Monday, March 19, 2018

Running Swedish, Deep Trouble in Woodford, and the Treadmill Grind

I am proud to announce that for the year 2018, I will be representing Salming Running as a brand ambassador. I was drawn to a shared Facebook post saying that Salming was on an ambassador hunt, and I thought that it would be fun to review gear and shoes, and share it with the large New England running community I am glad to be a part of. I didnt really expect to be selected and was pleasantly surprised when I got an email from the U.S. CEO David Field inviting me to be a part of the team. As time goes on I will be posting reviews on gear. Once I have an adequate amount of mileage on the three pairs of Salmings I own, I will be sure to share my thoughts. Salming is a Swedish based company started by former NHL star Borjes Salming and began with court sports like handball and squash.. Their shoes all adopt a 5 point design philosophy (Light, Flexible Flat, Thin, with an anatomical Comfortable fit). I have found that all of this is true, along with the "No Nonsense" trademark slogan. To learn more Visit:


My Current Stable thanks to Salming (Left to Right)
Trail T5
OT Comp
Distance D5

DEEP Trouble In Woodford

This past weekend, I was fortunate to participate in the Dion Snowshoes (link below) National Championship. Every four years the Snowshoe National Championships are held in my backyard (well sort of) in Woodford, VT. Woodford is in a snow lovers sweet spot, and typically gets exponentially more snow than lower lying Bennington. In the weeks leading up to the 2018 race, Woodford received upwards of five feet of snow. Race Director Tim Van Orden certainly had his hands full since he had to plan MULTIPLE races from a "Kids Kilo" up to a Marathon. The deep snow added a complicated logistical element, to marking and packing down fast racing trails. Tim, put a solicitation out and a ton of volunteers came forward to help make this race weekend a complete success! I had the pleasure of volunteering a couple of hours, which wanes in comparison to volunteers like the RD, and Silvia Cassano, a local rep for the Bennington Area Trail System (BATS) and all around outdoor bad-ass. I ran the 10K and was over-matched by some awesome talent and conditions that just whooped me!  The deep snow made passing difficult, and the first 2 1/2 miles were a tough trek to the summit of Prospect Mountain. This was my first time on the rackets this winter, and in hindsight I probably should've strapped them up a few more times when I had the chance! I finished in 1:37 which put me just behind the exact middle of the 100 man field. I did find out later on Facebook that I won the military division...Yeah...I beat the other guy.

After a punishing 10k I got to stick around and talk to Bob Dion of Dion Snowshoes, who gave me a few pointers on how to maintain my snowshoes and set them up for deep snow! He suggested using candle wax on the cleats and rivets, and also upgrading to the deep cleat. Dion Snowshoes are modular and easy to customize. 

Early Stages of the 10k National Championships

The Grind
It is hard to look back at a "middle of the pack" performance and put a positive spin on it. I can make all the excuses in the world, but I honesty don't believe I need to and here's why; This was a hard race, with even harder conditions. The 10k had over 1,200' of vertical climb, and the snow was knee deep at some points, despite the female 10k runners stomping it down. The reason I am satisfied with a lackluster finish is because this race brought some of the strongest snowshoe runners in the country (Including some international competitors) to Vermont. I don't think being average among the fastest is too bad!
Some of the Hearty Volunteers packing the singletrack
The day before Nationals. Tim VanOrden is leading
the way on antique snowshoes, Tim would go on to 
Make another National Team the following day!

I have been stricken to the cardio room at work standing several 48 & 72 hour shifts lately. It is hard to stay passionate about trail running when you simulate it on an electric contraption in a climate controlled room. I use the treadmill out of necessity, and don't necessarily advocate for it to stay in shape. Will it work? Sure. 

Looking Forward
I am currently training for the Peak Bloodroot Ultra in Pittsfield, VT. This race is on May 5th, and should be a tough one. I am doing the 30 miler, AKA "The Kids Race" while I would prefer to do the 50 miler AKA "The Slightly Longer Kids Race". I say kids race because this race is held in conjunction with a 500 miler. 500 is not, and likely will never be a goal of mine however, that's pretty radical. 30 miles is about the max I am willing to commit to with competing demands, and I'm cautiously building mileage and experimenting with some new nutrition ideas (more to follow on that, unless I vomit a lot at Bloodroot. In that case I'll talk about puke rather than my silly nutrition idea). 

Luckily I am back on the dirt. My last few workouts were close to home, where I can get a solid amount of vertical gain with half mile repeats while my one year old (Brycen is one! Holy Crap that was fast!) sleeps. On Saturday I managed to get 2,300' of climbing under the stars on our dirt road, and promptly cracked my St. Patty's beer afterward. 

Ran 2,300' of repeats on St. Patrick's Day in the NEW 
Salming OT Comp. The Michelin outsole handled 
our sloppy un-maintained road for 8.5 miles

Monday, October 23, 2017

With hurricanes, new assignments, and dad duty I have neglected to keep this page alive. There haven't been many changes in my training/racing world, nor to my present philosophy regarding running. I have been logging less mileage over the last few months, but much more vertical climbing. Chris Dunn at Ascend Endurance Coaching (Link below) blogged something along the lines of "when short of time..climb". This sort of advice is right up my alley as a busy new dad splitting my time and attention between a career in Coastal Massachusetts, and my beautiful family in Southwestern Vermont. In addition to the lower running mileage I have been cross training by road cycling and mountain biking. I feel like the bikes will generally treat my body better to keep me moving for years to come, that is if I keep them upright! Most of my road cycling has come in the form of my 15 Mile commute to work. It is pretty rare that I find pavement attractive even on a bicycle.

Mount Mansfield
I have only toed the line a few times since Loon in July. I ran the Race to the Top of Vermont with some pretty disappointing results. This was a tough climb from the Base lodge at Stowe Mountain Resort to the highest point of the auto road. This race doesn't reach the summit of Mount Mansfield, however with a little fuel in the tank I took advantage of my time on Vermont's highest peak and returned to my truck via the Appalachian trail. I ended up finishing 58th out of 380 something and about 5 minutes behind my goal time. The return trip on the A.T. was probably the highlight of my day.

Mount Mansfield ridge traverse after the Race
Race For The Cure VT
Ashley entered us into a local 5k benefiting the Susan G. Komen foundation. Initially we were going to run together however the race organizers outlawed strollers at the absolute last minute (on the starting corral). Luckily we had family available to hang with the "B-Man". Since I was no longer laden with a newborn and stroller I decided to treat the race as a speed workout. I was grateful to win in 19:31. Ashley ran an extremely strong race in her return after giving birth and finished in 26:31!

Race For the Cure 

Lynn Woods Summer Series
This Free race series (donation recommended) is held on every Wednesday night throughout the summer. In addition to a variety of distances to choose from Lynn Woods offers some very unique races. This year in addition to being a regular on the "long course" I participated in the 4 person relay with aR teammate Jeff Hixon, and a handicap race which was probably one of the most interesting trail races I have ever run. Our relay team "The Crispy Bits Of the Round table" was a strong team of mixed trail and very fast road runners. Our combined time was 1:04 minutes for a four person 10 mile trail race. We were tenth overall an celebrated afterwards with some adult beverages and sausages cooked over a coffee can sized camp stove.
Finishing my 2.5 mile trail loop 16:14

The handicap event gives middle and back of the back racers the chance to break the tape. At the start each runner is assigned a handicap based on results from the entire summer. Of those who showed up I was second to last to start, and trying to overcome a 28 minute deficit for a 5mi trail run. I HAD ZERO EXPECTATIONS HERE. My only goal was to hold off the one racer behind me with a 30 minute handicap (2 minute head start). This race felt like a losing battle until the very end when all of the runners bunch up a mile before the finish chute. My final time was a 35:38 @6:31 pace which was the second fastest that evening, however it was good enough for 37th overall with the handicap applied! This series is a ton of fun, and Lynn Woods trails have something for everyone. There are steep climbs, sketchy descents and technical singletrack.  

Biking & Hiking
I am really enjoying my time in the saddle, and as of today I have logged around 300 miles on the bike  and over 14,000' of elevation gain. As far as running I am around 1,233 miles and around 117,000'. 
The commute has really strengthened my legs I have nicknamed my 
98' steel Bianchi Trofeo "Serbatoio di Guerra"

Climbing is lovely...descending on a hardtail 2,000' is scary!

A 5 mile fall stroll with B-Man!


Monday, July 10, 2017

Backhanded by Loon #nosafeword

"There is no safe word at Loon"

Well that humble pie was tasty and filling. Seconds? no thanks I'm good! I am a little late on this report based on work obligations and my need to lick my wounds after a tough race.  Apparently frolicking through the Kittatiny Range at a "loiter" pace for the last four years hasn't done me much good! Perhaps I am older now, or bear more responsibilities outside of running up mountains than I did a few years ago. 

I started the race very conservative knowing that I would be out of "Loon shape" but confident in my abilities to move swiftly. I felt great around the 3 1/4 mile mark and started to make moves, this was the tail end of the muddy Nordic section of the mountain where everyone was carrying good speed. I kept the forward progress up until descending the North peak crossing over the higher elevation black diamonds with names like "Yard Sale" and "Danger Zone" knowing the infamous "Boss" was the next right turn after cooking my quads on the downhill. Crossing the mat at the bottom of Upper Walking Boss I thought to myself "it's on" and started a power hike pace that I wouldn't keep up. The idea that I was passing more people on the toughest climb in New England mountain running was enough to give Photographer Scott Mason ( ) a smile, and sling a few smartass comments back at the heckling Ryan Welts. Great right?!

Feeling very strong moments before the descent. Photo Credit Richie Blake

"This sucks but I'm Having Fun!"

Just past the Boss welcoming party came instant nausea, and vomit was inevitable. Luckily no photos of this incident have surfaced as of yet. There I knelt at 3,000 feet above sea level vomiting my guts out. UWB time: 16+ minutes.

The ugly metrics are below:



Does anyone know this guy? 2013 running the last section of Upper Walking Boss

I would love to relive the glory days and say "I used to run Upper Walking Boss in 13 minutes" but that still isn't too great! Furthermore, the course was shorter then. 

All isn't lost, I got to reunite with teammates, and friends that I said goodbye to four years ago at this same venue. Loon is a beast that I plan to continue to run as long as my legs will let me. The event has only gotten more epic as time goes on so I am looking forward to 2018 already! Chris Dunn and Paul Kirsch of Acidotic Racing have made this event an absolute must.

I'm taking advantage of the terrain I now have living exclusively in New England (VT/MA). Yesterday I tagged along for a tour of Baldy and Mt. Blue Job in Strafford, NH with Teammate George Joy. Today in an effort to finish up a Strava climbing challenge I ran 8 repeats at a local park totaling just shy of 2,000' of vertical gain which isn't too shabby for a coastal area. Thanks to teammate and friend Jeff Hixon, I am now registered to run the Lynn Woods trail races every Wednesday night. Last Wednesday I showed up a little late and was relegated to the "short race" a 5k(ish) to which most of us got lost, but I think i have the 1.77 mile race record :). Next week I hope to make it to the longer 6(ish) mile race.

Panorama shot atop Mt. Blue Job great views and conversation

Amesbury, Ma Powow hill is 331' above sea level. While not gargantuan in size, the views looking Northeasterly are pretty amazing. Today 7-10-17 Star Island, NH was clearly visible 18 miles seaward.

The Important stuff
My little mountain runner in training is days, (my prediction) from crawling and has popped three, razor sharp little teeth. Being a dad to the two greatest children on earth is more than worth the decreased performance! With that being said I still want set a solid example for them..."Don't call it a comeback"

Coming to the gnarliest trail near you!

-Happy Trails

Monday, May 22, 2017

Girls On The Run!

Busy Busy
In my last days here in New Jersey, I have struggled to get the mileage I would like. With last minute loose ends to tie up, training has fallen back some. When times get busy like this I usually try to force myself to sneak in both a morning and evening run. In the past I was able to get 50 mile weeks and still take a double zero on Saturdays and Sundays. Despite the shortage in valuable training I was fortunate enough to participate in "Girls on the Run VT". If you are unfamiliar stay with me here..


Fisher Elementary at GOTR VT 2017

Last week was Libby's 5k for Girls on the Run. This program is a fantastic way to build self esteem, confidence, and fitness in elementary school aged girls. The program is in all 50 states and seemingly grows larger every year. This was Libby's second year participating and the 26th year of GOTR. Over the last few weeks, elementary schools have offered an after school program specifically for young girls to prepare them for a local 5k race. The 3.1 mile distance may not seem a lot for a seasoned runner, but as an ultramarathoner nothing sounds worse than 5,000 agonizing meters. The volunteers track the progress of the girls and show them that they can run a grown up distance if they train for it. 

Racing to finish their 5K, Mendon Peak in the distance.

Teamwork, and friendly encouragement made for a STRONG finish.

The girls on the back stretch...not pictured...the dopey stepdad
running and trying to take pictures....

Our event was in Rutland this year, along with several other schools. I am not sure of overall participation but I would estimate well over 600 kids plus parents and spectators. Ashley and I both registered to try to keep up with these fierce girls. Before the event the girls have the chance to purchase GOTR swag ranging from superhero pink capes to face paint. At the start the small group of girls Ashley and I were running with took off on us and we spent the first few minutes locating our front running adolescents. The course was thoughtfully designed, and wasn't an easy run. The Rutland fairgrounds boasts a half mile (8 furlongs for my gambling degenerate friends) horse track. This track was circled twice during the 5k, allowing parents and spectators to see and cheer on their kids at two separate points. The homestretch had Ashley and I running sub 7 minute miles to keep up with our little group of showoffs (who only showed signs of fatigue away from the watchful eye of any spectators).

Prior to the final event, Libby had a 5k PR of 44 minutes. She literally smashed that time completely out of the park finishing in 35:23 with an average pace of 10:53! Our tracks are below...

Some Tired Girls rocking their newest race hardware.

In the film "Finding Traction" Ultra Runner Nikki Kimball has a casual conversation about Girls on the Run with the GOTR VT that really resonated with me.  During her FKT attempt on the 273 mile Long Trail, Kimball insisted that one of the GOTR girls would come along and break her record in the future. I completely agree after seeing the support and encouragement these kids gave each other. I encourage anyone who has a daughter to get involved, or support this program! 
Happy Trails.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Decent Week

Last Week
Last week I had the pleasure of taking a lot of days off for a minor (yet cringe worthy) medical procedure. I'll let you use your imagination here. Upon trying to "saddle up" again (Pun Absolutely intended) I took a trip out to Palmerton, PA for my Southernmost run on the Appalachian Trail. I did a 12.2 mile double loop, on Blue Mountain from route 248. Some was Northbound from here and some was Southbound. The route included what must be the slowest measured mile in PA. This section was somewhat technical, link to the Strava page and some photos are below:

Really Sweet View here, but craggy.

Bypassed the Devil's Pulpit on Blue Mountain 

58.8 Miles This Week
Rod Farva, sarcastically said it best "Watch out for this guy."  Really I had a great week mileage and recovery wise. Midweek, I tried to hang with some hard 5:45-6 minute pickup speed work (on pavement), and the weekend yielded some solid trail mileage. Saturday consisted of a local loop near the Jersey Shore (I didn't run into "Snookie" or "J-WOW"..sorry if that is disappointing). Wells Mills County Park in Forked River, NJ was a nice spot to try to move fast on some flat trail. Overall this parks outer loop AKA Penn's Hill Trail, is 8 1/2 miles and has a lot of short steep climbs and slippery wooden footbridges to fall off of. I managed to grab a course record there by about 5 minutes. This won't stand for very long as I really think it could be dropped below an hour. Link below:

Following a fast effort, today I sought some elevation. I really didn't find it as my run encompassed more than 16 miles and a measly 1,300' of elevation gain. I ran from Wind Gap, PA to Fox Gap, PA on the Appalachian Trail. Short of one very hard climb in the first half mile the rest was pretty flat. My pace was super slow, but for good reason...see below!

"Wolf Rocks" offers a bypass since it is very slippery especially in the rainstorm today, however
I heard banjos and gunshots that sounded pretty close to the bypass loop so I opted for slipping and falling off of a mountain over being turned into a handsome rug or skin suit.

"It's runnable"....We have all said it, but if you like your ankles and teeth you may want to take it easy.


"Just 910 more miles to Katahdin"

Since this 16.7 miles offered about 1.5 miles of unobstructed running, I am satisfied with a 3:05 Gap to Gap to Gap run today.

Onward and Upward
In other news I will be back in New England where the mountains are taller in about three weeks. Happy Trails!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Beach Reached!...Well Kinda

First off, Happy Easter and best of luck to my friends who will get zero sleep tonight in anticipation of running from Hopkinton to Copley this Patriots Day. I have a few predictions, but I will leave them on Facebook so I don't look like a fool here (I think whatever I type on Facebook disappears eventually anyway right? Either way here is a throwback to my 2014 post on this matter:

I have a love hate relationship with road marathoning, and may be retired from this distance, at least on pavement. Breakneck was this weekend, and that's a 26.2 I can get after. Unfortunately Breakneck was sold out when I decided to register so this weekend was another of double long runs in the Garden State. Today (Sunday) while I was waiting for Ashley and the kids to get here I decided to knock out my short term goal of reaching the beach on my heatmap. It was hot so the 13 1/2 mile out and back was uninspired and barely sub 8 minute pace. I think the distance was far to not carry water, and my legs were tired from my mountain run yesterday. Below are the tracks, and I know Barnegat Bay isn't EXACTLY the "beach". LBI is next and I'll cross that BRIDGE when I get there...

Warm Easter Sunday trek to Barnegat Bay

Heat Map Had a different meaning today

High Mountain Preserve (Saturday)

I left the Appalachian Trail alone this weekend and decided to check out a closer park in Wayne, NJ. High Mountain Preserve has a nice ring to it, but it's really not that "high". Despite leaving a bit to be desried on the vertica front, the trails were technical, and maintaining a steady pace was a solid interval workout with a lot of up and down. Despite learning the trails as I went, map in one hand it felt pretty good. I'm not sure if it was the varying terrain or the two VERY light days I had midweek, but carrying speed was neither difficult nor painful. I was able to pick up three or four course records on some of the climbs too. Overall 11 1/2 technical miles with 1,400' of gain seemed pretty easy at a little over 9 minute pace. Details and photos below:

Tried to touch all of this park

NYC Skyline From High Mountain 

That's it for me, HOPPY Trails.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Elevation Synonymous With Toughness?

Today's long(ish) run was another section of the Appalachian Trail that I haven't touched yet. This added to a few of the of the many "lists" that I spoke about a few weeks ago. Today:

-Elongated my section run of the A.T.
-Added the NJ High Point
-Bolstered the Heat Map & added a couple of CR's

This workout had me thinking of a public conversation with my 2X Spartan Ultra Brother Todd Gothberg on Facebook. We talked about a blog post that discussed the "toughest" sections of the A.T. Naturally, I assume that the New Hampshire Presidential range or the Mahoosuc Notch area of Maine must be the hardest sections based on elevation, and more dramatic weather (Mount Washington today is 60+ MPH winds with a chill 20 degrees below zero according to MWOBS).  Does that make these sections the toughest? I can't speak on the matter short of an opinion because I probably have less than 200 A/T miles on my legs, but I do think New England is the toughest, because the terrain is also incredibly technical (again, from my own minimal experience). Today's run had me questioning what others thought on this topic. What do you think?

Current status of NJ/PA Appalachian Trail

Over the last year or so I have been taking advantage of my Fort Dix assignment, and driving out to the nearest mountain range, the Kittatinny Range. While the views and overall elevation change are negligible the terrain is extremely frustrating. Speaking as a trail runner, the constant rock garden of bowling ball sized jagged rock coupled with the spring time running water make this section underrated on toughness in my opinion. Carrying any sort of speed here is just plain reckless. I think that this area of the A.T shouldn't be taken lightly, and is a formidable warm up to the New York and New England sections.

Obligatory feet up picture atop NJ's Highest Point

The trails were pretty crowded today since it was such a nice day, so I opted to return to my truck on the "Iris" trail in High Point State Park rather than do a double "out and back". The Iris trail was much less technical and the overall vertical gain was insignificant. The return run was a welcome break from the ankle twisting A.T. 
Today's route including the gentle return loop on the Iris Trail

Reach The Beach (The Budget Edition)

In keeping with the tradition of creative ways to get me off the treadmill, I have been slowly completing short "out and back" runs in an attempt to link Long Beach Island to my heat map. Stay tuned for more on that, as I just got to Barnegat, NJ.

After several out and back trips I have almost "reached the beach"

 "OOH look snow!"

"Slop Foot" best describes the trails today, My X-Talons & Darn Tough Socks 
were in their element

Looking North towards the Shawangunks and Catskills from atop High Point, NJ  (1,804')