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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blogging Moab's Red Hot 55K/33K

I compiled a list with links for every blog I could find from the 2014 Moab's Red Hot 55K and 33K. If you have or know anyone that has a blog from this race, please contact me at or on twitter at, and I will add it to the list.

Also, if this is something you'd like to see again for other large races, give a holler!

Chris Hunter: Hunter Imagery

My race report from Moab’s Red Hot 55K/33K can be found here:  Please take a peek and support Rocky Mountain Runners!


Misty Alessandri: Happy Utah Mountain Runners (HUMR)


Mary Dalzot: The Journey of a Thousand Miles

Lindsay Lauck: Bot Friendly

Another Side

Moab's Red Hot 33K

My race report from Moab’s Red Hot 55K/33K can be found here:  Please take a peek and support Rocky Mountain Runners!
Last weekend was my return to running and racing after more than 3 weeks of an upper respiratory infection that drastically reduced my training. With Moab’s Red Hot 33K the first race leading up to Bighorn 100, I was ready to get back to feeling good physically and mentally, even if I wasn’t exactly sharp in both areas.

The course was beautiful and relatively well-marked; one runner mentioned the likelihood of getting off-course and in several instances, it was hard to know which way to move forward on a wide expanse of rock. I got off-course at one point, losing a measly 30 second, before turning around to see the pink-and-black ribbons guiding me upwards. 

My game plan was simply not to overexert myself (an impossible feat not to somewhat explore) and escape injury free. My fueling was good, as was foot placement on the sloping rocks, turning my ankle uncomfortably once. 

After the race, I got to talk to some great runners who seem like even greater people: Mike Foote, Joe Grant, Neeraj Engineer, Brian Burkhardt, and more. The after-after party was at Eddie McStiff’s (Robin’s favorite name) and it was a who’s who affair, highlighted by Jenn Shelton’s Academy Award-esque introduction and speech to preface the opening chapter of her upcoming book; it sounds immensely entertaining!

The next day, Robin and I set out to explore Arches National Park. We stopped every half mile to get out of the car and take pictures. Every view from every angle was simply phenomenal. We parked at the Delicate Arch trailhead and picked through some beautiful stones as souvenirs and I found a geode!! We eventually trudged our way up the trail and saw this unique structure. It was a location that one could sit at all day long; however, the clouds rolled in rather quickly and rain was starting to drop delicately, coincidentally. 

Before we left Moab for good, I spotted people running up and down a large sandhill; I noticed divots in the red sand when we pass earlier and surmised they were likely footprints. We pulled over and I did my best to make it to the top, but the sand swallowed my feet as I quickly expended all my oxygen. The ride down was crazy fun!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sickness & Disappointment

For the first three weeks of training, I was challenged by the workload - particularly the 3:30am wake up calls - but mentally and physically stronger for it. Each week, I felt on the precipice of a minor injury or mental exhaustion that could take me away from running for a few days or so. By the time Thursday rolled around, I was wiped out, but comforted by the knowledge that the next two nights of rest would heal me and that Saturday would be an enjoyable long run with a great group (Boulder Trail Running Breakfast Club) filled with outstanding people. 

And on that one Thursday night, I turned from the comforts of safety and rest and decided to perform in a local improv late into the evening as somewhat of a reward for my physical expenditures, a sort of mental workout. Shouting, gesticulating, and dancing, all while I should have been home sleeping with dreams of VFuel gels and compression socks shuffling through my head, further impacted negatively my immune system.

All seemed well until Saturday morning. Sixteen miles were on the docket of what was a bright and sunny day. About one mile in, I succumbed to a slight cough and a tickle inside my chest appeared. Coughing isn’t entirely uncommon for me after long runs, but not during. I completed the 16 miles and felt sluggish for the first time in a while after a long run. 

On Sunday, the upper respiratory infection hit along with a 102.8 fever. I took a week off from training - and three days from work - and tackled an easy 10 miles indoors on the treadmill, safe from the dry cold outdoors that ravage a sore throat. I wasn’t 100%, far from it, but I had to do something to shake the virus. I thought I could outsmart the germs by wearing a neck gaiter (Buff, baby) to keep my throat extra warm. A few days later, the illness had transformed into something much worse and a second visit to the doctor for a more powerful prescription was in order. Again, I shut down training, both the physical and mental portions that come with it. 

I’m still not fully recovered and with about 20 miles on tap this Saturday in Moab, UT for the Grassroots Events spectacular, I’m disappointed to not have my best. Weeks 4 and 5 should have featured 76 miles; however, the wrench caused me to tackle just 18.

The lesson I take from this: listen to your body and the get the rest that’s needed. Depending on where and with whom you work, you may need more. As a teacher, germs abound. In other words, lots more sleep on tap for me... and perhaps an investment into a Hazmat suit.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Jan 6 - 26

Through the first three weeks of twenty-four week training for Bighorn 100 in Wyoming, I was on schedule, strong, and finding that I had more speed than I was used to tapping into. The structure of having to go to bed early more days than not and waking up incredibly early for training has been very fulfilling.

Life and training in Colorado has been quite different from the comforts of New Jersey, a place I’ve lived and training nearly my entire life. Altitude, mountain running and trails are three variables I’ve had to contend with since the move to Boulder in August. Before moving, I’d found a trail that ran the perimeter of my development and a retirement community, under power lines, through a barren masonry plant property, and momentarily on a rarely used train track. It was far from interesting and on the day I heard gun shots in the distance - learning later there was a firing range nearby - I vowed not to make my way out to those parts again.

The trails in Boulder, well, its simply a mecca out here. Even after the floods washed away chunks of well-groomed trails, runners have hardly taken issue with what was left behind. Its all still in play and all still wonderful.

As for altitude and mountain running, its something that will improve over time and effort. In the days after the move from sea level, I quickly jumped into some hard runs that tested my body’s ability to do without as much oxygen as I had grown accustom. Luckily, no altitude sickness. The mountain running has been a challenge, but I’m dumbfounded by the thought of training at sea level for a 100-miler with over 16,000 ft of elevation gain. Its certainly wouldn’t have been impossible, but I just don’t think I could have done enough in New Jersey to prepare myself for what would be in store come race day at a mountainous ultra.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

I have always found that there is quality in quantity. By creating or accomplishing as many individual things as possible, a person is - in some form - producing a special value. We see it with running in various forms. Running one mile a day is nice for the average as a means to burn some calories and keep his or her weight down. Nice, but nothing special. Running one mile a day for an entire year or as Mark Covert from Lancaster, CA has done, for the last 44 years (or 16,235 consecutive days, to be exact). Quality in quantity. (Special shout-out to Brian Casey from Paramus, representing our home state of New Jersey with a 13,023 day streak of his own! When the Running Pride podcast gets up in running in 2014 - I’ll save that for next year’s resolution - you can bet I’ll do everything to interview him.)

Last year, a runner set out to keep a 9 minute mile pace. Was it you? It could have been as it easily could have been myself for much my injury plagued year. This pace is to be commended for anyone getting off the couch and putting forth his or her best effort. Some might judge that as quality. But when you realize that the runner was Western States Endurance Run winner Timothy Olsen, you now KNOW that a 9 minute mile is indeed quality. It’s other-worldly. (It’s also better than a 9 minute per mile pace.) Again, quantity - in this case 100-miles run at that average pace - can equate to quality.

This is what I’m aiming for with my 2013 New Year’s Resolutions.

1. Take an ice bath once a week. I utilized ice baths often while training in 2011 for the JFK 50 mile. I was running upwards of 60 miles per week and pushing my body’s limits. I had tried taking an ice bath once or twice before, but from everything I was reading I needed to implement this strategy more often. Once a week I plunged my body into the icy depths of my tub and each week seemed to get easier and the pain more enjoyable.

I abandoned this recovery-aiding strategy for my 2012 fall training for no particular reason. I was injured in one particular area and I needed much more than just ice to recover from it. Plus, I wasn’t doing many miles or heavy cardio workouts. I’m essentially in that same position now, but I want to get back into the habit. It certainly can’t hurt.

2. Get healthy and stay healthy. Ice baths are a start. Listening to my body when it needs a break or when a certain activity is causing pain somewhere. Cross-training more frequently in order to reduce the pounding on my knees.

3. Consistently run under 20 minutes for a 5k and/or do speed work and tempo runs. I’ve only broke 20 minutes 2 or 3 times and it was at a local running club race. I was doing speed work for a few weeks and the results were immediate. In order to have such success, I’ll need to get back to the track at least once a week for several weeks or months in a row.

4. Break 1:30 for the Half Marathon. If I can do #3 on my list, then I think I’ll be able to tackle this one. My favorite race, the Seaside Half Marathon, is currently in jeopardy. I’m not sure what the conditions are of Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, or Island Beach State Park after the devastation that was Hurricane Sandy.

5. Log more miles on trails. If you know anything about Ocean County, you’ll know we’ve got the Jersey Shore (no, not that one), Six Flags Great Adventure, and flat, trail-less land. Someone once told me that the highest point in Ocean County is the clock tower on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River. There are a few nice parks that offer hiking trails, but nothing for logging substantial running miles. My options aren’t, but I’ll do the best with what I have in order to achieve resolution completion.

I’ll run the limited miles on the county parks trails. I’ll run behind the development near my home and along the train tracks of the MOM Line. I’ll make weekend trips to Monmouth County, where I’m familiar with more challenging terrain, or to other locations in North Jersey that offer some elevation gain.

6. Listen to more music while running. My apologies to those who cringe at this one, especially since I’ll more than likely be doing so on trails. I typically listen to podcasts while running, which offer nothing in forms of improving turnover or pace. Many times, I simply end up zoning out the comedic beats of the Sklar Brothers (Sklarbro Country), Comedy Bang Bang, or Marc Maron (WTF). I love laughing and I love running; perhaps I’ll try making these two things more exclusive.

7. Publish weekly articles/updates on Running Pride.
While it’s impossible to build a running website brand that could ever match that of iRunFar’s Coca Cola, I wouldn’t mind being in the same business with them even if that meant being relegated to a Mr. Pibb or RC Cola status. Just to have readers checking my site on occasion would allow me the ability to pretend I was a journalist. In keeping with that, I hope to interview ultra runners from New Jersey or nearby locales and even offer race reports of local endurance races. Whatever it takes to sooth this new online ego.

In summary, I want to be healthy this year and I want to be fast again. This might mean getting away from running an ultra. It could even translate to running no more than a half marathon. I want to run a 100-miler badly and I know this is simply what it’s going to take to point me back in the right direction. I feel like I could run a 100-miler this weekend if I had to; my ability to do so is all upstairs and mentally I am strong enough to tackle such a feat. But doing so might mean a major injury to my knees or another part of my leg, not to mention damaging my organs. If 4-time Hardrock 100 winner Diana Finkel can come down with rhabdomyolysis, what could possibly happen to me with my little training? While I’m mentally strong enough to handle 100 miles, I’m simply not structurally sound enough to ensure my safety.

If I should only achieve half of what I set out for, I think I’ll still be pretty satisfied. And I’ll even have a better average than anyone in the history of baseball. Sample size be damned!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Winding River Washout

On Saturday, I ventured outdoors for another walking journey. The previous day's workout was lackluster and uninspired, so I settled for 45 minutes of the slowest peddling witnessed by the human eye. This bike was especially stationary while was using it. So, I woke up with the urge to bounce back.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not care about my plans... and I did not care about Mother Nature's plans. I grabbed a few layers, a pseudo-rain jacket from Brooks that I picked up at the Marine Corps Marathon - which I didn't need at all since Hurricane Sandy wasn't far enough north yet - and headed out into the light drizzle.

Winding River Park looked like a ghost town, but wet. Not even the birdies were coming outside. Besides one man with an umbrella, I was the only living creature to be seen at the park between the hours of 10am and 12pm. It was eerie yet adventurous.

I wanted to walk on earth rather than the macadam path that traverses through the park. Each trail I turned down lasted just a few footsteps because of the water overflow that washed out so much the park's land. I continued on until just before the bridge section that overlooks the curving waterway. The park looked the same last year after Hurricane Irene; I thought the small pond was overflowing but upon further examination this time, it seems that the current was moving into the pond.

This one trail comically split off into two directions; thankfully that tree with the blue arrow pointed me in the right direction.

I went back through various trails and re-examined if I could make it over or through the sitting water that blocked their traversing. Some of the trails simply required me to jump over a newly formed stream or to create a make-shift bridge out of fallen branches. As careful as I had been, my feet still ended up soaked.

When all the trails were finished, I walked beneath the power lines that paralleled the park, dodging more puddles and marshy obstacles. I considered following the power line trail out to the nearest highway, but a gigantic puddle made it impossible. It was time to turn around and head back to the car.

It has been a difficult year for the environs of Tri-State area. Our parks and recreation areas have been battered by Superstorm Sandy and Winter Storm Athena, and winter has yet to begin it's chilling wrath. But we know one thing from Mother Nature and that man named Bruce: everything that dies someday comes back.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Walking! Yes, Walking!

With just 4 days left in the year, everyone is trying to predict the hottest trend for the upcoming year. And I think I've found it.


Walking is everywhere right now. Justin Beiber recently walked on stage at his latest performance and was greeted with a cacophony of screaming tweens, teens, and weens (fans of Ween and Dean Ween himself). A toddler in Portland, Oregon just took her first steps after months of doing little more than lounging around; this promptly sent Fred Armisen scurrying to work on a new character. Need more proof? You are a tough customer.

Two running podcasts have recently profiled walking as an important tool for recovery, completing long-distance races and overall fitness. First, check out Dirt Dawg's Running Diatribe episode entitled "Pedestrianism and Edward Payson Weston". Ol' Eddie Weston was one walking son-of-a-gun. Impressive times, even for walking.

Follow that episode with a wonderfully on-point rant from Ashland Dave in the his 12/8 episode 168 called "Run! Walk? Run! Walk?". For years I had passed up the Running in the Center of the Universe podcast simple because I didn't want to be reminded of that majestic beauty beholden of the Pacific Northwest and how my trails - or lack thereof - couldn't even compete with the worst stretch of trail in Oregon. Turns out Ashland Dave is from Virginia - hey, I've run there! - and his best marathon time is 4:17 - hey, he's not some elite with ridiculous times, that's how fast I run! Plus, this dude isn't afraid of taking a walking break and bragging about it. I think I've got a few old episodes I need to check out.

To cap off all the walk talk, I'll share with you my Christmas Day experience with walking. At the moment, I can't run without feeling pain (and regret, I want to get healthy before I'm running again). Using the different stationary bikes or rowing machine at the gym doesn't entirely prevent my knee from feeling tension. Even walking on the treadmill feels cumbersome. But I just can't accept that I may be better off with my feet up on a couch recovering. So, I decided to go for a walk.

I treated this somewhat short walk - mileage wise - like a backpacking adventure. I geared up: hydration pack, energy bar, gaiters and a buff to cover my face. The temperature was about 40, but the sun was working hard to stay out and keep me warm. I walked about a mile before I hit the only trails within 10 miles of my home. This old dirt bike trail leads all the way to some railroad tracks that follow behind a retirement community. It took a long, long time to get to the train tracks. All the while I was conscious of leg turnover and foot placement. This gave me good walking form and little to no pain in my right knee. If it was for getting back to and getting ready for the Christmas Party, I would have stayed out longer than an hour-and-a-half.

When it was all over with, my legs spoke to me and smiled as I cooled down. My knee was alright, too. It was only 4 miles, but it was an achievement for me that signaled hope for the future. Hope for 2013.