Blog moved

So, I’ve got a website now.  Yea yea.. how cute, i know.  Wait, you think too highly of yourself to have that.  Well.. maybe.

Howieruns.com

 

So go there. let me know what ya think!

Why not you?

Those were the words my urologist said to me last week after my last checkup.  I had surgery back in June, a successful one, but one that can require a 2nd surgery down the road.  So, when I went into the checkup, I was nervous.  I’m not ready for surgery again I told myself.  I have a 100 miler to run.  He came into the room with a big ole smile and told me that whatever I am doing, keep it up. He mentioned to me that the (scientific) literature says odds of success and not needing a 2nd surgery in these 6 months are 50/50, but in all his years, he’s never seen anyone not need it.  I said, “Well, someone’s got to be the success story, right?” and he replied, “Yep, why not you?” I laughed and told him I’ve always been told I’m a bit special (there are probably quite a few people with a smartass response right now 😉 ) so I might as well be the one to beat the odds.

This got me thinking, there’s always something we’ve all wanted to accomplish.  We watch as others finish that big race, get the promotion, move to the new city, marry someone special.  But, most of the time, we are too afraid to take that risk ourselves.  We sit back and wonder if we could do the same, but that fear holds us back.

Now I ask, why not you?  What’s holding you back from your goals?  I hate New Year’s Resolutions, I think they are a bit ridiculous.  But, if that’s what it takes to go out on a limb and turn your dreams into a reality, then so be it.

I jumped into one of the craziest things I could.  I’ve dreamt so long of running a 100 miler.  So, I hit the button, registered, and am putting my plan into action.  I might not know exactly where I am going, what exactly I need to do, and how this will turn out, but it’s time to live.  Time to dream a little bigger. I think fear is the biggest motivator.  We are all afraid, but when that whisper inside my head said no,  I laughed at it and said yes.  Yes, I will challenge myself, I will see what I am made of.

Fear can make or break you.  I’ve never grown more as a person than when I faced that fear head on.  I may fail, but I’ll fail smarter and I’ll fail better.  I’ll learn from it. Then I’ll repeat until I get the result I want.

I challenge anyone this year to ask themselves this year why they can’t be stronger, braver and take a chance they’d never would dream of.  The only way you’ll ever know is if you try.  Make this be the year.  Stop waiting for tomorrow, for when you are ready, or when the stars align.  You’ll never be ready.

I ask, Why not you?

One year on…Growing Pains

Wow, one year ago I started this little blog.   I had no clue where I was headed, but it’s been one heck of a year.  I have to admit, I didn’t see this year coming at all.

January- March 

I got back from Florida and hanging with Justin and Courtney feeling refreshed.  They were the best hosts.  Always inspired when I hang around positively motivated people.  I’ve watched Justin go from barely being able to swim in a straight line to finishing multiple triathlons.  Courtney kicked my butt New Years Day in the pool, so bad  that I had to take a break. She’s one great athlete.  Also met some of their good friends, including Austin, who I think may come and run an ultra with me this year.  Hope it all works out.

My buddy Mike came into town for the Shamrock Half Marathon and he asked me to come pace him.  It was an epic day, with maybe the worst race day conditions I have ever run.  40’s, 20-25 mph wind, and a complete sideways downpour.  But, those are the days you remember.  The days you and your friends push each other to be better, and you just miss helping a good friend to a PR.  Bummer we didn’t get it, but stoked i got to run with him and hang out after.  Can’t beat good time spent with good friends.

Heidi did an early season triathlon, the Smithfield Triathlon.  Conditions for this weren’t much better than Shamrock, but she kicked butt.  I also found out she had no idea how to shift correctly on her bike. We got that taken care of a bit later.  She’s so determined, I am blessed to be related to her.

April-Early May 

JP and I realized this 50 mile training needed to get going.  I started my back to back long runs here.  Nothing too crazy yet, but def was a good start.  Met up weekly with Renee, Stacin, Brad, Andrew, and Steve for awhile.  Those proved to be the perfect stepping stones for my training.

Then.. well.. I thought my days were numbered.  Blood, a long drive home from Noland thinking it was over for me, and a couple weeks not knowing what was wrong with me.  Being told it could be kidney stones(it wasnt), cancer (nope) and finding out what a Bulbous Stricture was and that I had it, until surgery fixed it.  6-7 weeks down for me.  Just as I was feeling perfect and flying.

June-August

Heidi completed her first Olympic distance triathlon, the Jamestown Triathlon.  I’ll never forget when she finished the bike and screaming “Howie, I did it!” to me.  She was so nervous about the bike.  The look of joy on her face when she crossed that line, I’ll never forget it. She worked her butt off to get there, met new friends at Fat Frogs to ride with that pushed her.

JP and I started to meet up with Ryan Carroll and his boys from his XC team up at Noland Trail for our long runs.  That place is one of my favorites to run, but man does it hold in the heat and humidity.  I did 15 there, felt amazing and as I attempted to go for 20, I nearly passed out.  I had the same thing happen to me at Seashore a week or two later.  Mile 15 or so, felt great, walked/jogged back to the car after.  Those weeks off caught up to me, along with the heat and humidity.  I knew I had to step up my game.  But how??

September-October

Ryan and I paced the 1:25 group at Rock n Roll Half thanks to Red Solo Cup pacing.  My buddy Roy Blakeburn is in charge of it, and well, anyone needed a race paced, he’s the man to contact.  He’s def the best there is. (sidenote, I also got to pace The Flying Pirate in April and Outer Banks Half in Novemeber)

Heidi did her 2nd Olympic Tri, the Patriots Olympic Triathlon. She improved tremendously on her last race, and again.. proud brother is an understatement.

12 hour race in Prince William Forest.. what the heck.. #beerschoolstrikesagain #speirpressure
This would prove to be the start of it all coming together.
I had been friends with Steve for awhile, we’ve shared lots of miles, but to run the first 32/33 miles of a race together was the best learning experience I’ve had.  If you are reading this and don’t know Steve, well.. go here or here. The guy is a legend.  I don’t say that lightly.  He is the best ultrarunner I know, most would agree. To be able to pick his brain for hours on end, well, you can’t read that in a book.  Oh, and just an FYI, if it sounds like I’m overrating him.. well the top two guys running this race already knew who he was, stalked him quite a bit even.  They knew his times for all his races, and more. Creepy, but yea, we runners do that.  They had the utmost respect for him.  I nearly passed out at 33, but rallied with JP to hit 39 officially, 41 overall for the day.

The next week, JP and him got us to do a local 10k and battle it out for the fastest brewery in the area.  We knew that Ryan had a stacked team, but we got a few great guys to come run with us as well.  Pretty sure we (Pinkelheimer) won it, but sadly, our two top guys, the ones that went 2-3 in the race got DQ’d for missing a turn.  Bummer.  My legs hated me this day, but I still went sub 38.  Not the fastest, but a week after 41.. I was beyond happy.

Steve, JP, and I went from strength to strength after this race.   We did the first official Porch 50k.  Started at Whole Foods with a big loop around VB.  What a fun day that turned out to be.  Even better for me, considering the days leading up I was sick.  But hey, I have a 50 miler coming up, can’t let a cold get me down.

The next weekend, Steve and I started our new Saturday Jordan Bridge (JB) repeats.  We only went 10 this weekend.  It was cold and rainy and a bit miserable.

The following week, well, I hit the biggest training week ever for me.  Steve and I got two new (for me) good friends to come run the JB with us in Chuck and Andrew. Chuck literally flies over this bridge like it’s an ant hill.  It’s half a mile up and down. Well, 20 miles here was insane, to say the least.  We followed it with, well, another Porch 50k. 51 miles on the weekend, truly the biggest confidence boost I could have.

I followed that up with another 20/20 weekend 2 weeks later, for my 2nd biggest week ever.  Steve couldn’t run it all with me, as he did Javelina Hundred.  Chuck, Andrew and I ran JB Saturday, and we got a nice (is that the right word??) tour of South Norfolk too.  Haha.

November – December

A few days later.. I thought disaster struck.  My foot/ankle/tendons were in pain.  I couldn’t walk, let alone run.  Not sure what happened, but another good friend and amazing PT, Jake from Direct Performance Physical Therapy got me fixed up.  I  was scared my JFK was over before it started.  Back at it, I got a few weeks of easy running to be safe, didn’t wanna hurt myself.

Then, JFK, if you haven’t read my report, head here. It was glorious.

A couple tough weeks followed.. then Seashore 50k.  Again, read here.

And now.. Rocky Racoon 100.  Holy Shit.  (sorry for that language, but it’s appropriate)
I’ve wanted a 100 miler for, well, forever. Ok, so 10 years or so isn’t forever, but still.  Steve made sure I wanted it and it was the right time, before letting me sign up.  Didn’t let me jump the gun.  It’s gonna be life changing, one way or the other.

I also want to apologize.  A couple days ago.. I posted something on facebook.  I let something get to me, that well, I shouldn’t have. I know he reads my blog, so let me stress that I am sorry.  I am better than that.  You are too.  We all are, everyone of us that commented negatively.  I never thought the amount of hate that was in that post would happen.  I should have known better.  So Dennis, I am sorry. Neither of us looked any better after that.  Lets all move on and be better people in 2017.  I’ve tried reconciling with a few people in the past couple weeks.  We may never be the friends we were, but at least we can be nice to each other again.  I’ve seen an old friend, Rob, start his own coaching business and run a hell of a marathon debut.   I know I messaged ya to tell ya, but again, congrats and good luck to you.  Glad we got to chat at the 50k the other day.

My goal in 2017 is to become the person I want to become.  It’ll be baby steps really cause you can’t make wholesale changes overnight.  I want to learn how far I can push myself. You really don’t know how far you can go until you try.  I want to be the best teacher I can for my students.  I want to be a better friend.  I want to learn to appreciate the things I have, and not care about what I don’t have, cause really, I’ve got all I need. I want to be the best brother and best son to my family.  I’m a work in progress, and I’m striving to be better.  That’s all we can do really.  Be the best version of ourselves, and always, always strive to be better.

 

Tales from the trails Seashore 50k

2016 has been one hell of a ride.   I started the year debating 5k’s and 10k’s because my body was not feeling it, but slow determination to get my miles up has resulted in one of my best years of running.

A couple weeks before JFK 50 Miler, Mike Wolfe and Steve Speirs were telling me I needed to get in Seashore this year.  I was going to wait until after JFK was over, but found out it was sold out.  Feeling kind of bummed, I sent an email to Stacin (race  director) to see if there was any chance any spots were going to open up.  Thankfully, he got back to me and let me know once a few of the drops came through, spots were going to open.  And, one morning before my long run, he sent me a message to register and I got in.  Then reality hit.  2 ultras in one month.  Ouch.  This was going to hurt.

My legs have not completely healed and recovered from JFK.  Ok ok.. so it wasn’t probably the 50 miler that got me, they were actually feeling pretty good after that.  5 days after a 50 miler I did a 10k.  And decided, like an idiot, that it would be an outstanding idea to go out with the lead pack.  I survived 2 miles with them, but my legs gave out after that and I hobbled it back in just under 40 min.   As I got passed by Tommy at mile 5, he commented on how it probably felt like mile 40 for me.  He was right.  I found out that I probably needed more time off than 4 days.  Oh well, lesson learned.  I didn’t die.  right?

So training had also sort of been disappointing since JFK, since I couldn’t get too many long runs in, I felt flat.  My hammies and glutes were so sore that I didn’t know if they were gonna let me run.  Note to self, don’t wait 2-3 weeks after a big race to get PT or a massage.  Once I got a massage, dry needling, and then another massage, I felt like a new person.  Not 100%.. heck probably closer to 70-75%, but that’s good enough to get me through this race. Thanks to Direct Performance Physical Therapy for getting me back.

I had been talking with Steve pre-race and we worked out a plan for the race.  Mike reminded me as well to not go out like a bat outta hell.  I am bad at that, I have that Steve Prefontaine attitude (Sadly none of his ability) of going out hard, pushing the pace,  and holding on.  I know what I am capable of and if everything went well I know how fast I can run.  But realistically, I am learning to race smarter.  It’s taking effort but it’ll get me further than my silly plan of killing myself. My goal for the first lap, stay behind Steve, hopefully with Mike, and enjoy myself.

After getting out there in the morning, still undecided about my nutrition, I went with my Ultimate Direction vest.  I have a love/hate relationship with it.  I love that I don’t have to hold anything, but it weighs me down.  I also went with 600 calories of Tailwind in my bottle, with the intention of drinking a bit before water stops and chugging water with it.  Remember that saying of never trying anything new on race day?  Yea, I don’t listen well.  Never tried this before, but it’s only 31 miles, what could go wrong, haha. I also brought with me 2 Honey Stinger Waffles, with sunflower seed butter on one.  It’s brought me good luck on longer races/training, and I have never had issues, so i’m sticking with it.  I went with my now favorite Injinji Compression Socks, and  Squirrel’s Nut Butter for anti-chafe.

The first few miles flew by. Lots of playful banter, just enjoying the company.  Our lead pack split ahead pretty quick, with Steve, Mike, Ryan Paavola, Patrick Clark, and I cruising along.  Patrick took the lead early one, we all sat back and did our thing.  Chatting with him, found out he was an 5-6x Ironman, but had never run a stand alone marathon, let alone a 50k before.  Def a tough guy, he admitted he went out quick, and at this point I knew he wouldn’t be up there with us for too long.  Ryan was another story. He stuck with us for all those first miles.  We had already researched him a bit,  Steve and I were kind of sure he was the guy that ran JFK in 6:40.  So he was legit.  Now, we just needed a way to get that outta him. He stuck by us those first miles, right on our shoulder, we felt pressured he wanted us to pick up the pace, but that wasn’t going to happen. Not with Mike and Steve with me.  They are the epitome of pacing.  They don’t break stride unless they want to. Which, at mile 7, Mike did to get a great picture 🙂 He’s a trip.  I miss running with him,  there is never a dull moment.  He keeps it light and lively, one of my favorite training partners.   So, when Ryan finally made his move, we let him go.   I was feeling great at this point, honestly it felt like a typical long Sunday run.  We got back onto King Fisher and he had used the restroom, so we caught up to him.  After a bit of talking, we found out for sure it was him.  So, we knew there could be a battle to beat him at the end.  As we were getting ready to get back onto the main trail, I took my one and only tumble.  Impressed really, usually I am good for 3-4 more.

When we got back to 64th street, we caught up with all our friends hanging out at the aid station.  I realized right here, I was in a bit of trouble.  I had maybe 200 calories in me, which would be ok if was a training run, or a half marathon.  But my new nutrition plan was failing.  It was cold, so I kept forgetting to drink a lot.  Hmm..

I love this part of the race, getting through the narrows, the turn around and seeing everyone as you come back.  It gives ya a good sense of where everyone is and a huge morale boost to see your friends racing.  We noticed Mike Leech looking strong, Chuck Inman as well.  Steve and I commented that Mike could come back, although his lack of long runs lately might hinder him a bit.  Chuck is a great runner too, 2:56 I believe, at Chicago, so he could be a force to reckon with later.

We were getting back to 64th street when my hammies started hurting, a pain shooting straight down from my glutes.  I figured I could run it off, and mostly did.  But it did concern me a bit.  I think, looking back, I was dehydrated and low on calories.  I drink a lot usually, but was not doing well today.  As Steve was looking back waiting for me, I told him to go.  I knew today wasn’t my day, but I was going to hang on.  I knew he had it in him to win it, and he could catch Ryan.  I had no chance.  So, i made an excuse to get some extra water, and watched him take off.   He reminded me to remember our 20 mile Jordan Bridge runs, followed by a 50k the next day.  Remember how I pushed on there.  It helped.  I did refill my bottle, and drink some water too.  This was one of my problems on the day.  Too long at the aid stations.  I marvel at how fast some people get in and out.  I am slow.

The next few miles were surprisingly quick pace wise.  The reality set in I was going alone, and I was being hunted down.  At mile 21  I got dizzy.  I stopped.  I grabbed  my Honey Stinger waffle with sunflower seed butter at ate it.  Easy quick 300+ calories.  It would take a few miles, but I knew it would make me better.  So I trotted on.  I went from 730’s and under to 810 and up.  I didn’t give up here.  Nope.  I got a bit comfortable. I looked back early, never saw anyone, so I pressed on, but I knew I was holding back.  I got back onto Osmanthus, and Mike Wolfe caught me.  We hung for most of the loop, but he gave me a good speech on how it was my day to shine.  I totally thought he was gonna pass me, but he was having a tough day too.  I needed that, more than he knew.  As I pulled away, I slowly fell back into a slow and steady pace.  Still, no one was around me.  I got too comfy, and had a feeling it would bite me in the butt in the end.  But, I thought, I can hold Wolfe off.  He’s hurting, so, I should be good.

I made the final turn back on to the main trail, finally realizing I could run hard again. When I made it to 64th, i looked back and saw someone, but mistakenly thought it was Wolfe.  I stopped (mistake) grabbed some Mountain Dew and water.  I headed on to the narrows and gave it everything I could.  I made it 1/2 mile down, right before the bridge before I noticed him.  I caught a glimpse of a bright yellow shirt.  Shit. Michael Leech.  He’s a friend, and a fast guy.  He’s training for a marathon, and I know he’s killing speedwork right now.  If this was a 50 miler, I would be good.  But, there was a mile to go.  I sprinted, you can do anything for a mile.  I’ve heard.   He was gaining fast.  I knew his plan.  I’ve done it to many people.  you don’t pass them gradually. you shoot by them, making them think it’s over.  Like they can’t catch you.  In his words, demoralize them.  Had I been doing speedwork of any kind, I liked my chances against him.  Any other year, I knew I could take him.  I have focused on so much endurance lately, that my turnover wasn’t as good as normal.  I’ve lost a step, but gained endurance.  So, when he shot by me, I followed.  He did’t get that far by me on the first shot.  Maybe 15 feet.  I saw him look back.  He wasn’t exactly prepared to see me follow there, but he gave it another go.  Took one more burst.  I tried to follow.  I really did.  It wasn’t there.  My hip flexors were screaming, glutes were giving up.  I gave it all I could, but he had me.  I lost my podium spot in the last 1/2 mile.  Nothing against him, he earned it.  But, It was mine to lose.  I didn’t do enough.  I’ve gotten over it a bit.  It hurts some.  But it makes me hungry for me. I can deal with it better knowing I lost it to a friend, but payback’s a coming 😉

Honestly, the best part of the day was hearing my friend and training partner Steve finally won Seashore.  He’s one hell of a runner.  I don’t know how he does it.  I’m trying to get there, but, not quite in that class, yet.  Pretty cool that 4 of the top 5 were friends.  Gotta say it was a damn good day.

Steve 1st
Mike Leech 3rd
Me 4th
Mike Wolfe 5th

I am loving the ultra life right now.  After a bit of downtime, there’s a lil race in Texas I think I may do.  Hopefully.. we can make that happen.

JFK 50 Recap

Epic.

That’s the word I’d use to describe JFK 50.  Epic in length (for me at least) and  a profound moment in my (albeit brief) ultrarunning life.

Big thank you first goes out to all the volunteers in the race.  I’ve never seen such support in a race in my life.  They were willing to do anything for you, open bottles, mix Tailwind, help take off and put my vest back on.  They kept it lively, the moral support they gave kept spirits up, even when you were feeling low.

JP and I arrived up in Maryland the day before the race, got settled in and made it over to packet pickup.  We got to the hotel and were greeted by this

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A pretty cool welcoming for us, but also signaling it was getting real.  We went out for quick dinner, got our stuff ready for the next day, checked in with Mike to see what time to meet up, and headed to sleep.

430 am comes quick on race morning.  Not really wanting to get up as nerves about the distance crept in.  I knew I was as ready as I ever was, and I had my plan laid out in my head.  Hadn’t really told too many people what my A goal was, just that I wanted sub 8 and to finish.. even if that was my ultimate goal.

We packed up our stuff, headed out, met with Mike and his family and made it over the Boonsboro High School gym.   My lack of pictures here is lame.. I wish i took more, but such was the nature of my day.  I just wanted to soak this day up and live in the moment, not caring about anything else.   The pre-race briefing took place, was cool to see Wardian, Walmsley, Koerner, etc in the gym.  Not too many times you get to see elites that close. At this point, i realized my laziness of not getting my soft flask replaced was going to cost me, as I had to take it out as it was leaking too bad.  Went with one soft, one hard flask.  Ugh, I hate the hard bottles.

We had about a half mile or so walk to the start.. we heard the announcer saying about a min to gun goes off, so we decided to pick up the pace and jog over.  We didn’t wanna get stuck behind anyone in the race that early.

Miles 1-2.5

We got into a good lil rhythm here, felt like old times as Mike and I were singing and being stupid like the good ole days of HRR.  Just saying stupid stuff and making people laugh.  We had a few people just shaking their heads at us, like WTF are they talking about.  But it was worth it.  The first 2.5 miles were all road, uphill mostly to get to the start of the AT.  I knew I could count on Mike and JP to keep me conservative here, so I stayed with them, even got yelled at to slow down a few times.  It’s a long race, going out too fast in a 5k is one thing, 50 miles.. well.

2.5-5.5

We got on the trail a bit here, still some roads, but this was the “don’t be an idiot” section of the course.  Over the first 5.5 miles, you gain over 1100 feet of elevation.. I sure as heck felt like it was all in this one spot.  Sheesh.  We walked the uphills here, again, be smart was the mantra for the day.  I hate that I have short legs.. i took like 4 steps to everyone that Mike and JP took.  Being tall has it’s benefits apparently.

5.5-9.5

Once we were basically at the top, it was hilly, but mostly runnable.  We all started this section together, still joking around, laughing… I started feeling good, and knew I could make a bit of a move here, so I went with it.  Honestly, I had no clue how fast I went, still thought they were with me, but I looked back and they were gone.  Shit.. guess it’s gonna be a long lonely race without them.  thankfully there were a lot of people running, I can easily talk to anyone while running, usually.  Somewhere around mile 7, i took my first fall.  Nothing too crazy, but, it would be the start of an annoying habit on this section.  It was pretty rocky and rooty, but def runnable.  Just had to be smart, which I clearly wasn’t doing.  I had 200 calories in me at this point.  1.5 hours in, could be a problem later I thought….

9.5-16.5

Nice little aid station at here, filled up, decided to put tailwind in both bottles.  My original goal was to have one water, one Tailwind, which has worked for me on all my longest runs so far.  But, since I saw i was going to struggle filling it this early, I put it in both.

And.. here’s where I realized you don’t need two hands to run.  50127586943__9522f0d1-2484-4e8e-a405-2c81e5cf764b

Not sure if you can tell how swollen it is.. but I feel hard.  I knew shooting down the trails on the rocks was a bit insane, but it’s a race, so I went for it.  This was after the race, when it happened, it was bleeding pretty bad and swelled up almost immediately.  I wasn’t gonna stop, but man did it hurt.  I couldn’t really use my thumb the rest of the day.. which is why I said in the beginning and even more so now, the volunteers were amazing.  Now you can see why I needed help opening bottles.  Anyway.. I pressed on.  Maybe a half mile later..I fell again.  Then as I cautiously went up a rocky section, I fell again.  Sheesh.  I started slowing down, but still fell, so I said screw it, and picked the pace back up.    As we got off the AT and onto a little path, i saw a guy fall for no real reason at all and wondered what happened.. and boom, I fell again.  For the last time.

I got to the next aid station, poured a bit of my bigger bottle on my head to cool off.. but crap, it was Tailwind…. Ugh.  There goes more calories. I chugged the rest of the Tailwind I had, and refilled and I ate part of a Honey Stinger waffle I had that I put sunflower seed butter on, to try to get calories in me.  But, 2.5 hours in and only 300 calories.  Not terribly smart.  And putting 300+ in at one time maybe not smart either, but oh well.  had to be done to save me from a bonk later.

16.5-31

C&O Trail Part 1

I started running here, and was going out too fast, so I spotted the next guy I could, and started chatting with him.  Figured that would slow me down.  Can’t remember his name, but he said he wanted to run 730-740 here, I knew that would be a good, conservative pace for me.  He had run it 6 times, and supposedly had a 6:40 PR on the course. Everyone told me and everything I read said to not go out too quickly here, as you would feel amazing being on a wide open trail. It was a small, but noticeable incline here, but super runnable.  We ran together for a couple miles, but he couldn’t maintain the pace, and fell off.  I started picking off people left and right here.  I looked at my watch only a couple times, but it was pretty consistent in the 715-740 range.  I wasn’t hurting at all in my legs, pretty sure my hand pain kept my mind off those.   I started getting better with my nutrition as well.  It got lonely here pretty quick, as I ran most of this by myself. I would latch on to anyone I passed for a second to talk, but, honestly you could see they were hurting.  I did get passed by one guy at this point, he flew by me.. some guy with a bowl haircut.  Figured I’d see him later, he had to be running low 6’s.  I started doing a small walk every 15 min or so, just a min maybe, to break up the monotony and to keep my sanity. Around mile 29.5, I caught up with a guy doing his first 50 as well, we chatted for a bit and ran together mostly til 31. At mile 30, we saw the first of a couple fake aid stations.  I say fake because they were there cheering on someone they knew, but they had a table set up, food on it, but only for their guy.  I was excited here, because I needed some water as I had dumped a bunch on my head.  The temps started in the 40’s and climbed to 68.   Finally, around 31, we hit the next aid station.

31-38

I also realized here I was getting into some trouble.  My legs felt great, but low calories and mentally I was checking out.  I ate the rest of my Honey Stinger Waffle with sunflower seed butter and drank some coke, hoping that would wake me up.   The guy I was running with took off, as did a girl.  I stayed here way too long, but, I need a minute to get my head straight. Once I noticed I was there too long, i started walking to not waste anymore time.  At mile 33 I saw the coolest thing I’d see all day.  A small deer ran across the trail, no more than 5-6 feet in front of me.  It reminded me of how lucky I was to be running here, and that I am damn lucky not to be this guy.

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/sport/video/2016/nov/17/deer-hits-cross-country-runner-video

I contined on, caught the 2 people that passed me and wished them luck.  I kept an easy run going for awhile here, that is until I noticed that I couldn’t make it to mile 35.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t keep running..  it was because I had fixed my arm sleeve, and accidently stopped my watch.  Shit.  I looked down at my watch a few times here, wondering what the hell I had to do to get to 35 miles, when I noticed it stopped.  haha, oh well.  I started back up and proceeded on.  Around this time, when I started struggling a bit, I heard a noise overhead, and noticed a little squirrel on a branch directly over me, not far at all.  I took this as a sign, as one of my buddies Andrew I’ve run with joked about me being a flying squirrel one super windy day on the Jordan Bridge and getting blown over the side.  Hey, signs are everywhere if you look hard enough.  I picked my pace back up, made it to the next aid station.  I also knew at this point, 7 hours, maybe 7:05 was possible.  Just maintain an 8 min pace.  Hell, that’s walking to me.

38-42

My plan at this point all day was to drop my Ultimate Direction vest off with my friend Jessika. I knew she’d be here for Mike, so when I saw her, it was a welcome sight.  The moment that came off, I felt like I 15181432_10211455506609821_5351896887264601120_nlost 20 lbs.  So, i handed it to her, grabbed my water bottle, filled it with Tailwind (my last baggie of it :/) and headed off.

The last section of the C&O flew by.  I caught 5-6 more runners here, and joked all we had left was less than a half marathon.  I said hell, we’ve already run 3 of em, it’s nothing.  They weren’t too happy.  I guess if there was one thing I noticed out there, so of the runners were pretty damn grumpy.  I mean, did they realize how amazing it was to be apart of something bigger than them?  To be out there in nature?  To physically be able to run.  I guess they were suffering, and deal with it differently, but dang, laughing and joking around bring me up, gotta do something to mentally push on.  And so i did.  Oh, and I passed Mr. Bowl haircut.  I knew he’d be back.  ha! Small victories.  Right as we  got to the end of the C&O, I saw a bathroom, not like there weren’t a million trees, but I for some reason here waited til there was a port-a-john.  Slowly my maintain 8 min pace was slipping too.. 7:05-7:10 maybe.

42-50 On the road again

I just can’t wait to get on the road again.

I  was caught by two guys flying here.  I was in disbelief how they could look so fresh.. Until they slowed to talk to me for a second.  They were crewing for someone and had run it last year.  They told me how impressed they were for it being the longest I’d ever run and to keep up the pace.  Ha.. the hill coming out on to the first part of the road ended that..
I saw the first sign of finishing here.  8 miles left sign on the side of the road.  Ok, gather yourself and regroup Howie is what I told myself.  Looking off in the distance, you could see the storm system they predicted coming in.  Reminded myself over and over I had to beat it.  Rain, sleet expected, temp drop of 20 degrees and big winds.  Well, at least I beat the rain/sleet.  The winds here were killer.  Mile 7 and 6 to go came and went, but the wind just kept getting stronger.  I was now walking all uphills.  Mentally I was beat.  Legs weren’t terrible, hand hurt like hell, but the wind, brutal.  A few big gusts of wind came, blowing leafs and other things in my face, so I turned my hat around, and poof, it was gone.  Shit.  I watched it blow down the street, but i had no desire to get it.  At least at this point, everyone I passed could laugh at the mohawk! 🙂 I pressed on.

The next aid station came, chugged a bunch of coke and a sip of gatorade.  I was bonking bad, the coke and gatorade gave me one last bit of push.  But the wind.. it was relentless.  I played a game in my head with one guy here.  He kept jogging, no matter what.  As we passed 5-6 more people, he never stopped jogging a slow pace.  I would walk uphills, run down hills and flats.  I would shoot by him, then he came by me on the uphills. We did this for the next 3 miles.  Finally, 48.7 aid station came, and a hard left and straight downhill.  I shot by him and 3 more people.  Passed a guy I read about, David Goggins, a navy seal and total all around badass at mile 49.  He gave me a quick fist pump, and told me to go get it.  To hear that from him, I picked up the pace.  We made one last right turn, and the wind was at our back.  The cop told me 600m to go.. and I just gave it everything I had.  Seeing the finish line, I started smiling, grinning so big.  I started tearing up, I had done it.  50 miles.  I saw my friends cheering me in at the finish and when I hit the line, I just had the most overwhelming amount of gratitude and sense of accomplishment come over me.

7 hours 29 minutes.

I immediately called my biggest supported, my sister, and told her I was done.  🙂

Now the waiting game was on.  I was told I had put a bit of time on my friends, so i got into a sweatshirt and cheered people on.  I wanted to be there for Mike and JP as they finished up.  About 30 min later, Mike came in.  The wind was picking up a ton as he finished, and then it started raining.  I felt for the runners on the course.  The rain got kind of bad, I was shivering too much, so I went inside.  We knew JP was about 25-30 min behind Mike, so when it was time, Jessika and I ran (ok, hobbled) back out there to see him finish.

I am so proud to have been able to see both of my friends finish and what they accomplished.

The overwhelming amount of cheers and congrats from my friends after was amazing and I got emotional.. Then I got to one I knew was coming. it was from one Mr. Steve Speirs.. ready for 100?  haha.  Yes. I think I am.  When, I don’t know, probably sooner than later.  But, for now, I am basking in my accomplishment.

15134820_10211447197522099_7886108916598701818_n

In case anyone wanted to know.

My goal for this race.

A Goal – 7-7:05
B goal – sub 730 (mission accomplished)

I made a prediction, before the race to myself.  I figured I was gonna run a 7:24.  I didn’t miss by much.  I am beyond happy,

Big shout out to:

Jake at Direct Performance Physical Therapy.
About 2 weeks ago, I twisted my ankle and between that all the tightness in my calf causing my tendons to get overstressed in my ankle, I honestly thought I wasn’t going to run this.  I couldn’t walk without pain, let alone run.  He got me in, fixed the best he could in the short time we had.  Anyone checking on my Strava could see the last 2-3 weeks were low mileage, well, it wasn’t planned that low.  I wanted to taper, but not that much.

Tailwind was my nutrition of choice, it’s simply the best there is my opinion.

Squirrel’s Nut Butter  for being simply the best anti-chafing cream ever.  I had zero issues.  None.  Amazed.

Injinji Toe Socks rock.  No problems at all with my feet.

Honey Stinger Waffles.  Yum. 🙂

This squirrel is ready for takeoff 

With JFK 50 Miler being a few days out, a few things go through my mind. 

It’s my birthday gift to myself. Ok, so maybe some people think it’s crazy. But I wanna learn what I’m made of. 

I’ve come to accept that to be great, you’ve got to take risks. Step out side your comfort zone. I’ve preached to my students that you can literally achieve anything you dream of. 

Well, time to start putting that into action. I want to prove to them by challenging yourself, you learn who you are. You can become who you want to be. I’ve wanted to come back to where my heart and my passion lies. 

 UltraRunning

I may have cheated on her with cycling, swimming, crossfit, even  5ks, 10ks, and half marathons. The marathon is a bitch to me, we’ve officially broken up for awhile. But ultra marathons, she’s my heart right now. . Nothing else comes close to the feeling of running for hours. The pure speed of a 5k is exhilarating , but I loathe the pain. 

I love to run long. 

So, this Saturday I get to do that. And if everything goes right, I get to say I’m an ultramarthoner, a 50 mile finisher. The best part of it all, I get to do it with 2 of my great friends. JP Caudill and Mike Wolfe will join me out there. How can you not be excited when you get to hang out with good friends for hours. 

I won’t count my chickens before they hatch. But I’m determined. Stubborn. Hardheaded even. I’ve want this badly. 

It’s taken me almost 10 years to get back here. To feel confident enough to risk going for 50 miles. I’m ready. 

Time for this little squirrel to fly. 

Direct Performance Physical Therapy

This blog post is for my buddy Jake McCrowell.  Without him, I probably wouldn’t be running.

I remember when he was at Hilltop Physical Therapy and talked to me about how he was starting his own company.  I did my best to help him get in with a couple local groups.  I am always happy to give back and help him and all the guys at Direct Performance Physical Therapy anyway I can for everything they’ve done for me.

Injuries.

They suck, sometimes they feel like they are part of the process.  Seems like every runner I know has been hurt at some point.  Doesn’t matter if you are a 2:20 marathoner or a 45 min 5k’er.  I always find that when I get hurt, I seem to come back stronger.  I guess I have a little secret weapon that has slowly been getting out to some, he’s helped quite a few runners come back and stay injury free.

Let me start at the beginning.

5 years ago I was out for a run.  I heard of people getting injured, but I was lucky, never happened to me.. until it did.  You know how when they tear down all the houses on a street to rezone it, to make the street wider, but all the driveways are still there at first.   I was running somewhere new, didn’t even realize there were driveways on the sidewalk.  I guess I was jamming out to my music, lost in my thoughts, when I missed one of the driveways and landed wrong.  Instant pain.  I knew something was wrong. I ran on it anyway… and kept trying for a few days.  My doctor at the time, Sam Wittenberg, recommended I get it looked at by a PT.  He sent me to Hilltop Physical Therapy.   It was here I met my buddy Jake McCrowell.

He noticed right away that I was a typical worn down, beat up runner.  He laughed at my lack of fast twitch muscles.  At the time, I was maybe 125 lbs.. soaking wet.  I could run all day, but make me do an air squat, or a lunge, i would be sore for days .. wow.   I was weak.  But most runners are, right?  We run, we break down our muscles, those that aren’t necessary to propel us forward get weaker.  We fall out of balance.  Our glutes get weaker, our quads get stronger.. basically anything in the front gets stronger to help us run, while our posterior chain gets weaker.  If I lived in the mountains, my glutes would be stronger, but VB is well… flat.  While treating my injury, he also helped these imbalances.   I wasn’t weak he said,  I just wasn’t strong where I needed to be to keep up the 70-80 mile weeks.  It’s no wonder I wasn’t already in pain.  After several weeks of therapy, I was set off back to the world to run again.

About a year later.. I got lazy.. again.  Sure, 75-80 miles weeks persisted.  Heck, I qualified for Boston again, and was running so well.  I had just joined up with HRR, and had like-minded people pushing me to be my best.  But I stopped doing the exercises he gave me.  My hips locked up, my glutes and hamstrings hated me.  It was the start of a long and difficult journey for me.  The people I was running with recommended several other people to me to help.  I went to a chiropractor, an ART guy, a massage therapist, someone who specialized in trigger point massage.  I had Graston, ultrasound, stem, trigger point massage.   You name it, someone tried it on me.  Nothing seemed to work.  I wasted months trying to get healthy.  I went to my doctor again, head down, wishing I would have come to him first.  I asked to go back to Jake, again.

He laughed when I showed up, as did I.  He initially followed the diagnosis from my doc, the way it presented itself was a hamstring/glute strain.  Within a session or two, he noticed it wasn’t that.  He came to the conclusion it started with my hip flexors and psoas.  He also gave me another big word, tensor fasciae latae, or TFL, that needed work.  But, within no time at all, he had me back.   He prescribed me some new exercises, made me lift heavier weights.  Farmer carries, deadlifts, lunges with heavier weights.. these all became my new norm.  I hated them back them.  Who has time to lift weights and run.  I did them, maybe too much, I wanted to be healthier quicker.  Yea yea, I know, not smart.  But whatever.

I went from not running for 6-7 months, to a 50k in 2 months..  I was in 2nd place for the first 18 or so.. til my glutes/hips said no again.  I should have DNF’d, but I’m too hardheaded for that.

Nobody said I was smart….. I might have been too aggressive in my comeback?

Not long after this, Jake started doing dry needling.  He got me healthy before, but sometimes it couldn’t get deep enough. Sometimes the knot wouldn’t release itself from  massage alone or with any other modality he tried.

Dry needling is my panacea.  It’s saved me so many times from my stupidity.    Good thing I don’t mind needles.

Dry needling is a technique where a “dry” needle, that is one with no medication, is inserted into a trigger point or fascia in order to release it.  It helps alleviate pain, speeds recovery, and helps restoration of healthy physiology.    It is sort of like acupuncture, but it targets more specific symptoms.  He also can attach a stem machine to it and pulse electrical stimulation through it.  I love when he does this.  My legs have been known to do all kinds of funky moves when he hits the right spot.  Some people ask me does it hurt, I’d tell ya no.  I don’t think so at all.  But, I am good with pain and needles.  I will say that you will be sore the next day. The first couple times I got it, it felt like I did a heavy weight session the day before.  But once it loosened up, I could run pain free, squat deeper,  just had a greater range of motion.  My legs felt like they did when I first started running, before all the miles and small injuries set in.

On top of all this, he has continued to work with me, continued to give me exercises to help strengthen and fix all my imbalances.  He continued to push cross training and heavier weights with me.  Heck, after Marine Corps, we talked for over an hour about everything that happened, where the pain started on the course, how did I sleep, how was the car ride, my hydration status, etc.. He was more thorough than most people would have been with me.  We looked for every possible cause. We were just talking a couple weeks ago after I did my 41 mile run.  I had ZERO issues with my glutes or hip flexors.  They were sore for sure, as they should be, but they didn’t lock up, they didn’t give out like they did last year in Marine Corps.  All the work I’ve done, all the exercises he’s prescribed are working.   I ran a pretty decent 10k the next weekend, then ran a 50k week after with a couple good friends and again, no pain.  I can feel some soreness, my hip flexor and TFL are tight, but I can work through them.  It’s not bad at all.

I can say for sure that he, Stephen, and Brian are amazing PT’s.   They have helped countless runners and triathletes in the area.  I’ve seen them work with the everyday person recovering from an injury.  It doesn’t matter who you are, they can help ya.  I am glad I found them.  Definitely the best in the area to me.  I highly recommend not only Jake, but all 3 guys if you are battling an injury.

Check them out.