Saturday, March 29, 2014

Talking Calendars

Life is moving at such a high rate of speed, isn't it? Remember years and years ago when the first cell phones or "mobile phones" hit the market? I personally remember the big gray, heavy Motorola flip phone with the one line number display and flimsy plastic antenna that came out the top. It was huge. Many of us thought how a mobile phone would tie us down, extend our "leash" to others and be too much. Today, most of us can't go anywhere without our smart phone (and its charger...right?). At a pace that would seem insane a short 10 years ago, if we don't grab a hold of what's true, what's right, what's proper and what's most important to us, we're going to arrive one day at a realization that we've missed so much, given up so much, and forgot to "stop and smell the roses." Just this past week, I ran across this quote from Bob Goff:

"The battle for our love is fought on the pages of our calendars; we'll become in our lives what we plan for our days."

It's true, isn't it? Like our checkbook, our calendar "tells the tale" of our lives and where we place our priorities. I constantly put myself in check, re-evaluate myself, look silently at the calendar, talk with my wife about what we're doing today, this week, this month, for vacation in a few months and even a year+ from now. What does my calendar say about ME? What does YOURS say about YOU? Do you like what it says?

For me, my life is a balancing act between the roles of 1) Husband, 2) Father, 3) Sailor (career), 4) Local church and 5) running...in that order. Actually, to be real, #4 and #5 should probably be flipped. They go back and forth, actually. So, as I plan every day and months in to the future, I have to weigh it all and ask myself if it's ok to trump another priority for the sake of another. "Do I race on Sunday and miss church? Am I really leading my family when I do that? What am I telling my wife? My girls? My church family? Those who are watching silently?" Within each realm is all the details spun up so tightly. What/where/when/how questions, ya know.

In running, I have grown much more picky about what I run, specifically the races I support. I ask, in advance, what it supports. Where does the money go after entries are tallied? What have others said of this race in the past? I also consider it an honor to run under the header of a company who has chosen me, most notably Brooks Running and most recently, Hammer Nutrition. Brooks has shifted how it does sponsorship so while they are still involved but they have taken a 2nd place to Hammer Nutrition which embodies so many qualities I look for, not only in nutrition products but in ethics, ways of doing business, business rules, commitment to quality, keeping ALL of their products "Made in the USA" and their very direct, intimate communication to us, the sponsored athletes. I LOVE to run for them.

Over the past few years, I've begun wearing the Eagle, too. You most likely have seen the red shirts at races with the eagle on them saying Team RWB (Red, White, Blue). I became an ambassador for them over a year ago but didn't do anything more than wearing the jersey because they really weren't alive yet in my area. Much to my joy, that's changed recently and a brand new chapter has emerged right in my backyard, the Team RWB Akron/Cleveland chapter. I am really looking forward to getting involved with community events, meeting fellow veterans, and wearing the Eagle more than ever before. Less than a month from now is my "token marathon" for 2014 at the inaugural Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon in Canton, OH. It's a Team RWB event so I'm really looking forward to seeing many of them out there. I really can't wait for mile 21...1000 full size American Flags lining the course. Chills for sure!



Speaking of planning my calendar, I've made some big decisions for the fall, booked some hotels, and have a plan..finally.  The big one is going to be a trip to Maryland in November for an old-school 50 miler under fall foliage. Of course...wearing the Eagle and adorning my skin with temporary Hammer tattoos everywhere. :) (see tab at top of page for future events)

So what does your calendar say to you? Your checkbook? Like it, love it, hate it? Only one person can change that.

Have a great one, friends, and Hammer On!

Monday, March 24, 2014

M-Cubed for 3.24.2014

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for March Twenty-Fourth, Two Thousand Fourteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Late to bed, late to wake up this morning. Last night, I took my oldest daughter to downtown Cleveland to closeout her birthday week. We had dinner at the Chocolate Bar where we ended dinner sharing a chocolate and peanut butter ice cream shake. Her comment as we walked through downtown Cleveland on a late Sunday afternoon: "It's kinda like New York City...with less people and quieter." :) After dinner, we walked back to Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center for the FishFest...a concert with 6 artists and sponsored by the local radio station, 95.5 The Fish. The night kicked off with the little known WeAsHuman (glad they were first and done!) then Mandisa and Brandon Heath shared the stage for many songs (absolutely LOVED them and Mandisa is incredible...would love to see just her in concert some day in a small setting), then Third Day hit the stage. Third Day has been around for 21 years now and is an icon in the Christian rock/worship industry. It was a mixture of the new and old and great all around. Seeing that 6 artists had to share the stage, the sets were shorter but still good. As Third Day wrapped up and their equipment dismantled, Peter Furler (formerly of the Newsboys) stood at the end of the stage walkout with only him, a drummer, and guitarist, and played about 4 songs. In the dark behind him, the stage was rebuilt for Skillet...an aggressive Christian/mainstream band who is crazy popular the globe over. Heck, their Facebook page recently passed the 5 million fan mark. I didn't know them until I saw them last summer at the Alive Festival. Since then...I'm a huge fan and even run to their tunes often. Lots of their lyrics have met me right where I am today and as a former Metallica junkie, I love the style. Here is but one photo I grabbed of them from our AWESOME seats! Great night and my baby girl/new teenager slept all the way home from CLE.

- Yes, I know this wasn't published on Monday morning. Hey, I was rockin' Sunday night and slept in! (at least that's my excuse)

- I be shopping! Well, not like you think...or at the local Target, etc. My race calendar is a bit empty past September this year. I'm not seeking a marathon...or a 100 miler. Instead, I've been casting a wide net into the midwest United States and looking for a 50 miler to run in October or November...like a nice bookend on the shelf of 2014. I ran across the JFK 50 Miler which is held the Saturday before Thanksgiving, is about a 4hr drive from home, and is an icon in the eastern United States, having been run for over 50 years now and quite a history...and being very "military" like in its origins and current form. Being a military guy, that's a draw. The downside is that within those 50 miles are 26 miles of towpath, 15 miles of road, and only about 8 miles of actual trail. That's not my kind of recipe. The 2nd downside is the entry fee that is unknown today. Registration opens on April 1st and is expected to be near $200...VERY steep. A polar-opposite run is held the week prior on November 15th...the Stone Mill 50 that is held in Gaithersburg, MD...just northwest of our nation's capital. It's only 30min further to drive and is almost entirely on the trails under fall foliage. It's a very low cost, no frills race where the money goes to paying the park fees and stocking the aid stations. Very little, if any, swag. However, the field can be as large as 300 runners. Low cost is under 50 bucks, by the way. Registration doesn't open until August 1st...but unless I see something magical about the JFK 50 on April 1st, I'm leaning heavily towards this race. There is even a brand new Hampton Inn under 3 miles from the start/finish with an indoor saltwater swimming pool...perfect for the kids while I run all day.

- We recently wrapped up an eleven week marriage study in our home dubbed "Real Marriage." We had four active couples who attended and it ended up being a very good study. Next up, we will be leading Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University for the very first time, starting on April 3rd right here in our hometown at the local Town Hall. Registrations have ticked up in the past 48 hours so I'm really looking forward to it. It'll be our first time facilitating it since putting "Uncle Dave's" principles into practice back on Christmas 2009. On the marriage front, I picked up these (look right) study guides yesterday. Dr. Gary Chapman is the author of the well-known "Five Love Languages" book. Well, we're going to work through this book/study one-on-one with another couple. We're really looking forward to it! It incorporates individual study, couples one-on-one study, then a time where two or more couples share with each other and work through the material. We're going to piggy-back this with getting our kids together to play, probably grill out in the summer, and make it a fun time while also sharpening our marriages along the way. (Thanks to Logos Bookstore in Kent for hooking us up with the books!)

That's it for now, folks. I know I haven't written much lately. Sometimes, I just "vomit" words on the screen and other times, it all stays inside. Lately, it's been the latter but I'm still "awake and alive" (to quote Skillet!) and fine. Looking forward to warmer days and Spring arriving...eventually. Where are those daffodils and blossoming cherry trees?! I know it's soon because my "birthday run" is less than a month away and I always look forward to running by those trees in Kent on my birthday when I run all day.

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Alone

It's a scary place,
Alone all inside here
Doesn't appear to be a way out
Not an exit to take or escape

It's suffocating at times
All Alone within my own self
Like a ton of bricks
Crushing, weighing down, hopeless

Where is the exit? Where is the door?
Is my being Alone punishment for something I've done?
Or is it even real? Is it a trick?
Is it a creation of my own psyche?

Or perhaps it's a lie. A lie the enemy wields upon me.
Maybe I'm not really Alone, maybe I have all I need.
He was right, ya know
"Even if you had someone, you'd reject them."

It's not fun. It's dark. It's a rabbit hole. It's dangerous.
Alone is not something to grab on to or see...but it's there.
In a crowd or literally all alone, it's the same
But where? Where is the escape?

I combat it on my own. With my own, I mean what I can see.
I am winning. I am fighting. I "know" I'm not really Alone.
"How?" you say. "How do you know?"
Because of Him. Because I know Him. Because He knows me.

It may be dark. I may feel abandoned. I may struggle.
But I am not Alone...not truly. I call...and He answers.
Abba. Father. Jehovah. Christ. My All in All.
Oh how the enemy does not like to lose.

(h)e had me in his grips once, I had one foot in the grave
While I stood Alone, though...I was not.
His almighty hand caught me...so close to the grave I was.
Captured, held tight, saved, redeemed.

So darkness...you can continue to reign down your attacks
You can preach in my ear how Alone (y)ou think I am
But you will fail, you have been defeated long ago
Cast down, punished, weaker than my strongest power

I am not...
ALONE
I never will be...
ALONE

Friday, March 21, 2014

Recovery Perfected

OK, let me get a quick disclaimer out of the way. I don't claim perfection but it's how I feel over several years now of beating the heck out of my body then recovering stupid fast and not missing a beat...or getting injured. To me, that's perfect to me. Could I get even better? Sure, but I can't complain a bit about how I'm doing it today. Today, I want to talk about what I do to perhaps help even one other person recover well from their race(s).

6 days ago, I covered 62.4 miles over ice and through mud and rocks at the Buzzard Day 100K Trail Race. In my opinion, the key to recovery starts at the Starting Line of the race itself. Let me explain: Many have opinions about how to fuel during a race, what to eat, what not to eat, what upsets the stomach, what is best utilized by the body (and even at what rate), and the list (and opinions) go on and on. During a race, the goal is clear: FINISH. However, I truly believe that how you fuel during a race directly impacts recovery the moment you finish and for days thereafter. Pictured at right is a product by Hammer Nutrition that I used for the first time at the Buzzard to compliment Hammer Gels. Gels provide a ready source of carbohydrate energy and gets into the bloodstream quick. I tend to take one every 4-6 miles during an ultra marathon along with Endurolyte salt tabs at every aid station. Hammer's Perpetuem is a totally different product. For years, Perpetuem was only offered in a powder so it had to be mixed and drank with another liquid like Hammer's Heed or water.  It required another bottle and could be a real mess. To answer those issues, the Solids were created. Imagine a tablet almost an inch wide by about 3/4" tall. Six fit inside this container shown, are lightweight, and fit easily into a waist pack or even in a shorts pocket as I did this past Saturday. As you run, your body burns fat, stored glycogen and eventually turns to cannibalizing your own muscle. Perpetuem basically interrupts this by providing needed protein, carbohydrates, and even some fat to make it all work. It even helps recovery by giving your muscles what they need to rebuild...before the job is even done. I took five out of the six tabs during the race and if I could do it over again, I'd take more. My big worry with these was how they'd taste, chew, and swallow. The powder is very "pasty" and can be tough to drink. These were light, crumbled easy in my mouth (I thought they'd be hard), and had a mild "cafe latte" taste. They did clump slightly but if I kept chewing, they were easy to swallow. I chased it with a few drinks of Hammer's Heed and that was it! I was very happy with my first use of the Solids and they'll certainly be a top choice for my upcoming races this year.

Post race, I immediately took a serving of Hammer's Recoverite. I had a canister of it in my trunk and mixed up a half-bottle batch in my Purist bottle I had been using all day. My favorite is the chocolate flavor. Recoverite is the one product that is the cornerstone of my recovery. I have been using it since I was in the midst of my back-to-back training runs for my three 100-milers back in mid-2009. It IS the reason I can get up the next day and run. It provides the proper 3:1 ration of complex carbohydrates and the highest quality whey protein isolate, along with generous amounts of glutamine (3g per serving), the potent antioxidant l-carnosine, and a full-spectrum electrolyte profile. In fact, I take it any time I run 10 miles or longer. That's just my own personal rule and not based on anything. However, I continue to run injury-free...and that's how I recover. Connection? I think so.

So the race was on Saturday. I got home, showered (could not believe I hadn't chafed to the point of blood and pain), and slept about 5 hours. I rested a lot on Sunday, took an afternoon nap where I woke up drenched in sweat, and continued to hydrate. On Monday, I expected to be crazy hungry. Two days post-race always seem to be tough for me, but I decided to not let the day beat me. I headed out on a run and I think I ran on my toes for the first mile. My quads were super tight and sore. After a mile, though, they loosened up and I headed for the country hills. By the time I was at mile 3, I was feeling amazing. What I intended to be 3 turned into 6 miles and I felt great. I took another serving of Recoverite post-run. In my head, I imagined the run pumping lots of blood through repairing muscles and the Recoverite partnering with it to expedite a quality recovery. On Wednesday, we had a beautiful, sunny 50F day. I hadn't run with my dog since last fall so I thought it would be a great opportunity to get some sun and fire up the muscles again...keeping in mind that REST must also happen to complete the repair. Well, the run was sore again for the first mile but then turned fantastic. We covered 7 miles and I had ZERO issues. For the next two days, I rested...forced myself to. It was time to practice what I preach to so many others. Today (Friday), I woke up to stars and the moon in the sky and hit the road for six miles..and I felt nothing. No running on my toes, no discomfort...just "normal." I ran it at a normal pace and threw some pickups in there, too. Near the end, I did feel a bit of tightness in my quads but no pain. I'll continue to stretch and hydrate and that'll be gone soon. My quads definitely took the brunt of punishment at that race.

So there you have it. 6 days post-100K and feel like I can say that I'm recovered. I get the comments often about my "overnight" recovery from 50Ks, marathons, and the like and I really think...I know...that I can attribute it to how I fuel and how I recover, including rest. I've been doing it too long to just be by accident and after last Saturday's ice and mud beating, I feel like I've proven that it really does work. If you ever want to try out Hammer for yourself, don't pay full price. Click on my link at the top right and save 15% off your first order from them. It's good for new customers.

Before I close, I want to share a little about how I rewarded myself for the 100K finish. Before I ran it, I asked my wife it she was OK with me ordering a new pair of Brooks Cascadia 9's if I finished. My old Cascadia 7s (below) were shot but I knew I could get one more race out of them. The race did prove how bad they were and on Tuesday, they went out with the trash..still with the Hinckley mud on them. On Monday, a pair of new Cascadia's left the Brooks Running warehouse in Washington state and by Wednesday at dinnertime, they were sitting on my porch. Nothing like the smell of a new pair of Brooks! Seriously...you smell yours too, right?!

The markings on the bib signify each arrival at each aid station during the Buzzard Day 100K

The Cascadia 9's. My chariot for many more trail miles in 2014 and beyond.
 Happy Trails and Hammer On, friends!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Race Report: Buzzard Day 100K Trail Race

The last time I ventured past 40 miles goes back to October 2009 at my last 100 mile race. I have attempted one 50-miler since (WV Trilogy last October) but haven't finished a race over 40. Enter the Buzzard Day 100K Trail Race. In the world of ultra running, there aren't many 100K (62.4 miles) races out there. Tons of 50Ks, 50 milers, and 100 milers but the 100K remains in short supply. Since I ran the inaugural Buzzard Day 50K last year when only one distance was offered, I felt nudged this year to step it up when the 100K was announced as a new option and the course was being re-designed to provide longer 15.6 miles vs. 7.85 miles. Runners tend to get the hamster-on-a-wheel syndrome when running such short loops on such a long event. To prepare for this race, I didn't do much more than averaging my typical 40-60 mile weeks and my 50K race in WV back in early January. The only true prep was while I was on a Navy base in southwest Tennessee a few weeks ago. I ran a ladder workout to prepare better to run on tired legs. On day 1, I ran 11.2 miles, day 2 landed me 24 and day 3 I logged 32 miles...all on a 6 mile loop on asphalt. Given my Navy obligations, it was the only time I could really squeeze in any training runs specifically geared for the Buzzard. Since then, I've laid low and haven't run a whole lot...partially because I've just been fed up with the constant bitter cold in NE Ohio and I've felt a little "something" on my inner knee, right leg. So race day arrived...and I had no idea what the day would hold.

Roy giving pre-race instructions in the cabin
The Buzzard Day 100K was held within Hinckley Reservation, a part of the Cleveland MetroParks in Medina County, west of Akron and south of Cleveland. The race was set to begin in the dark at 6am, under a full moon and had a 17 hour time limit (11pm). I got there in plenty of time to claim a great parking spot that would also serve as my aid station as I completed all 4 loops. However, as soon as I parked and placed my foot outside the car, I realized the travel distance was a tad bit less than normal. I took a peek and my front tires were lowered in what could've been easily mistaken for quicksand...or early Spring thaw on super soft ground! Luckily, one of the race directors promised to get some muscle to help and get it unstuck after we got running at 6am...and they did! MUCH thanks! After a pre-race briefing in typical Roy Heger style, we were off and running...or sliding. Ice, ice, ice...it was everywhere and thanks to the sunshine and high winds the day before, it was a super slick, thick, slab of ice up, down and across the trail. Mostly, I tried to run alongside the trail in the deep snow where traction still existed. Starting out the day like this was a bit debilitating but I simply focused on very deliberate steps and doing my best not to fall.

"Hello, ice."
Marking the bib..and sporting a temp Hammer tattoo! :)
Aid stations were twofold out on the course. Around Mile 5.5, we arrived at the first one after a 1.5 mile climb and the 2nd was after climbing, sometimes hand over hand, through the beautiful Whipps Ledges at mile 11. Aid station workers had quite a day out there. For a race with a 17 hour limit, temperatures in the 30s while standing around can be a real bear. I can't give enough kudos to those volunteers who were always positive, encouraging and kept the stations well stocked. Even better were the hot grilled cheese sandwiches later in the day and hot soup. Luckily, they had fires going that really helped as the day got old and temperatures headed down. To ensure each runner visited every aid station, they employed a marking system on the bib. By the end of race, I would get 4 blue marks, 4 green marks, and 3 purple marks (start/finish aid station). This was a great, easy system.

Each loop was 25K or 15.6 miles. Loop one got better once the sun came up but the ice just beat me up. It's so different from road running because your legs continuously go/slide in every direction that over time, really wears you down and honestly, makes you pretty prone to injury if not careful. The 2nd half of the loop had much less snow on it as it eventually took us through the Ledges that had no snow at all. Beautiful, majestic, and not much opportunity to actually run. No doubt...on the to-do list for this summer is a trip back to this area with my wife and girls. It's really amazing and these photos do not do it justice. In a word: mighty. If you're local, look up Whipps Ledges within Hinckley Reservation and go. I also got the pleasure to run a lot with local ultra running legend, Ron Ross during that first loop. It was great to catch up with Ron and hear about everything going on in his life.

Yea..not a whole of running through here. The pink ribbon is the course marking...something to stay locked in on throughout the race.
Loop 2: This was, for the most part, an uneventful loop. It was great to see the first half of the loop in daylight. It was like running a whole new course again. The ice was still slick but being able to see it certainly helped! The only potentially race-ending snafu happened about mid-way. I arrived at the boat house on Hinckley Lake and realized that I shouldn't be there yet. I recalled from the first loop that I had been through a water crossing and hit aid station 1 by now...neither had happened. So, I called in a lifeline to co-race director Shannon who advised me I was only about 1/4 mile past the turn so I turned around and headed back. Thank goodness. Had it been far, that would've probably ended my day. Pictured right are the trail markings for the turn I missed. Ironically, it has double the amount of markings for any turn all day...a whoppin' 4 pie plates and a pink streamer wrapped around the tree. I must have really been "in the zone."

The rest of the loop went really well. The 50K'ers were now on the course as well as the 25K'ers. They started at 8am and 10am, respectively. The trail was very much alive and it was great to see so many trail running friends I hadn't seen in quite awhile. Talked with some and for others, just a friendly wave and hello as we passed each other. Finishing the 2nd loop and 50K, I was 5-10min shy of 7 hours...a humble, decent time for a 50K in its own right, especially given the conditions. I still felt pretty good and I gave no consideration to ending the day at that point. I found out later than many of 25 who started the 100K at 6am took this option...more carnage from the trail. Pictured here is a photo coming into the aid station, courtesy of John J McCarroll.

Sharing the trails!
Loop 3: By this point, temperatures in the upper 30s and sunshine started making mush out of the ice top layer, providing some much-needed traction to run right over the ice. In other areas where only a thin layer of ice existed, the shoe-sucking mud began to show its ugly head. I was plugging along well but eventually I found the bottom, from a mental perspective. I'm guesstimating I hit the bottom somewhere around mile 37. I was not happy and unlike my 100-milers and many other ultras, my feet hurt. A growing ache had begun that would grow for the rest of race beneath my arches...like a ball was there applying pressure. I took both shoes off but found nothing. About mid-way through my funk, I put in a lifeline call to my wife. I needed some pick-me-up and she provided just that. She refused to give in to my funk and insisted to charge on...to deliver back the advice I've given her countless times...stay with it and it will pass...you'll rise out of it. What sorta sealed the deal was her telling me she made my favorite pudding dessert to celebrate my coming finish.  A bottom layer of walnuts, a cream cheese/Cool Whip layer, chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding, Cool Whip and topped with sprinkled walnuts. Oh.my.word...amazing! (I should know...it was the first thing I ate when I woke up this morning!) After hanging up, I plugged along and somewhere around mile 43, I emerged from the grip of the funk and was running with force again. I tell ya...when you're in the funk, it's so easy to believe the lie that you'll never arise out of it. I finished the 3rd loop without any hesitation on heading back out on the course, but this time grabbing my headlamp from the morning because nightfall would catch me prior to getting to the finish.

Nutrition: Besides grazing on some grilled cheese, sipping soup broth (the bomb on a day like this...hot, salty, yum!), popping salt tabs, and the occasional M&M at the aid stations, I stuck pretty religiously to keeping Hammer's Heed intake steady along with Hammer Gels. Many know the mantra in ultra running: "Eat eat eat, drink drink drink, pee pee pee." It's easy to forget to do the former that makes the latter kinda difficult. I was doing all of that and also introduced a new Hammer product into my regimen...Hammer's Perpetuem tabs. Perpetuem interrupts the cannibalizing of your muscle tissue during a race and provides the needed protein combination. It's also served in powder form but it a real pain to manage, mix up, and it's like paste. This tablet was dry, the Caffe Latte flavor, and once I began chewing, became easy to swallow. Chasing it with some Heed sealed the deal...I love it! I was skeptical but glad I tried them. That completes my nutrition strategy and looking back, I wouldn't change a thing. (reminder: you can click on my Hammer link at right to save 15% off your first order)

Unfortunately, this photo doesn't show the depth
perception I hoped it would. My wife is not a fan
of heights and this was a far drop we had to run over.
Loop 4: Every step on this loop was encouraging because I knew I wouldn't see it again. Relentless forward motion and a new energy described this loop for me. The pain grew in my feet so I simply sought after the softest sections of trail. More swampy conditions than the prior 3 loops now due to so much melt during the day and the heavy foot traffic. Speaking of traffic, there wasn't much. The 50K and 25K'ers were done and headed home. I also found out that out of the 25 100K starters, there were only 11 of us left. The rest dropped or decided to call it a day at a lesser distance. Very quiet on that last loop. I was in a race against daylight and kept the goal of getting to Whipps Ledges before having to turn on my headlamp. I was about halfway through the Ledges when I had no choice to turn it on. The low light and coming super steep drop-off was not the recipe for safety so on it went. Unfortunately, though, the reflective stickers weren't on the streamers in this section so the trail markings essentially disappeared. I got to one point where I lost my way and had to fire up the overhead Google Maps landscape view on my iPhone to find the shelter where the aid station was. I knew I was very close. That worked and I headed on in to find the one volunteer who had been there from the beginning. He had a robust fire burning and was gracious like every time before. "Thanks, Michael!!" I headed back out and dangit, my feet hurt. I tried to run on the outsides of my feet the best I could to curtail the pain which barely helped. Eventually, I arrived on a long stretch of road where I could relax a bit and not focus on the trail with a headlamp and instead, turned it off and ran peacefully under the light of a full moon, sans cars or any vehicular traffic. After the road section, I turned into the final stretch of trail which would lead in about 3 miles to the FINISH.

I charged like crazy during this last section. I was ignoring my feet the best I could and when I had flat or a down hill, I moved as fast as my legs would carry me. My headlamp was doing good work but the spotlight in the sky illuminated the woods in an awesome way. Before I knew it, I arrived at the last deep water crossing, faster than I expected. I was really looking forward to this because it marked "1 mile to go." Passing through,  I kept charging and about 50 yards before the finish, I called my wife and girls on speakerphone and finished "with them." Nothing like hearing them cheering for me after 62.4 miles and a roller coaster mental journey. 15hrs, 35min, and 9th of 25 starters, and my 27th ultra marathon finish. Inside the cabin were Roy and Shannon trying to stay awake. Everyone was gone but them, me, and the two runners behind me. Hugs, handshakes...and this, a shiny new 100K belt buckle...the prize for the finish and hard-earned! I enjoyed some fantastic spaghetti and meatballs by the fire before jumping in the car and heading home. Such a great experience and one I'm glad I signed up for. It literally took me weeks and weeks to sign up for the 100K.

Many thanks to everyone who had a part in this race. Roy, Shannon, Hugh, Patrick, Michael and the many other volunteers I met out there. Thank you! Thank you, too, to my wingman...my wife...who was there for me when I needed her most, delivering the very medicine I serve to her when she gets in her funks mid-race. I'm a lucky guy!

Keep charging, friends, and Happy Trails!