late summer 2017 update

road ahead is not for everyone

It’s been a tough 2017 as far as running goes. I’ve had to adjust expectations and goals as my body is having a hard time keeping up. As I’m pushing 50 my recovery times are longer and various pains have start to set in. I’m not as fast, not as nimble etc.

But I’m still on my feet and I have a ways to go before I give up on running altogether. There’s still some hope I might bounce back and have a couple good years ahead. In the mean time I’m hiking more, doing yoga, stretch and strength every day and enjoying that more than I thought I would. In some ways this rest period has made me stronger. I’m not as tired and ragged.

Iceland was great. I would like to go back sometime. More off trail back country hiking/running would be nice. I also might try to get to Greenland for some trekking at some point.

Race calendar has the Barkley Fall Classic next month, not sure about that one. Racing has increasingly become less important lately. I enjoy hanging with fellow running buddies here and there, but I’ll always at my core be a solo runner.


50-50-50 project, maybe

I’ve had this little project knocking around in my head for about a year and it’s one of those things that is fun (for me) to dream about and half plan for.  A lot has to fall into place life and job wise, but I’ve come to a point where I’m realizing this has a chance of happening.

The idea

It’s simple enough of a concept on paper; Travel all the 50 states and run all the things within one year, finishing up on my 50th birthday. April 21st 2019. Now I’m not one to derive much significance from sequences of round numbers and granted there’s a bit of fudging involved anyway with 52 weeks in the year and whether I count the continental 48 or all 50 with Alaska and Hawaii, but I like the simple title.

The plan so far

The how, where and what of it all is up in the air but I’ve started compiling some thoughts. I’ll have a rough route planned out and some main goals. For now it’s just nice to come up with things to do on a year long trip. One thing I’m leaning towards is flying to Alaska and then Hawaii at the end of it all. Seems only fair to stop the journey on a warm sandy beach with a drink in my hand.

-I’ll hopefully keep posting updates about this.
-I’m still a little injured at the moment, pretty bummed.
-Only a few days to the three sisters ultra festival, year two. Hopefully I can make it back in time to join the relay team I signed up for.

New Year with a Bang – Pistol 100

100 miles!

After running the 50K a few times I finally got the chance to get the Pistol 100 done.

Key points:
-First time under 24 hours
-Injury free going into and coming out of (I think)
-A great way to celebrate the new year
-Good learning experience for future races
-My first time with a pacer, odd for me but fun

Pistol Race
Such a great event. There are reasons why it draws people from all over. I think local runners are in the minority, which is a unique thing. It’s a fast course with a lot of support and easy access. The weather was mostly cooperative, the rain stayed a nice drizzle most of the time and it wasn’t too cold.

Training has been going ok of late. This is the first winter in years where I’ve been injury free and not sidelined. Consistency has been the mantra (Thanks Karl) and I’ve been ok trying to follow that, minus the Christmas holidays of course. I think the main prep for this race was incorporating some walking into my training. Walking with a purpose and with some speed (15min/miles) really helped.

Mile 0-50
Ran with Kathy and Tony the first half. I thought it wise to stay with the veterans of ultrarunning. They know what they’re doing! It was a nice 10 hours of chat, silence, making fun etc. There were a few stops here and there for some New Years Eve sips. The pace was slower than I personally planned but I wasn’t bothered.

Mile 50-75
Jacob came along for the ride and since I was feeling pretty good at this point we pulled ahead and “pushed the pace” for a couple of laps. It was nice having some strength in the body after 10 hours. I felt a little odd leaving K and TO behind but had to at least try to push towards my original goal.

At around 70 Jacob ran ahead and got me a coffee from a gas station nearby. That was a nice treat right when I needed it.

New years hit around mile 75 right after leaving the Woody aid station. It was raining and somewhat miserable at this point. We missed the ball drop at the start/finish, Jacob face-timed/skyped with his wife cheering us on. Another year in the books. I was running out of gas. My push after the halfway mark lasted about 20 miles. It was all a slog from here on out I knew. The possibility of sub 20 was long gone, so my secondary goals kicked in. Sub 22, 23? Possible. But only if I could trick my body into running more.

Mile 75-100
But no, my body would not let me run! Damned body. It just was not happening. I would try to stride for 5 or so minutes, hoping the body would loosen up. But nope. Walking was the only way I was finishing this. So sub 24 became the realistic end game. Still not bad. We were silent much of the last lap, it was getting things done time. I was still in good spirits though with the end in sight. I felt especially good because my body was holding up ok. I didn’t feel any long term damage being done, or any old injuries popping up. I was just stiff as a board and starting to swell in the legs and feet. The rain and cold were finally getting to me too.

We almost managed to beat the sunrise. The finish was pretty anti-climactic, walking over the line with Jacob, picking up my booty, then leaving the venue behind. I wanted nothing more than to warm up and lay down for some sleep.

It’s now 2 weeks since the race. The body is recovering OK. There’s some random soreness, and the knees are still rickety. I took a whole week off afterward. Now I’m upping the miles slowly. 20+ this week. Hopefully, the training wheels will be off in a couple more weeks and it’s back to normal. I’ll be hitting the trails big time shortly.

Future stuff
I still think a sub 20 is doable with the right training and circumstances. Gotta shoot for the stars! Maybe Tunnel Hill. Maybe even Pistol again.

Up next:
Music City Ultra – 50K
Georgia Death Race – 70Miles

Barkley Fall Classic #3 – the snooze

Crack of dawn before the cigarette is lit

I laid down on my back in the grass and looked up at the sky. Clouds floating by. I was tired. The pros and cons of continuing tossing around in my head. Then I let it go. I closed my eyes and snoozed for awhile. Laz could have his silly race. Today I made my own rules. Drifting in and out of sleep, runners trudging by me up Rat Jaw. Some asking if I was OK. Thumbs up. Just resting.

A few minutes earlier I witnessed someone blanking out, white faced and unresponsive, eyes rolling back into his skull. I slapped his face, asked him his name, tried to get his pulse. Another guy started blowing his whistle. Just as I was trying to remember CPR basics he snapped out. A minute later he continued on up the hill. You got to admire the pigheaded tenacity of some of us runners.

Mayhem grew around me as time drifted by. Runners wobbling. Emergency crew were walking up and down the hill helping people off the course. I overheard a couple a few yards away taking a break, talking about disappointment. So much training, so much hard work. And still not enough to finish the race. “I guess we’re just not good enough.” My heart sank a little. Bumping up against limits. Not easy.

I made sure to wait until the cutoff passed. I got up and brushed myself off. I still had to get off this hill in the middle of nowhere. I climbed, walked, then jogged the last 4 miles. I passed Laz sitting slumped in his chair. Ultra runner turned ultra race director. He had no energy left for his usual quips.

I made it in. The streak was dead. 2 full finishes and now 1 marathon. No regrets. Streaks like this are for bad-asses like Tony, Kathy and Leonard. I’m just a part time bad ass who likes to take naps.

cloudventure – shoe review

fancy bright colors

I bought these shoes on a whim online. Buying without trying usually results in a returned pair of shoes but I got lucky this go around. With 300 miles of running and back packing through mud and snow, both on and off trail I have to say I’m impressed.


Cloudventure trail shoe from “On”
Price: $149.99
Mileage so far: 300 miles

don’t step on the turtles!!!

The good

Comfortable fit

Probably the hardest to get right. Every foot is different and there are only so many shoe shapes/size combinations on the shelf. Through trial and error I’ve found New Balance to be the best fit brand for me. But this particular shoe is a very close second. I prefer wider toe boxes and this one falls in line with that. Not as wide as an Altra, but also not as narrow as an Inov-8 or HOKA.

Good Traction

I’ve used them on every surface imaginable, on trail and off, mud, rain, and snow. I’ve also done some hiking in light to heavy backpacks. Although the extra weight on my back did lead to an increase in vertical heel movement I didn’t get any blisters. Traction was good on mud, steep inclines as well as snow. The shoe increased my confidence. I have other shoes I tend to slow down in and hesitate in due to potential slipping etc.

Solid Construction

These are very solidly made and I expect them to last a long time. I’ve put about 300 miles on them so far and there’s little to no sign of wear. Some of the lugs on the front have rubbed down about 30%, nothing major. I’ve not noticed any breakdown in the sole. And the shoe still looks as good as new. Once you clean off all the mud that is.


synonymous with “quality”

Lacing system

This was a big surprise. I was expecting the thin and hard laces to be a pain to deal with but they are solid. No double knots necessary. I’ve lived with thick and stretchy laces my whole life, so had to unlearn that tiny bias. The lacing cinches up real tight along the whole forefoot, not just at the top where you pull.

skinny laces work surprisingly well


The ON website shows a ton of choices for both road and trail. There are plenty of color selections as well. I’ll be trying a pair of road shoes next. They also have a line of apparel clothing. Some interesting design choices here, the price is a bit steep though.

The so-so


“Cloud technology”

These pillow looking things on the bottom seem very gimmicky. There’s the possibility they are providing some added traction without me realizing it, because I can’t really tell if they do much of anything. It does give them a distinct look though so from a branding standpoint I think it makes sense. It’s hard to differentiate oneself in the running shoe market these days, so having an interesting hook with customers is important. Personally I don’t need these types of features, they are normally a turn off. Luckily everything else about the shoe is great, so I’ll give them a pass.


This is a more cushioned shoe than I’m used to. They fall somewhere in between a pillowy Hoka and a minimal NB110. I like them in my rotation of shoes and have to make sure I don’t exclusively use them. This is a very personal preference of course. Not many are as minimal focused as I am.


The not so great


Due to the sturdy and durable construction there’s a bit of a weight trade off to make. The website says 10.1oz, but they feel more like 11 or even 12oz. I can feel this extra weight after a few hours of running. Not a big deal. It’s just noticeable. The construction also contributes to locking in some heat on hot days and some moisture on wet days. They don’t dry out as quickly as some other shoes, but it’s not a huge problem.


At $150 the Cloudventure is on the more pricey end of the scale. I’ve never bought more expensive shoes. Luckily they have a wide range of models to choose from with varying prices. And I give them a pass as it’s looking like these shoes are going to be good for 1,000+ miles.


Overall I’m very happy with this shoe and will likely buy another pair soon.

I’ll give it a totally subjective and arbitrary score of 95/100.

good grip on snow


After thoughts:

– So happy fall is finally here, it’s been a scorcher of a summer.

holston river endurance run

Another buckle!

bronze buckle for the 36 hour hundo runners

Woop! Well that was a long time in the making. I don’t have many 100 mile races in me per year apparently. Either that or I’m just easing into them at my normal leisurely pace. In a decade I’ll be running one a week.

First half

Hit the 50 mile mark around 12 hours at a leisurely pace. Was feeling pretty good throughout the night. We had a small shower in the evening and the night was bearable. Dawn on the first day came and it looked like smooth sailing.

Second half

An old injury popped in my knee a couple hours after sunrise. I haven’t been visited by this old friend in a couple of years. Anyway, I jogged lightly and walked a bit to re-assess the situation. I figured it was manageable. So I set out to get the job done without getting any permanent damage going. The heat of the day was pounding down, I took many breaks, slept here and there. Into night 2 I was mostly just walking. Around 3AM I thought I’d test out the old knee and went out hard for a few laps. I could feel the stress in the knee building up so I went back to walking. It was encouraging in some sense knowing I could knock out some speed even after 30 hours on the course.

Thanks to the usual suspects for encouragement, and to Misty and Edwin for walking several laps in the late hours.

Extra thoughts

Back next year? Hmm, not sure. It’s a tough loop in the heat. Maybe a shorter distance.


summer 2016


plodding and stumbling and shuffling and crawling…

The winter doldrums of 2016 took longer to shake off, with a knee injury and the hit in motivation that entailed. Some professional therapy and a shift in my running gait means things have been on the up and up for the last couple of months. One day at a time.

Pistol 55k

This was my third time running the 50k/55k. It’s just one of those events you can’t miss out on if you live in the area. We are lucky to have Will and his crew organizing such a quality event. This also by the way marks at least the second time I’ve dropped down to the 50k. There’s a theme here for me. Better luck next year. Yes, I’ll sign up for the 100 again, fingers crossed.

Three Sisters Ultra Festival

Ran this fun loop course in Maryville set up by your friendly neighborhood bad-ass runners Kathy, Tony and Leah. I had a surprisingly good day pushing towards 60 miles for the 12(13hr) race. A couple of local bands played good americana and bluegrass type music. Besides the nice spread and ample supply of adult beverages the home roasted coffee was a nice cap on a fun day.

Trail Series Races

I got asked to help out with the local trail series organized by the Knoxville Track Club. Treadin Troddin Tails. Luckily they’ve not given me anything important to mess up yet. It’s a nice group of level headed local runners. The series is fun and attracts a wide level of experiences, a great introduction to running on trails.

Knoxville Marathon (Covenant Health Marathon)

Third time running this marathon. This time was a little different as I was pacing the 4:00 hour. Trying to keep an even pace was a good experience. Kathy and Billy were good fellow pacers keeping things fun. It felt much like a long training run. It was odd not finishing with anyone, I passed many and had a few folks follow along for some miles. But they all trailed off at some point. Knoxville isn’t the easiest of road marathons. The climbs and rolling hills start adding up after awhile.

Race Under the Stars

A 10 hour event loop course on Oak Ridge city park. This was more spur of the moment and I ended up sleeping in the car for 4 hours. The day was just too filled up for me to handle. Happens all the time. My nick name should be “Napster.” Other than that the usual suspects were out + the random people I’ve never seen before. The flat timed events attract a slightly different breed of runner. There is a similar race later in the summer I may sign up for. Not sure why I keep doing these, must like them on some level. Nothing beats the mountains though.


Always a good experience to run in different places. Technically they speak English here although that could be debated. Running the West Highland Way was a highlight although I cut it short at about 50 miles and called it good for now. My body was not cooperating and ran out of gas early on. Some more manageable day hikes and runs in the mountains were on the menu for the rest of the trip. Overall a great two weeks away from the stress.

Back to the South

Back to the heat, the humidity, the forests, the lakes, the smokey mountains. Good times.

Odds and ends

-Finally signed up for Strava. Much better than Garmin Connect.
-Seems everyone is getting a coach these days?
-Have a ton of new shoes and other equipment I may or may not share some thoughts on.
-Ran without a watch for a few months thinking it would be helpful to get away from technology. Turns out it just made me slower…



Barkley Fall Classic x2 (ouch again)

The second time “running” the Barkley Fall Classic is a wrap. It was a surprisingly tough slog this year. I felt fairly confident of my fitness, but on the start line I just felt spent, depleted and pre-defeated.
I still had a blast though so I won’t focus on negatives. Coming in 14 minutes under the cutoff in 3rd to last place still counts. There were plenty who didn’t finish or who had to “settle” for the shorter marathon distance instead.
This race has now kicked my butt two years in a row. I’ve finished but it’s been ugly both times. I’ll have to come back next year of course. I’m starting to rack up a lot of “do-over races.”

The course

A few more climbs in this years race made it just a little tougher. The walk through the defunct Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary was very cool. Getting our bib punch from some random guy in the hole was amusing.
The course is deceptively easy in the first 10-12 miles. There are climbs galore but they are on non-technical single track. The middle is where all the bad stuff (or good stuff if you will) starts happening. Scrambling, climbing, sliding, grasping for stumps etc etc. It’s a full body workout really. I was having a hard time not overheating and trying to keep my breathing and heart rate in check. Then the last 3rd of the course is on mostly non-technical single track once again.

Defeat or Complete

I’ve never been in a race that has had me teetering back and forth between defeat and complete so fully. (except for last years race) I had totally given up on completing the 50K when my energy was zapped before going up Rat Jaw. I was done, toast. I laid down on the grass halfway up and took a nap. I woke up and continued trudging along, trying to be encouraging to the folks passing me, but I was frankly kind of out of it the whole climb. I even started meandering on my own far off course for the better part of an hour.
At the tower on top of Rat Jaw I was about 15 minutes behind the cutoff
At the 22 mile checkpoint I was 10 minutes ahead
The remaining 10+ miles I grunted and pushed my way in just on time

A climber I am not

I like speed, so flats and downs are what I love running. Climbing has always felt more like work. I’ve gotten more used to climbing the last few years but I’m still not that great. There were a ton of climbers in this race. Of course, that’s what the Barkley is known for and that’s the type of person it will attract the most. Hats off to them.
The last mile on the road I sprinted 6-7 minute mile pace just for the hell of it. I had energy to spare after 13 hours. A good sign.


First real race with my Ultimate Direction AK vest + squishy bottles. Worked pretty good. Calf sleeves were helpful. I forgot my gloves but managed. My New Balance 110s are so old they are rotting. I should just toss them but they are my all time favorite shoes. It’s going to be hard to part with them.

Next year

If I run this next year I have to be prepared for the climbing. I would not put it passed the organizers making the course even tougher.





2015 and beyond

Back to your regularly scheduled blogging

I’m bouncing back from the winter doldrums and some injuries that where niggling at me after late November. My fitness level has suffered just a bit but things are picking back up again. Spring is in the air. Races, runs and hikes are on the horizon once again.

Pistol Ultra 50K

Not feeling up to the full 100k that I signed up for, I dropped down to the 50k. I ran 45 minutes slower than last year, but was just taking it easy and having fun this time around. The Pistol Ultra grows every year and is such a fast course that Irishman Thomas Frazer set an Irish 50k record (and course record) We may see some more outsider interest in setting records at this race in the future.

Monument Valley 100

Other then the usual smaller races and runs, the big adventure for myself this side of the year is a 100 miler out in Arizona, on Navajo land and Marlboro country. This will be part of a 2 week vacation where I’ll be absorbing as much as the area parks as possible.
I’ll leave it at that. My blogging will remain sporadic of course. Whenever it becomes too much of a “chore” and takes away from the joy of running itself, I always pull back.

fall races and stuff

It’s time for a little update. The fall is an exciting time filled with weekly races. The cooler temperatures mean less sweating, less panting. It’s been fun to see how much fitness has improved. Also fun to be able to run with others through the woods and the streets. Below is the laundry list of races. At some point I may make separate race reports. To be honest, running takes precedent over writing about running. I’m mini tapering for a road marathon this week, so taking a few minutes to write this post.

What I’ve done the last couple of months

Barkley Fall Classic 50k

This was the inaugural Barkley 50k, I just had to do it. It didn’t disappoint, plenty of hills and some areas that were totally not runable. Climbing straight up a hillside with sawbriars, yeah, words don’t do that part any justice. This race really needs its own report. Hopefully I can get around to it.

Some bad decisions on my part made for a long day out for a 50k, there was much more hiking than usual. Dehydration to the point of shivering in the heat, laying on the ground for a half hour trying to get back into it. There were plenty of mental low points to break through. It wasn’t pretty and the time is almost embarrassing, but I needed to finish. I will have to reenter for next year because I just didn’t execute this well at all. I should have run a couple hours faster than this.

It was nice to hang out after the race. I’ll need to do more of that.

Big South Fork 17.5 miles

I went kamikaze on this run. I was supposed to take it easy after the Barkley race, but when I saw how flat and fast this course was I couldn’t help myself. Fell twice, scraping my knee up and bruising my palm. It’s probably the first time I just went for it during one of these trail races. I usually hold back a little. Good atmosphere after the race, but had to ditch out early due to other engagements.

Cumberland Trail 50k

Had a lot of fun on this run. The small field of 20 probably had something to do with it. Sometimes the larger fields can get a little impersonal. Constantly passing and being passed by dozens of people and “conga lines” forming. It’s ok, but I’d rather not feel too crowded or claustrophobic. This is the first race I’ve done with such a small field. I’ll be looking for more like it.

This was a point to point race as well, so no looping or covering the same ground twice. The elevation profile was more than expected, plenty of climbing. The only flat part was the last couple miles ending in the park.

The rain in the first half of the run was soothing, the virgin like trails were challenging. I’ll be back next year for this one.

Farragut Half Marathon

Back on the road for this race. Honestly I was looking forward to some pavement for a change. It’s fun to switch up between the different kinds of races and surfaces. This one was fairly fast, although the rolling hills zapped me a bit, and I was not prepared for the last 3 miles of steady incline. It wasn’t much of an uphill, but when you’re tired even a 3-5% grade is killer.

A 1:32:02 ain’t too shabby, probably could have done better if I’d paced myself.


What’s left to do

Chickamauga Marathon

Coming up this weekend. The goal was to get close to a 3:00 hour finish, but I really think a 3:10-3:15 is more realistic. I’ll go out on a 3:15 pace, and if I feel good halfway in I’ll kick it up a notch.

Norris Dam Hard Trail Race 50k

The yearly local 50k. Not much to say here other than I hope to run it faster than last year. Although I hear there may be some course changes, so whatever.

Secret City Half Marathon

The Oak Ridge course is pretty flat, so I should have a shot at getting under 1:30 for this one. After a year or so of races, it looks like my body likes this distance pretty well. I hope it’s not going to be as cold as last year. I can get a little winy in the cold.



I’m looking forward to not racing and just getting back into the groove of building on the base mileage with longer weekend runs, and a general increase in weekly mileage. A peaceful and reflective month with plenty of muscle soreness. The plan is to streak as well, so every day I’ll be out there. Rain or shine.


Closing thoughts

It’s dawning on me the last few months that the placement in these races mean much less to me than other factors such as how well I executed a run regardless of placement. You always read about “running your own race” but it’s finally sinking in what that really means. I just care less about the race and more about just preforming and improving on myself. Sounds pretty basic, but after all it IS a race, so it can be hard to NOT be caught up in comparing oneself to others every moment of it. There might be some life lesson in there somewhere but someone with more writing ability has probably covered it already.