Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Wapack

One of my goals for 2017 is to get out and run some new trails.  On top of this, I have a goal to run the entire trail systems when possible.

Southern Trail Head - Mnt Watatic
Last August I got a taste of the Wapack trail in north central Massachusetts / Southern NH.  This past weekend I got back out and ran the full 21.5 miles.  The Wapack starts in Ashburnham, MA, first climbs Mnt Watatic, then Pratt Mnt, New Ipswich Mnt, and through Windblown CC Ski area.  The second half of the run climbs Temple Mnt, Holt Peak, and concludes with ascents of both Pack Monadnock and North Pack Monadnock.  It has some gnarly terrain and weighs in with over 4700' climbing.  This is not your beginner run.

In order to make this run work with our schedule, I had to get up at 4:30 Saturday morning.  That got me to the trail head by 6 with a 5 hour buffer to complete the traverse.  While it was a little wet from Friday's monsoon, it was fairly cool out (55-60).  The first mile was tough one with nearly 600' climbing.  I did a combination of running and hiking trying to keep my HR in check.

Windblown Ski Area
The next few miles weren't too bad until I arrived at the climb for Pratt Mnt.  It wasn't that long a climb, but when you are scrambling on all fours with a 35+% grade, it is difficult to move fast.  Pratt to Ipswich, to Barrett, to Windblown is mostly ridge line with a few hundred feet of rolling technical terrain.

The following four miles presents a nice break with a less technical flatter section.  The honeymoon
ends at mile 13 as you begin the Burton peak ascent.  This mile packs another 570' of climbing.  Going into this climb I had gotten my average pace back under 12 minutes per mile after a couple of 15 minute miles early on.

From here on out my pace started to suffer.  Not sure if I was getting tired or just mentally burnt from all of the technical terrain.  I also knew I had another 7+ miles to go and needed to keep some in the tank.

North Pack Summit
Just after mile 17 you cross route 101 and pass by the parking area for the southern ascent of Pack Monadnock.  As an ultra runner, I always get a chuckle when I pass through a lot like this and see people out for their hike when this represents just a small chunk of my day.  From here, Pack Monadnock is under 2 miles with about 600' of gain.  If you continue on North
Pack it is another mile and half with another 400+ feet of climbing.  Not too bad a day hike.

As I began the ascent I caught a group of early 40 something yr old men decked out in hiking gear complete with trekking poles.  As went bombing by them one of them yelled, "Out for a morning jog?" and retorted with "Yeah, started at Mnt Watatic" and watched his jaw hit the floor.

Northern Trail Head
After crossing mile 20 and knowing the end was near, I was confronted with a crazy technical descent.  I dropped over 600' during the 21st mile and had to be extremely careful on the wet rock before finally making it to the trail head.

In general, I am really happy with how the run went.  I never really bonked or had trouble continuing. 

Things to work on
- Ascending and descending technical terrain.  I just don't do it enough.
- Fueling and hydrating.  I drank 1.5 liters of Tailwind and only consumed about 60-80 calories per hour.  I need to get this up closer to 200 once the longer runs come in to play.  
- Enjoy the scenery.  I spent to much time trying to make sure I keep moving forward even though this wasn't a race.  

At no point during the run was I interested in running back, but maybe I do the race next year.  

What's Next
This run was a test to see if I think I am ready for a single day Pemi Loop, a traverse that has been on bucket list for a while now.  The Pemi packs 29.5 miles with a over 10,000' of climbing.  Date still TBD, but I think I will be ready for it in July sometime. 

- Scot

Monday, June 12, 2017

100 Mile Training Starts Today

Before I get into my 100 mile training plans I must briefly recap the first 5 and half months of this year.

Charity Update
On December 31st, Amy and I set a goal of raising $10,000 in 2017 for NF Northeast for research
Fundraising snapshot - June 2017
and to help those coping of NF.  At the time, we thought this was really aggressive, but decided that if you are really going to go after something you need to go big.

I am happy to say that with the help and generous donations of our friends, family, and my employer's (Cisco) matching gift program, we have achieved that goal and it was roughly 7 months ahead go schedule.

Amy and I are not stopping now.  We have both committed to run the Falmouth Road Race (August) with NF Northeast / raise another $2000 and we both will be participating in the Coast to Cure NF Bike event (September).  We are greatly looking forward to these.

26 X 1 Club Challenge
Location: Medford, MA
Date: 6/11/2017
Distance: 1 mile
Goal: 4:59 
Actual: 5:00

In June of ever year my running club, SRR, holds a race called the 26 X 1 Club Challenge.  The concept is quite simple, you have a relay team of 26 people running 1 mile each (1 additional person runs the difference so that relay is a full marathon).

In 2014, I crushed my PR (by 17 seconds) and broke 5 for the first time.  Going into the race this year, I simply wanted to prove to myself that I still had a sub 5 minute mile in me.

Post race libations at The Pub
Over the past 3-4 weeks I have been attempting to dial in this pace and have done a number of track workouts: 1000 meter repeats, 400 meter repeats, and even a few 200 meter repeats.

Going into the race today I was ready.  The plan was the same as always: start out in the low 70's, try to remain under 2:30 at the half and 3:45 at the 1200, and the finish with a strong kick.

I started out a little quick with a 69 second first lap and was at 2:27 at the half.  Pretty much right on target.  I slowed a little too much during the third lap and was at 3:47 at the 1200 and had my work cut out for me.  I closed with a 73 and handed the baton off in exactly 5 minutes.

While I would have loved to have gone sub-5 again, I am happy with the result and happy to know that I can really kick it into gear when I need to.

100 Mile Training
Since the Boston Marathon I have not been following a training plan. I was trying to keep it simple; get in some speed work, a long run here and there, and have some fun while keeping the weekly milage between 30 - 50.  For the most part I obeyed this.  I got in some good speed work (see above), a few good train runs (The Fells and the Western Greenway), and a long run of just under 24 miles.

While I enjoyed this brief back off, I am eager to get into my next cycle.  Tomorrow I start my 17 week ramp up for the Hennepin 100. It is broken into four blocks with a recovery week every fourth week.  This plan has me reaching a new weekly high of 117 miles and a new longest run of 66 miles. It has me tackling three sets of gnarly terrain with major league back to back runs.

While I am a little scared of this plan, I am also excited about it.  I tried to incorporate everything that I have learned about endurance training over the past ten years into; balance of speed, volume, consistency, race specific training, and to keep it interesting and fun.

While it is doubtful that I will hit it exactly, you have to start somewhere so you mind as well dream big.

- Scot

The Hennepin 100 Training Plan - V1

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Comedy Night to Benefit NF and the Becca Pizzi 5K

Comedy Night to Benefit NF Northeast

On April 29th, we had our first annual Comedy Night to Benefit NF Northeast.  The show was held at Beth El Temple in Belmont and thanks to Leilani Germain and Ameriprise Financial 100% of ticket and raffle sales went directly to NF Northeast.

Everyone was fed well with Pizza from Nick's Place II, Asian Cuisine from Shine, veggies from Wilson's Farm, bread from Iggy's, hummus and dips from Samira's Homemade, and beverages courtesy of Star Market.  To top that off we had Moozy's Ice Cream served by the one and only Becca Pizzi (Who was putting on a race the next day).

The two part show, by Improve Troupe Improvised History was an absolute blast.  They even got the crowd involved in the second half where they poked fun at runners, cyclists, and triathletes, which made up about a third of the crowd.

Following the show, Karen Peluso, the Executive Director of NF Northeast, spoke a little bit about NF and then lead us through an awareness video where the whole crowd said "The word is Neurofibromatosis." (Click here for more on #TheWordIs campaign).

Huge shout out to Improvised History, Leilani Germain and Ameriprise Financial, and everyone that donated items, food, money, and / or their time. We couldn't have done it without you.

Looking forward to next year's show.

Becca Pizzi 5k
Location: Belmont, MA
Date: 4/03/2017
Distance: 3.1 miles
Goal: 17:59 (5:47 / mile) / Win
Actual: 17:55 / 3rd Overall

Last year I won the inaugural running of the Becca Pizzi 5k in a time of 17:18 (My 5K PR).  Other then my friend Todd that I had passed with about 75 meters to go, no one was even close to us.  Going into the race this year, people kept asking, "Are you going to defend your title?" Laughing, I said "We'll see who shows up."

Unlucky for me two pretty fast people showed up this year.  The first was a local Belmont man named Russell who I have raced against before and the second was a 15 year old vision impaired kid.  
We started the race at a wildly unsustainable pace and didn't even slow down a bit until about a third of a mile in.  I hit the one mile mark in 5:33 and at this point was in fourth overall, with the vision impaired runners guide just in front of me.  The kid was pulling away from his guide quickly. 

By the half way point I had also dropped his guide (who had muttered "I didn't sign up for this pace" on the way by) and was I beginning to struggle on keeping my pace below 5:50.  

For the third mile, we had a long straight away, then a 150 degree turn which pointed us back towards the track.  I settled into a slightly more comfortable pace for this section knowing I wasn't going to catch the leaders and ensuring I had enough left into the tank to hold onto third place.  As I hit the track I picked it up again and finished strong.  

Following the race, I got a few minutes to talk to the kid that came in second.  A few people had asked him if he had trouble after dropping his guide.  Laughing he said, "My bib say's vision impaired.  At every intersection people were screaming which way for me to go."

All and all had a fun race and even won a free pair of Newton Trail Running shoes.  

Next Up 
26 X 1 Mile Club Challenge.  

- Scot

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The 121st Boston Marathon - When it is not about you

This past Monday I ran and completed my second Boston Marathon.  This was the first time that I ran under a charity number and turned out to be the race that I truly needed.

Ever since Nat was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis (NF) Type 1 last year we have been looking to get more involved in the NF community, figuring out how to give back, and simply how to make a difference.  

The story of the 121st Boston Marathon began on December 31st last year.  I said to Amy, "We need to do something big next year. How does a $10k fundraising goal for NF sound?"  She said, "I like it."

Two days later I received an email from Diana at NF Northeast saying "I noticed your new CrowdRise page and running initiative and I think it’s awesome! Thank you for thinking of us with your fundraising throughout the year!  We have received a number for the 2017 Boston Marathon and were wondering if you’d like it and run on behalf of NF Northeast."

I immediately signed on (Maybe I have soft spot for when someone tells me that they think something that I am doing is awesome) and doubled down on my fundraising.  

Over the past week we have been completely floored with the support that we have received.  We have received over $1900 in donations (of which $950 came from my co-workers / will be matched by my company).  My last two social media posts have received over 225 combined likes and the words of support and encouragement have been amazing (some from people we have never even met).  

The night before the race, I did something that I saw Meb Keflezighi do in 2014 before he won the Boston Marathon.  Meb had written the names of the four individuals who lost their lives at and the days surrounding the bombings in 2013.  Meb ran and won for them.  I wrote Nat's name on the back of my bib and it was right then that it became abundantly clear to me that this race was not about me.  For the first time in my life, I was truly running for someone else.  

When I stood at the start line Monday all I could think about was how grateful I was.  Grateful that Nat is healthy, grateful for support we have received, and grateful for the community that we have been welcomed into.  

As the race started, I did what I always do, take off waaaay too fast.  It took the better part of a mile to get out of traffic and settle into a comfortable pace. 

I did my best to take in my surroundings and appreciate what was going on.  I waved at people cheering on the side of the road.  I talked to fellow runners.  I read the stories on the back of peoples shirts.  These were others running for people who had battled their respective diseases; cancer, muscular dystrophy, heart disease, autism, multiple sclerosis, etc..  Some had survived and were even running.  Others had lost and were being represented by a family member or friend.  While one might think this brings on a somber mood, it is actually quite the opposite.  It shows power of fight.  It is a celebration of those unwilling to give in to what life throws at them.   

As a new sense of motivation set in, I picked up the pace.  By the 10k, I had dropped my average to about 7:08 per mile (was aiming at 7:20 by the 10k mark).  I felt good, but it was getting really hot and I was having to stop at the aid stations and drink every mile.  
Pic Compliment of
Diana Flahive

By mile 9, I knew that I had to slow down if I was going to be able to get through this.  By the half way point my average pace had dropped to the mid 7:20s.  While I was starting to get dehydrated and my legs began to hurt, I still felt ok. 

As I passed through downtown Wellesley I began to question myself.  Why was I here? What was I doing? I don't even like marathons.  At this point I just thought about what the inside of my bib said.  This wasn't about me, this was about raising awareness and raising funds to help others and to find a cure.  

As I reached the first of the Newton hills, the route 95 crossing, I decided that I didn't care how much I hurt.  I was going to run this whole damn thing (last year when I reached 95 is the first of many walking breaks).  

As I crested the hill, I began to get a second wind.  It was time to find my friends at NF Northeast (who were supposed to be around the 17 mile mark).  
Pic Compliment of
Diana Flahive

Then I saw the big NF sign up on my right.  I moved over, smiled for the camera, and gave Karen (the executive director) a huge high five on the way by.  I will never forget the smile on all of their faces as I ran by.  At that moment I could not have been happier and prouder.  

About a mile later I hit the next major stopping point on my run, the 30K mark where my running club, my parents, and Amy and the kids were.  I talked to my parents, kissed, the kids, and made sure to slap each and every persons hand on the way by.  With about 7.5 miles to go I was hurting, but I was happy.  

I chugged my way through the remaining two hills and just kept pushing forward.  I had to keep the pace fairly controlled as my stomach was starting to really get unhappy with the amount of gatorade I had poured into it.  The carnage on the course was also pretty crazy at this point as the heat had really taken its toll on a lot of people.  

My favorite part in all of the Boston Marathon course is just after the 1 mile to go mark.  In 2016, the city painted the phrase "Boston Strong" on the the Route 2 bridge which you go beneath.  This is the point in the race that all pity parties end.  I instinctively picked the pace back up.  Any pain that I was feeling was no longer relevant.  

As I made the turn onto Hereford Street I began to well up with emotion.  The amount of support that we have received over the last year overwhelmed me.  I could not have asked for more.  I could not ask for more.  

As I turned onto Boylston and the finish line was in view I regained my composure and began to smile.  I sprinted down Boylston and it seemed like everyone else was standing still.  I don't think I even saw a single spectator on the side of the road.  I was completely in the zone.  

As I crossed the finish line, I raised my arms in triumph, and simply thought to myself "For Nat." It was over, but it wasn't over.  I had just completed my second Boston Marathon, but there was still so much work to do.  Neurofibromatosis is more common than cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy combined, but no one can even pronounce the word.  

In addition to raising funds for NF research, our goal is to raise awareness. How can we cure a disease if people aren't aware of it?  

May is NF awareness month in Massachusetts and NF Northeast has issued all of you a challenge. Record a video, buy a t-shirt, get involved - http://nfincne.org/17782/may-neurofibromatosis-awareness-month-take-challenge/ - We just purchased our shirts (and will be recording a video soon). 

While this was far from my best marathon, it was definitely the most meaningful one.  I am excited to see where running and my relationship with the NF community take me next.

- Scot

Special thanks to NF Northeast for choosing me to represent them at this years Boston Marathon
Special thanks to the Somerville Road Runners for their support on and off the course (Specially to Tina Mack at the hotel after the race).
Special thanks to my sister-in-law Meryl for driving me to Hopkinton Monday Morning
Special thanks to my wife Amy dealing with and supporting me as I disappear for hours on end to run miles and miles.

Next Up

Saturday, April 8, 2017

NF Northeast Table for Ten

Amy, the kids, and myself
before the event.
This past Wednesday, Amy and I attended the NF Northeast Table for Ten event.  The event is a pretty cool concept; restaurants in downtown Boston donate a three course meal for ten people and these tables are filled by people who either buy tickets by making a donation to the charity or who are invited as guests. Following dinner, everyone regroups for dessert, an auction, a raffle, and a short presentation. Amy and I were invited as guests to the event as I am running for NF Northeast at this year's Boston Marathon.

For more info on the event, checkout https://www.facebook.com/events/1070077703104229/

The night started with dinner at State Street Provisions and our table consisted of two adults living with NF (Andres and Andy), their wives, and four members of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce (NF Northeast office is located in Burlington, MA and is one of seven of the official charities that the town works with).

For dinner, I had fritters as my appetizer, a wonderfully rich lobster bisque as my first course, and a pork shank pasta dish with a poached egg on top as my entree.  Coupled with a few glasses of wine, I was completely stuffed by the time we left.  The food was absolutely amazing.

Amy and I are still fairly knew to the NF community, so it was good to hear stories from people both living with NF and that have been working with NF Northeast for years.  They were both inspiring  and heart wrenching;  some based around dealing with (and thankfully beating) cancer and others about starting charity events (a future goal of mine), such as the Coast 2 Cure NF bike ride (Last years recap) which Andres started.  All and all it was great to learn more about the organization and the community in general.

Following dinner we walked back to the UMass club for the second half of the event.  Shortly after we arrived the organization's executive director, Karen Peluso, came over and introduced herself to Amy and me and told us how happy that they were to have us running for and representing them.  We were happy to see how tight nit a community this truly was.

A few minutes later the presentation / auction portion of the night began. Dan Andelman, the host of the Phantom Gourmet, was the event's speaker.  After leading us through a couple of introductions, Karen took over the podium.  Myself and the other runner representing NF Northeast at the Boston Marathon, Mike Losier, were called up to the podium to be presented with the singlets that they got for us to run in.

After Mike, who has been running for NF Northeast for years between the Falmouth road race (Note: they still have spots for 2017, contact Diana Flahive - dflahive@nfincne.org if interested) and the Boston Marathon, was presented with his jersey, it was my turn.  Karen started by saying "Scot, we did some research on Scot and he is intense.  Scot why don't you tell everyone what you have in store later this year." Looking up I said, "I will be running my first 100 mile race this coming October." Collectively a over a hundred jaws hit the floor.

Mike and I with Karen after
receiving our jerseys.
Karen talked about the fundraising that I have done for various charities over the years with my running and cycling and then explaining Nat being diagnosed with NF 1 last year has shown me my calling.  Fighting back a little bit of emotion all I could do was say thank you.

After a quick photo op, I stepped away from the podium and was able to find Mike and get to know him a little better.  We talked about running, our goals for this years Boston Marathon, our kids, and our connections with NF (Mike runs for family friend Ryan Feeney).

Throughout the rest of the night a number of people came over, introduced themselves, and thanked me for running for the NF community.  I am just happy to be given the opportunity to represent such a great and supportive organization and community.

9 Days till Boston

- Scot

PS Neil tried on my jersey this morning just to make sure it fit.

To make a contribution: https://www.crowdrise.com/miles-to-defeat-nf
Join us at our upcoming comedy event: https://tinyurl.com/comedy-to-benefit-nf

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Boston Quad and a A Letter to My Future Self - Dress Appropriately

Yesterday I got up at 3:30am and drove out to Wellesley to meet up with my friend Henry who was attempting to run the Boston Marathon course 4X (or as he calls it, the Boston Quad).  For more info on his attempt, see https://www.facebook.com/events/240355413056954/

Henry runs for Runwell, whose mission is "To provide addiction recovery solutions through funding existing treatment scholarship programs along the continuum of care. By engaging individuals in sporting events worldwide we foster a healthy lifestyle and begin to break down perceptions of those struggling with the disease." To help support Henry in his venture, please go to: https://runwell.donorpages.com/4DesertsPatagonia/HenryWard3/

My goal yesterday was to run roughly a marathon with Henry starting and ending in Wellesley (to Hopkinton and back).  When Henry first scheduled this event for April Fools Day, I was a little worried at what the joke might be.  As luck (or who ever is in charge of the April fools jokes) would have it, we ended up with 35 degree pouring rain starting mid Friday and going straight through Saturday.  

After a quick cup of coffee / breakfast sandwich during my drive, I found myself parked near the intersection of 16 and 135 in Wellesley at 4am.  Henry started at 2am in Boston with a couple other runners and all of them were in great spirits when I found them.  With basically no traffic at this time of day we ran down the middle of road; first into Natick (where we picked up Brian), and then into Framingham.  It didn't take long until I was completely water logged.

The first 5 miles went well, but shortly after I started to get a chill and it only got worse.  The conditions were nuts. There was so much water on the road it was impossible to go around anything.  We were ankle deep at times.  Just before we left Framingham, I had to stop to tie my shoe. Getting my soaking wet mitten back on was painful and it was only the beginning.

We (Brian and I) arrived at the start line in Hopkinton and met up with a few others.  Henry arrived a few minutes later.  After a token picture, we headed back out.

Pic Compliments of Rich Morrissey 

At this point I was shivering uncontrollably. In a feeble attempt to gain some warmth, I took off down the road at a pace no person running a hundred miles would ever run.  The shivering never got better, so I told the others that I had to keep going.  About three miles later, I told Brian I was going to need him to drive me back to my car and lucky for me he obliged.

At mile 21.5 (for me), we got back to Brian's car, jumped in, and jacked the heat to full blast. I literally cannot remember the last time that I was that cold.  About 20 minutes later I was back in my car and a half hour after that in a steaming hot shower which finally got my core temperature back under control.

To say I botched my clothing is probably an understatement.  For future reference, below is what I wore and probably should have worn.

- Breathable Running Mittens
- Compression Shirt
- Running Jacket
- Racing Compression Tights
- Hat (Baseball cap style)

Should have Worn:
- Goretex Mittens
- Compression Shirt and dry fit long sleeve over it
- Rain jacket
- Thick Running Tights
- Hat (Baseball cap style)

Shortly after I left, the others synced back up with Henry and kept him company until the Newton Firehouse (mile 43ish for Henry) where his next posse arrived.  Henry went on to run 3 full Boston Marathons (Boston - Hopkinton - Boston- Hopkinton) before mother nature got the best of him.  At this point he was 21 hours in and his foot was completely swollen (probably from running in slush all day).

I don't say this lightly as I know a lot of tough runners, but after this weekend's event I believe that Henry is the toughest runner I know.  I don't know anyone that can endure like that.  He is truly an inspiration.

For me, Boston in Marathon in 2 weeks.  For Henry, eager to see what he takes on next.

- Scot

Special thanks to Mike, Brad, Brian, Steve, Lisa, Rich, and of course Henry for a crazy day.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Validation of Training - Ruck a Chuck 50K

"On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow." - Friedrich Nietzsche 

This past Saturday I took on and completed my 12th ultra marathon at the very hilly (7500+' climbing) Ruck a Chuck 50K in Forrest Hill, CA.  This race also marked the 8th state in which I have completed an ultra marathon.

I picked this race for a few reasons:

  1. I liked the time of year (mid March) giving me motivation to train hard through the NE winter 
  2. It was located within driving distance of relatives, so we had family to visit 
  3. It was run on part of the iconic Western States 100 course, a bucket list race I hope to do some day. 

Training began in the second week of January after a much needed three week back off from training (30 or less miles per week).  After a text from a friend and a plea to hold sessions on multiple days, I quickly revived SHOP (Scot's Hills of Pain) and got out twice week to run the hills and get in as much climbing as I could.

For this training cycle, I also tried to get back to the basics and make sure my hard days were hard (most Tuesday and Thursday's were 15+ miles) and my easy days were easy (Monday and Friday being 3 miles).  I also got to the gym twice week and worked the core as much as I could (Upping my plank to 60 seconds, my push ups to 30, and my pull ups to 15, all at 3 sets).

As the weeks progressed, the climbing added up and I was feeling stronger and stronger.  I got my mileage up into the 70s and then low 80s.  I got in three "long" runs of 24, 31, and 20 miles and one good mountain run up at Monadock three weeks before race day.

Going into the race, I had 606 miles and about 30,000' of climbing under my belt.  As long as I didn't go out to hard, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't have any trouble with the race.

We flew out to California the Thursday before the race and after a stop at the park (to let the kids unwind) and some lunch we drove out to Roseville.  Our hotel had an indoor pool in which we immediately hit up after checkin.  Pretty tired after a 3:50am east coast wakeup, we headed to bed by 7pm.

For Friday we we headed over to one of the regional parks for a few hours before going to Auburn to pick up my number at the Knee Deep Brewery.  After a quick sampler for us (Mild, Barely Wine, Porter, and a Stout) and tater tots for the kids we headed back to hotel.

Race day began with a 5:30 wake up (thanks to the kids) and we were on the road an hour later for a short drive.  We got to the start, Rucky Chucky Park, shortly after 7am.

Most innovative race bib: Name (so people know who you are) and upside down elevation profile
(so you can read it while wearing the bib).  

Stream Crossing
The race started promptly at 8am and began with a 2 mile / 900' decent.  I ticked the first two miles off at 7:15 each trying to do as little damage to my quads as I could.  Shortly after this there were two small stream crossings which were a little higher then usual after all of the much needed rain that California had received this year.  At mile 2.75, we reached the first aid station and made our way onto the Western States trail.  I took it as conservatively as I could knowing there was quite a bit ahead.

Next there were a couple of sets of small hills (150' range or so) where I moved up from about 10th to 5th overall.  Around mile 8.5 is when the first major climb began and consisted of over 400' spread across 5 switchbacks.  After a false flat / aid station, the final (on the way out) major climb began which was a straight up rocky section with another 400' over 1/3 of a mile.

After this section, I was able to find a groove again knocking out the remaining 4+ miles to the
turnaround between 8:40 and 9:30 pace.  The turnaround just a box in the middle of the train with purple wristbands. You simply grabbed a wristband to prove that you were there.

As I began my trek back, I was feeling pretty strong.  At this point I was still running in 5th place, was about a half mile behind 4th and a quarter mile in front of 6th.  I figured if I could hold onto 5th for the day, I would be pretty happy with my performance, specially living in an area that requires a bit driving to get to the mountains.

As runners continued to run by, I got an adrenaline boost and instinctively picked up the pace.  I had a couple decent climbs to go before I hit the big descent. For mile 18, I was even able to drop an 8:03 mile.

As I reached the big decent, I bounced down it the best that I could.  My quads were starting to get pretty sore at this point.  Fortunately I was able to recover pretty well and went back to dropping 9 to 9:30 miles for most the the next 8 miles.

Just before I reached the final aid station with 2.75 miles to go, I saw the 4th place runner come into view.  It was a fairly flat section and he was walking so I knew that I could pass him as long as I held a somewhat consistent pace.  I ended up catching him right at the aid station and he fist bumped me and said "Go get it." I said thanks and kept on moving.

The final climb was a complete bear.  I employed a run walk method entirely based on heart rate.  I ran the best I could and walked when I had to.  Finally, Amy, Neil, and Nat came into view and just past them was the finish.  Neil jogged in with me.

-- 4:55:08 -- 9:30 / mile -- 4 / 120 OA --

All and all I was very happy with my performance. My loose goal was coming in was 5 hours, but I really had no idea what to expect with a race with that much climbing.  I have only ever climbed more then that in a day twice and both times were in 50 mile races.  

While sore and tired at the finish, I never felt like I blew up or couldn't continue.  Even as late as mile 28 I was able to click off an 8:37(which even included a stream crossing).  I like to look at this result as validation of my training.  Make your hard days hard, your easy days easy, and train as specific to the race as your can. 

Later that day we drove to Oakland where we stayed with Amy's uncles for the remainder of trip and visited with cousins and friends.  It was great to catch up with everyone. 

Next up: Boston Marathon


Richard, Amelia, and Nat

Dennis and Nat

Neil and Ethan