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#100racesin2020 – Race #1

Dirty Bird 30k
Sunday 1/5/20

French Creek State Park, Birdsboro, PA

My first race of the new decade!

My first race of the new decade and the first towards my goal of completing 100 races in 2020, was the 2019 Dirty Bird 30k. Yes you read that correctly, my first race of the year was actually a race from 2019 that happened to get rescheduled. The original date for this race was 11/30/19 which was the Saturday following Thanksgiving (hence the Dirty Bird name). However, due to a change that made that the first day of rifle deer hunting season (instead of the following Monday) here in PA, the race director made the decision to reschedule the race due to safety concerns. While I personally wouldn’t have felt to be in danger, I do understand and support the decision. Especially considering he mentioned afterwards when he went to the site on that day to make sure no one showed up for the race, he counted nearly 50 hunters that were spread out near the course! (During my first 50k race which was right in between the original date and the rescheduled date for this race, I did see about 10 hunters along that course and didn’t feel unsafe, but 50 is a whole lot more!)

The week leading up to the race…
The week before the race I didn’t really do anything different or special. I didn’t carb load, but I did try to make better nutrition choices. More whole foods, proper portions, reduce sugar/snacks, and limit the “grazing” that had been going for the few weeks prior. Being consistent with logging everything in MyFitnessPal definitely helps me be more mindful of what I’m putting into my body. It makes me think before I consume those unnecessary, empty calories which don’t do anything to help improve my health or performance. From the 1st to the 3rd my net calories were about 600-900 below my daily target. I was around 150 over the day before the race though because I didn’t want to have a deficit heading into the race.

I averaged right around 7 hours of sleep each night, with just over half of that being “deep sleep.” Overall, I was feeling pretty good; I didn’t have any aches, pains, or other noticeable issues.

This wasn’t a goal race, but it was my first race at this location and my first at the 30k distance. After reviewing the results and some Strava data of fellow runners from last year’s race I figured I would finish somewhere between 3:00 and 3:59, but I was hoping for somewhere between 3:00 and 3:15.

I had gotten my gear and fuel mostly ready to go the night before the race. My gear consisted of: my new Under Armour Charged Bandit Trail GORE-TEX shoes, my UA Storm ColdGear Reactor Pace Jacket, UA Launch SW 7” shorts, UA Truckstop Beanie 2.0, UA RUSH Leggings, UA Qualifier HexDelta Short Sleeve shirt, UA MK-1 Long Sleeve shirt, UA Run Cushion Crew Socks, Aegend Lightweight Running Gloves, Cougar Sport warmup pants, Optishokz, Nathan VaporAir Hydration Pack.

For my hydration and nutrition: I put about 36oz of water in my hydration pack; I filled up 3 various water bottles with about 16-20oz each that I would need to mix my Accelerade (for before and during the race) and Endurox R4(after the race) and put them in the fridge; I also made sure to put my Nathan Fire and Ice Flasks and handheld bottle in my cooler bag with the canisters of powder so that I wouldn’t forget them this time (I had forgotten at least 1 of them for 3 or 4 races last year); I also had a couple of partial packs of Honey Stinger organic energy chews, and 1 Honey Stinger waffle that I packed; I also made sure to bring my Hammer Nutrition daily supplements to take after the race.

In addition to all that I also made sure to pack my Body Glide, and Amp Human PR Lotion, and some chapstick.

I went to bed around 11pm and got up at 6:30. I was aiming to leave by 7:15 to get there 45 minutes before the race started. I showered, got dressed, toasted my bagel, gathered everything up, went to the bathroom one more time, and then left around 7:30. Although I was later getting on the road I didn’t stress about it. I ate my bagel during the drive (as I always do) to save time. After I was finished with that I decided I could save a little more time by putting on my PR lotion as I was driving instead of waiting until I got there. I didn’t have my leggings on yet since I wasn’t sure if I was even going to use them, and I knew I would be putting the lotion on anyways. So, I managed to get my warmup pants and shorts off and was able to put the lotion on most of the places that needed it.

Once I got to the state park where the race was being held I wasn’t sure exactly where I was going but luckily I knew it was by the swimming pool. After a few minutes of not knowing if I was heading in the right direction I started to see both the park signs for the pool and the temporary signs that the RD had placed to guide the way. By the time I parked it was just before 8:30. I had 30 minutes to pickup my bib, go to the bathroom 1 more time, get a short warmup run in, and get everything else ready. First I made sure to put on plenty of Body Glide, then I finished putting on the PR lotion in the places I didn’t get while driving, and I made sure to put a bunch of Biofreeze Professional on my left ankle and foot (since it started killing me halfway through my 50k race a couple of weeks before). Then I decided to go ahead and put the leggings on since it seemed like it was still chilly out.

As soon as I got out of the car and headed to pickup my bib I knew that was the right decision to wear them since it was very windy out! I picked up my race bib and shirt from the registration tent, and then stood in the porta-pottie line. It took about 5-10 minutes to get through the line, but as I was waiting the race director made an announcement that everyone standing in line would have the chance to go. While I normally like to start right on time I was glad to hear that there would be some extra time. After my pre-race pee I went back to the car to put my race shirt away, put my bib on my shorts, and get my hydration vest and flasks. Since it was windy out I decided to just go with my long sleeve UA shirt under my jacket.

I did my stretches quickly and then I headed back towards the starting area. Since there was still quite a line for the bathroom I had some time to get my warm-up run in. I went to start my tunes on the Spotify app on my phone, uh-oh no signal out here and I forgot to re-download my offline playlist; oh well. I got my warm-up in; about 3/4 of a mile with a couple of strides at the end. Then I headed back to the starting area and lined up towards the front. I took my pre-race pics and kept moving around in place to try and stay loose and warm. The race director started his briefing at 9:15 and we were off and running at 9:18.

View of lake and pool area near the start/finish line


As usual I started out a little too fast (around a 7:00/mi. pace), but that quickly changed once we started the first climb just before the 1 mile mark. It was a 300′ gain in less than half a mile. During that first climb I felt a little warm in the jacket, and since it didn’t seem too cold out when the wind wasn’t blowing I was planning to take it off and put it in my pack once we got to the 1st aid station. Well, I got there around 26 minutes in and it was right around mile 2.6 so I was average a 10 min pace, but it was on the downhill and I didn’t feel like stopping at that point so I kept the jacket on and continued.

Shortly after that was the next big climb; another 300′ climb but this one was over a mile and a half. I was feeling pretty good though and was able to keep a decent pace. Then came the big downhill. It was almost 400′ down over a mile, and it was a somewhat technical/rocky course. This is when I started to get frustrated. Not because of the course, since I’ve gained more confidence to lean in to the downhills and trust my footing more. The problem was it was hard for me to see! Due to the cold weather (I’m guessing?) my eyes would get very watery on the downhills. It was difficult to have confidence in my footing when I couldn’t see everything clearly.


I got to the aid station on the way back (mile 6.7/1:13) and stopped for a minute to take my jacket off. Well, as soon as I took it off I realized how much I had been sweating, I could instantly feel that my shirt was soaked. That would not have been a good idea since it was still chilly out and the wind would pick up at times. So I put the jacket back on and left it just a little unzipped at the top. That seemed to help and I felt comfortable (temperature wise) the rest of the race.

I finished the first loop in 1:33:13, which would have been a 15k PR for me by about 7 minutes. Granted, according to my Garmin it was only 8.9 miles, but the GPS is always short on these types of trails through the woods. Before started the 2nd loop I took a moment to stop and check out my shoe, because it felt like there was a pebble in it. Nope no pebble, I guess it was just the lacing and how the tongue was positioned. I retied it, probably a little tighter than I should’ve but it was good enough and I headed out.

I was still feeling okay but definitely was slowing down. I was mostly by myself for the first couple of miles, but would occasionally get passed. No big deal, I was just enjoying being out in the woods. Somewhere on that first climb though the front of my left hip starting bothering me as well as my right glute and adductors. I also felt slightly constricted by the leggings, so that might have played a little role in the pains I was having, but ultimately I know those are areas of my body that I need to strengthen and condition better.

I had been taking sips of water or Accelerade when I felt I needed to, and would have a energy chew about every 45 minutes or so. But, around mile 13 I was feeling a dip in energy so I had my waffle, which helped a little. The next 5 miles were mostly a combination of hiking the uphills, cursing at my watery eyes on the downhills, and shuffling on the remaining parts. I got tripped up a couple of times during the race but thankfully I never fell.

I crossed the finish line at 3:33:00 so it took me 2 hours on the 2nd loop. I finished 33rd overall and won the Top Open Clydesdale award (although 2 Master Clydes did finish ahead of me). Overall not a bad race or finish since it was within the timeframe I expected. Yes, it would have been nice to finish on the first page of the results, and it would’ve felt better without the hip/glute/adductor issues. I’m sure I could have dug a little deeper and pushed a little harder, but no need for that on this one.

Race Review
Ratings based on the following scale:
1- Poor
2- Below Average
3- Average
4- Above Average
5- Excellent

Course- some long climbs, some muddy sections, some rocky/technical sections but still runnable
Scenery: 4
Difficulty: 4
Course Markings: 4
Volunteers/Marshals: 5
Aid stations: 3
(# of aid stations on course: 1 at miles ~ 2.6, 6.6, 11.6, 15.4; plus one at start/finish miles 9, 18)

Race-
Organization: 5
Post race food: 4 (cookies, twizzlers, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, etc.)
Comradarie/Community: 4
Parking: 5
Pre-race communications: 4
Results: 5
Location: 5
Start time: 4 (courtesy was appreciated for this one)
Awards timing: 5

Swag-
Shirt: 3 (long sleeve cotton tee)
Finisher Medal: N/A
Awards: 5 (trophy)


1 race down, 99 to go!
Next race: Saturday 1/11; (Scranton Running Co.) Shiver by the River 10k; Scranton, PA

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Eastern States 100

Eastern States 100

“A rocky death by a thousand cuts in the heart of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.”

That is the tagline used for the race in the Participant Guide.

My summary of it is “A challenging and unforgettable journey through the remote PA Wilds, where you will experience glorious highs and soul-crushing lows.”

More on that in a moment.

First, I want to give a huge shout-out and thank you to each and every person, company, or organization, that was in anyway involved with this race. The massive amount of time, people, and resources that go into the planning, supporting, providing, and coordinating, that it takes to not just pull this race off but to do so at the highest level possible is incredible. So, thank you race directors, board members, volunteers, sponsors, parks and forests staff, EMS, spectators, crews, pacers, and fellow runners. You all are rockstars!

Now with that being said, here’s some of my random reflections over the past couple of days, and a race recap.

First, I want to apologize to each of you. I’m sorry that I failed, and I feel that I let each of you down. I dropped out when I got to Aid Station 10- Slate Run, 64 miles into the race. Sure, 64 miles is far, and 22 hours is a long time to be on your feet. But I stopped, I quit, I FAILED. I’m ashamed to admit that, and I’ve been trying to wrap my head around how I let that happen. I’m not ashamed that I failed, I’m ashamed that I gave up. This wasn’t just a race; this was one of my huge goals. To finish Eastern States as my first 100 miler was a dream. I was so excited to get the chance to make it happen, and I was determined to do so. Well, at least for the first 57 miles.

During those first 57 miles I was grateful to be out there running and hiking. I was enjoying the whole experience and envisioning myself sprinting (or what version I had left of a sprint at that point) across the finish line. I was reminding myself whatever discomfort I was feeling at times was only temporary. I would acknowledge the discomfort, remind myself that crossing the finish line would be worth it, and promise whatever was hurting that it would be tended to immediately after crossing that finish line.

It wasn’t extremely warm out, the temps were in the 70s up to low 80s. But there was 100% humidity when we started the race at 5am, so I was drenched in sweat shortly thereafter. Still not really a big deal. But between the sweat, the humidity, and the moisture along the trail. My socks/shoes/feet were quickly soaked and no doubt my feet were getting super wrinkly despite having slathered Desitin on them before the race started. Eh, whatever. Not ideal conditions, but not a major issue that will keep me from going on. Based on past races, (especially Laurel Highlands 70 miler) my feet might be sore for a couple days after but no blisters.

It was dark for about the first hour of the race. But I had my headlamp, and I had run on this section of trail a couple times before, so I had an idea of what to expect. It was a fairly technical/rocky trail with some narrow and slick sections with a drop-off on the right side that went down towards Little Pine Creek. My legs and mind were sharp, and I was able to get through that well enough. Then came the first climb- over 1000 ft gain in a mile: with some sections at a 40% grade. No problem, I love the climbs; and there’s usually a nice view once you get to the top. And it was getting light out by the time we got to the top, so that was a plus. I got to AS1 (water stop only)/Ramsey Road/Mile 5.8 at 6:33, only 13 minutes behind my estimate of 6:20. Then we started the first descent, followed immediately by another climb. At the top of this climb there was a short side trail off the course that goes out to a nice view. I decided to go ahead and take the extra couple of minutes to check it out and soak it in, and I’m glad I did.

Kline’s View Vista

Then it was back down the mountain via some switchbacks. I got to AS2/Ramsey Village/Mile 11.3 at 8:06. I refilled my water bottles and chowed down on some grub. Mini cinnamon roll, and what would become my standard choices for the rest of the race (bacon, potatoes, pierogies, pickles, watermelon and oranges). We then ran on a short section of the Pine Creek Rail Trail as we crossed the Ramsey Bridge, before making a right turn onto the Tiadaghton Trail and starting our climb again towards the sky. Then of course when we got to the top it was time to go right back down. I think it was somewhere in this section that my feet were getting a bit irritated, and it felt like I had some sort of hot spot or blister issue on the bottom of my right big toe. I made it to AS3/Lower Pine Bottom/Mile 17.8. And just then there was some light rain that lasted for a few minutes. I refueled, and then sat down for a moment to take my shoes off, check out my feet and readjust my socks. I was back out on the trail by 10:10.

Vista on the climb up out of Ramsey

Of course since we were now in the valley, that meant it was time to climb again. We started with a gradual climb about 1 mile up the gravel Lower Pine Bottom Road before making a right turn onto Wolf Path and another steep mile climb. Another run down, hike up, and run down again brought us to AS4/Browns Run/Mile 25.8. My feet were still hurting a bit, but my mind was strong and spirit was high. Seeing Michael, April, Mike and Rusty (the coolest trail dog ever!) and other friends also gave me a boost.  I believe I had my hydration bladder refilled here, and I made sure to eat plenty of the great food to get in some calories. I was back on the trail by 12:30pm.

From here it was a gradual, but long 6-mile climb to get to the next aid station. I don’t remember a whole lot about this section but I’m pretty sure this is when I finally decided to put some tunes on. This helped the time go by and it didn’t seem too long until I got to AS5/Happy Dutchman/Mile 31.6. Yay! A 50k of what is often mentioned as the most difficult section of the course is done! I refueled (that banana and Nutella wrap was awesome!) and topped off my fluids and then I was headed out by 2:35pm.

The next section of the course was really nice and definitely the most runnable of the entire course. There were some minor rolling hills, but it was wide snowmobile trails. I managed a few 10-minute miles in this section while running with Kyle! I believe this might have been the section that had some crazy muddy parts towards the end of it. And this was also the section that had the Fuzzy Friends Club. (A bunch of stuffed animals along the course to cheer us on lol 😊) It was again right around 2 hours until I made it to the next aid station- AS6/Ritchie Road/Mile 38.5. I again made sure to eat and drink plenty, did a little conversing, and then was out by 4:29pm.

Then there was about a 2-mile section of dirt road next to the powerlines. It was fairly level and runnable for sure, but it was also one of the few exposed sections with no tree canopy for shade, and during the hottest part of the day. Kept a relaxed pace as there was still plenty of miles left to cover. Once we turned back into the woods it was downhill to Hyner Run State Park. I still mostly kept a relaxed pace except for the last mile or 2 into the park. I felt strong and rolled into AS7/Hyner Run/Mile 43.2 at a good pace. Upon arriving I saw my friend Ryan who was waiting for his runner that he was going to pace for. Ryan immediately helped me by getting my drop bag, and some food for me, and even helped me get my fresh pair of socks on. He also encouraged me and gave me some tips. It totally boosted my mood even more and I was confident and determined to finish. I left AS7 at 6:02pm. I was hoping to reach the next aid station before it got dark out, but I put my headlamp around my head just in case.

Out of Hyner Run it was another 2 mile climb up the mountain. Once we got to the top it leveled out a little bit. Well, except for a few shorter but crazy steep and slippery drops that were immediately followed by equally shorter but steep climbs. This was also the section where we ran through the “bigfoot pens” (a fenced-in area with steel man gates that we lifted to climb through to get in/out).  Thankfully I made it through those parts before it got dark, but I didn’t quite get to the next aid station before it did.

AS8/Dry Run/Mile 51.2- I was happy to see Sophorn here and to see Steve and Keith again as well. They gave me a much-needed boost, as I must have been getting tired at this point. I left there at 9:07pm, but only managed a few steps before I realized I left my poles there. I walked back and I saw two pairs on the one chair, so I was trying to figure out which ones were mine. Turns out neither of those were, mine were a few chairs down. Oh boy, this is going to be an interesting night, lol. I headed into the darkness and tried to catch back up with Keith, but he was moving pretty good, and I was happy to see that.

I don’t remember a lot about the section between AS8 and AS9. It was dark out, but I don’t remember any tricky or really technical sections here. I just power-hiked and kept moving forward. My feet were still hurting but didn’t seem to be getting any worse. I was still determined to finish. Just keep my head in the game and keep moving forward. I made it to AS9/Big Trail/Mile 56.6 feeling how most people would after 18 hours on their feet; a bit tired and with some discomfort. I took my time to refuel, rehydrate, get some caffeine in me, and sat down to rest my feet for a couple of minutes. One of the ladies that I had been running near for a while was also sitting and was not feeling well, but her pacer was helping to lift her spirits back up again. I set out again at 11:23pm. I had almost 4 hours (by 3:15am) to make it 7.3 miles to the next aid station. I had a complete wardrobe change in my drop bag waiting for me there. Fresh socks, shoes, shirt, shorts, and hat. I just had to stay focused and keep moving forward. I got this.

When I first started walking away from the aid station all the sudden I felt a bit cold. I thought, “oh no- this might not be good.” Thankfully once I started moving quicker I warmed back up and felt fine. Within a few minutes after I left the aid station the ladies caught up to and passed me and were moving good again. I tried to keep them in sight but things started to go downhill, figuratively and literally. It was about a 1000 ft descent over the next 1.5 miles. It was now past my usual bedtime and the little bit of caffeine I got hadn’t made much impact yet. This was also where there were several blowdowns across the trail. Which seems to be common in this area according to the official course description:

“Mile 55.8 – 63.1 Turn left on the road then right and descend Callahan Run. Partly very steep, partly rocky, partly a delight to run. At the forks where the three branches of Callahan Run meet, cross the stream on your left and head back up a new hollow, increasingly steep, mostly rocky, and partly way up on a narrow side hill to avoid blowdowns from a tornado that struck in May 2011. At the top, it’s a mostly rolling (with a couple very short steep pitches) run along the ridge top to the Hemlock Mountain Vista. If you ran fast enough to get there before dark that is. From there it is all downhill. Steeply at times, fun switchbacks at others. You will come out on an old logging road to take you gently downhill along Naval Run. Black Forest Trail will veer off to the left, but you go straight on Naval Run Trail to the next stream crossing, then out to Naval Run Road where you will run a nearly level mile on drivable gravel road along Pine Creek. Proceed to the bridge and make a right over Pine Creek and to the aid station on the other shore.

It was somewhere in this section that the cracks in my mental strength were forming and eventually broke me. I think it started with all the blowdowns. There was one section where I didn’t see the marked detour around a large fallen tree until after I had already managed to climb my way over it. So, then I climbed my way back over it to get back on the marked section. It was a bit muddy and slick in several spots and I almost fell a couple of times. Then came the hollows. I was proceeding cautiously up the steep, narrow, and banked trail so that I wouldn’t fall down the rocky slope towards the stream below. The climbing was okay other than trying not to fall down the hollows and navigating through/around the blowdowns. But on that downhill that was very steep (one small section was a -49.5% grade according to Strava) and slick and rocky, I started to unravel. I went very cautiously so I wouldn’t slip and fall, and because at this point my feet felt like they were in very bad shape. Having to plant them securely on the downs made it feel like the soles were completely raw and just getting shredded more with each step. Plus, my headlamp seemed like it was starting to get dim. I had an extra battery in my pack but didn’t want to have to change it while on this steep and narrow trail. I did have a hand torch in the side pocket of my vest though, so I was able to get that out okay just in case I needed it.

Somehow during all these distractions, I completely forgot about everything else that was important. I forgot about running (or more like slowly walking at this point) for those that can’t. I forgot about being thankful for the opportunity. I forgot about all the work I had put in to get this far. I forgot about #comfortisalie, #doepicshit, #keepshowingup, #keepmovingforward, #trusttheprocess, #determination, #goals, #dreambig. I forgot about my vision of sprinting across the finish line.

I FORGOT ABOUT MY DREAM!

HOW THE FUCK DOES THAT HAPPEN??

I knew and fully believed that I am capable of finishing this race. (And I still do).

My mentality going into this race was “Death before DNF.” Whatever it takes. Keep going until you cross the finish line, or they have to pull you off the course.

Even when I left AS9 I knew I had plenty of time to make it, just keep moving forward. I even told myself to stay strong mentally and just make it to the next aid station. If you make it before the cutoff you’re good. Don’t take yourself out of it.

What do I end up doing?

I checked out. I FUCKING QUIT!

Why? Because my feet hurt and were swollen, my knees were getting tight, I was tired, and I was afraid of falling?

THAT’S ALL SOME WEAK-ASS BULLSHIT EXCUSES!!

If I fell I just had to get up, brush off and keep going. I could sleep after I finished the damn thing. And my body would probably heal and recover within a few days.

I guess the saying should be “If you don’t fall for something, then you won’t stand for anything.”

Once I made that lame-ass decision to stop at Slate Run I slowed down even more and took my sweet time getting there. I walked the sorry fraction of the man I used to be across that bridge and checked in at 3:09am. I still had 6 minutes to get out of there and head to the next aid station. I walked around aimlessly for a couple of minutes checking out the food, and the medical tent, seeing if there was anyone around that I knew that could somehow magically restore my broken spirit.

What was I doing? Why was I looking for some kind of help?

I could have helped myself. I could have grabbed my drop bag, quickly changed, topped off my fluids, grabbed some food to eat on the go and check-out by 3:15am. Would it have been difficult? Yes, but certainly not impossible. But I didn’t even try. It’s like I had entered the twilight zone or something in those previous 7 miles. This seemed like an alternate reality.

Then at 3:14am I walked over and told them I was dropping out. I had to remove my bib and turn it in.

That’s when reality hit, and it hit like a fucking freight train. It fucking sucked! I immediately started to get emotional, and I tried to hold it together as I made it back over to see whatever food was left while waiting for a volunteer to give me a ride back to the start.

It was only about a 5-minute wait until one of the volunteers (unfortunately I’m drawing a blank on his name) was able to provide a ride. There were 2 other runners that were getting a ride back also; a guy and a girl (unfortunately I didn’t get their names either). We all had a nice conversation which made the almost hour-long ride seem to go by quicker. Once I got back to my vehicle I wiped myself down, changed my clothes, and then slept in the back on the folded down seats for about 3 hours.

I missed the top few runners coming in but wanted to hang out until the last runner came through. But I needed to get cleaned up first. I made the 40-minute drive back to my hotel in WIllamsport. I got showered and changed, then headed out for breakfast at a local diner. I felt refreshed so I headed back to the finish at Little Pine State Park. I collected my drop bags that had made it back so far, and just hung out and talked with some fellow runners who hadn’t finished. We all cheered as each finisher came down the home stretch and across the finish line. It was a fun and festive atmosphere. It was great seeing Kyle, Andrei, Keith, and all the other finishers crossing that line and getting their well-earned buckle and finisher jacket.

I was disappointed with myself on Sunday, but I was still kind of in the moment seeing the other finishers. That drive home Sunday night wasn’t great. Monday was awful. I was very disappointed and depressed, and I didn’t want to be back to reality. Before and during the race I was expecting to be a changed and better version of myself after crossing the finish line. I thought I was born for this, the stars were aligned, and I was going to fulfill my destiny. But since that didn’t happen, I ended up feeling like a lesser version of who I was. I felt empty inside. My soul vanished into the darkness the moment I turned that bib in. Here it is three days later and I still feel the anguish just thinking about, and I probably will for quite some time. And perhaps therein lies the good that came out of this. I will NEVER FORGET that moment. This one will sting for quite a while; well at least until Sunday 8/14/22 around 4:30pm.

Now that I’ve gotten all that out it’s time to quit stewing in the dumps. It’s time get back to putting in the work and making things happen. I’m 81 days out from Rim to River 100 which will be a nice boost, and 360 days until my 2nd date with destiny. I damn well guarantee I will be taking my soul back and getting that buckle and jacket.

LET’S FUCKING GO!!

#SEEYOUATSTATES

Aid Station Splits: Pre-race estimates vs. Actuals

Aid StationSect. Dist.Total Dist.Cutoff TimeEst. TimeActual Time
AS1- Ramsey Rd5.85.87:00am6:20am6:33am
AS2- Ramsey5.511.39:00am7:40am8:06am
AS3- Lower Pine Btm.6.517.811:30am9:30am10:10am
AS4- Browns Run8.025.82:00pm12:00pm12:30pm
AS5- Happy Dutchman5.831.64:30pm2:30pm2:35pm
AS6- Ritchie Rd6.938.56:30pm4:30pm4:29pm
AS7- Hyner Run4.743.28:15pm6:30pm6:02pm
AS8- Dry Run8.051.211:00pm9:00pm9:07pm
AS9- Big Trail5.456.612:45am11:00pm11:23pm
AS10- Slate Run7.363.93:15am1:30am3:09am
AS11- Algerine5.469.35:30am3:30amDNF
AS12- Long Branch6.575.87:30am5:30amDNF
AS13- Blackwell4.780.59:15am7:30amDNF
AS14- Sky Top4.585.010:45am9:00amDNF
AS15- Barrens8.193.11:30pm12:00pmDNF
AS16- Hackett6.299.33:45pm2:00pmDNF
Finish3.8103.15:00pm3:35pmDNF

Strava Stats

Garmin Stats

Whoop Stats

Next year’s image will include the bib, buckle, and jacket

Where has the time gone?

Disclaimer: non-running post

Wow! It is now August 31st, 2020. Where has the time gone? The month, the year, the decade, the last quarter century?

At the end of the month I try to reflect on what happened during the past month, and what my plans and goals are for the next month. As this month comes to a close I find myself reflecting on much more than the past 31 days. I think it’s safe to say this year has been crazy for all of us. This is 2020; This was supposed to be our year to crush our goals and make our dreams come true!! Well apparently that crazy bitch ‘Rona found out, got jealous, and decided to fuck shit up for all of us! Like who wrote this script? This is worse than Sharknado. (Guess I shouldn’t say that…because well it’s still 2020 so don’t rule anything out). Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and make different (i.e. better) choices in my earlier life. I also wonder how far back in time others would go, if they could. I think given the way this year has been most of us would go back to at least 2019 (or maybe ahead to whenever all of this is behind us).

For me personally, with everything that is going on in my life now and what has happened up to this point, sometimes I think I would probably go back to high school. I’d be more social and outgoing, and be more focused on my school work, so that I could have a more “normal” life. One that didn’t have so many hardships, one where I didn’t sacrifice my dreams and aspirations by settling for mediocrity and complacency.

But then I remember two of my core beliefs:
Everything happens for a reason, whether we realize it at the time or not; and If you believe then good things will happen.
Of course sometimes the reason things happen is because you royally fuck-up and make a huge mistake (or 10, lol). And the key component to believing good things will happen, is actually doing everything you possibly can to MAKE IT HAPPEN!!

So as I continued to deeply reflect on my life to this point, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I also came to the realization that I have 2 choices. I can continue to relive my regrets and stay on this unfulfilling “default lifestyle” path of complacency, where the only thing that grows is resentment and anguish. Or, I can stop and accept where I’m at right now and appreciate the lessons I have learned on the path so far; but then venture out into the unknown and blaze my own trail. I’ve decided it’s time to choose the latter.

I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t know how the next chapter ends; but I’m ready to start writing a new one now! This past year has been one of the most challenging years for many people, and there are still many challenges ahead; but we will rise and conquer them, that’s what we do!!

Also, this song started playing (perhaps coincidentally) as I was writing this post, so I figured I would share the link and a couple lyrics here:
I’ve lost a lot, and learned a lot
Time is money
Only difference is I own it…let’s stop time and enjoy this moment

February Recap

Although February is the shortest month of the year I still managed to record my highest mileage and elevation totals so far! 178 miles and over 20,000 ft. of elevation, even with 9 days of no running!!

This was a great month with some awesome races! My favorite, most challenging, unique, and most elevation gain race so far was definitely The Frozen Snot. I also ran a new long distance at the Naked Bavarian 40 mile race on leap day, which was a great way to finish the month strong!

#100racesin2020 – Race #7

Lehigh Valley Road Runners
Superbowl Tailgate Trot 10k
Sunday 2/2/20

Lehigh Parkway, Allentown, PA

A local 10k!

My seventh race of the year was my third 10k of 2020, and the first one that I didn’t have to drive an hour to get to! This is an annual event that is hosted by our local running club, the Lehigh Valley Road Runners (LVRR).

I have done this race twice before, in 2017 and 2018, so I knew the course well. I wanted to improve upon my results from 2018 so my 3 goals for this one were:
-Finish under 45:00
-Finish in the top 57
-Top 10 in Age Group

The week leading up to the race…
Since this was a double race weekend this was the same as it was for race # 6, but here’s the update

Saturday- 6:58 of sleep, trail 21k race, 4121 calories (= 204 under net goal)


I did not prep my gear the night before like I usually do, but I had an idea of what I was going to wear. The forecast was calling for temps in the 30s, so I knew shorts and a long sleeve shirt would be okay for me. Here’s what I went with:

Reebok FloatRide RS shoes, teal UA Launch SW 7″ shorts, teal UA MK-1 Long Sleeve shirt, UA Run Cushion Crew Socks, Aegend Lightweight Running Gloves, and of course my Optishokz, and Garmin Forerunner 235. For my warmup- UA Storm ColdGear Reactor Pace Jacket and Cougar Sport warmup pants.



No special nutrition needs for this one.

I went to bed around 11:30pm and woke up at 6:45am. I had a headache when I woke up so I took an Aleve and then got in the shower hoping that would help. I had a bowl of cereal for breakfast and then I got everything gathered up. I left sometime around 8 and got there around 8:30.

I was surprised to see how many cars were already there when I got there, but there was plenty of parking and volunteers directing traffic. I still had my headache so I took an ibuprofen and then headed towards the clubhouse. I did my usual pre-race pee in the porta-potty and then went over to registration. They use tablets to check in the pre-registered runners and then enter the bib number as they hand it out. I also got my race shirt and then headed back to the car to drop it off and get my bib on. I drank a little bit of Accelerade and then did my stretches before starting my warm-up run. Shortly after starting my warm-up my headache went away, or I just didn’t feel it anymore because I was focused on my running. I got in a little over a mile, with some strides at the end.



I made my way to the starting line and found a spot towards the front of the pack of 500+ runners. Since this is a local race for me I saw quite a few people that I knew, and I also got to meet some of my IG running friends too! A few pre-race announcements were made and then the national anthem was played. We were off and running at 9:33 am.

The first mile was on the tree-lined road headed out of the parkway. The scenery here is nice and the road is close to the Little Lehigh Creek. There is a slight incline as you run out of the park and then we make a left turn around the corner and continue up another small hill. I was feeling pretty good and my first mile pace was 7:08 (6:42 GAP). We then headed back down the hill and made another left turn before crossing a bridge over the creek. Then we made our way up another small hill and continued through the neighborhood. My mile 2 split was again 7:08 (6:56 GAP). I passed the water stop and was still feeling ok but could tell I was starting to slow down a little.



Around mile 2.5 I heard one of the volunteers call my name, which is always a nice little boost (at least mentally if not reflected physically too). My split for mile 3 was 7:21 (7:09 GAP). Somewhere around mile 3.7 I took the one Honey Stinger energy chew I had brought with me. I was slowly chewing away at it but then I ended up spitting the rest out just after I passed the water station again.

Mile 4 was mostly flat and my pace was about the same, 7:20 split (7:18 GAP). Then for mile 5 I started back down the hill out of the neighborhood. Someone passed me on the downhill which is unusual for me because I’m usually passing others on the downhills; oh well. I crossed over the creek again and headed back up the other small hill; my split was again 7:20 (7:04 GAP). Then I was able to pick up the pace as I started down that last hill, then I turned the corner back into the park and was feeling good on the final stretch. Mile 6 was 7:05 (but 7:09 GAP), then the last quarter mile was a 6:14 pace. As the finish clock came into view I was thrilled to see it was under 45:00; and I crossed the finish line at 44:27 for a new road 10k PR!

After I finished the race I did my cool down jog and took my mug/tumbler and gloves back to the car and then continued for the rest of my mile. I then had my Endurox R4 before heading back to the clubhouse to grab some post-race grub. There was a lot of Little Caesar’s pizza, some cookies, and a few other things. I grabbed 2 slices of pizza and a cookie before heading back home.




Overall this was a fun event and I was ecstatic that I was able to get a new PR considering it felt like I was running slower than that, and especially after a trail half marathon the day before. Even though I felt like I could have pushed harder I was happy to see some pretty consistent splits and I loved that my last mile was my fastest. And it’s always great to see some familiar faces!



5 Previous 10k races:
1/12/20- Pagoda Pacers Shiver by the River 10k- 46:22
1/11/20- Scranton Running Co. Shiver by the River 10k- 45:08
12/8/19- Pagoda Pacers Shiver by the River 10k- 45:08
10/19/19- Runners World 10k- 47:30
9/2/19- Saucon Rail Trail 10k- 50:47

Race Review
Ratings based on the following scale:
1- Minimal
2- Below Average
3- Average
4- Above Average
5- Excellent

Course- out and back, all on paved roads, starts and ends in the parkway; a few rolling hills, through a residential neighborhood
Scenery: 3
Difficulty: 3
Course Markings: 5
Volunteers/Marshals: 5
Aid stations: 5
(1 aid stations on course, pass twice- around mile 2.1/3.9 )

Race-
Organization: 5
Post race food: 4
Comradarie/Community: 5
Parking: 5
Pre-race communications: 5
Results: 2 (no on-site results; posted online after 48 hours)
Location: 4
Start time: 5
Awards timing: Not sure

Swag-
Shirt: 4 (long sleeve tech shirt)
Finisher Medal: 4 (was a stainelss steel mug/tumbler and a pair of gloves)
Awards: not sure


7 races down, 93 to go!
Next race: Saturday 2/8; Scranton Running Co. Shiver by the River 10k, Scranton, PA

Stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

#100racesin2020 – Race #6

NJ Trail Series
Fall/Winter Race # 5 – 13.1 Mile
Saturday 2/1/20

Lewis Morris Park
Morris Township, NJ

My first race in New Jersey!

My sixth race of the year was my first

Since I had not run this race before I did my usual research and checked out past results and some Strava data. It looked like a fairly fast course (for a trail run), but still with some challenging sections. I decided my 3 goals for this one would be:
-Finish under 2:15:00
-Finish in the top 20
-Finish in the top 7 of my age group (30-39)

The week leading up to the race…
I took Monday as a rest day, then got just over 4 miles in on both Tuesday and Wednesday. I took another rest day on Thursday and then 4.5 miles on Friday. I felt a little more tired than usual this week, but otherwise it was a fairly uneventful week. My nutrition was still all over the place, but it is what it is for now.

Monday- 7:50 of sleep, rest day, 2919 calories (= 507 over net goal)
Tuesday- 7:14 sleep, 4.07 mile run, 3070 calories (324 over)
Wednesday- 7:09 sleep, 4.08 miles, 2491 calories (158 under)
Thursday- 7:27 sleep, rest day, 3020 calories (775 over)
Friday- 7:00 sleep, 4.5 miles, 3199 calories (489 over)


I prepped my gear the night before, as usual. The forecast was calling for temps in the 30s, and warming up into the 40s. I again didn’t want to be too warm and wanted to have freedom of movement on the trails so I again opted for no leggings for this one. Here’s what I went with:

Under Armour Horizon RTT trail shoes, blue UA Launch 2-in-1 shorts, blue UA HeatGear short sleeve shirt, blue/green Pro Compression socks, Aegend Lightweight Running Gloves, and of course my Optishokz, and Garmin Forerunner 235. (I also wore my Cougar Sport warmup pants and UA Storm ColdGear Reactor Pace jacket for my warmup run).

After I got everything ready I started to wind down for the night and went to bed around 11pm.

I woke up at 6am, and I was feeling good. I got in the shower, got dressed, and then grabbed a pb&j uncrustable and toasted half an english muffin to eat on the drive. I got everything gathered up, and was out the door and on the road by 7:15.

I got to Lewis Morris park around 8:50 and I wasn’t quite sure where in the park to go. So I pulled into a parking lot and checked the website again to see where to go. I also had to go to the bathroom and luckily there was a porta-pottie in this lot. I then made the short drive to the parking lot near the lake. There was plenty of parking here but there were no signs on where registration was. There was a building next to the lake (which was currently drained and was just a big mud hole) and close to the parking lot, so I thought maybe it was in there, but nope. Thankfully I saw a few other runners head in the opposite direction to a pavilion that was about a quarter mile away. I told the person at registration my name and I was handed an ankle bracelet/timing chip, and was given the option to pick my swag. The options consisted of a coffee mug, and I believe the other options were gloves, a buff, or winter knit hat. I went with the mug since I didn’t have a race coffee mug yet. I understand the environmentally conscious reason to use the reusable chip bracelets instead of bibs, but as someone who collects and proudly displays their race bibs I was a little disappointed not to get one. Oh well. I headed back to the car to get ready. I put on my Body Glide, and then I mixed my Accelerade and filled my handheld bottle with it. I then made my way to the porta-pottie for a final pre-race pee. OMG, there is only 1 porta-pottie here and there are about 10 people in front of me, and there’s less than 20 minutes until the start time, and I still had to do my warmup run!! Not cool!! I finally got to go and had about 8 minutes left to get in a warmup run, so I got in a little under half a mile, before lining up at the start line.



I lined up towards the front and in the middle. The countdown began and we started off promptly at 9am.

The first quarter mile was a mostly flat, gravel road and I was running at my 5k pace, which is around 7:00/mile. The course then transitioned to single track trail as we made our way up the first short hill, which was about 150′ gain in half a mile. From there I settled more into my trail pace and finished the first mile in 9:03, but my GAP (Grade Adjusted Pace) was 8:06.

To start mile 2 we continued to climb about another 125′ in the next half mile. Then it was about a 100′ descent to finish mile 2. My split pace was 9:42 (8:50 GAP).

Mile 3 started with another short climb, then we turned the corner and went back down. We crossed a wooden footbridge over a small creek and then made our way up towards a parking lot and followed a gravel road for about a half mile. I was beginning to wonder if I had missed a turn back onto a trail but then I saw a marker and knew I hadn’t. I think it was just that I was starting to dislike road sections and I didn’t want to be on it any longer than necessary. Even though it’s usually a chance to open it up and pick up the pace without having to worry about big rocks and roots, I’ve come to enjoy the uneven and challenging terrain. And also it may be because running faster on flatter surfaces seems to cause a little more pain with the hip/glute and ankle issues I have been having. Anyways, we continued up on the gravel road for the first quarter mile of mile 4, and then after turning the corner we finally got back on the trail, yay!



It was rolling hills for the rest of the mile, and I was feeling good. Mile 5 was mostly downhill. I’m not sure what happened here though because after reviewing my Strava data this was my 3rd slowest mile on the first loop, 9:04 split (9:07 GAP).

The first half of mile 6 was mostly flat, and I believe this was another section of gravel/dirt road but there were some very muddy sections too. Then we got back onto the trail and I picked up the pace as we continued 125′ downhill towards the finish line. That was my fastest mile split (8:41) of the race and I finished the first loop in 54:57. I was definitely on track to reach my goal of finishing under 2:15:00, however the course came up short of even the 10k loop they were using, as it was right at 6.0 miles according to my Garmin.


The second loop started out the way they usually do for me; I’m mostly by myself and I’ve slowed down since the first loop. My split for mile 7 was 10:07 (GAP 9:01), so a minute slower than the first lap. I stayed somewhat near that pace for the rest of the run, but did drop down to 10:30 for mile 11; again I don’t know what happened there since that mile was all downhill. I did finish strong for the last mile (of the race anyways) and my split for mile 12 was 8:53.

I crossed the finish line at 1:55:27, accomplishing my goal of finishing under 2:15:00. But I wasn’t done. I was not stopping at 12 miles for what should’ve been a 13.1 mile race; I wanted to complete the Strava Half Marathon challenge on the first day of the month! I ran through the finish line and then did a cool down run on the path around the dry lake and then back around towards the finish line. I ended up with 13.14 miles in a time of 2:06:41. I still beat my time goal and I finished 13th overall and 6th in my age group, accomplishing all 3 of my goals for this race!


At the pavilion at the finish area there were a lot of snacks and refreshments: water, Gatorade, Nuun tablets, mini brownies, muffins, and cinnamon rolls; several different granola bars, pop tarts, rice krispy treats, oranges, chips and candy. I grabbed a few things and then jogged back to the car. I drank my Endurox R4, changed my shoes and clothes and then started on my way back home.

Overall this was a fun event and I enjoyed running in a new place. A few areas for improvement would be to have more signage directing the runners on the parking and registration areas; having more than 1 porta-potty; using an accurately measured course (website showed the half uses an additional loop around the lake, so I’m not sure why it wasn’t used- seemed perfectly runnable to me);

Previous trail 21k races:
8/11/19, Half-Wit Half, 2:34:40
7/14/19, Spartan Trail 21k, 4:23:34 (one of the hardest races I have ever done)
5/11/19- Jim Thorpe Half, 1:53:55 (mix of road and trail)

Race Review
Ratings based on the following scale:
1- Minimal
2- Below Average
3- Average
4- Above Average
5- Excellent

Course- mostly single track trails through the woods; rolling hills, switchbacks, some gravel roads
Scenery: 4
Difficulty: 3
Course Markings: 5
Volunteers/Marshals: 4
Aid stations: 3
(1 water stop at start/finish)

Race-
Organization: 3
Post race food: 4
Comradarie/Community: 4
Parking: 4
Pre-race communications: 4
Results: 4 (no results board on-site, on-line same day)
Location: 4
Start time: 5
Awards timing: N/A

Swag- 4
Shirt: N/A but had the choice of a coffee mug, and I believe the other options were gloves, a buff, or winter knit hat. I went with the mug.
Finisher Medal: N/A
Awards: N/A


6 races down, 94 to go!
Next race: Saturday 2/2; LVRR Superbowl Tailgate Trot 10k, Allentown, PA

Stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

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