Friday, December 21, 2007

Trail Plans

We are heading north for Christmas to spend time with family and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Along with this vacation I will have a lot of time to run and hike. There are a large number of trails close to the places we will be staying, including the Laurel Highlands Trail (home of the Laurel Highlands Ultra) and the Massanutten Mountain Trail (home of the Massanutten Mountain 100). The weather is looking ok, it is going to be cold and wet with a little snow, but not enough to hinder running. I should be a great time.

Monday, December 10, 2007


This weekend I ran with the group RunByFaith. RunByFaith is a Christian running group where I live in Virginia Beach Virginia. Dana Johnston founded the group as a ministry to reach out to runners in the community. I have run with this group on a number of Saturdays and will continue to do so. We ran at First Landing State Park. This park consists of some mostly flat and smooth trails through the woods. It is a wonderful place to run or walk and we encountered many other groups of runners. It was a nice change of pace compared to the lack of runners in my neighborhood.

I am now taking 3 to 7 days off to let my ailing left hamstring heal some before the Christmas break. On this break I am planning on running multiple 20+ mile training runs on the trails around where I will be visiting. I am very excited about this opportunity to hit the trail and want to be fresh to make the most of it. My mileage has been bounding off 36 miles per week and I fell I can push it to 40 or 45 once I am able to heal this nagging injury. I first felt it 5 or 6 weeks ago on a 15 mile run. I was limping around the rest of the day after that run, including a 3 mile walk with my family. I appears to be getting slowly better but I want to allow it a few extra days off to heal. I need to start lifting my legs and need a healthy hamstring to do so effectively.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Ok, it has been quite a while since I posted here, but for certain I had good reasons to refrain. My wife and I had our first child shortly after my last post and things have been hectic ever since. I have had to let certain things go in my life, running not being one of these things. I am still running and striving for higher miles each week. Last week I ran over 34 miles, a weekly mileage record for me. This week I am set to hit 36. The dream is still alive. The colder weather has been good to my pace. I am still training injury free except for a few minor aches in my left foot/ankle. I have started to lift weights again and am trying to get the courage to blast a old time leg workout. I say courage because I am afraid of what it will do to me and my running. My legs have been feeling great lately and I know the leg training will cause them some soreness. I also am working on a lot less sleep than pre-baby, but I will survive this I am sure. Remember that pain is just weakness leaving your body.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Post Race Run

Thursday morning I set out for an early morning 3 miler, my first run since the Rock and Roll Half. I had to postpone this run by a day due to a sore foot / ankle. Ice does wonders for these ailments. This was an enjoyable run with no specific time or pace to meet. My dog Bailey and I ran along just enjoying life and listening to SteveRunners Podcast.

Shortly after I started running I noticed a newbie runner. Steve was talking about "this running life" and I pondered how running has changed my life and the adventure that this new runner was undertaking. If the runner keeps it up it will take them on adventure after adventure. I was excited for that person. I was the person again 2 miles later, this time walking. Upon seeing me he started running again. This made me feel good. We must always be there for our fellow man and challenge them to accelerate to great things. I believe my presence caused him to start running again, thus becoming stronger and faster because I choose to run.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Race Report Rock and Roll Half Marathon, VA Beach 2007

Sunday September 2, 2007 is a day I will remember forever. This day marked the 1 year anniversary of my first road race, the 2006 Rock and Roll Half Marathon. That day I ran the race in 2:17. A PR simply because it was the only half I had ever ran. One year later I thought I was wiser and faster. I have completed 3 Half Marathons with a PR of 2:00 flat. I ran this time in both of my previous two marathons. I was hoping to set a PR in this race, but that was not the case.

The day started early as my wife and I arose at 4 AM. We met up with our friends at there house, near the start of the race. My friend Rex and I were dropped off at the shuttle bus. When we arrived at the start we had some time to kill. It was a cool 70 degrees Fahrenheit that morning. This is a large race with 20,000 entrants and I watched in amusement as peope in costume milled around the staring area. The best costumes were two Geico Cavemen, and of course Elvis. As we lined up to start the race I chugged a gatoraid. I had not eaten much this morning and that would turn out to be one of my larger mistakes of the day. As I awaited the start I had the urge to go to the bathroom, it was too late now and I would have to go during the race.

The race started and we hit the line at around 7 minutes on the clock. I ran hard the first mile and was feeling ok, but not good. I hit the first set of bathrooms and lost a good 45 seconds right at mile one. I then fell in behind the 1:52 pace group. This is where I would stay for the next 3 mile. I got a huge boost as I ran past my wife cheering for me. She is my number one fan. Over the bridge I ran. Then I started to tire. This ended my hope of running with the 1:52 pace group for the entire race.

At mile 5 I fell off the pace and began to slow down. Clearly I had not eaten enough that morning and now I was paying for it. For some reason I waited to eat a gel that was in my pocket. The long trail run I ran the past weekend was taking a toll on my legs as they felt like lead blocks by mile 6. I started walking through the water stops. Not a way to set a PR. I was quickly revising my goal to just finish in 2:05.

As I ran mile 9, back over the bridge I knew I would soon get a boost from my wifes cheers again. This kept me going as I counted streets along the Atlantic Ave. Street by street I ran, quickly realizing that 2:05 may not be achievable. It is fascinating how you can revise goals so quickly while on the run. My mile 10 goals was now 2:10. I got a huge boost by all the cheering people from miles nine to the end of the race. They really kept me pushing towards 2:10.

I felt pretty good physically. My legs were heavy, but nothing was hurting more than usual. I sped up as I made the turn onto the boardwalk and ran hard for the next 1/2 mile. Then I had to slow down again. This process repeated itself for the last 2 miles. When I was within 1/2 a mile of the finish I sped up and started to sprint with 2/10 to go. I almost ran out of energy, but was able to cross the finish in 2:07. This was a PR for the course, but not anywhere close to my pre-race goal.

I love the crowd and the noise and the other runners on the course. It feels like a big happy family out there with everyone pulling for everyone. Before I ran I did not know what I was missing. The feeling I had when I crossed the finish line was amazing. Such a feeling of accomplishment. It is strange what goes through your mind while you are racing. I went through a lot of lows in this race and never really hit a high note. I was not able to reach that place where you push yourself beyond your known limits. I just never got my mind to that place. This race is quickly becoming my rival. I just have not been able to perform up to the level I have in other races. Maybe next year I will be able to conquer it.....

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hit The Trail

On Sunday I completed my first planned trail run. I have spent my entire life as an avid backpacker / hiker, but this was my first effort at running on the trail. This is a very important aspect of my training. The whole Ultra I am training for is on a trail similar to the one I ran this weekend. I ran a loop that took me to the top of Signal Knob, located just outside of Front Royal Virginia, in the George Washington National Forest. This mountain was used by civil war troops as a lookout and a place to signal from, hence the name. The trail climbs hard from the trail head and I covered over 2680 vertical feet of gain and loss on this run. The trail was approximately 11 miles in length and extremely rocky at times. I had to walk up most of the first four miles due to the rocks and grade. My biggest concern was spraining an ankle, because I have a half marathon to run this weekend. I wore my normal street running shoes and they worked well, but the trail was dry. I like to listen to music during my normal runs, but for this run I left the headphones in the car. As mentioned above I love being outside and I wanted to take it all in. At no point during the run did I miss my music.

The first part of the run left my moral low and put doubts in my mind. I made it to the first peak of the trail in just under 1:15, a very fast time for hiking, but I had to walk almost the entire way to the top. Where I live and train there are no hills or trails that match this type of terrain. This is a major concern of mine that must be addressed. I was not prepared for the beating that my legs would take. The climb left them tired and fatigued, not a good state to be in prior to running down steep rugged terrain. It did feel great to finally be on top of this mountain I have driven by so many times.

The downhill left me feeling like the best trail runner on the mountain. My moral peaked as I piloted my body down the hills and through the valley. This is where I will make up time I thought to myself. Running down the trail felt like reckless abandon. The kinetic energy that was flowing through my body was unmeasurable. This is why I choose to participate in this crazy sport. Now that I have a taste of it I must have more. Then I hit another long steep climb. This was not just an elevation roller coaster. My moral was inversely proportionate to the elevation profile. This climb was the low point of the run. At one point I slowed to a stop to rest and catch my breath. At the time I did not realize it, but looking back, as I climbed I was just loading up my potential energy for the fun downhill to come. I powered over the top and off I went running down the mountain. I passed two men backpacking up the hill and there jaws dropped as I came running past them. "Keep it up man", the one man commented. My moral shot back up and off I went.

I reached the trail head in 2:40 and was happy with my effort. I averaged around a 14 minute mile pace. As I drove off the mountain my lower legs hurt and my quads were shot. I realized that I must spend some time in the weight room strengthening my legs to take the downhill beating they will endure. I also realized that the run / walk strategy may be the best way for me to complete an ultra on the trail.

This run taught me a lot about myself. I learned that I can do this and I can succeed. The human body is capable of amazing feats, as long as the mind stays motivated and keeps all doubts out. I now know that I can do it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Week Running

So far this week I have only run on 7 miles Tuesday and 5 miles on Thursday. I am in a sort of taper mode for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon next weekend, but not exactly. I have planned a 10.5 trail run this weekend. I am really looking forward to break out of my "in town" running and hit the trail. I grew up loving the outdoors and backpacking and still do. My love for the outdoors and God's beautiful creation drives me. This is one of the reasons I am doing this.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Weekend Of Training

On Saturday morning I woke up at 6:30 and was running by 7:00. I had planned on running 12 miles, hopefully the second 6 faster than the first. I set off with my dog Bailey for the first 4 miles. Running with Bays is an adventure in itself. He is a little crazy for the first mile, then calm for the next few miles, then he starts to tire out. The big guy will run forever if you do not stop him, he will not give up, no matter how far or how hot. This is not always a good thing. After dropping him off I completed the my run. I did finish the last six miles stronger than the first and was happy to complete the 12 mile course without really slowing down much of walking.

Saturday afternoon I went camping with friends at False Cape State Park. This is a secluded place on a narrow stretch of land between the Atlantic Ocean and Back Bay. The only way to access the park is by hiking, biking, or boat. This trip we decided to bike in. It was around a 10 mile bike ride to our campsite. The site was right on the beach and by 6:00 pm we has the beach all to ourselves. We swam, rode some waves, cooked dinner, and passed out under a blanket of stars. The next morning we woke up, packed up, and headed for home.

I was tired on Sunday from all this activity, but it felt good to get on the bike and put in some miles. It also gave me legs a break from running.

My weekend totals: 12 mile run and 2 - 10+ mile bike sessions

Friday, August 17, 2007


I have to ask myself why. Why do I want to do this? What drives me from within? I do not know the answers to these questions. All I know that when one is driven to do something they do it only as long as the drive stays alive. Keeping the drive alive is the hardest part. I ran a 35 minute hard tempo run yesterday. This run did not stick out as an exceptionally good or bad run. It was hot and humid and I did not keep my tempo the entire time, but I did complete the run. The drive was there, but the drive was not burning hot like the coals of a fire. How do we stoke the drive and keep it hot and burning? By answering this question correctly one sets themselves up for success. This blog is just a tool to keep the drive alive and to be an account of my journey.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Dream

I am now just a few short weeks away from the Rock and Roll half marathon and my training has taken on a new type of focus, a drive from my inner being to accomplish the unthinkable. I have crazy ideas in my head. Ideas that were planted by the book “Ultra Marathon Man”. I want to run 30 miles on my birthday, January 13, 2008. This is the day that I will turn 30 years old and I cannot think of a better way to deal with this milestone age than this. I do not like the idea of turning 30, in fact I hate it, but as occupants of this earth we can do nothing to stop aging and eventually death. These things only answer to God. Hopefully we can just slow it down and believe in the idea that you are only as old as you feel.

The crazy ideas do not stop at running 30 miles on my birthday, but that is just the beginning. Some people aspire to run the Boston Marathon, and I too would love the experience, but my heart yearns for adventure and a pure test of the human spirit. I believe that this lies in the Ultra Marathon. An Ultra is defined as any distance over 26.2 miles. This distance not achievable without precise training and planning. This is the ultimate test of the human spirit and will.

I have a goal to complete the Laurel Highlands ultra marathon. This even occurs on June 14, 2008 and is held on the Laurel Highlands Hiking trial. The trail is 70 miles long and has many harsh ascents and descents. As a youth in Boy Scouts I hiked almost all the trail in pieces, and last year I completed all but a 3 mile section, so I am familiar with the trail and terrain. With 11 months to train I believe that I can accomplish my goal in a timely manner. Where there is a will there is a way.

My number one challenge will be staying motivated, motivated to rise before the sun to train, to push on when it hurts, and to make time for all this running. I cannot lose track of my roots and strength train and lift, as it is very important to me to not lose muscle mass in the process. I think I have finally found something athletic that I may be able to accelerate in. Only time will tell. I take much comfort in knowing that most elite ultra endurance athletes are in there 30’s and 40’s. Some have not even started training until there 30’s. I know that I still have time to do it.