Friday, December 30, 2011

The End of 2011

Well . . . it's that time of year again (the end).  A time of reflection and a time to ponder the future.  I've done plenty of reflecting over the past few months, but minimal amounts of future pondering.  That is changing though and new goals are forming on the horizon.

I'm going to finish out the year with over 4,500 miles for the year.  That a new PR for sure -- by about 900 miles I believe.  Sure it's inflated by the AT stuck in there, but it would have been way more had I jumped back into my normal mileage sooner than about a month ago.  Regardless, I'm pleased that I was healthy and fortunate enough to cover than many miles.  Lots of fun, beauty, and camaraderie mixed in those miles.

Plans for 2012?  I'm planning on running the Frozen Sasquatch 50K next weekend, 3 Days of Syllamo in Arkansas in March (one of my favorite races), then the Massanutten 100 in May.  There may be some other stuff mixed in, but that's all the farther I'm planning.  I'd like to do another 100-miler or two this year, but I'll just have to see how things play out.  Massunutten is the big goal race for the first half of the year.  I ran 21:37 there as my first 100 ('08).  I'd love to run sub-20 there and that's going to be what I've got my sights on over the next five months.

So here's to a great 2011!  Happy New Year everyone!

I know who I'll be smoochin' when the ball drops . . .

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Need for Adventure

Photo: Joel Wolpert

I have been doing quite a bit of thinking over the last few months about the need for adventure - both mine and in general.  Since completing the AT in July, there has been a void in my life.  Yes, after successfully completing a lifetime goal I found myself wondering, "So what now?"  People would congratulate me and say things like, "the adventure of a lifetime", leaving me with a depressed feeling and thoughts of "maybe that WAS the adventure of my lifetime - it's all downhill from here."  I experienced the worst case of post-race blues that I'd ever experienced.  The feelings went on for months.  Don't get me wrong, the AT was everything I hoped it would be, but life was no more clear-cut upon returning home than it was when I left.  Maybe even more hectic.  I had a sense of accomplishment and deep joy, yet I was restless.  My insatiable quest for adventure had been fed . . . but not quenched.

I had consciously planned to take some much-needed time to recover, both physically and mentally, and purposefully planned no racing or major adventures until at least the end of the year.  I took a few days off from running initially and seriously planned to take plenty more until I felt the time was right to resume training.  I quickly realized that I was not capable of this vital respite.  I really missed my daily adventures that I've only known through at least an hour of unviolated time alone; running.  Life as I had known it was flooding in and I needed my outlet.  Fast!  After only a few days, I was back out on the trails and roads hobbling along; longing for my days of "real living" on the Trail.  "What is wrong with me?", I introspectively asked.  "Am I really this selfish and needy? . . . what's with this compulsion, this need for adventure?", I further rhetorically implored.

This pondering has been mostly directed as to whether this personal compulsion to seek adventure is a self-serving desire that I've perpetuated, or something intrinsically deeper?  My opinion is leaning heavily toward the latter and I certainly think that I'm not alone in this sentiment.  You see, for many of us the mundane daily lifestyle that we unfortunately find a necessary part of being a "contributing part of society" yields an insufficient amount of adventure.  Somewhere between boyhood and adolescence, a young man's wild heart is squelched by the confines of the pragmatic world that we live in.  Games of King of the Hill, building forts, and searching for buried treasures are slowly traded in for logic, materialism, and status.  What if it's actually o.k. to be wild at heart?  What if that's actually how we're wired, but somewhere along the line the world rips the joy from our hearts?  I happen to believe that it's actually a God-given desire for men and women to seek adventure in this life.  We truly are designed to yearn for much more than the "9-5 materialism" and superficiality of this world.

I've stuck to my guns and I've been laying pretty low over the past few months.  I've been running with zero agenda aside from the pure joy and adventure that comes from cruising over some mountain single-track - albeit fairly slowly for the most part.  It's taken quite a while to get "right" after the Trail.  A surprising PR on a solo-run of the North Fork Mtn Tr a couple of weeks ago tells me that things are moving in the right direction.  I've learned that just because a major goal is reached, it doesn't mean that a sense of accomplishment will take the place of the desire for adventure that spurred the journey in the first place.  In many cases, the fire only burns brighter.  I've found that at the top of a mountain, there are only more mountains.

So as I approach 2012, I do so with much anticipation for adventures to come.

Enjoy a few pertinent quotes:

The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, "What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?" and my answer must at once be, "It is no use." There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It's no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.
~George Leigh Mallory, 1922

You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.
~Rene Daumal

If the conquest of a great peak brings moments of exultation and bliss, which in the monotonous, materialistic existence of modern times nothing else can approach, it also presents great dangers. It is not the goal of grand alpinism to face peril, but it is one of the tests one must undergo to deserve the joy of rising for an instant above the state of crawling grubs. On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude.
~ Lionel Terray

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7

. . . and a good tune to leave you with from a band that one of my high school friends is part of.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

WV Trilogy - 2011 Co-RD Report

The Trilogy is a special event.  Just ask anyone who has experienced first-hand the magical environment of The Mountain Institute and the rugged beauty of the WV Highlands.  We were once again blessed with unbelievably gorgeous weather for all three days of the event.  We must be doing something right!

The 50K on Friday foreshadowed the events to come -- beautiful weather and fast running.  David Frazier and Chris Reed set a blistering pace from the start, distancing themselves from the pack, and did not let up en route to their shared victory in 4:39 -- a very fast time on this course which was slowed by a plethora of downed timber thanks to an early season snow and ice storm earlier in the week.  Always steady John Logar (second overall in the Trilogy '10) was third in a solid time of 5:15.  Kathy Wolf returned to the Trilogy after a disappointing DNF in '10 and sent a loud message with her 7:01 victory.  We all knew that she was there to take care of business this year.  Her friend and training partner Darcy Lallathin was close behind in 7:02 and trailed by Angie Smith in 7:20.

Did I run too fast?  Recover properly?  Will my legs work? . . . these were the questions bouncing around the runners' brains as they awoke to clear skies and cool temperatures on Saturday. Stepping out of their damp tents was the first intrepid step of what would be many in the day's ominous 50-mile adventure.  Dan and I man the first aid-station (just as in the 50K) at the top of Spruce Knob -- the highest point in WV.  We could not believe how fast the front group was moving!  We had his big-green-van at 60mph on the road up to the Knob in order to beat Chris Reed and Dave Frazier to the aid spot.  It was obvious that these guys were unfazed by the previous day's miles.  Reed and Frazier held their impressive paces until Frazier was able to pull ahead near the end to take the win in a speedy 7:46, while Reed finished close behind in 7:56.  Steve Miles had a solid second run of the weekend in 10:08; good enough for a distant third.  The 2010 Women's Trilogy Champion, Kristen Krempasky, rebounded from an unfortunate course-following error in the 50K (resulting in a DNF) and showed her true form by blowing away the competition in a time of 11:37.  Darcy Lallathin stayed strong and solidified herself at the top of the leader board with a finishing time of 12:43, followed by Adele Fenwick in 12:59.  It was a long day for all the competitors.  Those who finished were relieved to know that they had conquered the majority of the Trilogy.  All that was left was a "little" half marathon the next day . . . enough distance for some jostling in the standings.

Sunday saw another beautiful sunrise, although many of the runners took full advantage of the later start time and spent some quality time with their sleeping pads.  More runners converged upon the campus of TMI and the race headquarters was buzzing with excitement.  Reed and Frazier shot out from the start -- out pacing even the fresh half marathoners.  Dave Frazier held off Chris Reed once again as the pair went one-two respectively over the amplified field in respective times of 1:30 and 1:32 -- an inspiring ending to an impressive triptych of performances.  John Logar finished in 1:40, solidifying his overall third place position.  The women's field was conversely dominated by "a la carte" runners (ie. just there for the half marathon).  Heather Parks ran uncontested for the win in 1:47, followed by Hannah Underdahl in 1:57 and Jody Logar in 2:01.  Darcy Lallathin secured her overall Trilogy victory with her 2:27, while Adele Fenwick took second with her 2:29 finish. Kathy Wolf finished what she started in 2010 and earned third place for her monumental efforts.  Complete results can be found here.

The 2011 WV Trilogy saw the entrants list more than double as word is getting out about this event.  I expect to see it grow even more in years to come.  This event truly is more about camaraderie than competition.  There is racing to be had, don't get me wrong, but the root of this event is more about celebrating the joy of friends, running, and life. 

Enjoy the line-up of pics below and I hope to see you at the next WV Trilogy; Oct 12-14, 2012.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Transcontinental Project

The Transcontinental Boys in action
Last night, Kadra and I had the pleasure of hosting two young men that have embarked on a trans-continental journey.  These two recent Adelphi University (NY) graduates started at Jones Beach, New York on 8/20 and plan to run to Huntington Beach, California . . . a journey of over 3,000 miles over the next three months. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

CMMM 2011

Photo: Dan Lehmann (Aid-Station#3)

Another Cheat Mountain is in the books!  We were treated to very good weather considering what the rest of the east coast was dealing with.

Many thanks to all the volunteers and runners.  Full results, pics, and stories can be found HERE.

Next year the date of the race will be August 24-25.  Mark your calendars now!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Streaking Video

No . . . not that kind of streaking.  This guy has not missed a day of running in 43 years!

Very cool video.  I hope someday when I have kids they can say, "I've never known my dad to not get up and run."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Inter-Mountain Article

There was a nice article in our hometown newspaper this weekend about our AT-adventure.  Some of the quotes were a bit mysterious, especially the one about missing junk food (actually quite the contrary), but all-in-all a very good article.  You can check it out HERE.

It has been amazing to me just how many folks back home followed along with our journey and were actually very interested in and inspired by the endeavor.  The best story I've heard though was over the weekend.  A lady that teaches with Kadra came up to me in the park and introduced her daughter to me and told me that her 5th-grader was inspired to start running because of hearing about me running the AT.  She has done numerous 5K's in the past months (a PR of 26-minutes) and LOVES running . . . that my friends warmed my heart like you would not believe.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nathan HPL#20 Review

I can't say enough good things about the HPL#20 pack from Nathan Sports -- the pack I used every day on the AT.  It was somewhat of a last minute purchase before starting the Trail and I planned to use it as a secondary or even tertiary pack behind my normal 2-bottle waist pack and my enhanced Proton pack.  I'm not sure why I had not tried this pack earlier, but once I put it on Day1 I felt no need to use any other. 

Key features that make it a great pack:
  1. Very stable ride -- even with a full load of 70 oz.
  2. Tons of room up front for food and etc. and space in the back for extras (ie. headlamp, emergency bivy, and other miscellaneos things).  I carried enough calories in the pack for numerous 30+ mile sections.
  3. The shock cord is great to put a water bottle to fill-up out of streams/springs or for a rain jacket.
  4. The eating factor.  I've had stomach issues in races that I've attributed to the constriction of my stomach area from the waist belt.  I didn't have any stomach issues while running (albeit much slower than normal) with the pack. 
In New Hampshire the zipper to the section for the bladder broke.  We tried several means of repair, but ended up suffering along with safety-pins over the last 300+ miles.  When I got home, I called Nathan about the pack to inquire if this would be covered under their warranty.  They said to send it to them and they'd check it out . . . well yesterday I got a brand spankin' new pack from them.  How's that for customer service?

I just thought I'd share my thoughts on a good piece of gear for those of you out there that might be in the market for a new pack or hydration system.  (This is unsolicited and I have received no products other than the warrantied pack from Nathan.)  There is a reason the majority of the folks you see running ultras are wearing this very pack!  I just ordered myself the HPL#008 from for races.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Life After the AT

Living the Dream

In one way it is hard to believe that it has been only a little over 2-weeks since I finished the AT -- in another, it feels like a lifetime has past.  I knew that assimilating back into "real" life would be difficult, but I didn't bargain on how difficult it would be.  The first few days back were very hard.  I had found so much comfort in the simplicity of life on the Trail.  My only job and purpose for 71-days was to cover miles (then get up and do the same thing over and over).  I trained myself early on to forget about the life I was leaving behind and consciously ingrained the mantra of "This is who I am and this is what I do."  I truly became Gobbler, the AT thru-runner/hiker.  Turning off my AT-mentality once we returned home was difficult and not something I even wanted to do.  Only days after finishing, I yearned to be back on the Trail.  I was depressed and I wanted my simple purpose back -- even with the mosquitoes, mud, rocks, hunger, thirst, and pain.  I missed our stinky tent, eating unhealthy amounts of Little Debbies, going to bed dirty, growing a beastly beard, bathing in creeks, and living out of our car.

I can honestly say that I am finally getting back to a sense of normalcy.  It's been a slow process, but I've been thrusted back into the responsibilities of daily life -- ready or not, life as I knew it beckons.  "Normal" is not what I am seeking though as I cannot and will not forget all those priceless lessons I learned on the Appalachian Trail this summer.  I don't know that I will ever be able to completely impart what I did actually learn, but here is somewhat of a list:
  1. You can get by with much less than you think you need.
  2. You can ALWAYS do much more than you think you can.
  3. You can live on Little Debbies, pizza, and maltodextrin (I consumed 48 lbs. of the stuff) . . . but you had better be doing some serious miles.  I did not lose ANY weight after running 2,181 miles -- I think I had the fueling pretty dialed-in!
  4. Hygiene is over-rated . . . but boy does a shower feel great when you've not had one for 4/5 days!
  5. Being alone in your own thoughts for 10-14 hours a day is good for your soul.
  6. I can't believe how much my wife loves me.
  7. I can't believe how much I love my wife.
  8. People are important.  As much as I love being in nature, people and relationships are our most important natural resource.
  9. We need the Lord in our lives.  I know where my strength comes from and it is not from me.  I praise God for His protection and guidance on this adventure.
  10. A sense of purpose in life is important.  I am glad to have a job and life (along with a bed, microwave, and air-conditioning) to come back to.
So what is next?  I'm not sure for a while.  Right now I'm simply focused on surviving daily life and preparing for the 4th Cheat Mtn Moonshine Madness.  I forgot how time consuming directing a race is.

Many folks have asked if I would do it again.  The answer even surprises me a bit.  It is an emphatic, YES! . . . but I'm not sure if I'll ever have the opportunity.  I would love to do the AT again, but even more I would love to do the PCT.  It's good to have dreams, but for now I'm comfortable where I am.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

AT Data

*click on the linked day number in the left column for the corresponding post.
Day Date Start Finish Mileage
14-May Springer Mtn. Neels Gap US 19/129 30.7
2 5-May Neels Gap Dicks Creek US 76 36.8
3 6-May Dicks Creek Rock Gap 36.5
4 7-May Rock Gap US 19 Nantahala River 31
5 8-May US 19 Nantahala River Fontana (Smokies southern boundary) 29.4
6 9-May Fontana Dam Newfound Gap US 441 40.3
7 10-May Newfound Gap Davenport Gap TN 32/ NC 284 31.3
8 11-May Davenport Gap Hot Springs 35.8
9 12-May Hot Springs Devil Fork Gap NC 212 35
10 13-May Devil Fork Erwin, TN 33.1
11 14-May Erwin Carvers Gap, TN 143/ NC261 34.1
12 15-May Carvers Gap Walnut Mtn Rd. 25.4
13 16-May Walnut Mtn. Rd. Wilbur Dam Rd. 26.8
14 17-May Wilbur Dam Rd. Damascus, VA 37.6
15 18-May Damascus Elk Garden (VA 600) 23.8
16 19-May Elk Garden VA 670 32.1
17 20-May VA 670 VA 42 31.2
18 21-May VA 42 VA 612 Kimberling Creek 33.6
19 22-May VA 612 Pearisburg, VA 42.1
20 23-May Pearisburg Rocky Gap (VA 601) 34.8
21 24-May Rocky Gap VA 624/ North Mountain Trail 32.2
22 25-May VA 624/ North Mountain Trail Salt Pond Rd. (USFS 191) 33.5
23 26-May Salt Pond Rd. (USFS 191) Thunder Ridge Overlook 35.7
24 27-May Thunder Ridge Pedler Lake Rd. (USFS 38) 31.2
25 28-May Pedler Lake Rd. (USFS 38) Tye River (VA 56) 29.5
26 29-May Tye River (VA 56) Rockfish Gap (US 250/I-64) 29.7
27 30-May Rockfish Gap Simmons Gap 35.3
28 31-May Simmons Gap Skyland 34.6
29 1-Jun Skyland Front Royal: US 522 37.2
30 2-Jun Front Royal: US 522 Bears Den Hostel 33.5
31 3-Jun Bears Den Hostel U.S. Alt 40 37.8
32 4-Jun U.S. Alt 40 PA 233 36.7
33 5-Jun PA 233 PA 94 35
34 6-Jun PA 94 Duncannon, PA 34.5
35 7-Jun Duncannon, PA PA 225 8.4
36 8-Jun 0
37 9-Jun PA 225 PA 645 36.4
38 10-Jun PA 645 Port Clinton/PA 61 26.3
39 11-Jun Port Clinton/PA 61 PA 309 26
40 12-Jun PA 309 Smith Gap Rd. 25.9
41 13-Jun Smith Gap Rd. Delaware Water Gap 24.9
42 14-Jun Delaware Water Gap Crigger Rd. 33.4
43 15-Jun Crigger Rd. Barrett Rd. 31.8
44 16-Jun Barrett Rd. Seven Lakes Drive 31.6
45 17-Jun Seven Lakes Drive NY 301 Fahnestock State Park 29.9
46 18-Jun NY 301 Fahnestock State Park Schaghticoke Rd. 38.4
47 19-Jun Schaghticoke Rd. US 7 Housatonic River 30.3
48 20-Jun US 7 Housatonic River Rt. 7  (Sheffield, Mass.) 31.6
49 21-Jun Rt. 7  (Sheffield, Mass.) Tyne Rd. 29.9
50 22-Jun Tyne Rd. Cheshire, MA 26.9
51 23-Jun Cheshire, MA Bennington, VT; City Stream, VT 9 33.2
52 24-Jun Bennington, VT; City Stream, VT 9 Manchester City, VT 40.1
53 25-Jun Manchester City, VT North Clarendon, VT 32.4
54 26-Jun North Clarendon, VT Stony Brook Rd. 28.9
55 27-Jun Stony Brook Rd. Hanover, NH 35.3
56 28-Jun Hanover, NH NH 25A 32.9
57 29-Jun NH 25A Franconia Notch, US 3 35.5
58 30-Jun 0
59 1-Jul Franconia Notch, US 3 Crawford Notch, US 302 27.7
60 2-Jul Crawford Notch, US 302 Pinkham Notch, NH 16 26
61 3-Jul Pinkham Notch, NH 16 Androscoggin River 21.4
62 4-Jul Androscoggin River Grafton Notch, Maine 26 30.8
63 5-Jul Grafton Notch, Maine 26 South Arm Rd. 20.4
64 6-Jul South Arm Rd. Maine 4; Rangely, ME 26.4
65 7-Jul Maine 4; Rangely, ME Caribou Valley Rd. 23.9
66 8-Jul Caribou Valley Rd. Long Falls Dam Road 27.4
67 9-Jul Long Falls Dam Road Moxie Pond 29.4
68 10-Jul Moxie Pond Maine 15 24.8
69 11-Jul Maine 15 Katahdin Ironworks Logging Road 29.9
70 12-Jul Katahdin Ironworks Logging Road Jo-Mary Road 28.6
71 13-Jul Jo-Mary Road Abol Bridge 40.9
72 14-Jul Abol Bridge Katahdin 15.1