Monday, December 8, 2008

2009 Plans

Today I officially started my 2009 season training. I signed up for the Massanutten Mountain Trail 100 (MMT) lottery. As it stands right now I have a greater than 50% chance of getting into the race and not being placed on the waiting list. Since I have never attempted this race before and never put my name into the lottery there is little chance I would move off the waiting list if I am not picked outright. The backup plan is to go and run Laurel Highlands Ultra again.

If I get into MMT I am going to try and put together a Laurel Highlands relay team and run it that way. Anyone interested?

I will likely run Holiday Lake and Promise Land in preparation for my bigger race. This will give me a benchmark on my condition as I can compare times on these courses.

Tomorrow at 4 PM I will know if I get into MMT. Wish me luck!

Friday, September 12, 2008


I realize that it has been a while since I have posted. My training has been average and I need to ramp it up as there are only 2 months left until Mountain Masochist. This weekend I am competing in an adventure race. This is something I have never done and am really looking forward to completing the 4-hour race. I will report back on how it went.

Now for some housekeeping. I have taken down my lame ultra training page. After Masochist I plan on publishing a proper guide that takes into account all my experiences in training. My knowledge about the sport is still in an infant stage, but when I originally posted the page I was a premature baby in the sport. I also plan on reviewing some of the products that I have started to rely on while running distance. The larger undertaking I want to start is a weekly post of how my training has been going. I am not just talking about miles, but how I have been feeling and what I have been thinking while wearing my running shoes.

I am giving up the artificial sweetener aspartame (also called NutraSweet). I am now looking at labels to prevent myself from ingesting it. The hardest part of this is giving up diet soda. I love diet soda and aspartame may be why. I am on day 2 right now and though I have occasionally craved a diet coke, I have felt no ill effects. I am still partaking in saccharine sweeteners for my iced tea. Saccharine has been around for over 100 years and is considered much less harmful than aspartame. I will discuss all this in a future post.

I want to dedicate a large post to the tarsal coalition condition that will serve to help others with this condition gain confidence that they can still compete. My foot has felt well the last couple of months. I have begun Chiropractic care and that seems to really help.

Sorry for the very random post, but I had a bunch of stuff on my mind.

Friday, July 18, 2008

No More Big Toenail

5 weeks almost to the day after the Laurel Highlands Ultra my right big toenail gave up and finally separated from the toe. This morning while putting on my pants I had a funny feeling in my toe. Upon inspection it was very loose, so I clipped it back almost to the cuticle. Recently it had turned to a milky color, so I know it was going to happen soon. Enjoy the pic!

[caption id="attachment_110" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Missing Toenail "]Missing Toenail [/caption]

Laurel Highlands Ultra Action Pictures

A fellow Runner, Paul Rudman sent me this link to the pictures he took while running the race. This should give you a real feeling about how bad the terrain is, and how wet it really got that day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tarsal Coalition and Me

The day after I completed The Laurel Highlands Ultra I could not put weight on my left foot / ankle. This was not uncommon as I have had similar pain to a lesser extent before. After a few days the pain level went down, but not away. I decided to see an Orthopaedic specializing in the foot and ankle. After a lot of X-Rays he determined and diagnosed me with a Tarsal Coalition. The bones in the back of my foot do not work properly and cause pain. Under normal circumstances I do not have any pain. I did not have pain during or after any previous 50k races, but the 70 at Laurel Highlands put it over the top. It is now 5 weeks after the race and I am still in a small amount of pain. The doctor recommended that I stop running on trails and only run on the road. To me this is a bad option. He competes in ironman length triathlons and recommended that I start doing that as well to take stress off the foot. I have no plans to stop running on the trails. Surgery is an option, but it may or may not help. My next race is in 16 weeks. I have not been able to resume training properly yet, but hope to get my mileage up to a higher level soon. I am not sure why I am sharing this, but I am. Please pray for me and my foot.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Foot Issues

I went to see Dr. Stewart today at Virginia Sports Med to see what is going on with my ankles/feet. After a round of xrays I found out that I have a condition where 1 bone is too large and fills a hole up. This does not allow a ton of lateral movement or rolling of my feet, thus I easily roll ankles. This puts stress on the muscle band that runs over the foot and under the outer ankle bone. Dr. Stewart suggested that I run on roads only and I should be ok. This is not an options as I love the trails and mountains. We could do orthodics in my shoes, maybe would help, wear the correct shoes will definitely help a lot. The last resort is a surgery where he would remove part of the bone and then put some tissue in the hole. This has worked for some, but not all patients. This is probably the long term solution once the pain is not stop and prevents me from running.

Monday, June 23, 2008

C25K - The Couch To 5 Kilometer Plan

Running is a huge part of my life and thus impacts all those around me to a degree. I wish all of you would pick up a pair of shoes and head out the door for a joyous run. It is a true stress reliever and builds confidence like nothing else I know of. For those of you who want to start running I recommend the 9 week couch to 5K (C25K) running program. The official site is located at The actual plan is located on the cool running site.

This program is designed to take you off your couch and put you on the road. You will start off with alternating between walking and jogging. Do you worry about pace. Most of the workouts are based on time. The ones based on distance can be easily measured with the odometer on your car. Nothing to precise here, do not worry about running exactly 1 mile, just get close. Give it a try and in 9 weeks you will be running 5k, or 3.1 miles. YOU CAN DO THIS. I know you can.

One last note: If you get a few weeks in are going to stick with it go and invest in a pair of running shoes. Go to a running store and get fitted for the correct shoe. They will measure your feet and watch you run and recommend a shoe. I know it is more expensive this way, but your health is priceless and the correct shoes will make it so much more enjoyable.

DISCLAIMER: Running is addictive. Try this at the risk of -

  • Waking up early on the weekends to run

  • Wondering why I missed my run this morning

  • Getting wet while getting in your miles on the road

  • Making your whole family healthier from you lifestyle choices

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Laurel Highlands Ultra 2008 Fact Sheet

  • Temp: 60 - 70

  • Weather: Rained for 12 hours straight, heavy at times

  • Weight: 183 lbs. pre taper and eat week

  • Health: It all feels good going in

  • Trail Conditions: Course was wet before it rained, very wet and muddy afterward, my feet were wet for all but miles 19 - 23, I changed shoes at 19 and it started to pour at 23

  • Injuries: I fell once - it did not hurt anything

    • IT Bands - Both knees hurt when running down hill in the middle miles, this went away, I took advil and did not run so much, did not hurt at all after race

    • Left Ankle - hurt from wearing hardrocks, not to bad in race unless I landed awkward on it, really hurt next day - I was on crutches until wed after race

    • Blister on the heel of right foot - hardrocks (maybe, new socks could have also caused it)

    • Feet - as beat up and sore as to be expected

    • Toenails - right big one is very black and sore, I may end up losing it soon

    • Overall soreness - very sore for 2 days, muscles felt ok after that

    • Fatigue - Very tired entire week after the race, still tired 8 days out

  • Equipment - ASR4s and injini toe socks rock - I wore these for majority of the miles with soaked feet and no blisters, this is the winning combination from now on. I love this combo

  • Food - Shot block every 10 minutes for the entire race - 200 cals per hour + gator and some food from aid stations

  • Hydration - 2 to 3 nuuns every 8 miles, carried hpl 020 for entire race and one hand bottle for 40 miles or so, could have got buy with just hpl 020 I think and nuun

  • Lights - Petzil tikka headlamp (sucked) and princeton tech led hand light (rocked

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Laurel Highlands Ultra Race Report

The Laurel Highlands Ultra is a 70.5 trail race that takes place on the Laurel Highlands Trail. The trail's southern terminus is located in Ohiopyle, PA, with the north end completing just outside of Johnstown, PA. The trail is single track for all but 1 mile that follows an old dirt road. It runs across the top of the Laurel Ridge in the Appalachian Mountains. Its highest point is located at Seven Springs Ski Resort.

This race had been my focus since reading the book Ultra Marathon Man. I had just run a poor race at the Rock and Roll Half Marathon and was pretty down on running. I had no desire to run any distance over the half. I was in Barnes and Noble one day and picked up The Book. It changed my life and after reading it I decided to run the Laurel Highlands Ultra. I trained hard and ran 2 50Ks in preparation. I, like many others had my life changed by ultra running and Ultra Marathon Man was the catalyst that started the fire burning.

The Friday before the race Kathy and I headed to her Moms house to meet up with my brother in law who would also complete the race. We arrived and I prepared for the day ahead. Luckily my Dad and Kathy were going to crew me and I gave them last minute instructions and directions to the areas they could meet up with me to lend moral , equipment, and nutritional support.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Laurel Highlands Ultra 2008 Race Report Preview

The Laurel Highlands Ultra is a grueling 70.5 mile ultra-marathon. The race takes place in SouthWest Pennsylvania along the Laurel Highlands trail. The course consists of rocky, rooty, hilly, muddy single track for 95%, with one small 1 mile section on a dirt road with pot holes large enough to swallow up a Jeep. For some reason I ran this race last weekend. I finished in 21:43. I have a new respect for this trail that I grew up backpacking on. I am going to post a full up race report soon. I promise......

Monday, June 16, 2008

Brooks Adrenaline ASR4 - UPDATE

The Brooks Adrenaline ASR4 are a great trail running shoe. They are a natural for me since I wear the Brooks Adrenaline GTS  line of road shoes. I feel the ASR4 are build using the same technology / design as the road version.

The main difference between the two shoes are:

  • The ASR4 have a larger toe box - this is a much needed feature for running down steep hills

  • The ASR4 have a more durable "water resistant" upper - they do not keep any water out, this is a bad feature as they do not dry out as fast as the road version and your feet remain wet longer while running, but they are more durable

  • The ASR4 have a much more aggressive tread pattern

  • The ASR4 have a beefier toe guard

  • The ASR4 are somewhat stiffer than the road version, but not too stiff as you can used them on the road with no regrets

The main similarities between the two shoes are:

  • Brooks MOGO cushioning

  • Similar pronation control characteristics

  • Stability shoe

Friday, May 23, 2008

Promise Land 2008 Fact Sheet

  • Distance: 32 - 34ish Miles or 31 Horton Miles

  • Time: 8:39:15

  • Temp: 65 at start, 80 at finish

  • Humidity: Normal

  • Weight: 184 lbs

  • BF%: ?

  • BMI: ?

Friday, May 2, 2008

2008 Promise Land 50K Race Report

How I arrived at Promise Land

How did I arrive at the start of the 2008 Promise Land 50K? I was pondering this question as a drove home after finishing the race. The short answer is that I drove to the Promise Land Youth Camp on Friday afternoon, but that is not how I arrived. It all started back in September of last year when I read Dean Karnazes book “Ultra Marathon Man”. I know it sounds like a corny movie script, but that book ignited something off deep inside of me. Up to this point I was a 2 hour 1/2 marathon runner. I had always loved backpacking and hiking in the mountains so this Ultra Marathon thing seemed like it would be a good fit for me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Olympus Sylus 850 Sub-Compact Digital Camera

I am thinking of purchasing the Olympus Stylus 850 camera. It is small enough to fit in a pocket and is waterproof to 15 feet. I think this could be the ideal camera for the avid outdoorsman / woman. It does not get the best review for picture quality and only has a 3X optical zoom, but at 8 MP I think the digital zoom could be used some as an option. Any opinions on this camera?

Promise Land 50K is THIS WEEKEND

I know it has been almost a month since I last wrote, but I have been really busy running, schooling, and being a family guy.

The PL is only a few days away and I am getting excited. I have felt better before a race. Yesterday I ran 10 miles, with 90% in grass or very easy trails. I really need to work on running endurance as most of my no walking-break runs have been 7 miles or less. I struggles sustaining my pace at mile 8. I think I should follow a marathon type program this summer for a few months before I start ramping up long runs prior to the Masochist. Hopefully this will help me get faster and stronger, while building up a long RUN to 16 - 20 miles. I know I could run without waling that far now, but I want to really increase my pace through this distance. I am thinking about following the Hansen program that Steve Runner talks so much about. Anyone have any opinions on this program?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

24 Miles At First Landing

I ran at First Landing on Saturday. It was a beautiful day and I had a great run. The run was highlighted by a spirited sprint the last 2 miles as I was using another runner who had passed me as a pacer. This day was completely different than last week. The weather was perfect and I saw a lot of squirrels and birds in the forest. I was listening to a Steve Runner on the Phedippidations podcast talk about "who do you run for". I have been thinking a lot about that lately. Who do you run for?

Week Summary:This week was pretty disappointing. I missed 2 easy days of running and was 10 miles below my goal mileage. I did get my hill, fartlek, and long run in. I did not lift any weights, which was a priority.

Weekly Total: 38 Miles 3 Week Running Average Mileage: 32 Miles

Plans: We are going to Pennsylvania for Easter. I am planning on running the first 20 to 30 miles of the Laurel Highlands trail one day and the last 10 in the dark another day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Promise Land 50K Preview

My next planned race is David Horton's Promise Land 50K. This is the second race in the Lynchburg Ultra Series. It takes place on April 26 in outside of Bedford Virginia. The Holiday Lake 50K++ was so well organized that I am now a huge of Dr. Horton's race directing abilities along with his ultra running accomplishments.

The Promise Land 50K is a much different style of race than the Holiday Lake 50K++. Holiday Lake is very runnable with not a lot of elevation change, where Promise Land is run in the mountains with a lot of elevation change, as you can see below.

Promise Land 50K Elevation Profile
 I have started to run at Mount Trashmore City Park once a week in preparation. There are no hills in Virginia Beach so my options are limited. I have been running hard up one side and even harder down the other. Most runners drop out of ultras from suffering from Dead Quads. This condition is caused by downhill running. The downhill part of the race is the best opportunity to "make up time" from all the uphill climbing. My training also consists of a weekly 6 to 8 mile Fartlek run, daily easy runs, and a 20+ mile long runs on the weekends. I like to do the long runs at First Landing State Park. I feel this race is going to be perfect preparation for the Laurel Highlands Ultra, which takes place on similar terrain, has less elevation gain, but is twice as long.

Is anyone up for a Saturday long run in beautiful Bedford Virginia the end of April?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Blue Ridge Mountain Sports Rocks

Blue Ridge Mountain Sports is great. I bought a pair of Montrail Hardrock shoes there last week. I ran in the shoes over the weekend, the signal knob run. They did not work out and my feet were hurting 5 miles in. Then I place a second set of insoles in them with the arches cut out and ran 3 miles in them again. My feet fell asleep. These shoes are not for me.

I called up BRMS and asked if I could return them. I felt kind of bad returning used shoes, but he said clean them up and bring them in for us to look at. The next day I returned them for a full refund. What makes this even more remarkable is the fact that I bought them on clearance at 50% off. This store rocks. I will be a lifelong supporter of them. I just bought a pair of La Sportiva Fireblades on sale form there website. Support Blue Ridge Mountains Sports!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park is a real gem located in the North Eastern most part of Virginia Beach. I highly recommend checking it out and going for a run or hike. There are a few trails, the main one allows bikes. It is very busy here on the weekends but do not let that discourage you. I always see many Birders with their binoculars and cameras. There are also an abundance of dogs and there owners roaming the trails. For trail runners there are not a lot of options in this area. This is by far the best trail system I have found close. It is pretty flat, but you can find some hills on the Long Creek Trail. By running the Long Creek Trail and the Cape Henry Trail you can make a 10.5 mile loop. Another advantage to running here are the water fountains and bathrooms located at either end of the Cape Henry Trail.

I often run my long runs at First Landing State Park. On Saturday I ran there in the afternoon once the local Tornado watch was lifted. It was extremely windy and there was a ton of branches and debris being blown from the trees. Limbs were literally falling all around me. I took these pictures with my phone while running. It ended up being a wonderful 21 mile run. I forgot my Ipod at home and that too was a real blessing as I was able to spend my time with God in his creation with no outside distractions. I love how these things turn out sometimes.

Last Weeks Mileage: 42

Next Weeks Projected: 45 - 50

3 week average: 20

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Signal Knob Trail Run/Report

Signal Knob lies on the north-west tip of the Massanutten Mountain range. It is located in the George Washington National Forest, just west of Shenandoah National Park. During the Civil War Confederate Soldiers held an outpost on top and had a birds eye view of the valleys below. Signal Knob is the large mountain to the east of Strasburg, VA. It is a dominating feature as you drive south on Interstate 81 towards the Strasburg exit. There currently is a large broadcast antenna on the top of the mountain. This antenna is located a few 100 feet east of the official "Signal Knob" overlook. The trail-head is located on Fort Valley Road and can be accessed via Route 55 from Front Royal or Strasburg Virginia (Lat/Long 38.934577, -78.320203).

When hiking the Signal Knob loop you will actually hike on the Signal Knob Trail, the Tuscarora Trail, and the Massanutten Mountain Trail. The Hiking Upward site does a great job describing the trails and has a map.This area is known for its rocks and this trail is no exception. There are sections where I had a hard time walking and there are very few runnable sections. The initial ascent up the Signal Knob trail is 1500 feet in 3.5 miles. I was able to run some up the ascent if the trail was not to rocky. The next mile is a little descent and flat. This is the most runnable trail section. I ran along this ridge and hit the Signal Knob overlook. After taking some pictures I continued on. The next 1.5 miles are a steep descent on a fire road. This was by far my fastest section due to the even terrain and downhill running.After a left on the the Tuscarora Trail I climbed up over the a ridge again. This is the steepest climb on the trail, 600 feet in 3/4 of a mile. It is all down hill from the top of this ridge. At this point I started to have issues with my new Montail Hardrock trail runners. It was a long trip down with the foot rubbing, but I made it to the car. Bailey was very tired at this point. I got the the car and changed shoes and ran 2 more miles before calling it a day. I covered only 12 miles in all, but the elevation and rocky conditions made it feel like 20.It felt great to get back on the trail again after almost 2 weeks off with my foot injury. My foot is feeling 100% again and has not bothered me at all. In hindsight I am glad I took the time off and now feel fresh and ready to train hard for my next race.Stats: 12 miles 3:10 / 10 mile loop in 2:36 / Time to tower 1:13
Links: Signal Knob Elevation Profile, Signal Knob HR and Pace

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ultra Training Guide

I have started an Ultra Training Guide. You can get to it by hitting the link at the top right of this page or clicking here. This guide will serve as a resource to anyone who is or wants to train for an ultra marathon. It is a work in progress so hang it there. I will be adding to it as I have time.

I want to point out one important resource that I used. The blog titled "I Run Far" by Bryon Powell. Bryon is a very experienced ultrarunner who has countless valuable posts. Two of these posts rise above the rest when it comes to Ultra Training: How to select your first ultra and Training for your first ultra. I highly recommend reading these posts as I used them as a guide for my training program for Holiday Lake. You can see how I trained for Holiday Lake at, the online training blog that I use. If you have any questions you can ask me, or check out Bryon's blog and post comments to him. He was very responsive to me and willing to help.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Added Photos Page

I just added the Fotobook plugin. This allows for wordpress to integrate with my Facebook photo albums. Click on the red box titled "Photos" at the top of this page to view the photo page.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spirit of the Marathon

I just got home from watching Spirit of the Marathon. It is a documentary that follows elite athletes Daniel Njenga and Deena Kastor along with a handful of middle to back of the packers. It is centered around the 2005 Chicago Marathon. It starts 4 months out and chronicles the athletes as they prepare for the race. There are many interview scenes with Marathon greats which keep the flow of the movie going.

I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys running. It really portrays the triumph of the human spirit. It is worth the rental fee when it comes out on DVD.

A Pain in the Foot

It is strange how pain suddenly creeps up on you. I ran the race on Saturday. My body was sore, especially my legs, but it was all dull microscopic muscle tear pain. All joints and tendons felt 100% by Monday morning. That is the day the foot pain began.

I was at Walmart with Sydney getting some supplies and suddenly I had this sharp shooting pain in my right foot. It starts right in front of the heel and ends before the ball, all on the outside. Are there any Podiatrists reading this who can help diagnose it? I had been wearing crocks all Sunday evening and Monday. I feel that the lack of support and stress from the race led to this injury. I have been wearing shoes since then.

It is now Thursday and it is feeling ok, but not 100%. I am planning on running on it tomorrow morning to test it out. Hopefully all will go well. There are only 9 weeks until Promise Land 50K. I really need to run some hills to get ready for the elevation I will face.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ultra Challenge

I challenge any and all of you to get out and run an Ultra. If you enjoy God's creation they why not spend a Saturday running in it? You will meet many new and interesting people and experience a truly meaningful event. An event where the race director will take time to talk to you and answer your questions, the volunteers will all smile and gladly fill you bottle up, and where the other participants, even the front of the pack, will cheer you on. I am not an elite athlete by any stretch of the imagination. If I can do this then so can you!

So lets go and leave the pavement behind. No more sucking exhaust fumes and dodging cars. This is something that is worth a try.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Farmville Super Meth, No I Mean Super 8

The Super 8 Hotel in Farmville, VA is horrible. DO NOT STAY HERE. Kathy, Sydney, and I arrived Friday night before the race and checked in. The first thing that should have raised a red flag was the "Meth Watch Participant" sticker on the front door. I guess they have a meth problem in Farmville. The room was dirty and there were stains on the chair. The bed was very uncomfortable and the pillows were flat. We tried to go to bed early but were kept awake all night by the guy or girl upstairs watching a loud tv and jumping around, and the people running up and down the stairs. I finally fell asleep around 2AM, only to wake up for the race at 4:30. This was one of the many times in my life I wish I had a gun with me. Kathy commented that she did not feel very safe here.

Kathy dropped me off at the race and had to go back to this hole in the wall. When checkout time came she had to make multiple trips to the car with Sydney in tow. A rude man asked her if she was done in there. The clerk tried to kiss Sydney. I would have went off at this. The meth residue may have gotten on her! That is the last time I stay at a super 8. I would rather stay in my car.

If you see either of these as you go to check in to your hotel get in your car and drive away as fast as possible.

Farmville Super Meth Hotel: If you see this hotel RUN MethWatch Logo

Holiday Lake 50K++ 2008 Race Report

Friday evening I loaded up my wife and 5 month old daughter and we headed to Farmville to spend the night at a Super 8 motel. We arrived with no problem. I tried to sleep but the race was dancing through my head and the person in the room above us was watching a loud tv and jumping around. Finally around 2AM I fell asleep only to be woke up by my alarm at 4:30. I woke Kathy and Sydney up and got dressed. It was 10 degrees warmer than I first thought it would be, a great sign. We drove the 40 minutes to Holiday Lake and Kathy dropped me off in the parking lot. I was very anxious and nervous. This was my first Ultra, I have never even run a marathon before, but I had trained hard and was 100% injury free. I walked to the dining hall to find a busy scene of strong looking athletes. I remember feeling a little out of place at that moment and not sure about what I was getting myself into. I checked in and got my race number. Then I prepared for the run. I started talking to a man named John and he eased my nerves. We all went down to the start line and Dr. Horton called out names of those people who had not signed in yet. One lady yelled from the parking lot "I am coming". Then without any fanfare we were off.

We ran up the road and hit a large bottle neck were the course turned into single track. It was slow going until we crossed the dam. Then things opened up a bit. I was feeling good at this point. I was carrying two water bottles, which was one to many. This gave me the luxury of skipping the first aid station all together. I ran hard down the hill after this aid station and into the woods. I was taking an occasional walk break, mainly on the uphills. This was all part of my race plan. As we hit the pavement I was running hard again downhill. I was thinking about how much fun it was going to be coming back up all these hills in lap 2.

I arrived at the second aid station and filled up a bottle. I quickly ate some food and continued on to the first water crossing. I crossed on some rocks, next time I will just run right through. We ran down a long hill and then back up the other side. Aid station 3 was more of the same, fluid and food. I was still feeling great. I was at 12.3 miles when I passed Bradley Mongold, the eventual winner. Of course he was going the other way! I was announced as I entered aid station 4.

I was feeling good about making the first loop in 3 hours and hopefully on pace for a 6:30 finish, but the extra distance I heard rumors about had other ideas. The last few miles of the first loop was difficult as I was passing other runners on steep and narrow single track trails. I finally hit the start finish and had plenty of time to spare. I dropped a water bottle and continued into the second loop.

The second loop was like a late round heavy weight fight. I was on the ropes for a while, but as they say things do not always get worse. The trip back to aid station 4 was long and brutal, but I fought hard and made it. On this section I saw a lady running in a long heavy dress. She looked like she belonged in another era. I thought I was seeing things for a while, but my wife and I saw her on the road as we were driving away from the race. Very strange experience.

After I saw the lady in the dress I tucked in behind an experienced runner named Pete and struck up a conversation. We ran together to the next aid station. Soon after this he passed me and I never saw him again.

The trip from aid station 3 to 2 was almost all uphill and I walked a lot of it. Pete had told me not to walk to much because it gets addicting and before you know it you will be walking for 10 minutes. This section is where it began to feel better running than walking. Aid station 2 to aid station 1 was another struggle, but overall I was feeling better. I stopped at one point to clear the debris from my shoe and then continued on. I heard the cow bell ringing as I approached aid station 1. Only 3.5 miles to go!

Everything was feeling good now. I had weathered the storm and made it to the last round. I realized that I could make it in under 7 hours if I picked up my pace a little. I started to run as hard as I could. I was not going to walk, I wanted 7 hours bad. I dug deep inside myself. I wish I could of found this inner strength 10 miles ago, but at least I had it now. As I neared the dam a lady passed me. She looked fresh and was moving very fast. I crossed the dam and soon could hear the finish line across the lake. I was running hard now. I passed another runner named Sam who had been leap frogging me most of the second loop. He said "looks like you get the last pass". I told him to follow me and we can make it in under 7 hours. He started running hard behind me down the trail.

I pushed hard up the last hill and onto the road. I knew I was going to make 7 hours. As I sprinted down the hill I saw my wife and daughter, video camera in hand cheering me on. What a great way to end the race. I finished in under 7 hours and Sam finished right on my heels. We had done it. It was a great feeling to shake Dr. Horton's hand as I finished and congratulate Sam. It felt great to hug my wife and hold my daughter.

Thank you Dr. Horton for putting on a great event. Thank you to all the volunteers for giving up a beautiful day to make this possible. Thank you to Kathy for always being my number one fan. Lastly and most importantly thank you Jesus for giving me the ability to complete such a task. I now have the Ultra bug. I could not have asked for a better race or better weather (50 and sunny) to run my first Ultra.

At the finish My Gear

Full Photo Albumn

Professional Picture


Monday, February 18, 2008

Quick Thoughts

I will be publishing a full race report soon and a report on our "Meth Watch" hotel experience Friday night! I just wanted to get these quick thoughts down for now.

  • It was a perfect day. 40 - 55 degrees and sunny with litte wind

  • The race ended up being 34 miles (measured with my Garmin Forrunner 305)

  • I finished in 6:58 and change

  • I had my best run the last 3 miles after a grinding second lap

  • Chips Ahoy Cookies taste great while running

  • Never stay in a Super 8 hotel

  • I do not like Clif Shot sports drink

  • I am now officially addicted to these races, most fun I have ever had running by far

  • Only once thought "The fun level has reached an all time low!" This quote was made famous by my friend Steve during a backpacking trip

  • Middle age women can kick my butt

I could go on forever with my list here, but I will save the details for the next few posts. Hopefully I will have some time tonight to complete my race report, hotel report, and a "what I ate" entry.

Friday, February 15, 2008

T - 1

It is not Friday and tonight we are off to a hotel near the race. I have to check in at 6AM. I got a lot of sleep last night and feel great today. There is a flu going around work, but so far I have managed to avoid it. I have enjoyed eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese last night and today. I am going to eat pretty heavy today early and then light tonight. This is something new I am going to try. I feel pretty sluggish on most race days I have experienced so far, maybe this will help. The weather is looking so so. The high for the day is 40 with a start temp of 32. Ideally it would be 45 to 55. I will have to make a decision on what to wear and weather or not I should carry both bottles.

Wish me luck. More after the race....

Trail Running Tips

Here is a new feature to Justus On The Run. I am now going to include videos on this site. The first is a news cast on Trail Running Advice. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I ran this morning for the first time since Monday morning. It was cold and snowy here, well sort of snowy. I decided to run through 2 large areas of standing water that formed in the grass where I run. They were about 6 inches deep and Baily loved them. I though he was going to roll around in them. That dog loves cold water. This exercise was to simulate the stream crossings I will face on Saturday. It was COLD, but only for a few minutes and then my feet started to warm up. I really do believe that within an hour of a soaking like that my feet may be dry. I will have to test that theory out. The SmartWool socks are great.

The run felt good, even though it was only 4 miles. I was pretty effortless. Now I just need to sit back and relax and eat a lot of carbs. I cannot wait for Saturday to come.

Here is a pick of Baily hanging out at the beach. Proof that he loves to be wet and dirty.

Baily at the beach

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

T - 3 Until Race Day

It is almost here! I am run down this week and tired. I ran 3 miles Monday morning and felt good, but have not run since. Tonight I am going to put in 5 or 6 and maybe I will run 2 on Friday morning. I do not perform well with more than one day off at a time. Somehow I have been seeded at number 55 / 260 (see for yourself). I believe these seeds are based on predicted finishing order. I guess I have some high expectations to meet. Last night I had a scratchy throat and did not sleep well. I feeling pretty good today but it is a wait and see pattern for now. I am going to take it really easy on tonights run. More soon, I promise.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Let The Taper Begin

From the week after my last race (Rock and Roll Half Marathon, Sept. 2, 2007) until today I have ran 635 miles. I really did not get dialled in and hit my stride until the middle of December. In January I had weeks of 32, 50, 52, 52, and 33. Last week I did not hit the planned 45 miles, but it was not a bad thing. I look at it as a week of extra taper time. My body did not respond well to running so I took 3 days off from running.

This weekends long run showed the dividends. I just ran 18 miles on easy trails, but the speed and ease of the run shocked me. I was able to cover the distance in just over 3 hours. I ran the last 2.1 miles at a pace under 9 minutes per mile. Maybe not fast for most, but fast for me, especially after 16 miles.

Now I will officially begin my taper for Holiday Lakes. I am only going to run 30 miles this week, with a 12 mile long run on Saturday. I will rest on Friday and Sunday. Next week I will run 3 on Monday, 6 on Tuesday, and 3 on Thursday. It is going to be hard to not run, but the excitement of running and the extra sleep should leave me more than rested and ready for the race. I feel that my fitness level is growing and my weight is slowly dropping.

This morning I ran a 3 mile loop around my subdivision. I started off at a 9 minute per mile pace and was laboured for the first mile.  Once I was warm I fell into an 8:30 pace with no problem and I feel like I could have held this pace for quite a while. I want to run a half marathon this spring to gage how better off I am now that I was last spring. We will see how that fits into my training, schedule, and wallet.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

25 Mile Run

Last weekend I completed my key training run for the upcoming Holiday Lake 50K+. I ran a 25.5 mile run at first landing state park. I ran 2 loops around the parks main 2 trails. The last 5 miles was brutal. I ran a lot faster than last weekends 23 miler. I did not restrict myself based on heart rate this time. The day was perfect, 40 degrees with some sun and no wind. This run build the confidence that I need for the race. I also am figuring out how to push past the pain. I know that I had a lot left in the tank and could push much harder when properly motivated.

I wore my Camelback Alterra hip pack to try it out on a long trail run. I also had an Ultimate Direction Hand Bottle. I am going to sell the Alterra on ebay. It did not work out well and left red and irritated skin where it rode on the tags in my briefs and shorts. I had to pull it pretty tight to prevent the bounce and keep it up above my butt. I guess if I had a bigger butt it would work ok. I ordered a second hand bottle yesterday. I plan on using two bottles and an Amphipod belt with a medium size pouch to carry food, keys, id, etc. I used to use this belt with two small marathon type water bottles. I could strap then back onto it if I need an extra fluid reserve.

I am starting to understand the mentality needed to push back the pain and just take it mile by mile. I am really trying to get my mind around running 70 miles. I feel this is important to really grasp it now. I listened to an interview with Scott Jurek and he talked about this strategy and how he must do this to do well.

Summary for last week:

52.5 miles with a 25.5 mile long run

Plan for this week:

40 - 50 miles with a 20 mile trail long run. I am starting to get a little tired and have not been getting enough sleep. I am really looking forward to two easier weeks as I taper down.

I have started experimenting with embedding flash into this blog. The first result is below, my hr and elevation profiles for this run.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Holiday Lake Course Map

Race director Dr. David Horton emailed out a map of the race course. I have attached it below for your viewing pleasure. It is not the best quality, but does show aid station locations. Today I ran 3 cold miles, it was around 28 degrees outside and my run felt good. My heart rate was low while my pace was faster than normal. I feel things are coming together. More after my long run tomorrow.

Holiday Lake Map

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Holiday Lake 50K Preparation

It is now only 23 days until the race. I am getting excited about it and my miles are going up. Luckily I have remained uninjured and feeling pretty good through this mileage increase. This week my mileage will spike at around 56 miles and then a slight taper will begin. I hate the idea of the taper, but deem it necessary to success, especially with my less than gradual mileage increase. I cannot wait to get out there and test out my body. I have been doing mainly base training lately and keeping a sharp eye on the heart rate monitor. It will be very satisfying to just go out and run with heart, run as fast as my legs will take me! Trust me this is not very fast. I am a work in progress.

I now present my training plan leading up the the race:

This week -> Today 2 recovery Miles; Friday 4 easy miles; Saturday 26+ trail miles for a total of 56 on the week- all of this at base training pace

Week of Jan. 28 -> total of 50 miles with a 20 mile trail long run

Week of Feb. 4 -> total of 40 miles with a 12 mile long run (hopefully this short of a long run is not a mistake)

Race Week Feb. 11 -> Runs of 2 to 3 miles every day leading up to the race. I do not do well with days off, so I will run every day up to the race, once again hopefully not a mistake.

That is the plan for now. I must then focus on the build-up for the Laurel Highlands Ultra in June. I think I will put down some more base and then start to work on other things. I do not anticipate my mileage going much above 50 - 60 per week.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tired Of Constantly Re-Adjusting Your HeadPhones? - Philips Surround Sound Headphone Review

Finding a set of headphones that remain in place comfortably while running has been a challenge. I have tried many models, including standard Ipod ear buds, over the head headbands, behind the neck bands, Sony ear buds, and Phillips ear buds. The Phillips ear buds (model # SHE5920/27 have provided superior usability while running. The sound is not nearly as crisp and clear as the Ipod earbuds, but this is not my main criteria. The earbuds stay in place while running. I have used this for over a year with no problems. They achieve their high usability level through rubber ear tubes. These tubes hug the inside of the ear while gently expanding for a smooth and steady fit. My first pair quit working after about a year of everyday use. You cannot expect much more out of a $15 pair of headphones. The new model now comes with an extra set of rubber ear tubes and a neat cloth carrying case. This case is much better than the standard plastic roll-up case that most earbuds include. I can fit my earbuds and a 2nd generation ipod nano in the case.

I highly recommend the Phillips Surround Sound Headphones for runners. I bought mine at Walmart for under $15.00.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Longest Trail Run Report

This past Saturday I ran my long run at a First Landing State Park. I normally do not run here as it is pretty far from my house, but with a lack of trails in my area I have little to choose from. I managed 23.5 miles on the trails. The temperature at the start of my run was in the low 40's and it remained there for the entire route. It also started to rain just as I pulled into the parking lot. It rained on my the entire time I was running, but I did not mind at all. This park offers trails that are sandy and muddy with small rolling hills, nothing major to speak of. Some of the trails run along Broad Bay. I saw some very nice houses on the other side of the water. Including on with a large boat pulled out of the water and a large helicopter. I guess that is how to avoid the tunnel traffic. The run was fun, but as the day wore on and I continued to grind it out my left ankle started to bother me a little. I gutted it out and now, 2 days and lots of ice later it feels fine. This run was a huge confidence booster for my upcoming 50K ultra. I did not push the pace. I set my Garmin Forunner 305 to just show time distance and heart rate. I was trying to keep my heart rate below 144 beats per minute regardless of pace. I was fairly successful at this and enjoyed not looking at pace the entire time.

Plan: Tuesday - 10, Wednesday - 10, Thursday - 2, Friday - 3 - 5, Saturday 26+


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pre Holiday Lake 50K #1

I filled out my entry blank for my first Ultra attempt, the 2008 Holiday Lake 50K. I just need to finalize some plans before it goes in the mail. I am very psyched up about this race and can hardly wait for it to happen. I have boosted my weekly mileage up to 50 and have been feeling good. I slowed down my pace and am trying to keep my heart rate at 75% or lower. This is very hard, but I must keep up the base mileage routine. I am just going to train base prior to this race. Maybe this will be a huge mistake. Time will tell.

My current plan breaks down like this:

  1. Train base mileage and some hills prior to the race

  2. Maintain 50+ miles per week

  3. Stretch my long run out to 25 miles, only running it on local trails to reduce impact on my ankles

  4. Continue to strength train 3 times per week

  5. Run 6 days a week, maybe 7 if I feel up to it

  6. Continue to eat properly to help drop a few pounds prior to the race

Thats it. If I can stick to this I will be in pretty good shape. After this race is over I will focus on some more specific training for my next Ultra in June.

Commuting to Work

I first saw the idea of running to work in the blog This is a great idea for those who can access public transportation or for those who live close to work. I live 10 miles from my office and have nice paved bike paths for 75% of the route. The rest of the route I can run on grass. I am really trying to avoid concrete. Because of the distance I have chosen to run home from work one night and run back the next morning, leaving my car in the parking lot overnight. It has worked out well for me so far and the two longer runs mid week have really made me stronger. I shower before I go to my office and have been "running" through McDonalds for breakfast. That is a nice reward. This run commuting also saves time. Usually it takes me about 25 minutes to drive to work and deal with all the traffic. The run takes under 2 hours and leaves me feeling great inside, unlike when I have to deal with the crazy drivers in this area. So I get in a 10 mile run in the time it would normally take me to run 6 or 7. This is great in my book. I recommend trying this out if you get a chance and it is feasible.