1. Tell us about yourself outside of trail running:
I moved to Ohio in 1990 from rural PA to get my Masters Degree from Ohio University in Environmental Science. I have worked for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in various technical and management capacities since then. My most recent post was the Chief of the Southeast District. I am currently working as Governor Kasich's Policy Director for environmental, natural resource, energy, and agriculture issues. This job is challenging but fantastic at the same time. It also has me working very long hours that often wreck my training schedule. But that is one of the joys of running.... throw on shoes and a headlamp and you are off on a training run.
My Wife Tammi, Daughter Hanna and I are Ohio University Bobcat basketball and football fans and enjoy attending the fall and winter games as much as possible. Tammi and Hanna are huge supporters of my crazy activities and I would not want to do these activities without them. When not competing in some run, ride or race, we love to hike and picnic in our state parks, which are some of the best in the country. Larry, our yellow lab, also loves to run and hike. In the fall and winter, the whole family hits the trails and if we get enough snow, we break out the snow shoes.
2. What/Who got you started trail running?
I have always been active in sports. As a kid growing up in rural Pennsylvania, it was easy to be outside and active. I participated in football and team sports in high school. Outside of school, I got interested in mountain biking and with trails just out the back door, its a time I fondly remember. You could ride forever and not ride the same trail twice.
Somewhere along the way, my rural roots joined with my running desire and I started running local and regional trails. And while road running can be great, there is no comparison to a good trail run. To smell the dirt as you run along ..... heaven. And as my friends will tell you, be it on foot or a bike, there is not a hill I don't love to punish myself or others on.
I am still a novice at how to run trail races. My first was the first Bobcat Trail Marathon at Burr Oak State Park (my Favorite). I've run Bobcat each year and continue to improve. Last fall I ran the 50 mile run in State College, PA. This gave me the confidence to run 100 miles. I was supposed to run the Burning River this year, but with my work schedule, I wasn't ready with my training, so I chose to go back to my hometown and run the Pine Creek Challenge.
3. Tell us about your experience at Pine Creek Challenge this year:
This is a great 100 miler for the novice. Located in Tioga County PA, the course is flat and runs along rail-to-trail from near Wellsboro to Lock Haven, through the PA Grand Canyon. This area still today is very remote and with spectacular beauty. It is not uncommon to see eagles, bear, and lots of other wildlife, including an occasional rattlesnake.
This is basically a down and back course. My race goals were to: 1. Make sure I finish within the 30 hour limit. 2. If all went well, to finish close to 20 hours. The weather, except for a few hours of rain, was perfect: overcast, some rain, cool/chilly temps.
My first 50 miles were good. Tammi, Hanna, and friends, Luke and Michelle, were a great team meeting me at aid stations with food, clothing, and liquids. After 60 miles my lack of a strict eating plan (plus the upset stomach I had from 20-50) started to catch up with me. Luke, who ran from mile 60 - 95 with me, really stepped in at mile 60 and made me eat and drink. Feeling better, we hit the trail and as it got dark we were really motoring along. Running through the most remote part of the canyon at night was special. The Milky Way was visible and we got to see stars that you don't see anywhere else.
We hit mile 95 and my wife joined me for the last few miles. We walked and ran some. It was a perfect way to end. We could have moved a little faster, but no one was behind us and it was fun to walk in the dark at 2:30 in the morning together, reflecting on the race and life. We have not been awake, let alone out in the woods at that hour since we were teenagers. I finished 4th overall with a time of 20 hours and 32 minutes.
4. What advice to you have for runners just starting out on trails?
An expert I am not. My advice for longer runs is that it is critical to know some technical data about yourself; like your sweat rate and calorie burn rate. Or have a good idea. So you (or your data crazy friends) can develop a race eating and drinking plan that will have you hydrated and not starved. I'm not good at this, but I know people that are. Oh, and follow their advice. I'm not good about that either. My other advice is something that others say too ... break up any running distance into smaller chunks. Thinking about running 100 miles makes me want to sit on the couch. But planning my run around laps, or aid station distances, makes this manageable. Last but not least, one of the most important things for me is to have my family there for encouragement. Without them I couldn't do half of what I do. I am a blessed for their help and support.
5. What are you looking forward to on the trails for the remainder of 2012 or going into 2013?
For the rest of 2012 I plan to at least run the Bobcat again. As for 2013, a more challenging 100 is likely. I also will learn to swim better this winter and probably start doing some tri's.