezing, and the other part was due to me wanting to finish. I was mentally done for the day. I didn't come here to be competitive today, I came to finish, and was tossed into the competition unwillingly and due to other people's medical issues. I ended up finishing in 11 hours, and 17 minutes, second place. Afterward, I was stoked. Two plates of lasagna and mac n cheese later, I was showered and already thinking of next week.

(I might be able to find some pics, I'll post them if I do)

Next week's goal: Grindstone. Finish with a pulse.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

quick race report

Saturday was the 12 Hour Adventure Trail run in Prince William Forest Park. Overall, it was a great experience and a fun time had by all. It was a 6.5 mile loop that you run as many times as you can in 12 hours.

The race started at 6:15 am and headlamps were needed for the first lap. A big group of the front runners for the race all ran the first loop together just hanging out, catching up, joking around and just having a good time. The first lap we did in an hour and fifteen seconds. Dave led that loop in first place. From the aid station, Dave and I left before the rest of the small little pack and we headed out on our own. I was feeling good (and rightfully so, it had only been one lap) so I decided to go ahead at my own pace.

Unfortunately, for the stories sake, not a whole lot can be said for a constant looped course. In the late morning, my Dad left to attend my brother and sisters cross country meet, where they both did quite well. After about 3 laps, I was still in the lead and catching up to people here and there, stopping to talk every now and then. I was very relaxed and the course was very run-able. After the 4th lap, I saw my mom at the start/finish area with my grandma. It was nice to see them, but never stayed very long to chat. A couple laps later, my girlfriend Katie made a welcomed guest appearance. I wish I could have stayed a little longer than I did, but I was worried about people catching up, and needed to keep moving.

Being a loop, it's hard to tell where everyone is because you don't know what lap everyone else is on. You don't know if you've lapped them, or they passed you in the aid station. After the 8th lap, I still had four hours, and up until then, I had been running, on average,solid hour laps. I was not entirely sure if I could keep the pace for another four laps. But I did know that in order to break the course record of 10 laps (65 miles) I only had to run another 3. Three laps in four hours? I could do that. Coming back after the 9th lap, I crashed. I was very tired because I had been going at a pace that I had never tried for an ultra before. But surprisingly, everything still worked, especially if I was running. Actually running, not shuffling.

Leaving for the 10th lap was hard, I was tired, and pretty hungry. I was a bit weary about eating everything I wanted to eat because if I was to full, I might run into stomach issues. Upon reaching the halfway point, I caught up to Dave. He informed me that he was in second place, which was awesome! He also told me that he had running the entire time. Every hill, every section, everything. That was awesome too. When I got back from the 10th lap, I had an hour and a half to do one more lap to break the record. I didn't want to go though. I had sat down and was quite content with calling it a day especially because I had the 100k this weekend. My mom, grandma, sister Colleen, and friend Lara convinced me to get up and reminded me that I would have no problem recovering in time for this weekend. So I decided to go for the 11th loop. Somehow, I also decided it would be best to run the lap as fast as I could because there was no point in saving any energy. Besides, the faster I ran, the faster I was done.

In the early parts of the final lap one of the relay guys passed me which I had no problems with. When I got to the halfway point I was "moving" at best. But my family was there and my dad was playing the accordion. It pumped me up enough to just relax and cruise the lap in. I felt pretty good in the last half of the lap and ran everything. All the hills included. In the final half mile I saw the relay guy that passed me up ahead. Some kind of primal instinct kicked in and decided that I had to beat him. When we got to the parking lot we were neck in neck and it was an all out sprint to the finish. It turned out to be a bad idea because I spent the next hour and a half barfing. Oh well, small price. The final tally was 71.5 miles (11 loops) in 11:46.

Good day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Race much?

This weekend marks the first weekend of a series for me. I have three ultras in three weeks in a row. The first is the 12-hour Adventure Trail Run in Triangle, VA. It's a 6.5 mile loop course that you do as many times as you can in 12 hours. 6:15 am to 6:15 pm. This being the first, I would like to do well. For most people, myself included, finishing an ultra is doing well. Looking at my past times, and what I think I am capable of, I am going to shoot for 10 laps. 65 miles. Really pushing towards the end of the race, 11 laps might be doable. I'm not too worried about it, I'm just going to go about this race the same as I do every race. Run how I feel. If I can go faster without killing myself in the later hours, I will. If I need to slow down, I will.

Having the race so close to home is nice both for me and my "crew." They can drop in and out and check up as needed but it also helps that it's a loop. I'll come back to the same place every time.
I'll let you know how this race goes afterward.

Next weekend is the Great Eastern Endurance Run 100k (62.2 miles). This race sandwiched in between two is probably a good thing because, barring all tragedies, it will be the shortest. Yet, it has another element thrown into the mix. Mountains. Now, some people say it's only a mountain if there is a tree line. Well, then it is a race with four mile long, steep, rocky, rooty, twisty hills. Either way, that one I will also run how I feel. This race will probably take the most strategy because the very next week is the Grindstone 100 mile. I will have to run semi-conservatively and focus on not annihilating my legs. There is no point in killing myself over this race, even though there is a $500 purse to the first person to break 10 hours. I personally think that will take a Kieth Knipling or someone like that to break that one. The first place guy last year got 10:37...and he was flying. Anyway, I'll have an update for that one as well.

The week after that, two weeks from tomorrow (yes, it starts on a Friday), is the Grindstone 100. This is the website. This race has a big name to live up to in my mind because of the initial paragraph on the website:

"Grit, endurance, temporary loss of sanity. You might need all of these if you want to attempt Grindstone. If you want to finish, well, just keep in mind this is, without a doubt, the hardest 100 miler east of the 100th meridian."

I'm stoked.

On top of it being the hardest on this coast, I will have about 120 race miles on my legs from the previous two weeks, and that's not including the daily stuff that keeps me sane. It starts at 6 pm to level the playing field. Most 100's start early morning and the front of the pack runner's are all trying to beat daylight so they don't have to run in the dark. Most front of the pack runners still have to run in the dark for a little while, just not as long. This puts the back of the pack at a disadvantage because no one runs 100 percent as well in the dark. It just doesn't happen. Its going to be tough, and I hope it lives up to it's name.

...And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jan 14

Day 13 is dedicated to my darling sister, Bridget, simply because math is not fun. This joke was told to me by Matt Grundy, who made it up, yesterday and now I'm passing it to Bridget.

Q: If the military goes to boot camp, where do spies go?
A: Sneaker camp

Onto business. Today's total was 34 and the starting temp was 53 and hi of high 70's. Either way, it was toasty. I felt pretty good today. For some reason I decided to work in some speed work early in the day because I thought if I go the same speed every day I might forget to run fast. So I did some mile repeats, and some song pick-ups just to make things interesting.

Moat of today was very bland nothing-ness but the last 14 miles were on a dirt road that had me gasping for dust-free air. The wind was kicking up mini tornados and any car that drove by was putting me in a cloud. Luckily there were a total of 4 cars in that 14 miles.

News from Tybee Island (where I'm ending) is that they are stoked and there's going to be a party....actually a party is an understatement. But details will come later.

This was warning me of the dam. There was no water. None at all, if there was, I'd be in it. But you can see around the sign is nothing but sand, gravel and tumbleweeds. I thought it was ironic.

-- Patrick

Monday, September 14, 2009

So that's what they look like

Well it has taken me a bit longer than I would have liked to get this post up, but here it is.

On Sunday, I went back to the Preist and Three Ridges. It was a sort of last minute night before decision but I needed to get away for the day. So I awoke at 6:30 and started the drive out there. I had to stop for gas and the Sheetz that I stopped at had peanut butter coffee rolls. One of these things must have been packing about three days worth of calories, but for some reason, I couldn't resist. This proved to be a good decision later.

I got out there around 9:30 and was heading up the four mile climb probably around 9:40. The way up wa beautiful as it hadn't gotten too hot yet and it was clear so I got to see the view I missed the first time.

About twelve miles of mountainous view was
a welcomed sight. After reaching the top I turned around and started flying down the trail in an attempt to annihilate my quads. (what else do you do on a training run?)

When I got back to my car I refilled my bottle, and pack and realized that I had forgotten my salt tablets. I can't do a proper training run without forgetting something vital.

Side story: when I was crewing for Dave at the Old Dominion 100 I got talking to the race director and she told me about when she ran a 100 and didn't take in enough salt and she ended up in a coma. Today wouldn't be that big of a dea but it did make me think.

The Mau Har trail is always tough. Today was no different. About 3/4 the way up though I was feeling the effects of lack of salt. I was getting very tired and felt incredibly sluggish. When I finally got to the next overlook I took off my pack and sat down. I'm not a huge fan of stopping in general but I think it was necessary. After about ten minutes of "just taking in all in" ... And getting eaten by horseflies, I decided it was best to keep moving. I downed my second, and last, Swiss roll and started down the trail.

I surprisingly felt very good after the break and ran the final 6 miles at a clip I could be proud of. The good feeling didn't last too long but I was able to push just enough to keep the pace.

About ten minutes from the car I decided I would pick it up a bit. This proved to be a bad idea because it wasn't even a minute before I was face down in the dirt with blood coming from my elbow. All I could do was laugh and tell myself to slow down a bit. The Tye River was very chilly but it felt great after the quickened pace of the last part of the run.

When I had left the house that morning I had called Dave to see if he wanted to go but he had done the Ring (70 Miles in the Massenuttens) the day before and wasn't up for it, understadably. But I told him where I would be in case he changed his mind. He apparently had changed his mind and wanted to grab pizza because he was in the parking lot when I got back to my car. The day wrapped up nicely with a trip to Mr. Ho's pizza where we had a big Humble Pie. That's what it is actually called and it was awesome.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Things are coming along

The cross country run is really coming along and some great contacts are being made. Everyone I talk to wants to help out in their own way, it's really cool how some people can contribute.

I was talking to Ray Storm, a professional mountain biker, (look him up, the dudes crazy on a bike) and one of his sponsors is an energy bar company named Can Do Kid. It's a really cool company that is run primarily by a mom who wanted to feed her kids something that they liked but wasn't full of sugar, and fake stuff. Their whole thing is getting kids to realize their full potential to do something great for the community. Anyway, when Ray talked to the owner, Deb Luster, about possibly sponsoring me, she was stoked! So now I will be eating Can Do Kid bars to energize myself for the run!

Also, thanks to my girlfriends parents I now have a Spot to help keep people up to date on my whereabouts and a way to get out of possible emergency situations. It has three buttons, one for OK/I'm good, one for 911, and one for family to send help. It's a great little remote that could really save someones life. Once I get it completely figured out, I'll post the website to follow my little blip on the map across the country. Cool stuff. Well, that's just an update for now.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mountain day

I decided since Grindstone and the 100k are mountain races I should probably do a mountain training run. Whether or not this was an excuse to escape the city is completely up to you.

I left this morning after I got off work and was in the parking lot by 11:30. This is a much later start than I wouldve liked but hey I'll take what I can get. My plan was to do the 4.8 miles up The Priest and back down, stop by my car for a bottle refill and head up the Appalation Trail for the Three Ridges, jump on the Maw Har Trail join back up with the AT and loop it back to the car for a total of twenty something miles. (I don't think I ever know exactly how many miles or how long it took me...I'm not much for counting these things) things rarely go according to plan, but today did. The preist was a very long hill. Four miles up. I ran where I could, shuffled where I could, and hiked the rest. I passed one through hiker and was called crazy for running the section I was... The term crazy came up several times today, not something I'm particularly proud of. It wasn't raining yet but the fog made views that were normally spectacular completly blank.

For me, the rain was a nice addition to the experience, if i can't see anything nice, ya might as well make it pour...and it did. It felt good. because of the climbing, I was generating plenty of body heat even though it was pretty cool for an August afternoon. Reaching the top was very anticlimactic because of the lack of view but it still felt like I accomplished something.

The run down was a ride. The Rocks got very slippery but somehow I managed to stay right side up.

I started the Three Ridges trail in the downpour. I didn't mind it too much but my feet were nice and soggy. Climbing mountains is not something I would put on the "easy" list. It certainly has it's ups and downs...get it??? I thought of that one out there and had to make sure I remembered it.

ANYWAY, I got on the Maw Har trail and was in for a surprise. That thing is no joke. Once you get to the waterfalls, it loses all run-ability. Especially because all the rocks you have to scramble over were too slippery. By this time the rain had stopped, but everything was still soaking wet. At the top I made the sharp right to get on the AT and immediately started climbing...again. The good/bad news is I found out why they call it Bee Mountain. Bees everywhere. I don't know how but I didn't get stung at all. Horseflies were a different story all together. By the time I got to the scenic overlook many of the clouds had lifted to a point where I could see!

The big one up front is one of the three ridges and the smaller one in the back is Bee mountain.

From here I knew I had one more big climb and then the rest of the way was mostly downhill. At the top of the last mountain I came across three backpackers. They were very nice and the second and third of the day to call me crazy for running the mountains. We got talking and they asked if I was training for anything so I told them about the cross country run and this blog, I don't know if they will ever read it but if they do, what's up guys from DC?!?

The way down was much quicker than the way up and I felt some relief actually running again even though they were long downhills. I got to what I felt was a decent pace and was in cruise control.

Killer quad busting downhills tend to be where I pick up time the most. The way I see it, bikes can go faster on downhills, why can't legs? I know there are limitations but it's just the principle.

At the very bottom just before the parking lot is the Tye River where I decided to go swimming because I was very muddy and didn't want to drive home like that. All in all: great day.

-- Patrick

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Must have mixed up the titles

While I normally love the heat as opposed to the cold, humidity maybe the one exception. I don't know what today's heat index was today, but it made me wonder how much houses in the desert were going for these days. I think the high today was about 93...which to a large amount of people sounds like hell to start with but that's not the part that gave me trouble.

Today was the only day this week where I didn't have to wake up at 4:30 for work so I set an alarm for 8 because I've been a bit sluggish while I adjust to the new sleep schedule. I must have turned it off in my sleep because I woke up at ten to a text message...which I didn't mind a bit. I made a peanut butter and jelly bagel to go, loaded up my baby jogger with every text book I own, and weights, and water, and anything heavy, and was out the door by 10:15. I didn't have class until four so I wanted to get in as much time as I could on my feet before then. I'm trying to take full advantage of the first week of school only being minor reading assignments and as much as I don't want to admit it, "doing the bare minimum" of what is expected of me for this introductory week. That said, I wanted to run all day until my class. Going up Riverside drive was tough even at that time just because of the humidity, and I knew from the first hill, I wasn't going to be setting any land speed records today. The first two hours weren't bad, I stayed hydrated and was fully fueled from the bagel sandwich I crafted at the start, but toward the end of the second hour, I was starting to feel the intense leg workout I did yesterday.

My plan was to get nice and tired from the jogger and the hills on Riverside drive and then go back to the house, drop off the jogger, switch shoes and hit the trails for the second part of the day. Upon reaching the house, the humidity was starting to get to me. I don't normally take Enduralytes (an electrolyte/salt capsule) during training runs but today, I could feel the lack of electrolytes and decided, in order for the trail part to be an actual run, I would need some salt. At the house, I dropped the jogger, refilled the my bottle, snagged the Enduralytes, changed shoes and was back out the door heading for the trails in less than 5 min. Right before I hit the trail head, I crossed the Nickel Bridge (even though the toll is 35 cents). The sun was merciless. It beat down so hard on my bare shoulders and chest, I ran a little faster just to make the quarter mile or so to the trail head go a little faster.

Normally after going at a pretty slow pace for a while, picking up the pace and stretching the legs out feels pretty good. I found this to be the case crossing the bridge and decided to hold that pace until I decided otherwise. The beginning of the trail was flawless. Entering my third hour I felt great, the pace was quick but manageable, and I had just soaked myself in a little creek and was feeling pretty cool despite the humidity. This did not last long. By the time I got to the hose to refill my water bottle near Reedy Creek, I was crashing pretty hard. I was sweating way more than normal, to the point where my feet were sloshing around in my shoes: not generally what I'm used to even on the hottest days. My heart rate was above normal despite the quickened pace, and my vision began to blur. I felt rough at best. After I refilled my water bottle, I decided to slow down quite a bit and walk a lot of the hills that I normally run. This of course added time to what I normally did much quicker. I was growing frustrated with the whole process of run, walk, run, walk, on a relatively short mileage day and decided to just run the rest so I could get back to the house quicker.

This worked for a while and I was able to forget that I was running for a little while, which is usually a good sign that I am very comfortable, even on the hills. After one of the trail sections, you have to go through a parking lot and then down a road for about 6 blocks or so where there is no shade. Having the sun beating down and the humidity so high proved to be stronger than my will to get the rest of this run over with. Following that section, I sat down. I never sit down on training runs. If I need to slow down, I do, but I never sit down. I just could not get my heart rate down, and could not seem to balance out the water I was losing with the water I was taking in.

After about 5 min, I got up and started walking which was also very disappointing, but at least I was moving forward. Soon enough, I was able to feel better and start slowly running the rest of the way back. A cold shower has never felt so good.
Lessons learned: eat more; take in more salt; and you can't beat humidity, you can only work with it.

Tomorrow is just gym and maintenance stuff, but Friday I'm off to the mountains for the day. I'm stoked to be getting in some good training for the hellish climbs of Grindstone.

I wish I took more pictures.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Heat Stroke?

Today, the fall semester started. School, for the next four months, will unfortunately consume my life. BUT, I have also stepped up the training. I am now back to my old two-a-day runs and weight training mixed in every other day.

Since I will be running on roads for the cross country run, I run more on roads...but since the three ultras in three weeks (12-hour, 100k, 100 mile respectively) in September will be all on trails, I'm also running trails concentrating on hills. Although, my primary focus for all of this is beating my feet into submission because that is my weakest part.

My feet are always the first thing to start aching, and never let up. Unlike quads, and hamstrings, feet do not hurt more or less on uphills/downhills. Once they start, they continue to give hell for the remainder of the run. So far, I am successfully killing my feet. I have been wearing my Asics DS Trainers more than the Gel 3000's because they have a thinner sole and there is more interaction between my feet and whatever surface I'm running on. These shoes would be a great race shoe, they are light, thin, yet still supportive when they need to be for the mild overpronator...I'll stop there at the risk of sounding like a shoe reviewer.

ANYWAY! I have had a couple questions about whether I have a trainer, or a coach; or if I'm planning on getting a coach. I have never been coached, and probably won't ever be coached. I ask a lot of questions, and read a lot. I like listening to different people's training methods and sometimes I even take some ideas try them for myself. This is the way I have always done my training. I just try what makes sense and if it works, it works. If not...I drop it fast.

Virginia has had some pretty hot weather lately, and the kind of humidity that fills your lungs. Translation: Good running days. Some will not run in really hot humid weather, and if you are sensitive to heat, or are prone to heat stroke, by all means, stay on the treadmill. But I tend to like running in hot weather. It takes a little bit more out of you, and yes, the grossness factor and sheer amount of sweat is enough to make anyone cringe, but to me, it makes sense to run in every condition no matter what. Besides, when it's hot, it feels good to dump cold water on yourself, or have someone wipe iced sponges on your back....but when it's cold, do you dump hot water on yourself? I'm serious, running while soaking wet feels so good. It just does. ---->

Since I moved out of the house I was living in, I have a longer bike ride to class and work everyday. This, I don't see as a bad thing. It gives me about 2 hours of total bike riding everyday just going where I need to go, on top of my normal running and weight training. It takes about 30 min each way to work/class, and I always do it more than once because staying on campus, and saving myself a trip just doesn't make sense.

So, for any one who really only wanted to read one sentence of this post, here it is: I'm running more to beat up my feet, get faster, and stronger besides, Virginia is hot and humid so there is no better time to do it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Update on the trip, all because I couldn't sleep

So sometimes I end up working long days. Since I work at my school's gym, I just sit there and swipe people in. During the summer it is dead. I'm talking no one. Not a soul. Normally, this would be the kind of thing to send me over the edge and cause me to start making up games like how many times I can say "Mississippi" in the span of ten seconds, or turning a tread mill on as fast as it can go and setting the incline at the highest, and jumping on hoping I don't fly back.

Since I have a lot to do with the trip, though, this extended forced sitting time is a good thing. Today, I completely finished the route I'm taking, when I'm planning on being where, about how much I'm running daily, and when I will need shoes sent to specific destinations. This is a huge step in the trip because, now I can start to contact people in the counties/cities to let them know I'm coming and hopefully set up a place to stay, and an interview with the local paper or news station...this trip IS so I can tell the most people about juvenile arthritis after all.

The list of cities is REALLY long. SO! If you know anyone in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, or Georgia and would like to offer them my name, my email is Please contact me on that email and I can send a list of cities.

In other news, I wrote an email to Dean Karnazes because I knew he lived in San Francisco, and I know it's not too far from Huntington Beach where I'm leaving from. I asked him if he would be interested in starting the first day with me. I didn't really expect a response but I got one that said he would be out of the country until Aug 5th...but he wrote "P.S. Patrick, I got your message. Please be in touch with me as we get
closer to your departure date. If I am on the safe continent, I would be honored to join you at the start. Best wishes in your training! Dean
" Awesome? I'd have to say yes.

People have a couple different opinions of the guy. Some think he is bringing a lot (too much) publicity to a small very specialized sport, where you can set some kind of record, and all you get is a pat on the back and the same belt buckle that the last place person gets...which I really like about it. Others think he is God. Me? I think he is smart. He took something people didn't know much (or anything) about, and he wrote about it. True, the man is an animal. It doesn't mean he is the only "animal" that has ever lived, or the best runner that ever lived, or the fastest, or the strongest. He's up there, though. You have to at least give the man some credit for being smart.

"Somebody poisoned the water hole!"
Toy Story 3: June 18th, 2010

...I'll have pictures up from Burning River soon...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Any day running is a good day

So, I have about 9 days to do as much planning for this cross country excursion as I can. I took summer classes until the 5th of August, and school starts again on August 20th. So far, things are looking good. I have mapped out my route in an pencil, of course. And I'm building a list of all the addresses of the companies I want to write to to hopefully work out some sort of sponsorship deal.

After working on much of this, I met up with Lauren Rinker for the photo shoot portion of the interview for Sports Backer Quarterly Magazine. She was very nice, and is working as an intern now. She was very thorough in the interview. If I were an employer, I would hire her for a position as an editor...hint. hint.

Getting my picture taken is always awkward. I get the feeling as this trip and the running thing get more serious, they don't always want every picture to be of you just cheezin' it up. Unfortunately, for me, I always get nervous, and the whole nervous smile thing comes back to bite me. Oh well, maybe I'll get more comfortable as time goes on.

Waking up every morning at 4:30 for work started to take it's toll on me today on my bike ride home from work...or maybe it was the 100+ degree heat, couldv'e been both.

I started my run at around 4:50 pm and had a destination in mind. I used to go to Tuesday night speed workouts with the Richmond Road Runners but as my work schedule and school needs piled up, I was forced to give that up and just do that work on my own time. Tonight, I didn't have any other obligations so I decided to visit my friend Mark Guzzi at the track. After arriving, no one actually wanted to do the speed work, and someone brought up a slower longer run instead. I am no one to ever turn down a longer run. It was good...still very hot, but good. I believe the temps hovered around the 98-101 range which meant finding a sprinkler in someone's yard was like winning the lottery. Upon returning to the track I was informed that a storm was supposed to blow in tonight, and the heat wave of the past couple days was supposed to end. I don't mind the heat. And I really really prefer it to the cold. But I did want to make it home before any lightning had a chance to creep me out.

It was a good run, about 3 hours, decent for a weekday that had some leg weight lifting in the morning. I'm just trying to get as much time on my feet on pavement, beat my feet into submission on the regular, and work on getting my recovery time down. I did have a missed call from my Aunt Vickie informing me that she had contacted Ray Storm, a professional mountain biker, through a friend of a friend. This guy is incredible, and he knew a ton about the ins and outs of sponsorships. He was really willing to help with letting me know how things worked with sponsorships. Plus, he's got a sick last name. Storm. Seriously, if I toed a start line next to a guy named "Storm" I'm not sure I could even start.

One of the things he told me is that I need to start an emailing list just to keep people up to date with training, races, news from the run, etc. So, while I personally think, this would be more in line with companies, or people who sponsor me, if there is anyone who wants to be on my mailing list, just let me know.
That's all folks

Monday, August 3, 2009

Burning River 100 Mile Race

Well, this weekend was the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run. I have to say, I had a blast. At the pre-race dinner there were so many people it was the biggest ultra I had been a part of so far. And for some reason, everyone looked fast, and like they were a top contender for a win, it was a bit intimidating. My dad, Colleen, and Kevin (siblings) came up to the race with me, and after check in started eating the pasta, meatballs, salad, and cookies that were set out for the runners and crew. At this point, Dan Brendan, whom I had met while crewing/pacing Dave Snipes at Old Dominion 100, came up and sat with us. He is in my top ten for most inspirational people. The guy is just an incredible runner, and quite possibly the toughest person I have ever met. At OD, he made a wrong turn that took him 9 miles the wrong way. He had to turn around, and run 9 miles back to the place that he got off course and then continue the race. The man ran 118 miles, overcame the mental undo that must have caused, and still finished well within the cut off time. Simply incredible. Besides, all of his 17 100 mile races per year, and all the times he has completed the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, and The Last Great Race, he is truly a very pleasant and incredibly modest person to be around. I'm not sure he could be mean if he tried. Bottom line: Dan Brendan is awesome.

After the dinner, my family and I went north about 20 min to Cleveland which is a really cool city. It's no ghost town, but it's not very crowded either. We also saw Lake Erie, so technically, I guess we saw Canada too because the border of Canada goes right through the middle of Lake Erie. I don't think I would like it in the winter because it is freezing there, but I think during the summer, it is a great place to check out. (that's the Brown's stadium behind us)

I was a bit nervous the day before and just before the race, not only because I always get nervous before any race, but because a cold had graced me with its presence.

I woke up the day before, and had that feeling in the back of my throat like I was going to be sick the next day. Sure enough, I woke up on race day with the feeling of clogged sinuses, and a full head. So, I did what any sane person would do, took some Airborne and headed to the start line. After arriving at about 4:30 am and checking in, I met up with Dave Snipes and Kirby and stood around shivering until the race started. Shivering on August 1st is a weird feeling, but it was chilly at that time. 4:59 rolled around and they gathered us all up at the line and they said something probably inspirational and probably very motivating, but my head was elsewhere. Next thing I knew, all 150 something of the starters were shuffling forward across the open field onto the road. As we neared the road, I could hear an Irish reel being played on the accordion. Yes, my dad had brought along his instrument of choice, and decided to give us a start I'm sure none of the other racers had experienced.

I told myself I was going to run how I felt the entire day. No faster. Within the first three miles, I could see the front runners. I could count what place I was in. 7th. I didn't feel comfortable there. There was no way, that was right. Everyone around me was experienced and a whole lot older. I'm talking like twice my age older. There was obviously something they knew that I didn't. So, I dropped back, and dropped my pace quite a bit. After holding that for a while, I ended up running with this one guy for awhile. Frank D. He pronounced his last name, but it was french, and there is no way I would spell it right.

He was one of the lead organizers of the Ohio Running club. Nice guy. We got talking, and I told him about my cross country trip coming up, and he remembered a girl who had just recently come through Ohio. He said her name was Katie something. "Katie, Katie, Katie Vasco?" Yea! It was the same girl that I initially contacted about her trip back when I first decided to do it. She gave me a couple contacts, and was very willing to help. Small world.

Reaching one smaller aid station, I saw my dad there, and next to him on the ground was my bag which held the sacred of all sacred ultra-fuel. Yoohoo. I snagged one and started shaking it. Immediately, a lady runs up to me screaming that she's going to report me, and I'm going to be disqualified! Um, what? Apparently, that aid station wasn't an access point for crews, and I was going to be disqualified because I picked up my Yoohoo. I explained to her that I hadn't actually opened it. Frank immediately backed me up, saying it's OK, I didn't drink any. She agreed that it was OK, but it was still a little nerve racking. As awesome as Yoohoo is, it's not worth getting disqualified over. Frank disagreed. Still a little nervous she was going to report me for not drinking Yoohoo, we left the aid station and continued on. After awhile running with him, I moved on because I was feeling good, and he needed a pit stop.

The next couple aid stations were well supplied with melon. It was the hottest day Ohio had seen all year so cold cantaloupe and watermelon tasted near immaculate. That and Yoohoo was my staple for this race. The next guy I ran with was a police officer from Toronto. We got talking, and it turns out he is going to be the official torch carrier of the Olympic torch across Canada!!! He's been an officer for 23 years, and they chose him and he is going to run across Canada with the torch. I love the kinds of people you meet during these runs. After he told me about his cross country run, I told him about mine, and how I am raising money for the Arthritis Foundation, he just looked at me, said, "Holy shit, dude, that is awesome. Here's a donation." He opened the little zipper on his water bottle holder and pulled out money, and gave it to me. I was stunned.

For the rest of the morning and early afternoon, I ran mostly by myself, which I actually like a lot. I get my best thinking done while I run. I might not be able to solve world problems in my head, but I can keep my mind occupied for long periods of time. Call it what you will, but I like it.

At mile 60.6 I was allowed to pick up a pacer. My dad said he would take the first ten miles, Colleen, the next 5, and Kevin would pick it up from 85 to the end. That would only leave me ten miles in between to run on my own for the remaining forty miles. My dad started out, and told me not to let him slow down at all. If he lagged, he said I was to leave him. I wasn't too fond of the idea. We slogged up the road and got to the trail head. The trails are where I picked up the most time. Especially the downhills. The rockier, and more roots, the better. Unfortunately, there was a long uphill entering the trail, which I could hear my dad's breathing grow heavier, and then a long downhill. I lost him. Bad son, yes. Good listener, also yes. Within the first mile, I was on my own again and had caught two people. Connie, and Tim. Tim was first overall last year, and Connie was first woman last year. Both are incredible runners. I knew if I were to keep my lead on them, it would take an incredible amount out of me.

I got to the aid station, and ate more melon, and chatted it up with the aid station workers. They got a kick out of me "losing" my pacer, and when my dad came in he declared he failed as a pacer. There is no way that is true, he just came back from an injury. He ended up walking out to the road and hitching a ride to the next aid station where Colleen and Kevin had the van.

At the next aid station, I still came in before Tim, but Connie had caught back up with me. I changed my socks, and took off with Colleen. This part of the trail was awesome. We had to boulder hop, and scramble between huge rocks. This was Colleen's first time pacing someone, and I could tell from the start she liked it. At the next aid station, she said she felt OK and was going to keep going for the next 6 miles...that would bring her to 10. She is an awesome pole vaulter and a very good sprinter. Ten miles is pushing her distance limits, but she wanted to go, and I was not going to turn the company down. The next section we were cruising down a hill and then there were a set of stairs, still cruising, we took the stairs and went down the trail. When we got to a road, there were no trail markings. We had missed a turn. We turned around and booked it up the hill hoping that Tim and Connie hadn't passed us in the time it took to fix my mistake. When we got to the next aid station, we saw them leaving. This really bummed me out a lot more than it would have, had it happened earlier in the day.

As the race progressed during the early afternoon I realized it was a realistic goal to finish mile 80 before it got dark. When Colleen and I got to mile 80, there was still plenty of light and there was a 4.8 mile loop back to the same aid station we were at now. Colleen decided she felt good enough to do the loop! This would bring her to 15 miles! Farther than she'd ever gone before. The loop was hard. Very hard. I was crashing and while, she didn't show it, I think Colleen was hurting too. Coming into the aid station she fell back a little bit because her calves were seizing up and her legs were really cramping.

After sitting down and resting for a minute, I pushed on into the night with Kevin. With 15 miles to go, pain had set in, and made itself a nice comfortable home in every inch of my body. Kevin was great, I couldn't have asked for a better person to take me the final 15 miles. Since he had hurt his hand earlier in the week, his hand was still in a protective guard and I was a little nervous he would fall on some of the trails. It was very very dark. Even with headlamps. To be completely honest, I don't remember much of the last section of the race except for the towpaths that never seemed to end and the sewage treatment plant that I'm pretty sure zapped a couple of brain cells as I hobbled by.

I do remember the very last aid station though quite well. There was a guy sitting in a chair, and I was sitting on the grass not wanting to get up with 4.8 miles to go. He looked at me and said, "You can sit there now, but I'm not letting you stay there long. You need to finish this dance, man." With that, I took a bite from an oatmeal cookie, did the hardest push up of my life, stood up on what felt like twigs wrapped in needles, and started walking. Kevin was still next to me, and offering some encouraging words, I'm sure. As we crossed the highway overpass, a cop turned on his lights and escorted us across the bridge that would start the last section. There was a lot of trail on this section, and then in the last mile and a half, there were stairs. Lots of stairs. What kind of demon soul would put stairs at mile 98??

We came up on a guy who used to be in 3rd place. The guy flew through the first 85 miles of the race and then decided his feet were wrecked. He was kind of unusual because, he looked like he sorta rolled out of bed and decided he was going to run 100 miles that day. Basketball shorts, and a cotton sleeveless t-shirt, now splattered with blood from his chaffed nipples. He had gotten his feet checked out and the bottoms of his feet were completely peeled! He was forced to walk the last 15 miles. After exiting the trail we had one mile to go, in which Kevin and I slogged on. Then I saw a figure running towards us. It was Colleen. She was allowed to join us for the final mile to the finish line, and so I knew it was close. So, I did what any sane person would do, I booked it. I ran as fast as I could. All three of us ran hard and we ran strong, all three of us ran in pain whether it be in our hand, or calf, or every muscle in our body toward a line in a town square that said I had officially completed 101.2 miles in 19 hours 33 minutes Who cares about the seconds? It's 100 miles.

I finished in 5th place overall out of 103 finishers. It was a good day, and the second I crossed the finish line, I completely forgot about the pain from the race, and couldn't wait for the next 100 mile adventure. I couldn't have done it without my crew. My dad, my sister Colleen, and my brother Kevin.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Burning River 100

This weekend is the Burning River 100 mile run in Ohio. It's near Cleveland if I'm not mistaken... anyway, I'm super stoked on the whole race.

When I ran the 24 hour Adventure Trail run back in May, my dad, my brother, and Adam Tremper (my roommate) all paced me for various lengths. Actually, Adam ended up running 28 miles with me which was farther than he had ever gone by 12 miles. I was just as stoked on that as I was with my own race. My dad ran with me first and since it was on an 8 mile loop that was repeated as many times as you could in a 24-hour period, he ran one loop with me then, and another later on in the night...or morning, I kind of lost track of time. My brother ran the next loop with me.

The loop was designed like a lollipop. There was a 2 mile stick and then a 2 mile part to the right and then you crossed a street and that was the halfway point where there was a jug of water and a bag of chips or something. Then you finished the second part of the loop and did the 2 mile stick again for a total of 8 miles for the whole course. As my brother and I were nearing the halfway point of the loop I thought I heard some accordion music. I had been running since 7 a.m. and it was now around midnight so I didn't say anything to my brother for fear that I might be hillucinating the music. It was the first time I had run any distance longer than 50 miles and I was not quite sure how my body would react. I heard of people hillucinating everything from old prospectors at Badwater, to snakes and spiders at Western States. After a few minutes we were getting even closer to the street, and my broter turns to me and asks if I hear accordian music. Relieved that I wasn't losing my mind, I assured him I'd heard it for a little while. When we came around the corner we saw my dad sitting down playing the squeese-box for the runners! It was so awesome, and really unexpected, and I heard several of the other runners enjoyed the mid-night pick me up as well.

For Burning River this weekend, my dad, my brother Kevin, and one of my sisters, Colleen are all coming to help crew for me and pace least that was the plan. Last night I get a text from Kevin, "hey, guess who's in the er?" Turns out he was riding in a go cart at his friend's house and they rolled it after hitting a curb. It would've been cool if Kevin's hand wasn't holding the roll cage. They were upsidedown and his hand was bearing the weight of the go cart, his friend and himself. He said one knuckle was crushed and the other was swollen to the size of his non-crushed hand. A while later, I found out nothing was broken...somehow. I'm still not sure if he will come to Ohio for the race or not, but I am sure he won't be running any. I'm in the process of convincing Colleen to help pace me at some point but she's a little uneasy. She is a sprinter, and a really good pole vaulter. She's going to be a freshman at George Mason University, and she will jump for them. Clearly, distance isn't quite her thing, but I assured her I definitely won't be going fast and she could probably walk to keep up. Still, she's never been to an ultra, so I think she's in for a treat.

My dad has been out of running with an injury for the past several weeks but he says he's up for running with me... I really don't want him to overdo it. Especially, coming back from an injury.

So basically, my dad, and sister are definitely coming with me, my brother possibly, and I have no clue if any of them are running with me. Not quite the ideal knowledge situation, but still, it will be fun no matter who comes, or runs.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Starting Out

Well, I never thought I would ever start blogging, but for a trip like this, I guess I'll give it a shot.

My name is Patrick McGlade and I am a 20 year old ultramarathon runner. I am going to run across the United States to raise money and awareness for the Arthritis Foundation.

The reason I'm running for them is because I found out that kids get arthritis. It's not just something that happens to old people. And it doesn't happen to all old people. It is an actual disease. More on that later though.

In order to train for this, I've already run a few ultras this year, and plan to do a few more along with normal day to day running and weight training...the only part I don't like. East Coast Bicycles in Norfolk, VA helped me out tremendously with the jogging stroller that I will be using to push all my supplies from San Diego or LA, CA to Tybee Island, GA. The guys at the shop were awesome, and really knew what they were talking about. He asked if I was expecting a kid soon, I assured him this wasn't the case and told him what I was going to actually do with it. He gave it to me for what he paid for it directly from the manufacturer! He said he would help me because I was crazy. Maybe i should start pleading insanity more often...

Already, I did an overnight run from Richmond where I go to school to my parents house in Stafford. A total of 70 miles for the first time I ever ran with it. It went very well, and actually think the non-stop rolling hills on that 70 mile section of Rt-1 may have been easier because of it. Another thing that made it easier was my friend Dave Snipes. He called and asked if I wanted to run that night and I told him I had already started the trip. He ended up playing leap frog with his car driving ahead of me then running back towards me and then both of us running to his car where he would then drive up the road a little and repeated pretty much the whole way. He probably did about 40-50 miles that night. Needless to say, my mom was a little surprised when we ran up the driveway at 9:30 the next morning, so she made us waffles. Good deal.

On the race schedule for the next coming months I have the Burning River 100 next weekend, Aug 1-2 where my brother, dad, and sister will help crew for me and probably pace me at some point. Then in September I have the 12-hour Adventure Trail Run on the 19th, the Great Eastern Endurance Run 100k on the 26th, and October 2-4 I have the Grindstone Mountain 100 mile. Three weeks in a row of ultras, then the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October.
It's going to be tough, but so will the cross country run. Either way, I'm stoked and will keep you updated.