A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Announcements – Coach “Iron” Pete
February 1, 2016

First snowstorm of the season packed a wicked punch. But we're tough athletes. We should get through this just fine with the minimum of hassles!

Hey, the snow is melting away and we're going to have a very mild week. So get your butt out there and enjoy the warmer days!

Swimming as Compared to Cycling and Running

Why do people have so many problems trying to swim more than trying to cycle or run? That's is always a question I'm asked repeatedly. The simple reason is that although cycling and running can can be improved mostly through strength and repetition, swimming depends on technique for major improvement.

Now I'm not saying that technique doesn't improve on cycling and running. They certainly do. There are some good books on how to improve your technique in running, including the POSE method and Chi Running, and it will most definitely improve your running efficiency. There are some good books on cycling too, including how to pedal in smooth circles and your positioning on the bike which will make the cycling faster.

But people can have bad technique with cycling and running and still move decently with those two disciplines. Swimming is different. With swimming, technique is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL to getting to the end of your swim in a triathlon. Without technique, you can move your arms as fast as possible in the water; if you don't have the technique, you're going nowhere! This is why there are so many videos on stroke placement and so many drills to perfect that stroke. Unlike cycling and running, an efficient swim program has more than 50% of its workouts in stroke drills, not speed and pace!

One last thing about swimming; you'll need to muster up a lot of patience with your freestyle. It doesn't take overnight to get the feel of the stroke and the feel of the water. In fact, it takes more than 18 months of good, consistent swim drills just to come around with your technique. With this culture of instant gratification, this can be frustrating for a lot of triathletes. But patience and consistency is key here. You'll start to come around with good perseverance!

Raritan Valley Road Runners Free Breakfast Weekend

The Raritan Valley Road Runners have a nice little promotional this February. If you're a current member and show up at all of the four Saturday morning runs in February (9AM at Johnson Park), you'll get $10 off your breakfast at the last Saturday in February, February 27!

NYC Marathon Registration

Registration for the NYC Marathon Guaranteed Entry and Lottery system is still open until February 21. Link is here: http://www.tcsnycmarathon.org/

The Climb to the Top – February 28

This race is a 5k stair climb up to the top of Rockerfeller Center. If you want in on this race, registration is open. You can register as an individual or team. Individual price is $66. The link is here: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Special/NYNGeneralEvents?pg=entry&fr_id=26546

Spring Lake 5 Miler – May 28

This race attracts thousands of runners to the Jersey Shore. Registration opens at February 7 at 5AM exactly, and it closes maybe an hour or two later! The link to entering this race is here: http://www.springlake5.org/


Upcoming races (next 2 weeks)


Feb 6 - Steel Fitness Indoor Triathlon and Biathlon – Tri: 10 minute swim, 30 minute bike, 20 minute run. Allentown, PA


Feb 6 — NJTS Winter (Half, 10K, 5K), Lewis Morris Park, Morristown, NJ
Feb 6 — Hike-A-Thong (15M, 10M, 5M), Mahlon Dickerson County Park, Jefferson, NJ

Feb 6 — Belleville Pond 10K, North Kingstown, RI

Feb 7 – Super Bowl Pre-Game 4 Miler – Morristown, NJ – Link here: http://www.superheroracing.com/4miler.html
Feb 7 — Squirrelly Tail Twail Wun (13.1 M), Gifford Pinchot State Park, Lewisberry, PA

Feb 13 – Crossing 5K for Love – Washington Crossing Park, NJ https://raceroster.com/events/2016/6746/crossing-5k-for-love-a-cure
Feb 13 – Cupid's Chase – Morristown, NJ http://www.comop.org/cupidschase/
Feb 14 – Cherry Tree 10 Miler and Relay – Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY http://pptc.org/ct2016/


Feb 6 — ICY-8 (8h adventure trail run), Lake Anna State Park, Spotsylvania, VA
February 6 - Rocky Raccoon 100 – Texas – Link here: http://www.tejastrails.com/Rocky.html

Feb 7 — Virginia Beach Distance Races (100K, 50K, 100K relay), Virginia Beach, VA


Monday, January 11, 2016

Weekly Announcements - January 11, 2016

Weekly Announcements – Coach “Iron” Pete

Welcome to 2016! I'm going to try to make these brief announcements a weekly thing.

Long Term Race Planning

Now's the time you should be making those long term plans for 2016. The best way to do this is to always list your races you're doing as “A” races (your BIG races, or your races you're trying to excel in), your “B” races (not as important, but you might want to try to get a good result anyway), and your “C” races (basically “train through” races that are a part of your training with no taper involved). Once on your calendar, you should place in your important training runs that will help you achieve your goals in your “A” races. For example, putting in a couple of 20 mile runs four to six weeks before your big marathon.

Once you're done setting in your key workouts on your schedule, remember to check it every week when planning your daily workout routines to make sure you're on track. Never take your eyes off that schedule! That's the long term goal you should always try to stick to.

First Swimrun race in the USA announced!

If you like ultrarunning and ultraswimming, there is a type of race that has gotten very popular in Europe called the Swimrun. Inspired by the original event, ÖTILLÖ (pronounced ah-till-ah), we finally get to see one here, in Maine! Here is the video of the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36o9M4i4hVA

The link to the USA event in Maine is here. Get yourself a teammate and go! : http://www.slowtwitch.com/News/First_SwimRun_in_USA_announced_5570.html


Upcoming races (next 2 weeks)

Triathlons – No triathlons listed so far.


January 16 - Resolution 5K Run - Bloomingdale Park, Staten Island – Link: http://www.challenge-race.com/calendar.html

January 23 - NJ Trail Winter Series 5K/10K/13.1mi – Morristown, NJ - Link: http://www.njtrailseries.com/winter

January 11 - Leatherman's Loop Trail 10K lottery – ends midnight tonight (Jan 11)! Race itself is on April 24. It's a tough 10K in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in the Hudson Valley. Link is here: http://leathermansloop.org/


January 17 at 7PM SHARP! - Vermont 100 mile and 100K Signup. You'll need a previous 100 mile finish, a 100K race finished under 14 hours or a 50 mile race in less than 12 hours to enter the 100 mile race. The race itself will be run on July 16-17. Race fills quickly so be ready to sign up at 7PM. Link is here: http://vermont100endurancerun.blogspot.com/


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

200 Miles. WTF?!

What the heck am I thinking?

So far I've run 8 races of 100 miles or more. 7 of them are official 100 milers, and one of the races was a 72 hour one in which I ran 161 miles.

I can remember three of those 100 mile races where I was either coming in limping or walking pretty badly towards the finish line.

The 72 hour race? That was at Three Days at the Fair, where I had problem after problem keeping going after 100 miles. My feet swelled up so much that I had to run in regular sports sandals for the last 30 miles of the race. And it took me well over 6 weeks to recover from that race.

Now comes a slew of 200 mile races. And most of these are in the mountains. Oh boy...

For years it was just the Tor des Geants in the Italian Alps for a number of years This was the premier survival race of this distance.

Now we have three mountain 200s in the United States, the Bigfoot 200, the Tahoe 200 and the Colorado 200.

Here is Trail Whippass and Ultimate Badass Ultrarunner Conrado Bermudez at the finish line of the Bigfoot 200, along with RD and "Sadist" Candice Burt, who also puts on the Tahoe 200 race. Not sure how he is smiling after this crazy race...

And there are probably more to come!

I can just picture myself limping badly at 100 miles...heck, I've done that several times already. But the kicker is that I'M ONLY HALFWAY THERE!

The reason why I'm talking about these 200 milers is that I've already had nightmares about them. And why am I thinking about these races?

Because I'm probably thinking about doing one.

As a matter of fact, if I don't get into Western States this year, I've already made my choice of doing one next September. If I do actually get selected into this race, the nightmares will continue.

Just put me in a straitjacket right now or this might happen to me...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Would I do the Grand Slam of Running Again If Picked for Western States?

In a word...yes.

Now why would I want to suffer again through four more 100 mile races in 10 weeks, especially including what will most certainly be a nightmarish run at Leadville?

Good question. I really cannot answer that.

Maybe because it is so darned tough to do that I want to take up that challenge again? Maybe I would be one of the only few that actually finished more than one? Maybe it's because of this trophy that I earned when I finished it in 2013?

I only have about a 4% chance of getting into Western States anyway, so I'm making other plans for next year. But, a slim possibility is still a possibility, right? :-D

Friday, June 5, 2015

Towpath Run - Advice For Those going the Distance Tomorrow - Good Luck!


We have at least 35 people going the full 34.6 mile distance tomorrow at the RVRR Towpath Training Run. That is incredible how many people are attempting the ultra distance these days. There are a lot of people going ultra for the first time tomorrow. I wish you all the best of luck, but I leave you with some suggestions for tomorrow...

1) Your last full meal should be lunch, or a very early dinner, around 3PM at the latest. The main reason is that you want to make sure all that food that you eat passes through your system completely and is evacuated from your body in time for the event tomorrow. It's not a nice feeling to still have all that food in your gut when you run long tomorrow, so get that last meal done early tonight.

2) Your last full meal should NOT be full of carbs. Rather, it should be a healthy mix of protein, fat, and a little carbs. Suggestions would be grilled chicken with broccoli rabe (which I will be eating today), or for the vegetarian, an omelete (or frittata) with vegetables in it. Vegans can get by with a salad with tofu and nuts the day before the race.

3) The early last meal doesn't mean you should starve the rest of today and into tomorrow. Make sure you can snack a little so that you stay sated while keeping light with your diet. Fruit, dried fruit, and nuts (no peanuts) would be ideal for tonight. Also, drink a lot of water. The temps will be mild, but it is predicted to hit 80 degrees tomorrow, so there is a bit of warmth there.

4) Tomorrow morning, you should stay light with your diet. I know some people can get by with a bagel, but can be a bit heavy on some people right before a run. Dried fruit or nuts would be ideal. I usually keep those on hand as I dress up and drive over to the start of the run. Also keep water on hand, of course.

5) Make sure you have something with you so that you can carry water and food while running. The aid stations are pretty much stocked well, but you still want to make sure you have nutrition and water on demand when you need it the most. A Camelbak, Nathan, or other hydration pack is ideal. A fuel belt also will work here too. At least carry one bottle of water with you at all times on the run.

4) Eat more real food than energy gels and bars. You will be running this at a relaxed pace. A relaxed pace means that your stomach has the ability to digest foods, more than in a marathon or shorter distance run. And real food is much more superior than the energy food. Trust me on this! Real food meaning fruit, nuts, bananas, and beef jerky for the hardcore ultrarunners. Try to stay conservative on candies such as Twizzlers, Gummy Bears, and M&Ms; the sugars can cause an insulin crash, something you don't want happening to you during a long run.

5) Eat early and often. Even if you're not hungry on the opening miles of the run, have something literally at your fingertips to nibble on. If you wait until hunger strikes, it might already be too late to catch back up with your nutrition.

6) Lastly, have fun. Make sure you socialize with people in your group the entire time. We're social animals, and talking makes the miles go extremely quickly!

I wish you the best of luck tomorrow and I'll see you all at Johnson Park and the finish line!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Yes, I still swim!

A lot of my friends nowadays see me as an ultrarunner. But what most don't know is that I actually did come from a swimming background.

I chose the swim team when I entered high school. At Msgr. Farrell. High School.

It was a good team that I was on. We used to win a lot of matches against other high schools. The only team we couldn't really beat was Chaminade High School in Long Island.

When I entered varsity at the latter part of freshman year, my coach immediately put me into the distance events, the 200 meter and the 500 meter freestyle. Looked like he knew I took to distance better than speed. Little did he know what kind of distances I was going to be capable of!

I received Most Improved Swimmer in both my Junior and Senor years of high school and qualified for the Nationals in the 500 meter at Villanova College, in which I did well.

Unfortunately, the college that I went to didn't have a swim team, so I kept it up on my own while studying at college. In sophomore year is when I actually started running on a competitive basis, going into a couple of local 5Ks.

It's in my senior year of college that I discovered a local triathlon and decided to take it up. This was 1990, and I finished pretty well in my age group. I took to it so well that I took up the half Ironman race in 1992 (finished 2nd in my age group around 4:30), did the NYC Marathon in 1995, and finally my first Ironman in Canada in 1996.

It was really not until around 2002 before I actually did my first ultra. That's a long story in itself how I got to know of ultras, and one I'll write up soon here.

But I still do my swims and rides religiously, even though the bulk of my races are now ultras. The swimming and cycling were a critical part of why I successfully completed the Grand Slam of Ultras in 2013, and I continue swimming and cycling right up until today. It factors so well into my UTMB training.

One of the culminations of my ultra distance obsession and my triathlon background is the marriage between the two...basically an Ultra Triathlon. Yes, these are triathlons longer than the Ironman distance and usually go on for several days. Those races will be part of my goals for the near future...and you might see some news here about entering a particular event in 2016. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The UTMB Trip and European Flights (UTMB Planning Part 1)

Putting together the UTMB trip has gotten pretty time consuming. But it's pretty exciting in the process.

First, I have to figure how to get there the cheapest way. Then find the accommodations in the cities there. Then I have to figure the way to transport around the cities and get those reserved. And lastly, but definitely not least, I have to pick up the mandatory gear for the race (and some of that isn't cheap at all!).

First thing that we did was get the accommodation at Chamonix. One of the people in our UTMB took care of that the day we won the lottery since accommodations there would be taken immediately by the 2000+ people who also won the lottery.

One of our group landed a beautiful chalet like this right in the center of town! And only $225 for 6 nights. Wow.

So that was taken care of immediately. The next thing was how to get there. Everyone in the group will have their own travel itinerary in getting there and in getting home. A couple will be going through Iceland, and others will be staying in Milan for several days before getting to Chamonix.

I basically spent about 3 weeks "massaging" the various flights to Europe and watching some patterns emerge. The trick to traveling cheaply in Europe is to find the cheapest gateway cities at that time and fly into those, even if those gateway cities aren't close to your final destination. One you get your foot into Europe, the travel within the Eurozone is very, very cheap.

It also pays to have some flexibility as well. Whatever gateway city was the cheapest, I  was going to spend several days there exploring it. Heck, why not! Chances are that I've never seen the city before, right? :-)

Looking at the direct flights to Geneva, I found that the cheapest airfare was a little under $1000 by Aeroflot, and that had me going through Moscow on the way to Geneva. I'm sure Moscow is a nice place to visit, but it is extremely out of the way and I think I can do better on the airfare.

Looking at the map provided by Google on flights to Europe on that particular day I found then that the Scandinavian cities were a heck of a lot cheaper than a flight to Geneva!

Even today, Stockholm is a lot cheaper to get to from the USA than Geneva ($735 compared to $1022).

Getting to Stockholm was quite cheap! I figure I stay there for several days, then take a commuter flight to Geneva on the day it was the cheapest...which turned out to be August 25, the day we check into our apartments in Chamonix. That flight only cost me $100 exactly for a round trip! I made sure that both flights lined up nicely on the way back to the USA too. The total cost for both flights was $835, much better than $1022!

And I get to see Stockholm for several days. I think it's a win-win situation. :-)

Using AirBnB, I also landed a nice place for 3 nights at Stockholm for only $150. With another $120 for a place in Geneva after UTMB and I've secured 2 weeks in Europe with airfare and lodging for a little over $1300. Not bad!

I can definitely use what I saved for the mandatory gear that we need to carry for UTMB, and I will address that here in 1-2 weeks!