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Tag: Ultra running

Shawangunk Ridge Trail Run

What went right

I made sure to diversify my food intake for this race.  I used chew blocks because you can load them in your pack.  Every snack I had in my bag I made sure to split up over the course of an hour and used a 30-minute timer to remember to eat.  Splitting up each snack made sure I was adding calories slowly and easier for my stomach to digest.  Pack was loaded with 4 scoops in the 2L bladder with Tailwind.  The GPX loaded from the race was in reverse so I edited the file down to 30M, you can find the course file I modified here on Garmin.



Water filtering for the course was pretty easy to do, I loaded my bladder to the max at the start, but next time I would have loaded it halfway and used water on the course. I timed my pain relief (cracked my shin on a rock, normally wouldn’t do anything for this distance) and caffeine (halfway mark I felt tired from being up since 12:30 AM) and they made for a comfortable energy and pain experience through the race.

What went wrong

There were a few times I was off course and then had to cross over brush.  This is what slowed me down the most but as I tell my kids, first is the worst.  I couldn’t sleep the night before as I had some pre-race excitement so I decided to leave early so I could charge my car at the destination.  I fell a few times on slippery rocks.  If it rains you will need to be mindful of traction.  The rocks were very slippery at points and only having poles would have helped to prevent some nasty falls.  You need fast feet for this course, which means jump rope and running drills as it is a rocky course.

What would I have done differently?  

Poles would be a must if it was wet!  I should have taken a picture of my kit.  I forgot calf sleeves and you need them to protect from brush in the beginning.  There wasn’t a whole lot I would change with how this race went.  I took my time where it was scenic and enjoyed the course.  I didn’t rush it, was able to locate most trail markers on only went off the trail a handful of times.  Now that I am aware of where the water refill spots are it eases my mind for next time, if there is a next time.  

I used water sources at Mile 3, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23

I used water sources at Mile 3, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23

Final Thoughts:

I just finished the book Die with Zero and it talks about the 3 things we need to maximize our life experience.  We need health, money, and free time.  There are certain experiences that we get locked out of if we wait too long to do them in life.  I was laughing as I don’t think this is a race I could do in my 70s or 80s.  This was a HARDER ultra, but not impossible.  The 70 miler might be worth taking on next year now that I have an understanding of the course.  Someone said that it was harder than Eastern States because of managing both the course and unsupported.  I believe that in the fact that is a ton of food you would need to carry.  It might be a fun challenge for next year. 


Another idea from Die with Zero is the idea of autopilot.  In most races, your brain can go on autopilot following the markers until you finish.  I think that’s why I enjoyed this race so much.  There was no autopilot, you had to be engaged.  You were always paying attention to water, food, and trail markings because if you didn’t you could only blame YOURSELF if you missed it!  That’s how life is, you can easily be going the wrong path and doing the wrong thing far too long in life.  You might think you are going the right way, but it’s only once you have traveled down the wrong path far too long you realize your mistake. In life, you CAN’T turn around!  It’s this idea of living a well-intentioned life and constantly evaluating choices.  That’s kind of what this race reminded me of.  You have to constantly evaluate your decisions in life to see if you have missed a “life marker” telling you that you should have turned.  If only life had more “markers” or signs to show you where you should be going, you may only get little hints here and there.  Autopilot is dangerous as you stop thinking, stop interacting, and stop paying attention to the beauty that life could offer only if you had gone the right way.  I add races I’ve never done every year to avoid autopilot.  What other things in your life are on autopilot?  If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you keep getting what you’ve always got.  CHANGE IT UP!  Go somewhere new, do something different, and add novelty, it’s the only thing that extends how long our life feels.  When we are in routine life speeds by, when we are doing new and novel experiences it slows down.  

I still do some of the same races every year, but I am glad for the new ones I add. They opened my eyes to the beauty and diversity of the trails you will find.  The Catskill Mountains are amazing and I can’t wait to run more races there!

7 Critical Things I Tell Myself Before A 24-Hour Endurance Event.

These are 7 of the things that start going through my mind the week before an event. You are trying to align your mind with what your body is about to do. Mental prep is vital to success, so self-talk leading up to a race is critical.

1) You get what you get and you don’t get upset.

Training is done, there’s nothing more to do.  You will wish you had more time.  I rarely get to the starting line feeling 100%, more like 75-90%. You rarely perform the perfect taper or get great sleep the week of the event.  Everyone has a life outside of running, unless you’re a pro, that will put additional demands on you.   If you can get to the starting line be grateful. 

2) Today Will Not Be Perfect

The event will not be perfect.   Know that things will go sideways and I hope they do!  Odds are I will fall, run out of water, get injured, and be extremely tired.  The list goes on and on, expectations should be low then I will be pleasantly surprised if it goes well. Prepare your mind for adversity!

3) Keep Your Mind Busy

Take some photos, talk to strangers, or plan your aid station meal. From the book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” keeping busy eliminates suffering and pain. We are single-track-minded, and we really only do one thing at a time.  Keeping your brain busy with something helps distract from the pain. It can’t focus on a task AND pain, so make sure you get busy with some tasks to distract from the pain.

4) Insecurities Come and Go 

Get ready for the highest highs and lowest lows.  The event will have times you feel like you are on top of the world, then wish someone would put you out of your misery.  It will bounce between these two extremes, realize they pass just like a fast-moving storm, and you just need to acknowledge it and keep moving!

5) Fix Minor Issues Early

Be sensitive to irritation. If something is annoying you in the slightest way, stop and take care of it.  Tell your crew to get whatever you need to fix it, ice or lube if there’s a hot spot.  You can’t put things off. Small problems balloon into major issues the longer the event. Your mind will keep nagging you if you don’t, until is screaming to stop.

6) Always Be Eating (A-B-E). 

Constantly fuel your body and brain. Unlike training, it’s something I remind myself in a race. Set a timer for every 30 minutes and keep eating or drinking your calories. You should also change what you are eating as to not get sick of it.  The stomach is slow to digest and you are going to be doing this for a long time.  ALWAYS BE EATING! You think this is simple to do, but it is not. The brain gets lazy with remembering when to eat, and the stomach stops craving food.   

7) Smile 

Our brains are so dumb that if you smile it will ease suffering. If you can find joy or fun in what you are trying to accomplish it will make it easier.  Happiness is contagious, be a source of fun and joy to those around you.  I carry a picture of my family to remember why I am doing this and what is most important.

That’s it. These 7 tricks help me get through my events. Just enjoy it because it’s over before you know it. If you have any mental tricks I would love to hear them in the comments below!

-Patrick Durante

Philadelphia Trail Marathon Race Report

  • What went right?
    • I didn’t go with a vest as this was a “shorter” race for me.  I kept my kit light with only 1 waist bottle holder.
    • My pace was very dialed in.  For this distance and vert, I know I can handle 8:30 – 9:00 pace depending on the weather.  I had just done a race that went well last year with this exact same setup and kit so I know it was tested. 
    • I know every section of the course.  I have run every trail and every turn of this course multiple times.  Nothing beats having the home-court advantage.  This doesn’t normally happen for my races as I like to do different races every year.  I got the best sleep ever because I felt like it was just going to be a training run.  Maybe it’s worth it to visit a course beforehand to get that peace of mind?
    • Made sure to power hike almost every climb in the beginning to save my energy.  I saved it for where it counts, on the downhills and flat sections.  (really not many of those)
PHOTO CREDIT:  Doug Rafalski
This is my light weight 50K kit.
  • What went wrong?
    • I pushed the limits of dehydration.  I really should have made sure to drink on a schedule versus just doing it at the aid stations.  I wasn’t taking enough liquids and it was warming up at 11 AM.
    • Too fast of a start.  This wasn’t my choice, the trail narrowed so you had to jump out ahead to avoid the traffic jam.  The first mile clocked in at 6 minutes and I immediately pulled back.  I made sure to run my own race and that is critical in every ultra.
  • What would I do differently?
    • I got lazy with my eating and drinking and it happens almost every race unless I set a timer to go off on my watch every 30 minutes.  I just got to remember to do that BEFORE the race start.  That’s the biggest thing that can cause issues later in a race because once you are behind with nutrition, its a losing battle.  
    • I’m going to practice the crap out of this course.  If this race happens again next year I now have the GPX and course mapped out.  I’m gonna run this course once a week.  They had no GPX file before the race.
    • Light vs heavy shoe.  I swapped to a light vs heavy shoe and it was the right call.  This course drains well from heavy rain and wasn’t muddy.   I didn’t need crazy tread shoes.

Final Thoughts

Me as a kid at the Wiss wearing a bart simpson T-shirt.  This section was on the course.

The Wissahickon has been a place that I’ve been going to since I was young. The fact they put together a marathon here was incredible and it was a perfect course.  I was so grateful to be out there and racing.  This is my home turf and basically where I grew up.  This is by far the best event Uber Endurance put together.  I can see myself coming back every year to run this course.  It meant so much to me over the years and this was a near-perfect way to experience it. This park has helped me grow into the person I am today.  How can a park help you grow?  It can challenge you and introduce you to new people.  It can be a place for your kids to play and explore.  

The Japanese practice “Forest Bathing”, or shinrin-yoku as they call it. Spending time in nature is good for both physical and mental well-being. It is proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness and free up creativity, as well as lower heart rate and blood pressure, boost the immune system and accelerate recovery from illness. As somebody who grew up in the city coming out to the Wissahickon as a kid always felt better. I never knew why, but after reading about shinrin-yoku I understand.

So if you had to choose between the Philly Marathon or the Philly “TRAIL” Marathon, that’s a pretty easy choice! 😉