Lessons from a Hard Teacher: Vermont 100 Race Report

“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lessons afterward.” ~Vernon Law My Vermont 100 experience was a hard test. I’m trying to decide whether I passed or failed. When I grade my students’ work, I assess it based on what I want them to learn and how well their work demonstrates that they’ve learned those lessons. In the case of racing, these “lessons” come in various forms, and one way to assess a race is to think about the goals I set for the race. For Vermont 100, I had my usual tiered set of goals: A) “super secret” goal, …

4 Tips to Find Your Race Week Zen

When race week finally arrives, it’s impossible to avoid the jolt of excitement and anticipation as I make my final preparations to achieve the goals that have kept me moving through weeks on top of months of long, hard training days. It is possible, however, to prevent these race week sensations from overtaking my emotions in a way that hurts the execution of my race plan. As athletes, we should expect and welcome some emotional arousal. But, we need to be on guard against feelings of emotional overload, in the form of anxiety, over-stimulation, panic, or fear. Trust me – I’ve tried it both ways. The latter approach sucks …

Is this Normal?

Several years ago, I wrote about the joy of the first time finish line, as a reflection of my first Ironman. Not many race experiences can compare with that feeling that takes over the first time you cross the finish line of an unknown distance or event. It’s empowering. It’s extraordinary. It’s addicting. But, the road to that first (or second or twentieth) time finish line is filled often with uncertainty, confusion, and a healthy dose of fear. As we get deeper into the season, some of the athletes I coach are doing things they’ve never done before: longest distances, hardest efforts, first time events. …

2016 Infinitus 88k: My almost first time DNF

It was Dark:Thirty. I was somewhere climbing up the Mt. Moosalamoo Trail in Vermont, about 45-ish miles into The Endurance Society’s Infinitus 88k-ish race. Before I started this climb, the nice chap at the aid station informed me, “Just 2.5 miles to the summit of Mt. Moosalmoo!” He was so cheery. I was so dirty. He said that as if those 2.5 miles were regular old road miles, and not Endurance Society FUBARed trail miles. I knew better. I knew those 2.5 miles, while sounding so short and swift, would be long and tortuous. As I climbed this, amidst rocks and …

What’s my story?

Readers, forgive me. It’s been two months since my last post. This is the point where you, my readers, absolve me of my blog transgressions. I’ll wait. … Okay, thanks. It’s not that I’ve been at a loss for words – far from it. My draft folder is FULL of the ideas I’ve had since my last post about the Double Anvil. To mention just a few, I’ve got drafts (soon to be posts) about our run across Zion National Park, what our food shopping list looks like, what it’s like to train for a Double Anvil, how to gear up for a …

I can’t get no satisfaction: Labor Pain 12 Hour Endurance Trail Run Race Report

I am rarely, if ever, completely satisfied by a race result–or training session. Even for the races that seem to go pretty well, it usually only takes me a good night’s sleep to start picking apart what I need to do better, how I can improve, and what I did “wrong.” The Labor Pain 12 Hour Endurance Trail Run was no different than any other race in this regard. I selected this race as my primary prep race for the Javelina Jundred, which will be my first 100 mile race on October 31, 2015. G.U.L.P. My plan was to approach this …

Burning Nomads

One of the things that I like about big goals and dreaming big is the way the thought of the goal itself sets a spark that lights a fire in my core. The fire focuses me. It excites me. It lets me know I’m alive. The last big fire went out the second the announcer at Ironman Louisville said my name to step right up and grab my golden ticket to the big show in Kona. The relief washed over me with the same intensity as the fire that burned to get me there. Since that day, however, I haven’t even …

The 9% Solution: Take the Tough Option

Last year, my coach Vince scheduled a treadmill-specific hill workout that had a series of different inclines, from 3% to 9%. As if the changing incline wasn’t enough, I did each interval at the same pace (approximately tempo effort) – without any recovery interval throughout the duration of the workout, which was typically 45 minutes. Despite the lack of a recovery interval, it’s amazing how a 3% incline at tempo effort can feel like a recovery after a 9% interval. The first time I did this workout, the 9% interval crushed me. And, when I say crushed, I mean smoke blowing …

2014: The Year of the Plow Horse

Recently, when reviewing my site analytics, I discovered a blog, from Russia, that was referring visitors to my site. That’s odd, I thought. Sometimes, international sites link to my blog, which I usually determine to be spammers. But, I was curious. So, I navigated to the site, and looked through the page, to find that I was featured at the bottom. But, what does it say? Ever the curious sort, I copied the words into Google Translator, and discovered that this post was about women bloggers that this particular blogger reads. Cool. But, what was she saying about ME?! 7. Maria ( her …

The Pain Cave: Suffering Loves Company

I rowed crew in high school. It was an incredible experience, that taught me the value of discipline and how much fun it could be to suffer with a group of other athletes. To be on the crew team required an enormous amount of discipline, especially for teenagers. We trained hard for hours after school–and sometimes before school. We gave up every weekend for at least half of the year–if not more. As members of the lightweight 8, my crewmates and I restricted every morsel of food that went in to our bodies.  But, it wasn’t all hard work all of …