Blog Subtitle

Reverse-engineering the Ultramarathon

Monday, May 16, 2016

2016 Thom Bugliosi Trail Runs 52K


The Thom Bugliosi Trail Runs (the "Thom B") is the first trail race I ever entered. Way back in 2010, just less than a year after I learned of ultramarathons and decided I wanted to do them, I thought I was ready to start trying some shorter trail races as training for 'the big one' I had in mind later that summer. I found two promising options that May: The Highland Forest 1-2-3 toward the end of the month, where I could try twenty miles, and a few weeks before that, the Thom B - offering 13K and 26K options. I think I signed up for the 26K that year.

Then I rolled my ankle pretty badly on a training run in April. I had to skip the Thom B, but was able to slog my way through Highland Forest wearing an ankle brace. 'The big one' didn't happen that year either. I was still an awful long way from ready for an ultra at that point, but that's a whole other story.

For various reasons Thom B never made it back into my plans after that. I stayed aware of the race and noticed with interest that they added a 52K option in 2014. There always seems to be other things I'd rather do in May though. That changed this year when I cleared the deck to focus on preparation for a serious attempt at Laurel Highlands in June and then started thinking about races to put on the calendar that fit with that focus. Suddenly Thom B made perfect sense and I happily registered.

Monday, March 21, 2016

2016 Mt. Tammany 10!

Blood on the Mountain



If you're one of those "death before DNF" ultrarunners, you may want to take note that I am alive in the photo above. I will just put the spoiler right up front here and tell you that this race report will not have the storybook ending. Those of you who remember that in the first movie, Rocky lost - and that somehow it was still a good movie anyway - read on. I won't promise a story that good, but I'll do the best I can.

Friday, February 12, 2016

2015 Mendon Ponds 50K

The Forgotten Race


Waiting for the start - with friends.

Well, I guess I've come quite some way down the road as an ultrarunner now. It's been three months since I ran my fifth Mendon 50K and I haven't written a race report yet. In fact I'd almost forgotten about it (and it was my current trail PR at this distance).

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dear Runnerfolk, Is Survival Enough?

Before I get to the meat of what will likely be viewed as a post full of unacceptable negativity, let me tell you a little story of how I used to be the person I'll be talking to.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Race for the Ages


The more things change...
(Photo credit - John Price)
All ultras are races. Some are more serious than others.
All ultras are social events. Some more so than others.

Perhaps more than any other race I have run, A Race for the Ages (ARFTA) was both in great measure.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Long View - How I Train for Ultras

In 2006 (before my time in ultrarunning) there was a controversy at the finish of the Western States 100. Front runner Brian Morrison collapsed a few times in the final 300 meters of the race (inside the stadium at Auburn) and was disqualified because he was helped up on his way to the finish line by his pacers (one of whom was Scott Jurek).


A brief account of the controversy is still accessible on Scott Dunlap's blog.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Call of the Open Road

One Year Later - A Look Back at the Vol State


Somewhere along a road in Tennessee, July 2014
(Photo credit - Donald Brown)
It is hot - really hot - as I work my way through my "J-D Hilly Loop" running route - about six miles, some of which traverses the grounds of the Jamesville-Dewitt High School. It's 2:00 in the afternoon, near the peak heat of a hot day, and it is humid too. I feel the heat saturating me and beginning to radiate into the environment - not quickly enough - as I trot the bigger climbs.

Why am I out here doing this now, when I could have waited for the relative cool of evening? It's because of my Vol State brothers and sisters who are on the open road in Tennessee at this very same hour, in the heat of the fourth day of their race. I have been where they are, and I want to feel that kinship in a tangible way.

My run ended, I return to the house. The sweat is just pouring off me and I am dying for a cold shower to take the edge off. I pick up my phone to check the current weather stats: it says 80 degrees and I laugh! It is probably at least a few degrees hotter out there in reality, but it isn't the assumed inaccuracy that amuses me. It's the width of the vast gulf that separates my sincere attempt at 'solidarity' from the reality of what my brothers and sisters are experiencing!

Each day this year in Tennessee has reached the mid-90's and the dew points have been in the mid-70's. As someone pointed out on the ultra list, those numbers combine to produce heat indices (the 'feels like' temperatures that the weather services report) higher than in Death Valley, California. Eighty people started the race this year and as I write these lines sixty-six are left - and that, my friends, may well be the closest thing to a miracle that human beings are capable of creating.