I rang in my 36th birthday in 2016 by spending just shy of nine hours – 8:52 to be exact – running, hiking, climbing, and cursing at the trails of the Blue Hills Reservation while running the “Don’t Run Boston” 50K.
Runners scrambling up on the DRB course.
As luck would have it, 362 days later I was back at the Blue Hills to close out my 36th year running DRB again. Based on how the schedule worked out, it gave me a unique opportunity to bookend my year with the same race and, in a sense, use it as a measuring stick for comparing where my fitness, trail strength, and mental toughness were to start and finish my year. Suffice to say, I think I’ve aged pretty well, and surrounded myself with good company in the process. Some of that quality camaraderie played a huge role in the successful run of 2017. Continue Reading
January through March were all about laying the foundation for 2017. I banked more than 500 miles during that span and logged my first-ever 200-mile month.
Now it’s April, and racing season starts this weekend. A glance beyond Saturday can feel a bit overwhelming, however. Continue Reading
Plenty has changed since I first started running the trails in the summer of 2010. For one thing, all of those ultrarunners who I thought were crazy … well, I’m one of them now, and have been for more than five years.
The bigger change has come in terms of mileage – daily, weekly, and monthly. I was still working as a sportswriter when I first started running trails, and that left me with about one evening per week that I could get to the trails to run. The 4.5-mile Wednesday Night Beginner’s Run at Shawnee Mission Park in Kansas City was my only weekly run for most of a year before I started adding in a few miles on the weekend. I might have a 10-mile week if I was lucky, and that seemed like a lot back then. Continue Reading
My lungs burned and the springy feeling in my legs turned to lead as I pushed up the winding, rock- and root-strewn hill toward Wright’s Tower on a chilly but humid Saturday morning at the Middlesex Fells Reservation. Upon reaching the top, I trotted past the tower to the outcropping of rocks that serve as a lookout point toward the skyline of downtown Boston seven miles away.
I run the trails here often, and this is a regular stopping point to catch my breath, clear my head, or sit and think for a little while before heading on my way for more miles in the woods.
I gazed toward the city and saw clouds rolling through quickly. They would clear soon, the forecast said; it was supposed to be a beautiful day in Boston. I knew the city would be buzzing with energy soon. The Boston Women’s March for America – a sister event to the Women’s March on Washington in the nation’s capital – was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. I knew a few friends who would be marching in Washington, D.C., and others who planned to be at Boston Common. Continue Reading
The miles seemed important as they piled up. I was certain I’d surpassed 1,300 miles for 2016, but upon reviewing the graphic below, it’s clear I fell a bit shy: 1,295 miles – still not too shabby. Continue Reading
Vermont in the fall is a truly spectacular place and time to be a trail-runner, especially when weather conditions are perfect.
I’ve certainly been blessed with ideal conditions during my two trips to the Vermont 50 – for the 50-mile race in 2015 and the 50K race this year on Sunday, Sept. 25. Not every year of the Vermont 50 is flawless – in fact, I’ve been told by many that it is notorious for challenging weather, be it extreme heat like in 2014, or heavy rain the year prior. In 2015, however, the course was dry, the skies were sunny, and temperatures ranged from 32 degrees at the start to the upper 60s by late afternoon. This year was even more fabulous, with temperatures ranging from the upper 30s to upper 50s, dry ground, and sunny skies that allowed the fall foliage to explode in color all around us.
As a guy who grew up in Kansas – a place known for its picturesque fall colors – Vermont makes me feel like I’m back in the heartland this time of year, except, of course, for the mountains. Continue Reading
FORKSVILLE, Pa. – The howl of cheering voices and clatter of cowbells in the distance echoed off the hemlock and hardwoods, joining the patter of raindrops and squishing of footsteps in the mud as the only sounds in the forest on this damp, dark night.
The finish line was less than a mile away; within earshot, it felt tantalizingly close. I’d be there soon, if I could just navigate this final windy descent.
About 20 minutest before the start, with Alex. Photo by Tania Lezak.
“Chris! Be careful!” implored Alex, my girlfriend and pacer, who followed 20 feet behind me, watching as I slipped and stumbled along the muddy, rocky trail. The beam from my Black Diamond headlamp cut through a dense fog, revealing that the singletrack had eroded into half-track, with barely six inches of width available for foot placement. I grabbed trees to my left for support as the ground to my right crumbled and disappeared down the hillside.
I was running on fumes; drunk on Gatorade and exhaustion. This was the final – and most harrowing – battle with a course that had proven to be every bit the beast that I anticipated when I signed up back in January. I wanted to take on a race unlike any I’d ever attempted, with a course that would test me mentally and physically every step of the way and dare me to quit. I wanted to stare failure in the eye and see if I would blink. Continue Reading