Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Reality Sets In

The Tahoe Super Triple…..  124.6 miles run over three consecutive days (26.2+26.2+72.2) is next weekend.  Yes, I am nervous…. there is no other way to put it.  I keep getting asked “are you ready” and I honestly do not know how to answer that.  I have never done this before and I have no idea as to whether I have prepared properly or not.  Over the last few months I have read everything I could and have asked a lot of questions in hopes of readying myself both mentally and physically.
The training has gone pretty good.  Though the Pikes Peak Marathon did not go great, the preparation for it helped tremendously in building my fitness and endurance.  I left Colorado bloodied and bruised, but luckily I had no major injuries or issues that impacted my training.  I was surprised at how quickly the soreness and the various aches and pains dissipated.  What didn’t go away for about 10 days was how physically drained I felt!  I eased back into training during the week immediately following the marathon with a lot of walking and one 30 minute run.  The next weekend I did a low mileage run with our TNT team on Saturday and then a 16 mile run on Sunday with Carol, Karen, and Bruce in preparation for the Nike and Chicago marathons.  When I got back from that run I showered, ate, lounged, and slept the rest of the day away.  It was just what the doctor ordered! 
During the week of August 30th I still felt sluggish but did two 8 miles runs to start preparing for the next training challenge…. 3 long runs over the upcoming Labor Day weekend.   The three Labor Day weekend runs were designed to mimic the challenges of the Tahoe Super Triple.  My goal was to stress my body with minimal sleep and progressively longer runs each day of the weekend.  On Saturday, I got up and was on the road shortly after 5 AM.  I ran from our house in Grayson out to Suwannee areas where we train with TNT.  I did not make it to where we meet for our group training session so Marie picked me up and took me to the park where we meet.  I had run almost 16 miles at that point and then ran another 5+ miles with our TNT team for a total of 21 miles on Saturday.  That night we went to a TNT fundraiser in Buckhead and did not get home until late. 
The next morning I got up at 5 AM and was on the road running at around 6 AM.  On Sunday I ran on the roads around Grayson and eventually worked my way to Tribble Mill Park where I was going to meet the Sweet Rie for a long hike.  I covered about 21 miles in 3:30 minutes running from our house to the park.  Marie and I then hiked the trails around Tribble Mill Park for 2 hours and added another 6 miles for a Sunday total of 27 miles.  On Monday I got up at 3:45 AM, got my stuff together and then drove over to the Suwannee Creek Greenway area where I was going to meet Beth at 7 AM to run 20 miles.  I got there early to knock out as many miles as I could before she arrived at 7 AM and ended up running just over 9 miles before she got there.  We did various loops through the neighborhoods and parks in the area for 21 hilly miles.  I ended up with 30 miles for day that I covered in just over 5 hours of running time.
The good news about the three long runs is that I felt good each day.  The 2nd day started slow but I felt better as the morning went along.  I experimented with different foods and fluids to evaluate various fueling options that might help for the 72 mile leg of the Super Triple.  In addition to gels and PowerAde, I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, drank meal replacement drinks such as Ensure, and tried electrolyte replacement tablets.  Based on how I felt I think I have a good feel for what drinks and foods may help over race weekend.  
Since Labor Day weekend I have been slowly tapering down.  I have continued to run 4 to 5 days a week.  Last Sunday I ran 18 miles with Carol and Karen and plan to do the same tomorrow.  Starting Monday it is a serious taper until Friday.  I plan to run Tuesday and Wednesday of this week for about 30 minutes each day….. just enough mileage to keep these old legs and body loose and ready for Friday. 
I am working hard to get ahead of work commitments and to start getting everything together for the trip.  With less than a week to go I am feeling very antsy and nervous.  I keep running through the list of things I need to do, or buy, or set aside.  I keep going through the various scenarios I may face during the race and what I plan to do to deal with it.  As you can see, I may be OK from the training side of things but mentally, I am a wreck!  As a coach with TNT I preach about doing all you can do to control the variables you can and be ready to adapt to those you can’t.  Not having done something like this I do not know what all of those variables may be….. The weather; running at night on a four lane highway with minimal shoulders; traffic and careless drivers; being sleep deprived; having tired, aching and swollen feet; the mental and physical ups and downs I will go through; the fueling and hydrating challenges in the later miles of the race; not to mention any of the general issues we are always at risk of getting such as muscle strains, blisters, and the most painful of all--- chafing in areas that should never get chafed. 
Yeah…. I am nervous and chatty.  Race weekend cannot come fast enough…. Especially for the Sweet Rie who is getting tired of hearing me obsess about the planning aspects of the trip and run and of all of the items I am buying…. New tights, reflective lights, blinking lights, and new shoes (oops she does not know about those yet….).
Have I mentioned that I am nervous?  Oh, yeah…. Maybe a few times…. To help keep my sanity I will update by blog throughout the week to help control some of my nervous energy.  I will discuss some of the planning I have been doing, sharing information about the course, and our trip.  And of course, Marie and I will provide updates throughout the Super Triple.
I’m nervous (sorry…) but excited about what the next week will bring.  This trip represents months of planning and preparing and though I am looking forward to the mental and physical challenge of the Tahoe Super Triple, the main reason I am doing this is to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I am doing this by asking you, the readers of this blog and the friends and family on Facebook to make a pledge of 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, or one dollar for each mile I will run next weekend.   A pledge of any amount will help in the fight to end blood cancer.  If you are interested in helping by making a pledge, please see the link below to my Leukemia and Lymphoma TNT website to learn how you can help.

Thank-you for your support!!  

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Pikes Peak adventure or what goes up must come down

 Wow, what a week.  Between our travel to and from Colorado, running the Pikes Peak marathon last Sunday, the altitude, lack of sleep, a proposal that just wouldn’t end, sightseeing, and watching Marie gamble, I am worn out.

 I also turned 47 this past week which is probably the real reason my behind is dragging.  With my birthday and my battle with Pikes Peak being so close together I could not help reflect on the great life I have been blessed with…. My loving and caring wife… my family and friends… my involvement with TNT and all of the great folks I have had the honor and privilege of meeting and running with. 

 I also learned a few hard earned lessons during the Pikes Peak Marathon…. (1) No matter how many marathons you run or how confident you are about your abilities, you never know when you will be humbled by the marathon…. (2) You really should wear trail shoes when running on trails (yes, there is a reason they make trail shoes--- to run on trails!)… (3) You are never too old to experience one of those surreal moments when time seems to stand still and things happen in slow motion while learning lesson number (4)…. that after 35 years I can still tumble and do summersaults.

 Can a marathon really cause you to reflect on life and provide so many learning opportunities?  I really don’t know.  As with anything, you have good days and bad days…. And every once in awhile experience something unexpected that completely throws you for a loop.  That is the best way to describe my Pikes Peak experience. 

 I went into the Pikes Peak Marathon cautiously nervous.  I knew that if there is a marathon where you can seriously hurt yourself, it is Pike Peak.  Sure there are a lot of things that can happen; however, my primary concern was pulling or straining a muscle either running up or down the mountain.  With the Tahoe Super Triple just over a month away and having the bulk of the trip paid for, I was worried that I might injure myself and not be able to run the event.   The sad thing is I came very close to fulfilling my own prophecy….

 The Pikes Peak Marathon is promoted as America’s Ultimate Challenge and from my marathoning experience to date I think that is a true statement.  Though it is challenging, it is very much a doable marathon for masochist.  What is amazing is that this marathon and its sister event the Pikes Peak Ascent (a half marathon that is run up Pikes Peak the Saturday before the marathon) sell out in a matter of hours once the registration opens.  I was fortunate (I think) to get one of the coveted spots.

 Sunday morning started out beautiful.  It was a perfect Colorado morning with cool crisp temperatures and a beautiful blue and cloudless sky.  The marathon started at 7 AM in Manitou Springs and quickly worked its way to Barr Trail and on up to the summit of Pikes Peak.  The journey to the summit is 13.32 miles with an elevation gain of 7,750 feet.  The average grade for the ascent portion of the marathon is 11% though it does vary and has some nearly flat and downhill portions.  About 12 miles of the course is run on trail that varies considerably; gravel, sand, small rocks, and big rocks and boulders.  There are also a lot of root riddled sections, water run-off barriers, and loose rocks that you need to pay attention to. 
The first 1.3 miles is on pavement which turns into a gravel road and eventually a trail with 13 long switchbacks.  Going up this part was not too bad.  The trail is narrow without a lot of opportunities to pass so you are pretty much in single file hiking or running as fast as the line or trail will let you.  After these switchbacks you hit upon another set of switchbacks and some fairly steep climbs.  Miles 6 to 8 were on a great cushioned trail that included some down hills and nearly flat sections.  Miles 8 to 10 got crowded again as it was run on narrow, rocky trails with a lot of rocky obstacles.  It was on this portion where I took my first fall.  I tripped on a rock and went down.  Fortunately I caught myself before the whole body hit the ground.  Unfortunately, I sprained my right wrist.  Miles 10 to 12.5+ was grueling.  Most of it is above tree line.  We were on a series of long switchbacks working our way up the face of the mountain to the peak.  As far as you could see up or down on the trails were other runners, all sucking in as much oxygen as we could to fuel our poor suffering muscles.  The distance between you and some of the runners ahead of you can be very misleading due to the switchbacks.  Even though they were only 20 or 30 feet up the mountain, they may have been a third of a mile or more ahead of you due to the switchbacks.   This section was also treacherous as it had multiple, large obstacles (mountain outcrops or large boulders) that you had to traverse.  You could not get a rhythm going and literally had to crawl over some of the obstacles.  It was on this portion of the course when we encountered the race leaders.  They were amazing….. They were running full speed on a very challenging trail full of other runners.  I still do not know how they did it. 

 The last section of the trail you encounter prior to reaching the summit is called the 16 Golden Stairs.  First, they are not stairs and second, they are not golden.  They are 16 switchback pairs (32 switch backs) that consist of large boulders stacked or placed to basically form a series of 32 ramps to get you to the summit.  You have to climb over and around large boulders and rocks all along this section.  There is no natural climbing or stair stepping type motion here.  You have to pull yourself up and over the majority of the mountain or rocks located in this section.   It took me 4 hours and 14 minutes to reach the summit.  It took well over an hour to climb the last 3 miles.  Once at the top I was hoping to take a small break and take a few pictures before starting back down.  Oh no… that is not allowed… they turn you around and you immediately start back down.  My legs where spaghetti… they were not cooperating at all.  I had to lift them over the rocks and when I planted my feet after going over an obstacle they felt wobbly.  That issue combined with the fear factor of having to get back down and over all of those rocks had me going at a very slow pace.  Somewhere near the bottom of the 16 Golden Stairs I had my second accident.  Runners are still coming up the mountain as you are going down.  The rules of the mountain are that you let the runners going down pass.  As I was coming over a rock on my way down a lady was coming up and over a rock toward me.  As she landed she lost her balance and pushed me and my left knee into a rock.  It hurt!  I felt nauseous and my knee radiated with pain.  I kept moving and it loosened up and I really did not have any issues with the knee after that.

 The descent continued slowly.  I eventually made it to the tree line and started down the steep switch backs.  The trail was a little better than the previous section so I started to pick up the running pace some.  It was during this portion when I realized I should be wearing trail shoes.  I could not get a grip on anything.  Anytime I had to plant my feet or make a quick move I slipped.  Just past the 16 mile mark, I was running down a switchback nearing the end when I slipped again.  Unfortunately this time I could not keep my balance.  I slid and went over a 6 to 8 foot slope down to the next switchback.  This was when I learned I could still tumble.  I really do remember being surprised that I did a summersault down the slope….especially considering that it was covered with trees, brush and rocks.  During this fall, I sprained my other wrist and scraped the bottom of both of my hands; I strained my left ankle; I think I broke my middle finger of my left hand; I have deep scratches and cuts along the right side of my back down to the back of my right calf; and I hit my head (OK face on a rock).  The good news is at the time I did not know I did all of that.  I got up…. I knew I had hit my head and knew I had some cuts around my right eye and knew I was bleeding.  I also knew I had a few deep cuts on my hands and knuckles.  But, I actually felt OK.  I couple of other runners came up shortly after I fell and did a check of the cuts on my face.  At that point I was not wondering if I was hurt, I was wondering if they noticed that by falling down from one switchback to another I had cut the course. 

 The runners assessed my face and indicated that the injury did not look bad… so I started running again.  Needless to say I was moving even slower now due to the fear of slipping and falling again.  I got stopped at every aide station on the way down and had to answer a bunch of questions about what happened and how I was feeling before being allowed to proceed.  I eventually got back to the 18 to 20 mile point on the course where the terrain became much more runnable for me.  I picked up the pace again and passed a lot of the people who had passed me on the switchbacks.  I eventually made it back to the last set of switchbacks heading back to Manitou Springs.  It slowed down and was extra careful along this portion of the course.  I made it back to the gravel road and then the paved road and then cruised to finish line.  I felt very strong along the last mile and passed several other folks on the way to the finish line.  I crossed the finish line in just over 8 hours. 

 This marathon took over twice the time it usually takes me to run the marathon distance.  It was a very humbling experience.  I went into the race believing I could finish in around 6 hours.  I did not even come close.  I ended up finishing the race with mixed emotions.  I was extremely happy to finish and was proud of the accomplishment while at the same time being disappointed in my performance.  I knew I could do better but I let the fear factor get in the way which impacted my performance.  Worrying, not trying or not giving your all will result in a lackluster performance every time…… 

 Looking back I realized I was ill prepared for THIS marathon.  I never felt I had any issues due to the altitude.  My problem was not being prepared for the amount of climbing (up and over all of the rocks along the trail) I had to do.  Combine that with running 13 miles up and down a steep mountain and your legs just do not want to cooperate.  I told Marie today that I will do this marathon again at some point in the future and will prepare for it properly.

Enough of the complaining and moaning and groaning and making of excuses…  Now it is time to focus on my recovery and get back to my training for the Tahoe Super Triple.  I do not think I have any major injuries that are going to keep me from getting back into the training routine for Tahoe.  I have one set of major workouts scheduled for the Labor Day weekend and that is it.  I hope it will be enough.  Who knows….   Oh, there was one other thing I did learn from running Pikes Peak.  If you have the motivation and desire to accomplish something you can.  Not at any point during the race did I consider dropping out.  Knowing that I had the mental fortitude to get through the marathon will help on day three of the Tahoe Triple when I will attempt to run 72 miles. 

 Quitting was not on the agenda this past Sunday nor will it be at the Lake Tahoe Super Triple. The quitting theme is a nice segue to why I am doing what I am doing.  I am trying to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, an organization that does not know the meaning of quitting…. an organization that directly supports tens-of-thousands of individuals who are in the fight for their lives… individuals that will endure treatments we cannot imagine…. individuals who are not giving up in the fight of their life.  As long as there are individuals who are fighting for their lives and need our help, none of us can quit.  Please help me with my mission. 

 Over the last few years I have reached out to family and friends and have asked for donations to support LLS.  This year I want to earn your donation by putting in the time, mileage, and effort to successfully complete the Tahoe Super Triple.  This effort is the one symbolic gesture I can do to honor those enduring their fight against blood cancer.  After reading about my Pikes Peak adventure and as I continue my preparation for the Tahoe Triple, and if you feel compelled based on my efforts, please make a donation or a pledge to help me reach my goal of raising $6,000 for LLS.  The link to my fundraising website is located at the top right hand corner of the page.

Thank-you for your help!   

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What was I thinking!

  At least, I think that's what Ed is thinking right about now. This is your trusty guest blogger getting a chance to put her two cents in. 
  I have never seen Ed so nervous before a race. I know when he signed up for this he thought he knew what he was getting in to but I don't think the full extent of what he was taking on hit him until he looked out our hotel window and saw this.
  Yes folks, that is Pikes Peak and tomorrow morning my darling husband will be running up, then back down, this beautiful peak.
  I must admit that I have not helped his feeling of self confidence although my shaking of his nerves was unintentional. I was simply trying to find out if I would be able to meet him at the top before he went back down. The woman I was talking to asked how long it usually took him to run a marathon as the drive down would take a very long time. I answered that he generally finished in the 3:30 range. Oh, she said, then he will finish in 6 or 7 hours, I think you better just wait for him at the finish.
  In hindsight I realize that this was a conversation I should have kept to myself as I don't believe that he had any concept that it would take so long. On top of that, there were pictures all around that showed just how rough the terrain actually is. Let's just say that he got even more quite than usual after that.
  The good news is that we spent a wonderful afternoon and evening with dear friends that we have not seen in years and laughter, it appears, really is the best medicine, even for a bad case of nerves. Right now he is well carbo loaded and trying to get a good nights sleep.
  Now begins my time to worry. I know he can do anything he sets his mind to. I will pray for good weather, a great race and a happy (but exhausted) husband. Hopefully you will see a blog from him tomorrow telling you just how spectacular it was.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Dog Days of Summer

How the training is going…..

For the last four Sundays I have been steadily building my long run miles…. 14, 16, 18, and then 20 miles.  After each run, Marie and I hiked through a local park further adding hills, miles and time on my feet.  Some have gone good and some have gone bad.  Last night when I was preparing for today’s run I was really looking forward to it.  I was in the zone and I was ready.  Yesterday we had a great first GTS with our new TNT Gwinnett Winter Team.  We had a great showing and learned about several of participants current and past battles against cancer.  It was very inspirational.  What should have been a great run today (based on how I felt yesterday) turned into a slog fest almost from the first step.   Was it a lack of sleep from a long work week catching up with me or a result of getting up at around 4 AM the last few days?  Was it the heat and humidity?  Did I do a poor job fueling and hydrating??  I really do not know what the issue was.  I followed the same basic routine I normally do.  All I know is that I struggled the entire way despite having almost half of the run finished by the time the sun came up.  My right leg felt tight the entire run affecting my form and eventually causing pain in my shoulder and neck.  I did start to feel better at around the 18 mile mark but by then the damage was done.  I had slowed tremendously, I was baked, and I was sweating like pig.  Today was one of those days where I had the mental focus to get through the run but struggled physically.   I was absolutely thrilled when I finished the run portion and met the Sweet Rie for our hike.

Being the Sweet Rie, she brought me a coffee smoothie laced with bananas, milk, and a meal replacement drink.  It was really good and did help me feel better.   I changed shoes and we started the hike.  We have been hiking at Tribble Mill Park which has a great trail system running throughout park.  The trails undulate pretty good proving a nice challenge and a good workout.   While I was experiencing a terrible day of exercise, Marie was having a great day.  She led the entire way only to look back once in a while to scoff at me and throw insults in my direction…. Trail looser….  Ultra wimp, etc.  I deserved it.  OK… she did not really say that but I saw it in her eyes….  She literally hiked me into the ground.  

It was not a pretty day but I did get the last long run I had scheduled prior to the Pikes Peak Marathon finished.  Thank goodness.  Overall the training has gone pretty good and I feel fortunate I did not have too many bad days to deal with since I started the major mileage build-up.  

Over the last three weeks I have run and hiked 18 times totaling 169 miles with the highest mileage week being 60 miles.  All but two of the runs have been outside during a period of high heat and humidity…. Hopefully that is helping my overall conditioning.  I have run with my Team-in-Training (TNT) teammates several times including the first group training session (GTS) with the Gwinnett Winter Team.  The most interesting run occurred three Sundays ago when I started a run from our house with the intent of running to Tribble Mill Park where I would meet the Sweet Rie for a hike.  I had run to the park before but it has been several years.  To make a long story short, I was off on the route to the park and finally gave up at the 16 mile mark and called Rie to come and get me.  Luckily I was paying attention to the road names and I was able to direct her to where I was.  I was not even close to the park.  I think if I would have continued down the road I was on I would have eventually gotten to Athens, GA….

In running like life, we have good days and bad days.  Some days are ego boosting and others are ego busting.  The one thing I have learned over 25 years of running and 135 marathons is that you never know how the run, the day, or fate will play out.  We plan and train to control the variables we can and minimize those we cannot with the hope that fate will play in our favor when it counts.  If only fighting or finding a cure for blood cancer was that easy…. Unfortunately it is not.  That is why I am running and fundraising to help find a cure.  Please consider helping in the fight to end blood cancer by making a donation or a pledge at my website (see the link at the top right hand corner of this page) to help or to learn more about the Lake Tahoe Super Triple fundraising effort.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tupelo, MS the New Hot Spot of the South??

The Plan….

I have to admit, the thought of running 124.6 miles is daunting. It has been long time since I was worried about finishing an event. The last time was at the Disney World Marathon in the late 1990’s when I stupidly ran it with a sprained ankle. The run went fine but the doubt kept me awake all night.

The challenge for the Tahoe Super Triple is training to run 26.2 miles three days in a row while training to run a 72 mile ultra-marathon. Each event is unique and requires it s own approach to training. Previously, when I ran the Tahoe Triple, I did multiple back to back long runs of 18 to 20 miles and one weekend where I did three long runs in three consecutive days. Luckily, this usually fell on Labor Day weekend which is also when a low key marathon is held in Tupelo, Mississippi.  Last year I did an 18 mile long run with our TNT team on Saturday, drove to Tupelo and ran the marathon on Sunday, drove back home that day and then ran a 20 mile run with my friend Beth on Monday. The Tupelo Marathon was a nice diversion and provided a great opportunity to get a fully supported long run in. I planned to run the Tupelo Marathon this year, but can you believe this…. It sold out! IT SOLD OUT! We are talking about a marathon in Tupelo, MS in September.  Can we say HOT, HOT, HOT!?! The race starts at 5 AM…. In pitch black… it runs through the rural Tupelo country side… not that you would know it since it is dark (luckily it is an out and back course so if you did not see it the first time, you get to run by it a second time)… the summer heat and humidity are oppressive (hence the 5 AM start)…. With the temperatures easily rising well into the eighties by the time the bulk of the participants are finishing. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a great race…. It is actually one of my favorites. It is well organized, it has a great post race party with pizza, and most importantly it has a skull and crossbones t-shirt and medal. Well…. Now that I think about it I guess I can see why it sold out. Another hard lesson learned by a habitual procrastinator…. Register early.

OK, back to the plan…..

I think I have developed a reasonable plan that integrates traditional marathon training with a steady build up of mileage, distance, and time on my feet. I have two major focal points for this training. The first is the Pikes Peak Marathon on Sunday, August 22nd. The second is the Labor Day weekend runs. The Pikes Peak Marathon offers its own set of challenges. It starts in Manitou Springs at an elevation of 6,300 feet. It then proceeds to run 13.1 miles to the top of Pikes Peak, an elevation gain of 7,815 feet. You top out at an elevation of 14,050 feet where you turn around and run back down. The bulk of the marathon is run on Barr Trail which has a variety of surfaces, technical challenges, and steep grades. To prepare for Pikes Peak I have been following my usual marathon training schedule with a few modifications. During the long runs I am running some of the miles on hilly roads and trails or I run the scheduled mileage for the week and then hike for several hours with the Sweet Rie. This approach is helping me prepare my body for the challenges of running up and down a mountain, running on trails, and for spending more time on my feet which will help at Pikes Peak and at the ultra.

The Labor Day Weekend runs will be similar to what I discussed previously, except the runs will be longer. I will run 22 to 24 miles on two of the three days with the 3rd day topping out at around 30 miles. The miles will be a mixture of running and hiking with a goal of spending 5 to 8 hours on my feet each of the three days. The remainder of the weekends will consist of back to back long runs with a 2 to 3 hour hike following the run. During the week I will run 9 or 10 mile tempo runs on Tuesday and Thursdays and will run with our TNT team on Wednesdays. Monday and Fridays will be very easy runs or rest days.

The Tahoe Super Triple represents a significant and personal challenge for me; however, in the end I am doing this to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society with my goal being to earn your donation or pledge. If I have, please make a donation or a pledge to help me reach my goal of raising $6,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Will I hold up through the training?? Will it help me accomplish my goal of running 124.6 miles at the Tahoe Super Triple?? Will I make my fundraising goal of $6,000?? To find out, please continue to follow my blog. Next up…. How the training is going.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

And So It Begins.......

Ultra Ed?? OK… I will be the first to admit that may be a stretch. Ultra signifies something to the extreme…. I my case it has to do with running. From the running perspective ultra running represents any running event longer than a marathon (26.2 miles). I have never officially run an ultra running event. I have run way more than 26.2 miles during a marathon but they were not ultra marathons, it was a marathon where I ran more than 26.2 miles for one reason or another. And yes, it was on purpose. So why is my blog called Ultra Ed? Well, that is due to my Blog helper extraordinaire, Karen. She felt that was a good name for a blog and what I am trying to chronicle, so that’s the name we chose. Besides, Karen is in public relations and if she thinks that is a good name who am I to argue…..

So why did I establish a blog in the first place??? Well…. The main reason is to get attention. No, it is not because I am an ego freak and want to see things about me in writing and posted for the public to see. The main reason I have set up this blog is to chronicle my efforts to train for and run the Lake Tahoe Super Triple while raising money to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and their Team-in-Training program. To digress a little, the Lake Tahoe Super Triple is an event where I will run two marathons (2 - 26.2 runs) and one 72 mile run over the course of three days.

The connection to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was a result of my sister in law, Julie Ashley-Cole passing away from Leukemia in October 2006. Since then my wife Marie and I have been involved with Team-in-Training. Team-in-Training (TNT) is the largest endurance sports training organization in the world. TNT participants, in exchange for receiving professional coaching and support, raise funds to help support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in their efforts to end blood cancers. Over the course of 22 years, over 420,000 participants have raised over $1 billion dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Amazing advances in blood cancer research and treatment have been made but there is still a long way to go.

That is where this blog comes in. Over the last few years I have reached out to family and friends and have asked for donations to support LLS. This year I want to earn your donation by putting in the time, mileage, and effort to successfully complete the Tahoe Super Triple. This effort is the one symbolic gesture I can do to honor those enduring their fight against blood cancer. Over the next few months, I want you to follow my training as I prepare for the Tahoe Super Triple, and if you feel compelled based on my efforts, make a donation or a pledge to help me reach my goal of raising $6,000 for LLS. And if the sweat, pain, chafing, and blisters I am going to endure are not reason enough, I will shave my head if I successfully reach my fundraising goal.