Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Seashore Nature Traik 50K Race Report

    My fifth 50K of the year brought me to the scenic surroundings of  First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, Va. Unlike other races where we would know many of the other participants, this would just be me and my training partner Mo representing our area of NC. The course was mainly hard packed trail, with some rollers here and there, and some nice sandy spots to work the calves! It would be two loops, starting and ending with a 1 mile stretch along a paved road.

  I had no real goal for this race, the last official race of my 2013 season, so I was quite relaxed as we took off and headed down the paved road and made our way to the trail. Mo and I had scored an awesome parking spot right at the start/finish line, so all we had to do was literally get out of the car and we were ready to go!  I felt good early, so I picked up the pace a little and was running up the rolling hills. The course was not overly technical and rather wide, with only some small stretches of double track. My splits were consistent for the first 10 miles, then paranoia set in and I backed it down a little. The more I race, the more I marvel at how mental running is. For me it is always a constant battle of positive and negative. Trying to stay positive when you are positive and trying to be positive when you have all these negative thoughts swirling around your head and you are not feeling well is always the challenge for me. Trail lesson #1: A battery works off both positive and negative. So can you.

   The weather was ideal for running. A little chilly at the start, with a temp of 36 degrees, but it started to warm up nicely. Coming back through the 64th street aid station on the back half of loop one, I took advantage of our drop bag and lost the gloves and beanie, changed shirts and put on my ProCompression visor. I was keeping up with my fluid and fuel intake, taking a gel every 5 miles and refilling my Ultimate Direction hand held at every AS.

  The shirt I had changed into had special meaning. I had recently received it from my friend Donald. It was honoring a friend of his, SSG Justin C. Marquez, 1st BN SF, 3rd Group (Special Forces), killed in action Wardak Province, Afghanistan, October 6th, 2012. The loss of this young man's life, combined with the horrific news we were hearing out of Newton, Connecticut, weighed heavily on me throughout the run.

     I now found myself finishing up loop one, running along the "spur" trail that lead you back to the starting area. I was really struggling at this point, cursing myself for going out hard. I felt tired. I was now power walking the rolling hills I so confidently ran up on the first loop. I grabbed a PB&J at one of the aid stations and hunkered down for the rest loop two. Trail lesson #2: Be patient. I have been here numerous times. The low spot. Just keep moving and work your way through it. This race would be no exception. After feeling crappy for 5 miles, around mile 20 I was feeling better and picking up the pace. There were several people I was playing "cat & mouse" with for much of the race, and I was now slowly starting to drop them.     

I came through the 64th street AS one last time at mile 23, grabbed some chips and Mountain Dew and headed out. I was still feeling good and was hitting a wide, flat stretch of the trail. I was now toying with the idea that I might actually PR. That bubble would be burst once I got back on that dreaded "Bald Cypress" spur. I struggled once again, taking some longer walk breaks and muttering under my breath the whole time. I finally came through the Bald Cypress Aid Station at mile 27. Now I was just hanging on and trying to make a sub six. Two guys had passed me on this last little section of trail, and I was desperately trying to keep them in my sights. We finally got off the trail and out onto the paved  road that lead to the finish. I had caught the two guys right at the start of the road, and now I took off to the finish line. I was running hard, completely forgetting that I still had almost a mile to go! I expected the two guys I dropped to suddenly come blowing by me, but they did not give chase. I rounded a corner, but still no finish. I was now officially spent. I did have enough energy to produce a lengthy string of profanity, my classic "where the F*&%# is the finish" tirade. Finally, I began to see and hear people. I was still running hard. A gentleman I saw shouted "hurry up and you will be under six hours!" Obediently I started running harder, my left calf twitching and ready to explode.
  I crossed the line in 5:56:59
It was not a PR, but I was very happy with the result.  Trail Lesson #3:  If you are going to go hard and try for a PR, get the car keys from your partner. Turns out Mo had an off day, so the nice warm, dry clothes I had waiting for me were locked up in her car. Thank goodness they handed out finishers shirts so at least I could changed into something!
  I would like to thank Donald for allowing me to honor the memory of his friend. It puts into perspective that the pain and suffering that we experience as ultra runners  pales in comparison to the pain, suffering and loss experienced by the friends, family and loved ones of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

ShowerPill GiveAway!

I have teamed up with the good folks at ShowerPill for a giveaway! If you like on the go freshness when a shower is not an option, you will love these! No sticky residue and quick drying too!

  I am giving away a box (10 individually wrapped) of ShowerPill to one lucky winner. Here's all you need to do to enter:

Go to the ShowerPill Facebook page:  click the "Like" button. Leave a comment that "Run for It" sent you there.

Leave a comment here on the blog on why you would like some ShowerPill!

A winner will be chosen on 12/10/2013

Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

For more info, go to the ShowerPill website!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Product Review: Pro Compression Athletic Performance Socks

    Upon returning home from the Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra, I was delighted to see a package from Pro Compression sitting on the kitchen counter. Inside were two pair of their Athletic Performance socks. After running for almost 20 hours straight, amassing 68 miles in the process, I was damn sure ready for some compression and recovery!

   I am sure it was comical watching me put them on. Not being the most flexible of people to begin with, then adding in the abuse of the race, I struggled mightily with them. They are tight, and more difficult to put on then other socks. There is a reason for this..... Compression! Once they were on, they felt extremely comfortable. It is worth the effort, believe me!  In true ultra running style, I got comfortable and fell into a deep sleep. Wore the socks all night. In the morning the legs and feet felt great! Especially the calves. My right foot had some soreness the night before, but was feeling much better in the morning!

  The next test was a nice 14 mile run along the Bridle trails and single track at Umstead State Park. With it's rather hilly terrain, it was a perfect spot for a test ride (run)!

Ready to hit the trails!

  The socks were great! The best part was that I didn't FEEL like I was wearing compression socks. Once again, very comfortable, but with the right amount of tight! My training partner Hannah and I hit the hills pretty hard, and my calves felt good the whole way. The feet held up well also! No issues with hot spots or discomfort, even pounding down the single track trail.
Going up!

Pro Compression Socks Rock! I would recommend them  not just to runners but all endurance athletes. They "Keep it Tight" and let you go with the (vascular) flow! They come in a variety of styles and colors too!
For more info, visit them at : 
  As a special offer for my readers, Pro Compression has provided a code, for 40% off and free shipping. Code is: FIT 40. It is good thru 12/15! They make a perfect gift for that runner or endurance athlete in your life!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Crooked Road 24 Hour Race Report

So, you may ask, how does one recover from a DNF and a cold? Why they run in a circle for 24 hours in the cold, dry Virginia air, that's how!

  Our latest running adventure put us in Rocky Mount, Va. for the 2nd annual  running of the Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra. As usual, I was joined by my partners in crime, the "5 am" crew of Lauren and Mo. We arrived in town Friday evening, with my Suzuki packed with enough food and clothing to survive a nuclear shock wave.

  With the race start scheduled at a sleeper friendly 8am, we left the hotel a little past 7am. The sun was up, there was frost on the ground and temps were slightly below the freezing mark. We got to the park, and after a brief but intense debate about where to park and set up, we started to unpack and set up camp.
Lauren and her beloved hand warmers!  Photo by M. Percy
This would be Mo's first 24 hour run. Lauren and I had done Hinson Lake before. We did not have a canopy nor a tent, and only one chair. If you make your surroundings too comfortable, you are more likely to stop running and start sitting. Or laying down. Or sleeping. BEWARE THE CHAIR! as we say in ultra land.
Frosty!                                     Photo courtesy of  M. Percy

We made our way to the start line, milled around a few minutes greeting friends, the horn sounded and we were off!
   The course was a loop, measuring .950423 of a mile. Not being a nice even mile made for some difficult ultra math later on in the day, when all the blood had left the brain and was busy keeping the legs moving. 
  The thing I love about the 24 hour loop format is you get to run with a lot of folks throughout the course of the day. The 5am crew was separated early in the race. Then I was running with Lauren for a bit. Lauren had been fighting a cold all week and was taking it easy. She being the social butterfly of the group, I left her knowing that she would be chatting and singing her way along the course and making friends. I went ahead to see how Mo was doing. It took me a while to track Mo down, but I finally ran up on her and we settled in and started ticking off some laps.
  The day wore on and the laps and miles piled up. Slowly it seemed! Mo and I stuck together and were grinding away.We finally got past marathon distance. Then we hit the 50K mark. Mo had not gone longer than 50 miles or 12 hours, so she was about to enter new territory! We ran through the 40 mile mark, remembering how long it took us to run the Uwharrie Mountain 40 miler last year, and what fools we are for signing up again for 2013!
  As Darkness fell, Lauren decided to take a break and head back to the Hotel and rest for a bit. She is a tough girl, and had ground out 50K so far, all the while feeling under the weather. Mo and I put our headlamps on and soldiered into the night.  We passed the 12 hour mark, another PR for Mo! Then came the 50 mile mark. It was starting to get cold, but we were still doing well and had our sights set on the 100K mark.
  Details and events start to get foggy here. We came through the 100K mark and suddenly realized Mo had made it onto the women's leader board! We were still sticking to our method of running half the course and walking the other half. We would crest the big hill, enter the "abyss" the flat, cold and lonely section of the loop where we would run until we passed the overlook.
 Ah, sweet delirium! We would come through the aid station, the volunteers would yell out our lap number, and within 200 feet of passing them we could not remember what number they told us! I was hearing birds chirping off in the woods. Mo heard them as well. We stopped to listen, but when we stopped, they stopped chirping! " Those damn birds are f***ing with us Mo!" This went on for many laps until I discovered the "chirping" sound was actually my nylon wind jacket sleeve rubbing against the side of the jacket!

  We were stopping more frequently. It was getting colder too. After hours of sucking in cold air and  talking non stop, my voice was now gone. I sounded like Joe Cocker with laryngitis! Then  BANG! We hit a wall. I should say Mo hit a wall. I hit THE WALL! We staggered through a few more laps, then I told Mo "I gotta stop for a bit." Mo kept going. The Amazing Armenian! She was now near the top of the female leader board!
  I texted Lauren to let her know what was going on. She had come back earlier in the night, with a life saving cup of McDonalds coffee for me, as well as for the volunteers. She then headed back to the hotel to get more rest. It was now close to 5am. She would be coming back at 6am to try and get in a few more laps. I had an hour to kill before I could nap in the car. I was really starting to feel sick, so I changed into some dry clothes, went into the heated bathroom, sat on the toilet and took a nap!
   I vaguely remember hobbling out of the bathroom, seeing my car, mumbling something to Lauren and getting into the car. The door opened several minutes later, and just as I was about to cuss Lauren out, she put a blanket over me and tucked me in. A true ultra buddy! Nite, Nite! She was also kind enough to capture the moment on film!

  Mo was still out there, plugging away. I drifted in and out of sleep, finally hearing the horn that signified the end of the race.

  Mo crushed it! A stunning 83.5 laps for a total of 79.32 miles and second place female and 8th place overall! Lauren worked in a few more laps as well, finishing with a gutty performance totaling 41.30 miles. I finished with 68.43 miles, 10th overall for mileage  and 7th place male.(All results are "unofficial" at this point)

    We all made it through in one piece, a little banged up, sore, snotty but happy! I am happy to report my voice came back, a somewhat more soulful "Hootie and the Blowfish" type tone to it. I would like to thank my compatriots Mo and Lauren, who never cease to amaze and inspire me. I love you guys!  Thanks to all my friends, old and new, who kept me going out there. It was great seeing everyone. Last but not least, a huge thank you to RD Ricky Scott and all the all the amazing volunteers that made this such a great experience!

For more info on the race check out


Monday, November 19, 2012

Product Review: ShowerPill Athletic Body Wipe

  Don't lie to me. We have all done it. Runners, gym rats, trainers, cyclists. In our increasingly fast paced world we tend to prioritize. We are more likely to skip a shower than a workout. Well there is good news: The ShowerPill Athletic Body Wipe.

This refreshing 9"x8" wipe is alcohol free and contains Aloe Vera and Vitamin E. It has a great scent, and best of all, it does not leave any residue and dries quickly!

I used ShowerPill after teaching my 75 minute spin class last Tuesday and was impressed with how quick and easy it was to use. Best of all, it did not bother my skin at all!

  The next test was using after my 11 mile trail run on Thursday. Since there was no facilities available after the run, I wiped down with the ShowerPill and felt much better about myself, especially since I stopped in to the local Moe's for a post run refueling!

  This past weekend I ran the Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra Run. I ended up running for about 20 hours straight, topping out at 68 miles. Needless to say, one can get quite "funky" during these types of events, but I  stopped and freshened up with ShowerPill around mile 40, which brought me back to life!

  I would definitely recommend ShowerPill for folks who live on the go, whether they be athletes or not. It is easy to carry and use, and provides you with refreshing, effective results when a shower is not available.

The Folks over at ShowerPill have a special "Buy two, Get one free" Black Friday sale on! Customers must place 3 boxes in the shopping cart and enter code: SPFRIDAY to receive the 3rd box free. Offer is valid 11/23 - 11/25

Check out the ShowerPill website!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mountain Massacre: Mountain Masochist Trail Race Report

 It's Friday, the day before the 30th running of the Mountain Masochist 50 + mile trail run. I am driving up highway 501 with Mo and Jenn, on our way to Lynchburg, Va. Jenn's phone rings. We hear her talking to someone, going "are you kidding me?' etc. Jenn hangs up the phone and explains to us that there is 4+ inches of snow on the "loop" section of the course and that there are also waist deep drifts of snow as well. Awesome. We had received several emails from Clark, the race director, during the week advising that there would be snow on sections of the course, but with clear weather the past several days, we had thought most of the snow would have melted. The loop section of the course was the introduction to the second half of the race, after the climb up Long Mountain to the halfway point at 26 miles or so. (Horton math). Some of us would get to see the snow, some not.

  6:30am, race day. Standing at the start, shivering, temp about 37 degrees. Race gear: Race Ready shorts, Nike base layer, cycling jersey. I opted for the cycling jersey over the hydration pack from a comfort standpoint, due to the length of the race. I had my ultimate Direction hand held and my Montrail Rouge Fly. I had the Hokas packed in my drop bag at mile 26, just in case.

  Off we went, into the darkness along a paved road. My trusty Fenix headlamp, affectionately known as "The Mothership" due to it's amazing brightness, was appearing somewhat dim. It was then I remembered not having replaced the batteries after the Hinson Lake 24 hour ultra. Thankfully, other folks lights provided me enough vision, and an hour into the race, it was beginning to get light.
  Photo by M. Percy

We ran on the road for a mile or so, then onto some double track. Mile two was marked by a creek crossing, then a watery tunnel. Since there was no way around the water, you just had to embrace it and slog through it. Despite the cold, my feet felt okay. The Rouges dried out rather quickly as well.

  I was feeling okay at this point. I was trying to keep a steady pace, being somewhat conservative but staying ahead of the cut offs. It was going to be a long day, regardless.  I went through Peavine Gap Aid stations #1&2, then on through Dancing Creek and Parkway Gate AS at Mile 15. I was staying hydrated and had taken a gel and ate a Cliff Bar up to this point. It was also around this point I noticed I was not feeling particularly strong on the hills. I was power walking them, but still was feeling somewhat tired. Not a good sign.

  I fought my way from  Parkway Gate up to Robinson Gap, then enjoyed a nice downhill into Irish Creek AS at mile 19. Two miles later, I went through The Reservoir AS, three minutes ahead of the cut off. I grabbed some food, refilled my hand held and headed out for the climb up Long Mountain.

  The climb up Long Mountain felt endless. It was 5 miles of climbing to get to the Long Mountain AS, the halfway point. I felt myself slowing down. There was no "pop" in the legs, and I found myself trudging up the mountain. I was now getting very fatigued. I was trying to do cutoff math in my head, to no avail.  My form was really suffering, and I began to feel like a marionette with all it's strings tangled up. It seemed like an eternity had passed when I finally crested the climb and hit the flat stretch that led to the Long Mountain Aid Station. Upon reaching the aid station, I was greeted by a rather sheepish young man who informed me I had just missed the cut off and was being pulled from the course.  I told him I understood, and he actually thanked me for not freaking out on him. (apparently the woman who came in right in front of me was pulled too, and was not too happy about it!)  

  It was my first DNF. I was okay with it. I was just not feeling it. I would have been pulled either going in or coming out of the loop section later in the race anyhow. My drop bag was here, and I could catch a bus to the finish line and watch everyone finish. As I walked toward the bus I heard a knocking on one of the bus windows. It was my friend Jenn, who had made the cut off but had been struggling with a cold/sinus issue all week and decided to drop, knowing that she would not have enough to finish the second half.  I asked her about our friends Tim and Mo, and she said they were both looking good and heading up Buck Mountain towards the loop.The buses then headed out, bringing us to the finish line.

   Jenn and I set up shop at the Country Store across the street from the finish. We sat on the porch, drank coffee and watched the finishers come in. Many of the folks that crossed the line looked pretty beat up, as conditions on the loop were rough. The 12 hour finish time was extended by a half an hour due to the challenges along the loop. Jenn and I waited anxiously for Mo and Tim to come in, standing in the dark at the finish line. As the last bus was about to pull out, We got on it. There was no cell service, so we had to wait about a half hour into the bus ride before we could reach Mo, only to find out she was already back at the hotel! Mo had made it to mile 41 before missing the cut off. Our friend Tim was pulled at mile 38.

Mo at Mile 41

293 people started, 236 finished. There were also 49 people that did not start. This is one that will go back on the calendar for 2013. Next year I will not run a 50K two weeks before this race. I will train more on hills. I will be back.............

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." - Edward Abbey

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Product Review: Saucony Guide 6

Recently the good folks at Saucony sent me a pair of their new "Guide 6" running shoes to test out. They are scheduled to come out on November 1st.

They felt comfortable right out of the box. This is not a shoe that will require any "break in" time. The size 11 I tested had ample room in the toe box area. I do not have a particularly wide foot, but other brands I have run in tended to feel a bit narrower in that size.
  The drop on these is 8mm, which felt fine even though I generally run in a 4mm drop shoe.

  The first test was a four mile run on asphalt. The Guide 6 felt good, a nice mix of both support and stability.They have a very light feel to them. I was running with a friend who had recently had a child, so I even got to put the Guide 6 through 2 miles of "stroller" testing!

  The second run was on the treadmill at the gym. I find the treadmill not to be as easy on the joints as people think, but here again the 6's did well. I took them through some "strides" at a good hard pace and did not feel any discomfort even with the hammer down.

  Yesterday's test run included some hill work. I had to bring my car into the shop for brakes, and being the runner that I am, ran home from the repair shop! The shop sits at the bottom of a hill, so up we went! The shoe felt good on the climb, still supported well even when the foot strike became more pronounced on the forefoot. They returned the energy nicely back to the legs. On the subsequent downhill, the foot stayed stable, not sliding up towards the front of the shoe at all.
  I would highly recommend this shoe for anyone looking for a light, supportive, everyday training shoe. The Guide 6 is also a great shoe for anyone who has been running in a higher drop shoe and wants to experience a more minimalist feel but still have plenty of guidance and support.
 A nice job by the folks at Saucony!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New River Trail 50K Race Report

  After a long, hot summer of racing, I found myself at the start of the New River 50K Trail Run last Saturday rocking the Smartwool beanie, gloves and a long sleeve base layer! Temps at the start were hovering around 40 degrees and fog had settled in around the banks of the New River. As usual, I was joined by my "5am" compatriots Lauren and Mo, plus our friend Bill had joined us on the ride up and would be running the 50K along with us.

                                                        The 3 Amigos!          Photo courtesy of L. Wilkins                  

Lauren had run the race last year in 5:47, her 50K PR, and had her sights set on beating that time this year. Mo had just been told she had Bronchitis the day before, and was primarily focused on finishing.  Me, I was coming off 86 miles at Hinson Lake 24 Hour Run two weeks prior. "The course is flat" they said. "You will get a PR" they said. I was trying not to get too caught up in the "flat/fast" hoopla. I knew if I did, I would go out too hard and probably blow up. Waking up race day morning with a slight sore throat and stuffy nose was also a cause for concern, but being a true Irishman, I kept those feeling to myself and soldiered on.
  So off we went into the cool Virginia morning. The first several miles were great, and soon Lauren had separated from me and Mo and was up ahead and looking strong. I felt good, although I kept looking at the 9:30 miles we were ticking off and realized I was sipping freely from the "PR Koolaid"
                                            Me and Mo, on the go!               Photo by L. Wilkins

I knew I had better ease off a bit, not quite knowing what my stamina might be at the end of the race. It was about this time our friend Bill came gliding past us. A cagey cycling veteran, Bill likes to start from the back, let the herd thin out, and then motor his way through the pack. He is also blessed with a long stride, so my choppy little ultra pace was no match for him.
                       Bill in full "Stealth" mode!    Photo by L. Wilkins 

Mo and I were still holding sub 10 min/miles as we came through the first aid station around mile 6. Curiously, Mo was not showing any weakness for someone as sick as she was. Sure, there was the lung scraping coughing jags, but her strength and stamina appeared to be unaffected. I, on the other hand, really started feeling like crap! I had not drank much, and was in need of some fuel. I downed a gel, hoping that would provide a spark, and focused on drinking more often from my hand held. It was not long after this that my pace slowed and I watched as Mo slipped out of sight ahead of me on the trail.
  The allure of a flat course can be a double edge sword. Yes, you can run faster. There are no oxygen sucking climbs and quad screaming descents. You are, however, using the same core group of muscles the entire time. I found it to be quite a grind, both physically and mentally. Looking back on my Garmin stats, we only gained 921 feet of elevation over 31 miles. Flat indeed.

  I was now running by myself, churning out the miles, head down. The scenery was beautiful, but my mind was focused on getting my ass to the next aid station for some more fuel and to top off the water bottle. The mental battle was now on. The first victory was hitting 10 miles. The second was hitting the half way point at mile 15, and the aid station at mile 15.94, where I saw the the familiar faces of  Barefoot Josh and his wife Iris. (you can check out Josh's excellent blog at:  Josh filled up my water bottle, I downed a gel and off I went. The next little victory would be reaching the Cliffview Turnaround at mile 17.
Josh and Iris at the AS

 Not long after the aid station, I was starting to have to suppress  thoughts of dropping at the turnaround. I had a drop (no pun intended) bag there with dry clothes. The leaders were already flying by in the opposite direction, looking strong. I knew before long I would be seeing Lauren, Bill and Mo.
 Bill came by first, cruising along with his earphones in. Not long after I saw Lauren, still running well. I remember telling her I was "dyin'" and she told me the turnaround was not much further. I had still not reached the turnaround when I saw Mo, strong and steady coming my way. I believe I asked her "where the $#@^ is the turnaround?"
  Finally. The Cliffview turnaround. I didn't even look for my drop bag. I handed someone my bottle to refill, grabbed a quick snack and headed back out. I rationalized that if I just kept going after the turnaround, I would eventually grind my way to the finish. It was a split second moment of clarity.
  Now I was passing folks on their way to the turnaround. I took slight comfort in the fact that I could now see that others were toiling as well. I continued to rumble down the trail.
  "Welcome to mile 20!" was the greeting bestowed on me from Josh as I doubled back through his aid station. More fluid and gels. Back on my way.  The next several miles was a series of ups and downs for me. I would run at a nice pace, thinking I had gotten my groove back, only to slow to a walk. It was sort of like a low self esteem Galloway method. 

 It was right around mile 22 I started to catch some folks. This did perk me up a little, and I wound up passing 5 people between mile 22 and 26. Then came the marathon split, which I came through in 4:53:59. WTF? I could still PR for 50K! (Previous best was 6:08 at Derby 50K) Energized, I took off running from the marathon split. That lasted about 1/4 mile. The New River Trail was not done with me yet.
The remaining miles were a mix of ultra shuffle and walking. I did suffer a minor bout of trail tourrete's along the last two miles as I shuffled and muttered. Where is the GD #$%!!** finish!?!?! Then, one last foot bridge and the finish line beckoned! I was done. 5:53:03 a New PR!
That one hurt!

Crossing the line!              Photo by L. Wilkins         

I am also happy to report that Lauren, Mo and Bill had PR's too!

Lauren: 5:05:16
Mo: 5:37:58
Bill: 4:58:00 

A big thanks to Annette Bednosky (RD) and all the volunteers and crew!

For more info on the race:


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review: The Longest Race by Ed Ayres


Ed Ayres, one of the pioneers in ultrarunning, has just released a new book, The Longest Race, chronicling his running of the 2011 JFK 50 mile Endurance Run. If you are thinking this is just another book about running, you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that it IS that, but so much more!

  The chapters cover the race from start to finish, with vivid descriptions of the course that make you feel that you are running along side Mr. Ayres the whole way. What sets this book apart is the way Mr. Ayres artfully and seamlessly mixes in thoughts on history, anthropology, evolution, the human race and a host of other topics while keeping the reader engaged the whole time. The more serious issues are not presented in a didactic way at all, but rather laid out in front of the reader to ponder, perhaps on a long trail run!

On the running side, one of my favorite Chapters from the book is  "Taylor's Landing" Negotiating with Fatigue-and Turning Long Hours into Moments. A must read for all runners. You will no doubt smile as you read this chapter, as we have all been in this predicament before, battling with fatigue and all the mental challenges that come along with it!

So with the arrival of Fall, I would strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of the book, prop your feet up, (After your run of course) and settle in for some enjoyable reading. You will learn about running, but will also learn more about yourself and the world around you.

Find the Book here:  

Learn more about Ed Ayres:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fat Ass at The Farm 50K +

My friend and trail buddy Lauren decided to celebrate her birthday in true Ultra fashion by hosting the Fat Ass on the Farm 50K. For those of you unfamiliar with the term "Fat Ass", here is a brief description I found online:

FAT ASS is the name given to a series of low key runs that are frequented by experienced runners & walkers and characterised by the phrase "No Fees, No Awards, No Aid, No Wimps". Yes, the runs are totally free to enter and are put on by passionate runners who are also running. Think of it as a bit like meeting some people for a bushwalk - except it's a run. Because the runs are not races in any sense, there is no guarantee of anything other than a course to run (although maps and directions may not provided). There are no course marshalls, and no course markers, and you should not expect any aid either. They are an exercise in self-help, and as such experienced runners only should come and join us - they are not intended for beginning runners. - Courtesy of

Since Lauren was turning 32, it would be a teeny bit more than a 50K. Her parents own a farm on 60+ Beautiful acres of land, so we had an ideal setting for the run. I accompanied Lauren to her parent's farm to scout out a course. The course wound up being a 1.2 mile loop with a little out and back spur added in to keep things interesting. The surface would be mostly field grass, with a little bit of rock trail thrown in as well. We also had to reassure her father that it would be fine to let 20-30 endurance lunatics to ramble around the farm for 32 miles without trashing the place or injuring themselves in the process!

The Farm
We were blessed with beautiful weather and set off on lap number one a few minutes past 8am. I had my sights set on the full 32 miles and started out slowly, happy that I was not instantly drenched in sweat by the end of the first lap.
 The laps began to tick off and I was feeling good. Another bonus was that many of my ultra buddies were there too, so it was nice to hook up with folks on different laps. I kept a solid pace early, and did not dilly -dally at the aid station, just refilled my hand held and kept on truckin'. For fuel I had my Vega Endurance gels , so I was not tempted by the array of snacks and treats the AS had to offer.
 About the  half way point (mile 16) I stopped briefly to change my shirt and grab a Hummus wrap for some solid food. Home made hummus spread on a whole grain tortilla and sprinkled with chopped olives, it is a yummy source of fuel! I had hooked up with my friend and ultra mad man Chris at this point, and we power walked a "digestion" lap before returning back to the run.
  Mile 20 came and went, and I was still feeling good. Chris and I stayed together, and even though I can't quite remember what exactly we talked about, I know we were laughing a helluva lot!

Coming off the "spur"
We were now within a few laps of 32 miles, and I was pleasantly surprised with how good I was feeling. My last ultra distance was about a month ago, and I had not been doing a lot of high mileage training runs either. Of course, it not being 95 degrees and humid certainly helped! A nice breeze had picked up in the early afternoon which kept things comfortable. 
  I hit the final lap and cruised into the aid station. I checked off the final lap on my lap chart, and sought out the nearest available chair. 55K in 6:40.  My buddy Chris continued on for several more laps, making it an even 35 miles for him. The Birthday girl Lauren finished not long after me, running her age in miles in honor of her B-day.
  The chairs were out, the feet were up, and we did what all good ultra runners do: Sit around and talk about running, food and pooping!
  A great time and really cool way to celebrate one's Birthday! (yes there was cake too! No, I stuck to my Vegan principles and ate more hummus wraps!)
"Partying" down on the farm!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Moving On: Saying goobye to a faithful pair of Trail Shoes

It was with a touch of sadness that I retired my Brooks Pure Grit trail shoes from active duty yesterday. It was time. They had faithfully served me through many miles along the trail. Purchased in the fall of last year, they were with me for my first 100K at Weymouth Woods. They hung in there with me at the Uwharrie Mountain 40 miler and several other 50K's in the spring and summer of this year. They had been baptised through many a creek crossing, endured mud baths and withstood sharp rocked jeep and fire roads in multiple states. I never once had gotten a blister when wearing them, even when they began showing signs of breaking down.
     So I found myself driving to the Fleet Feet Running store yesterday, ready to pick up a new pair of Pure Grit. It was when I had slipped on the new pair that I realized just how worn down my old pair was. I knew I had made the right decision, but there was a brief moment of sadness, much like when you have to ask grandpa for the keys to the car, knowing he still wants to drive, but it's just not safe anymore.
 I left the store, drove straight to Umstead State Park and christened the new Grits with an eight mile run. Upon returning home, I set the old pair out on the side porch, their tangy aroma reminding me of all the miles we shared. Since I can't stand to part with them, they will be relegated to light yard work duty. (low drop lawn maintenance)

And so it goes, the circle of life continues! Thanks to my old Pure Grits for all the good times we shared and here's to many more happy miles ahead with Pure Grit Mach two!!

Out with the old.

In with the new!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Post Workout Smoothie, Vegan Style!

Here is my typical post run/bike smoothie!

1 cup Almond Milk
1 Banana
1Tsp Udo's Oil
1/2 cup frozen fruit
1 tsp Chia seeds
1 tsp Maca powder
1 tsp Salba
2 TBSP Hemp Protein Powder

Put all ingredients in blender and blend to desired consistency.

A few options:  Replace banana with a ripe avocado. You can also use a frozen banana. When my bananas start to get real funky, I peel them and individually wrap them and put them in the freezer.

Instead of hemp powder, I switch up with a scoop of Vega Energizing Smoothie Powder. Check out all their fine products at

I vary the frozen fruit at times with fresh fruit. Just add some ice to the mix to get the texture you want.

I also throw in some coconut flakes or a tsp of coconut oil on occasion.

For some added iron, throw in some ground raw pumpkin seed too!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Product Review: BodyGlide Liquified Powder

The folks over at BodyGlide have added another weapon in their arsenal against friction with their Liquified Powder Lubricant. This product goes on as a cream and transforms itself into a nice and dry yet effective coating against friction and skin irritation. It also has a clean scent and once applied, is a very light, breathable barrier that is virtually unnoticeable.

  We have been having another one of our hot and humid Carolina summers here, so I was interested in seeing how the Liquid Powder would hold up in 90+ degrees and high humidity. I started out the evaluation on one of our typical 10 mile training runs at 5am. Even at that early hour, it only takes a mile or so for my running gear to become soggy! Sweat soaked gear can easily lead to chafing, but I was happy to find no issues in the nether region and elsewhere!

  The next test was on the bike. As many of we cyclists know, a little friction can lead to a long day in the saddle! As a way to celebrate my Birthday, my friend and I went out on a 36 mile road ride. I always wear cycling bibs with a chamois for added comfort, but even that can become irritating after a few hot and sweaty hours on the bike. Once again I had no issues with chafing, even after several hours on the bike.

A "Friction Free" B-Day ride!

  The final exam was this past weekend's Medoc Mountain Trail Run. This run is also affectionately called the "Medoc Meltdown" due to it being held in the middle of August!

I wound up running 28 miles, a few shy of 50K, and was fighting the heat all day. The Liquified Powder turned in another strong performance, keeping me friction free throughout the run. The only irritation to my skin was some horse fly and chigger bites!

"Gliding" along the trail at the Medoc Mountain Meltdown!

    I would highly recommend this product for people who want friction and chafing protection without the heavy feel or residue that other products leave behind. The .135 fl. oz tube can easily be stored in the pockets of running shorts,  hand held hydration systems or cycling jerseys. It's "no mess" application is well suited for "on the run" use as well!

  Be sure to visit for more info on Liquified Powder and all the other great products from BodyGlide!



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

BodyGlide Giveaway. We have a winner!

Congratulations to Toni! She is the winner of our BodyGlide Prize pack giveaway! Thanks to everyone for stopping by the blog and leaving a comment. Remember, you can still be a winner! If you liked and left a comment on the BodyGlide Facebook page, check back there. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Body Glide Prize Pack Giveaway

Hey folks, I have teamed up with the good folks at Body Glide this month and will be giving away a BodyGlide prize pack to one lucky winner. It's simple. Just leave a comment on the blog about why you would like to get your hands on some "Endurance Insurance" and you are entered! I will select a winner on Wednesday 8/1, so check back in to see if you've won!

 Another way to win is to go to the BodyGlide Facebook Page : Like their page and leave a comment referencing the blog and you will be entered to win a prize pack there too!
  You have two chances to win so good luck!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday. View from Above

Never underestimate where a trail run can lead you!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Grandfather Mountain Race Report

"And springtime brought me the frightful laugh of an idiot." - Arthur Rimbaud

  It was sometime in the spring, probably in the midst of an endorphin high, when I signed up for this race. Never mind that the words "Grandfather" and "Mountain" are rarely used with the term marathon. "One of America's toughest marathons" the website proudly boasted. You finish on top of a mountain! Right in the middle of the Highland Games! Bagpipes! I had just recently purchased my Sportkilt, and even though I had no real grasp of my Scottish ancestry, it all seemed logical at the time.
  So, at 6:30am on July 14th, in godforsaken humidity and with thunder rolling off in the distance, I toed the start line at the track inside Kidd Brewer Stadium at Appalachian State University. We were to do two laps around the track, then head out on the roads through Boone, NC, and slowly wind our way up the hills to McRae Meadows, at the top of Grandfather Mountain, 26.2 miles later.
  And yes folks, my Sportkilt would be making the entire journey up the mountain with me! (No commando mode for me tho!)
 We started, and were quickly off the track and onto the streets. You had to complete the marathon in 5 hours and 30 minutes or less to finish inside the stadium at the Highland Games. After that, you got to finish at the "Marathon" tent just outside. I really wanted to finish on the track inside the stadium, but in the days prior to the race I had doubts on whether I could get there in time or not. With that in mind, I ran with a purpose through the flat miles in town, trying to deposit as many minutes in the "Time Bank" as I could before the hills began. First mile was 8:43, followed by mile 2 at 9:13.
    It was around mile two that I hooked up with local ultra legend Joey Anderson and ran with him for the next six miles or so. Normally I would not have the pleasure of Joey's company, as he is swift afoot, but he had been recovering from a rather nasty dog bite attack, and a 100K run several weeks prior. The hills began around mile three, and with the high humidity, we were already drenched! I was questioning my kilt decision already.
  We walked some of the steeper sections of the hills early, in an effort to conserve energy. This was Joey's 7th time at GMM, as opposed to my first, and his encyclopedic  knowledge of the course really helped me out those first several miles.
  At the aid station at mile 8, I stopped to refill my hand held, and Joey went on his way. I was now running by myself, as my two partners in crime, Mo and Lauren, has opted not to join in the fun this time around.
  Now my ever increasingly soggy kilt and I settled in for some hilly miles ahead. I was trying to come up with some Scottish mantra at this point to keep me focused, but all that came to my head was the intro to Steve Earle's "Copper Head Road", so I had to go with what I had!

  It was also right around this point a car slowed as it crested up to me. The driver, who I would see along the course several more times that day, noticed my kilt, rolled down his window and shouted "If it's not Scottish, it's crap!!" a reference to an old Mike Meyers sketch from Saturday Night Live. That got me back into the spirit of things quickly!

 The miles began to tick off. I now entered onto the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile 11, where we would run for 4 miles. I passed mile 13 and suddenly began to feel tired, even though I was on a relatively flat section. Here it was, the dreaded "low point". Having been through this several times during ultras, I knew I would run my way through it. But for now, I walked my way through it. I had hit the halfway point in around 2:25, making a track finish very possible, but that still did not lift my spirits.
  I finally exited off the Parkway, crossed underneath it, and now entered onto Clarence Newton Road, which was gravel. Whatever emotional boost I had gotten from getting off the Parkway was now drained from me as I slowed once again and scraped my way along the gravel. I ran briefly with another guy and we chatted a bit. ( HE chatted, I just kinda grunted) I then began to notice his exhales sounded like those of a horse, and he was making quite a respiratory racket. This inspired me to pick up the pace slightly, just as we were about to start the monster climb at mile 17.
 I power walked up the hill, putting some distance between myself and my equestrian friend.
  Having been spoiled by ultra marathon aid stations, and not having raced a traditional marathon in a while, I completely forgot that marathon AS's generally only carry water and electrolyte drinks and not food. I had taken the first of my two Vega Sport endurance gels back somewhere in the single digit miles, so now it was time to pop the next one. Two gels and Gatorade were gonna have to get me through this one!
  Slowly, the tide began to turn. The big hill was behind me, and I began to get in a good rhythm on the downhill sections. I started to pass a few folks as well. Around mile 19, I came up on a runner going up a hill section. It was a friend from Raleigh, Lisa, who I was really surprised to see. (another very strong runner with tons of races under her belt) I asked her if she was okay. She said she was having problems catching her breath and thought the combination of humidity and whatever funky pollen or mold was growing in the area might be causing her breathing difficulties. I walked with her a bit, gave her some encouragement, and headed on my way. She is a cagey veteran, and she accepted the fact that today was not her day. (She would go on to finish and it was great to see her post race, feeling better!)

  Cresting the top of another hill at mile 20, I saw some kids hanging out at the side of the road. As I got closer to them, I realized they were handing out ice pops! This was too good to be true! I took one, thanked them endlessly and went to work on that puppy. Cold and sugary, just what I needed. To my knowledge, this was not an "official" rest stop, just some local folks helping runners out! I don't recall at what mile, but there was a man who was handing out cold sponges to wipe yourself off with as well!
  The ice pop, in combination with reaching the 20 mile mark, really helped to lift my spirits. 10K to go. My Scottish brogue buddy passed me one last time and shouted, "Aye Laddie, you'll be hearin' the bagpipes soon!"   A quick look at the Garmin told me unless there was some catastrophe between now and the finish, I would make it into the stadium in time! I was back into a solid pace again, and I was able to pass a few more folks. My poor kilt was now a soggy mess, slapping my rear end in perfect cadence with my pace. I didn't care.
  Of course, my exuberance was thwarted briefly as I began to ascend the final hill back up towards the Blue Ridge Parkway  and the entrance to Grandfather Mountain. Mile 24. There was the sign, big and beautiful: Grandfather Mountain - 2 miles ahead. Mile 25 seemed to take forever, then the last mile. It then seemed I would never reach the track inside the stadium where we were to run 3/4 of a lap to the finish chute!
  I saw the volunteers at the turn you took to get onto the field which lead into the arena. You had to run a little bit across a muddy field, then up a tiny hill which then lead you onto the track. The sun, which had thankfully been hidden behind clouds and fog for most of the morning, seemed to suddenly burst out around mile 24, bringing my now rather heavy feeling kilt to a state of super saturation. It mattered not. Because now I was on the track, bagpipe music filling my ears, and robust applause surrounding me. I went into my kick, passed one more person on the track, and finished in 5:07:44, well ahead of the cut off I had worried so much about.
 I had made it, and had done a lot better than I thought I would. A soggy, yet satisfying race indeed!
On the track, heading to the finish line!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chattanooga Mountain Stage Race Video

Here's a cool video from my friends at Rock Creek  Check out their site for more info on some great races!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Eastern Divide 50K Race Report

I set off on another 50K adventure June 23rd at the Eastern Divide 50K in Giles County Virginia. I was there with my "5am crew" compatriots Lauren and Mo.  This being a "Point to Point" race, we had to arrive early to catch the shuttle to take us to the start. Due to some last minute changes in hotel accommodations, I had us booked about 45 minutes from the shuttle pick up point, which resulted in me taking a rash of s**t from my trail hommies the rest of the weekend!
  After a bumpy ride in a school bus, we lined up at the start at 7:30am from the Casacades Trailhead. There were many others friends who had made the trip from the Raleigh area for this inaugural  event, so it almost felt like a hometown race.

 And then we were off! We ran for what seemed like 30 seconds, following along the side of a stream, then began the initial 2 mile ascent after passing the much touted waterfall.
  Much power walking ensued. I was trying a slightly different tactic this race, going out a little more aggressive than usual, to see if I could push the pace and hang on until the end. It was warm but not yet hot, but reaching AS #1 at the 4 mile mark I was already drenched in sweat...... Awesome!

  I had left Lauren and Mo at the start and kept pressing on, reaching AS#2 along the increasingly rougher fire road heading towards Bailey Gap. After Bailey Gap the trail went downhill for a while. I saw a girl go down after catching her foot on a rock, but thankfully she got up and was okay. Right after that my friends Renee and Chris caught up to me. We ran together briefly, then Chris and I watched as Renee took off and headed out of sight down the trail. She was running strong and had a great race.
  Chris and I ran together for a while. I admired Chris's bravery for wearing his VFF's for this race, although he had to slow down on the downhills due to the large shale rock that was everywhere along the fire road.
  We reached AS #3 (13 miles), strategically placed before the next killer climb. What followed next was a seemingly endless hump straight uphill and to the summit of the mountain and AS #4.  (18 miles) It was here that you could leave a drop bag, and I happily grabbed mine and put on a dry shirt. I popped some Ibuprofen, grabbed some coke and a PB&J, and Chris and I headed back out.
  I had not seen Lauren and Mo since the start, but knowing the strength of Lauren and the tenacity of Mo, I was expecting them to catch me before the finish. The fire road now ran downhill after the summit, and not long after we left AS#4 Lauren and Mo caught me. Lauren was looking strong and was soon out ahead of us. Mo, Chris and I stayed together and chatted our way through the rollers. I started to struggle a little bit, starting to question whether I went out too hard too early. Mo was excited, because we were about to head into some single track after AS#5 at 22 miles. We rolled into AS#5, which was a cutoff point for the race. (You had to reach AS#5, 22 miles, by 2:30pm) We were well ahead of the cutoff, heading into the single track section, with 8 miles to go.

  Only one problem. I was trashed! I shuffled along the single track, feeling like a marionette with all it's strings tangled up. At one point I was walking along a flat section, barely picking up my feet. I could hear Mo behind saying "C'mon Geno", so I kept trudging along, hoping to "run" my way out of it. I "pulled the Chain" on all my Honey Stinger chews in an effort to kick start my system. It must have worked, along with the realization that we were getting close to the end. I perked up just before we came out into a baking hot meadow and hit AS#6 (25 miles). We came up on the station and  was surprised to see Lauren there. She had stopped to rest and was not feeling well.  I gave her some Ibuprofen for her headache, we ate a little, filled up on fluids and headed out. It was now Chris, Lauren and myself. The sneaky and tenacious Mo (No Mercy) Percy had slipped away up the trail.

  We headed back into single track, leaving the arid meadow behind.
 I had a minor bout of Trail Tourette's at this point, cursing as my exhausted legs would not raise up enough to allow my feet to clear the rocks and roots. I was slightly out in front of Lauren when I heard HER start cussing. She had just rolled her ankle. I turned around and went back to check on her. She was standing at the base of a log which was lying across the trail, looking down at her ankle with watery eyes. Just like Mo had done for me, I said C'mon Sparky,( one of the endless trail/nick names we give each other) it's okay, were almost there. Chris had caught back up to us by then, and once again we set off, determined to finish this f#@#$%% race!
    Chris and his VFF's tackling the trail!

  We had finally come up to AS #7 (28 miles). We desperately asked the volunteers there how far it was to the finish. We had been getting conflicting info at the last aid station and it was messing with our heads! The good folks at AS #7 promised us it was only 2 miles to the finish. Home stretch....well,sort of.
  The night before, Lauren, Mo and I scouted the finish area. It appeared to us then that We would have to run past the finish area, down a trail, hang a sharp left onto some single track before coming out into a meadow where the finish line was. I was so glad we had seen the finish beforehand, because if I had not know about that little diversion ahead of time I would have lost my shit completely. The old "Phantom Finish" trick. Priceless.
  So we rumbled past the finish area, down that damn trail, which now seemed interminably longer than the night before, and passed the "1 mile to go" sign. We hooked the left onto the single track, which immediately went uphill. Dammit! We crested the hill, and Lauren said "let's run it!". I took off, and promptly turned my ankle. Releasing a spectacular stream of profanity, I limped briefly, got a hold of myself and kept looking for the opening to the meadow and the finish. I saw daylight and took off once again, rumbling toward the finish in a time of 7:13:58, 113th out of 158.Two hundred folks had registered. There were some no shows, and I'm sure a few DNF's as well. Lauren and Chris finished right behind me. The ever steady Mo had finished well ahead of us in 7:05:48. Renee crushed the course in 6:11:33!
 My Garmin showed 6080 feet of climb for the course!
Me rumbling in to the finish!

 While not the most enjoyable race, we learned things, helped each other through the tough spots and survived another adventure!

Renee, Mo, Myself and Lauren post race!