Sunday, December 13, 2015

Race 13.1 Race Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

One Epic Run 24 Hour Race Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Technology and Exercise

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

Monday, February 16, 2015

Uwharrie Mountain 40 Miler 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 I was a happy boy.

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

Equipment used:

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

Nutrition and Hydration:

Generation UCAN
Energy Bits
UGo Bars Anutter flavor
Elete Electrolytes Citrilyte

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


It's only 8:28pm, but it feels like 2am!

The day started at 5:30 am this morning when I taught boot camp class.I have a dedicated group of regulars that make the sacrifice and get into the gym for class every Wednesday morning at the crack of dawn so I can thrash them. I found time after class to actually get in a upper body circuit for myself! I debated about running right after that, but I decided to wait until the afternoon when conditions would be more desirable!

I felt tired on my way into Raleigh, where I was going to run before I had to be at Capital RunWalk running store at 2:30pm for a GenerationUCAN demo. The run got off to a rather sluggish start, (at least it sure felt like it!) as I set out from the North Carolina Museum of Art. My plan was to run from the Museum to the Trenton Gate entrance of Umstead State Park. By mile two I as feeling better and settled into a nice pace and wound up with a negative split for the run.

It was then off to teach a "Tone and Sculpt" class at 5:30pm. I got home at around 7pm, wolfed down some Vegan Mac & (Non) cheese, and avocado and some fruit. Since I had missed a few days of blogging as part of the #writeandRun31 Challenge, I knew if I did not sit down immediately after dinner and hammer this out, I would be out for the night.

Tomorrow it's up at 4am, first client at 5am. Multiple run Thursday!!


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fellowship of the Idiots Run

My friend and State RRCA rep Peter puts on the "Fellowship of the Idiots" run each year in January. People use it as a last long run before the Myrtle Beach Marathon in the second week of February. I was using it this year as a tune up for the Uwharrie Mountain 40 miler. The run is 19.7 miles, starting at the YMCA in Albemarle, NC and going to the summit of Morrow Mountain, then back again. The delightfully early start time of 5:30am is a nice touch!

This morning it was rainy and 35 degrees, which felt balmy compared to last year's temp of 15 at the start!

At the start with Steve and Amy!

At the summit!
On the way back
  I was happy with this years performance. I ran a lot more on the way back than I did last year, and did not feel too fatigued. The 2.5 hour car ride home was a little tough on the legs, but I stopped twice to stretch out.

My coveted sweatshirt from last year, when I was a "first time" Idiot!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Running Bunker

The great thing about running a lot, be it in training or races, is that you accrue a lot of gear. Well, at least I do! Some might see my fondness for collecting running shoes as a bit of a problem, but I rationalize that I could be spending that money on meat and alcohol like I did in the old days. ( I quit both meat and beer/alcohol on the same day about seven years ago )
I have been lucky enough to have received some shoes and gear for free in exchange for reviewing them on the blog, and work with some really great companies that support me as well.

So, here are a few shots of what I call the "Running Bunker", a room downstairs in the house where I try to keep all my gear in a relatively organized manner! It also doubles as my office, so there are plenty of notes, training plans and books adorning the room as well.

Problem? What Problem?


Assorted hanging stuff

Books, compression and more!

A frequent visitor to the bunker!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The 1000 Mile Club

Last night at our North Carolina Roadrunners Club first quarter meeting we handed out shirts for everyone in the club who ran 1000 mile or more in 2014.

Although I am not in the picture, (Someone has to take it!) I did earn a shirt myself by logging 1,660 miles for 2014.

Do you guys have any mileage goals for 2015?

FYI: The dog in the picture is named Chester. He is a 1000 mile club member and actually had the highest overall mileage  for the club with 2,643.3 miles. Looks like I have some work to do to catch Chester in 2015!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Top 10 Reasons I Run

Inspired by a writing prompt from Christine at Write and Run 31!

The top ten reasons I run: ( in no particular order)

10: It's cheaper than therapy

9: I like to eat

8:  I have three daughters. It is quiet in the woods

7:  I do not want to look like the older gentlemen in the water aerobics class at my gym

6:  It pairs perfectly with my Catholic guilt/suffering

5:  A new pair of running shoes is WAY cheaper than a new sports car (midlife crisis)

4: You get to wear tights in public!

3:  To inspire others! ( sorry, I had to have one "New Agey" response)

2: To quiet the voices

1:  To enjoy the beautifully simplistic act of running.

Why do you run?

Monday, January 19, 2015


"He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty."  - Lao Tzu

 This is one of my favorite Lao Tzu quotes. I try to apply this message not only in my running but in life as well.  I like to think I am pretty self motivated, but there are times when I have to revert back to Lao Tzu or other inspiration/motivational quotes I have gathered over the years.

How do you get motivated? What is your favorite quote, phrase or expression that gets you fired up and out the door for a run?

Another all time favorite!

Two runs completed this morning, both with clients. I went with one of my quick go to breakfasts:

3/4 Cup Water (or almond milk)
1/4 Cup McCann's Quick and Easy Irish Oatmeal
Bring water to boil and add Oatmeal. Bring heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and stir in:
1 Tbsp of Almond Butter
Top with fresh berries

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hills are your friend

 Today's workout was some hill repeats. I headed out to Umstead State Park this morning in the rain to get them done. 8 miles total, and some nice climbs along the way.  Hills are my friend!

Umstead Hill Work

At noon I had to go to the gym for youth cardio orientation, a cool program we have there that trains kids in the "tween" years about how to use the treadmill, elliptical and stationary bikes. I love working with the kids, and we keep things light and fun.

The rest of the afternoon was spent with an eye on the football games and working on my runner's training plans for the upcoming week. I did get some time to foam roll and whip up some Red Lentil hummus too!

Here is where you can find the recipe:

Judging from this shot, I do not think it is going to be a late night for either me or the pup!

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Getting up and going for my 7 mile run with one of my clients this morning was more of a challenge than normal due to the fact I did not got to bed until 3:00am last night. I would like to tell you that it was from some epic good time adventure, but I was at the gym where I work helping move equipment so they could come in and clean the floors.

I was meeting my runner at 9am, back at the gym of all places. I took a couple hand fulls of Energy Bits, washed them down with some coffee and off we went for our 7 mile run into downtown. I must admit I felt pretty good. I have really tightened up my diet since the start of the new year, cutting out almost all processed food and incorporating a huge green salad for lunch most days. I can feel the difference in my running already. I had a lot of holiday crap that needed to be detoxed (cookies etc.)
and I am feeling lighter and stronger as a result. But back to the run!

We were not even a half mile into it when we spotted something I had never come across alongside the road in all my years of running: A ( I am assuming it was used) pregnancy test! I would be hard pressed to think of anything quite that random I have spotted on the roadside.

 Oh yeah, there was that toilet!

So, I ask you my fellow running compatriots, what is the weirdest thing you have ever come across during a run?

Leave your answer in the comments section below!

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Lots of running today. First client was at 5am, we got in a good hour long run. The forecast was for black ice, but luckily the streets were fine at 4:30am when I set out to meet Jamie for run #1.

Run #2 was at 7am. a negative split run of four miles with Hannah.

Run #3 was at 4pm with Ted. 1 mile warm up, then 1k at 5K pace with three minute recoveries. Four times. Then a 1 mile cool down. I ran the first 1K with Ted, then let him handle the other three. It's good to be the coach sometimes!

This evening I had a delightful session with the foam roller, followed by some quality time in my ProCompression calf sleeves.

Then a few more things to catch up on for NC Roadrunners, this post and some emails.

Get up tomorrow and do it all over again!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2 Hour Delay

Due to the inclement weather we had this morning (freezing rain/minor icing) everything here in the Raleigh area was put on a two hour delayed opening. I was scheduled to teach a boot camp class at 5:30am at the gym, but that was cancelled and the gym was not opening until 8am. I was looking forward to sleeping in a bit but SOMEONE did not get the memo about the delay:

Well, since I was now awake, I headed down to the gym. (The roads were fine by the way) The gym was empty, so I got in some weight training for myself ( MUST do more of this) and some burpees to get the blood really flowing. I then took to the streets for my run. Traffic was still light, and the temps were hovering right around 30 degrees, with a delightfully nipping wind to make things extra special. 4.15 miles done!

Back at the gym, I put one of my runners through some 400M repeats on the treadmill and then whipped up on two of my other clients with this Lovely routine:

Warm up 5 minutes at recovery pace on Treadmill

1.5 mile run for time (treadmill)
20 Air squats
20 burpees
1 lap around the gym track (200Meters)

Do a total of five rounds.

5 minute cool down at recovery pace.

Yes, I was cussed at.

But they still love me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Weather Event

So we are having our annual winter weather alert and panic here in the south. Now mind you, the precipitation has not even begun yet, but school openings are already delayed two hours and the gym will not be opening until 8am. So much for me teaching my 5:30am boot camp class!

The past two days have been rainy and cold. I even ran inside on the treadmill this morning! I did run out in the rain at the Greenway in Raleigh yesterday afternoon before our NC Roadrunners Board meeting. On my drive into Raleigh, at one of the main intersections there was a homeless guy asking for money. Since it was raining and my Catholic guilt washed over me, (plus the light turned red) I gave the guy a few bucks. He was very gracious. I would like to think he spent that money on some fresh organic produce, but I will not get my hopes up. While I was waiting for the light to change I noticed that I was the only one in a line of about twenty cars that gave this guys anything or even acknowledged his presence.  I imagine if that were a stray puppy wandering the median I am certain there would have been 8-10 people stopped to help out. Now I will be honest, there has been a time or two I have sat in my car staring straight ahead, trying to avert my eyes to the man or woman standing in the median soliciting, praying for the light to change. Regardless of their circumstance or how they got to that point, we still have to remember that is a person out there. Hell, a few more stupid choices during my youth and it could well have been me out there in the middle of the road.

So I am making it a point during this Write and run 31 streak to take a moment each day and be thankful for the things I have.

Another phenomenon here in the south when there is a winter weather advisory is for folks to rush out to the stores and buy milk, bread and eggs, which is fine with me because there is always plenty of kale, tofu and almond milk left for me! Another perk of plant based living!!

My yummy Organic Fuji apple I had for an afternoon snack!


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Run Day

Today I was out early to Umstead State Park to meet up for a run with two of the runners that I coach. When we met in the parking lot at 8am it was a crisp 17 degrees! We did a quick warm up and off we went. We ran the Reedy Creek/Turkey Creek Bridle trails, which are a wide crushed gravel trail with lots of really nice hills on the second half of the 9 mile-ish loop. We had a great run, with Meghan and Ted both thrashing the old coach, which made me very proud indeed.

Giddy students after kicking their coach's butt!

After the run I stopped at Starbucks for my post run Grande Pike with soy. Members of my family, which know my proclivity for post run coffee, texted their order in as well.

Riding with the fam's precious take out order!

Lunch was a nice big salad, and the afternoon was spent putting together next week's training for all my runners, setting the agenda for the Roadrunners Club executive committee meeting and catching some NFL playoff action. A fine way to finish out the week!

Staying Green and Mean in 2015!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Meet and Greet

Full day today. I taught boot camp class this morning at 8am, then spin class at 9am.Both classes were full and people were motivated and ready to get to work! After the gym I then went into downtown Raleigh to meet up with some fellow No Meat Athlete folks  for brunch at the Irregardless Cafe.

 I had a great time getting to meet and talk with other plant based athletes! Great conversation and food. It was interesting to hear every one's journey to a plant based life style. It reminded of what it must be like when refugees from another country finally get together and can converse in their native tongue. In this case the language was plants. ( and running too!)

Inspired by this meet up, I got home and got into some running gear, ready to tackle a short run to keep my #writeandrun31 streak alive. The run was delayed however, by my daughter's arrival at the house and her announcement that one of her tires on her car was making a "hissing" noise. That "hissing" noise was air rapidly leaving the tire. We quickly took the car to the local (5 minutes away, thankfully) tire shop and got her two slightly used tires to replace the completely worn out ones on the front of her car. I should mention here that she was supposed to have done this a week ago, but it would seem she has inherited her father's fondness for procrastination. To add to the challenge, she was supposed to be at work at 3pm, and this all occurred at 2:30.

With that crisis averted, I returned home and got in a quick 3 mile run from the house.

Post run I took the dog outside for some well deserved play time. I got in a good round of stretching and foam rolling too. With the temps dipping, I headed to the kitchen to whip up some lentil soup. The recipe was easy, and it only took about a half an hour to make.

I will be heading to Umstead Park in the morning to run some trail!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Freedom Friday

This morning I took one of my newer runners out for her 8 mile long run. She is fairly new to running but has made some really nice progress and we have built up her base mileage nice and slow. The 8 miler would be a distance PR for her. The other challenge this morning was the wonderfully brisk 30 degree weather, which wasn't bad except for the steady 10 mph wind out of the south, which made it feel more like 20. I always make it a point to focus on the mental side of running with my athletes, preaching to them to "Stay present" and "Stay in the moment" I have even gotten a few of them to run without their music and to focus on their breathing and their body while they run instead of tuning it out!

The other day I listened to a great podcast on mastering mindfulness in sports and life with Rich Roll  featuring Micheal Gervais. Here is the link:  Rich Roll Podcast

Another great source for me has been "Brain Training for Runners" by Matt Fitzgerald.

I had the pleasure of hearing Matt speak at the "Running Summit East" last year in New Jersey. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to expand the mental side of their running.

So I always end up peppering my runners with phrases and proprioceptive cues during our runs, but when all else fails I resort to my favorite, time honored, P Funk inspired phrase: "Free your mind... and your ass will follow."

Works every time!

Happy (Freedom) Friday!!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Road Trip

Today I brought my daughter back to school at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, which is about a 3.5 hour drive west of where we live. We left at 6am. It was a brisk 12 degrees at home, and when we arrived at Boone it was 5 degrees with a light coating of snow, which made the hilly approach to her dorm quite interesting! My little front wheel drive Suzuki SX performed admirably, probably due to the weight of all the food that her mom packed for her to take back.

I had wanted to go out to Moses Cone State Park, which was near the University, to run some trail. I wove my way through town and got onto the back mountain road that takes you to the park, only to find it covered with snow and some really slick spots too. I abandoned the attempt about one mile into the four mile trip, not wanting to test the limit of the car's  winter mountain capabilities. I got back to the highway and headed east towards home. I did have a back up trail, which was in the town of Wilkesboro, NC, about 30 minutes east of Boone. The W. Kerr Scott Reservoir has some really nice single track trail, and it was right on my way home. When I arrived there it was a balmy 16 degrees and I had the entire trail system to myself! I got in a nice easy 4.5 mile run along the Dark Mountain trail and parts of the Over Mountain Victory Trail as well.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Saint Ultra?

I often wonder if my ability to run long distances stems from the fact I was raised Catholic. We Catholics love to suffer. I remember my dad would have to be completely incapacitated and near death before he would even consider seeking medical attention, all the while waving us off and telling us he was fine. I also recall the incredulous looks my mother would give me when I proclaimed I was sick and could not go to school. "You're not sick! Now get up and get your butt to school!"Anyway, it wasn't anything a little Vicks Vapor Rub and aspirin couldn't cure. (even the aspirin , Saint Joesph's, was Catholic themed!)

I think those early experiences have helped me manage pain and fatigue, and through the miracle of the Catholic Church, even embrace it! Throw in some classic Catholic guilt on top of that ("I will let everyone down if I don't finish) and you have a recipe for ultra success.

As I became older, it became less about speed and more about how FAR I could run. I still get brief flashes of panic that I will never be able to run at an 8 minute per mile pace ever again, which usually manifests itself in a neighborhood "tempo run" where I take off like a jackass and try to make 24 minutes for my 3 mile loop. I can still do it, but damn, it hurts!

I am happy being a "grinder". Give me a difficult course with lots of rocks and elevation gain and I am a happy boy. The trail is my church now.

Today's plummeting temps called for something hearty and warm for dinner. I whipped up a "southwest" Tofu scramble with potato.
 2 medium potatoes, Diced
1 small onion, diced
1 lb of firm tofu, cubed

1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/4 Cup of Medium or hot salsa
Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt
Ground Pepper
Daiya Cheddar style shreds (optional)

Saute the potatoes in a few Tablespoons of Olive or coconut oil until tender and slightly browned. Add onion and continue to saute for several more minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the tofu, turmeric and cumin and stir gently to combine. Stir in Salsa and heat everything through. Season with salt and pepper. As an option, you can top it with some Daiya cheddar shreds!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Progress through Consistency

Being a fitness instructor at a gym, this time of year is what we call the "Silly Season". The gym is overrun  with  whole crop of fresh faced members, who are pumped up to make serious changes in the new year and to get in shape. Sadly, by Valentine's Day, the gym reverts back to normal and the"Resolutionists" disappear and the regulars settle back in to their normal routines and regain  access to all their favorite equipment.

  With the people I train and the runners I coach, the successful ones are the consistent ones. It is the same for my running. I always strive to maintain a base throughout the year, with peak training times and also recovery time as well. Hence the term "Progress through Consistency". The old catch phrase " New Year, New You" has the word "Year" in it, not "month", so be consistent and don't "flame out" by Valentine's Day!

Some of my "Regulars" at my 5:30am boot camp!

I was quite excited to find some dandelion greens on sale at my local Kroger supermarket the other day. I am trying to incorporate a nice big salad each day for lunch into my routine, and this find certainly helped motivate me!

kale, romaine, dandelion greens, broccoli, roasted red pepper, chic peas and walnuts. A pinch of pink Himalayan salt and some ground pepper. Dressed with some extra virgin olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Write and Run 31 Challenge

So I stumbled across this great idea on the No Meat Athlete page called the Write and Run 31 Challenge.   One month. Two simple things. Every single day. Basically, you commit to running a certain amount each day and writing ( either on a blog, journal etc.) for a specific amount of time or words.  The run thing is not a problem for me. The writing (as you can tell from my lack of updates) will be the real challenge.

 I figured I would start today with a brief update on the second half on 2014, so here goes.

The highlight of my year was completing the Grindstone 100 (101.85 miles actually) Trail Race.

The race started on Friday October 3rd at 6pm, so you got to run over TWO nights, not just one. We started in the rain, it got dark quickly. we ran an extra mile and a half when a group of us missed a turn. Because of that, I almost missed one of the first hard cutoffs. Scared shitless from that, I ran like a madman and got 1 hour ahead of the cutoff two aid stations later. I ran through the rest of the first night without incident, and was happy to see daybreak still feeling pretty good.

 I hit the turn around point at about 10:30am, which was a huge mental boost. I would pick up my first pacer at mile 65 and I was looking forward to having some company. I Got through the second night thanks to the awesome help of my pacers Hannah and Mo. Hannah ran with me from mile 65 to 80 and my ultra buddy Mo took me home the last 20 miles. It got really cold that second night, with some howling winds smacking us along the exposed ridge lines and summits. The huge and endless rocks, combined with the 23,000 feet of climbing had me wore out by the last 10 miles, but I stumbled my way over the rocks to the finish line in 35:54:19. This race typically has around a 30% drop out rate, so surviving this beast was a huge victory for me!

Post race, in the car. Delirious but Happy!

One week later (like an idiot) I was part of a 12 person relay team for the "Tuna 200", a relay race starting from Raleigh, NC and ending at the ocean at Atlantic Beach, NC. Mercifully, I had only three legs to run, 4.6 miles, 5.4 and 3 miles. I did not run a step in between Grindstone and the relay, so the first leg I ran was quite interesting! It was in the afternoon, and it had gotten quite hot. It was not pretty! I rebounded and had a better second leg, which was at night when the temps were cooler. The last three mile run was basically an exhausted stagger near the beach. Thank God I had speedy teammates! Our team completed the 200 miles in 29 hours, 28 minutes, for an average pace of 8:48 min/mile.

Staggering through the heat on my first leg.

I finished up the year with two more races, a 50K in November and a 24 hour run in December. It was a good year!