Rugged Individualist. Certified USA Triathlon Coach & NASM Personal Trainer, Men's Self Improvement Coach. President of Go Farther Sports. National Ranked Triathlete & 100 Mile Grand Slam Ultrarunner, 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 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.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Website Revision and Track Workouts for 100 Milers

I finally revised my website at (or; it's the same site). I'm not what you call a programmer, but since I am strong in computer logic, I can get away with some programming.

And that includes putting up a website. It might be crude to some standards, but it's functional, and that is fine by me. I am a simple person after all.

There are still some things that I still have to work on with the website, but that will be completed in the next month or two.


Training for a 100 mile ultramarathon has some similarities as training for a marathon, but there are also key differences between the two.

Remember that a marathon is still "only" 26 miles as compared to a 100 mile marathon, and that speed is very much part of the equation in getting that desired goal time. This means getting out on that running track and doing long repeats and ladders.

A 100 mile race is a bit different. Although speed an be a small factor in getting a decent time, it's "staying power" that is critical here.

Think about it, 99% of the runners who start the race at a certain speed do not maintain that speed throughout the entire 100 miles. Almost all will slow down. And a lot of runners will slow down *a lot*!

The goal is to acknowledge that you *will* slow down. But it's how dramatic your pace slows throughout the race that determines whether or not you'll finish well. And that is where the training comes in.

And that is where the focus lies in an ultramarathon. I do believe that track workouts are important when training for that 100 miler, but the similarities between that and in marathon training significantly differ.

In the coming weeks, I'll be posting some unique track workouts that I will be experimenting with when training for my Rocky Raccoon 100 miler in January.

Happy trails!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Running Ridiculously Easy to Faster Race Times

As a coach, there is one thing above all others I truly do with athletes above all else. Take a guess what this might be.

Is it:

1) Make like a drill sergeant and shout and prod athletes to make them go faster?

2) Tailoring training plans for each athlete constantly to make him/her train on their time?

3) Get athletes to run slower on their easy days so that they have enough energy to perform well on their hard days.

If you chose 1, you've been watching too much TV. I know the stereotypical coach on TV shouts at unwilling athletes to get them to do his will. Fortunately, people who see me are quite willing to run fast when called upon, so this is never a problem for me.

If you chose 2, that would be true when I see athletes in the beginning. There is a lot of time involved with understand their available time, but once that is ironed out after several weeks, not much work is needed to maintain that continually.

If you chose 3, you are CORRECT!

Every single athlete that has seen me are perfectly WILLING to put that extra effort forward to help them do great in their race. In all my years I've been coaching people, there have been no exceptions to this, so I am quite fortunate.

The problem with most competitive athletes is to make sure they don't try to kick butt in training all the time. It's shutting those competitive juices down that can be tough on competitive athletes.

In a properly structured weekly training regimen, I only have my athletes go hard around 3 times per week. Sometimes it's 4 times, in case an athlete is approaching his/her big race. Sometimes, it's zero times, when an athlete has his/her normal recovery for the week.

The rest of the time, it's easy miles that fills up the rest of the week. And when I
mean easy, I mean ridiculously easy!

For the run, easy means going at least 90-120 seconds per mile pace slower than your marathon pace. If that sounds ridiculously easy, then they are running too hard.

Sometimes it's even better just to leave the watch at home and just run! There is something really liberating about running without any kind of instrument attached to you whether it's a heart rate monitor, or GPS, or even just a stopwatch. Just get out there, go ridiculously easy, and enjoy it!

A workout should be ridiculously easy enough so that they should feel energized after an easy workout, not tired.

And that is key for those 3 hard workouts on that weekly training plan. The overall strategy is to try to be 100% ready for that hard workout so that one can blast them to smithereens and get the best out of those harder workouts. If one goes too fast on their ridiculously easy workouts then can end up tired for those hard workouts that count; chances are he/she will not get the best results from those workouts.

"You want to do well in your harder workouts? Then make sure you train easy in your easy workouts"

Case in point, when I was training for the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning last year, I found that I have done around 80% of my miles at a very slow pace last year. Granted, most ultramarathons, especially 100 milers, have me running at a slow pace, so you can argue that point. But there were hard training days that were needed to give me the extra power to go up the hills of the Rockies and the Wasatch range, especially at higher altitude where oxygen was scarce.

This year I qualified for USA Triathlon Nationals at a blistering 2:10:59 at an Olympic Distance triathlon in Massachusetts. I did a bit more speedwork for this race, but was pleasantly surprised that 75% of my run-up for this race was still ridiculously easy.

"Consistency in training is one of the critical factors in performing better fitnesswise. That means training 5-6 days per week. If you want to keep training for 5-6 days per week for every week, you'll need to make sure a good percentage of those workouts are easy. Otherwise you run a high risk of getting burned out or injured in your training."

Bottom line...if you want to perform better and go faster at races, you'll need to slower in your easy recovery workouts...
"...Trust me on this."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Random Thoughts - 2015 Planning

Week 3 of my offseason has started, and I'm already starting to feel a whole lot stronger.

It just strengthens that idea that an 8 week offseason is needed every now and then. With all of these endurance events, a break is definitely needed.

During this break, the planning for the 2015 season is under way. The first definite race of the new season is the Rocky Raccoon 100 (RR100), down near Houston Texas.

It's going to be nice to get down south from the cold northeast winter and try a Texas 100 miler.

This pictures of the trails there look extremely flat. Would that make them fast? I hope so. Starting October I'll be training hard for this race and will be looking for a PR at the 100 mile distance. My current PR is 21:24:21 in Vermont.

With non-technical trails like these at RR100, I hope to PR on this course...

...that is, if I don't become a meal first!


I'm hoping the second year is the charm for getting into the most prestigious ultra in Europe, the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB). Most second year lottery entrants for this race do get in, so I'm crossing my fingers for this one. This race is run in the last weekend of August.

Even though I did survive and finish the Grand Slam in 2013, I still feel more can be improved on my hill climbing. I'll be adding a lot more strength and core training to my regimen to strengthen my body for the rigorous climbs in this race. I don't want to just survive this race, I want to do extremely well. So I'll be putting in a lot of hard work towards this end.

Start of UTMB in Chamonix, France. It's the "Tour de France" of Ultrarunning.

Leadville 100?

How did this race get back into my radar again?

Maybe it's because it was the toughest race I've ever finished?

Maybe it's because this race has definitely changed my life for the better after my first attempt in 2011 resulted in a miserable DNF?

Maybe it's because I can still probably learn a lot more about myself if I race it again?

Maybe because I know of a lot of people who might be going to Leadville next year and I want to get on that bandwagon?

Or maybe it's just because I want that huge 25 hour buckle...

Damn, that's a thing of beauty!

Well, for whatever reasons, there is a strong possibility that I will be registering for Leadville again on January 1. The only doubt that I have is that that race is just 2 weeks before UTMB.

Two hilly killer races in 2 weeks. Just shoot me now!

USA Triathlon Nationals?

On the triathlon front, I do want to try my hand in Nationals and see how I do. This past year, I've posted a 2:10 at the Massachusetts State Triathlon, so I know I still have the speed to compete at the olympic distance.

The problem is, I don't know where or when USA Triathlon Nationals will be next year. And that information is notoriously delayed until January. My racing schedule will probably already be set at that time, so I'll have to let fate tell me whether it's possible to race Nationals or not.

Other races?

Three Days at the Fair. I ran 161 miles this past year. Maybe try for 200 miles?

Running around in circles. I actually enjoyed it last year. I still don't know why...

The Bear 100. If UTMB doesn't come through, this race would be a strong possibility. It's a Hardrock 100 qualifier too; that is incentive enough.

Bear 100. What a beautiful race!

Vermont 100. Less of a chance next year, but I need two more Vermont 100 races to get a 500 mile buckle.

Vermont 100.

Hardrock 100. Very slim chance of making it, but I'll throw my name into the lottery and see what shakes out.

Hardrock freakin' 100!

NJ State Triathlon. Olympic Distance tri, it'll be nice to compete, AND BEAT triathletes in my area. If you're in my age group, I will track you down!

NJ State Triathlon

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Take Two - Why You Need 2 Months Rest Out Of Your Training

Runners and other endurance athletes can be an obsessive lot. A lot of athletes cram so many races into their already busy schedules that it seems like they are racing every week.

Those are the ones are are trying to fit in three marathons in one weekend. Yeah, you know who you are!

Just take a step back and see what you're doing to yourself. If you're like many athletes I know, you have races throughout the entire year. That's not a good thing.

One of the most important things in planning for a great racing season is that athletes NEED to build in an off-season of at least two months to their training plans. This is absolutely critical to making sure that they are performing optimally way into their distant future.

Eight weeks might seem like a lot of time, but it is really only a blip on the yearly calendar.

Think about it...planning an easy day after a hard workout is a sound idea. Planning an easy week after 3-4 weeks of intense training makes sense also...

So wouldn't it make sense that after several hard months of training and racing, a wholesale recovery is needed? Wouldn't it make sense that this recovery should take at least two months, maybe even more? Physically, the chance of injury, especially permanent injury is significantly lowered if the body is allowed to heal.

Besides, it restores a lot of balance in one's life. Sometimes one needs a couple of months to focus on other things, like family, kids, and their jobs.

Remember your wife? Yeah, that person you married before you laid eyes on your bike? It's past time you get reacquainted with her.

Honey, you still know who I am?

Plus, the mind seeks balance, whether one likes it or not. If athletes are always training for triathlons and marathons, their minds will rebel after a while, especially if they neglect the other aspects of their lives.

Aside from lowering the chances of a debilitating physical injury, an extended recovery gives that chance for the mind to recover also. After a nice extended recovery, the mind is focused, is sharp, and is ready to kick some butt for the new season.

What is extended recovery anyway?

Well, it's not a chance to become lazy with overall health...

Definitely not!!!

...but to have a chance to do other things that are fun, yet active.

Getting warmer! Mountain biking is a great off-season activity. Just make sure the tires are round before riding though.

Yoga is another thing worth looking at, as well as other physical activities other than swimming, road cycling, and running. 

Those three activities can still be included, of course, but one STRONG suggestion...please leave the watch at home.

Ask yourself this you remember a time where you just went running for the heck of it, and not worry about time, pacing, and speed? One time where you just walked out of your house with just your clothes and ran just for kicks?

(or without your clothes, if you're into that...)

If not, than you lost the real reason why you run...FOR FUN!!!

Screw the watch, don't worry about your heart rate, stop having satellites and the government track you with that GPS device. Just go out there and RUN! Take it easy and soak in your surroundings. Believe me, you'll definitely see a difference! You might actually find it fun.

You need to get in touch with the enjoyment of working out, if you want to keep it going far into the future. If you want to be like this person, who I admire for her feat...

99 Year Old Ida Keeling, Setting 100 meter sprint record this month. God bless her!

...then make sure you keep having fun with your fitness. That is what the off-season is there for. Make it so!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Can East Coasters Have Success in Leadville? Yes they Can!

The Leadville 100 course is extremely tough on everyone entered. Historically, more people have dropped out of the race than finished it. It's that hard.

Runners trudging up Hope Pass in the Leadville 100.

The high altitude, the big mountain pass, and ESPECIALLY the aggressive cutoff times (you only have 30 hours to complete it) serve to make this race one of the toughest in the world.

I saw some good friends of mine attempt the race this year. Some have finished it but a good many did not. They deserve an A+ for effort, that is for sure. 

West coast runners have a bit more success at this race because, well, most have these huge mountains there in their back yard.

That gives east coast ultrarunners a bit of a disadvantage. How can east coast runners have success in a race  when they cannot train in those conditions that the race is in?

After barely surviving this race last year and looking at what people I know do the race this year, I think I can probably put a handle on what *might* be needed to have a great race in Leadville.

First, there is the altitude problem. That is a problem for east coasters since we really don't have regions here that are at 10,000 ft. I mean, we east coasters skydive from that altitude, but that's about it.

The way to counteract that is to be in the best shape possible. A body that is at its fittest can definitely handle itself better with less oxygen. If an east coaster is looking to run Leadville, they need to understand that he or she is going to have to put in the hours of training to get into peak shape.

But peak shape alone still won't make east coast runners get to the finish line. There are also the mountains to consider.

Again, east coasters don't have huge mountains in their back yard. What I think is needed to get strong mountain legs is a power and strength regimen for the legs and core.

That means hitting the gym. Hard!

Explosive plyometric sets involving squats, jumps, leg curls, legs and back extensions are probably the best way to go about it. Running a lot of miles will help you gain the endurance, but power is also needed to get up Hope Pass. A powerful core, especially glutes and quads, will help the cause a lot better, making the climbs a lot easier on east coast runners. Crossfit might also help. I am familiar with the basics of Crossfit's high intensity programs. I haven't looked deeply into the program, but I know a couple of people who swear by Crossfit. And they have successfully finished Leadville, so there is definitely a merit there.

Squats are probably the most effective way of strengthening up the core muscles and should definitely included in the Leadville training regimen.

Last year, along with weight training and running, I also complemented my running with a lot of cycling. Cycling definitely helps the quads and glutes and did factor in nicely to my success at Leadville last year, so it's definitely worth looking at.

These are all suggestions for those considering Leadville. If you're an east coast ultrarunner and considering Leadville, don't just run a lot of miles. Chances are, you'll be very disappointed come race day. You'll need a lot of strength training; make sure you make this a critical part of your training.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Suggested Strategy for Finishing Leadville!

First of all, good luck to all those tackling Leadville this weekend!!!

It's been a long time since I posted, but I'm back again. This week, I am largely on the sidelines and ready to watch this year's Leadville 100 this weekend.

This race historically has more people that do not finish (DNF) than those who get to the finish line. Why is so hard?

Yes, it's definitely the altitude, but it's more the cutoff times that causes DNFs than anything else.

You see, 30 hours is usually the cutoff time for a not-so-hilly 100 mile race. For most mountain 100 milers, the race usually gives more hours to finish (for example, Wasatch has 36 hours for you to complete and Hardrock has 48 hours to complete).

Leadville gives runners only 30 hours. With the thin air and mountain passes to climb, that 30 hour cutoff becomes VERY aggressive.

So what is the strategy to get to the finish?

My opinion? Runners need to take advantage of the flatter sections of the course, starting at the Fish Hatchery at mile 23.

You need to take it easy on Sugarloaf Mountain from mile 11-23 so that you can take advantage of the flatter section from mile 23 to mile 39.

The problem with a lot of runners is that most do know about the aggressive cutoff times, and then run hard from the start and push hard up Sugarloaf Mountain, the first mountain climb on the course. By the time they get to Fish Hatchery, they are already gassed and mostly ripened for a DNF.

The stretch from the start to May Queen Aid Station at mile 13.5 is mostly small rolling hills. Runners should just run within themselves here, arriving at May Queen strong.

After May Queen, the runners encounter a stretch of mostly uphill single-track that emerges onto a dirt road leading up to the top of Sugar Loaf. The road will have switchbacks and is steep at some sections. Unless they're going for the top of the standings, most regular runners should just walk up the hill and save their energy for later, when the course is flatter.

This is me walking up Sugarloaf last year. Walking does a body good here, as evidenced by my smile for the camera.

Once at the top the runners will then descend down the Power Line hill towards the Fish Hatchery Aid station at mile 23. The last two miles of this stretch is slightly uphill on paved road. If done right, runners should have a lot of energy in their tank to take advantage of the course after this aid station.

Most people come in very gassed though. They take Sugarloaf very hard and wound up very tired. To be blunt, they are royally screwed.

After Fish Hatchery, the course proceeds on very flat paved road for the next 2-3 miles. Here is where ultrarunners should start to take advantage of the course. The course then winds up on a not-so-technical trail that ever goes slightly uphill through the Outward Bound Aid Station at mile 31, through the Mt. Elbert Aid Station, and then downhill towards Twin Lake.


When runners get to Twin Lakes, they should be very comfortable in relation to the cutoff time there (10 hours into the race). It's time to transform from runner to hiker.

 Water crossing after Twin Lakes on my way to Hope Pass.

Runners should take some time at Twin Lakes to get properly fueled, because they're going to need it on the climb up Hope Pass. The climb on the front side is 3000 ft., so they need to be fully hydrated and sated before setting out.

If they've done their training right, runners should be able to take a rhythmic approach up Hope Pass. If they don't have their "mountain legs", they are definitely going to struggle up this pass; there are some noted steep sections on the course. The Hope Pass Aid station near the top of Hope Pass is the first time the runners will be emerging from the tree-line. They would appreciate the llamas that are there; those are the animals that got the supplies up there in the first place! Once past the aid station, the last bit of climb is very steep. Runners should just keep moving forward as best they can and they will eventually hit the top of the Pass.

First time up Hope Pass. I'm still smiling.

Coming down the back side of the Pass can be a bit tricky as here the runners will start encountering some of the faster runners coming back up the Pass. It can get quite busy and runners will have to frequently step aside so that other runners can pass by. It can get a bit frustrating at times.

Descending Hope Pass. Runners are going back and forth here. Lots of traffic.

Winfield, the turnaround of this course, awaits 2 miles after reaching the bottom of Hope Pass. The cutoff time is 14 hours. Runners should try to get there in under 13 hours though because historically, those who arrive after 13 hours usually DON'T make it to the finish.

Runners need to take time at this aid station to eat and drink because they need to get back up and over Hope Pass! The back side of the pass is a bit steeper here, so will power is definitely needed to push those tired legs up and over the Pass for the last time.

Once up, descending can be pretty nice. If runners can get to Twin Lakes before night falls, they're in very good shape. If not, they run the risk of running into those aggressive cutoffs at later aid stations.

At Twin Lakes, the athletes must transform from hikers back to runners again and should find their running legs very quickly. After the climb from Twin Lakes to Mt. Elbert Aid station, runners again should take advantage of the flatter section of the course, running mostly from Mt. Elbert to Fish Hatchery with 23.5 miles to go.

From Fish Hatchery, there is one more major gut check... Powerline hill. Miles 80-84. A point where most runners are at their most vulnerable. Here is where mind has to rule over matter.

Powerline Hill. Looks tough in the daytime, will be tackled at night!

All runners are at various levels of pain at this point. Willpower has to take over to get up this hill. There are about 5 false summits on this hill; the ground levels off at various points only to steepen to another uphill climb, so runners shouldn't be deceived. Runners have to dig deep and tolerate a lot of pain to get up this hill. This is what separates the finishers from those who DNF.

The descent from Sugarloaf Mountain isn't very bad except for the single-track before May Queen at Mile 86.5. If the runners watch their footing though, they should make it to May Queen without incident.

At this point, there are the 13.5 miles separating the runners from the finish. This can be daunting, but runners should start getting a taste of the finish line at this point. Runners should be fueled up before taking on this stretch. Although the small rolling hills are nothing like the mountain climbs, the legs here are so tired. One needs willpower to keep moving. Once beyond the lake, the town of Leadville is finally within reach! Keep moving and eventually they will finish!

I survived. Ugh!

To those runners who make it to the finish, congratulations! You just finished one of the tougher races in the world! To those in the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, you just cleared the most difficult hurdle! Wasatch is a bit tougher but the 36 hour cutoff is heaven! All you have to do is keep moving there and you should be able to finish that race.

So good luck to all those ready to take on Leadville. I'll be rooting for you here and making sure to send you all good vibes! You have the training down. All you have to do is believe in yourself, dig deep and you will definitely make it to the finish line.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Random Thoughts - Weather, Running in Kilts, and Stretching

March 25...

Hmmm, it says Spring on my calendar, we've set the clocks forward to Daylight Savings Time, and some of us have brought the lighter clothes out anticipating the warmer weather.

Mother Nature has other ideas.

We are looking at a snowstorm this evening. We did dodge a bullet here, as this storm is supposed to hit Boston and New England with a lot of force and accumulating snow. We'll get by with hopefully just an inch or two.

That looks, um, bad.

We did get a couple of nice days up until this point, and I did venture outside with my bike a lot of times this season, but this is the time when we can get out from all of these layers, basically put on a shirt and shorts, and go outside without freezing to death.

The weather predictions did say it will be in the 60s this weekend, so maybe this is just winter's last gasp.


I'm not sure if I'm going to be comfortable running in a kilt.

I participated in the Kilt Race down in Manasquan, NJ. The folks here registered 2800 people with kilts and is applying for World Record status with the folks at Guinness. 

I went "commando"...and fortunately had no "accidents" with my kilt. If you don't know what "commando" is, use your'll get the picture. :-)

If you don't have a mind, or if you're just too lazy to think, here is the definition.

The potential for having an "accident" was there, so I made sure the kilt was down in all directions while I ran.  I finished the run around 14:30, which is about a 7:15 min/mile pace.

It was a great experience with the group from the Raritan Valley Road Runners doing this novelty race. If they have it again (I think they said there is one in the fall?), I might do it again, since I am now the (proud?) owner of a kilt.

But don't expect me to race like this all the time now. I'm better to have the "support" down there while running races. 


Stretching, stretching. I was asked about stretching recently and what my opinion was on it...

 Um, no.

I don't really have a strong opinion either way on stretching, but I tend to believe it to be a bit overrated. I know some people religiously do it before or after a running, cycling, or swimming routine, but there are many people, me included, who do just as well without stretching. There are also some studies that are emerging that static stretching actually causes or exacerbates injuries, like this one here.

Running, cycling, and swimming doesn't rely on extreme range of motion. If I was a hockey goaltender, I would definitely need to stretch big time. But I'm not, so I don't need it.

He needs to stretch regularly, because his job demands it. Fortunately for us runners and triathletes, we don't need to increase our range of motion much to do well in our respective sports.

I'm a big fan of warming up the muscles...that does not include much of stretching. There are running drills that you can do before or after a workout that do better than stretching, in my opinion. It does help you keep your muscles supple, without all the extreme range of motion issues of static stretching. Here is a link to some of the drills. These will warm up the muscles perfectly, and will give you the necessary range of motion without going too far with it. That's all we really ever need for our sport anyway.

 That's about it here. Shovels out one last time, and then we should be in the clear of winter! I'm looking forward to it. :-)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I'm signed up for Three Days at the Fair - Yes, the 72 hour race!

I am determining what to make of the 2014 season and came up with some dandies:

  1. Three Days at the Fair - all 72 hours of it.
  2. Burning River 100 - Aiming for Sub 20 hour pace.
  3. Woodstock 70.3 - Aiming for Sub 5 (or the equivalent of that on a hilly course)
  4. Massachusetts Triathlon Olympic Distance - Aiming for the Nationals in the Distance. 

Today, I'll talk about the Three Days at the Fair.

 I had my first taste of a "fixed timed" race last year in September at the Staten Island 6 Hour race. It was two weeks after the Wasatch 100 so I knew I had tired legs going into the event. But I saw so many people I know going into these races and I wanted to know how it goes in these races. So I entered into the 6 hour race, with the goal of "just running a marathon" to keep the pressure off.

I actually wound up doing around 35 miles, good for 10th place overall. I'm not sure what I felt, running all these circles, but it was altogether a much different race than the hilly 100s I did before.

I'm still not sure what to think of the experience!

So this Three Days at the Fair this is calling to me this year, and I feel, "maybe I'll try the 48 hour race". I didn't want to go for the full race as of yet because I am not experienced in running all these circles for 3 days straight. I figured 2 would be more palatable.

As time went on the thought of doing the entire 72 hours was starting to creep in on me.

Basically, the little devil on my shoulder started to convince me, "you'll get your experience during the race, you can bow out at any time, you know that. Besides, don't you want to do a 200 mile race in the near future also? This would be a good warmup for that. Bwahaha!"

So when it came time to plunk my money down for the race, I went for the whole enchilada!

God help me...

So logistics will come into play. I'll need a tent, some chairs, cushions, a whole grocery store load of things, and even some raw ingredients (there is a kitchen on premises that I can use to actually cook a meal). I "might" need a headlamp and some batteries, but the one mile course will probably be lit entirely, so I might not need it for the race. I will probably need it around my tent to find things though.

My "wild" goal for this race? 200 miles. Although I'll be willing to accept 150 miles for a more realistic goal.

So, to all those folks going to the race, I'll see you in May. Hopefully I'll be in a mood for conversation. :-)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Confirmed Schedule for Spring/Summer 2014

I think a little birdie in my ear is telling me something.

I didn't fare well with the UTMB lottery yesterday, so that makes me 0-4 in this year's lotteries.

I think I got the message...that little birdie is telling me to recoup some of that cash this year. You know...all that cash I spent traveling out west three times last year.

Races still abound though, and finally, I can lay out (and pay for) the races that I'll be doing for this year.

Here is the confirmed schedule:

4-JanWatchung Winter Marathon$25
19-JanBatona 50 Miler$0 (donation)
31-MarchIndian Trails 15kPrice TBA
16-May3 Days At The Fair (48 hours)$195
24-MayLower Hudson 100k$0 (donation)
31-MayWoodstock Triathlon Festival 70.3$180
7-JunRVRR "Train" Run 34.1 milerPrice TBA
15-JunLong Branch Triathlon #1Price TBA
14-JulLong Branch Triathlon #2Price TBA
27-JulEscaprment Trail RunPrice TBA
2-AugBurning River 100$222.54
10-AugStaten Island Triathlon (Sprint)$65
17-AugWar at The Shore TriathlonPrice TBA

Races in red are my "A" races. Races for the autumn will be done in the future.

One of the things I was so sure about was the Atlantic City 140.6, but one look at the price ($575) and I have second thoughts about it. There is a 140.6 in the Adirondacks that goes for only $300, but I'm not sure if I'll opt for that or drop that distance altogether from my race schedule.

There are some "maybes" in this schedule, including the Leatherman's Loop 10k (yet another lottery determined tomorrow), and the Caumsett 50k in March. Other weeks will be filled with hiking Harriman Park and the Presidential Range in New Hampshire, to name a few. One weekend, I also hope to be doing the rear sweep of the North Face Bear Mountain 50k race on the first week of May.

So it's going to be a busy spring. Other than that Atlantic City 140.6 (which I might take out), the prices for the entire spring are actually quite reasonable. The prices that haven't been posted are for shorter races, so I don't expect to pay much for those.

The theme here? How fast can I go in flatter races. I seriously wanted to get in a full Ironman this year to see if I can get under 11 hours again, but the price is making me think otherwise.  I will be bumping up from the Olympic Distance to the 70.3 at the Woodstock Festival. I would love to get a shot at the 20 hour mark at the Burning River 100, and I'm hoping the 48 hour race at the Three Days at the Fair would get me set up for that.

Well that's it in a nutshell.  Let's get to work.