Letting GO of Control - One Week to Umstead 100

Saturday, March 29, 2014

This time next week, I will hopefully be somewhere in my third 12.5 mile lap around Umstead State Park.  At this point, logging a long run would be foolish and trying to squeeze in a few last nervous runs seems pointless.  I simply intend to get in a few easy runs this week and then rest and relax.  The hard work has been done and I have to trust in that.  That's the problem though.  Trusting in myself and my training.  I suppose that I have an issue letting go of control and being okay with what is happening in the moment.  Next Saturday, I will have to adapt and recenter myself numerous times to tackle the moment, something I've been mentally preparing over the past few weeks.  WHO AM I KIDDING?  I'VE BEEN MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY PREPARING FOR THE LAST 4 MONTHS!  I'M GOING TO CRUSH IT!  Stopping is not an option.  Pain? BRING IT ON!

I've been back and forth for weeks about whether or not to have a pacer or ask a group of the Ultra VT gang come down and crew me.  I've been worried about the pressure of having others invested in my run and the "what if" factor.  What if?  WHO GIVES A CRAP ABOUT WHAT IF?  Ultimately, Jordy Chang is coming down sometime Saturday after he crushes the Mountain Lake Hell climb.  I'm privileged to have such a great friend.  Rudy, has also volunteered to come down and help me through  my first hundo.  Super pumped!  He also sent me the below quote, which I really like!
"I have found that if I can keep present, acknowledge my feelings and move forward from that point I can work through just about anything." -- Krissy Moehl 
I've also been reading through motivational phrases and generating a list of things to say to myself when things get "dark" next Saturday.
  • Fake it till you make it.  
  • Make it happen.
  • More run, sooner done.
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  • You can have results or you can have your excuses.  You cannot have both.
  • This too shall pass.
  • Slow progress is better than no progress.
  • Ask yourself: 'Can I give more?' The answer is usually YES. - Paul Tergat
On Sunday, I stumbled upon a #UltraChat on Twitter that was addressing this exact question.  Below are some of my favorites!


  • What's you go to power phrase?
  • How do you dig out of "dark" places in a race or ultra?
  • How do you handle letting go of control?


2014 Terrapin Mountain Race Report

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The verdict is still out.  To run or race an ultra?  That is the question.  For me, I have very little experience with the latter, having only "raced" my first ultra at Holiday Lake, but running Terrapin Mountain this past weekend was SO much fun that I have trouble believing turning myself inside out for 4+ hours of misery "racing" could beat it.  That being said, it took every ounce of self control I had to not race or at least run hard this weekend.

When I signed up for Terrapin Mountain, I knew that it would be my last long run before Umstead 100 two short-weeks later.  I was also very aware that I would not be running hard but instead would be out for an extended effort getting time on my feet in the gorgeous hills of Virginia.

Friday began with the "semi-simultaneous" publishing of a synchroblog with Ultra VT.  The posts were awesome and I think it helped everyone get super excited about the weekend ahead.  If there was a buzz word that stood out reading all of the posts, it was INSPIRING!  However, I decided to do a little experiment and copy and paste every post (twice) to create a Wordle and confirm:

Sure enough, Inspiring appeared although not as large as I expected.  During the car ride to Holiday Lake, Jordan Chang and I were discussing how awesome it is to have a group of friends that can just jump into a marathon or ultra for a fun weekend adventure.  I digress.  

After dropping Gillie off at Michelle's parents (Thanks again Marvin and Cindy!), I headed north toward the Sedalia Center in Big Island, VA, which served as the race start/finish and location for camping/packet pickup.  The drive is super easy, something I'll miss living in Richmond come this fall, and gorgeous to boot!  I arrived a little before 7PM and quickly spotted the Ultra VT crew who were "tailgating" the race.  

The caravan left Blacksburg around 4PM and by the time I had arrived in Big Island the group was in full team bonding mode. Somehow...the idea of a sleeping bag race came about.  What ensued could only happen when you put 10+ ultra runners together who can't run and have an excess amount of energy. Most of the other campers...who...erm...were less boisterous than our group found the event amusing and can even be seen taking photos of the event unfolding in the video below (0:59 in the right of the frame).  Yes,  I documented the entire thing and put together the four clips to make a little video, Ultra VT Shenanigans:

eVenTually all of the excitement died down and I began preparing the Outback for bed.  About half of the team camped under the stars but my 50+ deg. summer bag would've made for a cold night.  Holiday Lake was the first time I camped in the Outback and I managed to figure out a pretty good system for a decent nights sleep.  The rest of the evening was spent stargazing and identifying constellations.  Seriously.  It was pretty awesome!  I busted out the Sky Guide app that uses the accelerometer in the iPhone to determine which way the phone is being held and then shows the constellations/planets in view.  I felt I upheld my teacherly duties for the evening.  The constellations identified included: Gemini (with Jupiter!), Orion, and Ursa Major.  I headed off for bed around nine and quickly dozed off after an exhausting week of student teaching and training.

I awoke early on Saturday (after several snoozes of the alarm), emerging from my warm car around 5:30.  There was coffee available at the pavilion, which I indulged in and then quickly headed off to find the restroom to take care of business for the day.  Around 6:50, we decided it was time to head toward the start and ditched all of our warm clothes in the cars.  I debated for a good five minutes as to whether I felt like carrying a camera for the entirety of the run.  In retrospect, I suppose I could've given it to Kristen or one of the other Ultra VT folks who were not running but were cheering at aid stations if I decided it was too cumbersome.  I somewhat regret not having a camera to document all the fun that was had but without a vest the heavy camera would've been a nuisance.  

Keely, Trevor, Nelson, and I on the descent down
from Camping Gap (mile 5.5ish).
Photo courtesy of Kristen Chang
The race begins on a road and then quickly begins to climb to the first aid station (mile 4) Camping Gap, which we would see twice more before the days end.  I found Hannah and Keely, two talented freshman ladies who have awesome ultra running futures ahead of them, on the climb up to Camping Gap and spent most of the climb with them chatting it up.  We would run the first 13ish miles together before separating climbing back up to Camping Gap for the second time.  On the climb up, I was talking about teaching and another runner who I would spend a good part of the day with joined in.  Trevor, just earlier in the week was offered a position to teach at Virginia Tech in the education department.  Small world!  Awesome to welcome another Hokie to the Virginia Tech family and continue to grow the awesomeness that is Ultra VT!  We were also joined by Nelson (right in neon) who now resides in Greensboro and was a FSU Seminole, I told him we wouldn't hold it against him as long as he didn't start tomahawking!

Upon arriving at Camping Gap, I grabbed a few orange slices, gave my number to the volunteer, and began the sustained 5 mile descent down the other side of the mountain.  The miles were quick here (9:00, 8:12, 8:45, 7:53, and 8:05) but I thought running slower would've been more detrimental to my legs than letting gravity take me down the mountain.  About halfway down the mountain we hit the second aid station (which also serves as the fourth) and continued on after grabbing a few chips.  At the bottom, we hit the third aid station that marks the start of the second sustained climb on the course.  The climb begins on road before jumping onto single track and going up and over a little peak before dropping back onto the second aid station we had just run past.  This meant that we were then going to go back up the long sustained climb we had come down earlier to Camping Gap.  Confused?  I drew you an awesome map to clarify!  Red arrows are outbound and blue are inbound.

Good? Good.  Until this point, I had been running with Keely and Hannah but they felt like hiking and I wanted to make it up to Camping Gap so I continued on (slowly) but still jogging with a soft J. On the way up the hill, I met Kathie Colling who was having a tough go of it and was ready to quit.  I stopped and chatted about everything and anything other than running.  I was super pumped to see her come across the finish-line later in the day despite being getting physically sick multiple times in the race.  #Grit.  Further up the climb I met Shannon Howell, who was running her first ultra and was taking a photo of the gorgeous view across the valley.  She rocked her first ultra!

I came into Camping Gap aid station happy and smiling and high-rived Rachel Corrigan who had just run the half-marathon and Mike Jones who was cheering everyone on.  Horton came over and yelled at me telling me that it was a race to which I replied "I'm running Umstead in two weeks" and he said "oh.  Okay." but in true Horton fashion then added "but why would you run that race?" I grabbed some food and headed out onto toward the WOR (White Oak Rim) loop section of the course, miles 17-22, that overlaps with a portion of the Promise Land course.  Its during this section that we hit the peak elevation of 3720' feet!  Along the long climb up to the peak (just below the Blue Ridge Parkway) I ran with Shannon some more and also met Bob Clouston who knew Guy Love.  I took it pretty easy on the way up but let myself have a little fun on the way down and caught up with Trevor and Nelson from earlier in the day.  We chatted about Umstead and they both gave their input on running a 100 (much appreciated!).  We ran together back into Camping Gap aid station for the third and final time of the day and I made the stop a quick in-and-out grabbing food, thanking volunteers, and heading UP the trail toward the summit of Terrapin Mountain and Terrapin Rocks.  Clark, the RD (race director), likes to have runners use a punch to mark their bib showing they were at certain points on the course, perhaps an homage to orienteering roots.  Their were two punches on Saturday, although one was broken before even the first 50k runner arrived, darn half-marathoners!  

Terrapin Rocks - Photo courtesy of Clark Zealand
Fat Mans Misery - Photo courtesy of Clark Zealand
I caught up with the runner ahead of me on the way up to the summit of Terrapin Mountain, who offered to let me through, to which I quickly responded "you look so familiar" and then quickly placed him as Kevin Townsend, the race director of Iron Mountain ultra, which we ran back in August.  Kevin and I chatted and ran together for the next four miles and I heard all about his recent trip to Hawaii (sounds awesome!) and also picked his brain for advice on finishing a 100.  The half-marathoners really destroyed the course below Terrapin Rocks, the outcropping of rocks near the summit of Terrapin Mountain that has an outline in the shape of a turtle - hence the name of the mountain, which made the descent a little dicey.  After Terrapin Rocks, and finding a broken and useless punch at Fat Mans Misery, we descended off the mountain down toward the final AS of the day.  The last aid station is at the bottom of an out-and-back descent, which means after the aid station there is a little half mile climb or so before turning onto one final section of trail.

Red Arrows toward AS 6.  Blue are after visiting AS 6 out-and-back.
Right about the time I got to Terrapin Rocks, the temperature began to become noticeably warmer and although I wasn't pushing hard being active out in the heat takes a noticeable toll, compounded by the relentless and steep descent off Terrapin Mountain.  When I came into AS6, nothing looked appetizing but I grabbed an Oreo, some chips, filled my bottle with half-water-half-Gu/Clif?, and took my first cup of Coke.  It continues to amaze me what Coke will do.  I let Kevin run up the trail and enjoyed taking my time eating my food as I walked back up the hill to make the final turn onto the trail that would take us back to the start.  I reasoned that I had held back all day and that a few miles of fun wouldn't hurt me.  I started jogging with the only objective to catch and beat the Naval Academy runners ahead of me.  After passing them, I opened it up and just had fun cruising the downhill into the finish.  Turning back onto the road after seeing the 1-mile left sign I could see four or five runners strung out in front of me and decided I would put down a solid mile to see how the legs felt.  I passed four or five runners in this short section.  So much fun!  I rounded the turn toward the finish to cheers from Ultra VT who had staked out prime spectating location.  The best part was feeling good and knowing I had A LOT MORE in the tank.  "Used but not used up" as the Umstead 100 runners packet puts it.

Photos courtesy of Kristen Chang

The race was a total blast and I had a ton of fun.  It's awesome to reflect back on the number of awesome runners I met during the run and the camaraderie that surrounds the Horton/Eco-X events and larger ultra running community in general.  After crossing the finish line and receiving my finisher shirt, I grabbed some awesome BBQ that was brought in on-site, (wish I had grabbed a picture), and cheered on the rest of the Ultra VT crew as well as the other runners I had met out on the course (Kevin Townsend, Bob, Nelson, Trevor - our new VT professor, Kathie, and Shannon).  Of course, the vuvuzela was in full force and we made a tunnel for the later Ultra VT runners that finished.  I snagged this photo on Kristen's phone that I thought appropriately captured the atmosphere:

Daniel (bottom left) WON the half-marathon in a time of 1:55:02!  Also of note is that the Hokies had 4 in the top ten: Rudy 2nd, Darren 3rd, Jordan 5th, and Guy 7th.  One interesting thing about the result is that the top 5 finishers were all 25 or under.  Look out old guys!

Photo courtesy of Kristen Chang
George Wortley uploaded a 10 minute video with a bunch of snippets of Ultra VT runners and a neat opportunity to check out the course including Camping Gap aid station.

Finally, as always, the Strava run details are below for those curious to check out splits and stats like elevation.

As my first Eco-X race, Terrapin Mountain set the bar pretty high in regards to course and fun factor. Will I be back next year? Definitely!  Will I be racing or running?  The verdict is still out on that one!


synchroblog: UltraVT

Friday, March 21, 2014

I've had the privilege of running with an amazing group of runners, now friends too, over the past year. In fact, my first run with Ultra VT was almost exactly a year ago and, to say the least, it was a total disaster.  I've grown a lot as a runner in the past year and attribute a good bit of my growth to finding this amazing group of inspiring individuals.  So it seems fitting that almost a year into running with this amazing group that we embark on a new journey together, a synchroblog.  That I know of, there are eight of us who are participating in this fun little adventure.  So here it goes!  And make sure you check out the other bloggers to see their take on the questions/topic/discussion (Rudy, Guy, Mike Jones, Kristen, Rachel, Dylan, Alexandra, and Jonathan)

How do you describe to a stranger ultraVT?

Dear Overzealous College Student,

We all know dodging those annoying people on the drill field is exhausting.  And bake sales.  UGH.  IF I HAVE TO SEE ANOTHER BAKE SALE!  WHAT IS THIS? THIRD GRADE?  Class?  Who goes to class?  Social life in the pits?  College isn't living up to the party-21-And-Over-image you thought you saw on the back of the Virginia Tech brochure? Feel like you have plenty of energy and no where to expend it because the ultimate team is too serious?  Come join Ultra VT!  We're a group of students runners who run occasionally go to class and travel to fun races all over!

Never run further than a 5k? Perfect.  You thought McAfee's Knob and Tinker Cliffs were fun hikes? HA. HA. HA.  We'll help you discover the beauty of the New River Valley and show you amazing scenery that doesn't involve McAfee's or the Cascades.

Ultra VT - More Miles, More Fun

PS - No Crossfitters

When did you get involved with ultraVT?

I kind of addressed this earlier.  But if we're being exact.  The exchange went like this:

How do you see yourself within ultraVT?

I feel I brought the "it's okay to #HaveFun and not race ultras attitude with me.  I suppose Rudy put it well one day on a run that because I'm slightly older...and engaged...and a graduate student...that running isn't the only thing I do but rather it's just one of the things I do.  I try to ensure the atmosphere is jovial.

Conversely, I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to perform to MY expectations and consequently that pressure sometimes shows through in not the most positive light.

What's your favorite aspect of ultraVT?

The fact that can't isn't in the vocabulary.  We're runners.  So perseverance is engrained in our DNA. Being around a group that is ALWAYS building you up and believes in you more than you believe in yourself is inspiring.  I'm sure I would've eventually signed up for a 100 mile run but the group makes you feel that your capable, and then supports you to get there.

What's your favorite trail run in the Blacksburg vicinity?

This is a super tough question for me.  Although technically not a "trail" the New River Trail is super gorgeous but if we say specifically running on a trail than pretty much anything with water is awesome.  Forest Ridge Preserve is a great unknown place to run trails in the area but more popular trails I really enjoy running are Poverty Creek in Pandapas and the Cascades.

Any secrets you'd like to share?

Have Fun.  I recently listened to a podcast of a first time ultra runner who put it pretty well, I'm paraphrasing but the general take away was that if we (as ultra runners collectively) are out there putting in hours of running every week that we better be having fun doing it, otherwise why are we doing it in the first place?

So basically, don't take yourself too seriously and embody the spirit of trail/ultrarunning by having fun and talking to other runners out there.

Favorite post-race meal?

Favorite-any-meal:  Burrito.  I want to open a restaurant where every meal is served in a burrito.  Think about it!  BOOM!  Michelle and I on a weekly basis discuss (more like Michelle has to endure me ranting and raving) about the practicality of an industrial tortilla steamer for our home.  It has yet to happen.  One can always hope.

and the question of my choice...

What runner, elite or average joe, inspires you the most?

I've mentioned this before in my recap of TNF Endurance Challenge Championship race report post, but Mike Wardian is a pretty kick-ass elite who has a job, a family, and serial races at a very high level and he's 39 to boot!  Check out these podcasts if you haven't had the chance to listen to them.  Oh...and here's an awesome picture I got with him in San Francisco!


T-Minus 3 Weeks to Umstead 100 and Training Weeks 3/3/2014-3/16/2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

Saturday marked the three week countdown to Umstead 100.  As the race approaches I'm beginning to question my preparation and training, especially after last weeks lackluster performance.  Consequently, I missed my training "week-in-review" post last week.  Perhaps this is because there wasn't really all that much good to talk about.  Instead the post would have been filled with how I failed to accomplish most of my goals for the week including an attempt at an all night run.  I was pretty disappointed with my effort and volume and barely broke into the 40's; I tried to salvage the week with a late run Sunday evening.  Disaster.  However, this week was better (still not great) and I decided I'd make the post a twofer, covering both the high and lows of training over the past couple weeks.

I think it's super interesting to reflect on how my perspective has changed over the past few months, a nod to the mindset that everything is relative.  Being disappointed with 47 miles for the week is kind of funny when you think about it.  When I first started running again back in the fall of 2011, Strava had just rolled out there running platform and with it a contest to run 100 miles in a month.  At the time, I thought "Wow.  100 miles is a lot for a month."  Now, just over halfway through March, I've run 525 miles in 2014, quantitative proof of my growth as a runner.  Reflecting on how I have grown as a runner over the past three years helps me with "being okay" when I don't hit my goals for the week.  A perspective I tweeted about before I went out for my night run last Sunday: (Yes, I realize I spelled beings instead of begins)

Here's how it all unfolded:


Monday: Rest
On Monday evening, Rudy gave me a call to see if I was planning on going out for a long run with him on Saturday.  I had missed the Monday night group run after Michelle and I decided to order a pizza in and spend the evening on the couch (PS - Papa John's Cheeseburger pizza...OMG!).  I'm not quite sure why I needed the break (teaching is exhausting) considering I didn't run that much over the weekend. The event we discussed is semi-underground and apparently the unspoken first rule is not to talk about it.  I emailed and Facebook messaged the organizer with zero response and opted not to participate as a result.  I didn't want to feel unwelcome at an event and show up saying "I'm here to run."  In the end, I'm glad I didn't although the weather was B-E-A-utiful!

Tuesday: 9, 725' 1:20

The title of the run says it all.  I think as I get more involved with student teaching and I'm spread more thin, I've shifted to the mindset of just get out there and get it done.  I stayed after for track practice with the middle schoolers and while I dress I don't work out with them and tell them I run after their practice. This is nice because, although kind of silly, they serve as another form of accountability as they often ask me how my training for my 100 miler is going.  I did happen to run into my friend Julie who is training for a half in April and tacked on a few more miles as we caught up and talked about student teaching.  After my run, Michelle and I ran some much needed errands and grabbed dinner at Sakura, a Japanese Steakhouse in Christiansburg that is actually reasonably priced...like every entree is $5-9 priced.  It was delicious!

Wednesday: Rest
Keeping with the theme for the week.  Disaster.  I didn't get out for a run and I really don't have an reason why other than I didn't make the effort to.

Thursday: 11.7, 675' 1.5hr
I've always heard that if you miss a run or a workout that you shouldn't try to make it up and instead should simply "let it go."  I struggle with this.  I think Thursdays run was my attempt at trying to make up for not getting out for a run Wednesday.  I don't recall feeling good during the run but my comments section on Strava, which I try to use as a log of how I felt for the run/effort, etc. had the following:
Sometimes you have good days and today things felt pretty good.  I really enjoyed the cold weather during the run!

Friday: 6, 60' 1hr
On Friday, Montgomery County Schools were closed, which gave me the perfect opportunity to catch up on things I had been putting off like getting a haircut.  BIG NEWS! On Friday, I verbally accepted an offer to teach in Henrico County next year, which I'm SUPER EXCITED ABOUT!  After accepting my offer, I signed my contract and put in a plastic bag and delivered it to the post office during my run.  It was during the run that I conjured up the idea of running a 50 miler around the Drillfield.  I went out and did some course "recon." which involved running a lap to get the exact distance I would do many many times Saturday night.  After the run, I grabbed Moe's to celebrate accepting my job and was joined by Mr. Mike Jones who just happened to be grabbing lunch at the same time!

Saturday: 15, 2.5hr

I used Saturday morning to be productive around the house doing some laundry and cleaning up the apartment a little.  I had everything planned out for Saturday evening and even created a Facebook event for the run, aptly naming it the inaugural Drillfield Dusk-to-Dawn 50!  Michelle being the awesome fiancĂ© she is even picked up snacks for me including pretzels, vanilla wafers, and some Coke for the late night hours.  I took a nap around 5 and woke up around 7 to eat dinner and start packing stuff for the run.  The temperature was pretty nice and with Friday marking the beginning of spring break for Virginia Tech, I wasn't too worried about traffic on the Drillfield.  I started running a little after 9 with the intention of running through most the night or until I hit 50 miles.  The first hour or so went pretty smooth and I even had a few visitors!  My friend Julie and her fiancĂ© Joe and his parents, Deb and Bill Casola (Deb of Debruns who's blog is awesome!), who are big runners stopped by to take a few shots of night photos of Burruss and say hello!  I finished up the audiobook Into Thin Air while running and began another, A Walk in the Woods a story about a mans through hike of the Appalachian Trail, which was far less exciting and kind of put me in a down mood.  As midnight approached, motivation dwindled and I began wondering why I was out running laps around the Drillfield when my warm bed was so close.  I decided I had enough after only 15 miles!  WEAK SAUCE!  Michelle had just arrived when I sent her a text to tell her not to bother to come that I was on my way home.  I felt that I had disappointed myself, Michelle, and the folks who had stopped by earlier to cheer me on.

Sunday: 5.5, 350' 0:48
Sunday followed suit with the rest of the week.  I struggled to get out of bed at decent hour after losing an hour of sleep to daylights savings time and running until 12pm, which was then really 1AM.  Coincidently, I did buy my suit for our wedding on Sunday but didn't manage to get out on a run, as most of the day was spent in Roanoke shopping for suits.  We returned home around dinner time and I conceded that I wasn't going to get a run in.  Michelle had spent most of Saturday making soups and chilis that we could reheat over the next couple weeks as things get busy.  After a massive bowl of chili, I decided it would be a good idea to get in a quick run in an attempt to salvage my weekly mileage and simultaneously return the Redboxes I had rented on Friday (oops!).  Bad idea.  I managed to get in a 5.5 miles but I was soo full and felt pretty awful the entire time.  I'll chalk it up to running on a full stomach for Umstead 100 training.  

Totals for the week:
Distance: 47.4
Elevation: 1812'
Duration: 7hr


Monday: 5, 130' 0:42
Michelle wanted to get out and try to get a run in and I decided I would go out for a run and find her and then catch a ride back home...after stopping at Five Guys.  I managed to get in 5 miles but in an effort to be economical, I decided to skip on Five Guys and instead go home and eat one of the meals Michelle had prepared over the weekend.  A small start to the week in terms of mileage but 5 miles nonetheless.

Tuesday: 10, 540' 1:22
I was caught mid-cupcake Tuesday (and Monday) after my cooperating teacher gave me a half-dozen gourmet cupcakes on Monday from Crumb & Get It in Christiansburg.  Although Tuesday is supposed to be my rest day, I knew that we had plans Wednesday evening to see the Banff Film Festival at the Lyric and that I would be traveling later in the week to VCTM, which would make getting in a run difficult and that I should run while I had the time.  I opted for my standard Patrick Henry-Plantation Road-Huckleberry Trail loop logging 10 miles for the day.

Wednesday: Rest
On Wednesday, Michelle and I went to see the Banff Film Festival World Tour at the Lyric.  The films were awesome although we had already seen the feature 46min. film at the Telluride Film Festival just a couple weeks earlier.  The night did have one surprise, which was a special showing of a film specific to the Blacksburg area and involved a guy using the film to propose to his girlfriend.  She said yes!

Thursday: 6, ~500' 0:46
We traveled to Harrisonburg Thursday afternoon for the annual VCTM conference and arrived at the hotel just after five.  After checking in, I made sure our advisor didn't need anything else from us and quickly ran up to the room to change to get a run in.  The plan was to meet in the lobby at 6:30 to head out to dinner in downtown Harrisonburg, I left the hotel at 5:30 which gave me roughly 45 minutes to run, get back to shower, and make it down to the lobby.  I walked back in the hotel at 6:15PM and was down in the lobby after a quick shower at 6:30 on the dot.  I wish I had brought a camera with me but was already down the hill when I thought of it.  I managed to see a good bit of James Madison University campus in the short time I had, although I wouldn't find the big James Madison statue until Saturday.

Friday: 7.6, ~680 1hr
Virginia Tech Math Education at 2014 VCTM
I planned on getting a decent night sleep Thursday but I got to talking to another teacher that currently teaches in Henrico and stayed up far later than I had planned.  I dismissed my 5:20 alarm and eventually rolled out of bed at 6AM to get out for a run.  Again, I pushed the time because the van we had all ridden in was leaving the hotel at 8 and I walked back into the lobby from my run at 7:35, giving myself 25 minutes to get cleaned up for the conference and out the door.  I grabbed a bagel as I ran out the door and hopped in the van, squeezing in just over 7.5 miles.  

Saturday: 6, 470' 0:50
On Saturday, after two AWESOME but looooonng days in Harrisonburg, I arrived home from the annual Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics (VCTM) conference excited and giddy with new ideas for my classroom this fall.  While I was excited and jazzed about teaching, I was dreading the idea of getting out for a run after going non-stop for the past 48 hours.  I've been in a get-it-done mode lately with my runs, which has helped me get out the door on days that motivation is lacking but I was tempted to just take a nap on the couch.  Michelle let me know that she was headed to the gym and that my awesome parents had sent Michelle and I a Chipotle gift card.  We both agreed to get out the door and get back quickly so we could enjoy a fun date over a delicious meal.

Although the run wasn't deserving of a splurge, I did skip lunch on Saturday (opting not to eat at an establishment that encourages obesity) and therefore justified my decision to order a Quesorito for dinner.  For those unfamiliar, pause and watch this video before continuing.  Basically, it's a burrito that uses a two tortillas to make a quesadilla and then use that quesadilla to wrap a burrito providing another layer of cheesy goodness.  It was everything I wanted it to be!  Michelle documented and you can see that the quesorito was too large to fit in the dine-in basket.  It just rested on the edges of the basket.

Sunday: 20.5, 1200' 3hr
After quesoritoing it up on Saturday, I felt I needed to get out for a solid run on Sunday.  After dragging my feet a bit, I headed out the door around 11ish for Draper to run on the New River Trail.  I knew that we were expecting a big storm Sunday evening and rain for most of Sunday afternoon so I threw an extra layer in the car, my houdini jacket, which made the second half of the run tolerable in the steady rain.  The run was fairly uneventful.  I saw one other individual out on the trail during for the three hours I was out there.  I don't blame them.  The latter half of the run was quite miserable and it took me a good 20 minutes before I could begin to use my hands for any time of fine movement (i.e. texting).

Totals for the week:
Distance: 55.4
Elevation: 3518'
Duration: 7:41

Despite being discouraged after a "mediocre" week of training two weeks ago, I managed to recollect myself and get in some decent miles even while traveling to a conference for two days this week.  Umstead 100 is now less than 3 weeks away and I'll be tapering my volume over the next three weeks.  This weekend is Terrapin Mountain and although I'd love to see where I am fitness wise and race, the day will be a training run for me which means it's #HAVEFUN Brett!


Training Week 2/24/2014-3/2/2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Monday marked the beginning of my "full-time" student teaching and with it a reduced energy level that made getting out the door everyday this week a struggle with the exception of Saturday - more on that later.  I suppose it's fair to say that I have a fear that when I begin teaching this fall, I'll struggle getting out for runs and lose the fitness I've worked so hard to achieve over the past couple years.  However, I think about the many people I know and look up to that have full-time jobs and still train and run at a very high-level and tell myself that if they can do it, I CAN do it!  At the end of the week, I still managed to log 61 miles in roughly 9 hours of running!  Here's how it unfolded:

Monday: 6.5, 230' 1hr
With Rudy recovering from Mt. Cheaha, Mike Jones recovering from Mt. Mitchell, and most of the other folks missing, the Monday evening Ultra VT group run was fairly tame compared to previous weeks.  It was really an "old guy" run as Mike and Darren split off after 3 miles or so leaving Robbie, Jordan, and I to bring up the average age of the group run and have "old man" talk.  For some reason, I wasn't feeling a burrito and opted to pass on my usual post Ultra VT group run Moe's Monday.  I know, I know; I'm a disgrace to Moe's Foursquare Mayors all over.

Tuesday: Rest
Tuesday is now my usual rest day and I observed it this week.  I'm not really too sure what happened on Tuesday - the week was a total blur.

Wednesday: 9.6, 440' 1.25hr
I stayed after school for a professional development seminar and when I did finally get home I debated whether to run or to choose the easy excuse to say "I'm too tired" to get out and run.  I thought about what Dr. Horton told us during the pre-race meeting before Holiday Lake, "The five minute rule: if you do something for five minutes it's often easier to keep going than it is to stop.  If you get out for a run in the cold weather it's easier to keep running then get dressed for the cold weather to only run five minutes" and used this to get me out the door on my run.  The loop I did is one of my "go-to get in 8 or more miles" loops in Blacksburg.  I had told Michelle to meet me at Moe's at 6, which meant that my run wasn't limited by my willingness to get miles in but rather "how many miles can I run and not be late."  I arrived at Moe's at 5:59 and then stretched quickly before grabbing dinner with my best friend :-)

Thursday: CELEBRATE!
Well...Thursday was AWESOME!  I should've gone out for a run but I came home in such a great mood after training to be a substitute teacher for Montgomery County and on-campus interviews that I decided I wanted to just sit around and enjoy the moment.  I suppose this is a bit cryptic and for now that will have to do but I saw something on Instagram this week that sums up how I feel, (filtered version)"Good things come to those who wait GO OUT AND MAKE THINGS HAPPEN!"  I did not plan to have two rest days this week and consequently ended up a bit short on volume but what I missed out on in terms of volume by taking the extra day off I more than made up for in attitude!

Friday: 7.2, 730' 1hr
Friday followed suit with the rest of the week and I told myself I would go out and get 5, 6, or 7 miles in depending on how I felt.  I have two options when I leave my apartment complex in terms of what direction I want to go; both lead downhill.  I choose to head down toward the valley knowing that regardless of the route I took I would eventually have to climb back up the hill.  I felt pretty good for most of the run but around 4 miles my stomach started to let me know it wasn't happy with my choice to eat an apple before my run.  Coincidently, I listened to a Podcast on Saturday that discussed this very issue, eating an apple prior to a run, something I will NEVER do again.  I think I've done this before and didn't learn my lesson...this time I did.  Although I didn't have to stop and empty the contents of my bowels in a yard...I nearly had to and wound up walking the last 1/2 mile home.  Sometimes you just have those runs...which hopefully do not involve the runs.

Friday marked the end of February and my highest mileage month of running - ever.  I logged 238 miles, or a little over 2.5 times what I did in 2013.  However, what's even more impressive as I look at the numbers between 2013 and 2014 is that in January alone, after taking the first 8 days of the month off, I logged more time running than I did January and February combined in 2013.  I feel strong and seeing the benefits of putting in 6, 7, or 8 hours of running on the weekend is totally worth the pain in the moment.

Saturday:  21.5, 1950' 3.25hr
Creek that parallels Ellett Rd going down into the valley.
On Saturday morning, I got up early, ate breakfast, and headed out for a long run down in the valley.  I had scoped out a run using the course feature on Garmin Connect but didn't know how long the trails were at my destination.  I was meeting Michelle's dad, Marvin, to grab lunch before the basketball game at 2:30, which meant that I needed to back at my place and ready to leave by 1PM.  I set out around 9 and headed down into the valley via Ellett Road, which gave me roughly 3:30 hours to run before I needed to get back and clean up for the game.  I was excited to try out my new vest that had arrived on Friday from RunningWarehouse that was an exchange for the AK vest I had returned after wearing once on a training run on the Holiday Lake course.  

Structurally sound?  I think not.
The issue with the AK vest, aside from the lack of storage, was that my ribs were sore for days after wearing it for one 16 mile training run because of how the bottles sat on ribcage.  I decided to give the Scott Jurek vest, also made by Ultimate Direction, a try because unlike the AK vest it comes in three sizes (sm, med, and lg) and I fell right in the middle of the medium whereas I was at the high end of a small and low end of a large for the AK vest.  The vest works SO WELL!  Last year, I talked about running motivation in a blog post and that sometimes a new piece of gear can serve as the little needed additional motivation to get out the door for a run.  This vest did that and more; it has me itching to get out for more long run adventures!  

Eventually, I made my way out to Falls Ridge Preserve (mile 8.5), protected by The Nature Conservancy, and decided that I had enough time to go explore the trails.  There are really only two trails out there, both are "lollipop" style trials with the first that you arrive at being a 1.5 mile loop and other, the Bradley Trail, branches off the first loop and goes up to a peak to make for a total of about 3.5 miles of trail.

About 100 feet in you come to this awesome waterfall, I took some video with my phone and uploaded it to Instagram during the run!

There are lots of water features out there along the trail and the conservancy website lists the falls at 80'.  I didn't see anyone else out on the trail and the quiet and remoteness was needed after a long and busy week.  The Bradley Trail, which is the lollipop that winds around a peak called Mill Knob, reaches just over 2000'.  Upon leaving Falls Ridge Preserve, I knew that I had about 9 miles left and around two hours until Marvin would be picking me up.  The run home along Lusters Gate was pretty uneventful and although I've ridden that section of road many times on a bicycle, I was able to appreciate the beauty of the valley in a new way running it.  The last bit of the run is climbing out of the valley up the "Blacksburg Infamous" Harding Road climb.  It. Stinks.  At the end of the run, I had managed to log 21 miles in a little over 3 hours and put a solid dent into my weekend volume.

Sunday: 16.4, 600' 2.25hr
Sunday marked the 29th running of the Blacksburg Classic, which I ran last year but opted to not run this year.  Instead, Michelle and I went and watched and cheered on several of our friends who were running.

In order to be able to watch the race Sunday afternoon, I had to get up and out the door early again on Sunday for another longish run.  I was shooting for 15.1 miles to make it an even 60 for the week but when I got out to the new and recently paved section of the Huckleberry Trail I decided I would just go a little further.  I ended my run at Chipotle, a decision I immediately regretted because I had to lug it back up the hill...that I walked instead of ran.  I got home a few minutes after 12 and we were out the door by 12:45 headed down to the start of the race.

The start of the 29th Annual Blacksburg Classic!
There were 5 folks from the Ultra VT that were running including Jordan and Kristen Chang, Guy, Rachel, and Alex.  I also saw a bunch of other folks out there including two of my professors and Gef who I ran with on my long run last Sunday.  We brought Gillie along and Michelle took photos while I Vuvuzela'd the runners as they went by.  It was pretty awesome!

Jordan Chang looking strong on the first of two downtown loops!

Guy Love and Geffrey Moy (left) and Kristen Chang (right) completing loops 1 of 2.

Much heckling occurred!

Probably my favorite shot of the day - Michelle did a great job!

Michelle and our wild little one!

More heckling!

Jordan took 2nd overall!

Guy Love and Geffrey Moy finished 5th and 7th respectively.

Good times were had by all!

Totals for the week:
Distance: 61.3
Elevation: 3945'
Duration: 8:46

It was another strong week of training and I'm feeling confident with the back-to-back runs I've been putting together on the weekends.  As of posting this, Umstead 100 is 31 days away!  I am simultaneously excited and nervous.
100 miles isn't that far.  ~Karl Meltzer

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