Lent, Trial, Tribulation, 40, and Running

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Bob on Devil’s Path

Nearly five months later and in the middle of Lent, I am ready to tell my story.  On November 19th in 2014, I set out on what I thought would be an epic run.  I enjoy running and run races of 100+ miles so for me to use “epic” in a description, it does not come flippantly.  So please allow me to humbly tell my story.

The character, me, is a family man with a continual desire to grow his Faith and a conviction to help others.  This commitment to make a difference in the world had accelerated to such a pace that maintaining my perspective on Faith and Family were the only areas I was able to preserve, based on a professional opportunities I had chosen in the past two years.  Then abruptly I was given a great gift to hit the reset button with my family, invest more time with my Faith, and plot a new path professionally while enjoying a supportive transition.

This personal and professional time provided a unique opportunity for me to seek clarity.  The source of this clarity was from myself (not always a reliable source) and more importantly from God.  The gift of running has taught me that the miles/time on my feet distills my thoughts and welcomes God into all of my being in a way that I cannot gain at any other time.

I sought my clarity in the form of a solo run on The Devils Path located in the Catskill Mountains in New York.  Continue reading

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Searching for Balance

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens – Ecclesiastes 3:1

It is disappointing when I reflect on the fact that my last post was in 2014. It has been a struggle to find the time to write and run as much as I’d like given how busy the first 2 months were. The priority I place on my family and faith has not changed but the demands of my professional life have thrown off a healthy balance I try to maintain overall.

Physical Stress

I had planned to start the year of logging lots of miles, fitting in some cross-training,

It may be beautiful but its time for spring!

It may be beautiful but its time for spring!

eating healthy, and getting ready for an insane 100+ Mile race in May called the Cruel Jewel.
I like to train hard and push my body to create the types of challenges and stress I will face on the course without crossing that fine line that results in injury.

This type of stress, unlike the kind we create by worrying about things outside of our control, can be beneficial but is not easy. To make matter worse, this winter has made it all the more difficult. It has involved hill repeats where my lungs burn, screaming quads from running in deep snow, and being bored beyond belief doing mile repeats on a treadmill.  I know that all these things help prepare me physically and mentally for May but Continue reading

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Running into a Year Full of Opportunities: 2015

“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Luke 18:1

While things may not have always gone as planned in 2014, I do believe I have grown from each positive and negative experience this past year. This applies to my personal, running, and professional lives as there have been many reasons to celebrate as well as times where quiet reflection was needed.

As I look forward to 2015, I believe there are many lessons learned that I will apply as I encounter new opportunities or challenges. One is the idea that what I want may require a different approach or greater focus than in recent years.

Getting “Faster” in an Ultra Continue reading

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Is Running 100 Miles Foolish?

“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 1:24

Foolish?

 What is Foolish?

We all run for different reasons. For many it is a way to stay healthy, others crave the excitement of competition, and some raise money or awareness for a specific cause to name a few. However, I know that when I say that I enjoy running 100 mile races, none of these responses will work for most people. The responses I receive would suggest that to them, running that far is foolish.

Part of the struggle I have in trying to explain why running distances people don’t like to drive (which is probably the #1 response ultra-runners get) is that it doesn’t always make sense to me either. Continue reading

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Grindstone 100 – My First DNF

“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding” – Proverbs 3:13

After successfully completing 5-100mile races, I finally achieved my first DNF (Did not finish).  Now that I can be honest with myself, I am not surprised after spending time reflecting on the events of 2014 and the days leading up to the Grindstone 100.

Course Elevation Profile or Jaws of a Monster!

Course Elevation Profile or Jaws of a Monster!

2014 In Review

Unlike 2010 when it seemed like everything went perfectly when it came to running for me, I have faced numerous challenges this year. Despite starting 2014 with a new 5k personal best in March, I ran my slowest marathon since my first one over 8 years ago.  This wasn’t a surprise since I had been diagnosed with pneumonia just weeks before the Boston Marathon. However, skipping this historic race wasn’t an option given the importance of this race after the bombings of the year before.

Weeks later I lined up for the Dirty German 50 miler and after going out too fast, the wheels came off and my breathing once again was a challenge. I dropped from 3rd place after the first loop to finish 24th and wondered if this new pattern of not being able to finish strong would continue.

At the end of June (7 weeks later) I lined up for the most iconic ultra in the world, the Western States Endurance Run. Continue reading

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Eastern States 100 Race Report: STATES SLAM COMPLETE!

“So do not throw away your confidence, because it has great reward” –  Hebrews 10:35

Eastern States 100 Offers a Beautiful and Challenging Course!

Eastern States 100 Offers a Beautiful and Challenging Course!

Awesome! Running a race its inaugural year can sometimes be a gamble as the kinks are worked out and lessons are learned. Fortunately the Eastern States race directors and volunteers did an incredible job hosting a premier event.

The transformation of the trails in the “Grand Canyon” of Pennsylvania over the last several weeks was absolutely amazing. I had run the last 70 miles over the last couple of months and on race day the Stinging Nettle and other shrubs were completely removed from the trails. The course was well-marked and the support from the aid stations was world-class. Fortunately they left plenty of roots, tons of rocks, and enough stream crossings to keep us crazy runners busy on our journey. It is a great course with over 20,000 feet of elevation gain and a couple of extra miles for no additional cost.

Images from the course thanks to David Walker (FB)

Images from the course thanks to David Walker (FB)

I am convinced that the combination of a great name with a beautiful and VERY challenging course has the potential to have this race draw some of the worlds greatest runners in the future. Continue reading

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Pre Eastern States 100 – The calm before the storm

“Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.” – Psalm 31:3

Awesome views on the ES100 course (Photo thanks to the ES100 FB page)

Awesome views on the ES100 course (Photo thanks to the ES100 FB page)

It has been over a month since the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. It was an amazing experience but one which I had hoped would have had a better result. Since then I have been preparing mentally and physically for my next major race in 2 weeks, the inaugural running of the Eastern States 100 (ES100).

The Approach

My primary goal for the weeks between these races was to get out on the ES100 course. I have made a couple of trips out there in recent weeks and covered most of the last 70 miles of the course. It is the first time I have done this before a race but was motivated by fear based on what I had heard about this unknown course. Continue reading

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