Posted in Depression, Life lessons, Mental Health, TWLOHA

Bringing light to a dark world

Toughest - TWLOHA-SmallAs I experience pain and suffering in my racing and training, I can make it stop anytime I want. As a result of mental illnesses some people as they experience life don’t have that option, their pain and suffering goes on 24 hour a day, 7 days a week. Let’s help to bring a message of hope to these people. Click of the photo or here for the donation link.

I have seen first hand the devastating effects that mental illness can have on people and the loved ones that surround them. The time has come for us to stop ignoring theses issues and to take real steps to get people the help that they need.

Once again, I want to use my racing and training as an opportunity to raise money for To Write Love on Her Arms a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

I will be participating in the Toughest Mudder East on May 18th-19th. A 12-hour race that begins at 8pm and ends at 8am. The vast majority of the event will be taking place in the darkness of the night. I believe that this is an interesting metaphor for the darkness associated with depression and other mental illnesses. While this might be a demanding race, it is not nearly as difficult as living with the effects of mental illness. I have the option to stop and withdrawn from the pain any time I want, others don’t have that luxury.

You can follow me and my training as it progresses at on Instagram at  @Lifeisanobstaclerace


Posted in Racing

Bonefrog Endurance

BonefrogAs the days lead up to any race my favorite thing to do is to check the weather forecast for the race and to fret about the worst possible conditions. For this race, the forecast kept wavering back and forth between 50° and raining, and 50° and overcast. Since the race was 5 hours long and I don’t deal with cold and wet very well I was hoping for the overcast option. Fortunately, when race morning rolled around the overcast option prevailed.

Since I hadn’t been doing a lot of LONG ENDURANCE training and this was going to be my first five-hour+  race since the Killington Beast in 2016, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but was hoping for the best. For races Bonefrog sets up two courses, a Sprint (3+ miles) and a Challenge (6+ miles) and the Endurance makes use of both of them. It starts with one loop of the Challenge course and then you run as many laps of the Sprint course as you can until you hit the 5-hour time limit. My goal for the race was to earn my Gold Frog pin for a total of 5 laps.

After registering, I took my bag and made my way to the pit area to get set up. I took once last look to make sure everything was set and I knew exactly where everything was so I wouldn’t need to fumble around during the race. The most important items were my:

  • Electrolytes
  • Pop-tarts (frosted cherry)
  • Strawberry newtons

I also had spare shoes and clothes just in case I needed to switch them in the middle of the race. Plus, I had both my hydration vest and hydration belt since I intended to switch from the vest to the belt after the first lap. I wasn’t sure about how long the first lap would take or how well they had water stations spaced out so I figured it was better to have too much water rather than too little. I know from experience that I can’t play catch up with my hydration once it starts going wrong.

After setting up my pit area, I take off my hat and jacket and head over to the start line. While I am standing there, I am thinking, this seems kind of cold so I put on my gloves just to keep my hands warm. Just as they start to warm up, the announcer says 3, 2, 1, GO! And we are off and running.

My target HR for the race was 145-150, so even though we were off and “running” I wasn’t running fast and that was the plan. I was also hoping to stay dry for a while so I could generate some body heat before taking on any water obstacles. But of course, Bonefrog had a different idea, 200 yards into the race they run us through a big puddle and then ½ mile later they have us crawl under a tarp covered through a 75 foot long mud pit (Nightcrawler). So much for staying dry! This obstacle was gross on the first lap and only got worse as the race went on. There wasn’t much that was overly challenging through the first half of the lap and then they split us off onto extra 3 miles of the Endurance course. Was relatively easy until they swung us into an obstacle gauntlet just before we rejoined the sprint course. We hit:

Swingers Club – A rig with ropes and balls as handles

Medal of Honor – Stations of 31 burpees, 19 dips and 9 pull-ups

Get a Grip – A rig with PVC pipe set up as rings

These were taxing to say the least.

Then we were back on the sprint course. Where we were met by an 8-foot wall and another gauntlet of obstacles.

The two hardest were the Chopper

3-Off the Spinner_edited

and Strong Hold.


The Chopper I was able to figure out and make it through a couple of times and I could never get past the Strong Hold, the transition to the web straps got me every time. The rest of the lap was pretty uneventful until it was time for Black Ops. Once you crossed the bars it was time for the next lap.

What was really amazing was how over the course of several hours, even the things that were easy in the beginning became difficult. The rope swing was almost impossible at the end because my grip strength was gone and I just slid down the muddy rope. It was incredibly frustrating to say the least.

It was the same for the rope climb. Between the rope getting muddier and muddier and my grip fading, the last time was a lost cause with no chance for success.

And the 8-foot wall? Without the side support, there was no way I was getting up and over. By the 3rd lap my ability to jump and grab the top of the wall was gone.

The highlight of the day was finally figuring out and completing the Chopper and getting to kick the bell! (Boo to a certain other race that bans this.) And making it across Black Ops on all but two laps. I even made it across on my final lap! That was a great way to end my day.

6 (2)

In the end, I did 6 laps – 18.7 miles in 4:56.30.

I had the option of starting a 7th lap since I was in 4 minutes ahead of the cut-off; but, I was in no condition to “run” another lap. So I proudly accepted my medal along with 6 pins, one for each lap, including the Gold Pin for completing 5 laps. A very successful day!


I finished in 6th place and as I looked at the results, was glad to see that not starting the last lap didn’t affect my placing.

Posted in Life lessons, Musings

Back in Business

I have two things to share with the world.

  • I am still alive.
  • I am still racing.

For some reason, over the past 11 months I haven’t had the motivation to sit down and write new posts. Hopefully, I have turned a corner and will get back to writing and publishing new posts.

But that doesn’t mean my life has been boring. Since my last post in December 2017, quite a few things interesting things have taken place in and out of racing.

Outside of racing

  • I became an NASM Certified Personal Trainer
  • My son graduated high school and began college
  • I became a grandparent for the second time
  • And a bunch of other things that I can’t remember

Inside of racing – If I get truly motivated I may post a couple of race reports

  • I have gone 12 months without an injury for the first time in 3 years
  • I ran the Maryland Savage Race – May 2018
  • I ran the Palmerton Spartan Super – July 2018*
  • I ran the Washington DC Ragnar Relay – Sept 2018*
  • I ran the Washington DC Bonefrog Endurance Race – October 2018*
  • I ran a couple of local 5ks and even managed to win my age group in one of them. It was a small perk of getting old.

* These ones are most likely to get race reports written.

Until next time?

Posted in Life lessons, Racing, Rehabilitation, Training

Training Nov 26 – Dec 9

I know I that I intended to post weekly updates, but of course life got in the way and one week turned into two and before the it becomes three, I decided that it was time for me to sit down and pull a post together. So here goes.

As I look at my calendar from the past two weeks, one thing is crystal clear. I have been able to get in all of my workouts without fail. As I said in my last post, it is pretty easy to get these in since none of them are very long, averaging well under an hour. What is is also clear, is that I am recovering well day-to-day and don’t have a need to add rest days into my schedule at this point. I am sure that will change when I begin to build more intensity into my program once 2018 rolls around. For the foreseeable future, I intend to stick with a 3 day per week running program and begin to build in my OCR specific workouts around that base.  I intend to hit 2 or 3 of those per week depending on how well my recovery goes between workouts.

Nov 26 - Nov 9 Training

As I look at the past three weeks, one thing that I can see is that my volume is ramping up nicely. That is show in the chart below. The only thing that might be a problem is that I am probably ramping up a bit faster than I planned. But as long as I feel good and my foot stays pain free, I intend to keep raising the duration until I get up to about 10 hours per week. I don’t expect to be there until the end of January or early February at the soonest.


What I have also seen in the data is that I am doing well stick to the “Low Intensity Training Plan”. As can be seen below, the vast majority of my training is in Zone 2 followed closely by Zone 3. Those 2 zones accounted for nearly 85% of my training last week, just the way I want it to be. As I move forward into the new year, my plan is to slightly drop both the Zone 2 and Zone 3 percentages and add that time into Zones 4, 5 and 6. When that happens, I will be more or less training at two intensities, really hard and really easy. My goal will be for the intense portions to make up no more than 25% of my training volume.


In comparison, I pulled a selection of data from last year and it was far, far different. The vast majority of my training time was in Zone 4, the kind of hard, but not really too hard zone. The one that really wears me out when I grind through it day after day. This is what I am looking to avoid this season.

Data 2017

Finally, as I look at something that is completely new to me, I have my Heart Rate Variability chart below. Based on what I have gleaned from various sources, including EliteHRV and HRV4Training an increasing HRV and a decreasing CV is an indication that my body is responding well to my training load. If I see this heading in a different direction, then I will have to take steps to modify my training plan. But, until then I am just moving forward.

HRV Chart






Posted in Injury, Rehabilitation, Training

Training Nov 19-25

This was not a good week for me to pick to start reporting since my plans needed to revolve around traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. This meant driving to Virginia on Wednesday and spending time with family until it was time to travel home on Friday. But, nonetheless, it was better to spend the time with my family rather than worrying about missing workouts. There will be plenty of time to make up for the missed workouts, but, you can’t make up missed family time.

Even with two days out for the holiday, I was still able to get five workouts in for the week. This isn’t too hard when your long workout for the week is just over 1 hour. That makes it pretty easy to make time in the day for a workout.

What was good about the week was that I was able to stay fairly true to my goal of easy aerobic workouts. The big column in the chart below represents the time in Zone 2 – what I am defining as my easy, aerobic pace and was where I was 54% of my time. The next bar is slightly higher in intensity and encompassed about 18% of my time. And in reality most of the time in Zone 3 was probably close to the Zone 2/3 border.

Training Nov 19-25

So what did my training look like for the week?

On Sunday, I thought I would start off with a fitness test – 30 minutes on the Concept 2 erg, shooting for max distance. I ended up at 7338 meters. The workout also included about 10 minutes of warm up. Cool down consisted of lying on the ground, gasping for breath. This workout was what gave me time in the two highest intensity zones in the chart above. My average HR for the effort was 167 and my max HR was 178, not bad for someone who’s measured max HR is 187.

Monday was 50 minutes on the elliptical trainer. I did intervals of 1 minute above threshold and 7 easy minutes.

Tuesday was an easy run. I went for 3 miles which was above the 2 miles I had planned, but my foot felt good so I added in some extra distance. The run was slow 9:28 pace but my HR stayed in the desired zone. This was a big win.

Wednesday and Thursday were off days, which was a good thing. My foot was a bit achy from the run on Tuesday.

Friday was another easy paced run, 2.5 miles at a 9:33 pace and once again I kept my HR spot on in the aerobic zone.

Saturday was an indoor aerobic circuit day of the elliptical trainer, inclined treadmill and erg. I did 2 circuits through with 10/10/12 minutes on each. I kept my HR low until the final time on the erg and then I let in creep up into Zone 4. All in all it was a great workout.

So I had a successful week of training. During the upcoming week, I am going to add a little bit to the duration of my workouts while keeping the overall intensity low. For the week I had 210 minutes of training, including 5.5 miles of running, So for this week, I will bump this up to 230 minutes and about 6 or 6.5 miles of running. Slow and steady will win this race.