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Shaping Up for 2017

The lottery gods are good to me. I am humbled to announce I get to go back to my favorite race, and there have been many. The original 100 miler, the Western States Endurance Run in sunny California. It was my fourth year in the lottery since my 2013 race when I somehow got pulled to run with one single ticket. This year, I had 8 tickets (your ticket number doubles ever year not selected). To get to run it twice so close together is magical. I am extremely grateul and take none of this for granted. My Hardrock dream however continues to make me wait. Looks like it is going to be a speedy and heat training kind of training cycle (I also have my 6th Boston to look forward too). The rest of my year is TBD. The Grand Slam looms and I will decide on that or something else equally epic very soon.  #ws #seeyouinsquaw 

Western States starting line circa 2013. Squaw Valley, CA

Western States starting line circa 2013. Squaw Valley, CA

60K for World Diabetes Day!

Loop 3 of the #nyc60k sitting in fourth. Photo credit: Denie Wong

Loop 3 of the #nyc60k sitting in fourth. Photo credit: Denie Wong

When your local ultra marathon falls on World Diabetes Day, what else would you expect me to do with such great timing?! Following from my distant last year’s 2nd place performance at the 60K (to my good and speedy friend Carlo Agostinetto), my goal was to run my own race. Not only was he returning to defend, but another fast friend in Adolfo Munguia – that would be the 2013 champion, was making a return appearance to the only NYRR ultra.

My ‘own race plan’ was to attempt to run a sub-3 hour marathon pace (6:51) except do so for the complete race of 37.2 miles. All good plans need training and focus and unfortunately I decided to get stuck into the race from the gun instead.

Catching up with Alfonso on loop 1.

Catching up with Adolfo on loop 1. Photo credit: Michael Toma

A lead runner who was a mystery to all of us held the lead for three loops (the first being a lower 5 of Central Park, followed by the monotonous 8x 4 mile inner loops) before our group swept him up like a peloton catching a brave solo rider. From their, the games really begun with Carlo pushing the pace at times and others countering. Clocking off a 6:06 mile was not smart or realistic but that was what was going down at times!

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Running strong in a pack of 5 up Cat Hill chasing the solo leader in the early loops. Photo credit: KJ Englerth

Carlo and the newbie ultra Eric (he told me this was to be his furthest ever run after a 23 mile training run!) took off and left me and Adolfo to chase, sharing third. Checking my glucose on my CGM every loop, I made my calculations of whether I would grab water or Gatorade from the table or even mix it up and tear open a Honey Stinger gel that I had stuffed into my glove.

Loop 3 with Eric. Photo credit; Michael Toma

Loop 3 with Eric and Aldofo. Photo credit; Michael Toma

Soon enough Adolfo tried to bridge the gap to keep tabs on the front two. I knew better at this point than to try anymore heroics, especially as my training for the race involved a spur of the moment 2:57 Yonkers Marathon and pacing the 3:30 group at the NYC Marathon. The rest of my training had been running with my dog Miles!

Along the 72nd St. transverse road once more. Photo credit; Michael Toma

Along the 72nd St. transverse road once more. Photo credit; Michael Toma

Hanging in fourth solo for a loop or so, I then found Eric struggling ahead as we crossed the 72nd transverse once more. His lack of experience if nothing else had caught up to him and he was now going half the pace from when I last saw him. It gave me renewed energy just as I was beginning to fatigue because now I had a podium place behind Carlo and Adolfo (which I had predicted to myself during the week). But later on the same loop, Adolfo pulled up cramping ahead without any previous signs of trouble. I was genuinely upset to see this and wished we were able to race together and gut out a true dispute for what seemed like second place at the time.

But now here I was in second with Carlo well ahead (a mile I believe I was told) as I clocked off a marathon time of 2:58. Two minutes under goal pace in theory but I was now paying the price for those early fast loops. With just a NYRR bike volunteer for company, all I could do was churn out the miles and hang onto second. Any mile around 7-minute pace was a success. I knew it would take something special from a runner behind to catch me if I maintained that kind of pace. But with two loops to go, my gait got sloppier, my desire to push and truly live in the red zone was not there and my pace kept dropping.

The biker reassured me with one loop left, third was way back. The famous last words of fake reassurance. An NY Harrier whom I had not seen for several loops passed and now I was third with no counter punch. Down the west side hills one last time and one more runner passed me and then another. I dared ask if they were un-looping themselves from me in fear that they would say “no”. I knew the answer without asking the question. My body was done and I had nothing to give except the next step. Up cat hill for the ninth time (never again!) and one more runner passed. It took everything in me to not stop and just walk at this point as my final loop was now becoming a real mess.

The final stretch taking home 5th place (??) in 4h 30.

The final stretch taking home 5th place (??) in 4h 30. Photo credit: Scott Shiba

But I focused. I knew Tiffany, Andrew, Scucy and many other friends would greet me at the finish just as they had so kindly cheered me on all day all around the course. The victory was still mine. I knew the day still belonged to World Diabetes Day (as tough as that is with the tragedy of Paris the night before). The 60K I was about to pull off was my 30th ultra marathon, my 49th marathon or more. My place only mattered to me so I did my best to hold my head up high and remember why I chose to run this race today. To inspire everyone affected by diabetes that you can still do what you want with your life, even if that means running nine loops of Central Park.

Belt buckles are usually reserved for 100 mile races but....

Belt buckles are usually reserved for 100 mile races but….Photo credit: Jurgen Englerth

To trump my morning race in the park, my day had only just begun. I went home, ironed my best suit and tie and attended a reception at the Danish Ambassador of New York’s home representing Team Novo Nordisk with many high-profile, or as the Consel General Anne Dorte Riggelsen phrased it “Champions of Diabetes”. To meet the likes of her, Jesper Hoiland and his Novo Nordisk executive team and Aaron Kowalski of JDRF, to name just a few was quite the honor. I am so proud to be an ambassador for diabetes and today was a true celebration of that. As Aaron reminded me #T1Dlookslikeme. It could look like you. It affects all of us either living with diabetes or knowing someone that is. Ultimately, their will eventually be a cure. Until that time, Happy 123rd Birthday Sir Dr. Frederick Banting. You saved my life and millions of others. Thank you just doesn’t seem enough so I will continue to do what I do best. I’ll go for another run.

Editor’s note: I can’t count! As demoralizing as the last loop seemed to go for me, I was only passed by the NY Harrier runner (David White) to affect my overall placing. I made the podium after all and finished 3rd in 4h 26.

T1D Looks Like Me – JDRF

#T1DLooksLikeMe since 1994

#T1DLooksLikeMe since 1994

If you have T1D or know someone who does I strongly encourage you to be brave and change your social media profile picture (thanks to the help from our friends at JDRF) with the #T1DLooksLikeMe campaign to help raise awareness during National Diabetes Awareness Month or simply NDAM. It’s a small ask that could create a BIG impact. Let’s show the world what a T1D looks like and what we can achieve living with diabetes! It’s time to help educate and be proud to be a strong member of the diabetes community. Click the link here and give it a go;

 

Pearl Izumi Champions Team!

New year, new goals and luckily for me, new gear! I’m excited to announce that I have been selected to be a member of the ‘Pearl Izumi Champions Team’ for 2015.

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Ready for some adventures in these N1 and N2 beauties! #run365 #pearlizumirun

Pearl Izumi (originally a cycling brand) have been making great trail and road shoes for well over a decade from the brains and nohow at HQ in Louisville, Colorado.

More than 50 years ago in Tokyo, a father produced Japan’s first bicycle racing apparel for his son, a promising racer. Today, Pearl Izumi USA, Inc. has evolved into the world’s foremost line of technical-performing and quality manufactured sports apparel.

The name Pearl Izumi is derived from the gem “pearl” and an area of Japan known for its clear water “Izumi.” Literally translated, our name means, “fountain of pearls.” 

I love the simplicity of the shoe names; N1, N2 etc. The N stands for neutral and the number means the amount of cushioning or midsole thickness as PI likes to say. The higher the number, the thicker the shoe. But I also love all of the good stuff I’ve heard about Pearl Izumi as a company both from friends that work for the organization and elites that have had sponsorship deals with them over the last few years. Timmy Olson winning Western States 100 in some N1 trails didn’t hurt get the name out further, I’m sure.

I plan to be toeing the line in a pair of road N1’s for my 2015 debut race on March 1st; the USATF 50K championships in Long Island. I’ve just picked up two pairs of them for some hardy tempo workouts and a pair of N2’s for some easy miles and so far so good. Looking forward to picking up some trail shoes next and some apparel to boot. Lucky me indeed. It’s truly an honor to get this kind of opportunity as an amateur runner and I don’t take it lightly. Thank you Pearl Izumi!

Brooks Running: Forever, I will ‘Inspire Daily’

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In 2010 with just two marathons under my belt, I was fortunate enough to get taken on board by the Brooks ID (Inspire Daily) program (and in 2014, the Fanatics). I had one very focused running goal back then; break the 3-hour marathon barrier.

In the present day, I look back over almost five years associated with Brooks and realise how far I have evolved both physically and mentally with 14 more marathons and 22 ultramarathons in the archives (and God knows how many pairs of shoes).

Sadly though, Brooks have decided to cut the ‘grassroots’ program. I will miss it for sure but look back on the experience with only a big smile because of all the friends I’ve made along the way, who have inspired me to keep pushing the boundaries. #brooksrunnning #runhappy #inspiredaily.

Brooks ID 10.10.10.

Achieving my ‘then’ goal, ironically my first race for Brooks ID; Chicago Marathon 10.10.10 in 2:58.

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