Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rained Out

As you may have surmised from my last post, I didn't necessarily have a lot of confidence in my ability to race this past weekend's Pisgah 55.5k. So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that given the opportunity to not start, I would leap at it. And the excuses rained down on me quite literally Saturday night.

We had camped out directly across from the race start and after a wonderful day sailing at Lake Murray and a good night in Asheville, I was thinking the race would turn out okay. I was disabused of this thinking around midnight when the skies opened up and delivered what ended up being over three shoes full of water(every time I got up in the night, I emptied my boat shoes which every time were brimming over). We ended up soaking ourselves because I didn't close the zipper all the way and soon we had a nice little water bed.

I had intended to wake up at 8a to get ready for the race but it was still pouring and because of my less than optimal sleep, I dozed off for another hour only to awaken to no better conditions. We hurriedly disassembled the tent in the downpour and quickly changed into dry clothes in the car. After having almost cracked my skull on the sprint to the car, I was already pretty confident I would not be racing.

We did swing by the start line and I saw about 10 hardy souls milling about before the start. I knew I would not be one of them. Instead Kenny and I explored via car the area, stopped for a short run through the rain to a waterfall in Dupont State park, had lunch, drove home, showered and did laundry and still had an hour to spare before I would have likely finished the race. Some may call it cowardly but I'd prefer judicious or prudent maybe.

But now I'm short for mileage and only four weeks until my marathon in Finland so it looks like I'll be doing the typical Ferreira training plan of holding my breath and flexing my stomach.

oh well, some things never change.

Until next time,


Friday, May 19, 2017

Pisgah 55.5k Trail Race-Silly Impulsive Decision

Somehow I thought I would be a good idea to enter myself in a 36 mile trail race this weekend. In fairness, I thought it was, as advertised, 33 miles(55k would be about that), not the actual 36 miles I'm now seeing on the course map. But still...

Craziness. But it takes place right outside of Asheville NC so Kenny and I are planning on journeying in to see what all the fuss is about. And camping right at the start line in our hammocks sealed the deal. 

I'm taking this race as a really long hike and am really just trying to get some strength back in my legs and build my endurance a bit more before my Finish marathon in mid-June. I want to be fit enough for that to actually be able to enjoy it. 

Still... This weekend's race looks brutal and I'm questioning my decision. And the 10:30a start time makes for a really hot race. So yes I'll probably be really questioning my decision on Sunday. 

Here's the course profile:

Yep. Awful.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Until next time,


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Oral Health-the Silent Killer

I have some embarrassing news. So much so I'm hesitant to tell y'all. But since we're all friends here, I might as well say. At my recent dentist appointment, it was discovered that I had THREE cavities. That is exactly three more than I have previously had in my life time. And also exactly three more than I was expecting as I thought I was just going in for a routine cleaning; having had no tooth pain or discomfort and no perceived issues. I must admit that after hearing this devastating news, I began wearing sweatpants to work and giving up on life. It is all downhill from here.

Okay a bit of an exaggeration, but only slightly. Oral health is a HUGE deal. It's been linked to so many debilitating health conditions but often only manifests itself when things get really bad and hard to recover from.

And that's why oral health is such an insidious issue. Most people don't even know they have issues until they are pretty advanced. Which is a big problem as oral health has been linked to heart health, metabolism as well as brain function. The mouth is the Canadian border of bacteria freely allowing bacteria inside your body. These germs travel through your swollen gums getting into your bloodstream and wrecking havoc downstream. In fact, researchers have found oral bacteria in the clogged arteries of coronary bypass patients. And a recent article in Circulation estimates an increase of 30% risk of heart attack for patients with  periodontal disease even after accounting for other risk factors such as hypertension, smoking and education. Just as bad is your chances of developing diabetes if you have gum disease. And worst, in my opinion, is the 6x increase rate of cognitive decline with gum disease.

The good news?
A little goes a long way. A 2014 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who had at least one routine teeth scraping had a significant reduction of being hospitalized. Which means it's not too late!

Make an appointment to for a teeth cleaning as it's only with a dental hygienist that you can remove that tartar which allows for bacteria to accumulate and cause pockets in your gums. Then add in twice daily teeth brushing, flossing and a fluoride-based mouth rinse and you should be golden. Or pearly white.

PS. My dentist blames my year in Guyana without fluoride in the water for my teeth's decline.  It at least made me feel somewhat better.

It definitely got me thinking more about my own oral health.

Until next time,


Monday, May 1, 2017

The Water Keeps Rising; or A Hike at Congaree National Park

As the water rose to mid-thigh, I started really hoping that the old man had been right about alligators. A few months ago while doing my training to become a hiking guide at Congaree National Park, a few volunteer who'd been at CONG for many years said that the alligators only come once every three years. And they had just come last year so we wouldn't be seeing any this year. Something do to with turtle populations.

That seemed reasonable albeit somewhat esoteric, as I had no intention of being anywhere near the murky swamp that may house them. Or so I thought. Fast forward to this past Saturday and I am now nearly waist deep in water.

I had arrived to do my monthly guided long-hike to a sign saying all trails were closed due to flooding(all except the Bluff trail and a portion of the raised boardwalk). Inquiring at the front desk, I was told that the trails weren't technically closed, just underwater. They weren't sure exactly how deep underwater either since no one had ventured much further than the boardwalk.

After seeing I had no takers for a very much abbreviated Bluff trail hike, I decided to just head out on the boardwalk and see if I could a) help out anyone with trail info/guidance etc, and b) see just how flooded the trails really were.

I actually ran into many confused visitors who must have skipped the signs and headed out only to encounter water encroach on their walk. I was able to answer questions and redirect them so that was a good thing. I also came to the low boardwalk and saw what appeared to only be a few inches of water covering it. I took off shoes and socks and decided to see how far I could go.
 It didn't take too long before the water got a bit deeper.

I decided to retreat to dry ground and put my trail shoes back on so I wouldn't step on anything precarious as I'd now be venturing off the boardwalk onto Sims Trail. I was glad that Sims had trail markers on the trail because there would be no way at all to see the path.

As it was 90 degrees, it was actually quite relaxing in the cool clear water. For the most part it was very clear, but every few hundred yards, I'd come across a patch of clay and the water color would be brown and I couldn't see my feet. That became more frightening when the water got deeper and I saw a water snake scurry away from me. I really started hoping the old man was correct about the alligators.

Luckily, no more snakes and no alligators. Definitely a different hike than I had planned when I set out that morning, but what an adventure!

I volunteer at Congaree once a month so come by next month and I'll take you out somewhere fun:)

Until next time,


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuckfest Results

What a weekend! Of humility producing activities. Saved by Sunday's weather cancellation of several events, Kenny and I lucked out having to only suffer through a DNF at Friday's adventure race and a LONG and hot trail half marathon on Saturday. Don't get me wrong. The weekend was a blast! The music, food and drink added to all the events and demos we were able to watch was very enjoyable. 

But getting miserably lost and then only completing 2 out of 14 obstacles during the adventure race was an interesting way to start our weekend. Within half a mile into the race we encountered briers with thorns that left cuts for our first souvenir of the weekend. We, unwisely, decided to try to hit the furthest obstacle first so that we could then make our way back home as we ticked off the others. In reality we wandered aimlessly for 3-4 miles before popping out of the woods almost exactly where we entered, without having seen any obstacles. We retraced our steps and did eventually come across one obstacle and then came to a startling discovery. Not all the "obstacles" were obstacles. Our second one we reached was just a stick with a sticker on it for us to punch. We realized that we probably ran by a few without even noticing because we were looking for real obstacles. Apparently this literal interpretation of the challenge was our biggest obstacle. 

Sorry about that. Anyway, after another few miles at which point we intercepted another team running towards us who told us they had been running for miles without coming across a single obstacle, we decided to do the first smart thing of the evening. Quit.

Which we did undramatically and without remorse. We grabbed food, drink and a seat and watched the Revivalists perform. A far better way to end the night than be lost in the dark in the woods. 

The next morning Kenny and I, feeling better about that day's events, suited up for the half marathon. I have run two half marathons at the Whitewater center so thought I knew what to expect. I eyed the start line and saw 3-4 runners that I thought might be an issue but was thinking podium was in the cards. As expected, the race took off fast and I fell, comfortably, into sixth place, knowing that usually a few will slow as we enter the woods and more technical part of the trail. As expected, within the first few miles, I found myself in fourth and feeling strong. Unexpectedly, I was getting thirsty. Very thirsty. I hadn't even thought to bring my water bottle, having done races here before usually the aid stations were more than enough. Not this day. Over the next few miles, all I was thinking about was getting to the next aid station so I could have more water. 

During this time, I also, unexpectedly, came to the conclusion that this course was a)not the same as the previous times I'd run here, and b) long. It was a two loop course and I finished the first lap slightly under 7 miles. Not hugely off, but usually in trail races, my GPS comes up short due to all the switchbacks and whatnot. Certainly not long. This was discouraging but I kept chugging along, passing the third runner with about three to go. As expected. Thinking podium for sure. Then with less than a half mile to the finish, a runner passes me. Not extremely assertively so I thought I could hang on and repass before the finish. Unexpectedly, this didn't happen. Instead of speeding up like I thought I still could, I started seeing stars and forced myself to slow it down. That runner ended up beating me by over 30 seconds and put me solidly in fourth place-first off the podium.
Kenny didn't fare much better as one water stop actually had run out of water by the time she made it by. She has vowed never to run another half marathon there again but I think she'll change her mind. After all, she did come in 4th in her age-group so it wasn't like she had an awful race. Just, like me, not what she  had expected.

We spent the rest of the day doing our best to get a nice evenly distributed sun burn, which we did accomplish. We also did some other challenges where we were more successful,like getting a Chips Ahoy cookie from our foreheads to our mouths(easy) and getting two pennies out of panty hose without using our bodies or opposing hands(surprisingly hard). Another set of good musicians topped  the day. 

Luckily for our bodies, we awoke the next day to rain and temps in  low 50's. And my rock climbing competition was canceled. And I had no desire to enter in the kayaking comp with the rain, so we decided we'd create our own contest, eating copious amounts of breakfast foods and then heading back down to Columbia. 

Despite, or maybe because, our losses, we had a really fun weekend and have already put this weekend on our calendar for next year. 

Maybe we'll see you there.

Until next time,


Friday, April 21, 2017

Tuck Fest

Image result for tuck fest

This weekend Kenny and I will be going up to Charlotte and competing in a weekend of adventure. Tuckfest is like an adventure music festival. Unlike most music festivals where the extent of physical activity is usually limited to 12oz bicep curls and ungainly movements someone may kindly describe as dancing, Tuckfest is an athlete's music festival. We head up after work tonight and immediately have an option of a Twilight adventure race or trail race. Tomorrow morning we have a trail half marathon at 8, acro-yoga at noon and maybe even a mountain bike race. Sunday morning starts out with a rock climbing competition for me and another trail race for Kenny then a flatwater kayak race.

If either of knew how to navigate whitewater there is even more opportunities as there are whitewater kayak and SUP races too. In addition to all these events, there are demos, vendors and live music the whole time. Friday night features the Revivalists and Sunday Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.

It should be a fun time and we'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Until next time,


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ironman Texas Pro Start List

After months of recovering from her bike crash in Lake Placid, bad luck at Ironman Cozumel with double flat tires, and some serious training, Amber Ferreira will be toeing the line of her first Ironman of the 2017 season. As always, I am expecting great things from her and from what I hear she's definitely been putting in the training. Join me in sending her positive vibes as she competes against some of the best triathletes in the world on April 22nd in Texas. You can follow her at ironman.com. 

Here's the current start list: 

USA (United States of America)
BEL (Belgium)
USA (United States of America)
USA (United States of America)
USA (United States of America)
USA (United States of America)
AUT (Austria)
TWN (Taiwan, Province of China)
USA (United States of America)
CHE (Switzerland)
DNK (Denmark)
Jones Meyers
USA (United States of America)
CAN (Canada)
GBR (United Kingdom)
CAN (Canada)
DEU (Germany)
USA (United States of America)
GBR (United Kingdom)
USA (United States of America)
USA (United States of America)
USA (United States of America)
USA (United States of America)
USA (United States of America)
USA (United States of America)
GBR (United Kingdom)

Good luck to Amber and all competitors!

Until next time,


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Hello Estonia!

What you may have noticed when I wrote my Hello, Norway! blog, Estonia was in third place of overall viewers. Recently Estonia has taken over as the second leading viewers per month with over 2,000 page views in March alone. 

What's cool about that is that I'm visiting Estonia in June as part of my next attempt at breaking 3 hours in the marathon. 

This time I will be racing the Forssa Summer Night Marathon in Finland. As the name implies it's a night race but since it's Summer Solstice visibility shouldn't be an issue. From the limited written(in English) about the race, it seems to be fairly hilly and cool temperature so should make for a good race. 

Before going to the country-side for the race, I plan to take a boat over to Tallinn, Estonia. From what I hear it is a beautiful city and one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Image result for tallinn estonia
Stock photo of Tallinn, Estonia

Should definitely be worth the trip and who knows? Maybe I'll meet an Ultrarunning Boy reader :) 

Until Next Time, 


Monday, April 3, 2017

A Tragic Loss to the New England Racing Community

I awoke this morning with the intent to write about all the fun I had with my siblings in Atlanta weekend only to find out my friend and Gate City/ aR teammate Jeremiah Fitzgibbon had been tragically killed while bicycling yesterday. While the details aren't clear on what exactly happened, he was hit by a 24 year old driver. When I first saw it, I initially didn't believe it as this would be in true Jeremiah form as an elaborate April Fool's Day prank. I then saw the WMUR report and knew it was sadly true. Jeremiah was one of the first people I met when I started snowshoeing and quickly became a fixture at local races. Always friendly and almost always with his little dog, he was a great guy with a quick wit. He seemed to always be racing and yet he'd spend the whole time asking you about your races and schedule. Really just a class act.
Image result for jeremiah fitzgibbon danny ferreira
The aR Crew: Jeremiah is between Chris Dunn and Rich Lavers
I lost contact with him when I stopped racing in 2014, but I'm sure that he was still out there racing and competing. And it does not surprise me that he was out riding in freezing temperatures yesterday when he was hit. While his death is certainly sad, it heartens me to know how many people were positively impacted by having him in their lives and that he went out doing something he loves.

Appreciate every single day you have on this planet and hug your loved ones tonight.

We will miss you Jerry!

Until next time,


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Walk Yourself to Better Thinking

Walking is a good way to get some exercise in. If done vigorously enough, it can help improve your heart and lung health, build muscle and bone density and has even been shown to improve mental health and quality of life.

Walking can also help improve your thinking. Walking is a complex task that we learn to do almost subconsciously. The coordination of our feet, legs, hips, arms and trunk in conjunction with our vision and inner ear usually flows seamlessly and with very little energy.

But it's a great way to get extra blood flow to the brain. In fact, this increased blood flow promotes the birth of new neurons and formation of new synapses in the brain while strengthening existing ones.

This combination of a mindless activity that stimulates brain activity is the perfect way to stimulate creativity and spawn new ideas. Remember back to Tolstoy's Daily Schedule? It included a good amount of physical activity to stimulate his mental activity that he did subsequently. He wasn't alone. Charles Dickens took 3 hour walks every afternoon, while the composer of The Nutcracker and Swan Lake walked 120 minutes. The philosopher Kierkegaard said, "I have walked myself to my best thoughts." John Muir concurred stating "In every walk in nature one receives more than he seeks." Whether that's beautiful scenery or beautiful minds, he was right.

Have a difficult problem that needs solving? Get outside for a walk and you just might think about it in a new light.

Good luck!

Until next time,


Monday, March 27, 2017

Wrightsville Beach Marathon Race Recap

This past weekend, my parents joined Kenny and me in Wilmington, NC as she attempted to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Mind you, Kenny has only really been running for a couple years now and yet has come surprisingly close to qualification. The Wrightsville Beach Marathon was going to be the one. The one she finally qualified at.  This race had three advantages: 1)she had put in probably her best training to date, 2)it was very flat course, and 3) she got older. Haha. What I mean by that is that she now needs a 3:40:00 instead of a 3:35:00. That would still be a few minute PR for her but advantages #1 and 2 made it seem achievable.

We arrived after I got out of work on Friday evening, and after a short detour to the tourist trap that is South of the Border, we met my parents for a nice dinner right on the Cape Fear River and then got an early bed time for the race the next morning. My dad was kind enough to drive us to the start as this is a point to point race and that allowed us not to have to worry too much about race day logistics.
View of Cape Fear River
As it was, we ended up still in line for the porta-potties when the gun went off. But no worries, it was a chip-timed race so when we started didn't really affect her ability to qualify for Boston. But it did mean that we had to spend a little more energy weaving through runners. Probably only affected us 10-15 seconds.

After that first slower mile, Kenny and I proceeded to click off consistent 8:04-8:06 minute miles. Our goal was to run fairly consistent splits with just enough of a buffer for a few slower second half marathons. We went through the half marathon right on track. At mile sixteen, Kenny told me she was getting tired and we spent half that mile at a slower pace just to get her head back in it. Which did the trick as her next several miles were all still within our goal pace.

We saw my parents at mile nineteen, and before I could yell at her not to, Kenny swerved out of her line to give my mom a high-five. Only about 3-5 seconds delay.

We continued to run steady low to mid 8 minute miles, well within our allotted pace to get her in with a qualifying time, until mile 22 where the wheels fell off. She actually stopped and walked and I thought for sure that the race was done. But within probably 20-25 seconds, she got herself motivated and started running. Those last few miles were all mid 8's and I was eyeing the clock and saw how close she was going to come if she wanted to qualify.

We hit the 26th mile just under 3:39 and I knew we were going to miss it, but I didn't let her know that. She sprinted it in and finished with an awesome 3:40:31. A lousy 31 seconds away from qualifying!!!

Despite her near miss, she still PR'd and ran an amazingly steady marathon, by far the best one I've seen her do. The marathon was great with good support and an easy but diverse course. I'd definitely recommend it as a BQ race.

My parents were of course at the finish line awaiting us. We quickly headed out as we still had the day ahead of us. We went to Moores Creek National Battlefield where the Separatists won their first battle against the Loyalists in the Revolutionary War. It was actually a very one-sided skirmish as the Loyalists were comprised of Scottish Highlanders baring only swords against armed men with a cannon as well as the element of surprise. But what I liked was that they presented it fairly unbiased and even had a monument to the fallen Scots. Well worth a half hour detour.

We then went to Wrightsville Beach and walked around for a bit before going back to downtown Wilmington which is a surprisingly nice little town where we had dinner but soon thereafter our fatigue caught up with us and we headed back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

The next morning we awoke and parted ways, quite sadly, with my parents, who we have had the pleasure of having as guests for the last few weeks. Not even before we were home, Kenny had already pulled up potential fall marathons to try to qualify again. It's sure to happen any time now.

Until next time,


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Get to the Green-St Patrick's 15

Yesterday Kenny and I headed downtown for a nice dinner and plans for a quiet weekend. We've had a busy 2017, traveling most weekends, racing the few we are free, and generally just needing a break. I've certainly been taking a break from running-- obvious to anyone following me on Strava. And it's been nice. My mom and I got in some nice walks when she was here. In fact, that was my exercise plan for Friday afternoon: getting in a nice long walk with Kenny.

Well that was the intent. After about a 2 mile stroll from 5 Points to the Vista, we both got hungry so we headed back to 5 Points where we were going to eat a cheap meal since I had a gift card from my latest burger eating contest winning.

Side-bar: Pawley's Front Porch has the best burger deal in town. For $20 you can enter yourself in a burger contest and if you win you get a $15 gift card for your next visit. The competition is ridiculously easy so you are in essence eating for $5.

Okay, sorry about that digression. On our way over, I suggested a detour to the local bike shop which, amazingly after 5 months of being here, I still hadn't visited. What good luck! It was hosting the St Patrick's Day 15k, hosted by Eggplant Events as part of the St Patrick's Day Festivities in 5 Points. While Kenny was distracted by the good assortment of Specialized and Cannondales, I hastily signed myself up for the next morning's 15k. So much for a race-less weekend!

We have done a few races in Columbia since we've moved down here, in they've all been small affairs with a few hundred runners at most. So that was my expectation for this race but when we arrived 25 minutes before the race start, the whole 5 Points was already packed with runners and we struggled to get a parking spot, We finally did and jogged the 3/4 miles to the start line.  I had heard on the radio that they were expecting some elite racers in attendance, and only two weeks after the disastrous Columbia Marathon, I had no thoughts of winning.
Danny and Kenny pre-race
The 10k and 15k both started at the same time so as the gun went off, I settled into a comfortable pace and trying not to get carried away with the 10k runners. At the 10k/15k split, I realized that all but one of the runners ahead of me were running the 10k. Trying my best to not get in my own head, instead of thinking of the chance of a win, I focused on my breathing and running smooth and steady.

With a lead cyclist and only one runner ahead of me, the chances of winning were greatly improved since I a)couldn't conceivably get lost, and b) only had to pass one guy. I slowly reeled in the guy ahead of me and after a few surges that I was able to contain, I passed him around mile 6.
Mile 6
 Then I had the awesome experience of being led by the cyclist. Which wasn't anything special until a little after mile 7 when the 15k converged on the herds of 5k runners. Literally a sea of green. No actually that's no literal but figurative, but you know what I mean. A lot of green runners. Impossible to get though.

Nothing is impossible with your own cyclist! He told me to stay left then spent the next 3+ miles shooting "On your left! Lead 15K runner coming through!" It was so cool to this modern Moses part the Irish seas. As I'd pass, the runners would cheer me on which would result in me picking up my pace a bit more. When he changed his wording to "15K winner come through!" I knew I had it in the bag.
Dodging Leprechauns 
What fun! It was such a great race, well organized and came with a cool medal that doubled as a bottle opener. The course took you through some of the best parts of 5 Points and awesome volunteers and fan support. Plus participation got me free entry into the St Patrick's party saving me $20.

I had to book it out right after the race because I was leading a hike at Congaree, but the race director, Erin, was good enough to give me award right then. She was so friendly and really made me want to do more of her races. If Kenny wasn't running the Wrightsville Beach Marathon next weekend, I definitely would have done the Quarry Crusher, which looks awesome. Kind of like a fell race but in a quarry. Kenny and I are actually probably going to do the one in Atlanta. I say probably, because while she has signed up, I haven't yet. But I think knowing Eggplant Events, or E squared as I like to call them, is organizing, I probably will now.

Danny with the race director, Erin

All in all, I am really glad to have wondered into the bike shop, not only because of the win and discovered a cool local bike shop but also because I found out about a cool race production company.

Until next time,