Meandering…Purposely Toward The Finish Line Vol 3

Cocodona 250 Aravaipa Running Heart of Arizona Footrace

Two weeks or so ago, I posted Volume 2 of Meandering…Purposely Toward The Finish Line and a few things have happened in those two weeks that it felt like the right time to post Volume 3.  Before you get started on Volume 3, and want to read Volume 1 and 2, click the link and then come back. For those of you that are just finding this blog series, the backstory is that Greg and I are running/racing Cocodona 250 in May of 2021 and this is a way to track my progress toward that finish line.

Thanks For The Links To Vol 1 & 2, Now Give Me New Info

Crew Chief and Pacers Are Starting To Line Up

Crew Chief – Maria Simone of No Limits Endurance Coaching

Maria will be my crew chief for this race and we have a long history together. Maria and I go back to 2012 when she coached me for my third Ironman at Ironman Texas in 2013. Since those days, Maria has remained a great friend of mine and somebody that I always look to for inspiration, laughter, motivation and insight. The reason that I had Maria as my number 1 draft prospect for this event is her experience at Tahoe 200 and how invaluable it will be to me during the lead up and in the moment of the event. I was also sold on our ability to work together in the toughest of times when I paced her at Rocky Raccoon earlier in 2020. We spent nearly 7 hours on the trail that night and we laughed the entire time. When things get tough, and they will, you will want to have people around you that will cheer you up but also smack you into reality and get you going again. Maria will be that person for me.

Pacer / Crew – Ashley Durstine

You may have seen Ashley’s name pop up in association with Team Dirt and Vert on this site as well as on social media. Ashley is our Group Lead in Phoenix Arizona and will be leading runs out there on Wednesday and Saturday. I was following Ashley on Instagram and all of her photos are of the White Tank Mountains or of Skyline Regional Park and they are always just so gorgeous. Over time, I’ve seen her ability to run and climb in the type of terrain that Cocodona will be run on and it just made sense for me to ask her to be a part of this adventure. Having somebody with experience and understanding of where I’ll be running will prove to be invaluable.

Pacer / Crew – Courtney Schwartz

If you can have somebody who lives in Idaho and has an ultra-running resume like she does, why wouldn’t you ask her to be a part of your team? Courtney lives in the mountains and runs up and down them (with her good dog Rush!!) and has an immense amount of experience that I will lean on during race week. Her knowledge of wind and different types of weather at the top of a mountain versus in the canyon will be helpful and her joy will be welcome when the moment comes, and it will come, when I am overly tired, overly hungry, snarky and just ready to tell everybody to fuck right on off.

Pacer / Crew – Michelle ‘Drum’ Blackard

Where do I begin? I met Michelle back in 2012 when we trained together for Ironman Arizona. 2 years later we trained for and raced Ironman Chattanooga. From those days in 2012 to now I have always looked to Michelle for inspiration and motivation as she goes from Ironman to Ultra Trail Runner to Mountain Biker. She moves through these sports with grace and with a passion for success. Michelle is also one of the most organized persons I know and that is going to be valuable as we make our way from Black Canyon City to Flagstaff. Having shared many laughs with Michelle over the years, I know that when the going is horrible she will get me to smile and laugh.

To the four of you, Thank You. You do not know what a relief it is to have this part of the race complete. It may not seem like much, but asking people to give up a week (or more) of their life to join me on an adventure through Arizona was stressful. This isn’t asking somebody to pace you for 5-7 hours on a trail and then get home within a day. This is asking somebody to give up time with family, friends, work and wait on you hand and foot (literally!) I cannot be more excited about this team as each brings with them a different perspective and experience that will prove to be invaluable during race week.

How Is Training Going?

Glad you asked. It is unofficially starting this week, and officially starting next week. October 1st was to be the day I started but I didn’t and then last week I had a lot of stress about life and I decided starting a training plan under those circumstances didn’t make sense. I wrote my first official week out and put it into Training Peaks with a November 1st start date. On Monday October 26th, I woke up with a green whoop recovery score, following three straight days of red, and that was very uplifting. I decided that I can start an unofficial plan during this week and allow that to flow into next week. In addition to that, Team Dirt and Vert is hosting a Halloween Night Run at Erwin Park and that’ll be a great way to kickstart this training plan.

Training Ideas? Have You Formulated Those Yet?

Yes, my goal is to be the strongest version of me when we start on May 3rd. This means that in addition to running, there will be a lot of hill repeats with different focuses. One day will be running uphill and not crushing myself downhill while others will be easy on the uphills and smashing myself on the downhills. I will be adding in running/hiking with my pack on to simulate those days out on the course when that pack will feel like it weighs 100 lbs. The Man-Maker on the treadmill will make a come back as will weight vest hikes on the treadmill followed by swims.

What I will not be doing is sleep deprivation training. I have not done that in any of the 100 mile training cycles I have done and find it hard to wrap my mind around. I am a big believer in consistency in training and recovery. Interrupting sleep patterns and causing inconsistencies in training doesn’t make much sense to me. Since I’ll be having a rolling aid station and pacers the need to train while sleep deprived and increasing my ability to get injured doesn’t make much sense

Are You Planning To Race Prior to May 3rd?

Simply put, YES. I am also planning on pacing.

Anything Else You Want To Share With Us?

In my last post, I mentioned getting another Inside Tracker test done. The results have come back and I have a few tweaks I need to make to my diet, and have already begun that process. I have increased my consumption of soy along with a bigger breakfast to get Iron, Vitamin B and Vitamin D into my system. I have also ordered AltRed as beets were a suggested food that I eat to help with my biomarkers. My morning and afternoon smoothies now incorporate beet juice, tart cherry juice. I’ll use AltRed on big training days.

I listened to my boy Hector Rodriguez on The Trail Life Podcast and it got me fired up for Coco250. Hector recently completed the Moab 240 and is in the lottery for Tahoe 200. Listening to him speak with excitement about racing, and the grind to the finish line and insight into racing this distance was awesome. I’ll be bookmarking this episode and listening over and over again because it’s down to earth with insight from a person who is not sugar coating the truth of the adventure and accomplishment.


This adventure is starting to take shape and I am excited for what is going to happen over the course of the next few months. There will be lots of thrills and excitement as well as downs and fuck this, I don’t want to train anymore. It’s all in a training cycle and especially for something like this where I have no idea where I’m headed but I’m certainly going to get there.

So, until the next time I post……Thank you for reading and please do not hesitate to ask me questions because they will help me formulate my plan.

Happy Trail Running….Find Your Dirt and Your Vert

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