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Tag: Ultra running

Eastern States 100 – The Hardest 100 Miler on the East Coast

What went right

I kept the clothing light because I had been reading about the effects of overdressing can hold too much heat in.  I wore a new singlet that really worked well and didn’t cause any chafing.  I changed tops later at night because the temps dropped.  I  switch my pack at mile 83 to my waist belt. The only issue with this was I forgot some key items in a transfer like butt wipes and battery chargers for devices.  I think I made the right decision, I wanted to travel light and with no vest for the last section.  I saw that I was using aid stations effectively so I didn’t need all the extra stuff.  

It’s OK to not have a pacer.  I had made different attempts to get a pacer, but in the end, it just didn’t work out.  I didn’t need a pacer, I made friends and I talked to the right people exactly like I have done in the past.  Sometimes you hear the voice of someone or have a few words with them and you know they are the type of person to spend a few miles with.  I knew I could count on myself to make friends. It happened organically and was great!  Mixing in with just the right people at the right time.

I used my water on my back vs bottles in my vest. I could get lots of ice, have icy water, and hold way more than I needed. This will be the go-to setup for all races over 50K with aid stations over 8 miles apart. Distance between aid stations is critical for which setup to use. I also used pantyhose cut in half and filled with ice stretched over the neck.  It worked really well at keeping me cool, but it wasn’t a really hot day.  Then just dump the pack after the last drop bag and run it in!

2Toms foot powder for anti-blister seems to work well.  I still had major issues with my feet swelling and soreness on the sole.  Maybe thicker shoes? It was so much downhill I’m not sure it would matter.  It was faster to pre-load socks with this stuff than trying to lube feet.  Just throw a new pair of socks on and go.  

PRELOAD YOUR WATCH COURSE WITH WAYPOINTS!  I can’t stress this enough.  Using the course feature on my watch saved myself and others around me.  We knew instantly if we were going off course and how much was left to the next aid station.  Yes, we did go off course once or twice but were quickly back on course with this feature.  Note: disable Bluetooth, Inreach, and heart rate for my watch to make it over 30+ hours.  Need to be mindful of that in a race of this length.  Watch died at 100 miles, and this race was 103 in length.

I packed aid station bags at the beginning of the week.  It took off so much pre-race anxiety before I left.  I will always make sure to pack my bags WAAAAY before.  I used super large zip lock bags as always and they were perfect.  

Poles are now my new best friend for super technical climbs and descents. At first in the race, I was getting annoyed with them. After 30-40+ miles I got used to them and actually LOVED them. They really saved my race/life on some really technical stuff. I can’t count how many times I tripped and the poles caught me as they hit the ground first. I did remove the wrist straps and I had heard horror stories of people getting hurt if they fell with their arms in the straps. Warning: Do not leave it until race day to practice with them, they will do more harm than good. I actually broke a cheap pair in testing and got a better pair before race day because I tested them.

What went wrong

I had some type of butt rash I had to use vaseline on, not sure why, but I had it in my pack because this has happened before.  Tailwind gives me so much gas, hence the name, and I had to use vaseline.  

Incredible quad pain from the downhills to the point I could barely walk in the race. Not sure what you could do to eliminate that except TONs of downhill in training. That amount of force on the downhills was HORRIBLE. Like I didn’t want to take a step, and I noticed if I laid down and put my feel up it went away. Blood was pooling and I had some massive foot swelling. Changing shoes at aid stations worked really well.  When we laid down for 12 minutes I was super refreshed.  I was actually able to run again.  

I killed my small camera by getting too much water in it.  I record my runs and then do a video montage for those that want to relive the race.  My small camera died and I couldn’t recharge it.  I now know to put it in a zip lock bag.  It wasn’t until after the race and it dried out did it come back to life. 

What I would do differently

Stop being so scared going into these things.  If anybody was willing to talk about it I would cry about how crazy the course was.  Next time STFU and stop scaring yourself.  I know enough now about how to handle these types of races.  Yes, this was the granddad of them all, but it’s still just goddamn running not brain surgery. The only thing at stake if you fail is YOUR pride. I kept telling myself my new mantra, “I don’t mind what happens”, AND I actually believe it.

InReach died because Bluetooth and ant+ were enabled, they should be turned off for that long of a tracking event. Who cares if I can send it from my watch if the device is dead??? Just set it in track mode and pull it out at aid stations to send additional messages.  My dad thought I actually dropped from the race because he didn’t see any additional points when the device died.  

That’s it.  That was everything I learned from this race, besides that it went very well.  I felt great, didn’t get hurt, had fun, and made a really cool video people seemed to enjoy.  Check it out below.  

My video montage of ES100

First State Trail Race – 2022

What went wrong

I made the fatal mistake of running someone else’s race. I was running too much with a 25K person vs a 50K pace in the heat. I was just having too much fun and not really thinking. I should have known better, I have had races in the heat before and knew this could happen. Basically, I didn’t save anything for the 2nd loop, where the true race began. I had put too much stress on the body early and created a debt I was unable to repay. I should have slowed down, but my ego got the best of me. I was under the false assumption it was going to stay cooler because there was good cloud coverage. On the 2nd loop, as expected, the heat/humidity shot up and I started to slow down drastically.

What went right

The first loop was good, I was running with TJ and it was nice to talk with him. The only issue was he wasn’t doing the 50K, he was doing the 25K. He was in 6th place for the 25K when he crossed the line and I was right behind him. Why in gods name did I think that was a good idea is beyond me… I wore compression sleeves and filled them with ice, I had an ice bag on my chest, and I took salt tablets. Once I started getting dizzy I knew I was in serious trouble, it was at this point that I tried to find shade and lay down. There was a nice person who ran a bag of ice back to me, I should find out who that was and thank him. He didn’t have to do that and sacrificed a huge amount of time from his race because of my stupidity. All I could do at that point was wait it out until I could get back on my feet. I tried to get up but my leg kept cramping. As I started to walk back near the stone wall I threw up all the water in my stomach. Once that happened I actually started to feel much better. I have to use the aid stations more effectively if it’s this hot. Stop, don’t rush, take your time and relax. It would have maybe saved my race and given my body time to absorb the water. I should have known I also missed the sign that I wasn’t peeing. That can be an indication your body is not processing the water.

What would I have done differently

Tips for my next hot race:

  • You should be peeing! If not drink more water!
  • No records broken that day.
  • Painfully slow start.
  • Don’t be stupid, you can’t bank time!
  • Heart rate is a window into how your body is managing the heat.


I went to this race with zero planning and it showed. The only item missing from my heat strategy was SLOWING DOWN. Thinking I could beat the heat was such a stupid idea that backfired. I am glad it did. I am two weeks away from my first 100 of the season and I would rather learn the lesson here than there. That’s the power of the weather and I never respected it. If you disrespect the heat, the rain, the cold, it will END you.

The longer the race the more you have to create a plan and stick to it. You can’t just POWER through longer races. The mistakes of the beginning catch up with you. If there is heat in the forecast, then you need to go out PAINFULLY SLOW. Meaning so slow you almost can’t stand it. Put yourself at the back of the pack and just wait.

On the plus side, I did get some good footage to remember this failure. Enjoy!

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!