May 7, 2018

A little race next week

Some of my recent and not-so-recent numbers banging around in my noggin as the packing begins for next week's 144-hour extravaganza at 3 Days at the Fair in New Jersey ...

280      straight days in the current run streak, starting Aug. 1, 2017

1:44:00 per day runwalk average during this stretch

47      percentage of days I have done only a 20-minute runwalk during this stretch

     races or training days that lasted somewhere between 8 hours and 27 hours during this timeframe

13    double-long-run Sundays during 2018

2     different training blocks of 10 2-hour runwalks in 10 consecutive days during this current build-up

150   calories an hour, my singular goal for every waking hour during next week's 6-day race

314   miles, my total at this race last year, my inaugural foray into the 6-day world

63    miles, my longest single-day mileage total last year, Day 6

40    miles, my shortest single-day total, Day 5

1,545  career miles on the upcoming 3 Days at the Fair course during this event (1 x 48 hours, 6 x 72 hours, 1 x 144 hours)

1  guarantee that there will be so much laughter to go along with the tired feet, aching legs and sleep-deprived ravings

April 20, 2017

This Time

This time is the same.

As I approach the starting line of my 200th race marathon or longer, I still have no clue what I am doing. And I'm still having so much fun doing whatever feels right when I'm out there on each run.

This time is the same.

I have 14 different pairs of shoes in the running rotation, and I never wear the same pair two days in a row. Yoga is one of my best friends. Meditation continues to grow on me.

This time is the same.

I think about this next race at least 30 times each day, dreaming of how it's going to feel when all systems are go and the miles are floating past. And how it's going to feel when all systems are no and I can't figure out how to unzip my tent from the inside. Or where the zipper is on my sleeping bag.

This time is different.

This time, I see the boundless beauty of the sunrise as I paint the canvas below it with miles on top of miles.

This time is different.

This time, I hear the birds as they chat back and forth. And the wind as it makes the trees creak. And a growing optimism that comes when you once again make friends with the hurt.

This time is different.

This time, I smell the honeysuckle as I'm in pre-dawn flight over rolling country roads. And the hint of rain on the air just before a downpour.

This time is different.

This time, I feel my mind forging steel it hasn't experienced in a very long time. And the burn in my quads when speed work gets real. And the sun on my cheeks during so many mid-morning long runs.

This time is different.

This time, all the work has been laser-focused on helping me find that sweet spot where I'm covering the ground with the least amount of wasted energy. Relaxed, rhythmic roll rules.

This time -- as I look down the barrel of my first 6-day race -- I am reminded of these two irrefutable truths:

Fear often bats first.

Hope always bats last.

March 21, 2017


Super-long Tuesday morning city run, hiking along and enjoying some grub when I hear, "Hey, what are you doing?"

"Running and having some breakfast."

"You eat McDonald's when you're running?"

"If it's a really, really long run like this one, yeah. Sometimes."

"You're weird."

"Do you guys know what the word 'perceptive' means?"

"That we're smart?"

"I think of it as being able to tell what something really means or what something really is."

"So if Miguel says that you're really weird, then he is perceptive?"

"Hey, you're the one who said he's weird!"

"OK, then I'm ... what is that word again?"


"Yeah, that's it. I'm perceptive, too. And we're only in the third grade."

"Y'all have a great day, fellas."

"How long you gonna run for?"

"Another couple hours."

"We'll almost be eating lunch by then. Well, OK. You keep running."

"I hope to. For a very, very long time."

December 26, 2016

Wear Your Cape

I'm heading home near the end of this morning's 2-hour runwalk that included an all-out 1-mile spurt when a squeaky little voice catches my ear.

"Hey Runner Man, I have a cape just like yours."

"Oh hey there. Whaddaya mean ... (and that's when I remember that I have my fleece pullover tied around my neck like, well, a cape.)

"Merry Christmas," I say.

"Thanks, but that was yesterday," she reminds.

"Hey, what's your name, anyway?"

"Sara, and I'm 6 years old."

"So is that Sara with an H, or no H?"

"It's just Sara. My mom and dad say that you're crazy. They see you running all the time and say that you dress funny and never wear the right pants."

"Well, your mom and dad are probably right."

"When I grow up, I wanna be a firefighter. Or a ballerina. Or maybe something else, and for sure I wanna be something where you get to wear a cape."

"All of those are awesome, Sara. Be all those things."

"Bye, Runner Man. Keep wearing your cape."

I'll do that, Just Sara. I'll do that for sure.

October 5, 2016


 I love that sweet spot

among the crickets and the coming of the day

when I feel as if I can cup the Magnitude of Life

and turn it round and round

seeing it from different angles

breathing in its radiance

marveling at its glow

accepting its existence



if only for a briefest of moments

my place in it.

July 18, 2016

One for the Books

Dear Katie Keier,

Thank you.

I've seen way more than my share of ultrarunning magic – and your 200-plus miles on The Wild Oak Trail this long weekend was all that and more.

I was in the same arena in New Jersey when Phil McCarthy collected 257 miles in 48 hours, shattering the previous American record by more than 20 miles in abysmal weather conditions.

And I was doing Umstead 100-Miler the year that Mike Morton clocked a 13:11. Yeah, a 13:11. For the whole thing.

Another time in New Jersey, I was in the race when Sandy Powell and Liz Bauer went toe-to-toe for 48 hours, with Liz nailing an AR 203 miles and Sandy battling valiantly to 195 miles.

And I've been in the mix when Morton has done 164 miles at Hinson Lake 24-Hour, a virtual solo time trial performance.

And I was running that year that Glen Redpath blitzed 139 miles at Crooked Road 24-Hour, another mind-bendingly hard effort that outdistanced his closest competitors by more than a marathon.

Yep, I've seen some of the best of the best magicians ply their craft in this crazy running thing that we do. I saw another one working her magic this past weekend. You.

You did it. The inaugural run of 200-plus TWOT miles. And I knew you were going to, especially because I saw the way you were moving during that brief two-hour stretch we shared around Miles 112-116 Saturday morning.

I doubt you remember much of our exchange during that stretch, but I sure do. Through that ever-present Katie Keier smile of yours, you recounted to me how Loop 2 was a dark patch for you, but then some food and a nap revived you. I told you that I was glad you worked through it, and that's when you turned back to me, looked me right in the eye and said, "That was really, really hard. I'm glad that part is over," and then you proceeded to run the next 100 yards or so down the fairly technical downhill section of trail.

That look you gave me – that I-trained-my-ass-off-for-this-and-it's-supposed-to-be-hard-but-I-got-this look – told me all I needed to know about whether you'd see 200 miles on this trip.

When the torrential rains blew in the next day and our local news reported that the Stokesville area got 4-5 INCHES of rain in several hours, my first instinct was, "Oh no. Katie and her bunch have to be out there on the loop somewhere” – but then I remembered that glint in your eye, and I just smiled to myself. I knew you'd do it.

And do it you did.

Proud member of two different 1,000-mile finisher clubs and proud owner of double-digit finishes at two other ultra races, I have a special, special place in my heart for tenacity. That said, what you did at TWOT went way, way beyond tenacity.

So, thank you. Thank you for letting me come play for a couple hours. Thank you for being such a happy, vibrant ambassador of trail running. Thank you for letting so many different people share in this remarkable journey.

And thank you for providing me with an image of perseverance, grit and calmness under fire that I will draw from for many, many years.

So proud of you, Katie. You dared to dream. You dared to do the work. You dared to take the chance. And then you went out and kicked the livin' shit out of it.

April 22, 2016

Running is ...

Running puts me with my people. Running gets me out of my head and completely in my head at the same time. Running is the thing I do better than all the other things.

Running allows me to eat whatever I want. Running keeps me awake at night. Running gets me out of bed in the morning. Running makes the nap a necessity, and a distinct pleasure.

Running is my reason for so many other activities like yoga and strength work that complement it. Running betters my days. Running gives me concentrated time to help shape my perspective.

Running is who I am. Running is who I want to be. Running makes me whole.

Running shapes my words. Running fuels my self-discovery. Running hones my grit.

Running helps me choose which dreams to chase. Running makes me vulnerable. Running heals me.

Running is simple. Running is profound.

Running is my canvas.