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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

15' Grindstone 100

Grindstone 100
101.85 miles (23,000' elevation gain)
Swoope, Virginia
October 9, 2015
20 hours 58 minutes; 2nd place overall

Overview
The Grindstone 100 in Virginia is the closest qualifier for the Hardrock 100 to New England and has a huge amount of elevation gain.  Much of the course is on singletrack trails, many of which are rocky, rooty and leafy!  While the elevation change is relentless there are no extended, super steep sections of the course.  With a 6pm start time in the fall when the nights are getting longer it is an enduring overnight in the woods!  Like most ultra events the participants and the organizers feel like family by the time you are laying in the grass at the finish.  For my first mountain 100 miler this race was beyond expectations in terms of the course, people, and how my body held up.

Up to Race Day
I was psyched that the Grindstone could be rescheduled a week after its original date due to the rains on the east coast.  However, it did mean that my taper was not perfect for this race.  My body was ready to go the weekend prior and I felt almost lethargic during the last week before the race.  I didn't want to throw in any longer runs, but I was feeling stale.  After an 11 miler on Saturday I backpacked for two days, then got one more run in before taking off in the car for the 10 hour drive down to Swoope, VA from Vermont with Hillary.  We stayed in the Motel 6 about 30 minutes away from the start on Thursday night.  We found a small Mexican restaurant and I had a huge chimichanga with the works.  A perfect prerace meal!  We slept in for a bit on Friday morning, stocked up on Subway then headed up to the start area around midday.  It is a bit strange starting a race at 6pm.  People were just hanging out, trying to sleep a bit, eat, hydrate, but really just wanted to get going!  I was worried about being overtired near the end of the race since I would be awake for about 8-9 hours before the start, but my fake napping in the field during the day seemed to work okay.  Footlong at 2p, snacks all day, and lots of Nuun ... before I knew it 5p was approaching.  Partly sunny and cool in the 50s, perfect.

Start
At 6p we were off for the last  bit of sunlight. I started off in the top 6 or so from the start and stuck with a group of four for an hour.  As light started to diminish the rain turned on for an hour and left us in a wet fog for the rest of the night.  My heart rate was out of my shirt for the first 30 miles or so of the race even though I was feeling pretty comfortable.  I thought something was wrong with my HR monitor, but then it gradually came down.  I think the extended taper may have had something to do with it?  After a gradual initial climb and small descent into Falls Hollow at 5 miles we started up a 2300' foot climb in just over 4 miles.  Some of this was on a gravel/dirt forest road that was pretty steep, but with good footing it felt like a fairly short push before we had to stamp our bib at the top of the climb.

First big descent
It was a long, rocky, dark, slippery descent down from the top of the climb with the trail thick with leaf litter.  I got caught behind a slower descender for a while (which was probably a good thing!) before arriving at Dry Branch Gap (mile 10.5) in 5th place.  I knew my pace was a bit fast at this point (~10:45 pace), but I was starting to run alone and was just doing what was comfortable.  More climbing, then descending as I kept my place in 5th I could see multiple headlamps not too far in front of me as I entered Dowlls Draft at mile 22. I was 6 minutes back from the leader (Brian Rusiecki), which wasn't dictating my pace.  It was a big bump to come in to the first crew aid station near the front!  Tons of people lined the sides of the trail in chairs, cheering, cooking, etc. as I came through!!  It is so surreal to be in this small cone of light, alone in the woods concentrating on the trail and where your feet need to go then all of a sudden hear bells and cheers from spectators.  By surreal I mean awesome and bizarre!  It was great to see Hillary and her excitement as she restocked me with Nuun and food for the next 14 miles.  I was burning more calories than was sustainable for the long haul with my high heart rate, but I continued to eat GU, granola bars, and cereal bars at a pretty high pace.

Mile 30
Over the next 8 miles I passed three people and moved into second place to my surprise.  With smaller climbs and descents with good footing I was able to keep a fast (too fast!) pace at ~10:40 coming in to mile 30 in second place overall.  It was wet and very foggy, but I was feeling really good.  I continued at the same pace over the next six miles as I met up with Hillary at North River Gap.  This is a big stock up point since I wouldn't see Hillary for another 7 hours or so.  It was just past midnight and we switched up my headlamp even though I only had it on for the last 6 miles.  I had one more stashed in a drop bag at the next aid station too just in case.  At this point I was just a couple minutes behind Brian, the leader.

Running up front
Shortly after the aid station I could see Brain's light as I began to catch up to him.  We talked a bit and I just stayed on his heals.  He gave me pointers like holding my headlight down at my side while running in the fog as I asked him about the big races he runs in as a sponsored Patagonia athlete.  I could tell he was like, 'what are you doing up here?'  I knew I was going to pay for it later, but hey I was feeling good!  We started up a sequence of big climbs up towards Little Bald Knob and Reddish Knob.  I was very fortunate to have run into Brian at this point so that I could start to better pace myself on the uphill slog.  For the first time in the race my heart rate came down to a reasonable level, closer to the 135 range.  After 7.8 miles that seemed to go on forever with the continuous uphill climb we came to Little Bald Knob at mile 44.5 and our overall pace was now suddenly up to 11:50 pace.  My 40 ozs of water were not enough to get me to this aid station and I was out of calories.  I came into the aid station with Brian, but he left before me since I was a bit out of it.  I didn't realize it was the aid station I had a drop bag until I was about to leave, then I had to pack up my supplies.  I also grabbed my other headlamp and realized that the button had been pushed on during transport, so it was dead already!  Well, it was time to see if my Black Diamond Sprinter would last for about 6.5 hours.  I knew it wouldn't.  I ate and drank a bunch then left the aid station.  My state was starting to deteriorate a bit at this point.  It doesn't take much to go from feeling great to pretty out of it once you get down on calories and hydration at 2:30am.  Brian was less than a minute ahead of me out of the aid station.  I left in a bit of a frazzled state.

Reddish Knob & the Turn Around
As we get over 4000 ft the fog gets really thick.  I am now running completely alone again in what feels like a 2 ft box.  All I can see is fog and the tips of my shoes.  I come out on some pavement for a bit and suddenly folks at an aid station are pointing me up the short hill to the summit of Reddish knob.  At the top I see Brian turn around and once we come back down to the aid station he is 2 minutes ahead of me.  I had no concept of how close behind anyone else was at this point.  I refill bottles, add Nuun, and continue to chew calories.  Cereal bars became my go to food.  It was giving me some energy and was going down easy.  More pavement, then some dirt into the turn-around.  Brian is still just 2 mins ahead of me at the 51.5 mile turn-around.  I really couldn't believe it at this point because I was feeling pretty slow and beat up.  Now I can start counting miles down, pray for daylight, hope my lamp continues to light my path, and see where the rest of the pack is at.

Second Half
I was feeling very fatigued on the paved road portion back up to Reddish Knob Aid.  I see 3rd place at about 10 mins after the turnaround (20 mins back), and then a group at 15 mins (30 mins back), so really anything could still happen with half a race left!  Back to the Reddish Knob Aid (no summiting the second time around) and I was 3 minutes back from Brian.  I had to even hike some of the paved road sections leading to this point, so I thought he would be much further ahead by now.

It felt good to get back in the woods and on the trail.  It is also always uplifting to be passing the other racers going the other direction.  I was able to keep my pace up and came into mile 58 (Little Bald Knob) still just 2 minutes behind Brian (12:00 pace).  Now for the more rugged sections and longer distances between aid stations.  I had 7.8 miles to reach Hillary, but I knew it would get light just before that time.  My headlamp was not getting dim as far as I could tell and I just continued to dream of daylight.  I felt like I had been running in the dark fog for my entire life, it was all I knew!

Racers were still passing by occasionally when shortly after leaving  the aid station an hour and a half before sunrise, my headlamp goes black.  It never got dim, just died, done ...

It was so dark with a nearly new moon and the fog.  I started shuffling in the darkness feeling the trail with my feet.  That was it, race over.  I saw two other racers coming towards me from the other direction.  One of them asks, 'How's it going?'  I tell him my light is done but I'm trying to keep walking.  Without hesitation one of the guys opens up his pack and hands me a backup light of his and says take this.  I was stunned, thankful, humbled, grateful ... I asked for his name.  Thank you NICK!  I had a little adrenaline after this exchange and was feeling good for a bit, but it was a long haul to North River and to see Hillary.  66 miles, 12:20 pace, 14 mins back from Brian I show up at the aid and I am beat.  I just hand everything to Hillary and tell her to load me up.  I just stood slightly dazed and have some simple conversations with the aid staff.  Daylight was here, but I would continue in this basic state for the next 31 miles.

I was able to hold my overall pace to 12:20 or so through to the end of the race as I slogged on.  Brian built up his lead to just over 30 minutes by mile 80 and remained that far ahead until the end.  The uphills were getting harder, the steep downhills made my quads burn with pain, the constant rocks made me hike sections that were not that steep.  But I kept moving ...

Mile 96.7
Falls Hollow, mile 96.7, I see Hillary for the last time before the finish line.  5.2 miles to go, a climb, a descent, rocks, and a fairly flat section.  As I leave the aid and enter the trail again I hear behind me cheers from the crew for the third place runner, Darren.  Likely before I really knew what was happening I started running at a much faster pace.  Like a prey running from a predator it was instinctual to step it up instantly!  I had 45 seconds on him, plus whatever time he took at the aid station.  Later I found out that he just ran right through it!  I put my head down and told myself I had a 5 mile time trail to run as fast as I could.  I've become much less competitive as I get older, but when you have been in second place most of the day/night/day and put in 97 miles and over 20 hours of effort I wasn't about to lose that or let up because I was exhausted.  I ran every uphill, pounded the few technical downhills, and gave it everything I could.  On straighter sections I would take a glance back, but didn't see him.  It doesn't matter, he knows how close he is, PUSH.  I get out on the dirt road for the last 100 yds to the finish and I see Darren behind me near the pond and I allow myself to think that I will finish in second.  I stride into the finish just 25 seconds ahead and 34 minutes behind Brian.

The final push put me down.  Dehydrated and sore I couldn't stand without feeling like I would pass out within 15 minutes of finishing.  After cheering on some other finishers and drinking about 60 ounces of water and Nuun, Hillary pulled the car up to the finish line, the RD Clark lent a shoulder to me and I shoved into the car.  Ankle brace worked well, but blisters were enormous!

This was the hardest thing I have done to date.  I went out to fast and was left to persevere/suffer for a long time.  It was awesome.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Grindstone 2015 cancelled AND RESCHEDULED!

I got all of my work done before Fall break by Wednesday evening, so I go home to make the final preparations for the Grindstone 100 before our morning departure the next day (Thursday).  I check my email and I see in a subject line, 'Grindstone Cancellation ...'!  I looked at it in disbelief.  I knew the race had been cancelled two years earlier due to the prolonged government shutdown, which cancelled the race because the National Forest Service Permit could not be enforced.  I had been checking the news daily and knew that the bill had passed ... what's up!
Torrential rain was in the forecast so the Forest Service cancelled all special permits for the weekend, leaving the RD Clark Zealand with no choice but to cancel the event.  I was thinking dang Hurricane Joaquin is looking like it is going off-shore and even if there was landfall it would be Sunday or so.  But a stalled front was pounding the Carolina's to Virginia with tons of rain Friday through Sunday.  This was on top of rain earlier in the week.  I guess it was probably a prudent call with the high winds and about 3-4 inches of rain on the course during the projected race duration.  With up to 20 inches south of the area.
What to do!?  This is one of the last big ultra runs for the season.  It is the only Hardrock 100 qualifier, it would give me enough points to consider UTMB next year, ... should I try another attempt on the NPT?  The overnight lows int he Adirondacks are in the 20's, yikes!  But I'm in shape and ready for a huge effort!
Thankfully, somehow, we get another email from Clark two days later that the race is rescheduled for the following weekend!  My body is ready to go, I feel great, now I don't want to be too lethargic by tapering too long, but I don't want to start putting in bigger efforts and be even slightly fatigued for race day.  I decided to put in a decent 10 mile effort with about 1300 ft of gain on Sat, followed by some backpacking on Sat and Sun.  I will run on Tuesday and Thursday this week (about 4-5 miles each) and hopefully be very well rested for next weekend.  I've never been so itchy waiting for race day ...

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Grindstone 100 this week

Five days until the start of the Grindstone 100 mile trail race in Swoope, VA.  It will be an extremely difficult challenge with tough competition and about 23,000 ft of elevation gain on the out and back course through the Appalachian Mountains. Grindstone 100
I have been able to get in a good block of training before my taper the last few weeks.  It has been a season of ups and downs ...

  • May 30th - Ankle injury in Infinitus 88k, hiked out 5 miles, couldn't stand afterward
  • 8 days off, then started running on swollen ankle, iced nightly
  • July 10th - NPT FKT attempt (97 miles), swollen feet and ankles, could barely crawl
  • 10 days off
  • August 2nd - twisted ankle again descending Mt. Marcy, hiked out 7 miles, thought season was over
  • 10 days off
  • August 13th - started training for Grindstone with ankle brace
I was then able to get in 6 weeks of training where I increased up to 65 miles per week with runs approaching 30 miles.  I targeted trails and elevation gain with my largest week about 10,000 ft.  I did also get in about 15,000 ft during the week of the NPT attempt.
I have now been taking it easy for two weeks and will get in a short run or two this week.  I feel good right now, but we will see how it all translates.  My ankle has had no swelling for at least 3 weeks, but it is still a bit weak and I am really worried about it once I start to fatigue, so I will be wearing a small brace so I don't have to worry about it.  I have trained all of my long runs in this setup, so I am confident that it will not hinder performance.
Tie-up ankle brace with over sock


Saturday, September 19, 2015

NPT FKT Recap

My Northville-Placid Trail (NPT) fastest known time (FKT) attempt was unsuccessful in July.  I know I can set this FKT and will try again in the coming year or two.  It has just been a tough year running-wise to date.
At the start of the NPT at 8:30am

I started at the true start of the NPT in Lake Placid at 8:30am on July 10th, 2015.  After 1.l miles on the paved road it was on to the trail on a long stretch of isolated trail.  It was a beautiful sunny day around 80F, but very little humidity.  I concentrated on maintaining a comfortable pace as the trail went from a nice, well-used path to a more narrow, winding, muddier, rocky trail the further I got from the trailhead.  I only saw a couple people for this entire 35 mile section.  I carried with me 2-20 oz handheld water bottles and a small 'bag' on my back.  The bag was really just a camelback bladder holder only without the bladder in it.  I carried iodine tablets, Nuun tablets, GU, peanut butter crackers, cereal bars, granola bars, etc.  Hydrating was a task, although the water sources were abundant.  Drinking about 30 oz. an hour after I got in the groove meant I needed to stop at water crossings every 40 minutes or so to treat water in a single bottle.  I would drink from the other while the iodine did its deed, then fill the other as soon as possible.  So in the end the continuous stops to stay hydrated surely added up.  With all of that said I showed up at the road near Long Lake (mile 35.5) in 7 hrs 41 mins (~13:00 pace).  The record of 39 hrs 16 mins would be a 17:27 per mile pace.

After 1.1 miles I enter the trail
Hillary loaded me up with liquids and calories.  I sat for a quick meal of cold ravioli while Hillary repacked me with transportable calories and more Nuun.  After a couple minutes I was off again towards Durant Lake with another 15 mile section.  This section has the largest climb on the entire trail.  I made sure I wasn't over doing it, but was already able to see that I was working a bit harder than I should have to at this point.  It felt great to feel the cool air near the top of the climb, and even better to start descending.  As the sun started to get lower in the sky the views around Blue Mountain and Tirell Pond were beautiful!
On the trail in Lake Placid
Soon the sweet sound of the highway could be heard in the distance, so I knew I was close to seeing Hillary again and meeting another benchmark. To my surprise I see my sister Brooke and my niece Maddy waiting with Hillary near the highway!  The time was 7:30p, or about 11 hours, at about 50 miles in to the run (~13:10 pace).  I ate some pizza at the highway, Hillary got me restocked and threw a headlamp on my head.  She ran with me through the campground which was a bit surreal after being out in the woods all day.  People were making dinner, walking around the campsites, looking really comfortable.  Meanwhile I have dried sweat all over me as I run by shoving pizza and granola bars in my face!  Back on the trail with 9 miles to go to Wakely Dam on Cedar River Road.  As darkness took over I was happy to see that the new NPT trail markers were super reflective!  After a bunch of miles of more uphill then down I finally started to make my descent and hit the wider old forest road trails leading towards Wakley Dam and the dirt road.  Through the darkness I see a light ... Hillary and the car!  62 miles into the run, 13 hours and 51 minutes (~13:20 pace).  It is 10:30pm.

Hillary waits in Long Lake
I take a cereal bar and some Nuun quickly and we decide to meet further up the road at the picnic table near the camping area.  A dinner of cold ravioli in the dark.  My feet are starting to feel a bit irritated, but I shrug it off.  In hindsight I probably should have changed socks at a minimum at this point.  Little did I know my shoes were actually full of mud and my foot beds were starting to get scrunched up inside my shoes.  The trail was pretty muddy throughout.  Off into the darkness on the clear night I tell Hillary don't worry, but it might take a little longer to get through this section.  It will be the rest of the night into the morning to get through the next 30 miles with no access for support.  I felt like my nutrition was doing pretty well and I felt well hydrated with my Nuun, with no need for additional salt.  This would be my first run for more than an hour or two in the dark, my longest continuous running time to date, and my first run through a night.

Hillary finds me on the trail approaching Long Lake
Leaving Hillary I was on the dirt Cedar River Rd for awhile before the trail turned south.  The trail was really good for 5 miles or so leaving the road and all was going well.  Around mile 68 or 69 my pace started to slow as the trail approached Cedar Lakes and Canada Lake areas.  The dew was setting up, the lightly used trail got narrower, muddier and was on a constant weave.  There were lots of sections of flat trail that I had to walk (and even not so briskly!) due to the tightly packed overhanging vegetation over the trail where I couldn't see my feet.  It was about 1:30 am, the cool air felt great even though I was still in a t-shirt and was lightly sweating.  I was still feeling pretty good about my pace when the trail allowed me to run.  I still had a long way to go to get to Piseco, but I started thinking to myself, dang when will I get there.  BAD thought process!  Just keep moving, checkpoints will arrive when they arrive!

Choking down some ravioli at Long Lake
I pass a leanto near the Mud Lake outlet and cross the awesome wooden bridge with a crescent moon in the sky and stars everywhere at 3:30am.  It was certainly a highlight of the night run, especially after battling through the winding narrow trails around the lakes.  In about a mile I cross over a small wet gully, see trail markers to my left and continue on.  Little did I know that I was now traveling backwards on the trail!!  This seems nearly impossible to do and it would take too long to explain why it happened, but it did.  I didn't realize what had happened until I crossed back over the wooden bridge and saw the leanto again.  I was stunned and in a frantic disbelief.  My whole world was spun around in the dark and I had been now running for 19.5 hours straight.  I calmed myself and found a place to sit down.
Welcome to Durant Lake!
Use your observations to make a decision here, do not proceed with what you 'feel' is correct.  Make an objective decision.  I turned on my phone and tried to pull up a GPS point on a Google map, but nothing would load with the lack of reception to show a map.  I then remembered that my Garmin watch had a map function that would show my track, even though it did not show any landmarks.  Since I never use this function it took me about 5 minutes to get it to display.  I saw what I had expected.  My track and my current GPS location was not at the end of that track.  I had ran backwards.  I was fully aware that this could be devastating mentally, so I ate some food, drank and told myself that it was not a big deal, all is good.  However, I know this played with my head and my physical condition to a degree.  It was a very stressful time and my body was likely reacting to that stress in a way that was not productive.  Higher heart rate, tightening of muscles, etc.  Looking back at my GPS track this ordeal added an additional 2 miles and about 48 minutes of time.  It was a lot to handle at 81 miles into a run at 4am.

Headed through the campground at Durant
Fortunately in another mile I see a light in the woods and it is Palmer who slept in a hammock on the trail for the night to wait for me to come by so she could run out to Piseco with me.  Thank you!  I needed someone to assure me I saw running the right way.  It was soon starting to get lighter out, but I could feel my body wearing down more and more.  I kept moving.  My feet were starting to ache and we would take short stops to throw down food or fill water.  7 miles to go to the Piseco trailhead.  We could see Spruce Lake and I was really slowing down.  We could see the lake for what seemed like hours and my mental state deteriorated.  My feet and ankles were hurting so bad that I was having trouble attempting to run on the rocky, rooty sections of the trail.  Palmer would encourage me to run and I would for short sections, until there was another small obstacle and I would slow to a crawl.  I kept pushing to run again, pick up my head and go.  My body refused to respond.  I was in a low and just kept waiting for it to pass, so I could pep up again.  During my slow run pace my heart pounded, feet ached, and I couldn't keep it up for more than a couple minutes.  It turned into a full on walk.  Things kept going downhill and I wasn't turning the corner.  I softly tell Palmer with my head down that this is it, the run is over at Piseco.  I couldn't believe I said it, but this wasn't like a low point I have hit in the past.  I looked at my feet and they were both so swollen that I could see my skin bulging out of the tops of my shoes.  With about 2 miles to go we see Hillary on the trail coming towards us.  We all walked without stops for those two miles in the morning sun.  About a mile to the trailhead we see a group of two guys, clean, fresh, peppy, ready to take on the day!  I smile and say hi.  Where are you guys going?  Eventually to Lake Placid they say.  Awesome, I reply.  I started there yesterday. Huh?  Yeah well this will be it for me in Piseco though, I'm toast.

Hillary was not convinced I was done, but when I hit the car my body and I gave up.  97 miles of the NPT in about 25 hours, with the final miles being a zombie crawl.  I was still averaging a 15.5 minute per mile pace and had 14 hours to try to complete the final ~35 miles, which would normally be no big deal, but at my current pace it would take me another day.  In an 80 degree car with the sun shining down I wrapped myself in a down sleeping bag, lifted my feet and had Hillary help get my shoes off.  They hurt so bad it was not an easy task.  Mud flowed out.  My socks were torn to pieces and there was a ring around my fat ankles of blood and scrapes from the mud that was packed in my shoes.  I started shaking uncontrollably as my body relaxed from the effort.  After about 10-15 minutes it stopped and I tried to set my weight down on my feet.  I could not stand on my own.  Once my head said it was over, my body followed suit and there was no turning back.

I told myself in that moment that there was no more that I could do on that day and there was no way I could look back and say I should have gone further, because I couldn't.  When I got home it took me 5 minutes to crawl up the stairs at our house and I nearly passed out.  I laid on the floor until the next morning without moving.  I couldn't even make it up to the bedroom.

There were mistakes around this attempt, as would be expected from someone fairly new to the ultra scene, but I learned a lot and will become an even smarter athlete from this attempt.  I will pay more attention to my feet and debris/mud.  I will better manage setting up water, so I don't need to waste an equivalent of 0.8-1 min per mile to prepare water along the way.  My next FKT attempt on this trail will have a better training foundation.  My ankle injuries this season limited my mileage and that hindered performance.  Lastly, I pushed this attempt in terms of the season.  The trail was extremely wet and a true attempt should be done when many of the northeast trails are attempted, late August to September.  I was hoping to 'fit this in' before the Grindstone 100 miler on October 2nd.

I was inspired by all the support from Hillary, Palmer, my family and from the folks in the NPT Chapter.  I look forward to another attempt on this iconic trail.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

NPT date set

It will be a go on the 135 mile NPT on Friday July 10th around 8 or 9 am!  See the NPT Attempt page for details.  Twitter and FB for updates.

Hopefully I will see you in Northville Waterfront Park (Intersection of Main St. and Bridge St.) on Saturday afternoon/evening!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

135 mile NPT Run in less than two weeks

**UPDATED**
We are closing in on less than two weeks for the NPT run!


Date TBD between July 11-17, 2015 (Updated start on Friday June 10th 8-9am)
~135 miles from Lake Placid to Northville, NY Waterfront Park (Southbound)
Current Record 39 hr 16 min

The Northville-Placid Trail (NPT) was my first solo thru-hike back in high school.  I spend 6 days hiking from Upper Benson (near Sacandaga Lake) up to the TH on Averyville Rd., just outside of Lake Placid.  My sister dropped me off with my pack containing all of my provisions for nearly a week and my mom picked me up late in the morning at the end of the trail on the 6th day.  It was my first real test of endurance, both mental and physical, where I covered anywhere from 17-23 miles a day.  The trail is by no means super hilly.  It does not summit any peaks, but at the same time it is not a fast trail by any means due to the typical Adirondack rocks, roots, and mud!  It travels through some remote country, passes beautiful ponds, and a couple sections are over 30 miles between road crossings.

I am attempting a supported run on the NPT, which means that Hillary (and others!) can resupply me with nutrition, equipment (i.e. lights), or whatever along the way.  I can drop things off and grab what I need.  However, I will not have anyone 'mule' for me, which means no one will run beside me carrying what I may need at any moment.  I may have pacers, but will only resupply at the designated points on the trail.  With that said this trail is remote and there are not a lot of places to refuel.  I may be alone for up to 7 hours at a time, so I will need to carry enough calories and electrolyte (Nuun!) to supply me over that amount of time.

I will be attempting the record on the ENTIRE trail.  There is about 1.25 miles of road at the Lake Placid end of the trail and about 7 miles of road on the Northville end.  Some of the historical attempts have only included the trail portion of the trail, but there is a push by the NPT Chapter to construct the last few miles of trail to Northville in the near future.  In the last year they have already put in a number of trail miles and diverted the route around Upper Benson, which is the tradition trail section start.  Since I think the future attempts will be on a full trail, my attempt will also be on the full distance.  There have been many trail changes, reroutes, extensions over the life on the NPT, so I realize that any record is really on that specific configuration, which is bound to change again in the future.  The trail has been around for over 90 years, so there are bound to be changes.

As pointed out at fast known times the current record holder is Sheryl Wheeler in 2011 for both the trail portion (35 hr 13 min) and the entire trail (39 hr 16 min).  Since the NPT no longer passes through Upper Benson (the trail portion ending point of Sheryl's record setting run) I will attempt the entire trail.  I will also be going southbound as was pursued by most of the previous attempts.

I am looking at an 8am start on the day I see as a good weather window and hope to finish in under 35 hours if all goes well.  Below is a hypothetical table of road crossings and aid points if I finished in 30 hours, or a 13.6 minutes per mile pace.  Really who knows!  Start time may change.

Start - Lake Placid (Mile 0)                    8 AM
Trailhead Averyville Rd. (Mile 1.25)     8:20 AM
Long Lake/Tarbell Rd (Mile 38)            4:35 PM
Durant Lake CG Rte 28/30 (Mile 53)     8:00 PM
Cedar River Rd (Mile 66)                      10:45 PM
Piseco TH (Mile 97)                                6:00 AM (next day)
K Cross Rte. 8 (Mile 100)                          6:45 AM
Whitehouse (Mile 107)                           8:00 AM
End of trail, County Rte 6 (Mile 125)   12:20 PM
Finish - Northville Bridge (135 miles)   2:00 PM



I encourage anyone that wishes to come out and run some distance with me, or just say 'hey' out on the trail.  I will try to keep the most up to date information on my facebook account and twitter feed @avermily



For detailed information on the trail, including an interactive map see the NPT Chapter

Friday, June 19, 2015

Finally back on track

Well it has been a tough season so far.  Typically I am not a complainer, my body feels good and I just go!  Since April this season I have constantly had something bothering me.  Tendinitis in my quad, sore underfoot, twisted ankle, and even 5 weeks of an upset stomach that has limited my calorie intake and nutrition during runs.  Well I think it is all turning the corner.  My ankle injury is healing faster than I initially thought it would.  Just two weeks after I could barely walk I was back up to a 30+ mile weekend.  It is still slightly swollen, does not have all of its flexibility back, but is feeling pretty strong.  I just ran on it on non-technical trails and iced constantly for about two weeks,  My stomach is back to about 95% and my miles are finally back up.  Last week I was a bit tired and sore after not being able to run much for two weeks on my swollen ankle, but all in all things are good.

With this setback I will have to push my Northville-Placid Trail (NPT) attempt back a few weeks to mid-July, but I am again feeling confident about the outlook.  I was hoping to get an unsupported attempt on the Long Trail in before classes start again in August, but it appears the time frame is shrinking.  I need many more long mile weekends and time on the actual trail to be prepared for such an undertaking.

We will be traveling up to the Bay of Fundy marathon next weekend for Hillary to race.  Afterwards I will try to narrow in on a plan for the NPT attempt.

Oh yeah, I am two days in to my new shoes the Hoka Rapa Nui.  The anti-minimalist shoe that is lighter than my Salomon Speedcross 3 and loaded with cushion.  It cured my 4 week sore underfoot in just two days of wearing them around and so far they seem to be helping a bit with my outside foot striking.  They are super fast on the downhill.  I am looking forward to getting them out on some more technical trail to see how they handle the conditions.  They will be my new shoe until I am proven wrong by unmanageable conditions.  It is like having springs under your legs!
I just started ultra running in 2013. I have done a couple Ironman triathlons then I did not train much for about 3 years. On July 27, 2013, after a long bike ride with some friends I got the itch and signed up for the Virgil Crest 50 mile ultra. I was able to place second overall and tie the previous course record. My longest week included a 27 mile run and a weekly total of 50 miles. I am curious what I can do with adequate training ...

I attempt to take advantage of each season and cross train as much as possible to prepare for my upcoming 2014 ultra running races. Below you will find excerpts from my training days and races. You can search the blog for individual race reports or other key words on the bottom right-hand side. I work full-time as a professor at Castleton State College, so I utilize weekends for longer workouts and do what I can during the week.

Let me know if you want to go for a run!