|Promise Land with the team! April, 2013|
How do you describe to a stranger ultraVT?
UltraVT is a special group of friends associated with Virginia Tech who simply love to run. We love to run on trails and mountains mostly, but we also love running just for the sake of running. Anything from 5k to 100miles, we're out there doing it, and we're doing it together. We train together, crew for each other, share advice, travel, and just hang out together. We're like-minded folks who like pushing our limits mentally and physically, and we like goofing around while we do it. Frequently we smell and are covered in a sweat-dirt combo (mmmmm).
When did you get involved with ultraVT?
UltraVT started as a shoot-off from the VT Triathlon team. The older folks on the tri team my freshman year convinced (made) my roomates and I do an ultra. Soon enough Guy Love (Glove), whom you've heard about many a time on my blog, and I met on campus one day when we walked into each other wearing the same Holiday Lake 50k t-shirt. We started to run together and eventually learned of a couple other Hokies who run ultras. By the end of my Sophomore year we realized we had enough people to make a club to have a little more of a formal support system. So Guy and I named ourselves co-presidents and formally created the "Trail & Ultrarunning Club at Virginia Tech" in 2012. The team has changed much since the early days, but it's still a team of a bunch of friends who like pushing themselves.
How do you see yourself within ultraVT?
I find myself in an interesting role within our team. Glove enjoys taking care of the formal stuff about the club, the paperwork etc, so I worked on recruitment the first year of the team. Now as a senior I elected to take a step back and mainly just lead by example. I try to set a tone of discipline/determination with big miles and smart training while trying to race competitively. I'm very passionate about challenging ourselves, probably to the point of being too serious about most things in life, but I try to lead by example so we can achieve the most out of what we're given on earth. I like coming up with "really good bad ideas" and have a knack for convincing other people to join me.
What's your favorite aspect of ultraVT?
Easy! The people. We have our own personal shaman or physical therapist, probably one of the best in the nation (I kid you not) in Jordan Chang. His wife Kristen is also a team dietitian of sorts, setting examples of how to eat well and be healthy. Both alumni of VT still in Blacksburg, they're such great examples not only of athletes but of well rounded people. I want to be the Changs when I grow up. Other than the Changs, I pull inspiration literally from every other person on the team. Mainly, everyone loves to explore and travel. Those are two characteristics I've developed from my time at Tech and ultraVT is a strong part of that lifestyle.
What's your favorite trail run in the Blacksburg vicinity?
I'm going to go with a classic here, simply running up Old Farm in our nearby trail system, Pandapas. I've run that 1.6 mile, 1600' trail probably over 300 times in my life. It's by far the trail I've run most. It's a steady climb that's difficult yet still very doable. Getting to the top of Brush mountain and looking over to see Blacksburg all lit up at night is one of my favorite things. Before every semester I run solo up Old Farm and pause for an extended period of time to simply be at the top of Brushy and gaze upon the town.
Any secrets you'd like to share?
I can't justify putting once-worn clothes into the dirty laundry bag. Unless they were worn to a party, of course.
Favorite post-race meal?
As a college student I'm lazy post-race. Typically Chipotle tastes pretty good. I think if I had my mom always though, I'd go with her fish tacos followed by a hefty bowl of ice cream.
Make up a question & answer it yourself.
Why do you run so much?
Why do you run so much?
The blur of running two times a day most days, followed by long runs on the weekends, is such a crazy experience. It turns into a mental and physical blur. It's an incredible drug.
Mike Jones' synchroblog
Mike Jones' synchroblog
There you have it. The ultraVT introductory synchroblog from yours truly! Hopefully there will be more to follow. Off to Terrapin 50k now. It'll be an interesting one; my past two weeks were 95 miles and this week should end up over 100, so I'm tired but still stoked. Last time I ran it was 2012 and surprised myself at how well I ran, not getting chicked. I was looking at pictures from that year and thought about how I didn't know a thing about racing or being competitive. All that mattered was finishing and the smiles were endless. Ultras were runs, not races. There wasn't any "oh I hope I'm going to beat this or that person." I hate that about competition. I love competing because it draws the best out of you, but I don't like spoken or unspoken animosity. Nobody likes that. Anywho, Terrapin in 2012 really sealed the deal on my addiction. Onward!