Today we completed the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure tour in Amorgos, Greece. Amorgos is one of the smaller Cyclades islands and is the easternmost island in this group. Amorgos is home to one of the most amazing monasteries in Greece, Panagia Hozoviotissa. It is a cliff side monastery northeast of Chora. It is breathtaking to see this structure overlooking the blue waters of the Aegean Sea.
Today I finished in 4:42. I cannot tell you how blessed I feel that I could complete this tour at 52 years of age. Every tour has begun with inner doubts and fears, which leads to finding trust, which then forms into a faith that we can accomplish our aspirations. My body held up to the pounding, after racing the mile 5 times in 12 days in 2015. Since 2008, injury-free racing has been our theme. To have the ability and belief that I can put my toe on the starting line and feel I have an opportunity to break 5 minutes again and again. Thanks to my beautiful wife, Sekyen, and the www.OneMileRunner.com team members who help me stay physically healthy and spiritually inspired to break personal goals year after year.
This was my final multiple-race tour. I will participate in a couple of road mile races that I have not attended before in the US and Canada in 2016. We have done an incredible amount of mile racing since 2008. Now after six months of training, we will travel to Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Germany for a little rest before heading back to the States. Thank you all for your support and encouragement during all our races throughout the years.
As we await to hear what is going to happen with the Greek bailout, banks will remain closed all week and we will know by Sunday if the EU accepts the Greek proposal. Our time on the islands still remains peaceful and “business as usual” as I have even seen my first credit card transactions since we have been here on the island of Naxos.
Naxos is one of the bigger islands in Cyclades with a deep ancient history. We have enjoyed our time here taking in some of the ruins and archaeological digs on the island. This was the first race I ran without a “Meltemi” – the dry, northern wind I spoke about in my last post. We all had our best day this morning as our team ran the event seamlessly. I felt strong and safe on the road and ran a 4:41. Please take a quick look at the short video below highlighting the last quarter-mile of the race. Check out how we had to go around the man on his donkey… a great memory of our Greek runs.
Thanks to people like Petros (below), www.OneMileRunner.com has been able to execute these mile races around the world. Thanks for all your care and expertise Petros.
We now travel to Amorgos on the slow boat tomorrow afternoon. We are planning to race on Sunday morning. That would be 5 races in 12 days. Now it is time to recover for a day and finish well in my last race.
Beautiful Mylopotas beach is one of the best beaches in the Cyclades Islands as it continues to receive “Blue Flag” recognition with its golden sand and super clean waters. We had the opportunity to race in the area and it did not disappoint. This was the first race where I could actually warm-up on and train on beforehand. I think that helped with my visualization as I ran a 4:45 for Race #3. We have been dealing with extremely windy conditions this past week on the Greek islands. We have learned a new word since we have arrived, “Meltemi”, meaning a strong, dry north wind of the Aegean Sea. It has kept temperatures cooler, but the seas have been rough.
Last night was a huge vote for Greece. As the Greeks overwhelmingly rejected the demands for more austerity in a landslide NO vote 61% to 39%. This was the first Greek referendum in 41 years. It was a huge victory for Prime Minister Tsipras and his party. The banks will still be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday as the Eurozone negotiations begin with a new finance minister for Greece, Euclid Tsakalotos as Yaris Varoutakis stepped down after the voting results. It should be an interesting couple of days of meetings now with the European leaders.
We travel to Naxos tomorrow. The weather forecast calls for hotter weather without the windy conditions of the meltemi. We will see what this does to not only our boat ride, but also our race conditions next week.
So the big Greek citizen referendum is Sunday. Many people have been inquiring about the financial situation here. It is simple. It is all cash. I am traveling in the islands and it is very peaceful, but you must have cash in your pocket. I was planning on paying the hotel portion of the tour with my credit card, but with the capital arrears in place this past week, the local businessmen have no idea when they might get the money from the bank on credit card purchases. So put the credit cards away and take out your Euros – at least until Monday. Then we will find out if the Greek banks open or not after Sunday’s vote. Good thing we brought some extra Euros for our travels.
We had to run race #2 a day earlier due to some local changes. So with only a day rest in between my races, I crossed the finish line in 4:52 a bit fatigued. My first race I was very even as I ran a 2:22 half and then another 2:22. Today was different. I faced an incredible headwind in the first half of the race running a 2:29, then finished with a 2:23. Today reminded me of my speed workouts that I ran every Tuesday and Thursday to prepare for this tour. I broke up the workout into two knowing I would have to find that level of performance with very short rest. I think those workouts helped me run well today in these conditions.
Since we finished the race a day earlier, we had an opportunity to visit some of the island’s best beaches. Beautiful. The water is so clear and so blue it almost looks artificial. The highlight was Katergo, accessible only by boat, as it is considered by some as one of the world’s best beaches.
We are now off to Ios on Saturday July the 4th. Hope everyone back in the States has a great holiday weekend!
After months of training in the northeast mountains, it was time to fly from Tampa to Phoenix on September 11th. Loosened up on a couple of one hour runs in the dry heat of Phoenix, then traveled to Prescott to meet the rest of our party. Kim Sheffield and her nephew Maxwell Allen were running. My wife, Sekyen, and Kim’s husband, Mark, were the support team. It took us about 6 hours to drive to the picturesque North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This was my first time driving to the north side of the Grand Canyon. It is much more scenic than the entrance on the south side. We spent the night in cabins on the Grand Canyon Lodge. It was early to bed and early to rise as we slept around 930 and awoke at 4 to start our preparations. Oatmeal, walnuts, and a banana was all I needed for breakfast. A hot shower and a body rub with The Stick and then we all traveled about 1.5 miles to the entrance to the North Kaibab trailhead. We waited for the sun to lighten up the atmosphere in order for us to see our feet. We all formed a circle, held hands, and said a prayer to begin our day. We walked for a few minutes down the North Kaibab trail at 8,250 feet. Then we began our run passing by 7 hikers that started before us in the dark as we descended into the Canyon with the Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine all around us.
Kim and Max were “yahooing” down the Canyon trails hearing the echoes off the granite and sandstone walls. It was a wonderful start to the day. We ran past more hikers who stayed at Cottonwood Campground the night before. We ran through the man-made Supai Tunnel at about 6,800 feet, past Roaring Springs about 5 miles in, and through Cottonwood Campground at about 4,000 feet approximately 7 miles in to the run. After Ribbons Falls at 3,720 feet, we arrived at my highlight of the Grand Canyon run – “The Box.” The so-called “Box” is roughly a 4 mile stretch of trail that runs along Bright Angel Creek with 1,000 foot walls along your side. We were at times flying through this part of the trail as we took advantage of the shade and the stable footing. We completed the roughly first 15 miles in about 2 hours and 45 minutes arriving at Phantom Ranch at 2,480 feet. I smashed my left big toe on some rocks (and the front of my shoe due to the sharp 6,000 foot descent), but this part of the run was extremely enjoyable with the difficult part just ahead after we cross the Colorado River and work our way up the wall of the South Rim.
The last 7 miles is the challenge of the rim to rim run and we did not make it any easier by choosing the wrong trail to go up the South Rim. We chose the South Kaibab trail thinking we had enough fluids to run up, but we were wrong. The South Kaibab trail has no water supply, it is BYOW (bring your own water). It is also a very steep terrain which is not good for running. Only go down the South Kaibab trail (if starting on the South Rim) as the Bright Angel Trail is much better to climb. It has 3 water stops, some shade, and (although a bit longer than South Kaibab) a more conducive trail to run on with smoother switchbacks in order to ascend the 5,000 feet of elevation out of the Canyon.
At times on South Kaibab, it feels like your running is not faster than your hiking. So there was a mix of run/hike at this point. Then Kim felt sick from heat exhaustion with about 4 miles to go. With the slower pace, increased heat, and rising elevation, we were in trouble. She vomited and continued putting “one foot in front of the other” (in the words of encouragement from Max). Kim called it the “death march,” but she persevered and showed her incredible toughness. We ran out of liquids due to this portion of the run taking longer than expected. Thanks to the generous hikers coming down the Canyon and Mary, the wonderful ranger positioned at Cedar Ridge, we were able to receive more liquids. After another 3.5 hours for Max and me, and another 4.5 hours for Kim (as she hiked the last 1.5 miles with Mary), we completed the trek from the North Rim to the South Rim. With the problems on our ascent, it took us longer to complete the last 7 miles than the first 15 miles.
The roughly 22 miles through the Canyon had majestic views and sites we will not soon forget. It is now time for a bit of recovery and after a summer of training and running at elevation, to return to sea level on the Sarasota beaches.
We had Vega with every step of the way during our 2013 Body Protection world tour. I started my day with Vega One and finished every workout with the Vega Sport Protein Bar.
Now you can learn from famous chefs, Susan Feniger and Matthew Kenney along with Brendan Brazier in the new Thrive Kitchen as you learn new ideas on plant-based nutrition, preparation, and assimilation into your kitchen. Welcome to the Thrive Kitchen Edition: https://bit.ly/134lsW5 and check out this video for more information: https://bit.ly/1d4vtqq
All the best with optimizing your nutritional intake by including Thrive Kitchen into your lives!