Mar 31, 2010

March Recap and April Goals

Ran 27 out of 31 days in 28 distinct workouts
Total Mileage: 165

Ran 86 out of 90 days in 89 distinct workouts.
Total Mileage: 388

Here were my goals in March:

1. Run at least one mile every day.
FAIL. The streak ended the Sunday after Umstead, when I contracted a stomach flu which killed my appetite and made me generally miserable (including nauseous.) I finally took the advice of a much smarter, more experienced runner than me, when he said, "Don't even think about running today." I'm not sure I could have run a mile if I wanted to. With the streak over, I am taking this opportunity to rest. My left leg in particular feels like it could benefit from a week of not running at all.

2. One long run of 18 miles
SUCCESS! Due to a last minute decision to run the Caumsett 50K, I actually got in a long run of 31 miles on knee-pounding asphalt, and added 6 track miles the next day for good measure. That was my only run over 10 miles this month, but I had a bunch of runs in the 6-9 mile range.

3. Three ascents of Bear Mountain
FAIL. Zero on this one. However, I did get a respectable amount of hill training in on my regular runs. Nothing the caliber of Bear Mountain, what I got in is very encouraging because I did well.

4. Log everything I eat
FAIL!!! Like last month, I don't even want to go there.

5. Don't quit at Umstead
FAIL, but I'm kind of glad I did. I dropped at 12:15am, and would have been pulled at 8:00am. Those 7 hours and 45 minutes would have been pretty darn miserable and there would be no finish for me at the end of them. I'll write more about it on my race report on Friday.

April goals
I don't know. I think I'm just going to run.

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time

Mar 29, 2010

Quick Update from Umstead 100-miler

I completed 5 laps, 62.5 miles - or just a hair over 100K. That is the farthest I've ever gone.

Umstead will give an official 50-mile finish to anyone who goes that far. My 50-mile split is a personal record, by about a half-hour.

Yesterday (Sunday) I was in a pretty bad way, with a fever, chills, stomach/gas problems, no appetite, and just generally miserable - not to mention sleep deprived. That kind of response, I understand, is not uncommon. In fact something similar happened after my first marathon in December 2006.

Full race report will be posted on Friday.

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time

Mar 26, 2010

Umstead 2010 is here.

Bags are packed

When this is posted at 10am on Friday, I'll be midway through a 90-minute JetBlue flight from JFK to Raleigh. Tomorrow at 6am, I start my second attempt at 100 miles. If everything goes as planned, I'll finish Sunday morning between 9am and 11am. The race ends at noon, so I don't have much wiggle room. If things go wrong, then I'll be pulled from the race after 8am tomorrow after completing 87.5 miles.

By Sunday afternoon, it'll all be over.

As in the past, I will live-tweeting my experience of the race as it happens, follow stevetursi if you're a user and you'd like to get them. In theory, these updates will be posted to facebook as well, but in practice not every update makes it there.

Or, you can just visit my blog ( on Monday morning at 10am to get a quick update. And, of course, you'll probably find some results on the Umstead 100 web site: My bib number is 253.

UPDATE: This page should have real-time runner times at each of the 16 checkpoints:

Emails, facebook comments, text messages, and twitter replies of encouragement will likely be appreciated.

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time

Mar 24, 2010

Umstead Preview #4: Banish the doubts, run and have fun.

A combined preview/listservGold post. Credit goes to Karl King, this time from the Yahoo group:

"The last race I completed was a 50 miler but I was in my thirties and training was very different."

Eric, oh ye of little faith.... I started running ( 1 mile ) at age 42. 3 years later I did 50K/50 miles. Ran VT 100 at age 49.5 on 6 months of 25 mile/week training, with my longest week being 42 miles. You are way, way better off than that. Banish the doubts, run and have fun. -Karl King

There's a lot more I can say right now, but that would just be a diversion from how I really feel: LET'S GET IT ON!!

tick tock tick tock..

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time

Mar 22, 2010

Umstead Preview #3: Emotion is Fickle

I had a rather profound epiphany while writing this post (on Friday night.) It was so significant to me that I decided to strip everything in the post that doesn't lead to this thought.

Rocky Raccoon
My race report had a succinct summary about why I dropped:
At this point, there were three things working against me:
1.) Indifference
2.) Lots of pain, extreme fatigue, intense desire to sit down.
3.) Most importantly - the cutoff.

The cutoff was pure pragmatism. And of course there was pain and fatigue. Duh.

But the indifference. I definitely remember the indifference. Indifference is what surprised me at the time. It Shocked me. I didn't think I'd ever stop caring. I always thought I would have to let the raw desire and emotion overpower the rational reasons to quit. It turns out, I had that backwards.

100 milers and meta-cognition

Let say that again - At Rocky, I counted on pure raw emotion to get me through the tough times. I figured that I could count on raw desire, and it would get me there. That was the absolute opposite of what I needed. When the desire went away and indifference took over, I had nothing to keep me going. Emotions are fickle. They can change on a dime. But the rational thought - if I keep going, I'll finish - that's a truth that will never change. It's also a truth that many ultrarunners have counted on to get them to the finish line.

Don't believe me? Look at what I wrote here in my Rocky Raccoon race report:
"What was wrong with the 50 mile distance? I liked the 50-mile distance! You start in the morning, you're done at night! 100 miles, on the other hand - well, that's just stupid!!" - me

That sounds a lot like something an emotionally and physically distressed person would say in the middle of a death march in the wee hours of the morning. If it happened to me under those circumstances, I probably would attribute it to the physical circumstances and at least try to intellectually blow it off.

But that not how it happened.

I said that while I still felt fine physically.

At around mile 52. 8PM.

I was fine physically, but emotionally a mess. And - the messed up emotions likely intensified the physical pain I felt in the next 8 miles which took 3 hours!

Pretty wild, right?

Anyway, when the emotion took over, my mind dropped all the rational reasons not to quit, and replaced them with rational reasons to quit.

At Umstead, a big challenge for me will continue in the face of indifference. To let rationalism prevail when contrary emotions are overwhelming. I won't care - yet I'll have to not care that I won't care.

Let me tell you - if you run 100-milers and don't learn something about yourself, then you're not paying attention.

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time

Mar 19, 2010

A review: Tough Mudder Debacle

READ THIS: If you're here looking for a review from someone who's actually done Tough Mudder, go back to Google and click somewhere else. This page is about a February 2010 incident between me and TM's marketing/PR team. There is nothing here about the event itself that you'd find useful.

My previous two blog posts about Tough Mudder generated a surprising amount of interest and I continue to get visitors to them. To avoid confusion, I am summarizing what happened for the benefit of anyone who comes across my site from Google or another search engine. The other blog posts will be edited to link back to this one.

1.) I wrote a critical blog post about some copy I found on the Tough Mudder web site. After the criticism, I pointed out that I still wanted to do the race. (A true statement, and an attempt to try to be positive.)

Then, a week later, an anonymous person left this comment:

They've changed the wording on the site now - it reads:

"Marathon running is simply boring – FACT. And the only thing more boring than doing a marathon is watching a marathon. Road-running may give you a healthy set of lungs, but will leave you with as much upper body strength as Keira Knightley. At Tough Mudder, we want to test your all-round mettle, not just your ability to run in a straight line getting bored out of your mind on your own for hours on end."
2.) I wrote a follow-up blog post because of this. I was glad they revised it, but still critical because it the copy was still negative. I also mentioned a competing race, called the Warrior Dash.

And I thought that was the end of it 1.

3.) Warrior Dash contacted me on Twitter, and I don't remember exactly what they said but it was nice.
4a.) Tough Mudder posted on Twitter, apparently angry that I said something bad about them.
4b.) Tough Mudder posted on their facebook page, and photoshopped an image of me. This has since been removed, but I took a screenshot:

I want to be clear here: Despite my defensive attitude, more than anything I was shocked that they cared. After all, who the heck am I? It's rare that my blog gets more than 30 visits per day, not counting the people who subscribe in an RSS reader or see it on facebook.

Anyway, the conversation on facebook got deleted.

And I thought that was the end of it 2.


I just heard one of our interns posted something about you on our Facebook page this afternoon. My COO caught this within 20 minutes but not before you had a chance to view and comment.

My apologies, this won't happen again. I think they were just trying to be funny, but it was misjudged. Please accept my apologies on behalf of the Tough Mudder team. If you do want to do our race we would be delighted to have you as our guest (free of charge).

Again my sincere apologies. I hope there are no hard feelings.

Kind regards,

Will Dean
CEO, Tough Mudder LLC
I thought that was nice. Really, I appreciated it. I then signed up for Warrior Dash and paid the fee there.

And I thought that was the end of it 3.

But there is a lot of interest, apparently. But I've had a half-dozen comments since then:

FYI, Dean creatively generates all of TM's FB/Twitter content - the interns just execute his thoughts.
Other people have said (via private message) that he's "manipulative" and "duplicitous." Ok.

Interestingly, I also got a couple of notes by people associated with the Tough Guy challenge, which, as far as I know, has been doing this kind of event longer than anyone. They're based in the UK.

Hi chap, interesting blog! I actually help the chaps at Tough Guy and was fairly struck by what you have written. TG has a problem with the Tough Mudder thing - they approached TG whilst doing their MBA at Harvard, and asked for access to all the info to write a project plan to take TG to the US, for college credits. Now look what the chaps done! Starting a business is hard enough, doing it pinching other folks trade secrets is not just silly, it's the quickest way to destroy a reputation. Tough Guy appointed the first set of lawyers this week. More to come. ADD? Or just arrogance?
My thoughts

Apparently, the folks at Tough Mudder have managed to make a lot of enemies. I don't consider myself one of them. I feel a little like I have been dragged into a bitter fight here - a fight in which I have no stake and, frankly, no interest. The idea of an obstacle course with mudpits and fire and barbed wire seemed like a good time. But I really never considered that kind of thing as particularly challenging; rather, pure fun. What really interests me are the physical and especially mental challenges that go into running 100 miles without stopping, like I will attempt next weekend at Umstead. Races like Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder are merely an idle diversion and a good way to have a stress-free afternoon.

And I hope that really is the end of it.

Unless something crazy happens again, this will most likely be my last post about Tough Mudder or Will Dean.

Original Posts:
Feb 12: Tough Mudder and its Brilliant Copyrighter
Feb 22:Tough Mudder update, and I compare it to two others

October 2010 update!  A friend did Warrior Dash in New York and I compared it to my California experience in this post: Warrior Dash - NY vs. CA

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time

Mar 17, 2010

Umstead Preview #2: Strategy

10 days to go. I had my last hard training run on Monday - 6 miles where I pushed hard on the steep hill climbs - but I'm officially tapering now. Will have an easy 8 miles on Saturday, and do Hook slowly tomorrow but otherwise have short sub-3 mile runs every day this week, and sub-2 next.

So I've been consulting some friends about a race strategy for Umstead, and now I solicit you, dear reader, for your thoughts about what I'm thinking here.

First, let me give you the facts:
* Umstead has a 30-hour time limit, and a 26-hour cutoff at 87.5 miles.
* My marathon PR is 5:42, and I have comparable or improved fitness now
* My 50-mile PR is 13:47 at JFK, and I have significantly improved fitness now

From what I can gather, 100-mile strategy can be summed up as "go slow to go fast", meaning that if you really ease off the pace in the first half, you won't slow down as significantly in the second half and end up with a net faster time. If Umstead had a 36 hour limit, then I'd just do this to the extreme. However, I'm afraid that if I take 15 hours in the first 50, I'm doomed to fail because negative splits in 100-milers are almost unheard of.

So where do I draw the line? Just how hard do I push it to have a realistic chance of finishing under the cutoff? I've thought a lot about this question, and have come up with this idea:

First 50 in 12 hours...

50 miles in 12 hours basically amounts to two consecutive 6:17 marathons. I think this goal is attainable for me, as my marathon PR is 5:42. Since Umstead is divided into 12.5 mile laps, I've figured out that I can run the first four laps like this and reach the 12-hour goal: 2:45, 3:00, 3:00, 3:15 - which is roughly the same as a 6-hour marathon followed by a 6:30 marathon. About a hundred things can go wrong with this strategy (stomach at Caumsett, anyone?), but I don't think that's too much of a stretch if things go okay. Honestly, I feel like if I was running a regular 50-miler on a good day, a realistic "stretch" goal for me would be sub-11. So 12 in the first half of a 100 counts as "pushing it, but not too hard."

...then survive the next 50

Optimistically-created 100-mile strategies rarely go as planned in the second half, so I'm keeping it really simple: just keep going. Whatever pace I can manage is what I'm going to do, but the point is not to quit. Successfully completing the first 50 in 12 will give me 18 hours to complete the next 50 (21.6 minutes per mile). More important to me personally, it will also give me 14 hours to complete the next 37.5 (22.4 minutes per mile). If I can make that 87.5 mile cutoff, I can continue to 100 miles. Then, even if I finish after 30 hours, I still will have the personal satisfaction of having run 100 miles, which might not be meaningful to the race officially, but it will be to me.

I've asked a couple of friends with experience in multiple 100-milers about this and they agree that this is a good strategy. One friend took it a step further, and suggested that I should shoot for a 15-hour second half and a 27-hour finish, pointing out that, on average, the second half of a 100-miler is typically only 2-3 hours slower than the first half. Contrast that to my plan of a 6-hour positive split. Another friend agreed that 27 hours is "definitely possible" if everything goes 100%. My attitude is, hey that's great. If that's the way it plays out, I'm all for it.

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing

All of this is moot, however, if I quit. That's what I did at Rocky Raccoon and drop at 11pm on the first day. 17 hours into the race, I had completed 60 miles and felt horrible. Looking forward to Umstead, my main goal is not to quit. I MUST make it to 8am. If I'm not past 87.5 miles at that point, then at least I'll have the satisfaction of not having quit (Rather, I'll be pulled from the race.) If, however, I am past 87.5 miles, I'll be so close to the finish that I really can't imagine me allowing myself to quit. So the key, in my mind, is to make it to 8am.

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time

Mar 15, 2010

Steve's Bucket List: Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc

This is part of a series of posts where I discuss items on my "bucket list." the introduction to the series is here.

Ultra Trail Do Mont Blanc is a 166KM (~103 miles) mountain ultra that encircles Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe.

The race's loop course takes runners through France, Italy, and Switzerland, and has about 9400M of elevation gain.

Generally speaking, in order to qualify to enter the race, an American hopeful would have to complete a difficult mountain 100-mile race, or at the very least a 100-mile race and a 50-mile race. Depending on the races you use to qualify, even that might not be sufficient.

If these photographs remind you of Hardrock, another item in my bucket list, that is not a coincidence.

People ask me a lot if I ever want to run asphalt races like Badwater. I'm sorry, 135 miles of asphalt just doesn't appeal to me as a runner (though I'm really excited to be on a Badwater crew this year.)

No, what really appeals to me are the mountains, and the unique challenges and scenery they offer. And if the mountains are in a place I'm unfamiliar with, like Europe, all the better. As of right now, this is the only item on my bucket list that is not in the United States, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if that changes.

(These photos were shot by flickr user mako10, who was kind enough to put a creative commons license on his photographs:

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time and can be seen at

Mar 12, 2010

Umstead preview #1: I recognize this feeling

This is the same feeling I had two weeks before Rocky Raccoon.

Which must mean it's two weeks 'til we travel to Raleigh to run in the Umstead 100 mile endurance run. It'll be my second attempt at the 100-mile distance.

The first attempt was a year ago, in Huntsville, Texas, where I ran in the Rocky Raccoon 100, and dropped out of the race at 11:10pm, having completed 60 miles. Miles 40-60 took me almost 7 hours, the vast majority of that 7 hours being miles 50-60. My reasoning at the time was that another 7 hour lap would have me miss the 6am cutoff - they figure if you haven't gone 80 miles in 24 hours, you won't be going 100 miles in 30 hours.

My feelings at the time were of course different, but in retrospect I really wish I had gone out on that fourth lap - just to experience running all night long. Countless what-ifs have run through my head this year, and one way to get them answered is Umstead.

So, that is going to color my experience on Palm Sunday weekend when I go to Raleigh and make another run at 100 miles. In this case, the cutoff is 87.5 miles at 8am, after the sun comes up.

And yes, the nervous anticipation is indeed building. It's the same as last year. I feel like I think about the race almost every minute of the day. It's the same as before my first marathon. My first 50K, and my first two 50-milers. It peaks a week or so before the race, and then goes away completely days before as I get busy in preparations. I don't get that feeling anymore for events less than 50 miles, and since I don't describe "nervous anticipation" as pleasant, I don't mind having lost the feeling. I hope that one day I'll lose it for 100 milers, too - but, frankly, I doubt it - even after I complete a couple, the distance will still be intimidating.

One hundred miles
Turns out to be much more than
fifty miles twice.

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time

Mar 10, 2010

Race Report: Caumsett 50K, 2010 edition

So as I said in Monday's post, it wasn't until Saturday night when I decided to run the Caumsett 50K the next morning. My plan up until that point was to volunteer, but since I hadn't arranged a commitment with the Race Director, I wasn't bound to anything. My last-minute reasoning for running was pretty sound, if slightly risky. Three weeks from Umstead and I have a decent base but very little in the way of long runs. Getting in a 31-miler will certainly help if I don't hurt myself and I can recover completely. Neither of those two factors was a given.

* I was still feeling the hamstring. There seemed to be a significant possibility that I could re-tweak it again, which would be bad. On the other hand, this was a really good opportunity to test it, and see if it would be a problem at Umstead. As it turned out, it had my attention in the first 10K or so, but was never painful. I never even felt it in the last 80% of the race.

* When I ran this asphalt course last year, my knees hurt for a week. I definitely want to be 100% recovered and fresh on March 27, and only 20 days separate Caumsett and Umstead. Time will tell if this was a good idea, but the early indications are good. On Monday (the day after), I ran 6 miles on a track at 11:20 pace and felt great most of the way. On Tuesday I ran 3 asphalt miles and was only tired because I pushed the pace a bit with 10:10 miles.

I thought I could PR in this race, so on Saturday night I pulled out the calculator and determined a per-lap pace that went out several digits, based on the 11.78xxxx laps of this 2.3xxxxx mile course, which I pulled off the race's web site. I came up with numbers that would be mentally fun to keep track of. But when we arrived on Sunday morning, we found that they changed the course to ten even laps of 5K. Initially annoyed that I'd have to do some re-calculating, I realized that this actually made things extremely simple. My goal time was 6:47, 407 minutes. Divide that by ten. Easy. I'll round down to a 40 minutes per lap goal.

So I get there, meet a bunch of friends, and get started. Here is a lap-by-lap report of what happened.

The starting line

Lap 1 - 35:33
I started off cold, probably the least-dressed person in the course - a tank top and shorts. No hat, sleeves, or gloves. I warmed up pretty quickly, and chugged along, slowly.

Lap 2 - 35:12
My fastest lap, It wasn't until now when I realized that I was slow in lap 1. I really got into a zone.. and cruised.

Lap 3 - 36:08
Still cruising, but coming out of the mental zone (nothing good lasts forever.) Still, I felt good and by the end of this lap I was 20 minutes ahead of PR pace.

Lap 4 - 39:16
This was the same as lap 3, but with a short bathroom break.

Lap 5 - 41:05
The hills were getting predictably longer, and my pace slowed. I wasn't alarmed by just how much my pace slowed until I came through the starting line and saw a 41-minute split - with no bathroom break. I wasn't feeling hungry or bonking, but I also wanted to stay ahead of my nutrition - and I thought it would be wise to eat half a PBJ here. I regretted that damned PBJ for the next 3 hours.

Lap 6 - 39:03
Alarmed by the slow pace, I pushed here and got a better time for it, but the rumbling in my stomach was building and definitely had my attention at the end of the lap.

Lap 7 - 49:22
Now 21 minutes ahead of PR pace, my stomach was in complete rebellion. I took a gamble by returning to "The Throne", to try and improve my situation. I lost the bet, with no significant improvement and a loss of 7-10 minutes.

Lap 8 - 51:17
My slowest lap, I walked it holding my stomach almost completely. It was here that I realized the reality that there would be no PR today. My entire 21-minute advantage against my PR was lost in laps 7 and 8. Damn that PBJ!!

Lap 9 - 45:14
Time turned out to be the remedy I needed. My stomach started to recover a bit and by the end of this lap I was run-walking again.

Lap 10 - 42:54
I felt pretty good at this lap, and finished strong.

So, there you have it. Half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich probably made a 20-minute difference in my time.

I just discovered a picture of me running it on Scott Dunlap's blog. To my knowledge this is the only picture that exists of me in this race:

You can clearly see me wearing yellow in the background

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time

Mar 8, 2010

Spontenaity (or, Caumsett 50K quick update)

On Saturday night I decided to run the Caumsett 50K the next day.

Had I decided to do this before Friday's blog post, I would have posted my traditional "race preview" thingy then. It would have said something like this:

* My last chance to get a long run in before Umstead
* I think I can PR.
* I want to test my fitness for Umstead.
* I want to test some race strategies for Umstead.
* I'm a little worried about my hamstring.

I'll post a full report on Wednesday, but here's a quick update:

Finished in 6:55:08 (my watch's time.) I can't claim to have run a very smart race, and I thus spent missed my goal of a PR by about 8 minutes, but overall I had a lot of fun and saw a lot of great friends. My hamstring had my attention in the first 10K, but it was never painful. After 10K I never even felt it.

By the way, ultrarunning is a small world. I think I knew half the people who were there.

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time

Mar 5, 2010

"Maybe you should take a day off"

The wisdom of maintaining this streak has been questioned by People Who Are Smarter and More Experienced Than Me, especially with the hamstring issue I experienced last week. Normally, because they are People Who Are Smarter and More Experienced Than Me, I'd be inclined to take their advice but in this case the streak has taken on a significant amount of meaning to me and my psyche.

While I won't deny that being qualified for membership in the United States Running Streak Association appeals to me, the primary purpose of it has grown out of that rather superficial goal into something larger, and in two ways.

The expected way
I'm 33 years old, and I've come to the conclusion that, no matter what it is, if I do it in moderation, I lose interest and ultimately fail. Don't ask me why, it appears that it's just the way I'm wired. I can give you example after example of how my life is like that.

Moderation didn't get me there

So in the past, I have had a number of 5 and 6 day per week training schedules. None of them worked more than a few days. However, 7 day training schedules, for some reason, always last longer. And the longer the streak lasts, the more incentive there is to not miss a day.

Not a 5-day per week training log

The unexpected way
Every now and then, I get notes like this:
"Steve, way to keep up the streak!!!! Impressive. You've inspired me to start a walking streak. On day 15 of one mile and 3 pullups a day! Thank you!!" (This particular one is from Dusty)
It's so rare that I feel like I'm honestly motivating someone to do something. I'm so happy for those people that I feel responsible to them to keep it up, thus developing a rather unique mutually beneficial dynamic - I motivate them, which motivates me, which motivates them and others, etc. The benefit to maintaining this kind of dynamic should be obvious - when I don't care about the numbers anymore, when I don't care about the results, I still care about the people.

The consequence

There's another aspect to this that's harder to explain. There's an intrinsic feeling of "I'm a runner, that's who I am" that is starting to develop. Without forcing it, "I run, I run every day, nothing stops me" as a self-image is taking root. Does that make sense? Anyway, even if I disregard the practical matter of maintaining a consistent schedule, and even if I disregard the social matter of mutual motivation, I still have this primal need to go out and run, every day. It's like checking email, which I've been doing every day for years. It's gotten to the point where I check email immediately when I wake up, even before going to the bathroom. I feel wrong if go more than an hour without checking it. Running is becoming the same way - and I feel like that's a good thing.

So sorry, People Who Are Smarter and More Experienced Than Me, please don't be offended, I'd love to take your advice, but I have to decline.

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time

Mar 3, 2010

Ultrarunning Haiku Slam 2010

I was super-surprised last night to receive word that I had won a haiku-writing competition.



To be fair, this was rather informal and low-key, and done over an email list. There were about 50 entries, and I wrote and submitted three Monday afternoon after work, while Alexandria and Joe were out. When I saw the competition, I never thought I had a chance. So when I received word that I not only won first place but also honorable mention, my exact words were, "no way!"

My prize is a $25 gift certificate to ZombieRunner, probably the best running store around. (:

The winners of the ultrarunning haiku slam contest are announced!
Thanks to everyone who sent in a haiku and participated!

Steven Tursi gets first place, with his "one hundred miles..." Michael Vance gets second place with his "Spiderwebs". Steven Tursi's "we hear all the time..." got honorable mention.

The winning entries are listed below.

I will be in touch with both of you off-list about prizes from Zombie Runner and Alenepastels.

Thanks! And thanks to the generosity of Don & Gillian from Zombie Runner for prize donations!


Steven Tursi #1

one hundred miles
turns out to be much more than
fifty miles twice

Michael Vance #2

Spiderwebs glisten
in pre-dawn glow, that's the cost
of early trail runs

Steven Tursi's

We hear all the time
"I don't like to drive that far"
used to be funny.

also gets honorable mention...

I really appreciate this! There were so many great entries. Here are some of my favorites:

Bill C:
Bliss on single track trail
Concrete hurts my knees so bad
No more death by road

My thighs are burning
But feet are numb from the snow
That’s a good trade-off

Paige T:
Dear Perpetuem,
You taste so good going down
And give me great burps!

Brian P:
thrown down like a rock.
the eyes, too late, discover
the goddamned tree root.

Michael V:
Boss - "why run fifty
when you can drive?" Me - "I think
you have that backward"

Michael V: (this is my personal favorite of all of them)
I hate myself for
singing Miley Cyrus while
running up mountains

Thomas B:
Thirty miles later
They'll never know how this feels
Pleasantly tired

Fuzz M:
Thirty miles to go,
Blisters keeping me awake,
Pizza sounds good now.

Fuzz M:
Bananas or GU
They both make me have to poo
Trees are fertilized

Jason E:
man, I feel like crap
I could run like this for hours
man, I feel like crap

(As you can probably tell, I'm a fan of the funny ones..)

Thanks, Judges and ZombieRunner!!

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time

Mar 1, 2010

February Recap and March Goals

Ran 28 out of 28 days in 29 distinct workouts
Total Mileage: 111

Ran 59 out of 59 days in 61 distinct workouts.
Total Mileage: 223

February was a mediocre month. I managed to maintain my running streak but every other goal was missed for one reason or another. Here's what the goals were and my miserable excuses why I missed them:

1. Run a mile every day - I did this
2. Complete a run of 40 miles - The run that was going to be 40 turned out to be 27
3. Complete two more runs of 18 miles - Fatigue kept me from doing this last weekend, and a nagging hamstring kept me from doing it this weekend.
4. Four ascents of bear mountain - I did one, the day before a snowstorm, and there's just been too much snow to do it since. Of course, snow doesn't stop some people, just me.
5. Run 6 miles on the days after the 18s - I didn't have the 18s to do this in the first place.
6. Nutrition goals - Let's not even go there.

So it with that downright depressing bit of news that I go into the month of Umstead.

Goals for March

1. Run at least one mile every day.
I am currently dealing with a hamstring "tweak" that occurred on Thursday's two-a-day run. I have no idea what the problem is, but the consequence has been I've been running very slow and easy. I was supposed to run over 30 miles this weekend, I ran 6. Everything above ten minutes per mile. Fortunately, it seems to be improving in spite of my running on it - I think I'm lucky. Having said that, maintaining the streak might actually be the hardest goal of all, because running a mile straight on Monday March 29th after the 100 is going to be painful.

2. One long run of 18 miles
I would say two long runs, but it really depends on how the ham feels this upcoming weekend. If it's good, I'll go long then, and have a second long run the following weekend. If it doesn't feel good, then I'll have no choice but to do just one long run on March 13 or 14. That is two weeks out from Umstead, so it will be my last chance to get significant miles.

3. Three ascents of Bear Mountain
I expect the temperatures to warm up a bit which will allow me to hit Bear mountain a few more times. I feel comfortable doing them as late as 7 days before the big day. I had once ascent this last month and it was amazing. Definitely want a repeat or three.

4. Log everything I eat
Last month was a complete failure in this regard. Needs to change this month.

5. Don't quit at Umstead
Either finish, or miss the 26 hour 87.5 mile cutoff. I'll be disappointed if the latter happens, but at least I won't have quit. I will write more about that as the month progresses.

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