Sunday, February 28, 2016

A few new favorites and a busy weekend behind me!

After a long week with less than desirable weather for both running and holding practice, we took the Meredith Track team out on Friday night for some fun bonding time at the local bowling alley!

I was also excited for the weekend as I had some new things to test out. Saturday morning I taught boot camp at 8am and spin class at 9am. Right after that, I met up with my friend Mika, who I had not ran with in forever, for a nice 7 mile run. My friends at Generation UCAN had sent me some samples of their new flavor, Cocoa Delite, and I mixed some up and drank it on the drive over to meet Mika for the run.
Another great flavor! I really like the taste of the Cocoa. You can check them out at

After our 7 miler, I had to stop by Meredith and catch up on a bit of paperwork. As luck would have it, the fitness center was open so I got a quick lifting session in before leaving!

I had gotten home late Friday, but was happy to see that my box of Tasc performance wear had arrived and was sitting on the front porch for me!

I love their gear!!

Their fabric is a mix of bamboo and organic cotton and is really comfortable and odor resistant!

Sunday morning I did my usual thing of getting up early, making coffee and sending out weekly training schedules to my runners. If you like strong coffee, and I mean STRONG coffee, check out Death Wish Coffee. They are from a small town in upstate New York called Round Lake, where my sister lives!

I had a group run at noon with the Jimmy V Foundation's Team V and I was eager to run since the weather was going to be beautiful! I was also eager to test out my new Brooks Launch 2's that I had purchased from Omega Sports on Saturday. I was in dire need of new road shoes. I had been running in Mizuno Wave Rider 17 and 18's, but they had quite a few miles on them. I had ran in Brooks before, so it was nice to check them out again!

I ran a little over four miles in them. They are super light and very responsive! Can't wait to get more miles in with them.

Some of My Team V peeps!

After the group run I sped off to the gym to teach 2pm spin class. I had a good crowd and they worked hard. 3 new people in class too!

A man and his spin bike.....

Another busy week coming up as we prepare The Meredith College Track team for their first outdoor meet of the season on Saturday March 5th at Berry College in Rome, Georgia!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Fitting it all in and Focusing on the Tasc at Hand!

Being a coach, fitness instructor AND trying to keep up with my own training can be a challenge at times. Careful planning and preparation can mean the difference between getting a workout in and easily rationalizing to yourself that you are “too busy”. Laying out my gear the night before and always keeping a complete set of Tasc workout gear always ensures that I have no excuse to not get that run in!

Getting the week of to a good start always puts me in a good mood and gets me motivated for the week. Here is my typical Monday schedule:
6am: Run with my client, who is training for a full Ironman.
7am: Strength Training with a group of my runners.
9:30am: Teach Boot Camp class.
11:30am: Arrive at Meredith College to begin track practices .
12pm: Training with our Shot Put athlete.
1pm: Coach and I get our lifting in!
2pm: Practice with Sprinters.
3pm: Practice with Mid distance and distance athletes.
5pm: Leave Meredith, get home at 6pm, eat dinner and prep for Tuesday, which starts with a client run at 7am!

I try to run with my clients as often as possible, which is a great way to fit my workout in! I will also join my distance runners on the track team if they are going out on a recovery run that day. Many times I am going from one client to another or heading right to practice after a lifting session on campus, so having my comfortable, odor free Tasc Performance gear with me is a huge advantage!
Coaching life can be hectic at times, but I would not trade it for the world! Be prepared, stay motivated and get that run or workout in!

Track Team selfie!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Away We Go

So I wound up with 2,138 miles for 2015, my highest yearly mileage total to date. I notched another 100 miler in my belt, completing the Massanutten 100 in May. I PR'd in both the 5K and the half. I am very happy with the way the running year worked out.

I was also blessed to have success in my coaching career as well. I August of 2015, I was hired as assistant cross country coach at Meredith College in Raleigh. The team won it's third consecutive USA South Conference Championship in Greensboro, NC at the end of October!

My 813 Coaching athletes were also busy in 2015. I had Theresa qualify for Boston, Meghan PR for the half and I brought Ted over to the Ultra dark side with the completion of his first 50K and 50 miler!

I got 2016 off to a good start with the running of my "Cotton Mouth" 5K this morning. It was the second year of holding this fun run and we had a blast!

January 11th starts track season at Meredith, where I will be coaching middle distance and distance runners. I am also working as a coach with the Jimmy V Foundation, to help train runners for the Rock n Roll Marathon in April here in Raleigh, NC and raise funds for cancer research.

As for races, I have a 50K in Wilmington, NC at the end of January, the Uwharrie Mountain 20 miler on Feb 6th and I head back to Wilmington on Feb 21st for a half marathon.

Looking to more fun adventures in 2016! (Maybe another 100 miler too!)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Race 13.1 Race Report

It had been a while since I "Raced" a half marathon. 2011 to be exact. The 2011 Tobacco Road Half Marathon was my official return to running after a lengthy hiatus and a 3 year infatuation with road cycling. I ran that half marathon in March of 2011, then jumped right into trail and ultra running after that.

So,out of the blue I signed up for the Race 13.1 in Durham. Never known for my strong scheduling abilities, this race came a week after the Epic 24 hour run in which I ran 52.7 miles over 17 hours. Not exactly a taper. Then throw a 12 mile training run with a client in on Wednesday before the half, and you have a recipe for struggle.

These thoughts swirled through my head as I stood with my friend Dene and the 2 hour pace group at the start. My large goal was to run sub 2 hours. My back up goal was to PR, besting my time of 2:05 back in 2011.I really had no idea how this race would go for me. It could either be a huge sucess or utter disaster!
It was unusually warm for December with temps near 50 degrees at the 8am start. After several years of running ultras with maybe 200 people at the start line, this race was a bit of a culture shock with several thousand folks lurking at the starting corral.

Then we took off. It was not the "casual" ultra start I am used to either! These folks were hauling ass from the get go. I stuck with the pacer as we wound our way out of the mall parking lot and into the streets of Durham. By mile two I was in a comfortable spot, right in with the 2 hour group. Dene has snuck ahead of me already and was running strong. I was just hoping this comfortable feeling would last me for 13.1 miles. By mile three I gotten up ahead of the two hour group and was cruising along. I did not wear a watch or have a phone. It was actually nice just listening to my body and not be obsessed with splits. I did not have my hand held with me either, so I made sure to grab a quick drink from each water stop as I went.
Then there was the hills. Lots of them. Not overly steep or long, but relentless nonetheless. And they just kept on coming. And they would slowly start sucking the life from my legs as the race went on. I passed through the 10K mark. In hindsight I would say that I ran a great 10K, only it was a 13.1 mile race. If my body had a check engine light, it probably would have came on around mile 7 or 8.

The struggle was getting real, and the hills were beginning to win. I took some comfort from seeing the vacant, grim look of other runners as we came through out and back sections. I was now soaked with sweat from my head to my toes. While rounding a corner only to see another large hill in front of us, the gentleman alongside me uttered "F*%k me!" More fitting words could not have been spoken.

At mile ten I was smote as the 2 hour pace group caught and passed me. My hope of a sub two hour finish disappeared just like the 2:00 sign as it descended the hill in front of me. I was walking the hills now, panting like a dog with my hands on my hips. I would try to run hard on the flats and downhills and power hike half way up the hills and then run over the top. I began to fear that I would be overtaken by the 2:15 pace group at this rate, and miss my chance of a PR as well.
Finally, the mall loomed in the distance before me! I could hear the faint sound of that finish line music. My pace at this point could only be described as a "rhythmic stagger" as I entered the parking lot toward the finish. Crossing the line I was pleasantly surprised to see I had finished in 2:04, (2:03:43 chip time) grabbing a PR despite blowing up on the second half of the race!

The good: Hats off to the Race 13.1 people. This was a super organized and well run event.
Shout out to my friend Dene, who crushed the half in 1:58!

The Bad: Not being smart enough to stick with the pace group. Okay and maybe all those damn hills and the warm weather!

A song that was stuck in my head during the race from a band I have rediscovered recently. Alter Bridge!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

One Epic Run 24 Hour Race Report

I'll keep this short. I mean seriously, running a 5K loop for hours on end does not exactly make for compelling writing! That being said, One Epic Run is one of my favorite 24 hour events. This past Saturday's race was my third year in a row coming back to Croft State Park in Spartanburg, SC to celebrate my penchant for Catholic levels of suffering. And to also get some awesome trail running in with a lot of my ultra buddies!

My younger, more adventurous friends camped out the night before the race at the park. I opted for the Super8 in Spartanburg. I believe my stay there was much more interesting than any campsite could have been. The first incident occurred around 8:30pm. We had gotten back from dinner and I was lying in bed watching TV. I heard the sound of someone at my door, and then with the swipe of a card, the door opened and in walked a rather startled traveler who was surprised to see someone already occupying the room! He apologized and quickly exited. 30 seconds later the phone in my room rang. The breathless, mortified front desk clerk spent the next several minute apologizing profusely, stating she had assigned the person a different room number, but made the key card for my room. I said not to worry about it. It was actually quite humorous. What was not humorous was their horrific selection of cable channels to watch!

I drifted off to sleep around 9:30pm, which was probably a good thing. Around 1 am or so, I awoke to the sound of a Hispanic gentleman talking rather loudly on his cell phone in the hallway. At first I thought someone was watching Univision with the volume turned up, but upon further review,I discovered it was my amigo in the hall. He finally hung up, and I drifted back off to sleep.

They say bad things happen in three's and this night was no exception. I awoke again around 3am to the sounds of slamming doors and muffled shouting.It took me a few minutes to put it together, but then I realized I had front row seats to a drunken, domestic dispute. The slamming and shouting increased, culminating in a rather operatic finale with a highly intoxicated dude wanting everyone within earshot to know that his partner was a F**king Whore! My running buddy Mo, who was in the room right next to me, called the front desk (as I'm sure many others had) and demanded they do something to shut these knuckleheads up. It must have done the trick, because in about 5 minutes all was quiet again. Ted, my other running buddy was located at the other end of the hotel and did not hear a thing. He did not escape unscathed however. He told us that around 5 am someone was knocking on a door and asking for "Garcia" right across the hall from him. Maybe it was our friend on the phone earlier?

After all this pre-race excitement, we were very grateful for a user friendly race start time of 9am. We mustered in the lobby of the hotel at 7:45 and were over at the park by 8:15 for packet pick up. It was great seeing so many friends! I immediately met up with my "Muddy Buddies" Lynne and Kelley. We had bonded through countless miles of muddy trail, both at Epic last year but also at Leatherwood Mountain 50K back in 2014.

Angela, the RD, puts on a fantastic event. I have made it a tradition to bring a fresh ground bag of Starbucks Coffee to her each year as a token of my appreciation. She stays up longer than any participant of the race!!

We set up our mini "Base Camp" right near the start/finish line and mingled before the start. One of the highlights was seeing my favorite couple from SC (Via Vermont), Heather and Geoff.

After a quick race briefing by Angela and the playing of our National Anthem, the horn sounded and we were off. I let all the alphas and youngsters get in front and haul their asses down the trail. I was in no hurry. I was mainly going to take it easy and have a good time. I had been sick with a cold earlier in the week, but the worst of it had passed so I was curious to see how my stamina would hold up later in the race.
Mo caught up with me around the second lap, and we stayed together much of the race. The basic goal was to walk the hills and run the downhills and flats. The course is a rolling 5K loop, which goes by an active firing range that can make that part of the trail seem like a Civil War reenactment. Each time you run up the hill to the large earthen berm you are greeted by the sound of small arms fire. The only thing lacking to complete the scene is a doctor in a bloody apron with a hack saw in his hand.

The first few hours were kind of a drag for me. I struggled to get into a good groove and felt okay. Not great, but okay. After putting in a few more miles I got into a great space and felt much better. Mo and I stayed together, shouting our bib numbers out as we rolled into the aid station at the start/finish each time and gorging ourselves on the "ultra buffet".

I always have to focus on remaining patient at these events. It is a far different mindset than running a "point to point" race, where you have a focus on going from point A to point B. It was good to be running with Mo, as we were able to talk and grind out the miles. Ted was a lap ahead of us, looking strong. He has just recently dipped his toe in the Ultra water and has been progressing nicely!

Before long, the sun was dropping low in the sky and it became time to don our headlamps and ease our way into the nighttime portion of the race. I love running at night. Many of the participants get to the 50K mark right before sunset and call it a day. The trail really empties out and at points you will not see another runner for quite some time. Except for my friend Jonathan. He was passing us. A lot! He kept crushing it and threw down 100 miles in 21 hours and 38 minutes! Great job dude!

Not only did the sun drop but the temperature did as well. I did my usual thing and packed WAY more clothing and gear than I would ever use. I pulled on my quarter zip fleece and grabbed a cup of coffee from the aid station as we continued our romp through the dark woods. We had met up with Ted, who said he was stopping in two laps once he got 50 miles in. Mo and I were three laps away from 50 miles ourselves, but Mo was not feeling great and said she might call it a day at 50 as well.

We got to 50 miles and Mo said she was done. I stayed out for one more lap but it was not the same without a partner in crime. My feet were beginning to hurt a bit, as I had not done too much training on trail, so I wound up calling it one lap after Mo. I guess it was around 1 am.

I was happy to get 52.7 miles in. In hindsight it would have been great to hang in for 100K, but I would have walked those last three laps and it would have taken forever. I found Mo and Ted at the car, we packed up the gear and headed out of the park and on our way home.

The drive home became a "relay" event (4 X I-85?)as we changed drivers four times. The highlight was pulling into a Starbucks in Greensboro at 5am to a slightly overwhelmed opening staff which resulted in us all getting free beverages.

The Good:
A Dry course! After slogging through massive mud last year, it was a delight to scamper across dry land at this years event.

My new Pearl Izumi tights. I ran in them the whole time and they felt great!

The Bad:
Hot food timing (On our part) It seems we just started a new lap when both the Pizza and the veggie burgers were set out. I got one cold piece of pizza and they had already ran out of veggie burgers when I came in from a lap.

My continuously running nose! Needless to say, I left many a DNA sample along the course. More annoying than anything else.

Thanks To: The great folks and their products that keep me going. Generation UCAN,UGo Bars, Elete Electrolytes, Pro Compression Calf Sleeves, Bombas Socks, Salomon and Orange Mud Hydration

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Technology and Exercise

When I first caught the running and exercise bug back in the early 1980’s, I remember I would finish up a running workout, hop in my Datsun 210 wagon and drive the route I had just run to see how far I had traveled.
Today, we have a myriad of choices on how we can track our exercise. Steps, calories, mileage and heart rate a just a few of the items that can be recorded by small, powerful electronic devices that we can take along with us while we work out. Being a runner, the introduction of the GPS watch was a huge advancement in technology that affected not only how I ran but how I could use the data to improve my overall goal setting and training in general. I could now save and track my mileage, pace, elevation and routes. I could look for patterns in my training. I could see what was working and what was not, or if I was in a rut and burning myself out.
I am currently using my trusty old Garmin Forerunner 305 watch for my long runs and also the Strava App on my phone for my shorter runs. The Garmin synchs to the Strava App, so all my runs can be reviewed in one location.You can also check your health insurance company to see if they have any incentive programs, like Oscar Insurance. They give each one of their members a Misfit Flash watch that they can use like the Garmin and sync to the Oscar app to review all their runs and much more. Every day a member meets their goal they earn back cash rewards they can redeem each month. They are available in New York and New Jersey and you can check out their website for more information.
As much as I love all the data and numbers, I do go out for one run a week with no electronic tracking devices. I like to call this a “naked” run.  It feels rather liberating! It reminds me of the old days and it also allows me to just go out and enjoy my time running without caring about time, mileage or speed. The technology and devices are a great tool to track progress, but it can be very easy to lose yourself in all that data and forget that one of the main reasons people turn to exercise is to reduce stress from all the data, numbers and information that we receive from work, school and life on a daily basis!
So, embrace the technology, use it wisely, but don’t be afraid to take a break from it now and then.
In the end, it’s all about keeping moving and staying consistent. Don’t just focus on today’s workout. Look down the road and ask yourself: If I stay consistent with my exercise, where could I be with my fitness in a year from now?
Think about that on your next “Naked” run or workout.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Uwharrie Mountain 40 Miler 2015

After missing the lottery in 2014, my luck improved and I had made it back in to the 2015 Uwharrie Mountain 40 mile trail race. After a less than stellar outing in January at The Harbison 50K, I really focused on cleaning up my diet. More raw foods, minimal grain intake and no soda.  I had logged 226 miles in January, and was looking forward to running Uwharrie to see if the diet change and hard training would pay off.

The 40 mile race starts at 7am, followed by the start of the 20 miler at 8am and the 8 mile race at 9. The temps were chilly at the start, right at 24 degrees, but the forecast called for temps to warm up to around 50 by the afternoon. We arrived at the start via shuttle and shuffled around the fire while waiting for the call to the start line. I love the start of this race! You run for about 200 feet on road, the make a sharp right turn onto the trail and immediately start the first climb. By the time you summit the one mile climb, you are no longer cold!

I hung towards the back of the back, looking to settle in early and conserve some energy for the second half. The 40 mile is an out and back course, and I have seen many a runner ( including myself) go out to hard on the first 20 and struggle on the back half.

I ran right through the first aid station at mile five, since I was good on water/electrolyte and had my trusty Orange Mud HydraQuiver packed with UGo Bars and Energy Bits for fuel. The pack had thinned out a bit by then and I was hanging with a small group of runners at a comfortable pace. The next aid station I cam to was a mile 8, where we crossed Hwy 109. The lead pack of the 20 mile runners were catching us now, which meant stepping off the single track to let them by. I caught up with my buddy Dave and it was good to run and chat with him. The aid stations were basically 3 miles apart now, so I was getting my bottles topped of at each station, grabbing a quick snack, and getting on down the trail. Coming into the aid station at mile 14 I was feeling good, focusing on staying at a comfortable pace and concentrating on hydration and fueling.

When I hit the 20 turn around, it had just turned 12pm. I was happy to run the first half in 5 hours. I was still feeling fresh. I took off my jacket, changed beanies and got my water bottles filled and off I went. I was there for maybe 1 minute. I do not like to linger at aid stations!

The out and back course is one of my favorites to run. I like point to point as well. I always get a mental boost at the turn around of a race. This time it was no different. The weather was great in the afternoon and I was in a really good groove both physically and mentally.

Coming back, I saw many of the 20 mile folks in the home stretch of their race. We exchanged words of encouragement, and I reassured them they were close to the finish! 

As I got to some of the major climbs on the second half of the race, I began to catch some people. I was climbing really strong and power hiking the steeper climbs. At 3 pm, I came through the aid station at mile 32, sticking to my routine of getting my water bottles topped off. grabbing a quick snack and moving on. There were two aid stations left, one at mile 35 and the last one at mile 38. I came through 38 knowing I had one more big climb before we descended into the finish. When I  summited the last climb, I same a runner in front of me. I though I could catch him, but he looked back and saw me and started hauling ass! We both bombed down the final several hundred yards to the finish line. He had a strong kick, and I could not close on him. We both laughed and hugged it out at the finish, with the guy thanking me for pushing him at the end.

The bottom line: a 43 minute PR! 10 hours, 5 minutes and 51 seconds.
 My previous time from 2013 was 10:48
 I was 4 hours , 59 minutes on the first 20 miles and 5 hours, six minutes on the back 20.

 I was a happy boy.

So I will continue on the lean and green in 2015 campaign as I gear up for the Mount Mitchell Challenge on February 28th!

Equipment used:

Hoka Rapa Nui Trail shoes
Balega Socks
InKnBurn Haida Long sleeve Tech shirt
Nike Run long sleeve base layer
Virginian Lightweight Jacket
InknBurn "Lust"shorts
Orange Mud Beanie
Orange Mud HydraQuiver Pack
ProCompression and Sigvaris compression sleeves

Nutrition and Hydration:

Generation UCAN
Energy Bits
UGo Bars Anutter flavor
Elete Electrolytes Citrilyte