Sweet 16

Marine Corps Marathon, version 2013
my finest event of the year
with daughter astride, we ran side by side
carrying all of our gear

The parachutes did glide, bringing flags on their ride
To a start line of revel and cheer
Ka-boom went the gun, we started to run
smiling brightly with nary a fear

The course we both knew, this run we can do
It’s our second together you see
the fortunate one, for I get to run
with my daughter, just awesome for me

For 10K we ran according to plan
our happiness apparent to all
heading on to Rock Creek, relief she did seek
From a tummy casting a pall

Her courage ever strong as we strode along
discomfort fully now in control
game face she did don, as she soldiered on
no Marine with as strong a soul

On came the pace car, we had to keep par
to make the bridge and keep on our run
we hung for a while, but it did pass the Byls
the tummy now hurting a ton

Our group of support, mile sixteen they cavort
now the end point for us to arrive
that Kendall of strong, she did stroll along
the last mile we ran with revive

So although ten shy, it still was a high
to be cruising along with my girl
she’s all I could ask, in my love I do bask
for a daughter who’s really a pearl


Wildflower tri experience

Hello again readers.  A good friend of mine and excellent athlete just completed the Wildflower long course tri.  His post is below, worth reading on a number of levels as this is more of a ‘throwback’ race done in Woodstock fashion.  In addition to the excellent venue it boasts the only nude aid station I’m aware of in the racing world.  Hurry up now, space is limited….



Happy Hoofing

Yes you can!

Hello hoofers: Trouble with that particular hill? Can’t seem to get beyond a certain distance in your training? Seemingly impossible to get motivated for a run? While some limitations are physical, I believe most are mental. Because of past experiences or beliefs we hold ourselves back from new frontiers in our exercise programs.

It is important to know we do have control over our thoughts, and just as with a long-term training regimen, can develop a positive direction that creates a new baseline in our lives. Affirmations are a great thing to incorporate into your mental exercise routine as they are small and can be applied easily on a daily basis. Take a look at what Madisyn Taylor has to say about Affirmations:


Yes you can, and you will support that new plateau with a positive mental attitude.

Happy hoofing,


Up, up and away

Greetings hoofers. With a couple of major races just around the corner I’ve been training for weeks in the hilly terrain here in CT. Some of the work has been hills-only, or hills linked in with regular runs. In any event, I believe strongly that hill running has many benefits, and the attached post goes into some great detail about hill training:


Next up: Vermont 50 on September 30. Doing 50-miler this year after successful 50K event there last year. A new distance for me so watch this space. Following that another first for me, attempting to qualify for Boston at the Marine Corps Marathon in October. Just turned 50 so get the benefit of a slightly slower qualifying time. I’m not generally a speed runner, preferring distance over pace, but I figure why not give it a try. If I run headlong into the Washington Monument, someone please have the courtesy to pick me up and get me out of there.

Happy Hoofing


Listen up!

OK, couldn’t resist re-posting this from a running buddy. Have we all been there or what??

I’m Truly Sorry For This, But You’re About To Hear All About The Last Marathon I Ran

By Michael Cowie
July 31, 2012 | ISSUE 48•31

Listen, it’s great catching up with you, and believe me, I’m really enjoying this conversation we’re having, but I’m afraid I now have to do something that will make this exchange very awkward and unpleasant for you. I feel absolutely terrible about it, and so I want to give you fair warning: You’re about to hear all about the marathon I just ran.

I’m truly sorry, but I’m going to have to go pretty in depth about my months of preparation, talk all about the encouragement and support I received from friends and family, and give you a mile-by-mile assessment of my state of mind and physical condition during the race. I hate to say it, but it’s going to take quite a bit of your time.

Mile split times, cramping, hydration levels, chafing—you’re about to hear all of that. Plus, I’ll be dwelling on one point around mile 17 when I considered stopping but then decided to keep going because I’d already come so far. There’s a lot to cover, so I want to be upfront and apologize right off the bat.

This is going to be pretty unbearable.

I’ll inevitably start with how I carbo-loaded the night before the race, which by itself will not be a particularly long or objectionable story, but let me assure you it will segue right into an excruciatingly detailed explanation of the diet I maintain to stay in peak physical shape. And that, in turn, will lead into my training regimen, my special lightweight marathon gear, and, unfortunately for you, a lengthy period during which I expound upon the health benefits of distance running.

I know this isn’t the kind of thing you want to listen to—hey, no one does—but I’m going to include several anecdotes about my running partner Erik, a person you don’t know and couldn’t possibly be interested in hearing about. You’ll learn that he’s an attorney and a rock climber and that we’re part of a team that does the Run for Leukemia 10k every year, which will be another whole five-minute aside right there. Sorry.

Believe me, if I could stop myself from talking about this, I would. But I can’t, and so I’m going to tell you all about my personal best time, and you’re going to think to yourself, “This guy’s the fucking worst.” But here’s the truly awful part: Out of politeness, you will have to pretend to be impressed by that number, even though to you it will seem completely arbitrary and hold no meaning at all.

You’ll also be hearing quite a bit about the sense of accomplishment I felt upon finishing the race. You’re going to hate that, trust me. There will be detestable phrases like “I never thought I could do it, but I did” and “It truly was a life-changing experience” and “It’s a huge commitment, but definitely worth it.” I’ll be repeating the number 26.2 an infuriating number of times.

My God, I can barely express how insufferable I’m going to be.

I’m so sorry, I know you’ve done nothing to deserve this, but right when you think I’m finished talking—just when you get your hopes up—I’ll mention how this wasn’t my first marathon, and then you’re going to hear details of my three other full marathons, as well as a half marathon and a couple marathon relays I did. I can’t even imagine how horrible it will be for you to hear how I believe I’ve progressed as a runner, but by that point in, there just won’t be any getting around it.

And while it is at best tangentially related, I may at any moment during the conversation launch into an agonizing digression on the merits of five-day juice cleanses. I beg your forgiveness.

Worst of all, though, I’m definitely going to run other marathons in the future, so I’ll have to tell you all about the various races I’m thinking about entering and the pros and cons of each course. Please, accept my deepest apologies in advance, because as excruciating as today’s discussion is, it won’t end here. Every single day during my weeks of preparation leading up to the next race, I’m going to make you stop whatever you’re doing to tell you the number of miles I ran the previous evening. Isn’t that awful? No one should have to listen to that.

I’ll also have to tell you that you should run one of these things, too. I honestly can’t convey how intensely sorry I feel that these words will soon be coming out of my mouth, but I will actually say to you that if I can run a marathon, so can you.

Wow, I’m really, really sorry. I don’t know how you’ll be able to tolerate this.

But anyway, here goes.

The Ultra Pioneers

In this modern-day of ultra events-deserts, mountains, north/south poles, we tend to forget the pioneers of the sport. At the turn of the last century there was a small but active crowd of ultra runners doing their thing in different spots around the world. Here is an entertaining article about one runner, Peter Gavuzzi, born in Liverpool, England to an Italian father and French mother. Fortunately records still exist about a runner whose exploits have been long since forgotten:


Happy Hoofing


The big 5-0

So let’s get this straight. Over 10,000 feet of elevation change, never more than three steps without being interrupted by a rock, root or mud pit, humidity level of 80% at race time, and you just end up right back where you started? Hmmm, sounds like an exercise in futility to me.

But wait, people pay good money for all of this and more: free potatoes, pretzels, candy, pb&j’s and all the sports drink you can consume at not one but six different aid stations. OK, I’m listening. Cool T-shirt, a pair of arm sleeves, post-race meal and a free beer!! Wait, did someone say free….hey, count me in. Now, what do I need to do? What?? 31 miles???

The North Face Challenge had its Northeast regional event last weekend at scenic Bear Mountain, NY, and for the second year I participated in the 50K event on Saturday morning. In addition to everything mentioned above, I got to run on one of the most scenic courses around, with challenging terrain (rated 5 out of 5 for difficulty) and a rugged band of crazies crashing the trails. Although nearly 60 would not finish, (some due to injuries but I suspect most due to the humidity) we had around 220 finishers in total for the 50K.

With my training partner Ron leading the way, we managed to average a 12:26 pace for the course, which was good for us, and we were able to shave nearly an hour off last year’s effort, finishing in 6:25:00. We even made it into the top 10 of our age group! Of course it is a bit disconcerting to see one of the 50-milers breeze by you along the way, but those folks are nuts anyway!

North Face does a great job with this event, very well-organized and structured. If you’re of a mind to get into trail running, do some training first then look to one of their events. I believe there are six different locations around the US, with distances range from 5K up to the 50-miler.

This 50K finish was the culmination of several months of training, and serves as a great base from which to work through the rest of the year. Rumor has it Ron wants to join the nutters on a 50-miler later in the year. For that, I put my foot down. At least two free beers or I’m not going!

Happy Hoofing,


To gel, or not to gel

Greetings: Many of us rely on gels to gain nutrition during races and training, and even for post-exercise rebuild. They represent another great step in the evolution of feeding the machine that propels us forward.

Below is a link that suggests more recent twists on the central theme of portable nutrition. I for one have taken to blending my own gel from natural ingredients, and many of these are pre-packaged versions of that idea.


No matter the form, always strive to maintain your nutrition throughout an event and give your body what it needs at the right time. This will help increase endurance, reduce discomfort and provide for a better overall experience.

Happy Hoofing


Leatherman’s Loop

OK gang, the first trail event of the season is in the books. This one is a classic, been around 25 years or so, long before the recent mud runs and obstacle course craze. It has a very interesting story line based on an actual character from history. Check it out at http://www.leathermansloop.org.

Cool dampness was in store as 1200 runners stepped off at 9am this past Sunday, after hearing the traditional Leatherman’s Loop poem and being guided by a runner on a white horse. We quickly left the open fields for a single-track adventure which involves two full stream crossings and lots of rocks, roots and hills through the 4,700-acre Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

True to form, my first face plant occurred within the first mile of the race. I hit my right hand so hard the screwed-on top of the water bottle I was holding blew off and all the liquid blasted out like a water balloon dropped from twenty stories. After getting up and realizing everything was intact, I continued running only to be tracked down 100 yards later by a fellow runner tapping me on the shoulder and saying ‘did you lose this?’ He of course handed me the top, which I thanked him for, re-attached to the water bottle and proceeded to carry an empty bottle for the next five miles. Nothing gets past me….

Surprisingly no more falls the remainder of the race, but a few signature stumbles as the technical terrain and close quarters forced a constant level of attention to the task at hand. The first stream crossing was around twelve feet from bank to bank, about waist deep, and once up the slippery slope the trail continued on into the woods and more single track.

When you put together 1,200 runners, a relatively short (10K) course and mostly single track trails, it was a trick indeed to make a pass along the way. This to me was the most difficult detail of the event, and although I’m not by any means the fastest runner out there, I do like to keep a pace going. Ducking around trees and going off trail were definitely par for this course.

The final half mile starts in a field and funnels down to the second stream crossing with loads of spectators around flashing pictures and taking videos. All I’m thinking about is ‘Please God, don’t let me land the second face plant in the middle of the stream’! Somehow I made it across without incident and without making everyone’s top YouTube moment, and cruised to the finish line. After nearly an hour in the woods it was nice to take a break.

We left before the award ceremonies, which include the tradition awarding of a freshly-baked pie to the various winners. Nice touch for a real down-to-earth event that takes place in a beautiful setting just twenty minutes from my home. May I always recognize that and be fortunate enough to share in the experience.

Happy Hoofing


Hello Mr. off day!

How nice to look forward to an off day tomorrow, knowing things will get a much-needed rest. After a layoff in January and much of February, I’m back in training mode again as the Leatherman’s loop is next month and first 50K trail run in May.

I hit it hard this week, two sets of back-to-back days on my feet, with two swim days in between. It’s been a while since I went six days in a row, and so tomorrow is more important than ever. Mostly feeling it in the lower abdomen, partly due to my comeback from hernia surgery.

I have found that coming back from the layoff, in a measured approach, has really been a good experience. Now a mini-version of that for tomorrow before continuing training next week. It’s good to be kind to the body during training with an off day, as we tend to push things during training. Muscles, tendons, joints and all moving parts work better in the long run when given regular rests in between training sets.

So, hello Mr. Day off! I look forward to your company.

Good hoofing, Michael