Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Year Running And More

I have been having a very hard time coming up with something I would consider creative or meaningful to say about this past year. Rather than struggle, I toss my wit (if you consider me witty) and sarcasm (I know I have that) out the window. This has been a special year, truly amazing. I have been encouraged and inspired by so many and can only hope my actions are significant enough to demonstrate my thanks.
Here are just a few of the highlights from My Year Running And More. And as always I would love to hear about your highlights too.
...ran our first race as a family at the Multiple Myeloma Race for Research. Also happened to be each of our sons first 5k (the dude in white wants to be part of the family too).

...ran my first, second and third 100 milers at Umstead, Javelina and Bartram. These experiences have shown me that so much more is possible.

...was so fortunate to crew for Tony Portera at Badwater. This experience surpassed my own runs in many ways as I witnessed Tony and many others battle through more than I could have ever imagined. The human spirit is more powerful than I knew.

...volunteered for the first time at TNF's Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain. Rewarding to just help out.
...proudly cheered for Tani as she completed her first post pregnancy run at Bear Mountain (way to go Babe).

...with the help of many, many supporters and donors we raised over $12,000 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation bringing our total to more than $50,000.
...made many new friendships and strengthened old ones.

...Our daughter Isla was born. So cool seeing her with her older brothers.
Lastly I wanted to share a couple of my favorite videos from 2010.
video video

I hope everyone had a year that was rewarding and rich with family and friends. I wish you all a new year of memorable adventures. Peace

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sleeping On My Feet At The Inaugural Bartram 100

The inaugural Bartram 100 and possibly the first ever 100 miler in Georgia (according to the Race Director) was held this past Saturday. Located at the Bartram State Forest in Milledgeville, GA the course was a 5.65 mile loop consisting of mostly dirt roads with some double track, somewhat rolling and nothing technical. The Race Director Chris Lowery and his staff/volunteers did a nice job. They were friendly, helpful and the 1 manned aid station was well stocked with most of the usual fare.

I flew down with friends Tony, Emmy and Marge and we met Lynne in Atlanta and then Meredith, Eddie and Zoe later that evening. Our north east contingency made up about 15% of the participants at this small event. Also running was Lane (his wife Jen crewed for him) who I met earlier this year while crewing at Badwater.

The race, 18 loops. Soooooooooooooooooo painfully monotonous to say, and even more so to run. Therefore I will not bore you, or myself (again) with the details. What I really want to focus on is the meat, not just of this race but all races. In my experience there is always a moment or series of moments, often quite lengthy in every ultra when I question what I am doing. Whether its, total exhaustion, incredible pain, hallucinations, disappointment or just an overall sense of being totally beaten down mentally and physically, these are the times when endurance athletes really have to dig down. These are the moments when we see what we are made of, what is possible.

First a couple of quick highlights.

Race begins at 8am on Saturday. It was a beautiful morning and day, mostly sunny with a temperature of 35 eventually rising to near 60

I ran the first 5 loops with Lynne and we had a blast. Congrats to Lynne on her 100k finish and good luck at the Brazil 135.

Tony lapped us and when he caught up I ran the next 70 miles with him until he finished. An awesome sub 22 hour, 4th place finish for Tony who is preparing to run the entire Caminho Da Fe in Brazil next month, 350 miles.

Now the meat. I recently wrote about my struggles at Javelina 8 weeks ago with serious dehydration issues. That was the meat for me at Javelina. Once again at Bartram there was a long rough patch, different but tough none the less. Around 1am, after 17 hours of running it had once again grown cold, and now it was raining. And not just a light sprinkle, a total down pour. I have heard the Forrrest Gump reference many times but this reminded me of the scene where he describes the rain:

One day it started raining, and it didn't quit for four months. We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin' rain...and big ol' fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Shoot, it even rained at night...

After a couple hours of this torturous torrent, I was becoming very weary. I was so tired and so cold for so long, struggling to move or even just to keep my eyes open. I actually fell asleep on my feet, having come to a complete stop. Fortunately, two new friends Chuck and Jason had come out in the middle of the night to run with me and Tony. A big help for sure, not to mention if it had not been for Chuck waking me up I may have just tipped over on my face. The conversation is short, matter of fact and kind of comical if you can picture me standing, head down with a hooded rain jacket, wet muddy and sleeping. Chuck tapped me on my shoulder and said almost in a whisper "Hey Eric! Are you sleeping?" I tiredly replied "Yeah". Chuck then said "Well stop it and get moving" and I simply said "OK" and started walking. So crazy it makes me laugh every time I think about it.

Thanks to Jason and Chuck for coming out to run with us. It was unexpected and so awesome that they just showed up in the middle of the night to help a couple of strangers while gaining some insight for their first 100 miler coming this spring. They picked a perfect moment to show up as things got nasty during those cold wet early morning hours.

After 17 loops and about 70 miles with Tony, he was done in around 21:58. Awesome job Tony and I will never forget those many hours. The laughs, the pain, the struggles and of course pushing through it all and helping each other when the we were down. With just one loop left I moved right through the aid station and Jason was there to pace me. I told him my goal was to get done with this ASAP a not spend one more minute out there than we had too. I was so sick of this loop by now. We ran that last 5.56 miles like it was my first, about 69 minutes walking the hills and running everything else. 23 hours 9 minutes and as I said to some friends after, 7th place overall but I feel like I won.

It is amazing how my overall state went from a blurry and hazy crawl where everything seemed like it was in slow motion to clear as day in an instant. This is where I pose the question. What is it that motivates us to push through moments, often very long moments, hours upon hours of pain, discomfort, exhaustion and disappointment? I had made a plan and stuck with it. I focused on pace, nutrition and hydration with the goal of avoiding the physical breakdown I had at Javelina. I was feeling great for 17 hours running in a beautiful place on a perfect day with lots of great people. Then out of nowhere I was smacked in the face, with cold, wind and rain that completely sapped my energy and will, making it incredibly difficult to move forward. I wonder each time how this happens so quickly, one moment all is perfect, the next swallowed up by exhaustion. But yet, somehow I and many others keep pushing forward, even if its a slow zombie like walk. I assume every endurance athlete has these moments when continuing seems nearly impossible. But why is there no quitting? Although I bitch and complain during these moments, not for one second do actually tell myself to just quit? But why? It would be so easy to stop. And who could blame me right? Well it just doesn't work that way. I keep telling myself or others struggling to just keep moving and it will pass. I don't always believe my own BS but I say it and do it and then without warning it's as if the sun has risen and I have woken up from a good nights sleep. Obviously that's a load of crap. Still tired and in pain of course, but it becomes easier to ignore as suddenly everything looks, sound, and smells crisp again.

Anyway, I would love to hear other thoughts on the meat:) I for one can't wait to be in it again. As always, I must thank Tani for all her support. Totally impossible without her. Enjoy the slide show.



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Over $50,000 Raised for MMRF

As I gear up for my final race of the year I am again reminded of one of the reasons I run. Simply put, I want to make a difference.

My Father is a prostate cancer survivor. Not only was I inspired by his courage through surgery and treatment but I have watched him put others before himself my entire life. We don't do it the same way but I can only hope I am as generous as my Dad.

And then of course there is Anita. A sweet, loving family friend who has shown incredible courage and strength as she continues living her life with an unwavering spirit and positive energy while battling Multiple Myeloma which has no cure.

When I first began fundraising I never imagined the outpouring of support I would receive. In less than 4 years we have raised more than $50,000 for multiple myeloma research. By the way, the actual dollar that got us over that goal came from Anita:)

I want to thank everyone who has supported me and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. We are all in this together. For continued support just give me shout out or click here.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bartram 100 Preview

With just 1 week to go this is usually the time I like to compare how I trained for my last race to the upcoming. Not sure there is much point here. This will be my 3rd 100 miler this year and 2nd in 7 weeks. Just 6 weeks removed from a tough but unforgettable experience at the Javelina Jundred and I have run about 100 miles. I was able to get in two 17 mile and two 22+ milers back to back this past weekend but that's it. The majority of the past few weeks has been about recovery. Just as I was feeling strong enough to ramp up again it is time to taper (if you can actually taper without building up). I don't really know how to feel about this one. I guess I will just run on fumes and the knowledge of all the great friends and family I have behind me.

The Bartram is a short 5.25 mile loop which must be completed 19 times with a .25 mile of something else at the start. My current plan is to run the first loop just to see the lay of the land. If there are any hills that I would normally walk, great, and if not I intend on being disciplined and run 10 minutes and walk 2 starting lap 2. My goal as always, to finish (although a sub 24 would be nice:).

I will be heading down to Atlanta, GA next Friday with Tony Portera and several other running friends. Noticeably missing from my crew will be Tani. This is the toughest part for me as she has been at every race I have run. We thought this quick trip with the baby would be too much and although I know she will be with me in spirit, this, hopefully is the first and last race she will miss, right Babe?

I look forward to sharing the experience of another new adventure with you all when I am done.


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