Thanks for visiting my blog. This is where I document and share all of my running adventures with my friends and fellow runners. The good, the bad, and the unquestionably painful. All for your entertainment! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Coldwater Rumble 50: A Dance in the Desert

I think it's fitting that my 2013 race season should begin in a town called Goodyear. I'll take that as a sign of things to come.

We traveled to Arizona to run the Coldwater Rumble 50 mile trail race. This is another fine event put on by Aravaipa Running. These are the same people that put on the Javelina Jundred and this event is very similar in a lot of ways. After all the miles I've logged at Javelina, this race had a warm, familiar feel to it. 

This race is held at the Estrella Mountain Regional Park. A venue with the word "Mountain" in the title is a sure promise of interesting topography.

The race began at 7:00 AM, just as the sun provided ALMOST enough light to see the trail. The thermometer in the rental car shows 37 degrees and the weather man is promising a high of 76 degrees. This is somewhat worrisome because I'be been logging all my miles in single digit temperatures for the last several weeks. Overheating could be a race ending issue if I didn't manage things properly.

Right before the start!

Like all my races, I had studied the race history of the competitors in the field and discovered there would be several, high level ultra runners in this race. Secretly, I hoped that most the field would lack conditioning because of the timing of the race. A lot of runners are just beginning to rebuild their base in January and get back in shape. I felt like I was already in great shape, so maybe I could outperform the other runners and finish on the podium.

My logic wasn't based on any solid foundation of fact. I was just being hopeful.

A quick note of fuel strategy...

There are two 19.5 mile loops and a final 11 mile loop in this race. Jo would be stationed at the start/finish area for the entire event and have my fuel waiting for me there. I planned to avoid the aid stations entirely. In fact, I never stopped at an aid station during the entire race.

I decided to fuel exclusively with Hammer Perpetuem. I added the appropriate measurements of Perpetuem into 3 handheld bottles, one for each loop. I filled my first bottle with water and mixed it up right before the race. The remaining bottles were left with Jo and labeled for each loop because they contained different amounts of Perpetuem based on how long I would be running. Jo would mix the bottles right before I came into the aid station and we would simply exchange bottles and I would be on my way.

To meet my hydration needs, I chose to use Hammer Fizz in my hydration pack. These are tablets that I can just drop into my hydration bladder and mix with water. Dehydration and electrolyte depletion were a major concern for me in this race, but the Fizz tabs worked perfectly.

Back to the race...

When the race started, I went out fast and wanted to see who was planning an aggressive start. I immediately fell into 2nd place and the 1st place runner was pulling away quickly. I wasn't going to catch this guy, even on my best day! After a half mile or so, the field settled into a rhythm and I was stuck back in 4th place. It appeared that all of the front runners were where they belonged as we got down to business.

At the start, while I was still holding onto 2nd place.

At mile 2, my day completely unraveled.

We came to an intersection and turned right. This section of the trail took us up a steep hillside on rocky and technical trail. The ascent was brutal and went on forever. As I came to the top of the hill and started down the other side, I saw the 2nd and 3rd place runners stopped at the bottom. They were standing there talking...looking around...doing nothing.

Then it struck me all at once. We took the wrong turn! I looked behind me to see 5 more runners following us to the top of this monsterous hill. When I turned around, they all did the same. We ran hard trying to get back to the main trail and recover from our mistake. By the time we got there, we were falling in behind the last of the runners. I had gone from 4th place to last place in a 20 minute span of time.

I ran hard, trying to make my way back into the front of the field. This section of trail had a lot of hills and I was running them while others were walking them. I passed a lot of runners and was pushing myself beyond a sensible pace.

I gradually came to the conclusion that I had 45 more miles and the smart course of action would be to slow my pace, conserve my energy and overtake the field, one runner at a time. I slowed down, fueled and hydrated heavily and locked onto an aggressive and manageable pace.

Why do the photographers always sit at the top of the hills?

I had trouble fighting the sense of urgency after getting lost. I spent the next 15 miles being angry at myself for missing a clearly marked intersection. Physically, I was on my game, but mentally I was falling apart. I had been planning all winter for a strong performance at this race and my mistake could wipe away all my preparation.

It served to remind me that it's the little things that make the biggest difference.

Pic from the course. 

I finished my first 19.5 mile loop in 3:20. My plan had outlined 3 hours even, but my detour scuttled those plans.

After 19.5 miles, I was in 13th place. Not where I want to be.

Jo and I made a fast bottle exchange and I was back on the course.

Finishing the first loop!

This race has "washing machine" loops like the Javelina Jundred. On looped courses, I prefer this format because it gives a different perspective of the course when you run it in reverse. It also allows me to see the people that are still in front of me and I can gauge how far ahead they are.

The second loop favored my running style more than the first loop. I was still feeling strong and managed to keep running the uphill sections. I expected to keep my pace steady for the next 19 miles but allowed for some slippage on my pace. 

By now, the trails were getting crowded as the other races got started. Coldwater Rumble also offers a 50k, 31k, and a 4 mile race. This section of the park is littered with trails and runners were zig zagging all over them. We also shared the trails with the occasional group of horseback riders and an abundance of hikers. Thankfully, most the trails are wide enough to accommodate this traffic and I never had to slow down to give way to oncoming traffic.

Beautiful desert landscape.

It was really starting to warm up and I was deliberately trying to drain the contents of my hydration bladder. I sometimes neglect my electrolytes and I have paid the price in the past. Specifically, when I DNF'd at the Zion 100. Those are lessons that I tend to remember forever.

Coming in to mile 39.

After 39 miles, I had moved into 7th place.

I was flagging a bit after the second loop. I finished off my bottle of Perpetuem right before Jo handed me my last bottle. We had planned to drop the hydration pack for the last loop. I was only running 11 miles and shedding the extra load would make me feel lighter. So I opted to carry another handheld bottle filled with my water and Fizz. I'm one of the few runner's that I know who actually enjoys running with 2 bottles.

Sorry Hammer Nutrition, it was HOT, so the shirt got stowed for a few miles!

The last loop is a little over 11 miles. It follows the standard loop for 5.5 miles and then detours back to the finish line. I did my best running of the day in this section.

I knew I could advance by at least one runner and I felt like 6th place was an acceptable spot, considering my earlier mistakes. But I knew I would never regain the 4th place position. I had seen these front runners and there just wasn't enough time to run them down. They all looked strong and they had a big gap on me.

I powered on, leaving the last of my strength and energy out on the trail. I passed one runner before the aid station while he was power hiking a hill, then surprisingly, I caught another shortly after the aid station. I assumed he lingered at the final aid station while I ran right through it without stopping.

I sent the last 3 miles scanning for runners to pass in front of me while looking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn't going to lose a spot to somebody else. I was running hard toward the finish, being spurred on by the thought of an ice cold beer!

Crossing the finish line in 5th place. 

I finished in 8:48:31. This may sound a bit slow, but for the course conditions and weather, if felt unbelievable fast. I had been planning for 8:30. More evidence of how punishing small mistakes can be.

I was pretty pleased with my race and am happy to be kicking of my race season with a strong finish. Overcoming the early issues to finish strong is a major victory for me because I sometimes have difficulty getting passed some of the mental defeats that these races can hand me. It's something I'll learn from and be better off for in the future.

My second big mistake of the day was my shoe selection. I love my New Balance MT10's, but they were the wrong shoe for the course. These trails were littered with pointy rocks and after 20 miles, my feet were being pulverized. The pain was almost unbearable and I know I lost time during the race because I was preoccupied with where I should land my feet. These trails are not suited for minimalist shoes. At least not where my feet are concerned.

My battered MT 10's.

In the morning, after the race, the balls of my feet were badly bruised and swollen. Another lesson learned for the future.

Aravaipa Running did a great job with this race. It was well organized, well staffed, and yes, it was also well marked. I can't blame my stupidity on the race management.

Jo and I are heading into the Caribbean for some running and racing next week. The Coldwater Rumble probably helped me acclimate for the weather that we'll be getting while we're down there.

Thanks for reading. Happy Trails.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Race Preview: Moab Red Hot and Zion 100

As most of my usual readers are aware, my blog is almost entirely devoted to sharing my race reports. As a result, I haven't been posting much lately because I'm in a bit of a lull in my race schedule. This isn't by design. The fact is, there aren't any truly compelling races this time of year, so I've been taking the opportunity to rest, recover, and begin to train for a pretty bad ass year of racing. 

Since moving to Utah, I have shifted into high gear with my trail running and I have began to incorporate more long runs into my routine. Most people would probably be surprised to learn that my longest training run was a mere 16 miles before I moved to Utah. Yeah...16 miles. And that was 2 years ago. I'm not running longer because I feel like I need to. I'm running longer because trail running in Utah is always an incredible adventure. 

My 2013 race schedule includes a lot of Utah races, so I'm trying to take advantage of their proximity by training on the exact trails that I'll be running on in these events. This is also a new experience for me. 

During these last two weekends, I traveled to Moab and ran 20 miles on the Moab Red Hot 55k course and then traveled to Zion and logged almost 30 miles on the Zion 100 course. 

Utah has been suffering through a severe winter, with temperatures staying in the single digits. This has been accompanied by TONS of snow, even in places that rarely see it. This has added a level of difficulty to the training season, but wimping out will get me nowhere.

Before heading to Moab, I contacted the race director and asked about getting a detailed a course description and a better map than what could be found online. The map on the race website doesn't show the entire course for some reason. We exchanged a few awkward emails that led nowhere and the RD wasn't interested in joining me on the run. All I got was "Good luck!" Nice....real helpful.

From my experience, when a race gets popular, the runner's are no longer valuable. This seemed to be another example of this theory.

Nonetheless, Jo and I ventured down to Moab and stayed in our favorite hotel, the Gonzo Inn. We woke up early on Saturday and headed to the start line of the Moab Red Hot course.

Moab Red Hot 55k Training Run

It was -2 degrees and crystal clear. Damn...

Me looking less than enthused about starting my run.

I didn't know Moab could get this cold!

There was 6"-8" of fresh snow on the ground, so I wore my Kahtoola Microspikes. Without knowing the exact location of the start, I made a wild guess and headed out.

An example of Moab winter trail running....

Tuxedo Trail runner's!!! ON YOUR LEFT!!!

Shortly after starting, I made a big climb to get up the mesa and into a wide wash. The first climb was tough, but runnable if a person is conditioned for sustained uphill running at altitude. I walked about half of it.

Once I got to the top, I had a few miles of relatively flat running. The wind was rushing through the wash and at those temperatures, it was brutal.

View after crossing through the wash.

There were a few more moderate climbs over the next few miles, but nothing too strenuous. There were a few sections of slick rock that were exposed through the snow and they played hell on my spikes, but otherwise, the footing was really good and I never encountered anything overly technical.

View looking toward Arches National Park.

View from 9 miles in.

I planned to run 20 miles and hoped to catch a trail that looped back to the start area. Unfortunately, I wasn't armed with the best information and the RD was seemingly uninterested in my success and well being, so I got totally lost.

I came to a junction 9.5 miles into my run and had no idea which way to go. With no real option, I ran another 1/2 mile in a random direction and then backtracked to the start area.

View from the turnaround point.

On the return trip, as a treat to myself, I popped in my earbuds and cranked up a bit of loud music for my run back to the Jeep. That seemed to warm me up a bit. But not enough to keep the beardcicles from forming.

Iced up at 18 miles. 

Overall, it was a bit of a half assed run because I didn't have the course details I needed, but it was nice to get out for a scenic 20 miler. It felt good to run long again and I was happy to be in Moab.

On Sunday, before heading back to Ogden, Jo and I hit Canyonlands National Park for a 7 mile trail run. I scouted the World Wide Web for a suitable trail and off we went!

We chose the Neck Spring trail, which is a nice loop trail near the park entrance. The inter web describes it as "moderate", which is what I was in the mood for at the time.

Headed into Neck Spring Trail.

One of the many cairns on the trail. This one is wearing a little Santa hat!

The trail dove off the road and onto a shelf along the inside edge of the mesa. The snow was about 12 inches deep in most places, but runnable with spikes. We took our time and enjoyed the scenery.

Some type of western ruins about a mile into the run.

Icicles on the cliffs.

There had been very little traffic on the trail due to the weather and we began to struggle to stay on course. Eventually, we lost the trail entirely. We eventually found it again but had no idea which way to go. We were about 3.5 miles into the run and we were getting deep into the canyon. I made the executive decision to turn back and backtrack our way out. I could clearly envision a scenario that involved a cold night in a remote canyon, search and rescue, and quite possibly the need to saw my arm off. Backtracking seemed the safest alternative.

We wrapped up our little adventure and headed back to Ogden with fond memories and all our limbs! A successful trip!

ZION 100 Training Run

The next weekend, we ventured down to Zion to take part in an organized training run for the Zion 100 race participants. I ran the Zion 100 last year and suffered a stinging DNF at mile 42ish. I'm doing everything I can to prevent that from happening in 2013. 

Jo and I booked a room in the Driftwood Lodge, which sits near the park entrance. It's the off season in Zion, so rooms are cheap, the trails are empty and bars are closed. 

The view from our room at Driftwood.

This training run was hosted by Matt Gunn, the Race Director for the Zion 100. Matt has completely redesigned the course for 2013 and some of it is still a work in progress. Matt is a very cool guy and is passionate about his races. I was looking forward to sharing the trail with him.

Our plan was to run the Guacamole Trail, which will come late in the race. Most runner's will see this section through the light of a headlamp, so training on it in daylight can be a real advantage.

This part of the training run was supposed to be about 12 miles. But sometimes....things happen.

Me and Matt before the run. I'm either explaining my shoe selection, or scraping dog shit off my shoe. 

Headed out!

As seems to be a typical theme for Matt, we began with a long uphill run to the top of the mesa. This section was all on a dirt road and we made casual conversation on our way up. Well...to be honest, I was mostly listening because it's hard to talk if you can't breathe.

Once we got to the top, we began running along a slick rock trail, marked with cairns. This section is a lollipop loop, almost entirely on slick rock. This type of trail is hard enough to follow, but this particular area is crisscrossed with trails going in all directions. As we eased into our run, the group got spread out and we started losing people.

I started taking pictures so the search and rescue people would have decent landmarks.

Top of the Mesa!

At the beginning of the loop section, the lead runners went the wrong way. We discovered this when we hit a patch of snow and didn't see any tracks. Undeterred...we pressed on.

Beautiful day in Zion!

Halfway around the loop we encountered our "lost runners". They continued to run the course in the wrong direction and we moved along toward the starting point in the proper direction.

The top of the mesa was pretty easy running, with a few rolling hills and very few obstacles. It made for a nice run and could be pretty fast if it wasn't mile 70 of a 100 mile race.

Shortly before leaving the mesa, we realized we were 1 man short of our official "post run quota". Matt was a bit stressed about leaving a runner to die out in the freezing desert, so after much debate, we decided to try to locate the poor man. Matt had a pretty good idea where the runner got off track so we headed back the way we came and tried to hunt him down.

No luck.

We eventually decided that his survival instincts would kick in and that he would find his way to civilization, so we headed out. As luck would have it, we were right and we encountered our lost runner just before we began our descent from the mesa.

Success can be measured in many ways. One of which is to come back with the same number of runner's that you started with.

We all made it safely back to our vehicles and parted ways. Our 12 mile run had morphed into 14 miles due to our search and rescue efforts. Bonus miles are always the best miles!

Matt and I had planned to do a second run at Eagles Crag before calling it a day, so we headed down the road for more fun!

True to the Matt Gunn School of Trail Running Curriculum, this run also started with a big ascent. After 14 miles of pounding along the top of slick rock, we were climbing another big ass hill.

It's important to note that Matt has been running up and down these mountains for years. I've been running out here for a few weeks. I felt bad watching Matt peek over his shoulder to make sure I wasn't dying on the trail behind him. He was pretty smooth about it though. I have to give him credit.

After a nice long climb, I was relieved to hit a smooth flat section of trail. I caught my breath and settled into a pleasant run, making conversation with Matt.

After a bit of running and chatting, I began to notice that we were entering a gradual incline. I kept expecting the trail to flatten, but it only got steeper as we moved along. Our conversation came to a stop when I could no longer hear Matt's voice as he steadily pulled away on the climb.

 View as we made the climb.

The trail continued to get steeper and steeper as we went along. Surely this would end soon...I kept reassuring myself. Then we hit the serious vertical!

Nearing the top of the climb.

The climb transitioned from meandering ascent to scrambling switchbacks. I was hustling over boulders while following Matt's tracks in the snow. Every now and then, I could catch a glimpse of him as he rounded a corner. Not a REALLY good look...more like a fleeting flash of color. And eventually that ended too as he pulled further and further ahead. At the top of every switchback, I expected to see Matt sitting on a rock to tell me it was the turnaround. But I kept getting disappointed.

I eventually caught up to Matt as he was taking in the view from the base of Eagles Crag. From this point, we could see a lot of the Zion 100 course and Matt took the time to explain it to me. It was a pretty spectacular spot to be.

From the top.

After a few minutes of rest and chatting, we headed back down, retracing our steps through the snow. The run was fun and casual and I was having a great time cruising the wilderness with Matt.

At the end of the run, we had logged just under 22 miles on some tough trails. We exchanged some pleasantries and parted ways. For now...

After a tough day on the trails, Jo and I headed to dinner and celebrated my birthday with a nice meal and a few beers. I was certain this would be one of my most memorable birthdays ever and I wasn't disappointed. It was an amazing day.

Frozen, 1 liter beer mugs filled with fine hand crafted beer!

Matt and I agreed to meet for an early run again on Sunday morning. I wanted to get back to Ogden and he had things to do, so we settled on a short run at the break of dawn. This run would take place on Grafton Mesa, which is in the earlier stages of the race.

Following the standard practice, we started the run by scaling another damn mountain. This section of trail was pretty technical and some sections we very difficult to navigate. Of course, Matt sailed up the trail like he was on a sidewalk.

When we got to the top we were treated to beautiful, rolling single track with stunning views. The trail was smooth and the ground was soft. It was a spectacular trail for fast running.

As my weekend in Zion was coming to a close, I saddled up to Matt and we had animated conversation as we cruised along the trail. It was a perfect way to end a fantastic weekend full of adventure.

View from the top of Grafton Mesa.

Runners will pass by this ghost town cemetery during the race.

Grafton Cemetery.

Ghost Town.

Ghost Town.

Matt and I finished our third and final run for the weekend and parted ways. He had shown me nearly 30 miles of his race course and I logged a lot of great miles with great people.

After training on the Moab course, I came to the conclusion that it will be a moderately tough course, but without better support from the race director, I'm sure I'll be left with a few surprises that I didn't uncover during my training run. Nonetheless, I am certain it will be a fantastic race on a beautiful race course.

I am equally certain that the Zion 100 is going to be a very tough course with a lot of elevation gain and some pretty technical terrain. This type of elevation gain is my favorite though, because it comes to you all at once rather than in little chunks that slowly wear you down over time. Don't get me wrong. There will be plenty of that too! But the majority of the ascent on this course will come in big climbs. You can tackle them, recover, and carry on!

Both of these race courses are gorgeous and challenging. I feel lucky to be in a situation that allows me to get on these race courses and log some great training miles. And as a result, I hope to put up some solid finishes at these races in 2013.

I hope some of this information will be useful to the runner's that will be on these trail with me this year, or in future years.

We'll be heading back to Zion in a few weeks to run more of the course with Matt. That's an adventure I'll never turn away from.

I hope to see some of you on these course this year!

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 In Review

2012 was an amazing year and it brought a lot of positive change into my life. The most significant change is our move to Ogden, Utah in the late fall, which has completely transformed my training, my thinking, and has introduced me to a group of amazing trail runner's that share my passion, my trails, and my excitement for being in the mountains.

2012 was my second full year of running, but despite that, I had a few lofty goals. Some of my goals were reasonable and well thought out. Others were a bit of a stretch and probably unrealistic. Either way, they served some purpose, even if that purpose was purely an educational exercise.

I didn't realize how few medals I took home until I took this picture. I think that's a result of more trail races and ultras, and fewer marathons in 2012.

I am fairly analytical when it comes to this sport and I track certain metrics and key performance indicators throughout the year. I think it's important to understand the inputs and the subsequent results if we intend to truly understand how our bodies perform under varying conditions.

Here are some stats from 2012:

Total Miles- 3100
Avg. Miles Per Day- 8.49
Total Running Days- 336
Total Rest Days- 29
Avg. Miles Per Running Day- 9.22

Total Races Ran- 36
Total Miles Raced- 1392
Average Distance Raced- 38.66

I ran and raced at a pretty feverish pace this year and managed to squeeze out a few good performances and avoid injury all year. But most importantly, I had a lot of fun in the process. I made a lot of new friends, saw some beautiful trails, and spent a significant amount of quality time with my wife. This paragraph alone qualifies 2012 as a huge success in my book!

I assembled a little video recap of my 2012 race season and posted it a few weeks ago. I've never made any kind of video before, so it's not exactly professional, but I enjoy it. It highlights some of my most memorable runs in 2012. You can view it here...

A quick recap of 2012:

January 6th and 7th- I had done the Goofy Challenge in Disney World in 2011 and had some fun, so I did it again this year. I quickly realized why I hate major marathons. No fun at all, but I got in some decent miles by doing the half and full marathons.

I hate road marathons but keep running them anyway. I don't understand it either.

January 23rd-27th- We ran 5 Caribbean islands in 5 days as part of the Cruise to Run. This was an amazing adventure and we'll be back in 2013. The races and terrain varied with each day and each island. It was an amazing time!

Great trail run in Dominica!

Running one of the many beaches we visited.

February 4th- The Rocky Raccoon 100 was a great race for me. I finished in 18:05:35 and came in 12th overall. It was a rainy, muddy mess, but I ran my heart out and had a good day!

Sub 24 buckle!

Celebrating with the volunteers! A well earned beer!

February 25th- The Febapple Frozen 50 is a challenging trail race in New Jersey. It was cold and windy, but I managed to squeeze out an 8:21:36, which was good enough for 3rd place overall.

Freezing my butt off!

March 3rd- We traveled to Mississippi for the Mississippi 50. Another rainy and cold day but I ran well, scoring a new 50 mile PR of 8:05:26 and came home with a 5th place finish!

Coming to the finish!

March 17th- We traveled to Virginia and ran the Instant Classic Trail Marathon. It was a great course and a fun race on a challenging trail. I had a slow finish of 4:10, but got some good miles and had fun.

26 miles done...385 yards to go!

April 7th- We traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico and ran the Cedro Peak 45 miler. This was a brutal race with a ton of elevation change. It killed my legs but I loved the course.

I'm only running this hill because my picture was being taken.

April 14th- Back in Virginia for the Bull Run Run 50. A week after destroying my body in New Mexico, I wasn't feeling great, but managed a 9:07:32 finish. This race has amazing trails and it was a BLAST!

Hot day in Virginia!

April 21st- Back in PA to run the Hyner View 50K. This course is ridiculous. This was the first year of the 50k and I had to jump into it, but it was brutal. I'm glad I did it, but there is no need for a repeat. NEXT!

Going out fast because the next 30 miles will be SLOW.

April 28th- Delaware Trail Triple Crown Marathon is one of my favorite trail marathons. The course has a great mix of terrain but is pretty runnable throughout. After a brutal month, I managed an 8th place finish.

Finishing another fun trail marathon.

May 6th- Jo ran her first full marathon at the Potomac River Run. I came along and paced her for the entire distance. She did an amazing job and made me very proud. I was tickled to be there for her first, despite running 26.2 miles on the mind numbing tow path.

So proud of Jo.

May 11th- The Zion 100 was my first DNF and it stung. I made a lot of serious mistakes during this race and I learned some valuable lessons, but the cost was high. I enjoyed the 42 miles that I did run and I will be back in 2013 to set things right.

Total suffering. 

May 19th- The Dark and Dirty night time trail race is really just a big drinking contest with some running mixed in. As always it was a blast!

My 6th beer of the race.

June 2nd- I ran the Old Dominion 100. This is the second oldest 100 mile trail race in existence and is steeped in history and tradition. It's a tough race, but I had a lot of fun and finished in 22:07:56. This is a race I intend to revisit.

Beautiful and hard earned.

Mile 70 and feeling strong.

June 9th- I had contracted Lyme Disease at Old Dominion and was very sick during the Laurel Highlands 70 mile trail race. I started the race and intended to make it to mile 19 at a minimum. This  represents the toughest section of the course, so completing that would give me some level of satisfaction. At mile 19, I stepped off the course and called it a day. This is one of my favorite races and I'll be back every year to celebrate this run with all of my friends.

Me and the boys pre-race.

June 23rd- I ran the 25 mile OSS/CIA night time trail race. This race was very challenging, and extremely fun. I was still battling Lyme Disease, but managed to suffer through the run and still have a good time.

Finishing a tough 25 miles.

June 30th- We traveled to New York once again. I had run the Finger Lakes 50 miler in 2011 and came back for the 50k in 2012. This race is very low key and has a great course. If I get a chance, I'll be back someday.

These ladies are chasing me.

July 15th- We were back in Leadville for the Silver Rush 50 mile trail race. I simply love Leadville and I love this race. It's a brutal battle, but well worth the effort. I finally managed to break the sub 10 hour goal I had set for myself. I was satisfied...until 2013 anyway.

Pleased with a "decent" run.

July 21st- We traveled to Vermont for the Vermont 100. I managed a sub 24 hour finish but I didn't really enjoy this race or venue. It's not a race I plan to revisit in the future.

Getting dark and hating things.

August 18th- I ran the Leadville 100 for the second straight year, but suffered severely. After vomiting at mile 40, I never recovered and stumbled my way to a 28:33 finish. My most disappointing finish ever, but more lessons were learned.

Winfield headed back to Leadville. 

September 2nd- The Labor Pains 12 hour trail race is like a big family outing. All of our friends are always in attendance and we get to spend the entire day running through the woods together. Like last year, I ran 50k then spent the remainder of the day pacing close friends as they worked towards a new mileage goal or finish time. Jo completed her first 50k at this race and made it look easy. This race will always be on my calendar.

Getting ready for Jo to rock her first ultra!

September 22nd- Virgil Crest is a very tough course. I ran the 50 mile race and felt like I worked hard the entire time. 10,000 feet of gain on extremely technical trail really has a way of slowing me down. But it was fun and I'm glad I ran it.

45 miles down, 5 to go...and it's all downhill!

September 29th- While house hunting in Utah, I stumbled across the Layton Marathon and decided to run it at the last minute. The first 10 miles of the course are awesome. The next 16 sucked. Good training miles.

Another road marathon? Interesting...

October 13th- I ran the Oil Creek 100 and loved it! The course is tough, but very fun and beautiful. I ran hard, had a great crew and pacer and finished with a time of 22:34:39. This is not a flat and easy course but it is a blast!

I love this buckle!

Me and my pacer, Jason. Will somebody bring us some beer?

October 20th and 21st- Jo and I ran the Runner's World Half Festival in Bethlehem PA. We ran the 5k and 10K on Saturday, then the half marathon on Sunday. We saw a lot of friends, ate some good food, and got in some decent training miles.

Jo and I enjoying the festivities.

October 27th- We traveled back to Arizona for the Javelina Jundred. I ran this race last year and really enjoyed. It's like a big running party in the desert. The atmosphere can't be beat and the trail is a lot of fun. I ran well and managed to finish 8th overall with a time of 19:48:52. It was an amazing weekend!

Another JJ100 sub 24 buckle!

Tired and hot.

November 3rd- A week after Javelina, we traveled to Moab for the Moab Trail Marathon. This was a very challenging, but beautiful course. My legs were spent from the 100 miler but I still had a decent run and a lot of fun.

One last climb!

November 17th- We traveled to Maryland for the 50th running of the JFK 50. I understand this is a big popular race, but I didn't see the attraction. Been there, done that. NEXT!

Tow path. Enough said.

December 15th- We traveled to Tennessee for the Lookout Mountain 50 mile trail race. I took a bad spill early in the race and struggled to make it to mile 23, where I decided to drop. Things happen in this sport. We deal with them and move on.

Coming to mile 23 and ready to call it a day.

2012 was a very educational year for me and I hope to build on that as we move into 2013. I'm a smarter runner and that will hopefully translate to better races and better finish times.

I'm grateful for all the people that support me though all of these adventures, especially Jo. She's an amazing partner and I'm lucky to have her by my side. I'm also grateful to all the people that serve as crew and pacers for me. I know it's a tough job and I owe all of these people a huge debt of gratitude. I'm also very grateful for the love and support that I get from all my friends in the running community. Without all of them, none of this would be worth doing.

And thanks to the people that take the time to read my blog. I'm always appreciative of the feedback and support. Writing about my adventures is often much more entertaining than actually doing them. At least in the short term. As the pain fades, the memories shift to happier thoughts.

I hope to see all of you on the trails in 2013.

Happy Trails!