Friday, June 30, 2017

Comrades Marathon 2017- UP UP UP!

Comrades 2017.  Zinikele!  It Takes All of You.

Zinikele is the best starting point for this blog entry today.  The english translation is (roughly), It Takes All of You.  The Comrades Marathon is the oldest and biggest ultramarathon in the world.  How does it feel to line up with 21,000 other runners committing to an 87 Kilometer Race at a blistering pace on the road?  Kind of like this.....

Each year, the Comrades Marathon changes direction.  My debut Comrades in 2017 would be an Up Year with 6,400 feet of climbing and 4,500 feet of decent.  The first 40K of the 87K race is uphill, with many climbs lasting 4-7 kilometers before slightly descending.  The remainder of the course was on rolling terrain with only a few significant climbs.  All miles are on pavement.

The energy on the starting line is electric!  Ten minutes to the gun, our elite field was led to a partitioned area at the front of the race.  We were packed in like sardines.  The South African national anthem is played in three different languages, with English being played first.  After the Anthem, the Chariots of Fire theme song plays...then a rooster crows....then the gun....

At the mile, I passed through in 5:50 in at least 400th Place....Let that process.....going out in a 55 mile race in 5:51, but only being in 400th place.  In the early stages of the race, I followed my team manager Nick Bester's advice of sitting 100 meters off the large pack of men in order to run the tangents of the course and have easy access to aid.  Running off the big pack with a smaller group of smart racers aligned well with my game plan to focus on fueling and thermoregulation early in the race.  I ran very relaxed at around 6:25 per mile in the first 15K.

I found myself with experienced racers like Fritjof Fagerlund (Sweden), Steve Way (UK),  and Renier Grobler (South Africa).  We were sitting in 105-115th place through the 17K checkpoint.

Prodigal Khumalo (Zimbabwe) and I shared many miles together from this point onward.  We gradually moved up through the field together, passing many runners leading into the checkpoint at halfway.  Prodigal and I supported each other with water from the aid stations, also motivating one another to catch the next group.  We were both drenching our bodies in cold water from the general aid station baggies along the entire route.

At this stage, I was capitalizing on my usual strategy of running an evenly paced/negative split race.  I was fueling extremely well, drinking upwards of 18-20 oz of water per hour, while taking a GU Roctane Gel every 25 minutes and a GU Electrolyte capsule every 15 minutes.  Prodigal and I were passing runners in droves after the 30K mark in the race.  At the 30K mark, I began taking three GU Roctane Gels an hour.

Around 40K and 50K, I picked up my first/second GU Roctane Sports Drinks (250kCal).  I consumed 600 kCal from fluids between 40 and 65K, banking my gels for the ladder of the race during this stage.  I chose Roctane Sports Drink over gels at this stage while my body adjusted to the heat of the day.  When adjusted, I resumed the plan of 3 Gu Roctane Gels and 20 oz Water per hour at 60K.  We moved into the top 30.

At around the 65K mark, Prodigal moved onward to his 7th Place (Gold Medal) finish.  I maintained position and pace well for the next 7 kilometers, continuing to pass smaller packs of runners on the climbs.

I had a low patch between 70-78K that began on a short decent.  I'd been eating and hydrating well the entire race.  At the 70K aid station, I declined my aid from the Nedbank tent...believing that I had two more gels in my UD Jurek Essential Belt.  Unfortunately, I was down to just the one gel in my handheld.  I ratcheted back the pace from 3:35 per K to 4:00 per K on a decent around 72K when noticing some tighness at the hamstring origin.  I took two 6 oz sports drinks from the next aid station to replenish the simple sugar.  By 76-78K, I had climbed out of my rough patch and accelerated back to 6:30-6:35 per mile in the final climbs.

Marko Mambo and I were battling in the final kilometers of the race, but Steve and Fritjof rocketed past us.  Marko and I moved into 13th and 14th position, but would fortunately pass two more runners on our way to the finish.

The feeling coming into the stadium was emotionally overwhelming.  Thousands of people welcome the top competitors into the stadium.  I heard the announcer say my name and country on the way into the stadium.  I walked the final 10 feet and thanked the crowd before crossing the finish line to be greeted by Nick Bester.

My 12th place finish was the 6th highest placement by an American of all time (up or down) at Comrades.  Only Alberto Salazar, Tom Johnson, and Michael Wardian have placed higher or raced to a faster Up-Run.  Not winning a gold medal (top 10) at Comrades was bittersweet.  I earned the Wally Hayward Medal (Sub 6 Hours, but Not Top 10) and finished as second novice behind Steve Way in 5:53.28 (6:29 per mile/54.5 Miles/6,400 ft Climbing). 

Ubuntu broadly translates from Nguni Buntu to "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity."  Comrades, in essence, resonates this feeling of a connection with all humanity.  From the South African national anthem at the start to the finish line in Durban, this sense of connection resonates emotionally .

Big thanks to Hoka One One, Nedbank Running Club, and my other sponsors for their support in this venture.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

IAU 100K World Championships

 Photo/Design Credit: Jon Holtz

My first year of ultrarunning has been quite a ride.  After being selected for team USA in August, I picked the IAU 100K World Championships as my "A" race focus for the latter of 2016.  The event would also be my first time racing since the 2016 UltraVasan 90K in Mora, Sweden.  The 29th edition of the IAU 100K World Championships was scheduled for November 27th in Los Alcazares, Spain.  The format was criterion style, 10 X 10K, on the same loop.  Surface was 100% concrete and tile.

Training since UltraVasan went exceptionally well with each cycle at 115-140 miles per week.  The primary focus of the three cycles of training were improving aerobic capacity, VO2Max, and efficiency/economy.  All of my training was done in Savannah, GA on primary flat terrain mixing road, trail, dirt, and grass.  In the twelve week period, I ran 8 XXLs between 27-36 miles.  Each of those weeks also included a quality session of 20-25 miles in length.  The format of those quality sessions was either Continuous Aerobic Threshold (Marathon to 50K RP), Broken AT/Cruise Intervals (Marathon to 50K RP), Lumberjack (NAU Structure), or Intervals (Half Marathon/10K RP).  Several weeks also included a 22-25 mile mid week XL/XL Cutdown.  I began a gradual taper to 95, 75, 60 MPW thirty days from the race.  During the ten days leading into the race, I had a great feeling about the upcoming challenge based upon energy stores, improved legspeed, and excellent efficiency and economy.

I landed on Tuesday, November 29th in Alicante.  The first few days in Los Alcazares were very relaxing.  Zach Bitter and I spent quite a bit of time together in those first few days getting to know the city, course, and adjusting to the time change.  Zach and I had some great runs around Los Alcazares.  We both agreed on a conservative game plan for the first 50K, deciding to run together for as long as possible.   By Thursday, our entire team was there with the remainder of our crew arriving on Friday.  We did get a chance to adventure some before the race.

 Traci Falbo, Matt Flaherty, Zach Bitter and Me

On Friday, my father and Adrienne arrived in Los Alcazares. The event was so much more special with my family there to support the team.

 Adrienne and Me

The parade and opening ceremonies were held on Saturday.  Obviously, we are a very photogenic group.

The race began at 7:00am on Sunday Morning.  Team USA developed a great plan.  We were composed, healthy, and ready to race when the gun went off.

In the first 50K, I stuck to a conservative gameplan.  Zach Bitter and I got started together, averaging around 6:20-6:22 pace for the first 20K.  From 20K-40K, I began to chase a large pack of men that raced around 5-8 seconds per mile faster than I did for the first 20K.  By 40K, I caught that pack and moved into 20-25th position.  At 50/55K, Didrik Hermansen and I followed a big move made by Fritjof Fagerlund.  The 15 man pack began to splinter.  Didrik and I shared many miles between 50 and 70K.

Didrik and I around 60K into the race. Photocredit: In Flanders Fields Ultramarathon

At 70K, I found myself in roughly 15th position with Didrik and Thomaz Walerowicz from Poland chasing.  At this point, the race was beginning to come together for me.  I planned to run a much faster clip than the rest of the field in the last 20K, hoping to catch as many men as possible.  At 80K, I came through the 10K aid tent in 9th position.  My father was motivating me at the aid station directly after the 5K mark.  He informed me that I moved into 7th.  My teammate Geoff Burns and I now found ourselves in the hunt for top 5.  I passed Geoff around 87K.  We communicated that the race was all about team time at this point.

My friend Peter Fredricson, director of UltraVasan, informed me as I passed the Swedish tent at 90K that 3rd, 4th, and 5th were all in striking distance.  He shounted, "Go for podium Pat, go go go."  By the time I passed the USA tent, I was passing David Gatebe (Comrades Marathon Course Record Holder) and moving into 5th position.  My coaches, Lin Gentling, Lion Caldwell, and Timo Yanacheck were motivating me through the aid station.  At this point, I am running on adrenaline and feeling amazing.

At 92K while moving into 4th, I passed Giorgio Calcaterra from Italy. At 94K, I passed Jose Antonio Requejo from Spain, moving into podium position.  On that out/back with 5.5K to go, I saw that Tomasz Walerowicz from Poland was within 40 seconds and chasing.  I made the decision to dump all energy stores into the last three miles.  When I saw my dad at 5K to go, he shouted "YOU"RE IN 3rd!."  He gave me the boost of energy needed to close up the race well.  Mile 60: 6:07, Mile 61: 6:14, Mile 62: 6:02.  I closed the final 3/10 of a mile in around 5:30 pace...finishing in 3rd position on the podium in 6:35.42.  

10K Splits: 39:38, 39:28, 38:49, 38:39, 39:20, 39:17, 40:08, 40:23, 40:53, 39:07.  Fueling: 14 GU Roctane Pineapple Gels, 3 GU Roctane Coconut Chocolate Gels, 12-15 GU Electrolyte Capsules.  120-140 oz pure water from Ultimate Direction Amp Handheld.

Photocredit: Adrienne Berkland

Photocredit: In Flanders Fields Ultramarathon

Geoff Burns and me celebrating our top 5 individual finishes. True Bromance

Adrienne..My Love, My Crewchief

Men's Podium: Hideaki Yamauchi (1st), Bongmusa Mthembu (2nd), Patrick Reagan (3rd)

So proud to represent Team USA at this prestigious event alongside some amazing human beings: Zach Bitter, Traci Falbo, Pam Proffitt Smith, Chikara Omine, Matt Flaherty, Meghan Arbogast, Joe Binder, and Geoff Burns.

A big shoutout Adrienne Berkland and Bill Reagan for coming to Spain to crew me at this event. Huge thanks to Lin Gentling, Timo and Ann Yanacheck, Lion and Susan Caldwell, Kurt Flaherty, Mark Arbogast, and Diane for supporting the team.

Thanks to Compressport, Drymax Socks, Fast Break Athletics, and Perc Coffee Roasters for all the support this year.

Quick recap:
US Women-3rd (25:03.33)
US Men-3rd-100K American Record for Accrued Time (20:03.03)

Some Individual Highlights:
Meghan-Age Group World Record!
Yours Truly-3rd-6:35.42
Chikara!-18th-6:48.48-10 Minute PR!
Had a great time hanging with our good friends from Sweden...Jonas Buud, Elov Olsson, Johan Lantz, Peter Fredricson, Fritjof Fagerlund,while getting to know awesome folks from all over the world.

Articles about the race:
Slippery Rock University-

After the race, Adrienne and I vacationed on the east coast of Spain.  Below are some pictures of our travels.
 Alicante, Spain

 La Sagrada Familia: Barcelona, Spain


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Competitive Schedule Update: 2017

American River 25m (Trail): April 1st: Folsom, CA

King's Mountain Marathon (Road): April 29th: Clover, SC

Comrades Marathon 89K (Road): June 4th: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Badder Marsh Night Ultra 25K:  June 24th: Richmond Hill, GA

UltraVasan 90K (Trail): August 19th: Salen/Mora, Sweden

Stump Jump 50K (Trail): September 30th: Chattanooga, TN

Javelina Jundred 100 Miles: October 28th: Fountain Hills, AZ

Friday, August 26, 2016

Enjoying the Process--UltraVasan 90K

UltraVasan 90K 2016 around 12K

My summer trail racing season has come to a close with the 2016 UltraVasan 90K.  The UltraVasan has two race distance classifications (45/90K) and is the summer sister race of the historic Vasaloppet cross country skiing race held every March.  The race begins in Salen and finishes in Mora Sweden....covering a trail rich in Swedish cultural history.  You can read more about King Gustav Vasa here and read more about the Vasaloppet/UltraVasan races here.

I took a bit of downtime to mentally regroup and get ready for a low-key trail racing season after the USATF 100K National Road Championships.  Originally, I was planning on racing Rope Mill Trail 1/2 Marathon (GA), Chattanooga Mtns. Stage Race (TN), and the USATF 50K Trail Championships (CA) this summer to get some trail experience.  I backed out of USATF 50Ks after an unfortunate sprained ankle on day two or Chattanooga Mountains Stage race and was going to focus on the IAU 100K World Championship without racing until October.  My plans were changed after talking with Matt Flaherty about his experience at the UltraVasan last year.  He put me in touch with  Peter Fredricson, the race director of UltraVasan 90K, in mid-july.  After making arrangements with Peter, I immediately booked airfare to Stockholm.

The field was insanely competitive based on IRunFar's Race Preview.  The event appeared to look like the IAU 100K World Championships preview on paper.  Cassie Scallon, Jasmin Nunige, Sarah Bard, Kajsa Berg, Marija Vrajic, Catriona Jennings, and Isabellah Andersson were headlining the women's race.  Jonas Buud, Matt Flaherty, Arnaud Perrigon, Wouter Decock, Steve Way, Fritjof Fagerlund, Geoff Burns, Jarle Risa, Elov Olsson, and Emanuel Gault were headlining the men's race.  The race would definitely be the most competitive event I've competed in this year over a distance that is relatively new to me.

Back to enjoying the process....

Summer Training in the SAV

My athletic vision for the second half of 2016 is focused on:
1.  Having fun during training
2.  Experience on the trail racing circuit
3.  Peak for UltraVasan 90K
4.  Peak for IAU 100K World Championships

Savannah summers can get really hot.....mostly 95-100 degree Fahrenheit days with 90-100% humidity.  Somehow, I've grown to enjoy the training in this weather much due to attentive heart rate training.  Training this summer has been great, covering between 100-130 miles with 12-15 hours of time on feet in the months of Late May, June, and July.  In the summer, I run primarily volume and focus on 2-3 runs between 2-4.5 hours each week.  This summer, I only performed three quality sessions leading into UltraVasan (19 mile Hill VO2Max Session on July 1st, 8 mile AT @ 5:25 on July 6th, 22 mile Progressive L Cutdown on July 20th).  My tune-up races at the Rope Mill Trail 1/2 Marathon and the Chattanooga Mtns. Stage Race Days 1-2 went fairly well considering the fact that I was training through these events.  Starting in late July, I began resting up mentally and physically for UltraVasan...the most I've ever tapered undoubtedly.

Cassie Scallon, Bryon Powell, Greg Salvesen, and me

UltraVasan 90K was my first international racing experience.  Peter put together a fantastic field of  runners that were both great people and talented athletes.  The Vasaloppet organization treated us exceptionally well, housing all international athletes together and serving our meals right in the hotel.  The finish line was literally 1K from the hotel.  I landed on Wednesday with Cassie, Geoff, Greg, and Sarah.  We ran around Mora to stretch the legs before our first dinner together.

Group Photo during course preview.  Photocredit: Vasaloppet Organization

Course Preview-Day 1
Jasmin, Cassie, Geoff, Sarah, and me
The above group is such a magical group of positive, open-minded world-class ultra-runners.  Our meals together, course preview runs, and post-race shenanigans were a real pleasure.  Peter's race organization was off the charts.  I would recommend this race to any MUT runner.

The race went out VERY fast, with Steve Way of the UK and company ratcheting the pace down into the 5:3X-5:5X range post 3K mark.  I sat in the far back of this pack through 4K and dropped off the pack around 5K just outside of top ten when the 5:3X-5:4X miles began on the first downhill section of dirt road.

I carried the Ultimate Direction AMP paired with the UD Groove Mono from the gun.  When we arrived at the first aid at 9K, I moved from 10th place to 1st heading into the technical trail since I didn't have to pick up any fluids/gels (I was packing about 12 Gels on Person).  I perform about 95% of my training on the roads and rarely run on the trails with the exception of some training stints in Black Mountain, NC or Chattanooga, TN.  On race day, something just clicked for me.  I moved exceptionally well through the technical trail and footbridges, focusing on high cadence through rooty/rocky sections and taking care on the slick wooden footbridges.

I assured Bryon Powell of of my lack of interest in winning the first SprintPris...Oops....

Surprisingly winning Sprint Pris after technical trail section

The Sprint Pris win was pretty cheap, having to only hit the gas to marathon race pace for about 300m and coast through for the $2,000 SEK.  Next objective....chill out and run with the pack through 43K (BergsPris #1).  Arnaud Perrignon hit the gas at 40K and took BergsPris #1 while me, Fritjof, and Elon cruised through the aid station in 2-3-4 respectively.

At this juncture....I changed my socks, grabbed a ton of gels and electrolyte capsules....and fell to 7th place, losing about 3.5 minutes.  Most people there thought this decision was a drastic error, but my feet were feeling a bit macerated from all the rain and swamp early on in the race.  The stop gave me a chance to mentally and physically compose myself.  If I had to do this over, I would have been more time efficient spending only 1.5 minutes max rather than losing a lot of ground.

Leaving the aid station, I felt incredibly good.  Fueling had been going very well, consuming 3 electrolyte capsules an hour and three gels every 75 minutes.  I started on my first 20 oz of Gu Roctane at 44 K after taking my first caffeinated gel of the race.  My stomach was in great shape as well.  By 45K, I pulled back up on Steve Way.  We ran together for a few kilometers, catching a runner here and there.  By 50K, changes in position were very seldom.  I was all alone, but moving very well....feeling like a machine on the climbs and decending in the 5:45-6:00 pace range on the smooth, flat dirt roads.  At the top of the biggest climb on course, I rolled past Arnaud...somewhere along the way also passing Elov.

 Photocredit: Lotti Zeiler (SCAD XC)

Blueberry Soup at aid station 6 of 7.  If you're unfamiliar with Blueberry's like a mid race espresso shot without the drawbacks of dehydration....ZING.

Jonas Buud and Peter were both giving me realtime updates of how close I was to Jarle and Fritjof from 70K onward.  I was very grateful for any communication and info given by friends on the course.  By Aid Station 7, I was all smiles.   Bryon Powell and the volunteers at that aid station reinvigorated me for the final 9K of racing.  Although Fritjof was only two minutes up, I didn't have the spark needed to make a late race push.  My final miles were in the 6:45-7:10 range, running comfortably and within myself.

Finishing 3rd at the 2016 UltraVasan 90K
First International Podium Finish
Photocredit: Bryon Powell of

At the finish, I was elated to be finishing on the podium.  Just as an extra touch, I went back through for another round of high fives to the crowd.  As an added bonus, Lox and Goat Cheese baguette sandwich's were in the elite athlete tent at the finish....followed by massage and good buddies.  Such awesome treatment.

Thanks to Compressport for all the fantastic gear and support.  During the race, I used the Trail Running Shirt V2 Tank, Trail Running Short V2, R2V2 Calf Sleeves, Ultra Light Visor, and Headband On/Off to control my hair :).  Post-race, I recovered in the Full Socks V2.1.

Thanks to Fast Break Athletics of Chattanooga, TN and Ultimate Direction for their support as well.

And now for the pictures.

Sarah Bard-2nd Woman
Photocredit: Bryon Powell of

Cassie Scallon-3rd Woman
Photocredit: Bryon Powell of

 Women's Podium 2016 UltraVasan 90K
Jasmin Nunige, Sarah Bard, Cassie Scallon
Photocredit: Bryon Powell of

Men's Podium 2016 UltraVasan 90K
First International Podium Finish
Photocredit: Bryon Powell of

A BIG Congrats to Peter Fredricson on his finish at the OCC!
 Thanks for putting a great event on Peter!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

USATF 100K Road National Championships

Time for reflection is an essential part of training I often take for granted when getting caught up in daily training and race preparation. At the end of huge training blocks/cycles that are often highlighted with marquee races, I've found solace in taking time afterward to reflect on the body of work. Our sport is a spiritual endeavor that combines mental and physical dedication on a daily, often hourly basis. Disconnecting from the body of work is difficult during training, but has become a meditative activity for me during periods of rest/recovery thereafter.

Bernard Heinrich goes into great detail of describing his experience at the 1981 USATF 100K championships throughout his engaging novel Racing the Antelope. At the age of 41, Heinrich had run one 50K and decided it was time to line up against experienced ultra runners like Barney Klecker (USA 50m record holder), Don Paul, and Ray Krolewicz at the monster 100K distance.

Heinrich's presentation is engaging and easily relatable to my experience at the 2016 USATF 100K Championships.  Leading into Mad City 100Ks, I'd only raced one 50K on the trail last fall at a pretty low key event in Blufton, SC.  Much like the 1981 USATF 100K field, I was excited to race experienced ultra runners like Mike Bialick, Eric Senseman, Timmy Parr, Geoffrey Burns, Nick Accardo, and Anthony G. Kunkel.  The women's field looked fantastic as well, housing USA 100m Trail Record Holder Traci Falbo and multiple time Bandera 100K/Lake Sonoma 50m/Sean O'Brien 50m/JFK 50m champ Cassie Scallon.

The ultra running community is awesome! Camille Herron had great feedback about this race; thus I knew it would be a great place to debut at 100K (being a marathon roadie convert as well).  Our race director Timo Yanacheck gave us so much information in the weeks leading up the the Mad City 100K and treated us so well during the race weekend. After a few preview runs on the course, I felt confident my last nine months of training had prepared me well for the race.  

The taper leading in was well timed based on how much pop I had in my legs and my drastically improved cadence in the ladder of this training cycle. My energy stores were definitely rock and roll! The closer I got to the race, the more confident I was feeling about the distance.  After completing a few 25m/40m back to back XLs at 6:20-6:35 pace and a 6:25 FKT attempt of the Art Loeb trail, I felt confident the gas tank was there.  My leg speed was definitely on point, coming off a 1:04.29 half marathon in January and a 33rd place finish at the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon in a talented field.

We had a pretty chilly race morning at 19 degrees with the temperature never getting warmer than 32.The gun went off and Geoffrey Burns was nowhere in sight by the end of the first 10K, but Timmy Parr and I shared some early miles at 6:24 average for the first 20K. I really enjoyed my time getting into a rhythm during some good conversation early on with Tim.  The 20K-100K mark was pretty darn lonely, but I focused on maintaining a solid rhythm and perceived exertion around 150-155 BPM for the first 40K (no HR monitor during race). My first four loops were really consistent: 6:24, 6:21, 6:25, 6:20. At the 45K mark, I got caught up in the 50K race (between Tyler Sigl and Tyler Andrews) before I realized they couldn't possibly be in the 100K, doh! My 5th and 6th loops were far too fast: 6:04, 6:08. I settled back into a solid rhythm for loops 7 and 8: 6:15, 6:28. At 80K, I made a conservative decision to take the next 15K easy and blast the last 5K. I had far too much left with two miles to go, closing mile 61 and 62 in 6:14/6:05 respectively.

The results! Total Time: 6:35.56. 2nd overall at USATF 100K Champs. My debut was the 7th Fastest 100K ever run by a North American.

I was satisfied with my debut at 100K distance. The goal is always to win, but I'm happy with my ability to stick with an evenly paced race plan. Geoff ran an incredibly gutsy race for the championship win and the 3rd fastest 100K by a North American.  On a slightly faster course with more competitors in my neighborhood, I'm confident in attacking 6:15-6:18 per mile on my second attempt.

What's next?

I don't race very often, but make sure to be primed and ready to roll when stepping on the line. The current vision is to pick 4-5 high profile races each year.  I make sure to get in multiple cycles of training that are heavily focused on specificity prior to each major event.  From late April to August, I'm going to continue the birthing of my trail legs (dubbed by Daniel Hamilton and Morgan Elliot).  I'll be stomping around Chattanooga, TN and Black Mountain, NC a lot this summer, enjoying time training in the mountains with friends. 

I'm planning to race the USATF 50K Trail National Championships in Muir Beach, CA on August 27th and possibly the USATF 1/2 Marathon Championships in Bellingham, WA on October 15th.  I'll be lining up for some Wild Trails events in Chattanooga this summer as well. For the first time since 2008, I'm going to do some cross country races in the fall! If selected by the M.U.T Running Council, I would be honored to finish my year representing the USA at the IAU 100K World Championships in Los Alcazares, Spain.

My full racing schedule can be viewed at

Thanks to Fastbreak Athletics, The North Face, CEP Compression, and Ultimate Direction for the support. During the race, I used the UD Amp and body bottles to stay hydrated, the TNF Better Than Naked line for my race attire, and CEP Ultra Light Leg Sleeves/Dynamic Compression socks.

Photo Credit: Wayne Gruhlke

All-Time North American 100K List
 **Courtesy of Ultrarunning Magazine

100 Kilometers


Name Age State Year Result
Max King 34 OR 2014 6:27:43
Tom Johnson 36 CA 1995 6:30:11
Geoffrey Burns 25 MI 2016 6:30:37
Erik Seedhouse 27 ON (GBR) 1992 6:33:03
Dan Held 34 WI 2000 6:33:12
Andy Jones 30 ON 1991 6:33:57
Pat Reagan 29 GA 2016 6:35:56
Richard Chouinard 28 QC 1979 6:36:57
Allan Kirik 36 NY 1980 6:37:54
Bernd Heinrich 41 VT 1981 6:38:21
(Worlds best) Don Ritchie 31  GBR 1978 6:10:20

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Road Racing Season Review

My 2015-16 road racing season has come to a climactic end with a 33rd place finish at the Olympic Trials Marathon.  The past few days have given me some time to reflect on my first trials experience and the road racing season as an entire body of work.

I've been training primarily solo over the course of the past fourteen months since beginning my development at marathon and half marathon distances. I spent a hot Savannah Summer and Fall in grueling 90-100% humidity at 115-140 miles per week on primarily flat terrain.  At times, training in Savannah makes me yearn for the mountains.  I'm lucky to have such great friends in nearby cities that I sporadically connect with in Appalachia.  July's five hour session from Black Mountain, NC to Mount Mitchell and back with Morgan Elliot charged my batteries for a fall of road training.  A quick break in Chattanooga, TN this August with Andrew Snope and Daniel Hamilton at the Still Hollow Half Marathon sparked my interest in Trail Racing.  My solo debut 50K Trail in October on the Palmetto Bluff (3:06.09) solidified my eventual desire to focus on 50K-100K development this winter and spring.

A message from Richard Clark Fannin in (USATF 15K National Championships Race Director) changed my focus for what I believed would be 6 weeks.  Richard invited me to the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon in October.  He believed the race would draw around 30-40 athletes that were close to the OT standard, but hadn't quite hit the mark yet.  I thought it over for 24 hours....musing how I'd done 0 miles under 5:00 since the previous winter of training for my debut Marathon last March.  After accepting Richard's invite to the race, I dropped from the Tallahassee Ultradistance Classic (50K Road) from my schedule and picked up a few tuneups to develop my half marathon wheels.

You may question my decision making process here.....

I'd been rocking 120-140 miles a week for the past 10 weeks....doing very little quality work other than 50K/M Pace runs of 12-16 miles in length around 5:15-5:25 pace every 10 days.  My long runs for ten weeks in a row were ranging from 25-35 miles at 6:10-6:35 pace.  I hadn't run a single mile under 5:10 since last March.  I only did a few intervals this fall at 5:05 with the SCAD Men's Cross Country Team.  Yikes! What did I get myself into.

I figured the Half Marathon would be a great tune-up for the Way Too Cool Trail 50K in Cool, CA on March 5th.  I stuck to my guns in my training, not tapering under 115 miles per week until December 1st.  I did zero half marathon pace workouts approaching Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon, but did manage to line up for a few solo time trials on the roads in November (4 Miles: 19:18) and December (5 miles: 24:11).

As Jax Bank Half approached, the field looked more and more stacked.  60 men going for it! Ten guys who have run under 1:04.30!  My buddy Tyler Pennel would be pacing; thus, I knew the race would be surgically perfect wire to wire.  I was stoked, figuring with the solid taper to under 90 miles a week with maybe 80 the week of Jax may result in a PR in the 1:05 high range.  Prior to Jacksonville, I had only raced one half (while tapered), my debut in Orlando in December 2013 (1:06.12).

The energy in Jax was off the charts.  Richard organized an impeccable event that was very old school.  We all funded our own trip to get there.  We all had dinner together.  Forty-five women, sixty men, one vision......let's get as many new qualifiers as possible.

 The end result....27 men under 1:05....14 women under 1:15.....

I felt fantastic....15:27...15:24.....15:18....49:20 at 10 miles....Around 15:09 for my last 5K...1:04.29....

Somehow, PR'ing by 1:43 without doing half marathon race pace other than in races.  I only ran 16 miles under 5:00 since March, yet averaged 4:55 for Half Marathon.

We had a fantastic celebration, all the new qualifiers and the men and women that paced us.  The question was.....could I recover for Olympic trials?  Could I reload in time?

I dropped the Way Too Cool 50K from my schedule (until next year) and instantly registered for trials.  I punched my airfare and booked my room with my best friend Jeff Weiss.  In the weeks approaching, I managed to get in two weeks at 115, one week at 105, 75 the week before, and 68 the week of trials.  Training was smooth, with multiple 12-15 mile 50K/marathon pace runs inside 18-20 mile runs.  I managed to get in six 20-24 mile XLs in between Jax and Trials.

Race Day.....

LA was hot.  How hot?  In the 80's by the end of trials.  Above 75 degrees for the last hour.  My thought on the line would Rob Krar run this race?  He is an expert in the heat as he exemplified at Western States 100 the past two years.

I decided to carry all my own fluids, only checking two bottles.  I used the UD Groove Mono with a 17 oz bottle (Yes, UD's new Hydration Belt in the Olympic Trials Marathon) and 5 oz Bottle Holsters in my hands.  I downed 10 oz of coconut water and one gel before the warmup, only ten minutes in the shade, plus strides.   On the line, I loaded 5 oz of coconut water in the left as a precaution.

Along the way, I decided to take two ice cold towels at every station and stored them in the band of my visor, getting as much ice cold water on my spine as possible to try to trick my body into thinking it was cool out.  Along the way, I consumed a whopping 6 gels and 50 oz. of water.

Progression throughout the race was primarily with Stephen Shay and David Laney in the early stages of the race.  We had a great chase group, engaging in a ton of verbal communication along the way.  At 5 miles....13Xth....10K, 124th....Half Marathon, 77th.....and in the later stages, I managed to pass another 46 men, only getting passed by two men that ran perfect negative/even splits.  Upon crossing the line at my first Olympic Marathon Trials and having run a well executed race, I celebrated the body of work.  After being ranked 124th of 164 coming in, how could I be pissed with 33rd at trials? 210 men qualified this time around....not all ran the race....but, that still puts me in the top 15% of the 210 that qualified.

I made some great memories at trials.  Spending time with my best friend Jeff Weiss and his wife Megan made the trip fun.  It was great hanging with Tony Migliozzi and Joe Sarver as well.  Andrew Benford was a hoot, kindred spirits undoubtedly my friend.  I really enjoyed speaking with Max King about Ice Age 50 mile Trail (thanks for the advice Max).  Spending time with the wizard of the NAIA...Conor Holt, Camille Herron, and Arya Bahreini in the airport was super enjoyable, great folks those Okies.  As always, it was great to see my buddy Tyler Pennel.

What's next?

After speaking with Camille Herron and telling her my goals for this year, I've committed to Mad City 50K rather than the USATF 100K Championships.  Above all, I want to make the USA 50K Worlds team this year.  I'm going for the gusto on April 9th in Madison, Wisconsin to take my best shot at the 50K standard.  On May 14th, I'm signed up for Ice Age 50 Mile Trail in La Grange,Wisconsin.

I'm very excited about the summer of training in the mountains with Daniel Hamilton, Andrew Snope, and Morgan Elliot.  Chattanooga and Black Mountain will be my weekend home, no doubt.  I'll be doing alot of VERT in preparation for USATF 50K Trail Championships in August and USATF 1/2 Marathon Trail Champs in October.  I'll still be keeping the road wheels at the ready for either USATF Club Cross in December or 50K Worlds in Doha, Qatar if I'm fortunate enough to make the team.

Until next time....signing off....thanks for all the support.  Although this blog is a long time coming, a wizard is never late...he arrives precisely when he means to.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Announcing 2016-2017 Competitive Schedule

Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon (Road): January 3rd, 2016: Jacksonville, FL

USATF Olympic Trials Marathon: February 13th, 2016: Los Angeles, CA

Beaufort Twilight 10 miler (Road): March 19th, 2016: Beaufort, SC

USATF 100K Championships/Mad City 100K (Road): April 9th, 2016: Madison, WI

Rope Mill Half Marathon (Trail) June 11th, 2016: Woodstock, GA

Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race (Trail): June 17th-19th, 2016: Chattanooga, TN

UltraVasan 90K (Trail): August 20th, 2016: Mora, Sweden

IAU 100K World Championships (Road): November 27th, 2016: Los Alcazares, Spain


Black Canyons 100K (Trail): February 18th, 2017: Long Island, NY

Strollin Jim 41.2 Miles (Road): May 6th, 2017: Wartrace, TN

Comrades Marathon 89K (Road): June 4th, 2017: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

UltraVasan 90K (Trail): August 19th, 2017: Salen/Mora, Sweden

USATF 50m Road Championships: October 29th, 2017: Boalsburg, PA