Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays and Polar Plunge

Just wanted to say Happy Holidays to everyone that has stopped by and followed the blog in 2013!

  Here is a little video of me and 2 crazy friends taking a refreshing dip in the pool on Christmas Eve!

Polar Plunge!


 I was wearing my head mounted Go Pro camera in it's water resistant case!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Shoe Review: The Mizuno Wave Rider 17

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Mizuno.

The folks at Mizuno Running are at it again, this time bringing you the new Wave Rider 17, which is suited for the neutral runner who is looking for a high mileage training shoe that is also light enough to race in.

 The first thing that impressed me when I put them on was the roomy toe box. There was plenty of support there, but without feeling tight or narrow. The Men's version weighs in at 8.8ounces, and provides a nice cushion for everyday training. The upgraded sock liner really makes for a comfortable fit as well.

  The first test run was with my morning run group I lead from the gym. We ran the three mile loop at an easy pace and the Wave Rider felt great! Very smooth feel and on the hills it had some nice flex and responsiveness. The next test run was a nice chilly and windy run on Sunday. The route had some nice hills and I was interested to see how the Wave Rider felt over a longer distance. After a slow start, my running partner Hannah and I warmed up and found our groove. We wound up with a nice negative split run, even with the hills on the back half of the route. Even with the wind and cold, my feet felt fine and the upper mesh provided plenty of breathability without making my feet cold. Once again, they felt really good on the climbs, especially when I was digging in  and striking aggressively on the fore foot. My feet felt good during and after the run, no discomfort or "hot spots".

  I ran in the Wave Rider again Thanksgiving morning, as I met up with some friends for an impromptu "Gobble Hobble". What was supposed to be an easy three miler turned into a harder 5 mile run!  We fought off the 25 degree temp at the start and had a great run, talking and laughing as we wound our way through downtown. The last 2 miles some folks started feeling frisky, so the pace picked up. We were running at a good clip at that last mile, and the Wave Rider gave me some great cushion and support as we pounded our way to the finish of the run!

Me and the crew after the run. You can see those shiny white Wave Riders in the back!
 I am very impressed with the Wave Rider 17. I look forward to logging my road miles in them over the winter as I ramp up for the 2014 racing season. If you are looking for an every day training shoe with some good support and nice cushioning, I would definitely recommend checking them out!

For more information on the Wave Rider 17 and other Mizuno gear, visit their website:

Some nice grip on the soles as well!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Georgia Sky to Summit 50K

   My ultra travels took me to Sky Valley, Georgia on the 9th of November to run the Georgia Sky to Summit 50K, tucked away in the beautiful North Georgia countryside, just across the border of North Carolina. The weekend before I was at Pinhoti 100, helping crew/pace for my friend Jen, ( Read her race report here: which definitely got me pumped up for this race!
  The course had a bit of everything, climbs, water crossings, water falls, a lot of single track and a few miles of road thrown in too. Oh, and also 12,000 feet of elevation change!

 The 50K started at 7am. There was also a 8.5 mile run that started at 8am. The temperature was rather chilly in the morning, as I had to "de ice" the car in the hotel parking lot. It was a quick 10 minute drive from the hotel to the start, which was glorious!
  A little bit after 7am, after a short race briefing from the RD Sean, we set out. We would run on the road for about two miles and then get on the trail. We were climbing right from the start, so the cold was not an issue. We would  summit Rabun Bald (The 2nd highest summit in Georgia, at 4,700+ feet) twice. I took my time on the first ascent, power walking most of the climb. We then bombed down along a nice ridge line for a few miles. I was running in the middle of a pack of about ten runners, all of us bunched together. Thankfully, no one fell, or we would have all piled into one another. A guy at the front did stumble and go down once we had reached a flat section, but by then we had slowed a bit and everyone was able to avoid a pileup. We then were up and down for a while on a bit of technical and rocky trail. I was feeling good, although I was concerned that I had "Burned a match" running hard on the downhill section and used a bit more energy than I should have.

Grinding it out!

 I was seeing the leaders now, on their way back from the turnaround, and they looked strong. I began to see more and more runners, and their shouts of encouragement spurred me on. I had now arrived at the calf deep water crossing, and since there was no use in trying to tip toe around it, I plowed right through. The water was cold, but it actually felt good on my feet. I crossed another small creek and then hit the aid station at the turnaround. I grabbed a quick bite to eat, refilled my hand held and headed on my way. I crossed back through both creek crossings and tried to settle into a rhythm, knowing I would have to climb up to Rabun Bald again soon. I was relieved to see there were a fair amount of runners behind me, who I now passed by on their way to the turnaround. I was in between two packs of runners now, and would wind up running the second half of the race pretty much by myself.
  I kept grinding away, churning up to the summit of Rabun Bald for the second time.  The course went back a different way after the summit, and there was a wicked, technical descent  for about a half mile. This section really hurt! I took my time and finally got to some runnable sections and pressed on. What had started out as a bright sunny day had now turned to overcast skies as I came out onto Forest service road, which gradually wound it's way up for what seemed like forever.
   I finally got off the FS Road and back onto single track. I knew there was a final aid station right before we got back on the road with two miles to go, but it seemed like it took an eternity to get there. A light rain had started to fall now, and I was ready to get this race finished! I was passed by a few folks on that last single track stretch, and wound up catching up to a guy at the last aid station. We trotted out of the AS together, and began the quad searing descent down the gravel and paved road to the finish. It was good to talk to someone after those couple of hours of solitude! Gregg, it turned out, had hip replacement surgery over the summer, and now was running a 50K, which impressed the hell out of me. Great guy. He will be running the Bartram 100 on December 14th!

Gregg and I at the finish!
 I had made it. It was the longest time it had ever taken me to do a 50K, 8 hrs 47 mins. It made me realize just how flat we are here in the Raleigh area. We have a few hills, but that's about it. I have really come to enjoy running the more challenging races and look forward to training and running more in the mountains in 2014!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Virginian 6.6K Weekend

Last Saturday I took on a new distance as I ran in the Virginian 6.6K, a race put on by my friend Jen. The race was held in Bristol, Virginia and was set on the picturesque, rolling (and I MEAN rolling) hills of the Virginian Golf Club. I would be making a weekend trip of it all, starting out with a stop in Asheville, NC on Friday night to catch one of my favorite bluegrass bands, Town Mountain. If you like bluegrass, definitely check them out. The put on a great show!

We stayed over in Asheville Friday night, and headed out for Virginia Saturday morning. The race had a very friendly start time of 11am, so that gave us plenty of time to make the hour and forty five minute drive to Bristol.

We arrived in Bristol around 10am and made our way to the race site after a stop at the local Starbucks. I picked up my packet, got my bib on and decided it would be a good idea after looking at part of the course to do a proper warm up before the race! I am glad I did since the race started with a hill climb right off the bat.
  I made a decision NOT to wear my Garmin during the race. I did not want to worry about my time, I just wanted to run hard and have some fun. The horn sounded and up the hill we charged. I crested the hill, breathing hard already, a mere 2 minutes into the race. I had the run hard part down already, wasn't sure about the fun thing though.
 The hills kept coming throughout the entire race. Not being familiar with the course, I held back a little, not knowing if the next hill was going to be bigger than the last. The course had mile markers, which helped. I was feeling good after passing the 3 mile mark. I knew there was one last big hill right before the finish, having drove that part of the course on our way in. I hit the climb, came around the bend and saw the finish chute. I ran hard the rest of the way for a time of 35:33 for a little over 4.1 miles, good enough for 3rd place in Men's Masters and 17th place overall. (Gotta love small races!)

  I was happy with my time, and even happier that I ran hard up each and every hill along the course.With all the ultra running I do, I get paranoid that I can no longer run with any speed, so every now and then it is good to run short and fast! Thanks to Jen, I got my speed and hill work done in one shot!
  Post race I received a cool pint glass for my 3rd place, and also won a really nice wind jacket as a door prize!

 We hung out in Bristol and stopped in to my favorite stores, Mountain Sports Ltd. Always fun to shop there! We grabbed some lunch after that at 620 State in downtown. We then headed back to the hotel at Glade Spring to get some rest.

   We were up early Sunday morning  to meet some friends in Damascus to go out on a trail run along the Appalachian Trail. We got shuttled up to the trail head at Elk Garden, where we started in rain and fog.

Some of the group were going 24 miles all the way back into Damascus. Thankfully someone was also leaving their car at Bear Tree Gap, so there was the option of only running 12 miles. I knew I would be taking that option, since my quads were a little tired from the day before.
   After a mile or so the rain let up, and we settled into a nice run.  This is a really pretty section of the AT, and it was a blast to run! I felt good up to about mile 8, then I ground out the last 4 miles, walking the hills and running (okay, shuffling) the rest.

I was happy when we reached the car. I said goodbye to the folks who were continuing on down the trail, and we made our way back to Damascus to pick up my car. The most challenging part of the weekend was driving the 3 + hours back home after all this! It was well worth it though. A great weekend!
Happy trails! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Product Review: The Salomon Sense Mantra Trail Shoe

  Nothing like a good trial by fire to test the character of a shoe. Such was the case when my pair of Salomon Sense Mantra arrived at my door the day before the Hinson Lake 24 Hour Race. Out of the box and into the car they went, along with the mountain of other gear I usually over pack to take to any Ultra event.

  The Sense Mantra is a lightweight, low drop training shoe that is built for high mileage. It is made for midfoot and forefoot strikers and has neutral cushioning and promotes natural motion. Weighing in at 8.5 ounces, it is light yet durable.

 I started the 24 hour race in a different pair of shoes, but around 10 miles into the run I switched to the Sense Mantra. The course was a one and a half mile loop around a lake, so I could easily stop at the end of the loop and change gear and shoes if necessary. The good news is once I was in the Sense Mantra, I did not want to switch shoes! They felt very comfortable. The course was not very technical, but the surface was sandy and the Mantra provided more than enough grip along the trail. The tread on the Mantra is not as Knobby as it's cousin, the SpeedCross 3, but I have been on several single track runs with the Mantra and have had no issues with traction.
 I wound up running around 40 miles around the lake in the Mantra, and had absolutely no foot issues. No blisters or hot spots, no foot pain. I only wish my stomach felt as good as my feet. I stopped around 54 miles, 13 or so hours into the run with some GI issues.

  I really love the "QuickLace" system and the "Lace Pocket" at the top of the tongue, which allows you to tuck the excess lacing in a small pocket so it does not flop around and catch things along the trail. Another thing I was impressed with was the Seamless fit of the shoe. It really cradles the foot nicely and the tongue is anchored to the shoe as part of the "EndoFit" construction and does not move around during the run. It also helps to keep dirt and grit out of the shoe.

I have been using the Mantra for my daily trail run around another lake, the 5 mile Peninsula trail at Harris Lake near my house. This course has some nice rooty, technical sections, undulating terrain and lots of twists and turns.The Mantra does really well here also! Nice and stable, with good balance as well.
There is really nothing I don't like about the shoe, and I recommend it for anyone looking for a durable everyday trail shoe. It is also a good choice for those interested in going towards a lower drop and low cut profile shoe.

Learn more about the Sense Mantra here:

A happy boy and his Mantra at the lake after a run.  


I am not compensated for my opinions and the product was provided on a trial basis only.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Virginian 6.6K

On October 12th I will be running the Virginian 6.6K, a race  that supports cancer care at Bristol Regional Medical Center's J.D. and Lorraine Nicewonder Cancer Center. I am hoping to raise $250.00 for the cause. Please visit my donation page and consider making a donation! Thanks!

Here is the link to my donation page:  Gene's Donation Page

Learn more about the event:  The Virginian 6.6 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Product Review: INKnBURN Men's "Lust" Running shorts

The folks over at INKnBURN combine comfort and Art in their running apparel and their Men's Lust running shorts are a great example of that combination. These lightweight, durable shorts not only look good, but feel great at any distance.

  I initially took them out on a few short runs with my RunWorx training group, and loved their light feel and the way they fit. They are 3/4 thigh length, which I prefer over something longer or too short. ( Do not want to be the guy rockin the "Booty Shorts"!) They wicked the moisture well, standing up to the oppressive humidity of a Carolina summer day.

  I then brought them along with me on a trip to Virginia to run along the Iron Mountain Trail. We started the run off in a total downpour along the Virginia Creeper trail. The rain eased up by the time we got to the single track Iron Mountain Trail and I was impressed with how quickly the Lust shorts dried out. Even when they were soaking wet, I had no issues with chafing or discomfort.

 The Lust shorts have now become my "Go To" shorts for most of my runs. Since I wear them so often, I am constantly washing them. They have held up well after repeated trips to the washing machine. Another nice feature is that there is no irritating tag to deal with inside the shorts. Two handy front pockets for storing a key or gel is another plus.

  Overall I am very impressed with both the look and functionality of the shorts. I would highly recommend checking a pair out! 
Check out their Website here:                  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Iron Mountain Training Weekend

I was in Damascus Virginia this past weekend to do a training run for the Iron Mountain Trail Race on 8/31. I drove up from NC on Friday, about a 4 hour trip. The weather was great for the drive up, but that would not be the case for the remainder of the weekend.
  I was camping at Beartree campground in the Mount Rogers National Recreation area, a beautiful spot tucked right off Hwy 58.

The only sunny picture!
 I arrived at camp around 3pm and setup. I was going very minimalist, just my one man tent, Coleman stove and sleeping bag. I had a bit of food and some coffee and that was pretty much it. After I had everything together, I found the small "Lum Trail" right from the campground that lead up to the Iron Mountain Trail. Conditions were already pretty muddy along the trails, and I had a quick run/hike up and back, about 2 miles in total.

When I got back to camp I had some vegetarian baked beans and smart dogs for dinner, read a little and called it a night. The training run was set for 9am the next morning and I knew I would need to be well rested!
   Around 11pm or so I awoke to the distinct sound of rain pitter pattering on the tent. Then it increased, and by 11:30pm it was a full downpour with thunder and lightning . I kept waiting for the tent to start taking on water, but it held up great and I kept nice and dry. I drifted back off to sleep once the the thunder storm passed. The rain however, continued throughout the night.

   I woke up around 7am, fired up the stove and put on some coffee. A quick breakfast of hummus and tortillas, and I was good to go. I drove into town and met up with the Iron Mountain Trail Runner folks.

Ready to roll!
   We set out, running the first several miles on the Virginia Creeper Trail. Barely a mile into the run, the skies opened up on us. We ran the next several miles in the pouring rain, making our way alongside Laurel Creek, which was now raging due to all of the rainfall.

Angry Water!

 We crossed over hwy 58, where we got off the Creeper trail and onto a short single track trail that would connect to the Iron Mountain Trail. The Iron Mountain Trail was part of the original Appalachian Trail until they re routed the Appalachian Trail through the Highlands. We had our first nice climb here, up the rock strew trail which was now nice and muddy with tiny streams of water flowing down it!

I was originally toying with the idea of doing the 30 mile training run, but after struggling a bit on the climbs and taking a nice fall, I opted for the 16 miler instead. Coming down was no picnic either, having to maintain a Zen like level of concentration in order to navigate the difficult terrain.

Trail Love!
I finally got off the single track, crossed back over Hwy 58 and onto the friendly surface of the Creeper Trail. By now the rain had passed, the sun was out and I was hot! It was a slow run back into town, but once I finished, I felt good. A few of us hung out at the park and munched out and re hydrated. We then headed into Abingdon to volunteer at our friend Jen's 10K race at 6pm, which was run along the Creeper trail as well.
  I finally got back to camp around 8pm, hung out and read a little, then went off to bed. Thankfully there were only a few sprinkles of rain overnight and I dropped into a long, sound sleep.

   I woke up at 7am, made coffee and headed down to the RV section of the campground. I was going to do a short hike/run on some trail that my friend Beth had told me about. The Shaw Gap trail head was right at the host campsite of the RV section. While the tent campground was busy, this section was practically deserted. I hike about a mile up the Shaw Gap Trail, then it connected with the Iron Mountain Trail. Just off of that, I picked up the Chestnut Ridge Trail and hiked out a few miles on that. There were wild blueberry bushes dotted alongside the trail, but the fruit was about a week away from being ready to harvest. I turned back around, and by the time I had reached the intersection of the Iron Mountain Trail, it had begun to rain. Again. I came upon two mountain bikers and we joked about getting out early to beat the rain. Yeah right. I splashed my way back through the mud of the Shaw Gap Trail and into the campground and back to the car. I put my water logged shoes in the trunk with the other pair of trashed shoes from the day before. ( I had brought a total of 4 pairs, used them all!)
  After a brief stop in town to grab some coffee, I began the trip home. I am happy to report not a single drop of rain fell on the way back home!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Product Review: The July Kona Kase

   The good folks at Kona Kase sent me their July case to check out filled with yummy treats! Here is a review of what was inside.

Caveman Cookies:  Made with just Honey, nuts and berries, these were a tasty grain free, dairy free treat.

Garuka Bars: I really liked this one. Good taste and texture, they represent a good cause too! Check them out at

Barbara Llewellyn Granola: Another one I really enjoyed. Rolled oats, sliced almonds, sesame and pumpkin seeds, honey sweetened and very addictive!  Order some at

Body Glove Surge Gel: A good tasting Gel that delivers 150mg of caffeine. I took it on one of my long runs and it did the trick! No stomach issues or nasty after taste. either!

Perky Jerky: Unfortunately, being Vegan I had to pass on this. I did give it to my Paleo friend Amanda, who loves it! Check them out at

Enjoy Life:  Another winner here! Salty, sweet and crunchy, a nice blend of sunflower, pumpkin seeds and dried fruit. Great for an on the go snack!

Pro Bar Bolt Organic Energy Chews: Good stuff! Electrolytes, B vitamins, antioxidants and  complex carbs. Gluten free as well! Great to take on that long run or bike ride.

Health Warrior:  Their Chia Bar I really enjoyed. A great source of Omega 3's, antioxidants and plant based protein. Just 5g of sugar too!  Check them out here: 

 I enjoyed my Kona Kase so much that I have ordered my August Case and am eagerly awaiting it's arrival!

 Kona Kase is a great way to sample some really wonderful and healthy products! Be sure to stop by their web site and order one!  Use the code "GIFTSUMMER" to receive $5.00 off your first Kase!


 Twitter:  @konakase

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Grandfather Mountain Marathon 2013

Last weekend I headed back to Boone, NC to run the Grandfather Mountain Marathon for the second time. This was the 46th running of this race, which ends atop Grandfather Mountain at the Highland Games.
 Manly indeed!

Good thing he was not "commando"!
The race starts on the track at Appalachian State University then winds it's way up through the back roads to Grandfather Mountain. You even get to run a stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

   Last year's race was filled with heat and humidity, and all the stunning mountain views I could have seen were covered up by the thick air and mist. (Quite Scottish, I must say!) This years race was shaping up to be the same way. On the ride up Friday afternoon, the mountains were shrouded in fog and mist and the air was thick. We drove straight to packet pick up, then had dinner at a friend's beautiful mountain cabin right off the parkway. After we gorged ourselves, it was time to head to the motel and rest up. We got a good night's sleep and woke up at 5am and headed out in the pre dawn darkness. The Motel was very quaint, which meant they did not have a coffee maker in the room! So, no race day coffee. Bummer!
Me and the crew, ready to rock n roll!

 The race started at 6:30am Saturday morning, and after our 2 laps around the track at ASU, we hit the streets. The first mile or so we run through town, then make a right after the Bojangles which puts us on the back streets. Then the hills begin. A little something like this:

I wore my kilt for the race last year, but it became so heavy and cumbersome with sweat I had opted out of wearing it this year. I hoped it would not upset the Scottish Gods and that they would not smite me with a wayward bolt of lightning or falling tree branch!

The first few miles ticked off, and I was feeling well. The temps were a bit cooler than last year, but the humidity was the same. I was getting soggy by mile 5 and was happy not to be toting that kilt up the mountain with me. It was amusing to see three sets of painted mile markers on the ground along the course. Last year's start consisted of running only one lap around the track, while this year we ran two! So, the mile markers were about a 1/4 mile apart from each other. I was walking the hills, saving some energy for the back half of the race, and running the flats and downhills. Last year I struggled mightily on the front half of the course, but picked it up on the back half and finished strong. I felt some fatigue early on the course this year, but kept plugging away.
   Around the 10 mile mark we headed onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. Last year at this point, I felt like complete crap and walked most of this stretch. This year I kept a nice steady pace along the Parkway.
I looked at my Garmin, and I was right where I needed to be. Then the Garmin told me it had reached it's data limit (I never clear the history, even though I download it to the computer) and I did not have the patience or wherewithal to stop and mess with it. It began beeping incessantly, like some kind of ADD Galloway program, so I turned it off and kept going.
  We came off the Parkway at around mile 14, then up a nice hill and onto a gravel road which had another big climb on it. Right after the big climb last year I had revived myself and had a great run on the back half of the course. I was hoping for some of that mojo to return this  year.

 It didn't.

 Maybe this was payback for not sporting the kilt? My running shorts were now matted to my legs and my hands were getting "pruney" I was doing well with my hydration, but could have probably used some more calories. After being spoiled by ultra aid stations, I always forget that most marathon aid stations provide only water and Gatorade. I drank a UCAN shake prior to the start of the race, but did not have the means to take one at the halfway point. I did have a Vega gel on me and also a pouch of Justin's Almond Butter, which were rabidly consumed around mile 15.
  So now the strategy was to hold on and bring it into the finish. I got a little mental pick up when I crossed the 20 mile mark, but it was still slow going. There is a five and a half hour cut off to where you can finish the race inside the stadium where the highland Games are going on. Trust me, you want to finish inside the stadium and be cheered by hundreds of Scots! Those who finish after 5.5 hours have to settle for a finish outside of the stadium. Not the same.
  Finally I found myself at mile 25, walking with two guys I had caught up with on the last climb. The one gentleman wondered aloud if he could make the cut off by walking the last mile. I was not about to find out. I wished them well and began to haul ass towards the finish. I rumbled into the dirt entrance that led to the stadium. I was ahead of the cut off.  There is one last tiny hill you have to run up that puts you on the track inside the stadium. Spurred on by the cheers I bolted up the hill. That's when both my calves almost seized up on me. Was it the Scottish Gods mocking me? "Too humid for the kilt laddie? I'll show you!" Thankfully my calves recovered and I was able to run the lap around the track and finish strong.
On the track, heading for home!

 I finished in 5:23:20. I'm okay with it. My time last year was 5:07:44. Maybe there's something to that kilt thing after all! Despite the hills and humidity, this is such a great race and a lot of fun. I will be back next year. And I WILL be wearing the kilt!
Me and the crew post race. Notice no one is standing!

  Come out and join us next year! Grandfather Mountain Marathon Website
Be sure to wear a kilt!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Shoe Review: The Mizuno Wave Sayonara

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Mizuno.

You will have to wait one day after the fourth of July, but on July 5th you can declare your "Independence" from your heavy every day training shoe and pick up a pair of the Mizuno Wave Sayonara!

   Light and fast, the Men's Sayonara I tested weighs 8.1 ounces with a 10mm drop. (Heel/Toe 19/9) What I really like about them was the way my foot "sat" in them. There was the perfect amount of support without the bulky feel. There was also plenty of cushioning without the added weight as well. The Mizuno G3 Blown rubber sole is flexible and provides great traction as well.
Soles with Soul! (and Traction too!)
 The first run I did in the Wave Sayonara was a 3 mile road training run with my group from the gym. The Sayonara felt great right out of the box and my feet felt well supported and were not moving around inside the shoe at all. The sizing on these shoes are true, so I would not recommend going up a half size. I wear a size 11 and the the Sayonara I got in that size fit perfectly.
  The next day was speed work and the Wave Sayonara really shined here. We ran a Fartlek along the local Greenway with 2mins @ 7:15 pace with 2 mins recovery X 8. Even with the hammer down, my feet felt well supported and cushioned and best of all, I felt fast!
  I ran several more runs at distances of 3-5 miles at 3/4 effort and the Sayonara gave me a smooth, comfortable ride each time.
  The final test was the long run. I was interested in seeing if there were any "hot spots" that would develop on my feet over the course of a two hour run. I took the Sayonara out for a 12 miler in the North Carolina heat and humidity to see how they would hold up.
   I sweat. A lot. On a long run in the summer months I sweat enough to soak my socks and shoes clear through! This summer has gotten off to a hot start here in NC and the humidity has been awful. I was happy to find after 12 tough road miles in 80+ degrees and 90% humidity that my feet felt fine. My socks and the shoes were quite moist, but my feet were blister free and there were no hot spots. The upper mesh remained comfortable with no pinching or rubbing, and the tongue held it's ground the entire run. There were a couple of nice hill climbs on this run too, and the Sayonara's flex, support and traction on the front end of the shoe during the climb really stood out.    
Drying out and cooling off after the long run!
   This was my first experience running in Mizuno and I must say I was quite impressed! The Wave Sayonara is a great all around every day trainer that I would recommend to anyone. My Mezamashii experience was definitely eye opening!

Learn More about Mizuno Shoes and the Mezamashii Experience at

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Book Review: Got to Live, 923 Days to Remember by Jay Danek

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars 

Reeling from the sudden and unexpected death of his father on 9-23-2008, Jay Danek could have sat there and  let it continue to consume him. Instead, after the initial darkness, depression and anger, Jay decided to get up and get moving. "Got to Live" chronicles Jay's remarkable journey from this dark place to an inspirational 923 day run streak to honor his father's memory. Having previously not run a step, he discovers the healing power of running and his inner ultra runner is revealed.

    This book is a joy to read. Well written, it takes you along with Jay from his humble start, gaining his physical, emotional and spiritual footing in the McDowell Mountains to completing 100 mile ultra  races. While it normally takes me forever to finish a book, I tore through this book in only several sittings. That speaks volumes to this book's readability!
  Ultra runners will have many head nodding moments while reading this book, but you do not have to run a hundred miles to draw inspiration from Jay's tale of hard work, persistence and dedication.
  I strongly urge you to pick up a copy of "Got to Live". This is a very powerful book. Break out that beach chair, get a cold drink ( also a good idea to have a box of tissues) and treat yourself to some inspirational summer reading. Just be sure to get that run in first!

Buy "Got to Live" online: "Got to Live" on Amazon
Learn more about Jay:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The 12 Hour Treadmill Challenge


         Oddly enough, the idea for the 12 hour treadmill challenge came to me while I was running on a trail. Often referred to as the "Dreadmill" for it's mind numbing, boredom inducing repetition, it is often a last resort for most of us. Even on the best of days, I would only last about an hour on one without losing my mind. So as I ran along the trail that day I wondered if it would be possible for me to last 12 hours on a treadmill. If I could somehow recalibrate my brain to endure a 12 hour treadmill run, then a 1 hour run would feel like a piece of cake right? It was right around this point I began to question my own sanity.
  But the idea stayed with me. I began to think about what it would take to pull this off. If I tied it in with  a fundraiser and publicized it, that would put enough pressure on me not only to start it, but to finish it as well! I took the idea to my bosses at the gym, who had grown accustomed to my ultra running madness and always asked me every Monday what type of crazy running event I participated in over the weekend. They too questioned my sanity, but gave their approval. The next choice was to decide what charity to do this whole thing for. The choice was easy for me. The National MS Society. My friend Jen has MS, as well as some other folks that I know from the gym. Charity, check. Gym approval, check.  Date: Saturday, June 15th, 7am-7pm 
  Holy S**t!
   I worked social media pretty hard in the days up to the event, and also put up signs throughout the gym. The local chapter of the MS Society posted about it on their Facebook page as well. No turning back now!
  I got to the gym at 6:45am and was let in early to set up. I had a table, poster and some MS information that my friend Jen provided for me. Under the table was my cooler with hummus wraps, a few diet cokes and some fruit. I had some potato chips, raisins and peanuts and a generous supply of GenerationUCAN. Three water bottles, Nuun hydration tablets and some extra shorts, shoes and shirts. I also had my phone and Walkman W, which were both fully charged.

 I watched the clock strike 7am, and pressed the start button.

  As far as goals, it was mainly to survive 12 hours without breaking down physically or mentally. Physically, I knew it was not going to be a problem. It was the mental part that worried me. My main focus was to stay in the moment and take things an hour at a time. I would be doing a run/walk approach, as I was fearful I would go out too fast early and crash hard. I settled in, and focused on getting in about 4 miles in an hour. That would put me close to my mileage goal of 50 miles, which I thought was reasonable.
  The first few hours cruised by, the gym was busy and I was getting some good donations. I felt good, and was surprised that I was not bored. Lots of friends were stopping by to chat, so that made time go by. I was taking a GenerationUCAN shake every 90 minutes and keeping up with my hydration. I was also making a concentrated effort not to turn and look at the clock on the wall, which was a mere 5 feet away. Stay on the grind. Stay on the grind.

    12pm. 5 hours down! I was now starting to take in a bit of solid food, my homemade hummus wraps, which I must say were quite tasty! I had brought four pairs of shoes and the bulk of the miles so far had been in my Saucony Kinvara 4's. I was sticking to my goal of 4 miles in an hour too.

Grinding it out!

As the afternoon wore on, the gym began to empty out. My friend Tim, who has already ran 20 miles that morning, came down from Raleigh to join me for a few miles. Jen's husband Mark came by too, and the three of us ran and talked for a bit.
  Tim and Mark had left, and I guess it was around 4pm or so when I looked around the cardio deck at the gym and realized I was the only one there. I was still feeling pretty good, hydration and nutrition were good, although my pace had dropped slightly. My feet were a little sore, but I kept changing the grade on the treadmill to  alter my foot strike. I had switched to my Montrail Rouge and had broken out a diet coke to treat myself. Damn it tasted good! I was still doing quite well mentally, much to my surprise! Staying focused on an hour at a time and a mile at a time was working well so far. I kept grinding away. When I started to get tired, someone would come by and donate and thank me for what I was doing, which was a HUGE boost.
  5PM  Two hours to go!
 Several people had trickled into the cardio deck and were getting their workouts in. I was at a point now where I knew I could make it. Right after this revelation both my phone and Walkman died. Thank God the treadmill had a TV!
  6PM The final hour. I was still in the Montrail Rouges, and despite bringing nine different shirts, I had only changed shirts one time. I also had only taken three pee breaks, dashing downstairs to void then running back up before the machine reset. The treadmill did reset on me three times while I was running, but luckily I was able to scribble down the mileage each time so as to not loose track.
 Before I knew it, the announcement came over that the gym would be closing in 15 minutes. Home stretch!
    The gym was empty as the clock struck 7pm. I hit the stop button. I had made it! Mind and body intact! (well, for the most part!)
Total mileage:  46.25

 I gathered up my gear and staggered to the car. 12 hours on the treadmill had seriously messed with my proprioception! I got home, took a glorious shower and ate some dinner. My friend Tom, who owns the local Italian restaurant, was kind enough to stop by the gym with a order of linguine with garlic, oil and grilled veggies. I destroyed the pasta, slipped on my ProCompression socks, then promptly passed out.
  I had met the challenge and broke through some mental boundaries, but the best feeling was handing the donations over to Jen on Monday and getting a hug!
Thanks to everyone who stopped by to offer encouragement, ran a bit with me, donated onsite or online and kept me on the path for 12 hours!

12 Hours, 46.25 miles completed
Over $350.00 dollars raised on site
Please consider donating! Here is a link to my friend Jen's MS Fundraiser Page. Please note "Treadmill Challenge" when you donate!
Equipment used:
Freemotion Incline Trainer

Saucony Kinvara 4
Montrail Rouge
Salomon Speedcross 3
Innov8 F Lite 195


Brooks shorts, Runworx Tech shirt, Klean Athlete Tech shirt

GenerationUCAN Packets (Lemonade)
Corn tortillas with homemade hummus
Peanuts and raisins
Potato chips

Nuun Hydration tablets Citrus Fruit Flavor
Diet Coke 
 Media Distraction:
Sony Walkman W
Cell Phone
Thanks to MTV for airing a "Ridiculousness" marathon that kept me laughing and entertained!



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Road Trippin'

I was out in Bristol Virginia this past Saturday for a Salomon Shoe Demo/Trail Run put on by my friend Jennifer. I had not been out to the Bristol area before and as I am always looking for new places to run trail, this was a great excuse to hit the road!

  I drove out to Virginia on Friday, in some serious rain! Once I got into Va. from North Carolina the weather cleared up and by 4pm I was sitting at the hotel looking at a clear blue sky. I went into town to check things out and find the park where we would be running the next day. Jennifer had already marked the trail, so I ended up exploring about a mile of the six mile course. I had forgotten how much Virginians love their long ascents!  The trail was nice and muddy and looked like it was going to be fun to run on  and a great testing ground for trail shoes!

  Saturday morning I got up and headed to the park to meet Jennifer and help set up. The run was starting at 10am and it was going to be quite humid. The Salomon rep was there and I was going to be trying out a pair of the SpeedCross 3, which had what Jennifer described as a "Gnarly" tread, which would be great to test along the rolling, muddy single trail sections of the trail.
  The trail was awesome! Some great hills with nice downhill sections to bomb down. The SpeedCross gave me plenty of traction and felt super comfortable. Here is some video of me running along the single track section:

After the run we went back to the Mountain Sports Store for refreshments and food. It was awesome to meet the local trail runners and talk about the upcoming Iron Mountain  50 miler I will be running on Labor day weekend in Damascus, Va.!
 I got home early evening on Saturday, after a much more uneventful ride home. I was rather impressed with the Salomon  Speedcross 3, so I gave in and got myself a pair!


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Black Mountain Monster 24 Hour

 June first I ran the Black Mountain Monster, a 24 hour run along the trails and grounds of Montreat College in Black Mountain, NC.

The course was a 5K loop, consisting of a mix of single track, grassy field and a half mile of pavement. Some nice rolling hills thrown in there as well. I originally had planned to go out to Black Mountain on Friday night, but I wound up staying in town Friday to help work the GenerationUCAN booth at the Raleigh Ironman Expo. So, we left at the ass crack of dawn on Saturday morning. The 24 hour individual run had a very user friendly start time of 10am, so that certainly helped as far as making the four hour drive on the same day as the race.
 We arrived around 8:30am and set up our little staging area in "tent city" where the start/finish line was. My friend Hannah accompanied me on the trip to help crew for me and maybe run a few loops to keep me company as well. We noticed we were one of the only people not to have a canopy or tent. I seemed to recall the forecast was calling for a chance of rain, but not until Sunday, so we should be fine, right?
 We could feel it getting warm already at 9am, so I knew it would be a long day (and night). At 9:30am I had my Generation UCAN shake, some Klean Electrolytes and got ready for the start. My friends Andy, Beth and Kelly were also running the 24, so I would at least be able to see some familiar faces along the way.
 True to form, the race started and I immediately went out too fast on the first loop, jacked my heart rate up and became a sweaty mess. Only 23 hours and 30 minutes to go, you *&^%$% idiot!
  Lap number 2 was slower, and I was already struggling to find a rhythm. The first six hours were just a struggle for me. Nothing was in sync. When my heart rate was good, my legs were tired. When my legs felt good, my breathing was crappy. The heat was taking it's toll and I knew that would have a bigger effect further on into the night.
Perking up!

  Things finally seemed to get better by late afternoon, when a nice breeze had picked up. I was getting in some good laps, walking the hills and running the downhills and flats. I was doing good with hydration, keeping my hand held full and drinking often. I had changed into a dry shirt, switched out of my Altra Lone Peak 1.5 and into my Saucony Kinvara 4 and stayed on the grind. It was slow going. I kept thinking about that old Aerosmith song "Chip away at the Stone". That phrase became my mantra of the day.

 I finally hit the 50K mark after about eight hours. Ughhhh.  I was taking a lot of breaks at the start/finish area, mainly to grab a UCAN shake or a bit of Hummus, fill my water bottle and towel off a bit.
  Hannah had joined me for several laps at this point, and that was a huge boost. Now it was getting dark, so Hannah took a break to get some sleep. I put on my headlamp and headed back out. I was walking quite a bit at this point, but I was still moving, tacking on the miles. I knew I would not beat my PR of 86 miles at Hinson Lake 24 from last year, so I set my sights on 100K. Things were going okay thru the early part of the night, then around 1:30am somewhere near my 50 mile mark, it began to rain. Just a few drops at first, then it picked up to a steady rain. I immediately thought of Hannah, who can sleep rather soundly, laying out there in the field, along with my gear, getting soaking wet.
  I picked up the pace and rumbled into the start/finish area to find Hannah already evacuating herself and the gear to a spot underneath a canopy where the musicians had played earlier in the day. While not completely soaked, pretty much all my gear was depressingly moist. I hung out under the shelter waiting to see if this rain was going away. It did stop, only to pick back up  minutes later. I was three laps away from 100K, but I was done. 17 laps, 85K, 52+ miles.
 We schlepped our gear up the hill to the car and decided rather then try to drive back home at 3am, we would grab a nap in the car and head out first thing in the morning. What followed was three hours of restless rotation, trying to find a comfortable spot in the car. By 6am I had enough, and we drove into town to get gas and grab a cup of coffee before the trip home.
  Several of the local police officers were in the convenience store drinking coffee when we strolled in. We looked rough! It probably looked like we has just come off a Meth bender. I am surprised we were not held for questioning!
Coffee Please!
  The ride back home was an endurance challenge in itself, but we made it home safe and sound. Although I was somewhat disappointed not to get more miles in, I didn't get injured and I learned a few things. There are worse ways to spend a day.  I will be back at the Black Mountain Monster Next year, shooting for 100K and beyond!

My Endurance Hummus Recipe:
1 15oz can of Chick Peas, drained and rinsed
Juice of a Lemon
2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced
3 Tbls. Tahini
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
Place first 5 ingredients food processor and pulse to blend. Then with machine running, add small amounts of water until desired consistency  is achieved.
You can also add in half an Avocado in final stage of blending.
Sprinkle with Paprika or ground cumin.

I usually spread this on corn tortillas and keep them in my pack for a quick snack along the trail!