Mohican 100- ’16

It has been 4 months since I last posted a running blog. A loss of a family member, a bad bout of depression from another, as well as other set backs with friends and family, left me with no interest in writing about my races. The runs and races themselves allowed me to cope and clear my mind when things were tough. To recap…

On March 26th, I ran the Tuscarora 50K. It’s a local Fatass run that I’ve run before. I enjoyed myself and hung out with friends later on. On April 24th, I ran the Ironmaster’s 50K. This was my first time doing it and I really enjoyed it. There were some nice climbs and some technical sections. The last 10 or so miles I limped to the finish due to an ankle I twisted at mile 8. On 5/21 I ran the World’s End 50K. This would be my favorite 50K. I paced well and ran strong at the end. I love the terrain there! On June 6th I ran the God’s Country Marathon. I ran this marathon back in 2010, but this time it wasn’t so kind. I had to stop multiple times running up the mountain around the 15-18 mile mark and struggled to finish. I still had fun.

Going into my first 100 miler, I felt pretty confident. I had those races I just mentioned and also had some great, long runs on the Appalachian Trail by my house. After a 51 mile solo run on the A.T., I felt I was ready for the 100.

The Mohican 100 is located in Loudonville, OH, northeast of Columbus. It is in between Millersburg, OH and Mansfield, OH and is run in the Mohican State Park. The race consists of two 27 mile loops and two 23 mile loops. My wife Caryn, and trail running friends Anne and Gary would make the trip out. Gary would end up pacing me for the final 43 miles.

The weekend was going to be warm. They said the temperature topped out at 91 degrees on Saturday. I was so anxious, excited, and nervous leading up to it, but as 5:00am approached, I felt rather calm. I knew this would be a long journey and was looking forward to it. I had a carefree mind going into it and I believe that really helped me out when the tough got going. Here is my wife and I at the start…

Mohican 100 1

The first hour was in the dark. Generally for me, the first loop was a “feel” loop. I wanted a good knowledge base as to what was in store the next 24 hours or so.  The terrain at Mohican includes very minimal rocks. The only section that rocks play a part is towards the last 5 miles or so of each loop, and that’s only a very small section. The trail has more roots than I was expecting. You are able to avoid most of them, but they are there pretty much throughout. The trail has a total of  12,500 feet of gain, give a few hundred feet. That is not a lot for a 100 miler. I will tell you, though, that these hills are steep. They aren’t real long, but if you are sore, tired, and cramping late in the race, you are going to have issues. Lastly, and overall, this trail is runnable. Runners that are used to climbing over boulders and scrambling, you will have none.

I met Caryn and Anne at the Fire Tower and Pleasant Hill Dam aid stations. Throughout the race, they would tend to me hand and foot. Normally I would plop down on a chair and they would fill my hydration pack with water and my bottle with Tailwind. They would stock my pack with applesauce packs, gels, or anything else I wanted to take along.  My go to foods and drinks throughout the race turned out to be the following: water, tailwind(sodium/electrolyte drink), Coke(I may have drunk 4 liters total!!), ginger ale, chocolate milk, gels, applesauce, pickles and juice, grilled cheese sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, salt and vinegar chips, bananas, and oranges. I drank early and often as much as my body would let me.

I felt good at the end of the first lap, but the temperature was rising. There is something in my brain early on in a race that triggers some kind of negative thinking. It almost always happens. Thoughts include: “It’s way early and I’m feeling like shit already” “I have ‘this’ amount of distance left, I don’t know if I can finish”, “It’s hot as hell, there’s no way I can finish”, “this snow is making me work extra hard, no way I can keep it up”, etc. And around mile 30 or so, I think I had that feeling. But like I said earlier, I did have, and kept, a carefree and  even playful, mentality during the whole race. By mile 35, I was a-okay again…even though this picture says not….

Mohican 100 2

The miles continued into the second lap. And the temperature kept rising. I made sure I wasn’t overdoing anything. I was hiking every hill and conserving energy as much as possible. And lets face it, I was conserving energy almost the entire freaking race. It’s the name of the game for me. Steady and patient…always.  I continued to load up on water, Tailwind, and Coke and tried to get as many other food calories in me as possible.

A few years back when all I had under my belt was a few 50k’s, I mentioned about a wall that I hit. Someone told me “people who run 100 milers hit 3 or 4 walls during their race”. Well, at the end of the second loop at mile 54(Mohican Adventure AS), I hit another wall. And I think that wall was the toughest for the whole weekend.

Now I was told that multiple people dropped from this race. I can see why. The final 2 miles of each loop consisted of a couple hundred feet climb up an open (sun soaking) stoned road, followed by an immediate short steep downhill, followed by an immediate short/steep uphill, then a flat portion down to the main road. At the main road, you take a very open and sun soaking paved trail(similar to Oil Creek) for a little less than a mile before heading into the woods again until you get to the aid station. I crashed.

Caryn and Anne were there and they assisted me as best they could. I didn’t really tell them how bad I felt. I knew I could get through it on my own. I also believe Anne, being an experienced runner who very recently went through a form of torcher at the MMT 100, sensed I was struggling. I knew others were struggling too. I looked around and saw people with heads between their legs, and others who were flat on their backs. I decided to switch up my sneakers, shorts and shirt and continued on. Gary was to meet me at the mile 63 aid station, but as I approached the 57 mile aid station, Gary was there waiting with a smile. I think he was told by my A-team crew that I wasn’t doing so good. Here we are at mile 57…

Mohican 100 3

It was incredible how fast my mood changed. Gary and I ran the next 20 miles with ease. We talked about life. I had him running ahead of me…about 20 or 30 yards. He would stop and hike when I did and would run would I would run. I ran a lot of it and had good energy during that time. This was also during the night. I’ve heard many stories that people dread when daylight turns to night. Your confidence goes down and it is harder to run and navigate the trail. Well, for my first 100 miler, it was the opposite. It felt great. We rattled off the miles. I was waiting for that hallucination that people have talked about and it never came. I was normal and aware. The only wildlife I remember seeing was probably around 2:30am when a bat swooped down close to my headlamp for a split second. Other than that I didn’t see anyth…..wait. I’m lying.

At one point Gary and I were approaching 3 runners with headlamps. When we came upon them, the woman in the back had on a string bikini, with bunny ears on and a bunny tail on her…”tail”. We greeted each other with a kind of snicker. I could not think of anything really to say, so as we passed I said “thank you very much and you folks have a pleasant evening”. We all laughed. So….Gary and I also saw a rabbit.

As we came into the Mohican Adventure AS for the third time at around 4:00am, we looked for Caryn and Anne but could not find the Jeep. I then pointed out to Gary that I thought that was the Jeep over there. Gary ran over and told them we had been at the AS waiting. When they approached, I apologized to them for waking them up and told them Gary and I were working on our night moves. They must have liked those comments. I was still feeling good and had one more 23 mile loop to go.

Gary and I continued on. Unfortunately throughout the race, crew were not permitted at aid stations 3 and 4. So when we saw Caryn and Anne at the Fire Tower AS with about 15 miles to go, it was the last we would see them. I gave a final kiss to Caryn and said I’d see her at the finish. Here we are at mile 85, still feeling somewhat good…..

Mohican 100 4

Between Fire Tower and the next AS, Covered Bridge, I hit another wall. I was trying to eat as much calories as I could, but it just wouldn’t happen. Gary was a champ of a pacer. He consistently asked if I was eating enough and what I needed before we got to an AS. I couldn’t have asked for a better pacer. Towards the end, I did not eat. I was too tired and really couldn’t get food down and I was out of Tailwind. The last 10 miles we basically hiked and was blurry and hazy for me. With about 4 miles left, we were hiking with 2 other men, one was a pacer for the other. I was keeping track of time and I wanted to finish under 31 hours, but was concerned we wouldn’t finish under it. I told Gary that I wanted to run and we took off. Of course I hiked the climbs that I explained earlier during the final 2 miles, but we ran the rest. Even when I thought I was completely exhausted, I still had enough to run to the finish. I saw Caryn with her camera ahead of me on the paved trail and as we passed by them, they cheered. Gary directed  me past, then under the bridge, crossed the stream, onto the lawn, along the side of the pavilion, and into the finish shoot. I had finished my first 100 miler. There is Gary in the background leaving my side….

Mohican 100 5

Mohican 100 6

 

I had so much support behind me, including my wife and family. There was no way I was not going to finish this race. The Mohican 100 miler met all of my expectations.

It’s weird. I’ve thought about my feelings towards my first experience with a 100 miler. The only thing that comes to my mind is that it feels like it’s home to me.

 

Mid-Maryland 50K- ’16

The Mid-Maryland 50K was held on February 13th and was located southwest of Baltimore near Elkridge, Maryland. It now has been more than a month since I ran it that very cold day. Leading up to this race, I had done little long distance running since November. A lot of life events have happened in between November and now. They have been hard and tough to deal with. If there is pain, getting out and running seems to ease it, at least for a little while. This 50k did just that.

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The 50K was a 10K loop run five times through rolling woods and fields. It crosses over a few small streams. Luckily there were small bridges that allowed us to cross these streams. On this day, no one would want wet feet. With the windchill, the temperature was 0(zero) degrees or colder! And where the start, finish, and aid stations were situated, it felt colder than that. Each loop I did, I prepared myself for the open field that the pavilion aid station was located. The wind definitely didn’t make things easier.

The day or two before this race, my home town had about 5 inches of snow. I was not concerned, though. I really needed this race to clear my head. The morning of the race, the more south I drove, the less snow I saw on the ground. By the time I got to the start, there was no snow, just solid ground that was hard as a rock. Most of the loop consisted of this hard ground. Some spots were muddy, due to all of the snow that had been dumped on the northeast.

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There was one spot on the course, possibly 3 miles into the loop, where we circled around half a baseball field and then went up a small steep incline out beyond the outfield fence. Some sort of football team(reminded me of flag football), were practicing on the outfield. Here it was below zero degrees with the windchill, and these idiots were practicing flag football. I then thought about what I was currently doing and then thought better of the “idiot” comment.

The aid station at each loop was nice. They had the basics that all ultras have: chips, pretzels, gels, fruits, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and drinks. It was that cold, however, that the stuff that could freeze, did! I really can’t say enough about the race director and the volunteers who helped put this event on. I could tell they had cleared multiple locations of the trail of snow and trimmed bush limbs. They also had to stand out in the cold while we continued to move. They were the winners of this 50K!

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Overall, I recommend this 50K to those who are just starting out in ultras, who enjoy a multi-looped course, and to those who just don’t give a care that it’s in the dead cold of winter.

Tussey MOUnTaiNBACK 50 Miler- ’15

After the Oil Creek 100K, I was looking forward to a little break from ultras. That was until my wife Caryn came home and told me she had a talk with one of my trail running friends. Donald had told her he was running in the Tussey mOUTaiNBACK 50 mile race the up coming weekend.

The Tussey mOUTaiNBACK 50 Miler was the first ultra I had ever heard of. In 2010, I was in the middle of running a lot of marathons and was interested in going further than the 26.2 miles they called for. When I searched ultras on the computer, Tussey was the first ultra that came up in my area. I read up on it, but in the end I chickened out. It was 50 miles and had multiple mountain climbs.

Fast forward to 2015 and I did not hesitate to sign up. At first I thought I was too late in signing up. Their website said sign up closed on Oct. 10th and it was Oct. 20th. The race was 5 days later, Oct. 25th. I went through the motions on their website anyways and sure enough, it allowed me to sign up!

The entire 50 miles is on gravel roads(about 75%) and regular roads(about 25%). I knew this was going to be tough for me. My legs were still recouping from Oil Creek and Tussey called for a lot of running.

That morning I met up with Donald and his friend Alicia, who would finish her first 50 miler that day. It was Donald’s 9th Tussey 50 miler. Just another walk in the park for him. Here’s Alicia and I right before the start….

Tussey Mtn 50m

I also saw Danny, who ran the Oil Creek 100 miler, and was at Tussey cheering on his friend Kate.

The weather was to be nice. Cool and a chance of rain in the morning, clearing and sun in the afternoon. It down poured 10 minutes before the start and did not rain again. It stopped right before the official “go”. Here is the start at 7:00am….

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The first 4 miles were a gradual incline. I settled into a slow jog heading up. I knew the more energy I wasted early, the less energy I would have late. Those first 4 miles, I think I stopped to hike once. I got to the first aid station(AS) at the top and did not stop. We quickly started the decline back down the mountain. I got into a nice running grove and before I knew it, I was at AS2. I stopped to munch on a couple pretzels and exchanged pleasantries with the volunteers.

The next 12 miles or so were rolling and very easy to run if your legs were fresh. I can normally tell how my day is going to go, in any type of race, during the first 10 miles or so. For me, Tussey was going to be a fight to the finish that day. Here’s the elevation profile…

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The Tussey event is not only an individual 50 mile challenge, but also includes a relay. I’m not sure what the rules were, but I believe you could choose how many runners would be in your relay, ranging from 2 to 6. Again, not sure if that’s right or not. What I am sure of is that throughout the entire race, relay runners would wiz by me at top-notch speed. But not only runners, but also cars that were following along. No, Tussey is not like any other trail run I found out. There was no more than 10 minutes of “alone time” until a group of cars or runners would dart by me. They would give friendly comments as they went by. It turns out, the individual 50 mile runners were called “ultra”. “Good job ultra” and “looking strong ultra” and “way to go ultra” were the common gestures throughout the day. That was so much appreciated.

At mile 20, the famous “stairway to the stars” climb started. It was a 1,300 ft. climb in 3 miles, with a steep hill to start it off. It was described before the start as never-ending. You would make one turn thinking you were at the top, then you would climb again….

Tussey Mtn 50m 2

It did seem like it would never end. At one point near the top, I remember the sky getting much darker and the air getting much cooler. I am used to shorter, switch back type climbs on sign track, not the never-ending type.

I finally got to the top and AS6 around mile 25. There were 11 AS’s throughout the race, which was plenty. I also met up with Danny. His plan was to get some miles in the Rothrock State Park and also follow his friend Kate while doing so. He caught up with me for a few miles. We talked about the normal stuff ultra runners talk about: trail running apparel, other races, and beer.

After descending the mountain and around mile 30, I assessed the way I felt. It wasn’t that good. My legs were tired and my energy was blah. I thought of the reasons why I was out there in the first place…for the enjoyment, for the challenge, for the exercise, for the camaraderie with other runners. I was experiencing all of them at the same time. I continued on. Throughout the day, I would see branch off single track trails that I would have gladly taken to mix things up a bit. The area was new to me, and the sights were great, especially during peak fall foliage season. I remember looking off to my right climbing up a hill and seeing nothing but a sea of yellow.

Danny met up with me for another mile or two, which helped me along. After another gradual incline, this one about 800 feet in 3 miles, and another descent, I approached AS10 roughly 40 miles in. This stretch was also along a paved road….

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Earlier I commented that my experience that day could end up being a fight to the finish. I did not disappoint. The fight was definitely with my legs. The ultras I had done in the past month or so were finally catching up with me. Heavy, sore, achy, twitchy. You name it, my legs felt it. But hey, this was a 50 mile race. And I signed up for it. I accepted the fight with the legs as just another challenge and it was just what I wanted.

I got to the top of the last climb at mile 45 and felt relieved. Maybe it was because I knew I was going to complete it. Normally I would relish in a downhill finish, but I knew these last 5 miles were going to be painful. I thought of all that I had accomplished in the past few months and I was proud of myself. I ended up running/hiking the descent. Once at the bottom, I was able to run the last mile and a half to complete the race, about an hour slower than what I wanted.

As the wise man said, a great time is not always measured with a watch. I agree with that man. I’ve learned that over 10 + years of running and that’s one thing I’m most proud of knowing. I’m competitive. But sheer enjoyment reigns supreme over anything else. If I would measure my running happiness simply on how fast I ran an event, I would’ve given up on running long ago and would have taken up Nascar driving or something of the sort.

Run on, friends!

Oil Creek 100K- ’15

I wasn’t as nervous or excited for this year’s Oil Creek 100K compared to my first ever 100K race(Oil Creek 100K- ’14) last year. I knew what to expect coming in to this one. I now have confidence in being able to run 62 miles. I know what it takes.

The weather was spectacular this year. It was foggy and cool in the morning hours and sunny and comfortable in the afternoon hours. I don’t know if the high temperature even reached 60 degrees.

The night before, my heart rate was tested. While unpacking at the hotel we were staying in, I realized I had forgotten my hydration pack. I sat motionless on the bed for about 3 minutes letting all the panic set into my body. When my wife came back into the room, I explained what happened. Luckily, my close trail running family was also at Oil Creek this weekend. Luckily, one of my trail running family friends, Anne, offered me her  brand new hydration pack. She wouldn’t need to use it until later on to pace our friend Kristen in her 100 miler. It would end up that another trail running friend, Jen, would loan her hydration pack to Anne!

Anne is a small lady. After about 10 minutes of adjusting straps, I was good to go. I also needed a water bottle for the Perpetuem I was planning to use. Luckily another trail running friend Danny, who appeared 10 times as prepared as I, loaned me a bottle. Danny also ended up coming in 3rd place in the 100 miler. I was now set.  I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for my running buddies being so generous, I wouldn’t have been able to complete and/or enjoy the day. Many thanks to them!

The next morning, we gathered inside the Titusville Middle School for a briefing from the race director. Here is a picture of my wife Caryn and I….

Oil Creek 1

The race began at 6:00am. The course is a 50K loop around Oil Creek State Park. I would run two loops around it. With headlamps on, we hit the paved trail for about a mile and a half before climbing our first of four main climbs(per loop). It was a foggy morning. With the headlamp on, mist was making it kind of hard to follow the trail at first. I was also in no hurry, so I settled behind a few people and took my time. Once at the top of the hill, I started to get into a good easy running rhythm. I also realized that the hydration pack Anne loaned me, fit like a glove…even better than my own!

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After meeting Caryn and Anne at the second aid station 14 miles in, odd thoughts started creeping into my mind. I had a goal of finishing this race before nightfall. That would be equal to a 13 hr and 30 minute finish, or faster. At about mile 20, I did some calculations with my Garmin and it appeared I was starting to get behind on that goal. Negative thoughts started creeping in. After AS 3 around mile 23, I kind of eased back and told myself that just finishing would be sufficient enough and to enjoy the day. And it was beautiful out there!

It was also around that time that a couple asked me what time of day it was. I told them it was 10:45am. She mentioned something to the runner she was with that she would hope that they would be beyond AS 3 the following morning by that time. They were obviously 100 milers. I wished them good luck on their journey and I continued on up the two climbs leading out of the AS. I then realized that my Garmin watch was a little off, and that I was still on pace for a nice finish. I knew finishing before nightfall was a stretch, so I told myself to try to finish under the 14 hour mark.

I felt good coming in to the middle school after the first 31 miles. Last year the first loop took me 6 hrs, 22 mins…this year I came in at 6 hrs, 30 mins. I felt 100% better than last year. I felt sluggish after the first 31 miles last year, and hesitated going out for the second loop. This year I rushed to get back out there! My legs felt great throughout the day. I ran the Blues Cruise 50K- ’15 the weekend before and I think it helped flush all the lactic acid out of my legs. At least, that’s what I think.

I had been told previously by Ryan, another running friend who ended up finishing 10th this year in the 100K, and Danny, to try to get in and out of aid stations as fast as possible. I was definitely doing that. I was probably averaging less than 2 minutes per station. Last year at the 38 mile AS, I remember struggling and sitting down for a good 10 minutes before forcing myself to keep going. This year I approached the same AS knowing it would be different. As I was there, I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself knowing what had happened last year. After about a minute of grabbing bits of food, and filling up on fluid, I did another circle around, pondering what else I needed. The fact was, I needed nothing else. I mumbled “F*** this place”, and off I went. I wasn’t putting the aid stations down. Oil Creek’s aid stations are the best I’ve seen, with friendly volunteers. But I was hungry, hungry for revenge.

I felt so strong throughout the second loop. Caryn told me afterwards that it was night and day looking at me from last year’s race to this year’s race…other than my massive beard I had last year. She said I looked and seemed great. And I did. While out there, I thought of all the tough runs and races I did this year leading up to the OC 100K. Specifically, I thought of a weekend on the New York A.T.- ’15. It’s tough training runs like these, where the trail consisted of jagged rocks and steep inclines/declines, that made running Oil Creek so easy.

Oil Creek

I still had some work to do to complete the 100K. Approaching Petroleum Center around mile 45, Caryn and Anne were there to greet me. Anne filled up HER hydration pack again for me, and Caryn gave me more S-caps(salt capsules) for the final 17 miles. Caryn followed me for a tenth of a mile and gave me the encouragement I needed to finish strong. I told her I felt like I’d be able to finish stronger than I did the first lap.

At mile 47 or so, I started to get a sharp feeling in my left knee. My IT band, it turns out, wasn’t liking what I was doing to it. Each time I would run downhill, no matter how slight the incline was, I would feel it. It caused me to hike more than I wanted. It would feel fine after hiking for a period of time, but then it would re-appear after running on it. At the last AS, I had remembered something from earlier in the day. I remembered giving that couple the time of day…10:45am. I had finished the loop at 12:30pm. That was exactly 1 hr and 45 minutes it took me to complete that last 8 miles of the first loop.

If I were to finish in under 14 hours, I’d have to run the last 8 miles in 2 hours. I continued on, still feeling good, other than my IT band issue. I continued to follow my Garmin watch and estimate the time I would arrive at the finish. I heard the familiar sound of the drill at the Drake Well Museum. It’s a notification for all of us that we are approaching town/middle school. As soon as I started hearing it, it seemed my IT band issue disappeared. This is something I’ve often pondered about. Was my mind just blocking the pain? Was my adrenaline flowing that much that I couldn’t feel my knee anymore? At any rate, I felt fine coming down that last hill. At the bottom, I thought I heard my name being called. I heard it again. It was Kristen ahead of me. How she knew I was behind her, I have no clue. Maybe it was my smell?! I wished her good luck and told her she was kicking a**. She had about 40 more miles to go when I saw her. She ended up cutting more than 2 hours off of her previous 100 mile time! She earned it with all the training she put in!

I still felt good as I hit the pavement for the final mile. I ran that final mile with confidence in 9:46. As I made the final turn and into the straight away to the finish, I turned off my headlamp and appreciated the lit up finish line. I crossed the line at 13:43. I had run the last 8 miles in 1 hr and 47 minutes….2 minutes slower than the first final 8 miles of the loop.

I gave my wife a kiss and she congratulated me. I received my buckle from the race organizer and thanked him on another great experience. Next year I may challenge myself to a new distance.

Blues Cruise 50K- 2015

I had been told by one too many people who said the Blues Cruise 50K ultra was a fun and runnable race and that I should do it. The event was 6 days prior to the Oil Creek 100K I was signed up for, but I knew I wouldn’t have an issue with 5 days of rest in between. I decided to sign up for it.

Blues Cruise is located west of Reading. It is put on by the running group Pagoda Pacers, a known running group who put on fun and challenging races. The race is a loop around Blue Marsh Lake. For the past few years, they have reversed direction of the course. The even years are clockwise, odd years are counterclockwise. I was told the counterclockwise is a little tougher with more hills located towards the finish.

Fellow running friends Mary Lou, Gary, Matt, Jay, Rick, and Ethan were also running the event. It would be Ethan’s first ultra race. My trail running friend Kristen was there to cheer on Ethan. She would be running her second OC 100 mile race the following weekend.

The weather was to be sunny and nice. There had been rain a day or two before the event and there was questions as to how muddy the course would be. No worries for me, I like getting dirty.

The start was your basic “on your mark, get set, go” type of start. Here I am on the left, shortly thereafter….

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I knew there would be lots of running and minimal hiking with this race. With the OC 100K the following weekend, I knew it would be somewhat tricky to conserve energy for it.

The aid stations were spread out every 4 miles or so. They were often and plentiful and there were multiple food options with each. It is known that the Blues Cruise is a great “first timer” race. If you are struggling, aid is usually a close proximity away. Here’s a picture of one of their buffets with one of their friendly volunteers….

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I bypassed the first aid station. That was the first time I passed through an aid station in an ultra event. I will at least stop to eat a pringle or get a piece of a banana.

There were some muddy spots on the trail, but overall, it wasn’t that bad. Here I am in the first 10 miles or so of the race….

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I really enjoyed the diversity of this race. One minute we were running in the woods, the next we were running in an open field, the next we were on a wooden bridge, viewing the lake, the next on a side of a road.

Supposedly, the toughest hill was around mile 15, but for some reason I don’t remember it. I do remember that it was starting to get warm outside, warmer than I was expecting. I hadn’t been taking many salt tablets, so I decided at that point to start taking more.

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Trying to conserve for the following week, I found out, was trickier than expected. I was definitely exerting more energy than I would have hoped. How dumb of me to look past a 50K ultra without giving it proper attention. In the back of my mind, I knew I could run a little harder, but not much.

The last 10 miles or so included some ascents and descents. I decided to be passive and hike each one of those hills. I was also taking full advantage of each aid station.

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The last couple miles included a view of the dam leading to the Blue Marsh Lake, a climb up a road, some rolling fields, and a finish back at the park. Here I am at the finish. I still had enough energy to express my feelings for this race….. with a high-five to the sign….

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Rick finished a few minutes before me and said he shaved minutes off of his time from the previous year. Matt and Jay finished a few minutes after me, and they were also pleased with their strong finishes. Gary finished a little later on. He likes to climb more and wasn’t sure how he’d do with this flatter type of ultra. Afterwards, he was pleased with himself. Mary Lou finished her second ultra. She said it was her toughest event to date, but still managed to beat her only other 50K time.

Ethan finished soon after Mary Lou. He told me he ran the last few miles, not stopping to hike once. That is impressive considering the hills that were included. I think he’s a hook, line, and sinker for another ultra in the future.

As for me, it was an ultra that I really enjoyed, one that I will definitely go back to in the future. Speaking of future, onward to the Oil Creek 100k….

Baker Challenge 50 Miler- ’15

The Baker Trail is a 132 mile foot trail featuring roads, dirt roads, old jeep trails, and single track trails in wooded lands and farmlands located northeast of Pittsburgh. Each year a group of knowledge, experienced trail/ultra runners put on an ultra run. They separate the run into three segments: northern trail, central trail, and southern trail. This year was the central portion of the trail, which consisted of about 70% road/dirt road and 30% trail.

Baker Challenge2

The night before the race, I went to the finish. The finish was someone’s home. Yes, someone’s home, and it was a farm. The GPS stated that I had arrived at the destination on the left. I looked left and there was a corn field. I drove about 100 yards further down and saw the sign that said Baker Challenge Ultramarathon, and pointed in the direction of a farm. When I pulled up and parked, an older man asked if I was pre-registered. I said yes, and he said to mosey on down to the house to pick up my bib and get something to eat. There were tents set up by fellow runners. This was where the bus would pick us up and take us north to the start the following morning. I didn’t want to mess around with a tent, so I decided to book a room in Punxsutawney about 20 minutes away. Yes, I knew I was going to see my shadow the next day, multiple times.

As I entered this nice, old farmhouse, the first thing I noticed was spaghetti, salad, and Italian bread spread out across the kitchen area. On the dining room table was where to check in and get our “goodie bag” and bib. I then asked if I was included on this dinner feast and she had said yes, to help myself. I did, then went out back onto their deck to a beautiful view of open farmlands with the other participants that were there. They had Dogfish Head beer and water that we could help ourselves to as well! So far, this race was an A+, and it hadn’t even started.

The next morning, the race director said “go” and we were off. We started on paved road and continued for some time. Normally, ultra events are on single track trail or at least in wooded areas. Seldom around these parts of the country do you find road ultras. The second(middle) leg of the Baker Challenge is just that…rolling farmlands and roads.

I’m not going to say that the first 26 miles of the event were boring. There were brand new views and scenery that I experienced, but it wasn’t anything special for the most part. I will stress that throughout this whole event, the aid stations and the volunteers, were great. The participation was small this year I was told. It was mainly due to other ultra events in PA the same day. I’ll tell you this, the aid stations and the people manning them, were spot on and great. And knowledgeable, caring people at aid stations help a great deal. This race had both.

Around mile 26 or so, the trail entered the area of Mahoning Creek Lake, which included a nice view of a large dam that created the “lake”. It seemed like a small version of Raystown Lake, a winding body of water for miles. I turned to my right and this is what I saw….

Baker Challenge1

The trail was a single track trail at that point. I was told that part of the trail was just created a few months prior. I was not surprised. It was on the side of the mountain and the trail was not built up at all. The main issue was the slanting of the mountain. Each step was at an angle. And there were some rocks. I’ve been traversing the NJ and NY portions of the A.T. in recent months, so this part was no issue. Afterwards, however, other participants said they hated this part. I loved it. It showed since I must have passed 10+ runners in that section.

At the aid station around mile 34, I was feeling rather good. I had a specific time I wanted to finish the race in and I was well ahead of that time at that point. From the elevation chart, I had gotten through all the major climbs. I also knew that there were a few miles left on some shaded, jeep type trail, before I reached mile 40. The rest of the race was then open and susceptible to the open sun, and paved roads.

The last 10 miles were a struggle. I had run low on my salt tablets and it was showing. I must say, I have to thank a participants’ husband for helping me through those tough miles. He was following his wife throughout the event and I would see him throughout the race. He offered cold water when he drove by during the late miles .He’d give encouragement and would offer water, Gatorade, or salt tablets to me. Most of the time I declined, but at one point I took up his offer and had some Gatorade and a dump of ice water on the head. At the last aid station at mile 44, he stuffed ice in my hat to put on my head for the last few miles to help keep my body temperature down. I thanked Lloyd, and his wife, who blew past me at mile 43, after the race. They have run local races including the Hyner Challenge and Rothrock, and are from Pittsburgh. They are obviously originally from another country with their accents. I’m pretty sure they said New Zealand when talking to someone else. I hope to see them again!

The last 5 miles I dealt with is what I like to call, “the run/walk thing”. I’ve always used that terminology when I run out of gas/energy during the end portion of a race mostly during marathons. Both of my calves were cramping when I would attempt to run, so mostly it was a shuffle.

The last mile was interesting. I was expecting to finish on the main road and then turn back to the farm that I had been at the night before. Instead, they had us turning right, into a green pasture, up over a hill, down the hill, then through a wooded area, to the finish. It was quite a capper to a different type of ultra for me.

I received 1/3 of a medal. Yes, one-third. Here’s a picture of a participants’ medal prior to this event. She completed it and is now a full medal. Awesome!…

Baker challenge medal

For me, to get the full medal, I have to go back and complete the first portion and the third portion of the Baker Trail.

Sign me up!

New York Appalachian Trail- ’15

I had been looking forward to the New York portion of the A.T. for a long time. Part of the reason was because I planned back to back 45 mile days. Two long distances on consecutive days were a challenge in itself, but on the A.T., it was going to be extra challenging.

A running buddy, Matt, decided to join me. My wife Caryn, and running friend Joe, were kind enough to follow us around and meet us roughly every 7 miles. Here are Matt and I bright and early Saturday morning…

NY A.T.

We started at the northern part at the Connecticut border and went south. The first 10-12 miles were actually very runnable. There was a mountain and a few hills that we hiked up, but overall, we were pleased with the terrain. Mixed in with the mountains were a few fields, including a marshy area. Here we are just chilling out. The adirondack chairs had “North to Maine” and “South to Georgia” inscribed in them….

NY A.T. 12

A couple of miles later, we came upon this walnut tree. It must have been 200 years old. I’m fascinated by the strength, longevity, and beauty of trees. This one was radical….

NY A.T. 1

Gradually, we started to see a change in the terrain the more south we went. Matt made the comment that it was starting to look like New Jersey. I agreed, and also seemed it looked like Pennsylvania. From mile 20 on, the normal view of the trail would be as follows…

NY A.T. 6

The elevation changes and rocky sections were starting to put wear and tear on our bodies. We climbed yet another mountain and were on a ridge for a few miles. At this point, both Matt and I were on our own. I then got to an overlook and could hear people. To my surprise, I looked down to see a sandy beach with lots of people. It was one of multiple lakes scattered throughout northern New York. Here is the view…

NY A.T. 4

The climb down this mountain was steep and rocky. Eventually, Matt decided to call it a day. Here’s the best crew ever, and Matt, trying to figure out where our current location.

NY A.T. 5

I decided to keep going. By this point, both of my feet were feeling it, with multiple blisters on each foot. I was still in good spirits though, and the trail was becoming more scenic, the more south I went. I was on a ridge when the sun was setting. I was hoping for a vista, but there was no opening. Through the trees, I watched the fiery red/orange sun fall below the mountains far in the distance.

I had about 2 miles to go to complete the 45 miles for the day. I had my headlamp with me, but decided to leave it off. There was just enough light for me. I remember approaching a hollow and thinking I was going into a black hole. It was so dark in there, but it was really cool, too. I stopped and just listened. It was so quiet. There were no sounds other than the crickets.

As I popped out of the woods and on to Route 9, my crew welcomed me. I felt relieved and glad that I could cover that distance in one day. We drove directly to the hotel. My wife bought me two large slices of pizza that I promptly woofed down.

After a restless sleep, Sunday morning came very quickly. My goal for the day was to see how much of the 45 mile section I could complete. The first 7 miles would dictate how much trail I’d cover for the day.

I could tell when I started running, that my energy/calorie supply was low from the previous days miles. Lots of climbing was still in store. By about mile 4, I realized that in order for me to enjoy the day, there would be no way I would complete the 45 miles planned. I had already climbed a few hills and had been navigating around rocks and boulders. From about mile 30 on Saturday, and the first 4-5 miles on Sunday, I averaged 20 minute miles or more on most of them. It’s not because I was too tired to run, but it was because it was impossible to run most of those miles.

At mile 5 on Sunday, I got to the Bear Mountain bridge. I knew I had to cross it to meet the crew, but I also noticed zero white blazes on the bridge. I thought that was very odd. Once on the other side, I figured out that the A.T. goes through the zoo. It was closed, so I had to follow the blue blazed trail to meet back up with the white blaze near the Bear Mountain Inn. Here is the bridge followed by the entrance to the zoo….

NY A.T. 9

NY A.T. 13

As I met my awesome crew by the lake near the Bear Mountain Inn, I let them know that I wasn’t going to try to do the total 45 miles for the day. If I were to get 20 miles in for the day, I would be ok with that. The plan is to complete the last southern section of the New York A.T. the day before conquering the Connecticut section next year.

The climb up Bear Mountain lasted about 2 1/2 miles. There were 1,000 steps placed by the conservancy and groups of the A.T. back in the 1920’s. There is a lot of A.T. history around the Bear Mountain area, and in New York in general. A lot of the shelters are the originals and the first section of trail was created by Bear Mountain.

NY A.T. 14

I stopped a few times to enjoy the scenery and just enjoy the day. The weather was beautiful. It was great weather for it being August. After crossing over a dirt road and a paved road on the way up, I crested Bear Mountain. You can see for miles on end up there. You can even see New York City about 35 miles away. Here is one of multiple pictures I took of the views….

NY A.T. 11

After what seemed like an eternity of descent, then another smaller climb, I reached my crew. At this point, my energy level was rather low. I really didn’t eat much that morning, and wasn’t taking any of my S-caps and salt tablets.

Matt decided to finish the last 7 miles with me. Most of those miles were hiking. We hiked up and down more hills and mountains, trying to get proper footing underneath. I stopped multiple times just to rest. Towards the end of the last 7 miles, we were able to run/shuffle our feet. It was really nice to do that. The last 7 miles, we may have averaged 23-25 minute miles.

I am very glad that I was able to get the miles on the New York portion of the A.T. that I did. I could not have done it without Caryn, Joe, and Matt. I owe all of my enjoyment to them. Caryn and Joe were a great team. Caryn was the driver and Joe was the navigator with the map.

I was glad to hear that they were also able to get up to the tower on Bear Mountain while waiting for us to arrive at one of the crew stops. Here is a picture of them at the top…

NY A.T. 7

I am looking forward to more experiences and journey’s on the Appalachian Trail in the years to come!

New Jersey Appalachian Trail- ’15

I had been planning on running the New Jersey portion of the Appalachian Trail for a few months now and this past weekend, I was finally able to get out there and do it. Both of my parents and my wife came along to help crew me and make sure I didn’t make a wrong turn or didn’t get eaten by a bear. I knew bears were plentiful in New Jersey.

Saturday morning we found our starting spot not far from the New York/New Jersey border, stepped out of the Jeep, and were greeted with this bear….

NJ AT Bear

He circled around then headed in the direction of the southbound A.T.(the trail actually heads west for about 20 miles). Great, the same direction as I was headed! I started running after saying my goodbyes, crested a hill, and went down the other side. I started clapping my hands and yelling to try to scare the bear away. I heard the bear rumbling along and saw his footprints in the mud. Luckily, he disappeared, but in the mean time, I veered off the trail. I had to backtrack to get back on the A.T. This wasn’t the way I wanted the weekend to start.

Eventually, I got into a groove. The first 7 or so miles were a mix of wooded trail and wet, swamp like land. After meeting my family crew, I continued on. The trail opened up into a field. They had planks down due to the wetlands. These planks were scattered throughout the northern section of the NJ A.T.

After some more miles of woods and fields, I came to another wetland area. It reminded me of a local area where I live called Wildwood Lake…

NJ AT marsh

After about another 8 miles, I met with the crew again. They had watermelon, black bean burritos, bananas, chips, pretzels, pickles, Coke, and Gatorade for me. On average, I would meet them every 9 miles. Here they are…

NJ AT Crew

I had about 10 miles between the last crew stop and High Point, with a gradual elevation gain of about 1,200 feet. The first 4-5 miles of that section included woods and fields. It was really getting warm by then so I slowed down.

NJ AT marsh1

The terrain wasn’t bad. I then reached the mountain and climbed some more, eventually getting to High Point. Here I am with the monument in the background…

NJ AT High Point Monument

It was also around High Point where the trail turns and heads south. It also meant it was time to run the same ridge line as the eastern PA A.T. And that meant ROCKS! The last 10 miles or so of the 33 mile day included shark fins(my term for rocks that are shaped like fins that stick out of the ground just enough to cause havoc for hikers and runners) and rock climbing. There may have been a field and swamp area in there as well, but was primarily steady rocks on the trail.

NJ AT rocks

I finished the first day already worrying about the next day. It was to be 37 more miles. The temperature was to be even warmer, with it in the high 80’s and a feel like temperature of 95. The terrain was to be rocky, but I wasn’t sure how rocky.

I woke the next morning with those same thoughts. I would stick to the game plan of putting one foot in front of the other and see where it would lead me. The crew and me were able to get an earlier start than the day before. Who knew how long this day was going to take. I took my headlamp along just in case the day would turn to night.

The first few miles had shark fins scattered throughout. It can get frustrating when you are unable to get into a rhythm. I would run a few tenths of a mile, then would have to slam on the breaks or carefully navigate the fins/rocks. Early on I saw what I thought was a hound dog sprinting across the woods, but then realized it was a baby white fawn, with a brown head. Here is the picture, with the fawn’s mother in front followed by the white fawn behind….

NJ AT white fawn

I could tell it was already warmer than the morning before, but I also knew that I would be in the mountains more, which meant more shade.

Like I said earlier, I was heading southbound. A lot of through-hikers were making their way northbound. The atmosphere on the Appalachian Trail has always intrigued me. You could be out in the most remote place there is, but still have a feeling of connection or an attachment with the hikers. Exchanging hellos was part of the experience this weekend with them. Around 10 miles in or so, I was feeling kind of down and was tired and felt that maybe I wouldn’t be able to complete the 37 miles for the day. However, as I passed a lady hiker and her dog, she pleasantly said hello, then simply said “enjoy”. That hit a cord in me. I asked myself the following: Why am I doing this? What am I doing it for? How am I going to do it? Each question was easy to answer. It all came back to enjoyment. Shear enjoyment. I started to relax. I had the entire day to complete those last miles. There was no hurry. Within an hour, my negative thoughts were gone completely and I enjoyed the last 20 plus miles.

There were multiple ponds throughout the NJ A.T. This one showed up after my enjoyment came back. Think tranquillity, the sound of crickets, the smell of ferns and this little pond…nothing better.

NJ AT pond

I also realized that since I was in the shade a lot more this second day, it was not going to be as hot as what I thought. Every once in a while on top of the mountain, the trail would open up and there would be an awesome view. There was also a bit of a breeze that helped as well. Two women were having a picnic at the top of the ridge and one was nice enough to take this picture of me….

NJ AT vista

The trail didn’t get any easier. There were some rolling hills and lots of rocks. I met the crew around mile 25 and they were informed that the next few miles were going to be a lot easier running. It was…flat with no rocks. After a few more miles, I met up with the crew one last time before tackling the last 10 miles.

The last 10 miles were a mix of nice rolling trail and another vista or two. I also came across Sunfish Pond. It is a very big pond. It actually looks like a big lake. I had been told it was especially rocky in that section. The trail went right along the edge of the pond. Picture big rocks and boulders with thick brush, with hardly a trail visible to the eye. That’s pretty much how that stretch of trail was. The pond was beautiful, much like a lot of the NJ A.T. trail, but there was no way any normal trail would go through there. But it’s the A.T., and it’s not any normal trail!

That last 4 miles were an absolute luxury for me. I was pleasantly surprised that the trail going down into the Delaware Water Gap was not rocky at all, nor was it a steep decline. It was all gradually downhill. I was on cloud 9. It felt so good to run the last 4 miles and not have to stop at all to hike. There was a stream going down the gap with nice waterfalls. As I approached the bottom of the gap, then past the first parking lot and went under Interstate 80, I couldn’t help but feel proud and lucky to have run the New Jersey portion of the A.T. in two days. I had finished this day with multiple hours of daylight still left. I was also grateful that my parents and wife were willing to help me out with this challenge. Here I am at the end with my parents and wife…

NJ AT finish

World’s End 50K- ’15

World’s End State Park is located in Forksville, which is northeast of Montoursville in Sullivan County, PA. I am familiar with it because my father-in-law belongs to a camp in the neighboring town of Hillsgrove. I’ve gone up to that camp multiple times and love the area. So when I heard there was going to be an ultramarathon held close by, I jumped at the opportunity and signed up for their 50K. Most of the course is on the Loyalsock Trail. I have always wanted to run or hike on the LT and now was my chance to explore it.

Saturday morning came very early for both my wife Caryn and I. She surprised me a few weeks back by saying she would drive me up and crew and support me. The race started at 7:00am so we hopped in the jeep at 4:15am and took off. The forecast called for a warm and humid day with a chance of rain in the afternoon.

We had a briefing by the race director at 6:45am on some specifics about the course, it’s markings, and rattlesnakes. He said there could be a possibility that we’d run in to one. I have become accustomed to them now, and nonchalantly look for them on my trail runs. Unfortunately, on this race, I did not see or hear any. Here is the race director giving us some good info…..

WE

My trail running friend Gary was also doing the 50K. We started off on a dirt road and like main ultras, abruptly went off-road within the first half mile. Within 2 miles, we were climbing our first mountain. The first aid station was early, around mile 3. It was well placed, because once I stopped to get two orange slices, we immediately started climbing again…and this was a larger mountain. Once we crested the mountain, the trail opened up and could get some good running in. Throughout the day, I heard multiple people say how surprised they were about how runnable much of the trail is. I was expecting more rocks and less “groomed” single track.

I was somewhat concerned about the humidity, since it got to me a few weeks ago in another race and basically caused me to DNF. I made sure this time around my head was on straight and I took my time early on. That is exactly what I did. I was in no hurry with this event. With it being a brand new race, I wanted to take a step back and enjoy the beauty of it all. If I liked what I saw, I’d be back next year and “get after it”.

Caryn welcomed us at Aid Station 2 (AS2), which was along Sones Pond. It was very nice through there. We ran on soft pine needles. Can’t beat that. Here are Gary and I approaching the aid station(My wife could be a professional photographer. Trust me, I know. She’s taken thousands of action shots of me throughout my marathons I’ve run and they’re great.)……

WE1

My wife Caryn told me at the AS that someone on a bike had seen a bear not to far away from the AS. Thank goodness when we left, we were heading in the opposite direction!

Gary and I separated multiple times throughout the first half of the race, and that was fine. We made no plans of running with each other. We run our own runs. We decide how little or how much to get out of it. I always tell myself in any type of race to run within myself. Don’t let anyone dictate or control my pace or feelings during it.

At around mile 13 or so, I had a bit of a tough spot. I was losing lots of fluids, which is what I was expecting since it was humid. It wasn’t nearly as bad as my DNF weekend though. This day had a constant nice breeze that kept me somewhat cool at times. I dug deep, kept a level head, and most importantly, continued to fuel up on calories and fluids. At Rt. 154, I saw Caryn again, which also gave me a boost. I think it was also around this time where I knew the race was mine for the taking if I wanted to push a little harder. Here I am around that time…

WE2

Unfortunately, it was also around that time that Caryn told me that Gary was starting to cramp up. It was early for one to start cramping with half the race left to go. I had a decision to make. Should I run my own race, and possibly have that great feeling of finishing strong(Minqua-like stealth action) or should I help a friend out and stick with them to pull them through. I decided that if I caught back up to Gary, I’d stick with him to the end. This was a beautiful day, with beautiful views, excellent trails(by the way it reminded me entirely of the A.T. runs in PA last year), vistas, and was a new course. I thought holding back and enjoying it a little bit with a trail running friend would be the best choice.

I eventually caught up to Gary. We logged some good miles together and eventually got to AS4. Caryn was there and she had pickles, watermelon, and chips ready for me. They are my main 3 “go to” foods at AS’s….oh, and Coke, but we didn’t have any at the time. The actual AS4 did have Pepsi and Ginger Ale, so I took advantage of that also. Here we are approaching the AS…..

WE3

I’m glad I fueled up, because we had an immediate climb up a mountain after that. We ran into Gary’s trail running friends Mike and Laura, who have lots of runs and experiences under their belts. At the top of the climb, and around mile 22, we came to the Canyon Vista, and another AS. Here I am enjoying the day so far…..

WE4

We continued running when possible, and hiking when there were inclines. Rocks and boulders were also scattered throughout the entire park. Like I said, it reminded me of the A.T. runs we ran in PA last year. As a matter of fact, while I was running this race, I couldn’t help but think back about last summer’s A.T. adventures. On multiple occasions, a climb over a boulder, or a smell of a fern, or a little stream crossing, took me back to the fun I shared on the A.T. last summer. The WE 50K was turning into one of our P.A.T. runs….and I was having a blast!

The miles, like Gary and I, continued on. The last AS was roughly 4 miles from the finish. We hovered around there for a good 5 minutes, and then went on our merry ways. On multiple occasions, Gary was telling me to take off and quit holding back. I stuck with him. I know what it’s like when it gets tough. We ran when we could and hiked when we couldn’t. We got back on the World’s End Trail for the final mile down the mountain. We were glad to see the bottom of that mountain and parking area.

Caryn welcomed us as we approached the finish. Of course Gary wanted me to finish beside him, and I probably should have. But he deserved to finish before me. He fought and struggled and earned every bit of it. Here we are shortly after finishing…

WE7

I can’t and won’t say enough about the World’s End 50K. Part of me didn’t even want to post this because I want this race to be a “best kept secret”. The director knows what he’s doing and the post race food was phenominal. I don’t want others to know how nice, and challenging, and runnable, and beautiful, and diverse this race truly is. I know, it sounds completely rude. How could be so selfish of my own kind?! I just don’t want it to sell out in minutes in future years like I know it is going to. And, I don’t know, I may have been sold on it even before it started because of it near a cabin I’ve had some enjoyable times at. But after the race, it was pretty obvious. I really can’t wait to do it again next year!

Dirty German 50M D.N.F.- ’15

D.N.F.- That stands for “Did Not Finish” for those that didn’t quite get that.

If you want to read a blog post that has positive words and vibes, you’ve come to the wrong post. You may want to read the first and last paragraphs for some positive words.

The Dirty German Ultras(25K, 50K, and 50 Miler) are in Pennypack Park, which is located northeast of Philadelphia. The park runs north to south for about 20 miles, with a creek running through it. There are multiple trails within it, including a paved bike trail, and flat, dirt single track trails. For being so close to the big city, the park is well-kept. There were a few parts of the trail that had a bit of garbage along it, but overall, it’s a nice park for a weekend type event.

The trail is very runnable. There is hardly any elevation change and the trail itself is well-groomed, with hardly any rocks and roots. It is a very “easy” trail to run on. Of course, this thinking is exactly what caused me not to finish the race. FIRST MISTAKE

Leading up to a 50 mile race, one would think that in order to complete it, the runner should be mentally and physically prepared. I thought I was. After all, I did the Hyner Challenge and a marathon on back to back weekends a few weeks prior and succeeded. The elevation gain in Hyner was over 7,000 feet. The New Jersey Marathon was flat and fast. Heck, I was going to take care of this Dirty German 50 miler without an issue…easy peasy.

What I did was take a 50 mile race for granted. SECOND MISTAKE

It was a humid day, but when you sign up for an outdoor event, mother nature doesn’t stop and give you a cloudy, 60 degree day, just for you. She continues on.

The 50 miler consists of three loops around the park. The first loop was a good one. I felt good and my legs were well rested. I was conserving energy while running 9:30-9:45 minute per mile averages. This was just what I wanted for a 9 hour finish. THIRD MISTAKE.

How could I go into a 50 mile race without thinking through exactly the game plan. If I was thinking clearly, I would have: 1) not have had a finish goal time, 2) realized it was humid and would have adjusted my finish goal time to something respectable, 3) not planned the 50 mile run like it was a marathon by running straight through the first 12 miles without a walk break

I tend to sweat more than the average runner. So by about mile 14, my shorts, shirt, socks, and sneakers were soaked. I was staying fairly hydrated at the beginning, but at one point, it all changed. By the beginning of the second loop, around mile 17 or so, bad thoughts slowly crept into my head. FOURTH MISTAKE

I started walking more and was taking more salt, sodium, and water. At one point the thought of running about 32 more miles seemed impossible. I had traveled over 18 miles, and seemed like I had just started my run, but felt drained all at the same time. Sounds confusing, right? Yeah, I was too. At that point, I really started to “disconnect” from my run. The task of running 30 more miles really hit me hard. My mental preparation for this race was non-existent, so it was so easy for me to give in.

I certainly talked a big game coming into this race, thinking I could run a 50 miler with ease. And there I was at mile 24, going through how I was going to type this very post about my first D.N.F. FIFTH MISTAKE

How messed up is that?! Here I am not even half way through a race and all I could think of was how I was going to start this D.N.F FU*KING blog post. Yeah, exactly. As you can see, my mind was so far away from the trail I was running on.

It was a very long last 7 miles on that trail. At one point, my hydration seemed to be back on track, but my mind was so set on stopping after the second loop, that I didn’t even care. I crossed the start/finish line without a care in the world except I just wanted ice water. I didn’t care it was my first D.N.F. SIXTH MISTAKE

Adjective descriptions that best describe my 50 miler on Sunday: Carelessness. Uninterested. Not determined. No guts. Not willing to fight. Heartless. Close minded. Lifeless. (other words also come to mind, but I’ll refrain from sharing them)

There were some positives that came out of the ultra on Sunday. My trail running friend Matt, and his buddy Jay, fought through and completed the 50 miler with great will power. My other running friends Becky and Mary Lou, both succeeded in completing the 50K portion. Both of them are considered more road runners, than trail runners, which makes their accomplishments special. Even more special is that Becky won her age group and Mary Lou came in second in her age group! Another trail runner from my area, Rick, earned second place in his age group in the 50K!

For me, this race was a learning experience. Hopefully I’ll bounce back on my next run.