Sunday, March 30, 2014

Forks XV Road Race: A Truly Great Day!

So I am back from the Forks XV, a local road race near Binghamton, NY and it was truly a great day. Talking with many of the runners today, it seemed everyone gave better performances than expected, myself included.

The weather was far from spectacular with the temps hovering near the low 30's and a significant wind chill.

It was truly great to see everyone from Triple Cities, Binghamton, and Confluence Running at the race and it really gave a fun and relaxing atmosphere. This race was serving as a "rust buster" for myself as I have not really run many road races in a long while.  I was hoping for a 51 minute time.

My plan all along for the race was to run smart and consistent. I think that I achieved that goal. With the game-plan of averaging 5:20-5:30 miles, I steadily began to prepare myself for the race. It was wonderful to have Ashlee with my to enjoy the event and she even got me a Twitter and Instagram which is awesome. I warmed up with the guys and got settled into the race plan. Hanging out in the Chenango Forks High School was great since it was pretty cold and windy out there. It reminded me of many races and training runs that I endured in Norman, Oklahoma. After the warm-up and some slight shedding of layers, it was time for the Big Show!

Here is a link to the race article:

Race Time::::::

I jogged off to the start with the wind whipping around us. I had never run this race before and had been told about the course and its gentle rollers not to mention a tough hill by mile 8. As we started off, I had a great time hanging out and chatting with Dan Young and Steve Marcin.  Steve took out the pace and I sat behind him for the first 1200 meters and then decided to pace with him. We crested the first little hill with a mile split around 5:18. I mentioned to him that was a great pace.  We agreed to hang together until one of us could not hold the pace.  I was excited to run such a smooth pace.  We then headed out of the school and onto the main road.  We continued to chat and to make the run fun. It was cold and a little windy so having fun with it could help us both pass the time before the later stages of the run.  We hit another 5:20 mile at mile 2 and a 5k time that had about a 5:21 average mile. We were running great.  Then at the first downhill that was significant, I made a slight move on the down which I love to do and created a short gap. The lead bike mentioned to me it was about 100 yards or so.  I always thought Steve could merge back with me as I kept up the sub 5:20 pace.  With the rolling hills, I bounded up them no problem. I had really no fatigue generated from the run so far which was amazing. I had spring in my step and I was running really strong. I have not felt this great in a long time. I continued to cruise still averaging 5:15-5:20 based on the terrain. I think I picked up the mile split from 5-6 and then hit a river road section which was a gradual uphill mile. Coming into mile 7, I was still feeling strong though I was not as springy as the first 5 miles or so but I really was not struggling.  Sure, the wind was at this point really making pushing the pace a little hard, but I fought through it as best as I could.

Mile 8---The big hill!!!!! It was fun to have so many people cheering along the course and at the base of the hill, as well as the lead bike who mentioned to me that he was going to try and get ahead with the hill. I hit the first section of the hill, I ran relaxed up it and then hit the crest hard.  Once I managed the top of the hill, there was another little section to go. I asked the lead bike if this was the last hill and he mentioned that it was. YES!!!! Almost there.  Once I finished the last roller, it was a downhill finish. I then began to cruise in. I still had plenty of strength in the legs and powered home. Once I entered the loop around the parking lot of the school, I was counting down until I was done. I also looked at my watch at this point to see that I could finish under 50 minutes which was exciting. I began to ease-up a little coming into the finish then kicked it home.

I was able to run 49:49 which was an amazing performance. I was very pleased with how well I had run with no speed work, a few tempo efforts, but mostly running slow in all this snow and freezing cold. I averaged right around 5:21 a mile which meant that I kept my pace really consistent the whole way through. This is very exciting to know that I am somehow in much better fitness than anticipated this time of year.  I look forward to getting back to training well and beginning to get myself race-ready for Cayuga Trails.

Thank you Mammut North America for all the support. Dion Snowshoes, Karhu/Craft, Fit socks for the blister free run socks, Acidotic Racing for being an awesome team, Team Confluence, Ashlee, and everyone else that shows me some love. Without you, I would not have the motivation to dream for more. Thank you!

Those elites running in Cayuga Trails this June, I am every excited to mix it up with you and I hope that I can get my name tossed into the list of top ultra runners in North America. Train well, rest well, and see everyone at Cayuga!

Taking the lead at mile four with the first downhill section

Powering up the big hill at mile 8.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ready for Spring---Ramping Up the Training! Forks 15 Preview

The weather has slowly been warming up but man it has been very chilly in the mornings. I have been running slightly higher mileage in the last two weeks around 80-85 miles a week to finally build my base back up from around 70-77.  I am excited about running a little more and to have time to spend running outside with Ashlee as she bikes. The beginnings of longer days means more time outside enjoying the sunshine and the beginnings of Summer loom in the near-off distance (that's right, it will come soon enough). I am excited about my first race back from the USA Snowshoe Nationals where I ended on not the note I was hoping for but can only learn from the experience to better myself for next year. I must say that this winter has been a tough struggle to really get in some terrific training. Either I could get the time out the door but lack on hill training or I could get the hill training but freeze to death with the wind chills and cut my run short.  I think my strength is absolutely there. With running in very snowy and cold conditions I think make the body acclimate to more efficient-base of burning energy and definitely strengthening all those little alignment-based ligaments, muscles, ect. I am excited to see what my fitness brings because I feel that I am ready.

This Sunday, I will be running the historic Forks XV road race in Chenango Forks, which from what I am told by locals, it is one of the oldest and more historic road races in the area.  I am excited to be racing with members of the Team Confluence, customers, and just connections with the local Triple Cities Runner's Club. We shall see what some endurance training has left me in shape-wise. I am hoping for a 9 mile race to be able to run 5:20-5:30 range pretty comfortably but it of course depends on the conditions. After the 2pm race, Ashlee and myself will be heading to Sonic for some Slushies and ice cream since Sonic is a rarity on the East Coast which I know will be a blast.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Running from Winter Into Spring---March

After the Snowshoe National Race, I have been training hard and getting ready to start to ramp up my mileage and intensity to the 80-100 mile weeks instead of my winter 70-77 week totals I have been doing for the last 3 months.  I am feeling stronger each day and look forward to my first big ultra, the Cayuga Trails 50.  That race is June 1st, so in the meantime, I plan on training and racing more local events from roads and trails to help prep myself for a smashing run come June. 

I was able to get my hands on a copy of the Ultra Running Magazine Jan/Feb issue of 2014 which reviews all of the races and the year of 2013 in review.  Not only does the magazine feature a review of my Can-Lake 50 mile record run but also has the rankings for all the fastest ultra performances of 2013. I started skimming through the various pages and then saw my name at number 7 for best 50 mile times this year. WOW! I cannot believe it!  Looking at the other top runners and performances: Zach Bitter's 5:12 Chicago Lakefront ultra, Matt Flaherty at JFK and Tussey, Zach Miller at JFK and Tyler Sigl at TNF Wisconsin, I am in the top 7 and top 5 runners for 50 miles in 2013.  Besides Tussey, Can Lake offered the most climbing out of those other events so it really shows the magnitude and depth that race performance was which is amazing. I never really thought of myself as that top of a performer but seeing such a ranking list, I guess it really shows. 

I am very excited for a big 2014!  With the sun feeling like a Spring/Summer Sun, and the snow finally melting away and the weather on the warmer up-swing, it is only a matter of time before the weather turns into some lovely conditions.  It has been hard this winter to get some quality long runs in when the temps hover in the sub zero area.  I chose to take some time to train before opening my ultra season primarily to get some quality training in so that once the big races come around, all the hard work months out leading up will show on race-day.  So far Cayuga Trails will be a focus race for me, Manitous' Revenge, and the Virgil Crest 50k.  I still have heard if I am in at Tussey which if not I will run a marathon such as the Empire State Marathon instead maybe the Mendon 50k again and to close out the season, JFK 50 my number one goal race for the year. I have also been looking into some NJ Trail series races in the mid summer to maybe run another ultra for a different area and different experience. Maybe the Wildcat Romp in Rockaway, NJ.  Either way, I am very excited to be racing Mammut this year!

Went for a run and this seagull kept following me!

A lovely training day

It is a selfie with the Princeton U hat

Nice view of Cortland hills

The snow is melting!

Credits to Joe Viger for a great Snowshoe National Photo

Fits Socks and Mammut MTR 201