Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Archive for the tag “@chasing42”

Race Report: Labor Pains 12-Hour

Since beginning to run longer and longer distances, my idea of a training run has changed considerably. My sense of anticipation has also shifted quite a bit, to the point where anything less than 50 miles doesn’t really trigger any of my pre-race jitters or antsy feelings. That was certainly the case this time around as I approach the 3rd year of my birthday run tradition.

I went to the Labor Pains 12-Hour race last year because it looked like a fun way to spend my birthday, and I knocked out 40 miles in the heat and humidity, and enjoyed every minute of it. The weather was considerably different this year, but the goal was the same. September typically marks the beginning of the fall racing season for me, and luckily the weather shifted to accommodate, with cooler temps and light rain/ overcast skies. This was less than ideal for the epicurean’s relaxation and reading plans, but it proved to be excellent running weather…mostly.

We arrived about 30 minutes prior to the 7:30 start time, parked in almost the same location as last year, and I made my way to packet pickup. Other than the weather, the biggest difference this year was having company for part of the day. Michelle, a local friend, decided to make the drive up and use the race as her long run for the weekend, and it was great to have a familiar face to run with for a good chunk of the day. Our paces are very similar and we run a lot of miles together in general, so it worked out quite well.

Labor1

lap after Lap…ticking them off. 

To refresh your memory, the course is a 5-mile loop with close to 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Runners complete as many loops as they want, stop when they want, and start again if they want. There is an aid station at the mid-way point, and the trail is mainly wooded single-track. All the rain this year added mud to the equation in copious amounts, and I did plenty of sliding around throughout the day.

In general, my legs were feeling really good, and my pace remained relatively consistent throughout the day. Michelle and I ticked off the miles pretty smoothly, running the flats and downhill portions, and walking a few of the larger uphill sections after the first few laps. She ran the first 25 miles with me (plus the extra 1.2 for a marathon finish), and it made the time just fly by having someone else to run with consistently. After we said our goodbyes, i kept on moving and knocked out my final 3 loops with relative consistency.

Labor2

Such a great way to spend a birthday…chasing42! 

As usual, it was a very well-organized race, the aid station at the start/finish was nicely stocked with a variety of snacks, and I made sure to help myself to the beer at the half-way point during the last few laps as well! The weather may have been soggy and less than ideal for relaxing outside (sorry, beautiful epicurean!) weekend day, but it still proved to be an enjoyable day. I still have a few more years before I need to head back out for a 9th lap, and I will continue to return to this race as my birthday run tradition continues. I’ll keep #chasing42 for yet another year!

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Daily Chase: Vol. 79

I am still alive. The streak is still in play. I’m beginning to sound like a bit of a broken record. Life has a funny way of shifting and adapting to fit the space that it’s in, and that has meant having considerably less time for the assessing and reporting on my various running-related endeavors. However, I’m still squeezing in the training, and the love for running and the trails only continues to grow! I can’t promise consistency in my posting this fall, but I can promise consistency in my running. That’s what we’re all here for after all, right?

crab

Sometimes you kayak to a beach where wild horses roam…

Chasing42 Log: 20170813- 20170915

Run: The fall racing season is in full effect, and my running has continued to stay steady, although perhaps not with the same amount of vertical training that I would like or I was able to get during this period last year. In the last month, I’ve had some amazing adventures in the woods, logged plenty of tedious road miles, and kicked off my own fall racing season. I celebrated my 38th birthday with my 3rd Annual Birthday Run at the Labor Pains Race again this year (9/3), and logged another enjoyable 40 miles in Reading, PA. The weather was damp and cool this year, which was refreshing to say the least, and I had some wonderful company for the first 25 miles, which made them fly by too. It’s a tradition I’m looking forward to continuing well into the future.

mushrooms

These don’t look edible! 

This past weekend, we traveled up to Cook Forest State Park in northwestern PA, and relaxed by the fire, next to a river and a trail head with some wonderful single-track. I got to play in the woods plenty, and it certainly made my heart happy!

Tomorrow, we are heading up to New York for a long day in the woods as well, so I’ll have more information to come!

Thought: More people need to get outside and disconnect. I know this isn’t a terribly profound statement, and I’m far from the first to utter it. I also know that the conflict reports on the “impact” of screen time on socialization, learning, and other forms of behavior are far from conclusive, so I’m not making any claims about the adverse impact of decreased social interaction and connection with nature. However, I continue to experience enough anecdotal evidence in my own life to suggest that if more folks just took a step back from their lives and tried for a brief moment to put things in perspective, we’d all be much better off. With that being said, #optoutside seems to be far more important than it was even initially intended to be. We are all #chasing42 differently, but I sure hope your chase causes you to step back and listen/look more, and type/talk less!

hike

Amazing trails and amazing company…what more do you need?!

Daily Chase: Vol. 78

Where has the summer gone? I feel like the game never changes, and yet I seem to find myself in the same situation every year! The summer presents itself in all its opportunistic glory, filled with a multitude of time for all the desired projects, and then it’s gone in a blink of an eye 🙂 That’s certainly how I would describe the last month, which has flown by at hyper speed.

At any rate, the running has continued, the streak remains in play, and the rain and humidity has controlled my life far more than I would have preferred. Not only has it meant some very damp and hot runs, but it has also meant a quick 3-day landscaping project has taken several weeks to complete! We finally bit the bullet and decided to dig up the asphalt in our backyard (who paves their backyard!?!?!?!?!). The end result will be a much more beautiful and usable space, but first it has to stop raining for more than a day so we can actually finish spreading the top soil and plant the grass seed. I’m pretty sure it was bone dry for two month, and then has rained every other day since we began this project…ugh!

droplet

It looks so innocent, right?

Luckily, we made our yearly trip to Minnesota to visit family and do some exploring. It’s always fun to get back home and visit old and new haunts. We were able to spend a lot of time with my sister and nephew as well, which was a blast! I managed to squeeze in quite a bit of running, and explored some areas I had never seen before, despite growing up there. Everything just looks different when you are a runner!

Adams

Chasing42 Log: 20170710- 20170812

Run: The miles have been hot and humid for the past month but they’ve also been consistent. I’ve been really happy with the track and tempo workouts I’ve incorporated during the week, and the solid trail miles on the weekend. I’ve been keeping my weekly mileage fairly consistent around 70, and trying to incorporate as much vertical gain as I can along the way. I managed a comfortable 26 miles this morning and feel like I’m about as acclimated as I’m going to be at this point. Soon enough, classes will begin again, and my running schedule will change.

The #chasing42streak continues and now sits at 631 days. 

traillove

#traillove

Thought: The history of lawn/turf management and landscaping in this country is fascinating to me. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately as our project’s extended timeline has given me plenty of time to stare at the piles of dirt in our backyard. Why do we spend so much time on our yards/lawns? We waste untold millions of gallons of water to feed grass, we spend millions of dollars on mulch, dirt, and plants, and we invest hours upon hours working to keep things up. We compete with neighbors, we pay homeowners associations, we adhere to landscaping policies, and it’s all to live a lie. Just think for a moment how much more time and money you would have if you weren’t tossing it into the ground so you don’t get judged negatively by others. What other interests or hobbies would you pursue? How much more running would you do? How much more time would you spend with your partner or significant other?

How much more time would you spend #chasing42?

Ok, time to head outside and mow the lawn. Again. Why won’t it stop growing? Zero-scaping sounds better and better by the day!

Laurel Highlands Race Recap

I’m fully aware that this review is long overdue. As is usually the case, the summer seems to have gotten away from me amidst the various projects, work and home-related, taking up my time. With that being said, the Laurel Highlands 70.5-miler was an amazing race experience, and certainly worthy of a #chasing42 review!

I try to be very respectful of the beautiful epicurean’s time and energy, and not drag her along to every single race I run. She has been overwhelmingly supportive from day 1, and I cherish that support. Since the Laurel Highlands 70-miler was a relatively local race, being just a 4 hour drive northwest into PA, I agreed to make the trip myself. The race took place on Saturday, June 10th and I took off Friday the 9th from work and made the drive up in the afternoon. The race is a point-to-point course, starting in Ohiopyle, PA, and running along the Laurel Highlands trail north to Seward, PA. As I was traveling alone, it didn’t make sense to bother with a hotel room for a few hours of sleep, so I decided to park my car at the finish and sleep in it Friday night.

LHT-3

My sleeping accommodations. 

I got up to the campground around 4PM and got a quick lay of the land and made sure I knew where to park when I returned, and then I headed into Johnstown for packet pickup and the pre-race dinner and briefing. 2017 marked the 38th running of the race and they certainly have the logistics ironed out very smoothly. I showed up, collected my bib and shirt, and found a seat for dinner. The pasta dinner was quite good, and I was pleased and full as I left, having a much better sense of the course, and feeling content as I headed back to the campground/ finish area. I pulled out my packable camp chair and relaxed with a good book to enjoy the remaining sunlight before curling up in my sleeping back in the car to catch a few hours of sleep. The benefit of sleeping “outside” is going to bed when the sun goes down and not worrying as much about staying up late!

I wouldn’t say I slept great, but I still got a decent amount of sleep before my 3AM alarm woke me from my slumber. Other folks had begun to arrive and park around me to secure their place at the finish area before the buses arrived to shuttle us down to the start. The buses cut through the darkness promptly at 3:30AM with their school bus charm, and we boarded silently in the dark. The drive ended up taking much longer and was much more winding and bumpy than I had anticipated so additional sleep was out of the question. We arrived at the starting area with very little time to spare, and everyone made a beeline for the bathrooms. I took care of business and walked up to the starting area with a few minutes to spare. The morning light was just breaking through in the park, and there was an air of calm anticipation running through the crowd as we waited for the signal to start.

LHT-4

The falls in Ohiopyle made a great starting line! 

I opted for poles in addition to my normal Salomon pack, soft flasks, and various nutritional needs. The course itself has over 11,000 feet of vertical gain, and the jagged elevation profile left me confident that the use of poles would be a good choice. I was certainly correct! After a short jaunt on the road to the trailhead, we hopped on the Laurel Highlands Trail and didn’t leave it for the next 70 miles. The trail itself was consistently technical, beautiful single track with some spectacular views. I told myself I would actually stop at least once to take in the views this time, and I eventually did make good on that promise. The first aid station at mile 11.6 made for a bit of a longer first section, but fresh legs and plenty of Tailwind, along with the energy of the race and the people around me made the miles tick off pretty quickly. There was no shortage of climbing, however, and I had accumulated well over 2,000 ft. of vertical gain.

The next section was filled with shorter but more frequent climbs, and I was starting to have flashbacks to the Georgia Death Race and the constant climbing and descending. I had heard that a majority of the climbing for this race was in the first 20 miles, so I was prepared for it, and my legs held up really well. All of the climbing I had been doing in training was certainly paying off. I didn’t spend long at the aid station at mile 19.6 and got back out on the course to keep my momentum going.

I should have known better, but for a brief moment as I was leaving AS #2, I actually thought the course would get easier. It didn’t. The aid stations were further apart than in many other ultras, and I enjoyed the old school feel of the race. It forced me to pay more attention to my hydration and nutrition, and plan accordingly for the longer chunks of miles.

LHT-5

Beautiful views. All. Day. 

Things started to heat up, literally, by mile 30, and the crowd of 143 runners (70.5 distance) had begun to thin out quite a bit so I was spending significantly more time by myself. The climbs kept coming, and the rocks and roots continued to make the trail a formidable companion. My head seemed to be bouncing between the trail and the views as I tried to simultaneously not trip and enjoy the gorgeous landscapes laid out before me along the trail. I should note that this is not a bad problem to have, and the constant distractions made the miles and climbing much easier as I continued my relentless forward progress.

Eventually, I made it to the mile 46 aid station and eagerly anticipated access to my drop bag. This aid station experience was one of the best I’ve ever had thanks in large measure to an amazing volunteer that helped me from start to finish. I was pretty darn hot, had run out of water, and was soaking wet from sweat so a cold rag and ice water on my neck and back felt amazing. He grabbed my drop bag, refilled my bottles with Tailwind, and I put on a clean shirt and a fresh pair of socks. By the time I left the aid station, I felt like a new man. The drudgery of the previous 7 miles (after AS #4) was a distant memory, and I headed back out on the trail with renewed vigor and excitement!

I made it to the next aid station at mile 57 with ease relative to the previous miles, and was in really good spirits. At this point, I was determined to see how far I could get without using my headlamp. I rolled in, fueled up, and pulled out my headlamp in anticipation of using it soon, but I still had some light in the sky. I danced with the setting sun almost as far as the next and final aid station at mile 62, helped in part by a short stretch of dirt road up to the AS that I could navigate with very little light. I was all smiles as I pulled into the final aid station, took a few shots of Coke, and struck out for the final stretch.

It got dark pretty quick, but my headlamp cast a nice wide beam so I had no trouble navigating. After about a mile, I found myself running nearby to another runner, which hadn’t happened in quite a while. We got to talking and humorously discovered that we followed each other on Strava, and lived miles from each other but had never met in person. We ended up running in the final 7 miles together and talking the entire time about a whole host of topics, which made the time fly by rather quickly. We both had been thinking about the possibility of breaking 18 hours as the finish line grew near, and we began to push as hard as we could with 5 miles or so to go. We kept looking down at the clock and knew it would be close, especially since we weren’t entirely sure how much we had left as the finish grew near. We made the final push and “sprinted” across the finish line in 18:03.

LHT-1

All finishers received a beautiful wooden “trophy”, which was a small replica of the permanent stone obelisk trail mile markers along the Laurel Highlands Trail, and I was quite happy to claim mine. I hung around the finish area for a bit, sipping on soup, and cheering on other runners before eventually making my way back to the car around 12:30AM. I was exhausted, and my wet wipe “bath” didn’t really cut it, but I was too tired to care and I climbed into my sleeping bag for a few hours of restless sleep as my sore leg muscles began to repair themselves. I predictably woke up with the rising sun, briefly enjoyed the cool morning air, and then hopped in the car for the 4 hour drive home. It was a whirlwind weekend, as so many race weekends are, but I absolutely loved the course, the volunteers, and the overall experience. I collected my second Western States qualifying race as well, and fully embraced the #chasing42 spirit along the way!

LHT-2

Daily Chase: Vol. 77

As much as I claim to hate the heat and humidity, I certainly can’t argue with the fact that it creates quite a lush green landscape in the state parks in the area! Of course, that also means poison ivy at every turn, but as long as you know what you are looking for, you can pretty well avoid it. At times, I feel like I’ve been transported to a lush jungle or northwestern rain forest environment, and it truly adds to the enjoyment of the single track. There is just something special about being able to mentally escape while on a run and focus your energy on the beauty around you. I’m always a bit confused when I see people out on the trails with headphones in their ears, as though they were doing their best to forget they were in the woods in the first place. So, get out there, find your happy place, and enjoy #chasing42, no matter where your single track may take you!

Lums Ponds-1

Lums Pond State Park

Chasing42 Log: 20170619- 20170709

Run: The miles have been relatively consistent over the past few weeks, although the combination of a Laurel Highlands recovery period and hot/humid weather has left my legs a tad bit sluggish. It’s really only been in about the last week that I’ve started to have the same spring in my step that I felt during the comfortable spring months. A solid summer routine has certainly helped push through the heavy legs and keep the summer training moving forward. Here’s a quick snapshot:

Monday- comfortable group run with the Delaware Running Club crew

Tuesday- track workouts at a local high school when I can make it, or tempo miles         around campus

Wednesday- progressive track workout with Delaware Running Club crew (how do you speed people do this all the time!)

Thursday- no drop trail miles at Brandywine Creek State Park

Friday- recovery run, short and easy

Saturday- long trail run, increasing vertical gain

Sunday- mid-distance trail run, more vertical gain

So, the #chasing42streak is still going strong, and a consistent schedule of rolling and interspersed comfortable miles has kept my legs feeling fresh…well, not that I’m starting to acclimate to the heat at least!

BCSP-1

Rainy Mist at Brandywine Creek State Park

Thought: I’ve been thinking more and more about running grit lately, in large part due to the running of the Western States 100 just a few short weeks ago. The conditions are always hot, and the net downhill course definitely creates challenges for many runners. It also increases the likelihood of a mid-race bonk that can feel like the end of the road. Those runners that can truly remember that they’ve been there before, they know they can come out of it, and they are committed to finishing strong are the ones to watch. This was perhaps no better exemplified than by ultrarunning start Kaci Lickteig, who came into this years race with the F1 bib as the returning champion. She went out strong in the early miles, but his a really tough patch where even walking was a challenge. It’s always humbling to hit those points, even after knowing you did everything correctly in training. However, her humility, perseverance, and grit are a large part of what makes her a true champion. She eventually came out of her slump and finished the race, and her experience and the grace she displayed during and afterwards are part of why I love this sport so darn much! You can listen to her fabulous interview on ultrarunnerpodcast.com here for a great reminder of the ups and downs we all face while #chasing42!

Battery Park

Battery Park along the Delaware River 

Daily Chase: Vol. 76

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and father figures out there today! Summer is in full swing, albeit not officially here yet, and that means each passing weekend is precious and filled with possibilities. Last weekend, that meant an adventure to western Pennsylvania for the Laurel Highlands 70.5, and this weekend was filled with yard work and other tasky endeavors. Not every weekend can be filled with excitement, right?

Chasing42 Log: 20170605- 20170618

Run: Last weekend, as I was ticking off the miles and chasing the sun and the clock during the Laurel Highlands 70.5 Ultra, I was struck with two competing thoughts. On the one hand, I clearly wanted to finish as quickly as possible (and certainly under the 20-hour threshold for it to count as a WS qualifier). On the other hand, I knew that If I finished after midnight, then I would have my Sunday run completed and be able to take an even longer break and still keep my streak alive 🙂 Alas, I made really good time and finished around 11:30PM. I logged a few hours of sleep in the car, and made the journey back home early Sunday morning to a much anticipated shower. It was a hot afternoon, but I still laced up my shoes for a slow mile around the block, and I kept my streak going. This past week has been all about recovery and intentionally not pushing my legs any harder than comfort would allow. I managed a solid longer run yesterday, and went swimming in the humidity today, but enjoyed every minute of my time on the trails. I’m certainly not fully acclimated to the heat and humidity yet, but it will come. In the meantime, I’ll keep pressing on and enjoying myself and my training!

rainbow

An incredible rainbow during a relaxing weekend. 

Thought: My father isn’t a runner. To the best of knowledge, he never was a runner, despite being built like a marathoner in the purest sense. However, from a very early age, he instilled in me the benefits of hard work and the importance of pursuing your dreams. He encouraged me to explore my interests, no matter how far fetched they might have been. I could have easily told him I wanted to run a marathon as a child, and he would have supported me and then asked me “what’s next?”. Anyone who has run an ultra-marathon of any kind has probably had some version of the “that’s crazy” conversation with a friend or family member. That’s simply not a response I ever received from my father. Instead, he’s always been nothing but supportive, encouraging, and proud of each and every one of my accomplishments, running or otherwise. It takes someone special to recognize a unique set of interests and never deviate from supporting someone as the chase their dreams, and my father continues to be that person. He taught me what chasing42 meant before I even had the words to describe it, and I continue to be thankful every day for his presence in my life!

Daily Chase: Vol. 75

I’m currently sitting on our front porch, enjoying a cold drink, and loving the cool breeze and comfortable temperature. I’ve spent a good majority of my time out here this weekend, and it’s been the perfect opportunity to relax, catch up on some reading, and bask in what I hope is not a short-lived spring/early summer season. It’s a nice balance between knowing I need to get things done around the house, and wanting to spend all my time outdoors. If I could hit the pause button on the weather and time of day, then I’m pretty sure this is when I’d do so. Do you have those moments when everything clicks and you just want to bask in the relaxation? Are you making the time to go to your happy place and pause to truly enjoy it? The miles fly by rather quickly and it’s easy to get caught up in the training, and sometimes it just takes someone handing you a cold drink to force your hand!

cold drink

Do you have your cold drink? 🙂 

Chasing42 Log: 20170527- 20170604

Run: It’s taper time in the #chasing42 world, and that means less volume and a slower pace. Over the past week or so, I’ve managed to stick to a slower pace, although my volume hasn’t necessarily decreased as much as I would have liked. In my defense, it’s been rather gorgeous outside for the last week. In addition, last week was a 3-day weekend, which meant an extra opportunity for a long run. I kept things slower, and have been rolling my legs out consistently, so now I just need to reign in the miles. I kept my weekend mileage low this weekend, thankfully, and did plenty of stretching. I am sure it will be even easier to do so this coming week before heading up to PA for Laurel Highlands. Here’s to a calm race week!

pausing

Thought: The bonk. The breaking point. The “that’s all I’ve got” point. We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt the life drain from our body as we realize that we didn’t consume enough calories, drink enough, or properly account for the climate or terrain. We’ve reached our mental threshold and begun making deals with ourselves. If I let myself walk to “x location”, then I’ll pick it back up again. If I take it easy until the next aid station, then I can stock up and hit it hard again. In some ways, that mentality has become crucial to my ability to push myself into and out of the pain cave, and really challenge what I’m capable of enduring. However, I’m also aware that the mind tends to give up faster than the body does. We, as a society, are not accustomed to discomfort in our daily lives (many of us, anyway), and thus our ideas about where that threshold rests have changed over the years. Today, the average American only takes approximately 5900 steps, which includes those trips to the bathroom and to the break room for one more donut. Those 3 miles aren’t typically difficult miles by any means, and it’s drastically alternated our perception of how far we can push ourselves.

Of course, runners of all sorts certainly don’t fall into those sedentary categories the same way, but it has still altered the way we mentally perceive pain and exhaustion, the way we talk about it, and the way we view it in others. Thus, I find myself, as I tackle new and unique physical challenges, thinking about how I can push myself to go just a little bit harder, just a little bit longer, and push aside those mental doubts just a bit more. Training is ultimately about growth, and that happens on a mental and physical level. So, the next time i perceive a bonk coming on, or start making deals with myself early in a race, I’m going to try and repeat #chasing42 in my mind and push just a little bit more. Do you have it in you to push just a little bit more? Let’s see what happens!

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