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Tag: Patrick Durante

Pine Creek Challenge 100 – Friends make all the difference

I have figured out the formula for finishing a 100-mile race. Pine Creek is the 3rd time I have completed the 100 mile distance. The key to all 3 finishes was one underlying theme. Surround yourself with incredible people! I know that’s not easy, and it can be total luck. Don’t get me wrong, there is lots of training you need to do, but that is just a matter of putting in the miles. If you can make friends with complete strangers on the course, find an incredible pacer, or put together a great support crew, you greatly increase the odds of finishing. I have been lucky enough those things happen each time. You are going to be battling your thoughts in the race. Having somebody there to talk with eases the pain. They are there to help push the pace or slow things down if you’re going too fast.

Why is it that in an ultra can you make friends with complete strangers? Is it the fact that you are facing a common goal and you both want to succeed? You create an instant bond because of the shared suffering. So the biggest thing I did RIGHT was to make new friends. It has helped me EVERY SINGLE time in a race, except for Vermont 100 where I was gifted the ultimate pacer by chance.

The other thing I really liked about this race was having a pace chart handy. From this point out, if it is a 100-mile race, it is critical to have every single detail of your race in an easy-to-look at Excel-like grid that is laminated. I am going to create one of these cards for every race at this distance.

Race charts like this make you feel like you are actually making progress in a 100-mile race. Somehow, Michelle, had the entire thing memorized!

The other benefit of running with a friend is you hear about new podcasts and books that are worth checking out. You learn about books and podcasts that might interest you and would never be exposed to. You hear about the most impactful material that is in that person’s life.

Michelle, Amy, and myself at mile 50.

I wouldn’t say I helped Michelle as much as she helped me. We completed it together. In my first hundred, 2 people stayed with me to get me to the finish. I remembered how much of a difference that made to have people to chat with. It helps with your mental state and I couldn’t imagine doing it alone. It was nice to go through the night with someone on their journey.

I am 100% sure Michelle was more than able to have completed it alone, but she was also kind enough to share the experience. Having someone to run the race with also keeps you honest about the pace. We would take turns alternating between a run-walk when combo in the later miles to keep under our pace target. It’s one thing to run 100 miles on your own, but an experience shared is so much more enjoyable.

Some of the things that I would say went wrong in the race were little slip-ups.
I skipped a shoe/sock change at mile 30-40 miles. There was gravel and dust that was getting in the top part of my socks that started to cause a rash. I should have cleaned and swapped socks sooner to prevent that. I also didn’t have enough caffeine intake later in the race and I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I finally got a cup of coffee at mile 90 and it made a huge difference. Maybe I can bring my own instant coffee?

I should have had a drop bag at BOTH aid stations, not just the Blackwell. There is something about having access to YOUR stuff that gives ease of mind. Something in the bag you can look forward to that is not at the aid stations. I struggle with knowing what to put in each bag so I opted to put it all in one, which really didn’t work out.

I ran out of water between the longer aid stations, be mindful of a hot hundred and ONLY using handhelds, they actually might not be able to hold enough water if it’s greater than 8 miles between aid stations. I am just grateful the weather wasn’t too intense that day.

What would I have done differently? Not too much, my feet took a beating and I am glad I went with the shoes that I did. I switched out 2 pairs of Altra Torin 5s which felt great and caused zero hot spots. 100s can be extremely lonely, and if you get lucky enough to find a person running a similar pace it is worth staying together. You motivate each other to push when the pain can be unbearable. If I had to do anything different I would have lowered my expectations of a finish time when on a new course.

How would you know what to expect? My “A” goal I realized was going to be almost impossible to hit. My “B” goal was under 24 which I achieved. My “C” goal is to make friends and have fun, but my “C” goal was actually the most important goal. I am GRATEFUL for the experience and will be smiling for the next few weeks with the wonderful memories replaying in my mind. I still feel new to the 100-mile distance and feel like I have a lot to learn. Finally, don’t put your number on your shirt, I was an idiot and switched shirts and forgot to move my number. It should always be on your pants! How could I forget that!

Michelle Goldberg and myself right after the finish.

Final thoughts: I should have never told people it’s going to be easy because it was all flat. I completely underestimated the distance and the terrain. The course was beautiful as you can see from the photos. Would I do the race again? I am not sure… I think I enjoy a more rocky and technical terrain over the endless flat roads. It was great, don’t get me wrong, but I enjoy an actual hill every now and then.

More videos and photos can be found here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/eA6UWL9FSdMsfC1F6

Loopy Looper 2021 – Mistakes you do not want to make in your looped Ultra race.

Loopy Looper - Patrick Durante
Photo Credit: Glassjar Productions
Loopy Looper 2021 – Photo Cred: Glassjar Productions

Recap of my race of the Loopy Looper 12 hour event at Cooper River Park in Pennsauken, New Jersey. The reviews consist of 3 topics, what went right, what went wrong, and what I would do differently. I call it the RWD race review.

right:
1) Brought lots of ice to the event in a cooler so I could soak drinks and towels.
2) This race was the closest I ever came to dropping. Taking in some salt and just waiting until I recovered save me from a decision I would have regretted for eternity. I took in food, talked with some people, and tried to regain my reason to get back out there once my initial goals had failed. Thank god the guy working medical at the event gave me some S-caps.
3) Bringing a chair for my air station. I would also have brought something to be in the shade. The sun was VERY intense.

wrong:
1) I didn’t realize how much the weather would affect me and I blindly followed a plan without accounting for the weather.
2) I didn’t put ANY sunscreen on so my body didn’t deflect any of that heat and it made my body work harder than it needed to.
3) Food strategy didn’t work, I didn’t like what I brought and ended up NOT eating it. It didn’t have enough salt in it. I didn’t eat enough at their aid stations.
4) Small pop-up tent would have been useful for my aid station, but unsure if its worth the investment. GET TO RACE EARLY AND GO TO SHADE UNDER TREES!

Differently:
Take salt, start PAINFULLY SLOW.
Racing in the heat = PAINFULLY SLOW START WITH NO RECORDS being broken. We all enter a race with a preconceived plan, but it’s our EGO that keeps us going on a path that might be a mistake.
Better food intake with MORE salt on a hot day.
I have had hot races before and I should have started painfully slow. Remember 2019 Vermont? I don’t care what pace other runners are going, just worry about yourself and what feels right. Have more than 2 shoes to rotate! I only had 2 road shoes and wish I had more and one with MORE cushion. I picked up a pair of Altra Torin 5’s to try out for the next 100-mile race. No negative thoughts. Stop asking people how they feel when you run with or by them. What do you really think they are going to say? Most will just complain about something and bring negativity into the race.

Don’t invite the devil inside your house by talking or thinking negatively.

-Patrick

Final Thoughts: This race was run in direct sunlight/heat, and I didn’t manage my pace and salt intake properly. I didn’t have any S-caps and I didn’t realize how much the heat would affect me with lack of taking in salty foods. It started with water building in my stomach that I could feel sloshing around. Once that started to happen I didn’t feel like eating. I made it back to the start and waiting until I felt better. All I could think about was dropping from the race. I had 2 chewable S caps and waited. It was like somebody switched off the pain/suffering. I knew that If I dropped from the race I would regret it for a long time.

The pain cave was SO bad that I almost quit. Using the sit and wait before you make any big decisions worked well. It gives you time to regain your thoughts.

Would you do the race again? I am unsure how I feel about the course and looped races in general. I need to get over this failure first before I can come to a decision. I might take one more crack at this race before I give up looped races. Overall it wasn’t that bad of a result. I still made it for 52.5 miles.

Blues Cruise 2019

What went right?

If you are going to run your first ultra, the Blues Cruise 50K is the one to pick. That’s just what I did years ago and I keep coming back. The vibe of this race is incredible!
This was my 7th time racing Blues Cruise and I had what I call “fun with race day friends”. That’s when you meet new people on the trail and have a great time with them!

Patrick Durante with Kate Sidoli and Jessica Gockley
Sharing the miles with some super fast ladies!
Kate Sidoli and Jessica Gockley
PHOTO CREDIT: Teodor Beekneeyosec

I meet an incredible group of very fast women, all of which won awards in their respective age groups. Making friends can lead to a better race, but its the type of thing that only happens in ultras. It’s the shared suffering that creates a sense of comradery with strangers. You get to take your mind off the pain and it makes the running feel effortless! It places a limit on your suffering and for myself, I seem to run faster! My times are varied for this race, but maybe its because I don’t meet the right people? I’m unsure, but I finished right at 5 hours and felt great. I gave the race everything I had and that’s all one can hope for, just doing your best.

Trailing behind Kate Crane… As she took 1st place Masters.
PHOTO CREDIT: Teodor Beekneeyosec

What went wrong?

I set the virtual pace on my watch at 9:20 and was going to stick to that pace. This was based on what I had done in years previous. While in the race I had more fun running with strangers than focusing on time. I dropped the time goal and just made it about having fun. The people you are running with are better company than the clock. Know when to abandon something that no longer serves you, especially your watch!

I felt a lack of strength in the last 3 miles, the race taking its toll. I still lack late-race leg turnover, which means I lack strength.  Next year I plan to incorporate more strength and signed up for CrossFit classes at CrossFit Kanna. If I had structured workouts with a group I think I’ll find the missing link to better performance.

Relief!
PHOTO CREDIT: Teodor Beekneeyosec

Final thoughts:

10 minutes after the race, I’m in pain but sad. It went by so quick! I don’t want my season to be over! When you are having fun time flies. That night I couldn’t even sleep. I was excited about how well the race went and how much fun I had. I hate to think about the day when I can no longer do this. I just love these long races. Races are the easy part of the season. You are filled with such excitement and being in the race is pure joy. I hope I can keep running until I’m 90! If I can’t I will just find something new to excite me that matches my physical ability.  Keep moving, keep training and keep racing! I always say there will come a day when I can no longer do this. Today was not that day, but hopefully, that day never shows up… 

The loop!