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 27, 2013

2013 - Quite A Year!

I don't really know how to start describing this year.


For one thing, it's been transformational. I am definitely leaving this year a different person than when I began it.

It began with a limited scope largely between two running clubs. One in NJ, and one in NY. It's ending with a huge family of like minded endurance athletes, ranging from a very talented group of ultrarunners and triathletes in New York City and those in NJ.

It's also seen some down times. The tragedy that has befallen my aunt this past fall is one. But it adds to the transformation; it reinforces the belief that I should approach every day like it's my last and live it to the fullest.

There are also other down moments, but all it did was steel my will and honed my focus in setting my goals and getting them done.

Of course, I cannot describe 2013 without mentioning the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. There are so many ways to fail in that quest, but I managed to find a way to succeed in capturing the prestigious Eagle Trophy.

Receiving my Eagle Trophy at Wasatch.


The Slam was the single most transformational event in 2013. I left the Slam a completely different person than coming in. Thinking about all I had to go through just to finish the Slam:

1) The 115 degree temperatures at Western States. The race is normally very hot, but it just happened to be the second hottest in Western States history.

2) The huge blister issue at the tail end of Western States. Basically going the last 28 miles in bleeding and bandaged feet.

3) The extreme humidity of Vermont.

4) The thin air at Leadville. The huge pain tolerance I had to undergo just to reach the finish line at Leadville (and the redemption of the DNF I had there two years ago).

5) The unusual extreme humidity and the ups and downs, literally and figuratively, and the final ecstatic moments at the finish at Wasatch, where I finally realized I was actually going to make it.

6) All the voices in my head telling me to stop in every one of the races I did.

7) The numerous tiresome pushes up mountains.

8) And finally, the moment of truth ascending Hope Pass for the second time and realizing that persistence does pay when I finally got to the top.

Just one failure at all the trials listed above, and I would have failed.

Anyway, it's given me the courage to go out and do other things without fearing failure. Starting a new triathlon and endurance club is one thing. More personal issues like dating is another. They are all "leap of faith" decisions with some risk that they might fail. And if they do fail, it's not the end of the world. Failure is just a good way to realize the mistakes you did, and start over again without making those mistakes. This year has given me the self-confidence I need to act on some tough decisions, and see where they lead.

I do leave 2013 on a very high note. The friends that I've gained in the larger area that share my interests is certainly a plus. There are several people I know that have won a slot in next year's Western States and are contemplating doing the Slam. I will definitely lend them any "words of wisdom" and my experience that I had in the Slam this year. There are also a number of us who are in the UTMB lottery for Europe next year along with me. I hope that we all get in so that we can have a blast together in France. All the local triathletes I know are aiming high next year, shooting for some lofty goals (half Ironman, full Ironman, first triathlon, etc.). I will definitely lend them a hand as they work hard to achieve those goals.

2013. Transformation indeed! I will definitely never forget this year; it's been quite the journey.

On to 2014!

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