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!