I also learned from my marathon in D.C. that I needed to increase my endurance on hills. To manage this I ran in Van Cortlandt park at least once a week leading up to the race. There I pushed my limits on the hills. I even ran some of my longer runs with local college teams.

The morning of the race my legs and I felt fresh and eager to run fast and long.

The chilly 40 degree weather in Wisconsin might have bothered me if I didn’t know that such a temperature would only make it easier for my body to stay cool as the race progressed.

With 20 seconds until the start I kissed my hand and placed it on the ground to ask for strength and thank the earth for letting me run.

During the first 3 miles I ran with a group of three other runners at a relatively easy pace. We chatted and I learned that each of them had already raced distances of 50k and beyond. When I shared that I had never run a 50k before, one runner suggested that starting out in the front was bold. I just smiled and told him I trust my training.

I set a goal to run under 4:15 and qualify for the elite wave of the Endurance Challenge 50 miler in San Francisco. With this in mind I picked up the pace and started running with purpose. Just before mile four, I left the pack.

As I weaved through the wooded trails, I ran and breathed lightly and relaxed. I felt smooth and in control at 7:00 minute pace per mile. Midway through I felt so fresh I thought I might even negative split the second half of my race. As I neared mile 26, however, fatigue spread throughout my legs. I increased the frequency of my gel intake to every 30 minutes and drank more water, but to no avail. My legs grew heavier and more sluggish. “Dang it!” I thought to myself.

For the next four miles I fluctuated between 8:00 and 9:30 minute pace per mile.

At mile 27 I fell to second place. I tried to respond but failed. I looked down at my watch, which read 3:19:02 and realized that I had plenty of time to finish under 4:15 and qualify for the race in San Francisco.

Within the final 200 meters, my calves and quads started to to cramp. I mustered up what little energy I had left and crossed the line in second place with a time of 3:53:03. I felt so happy to finish my first 50k, I barely noticed any pain.

Upon reflection of my race, I thought that perhaps if I had stayed back with the winner early on, I might have won the race. Then I realized,

“I don’t want to slow down to win, I want to learn to run faster, longer.”

After all I did feel in control for most of the race, I only needed a little extra for a few more miles.

On December 6th I run the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler. For this race I want to focus on running faster, longer.

This past weekend I went to Wisconsin with my wife Abby to see family, hang with friends and run my first ever 50k trail race as part of the North Face Endurance Challenge Series. I started this series with a first place finish in the Bear Mt. Half Marathon. Then in Washington D.C. I finished my first marathon in fifth place.

During the marathon, my longest race in distance, I experienced muscle cramping, so I knew that for the 50k it would be prudent to eat more energy gels for extra sodium. Leading up to the 50k I practiced with nutrition until I found the perfect balance. The magic combination turned out to be one gel every 30-35 minutes, starting with the sweet flavors and ending with the sour.


Coach Hammond

Coach Patrick Hammond earned his Masters Degree in Sports and Performance Psychology from the University of the Rockies. He is a USA Track and Field Level 1 certified coach. 

As a runner in college he competed at Western Kentucky University, where he helped his team win a Division IA Cross Country Sun Belt Conference Championship. 

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