Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Press On!

"Brothers, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead" Phillipians 3:13

This past week I felt like I was finally able to regain a little consistency with my running. With the holidays and some less than cooperative weather, it has been a struggle to maintain the discipline to keep a steady training schedule. I enjoyed a good couple of days off after the Swinging Bridge race and was able to get some chores around the house completed. Since Wednesday, I have been able to run everyday, it's the first 5 day stretch that I have had in while.

I was fortunate this weekend to be able to take the family down to Lake Anna and visit with some friends that have a place on the lake. This provided me an opportunity to run Saturday and Sunday on the trails of Lake Anna State Park. This is the site of my next race, the ICY-8 Hour sponsored by Athletic Equation. The ICY-8 hour is the first timed event that I will have competed in and started thinking on Saturday that I will have to managed the clock for the first time. The race is set up with the option of 2 loops, a longer 8 mile and a shorter 4.7 mile loop. To count toward the total mileage, a loop must be completed prior to the 8 hour time limit. I was able to run 2 of the big loops on Saturday and 1 loop and some additional side trails on Sunday. I am really looking forward to this event in 2 weeks. I think the addition of clock management will keep the race interesting, I'm not usually a fan of loop courses. If anyone has any timed event recommendations, please share, this is new to me.

Most of my training last year was done on a fairly consistent pace, although I varied the terrain, trails, and time of day for a lot of my runs, the effort level was pretty consistent. This year I am going to try and get some "speed work" into the training schedule. Speed is a relative term for me. I am not a track runner and absolutely hate running in small circles and think that I hate sprints even more. I have always been a fan of Fartlek training and on Friday was able to incorporate that into an 8 mile run that I have been doing on the way to work. I usually take the Metro into work for my compute option but have discovered the WO&D and the Custis Trails that allow me to get off the Metro early and run the remaining 8 miles into the Pentagon. It has proved a great way to get my run in early when life and work start to get busy. I hope to be able to maintain the consistent running this coming week, it feels good to be on a schedule again. Run Strong

Semper Fi and God Bless,

Training for 19-25 January: Weekly Mi (37.5), Monthly Mi (123), Yearly Mi (123)

Mon/Tues: Off Lift /
Wed: Lift / Precor EFX 546 CrossRamp (5.5 mi / 50 mins)
Thurs: Off
Fri: 8 mi, WO&D Trail (Fartlek)
Sat: 16 mi, Lake Anna SP trails
Sun: 10 mi, Lake Anna SP trails

Monday, January 19, 2009

Swinging Bridge 50K Trail Run


“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

Saturday I ran the Swinging Bridge 50K Trail Run in Bear Creek State Park, just outside of Richmond, VA. Checking the weather Friday night, I knew that it was going to be cold but did not anticipate seeing -1 degrees on the car thermometer as I stepped out to go to the starting line. I was layer-up pretty good and as you can see by the picture , had very little exposed skin. This event was sponsored by the Richmond Road Runners Club and is advertised as a low key running event. Kevin O’Connor (former Marine, thanks for your service) did an outstanding job as race director and the volunteers were first class and extremely cheerful considering the cold weather, thanks for your support.

About 100 brave souls started the journey down the Willis Creek Trail, however, in the end only 19 would complete the full 50K distance. Since I have been running Ultramarathons, I have picked a “watchword” for each of my races. A word, that I feel, captures my feelings about the event. The word for this race was “Patience”. I have an almost uncontrollable tendency to go out fast early in a race and then slow down. My goal for this race was to run a negative split (run the second half faster than the first half). The course was laid out as two “out and back” sections, the first was about 11 miles, and the second was about 5 miles, so it was difficult to determine the middle point of the race. I decided to try and run a negative split for each section.

The course was almost 100% single track trail and was marked very well, although I still managed to get pulled off track a couple of times. The cold temperatures did have a hidden blessing in that it kept the muddy areas frozen as well as most of the multiple creek crossings. As result I got to keep my feet dry all day.

We started right on time at 0800. The first section was just over 5 miles to the first aid station, it took about 3 miles for the body to start warming up to the point were I needed to uncover my mouth and nose. The trail was mostly gentle hills that were fairly short and that was a welcome relief compared with the mountains that I had faced in my last 3 races. Pulling into the first aid station, I had yet to drink even half of my 20 ounce water bottle, so I opted to grab a couple of Chips Ahoy’s and keep pressing on to the turn around at the “Swinging Bridge”. The next section had a couple of sizeable creek crossings that would have definitely resulted in wet feet had they not been frozen. I reached the turn point in 1h:54m.

I felt good at the turn around and believed that I had been conservative enough to run a negative split. As I attempted to refill my water bottle, I discovered that the top was frozen solid and I didn’t want to waste the time to thaw it out, so I took what I had and headed back down the trail. I was working the top all the way to the next aid station with no success. Luckly, one of the volunteers had a pitcher of hot water set aside that he was using to thaw water bottles. I got the top off, refilled, grabbed some cookies and headed back to the start/finish line. I hit the 22 mile point at 3h:47m, making a negative split by 1 minute…”Patience”.
Although it was warming up, it was still very cold as I started the 5 mile out and back portion of the course as indicated by the frost in the picture . I was starting to feel the effects of the distance and the cold. The second portion of the trail provided more hills than the first and as an added bonus the weather decided to become overcast and the wind picked up. This was actually the coldest section of the course for me. I reached the turn around point in 1h:04m, had sip of coke and gel pack and started toward the finish. It was at this point that I discovered I was in fourth place overall. Having never finished in the top ten in an ultra event, I was pretty fired up and kept the push on to run hard. As I started to pass the rest of the field that was headed down the trail I realized that out of the 100+ people that started there were only a hand full that attempted the full 50K distance (19 to be exact).

I came into the finish at 5h:59m:40s, fourth place overall and first in the 40-49 age group (results). I just missed a negative split on the second section by one minute, however I was very pleased that I was able to “run with patience the race that was set before me”.

As with many tasks in life, our motivation and strength is at its peak at the beginning and as things start to get tough and we grow tired, we slow down. Hebrews 12:1 reminds us to lay aside those burdens and sins that are weighing us down and have the patience to endure the hardships of this life, remembering always the sacrifice that Christ made for us. Run Strong.

Semper Fi and God Bless,

Training for 12-18 January: Weekly Mi (37.5), Yearly Mi (83.5)

Mon: Lift / Precor EFX 546 CrossRamp (5.5 mi / 50 mins)
Tues: Off (not planned to be)
Wed: Lift
Thurs / Fri: Off (not planned to be)
Sat: 32 mi, Swinging Bridge 50K (5h:59m:40s)
Sun: Recover

Monday, January 12, 2009


Hello all. This is my first journey into the world of Blogging. As it says in my profile, I am a Christian Ultrarunner, husband and father of four wonderful children, and a career United States Marine. I have only been running Ultramarathon distance for about two years. Initially, I started running these distances as a personal challenge but as the time ticked away on training runs I began to think that there must be something other than selfish personal interest to gain. I got myself involved with the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. Established in May 2004, the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund is a nonprofit organization that has provided over 11,000 grants totaling over $26 million in assistance to our Nation's OEF/OIF wounded heroes and families. I established a fundraising website and with the help of some great Patriots was able to raise more than $7500.00 for the IMSFF throughout 2008. I plan to continue to raise funds this year with the intent of raising awareness of the needs of our wounded American Heroes http://www.active.com/donate/semperfifund/MHuff8.

My goal race this year is the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, 27-28 June http://www.ws100.com/. The race is a 100 mile long ultramarathon that takes place on trails in California's Sierra Nevada annually. The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elev. 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elev. 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 feet in the first 4.5 miles. Runners then travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn. Runners finishing before the 30 hour overall time limit for the race receive a bronze belt buckle, while runners finishing in less than 24 hours receive a silver belt buckle. The Western States Endurance Run is one of the premier ultrarunning events in the world. My intent is to finish the Western States in less than 24 hours. I was supposed to run this race last year; however it was cancelled due to numerous wildfires in the vicinity of the trail. I plan to try and provide a weekly update and recap of training accomplished. I have scheduled quite a few work-up races that I will also provide race reports on. My first race of the year will be this Saturday, the Swinging Bridge 50K http://www.rrrc.org/events/swinging-bridge-35-50k-1 .

I will say that much like the rocky and hilly trails of ultramarathons, my life as a Christian has had it’s ups and downs and rocky points, but Faith endures. One thing that time on the trails has provided me is an opportunity to strengthen my personal relationship with God. There is great satisfaction for me, to get to a point of fatigue that requires me to look beyond myself for strength, and for me, that additional strength is found in Faith. The Lord has blessed me with the ability to run long distance and with that I have been able to raise funds for an extremely worthy cause, hopefully inspire a few people to take to the trails and try something that they might not have attempted, and also share my testimony of how Christ has provided a purpose for life as a Christian, Husband, Father, Marine and a Runner. Please keep checking back for updates, comments and suggestions are appreciated.

Training for 5-11 January: Weekly Mi (36), Yearly Mi (46)

Mon: Precor EFX 546 CrossRamp (5.5 mi / 50 mins)
Tues: Lift / AB
Wed: CrossRamp (7.5 mi / 1 hr) / Pull Ups
Thurs / Fri: Off (not planned to be)
Sat: 10 mi, Wakefield Park
Sun: 13 mi, Bull Run Battlefield
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