Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011 USATF XC Champs

What a weekend! Atlanta Track Club won the Master's Team Championship with 22 points and I won the Overall Title in a kick finish.

Coming into the race I had put together a pretty good training cycle after recovering from The Twin Cities Marathon ten weeks prior. I had trained pretty hard but had not benefited from that one race or session that said "I'm ready". In fact, the week before the race I actually felt a little tired mentally.

On race day I kept telling myself that I had put in the work and actually felt quite confident. The race started in cool temperatures but no wind. I immediately went to the front to ensure a steady pace. We split through the first 3 Miles in 5:05, 5:10, and 5:14. Even though I was predominately leading, we still had a decent size pack so I decided to drop the pace a little by inserting surges. The result was a 4th mile (5:06) and 5th mile (5:04) which set-up a thrilling last 2km lap.

Approaching the final lap Sandu Rebenciuc (formerly of Romania, who made the 2005 & 2006 U.S. Team for the World Cross Country Champs) made a move with Tracy Lokken (US Masters Marathon Champion in 2011 and USATF XC Champion in 2009) and I covering. There were an additional 4 or 5 other runners, including my team mate Chad Newton, fighting to stay in touch.

As we pushed up the small hill with about a mile to go Tracy took off, but the move was quickly covered. We pushed the pace down the back side of the course before I made another move with about 1km to go. Sandu made a very good counter move with 800m to go that seemed as if it might be enough. However, I had trained too hard to allow my lack of concentration to cost me the win.

As we approached the last 600m I clawed my way back to Sandu. We came through the 6M (4:58) mark and I started to close pretty quickly, then with about 100 yards to go 'I opened it up'. I have always tried to have a good quick and now I had a great opportunity to use it. With 50 yards to go I caught Sandu. I saw him look over his right shoulder as I passed him. Coming into the line I continued to push, finishing in 32:13 to win by 3 seconds. It was a wonderful moment to realize you have finally won a US title after 4 consecutive 2nd place finishes.

I had a microphone put in front of me as I tried to catch my breath. While doing the interview I was trying to watch the finishers to see if we won the team title. After watching the first 20 or so runners I realized we must have as we placed 6 in the top 13 team scorers. What a moment. We were so happy as a team. That was a moment I will treasure for a very long time. It is so nice to enjoy personal success with that of other team mates. All ATC runners appeared to run very well, especially Robin Rogers who really only started to train seriously 5 or 6 weeks out.

That night we had a lot of fun reliving the race, where the 'kicks' got a little better and the 'surges' more devastating as the night wore on. However, I'm proud to say that at 6:30am there were 10 ATC'ers in the lobby ready to do a recovery run.

Here are a couple of links regarding the Masters USATF XC race:

Race -

Post Race Interview (Cold mouth, sounds funny) -

Post Race Team Interview -

Alison Gittleman's Interview -

Running Times Article -

What a blast!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Summer Running - Part 2

As I write this article, I am about 6 weeks away from the U.S. Marathon Champs (Twin Cities on October 2, 2011). This summer has been pretty hot and tough to train for the marathon distance. Originally, I had planned on running the World Trophy 50K in Holland (8/20/11). However, after feeling a little run down with training, work and life, I decided to just focus on Twin Cities.

Secondly, I felt I needed to re-dedicate myself to better nutrition. By this I really mean the replenishment immediately after a tough run or workout. I have pretty much tried every type of Gel out there, but lately I have had really good results from using the GU Energy Gels ( I also tried a product of theirs called GU Recovery Brew, which is loaded with lots of really beneficial nutrients such as carbs, proteins, potassium and sodium.

Another great product is the JuicePlus line (, especially the Juice Plus Complete. This is a shake that you can drink immediately after exercise. These products will take you an extra 5 minutes to prepare before your run but are well worth it. I typically make them up the night before and leave in the fridge, as I typically run very early in the morning. I then scoop up a couple of bottles and head out the door. I have experienced much quicker recovery time when taking a recovery drink and Gels during and after my hard or longer efforts. I also noticed a little weight loss as I 'fill up' quicker from the shakes and do not crave as much food.

These little tips all helped me get through the summer while training very hard. I spoke with a local female athlete this week, who is also training for Twin Cities. She started her training cycle a week or two before me. It seems the weather and training have both hit her pretty hard lately. If, like her, you hit that rough patch, don't be afraid to take a workout off and replace it with an easy paced run. If that doesn't work, consider taking one or two days off completely. In a typical 12-14 week schedule one or two days off in a row will go mostly unnoticed by the body, but the benefits are often dramatic.

Finally, I just read the book Running for the Hansons ( The Hanson Brother's run a highly respected program out of Michigan. I met Kevin Hanson when he coached at Macomb in the early 1990's. We share a very similar philosophy on training. The book obviously spends much of its focus on the Elite level athlete, but the training is broken down in a way that is enables modification for a club level athlete. Kevin is a great guy and very passionate about the sport. One of his prized female athletes - Desiree Davila finished 2nd in the 2011 Boston Marathon. On a side note, I met Desi after the Naples 1/2 Marathon (January 16, 2011) - what a nice young lady. She is pretty spunky but very laid back.

Train hard, recover harder!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Training in the summer heat

It's been a long time since I posted here....too long. Upon reading Camille Herron's blog (, she reminded me of how I had a revelation last summer training in the heat. On a 90F day, the first thing a runner typically does is to lose their T-shirt. For most, this seems to feel better than the expected heavy sweating, somewhat uncomfortable as your shirt starts sticking to your body. However, we quickly forget why we sweat and what its function is, other than an annoyance. Obviously, the answer is natures way of cooling our bodies.

Last summer we had a pretty cool Spring (for Atlanta), so I really got used to running in a T-Shirt until mid June, when the mercury started its rapid rise. I was training for Mt. Washington, thus doing quite a lot of hill running. If you haven't done much hill training, you cannot appreciate how much it makes you work.....and sweat. Therefore, as I resumed 'flat terrain' running I did not find the need to go shirtless, except for workouts. I started to feel cooler while wearing a shirt than without. I am not big into science but it appears this was due to surrounding my body with sweat on the shirt, thus cooling down my bodies core. It takes a week or two to get used to, but you forget the distraction in time, just as you did after getting used to wearing a watch for the first few times, or a wedding ring.

Last week it was consistantly 90-92F on my lunch time runs with quite high humidity. This week was a little cooler with the temperature averaging 85F. I actually felt quite comfortable running in a shirt. So go on out there in your favorite coolmax, afterall does anyone really want to see you with a shirt on?

Next Blog: Injuries, stretching and how to train post 40.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

World Trophy 50K - Galway, Ireland

Well it's been a long time since I posted here. In late June I found out that I had been selected to run in the World 50K Trophy, to be held on August 29th, 2010. The timing was perfect due to my Mum's heart bypass operation in late June. The race took place in Ireland and my mum resides on the south coast of England.

Training for the 50K was incredibly difficult, as Atlanta experienced the hottest summer on record. Many of my key workouts were on Tuesday evenings, averaging 95F (106F heat index). As a result, I felt very fit but somewhat 'sluggish' going into the 50K. All my sessions seemed to be much harder or much slower than expected. Those of you who have trained for endurance events know this is only half the test of fitness. I did find that I was able to consistently perform good workouts despite not feeling very good, and come back for more, which is crucial in ultrarunning. Also, I knew the temperature in Ireland would be much cooler than Atlanta.

Two and a half weeks out I attempted to run a tough 10M time trial in 98 (107F). I had ran a 26M two days prior, and predictably crashed in my workout. After struggling on the road and falling asleep in the shower; I decided an easier week or two was needed. Therefore, I felt a little under prepared as I got closer to D-Day.

I arrived in Ireland two days before the race and ran an easy 4M with Ben Nephew, who was also on the US team. Ben had beat me soundly on the Mt. Washington Hill Climb but we got along great. I decided to take the day before the race off as my calf was a little tight. On the tour of the course Ben and I realized the course was much more 'undulating' than we realized. The US runners received a little more reimbursement than we thought we would (670 Euro's in cash [about $840]...yeah baby!)

The morning of the race seemed to bring some strong gusts ahead of an incoming storm. The course consisted of two laps of the half marathon course, then four 1.25M loops of the city center, with a nasty hill on each lap. We realized we would have a headwind for the first 8.5M or so, then a tail wind through the end of the first loop.

Race Day:
Although I realized the wind would be against me for the first 8.5M; I found this part of the course a little bit of a struggle. The course was much hillier than I first thought and I completely screwed up the water stations. I thought there would be someone handing our the bottles to us, instead I had a hard time locating my bottles and gels on the Elite table. After the first two aid stations I shouted 'screw it' and decided to carry the gels in my shorts (luckily I had added extras into my aid station allotment). However, my gel disappeared from the elite table on numerous occasions.

At about 9M my race changed for the better as we started to hit some flatter and downhill sections. I immediately started to run 5:20's and felt superb. We then ran to the end of the pier and around a cone - woooof! The wind stood me up on the return down the pier, before we made a turn on the course towards the city center and the HM split. I continued to move well going through the half in 1:13.54. I had an Italian runner sitting on me which actually helped to push me mentally. On the long hill, at about 15M, the skies opened up and we all got a good Irish soaking. I dropped Boffo (the Italian runner) and pushed on. I tried to squeegee out my singlet and shorts as the sun came out. The course was mostly open to traffic. This caused some major concerns and problems as Galway started to come to life. On several occasions I had to weave in and out of cars, especially on the roundabouts, where Chevy Chase had nothing on me. I would not see another runner (other than the pier loop) until around 28 miles!

I remember telling myself to get to 21.75M to take advantage of the flatter sections and the tail wind. My calculations on the topography were correct, but the wind went from being a tailwind to a cross wind. At this point of the course you run down the promenade next to the ocean so the wind gusts were very strong at times. As I got into town I went through the Marathon in 2:28.14 (or so I thought). The four loops pretty much sucked, despite the bike riders that helped guide us through the city center. I swear the hill got bigger each loop, and the hustle of people became more off an obstacle. On the last four loops I passed several runners and really wasn't sure what position I was in, as some of the runners were on different loops. I actually passed the 2nd place South African runner who was rigging pretty bad. I finished in 6th place in 2:58.18 which I was happy with. I was seeded 1oth so I beat my seeding and got a PR (only my 2nd 50K). Other US finishers: Mike Wardian ran great finishing 3rd in 2:54.56, Ben ran a PR and finished 12th in 3:10.18, Daniel Verrington 19th in 3:21.14 and Mary Coordt 2nd in the womens race in 3:28.30

Post Race:
Ben and I hit the jacuzzi before taking in an Irish show in the evening. Most of the runners departed on Monday morning. As I was flying to England on Tuesday; I was able to enjoy a 72F day in Galway. The highlight of the day was eating a 99 Ice Cream on the beach watching the world go by, before annihilating some fish n' chips in the evening. Tuesday morning I ran 3M easy before departing to England. I had a great time with my family and ran some really beautiful trail runs. The legs recovered very quickly. I was able to run 6M on Wednesday, 12M Thursday and 9M on Friday, before flying back to the US on Saturday. I ran 15M on Sunday as the weather in Atlanta was 56F! This was short lived as 90F temps returned by Tuesday.

All in all a great experience. I wish the weather had cooperated a little more as I think I could have ran a really good time. According to three Garmin watches the course was between 31.46-31.51M. The length of a 50K is meant to be 31.05M so the course was about 2:50 long. That would have given me a time in the mid 2:55's. This race gave me an excellent guide for Boston, which I am planning on running in April. The goal will be to obtain an Olympic Trial Qualifier and win the Masters age group, as I turn 40 in January.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Seven Weeks until Mt. Washington

As I think of the training I have put in over the last 12 months or so, I feel as if I have worked really hard. As of May 1st, I was 734M ahead of the same date in 2009. The body is feeling much stronger and I am very happy with where I am at with my training....and then I read Anton Krupincka's blog - It is then that I realize how much more the human body can achieve. I would like to meet Tony one day, as he seems like a really cool dude.

So what is coming up for me? I am trying to run a many hills as possible while living in Marietta, GA. The treadmill has helped me run some longer simulation efforts at a high gradient. The weather has turned significantly warmer over the past week or so. On 5/15 I will run the Twisted Ankle Trail Marathon in Summerville, GA. This promises to be a very difficult and technical course. I don't think anyone has approached 3 hours but I will try to do so, coming off a 120M week. The following week I am hoping to catch up with an old friend, Frankie Adkins, in Asheville. The aim is to run up Mt. Mitchell on Saturday and perhaps incorporate some of the tougher trails the following day. I have backed off racing a little due to the tough miles but I did manage a slow (15:36 5k) on the first humid morning of the year, at the Big Peach 5k.

As most of you know, Mt. Washington ( is the trial for the U.S. team to be selected for the World Hill Running Championships. I am hoping to qualify for both the 50K World Trophy and the WHR Champs, even though they are just seven days apart. The filed for Mt. Washington is fantastic due to added prize money this year. Some of the top contenders are Joe Gray, Max King, Ricky Gates, Eric Blake, Jason Bryant, Matthew Byrne, Dave Dunham, Zac Freudenburg, Justin Fyffe, Simon Guitierrez, Chris Lundstrom, Shiloh Meilke, Timmy Parr, John Tribbia, and Luke Watson. On a Hill race anyone of these guys could win....or maybe I'll surprise them all!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Post USATF 50K Champs - Speed Phase

It's been just over two weeks since the 50K in Caumsett Park. The first week of recovery I felt great, but the second not so much. The injury sustained in the race re-emerged as I started to increase the miles and quality of training. Thanks to my wife (Dr. Ismay Campbell, DC); I was able to fix the problem and resume my training plan.

The weather has been much cooler and we have had so much more rain than normal. However, my first decent workout (last Saturday) was 73F and very windy. The body felt pretty good and I was able to run 2 x 2.5M on Collumns Drive (5:00,5:04=10:04), (5:00, 4:59=9:59). There was a tail wind on the 'out' portion and therefore a head wind coming back. Overall, I was very happy with this solo workout. Tommy Carroll warmed up with me but did not run the workout.

As I normally say "what's next?" I am now training for the Mount Washington Road Race. This race is 7.3M and follows an old road up to the top of 6288ft Mt. Washington ( at an average grade of 12%. The race date is June 19th (13 Weeks from now). In 2010, this race will be the selection race for World Mountain Running Championships, to be held in Slovenia (Sept. 5th). The plan is to spend 7 weeks working on my speed/ efficiency before adding 9 more weeks of higher mileage/ Hill work. I am also training simultaneously for the USATF 50M train Champs in White River, WA.

How will I prepare for such a tough challenge in Marietta, GA? I plan on visiting Mt. Mitchel in North Carolina a few times. This mountain is the highest peak, east of the Mississippi at 6684ft. There are plenty of trails ( in the area to enjoy including the MM trail, from the campground at 3200' to the peak (some 3484 ft of climbing in just 5.6M = 622' p/mile!.

Happy Running,


Thursday, March 11, 2010

My First U.S. Championship

Leading up to the Caumsett Park 50K, I felt my training had been pretty consistent. As the race drew nearer I realized I wasn't as sharp as I had expected to be. However, flying into La Guardia was a magical experience. Luckily, I had a seat on the left side of the plane and was able to see the Statue of Liberty. I can't explain why, but after becoming a U.S. Citizen, this landmark has become very iconic to me and my immigration journey.

Raceday: I awoke to some lovely nasal congestion. I hadn't felt quite right for a day or two. I hopped into the car and drove to Caumsett in much warmer temperatures than I expected. However, as I opened the car door I realized the wind would be a little bit of a thorn in my side, for my roughly 3 hours of running which was approaching.

The race started and I immediately stayed with my pre-race designated pace of 5:35-5:38 p/m. Mike Wardian and another guy decided they wanted to go a little quicker so I let them go without a fight. I remember feeling proud of myself for such accurate pacing through the first few miles. Towards the end of the first 5k loop the course makes you go around two tight turns. While normally not a big deal, I felt a twinge on the second one in the area of my hamstring/Quad. At four miles I really started to tighten up so decided to stop and stretch. This immediately helped and I started to get back into the zone. Everything was okay until the end of the 3rd lap (of 10 - around 10 miles) when I again aggravated the same area, on the same ruddy turn. At this point I knew I was catching the guy in 2nd so I pushed on. I did move into second but knew it was just a matter of time until my leg would get too tight to run at a competitive pace. And that is what happened!

To cut a long story short, I ended up second in 3:04.22. While disappointed with my time, I am very happy with the way I ran on the day. I felt pacing, nutrition and overall strength were all very positive signs of better things to come. I guess the winners of the selection races gain a spot in the World Trophy 50k. Then the runners are selected based on fastest 50Km time in a selection race (including last years World Trophy race). Therefore, I am currently ranked in 5th place after three races. I am unsure as to how many selection races remain, but it looks as if there will be at least five more. As my time would have placed me fifth (although the WT50K was a much more difficult course); I feel optimistic of making the U.S. team for Galway on August 29th. I will certainly be much fitter as the years goes on.

So what's next? I am back training and now move into my speed phase. Although, I am still going to keep up a pretty good amount of weekly miles. My next race will probably be the Azalea Trail 10K in Mobile, Al. I am hoping for a time between 30:00 - 30:30 but that will depend on how my training goes. I am very focused and feel ready to hit some quick miles.

The clocks change this weekend, Spring and baseball (Go Royals!) are just around the corner - Life is Good!