Monday, November 30, 2009

Giving Thanks

Hope everyone had a nice holiday and was able to give thanks for all the blessings we have in our lives. I spent a few days with my mom and sister, who flew in from Pittsburgh, and it was so refreshing to spend time with them and my wife. Erica cooked a beautiful, scrumptious meal for thanksgiving day and we played our traditional board game afterwards. We definitely enjoyed plenty of laughs with the game Cranium! I was also so grateful for the weather we had for their hardly rained at all! :0)

Sunday I was able to get in a solid 15-mile run in Forest Park. I ran the first six miles with Dale, Chyle, and Matt, and then went out on my own for an additional nine miles. Just after I took off solo I ended up bumping (almost literally) into my trail running buddy Jim B. We ended up running the next few miles together before I turned back for my car. He was on a 30-mile run from the other end of Forest Park and this wasn't the first time we ran into each other out of sheer luck (and I don't think it will be the last ;0). I must say that it feels so good to be running long again.

This coming weekend is big in a few different areas. 1) Good luck to all the runners heading down to San Francisco for The North Face Endurance Challenge. A couple of my training buddies Nick T. and Joe G. are heading down and they both have some good mileage and training under their belts and are rarin' to go! Tear it up guys! I'll be thinkin' of ya! :0)

The second and most exciting thing going on this weekend (in my opinion) is the Western States 100 lottery drawing. This takes place at 9:00 am pacific standard
time down in Placer, California and you can bet your booty that I'll be in front of my laptop awaiting my name being electronically pulled. As of right now I have like a 1 in 5 chance of being picked. These odds may go more in my favor as the next couple of weeks unravel. To find out more about this you can click HERE. Best wishes to everyone hoping for a spot in this epic race!

And the third most exciting thing this weekend is cramming for finals ;0) I can't believe it's December already!!! Let's make this last month of 2009 a good one!

Quote of the week: "Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving." ~W.T. Purkiser

Monday, November 23, 2009


This past weekend marked my first and only visit to the city of Eugene, Oregon a.k.a. "track town U.S.A." Erica had a meeting down that way so we decided to make a weekend out of it. Before going I contacted Where's Waldo race director and Western States 100 guru Craig Thornley. Since I am one of the 1,685 people entered in the lottery for this year's race I figured I could get some valuable information about the nature of the lottery, the race, and everything in between. I had a great time and really wish I could be down there today to witness AJW attempting a sub five minute mile on the Hayward Field track as part of a challenge/bet. I'll definitely head down again sometime soon though for some good trail running and good ultra running conversation.

Saturday Craig, Dan O., Larry and I headed up Spencer Butte and at the summit we could see the entire city and the snow-capped Sisters Mountains off in the distance. It was a beautiful run on a sunny November day with some good elevation change. Sunday Erica and I were planning on just hitting Pre's Trail before heading back to Portland. Craig contacted me just before and agreed to meet us down there. It was really nice to have a "tour guide" and we navigated the trails that Steve Prefontaine used to train on back in the 70's. We even climbed up to Pre's rock and stopped for a second to observe the site of his auto accident death.

Thanks for showing me the ropes Craig and great getting to know you guys better! I feel grateful to be representing the state of Oregon and would be absolutely ecstatic to be randomly picked in the Western States Lottery on December 5th. If not I may try to head down to help pace/volunteer/crew. After hearing about the awesome event it seems like a great place to be late June.
The summit of Spencer's Butte (top), Pre's rock (bottom)

Eugene was probably a little quiet this past weekend due to the fact that the huge college football town's team was in Arizona narrowly escaping a loss in overtime. Go Ducks! (uh oh...I'm not turning into a Ducks fan already am I?)...and does anyone know how they got the name Ducks?

After the drop back week in Eugene I am ready to start building my way back up and exploring some more epic places in this great state of Oregon!

Congratulations to all the racers at JFK 50-miler this past weekend.

Quote of the week: "You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement." ---Steve Prefontaine

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Oregon is Gorges!

Just kidding...don't get your panties all in a bunch you Ithacans...we're not gonna steal your saying! ;0) The phrase is popular in Ithaca, NY and is often seen on t-shirts and bumper stickers because of the glacially formed gorges in the area. They really are gorgeous!

But we have an awesome gorge here in the Pacific Northwest called The Columbia River Gorge. I have a feeling that I'll be spending a lot of time exploring this area and am just scratching the surface with the few beautiful, challenging runs I've done in the last four months. It's about 30 minutes to an hour east of Portland depending on where you go. I spent a couple hours there today with Jim B. and Lanny G. running about 14 miles up Eagle Creek. What a great trail! There were some sketchy, rocky spots that we had to stop and walk for, and some steep cliffs just a foot off of the singletrack. At the beginning of the run 18-inch salmon were spawning upstream right next to us and we were greeted by many waterfalls. My favorite was Tunnel Falls because of the fact that we had to actually go through a carved out tunnel that was behind the waterfall. Sweeeeet! check out the picture below
School is keeping me really busy right now but we were able to escape to the gorge this past Wednesday as well for Erica's birthday. We found some hot springs and had a really nice stay out there on Veterans Day when P.S.U. was closed. We also climbed the infamous Multnomah Falls and were in awe of it's natural beauty. All these falls definitely reminds me of Ithaca!

I've also been getting some really good workouts in at a local gym called Recreate Fitness. If you're in the Portland area and want an alternative way of building strength and fitness check this place out. I'm sold on the philosophy and style and it's a great way to supplement my running and to meet new people. Even though the days are getting really short here I'm trying to stay positive. It's tough when it's getting dark at 4:30 pm though! I guess it's good training for running in the dark in 100-milers! Just like my momma taught me...there's an up-side to everything :0)

Quote of the week: “Running helps me stay on an even keel and in an optimistic frame of mind.”—Bill Clinton, former President of the United States

Monday, November 9, 2009


After some needed rest time for the body and mind it is safe to say that I am back! The last six weeks or so have been difficult as far as training goes. It wasn't that the training was was the "not training" part that got me! I am so accustomed to being super active on a daily basis, and life just does not seem normal without breaking a good sweat day in and day out.

At the beginning I tried swimming and biking a few times fearing that I would lose major amounts of fitness but, after reading about the benefits of complete rest, I decided to just surrender to all activity. I still walked to and from school everyday, which is a couple miles, but I didn't go out with the intention of getting in a workout. I had to keep reminding myself that even some of the best athletes in the world need to take time off to let the body regenerate. Easier said than done!

The last couple of weeks included about 30 miles/week give or take, and it felt really nice to be back out on the trails. The weather here in the Pacific Northwest is definitely changing but, after training through the harsh winters of Central New York the past five years, I think I can handle it ;0)

I've decided that I am not going to ramp my way up in my normal fashion this year. I mean running is still going to be my main thing but, at least for a couple months, I am going to try a consistent Cross-Fit-like program twice a week to supplement the slow build. Erica found a gym close to home and the group training focuses on core strength workouts that are different than your usual weight training. I think this will help me in building a solid base for the 2010 ultra marathon season. I'm really looking forward to a solid year and have been scoping out some epic races.

Not running for that amount of time really helped me to appreciate how much and why I love running! It's good to be back...and...more will be revealed :0)

Quote of the week: "Running turns any open place into my chapel. The hour I spend each day as an ascetic, short of water and feeling the slight discomfort of genuine effort, provides me with the strength to know that I can live with less than the world would have me believe."---Dean Outtati, The Runner and the Path

Monday, November 2, 2009

Run Like Hell

Halloween is in the air and has been for the last week or so, and I'm also realizing that people really take it seriously out here. We headed down to the Run Like Hell 1/2 Marathon in downtown Portland, OR to celebrate Halloween by doing one of the things we love most: Running! I was able to discipline myself to only leisurely run a total of a couple miles as I took on the unfamiliar role of spectator and crew person for my wife Erica, and friends visiting from New York, Kara and Eric. I got a little workout and turned a few heads as I navigated around the course in my Vibram Five Fingers after driving to different locations.

It was a beautiful morning for running with temperatures near 50 and no prediction of rain. I
dropped Erica off close to the starting line where she met up with Kara and Eric. I was really proud of Erica because this would be her first half-marathon race, and I could imagine the butterflies she had fluttering around inside. Also, I have seen her diligently build her mileage and prepare herself for this race eluding injury, which has troubled her in the past. There would be days when Erica would tough it out through the rain to finish her training run, and others when she tackled the inclines on Leif Erikson Trail to prepare for the rolling course she would face on race day. She was R E A D Y !

The first time I saw the crew was about mile 2 or 3...and they were all smiling as the sun came up over the river. I hung back after they passed and got a few great pictures of people in costume.

I gotta give this guy some props...Fred Flintstone here ran 13.1 miles barefoot on concrete with his two children in the rickshaw behind. I think he won some award at the end! :0)

Pee Wee Herman....hahaaaa!
My personal favorite: Run DMC! These guys were bumpin' old school rap out of boom box the whole race!
Superheroes in downtown Portland! ;0)

Up until now Erica, Kara, and Eric were making it look "too easy!" They already covered more than half of the race and most of the difficult sections were behind them. At around mile 8.5 I parked the car and ran up to meet them and was greeted by a kiss flying through the air!
I was even able to run about a half mile with my sweetie...and she only told me to stop talking so much like twice! ;0)
From here I ran ahead to get some GU Chomps out of the car to pass off to big man Eric. I made the hand off and wished them well on their final climb and then descent to the finish. When I jumped in the car and turned it on there was a great upbeat song on the radio, so I rolled down all the windows and cranked it as I rode past them yelling, "WOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!"

I made it down to the finish area and waited patiently for the threesome to make it down. It wasn't long before I saw the 6'7'' Eric with his wife Kara and my wife Erica. What a cool thing to see...although I didn't capture the best finishing photo!
They were given their well deserved medals and we were really surprised to find out that they were pure gold!
Congratulations the three of you, you made coach proud, and to all the others that Ran Like Hell!
It was great to get a different perspective at the races and it definitely was inspiration!

After close to five weeks completely off from running crewing for these guys was my entry way back into training. My leg that took a beating in 100 in the Hood is showing no signs of discomfort, although the other one is not feeling completely right...go figure. I'm definitely easing my way back and it has been so nice to be back out on the trails. I was going a little stir-crazy there for a second.

Sorry for the little hiatus from the blog but I seem to be re-charged now and anxious to see what's around the corner :0)

Happy Running!