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Showing posts with label runners. Show all posts
Showing posts with label runners. Show all posts

Thursday, January 20, 2022

2022 Goals… Errrr...I mean goal. As in Singular.



What are my goals for 2022? I should rephrase that. What is my goal for 2022? Earn a place on the 15 person USA Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra Satellite Team. That’s pretty much it. Pass or fail. All or nothing. A singular goal.

Of course there are building blocks to reach that goal. I’ll run plenty of training workouts, incorporate cross training, and have distance goals for long runs. But I’m not looking at those as goals in themselves. For me, at least this year, those are just stepping stones or progress markers towards achieving the goal.


How does one earn a place on the USA Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra Satellite Team this year? Well, there's a couple ways to get a spot. One is to win a silver ticket backyard race (currently six of them). The other way is through the “at large entry” route, which basically means run one of the top 9 backyard performances (outside of the winners of the silver tickets) in the US and apply for entry. As of now, a top 9 performance is right around 40 yards or 166 miles. I'm registered for Capital Backyard (a silver ticket race), so the plan is to win there or at least do well enough to have a solid shot at the “at large entry” route. We'll see what the day brings… If I fail to secure a spot there or think that my “at large entry” route chances aren’t good based on whatever distance I run, I’ll look into other backyard races to better my chances of getting in via the “at large entry” route.
                                    
Although I only have a single running goal for the year, that doesn’t mean I don’t have other goals I hope to achieve this year. One of which I will mention here since I am incorporating it into my running habit. This year, like last year, I am attempting to fundraise for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® again through the St. Jude Heroes program. I will basically do what I did last year and hope for better results. I’ll kick it off again with a celebratory birthday run where I run my age in miles (42). I’ll follow that up by asking for per mile pledge donations for the races I run this year. If you would like to support my fundraising efforts, donations can be made at my St. Jude Heroes fundraising page. Want to pledge a per mile donation based on how far I run at the Capitol Backyard Ultra? Fill out this Google form and donate when the results are posted. You can learn more about my past fundraising attempts in this blog post.

Thank you for any and all support!



Scott Snell
January 20, 2022






Friday, January 14, 2022

Stomach Flu and DISCIPLINE




At first glance, nothing about this run looks special. Maybe "special" is a poor word choice; every run, no matter how routine or average is special in the sense that you're out there running. You're physically capable of that act and mentally motivated enough to do it which in itself is special. So let me rephrase that opening statement. At first glance, nothing about this run looks out of the ordinary. It was a common route and distance for me at a relaxed pace. What makes it "special" for me is the fact that it came at the tail end of about a week of my household being plagued with a case of the stomach flu. Of the five of us, only one managed to avoid vomiting. I spent the week leading up to this run cleaning up vomit, caring for my vomiting kids and wife, and doing my own share of vomiting. 

It felt like yesterday everybody was back to good health and we were finally returning to normal activities; which meant I could pick back up on running after a short hiatus. It would have been so easy to give myself an excuse to not run last night. 

We'd all been sick for a week. 
I needed another day to recover. 
Take your pick.

It was busy day between work, helping the kids with homework, and running them to extracurricular activities; I was ready to call it a night by the time I got the kids fed and ready for bed. It was after 9. I asked myself "are these just excuses? How bad do you want a spot at Big's?" The answers were "yes" and "bad enough to go run tonight." 

Oftentimes, your mind will happily justify the easy path, but it is a short lived victory. And for me, when I allow and accept that seemingly valid reason to not get after it, in retrospect, I usually regret it. Because I usually realize the main factor determining whether you get after it or not isn't extenuating circumstances. It's DISCIPLINE. Only you can gift yourself with discipline and either you have it or you don't.

Scott Snell
January 14, 2022







Wednesday, January 5, 2022

2021 Goals Check




It’s January and the deadline to achieve my 2021 running goals has come and gone. Here’s what I accomplished and the targets I missed.

At my last goal status check, I had already checked two boxes on my running goals list for this year and they were the two targets that I most wanted to complete successfully. Those two goals were (1) to test myself and see what I am capable of at a 24 hour timed event (Adventure Trail Run) and (2) to PR my greatest distance run. Since then, I further improved my distance PR from 129 miles at the inaugural Keystone Backyard Ultra to 150 miles at the inaugural Backyard Squatch at the end of August.

I never attempted the 12 minute aerobic fitness test. After looking at some of my run data, I could see just based on faster paced training runs I was going to fall into the fittest category of the fitness test. It seemed pointless to me to do the 12 minute test of running as hard as I could to prove it. So I chucked that goal away as a poorly planned goal to begin with. I may attempt it this year earlier in the year so I can compare multiple test results throughout the year. The interest is no longer in seeing what fitness category I fall in, but whether I remain consistent during the year.

My long term project and goal to run every single street of Egg Harbor Township still hasn’t increased in appeal to me since my last status check for all of the same reasons: I would rather do my long runs on trails and I don’t want to go out of my way to run on busy roads with high speed traffic. For those reasons, that entire project has more or less been put on the shelf.

The final goal (FKT attempt) was more dependent on what race opportunities present themselves and I jumped at the chance to run Backyard Squatch rather than an FKT. I am getting some more solid ideas that have me excited and looking into planning a longer distance FKT attempt sometime in 2023. Why the delay? Because my primary running goal for 2022 is already decided: Big’s or Bust!


Scott Snell
January 5, 2022





Friday, December 3, 2021

The Importance of "Maintenance Runs"



Beast Coast Trail Running - Maintenance Miles


Long term success doesn't happen overnight.


I know some runners who always have a race on their calendar. It seems like they race nearly every weekend. Which is great if that works for them and keeps them interested and excited about running. I know it’s not for me for a few reasons. First, my running budget would get stretched pretty thin very quickly covering that many registration fees. Second, I try to make family time the priority on the weekends and I don’t want to make that family time unpleasant for everyone else by dragging them along for my hobby. I typically only race about 3-6 times a year. Between those races I’m just focused on training and preparing for the next. I know other runners who don’t race at all. That’s one of the beautiful aspects of running; you can shape it to be what benefits and fits your lifestyle best.

Lately, I’m in what I would consider my offseason. My last race was in August and the next one on my schedule isn’t until May of next year. While I’m a pretty goal oriented person and having a race on the horizon keeps me motivated to keep training, I feel like it’s important to have some down time during the year to allow the mind and body to recover rather than constantly pushing. However, you don’t want to totally fall off and lose all fitness during that recovery period. To keep myself motivated during this longer period without racing that I am in the midst of, I’ve taken to referring to my runs as “maintenance runs”.

Maintenance runs aren’t sexy and don’t bring the excitement of training for a big race. You don’t feel the anticipation of an approaching race day. You aren’t celebrating gains recognized or breakthrough workouts.They don’t culminate to an anxiety inducing taper period with a long day of racing looming. So what is good about them? Easy, they keep you from having to restart from what feels like zero and rebuild fitness when you dive into training for your next race.

For me, doing maintenance runs feels natural. I ran without racing at all long enough to appreciate running for benefits other than those associated with racing. However, since getting into ultrarunning about six years ago I have raced enough to feel like something is missing from running when I don’t have short term race goals to work towards. Reframing my runs as “maintenance runs'' has helped me to continue to run with passion and anticipation for when I do have a race coming up on my calendar. It’s mainly just a change of perspective or purpose, but I have found it to help me during this longer period without racing that I am working my way through. It helps me to consider the larger picture. For me, running isn’t about nailing an insane training block or running the perfect race. It’s great when that happens, but consistency and longevity are more important big picture goals to me than a few stand out performances. Including some downtime during the year to just run for the sake of running and maintain a base level of fitness is important to achieve those bigger picture goals. After all, long term success doesn't happen overnight.

Scott Snell
December 3, 2021

Monday, November 29, 2021

Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

When I got comfortable with an uncomfortable heat index of 109.7°F at Wildcat Ridge Romp.

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” It’s a phrase or mantra you hear or read sprinkled throughout the ultrarunning world. It’s a concept that I’ve embraced and I feel like it has served me well in my ultrarunning experiences. In fact, sometimes I feel that I am more comfortable with being uncomfortable than I am with indulging in extravagant comforts. But what does it really mean and how does one become comfortable with experiencing discomfort? Is it a trick you play on yourself? Do you just learn to lie to yourself really well and believably? Or is it just straight up denial?

When I got comfortable with being uncomfortable at Eastern States 2017.

To me, it is more than just a matter of denying the facts. In the phrase itself we’re acknowledging a feeling of discomfort (“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”). We’re accepting the discomfort as fact and simply altering our reaction to that feeling. Rather than having a knee jerk, panicky reaction to the discomfort with the question of “How do I stop this discomfort?” we’ve trained our minds to recognize and accept the discomfort and react in a much more metered and controlled manner.

For me it’s usually a process of analyzing the situation and going through a checklist of questions:


1. How bad is this and is it going to worsen?

This is the “don’t fix what’s not broken” stage. If it’s not that bad, just don’t worry about it. Eventually it will probably resolve itself or you’ll just grow accustomed to the minor discomfort. View this as an opportunity to set your baseline threshold for discomfort. If you run long enough, there is going to be some level of discomfort at some point. When that discomfort begins to appear, greet it with open arms. Be grateful it is no longer hiding in the shadows. Use this baseline discomfort as a measurement tool to determine if it’s increasing or just persisting.


2. Is there anything I can do to resolve it right now?

Fix it if you can. The example of debris in your shoe is the classic example of this. Stop and get the crap out of your shoe before it creates a larger problem like a blister. If you can’t fix it now, can you fix it at the next aid station? Is it chafing that some vaseline will resolve? Aid station volunteers are some of the most helpful groups of people I have ever met. I believe they genuinely want to see all runners succeed and they will do whatever they can to assist with that. Just ask for help.


3. How serious is this and am I going to further injure myself if I continue?

This is the million dollar question. Sometimes distinguishing between superficial and serious injuries can be difficult, especially when your mind and body are both exhausted. Phantom injuries can quickly not only justify accepting a DNF, but convince you that it is the smart thing to do. Do your best to assess the pain/injury as objectively as possible. Try to get a third party opinion from someone who wants to see you keep going (like an aid station or medical volunteer) and not from someone who it will hurt to see you suffer (like a spouse, assuming your spouse is not a masochist).

It’s the reaction to the discomfort that is really important and to me that is what the phrase is all about: YOUR reaction. Of course I am not suggesting that you hobble the last 20 miles or so of an ultra on a broken leg or continue on after suffering a bad fall and showing signs of a concussion. Injury is a valid and respectable reason to DNF. I am not a big fan of another common phrase (“Death Before DNF”) that makes its way around the ultrarunning world. I mean, I like the idea of refusing to quit, but I don’t take it that far. I’m pretty sure people say it because they think it sounds kinda badass, but when you evaluate it a bit more honestly I would hope you realize rather quickly that you are more valuable to someone alive than dead at an ultramarathon. I know that’s the case for me.

So I encourage you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, but only to a certain degree. You don’t want to cause further injury or do irreparable harm to yourself just to finish a race. Sometimes it feels like a fine line to walk, but I guess that’s part of the fun of ultras. There’s so much uncertainty and so many “what if”s. And that’s part of the reason why I am so drawn to them. They’re challenging and complex in so many regards for achieving the simple purpose of getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible.

Beast coast trail chafing
When I got comfortable with being uncomfortable at Eastern States 2019.




Scott Snell
November 29, 2021

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Post Inspiration 4 St. Jude Fundraising Effort - Asking Billionaires For Help


As some of you may know, earlier this year I attempted to tie in a fundraising effort with several of my races. I set up a St. Jude Heroes fundraising page so all donations would go directly to and benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. After that I linked it to a Facebook fundraiser page to make it easier for people to donate. Then I attempted to promote it. I started it off with a celebratory birthday run where I ran my age in miles (41). I shared this on my social media platforms and asked that anyone who intended to get me a birthday present to please donate to the fundraiser instead. I received a few donations from friends and family.

I didn’t get as many donations as I had hoped. I thought if I went bigger, I would surely get more donations. I tied the fundraiser to my first race of the year, a 24 hour trail race. I set up a pledge system for anyone to donate any amount per mile they like prior to the race. Unfortunately I didn’t have any takers. I thought, “maybe 24 hours isn't enough.” I updated the pledge system for my next race, The Keystone Backyard Ultra, which I was sure would go longer than 24 hours. I was right in my assumption about it going longer (I ran for almost 31 hours), however I was wrong about thinking that going bigger would garner more donations. It was the longest and farthest I had ever run. I was really happy about my performance, but it would have been much sweeter if I had been able to secure any pledges.

After three running “events” that I had attempted to use to help raise funds for St. Jude I had garnered a total of 7 donations totaling $185. I was still $65 away from my fundraising goal of $250 (the base amount for St. Jude Heroes). I concluded that I’m far better at running ultras than fundraising. I got first place at the two races I ran as a part of this fundraising effort, but was still only about 75% of the way to my fundraising goal. Thankfully, I received a cash prize of $12.50 per lap (4.1667 miles) run for a total prize of $387.50! I donated a portion of that prize money to reach my base fundraising goal.

I was happy to have reached my goal, but the fundraising effort still felt like a failure to me as the only reason I reached my target amount was due to me donating. I decided fundraising isn’t my forte. I didn’t give it too much thought after that and tried to move on just focusing on running. Then, as a Bibrave Pro ambassador, I registered to run and promote the Inspiration 4 mile virtual run, a part of which was a fundraising component. It kinda felt like fate had brought this fundraising effort back into my life, and coincidence or not, of all the fundraisers that the Inspiration 4 mission could have chosen to support, they chose St. Jude as I did six months earlier.


The Inspiration 4 fundraising goal was inspiring, as it should have been given the name. They aimed to raise 200 million dollars for St. Jude and were successful in doing so. The success was in large part due to generous donations from two people heavily involved in the mission, Elon Musk ($50 million) and crew member, Jared Isaacman ($100 million). The flight was operated by SpaceX, founded by Musk, and procured by Isaacman.

After following the Inspiration 4 mission and promoting the virtual run, it made my earlier fundraising efforts seem pretty trivial. I know every bit counts, but $200 million counts a whole lot more than the $250 I raised. Then I realized, I was asking friends and family to donate. These are all people with budgets pretty similar to me when compared to billionaires. They might have donated 10, 20, or 50 dollars, which I greatly appreciate, but I doubt anyone I have in my circle of friends and family is going to donate thousands of dollars (let alone millions) no matter how far I run. That’s when I realized, I should have been asking billionaires to donate.

The Inspiration 4 crew traveled to an altitude of 364 miles, making the round trip (just accounting for distance from earth and back) 728 miles. Strictly considering the distance away from and back to earth, Musk and Isaacman’s per mile donations were $68,681.32 and $137,362.64 respectively. I ran 150 miles at my last race, fueled primarily by carbs and not rocket fuel. If either Musk or Isaacman had pledged the same rate for my run I would have raised $10,302,197.80 from Musk or $20,604,395.60 from Isaacman.


So this is my ask of a billionaire out there. Let’s continue to inspire even after the mission of the Inspiration 4 has been completed. It was an inspiring project to see four civilians travel into orbit. Especially when one of those civilians, Hayley Arceneaux, is a cancer survivor, was a St. Jude patient, and is now a physician assistant at St. Jude. I will be running another race in May 2022, Capital Backyard Ultra, that I plan to go even farther than my last. I would like to attempt to tie another fundraising effort in with this race as I did past ones, but fear the results will be the same as before. Is a 41 year old father of three boys who recovered from a hip surgery and now runs 100+ mile ultras as inspiring as the Inspiration 4 mission? Probably not in most people’s opinions. But maybe it adds a fifth pillar to the four pillars of humanity (leadership, hope, generosity, and prosperity) represented by the four crew members of Inspiration 4. I would suggest that my story and likely even more so many others’ could represent the pillar of persistence, the undying tenacity of the human spirit to continue forth despite undue suffering and grim odds. The quality of persistence is a common recurring trait throughout many of the most influential turning points in human history; doesn’t it deserve a place as one of the pillars of humanity?


If you would like to support my fundraising efforts, donations can be made at my St. Jude Heroes fundraising page. Want to pledge a per mile donation based on how far I run at the Capital Backyard Ultra? Fill out this Google form and donate when the results are posted.


Thank you for any and all support!


Scott Snell
October 16, 2021

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Why I Registered For The Inspiration4 Miler Virtual Run



"Disclaimer: I received a free registration to the Inspiration4 Miler Virtual Run to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before!”

If you recognize the above quote, then I’m sure one of the reasons why I registered for the Inspiration4 Miler Virtual Run is obvious. The quote is the introduction that began every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Spoken by Captain Jean’Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise, these words and his voice are pretty well etched into my memory. While I am by no means a card carrying trekkie, I did watch my share of Star Trek among other space themed sci-fi shows and movies. So, when I heard about the Inspiration4 Miler Virtual Run I was immediately intrigued. I had heard about a plan for an all civilian mission to orbit, but this was the first I had heard of the name “Inspiration4” and the associated virtual run. I think that some degree of fascination and awe of space travel and wonder of what is “out there” in that seemingly limitless expanse are pretty common human feelings. I view this mission as setting a benchmark of sorts of how far we have come in our advancements in space travel in the last few decades. And the fact that running is now tied in with it, even better! Sign me up!


A second reason I signed up so readily for this virtual run was the incorporated fundraising aspect of Inspiration4. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
® is the charitable beneficiary of the mission. As such, the fundraising goal of the mission is to raise $200 million to support the lifesaving work of St. Jude. As a St. Jude Hero, I fundraised for St. Jude earlier this year raising $250 by incorporating fundraising with long distance runs. As one of my preferred nonprofit organizations, St. Jude being named as the charitable beneficiary of this mission motivated me even more to be involved in this history making event in some way.


Lastly, a final reason I was motivated to sign up for this event was the cool swag and how much my kids seemed to love it. When I showed the hat, long sleeve shirt, and the medal with the Inspiration4 logo to my kids, they were super pumped about it, so much so that I ordered the shirt size for my son and told my other son that he could have the finisher medal as long as they both ran it with me. To my delight, they both agreed! Anytime I can share a running experience with my boys is a blessing! Photos of them and their new swag to come! If you'd like to get on board, register here!


Saturday, July 31, 2021

First Time on a Podcast - Under the Tent



Under The Tent: Episode 2 - Scott Snell
Scott Snell is an avid ultra runner and is making his move in the backyard ultra scene. Scott has picked up wins at both the Run Ragged and Keystone Backyard Ultras. He is a father of three boys and has the added challenge of both balancing family time and time on the trails. You can follow Scott's blog "Beast Coast Trail Running" for more info and insight into his career.


I was more nervous than I probably should have been, but I guess that was no surprise since I'm not an extremely outgoing person in general. I'm usually not the one to start up a conversation with a stranger. Not that I don't want to talk to people, it’s just that I'm a bit introverted and initiating conversations feels especially difficult for me. The fact that this conversation I was about to have was going to be recorded and made public was kind of a scary thought to me. But I was going to be talking about running, mostly ultrarunning. So, I saw that as reward enough to make the uneasiness and anxiety I was feeling make the experience as a whole a worthwhile endeavor. This anxiety inducing running related experience was the opportunity to be a guest on a new running podcast.

The podcast title is “Under the Tent'' hosted by Brandon Fogarty who I met at the Keystone Backyard Ultra in May this year. My initial reaction was of excitement as it was the first time any podcast host had asked me to be a guest. I love running. I love writing and talking about running. My wife has heard more about ultras from me than she ever wanted to. So why wouldn’t I be excited about being asked to talk about ultrarunning with another runner? As the time to record got closer, I became more nervous and less excited. I worried I’d say something dumb or just stumble on my words too much. It mostly just felt like fear of judgment when you’re completely unsure how many people are going to listen to the conversation you’re about to have. I’m sure these were all pretty normal fears for almost all first-time podcast guests.

After chatting with Brandon for about an hour, we said goodbye and then I began to wonder how it went and how I sounded. I felt like it went pretty well immediately afterwards. I did honestly have fun chatting about the backyard race format and recounting a few stories of races I’ve run, but as time went on, I began to think of things I should have said. Other ways I should have answered certain questions. I’m guessing this is pretty normal for most podcast guests and hosts alike for that matter. I’m sure thoughts of everything from “I wish I would have followed up with this question instead” to “I should have mentioned that story from that race” to “Damn it! I should have credited that person and publicly thanked them!” are pretty standard fare for everyone following a podcast recording.

For me, I felt like my last example (Damn it! I should have credited that person and publicly thanked them!”) was my biggest flub. Who did I forget to thank? My wife of course. When Brandon asked about being a father of three and managing the responsibilities there with running and training for ultramarathons, I feel like I completely missed the mark on that question. I started talking about priorities and how as much as I love running, I still prioritize a quality family life over my running life. Which is true for me and I still stand by that, but in retrospect it was the perfect time to mention the primary reason I’m able to pursue my passion for running and chase my running goals is due to the sacrifices my wife makes to allow that to happen. It was the perfect time to credit her and thank her for her enormous and vital role in any running goals I reach. But I failed to do it at the time.

Now as I’m writing this and giving more thought to this podcast interview and the differences of the dialog format that I’m less comfortable with versus the written format that I’m accustomed to, I’m not surprised I have so many worries about whether what I said was good enough or how I could have improved the discussion. When I write race reports or more general blog posts I write, read it, read it again, rewrite, and reread and on and on until I am content with it. To me, it feels like there is more room to make errors and more opportunity to fix those errors with the written format than the recorded dialog. However, the recorded dialog can lead to discussions and topics that never would have percolated out if writing alone. So there truly is a beauty and set of unique benefits to both.

Given the circumstances, I’m happy I took the opportunity to be a guest on Brandon’s podcast. I still haven’t heard the recording yet at this point, but if nothing else the experience allowed me to have an hour-long chat with another runner all about ultrarunning. And maybe the most valuable lesson I learned as a result was that it reminded me to be grateful to my wife for making it possible for me to pursue my passion while maintaining a healthy family life with our kids at home. Additionally, it reminded me that I should let her know how thankful I am for that more often. So, with that final thought, here is what my answer should have been during the podcast:

I couldn’t do what I do without my saint of a wife, Amanda. Without her endless support my running achievements would not have been possible. She has encouraged me and pushed me to achieve more than I thought I was capable of on many occasions. She has helped me become a better version of myself than the self that I knew or thought I was destined to be. From helping me to carve time out of our busy family and work lives to generously applying lubricant to my severely chafed body parts, she has been one of my greatest blessings in my running life and beyond. Weekends that would have been just me getting away by myself for a race weekend became mini vacation family camping trips with Amanda caring for the kids while I’m out running overnight. Those types of trips mean excess stress and work on her end and extra special aid station support and finish line moments for me when my entire family is waiting there for me.

We have a friend who says that Amanda is “too nice for this world”. I couldn’t agree more. I know it’s meant as a compliment, but I could understand how if taken from a different perspective it could sound like someone pointing out a flaw. Although, at least in my opinion, if a person’s greatest shortcoming is being too nice for this world then it is the world that is at fault, not the person. It’s not that Amanda is too nice for this world; it’s that this world isn’t nice enough for her.



Scott Snell
July 31, 2021

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Science In Sport Gels - HUGE DISCOUNT!!!



If you’re reading this then that means you must want to know how I managed to get 84 Science In Sport gels for just $52.36 and how you can do the same or even get up to 90 gels for the same price if it’s your first time ordering from the Science In Sport website!


Step 1: Follow this link and enter your email address. This step gets you a free 6 count gels taster pack.

Step 2: Next fill your cart with any combination of 6 count gel packs that are on clearance for $4.40 each until you have a total of 14 packs (Total = $61.60). The flavors at that price point include cherry, pineapple, and tutti-frutti.

Step 3: Check out - At checkout, enter promo code “SIS-BIBRAVE-21” for 15% off. Your total should now be $52.36 which still surpasses the $49 threshold for free shipping.


Congrats! You just got a great deal on some quality gels! Enjoy!












Friday, April 23, 2021

Adventure Trail Run - 24 Hour Event 2021


My first place overall finisher award!

It’s been about 3 days since the finish of the Adventure Trail Run - 24 Hour Event as I begin this report. Other than some sore toes from a few blisters that developed under my nails and minor muscle aches in my quads and calves, I’m feeling mostly recovered. For a 24 hour effort, the physical recovery seemed pretty quick and not too painful. It’s more the mental recovery that’s a little harder to move past with this race. It’s not that I’m not proud of the effort I put forth or what I did achieve. The truly stinging part of replaying all the scenes in my mind of how those 24 hours were spent is how close I came to nailing my top goal while just falling a little short. I had a very specific goal for this race: to break the course record of 108 miles. My final official mileage was 103.1 when I stopped with about a half hour left on the clock. When it’s that close for a nearly 24 hour effort, the “what if”s and “if only”s seem to breed and multiply in your brain.

The night sky the whining before the race.

The Adventure Trail Run is a timed trail running event held at Prince William Forest Park (National Park Service) in Triangle, VA. This year was the 15th anniversary of the event and they offered 8 hour solo, 4 person relay 24 hour, and solo 24 hour options. While I chose the solo 24 hour because I had never run that race format before and I wanted to test myself with that style of race, the 4 person 24 hour relay option definitely seemed like a fun way to spend a weekend running with friends.

Just before the start!

The course was basically a lollipop design with a 1 mile out and back to a 4 mile loop. The 1 mile out and back section was definitely the most challenging in my opinion. It was probably the most consistently technical section of the course with seemingly endless stretches of jagged rocks and ankle breaking exposed roots. It also had many short but steep climbs and descents to deal with. During the first mile of the race, I immediately thought I’d have to reevaluate my goals as I wasn’t expecting that technical of a course. Thankfully, the 4 mile loop was far more runnable. In addition to the technicality of that entirely narrow single track section was the fact that it was also the section of the course where you had to deal with two way traffic of runners. Since this was a relatively small event (around 100 runners) it didn’t present a major problem, but with 50k and 100k runners on the course at the same time as the 24 hour runners, it did feel a bit congested to me on a few occasions.

My gear for the race.

The 4 mile loop section of the course was a totally different story. Even the more technical sections, climbs, and descents were more runnable than the initial 1 mile out and back. This year the loop was run in a counterclockwise direction. Apparently the race reverses direction of the loop every year. From the start of the loop to the halfway point fluid only aid station was nearly all smooth, buttery, flat single track trails with the exception of a short climb with a couple switchbacks and few technical rocky sections where you had to be careful of your footing. Immediately after the aid station was a short stretch of boardwalk to run on and then the longest sustained climb of the course. The climb followed a stretch of what appeared to be a fire road for about a half mile and up about 150 feet. The rest of the loop was all single track trail with a few technical rooty sections and a few short climbs, but nothing too intense.

My cabin for the night before the race.

I alluded to it earlier about how the race went in my first paragraph, and I’ll expand on that now. I set what may have been a lofty goal for myself: to break the course record of 108 miles. Obviously, I came up a little short with my final official mileage of 103.1. It’s an especially disheartening form of failure when you’re on pace for your goal for so long and come so close to your goal, but it just very slowly becomes more and more apparent over the course of 24 hours of hard effort and battling exhaustion that it is increasingly unlikely of being attained. For the first 50k I was maintaining a pace faster than necessary and building in a bit of a cushion as I was pretty sure I would slow down for the last 12 hours and the early hours of the morning. As the day wore on and fatigue and exhaustion began to build, I checked my overall pace on my watch ever more frequently hoping to stay under that 12:48 pace that I had calculated I needed to hit my goal. I wasn’t exactly sure if or when my pace would roll over that threshold, so I continued to push on in hopes that I could fend off the ever slowing pace that my watch was reporting.

The inside of the cabin.

Initially it was mostly the aid station stops between loops that seemed to be the primary cause of my slowing pace. I’d check my watch going into and leaving and consistently find my pace slowed by about 10 seconds per mile with each pass through. I tried to get through more efficiently, but filling bottles, emptying gel packages, grabbing more gel packages, and eventually eating some real food all takes time. I was great through the 50k mark when all my calories came from gels and hydration, but when I started feeling the need to add some real food for calories my aid station stops tended to take a bit longer. The data shows that my slowest mile (with an aid station stop) up to the 50k mark was 15:55 and my overall average pace was 11:25 per mile.

A temporary tattoo I tried it for the race.

I still felt good and had hopes of hitting my goal even at the 50 mile mark. I was still at an overall pace of 12:31 per mile. I knew it was going to be close and a struggle at that point, but I thought it might still happen. But then around the 100k mark my pace began to suffer a bit more and my aid stops became more damaging to my overall pace. It was right around that point that my overall average pace rolled beyond my goal threshold and jumped to 12:50 per mile. Although this was a disheartening point for me, it didn’t crush me or make me want to quit. Even if I wasn’t going to hit my goal, I still wanted to get as close as possible. I held on to hope that things could still turn around. I was only about 13 hours into a 24 hour race at that point.

Most of my gel packaging.

Unfortunately, things never really turned around. I never got that major energy burst that I hoped for to put me back within reach of my goal. Things never got really bad either. I continued to move steadily and well, just not well enough. With about 8 hours left in the race the race director let me know that second place was only about 40 minutes behind me. That gave me a bit of a boost of motivation to pick up my pace for a couple laps, but it still wasn’t enough for me to get back to my target pace. As the 24 hour clock began to wind down, I finished my last full lap to hit the 100 mile mark with about an hour and 20 minutes left. I knew I wouldn’t complete another full loop, but I could get credit for a half loop if I made it to the midway aid station before the clock ran out. There was no reason not to keep going, so off I went for three more miles. I reached the midway aid station with about a half hour left in the race and called it there.

Preparing for the drive home.

With that half hour left to burn at the end of my race, I immediately began thinking about how many more minutes I would have needed to run the last 3 miles to finish that final lap which would have tied the course record. I thought another 15 would have gotten me damn close; 20 would have pretty much guaranteed it. After looking at my data, those thoughts turned out to be pretty accurate. My average pace for the last 20 miles without aid station stops was just over 15 minutes per mile. An extra 15 minutes may have gotten me back home to tie the course record. But where would that time have come from? I know I could have saved some time during my aid station stops. My 7 slowest miles included an aid station stop and clocked in at an average of 21:05 per mile; there is definitely room for improvement there.

At the finish!

And then that’s where the brain games start getting out of hand. If only I had changed shirts faster. If I had packed a 2 liter of Coke in my cooler instead of wasting time to have a cup filled at the aid station I would have saved a few minutes there. If I had eaten those 2 perogies while walking instead of while standing at the aid station I may have shaved off another 2 minutes. It’s all enough to drive you crazy at some point. It’s also enough to make you question why I can’t just be happy with a first place finish at my first 24 hour race. It’s not that I’m not happy about my performance or the win I managed to get. I’m proud of both of those accomplishments. But I don’t think it would be a healthy reaction to set a goal, not reach it, and then not at least be somewhat disappointed about it. It’s kind of the point of a goal. You set it, you aim for it, you work for it, you struggle to reach it. And after all of that, if you come so close but fall slightly short, you should be disappointed in my opinion regardless of other circumstances such as overall race placement which was irrelevant to my goal anyway. Maybe that’s wrong. Maybe I’m ungrateful. Maybe I set my expectations too high. Whatever it is, this one is taking some time to process completely. Regardless of failing to reach my goal, I am happy with my performance and what it indicates about my fitness level and ability to endure and continue to move forward despite a mentally challenging circumstance. It gave me an indication of what I may be capable of at my next race, Pennsylvania’s first backyard ultra, the Keystone Backyard!

Recovery time.





Scott Snell

April 22, 2021












Saturday, February 6, 2021

Why I’m Running the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K

 

"Disclaimer: I received a free registration to the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"



It’s Virtual and Won’t Be Cancelled!

If 2020 taught me anything, it’s that life is unpredictable. I never expected movie theaters, restaurants, and parks to be shut down due to a global pandemic, but it happened. As such, most of my running goals had to be postponed as they were based on events that were cancelled. I don’t know what this year entails. I am hopeful that in person racing will return, but I’m hedging my bets by diversifying with some virtual options like the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K. It’s a race that I know will not get cancelled and gives me a dependable goal with a set deadline to work towards.

  

It’s Been Awhile Since I Tried to Run Fast.

I haven’t run an actual race shorter than an ultra distance in almost two years and I was feeling the need for some extra motivation to do some speedwork. What better way to motivate myself to do some faster runs and speedwork than to sign up for a 15K? With it having been so long since I pushed my pace for any amount of time, I’m excited to see what kind of time I’m able to pull off. It also makes it particularly challenging to set a time goal. My base goal, which I think I should be able to achieve is to run sub 8 minute miles. My upper tiered goal is to finish in under 1:10.


St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the Official Charity Partner.

The mission of St. Jude Children’s Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. I love what they stand for as a nonprofit organization and the fact that no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food. 

Additionally, St. Jude Children's Hospital has consistently received high ratings from from Charity Navigator. Their most recent is a four star rating, the highest rating possible, with 100/100 for accountability and transparency and 87.87/100 in financial. 


My Kids Like Chocolate!

The final reason I registered for the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K is a simple one: because my kids are pretty big fans of hot chocolate. Each Virtual Run registration includes a Chocolate Finisher’s Kit! They serve delicious dark chocolate that is gluten free and has no compounds. It's not a problem for me, but if you have a nut allergy; no worries! Their chocolate is nut free. I figured I’ll run it and share the hot chocolate swag with them. We’ll both get some of our favorites; it will be a win win!

 
If you’re planning to sign up, use code “BRHC20” to receive a free Hot Chocolate running hat with your swag package!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Egg Nog Slog - 48 Ounces of Egg Nog Over the Course of a One Mile Sprint - What Could Go Wrong?




So Christmas 2020 was a little different than past ones. And why shouldn’t it have been, pretty much all of 2020 felt out of the ordinary thanks to COVID. This year we found ourselves at home rather than visiting family. Without the family visits that our normal holiday routine revolves around, I tried to do something a bit festive that all of our friends and family near and far could enjoy. I ran an egg nog mile. There was also still the question of whether I would enjoy it or not.

Beast Coast Trail Running Scott Snell prepping for an egg nog mile.
Southern Comfort Egg Nog!
 
I first heard of and thought about doing this in early December. I figured since COVID had forced me to cancel the Annual Fourth of July Hot Dog Run, this would be a fun event to fill the gap that was still vacant since the summer. I initially intended to just do a single serving (4 oz) per quarter mile. Then I started doing a bit of research, to determine how much egg nog one had to drink to run an egg nog mile. The first virtual egg nog mile event I found required participants to drink 1 pint (16 oz) of egg nog every quarter mile. When I saw this I backed off and decided that I did not want to chug a half gallon of egg nog while running a mile. But I did more research. I found a video of the egg nog mile world record which used the beer mile standard of 12 oz per quarter mile. Then I became aware of a virtual egg nog mile hosted by a NJ based group (Sassquad Trail Runners) that only required participants to consume 8 oz of egg nog per quarter mile. I concluded that the egg nog mile has not yet reached the widely accepted standardized level of the beer mile so whatever I chose to do wouldn’t be wrong. I opted to go with the 12 oz per quarter mile to remain consistent with the beer mile standard and to avoid chugging an entire half gallon of nog.

Beast Coast Trail Running Scott Snell drinking egg nog for an egg nog mile.
First glass down!

The anticipation for the run was a bit unnerving. Mentally I was preparing to eventually spew all of the egg nog back up at some point. The thought of which in itself unsettled my stomach. I’m not a huge egg nog fan to begin with, but I will have an occasional glass around Christmas. However, it’s usually a few servings for the entire month of December, not 12 servings chugged while running a mile. While preparing the morning of the event I was spending entirely too much time imagining what egg nog would taste like in projectile vomit form.

While combating this internal struggle, I set up the Facebook live stream so friends and family could watch in real time. Shortly after going live, the clock started and I chugged my first glass of egg nog. It went down quickly and didn’t upset my stomach. I made the quarter mile out and back on our street and grabbed my next glass. The second one was tougher to get down. Not because of stomach issues, it was just that I was breathing heavy from sprinting the quarter and was having trouble to down the thick egg nog while trying to catch my breath for the next run. My stomach still felt fine during the second quarter and I actually picked up the pace a little during that lap. The third glass took a little longer to drink and my stomach started feeling full while chugging it. It didn’t feel like it was upset, just full. I got it down and still managed to run my third quarter faster than my first. The last glass was the toughest to drink. At one point while trying to chug it I gagged a little and thought that I might barf. Thankfully I didn’t and was able to get it down and run my final lap.

Beast Coast Trail Running Scott Snell running an egg nog mile.
Focused on the time.

I felt the egg nog in my stomach the most during this final lap. It didn’t feel like I was going to lose it while running, but I could feel it just sloshing around in there. I finished in about 8:27 without any vomiting penalties (breakdown of time in table below). Once finished I began feeling the worst of it. I was having hot flashes and wondering if I was about to vomit at any moment as I pushed my kids on the swing in our front yard. It wasn’t pleasant, but it passed after a couple hours. By dinner time I was pretty much feeling back to normal.


The egg nog I drank contained 190 calories per serving. My 12 servings during the mile I ran delivered a whopping 2,280 calories into my system in less than 8.5 minutes. No wonder why I felt like I was going to vomit. Would I recommend others to try this? Yes! Would I do it again? Again, yes! But not until next Christmas and hopefully in person with more people.

Scott Snell
December 30, 2020


Time Breakdown:

Monday, December 21, 2020

2020 Goals Review


I’ve had the intention of beginning to write this 2020 running goals assessment blog for a week or two now. I’ve been thinking about it, but 2020 was anything but a typical year. How do I even attempt to objectively assess what progress I have made towards my goals when the very structure (organized races in this situation) pretty much ceased to exist. I’ve frequently heard this year described as a “dumpster fire” and I believe that many of the people using that term have good reason to do so. However, other than the cancelling of in person racing and virtual schooling for my children, I have skated by relatively unscathed by the major impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic. I never even ran out of toilet paper. And for this I am extremely grateful (the whole unscathed thing, I wouldn’t have been that upset about the TP thing; I poop in the woods). Even so, how easy it would have been to just quit on 2020 and not attempt any of my running goals! But I couldn’t have that. I reassessed, recalibrated, and adapted my goals to the new situation.

An effect of this process was my outlook on races and running. Without races, I had to test my beliefs about my true motivation to run. Had I been running to train for races or did I truly enjoy the process of training as I have preached? This idea and method of assessing my running goals developed for me this past weekend during my long run. I wasn’t sure how to approach this blog post and I wanted to run for a few hours so I figured I’d give it some thought while I run. It seems that I come up with more creative ideas and am better at problem solving while running. The ideas usually seem genius to me while running, but too often when I get back home they’ve lost their spark or I’ve completely forgotten them. During this past weekend’s long run I listened to music (something I don’t do regularly while running). A meaningwave song by Akira the Don with excerpts of audio of Jordan Peterson speaking about the value of music came on. While listening to it and running, I realized that what he was saying about music is what I feel about running: the “patterns” I find in a single run or over the course of months of runs with varying tempos, the emotional highs and lows, and the delivery of a feeling of transcendence when everything falls into place and is as it “should” be.

“I think the most accessible form for most people is music.

And music to me is the most representational form of art because I think that the world is made out of patterns.

And we perceive some patterns as objects but fundamentally it’s patterns and what you want is all the patterns of the world to interact harmoniously in something where every element is related intelligibly to every other element.

And I think that when your life is in harmony that you can feel that.

When you’re dancing to beautiful music you’re acting that out.

The music is the music of the spheres and you’re participating in the patterning of your being in accordance with that structure and that gives you an intimation of transcendence.”


---- Jordan Peterson ----


Based on my thoughts and feelings during this run, I don’t think my overall view of running changed, but the value I put on organized races may have been altered. It’s been over a year since I’ve done it, but I think I still love racing. Maybe not for the competition factor as much anymore, but maybe even more so than before for the fact that organized races provide us an opportunity to run some really cool trails in beautiful areas without having to put almost any work in on the logistics side of how to pull it off. 

So with that short introduction, or maybe it was a tangent, here’s my 2020 goals assessment....


2020 Goals:
  1. Run at least one 24 hour event (scratched)
  2. PR longest distance in a single run (>104.8 miles) (complete)
  3. Complete my "Run Every Single Street" of Egg Harbor Township project (progressed)
  4. Run at least one “last person standing” event (scratched)
  5. Volunteer at a local race with my son (altered)
With pretty much all running events cancelled (including the 24 hour race I was registered for), goals 1 and 4 were scratched from the list. I can’t very well run a race if races aren’t happening. I had intended to get my longest distance run accomplished at the 24 hour event that was cancelled. Even with races cancelled, this was something I could still complete. I did so by going after an FKT longer than any race I had ever run, the Batona trail out and back (about 106 miles). It wasn’t that much farther than what had been my longest distance (104.8 miles). I had hoped to increase that distance PR by more than just a mile or two, but an FKT had been on my “to do” list for a while and it would complete one of my goals. I would be able to at least check one goal off of my list and maybe still leave room to improve my distance PR next year.

Goal number 5 could have been scratched altogether for the same reason as goals 1 and 4, but I decided to alter it a bit and complete an adjusted goal. Rather than volunteering at a local race with my son as I had intended, we helped out with a couple organized clean ups along a multi use path that I run on occasionally. It wasn’t as much fun as I had expected volunteering at a trail race with my son would have been, but again I was forced to adapt to the situation. Rather than just give up and do nothing, I wanted to do something. I thought this was a good compromise that would still benefit the running community in my area. 

Last is goal number 3, to complete my “Run Every Single Street” of Egg Harbor Township project. This goal is the only one that was not impacted due to COVID-19 restrictions. Yet I still didn’t complete it. I’ve made quite a bit of progress as I am at almost 50% complete, but that’s only about the halfway point. Why didn’t I complete this one? The main reason is because of the self imposed rules or restrictions I have put on myself and the manner in which I intend to complete this project. When I started, I had planned to drive to starting points to run new streets once I surpassed the 25% complete threshold. Well, 25% came and went and I continued starting all of my runs to reach new streets from home. This of course adds lots of miles as I am “rerunning” the same roads to reach new roads. Is this the right way to do it? Is it the wrong way? I guess that’s part of what intrigued me with these every single street projects.The rules are up to you. Could I have finished by now if I had been driving to new starting points? Maybe. But I’d still like to see how close I can get to 100% before resorting to that option. 


So that was my running review of 2020. Definitely not the year I had hoped for, but I think that goes for everyone. I still got to run plenty of miles and achieved an FKT that I hadn’t even planned to go after so it’s not like it was all bad. I hope everyone else isn’t too disappointed with how their 2020 turned out and that they were able to find some silver linings somewhere along the way. Cheers to all, happy new year and here’s to hoping that all of your running dreams come true in 2021!



Scott Snell
December 21, 2020

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Runderwear Winter Gear Review - Base Layer and Neck Warmer




Disclaimer: I received a Runderwear Men’s Running Base Layer and Neck Warmer to review as part of being a Runderwear Ambassador.


I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it several times in this blog in the past, and I am sure I have made the statement multiple times on social media posts: I prefer hot weather running over cold weather running. I think I’m more of a minority amongst runners with this preference, but given the option of running in swamp ass, hot and humid conditions versus bitterly cold freezing temperatures, I’ll choose the swamp ass every time. With that said, maintaining my motivation and desire to run over the course of colder winter temperatures and shorter daylight hours becomes quite a challenge for me at times. Which makes the winter running gear I use an even more important factor in whether I stick to my training plans.


I received two winter running gear items from Runderwear: the Men’s Running Base Layer and a Neck Warmer. I tested both this past holiday weekend while running trails at Hartshorne Woods and Huber Woods in Monmouth County, NJ. Conditions were mild for late November with daily highs ranging from 55-62 F. I planned to be out for some longer days (an 18 miler and a 10 miler) on the trails, so I wanted to wear something that would keep me warm during the cooler part of the day and not make me feel overheated during the warmer part of the day. I went out wearing only the Runderwear Men’s Running Base Layer and a Neck Warmer above a pair of shorts. It turned out to be the perfect compromise for warmth and comfort throughout the varying temperatures of the day.

Men’s Running Base Layer
The Men’s Running Base Layer was designed for cold weather running with its moisture wicking fabric to keep you dry and warm in cold conditions. The fabric provides dynamic heat control with its mesh panels that contain micro perforations that increase breathability which assists with moisture (sweat) removal from your skin helping to keep your core temperature stabilized. The shirt design, like their underwear, is completely seamless and label-free further reducing any risk of chafing. All keeping in line with Runderwear’s chafe-free guarantee.


There’s not a lot of print on it, but the print that is there is hyper reflective. I found this out as I was making the short run back from the county park to the house as it got dark. I was regretting not bringing my headlamp as I ran on the side of a road with an extremely narrow shoulder, thinking what a terrible choice it was to wear a nearly all black long sleeve. I got nervous every time I saw a set of headlights, but noticed the reflection of the Runderwear logo and print on the front of my base layer which provided a bit of comfort.

The last feature of the running base layer that really stood out to me while testing it out was the foldable sleeve ends. The sleeve ends are designed to fold out and over your hands providing built mittens at the end of your shirt sleeves. It wasn’t cold enough that I needed mittens, but I thought the feature was super ingenious, convenient, and well thought out. It’s a well designed feature as the extra material at the end of the sleeves doesn’t feel bulky and is barely even noticeable until unfolded over your hands. I could see this feature being extremely handy for those cooler days when it’s too cold for bare hands, but warm enough that your hands get sweaty when you put gloves on. I’ve had those days where it feels like I’m constantly putting on and taking off my gloves.


Neck Warmer
The Runderwear Neck Warmer is on par with that other really popular neck warmer/face covering company that rhymes with “fluff”. It’s comfortable, breathable, and multifunctional. It can be worn as a bandana, head covering, face covering, or as a neck warmer, obviously. What sets it apart from that other popular band? Not a whole lot other than competitive pricing at only $5 a piece. That and the color perfectly matches other Runderwear attire. So if coordinated running outfits tickle your fancy, this neck warmer just might be your jam.

The neck warmer was especially useful for me as a face covering when passing others on the trail. With New Jersey’s mandatory face covering policy when social distancing can not be maintained (such as on a narrow trail), the face covering was perfect. I could wear it around my neck as a neck warmer and simply slide it up over my mouth and nose when I passed other trail users.

  

All in all, I’m very impressed with the Runderwear winter running gear after my initial weekend test runs. Although they started as a company specializing in running underwear, they have expanded and made other high quality running attire. I was already sold on their blister free socks and chafe-free underwear, but now I’m a fan of their winter running attire as well.

Scott Snell 
December 1, 2020