Friday, December 28, 2007

Creative Giving
Do you need a new pair of shoes? Sneakers, loafers, heels, sandals, whatever? Of course you do. If you're like me, you need a new pair just about every month - I have so many of those little desiccant packets piled up in my apartment I could completely sandbag the Potomac's flow if I wanted...

...but enough about me, back to you and your needs - Do you also like to give to charity without actually giving away any of your money? (insert you nodding in agreement here).

Well then, have I got a deal for you. Follow any link on my site to and 17% of what you spend on that site will be sent to me and donated directly to Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Since I don't have any companies stepping up to help sponsor the Run 192 cause yet, I used a little creative thinking to arrange for this deal. Basically they pay a 17% sales commission to anyone who puts their logo/link on their blog. You just need to follow the link to their site from my blog for the credit to go to the Run 192 cause. It's that simple.

The additional good news is, is a fantastic site. I buy 90% of my running shoes from them already...they have so many great brands, and with no tax or shipping fees, it's almost impossible to find a better deal. Also, about once a month they offer a 20% off sale (I'll let everyone know when they come up), and when you combine that with all the other discounts on the site, you're paying waaaaay below store prices.

You runners out there should check out the deals on the Brooks, Asics, and Sauconys. I'll be sure to alert everyone when the 20% off sale for January kicks in (probably on MLK Jr. weekend), and you'll get yourself a killer deal while also giving to Cancer Research!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

2007 Year in Review

Now that 2007 is in the books, it's time for me to look back over my first full year as an ultra runner and see what I've learned. Here's a handy Top 10 list for your review:

The Idiots Guide to Ultra Running: What I learned in my first year

10) My right knee is a vengeful knee
This picture was taken at the finish line of my first 50 Miler. A sharp, constant pain in my right knee was a huge issue to deal with while training for/running this race, so I let it know how I felt about it...

...and this one was taken about 3 months later when ol' Righty's revenge forced me into surgery...I guess he had the last laugh. The jerk.

9) Marketing Guys Brainstorm Together
I do a lot of research on the various food/beverages out there for Ultra runners, and I've discovered that no matter what a product does, it will invariably be named something like "EnduraStride" or "Infiniti Fuel" or "ForeverAde". Apparently it's all about the name. Given that fact, I think the entire Ultra community can be sure it will never see an ad for "Slow Guy Ultra Gravy" in any industry magazine.

8) These Races Start Waaaaay Too Early in the Morning
I used to worry about getting quality sleep before a regular marathon. I'd always turn the lights out early but invariably toss and turn and fight to get a few hours of sleep. The good news is, all those worries are long gone in the 100 Mile world. You never have a chance to get any sleep at all before these things kick off, so it's useless to even try. The Vermont 100 started at 4 a.m.. This meant I had to get up at 3 a.m. - Here's what it looks like at 3 a.m. ...Good times.

7) Trails are Dirty
...but don't worry, the ladies think dirt/tan lines are really sexy....

6) Conversations Between Ultra Runners are Simply Not Normal
I learned early on that when a veteran ultra runner tells you something like "...but I only lost 6 toe nails, so it turned out to be a great race!", it's best to simply offer a silent nod of approval than to reply "SIX toe nails??? 'Great' race??? What the hell is wrong with you, man?!!".
Also, when you walk away, be sure to note that you should never borrow a pair of that guy's socks under any circumstances whatsoever.

5) Beer is an Official Recovery Beverage
After 50 or 100 miles of forcing down a dozen bottles of ForeverAde, you've never wanted a beer more in your life. Thankfully, most races have them in a cooler right there at the Finish Line!

4) You Need an Extremely Understanding Girlfriend/Wife
Just about every weekend you abandon your loving partner for a 30+ mile training run. Here's Elizabeth's last view of me every Saturday morning as I run out of our apartment...Don't worry, Honey, I'll do the dishes when I get back, I swear!

3) You Never Have to Worry About Crowded Races
Fed up with huge crowds on marathon courses? I was too...then I started running Ultras. Shortly thereafter I found myself talking to squirrels for company...

2) There's No Way to Thank Your Crew Enough

1) Finishing 100 Miles Feels Really Really Really Good

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Proof I'm not Crazy / Run 192 Update

To see how the popularity of 100 mile races is growing, one needs to look no further than the 2008 races that are currently selling out at Led Zeppelin Reunion speed.

Thanks to quick keyboard fingers I was able to gain entry into both of the two 100 Milers I was hoping to run in the spring. The Umstead 100 (North Carolina) sold out all of its 250 slots in two days (and has maxed out its waiting list too). The Massanutten Mountain 100 sold out in LESS THAN 2 HOURS, and currently has a waiting list of 88 people as well. I owe all the credit for getting into this race to Elizabeth who manned the computer while I was stuck in transit the morning registration opened. It's amazing to me that so many people want to get into a race that looks like THIS.

Some of the more popular races out west like Western States and Hardrock 100 have been forced to hold lotteries each year in order to make the entry process fair for the growing number of hopeful entrants. Western States, for example, just held its lottery and had 1,350 people apply for the 357 spots in the race. World-Class ultra runners such as Karl Meltzer and Tony Krupicka (two guys who would have easily finished Top 3 if not won the race) were among the unlucky ones who the Race Directors couldn't let into the race. When you have to turn away elite runners like this, you know you've got a popular race on your hands!

Given all of the above, I feel great about getting into my two spring 100s as they'll serve as crucial "training" runs for the 'Run 192' adventure in July. Speaking of the big run, I have confirmed the dates that I will be running the 192 mile PMC course: July 30-August 1. That's the Wednesday-Friday right before the PMC bike event which kicks off that weekend. I originally wanted to start running the day before the bikes so that I would finish at the roughly the same time as the riders that Sunday, but the PMC folks made it clear they don't want me on the course that weekend. C'est la vie. I certainly don't want to mess with a charity event that raised $33 Million this year, so I will gladly serve as the warm-up act a few days before the bikes hit the streets.

A few people have been asking about details of the run such as "Can I run a few miles with you?", and the answer to that is a resounding 'YES!'. I know running during the week might make that a little tougher for some people, but I will kindly remind anyone interested in running that I will be out there for about 55 consecutive hours, so there's plenty of time to catch up to me before/after the work day. As we get closer to the event, I'll come up with a semi-accurate timeline of where I anticipate I'll be on the course at any given time. Weather will be the biggest factor and my pace being slower/faster than I anticipate, so I'll do my best to check the weather before my final update the day before the run.

In the meantime, it's back to focusing on those two 100 milers in the spring. Umstead is up first on April 5...I'm hoping for a fast Top 5 finish in this one. More updates on this race and everything else I do to prep for 'Run 192' will keep coming all winter long...neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor crazy terrain will keep me from my appointed rounds next July!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Food, Footwear, and Fashion

Lots of folks ask me what I eat/wear while training every day. Here's a quick Holiday Season posting for those of you who have a runner on your shopping list and want to get them something useful....and by "useful" I mean something to help them run 100 miles. Obviously.

DISCLAIMER: I am not paid by any of these companies. I'm recommending their products simply because I've found them to be the best. Sure, I get free Carb Gel from CARBBOOM!, but that doesn't change my opinion of them at all. I think we can all agree they are the greatest group of people in the history of the world, regardless of their upcoming decision to extend my sponsorship into the 2008 year.

That said, I've separated my recommendations into 3 areas: Food, Shoes, and Clothing. Enjoy!


My regular diet isn't too restrictive in general. I just watch the amount of sugars I take in, and make sure to eat a ton of Whole Grains. Broccoli is easily the best vegetable out there (more Vitamin C than an orange), and a handful of raw baby spinach is great too. As long as I eat some of the above when I'm hungry, I never have a bad run the next day. The real key for endurance running is feeding your body what it needs DURING the long run.

Here's what works for me - Your liquid intake is obviously the most important element when you're out on your long runs. I generally skip the Gatorade/Powerade products for the most part. It's not that they're not great for replacing electrolytes, it's just that they have waaaay to much sugar in them. After a few hours of drinking all that sugar, your stomach will most certainly revolt...and no one likes to experience a Reversal of Fortune while running. Especially when you're in the middle of the woods and very very far away from the nearest toothbrush. I stick with mainly with a semi-underground product called Clip 2 which is made by a fellow ultra runner/scientist named Karl King in what I can only assume is some sort of secret cave/bunker in the mountains of Colorado. Am I certain this stuff isn't just 95% water mixed up with shredded programs from old Denver Broncos games? No, I am not. BUT, I do know it works - it combines the right mix of the nutrients you need to help your muscles repair themselves on the fly during long runs.

Clip 2 doesn't have enough electrolyte content for hot/humid days, so on those runs I'll keep sodium capsules handy in my running belt. I've had mixed results with various brands - some make my stomach upset - but the two best products out there are the S!Caps(also made by Karl King) and E-Caps made by Hammer Nutrition. Keeping your sodium/potassium up is essential on long runs. When those levels become depleted, your body loses it's ability to properly absorb and transfer the liquid you're drinking to the organs/muscles in need.

On long runs of 30+ miles, I usually have a bottle of chocolate flavored Ensure waiting for me somewhere along the route. It's great for runners for the same reason it's great for your grandma: it crams in more dense nutrients into 8oz than just about anything out there. Don't knock it until you've tried it at mile 65...the stuff is great. Just ask your Nana.

As soon as I get back from my daily run, I mix up a glass of Endurox R4, fruit punch flavor is the best. This stuff is so good for repairing hardworking muscles after a workout that Elizabeth calls it "The Clear" in reference to the Barry Bonds steroid of choice. I assure you it is 100% legal and safe, however. It has a great mix of vitamins (tons of Vitamin E) and a 4:1 carb:protein mix to help your muscles repair themselves after a run. Drinking it in the first 30 mins after a run is key since that's the time your body absorbs nutrients the fastest.

To cap off the Food portion of this list, I can honestly say the gels made by CARBBOOM! are with me on all of my long runs. I'll wash one down w/ water every 45 mins or so on runs up to 50 miles. In the Vermont 100, it was essentially the only thing my stomach could handle after that point, and it kept me moving along strong and steady for the last 50 miles. The Vanilla Orange flavor is my favorite, I highly recommend.


Everyone has different feet/strides/weight/pronation, so I can't recommend any one shoe for everyone. I've had success with Saucony (Hurricane) and Brooks (Trance) myself. My opinion of all the top running companies is if you're buying their top-of-the-Line running shoe, it's probably going to work for you. Some might not need as much cushion or support, but there's a reason why it's top of the line: It's the best they make. To keep costs down on these high-end shoes, I usually go to - They carry just about every running shoe out there, and about once a month they hold a 20% Off everything sale (including clearance). With no tax and free shipping, this is always the best way to go. To give you an example, I've picked up my last 2 pairs of Brooks Trance shoes, which retail at $129.99 for $72. You can't beat that.

When it comes to trail races, I try to find a shoe that I feel suits the specific terrain of that course. For trails with less rocks/roots to deal with (Like the Vermont and Umstead 100 milers), I've had success with the Brooks Adrenalin line. For more technical rocky runs (like the Massanutten 100 course), I recommend the Cascadia - sure, it looks like something a clown threw up after night of drinking, but the bottom of the shoe has something called a 'Ballistic Rock Shield' that really helps take the sting out of rocks and roots on a long run in the mountains.

No matter what the shoe I wear, I replace the factory insole with one from Sole. They make heat-moldable insoles for runners, hikers, and really anyone who wants to have a custom-molded sole in their shoe. I recommend these to people with all sorts of foot aches and pains, and they pretty much solve them all. I HIGHLY recommend checking out their site.

I'll include socks in this section and proudly say I've run every mile this past year (over 2,000) in Wright Socks. I should also mention I haven't had a single blister in that time. Is there any question that they make the best running socks?? The answer is no. That was a rhetorical question.


Ok, "fashion" is a term used loosely here since most lines of running apparel consist of short-shorts that would make NBA players in the 70s blush. I can say, however, that Sugoi makes the best shorts for running, and they also leave a little to the imagination when you wear them...Runners and spectators alike can appreciate that. In the last 9 years I've completed every one of my runs of 26.2 miles and beyond in Sugoi shorts and never had any chaffing issues, etc...This is a good thing.

Just about everyone out there makes a 'moisture wicking' line of shirts, and just about all of them are the same. I recommend the ones with the fewest/less noticeable seam lines on the inside to reduce friction burns. Sugoi, Brooks, Saucony all make good ones. In the winter you definitely want to wear a long-sleeve top of the thicker synthetic or "technical" material. Depending on how cold it is when you run, you'll need to find the level of warmth that works best for you. Under Armour puts out about 100 types of these shirts, but you can usually save some $$ by just picking up whatever 'Cold Weather' shirts are on sale - I've found that the brand really doesn't make too much of a difference when you're talking about the same synthetic materials anyway.

One Under Armour product I do highly recommend is their line of sunglasses. They have the best glasses for running I've ever used. Both light-weight and fixed with non-slip rubber on the nose and ear stems. No matter how sweaty you get or how bumpy the trails are, these babies don't move a millimeter.

I'll end this post with one last item which is perfect for folks who have to run long distances in hot sunny weather. The Sun Runner Cap by OR has literally saved me from passing out on the side of the road 3 or 4 times this year alone. Usually hats make me too hot when I run, but when the sun is really beating down, it's a better trade off to cover your head/neck from the direct sunlight. This hat is great because its lighter-than-light material dries super quick, and the neck portion can just snap on/off as you need it while you're running. Sure, you look a little odd to most people when you're out there running 30 miles in it, but since most people can't run 30 miles anyway, why should you care what they think?!

That's it for now...Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The "I" Factor

I've mentioned in previous posts about how training for ultras involves equal parts mental and physical training. Well, I forgot about the most important part, the "Third Half" of training, if you will:


We all find Inspiration in our own ways, and back when I was training for my very first marathon in college, this video of Billy Mills competing at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games turned my inspiration knob to '11'. When I stumble upon "Chill-Factor" Inspiration like this, I'm filled with the kind of energy and motivation that makes me want to strap on my shoes and run for hours on end. We all need something to get our butt off the couch every day to train when we're tired and sore, and this video certainly did the trick for me.

Here's a little background on the race:

No American had ever won the 10,000 meter race in the Olympics (and no one has since). Billy Mills' qualifying time was almost a full minute slower than the favorite's, Australia's Ron Clarke. The pre-race media coverage focused on Clarke and his expected duel with Mohammad Gammoudi of Tunisia. Mills went largely un-noticed, mostly because the field for the final included many Olympic Gold Medalists and world record holders. The video is grainy, but once the race starts you can follow the action by listening to the announcer rather than trying to read the runners numbers, etc. My favorite part is the pure shock/joy of the color commentator when Mills makes his move at the end: "Look at Mills! Look at Mills!". Chills, anyone? I love it!!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Mental Training

Lots of people ask how someone goes about training for a 100+ mile race. My thoughts on this are quite simple: You need to place equal value on both your physical and mental training. Everyone is different, but the best way I've found success in my training is to take a goal that may seem a little crazy at first (for example, the thought of running 30 miles by yourself on a Saturday morning), and repeat it enough times that it simply becomes the normal routine (eventually you find yourself run 30 miles with ease every Saturday).

Once you break through that mental wall of running 30 (or 50 or 100) miles the first time, you've taught yourself that it's not only achievable, but the more times you do it, the easier it will become. ...and everyone likes to go for easy runs, right? It's that simple.

Here's a current example of me applying this training method:

This spring I'll be running two 100 mile races as part of my 'Run 192' training. One of these races, the Massanutten Mountain 100 miler, qualified as "a little crazy" to me the first time I examined the course. Simply put, this is a 101.8 mile race over the worst possible footing I've ever seen. It's not that the rocks on this course are the biggest I've seen- it's actually quite the opposite: The majority of the course looks like someone took a normal hiking trail with large boulders and trees and then put them in a blender. Simply put, there are so many loose/jagged/annoying rocks on this course that if you try to pick your head up to enjoy the beautiful nature around you while running, you will quickly realize your face does not make the best braking device while sliding down the side of the mountain.

When you combine those trail conditions with the nearly 20,000 feet of elevation gain over the course, this race certainly requires special training to go from "crazy" to "normal" in my mind. That said, my training plan to prepare for this race is essentially the same training plan for someone attempting to run their first 10k road race: Get out on there and run the terrain often enough to make it the usual, comfortable routine.

To date I've made 4 training trips to run portions of the Massanutten course (I've run about 40 miles of the course thus far). That initial "No Way!" mental reaction I had when seeing the terrain for the first time has since been lowered to more of a "This isn't so bad, as long as I run in a football helmet" level of thought. After a few more trips out there, I'll have my brain drinking the "I LOVE this trail!" Kool-Aid completely.'s that simple! Now get out there and run!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

...Leading the Blind

Now that the calendar has struck November, I'm reminded of a special moment I experienced while volunteering at the JFK 50 Mile run last November in Maryland. Since I had injured my knee earlier in the year and couldn't run, I was happy to return the favor to so many volunteers who have helped me in the races I've run over the years. When I arrived on race day, the Race Director asked me to find a good spot to help direct the runners in the final 2 miles of the course. This area is where the course leaves the safety of the woods/trails and enters the traffic-filled streets of Boonsboro, MD. I walked up from the finishing area and found a perfect spot - at about mile 48.5- where it looked like the runners might need my help. For about 45 minutes I anxiously awaited their arrival...

It was a chilly day (40s) and I was standing out there by myself, but once the runners appeared, my cold and boredom were quickly replaced with excitement and words of encouragement for the runners. It's always fun to tell one runner:

"He's about 200 yards behind've got him!"

...and then tell the guy behind him:

"You're only 150 yards can catch him, he's looking tired!".

I was certainly enjoying myself out there when I saw a pack of runners wearing Navy t-shirts approach. As I cheered them on, one of them said something to me and motioned to a guy running just behind their pack. I didn't hear what he said, but when I looked back to cheer on that runner, I was startled to see him almost run into me (the course was about 10-feet wide at that spot, marked by orange cones, and I was standing on the *outside* of the cones). I jumped out of the way and heard him say "Where's the course??" as he ran by. I pointed right in front of him down the street which was lined with so many cones it looked like an airport runway. Clearly something was wrong with this guy.

I watched as he made his way down the hill trying to figure out what just happened. Was this guy just tired and confused after 48.5 miles of running? How could he have not seen all these cones and the group of Navy runners just a few yards in front of him? Then, as I watched him weave back and forth inside the cones just a few feet from oncoming traffic, my brain finally deciphered what it was that Navy runner was trying to tell me: This guy couldn't see!

Fearing for his safety (and more importantly, as a fellow runner, fearing for him being pulled off the course by a race official before he finished), I sprinted down the hill to catch up to him. When I pulled up beside him I asked him directly - "Hey buddy, can you see?!"

He proceeded to tell me that his contact lenses had basically fused to his eyes over the first 40+ miles and he could only make out shadows and large images at this point (This was probably a result of the combination of cold, dry weather and dehydration). He was trying to keep up with the Navy guys, but when they pulled away he was left to navigate these last couple miles of dangerous city roads
on his own. As we talked I realized the real crime was this guy was actually still running a *great* race (about 40th overall out of 1,000 runners!). Ignoring the pain in my own knee, I knew I needed to do two things to make sure he finished this race: 1) Make sure he didn't get pulled from the race by an official, and 2) Make sure he didn't get pulled from the race by an ambulance after being flatted by an 18-wheeler.

I told him to take my arm as we covered the final sections of the course. I steered him around pot-holes and drains and told him when to let go of my arm as we passed any official-looking race monitors (it's not legal to "aid" another runner like that). In the final stretch I asked him if he wanted to pick up the pace and finish with a semi-sprint (he did!) so we crossed the line in a flash as I counted down the yards for him ("50 yards to go....25 yards...10 yards...and STOP!").

Once we crossed the finish I quickly found the medical people and let them know this poor guy's situation. We shook hands at that point and I made my way back up the course to help direct the rest of the runners (thankfully, there were no more emergencies during the rest of the day).

....Now that I know some of the crazy things they do for runners, I'll surely appreciate every race volunteer even more!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Details about 'RUN 192'

From July 30-August 1, 2008 I'll be participating in my own personal version of the PanMassChallenge from Sturbridge to Provincetown, MA. The PMC is an annual bike ride that began way back in 1977 to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Since its inception, this event has raised more than $200 million for DFCI. Not to shabby, eh?

Being cancer-free for 3+ years now, there's no question I owe my life to DFCI...but since I don't own a bike (and I'm a little crazy), I'm attempting to become the first person to RUN the entire 192 mile PMC course from start to finish. Yes, on foot...and yes, non-stop.

For safety reasons, the PMC organizers don't want me on the course at the same time as the cyclists, so I'll start my run three days before them on Wednesday, July 30. From there I'll run through 2 days and nights in order to finish in P-Town sometime on Friday, August 1. I figure it'll take me 50 hours or so, depending on the weather.

That said, I've got some work to do in the next 10 months to get ready for these 192 miles of smiles on the roads of Massachusetts. I'll be posting regularly on this blog during my training (there will be tales of other races mixed in before the PMC as well - including two 100 milers). I'll also be looking to see if anyone in MA would like to join up with me and run some portions of the course to keep me company.

...and of course, I'll be begging and pleading with various companies to help sponsor me in any and every possible way. If anyone has any leads/contacts, let me know! I don't care if I look like a NASCAR trailer out there during this run...the more logos I have on me, the more money DFCI gets! For those of you who would like to donate directly to Dana Farber to support this run, you can follow this link to the RUN 192 Donation Page. Thank you!

See you on the way to Provincetown!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Maine (Double) Marathon Race Report

My trip to Portland, Maine this October was special for a couple reasons. First, it marked the end of my ultra racing season for 2007 (!!!), but more importantly it was the first time I had the chance to run a marathon with my cousin Erin. She's a 19 year-old college student who ran Boston this past April as her first marathon. Since she had to bandit that race to get in, this would be her first "official" 26.2 mile haul. To close out 2007 in style myself, I decided I would wake up early (2:30 a.m.) and run the marathon course first all by myself. After which I would meet up with Erin back at the starting line and run it all over again with everyone else in the real race. Nothing like covering 52.4 miles before noon on a Sunday morning!

One other special note about this race: When I checked my registration on-line a few weeks prior to the race, I saw I had been assigned the bib number '666'. Talk about good luck, right? I figured that number was something they just didn't give out, sort of like the 13th floor in a hotel or something.....but hey, since that was my number, I might as well have fun with it. It took a little effort, but Elizabeth tracked down some easy-to-run-with devil horns for me to wear during the marathon, so we packed them up and headed north to run the race with style.

After a nice dinner the night before the race (9 family members made the trip!), we headed back to our hotels to get some sleep. I finally nodded off around Midnight, and my usual pre-run excitement actually woke me up before my alarm at 2:20 a.m.. The first thing I checked was the weather since it was raining pretty steadily when I fell asleep, but luck was definitely on my side as I saw nothing but smooth puddles outside the window. On my way through the hotel lobby, I saw a group of drunken girls coming in from a night out...just as I thought we couldn't be more opposite in our 2:30 a.m. goals, I noticed one of the girls was wearing the *exact* same pair of Devil Horns I brought with me for my run. I guess we weren't so different after all.

As I stepped outside and made the 1 mile walk to the starting line, I was happy to feel that it was warmer than I anticipated (probably about 55 degrees). When I arrived at the starting line, I geared up with both my fuel belt and hand-bottle since I would need to self-support my first 26.2 miles. With no sun and cool temps, I knew the 62 oz. of fluid would be plenty to get me through the first marathon. Before starting out, I noticed a guy sitting in his car guarding the start-line equipment which had been set up the day before. We shared this conversation:

Him: "You're here early"
Me: "I'm actually running the course twice"
Him: "Oh, that's nice. How long of a race is it, 4 miles?"
Me: "Something like that...have a good morning!"

...and with that I was off. The first couple miles of the race were a half-circle loop around the Back Cove, and by the time you get 1/2 way around you're treated to a nice view back on the city lights of Portland - well, this is your view if you're running it at 3 a.m. anyway. This section of the course is also fairly well lit with street lamps, so while I still had my headlamp on I really didn't need it. After 3 or 4 miles I was warm enough to take off my long-sleeve top and gloves as I settled into my pace. The marathon course is an out-and-back which, aside from a couple side streets to add mileage, essentially runs north and south on Rt. 88...the only thing that made things a little rough for me on the way out was a fairly strong head-wind that was blowing in the new weather front after the rain. Not only did I feel this wind, but my headlamp allowed me to 'see' it as well as its beams illuminated the mist blowing directly into my face up until the turn-around point at mile 13. Aside from the occasional check of my map and extra skip in my step when I ran by a fox and/or skunk in the street, I just kept my head down and powered through the turn-around point at a steady clip to get that wind working in my favor.

On the way back to Portland I was comfortably cruising along with the wind at my back and a smile on my face. One thing I did notice was all of that wind had blown in some much colder weather (definitely 10 degrees colder than when I started). With about 3 miles to go I started seeing my first signs of human life - trucks were dropping off the tables and water for the aid stations - and the horizon was bright enough for me to turn off my headlamp. I crossed the finish line with my GPS watch reading exactly 26.2 miles (always nice to know the course it accurate) and my time being 4:12. I hadn't looked at my pace the entire run since I wasn't worried about time at all. I just ran a comfortable pace knowing I had another 26.2 to run with my cousin as soon as I finished the first one. After grabbing some food and filling up my bottles, I met up with Erin and her mom (my aunt) Betsy at the starting area. Erin was a little nervous, and I was feeling a little stomach problem coming on (wrong food mix, apparently), so we both took comfort in our decision to just be happy to run a comfortable pace regardless of our finishing time.

When the gun went off we were at the very back of the pack (something like 1000 marathoners and 1500 1/2 marathoners started), but we steadily moved our way up through the crowd. It was fun running and talking with Erin for the first ten miles or so, but right around then I really needed to hit a porta-potty. Little did I know once I stopped off to deal with my stomach I wouldn't see Erin again until the finish. Her planned goals for the race were to break 4 hours and win her age group...and while I was dealing with my stomach, she was tearing up the course to the tune of a 3:53 finish which broke the all-time course record for the 19-under age group!!

Here she is with her Age-Group Champion award! I couldn't be prouder.

Meanwhile, back on the course, I finally rebounded from my bout with the evil banana and found my stride again around mile 18 (44 for me) or so. Once I got back to smiling and chatting with other runners I felt comfortable again on the road. The sun was shining brightly on a now beautiful New England fall day, and I was having a lot of fun hamming it up for the fans who were commenting on my Devil ensemble as I ran by.

The official race photographer snapped off this photo of me with about 100 yards to go in the race. It's always nice to act like an idiot during a run. Just after passing the photographer I heard the announcer talking over the PA as I approached the finish line. He must have just finished telling the crowd that I was out there running the double because he said, "Speak of the Devil! Here comes #666, Dan Rose!". That made me smile since I didn't think anyone knew I was running the course twice (turns out my old man told him a few minutes earlier). I crossed the line and happily met up with my family (and the food table), and found out the great news about Erin's successful run.

My watch read 52.67 miles which proves that when you're forced to stay on one side of the road on a course it adds milage (.27 in this case) to any course that was measured using the middle of the road as the reference point (since there were no cars out in my first run, I pretty much ran in the middle of the road and finished with the accurate 26.2 mile distance on my watch). When you take out that extra extra effort, I was quite happy to see my finishing time for my second marathon of the morning was EXACTLY the same as my first go around. Sure, it would have been a lot faster if I didn't have to stop 3x at the porta-potties, but I am more than happy with my even-split pace. I'll be training this off-season to keep that same pace (9:30/mile) over 100 miles so I can place in the Top 5 at the Umstead 100 on April 5, 2008. Stay tuned for more on that story!

Here are the happy runners at the finish!