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.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Lotteries and Possibilities for 2015

Time to start seeing what my 2015 racing season is going to look like!

Tomorrow is the Hardrock 100 lottery. With 2 tickets in the draw, I have a 2.5% chance of winning a spot in Hardrock next year. I have mixed feelings either way this shakes out. If I fail to get in, I can save my money for other races, like the USA Triathlon Nationals. If I do get in, however, I'll definitely accept the coveted spot in one of the toughest footraces in the world.

The other lottery that I'm in, the UTMB, doesn't draw until February. With that lottery I have a very good shot of getting in. Second year participants usually enjoy a more than 50% chance at getting in. I'm seriously wanting to get into this race next year.

So this leaves 4 possibilities on how the season shakes out.

1) I win both Hardrock and UTMB.

If by some miracle I get into both UTMB and UTMB next year, my season is set. Those are the races I'll be gunning for next year. My budget my be a bit stressed on this, but I think I can stretch the money far in case of this possibility.

2) I win Hardrock but not UTMB.

I would definitely focus on Hardrock, but I will need all 8 points to get into UTMB the following year. Rocky Raccoon will supply 3. If I complete Hardrock that would give me 4, but Hardrock is so tough that there's a good possibility that I won't finish the race, so I'll need another 3 or 4 point 100 miler to cover this race. Maybe Javelina would help here. The remaining 1-2 points can be made in any 50 mile race, North Face would be ideal here.

3) I don't win Hardrock but win UTMB.

I'll need a Hardrock Qualifier race in order to continue accumulating tickets for the Hardrock lottery. I'm currently lookint at Cruel Jewel 100 in May to cover that.

4) I don't win either lottery.

The worst of all scenarios, I'll have to get both 8 points AND complete a Hardrock qualifier. I might have to go out west and try for Bighorn or The Bear 100. That would give me the qualifier for the next Hardrock lottery and give me 4 points towards UTMB. With Rocky Raccoon, that would give me 7 points, and all I would need is a 1 point race to give me 8 for UTMB.

So here goes! Tomorrow is the Hardrock lottery, and 2 of these possibilities will be eliminated tomorrow. Which two? I will know in 24 hours.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Runners, don't wait until New Years - Make your resolution now about your diet or you'll regret it.

Every fall, there are always three HUGE days in which diets can fall by the wayside.

Number one is Halloween. This is one holiday where one needs to make sure that the Halloween candy goes to the kids hands and not into your stomach. Make sure that there is only enough candy for the kids so that you have very little extra after the holiday is over. Oh, and if you're one that has kids and received candy. Well, I fear for you. You're going to have to trust in your willpower to not eat all of your kid's candy.

Second is Thanksgiving. This has turned out to be a huge gorge-fest. I've found that getting just a little bit of every dish will work out to be a full meal, and nothing more. This will also help spread out the leftovers for the following week.

The third is Christmas. Now, I'm not talking about just the day, but the ENTIRE MONTH. Everyone I know has at least 2-3 holiday parties that they will be going to, especially running clubs. The food will be plentiful! Willpower needs to come into play here also. Also, the strategy here is *not* to park yourself next to where the food is. That is where the temptation will overcome you. The best thing is to situate yourself in another room, making strategic runs to the food and drink only when necessary. This way you don't wind up eating more than 5000 calories at the party.

There's a reason why most New Year's weight loss resolutions come out at the beginning of each year. It's mainly because people were so out of control with their eating during the holidays that they come into New Year's with a lot of guilt.

Try not to be like them this season. Start your resolution now and hold those regrets.

Monday, December 1, 2014

USA Triathlon Champs, Old School Coaching and Business Philosophy

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I just got an email from USA Triathlon that I have qualified for the 2015 USA Triathlon Nationals in Milwaukee next August 8.

That's great. I'm not sure where it's going to fit into my schedule, with UTMB and Hardrock being possibilities (both lottery draws), but I will pull all stops to try to make this race. It's been years since I've competed for a spot on Team USA. I might as well make the most of this again.

What is interesting is that I've already registered for the Atlantic City International Triathlon on August 9.

And hereis lies the challenge...how to get me, plus the gear to Atlantic City after finishing the race in Milwaukee.

With bike fees the way they are with airlines, it might be possible to use the TriBike Transport, but that will mean having no bike for Atlantic City, since Tribike transports the bike by truck.

Which means it might be possible to revive my old Zipp bike for the AC race. Add this to the myriad of projects on my list!

Not mine, but looks just like it. A little TLC should bring it back to this condition.


Most of the members of the Raritan Valley Road Runners had their best times in the Philly Marathon! Congratulations to them all on such great racing.

That might mean more members coming into the track training program this spring. As a coach, I'm glad to see results as such in races. I always aim to be the best in my field.

My father, who is also self-employed, instilled this "old school" philosophy into me. Basically, if you bust your butt helping out customers, you'll always get repeat customers and the best recommendations of them all, through word-of-mouth.

My father installed carpets in his 40+ year career. His advertising spending for the entire 40+ years? $0

His work was the advertising! He was successful through word-of-mouth and repeat customers. It's the way a true honest business runs. And to see customers happy was the best "payment" of them all.

I hope that I am following in his footsteps with my coaching. It's the only way to run an honest business. I'm glad for his life lessons on this.

Thank you Dad for your business sense!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I am qualified for USA Triathlon Nationals in 2015

Acknowledging that resting is only for the dead, I was in front of my computer doing some coaching work and checking my emails and I came across this little gem:

"Congratulations Peter PRIOLO! You have qualified for the Olympic-Distance race at the 2015 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships on Aug. 8 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, after finishing in the top 33 percent in your age group at the Massachusetts State Triathlon 2014"

Due to my strong showing at the Massachussets State Triathlon this past year, I'm now qualified to compete in the USA Triathlon Nationals!

A trip to Milwaukee might be in the future next year for me! I'll have to check my overall schedule and see if it fits. If I do go, I'll be training very hard to make Team USA here. :-)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Your Big Race - Always Take a Calculated Risk for a Chance to SHINE!!!

With the Philly Marathon and the JFK 50 coming up, I wish all those doing these races the best of luck.

That being said, you'll need to take a final assessment of yourself and decide how to perform at your best in your race.

It ultimately comes down to whether you play it safe or take a bit of a risk.

My decision? Take the risk!

Yep, you can point out to that slew of DNFs that I have on my record for taking risks. But really, those DNFs were risks that I have taken and failed. I was still glad to take those risks because even with failure, I learned quite a lot about myself with those DNFs.

And if the gamble pays off? You could easily come away with the race of your life!

It hurt, but coming in at a little over 10.5 hours was one of the awards of a lifetime.

By playing it safe, you're basically guaranteed a certain finish time, but you really do not learn much about yourself that way. It's when you push outside your comfort zone; that is where you have the chance at having the race of your life.!

It has to be a calculated risk though; a risk that would give a reasonable chance of success. You cannot go into a marathon hoping to do a 2:30 if your previous best time for the marathon is 4 hours. If the training suggests, however, that you're capable of running 3:30, then that is the perfect amount of risk to take.
So as you decide on your strategy for the Philly Marathon or the JFK50, remember to ALWAYS take a calculated risk. Who knows? This might be the chance that you SHINE out there!

Monday, November 3, 2014

the ups and the downs of the nyc marathon

NYC Marathon Day is over.

This marathon draws a lot of feelings  from me when I'm up and about as a spectator. Some of them are mostly favorable, but there are several unfavorable feelings I do get. I'll see if I can compile them in a list.

The Upsides of the NYC Marathon

1) The runners themselves.

Although the faster runners meant all business, it's the slower runners that tend to lead a festive atmosphere in the streets of NY. Of course there was a good share of "costumed characters" like Superman, the waiter, and that guy who was running in just a skimpy Speedo whooping it up in front of the crowds.

Oh yeah, I definitely saw the Coatman at mile 12 of the race. This is part of the cheerful costumed crowd that decorates the NYC Marathon runners.

Then you have the other runners with their names on their shirts. This was you can cheer them on by name and hopefully give them a good emotional lift to get to the finish line. It just adds to a festive atmosphere in the race.

2) The spectators.

Most of the spectators lining the course are friends and family of runners that are on the course. So when you see a runner come up to a spectator and hug them in celebration, it's definitely a good moment to see.

Most of these spectators come with their own humorous signs to keep the runners motivated.

I wonder if that's true?

Now THAT is true!

Between the runners and the spectators, there was definitely a party atmosphere going on!

3) The volunteers and staff

It takes a lot of hours of work just to put on a small race. It's a crazy undertaking to get a race as huge as this one running smoothly. I worked my small part in the marathon moving the mile markers into their positions and coordinating with the timers there so that their timing mats were in position to be operational. Without the staff and the colunteers, there wouldn't be a race, so hats off to everyone helping to get this race done!

4) Most NYers show their good natured side

Yeah, New Yorkers are a tough crowd, but it's the one day they turn their hardness off and show a soft spot for all the runners in their streets. There are a few people who don't care (I've seen comments from Staten Islanders bitching about the Verrazano Bridge closure in the local paper here, even though it's just one day out of the year (well, make that two days if you include the Five Borough Bike Tour), but those people are few and far between, thankfully.

5) The hype

Newspapers were covering the race all week. The TV networks were covering the race all week. It's been a non-stop blitz about the people who are running the race for the very first time. One can't help just getting carried away with the hype for the race and to come out and watch.

The Downsides of the NYC Marathon

1) The hype

There's a bit of a downside with the hype also...that it takes away the fact that it still is indeed a race. I remember when I did this race in 1995 it was not easy to run the first few miles at race speed due to the sheer number of people in my vicinity. It took until about mile 4 before I can get up to speed. And that was when the race was only 25,000 people. Which leads to the next downside...

2) The large number of runners

About 55,000 people finished the 2014 NYC Marathon. That is a heck of a lot of runners! Because of that, the last wave of runners started this race around 11:00AM! Most of this wave consisted of slower runners, and anyone who was finishing around 6 hours was going to finish at night. Yikes! Personally, this is one of the main reasons why I stay away from the real large races.

3) High Profile Race = Security Issues

No backpacks for the runners (they needed transparent bags to get into the staging area), background checks for the staff and volunteers, and a lot of police patrolling from the ground and from the air. Yeah, the Boston Marathon bombing made this a necessity, but I'm not sure if I want to be subject to a TSA check upon arriving at the start line. It's another reason why I tend to stay away from big races.

4) High registration fee and the hassle of getting in

The NYC Marathon has a lottery to get in. I'm not sure what the chances are of getting in, but there is another way for runners in this area to get in. They would have to register and run 9 of the NYRR races within a given period and volunteer and one other race in order to get the nod. The registration fee is around $300 more or less, and if one chooses to go into that "9+1" program, the cost basically doubles. At the same time I can register online for the Philly Marathon in 5 minutes for $140 (with the late fee included). The race happens in less than 3 weeks and the registration is still open.

In summary, the NYC Marathon is a huge race, and with marathons popping up in every city, it would probably be more convenient to easily register online for another marathon. But I cannot overlook the special atmosphere that the NYC Marathon provides. One of these years, I'll consider entering the lottery and do it again.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

NYC Marathon! Drafting Off Runners, Official Pacers, and Mile Markers

Good luck to all those doing the NYC Marathon tomorrow.

From the weather forecasts, it's going to be a bitter wind from the north. Since the first 20 miles of the marathon has runners going generally northward, this is going to mean a nasty headwind for the runners for the majority of the race.

The best thing a runner can do is to slip in behind a taller runner who is running the same pace as you and let him or her break that cold wind.

If you're the tallest person around, well, it basically sucks for you. lol.

Here are some good articles on drafting that shows it benefits runners as well as cyclists.

Anyway, this is the simple most effective strategy I can give you for tomorrow's NYC Marathon. If you're going to try for a PR, I think you're going to need help from that guy in front of you to do it.


One other thing that I've seen recently in marathons and in half marathons are the increase of official pacers. These are the sorts of people that carry signs like this for the race...

I think they are a welcome addition to these races and can help a lot of people keep their bearing during the race. The only downside, a small one, is that if you choose to run with one of these pacers you willing choose to give up your own strategy in the race. You also basically give up your chance to run a lot faster than the pace given by these pacers.

But a lot of the people in big marathons such as the NYC Marathon are settling for a certain pace anyway, so these pacers are a godsend. They get to be with other people with similar goals and will have company for the entire race, which sure beats running alone! Plus, they can probably pick up new friends in these groups.


I will be working in Brooklyn at the NYC Marathon tomorrow moving the mile markers into place. I will be on my bicycle moving from marker to marker. These are what the mile markers will look like...

There will be an opposite marker like this on the other side of the street. The white thing in the center records the timing chips for the runners that pass by these markers. This then goes to a central computer to produce real-time feeds to friends and family of the runner on the internet. Technology is grand, isn't it?

After my job is done, I will hightail it over to the 12 mile marker at Bedford Ave. to cheer on people I know doing the race. I'll be in a Tilly hat and should be on the right side of the course. Anyone who knows me can definitely shout out a "hello!".

I'll probably bike it across the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park South to see the runners coming in to the finish. It might not be easy to find a viewing area there, especially with a bicycle in tow, but I'll see what I can do.