Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pura Vida!

Quick update from beautiful Costa Rica: Miles for the last week 15...I planned on 50 but given the circumstances agreed on another week pretty much off from running. We have been having such an amazing time though. This is one of the most biologically intense places on earth. We have already encountered a tame costa rican turkey, called a pava, named chippy. The owner of the ecolodge we stayed at nursed her from a chick when she was abandoned by her mother. Many monkeys, mostly whiteface, but have heard the howlers wherever we go. Scarlet Macaws and numerous other birds, lizards, and insects. I had one of the most memorable time two days ago as I sat in a kayak and at least half a dozen bottle nosed dolphins started jumping all around me! It got my heart rate up to probably like 170 bmp! We've been on some absolutely amazing hikes and visited the tide pools today! I've already been ramping up some miles on the rocky roads of the southern tip of the Osa Peninsula.

More will be revealed...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sharing the Road

I had a bizarre thing happen to me yesterday as I was finishing a nice ten-mile run just a mile or so from my apt. I was running in the middle of a long straight road (Oakcrest Rd. coming up from Cayuga Heights) and I kept looking back every few seconds to make sure there were no cars coming behind and I could see zero cars ahead of me. Then about a half-mile ahead a SUV turned onto the road (from Triphammer Rd.). I continued to run in the middle (because there was so much snow on the side) until the truck got like a quarter-mile from me and then I simply moved off the road to let the beautiful Lexus Land Cruiser go past. When he got close to me I could see some movement inside the vehicle. I thought that it could be a customer of mine from Watercress waving to me which sometimes happens. Then as I focused in I could see a very elderly man holding his prune-like hand up with the middle finger extended! I couldn't believe it! I was shocked because, first of all, I wasn't even on the road and, second, there weren't any other cars coming. I turned around and put my arms in the air asking, "Why?!" and then I yelled, "Happy Holidays!"

This isn't the first time I have had minor altercations on the road. I usually try to not take it too seriously either and try to "kill them with kindness" if approached.

Any other runners, walkers, or cyclists have any funny stories along these lines? Let's hear em!

I had a good week getting back into training even though I was also fighting off a cold that still won't seem to let go.

Miles for the week: 40

Monday= Rest/hot tub
Tuesday= Speed work 8.5 miles total- Ran to and from 800m horse track off of Hanshaw Rd. and did 3x (800,600,400,200) at a 5:32 /mi. pace- 1-minute rest in between intervals and 3-minute rest in between sets-- Tough work out!
Wednesday= Rest/ lifted weights at Island for an hour in evening
Thursday= Rest/ feeling sick
Friday= 8.5 miles- middle 2.68 at a 6:15/mi. pace
Saturday= 10 miles-hills- ran downtown via Cayuga Heights and back up Remington Rd.
Sunday= 13 miles- ran from apt. to Etna and back

I will have a little reprieve from the slush, ice, and snow for the next few weeks but realize that I will be returning for at least two of the nastiest months weather-wise in the Ithaca, NY area. Hey! the way I look at makes you tougher right?!

Quote of the week: "If one can stick to the training throughout the many long years, then will power is no longer a problem. It's raining? That doesn't matter. I am tired? That's besides the point. It's simply that I just have to."----Emil Zatopek

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2008 Recap

Since starting this blog in May of 2008 I have been able to document many thoughts, memories and goals and I have found it to be an effective tool, not only in monitoring my own actions, but in learning from and connecting with amazing people all over the world.

2008 was a roller coaster ride in a few different personal areas but one thing that remained consistent was stellar personal race times. Let's take a look back at some of the most memorable races:

  • Being at the starting line at Disney Half-Marathon and seeing the Hanson's-Brooks Team show up just before gun time and realizing that my top 3 prediction was gone.
  • Running about 20 feet away from Lance Armstrong in The Boston Marathon hearing him chat with his buddies.
  • Battling with Michael Wunsch in many of the local trail races including Highland Forest 30-mile, Forest Frolic, and Monster Marathon.
  • Chasing Leigh Schmitt and Jack Pilla all day at The Finger Lakes Fifties 50-miler and having my brother Jamal run the last 3.5 miles with me.
  • Finishing my Associates Degree with a 3.44 GPA and transferring into a Physical Education Teacher Certification program (K-12).
  • Breaking the course record at Green Lakes 50K, meeting Brazilian world-champion and Badwater course record holder Valmir Nunes, and eating some birthday cake and hanging out with Todd Baum and company.
  • Winning my first 100-mile run at Iroquois Trails 100 in Virgil, NY. Definitely a vision quest! Thank you to my awesome family and crew/pacers. I could not have done it without you! Raising $5,600 for Lupus with the help of the other Lupus Runners. Awesome job guys!
  • Getting talked into running a two-person 50-mile relay at Can Lake and recording the second fastest relay time ever with Michael Wunsch.
  • Working hard to break the 50K course record at Mendon Ponds in Rochester and a personal record to finish the year in The Philadelphia Marathon.
  • Being named Western New York Ultra Runner of the Year and being asked to join Team Inov-8 for 2009.
I tallied up all the miles I ran for 2008 and with races and training combined I came up with 2,900 miles for the entire year...Solid!...I'll take it...and trust me... I did think of going for 3,000 but realized it wasn't worth getting injured over.

Also this year Erica and I have decided to make our move to the Portland, Oregon area in early August of 2009. She took a professor position at Portland State University teaching Information Systems and I will finish up my schooling out there to then look for a teaching/coaching job.

I would like to take this time to thank everyone from the Ithaca area and The Finger Lakes Runners Club, Ithaca Triathlon Club, High Nooners, Enclave, all the people associated with The Western New York Ultra Series and all the people that I met and became friends with at local races. This is such a great community for running and endurance sports and we will definitely miss everyone and also be back to visit somewhat regularly. I would also like to give a big thanks to my family and friends that have supported me so much throughout the years. Finally, Erica thanks for being such a great partner! I love you much. Watch out...she's registered for Skunk Cabbage Half-Marathon and training hard! ;0)

I don't know how much blogging I will be doing over the next month with us being in Costa Rica but am looking forward to another great year to come in 2009. Happy Holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Easing Back At It

This past week involved some light running and exercises but the temps have been less than inviting in the northeast. I have been happy to slowly get back into training and to also finish my semester. We have been enjoying lots of good sleep, cooking and eating, and visiting with friends and family.

Miles for the week: 25

Monday= Rest/Stretch/Hot tub
Tuesday= 4 miles on Tri-for-the-Y course
Wednesday= Ran 5 miles from Island Health Club up Buffalo St., Cornell campus, Vet School and back; swam 200m w/zoomers and 200m without; light core workout in gym
Thursday= easy 6 miles down Warren Rd. and back
Friday= 3 miles around Cass Park; one hour of light weight lifting at Island Health Club
Saturday= 7 miles in Kane, PA. from mom's house to Lamont and back

Quote of the week: "If you feel like eating, eat. Let your body tell you what it wants."
~ Joan Benoit Samuelson

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Week Two of Rest

My body has no idea what has been going on lately. This is the second week in a row that I have not even run one mile. I feel that this rest and rejuvenation is very important and much needed and, from what I have read, I'm hoping I will come back even stronger. It is that same feeling that you get when you go from high mileage into a taper. You feel that you are losing fitness and should be doing more.

It has been a challenge to hold back but I'm happy that I have been disciplined to not give in to the cravings of even just a short run. One day last week I ran from my car into the building where I have class (not even a quarter mile) and when I entered the building I just wanted to keep going down the hallways. I felt like a puppy dog getting ready to play! I could definitely notice a spring in my step. I bumped into one of the cross-country runners that I know and revealed to him my status. He said..."Hey, maybe you should race in the open men's track meet at Cornell this weekend". I'd be lying if I said I did not think about it but I quickly abandoned the idea.

Speaking of SUNY Cortland Cross-Country---- Congratulations to the men's team for winning 1st place at Division III Nationals (1st time in school history!). They had such a loaded team this year and many of them are returning next year. The women's team had a very respectable year too. I'm sure Jack is proud for what he got started.

Someone once reportedly asked Jack Daniels, former coach of Div.III women's cross-country powerhouse Cortland State, about what kind of training was currently most popular among distance runners. Daniels simply responded: "Overtraining. In my dictionary, the word 'Overtrain' falls just a page away from 'Overkill', defined as 'to obliterate with more nuclear force than required.' Consider the connection: If your target is top running performance, then to overtrain means to apply more force than is required to hit that target. In fact, overtraining may literally obliterate your target, or at least leave you without the will to pursue it."---Jack Daniels

I figure two weeks of quality rest with zero running is sufficient but just for good measure I will ease back into it this week with active recovery (swimming, stretching) and light-low mileage running. Then I will start back training in the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Erica and I are kind of doing our honeymoon before the wedding since we are moving to Portland, Oregon this upcoming summer. Who said that it has to be after the wedding anyway! We make the rules!

Good job to everyone that ran this weekend at The North Face Endurance Challenge! Leigh Schmitt took sixth place in an extremely competitive field. Way to go!

I have my last two finals on Monday and then I'm completely finished for the semester. Woohoooo! ;0)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Team INOV-8

I seriously cannot remember the last time I went an entire week without running at all.

Miles for the week= zero!

Even after the 100-miler I ran a couple miles about five or six days after the event. Since Philly Marathon last Sunday I have been able to totally relax, catch up a little, and the timing was ideal with the Thanksgiving break. With a couple of trips to the hot tub, steam room, sauna and pool combined with the holiday nourishment I have been feeling really good the last couple of days. We took a nice trip to New Haven, Connecticut and on the way back to Ithaca I received some exciting news. Team INOV-8 manager Mark Lundblad messaged me inviting me to be a part of their running team for 2009. I accepted! I feel blessed to be a part of such a great group of runners. I am also anxious to try out some more of their quality trail running products.

That said...I have my eyes on a few exciting races for the upcoming year and will post a tentative calendar when it solidifies a little more.

Erica and I had tickets to spend a month in Thailand (mid Dec. to mid Jan.) but decided to make a last minute cancellation today due to the political turmoil taking place in Bangkok right now. Booooo! However, I think we will try to find another destination here shortly to escape to in between semesters.

Also, I just got a book titled "Why We Run" by Bernd Heinrich that looks like an excellent read.

Time to get back to school work. I hope to finish the semester the same way I have finished the last couple of good shape without killing myself!

Finals here I come!

Quote of the week: "A rest is as good as a run" ~Harland Bigelow (Team in Training running coach)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Philadelphia Marathon

I had a great week leading up the marathon and was lucky enough to have very hospitable friends Brian O. and Hollie K. put me up in their father's home just 30 minutes from the starting line in Philly and to drive me both ways from Ithaca. Thank you both so much!

Miles for the week: 47

Monday= Rest
Tuesday=easy 4 miles down Warren Rd. and back
Wednesday= 9.5 miles total (4 miles @ 5:51/mi. pace) around SUNY Cortland campus
Thursday= Rest
Friday= easy 5 miles down Warren Rd. and back
Saturday= easy 2.5 miles in Philly around Hollie's dad's neighborhood
Sunday= 26.2 miles in the awesome city of Philadelphia!

Despite my lengthy race season I felt very well rested for this race and knew Philly was notorious for being a fast course and Boston qualifier. I also knew it was going to be a frigid day but training for Boston the last two winters in Ithaca, NY has prepared me for days like Sunday.

I arrived at the starting line with about four layers of "throw away" clothes on that consisted of flannel pajama pants, sweat pants, and old sweatshirts. It was a cold morning but the sun was shining. I lined up at the very front and chatted briefly with Michael Wardian and a few others and it was a really nice feeling to actually "toe the starting line". This is the first time I have been able to get right up there but I knew once the race started that I would fall back a little and run my race.

We took off and made our way around downtown and I settled into a nice relaxed but quick pace. I saw Brian, Hollie, and Jess at about 10K and then laughed when I passed a fraternity house full of students screaming, playing music, and drinking beer at 8 am on a Sunday slurring words of encouragement in my face! It was indeed a fast course but not as flat as I had imagined. I mean it was nothing and actually kind of nice to break up the monotony. I reached the half marathon point in 1:21 and was feeling really good. As I headed out for the second half of the race I put in some nice surges and felt very strong. However, if I hear the "Rocky" song one more time I might just lose it!

Miles 17-20 I started to notice some normal fatigue setting in but ate some bananas, gels and drank lots of Gatorade. Right around mile 20 the lead woman passed me. I said to her, "take it home". At this point we were at a section where you could see runners coming at you on a long out and back section. I saw Laurie Cuomo from Ithaca and another friend of Hollie's Lauren, who was running her first marathon. I exchanged brief hello's but was really focused on maintaining my pace.

Without purpose at mile 23 I put in another surge and consequently came up beside the first place woman again. This time I said, "5K to go...let's do it" and I passed her. Moments later she passed me again and this time when she passed she said, "go, go, go, go". This was too funny because I ended up going by one more time as I was really pumping my arms and working hard this last little bit of the race. Finally, at about mile 25.8 or so I saw Brian and Hollie yelling at me and all of the sudden the woman was right next to me running stride for stride. At this point the crowd was going absolutely crazy, lined a few people deep on both sides. We both picked up the pace and were racing at exactly the same pace. It was so crazy! We turned the corner and could see the finish line about 20 yards out and I accidentally bumped her with my elbow. This threw me off and she scurried into the finish. I completely slowed down and let her have her glory for 1st place woman...she really deserved it! I finished in 2:44:05

Afterwards, she came up to me and gave me a hug. I found out that it was her first marathon and that she was from Ukraine. After I hugged her I said to this guy next to me, "wow that was intense...did you see that?" I explained what happened and when the man looked up at me I realized that it was Bart Yasso! He congratulated me and kind of laughed. I was very happy with the way I ran in Philly and my all around experience. I made my way through the chute, grabbed my medal, got a quick massage, ate some food and changed. Of course I had to make my way over to the infamous Rocky statue for a picture. What a fun weekend and what a way to wrap up the year!... PR!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Kicked Asphalt!

That was the slogan used at The Philadelphia Marathon this past weekend and it proved to be true as I ran a solid race finishing in 2:44:05. I will post a little more detailed race report shortly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I just received confirmation from Western NY Ultra Series coordinator Tom Perry that I have been selected for the 2008 award. This was one of the many goals I set early this year and am honored to be at the top of the list. It has been such a great running season, not only because of my strong performances, but even more the great friends that I have made and the camaraderie that goes along with ultra running. I want to thank all the race directors for their tireless motivation to make these events happen and also to all the volunteers. Us runners would not be able to do it without you give yourselves a pat on the back too!

The 2008 Western NY Ultra Series final standings are posted at:

After Philly marathon on Sunday I will be taking about a month off from running to let my body and mind heal. As we bring in the New Year I will reflect on 2008 and come up with a new set of goals for 09. Hope to see many of you out on the trails!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Feeling Fit for Philly!

I'm anxious to see part of the "City of Brotherly Love" on foot Sunday November 23, 2008 on the 15th year anniversary of The Philadelphia Marathon. I was able to qualify for the seeded runner program from my Disney half-marathon time early this year (1:15:06). It's kind of a double-edged sword in that I must control myself to not go out too fast with the elites and also the half marathoners. Brian O., Hollie K, (their dog Porter) and myself will head down Friday evening and luckily stay at Hollie's parents house for the weekend. Should be a great weekend!The weather is looking relatively good and the course is supposedly flat and fast. Will I equate the ultra fitness I have into a marathon PR? More will be revealed...

Miles for the week: 50

Monday= Rest
Tuesday= 5 miles down Warren Rd. and back
Wednesday= 9 miles total around SUNY Cortland campus (2-mile warm-up with 5 miles @ 5:52/mi. pace- 2 mile cool down)
Thursday= Rest
Friday= 11 miles from apt. downtown via Cayuga Heights, Remington Rd. up Gun Hill through campus, Forest Home back home.
Saturday= 6 miles in morning behind airport out and back; 6 miles in afternoon on Tri for Y course w/ business park add-on
Sunday= 13 miles on skunk cabbage half marathon course w/ Brian L., Michael W., and Jay H. We threw in a couple mile surges right around a 6:00/mi. pace and a couple 1/2 mile surges at a 5:45/mi. pace

Quote of the week: "If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon." -Czech athlete Emil Zatopek

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mendon Ponds 50K

Time is flying! and the year is quickly coming to an end. We have been blessed with some nice weather for early November in central New York but realize that it's coming soon. Time to break out the tights, gloves, masks and wool socks.

Miles for the week: 63

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 8 miles around SUNY Cortland campus
Wednesday: 9 miles total: 6 X 800 @ 5:03/mi. pace in Cass Park with Nate S., Nate L. and Quinn T. with 5K warm-up and cool-down, jogging and recovering for 1:45 in between repeats

Thursday: 6 miles down Warren Rd. behind airport and back
Friday: easy 4 miles on Tri-for-the Y course
Saturday: 31.5 miles in beautiful Mendon Ponds Park near Rochester, NY
Sunday: easy 4.5 mile shake out run

I made a surprise visit to The Mendon Ponds 50K on Saturday to hopefully wrap up The Western New York Ultra Runner Of The Year Award. I also had a great week leading up to it and felt that taking the time off when I was sick actually benefited me by letting my body rejuvenate and repair. I had an epic 50K and was extremely proud of myself for the way that I ran. I started off fast, settled in to a nice groove and then exploded over the last 20K to break the course record by about 40 seconds. It was a 10K loop run five times which is something I have never experienced before but it was different in that it gave me an opportunity to guage my split times and access my bag/gear etc. if need be (which I did need!).

Lap 1--> 47:07...I built a nice lead

Lap 2--> 46:16...I continued at a fast pace and got stared down by a big 8-point buck in the middle of the woods. I yelled for him to stop looking at me so mean and he reluctantly walked away. I saw him again about 20 minutes later with a couple doe as the course snaked around the forest.

Lap 3--> 49:34...The 10K and 20K runners quickly joined me and it was great to finally have some company. I chatted with Ted T. briefly and then Hugh A. for the rest of the loop which really helped me out by slowing me down a little and breaking up the race. Thanks guys!

Lap 4-->48:03...I pushed hard on this loop knowing that I had a shot at the course record. I was amazed on how strong I felt after 20 something miles.

Lap 5-- 47:47... I dug deeper than I have in a long time and really pushed myself in this race against the ticker. I entered the field where I could see the finish line in the distance. I looked down at my watch and new I had it if I hustled. What a great feeling! I came flying down the hill to the finish capturing the course record by about 40 seconds!

Maybe I was inspired by the whole Obama message of hope and me saying to myself periodically throughout the race, "Yes I can!"

Next up....the last race of the year... The Philadelphia Marathon.

Quote of the week: "Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it's all about." -PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


This past week was not fun! Unfortunately I came down with gastroenteritis (stomach flu) on Monday and didn't completely kick it until like Saturday night. I tried some runs throughout the week but was forced to skip some and even walk momentarily in a couple of the runs that I did try. The timing was not ideal either but I was able to tough it out for most of my classes and school work. I also got the unfortunate news that Watercress Restaurant (my part-time place of employment) will have to close the doors. Ugh!... rough's in the past and time to move on.

Total miles for the week: 40

Monday= Rest
Tuesday= 6 miles around SUNY Cortland campus
Wednesday= 5 miles down Warren Rd. and back
Thursday= Rest
Friday= 12 miles from apt. to Etna and back
Saturday= Rest
Sunday= 13.5 miles on Rec-way trail w/ Katie, Maureen, Dave and Steve in morning; 3.5 miles in afternoon on Virgil's Finger Lakes Trail with Ian, Sherry, and Erica

I'm so glad that I'm feeling much better and thankful for a partner like Erica to take care of me. I definitely could have been hit a lot harder by the illness if I wasn't in such good shape. I've got a couple more tricks up my sleeve for this year and have already made a plan for taking roughly the whole month of December off from running (relatively speaking).

Quote of the week: "Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall."

~Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) Irish writer

Monday, October 27, 2008

Big Week

This relatively high mileage week combined with two tests, the semester starting to peak out, and a pretty busy weekend at work leaves me wishing I were in my bed right now. I keep telling myself that it will all be over soon enough. I will take a much needed day off from training, hit the hot tub this evening and hopefully get a great night's sleep. I look forward to hearing about some friends' experiences from The Marine Corps Marathon yesterday (my first 26.2 years ago) and am excited to track some folks at NYC Marathon next Sunday.

Total miles for the week: 80

Monday= Rest/hot tub
Tuesday= 7 miles down Warren Rd. behind airport and back
Wednesday= 7 miles in morning around SUNY Cortland campus; 7 miles in evening around campus and surrounding area
Thursday= Speed Workout= 8 x 800 @ 5:35/mi. pace with 1/4 mile jogs in between...11 miles total
Friday= easy 10 mile loop down Warren, Asbury, Farrell, plus add-on back home
Saturday= easy 9 mile loop in morning through downtown, up Remington, Cayuga Heights back to running store with Finger Lakes Running Company crew; up-tempo (6:25/mi) 6 mile run in evening before work
Sunday= 23 miles on Rec-way Trail w/ Michael W., Katie S., Andy G., Jeff D., Maureen D., Dave J.

Quote of the week: "Sport is not about being wrapped up in cotton wool. Sport is about adapting to the unexpected and being able to modify plans at the last minute. Sport, like all life, is about taking risks."--- Sir Roger Bannister

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Back to the Roads

After a wonderful summer running and racing through the forest trails I'm afraid to say it is quickly coming to an end. I tried a trail run Saturday and couldn't believe the amount of leaves covering the trail. I even went off route a couple times not to mention sketchy footing with the leaves blanketing the roots and rocks. Also, it is a time in Central New York when the hunters start encroaching looking for prime spots. That said... I've been racking up some miles pounding the pavement.

Miles for the week: 70

Monday= 6 miles around SUNY Cortland campus
Tuesday= 6 miles down Warren Rd. to Asbury and back
Wednesday= 6 miles around SUNY Cortland campus in morning; 5 miles on Tri for the Y course in evening
Thursday= 9 miles down Warren Rd., Farrell and Asbury loop
Friday= 11.5 miles through Ellis Hollow
Saturday= easy 9.5 miles through Cayuga Trail, Pink Trails and plantations
Sunday= 17 miles through Ellis Hollow to the end of Thomas Rd. back to Wildflower parking lot w/ Michael W. (5 miles in the middle of our run at a 6:05 pace)

I filled out an application to get on Team Inov-8 this weekend so we'll have to wait and see what happens there. It would be an honor to be a part of their team as I enjoy their products. I was asked to put down a race plan for 2009 and already have my eye on some pretty exciting ultras! We've been gearing up for one last winter here in Ithaca and will definitely miss the change of the seasons as we prepare our move to the Portland, OR. area.

Like Coach Weber says..."Only 73 days left in the year...make it count!"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Canadaigua Lake 50 mile relay

Wow...what a week! About 40% of the miles I ran this week were run in a few hours out in beautiful Canadaigua, NY. The weather has been great for running and the fall foliage in this area is spectacular.

Miles for the week: 61

Monday= Rest
Tuesday= 10 mile loop from apt. down through Cayuga Heights, up Gun Hill through Cornell campus back home
Wednesday= Speed workout: 8 miles total-- 2 mile warm up-- 8 X 800 @ 5:25 pace 60-90 sec. walking recovery-- 2 mile cool down
Thursday= easy 4 miles around SUNY Cortland campus
Friday= easy 5 miles from apt. behind airport and back
Saturday= Can Lake relay-- 25 miles around one of the Finger Lakes
Sunday= easy 3 mile shake out run in morning in Danby Forest while volunteering; easy 6 mile night run down Warren Rd. and back

Last year Michael W., Tom M. and myself ran the Can Lake 50 relay with a three person team in preparation for all of us running the NYC Marathon. Earlier this year, while we were on a training run, Michael briefly mentioned his interest in running the race as a two person team. My first reaction was a laugh and possibly a "I don't know about that one!" The more we talked about it and the more he "sold" me on it I finally agreed to wait and see how I felt after Iroquois 100. Well...needless to say I recovered much faster than anyone, including myself, would have imagined so we decided to give it a go.

Michael and Maria (his girlfriend who was visiting from Colorado) picked me up early Saturday morning for the approximately hour and a half ride to Canadaigua. When we arrived we quickly got our numbers and packet, said hi to familiar faces and met some new friends. Michael got ready to run the first 10-mile leg. I noticed some fast looking guys in the first leg but reassured myself that Michael is no slouch. Off they went down from the community college as Maria and I jumped in the car to meet them at the next checkpoint. The driving along and rolling down the window yelling at our runner is part of the fun too! After waiting for a little while at the exchange point chatting with other teams and volunteers we finally saw a runner. I threw my sweatshirt off and started bouncing up and down getting ready to run just assuming it was Michael. Well...the closer he got the more we realized that it was not Michael...whoa! and this front runner from Rochester was flying!

The GRTC Team brought in some fast runners and had built at least a 90-second lead on Michael and I. When Michael came in and tagged me I hammered down the road knowing that I only had about a 3.65 mile leg with some pretty good climbs and a big downhill at the end. My only intention was to catch this guy. I huffed and puffed and pumped my arms up the hills in pursuit. After turning a corner about half-way through the leg I caught glimpse of him. "Yes!" I said to myself, because I could see a big hill in the distance, which I knew I would catch him on and then I could fly down the hill and get a little cushion for Michael going into the infamous Bopple Hill leg. That's exactly what happened and I missed the record for that leg by like 27 seconds.

Bopple Hill is something that Michael looks forward to. He has trained specifically for this hill and was going for the record on this leg. However, the GRTC member who would be running this leg (Ted Thull) has the record. Michael ran an incredibly tough leg up this monster hill that our car had a tough time going up but missed the record by less than 10 seconds.

As the race unfolded we continued to run super strong enjoying picturesque views on a clear, sunny day. I couldn't believe how good the both of us were running and we were having fun too. It was just one of those days. I wondered if we could hang on without crashing as we were starting to wrap completely around this awesome lake. It helped to have run it the previous year because certain parts of the course became familiar to me and I also recognized some of the same people from last year too.

Towards the last couple of legs (around the normal 20 mile mark for myself) I could feel fatigue starting to settle in. I knew that they saved their fastest guy (Dave Bradshaw) for the final 7.5 mile leg to try and catch me. Did we build enough of a cushion to elude this? The suspense was killing me.

I took off on the final leg and all the starting and stopping was catching up with my body. This combined with the openness of this leg offering little shade made me look over my shoulders a couple of times in vain. I knew he was back there somewhere...just didn't know how far. There were times on this last leg that I felt so good putting together some 6- minute miles but also some times where I just slogged up the hills. As I charged up the hill to the finish I gave one last glance over my shoulder and realized that we had it wrapped up!

I crossed the finish to greet RD Tom Perry with a time of 5:13:48. After I caught my breath for a second Tom came over and told me that we had the second fastest time ever! GEEZ! I had no idea! What a sense of accomplishment I felt for an idea that I pretty much laughed at when Michael initially proposed the idea.

This race is definitely worth checking out. It's only been going on for 6 years but is organized and run like a 20-year event. Tom Perry and company make sure that every detail is laid out for you ahead of time. I love that sort of information. All of our relay legs were itemized with elevation profiles, directions, records, etc. which is so nice to have. Food, accommodations, and prizes are also very generous.

The views! Oh my god...the views! Surreal at times and like Tom said, "You don't trip looking at them because you're on the road not the trail". The 50-mile seems like it would be a grueling race but the 50K and relay are definitely manageable for a road race in my opinion. It's great satisfaction to look at this huge lake and then realize that you ran the whole way around it on a Saturday. I witnessed Ed, Todd, Dan, William, and Matt all come through as 50 mile tough guys...great job guys!

If you're in the Finger Lakes Region in autumn put this one on your calendar!

Quote of the week: "I tell runners to divide a race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart". --- Mike Fanelli, club coach

Monday, October 6, 2008

Back In The Saddle

Back to running regularly and actually threw in a quality speed workout run this past week. I am so pleased about how fast I have recovered. The change of the season is beautiful but I noticed a few hunters out in the woods yesterday. I guess I'll be transitioning into more road running. I've also been incorporating a daily yoga and stretching routine which has helped out immensely.

Miles for the week: 51

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 20 mile bike ride commuting from my apt. to Cortland w/T. Bryant
Wednesday: 5 mile run in morning around SUNY Cortland campus; 5 mile run in evening on Tri-for the Y course
Thursday: 10 miles from Island Health Club down Black Diamond Trail w/ Cass Park add on
Friday: 3 mile warm up- 4 miles at 6:08/mi. pace- 3 mile cool down behind airport
Saturday: 9.5 miles through Buttermilk and Ithaca College with Finger Lakes Running Company crew
Sunday: 11.5 miles on Abbot Loop and Danby's Down and Dirty course with Karen G. and Dave J.

We're looking forward to this Saturday at Canadaigua's 50-mile relay. There are some tough hills but after Iroquois I think Michael and I can handle them.

Quote of the week: "Nothing will work unless you do"--John Wooden

Monday, September 29, 2008

Feeling better

After not being able to walk very well and feeling shooting pains in my legs last Sunday and Monday I am feeling much better one week later. I caught my little 4-year old neighbor looking at me funny when I was walking down my steps backwards last week. I explained to her that my legs hurt and that it felt better when I descended that way. She just smiled and seemed to think I was silly...which is true. I was able to escape this weekend to rejuvenate and recharge and have actually been doing some running. This coming week will involve more running but also some swimming and biking to aid in my recovery.

Miles for the week: 10

Sunday and Monday= Rest
Tuesday=20 minute chair massage on back,neck, and arms; low intensity tennis for class
Wednesday= easy 3 miles down Warren Rd.
Thursday= played low intensity tennis
Friday= 3 miles through Kripalu's trails in Western Mass.; hot tub in evening
Saturday= 4 miles through Kripalu's trails in morning; 80-minute massage and hot tub in evening
Sunday= Rest

Michael talked me into running the CanLake relay again this year and this time we will have a two-person team. Should be interesting!

Quote of the week: "Dream barriers look very high until someone climbs them. Then they are not barriers any more.”--Lasse Viren

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Iroquois Trails 100 Race Report

September 20, 2008...the first running of The Iroquois Trails 100 and 50 mile trail races. Even though I will be doing a few more races this year IT100 was to be the grand finale explosion of my 2008 race calendar and to also celebrate the anniversary of my 30th year.

Over the last several months I would frequently stop into The Finger Lakes Running Company and subtly inquire details about the status of the race and about the overwhelming task of tackling a race of this magnitude. I have to really commend Ian Golden for his perseverance because there were times that looked grim as far as the race even happening. all came together nicely for the first year. One might even say it was a major success. I know I had a magical experience and will never, ever forget what I did for my 30th birthday.

As I'm sitting here trying to re-live many of the details of the treacherous journey the first thing that comes to mind is race day morning. I arrived at Gatherings around 5:15am for a 6am start. I saw someone running all over the place with a headlamp on. I didn't even need to see who it was...I knew. This was the day RD Ian Golden had been waiting for since the time this local ultra marathon vision had been conceived.

It was a little chilly. I think around 45 with wet grass from the dew. As Erica and I got out of the car a small man in a very puffy coat passed by very close to us and grumbled,"crazy runners". It turned out to be Ian's father George and had me laughing from the get go. I checked in with Katie Stettler and got all my belongings ready. As it got closer to race time I got so nervous. Anxiety almost paralyzed me at times when I was sitting in the car trying to stay warm because I couldn't believe I was about to embark on a 100 mile run. The longest I have run prior to this in one go was 50 miles in 7 hours. Time wise I knew I was about to triple that. Was I ready? Hell yeah. I was so organized that I even made a poster board with the course map on it and on the back had instructions for Erica on what to do every time I came through the checkpoints. I just wanted to get this thing started. The anticipation was killing me.

Ian had us all lined up at the start beneath a couple tiki torches and gave us some last minute instruction. I lined up next to fellow Ithaca runner Tim Ingall who, again, spontaneously jumped into an ultra on low mileage training. God bless him! Ian sent us off as we hooted and hollered through the dark. Another great advantage I had was that I knew the course inside and out. Tim, Bryon Powell, Adam Chase and myself took off down Tone Rd. with about 40 runners behind us. Up we went the ski slope Mars Hill and fell in line with the ski lift. We all walked this portion and chatted and got to know each other better. Close to the top I told the guys to take a look back. If I close my eyes I can still see the unforgettable view of a pink ocean of clouds as the sun was coming up. It was breathtaking. Also, the twinkle of all the headlamps coming up the mountain was surreal. We all agreed that this was something we'd never forget.

OK...back to business. After gawking at the sunrise Tim and I separated ourselves from the other two and made our way down to the base and back up the mountain running and walking at a nice pace. As we went down the steep Arcadian Gate I could feel my feet completely soaked. That was OK because I had planned to change shoes at Gatherings after the first 5.9mile section was complete. Tim and I entered the hub together and agreed that we were just going to take a couple minutes, change our shoes, and take off to run the next 17 mile out and back section together. I changed from my Inov-8 Roclite 285's to my La Sportiva Fireblades and a fresh pair of Smartwool socks. Off we went up Carson Rd. We both agreed how great it felt with dry shoes and socks. After about 1.3 miles on the steep uphill paved road we turned into the Finger Lakes Trail which would take us to Pipeline Rd. During this time Tim and I talked about all kinds of things from jobs to our families to traveling and to of course running. I let him know my plan which was to run this leg back to Gatherings and then grab music to listen to from miles 23.5 to 50 or so. He was fine with that and assured me to stick to it. Around mile 12 I started feeling some burning in my legs. I couldn't believe it but tried to remain calm and to not panic. I had a long way to go...this couldn't be already happening. I shared my secret with Tim and told him not to tell anyone. I just didn't want loads of people constantly asking how my legs were. However, it really didn't slow us down too much. Around mile 16 or so I saw Ian out in the woods and he yelled to me,"Yassine! you're not over running are you?!" I then replied, "No, I'm trying not to...I'm feeling good". That was a lie. A few moments after seeing those guys I told Tim to move on without me. I had too much of a race in front of me and I had put in too much hard work in to be messing around like this. I was basically by myself in the middle of the woods so I decided to try some yoga poses that Erica had taught me. I did some Warrior lunge stretches and Crow along with some hamstring and calve stretches interspersed with running. It helped but didn't completely alleviate the crampiness discomfort. I managed to tough it out to Gatherings and mile 23.5 still way ahead of schedule.

All that I have to say is that Erica was the most awesome crew person. She set aside everything this weekend to be there the entire time. When I arrived I went directly to the back of the Subaru hatchback and dove into my cooler while Erica massaged my legs with Arnica oil. This was something I picked up at Green Lakes while watching Valmir Nunes and his crew. It turned out to be so helpful in flushing out wastes and keeping my muscles loose. I ate some pasta and other random goodies, drank an Ensure, and re-stocked my bottles. It was so helpful that I wrote things down beforehand because it was all ready when I came in. I didn't have Erica asking me if I needed this or needed that. It was a little distracting having Renee, who was filming for a documentary, right in my face the entire time but tried to answer her questions and refuel at the same time. So, I felt ready for a long out and back to Daisy Hollow Rd. with IPOD full of music. I purposely took Erica's IPOD and put it on 'shuffle songs' because I didn't know much of her music and I thought it would be a good exercise to keep my mind busy and to have it be a surprise what song would come on next. As I was leaving Gatherings Becky Harmon, Karen Grover, Joel Cisne and a couple others startled me as they yelled with pom poms flying "Go Yassine!, Go Yassine!!" It was classic. It definitely put a much needed smile on my face.

I headed down to the end of Tone Rd. and up the steep technical section to the Greek Peak aid station where friends Holli and Brian were working. The weather was phenomenal...nice and cool in the woods. I still felt fatigued and a bit crampy and realized that with the distraction at Gatherings I forgot to grab some more Endurolytes. When I got to the aid station I wished Holli and Brian both a Happy Birthday, briefly chatted and asked if they had any salt caps. Unfortunately, they didn't but Tony P., Bryon Powell's crew very nicely offered me one. After I left those guys I started getting into some nice grooves as a lot of the steep hills were behind me. Next aid station was the Rock Pile and it was funny to come up on Dave and Maria who were playing their guitars. I briefly chatted with them, grabbed some pretzels and re-filled my bottles knowing that second place was not too far behind...I think as close as five minutes at times. Off to Daisy Hollow on a somewhat technical part of trail and I was starting to feel much better. When I hit the aid station at Daisy Hollow I learned that Bryon was still creeping back there so I pushed on. I passed Ian and Renee in the forest and eventually Powell as we exchanged high fives. This is where I entered, looking in hindsight, "the zone". Great song after great song inspired me to run free through the forest sometimes singing out loud and laughing. There were times that endorphins completely filled by brain leaving goose bump chills over my entire body. There were times when I pictured the Iroquois Indians running over these hills chasing down deer and rabbits. I was really covering some ground by now and learned that Tim was not too far ahead of me. Eventually, I came around a corner and caught view of a couple people in the distance...and a dog. The closer I got I realized that it was Tim and Eric Maki and his dog Shakota. I caught up with them and learned that Tim was not feeling so well and had taken a wrong turn that also bruised his spirit. I was feeling so good that I powered on down the mountain to complete the first 50 miles in 8:53. I was very happy with that time on this course and elated that I overcame some early race annoyances. Still way ahead of schedule of my goal of sub 24 hours.

I entered Gatherings to the sight of many friends and now family members started to arrive. My mother drove 4 hours with my Aunt Patty and they couldn't believe how good I looked after running 50 miles...and neither could I. Erica worked her magic on my legs while I ate some gnocchi, quinoa curls, pasta w/pest, etc. etc. I refueled my bottles and restocked my Race Ready shorts w/ everything from Endurolytes to gels to dried red bananas and crystallized ginger. I said to my Aunt Patty as she poured cold water over my head, "This is where it gets interesting". I changed my shoes from The Fireblades to Inov-8's Roclite 305's that had much needed arch support insoles and cushioning. Now I was about to go into uncharted territory mileage wise. Same tough course repeated for another 50 miles...whew!

Off I went as my cheering section grew bigger and louder. As I ran down Tone Rd. to access the alpine section I saw someone running towards me at a pretty good clip. As he got closer I realized that it was Ian. Damn, this guy is everywhere. I bet he ran a marathon this weekend not to mention pretty much staying awake for approximately three days. Ian gave me some valuable information about how I was pulling away from Bryon and I can still remember Ian putting his finger to his temple telling me to be smart. The sun was high and hot by now and going over the ski resort section offered little shade. This was a tough part but, again, listened to some good tunes, zoned off into my own little world and, at times, reflected on how far I have come and where I am now. I did the loop and arrived back to Gatherings for another quick pit stop. There I picked up my pacer Michael W. and saw an unexpected friend John O. That was a great pick-me-up. Keep moving forward and try to have fun was my attitude from this point on.

Up Carson Rd. which we walked the entire way. In fact we didn't start running until we were into the forest a good bit of the way. Finally, we made it to Pipeline Rd. and I ran/walked to the aid station where my mom had a huge sign and people were chanting, "Team Yassine! Team Yassine!" It was great to see Cory West and Brian Lee and briefly chatted and joked with them. They took care of me and off we went for a five mile loop. As I returned to the same aid station Erica gave me a long sleeve and my headlamp for the 6 mile section back to Gatherings. My aunt told me,"You're doing this Yassine!" We ended up needing the light towards the end as the sun went down and there were some dark sections of forest. Going down Carson Rd. I mentally prepared myself for what I will need for the last section of the race knowing that I will potentially be running into some problems.

When I turned the corner from Carson Rd. onto 392 I will never forget the view. The road was all lit up and coming from total darkness, except the little light my headlamp displayed, it was very energizing. Also, as my eyes focused in I could see my brother, his wife and my cute little nieces (Lydia and Makana), good friends Nick and Maggie, Erica, my mom and Aunt Patty all standing at the mouth of Gatherings. They were all smiling and cheering and I picked up the pace and gave them all high fives as I went past. This was a really special moment for me. My brother ran up to the car with me and couldn't believe how well I was moving for having run 73.5 miles! By now the pit stops were routine and Erica was on my legs, my Aunt Patty changing my water bottles, and me eating some solid foods. Tim yelled and joked from a lawn chair that Monday we would be doing speed work on the track. Weishaar came up and told me to get moving which made me laugh and Jason C. stopped in with a great smile to lift my spirits. I said to people, "Surprisingly, I am feeling great!"...just then Ian busted in the crowd and emphatically stated..."It's no surprise!'ve trained long and hard for this!"...He was right. I guess I just thought I would be feeling much more fatigued. I guess my crew and family helped with this but I reminded myself that I still have a marathon to go.

OK...let's do it. I didn't want to get too comfortable talking with people and hanging around the festivities even though it was tempting because Powell had to drop hours ago due to an injury and the next person back was a long way. Keep moving forward. Tone Rd. to the end and up the trail was exhausting. I just didn't have much power and the darkness was starting to take a toll on me. It was getting a bit cooler but I had some gloves on. Michael really did a great job pacing me through this section and even offered me one of his apples. Even with Michael along side of me I starting feeling a little lonely and tired. I started thinking of the treacherous trails that lie ahead of us. Michael reminded me not to think about all of that. Just think about getting to Greek Peak aid station. I just kept thinking about the annoying sections...a lot of things were going through my tired mind. I had to constantly remind myself of this thought stopping and centering.

I entered Greek Peak aid station finally to greet Matt and Katie Aldridge who welcomed me with some great noodle soup. Talked a few minutes then forced myself onward to the Rock Pile where I knew I had a Starbucks Double Shot can waiting for me in my drop bag. That's the only thing that I really looked forward to at that point. As we trudged through the woods we saw a light shine on us..."Hands up...immigration!" was search and rescue joking with us. I said they could take me to jail as long as there was a bed there. Before long we saw another light approaching us. Who could this be. Turns out to be Eric Maki again! What an animal this guy is. It was also very coincidental that years ago when I did my first ever 20-mile run Eric was a part of that too. He totally energized us by telling great stories and updating us on all the college football games scores. He also told me that since the last time he saw me when he was running with Tim he had gone home, ate lunch, did the dishes, took a nap, went to Wal-Mart and then drove back to the forest with his dog Shakota. Wow, that really put into perspective how long I had been navigating my way through this demanding ultra course. I rode his energy to Daisy Hollow letting out sighs periodically as he encouraged me to stay strong.

When we finally made it to Daisy Hollow I could hear my fan club and crew huddling around the aid station w/ Laura Voorhees and her husband. It was now 86.6 miles and I was not smiling a whole lot. This is where I would drop Michael and pick up Brian Olmstead who would be celebrating his birthday running this final leg with me. My Aunt Patty spoon fed me pierogies and I refilled my bottles. I didn't have much to say. I wanted this to be over with. I was really tired. It took me a long time to get to Daisy Hollow and my family told me that they were worried about me. I was still on pace to break 24 hours comfortably but had to remind myself just one section at a step at a time. In fact Laura said something that stuck with me for the rest of the race. She said, "Every step you take from here on out is a step closer to the finish". I kept reminding myself that in my head.

Back towards the Rock Pile with new company. Brian was great too. He kept pushing me and telling me I was doing great. I just kept thinking about the other half can of Starbucks I had at the Rock Pile and the soup that the wonderful volunteers promised me for my way back. I finally made it and witnessed the beautiful warm fire they had going there. I didn't entertain the thoughts of sitting down next to it for a couple of minutes eating my soup. Keep moving forward.

By now we figured out that if we kept moving at a pretty good pace, relatively speaking, that we could break 22 hours. Brian kept reminding me when I would sigh or complain a little by saying, "22, 22 come on Yassine 22". There were periods of time when I was actually able to sustain a run for like 2 to 3 minutes then I would feel my left IT band start to tighten up a little. Nothing major but enough to force me to walk. Then I would start running again. We would see oncoming head lamps and when we passed each other mumbled words of encouragement and moved on into darkness. I couldn't believe how chipper Margie Hughes was every time I saw her and got great energy from her and her pacer. Also, seeing the amazing Jack Pilla pacing and crewing his girfriend Kelly was awesome to see. There's a couple that can do some damage.

Finally, we made it to Greek Peak at mile 96.5 and it was basically all downhill from here. I thanked Katie and Matt and kept hammering it home. I joked with Brian that I didn't want to talk to anyone when I finished...that I just wanted to go to sleep. On the downhill steep technical part of Greek Peak I tripped and did a Superman face first dive down the mountain. A little scary but I was all right. Brian helped me up and re-emphasized that we were almost home. As we jogged down Tone Rd. we came across a few more runners who congratulated me as we passed. By now I could see the huge light tower. As I took a left onto 392 I walked for a minute so I could take the corner running into the finish. This was such a powerful moment for me. I thought of everything that led up to this race and all the crazy training things I did to empower me to do this amazing feat. I turned the corner and let out some woooohoooooo's probably waking people up. It was 3:30 am. I came to the tiki torches where I started some 21.5 hours prior to Ian, who was still in full force taking pictures and encouraging everyone, and finished my first 100-mile trail run in 21:35! I gave Ian a huge hug. Then Erica came over and wrapped her arms and a blanket around me and kissed and congratulated me. I'm not sure I have ever felt the type of satisfaction I felt at that moment. 100 miles....geeez!

Wow! I immediately crawled into the back of Erica's car and got under the blanket. However, I did get up when my mom, Aunt Patty, Scotie, Karen and a few others came over to congratulate me and gave out some thankful hugs.

I went through many emotions that day and night. I had some rough times at the beginning and at the end but the bulk of the race was magical. I fed off of the spirit of the other runners, the volunteers, my crew/pacers/Erica and family and the absolute beauty and connection I had with the trails in Virgil. I tried to never take the race too seriously just like I have to remind myself to not take life that way either. I can't thank Ian enough for all the hard work and organization that went into this event. All of the behind the scenes details of making sure everyone was taken care of. The food at the aid stations, gels, soup,etc. was great to supplement what I had brought. I also want to thank Erica, not only for being the most awesome crew person, but for your patience with me as I spent a lot of the summer running through the forest getting ready for this inaugural race. I will definitely be back for another IT100 and can see this race becoming a popular ultra in the Northeast.

I went home at 4a.m. and slept for a few hours but woke up to come back to the awards ceremony. There I would witness Ian's heartfelt display of thankfullness to all the runners, volunteers, his wife and the fact happened. Never Give Up!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Iroquois Trails 100!

Ran, raced, and won my first 100-mile trail run in a time of 21 hours and 35 minutes. Race report will follow in the next week or so.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Getting Closer

OK... so the butterflies are officially fluttering in my stomach and we're still five days out. I'm realizing the amount of planning that goes into these types of events. Not only do I have to be prepared for what I will need to complete 100 miles but also what I "might" need if or when something goes "wrong". I must say that it has been nice not running as much this week even though I caught a little bit of a cold. I was reading that this is common when endurance athletes go into a taper. It's almost like tricking your body and it kind of lets it's guard down. Thankfully it's on it's way out and I should be good to go for the weekend. Also, the weather forecast is looking near perfect for the ultra event...let's hope it stays that way.

Miles for the week: 30

Monday= rest
Tuesday= 6.5 miles with Finger Lakes Running Company crew up Remington through Cayuga Heights and back down to store
Wednesday=3.5 miles power hiking over Greek Peak with Ian scouting out the first leg of the course
Thursday=6 miles out around SUNY Cortland
Friday= 6 mile night run w/ headlamp from downtown up Remington to apt. on Warren Rd. (12:30 am - 1:30 am)
Saturday= 8 miles on Cayuga and Pink trails
Sunday= no running/ 17 miles on bike-- biked downtown from apt. then was lead biker for Ithaca 10-mile race

This week is still going to involve some logistical organization with Erica (my main crew person), family, and pacers (Michael W. and Jamal). Other than a little nasal congestion my body is feeling in tip top shape. I watched a great movie last night recommended to watch before this ultra event by my brother called "Touching The Void". It involved a couple of climbers and the near death mishaps in the high peaks of Peru and how their courage to never give up allowed them to finish their mission. It was quite inspiring before embarking on this treacherous goal I have set out to do.

We're still accepting donations for Lupus Runners and I really want to thank everyone who has helped.

Quote of the week: "Ask yourself: 'Can I give more?'. The answer is usually: 'Yes'."-- Paul Tergat

Monday, September 8, 2008

Final Push!

Thank you all that have supported me along the way with donations, training, and patience. We're getting closer...less than two weeks away from the big race. I'm trying to make a "Final Push" for the fundraising and Diane Sherrer has helped me out by writing a wonderful column in the Ithaca Journal last Friday...

Congratulations to Brian Thomas ( who finished his first 100-miler over the weekend up in Canada! ! ! ! ! ! !

I had a kind of rough week all the way around and topped it off last night by tip-toeing through briar patches and completely shredding my legs up in the high peaks of Greek Peak. At least there were some juicy black berries available! I'm settling into my taper for the 100 but still had a pretty productive running week.

Miles for the week= 52

Monday= Rest
Tuesday= 7 miles down Warren Rd. and behind airport loop
Wednesday= 7 mile night run with headlamp through plantations and Cayuga trails with Michael W.
Thursday= 1 hour massage in morning; easy 8 mile run through Cayuga and Pink trails in evening
Friday= 6 mile night run with headlamp from downtown, up Remington, Cayuga Heights and up to my apt. on Warren Rd. by myself (midnight-1am)
Saturday= 12.6 mile run on Finger lakes Trail from Satterly Hill to Burdett with Karen G. and Steve R. on Tri-ennial course
Sunday= 11.4 mile run over Greek Peak, Finger Lakes Trail on Iroquois Trails 100 course and roads back to Daisy Hollow with Michael W.

Starting to make the final adjustments and organization needed for the race and letting the body heal. I was able to get into the lake yesterday afternoon for a swim and hopefully getting on the bike this week will help too. I hope everyone had a great summer as the fall season is moving in and the temperatures are dropping. Even through the rough patches of life I have to remember how good I really have it. Trying to keep an attitude of gratitude!

Quote for the week: "Vision + Sacrifice + Patience = SUCCESS" - anonymous

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I had a great week after Green Lakes and after Monster Marathon on Sunday I am officially starting my taper for the Iroquois Trails 100 miler.

Total mileage for the week= 71 miles

Monday= Rest
Tuesday= easy 3 miles down Warren Rd. in morning; easy 5 miles in evening with Finger Lakes Running Company crew
Wednesday= 4 miles around SUNY Cortland campus in morning; 6 miles through Buttermilk Falls State Park in evening
Thursday= 10 miles on Black Diamond Trail and Cass Park add-on in morning; one hour massage in afternoon
Friday= Rest
Saturday= 17 miles through Cayuga Heights, Ithaca College and downtown loop w/ Jason C.
Sunday= 26 miles at Monster Marathon in Virgil, NY

I knew this was a debatable week as far the timing went for the 100 mile run. I went back and forth about taking it easy or doing some more relatively high mileage. I decided to play it by ear and see how the body (and mind) felt. Tuesday I was definitely still sore from Green Lakes 50K. By Wednesday I was feeling a lot better and I treated myself to an hour massage on Thursday for my birthday. By then I felt so much better but I still decided to take a day off on Friday...mostly because of other obligations though! I still wanted to squeeze one more quality back to back long run weekend in before the big race. Initially I wanted to do 30-40 miles on Saturday and then do the Monster Marathon as a training run at a much slower pace. Well, since I only did 17 miles on Saturday I figured I would see how I felt in the race in Virgil on the same course as the 100 miler.

I really like this local race put on by The Finger Lakes Runners Club. Usually Becky Harman is the race director but with her being in California Karen Grover and Tim Ingall took the reigns and as usual did a wonderful job.

I started at 8 am with a tough group of guys...Michael Wunsch, Chris Byler and Scot Jacobs to name a few. I started off w/ Chris and Michael but by about mile 3 or 4 was all alone in third place. I didn't mind this at all because of the staggered starts at this race you are always going by someone or approaching a runner coming at you. Honestly the way those two were moving from the get go I had no intentions of even attempting to catch either one.

The weather was great... shaded and cool for most of the first half marathon and lots of smiles. I must say it is so great to see and hear Bob Talda volunteering w/ his daughter at these trails races. His bellowing voice and enthusiasm are so motivating...Thanks Bob!

At the half-way point I stopped in at Scotie's car and refueled for round number two. I couldn't believe how much energy I had especially after running a hard 50K the previous Sunday and 17 miles the day before. I guess I'm in prime shape for Iroquois.

I climbed Greek Peak again and finally made it to the top. As I got further into the race (probably between 17-19 miles) people were telling me that I was gaining on the second place guy (Michael W.). This coupled with the fact that I was feeling amazingly good prompted me to kick it in to a higher gear to close the gap. I was having so much fun along the way too. I exchanged words of encouragement with other runners and smacked high fives.

Around mile 21 I caught a glimpse of Michael through the forest. I picked up the pace a little and passed him by and wondered where the leader (Chris Byler) might be. Well, after inquiring briefly from a search and rescue volunteer I accepted the fact that it was humanly impossible to catch him unless something bad happened. He was flying!

Traversing down the mountain was fun. I kept asking others questions like, "how many of your friends are running over ski resorts on a Sunday morning?" I think this sort of perspective was good for people regardless of how fast or what place you are in. I came into the finish area with a time of 3:46 and change... good for second place overall. This race was a huge boost of confidence for me going into my taper.

Once again thanks to the volunteers and it was great to catch up with locals and see some newcomers finish their first half marathon on a very demanding course. However, I didn't see the monster this year! did anyone else!? No more races for me until I complete the mother of all races...The Iroquois Trails 100 on September 20, 2008. Until then see you on the trails and happy running!

Quote of the week: "Running up and down a mountain is not just any old 10K road race. It's an adventure, a taste of excitement; it's a realization that the human body---your body---is a tough old thing. And that you're the boss of it, you can make it do this strange thing---this defying of gravity! Steve Ovett meets Sir Edmund Hillary."----Douglas Barry on Irish mountain racing

Monday, August 25, 2008

Green Lakes Gold Medal

This past week was capped off by a much anticipated and all around memorable day at The Green Lakes Endurance Runs in Fayetteville, NY.

Total mileage for the week: 63 miles

Monday--> Rest
Tuesday--> easy 8 miles through Central Park, Manhattan
Wednesday--> speed work in New Haven's Wilbur Cross High School track: 11 miles total that included 4 mile repeats 5:23/mi. 5:32/mi. 5:13/mi and 5:18/mi. I did 800 jogs in between miles and approx. 3 mile warmup and 3 mi. cooldown
Thursday-->easy 4 miles on Cayuga trail in morning; easy 4 mi. on Warren Rd. in evening
Friday--> rest
Saturday--> easy 5 miles up Cascadilla gorge and around Beebe Lake w/ Fingerlakes Running CO. crew
Sunday--> 31 miles at The Green Lakes Endurance Runs 50K

I was really looking forward to this race for a few different reasons: 1) I felt fit enough to go after the course record of 4:16 2)I knew the course fairly well and love the absolute beauty of the area and 3) Valmir Nunes from Brazil was going to be running the 100K.

Following the Olympic men's marathon Saturday night my father called me from Florida and let me know that it was up to me to bring home the gold for his native country Morocco since Sammy Wanijiru from Kenya took the gold over the Moroccan runner. We joked about it but I also thought of using some of Sammy's strategy in the race of going out hard since I knew it was going to be a hot day for us here in NY.

As I entered the race headquarters area in the state park I felt the Olympic type vibe as I saw some international flags hanging on the Great Room building. I don't think people realized the magnitude of Valmir Nunes from Brazil. This guy was basically using this 100K as a tune-up for The Spartathlon in Greece next month. Last year he placed 3rd at Spartathlon and won The Badwater 135 mile race through Death Valley shattering a 30 year old record by an hour! This was like shooting some hoops with your buddies and having Kobe Bryant stop by to play. I saw the start of the 100K and then finished preparing for the 50K.

The weather was nice and cool at around 6:30 am but I knew this was going to be short lived. I planned on running the first two laps fast to build a nice cushion. Off we went and I was feeling awesome. I gave a yell to Valmir as he passed me and flew through the first lap in 53 minutes. At the beginning of lap 2 I could actually feel a blanket of humid air fall down on me and as the sun rose higher and higher I knew we were going to get baked by mother nature. Still I felt very relaxed and came through the second 7.77 mile loop in 55 minutes.

This is where things started falling apart for me. I knew I had a decent lead on the majority of the pack but wasn't sure I would be able to keep up this pace with the increasing temperature. As I entered The Serengetti for lap 3 I felt something that I have yet to feel in a race. I was about to throw up! I could feel saliva building in my mouth and my throat muscles ready to contract simultaneously with my stomach. I started walking and held it down barely. Luckily I was able to make it to the aid station and grab some water and HEED from Mark Driscoll. I still didn't feel well but started running again after my blood pressure came down a bit.

Lap 3 was about 1:03 or so and I could feel the heat pulling me down even further. I tried to eat and drink and take many Endurolyte capsules because I was sweating perfusely and the sweat was very salty. I knew this was danger for me. As I entered the proper fitting name for the open grassy section (Serengetti) of this race on my final lap my left hamstring started to cramp. This really slowed me down to a jog. I saw Ben Clardy in the distance and I asked him for some salt tabs but all he had to offer was gel which I had too. I slowed down by now tremendously and wondered if or when I was going to be passed.

At about mile 27 my left hamstring completely seized up and stopped me in the shady downhill portion of trail. Eventually I crouched down to alleviate the contraction. Next thing I know a woman came by and asked if I were OK. I explained what was going on and how close I was to finishing and she got out a bag of electrolytes capsules and a salt tablet. I ate like 3 of them on the spot and thanked her graciously. I could see her tell some of the volunteers in the distance about my condition and they walked towards me. When we met the one woman filled my bottle with water and gave me the rest to pour over my head. Thank you all! I'm not sure if I would have been able to hang on without your help.

Within minutes I totally loosened up and descended to the lake trail feeling so relieved that cramping was over. I still had a 5K to go and passed the woman who gave me the capsules (Tanya). I was really surprised no other runners were in sight and told myself that I guess my strategy was effective after all. By now I could almost see the finish and knew I had the race and the course record for that matter.

I came through the last lap in like 1:12 for a total time of 4:04 or so beating the previous record by about 10 minutes. Two minutes after I finished Ed Housel came in for second place with a remarkable time on a weak ankle and scorching hot day. I was so grateful to be finished and to have won with the course record despite the circumstances. I wasn't thrilled with the way I won. I looked at Ed's splits and they were all almost identical. I guess I have never been great with balance!

Honestly I still felt like crap...nausea, over heated and exhausted. I was excited to see Erica show up and introduced her to Joe and Christine and a couple other ultra buddies. I gathered myself for a few minutes and headed down to the cold beach which helped immensely. I had a nice time chatting with William G.,Karl, Warren and Blaise and Joe from N.J. I didn't get a chance to talk with Shiran too much but hope he finished. Last time I saw him he had like 2 bottles of water and 2 cokes with him! I can't say enough about this race and the people associated with it. I have felt nothing but hospitality by Todd Baum, Dr.Riccardi, Ben C., Ryan O.,Tom P., Mark D., the timers and the group of people that consistently run and volunteer with passion. I was deeply touched when I found out that Todd had Donna bake me a cake for my 30th birthday on the 28th. That kindness and thoughtfullness really meant a lot to me.

Next, I wanted to see what Valmir was up to. Well, it proved that he is human after all as I witnessed him showing some fatigue from mother nature and the course on his final lap. As he approaced the finish Todd and I grabbed the Brazilian flag from the building and we gathered folks to welcome him after a long day of running. I was extremely honored to get pictures with Valmir and Todd and will definitely cherish this day for the rest of my life. I shared a few words with Nunes and his crew and wished him well at Spartathlon. When I get that picture it is definitely going in a frame on my wall. This was only the fourth year and Todd is doing such a great job with a great venue for running. I think my record will be broken in the years to come but it's going to take a valiant effort by someone to get Nunes' time. What a day!

I hobbled around SUNY Cortland today for my first day and met many more enthusiastic people that love sport and running. I am really looking forward to this semester and some cooler temperatures...but not too cold! After this week I will be starting to taper down for Iroquois and will keep Valmir's strong mind and heart with me as I continue my journey.

Quote of the week: "The five S's of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit; but the greatest of these is spirit." -Ken Doherty

Monday, August 18, 2008

Listening to the body

In the past I have run through nagging pains hoping that they would just go away. Sometimes they did. Other times they may have hindered my performance a little. After the last few weeks of relatively high mileage the arch of my left foot was yelling at me...and this time I listened. First I did a little bit of research and it seemed to be just a touch of plantar fascitis but I didn't want it to turn into anything worse.

Miles for the week: 51

Monday= Rest/ 1 hour massage
Tuesday= 4 miles through Cass Park and lifted weights at Island
Wednesday= very easy 8 miles through Iroquois Trails 100 course (Daisy Hollow out and back)
Thursday= up tempo run with Alona on Skunk Cabbage 1/2 marathon course (5k warm up, 10k at 6:43/mi, 5K cooldown)
Friday= foot was still hurting a little...took another rest day
Saturday= 14 miles with Ian, Andrew, Derrick and Scotie through Recway and Ithaca College campus
Sunday= 12 miles through Sleeping Giant State Park in New Haven, CT

I'm very pleased with the way I am feeling now. This drop back week was very beneficial in many ways and my foot is thanking me. I was supposed to run the Virgil Mt. Madness this weekend but we are tending to a very sick family member in Connecticut right now. I am happy to be of service to her as she is struggling from Lupus. Hang in there Janna!

I was surprised to find out that my brother Jamal placed 8th in the Madness 12K yesterday. A pretty good time for a tough course and just getting into the trail scene. Way to get that heart pumping Jamal! I have been using some arch support inserts over the last few days that have really helped and have avoided walking around bare foot. I'm really looking forward to Green Lakes on Sunday...until then enjoy the Olympics and happy running!

Quote of the week: "You have to imagine that training is like a bow that you can pull back as far as possible to shoot the arrow at an exact point in time. This can be dangerous. Sometimes you can't hold the bowstring back any longer. Or you can overpull it." Uta Pippig

Monday, August 11, 2008

We're Getting There

"We're Getting There" is what you will see on a sign out front of Gathering's pertaining to the construction status in the new Greek Peak restaurant. I thought this statement could be used in a number of different contexts including Sunday's ultra-long run through that area.

I wanted to also thank everyone that has donated for the Lupus charity that I am running for (along w/ a couple other runners) and invite anyone to give what you can for this great cause. You can donate or check our status at... Thanks!

I had another HUGE week and am definitely feeling it. Time to back off a little and let the body recuperate some.

Miles for the week: 87

Monday= rest
Tuesday= 5 mile easy run on Cayuga trail
Wednesday= 4 miles at Island Health and lifted weights
Thursday= 11 miles on Abbot Loop and Michigan Hollow Rd. add on
Friday= 10 miles on Black Diamond Trail w/ Cass Park add on

I geared up for another weekend full of running and working (which calls for being on my feet the whole time). This time I decided not to do the whole sleep deprivation thing but it kind of happened again unintentionally! ughhhh! Thank god I finished my Anatomy and Physiology class.

I decided to wake up early Saturday morning and drive up to Green Lakes again to run the 50K course. It was such an enjoyable run the previous week I didn't mind making the hour drive. Plus I felt that I didn't have the course completely dialed in. I do now! I did 3 loops plus a little add on for 24 miles. Sat. night work- go home- sleep

Sunday morning 5 am the alarm went off and I could hear the rain outside. When I looked I saw a big flash of lightning too! I thought of going back to bed but prior plans of meeting others for a 36 mile Iroquois Trails run through kept me moving forward as planned. After quickly having some breakfast I packed my cooler with Ensure's, EFS fluid, watermelon, and a diet pepsi. I also had my usual salted pretzels, dried red banana's, pistachio nuts and Honey Stinger gels.

I met Scotie at Gatherings and we dropped one car off at the planned finishing point on Daisy Hollow Rd. After getting back to our little hub in the restaurant's parking lot we lubed up in Body Glide, filled our water bottles and started our journey for a long day of scouting the course.
Also, we had to be back by 8 am to meet Jay so the first section of the course (about 6 miles) had to be under watchful eyes of the time.

Up the ski resort we went. It was good to be catching up w/ Scotie after he's been out for a couple of weeks on the injured reserve. We got to yapping and realized at the top that we went the wrong way! As we wandered around the resort we just decided to descend to the Alpine Center and figure out where we went wrong. At the base we finally figured out what we did wrong and it was a good learning experience. We won't make that mistake again.

We headed back to meet Jay and went for about a 17 mile out and back (section 2 and 3). Jay joined us for about 10 of those. Toward the middle of this part (around 18 miles or so) Scotie and I were starting to feel completely drained. The gels weren't doing it and we were running low on fluids. One thing that we did have going for us was the weather. It didn't rain but it remained nice and cool w/ lots of cloud cover. At one point we just started naming all the foods we had in the car and discussed what we were going to eat in 5 miles. It was a great exercise to keep our minds busy and to also feel that discomfort too.

Ahh! lunch!!! We had a buffett on the roof of my car and breaked for about 20 minutes. This was so helpful. I was feeling so much better but the arch of my left foot was really starting to bother me. It reminded me of a feeling I had a few years ago after a marathon which turned out to be a touch of plantar fasciitus. uh oh... i took some anti-inflammotory but wasn't thrilled about this painful realization.

After our break we stocked up and headed out for our final portion of our training run. We headed up Greek Peak again, the backside this time, and both were reminded how tough this race is going to be. I kept reminding Scotie that "we're getting there". We agreed that breaking 24 hours in the inaugural Iroquois Trails 100 is going to involve having one remarkable day.

There was one more little confusing part of the course that we took a wrong turn on that cut off a few miles but ultimately put us in the same spot. We were both amazed how good we were feeling after 30 miles despite my foot. We ended up finishing the run with 33 miles and drove back to Gatherings.

This is when I saw the sign again and it really reminded me that this race is right around the corner.

I had an hour massage today but the foot is still very sore. Hopefully taking it down a couple notches along w/ ice and self massage/anti-inflammatories will help. That's enough of the back to back long runs/ minimal sleep weekends for a while. I felt that they were very helpful though not only for the physical aspects but for the mental fatigue as well.

Well... more will be revealed!

Quote of the week: "There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life. But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you. Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be." - George Sheehan