Thursday, January 29, 2015

Salming: No Nonsense!

I've been lucky enough in my running career to receive support from some great shoe companies: from Nike, in college; to Brooks, when I ran for the Haddonfield Running Company during medical school and residency; and as part of the Inov-8 pro deal team in 2011.  And I'm thrilled now to announce a partnership with Salming, which entered the US market last year and is making great strides on the running, triathlon, and trail running scene.

The great Borje Salming.
Salming was started by hockey legend Borje Salming, the first Swedish player named to the NHL Hall of Fame and widely considered one of the greatest Swedish players of all time.  Like many industry giants, they make products for multiple sports: hockey, as you can imagine, but also floorball, handball, squash, and running.

The running shoes are borne out of Salming's holistic approach to evaluating running form, exemplified by their innovative RunLAB in Gothenburg, which incorporates real-time stride analysis, motion capture, and video to measure individual biomechanics and then derive coaching plans aimed at increasing performance and decreasing injury risk.  Salming's running shoes have garnered multiple awards overseas and debuted in the US late last year.  While the RunLAB has not yet reached US shores, the brand is committed to bringing the insights gained there to their shoe design.  Specifically, they focus on producing light, flexible shoes that allow for a "natural" foot strike and greater ground feel and proprioception.

Now, let's not get into a huge thing here.  Few things polarize a friendly running discussion more than the debate over "natural" running, heel-striking vs. forefoot striking, barefoot running, minimalism, maximalism, and Born to Run.  (BTW: They're making a Born to Run movie!  With Matthew McConaughey!  Tell me you're not gonna watch that.)  It's my blog, so I'll tell you what I think (and feel free to comment below) and then we'll move on: I think that the minimalist movement, although it got co-opted and taken too far, spurred some of the best advances in shoe technology and design in the past thirty years.  Whether or not you run in minimalist shoes, you've benefitted from the impact it had on the industry.  Without people talking about heel-toe drop and foot strike, you never see Hoka One One, Altra, Scott, or a host of great shoes from New Balance, asics, and the rest of the shoe giants.

So where does Salming fall on the spectrum?  They are certainly committed to the "natural" movement in shoe design, but in actuality the shoes do a nice job of walking the line between traditional and new-wave.  They have no zero-drop models; all Salming shoes (at least to this point) have a 5mm heel-toe drop, which is significantly less than the standard 10-12mm seen in most traditional designs, but obviously a big difference over the zero-drop offerings that have proliferated in recent years.  (For reference, that's right in line with many of the Hoka models--the Stinson and the Bondi are both around 4mm; the Conquest and the RapaNui are in the 5-5.5mm range.)  This does help to promote a more midfoot/forefoot strike, but without some of the strain on the calves and Achilles people notice with zero-drop models.  They are all light; the heaviest shoe, the new Trail T1, checks in at just over ten ounces.  Stack heights are low, which does increase the ground feel and responsiveness, to some extent at the cost of cushioning, but not overwhelmingly so.  They are modern shoes with a classic feel.  Overall, they embody the brand's tagline, "No nonsense."  These are no-nonsense running shoes.

The Distance A2.
So far I've been putting in miles in the Distance A2, which I've been enjoying a lot.  I tend to like low, light, flexible shoes, and these certainly fit the bill.  Salming hasn't quite yet mastered the "anatomic toe box" they talk about; the last is still fairly traditional, and it is certainly not up to Altra standards in terms of really expanding the toe box, but hopefully they will get there in subsequent models.  The Trail T1 hits the US in about three weeks, so I'm very, very stoked to check those out.

I couldn't be prouder or more excited to be representing Salming in 2015 with a fantastic group of athletes (including local legends Bec and Laurel Wassner!), who are all much, much more accomplished than I.  I'll be sporting the gear starting at next month's Mount Mitchell Challenge and throughout the rest of the year.  Please check them out and hit me up with any questions you have about the shoes or the brand.  Gonna be a great year!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Guest Blogger! A Race Recap from Joe Puleo

One of the biggest influences in my running life has been Joe Puleo. I first met Joe when I was a medical student in Philadelphia and he was the owner of the Haddonfield Running Company, a specialty running shop in Haddonfield, NJ. I started taking the PATCO train out to Haddonfield on Wednesday nights to join their group runs and Joe and I became good friends. He was my coach through residency and for several years afterwards, guiding me to some of my best performances, including my marathon PR and my first few 50Ks. Joe is a fantastic coach, both for private clients and at the high school and collegiate levels; he is also the coach of the elite marathon team for the US Marine Corps. He is also the author of Running Anatomy, which is a must-read if you are a runner looking to build functional and core strength (and if you're not, you should be).

Joe has a long competitive history as a collegiate and post-collegiate athlete, including having been one of the top amateur triathletes in the country, and can still drop a sub-5:00 mile when he's fit, but until this year has always considered ultra running to be pretty stupid. However last week he ran his first ever 50K, and when he asked if he could commandeer the blog to share his experience, I was only too happy to say yes. I'd like to invite anyone else who has a story to share to take over the blog as well, as long as you also happen to be one of the ten most influential people in my life.

Anyway, here's Joe's race report. He sounds just like a real ultrarunner! But he probably still thinks it's stupid.


On December 19, 2014 I began to think about my New Year’s resolutions.  I decided that besides losing a few pounds, doing bikram yoga, and incorporating more high fiber foods to my diet I would also run an ultra marathon.  All of the previous statements are false except for the final one.  The final is just plain stupid. I had averaged about 14 miles/week for 2014, and I had a long run of eleven miles in early November, yet I felt pretty good about my fitness.  So, why not run an ultra!  A lot of my friends do them, and two athletes I coached just finished JFK in approximately eight hours.  They reported it was not miserable. Why not run an ultra?

I reviewed a list of ultras on some website devoted to the silliness of running hours and hours, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, m&m’s, and licorice, (also Oreos) until I found the perfect race: The Frosty Fifty. Four 7.75 mile loops of a mostly flat hard-packed trail.  I don’t enjoying running on any hard surface, my 48 year-old body has about 45,000 miles of jogging on the odometer. Also, the temperature would be 45-50 degrees, not 75-80 degrees. After burning my hair (I think that is what I did. It smelled like it) in a race in the early 1990’s, I have an aversion to running in the heat, unless it is dry heat like in Sacramento where I ran last summer when it was 101 degrees.  Then, the heat is ok.  An added bonus was the race was in Winston-Salem, NC so I could visit two of my closet friends.


So I signed up, and started planning my training.  I decided to run a few, easy, five mile trail runs and race a 5k (roads) as my prep.  I did not do a long run because it would unduly fatigue me for my race, which was two weeks away.  

Two weeks!  

That is normally the duration of a marathon taper, not the length of an ultra training program.  Actually, I think Dean Karnazes claimed in Runner’s World and Vanity Fair that he ran for two weeks straight.  No sleep, no solid food (just yak urine fortified with manna from the Gods), and no shoes (Christopher McDougall wrote the article), so running about ten miles a week for the two weeks leading up to the race made total sense to the contrarian side of my personality.

I re-read all of Jay Friedman’s blog posts to see if I could glean “magic” insights that could help me master the distance and enjoy the experience.  The most cogent piece of information was actually from Lexi , “Then I ran around a corner and there was the finish line.  Everyone was cheering for me and that felt embarrassing but good.”  

I couldn’t wait for that feeling.  It would be worth enduring running two weeks worth of mileage in one morning.

I packed my bags with my planned racing gear.  

Nike Air Pegasus 10.5
Open Eye Café’s Defeet AirEator socks md.
Hind wind briefs xl
Puma short tights lg
Nike clima-fit running pants md
Patagonia short-sleeve base layer md
Puma singlet-md
Saucony Razor jacket (water-proof) md
EMS sports liner gloves
PearlIzumi water shell gloves
Sugoi Waterproof jogging cap

(I felt a bit like Homer, in the Iliad, listing the roster of ships, but Jay Friedman describes all his clothing choices, so I figured that is what we ultra runners do).

I brought five GU’s of various flavors, a handful of saltstick caps, and a packet of Skratch to mix with water as part of my hydration plan.  The rest of my hydration plan consisted of water, Mountain Dew, and Coke at the aid stations during the race, and sampling a lot of the microbrews and coffees in Asheville after the race.

I flew to Raleigh on Friday, January 2nd, arriving at 11:20 am. A driver sent from the race picked me up at the airport (actually it was my best friend, Scott Conary, owner of Carrborro Coffee Roasters, the Open Eye Café, and Caffé Driade in the Chapel Hill area of NC.).  We had lunch at Mama Dip’s Kitchen.  I had the chicken potpie, cornbread and greens.  After gathering ourselves, we had dinner and then drove to Mocksville, NC to stay with friends, Dave Salmon, the former food service director at my alma mater Elizabethtown College, his wife Diane, and their daughter Amy, who lives next door.

Scott, Dave, and I ran together while at Elizabethtown, and our friendship has endured for thirty years.  Scott was planning to bike on the trails during the race, and Dave was planning to run with me for a loop.  At 72 years old, he still can muster up the energy to help me.  We caught up until 12:30am and I woke at 5:15am, but felt totally rested.  Diane, per usual (we ate at their home regularly after long runs or races while in college), fed us a hearty breakfast (oatmeal, eggs, toast, fruit, coffee) that I ate whole-heartedly (I was about to run 31 miles), and at 6:15 we began the: 45 drive to Salem Lake in Winston-Salem.

I get to the lake at 7:15, check-in, get dressed, and sit in the car until 7:50 am.  I walk down to the start, use the port-a-john, and join the 250 or so runners (about 125 in the accompanying 25k).  At 8:00 am the race director wishes us luck, starts the race, and off we go.  I immediately start jogging.  Unlike shorter races which I am competitive in (age-group wise) I have no interest in racing an ultra.  There is only one goal: finish the race, and enjoy the emotion Lexi felt upon completing her triathlon.

I naturally settle into a 9:35-9:45/mi pace.  Slower than my training pace for endurance runs  (8:35-9:03), but I feel comfortable, and my stride feels natural.  I spend the first five miles of the loop talking with a nice man from Winston-Salem who trains regularly on the loop we are running.  He describes the whole course and tells me that he wants to break 2:30 for the 25k.  I ask what pace that is.  He says, “I don’t know, but I want to break 2:30.  As a running coach I find that to be a strange approach to pacing.  But what do I know.  I still have three loops to go before I am an ultra marathoner and can make judgments on others race strategies.

The second loop starts and I find myself running with Jill Baulieu, a fifty-three year-old female 25k runner who began running approximately four years ago.  When I walk up the hills she scoots ahead and I reel her back in on the flats.  We are averaging 9:40-9:45 miles, and I feel fine.  Not cold, not hot.  No real fatigue despite passing 11 miles, my longest run in over two months.  She is a genuinely nice woman and the loop disappears in conversation about our life stories.

As Jill runs up the last hill in preparation to finish her 25k, I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and walk gradually up the same hill.  I think of how proud all my ultra friends would be of me, keeping my heart rate down and eating “fat-ass” food.  I am getting this ultra thing.

For the third lap, Dave, my 72 year-old friend jogs along side of me.  He has just come from leading a beginning runner’s group run where he ran four miles.  I forget that Dave is pretty old.  I am transported back 25 years ago when we ran together pretty much daily, a time when roles were reversed and I paced him through 18 miles of the Northern Central Trail marathon. As we pass an aid station a volunteer yells congratulations to Dave for being the top 70-74 ranked age group runner in Davie County.  Dave mumbles something back, Dave is good at mumbling, and then we march on through miles 19, 20, and 21.

We talk about how our lives have changed the past 25 years, but in so many ways we are doing exactly what we were doing then.  Running long and talking about the circumstances of our lives.  I stop at the aid station at mile 6.5 (approximately mile 24 of the race) and drink some Coke and Mountain Dew.  I don’t eat any more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  They are nasty.  I peel off my jacket in preparation for my last lap.  I am planning to run fast to get this over with!  Dave and I have been running 10-minute miles, and I am hoping to drop down closer to 9:00/mi.

Dave asks if I want to have him continue with me and I say, “No, I need to do the next few miles on my own.”  Big mistake!  As soon as I start the last lap my natural desire to run fast takes hold.  My best event is the mile.  I have fast twitch fibers that love to be used.  I had fought the desire to listen to my “natural” instinct to run fast by relying on my “wise” instinct to be patient (sort of like not succumbing to the siren sound, Homer again, of the fourth microbrew when three works perfectly well).  Why the hell at mile 24 would I change my mindset?  I admit it I am weak, a man of sin, I can’t control my impulses, but by mile 28 I find myself no longer able to lift my knees.  And as any runner knows if you can’t lift your knees, you can’t lift your feet off the ground.  If you can’t lift your feet, you invariably trip over pebbles and twigs on the course.  Anything higher than an inch becomes a steeplechase barrier.  I do not hurdle well, so I shuffle, walk, amble, meander, and sidle my way to the final hill, which I charge up like a champion!  Actually, I do nothing of the sort.  I whine like a sissy as my psoas muscles totally give out and I am reduced to a stiff-legged walk up the hill as my glutes join my psoas in picketing the endeavor of the final climb.  

Finally, with the finish line in sight I switch gears and remember the joy that Lexi described upon finishing her triathlon.  I can’t wait for the adulation of the adoring crowd.  I turn to Scott and Dave, and say I will see them at the finish, take pictures.  I throw them my running pants and t-shirt so I can triumphantly straddle jog down the hill, wearing a singlet and short tights, which I hope, make me look good in the post-race pictures.  They don’t.  I look tired and old which is exactly how I felt.  I forget to look at the clock, it is not relevant to my performance, but later learn that I ran 5:22:00, and finished 40th.

My takeaway from the race is that 50k’s are not difficult if you run slow enough.  I would not have changed from my 10:00 pace on the last lap if I had a do-over.  Also, I would have run a few runs of two plus hours in preparation.  Not in the two weeks leading up to the race, but probably in the two months before the race.  My psoas and glute muscles gave out because they were not trained enough (read, at all).

The rest of my body felt pretty good, and after soaking in a 40 degree creek in Black Mountain, NC the next day I went mountain biking in the mountains around Asheville the following morning.  I had some lingering glute pain on Wednesday when I went for a jog, but I don’t think it is an injury, just a welcome soreness.  It means that I ran well, and that my muscles are firing correctly.

Unfortunately, unlike Lexi’s experience at the kid’s triathlon nobody was cheering for me when I finished, but it didn’t matter.  I got handed a handmade pottery Christmas ornament that says I finished an ultra marathon, and that is pretty cool.

Will I do another one?  Not that the universe or anyone reading this cares, but the answer is a definite, “we’ll see.”  I have a desire to run JFK and Comrades for the experiences, so I need to qualify, but I also have many other challenges I want to take on, so I am not sure of how much a priority revisiting ultra running will be. For now, I am proud to have completed one, and to have joined the great bunch of people who have earned the moniker ultra marathoner.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Orange Mud: Ultralight Hydration

Photo: Joe Dean
Let me start by saying: I really like gear, but I don't often use it.  I love having stuff, but when I run, I'm usually a minimalist.  I generally race with only a handheld, unless the race is unsupported; in training, I won't usually carry anything if I'm running for less than three hours, unless the heat dictates that I carry water.  But last year I started using the Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest on some of my longer runs and unsupported FA-style events.  Honestly, it's a great product.  You can carry a fair bit of gear and two 16-oz bottles without any significant bouncing, and it's incredibly lightweight.  I had very few complaints; on longer efforts I did feel like I was adjusting the chest straps a little too frequently, and the sternal strap can be a bit limiting, but all in all, a huge improvement (from my perspective) over Camelbacks, waist belts, and the like.

The Orange Mud handheld
Last year a friend turned me on to Orange Mud, a small hydration company based out of California.  I first found their handheld, which is one of the better examples on the market that I've found: quite light, very adjustable, with a much more comfortable strap that my previous handhelds, and enough room for a few gels or small packable items.  It wasn't until the end of this year, however, that I discovered the HydraQuiver, the flagship product in the Orange Mud line, and fell in love.

The HydraQuiver is a vest, but unlike the UD vests, the hydration has been moved from the front to the more traditional alignment on the back.  At first, I was concerned with bouncing, as I was under the impression that the elimination of bounce in the UD line had come from shifting the weight to the front.  But the HydraQuiver, instead of distributing the weight in the small of the back, as you'd expect with a Camelback, keeps the weight centered in the upper back, between the shoulder blades.  The result is a completely bounce-free ride, with easy access by reaching behind you.  If you can scratch the back of your neck, you can pull out the water bottle.

When I first put on the Orange Mud HQ, it felt much too tight in the armpits.  But as soon as I started running and my arms came up into their normal carriage, all the tension vanished.  The pack rests comfortably with no bounce and no tension (and no sternal strap).  I have yet to tug on a strap to adjust it during a run.  As great an experience as the UD line provides, the Orange Mud HQ is better; I literally forget that I'm wearing it, and have started taking it on shorter runs of 60-90 minutes, just because it's so comfortable.  The back is padded for comfort, and there is a pocket that will easily accommodate a phone, some nutrition, keys, and other small sundries. It's my go-to choice for running hydration right now, and I anticipate racing with it this year, even in supported ultras, which I never would have thought possible before.

I'm proud to announce that I've joined the Orange Mud team as one of their ambassadors (or "am-badass-adors" as they like to say) and will be happily promoting their gear.  There are several other products worth checking out in the Orange Mud line.  The HydraQiver Double Barrel is the same idea, with two rear bottles; the VP2 has extra space for more gear, during longer efforts.  There are several new products launching this year, including a gym bag which looks very well-planned.  They also have some cool logo gear (including the super-hipster trucker hat, which almost never leaves my head now) and they also make a neat towel/car seat cover.  It's definitely worth checking them out.

Monday, January 12, 2015

How to be a Vegetarian

Hello.  It's Lexi.  You haven't heard from me for a long time.  Sorry about that.  I would like to tell you all that the reason that I have recommended foods to you is that not only do they taste good, but they are a healthy (and delicious) choice for you to make.  I hope you find them delicious too.

I also wanted to say that I became a vegetarian.  One difficulty with being a vegetarian is that I have to get enough protein.  I have some recommendations of foods that have protein in them that I find good:
  • beans
  • dairy, especially cheese
  • tofu (I love tofu corn dogs)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Race Report: Recover from the Holidays 50K

Looking UGLY at the beer mile finish.
Photo: Mark Eisenhandler
Ack!  Haven't blogged in a month.  I've been thinking about blogging a lot, though; "New blog post" has been on my to-do list for several weeks now.  I wanted to throw up a post (haha, I just saw that pun while I was re-reading this, now I'm totally leaving that in there) about our recent beer mile, but there wasn't much news to report: I was sick, felt terrible the whole way, blew chunks at the 1200 mark and wound up running the extra lap, coming in DFL in 16:31.  A really horrendous showing.  The four-man race was won by Dr. Mike in 8:05, pretty excellent for a debut beer mile!

I had one last race in 2014 after the Wagathon, which was the Rockland XC Alumni Race, a 3-mile cross-country race I've run every year since 1993.  This turned out to be a big year, as my CHSN Rams won our record ninth men's team title.  But I also maintain the blog/website for that race, so just go there to check it out.  It's a fantastic race with a great tradition that I've tried to capture/enhance with my site.  But it didn't seem to make sense to post about it here too.

2014 Alumni Run Champs!
Photo: Brian Marks

I have some really exciting sponsorship news as well, which is going to be popping up on the blog in the next few days.  And believe it or not, some food stuff too, which we haven't seen here for quite some time, will be coming from both myself and (hopefully) Lexi as well in the next couple of weeks.

So I've been kind of putting things off on some of these posts, but it's a new year, and I'm ready to get back into it, especially because I've been feeling pretty good physically and I'm getting excited for running and racing in 2015.  I kind of unofficially kicked off my season with the Recover from the Holidays 50K last weekend, so I'm kicking off my blogging season as well.

Calling this a "Race Report" might be a bit of a stretch; RFTH is definitely fat-ass style.  You can start whenever you want, and run as many of the ten paved out-and-back 5K loops as you care to; of the seventy or so folks who turn up, maybe one in four are planning on finishing the whole thing.  But I'd argue it's less of a Fat Ass than a no-frills, minimalist race.  Sure, there's no entry fee, no numbers, minimal aid, no t-shirt.  But Pete Colaizzo and Charlie Sprauer count every lap and log every split; there are race results and records that go back twenty years.  Full results get published in Ultrarunning magazine.  A glance at the past champions reveals some true giants of the  ultra world: Bob Sweeney, Byron Lane, Brent Backus, Rainer Koch.  And yes, you can start early if you want, but if you plan on competing, you show up at the 9 am start and get ready to roll.

Stupid watch...
Photo: Charlotte Kopp
In my first two attempts, I had run to basically uncontested wins in 2011 and 2013, but I knew this year would not be easy.  I lined up with two good friends and training partners who I knew were ready to run.  Brian Hickey is a two-time RFTH champ himself (1998 and 2012) who has been logging some big miles and strong hill climbs as we gear up for Mount Mitchell in February; and Phil Vondra, despite this being his first "official" ultra, is a triathlon stud who regularly makes me hurt on our long weekend runs.  In addition, three-time race winner and former US 24-hour team member Byron Lane would be putting in an appearance.  This would be no cakewalk.

We started off on a fairly frigid morning in a pack of five, including me, Brian, and Phil; Byron hung back, but we had two people with us immediately, one chatty and one silent.  It's tough when you're not sure who is racing and who is just out for a Saturday morning run, so I was a little more aggressive than I would've liked.  Brian and I wanted to run about 7:30 pace, and Phil figured he'd hang with us through halfway and see how he felt.  But the presence of the other two spooked us a little bit, and Brian and I alternated leading the opening couple of miles in the 7:15-7:20 range.  Right at the start of the second lap, Phil and our chatty companion dropped back just a little bit, and our silent partner made an enormous move, suddenly running near six-minute pace.  Brian and I let him go immediately; by the turnaround halfway through lap two, he had already put over a minute on us.

At this point we figured he was either just doing a workout or was going to run near the course record of 3:21, which neither of us were prepared to do, so we didn't feel particularly bothered either way, just kept clicking off 7:20s.  Brian stopped to use the facilities after the second lap, and I slowed down to 7:30 pace to have him catch up.  Halfway through lap four he had caught and passed Phil and his shadow, and had closed within 30 seconds of me or so; I stayed relaxed and looked forward to him catching up so we could run together.  But he needed another pit stop shortly thereafter and fell further behind.  I was finding the 7:30s very comfortable and just continued to run them very evenly, coming through halfway in 1:53:50; with a pre-race target of 3:50, I was very pleased.  By this point, the breakaway leader had finished, after running three or four laps at 6:00-6:30 pace, and Phil's companion, who apparently was prepping for an upcoming marathon, finished up at 25K as well.  Suddenly I was in the lead, by about two minutes over Phil and maybe 3-4 over Brian, with fourth place another few minutes back and being stalked by Byron in fifth.  I asked Phil to catch up with me in the middle of the fifth or sixth lap, but he said he wanted to ease off the pace a bit, so I kept running my solo 7:30s.

It didn't look like I was going to have too much company, so I needed another mental game.  I decided I'd run 7:30 pace through lap seven, then run two hard laps and jog the last one.  Starting lap six I grabbed my Orange Mud handheld and focused on taking in some fluids over the next 10K, which worked well; finishing lap seven I was a bit tired but ready to try some hard running.  I dropped the bottle, grabbed my iPod, and immediately dropped down to sub-7:00 pace.  I put my external game face on, hoping to convince my brain that it was time to go; instead of smiling and exchanging high-fives with my friends as we passed each other on the laps, I simply grunted and gave them my best "I'm focused" look.  And it seemed to work!  For the eighth lap, at least, my legs responded quite well, and I banged out a sub-21:00 5K; following it with my second-fastest split on the ninth lap, though that was certainly a struggle.

By then, though, I had a ten-minute lead, and I was happy to go into cool-down mode, feeling as though I had really put a good effort in; I ran the last lap in about 24:00, finishing up in 3:48:05, right in line with my goals/expectations, and happy to run almost perfectly even splits (1:53:50/1:54:15).  My GPS screwed up something awful, so I needed to reset it during the first half of lap 3, but you can see my data for the last seven laps here:

Overall I was very pleased with the effort.  I accomplished my time and place goals, I ran a decent enough time with a well-controlled effort, and I confirmed that my fitness, while not up to the 3:32 standard I set two years ago, is at least where I need to be two months away from the big date with Mount Mitchell.  Mentally, I didn't really have any opportunities to go into the tank, so it wasn't much of a test from that perspective, but I felt like I did a good job holding my focus over what turned out to be a mostly solo effort.  Brian unfortunately struggled after his second pit stop as the effects of running on three hours' sleep took hold (that's another story), and he dropped after 40K, but Phil did a fantastic job keeping his pace pretty steady and running an excellent 3:56 for second place in his first ultra.  The race has been going for twenty years now, and Phil popped the #17 performance all-time on his first attempt.  As they say where he's from, "Good on ya!"  Or is that Australian?  I forget.

Quick gear report: I ran in the Salming Distance A2, a new road shoe that I'l have a lot more to say about in the coming days.  Clothing-wise: an old pair of tights; a long-sleeve base layer from 32 Degrees, which I think is technically long underwear but is my favorite running base layer; and an Orange Mud tech shirt and super-hipster trucker cap.  Hydration with the OM handheld; more details on that stuff coming as well.