Friday, December 28, 2012

The importance of bad runs

The illusive "terrible run" is not as uncommon as I would like. Sunday was the epitome of a terrible terrible run. Sometime's I know what went wrong and sometime's I don't. In this case, I have no idea why everything broke down the way it did. Well, that may not be entirely true. I didn't fuel right. I had done runs like that before where I go out with less than I should have so that I train my body to run more efficiently on less and tap into my fat reserves sooner. Usually, I just bonk earlier, get though it and by the end I'm tired but nothing is actually painful.

Not the case on Sunday. My 27 mile run ended up being a 20 mile run, one mile shuffle, and a 6 mile hike/death march. It was an out and back course I set for myself and on the way back I came to a field and took a break. The day had started out very cold and windy and overcast. Just an overall grey day, perhaps that helped with my misery. By halfway through the run, the weather hadn't changed any except the clouds had dissipated. When I reached the field on my way back I didn't want to run anymore. I didn't want to walk anymore. I've had times where I've felt rough on runs but I'm not sure I have ever felt this bad. My feet felt like they were being beaten by mallets even if I walked. My legs wouldn't function at all in any sort of forward motion.

I just found a grassy spot away from any prickers and I lay down and stared at the clouds. It was warmer being level with the ground. I found solace from the wind among the tall grasses. I wasn't far from the trail but just looking up, I could have been anywhere. The sky was as blue as it had ever been and it reminded me of the bluebird days in Colorado right after a massive snow storm when everyone is in a good spirits and there's more than enough powder to go around. Staring up, even though wind is invisible, the effects of it are quite perceptible. Stray leaves danced around, following the drafts and truly riding the brisk breeze. I stared silently and so intently, I swore I could see the streams of air flowing. Planes littered the sky, largely due to my proximity to Dulles airport. And their contrails told stories of where they had been and the places they were going. It seemed like everything was moving quickly by air travel, the leaves, airplanes and stray objects of the woods. Except for me.

I was dry by this time. It had been awhile since I had stopped sweating. Though, I'm still not sure whether it was due to dehydration or the lack of quick moving. Probably a bit of both actually. After a little while, I'm not entirely sure how long, I decided I had had enough of everything flying around my motionless hollowed out corpse and I figured I should probably get up before I got too cold. As I got up, my imprint in the grass stayed like an inviting bed, and all comfort left me. The last miles were going to be hard. I knew that but I decided not to care about anything except making it back to the car. It was a classic run-turned-hike and I had come to the conclusion that I should just enjoy it as a hike instead of be disappointed that it wasn't a run.

My mentality changed everything. I had been discouraged because I was doing so horribly but once I didn't care, it was great. I was able to see parts of the Bull Run-Occoquan trail that I hadn't before or at least not in a long time. I realized that you can see parts of the trail that you can't in the summer from farther away. Hiking is also a very important part of long distance running. If you're in the mountains, sometimes the fastest "runner" out there is the one that can power-hike the fastest. It saves energy, and is often more efficient on the super steep stuff. Though there may not be anything on the Bull Run Trail that is close to the mountains, a little hiking practice never hurts.

The wind didn't ease up so I was still quite chilly because I was dressed to run but overall it turned into a beneficial day based solely on how I perceived what I was 'supposed to be doing' out there. Perception is what I took away from this not-quite-as-horrible-as-I-thought "run."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Recovery week

Recovery from a race is not something I'm too keen on. That might be because I'm usually amped up for one reason or another after a race. I either did horribly at the race and I'm angry with myself for not training for it and I start hammering it soon after and it takes me forever to recover. OR I do well at the race and I'm stoked to see what I can do if I keep training. This may very well work for some people, Karl Meltzer for example. Then again, I am not Karl Meltzer.

This time, after Hellgate, I decided to take it easy. I took a couple of days off, went to the Wednesday night fun run at Potomac River Running (which has been a habit for quite some time and we've got a good group of people), did a little light running of my own and caught up on some things that I'd been neglecting. On this past Saturday Katie and I went to visit Great Falls. It's pretty sweet and I'd only been twice before. Once in 5th grade when I was doing a project on "locks" (you can see that published in the library of congress...just kidding), and once a couple years ago to work an aid station for The North Face 50 mile race. Both cases, we didn't do a whole lot of exploring and so I was glad we were able to go back.

The Falls are an interesting place because while there are trails that meander around the park, the real fun is on the rock scrambles. And of course, Katie couldn't stay off the rocks, so I followed suit. So much for a nice easy hike...

Rock scramble, cliffs...what's the difference?                                  Katie getting her scramble on.

The required long-arm-picture in which none of the actual Falls are present. 

Sunday I got very antsy and needed a good run longer than 6 miles. I was good all week and didn't push it hard or run even remotely fast. So Sunday, I indulged. I was going down to Fredericksburg to help my friend Mitch with some of his trees and wanted to hit the old Fredericksburg Quarry trails beforehand. The trail leaves the parking lot and is a flat gravel road for awhile then you start the loop when you turn left up the hill. Basically, the first half is spent running up and down the hill and the second half running along the flat trail along the river back to the start of the loop. 

I decided to go for a double loop and the run went much better than expected aside from the sloppy conditions thanks to the recent rain. I was able to run hard all day even though I was clearly not a hundred percent after last week. Overall, good day, good run, good week. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hellgate 100k 11:41:30 5th place

Well, this is Hellgate. I got this elevation chart from someone, I don't remember where but I like it. So whoever made it, good job. Not sure what the yellow dots are on the course though, they don't seem to match up with every aid station. 

It's an interesting race and I'm more than happy I came back this year for it. I'm even more happy that this year I trained a little bit for it as opposed to thinking "eh, it's just a 100k." This race is the brain child of course masterminds Dr. David Horton and Clark Zealand. And what an awful disgusting child this thing turned out to be. And while it is a nasty course (in every sense of the word), I loved every second of it...well, almost every second.

This year was the 10th year of the race. And after finishing it for the first time, I humbly take my hat off to the gruesome group of masochists who have finished that race for their 10th finish.

That being said, this year there were also quite a few fast guys expected to do well. Eric Grossman, the previous course record holder was going to be racing and, according to Horton, trying to break 11 hours. Which is unreal for this course. With Eric in the race, along with several local (and not so local speed demons such as Alister Gardner, and Troy Shellhamer) and previous winners and top 3 races like Frank Gonzalez, Darryl Smith and Chris Reed, and Keith Knipling it was going to be a fast year...especially with the unseasonably warm temperatures.

The race starts at 12:01 am on December 8th. And just like I expected, about 15-20 guys bolted from the start. Normally I would've tried to keep up with them, but that day, I just relaxed and wanted to run the way I wanted to run. I just stayed in my own head, didn't count people in front of me, didn't worry about a thing. I just breathed. Because it was dark, my world was a small section of woods. There were no visual distractions. I smelled dead leaves and damp ground. On the :30 minute mark, I smelled apple cinnamon before I took a quick gulp of apple cinnamon Hammer Gel. Before I knew it we had arrived at the first aid station and began the first ~3 mile climb up the gravel road to the second aid station.

A sizable pack ran up ahead and they were charging. I let them go and made myself a part of the 10 ft diameter bubble that I could see. I smelled more dead leaves and the occasional breeze that smelled unseasonably sweet. Another :30 minutes, and more apple cinnamon. I kept running up the first climb not paying attention to anything in particular. Just running and smelling. Up the switchbacks I could glance and see the pack up ahead still 10 or so deep with a few stragglers off the back who maybe had been a little ambitious to try to stay up with Grossman and the others. Behind me there was a long string of LED lights bobbing along, some slower than others: walking. I never let myself feel uncomfortable. I glanced up and saw the millions of stars. I don't get that in Fairfax.

Before I could ask, where's the aid station, I had arrived. I saw my friend, Tara who was crewing for me, switched my gel flask, and hand bottle and kept running. Less than 10 seconds. She had only crewed for one other person, but she was very efficient. From there, I started running down a single track rocky trail. I was in heaven. I quickly caught up to two people as we entered the cloud. The clouds seemed to be caught in the valleys because as we ran down, it got progressively foggier. The visibility was under 15 feet, then again, it wasn't much more than that anyway. I still never let myself get uncomfortable, and never stopped running.

Shortly after the 3rd aid station I came across someone I knew was much faster and thought maybe I should slow down, but didn't feel like I was pushing, so I didn't slow down. I smelled more dead leaves and smelled cold water. I heard the stream/creek running next to the road we were all running up and was happy we didn't have to get our feet wet this year if we didn't have to. My friend Darryl caught up after a quick bathroom break and we had a rather enjoyable time running up the road. I smelled a campfire about 5 minutes before we arrived at the 3rd aid station, Camping gap. Soon after, I left Darryl and kept running. I didn't know what was going on, but I didn't feel like I was putting very much effort into this race so far.

They moved the third aid station up a little bit lengthening the already long section going to Headforemost Mountain. I ate some potatoes with salt at the aid station thinking it would be good to get something besides gel in my stomach, but soon after the aid station, I lost them. No harm no foul, I kept running. I never expected the next aid station to come, I just kept going and kept going, in and out of the clouds. Every now and then a sweet smelling warm breeze would arrive and I'd pull up the sleeves on my Smartwool baselayer and be quite comfortable. Then, I'd descend another mountain, get cool, smell more dead leaves, enter another cloud, pull the sleeves down and still be very comfortable.

Every now and then, I'd take a physical inventory of all my systems. Feet, comfy and issue free like normal, knees, hips, back, shoulders, neck, head, how's my form, how's my heart rate, am I tired, is it time to eat, when's the last time I took a sip of something?  Everything checked out, so on I ran.

Headforemost mountain passed, and I caught someone else. While running down a grassy fire road soon after passing my friend Frank, I stopped briefly to irrigate the side of the mountain. I got very confused for a second and forgot whether I was running down or up at the time. So I started running up. It was only a minute or two until Frank came barreling down the trail in normal "Frank the Tank" fashion. "Patrick, what're you doing? Everything okay?" After he assured me he was going the right way, I followed suit and descended into Jennings Creek.

Jennings Creek past, and I turned down warm eggs, sausage, and bacon. I kept running. The climb up to Little Cove mountain last year was quite literally a death march. My vision was blurry, my legs would barely walk, and I was more focused on not passing out so I could just get to the aid station to drop out properly rather than having some random car scrape me off the road or having the next racer drag me up to the top.

Little Cove Mountain came soon after smelling the camp fire and unlike last year, it was dark and I didn't feel like I was going to die; nor did I want to. This was the first time I let Tara and Brian tell me what place I was in. 4th. Grossman and Shellhamer were 15 minutes up, and I didn't honestly think I could catch them, but to know that they were only 15 minutes up at mile 34 or 37 (I'm not sure anyone actually knows) felt pretty good. With fresh batteries I headed into the next rocky section.

About 40 minutes after Little Cove, the sun came up. I was up on a ridge and it was all I could do to not stop and just stare at the scenery and beauty that was unveiling itself minute by minute. I could see the neighboring peaks and ridges but no valleys. They were shrouded in a very inviting-looking pillow of clouds. The sun cast a shadow on the ridges accentuating their steep inclines and the ruggedness to this region of Virginia was undeniable at this point. I missed this last year.

I was taking glances, wishing I had iguana eyes so I could focus on the trail and the scenery at the same time. Then I slammed the ground hard. Oh, it felt magical not to be running even if just for a second. I took a deep breath and thought for a minute if I could just take a quick little nap. Then I remembered it was a race and got up and kept running.

Then came the rocks. I've run on rocks before. These rocks were different; they were sharp and pointy. I've run on sharp and pointy rocks before. But these rocks were different; they weren't attached to the ground and rolled when I stepped on them. I've run on sharp and pointy rocks that rolled when I stepped on them. But these rocks were covered in about a foot and a half of leaves that hid the sharp and pointy rocks that rolled when you stepped on them so even if you knew what you were doing, running this section sober would be no different than going down it blind folded after doing several shots of moonshine. It wasn't a question of if you'd turn an ankle and strain a knee, it was whether or not you'd break an ankle and tear every ligament in your knees. David Horton is a horrible horrible man!

So horrible in fact, I may or may not have been compelled to strangle him when I saw him at the next aid station. Regardless, at Bearwallow gap, I picked up Brian, my pacer and on we went. I was tired now. I hadn't done much walking up to that point but I may have walked a bit more from here on in. I still just tried to run the run-able sections and do my best on the others. The scenery continued to be breathtaking but my frustration grew as I became more tired. Every bend in the trail looked like it could lead to the aid station, at Bobblett's gap and after a long while, we did. I changed my shirt and kept moving. We only had the long section (called the "forever section") into Day Creek and then one more sizable climb, and a long descent into the finish.

The forever section lived up to its name. Though, I think I figured out why. Everything looks the same!! Everything! The only defining characteristic of this part of the race is that it's FOREVER! There's no big defining climb! There's no big defining descent, just constant up, down, up, down! But, alas, during this section Chris Reed caught me. He looked fresh. He sort of hopped along the course like a wild rabbit. It was poetry in motion. I was jealous.

Brian and I rolled into Day Creek and began the final climb. I ran what I could, hiked what I had to, but all in all I think the climb went well. It's somewhere between a 2.5 and a 3 mile climb and we did it in 32 minutes. From there, we ran down. My knee hadn't bothered me all race, but I think we may have been a little excited for the finish and started bombing the descent because my left knee started aching. It stopped as soon as I finished, and hasn't hurt since, so I think I'm in the clear.

We rolled into the finish line and the clock read 11:41:30 and I finished in 5th place. In every other year that time would've been good enough for top three, and a few years good enough for first. But there was some good competition this year.

This is the quaint finish line - Great group of people, great race, great atmosphere. Great day.

Thank you Tara and Brian for your excellent crewing!

Also, if you could say a prayer for Dr. Horton, he has bypass surgery today. Hard to believe someone with his athletic background could need it but he does.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A student of the game

I'm starting to realize how little I actually know about running.

Over my few years of running I have started to read more about everything pertaining to running. And aside from the overwhelming amount of contradictory information out there, I've come up with a central theme. "No one knows what's going on." 

I've read everything from, "how to win running 200 mile weeks" to "less is more." From, "Paleo high protein is the best," to "vegan is the healthiest," to "gluten free." And once you have your diet "in check" not all of it matches up with what you should be eating as an athlete. That seems to throw a wrench in the mix! There are arguments on continuing to do what humans have done for thousands of years and new technologies and studies that prove we should change something.  

Debates between eating only gels during a race, and pigging out on pizza at aid stations. And I haven't limited it to books either. I've researched magazines where Runner's World gives you the benefits of running with a 12-14 mm drop super cushioned shoe and reading about the shoes with 40 mm of cushioning, to Running Time's articles exploring the science behind minimalist footwear. Exploring the differences in every kind of cushioning system known! From foam to gel to springs to wave plates to rubber to fluid to air to recycled tires. I've talked to people asking what they use as hydration during a race and have witnessed heated debates over the superiority of hand bottles over packs with a bladder. Every gel pack claims it's the premier choice because of the protein ratio or because it's organic or gluten free or because it uses a special hornet extract...seriously. They extract it from hornets?? Where's Mike Rowe for that dirty job? That one costs about $70 for a pack of 12 or 20. I'd love to try it but there is no way I can afford to fuel my runs with something that costs that much. 

The information out there is dizzying. And I haven't barely scratched the surface on what each one does and how everyone has the "science behind it." (Though the science behind the 35 year China Study on the effects of animal products on your diet are very influential and largely conclusive.) I also have to admit that I'm slightly disturbed by the amount of scientific studies that take into account...well, nothing. They focus on one thing and when they find the answer they publish it and make sweeping generalizations that make no sense at all. Slap some big-name school on it, and all of a sudden, you have a reliable source? 

How is anyone supposed to wade through all of this and pick out the few things that actually work? 

My conclusion after doing all this reading/research throughout the years: 

Think for ourselves and try it all and see what works for us. We're all different, what may be the "magic potion" that works for one person, might be another persons "nature call" during a race. Easy as that I guess.

This year of racing was not quite what I'd hoped for. And quite honestly, since Grindstone in 2011, I don't feel like I've had a race I felt good about. It's easy to say, "well, I've had a lot going on, and I'm still sorting things out." But at a certain point you just have to hold yourself accountable and say, "yep, I didn't put in the work. I just haven't done all I can to run strong for this race." Though, I think now that I've done some homework, I can start over and run like myself.  

Oh yea, and powerline trails rule. Ridgeline to ridgeline.

Friday, November 30, 2012

It may be finally be time to write again.

I think it might be a good idea to post more often than just every six months or so. This way, I won't have to recap all of life's events in order to keep everything straight.

I'd love to say that the months since my last post were spent in the mountains training hard and getting stronger, and that's why I haven't posted. July and August and September were spent trying to get my life in order in terms of gainful employment. There are several reasons that those three months were not ideal in terms of stress levels, training, or even financial stability. Stress was high because though I was working at the running store, and loving it, living in Fairfax and trying to pay off a lemon for a car and not living at home is tough at best. Training was rough because primarily because I didn't have gas money to get out to the mountains to properly train for the Ultra Race of Champions 100k (more on that in a bit). With several weeks spent studying for a potential job, taking tests, and online classes, I ended up literally running out of that building. Funny story but maybe not for a public post. At the end I landed a job working for a DoD contractor. There is plenty of that kind of work around the DC area, though, I am in an office.

So all this is leading to a very rough day at UROC. At the end of September the UROC 100k took place. I was lucky enough to land an elite spot so I was able to skirt the race entry fee. This was a huge plus, I wouldn't have been able to race otherwise. All the training I had done for the race had been in the last month or so before the race and had been on local trails that had minimal elevation gain, and were not super technical. I was able to get in two runs over 20 miles. I hadn't spent any time looking at the course, had no idea what I was in for, and was largely just running blind. I'm not entirely sure why I even started the race that day. I think a lot of it was due to just needing an outlet to blow a massive amount of steam and running 100 or so kilometers seemed like a pretty good way to do it.

The race started out with guys like King, Mackey, Canaday,  Clark, heaps of others in the elite category running steadily down the trail. The race started out with a pretty serious downhill and then with retracing your steps back up. Right away, on the down hill I could tell my quads were not going to agree with me that day. It was not exactly what I wanted to feel before the first aid station at mile 4 but hey, what can you expect with no training?

The day was great for running - weather wise. Cool, misty, perfect. The course was scenic, but I have to admit, not looking at the course description and seeing that it was a little over half on road hurt my mental race. The details are gruesome at best, and I tried to hang on to a decent pace as best I could. But with 9 miles to go I sat down, felt my eyes doing all sorts of weird tricks. The rest of the miles were all on pavement and that appealed to me about as much as having open heart surgery while being awake. After a couple minutes, I decided to keep going mainly for the sake of finishing what I started. I rolled into the finish line in 16th in a time of 10:37:25. Not thrilled but hey, there will always be another race.

For the future, I've got Hellgate 100k. Next weekend actually. I've looked at the course and I think I know what to expect. I have been able to get out to the mountains for a good couple of long runs and I'm feeling a whole lot better about this one than I did about UROC. Brian will be pacing me starting at mile 42 or 46...they are the same aid station during the race but I'm not sure anyone ACTUALLY knows how long this race is...  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Good things

Recently, things have been going very well. Last week Katie and I got engaged. This is what I'm most excited about but being a running blog, I figured I'd announce that and move on to running aspects of the recent good times.

I was invited to compete in the elite field for the Ultra Run of Champions or UROC in September. It's 100 kilometers of hard racing and some of the best ultra runners in the country will be there. This is both exciting, and scary for me. But, I'll take it, and train hard and see what happens come September 29th. The race in itself is about 50% road 50% trail but all takes place in the mountains. So my training will be a healthy dose of trail and road running leading up to the race.

With the race set and signed up for, I've added some longer training runs into my normal daily mileage. In the later part of last week Brian and myself went down to run the Priest and Three Ridges. This trail is one that I especially love and it is a tough technical run. We headed down on Thursday and planned to run it Thursday camp that night and run it again on Friday. Thursday went as planned though Brian twisted his ankle on the way down the Priest and suffered through the Three Ridges loop.

..Somehow we both ended up with red hats. I had mine first. Brian's in the yellow shorts.

Yesterday was also the Catherine's Fatass 50k race. I had never done it before and heard it was good. Being a fatass, it was free and provided no race swag. Just a course with minimal-to-no markings whatsoever, and friends to run with. Just the way I like it. It's been over 100 degrees all week plus monsterous humidity and I figured yesterday would be no exception. ....It was a huge exception! It rained all day Friday, all night and Saturday morning and the temperature dropped drastically. At the start, I was actually cold! Once we started moving though that all changed. I think it only topped out at 70 MAYBE 75 all day and misted us as we ran with a light rain. It was perfect running weather.

As we started down the trail 4 of us split off the front and remained together most of the day. Keith, myself, Drew and another Patrick ran the first section comfortably, through the first 20 miles or so. I think we all hung together because Keith was the only one who knew for sure all the turns to make. On the yellow trail the rocks were so slick it was like trying to navigate icy rocks. I gashed my knee pretty good and hurt way more than I thought it should have.

As we made our way to the second to last aid station just before the purple trail and the largest climb of the race another guy, Dana caught up to us. The five of us made our way down the gravel road and made the sharp left onto the purple trail where it promptly turned upward. Keith, Patrick and Dana wanted to hike some of it and Drew and I wanted to run. We ran a good chunk of it but then lost Drew as the climb became steeper.

Coming into the last aid station I knew I only had 5 more miles and most of them were either flat or downhill so I picked it up a little bit and cruised into the finish line in 4:47 and change and first place. I'm not sure it actually counts as a win since it's a fatass race but it was fun to run with friends all day. Plus! The party at the finish ruled! They had some killer home made veggie burgers.

Good friends, good run, good food, good day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The only thing better is Chipotle

Chipotle rules. And if you get it in a bowl without cheese, sour cream, or meat but include the guac, you don't feel like you ate a barnyard animal all at once and it still tastes amazing. Lately I've been experimenting a bit with nutrition. And while even eating an all veggie Chipotle might not be the healthiest thing on the planet, I'm trying here. I've been playing with some new recipes that are based solely on plants. I've always liked favorite food is broccoli for crying out loud, but recently I've started toning back my meat intake and I have to say I'm pleased overall. I'm not full on vegetarian, or pescatarian, or vegan. But I also can't say that I don't like those foods. Eating less meat and less dairy definitely makes me feel better and I also feel like I've had some better runs lately. Aside from not having nearly as many stomach aches, as I am very prone to, I've found myself ready for more mileage sooner. The biggest problem I face is the convenience factor. I have to cook more, and when I'm out and about..or decide to do a last minute race as I did on Saturday night, it's not easy to get food that is both cheap and unprocessed. 

I guess nothing worth doing is ever very easy....even if it is very cliche. 

Short story: Saturday I worked at Potomac River Running, where I normally work. My friends Alex, Alex and Scott of Athletic Equation were putting on a race in Prince William National Forest. It was a 50 mile race called the OSS/CIA 50 Mile Night Run. It started at 7:30 and I was going to go down to volunteer with the setup and see if someone didn't show up so I could take their number, pay the last minute entry fee and run the race. Lucky for me, a couple people didn't show up and I got to run the race. 

It wasn't long before it got dark and the trail was surprisingly technical. My time was rather disappointing but finished first despite being very sleepy. After I finished, I waited around at the finish line for other finishers, ate some and then made my way back up to Fairfax in time for work on Sunday. During work I went and got Chipotle...then Brian, my manager, went to Chipotle and brought me some more. Chipotle twice in one day. I can't say I didn't welcome it. 

I was happy with a win, but I'm sure Timothy Olson and Ellie Greenwood were more happy with their course records at Western States on Saturday. Both of them set course records. Unreal, and congrats to both of them. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Surprise mountain day

Living in suburbia, at least an hour away from a decent mountain trail, can have it's upsides. There's always a Starbucks within walking distance, Target is never more than a five minute drive away; and people tend to drive like they're so important, I should stop trying to cross the street because I'm inconveniencing them by not letting them turn right on red as soon as they get to the intersection. And as much as I love $4 cups of burnt coffee, I realized last week that I needed to get as far away from DC and the surrounding area as I could, go for a decent run, and be back before my shift at 4. So I did. Front Royal was as far as I could go and still have time for a run.

The Dickey Ridge trail is a fun one. The way out is about 90% uphill and the way back is about 90% downhill. I started out just enjoying the great weather, the warm sun mixed with the unseasonably cool air and just being away from everything.  Soon after starting I realized that I was going much harder than I usually would on a trail that is uphill the first half. I ran hard the whole way up. I wanted to find the point where I would crash. I wasn't positive if it would be a mental crash, a subtle crash where I would just sort of slow down, or if I could just hammer out of control for almost 3 hours. I hit the turn around in record time for me and felt good. I didn't think I had pushed hard enough.

(In the picture the downward sloping ridge point that is touching just below my right shoulder is the start: Front Royal.)

I turned around and flew. I ran faster and harder than I had in a long time. It felt fake. I ran hard, yet totally calm. On the two climbs on the way back I found strength I hadn't used before. The odd thing was, I was clocking around 5 minute miles on the way down the mountain. My mind seemed to put my legs at ease and I was running with the mountain rather than pounding down it. I felt at ease. Total peace. Not something I can find in Fairfax on a regular basis. I finished faster than I ever had before.

The following Monday I made the trek down to the Priest and Three Ridges Wilderness. I used to run in this area while I was training for the cross country run because it was closer to VCU. I missed the familiar run so I thought it would be worth the drive. Even though by the time I got there I wouldn't have time to run the whole thing, I was very happy I made the trip. I decided running just the Priest would be worth my drive.

On the ascent, I ran and felt strong. I focused my breathing and calmed my heart. Higher and higher I climbed. The mountain was so quiet. I passed the occasional AT through-hiker but they all seemed to be in the same meditative state I was. The clouds overhead gave the illusion that it was much later at night than it was. I reached the vista point but had no view due to the fog and storm clouds. On I ran. Thunder rolled overhead and I hoped that I made it to the top before the rain started. I didn't mind the rain so much but the humidity made the rocks slippery as is. I reached the switchbacks and wondered if I should walk. I kept running. Toward the top, the trail turns very rocky, and it made more sense to hike it. About 2 minutes before touching the fire pit on the right of the trail that signifies the summit it began to pour rain. I reached the top in 58:30. Not a record by any means, but much faster than I had done a couple years ago. Turning around I decided to run fast. I wanted to see how fast I could run considering the downpour and thunder.

I slipped, and tripped, and careened my way down the side to the Priest, picking my way around the slick rocks. This is what I came for. The Priest was making it worth my drive, worth the gas money. The Priest was killing me, and I was loving it. Soaked to the bone and feeling like I was dodging lightning, I made it back to the parking lot in 29:01. Also, not a record by any means but who needs records when you have a renewed and refreshed mind?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Run for Sanity

Racing is always a fun event. All too often though, we're too excited about a certain race or worried about a time split to enjoy a run. And if for whatever reason, that day doesn't agree with your stomach, or you come down with a cold, you're just out of luck. Unfortunately, I don't have any races in the near future. And actually, I don't have any races in the far future that I'm signed up for at the moment. Though, I think I'm going to take some time, and just run to enjoy being in the mountains and pushing myself simply because it's what makes me happy. I think if I shifted money that I usually spend on races to just drive out to the mountains to run, I'd be able to trade 10 trips out to the mountains for a race or two.

I understand the breakdown of costs associated with mountain ultras (especially the logistical nightmares 100 milers are). And for the most part, after you look at the costs associated with the race and how much they end up being, the per-mile-cost is 99% of the time better for a 100 miler than it is with a 5k or marathon. That being said, they still cost a hand full of coins.

...Maybe I'll do some longer runs solo this summer, or just suck it up and shell out some clams for a race.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Promise Land 50k and my FIRST 10K!!!

Due to sheer lack of time, my keeping up with this blog has definitely taken a back seat. Since Boston, I've run two races. The first, two weeks after Boston, was Promise Land 50k. The PL course is one of my favorites. Absolutely beautiful! Constantly either running up mountains or running down mountains, the course stays interesting. 

When Dr. Horton started us at 5 am I realized my car light was still on so I had to stop before we really got going. I thought about just leaving it on but then thought about the complete drag it would be finding someone to jump my car and dealing with that whole mess so I stopped to turn out the light. The first 3 miles or so to the first aid station is all up hill. Because of this, catching up to the front was out of the question. Besides, this year, the competition was stacked! There were some crazy fast guys out there this year but even still, I felt that there were a lot of people tearing out of the start line hammering early. I decided soon after leaving my car that this year I would just relax and enjoy the course. I climbed to the first aid station and gradually settled into a manageable chilled out pace. Soon after going through the first aid station I caught up to my friend Darrel and we settled in for a good day of running. Both of us were surprised at how fast everyone was running today but then again, the weather was absolutely beautiful even though I remained slightly chilly for the entire race. 

We ran the first half together somewhat expecting to start passing people around the 1 hour mark because of the pace the front took so early, but we didn't. We felt we were running a pretty strong pace but very manageable. Curious about how we were doing we asked the 3rd aid station what place we were in. 17th and 18th. Astonished we continued on. I couldn't believe how many people were in front of us. We weren't running fast fast but we weren't moving slow either. From there to around the halfway mark we were passed by a couple of people and coming into the 16th mile aid station we were 19th and 20th. We cruised through and after running the short road section we turned on to the trail and I decided I didn't want to be 20th, or 19th. I felt good, so I continued on a little faster. The second half of the race was beautiful. I gradually started to catch people and was thankful that I hadn't taken off with the front of the race. And besides, I looked forward to Apple Orchard Falls as opposed to dreading it. I caught enough people to be in 12th place at the bottom of the climb. I was 2 minutes behind 11th place and 12 minutes behind 10th. It's a pretty brutal steep climb for several miles. You climb next to a waterfall almost the entire way and it's very technical. Then there's a ton of stairs, and then you just keep climbing. As long as you're in the mindset of, "this just won't end, so I'm not going to expect it to any time this decade" you get through it. I just love it. I caught 11th place within the first mile of the climb and was loving the scenery. The water was frigid and the waterfall was roaring because of the recent rain. 

I continued to climb and was very thankful that I was able to take part in an event like this. It really was very pleasant. I got to the very top of the climb and found out I was 2 minutes behind the 10th place now it was on (as 'they' say). I hammered through the next (very) short grassy climb and with a right hand turn down the trail realized it was literally all downhill from here. With plus or minus 4(ish) miles to go I ran hard. I ran straight through the last aid station and I saw him up ahead of me. The dude in the green shirt was 10th place, so I ran harder. I hammered the steep gravel road and suddenly realized that I'd been running pretty hard for awhile now. I expected to find the guy on the big climb so I ran a lot of that this year and last year I hiked the whole thing. 

My calves seized up. Which, really is a strange feeling. Then both quads started twitching on their own. I ate two gels in a row and it did the trick within a minute or two. I was running what I'd imagine were about 5:45 minute miles down this mountain chasing the guy. But then again, he was running hard too. I caught him with about a mile and a half to go. From the looks of him, I was fairly confident he wouldn't be rallying a sudden burst of speed so I slowed down a little bit after passing him. Though, just for fun I thought I'd time the last mile since there is a spray painted "1 mile to go" marker on the street. The last mile was in 5:58. I finished the race in 5:06:40ish. It was faster than last year by around 5 minutes but my place went from 8th to 10th. Eric Grossman set a new course record in 4:27 which is just amazing for that course. I mean really impressive. 

Though, the most impressive feat(s) of the day to me were how many people didn't drop out of the race once the rain started about 35 minutes after I finished. Very cold rain, sleet, hail, thunder, lightning, and basically everything except snow pounded on the remaining runners. They battled the obvious elements as well as hypothermia. My hat is off to them. 

A week later I ran my first 10k. The Carytown 10k in Richmond. My friend is the race director so I went down to run it. That's a tough distance to race because it seems like you just run as hard as you can for 6.2 miles. But then again, what do I know about road races? 9th place 37:42...ish. 

...maybe I should start keeping track of my exact times for these things...or maybe not. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Boston to remember

I ran the Boston Marathon on Monday. Seems like a simple enough statement. One that might not need a back-story. But then again, all races have a story to them. Actually, all runs have a story to them. Races just seem to have more of a story because we put more pressure on those runs to perform well. Boston was no different.

I trained for this race. Again, seems like a simple statement that would seem pretty obvious because it's referring to a marathon. But I don't normally train for marathons. I just run when I feel like it, as fast as I feel like running, and try to fit it into a schedule with two jobs. For whatever reason, sometimes the planets align and I run hard and feel good during a race. This time though, I really wanted to break three hours. It was a very doable goal considering my time from last year: 3:00:37. It was a PR by over 10 minutes but having the nagging 37 seconds made the PR bittersweet.

I had specific training runs that were done on certain days to make sure that I was ready to run fast and once again gain a new personal best. Hopefully one that started with a two...

As the race neared I was sure I was ready. All my training was done at a pace well exceeding the 2:59:59 pace and I was thinking I might be able to pull an even better time than just squeaking by under the clock.

Then race day came. I woke up to temperatures around 73. Last year at the same time, the temperatures hovered in the 40s. We had gotten emails the day before warning of record temperatures and the race officials even allowed us to defer until next year if we wanted. I knew it'd be toasty but still didn't think as much of it as I probably should have. Just standing in the waiting area waiting for the race to start I had already begun sweating just wearing a tank and shorts. By the time the race started at 10 am I was already pouring small streams of water on myself to keep cool. I'm not sure what the official temperature was at the start but I'd guess around 80.

I decided rather than gunning all the way, I'd just relax and roll for the first half. I didn't want to do anything stupid, so I didn't push. Not even a little bit. I sipped water, sipped gatorade, took my Enduralytes on schedule, and without even trying was staying right around the pace I needed to. People around me were looking rough. Normally, I don't see people walking before the halfway mark, but Monday, they started walking at 10k. I guess somebody passed out a bit behind me and the person directly behind me started yelling, "Medic!" We all passed the word up the field until we saw the golf cart ambulance rushing past us.

The half mark came perfectly timed at 1:29:58. And I was still feeling relaxed and not like I was pushing it even a little bit. But the morale around me spiraled downward. People were complaining like crazy about the heat.

After 15 miles I was still around my target time but started to feel a little tired prematurely and my legs felt surprisingly heavy. I ate another gel and went back to feeling fine, though, the effects didn't last long. After 19 miles or somewhere around there, it was pretty obvious the heat was taking its toll on me, and I slowed dramatically. I did my best to keep running, and to keep my nutrition under control but after another couple miles it was pretty clear this was not the day I would break 3 hours. I crossed the finish line cramping and tired in 3:14:20. Pretty far off from what I wanted to do. Oh well, the rest of the Boston trip with Katie was awesome.

Some numbers on the day:
It was the hottest Boston ever
The winning time was 2:12 and change, 10 minutes off last year's 2:03
4,000 dropped out before the race started
Another 500 or so deferred until next year
About 1,000 dropped out during the race
Roughly a tenth of the field ended up in the emergency tent
150 or so went to the hospital by ambulance
3 were still in critical care as of yesterday
And one had to be revived.

...I think I'll take the missed PR

Friday, March 2, 2012

Quick post run afterthought

There are a lot of times when I'm really tired, or the weather is terrible, or I'm just not feeling a run at the moment; not because of injury, just unmotivated. And I'd say about 99% of the time I force myself to go outside, tell myself to quit being a baby and just start running. And out of all the times I've forced myself to run unwillingly, I have never once come back from a less-than-ideal run and thought, "I feel worse than when I started."

I always feel better after a run.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I've never valued time to run before. I mean, I've always enjoyed running, but TIME to run has never been a "serious" problem before now. When I was in school, I had time before class, between classes, after class, between work. It was just a matter of squeezing it in whenever I could. And as long as I didn't waste a lot of time between things I didn't really have a problem with it.

Then there was that whole skip across the country thing. All I had was time. Four straight months of nothing to do but run. Oh to have that luxury again. I've picked up a second job at Potomac River Running, the running store pretty close to my house. It rules, and I like that I now have people I can actively engage in super nerdy running conversations with, but it's added some kind of craziness to my schedule. The only time I can feasibly get a run in is before my tree climbing 4 am. Now I know how some of my running friends who have recently had babies feel; micromanaging time down to the microsecond.

It's a good lesson to learn, but I thought I'd have quite a few years before had to be more responsible with my time.

In other news, the book is doing well, and people are liking it! Even better, the people that say they like it, done have a last name that starts with 'Mc' and ends in 'Glade.'

If you haven't picked it up yet, don't be afraid, it'll be entertaining at the very least.'Six Miles Per Hour McGlade'

Check it out and tell a friend or two.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I don't normally post too much about gear (other than socks). But I've had two finds recently that were surprising to me, so I'm going to write about it.

I'll go with the oldest first. And when I say oldest I mean OLDEST.

I received my first pair of running split shorts for my birthday. My 19th birthday. They were fairly standard and made by Asics. I liked them immediately and wore them for almost every run leading up to my first marathon. I ran the race in them...and two other marathons. And a 24 hour race. I wore them for about 90 percent of the trans US run. I didn't even notice them wearing out. I just kept wearing them. I continued to wear them for countless runs between the end of the long run up until last Sunday.

After being shredded by so many miles I've decided to retire them since they now rub my legs somewhat uncomfortably. But thank you Asics for making a short that lasts this long.

On to the NEW discovery. The NTS mid weight hoody by Smartwool. This piece of clothing is the most versatile thing I've ever worn. It's great for a run in the mountains when you have no idea what the weather will be like. I received it a couple months ago but didn't discover what it could do until recently.

If you want to wear it just as a long sleeve it works well for that. Getting warm? Roll up the sleeves and unzip it a little bit. BAM! Wicks sweat away and keeps you comfortable. Getting chilly ears? Hood it! The hood is scuba style, so while it does look like its from the future, it does stay up very well. Hands getting a bit cold? Pull down the sleeves, hook your thumbs into the sleeves and curl your hands. I was blow away by all this stuff even though it looks like a standard base layer. Wild stuff.

In other news, the book seems to be taking off which is a very good thing. People who bought it right away are just finishing it and so now I'm getting the first round of reviews from people. So far, everyone likes it. : ) If you haven't heard yet, I wrote a book, it's called Six Miles Per Hour and it's on Amazon. Check it out and tell everyone you know!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Holiday Lake 50k

The Holiday Lake 50k is like no race I've ever run. It's a trail race and I've done those. It's a David Horton race, I've done those as well. It's listed as a 50k but is actually about 33.5 miles, I've even run races that are listed as one distance and end up being a little long. I have no problem with any of these things. My problem is with road marathons. And that is how this race is run.

The trails are mostly flat, and the course is fast. This fact meant I had no opportunities to take any walking breaks except while I was choking on a Gu on my way up a small steep incline. Even though normally I have huge problems during races that are run faster, today wasn't one of them. I felt good and had very few issues.

The start of the race, as with all Horton races, started with the National Anthem and a prayer. I have to admit, we sang the worst sounding Anthem I've ever heard. We must have changed the key 15 times in the 3 minute song. It sort of just turned into a monotone reciting rather than an actual "song," as the word might be defined. Yet, as this group of 300 or so non-singing runners stood in the wee hours of the morning, everyone did our best to sing the National Anthem. And I have to hope that counted for something. No one was "too cool" to give it a shot. I liked that.

Anyway, the race consists of a loop around Holiday Lake and when you get all the way around the lake, you turn around and do it backwards. Not literally running backwards, you retrace your steps. Thought I'd clarify.

The first loop went well enough and I finished it in 8th place, in 1:56 ish for maybe 16ish miles.

See, in a Horton race theres a lot of "ish" moments. The miles are never exact. ISH miles. If you ask him about a section and he says it's flat, just assume it's rolling hills. Flat-ISH. If a climb is listed as being a big climb, it means it's hell-ISH. And there's always lot of food so there are always dISHes. Last one. It was Holiday Lake, so there were probably fISH in there. Okay I'm done.

Regardless of how many actual miles the loop is, the way back was fairly uneventful. I traded places with a few people, some people passed me, and I passed some others. At the end of the race I PRed by 1 hour and 12 minutes, finished in 6th place and in 3:59....ISH.

-- Patrick

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Finally done.

So stoked. When I got back from the run across the US in April of 2010 (man that was a long time ago) I started writing down accounts of my trip. I had this blog, that more people followed than I was aware of; but I also had a personal journal I had written in as well as a ton of memories. I wrote them down mainly for myself. When I'm a dinosaur someday, around my 115th birthday, I wanted to remember everything that happened and everything I went through. But most importantly, I wanted to write it so I could remember all the people that helped me cross the country on foot.

After I finished it, it was very rough but when I got to the end I realized that it was more of a story of good people rather than another "running book." After letting a few people read the super rough edition, I recruited the help of several other people to help me edit it and publish it. Here it is, the done copy, ready to be read.

-- Patrick
So stoked. When I got back from the run across the US in April of 2010 (man that was a long time ago) I started writing down accounts of my trip. I had this blog, that more people followed than I was aware of; but I also had a personal journal I had written in as well as a ton of memories. I wrote them down mainly for myself. When I'm a dinosaur someday, around my 115th birthday, I wanted to remember everything that happened and everything I went through. But most importantly, I wanted to write it so I could remember all the people that helped me cross the country on foot.

After I finished it, it was very rough but when I got to the end I realized that it was more of a story of good people rather than another "running book." After letting a few people read the super rough edition, I recruited the help of several other people to help me edit it and publish it. Here it is, the done copy, ready to be read.

-- Patrick

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Great new running game

This game is not for those who are absolutely opposed to having a possible smashed face.

This game is for those who like an exciting new way to get some good speed work over the course of a 6-10 mile run....and possibly a smashed face.

These are the steps to the game:

A) Figure out what trail you'll be using.

B) Figure out how many miles you'll want to cover.

C) As undesirable as this part may sound; do some math to find out how long you'll need to cover the distance before it gets dark.
Make sure you do the math wrong. Whatever your second grade teacher taught you about addition and subtraction, yep, just throw it out the window.

D) Now here's the fun part: Leave for your run waaaay too late, don't bring a headlamp and race the sun. Try not to stub your toes, trip, fall, break any bones, get impaled on a tree branch, scrape a knee, elbow, hand, wrist, face, or anything not mentioned. If you do happen to trip, which you will, just pretend you're in the Matrix and don't let yourself fall. And if you must fall, do so gracefully, or at least not around anyone. It's just embarrassing.

*note - eating carrots while running WILL NOT help you. In fact, the only thing that will help you is partying til you puke, I mean running til you puke.

There are various ways to play this game, McGlade Meander of Madness, that what I just named it, just now. It works solo best, but play it with a friend too!

If you have no trail at your disposal, don't fret. You CAN play it on the road following the same rules except you must wear all black and follow the mindset from Dodgeball: "if you can dodge a car, you can dodge a ball." Dodging cars is more dangerous than not tripping over rocks and roots but if you must have a road alternative, I suggest just not playing this game at all.

- Don't play this game. It's a bad idea. Trust me. I learned my lesson...even though it was kind of fun.

-- Patrick

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Utah: To run or not to....never mind.

The past couple of days I have had the extreme pleasure of being in Utah for Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. It's kind of like a giant multi day race expo except where instead of racers, retailers are the ones scoping the latest and greatest gear. I was brought out with SmartWool because they were launching the socks that I tested while running across the US.

I arrived late on Wednesday after a long day of work and a longer flight but awoke early on Thursday to do some early morning sight seeing via my running shoes. I didn't know where I was going so I just stuck to the roads of the city but as the sun came up was greeted with a very nice sight.

It's blurry because it was raining a little bit.

On that same run, I passed the University of Utah and the Olympic torch from the 2002 winter games.

It's just behind the pic of the guy doing skeleton. I got that pic because my brother is on the Olympic Skeleton team and trains in Lake Placid.

I've just realized this is going to be a very long post....

So, there needs to be a little back story as a preface for my next event.

Recently, I submitted my book, Six Miles Per Hour, to the publisher. This is pretty exciting for me. In the book, there is a part where I was hunkered down in my tent and sleeping bag after a hard day's rockin freezing my buns off and reading a book. I mentioned the book I was reading, The Boy Who Climbed Everest, in my own book. The Boy Who Climbed Everest is by Bear Grylls. You know? Man vs. Wild. So last week, I was kind of freaking out because the thought crossed my mind...what if Mr. Bear didn't want to be mentioned and he decided to sue me?? He'd wouldn't get very much but it might take selling some of my stuff to pay him all the suing money because I didn't get his permission! I might have to sell my running shoes, or my banjo!! Hence, freaking out.

I decided the best thing to do would be to try to hunt down his email address and ask him. This is harder than it sounds, but I did find his publicists email which I though might be the next best thing. I wrote her an email but, to no surprise, never heard back. Maybe it's because I forgot to put "B1G M0N3Y" in the subject line.

Fast forward to Thursday. I was walking down the aisle of the expo and I see a long line so I get behind the last person and then as the person in front of me what we were lined up for. "Bear Grylls is signing autographs."

No freakin way!

So I waited my turn in the line and got up to him and told him I had a question to ask him. I explained my little predicament and asked him if it would be alright if I mentioned him in the book.

"I'd be honored. That's quite an achievement."

Got my pic with him, thanked him, and was on my way.

By the way, that dude chugs coffee just like I do!

At the expo, they also had dogs in backpacks.

And not in backpacks. They were still cute.

This guy came up to my belly button.

I also met Scott Jurek. He's also coming out with a book. If you don't know of him, Google him. He has too many accomplishments to list here.

Thursday night was SmartWool's release party. The coolest part was the bar. It was made of ice and, yes, those are actual socks frozen into the ice.

The PhD is also carved. Not written.

At the party I was introduced to Joe Ballant. He's a fellow SmartWool Ambassador and a pretty cool guy.

Friday morning brought an early morning up Canyon Rd with Mark. I was glad he knew the area because that run was a lot more scenic in terms of mountains than that of the previous day.

I don't ever eat fast food but they had a Carl's Jr. And I make an exception for that and In-and-Out burger.

I went with a lettuce wrapped burger to give it a try. It got sloppy.

This is the aftermath.

Friday evening I met up with Joe. We ended up going to his band's practice space for a little bit on Friday night to jam.

Giant Mormon temple.

This was a cool looking art exhibit in the middle of the city. It's a bunch of sticks in the ground at different angles but it looks cooler in person.

Saturday morning I went out for one last run before I left for my flight. On Friday's run with mark we were surrounded by mountains (being in a canyon and all) and I saw all these trail heads but we stuck to the roads. Saturday I did a little more exploring.

I left my room at 6:58 while it was still dark. I ran through the city streets lit by store fronts and street lights. It was very quite and unseasonably warm at about 48 degrees. I ran comfortably uphill the whole way to the first trail head I saw. Stepping onto a trail I've never run is always exciting. It was uphill as I had hoped and climbed steadily toward one of the many peaks I could see. It was light enough to see, but not light enough to call it sunrise by any stretch. The trail continued getting steeper and steeper and the switchbacks began. I was ver surprised at how dry the trail was because of all the rain I'd seen in the past two days.

Sure enough, the trail got more muddy as I climbed higher. It was more than likely because of the melted snow, but the mud was incredibly slick, deep, yet sucked at my shoes like a tar pit. Higher and higher I climbed. I remembered Mark's advice,

"I don't advise running alone because of all the mountain lions."

It was a little late, but I probably should've let someone know where I'd be. As I climbed higher, I viewed more peaks in the distance. Snow capped, jagged beauties. Still, I kept running up. I reached a very loose rocky section that was the steepest yet and the wind whipped me from my left. I reached the summit of that small peak and saw another neighboring one that was even higher.

So I ran on.

Higher and higher and higher and higher. I couldn't get enough of the view even as I was still climbing. As I approached the summit, giants revealed themselves in front of me. In front, the beautiful Wasatch mountains. Behind me just to the right, the city lights of Salt Lake City spread out like a blanket. And to the right of that, the Great Salt Lake itself. If I had to leave that spot in the next year it would be too soon. Unfortunately, my body temperature disagreed since it was quite a bit colder that when I started.

So I turned around and ran back.

Utah kind of rules.

-- Patrick

Monday, January 16, 2012

Believers or not (a shameless plug)

So, if you've talked to me in the past 3 years about running or what I run in, Smartwool has come up in the conversation. I am a shameless addict, and now formally a "Smartwool Ambassador." They were one of two companies to respond to letters I wrote to companies when looking for sponsors for the cross country run, and signed me up as a tester immediately. I wrote to them initially because I love their socks. Katie got me my first pair as a Christmas gift several years ago, and they went right to my "must wear" list. True story, I actually have a "must wear" list.

I've had many experiences with Smartwool socks over my short running "career" if you want to call it that. Once, I didn't wash them so many days in a row they stood up on their own. Seriously gross to think about. Most of these experiences I totally forgot I was wearing the socks...but then again isn't that the goal of good sporting apparel? If you're thinking about what you're wearing, it's probably because a tag is stabbing the back of your neck like a colonial barber, or your shorts have somehow turned from soft nylon to sandpaper between your legs. Or, your shirt has somehow started shaving layers of skin from your nipples.

Or even the annoying bunching of socks around the toes, or maybe they don't stay up, or maybe they don't keep your feet dry...these are totally serious problems; that were solved by Smartwool.

My family, though very supportive of all my running, thought I was all hype about backing these socks to the point of sounding like a sock nerd. They thought this, until I bought my sister a couple pairs for Christmas this year. Now, she gets it.

My dad? Same story, except with skiing socks because he is a member of the Massanutten ski patrol.

Katie was having some trouble thinking of a Christmas gift for her mom. I knew she ran, so I suggested a pair or two. Two is all you really need since you don't have to wash them very often. Of course, she loved them.

This plug is almost over, don't worry.

They won't turn you into Geoff Roes, or Usain Bolt. (If you don't know who those people are, Google them. You'll wish you hadn't. Because normal people will never be that good.) But! They will keep you comfy for as many miles as you wish to run.

They fit perfectly in all the right places...if only they made running shorts...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Could've sworn I posted one recently...

It seems that my phone has deleted my most recent post without me knowing. Oh well...

Hellgate was bad. I've learned a lot from being injured. The first thing is that time off isn't always bad. I learned to stretch properly...something I've never been too good at or too keen on. And I also learned that training for ultras is highly advised. The Hellgate 100k taught me the last one. After 34 miles, I had had enough. I started the race severely out of shape for running a 100k, or even a 50k for that matter. Though I dropped out, I didn't think of it as a failure. It was far from that. I learned about what this sport truly asks of your body as well as your mind. I had started running about 2 weeks prior to the race with no pain, and that was not nearly enough to get me through the race. Plus, I wasn't having any fun!

Onward. Since the race, I've gotten back to running for fun. The rest of December was about running for fun. I already knew I was out of shape so I stopped being frustrated about where I was fitness-wise and just enjoyed being outside and running again without injury. January, so far, has been about ramping up mileage and getting back to the mountains. I've had several solid runs in the 3-6 hour range and while I am a bit sore afterward, I know that will go away the more I do it. I am enjoying being up and moving quickly on the trail again.

In other news, I was sent a pair of Hoka One One shoes to try out.
At first glance, they look like platform shoes from the 70's. Really really strange looking. Running in them took me a little bit to get used to, but they're starting to grow on me. They have this whole 'rocker' thing going on with the outsole that sort of propels your foot motion forward soon after foot strike. They also only have a 4 mm drop between the heel and toe, which I'm a huge fan of. I haven't been in them that long so I can't go too in depth with how I feel about them, but initial impressions are good.

Hopefully, I'll be posting more regularly.....?