Sunday, December 09, 2012

My Rather Ambitious 2012 Event Schedule

2012 Date | Event Title | [Time, Place Age Group or Over All, Age Grading]

4/22 Stomp The Monster 5K [20:09, 11/49AG50-54, 74.2%]
4/28 Clinton Country Run 15K [63:47, 17/49AG50-54, 74.57%]
5/5 North Face Endurance Challenge 50K [5:54:49, 2/33AG46-54, 34/252OA]
5/12 Newport 10K [42:02, 8/41AG50-54, 74.2%]
6/12 RVRR Summer Series XC 5K [22:24, 5/14AG50-54, 66.9%]
6/18 President's Cup 5K [19:36, 12/102AG50-54, 76.45%]
6/24 Lager Run 5K [19:19, 15/94AG50-54, 78.16%]
6/26 RVRR Summer Series XC 5K [20:21, 2/12AG50-54, 73.61%]
7/21 Running With the Devil 3 Hour [14.4 mi., 7/69OA]
7/24 RVRR Summer Series XC 5K [20:23, 2/12AG50-54, 73.53%]
7/29 Escarpment Trail 30K [4:32:35, 67/208OA]
9/8 USATF-NJ XC 5K [19:53, 11/27AG50-54, 75.98%]
9/23 Waterfront Half-Marathon [1:32:04, 11/121AG50-54, 74.58%]
9/29 Mountain Madness 50K [6:13:02, 22/71OA]
10/28 USATF-NJ XC 8K [33:14, 12/28AG50-54, 74.73%]
11/11 Giralda Farms 10K [40:53, 8/64AG50-54, 76.91%]
11/18 Phildelphia Marathon [3:20:10, 46/524AG50-54, 71.6%]
11/25 Westfield 5 Miler [32:28, 1/49AG50-54, 77%]
12/8 Big Chill 5K [20:58, 3/95AG50-59, 72.03%]
12/9 USATF-NJ 10 Miler [1:07:34, 6/30AG50-54, 76.5%]

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Philadelphia Marathon

Last weekend I ran the Philadelphia Marathon.  The past two years I ran the half marathon instead of the full marathon.  The last time I had run the full marathon was 2009.  In 2009 I ran 3:21:31.  I was 50 years old.  Last weekend I ran 3:20:10.  I am 53 years old.  I can't complain.

Me, at about mile 25 (Photo by Sally Hur)
I probably ran a little too fast for the first 15 miles of the Philly Marathon. Averaged sub 7:30 for those 15. I knew at the half -marathon, by the way my quads were aching, that I was going to have difficulty maintaining 7:30ish miles. At 18 things went downhill for me. I got through the final 7 miles with PowerBar Gel, Gatorade, and two unauthorized beer stations out in Manayunk.

The run was, of course, followed by RVRR hijinks.

The  history of my times on this course are 2008=3:18:22, 2009=3:21:31.  That does not include the times I ran when I was young and the course was different.  This is a scan of my hand written running diary from November 27, 1986:

I ran my marathon PR at Philly @ 2:41:06. I was 27 years old. Negative splits and defizzed Coke; that was the ticket. 26 years later, I ran about 40 minutes slower. My math says that is a loss of about one and a half minutes per year.

On race day 2012, it was a 4 AM wake up for the drive down to Philly. Rode my single speed Dawes SST bike from parking on 3rd & Cherry to race, and to the pub.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Do Runners Still Wear These?

On Facebook, a local running store posted this:

This is what I call the New Balance Super Sole.  I really wanted to post comments, such as, "Do people still wear shoes with 3 inches of cushioning under the heel?  How in hell could they have "a lighter feel"?

But I like the guys - they do try to help local runners and support my running club - so I didn't post there to avoid the mess.

So who wears these monstrous things?  They are purplish - perhaps Barney wears them.  We shall never know, since obviously he is usually barefoot.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Highlands Trail

I had a really great run today on The Columbia Trail and the Highlands Trail.  The run was an indicator of recovery from Mountain Madness 50K last week.  It was also the exploration of a trail that I didn't know existed until a few days ago.

The Highlands Trail is a work in progress, and it seems to have many reroutes, and temporary problems that they are working through.  If ever completed, the trail will be a great suburban resource as well as a great rural wilderness route.

The section I ran was off of the Columbia Trail.  I parked in High Bridge intent on running with my running club friends, but I had the start time wrong.  A half hour late left me alone for my run.  The Columbia Trail is a rail trail, and is relatively flat and easy.  For my tastes, it is more conducive to a fast single speed bike ride than running.  As a ploy to get some of my trail running friends to come to the run, I looked for some more challenging trails off the Columbia Trail.  I found the Highland Trail.  Since none of my trail running friends came to the run, I detoured onto the Highland Trail for solo exploration.

The Highlands Trail section I ran - from the Columbia Trail, through Voorhees State Park, and into Spruce Run Recreation Area - was an unexpected pleasure.  The terrain turned steeply up hill, and the single-track was similar to Round Valley.  There was some road running to link the wilderness sections.  When in the woods, I passed only two people just after my turning-back point.  They were hunters scouting for a good deer-stand location.  That last part was marked with warning signs only in the return direction that deer hunting was allowed there, and that non-hunters should wear blaze orange or restrict their visits to Sundays.  Even though I was wearing a day-glow yellow Boston Marathon shirt, I am glad it was Sunday.

The Highlands Trail runs from the Hudson River to the Delaware River.  I am definitely going to explore some more of this trail.  I think I can start right where I left off today, or go a little northeast to Schooley's Mountain Park and end (or turn back) where I started today.

My last 2.5 miles were my fastest today, when I was back on the Columbia Trail headed for the parking lot in High Bridge.  My quads were starting to feel tight at that point, but it was aerobically easy.  It is evident that I have a great base, tons of endurance, but I need to get my road racing pace back for my upcoming final races of the year, as well as for a good Philly Marathon.  I guess I must do my due diligence and get my ass onto a track, as well as doing more shorter uptempo road runs.

Fastest miles at the end of today.

Holy altitude corrections, BATMAN!

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Mountain Madness MPF Video

That is me at 1:42-1:45, heading into Aid Station 4.  Dixon, Dave, Jay, Bill are all over the place.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Today I realized...

That running an ultra distance event is like a secret that you take into work with you on Monday morning.  Nobody else really cares.  You carry it around with you all day, going about your business.  Anybody that you mention your run to doesn't really have a clue about what it is all about.  All they know is that they "don't even like to drive that far."

Sunday, September 30, 2012

MoMa (aka Mountain Madness 50K)

On Friday evening I wrote:
*Mountain Madness is TOMORROW*
I am all packed for Mountain Madness 50K.  Leaving at about 7 AM.
I ran 5:54 at Bear Mountain in May.  That is 11:24/mile.  I am hoping to run 6:30 at most tomorrow.  That is 12:35/mile.

2012 Mountain Madness 50K medal (thanks to Daniel W.)

Well it is Sunday evening, and not like you readers even care, but I am still going to tell you my story of how Saturday went...

The day dawned perfectly for a long distance run in the woods.  It wasn't raining.  The temperature was in the mid-50's, and was forecast to go up to the mid 60's.  The sun wasn't shining.  What more could we ask for?

I should begin by noting that anticipation among my circle of trail running friends for this event was huge.  In the weeks prior to this race, the eventual winner, Mike Dixon, sent our little group several ingenious emails featuring his Photoshop skills to pump us up for the upcoming ordeal...

"MoMa Fight Club" by Mike Dixon
"Night at The MoMa" by Mike Dixon
"Samuel L. Jackson Rocks MoMa" by Mike Dixon
I'm not really sure what this is, by Mike Dixon
In addition to Dixon's prodding which left me laughing at my desk at work for several days, I trained there three times with others in the best running club in the world.  We ran the 25K loop on Labor Day and September 16.  We ran the southerly loop on September 8th.  The two latter training runs included Angela, training for her first 50K; more about her later.

With all the anticipation and specific training, I was definitely mentally prepared for this race, even though I had a physical issue that was bothering me.  Namely, the pain in my right ankle that killed most of 2011 competition for me decided to reappear on September 12th's Wednesday night RVRR club run.  It wasn't the advanced pain, when it moved below the ankle bone, that was diagnosed as tarsal tunnel syndrome.  But it was definitely the earlier stage where the pain was on the top of my ankle area.  I backed off, and decided that I could mostly taper for two weeks since I was heading into the Liberty Waterfront Half Marathon on September 23, followed by a week of recovery/taper into MoMa.  What brought on the pain?  Probably running the USATF-NJ 5K XC Championship on the morning of MoMa course training on September 8th, which made for a 15 mile day with 4.5 miles of barefoot warming up and cooling down on the XC course.  And that particular Wednesday night run was pretty fast on pavement, and I wasn't really used to both fast running and pavement at that point in my training.  Speed will injure you a lot faster than going long and slow.  You can quote me on that.

And another thing I had on the mental side was the feeling that I knew the course, and had no fear of making any wrong turns, or missing any turns.  I had the plan to go out relatively fast, to wear my Camelbak and blow through aid stations 1-4, since I knew the big climbing was going to come after aid station 5 on the green trail, which was also the approximate half way point of the race.  I knew I would be doing some walking there and some eating.  These diagrams might help:

Mountain Madness course map by NJ Trail Series.

Elevation Profile from my Garmin 405
My Garmin's battery died a couple of miles from the finish, but you can see that climbing right past the half way mark.  That is about 1180' of climbing in miles 16-20.  My pace until aid station 5 averaged about 11:30 per mile, similar to my average at North Face/Bear Mountain 50K in May.  Three of my slowest miles happened on that 4 mile section, at 15:55, 14:11, and 15:22.  Ouch, but at least I expected it.

I ran with Teddi Schneider, visiting the NY area from Louisiana, for much of this race.  I think our paces merged between AS1 and 2, and we continued together until about mile 22.  Chatting about everything from running to politics to family to careers passed the time quickly.  She was good at going down hill, missing turns and getting lost. I was good at going up hill and knew the course better, so it was a good pairing.  She felt confident to follow me, and I felt like my run became something bigger than myself.  I even told her to chillax when she was getting a little frustrated getting stuck behind some slower 25K runners.  

One of the factors that make this course more difficult, in my opinion, than Harriman trails for the Bear Mountain 50K, are the woods roads that are not maintained.  They have big rocks and a lot of erosion, or what I call "oversized gravel" that consists of loose rocks about 2-5 inches in diameter.  You can't get away from them and it is hard to find a good line.  I think the single-track trails MoMa follows are easier than the woods roads.  In contrast, Harriman double track tends to be grassy or dirt, and the tire track line is very easily runable.

So the miles went by quickly and easily.  I thought we missed an AS4 for a few minutes, because I forgot there were two Boy Scout camps, but once we hit yellow I knew we were good.  I was a little worried about the AS2/AS4 area, because it was we got lost and spent a lot of time figuring out the maps on our training runs, but race director Rick McNulty had the route clearly marked with the orange ribbon through that area.  Then it was the merge with 25K runners in the woods, then downhill on one of those horrible woods roads into AS4.  About a quarter mile from AS4 a guy fell in front of us.  He was yelling because his calf was cramping.  We stopped and I could see the muscle spasm.  I instinctively just reached down and massaged it.  He yelled, "Oww!"  So I stopped and realized maybe I shouldn't have just taken that liberty with some guy I didn't know.  But then he said, "No, keep doing that.  It is exactly what my leg needs."  So then I felt even more awkward, and I didn't want to stop too long.  I think I only massaged it for like 20 seconds and he said he would be OK, and thanks.  So we took off.  Good Karma.

Aid station 4 was where Laura was, and it was the first time I actually stopped at one.  "Why are you here?" I asked.  "I just couldn't do it today." She said, but she didn't look too unhappy.  She made the right decision.  I took a cup of Mountain Dew, grabbed a couple of Hammer Gels for the climb, and was off again for those slow miles.  At least I got Teddi to take that 10 yard detour where you can see the NYC skyline over the adjacent ridge.

At this point I knew I was in my remaining gear for the rest of the race, feeling maybe 30 seconds per mile slower, but steady, and I informed Teddi that is where my pace was going to stay.  After mile 22 there was some significant downhill running on that horrible woods road, so Teddi got some distance on me between there and AS6.  

Aid Station 6 is also the finish line, after doing the final 7 mile loop, that is.  Dixon had already won the race in 4:39!  It was nice to see him there cheering me on, along with friends from the best running club in the world who had done the 25K and 7 miler.  I had more than an hour of running left, at least!  I had an 8th of a PBJ sandwich there, and had them put some Heed in my Camelbak, took another E-Cap, reset myself mentally for that beyond-the-marathon part of this and relaxed my way back onto the run.

Me, entering AS6, "Are you saving me a beer?" (pic by Sally H.)
I had seen Teddi on her on her way out for the final 7 mile loop, and I caught her again on that loop going up hill.  This section, which was described to me by Dave A., a MoMa veteren, as relatively easy, was nothing like easy.  The climb on this eroded horrible woods road made me curse the glaciers that dropped those rocks all those millions of years ago.  We climbed to the "aid station", which was really just some gallon water bottles in a box.  I was looking forward for some calories there, because the volunteer didn't put enough Heed into my Camelbak to supply me, so that pissed me off and I kicked an empty bottle in frustration.  Then I must have been a little delirious, because all of a sudden I didn't see any more pink ribbons that marked this loop.  We had missed a turn - damn!   See, this is the part of the course I had not done before; so much for muscle-spasm Karma.  Teddi went back and saw one, and I went forward and saw one, but it turned out to be an orange ribbon marking an earlier section of course.  We had to double back, adding maybe a quarter mile to the course, and allowing at least one guy to catch us.  I suddenly had a stomach issue here, and needed to empty more than my bladder.  I told Teddi to go on with him and went off trail.  Lucky I had a bandanna on my head....

I felt a little shaky after the stomach issue for 5 or 10 minutes.  I couldn't tell how long, because my Garmin battery died about then.  I recovered on the downhill back to the finish line.  I felt pretty damn fast over the last mile when we hit the part of the pink loop that merged with the orange we had run on earlier.  Another amazing thing about these ultras, having that third wind.  That does not happen in a marathon,  Once you are toast in a marathon, you are toasted.

Finishing kick (pic by Sally H.)
The adrenaline, the elation of finishing such a long day combined for a happy finish (sans bandanna).  Friends and beers awaited.  I finished a minute 15 seconds after Teddy, who was the 2nd place overall woman.  I was 22nd/71, 3rd 50's guy.  My time of 6:13 was just under 12 min./mile average pace, and faster than the goal I stated on Saturday.  Here is the slightly short Garmin data.

Teddi and Me right after finishing. (Pic by Joe Azze)
Dave was 3rd at about 5:02, Jay ran an incredible 5:28 despite a long rest and drinking a beer at the last aid station, Bill ran sub-6 for both his first 50K AND marathon, Lindsay was sub-6, Dragon finished his first 50K, Elane breezed through without popcorn, and John- who has a curse upon him for this race - got lost and a sprained ankle DNF. In the 25K Peter was 2nd.  In the 7 mile Sally finished her first trail race.  Angela, who I mentioned earlier, fell quite early in the race, before AS 5, and deeply gashed her knee.  She used her shirt as a bandage, and got properly bandaged at the aid station.  She finished the race, her first 50K, sub 7 hours on a knee that needed stitches.  After she finished and removed the bandage, we could see the connective tissue under the laceration.  That takes some courage and strength!  Here is the pic of her knee, if you can see it on FB, and stomach it....

The "Before" picture of the Best Running Club in The World at MoMa (Sally's pic again - Thanks!)

The End (Pic by Joe Azze)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Newport Liberty Half Marathon

Mile splits were 6:20, 6:31, 6:43, 6:44, 6:41, 6:47, 6:55, 6:44, 7:04, 7:06, 7:25, 7:19, 7:51, 7:40. Think I went out too fast? Trying to run with fast females Lianne and Nova, I was feeling good for a long time.  Lianne pointed out that we were running 5K pace for those first couple of miles.  I needed Gatorade late in the race and there was none. Then my ankle pain kicked in.  As a result, lots of people passed me in the last few miles as I slowed down. BUT, my time was faster than the last time I ran it in 2010 @ 1:34:39. My PLP today was 74.59, and in 2010 it was 71.29. One can't run all trail miles at 9-12 min per mile and expect to race 3 minutes faster per mile. MoMa in 6 days!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Liberty Half Marathon is TOMORROW

My ankle hurts in the vicinity of my old injury.  That isn't good.  The pain showed up at the Wednesday Night Run on September 12.  It was about 10 miles.  The first few were barefoot.  A mile of the barefoot was on pavement.  Then the last 7 were on pavement, wearing New Balance 730 shoes.  I think the fast running with shoes on pavement was the over-stressor.  Combined with the previous Saturday of running the USATF-NJ 5K Championship race, with about 4.5 miles barefoot warm-up and cool down that day, and which I followed with a 7 mile trail run over rocks and roots in Ramapo State Forest.  I had a painless trail run this past Monday at Watchung Reservation.  Took a Tuesday and Wednesday off - my lower back was hurting; I think I went a little too hard on the rocks, but was feeling great.  I ran a painful couple of miles on Thursday, felt better for 5 on Friday, but today the ankle wasn't too comfortable.  So I tried a bunch of different shoes to see what I should wear tomorrow for the Liberty Half Marathon.  Surprisingly, the shoes that felt the best are my oldest pair of Merrell Trail Gloves.  I think because the heel does not get in the way.  (Even the Merrell Road Glove heel gets in the way of a comfortable midfoot strike for me.)  I think I will use them with an extra plastic arch thing thrown in for good luck.  I should be icing the hell out of the ankle, but I have not been.  I think I will go do that ASAP.

Proud Parent

My son recently started college at Rutgers University.  He lives at Livingston Campus, which is right next to Rutgers Ecological Preserve.  I have told him to run there.  He posted this today on Facebook.  Could I ask for anything more?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How to run Watchung Reservation's Sierra Trail

The park map in PDF format is available here.

Watchung Reservation is a great oasis of almost wilderness in the midst of Union County.  I am lucky enough to live within a 12 minute drive to its westernmost parking lot at Seeley's Pond. I have been running there for a good 20 years.  There was even a time back before they were banned that I rode my pre-suspension mountain bike there over its rocky trails.  I realized today that I have the trail memorized in "sections" that I have made up on my own and that I should publish them with my thoughts about how to run through them.

The Sierra Trail is a 10.5 mile/1700 ft. elevation change trail, blazed with white squares.  It is fairly easy to follow, even through some of the more dense blazed-trail area around Trailside Nature Center.  Parking at Seeleys allows a runner to take a relatively flat, relatively less-rocky section for the first part of the run, going clockwise around this trail.  This allows a good warm up before some of the more technical stuff.

Seeley's Pond Section
From parking at Seeley's Pond lot, run towards the baseball field and find the unblazed trail down through some woods and over a small stream.  Cross Sky Top Drive, keeping the Smokey The Bear fire danger sign on your right.  This is where you pick up the Sierra Trail blazes.

Warm-Up Section
This section is mostly flat with a few short rolling areas, and some improved wooden boardwalks and steps.  It merges with and diverges from a pink blazed trail.

Deserted Village Section
This section is paved at first and brings you through the area known as the Deserted Village of Feltville.  I think the park superintendent lives there, and it has been an area of some refurbishing activity lately.  There are a few park events there each year.

Cemetery Section
After the paved road turns uphill, it turns right and goes onto natural trails.  The trail passes a Revolutionary War era family cemetery.  I usually say high to any spirits that might be hanging about there.  This section allows for some fast running now that you are warmed up and done with the first hill.  Plus it ends with a fairly steep downhill on a woods road.  Don't miss the left off the road and onto the next trail section.

Lake Surprise Section
This section parallels the north shore of Lake Surprise.  It is rooty and there are some short rollers, but you can continue fairly fast running due to its flatness.  This is a popular area for walkers and fishing.

Watchung Stables Section
Cross the road at the East end of Lake Surprise and enter an area mostly comprised of woods roads and a few connecting trails.  You are likely to see people riding horses in this section.  Slow down or walk if you encounter horses so you don't spook them and cause a rider to be thrown or injured.  At one point you will pass an open grazing area of Watchung Stables on your left.  This is another section that allows for faster running due to its openness, though it ends with a longer gradual uphill that leads you to the Summit Lane/Tracy Drive circle.  Follow the circle to the left.  Cars go fast there, so be careful on the circle and then crossing the road to reenter the trail.

Water Tower Section
This is where some technical running starts.  Keep a lookout for blazes here because some of the open rocks obscure the trail.  The hill begins steeply off the road, then becomes a gradual less technical climb to the water tower, which is the highest point in the park, though it lacks any scenic view.  After rounding the tower, run gradually downhill on a woods road and cross Tracy Drive.  The downhill is fast running.

Road Crossing Connector
Short section that crosses Summit Lane.  Don't miss the left turn towards Trailside Nature Center.  If you get to another road, Tracy Drive again, you missed the turn.

Trailside Nature Center Section
This heads through heavily used trails to Trailside Nature Center.  The white blazes merge with a red-blazed trail that diverges again.  You will pop out at the Trailside Nature Center parking lot.  Cross the lot diagonally and when at the far corner, you will be adjacent to a wooden arch that marks the entrance to the maze of blazed trails that criss-cross this area; there are green, yellow, orange, and blue trails.  Stay with white.  Some of the trails cross and some run concurrent with the white blazes.  The running here gets very technical and will probably be the slowest running thus far.  By the way, if you need a bathroom or water stop, head to the back of the old building farthest down the hill before entering the trails.  After going through the arch and reentering the trails, there are wooden "steps" down a ravine, over a bridge, and back up again.  This area can be very icy in the winter.

Rocky Ravine Section
You will run downhill into a rocky ravine.  Then go back uphill out of the ravine.  Lots of roots and rocks in this section.  Rolling.  It goes for a while until it comes out onto a woods road, left turn, that you could take straight out to Sky Top Drive near Seeley's Pond, turning this 10.5 mile run into an 8 miler.

Magic Forest Section
Only about 30 yards on the woods road to a left turn to go uphill through the Magic Forest.  It is a stand of fir trees unlike any of the vegetation in the rest of the reservation.  The trail may be covered with needles in the fall, making it feel softer and magical.  It was also known to be "magical" as a popular area for marijuana smoking back in the 1980's.  The climb leads to the Sky Top Picnic Area where there is a working water fountain and faucet in warmer weather.  The trail crosses Sky Top Drive and enters the woods on a woods road.  The woods road is fairly rocky and leads to the most technical section of the run.

Technical Section
The most difficult running is here; down hill on the south side of Sky Top Drive.  It is rocky and can be slippery, especially in the fall.  Once all the way downhill, running goes parallel with Green Brook on your left and our own escarpment on your right.  This is the most rocky section of the entire trail.  It is also the home of "The Submarine" (a partially burried metal tank thing) and a "lemon squeezer" rock formation.  The trail climbs back up to an overlook that reveals the next ridgeline and I-78.  Then it is mostly rocky downhill back to Sky Top Drive.  A left onto Sky Top brings you back to Seeleys Pond parking lot.  Cut through the woods again across from the Smokey The Bear sign.


No harder question than, "Why do you run?"  Scott Jurek's book Eat And Run nails it for me on page 6:
"As a child I ran in the woods and around my house for fun.  As a teen, I ran to get my body in better shape.  Later, I ran to find peace.  I ran, and kept running, because I had learned that once you started something you didn't quit, because in life, much like in an ultramarathon, you have to keep pressing forward.  Eventually I ran because I turned into a runner, and my sport brought me physical pleasure and spirited me away from debt and disease, from the niggling worries of everyday existence.  I ran because I grew to love other runners.  I ran because I loved challenges and because there is no better feeling than arriving at the finish line or completing a difficult training run.  And because, as an accomplished runner, I could tell others how rewarding it was to live healthily, to move my body every day, to get through difficulties, to eat with consciousness, that what mattered wasn't how much money you made or where you lived, it was how you lived.  I ran because overcoming the difficulties of an ultramarathon reminded me that I cold overcome the difficulties of life, that overcoming difficulties was life."

Yay New Jersey

"Besides the blisters, only the drivers in New Jersey and Iowa have been a pain, many not giving her room to run on the side of the highway."
See the article:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Escarpment Trail Run Indicision

I am running The Escarpment Trail Run tomorrow for the 7th time. Read the entry form; it is quite amusing.

My indecision lies in the weather forecast, despite (or because of) my experience at this race.

It looks like there will be a wet course, which is normal for this race. There will possibly be a thunderstorm during the race, which I have also experienced and would include it as one of the most frightening weather events I have ever experienced in my life - close lightning strikes and branches falling in real wilderness at high altitude brings back one's childhood prayers.  But I am most concerned by the relatively mild temperature.  It should stay under 75 degrees for my entire run.  I had planned on going very minimal, wearing just shorts, shoes, running cap or bandanna, and use my Nathan triangle water bottle carrier.  The predicticted temperatures might make me lean towards wearing a shirt and Camelbak.  (Can't wear Camelbak without a shirt because it chafes the skin off my back.)  The advantage of the latter is that I might be able to blow through most aid stations, which could save me 10-15 minutes.

I will bring everything and make an 11th hour decision.  My alarm will be set for 4 A.M.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


Night run to avoid the heat and after recovering from feeling exhausted from working on the pool deck all day in the heatwave. Sound like I'm complaining? Nope - I actually am appreciative of the fact that I can do all this! P.S.: First run in New Balance 730. Wow, much more cushioned than Merrell Road Glove but much better than Saucony Kinvara. Kinvara with 4mm drop and a lot of cushion now bother me - too much shoe there. NB 730 has 3mm drop and just about the ideal amount of cushioning.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lager Run 5K

Lager Run 5K. Felt fast, & the last mile was there in like no time. 5K seems like a ridiculously short distance! RVRR 40's & 50's teams did not do too well because every great masters runner in the state was there. I seem to be getting faster, but the age group times are crazy fast - I think they are on PED's! I ran 19:19 and was 15th in the 50-54 age group.  Fifteenth at 78% PLP!

Great post race friends & Brooklyn Brewery beer! It's a wonderful life!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Barefoot Julia Mancuso

I am going to run at about 4 PM.  It is supposed to be 95 degrees Fahrenheit at that time.  I plan to wear nothing more than a pair of running shorts.  So it is time to think about SKIING!  Seriously.  Every time I look at my skis in my basement, I say aloud, "I want to go skiing!"  On my bucket list is a year when I ski at least once every month of the year.  Yes, with a southern hemisphere, that is possible.

I ski a lot.  30 days a year, give or take a few.  Even in this last snow-drought season.  Skiing is not the most barefoot-friendly activity.  However, I have worn flip-flops to the ski house and to the ski mountain.  I do barefoot in the snow occasionally, to take out the trash and other quick activities.  Barefoot has also allowed me to adjust my thinking when skiing, especially in bumps and in carving turns.  I am able to forward weight and unweight much better since barefooting.

So on to Julia Mancuso.

Julia Mancuso is one of my most favorite pro skiers.

From Julia's Facebook feed, she is working out like a maniac.  One barefoot, and one in ski boots.  Both of which are my favorite footwear!
This last barefoot one is from an article at

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

RVRR Summer Series XC #1

I ran pretty poorly tonight at RVRR Summer Series XC. Racing tip: Don't put spikes on for a race if you have not gone running in them for over 2 years. Plus very fatigued from 27 miles of weekend trail runs. 1st mile felt OK. 2nd mile cramped my left hamstring and both shin areas (tibialis anterior). I slowed so bad that I decided to stop at the top of Red Barn Hill on the 2nd lap, and I ripped the shoes and socks from my feet! Finishing barefoot felt so much better!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Frabjous Weekend!

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy." ~ Lewis Carroll

Almost exactly a year ago, I ran a 15 miler at Round Valley with Swift and Dixon.  This Saturday I also ran the same workout, with Swift and Jay.  It is both eerie and comforting that we repeat certain cycles in our lives.  I am always so super happy when running long runs on trails.  So this was a weekend that kept me on a high from beginning to end!

I followed Saturday's Round Valley run with 12 miles at Heartshorn Woods on Sunday morning, then spent most of the day at the beach at Sandy Hook.  $15 per carload now! - I think the last time I went it was about half that.  Found out that we avoided a 95 degree day by being on the beach and in the water.  It was an awesome run, the trails were easy, but I took a spill and scraped my knee in the last mile.

You know it is a great day at the beach when there are bare feet, not many humans, Lauren has mud on her calves and ankles, I have blood on my knee, there are Dixon's black NB Minimus shoes, and a black bag with a six pack of Hoegaarden....

 Also a new discovery - you can drink beer on the first unprotected beach there with zero hassle; just put it in a cup.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

We Run and Consume Beer

I knew there were many reasons for the beer after workouts and races.  And before them.   And during!   Now there is this....

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Towpath "Train"ing Run

Thirty four miles of running is curative.  I was having some recent PF issues.  After today's run, it isn't bothering me at all.

5:25 AM we started the trek from Mulberry Street in Trenton to Johnson Park in Piscataway.  It was cool and damp through the morning, until about 11 AM.  I believe there were eight of us in the group:  Lianne was the pink-tutu-clad spiritual pace leader, and there was Paul, Lou, Bob, Bob T., Angela, and Ted.  The miles rolled by smoothly.  Angela dropped after 20; Paul and Lou slowed from the planned 9:30 pace, but finished a little later.  All of us had a wonderful time as more and more runners joined the train as we got closer and closer to the end at the park.

This is my second full length finish for this event, about 30 minutes faster than I ran in 2010. I have done it 12 other times, but for those only ran about 20 miles. This is a great event for fun and friendship, and the barbeque/party that follows the event adds an exclamation point to the already great day! Lianne, Susanna, The Train, and Gatorade got me through it. The cloud-cover and perfect temperature helped a lot, too! (Garmin died at 29 miles! ).

There are lots of photos on Facebook.  And I just set the title banner using one of the photos Bob Tona took (with some editing/effects).  Left to right, that is me, Dave - who ran 52 miles, starting at 11 PM on Friday night! - and finally Molly's foot.

Speaking of Dave, who ran 52, also starting on Friday night were Laura, Dante, Jay, Lindsay, and Dixon.  Their intention was to do the out-back for 68 miles.  But there was rain and thunder & lightning during the night, making the run quite uncomfortable.  Most cut it short between 34 and 57, but Dixon and Lindsay made the whole thing!  (Dixon has the Western States 100 to run in three weeks!)

I didn't feel as bad as I did running this in 2010, because the pace was "slow" from the beginning, and it was definitely cooler.  However, I did have a couple of "low" periods, which I got through with Gatorade and PowerBar gels. Once I got through 29 miles I knew I was home free.

Good food, friends, and a few Yunglings after the run recovered me for the day.  Enough of a recovery to allow me to work for a couple hours at camp, out in a rescue canoe on the lake.

I am now #2 on the all time distance leaderboard for this event.

Thank you to all the volunteers, and especially to the director, Ray Petit!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Shoes are faster, no doubt.

For the record, I never said barefoot running was faster and never thought that racing barefoot was a good idea.  But there are significant gains in going slower barefoot that this study doesn't consider, and that are a part of the cumulative training process that leads to racing faster.  I do agree that a little cushion is faster and that is how I race.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I love NJ drivers...

Crossing sidestreets during my run today, as I was striding off the sidewalk into crosswalks, twice I encountered vehicles that were blowing through stop signs fast enough to make me divert my trajectory, slow down, and get a nasty look at the driver.  Both were on hand-held cell phones.

It Isn't a Triathlon...

Eventual winner McDougal cools off during the Bear Mountain North Face Challenge 50 Miler.  My friend Mike Dixon is in 2nd place here.  After the race, Mike said he thought McDougal was hopping over some rocks in the stream, and when he looked up, he had disappeared, then he saw him emerging from the deep.

I think I have to find that spot and take a dip on a hot day soon!


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Just Wow

The overwhelming feeling I can recall about running Saturday at the North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain/Harriman State Park is Wow This Is Fun, closely followed by This Is Unexpectedly Easy For Me.


I suppose I am half way decent at running long races on rocky trails.  Either that, or the field was weak.  I finished the rocky, mountainous course in 5:54:41, 34/252 runners, 2nd in 46-55 age group.

And I am looking at that and sitting back and saying Just Wow.  Just Wow because I am coming off an injury year (2011).  Just Wow because my longest run going into this was only about 18 miles.

So where did my performance come from?

First factor may be my years of running, since 1973.  Living my life running has stoked my innate ability to cover distance at an easy pace.  I guess my systems are efficient when in motion, and my heart, lungs, circulatory system, and muscles can work in good efficient harmony for many hours.

Second factor may be a pretty decent taper week.  I only ran about 15 miles in the 5 days leading up to this event.

Third factor may be focused training leading up to this event.  I did run a lot of trails, and tried to make most of my runs over 10 miles.

Fourth factor may be hydration and nutrition.  I ran with a Camelbak and drank at will.  I consumed 8 PowerBar Gels, a couple of quarter-cut PBJ's, Gatorade at the aid stations, and about 5 SaltStick electrolyte replacement tablets.

Actually, factor four is pretty damn important.  Last year when I was feeling injured I cycled over 4000 miles.  Many of those were long days in the saddle, and I would often be the guy in the group doing most of the pulls late in the ride.  I attribute that to using a Camelbak, gels, and electrolyte tabs.  My cycling buddies generally used water bottles and Gatorade.  I think I know how to keep the nutrition and hydration flowing better than a lot of others.  I don't eat things I am not used to when running a trail race.

Since finishing NFEC 50K, I have been pretty happy and confident about my current running fitness.  I sincerely didn't think I was anywhere near where I was a year to a year and a half ago.  This is my first official 50K race finish, actually.  I dropped out of Watchung Winter Ultra in 2009 when I tripped and broke a rib.  In 2010 I switched during the race to the marathon distance.  I didn't run any in 2011.  I have done the entire 34 miles on the D&R Towpath from Trenton to New Brunswick for RVRR's annual Towpath "Train"ing Run, but that isn't a 50K.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Running as Art

"Any time I get on an amazing trail up high in the mountains, I have a sense of pure bliss. That's when I feel, like OK, this is what I was meant to do.  Humans were meant to run." ~ Scott Jurek

Saturday, May 05, 2012

I call this post, "Anticipatory Hindsight"

"It's the hardest damn thing I've ever done, but I recommend it to everybody!"

(I'm running The North Face Endurance Challenge, Bear Mountain 50K Today!)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

I'll Tell Ya Who

Merrell Road Glove Update

I wrote my Merrell Road Glove review on January 8th, and I meant every word I said.  The review is mostly positive, but I have to update some information that is fairly negative.  I still love the shoe, but the durability of its upper is questionable.  This is something I could not have predicted when I wrote the review in January.

Fact is, after only 226 miles, I have a split in the upper mesh material of the Road Glove.  If I had paid retail for the shoes, that is an expensive investment at about 50 cents per mile.  I think the middle plastic-like "stabilizer strip" on the outside of the upper is the problem, because the split occurred right along there.  (I will upload a photo later.)  The Trail Glove/Sonic Glove lacing and stability system does not have those strips, and is probably superior.  The Trail Glove design spreads out the load against that part of the shoe better.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Merrell Road Glove Review

The Positives!

Beginning on the personal side, I have to say a big thank you to Merrell for supplying me with a pre-retail version of their Road Glove, back in November.  I attribute the correction of a long-term running injury at least partially, to running in a slightly modified Road Glove (The modification: I threw in an old pair of insoles from Timberland shoes.)  I had been having pain in my right ankle for about 18 months.  I started using the Road Glove exclusively while seeking the correct diagnosis.  It was a long time coming, but an MRI and Dr. Marc Silberman got it right: Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome.  I began ART treatment with Dr. William Bonsall and have continued to run in the Merrell Road Glove.  Presently, the symptoms are close to 100% gone!

Out of the box, the Merrell Road Glove if s beautiful minimal shoe.  It does fit like a glove and can be worn without socks.  It has zero toe-drop and a sole that puts your foot about a half centimeter from the ground.  Your toes can spread out in the toebox for a natural barefoot feel.  As a road shoe, they are head and shoulders above other road trainers in maintaining those important aspects of barefoot technique.  Here is Merrell's official Web Page for the Road Glove.  You can checkout the specs, materials, sizes, prices.  I have many photos of the shoes I received here.

Road feel: There is no cushioning.  Yay!  In fact, the zero drop, and absence of cushioning make this shoe stable enough to wear as a court shoe!  This could become a shoe for many other fitness activities rather than just running.

Merrell Road Glove Sole showing heel wear
The Negatives

Merrell didn't get the Road Glove as right as they got their Trail Glove, I am sorry to say.  You will notice from the photo above, I have some significant wear on the outside of the heel.  This means I am heel-striking when I wear this shoe.  I did not have this issue when wearing the Trail Glove on the road.  I think there are a couple of reasons the Road Glove put me back on my heels a bit.  The first reason is the upwards curve in the toe area of the shoe.  Bare feet do not curve up, and this curve is forcing me to support more weight from the center to the back of my foot.  It would be a simple fix to flatten-out the sole so a user's toes are naturally on the ground in neutral standing position.  The second reason may be the width and flatness of the outsole at the heel.  I tried to take a picture that illustrates the wider sole (below).  The flatness does not mirror the roundness of the bare heel, as the sole of the Trail Glove and Sonic Glove do.  This puts more rubber where it should not be.  So if my foot was barefoot and swinging forward, there would be nothing there to strike the ground first; instead my forefoot would land.  Wearing these shoes with the extra sole puts rubber where the air should be, fostering heel strike.

Heel of Soinc Glove (top), compared to Road Glove (bottom)
 The Bottom Line

The Merrell Trail Glove is another high quality shoe by Merrell.  All their shoes have outstanding construction and materials.  They work right for more miles than most shoes on the market.  Despite the negatives I mentioned above, I am hard pressed to recommend on a better minimal shoe for exclusive road use.  I probably would not have even noticed those negatives, had Merrell not spoiled me previously with the perfection of the Trail Glove and Sonic Glove!