Back To The Basics

As we head into fall, it’s about time to reflect on the end of summer…

Following completion of my 5th consecutive Western States 100 in late June, and the appropriate couple of weeks to decompress, indulge, re-calibrate and reset for the second half of 2016, I had the opportunity to knock off some rust and return to the Capt’n Karl’s Muleshoe Bend trail race on July 16th.  Originally I had signed up for the 60km, but smartly dropped down to the 30km knowing full well that A LOT of rust had accumulated in a short 3 weeks and this would be my longest run since States.  For those of you not acquainted with the Capt’n Karl’s series of races put on by Brad Quinn, these have become a central Texas summer tradition with their late-afternoon/early evening start times of 7 to 7:30pm, guaranteeing at least a couple hours of night time running and a small respite from the daytime heat, perfect for honing some of the skills I would need at the Cascade Crest 100 miler in late August.  Driving out to Muleshoe Bend park, I dropped Meredith and her bike off so she could ride the rest of the way there while I got ready to run.  For this run, I returned to a tried and true gear setup for me:  ultimate direction AK vest with 1 bottle of water and 1 bottle of fuel, ORAL IVs, and 2 gels on board just in case.  This ensures that I get plenty of fluids in, especially in the blazing heat of a mid-July day.  Fortunately, Meredith would be able to crew me in several locations on the 2 loop course and resupply me with fresh fuel and water bottles.  Despite taking it out conservatively from the gun, the suffering was immediate as the rust ached, grated, and grinded against ever fiber in my body.  Fortunately, the aid station splits are only 3.5, 3.5, 2.5 miles for each loop, so they come fast and furious and are +/- 30 minutes apart, totally manageable.  Mer had ice cold bottles ready which I desperately needed.  Lights on, head down…you only have to bust the rust off once and then it’s done I told myself.  Caught back up to a couple folks during loop 2 who went out much harder than me which buoyed the spirit, but then caught my left foot in a horse-hoof hole which rapidly sent me to the ground and returned me to the reality of night running.  Thankfully crossed the line 7th place overall.  WHOOF, that was hard work and was glad to be done for the night.  After a quick dip in adjacent Lake Travis to clean off, Meredith drove us home as the heat and effort of the day/night had me a little queasy.


After a couple more productive weeks of training with my training group, the next Capt’n Karl’s race was at Colorado Bend State Park on August 6th.  Fortunately, another classic Austin/Rogue tradition was earlier that day: the Run from Hell, which is a 20+ mile road run on many of the biggest hills that central Austin can dish out.  After knocking that out with my Rogue teammates BMort and Jess (and others), quick breakfast, then hot yoga, I was ready to start the drive north up to Lampasas with friend Justin and the dogs.  Once again, Meredith would be riding her bike 120+ miles north to meet us before the race.  Needless to say, it was Texas HOT, and Meredith was a champ navigating the rural roads between Austin and Lampasas.  We picked her up at the Corner Store and got ready to run at our friend’s Lisa and Marc’s ranch (complete with their dog Boo & a kegerator of Shiner).  Fortunately, this 30k went SIGNIFICANTLY better than Muleshoe Bend!!!  The one loop course had aid stations at miles 3, 8, 10.5, & 16.  Was able to reel in the eventual winner to within eyesight at around mile 11, but then he took off never to be seen again.  2:42 total time and about a minute behind the winner, so real happy with that.  We made our way back to the ranch (and the awaiting keg of Shiner) to enjoy the rest of the evening shooting the breeze on the porch with Justin and night-owl Marc.


Got a couple more quality workouts in August before Cascade Crest, including an 18 mile out and back on Lime Creek Road with Troy, a mid-week 6 x 1 mile workout at 10k pace and a Saturday 17 mile easy run.  Finally things were turning the corner and another 100-miler didn’t feel so daunting.  Intel from CC100 veterans Steven Moore, Jason Lehman, and course record holder Seth Swanson were invaluable in helping with the preparation and planning for this effort.  Meredith would be doing Ironman Couer d’Alene the weekend before in Idaho as a training race for Ultraman Hawaii which left me with time to get the mind and body ready for the task at hand.  #1 priority was to get a fresh Hardrock 100 qualifying race for the upcoming lottery in December, #2 priority was to beat the sunrise to the finish on Sunday, and #3 goal was around a 19 hour finish time.  Pacer and crew-member Troy would be joining us in Washington state as he had a follow-on work trip in Seattle the week after the race.  Patagonia teammate Krissy Moehl and her crew would likewise be joining Team Terranova at the rental house in South Cle Elum.


Without boring you with mind-numbing details of how the race played out, here are the mentionable highlights:

-9am start time is NICE!  Normal 3-hours before start time “breakfast” of coconut cashew Bonk Breaker bar with peanut butter and copious amounts of coffee went down easy as usual and pre-race VESPA CV-25 and Junior worked like a charm.  Got going at a sensible pace and eased my way into the day, spending some early miles with the likes of Hal Koerner and Benjamin Bucklin.

-either the early steep hiking or debris in my shoe caused the outside of my right heel to rub raw within about 10 miles, which I successfully managed until mile 54 with copious amounts of aid-station Vaseline smeared inside my Drymax Team RWB issue sock, before a shoe change at the Hyak aid station.  It never affected my gait so I manned up knowing that the damage was done and it wasn’t going to get any worse.

-generally stayed on or ahead of my 19 hour split card until the new Little Bear mile 20 aid station, and then chased 15 to 45 minutes behind it until it got away from me at Thorp Mtn mile 86, pushing to an hour and then finishing 1:18 over 19 hours.  Still pretty happy with the consistent effort throughout the whole day and night with no low moments to speak of.

-going back to the basics with the vest and 2 bottles (1 fuel and 1 water) for the majority of the race worked like a champ.  Supplemented every couple of hours with VESPA Ultra Concentrate, ORAL IVs, and a few gels here and there as needed.

-enjoyed the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) section and the “hollow” sound that the ground makes with each foot strike.   Julbo Blast shades were perfect in and out of the shadows.

-pierogie at mile 49 Olallie Meadows was fantastic, thank you Scott!

-descending the roped descent section and the 2-mile tunnel prior to mile 54 Hyak was super fun and got to put my marathon road running skills to use in the tunnel and the frontage road section after Hyak.  The shoe change from HOKA Challenger ATR2s to Claytons at Hyak certainly helped as well and my crew had it all set up for me including my Black Diamond double-light setup (thanks Roch!) and even some well appreciated sweetened iced coffee!!!

-Seth Swanson’s advice to “run all the roads” kept ringing in my ears all day and hopefully I did his advice justice especially the 15 mile gravel/Jeep road stretch from Hyak to Kachess Lake (mile 69).

-pacer Troy and I made efficient work of the 6-mile “Trail from Hell” leading into Mineral Creek (mile 75) and were duly impressed by the foothold notches chainsawed into the giant trees laying across the trail.  Mer met us enroute after Mineral Creek for a quick on-the-move shirt change and to don arm warmers and grab thin gloves, beanie, and vest as a “just in case” measure for the last unsupported 20 miles at night.

-looking up, up, and UP at the reflective markers through the Cardiac Needles section (generally miles 82-90) can be somewhat disheartening at times and best approached with healthy doses of humor…“REALLY, we’re going up THAT?!”

-thank YOU to the selfless aid station volunteer at Thorp Mtn (mile 86) who shared his cold coffee with me, that was awesome!!!  P.S. that out and back climb up to the Thorp Mtn lookout is a BRUTE!

-big props to the French Cabin (mile 89) aid station for their hot cheese quesadillas and cold Starbucks Frappucino, totally hit the spot at 3am!!

-for as much downhill as the last 7 miles is from French Cabin to Silver Creek (mile 96), pretty sure I gave it a good push for the first 3-4 miles and then really battled to maintain foot speed and turnover the last couple miles.  Could not wait to get to Silver Creek!!!


-Krissy, Mer, and I pre-ran the 4-mile stretch from Silver Creek to the finish on Friday (and collected some Trail Karma along the way and soaked our legs in the Yakima River) so definitely felt home free at this point…UNTIL Troy and I made it to the airfield and suddenly we had COMPANY no more than 50 meters behind us in the form of a 4th place runner and pacer exiting the woods!!!  Troy saw it immediately and started ratcheting up the pace and I just tucked in behind him and held on for dear life.  (I’m no stranger to close finishes having fended off former winner Eric Grossman for 3rd place with 2 miles to go at the 2013 Mountain Masochist (MMTR) 50 miler and then dueling with defending champion and Patagonia teammate Brian Rusiecki in the last mile for my first MMTR50 win in 2014.)  The flat running at this point felt fantastic and gradually the gap extended by the time we hit the pavement and Meredith joined us having parked the car at the finish line fire station and ran backwards to meet us.  She enthusiastically encouraged Troy and me on and confirmed that it was Ben Bucklin and his pacer wife (and 2016 Hardrock 100 finisher no less!) behind us.  Ben had an excellent Green Gate to the finish at this year’s Western States 100 and got around me somewhere between Green Gate and Hwy 49.

-such sweet relief to eyeball the railroad tracks leading to the Easton fire station finish line under the cover of darkness, and to be greeted by co-RD Adam Hewey with a well earned CC100 buckle and hooded sweatshirt.  Super proud of Meredith and Troy for keeping me on the ball all day and cracking the whip especially the last 2 miles to hang on to 3rd place, earn the 2017-2018 Hardrock qualifier AND beat the sunrise!  Other than leaving my Julbo shades in the back of my pack all night I can’t think of anything they should have done differently :O !  Thanks to Ben for fighting to the finish and keeping me honest all day.

-after a quick retreat to the rental house for a hot shower and an enormous breakfast at the Cottage Cafe, Mer, Troy and I finally got a couple hours of early morning shut-eye before Krissy and her crew arrived for breakfast #2 at the house.  Major props to Krissy and her #rookiecrew for the win!

-for me, Cascade Crest offered up the best “back to the basics” combination of Wasatch Front 100, Leadville Trail 100, and Run Rabbit Run 100 minus the altitude.


All in all, I’m once again incredibly blessed and fortunate to be happy, healthy, and in great spirits.  The 2nd half of 2016 has already offered up some enormous gifts.   HUGE thanks to all my sponsors and supporters for helping make this “back to the basics” journey possible.  Mahalo for reading.



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Not all race reports are fun to write…this was one of those.

Race week could 100% NOT have gone any better.  Easy travel into Squaw, quick drive back to the Patagonia Reno Outlet on Wednesday for a pre-WS100 panel discussion  (thanks Ginger Runner for moderating!), couple normal easy hikes and runs, plenty of rest and time to get appropriately focused.  Karma smiled upon Meredith and me twice as we had the opportunity to host and share time with the legend David Horton in our rental condo, and also 20-time finisher Jim Scott and his wife Mary Jo joined our crew for support at Robinson Flat, Bath Road, and Rucky Chucky far side.  Weather was looking to be nice and warm, not quite 2013 hot but warmer than 2015 for sure.  No excuses, all systems GO!

Race started controlled and with a healthy respect for the day ahead.   The hike/run up to Watson’s Monument felt super easy and the first couple aid stations at Lyon Ridge, Red Star Ridge, and Duncan Canyon had me exactly where I wanted to be (15 – 20th place, a couple minutes slower than anticipated, within striking range of 10-15th place) without having to play any matches or over exert myself.  The miles came easy in the high country, footwork was smooth (NO falls this year), and my crew of Meredith and training partner & friend Troy Bertram took phenomenal care of me at Duncan Canyon mile 24, ice bandana #1!WS2016

The climb up to Robinson Flat from Duncan Creek had historically been a relative low point for me the last 3 years, but with some minor adjustments she let me arrive in great spirits and feeling superb.  Jim and Mary Jo had a fresh ice bandana and good calories waiting at Robinson Flat, and the subsequent climb up to Little Bald Mountain came equally as smooth.  With 30 of 100 miles neatly tucked away and a gorgeous dry sunny day ahead I methodically motored on…

Again, Troy and Meredith and the good people at Dusty Corners took great care of me 8 miles later, staying wet, ice bandana, good calories, etc.  The super-fun descent down to Last Chance and Deadwood Canyon came off without a hitch and I took some extra time at the spring on the far side of Swinging Bridge to get wet, reload my simple water bottle for staying wet, and embarked upon the Devil’s Thumb climb, which I’ve done so many times now between training camps and racing that I know not even to think about running the early sections and instead settle into a steady power hike and work my way into it.  This year, however, by the time I emerged on top of the climb, WHOOOFFF, that was harder than it should have been!!!  Okay, no problem, relax, be patient, take your time here, get cool, get iced down, there’s still a LONG day ahead…huge thanks to Joe Uhan and others for catering to my every need here!

2016michiganbluffOnward to El Dorado Creek and enroute perform some self-triage in anticipation of the climb up to Michigan Bluff, which, much like the climb up to Devil’s Thumb, ended up being WAY harder than it should have been.  Okay, no problem, keep rolling, get to your crew at mile 56, rally, things WILL come around!

At Michigan Bluff, I traded the Best Day Ever visor that I had been wearing for a tropical bucket hat loaded with ice.  SMART move, that felt great!!!  Volcano Canyon can be super hot and today was no exception.  Totally submerged in Volcano Creek and Jim was eagerly awaiting me at the base of Bath Road like the total pro he is!  We made good time up to Foresthill at which time Troy and I set our sights on Cal Street (his first time!) – plenty of work to be done…

2016WS Seemed I had slipped into somewhat of a no-man’s land with few runners close enough to trade spots with.  Still we pressed on towards the river, making tidy, efficient, business-like work of the 16 mile stretch.  Poor Troy selflessly gave himself whiplash turning his head around so many times checking on me.  Crossing the river on foot via cable no doubt was a highlight, expecting the cool baptism to stoke the competitive juices for the remaining 20 miles.  Dang that felt great!  Meredith, Jim, and pacer #2 Lee McKinley were on the far side and sprang into action with cold drinks, positive encouragement, and course updates.  I felt ok, but continued to fight on.  I welcomed the calories on the climb, but did not embrace spouse encouragement.  It was here she decided I would be best motivated staying with Lee to the finish.  Onward after a quick shoe change from Claytons to a fresh pair of Clifton 2s.  THANK you Jim for the advice to stay with the same pair of socks which were working fine and just change shoes only, that worked great!

paul WSLiving in Auburn, Lee knows the stretch from Green Gate to Highway 49 as well as anybody and we did our best to make it to Brown’s Bar without turning on our headlamps.  We ALMOST made it, but not quite.  After a quick encounter with some wildlife eyeballs on the Quarry Road, we kept the pace up, continually scanning ahead for headlamps and fading runners.  None to be had unfortunately.  The Highway 49 aid station could not come soon enough and my only focus was to grab my bottles and keep moving as at the time I thought that a sub-18 hour finish might still be possible.  Nothing to be gained by lingering here. All I knew was I wanted to get up to the Meadow SO BAD!!!  Lee caught up and we kept chipping away at the remaining 7 miles.  At No Hands Bridge the reality of going over 18 hours set in yet as 2 good friends experienced at ultras we kept up the charge knowing full well that the quicker it’s over the closer we were getting to dinner!

Oddly, at the base of the Robie Point climb, we passed a runner and his pacer very slowly making their way up the climb.  Hmmm…THAT’S interesting…Lee asked me if I knew who that was, to which I replied, “Lee, I think that was Jim Walmsley!”  (2016 Bandera 100k and Lake Sonoma 50 champ and former race leader).  You just never ever know what is going to happen and that is why you “NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER GIVE UP.”  A 5th consecutive sub-24 hour finish is nothing to sneeze at, and Meredith and Troy enthusiastically greeted us at the Robie Point aid station for the quick jaunt on the pavement through the neighborhood to the track.  While the day didn’t play out as we had hoped, collectively as a team we keep fighting for it and giving it our all.

paul and bob All in all, I’m once again incredibly blessed and fortunate to be happy, healthy, and in great spirits.  Meredith and I are SO eager to see what the 2nd half of 2016 has to offer up!!!  HUGE thanks to all my sponsors and supporters for helping make these journeys possible.  Mahalo for reading.



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How Do You Feel About How You Feel?

Before we head into the spring training and racing season, let’s get in a little recap of the winter.

These recaps have been LONG overdue so I’ll work from what’s freshest in the mind (RR100) and work backwards to Bandera.

2016 Rocky Raccoon 100 USATF Championships 


The goal going in for RR (4 weeks after Bandera 100k) was to repeat as USATF 100 mile trail champion, compete for the overall win (i.e. keep Ian Sharman somewhat within striking distance), go sub-14 hours (last year went 14:05), and run a sub 3-hour final 20-mile loop (last year ran 3:16 for the last loop). Meredith also “recommended” I be at least 40 minutes in front of the women’s winner (last year Nicole Studer crossed the line just 17 minutes after me). Ambitiously, I thought that a 2:35/2:35/2:40/2:45/2:55 progression of lap splits was possible resulting in a 13:30 finish time. My splits last year were 2:33/2:39/2:44/2:53/3:16. Without further adieu, here’s how it played out…

Loop 1: 2:33. Ian took off like a jackrabbit and I settled into a smooth comfortable pace with eventual women’s winner Sabrina Little and last year’s women’s winner Nicole Studer. The two of them were chatting it up and absolutely hammering the Triple C Trail sections (aka Superhighway due to the regrading) into and out of Damnation. Was cautious to give my right hammy plenty of time to come up to operating temperature before the sun came up, after which I passed my gloves and Drymax arm warmers to my crew.

Loop 2: 2:39. By this point I had separated from Sabrina and Nicole, Ian already had 5 minutes on me at the start of the 2nd loop and would more than double it to 11 minutes by the end of the loop. All systems were GO and my crew of Meredith and Justin were in GREAT spirits in the crisp morning. Julbo Aero sunglasses were PERFECT for picking up the roots and nuances as the trail weaved in and out of the shadows. USATF representative Jason Bryant conducted his first of 2 “live, on-trail” interviews during this loop.

Paul Terranova – Interview on the Run2 from meredith on Vimeo.

Loop 3: 2:46. Despite falling off my projected splits, I was feeling GREAT and moving really really well. No headphones, sunshine and clear skies keep me clicking off the mile splits of 3-3-7-3-4 for each loop. The night before the race, I listened to the UltraRunner podcast interview that Eric Schranz and Sarah Lavendar Smith did with Matt Fitzgerald, author of the new book “How Bad Do You Want It?” My takeaway for the race was one that Sarah mentioned, “How do you feel about how you feel?” This phrase got lots of airtime in my mind, along with that new Justin Bieber song “Love Yourself”, ha!

Loop 4: 3:02. Justin jumped in as my safety runner/pacer and we made what felt like quick work of it. Jason’s conducted his 2nd “live, on-trail” video during this loop. We easily would have come in under 3 hours had I not stopped briefly to take advantage of the porta-potty at the gate right before the Park Road aid station. The sun was starting to set and my crew got my gloves, arm warmers and a short sleeve shirt ready for the final loop.

Loop 5: 3:22. Meredith took Justin’s place at the Nature Center aid station and our goal was to get as far as possible past the Damnation aid station before having to turn on our headlamps. For some reason, we both felt that I moved so much better this year even though the time doesn’t reflect it in comparison. Proud to have run every single step this year, having done a little bit of hiking the last 8 miles of the race last year.

All in all, absolutely thrilled with how the race played out.   14:24 total time and 39 minutes behind Ian (was 33 minutes behind him last year). OF course I would have liked to run faster, break 14 hours, go sub-3 for the last loop. Heck, I had PLENTY of motivation with pounds of New Zion Church BBQ waiting for me at the hotel room. Sabrina finished 31 minutes after me. There is still work to be done!!

Many thanks for the work that physical therapist Dr. Kevine Norris substituting for out-of-town Dr. AJ Zelinksi at Little River Healthcare Chiro & Rehab and their team did on me the week before the race to get me ready. Thanks too to Lisa for the pre-race massage and Jamie for the finish-line massage!

2016 Bandera 100km USATF Championships

Having no pressure to earn a Golden Ticket by virtue of my 10th place finish at States last year, I came in wanting to podium, earn the USATF Master’s title, and apply lessons learned from my tactically deficient 2014 race where I went off the front like a buffoon. It’s no secret that minimizing your positive split from loop 1 to loop 2 is the key to doing well here. My plan was a 4 hour first loop and a 4:20 second loop.

Loop 1: 3:59. The Hill Country State Natural Area treated us to a BEAUTIFUL morning and a relatively tame start that broke apart somewhat going up towards Ice Cream Hill but then for some reason regrouped shortly after the Chapas aid station at mile 11. Denucci made a cheeky acceleration coming through the fields after Mendoza stepped off the trail briefly to take care of some business. Mario quickly caught back up and by the time we hit Cross Roads at mile 16 I was a couple minutes back but stoked to be within striking distance. Fellow Texan Ford Smith and I ran together through Last Chance (mile 25) before he accelerated and gapped me coming into the Lodge. Meredith had me in and out of the Lodge for loop 2!

paul at bandera

Loop 2: 4:40. I kept pressing the whole loop knowing that just about anything can happen in a race of this distance. The cool but sunny and breezy conditions out here can be deceptively dehydrating, and cramps can appear without any notice. Walmsley, Denucci, and Mendoza were absolutely crushing it in 1st/2nd/3rd positions. Caught back up to Ford on the approach to Sky Island and we motored into the Nachos aid station which nothing but a water bottle fill-up for me but Ford needed to catch back up on calories. Meredith kept encouraging me at each aid station to stay on the gas which I was happy to oblige. Seeing your wife selflessly crew and ride her mountain bike from aid station to aid station brings out many grateful and humble feelings. Coming into the Last Chance aid station with 6 miles to go, Meredith informed me that Mario left only 6 minutes before and was walking with his wife towards the finish. Patiently, I kept my eyes peeled up the trail for him around every corner, tree, and bush. Unfortunately, I never saw him and crossed the finish line thinking that I was still in 4th place, only to be informed later that Mario turned back around to the Last Chance aid station and pulled the plug having succumbed to the effects of the flu. SO, an 8:39 finish which was about a minute PR for me out here.

All in all, I’m incredibly blessed and fortunate to be happy, healthy, and in great spirits. Meredith and I are so eager to see what the rest of 2016 has to offer up!!! HUGE thanks to all my sponsors and supporters for helping make these journeys possible. Mahalo for reading.

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End of 2015 Review – Time Flies when you are having fun

Got in a lot of “firsts” after States this year; the plan was to go run and experience terrain/conditions/fatigue in different ways to expand the ole’ comfort zone…

 July 2015: (photos Paul Nelson)


-ate WAY too many Girl Scout cookies, THAT will not happen again!

-tackled the Speedgoat Triple (Vertical Mile/50k/Quadbanger) in Snowbird, UT. Finished 3rd overall behind HOKA teammates Timmy Parr and IronMike Wardian. Not only is Speedgoat Karl an accomplished athlete but a seasoned RD as well.

August 2015: telluride1

-Experienced my first taste of the San Juans at the Telluride Mountain Run, CO. Dakota and Reese keep it simple, the way most trail races used to be!

-Revisited my night running skills at the Capt’n Karl’s 30k at Reveille Peak Ranch, Burnet, TX.   Brad Quinn and his Traverse Running team have us Texans running ALL summer long!


September 2015:

-Almost pulled off The Rut Triple (VK/25k/50k) in Big Sky, MT, but smartly opted for the 11km on day 3 instead of the gnarly 50k. RDs Mike and Mike bring the whole festival, kids run, and even snow up at the top of Lone Peak!   Thanks to Myke Hermsmeyer for catching a sweet photo from the 25k that appeared in the November 2015 issue of Competitor Magazine .

-Joined my Rogue Running teammates for another edition of the Zilker Relays Hard to beat 2.5 miles of speedwork at 5:38 pace and a great summertime post-race party on the Zilker Park lawn.

-Revisited the Lighthouse Run for a 10-mile trail run followed by a 55-mile bike ride home with Mer, and some mid-ride snacks.

midride snacks

October 2015:

-Finally experienced a Spectrum Trail Racing event out at one of our favorite places to run McKinney Roughs Nature Park. RD and longtime Pure Austin trainer Mallory Brooks also keeps my ass in shape (and me uninjured when I inevitably hit the dirt) by virtue of her Monday morning class, a staple of my weekly training!

-Served as a volunteer mentor at the Team RWB Trail Running Camp Always a gift to be able to give back to a community that is so appreciative and thankful. HUGE shout out of thanks to sponsors and supporters Drymax socks, patagonia, Rogue Running, thinksport, Bonk Breaker, Simple Hydration, Oral IV, TriggerPoint/Implus, and David Fuentes for their product and/or gift card donations to help the weekend “run” smoothly. Be sure to check out the transcript from my “This I Believe” testimony to the campers posted here:

Paul Terranova: “No excuses, do the work. This I believe.” October 2015 No excuses, do the work. This I believe. The consistent theme in my journey to an ultra trail runner has been and continues to be doing the work and not making excuses along the way. As a 7th grader, I didn’t make the school soccer team, but I showed enough hustle to make the basketball team. As an 8th grader, I got cut from the basketball team and instead channeled my energy towards tennis. As a high school doubles tennis player, we won a state title my junior year. And as a collegiate lightweight rower, I never made the first boat but we won a bronze medal in the JV boat my senior year. Doing the work at a young age paid off in the Army with graduation from Airborne, Sapper Leader, and Ranger schools. Not making excuses in the Army paid off in the civilian world as my interests now turned towards marathons and adventure racing. The work invested up to then continued to compound into triathlon, Ironman, and now into ultra trail running.When grinding away in a deep block of training or running through the cold night on trashed quads, my belief in the body of work that I’ve assembled keeps me going.Times when others have given up on their minds and their bodies and are content to lay on the couch all weekend, I strive to be the antithesis of that.And when the weather turns nasty and people start griping about it, my belief in doing the work, in chopping wood and carrying water, gets me out the door. No excuses, do the work. This I believe.


-Featured by Redbull in their Adventure Essentials series The end result of the piece left us somewhat “chafed” at it wasn’t EXACTLY what author Whitney Boland and I had in mind…the submitted piece had a lot more content and meaning to it.

-Returned the IronSherpa favor for Meredith at Ironman Cabo San Lucas and got to brush up on my VERY stale conversational Spanish! Made some amazing amigos along the way.


November 2015: Mmtr win

-Defended last year’s win at Mountain Masochist 50 miler while banking some family time with my parents and sister’s family and kids. Weekend trifecta with Meredith’s birthday and a return to the land of Sweet Baby Jesus peanut butter porter! As always, Clark Zealand and his Eco-XSports crew have this race dialed in.

-Honored to be named 2015 USATF Men’s Master Trail Runner of the Year:


December 2015:


– While December started a little surprising, each day brings us closer to a new year and has been filled with many wonderful positives to fill each day.

-The Running Event 2015 Always great to see in-person what is coming down the pipe, witness the Beer Mile World Championships , and take HOKA co-founder Nico Mermoud for a run on one of my favorite trails here in Austin!

-2nd Masters at TNF50 and super-proud of our team for grabbing 2nd place men’s in the inaugural USA Ultra Trail Team Invitational Hopefully, there will be more team events like this in the future!

-Humbled to be named among Olympic Silver Medalist and HOKA teammate Leo Manzano and the indominatable Gilbert Tuhabonye as the best runner in Austin.

-Excited about the grassroots efforts of to promote clean, PED-free MUT running.

-PRed the 2nd annual 12 Workouts of Christmas.



All in all, I’m incredibly blessed and fortunate to be happy, healthy, and in great spirits this Christmas season. Meredith and I are so eager to see what 2016 has to offer up for everyone!!! Mahalo for reading.


“Let us be what we are, and let us be it well.” – St. Francis de Sales

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A 2015 WS100 Reflection: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” –Dr. Seuss

I said it during the Trail Runner Nation podcast on tapering and I’ll write it here again: the weeks and days before and after any Western States (or any “A” race) are downright bittersweet (but still more sweet than bitter). The long journey is almost over, race week goes by SO fast, race day goes by EVEN faster, and the days after are spent playing and replaying the events of the journey in your head, in your dreams, with crew and pacers, via photos, videos, interviews, liking, sharing, tagging, etc. My reluctance as of late to tap out race reports seems to stem from wanting to hold on to and savor the experience for as LONG as humanly possible. Normally I’m ready to quickly move on to the next training block and/or race, but the build-up to States for me is a 20+ week process. Writing it out somehow feels like the closing finale, and dangit I have some Girl Scout cookie eating to do!

“Driving slow on Sunday morning, and I NEVER wanna’ leave…” – Maroon 5

This reflection will merely serve to fill in the gaps and/or elaborate on what the results, post-race interview  and post-race roundup may not have captured.

-Catching your toe and hitting the dirt/rocks HARD early on the high country with fellow 40-49 AG competitor Sondre Amdahl right behind you was NO fun. Tuck and roll, baby, tuck and roll. Thankfully, Sondre helped me recollect my scattered bottles and get back moving. Was thankful to have arm sleeves on to minimize the damage, left knee took the brunt of this first fall. Had the crew proactively slap some cycling cream (DZ NUTS) on the knee (and later on quads, hammies, calves, etc.) to keep things from tightening up at Dusty Corners, Foresthill, and Green Gate. “Thorough preparation makes its own luck.” – Joe Poyer dznuts

-Ultralegend and ultraphotographer Gary Wang was seemingly EVERYWHERE on course. So cool to see him and other friends and supporters out there capturing the race in images and video. ws2015

-Catching your other toe and face-planting in the dust on the descent down to Swinging Bridge (right after the new smaller bridge) was even LESS fun. Thought one of my two bottles was going to plunge down the cliff (which would have left me with only one for the hot climb up to Devil’s Thumb) but was saved by the Diego Maradona “hand of God” If a runner falls in the woods and there is no one to see him/her, did it really happen? fun meter-Catching your other other toe and supermanning into the ground almost at the end of the descent down to El Dorado Canyon totally PEGGED my fun-meter! Gosh, I got to the aid station absolutely filthy and livid with myself for falling a third time as I’m sure the aid station volunteers there can attest. However, taking the time to get wet (and partially clean) before the climb up to the oven (aka Michigan Bluff) was well worth it! Super thankful for all the cross-training, hot yoga, and sauna sessions (i.e. training multipliers) I continue to put in year after year at Pure Austin . Other than my upper body being mildly sore 6 days after the race, any 1 of those 3 falls could EASILY have ended my day.

“This summer’s gonna’ hurt like a mother…” – Maroon 5

-High-fiving HOKA teammate Mike Morton, yeah THAT Mike Morton , coming through Michigan Bluff was a total surprise and incredibly motivating!!!! Thanks Mike for being out there!

-High-fiving HOKA teammate Jorge Maravilla, aka the happiest man in ultrarunning, coming through Foresthill is equally as motivating, thanks Jorge!!!

-Putting ice in your arm sleeves really helps. In 2013 I wore an Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest and we put loads of ice in the back pouch that worked really well too.

-Pretty sure I saw a tarantula on the side of the gravel road between Michigan Bluff and Volcano Canyon, didn’t stick around long enough to confirm and I was lucid enough that it definitely wasn’t a hallucination!

-Was ever so briefly in 10th place between Cal-3 and the River after getting around Ryan Smith and his pacer Ashley Erba, before getting absolutely steamrolled by the Australian express Andrew Tuckey at Sandy Bottom. BMort and I hung tough and kept him in sight to the river crossing, reminiscing about the 2013 battle for top-10 here with Patagonia teammate Jesse Haynes and Jeremy Humphrey .

-Yes, crossing the American River on foot by cable feels as refreshing as it looks!!! Next year, God willing, I will pull/float myself across the river like Krar did, seems like an efficient way to get across without having to navigate your feet around and over the big slick submerged rocks.

-Smart move: Made a game-time decision (coming up Bath Road) to change shoes and Team RWB socks at Green Gate this year. The past 2 years I’ve swapped out shoes/socks at Foresthill. This year worked out really well. Changed from Challenger ATRs to a lighter (and drier) pair of Cliftons (same ones I wore at Rocky Raccoon 100 this year) for the last 20 miles.

-Green Gate to Highway 49: BMort and I just kept pressing forward and staying positive, we knew that someone in front of us was going to have to crater or fold and we just needed to be in position to capitalize on it. Hal, yeah THAT Hal Koerner , gave us a heads-up at his Brown’s Bar aid station that we might be seeing Francois sitting in a chair at Highway 49. Time to move bro’! When we got there it was all business, grab bottles, Meredith walked me through and gave me a quick update (MAJOR thanks to Mike and Cindy for keeping my crew updated with the latest tracking information), and Justin and I were off. Heard cheering about 2 minutes after we left so either Francois had rallied or we had company from somebody else moving well. Bombs away! RUN HARD FOR MACKEY.  Huge props to Francois for rallying after getting sick pre-race, being in the lead and top 5 nearly all day, and then sticking it out for the finish.

-FINALLY had a good climb up to Robie Point and on the pavement!!! HUGE thanks to Patagonia teammate and States legend AJW for meeting my crew and me for the celebratory run to the track. WOW, we had fun and it’s definitely satisfying to put forth an effort that he and others appreciate and does this event the justice it deserves. Finish line hug 2015

When the sweet ache of being alive,
lodged between who you are
and who you will be,
is awakened,
befriend this moment.
It will guide you.
It’s ache is what moves you.

~Mark Nepo~

-The aftermath: another well-earned post-race In-N-Out Burger feast and post-awards ceremony Pete’s Brewhouse Monster Cookie and Delta Mudslide Pie

-The after-aftermath: bookend workouts…Tuesday afternoon road my beater mountain bike (aka billy-goat) to the library to drop off/pickup books and got absolutely DUMPED on by torrential rains. Two weeks before States I hit the Austin High track on an early Sunday morning for my last hard track workout, I call it the Igloi 7k and it ABSOLUTELY came down in buckets the entire time I was out there. The gift was I had the track ALL to myself and got treated to some double rainbows. Good karma indeed. Thanks for reading, see you in Squaw 2016.

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Now THIS is 40!

Yes, it’s Meredith Hijacking the blog…

I was starting to worry about turning 40: a turned ankle/swollen painful foot at Mt. Masochist and then two weeks later strep throat and deep self doubt, fear, and really just feeling icky.

In February I completed Ultraman Florida. I thought, “cool that’s done let’s move on.” But I couldn’t quite move on. I knew the Ultraman World Championship was lingering out there over Thanksgiving weekend…9 months after Florida. I went back and forth with Julie (Julie Shelley who won the women’s race at Florida and we kept in touch). It was almost a dare to each other: “I’ll put in if you do.” And so we both did. AND, we were both accepted. From the beginning it felt so different than Florida because circumnavigating the Big Island of Hawaii seems sooo much bigger than a jaunt through Florida. I had never raced in Hawaii while Julie and Paul were Hawaii Ironman veterans. They seemed to have a feel for the island that I couldn’t fully wrap my head around.

The true training began in May, with what I knew Mike Le Roux would put the finishing punishment on starting in August. As he said it wasn’t just about swimming, biking, and running, it was about becoming strong enough for the ocean swim; having the strength and power for the winds and the climbing on the bike; and then getting to the run. With me he never worries about the run. He knows that even if it’s not on the schedule I always seem to find a way to run. He liked to remind me that this race is about being able to get through days one and two not so thrashed so that I could have a good run, meaning I would have to focus on the bike. My darn lack of cycling always bites me in the butt J

So I made some big choices if I truly wanted to be prepared to survive what the Island had to throw my way. I would seek out the hills and the wind in Austin. I would spend 10 days riding in Colorado and learn how to climb for over an hour and descend with less fear. And I would take advantage of every ounce of heated sunlight to get ready for the hardest race I would ever attempt. I can still remember the great training days: climbing Cheyenne Canyon, riding every climb around Golden, CO (don’t know if I will call the descent one of my finest…might have eaten through my brake pads and kept asking Paul if I would need spare brake pads for Hawaii), a Sunday morning fartlek run on Magnolia Road after days of punishing climbing and descending (might still be cursing Silke on these), riding Bandera to Leakey and the 5 mile climb…I kept thinking how can you possibly climb for 5 miles in TX, well you can and I did; 4x1K swim for my birthday, and my very last Hamilton Pool repeat ride. But, with those came the hard days: riding Hamilton Pool repeats into the middle of a cold front while ignoring the beginning of strep; a few days I chose the trainer vs. road for no good reason; so many runs that I just felt darn slow; and after 4 hard long days really being over my own company. Would all of this be enough? It was a question I couldn’t stop asking myself no matter how much Mike and Paul tried to have me believe.

Finally, the week was here. We arrived in Hawaii, got settled in, and made plans for our first pre-race workout. We met Gary Wang for an amazing swim to Captain Cook monument and back. It was a wonderful 2 mile swim to remember how saltwater ocean swimming is. I had a bike ride on the schedule as well, and Gary suggested riding the first climb from the water. After lunch that day Paul dropped me off at the swim exit and off, ummm up, I went. I maxed out my gears, my heart was in my throat, and all I could think was “MERCY.” All I could think is that I would be the first person to DNF 2 miles into the ride. How could I finish this ride? I wasn’t ready? OMG! I continued riding up, and finally at 7.5 miles turned back and DOWN to the house we had rented. To say I was shaken was the understatement of my life. Julie came to our house that night and I shared with her the only piece that I was feeling comfortable about…the weather looked like it would be forgiving. Sure enough she went for a ride the next morning, and cursed the heck out of me because I stirred Madame Pele and the winds with my prediction. Lovely.

That Tuesday we hitched a ride with the Canoe Club out to the last 1.5 miles of the swim. The waves and swells were screaming. Apparently there would be NO gifts from the Island for me. The swim was rough, but honestly the canoe ride out was rougher so I felt at peace with whatever the water would deliver. I met Karen and Rebecca from the Canoe Club. We set a plan of Karen paddling and Paul riding on the boat to care for me. They were wonderful. I felt so calm with them and loved their genuine excitement for me, my race, and Hawaii. They didn’t even know me and were willing to give of their days to support me and then come back and cheer for me. I was and still am speechless.

Tuesday night was the one true break from the pre-race thoughts as we had family Thanksgiving with Sarah, Todd, Julie and Alyssa. I think there were times in training that Julie and I were looking more forward to this meal than the race. And, YES, there was turkey because apparently it is NOT Thanksgiving without Turkey.

We did check-in Wednesday, and then pre-race meeting on Thursday. There was definitely more of a calm during this process than in Florida. Maybe it is because I had done it before or maybe it was the looming bigness of the race that made all of the other details seem so minor.

Thursday afternoon and evening was filled with eating my pre-race dinner, legs up, and then the ridiculousness I decided to put myself through. I start examining the % grade of each and every climb I was about to face. What in the world was I thinking? Who does that? The work was done, and all of a sudden I was put myself into a self-doubt panic. My head starting saying, “this is impossible. I am not a cyclist. I can’t do this.”

And, then I woke up the next morning and this happened…

There are so many stories. Really, there are too many stories. But if you want to hear:

  • Our buddy at the Hostel passed out drunk and then having a beer at 5AM so that he could retrieve his sunglasses
  • Changing bike shorts at the side of the road at mile 30 Day 2
  • My love for Fanta
  • My crew concocting chemical concentrations of fuel
  • My apologies to the Lava
  • A bottle spike on Day 1
  • A “I didn’t come out here to walk” bottle spike during the run
  • And, the best exchange between Dan (Julie’s husband) and Paul before I finished: D “how did you get her moving so well again” P “I pissed her off”

Take me to lunch, let’s grab a drink, or let’s go on a hike and share stories!

HUGE additional thanks to: Jack and Adams for EVERYTHING on my bike, Pearl Izumi, Drymax, Bonk Breaker, and Organic Valley.

Until then, thanks for reading and sharing in my journey with me!


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2 Minutes to What?

MMTR 50 bib_Oct 31, 2014“2 minutes!!!,” David Horton told us as we ran downhill past him as he mountain biked uphill from the mile 11 Dancing Creek aid station. “Two minutes to what?” I thought to myself, maybe 2 minutes downhill to the aid station, that’s not too bad. The only problem was we were way more than 2 minutes out from the aid station. Hmmmmm…I looked over to my running companions, 2-time MMTR 50 winner and defending champ Brian Rusiecki and Anthony Wind from the NYC, and conjectured about what David could possibly be talking about. Soon enough the aid station was upon us and upon departure heard someone say, “3 minutes.”   Hmmmmmm…is there someone in first place in front of us? Only time would tell. The 3 of us motored on down the trail, eventually encountering a mud-slinging Jeep Rubicon for which we wisely stepped off the trail and let by us. At the next aid station, mile 15 Parkway Gate, we got the confirmation that the couple minute splits we had received were for the first place runner, Californian Gary Gellin! Somehow he had gotten out in front of us, maybe under the cover of darkness with the 6:30am start, a sneaky move by the wiley veteran whether intentional of not!

Fortunately, this news provided us with a nice sense of mission and patient purpose to gradually reel him in. This was my 3rd time running MMTR 50 and Brian’s 4th time, so both of us have a healthy respect for the masochistic course profile, 9200’ of climbing and 7200’ of descent, the bulk of which occurs in the 2nd half of the course. Time is your ally out here so we kept the pace honest while appreciating the dissipating light drizzle, brief glimpse of a sunrise, and generally crisp fall morning in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Over the course of the next 3 aid stations, Robinson Gap at mile 17, Irish Creek at mile 20, and Reservoir at mile 22 (which might not have been set up yet when we got there), we widdled Gary’s lead to 90 seconds and every now and then caught a glimpse of his royal blue race kit and black knickers. Halfway up the steady 5-mile climb to Long Mountain (mile 27), we methodically motored past Gary who was obviously slowing after his quick start.


Mile 16Coming into Long Mountain, I quickly found my drop bag holding a pre-filled handheld bottle and a fresh supply of gels for the 2nd and arguably harder half of the race, which starts with another 3 miles of climbing up to Buck Mountain (mile 30). Brian, Anthony, and I paced ourselves well, yet Anthony soon was off the back. (after the race I learned that he had strained a hip flexor and ended up dropping). From then on, Brian and I ran virtually step for step for the next 20 or so miles. I enjoyed hearing about his Vermont 100 win and UTMB experience earlier this year before wrapping things up for the season here in Virginia. Brian and his wife Amy are from Amherst, Massachusetts so they normally dial the running back during the winter, whereas I’m starting to wind things back up after a post Run Rabbit Run 100 break. Two friends hitting the trails hard, running through the wind, over the wet rocks and leaves, and through the occasional snow flurries up top. Hard to ask for more. At one point Race Director Clark Zealand did chide us to stop “holding hands” and “start racing already!” We got a good chuckle out of that.


Far from being on autopilot, Brian remained alert at all times and kept us on trail and moving really well, him more so than me. In between Forest Valley (mile 42) and Porter’s Ridge (mile 47) I let me concentration lag just for just a couple of seconds and BAMMMM, down I went having clipped my toe on a leaf-obscured rock. UGH, that stung. Fortunately, I got upright lickety split and resumed running with Brian. Within a couple of minutes, the white course markings were nowhere to be seen and the snow flurries weren’t helping visibility any. The route we were heading FELT right, but smartly we backtracked a couple of minutes until we caught sight of the last white ribbon, looked around to see if we missed a turn off, realized we had not, and resumed down towards Porter’s Ridge. A couple of miles later, who else but David Horton again comes riding up the trail on his trusty mountain bike asking us if the course was marked properly!!! We informed him that the last mile and a half or so was void of ribbons and thanked him for confirming we were right about to the last aid station, which is where things finally start to get interesting…

I’m totally out of fuel at this point having taken my last GU gel shortly after my fall. No gels at the aid station so I opt to half fill my bottle with water. Meanwhile Brian is getting a splash of cola in his handheld, whoa good call, so I quickly take a mouthful of cola myself and give chase. We are running HARD and I’m doing my best to stay on Brian’s wheel while not taking another tumble, clearly envious of Brian’s bottle of “GO” juice!!!! Metering my effort is really my only realistic option at this point. (Flashback to this race last year: 2008 winner and MMTR veteran Eric Grossman catches me with 2.5 miles to go and I am holding on for dear life trying to preserve a 3rd place finish. Flashback to 2011 and Brian catches Eric at Salt Log Gap mile 41 before relinquishing the win to him by a mere 72 seconds!) Relax, breathe, and store whatever remaining energy you have for the last 1.5 miles: a steep smooth descent followed by a ¾ mile drag race on asphalt to the finish line. You can do this.

We’re here; exiting the rough Jeep trail Brian mutters something to the effect of, “well here we go…” My stride happily opens up and we’re moving FAST. Turnover is great and my eyes are fixated on nothing but the trail ahead. Orange spray-painted line marks 1 mile to go. 5 minutes of work, you can do this. Just like last year…I keep pressing forward until there’s no more acceleration to be had…

Pavement, yes this feels good, push off the toes and drive the elbows back, ¾ of a mile. A quick glance back and Brian is still running hard, “quit” is just not in his vocabulary despite the small gap. I know better than to lay off the throttle at this point and keep it pegged wide open. I’m out of the shaded trees now and Meredith spots me from the finish line and cheers me in like she has so many other times. After a pair of 3rd places here in 2011 and 2013 it’s sweet to finally win!!!

Thanks for reading y’all. None of this was possible without all my amazing sponsors, supporters, friends and family!!!!! -Paul

Sweet baby Jesus_Oct 31, 2014

Pre and post-race beer, Sweet Baby Jesus peanut butter chocolate porter from DuClaw Brewing in Baltimore, WOW!!!

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