Race Report: Free to Run 50-Miler

Disclaimer: I didn’t take any of these pictures. I “borrowed” them all. Thanks, friends.


The Free to Run 50-miler was on Saturday and it was tough!! I knew it was going to be a challenging race – the RDs mentioned 10,800 feet of elevation gain/loss (more on that later) – but I definitely underestimated the other variables. The course was a 12.5-mile loop that we repeated four times… let’s take it from the top:

“You want hills? I’ve got hills.”

Loop 1

The race started at 6am so it was dark. I think this was a good thing – it takes away the temptation to start too fast. I could tell we were running along a river because I could hear it – aside from that, I was keeping my eyes on the ground because the terrain was already a bit tricky. And we were going up – up, up, up. We hit the two-mile mark and we had already climbed 900 feet of elevation – yowza! As the course leveled off, my hopes for a reprieve were quickly dashed. The downhills were uber technical and required constant attention. Down, down, down.

“Cut a corner. I dare you to.”

This character greeted me at the first aid station. He was all business. I grabbed some oranges and a drink and I was on my way. Up, up, up – and this one was steep! The climb started out at a 10-15% grade and I’m guessing it got close to 25% at times. At the top, the trail did become more runnable, and it was a great opportunity to regroup. Up, down, up, down. The next aid station provided a fantastic view and it preceded a short and merciful road section. Also, Ralph Crowley, who ultimately finished second, caught up to me and we ran together for a minute. Up, down, up, down. Ana! The race was super tough and it was definitely nice to see a familiar face at the next aid station. Ana was one of the RDs of the Vegan Power 50k and she was serving up oranges and watermelon – woo hoo!

Ana and Michael

Ana and Michael

After leaving Ana, the course started descending… fast. It gave back about 1,000 feet in less than two miles. Ouch. I knew that would be a quad-burner later in the day.


Loop 2

Loop 2 was more of the same. No surprises this time – I knew it was going to suck. With that being said, it was light out for the entire loop and it was still relatively cool. This provided a nice opportunity to run a decent split. I focused on taking in calories and fluids. Oranges. Watermelon. Water. Sports Drink. So much sports drink – not good, but a necessary evil.


Benn keeping watch

Benn keeping watch

Loop 3

I started loop 3 and I was beginning to feel it. I had run the 900-foot climb the first two loops, but this time, I started mixing in some walking. It was about 11am now, and I was starting to feel the heat. I was also spending a bit more time in the aid stations. Oranges. Watermelon. Water. Sports Drink. My feet were bugging me a little bit from hopping around on the rocks, but nothing felt terrible. I just tried to keep moving. My mantra for road marathons has always been “Just Keep Running” – once you stop, it’s very hard to start again. In ultras, my mantra is “Just Keep Moving (and never sit down)” – same deal – once you stop, it’s very hard to start again.

I missed a turn near the end of the loop – oops! The course was marked perfectly – there just happened to be a group of people standing in front of the markers when I went by. Lucky me! That earned me a little bonus time on the trails :)


Michael, Jake and Benn discuss requiring weight vests for next year's race

Michael, Jake and Benn discuss requiring weight vests for next year’s race

Loop 4

I started the final loop around 2pm and it was definitely a bit warm for me. By this point, most of the half marathoners were finished and they offered support as I headed out for a little more punishment. I really didn’t know if anyone was close to me so I just pushed ahead doing the best I could. I was having a bit of a rough patch, and I walked nearly the entire first climb. At the top, I stopped for a minute to empty the rocks out of my shoes. It actually helped quite a bit – oops, I wish I did that sooner! The trails were quiet now – in fact, on my entire final loop, I only saw three or four people. I hit the second to last aid station and realized I was dilly dallying too much. I cut my stop short and started running. In fact, the more I ran, the better I felt. No doubt about it, I could smell the barn. Footnote: it’s a good thing I woke up and started running because Ralph was much closer than I realized. I caught up with Marie, who was finishing up the marathon, and we ran and chatted for a little bit. Then I saw Ana one last time, and her support was fantastic. The final descent was grueling. As I was running/stumbling/bumbling down the descent, I knew I would feel it in the morning. FINALLY, I spotted daylight as the woods gave way. I knew it was only a quarter mile to the finish. Phew!


Final time: 10:57:24

I managed to snag the win! The 50-miler had 5 finishers out of 17 people who started – a finish rate of 29%. Full results of the Free to Run races are available here.

My GPS died after nine and a half hours or so, but this is what the elevation profile looked like up to that point:


I’m guessing it was going to come in around 11,500 feet or so, although other folks had it closer to 12,000 or even 13,000. Yikes!! I guess Jake and Michael were just giving us the conservative estimate :)


I ran with music for two of the loops!! This was a first for me. Here’s who I brought along:

Vance Joy
Family of the Year
The Lowest Pair
Great Lake Swimmers
Cold War Kids
Old Crow Medicine Show
X Ambassadors
Artic Monkeys
Carly Rae Jespen
Lucinda Williams
Josh Ritter
Lana Del Rey
Lord Huron
Imagine Dragons
Beastie Boys

Finally, a huge thanks to Jake and Michael who did an awesome job as RDs. And a thank you to their families who were working the aid stations all. day. long. Thanks to Benn and Ana and Curry and other people whose names I didn’t catch. You were all awesome.

Finally, I’ll leave you with the two inspiring stories of the day:

Farahnaz Afaq finished 8th overall in her first half marathon. I had the chance to talk to her after I finished, and she was already talking about running her first marathon. It was really inspiring to see firsthand what a great organization Free to Run is. In the future, if you are considering any charitable giving, please keep Free to Run in mind.

The second story is about a gentleman I ran into at an aid station on my final lap. He was hurting but he kept on moving. As I was leaving for the day, he was just coming into the finish area and I stuck around for a minute. Apparently, after completing two laps, he realized he wasn’t going to meet the final cutoff for the day and would be unable to finish the 50-miler. Knowing that, he went out for a third lap anyhow – just because. While he ultimately took a DNF, he definitely got his money’s worth.


And the winner of my most recent blog giveaway is Sean Scott! Sean, I’ll get in touch with you and hook you up with some cool stuff!


Keep running!

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Today, I hit 2,000 miles for the year – woo hoo!


A few days back, I hit my Free to Run fundraising goal of $250 – double woo hoo!!

This Saturday is the Free to Run 50-Miler. It’s going to be sunny and 80 degrees – no complaints here! I’m still pretty beat up from the Green Lakes 100k three weeks ago… I’ve had some good (short) runs… I’ve also done 5-mile runs that left my legs shaking… so we’ll see what happens!

I realize that I’ve been slacking on my blogging lately – honestly, I’ve just been too busy with things. I’ll have a race report on Monday or Tuesday (hopefully), and I will also announce the winner of the Free to Run funraising giveaway. After that, I’m going to take a short break – probably just a couple of weeks or so. I want to make sure I come back refreshed and keep producing the mediocre content that you’ve come to expect from me :)

With that being said, I’m really excited for the race this weekend (although I’m sad I’m missing Virgil Crest). This course is going to be awesome and BURCS does an amazing job.


Check back next week for my race report!

Keep running!

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Free to Run 50-Miler: A Fundraiser and a Giveaway!

photo credit: Jake Dissinger

photo credit: Jake Dissinger

I woke up today and nothing hurts – so why not? I signed up for the Free to Run 50-Miler a week from tomorrow. I don’t expect this to be an amazing race for me – but it will be a great opportunity to run with some good people on some fantastic trails.

All race proceeds are going to Free to Run – AND I’m trying to raise some funds on my own to help out this awesome cause. I’ve set a goal of $250 – basically, I’m hoping that 50 people can chip in $5 each.

You should consider donating if:
– you can sacrifice one latte this week
– you can sacrifice one beer this week
– you have more money than you know what to do with
– you have money to donate and are looking for a good cause

You should not consider donating if:
– you are unable to pay your rent
– you are unable to pay your utility bill
– you don’t like good causes

If you are willing to donate five bucks (or more), click here.

To spice things up, I’m going to do a giveaway along with the fundraiser. One randomly selected contributor will receive a nifty little prize package that includes some good stuff.


Connie, the chair and secretary of the board at Free to Run, will be participating in the half marathon, along with a couple of Afghan expats.


The course is tough! The 50-miler is nearly +/- 11,000 feet and it includes two big climbs per loop.


Thanks for reading! Have a few bucks? Click here.

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Decision Time!

photo credit: Jake Dissinger

photo credit: Jake Dissinger

Sadly, I will not be able to run the Virgil Crest Ultra this year. However, I am considering the Free to Run 50-Miler in Pittsfield, MA… and I will decide tomorrow! Stay tuned.

I’ve had an up and down recovery from the Green Lakes 100k. I rested five days and felt pretty good! Then, I ran five straight days. And did a grueling home improvement project. I definitely overdid it a little. I wouldn’t normally run that many days in a row after a long race, but I was trying to work around my work schedule and the weather. Oops! Anyhow, I’m feeling a little beat up now, so I’m taking a few days off from running. With that being said, I’m pretty fit and this is the perfect time of year to run!

Decisions, decisions…

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A New Ad – Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

If you’re looking for my Green Lakes Race Report, scroll down or click here.

Udo’s Oil is one of my favorite products. While I generally eat a low-fat diet and suggest others do the same, I’ve had noticeable benefits (faster recovery, less soreness, less joint pain) while taking a daily tablespoon or two.

Anyhow, Udo’s Oil just came out with a new ad:


This has stirred up a little controversy on the web (is anything not controversial on the web?!). While it can be difficult to distinguish troll from human, comments have included:

– Worst Ad Ever. Absolutely Terrible.
– Such a horrible marketing decision.
– Men = Athletes but Women = Sex Objects
– Looking fierce and fabulous!
– If this drink turns three signature heroines of the trail into grumpy, irritated, short-tempered looking shrews, who needs it?
– I’d like to see one of the pictures with your guys smiling.

Here is another Flora ad that has been running (no pun intended) for a bit in several publications:


For what it’s worth, Frosty chimed in on the discussion regarding the new ad:

We decided on this idea/picture. And we all love it! We also love running, but it doesn’t define who we are! We all wear dresses and use Flora products each and everyday because they make us feel good not just in running. We had fun! This ad celebrates the brand’s diversity, as well as feminism, even as runners.

(For what it’s worth, I think she meant femininity, not feminism, although I could be wrong)

What do you think? Sexist ad? Sexist comments? Both? Neither?

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Race Report: Green Lakes 100k

photo credit: Doug Hardy

photo credit: Doug Hardy

On Saturday, I ran the Green Lakes 100k. Green Lakes was my first ultra ever (I did the 50k in 2013) so it seemed like a good place to jump up to 100k.

On Saturday, I got up at 4am and had a little breakfast. I left for the race shortly after 5am and got there with plenty of time to spare. I checked in, and it was great to see so many familiar faces.

The race started right at 6 and we were off! I knew it was going to be a warm day, so I planned on running conservatively. My goal was to run each lap (7.77 miles) in about an hour. The first lap took almost exactly an hour. So did the second and the third and the fourth. I was halfway there in just over four hours…


And then the race really started. It was getting hot and I had 31+ miles in my legs. I started slowing down – a lot more than I would have hoped. I was pretty dehydrated and I was having issues getting rehydrated. On my fifth loop, I started walking some of the steeper uphills. On my sixth loop, I started walking almost all of the uphills. On my seventh loop, I was walking the uphills and some of the downhills. Anyhow, while all this walking was taking place, the fella in second place was started to close the gap on me.

At the halfway mark, I had a 23-minute lead. After five loops, it was 34 minutes. After six loops, it was 41 minutes! Then it started shrinking – fast! After the seventh loop, it was down to 28 minutes. As Tim Hardy, the race director, said to me before I started my final loop – no lollygagging!!

I had something left and I finished my last loop to take the win in 9:23:53. That’s an average of 9:04/mile for 62.2 miles. The heat definitely took its toll, as only 16 people finished the 100k.

Full results of the 100k are available here.

Full results of the 50k are available here.

Extra shout-outs to Tim and Kristen. Tim has run Badwater, do you think he wanted to hear me complain about the heat? He provided positive encouragement the whole way, not just for me, but for every runner. And to Kristen for reminding me that while it was hot, it was still better than Finger Lakes 50s – so true!

Only One Hill Per Loop!

Only One Hill Per Loop!


– I hit 50 miles in 7:15.
– I survived on S!Caps, Hüma gels, water, orange slices, watermelon, some Hammer gel and a little soda – vegan all the way!
– My next race is TBD.
– Big respect for Jeremy Marble who came in 2nd in the 100k, came all the way from Portland, Oregon, and had, without a doubt, the best beard of any participant.


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Race Tomorrow!


The Green Lakes Endurance Runs are tomorrow! I was very torn on whether I should run the 50k or the 100k. After a bit of thought, I decided to sign up for the 100k. I’ve never run that far before, and I thought it would be a nice challenge!

The race is a 7.77 mile loop. The 50k runners do it four times and the 100k runners do it eight times. It’s very scenic. While there are a couple of hills, it is relatively “easy” for a trail ultra. The 50k is about +/- 2000 feet and the 100k is about +/- 4000 feet. The weather has been dry and the trails are in excellent condition!

It’s going to be hot! The temperature is going to climb into the mid-80s, which will definitely add to the challenge. I’m not sure about the humidity – I’m guessing there will be some. The Serengeti will definitely be hot!

This is the race that started it all for me – it was my first ultra a couple of years back. After being my first 50k, it seems fitting that it will also be my first 100k!

The race director, Tim Hardy, does a great job. In addition, some of my friends are running/crewing, so it should be a great day. As an added bonus, it is pretty close to my house, so I get to sleep in my own bed the night before – win!

The race is a little later this year, which is pretty cool because there are so many other great races going on around the area and the world (Twisted Branch, Cascade Crest and UTMB to name a few). It’s a little easier knowing that there are so many other folks out there who are also in the pain cave.

Are you racing this weekend?

Do you have nostalgia about your first race at a given distance?

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