Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The season Finale--- The JFK 50. 5th place

Ladies and gentlemen, I am very honored to write to you about the JFK 50 mile race. This was my last big race for 2014 and the moment I signed up for the race in early March,  I was ready to perform to the best of my abilities. I had numerous runs where I envisioned myself running a smart and calculating race, running the Appalachian Trail nice and relaxed and then picking people apart on the towpath only to hit the final 8-mile road stretch ready to fly. My training for the whole year was focused on this one race and when I became sick with bronchitis and a sinus infection,  during the Tussey Mountainback, I became worried and hesitant about what I would be able to do. After Tussey, it took me 3 weeks to feel a little better. I would attempt to run but every run was hampered by myself coughing my lungs out and so many 45 minute runs became 15-20 minute runs. It was until a week out from the race that I was beginning to feel like I could run near 10 miles and not completely cough my brains out.  I was still hesitant about racing as I knew my fitness would be dramatically affected. I decided since this was a HuGe goal of mine, I should attempt to run the race and see what happens. Hopefully, I could just cross that finish line.

My father, Ashlee, and myself all made the trip to Hagerstown , Maryland on Friday evening after Ashlee finished with classes. It was a fun drive down as we sang songs to the radio, talked about life, and cracked jokes to pass the time.  About 5 hours later, we made it to home base. We checked into the hotel, grabbed a bite to eat at Outback Steakhouse and then went to bed. With full bellies, we caught some sleep.  While asleep, I had a dream about the race; we were running late and arrived at a school that was the wrong school and I was pretty bummed we went all the way out here to get incredibly lost. I had one of those running dreams where you do not feel you are going anywhere. Then, the alarm went off.

Night Before the Big day!  (Mammut Aenergy Thermo Vest/Go Far Hoody)

We got all of our belongings and loaded up the old trusty van and headed out to the race site about 10 miles away. After my father almost made a few wrong turns, we were cutting it close to the time the race gun would go off. We had about 15 minutes and I had that déjà vu feeling I had in my dream the night before. I hustled with Ashlee and my father to the starting line as I was kicking off my warm-up pants and putting my bib on. I gave them both a hug and kiss goodbye and ran to the front of the starting line.

It was a crisp morning with temps in the teens and 20's. I felt decent considering I had no idea if I could finish the 50 miles with a month and was hopeful I could mix it up as best as I could.

With the start of the gun...we were off. I settled into the main front pack, ready to assert myself as best as I could. We hit the first 3 miles of rolling hills and about a mile into the race, began the climb up to the entrance of the Appalachian Trail.
There I am in the green hat!!!!

To be with a nice pack of 8, we all settled into a decent rhythm, and I just tried to remain relaxed and to really enjoy the moment. With the type of year I had, if was a true blessing to be here and to be able to compete at an extremely high level.  As we crossed the road onto the rocky and leaf-covered Appalachian Trail, I was energized and talking with 4th place runner, Bobby Longnecker. We got to know one another as some of the Adi-Ultra team members shot out at a blistering pace on the trail.  

Let me tell you people, the Appalachian Trail is ROCKY! Not Catskill level but pretty close. You have to concentrate on every footfall and you must learn to become comfortable with planting your foot on uneven ground.  As the trail began to wind around, I was hacking a little and I could tell that this was freaking out the guys I was with a little as they probably thought I would not be able to hang for long.

Once we hit the bike path only a few miles after on the AT, the top runners started to fly by as myself, Ryan A., the top finisher from last year and Bobby Longnecker just hung back at the back of the pack which had numerous Adi-Ultra Runners and Eric Senseman.  I knew that running smart on the AT would be my best bet for a successful time and finish.  I found those two other runners that were running totally in control and having fun. We chatted and danced along the rocks of the AT for what felt like hours.

I was in about 9th place.

As I started catching early starters, I knew that we would be coming up to the end of the AT with the winding switchbacks.  I was taking in a Boom gel every 45 minutes and had consumed three of them while on the trail and filled up with electrolyte drink only once.  Then I had a moment. I recalled how I felt on my last trail training run before the race at Labrador Hollow Natural Area.

It went something like this....
The view from the Hanglider Spot

Down in the gulley

Mammut Red---Going for the selfie!

So this run began with myself trudging through muddy, slick trails. I started off coughing heading up the steep incline. It was tough. By the time I had pushed myself to the top of the high point near 2,000 ft at the Hanglider's Spot, I began to float, and run effortlessly. I was a wild gazelle, bobbing through the deep dark woods. The run was as if it was yesterday. And before I knew it, I was hitting the winding switchbacks and had separated myself from my two running comrades.

The rush of noice as I came down the switchbacks was exhilarating as I felt solid and was ready to open up my pace on the towpath.

About 16 miles gone and now began about a marathon (26.3) on the Towpath canal route. This would feel relatively flat in relation to the rolling sections of the AT.  I sprinted through the screaming hordes of people at the base of the trail. It was like running through a wind tunnel of noise and excitement. I may have split some 5 minute pace through the aid station, the excitement was amazing.

I then hit the towpath and settled into what I thought was 7-6:40 pace based on feel as I have a Wal-mart watch.  I was in I think 7th pace off of the AT and felt really good. I knew that the pack of runners that shot out ahead of me on the AT would be hurting later on in the race as I split a solid 2:00 first section split with reserve left. 

I was ready.  The towpath felt relaxed as I began to turn-over the legs. I think where people struggle with this section is that it is monotonous but smart pacing here is where this race is won. If you run the towpath the best and the most even in terms of effort, you will come out on top. 

About 10k into the towpath, I passed a gentlemen taking a bathroom break!  One down, 6 more to go.  I took in another Orange Vanilla Boom energy gel and could feel the energy pulsating in my body! I know that sounds weird but these gels really give you exceptional energy.Then I came up about a mile after I passed one guy, I caught Jim Sweeney and another Adi-Ultra runner and as I saw them about a minute away in the distance, I became excited and began to reel them in. It was maybe a minute or two before I made my decisive move and kept pushing.  
My pace was hot! I was running some 6:15-6:20's to pass the two Adi-Ultra runners but I felt like a million bucks! Would this be my magical day.  By this point, I was not coughing and all of my Mammut gear (MTR 201 Pro Low, Micro Jacket, 71 shorts etc) was making my effort as comfortable as possible. In the heat of the moment I forgot to take in extra calories which would cost me later. I had no blisters thanks to my Fits Socks!!!! 

Shout out to Mammut Fleece Beanies---Love them!
The gear that powered me to a solid finish!!!!

Then at one of the aid stations, I finally was able to connect with my Father and Ashlee!!! They told me I was in 3rd place and was only a minute or two from 1st.  I felt great and energized some and headed out. I was running about the best race of my life. If I could keep my energy levels consistent, I could win this thing! This run, I never felt more moved before in all of the running I have ever done. I was fighting the odds and succeeding. I loaded up on calories and said I felt great and headed out on the hunt. 

I kept pressing on: Ashlee and my Father were driving on the road parallel to the towpath cheering for me as I waived their way, It was exciting and truly a celebration of all of their hard work to get me over my bronchitis and sinus infection, their sacrifices of time, their commit to me and I was flowing with that energy, that power of love.  I kept going....

Before I knew it, the next aid station, I could see second 20 seconds in front of me and 1st was only a minute away. I made a strong push to catch them.  They also were moving well as it felt like the gap was not closing soon enough. 

Then I hit a low point. 18 miles of perfection on the tow path and my faster miles were catching up with me. 
I hit a low-patch from miles 35-38 where I went from third right into 5th in one fell swoop. I took a 40 second walk break and that set me back some spots in the standings. After that point, I could not regain much vigor and strength in my legs as I pressed onward towards the next check-point.

I was hurting pretty bad. I had moments of self-reflection with this being my last race of the year, I wanted to run my best and to celebrate a year of hard work and tremendous support from my family, friends and sponsors that have made my dreams a reality. As I hit the last 8 miles of tarmac, I was just praying my body would get me to the finish as my legs became sheer lead.

THe moments of the year:

The First snow in Cortland.

Memories from the Virgil Crest Ultra Marathon 50k!!!

In the Tussey Mountainback, I felt extremely sick with both a sinus infection and bronchitis. Somehow, I managed to run close to 5:30 50 mile pace for the 40 miles of the race before falling apart with 10 miles to go. Never before had my body completely shut down on me like this in a race. Without the encouragement and love from my father and my love, Ashlee, I do not think I would have finished.

I dug deep one last time and pushed forward. I had moments where I was able to get my stale legs to move again in the low 7's only to accept the urge to slow down. It was a grind the last 8 miles but as I neared the finish, I was elated to hold on to a 5th place finish in around 6:11. It was not my best time for the 50 mile distance though I was very pleased with how I hung tough.  I will be eying this race in the future to hopefully run a time I think can be reached with my fitness.

A strong and valiant finish! 6:11 for 5th Place!!!

I was happy to be done! 

It was an incredible year. I learned a lot about myself and in my relationships with others. I worked very hard and hit numerous set-backs. But when I look at 2014, I am very grateful for what I have.

I want to thank first my sponsors:  Mammut North America, Acidotic Racing, Boom Nutrition, Craft/Karhu North America, Fits Socks, Redfeather Snowshoes, Red Newt Racing/MPF, The USATF Niagara Association for their continued support. Without you, I would not be where I was in 2014 and to where I will be going in 2015. Again thank you!  

I would like to thank my family, my loving father, Charles Crosby and the love of my life, Ashlee Prewitt for taking the time and money spent to share in these experiences. I love you all. To a healthy and happy 2015!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

You can run on snow? Winter Snowshoe Running Guide by Cole Crosby

As the weather begins to get colder by the second, the clocks have fallen back an hour, and snow soon becomes a word in our vocabulary again, it means its time to prepare your running snowshoes for another season of fun races, festivals and events.

What I am referencing is the wonderful winter activity of "Snowshoe Running".  As a relatively new sport in terms of national recognition, snowshoe running is actually the fastest growing endurance sport in America. Why is that?

1. It's fun
2. It breaks up the monotony of winter
3. It is by far one of the best workouts you ever had
4. Races are cheap: 10-25 dollars for a 10k with royal amenities such as hot chocolate and embroidered give-aways.
5. It's different than road running and a little more adventurous than trail running
6. It is a great way to achieve a beach body by April (okay not proven science but many would argue this statement's validity as fact)

So you are interested in snowshoe running. Where to start?

1. Look Into the USA Snowshoe Association.

The website provides all the information needed for snowshoe racing across the country. Every year there is a National Championship held in a different region of the country each year and the race weekend usually at the beginning of March is more like a running festival than just a race site. In order to run at nationals, you need to be a USA snowshoe member: a price of $30 gets you a ticket to qualify for nationals and a top age-graded performance at a regional qualifier. Most people can qualify for nationals as the sport is still growing and qualification standards are not outrageous like other running divisions.

2. Check out your local running store.

They may have all staff that love to snowshoe run and have connections and maybe even sell running snowshoes so that you can try them out.

3. Ask around your community.

A lot of endurance athletes such as triathletes, ultra runners, and road racers have gained the benefits
of snowshoe running and so should you!

The Running Snowshoe!

There Are a lot of questions going into the running snowshoe. Here is my tutorial on them.

Running snowshoes are light: made of airplane grade aluminum and come either with a binding system or are direct mount. They come in all different shapes and sizes: Running snowshoes usually come in at 21-24 inches in length and there are some now even smaller yet fit the USA Snowshoe Association Regulations of 120 Square Cubic Inches of Surface Area.
Here is the link to the applicable snowshoes:

As you can see my Dion Snowshoes have a strap system or binding that holds my foot in place. The snowshoes have an articulated ankle suspension so your foot is not directly stuck to the snowshoe itself so the snowshoe flops  up and down and allows for a natural running stride. Know that running in snowshoes is a demanding physical activity and is extremely snow condition dependent. Add at least a minute to your overall road running training per mile pace is a good rule of thumb for running in snowshoes. When dealing with deeper powder....time goes out the window.

Running in snowshoes is very easy to get used to. Your running gait will be slower and you will naturally have a winder stance when running in snowshoes because of the shoes on your feet and the drag associated with snow.  It takes a couple times of testing out snowshoes to get used to them. Once you have practiced in snowshoes a little, running in them will be second-nature.

There is nothing like strapping on some snowshoes for a brisk winter run. It allows for you to connect with winter in such a way where winter becomes FUN AGAIN!

Most of these top-of-the-line racing snowshoes are going to set you back about $250 but you do not need a new pair every season. I have had my snowshoes for going on 3+ years and still looking good. They are a great investment to your health and for you to try out something new and refreshing.

Putting snowshoes on are as simple as unstrapping the binding and then placing your foot into the bindings and then tightening around your foot. Taking the snowshoe off is just the opposite fashion. Everything is very easy to do with minimal time wasted.

Apparel for Running:

Dress how you would if you were going for a standard cold winter run: Hat, Gloves, Tights, Baselayer(s), Midlayer, Jacket, Vest, etc. The interesting notion about the activity is once you begin to start moving, you warm-up extremely quick and those extra layer you started out with are left only to a baselayer and tights. I try to shoot for water resistant gear as the snow will melt with your body heat on you and usually refreeze on your garments so having a thermal running jacket with wind-proofing and water repellent properties is highly recommended or even a running vest can give you those properties with a full-on jacket without all the extra restriction.

Here are a bunch of companies that offer great snowshoe running products:

Atlas Snowshoes is based in Colorado, USA and offer a very nice light frame with a very nice binding system.  The two models you would be looking for would be the "Race" or the "Run".

Made from Bennington, Vermont by Bob Dion himself; these snowshoes offer a full-on customization from selecting the Frame, Bindings, and Cleat which no other company out there does. They hold up great and are the most trusted pair of snowshoes in the Northeast.  You would be looking for the 121 Racing Frame or the 132 (Yellow) which is cheaper.

WHoOOO Green!  Redfeather is based out of La Crosse, Wisconsin and has been making performance snowshoes for a LONG TIME!  They have this really cool bird tail design for better flotation and offer great characteristics similar to DIONS and Northern Lites. Popular in the Midwest! The model you want to look for is the Vapor 21.

WHoOOOO More Green!

Big following in the Midwest and Northeast, Northern Lites based in Wisconsin as a family business have produced some of the lightest and most durable snowshoes out there. They also give you the best option for bolting your shoes into a pair of them (Direct Mount) for a more race-oriented light weight experience. They have one if not the best decking system around. Great Value!

Course 721 is a new snowshoe to the market, extremely light weight but from what I have heard from testers in the Upstate NY area, they do not provide the best traction in powder but are solid for nice groomed trails. For those product techies, this one is for you.

Another Colorado-based company in Boulder, they make some really cool looking snowshoes that have won awards for the best bindings on the market. They do provide direct mount but why miss out on the binding. The Gold 12 is the Race model and offers a unique tear-drop shape and at 24 inches long, this is longer than other racing snowshoe products yet gives great movement and seamless flotation


Concluding:  Snowshoe Running is a great winter endeavor for anyone looking to "trail run" through snow-covered trails or is looking for getting the fitness edge during the winter season. Snowshoe Running provides participants light impact that is almost at a contact point near zero. I have never heard of any stories of snowshoe runners getting injured from too much running in snowshoes. The activity itself requires more effort than regular running and even trail running but it is a great way to stay fit in the doldrums of winter and to enjoy what nature has to offer. Snowshoe running builds immense aerobic strength, coordination/balance, and strengthens your stabilizing core (abs, glutes, ankles) unlike anything I have ever come into contact with.

Once you try snowshoe running, you are going to be hooked.  

For any additional questions or for snowshoe running/winter running coaching, you can email me at

I would love to help in any way I can. Stay warm and see you out on the trails this winter!

Monday, October 27, 2014

2014 Tussey Mountainback--- Running on Empty--3rd place Adventure

Let me begin by stating that Tussey Mountainback is an incredible race. The views the nice gravel and paved roads, long gradual up hills and long rip-roaring descents really make this event a must-run race for elites and first-time ultra runners alike.

My story begins two weeks prior to Tussey. I began two weeks out having an odd hamstring tightness that was holding me back from training at my normal pace. What I found was that life had stressed me out.

After a great massage from one of my roommates who is a massage therapist, the hamstring felt great to lead into race week and I was back to a Sunday run that was right at my goal 50 mile race pace (7min) flat. I felt really good.  Then something horrible happened, I ended up on Monday, catching some form of chest cold. I kept coughing and coughing up gross projectiles. Overall not feeling my best. I began to worry that this cold may not be gone in time for the Tussey Mountainback which was one of my major races of the year.  I do not know what has been going on this year with bad luck yet I did what any person would do, I took it easy, rested and dosed myself up on Vitamin C and all kinds of medicine.   I had it bad. The flem was all way deep down in my lungs. So to cough anything up would mean two to three powerful coughs to dislodge a q-tip sized wad of icky flem. The patterned continued all week: one day wet coughs , the next day a drier cough, the next day back to wet coughs, gagging on the muscus and so on.

I was not getting better he way I had hoped. I lost a lot of sleep in the prep week with hacking all night and as we loaded up our car for the 4 hour trip to State College, PA, I was just living on a prayer that I would wake-up Sunday morning with no sign of bronchitis.  The drive down was wonderful minus my coughing and Ashlee and myself jammed out to 80's pop songs.

Once we made it to town, we ate lunch at Chick Fila and toured the Penn State University campus, football stadium and the downtown. After an hour of walking around, we linked up with my father who had made the drive from NJ also to celebrate my birthday. We met at thenToftrees Resort and Golf Course and have a lovely room awaiting us thank you to our race director, Mike Casper.

We settled into the room and I began to dose myself up still feeling sick, optimistic for tomorrow's race.

I spent all night hacking away only getting about an hour or two of solid sleep.

Race morning began with cold drizzle and temps in the mid 30's. It was chilly but I always find myself thriving in such conditions when others struggle.

I was sick but man I just hoped I could get through 50 miles unscaved though I knew that to do so would probably be a miracle. I had all of my warm gear on: mammut fleece beanie, warm gloves, mammut MTR 141 Air jacket over my mammut zip shirt and a singlet underneath the shirt. Being bundled up was going to be a lifesaver for a day which the high temp was 45.

At 7am , the race was off into the darkness with a simple yell of the word "Go!" There from the starting line, I settled in with Eric Senseman, Michael Wardian, and another kid. We remained relaxed as we made the firs three mile climb to begin the race. We all knew that Wardian was going to be the man to beat. I spent the early morning hours remaining relaxed on the climb trying to keep a smile as we remained somewhat quiet. I would interject every now and then to try and lighten the spirits. Breathing was a challenge for me with my lungs full of flem but I knew that I was going to need a zen-like level of relaxation to survive this race.  We hit the switchbacks all together and with a half of a mile before the crest of the climb, Wardian assumed the lead.

From a This view is what you are graced with for 50 miles. Does not get any better than this!

After the three mile climb which was long and gradual, we hit a solid 6 mile downhill.

I was running with this one kid with wardian up ahead in sight as we chatted and had fun with the race. It was his second ultra so I knew he might have issues challenging this fast pace going 7:20 uphill to follow up with 5:40-5:50 on this downhill section.

With all things considered, I felt very relaxed. I soon opened it up a little and as my buddy I had just made went for a bathroom break, I was alone off to catch Wardian.
The next aid station of significance would come at Whipple Dam around 11 miles in. We did a little out and back and I was maybe 45 seconds behind Michael Wardian as I made the turn-around and headed back out. I felt very good with one gel in my system and drinking some Gatorade from my bottle. I did not need to refill just yet as the cold and proper fueling pre-race had me feeling pretty darn good.

I put in a little surge to see if I could close on the leader yet Wardian's pace was matching my surges.

Mile 20-26 was at a point where we had a solid climb and this was the first time where my lungs struggled. What normally would be a easy uphill for me, I struggled. I had many moments of hacking and dry-heaving which stopped me in my tracks. Even so, my 1-minute deficiet only grew to about 3 minutes after this section. I was averaging close to 5:30 for the race at this point and truly I could not believe actually how comfortable it felt at this point in the race. Once I had made the climb I began to regain my legs as I headed into the aid station.

I was going  well and now had more downhill, where I opened up my gait.  The coughing did take some wind out of my sails but I kept on.  I continued to remain relaxed as if Wardian would falter, I might be able to catch him and make a move.   A few more Carboom Orange Vanilla gels gave my my boost I needed.

The Tussey Course is incredible, with great hills, a smooth yet gravel surface gives you the best in footing and man the scenery was magnificent. At the marsthon point, the view at above 2,000 feet was insane. Seeing the mist from the early morning give way to sunshine was a sight to see. It rejuvenated me in my sick state. And so I kept pushing on.

I entered the 50k at 3:25 a pr for me and I began to get a little calorie-deprived at this point I took 4 Carboom gels at once which gave me the strength to push up a slight hill from the last check point.

I was told I had second place locked up unless I would unravel.  It was at the aid station at mile 35 where I noted to my family in a lead vehicle that I was hurting.  I had spent miles 32-35 coughing so bad that I thought I would pass out from the lack of oxygen.  I attempted to fuel up at 35 and then it was at this point that I began to run out of steam. From running an incredible pace early on I still was optimistic I could finish sub 6 hours even with me struggling.

I fought hard ever uphill, mixing in power hiking and forceful running as my quads began to seize up on me. My body was giving up on me and I felt because of a sinus infection and bronchitis, I could not get any more air to my ailing body in time. The flats soon became like steep up hills, as I cringed at struggling at terrain I easily thrive on. It was mentally draining.

I thought back to third and fourth place knowing this could be the time they might catch me. I was weak but still trying my best to push through.  It was by mile 40 that what was once 7 minute miles now became 9-10. I was using every ounce of my will to get me through. At 40, I felt defeated and could only pray for those last 10 miles to come and go quickly. I still felt lucky I had second place still but Eric Senseman who was running strong from mile 35 to the finish ate up my near 20 minute lead to mere moments.

I finally hit the last hill at mile 45 and it was steep like a Upstate NY hill.  By this last hill, my whole body seized up on me, running was still a struggle as I virtually had no more power left. I hiked up the hill and glanced back to see a person wearing red, that was Eric. I knew here was nothing I could do to hold him off, he ran smarter than me. He came up to me and we chatted for a little bit as he mentioned to me that he was ready to drop at 20-35 then he caught a second wind. I told him go up ahead and that he ran smart. I got up the hill and saw my family there I felt bad I had lost 2nd place which was in my grasp all day. With 4 miles to go and all downhill, I pushed my body which felt like planks of wood down the hill, a little sad and dejected that I had suffered so much.

After what felt like an eternity, I finished in 6:16 for third place.

Michael Wardian ran 5:46 my initial goal pace
Eric Senseman in second at 6:10

What I learned from everything was that after a hard year of racing, this race was by far my greatest run to date. Later I went to the doctor and found I had bronchitis and a severe sinus infection simultaneously. For myself to run so relaxed and fast for 32 miles and to run at close to course record time, that was incredible. And for all things considered, to hang on for third in a very competitive race is also a great accomplishment. I have never felt so bad in a race yet run with so much composure. I really have no idea how everything worked out the way it did! Getting sick a week before a big "A" race is never anything I would wish upon anyone. What I learned from the race is that you should always believe in yourself, even when things look grim. I was sick, really sick, but somehow held it together until I ran out of oxygen. I am so blessed to have so much support that held me together in this race and truly this race was for you. My advice is not to try what I did at home in your own race practices. But if you have spent the time and money for a big race and do find yourself sick, do not panic. You have put in the time and effort to perform well and even with being sick, approach the race as such:

1. Start more conservatively: that was my big mistake.
2. Take in double calories and hydrate like a fire hydrant: I also did not do this as much as needed.
3. Do not panic: I did manage to stay relaxed.
4. Enjoy the experience and know that you can still perform well and be hungry for what a run is like at 100%: There is no point to be mopey because you do not feel 100%.
5. There is always another race!

I would love to run Tussey again, for redemption so that I can prove to myself that I can handle this course and run to the best of my ability.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me in this journey:

My father, my family, my love Ashlee Prewitt,

Mammut North America, Acidotic Racing, Fits Socks, Boom Nutrition, Redfeather Snowshoes, OK Runner, Confluence/Finger Lakes Running, Karhu/Craft North America.  Thank you all! Thank you to the volunteers, Mike Capser the race director and to the whole Central PA area for being so hospitable. It was an incredible weekend.

I now have a few weeks to get healthy for the JFK 50 mile. I have been taking antibiotics and an inhaler to rid myself of this sickness. I am hopeful that I will be ready come November 22!

Gear Pre-Race

Fits socks and Mammut MTR Pro Low 201

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Remembering the 2013 Can-Lake 50--Lake Circumnavigation Challenge

Almost a year ago, I was blessed to be able to run the best athletic performance of my career to date: the course record at the 2013 Can-Lake 50.

Here is a great link that recaps the experience of the event for runners:

Coming into the out-n-back section near mile 33

Finishing the out-n-back--Look at that Fall Foliage!

Such a beautiful lake that you get to have views like this for a whole ultra!

Coming down one of the strong descents!

Thank you RD's: Tom Perry and Gil Robs for terrific Ultra Sign-Up Photos!

This race granted me the chance to run my heart out and be rewarded for all of the countless miles, late night runs, thousands upon thousands of vertical feet gained, and countless sacrifices my family makes to support this passion of mine.

I was able to connect with Daven Oskvig, who is an incredible athlete and person and without his encouragement and respect, I probably would not have been able to run the way I did at Can-Lake.

It was a race I felt strong for 38 miles, then the last 12 were the death of me yet I rallied to pull it together.

I will not be running the 2014 Can-Lake this year, instead I am preparing for the Oct 19 Tussey Mountainback.  I hope to emulate another similar performance as Can-Lake come the 19th. If all the stars align, it will be a very exciting day! I just found out that Michael Wardian, one of the most prolific ultra runners of current American History will be running Tussey and I am very ecstatic to have the opportunity to race with such a legend.

I wish the best to everyone running the 2014 Can-Lake 50 mile, relay and 50k. I hope everyone has a wonderful time and gets to reach their goals!  Run Fast!

This summer, Can-Lake gave me the idea to tackle my next challenge:  The Finger Lakes Circumnavigation.

With all these top athletes going for the FKT (Fastest-Known Time) on all of these top hiking trails across America and in the Colorado Rockies, I had my own idea in honor of the region that has given me so much success.  I was out for a 12 mile run one day during a nice 80 degree summer day and thought.... "Hey, why not set a record for the complete circumnavigation of every Finger Lakes?"  I was thinking that maybe I could do a cumulative time for all of the lakes. The trick is getting the attempt accounted for. With Can-Lake I already have the fastest time around that lake.  I have also bagged my second Finger Lake on a training run around Lake Otisco, which is a smaller lake about 6 miles long and 18 miles round-trip using the road access around the lake.  I have to look at my exact Strava data for exactly the time for the run. It was not a fast-effort though I was in the 7 minute range.
That means that I have two Finger Lakes circumnavigated and I have 9 more to go.

photo from:

This will be an on-going project.  Cayuga Lake being a near 100-miler, this will be my culminating lake circumnavigation attempt.  

Let me know what you think???

Monday, September 22, 2014

Virgil Crest Ultra--50k Pure Guts, Grit and Determination

Let me tell you that I thought by signing up for the VC 50k, I would be doing my legs a favor so that I could prepare for my next two big races this Fall: Tussey Mountainback and JFK 50.  I was way wrong. This race with its slight new course design was much more of a challenge than it has been in the past and man those ski slope sections were relentless!

I managed to pull together a solid effort but still off of the type of time I was hoping for. I finished around 4:54 or so to gain another course record by a couple of minutes but was hoping for a 4:20 and under performance. What I learned was that I did not have the legs for that type of effort today considering that the Alpine (Ski Slope) section obliterated my legs.

Thank you to everyone that was out there cheering and volunteering. It was quite a adventure on Sunday. Let me begin with the logistics of the race.

This is the photo that explains it all!  2014 Virgil Crest 50k

2013 Virgil Crest 50 mile: 

I would say that this year was an improvement indeed.

From running last year's race, I was excited to run the 50k this year in preparation for the Tussey Mountainback 50 and the JFK 50. This course has sentimental value to me as it has been my home course. It is very exciting having a great ultra marathon so close (7 miles) from where I currently live. Just earlier today, I ran the first half of the 50k course as a solid Saturday training run. I get to experience the Virgil Crest through all the seasons and at the end of September each year, I get to showcase my hard training in the summertime for the Virgil Crest Ultras.  

Let me just lay this out here: the Virgil Crest Ultras are not for the faint of heart. With tons of vertical about 11k for the 50 mile and 8k for the 50k, this race not only has a lot of hills but the footing in spots is technical, rocky and rooty single-track on top of running the infamous Alpine ski slope loop which is QUAD-BUSTING, this race is hard. 

As you can see from the photos I took the day before as I walked the Alpine Loop!
This course has some steep 20-30% grade sections that really take the wind out of your sails.
A photo by Hope Lake

The slopes of Greek Peak (runners will go up and down the first two slope sections)

The Crest of Virgil (Runners run up to the summit and back down)

My pre-race gear: Boom Nutrition Raspberry Gels (4 of them), Mammut MTR 141 (good traction and protection), Craft Running Visor with Acidotic Racing Badge, 2 pairs of Fits socks, Nathan Handheld bottle, Mammut MTR 71 Zip shirt and MTR 71 shorts (blue), Pro Compression Calf Sleeves, and the Mammut MTR waist pack for all of my gels and super lightweight.

Race Director, Ian Golden once again altered the course from last year changing the course more than I expected by adding more vertical and a whole new Alpine Serpentine Loop which was brutal.

The race began like all races do, with a blowing of the ram's horn and off we went. I asserted the lead right a way and knew I wanted to crush a super fast time so I handled the first portion of the course through the wide jeep and double-track trails running a fast 7:40 per mile pace.

With the Blowing of the Rams Horn we are Off!!

Cole Crosby00:5001:2702:1903:2204:0104:54

AS#Aid StationSection MileageOverall MileageArrival TimeSection TimeOverall TimeSection PaceOverall Pace
1Hitching Post6.36.308:5000:5000:507:567:56
2Cortland 94.711.009:2700:3701:277:527:54
3Hurt Locker5.716.710:1900:5202:199:078:19
4Cortland 95.722.411:2201:0303:2211:039:01
5Hitching Post4.727.112:0100:3904:018:178:53
6Hope Lake6.333.412:5400:5304:548:248:48

I kept a very solid pace going through the first 11 miles--averaging sub 8 minute pace based on the check-points though I had my splits in the 7:40's. My Boom Raspberry gels I would take one an hour and the energy was flowing through to me with using the GU in my Nathan Handheld bottle.

I ran very hard and I could feel the early fatigue in my quads. Though running the course was interesting as Ian had the first 6.3 miles totally different from last year. I meandered around the course only missing the first turn on the seasonal access roads a mile in. I corrected the mistake quickly and then was back on track.  I must say the the land that is used in this race is just so gorgeous with so many different and unique sections. You have deep dark forest with lush pines that block out the sun, open vistas, the ski slopes, power line sections, creeks and ravines, such diversity in 15 miles. I went through both the Hitching Post and Cortland 9 aid stations ready for the Alpine Loop. As soon as I hit Carson Road, I surged a low 6 minute mile down the hill on then across Tone Road onto the beginning of the Serpentine section.  As I began to head up this section.  My legs just did not have it in them to motor-up the slopes like I have done during many of my training runs.

Let me tell you about the Serpentine section of the course. Not only did this section destroy me but I am sure it gave many of the other runners difficulty. I power hiked the majority of this loop (85%) being able to fly on the technical downhills and ever so slightly attempt to run up the slopes. I have been practicing my pace and cadence with power hiking and was doing a pretty decent job staying around 15 minutes a mile though once  I hit the sun exposed section, I started to falter. Even up the first 900ft climb, sweat was flowing off of my body. As soon as the second big climb was finished and then we hit the section in the woods, I was not happy we still had the steepest 40% grade section that takes it all out of you. By this point, my quads were ready to rupture from fatigue. I hit the Hurt Locker Aid station and was greeted by the TrailsRoc crew. They helped to lift my spirits even after I already felt spent. I was thinking man I get to the turnaround in about 2:20, I still have such a long way to go. I was  hopeful I would be able to make it to the Hurt Locker aid station around 2 hours maybe sub 2:10 but because of all of the power hiking, I lost a lot of time on this section. I was disappointed in myself that I could not power myself through the hardest part of the course but there is always next year.

I then flew down the mountain and said Hello to everyone out there and headed for the long 1.5 mile climb on Carson Road.

By this point I was hot and my quads were done. Downhill and flats I could run perfectly but anything uphill and my quads would quiver. I walked and jogged up Carson Rd praying that once I would make it into the single-track in the woods, I would feel better as I just wanted to cool-down.

Once I hit the woods, I found my balance again and began to pick up my pace. Some uphills I had to power hike, but for the most part, I was able to run around 8-8:30 pace. I hit the last aid station ready to finish as my quads were beginning to fully give out though from Cortland 9, they were already failing. I took in more calories and fluids and though it would help some, the amount of fluids I lost at the Alpine Loop had done its damage.
Picture by Steve Page:Coming from the last aid station for home!

I pushed and pushed to get to the finish and looking at my watch, I was on pace to finish maybe around 4:45 or so which was ok but not the 4:20 time I was hoping for. I willed my body for the last 4.5 miles and made it to the Hope Lake loop getting to see my father and Ashlee cheering me on. I came around to the finish having to stop 100m to pound my quad muscles out to get me to the finish line. 

Here I am Finishing the race!  Photo Credits: TrailsRoc

Photo Credits: TrailsRoc

***I crossed in 4:54 a mere 2 minutes under the 50k course record for Virgil Crest. With another win to my belt, I will take it. This course was a punisher and I have not done enough BIG Vertical days where I think that was one aspect why I struggled with the repetition of all of the steep hills. My ankle had no problems whatsoever which was the highlight of the day. I have been hampered by a beat-up ligament since the first weekend of May until now and I am so relieved that I can resume fast racing again without having to compromise my performances.  Everyone after the race was asking if I would race the 100 miler, and we all know that maybe one day but for now, I like running when it is light out and have the fear of running in the woods at night for hours on end where it would be very easy to twist an ankle, get mauled by a Fisher Cat, or get lost and end up 20 miles off course.    I would like to run the 50 miler again and see if I can run sub 7 hours. The best things about goals is that you can always make new ones even after they have been reached. And it looks like I will have quite a few more for the Virgil Crest Ultra.  Until Next Year Virgil Crest.

Boom Nutrition Raspberry---Best tasting gels! Real fruit keeps me energized for every mile

My First Place Prize--Patagonia VCU Backpack

*I love the Virgil Crest and each year it has been a pleasure to run this incredible race. I cannot thank enough Ian Golden and his crew of volunteers who make this event THE BEST -Grass-roots Ultra around. This race deserves to get more media attention as being a worthy challenge. 

I would like to thank my family for supporting my endeavors. Thank you to my supports, friends, sponsors, you name it. Without your support, I would not be here being able to reach for my dreams.

Mammut North America
Craft/Karhu North America
Acidotic Racing
Fits Socks
Boom Nutrition
Redfeather Snowshoes
USATF Niagara
OK Runner

Next up is the Tussey Mountainback 50.  Oct 19 will come soon enough and I am very excited to see how I race. I love the Fall and every year, this is when my hard summer training comes together. I will get out on those trails, run up some steep hills and prepare myself for hopefully what will be my best ultra run to date.