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.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Your Endurance Race Guide to Guilt Free Eating this Holiday Season

This is the time of year where we encounter a string of holidays that just derail a lot of people from their noble tasks, a season of holidays that are just focused on the myriad types of gluttony so profound that it takes a steel will to stay on course.



The first challenge is Halloween. It's a good holiday to soften up your will a little for the major league holidays to come. Especially if you have kids or deal with them. With all that candy sitting around, it's not hard to succumb to the temptation of empty calories.

Now we have the second and third challenges coming up...Thanksgiving and Christmas. Ah, holidays dedicated to the gluttony of eating, then spending. With Thanksgiving, isn't it swell to sit down to a 12 course meal with family and friends and just eat to oblivion? But wait, after that, we spend to oblivion soon after as Christmas approaches. What's a decent person to do?

Well, the spending is up to you, but there are ways to balance out that eating part a bit. We have LOTS of endurance races to choose from.

One of the things that I've always liked about the Philadelphia Marathon is its closeness to Thanksgiving. I've done this race 3 times and it was great going into that Thanksgiving dinner knowing that I already burned all those calories ahead of time. It's as guilt free as I can get toward Thanksgiving eating.

The marathon is also a great way to qualify for Boston as the course is very fast. And as tough as Philly is, there are numerous people there that will cheer you on that day. The crowds there in downtown Philly can be quite impressive for that race.

If you're really going to pig out this Thanksgiving, the JFK 50 might be for you. Seriously though, this venerable race in Maryland attracts nearly 1000 people and is the most popular ultramarathon in the US today.

If you don't have the time to travel a bit, there are 2 local races that can help you burn those holiday calories. The inaugural Brooklyn Marathon will be done this Sunday. I believe it will be 8 loops in Prospect Park. Tackling that hill 8 times in one day will definitely help, especially afterwards when you are going for second helping of sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving. The fee is quite reasonable also.

The course is also certified, so you can try to qualify for Boston on this course.

And for those who are just flat broke from all the gift-giving, there is a race for you also, the Thanksgiving Marathon which is part of the Series of Holiday Marathons. It is a no-frills (Fat Ass) event with no timing, no shirts, and minimal aid. The course isn't certified (you cannot qualify for Boston here), but the course in Van Cortlandt Park is awesome. The race is on Thanksgiving morning. You can do one loop (10k), two loops (half marathon), or 4 loops (marathon). Donations are encouraged, of course, but the race is free to enter.

If you really packed on the calories and want to work those off after Thanksgiving, or if you want to get a head start on burning off those calories before your 50,000 calorie Christmas meal, you can come on down to Willowbrook Park on Staten Island for a Day of Trail races done by NYARA on December 10. You can choose the 5k option, the 10k option, the 25k option, and the 50k option. The 50k burns a cool 5000+ calories, good for about 10 glasses of that potent eggnog at your company's Holiday Party (just don't drink them all at once). The course is quite challenging, but it's a testament to our extensive trail system in the Greenbelt here on Staten Island that we can have an ultramarathon here.

So, there's no excuse for you people to gain weight during the holidays. Pick one of these races and you can eat your way to oblivion, guilt free!

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This Saturday's run will NOT be taking place at Willowbrook Park this week due to the 5k Fall Flat race hosted by NYARA. We will resume running next week at Willowbrook Park at 8AM in preparation for the NYARA trail race on December 10.

We have a definite interest in the Ragnar Relay in New England. I haven't seen what the date is, but I'll post as soon as I research the info on it.

Anyone who wants to become a member of the new SIAC Extreme committee please let me know. This will be the committee that will presume over alternative running such as trail runs, ultramarathons, triathlons, obstacle races, and other challenging races in the area.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shaping My 2012 Season - Some Interesting Twists

Well, it's November, and it's decision time for what races I will be doing in 2012. I have decided that it will be a triathlon year next year. This stems from the fact that after 2 years of ultramarathon training, I do think that triathlon training is a the more rounded way of getting fit and would minimize the chances of injury.

The triathlon I have already registered for is the Survival of the Shawangunks Triathlon in New Paltz, NY next September. The registration had to be done quickly on November 1 at midnight; last year it took only 11 minutes for the field to fill. This is quite a beautiful race, about 13 or so years ago I did this race and finished 6th overall, so I have really fond memories of this race.

Along with the fall triathlon I have 4 options for a half-Ironman in the spring. I can go for an early May race, the Bassman Triathlon, or I can go for any of the 3 June races that are nearby (Rev3 Quassy, Mooseman, and Syracuse 70.3). I am leaning toward the early May race at this point because June might be important for another matter entirely. And that's where the twist comes in...

This past weekend, after mulling it over quite a bit, I've decided to register for the Vermont 100. Yes, this is a triathlon season for me, but this will be interesting that I will enter this race after doing TRIATHLON training instead of the ultra training I did the past 2 years. I happen to believe that the more rounded triathlon training would help get me through this race a lot better than it did a year ago, and I am willing to put that theory to the test. I'll get into that theory in detail in the future.

To twist things a bit further, I'll be entering the Western States 100 lottery this week. I don't expect to win (chances are probably 15%, even with 2 ballots entered), but if by chance lightning does strike and I do happen to get in, the stage might be set to maybe go after the Grand Slam of Ultras. I would already be in 2 races (Western States and Vermont) and would talk to the Grand Slam people to get into Leadville and Wasatch Front 100 for next year. After fully understanding the difficulty of the Leadville race last year, if this situation does come to pass, I will need to seriously cut down on the weight next year. That is already one of my goals, but I seriously think I would need to trim 25-30 more pounds in order to have a serious chance at the Slam.

This is a tall order, but I've met tall orders before.

There is also space to do an Ultra Relay next year. I've talked to many runners and they seem to have interest in creating a team for next year. Again, there are options. There are the overnight relays in Ragnar Relay and the Green Mountain Relay, or there is the shorter option in the River to Sea Relay. Whatever the case, relays are just a great fun way to enjoy the fitness, so it would be great to see if we can get a team next year.

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Next Saturday will NOT be a run at Willowbrook Park at 8AM. There will however be the Fall Flat 5k Trail Race at the same site starting at 10AM. Registration is provided at the link.

There WILL be a long trail run on the following Saturday at 8AM during Thanksgiving Weekend. I would figure after stuffing your face the past couple of days you would have the guilt thing going to come on down and try to burn it off. It would also be the last long run before...

The NYARA Day of Trail Running (5k, 10k, 25k, and 50k) on December 10. Pick your distance and kick some butt! The races are held in the same area as we do our runs, at the Carousel at Willowbrook Park. Registration is provided at the link.

Also, the Staten Island Athletic Club has also created a committee (SIAC Extreme) dedicated to alternate runs and races such as triathlons, trail runs, ultras, and relays. I have been nominated to head this committee. If you are interested, let me know and you can be part of siXac.