10 Things I Learned From My First 100-Miler

1. Keep Moving – when things started going downhill around mile 80, I realized I was not going to be able to do that much more running. With that in mind, I moved quickly through aid stations and resisted the urge to sit down. A 15-minute mile is still much more productive than a 15-minute break.

2. Keep Eating – you can skimp on calories in a 50k and even to some extent a 50-miler. However, there is no skimping in a 100-miler. I’m lucky in the sense that my stomach is solid 99% of the time. I had no trouble taking Huma gels, Clif Shot Bloks, grapes and ProBars all day and into the night.

3. Train for the Course – almost any coach will tell you that you need to train for the course you will be racing on. Unfortunately, we all have other responsibilities in life besides ultra training. A lot of my training is done on the treadmill, and I paid for it late in the race. My legs felt strong and I was able to run the smooth trail/paved parts extremely well; however, my stabilizers were completely shot and anything technical reduced me to a walk (and a sad walk at that!).

4. Pick a Race You Care About – Jason Koop is adamant about this in his book and I completely agree. You can have little desire to run a marathon or 50k and you will still finish it. You can probably even fake it for a 50-miler or 100k. However, you can’t fake it for 100 miles, there are simply too many opportunities to drop out. Pick a race that you want to do. If you have to talk yourself into it, there is a good chance it will end poorly.

5. Be Nice to Volunteers – obviously, you should always do this regardless. People took time out of their lives to watch a bunch of idiots run around in the woods. However, there is a second reason – race volunteers (and friends and family too) will give you back what you give them. If you come into an aid station with a positive attitude and a smile on your face, they will get you right back on that course quickly and with what you need.

6. Visualize – visualize before the race. Visualize during the race. Stay focused. Think about your finish. 30 or 40 miles may seem far during the race, but think about the finish. It’s just one day in your life. You can get there. Keep moving (see number one).

7. It Doesn’t Hurt Much More Than a 50-Miler – did I do it wrong? I’m not sure. Right after I finished, it was bad. I sat down and I literally could not get back up. I could barely get back up with help from other people. However, the next day, I was alive again. I could hobble around, and it resembled the day after a 50-miler or 100k. Also, from what I hear, it gets “easier” each time.

8. Think About What You Want in a Race – there are some things that worry me going into races. I worry about getting lost. I worry about being on terrain I’m not comfortable with. One of the reasons I picked Oil Creek was because the course markings were allegedly remarkable (and they were!!) and the terrain was what I enjoy running on (and it was!!). Running a race like the HURT 100 in Hawaii may seem like a cool idea – because Hawaii – but it might actually be a terrible idea. Doing Run Rabbit Run might seem like a cool idea – because mountains – but again, it might be a terrible idea.

9. Have Fun – if you aren’t having fun, what’s the point?

10. Live in the Moment – this is true in many areas of life, especially nowadays. Put away the phone. Put away the camera. Forget about the Facebook posts and Instagram pics for a day – it will all still be there when you get back. Run the race. Meet people. Push yourself. Finish strong. Drink a beer or coffee with friends. It’s not every day you run 100 miles…

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Race Report: Oil Creek 100

On Saturday at 5:00am, I left Titusville Middle School in western Pennsylvania on a 100-mile adventure. Titusville is an interesting place. In the 1800s, it was home to the first oil exchange in the United States. At one time, due to the discovery and extraction of oil, it was home to more millionaires per population than anywhere else in the world. However, times have changed, and Titusville now has the feel of a gritty, industrial town that has seen better days. With that being said, the town was very welcoming, and the race had some amazing volunteers!

The race draws a lot of people from Pennsylvania; however, a few of my friends from New York were also in attendance. There was a light mist falling at the start, and it would continue on throughout the morning. I started running with Daven Oskvig. Daven and I seem to cross paths regularly – this was actually our third race together just this year – but I figured he was out of my league at the one-hundred-mile distance. We ran the bike path section together and chatted a little bit, but once we entered the woods, I let him go ahead.


This race was just what I wanted. Hills. Rocks. Roots. Mud. And they were all in perfect proportions. I had never been on the course before, but I could tell we would get along just fine. The aid stations were about seven to 9 miles apart on the course; however, there were also water jugs every three miles or so. The organization of the race was definitely solid. Speaking of organization, the course was marked perfectly. It would be impossible to go off course. I know this is something people worry about during trail runs. I can tell you that it would take a tremendous effort to go off-course in this race.

The course is broken into three 50km loops, and there is also a 7ish mile loop at the end to get you over 100 miles. I wanted to hit the first 50km loop in around five hours and I did. Officially, I came in at 5:05. I switched out my bottles, ditched my headlamp, grabbed some snacks and headed back out. I was running well at that point and I wanted to keep moving. I was in second place overall at that point – Daven was 15 minutes ahead of me and third place was 20 minutes behind me.

My second loop went pretty well. It was nice to be running while it was light out even though the course was getting a little sloppy from the rain. My second loop was a little slower – 5:41 officially – but I still felt really good about where I was at. Daven was 28 minutes in front of me, and I was 37 minutes in front of third place.

Until Saturday, I had never run more that 62 miles at one time. At this point in the race, I was at 62 miles. Every step from that point on would be uncharted territory. Just like that, I headed out for my third big loop. I think I did pretty well over the next 14 miles. Daven’s lead got a little bigger and my lead over third place shrunk, but I still felt that I was moving well. I was at 76 miles and daylight was fading fast. The rest of the race would be in the dark.


Here is where things get tough. I was at about 76 miles in 13 hours and 57 minutes. I still felt okay, but when I completed the large climb out of the aid station, my legs were rubber. I kept trying to run, but I was getting little or no cooperation. I ended up staggering all over the trail, and it was actually quite counterproductive. I decided I would run the sections that were less rocky and rooty (of which there were few), and I would hike the others as quickly as possible. I really just wanted to keep moving.

At approximately 89 miles, Mark Frey, the runner who had been in third place, caught me. He offered some words of encouragement as he cruised by looking really strong. I finally made it to the end of that trail section, and I was able to run again, as the course had a few miles of grass and pavement. I hit the final aid station (about 93 miles) in 18:53. I was hoping to be done by now, but instead, I had 7.7 miles to go! I put on some dry, warm clothes, and I headed back into the chilly night. The temperature was dipping into the low 40s and it was definitely brisk. I still had a 31-minute lead over fourth place, and I felt pretty comfortable with that position.


The “going home” loop takes you over a pretty cool suspension bridge (pictured above). The sky was clear and the stars were stunning. It was a bit of a surreal moment – it was the middle of the night, pitch black, silent, stars above… and 95+ miles into a race.

A bit after crossing the suspension bridge, we hit the hill of truth. This is the last major climb on the course – it goes up about 500 feet in one mile. I made it to the top where it rejoined the rest of the course, and I started the final descent. My legs were still jelly, but I was determined to run a little, because I was certain that fourth place was closing in on me. I made it to the bottom in one piece, and I ran the final pavement section to the finish. I snuck in just under 21 hours and took third place overall.

Full results of the Oil Creek 100 are available here.

As I said above, this was my first 100-mile finish, and I’m definitely happy about that! I wish I could have run a little quicker, but I’m definitely not complaining. As I reflect over the next few days, I’m sure I’ll come up with things that I could have done a little differently.

Big thanks to Mike, Ron, Chris and Jamie for the support on the course and to Daven and that Australian dude for the support at the finish. I’m pretty sure I’d be wandering around Titusville with hypothermia right now if not for you guys.

Also, I saw a porcupine during the race, which was pretty cool. And I definitely heard many others! If you’ve never heard them before, this is what they sound like.

I’m going to take a week or so off and see where things are at. Overall, this was a great experience, and I think there may be more 100s in my future!

How was your weekend? Have you ever seen a porcupine?

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Next Up: Oil Creek 100


This Saturday is the Oil Creek 100. This will be my second attempt at 100 miles. The race is in Oil Creek State Park in western Pennsylvania. The 100-miler has 172 runners in it. The list of registered runners is available here. In the past, this race has drawn some pretty impressive folks – Nick Kopp, Daven Oskvig (who is running this year), Jared Hazen, Ashley Moyer, Maggie Guterl and Rachel Nypaver to name a few.

The course is a 50km loop that is completed three times, followed by a 7.7-mile “going home” loop. The course has nearly 18,000 feet of elevation gain/loss.


The forecast for Saturday is okay at this point. It will be about 55 degrees at the start and the temperature will climb into the 60s during the day with rain showers on and off. Saturday night, it will dip into the mid-40s as the showers taper off.

I have yet to run the course; however, it appears to be your typical northeast race – rocks, roots, leaves, hills, etc.


There will be some tracking available, so if you are interested in following my progress on Saturday, or the progress of other runners – click here (on Saturday).

Have a great week (and weekend). Hopefully, I’ll be back next week with some decent results!

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Race Report: Ragnar ADK with Strong Hearts Vegan Power


On Friday/Saturday, I participated in Ragnar ADK with Strong Hearts Vegan Power. For those who are not familiar with this race, it is a 200(ish)-mile relay race through the Adirondacks. Teams consist of twelve members that run three legs each. The legs range from approximately 2 miles to approximately 10 miles. Strong Hearts Vegan Power reprented with four teams – so many awesome vegans!!


I headed to the race Friday morning with my friend and teammate Mike. Normally, you don’t get much sleep during a Ragnar race, but this year, we would be even more sleep deprived because of the start times. We left Syracuse at 2:30am and arrived in Saratoga Springs to collect our gear and cheer for the other Strong Hearts Vegan Power teams starting earlier in the day. My team’s start time was initially set for 1:00pm, but we ended up taking off at noon.


Going into the race, I had only met four of the eleven other people on my team. It was great to meet new people and chat with folks. I was runner number 3 and my first leg was 6.3 miles. I was a little nervous because I had run a marathon six days prior and I was still a little sore. Once I got going, I realized it was going to be okay. My legs were a little tired but it wasn’t a huge deal. I averaged 5:54/mile for my first leg. As an added bonus, I got to hand off to my friend and teammate, Laura.


After the six runners from our van went, we got a little break, and Van 2 took over the running duties. It gave Van 1 a nice opportunity to test out some of the amazing snacks that were provided for us. While all of the snacks were amazing, my faves are still Munk Packs and Glo Bars.

As a result of the start time and the schedule, the rest of the race would be in the dark for our van. I can’t remember exactly (because I was already deliriously tired), but I think my second leg was around 11:00pm or so. However, at the relay exchange, there was a pretty fantastic dance party going on (thanks, volunteers), which helped wake everyone up! My second leg had some great downhills at the start and I was able to average 5:48/mile for 5.8 miles.


After the six runners from my van finished, we found our way to the middle of nowhere, which is where we would be spending the next few hours while the runners from Van 2 were doing their thing. Some people attempted sleep, but I decided to wander around in the cold and take in the full Ragnar experience. There was such an interesting collection of people and the time passed quickly. Before I knew it, our van was getting ready to run our final legs!

Sometime around 4am, I took off for my final leg. My legs were a little tired and I was just tired in general! I felt like I was stumbling a bit and it was foggy and there weren’t as many runners from other teams around. It was a surreal experience! Toward the end of my leg, one of the other Strong Hearts’ vans pulled up near me and gave me a great boost! It was just what I needed to get to the finish. I picked up the pace a bit, and I managed to average 6:08/mile for my 5.7-mile leg. I was officially done and went into full-time cheer mode.


A short while later, the rest of my van finished up. Instead of heading to the finish, we decided to become Van 2 groupies. We were actually still racing really close to another team that had also started at noon the day before (thanks for the excitement, Danger Zone). I have literally no evidence to back this up, but I think it was one of the closer Ragnar ADK finishes ever! Anyhow, it was great seeing all the runners from Van 2. They all did such an amazing job!

Overall, this was a great experience. I loved the people in my van – Laura, Mike, Alan, Ellie and Peter. The rest of my team was amazing, and all the teams did a fantastic job. It was great getting to meet more vegans, and of course, I could watch people run all day, every day.

The official results will be out in a few days. With that being said, my team finished 200(ish) miles in 22 hours, 47 minutes and 9.6 seconds.

I can’t remember exactly when I first heard about Ragnar and Strong Hearts Vegan Power from Joel. I try and picture that first conversation… “Do I want to run 200 miles through the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of people I hardly know?” It turns out, the answer is yes.

Go vegan.

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Race Report: Free to Run Marathon

photo credit: Ben Kimball

photo credit: Ben Kimball

On Saturday, BURCS hosted the second annual Free to Run 50-Miler/Marathon/Half Marathon. Last year, I ran the 50-miler, but this year, I decided to go with the marathon. I had to do the 12.5-mile loop twice (plus a little extra), and it also gave me a 9am start time, as opposed to the 5am start for the 50. Prior to the start, I saw lots of familiar faces. Western Massachusetts has an awesome trail running community, and I highly recommend all of the BURCS’ races!

I was a little sluggish for the first few miles, but my legs woke up for the second big climb. The climb comes about five miles into each loop, and it goes up nearly 800 feet in one mile. That’s legit.

photo credit: Ben Kimball

photo credit: Ben Kimball

I was able to hit the top running and I finished up the first lap in about 2:04. I switched out my bottles and headed out for the second lap. I was still running well and everything was going smoothly. I was using this race as my trial run for Oil Creek (in a few weeks) and everything clicked with my shoes, gear, hydration, nutrition, etc. Of course, for Oil Creek, I will need it to click for another 74 miles… but one thing at a time. Anyhow, I finished first in the marathon in 4:10:51.

As you can see, it’s an extremely difficult course. With that being said, there were some amazing performances throughout the day!! This course is not one to be trifled with, even for experienced trail runners, which made some of the finishes on Saturday that much more impressive.

Many thanks to the RDs, aid station volunteers and other runners. Also, big shout-outs to Ben, Frank and anyone else I may have forgotten. If you are looking for a challenging trail race in 2017, this may be the one for you!

Next up for me is Ragnar ADK on Friday! I’m really looking forward to my first run with Strong Hearts Vegan Power. Check back next week to hear all about it!

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Jug End Loop Ultra Race Report


The Jug End Loop Ultra was on Saturday. Basically, it was a 4.2-mile loop, and you had to run it as many times as possible in 5 hours. Then, you switched over to a .88-mile loop for the final hour (6 hours total). As you can see, the 4.2-mile loop had a pretty decent hill, and the .88-mile loop was a bit flatter.


It was a sunny day and temps got up into the mid-80s. It wasn’t too bad for the first few hours, but it definitely got a little warm by the end. Over the first three hours, I managed to cover 21.5 miles, and over the final three hours, I managed another 20 miles. I slowed down a little bit but not too badly!


I managed to take the win with 41.5 miles. Full results are available here. Tim Goric was tough all day, and he managed second with 38 miles. Tim also completed the 4.2-mile loop a total of eight times. The women’s race was close! Ann Alessandrini took the win with Ana Wolf just a little behind her.

Vegan/Vegetarian Group Picture

Vegan/Vegetarian Group Picture

This was the first time I’ve ever run a race based on time as opposed to distance. I liked it! There is something nice about knowing you will be done at a certain time.


For the win, I got a really nice engraved jug (get it?). I will be using it for flowers… just kidding, I’m going to fill it with beer. I know Ann has already been putting hers to good use!

I highly recommend this race. Great course. Great people. Extremely affordable.

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Product Review: CoffeeBar by New Grounds Food

I was recently given the opportunity to sample some bars from New Grounds Food. The bars are called CoffeeBars, so you know they had my attention right away! If you’ve been following along for a bit, you know that I am a bar connoisseur. A couple of years back, I even did a Sweet 16, where Picky Bars edged out ProBar for the win!

There are lots of bars out there now. There are bars for every type of diet and interest. So what makes bars from New Grounds Food unique? A few things actually:

1) The company that produces the bars was founded by a couple of college students
2) Every bar is infused with a full cup of fair trade coffee
3) Every CoffeeBar is 100% organic
4) Every CoffeeBar is vegan and gluten-free

CoffeeBars come in three flavors:

  • Mocha Latte
  • Coconut Mocha
  • Caramel Macchiato

    Each bar is just under 200 calories, and the first ingredient is organic dates. You can’t go wrong with that!

    I’ve tried all three flavors, and in my opinion, the Mocha Latte is the best, followed closely by the Coconut Mocha (sorry, Caramel Macchiato).

    I am running a six-hour race on Saturday, and I plan on trying a CoffeeBar before the race and during the race. I will let you know how it goes!

    In the meantime, try them out for yourselves. Through the end of August, go to the New Grounds Food website and use promo code fuelyourrace for 50% off a 12-count box of bars.

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