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, May 13, 2013

Random Thoughts For an Ordinary Monday

Less than 7 weeks until Western States, and the excitement is building. I look back at all these weeks of working out and now I'm starting to sense the climax of the whole thing, and the inevitable end. Do I want this thing to end?


 The Watson Memorial, at the top of Emigrant Pass in the beginning of the Western States Endurance Run. After an hour of walking up 2500 feet from the start, this is the signal to actually start running. :-)


Sensing the end or not, the one thing I want to do is cherish every day of this Grand Slam buildup. It might be the only time I'll be doing this in my life.

Of course, if given another golden opportunity, I would try the Slam again. But still, you never know...

 Western States right before the start. Can't wait for my moment here! I'll be inserting a pic of my own here of this year's start.
 .....

My first ultra this year, the Long Island Greenbelt 50k, has come and gone. Except for a few muscle cramps here and there, I'm doing fine.

Wound up doing a 2000 meter swim workout this morning. Along the way, I got cramps in both my arches of my feet. It's definitely uncomfortable, but I've learned to keep swimming with it. Muscle cramps, as painful as they can be, are fleeting. That means that the painful episode will go away after a minute or two.

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It's the middle of May, and the temps will never break 60 degrees today. What gives? This has to be the coolest spring I've ever experienced in my life! I mean, the cicadas that are due out this year don't want to emerge out of the ground!

I'll be going out on my bike today for an easy workout and I still have my winter clothes out. Not cool.

I don't usually complain about the weather, because it is ultimately futile, but it is worrisome this year. The Western States canyons can easily reach 100 degrees or more on some hot summer days and I do not want to be caught unprepared for the temps at the bottom of those canyons.

I'm usually impervious to the hot temps, but it takes two good hot weeks of training to get that way. With 7 weeks to go there isn't much time left for the heat to show up.

One of the things I've been doing is hitting the sauna after my swim workouts at the YMCA. The problem with that sauna is that it doesn't usually get about 120F in temperature, so the whole little sauna thing might be futile.

We'll see. If the worst case scenario does happen, I know I can still slog through Western States if I have to.

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I've concocted a 44 mile run this Saturday on the Appalachian Trail between the Manitou Train Station and the Appalachian Trail Train Station.



I have a 10.5 hour window to make the 44 mile journey, which amounts to a little slower than a 14 min/mile pace. I think I can do that.

Still, the long mileage can yield unpredictable results, so I am taking a bit of a risk in not making the trains. That's OK. If worse comes to worse, I will have my cell phone on me, and if I miss that last train back to Grand Central terminal, I should be able to hit a hotel in Pawling, NY for an overnight stay.

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What is with finisher's bling and the desire to finish a race? It's an interesting thing to see people, including me, go all out to finish a race just to get a perfectly ordinary finisher's metal that I've gotten plenty of times before.

I mean, the medal I earn will only be in a box collecting dust with my other finisher's medals, right?

This came up because I was talking to someone who struggled at the 25k race at the Long Island Greenbelt this weekend and all she was thinking was getting that finisher's metal.

This wasn't her first race. She was an experienced runner too, but the thought on her mind was that finisher's medal around her neck. I can certainly understand what she means.

I remember Ironman Canada 1998 and the price I had to pay to get my finisher's shirt there. My friends in my circle called that race, "The Hot Ironman". Temps literally about 100 degrees for most of the day. I got destroyed early in the race, at about 70 miles on my bike. Thankfully at around 90 miles, the course was a net downhill. Without that I probably wouldn't have made the transition to the marathon run.

I was literally seeing double at that point. Classic hyponatremia. Very bad. I barely coasted into T2 and tried to eat every salty food that was out there. After about 15 minutes in transition I started to walk out onto the run course.

I got better, but of course I ate too much. Boom, bad stomach problems. I did the run/walk thing for the first 13 miles as I battled with abdominal cramps, reached the turnaround and started my way back.

There was a massage tent at 14 miles. I couldn't resist. I went in.

After 15 minutes of deep tissue massage, they put me back out onto the course, and into the hot sun. I felt dizzy.

One rule to note here...never do a deep tissue massage during a race.

With 12 miles to go, I was ready to quit. But, nope! I had to get that finisher's shirt! I walked the rest of the way back toward the finish line. It felt like forever. I really wanted to drop out. But that finisher's shirt was on my mind!

And it got me home. It was my slowest Ironman ever, but hey, I got my finisher's shirt!

So after racing so many years, I still do understand what that struggling runner meant this weekend.

As a matter of fact, I still wore my 50k medal I got this weekend with a bit of pride to. Yes, it'll go in with the numerous other finisher's medals I got.

But I still earned it, so I'll continue to wear my finisher's medals with pride.

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Had a very vivid dream last night. It felt like someone was trying to communicate with me on a different level of consciousness.

I do believe that there are different levels of reality or consciousness that people are connected to, and strong emotions can somehow carry their way across these different levels through to other people.

Yeah, I know that some people might consider this hocus-pocus, but hey, can anyone ask me fully if they fully understand the reality we live in right now?

I mean, we got teams of scientists doing so many research projects just to try to understand our reality right now. Guess what? Even with all the data they're generating (Higgs Boson, uncertainty theory, wormholes, etc.), they STILL don't know jack about our surroundings.

And yes, I was a scientist in my heyday too. I'm sorry, but if you just rely on their data that this is the only reality that is out there, then you really have a very dim view of the world.

And I think every ultrarunner knows that we are much more capable than even scientists think humans in general can. That is why you still see them research us in 100 mile races.

Anyway, I leave you with that thought, that we are capable of so much more than we think. Remember that, focus on that, and get out there and do something amazing!



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