Sunday, November 22, 2009


“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
Have you ever fulfilled a lifetime dream, not a goal but a “DREAM”? I look at goals as something that are measurable and attainable and view dreams as a step beyond goals, bordering on the verge of immeasurable and unattainable. I consider myself a “GOAL” oriented person but if I was asked what my lifetime dream was, I would have a hard time providing an answer. Well this past Monday, 16 November 2009 at 1438, I was able to witness my good friend, LtCol Randy “Komrade” Bresnick, attain a lifetime dream as he lifted off of Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Space Shuttle Atlantis.

This was quite possibly the most emotional experience (next to the birth of my children) of my life. I cried like a baby as I watched that shuttle blast off into space. I was honored to have been invited to watch the launch and even more excited that the whole family could attend. Having grown up in Orlando, FL, I could see the Space Shuttle launch from my front porch. I would watch the initial lift off on TV and walk out the front door as it cleared the tree line, but I never saw a launch up close and personal. When I ask my kids what they thought about the experience I get one word answers like “awesome”, “amazing”, etc…, but they, nor I, can seem to put together a worthy description of how they felt. It is truly something that is undescribable.

I have known Randy for about 24 years. We met at The Citadel in Charleston, SC in 1985, were commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1989. We did our required basic and advanced flight training and were selected to fly F/A-18s. During our time in the Marine Corps, we both continued to achieve “measurable and attainable” goals; however Randy continued to keep his eye on the “DREAM” of becoming an astronaut and eventually making it into space. Not only did he make into space on the shuttle, but yesterday he stepped out of the shuttle and did a 6.5 hour space walk. So to put that in ultra marathon speak-I run a 50K in about 6.5 hours but for Randy, moving at 17,500 mph, I figure he covered about 113,750 miles; pretty good run.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to return to earth on Friday the 27th. I look forward to being able to visit Randy and his family sometime in the near future, raise a glass and toast an amazing milestone achievement. My prayers and thoughts are with Randy and his family, as well as with all the members of the Atlantis crew. Safe return and Happy landings. Run Strong!
Semper Fi and God Bless,

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon 2009

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

On Sunday, 30 Oct 1988, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon with 10,000 starters and this past Sunday, 21 years later, I ran it for a second time with just over 30,000 people. If you would have asked the question above, “why do you race?” to the starting field, you would have received 30,000 different answers. A lot of the answers where worn on runners shirts. They were supporting breast cancer research, Leukemia Foundations, in memory of a mother, father, brother, or sister, Wounded Warriors, Injured Marines, and many more worthy reasons.
This race last Sunday was surprisingly emotional for me. Running the Marine Corps Marathon as a young college senior in 1988, I did not have the life experience to process all of the micro stories that were developing around me during the race. I ran on ego and got upset when I hit the wall on Haines Point (mile 21 in 1988) cramped up and got passed by many runners that I thought should not be passing a soon to be US Marine at the pinnacle of physical fitness. This time it was easy for me to see and understand the motivations of runners. I was able to put my ego behind me and be supportive of those runners that moved faster, challenging themselves to pursue their individual goals. They tell you at the beginning of the race to remember the climb up the last hill, to the finish line at the base of the US Marine Corps War Memorial, that you are running on “Sacred Ground”. Well, after serving this great country for 20 years as a member of the world’s finest fighting force, truer words could not have been spoken.
Here are a couple of observations from the race. 30,000 runners are too many folks for me. I managed to work my way up to the 3:40 expected finishing time corral and it still took about four minutes to get to the starting line after the gun fired. After crossing the start line I spent the next 3 miles working in and out of traffic and finally was able to get into a running rhythm as we started running down Sprout Run. I was amazed by the number of spectators that lined the course for almost the entire 26 miles. There support and enthusiasm were very motivating throughout the day. Haines Point came at about mile 12 in this years race, what a difference that made. Haines Point is a 3 mile loop with limited access for supporters, so you lose the fan support that was driving you through the Mall area. When I ran this in 1988 the Haines Point loop came at a terrible time (mile 21) and it almost ended my race. Having this loop in the middle of the race is much better physically and psychologically. The stand out supporter of the day was the guy dressed up as the grim reaper standing alone on the 14th street bridge (mile 21ish) with the sign reading “the end is near”.

As I said in my last race report, no matter what the distance of the race is, the last 10% always hurts and this race was no different. Over the last 4 miles my times were starting to slip and my legs were feeling the pain of 3+ hours of pavement pounding. As I approached the finish, running past Arlington National Cemetery, the crowd got bigger and louder. I made the left turn up to the War Memorial, saw my family on the side of the road cheering me on and was instantly overwhelmed by a flood of emotions. Twenty one years ago I ran up this hill as a hard charging young man looking forward to college graduation, a commission in the Marine Corps and getting married to a beautiful woman. Well, there stood my (still beautiful) wife and our four incredible children, 20 years of service to this great country, and a prayer that the next 21 years be as exciting as the 21 previous.

The last 200 feet brought tears to my eyes as I really thought about the question, ”Why do I race?” The verse from the Book of James at the top of the post is a very accurate description of why I race. I consider it a great joy and honor to be able to support the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund and it was awesome to meet some of these inspiring men and women after the race. I enjoy the physical and mental challenges that surround the events that I compete in. Challenging myself physically provides me the opportunity to get outside my comfort zone and in those situations to step out in faith, faith that I have been saved by the grace of God. Testing my faith continues to grow and mature me as a man, husband, father, and disciple with the final hope that my actions will be able to speak louder than my words, that’s why I race! Run Strong

Semper Fi and God Bless,

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Freedom’s Run 2009

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
21 years ago I ran my first and only marathon, The Marine Corps Marathon. I was 21 years old and I thought to myself, as I crossed the finish line in a respectable 4h:11m, that this was a “one and done” experience. That held true for another 21 years and even though I have run a lot ultramarathons over the past two years, I have yet to go back to the 26.2 distance, until this past weekend. Saturday I ran in the inaugural Freedoms Run Marathon which started in Harpers Ferry, WV and ended in Shepherdstown, WV. I didn’t find out about this race until about a month ago but could not pass up the chance to run through 4 National Parks, including Antietam Battlefield. I would describe this as a marathon with an ultra feel.

Saturday morning was beautiful, clear with temps in the low 50s for the start. I parked at the finish line at Shepherdstown University and jumped on a bus to the starting line at 0600. We arrived at the Harpers Ferry Visitors Center about 30 minutes later and got ready for the 0700 start. There were a little over 300 of us at the start and right at 0700 we were off. The first mile or so covered an out and back to the Murphy Farm and then a good downhill section into the old town of Harpers Ferry. We passed John Browns Fort, crossed the Potomac River and joined the C&O canal heading north.

Going into the race, I had a goal of sub 4 hours but was more concerned with enjoying the day and having some time with my thoughts and prayers. Unlike ultras, there were mile markers each mile and I was keeping an eye on my times. I felt really good running, legs were strong and I felt like the heart rate was staying in control, even though my mile splits were running about 7:45ish. These times were surprisingly fast for me and I initially chalked it up to adrenaline and thought that I would soon slow down. As we continued up the Potomac, which by the way was an awesome run this time of year, the splits stayed pretty consistent and I continued to feel pretty good. Passing the half marathon point at 13.1 miles I was at 1:41 and knew I had about a mile and a half before the course left the flat C&O canal and headed into the hilly battlefield.

We left the trail at mile 14.6 and headed up Sawmill road and the up and down hills continued for the rest of the race, nothing drastic, just enough to get the heart rate up and make the legs hurt a little more. I ran all of the hills, even though my normal ultra routine is to walk most of the hills I decided to press on through. Running through the battlefield was great. The park service was out in full force to support the race and kept the traffic under control. We ran past Burnside’s Bridge and up to the Bloody Row. Coming up on the Bloody Row you could see the observation tower from a long distance away but as I got closer you could hear the haunting sound of bagpipes rolling across the fields. Sure enough, right in front of the tower was a piper in full garb piping for the runners. That was a run highlight. After running by the Cornfield and the Dunker Church we left the battlefield and headed into Sharpsburg with about 5 miles to go.

I don’t think it matters what distance race you in, the last 10% always hurts. I continued to check my mile splits and they had been running just over 8 minutes in the battlefield section. There was a gentle uphill from Sharpsburg that started to take effect and slowed me down al little and then we rolled over the Potomac and climbed up to Shepherdstown University Stadium and the finish.

The official finishing time was 3h:29m:35s, and I could not have been more surprised. That gave me an 8 min mile average for 26.2 miles. My typical tempo run from the Pentagon to East Falls Church Metro station is 8 miles. I usually run an 8:30 2.5 mile warmup to the custis trail and then run 4 miles at 7:30ish and finish with a 1.5 mile cool down in the 8-8:30 range, feeling like I have had a good workout. I find it hard to explain that I could maintain an 8 min pace for 26 miles, especially in the second half of the race when the hills kicked in. Lately, when I get surprised by physical feats, I come back to Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. I feel that my running has a purpose that Christ is using it in way that I don’t fully understand. I believe part of His purpose is this blog, and the fact that I can at least spread my story of how Christ is working my life and I hope that it has had an impact on some of you that continue to follow. I once again offer up all the praise and glory for this race to God and pray that He will continue to run with me. I have found that He is a pretty good pacer!! Run Strong.

God Bless and Semper Fi ,

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Catoctin 50K Race Report

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” 2 Chronicles- 16:9

Sorry for the long hiatus but I have been enjoying the remainder of my time off for the summer. Sadly that time has come to an end and I am out of retirement and back to work. I have been very fortunate to be able to spend so much time with the family this summer. We had an incredible trip out west through the Rockies and up into Yellowstone and to finish off my vacation time I was able to run in the Catoctin 50K on Saturday.

This is the first time that I had run this race and was anxious to see how well my body had recovered from the Western States 100. My training leading up to this race had been sporadic at best. In the five weeks since WS I had run a total of 88 miles, fortunately I did run an out an back training run on the first 9 miles of the course so I had a little idea of what I was in for. This race is advertised as a low key, no frills ultra and that may be true from a swag perspective but the organization, volunteers, and runner camaraderie was first class.

First things first-running a 50K on August 1st, starting at 0800 in the morning, in Maryland-two things come to mind immediately: Hot and Humid, and we were not disappointed. There were about 160 of us toeing the line for the start in Gambrill State Park and even though the temps were mild, the humidity was thick and would remain that way all day. The course is a 15.6 mile out and back along the Catoctin Trail with about 6000’ of climb and descent. At 0800 we started the train moving down the mountain and I settled in for the day.

There was a little over 6 miles to the first aid station and as we hammered down the first steep hill over the incredibly rocky trail I was remembering how nice the western trails were. The good thing about running on these rocky trails is that it keeps you intensely focused on your foot placement to the point that the pain gets pushed aside. The section went very well and as I came up the hill to the Hamburg Road aid station I was feeling good and got in and out quickly.

The next section was a short 3 mile stretch into Delauter Road and then into the last section of just over 6 miles to the turn around point. The last 2 miles is a pretty good downhill run into the aid station which keeps you thinking about what you have to come back up. I got to the turn at 2 hours and 47 minutes and the heat of the day was just starting to reveal itself. After a quick refuel and water I started back to Gambrill State Park and up the hill.

I was very pleased with how I was feeling and was able to mix some uphill running in with power hiking to get up the slope in a respectable time. It took about 15 minutes more to cover this section of trail going in the opposite direction. The next 3 mile stretch I was able to do in 35 minutes which was the same time that it took on the outbound leg. However coming into the Hamburg aid station for the second time it was almost 1300 and the effects of heat and humidity were starting to take there toll.

I quickly refilled and started on the last section, 6 miles to the finish. I had covered this distance in 1 hour 12 minutes on the way out and was shooting for 1 hour 20 minutes on the way in. I knew that I should be able to run the first 3 miles or so of this section before the big uphill started and I did. Once I got to the bottom I was ready for a hiking break, I was also very ready for the 5 stream crossing that I knew were coming on the uphill leg, they could not have been spaced out any better, this really helped to keep me cool on the climb. I stayed true to my 1 hour and 20 minute pace and crested the final climb to cross the finish line in 6 hours and 18 minutes and a strong 15th place.

I was very pleased with how my legs felt but I am still having problems with my stomach and can not figure out how to get more calories into my body during the run. Although I never got sick or even felt sick during the run, as soon as I finished the urge hit me and stayed with me the rest of the afternoon- this something that I have to figure out. I would like to say thanks to all of the great volunteers and to Kevin for putting on a great event, for pictures of the race follow this link to Geoffery Baker's photo site. The next race is the North Face 50 miler on 19 September. Run Strong!

God Bless and Semper Fi,

Friday, July 3, 2009

2009 Western States Race Report

“Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. . . Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63: 3-8

Wow, Praise to the Lord! To sum it up in a single word, I would have to say, Epic. Webster defines epic as – extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope. Well for me, all aspects of the WS100 extended beyond the usual in both size and scope. The race management was first class, the army of volunteers was second to none, the competition was tough, and the course was brutally honest and unforgiving. This was truly an epic journey.

We arrived in Squaw Valley on Wednesday night after spending the day touring Yosemite National Park and spent the next couple of days soaking in the pre-race events going on around the Olympic Village. On Thursday I took a hike up to the flag raising ceremony at the Escarpment, which covered the first four miles of the course and then took an easy jog down, that was my last run before the race on Saturday. Friday was filled with excitement as everyone was at the official check-in and medical assessment. I had some trouble with blood pressure and had to wait a while for it to get back to a normal range (a little anxious). I was able to get it down low enough for them to put on the yellow medical bracelet that remains on your arm until you cross the finish line or are dropped from the race. The big buzz on Friday was about the hot weather that was being forecast for Saturday and Sunday, but little could be done about that.

I got a pretty good night sleep on Friday night and was up early at 0330 on Saturday. I ate breakfast, stretched and got over to the starting line about 0445. At exactly 0500, 399 runners crossed the starting line in Squaw Valley in quest of running 100 miles to Placer County High School in Auburn, CA, for 238 of them the quest would be fulfilled for the other 161 the Western States Trail would take its toll and the quest would have to wait for another year.

The first 4 miles of the course is right up the slope of the big ski runs in Squaw Valley, 2500 feet of climb. As I climbed out of the valley I was thankful to be in the middle of the pack as the lead group immediately went off course for about 3 minutes, they quickly corrected their error and passed me never to be seen again until the awards ceremony. I had two time goals for this race, first I wanted to complete in under 24 hours and if that was not possible I was going to finish in under 30 hours. As I ran into the first aid station I was about 10 minutes ahead of my 24 hour pace and feeling good. I knew the next seven miles to Lyon Ridge AS was mostly downhill.

Cresting the summit of the Escarpment and looking west, you could see the next 30 or so miles of the course, which was pretty incredible, almost as incredible as looking east and watching the sunrise over Lake Tahoe. Regardless of where you looked we were now in the wild and surrounded by the beauty of creation. The ridge running from the Escarpment, through Lyon Ridge and into the Red Star Ridge aid station was awesome and I was able to maintain my 24 hour pace, covering 16 miles in 3h:10m, it was 0810. At Red Star Ridge I had a drop bag with an Ensure and some additional Clif gels. I had been drinking plenty of water and taking S-Caps (salt supplement) about every hour.

The first section of the race (30 miles from the start to Robinson Flat AS) covers what is commonly referred to as the High Country due to the fact that you stay at about 7000’ elevation until just after 30 miles. The temperature was great but you could tell it was starting to warm up. The climb out of Red Star Ridge was along an exposed east facing slope and the sun was coming on strong. I continued with a solid pace along the ridge and ran hard on the downhill into Duncan Canyon and the first opportunity to see my CREW (Mom and Dad).

I am going to segway into the crew for a moment and provide them with the thanks and appreciation that is due. The WS100 is not an easy race to crew for, the aid stations are remote and far between. My Mom and Dad were at every planned stopped and provided me just the support that I needed to keep running toward Auburn. The common definition for CREW is Cranky Runner, Endless Waiting, these guys endured endless waiting and dealt with a cranky runner for the entire race and I appreciate everything that you did. Thanks for being a critical part of the journey.

Duncan Canyon was a blur, I was in and out in about 4 minutes. I got a new shirt, my FCA visor, put on sunscreen, drank an Ensure, refilled the water bottles and was down the trail to Robinson Flat. After a nice downhill section we crossed Duncan Creek, got good and wet and climb a gentle but long hill up to the Robinson Flat aid station and first medical checkpoint. I had covered 30 miles in 6h:13m and was in 97th place. I was still on the 24 hour pace. I weighed in 6 lbs over my starting weight which told me that my water to salt ratio was out of balance, I was holding onto too much water. So it was time to cut back on water and increase the sodium intake. I would work this out over the next couple of hours and it would not be much of a problem for the rest of the race.

Leaving Robinson Flat, I climbed for about a mile up to Little Bald Mountain and looking east I could see the Escarpment and the past 30 miles of trail. I was leaving the High Country and starting into what would be the hardest part of the course for me and many, The Canyons. The canyon section goes from Robinson Flat to Foresthill AS (30-62 miles) during this section there are three major canyons back to back and with the heat climbing into the 100s, they were brutal.

On the west side of Little Bald Mountain the trail started down through the burned out section of a past forest fire. The signs of rebirth were abundant; unfortunately the new growth was not tall enough to provide any shade on the trail. I ran through Miller’s Defeat aid station and got sponged off with ice water, refilled and pushed on down the trail. On the way down to Dusty Corner’s AS I had the chance to run with Dean Karnazes (The Ultramarathon Man) for a couple of minutes and told him that his book is what got me excited about running Ultra’s (so he is to blame). I wondered why he was back in the pack and asked how he was doing, I thought his answer was great, he said “today is the kind of day that makes you re-evaluate your expectations”. This coming from a guy that was going for his 12th Western States finish, spoke volumes about the conditions on the trail. Dean quickly pulled ahead and vanished down the trail and ended up calling it a day at Foresthill AS.
I cruised into Dusty Corner’s AS, 38 miles and got to see the CREW again. This was another quick stop and I was back on the trail. I was still on my 24 hour pace but the heat was starting to take a toll. The next time I would see the CREW was at mile 55.7, Michigan Bluff AS and that would be after two of the three canyons.

Out of Dusty Corner’s I had about 8 more miles of downhill running to get to the bottom of Deadwood Canyon. The first 6 miles were on good trail and a fairly gentle slope. Leaving the Last Chance AS, which by the way is the only aid station on the course that I can’t remember anything about, I had about 2 miles before the bottom dropped out of the trail and we went straight down the side of Deadwood Canyon and a series of very narrow switchbacks. I kept a good pace but could tell I was getting extremely hot, at the bottom of the canyon; I took a couple of extra minutes and totally submerged myself in Deadwood Creek. This got my core temperature down and I was ready for the climb up Devil’s Thumb, so I thought.

As soon as I started up the first of 36 switchbacks (1500’ of climb in 1.5 miles) I knew that I had completely underestimated my ability to climb this slope. I started moving up the hill very slowly, laboring step by step. The trail was shaded but the air was stagnate and it was very hot. After about 6 switchbacks my stomach revolted and I vomited violently. I took a couple of minutes to recover and then started moving up again, counting the switchbacks as I went. I was making 5 switchbacks a milestone, and taking a short break and re-hydrating. It was during this section that I had serious considerations of not completing the race. I never once thought that I could not finish, this was different, I was having thoughts about if I wanted to finish, was it worth the pain that I was going through to finish. I have never experienced those kinds of feelings during an Ultra, but they were real and I was having a hard time suppressing them. In pre race planning I had estimated 30 minutes to climb out of Deadwood Canyon, it took me an hour.

Devils Thumb AS looked like a MASH unit, runners all over the place, on cots, getting medical help, or like me, just sitting in a chair with a very blank expression on their face. This was the first time I had to sit down during the race and boy did I need it. The good news was my weight was back to pre race numbers at 174 and all I needed to do was to cool off and continue to keep hydrated and moving. It was now about 1530, I had covered 47.8 miles in 10h:33m and was having serious motivation problems. I had just completed one of the three canyons and the next two would not be any easier, picking myself up out of the chair and continuing to Michigan Bluff took a leap of faith, knowing that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” PHIL 4:13 was the thought that kept me moving down the trail.

I had a 5.1 mile, 2500’ descent to El Dorado Creek in front of me and then a 1700’ climb to Michigan Bluff. Somewhere on the way down to the creek I passed the mid point of the race, I maintained a pretty good pace down into the canyon, fortunately my legs were still in good shape. When I got to the bottom of the canyon I took another opportunity to dive into the creek and cool off and then I started the long haul up to Michigan Bluff and my CREW. This climb was slow but not as hard as the Devils Thumb climb, my attitude was improving the higher I got on the canyon wall. I came into Michigan Bluff at 1803, 55.7 miles and 13h:03m on the trail. I had fallen behind the 24 hour pace but it was still a possibility. It was great to see the CREW and they got me out of there in about 8 minutes, I wanted to stay longer but Mom was pushing me to get going. Two canyons down, one to go, Volcano Canyon.

The name, Volcano Canyon, sounds worse than it turned out to be. After some initial climbing and some more vomiting, the descent into the canyon went well and the climb out, although slow was the best of the three. I passed the Bath Road AS and climbed up to the Foresthill Road for the one mile downhill run into the Foresthill AS at 1952, 62 miles complete, 14h:52m, The Canyons were behind me, the Lord provided me with the strength that I needed and the faith to continue. I was about 52 minutes off of the 24 hour pace and I had serious doubts about being able to finish 38 more miles in under 9 hours. The good news is that I had overcome the very strong desire to quit and recommitted myself to finishing the race. My weight was checked, still 174 lbs-good, and I got ready for the night portion of the run. Mom and Dad were on the spot as they were for each aid station and they got me going before 2000. My faith was renewed but the canyons had taken a toll on my body and I was moving slow.

I walked down Foresthill Road for a moment in an effort to get the body loosened up after sitting for a while and eventually started running on the next section of the course know as Cal Street. Cal Street is a 16 mile section of the course that takes you from Foresthill AS to the river crossing at mile 78. This section was mostly downhill with some shorter steep climbs thrown in for good measure. I made it the 3.7 miles to Cal 1 (Dardanelles AS) without having to turn my light on, which was my goal leaving Foresthill. From Cal 1 we had some pretty good climbs and steep descents over the next 5 miles moving into Cal 2 (Peachstone). At Peachstone I was able to take in some soup broth and extra calories. It was a short 2.3 mile run from Cal 2 to Cal 3 (Ford’s Bar AS) and then a final 5 mile push to the Rucky Chucky river crossing at mile 78. I arrived at the river at 0047, now 19h:47m into the race and I still had 22 miles to go.

The river crossing was surreal. It was about 30 yards across the American River and the water was about chest high, it felt great (I am the second guy in the picture following Scott Dunlap). There were two huge aid stations, one on either side of the river and the river itself was lined with volunteers tending a cable strung across the river. The volunteers in the river were insuring that each runner got across safely. It was a truly impressive operation and I thank each an every volunteer for their time and effort.

I spent very little time at the river and after crossing I started the steep climb up to the Green Gate AS and my CREW. I arrived at Green Gate about an hour later and took too long of a break, about 20 minutes of resting and recouping. I think that Mom and Dad saw the toll that the trail had taken on me and let me recover a little. So at about 0200, I was ready to get going for the final 20 miles, the next time I would see the CREW would be at the HWY 49 crossing, mile 93.5.

The last 20 miles of the trail is the Homestretch, mostly gentle terrain through meadows, in and out of small canyons, there are two descents back to the river level and two significant climbs including the 700’ climb up to Robie Pt at mile 97. I ran the entire race without a pacer, so I had a lot of time alone on the trail with my thoughts but you really get the sense of isolation at night on the trail. The glare of my headlamp would only illuminate about 30 feet ahead of me but I was able to look to the sky and let the view of the stars remind me how vast the area was that I was running through and always confident that I had the Ultimate Pacer running with me.

At mile 85, I came into the Auburn Lake Trails AS and was about 4 lbs under weight; the medical staff wanted me to sit down until I could gain a couple of pounds. So after eating some watermelon and drinking about a quart, I gained the 2 pounds and was given clearance to proceed. Now, I knew exactly what was going to happen and I was not surprised when after less than a quarter of a mile down the trail I gave back the 2 lbs that I had just consumed and with that out of the way, I continued down the trail towards the Brown’s Bar AS. I got into Brown’s Bar at about 0500 and only stayed for a couple of minutes knowing that HWY 49 was the next AS and it was only 3.5 miles away. Out of Brown’s Bar there was a good downhill section and was able to turn off my headlamp for this because the sun had started to rise—AGAIN! The last 1.5 miles of this section was over the first of the two big climbs, but we overcame and emerged at the HWY 49 AS at 0604, 93.5 miles and 25h:04m on the trail.

I could definitely smell the barn and only spent about 4 minutes at this aid station. I thanked Mom and Dad and told them I would see them at the High School shortly. I left the AS and climbed up to the Pointed Rocks section and some beautiful meadows and then started down a very steep and seemingly never-ending hill to No-Hands Bridge AS. I finally got to the AS refilled water bottles and left immediately for the last 3.5 miles to the finish. I wish I could say that I ran the final stretch strong but the truth is that I was spent and the final hill is a very real challenge. The slope up to Robie Point is east facing and even though it was still early in the morning you could already feel the heat building. I walked most of this final hill. 1.3 miles from the finish I came to the Robie Pt AS. I came out of the woods and off the trail for the last time (the rest of the course was on the paved streets of Auburn). I continued a slow climb up the streets of Auburn towards the Placer County High School, knowing that in short order I would be crossing the finish line of the 35th Annual Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run.

I began running Ultramarathons about 2 years ago and from the beginning my goal was to complete the WS100. I had a very bittersweet experience over the last half mile of the course. I had not really thought about my running goals after the WS100. I focused solely on preparing for this race and now I was less than 5 minutes away from completing it, then what? I pushed that aside as I ran down the hill toward the High School and onto the track for the final steps of my 100 mile journey. It had taken 27h:09m:47s to run from Squaw Valley, CA through the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Placer County High School, Auburn, CA. During that time, the Western States Trail challenged the limits of my physical, mental, and spiritual conditioning. It was an epic journey in every sense of the word.
I have emerged from this experience, a man that continues to be blessed with an incredible support network of family and friends that allow me complete these events. I am still struggling to find a solid answer to the question; why do you run these distances? Because it’s fun is not a good answer. But I do know that I am running for a very noble cause, Injured Marines, I truly believe that God smiles while I run and I hope that others can see what His presence in my life allows me to achieve. The journey is the destination; the destination is unknown; the journey continues. Run Strong!

God Bless and Semper Fi, Huffer

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Western States 100-Week 6

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, because He cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:6,7

D-6 and counting!! This was a great week of fine tuning and altitude acclimatization. I rolled into Estes Park, CO on Monday and was able to get in five awesome runs during the week. I plan to leave for Squaw Valley on Tuesday with my crew (Mom and Dad) and feel that I am ready to go for the 0500 start on Saturday. Anyone interested in following the race can click here to follow the live webcast, my bib number is 262. The webcast should be up and running by Friday.

I started off the week on Tuesday with a 5.1 mile run around Lake Estes and was lucky enough to be accompanied by my son and daughter on their bikes. The lake sits at just under 8000 feet elevation and I could definitely feel the difference, there were a couple of hills but the run was mostly flat. On Wednesday I dropped my three daughters off at The Girls Trail End, Cheley Colorado Camp, where they will spend the next 4 weeks having a great time playing in the Rocky Mountains. After we dropped off the girls, I went for a good 9 mile run to Gem Lake. This had about 3500 feet of elevation gain and 1800 feet elevation loss. I met my dad and son at the lake and then we hiked down together.

Friday we went into the Rocky Mountain National Park and I was dropped off in Moraine Park and ran up to Bierstadt Lake to meet my dad, son, sister and her kids. This was another great hill run with 2500 feet up and 1200 down. The first 4 miles of the run was gentle uphill to Cub Lake, the last 4 was on very steep and rocky trails. After I met up with the crew at the lake we hiked 1.6 miles down a very rocky trail to the parking lot. It is awesome to watch young kids get such a kick out of being in nature, they had a great time an did a super job on a difficult hike.

Saturday was my last long training run and I could not have had a better confidence building run. I was dropped off this time at the Alpine Visitors Center, elevation 11,800 feet and I ran down Old Fall River Road to the Alluvial Fan parking area (10 miles and 3500 foot descent). I had planned on running this at an easy pace that would keep my heart rate low and keep my legs feeling good and I thought that would be at about a 10 minute per mile pace. I got to the bottom in 1 hour 20 minutes which was an 8:05 minute per mile pace and I felt great. I hope to ride that run into next week.

Well the training is done and all that lies ahead is 100 miles of beautiful Sierra Nevada mountain trails. I have come a long way from where I was at this time last year. I think that my training has been more focused, I am in better shape than I was last year. The 100 mile distance is not as big of mystery since I was able to complete that distance last October, however the respect for the distance is greater than ever. So the goal is to focus on crossing the finish line in less than 24 hours. My Faith is stronger than ever, the Lord will define how this race will be run and I will praise Him regardless of the results. I have been put in a position to accomplish a feat that is only possible with His help and for this I will give Him all the glory. Run Strong!

God Bless and Semper Fi,
Training for 15-21 June: Weekly Mi (34.3), June Mi (138.3), 2009 Mi (1183.6)
Mon: Cross Country Travel
Tues: 5.1 mi - Lake Estes
Wed: 8.5 mi - Gem Lake Loop
Thurs: 2 mi - Lake Estes
Fri: 8.8 mi - Bierstadt Lake
Sat: 9.9 mi - Old Fall River Road
Sun: Off

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Western States 100 - Week 5

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song." Psalm 28:7D -11 and counting! This was the first week of tapering going into the big race. The goal was to try and reduce my miles by 25% and I was able to accomplish that with a 45 mile week and some pretty good running. The body is in pretty good shape, nothing is bothering me at the moment. I kept my pace slower this week , in an effort to keep anything from breaking.

Last Friday I unofficially retired from the Marine Corps, I am actually on a period of terminal leave with a final retirement date of 1 September. So this week I got to enjoy some low stress taskers around the house as well as some easy running. Monday I got out to the Bull Run Conservancy and ran a solid hill routine for about 8 miles. While I was running my dad and son had the chance to get in some hiking in the Bull Run mountains.

Tuesday I had plans of running 10 miles around the battlefield but a nasty thunderstorm cut that short and I ended up logging 6 miles of very soggy running. I took Wednesday off and ran 15 on the Bull Run-Occoquan trail on Thursday morning. I ran this at a 10:30mpm pace and felt real good at the end. The trail was in pretty bad shape from all of the ran we had the week prior.

Friday I took a 7 mile run in the neighborhood and tried out a new pair of Nike Lunartrainer road shoes that I had sent to me by a College classmate and Nike Running representative. Thanks Phil, the shoes felt great and even though I don’t do much road running these will be the shoe of choice for those kind of runs.

Saturday was my last run in the Virginia area prior to heading west and it was fitting that I ran out at the Bull Run Battlefield. As I have said in previous posts, this has become my favorite place to run and this last 10 mile run was just the send off that I needed going into the Western States.

Sunday my dad and I loaded up the car with 4 kids and started the drive out to Colorado. The kids are going to camp and I will be able to get some altitude acclimatization as well as a couple of good mountain runs. We are planning on driving out to Squaw Valley starting next Tuesday, arriving on Wednesday. Right know all systems are go and the Lord continues to watch over me. I need to stay focused and healthy, continue to plan and study the course and remember where my strength comes from. Run Strong!

God Bless and Semper Fi,

Training for 8-14 June: Weekly Mi (45.6), June Mi (104), 2009 Mi (1149.2)

Mon: 8.1 mi- Bull Run Conservancy
Tues: 6.1 mi- Bull Run Battlefield
Wed: Off
Thurs: 15 mi- Bull Run-Occoquan Trail
Fri: 7 mi- Neighborhood
Sat: 9.4 mi- Bull Run Battlefield
Sun: Off

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Western States 100 - Week 3 and 4

“I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope.” Psalm 16: 8,9

This has been a hectic couple of weeks. Last Friday I retired from the Marine Corps after 20 years of service and my time has been split between running and finalizing the details for that event. The ceremony and post party went over great and now I get ready to start the next chapter in my life. Even with all of the commotion of the retirement I was able to continue to get some good final hard training weeks in.

Week 3 training continued to focus on the tempo and fartlek running; however I had a couple of good long runs. I started out on the hills of the Bull Run Conservancy for a great 13 mile Memorial Day run and then took to the WO&D trail for the rest of the weekday running. We spent the weekend at Lake Anna and I took a good 12 mile run on Sunday in the Lake Anna State Park. I ended up with 68.2 miles for the week and felt pretty good about the pace that I was running.

I knew that week 4 was going to be a busy week and that most of my miles would come during the weekdays, so I went out heavy on the WO&D trail. Monday I got both an AM and PM run commute for a total of 15.5 miles at about a 7:30mpm pace, 8 miles on Tuesday and then a big 15.5 mile AM and 8 mile PM commute on Wednesday for a 23.5 mile day. The only run I got over the weekend was a great 5.4 mile run at the Bull Run Battlefield with my good friend Randy, who was in from California for the retirement festivities. By the way, Randy had just completed his first marathon the week prior to coming out to Virginia (San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon)—nice job Brother, I’ll see you in October for the MCM. I ended up week 4 with 58.4 miles and am now looking to start into my tapering process for the 27 June WS100.

With the bulk of the training complete, I feel that I am better shape than I was last year. The speed training has made a big difference in my fitness level and I hope that it is enough to get me to Auburn under 24 hours. I will keep the blog posts rolling in and hopefully they will be a little more frequent now that I have a little more time on my hands. Run Strong!

God Bless and Semper Fi,
Training for 25-31 May: Weekly Mi (68.2), May Mi (284.8), 2009 Mi (1045.2)

Mon: 13 mi- Bull Run Conservancy
Tues: 5 mi- Crossramp, Upper Body Lift
Wed: 8 mi- AM Run Commute WO&D Trail, AB
Thurs: 15.5 mi- (Tempo) 8 mi-AM / 7.5mi-PM Run Commute WO&D Trail, AB
Fri: Off
Sat: 14.7 mi- Bull Run Battlefield
Sun: 12 mi- Lake Anna State Park

Training for 1-7 June: Weekly Mi (58.4), June Mi (58.4), 2009 Mi (1103.6)

Mon: 15.5 mi- (Fartlek) 8 mi-AM / 7.5mi-PM Run Commute WO&D Trail, AB
Tues: 8 mi- AM Run Commute WO&D Trail, AB
Wed: 23.5 mi- 15.5 mi-AM / 8 mi-PM Run Commute WO&D Trail, AB
Thurs: 6 mi- Crossramp, Upper Body Lift
Fri: Off
Sat: 5.4 mi- Bull Run Battlefield
Sun: Off

Friday, May 29, 2009

Western States 100 - Week 2

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in inequity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians: 13:4-7

Sorry for the late posting this week but time has gotten the better of me. Twenty nine days until the Western States 100. I had another good week of training and was able to get in 62 miles including a great 25 miler on the Appalachian Trail. The Lord continues to fuel the machine and hold the body together.

I started out the week with a gym session of weightlifting and 5 miles on the Precor Crossramp. For the cross ramp I ran a double hill set and got the resistance up to level 13. Tuesday through Friday I was able to get 4 commute runs accomplished for a total of 32 miles along the Custis and WO&D trail. These runs were all AM run commutes from the East Falls Church Metro Station to the Pentagon. I ran two Fartlek runs, a Tempo, and an easy run on Friday. All 4 of the runs were run at a sub 8 minute mile pace.

Saturday, I was able to get out early on the Appalachian Trail for about 25 miles. I started at the Manassas Gap Trailhead and ran through Sky Meadows State Park up to the Ashby Gap Trailhead. This was a great training run with about 4500’ of elevation gain and loss; it also offered some long stretches of downhill running. The highlight of the run was a very large black bear encounter about an hour and a half in to the run. As with most of my bear sightings this bear was more scared than I was, however in his attempt to get away he ran parallel to the trail for about a hundred yards and refused to turn in to the woods. Finally, he decided that my following him was too much, so he darted across the trail in front of me and down a steep hill. This allowed me to get by, needless to say my pace accelerated for the next half mile or so. The rest of the run was uneventful, compared to that.

The run through Sky Meadows was awesome, what a beautiful view up on the ridgeline. The day did start to turn hot and very humid. I was hoping to make this a 30 mile run but by the time I got back to the car I was out of water (I carried a 72oz Camelback and 20oz handheld) and all I had to refill with was warm Gatorade. So that combination helped me talk myself out of another 5 mile stretch. The trailhead parking lot was at the edge of a nice mountain stream that I sat in for about 5 minutes at the end of the run and it did wonders for my legs. The run took 4 hours and 45 minutes and gave me some great training on the hills and hopefully started to work on my heat acclimatization.

On Sunday I had planned to put in 10 miles at the Bull Run Battlefield but was pleasantly surprised when my wife asked if I would walk with her that morning. So we ended up walking at the Battlefield early Sunday morning and she was able to get what I call “the deer experience”. Starting from the old stone bridge parking lot it’s about a mile to a very large meadow. If you can get to the meadow early enough it is full of deer eating breakfast, we were lucky enough to get there early. She has heard me talk about the deer at Bull Run often and I usually count how many I see during my runs out there but for this day I was just content to share this experience with her and didn’t bother with a count.

I am well into week 3 training but won’t ruin the write up, which I hope to have posted in a more timely fashion. The WS100 is closing in and I feel stronger than I did last year. I think that the training over the next couple of weeks is going to set me up for a good taper and leave me in a good fitness position. Run Strong!

God Bless and Semper Fi,

Training for 11-17 May: Weekly Mi (62), May Mi (206.6), 2009 Mi (977.0)
Mon: 5.5 mi- Crossramp and Upper Body Lift
Tues: 8 mi- (Fartlek) AM Run Commute WO&D Trail, AB
Wed: 8 mi- (Tempo) AM Run Commute WO&D Trail, AB
Thurs: 8 mi- (Fartlek) AM Run Commute WO&D Trail, AB
Fri: 8 mi- (Fartlek) AM Run Commute WO&D Trail, AB
Sat: 25 mi- Appalachian Trail
Sun: Walk at Bull Run Battlefield

Monday, May 18, 2009

Western States 100 - Week 1

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah: 40:31

Forty days until the Western States 100. I had a solid first week of training this past week and totaled out at 61.6 miles. I was able to run 39 miles during the work week and most of that was speed training. The speed training continues to work well and I have been able to knock off a couple of minutes from my standard 8 mile morning run commute.

The week started light with a 50 minute run on the Crossramp stationary trainer and about 30 minutes of upper body weightlifting. Tuesday and Wednesday were morning run commute days along the WO&D / Custis trail. The morning commute has been working out pretty good the route is 8 miles long from East Falls Church Metro station to the Pentagon. The trail itself is an asphalt bike path and has mile markers every ½ mile. The standard on this run has become to run a fartlek or tempo type of run. For the fartlek, I run a 2 mile warmup and a 4 mile fartlek, running hard for a ½ mile and then recovering for a ½ mile, and finish with a 2 mile cool down.
Thursday, I was able to run in to work in the morning and follow up with another 7.5 mile run on the way home, this was from East Falls Church to Vienna Metro, again along the WO&D trail. Friday was supposed to be another 5 miles on the crossramp but things got busy at work and I was unable to get to the gym at lunch.

Saturday was the highlight of the week! At 0730, my daughter Abby and I toed the line for the Girls on the Run (GOTR) 5K. This was the second year that Abby was running this race and we had aspirations for improving the time over last years 37 minutes. Just over 5500 people were in this race, of which about 2400 were 3rd through 6th grade girls. GOTR is an awesome opportunity for young girls to get exposed to the world of running and also work as a group to accomplish a common goal of completing a 5K race.
The race started off a little slow, we were in the 5th corral and had to wait for a good ¼ mile before the crowd started to thin out a little. The first mile or so was in the parking lot of Fair Oaks mall and we were making good time. After leaving the mall parking lot we got ourselves into a couple of pretty good size hills, which Abby did great on. There was an aid station at the half way point and that helped to get Abby motivated for a long climb. Just over 2 miles into the race I could tell that she was starting to feel the pain and we adjusted pace as necessary, but she kept pushing hard and never stopped running, even on the hills. The last ¼ mile was downhill into the finish line and I told her to pick up the pace and finish strong. Well she gave it everything she had, and then some. We were moving fast and about 50 feet prior to the finish Abby said she couldn’t breath, pulled up, and lost her breakfast right in the middle of the road. In true road warrior fashion, she wiped her mouth and ran across the finish line. I could not have been prouder, 34 minutes and 19 seconds.

It was awesome to be able to run with my daughter and to see her accomplish a goal that she had set for herself. She is 11 years old and has completed three 5K’s and a 5 mile trail race, the sky is the limit for her. I think that she has recovered from the embarrassment of the puking episode and is starting to embrace it as a badge of honor, as well she should.

I finished off the week with a great 22 mile run on Sunday morning along a portion of the Fairfax Cross County Trail. We had some big storms on Saturday night and it was still raining a little when I started a 0600 on Sunday. It rained for most of the run but that actually felt pretty good, the trails were incredibly muddy and that made for tricky footing most of the morning. I ran this pretty hard and finished the 22 miles in 3h:21m for about a 9 minute per mile pace.

For the week ahead, I hope to be able to continue with some speed work during the commuter runs and get a 30 mile mountain run in on Saturday along the Appalachian Trail. The goal is to get between 60 and 70 miles for three more weeks and then go into the taper. Like I said before, I have no idea if this training plan will work but I feel like I am able to run better than I was at this time last year and only time will tell. Run Strong!

God Bless and Semper Fi,

Training for 11-17 May: Weekly Mi (61.6), May Mi (154.6), 2009 Mi (915.0)

Mon: 5.5 mi- Crossramp and Upper Body Lift
Tues: 8 mi- (Fartlek) AM Run Commute WO&D Trail, AB
Wed: 8 mi- (Tempo) AM Run Commute WO&D Trail, AB
Thurs: 15.5 mi- AM and PM Run Commute WO&D Trail, AB
Fri: Off
Sat: 3.1- GOTR 5K
Sun: 22 mi- Fairfax CCT

Monday, May 11, 2009

Western States 100 - Week 0

“I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help comes from the Lord, which made Heaven and Earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: He that keepth thee will not slumber.” Psalms 121: 1-4
The Western States Endurance Run is now a mere seven weeks away. I have completed all the races that I plan to run prior to the WSER and will now focus in on seven weeks of training that will hopefully get me in position to make a run at the 24 hour mark on 27-28 June. So the gameplan is to have four intense weeks of training, trying to get 70-80 miles per week of quality miles and then use the last three weeks to taper and rest going into the race.

I have built up a good base and have worked out some bugs on the long races during the first part of the year, but I noticed the recovery from the longer races kept my miles down the week after the race. I am going to concentrate on running shorter but faster runs during the week and mid range runs on the weekend. The incorporation of Fartlek and Tempo runs has made a big difference in my overall physical condition and I plan to increase the use of these techniques during my weekday runs. This is a plan to deviate from, as life has a way of frequently rewriting my schedule, but a plan none the less. I will write a weekly training update, so check back and follow the progress for the next seven weeks.

This past week, I will call it Week-0, was used as a recovery from the 24 Adventure Trail Run. It worked out perfectly, I happened to be on travel to St Louis and it was the perfect time to rest and regroup. I did manage to get a run in on Thursday morning before flying back to DC. I ran 10 miles on the Katy Trail in St Charles, MO. The Katy Trail is a 264 mile bike trail that runs along the Missouri River and provided a good place to run in a busy city environment.

The plan was to get a run in on Saturday and Sunday, however priorities and that life thing intervened on Saturday and when all was said and done the run did not happen. I was able to get out early on Sunday for a 14 mile run around the Bull Run Battlefield. It’s always good to be the first one on the trails at the battlefield before the deer get spooked. Whenever I run out there I keep track of how many deer I see, Sunday was a record breaker at 46.

Although it was a low mileage week, it was a needed recovery for my body and it sets me up nicely for four hard weeks of running. The Lord continues to bless my running efforts and I am constantly reminding myself that, it is through his perfect plan for my life that I am able to continue to forge ahead in this sport of ultra running. I have a deep respect for the challenge that lies ahead in the WSER 100, however I have no fears, for my faith in the Lord is strong and my confidence in His plan is stronger. Run Strong!

God Bless and Semper Fi,

Training for 4-10 May: Weekly Mi (29.0), Monthly Mi (93), Yearly Mi (853.4)
Mon-Wed: Off
Thurs- 10 miles: Katy Trail
Fri: 5 miles: Crossramp
Sat: Off
Sun: 14 miles: Bull Run Battlefield

Thursday, May 7, 2009

24 Hour Adventure Trail Run

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9

Running for 24 hours or running 100 miles, I don’t know which sounds more insane, but I do know that however you slice it, that’s a lot of running. This past Saturday and Sunday I competed in the Athletic Equation 24 Hour Adventure Trail Run. The majority of people running this race were competing in the solo category. I was part of a two man team, along with fellow Marine, Bill Rysanek, competing in the three man team category. The concept for the team categories was that you had to alternate running the 8 mile trail loop and could not run consecutive loops. At first glance the idea of getting a break after each loop sounded pretty good but as the night wore on it became exceedingly difficult to get back out on the trail after the break, more to follow.

This was the fourth year for this event and the fourth year that race directors Alex Papadopoulos and Scott Crabb have donated 50% of the event proceeds to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. As a fundraiser for the IMSFF for the past 2 years, I was thrilled to participate in an event that would make such a gracious gesture. This is only the second Athletic Equation event that I have participated in and once again Alex and Scott put on a quality event. The volunteers that offered there time this weekend were fantastic, thanks for your support.

The run is conducted within the Prince William National Forest, located in Triangle, VA. The course is 8 miles long, set up like a lollypop with a 2 mile out and back (stem) and a 4 mile loop. The start/finish line is headquarter at Camp Miwavi, which provided great support throughout the race. We started at 0700 on Saturday morning and I led off for our team. The strategy for this race was different than a normal ultra, in that I would have a break in between loops. This allowed for some great training as I was able to run pretty hard on each lap and not really worry about pacing for the end of the race.

The course itself was in great shape. The “lollipop stem” at the start of the loop went down the south valley trail along the Quantico Creek and was fairly flat. The start of the 4 mile loop continued down the south valley trail to the mid-point aid station. We then turned left away from the creek and started up the Taylor Farm Road trail, this was one of the bigger climbs on the course. At the top of the hill we turned left onto the High Meadow Trail. This was a great trail that ran for about 2 miles back to the intersection with the South Valley Trail (lollipop stem) and back to the start finish.

Throughout the day there were occasional rain showers that felt pretty nice. The temperature started to climb in the late afternoon and the humidity was very high for the entire race. I was able to run the entire 8 mile loop for the first 4 four of my 8 loops, including all of the hills. Alex said that each loop was about 300’ of elevation change, I think that it was closer to 1000’ per loop. As night started to fall our times started to slow but Bill and I continued to run strong loops. About 2300 it started raining pretty hard and it continued through the rest of the race. I happened to resting when it started raining and it took a lot of motivation to get ready to leave the comfort of Camp Miwavi and head out into the rain to run 8 miles in the dark, in the middle of the night, but we continued to do it.

In the end, Team Fly Marine was able to accumulate 124 miles which was good enough to take first place in the 3 man team category (there were only 2 teams in this category). The race finished off with a great breakfast feast prepared by the volunteers. This race offered a great opportunity to train hard on tired legs and get in some much needed night running. The atmosphere of this event is very family oriented and Alex and Scott really take great care of the runners. Thanks again to the Athletic Equation group for the generous support of the IMSFF, you will certainly reap what you sow. Run Strong!

God Bless and Semper Fi,

Training for 27 April-3 May: Weekly Mi (74.0), Monthly Mi (197.5), Yearly Mi (760.4)
Mon: 5 mi - Crossramp
Tues: Off
Wed: 5 mi - Crossramp 8 mi
Thurs / Fri: Off
Sat / Sun: 24 Hour ATR: 64 Mi

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bull Run Run 50

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9

The Bull Run Run is a 50 mile endurance run that travels up and down the Bull Run-Occoquan River Trail in Clifton, VA. I was fortunate enough to be able to complete the run for the second year in a row on Saturday, 18 April. This is a good run for me for a couple of reasons; the start is only 10 minutes from my house and I am very familiar with the trails, which I think is a huge mental advantage in long races. The race is sponsored by the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club (VHTRC) and they do an incredible job. This race has some of the best volunteer and aid station support of any race I have competed in. Thanks to all of the volunteers for their time and effort.

On to the race – Looking at the weather forecast, I knew that the day was going to start out beautiful but get warm quickly, and it did, with a high hitting almost 80 degrees by early afternoon. I break this race down into 4 sections; the upstream (16.7 mi), downstream (11 mi), Do-Loop (10 mi), and the home stretch (12.5 mi). At 0630, 314
"Photo © Geoffery S. Baker"
runners started out from Hemlock Overlook Park and began the 17th running of the Bull Run Run. After a quick, and I mean quick, .7 mile loop around the park to stretch out the field, we jumped on to single track trail and there we would stay for the remainder of the day and started on the upstream section.
This part of the trail leaves Hemlock and travels up the Bull Run Creek to Bull Run Park. The field was moving very fast, just as it did last year. My feeling was the faster I run now the less I will have to run in the heat, that thought process was flawed,
however it sounded good at the time and I was averaging about 9 minute miles into the first aid station (7 mi). Leaving the first aid station we continued upstream to the turn around point and then started heading back to Hemlock. This portion of the trail, being a pure out and back, gives you the opportunity to see the entire field of runners, everybody was still looking good at this early part of the race. I climbed the big hill into Hemlock and rolled into the aid station (16.7mi) at 2h:39m and was told that I was in 42nd place. After a quick refuel I was onto the downstream section.
Leaving Hemlock we went down the same trail to the river and this time took a left and headed towards Fountainhead Park. This is the toughest portion of the trail, no big mountains just continuous hills of 50 to 200 feet up and down for 11 miles. My aid station time was great during the race and I was able to efficiently get in and out all day, averaging just over a minute per aid station. The Marina aid station was at about 21 miles and provided for a good top off of my water and a couple of Succeed Caps (I took about 15 of these throughout the day). After a couple more big hills I was at the Wolf Shoals Run aid station (26 mi) at 4h 7m and feeling good, all systems were checking out great and I new that it was only 2 miles to Fountainhead and the beginning of the Do-Loop section.

I got into Fountainhead about 20 minutes later and started into the 10 mile Do-Loop section which is actually a couple of loops. The Do-Loop itself is a 3 mile loop on some nasty cross compartment trails, after about a 5 mile approach we got to the Do Loop aid station and entered into loop. For me this section is not as bad as it is for others, I actually enjoy this trail. The hills in this section are short but steep and the trails were still covered in leaves which forced me to concentrate more on foot placement and less on how tired I was getting. After about 30 minutes around the Do-Loop I came back to the aid station refilled and headed back to Fountainhead (38 mi).
I left Fountainhead at about 6h 20m and started the home stretch. A short 2 miles later I was running into Wolf Shoals aid station and then before I knew it I was back at the Marina with only 5 miles to go. The heat was definitely taking its toll and my legs had been on the verge of cramping but they never did. I knew that during this section there were only 2 big hills that would offer me an excuse to walk for a while and I was able to run the rest of the way. The last 2 miles of the course are along the river and they dragged on for a long time and I was happy to finally come up on the last big climb up to Hemlock and the finish. I crossed at 8h 41m 31s, in 32nd place, 10 minutes better than last years time (Results).
I felt exhausted at the end, which told me I had put in a good, hard effort. I think that the speed work I have been incorporating into my workouts has helped tremendously. The Lord continues to bless me and it is once again to Him I give the glory of completing this race. My next event is a mere 2 weeks away, the 24 hour Adventure Trail Run sponsored by Athletic Equations. This event is directed by Alex Papadopoulos and Scott Crabb, big supporters of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. A portion of the proceeds from this race are donated to the fund each year. These guys are a class act and I look forward to seeing them in a couple of weeks. Run Strong!
God Bless and Semper Fi,

Training for 13-19 April: Weekly Mi (63.0), Monthly Mi (134.2), Yearly Mi (697.1)
Mon: 5 mi - Crossramp
Wed: 8 mi – WO&D Trail AM Run Commute / ABs
Sat: 50 mi-Bull Run Run
Sun: Recovery
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