Blog Subtitle

Reverse-engineering the Ultramarathon

Saturday, November 24, 2012

2012 Mendon Ponds 50K

Photo credit: Richard Detweiler

A Year of Running - Epilogue

What a difference a year can make.

Mendon Ponds 2011 was my second ultra. I'd come to ultramarathons in the way quite a few people do these days... clueless. Oh I suppose a lot of ultra noobs have at least some running and racing experience. Some have a lot. But the publication of Dean Karnazes' popular book, "Ultramarathon Man" and of Christopher McDougall's, "Born to Run," convinced more than a few knuckleheads like me with little real running experience that we should run extreme long distance races.

On trails.

No, really.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Little things mean a lot to me...

When you’re not fast and increasingly suspect you’re not going to be, you take pleasure in other small victories.

I sat cross-legged yesterday.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Seasons of Running

Through the miracle of the internet I’m connected with runners all over the world. Runners live in places that collectively span the full range of climate options this planet Earth has to offer. Each year, as the seasons change, we connect with each other and variously brag and complain about the new weather we are faced with as we pursue our passion for putting one foot in front of the other.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Virgil Crest 50 Mile

Facing the Monster

View from near the top of the Alpine Loop, at about mile 11
(The start/finish is at Hope Lake, center)

Last Saturday, September 22nd, it was finally time to face the monster. Almost a full year ago, fresh off of my first ultra finish at Oil Creek 50K and beginning to think about a challenging goal race for this year, the Virgil Crest 50M captured my imagination.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Power of a Crazy Idea

This guy has finished four ultramarathon races (so far)...

... because this guy believed that he could.

(Note: an 'ultramarathon' is a race of longer than the standard marathon
distance of 26.2 miles. Many 'ultras' are run on rugged mountain trails.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 Laurel Highlands 50K

A Study in the Letter 'H'

Ohiopyle Falls - Ohiopyle, PA - June 9. 2012
The image above is of the beautiful falls in Ohiopyle Pennsylvania. At twenty feet in height the falls are far from the tallest you will ever see, but they are quite impressive as the full flow of the Youghiogheny River ("yock-o-gay-knee" - or simply, "the Yock" to locals) plunges over the drop with a roar.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Just a Little Trail Run with my Girl

2012 Highland Forest 1-2-3

Here we are at the finish sporting our matching
"Big Dog Trail Runners" shirts
(Photo credit - Karen McHenry)

Yesterday my daughter Kim and I did the Highland Forest 1-2-3 together. The HF course is a ten mile loop through Highland Forest County Park in Onondaga County. Each loop has about 1400' of elevation gain (and 1400' of descent). You register for the number of loops you want to do (hence the '1-2-3') but you can change your mind on race day - mid-race even.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Walk like a Duck, Run like a Duck

Mind the Ducks 12-hour

(All photos credit Tom Perry unless otherwise noted)

Beautiful view from the southern end of Trout Lake

I think the picture above tells you everything you need to know about the beautiful day and setting we had for Mind the Ducks 12-hour on Saturday, May 12, 2012 at Seneca Park in Rochester, NY. The half-mile (actually a certified .4902 mile) walking path around this scenic pond is, IMHO, a perfect place for a timed race.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Are we really sure there's not a recipe book?

John Morelock, a veteran ultrarunner and regular columnist in Ultrarunning Magazine wrote eloquently recently about the lack of a recipe book for how to run ultras. How very true, and how slow I am to learn the only real way we can – by doing. Starting into this in late middle-age gave me a sense of urgency about making the most of it while I can, but no matter how many times I try, I cannot by sheer determination of will overcome the need for patience.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Warrior Waddle

Sometimes running seems like a pretty selfish pastime - the hours spent training and recovering from workouts take away from other things you could (and sometimes should) be doing. The constant desire to schedule the rest of your life around your running can be disruptive to the lives of others around you - to those closest to you.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Some thoughts on hitting a new milestone in my running life: 200+ miles in a single month. It was just this time last year that I was anxiously looking at my logs, wondering when I would hit the magical mark of 100 miles in a month - right before I crashed and burned. It would be six more months after running a peak of 92.7 miles last April before I finally cracked the three-digit barrier - in October, the month I ran my first ultra.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

One for the Heart

A little color beside the trail
Woke up feeling kind of crappy today - like so much warmed-over yesterday. You know how sometimes when you take a day off the body can just sort of go all whiny on you?

"Hey, feel that twinge behind that knee?  That wasn't there yesterday. And that chronically achy spot in that left foot hasn't gone away yet either.  Maybe we better take another day off. It'll do us good, right?"

And then I noticed something else: I didn't want to go out and run. The day was gray to match my mood and the sky was threatening rain. I didn't really have a plan for where I was going to run, I didn't feel like getting wet, and I was sick of all of the places I've been running so much lately. Another trot down the Erie Canal trail? Meh. And the neighborhood loop? Yuck! I couldn't even work up any enthusiasm to go out to one of the local trails.

This was bad.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Training Talk, Part 2 - A More Excellent Way

Dark Shade Creek (near Windber, PA) - Thanksgiving morning, 2011

In Part 1 of this topic I shared something of my training history and results prior to my first ultra.  The conclusion of that story was that a change in my training was badly needed.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Training Talk, Part 1 - A Hacker's Approach

This blog is named "The Running Hacker" for a reason.

The reason is that unlike a lot of people trying to run ultras, I have no background in running.  No experience.  I came to this knowing pretty much nothing about training for endurance.  A lot of people figure they should run a marathon before even thinking about moving up to ultras.  Many in the sport are long-time marathoners or triathletes.  Many are former high-school and college track competitors who have been running all their lives.

Me?  I'm a life-long non-athlete.  In high school I was in the band.  My only history with running is that I ran everywhere when I was a kid (think short sprints, not long slow distance) and later in life I always gravitated to running during my brief periods of 'getting in shape.'  I never ran much in terms of weekly mileage, and I never kept it up for long.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Unveiling the Monster

All the way back in October in a post I called "That Sinking Soaring Feeling" I talked about the race that I was seriously considering making my goal race for 2012.  I called it a 'monster,' and the idea of entering it both thrilled and frightened me.

Well, I'm in - and here for the first time (for my massive reading audience) I am unveiling the monster!

Monday, January 9, 2012