Sunday, November 29, 2009


One of the reasons I love my line of work...

"I wanted to let you know I am very thankful for BTWG. I am blessed to be a part of this group and to change my health for the better. Thank you for everything you do and have taught us."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why Every Second Counts

"Every Second Counts" -

Since I started CrossFitting last winter this phrase has been a reoccurring mantra for me. It' a common theme in CrossFit and the title of the documentary from the 2008 CrossFit games. I practice "every second counts" in my daily training/life in a couple ways 1) make each second of my workout count by giving it my full attention, care, focus and effort and 2) in timed WOD's (Workout of the Day) I make an effort to be as efficient as possible in each movement, to waste no time, and to complete the assigned tasks as quickly as possible. While I have learned how this phrase applies to daily life in various ways, it wasn't until Saturday that I realized it could also relate to running an ultramarathon.

With a couple days between me and my failed attempt at running my first 50 mile ultra, I've had some time to process the experience and I plan to share what I have learned as I feel the lessons apply to far more than just running a race.

This being my first 50 mile race, I laid out a race strategy based on my goal which was to finish the race in approximately 11.5 hours; the JFK 50 has a cutoff time of 12 hours and I wanted a little wiggle room. Based on my previous races, I felt anything under 11 hours was a little unreasonable for my first 50. A 12 hour finish equates to a 14:24 per mile pace, not lightening fast compared to the winners who finish in 6 hours or less (a 7:12 pace or less for over 50 miles!). My plan was to average around 15:00/mile through the Appalachian Trail (AT) section (15.5 miles), then 13:00/mile for the tow path portion (26 miles) and then 14:00-14:30 for the last 8.5 miles of rolling pavement to the finish.
Just before the 6:20am pre-race briefing. The vibe was calm and relaxed.

While I had planned for the AT to be difficult (thus the 15:00/mile predicted pace), it was a little tougher than I thought. Two of the climbs, while on paved roads, were longer and more steep than I envisioned; everyone in the main field hiked them, only the elites ran them. I've never climbed so high that my ears popped on the ascent and decent, yet it happened on Saturday. Not exactly the Rockies, but these were certainly mountains.

Much of the AT was littered with limestone of varying shapes and sizes; some slabs you could step on with caution, yet much was asymmetrical chunks inviting an ankle to twist with a few sharp bits peppered in between. Pointed stones protruded just enough to trip you or punch the sole of your foot with an occasional jab or a haymaker if you weren't paying attention. Throw in the fallen leaves and it made for some interesting running and hiking. I enjoy this sort of running, yet I was exercising caution as more than one runner had their day end early with a twisted ankle. One of the more runnable sections of the AT.

Mistake of the Day #1: Failure to bring my watch. Of all my gear that I packed the only thing I left in Dover was my watch. As a result I did a piss-poor job of tracking my pace and really knowing where I was and how long it was taking me to get there. I did have my phone in my CamelBak but didn't want to carry it in my hand while running. This lead to...

Mistake of the Day #2: Trusting others for splits, time checks and pace - refer to "Mistake of the Day #1". I would occasionally ask other runners or aid station attendants for the time, but, again, I did a piss-poor job of calculating my minute per mile pace or knowing where I was in relation to my time goals.

At the mile 4 and 9.5 aid stations I actually thought I was ahead of pace. Yet, when I arrived at the 15.5 mile station I was able to discern that I was actually behind pace with an average of a very sucky 16:00/mile average. This meant that I would have to make up time on the tow path yet I was confident I could make it happen. Plus, I knew that I had factored in 1/2 hour of wiggle room; not where I wanted to be, yet I was still in the game.

By pushing the pace a little on the tow path, I was finding it a little difficult to fuel and hydrate as much as I would have liked, yet I was getting down enough to keep pushing forward. At the 25 mile aid station I determined that I was almost back on par for a sub 12 hour finish. This awareness inspired me to settle into a sustainable pace and I planned to recalculate at the mile 30 and and 34.4 aid stations.

Coming into the mile 30 aid station, though feeling some of the effects of running/hiking 30 miles, overall I felt pretty good. The mental stress of getting back on pace, trying to do the math, and feeling like I was running on borrowed time really sucked, but otherwise I was okay and even a little motivated since I had passed some folks on the tow path. As a side note, I never spent more than 60 seconds at any one aid station, so after the mile 30 station I quickly hit the path with my sites set on the next aid station at mile 34.4.

Mistake of the Day #3: Not knowing the cutoff times at all aid stations.

A couple miles out of the aid station a bike patrol volunteer road up behind me and said something to the effect of "you have about 15 minutes to cover the next 2 miles".

"WTF are you talking about?!?!" is what came to my tired mind, but I think I said something along the lines of "Come again?"

He told me it was nearing 2:45pm and there was a 3:00pm cutoff for reaching the 34.4 mark. Talk about a kick in the nuts! At the JFK if you blow off the course officials you are banned from future JFK's so I knew there was no negotiating the issue and my day was done. I was mentally and physically crushed after that, the weight of the last 30+ miles hit me. All the months of anticipation and preparation had come to an abrupt halt. Within minutes I was hit with a wave of emotion and physical pain. I walked the last couple of miles to the aid station and this gave me time to process my feelings. In that last mile I pretty much went through the whole grieving process - denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

A view of the C&O Canal tow path. After finishing 15.5 miles of AT and climbing, racers spend the next 26 miles running the tow path. The gentleman in the yellow jacket was my "Grim Reaper" as he is the one who informed me that my goose was cooked...

While I have several lessons that I learned on Saturday, "Every Second Counts" is first on the list. With a clear mind, earlier today, I reviewed a couple of splits that I could recall along with the time that my race came to an end. At the point I was pulled from the race I had an average pace of 14:24/mile, exactly where I needed to be to finish in 12 hours and I was cutting off more time as the race wore on. However, and this is where "Mistake of the Day #3" comes in, to avoid the cutoff at mile 34.4, you needed to have averaged 14:00/mile. I had been 24 seconds per mile slower than needed to avoid the cutoff. With just over 15 miles left in the race, a scant 24 seconds per mile kept me from seeing what was further up the trail. To have finished in under 12 hours I would have needed to average the same 14:24/mile for the last 15.6 miles. Could I have sustained the effort and finished all 50 miles? I'll never know. Could I have gone 24 seconds per mile faster in the previous 34.4 miles? F#*K YES!

So what I feel I can take from this experience is that every second truly does count! You never know the difference a few seconds might make in your life, whether it's the difference between finishing a race or not, or the difference between winning a race or not. It can mean the difference of taking a second to gaze deeper into your child's eyes, or not. It can be the difference of being in the moment with a loved one to connect, or not. It can also mean the difference between digging and pushing so deep that you touch your soul or not. On Saturday I just don't think I went that deep and I believe those 24 seconds/mile is what separated me from that experience. And that, my friend, is why I will be at the start line of another 50 miler in the near future.

Thanks for reading, I know it was long winded.

Thanks also for those who supported me in one way or another and to those who contributed to the Wounded Warrior Project, we are nearing the $1200 mark!

Coming soon:
  • Why I hate tech-y crap like GPS watches and why I'm ordering one as soon as I get home
  • How I feel my training and preparation worked or didn't work for this race
  • My "pros" and "cons" of the JFK 50 Miler and would I consider doing it again
  • Project: BTWG updates - our recruits are in the final stretch of their 12 week program!
  • And much more...

Friday, November 20, 2009

JFK 50 Media

The local press is covering the JFK 50 with a series of articles leading up to tomorrow's race. You can read up by going to and clicking the articles listed next to "Media Coverage Herald-Mail". One thing I didn't realize is that two of the biggest names in Ultrarunning will be toeing the line at this years race - Scott Jurek and Hal Koerner, names that are unknown outside the world of ultrarunning. Jurek is kind of like the Lance Armstrong of the "Western States 100", which is probably the toughest ultra out there, having won it a record 7 times. He's also an ambassador for the sport and a vegetarian : )

Koerner has won Western States the last 2 years and is certainly making a name for himself in the ultrarunning community.

Think these guys race for the cash? Nope. The first place finisher gets a whopping $600 which doesn't even cover their cost for travel, lodging, food, and entry fees. Do they have lucrative sponsorship contracts? Uh, when compared to mainstream sports it's not even close, not even in the same ball park. Most people would crap if they heard some of the stories of these guys "roughing it" just to save a few bucks for their sponsors budget; certainly not pampered prima donna athlete's you find in the NBA and NFL. A handful of ultrarunners scrap together a living but it comes from racing, speaking engagements, personal appearances, some sponsor money, and some offer coaching and training camps.

Packing up and heading towards Hagerstown in just a couple hours. Race packet pickup this afternoon, check into hotel, eat and rest - that's the plan of the day.

More when I can...


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gear List Correction

I mentioned that if I had a drop bag or crew for the JFK 50 that I would wear my New Balance "870's" for the trail section. That should be my NB "840's"! Doesn't sound like a big difference, but it's huge for those who are amateur shoe geeks like myself.
This is the New Balance 840: A "women's specific walking shoe" - then again, maybe that describes my ultrarunning style more than I care to admit : )

The NB 840: A fairly "minimalist" trail racing shoe for "extreme trail runners". Would be great for the Appalachian Trail section with it's hills, single track and rocks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

JFK 50 Gear List

Here is most of the gear I will be using/taking with me at Saturday's race:

Shoes: Mizuno Wave Ronin 2. I've had these shoes a couple months and love 'em. While they are a road racing flat, they do offer enough traction for what I'll be facing at the JFK; only about 13-14 miles of the race is actual trail, the rest is crushed limestone on the tow path (26 miles) and the rest is road. If this race offered a drop bag opportunity, I would have worn my New Balance 870's for the trail and switched to the Mizuno's for the tow path and road. With no drop bag and no crew I had to chose the best all around shoe for me and this is it. These shoes are very light, around 8 oz. and offer only minimal cushioning/support which is just want I'm wanting.

Over my shoes I will be wearing a pair of "Dirty Girl Gaiters" ( I have a tendency to get all sorts of crap in my shoes (rocks, sand, wood chips, rodents, you name it) and I've found these gaiters to be the best thing on the planet for keeping stuff out. Dirty Girl Gaiters are super light weight and super simple. I don't have an image of the one's I'm wearing; Dylan, my oldest son surprised me and bought me a new pair of "Urban Camo", which is way cool because I've been wanting them for a while and he didn't even know it. Thanks, Dylan, I'll be thinking of you every time I look at my feet.

For socks, I'm double layering to help reduce the risk of blisters and just going with two pair of thin Under Armour socks on each foot. I will also coat my feet, heavily, with "Body Glide" which helps cut down on blisters.

This will be my first race using "compression apparel", in this case I'm using "Skins" brand compression "Half Tights" and "Sox". The training runs I have done in the Skins garments have already made me a believer! I find that they reduce the onset of fatigue and seem to help in overall performance. I don't know that I would recommend them for "everyday" or regular training runs, but I highly recommend them for high intensity sessions and long runs. I'll let you know what I think of them in terms of ultras after Saturday's race. Here is the link to the "Skins" web site:

I'm wearing my trusting $15 running shorts that I bought at Target about 2 years ago. These things have served me well and I'm sticking with them for this race. I liked them so much I bought 3 pair and just rotate through them for running, CrossFitting, racing or whatever.

Unless there is a change in the weather, from the current forecast, I'll be wearing a long sleeved wicking top with a short sleeved top over it. I'm thinking this will provide the moisture control I need, provide some warmth, yet won't be too hot. We start before sunrise and there is a strong chance that I will still be out there after sunset so it's a little tricky knowing how to dress for the changes in temps. Again, if they offered drop bag service or if I had a crew I would change at different points in the day.

I'll start the day with a pair of light gloves and, if it's cold enough, I will wear a skull cap hat, otherwise I will wear a my baseball style running hat.

Since I'm at the mercy of the foods and fuel provided at the aid station, I've decided to bring my Camelbak. I'm bringing it mainly to carry extra foods and supplies I might want or need throughout the day and will only put minimal fluids in the Camelbak's bladder. The idea is to keep the weight to a minimum and I can refill at various aid stations rather than lugging around 100 oz. of water all day. Anyone who has done an ultra or endurance event can tell you that at certain points having a little treat that you have packed along can really lift your spirits and put a little more pep in your step... at least for a little while. In my pack I plan to bring a couple turkey sandwiches, a couple bars that work for me, blister pads and small amount of tape, and any other small items or gear I think I might need. I prefer to keep things as light as possible and not carry anything unnecessary, however you also need to plan for what you might face without much support.

Well, that about does it for my gear list and what I'll be packing along with me. Of course there are many things I won't be physically carrying with me, yet they will be in my mind and in my heart - I'm sure you know what those things will be and these are the things that will really carry me to the finish line.

I'll post more when I have a chance and post on Twitter when I can.

Be Well,

Twitter Updates/Training Updates

I'm going to post stuff on Twitter as opportunities arise. While you can view them here, you can also view them via My page is Thanks for the interest.

Saturday: Took a day of recovery and a day to see how my body is doing in terms of being rested and healed up. Feel like I'm on track to be ready for next Saturday. Only some minor calf stuff that is still lingering. Otherwise, feeling good.

Sunday: Ran the 5 mile loop at Eagle Creek with some BTWG gals and followed that up with an hour hike with some of the gals from my "Biggest (Healthiest) Loser" team. Okay, guys, where are you? Ran into Project Grad Joe who was out doing his last long training run before his upcoming race - the Tecumseh Trail Marathon. I've been coaching Joe for this race and know he is gonna do great.

No training yesterday, to speak of. Did a short run and a few lower intensity intervals when we arrived in DE. Took our dog, Diesel with me, we both needed the movement and stretching afterwards.

Gonna CrossFit later this afternoon as well as a short interval session. Will run a little tomorrow as well as some yoga. Thursday and Friday will be determined based on how I feel and where I'm at in my recovery...

Be Well,

Friday, November 13, 2009

For Those Interested

After hearing back from several of you there appears to be enough interest in my training and preparation for my upcoming race, so I thought I'd share a little more as I enter my last week before the JFK 50.

Over the past several months I've exclusively trained using the CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance methodologies. For the most part I followed the CrossFit main site WOD's (Workout Of the Day) 4-6 times per week and the CrossFit Endurance WOD's 3 times per week. On occasion, I created my own WOD's, i.e. programmed my own training, however I didn't start doing that until the past month or so. Otherwise, it's been all CF and CFE.

I just finished the last heavy lifting session that I will do before next Saturday's race. This was to hit the neuro-endochrine system with a nice punch one last time. Here is the WOD I did, which is a variation of a CFE Strength and Conditioning WOD:
  • Snatch X 5, 5, 3, 3, 2, 1, 1, 1 - resting 180 seconds between sets. I increased the load with each set working towards max, though I went shy of my max as to not tax my body too much this close to my race. My last 3 sets were at 135. Not familiar with the "Snatch"? Here is a YouTube video:

  • Recover 2:00
  • Squat Clean 1X5 @ 135lbs
Here is a YouTube video of the Squat Clean:

Okay, that was a really lousy Squat Clean, but the best short clip I could find on short notice. You get the idea...

The meat of the WOD was the Snatch and I threw the Squat Cleans in as more of a mental punch than anything else, plus I knew it would be a nice finishing touch.

If time allows, I thought I'd share the rest of my training and taper as well as my gear list that I intend to use at the JFK.

So, thanks for the interest and encouragement to blog about my training and race. Also, a huge "thanks" to those who generously donated to the Wounded Warrior Project via my donation page! You guys never cease to amaze me. I'll be thinking of you as I run next Saturday.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day to all my fellow Veteran's out there! Though, I always feel silly saying "Happy Veteran's Day", as it doesn't seem fitting because it sounds too much like "Happy Birthday", or "Happy New Year". Either way, I find it important to recognize our active servicemen and women throughout the year and to honor Veteran's on this special day.

I am fortunate to live next door to two Vietnam veterans - Joe, across the street, served in the Navy and Dave, next door, served in the Army, my father-in-law was in the 82nd Airborne Division back in the 50's and on Veteran's Day, I always make it a point to thank theses guys for serving. If you know a Vet, thank them!

If I may indulge myself a little...
A week from this Saturday (Nov. 21st) I will be participating in the JFK 50, the nations oldest and biggest 50 ultramarathon. Historically, the JFK is a very "military" oriented race as it was started by President Kennedy as a challenge to military officers - to complete 50 miles in under 24 hours (I think the time was actually 20 hours). Several races were held all across the country, however the JFK 50 is the only one that remains. As enlisted men and women learned of the challenge, they wanted in on the action (I mean, come on, who wouldn't, right?!?!). Over the years the race was opened to civilians and now hosts a field of over 1,000 runners, many of whom toe the line year after year and make it to the ranks of the 1000 mile club and beyond! Though the race welcomes military and civilians alike, they do offer a two week window to accept registrations from all active duty, retired, and former military as well as police, which is how yours truly squeaked in; the event quickly sells out and can be tough to get a spot.

For this race, I am again running in honor of the Wounded Warrior Project, a not-for-profit organization that supports the servicemen and servicewomen who are returning from overseas deployments with injuries. Whether it be a gunshot wound, an amputation or burn, or traumatic stress syndrome, the WWP seeks to ensure that those who have been wounded get the treatment they need and deserve as well as provide advocacy services should any of our Hero's run into road blocks during their healing. You can learn more about WWP by going to their web site,, or you can go to my web site, and click the link "WWP" where I have information posted as well as a WWP video.

I have a long term goal of raising $10,000 for the WWP and over the past months many of you have already helped me reach the $1000 mark! I am forever grateful. If you would like to support me in reaching the $10,000 goal all you have to do is click on the WWP logo on the right side of this blog and it will take you to my donation page. Your contributions are tax deductible, yet more importantly you should know that your hard earned dollars will truly be put to good use to help someone in need.

How can you be sure your donation will help?
If you have read this blog over the past few months you read about BTWG Graduate Jan Edwards and that her son Aaron was shot while serving in Iraq. I recently had an email exchange with Jan where she updated me on Aaron's status. He is currently at Camp Pendelton continuing his recovery and is on the mend, though it will be a long road physically and emotionally. Aaron will continue to serve as a U.S. Marine, even with a bullet still lodged in his chest, though he will not be eligible for combat duty which is probably just fine with Jan : ) Here is a little of what Jan shared with me:


Thanks for checking on Aaron, I do appreciate you asking. He is doing great, they have decided to leave the bullet, they say it will become part of his body...

... The Semper FI staff and the Wounded Warriors have been very supportive during all of this. We actually met and heard from someone from both organizations.

Again , Thanks.


Thanks for reading and I'll have more soon...

Be Well,

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Coming Clean...

Can't believe it's been so long since I last posted on the BTWG blog! In many ways, I just haven't had that much to share and in other ways I've had to prioritize my time and the blog took a bit of a back seat. Also, I felt it a little self serving to post about what's happening on my end and the training for my upcoming Ultramarathon - like I said, just not much to say as of late. I appreciate your continued support and visits to the blog.
This past summer I had an intention of having a laid back Fall, no BTWG, get caught up on some writing for the Project manual, redo the YouTube videos, spend time relaxing, teaching, coaching, quality time with with family and time training for my race. So, what happened to that intention? I currently have the biggest client/student load I've ever had (right at 50!), we are about half way through the "Fall '09" Project, and I'm cultivating a CrossFit-based coaching program out of my home. Whew! And that is really just the tip of the iceberg. So much for a laid-back restful autumn...
The current group of Project Recruits are doing fantastic - after nearly 6 weeks of training, several have lost upwards of 15 pounds and are experiencing transformation in their health, fitness, and well-being. This group has picked things up so quick that it has actually caused me to feel guilty on occasion - come on guys, can't you add a little more drama? Oh wait, didn't I just send out a "Project: Tip of the Day" about that?
A couple things you may not know about:
RCI - "Biggest (Healthiest) Loser" with ProMotion Fitness -
In addition to the current round of BTWG, I'm coaching a group of folks at "RCI", an Indy-based company, through a 12 week program called the "Biggest (Healthiest) Loser", which is modeled after the show on NBC. The program is lead by Wendy Cooper and John Singleton (friends, Cityoga students, and long time supporters of just about every crazy thing I've done in the last 10 years), of ProMotion Training Systems; I've worked part-time and taught classes with ProMotion for the past 10 years. Your's truly is the coach of "Team Yellow" which happens to be the group of folks with the most weight to lose. It's been a great learning experience and real challenge as well. I have a great team and have seen amazing changes, weight loss, and more importantly - self realization and empowerment! Check out their blog
CrossFit in Brownsburg -
Since completing my CrossFit certification last month I've launched a small "underground" program that I am running out of my garage. Initially, I invited a few folks that are my clients, those who live on the West side, and those I thought might be interested in giving it a 5 week trial run. Well, we are now nearing the end of our SECOND 5 week run and things are really booming. We now have 13 members and all are raring to go for another series. In addition I have had to add more classes to the schedule and it looks like I may have to add another soon.
I've kept this on the down-low for several reasons and I'm sharing it at this point to see if any of you who read this blog might be interested in joining us. If so, shoot me an email and we can discuss the program, how it works, when the classes are held and the associated fees. To learn more, check out the blog I started:
Okay, I feel like my conscious is now clean and I'm no longer hiding anything from you : )
More soon...