Monday, March 9, 2009

Keene Coach Runs to Second

By Jon Pelland Sentinel Staff
Published: Sunday, March 08, 2009

While most people go into hibernation over the winter months, preferring the comfortable indoor warmth to the harsh elements, Justin Fyffe searches for an excuse to get outside and run — a lot. Fyffe, an East Dummerston, Vt., resident and 1998 Keene High graduate, didn’t want his race training to lag over the winter, so he set a goal. Since Thanksgiving, instead of enjoying hot chocolate by the fire, Fyffe, 28, trained seven days a week for the USA Track and Field 50-kilometer Championships, held last Sunday in Lloyd Harbor, N.Y., on Long Island.
“I used this race to stay motivated over the winter because it’s hard to stay motivated in the winter when its cold,” said Fyffe, who won last September’s Clarence DeMar for his first career marathon victory. “At least for me, it’s hard to get out the door unless I have a goal.“When there is a big race there are no excuses, I have to get out, I have to train and brave the elements.”
Fyffe finished the grueling ultra-marathon in second place, completing the 31.1 miles in 3 hours, 6 minutes, 49 seconds. The silver medal is proudly displayed on Fyffe’s Web log, which he uses to chronicle training and races. Michael Wardian of Arlington, Va., won the 38-person men’s open division in 2:56:36.Training began the day after Thanksgiving, and Fyffe said he didn’t miss one day until last week’s race. He ran through sub-zero temperatures, snow, sleet and freezing rain this winter. In January, at peak training, Fyffe ran 100 miles per week, including 20-24 miles on Sundays for what he simply called “long runs.”
“I didn’t really follow any (training program), I didn’t do anything extra for this 50k,” Fyffe said. “It’s just a lot of miles. I basically just trained for a marathon and just went the extra miles (in the race).”
Early-morning runs to work were also part of Fyffe’s regime. Fyffe, who works as an electrical discharge machine programmer, awoke at 4 a.m. and ran to work for 5. All that training paid off once he arrived on Long Island last weekend. The course for the ultra-marathon was set on a 2.35-mile loop that runners had to complete 13 times. As if racing in March wasn’t demanding enough, Fyffe said a portion of the course had racers running into head-on winds blowing hard off Long Island Sound. That caused sweat to freeze, only to melt later in the lap and re-freeze the next time through the wind.
“The months of training really give you the mental strength to handle any race day conditions,” Fyffe said. “You’re like, ‘Man it’s cold, but at least it’s not minus-18 and 4 o’clock in the morning. At least I don’t have to work today.’ You tell yourself anything you have to to get through it.”
Only recently has Fyffe raced competitively. He joined the Navy after graduating from KHS and didn’t begin seriously training until 2007, he said.Since then Fyffe has the DeMar victory, a first-place finish in last year’s USATF New England Mountain Grand Prix, first place in the Mount Cranmore Hill Climb and has run 12 marathons. He also joined the Central Mass. Striders, a race team based in Worcester, Mass.
“It’s so rewarding just running every day, being active, being outside all the time and just feeling healthy,” Fyffe said.
Notes: Justin Fyffe serves as a volunteer assistant coach for Keene High boys’ cross country and track and field. ... Fyffe was the Vermont high school state champion in the 3,000 meters as a junior in 1997. He transferred to Keene High the following year. ... The 50k championships have been held at Lloyd Harbor, N.Y., the past three years. They were held in Brattleboro from 1978-80. ... Fyffe’s blog can be found at

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