The Western States 100 Countdown…

The Western States 100-Miler is on Saturday. This journey started last October when I finished the Oil Creek 100. I earned a ticket into the Western States lottery, and a couple of months later, my name got drawn despite odds of about 1 in 40.

I take a pretty laid back approach to training, but with that being said, I’m a planner. Leading up to Western States, I wanted a 50k and a 50 miler under my belt. I got neither! At Traprock 50k, I faceplanted onto some rocks and I got pretty banged up. It resulted in a DNF. At Rock the Ridge a few weeks later, I was still bruised (physically and mentally), and it resulted in my second DNF in as many months.

Thankfully, things clicked back into place just in time, and I was able to resume training aggressively in mid-May. I had just enough time to sneak in a hard three-week block. I did just that, banging out weeks of 100 and 105 miles, respectively. I wrapped things up with a great race the following week at the Cayuga Trails Marathon. My training wasn’t perfect, but I suppose it never really is.

At Western States, I will be running in Wildhorse 3s. I’ve recruited my friend, Laura Kline, to take me through the last 38 miles. I will be fueled by Tailwind, Huma Gels, a ProBar or two and Clif Bloks. Vegan Power!

The Good:

  • Western States favors “runners” and I’m a runner
  • The trails are so, so nice, and we will be on the regular course, not a snow course (intense heat has melted much of the snow from the crazy winter in the Sierras)
  • I’m at or near my ideal race weight
  • I already have a hundred under my belt so I have an idea what it takes
  • This is the big dance. If there’s ever a time to leave it all out there, this is it.

The Bad:

  • It will cool off slightly for race day, but it will still be hot. 90+ in Foresthill and 100+ in the canyons 
  • The biggest hill here I’ve trained on is about 600 feet of elevation change top to bottom – will my quads hold up on the Western course?
  • Traveling long distances for races is tough!

The weather is a huge variable at Western States. This year, it will be about 50 at the start in Squaw Valley. It will be over 100 degrees at El Dorado Creek, but it should cool off to the low 90s by Foresthill. It will be hot but a little better than it could have been. We dodged a bullet because its scalding out there right now!

I’m really looking forward to this experience. I think I’ve got a good run in me.


I’m not going to be shy. Here are my goals:

A Goal: between 18 and 19 hours

B Goal: between 19 and 20 hours

C Goal: under 24 hours

I believe there is some tracking available on the Western States website.

Also, follow iRunFar on twitter here.

See you in Squaw!

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Cayuga Trails Marathon Race Report

The Cayuga Trails Marathon was Saturday. It was my last race until Western States, which is in 20 days.

My training has been a rollercoaster since I fell at Traprock. I DNF’d that day and I DNF’d a few weeks later at Rock the Ridge. With that being said, everything clicked back into place a few weeks ago and I knocked off a 100-mile week followed by a 105-mile week. I think I lost some speed due to a lack of speed workouts during the month I was injured, but I still managed to maintain a good level of fitness.

A quick scan of the start list revealed four tough names I’d have to reckon with: Aaron, Rich, Gabe and Alistair.

We started at 8am and Gabe was off the front within a mile. I was content to be in a chase pack, and Aaron and Rich joined me. Alistair chose to run solo just a bit back.

The course was in great shape considering all the rain in May, and not much changed over the next twelve miles. At that point, we hit a road section and Rich dialed it up a bit. I went with him and Aaron was only a step behind us.

At that point – around 12 miles – we hit my favorite part of the course. The descent into Buttermilk is about 750 feet of elevation loss over two miles, but it includes a pretty sharp drop at the end. I took it hard, and at the bottom, Rich and I went by Gabe. All of a sudden, we were one, two.

Coming out of Buttermilk, Gabe rallied hard and moved back into first. Rich went relatively hard and gapped me a bit. I kept moving but I was definitely having a little  rough patch. After a road crossing and a short singletrack section, I caught back up to Rich and we plodded through some ankle deep mud together. I lost a shoe for the second time. It happens. It only took a few seconds to retrieve it. Somewhere around mile 16, we caught Gabe again. Rich and I took over one, two once again.

We ran together to the Underpass aid station at mile 19ish. Crossing back into Treman Park, we stayed together a couple more miles. Around mile 21, I thought Rich was having a rough patch and I made a move. I climbed hard and I gapped him a bit. I kept pressing the next few miles and I (naively) thought I had lost him.

Around mile 25.5 or so, I glanced back and Rich was coming quick. I tried to respond and my legs sputtered. He went by me with about two tenths to go and cruised to victory. I was second, thirteen seconds back. I was closing in 5:45ish pace, but it was no match for the 5:20ish pace that Rich was pressing. Aaron came in third a short while later followed by Alistair in fourth.

I’m super happy with my effort and it was great to share some miles with Rich and Aaron. Cayuga Trails always involves a great bunch of people. Fantastic race director, awesome course, excellent athletes, amazing volunteers. I highly recommend this race if you are looking for a challenging marathon or 50-miler.

We finished in about 3:47. This year, the marathon course boasted 4,500+ feet of elevation gain/loss.

Results are available here.

Click here for some great video – proof that it really happened, courtesy of Ron Heerkens, Jr. and Goat Factory Media Entertainment.

20 days until Western States!!

Did you race this weekend?

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I’m not panicking… yet.

Rock the Ridge 50-Miler was on Saturday. I was worried about this race, because my running has been off since a fall at Traprock 50k three weeks ago. My biggest issues have been my ribs, which got banged up pretty badly, and my left leg, which took the brunt of the fall.

Rock the Ridge has a 6am start and it was a (relatively) warm and misty morning. After a few instructions from the race director, we were off. I started off pretty casually. My plan was to run 8-minute miles or so and get an idea of where my leg was at. Initially, it worked out rather well. I moved into first place around mile two, and I was able to run with a very consistent effort for several hours. With that being said, my gait was noticeably off, and I had at least some pain almost from the start.

I hit the halfway mark of the race in just under 3:20, which is just a tiny bit quicker than 8-minute miles. By this point, I was compensating badly for my left leg, which had basically no push-off on the climbs and was buckling a bit on the descents. Time to pull the plug. I walked/hobbled to the next aid station, which was at 26.8 miles, and called it a day. I was in first place when I made the call. A very frustrating day to say the least. A super nice park ranger named Roger drove me back to the start, and the race director delivered me to my car – talk about VIP service?!

Okay, positives first. (1) I ran about a marathon before my body threw in the towel. (2) My gear, nutrition and hydration were perfect. (3) I got to run some beautiful “trails” (carriage roads or fire roads). Now the negatives. (1) Fuck. Western States is 7 weeks away and my body is broken. (2) see number one.

Things were okay… until they weren’t.

My plan is to take an easy week, which was on my schedule anyhow, and get my leg looked at. Needless to say, this is frustrating.

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Next Up: Rock the Ridge 50-Miler

Rock the Ridge 50-Miler is on Saturday. I was really looking forward to this race earlier in the year. However, as many of you know, my season got tripped up a bit at Traprock (pun intended). I took a hard fall and banged up my left leg, left hip and ribs. The truth is, nearly three weeks later, I’m still pretty sore.

With that being said, a six-hour Rock the Ridge is now out of the question. Honestly, I just need a finish. I need to know that my body is okay, and I need to get in the long miles for Western States. I’m not going to set a time goal, I’m just going to see how the day unfolds.

And then there’s the weather. A six-hour race probably wasn’t going to happen anyways. There is going to be rain on Friday and Saturday. Not a sprinkle. Not a shower. More like keep on the lookout for Noah’s Ark. Friday/Saturday could see about three inches of rain on ground that is already quite saturated.

Yes, I know I’m a trail runner. The thing is, I don’t love running in the rain, and I hate mud. I can hear all you judgy judgers out there, but it’s true. A little bit of mud here and there? No problem. Ankle deep mud and puddles for 50 miles? FTS.

So we’ll see what happens. Running the past few weeks has been uncomfortable so I doubt this race experience will be ideal. But I’ve got my eyes on a bigger race down the road. Hopefully Rock the Ridge can be a means to an end.

Are you racing this weekend?

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Ouch! (Traprock 50k Race Report)

The Traprock 50k was on Saturday. It was my first trail race in over five months, and I was definitely looking forward to it.

I got up at 3am on Saturday to make the four-hour drive to Connecticut. I arrived with plenty of time to warm-up and relax before the start. They lined us up around 8:30am and off we went.

The course climbs over 200 feet in the first half mile, and Brian Rusiecki and I separated from the field. We ran and chatted a little. The trails were dry and quick, and the course was quite nice. It was pretty rocky (hence the name Traprock, I suppose), and it required some concentration in parts.

Apparently, I wasn’t concentrating enough. Somewhere around six miles, I clipped a toe on a rock. I started to stumble, and because of the rocky section, I was unable to regain my balance. I went down hard on some pretty decent rocks. My right hand, left hip, left knee and chest took the brunt of it. Ouch.

I was definitely stunned and I had the wind knocked out of me. I didn’t feel anything break, but I knew my day was probably done. After a few minutes, nobody had gone by me, and I decided to start walking. A few minutes after that, I figured I would try jogging. I actually caught up to Brian briefly – he had made a navigational miscalculation, and he was just finding his way. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything left. Everything hurt and my knee was starting to swell. I walked back to the start and took a DNF.

On a scale of one to ten, with one being victory and ten being death, this was about a seven or eight. My hip still feels lousy and I definitely have a rib issue. I was planning on a 100-mile week this week, and that pretty much went up in smoke. On the bright side, I’m not seriously hurt, and I should be able to get back on track with my Western States training in the near future.

Ugh. Anyhow, Rock the Ridge is next.

How was your weekend?

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Back to the trails…

I just finished a fairly challenging three-week block of training. It included the Syracuse Half Marathon, which went fairly well. My weekly mileage totals were 80, 80 and 95, and I also got in a respectable amount of vertical. I really have no complaints except for the fact that I caught a cold (what else is new?!). I’m almost better and I’m hoping to be close to 100% for my race this weekend.

On Saturday, I’ll be racing the Traprock 50k in Connecticut. The slightly revamped course is pretty challenging, as it features nearly 6,000 feet of vertical over 50k. It’s also – you guessed it – quite rocky! It’s actually a pretty stacked field for an early-season race in the Northeast. Brian Rusiecki will be the man to beat, but Jim Sweeney, Rich Kopacz and Jack Bailey are no slouches either (I’m sure there are others, as well).

I don’t have a time goal since the course is foreign to me. Also, it’s mud season. While things might dry out a little this week, there’s no telling what kind of footing will await us on Saturday.

After Traprock, I’ll have a few weeks of tough training leading up to Rock the Ridge 50-Miler. Western States is getting closer, and these races are a key part of my buildup.

How is your training going?

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Syracuse Half Marathon Race Report

The Syracuse Half Marathon was yesterday. This was my first race in over five months. I got a decent night of sleep the night before, and my stomach was pretty cooperative in the morning. I made it to the race with time to spare, and I snuck in a chilly warm-up. The race started right around 7:45am, and nearly 5,000 people took off toward the big climb on the course. I felt pretty good heading up James Street, and I knew it would be a decent day.

photo credit: Laura Kline

After a couple of miles, I had to pee! What a nuisance?! At first it was just annoying, but by mile five, it had to happen. I stopped as quickly as I could and pissed away 31 seconds – literally. I was a little stiff when I started running again, and it definitely took some time to get back into the flow. I had been passed by one runner, and I was sitting in about 15th place.

I started to run out of steam around 10 miles, and my last three miles definitely were not my quickest. From mile five, when I stopped, to the end, I passed two people and I got passed by two people. I ended up finishing 15th place out of 4,652 finishers. My official time was 1:17:17. My running time was 1:16:46 – curse you, bladder!! I snagged third in my age group, which earned me the bottle of Finger Lakes wine pictured at the bottom of this post. I was a little over my goal time, but overall, I’m pretty happy with it.

The race was extremely well organized. There were great shirts this year. Excellent medals. Perfect course direction. A fantastic post-race party. I really have no complaints at all!

Full results of the race are available here.

Have you ever won alcohol at a race before?

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