Friday, December 20, 2013

The Christmas Blues- Upstate New York and How to Train in the Dead of Winter

For all those out there, you probably have already seen some significant snow and icky weather to make any commute a headache waiting to happen. Currently, I am living in lovely Upstate New York a mecca for lake-effect snow and cold harsh winter conditions. Luckily, nowadays we have wonderful companies that are producing running/outdoor apparel that can function well in really cold temps.  My sponsor Mammut, has some of the best winter running apparel out there!  Because their apparel has their roots in Alpine performance, you know that the gear is going to last and will keep you warm regardless of the conditions. Below will be my "ode to Mammut MTR", a review of their current winter items I have come to love for my winter racing and training and why they are so awesome!

The First top that I will Investigate is the Kala Patar Jacket Hoody.

*Priced at $149 this jacket does everything you could ask for out of a warm and super-functional mid/outer layer. I love hoodies for running in Upstate New York because of the wind-chill and precipitation that often times the hood is able to add that extra 5-10 degrees of warmth your head is missing.  The Kala Patar Hoody has a great warm wind-blocking thermal fleece called Field Sensor. The jacket also has the following features: Combination of two different functional materials,
Waffle backing retains heat, durable and fast-drying outside, soft and warm inside, Elastic inserts for optimum freedom of movement, Thin and elastic material in the hip area to avoid creating too much bulk under a climbing harness or in the pants, 1 chest pocket with zip, Close-fitting hood, Lots of freedom of movement, Flatlock, non-protruding seams, Thumb loop made for comfort and durability
and an Athletic Fit (As mentioned from 

If I had to some up what makes this jacket such a core piece it would be

Range of Movement    This stretch top features a great balance of stretchy fabric mixed with the Field Sensor fleece which gives you the proper range of movement desired in running.  The piece moves with you as an extension of the body rather than some piece of fabric that restricts your movement.  The Kala Patar Tech Hoody gives you that smooth flow in running and really excels. From trail running, road running, to snowshoe running, this top is hard to be beat. 

Warmth/Insulation    This top is one of my best that I own in this department. Not only is this hooded jacket light weight and can easily be layered and packed away, but the hoody absolutely thrives in terms of warmth.  Most cold blustery winter days, I just need a technical short sleeve or long sleeve shirt to and the jacket and I am all set. The waffle fleece outer shell blocks some wind making it a wind-resistant top and the hood acts as a great buffer for extremely cold snaps in Upstate which occur frequently this time of year.  I never over-heat in this top and with a proper layering depending on the harsh conditions, this top never goes stale. Also great for snowshoe running as the snow that you kick up on most regular thermal mid layer running tops absorb the snow as it melts and re-freezes. With the Kala Patar top, this does not occur which means you stay nice and dry for the whole duration of a snowshoe run and after.

Versatility     This top is my favorite mid layer/jacket from Mammut for high aerobic activities. Snowshoe Running this top excels, cold long training runs it excels, short quick fartlek runs it excels, and even as a comfortable top to wear around town. Mammut's category of "Alpine Performance" is one of the best and most versatile categories in their line of products. This top is easily packable, able to be comfortably layered with and fits well under soft or hard shell jackets, and provides exceptional warmth.  It can act as a core Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter piece with the right levels of layering. The fleece is also tear resistant and does not feel like it will easily pill which is something we often notice with other outdoor companies and their fleece jackets. Great for running, snowshoeing, hiking, ice climbing, rock climbing, going out on a boat, you name it this top can handle it.

Weight    To sum it up, this top is light but not too thin.

Another great top Mammut has been making is the MTR 141 Thermo Half Zip. This is your nice and warm half zip with reflective Mammut logos on the chest and shoulder as well as a cozy internal fleece and nice stretch warm jersey fabric.  What makes the MTR 141 Thermo top competitive with other brands is that it seems to handle the STRETCH MOBILITY category the best I have seen out of a thermal run top of the same caliber.  Mammut's is warmer than most that would have this level of stretch. It is just a wonderful top that does such a nice job of keeping you warm. I am always excited to see where our Mammut products continue to head.  I am excited to see them continue to morph and adapt and I think that Mammut is on the right course.

Snowshoe Season---Jan 18th--It BEGINS!
My first snowshoe race will be the 18th at the Cockadoodle Shoe 10k, a qualifier for Nationals held in Saranac, NY-in the Adirondack outskirts. I am really excited to get out onto the trails once we get some more snow since it has all but melted due to the warm weather and rain.  I always look forward to this time of year and I am excited to see how things go for me this season.  I think that I have the potential again to make the National team and maybe surprise some people because we will always have those doubters.  I am building off of my best Fall season of racing yet.  I think if all things go according to plan, I will really put myself out there in the National forums for snowshoe, trail and ultra running.  It might be that time I "crest the summit" into the next level of professionalism and publicity.

Training for December
Training has been pretty solid this December.  No racing, only time on the feet out amongst the steep hills of Cortland, NY.  I have not had as much in terms of quality training or high mileage but I take December as my rest month. If I feel good, I run, If I don't, then well...I jog easy.  I have averaged probably 60-high 80's for mileage this month depending on my time schedule and at the least have been averaging 10 miles a day or so.  I have run more doubles this winter so far than what I have been used to but this has helped keep my legs fresh and also get in the desired amount of mileage without too much fatigue. In the winter, my focus is on running more by effort than time and mileage. If  I run for 45 minutes that is okay!  I can always get a longer run in later in the week or can have more uptempo days to get in some quality work.  With winter you have darkness, cold temps, icky precipitation and just the holiday rush.  It is more than enough to deter us from consistent training and that is just fine as long as we make an effort to still remain active during the winter and do not hibernate like the bears.  I like snowshoe running for this reason. With snowshoe running, I am out in beautiful snow-covered settings and get an incredible workout in less time than a simple road run.  Less miles and the same if not better level of fitness.  Because snowshoe running is very strength-based, I recommend some road running or treadmill running to just turn-over the legs to keep our muscle fibers firing on all cylinders. It is important to keep us limber so that once the snow thaws and spring races are on the horizon, we are ready to go.

2014 "A" Race Tentative Schedule

1. Mad City 100k- Madison, WI ---USA 100k Road Champs and Qualifying for USA 100k Team

2. Cayuga Trails 50 miler- Ithaca, NY--USA 50 Mile Trail Champs

3. Tussey Mountainback 50-USA 50 mile Road Champs

4. JFK 50 Mile--Most Historic 50 Miler Ever!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Back To Training--Winter is Here! Or Almost Here! Getting Ready For Snowshoe Season

We have had some snow showers in the last few weeks after the Mendon Ponds 50k race.  Ashlee and myself are excited for Thanksgiving and the Holidays!

Beautiful view of Cortland!!!

The training has started to ramp up this week right before Thanksgiving. I am back to running strong and fast and have been putting in the miles and hills. For the week I am on pace to finish in the low to mid 80's, the perfect amount of work for me.  We had our first snow in Cortland, NY! The pictures above highlight the snow-crusted streets and the beginning of winter.  I love this time of year once all the racing is done and I can just get back out to going on fun adventure runs, just enjoying the scenery.  It is interesting, I never thought Cortland, NY out of all places would grow on me the way that it has.  I love SUNY Cortland, my classes and professors, I love the seasons here and the ability to run for the most part car free is always a wonderful thing. I love sharing these moments with Ashlee and our cats: Nollie and Libby. It has been a wonderful year with tons of growth in all aspects.
From a running stand-point, I have reached new levels I never thought I could. I gave the 50 mile distance a shot and love it. It is now my marquee distance. I ran 4 solid ultras this year with 3 course records and a 9th place finish at the Cayuga Trails 50. I am optimistic about next year and I look forward to sharing more adventures with everyone out there. 

School is winding down and it is almost holiday season which I love every year.  There is just something about this time of year that just gives you this energy and excitement. I know for some they cannot stand the holidays but let me tell you that this time of year is unique and we should in fact embrace the end of another year.  Fall into Winter offers a transition a slumber of sorts.  We are given holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukah and Kwanza and all these modes of celebration. We have New Years and holiday spirit.  I always look at this time of year as our time of reflection. We have lived through another year and our struggles have made us stronger and our victories have been sweet and savor those moments and move on forward to the next series of goals.


I am now going to focus on base training. I would like to get in the hills, the trails, the cold runs that build character for a race. I would like to experience life, through my own eyes.  It is about getting back to basics, about getting back to your roots.  I hope to run some great trail runs and training efforts to rest the body and begin to build fitness until snowshoe season rolls around in January. For speed I like to integrate my 12 mile run half at a standard 6:40-7 minute pace and then follow-up that with 40 minutes of 30 second surges then 30 seconds at a fast but relaxed pace. I often run this workout running 5:20-5:35 minute mile averages. A run like this gives me that stress of speed I desire for a longer race without sprinting or doing interval track workouts which I am not a big fan of. I also enjoy doing hill sprints usually on a loop course I make often I like to head out to the Cortland High School Cross Country Course in the woods and practice some repeats.
Rest this time of year is key. With all the racing I have done this year, I always believe in having fun with running and do not worry about the specifics of the training. If you feel good one day then go for it otherwise do not worry about it.  I always have a tendency this time of year to run my best or at least feel the best so that once Spring rolls around, I am ready to run smart and fast.  For all those reading this out there my best advice for training is to learn what works best for yourself. Always keep in mind these aspects:

*Race Specific Training
*Long Runs Build Endurance, Short Runs Build Speed
*Rest is just as IMPORTANT as training

I find that when I train based on a particular race, it helps prepare myself for the event. I always keep my base mileage significant 70-90 miles a week but add different target running to simulate race conditions. Maybe Race-pace running or running similar elevation profiles help the body and you learn what effort is needed come race day.
I also think that incorporating long runs to build endurance and some odd-paced or different paced running is key to test the body in different aspects. Having some speed not only makes you kick at the end of a race but you can also have a little better flexibility and leg extension which can help aid in running faster.
Rest is key. I say that because so many of us take this concept for granted. With my career getting off the ground the common pressure is to race at a lot of events at max-capacity. I have a system of 4 key races a year.  I focus a 50 miler for each season of the year. This gives me enough races to prove myself and proper rest and training blocks in-between events. If I feel antsy, I enter into a fun road 5k,10k or Half Marathon to mix it up a little and to test myself in a different running system.  I think this allows for us to grow in new ways. I do not agree with racing every weekend. Pick and chose your battles. For me, I know that a road race will not place me in the red but if I were to do too much maybe after a tough 50 miler than I would be dramatically altering my recovery.  This winter, I snowshoe run to mix it up and to stay competitive in the winter time. It is not only a great workout but because snow is soft, those with impact issues do great in snowshoe running because fresh powder is softer than even grass. I highly suggest looking into snowshoe running. If you are curious about it you can always message me. I would love to give you more information.  Happy Holidays Everyone and be Safe!

Here is also a great link about the Can-Lake 50 race performance from October! I hope you enjoy the read:

Running with Daven in the Early Miles Around Mile 10
Finishing The Can-Lake 50 in 5:47:23!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mendon Ponds 50k---The Race for the USATF Niagara Ultra Series Championship Points Series

This weekend,  I will be running the Mendon Ponds 50k Nov, 2nd to ensure I keep my lead in the USATF Niagara Ultra Running Series Points standings.

It is going to be a great experience running with some solid NY talent: Here is Tom Perry (Can-lake 50 race director)'s post on the event:

"The online registration for the Mendon Trail Runs is SOLD OUT for the first time ever. The 50K has 133 pre-registered entrants... Double WOW. The 20K has 82 pre-registered; the 10K has 63 and the (longer than) 5K has 18 signed up.
The 50K has some real horses: Cole Crosby who won Virgil Crest and Can Lake (both 50 milers in new course records), Daven Oskvig (Mendon 50K record holder), Jim Sweeney from Albany (frequent ultra winner). Local stars Phil Nesbitt, Ed Housel, Ted Thull and GRTC President Wilt Alston (in what we believe will be his first ultra) are in the field"

This event is turning out to be historic and I am so lucky to be apart of the history.

I do not know how the race will play out on Saturday but with it being my last ultra of the year for 2013, I might as well go for it. What do  I have to lose? 

The race is over and let me tell you my legs are feeling it today!  It was a hard fought race where the pace we went out in was under 7 minute pace at many points.  I kept that pace until my GPS watch died around the end of Lap 2 into Lap 3.

The race course was actually deceptively challenging. The continuous ups and downs really got to you by laps 4 and 5 of the course. The course being a lovely wooded section with hardly any roots and great trail conditions made for a fast day out there.  The rain towards the end did in fact take away from quick foot speed but by that point, I think everyone was ready to finish like myself included. I had a great time running a 50k which in comparison to a 50 miler is much different than going that additional 20 or so miles in a 50 miler.  The 50k race started out hot from the get-go with Daven leading the way.  I hung behind assessing our pace and just having fun. At times my watch would read 6 minute pace and other times we were near mid to low 7's just depending on a hill or a downhill or flat section. We were running strong.  I felt fairly fluid throughout the run. We kept pace for the whole first loop. Myself running a second or two behind Daven. I wanted to see the course so that I would not get lost or confused later on when I knew I would be tired.  We went through the first 10k aid station point and then continued on lap 2.  Somewhere in Lap 2 we continued to run together and with our blistering 6 minute range pace even on the uphills and then by about mile two in lap 2, I caught even with Daven and then kept going at that fast pace.

Thanks to Tom Perry For these awesome photos:
Making the climb near mile 2 of the race 1st loop of the 50k

Loop 1

Ready to take my Jacket off!

Loop 2
Loop 2 at this point in the photo, I had kept going at that fast pace and just focused on being relaxed. I knew I was already primed to run well so even I was going to tank in the race, I was going to be happy with my performance regardless. The winding trails of Mendon were a lot of fun. The uphills were a challenge later on in the race and the cool weather I think allowed for me to run quick as I enjoy colder weather. The rain made it even cooler on the last loop. And so the games begun. I was running relaxed going up and down the hills of Mendon.

Loop 3
 *By Loop 3, I was in a rhythm except for the fact that my GPS watch died in the second lap past the 5k aid station. I had no idea what pace I was running so I was running quick. I took my gels at this point to get some calories and sugar going and my stomach was actually a little off this run. I had some indigestion from the Hammer Heed which I do not totally love but I fought through it. At this point, I was starting to feel the beginning signs of fatigue but nothing too tough. I also was not enjoying the fact that it was a loop course and I still had 2+ more loops to go.

Loop 4
By Loop 4, the saying goes "The wheels have come off the bus". I was fatigued. From the 20 mile point to the 31 mile point, my legs had enough. I was not running downhills fast and efficient. I was clopping and having loud footstrikes. I used gels to help keep me going and man I got really hungry this loop too. I was ready for an aid station to manifest a yummy cheeseburger. It was during this time that I thought of all of the hard work that has been put in to get myself to this point. I think of myself as an average 25 year old: going to graduate school, trying to figure out life. My only difference is I love to run and run I shall! This Fall has been a culmination of hard work. Getting into Ultra running, I never thought I would be able to thrive in the sport so quickly but I have just listened to my body and been as smart as I could on the day. Here I was on my fourth lap of a 50k running under course record pace after running both the Virgil Crest Ultra 50 miler in end of September the Can-Lake 50 in October 12 and two weeks later a 50k. I would not do this again in terms of race running. I did not have enough time to recover and then train to build fitness again. You need at least a month for that training to increase your performance.

Loop 5

Loop 5, I lost tons of time in the race. I had trouble powering my legs on the ups and the downhill sections I just managed a crawl. I was running ok but my early pace had finally caught up with me.  And with 6 miles to go, anything could happen. The rain began to fall and I was like NOOOO! By this moment, the trails were a little muddy and you had to be a little cautious on the descents. I stopped at the last aid station to drink some water and power it home. Those last three miles I think I actually started to feel better. I knew I was about to finish and my legs responded a little better than lap 4.
I hit the final section of trail heading across the road and into the finish. I knew I had the race and kicked it in like it was a 5k. It felt great to cap off such a season!


Kicking with track speed!

With this finish I came in at 3:41:55 under the 3:52 previous course record. It was an incredible year and Fall season of running.  I never thought in my wildest dreams I would be able to get myself this fit. I won the USATF Niagara Ultra Running Series with 351 points which I think might be the highest point total to date. Now I have to wait to get a sweet winner's jacket in the upcoming weeks. And what is exciting is that I still have tons of time to build and grow.  I am brand new to Ultra running and this year has shown some success and I cannot wait to build on it for 2014.

Items Used For Race:

Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Bottle
Ultimate Direction Essential Belt
6 GU Roctane Gels
3 Cups of Water
1 Cup of Heed (it made my stomach funny)
1 20oz bottle of GU Brew it start the race
Acidotic Racing Head Buff
Mammut MTR 201 Pro Low (Spring 2014 release)
Mammut Active Cap (Black)
Mammut MTR 201 Longsleeve Zip
Mammut MTR 141 Thermo Longsleeve Zip
Mammut Go-Far Hoody
Mammut MTR 71 shorts
Mammut MTR 201 Micro Jacket
Zensah Calf Sleeves

So what it comes down to now is what do I do next?  Well, for starters, I am going to take some time off and just enjoy running. Build that base and get ready for snowshoe season.  Might I do a turkey trot for fun, yeah why not!  I can say that it has been a great journey and I really appreciate all the support.

I would love to have everyone voice their opinions on what races I should place on my calendar for 2014.  I am looking for 2-3 High Profile 50 milers for 2014 with some space inbetween them. Here has been some of my thoughts so far.

Lake Sonoma 50 Miler in California in April

Cayuga Trails 50 Miler in Ithaca, NY (Redemption Race)

Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile Road Championships (October)

JFK 50 mile Road (November)

I have other races of interest such as the Adirondack Marathon, the ADK 80k, Manitou's Revenge, Stonecat 50 miler. If you have any suggestions of races you would like to see me at, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Top Three at Mendon!

Race Results:

Thank you to everyone at USATF Niagara, New York Ultra racers, Mammut, Acidotic Racing, Karhu, Craft, Fits Socks, Dion Snowshoes and Confluence Running/Finger Lakes Running for giving me the support and time to have an incredible year! Thank you to my father, my family, and my love and inspiration, Ashlee Prewitt for all the support she gives!

The prize for finishing a cool map of the course!

My birthday present, bundles of socks!!!

Race Ready: Zensah Green Calf Sleeves, Mammut MTR 201 Pro, Fits Ultra Light Runner No-show, and MTR 71 shorts!

Thank you everyone for a great year!
Here are some more photos provided from the event!!!!!!!!!


Monday, October 14, 2013

Can-Lake 50 Race Report---5:47:22--Running Out of My Mind!

RACE REPORT FINISHED!!!!!!!! Here are some photos taken from the event from some photographers at the race site: Al Randt and Natalie Werner

Photo 15 minutes before the start!!!

It is almost race time!

The Start with Daven

First few miles

Coming off the turnaround at mile 36

Heading into the loop at mile 33 ish


Ashlee Prewitt's Photo of the Finish:

This race was incredible!  I still cannot fathom what I did on Saturday. I felt like I was just running nothing special. Little did I know that I would run a great time that Tom Perry (RD of Can-Lake) would mention in an email to me  as being the fastest 50 mile time since 1985 in the region.  I keep asking myself  {How did I set myself up for such a solid performance?  How did I run that quick? What juice am I on?  Was it the shoes?}  And through this race report maybe we can shed some light on what might have potentially led me to having my break-out performance of my short career to date!

I ran with my Craft and Karhu gear as my main sponsor for the road edition of the race with my sleek Mammut Active Visor, Ultimate Direction SJ Essential Belt and Jurek Bottle with my Acidotic Racing Tatoos!  

Ashlee, my lovely girlfriend who is a big component in this race performance, and myself made the trip out to the Finger Lakes to celebrate our 3 year anniversary and to have some great fun together. I signed up for the Can-Lake 50 well in advance before it was sold out and so this race was a definite race on my schedule for quite some time.  This was my peak Fall Ultra and it was such a pleasure to finally have Ashlee experience an ultra with me.

We drove out to Canandaigua in the late afternoon and headed to the Super 8 Motel after some yummy dinner at a restaurant in Seneca Falls, NY. Tomorrow was going to be the big day. We got some shut-eye and then the alarm sounded at a brisk 5:30 am. I still wanted to get a Gatorade and maybe a coffee before the 7 am race start just to make sure I was fueled up and ready to run around the perimeter on an entire Finger Lake.  We headed to the Wegmans across the street and got our goodies. The coffee shop was not opened yet but I did have a nice glazed doughnut and some Arctic Ice White Gatorade I could swig on before the 50 miler would begin. We headed to the venue that is held at the Finger Lakes Community College and proceeded with the check-in process. I got my sweet neon orange shirt and then went out to the car to get my bib on.  

It was  a cool morning with the temps near 42 or so though they would warm up to 75 or so by mid-day.  I was trying to decide if I wanted to run with gloves or not but I made the decision to not use gloves because I thought the temperature would warm quickly and of course surely I would be throwing my gloves to the side within the first few miles as I would warm up.  

Ashlee would be out along the course at the aid stations except for the first few so that she could grab some gas for the car and some breakfast because we had to rush the morning so we did not have time to pick-up much.  Awaiting the start of the race, I had my Craft  Performance Thermal Wind Top Half-zip which kept me warm before we headed out.  I was excited about the race and I noticed that the current course record holder was running the event, Daven Oskvig. Daven had run the course record the previous year in a blistering fast time of 6:19:08 and that was my main goal or focus in terms of time.  I knew that if I could average under 7:35 or so a mile I would have the record. With the course having rolling Upstate New York hills and the famous 1.5 mile long Bopple Hill that is an average grade of maybe 6.3% and tops of 25% grades, this course was going to be a challenge. It was not your average flat 50. The Can-Lake 50 website:  mentions about 3,500 feet of elevation gain which is not incredible by ultra standards but enough to pose a challenge.  

THE RACE----------
The race was delayed because there was not any officers at the first traffic light in town to begin the race. So we waited until 7:10 am for the race to begin. Ashlee snapped some photos of me and I kissed her goodbye as we headed out.  I started my pace just having fun running with a WAL-MART WATCH!  I forgot my GPS watch at Confluence Running, the store I work at on Thursday so I was going to be running a 50 miler with only a full-on timer.  I would have to rely on my body to tell me the signals of going too fast or slow.  Maybe running without a GPS watch was one key factor to why I ran so well?

The first few miles---I am running and talking with Daven Oskvig about my running and the race and we are out running a comfortable but solid pace.  I notice the spray paint markers on the road for each mile as I remember seeing the beautiful lake views right to the left of myself and that magic "Mile 3" marker hearing Daven's watch beep and then I look at my watch and it shows "21:03". I am thinking around 7 minute pace nice!  We are under course record time!  The effort seems so relaxed and the cool morning feels so good. I was right that gloves would have been thrown away by mile 3.  It was a perfect morning as the sun was glaring across the lake in brilliant orange hues.  It was peaceful and MAN those houses along the lake were nice too!  I was barely sweating and I just knew that today was going to be a great day to run. My body felt in-tune and I knew that later in the race, Daven and myself would be running some quick miles to get that record. Daven's father was out on the course to give Daven aid at various locations. I remember coming along a marina section and Daven yells "Sunglasses" and from the distance, his father comes running from a collection of parked cars to give Daven the glasses. I stop for a second to see if I should wait for him and then I just keep going at the pace.  I make it to the next aid station and then Daven catches up and pulls ahead of me.  At this point we are under 10 miles but near mile 8 or so. An hour of running has elapsed and I take my first gel.  Daven is a pretty interesting guy too. I thought while living in Buffalo he would be a dentist or working in some Computer Tech Firm but no, he is a Pastor as I recall. Yeah, that is so cool running with a Pastor!  Hearing all about his passion of ultra running was neat too.  We continue to exchange the lead back and forth running relaxed and well under course record pace. I had a feeling Daven and myself would exchange the lead all day and then finally have to make a push the last 6 miles to see who would come out on top.

Mile 10-Bopple Hill at 16.3 miles---------------------

I could see that Daven was sweating a bunch in the cool weather as my Craft T did not show a drop of sweat on myself. I was nice and cool and well-hydrated.  At this point in the race, the hills started forming.  They were not super steep hills but in the scheme of a 50 miler on the roads, they were a little steep.  We hit those and just remained to run relaxed. The talking kind of stopped here.  I took in all of the views during this section seeing the high hills in the distance with the fall foliage and the lake as the perfect backdrop.  Then before I knew it, Daven stopped with his father to get some aid after mentioning how running up Bopple Hill was not worth it. Of course my strategy was to in fact run Bopple Hill to the best of my ability and then surge on the long continuous downhill.  So Daven stops for aid and then BAM! This is Bopple Hill!  I was ready for like a band to be at the hill's beginning but it never came. We had caught the early starters and I made my strategic move...Running almost all of Bopple Hill. This was where I would make my initial move. I knew coming in that I could run the whole thing and actually when I started running the hill, I realized it was very similar to the Ames Hill Road incline I do just a half of a mile longer and not as consistently steep--(Avg grade of Bopple I think is 6.3% while Ames Hill is 11.7%).  At that point I ran Bopple really well and then had my stomach gurgle. I stopped to relieve myself in a person's driveway--I am sorry if it was your driveway which costed me a minute to 2 minutes then I accelerated the rest of the downhill. I hit the aid station and had my bottle almost topped off and to make up lost time, I sprinted by the aid station waving at Ashlee and the crew there. From that point on, I was running quick! I had picked up my pace on the downhill and just began to stride it out still in control not doing anything beyond my own limitations.

Post-Bopple Hill to the Marathon Point----I remember coming down another nice hill over to the High Tor Wildlife Management area. It was really interesting to see the swampy-looking land and of course as a Park/Recreation enthusiast, I was excited to view such a beautiful area. At this point in the race, I felt like I had some separation on second but with Daven being the current course record holder, he would know when to push in points I had no idea. I feel that having that type of runner behind you always plants that seed to continue to push yourself and that was something I did the whole 50 miles of the race. With my pace I knew I was probably running under 7 minutes per mile though it never felt bad or off. I still remained relaxed and strong.  It was a nice gesture of Daven's father to offer me anything as I passed his car. Some really great people out here for sure.  I kept to my pace and then came across a bridge section and hit the next aid station area knowing I was close to the 25 mile point (halfway).  I saw a parking lot section to my right as my girlfriend, Ashlee comes running asking if I needed anything like Kit Kat Bars which I felt great!  I had no desire for such treats unfortunately until the next day at least.  I topped off my bottle and the aid station crew said I was doing amazing. The temperature was just starting to warm-up as my watch was getting closer to 3 hours.  I spent a minute or 2 at the aid station and I was off. We hit a gradual uphill section and Ashlee powered into her car and followed me stating I was close to mile 28 and I was well in the lead.  We agreed that I would meet here in two aid stations down the way (approx. 10 miles) when I would really need her help and I stressed I would need her help.  My legs still felt limber and solid.  I was just running, enjoying the sights and the whole experience. I then crossed the chalk line labeled "26.2" and looked at my watch and it displayed 3:04.

Marathon Point to Mile 38---(My Breaking Point)----- THREE HOURS AND 4 MINUTES!!!!!!!!  Wow!!!! I was really impressed with my running. That meant that If I kept my pace, I would maybe finish around 6:10 or so which would place me about 10 minutes under the course record pace. I knew that I could run that quick so I kept the pace.  Little did I know, I guess I picked up my pace more-so.  If I was to run that additional marathon, I would have been about 10 minutes under 3:04 which meant I was moving.  Seeing Ashlee at the aid stations helped me to carry my spirits and my one gel every 30,40,60 minutes was paying off. The pasta the night before did great too besides my little bathroom stop after Bopple Hill but that is Ultra Running for ya!  I accelerated the road section here slightly into the next aid station at The church at Middlesex.  I passed the aid station with a decent bottle and now knew the next big climb was coming as I was told it would happen near the 50k point near mile 30-32. I was ready.....The next four miles I rose to the challenge. The road had a nice climb out of the Church aid station at Middlesex what felt like immediately. I ran the whole uphill section maintaining my pace and effort. When the downhill rolling hills came, I let myself go and picked up time.  Running through this whole section, I felt ready to go. I was ready to run strong and I hoped it showed.  I was mentally strong and really began to realize that I was on to a fast performance.  The recollection of this performance really did not hit me until I looked at my watch with 8 miles to go but we will get there in the story.  I felt strong from the hill and the downhill sections and loved getting into a more residential section.  I blasted down the hill to the next aid station still feeling strong but the heat of the day starting to make me feel it. I was not sweating a whole lot as Craft makes some solid wicking shirts but the direct sun was a little much.  I dumped water onto myself at Vine Valley Aid Station and talked to the volunteers that it was getting a little hot but I was still feeling just fine.  I now headed into the out and back section where I knew I would have a chance to see where Daven would be.  I headed out to the out and back along a small and narrow road and WOW was that lake beautiful.  The views from this road were spectacular.  I ran to a man and woman cheering me on saying Hooray for first or something to that extent.  I continued down the way knowing it was about a 5k section.  I kept going seeing no markings on the road. Had I made the wrong turn????

WAS I LOST????  At this point in the race, I was starting to fatigue just a little though still felt pretty decent. I was moving hard at this point. I wanted the win.  My mind started fleeting to myself going off course and ruining a chance at the record.  These things happen to me.  I kept going until I saw a little arrow on the road marking the turn-around.  Whew, ok, I made it.  Now that hard part felt like it was over. I made the right turn and now could really run. I picked up my pace.  I saw Daven approach me at what looked like a close point. Maybe he was 7-12 minutes behind me. That was still close with about 35 miles in the race.  My legs were getting a little on the cramping side from the pounding of the roads and the heat of the day. By this point, it was near 70+.

The next section to the aid station, I was tired.  This section Vine Valley to the Top of Bare Hill Climb had me not feeling so hot. I felt like this whole section was an uphill. I contemplated walking a few times and the road then made a sudden turn from the exposed farm roads to an off access road.  The hill lay before me.  I did not want to run steep uphills anymore.  My run went from a solid pace to a tip-toe pace.  I could see the aid station at the top and I would power-hike and run, powerhike and run just to see if I could recover a little.  I thought about how Daven looked pretty good and that every moment I walked, he could be gaining on me.  I pushed really hard at this section, downed two gels and drank my whole handheld bottle maybe 14 oz out of 20.  I finally made it to the top aid station exhausted.

Mile 38 to the Finish----"I wish I was Done ALREADY!!!! "  I cooled off at the aid station and knew this was it. I was near mile 40 and the finishing point was now. What was I made of.  I had felt great almost all the way through 38 mile before mentally I almost wanted to give up.  I got all set-up at the aid station and mentioned how that hill killed my legs.  I mentally prepared myself and off I went.  Running the rolling hills completely exposed to the sun, seeing every mile marking on the road made this section feel like eternity.  The last 12 miles was my personal gut check. I thought back to all of my hard training runs and all the effort I placed in myself so that I could perform on this day. I wanted the best performance out of myself I could possibly do.  It was cool. I really had to mentally will myself in the race. I was alone. It was getting hot. I felt a little dehydrated and the gels I was ingesting would only take a little sting out of my ailing legs but not the brunt of the pain.  I grimaced a lot from here on out.  I was running out of steam.  So what did I do?  Did I fold here? Or did I rise to the challenge?

I thought about myself and how crazy I am for running ultras but the lessons you learn from them are so key.  I fought hard every mile. I took the race one mile at a time. I knew if I could make it a mile, I could make it to the next.  With 10k to go I was so done with this race. I was holding on just to finish. At this point I felt like my running was a crawl though I guess split-wise it probably was in the 7 minute range.  I handled every downhill and uphill well to the best of my ability. At this point in an ultra, I had run 38 splendid miles and the last 12...well, I need to work on that.  I made it to the second to last aid station with Ashlee there and she mentioned I had a nice lead. I of course never thought I had the race in the bag though while looking at my watch through this section maybe with 8 to go, I saw I was just at 4 hours. I began stalking my watch to speculate what time I would finish.  At the aid station, I dumped tons of water that Ashlee had gotten for me all over my head to cool myself off. I refueled and said my goodbyes as I headed closer to the finish.  I thought to myself, "How can I survive?"  I felt like I was a lead body that could hardly move.  I mentally pulled myself along the road sections up and down the countryside of Upstate New York.  I never take where I am in a race for granted. There have been too many times where I have been complacent and it cost me a better position or a race.  I eventually turned onto Middle Road...The BUSIEST Road in the race.  I was so done with the race at this point, it was survival.  My fatigue made me angry at the cars coming so close to me that none moved to the other side as I was running all on the gravel side of the road those cars were moving into the shoulder inches from my face like it would be a fun thing to hit a runner.  I did not like it one bit. I kept going, my focus on ahead.  I crested a small hill to the last and final aid station.  I met Ashlee and she asked me where my watch was. I told her I was at 5:23 and had less than 5k to go.  I refueled for my final push, kissed her goodbye and off  I went.  Soon, I would be finished....soon. At moments I wrestled with walking, I kept shuffling my feet.  It was embarrassing. I then tried to call on my body to make one last push when I saw "2 to go".  I was so ready for this race to end.  I had to hold on. I then thought of Daven coming up on me the last mile and outkicking me to win.  That is one thing about an ultra, when you run in a position for like 4-8 hours and then passed in the last few miles, that is demoralizing.  I could not have that happen to me.  I pushed my body to the mile to go marker seeing the FLCC signs knowing I was there. I slowed down at this point.  I hit the dead end and went around to the finishing road.  Once I had hit that road, I knew I had done it.  Relief was what I experienced most. Seeing Ashlee and everyone at the finish at my 5:47:23 time was amazing.  WOW! I had run out of my mind.

I never thought I could run that much under the course record.  My second half did not even feel that great.  Now I am up for the points title for the USATF Niagara Ultra Race Series and I will have to race at Mendon Ponds on Nov 2 to ensure my win. Just for showing up and finishing, I think I will have the title. I am in recovery mode still, but I might as well test the body after huge runs for me at Virgil Crest and Can-Lake.  I do not know If I can repeat such performances in such little time again so I might as well go for the title.

I would like to thank Ashlee for giving me such inspiration and motivation throughout this run. She was my good luck charm.  Thank you to Daven Oskvig for having such a great course record in place, to challenge me during the run and to be such a fabulous competitor.  Thank you to all of my sponsors for making me look and dress the part and for believing in me.  Thank you Mammut, Fits Socks, Acidotic Racing, Karhu/Craft, Dion Snowshoes, and my work at Confluence Running for helping me reach my dreams. Thank you to the awesome volunteers and to Tom Perry for being an amazing ambassador for Ultra Running and for putting on a stellar race!

Items used in Race: *Mammut Active Visor
*Ultimate Direction Essential Belt and Jurek Bottle
*Walmart Watch

What have we learned here?????????

This is where you come in. Comment leave your thoughts about the race.  What led me to this top performance which for me has been the highlight of my career so far?  I think the answer lies in a large sum of different factors: smart training in the late summer, resting after Virgil Crest, having Ashlee at the race, Daven Oskvig pushing me throughout the race, decent morning weather, solid nutrition, this list goes on.

CONCLUSION: With this performance, I hope I can inspire others to follow in my footsteps. Truly, I did not do anything special on the day. I did what I love to do, Run! Plain and Simple.  That is the best strategy. When running becomes all about science-peak performance stuff, I lose interest. Running is about the simplicity of the activity and that is why I love it.  In ultra racing, we push our own limitations and that is the coolest thing about these races. I have to test myself more so than the competition. I have to be better than myself and fight my insecurities.  At Can-Lake, it was my day. I ran smart, maybe too quick too early but I ran based on how I felt and on the day, I guess I was feeling pretty solid.  My closing words are this:

Enjoy what you love!  Have a wonderful Fall into Winter everyone!

Over the Mountains--From the Adirondacks to Mammut Headquarters and Back!

Let me begin by saying that my Trip out to Burlington, Vermont was Amazing!!!!!  I had some travel difficulties that I will explain in my post, but overall, it was well worth it.  Here's Why:

1. I had the chance to see the Adirondack Region for the first time
2. I set a summit record of Gore Mountain (3,600 feet in 2 miles)
3. I met all the amazing people at Mammut
4. I got some cool Mammut stuff
5. I got to see a little of Burlington, VT
6. I took a Ferry on the way back!
7. I saw some great fall foliage!

Leaving the farm country of Cortland, NY

Sign at Hoxie Gorge State Forest

Hoxie Gorge State Forest near Cortland, NY

Ok, so my story begins with me heading out in my Honda Accord on a perilous journey, through the wilds of the Adirondack region.  I began my trip from Cortland, NY around 9am. The plan was to be in Burlington around 1-2 to preview the HQ and get to meet everyone at the Mammut race/event.

I headed out to Syracuse then to the Utica area then out into the southern section of the Adirondacks near Lake Pleasant.  The drive was going great.  Around noon or so I would stop for a detour at Gore Mountain because while on this trip I desperately wanted to peak bag my first high Adirondack peak. Because of limited time, I thought that Gore Mountain would be a easy mountain to find and run up and down with not getting lost.  Driving into the Adirondack region was better than I imagined. There was lovely trees, rivers, mountains that are unlike any other mountains I have ever seen. The whole wilderness experience was awe-inspiring. Reading about the region in my Park Management classes was so amazing to know all of this intell and knowledge about the Adirondack Park but to actually see it was something special.  As I drooled out my window like a dog going for some yummy steak, I was fully enamored with the whole Adirondack Ethos!  Winding along the road passing through little towns and villages I just fell in love with the place the same as many others have before me.  In no-time I had made it to Gore Mountain.  Ok, it was time for a peak summit.  I got my running vest ready, my phone to map my run on Strava, my running shorts and gear and off I went.

Here are some photos I took on the descent of Gore Mountain:

Trail Map--Going from Base Lodge to Top Summit

Base Lodge

Mammut MTR 141 shoes!

High Peaks in the Distance--Had to be careful with the cliff drop-off

THe Road to the Peak

***The Run---Well, the run started off...HARD! I was gasping for breath from the get-go.  Running up a steep ski slope is tough work and really is a grind.  I slogged up the slope little by little with the occasional power-hike thrown in there to allow for the body to rest a little.  Before I knew it, I was right near the summit. I mentally pushed and told myself "Push Cole, Push!!!" Before I knew it, I had made it to the observation deck at the top and some burly-looking grounds guys came out and asked my what I was doing. We went into detailed conversation about the Escarpment Run in the Catskills and how it is crazy and that I should look into that race. I do not know if I have the ability of signing up for a body thrashing as that race I have been told is a body-thrashing type of race.  After about 20 minutes or so to reach the summit. I took some sweet photos and then headed for the dowhill fun.  It was interesting to feel the cool air as the base was at the time at 56 degrees and at the summit it felt like the 40's. I was very pleased with the run.

The Top only a few hundred feet away

What a view up near 3,000 feet

The photos do not do the views justice! It was breath-taking seeing both the Adirondack High Peaks on one side and the Green Mountains in Vermont on the other side!

Coming down the slope--Beautiful Fall Foliage at Gore Mountain

***I headed back to my car and pushed off for the rest of my trip. The time was now near 1:20 or so.  

As soon as  I got back on the main road, I looked and saw that my phone was almost dead.  Oh no!  I did not print out any maps or anything so how am I supposed to make it.  As soon as I was heading to Interstate 87 which I knew I had to get off near Ticonderoga to catch a bridge across to Vermont where I would take 22A North to Vermont 7 into Burlington.  Before I could do anything, my phone died. It was at the worst possible time!


This is what I exclaimed in the car. I was so angry.  I grab a car charger from my glove box and of course it is not working. I pull-off to the side of the road and then continue to plug and re-plug the jack, then my phone, then the jack, then my phone.  Of course, it is still not working.  This was perfect. My whole family is going to think I fell of the face of the planet. I had my regular charger but I would need to find a store where someone would allow for me to use their jack.  I used my best navigation skills and followed the signs for the Adirondack Highway (I-87).  I rounded the loop onto the highway and it was nice getting to go faster.  OK, so if I keep going north I could stop in Plattsburgh and then take the ferry over or I could get off near Ticonderoga and charge my phone, grab some lunch and figure this out (this is what I thought).  So I re-grouped and thought getting off near Ticonderoga I was close enough where I could potentially figure out where I needed to go. I saw a sign for Ticonderoga and BAM I was off of that interstate. At this point I followed the signs and was doing a great job. I saw some notes of a Champlain Bridge so I headed that way because maybe that was the bridge.  I needed gas really bad as I was almost out so I needed to stop badly.  Luckily I entered a 4-way intersection and took the route into Ticonderoga.  I stopped and filled up my car and then proceeded to a Walmart I saw earlier at the 4-way.  Off I went, grabbed some lunch at a nearby BK (Burger King) I know that is not good runner food at all and then went to look at some maps and get a car charger.  To make a long story short, I drove to the Ft. Ticonderoga bridge hoping I could get across. Oh, and that car charger I bought, it was not working.  So I was waiting for the ferry to come with a long 10 car line.  I got out of my car and noticed that the ferry could only shuttle one car across at a time. Great, I would be there all night.  So, I went back into town. This time, I went straight into the downtown and stopped at a small bed and breakfast and talked to a little old woman who directed me to take 9N to Crown Point and then take that bridge over. YES!!! I was back in business.  I flew to my car and off to 9N I went. I crossed that same 4-way intersection for the 4th time and then headed to 9N.   I noticed flashing lights in the distance a mile from the intersection and ....GREAT, a cop car had blocked off the road.  Apparently, there was a really bad fatal accident that had the road blocked off from Ticonderoga to Crown Point!  Well, I have no idea where to go now so I stopped in a local CVS Pharmacy.  I stopped in and was helped by some girls telling me to take this mill road.  I entered that 4 way intersection not knowing where to go  and used my best guess down the one road I had yet to go.  I followed it and it seemed like a lost cause until I passed a mill and kept going.  About 5 miles later, I made the turn onto 9N into Crown Point!  From here, I had lost that 2.5 hours of getting lost and still had at least an hour and a half to go. I eventually crossed the Crown Point Bridge into Vermont and I let out a huge sigh of relief.  

Vermont Bound-----I navigated the Vermont country roads and luckily had nice solid road signs were I found myself heading into Burlington.  I had made great time and decided to charge my phone so that  I could find the hotel.  I stopped at a local liquor store and was helped by some nice ladies.  I sat around and was glade to have my phone somewhat alive. There was a bunch of traffic but that was a good sign. I crossed some interstate road and landed at my La Quinta Hotel for the night. Sweet. Finally after a long 8 hour plus trip, I had made it.  I got some dinner and then rested up for the next day.

The Stampy Stomp 15k--Mammut Heaven!

It was great to finally meet the staff at Mammut.  I enjoyed having the chance to meet everyone and help with a little of the set-up (team morale at least).  It was a crisp day and I was ready to have some fun. My real focus was going to be for the Can-lake 50 miler to set a new course record there the following weekend.  I was still in a little of recovery mode from the Virgil Crest Ultra where I ran the current course record in 8 hours.  I was feeling a little beat-up from the race but nothing where my training was sidelined.  It was a great set-up at the event and for a first-year event, excited filled the air.

It was a lovely day, nice and cool.  

THe Mammut Tent

All the Amazing Shoes!!!!!!

New 2013 and 2014 Models! I will be rocking the light blue kits for 2014!!!!

The Mascot--Stampy--Coolest Logo Ever

THE RACE--------

The Fast Start at the Stampy Stomp 15k
The race went out hard which I have no done in a trail race in a while.  I latched on with a fast individual as we winded through the lush rolling hills of Vermont. I remained relaxed through 5k as we went back and forth with pace changes probably running around 6-7 minutes a mile.  The next section had the hills. Little did I know, we had some technical winding single-track and a few steep climbs.  At that point I gave the 1st place runner a little space-probably too much in terms of trying to close on some flat sections. Little did I know, there really was not any fast flat sections on the course besides the eventual finish.  I hung tough as 1st just slipped away from view. The way the trail was twisting and turning, I was a little hesitant on the downhills afraid to twist my already weakened ankle from a training run during the middle of the week.  I conceded first. I let him get away and tired to close the gap but I could not. Next year, I am going for it at the gun!  I finished 2nd running close to an hour for the run which was not too bad. We ran pretty quick! 

The Awards:::::

$200 Mammut Gift Card!!!!!  Trust me, at Mammut, they go big!  For Overall and age group awards, this race far surpassed some of the best events out there!  You need to be there next year!

It was an incredible event and an incredible day!   I really had a wonderful time with everyone in Vermont and I look forward to next year. On the way back, I also got to ride a ferry back to New York which was a fabulous suggestion. The views were spectacular and overall, it was a much easier trip home.  Thank you to Bill, Gribbin, Joanna, Tim, Everyone at Mammut! Thank you again.
2014 is going to be the year!  With my races at Virgil and the Can-lake, it is time to start looking to my next big challenges: Tussey Mountainback, Snowshoe Nationals, Worlds in snowshoe, Cayuga Trails, the Adirondack Marathon, maybe the Madcity 100k, the Manitou's Revenge, the ADK 80k and many other races and endeavors. Time to build on what strides we have made in 2013!