Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 has come and gone, and to say it has been memorable would be quite an understatement. There have been great times and some not so great times but I have learned so many valuable lessons this year. There are no guarantees in life and I continue to strive to be the best person I can be. I have met so many amazing people this year and I am lucky to have so many winners in my life. For that I am grateful. Here is a quick re-cap of this year.

For me 2010 really started late in 2009. I had just finished my first 50 mile race(North Face Endurance Challenge) and was really looking forward to seeing how far I could go. Running for Owen Simmons had inspired me and had made the training and racing easy. Sadly, Owen earned his angel wings and i wanted to do something more to honor this young man. On a whim entered the lottery for the Western States 100, figuring there was no way in hell I would get into this prestigious race. I had heard of the race before but I never envisioned being able to run that far or for that long. Well lo and behold I was selected on my first try getting into WS. For my first 100 miler I would be running the WS on my first try. Not bad. I was elated but a bit nervous. Sorta like what the hell did I do this for.

My good mood quickly turned somber when the very next day my beloved Beau dog collapsed and died in my arms. He was the best dog a man could have, the sweetest boy. I was devastated. Life on life's terms I guess. My great friends Claudia, Gillian and Manny helped me through this tough time and for that I am eternally grateful for their help.

I knew I would be running in Owens honor but I also wanted to raise money and awareness for SMA. I talked with Heather(Owen's mom) and asked her which SMA charity we should run for. Heather gave me a few suggestions and said they were all worthy but said the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation is really a special organization. Heather told me how Bill and Victoria Strong helped her out during her trying times and that they work tirelessly to raise money and awareness for this dreaded disease. Bill and Victoria's beautiful daughter(Gwendolyn) has SMA. Boy was I glad that I listened to Heather. GSF is a wonderful organization and they are such powerful, positive people. It is an honor to know Bill, Victoria, and Gwendolyn. They are a shining light and a tremendous power of example.

Training started in earnest in January and I was in unknown territory. I embraced it though and looked forward to the challenge. Training in the cold and wind of a New England winter is no picnic but I just trudged through it. Thankfully I didn't experience any injuries and I took really good care of myself. I listened to my body when it told me to rest and I pushed it when I was feeling really good. For me the key is staying off the roads. Of all the miles I logged this year the only nagging injury I suffered was nagging hamstring tightness. When I run on the trails, I am in heaven. The roads not so much. They are a necessary evil for me though. Southern Mass is not exactly a trail running mecca

As the weather turned warmer, training really intensified. Like I said I am fortunate that I didn't experience any big problems running. I ran the New Bedford Half Marathon and had a great time. Everything was on track. I was then fortunate to have met a wonderful woman, Magda, who became my girlfriend. She is just as crazy as I am. We hit it off immediately. She even got my clumsy butt into Bikram Yoga. I am so fortunate to have Magda in my life.

Training in April was a lot of fun as the weather got warmer. I introduced Magda to trail running and she fell in love with it immediately. She even fell down and ripped her pants open on her first run. Quite the romantic run. I was also able to run the Boston Marathon 2010. This was the second time I ran Boston and I had a lot of fun. It was a perfect day. The weather was perfect, the crowds were great and there was a lot of excitement. And remember how I said Magda is crazy. Well she works for Puma and thought it would be a great idea to run a marathon. Not on the road, but inside of the Newbury St Puma store, on a TREADMILL. Thats right, 26.2 miles on a treadmill. Good grief! She made it with no problems and looked beautiful doing it!

Our next endeavor was the Mcnaughton Ultra Marathon in Pittsfield Vermont. This madness had it all, great people, mud, rain, snow, rainbows. You name it, MCnasty had it. The course was a a ten mile loop course throughout the mountains of Vermont. Myself and Magda were only running the thirty mile "fun run" while others had the option of 50, 100, 150, 200 mile option. Thats right, 200 hundred miles. Two hardy souls(Ryan Dexter and Mike Siltman) were able to finish 200 miles. As we started our race, it started to rain, and then pour, and then rain so more. The course quickly turned into a quagmire but we trudged through with no real problems. I was fortunate to meet some great people(Andy Weinberg) and had a fun time in the mud. It was a great mental test and I know it would help for my first 100 mile test..

The training continued throughout the spring with no real hitches. i was doing mileage I never thought I would do and it was a real trial and error situation. Some weeks I felt great, others not so much. But I always had my angel with me pushing me not to quit. For one last training run, a group of new friends I had met(Kenny "the Gambler" Rogers, Kevin "the Mullenator" Mullen", Lori Watkins, Bethany Bertrand, Ryan Couto, Jim Frenette, Sheryl Briggs) and Magda and I made our way to Maine for the Pineland Farms 50 Miler. Magda ran and finished her 50k with no problems and I ran the 50 mile option. For the first 50 miles of the race I was definitely not feeling it. My hamstrings were killing me and I was fried from all the miles I had banked for the Western States. But at about mile 25 I was able to regroup and collect my senses. I honestly felt like quitting but again I was able to dig deep and had a running conversation with my running angels. I don't know what it is or what it was but I was reenergized and felt fantastic. I was able to finish in a little over 9 hours and was totally confident in how I was able to dig deep and battle through the low. As an Ultra runner, you must always face a low in a race. Getting through to the other side is the key because often times you come out the other side totally renewed. Although I knew that veteran Ultra runners say that 100 milers are four times harder than fifty milers, I felt confident that I could accomplish my goal.

Before The Western States, we were able to raise significant funds for the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation with a fundraiser at lebeau's Tavern. It was a great time and a lot of fun. Lots of raffles and Dave "Buck Nasty" Conceicao on the mic made for a good night. And now it was taper time till the Western States.

I won't recap the Western States again(already blogged about it) but I will say this. This was truly a life changing experience. I never, ever in my life would have thought I would have been able to do something as incredible as WS100. I am truly blessed and fortunate, as well as grateful for all my running angels who carried me through this endeavor. I never would have finished without em. As a post note, I just got feeling back in my toes from Western States lol!

After coming back from Cali, I took it easy and thoroughly enjoyed my summer. This race definitely took its toll on me and I kept on twisting my ankle. I went through a little depression after the big race but I guess that's to be expected. It can't be all sunshine and rainbows! I shut it down for a little while and tried to rest up.

Our next little adventure took us out to the North Face Endurance Challenge in Wisconsin. This would be Magda's first 50 mile race as well as Patty Carreiro's first 50. Patty is Magda's friend and decided to join us out Midwest. The day of the big race brought a lot of threatening thunderclouds and lightning. As we assembled for the start, it started to thunder and lightning. Potential nastiness soon turned to immediate nastiness.. As soon as the gun went off it started to pour all over us. Not little bitty rain, but big old fat rain. It was tough going but we kept on trudging along. It rained for most of the race and made everything tough. Magda and Patty were terrific, me, not so much. It was a tough day and I had hit my wall. At about mile 30, I had had enough. I def didn't want to be out there any longer but knew I couldn't quit. My hamstrings were on fire and non responsive. I again asked for help from my running angels but I think I went to the well once to often. I was going to have to gut this out on my own. Magda and Patty were cruising along just kicking the course's ass. it took all I could to keep up. For whatever reason at about mile 40 I started to feel a little bit better and knew I could make it. This race wasn't about me however, it was about showing two lovely ladies the joys of running long and far. Patty went out ahead of us and it was just me and Magda for the last 2 or 3 miles. I knew she would finish the race but I think she was still a little nervous. I settled her down a bit with a little military cadence and we finished with no problems. It was a great feeling seeing the emotions from Magda and Patty. They totally kicked butt and ran their first 50 like veterans. We had a great time In Wisconsin and met some great friends. Thank you Angie, Miranda, and Tom for your hospitality.

Myself and Magda then traveled to London for a wonderful vacation. It was an absolute blast and great time. We jammed in everything you could do and will have lasting memories of a wonderful vacation!

I ran a little in the fall but took all of October off to recharge the batteries. It was much needed and the smart thing to do. The lottery to Western States was around the corner and I was unsure if I would be putting in for it. It was quite an expense last year running the race but I decided that the experience was well worth it. Plus I could continue to spread awareness for SMA and run for Owen and all the other SMA Angels. They have done so much for me, it is the least I can do for them and their families.

As the lottery approached I knew the odds of getting in the race were low, much lower than last year. I figured i wouldn't get in but would try anyway. lo and behold my name was one of the first names pulled from the hat and I was selected to run Western States 100 2011. I believe the odds to get selected this year were about 9% and I am very fortunate and grateful to have the opportunity to run this special race again. I guess Owen and all those SMA angels who ran with me really had a good time last year and wanted to do it again! Yessir lets do this again. I hope not to disappoint. There is still so much SMA butt kicking left to do.

Sadly my year ended on a very sad note. LIfe is life and it has its ups and downs. Like last year, I lost a wonderful family member, Winston. I adopted Winston in October and quickly fell in love with him. He was a cancer survivor and a great dog. Tragically I lost control of him and he ran after another dog into traffic. This was one of the toughest things I have ever had to endure, but thankfully I had the tremendous support of Magda, my great friends(Dave Conceicao, Claudia and Gillian Sampson, and Manny Maciel) They helped me so much and made this difficult time in my life bearable. I also want to thank Dr. William Truesdale and Jeri Poller for the opportunity to be part of Winston's life, even though it was for a short time.

I probably left a lot for this year but i didn't want to turn this blog into a War and Peace novel. It was a great year and one that I wont soon forget. Next year is already in full swing and i cant wait for the challenges that await me. I feel I can tackle anything and will continue to strive to be the best person I can be. Goodbye 2010, hello 2011

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