The Unfattening 2019

Well, well well. Looks like the last time I posted was after my 50 miler back in the fall of 2017. I’m afraid my 2018 was a complete bust. Not that I didn’t do well. Not that I didn’t reach my race goals. Not that I didn’t get to that trail or mountain I wanted to… Nope, none of those things. I pretty much didn’t run at all. After 3 years of training pretty much non-stop, I hit that mental wall. I got really sick after my 50 miler in September of 2017 and never really got it back. At first I just let it go. Knowing that I would get the feeling again, because I always did. I’d have a crappy couple of weeks and then miss it and get back out there. This time it didn’t happen. This time I started drinking way too much. Eating way too much and not doing a damn thing except get fat and play a LOT of Bloodborne.

Besides relearning the Soulsborne games, I did very little to better my body. Each time I tried to start up again, I’d come up with an excuse not to continue. Low and behold, here I am, over a year later, 50 pounds fatter and having to start from zero with my running. Not absolute zero, I still have a little bit of the mental game left. I still have the experience to know what I need to do. It’s now just a mental game of reminding myself that it will get better. I hate that I let myself slide back into so many poor habits, but have just a little hope that I’m starting to turn it around, and that little sliver of hope is what I’m digging on.

I’m hoping that I can get this big dumb idiot body back into shape by this summer. I also hope that I keep jotting my thoughts down here to keep myself honest. I ran today and wrote today, so that’s all I can ask for.

TARC Fall Classic 50 Miler

Seems like after 3 years of near perfect weather for my races, my time was up. When I woke up in my hotel room at 3:00 and looked out from the 4th floor of the Marriott, I didn’t see any rain. Niiice. Maybe the storm pushed north, maybe I’d get in a dry morning… An hour later, as I loaded my cooler into the car, the sprinkles started, but I still thought, meh, isn’t that bad. Standing in the dark of a pre-dawn New England morning, listening to the pre-race meeting, it was dry again. At this point, I figured fuck it. If it rains it rains and tried to get the idea out of my head. I’ve run in way worse weather than this day could throw at me and I really can’t control it, so why think about it.

First problem of the day is that I hadn’t been able to shit before I left the hotel. No idea why, but that worried me more than anything else. I have a pretty decent routine that usually flushes the system within plenty of time. This morning, no such luck. I knew that I would be taking some time during my race to visit the big, blue beauties. The first few miles were nice and easy, a string of headlamps bopping around the woods. The rain would start and stop, without that much concern. Except for a few exposed sections that ran along the outside of some corn fields, the trees took most of the rain. The course is a 10.3 mile loop. It is mostly single track, double track and a few jeep road sections. Even in the foggy, rainy morning, I really enjoyed the course. Plenty of fun chunks that kept it fresh.

Only big course marking problem was around mile 8 where someone had taken down a very important sign that had us leaving a jeep road and heading back into some single track. I was about a quarter mile past the turn off, when a group of runners were walking back down the road looking for the trail. That was the only time anything was wrong with the markings. Everything was so well marked, I have to assume someone took the sign down. I finished the first lap in 2:12 including time in the aid station. I just reloaded some gels and refilled my water pack. The second loop is when the rain and wind really started. I pulled my gloves back out when I noticed my hands were kind of stuck in this weird, curled position. I kept to my plan of hiking the few hills there were and walking every 30 minutes to take a gel. I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to keep up this plan, but didn’t really have any better ideas. I finished the second loop at 4:17. I was pretty happy with a near 2 hour loop and thought, hell not bad. The rain was starting to die a little and the wind was pretty much gone.

I switched out my socks, replaced gels, filled my water and took off on loop 3. This was were I started to feel my feet and knees a little. Nothing out of the ordinary, just the usual, long run bullshit. I was still drinking plenty of water and sticking to my gel every half hour routine. I finished loop 3 in 6:35. At this point I switched into a dry shirt, ate a few pieces of a grilled quesadilla that rocked, and was also the only real food I ate during the race. My friend John was also there to run the last 20 miles for me. My only concern was to finish this next lap by 3:45 pm, which was the first cutoff. I didn’t think there would be a problem, but it was still in the back of my head.

It was nice having John there, and the lap was pretty uneventful. I was a little slower and the lap took me 2:26, but I was way under the cutoff time and only took about 4-5 minutes in the aid station before heading back out for the 5th and final loop. I pushed pretty hard and ran nearly the entire lap. It was great pushing myself and I’m proud of the way I finished. Total time for my first 50 mile race was 11:20.

Feet and knees were a little sore and the last lap started to chafe my taint a bit, I kept lubing, but the shorts I was wearing have this horrible habit of taint chafe after about 10 hours. Biggest bullshit of the day? My barely out of the box Ambit3 failed to upload my race. It crashed the app 3 times and then wouldn’t open at all. After a week of back and forth with Suunto, they told me it is lost in their complete shit software. It’s still on the watch, but they have no way of pulling it out of there. It was a harsh reminder for me not to focus on my Strava numbers and know that I did the work.

  • Altra Lone Peak 3
  • 2 pairs of Injinji medium weight
  • 21 Salted Caramel Gu
  • All the water
  • about 5-6 pieces of quesadilla
  • Nathan VaporCloud Race Vest
  • Suunto Ambit3 Peak


  • Lap 1- 2:15
  • Lap 2- 2:04 – 4:17
  • Lap 3- 2:17 – 6:35
  • Lap 4- 2:26 – 9:02
  • Lap 5- 2:18 – 11:20

The World is Going to Shit and I’m Fat and Lazy Again (or, just another February in New England)

This winter has been a shit show, but you don’t need me to tell you that.  I’ve significantly let my training go and I’m now paying the price.  The biggest drop in my fitness is felt when I’m done with a run.  I remember when I first started running, how red my face was when I was finished, and that shit is happening again.  It’s fucking embarrassing, but at least I know what’s happening and that a month is too fucking long to take off drinking beer, eating cake and playing video games.

This week I just started.  4 slow, short runs so far, but it’s definitely a start.  I hate how far I’ve slid, but I’m trying to focus on building my base back up.  I know that I can get back to where I was so that’s not really bothering me.  It’s mostly that I’m sore and tired from distances that I was past being sore and tired from years ago.  Damn that cake was amazing.

Remembering Eric Sherman

Talking with Eric Sherman before my first marathon.

Talking with Eric before my first marathon.

This post, and blog for the most part, is a journal for myself.  Honestly, besides my family, it is unread, which is completely fine with me.  I write here to keep myself on track and with the infrequency of my posts, you can see how off track I get.  I feel like I need to write something today though.  A local runner and podcaster, Eric Sherman passed away on Tuesday and I can’t kick the emptiness his death has left me with.  I didn’t know Eric well, but he was an inspiration to me and my running.  Let me tell you a story.

I got out of my car, nervous and not quite ready for my first marathon. I walked around to the back to get my gear ready and heard a distinct voice coming from the hatch of the car next to me. I told my wife, “I think that’s Eric Sherman from DFL.” I looked over and saw Eric, sitting cross-legged in the back of his car, doing an intro to the 2015 Spring Classic episode. I waited until he was done and introduced myself. He was completely sincere from the first sentence. I talked to him about the race and how his recovery was coming along.  I remember hearing him talk about the difficulty in attending races while he was injured.  He asked if he could interview me for DFL after the race, which he did on episode 49. He also interviewed my wife about how she felt about crewing for me.  Alicia had a blast chatting with Eric and still remembers the conversation well.  I remember telling him that my first ultra was going to be Pisgah and he mentioned that was his first and probably his favorite.

I met up with Eric again at Ghost Train last fall.  I was stoked to see that he had rehabbed and was running the race. He looked great and I thought, damn, what a difference from April.  I’m not sure he quite remembered me, but he chatted me up like he did.  I only saw him a few times over the next 9+ hours, and he had left by the time I finished my 3rd loop.  I really wanted to talk to him about his race and am pissed I never emailed him.

He made me feel welcome and through his podcast, I felt like I knew Eric more than I actually did.  He made a difference in the way I looked at training, racing and my life in general. I never got to run with Eric. I never got to pick his brain about the New England Trails we both love. I wasn’t able to thank him enough for the joy his podcast brought me. I can say that in the short time I knew Eric, he made me feel included in the new-to-me ultra community. I always felt that when I talked with him, he was more interested in my story than I was in telling it. I will miss Eric sincerely.

Fresh Start

This winter and spring has been a pretty low point in my new-ish running hobby.  After a couple of strong years with an abundance of strength and determination, this past winter was a real bitch for me.  I haven’t wanted to run, which is a real change for me.  I cancelled my first race of the year and haven’t as of yet signed up for anything.  I’m not enjoying the running, I’m not excited for running news and don’t really enjoy talking running with other runners…  All things I did constantly over the past year and a half.

So, now that the weather here is turning and the days are longer and warmer, I’m feeling better about wanting to get outside and run.  I built up a running plan around a race in September, my first 50 miler, along with my 2nd annual birthday run-your-age run.  Last year I did 39 miles broken up over the whole day, this year I want to do one 40 mile run.

The plan I built is almost a beginner’s training plan.  I didn’t want to feel overwhelmed with having to hit longer miles.  I’m pretty much trying to get a passion back for running.  Yesterday, I went out and got lost in a cool trail system that I haven’t explored before, today I just did a little 3+ miler in the morning before work, my favorite time of the day to run. The rest of this week, I want to go on fun runs and explore some areas I haven’t been to in a long while.

I really hope this kicks my gears up a little.  Without my running, I’m definitely feeling the lifelong minor-depression sneak back into my everyday life.  That’s something that scares me and is always somewhere back there behind me.  I know it’ll always be there, I just need to stay out in front of it.

The Weather, It Is A-Changin’

Wow…  I mean, FUCKING-A wow!  What a fantastic little stretch of weather we’re having here in Southern New Hampshire.  I tossed on my shorts for yesterday and today’s runs.  Rocking out with the white-ass legs and loving every minute of it.  Picked up a new pair of ear buds, some cheapo $20, over the ear ones that worked pretty well today.  It’s amazing how weather plays such a huge part in my mental health.  I’m not saying I’m unique in this, it’s just such a nice change of pace.  I’m like an idiot dog that completely forgets that winter isn’t forever and right around the corner, we’ll all be out there dropping gallons of sweat and looking towards Autumn for some relief from the heat.

Here’s a big middle finger to everyone who hates the time change coming this weekend too.  I LOVE IT!  In the bat of an eye, we add an hour of daylight to the afternoon!  It’s incredible.  I know, I know, we “lose” and hour of sleep, but anyone with children…  or dogs for that matter, know they aren’t aware there’s a time difference.  They don’t give a shit I’d prefer to sleep an extra hour.  I’ve learned to embrace the spring time change.  The way I see it, if you leave work at say 4:30, your body gets ready to leave work at 4:30, but now your body’s 4:30 is actually 3:30.  See?  You’ve tricked your dumb brain and you feel like you’re leaving early.  So save all your pissy Twitter and Facebook posts and get ready to enjoy your extra hour!  You’re welcome.

Gym Workouts and Computer Upgrades

It’s been an interesting first week of my alcohol-free diet.  First things first, it’s been way easier than I anticipated it would be.  I’ve been able to go to bed relatively early and am getting some decent sleep.  I’ve logged 14 miles running with another 6 planned today, plus 28 miles on the bike.  It’s windy as fuck today, so I might wait until tomorrow to hit the extra 6 before this weekend’s “Longer” runs.  Not really going to push it.  On Saturday I plan on hitting Drummer for the first time this year.  Chris wants to check out the course for this June’s Race and I always like going up there.  Depending on how that goes, I’ll head out Sunday for some junk miles or maybe hit the gym and do a little treadmill and bike work.

Onto the computer side of things.  I’ve been thinking about upgrading my graphics card for months now and I’m finally settling on a card.  I’m thinking about the AMD R9 380.  It’s locking around Amazon and Newegg for around $200, and maybe in a few weeks I can pull the trigger on it, we’ll see.  I’m not going to lie, it’s all about playing Fallout 4.  I wish I could finagle something about needing it for work, but it ain’t.  I was able to play Witcher 3 on my current card at low settings and it wasn’t terrible, but I’m super jealous of the details I missed, and don’t want the same thing to happen with Fallout 4.

First 20 of the Year

45mphSunday I knocked out my first 20 miler of the year.  It was an absolutely stunning February day and I was able to hit the rail trail for a majority of the run.  I’m pretty enthusiastic about the day and that I got in a 20 miler this early into this training cycle.  My right foot, which has given me the majority of pain since Ghost Train, feels pretty good and the knees were a little pinged later in the day, but mostly I feel my body has recovered nicely and ready for another week of training.

Yesterday I went to the gym for a 20 mile recovery ride on the stationary bike.  I’m actually not really sure how accurate the distance on those bikes are and if I’m going to hard or not hard enough on the tension.  I would love to build a trainer system with one of those fancy-ass computer programs that I see popping up on Strava here and there, but I’m scraping by with 2 pairs of aging shoes right now and don’t have nearly enough scratch to throw at a franken-trainer.

Probably the biggest news of the week is that I am officially quitting drinking until after the Spring Classic.  I’m struggling to drop the weight, and high-octane craft beers don’t exactly add to the strategic caloric plan I want to embrace.  I’m also going to try and do some sort of workout every day.  I’m even considering one of those daily, home workout subscriptions I keep seeing on Hulu.

I know April isn’t the goal month for the year and there are plenty of months left in the year and plenty of races, but I want a strong summer of training and feel like I’m behind already, although the 40 miles I put in this week makes me feel a little better.  Ghost Train registration just went live and I also want to do Pisgah again.  It’s a long season and I need to remind myself that I have plenty of time to run plenty of trails.

8 Miles On Trashed Legs

It’s been a while since I put in any significant mid-week miles and yesterday it showed.  I put in 4 on Tuesday, 8 on Wednesday, including 4 miles of intervals, and 8 yesterday.  After my marathon last April, I started up again too soon and really exhausted myself.  Then, in an attempt to mix up my training, switched from a mile based plan to a time based plan.  Even though I was able to complete my goal of 45 miles at Ghost Train, looking back, I don’t think I was training hard enough.  On the other hand, I think that if I had trained harder, I might have actually injured myself and not have been able to race at all.  Either way, I’m feeling way behind where I think I should be in my training for this year’s TARC Spring Classic.

The most telling example is yesterday’s run.  I went out feeling truly beat.  The kind of beat you feel in the last part of a race.  It was an all-around shit show.  It was warmish, but with a pouring rain.  A mile in, I cleared my nose and it started bleeding ridiculously, which lasted until about mile 4.  A few miles later, all the blood that I had swallowed started to turn my stomach.  I kept from barfing, but that made me almost shit myself…  All on legs that felt like cement.

I’m glad I got in the 20 miles this week with another 20 planned for the weekend.  I haven’t hit 40 in a while and am looking forward to pushing myself on the rail trail if it’s not a skating rink.  I love heading out and just doing a long out and back.  There’s excitement in exploring new trails, but I also love the comfort of a soothing out and back.  I’ll line up some podcasts and just get lost in my head without getting lost in the woods.

Beard, No Beard

I’m trying hard to beat the February doldrums with anything I can to shake it up.  Yes, even shaving the beard.  When I was younger and felt I needed to make a mental switch, I’d shave my head.  Not exactly sure why I thought a physical change would help with a mental hurdle, but it did.  Before I shaved the beard, I thought I would miss it or quickly realize that I’d made a huge mistake, but really it’s not that big a deal.  I might put it back on come fall, but for now, I’m enjoying not having beard in my food or food in my beard.

Yesterday I planned on hitting the treadmill and bike at the gym, but unfortunately, ran out of time and was only able to run.  I did manage to get in 8 miles, split between 4 miles of quarter mile intervals and 4 miles of an easier pace.  One thing I love about the gym is that I can catch up on my Hulu queue.  If the wife doesn’t particularly like a show, I toss it into my gym queue.  I’m currently watching the new X-Files and 11.22.63 which I’m completely digging on.  Without spoiling anything, the last few minutes of the second episode of 11.22.63 was so frantic that I unconsciously sped up my cadence and almost ran into the front of the treadmill.

Beard, No Beard