Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011 Team inov-8 USA

Original post from on the team website

We are pleased to announce 2011 Team Inov-8. We have some new athletes and some familiar faces as well. This year’s team is smaller in numbers but we feel this team is even stronger. A bold statement considering the 2010 Team produced some incredible performances with over 215 podium finishes. These results ranged from victories at the local level to national level events. We won several US National Championships at various running distances. In addition we had athletes representing the team and the US at World Cup Events.

Our athletes are chosen not just based upon high performance levels but also ambassadorship qualities to their respective sport. We hope to build upon both in 2011. We look forward to many more inspiring performances and stories this upcoming year. Here is this year's team, their sport(s) of choice and a notable accomplishment or two from 2010:

Viktor Alexy – Trail/Mtn/Ultra - X-Trail Mont Sutton 21k & X-Trail Mont Orford 23k Champion

Sean Andrish – Ultrarunning – Bel Monte 50k Champion, Southern Massanutten 54 Mile Champion

Jonathan Basham – Ultrarunning & Speed Hike - Finisher Barkley Marathons (9th finisher ever)

Katie Caba – Trail/Mtn/Road – USATF Trail Marathon Female National Champion

Eric Charette – Ultrarunning- Keyes Peak Trail Marathon Champion

Yassine Diboun – Ultrarunning – Peterson Ridge Rumble 60k & Silver State 50k Champion

Scott Dunlap - Ultrarunning - USATF Ultra Men Master Runner of the Year

Gary Gellin – Ultrarunning – 4th OA / 1st Master - Way to Cool 50k

Joe Gray - Mtn/Trail – USA Mtn Running Team Member (3 yrs), USATF Mtn Runner of the Year

Michele Hartwig – Ultrarunning – 2nd OA Female Fans 12 Hr and Illinois Ultra Grandslam

Camille Herron – Mtn/Road – Palos Bank Half Marathon Champion, 3rd Female Papa Johns 10 Mile

Dave James – Ultrarunning – WV RRCA State Marathon Champion, 2nd OA USATF 50 Mile National Championships

Jim Johnson – Trail/Road – GSSS Series & WMAC Series Snowshoe Champion, Soapstone 24k Champion

Amy Lane – Ultrarunning – Pittsfield Peak 54 & Stonecat 50 Mile Female Champion

Gina Lucrezi - Mtn / Trail – USATF Trail 10k National Champion, USATF Trail Series Female Winner

Mark Lundblad – Trail/Ultra– Uhwarrie & Pine Mtn 40 Mile Champion

Anne Lundblad – Trail/Ultra – Umstead Trail Marathon Champion, 2nd OA USATF 24 Hr. National Championships

Abby Mahoney – Mtn/Trail – 2010 WMAC Grand Tree Series - Women’s Champion

Peter Maksimow – Mtn/Trail/Road – Pikes Peak Winter Series Champion, Mt Baldy Run Champion

Tommy Manning – Mtn/Trail/Road- Coal Creek XC, Pony Express Trail, Berry Picker Trail Champion

Andy Martin – Ultrarunning – Gore-Tex Transrockies Elite Men’s Team Champion, Chuckanut 50k Champion

Dane Mitchell – Trail/Ultra– Mt.Cheaha 50k, Oak Mtn 50k, Rock/Creek Scenic City Marathon Champion (all CR's)

Joe Moore – Trail/Road – Roanoke Canal Trail Half & Inside Out Sports Half Marathon Champion

Sabrina Moran – Trail/Ultra/Road- 2nd Female Umstead 100 mile, Back On My Feet 24 HR Champion (CR)

Amber Moran – Trail/Road – Chichester Priory 10k, Dupont 12k Trail, The Bear 5 Mile Champion

Ben Nephew - Mtn/Trail/Ultrarunning– Stonecat 50 Mile and Escarpment 30k Champion

Alex Nichols – Mtn/Trail – 2010 American Discovery Trail Marathon Champion (CR)

Chris Reed – Ultrarunning – 2nd OA MMTR 100 Mile, Grindstone 100 Mile & Hellgate 100k

Sam Robinson – Trail/Road – Xterra Redwood Park Trail Race & PCTR Big Basin Trail Run Champion

DeWayne Satterfield – Ultrarunning – Dizzy Trail Ultra 40 miles and Black Warrior 50k Champion

Jared Scott – Mtn/Trail/Road – Soulstice Trail Race and Flagstaff Half Marathon Champion

Jamesina Simpson – Mtn/Trail/Ultra – Shiprock & Grizzly Half Marathon Champion

Dwight Shuler – Xterra/Ultrarunning – Tsali Challenge & Elk River Challenge Champion

Sophie Speidel – Ultrarunning –1st Female Master MMTR 50 Mile, Three Bridges Marathon Champion

John Storkamp – Ultrarunning - Zumbro 100 Mile & Fans 12 Hour (85.5 miles) Champion

Kevin Tilton - Mtn/Trail/Road – Cranmore Hill Climb, Merrimack Trail Race, & Mtn Epic Champion

Ryan Woods – Trail/Mtn/Road – Squaw Valley Mtn Run, Jemez Mtn Half, Mt Penn Mudfest Champion

Team Yoga Slackers – Adventure Racing – Gold Rush 24 hr, Desert Winds 24hr and Sprint Champions

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2010 Year in Pictures

Let me first say that none of this would be possible without the support of my friends, family, crew, sponsors and my dogs. Looking back, I have had an amazing year of running races and adventures across the country as shown by the photos and captions below. I am thankful for each step I take in running shoes and constantly counting my blessings that I am healthy enough for my feet to carry me to these destinations.


In January I was lucky enough to sneak away from a sales meeting at work to discover the hidden gem known as Camelback, located in the Echo Canyon Recreation Area of Phoenix.  I was running against daylight but made it to the top of this 1,280' climb over less than 2 miles to take in some great sights of the valley below.

Attempting to run fast from the start was not a recipe for success at Mountain Mist 50km as despite a strong first 25 miles, I was eaten up by McKay Hollow and finished off of my goal with a time of 4:35:09.  It marked my second consequtive 6th place finish at this mighty race.

Planning for a May 1st start, Rob Youngren and I state our intent to set the fastest known time on the 335 mile Pinhoti Trail. This photo becomes the banner of the website that would track our progress and January marks the start of a long and brutal training schedule to get ready.


Going for one final tune up before Mount Cheaha 50km the week after, I tested the waters at Black Warrior 25km.  The course was as muddy and wet as ever, and my strategy to keep Dane Mitchell in sight proved to be fool hardy as I slipped from 2nd into 4th as stronger runners Tim Vinson and Rob Youngren made short work of me at the 15km mark.

Running the course for the first time, I was able to notch the 11th fastest time ever at Mount Cheaha 50km in late February.  This was a very fast year as 5 others posted times in the top 10, all time.  My goal was to be under five hours, so I was very happy with a 4:54:07.  The day after, Eric Fritz and I ran from Adams Gap back to the lodge as training for Pinhoti Adventure Run was full on.


While in Seattle for business I was able to get away to Mount Si, which features a 4 mile trail to the summit, climbing nearly 3,200' along the way. After the 8 miles up and down to take in views of Mount Rainer, I put in 13 more miles at the more tame Tiger Mountain, picture here along the aptly named "Lost Beagle Trail."

In an apathetic performance, I ran out too strong at UAH 10km and would fall from 2nd (shown above) into 4th overall in the final 5km.  All of the endurance training and lack of speed work had officially taken its toll.

In early March at Delano Park, I set out to run just my second 50 mile race on the flat and fast 1-mile looped course. I held strong for the first 50km, but then began to lose focus and the pace fell dramatically until mile 40. I managed to catch a second wind and actually thought I was on the lead lap for awhile, passing into first at mile 45, but I was still a lap down and took 2nd place in a time of 7:14:16.

Bearing the pressure of wearing the number 1 bib for the second year in a row and being far from in short distance trail shape, I lead the race for the first half before David O'Keefe passed me and never looked back. David had been training specifically for this race since the turn of the year and I was no match for him. Making things worse, I was passed on the final approach to Death Trail by David Purinton and mentally had given up on the final climb. I finished with a disappointing 2:02:50 and 3rd place overall. My streak of lackluster performances continued on...

The day after Mckay Hollow, our Pinhoti AR crew ran the first annual (maybe to never be repeated) Bushwhacker Marathon. After a few test runs, some recon work and plenty of map studying, the crew set out on Monte Sano and ran the ridgeline south to the Tennessee River in a time of 6:15:58 with a 4-way tie for first overall.

Continuing the preparation for Pinhoti, Eric Fritz and I drive over to the Sipsey Wilderness for a long run, taking frequent dips into the icy streams. Along the way, we manage to locate "Big Tree" which is one of the oldest and biggest trees in the state. Shown here, it is easy to tell how big it really is.


Trying to feel fast one more time before Pinhoti Trail AR, I went over to run Swampers 5km in Florence for the first time. This flat and fast course finishes with a lap on the track in one of the best venue's out there for a 5km. I ran smart and even for 17 minutes and 29 seconds, finishing in 3rd place overall.


After months of training and hundreds of miles run, we set out from Flagg Mountain Alabama as the start of the 335 mile Pinhoti Trail Adventure Run where Rob Youngren and I would attempt to set the fastest known time for the trail. Here were are in the fog at the start of day 1, where we would log 52.3 miles

Laying atop a rock on Stairway to Heaven on Day 2 of Pinhoti, this picture shows the utter fatigue in my body. Joining us on day two was John Nevels through this brutal section and later David Riddle would pace along with us as well. We logged 48.7 miles on day two in just over 14 hours. In the first 38 hours, we had run just over a hundred miles.

Issues with my footwear on the 3rd and 4th day of Pinhoti caused me to fall back from Rob and the rest of the pack. I managed 35 miles on day 3 and decided that it was in my best interest to push through to the state line and then move on to a support role. Picture here is a sample of how badly my feet were chewed up.

In what can only be described as an emotional moment, I make it to the Alabama/Georgia State line with the help of my pacers and crew in 4 days 5 hours 39 minutes and 25 seconds for the 171.2 mile trail from Flagg Mountain to the Alabama/Georgia State Line. I was joined along the way by Joey Butler, Eric Fritz, Blake Thompson, Sarah Bowden and Dink Taylor on the final 10 miles. I spend a few minutes quietly at the state line by myself considering the pain of the journey, before coming down off the mountain.

On the final day of the Pinhoti Trail Adventure Run, Rob Youngren reaches to the Benton Mackaye Trailhead in 6 days, 8 hours and 48 minutes, earning him the distinction of having the fastest known time for the 335 mile trail. I put aside my pain to run the final 25 miles with him on this day and here we are shaking hands at the "finish" line.

Yearning to have immediate success after after Pinhoti, I traveled to Chattanooga with friends to race the Scenic City Half Marathon atop Raccoon Mountain. Mentally I was healed from the the battle wounds of Pinhoti, but physically I was in shambles. Despite a 4th place finish, I was passed by quite a few people running the two-loop marathon. After this race I was forced to re-evaluate my running for the rest of the year.

With just a few weeks of speed work, I was able to run a personal best 36:16 at Cotton Row, placing me 27th overall, matching my 27th bib (seed) number. In the process, I also earned my first age group award in the 10km. Just 90 minutes and a jersey change later, I came back and ran the 5km in 18 flat, finishing in 8th overall and taking another age group medal. Five months through the year and three weeks after Pinhoti, things seem to be turning around.


Early June is spent at Glacier National Park in Montana exploring the US Rockies.

Leaving Montana and heading for Banff enables me to spend some time in the Canadian Rockies and climb the nearby peaks around Lake Louise with some amazing vistas.

In the race that I love to hate, yet keep running every year is the Alabama A&M 10km. Each year I run great through the out and back first 5km section and then suffer on the two loop final 5km. I walked up the hill both times and after being passed by Jon Elmore, I pass back late and finished strong for 3rd place overall. You have to love a 10km race where the coveted trophy is for runners under 40 minutes.

In one of my proudest moments as a runner, I returned home to compete in the first ever Keyes Peak Trail Marathon. It was a two man race from the start and after pulling away after the first 5 miles, I went on to run 3:19:55 and set the standard for future runnings of this race. Keyes Peak is just 30 minutes from my parents home in Kingsford, MI and the race featured a swim across the quickly moving Pine River at mile 18 which was very unique. Picture here was the proud winner with his even more proud father on the cover of the Iron Mountain Daily News sports page.


In an event that I had wanted to contest for many years, I managed to find the time for the Run the Keweenaw Stage Race in July. This unique, three event race features a 6km hill summit on Saturday morning up Mount Baldy (pictured here), 12km trail race on Saturday night and a 25km trail race on Sunday morning. I managed 4th, 3rd and 3rd for the three events, earning me 3rd place overall for the weekend. This was a great experience to catch up with old friend Danny Dehlin and his wife Lindsay and spend time in beautiful Copper Harbor Michigan.

Making my way back to Huntsville for a weekend of work, I ran the very competitive Twilight 5km on UAH Campus. The conditions were very warm and humid for this evening race and I was able to run one second faster than the previous year and finish in 4th, behind the best runners in town, Josh Whitehead, Lucas Sieb and Blaise Binns. I looked at this race as a mark in the sand for my training which was starting to improve steadily.

On the final day of July, I decided to drive over to Iron River, Michigan and run the Windsor Rodeo 10km. Not having any idea on the level of competition in advance, or knowing which runners were contesting the 5km versus the 10km, I went out hard in this hilly course. I took the lead at the 2 mile mark, realizing then that the two runners I had just passed were in the 5km, which made for a long and lonely final 4 miles. I stayed focused for the duration and ran a season best sub 36, taking the overall win.


On the final day of my summer stay in Michigan, I laced up my new inov-8 x-talon 212's for the Lake Antoine Classic 15km. I had previously finished 2nd in the 15km trail race and won the 5 mile race two years prior. I ran the first 8 miles with Anders Nienstaedt, a collegiate cross country runner who attended Kingsford High School, my alma mader. He had never raced at this distance, but he proved to be too strong for me as he pulled away late and I finished in 2nd place again. My time was just a second off of my personal best for 15km which was very encouraging as this trail course is not fast whatsoever and it was very warm on race day. I would happily take the 2nd place as I began the long drive back to Huntsville.

During a stretch where I was racing nearly every weekend, I went to Decatur to contest Brooke Hill 5km. This race uses the same course as the Frosty Freeze, which I had run in December of 2009. One of my goals is to run every race in this northern Alabama area at least one time, so this race fit into my schedule well. In the back and forth battle that I was in with Donald Bowman, he and I ran neck and neck through the first mile. Unfortunately, the split was in the wrong location, so despite us running 5:30 pace, the time was called slow and Donald picked up the pace, putting time and distance on me that I would not be able to reclaim. It turned out to be another 2nd place finish where I ran too fast at the start and died in the final mile.

While on business in Seattle, I found a local trail half marathon on Saturday morning at Squak Mountain which made the fact that I had a Friday meeting on the west coast not seem so bad. This course featured a killer climb from miles 2 to 4 where there was a 1,400' climb to the summit. My goal for the day was not only to take the win, but also to run under 2 hours, enabling me to make it to the airport in time to fly home. Any later than two hours and I would miss my flight home. I held onto the lead early but was no match for the winner on the hills and would go on to finish in 2nd place with a time of an hour and 55 minutes, barely making my flights home!

On the flat and fast Running of the Bulls 5km, I decided to employ a smarter strategy against Donald Bowman than the one I used two weeks prior at Brooke Hill. I would stay with him through the duration, drafting and pacing closely behind and make my move in the final stretch near the high way crossing. Together we ran through 2 miles at an even 5:28 pace but it proved to be too much for me on this day and I faded slightly with a half mile to go and finished in 2nd place again. This would mark four second place finishes for me in the month of August; I was ready to step up my training to another level to be competitive for the win, not a second best.


Traveling to the flat and fast Care Center 5km in New Hope, Alabama proved to be the winning formula that I had missed in August as I took the pace out quickly and ran away from the pack for the overall win. More importantly, I was able to run under 17 minutes for the first time in nearly two years after numerous unsuccessful attempts since. My time of 16:47 was 36 seconds better than David O'Keefe as the minimal turn course treated me well and my hard work on the track and with tempo runs finally paid dividends.


In possibly the biggest debacle of my running career, I ran the first 5 miles of the Monte Sano 15km in well under personal best pace, to mentally quit at Monte Sano Elementary School and walk off the course. Fighting some personal demons that were too much to handle, I walked back on the course, taking a DNF. I did some soul searching out on the trails of McKay Hollow and Death Trail for a few hours after, feeling miserable about giving up on myself and my team. This race would be the pivotal point in my training for 2010 as I decided that in order to achieve my goals, I would have to put aside the emotional struggles I was facing and harden the f&ck up.

Coming off of a disaster at the 15km, I toed the line at Liz Hurley amongst some truly phenomenal athletes on a perfect race day. The modified course featured 15 turns, making it difficult to post a fast time, the final downhill stretch would make up for that. After fighting through the pack in the first mile at 5:20 and a 5:25 mile two through the neighborhoods, I pulled almost even with Brandon Mader atop Adams and ran the final half mile at under 5 minute pace to post a blazing final mile and shatter my personal record with a time of 16:36. It marked the second consecutive sub 17 minute 5km and I bettered my old 16:42 record which I thought would be forever untouchable and finished 7th overall.

Not wanting to hinder my marathon training or risk an injury on the technical trails, I opted for the 5km distance at the Xterra Monte Sano race. Co-race directing this event with Dirty Spokes, I was fortunate enough to have laid out both courses and the knowledge helped me crank out sub six minute miles to hold on for the overall win by a narrow margin over a runner who came down from Tennessee just to win this race.

In possibly the greatest race I had ever run (to date) on a brilliant racing day, I ran stride for stride with Hirbo D. Hirbo at the Life Without Limits Half marathon for the first 10 miles, splitting it in a personal best 57:17. As we approached the bridge crossing, Hirbo dropped the pace down to a low 5 and put 30 seconds on me, which proved to be enough and I finished in second place with a time of 1:15:32. I never thought that I would break 1:16 for a half marathon and felt that I was running over my head during this entire race, but it turned out that it was completely in line with the level of training I had been logging. Basically I had just been under performing and this was where I should have been all along!


While attending the Huntsville Track Club annual awards banquet to support my friends, I was overwhelmed to discover that I was receiving the Admiration Award. During a tumultuous year personally where there were more downs than ups, running was my solace and it was an honor to serve the club. Special thanks to friend Eric Fritz for an outstanding speech.

On a windy day, I decided early on to push the pace and go it alone, as opposed to staying with the chase pack. I paid for this dearly after making the turn on the green way and by mile 11, George Dewitt and Donald Bowman had erased a minute lead and together we ran through the hill and together in the final mile. As we made the final 's' curve into the finish, Donald pulled ahead and I was able to respond only enough to stay ahead of George and as the picture shows, we finished within 3 seconds of each other.

After nearly missing the race as they ran out of timing chips, I relied on friend Jon Elmore for the last minute hook up, enabling me to race. I chased a younger runner for the first half mile, but then took the lead and never looked back. I split the first two miles in a near personal best time of 10:38 before slowing slightly on the final hill climb to run my third sub 17 minute 5km in an official 16:41.9. The overall win meant a little more on this day as it was also my 35th birthday.


On a day when months of training and preparation came together with flawless execution, I was able to realize a dream of running faster than the old sub 2:50 Boston Marathon qualifying standard at California International Marathon. In what seemed like a blistering pace, turned out to be the pace that I had trained at and I split the first half through the rolling hills in 1:20 and went on to run a personal best 2:43:40 and finish 94th overall of over 6000 starters. The competition was stifling in that the top 150 people ran under 2:50 and the top 300 were under 3 hours. After dozens of marathons, I felt that on this Sunday I finally conquered the 26.2 mile road distance.

Just 6 days after CIM in Sacramento, I ran the 2010 Rocket City Marathon as the 3:40 pacer. Helping people realize their marathon dreams and qualify for the Boston Marathon was equally, if not more rewarding than qualifying myself for the first time in 2007. It was a perfect way to end the year by giving back to the sport and to other runners.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Time of My Life: Run CIM

The Time of My Life

Crossing the finish line at the footsteps of the state Capitol after a 26.2 mile journey that began at Folsom Dam two hours, 43 minutes and 40 seconds earlier was more than just the completion of another marathon; it was the time of my life.

The months leading up to the California International Marathon were some of the most difficult I have ever known, both physically and emotionally. I was working off of an enormous base from the early season where my focus was on ultra marathoning and the calling to aid a friend on an epic 335 mile trail adventure run. This was followed by a summer of recovery running in cooler temperatures of Upper Michigan, through speed working and sharpening in the sweltering heat of the fall in Alabama to race day under ideal conditions of Sacramento in early December, I had trained at a new level of intensity for a single day in which to prove my valor as a runner. Even in my best attempts, the marathon had defeated me so many times before and had remained as my mortal enemy in which I was not even a worthy advesary. Two years after my last serious attempt at marathon greatness, I was now hitting faster times and setting personal records at nearly every race. I had some very dedicated training partners who were willing to meet at the track every Tuesday for VO2max workouts and every Thursday for tempo runs, which helped provide the motivation and accountability that I had been missing in the past. My on-again, off-again travel schedule with work that had me gone every week throughout the first half of the year was off-again so I had regularity in my life which enabled a normal training routine. An unfortunate late summer injury where I turned my ankle before a trail race left me with a partially torn paroneal tendon that was mis-diganosed several times but ultimately resulted in limited lateral movement in my right foot and a presciption for staying off of trails. Little did I know that this was a blessing in disguise as I was able to focus on road running in medium voloume and high quality.

As runners we can fall into a routine that feels comfortable but is counter productive toward reaching our goals. For me it was overtraining on high mileage without focus and lack of a plan for the season. When I have been able to settle into an actual training program it has had very positive results, but I can't say that I have ever truly kept my eyes on the prize, even while working toward a featured race; but this time was different as I had stayed on a single road were all signs pointed toward California.

Nearly a year prior I had written about my new years resolutions which included

  • More quality running overall
  • More running at marathon pace
  • Weekly tempo runs
  • Take more targeted rest time

Most of my resolutions fade with the cold weather and this year was no exception; but as the summer rolled around and I was able to spend it with family in Michigan, I began to apply these resolutions. The quality running increased and I began to look forward to (road) marathon training; something I thought I would never say again and in fact after the 2009 Rocket City Marathon, I would have been fine with not ever running another road marathon again. But the lure of possibly qualifying for a spot at Comrades 90km (road) ultra marathon in May 2011 had me excited to run fast again and Sacramento was the place to do it. Everything about CIM leads to fast times from the point to point rolling course with a slight net downhill (yet not quad crushing) to the large competitive field, to the average December temperatures in central California to the minimal turns of the course to the likely tailwind and sun at your back as runners head west toward the city. Everything was lined up for a perfect day; all I had to do was execute.

As race morning finally arrived, I was very nervous about the ominous skies and rain which began to fall overnight. As the buses pulled up to the hotel I had to hop over a few puddles to get on board. I tried to remain calm as I could not control the weather. Taking a seat on the bus and preparing for the 30 minute ride on the freeway out to Folsom, I was joined by a nice guy from Indiana, named Jeff Mescal. He was a masters runner who was aiming for 2:40 on this day and had plenty of stories that helped to pass the time. I figured that I would not see him again, but ironically we would run into each other again a few times!

On the streets near Folson Dam, the porta-poddies were lined up and numbered into the hundreds, making the wait virtually nill if you were willing to walk down far enough. I got off the bus and walked around a bit, but evenually got back on so that I could change into my race gear. I left the bus around 6:30 to log a few miles of warm up and toss my drop bag into a large moving truck that would transport the bags to the finish. It always makes me nervous that I won't get my things back but they have a pretty good system and it proved to be a non-issue.

The starting area was four lanes wide, but with the chute packed with 6,000 runners it felt very tight. I began to make my way toward the front with about 10 minutes to spare and finally made it to the starting arch with just a few minutes to go. Based on previous results, I knew that I would be in about the top 100 or so finishers if I had a very good day so I used that thinking to line up about 2 or 3 deep back from the line. I drove the course on the day before the race and having studied the course map in detail, I knew that at the first mile mark the course tunred to the right so I lined up on the right side to minimize the effort needed to get to the turn.

I couldn't find the American Flag while they sang the National Anthem, but we had a guy next to us wearing a USA singlet (from the Olympics) so we just looked at him! As we moved up to the line, low and behold, who was next to me? Jeff Mescal from Hebron, Indiana!

My general plan was to try to not be too aggressive early in the race; really I was hoping to run about 6:15 pace for as long as I could and then see what was left in the tank at 20 miles.  If I was feeling good, then I would start a long push toward the end; if not I would hold on and safely run under 2:50.  I was never really public with my goals for this race other than talking about sub 2:50; in reality I had my mind set on 2:45 and felt that given my training I had a very good chance if I executed properly.

The first mile (of a big and crowded marathon) was all about getting into an even effort pace while not trying to get trampled by the pent up energy of 6,000 runners who had been going crazy with taper madness for the last three weeks.  Running along Folsom-Auburn Road, I stayed on the right, with the first turn looming ahead and managed to keep it around goal pace, maybe slight faster than planned; it was a 6:06 split.

One thing that I discovered from driving the course ahead of time was that despite the net-downhill of this point-to-point course, it was anything but flat.  That was clearly evident in the 4-mile stretch from Folsom that headed directly west away from the rising sun.  The course rolled along, which compared to flat and fast courses that force runners to use the same muscles over and over, provided a change of pace and was actually welcome.  I noticed that I would slightly pull ahead of the pack on the climbs, and then they would catch up on the downs.  There were not as many people lining the streets like in Chicago and Boston, but far more than recent marathons I have run in Huntsville.  I never really felt like there were any significant stretches of dead-space.  I continued to run even effort for the next 4 miles, splitting them in 6:10, 6:09, 6:09 and 6:0, which gave me a time of 30:40 through 5 miles.  I suspected that I would not be able to hold this pace all day, but I was now locked into it.  There was a checkpoint at mile 5.9 with timing mats streaming splits to the web, in which mine showed 35:50 and that I was running in 125th place.

The next section was again a long straight-away, this time 5 miles due south along Fair Oaks Blvd through Citrus Heights and down to Fair Oaks.  The pack had thinned out and the once congested streets were now simply scattered with runners. I fueled for the first time in the race toward the end of this section by taking a couple PowerBar Gel Blasts that I had in my glove.  I had been trying to hit the aid stations with regularity, taking mostly water as the temperatures started to warm.  The early morning sprinkles had now faded and it had warmed up into the upper 40's and almost low 50's.

I thought that I was starting to feel stronger, but in reality I was hitting my stride and the miles were splitting with ease.  All of the long 10-mile tempo runs that I had done with the gang on Panorama were paying off as my pace actually sped up in miles 6-10 with a 6:06, 6:03, 6:08, 6:08 and a 6:06, totaling 30:31 which was faster than the first five.  It was quite possible that I WAS holding back at the start and now I was running the pace of my ability.  My 10-mile split time was 1:01:11 and I was in uncharted territory, never having run so fast to start a marathon.  I was also moving up in the pack and starting to a pass few people; it was certain that no one was passing me.

Coming out of a few slight turns in Fair Oaks, the course straightened out with a westerly bearing and after crossing Sunrise Blvd, featured a short but steep climb of a third-mile.  I was not laboring, but focused on my form and arm swing; over-exaggerated arm-swing is something that I teach to all I coach, telling them that it feels funny, but helps to pull your knees up off the ground and power up the hills.  Staying on Fair Oaks Blvd but just before a sharp left hand turn, we crossed over the half-way point at 13.1 miles.  My split was 1:20:07, or 6:07 pace.  I was starting to believe in myself that I could really run under 2:45.

From the half split down to 15 miles was all about trying to remain calm, yet not lose concentration in these "middle-miles."  I made sure that I was running even, staying hydrated and fueled properly.  It was really starting to warm up and I had long since thrown my gloves, but now pushed my sleeves down to around my wrists as well.  Splits from miles 11-15 were 6:04, 6:13, 6:08, 6:10 and 6:13, leaving me at 1:31:59 total.  Though I had slowed slightly, my pace was still averaging 6:08 as noted by the volunteers calling mile splits.  This was a nice feature that they had people not only indicating the time, but also the pace at each mile.

My goal was now to get myself to Watt Avenue; the place where I had run from (when I was in Sacramento a few weeks prior for work) to the end.  I kept telling myself that I had seen the last 10km and it was downhill, with the sun at my back and that this familiarity would enabled me to finish strong.  What I did not count on was that my stomach started to become mildly upset by 17 miles.  I could feel the pace continue to slip where I was hitting 6:15's, but they felt like 6's.  Finally in mile 18 I decided that a stop at a porta-poddie was going to be required.  Murphy's Law states that once you decide that you have to go, and that you are going to go, that you can't get there soon enough.  I am sure it was just minutes until I reach it, but that blue and white disposal unit finally appeared and I peeled off the course toward it.  I wondered what I would do if it was occupied, but luckily it was open.  Like any true engineer, I watched the seconds go by as I sat down and went.  It was somewhere around 38-40 seconds that I lost by stopping, but was time well spent; As I jumped out of there, it was no more than a minute until I was cranking out low 6's again with ease.  It helped too that I immediately began running with local female, who people knew by first name and they were cheering for her.  I know that they were not cheering for me, but I will take it anyway!  I can only believe that had I not gone, it would have been like an 800 pound gorilla on my back and would have slowed me more and more as the race progressed.  My splits from 16-20 were 6:12, 6:15, 7:01 (bathroom), 6;11 and 6:19, putting me at 2:03:57.  I was starting to think about the math at this point; if I could hold onto 6:36 pace or better and split the final 10km in under 41 minutes, I would be able to realize my dream.  I did not know it at the time, but I was in 114th place at the 20 mile marker.

Running past the Starbucks on Watt Ave, I was comforted by my location, but mentally struggled with the fact that the miles were not coming off as fast as they were early on.  All of the self-doubt that runners deal with had set in as I started to question myself... Had I not done enough quality long runs?  How was I not able to keep up with friends Marty Clarke and Candace Jacobs on a 20 miler a few weeks earlier when the pace was a minute slower than this?  Would I fade badly and miss my goals?  Miles 21-23 were the low points for me and I felt it all slipping away.  Some people would just accept this as a predestined fate, that they falter in chasing their dreams and that it was simply meant to be.  That is not me.

As I crossed over the bridge on the American River, I really concentrated on the matter at hand; I was on 58th street and I had 50 blocks to run before the final two-turn combination into the finish.  I got my head on straight and thought about all of the people who had trained with me, my family and my friends; I was not about to let them or myself down.  The defining moment in this race was around mile 24 when I thought back to a very special note that Anne Noble wrote for me before I departed and told me to read on the morning of the race.  It brought back my confidence and reminded me that someone out there believed in my ability; someone out there was waiting to see the final results, knowing that I would not go down without a fight and that when all was said and done, I would have given this race everything I had, to the point of exhaustion.  From thousands of miles away, Anne made me believe in myself again.  So while my splits from 21-24 were a slow 6:27. 6:27, 6:31 and 6:29, I kicked up the intensity a few notches and started a long kick toward the end.

From I-80 (about 29th Street) I started to increase my effort and push the pace.  I was living out my dream in real time; passing people like they were standing still and taking a little bit of energy from each one of them.  I checked off the blocks in my head one by one from 29 to 28 to 27, all the way down to 20th as that was the 25.2 mile mark; one mile to go.  At this point, short of a cramp, I knew that I was going to be under 2:45, but I had an outside chance at running under 2:43.  I would need to run 6:20 or better which would not be easy but I was going for it; throwing caution to the wind, I picked up the race block after block and as I passed my hotel at 15th Street on onto Capitol Park, I was running all out.  With a tight turn on 8th Street and then a wide turn back onto Capitol Mall, I was in the home stretch with the finish line in sight.  Despite thinking I had nothing left to give, I somehow dug just a little bit deeper, going to the proverbial well one more time with a final kick to the finish, crossing over the finish line in 2:43:40.

With a few staggering steps, I meandered forward to where a kind volunteer covered me in a mylar blanket and placed a medal around my neck.  This was not just another finishers medal, but it was a symbol of a dream realized.  Back in the summer I had set a goal.  Throughout the fall I dedicated myself to training for that goal and suffered some tremendous highs and lows.  Now on the 5th day of December, in the year 2010, I stood at the steps of the capitol building in Sacramento, California as a sign that anyone can strive to do extraordinary things but it is only through hard work that can realize your dreams.  I had met the goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, using the guidelines of yesteryear.

From my 114th place at mile 20, I had managed to pass 21 people and finish 93rd overall.  To prove the quality of the competition at this race, the top 291 runners finished in under 3 hours and the top 151 runners were under 2:50.  The top 14 women achieved the US Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying standard by finishing under 2:46.  It was a great honor to run amongst all of these fine athletes on this day.

Praise should go out to so many people for helping me reach this dream; too many to name individually, but you all know who you are and I will pay you back some day.

This memory is forever sealed as the day I ran the time of my life.

My splits

MileSplitTotal TimeAve Pace

Saturday, December 4, 2010

2010 Year In Review

As another December comes to a close, its time to look back and reflect on the year that was.

This year was an emotional roller coaster from a personal perspective, as Laura and I decided that it was in our best interest to end our marriage. We realized that we had been growing apart for some time and that we are both good people and deserved to be happy; just that we weren't meant to be happy together. This took its tool on me mentally through the autumn, but now as the year closes, I have moved forward with my life. I am now a much stronger person and am ready to tackle the next phase of my life as I continue to chase my dreams.  I have been given a second chance on life; an opportunity to do things the right way and amend the mistakes of my past and I am ready for the challenge.

Afoot, 2010 was truly a tale of two seasons, starting with a rugged ultra/trail schedule in the first half and a full onslaught of road racing in the second half. The main goal through the spring was the FKT attempt of the 335 mile Pinhoti Trail from Flagg Mountain, Alabama to the Benton Mackaye Trailhead in Georgia with Rob Youngren. Leading into this effort we were logging some serious miles, which took its toll on my body and I was chronically hurt and lost most of my speed. I ran well at Mountain Mist and Mount Cheaha 50km, but unfortunately I fell short of my goals at Pinhoti and managed only a respectable finish of the Alabama section.  Rob went on to conquer the entire trail in impressive fashion. Using this "failure" as motivation, I transitioned toward the late season goal of running under the old qualifying standard for the Boston Marathon, 2 hours and 50 minutes. Aided by a partially torn peroneal tendon which kept me off of trails, I began a 24 week training program for California International Marathon. In the process, I found a new plateau of my speed, managing personal records at distances from 5km to half marathon. During which, I ran possibly my greatest race ever, at any distance, with a 1:15:32 at Life Without Limits Half Marathon in Florence, Alabama, earning 2nd place overall.

I was fortunate enough to run some great races, among some of my favorites were the Lake Antoine Classic 15km, Xterra Monte Sano 5km, Keyes Peak Trail Marathon, Squak Mountain Trail Half Marathon and the Run the Keweenaw Stage Race (pictured below).

My last race of the year turned out to be the best one of my life (blog to come).  I matched up with old my nemesis, the marathon; an event that I had failed to conquer many times before.  On December 5th, I lined up in Folsom and raced the California International Marathon, and, for the first time, came out on top with a 10 minute personal best in a time of 2:43:40.  It was a glorious day in which months of training paid off.

Here are some numbers from the year.

  • 36 races
  • 9 overall wins (Winter Winds 2M, Spring Zing 5km, Keyes Peak Trail Marathon, Windsor Rodeo 10km, DOXA 5km, Care Center 5km, Xterra Monte Sano 5km, Turkey Trot 5km)
  • 8 times 2nd place
  • 24 times top 3 overall
  • 29 times top place in age group
Personal Bests
  • 2 miles in 10:38 at Winter Winds
  • 5km in 16:36 at Liz Hurley 5km
  • 1/2 Marathon in 1:15:32 at Life Without Limits Half Marathon
  • Marathon in 2:43:40 at California International Marathon
  • 50 miles in 7:14:16 at Delano Park 12 hour (207th fastest time in US in 2010)
  • 2010 Huntsville Track Club Open Male Gran Prix Series Runner Up
  • 2010/2011 Ultrarunning Team inov-8 US Selection
  • 2010 Huntsville Track Club Admiration Award winner
  • 2nd fastest time ever 172 mile Pinhoti Trail (Alabama section) 4 days 5 hours 39 minutes
  • 11th fastest time ever Mount Cheaha 50km 4:54:07
  • Honorable mention Nike Fleet Feet Racing Team athlete of the Month in July, August, September, October, November
  • Nike Fleet Feet Racing Team Athlete of the Month in June
  • 2010 Nike Fleet Feet Racing Team Athlete of the Year

In 2011 I will continue to push toward reaching the upper limits of my abilities and hope that in the process I can inspire other runners to do the same.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Run CIM Prologue

Sunday I will be running the California International Marathon, commonly known as CIM. This point to point course begins at the Folsom Dam and winds 26.2 miles slightly downhill to the west before ending near the steps of the Capitol Building.

The race starts at 7am Pacific Time (9am Central Time). Individual athlete updates will display split times at the 5.9 mile, halfway and 20 mile splits as well as the finish. The pages are based on the first letter of their last name and are displayed alphabetically. Live results will be posted here.

Excerpt from Introspection: All of my chips are on the table in every single hand I play. I identify with Steve Prefontaine for so many reasons. For Pre, "it was more than a race." That is the way it is for me. It is more than a race; it is a way I live my life. When I put on my flats and toe the line, I am going to give it everything I have. Though I may not win, I am going to put on the best show that I can. When you watch me race you will see someone dig deep and compete beyond their capabilities. That is the same way I want to live my life; All out; 100% all of time.

I've been training to compete at this race for the last 24 weeks and I'm ready to give it everything I've got and can promise you that when I am done, I will have nothing left to give.