Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Awesome

Wednesday: stairs, lots of them, followed by treadmill time
Thursday: strength training and elliptical
Friday: rest

Just about done with 29 weeks and few more to go. Since there is not a whole lot of running going on in my life, my friend Eric agreed to guest post about crushing the new Badwater course last month. Enjoy and happy Friday!!

Badwater 2014: A Rookie's Perspective

(Fair warning before reading this post: It’s a bit lengthy.  But, look at this way.  You could be spending your time doing something productive like working.  Isn’t reading about Badwater so much more worthwhile?  Don’t ask your boss that question.)

In the just over two years since I’ve been running ultramarathons, I’ve known the entire time that one day I would do the Badwater Ultramarathon.  At first, running 50 miles and then 100 miles in a race was a challenge (and still is, trust me), but my life has always been about exploring physical and mental limits.  Running 135 miles in a combination of desert and mountainous terrain had a certain lure for me.
It’s been quite a ride in the 2+ years that I’ve run ultras.  It truly has changed not only my running life, but also how I approach every obstacle I face personally and professionally.  And it’s even given me my very own nickname “Drakkar Noir.”  This was coined by Dave Krupski because apparently I looked way to fresh and clean around mile 60 of an ultra.  Hey, there are worse things than people thinking you smell GREAT during an ultra, so I even put “Drakkar Noir” on my custom race shirts now.  You’ve got to own it.
As you may have read in last year’s three-part series on this blog (thanks Lianne for letting me borrow it once again), I was at Badwater to crew and pace for Australian Grant Maughan, a.k.a. The Dingofish Express.  Grant was a machine last year.  I was proud to simply have been part of his support team as he surprised the entire Badwater field and finished in 2nd in his first running of the race.  After experiencing Badwater in-person last year I felt like part of the Badwater family.  Not surprisingly, I knew in mid-July last year that I was 100% going to apply for the 2014 version of the race.
Then a funny thing happened—well not really funny actually.  Death Valley National Park issued a ban (they say it’s temporary, but we’ll see) on all sporting events in the park.  This presented a major problem since Badwater itself and the famous Badwater sign (282 feet below sea level) are right square in the middle of Death Valley.  I won’t get into the politics of all of this because enough has been written about Death Valley National Park and the Superintendent behind this ridiculous “safety related” ruling.  Suffice it to say that no one has ever died doing Badwater or been hospitalized; however, tourists and amateur hikers die every single year, not to mention the traffic fatalities.
In any case, the 2014 course was adjusted this year to begin in Lone Pine, CA rather than at the Badwater sign.  Before you go thinking that we got off easy because it was only 95-105 degrees for parts of the race, instead of 120 degrees or higher, let me stop you there.  I’m not going to compare this year’s course to the traditional route and claim one is harder or easier than the other, because, in fairness, I’ve never raced the traditional one.  I’ve run the tougher parts of it in 130 degree temperatures, but not the entire 135 mile course.  What I will say is that this year’s course had some CLIMBS.  I mean some nasty ones.  Coming from South Florida, where our biggest climbs are about 50 feet over bridges, this was a whole new ballgame.
See elevation profile below:

So, in a sense, we were all rookies on the first 90 miles of the course with the addition of the climb to Horseshoe Meadows—a 23-mile climb from Lone Pine to start the race that climbed over 6,000 feet to an altitude of just under 10,000 (and then 23 miles of hard downhill running), in addition to the 15-mile out-and-back climb from Keeler up to an actual ghost town at Cerro Gordo.  That 2nd climb is one of the steepest grades I’ve ever been on in my life—climbing just under 5,000 feet in just 7.5 miles or so.  More on that later.  The final 45 miles from Darwin to the Mount Whitney Portal at 8,400 feet were the same as on the traditional course.  Getting to that point was going to be the challenge though.
Even though I knew about the Death Valley ruling early in 2014, I was excited to be not only one of the 100 people accepted into Badwater, but also that I would be doing the Badwater Ultra Cup in its inaugural year.  This year’s Badwater Ultra Cup consisted of: Badwater Cape Fear on March 22nd—a 52-mile race primarily on the beach sand on Bald Head Island, NC; Badwater Salton Sea—an 81-mile race from the Salton Sea across the desert to the top of Palomar Mountain with the unique format of it being a three-person race (not a relay, the team had to finish together)—I did this as part of team: Run It Fast, with Joshua Holmes and Juli Goldstein, and I’m happy to say we made it and didn’t kill each other on the way; finally Badwater itself to round out the Ultra Cup. This year, 7 people finished all 3 races, and I toughed it out to be one of the seven.
Here are all of my race numbers and of course the buckles from the Ultra Cup:
But getting back to the race, I spent months studying the new course and more importantly assembling my awesome support crew of: Ian Sharman (my coach and one of the top ultrarunners in the world), Dave Krupski (my friend, a Badwater vet, and one of the top FL ultrarunners), Smith Jean-Baptiste—a.k.a. Smitty—another badass FL ultrarunner, and Eric Friedman—the President and Founder of the Florida Ultra Runners.  All 4 of them have either raced Badwater or crewed/paced at Badwater before.  They’ve also all finished multiple 100 mile events.  I jokingly told Badwater RD, Chris Kostman, that I had the fastest crew I could find.  So I knew I was in good hands.  And of course I can’t forget my girlfriend, Meg, who was making her 3rd crewing experience this year and makes my races so much more rewarding by keeping my spirits up—even in tough moments.
All of us arrived a few days early to Lone Pine, and, to pay homage to Badwater itself, we spent Saturday in Death Valley doing a combination of a training run in 120 degree heat, taking hilarious photos (see below), drinking beer on sand dunes, swimming in the pool at Stovepipe Wells, and just enjoying the majesty of the desert.

Once Sunday came around, the reality started to set in.  I would be competing in the Badwater Ultramarathon the next morning in the final start wave with the likes of so many competitors whom I look up to and whose running achievements I’ve followed for years.  While it was a powerful feeling to know that I was being grouped with these incredible individuals, I was apprehensive.  It didn’t matter that I had a broken toe from a week ago or that injuries have limited my training in 2014.  Come sunrise on Monday, excuses would no longer be accepted.
From some combination of fear and excitement, you can imagine how well I slept the night before.  Let’s just say that my iPhone alarm wasn’t really necessary.  It wasn’t so much the distance or the 2 new climbs, neither of which I had seen—but had heard were incredibly difficult.  It was my expectations for my time and place in the race.  I knew I would finish.  I just didn’t know how quickly.  With those thoughts racing through my mind, I was up by 5 A.M., taking in some calories, doing final gear checks, and trying to zone out listening to music. 
But for all of those pre-race jitters, as we walked from the Dow Villa Motel (the race headquarters) over to the starting line a few blocks away, I was kind of at peace.  I could see Mount Whitney looming directly above me, and I knew that in 122 miles, I would have to find a way to climb those final 5,000 feet or so to the finish line. 
Here is Team Spencer walking to the start:
Before the race, while the 8 A.M. wave featuring most of the contenders in the race (the 6 A.M. and 7 A.M. waves had already departed up the mountain to Horseshoe Meadows) did final checks and spoke to their crews, you could see how much this mattered to everyone.  Normally talkative runners had nervous looks on their faces.  An incredibly talented field had been assembled, and all of them were tackling a course that was largely unknown to them. 
Just before the start, I was able to catch up with my friend and Badwater Salton Sea teammate, Joshua Holmes.  Josh and I had planned to run a very similar time (hopefully 32 hours), so I knew I’d be seeing a lot of him on the course.  Josh had beaten me in the only two ultras we had both run in 2013, so I jokingly said that I wanted him as a teammate for Salton Sea because I was tired of losing to him.  More on our Badwater battle later.
As we assembled on the starting line, I’ll admit to being completely out of my depth.  I had Dave Goggins (the U.S. Navy SEAL) over my right shoulder, Pam Reed next to me, Grant Maughan in front of me, and Harvey Lewis (who would eventually win) to my left.  How did I get here again?  The National Anthem was an emotional moment, best captured by this photo:
Here’s a great shot looking down the starting line:
Just seconds before the start I looked up and to my left at the switchbacks doing to Horseshoe Meadows—easily visible even from miles away in Lone Pine.  The thought of starting a race in which I would be climbing for nearly 23 consecutive miles was daunting.  Almost an entire marathon uphill to begin a 135-mile race.  I just kept telling myself, “This is what you wanted!  Did you think they handed out Badwater buckles for free?”
And then, a few moments later, we were off.  Well, I should say most of us were moving at typical slow ultra pace to get started.  Except Harvey Lewis.  He took off like it was a damn 5k.  I remember getting to the first turn somewhere around 20th place out of 30+ people in the starting wave and looking ahead to what I thought was the lead pack.  At least 200 yards ahead and widening that gap was Harvey.  I’m told by my crew that at mile 4 (where the crew vehicle was allowed to rejoin runners) that he was ahead by nearly half a mile.  Simply incredible.  Most people who try to send that early message to the field in a marathon or farther pay a heavy price later on.  To Harvey’s credit, he’s a world-class runner, and he knew what he was doing, and it worked out.
On that first climb, my goal was to make it the 23 miles in around 5 hours and 30 minutes or under.  The plan that Ian and I had come up with was to mostly power-hike in 14 minutes/mile and then run when it was flattish or at least not too steep. 
By about mile 8, I realized one problem that would plague me for the next 127 miles or so.  I needed to find a toilet pronto.  Fortunately, there was a porta potty at mile 9, and I took full advantage.  However, this theme would linger.  Whether it was the heat, exertion, elevation changes, or just the specialty drinks and gels that were the bulk of the calories I took in, my stomach hated me.  Number of times nature called (as best I can recall) during the race: 11.  This might be more than in ALL of my previous ultras added up.  I guess, in looking at the glass half full, I somehow DID NOT vomit once in the entire race.  I mean, I came REAL close, but at least the upper half of my body was behaving.
Getting back to the race, I continued to stay near the back of the pack in the 8 A.M. wave and could see the switchbacks to Horseshoe above me.  Here’s a pic of me trying to stay with Amy Costa on the climb.  She would eventually beat me by several hours because she’s a complete rockstar.
Eventually I got to the 7 switchbacks that would take us to just under 10,000 feet.  Keep in mind that Lone Pine, where we started, is at under 4,000 feet of elevation.  Here’s a pic of me on the switchbacks around mile 15.  Look at how far the desert floor is below me (with more climbing to go):
As I continued with my plan, I noticed a couple of things.  Firstly, I was ahead of schedule, which I was happy about.  However, oddly, I wasn’t catching any of the earlier starters and was in the bottom 3 in my starting wave.  That was a bit disconcerting.  I was keeping things under control effort-wise, but, trust me, I was working.  I remember thinking, “I am NOT the 30th best runner in this race.”  Turns out that’s true.  This year I was the 38th best.  But I digress. 
I made it to Horseshow Meadows in 5 hours and 5 minutes, WAY ahead of schedule.  Because this part of the course was an out-and-back, I had seen literally every single competitor pass me heading back down the mountain.  After a quick equipment change and bathroom break, I was off down the mountain road and clocking 10-11 minute miles.  It was honestly easy to do that.  What was hard was using my quads to brake.  Without them I would have been a runaway train going downhill.  I would pay for using those quads later.
I managed to pass a few people from the 8 A.M. wave and catch several people from the 6 A.M. and 7 A.M. waves as I came down off the mountain.  However, I started to really get overheated.  My crew did what they could with spraying me down and changing my ice bandana, but the heat took its toll.  It made it tough for me to eat or drink, so I went largely without calories for a number of miles. 
Finally, around 9 hours and 45 minutes later, I reached the Dow Villa Motel at Mile 45.  To say that I was overheated and already pretty beat up only 1/3 of the way through the race was an understatement.  I sat on one of our coolers in the parking lot while my crew frantically tried to ice down parts of my body to get my core temperature under control.  In the midst of this, Ian noticed two women walking towards us to say hello to him.  I recognized them both right away.  It was ultra legends Jenn Shelton and Krissy Moehl.  They were in town to try to break the Fastest Known Time (FKT) on the John Muir Trail.
Jenn came over and tried to encourage me while Meg massaged my shoulders.  Seizing on the moment, Ian asked Jenn and Krissy to take a picture with me even though I was miserable at that point.  So, to put that into perspective, the man with the fastest 100-mile time in a trail race on U.S. soil (Sharman) took a photo of me with Jenn Shelton (who has the female record for 100 miles) and Krissy Moehl (who’s been consistently racing and winning major ultras for over a decade), while my girlfriend massaged me.  Yeah, life doesn’t suck some times.
Following the taking of that photo I couldn’t wallow in my own misery.  I just hoped some of that incredible ultra talent surrounding me would rub off a bit.  Dave got me back out on the road, walking at first, and eventually running by the time we made the turn towards Keeler and the start of the climb to Cerro Gordo.  Now that I was running with the sun behind me and the temperature dropped a bit, I felt a charge go through me.  I could see crew vehicles lined up near their runners for miles down the 12 mile stretch.  Once the sun went down I really picked it up.  My goal was “find the next headlamp or red flashing light” that each competitor was wearing.  It became a mental game.  Win the battle to the next runner. 
I reached mile 59 and the start of the climb up to Cerro Gordo in just under 14 hours.  This was almost 2 hours slower than I had hoped, but I had to budget energy for 76 more miles of racing and two brutal climbs.  At the trailhead, I definitely saw my fair share of carnage—runners looking nearly comatose in chairs and even on the ground while their crews frantically tried to get them moving.  Keep in mind they hadn’t even done the tough 15 mile out-and-back climb to Cerro Gordo yet.
Because the route to Cerro Gordo was all on a dirt fire road/trail, the crew vehicle wasn’t allowed to accompany me, so only Ian was allowed to go up as my sole pacer.  Not that it was remotely challenging for him. He even carried all manner of warmer clothing (we feared it might be in the 30’s or 40’s with the wind chill up at the top).  Unfortunately, the opposite happened.  I sweated entirely through my shirt in the first mile from a combination of the heat in the canyon in which we found ourselves and also from the exertion.  By about mile 2 of the climb, the tail end of the Top 10 were passing me on their way down.   They definitely looked strong.  I was reduced to simply power-hiking with occasional 1-2 minute breaks.  I struggled to take down calories (even though Ian basically demanded that I did).  At one point, I just stopped talking.  I needed all of my breath, and I simply nodded or shook my head when asked questions. 
At mile 5 of the climb—a decent way up, but still a steep climb away from the turnaround—I heard a familiar voice.  I honestly thought I was hallucinating (which I did at mile 134…more on that later).  It was the distinctive voice of Oswaldo Lopez coming down the trail.  I’m only 4 miles behind Oswaldo?  Given that he was a pre-race favorite and my current pace was fairly turtle-like, this shocked me.  When I could see him with my headlamp, I could tell he was struggling.  I told him to hang in there, and he walked out of his way to come over and say, “You can do it my friend.”  A true ambassador of the sport.  Oswaldo would end up dropping out shortly thereafter, but I’m told that he was at the Dow Villa cheering on other runners about to tackle Mount Whitney several hours later, even though his race was done.  That’s first class right there folks!
At the water station at mile 64 (right where I saw Oswaldo), Chris Frost a tough Badwater vet, came over to ask how I was doing.  He was manning the aid station and told me it was about 2 more steep miles (like 900-1000 ft/mile steep) until the top.  I jokingly asked, “Is there another route that involves your truck and me riding in the back?”  Not missing a beat, he said, “Sure.  Of course I’d have to take your Bib # from you and then drive you down afterwards.”  I laughed and said that would never happen.  Of course, then I felt bad when literally about an hour later he drove past me taking a runner down who had dropped out at his water station just minutes after I made my comment.
After what seemed like 8 hours from Keeler to cover the 7.5 miles (it was really just over 3 hours), Ian and I reached the ghost town at Cerro Gordo.  I celebrated reaching the top by using the outhouse.
We started our descent, and while I could run a bit here and there, it became clear how trashed my legs and body already were.  I knew my 32 hour goal left town a long time ago, so it was tough to focus on a new goal.  To think that you have 60+ miles left, most of which will be in the desert sun for a 2nd day is daunting unless you have something to reach for.  For me, it was always just the next runner ahead of me.  I just followed headlamps and tried to block out the pain.
Arriving back at Keeler it felt good to be once again on the actual road and have the crew vehicle be there for support.  I struggled a bit in the gradual climb over 15 miles to Darwin (mile 91).  What picked up my spirits was seeing the runners heading the other way.  I was able to see my friend and the eventual female winner, Aly Venti, go by, as well as Brad Lombardi, Pam Reed, and the rest of the Top 20 or so.  Even though I knew they would beat me by at least 5 hours, it was encouraging to cheer for them and pump them up as they pounded the pavement towards Lone Pine.
At Darwin I finally caught up to Katie Plichta.  I had it in my mind that I might eventually see her, but I wasn’t so sure.  At Badwater Cape Fear, she pretty much kicked my butt up and down the beach before finishing 4th overall and the 1st female.  I also saw the ever-present Mr. Joshua Holmes again.  Even though my time seemed terrible, he was a mere mile ahead of me with 44 miles to go. 
The stretch from Darwin to Lone Pine, while only 31 miles and considered very runnable, for me, was the hardest part.  It was that in-between place in racing.  The mile 20 of marathons.  You’re tired from having come so far, but not yet energized by the prospect of finishing soon.  Again, my focus was just on the next runner ahead.  After passing several people, I could see the Holmes #36 crew vehicle start to drive off each time I got close.  It was like a cruel game.  But I also knew that he was somewhere nearby if I could see the vehicle. 
We hit the 100 mile mark at took a photo.  See below:
Just 35 miles to go.  More stomach issues and overheating ensued for the 22 miles into Lone Pine.  But my crew did what they could and my rotating pacers tried to keep my thinking positive.  Here are a few shots from that stretch of road:

I’m not sponsored by any duct tape manufacturer, but maybe I should be.  Around mile 116, the skin on my left heel just ripped off.  It had been a “hot zone” for hours.  But this was BAD.  I limped over to the crew vehicle.  After getting about 8 different suggestions, I finally just mildly yelled, “Give me the damn duct tape.  Duct tape fixes everything.”  I ripped off a piece, covered my heel, and said, “Let’s do this!”

In a roller coaster of emotions, I actually caught Josh at mile 117.  He was standing with his crew at their vehicle and I ran by with my pacer.  It took me 117 miles, but I had finally passed him.  Minor victory!!!  I wished him good luck and powered ahead.  And I held my lead on Josh for all of about, let’s say, 1 mile!!!  That’s right.  He got his 12th wind and came storming right back past me.  It was a bit demoralizing after just having experienced such a “high” 10 minutes prior, but that’s what happens in these races.  He earned his finishing place at this race.  (Note: He also had one of the fastest climbs up Mount Whitney of anyone in the field.)
After all of the trials and tribulations (and bathroom breaks), I made it to Dow Villa (mile 122).  Because I was so overheated again and mentally really in a low, my crew took desperate measures.  They made me sit in a cold shower fully clothed with my feet (still with shoes and socks on) outside the shower.  I mean I HATE cold showers with a passion, but this one felt damn good.
In an effort to form a new goal, knowing that just 13 miles remained between me and a Badwater finish, I thought of the Sparathlon in Greece, which I plan to run in 2015.  One of the qualifications is to run any race over 125 miles in under 37 hours.  I asked Dave what time it was.  He said it was just after 4:00 P.M.  That meant if I could make it to the Whitney Portal before 9 P.M., I would break 37 hours and hello Sparty next year.
Before I talk about that final climb, I need to give a shout-out to Andy Woods.  Andy is one of the top runners in FL and I recently met him at the Keys 100.  I had seen him on the course a few times during Badwater and could tell he was somewhere around the Top 10.  I was amazed.  He was probably 7-8 hours ahead of me.  When I arrived at Dow Villa (just before my shower), Andy walked out of the medical area and was limping noticeably.  I asked him what his finishing time was thinking he had been done for hours.  The answer I received completely floored me.
Andy wasn’t done yet.  He had staked out at mile 118 or so (meaning he could drive ahead and come back to where he left the course and continue).  He had severe tendon issues with his feet and I believe blisters.  When I saw him, he was just getting ready to head back to his stake.  I couldn’t believe it.  Almost anyone else would have dropped out.  But he wanted to finish.  I thought about Andy’s toughness more than once on my final climb.  That’s what this race is about.  Finding a reason to finish.
(Note: Andy would end up less than an hour behind me in spite of his injuries and having to drive back 4 miles.)
And now the final 13 miles began.  Dave paced me most of this final stretch and his plan was brilliant.  In order to break 37 hours, I needed to bank time in the first 9 miles to the Mount Whitney switchbacks, because once I got there, it would be tough to walk any faster than 20 minutes/mile.  I started clocking 17:30’s almost every single mile.  The passing crew vehicles with their runners who had finished and were now heading down was the biggest pick-me-up of the entire race.  The honking, cheering, and slapping of the sides of their SUVs and vans (the way hockey players slap their sticks on the boards while sitting on the bench) was simply epic.  I nearly cried for probably the 7th time during the race.
I made it to the switchbacks and kept on pounding.  I refused to cross the road to the crew vehicle.  I refused to stop walking, to eat anything, or to switch out my bottle.  I just looked down at the next step and took it, over and over again.

Here’s me around mile 132:
With about a mile to go, it was clear that I was going to break 37 hours.  A certain relief came over me and I wanted to cry for the 8th time.  In that final mile, we rounded the last switchback and I told Dave, “Dude, I’m seriously hallucinating right now.”  I wish we had video of this exchange.  He nonchalantly replied, “Yeah.  I know.”  As if this was just an everyday occurrence.  My hallucination was that lining the Portal Road were giant Lego animals with those big wavy arms that you see at car dealerships.  And they were all waving me on to the finish.  Hey, it could be worse.  At my first 100 miler I hallucinated a charging bull at mile 92.
After so many battles (and bathroom breaks), I rounded the turn and was in the Whitney Portal parking lot.  My entire crew came out to meet me and handed me the American flag.  I ran it in the final 100 yards or so. 
36 hours, 45 minutes, and 49 seconds wasn’t the time I had hoped for coming into the race.  But when you miss two entire weeks of training due to injuries in the month leading up to a race of this magnitude, expectations have to be adjusted.  I will always know for the rest of my life that I gave every ounce of effort out there and ran the race as quickly and strategically as I could, given my fitness level.
Here’s the pic from the finish:
If the emotions on my face aren’t clear in that picture, look at this one that Smitty got just after I crossed:
That is a look of shock and relief all rolled into one.
After receiving the coveted Badwater buckle and a congratulations from Chris Kostman, I took photos with my crew:
And with my #1 fan:
I sat down in a camping chair next to the finish and was literally freezing instantly.  It’s amazing how your body can’t thermoregulate after such an ordeal.  I was wearing a North Face ski jacket and had two blankets covering my legs and I was still shivering.  My crew brought out some beers (I managed one sip) and ordered some of the famous Mount Whitney Portal fries.  I was going to share, but I ate the entire plate in about 3 minutes.  It was the first solid food that I had eaten in almost 24 hours.
The final two experiences at Badwater that cemented what this was all about were when Meg and I drove down Mount Whitney after my finish with the rest of the crew in our other vehicle.  We stopped at every runner and pacer, put the windows down, and offered words of encouragement.  The emotional impact it had was dramatic—much the same as I had experienced earlier.  Almost everyone said “thank you,” but many looked like they were on the verge of stopping and just that little encouragement super-charged them once again.  This is the Badwater family.  We want everyone to finish, and we all do whatever we can to help people reach their goal of making it to that 135 mile mark.
The awards ceremony the next day is always emotional because you just feel ALIVE to be in that room of 90-100 competitors, their crews, and numerous other Badwater vets who were volunteering this year.  The collective running achievements in that elementary school cafeteria in Lone Pine are staggering.  And, just like in every year, every single runner—including those who DNF’d—are recognized.  In fact, the DNF’s get the largest applause, quite simply because everyone knows how difficult this race is and how much time, effort, and money go into making a try at finishing and just how badly it must hurt to not reach that goal.  In ultramarathons, many things can go wrong, and it only takes one that is bad enough to end your day.  It’s a delicate, razor-thin margin on which we operate.
Later that Wednesday night, after the awards ceremony, Meg and I headed to Jake’s Saloon—literally the only bar in Lone Pine, and the gathering spot for the Badwater competitors and crew.  It was fun to finally relax, have a few beers, and then sit with Harvey Lewis and crew at the bar as SportsCenter came on ESPN and they showed video clips of him winning the race.  The entire bar went nuts.  These are the moments that you just can’t put a price on in life.

So that about wraps up this year’s Badwater Ultramarathon and the Badwater Ultra Cup for me.  It was an incredible journey.  But my journey in ultrarunning is merely beginning.  In a couple of days, I’ll be flying to Colorado to spend a week at altitude before tackling my next challenge—the Leadville 100.  It’s time to see what this Florida flatlander can do above 10,000 feet for an entire 100-mile race.  Beyond that, there are too many goals to list.  For now, the Boston Marathon and the Spartathlon in 2015 loom ahead, and I look forward to both with eager anticipation.

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