Friday, October 21, 2011

Of Busy and Sickness...

Well got my second run in since the ATM, and it felt pretty good. I have been coping with the nastiness of the head cold / draining phlegm / hacking cough, so I just took a little time off to rest / heal / outprocess (moving in a few days to Kansas), so I have been just a little busy, but nothing beats a good run.

Nothing to complain about, but it was a bit slower, and colder, than last weeks run, but there comes a time that you realize that running isn't "just exercise", but really therapeutic. It is for me. Just nice to go out and run, without ipod, and just think, sing songs to yourself, or just whatever you want to, like zone out. I dig zoning out, except in high traffic areas, that is NOT fun.

But I used to run in college for a D1 team, cross country in the fall, track in the spring (winter was indoor season, but just as a "club" team) so I started to think of it as a "job", a way to pay the "bills" of school and kinda fell out of love with it. It wasn't until I was a sophomore that I got to run "different" events, like the 3000m steeplechase. Now that was fun!

First a little about steeplechase, if you never have seen it before. You get a bunch of tall, lanky runners, give them 7 laps on a track, but stick 4 36" hurdles (plus 1 36" water jump, see above) on the track and watch the chaos that ensues. Note the form of the first two runners; not too bad, jump up and push off the rail with your lead foot and try to get as far across the water hazard as you can. Third guy, not so much, but does add to the fun! For the rest of the hurdles, you try to hurdle them much like a hurdler, but they don't fall over like the thin hurdles, since they are 4x4 or 6x6 beams.

Well, now take me, I'm only 5'4", not the prescribed "tall and lanky", more like "short and tank-y", so my 64", 140lbs frame was at a major disadvantage, but hey, it was different and fun. My last steeplechase was at the Duke Relays and I was in the 2nd heat, and for 4 laps, leading the race. It looked like a short guy being chased by 16 6 foot and over dudes, kind of comical I guess. Well, the thing you don't want to do when leading is fall. Like I did. In to the water. Yeah, I was that guy. I managed to zone out and "wrong foot" my jump on the water barrier, hit my trail knee and flip into the water. To make matters worse, I put my hand down to try to get up, and was stepped on. Hard. With spikes. After the pack left me in my water grave, I got out and started to run a bit, but my knee was starting to swell and my hand was POURING blood all over their nice track, so I was flagged down by two Duke trainers and they started to work on me. Ouch!

But the moral of the story is, switch up your workouts every once in a while, try something different and don't always zone out, it might come back to bite you! Have a great Friday everyone!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Army Ten Miler Race Report / DC Trip Report

Well Jen and I had a nice trip to Washington D.C. this last weekend. It has been a few years since we were there last, so it was good to get back, even for such a short time. The main reason we were up in DC was for the 27th Annual Army Ten Miler. This would mark the longest race that I have ever competed in, which was previously held by the Inaugural High Noon Saloon Rudolph’s Red Nose Run 7.2 mile race in Leavenworth, Kansas (which I plan on running this year to try to beat my previous PR there!) So I have not branched out into the longer 13.1 or 26.2 mile extravaganzas, but that will come soon, I think. I really had two, well three, goals in mind when I started this race, first; run under 1:30, two; be in the top 10,000 (yeah, out of 30,000) runners and lastly, and most importantly, survive! Well I will tell you and not spoil it for you, I went three for three on those predictions! Yea me!

Jen and I decided to take the train up to Washington from Raleigh to save gas and frustration with parking up in the DC metro area, so we hoped the train and rode up the 6 hours to Union Station in DC with our friend, Chuck, who also ran the ATM for the first time, and yes, he survived too. From there we took the Metro subway to our hotel in Rosslyn, which was a convenient two stops from the Pentagon, where the race would be held, more on that later. We got to the hotel, dropped our bags and headed to the other side of the city to the DC Armory for race packet pick-up and the ever important race expo. After about 20 minutes of riding, we got there and headed in to get our packets, which was very easy, and was funneled into the expo, with a shocking amount of goodies set up. Shoes, clothes, race belts, you name it, it was probably there. The prices weren’t the cheapest, but did score some cheap gel and a pair of compression tights for cold weather running later this fall. Some funny stuff I saw was the arm warmers that said “WTF” and on the other arm was “Where’s the finish”, which I should have got just on funny alone, as well as a few shirts that had slogans like “At least I am here so that you aren’t last!” and other funny running slogans. The gluten free cheese was good, with some flavored cheeses, always yummy. Best giveaway, the Mio water supplement / flavoring. The bad part is that now Chuck has me hooked on foursquare, so now I check in EVERYWHERE! Gee, thanks Chuck! But all in all, good stuff.

Then the real fun began, trying to find a place to eat in DC. It isn’t for lack of choices, it is more of a choice overload! We ended up at Chef Geoff’s, and it was pretty good. We all had the burgers, which were large and very yummy! Just around the corner was a peace-nik demonstration, and besides the smell, they seemed well behaved. We hit the Mall and Jen took a few cool pictures of the Washington Monument and the Capital building at night, very nice! After that, we all headed back to the hotel and crashed for the night.

Saturday morning, Chuck and I went for a leg loosening run that started towards Arlington Cemetery, but as we headed that way, we almost ended up on the GW Parkway facing the wrong way, so we reversed course and ran back toward the hotel until we followed a few runners across the Key Bridge into Georgetown, looped around and headed back for a nice 5k run before a day of sight seeing around DC. We hit the National Archives, the Pentagon Memorial (very moving), Arlington Cemetery and visited the grave of one of my friends who is buried there, saw the changing of the guard, tasted some food at the Taste of DC (right next to the hippies, who were less than well behaved today) and the World War Two memorial. That really tired us out so we called it an early day and headed back to the hotel to get ready for the race on Sunday.

Sunday began kind of early, because over 30,000 people decided to all meet at the Pentagon for a little 10 mile run, but I really don’t think the Metro was up to the challenge. Talk about packed in, it was a goat rodeo in the Metro! But once we got above ground, things were a little better. Chuck and I looked to try to find where we were supposed to go, but there wasn’t many volunteers to point us In the right direction. We managed to find our way to the checkpoint corral, but by then, my bladder was screaming so I headed to the 1500 or so portapotties and Chuck headed to his corral. 1500 may sound like a lot, but with an advertised 30,000 runners (I still think it was less) that is not a good seat-to-butt ratio there. I ended up waiting in line with two Air Force women and we chatted many about toilet humor, like how if there were bushes near by, only the women would be in the lines because the guys, mainly the Army ones like me, would “utilize the woodline” as we call it. But by far the funniest thing was one of the volunteers with a bullhorn walking the lines, shouting out things like “You are missing the race” or “In and out, 5 seconds max!”. But by far the funniest was when he implored folks in line to double up in there, to help the throughput. So two guys (Army, of course) accepted that challenge and headed in together, and about 20 seconds later, came back out to a thunderous applause! Hey, the guy asked for it!

But I got in and out and noticed that I was past my time for my corral, so I ran towards the line to see what was what, and luckily I got into my corral, and went off with my wave! So, that was a good start.

Well what I didn’t know was that many folks had hustled to the line and not the portapots, and less than 300 meters from the start line, waves of guys headed for the trees on the side of the road. I would have too, but I wouldn’t have made it that far. That is why I like triathlons, you can always pee in the lake! I know, yuck! But the first mile was far and away the slowest because it involved folks settling in for the long haul and since the first mile involved a roundabout ramp to an overpass, that really bottlenecked a few folks, but nothing a little off-roading didn’t solve. Came thru the first mile in 8:37 and I thought “Great, this is going to be a long race”, but things thinned out on the Arlington Bridge and I hoped the sidewalk and torn off down it, staying out of the traffic. It was hard to imagine a 4 to 6 lane bridge packed with people, but wow, it was a sight to see!

My 2nd mile wasn’t too bad, getting back down to a comfortable pace (which would be my baseline pace for most of the run) and just kept motoring along the course. Oh yeah, and ProTip: Make sure you turn your “auto-pause” off of your Garmin while running under bridges or anything that will inhibit your GPS signal! After going under a few small bridges, I heard my watch “pause” since it thought I was stopped, so my watch distance and time was off, ooops! Oh well. The rest of the race I fed off of the crowd energy (which was amazing, by the way!), I even gave high fives to some of the kids and even faked the hippies out that were on the course with their “Make Peace not War” signs, I went over like I was going to give them a high five and pulled away last minute the crowd around them loved it! But really, the crowds were great, lots of energy and lots of cheering!

The worse part of the race was when we turned onto 14th Street and headed across the 14th Street Bridge back over the river. Not only was it at a slight incline, but off camber, tilted a bit towards the left, so it funneled folks that way and made them “stack up” to the left. That, and no crowds on the bridge left you somewhat by yourself running with your thoughts. So, you kinda had to motivate yourself for the final two-ish miles, which I did. But eventually you get off the highway and head down to the surface streets for the final half to three-quarters of a mile, and after the last little pedestrian bridge (about .25 to go) I let it all out (another sign that I held back too much) and burned a nice 5:50 pace in and ended with a nice not-so-refreshing dry heaves just after the finish line. Awesome! After 10 miles of running (+/- because of the zigging and zagging all over the course to pass people), I somewhat throw up in the largest race I have run. Ugly! At least all the water and Gatorade that I drank on the course was absorbed by my body, just a little bit of HEED (darn you, undissolved HEED!) came up, and after a few more “dry runs” and deep breaths, I was fine, but wow, it hurt my gut from tightening up pretty good! But I did realize that I had a ton in the tank left, so more speedwork and distance training would have helped and I could have dropped my pace lower and faster, but since this distance was such an unknown for me, I just wanted to finish in a reasonable pace. So, I was good to go on that!

Now the good, hard data time: Overall time – 1:18:01 Place 2842 of 21,914 (2389 in gender and 362/1972 in AG). Not too bad in such a large race and a first time to boot! Here are my mile splits:

Mile 1: 8:37

Mile 2: 7:47

Mile 3: 7:56

Mile 4: 7:34

Mile 5: 7:27

Mile 6: 7:23

Mile 7: 7:30

Mile 8: 7:31

Mile 9: 7:37

Mile 10: 7:12

This is with the “auto-pause” mishaps, so my total time on my watch was about a minute faster than my chip time, so it paused for around a minute overall, so next time, going to have to remember to turn it off (and maybe turn on auto-lap too!) So overall, I really enjoyed the race, and I still felt like I could go out and run another 10 miles (minus the sprint), so the body and mind were still good to go.

Would I do this race again, absolutely! Despite the lack of portapotties (but ample “woodline” after the start) and the Metro log jam, it is still a awesome race, and so much fun. Sorry all for this race report being so long, but it is a bit of a trip report too. So my schedule for the next few weeks will be busy with moving, but I will try to keep posting about training, moving and anything else that is funny / relevant! Everyone, as always, take care and see you later!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pinehurst Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Well this was a cold cold day! But I was wearing a wetsuit! And at least it wasn't raining! That's what mid to low 40's will do to a lake that's 75 degrees!

As you can see, I was really excited about this race, since it had been 3 months since my last race and I was really itching to get out there and race! So, I signed up for the Sprint instead of the International, because of my lack of swimming (AGAIN!) and I have the Army Ten Miler next week, so I wanted to go easy (or easier). So, on to the report.

The morning started out early as we drove the 50 minutes to Pinehurst and the temp was hanging in the mid 40's, not a good start, but I got there in time to set up my transition and hit the port-a-poties. After that, got in to my wetsuit (VERY WARM) and headed down to the water to stretch out and get ready. Well the grass was wet and ICE cold (see a theme here?) and the sand wasn't much warmer. But to my surprise, the water was nice. I stood in the water and ran into an old Army buddy and we chatted until it was about time to start, so I wished him and his wife luck and headed over to the corral.

The swim was a beach start and my wave had about a 100 folks, so I let everyone run in before I strolled into the water and started my 18 minutes of flail and pray. With the steam and the sun, sighting towards the first set of buoys was hard, but I found them by swimming with the "current" of the 100 or so bodies in front of me. I did just about every stroke imaginable and I dragged my butt out of the water in 18:57, so about where I was aiming for.

T1 was uphill about 100 meters, so I ran it in a fast shuffle and began to try to take my wetsuit off. That was no fun, I felt like I almost dislocated my shoulder getting the stupid top off, so my T1 time was SLOOOOOOW. 3:03 Slow, but I got it off, helmet on, glasses and a long sleeve shirt and I was out and on the road.

Once I got on the road, I went into attack mode. There was a slight downhill to start followed by a 1.5 mile uphill and folks were stacking up on the climb, so they were ducks in a barrel, since I have been training hard on the hills lately. I also drove the route the day prior (BTW, HIGHLY recommended, so you know where the downhills and uphills are!) and I knew when to lay back and when to chase more folks. I was having a great time on the bike, and it was a 18 mile course. The climbs were in the 11-15 mph range and the downhills were a nice 26-37 (!) mph, and I was loving it. I ended up with a 51:28 and a nice 20.9 average.

T2 was good, racked the bike, shoes on, and out the door. My game plan was simple, go the first half slow since it was almost all uphill for the first half, and rock the 2nd half. The cool temps helped, and I was moving and waiting for the turn around, and then I started to move out. I picked off a few folks until the dam, and I really started to turn it up and reeled in to more when the older dude told me to catch that kid ahead, so I took off after him but just before the line I couldn't get him, all 19 years old of him. Bummer! I did run a nice 22:45 with the hills.

But again this race came down to the swim, and I need to get my swim sorted out if I want to compete for AG podiums in the future. But we will have to see for in the next season, if there are is one for me (I might be deploying for next month). But we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Overall, I think a good learning season for me, so I hope that I can have a 2012 season, if not, I will just keep training and be ready for the next season. As far as the first ever Pinehurst Sprint, I think this was a great race, and a very challenging bike course and hilly run, but it was a fun great race.

Stay turned for next weekend's race!