Let Me (Re-) Introduce Myself

Hello. (It’s me…) It’s been a long time since I last published an entry, but don’t think that I haven’t thought about this blog every day of my life. I breathlessly check for pre-order links for the new shoes that interest me, always with the goal in mind of producing a blog post about them. Sometimes I get so excited to read a new shoe review issue of Runner’s World I have to stop and collect myself for a few minutes before I can even handle it. Not caring about this stuff isn’t the problem — it’s that I care too much. After spinning my wheels for far too long, I’m going to stop letting perfect be the enemy of good and just write. It feels good and with practice I’ll get better, just like with running.

Finally writing (for a change) isn’t going to be the only difference around here. I’m changing the name of my blog to reflect what it’s really about: (this) runner’s reviews. To my mind, reviews are my thoughts on any number of topics: races, gear, nutrition, or even inspiring training runs. Your mileage may vary, so to speak, but my reviews will give you a sense of my experience with a given product or event and perhaps some actionable intelligence to use in your own training and gear buying.

With that in mind, I’d like to tell you a little more about myself. My name is Hope, but I’ll go by Ultrarunner Hope on here because once you huck your undertrained carcass over a 50 mile course, you’ll be damned if you let anybody forget you’re an ultrarunner. I’m 27. My Myers-Briggs personality type is INFJ. I like shoes and Diet Coke, but not as much as I like dogs. I’m not sure if I like dogs more than pizza. I wear baseball hats a little bit crooked, not because I’m a douchebag, but because I do my ponytail just a little bit crooked. I have an ear for good quotes and some of those will appear here. My sneaker habit extends to casual sneakers too and the Asics Gel-Lyte V is my all-time favorite silhouette. I lift weights daily and am not ashamed to say that I skip leg day. I am ashamed to say that I don’t run trails basically at all except for races. That’s shameful since I love trail running, but am fearful of going alone. I aim to read at least 50 books each year across print, audio, and ebook formats with an emphasis on military non-fiction, literary fiction, award winners, and classic novels. I travel regularly for work, often internationally. I have no illusions about being cool, and certainly not too cool for anything; I do what I like and I don’t do what I don’t like and I buy what I like (and can afford) and don’t buy what I don’t like. I’m an enthusiastic runner, but not especially talented. I bring no formal high school or college running experience to the table and I suspect that my running economy is lousy, but I know what works for me and what doesn’t, what feels good and what doesn’t, and that will form the basis for my reviews.

I picked up a few of the early Spring 2017 shoes, so I’m excited to get some miles on the following models and let you know my thoughts (hint: if it says there’s a review, the shoe name is a link):

Altra Escalante

Hoka One One Hupana

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3

Saucony Freedom ISO (reviewed  2/28/17)

Skechers GoMeb Razor

I’ll be back next week with my first review of 2017. Until then, happy trails!

-Ultrarunner Hope

I Get by with a Little Help from My Friends

Running is a solitary activity for me. I enjoy the camaraderie of racing and feeding off of the energy of people who love this sport as much as I do, but I put in my training miles on my own with only rare exceptions. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t still need running buddies.

One of my dearest running friends is someone I don’t see often, but I reflect fondly on the time she donned a pig suit to meet me in the final miles of a marathon (and I mistook someone else on the course in the same pig suit for her, hollering my hellos at the other swine suit until I spotted its unfamiliar sneakers), the time she paced me during a 10k in which I carried a flag, handing me water I couldn’t easily grab on my own, and the time we posed with goofy hats and accessories at the Rock ‘n Roll USA race expo.

This weekend she planned a long run so she could see me near the halfway point of the Stone Mill 50 Miler. I let her know right away when I sprained my ankle near mile 18 that my day was over and I’d miss her. In the days since, she’s been very positive and encouraging, checking in with me via text to see how I am feeling (both emotionally with regards to the DNF and physically). I’m not really bummed, since I know that dropping out of the race when I was injured was the smart choice, but it still helps to hear kind words from a fellow runner who understands the frustration of being unable to run (next person who asks me what happened will hear a tall tale of how I fought and defeated a bear – I’m that tired of telling my sprain story).

Most recently, our conversations have turned from planned races (there’s always another race, even for the humbled and hobbled!) to our philosophies about running. We’re both of the opinion that a low-key approach makes both running and racing more fun. To a certain extent, it’s fun to ‘science’ running – to try various gear combinations, training methods, nutrition plans, race strategies, etc. to try to optimize performance, but at the end of the day, performance isn’t what it’s all about. Running should be fun. Granted, performing at or close to your best can be fun, but if you’re moaning and groaning about missing a new PR because you couldn’t run tangents in a race, are you having fun? A race is a snapshot of your running life and it may not be a fully representative snapshot. On any other day, you would’ve nailed that PR, no sweat, but today wasn’t any other day, it was race day, and your legs were smoked with five miles still to go. It’s crucial to love the running that you do before you cross the start line. Without that boundless love for running, there is too much pressure to achieve perfection in the race. If you hate lacing up before sunrise but do it because you’re a slave to shaving seconds off of your time, when you bonk on race day it feels like a failure. Once you’ve missed your time goal, if you don’t love just plain running, how do you find joy in a race? What’s the point if at the end of the day you’re not running for the fun of it? Take back your life and engage in a hobby you actually enjoy!

What I’m not doing right now is fretting about losing fitness or speed – I’m just disappointed to be missing out on the fun I have running. When I’m back on my feet, I’m keen to (safely) pour on the mileage, making sure to savor every bit of it.

The Blog Post I Thought I’d Never Write

No, not because I post so infrequently, but fair point.

On Saturday, I DNF’d a race for the first time in my life. In my twisted runner logic, I’m pleased that it didn’t come down to a failure of training, courage, fortitude, or guts, but rather a failure of ligaments in my left ankle. Cornering at speed over a thick carpet of dry leaves around mile 18 of the Stone Mill 50 Miler, my ankle turned sickeningly far after landing on who-knows-what under those leaves, swelling up instantly.  After trying to run for another minute or so, I realized my day was over. If it’d happened at mile 48 it would’ve been a different story — I would’ve hobbled to that finish line, but at mile 18 I had no business hobbling anywhere except to a doctor’s office. I shuffled back to the nearest aid station (luckily less than a mile back) and arranged a ride back to the start so I could be picked up there.

X-rays at an urgent care facility revealed no break — hallelujah! — but I will have to take a break from running for 4-6 weeks while I heal and that’s still a mega bummer.

In the meantime, I plan to keep my spirits up by programming exercise routines for myself that can be performed without putting pressure on my ankle — think lots of ab wheel rollouts and seated concentration curls — so I can still get my sweat on. During my taper for Stone Mill, I reorganized my room to create space for a manual treadmill which I haven’t even run on, just taken a few steps to test the noise factor and my assembly skills. I purchased the treadmill to avoid risking my body on runs over icy streets this winter — the irony that I injured myself on dry ground in above-freezing temperatures is not lost on me!

Anyhow, just wanted to share my humbling experience. There will always be other races.

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Goodbye, finish line; hello Frankenstein Ankle!

Accidentally Running a Possible PR; First Look at the Kinvara 6 on Feet

This year marked my third running of the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, the annual “rite of spring” about which I regularly kvetch. Too crowded. Too many big-butt ladies lined up at the front of the faster corrals and walking out of the gate (Please tell me, seriously, what good does it do you to LIE LIKE A RUG on the entry form about your expected finish time???). No sign of the supposed stars of the event, the cherry blossoms.

Well I’m not kvetching this year. Yes, I did see someone cheat and not run all of the way to a turnaround point. Yes, the course was altered due to investigation into a traffic accident. Yes, there were still big-butt ladies where they didn’t belong. But this year, we got the cherry blossoms and that changed everything for the better. I was completely seduced by the delicate, sunlight dappled blooms surrounding the Washington Monument. Look at the picture and tell me that isn’t serene. I would gladly run five lousy Cherry Blossoms to get one as nice as the 2015 race. The loveliness of the day put me in a stellar mood and that too made all the difference.

After running the Hashawha Hills 50k at the end of February and two marathons in March, my legs were kind of dead, so I haven’t been running much. Thus, my expectations for my Cherry Blossom performance were low — I just wanted to beat my boss (otherwise life would cease to be worth living — his heckling isn’t good-natured) and keep my time under 90 minutes. I started out fast, hoping to avoid having to do too much weaving through the crowd (I never thought I would say this about a race, but Cherry Blossom really does need more corrals since the pace disparity within each wave is too much) and when I did one of my regular, “how are you feeling” checks around the two-mile point I realized that I was feeling great and could keep pushing the pace. When I wasn’t hemmed in by too much human traffic, I was practically bounding over the course with big, bouncy, joyful strides. When I’m feeling it, I’m feeling it! I’d promised myself to not check my watch during the race so I’d focus on enjoying it rather than hitting a time goal, so I stuck to that and just ran by feel. I was surprised at the finish that I managed 1:17:50 — slightly better than my previous 10-miler PR, which I ran at Cherry Blossom in 2014. I basically accomplished my new record by accident.

With one caveat: the course may have been short. My GPS watch didn’t read short; I think it even came up long since I had to weave and pass people for the duration of the race. However, the traffic accident I referenced earlier caused a last-minute course change (We may have skipped an entire bridge? I never look at course maps very carefully; one of my friends noted that change to me, saying that the course was likely 0.25-0.5 miles off.) and the time between the mile six and mile seven signs seemed suspiciously short. I’ll wait until I hear something official about the change. Either way, I wasn’t looking to run a PR so I’m not going to get my knickers in a twist if the course was in fact short. I had fun and I’m pleased with my performance and that’s what matters. Also, I think I look pretty majestic in this picture. PROOF shot with scrolling text all over it or it didn’t happen, amirite?

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After the race I went out for Mexican food with a friend and some of her friends. Feast your eyes on the beauty of the breakfast burrito I basically inhaled. It was good as it looked!

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One of the women I was with is local-elite level — she recently ran a marathon in 3:18 and was disappointed by her time. She was so jazzed about running that I found myself getting motivated too. I might look for some summer races or more races for this fall since I’ve only got two left on my entire 2015 calendar.

The husband of another woman who came to breakfast with the group came with his fancy DSLR camera and made the mistake of dressing in a neon yellow jacket…just like the Marathonfoto photogs! Runners were coming up to him and posing, so of course rather than explaining that he wasn’t shooting the race in any official capacity, he just took their pictures. Naturally we gave him blue hell about it. He took a couple pictures with me in them after the finish, so I may be able to post one when they get passed around.

Also of note: I’d pre-ordered the Saucony Kinvara 6 and my pair arrived yesterday.

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Initial impressions without having run in them:

They look sick. Big win for me on the blue/slime green men’s colorway. This is a shallow observation, but I know myself well enough to acknowledge that I won’t run in a shoe if I hate how it looks, even if it’s a great fit for my feet and gait.
Fit is hugely improved over the Kinvara 5 — actually felt lockdown. Hallelujah!
The heel isn’t sloppy. Quick visual comparison revealed that the heel is much narrower in the Kinvara 6 than the Kinvara 5 so heel slippage should be less of an issue.

I missed the fast feel of the Kinvara 3 and 4 in the 5. The construction of the 6’s upper is still more like a regular trainer than a hybrid trainer-racer/light trainer, but it seems to be going back more to its roots. I feel like the Kinvara crowd isn’t hoping to get a tradtional, plush trainer-like upper with the shoe so the move to the beefier tongue and collar between versions 4 and 5 still puzzles me, but 6 seems to have struck a better balance. Once I get some runs in the shoe I’ll have a more informed opinion. I’m keen to do a comparison review of the Kinvara 3, 4, and 5 since I still have each, but that would require a lot of refresher runs in the older iterations. We’ll see!

Paris-athon

After a flurry of posts, I went silent because I was legitimately busy. Busy enough to not be guilted by those shirts that read, “Someone busier than you is running right now.” Last week I flew to and from Paris for work, ran my ninth marathon, AND AND AND…I ate all five bananas in the bunch before any of them went brown. *drops the mic*

*Picks the mic back up* In all seriousness, it was a whirlwind (and I did eat all of the bananas in time). Having never been to Paris before, I determined that I needed to see as much of it as possible on the day that I landed, my one free day before I had to work. So upon landing, I hustled from CDG to my hotel via the RER and metro, dropped off my bags, and instead of enjoying a daylight-consuming nap, I made hay while the sun shone: I walked around the City of Lights for over six hours, covering nearly a half marathon in distance per my Fitbit. The adventure exhausted me further, but I managed to check a number of “must-see” landmarks off of my list, so next time I visit Paris, it can be Anthony Bourdain-style, just eating well, drinking nice wine, and relaxing. My series of Selfies in Front of Notable Parisian Landmarks includes the Eiffel Tower, the pyramids at the Louvre (no time to go in, and it was closed anyhow), Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, the Tuileries, and the Musee d’Orsay. If I’m making a bad face in any of those photos (I’m not going to post them all here), it’s probably because someone is harrassing me about donating to the deaf mutes again. Who thought that in Paris it’d be the locals demanding to know if I spoke English!

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Is that an antenna sprouting out of my head, or is it the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair?

Fortunately, since my trip was so brief, I didn’t get adjusted to Paris time, so I wasn’t jetlagged upon my return. I flew out Monday evening, returned on Thursday afternoon, and made it into the office on Friday no problem.

More importantly, at least as far as this blog is concerned, the trip didn’t affect my race performance. Walking all around Paris helped refresh my legs after the 50k to Rock ‘n Roll Marathon debacle, so although my springs still weren’t 100% springy on Sunday for the Runners Marathon of Reston, I felt much better and managed a time less than 1:00/mile off of my PR. Given that my training got a bit derailed by the icy winter (and I’m not as painfully thin as I was when I ran the PR), I’m quite happy with that result. Since RMR is so very small, my time was still good enough for second place in my age group!

I love that the race is small. The logistics are a dream: I park in the parking lot of the high school where the race starts, and can leave without issue immediately after I’m done. No crowds. No depending on Metro to run enough trains with enough cars to accomodate the increased traffic during what otherwise wouldn’t be peak hours. It’s one of the few races for which I’d actually consider doing race-day packet pickup since it wouldn’t be a madhouse and I wouldn’t be stressing. Water stations are served by an abundance of friendly volunteers. (I’m looking at you, Rock ‘n Roll Marathon.) There are even finishers medals. Just perfection. I hope it never, ever gets big. (Oh darlin’ don’t you ever grow up, don’t you ever grow up, just stay this little…)

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Showing off my finisher bling from the Runners Marathon of Reston.

However, despite it being officially spring, my race day wouldn’t be complete without some weather-related misery, and Sunday certainly delivered. Temperatures hovered in the low 20s all morning, a biting cold that was worse than the six-degree start I experienced at Hashawha. I started cold and stayed cold. At one point I was convinced that the tip of my left middle finger had actually fallen off inside my glove, but I’m crazy enough that I wasn’t concerned enough to stop running. It’s a race and that’s just a flesh wound! As it turns out, I hadn’t lost any digits. It was so cold (How cold was it, Hope???) that at the mile 12 aid station, I spat out the contents of my cup, thinking I’d been handed a cup full of glass. As it turns out, it was a cup of water in which a thin sheet of ice had formed and broken as the cup was passed to me, mixing into the water like so many shards of glass. I’ve had cups frozen into ice cubes, but never frozen to this glass-like state before. It was pretty freaky at the time.

My Adidas Ultra Boosts were my constant companion during the Paris trip, so expect a review of those sometime in April…hopefully. For now, au revoir!

Slow Recovery

Each of my runs in the immediate aftermath of the Hashawha Hills 50k-Rock ‘n Roll DC gauntlet has felt as bad as the worst parts of those races felt. I’ve only gone for a few short jaunts and from the start each has felt like I’m out of gas and have already run 20 miles. Not fun. However, I’m learning an important lesson: I can stack road races like a maniac (though that isn’t a goal of mine anymore), but I can’t run an ultra so close to another long distance race. It’s entirely too draining. Ultras are beasts that must be respected. I can’t slay the dragon without getting burned a little. I’ll get through this slow recovery and be a better person for it, but it’s very frustrating wanting to run long without suffering or short and fast without praying for death and not being able to.

Guess Who’s Back

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Would you believe me if I told you one of these was a men’s pair? It’s true. Guess which one.

Shoe of the year right here in the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante, by the way. Probably the best shoe I’ve ever run in, come to think of it, and that’s really saying something given my massive collection. Stop what you’re doing and buy a pair. Full review coming soon. I’m basically crying with joy at having acquired a second and third pair before people catch on and they get scarce. So serious!

In other news, I ran a brutal 50k on February 28, 2015. Ultra running is like fishing in that the stories of adventure and peril get taller just as the fish that got away in anglers’ stories get bigger over time. Well, here’s the race report to check my facts: Hashawha Hills 50k Race Report
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I faced treacherous snow and single digit temperatures en route to earning my coveted finishers mug. 43 of my fellow 96 starters weren’t so determined or so lucky.

I’m really jazzed about running in the mild spring weather, so expect more blog activity in the coming weeks.

Running Doesn’t Suck!

Because I’m such a rebel, this is a little Throwback Friday for you.

I really hate those shirts that say “Running Sucks.” So much so that I have a shirt with the opposite message: “Not Running Sucks.” Sure, there will be times when running feels like it sucks (e.g. when you’ve hit the wall), but even if that moment sucks, in no way does running overall suck. Running keeps us honest, shows us what we’re made of, teaches commitment, brings us joy, helps us stay healthy…I could go on and on. We all probably need a reminder sometimes of why running is awesome. With that in mind, I submit to you this memory from 2013.

2013 was the year I ran approximately 400,000 races. Or 40. Whichever. It was also the year of the bombing that shook the Boston Marathon, and with it, the rest of America. I wanted to do something to show my unwavering support for my sport and my country. Of course (of course!) I had a race the weekend after the attack, so I decided to carry a flag over the entire 10k distance. I plucked my parents’ flag from their porch for a brief test run around the neighborhood. Keeping the chilly pole aloft was a challenge, but the encouraging honks I got from passing cars was enough to keep me going. I had proof of concept. Mission: Run with the Flag was a go.

On race day at the Pike’s Peek 10k (yes, that’s the spelling), I was joined by my friend Kim who had agreed to sacrifice her time to hang with me in case I needed help with the flag. Unsurprisingly, Kim is the same good soul who crewed for me at the JFK 50 Mile Race. I saw several other flags among the field of runners — I wasn’t the only one who had been inspired to show America and the running community’s strong spirit as it grieved. Fellow runners on the course commented about how good it was to see Old Glory, and offered their support. Fueled by adrenaline, the energy of the crowd, and cups of water snagged by the dutiful Kim, I finished the race without ever walking or letting go of the flag in a respectable 58:59. We even managed to zip down the final hill at a 6:30 pace! I’d thought that my arms would be destroyed after carrying the flag for so long, but I banged out 15 full-extension chin-ups to hustle a guy for a T-shirt at the finish festival.

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If your motivation to run is flagging (pun very much intended) — find it again! Running definitely doesn’t suck. It’s amazing what you can do when ignited by genuine passion.

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Also, for those of you cool enough to have recognized my Chive shirt (one of several I own; I’m a dedicated Chivette), KCCO!

Friday Motivation: December 5, 2014

Monday motivation is more alliterative and Mondays truly do suck, but if you’re looking at a long run in the cold this weekend, you might need some Friday motivation.

If you want to get what you’ve never had, you must do things you’ve never done. You have to become someone else. You have to be something else. At any cost. Believe.

Success occurs when your dreams get bigger than your excuses.

Fear of failure is only for those arrogant enough to think that somehow they can achieve success without paying the price.

Don’t let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life.

You’ve got what it takes, but it will take everything you’ve got.

If you want to change, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable.

We all have great inner power. The power is self-faith. There’s really an attitude to winning. You have to see yourself winning before you win. And you have to be hungry. You have to want to conquer. – Arnold Schwarzenegger

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

Giving up your goal because of one setback is like slashing your other three tires because you got a flat.

Be the person your dog thinks you are.

From Coach Lou:

If you’re bored with life — you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things — you don’t have enough goals. – Lou Holtz

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. – Lou Holtz

Create a vision that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning.

A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.

Success is not owned. It’s leased and rent is due every day. – J.J. Watt

For those of you not blessed with Kilian Jornet/Deena Kastor/[substitute your favorite beast of an athlete here] genes:

Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well. – Robert Louis Stevenson

And for those of you carb loading for a big race:

Every pizza is a personal pizza if you try hard and believe in yourself.

I don’t want to look back and think ‘I could’ve eaten that.’

Don’t Call It a Comeback…

After an extremely full race calendar in 2013, I was pretty burnt out on running. Three marathons plus a half marathon in 27 days can do that to a person, no kidding! I was over stressing about the logistics of getting to dozens of packet pickups and then to dozens of starting lines, so I pared my race schedule back a lot to focus on quality performances rather than further straining the screws on my medal rack. This year I crushed my estimated time in the Four Courts Four Miler, ran the Runners Marathon of Reston in March for an age group win, came in first in my age group across both genders at the Big Sur 21 Miler, notched a surprise 11th place in my age group at the Marine Corps Historic Half, and logged a finish at the Marine Corps Marathon. I’ll finish the year out with less than ten total races, but I’m proud of my efforts, especially my most recent run: the JFK 50 Mile Race.

After winning my age group at the Runners Marathon of Reston, on a frigid day complete with sleet, I found that I’d met the A-level qualifying standards for the JFK 50 Mile Race. I’d held third place female for about 21 miles of the RMR and was thinking that actually qualifying for Boston wasn’t out of the question — basically, I was feeling pretty cocky. Cocky enough to dash off a $210 check to the JFK race director (the race is so old school that all entries are done via paper forms) and anxiously await the appearance of my name in the confirmed entrants list.

Fast forward about seven months and reality is hitting me like a ton of bricks. The race starts in view of a cell tower on top of a mountain. We had to run to the top of that mountain, then run back down it again, traversing miles of treacherous rocks and narrow switchbacks. One runner had the misfortune to bash his head badly enough on the rocks to end his race day — he had to be carried out, leaving plenty of blood behind. This was a guy whose name people knew, presumably an experienced ultra runner. I’d never run past 26.2. *Gulp*

Keeping my mental game tight was the most important thing. The human body is indeed fragile, but it can be pushed hard, beyond arbitrary limits we set ourselves. I couldn’t allow myself to get defeated by the staggering number of miles ahead of me, the cold, or the prospect of further pain in my legs/feet/back. I was determined that I was going to finish the race — anything else would be unacceptable — so I put all of my efforts into making it so. And believe me, it took everything I had.

The temperature at the start was a bracing 18 degrees Farenheit. I dressed in two pairs of tights, arm warmers, a long sleeve T shirt, a short sleeve T shirt, and a half-zip pullover. Before the marathon point, I got hot, and had to sit down to take my shoes off and shed one pair of tights. My animal brain said, “Wouldn’t it be better to just sit here? No need to get back up and run any more.” But I got up and kept going. I had to sing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” all of the way through (and then some) to get myself to the next spectator aid station (a HUGE thank you goes out to my friend Kim who came to the start to get my gear bag, distracted me when I was nervous, took great pictures, supported me at each aid station, and made a hilarious sign for me), but I made it. Around the 30 mile point I hit upon the idea of alternating running and walking each quarter mile. My dad works with a guy who recently swam the English Channel (much tougher than a 50 mile ultra!) and he imparted this tip: break it down into sections, and focus on the next section. There were a lot of quarter mile sections in the remaining 20 or so miles, but I didn’t focus on that. I focused on each individual quarter mile as it came. I’m always up for running a quarter mile! A quarter mile isn’t bad, isn’t that long at all! As much as I wanted to follow the advice, “if it hurts to walk, and it also hurts to run, run,” I knew that the prospect of running another 20 miles was too much to grapple with mentally. A quarter mile was a perfectly digestible chunk: so doable that I found myself grinning, chatting with other runners, and offering words of motivation since I was so comfortable in my knowledge that I’d finish the race. That’s when it really became fun. I kept up the alternating cycle until my Garmin died between miles 48 and 49 and I decided to just walk so as to save a little something for the finish line approach.

I’d thought for sure that I’d cry in despair during the race, or cry with joy at the finish. Neither happened. I smiled throughout the race (not faked for the photos below!) and danced at the finish.

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First spectator aid station, near the half marathon point.

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I don’t know where on the course those were shot, either the ~marathon point or 38 mile aid stations. With few exceptions, the tow path miles all looked the same: boring.

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At the mile 46 aid station I refused to stop or slow down for a photo.

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The hardware

I expect this post will spawn a couple others if only due to this one amazing fact: I finished the JFK 50 Mile Race with no blisters and no chafing. You read that right. Perfect outfit, perfect sock + shoe combination, perfect application of anti-chafe cream. Apparently perfect nutrition/preemptive use of Immodium, too, as I had no GI issues either. I showed up at the race with a full gear bag and took nothing from it on the course — I just gave Kim clothes I no longer wanted to wear. I eschewed my stiff, frozen Clif Shot Bloks and Salted Caramel Gu (the only good flavor, as far as I’m concerned) for eight cream-filled cookies and and a PB&J sandwich. I learned some lessons about the Hoka One One Clifton in the Marine Corps Marathon which I carried over into JFK that helped me tremendously in terms of avoiding discomfort, so I think I can write an informed review. So be on the lookout for more posts, but don’t try to hold me accountable, I might go dark for another six months!