I am tired

The 2021 racing season has wrapped up for me and it really was not the season I wanted. Two Did not Finishes or DNF’s for the only two 50k’s I did this year. One of which I can get my head around, I badly strained the big toe on my right foot after having it hyper extended in my martial arts class back in June, taking a kick to the toe will do that. The first race though revealed a bigger problem.

I have been an athlete since High School and have always had a nagging performance anxiety that went away once I started competing. This year, for whatever reason, it wrecked my 50k. Call it a lack of sleep, call it getting older call it whatever, I got too into my head and after 17 miles, my mind, body and spirit were not in allignment and I dropped a race.

I think there is a better answer though. I got into long distance running 12 years ago to run off my attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder(ADHD) after completly fucking up my first career as a minister. After using a combination of running, dietary changes and medications, I would go on to get a second master’s degree in mental health counseling, rebuild my career and get after life. In 10 years, I have run somewhere between 40 and 50 ultra endurance (32+ miles) foot races and scores of smaller 5k- half marathons, a number of 12 hour endurance challenges and numerous endurance bike events – in a word, I am tired. I also realize that I am a place where life is relatively stable and my ADHD is not a huge problem anymore. My kids are growing up and one has already left the house for college. Endlless training cycles have taken me away from the home far too much and I really don’t want to miss any more.

Does this mean that I am done? Not really, I am going to take a year off from 50k running. I am still going to train and I have some cool projects coming up. One of these projects is completing a thru bike of the C and O/GAP trail from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh. I have a big endurance event through GORUCK that I will do and a number of endurance bikes and 25k’s are also on the list. Many of these experiences will allow my family to be with me in some capacity.

I got COVID 19 at the end of September and it knocked me out for a month. I end 2021 with 2,000.8 + human powered miles. Good times, riches and sons of a bitches, I have seen more than I can recall.

or put more eloquently by Theodore Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”.

2022 is looking like this:

GO Ruck Triple Basic – July 15

Endurance Runs 25k+:

Dirty Snowflake 4 hour – January 23

Rabid Raccoon – 20 miler – March 19

Allegheny Adventure Run -27 k – April 30

Youngstown Ultra Trail Classic – 25k –

Cooks Forest Highland Scramble – 14 miler

Conquer the Castle – 20 miler

Gravel/Road Adventure Rides:

Parker Dam Gravel – 54 miles – May 14

Roughneck Grabel Roubaix – 40 miles – May 28

Shake out ride on the Pine Creek Trail – 2 day ride

July 3-9 Ride from Pittsburgh – Washington DC on the GAP/C and O trail

Chatauqua Gran Fondo 68 miles August 20

52 Weeks of Healthy Eating- Vacation eating and training

7/8/21- Vacation starts today! Unfortunately it rained all day and I could not play on the gun range and get my 10 mile run in. Instead I am noshing on this amazing Halo Top ice cream. 590 calories for the whole thing. 15 g of carbs. Not the greatest start but it is vacation

7/9/21- Vacation day 2 and more rain, not getting much training in. Today we shopped for supplies for our road trip tomorrow. I took my bride out for dinner tonight at the Riverside Brewing Company in Cambridge Springs, Pa. She had a grilled chicken sandwich and I had the Cuban cheeseburger. My drink if choice was the Prolusion V, an unfiltered pale ale.

7/10- vacation day 3. The day unofficially started at 0330 because I couldn’t sleep. By 0600, the family piled in the van and we headed north to Gloucester, Massachusetts for a nice 13 hour drive. It was smooth sailing for most of the day.

We arrived around 1700, unpacked the van and headed out to dinner. Dinner was at the Saltwater Grille. In keeping with the theme of eating healthy, I had the blackened haddock fish tacos and a local IPA. We had laughter and all around teasing. Our waiter spilled his entire tray of water and we cheered him for almost spilling all the cups.

7/11- day 4 – up at 0600 for a 45 mile bike ride that was supposed to be gravel/ cyclocross. It wasn’t, more a bunch of mountain bike trails strung together by road and rail trails. I did 38 miles of the course and 8 miles back to my car on the road, my equipment was not up to this level of riding.

For food today, knowing that there will be a good amount of eating out this week, my breakfast today and much of the week will be egg whites and toast.

For dinner tonight, we had baked chicken, sautéed squash and kale

7/12- Day 4. Today we would spend the day in Salem, Massachusetts taking in all the witch stuff and going on a evening walking tour. My daughter graduated high school this year and she wanted to visit Salem as a way to celebrate. This would be a big eating day, and one could go crazy on vacation and lose yourself in the food experience. If you plan accordingly and exert some self control, you can eat and have fun.

town hall featured in the movie Hocus Pocus

Today, my menu was pretty basic. Breakfast was an anabolic french toast with fruit and coffee. Lunch was a fried haddock fish taco and a chicken taco with a kombucha to drink. We also stopped for doughnuts and I probably ate the total of three doughnuts. Dinner was half a dozen raw oysters, a crab cake and a bunch of salad with some local fresh soft cheese and a local IPA to drink. I munched off of my brother and law’s nachos and had a few bites of my families ice cream with a total day calorie total of around 2200 calories. Total walking calories was around 1565 for about 10 hours of walking.

7/13- day 5- A full day of eating.

The day starts at 0630 with a 5.26 mile run. Breakfast was egg whites and toast. Threw in a moonshine mimosa for fun.

Fisherman’s memorial statue

The feature today was an eating tour of the area. The tour was through Cape Ann Foodie Tours. The focus was on the history of food in Gloucester, Mass. We tried clam chowder, scallops, local Italian foods and candies.

Our stops were:

Topside grille- Portuguese owned restaurant that served us a wonderful clam chowder and a maple bacon wrapped scallop.

Cape Ann Olive Company where we sampled a variety of olive oils and basalmic vinegars. This was a great place and I could have sunk a significant amount of money here.

Virgillios- an Italian owned bakery/cafe that served us a sample of their version of an Italian combo sub. Awesome grub.

Cafe Sicila – another Italian place where we had cannolis and I had a latte. They have amazing cannolis and an Italian feel that reminded me of my family when I was a kid

Oliver’s Harbor- a Brazilian owned restaurant where we had a flat bread pizza and fried calamari, another top notch restaurant.

Turtle Alley Chocolates, a great candy shop that specialized in turtles.

Gloucester has a rich heritage focused on the fishing trade. There were many cultures represented today on our tour, Italy, Brazil, Portugal and Finland were all stressed for their influence on the local culture. We would eat at restaurants proprieted by Portuguese, Italian and Brazilian immigrants/descendants.

Clam chowder and a scallop wrapped in maple bacon.
Fried callamari
Pecan turtle

It was our family’s turn to cook dinner tonight and I prepared a huge boiled seafood dinner that served 14. Boiled sausage, corn, scallops, shrimp and muscles. It has become our family’s tradition to prepare this meal on vacation.


7/14- day 6

The day started with a large bowl of granola and kefir and some hand wringing about what to do- run or bike. The weather was atrocious, heavy fog and heavy drizzle. I chose to ride because I needed a training ride, it would not be the day for sightseeing(it was better the last 15 miles). I would get 46 miles in.

commanding view of the sea
fisherman’s wives memorial, Gloucester, Mass

Gloucester is a seaport inhabited by many ethnicities and most famously, the Italian community and their St. Peter festival at the end of June. Their greasy pole competition is the highlight of this festival. The goal is for someone to shimmy out over a telephone pole extended off a dock covered in grease and grab an Italian flag attached to the end. Virgillio’s is an Italian eatery and bakery in town that very much reminded me of my Italian family growing up. Here I purchased an Italian coffee maker, Lavassa coffee and pizzelles.

Our big eating today was lobster, I am not a fan, but everyone else is. After some debate as to where we would eat, we settled for Blue Collar Lobster. I had the fried fisherman’s platter. Sometimes you just have to accept that you are not going to be able to your dietary plan and accept that this is okay. You make adjustments and when the family went up to Rockport for ice cream, I did not get any. Today’s calorie intake was around the 3000 mark with around 1800 calories burned by riding or walking around. The lesson here is you can enjoy eating, just be mindful of the calories you are taking in.

July 15- day 7

The day started with a 6.84 mile run in an area famous for its carved rocks. Like other trails in the area, they were atrocious and not well marked. The actual run was 10, but I could not find a 4 mile section.

I took it easy today on food to give my body a rest from yesterday’s gastronomic adventure. I had egg whites with some potatoes and left over bacon and sausage for breakfast. I skipped lunch and had an apple, meat sticks and cheese for my late afternoon snacks. Dinner was grilled chicken, steamed broccoli and a local IPA. Again, you can eat what you want, it is wise though to give your body a rest after a heavy day of eating and allow your body to tell you when it is time to eat. Today’s run was fasted. As a rule of thumb, eat only when you are hungry WHEN YOU CAN. Sometimes like last nights meal, you may have to settle for what is available.

We finished the day with ice cream. I had an ice cream sandwich made of a graham cracker cookie, a cinnamon flavored ice cream and topped with cinnamon toast crunch. If in Gloucester, check out Holy Cow ice cream.

July 16 – day 8. Up at 0430 for a 0600 departure to home. Our morning stop was a doughnut shop that specializes in gluten free doughnuts. One of our party has a gluten sensitivity. Kane’s doughnuts in Saugus is the place to go. These perhaps are the best doughnuts I have ever had. My apple fritter was as big as my head.

All packed up

Home finally with a last meal with the crew at Moe’s. I am eating the Homewrecker bowl with grilled veggies.

Eating on a calorie budget is doable and has to be seen as a lifestyle choice. There is a fine line between consciousness and pathology. As you can see this week, I was loose with my budget and when I was, I adjusted course. Life is meant to be enjoyed.

52 Weeks of Healthy Eating: Let’s Talk About Blood Sugar

It has been far too long and I kinda fell off the horse before Memorial Day and then June escaped me.

This week, a short piece on blood sugars.

We have all been there, “hangry”, it is one of my core questions when asking why a child or an adult act in an off manner, is the person hungry? Why do we get angry when we are hungry? The short answer is our blood sugar drops, but what does that mean? In this week’s post, I will address the role of sugar or insulin in the body’s processes.

Here are some facts about blood sugar:

  • Glucose is a nutrient from food that enters the bloodstream as sugar-containing foods are digested and absorbed by the gastrointestinal system. It can also be released from the body’s cells into the bloodstream when blood sugar levels are low.
  • The glucose from food travels to cells in the body to be used for energy. 
  • The body strives to maintain a normal amount of glucose in the bloodstream
  • Insulin, made by the pancreas, is like a key that “unlocks” the cells to allow the glucose to enter in. If not enough insulin is present or it doesn’t work properly, the glucose gets “locked out” of the cells and builds up in the bloodstream.(Taken from https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/6779/know-your-numbers-blood-sugar-and-hemoglobin-a1c/)
  • A blood sugar level less than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L) is normal. A reading of more than 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) after two hours indicates diabetes. A reading between 140 and 199 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L and 11.0 mmol/L) indicates prediabetes.

So how do we control blood sugars?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers these guidelines for controlling blood sugars:

  • Keep track of your blood sugar levels to see what makes them go up or down.
  • Eat at regular times, and don’t skip meals.
  • Choose foods lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt.
  • Track your food, drink, and physical activity.
  • Drink water instead of juice or soda.
  • Limit alcoholic drinks.
  • For a sweet treat, choose fruit.
  • Control your food portions (for example, use the plate method: fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, a quarter with lean protein, and a quarter with a grain or starchy food).

Appalachian Trail Adventures

This Memorial Day weekend, I am taking my 14 year old daughter, Faith on a section hike of the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. Things did not work out as planned.

Day 1- Departure and Sightseeing

Day 2: Mason Dixon Line to Cowal Shelter

We would hike 10 miles today and it would be about 6 miles in that I knew Faith was in trouble. We hit multiple sections of rocks like the ones seen below and several pointless ups and downs(puds). Soon the tears were flowing and the cramping took over and Faith was experiencing Wesley amounts of pain.

Penn Mar Park Overlook
trail is to the right
Bear bag hanger
A forced smile
Ensign Cowall Memorial Shelter
Faith named this cicada Clover

Day 3, Pick up outside of Ensign Cowall to Harper’s Ferry

After looking at the maps and doing a good bit of thinking, it was determined that calling the hike was the most prudent move. Overnight temps were in the 40’s and it rained all night. On top of exhaustion, we were not equipped for cold weather camping. We would get picked up by our pick up and do 5 miles on the C & O path. We would manage to get around 20 miles over our three days.

Faith named this slug Vinne

According to Faith, you have to “have the bad days to appreciate the good days”. This weekend was more about living and enjoying life rather than the distance traveled. This is living your life.

52 Weeks of Healthy Eating: Intermittent Fasting

I missed a post last week and I apologize, I was on adventures.

On Sunday, May 23rd, Phil Mickleson would become the oldest player in history to win the Professional Golf Associations(PGA) tournament at the age of 50. This week I want to look at his diet, which he is crediting to his success.

Mr. Mickleson used a form of intermittent fasting, something that I have been playing around with over the last few years and most recently, spent the last two weeks engaging in what is known as a Circadian Rythm or 13 hour fast, where you eat for 11 hours and fast 13. Mr. Mickleson’s specific fast was a 6 day fast consuming only a coffee elixir and water.

Phil Mickleson’s coffee smoothie:

350-450 grams of coffee (Ethiopian beans)(this is the specific formula given in the article, you can just use 16 oz of any coffee)

Two to three tbsp. MCT or XCT oil

1 scoop flavorless collagen protein powder

Dash of Himalayan pink sea salt

Small glass of almond milk

200 mg L-Theanine

One tbsp. Manuka honey

One tsp. cinnamon

With medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) to help your body achieve ketosis and burn fat for energy, protein powder for muscle recovery, L-Theanine to counter balance the caffeine and “promote an alert state of relaxation”, this ‘smoothie’ isn’t for everyone. (Golf.com).

I think I will try this smoothie and get back to you. I have used Dave Asprey’s Bullet Proof coffee recipe which this seems to be an offshoot of to break my 13 hour fast in the past. I think I will leave out the L-theanine, I can get this from a green tea in the afternoon and Manuka honey is stupid expensive. I would also leave out the almond milk and just go with the Dave Asprey recipe( https://www.bulletproof.com/recipes/bulletproof-diet-recipes/bulletproof-coffee-recipe/). I would blend all of this up in my Ninja bullet blender. Here is a link describing someone doing Mr. Mickleson’s diet: https://golf.com/news/phil-mickelson-coffee-and-water-fast/

Specifically, intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating that switches between eating and fasting on a regular schedule. As previously mentioned, I use a 13 hour fast but have done a 16:8 schedule as well. IF is purported to be great for weight loss and has been shown to help with preventing or reversing some disease.

This is what IF has been proven to promote:

  • Thinking and memory. Studies discovered that intermittent fasting boosts working memory in animals and verbal memory in adult humans.
  • Heart health. Intermittent fasting improved blood pressure and resting heart rates as well as other heart-related measurements.
  • Physical performance. Young men who fasted for 16 hours showed fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. Mice who were fed on alternate days showed better endurance in running.
  • Diabetes and obesity. In animal studies, intermittent fasting prevented obesity. And in six brief studies, obese adult humans lost weight through intermittent fasting.
  • Tissue health. In animals, intermittent fasting reduced tissue damage in surgery and improved results.
  • Intermittent Fasting: What is it, and how does it work? Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/intermittent-fasting-what-is-it-and-how-does-it-work.

This is what IF is not:

It is not a diet. It is a pattern of eating that can help with a myriad of health concerns. As a therapist, I sometimes ask my clients to consider IF to re associate their association with food. Becasue I am not a doctor or a nutritionist, I often ask my clients to consider one of these professionals before trying this protocol so that it is done correctly.

Finally, consider this video:

Greg Doucette. (2021, May 22). Keep HUNGER At Bay With Intermittent Fasting || Science Re-explained [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ojj-4KcqHs