Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Year To Thrive

thrive- \ˈthrīv\- 1 : to grow vigorously : flourish 2 : to gain in wealth or possessions : prosper 3 : to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances —often used with on<thrives on conflict>

Thrive is also the name of a book (and nutrition guide) written by Professional Ironman Triathlete and Formulator of Vega Brendan Brazier. I got this book as a gift many months back but it was not the first time I have heard of him and the guide to optimal performance in sports and life.

Here is a link to Brendan Brazier's website where you can find loads of more information. Click Here!

"THRIVE is a must-read."----T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., best selling author of The China Study

Here is what it says from the back of the book:

Thrive is a long term eating plan that will help you develop a lean body, sharp mind, and everlasting energy, whether you're a professional athlete or simply looking to boost your physical and mental health. One of the few professional athletes on an entirely plant-based diet, Brendan Brazier developed this easy-to-follow program to enhance his performance as an elite endurance athlete. Clearly describing the benefits of a plant-based diet, Thrive will help you:
  • Lower body fat and increase muscle tone
  • Diminish visible signs of aging
  • Sleep better and more restfully
  • Experience better moods
  • Increase energy and mental clarity
  • Build a stronger immune system
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Eliminate junk-food cravings
Thrive also features exercise-specific recipes for pre-workout snacks, energy gels, sports drinks, and recovery foods.

I know what many of you are thinking..."I can't eat this way...I could never give up cheese...I need lots of protein, etc. etc.". I used to say all these things and many more up until about 6 months ago when I went from an occasional meat eater to strict vegan. After reading books and listening to podcasts on veganism and having myth after myth and misconception de-bunked for me I decided to give it a go to see how it worked for me. After about two months I knocked five minutes off of my road marathon PR! I can testify to the above mentioned physical and mental benefits and I must say that ethically I feel much better as well. Maybe it could work for you too!

I had a great week and am proud of myself that I really let my beat up body heal thoroughly. I got in the pool a couple times, lightly rode bicycle a couple times, hit the hot tub, and got a massage. It is fun helping my brother get ready for his first sprint distance triathlon and it dawned on me that I really love triathlon training. Initially I got into triathlon before marathons and ultras and definitely see myself getting back into it in the future. I like the cross-training aspect of the sport and my brother (who is the same size as me) likes the fact that I have all the gear that he can use!

I am really looking forward to getting back into the trail running this week and have already been scoping out the lay of the land of Bear Mountain, of my next ultra marathon (North Face Endurance Challenge 50-miler). If all goes well this week I plan on running The Skunk Cabbage Half-marathon on Sunday just a couple miles down the road starting in the heart of Cornell campus. I've done this race a few times and like the rolling terrain course. It's always a good time catching up with friends after the long winter.

Hope to see you out there!

Also, send your positive energy out to the hardcore group of endurance athletes that are out in the Sahara Desert (Morocco) right now competing in The Marathon des Sables. Follow updates of the race from competitor and ultra buddy Bryon Powell at

My father is from Morocco and I have spent a couple summers there so I can attest to the heat and lemme tell's no joke! That race is on my "bucket list" but for now...go get em' all you crazies out there now!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

H.A.T. Run 50K

The 21st annual H.A.T. Run 50K (run on the 21st of March 2009) is in the books. I had a wonderful experience heading down to a little bit warmer weather and to an established ultra marathon event.

I went down a little early because a friend of mine was running The Sun Trust Half-Marathon in D.C. on Saturday as well and she needed to get her packet, etc. so I was able to check out the (Hinte Anderson Trail) course for an easy 6 mile run on Friday. While I was out there I met race directors Tim Gavin and Jeff Hinte (the "H" in H.A.T.) and learned a little bit about the race, the history, and the deceitful toughness of the course. Both were very friendly and accommodating and they (and the volunteers) put on one heck of a race. Thanks y'all!

OK...on to the race! The morning was beautiful...chilly but sunny. Perfect racing weather and as the sun rose higher it turned out to be a picture perfect day. I saw some friends before the race (Christine and Joe Reynolds, Margie H., and met some new ones) and we all lined up in the open field awaiting instruction to do what we love...RUN! 9 am sharp we all took off following the lead bike on a paved road out and back. I thought that with over 400 starters this would be a good time to get out way ahead to avoid any congestion. That is what I did and was surprised how many others were doing the same. I raced in the Roclite 285's (one of my favorites) and they served me well for the type of terrain in Maryland in spring time.

The first few miles were quick...I mean blistering fast! At times there was a voice in my head that said, "slow're going too fast too early", but I stayed with (and often led) the lead pack. David J., Jason L., Matt W., Stephen and myself put a decent gap in between the rest of the racers and got to know each other as we navigated the ups and downs of Susquehanna State Park.

We came through 13 miles in about 1:35 and for a course that climbs almost 10,000 feet over 50K I was so surprised (and a little nervous) that these guys were so ambitious. I continued to hang up there though and we all kind of switched out the lead.

Around mile 18 or so I pulled away as some of the others stopped in at the pavilion to refuel, etc. About ten minutes later Matt W. pulled up behind me, exchanged a few words, and then passed me. We still had about nine miles to go so I thought I could still catch him despite losing sight of him. Around mile 25 things started catching up with me. My legs were slowing down and I was losing power going up the short steep parts. Also, my left IT band was starting to tighten up and I was forced to slow down a little. Soon there after another person passed me....then another...ugh! I couldn't believe this was happening! I quickly went from 1st to 4th place and was wondering how many more were hot on my heels.

With about 5K to go and after getting some more fuel in me and quickly stretching out while walking some uphills I was able to get back into some nice running grooves. I knew that 1st and 2nd place were out of contention for me but I really focused on catching the 3rd place guy (Glenn Redpath). The harder I pushed myself the more I reeled him in and with less than a mile to go I passed him in the open field before the finish line.

I came into the finish with a time of 4:05:22- good for 3rd place overall. Click HERE for full results.

Can't say enough about this race and glad I was able to participate in it as I will be out west next spring. The people were so friendly and experiencing the essence of ultra running was truly displayed in camaraderie and friendliness at this popular established event.

Well done to all the runners who took part this weekend. Frank Leiter placed 2nd again and ran a very strong second half of the race and mega props to newbie Matt Woods who broke 4 hours and the course record in only his second 50K ever! Nice meeting everyone and we'll see you out on the trails!...after I recover that is!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Feeling Lucky?!!

Hopefully a little of the “Luck of the Irish” rubbed off on me as I spent the last few days hanging out in arguably the most Irish city in our country: Boston!...and St. Patrick’s Day weekend to boot! As we rolled into town on Thursday evening we passed signs that brought back memories of the historical marathon course: Framingham, Natick, Newton, Brookline, and Copley Square. Finally, Erica had to tell me to shut up about the damn Boston Marathon!

The purpose of our trip was for Erica to attend a case teaching workshop at Harvard Business School. We tried to make it a kind of "play weekend" as well and I also visited a brother-of-a friend who attends Harvard’s Divinity School. What a beautiful weekend! I got some great tours of the prestigious Harvard campus and the weather was awesome with sunny blue skies every day. We stayed right on The Charles River in Cambridge and there was a nice foot path around the river exclusively for bikers, walkers, and runners and I took advantage of that for my Friday 9-miler.

Before traveling I googled, “trail running Cambridge, MA”, and I came across Breakheart Running blog that suggested some great trail routes just minutes from Cambridge. I had a gorgeous 13-mile trail run Saturday morning on The Skyline Trail and Reservoir Trail. Thank you for your report and suggestion Dan! At about mile three I got a little off track and came across another runner (Ryan S.). We ended up finding the white blazes and running and chatting for the next few miles. These trails were perfect training for many of the races I will be attending in the next few months. The 8-mile Skyline Trail was very rocky and had many roots with good elevation change. The Reservoir Trail was very runnable and was still pretty solid early but definitely started getting messy later in the morning as the temperatures rose.

Miles for the week: 50

Monday= Rest/hot tub

Tuesday= Easy 8 miles on Cayuga/Pink Trails with Eric S.—*cold rainy trail run

Wednesday= 30-minute leg massage in early afternoon; Easy 11 miles running from Cass Park to Coy Glen Rd. to run w/ Meka then back to Black Diamond Trail w/ Max; and extra loop w/ Scotie J.

Thursday= Rest

Friday= 9 miles around Charles River in Cambridge (7 miles @ 6:30/mi. pace)

Saturday= 13 miles on Skyline Trail and Reservoir Trail (ran w/ Ryan S. for about 2.5 miles)

Sunday= Easy 9 miles in evening running Warren Rd. Asbury Farrell loop

Well Spring Break is over and back to reality after a much needed moment to catch my breath. Looking forward to heading down to Maryland Thursday evening for Saturday’s H.A.T. Run 50K.

Quote of the week: "Running is a big question mark that is there each and every day. It asks you, 'Are you going to be a wimp or be strong today?'"----Peter Maher~ Irish-Canadian Olympian and sub 2:12 marathoner

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Back to the Trails

We had a pretty nasty winter here in central NY and I was even lucky enough to escape for a few weeks. In the four plus years I have been here I think this year logged the coldest temperatures. I must say that I think it is....(I'm not gonna say it and jinx us!!)...we'll just say it is subsiding.

It is so nice to be back to running in the forest as well. I was able to get on the Cayuga Trail this week, which is close to my house and snakes and winds all over this area. I also did a 21 mile long run on the soft South Hill Rec way trail in shorts and a tee shirt on Saturday and everyone was in such a great mood as the sun shined down.

Running high mileage on the roads over the last several weeks caused my body to get a little beat up. I listened though, backed off, and could definitely feel the difference this week as I bagged probably half of my miles on the soft and soggy trails.

This morning I was asked to be a "model" for Dominique as she taught prospective students in her Thai Massage workshop. So from like 10am to 12:30pm I got some free body work done which was much needed. Thai massage is something that runners can benefit from so much. She was using her feet to get into my hamstrings and doing some crazy stretches for my very tight IT Band and loosening up my hips, etc. It was so relieving!

I have started my taper for H.A.T. Run 50K in less than two weeks but still had a very solid week.

Miles for the week: 75

Monday= Rest
Tuesday= Easy 5 miles on treadmill at SUNY Cortland
Wednesday= 6 miles in morning behind airport and back; 6 miles in evening down Sapsucker Woods and back
Thursday= 13 miles on Cayuga and Pink trails with Warren Rd. add-on
Friday= 6 miles in morning (Speed workout 1.5 mile warm up; 3 miles @ 5:58/mi.; 1.5 mile cool-down); 5 miles in evening on Black Diamond Trail with Max
Saturday= 21 miles on South Hill Rec-way Trail with Karen G., Brian T., Tim I., Joe D., Dave J., Shelly M., Marnie, and a few others
Sunday= 13 miles on Skunk Cabbage half marathon course (11 miles @ 6:25 pace); two mile cool down

Spring break could not have come at a better time for me. I am happy to get caught up and relax a little and just not have to run from one thing to the least for the next few days. I will be babysitting my adorable nieces on Wednesday and heading to Boston on Thursday for the weekend as Erica has a work related function and I will be visiting a good friend. I am a little sad that I won't be competing in The Boston Marathon this spring but...oh well...can't do it all...even though I try!

Quote of the week: "In general, any form of exercise, if pursued continuously, will help to train us in perseverance. Long distance running is particularly good training in perseverance."---Mao Tse Tung, essay, 1918

Sunday, March 1, 2009

USA 50K Championships

In hindsight I kind of wish I listened to ultra runner amigo Todd Baum when he suggested a few months back that I go down to Caumsett Park for the U.S.A.T.F. 50K Championships in Lloyd Harbor, NY scheduled for March 1, 2009. I guess it just wasn't in the cards for me this year. I hope everyone had a good time down there today even if the weather was not ideal. We look forward to hearing more of the details soon.

Also, nice work to many of the members of TEAM Inov-8 in various races this weekend...check out the team blog (on the right-->) to read more about their fine performances.

Instead of racing against some of the best ultra runners in the northeast I decided to catch up on some sleep and course work (not at the same time as pictured above;0). I took it back a few notches this past week as far as training goes...just listening to the body and trying to stay healthy. However, I did add up the mileage for the month of February and I ran a whopping 365 miles for this short month!

Miles for the week= 50

So last night I googled "How to cook steel cut oats" and came across a great recipe...CLICK HERE that cooks slowly while you sleep. We woke up this morning to a warm, nutritious, and very tasty breakfast. I love the idea of rolling out of bed to already prepared yummy food. It's really easy and I definitely recommend it but, if I could change one thing, I would spray the crock pot with an olive oil type spray or PAM or something to prevent some major sticking to the sides. Other than maybe 10% lost to a crust on the walls of the crock pot we enjoyed a delicious meal, we have leftovers, and I know this is going to become a regular in our home...especially on early race mornings! Try it out and let me know how it works for you!

Ahhhh March is here which means in 20 days or less spring officially starts. I know that many people are ready for the change in the season and my tired body is ready for some reprieve of pounding the pavement. I actually had a dream the other night that I was running on some wild, technical trail really it was fun!

Not a whole lot to report this weekend...It was kind of weird not running but my body definitely needed a rest. Looking forward to getting back out there soon though! Have a great week everyone!!

Quote of the week: "During the hard training phase never be afraid to take a day off. If your legs are feeling unduly stiff and sore, REST; if you are at all sluggish, REST; in fact, if in doubt, REST."-------Bruce Fordyce