Well…not quite daily recently…

Posts tagged “run

Photo #1588

A Short Run with Ultrarunner Scott Jurek


Last week, I had the honor of running 3 miles with a running celebrity.  Here’s a rundown of how I got to run with Scott Jurek on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), who Scott Jurek is and what he is doing on the A.T., and how I got myself in the background of some local news coverage.

Who is Scott Jurek?  In the world of ultrarunning, he is a superstar.  He has the US record for longest distance run in 24 hours (165.7 miles…or 6.5 marathons in one day at an average pace of 8:42 per mile), has won the prestigious 100-mile Western States Endurance Run 7 years in a row, and has won several other major events including the Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles starting in Death Valley in mid-July, with 120 degree temperatures…).  In combination with his running, he is also a major advocate for plant-based diets (vegan since 1999), and he co-wrote a bestseller Eat & Run in 2012.

Why is he on the Appalachian Trail?  At the end of May, Scott began a 2,190-mile journey from Georgia to Maine in which he hopes to set the speed record for fastest completion of the entire A.T.  Calling it his ‘masterpiece’ before retirement, his original plan was to beat the existing record of 46 days, 11 hours by up to 4 days, shooting for a July 7th finish in a record 42 days.  By June 24th, he had already gone through New Jersey and was in Harriman & Bear Mountain State Parks in New York.  He had completed nearly 50 miles the day before.

So that is how it happened that, around noon last Wednesday, I joined fellow NY-NJ Trail Conference crazy runners Josh and Melissa in a game of “Let’s see if we can find Scott, get a photo-op with him on the A.T. (where our trail builders are actively building the trail, in the area that the very first section of the A.T. was established in 1923), and run with him for as long as we can”.  Up at the summit of Bear Mountain, we first realized it wouldn’t be a simple “Hey, how’s it goin’?” encounter when we spotted a bunch of local reporters with news cameras…and when we found Scott, he was surrounded by more than a dozen runners.  But something seemed a little unusual, because he was wearing a bright yellow “guide” vest, had a dog running with someone in front of him, and someone else was right next to him holding his arm.


Scott Jurek guides Tom Panek on the Appalachian Trail on the summit of Bear Mountain

In the whoosh of Scott and everyone running by, and us joining the pack, it took us a few seconds to realize that Scott was guiding a blind runner up the A.T. on Bear Mountain.  Most people attempting a speed record probably wouldn’t purposely do things to slow themselves down, but Scott decided to run a section of difficult terrain with his blind friend as a way to raise awareness for his friend’s guide dog non-profit.  So we received an awesome inspirational boost right off the bat as we ran with everyone 1/4 mile up to the summit.  There, Scott took a quick breather as the reporters talked with Scott and his friend, Tom; they first ran together in the Boston Marathon this past April, where Scott guided Tom to a 3:42 finish (read more about Tom here:  News12 Hudson Valley story, LoHud.com story, Observer.com story).  We listened in and had fun taking some photos, like the one below of Melissa and Josh in front of the in-progress interview.


Melissa and Josh in front of an in-progress interview with Scott Jurek and Tom Panek

The interview finished up, Scott said goodbye to Tom, and we joined in with the entourage of runners that had grown to about 15.  We passed Perkins Tower, spotted the Manhattan skyline, and then started our descent of Bear Mountain.  I’ve been on this section of trail many times before, as the Trail Conference has been building new trail here for more than 10 years.  It includes a stretch of incredible rockwork, including more than 800 handhewn granite steps (put in place with help from more than 700 volunteers), and it was pretty cool being led by Scott down this trail.


Scott Jurek leads an entourage of runners down the Appalachian Trail on Bear Mountain

A quick shout out to Melissa (bright ‘Trail Crew’ shirt above), who didn’t have her running shoes, but couldn’t pass up the chance to run with Scott and so ran nearly 3 miles in athletic sandals!

We all wound our way down the mountain in mostly-single-file, and then took maybe a 10-minute break while Scott refueled.  At this point, some runners in our group decided to stop, a few more runners joined in, and we decided to follow along a little further.  Scott finished his fueling, and then was nice enough to accommodate any photo requests while we started walking.  The three of us tag-teamed with the camera, and so we got the photo up top of me and Scott at Hessian Lake.  Aside from this photo time, it seemed like most were trying to respect Scott’s space.  The group of 20 now ran through the Bear Mountain Zoo (Scott took a quick stop to watch two big bears playing) to get to the Bear Mountain Bridge.  Scott led the group across the Hudson River, where he hoped to cover another 30 miles for the day, but we decided to make that our stopping point and watched as the group started across the bridge.


Scott Jurek leads the group of runners across the Bear Mountain Bridge

We ended up running with Scott for about 3 miles, and it was an honor being able to join him on 0.14% of his incredible Appalachian Trail journey.  And lucky for us, our cars were back where we started…3 miles away and more than 1,000 feet of climbing…which meant we had a bit more time to reflect back on Scott’s inspiration!  A fun 6 miles for the day, up and down Bear Mountain, with an ultrarunning celebrity, two cool co-workers (thanks Josh for putting this “Let’s see what happens!” plan together), and a bunch of other great runners sharing in the adventure.

Later that day, we discovered some of the news articles, and found video that they had shot up at the summit of Bear Mountain.  Check out the short video on News12 Hudson Valley’s website.  My royal blue Trail Conference shirt and pale white legs make a few appearances, including the shot below of Josh, myself, and Melissa behind Scott and his wife Jenny (who is serving as his main support crew!).


Trail Conference representation on News12 video!

Scott is currently in Vermont as of Tuesday morning (June 30), with just less than 500 miles to go; you can follow his progress on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ScottJurek.  It’s tough terrain the rest of the way, but here’s hoping he gets to the end in Maine around his goal date to set a new speed record!

I’ll end this fairly long post with a great quote from Scott from his Bear Mountain summit interview that we listened in on:

Reporter Question:  What have been some of the struggles?

Scott Jurek:  Some of the biggest struggles I would say are, each day, trying to get myself to get out and do the same thing over again. I mean, when I finish at night…I mean, two nights ago, I finished at 1am in the morning, and the next morning I’m waking up at 5:30 and hitting the trail again. And that’s the biggest thing, is every day I’m like “Oh man, I just finished 50 miles!”, you know, so jubilant, and then I remember right away that I’m going to have to wake up and do that again. So, as much as I love being out here, it’s a struggle, and life is a struggle, and it’s in times like that that you learn the most.


Quick Update – Marathon Weekend

So it has been a little while since my last Daily Photograph, but I will get some great photos up soon.  I have been quite busy with a number of things, most especially training for my first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday, October 28th.  I am running as part of ZERO’s Dash for Dad Endurance Team, raising awareness of prostate cancer in honor of my father-in-law Tom.  Find out more about my fundraising efforts, or about prostate cancer in general, by clicking here: https://zerocancer.org/races/raise?form_id=MjQ2

I’ll be sure to provide an update afterwards to let you know how the 26.2 miles went…as long as the hurricane/nor’easter storm doesn’t blow me away!

Photo #1390 – 09.04.12

Sunrise Run at Kittatinny Valley State Park

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I’m training for my first marathon in October {Photo #1377}.  Training has been going great, and my fundraising to support prostate cancer awareness in honor of my father-in-law Tom has been outstanding so far (click here to check out my fundraising page!).

To fit in all the miles, I’ve been getting out early and enjoying quite a number of great sunrise runs.  Along with cooler temperatures and tons of deer encounters, the sunrises on the morning runs make the miles glide by.  Of course, I rarely have my camera with me to capture some fantastic scenes, but I did snap this photo last week right before a 7 mile run.  This is the entrance to Kittatinny Valley State Park, where I’ve been doing a lot of my training, and I guess I timed my arrival well, since the park opens at sunrise!

Photo #1377 – 08.22.12

9.5 Weeks Until My First Marathon

On October 28, I’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon as my first marathon, and I’ll be running as part of ZERO‘s Dash for Dad endurance team.  I’m raising awareness of prostate cancer in honor of my father-in-law Tom, who passed away just over 3 years ago at the age of 52 after a long battle with prostate cancer.  I have previously run a couple of 10K events with Heather through this organization, including a race in 2010 captured by the above photo (I guess I was too focused on the finish line to smile for the camera!).

Please visit my donation page, read a bit more about Tom and prostate cancer in general, and consider making a donation to lend your support in honor of Tom or someone else special in your life: https://zerocancer.org/races/raise?form_id=MjQ2.  Amazingly, I am extremely close to surpassing my fundraising goal thanks to many wonderful people, which means I might have to adjust my goal to an even higher amount!

In terms of my training, I’ve been feeling great recently and continue to increase my weekly mileage and develop my race pace.  This Saturday I will run my longest distance ever of 17 miles, and I’m still on target to run the 26.2 mile race in around 3 hours, 15 minutes.  I’ll be sure to share some training updates and other photos as race day approaches.

On a related side note, I apologize for the inconsistent ‘daily’ photographs recently…my marathon training, along with lots of “new house” things, has kept me off a regular schedule.  Here’s hoping I can fix that!

Photo #1034 – 09.14.11

Running Track and Mini-Golf on a Ship

Have you ever been on vacation…for instance, on a cruise ship out in the middle of the ocean…and had the urge to run a couple miles?  If you are like me, the answer would be yes.  Luckily, most cruise ships have some sort of running track (in addition to some pretty nice indoor gyms), like this small one on the Carnival Miracle that circles around a mini-golf course and a basketball/multi-use court.  I ran on this track at least once, and it gets plenty of use by joggers and walkers alike.

As a side note, it’s pretty cool/weird walking around a cruise ship early in the morning when most people aren’t up yet…and it also makes it possible to take people-free photos of different parts of the ship.

Photo #834 – 02.26.11

The Race Is On!

Who’s going to win this race?!?  Hannah and Robyn are neck-and-neck as they’re approaching the finish line, and even though Robyn has some great leg power, Hannah has some awesome pedal power.  I’m guessing they’ll both cross the line at the same time (although something tells me Hannah will try to run her mom off the pavement right at the end…maybe because that is what she sort of did!).

Photo #669 – 09.14.10

Dash for Dad 2010 – September 26th, Alexandria, VA

This photo was not taken from the future, but rather shows Team Tommy J after the 2009 race.  Almost 400 runners and many  other walkers/joggers completed the course last year, and both Heather and Elysia completed their first races ever in great times!  Team Tommy J will be bigger and better than ever in 2010, ready to tackle the 6.2 mile course in the Dash for Dad put on by ZERO, the Project to End Prostate Cancer…and the race is in less than two weeks!!

Heather has set up a website where you can make a donation to Team Tommy J 2010 (click on the photo above or click here: http://www.active.com/donate/dashfordad2010DC/HApgar2010).  Proceeds go to ZERO for free prostate cancer screenings, prostate cancer research and general education and awareness about prostate cancer.

We thank everyone that has contributed so far in Tom’s memory, and every little bit of support is appreciated.  Heather was one of the top fundraisers last year, so hopefully we’ll raise even more than we did last year!  Feel free to pass this along to other family and friends.

And of course, there are plenty of spots on Team Tommy J 2010 for anyone interested in running or walking with us!  And I’ll be sure to post an update following the race, so be sure to stay tuned!