Monday, August 7, 2017

New Heights, New Challenges, and Raising Awareness

Today I begin phase 3 (of 4) of my 100 mile training plan.  The first two phases served as the build up to get to this point and phase 2 replicated some of the best training I have every done in my life.  From here I enter an area I have never been in. The next three weeks I will prove to myself that I have what it takes to succeed at the 100 mile distance.

Before I dive into the specifics of the next cycle, I have to take a step back and explain why I am doing this.  If you read my last post you probably noticed that I wore my NF singlet during the Pemi loop.  I did this to invite questions, further the dialogue, and raise awareness.  NF is still a little known disease and one of the best ways to further research, support, and find a cure is to simply raise awareness.  I left the Pemi loop with a few more people knowing what Neurofibromatosis is.

Most people literally cannot comprehend running a 100 miles.  I routinely get: What?  Why?  For whom?  Expect to see a lot more of this jersey moving forward.

Phase 3
Run your age year 1 (2015)
Long Lake, Naples, ME
This coming week I will be doing two things for the first time.

  1. Tackling a 110 mile week (my previous high in a week was 101)
  2. Putting in back to back runs over 30 miles
Run Your Age
The fun starts on Friday, my 37th birthday.  For the third year in a row I will run my age. This year I plan on leaving Belmont at 8am and running up to Gloucester (details below), the site of the Coast to Cure NF ride in September.  Anyone around is welcome to join and / or support me.  There is no donation that is too small.  In honor of my birthday, suggestions include: $37, $19.80, and simply $3.70.  Click to donate.

Start: 8am
Finish: 2pm (estimating 9ish / mile)

We will be stopping at Cape Ann Brewing after the run.  

TARC Summer Classic
The very next day I am taking on my 13th ultramarathon, a 40-miler at the TARC Summer classic (Yes 77 miles in two days).  While I am a little concerned about this volume, I am excited to see how my body and mind deal with the stress.  My last two 30+ mile runs I felt fully recovered within 3 days.  I also have never had a bad race at a TARC event.  

Falmouth Road Race
The following weekend Amy and I will be tackling the storied Falmouth Road Race (7 miles) as members of the NF Northeast team.  We are super excited to be doing this event and super excited to be running this representing NF Northeast.  Yesterday we had a team pizza party and received our official race singlets.  This will be Amy's longest run ever.  Click to donate.

Trip to Maine
Amy and I are taking a much needed vacation.  In honor of our 10 year anniversary we are getting away just the two of us for a few days.  No trip is complete without a long run so I am aiming to get a 40+ mile run to cap off phase 3 while we are there.  I may even run a lap around Lake Sebago.  

If I hit all the planned mileage for phase 3 then I will be at 280 / 3 weeks. 

Wish me luck.  I am going to need it and keep an eye out for the NF jersey.  

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Pemi Loop

The Pemi Loop
This past weekend I got out and completed my second major traverse of the year, the Pemigewasset loop, or better known as the Pemi loop.  This has been on my radar for a while and serves almost as a right of passage for New England based ultra runners.  In NE we don't have the highest of the mountains or the longest of the climbs, but we do have some really gnarly rooty rocky terrain.

The Pemi loop is somewhere around 31.5 miles with over 9000' of climbing.  It starts in the Lincoln Woods right off the Kancamagus highway in NH.  In 2005, Backpacker magazine named it the second hardest day hike in America.  The loop summits 10 peaks of which 8 are over 4000': Flume, Liberty, Little Haystack, Lincoln, Lafayette, Garfield, South Twin, Guyot, Bond, and Bondcliff.  For more details checkout

I ran the loop with a couple of other ultra runners, Patrick, a 20 year fenom, who probably could have done two or three loops if inclined, and Chris, a very experienced hiker who is somewhat new to ultra running.

Mnt Flume
You start on an old dirt rail road trail before turing off about 1.25 miles in.  The next couple of miles you climb up to the Franconia ridge trail where it gets a little steeper with each step.  By the fourth mile, you are literally going straight up (I clocked it at 1,073' of gain). Just after the 5th mile you hit your first peak, Flume (~4300'), and at this point you have already knocked 3000' of 9000' for the day.

We had a perfect weather (70's with a breeze) and once we got up about the tree line you could probably see for a 100 miles.  After a couple of pics and quick break we kept on moving.

Over the next 4 miles you drop in and out of the tree line a few times before reaching the summit of Mt Lafayette, the highest point on the loop at 5249'.  After a painful technical descent for 2.2 miles and over 1500' of drop, you go straight back up 800' / .9 miles as you ascend Garfield.

At this point you are not even half way through the loop but have already done over 75% of the
Mnt Lafayette
climbing.  But don't let it fool you as technical descents are just as hard as the climbs.  While I knew I had the endurance to get through the loop, my speed was really starting to suffer.  My inability to move quickly on technical terrain was becoming more apparent as Patrick and Chris would put a gap on me the more rocky it got.

At mile 16ish, we reached the Galehead hut and took our first prolonged break of the day.  We were also able to refill out packs / bottles.  I don't think cold water and PB & J sandwich ever tasted so good.

From here, you have the nastiest climb of the whole loop as you ascend South Twin.  You climb about 1000' / 0.8 miles on some of the steepest rockiest terrain I have ever seen.

After a few more summits you reach Bond Cliff and then begin your descent back down to civilization (with about 8 miles remaining).  As we bombed by hikers they laughed at us wondering how on earth we were able to move that fast.  We laughed even more to ourselves as we were moving around 16 minute / mile, a far cry from our normal running pace.

With just under 5 miles to go, we hit the eastern end of the railroad trail and our pace immediately went back down under 9s.  With about 2 miles to go I decided to drop the hammer and sprint it in.  As the bridge to cross the Pemigewasset river came into view I pushed it into one final gear and flew by one last set of hikers to the finish.

End of the Loop
East Side of the Pemigewasset River

Talking with a few other runners and hikers afterwards, we all agreed that is one hell of a run / hike.  In my years of ultra running, I have only ever covered that much climbing in a day once before (Virgil Crest) and that was spread out over 20 more miles.

All and all had a great day and looking forward to tackling other events like this in the future.

- Scot

For more details checkout my Strava activity at:

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 - - 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

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 - 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:
Join us at our upcoming comedy event: