How To Run 50 Miles (part II)

(cliff young is one of my heroes. he was 61 when he won the 544 mile ultra race in Australia and changed the way modern runners run distance)

(cliff young is a hero to me. he was 61 when he won the 544 mile ultra race in Australia and changed the way modern runners run distance races)

Running far means being on your feet for a long time and eating right.

Using the tricks I’ve discovered over years of training I can run about 30 miles any time I want.

The two keys are: Nutrition (what you eat) and Conditioning (how you get and stay fit).

Not all food is the same. Not all conditioning will prepare you the way you need.

Most people overemphasize their training and underemphasize their nutrition. It’s almost better to do the opposite so let’s start with food.

Recap:
1. no more than 300 calories per hour; avoid sucrose aka Gatorade, Powerade, junk food, and so on
2. no more than 16-20oz water per hour
3. you need electrolyte supplements if you are prone to cramping or are exercising past 2 hours
4. you need to take in protein supplements if you are exercising past 2 hours or your body will cannibalize itself

(I only use hammer products because they keep my stomach calm, taste good and work)

(I only use hammer products because they keep my stomach calm, taste good and work)

Specifically, I use Hammer Nutrition supplements. I use them exclusively because they use long-chain carbohydrates that do not upset my stomach in flavors that are easy to digest, and they explain each of their products so you can tweak your intake to specifically what you need. Everyone has their preference and I’m not compensated by them in any way.
The products I use from Hammer are: HEED carb drink with electrolytes, Perpetuem protein fuel, Endurolytes electrolyte pills, Hammer Gel energy gel (with electrolytes) and Recoverite recovery drink.

This is how I fuel (based on time, not distance):
1. runs up to 1 hour: 1-2 Endurolytes prior, generally nothing while I’m running unless I just feel crappy that day in which case I’ll take 8-10oz water with 1/2-1 scoop HEED mixed in
2. Runs up to 2 hours: 1-2 Endurolyte pills beforehand then a 16-20oz water bottle with 2 scoops HEED; if it’s a tough 2-hour run I’ll take 2 water bottles (each with HEED) and carry 6-9 Endurolyte pills – 3-4 per hour (1 every 15-20 minutes); if it’s hot, I’ll take 12-15 Endurolyte pills (4-7 per hour with a couple extra in case I drop them)
3. Long runs of 2+ hours: 1-2 Endurolytes ahead of the run; 16-20oz/hour in a camelbak or I’ll plan a run past a water source where I can fill up. Along with this I’ll take a multi-hour bottle of Perpetuem: mix 1-2scoops perpetuem + I mix in 1scoop HEED per hour of exercise (3 hours would be 6 scoops Perpetuem + 3 scoops HEED mixed together for me) and add water. This will be my fuel source for long runs – a single thick gooey bottle of running food, then 16-20oz of pure water (48-60 oz for 3 hours) from a Camelbak. On top of this I’ll plan 4-6 Endurolytes per hour or 12-18 Endurolytes for a 3-hour run + a few extra in case I drop some along the way (inevitable when you’re juggling them as you run down a steep trail).

Summarized:
1 hour – 1-2 Endurolytes + 1/2 bottle of water mixed with 1-scoop HEED
2 hours – 1-2 Endurolytes prior + 1 bottle per hour containing 16-20oz water + 2 scoops HEED; 4-6 Endurolytes per hour (1 every 15 minutes, more if it’s hot)
2+ hours – 1-2 Endurolytes prior + 16-20oz water per hour in a Camelbak + a bottle filled with 2 scoops perpetuem + 1 scoop HEED for every hour planned (3 hours = 6 Perpetuem + 3 HEED scoops in the bottle mixed with water to form paste + 48-60oz water in the Camelbak I use to wash the paste down and sip frequently)

This food model is scalable, so just adjust it to the length of your run and your personal needs. Some people can run for two hours without drinking anything. I am not one of those people and you shouldn’t try to be. It’s dangerous, especially when you’re considering ultra-marathons. You might feel good one hour and completely blow up the next.

Also important: as soon as you finish a 2 hour run or longer, you need to take vitamins right away. I used to get sick when I was training hard because my immune system was compromised. Taking vitamins post-run will help recharge your body and protect your immune system. A single big general supplement is good or you can buy vitamins from Hammer.

And I always drink Recoverite after any run. Replaces protein and muscle glycogen that will prep you for the next run. This is critical and shouldn’t ever be skipped. If you skip a recovery meal it’s likely your next run will be harder and more painful.

As for the actual running part…

When was the last time you were on your feet for 10 hours nonstop? It’s probably been awhile. So we have to start small when we’re training for an ultra and this is how we start. Start standing up for 3 or 4 hours. You can start by going for a long walk (time, not distance). Anything to get you on your feet.

Once you can stand for hours at a time start jogging. Walk, jog, walk, jog, walk, jog.

Set the bar low, then build it up once you have a base.

Actually, this is the key to finishing ultramarathons that few people talk about. Until you’re ultra-conditioned to run for 50 straight miles, the way to do an ultra (and any other longest distance run as you’re starting out) is to avoid redlining.

You avoid redlining by jogging flats and downhills and walking uphill or walking any time you feel like you’re starting to overexert. The key to going far is going slow.

As my pro athlete friend Chuck once told me “go slow to go fast.” And I say “go slow to go far.”

Once you can do that, you switch it so you are running while taking walking breaks whenever you need to: jog, walk, jog, walk, jog, and so on.

Once you’ve got that, you start running, slowly, for short then longer runs.

Once you can do this, you start running short and fast, then mixing in really slow long runs. This builds muscle and endurance. The skyscraper on the foundation.

Running short-fast sets followed by running long-slow sets is the training method we’ll use to build your foundation.

After doing this for a few months, you’ll be ready for anything.

So here’s the specific program I follow when I’m training for a long race:

During the week I hate going on pre-planned long training runs. It’s hard to find the time and it’s boring. I’d rather have fun with running, so here is the in-week plan:

Go outside or to a trailhead and just run at a moderate pace (for you) for 15 minutes to wherever you end up. Note exactly where you end up and remember it. You should be working a little bit but not stressing the distance or overexerting. This 15-minute distance point is your new benchmark, and around which your running plan will be built.

Turn around and run back to the start. This should be about 30 minutes of running total.

On weekends, we’re going to do subsequent longer, slower runs consecutively both Saturday and Sunday.

So your plan will look something like:
Tuesday – 30 minute(ish) run
Thursday – 30 minute(ish) run
Saturday – long run
Sunday – long run

That’s it. This is where you start.

Your weekly runs (Tuesday/Thursday) don’t change in length, but they do change.

Once you have your 15-minute benchmark, you are now going to stress yourself on these short runs.

You will run these short runs for speed.

Every Tuesday and Thursday you’re going to do the same run. But you’re going to do it as fast as you can on the way out. On the way back you can run at a slow recovery pace, but try to go a little faster than that.

You will find that your 15-minute mark actually drops to 14 minutes, then 13 and even 12 minutes one-way and your total 30-minute run drops to 25-27 minutes total as you get faster.

Why? This builds strength, power and your VO2 max (lung capacity). And as your weekend distance runs increase you will be going out tired from the weekend run and stressing your body on these short, but hard runs.

Also, this becomes a palatable running program that doesn’t force you to run for 3 hours after a long day at work or when it’s dark. You can run in the morning before work, at lunch or whenever is convenient.

Just be sure you’re running as fast as you can to your original marker along the same route, then back to the start. It will feel very hard.

If you travel a lot, you can still do this program during the week while you travel. Just use the 15/30 minute run as a guide – run as hard as you can for 15 minutes sustained, then turn around and run back at a slower recovery pace.

You can also use  a treadmill with the same program.

As your base builds, you build your weekend distance:
Saturday – 1.5 hour run
Sunday – 1.5 hour run

1 month in:
Saturday – 2 hour run
Sunday – 1.5 hour run

2 months in:
Saturday – 2 hour run
Sunday – 2 hour run

3 months in:
Saturday – 3 hour – 3.5 hour run
Sunday – 2 hour run

4 months in:
Saturday – 5 hour run
Sunday – 2 hour run

By the time you reach a 6 hour run on Saturday you’ll be at about the 60% distance (30-31 miles or so) that is long enough for you to be ready for the Ultra.

It’s important to rest. If a weekend comes and you feel totally destroyed, drop down to consecutive 1-hour runs, do a really slow long run or even take a day off. Recovery is crucial and risking injury can sideline you from your goal.

You’re also allowed to use the run-walk strategy during training. It’s likely the first month that 1.5 hour runs on consecutive days will be very hard for you, especially through the mountains or hills. In that case you jog (slowly) flats and walk anything uphill. OR, you jog until you feel tired, then walk until you feel better. Just keep repeating the jog-walk-run strategy as you progress.

And don’t beat yourself up. The goal is to finish, not to break a record. There are no additional points for suffering.

Put it all together and you get short, fast runs during the week building your power and then long-slow runs on weekends building your endurance and teaching you what your body needs and when it needs it.

You will start “feeling” your muscles craving food and electrolytes and you will see what the effect is of various caloric intakes.

Most importantly, listen to your body. My guide is just a reference. If you’re cramping more than you should, bonking or feeling tight in your legs: increase electrolytes and carbs during your run. If you’re feeling bloated or salty, reduce electrolytes or food. Tweak slowly and look for the response.

Don’t run through injuries and remember why you’re running. It should be fun, not torture (sometimes torture is fun, but be smart).

(overtraining is a serious problem. go slow to go fast. go slow to go far. go slow and have fun. don't overtrain)

(overtraining is a serious problem. go slow to go fast. go slow to go far. go slow and have fun. don’t overtrain)

This plan will get you ready for your first 50-mile ultra marathon and it works for other endurance events too.

Let me know how this works for you and if you have any “tweaks” I’d love to hear about them.

Oh 1 more thing: use sunscreen always, wear a hat with a bill to protect your face, get some arm warmer sleeves that peel away, invest in a good thin running shell and always have a great playlist – those runs can get boring after a couple hours. Email me or add a comment below if you want my gear suggestions.

That’s it. Have fun. Go run. Stay healthy.

(I run in Altra zero-drop shoes exclusively. wide toe box and zero-drop is comfortable and prevents injury. these are not minimal shoes, but they do help you run naturally)

(Lastly: I run in Altra zero-drop shoes exclusively. wide toe box and zero-drop is comfortable and prevents injury. these are not minimal shoes, but they do help you run naturally)

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How To Run 50 Miles (part 1)

(these guys are running 100 miles. let's start with 50)

(these guys are running 100 miles. let’s start with 50)

You may have just finished the 33rd Annual ING New York City Marathon, in which case you might agree:

Running can be miserable.

While running I’ve been:

Screamed at by passing cars in the middle of nowhere and black-smogged by those jacked-up diesel engine redneck trucks (you know the kind with tennis balls hanging from the trailer hitch).

(yah. that's the one)

(yah. like that)

Warned by a US Navy Seal “You are in a restricted zone with unexploded ordinances. Go back the way you came. IMMEDIATELY.”

(if ever I am sponsored, I want it to be Honey Bucket)

(Honey Bucket please sponsor me)

Hit with runner’s distress more times than I can count: squatted in a patch of recently mown poison oak (I didn’t know, obviously), relieved myself behind bushes a few feet from other people who are lucky they didn’t look over, relearned how to pray (“Please, God, let there be a Honey Bucket!”) and sacrificed more underwear to the trail gods than I care to remember.

I’ve bonked* in the mountains 10 miles from home, cramped badly hobbling the last couple miles, and suffered from heat exhaustion while running in 100 degrees through the desert.

Jumped over rattlesnakes, chased by coyotes, gotten way too close to a mountain lion, brushed up against tarantulas, been sunburned, stung by bees and bitten by ticks.

Rolled my ankles so many times that it doesn’t phase me, and suffered from near hypothermia as rain and ice poured down on my jacketless body.

I even ran on a broken leg once. Yes, it hurt. No, I didn’t know it was broken.

This year I projectile vomited at 1:30AM on a rural highway in Oregon. Four times. (it looked pretty awesome in the light of my headlamp but scared me thinking I was not going to finish the race (it could have been an instagram that made even @JoseCabaco proud) note: later diagnosed with e-coli)

(a first time for me, but it was at night and looked awesome in light from my headlamp)

(like this but at night and looked awesome in the light of my headlamp)

But I still run. I can’t stop. I’m an addict.

I just spent a week living in a van like a dirtbag, sleeping in parking lots and weird places, running remote trails on Maui because it was one of my dream trips. If that doesn’t say ‘ADDICTED’, I don’t know what does.

But my torture is your salvation.

There is no logical reason to run 50 miles. None.

There is no rainbow. No pot of gold at the end. No leprechaun.

(this will not be there)

(this will not be there)

You will not get rich. You will not get famous.

You will suffer. You will question yourself. You might burn your skin and get bad blisters. If you’re not prepared, you could get dehydrated or overhydrated.

Your body could fail. Your kidneys could shut down.

You may lose control of your bowels.

But a few people out there still want to do it.

I get it.

And you know what? They can.

I’ve seen 77 year old women finish ultramarathons.

(at 70 he's run the 135-mile Badwater Ultra 14 times)

(at 70 he’s run the 135-mile Badwater Ultra 14 times)

If you do, it will change your life. It will change your context and your perspective.

When we look at our bank accounts, our jobs, people driving fancy cars, the things we always wanted to do but haven’t, we sometimes lose our way and think those things are bigger than us. We need to remember. We are humans and we are bigger than anything material that we’ve created.

Doing something you never thought you could makes you realize that if you can do that, you can do anything.

You are bigger than money or cars or jobs or skyscrapers or 50 mile races. You are part of what created those things. You are not a victim. You can manifest anything with the right focus and effort. You are still alive.

If you don’t want to run 50 miles. Stop here.

If you do, I have to warn you.

I’m a running hacker.

I’ve never done a marathon (at least not a sanctioned one).

I hate running on pavement.

I want to do the most by putting out the least effort.

I may not be fast, but I can go forever.

In 2009 I got ready to run The Leona Divide 50-mile Ultra in 4 months. Since then, I can pretty much run anything up to 30 miles with little preparation more than my standard running schedule, and this training method.

I don’t cramp. I don’t bonk and I don’t stress over it.

But how is this possible? People kill themselves getting ready for 26.2 miles.

They cramp, they puke, they bonk, they cry.

But I don’t:

Because most of what people do for marathons is wrong.

Much of what you’re doing is probably wrong.

Because you’re trying too hard and ignoring your nutrition.

Running a long distance is possible (unless you have a condition that makes it particularly difficult); it’s a 3-step process:
1. Stand
2. Walk
3. Run

And the key to everything, the under-appreciated and under-discussed secret – is your nutrition.

You have to eat and drink while you’re exercising or your body will shut down.

More importantly, you have to eat and drink certain things. The right things.

Someone once said to me “I feel like you’re one of those people who just got up one day and decided to run 50 miles and did it”. I was slightly offended by this because it’s not that simple. I put tons of work into preparing, it just wasn’t traditional preparation. Then again, I’ve always been an outlier.

I may have never run a marathon or been stereotyped as a “typical runner” going out and working my way up from 5k races to marathons to ultras, but I did something different that applies to any endurance sport: I gained experience bagging alpine peaks, competing in 8-12 hour cycling or adventure races, and climbing long technical rock routes in Washington, Oregon, Montana and elsewhere.

I spent hours reading books on endurance nutrition and testing theories. It was almost 10 years of learning, trial and error. Then after all of that “I just got up one day and decided to run 50 miles…”

It was during those adventures that I found secrets – what works and what doesn’t. Especially for nutrition.

Here are the secret nutrition rules no one ever told you (probably because they never knew):
1. you can only absorb 16-20oz of water per hour
2. you can only digest ~300 calories per hour
3. the wrong kinds of foods will not only upset your stomach (runner’s distress) but will also cause your endocrine system to go berserk. Mass changes in insulin cause mass changes in energy. Eat the wrong thing and you may bonk or worse.
3a. if exercising <2hrs you can get away with long-chain carbs and electrolytes in energy drinks and that’s it
3b. if exercising >2hrs you need to add electrolyte supplements and protein to your fuel plan to avoid body cannibalization (i.e. your body breaking down muscle into energy)
4. your body has a certain amount of muscle glycogen stored up within muscles and your liver. for me, it’s about 54 minutes of intense exercise. You may have more (up to 90 minutes) or less. Beyond this threshold you need to eat and drink.

These rules mean you will always be operating at a caloric and hydration deficit during endurance events and there is nothing you can do to change it except ingesting the right things at the right time in the right amount.

If not, you will bonk, DNF or worse, during races – they may train hard (even too hard) but they lose when it comes to their food and drink.

Ingesting proper food and drink will save you, even if you’ve undertrained.

So This Is What You Do
Combine the secret rules above and this becomes your formula for success:
A. For each hour after your initial hour (or whatever your limit is for not needing food) of exercise, you should drink no more than 16-20 oz water and eat no more than 300 calories per hour. If you know you’ll go for a long time, you can start eating and drinking as soon as you start exercise.
B. For exercise beyond 2 hours at a time, you should supplement with concentrated electrolytes and protein supplements
C. Once you finish exercising you should eat recovery food immediately that consists of a combination of electrolytes, protein (like whey) and fortified with something that will quickly replace muscle glycogen (like glutamine)

Chances are, you’ve been eating too much or too little, drinking too much or too little and haven’t been supplementing with electrolytes: all your bonking, cramping, and other distress is for naught.

In other words, you’ve been torturing yourself trying to get better and thinking you’re not capable when the secrets were right there hidden out of sight.

If you master nutrition, you’ll master ultra-marathons (or marathons or whatever athletic even you’ve always wanted to do).

(me just before I ran Haleakala, Maui rim-rim October 26th, 2013

(me just before running Haleakala, Maui rim-rim October 26th, 2013

If you’re just starting out, heed this advice: it’s critical for performance and will save you a ton of trouble. Your training will be less painful, more fun and your gains will happen faster.

At the end of the day, if you get nothing else, you will at least appreciate your couch a whole lot more after running 50 miles.

(part 2 of this post will explain the running regimen that will train you without killing you, and I’ll tell you the supplements I use when training and heading out for long runs)

*Bonking is a term that means you feel like your body can no longer move; like you’ve overexerted yourself and run out of gas, whiich, in a lot of ways you have

0 to 50

0 to 50*

(50 miles of bliss: this is where you run the Leona Divide)

(50 miles of bliss: this is where you run the Leona Divide)

“Oh shoot.” She yelled.

Mom’s white knuckles twisted the steering wheel violently. Everything went black.

Restrained by the lap belt, my upper body swung forward. My left arm, encased in plaster, swung directly into my face. The cast broke my nose and left shoulder simultaneously. My right arm punched the dashboard and broke instantly above the wrist. My eyeglasses flew off and everything was blurry. Red droplets fell from my nose and popped as they hit the white plaster cast. Red streaked my t-shirt as I went into shock.

We were hit by a drunk driver attempting an illegal pass. It was 5PM, she bar-hopped since 11AM.

I woke and slept unaware of day or night in the intensive care unit of Northern Illinois Medical Center. Everything was hazy. It wasn’t until 5-days later I received a 2-pint blood transfusion (1/3 my body’s capacity) that I woke fully. I was moved to the pediatric ward and spent 6 weeks isolated in my bed..

My left arm fused at the elbow, left humerus stunted from the broken shoulder, and my right arm was thin and weak in its cast. My leg muscles atrophied from all the time prostrate in bed. I could no longer walk.

I was at Zero.

Unaware laying in the hospital bed I never considered that I couldn’t walk. I grew up outside in rural Illinois, rode my bike to school, built half-pipes and climbed trees. Walking was assumed. I did not understand how my legs no longer worked.

Walking became my singular focus. I learned again like a child, one step at a time, every day for weeks in the hospital.

I spent a year in physical therapy , progress kept in a training log. My first results-measured training. It was a long process but I achieved an almost-full physical recovery, though emotional injuries endured.

Struggling in school the next two years having missed so much. I got picked on for my weakness. Replacing low social status in school with adventure, I focused my hyperactive, shy demeanor, into singular goals: earning a black-belt in karate, achieving Eagle-Scout, ski racing, and, skipping two years of high school finishing college at the University of Montana with two degrees before I could legally drink. I trained, obsessively, as a climber and pushed my limits.

I redpointed 5.12’s, a hard rock climbing grade, always pushing harder, at one point leading the Western Montana Mountain Rescue Team on the first successful recovery mission with another teammate. I combined climbing with endurance training, doing peak marathons with my friend Chuck. Each goal got riskier. Success was fleeting, perpetual and elusive.

The impact of decelerating from 50 to 0 reverberated throughout my life. I was changed forever by the Cub Scout den mother who drank too much.

But we were lucky.

More than 47,000 Americans were killed in car wrecks in 1988. 3 million people on average are injured in crashes each year according to the NHTSA.  Almost 341,000 receive permanent, incapacitating injuries, not to mention unmeasured, debilitating psychological inflictions.

In August 2008 I entered the Mt. Baldy Run-to-The-Top, a Southern California race. I was hardly running but trained for 3 weeks and finished a decent 1h38m on the 8 ¾ mile, 4,000 ft elevation gain course.

On the drive home I wondered.

I’d done triathlons, raced XC mountain bikes and adventure-raced, but I could only think of an ultramarathon. I wanted a 50-mile, kick-my-ass ultra. This became a metaphor for the last 21 years: how I faced every goal in my life.

The Leona Divide is a 50 mile race with total elevation of 9,500 feet. I looked at the website daily and studied the elevation profile. Huge spikes and valleys kept me motivated, so I planned.

(this is what a kick-your-ass ultramarathon looks like)

(this is what a kick-your-ass ultramarathon looks like)

An ultra is a mentally and physically demanding journey. It requires constant nutrition and pace calculation.

The 50 mile plan became a symbolic capstone from learning to walk again.

I went from 0 to 50 and it changed my life.

I trained using what I learned alpine climbing: I combined speed running for strength, weekday runs averaging 4.2 miles, with weekend endurance running up to 31 miles in terrain similar to The Leona.

I trained alone.

Previous experience and common sense defined my training:

1. Nutrition
2. Recovery
3. Mileage on terrain
4. Speed & Endurance

My longest organized run prior to the Leona was 8 ¾ miles. My longest personal run was 31 miles.

I focused longer runs in the Santa Monica Mountains. The plan gave me elevation gains/losses similar to race conditions. This strategy paid off by knowing my thresholds and avoiding redlining.

I filled my training runs with constant nutrition calculations and iPod earbuds.

My approach to nutrition was simple:
a. <400 calories per hour intake with no refined sugars (sucrose, glucose)
b. 30% replacement hydration, soy-protein enriched supplements for exercise longer than 2 hours
c. electrolytes to avoid cramping and B6 to prevent exercise-induced depression
d. recovery meals combining whey protein and glycogen. This prevented energy peaks and valleys, and sped recovery.

I let go of my training schedule as a law and used it as a guideline letting my body define its recovery.

By two months prior to the race I ran 30 mile training loops with 6-8K elevation gain/loss improving my speed but I was stuck in training mode. I needed optimal recovery and race day performance. I needed team advice.

I called Tracy and Chuck, two world-class athlete friends that gave me the same advice: taper carefully while running during the week prior to the race. The strategy provided recovery time, optimal muscle glycogen, and kept me race-ready.

The race began at 6AM, about 60 miles from home. I woke up at 4:46 and freaked thinking I’d just blown it.

I arrived just 8 minutes late, I started the race, dead last with feet wrapped, drop bags in place, nutrition loaded and iPod ready. I started the 174-track playlist and started up the first hill – a 700 foot climb over 4 miles, Pink Floyd’s Animals kept me calm and focused.

The sun was at the angle that turns the dry desert valleys into ovens. We ran up and down like broiler chickens roasting. I passed several people suffering heat exhaustion so I leveled my pace to avoid overheating. A blister popped in mile 37. A minor issue and far from hydration, heat stroke, digestive, or structural injuries that can debilitate and cause a DNF or worse. The roughest miles were 42-48, climbing 1,100 feet in a baking valley with a taunting blister. The iPod luckily launched into a favorite Foo Fighters set and I cranked the volume, found solace in the pain and gulped fluid.

I finished the LD 50 in 10:53:10, qualifying for the Western States 100.

The Leona Divide changed me. I’d competed against the clock in a sanctioned event, exceeding my own expectation.

(gratuitous picture of a picture of myself throwing a shaka while running the LD50. hanging on Mom's kitchen wall. thanks MOM)

(gratuitous picture of a picture of myself throwing a shaka while running the LD50. hanging on Mom’s kitchen wall. thanks MOM)

Reflecting on my path over the last 21 years and its relation to my most recent finish, Chuck sent some encouraging words:

“I warn you now – you have started a very crazy cycle where each accomplishment is judged by the previous one.  Each time you have to go bigger and better to see what your body can accomplish.  Welcome to my world… Walk the path grasshopper but know that it never ends for guys like you and me.”

I guess everyone has their own “50”: that one thing they dream of doing that they believe is out of reach. I imagine for most it is anything scary, testing your own capabilities to learn that you’re more capable than you think.

Some of us seek our gifts in the outdoors, pushing our limits in the raw environment to commune more closely with nature’s beauty, and to unlock hidden mysteries within ourselves. I just bought a surfboard and found my new “50” in the waves of the Pacific. Thanks to the Leona, I feel less fear and more calm as I paddle out into the twilight towards my new “50”.

*part of this post appeared in a 2010 issue of UltraRunning Magazine; this is the full, unedited version