Blog Subtitle

Reverse-engineering the Ultramarathon

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

2016 Laurel Highlands Ultra

Journey's End


The northern end of Laurel Ridge, as seen from Scalp Ave. in Johnstown, PA.
The Conemaugh Gap is visible on the right.
The Conemaugh Gap.
(Photo credit - Google Maps)
It was just as I'd always pictured it. I mean exactly as I'd always pictured it. So rarely do you spend years imagining a thing, visualizing it, daydreaming it, and then have the reality turn out so much like what the mind's eye had been able to conjure.

I had known it was coming for at least two miles. The sound of a long train slowly wending its way through the deep, narrow chasm known as the Conemaugh Gap carries far at night through still, humid, early-summer air - and there are two rail lines through there, one on each side of the river, terraced into the steep flanks of the gorge, along with (on the north side) Cramer Pike and (on the south side) Haws Pike, carrying car traffic.

For at least two miles I had heard the low rumble off and on and had told myself excitedly, "That must be train traffic going through the Gap!" Soon I would be there. Soon I would see.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Enjoying the Journey - 2016 (part 2)

Pennsylvania's state flower - and the source of Laurel Ridge's name.
Seven years.

I've not been writing "Enjoying the Journey" posts that long, but I've been on the journey that long. It was seven years ago (maybe even this month) that I devoured "Born to Run" while on vacation at my parents' home near Johnstown, PA. I was enthralled by the idea of running unheard-of distances on rugged trails in beautiful places! I'd been working on my health and fitness for a couple of years and I was looking for something to serve as a challenge and a source of goals and motivation, and I knew immediately that I had found it.

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.