UPDATE: Ups & Downs

Although this is not about running, I felt it represents a little how I am feeling these days.

Spruce Woods Ultra or my first 50km run is in 24 days. It is within sight on my calendar. Granted there are a lot of other things in-between now and then, but the anxiety I knew I would be feeling come race day, is starting to build. I am really looking forward to getting out there with the gear on, the nutrition on board, the anxiety percolating, and the excitement welling. I believe no matter the result it will be a fantastic day with a load of learning.

This will not be my only race this year.

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 10.12.53 AM

I was hoping for something else later in the year, and with the help of Scott Sugimoto I tracked down the Marathon du P’tit Train du Nord It is in late October, through The Laurentians, on trail, and downhill. My wife gave me the permission and I signed up. This will be my first “official” marathon.


In my You vs The Year challenge of running 1017 kms in 2017 I am currently at 764 kms over 52 runs. I was hoping to meet this goal during SWU, but I think I will be a little short.  I may try to make it happen, but at the risk of a successful taper for SWU.

In my #Run1000miles challenge in 2017 I am currently at 474 miles. I am really excited about hitting the 500 mile mark this weekend. I feel I will reach this goal by the time of or during the Marathon du P’tit Train du Nord.

The training has been good. Ramped up but going well enough. Now that it is warming up in the morning quicker I have been able to bike commute to work and throwing in some run commutes. If I choose to run commute I get a great back to back for 15 miles. 7.5 miles in the morning. 7.5 in the late afternoon. It is trick backing all the nutrition needed as well my work needs but I figured out a system in the fall and I just need to keep organized.

I have been doing hills on Tuesdays and really pushing myself. I suffered a concerning ankle injury on a long run about three weeks ago, re-injured it on the edge of a single track but with the help of JF, it seems to be healing well enough.

Also I have been making sure to hit my goals stretching, doing physio, and core strength training, although I feel I could be pushing myself a little more in the strength training.

I am planning to post part 2 of my training post after spruce woods as I am trying out some things and I want to test out the training before commenting on it.

Enough for now,



A Fine Line

What can be said about Kilian Jornet, that hasn’t already been said. He is amazing and at the age of only 25 it is incredible what he has accomplished. I could go on. I have watched many films about him through Salomon Running and online in various places as well as read his book Run or Die. He is a god.

This film looks amazing, nothing new about Kilian. This is only a trailer for the upcoming film, A Fine Line by Sebastien Montaz-Rosset.

I wanted to post this because it makes a connection to yesterday’s post from Brian Donnelly, The Journey of Practice. Kilian talks about after winning his goal races, the disinterest in returning to them to defend his title. At 17 secs into the video Jornet channeling Donnelly states, “there is no point to training to repeat stuff and do the same things”.

Jornet is definitely engaging “in a practice (noun)”, and not practicing “with a goal attached”.

More of Kilian being Kilian




Barkley Finish Line Footage

An emotional scene at the finish line of one of the country’s toughest 100-mile races.

This weekend’s Barkley Marathons ended in historic fashion. A half hour before cutoff, John Kelly became the race’s 15th finisher. Thirty minutes later, Gary Robbins ran up to the yellow gate, having accidentally taken a wrong turn and cut short the final miles of the course, and ultimately earning a DNF.

Jamil Coury, 32, of Arizona, who timed out in loop three, filmed the emotional scene at the finish.



“Life is not about getting to a certain place. Life is a path.”  –Thich Nhat Hanh

We have a tendency to feel discontent on the path toward our hopes and dreams. We’re always trying to get something or somewhere. We think that when we finally arrive at that next step in a career, living situation, or relationship, we’ll be happy. Along the way, we learn to take shortcuts, to fill in the gaps by wanting more immediate things—a new piece of gear, the start of a weekend, more “likes” on our social media posts. The truth is that most of our lives are spent on the journey and that finally arriving isn’t the golden answer we’re seeking.

I’ve been thinking about the journey of practice, what it means to practice something (verb) and what it means to engage in a practice (noun). It’s a subtle but important distinction. When we practice something, there’s a goal attached. We repeat a skill to attain something, to improve a proficiency or performance. But when something is our practice, it’s simply doing or applying an idea. It’s bending linear fixation into an infinite circle. There is no goal, just empty, detached action. As the Buddhist teacher, Shunryu Suzuki, tells us, “When you do something, just to do it should be your purpose. Form is form and you are you, and true emptiness will be realized in your practice.”


Running is my practice because it constantly teaches me to serve a process and not some outcome. It reminds me that I need to be mindful of the journey I’m on and to enjoy what I’m doing for the sake of doing it, because running is damn hard and if I don’t love it right now, I’m just spinning my own illusion. Running is my practice because, through repetition, I understand that there are no shortcuts, just hard decisions and unknown challenges ahead, and that’s okay. It’s my practice because, ultimately, the things we practice become our practice.

It’s early spring, another gray, wet day in the Pacific Northwest. I’m staring into my back yard through the rain-splattered window above my desk as these thoughts drift through my mind. Just out of sight in the foggy fringe of trees is Portland’s Forest Park, a five-thousand-acre web of roots and ferns and trails. It’s time to run, time to slip into synthetic layers and dirt-caked shoes. Despite the chronic cold and mud, there’s no hesitation, no wanting.

Out there is my path and it needs practicing.

Full article here

The race director for the Barkley Marathons, clarified his position on Gary Robbins’ finish

From Canadian Running Magazine

Barkley Marathons race director, Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell, reportedly made a statement on the finish and outcome of the more than 100-mile (160K) ultramarathon in Tennessee after it concluded on Sunday. Cantrell clarifies the race’s position on Canadian Gary Robbins’ arrival at the yellow gate at camp (which marks the finish) from the wrong direction and six seconds past the 60-hour cutoff.

Ahead of Robbins was Kelly, who became the 15th finisher of the iconic race since it first ran in 1986. Kelly, for the fifth and final loop, went clockwise and Robbins went counterclockwise. It became apparent that Robbins made a wrong turn though after collecting the final page of the course’s 13 books (which act as checkpoints) as he came into camp from the same direction as Kelly. “He failed to complete the course by two miles; the time, in that situation, is meaningless,” Cantrell said of the six-second time overage.




“I wish I had never said six seconds…

Gary had just come in after having run off course and missing the last two miles of the Barkley. That is, of course, not a finish. I do, however, always record when runners come in, whether they are finishing a loop, or not.

So, I had looked at the watch, even though there was no possibility that he would be counted as a finisher.

So, when someone asked if he had gotten in before the limit; I foolishly answered.

I never expected the story to somehow become that he had missed the time limit by six seconds. He failed to complete the course by two miles. The time, in that situation, is meaningless.

I hate it, because this tale perpetuates the myth that the Barkley does not have a course. The Barkley is a footrace. It is not an orienteering contest, nor a scavenger hunt. The books are nothing more than unmanned checkpoints.

The Boston Marathon has checkpoints and you have to show up at all of them or you can be disqualified…

That does not mean you are allowed to follow any route you choose between checkpoints. Now, the class with which Gary handled this terrible disappointment at the end of a truly magnificent performance…that was exceptional, and is, in and of itself, a remarkable achievement.

But he did not miss the time limit by six seconds. He failed to complete the Barkley by two miles.


Robbins posted a brief recap of the race on Monday where he said the following: “The Barkley Marathons is not an orienteering style race. You do not get to select the route that best favors you between books. You need to navigate between books, off trail, but in a very specific direction of travel. My finish, even if it were 6 seconds faster would not have counted. I put Laz and the race in a precarious situation and in hindsight I’m glad I was six seconds over so that we didn’t have to discuss the validity of my finish.”


From Gary Robbins about his decision to get to the gate of The Barkley Marathons

From GaryRobbinsruns

“Thank you everyone for all the heartfelt support and well wishes. It’s been quite an emotional rollercoaster these last few days.

I just want to say a few quick things right now before delving deeper into my full race experience in the coming days.

First and foremost, congratulations to John Kelly on becoming the 15th ever finisher of The Barkley Marathons! John and I got to spend four laps together and we were a great team. I have a solid grasp on most of the course, as does John and we worked together very effectively to help launch each other into lap 5 with enough time to close it out.

John grew up in Oak Ridge, 30 minutes away, and he and his family have been hiking and camping in the park his entire life. When we discussed lap 5 direction, while on loop 4, John said “When I’ve dreamed of finishing Barkley, it’s always been while coming down Chimney Top (clockwise) as I’ve hiked there so much with my family.”
John Kelly is the 15th person to ever finish The Barkley Marathons. John Kelly deserves more congrats and recognition than I do right now. Please take a second to properly congratulate him on his phenomenal accomplishment.
Regarding my finish yesterday. After collecting my 13th and final book page, having not stopped moving for even a second on my fifth and final lap, the fog had once again set in. As I went over the final bump on the course I knew I would hit a trail, go left, and run down into camp with maybe five minutes to spare, but the math added up, I was going to make it.
In the fog I was a few degrees off course and when I hit my trail I must’ve trended into it left and then continued following it, now counting down the minutes till I would intersect the final turn down the last switchbacks into camp, with about two miles to go.
Something didn’t feel right though, it was taking too long (like these brief few words) so I checked direction and it seemed to be right, but in my deprived state I didn’t assess that I should have rapidly been heading east, and not south for more then a few seconds. I pushed harder now, wondering why the “pillars of death” just would not appear. Did I step over them in the fog and not realize it? No I thought, not possible, so I pushed harder, and then I came to a staircase. There are no staircases on the Barkley course, not a one.
I ripped open my map and the gravity of things hit me. I did not have enough time left to correct my mistake by going up and over the mountain again. If I did this I would have finished in maybe 60:05 and I would not be an official Barkley Marathons finisher. Here’s the thing though, that’s exactly what I should have done, and the one regret I have after now sleeping is not doing just that.
The Barkley Marathons is not an orienteering style race. You do not get to select the route that best favors you between books. You need to navigate between books, off trail, but in a very specific direction of travel. My finish, even if it were 6 seconds faster would not have counted. I put Laz and the race in a precarious situation and in hindsight I’m glad I was six seconds over so that we didn’t have to discuss the validity of my finish.
In that raw moment however, I see two options, turn back up the mountain and finish over time, or shoot a bearing and find yet one more reserve of energy to get to the yellow gate in under 60 hours. I bushwhacked down the mountain at breakneck speed and I found myself at a large river. The river was maybe fifteen feet wide and absolutely raging from all the rain we were experiencing. I took one step off the river bank and was already chest deep. I would never have made the decision to attempt to swim such waters under anything other than a highly sleep deprived and stressed state of mind.
I washed out on the other side maybe thirty feet down stream. I continued buswhacking and quickly spotted the road into camp. I had less than three minutes left till the sixty hour cutoff. I thrashed my way to the road and put my head down and gutted out the hardest three minutes of my life to collapse at the gate, overtime, and from the wrong direction. I did not finish The Barkley Marathons, and that is no one’s fault but my own. That one fatal error with just over two miles to go haunts me.
Congrats to John Kelly on one hell of a run and thanks to every single person who makes The Barkley what it is.

My crew were amazing and I can’t thank them enough for all that they did for me this past weekend. Linda, Reed, Shawn, Kim and Ethan. I love you guys and I couldn’t have come so close without each and every one of you.


Gary Robbins & The Barkley Marathons – 2017

I am not sure if you followed The Barkley Marathons this weekend or not, but I was glued to twitter all 60 hours watching Gary Robbins and his second attempt at finishing this epic race. Thanks to Canadian Running Magazine I have these videos to post.

Gary Robbins is a Canadian. The Barkley Marathons (wikipedia) loves eating runners alive. Only 15 people have ever finished the race since 1986 (18 finishes – Jared Campbell has finished 3 times whereas Brett Maune has finished twice). Watch to see if Gary is one of them.

Enjoy… more at the end.

and here is the final story from Canadian Running Magazine with some of the transcript of the last video…




One of the highlights of the twitter story for me was the comical dialogue between two of the characters of the race… the Barkley course and a gate in yellow . A gate in yellow is the finish line which was hopeful and optimistic whereas the Barkley Course, being the runner eating course was of course, confident and uncaring to say the least.

What a great use of twitter.



p.s. no, I will not be running or attempting the Barkley Marathons in this life.