Nike Women’s Half Marathon, Costumes & Friendships

This weekend was filled with great moments & memories. Let’s start with the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (#werundc).

Cheering Section

Typically, I’m the one running the race. But for this one, I was on the other side of things. And let me say, I honestly think spectating might be more exhausting than actually running.

  • Perfectionists making signs = lots of pressure. We spent over 2 hours brainstorming, googling, outlining, erasing, outlining again, taping, gluing & coloring signs the night before the race… some of which weren’t even seen until after the race.
  • Walking + Standing Still + Signs Overhead > Running? Not to take anything away from the amazing women that ran 13.1 miles (Amy, Bmass, E$$, Joan, Sally et al.), but spectating is exhausting. Please let it be known, that while exhausting, it’s worth every second.

Queen of Hearts

The costume of all costumes.

I love dressing up, looking silly, etc. at races — both while running & just cheering. But this weekend I took it to a whole ‘nother level. Amy was the (slutty?) Queen of Hearts for Halloween one year… but this year it was my turn. I knew I’d get a few laughs, but for a minute there, I forgot I was in our nation’s capital… AND that there were 15,000 people running.

Some highlights from the reactions I received:

  • 1 block from the house, before we even reached the Metro, a woman said, “I like your tutu.” That was only the beginning.
  • A guy helping with setup said to me, before the first runners came by, “Nice skirt. Are you wearing any underwear?” — That’s your question?! Of all the comments you could’ve made, you went with that? Oh, and when you’re wearing an outfit like that, it’s not underwear, dude. They’re panties. And yes, I was wearing them.
  • One of the 500 or so guys that were running, said, in his best Petey the blind kid voice, “Pretty girl.”
  • I was blown at least 2 kisses (that I’m aware of)
  • The cat calls were loud & consistent
  • One young lady put her handmade phone up to her ear and muttered, “Call me.” I think she might’ve been serious. She was hot, too.
  • Shortly after that, a man with a bright yellow vest & a whistle walked by, and T’d me up. Technical Foul. That was definitely a first.
  • One woman told me to work on filling it out (aka: get a boob job). Then some guy I just met 5 minutes earlier replied, “She’s working on it.”
  • I had more pictures taken than there are monuments in DC.
  • Another guy at the finish told me he saw me on the course, and laughed so hard he almost face-planted. No worries. He finished without a scrape on him.
  • Last but certainly not least, a woman at the finish just had to get a picture with me. She proceded to ask what I was wearing “under there.” I told her my typical boxer briefs. She then helped herself to lift up my skirt & take a peak. #cougartown

Making A Difference

One of the most important realizations I took away from the weekend was from the costume I wore, and the impact it had. I’m sharing it with you not to brag, nor looking for attention. I’m sharing it with you because it’s powerful. And you should all know that you can have the same impact on people (costume not necessary).

I expected a few laughs, a few more smiles, and perhaps a random high-five or two. But the reactions by thousands of women were overwhelming. Literally thousands of people smiled, laughed, cheered, fist-pumped, clapped, high-fived & even hugged… partly because of the costume I had on.

I knew none of these people. And I won’t ever see them again (except for maybe that girl who said to call her… if you’re reading this, hit me up in the comments, haha). But for those few short seconds — if only in a small way — I helped add something positive to their experience today. Whether you believe it or not, I’m telling you, that energy is contagious. I guarantee you more people did uplifting things today because of the positive energy that was created & shared.

It could’ve been any number of different costumes. A funny sign. The use of a stranger’s first name. A random high-five. Or just a smile that you share with a fellow runner.

These things matter. And when people drive home after a race, and their family & friends ask them “how was it?!”, they will undoubtedly say something positive, and say it with a smile. Thus, spreading more positive energy beyond the running community.

Which brings me to…

Friendship

I’ve said this before, and it’s worth repeating (because reminders are helpful). I haven’t done the greatest job of 1) keeping in touch with old friends, and 2) seizing the moment & hanging out with the friends I have right now. But I’m realizing more & more how important/awesome/necessary it is to do both.

I have some of the most awesome friends on the planet. Some of them I see regularly. Others, once or twice a year. And some we go years without seeing each other. But this world is filled with awesome people, and I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of really cool ones.

Remind your friends how awesome they are. When they ask you to hang out, drop what you’re doing and go chill for an hour… or a weekend. 99% of the time, it’s way more important than whatever else you were doing.

Awesome weekend, friends. Thanks for making it one to remember 🙂

(Unofficial) 2012 Richmond Marathon: Take Two

Well, here’s an idea. Run a marathon. Totally bomb your time, but have a blast doing it. Take three easy weeks off. Eat turkey. Eat more turkey. Then run the same exact course you ran three weeks ago, unsupported (sort of), to try & hit your goal time.

“Dude, sounds like a great idea. Let’s do it!”
– Me

I woke up at 5:00am this morning. Rested. No nerves. No worries. Just another Sunday run around one of the coolest cities on the East Coast.

Start time: 6:30. Broad & 7th. It was dark. Quiet, but not too quiet. Cold, but perfect running weather.

My goal was the same as it was 3 weeks ago. A 3 hour 30 minute marathon.

Finish time: 10:04. A 3:34:00 marathon.

I missed my goal… again. Failure, right? Wrong.

One of the things I love most about running, is that it changes my perspective. My perspective on life. On other people. On myself. And the world around me. My run today was no different.

I went into it with a 3:30, no excuses, no exceptions mentality. If nothing changed, today would have been a failure. But…

The truth is…

A 3:30 marathon is a really difficult time for me. I trained hard all summer, but it was undoubtedly going to be tough for me to maintain an 8:00/mi pace for 26.2 miles.

A 3:34 (all things considered) is a reflection of what I’m capable of. And above & beyond the 3:30 goal, that’s what today was really about.

A 3:34 shaves 12 minutes off my previous PR. And I don’t care who you are… that’s just cool.

My legs didn’t feel much better than they did 3 weeks ago. But my head was in the right place.

I had a random group of runners with a 7:30am running group cheer for me at the Huguenot Starbucks after my buddy, Marcos, told them what we were doing. Runners are runners. Strangers are friends.

At mile 23, if I maintained an 8:00/mi pace, I would have been right at 3:30/3:30+change.

Also at mile 23, my legs felt like poop. Without my friends, I might have walked. I’m proud of myself for pushing through, no matter what the pace was.

Friends don’t let friends drink & drive. Runners don’t let runners run alone. Oh, and friends don’t let runners drive after marathons (Thanks James).

On multiple occasions, we had cars stop at green lights to let us go. It was like the world communicated to them what we were doing, and they got the message loud & clear. I don’t care who/what you believe in, but that’s some powerful stuff. Awesome is as awesome does.

I have the best friends anyone could ask for. You could attend The Global Summit of Nice People International, pay a million bucks a head, and you still wouldn’t walk out of there with a better group of people.

I wish I would have talked to them a little more today (marathon delirium from 20 on). But there’s plenty of time to make up for that. That’s why man created Starbucks. It had nothing to do with coffee, I swear. OK, well, maybe a little. Caffeine’s a vitamin, right?

I joined MTT solely for the purpose of meeting new people, not for running a great marathon time. Perhaps it’s fitting that my MTT marathon three weeks ago wasn’t a great time, but the people I met during training were running beside me today. At its core, running is about health, happiness & community – not time, distance & PRs.

I wasn’t the only one who did something special this morning. Ginny Flynn, Leslie Buller, Kelly Casey, Denise Thomson (collectively known as the “Little Hotties”), James Minnix, Jennifer Selman, Ola Sopilnik, Marcos Torres & Cheryl Christensen did something even more special. They were there for me (when I desperately needed it). And more often than not, just being there is more than enough.

There was an article that went viral recently. It cited research that suggests… consistant endurance running and/or running over __ miles per week and/or running faster than ___ pace is bad for your heart, and could lead to heart complications & a shorter life. The truth is… if that’s the case… “Doc, I couldn’t think of a better way to go out.”

The truth is… in my lifetime, I’ll never believe that. There’s no amount of research, scientists & PhDs that will ever convince me not to run whatever pace – whatever distance – I want to run.

The truth is… one human heart is smarter than a million brilliant scientists. And it’s way more consistant than any researcher will ever be.

[random tangent about the human heart] – The friggin’ thing beats every single second of your life. Never stops. Never wavers. And it does it all by itself. Completely independent from everything else in your body. Heck, it even beats outside of your body… as if to say, “Yo doc. Put me back in. I ain’t done yet. This guy’s got more life to live.” [/end tangent]

I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people. And I couldn’t have asked for any better of a run than the run I had this morning.

2012 Richmond Marathon: A Different Kind of Race

Today was one of those days that caught me by surprise. It was a day where my race got flipped upside down, totally unexpected. Lucky for me… I love surprises. And this one turned out to be pretty special.

This past year, I’ve changed my approach to running. I abandoned my Garmin years ago because I was done obsessing over my time. I still carry a stopwatch, but half the time I don’t use that either. I have made an effort to replace numbers with people.

Marathon Training Team (MTT)

I signed up for the Marathon Training Team (MTT) because it guaranteed I’d be running with people. And all summer I met running buddies, friends and really cool, interesting people. I wasn’t concerned with how long it took me to run 5, 10 or even 20 miles. I just wanted to have fun doing it.

MTT > Fun

“Fun” is an understatement. MTT is so much more than that. My fellow (Wo)Mangos & I formed a team. We ran together. We tripped over sidewalks together. We shared stories & wore funny costumes together. We got injured (and recovered) together. We ran red lights, ate gummy bears, climbed hills & ran circles around the track.

Some of us still didn’t officially meet each other until the day of the race… but we shared so many of the same experiences. The greatest of which was running the Richmond Marathon… together.

A race goal that doesn’t involve numbers

The first half of the summer with MTT, I didn’t have a time goal. My goal was to meet some new people, and enjoy running with our group. As I started to get faster, naturally, I wondered what I could run Richmond in, if I really went for it. I realize this went against my new approach to running (all about fun, ignoring the numbers), but…

It feels good to PR

Doesn’t it? It makes us feel good about ourselves. And no matter how selfless we are, it’s human nature to feel a sense of accomplishment & self-worth.

I love to push my limits. Workout hard. See how much I can improve. Give it all I got & see what I’m made of. But you know what?

Some days you find out that your legs are made of Jello. And I’m OK with that. Not just because I love Jello (um, who doesn’t?). But because it’s OK not to hit your goal.

If we knew we’d hit every goal we set for ourselves, that’d make for a really boring journey, wouldn’t it?

There’s more to running than the numbers

When I think back to yesterday’s race… and how my legs crapped out at mile 10… and all the walking, stopping & pain that ensued for the next 2 hours… in a way, I got what I asked for.

For the past year, my approach to running was not about the numbers. And my legs reminded me – less than halfway into the race – that today wasn’t going to be about the numbers either. It was about the people. The experience. The community.

In the grand scheme of life, does 10, 20 or even 30 minutes difference in your marathon time really matter? 30 years from now, are we going to remember our fastest time or the funniest sign? Are we going to remember running solo to a new PR, or crossing the finish line with your friend by your side?

My point is this:

The experience is worth more than any combination of hours, minutes & seconds.

People made this race what it was. And it was the people that made the 2012 Richmond Marathon one of the most memorable races I have ever run.

I posted a separate write-up of all the amazing people who were a part of my journey.

The end of an era. Taking the “ultra” out of running.

My ultrarunning journey has come to an end. At least, for now. A single moment in the Finger Lakes Forest in up-state New York.

There are so many other things I can be ultra with. I don’t need to be an ultra-runner right now.

It’s OK just to be a runner. To run for 10 minutes. Run for an hour.

It’s OK to say no to GPS, and just wear a simple Timex. And it’s also OK not to use it—or run naked, as we call it.

I’ve always loved running for its simplicity, yet there has never been anything simple about running an ultramarathon.

  • you have to plan for everything, and pack tons of stuff just in case
  • figuring out how to stay hydrated has always been a nightmare for me
  • blisters on my feet
  • nipple chafing
  • expensive race fees
  • navigational challenges

The race that changed things

The Finger Lakes 50 in up-state NY changed the way I thought about ultrarunning.

I was running with my new friend, Jeff, from Niagara Falls, NY for a good portion of the 1st loop, and the beginning of the 2nd loop. It was when we separated 2/3 of the way through the 2nd loop where things started running through my head.

See, when you’re running with friends, you get caught in conversation. You concentrate on the topic at hand. In other words, you are distracted from the main activity you are doing — running. Just like being on the phone while driving.

But there isn’t always someone to talk to. And if all you’re looking for is engaging conversation, there are 6.5 billion people in the world & hundreds of thousands of Starbucks. You certainly don’t need 50+ miles to form, or improve upon, a friendship. (It does, however, make the story a bit more interesting)

The nagging question

So once again, I found myself alone, in the middle of the woods, legs burning, sweat dripping down my face, hopelessly swatting gnats, with a slight headache from dehydration. Nothing groundbreaking. This is standard for just about every ultramarathon out there. And once again I found myself asking the same question.

Why am I doing this?

I’ve never had a perfectly scripted, eloquently delivered answer to this question. Usually it was along the lines of, “because I love the experience” or “to see if I can do it” or “to test my limits & inspire others to do the same.”

I still can’t tell you exactly why I’ve been running ultras for the past few years, but I came to a life-changing realization out in the middle of the forest this weekend.

Tunnel vision

I’ve had tunnel vision with this goal to complete a 100 mile race. Somehow I convinced myself that it’s the only goal that matters. That until I complete it, I can’t move on with the next chapter of my life.

It’s like the 9-yr-old boy who wants to be Justin Bieber before he realizes all the stuff that comes with it. That’s his idol. He caught Bieber Fever, and nothing is going to stop him from living that lifestyle. Until…

…the fever breaks. (and yes, even Bieber Fever will eventually break)

Losing sight of goals

That’s pretty much what happened to me—with ultrarunning. I looked up to these guys completing insane acts of endurance, and I set out to achieve nothing short of the same. In fact, my over-achieving, perfectionist attitude had me believing I could one-up these guys. That I could do things even they couldn’t do.

But again… why?

I don’t have anything to prove – to myself, or anyone else. I don’t have to run 100 miles in order to say that I’ve accomplished something. I’ve already run more than twice as far as I ever thought I could. And I’ve even done that on 3 separate occasions.

The other stuff

This stubborn ignorance had me ignoring the other great parts of my life that are happening right now. I run my own successful business, and have for almost 2 years now. I just hired my first employee. I want to travel & explore the world. I’m moving downtown to begin creating the lifestyle that I’ve been aimlessly avoiding for the past 4 years.

I can be ultra in all of these areas. So I can leave the ultra out of running for now.

My future with ultrarunning

It was a little difficult when I first came to the decision to give it up. Anything you pour that much time & effort into, is naturally tough to walk away from. But in less than a week, I’ve come to terms with it.

I don’t know if I’ll do another ultra again. But right now, I’m just not thinking about it. I want to go back to the simplest, most pure form of running. Enjoy each run without worrying about hitting a certain mark or training for an upcoming race.

I can assure you, I still have an enormous amount of respect for the ultrarunning community. It’s an amazing group of people, with a ridiculously high level of determination & grit. Lots of interesting stories. Truly genuine folks.

I’ll still support my friends who run them. I might even run with them—for part of the race 😉

Happiness is

I sat down next to my parents after I quit the 50-miler 2/3 of the way through, and I’ll never forget what I said.

I’ve never been more excited to quit something in my entire life.

There were always bits & pieces of ultrarunning that made me happy. Little things that I enjoyed. But with something as demanding as an ultramarathon, there should be more than just a little. Ultimately, I wasn’t enjoying this enough for it to justify all the things it was depriving me from, not to mention the pain it put me through (each and every time, without fail).

I think I’ll be a happier person without ultrarunning. There will always be things I miss, but if I did everything that had some appeal to me… well… I’d need so many hours in a day you’d have to stop the Earth from rotating for a few years.

Here’s to the next chapter…

2011 Xterra 21k Trail – Race Report

“I want to be thoroughly used up when I die.”
– George Bernard Shaw

Phew! I didn’t realize I could run that fast.

This was the first race I can remember where I told myself going in, “Go all out & see what happens.” Realistically, if I pushed myself too hard, I could’ve bonked, and had to walk it in. Basically, I was operating under the all-or-nothing principle.

The Start

I started in a lead group with about 10 others. Since there was no chip timing, I really wanted an even start with the best of the best. It would also be nice not to weave through people on the single track. And I figured I would push myself harder if I ran with the leaders.

The Lead Pack

A lead pack of about 12 started to develop. After 4 or 5 minutes, I quickly realized I couldn’t hang with their pace. I was probably doing low 7:00s, but these guys were easily in the 6:00s. And they had it on cruise control.

I tucked myself into the back of that front group, and found a pace I was comfortable with.

The Ruins… didn’t ruin anything

The infamous Myan Ruins came early on (I think to everyone’s liking). If they made us climb those things in the latter part of the race… well, that would just be wrong.

I usually take them very slow, careful not to waste too much energy. I crawled up them pretty quickly, staying in control. 5 seconds of walking was still needed at the top, to quickly regroup.

Buttermilk

I’m no stranger to this part of the course. I’ve run Buttermilk more times than I can count. Some days have gone well. Others… not so much. But I knew the trail, it’s baby hills, turns, roots, rocks, and short but steep descents. I ran hard. I ran well.

The Internal Conversation (aka: Forest Hill Park loops)

Being the first race I’ve ever gone all out, my mind kept playing tricks on me. An internal conversation ensued. Confidence vs. Self-doubt.

Slow down. You’re going too fast.

Keep pushing. You’re faster than you think.

Keep drinking. Don’t get dehydrated. It’s ridiculously humid out here (That last part is 100% true. No bones about it.).

You got this. Legs feel good. No cramping. Keep doing what you’re doing.

For 6 miles, I went back and forth. Luckily, Confidence prevailed.

10k Support

Through Forest Hill, we started to see some of the 10k runners who started 30 minutes after us. They were incredibly supportive. And quite mobile, making every effort to get out of the way so I could pass. Thanks guys.

Rock Hoppin’ River Crossing

I probably lost a little time jumping rocks across the river. I navigated it well, taking the shortest path possible, but I put on the brakes just slightly. I was running a near perfect race so far, and the last thing I needed was to bite it on a slippery rock, or twist an ankle.

I even waited patiently for two 10kers to climb the ladder onto Belle Isle. My old racing self would have climbed the wall, but I’m glad I waited. It provided a brief rest, and it was the gentleman thing to do.

Belle Isle

It’s really more like a small mountain in my opinion, but you can call it what you want. Pretty much a straight shot up to the top, a few hundred yards across, and switchbacks right back down.

As soon as we came down, I knew precisely how far until the finish. And for the first time in a while, I looked down at my watch. 6 minutes left to break 1:40.

It was time to see what I had left in the tank.

Tank. Full.

How, I have no idea. Well, I’m sure adrenaline had something to do with it. And I knew there were no more hills, so it was game on to the finish.

Up the ramp to the footbridge, blinker on, get in the left lane, pedal to the floor. At this point, my breathing sounded like a 200lbs wild animal of some kind. My form might also have mimicked that of a wild animal, although I was trying to keep it together. Sometimes I just get too excited.

Home Stretch

Down the footbridge, onto Tredegar St, pedal still on the floor. I might have eased up just a bit for 10 seconds. I needed to make sure I had something for a sprint finish.

Smiling on the Inside

I had a look of pure anguish on my face. I usually throw my tongue out at this point too. Arms pumping. Lungs working overtime. Eyes squinting. I looked like absolute hell, but I was smiling on the inside.

The Finish

I blasted through the finish in 1:39:29 (a 7:37 pace). On that course, with those hills, and that humidity… very respectable.

12th overall, and actually 3rd in my age group. They gave me a medal. That’s never happened before.

Post-race

I saw a guy I recognized from last week’s 50k. We talked for a while. Real nice guy. From Montana. Going to school in Winchester, VA. Nice to meet you, Rob. Thanks for the conversation.

We stuck around to watch a few more friends finish. I stuffed my face with muffins, and devoured a dozen orange slices. Misting tent. Porta-potty. And lots and lots of deep breaths. Phew! That was awesome.

The Takeaway

I sit here now, 60+ ounces of water later, an ice bath, self-massage, cold shower, protein shake, and just flat out laid down for 30 minutes. And I feel good. Real good.

The human body is an incredible machine. If you treat it right… listen to it… give it what it tells you it needs, when it needs it… it’s capable of some pretty incredible things.

If you don’t believe me, please test it out. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you discover.

Low Dough Triathlon – Race Report

A quick recap of the 2nd annual Low Dough Triathlon, held at Robious Landing Park in Midlothian, VA. No entry fee. No t-shirts. No awards. No nothing.

Just a free triathlon experience, great for beginner triathletes & experts alike.

Last year, a few friends of mine hosted the first annual Low Dough Triathlon — no entry fee, no t-shirt, no awards, no nothing. Choose your own distance in each of the three disciplines. It was their way of providing an opportunity for Amy to get one triathlon under her belt before she raced a half ironman for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. What a great opportunity.

Today marked the 2nd annual Low Dough Tri. 8AM arrival at Robious Landing Park in Midlothian, VA. We would officially kick things off around 8:45.

It was as close to a real triathlon as you’ll get for no entry fee.

  • Dave manned a clipboard with everyone’s name, and checked after each transition to ensure we didn’t lose anyone
  • Course maps were distributed at the race start
  • We had a safety kayaker & turnaround buoys for the river swim
  • Transitions were setup in the parking lot (other than the bike locks, it looked somewhat like a true transition area)
  • Everyone had the co-race director’s cell phone numbers (OK, so this probably made it not like a real tri)

The Swim

Choose your own distance. There were 200m, 400m, 600m & 800m options. We even had 2 buoys to mark turnaround points, and a safety kayaker. After a group picture on the floating dock, Tom counted down from 3, and we were off. (I don’t even think half the swimmers heard him.)

With my bum hamstring, I only participated in the swim, and took off after it was finished. But here’s a quick take on the setup for the bike & run.

The Bike

There were 2 different courses. The long course was 7mi out & back, for a total of 14mi. You could do that once or twice.

The short course was a 3.5mi loop. You could do that up to 4 times.

There were some who only showed up to bike, and they were gracious enough to help the rest of us with the swim, and take some pictures. The 3.5mi loop was great for a few of the beginners training for their first sprint triathlon this Fall.

The Run

The run was a 1mi lollipop on a dirt trail that paralleled the river. Run it once. Run it 10 times. Whatever your legs desired.

Postrace

Tom had his boat, and rumor has it, there was some celebratory wakeboarding after the race. You can’t even get that with an entry fee.

Summary

What a great (inexpensive) opportunity to get a real triathlon experience, with some really great people. We had about 15 or so participants, and I hope to see that number grow each year. I also hope I can participate fully in the event next year.

If you’re in Richmond & would like to know more about this event, especially if you want to participate next year, just let me know. I’ll make sure you get the invite.

2010 Old Dominion 100 – Race Report

I set out to run 100 miles… and I didn’t even come close. This race marked my first ever DNF. I under-estimated the course & over-estimated my ability. I got completely dominated today. It was a humbling experience, and I gained an enormous about of respect for all the finishers.

If you’re interested in my pre-race interview, you can view it here.

Today I set out to run 100 miles… and I didn’t even come close. This race marked my first ever DNF.

I under-estimated the course & over-estimated my ability. I got completely dominated. It was a humbling experience, and I gained an enormous amount of respect for all the finishers.

Old Dominion Video Recap

Old Dominion Pictures

Update: Ryan finished in 22 hours, 20 minutes, and I waited until 2:30am to see him cross the finish line. Another buddy, Abe Moore, finally got a buckle in his third attempt, finishing in just over 20 hours. He was 4th overall. Great job guys.

2009 JFK 50 Miler – Race Report

This was my 2nd attempt at 50 miles. My goal was under 12 hours because that would qualify me for the Old Dominion 100 in June. I knew I could run it in under 12, but I wasn’t expecting to finish in under 9:40. Photos, video & course description.

Here’s the race report for my 2009 JFK 50-miler experience. Includes a written report & photos.

Jump to: JFK Photos •  JFK Course

JFK 50 Written Report

This was my first official 50-miler. I attempted an unofficial 50-miler at The North Face Endurance Challenge in 2008 during Tropical Storm Hanna, but quit at 40 miles.

I ran much faster than I had planned. About a year ago, I ran 50 miles in the 12 Hours of Momentum race in Goochland, VA in 11:45. I finished JFK in 9:38, shaving over 2 hours off my previous 50-mile time.

Shout outs: My parents, for driving down from Jersey to be my support crew. They had no idea what they were getting into. My buddy Ryan, who ran JFK last year, helped me with the course, and we ran the first 2 miles together. Then he took off because he’s much faster than I am.

The JFK 50-miler Course

The first 4-5 miles of the JFK course were all on road. We were climbing the mountain to get to the trail head. I walked a good portion of this section to save energy for later in the race.

Then we ran along the Appalachian Trail from ~miles 5-9. Mile 9 was the first big aid station. Some random spectator was giving out free hugs. I gladly accepted.

The Appalachian Trail continued until ~mile 16. This is where the trail (and some of the fun) ended. I love trails, and from this point on, I would see no more.

At mile 16 we got on the C&O Canal Towpath — aka, the longest, straightest, most boring crushed gravel road on the East Coast.

There was a stray dog that ran at least 10 miles with us. No one knew who he belonged to, until finally a runner offered to put him on a leash and take him to the next aid station, where his owner was supposedly waiting for him. This dog would have won the race if no one had stopped him.

At mile 25 I met a guy named Sean. He’s in the Marine Corps. We ran, talked & walked the next 6-7 miles together. It was great timing. We both needed someone to talk to at this point in the race.

My favorite part about the JFK 50-miler

Mile 34. Aid Station. The North Pole. It was classic. High schoolers dressed up as Elves. Candy canes & gumdrops for fuel. And of course, Santa. I didn’t sit on his lap, but I did get a picture with him.

Nearing the end

Mile 46. I saw my parents for the last time before the finish. I had an outside shot at breaking 9:30, and I think I pushed a little too hard, too soon. I ended up walking a good portion of the last 2-3 miles… and it hurt.

But I found it in me to sprint — as I typically do — the last hundred yards or so.

After The Race

I drove to Baltimore later that night, met up with a friend for a Thanksgiving feast, and went rock climbing Sunday morning. On Monday, my forearms were more sore than my legs were.

JFK 50-miler Photos

My Results

9:38:51 – a PR
313/1013 – overall
43/93 – M20-29

JFK 50-miler Video Report