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 28, 2011

Thoughts - February 28 - GMaps Plotting

With yet another 20+ mile run under my belt, it was a great day to be outside yesterday. 40 degree temps, little wind, and a sunny day definitely contributed to a great run.

What I realized during this run was that I was really free to run anywhere without guessing how many miles I ran.

All I had to know is the course I ran. Then I can figure the miles later on the internet. I've been using the GMaps Pedometer for some time now to plot my traditional running courses, but I've never ad-libbed a course until yesterday's run.

Knowing that the Staten Island Athletic Club was doing their long run yesterday, and knowing that they were going to do less than the 20 miles I needed for my training, I decided to start off early and get about 5-6 miles done before meeting up with the group. The group then decided to go through Stapleton and Fort Wadsworth to South Beach and back a different way.

Before I knew it, I was running on unfamiliar roads. How was I going to figure out mileage from this?

In the "paleolithic" past, before the dawn of the internet, we just guessed what pace we ran and figured out the miles from there. It was a pretty inexact science.

But with the advent of the GMaps Pedometer, I got my exact mileage after a few minutes of plotting. Think about it, if it can plot the exact mileage from a crazy course like this, then I can run just about anywhere on the roads today and know my exact distance.

Now, if they can do the same thing for trails...

----

I think I've decided on The Beast Series over the Double Ironman this year. It's really a commitment issue. The Beast Series, with its 6 races, needs more commitment than the Double Ironman. It would be easier to do The Beast Series this year, when I have the time to do it. Next year might be a different story. It would be easier to fit the Double Ironman into next year's schedule even if I am committed to other things.

Once I get my money in today, then I'll confirm it here tomorrow.

Oh, and the Double Ironman? That will DEFINITELY be done next year.

-----

I will still be doing some triathlons down the NJ shore this summer, even if the Double Ironman is out this year.

There are a couple of people I know who are looking to do several triathlons, and I might tag along with them. It would really be nice to hammer out a short one again, even if I don't have the "jets" anymore to stay in front.

But I won't be paying $450 for a pair of cycling shoes. I mean, really. What has this sport come to? How much money to spend before you go bankrupt?

I'll stick to my $100 cycling shoes. They might be a couple of grams heavier, but at least my wallet is thankfully heavier too.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thoughts - February 26 - Adding Long Hikes for Massanutten

Back to normal running again after the Armory sprints? You bet.

An easy 8 miles on the Delaware and Raritan Canal Towpath with the Raritan Valley Road Runners this morning and I'm set for the 20 miler tomorrow morning. This will squarely give me the 50 miles needed for this week.

A couple of weeks more at this level, then I really start ramping up the mileage into the stratosphere.

I also have to get some 6-8 hour hikes in also.

Yes, hikes! Mountainous hikes too. Bear Mountain sized hikes! Gotta hit the mountains frequently. The Massanutten 100 race absolutely demands this.

The topograph definitely shows why. There are a lot of steep downhills as well as steep uphills for this course. Plus, the course is very technical, lined with rocks and roots at most places. Some of the course would be very difficult to run on, so power hiking is the best bet for the real difficult parts of the course.

And so, starting in 2 weeks, and every 2-3 weeks after that, I will be traveling to Bear Mountain for 6-8 hour power hikes. And who knows, maybe I can get some of the ultra studs and studettes from the Ultra List who live in this area to come along also.

---

In other news, I got my splits from the Armory last night. I was definitely the slowest person on the team by about a second or two. Here are my splits:

1st lap: 32.16 (clearly the fastest. I was definitely gassed after this lap).

2nd lap: 34.76 (slowed down substantially, but still maintained a decent time).

3rd lap: 38.82 (this was where I had to swerve out of the way of a team with a dropped baton. Was also forced to the outside by another runner. Slowest lap).

4th lap: 35.73 (better recovery from the last lap).

5th lap: 35.58 (gutted out the last straightaway here).

A total of 2:57.0 for 1000m, or 35.41 average. Almost 3 minutes of running, and still tired and stiff 2 days later.

Tis the nature of sprints.

I'll just stick with the endurance, thank you.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Relay Race Report - 10,000 Meters at the Armory

This was really, really fun!

*all photos courtesy of Josh Pesin

Our little SIAC 10 man motley crew posing as a relay team actually did very well last night at the Armory (results pending). Everyone gave it 100% last night, evidenced by doubling over, coughing up lungs, and knuckles dragging on the floor. We were a tired team afterwards, but a satisfied and happy team.

As relays traditionally go in track and field meets, the relay was last on the docket of three races (the 3000m and 1500m were included). Although all of us came about 7:30PM we actually had to wait until 11:30PM to race.

A couple on the team did enter into the other two events to loosen up for the relay and to pass time. Meanwhile, the rest of us practiced smooth baton exchanges downstairs in the halls.

I haven't been to the Armory in 5 years. Just the setup of the track is enough to inspire awe. The track is like a stage, with stands lined everywhere around the track. People naturally get a feeling of stage fright when performing on the track. But once the event goes off, the adrenaline takes over, big time.

We were in the second heat of the day, which gave us time to watch how this relay actually worked in the first heat, and looking at the various baton exchanges. There were definitely some speed demons in the mix in which we just cannot hope to compete against. It's like they had some sort of rocket strapped to their back as they were just flying around the track at supersonic speeds.

When it came to our heat, we assembled as a team and assured ourselves that we will do well if we gave it our all.

I was sixth in the lineup and raring to go. Our team captain, Mario told us to ease the first lap then build on it. I don't think anyone really listened. :) Not me anyway. With the adrenaline pumping, somehow I knew I would go out like gangbusters on that first lap.

And so did the first runners on our relay. They were pretty much pumping around the track. When it came to me, I did the same thing.

The first baton exchange was a little bit off, as I started a bit late. The baton was safely exchanged to me, and I was off like a bat out of hell. I felt like I got around that track in a heartbeat, as I exchanged the baton to Adam, who was next in line.

Don't drop the baton Pete, don't drop the baton...

That was when the tiredness struck.

The first thing that I thought was, "I had to do 4 more of these? Good Lord!"

It only took about 4-5 minutes before it was time to rocket around the track again. This time, the exchange was a bit smoother. But it seems like the rocket was starting to run out of fuel half way around the track.

Out for another sprint.

Sucking it up and completing the second lap, I was winded. I had 3 more of these crazy sprints to go? Oh God.

The rest of the team was feeling it too, but we kept it up well. My third time around the track almost turned into a disaster, as the relay team in front of me dropped their baton and I had to swerve, in mid sprint, to avoid them.

The fourth time around the track I can feel my eyes start to go toward the back of my head. This was real agony here, and probably why I abandoned speed workouts 10 years ago. There is nothing nice about being anaerobic.

Go Adam go!!!

Lactic acid sucks. Period.

Still, I persevered and had one more sprint to go. This time, we lay it all out on the track and run like the wind.

Yeah right. I was in total survival mode.

Still, when it came to the last lap, I did push that last straightaway and finished the last exchange without a hitch. Doubled over, I watch the last 4 guys sprint around the track and finish well below our goal of 30 minutes.

We finished at 27:36. Not bad for a team unaccustomed to sprinting.

Good show!

Some of us celebrated our tremendous effort at Coogans Restaurant for an hour or more before heading home into the wee hours of the morning. All and all, it was a satisfying experience to be a part this team.

One big problem persists. Once this indoor track on Staten Island gets built (SITRAC), will I subject myself to more of this agony? I shudder at the thought.

Now back to ultra training!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thoughts - February 24 - It's Relay Time!!!

The relay team is set! I'm going SIXTH.

Our two fastest people will be going first and last, where their speed might actually count.

Tonight is the last day for Thursday Night at the Races at the Armory Track. And the relay is the last event of the night.

The relay will involve 10 men sprinting 200m each (1 lap), then handing off the baton to the next person in the rotation.

Everyone will do the 200m sprint 5 times.

So we have 50 laps of the track, hence 49 baton exchanges in the whole race. That's a heck of a lot of exchanges.

And a heck of a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong.

Personally, I have 10 of those baton exchanges to worry about, 5 of them coming to me, and 5 of them being handed off to someone else. This will occupy my mind the whole day.

Never mind that sprinting hard might invite potential injury to myself. Nah, that might only kill a big portion of my season. 

It's the baton drop I'm REALLY worried about, where I can potentially lose precious seconds if not done right.

Sounds about logical, right? ;-)

Seriously though, I will monitor my sprints very carefully, and if there are any warning signs that might signal an injury, I will back off the rest of the sprints. After all, this race ultimately is about having fun.

My serious races are later.

For all the nervousness that is exhibited here, I'm actually really excited and ready to go. The races start at 7PM, so wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thoughts - February 23 - Bring On The Season!!!

The double digit runs are starting to get more frequent now.

Last Sunday, I ran the Cherry Tree 10 Miler (looks like I'm mentioned here) at a pretty fast clip. Fast for me, that is. Some runners consider 77 minutes for 10 miles a walk in the park.

This morning, a nice looking 10 miler in one of the colder mornings of the season (19F). Despite the cold, this run felt quite easy.

Next Sunday will be a 20 miler with some people in the Staten Island Athletic Club. Although some will be looking to push the pace, I'll be lying back a little and enjoying my run.

Hey, ultramarathon runners don't really have to worry about speed, right?

All in all, I hope to make my third 50 mile week of the new season. I hope to hold steady at 50 for a couple of more weeks before I really start to build the volume for Massanutten.

Although my training for these ultras will be similar to what I did for Vermont, last year, there are some striking differences to note.

One, I'm doing a lot of smaller races this year along with the ultras. This DOES put some speed into the mix. It'll be interesting to see what kind of results I see in ultras with the speed added.

Secondly, it's not just one ultra I'm training for. There are several ultras on my list, including two 100 mile races (maybe 3 if I include Grindstone this fall). This very active season will need to be managed very carefully to avoid any overtraining and injury. That means building rest and recovery into the training.

Last, but not least, I will also be doing several triathlons this year. I especially love triathlon training because the addition of swimming and cycling really provides a nice balance to training for an ultra. This of course minimizes injuries and makes the training a lot more fun.

Am I amped for this season? Sure! It's February and I already have a couple of races under my belt, including an ultra. I'm part of a relay at the Armory tomorrow, and I'm looking at the Terrapin Mountain 50k (topograph) next month for my next ultra.

Let's get it on!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thoughts - February 22 - Races Being Squeezed to Death

After my run yesterday afternoon, I went over to the Staten Island Athletic Club's Men's Team meeting to see what they had on their agenda.

Aside from the problems with the New York Road Runners club scoring this season (races are being capped), which I probably will mention in future posts, and the problems with the Staten Island Triple Crown races, there was a bit of talk that was relevant to what I saw going on in triathlon that also seems to be going on in road racing as well.

Most road races do require a police presence to keep the roads free of traffic so that the runners have a safe course to run. This is in no doubt similar to most triathlons, where both a police presence AND a phalanx of certified lifeguards are needed to keep the athletes safe.

Seems like the cost of these services went up...A LOT!

So much so that some venerable races that seem to be doing very well are now in trouble coming up with the money for these services.

A lot of townships and states in this country have huge budget shortfalls that are starting to get very troublesome. The response? New fees and increased fees that could stagger any business in those jurisdictions.

In normal times, a business such as a race organizer can get away with passing those costs to the customers, or in this case the athletes.

But these are not normal times.

What if the race organizer decides to pass along these costs, but the athletes don't come because it's too expensive?

We're seeing that with a lot of other businesses folks, not just with races.

Race organizers along with other businesses are now forced to eat these costs. And what happens if the race or business doesn't generate a profit off of its service?

Most races will shut down. Just like businesses are now.

I do have my theories on what is exactly happening, but since I aim to keep this blog aimed at fitness and not economics, I'll not talk about it here. If you are curious though, drop me a line and I'll point you in the right direction.

As for my predictions, I did mention the Fat Ass races on this blog last week. These are INFORMAL races that are usually free for everyone, although a small donation is recommended to the race director to keep him/her motivated to run the event the next year.

As permits and police get prohibitively expensive, expect informal races such as these to EXPLODE.

The bottom line is that business will always continue to happen with or without the government's permission. So it is in each government's best interest to keep the fees reasonable or they will eventually price themselves out altogether.

Running races and triathlons are only a microcosm of a much greater trend. When each legitimate business "officially" closes shop and goes underground just to survive, what would you think the various governments will do then?

Food for thought.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thoughts - Presidents Day 2011 - Why Early Workouts?

OK, so today is Presidents Day. It also snowed out there this morning.

What better way to celebrate a holiday than to wake up early (5AM), venture out into the cold, brush the snow off the car and head off to the YMCA to do workouts in the pool and in the gym?

But the benefits are tremendous! No people in the pool, and only 3 people in the gym!

If I come across sounding that I hate people, then you're mistaken. I only hate some people.

I'm only joking of course, but seriously, what I hate is some peoples' behavior in the pool and in the gym. One of the reasons for getting up very early every day is to minimize my exposure to peoples' erratic behavior.

When a person constantly drifts into my side of the swim lane, I do make it known to them. Nicely, at first.

Some of the behavior I've experienced is really ridiculous. Several years back I was swimming some easy 100s in the pool. As I was swimming, I note a woman sitting by my lane, looking to get in. While I was swimming, I gradually moved over to the other side, so that we can share the lane.

As I come around, she waved a kickboard right in front of me. I stopped, and was pretty upset that she interrupted my routine.

What the woman said afterwards really got my blood boiling. She said, "I don't like the way you turn yourself at the wall (flip turn) because you'll get my hair wet."

WHAT?!!

I looked very squarely at her and said, "Lady, do you know where you're at? This is THE POOL!!! Everything gets wet here, including your precious hair. If you don't like getting your hair wet, stay away from this area!"

As an exclamation point, the next time I came around I made a particularly hard flip turn with a big splash. By the time I came around again, she was gone.

Apparently she complained to the lifeguard about what I said. Luckily, I knew the lifeguard, so we had a good chuckle about it afterward.

There are some interesting characters around the gym also.

For example, the parking lot for the gym is half-full with cars. Most of the spots closest to the gym were full, the distant lots were pretty much empty.

Every so often I see people in their cars WAITING for spots to open closer to the gym. All so they don't have to walk an extra 100 feet.

Does this make sense?

Think about it. You're going there for a workout. Don't you think walking that 100 extra feet might actually be beneficial to your fitness? The fitness lifestyle doesn't just begin when you walk inside that gym, people. And it shouldn't end when you leave either.

Life at 5AM at the pool and at the gym is good. I figure that only the serious fitness people get up at that time.

Heck, waking up early is half the battle, and only those people serious about their fitness will wake up at that time. 

All the people at the pool and gym in the early hours are dedicated people, and so the erratic behavior is minimized.

I always get asked questions why I do workouts so early in the morning. Well, there is your answer right there.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thoughts - February 20, Cherry Tree 10 Miler Report

Last night I went to sleep with the howl of the wind.

This morning, well, the howl of the wind was still there. Oh, and the thermometer was at 22F.

Aw crap, another cold race to run.

The Cherry Tree 10 Mile Run, put on by the Prospect Park Track Club, is run entirely within Prospect Park.

Since I have run in Prospect Park on occasion, I was familiar with the course. The loop there runs around 3.5 miles, give or take a couple of tenths. So a 10 mile course would be just about, but not quite, 3 loops of the park.

Turned out that I was right. The start of the race was down a bit from the finish.

I also know about the one hill on the course (click here to see general pics of the course). The one I was about to climb 3 times. Yes, the hill is a molehill compared to some trail ultras, but I really don't push the pace in ultras. A short 10 mile race is a different story.

The race also had a relay element. The 3 loops made a 3 person relay possible, with the first two people running 3.5 miles and the last person running 3 miles.

3.5 miles is but a trifle! I am a relay of one! I'll do the whole 10 miles, thank you.

With the temp about 25 degrees at the start, I did dress differently than in the ultra last week. I dressed in shorts and a thin long sleeve shirt last week. This week? Long pants and a heavy long sleeve sweater.

The reason? Last week I was promised a high of 46F down in Virginia. This week I was just promised a cold, windy day.

The start was not too bad. We were going downhill and the wind was sort of at our back. It was good to have that time to warm up before heading into the teeth of the wind on the backside of the loop.

The hill did surprise me on the first loop. I took it a bit too strongly and wound up pretty much sucking wind as I neared the top.

The second and third time around, I was a bit more systematic. I also passed oodles of people struggling up this hill. It's definitely good to have stamina!

The pace was quite consistent. I did record a 7:20 pace on a downhill mile and a 8:10 pace on the uphill time, but most of the other miles settled at around a 7:40 pace.

The result? 1 hour, 17 minutes, 34 seconds. I was expecting 1:20. So, I was happy with the result.

I wasn't in danger of fading either. That's the best part. It was only a week after my 50k, and my legs were just about recovered. I cannot say that with any of my previous marathons.

I keep reiterating that point...recovering from an ultra is generally faster than recovering from a marathon. I know it sounds backwards, but it is definitely true. And there are valid reasons behind it.

I'll list my reasons tomorrow, for fear that this post will get too long. And I have a shower and a nap waiting for me in the near future.

Have a great Sunday and President's Day everyone.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thoughts - February 19 - Massanutten Toughness

The cold winds replace the warmer temperatures last night, with some lightning and thunder in the mix.

I guess Mother Nature is still reminding us that it is still February.

After a wild and snowy December and January, people were ready to put their heavy coats away for the season and declare spring. Heck, even the groundhogs were anxious to end winter too.

I didn't declare winter over yet. I had my winter running clothes at the ready all along. With temps nosediving back into the 20's tonight, it looks like they will be seeing some action this week.

This morning, I was cheering and helping out a little with the Febapple 50k race. I met an extraordinary woman, EC, who had some inside information on the upcoming Massanutten 100 race.

She did this race last year. First, she told me what everyone else told me. The race is much tougher than Vermont.

But then she gave me some good inside information on the course itself. The last 30 miles of the course is so technical that it dwarfs the Vermont course in terms of difficulty.

Dang, she got me worried. A LOT.

With just cause. This is coming from a woman that excels in these races. So I take her advice with a lot more weight than a casual ultramarathoner telling me these things.

My training has been improving a lot over the course of a month, but I feel that I can do a bit more. Especially in the weight category.

My weight has been trending a bit lower, but I think I need to accelerate that trend to make sure I'm race ready in May. In my opinion, I think that would be the highest priority and the best way to improve my performance in this race.

I'm about 190 pounds now. I did lose about 10 pounds in the last 2 months, which is OK. What if I were to make my goal 170 pounds by the time I toe the line at Massanutten?

I figure, with a lot less weight to carry over 100 miles, I should be able to handle the mileage a lot better than at 190, right?

It looks like I have a secondary goal folks. 170 pounds at Massanutten. My Paleo diet will be ramped up even more. :-)

Tomorrow is the Cherry Tree 10 Miler in Prospect Park. Wish me luck.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thoughts - February 18 - Doing so few triathlons lately?

With all the ultramarathon stuff on the calendar, one athlete asked me whether I was going to do any triathlons this year.

The answer is yes. I originally intended to do about 3-4 triathlons down the NJ shore this year along with the Virginia Double Ironman in October. 

Both the Sandy Hookers and Jersey Shore Triathlon Clubs have nice local races down there. I'll be picking which races to attend as the summer approaches.

Now, the Double Ironman is in question. The Grindstone 100 is the same weekend. So a choice has to be made.

Right now, I'm leaning toward the Grindstone 100. Yes, it is a risky choice. Picking the Grindstone (wiki) would mean three 100 mile races in the same year. This might border on insanity.

Then again, I would love to do the Grand Slam of Ultras one of these years. The Grand Slam involves four 100 mile races in 4 months. Doing three this year might actually help me prepare for that eventuality.

As for the other triathlons? Only 3-4? Yes. Have you seen the race entry fees for triathlons? They are insane!

Entry into the New York City Triathlon, which is ONLY an Olympic Distance race, was $245. Yikes! 

Yes, they did sell out this year, but what happens when they raise prices next year and the year after that and the economic situation in this country gets worse?

Sooner or later, triathlon is going to hit the brick wall of reality. A lot of people these days are struggling to make ends meet. If the triathlon race directors and the townships that charge these race directors for the permits continue the rampant runaway price increases, they will price out the new people interested in the sport.

We might actually see this happening now. Unlike triathlons which cater to those who spend on high-end equipment, ultramarathons share a philosophy of racing on the cheap.

There is an increase of Fat-Ass races (informal races with no entry fees), most venues allow camping, which is much cheaper than a hotel room, and the entry fees of ultras that DO charge are a lot more reasonable than triathlon entry fees.

The result? More newcomers trying out ultras instead of triathlons. At the Holiday Lake 50k last week, about half the people entered for the race were newbies. That is amazing! Just read some of the reports sent in by the newbies!

Participation in ultras has gone way up these past couple of years. These are people who used to go into triathlon. A lot of newbies in ultras also came from a triathlon background. The exodus from triathlon has already begun, in my opinion.

As for ultras, tomorrow is the Febapple 50k. As I stated before, I opted out of this race. I will be there cheering the runners on instead. I will however, race the Cherry Tree 10 Miler in Propsect Park, Brooklyn as a consolation prize, running for the Staten Island Athletic Club.

Next Thursday is the Thursday Night at the Races at the Armory. I'll be in a 10 person 10,000 meter relay. I will actually be SPRINTING around an indoor track. I'll be dusting off those track spikes I haven't used in a while.

Wish me luck in both the Cherry Tree and the Armory relay races. :-)


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thoughts - February 17

I decided not to run in the Febapple 50k this weekend. The conditions were, as I can say elegantly, not good. As a matter of fact, if the warm days today and tomorrow don't melt a significant amount of snow off the trails, the conditions would be actually worse than Watchung in January.

It's sad too. I really wanted to do two consecutive 50k ultras in as many weeks. I guess February is just not a good month to try to do it.

As I was "running" in South Mountain yesterday, I realized how dangerous things were. Not that I don't welcome a challenge, but with both Massanutten and Leadville trips already committed and paid for, I was not going to risk my health in a minor race like this.

There is an outside chance that I may try a 50k run of my own this Sunday. I have to see if it works for me though. The sudden absence of a 50k run on Saturday really throws my running training scheule into chaos and I need to set that right today.

My mind is still on The Beast Series. Namely, how to get to Terrapin Mountain for their 50k next month without all that driving?

Amtrak does have direct service to Lynchburg from Penn Station. Their schedules though leave much to be desired.

The earliest train from Penn Station arrives in Lynchburg arrives at 8:36PM. That's not a whole lot of time if I come in a day before the race.

Secondly, the venue, Sedalia Center, is about 25 miles away from the train station. I'll need to either try to get a ride over there or rent a car for a day.

The return schedules are even worse. Most of the trains from Lynchburg go in the morning or early afternoon, well before the time I finish the race. That might mean an extra day, and, of course, extra cost. Still, the first train on Sunday leaves at 6:00AM so I can camp a few hours overnight somewhere, right?

Either way, I don't want to drive long hours the way I did for the Holiday Lake race. I'm sure my companion in the car for Holiday Lake would think the same way also.

I might have a pacer for Leadville! He just e-mailed me saying that race weekend (August 20-21) is actually open in his schedule and that he would be willing to fly there. Well, misery loves company, and I would be sure glad to have him pacing me in the nighttime hours at Leadville.

In the wake of last year's registration process, in which it only took 8 hours to completely fill the Boston Marathon, the BAA came out with its new registration process. It calls for rolling admissions, with the faster people in each age group invited to register first. The slower people who qualified would wait a couple of days before registering. Right now, the way I see it, it actually looks quite fair.

Yes, Watson did beat two great competitors in Jeopardy last night, but I am still amazed at the human brain and its ability to process information. Whereas Watson needed a large room and millions of processors to "reason" out a question, our brains can do that and a lot more and can fit into a small space between 2 ears. Although we might not have the entire knowledge of the Library of Congress stored into our brains like Watson, our brains still have the info processing beat, by a large margin.

Ken Jennings came out with his own article on his experience. Quite an interesting read.

OK, time to go outside and have fun with this gorgeous day. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Comments on the South Mountain Trails

I have some time to write some comments about the course. If anybody has any further questions, let me know via ironpete@ironpete.com and I'll answer your questions to the best of my ability.

The photos are here... http://gofarthersports.blogspot.com/2011/02/south-mountain-trails-pictures-ahead-of.html

1) I only ran on part of the eastern 10 mile loop of the course, which is much more frequently traveled by people in the park. The western course is less frequently traveled, and could be different in terms of snow and ice.

2) The temperature at the beginning of my run was 30 degrees.

3) I initially was going to run the whole eastern loop, but had to cut the loop in the middle because of time constraints. I was going very slow out there due to the conditions. I did not photograph the middle part of the eastern loop. I only photographed the initial 3 miles and the last 3 miles of the loop.

4) I wore XC shoes with a 1/4 inch spike on the trails. Even though the spikes worked to some extent, I did come close to slipping several times out there, especially the downhill at the end of the eastern loop.

5) The trails that I encountered were HARD PACKED with ice and snow. And it was still very deep. My guess is that two warm days on Thursday and Friday will *not* clear the trails of the snow and ice. I would highly suggest anyone running to take Microspikes, Yaktrax, screw shoes, XC spikes, etc. with him/her to this race. You might need them.

6) There are DEEP RUTS in the ice that can potentially injure an ankle. I did run in 30 degree temps, so this *can* change for the better with warmer weather conditions on Saturday. Hopefully the slushier snow will squash the ruts during the race.

7) There were some sporadic spots on the trails that were devoid of snow. That was because of running water through those spots. Although better than ice, they were very muddy.

8) The downhill at the end of the eastern loop going into the start/finish area is partially paved on the upper part by a bulldozer (was parked there when I went by it). The lower part however was slick with ice. Please be careful going down that hill! I almost fell a couple of times despite running with the spikes.

That's about it. To all those people who are running, I wish you well. I will be down there to either volunteer/spectate/cheer you on on Saturday!

See you then. :-)

South Mountain Trails - Pictures - February 16, 2011

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. I'll fully comment on the course later.

There is still a LOT of snow on the trails...

The above picture shows a lot of deep ruts in the snow. Have to be very careful where to place your foot. The below picture shows the trail on the first loop on the return trip back to the start.

The next four below is the path along the road. This is along the return trip back on the eastern lap of the ultra. A section to really cruise on during warmer months. Ruts pretty much line the trail now. Watch those ankles.



Below is the loop road. You'll be on this road for a short bit before taking the downhill to the start/finish area. Notice how deep the snow still is compared to the road.

The last downhill of the eastern loop back to the start/finish (below). It's actually been paved...

Paved...at least part way. The rest of the way? Well...snow of course (below).

Below are two pictures of the start/finish area. I was literally surprised to see this usually sunny area still deep with snow.



I'm a bit time constrained now...some comments will be posted here later.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thoughts - February 15

Ultramarathons are much quicker to recover from than marathons.

Just the mention of the Massanutten 100 had people I didn't know patting me on the back and wishing me luck in that race while I was in Virginia this past weekend. This race must be extremely difficult.

The Beast Series is seriously calling out to me. The problem is, the Grindstone 100, the premier race of this series, is the same weekend as the Virginia Double Ironman. Should I change the schedule?

At the end of every day I have to remember always to organize for the next day. If I don't roll out of bed and into my running shoes, I start to procrastinate.

As of Tuesday, one small section in my hamstring is a bit tight from the Holiday Lake Ultra. Everything else is fine.

I've never done two marathons in 2 consecutive weekends. Yet, I am poised to do 2 50k ultras in as many weekends. Another test of my training methods, of course.

The SIAC wants me to do The Cherry Tree 10 race in Prospect Park the day after the Febapple 50k ultra this weekend. Is it crazy to even entertain this thought?

That IBM computer Watson held its own against two of the most celebrated Jeopardy champs of all time last night. Does this mean humanity is becoming obsolete now?

Some Holiday Lake 50k++ Notes

The temperature at the start was 24 degrees. Perfect temperature to wear my shorts! 

I only knew about the 24 degree temperature when I saw the water in my
bottle turn to an icy slush and asked another runner about it. I also
found my cap frozen to my head when I tried to adjust it.

As a New Yorker running in Virginia, I almost forgot what running on trails is like
without the snow. I was waiting for the inevitable slip, fall, and bruised backside,
but strangely, it didn't happen.

I must make it my business to avoid horse dung on the bridle trails.
Running *through* it will not give me a noticeable advantage in the race.

Eating Twizzlers is not easy to do when cold.

What's with the plus signs (50k++)? Remember that a David Horton mile is
always longer than a standard mile.

Expensive transponder scoring is NOT necessary in an ultra race for
accurate and fast results.

And finally...

When finishing a David Horton race, expect a handshake from him
immediately (or hug, if you're a woman). Small gestures like these are
what makes people come back to his races time and time again.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Holiday Lake 50k++ - A Much Better Start to the Season

Ahhh, a race where I can actually RUN in! My first ultra of 2011, the Watchung Winter Ultra 50k, I didn't fare too well in. Although snow and ice are a good excuse for me not finishing, I was definitely not satisfied with the result.

Enter the Holiday Lake 50k.

David Horton, the race director, is a legend as far as ultrarunning is concerned. Just Google his name and you'll see why. He also puts on great ultra races in his corner of the country, the Lynchburg, Virginia area. I did his Mountain Masochist for my first 50 miler ever and I was hooked.

So it was about time to go down there and participate in one of his races again. And I was richly rewarded again.

Instead of a long, drawn out race report, I'll just summarize some key notes over the next several days of my race experience. Keeping things way, way short, I had a good, consistent race and finished at 6:09:09.

Until then, Happy Trails!