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Showing posts with label backyard ultra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label backyard ultra. Show all posts

Thursday, March 16, 2023

February Monthly Mileage Check In




Happy #MonthlyMileage check in! I wrapped up February with a little over 239 miles! February was about increasing the solid base I started building in January and maintaining consistency without abandoning non running aspects of my life. With a baby boy due to arrive this month to join our family of five, the non running aspects of my life are obviously pretty demanding. Add in an unexpected bout of kidney stones leading to a trip to the ER that my wife had to endure while about eight months pregnant, and it’s easy to see how my training could have fallen pretty far off track. Thankfully it didn’t and I was able to meet my mileage goals and still have a few days at the end of the month dedicated to a ski trip with my older boys, or we can call it cross training if preferred.

My average daily mileage increased from 8.30 in January to 8.55 miles per day in February. Only a 3% increase in average daily mileage, but I am thrilled with it given the circumstances over the past month. I am especially happy with my mileage and where I’m at right now this early in the year with my training because it already exceeds where I was last year in preparation to run Capital Backyard. Last April leading up to Capital, I averaged 8.37 miles per day. This year, a full two months out from Capital, I’ve already surpassed where my training was last year. This gives me some high hopes and big expectations for how my days go at Capital this year.

But before I start focusing on Capital, my more imminent goal is to better my performance and the course record at the Adventure Trail Run 24 Hour race. Given my training thus far this year and my current fitness level, I am more confident in reaching my goal of bettering the course record there than I was when I attempted to do the same two years ago. I believe it is mainly due to the focus I had on consistent training and building volume last year. I had a decent endurance foundation prior to last year, but my training was still primarily structured around long training runs. I got away from those last year and refocused on consistency to build volume. That meant less recovery days for me and an overall increase in volume. I tested out the “brick by brick” training ideology and would say based on my results so far I am a subscriber. I feel like the long training run loses training value as you progress as an ultrarunner. They’re great for testing fueling options and improving mental toughness but after a few years of ultrarunning you tend to get fueling that works for you figured out and mental toughness develops and is refined over time. Therefore, my long runs are pretty much reserved for races, at least for the time being. We’ll see how that training regimen works for the 24 hour race format, but it has served me well in the backyard format so I intend to continue using it.




Scott Snell
16 March 2023












Wednesday, March 15, 2023

A Healthy Mix of Joy and Fear


Scott Snell beast Coast Trail Running

Big's Backyard was the first race to break me. Although it didn’t do it single handedly; it had a pretty helpful assist from the cold I came down with about a week before the race. It was a culmination of events and circumstances that led to me succumbing and ending my race shortly after beginning the third night of running. Immediately and for several weeks after I wasn’t sure I would go back or if I even wanted to, but now I’m certain. I hope to be back at Big's this fall, better prepared mentally and physically. And hopefully in better health as well. When I think about going back I’m filled with a healthy mix of joy and fear.

The phrase “healthy mix of joy and fear” was one that I spouted off on a whim recently. One of the scout leaders from my oldest son’s den was congratulating me as my wife and I are expecting a new baby boy soon. Maybe I didn’t gush with as much excitement as I should have and he said to me a bit sarcastically about how thrilled I look. I replied with, “yeah, I’m excited. It’s a healthy mix of joy and fear.” Later I realized that is exactly how I feel about going back to Big’s as well.

I believe the joy stems from the opportunity to have a second crack at Big’s to do better; second chances are never guaranteed so I am grateful for the opportunity. Last year I was so dead set and focused on Big’s that I feel like I built it up to be more than it actually was, like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and no one ever goes back for a second attempt. Not that I all of a sudden don’t think that running at Big’s isn’t a big deal. It’s just that now I recognize that it was not a one time shot, that I may have several years of running Big’s with the national team format and in the strictly individual world competition format. In a way, it seems that strictly focusing on Big’s last year took away from the joy of the experience and made it feel like an impossible task. With what I hope to be my second chance at Big’s this year, I not only want to have a better performance but also want to enjoy the process.

The fear emanates from having experienced Big’s and having been broken by the backyard race format. Like I said earlier, I don’t think the race format alone broke me but it was the cumulative effect of the cold I was battling unrelated to the exhaustion and sleep deprivation which were directly induced by the race format. Top all of that with a severe drop in temperature and some strong gusting winds going into the third night and I was done. I’ve now experienced how quickly things can go from bad to worse and over so quickly in this race format and that is scary. It’s so scary because like second chances, there are no guarantees in the backyard format. Any runner, no matter how talented and resilient, can have a bad hour and sometimes that’s all it takes to end your race in the backyard. That is why I have a great deal of respect for the format; because it can humble anyone with little to no notice. I look forward to facing that specific fear that wasn’t there last year when I ran Big’s. I’ll still go into the race with high expectations for myself as I feel confidence is a key to success in backyards but this time with a bit more fear and respect for how quickly a race can fall apart and be over.


Scott Snell
15 March 2023






Wednesday, January 11, 2023

2022 Goals Reviewed and Examining 2023 Goals


Scott Snell Beast Coast Trail Running

My singular goal for 2022, well it actually began to form midway through 2021, was to earn a place on the 15 person Team USA for the international Backyard Ultra Team competition at Big's Backyard in October. I accomplished this goal in May by winning Capital Backyard Ultra which was a silver ticket event guaranteeing me a place on the team. With my main goal for the year accomplished only a few months into the year, I put all my effort into training to achieve my best possible performance at that competition. In retrospect, maybe that was a mistake putting all of my eggs into one basket. As luck would have it, my son got sick with a bad cough/cold about two weeks before the race and then I picked it up about a week before the race. While I still had a decent performance there (62 yards or about 258 miles), it was not the performance I hoped for and I was just angry the majority of the time for the timing of the virus I contracted. Which I guess is a major downside of focusing all of your effort preparing for such a long period on a single race. All it takes is one poorly timed sickness to destroy your hopes. So, I have decided not to do that again. I will do almost the exact opposite this year and just send it, running all the races I want to run. Which is probably equally bad for different reasons.

Overall, this year I just want to run the races I want to run and let the chips fall where they may. Maybe I'll burn out and be sick of ultrarunning (not likely) before October and the big dance at Big's. But I don’t think I will. The more likely flaw to this plan is either an overuse injury or insufficient recovery time between races to achieve optimal performance. But I don’t care. I’d rather run that risk and have a few races that I’m really proud of, a few that I deem mediocre, and a few that were total misses rather than have one race that I put so much time and effort into feel like a failure. So with that introduction and philosophy behind my running goals for 2023, here they are (in chronological order)!

Scott Snell Beast Coast Trail Running

1.  Set a new 24 hour PR for myself and a new course record at the 24 hr Adventure Trail Run in Triangle, VA. - I made my first attempt at this goal and my first attempt at a 24 hour race in 2021. It was my first race after races had been shut down due to COVID. I believe I am better prepared to achieve this goal this time around. I know what mistakes I made during my first attempt and how I can remedy them. I also believe I am better prepared physically and mentally this time. My fitness level has improved and my mind is better adapted to overcome temporary setbacks within a 24 hour period. I was so close to achieving this goal last time that I am almost certain I will have success this time.

2.  Run Capital Backyard Ultra and be sure to secure my spot at Big's this year. - With the qualifying period for the 2023 Backyard World individual Championships ending in mid August, Capital Backyard Ultra (at the end of May) is one of the final more competitive backyard races likely to produce an at large qualification. Right now I'm sitting at the 56th spot out of 75 spots available. Chances are pretty good that where I'm at is good enough and I will qualify regardless of whether I run another backyard between now and then. However, there are some competitive backyard races between now and then. If I'm pushed farther down the qualifying list, it's most likely I'll be pushed off the list due to at large qualifications at Capital. If that does occur, I want to be in the race to compete for my spot at Big's.

3.  Run a 12 hour race at the Midnight Squatchapalooza. - I've never run a 12 hour race before and this is one of the most local ultras for me. It's also hosted by one of my favorite NJ race directors, Kim Levinsky of Sassquad Trail Running. My personal goal for this race is to run at least a 100k before the 12 hour clock runs out. From what I can tell based on the Ultrasignup results page, it looks like the course record is 25 laps of a 2.5 mile looped course or 62.5 miles which is just over a 100k distance. So, if I hit my personal goal I will at least tie the course record. Of course, if things are going well for me late in the race and it is within reach, I’d love to be able to better the course record and complete 26 laps to hit 65 miles.

4.  Run Backyard Squatch again. - I have multiple reasons for this goal and several achievements I’d like to reach within this goal. This race is also hosted by Sassquad Trail Running, so that alone makes me want to run it again. After running and winning it in 2021, I was invited back by Kim Levinsky to run it again in 2022 but I felt like it was a little too close and would disrupt my training cycle leading up to the Backyard Ultra Team competition at Big's Backyard in October. Although I wanted to run it again last year, I opted not to, hoping it would better my performance at Big’s. That is not the plan this year. Like I mentioned earlier, the plan is just to send it this year and hope for the best. With that mindset, my goals for this race are to better the course record (36 yards) that still stands from the inaugural year (2021). Additionally, I intend to be the last person standing there.

5.  Run a 200 mile race. - After spending the better part of the last two years making earning a spot to run at Big’s Backyard my primary focus, I’m trying to freshen things up a bit this year with some new exciting goals, hence the completely new goal of running a 12 hour race. While running a 200 mile race isn’t a completely new or fresh idea for me to pursue, this year I plan on acting on it. In the past I had kinda dreamt about running a 200 miler. I had always thought I’d sign up for one out west, most likely one of Candice Burt’s races but a few things kept me from acting on those dreams. The first being the cost. When you add up the registration and travel costs you’re looking at a minimum of a several thousand dollar price tag for an adventure that will most likely be a handful of days. I have trouble justifying that with my current household budget. The second primary reason was the fear that I wasn’t ready to tackle the 200 mile distance. Well, after running two backyards last year that went over 250 miles the fear of not being ready for the 200 mile distance is gone. However, the financial limitation is still there so I have been looking at other, more affordable options. As of now, the race I think I will register for to take a crack at the 200 mile distance is the Cowboy 200. Since I’ve already run two races greater than 200 miles, some may justifiably be questioning why I’m pursuing this as a goal this year. The reason is that although I’ve done the distance, I’ve never raced the distance. I’ve only run it in the backyard format where your pace is constrained to not exceed 100 miles per 24 hours. So the real goal within this goal is not to finish a 200 mile race, but to finish it in under 48 hours. Giddy up!

6.  Run the individual backyard world championship at Big's Backyard in October. - If you read my race report on my performance at the 2022 Big’s Backyard team competition, I think it’s readily apparent that I feel like I have some unfinished business there. I intend to be there again this year for the individual competition and do better. It would be na├»ve and maybe a bit foolish to make winning this competition my only goal. Of course it’s the top goal, but these are the best backyard runners from around the world competing here. It is the most competitive backyard competition in the world. Do I believe there is a chance? Yes. Likely? Probably not. Can I do better than last year? Most definitely yes. Outside of being the outright winner, I have a few other objectives that are more likely obtainable. The first being just to improve upon last year’s performance of 62 yards. Simple and definitely doable. Second is to make it through that third night of running and see how long I can hang after that. That will be more difficult, but I believe I am capable of it. My third alt objective and likely the most difficult if I am not the last person standing there is to simply not allow my race to end in apathy again. An apathetic outlook was the final piece that ended my run there last year. I don’t like excuses. Allowing apathy to take hold over the last few hours of my race last year feels like creating an excuse to quit in the moment. If not an excuse, then a defense or escape mechanism at best. It’s not fair to use either after putting so much time, effort, and sacrifice into preparing for this event. It’s not fair to me or others close to me who have also made sacrifices to allow me to not only be there, but to prepare to do the best I can while I am there. So that’s the final alt objective: to do my best with no excuses.

Scott Snell Beast Coast Trail Running



Scott Snell
11 January 2023









Thursday, November 3, 2022

Mental Recovery From Big's Backyard


I hit a total of 369 miles for October with 258 run in a single go at Big's Backyard. I'm pretty sure this was my highest monthly mileage ever and I am completely sure that my run at Big's was a distance PR for me. For all of that I admit that I am proud and maybe I shouldn't say it at all but I'm going to anyway. I can't help but be disappointed in myself with how my run at Big's went. It certainly felt like giving up towards the end. And I hate that. What could I have done differently? Mistakes were made. I didn't change from shorts to pants soon enough to deal with the drop in temperature. I didn't stay positive. I lost hope. I didn't use my last resort lifeline that I have the previous two times I was ready to quit at a backyard: to call my wife and say "I'm done." Maybe I didn't have time. Maybe I didn't want the pressure to keep going. I'm still not sure and I may never know exactly where my head was at that point. What I do know is that it's on me for making those mistakes. There's no one else to blame. I take full responsibility. I also know that I'm not happy or impressed with what I did and it's impacting what I had planned for 2023. My primary running goal for 2023 was to make an attempt at the IA crossing FKT. Now I don't know; a "redemption" backyard run sounds pretty attractive. We'll see... Regardless, my plan was to take some time to recover and focus on family time from November and over the holidays until I start training again for a specific goal next year. What that specific goal is, I don't know at this point. I still need to accept what I interpret as a failure. But I am determined to find the good in this situation, to learn from my mistakes and use it as motivation to drive and to train harder towards whatever my next goal is. 


Scott Snell

3 November 2022