Add to Technorati Favorites "Going the Distance!": December 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Most Interesting Blog Posts of 2007

On the summit of Mt. Whitney

December is the slowest month of the year as far as races are concerned so I don't have a lot to talk about there; I'm just continuing my normal running routine and getting in quite a few miles. Just yesterday I made a new friend at Yoga class and my yoga buddy, Larry, was telling her all about the blog. Rather than sifting through the 80 something posts I told her that I would email her the links to the best ones (of course I forgot to get her email address; not very "smooth" am I). As I was running today I thought this would be something to share with everyone since many of you may have missed some of the earlier stuff. So here they are, the entries that I think are most interesting from this year. Enjoy!

Sylamore 50K Race Report (2/19)
3 Days of Syllamo Race Report (3/19)
Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Race Report (6/4)
Psycho Psummer 50K Race Report (7/16)
Mount Whitney Summit Adventure (8/12)
Great Running and Inspirational Quotes (8/20)
Turkey and Taturs 50K Race Report (9/17)
Arkansas Traveller 100 Mile Race Report (10/8)
Trails and Tribulations Arkansas Traveller 100 Podcast (10/24)
Rock Creek 50K Race Report (10/28)
100 Mile Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (11/10)
Route 66 Marathon Race Report (11/19)
Green Rock 40 Mile "Fun" Run (12/2)

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Running!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Addiction vs. Passion, Number of 100 Mile Finishers in 2007 and My Weekend in Nashville (Yee-haw!)

Image from

Addiction vs. Passion: What's The Difference?
A few weeks ago a friend of mine left me a voicemail suggesting that I focus on Moderation as a resolution for 2008; he felt my running was simply substituting one addiction for another and he was concerned. He is a recreational runner who logs around 25 miles a week in addition to weekly Yoga classes and Personal Training sessions so it's not exercise he's worried about; it's the fact that I run "extreme" distances. From his viewpoint he feels I'm addicted to running whereas I would say I'm passionate about the sport; so what's the difference?

According to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary the non-substance definition of ADDICT is to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively and the definition of PASSION is a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept. After reading both definitions I think it's easy to see the confusion. For most people running 100 miles is incomprehensible and they cannot understand why anyone would do it; many say, "I don't even like to drive that far!" For me it's about more than just covering the distance, it's embracing the entire experience and savoring each moment as you go from extreme highs to abysmal lows. It's the amazing volunteers you meet along the way and the life-long friendships that are forged while out on the trails (Finishers of the 2006 MMT 100 pictured above). Running ultras is about pushing on when every part of your body and mind is begging you to stop; it's knowing that you can achieve anything you set your mind to and that when the going gets tough you can handle whatever comes your way.

To me addiction is something negative and "dirty" that takes over your life and controls you whereas being passionate about something means that it is enriching your life and possibly the lives of others; there is a very fine line. I say I am passionate about running but can it be an addiction? Absolutely! When you are hobbling so bad you can barely walk due to shin splints but you still "have to get your run in," when you neglect your loved ones and make running the most important thing in your life, when you're physically and mentally beat and need rest but head out anyway because you "have to hit your weekly mileage goal," THEN you may be addicted and need to take a step back to evaluate whether you control your running or running controls you. Have I been this way in the past? Admittedly, yes. Today? No, but it is something that I am keenly aware of and ensure I keep in check. What are your thoughts on the difference between Passion and Addiction?

2007 Finishers of 100+ Mile Events
Ever wondered how many people finish 100 miler's in a year? Well I actually have and apparently others have too because Ultralister Jason Walz crunched the numbers to give us the answer.

Number of 100s finished in 2007:
11 (1): Dan Brendan (Pictured right at Across The Years)
9 (3): David Goggins, Dennis Drey, Hans-Dieter
8 (1): Phil Rosenstein
7 (3): Andy Kumeda, Gilles Barbeau, Jamshid Khajavi
6 (3): Jack Meyer, Karl Meltzer, Rob Apple
5 (9)
4 (31)
3 (66)
2 (283)
1 (1641)
2679 total finishes; 2053 ultrarunners; 80% of hundred+ milers run only one race, and 94% of hundred+ milers run 1 or 2 ultras.

And Kevin Stroud added that considering the population of the U.S. is currently estimated at 303,559,949 that makes each of the 2,053 100-mile finishers "one out of 147,861 people."

And now I'm sure you all will sleep better at night knowing this bit of trivia :-)

My Weekend In Nashville, TN (Yee-Haw!)
I flew down to Nashville Friday evening to visit my friend Shannon and have a low key weekend. Shannon and her friend, Michelle, picked me up at the airport and we headed down near Vanderbilt to meet their friend, Janet, at the Red Door. After sipping on a Diet Coke we headed to Park Cafe for an amazing dinner (highly recommended)! Saturday was a bit dreary and foggy so we slept in quite late and then headed down to get in some miles along the Shelby Bottoms Greenway. This is a paved path that runs along the Cumberland River and will eventually connect with other greenways all over Nashville; I calculated that there will be around 89 miles when the project is completed. Shannon and Michelle stayed strong in the cold, damp weather pushing themselves even though their bodies wanted to quit and I got in some speedwork along the flat, paved paths.

Saturday night Michelle had invited some people over for a delicious, homemade dinner. As Shannon and I were out exploring Nashville on Saturday afternoon Michelle was busy baking pies, marinating the meat, whipping up some fresh mango salsa and preparing the salad. We got home around 6:00 pm and were blown away by everything she had accomplished. We were joined for dinner by Rusty and Jenn and all chatted as Michelle grilled up the meat; we offered to help but being that she tunes into the Food Network 24 hours a day she declined and said she had it all under control. As we sat down there was silence as we all dug into the feast; everyone cleaned their plate and most of us went back for seconds!

Sunday morning we had a bit of a food hangover and slept in again before Shannon and I headed to a nearby park for a run. It was overcast but warm and humid; after 7 miles I ditched the shirt. Sunday afternoon the temperature reached into the upper 70's as we played "tourist" and hit all the spots downtown including 2nd Avenue and Broadway. The highlight was the Charlie Daniels Museum where Shannon picked up a Charlie Daniels Santa Bobblehead as a gag gift for my parents; they love it by the way! We headed out to the Opryland Hotel to see the Christmas lights before dropping me off at the airport for my 6:50 pm flight.

I am so blessed to have friends like Shannon in my life and continue to meet kind, generous and friendly people every where I go. Shannon was the perfect host treating me to delicious food, fun times and great company and Michelle, who I didn't know before the trip, made me feel welcome at her home and filled my belly with home cook'in. To view all of the pictures from my weekend trip to Nashville click HERE.

Hope all of you are well and staying upright in these icy conditions!
Happy Running (or sliding),

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Green Rock 40 Mile "Fun" Run

Stuart, Me and Jerry arriving at the Middle Aid Station (Photo by Travis Liles)

Yesterday, a group of us ran a Green Rock Trail "Double" fully supported by Lee Hess and a crew of volunteers. This trail is 10 miles one way and begins about 2 miles west of the Allenton exit near Six Flags and ends at Rockwoods Reservation. Green Rock is very rocky (hence the name) and hilly; it is known as the toughest trail in the St. Louis area and one of the most strenuous in the entire state. To our knowledge no one had ever accomplished a Green Rock Double in a single day so we were heading into uncharted territory.

Lee (pictured at right giving me a pep talk at the AT 100) is a fellow SLUG and had been planning this event for some time as a practice run for a race he would like to direct on the GR Trail sometime in the near future. There were aid stations set up at the start/finish, the middle and the turnaround just like there would be in an actual race with full ultra-aid station fare including Turkey Soup, Breakfast Burritos, M&M's, Coke, cookies, pretzels and PB&J sandwiches. About 15 runners were participating but not all were planning on doing the double. At 6:00 am we stood around the trailhead listening to some last minute instructions from Lee and around 6:07 am we headed off into the darkness with flashlights in hand. The temperature at the start was around 30 degrees with partly cloudy skies and the forecast called for sleet in the morning turning into rain around mid-day as the temperature increased; we were all mentally prepared for a long, wet day. After the first few miles the group split up and I was running with Stuart Johnson, Jerry Frost, David Stores and future SLUG member, Steve McKee. This was to be the longest run for both David and Steve so they were excited about the challenge; David commented that he only slept about 3 hours mostly due to nervousness about the gloomy weather forecast. There was a lot of chatter throughout the day (mostly from yours truly) which helped pass the time as we talked about running and life. Jerry was the first SLUG I ever met back at the Berryman training run in 2005 and is someone who has inspired me and taught me a lot about the sport of ultra-running; we don't get to run together very often so it was nice to spend the day with him.

When we arrived at the turn they were cooking up some yummy looking breakfast burritos but I stuck with my usual Coke, M&M's and cookies. In fact Jerry and Stuart were teasing me that I should do a Coke commercial; "Want to be a front-middle of the pack ultra-runner and finish in the top 10-30% but never win? Then drink COKE, that's what I do. Strive to be just a bit better than average!" Whatever works, right? We cruised back to the start/finish where David and I both changed into shorts; besides a few sprinkles early on it was dry, partly cloudy and in the mid-40's which is ideal running weather. I had been joking about how tempting it would be to quit at the turn and head to Starbuck's to enjoy a hot latte and a book but really always intended to go back out for a second loop. I told Jerry and Stuart this so they would stick around and not head off without me but when I returned from the truck they were gone. Lee and Andrew said, "Jerry and Stuart told us not to let you go to Starbucks!" Thanks guys, way to pass the buck. I stuffed my face with cookies and M&M's, downed some Coke and quickly caught up to them. I ribbed them a bit about there not being an "I" in Team; I'd have to remind Stuart of this again later.

David and Steve caught up to us and as we entered the middle aid station Steve told us he was planning on turning around. This was his furthest run beyond a marathon and he was happy to accomplish his first trail 50K; we all congratulated him and headed on to the turnaround. Around 1:40 pm we reached the turn and ate some of the best Turkey and Rice Soup I've ever had. We thanked everyone for their hard work volunteering and then started our way back for the last 10 miles of the day. Stuart (the "Old Punk" is pictured above with me at the Rock Creek 50K) wasn't wasting any time and quickly took off ahead of us as I heckled him about not being a team player; "No 'I' in Team, remember Stuart!?!" I think this made him go even faster because he was out of sight within the first few miles heading back. As we passed the 1 mile marker Jerry told David and I to savor every step since we were on the home stretch; he seemed a bit disappointed that the day would soon be ending. This kind of attitude is what makes him such a great ultra-runner; he embraces every minute of a run and truly enjoys the process.

We soon came up on Ted Gruener (pictured at left with me, photo by Travis Liles) and Jon Whiting who said Stuart had passed them like a man possessed flying right by. This was to be Jon's longest run ever and Ted had been running with him most of the day helping to support him in this challenge. We met up with Carol Izadi and Deb Johnson who were heading out to the turn as Carol said she just had to have another burrito; I run for Coke and M&M's and she runs for burritos. Once again, whatever works! We reached the middle aid station around 3:15 pm and both David and John were fading a bit. We all fueled up and made sure they would be OK to continue on together as Jerry, Ted and I picked up the pace; as we headed off Jerry exclaimed "Let's Get'er Done!" We reached the 9 mile marker and could hear the sound of cars speeding along I-44; Ted remarked what a sweet sound it was as it signaled the end of a long and grueling day. At 4:16 pm, 10 hours and 9 minutes after we had started, we reached Fox Creek road and were welcomed and congratulated by Lee and Stuart. About 20 minutes later we heard David (pictured right at Flatlanders) and Jon coming down the trail on the way to finishing their longest run yet on the most difficult trail in St. Louis. What an accomplishment, congrats to you both! At the end of the day 6 people completed the Double: Stuart Johnson, Jerry Frost, Ted Gruener, David Stores, Jon Whiting and myself. Carol and Deb ended up completing 34 miles and finished around 6:10 pm; job well done! Once everyone had arrived we all stood around reminiscing about the day and mowing down on the birthday cake Stuart, Deb and Carol had brought for Lee; I also run for cake :-)

Once again thanks to all who helped out and made this day possible including David, Travis, Randy, Andrew, Michelle, Dan, Jeff, Mike, Charlie and the rest of their Hasher Family; we couldn't have done it without you. Most of all thanks to Lee for coordinating such a great event; it was organized better than many "official" races! To view all of the pictures taken by Travis Liles click HERE.

Any of you have recent running adventures to share? If so, please do. How about some stories from the Tecumseh Trail Marathon yesterday?

Hope all is well and Happy Running,