Blog Subtitle

Reverse-engineering the Ultramarathon

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

2015 Laurel Highlands Ultra

How did I fail thee? Let me count the ways...


Ohiopyle Falls at about 5:00 AM, June 13th, 2015
The race starts just behind me.

An ultra lister who is a pretty darned accomplished runner kind of liked my last race report - even tweeted about it. She said she liked reports where the runner talks about what they learned. There should be a lot to like about this one then.

D.N.F. - "Did Not Finish." Maybe the only way to make those letters hurt less is to make them educational.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

2015 3 Days at the Fair 72-hour

How to not do 200 Miles in a 72-hour Race


When my plan went south (fourth row down).
When you choose a goal for a race, if you're serious about improvement as a runner, you choose an ambitious goal. You should not be afraid to aim much farther or faster than you have ever gone before. Somewhere ahead there is a perfect point of balance between self-limiting beliefs and crazy, unrealistic expectations.

This is ultimately the story of how the goal was right, how I failed to reach it, and why I am nevertheless very proud and satisfied with what I accomplished at this year's 3 Days at the Fair (3DATF) 72-hour ultra.

For those who waded through my report from last year, I will share another goal I have set for myself: that this report will break with my tradition of writing race reports of a length proportional to the number of miles I ran! Let's see how I do...

Sunday, February 8, 2015

What I Do


"I wish I could do what you do."
"I'd love to be able to do what you do."

There are other variations, but this is a sentiment that I hear from time to time in one form or another. Generally I don't take it as more than what I think is intended. For most, it's more a manner of delivering a compliment than it is a genuine wish (or at least very serious one). I understand then the extent to which I may be going off into left field a bit in the rest of this post by making something more of it than it really is. Bear with me though. I have a point, and it's a point for anyone who means it literally when they say these things.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2014 Mendon Ponds 50K


Just a Decision


I always thought that my first DNF would come with some drama. Surely it would come in a big race, a goal race, and would only come after a lot of agonizing, and after pushing myself to the absolute limit of what I could do. Certainly it wouldn't happen in a 'little' 50K that I'd already finished three times before!

Well, ultrarunning continues to be a learning experience.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2014 CanLake 50M

Try Try Again


Here we go again! Power-hiking the first major climb up to Coye Rd.
(Photo credit - Natalie Werner)
Last year's CanLake 50-miler sold me on the race for as long as I'm able to do it. Unless you are absolutely opposed to running on roads there is, in my opinion, no way to dislike this race. If you read my report from last year you know just what a gorgeous scenic experience it is. This year was just as beautiful, with the turning fall foliage and the sweeping lake country vistas - and the weather was even better! Temperatures at the start were somewhere near 40F and the high for the day was predicted to be in the mid-50's. Light wind and only a slight chance of rain were in the forecast.

Conditions were perfect.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Vol State Vignettes

The 2014 Last Annual Vol State Road Race


(Photo credit - Jan Redmond Walker)
"a run like this is not just a race
it can be (is) a life changing experience.
vol state is a journey thru personal hell
you WILL be discouraged.
you WILL feel self doubt.
you WILL want to quit.
but if you persevere.
if you dog it out, step by step.
you will find in yourself a strength you never knew existed."

Lazarus Lake, Race Director, the Last Annual Vol State Road Race

How do you distill an experience like the Vol State down to something readable, to something comprehensible? How do you convey to the interested reader who has not run the race what the experience is like? In the end that effort must fail, because no one who has not done it can understand how truly awful it is, how long, hard, painful and hence - ultimately - uplifting, empowering, glorious... it actually is.

I could write a nuts-and-bolts account of what happened to my daughter Kim and me as we experienced the 2014 Last Annual Vol State Road Race. 'First we went here, then we went there. This is what we did and this is what we ate.' That would tell you something, but it would not explain the Vol State.

Let me try instead to just tell some stories...

- Chapter 1: "Dad? It's a really long way from where we left the van."
- Chapter 2: Sunshine
- Chapter 3: Abi
- Chapter 4: Creatures of the Night
- Chapter 5: Going Feral
- Chapter 6: The Problem of Pain
- Chapter 7: Road Angels
- Chapter 8: The Long March
- Chapter 9: Roadkill
- Chapter 10: A New Day
- Chapter 11: Diane
- Chapter 12: Despair Cannot be Scheduled
- Chapter 13: Bad Dog!
- Chapter 14: The 'McHenri Nation'
- Chapter 15: "How y'all doin'?"
- Chapter 16: Pampered Cheaters (or "Love Diane!")
- Chapter 17: Doubt vs. Destiny
- Chapter 18: Destiny
- Chapter 19: Denouement

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dear Runnerfolk, We've Been Sold a Bill of Goods!

Hello there, my blog-reading public! This post marks the beginning of what might become a new regular feature of this blog. As I develop as a runner and as I consume and digest more knowledge and opinion about the sport of long-distance running (and ultrarunning in particular) and as an engineer and an analyzer, I find myself coming to a number of strong opinions on various topics related to training and running.

Also, having recently joined Facebook and begun collecting a good number of friends in various running communities, I find myself increasingly tempted to jump into conversations of those friends (or friends of those friends) with this 'sage wisdom' with which three years of training for and running ultras has endowed me. In other words, I'm tempted to be a real jerk!

In an attempt to save me from that fate, I am launching "Dear Runnerfolk" here on my blog as a place for me to vent some of these opinions without pushing them. Anyone interested can come and read my rants here. No one uninterested will be forced to read around them or be offended by them in a conversation they're otherwise happy with!

Ain't I a considerate guy?

Well, with that as an explanation for what's to come, lets jump into this inaugural post!