Thursday, December 31, 2009

and of course, The Ugly


Random cold road ride

Lodi Farms



Just Scary!

Happy New Year all. Heres hoping 2010 is everything you want it to be and more.

The Bad

Despite all of "the good" I reported yesterday from the Year of the Ox (2009), the year has not been without its downsides. My complaints of course are given and should be taken with a grain of salt, considering what some have been through throughout this year and so I'll try to keep my whining to a bare minimum. Also, as a (mostly) sport focused blog, I'm going to keep the focus limited to my athletic failures and related disappointments.

First off, my consistency in training. I already mentioned this in my training wrap up a few days ago so I won't really say much more about it. I simply need to be more consistent.

The 2010 Snotcycle Race: I just didn't enjoy trying to race a short course race in these conditions, plain and simple. Oh and I didn't do all that great either...

A goal just missed: I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler for the first (and likely last) time this year and was gunning for a 1 hour 10 minute time, a flat 7 minute mile average. While I didn't miss it by much, just 15 seconds off per mile, it was enough to be disappointed about. In '07 I ran the Baltimore Half Marathon at an average of 7:20 per mile so my 5 second per mile drop just wasn;t all that satisfying.

My not quite as nasty as initially suspected ass of tea kettle crash at Patapsco. I can still feel a bump where the top of my right ear connects to my head from wear it was sliced open a bit.

Attack of the Big Bear: Part II. I don't think I actually like this race anymore. Broken bikes = no fun. I still have not ridden the Scalpel since that race, though it is now ready to ride again once I put some pedals and a seat collar back on it.

Flat tires and lots of parking tickets (yeah I fought that ticket, paid $5 in parking and $20 in court fees and another $5 for using a debit card to pay my fine. I saved $10 and lost a vacation day. I don't think I won...)! Gaaaaarrrrrr! Please leave me alone in 2010!

Accompanying one of my favorite runs of the year was of course my car being broken into. Worse, what was not realized at the time of the incident was just how much of my stuff was in the car and stolen. My newer camelback with spare tubes, lube, CO2 flat repair kit, riding glasses, Mt Hardware rain jacket and a handful of other things that I can't remember off the top of my head; all of course on top of my wallet. Jerks.

My boat sank. This was kind of fun though, despite the uncontrollable shivering.

Here's hoping 2010 brings about no more parking tickets, broken bikes or busted windows!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Good

While the mainstream media has been at it since Thanksgiving, I've just barely started the annual tradition of "the year in review". I looked a bit into my lackluster training numbers from '09 yesterday but today I want to focus on some of the positives from my year. The events, races and training sessions that stood out for me for one reason or another.

In March I managed a few buttery smooth snow rides and got Brian out on his first at Fairland.

After I joined DCMTB early in the year, my first real race as a member was 12 Hours of Lodi Farms. I'd never done the race and had only ridden with my new teammates a handful of times before this race. The race itself went well and the 2 teams we fielded placed well and took home some loot. This was the first time I'd ever placed in a mtb race and the first time I'd ever won loot for placing in anything. That, I have to say was pretty cool!

In May I got out for a great ride (on a pretty sweet bike) down in the Tennessee Smokey Mountains while visiting Knoxville for a wedding with Aimee. This was one of the first big rides I've done on real mountain roads (the trails were wet unfortunately), with sustained climbs and descents. This ride was all about fun, aside from hiding from the lightning and crazy heavy rain...

In June going into the 12 Hours of Cranky Monkey race at Quantico, my team had some fairly low expectations. I was riding the rigid SS Jamis since the Scalpel was still busted from Big Bear and neither Leland nor I really felt like we were in very good form. We managed to ride strong and hold on for 4th in our Category which included the 1st place DCMTB "A" team. The team as a whole did amazing as well with 5 of our 6 teams taking spots on their respective 5 deep podiums and claiming 1st, 2nd and 5th overall! My success was cool, but even better the team atmosphere of having so many DCMTB'ers there and doing so well was an absolute blast!

2 years ago I'd tried to make the Pittsburgh Triathlon my first triathlon. I ended up hurting my shoulder and baling on that one which I always regretted a bit. This year though I convinced two of my closest buddies from college to do it with me and this time it actually happened. The race was fun and the weekend with some of my favorite people in the world was even better. Every time I go back to Pittsburgh I'm left wishing I'd never left it in the first place. On top of the great trip I took first for the first time winning the 25-29 age group with Cole standing next to me on the podium. Awesome!

In August I started ramping up my running with my eyes set on completing my first Ultra Marathon before the end of the year. My two long trail runs before the main event were both memorable runs; just me, Cassie and some rain. One at Patapsco and one on the Potomac Heritage Trail itself. I need to do more of these, minus the jacked stuff and busted window.

The Potomac Heritage Trail 50k went better then I could have imagined. Teaming up with Matthew at the start was probably crucial to my run but the atmosphere of the race, the volunteers and fun course all made for an excellent first ultra. Better yet I met someone willing to join me/drag me out on the longer runs and hikes I've been trying to get out for with a home base out near the mountains to begin with.

I've run a few Turkey trots over the years but not too many have been very memorable. This year's was a bit different. I'd been aiming to break 20 minutes in a 5k for a while but the vast majority of my 5k runs have been the tail end of a sprint triathlon and I'd been unsuccessful at sub-20. This year I ran to super-local (less then a mile from my front door) and small, Gobble Wobble to the tune of 19:31 and even managed a 2nd place finish to boot. Thats the first time I've ever placed anywhere near the top 10 in a running only event and while it wasn't fast enough to really be something big, its still something neat to me.

A couple of weeks later I managed to get out to meet Matthew (new PHT 50k buddy) for a long run/hike up the Dickey Ridge Trail in SNP as the snow fell around us. It was great to get out and go out there despite a tweaked knee for Matthew and the heavy and deep near the top snow fall. That was exactly the kind of trip I need to do more of, especially with the climbing falling somewhere in the range of 3000' or so. Compared to my majority dead flat runs around home this was pretty epic.

And, that basically brings us to now. Over Christmas break up the NEPA I got out for 2 runs on the trails of the Delaware State Forest near my folks' house in the Poconos. There was nothing especially noteworthy about these runs on their own but the proximity to my parents house, the technical and rocky terrain and the amount of trails available there all combined to make me very excited about the area. My second run on the 27th especially left me eager and ready for my next trip to see my folks up in the mountains. Well, that and the company of course!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Goals and Milestones

The other week with my regular, easy run down the mall, around the Lincoln Memorial and back, I cracked 600 miles on the year running. It's not a very big number for a year of running; its downright minuscule when compared to the typical ultra runner but for me it seems like a big milestone.
My weekly running mileage chart here shows my lack of consistency. The last 6 or so months has shown some improvement there.

In 2008 I just cracked 400 miles; beginning my training log in late March and not really running with any focus or races in mind. Consistency was no where to be found and my miles just basically came in small heaps throughout the year. Over the last few months, basically since I decided I wanted to attempt an Ultra and began running trails in June, my mileage has ticked up and my consistency has as well. I still have large variations in my weekly mileage but overall I've managed in the 15 to 20 miles per week on average. While this is still far from "Ultra" mileage, for me, it's a start.

Literally, not a single run in January of this year and less then 20 miles in the entire month of May!

For 2010 I've got my eyes fixed on the Bull Run Run 50 Miler, one of the VHTRC main event races. This means I'll need to keep my mileage up as the new year begins and really start to build into the month of April. I'd like to run a strong race and finish feeling better then I did after the PHT 50k so a solid winter mileage base is a must.

I'll be very happy if I can average a solid 20 to 30 for the first couple of months of the year. For 2010 as a whole I think I should expect to break 1000 miles, with hopefully a couple of Ultras under my belt.

As for my cycling, I'm somewhat stagnant, kicking around 1800 miles for the year. In 2008 I hit 1500 or so, probably mostly invested in my tri training, especially the 1/2 IM. This year my miles consisted more of dirt riding with some pretty limited road mileage. I've just found so much more enjoyment in the dirt all around this year. That, I don't expect to change necessarily for next year.

My cycling goals for next year will revolve around a similar principal as this year's racing with one major addition. I want to make my first attempt at the Shenandoah Mountain 100 (SM 100). This alone will require a large boost in my overall mileage and hopefully I'll be able to work in some much longer dirt rides and some long road rides with my DCMTB teammates this year to make it happen.

Call 2010 the year of the Ultra's for me if you will; thats just where I'm at right now. Short course speed races are fun, but I find myself drawn to the long course absolute tests of endurance that go with Ultra distance racing. There is something rewarding in and of itself when finishing long distance races; something that for me is lacking in the short courses.

At this point I'd say I should be doubling my cycling mileage if I want to have even a remote chance of finishing the SM100 and probably quite a bit more if I expect to perform well. Of course if the weather keeps up this amped winter we've already seen my riding may take a back seat to trail/snow running and shoveling!

Or, maybe its finally time to invest in a trainer and actually start using it...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Who needs snow shoes?

What a day! While I didn't end up camping out in the snow like I was thinking I might, I did still get out to SNP with Matthew and our dogs for a long trail run/hike in the snow. It was raining when I rolled out of Greenbelt at 5:30am Saturday morning and snowing by the time I got to Markham where Matt's house was; a good sign for our run since a rainy started would have made for a much colder day on the trail. The dogs got along well from the get go and we made our way to Front Royal and the start of Skyline drive where we hooked up with the Dickey Ridge Trail around 7:30.

Once on the trail we settled into a steady jog over what was maybe a quarter inch of wet snow on the ground. The trail essentially parallels Skyline up to the AT, climbing almost the entire way from the starting point around 600 feet above sea level. We kept up a good pace heading up, running when we could and hiking when we couldn't. The snow was beautiful and I found myself surprisingly comfortable in the cold conditions.

The snow kept falling the entire way and was building fast on the ground as we broke fresh tracks along the deserted trail. Early on I saw some sort of animal which we decided was a coyote after coming up on some small paw looking tracks though we later decided it must have been one of the dogs' tracks and a deer, with the dark brown winter coat that I had glimpsed through the snow. The climb was otherwise uneventful though beautiful with the fresh snow blanketing everything in sight. At the only lookout point of the day the view was unfortunately blocked by the snow and fog surrounding the mountains but the continuous scenery we passed was good enough to make up for it.

Upon reaching the intersection with the AT, Matthew made the suggestion we not bite off more then we can chew and head back down the trail to the car. Realizing he was right and that going on any further would be somewhat foolish, we turned around and began heading back down the trail. We topped out at around 2500' and since somewhere around 1700' before a tough, steep and technical quarter mile climb to our meeting point with the AT things had gotten substantially colder.

We grabbed some food and then picked up the pace a bit to try and warm up again, which we succeeded in doing after dropping back down the long climb. The warmth lasted for a bit before a breeze came through and kept us cool for the remainder of the trip down.

At the point we turned around we'd probably been shuffling through about 6 inches of snow and the whole way down it was building, continuing to get deeper. It was a pretty cool thing to be out in this snow, and with how fast it was coming down we were making fresh tracks both up and down; our previous tracks having been buried almost entirely in fresh snow.

After dropping below about 1200 or so feet we hit some recently traveled snow, a large number of deer and dwindling snow accumulation. By the time we crossed over Skyline a final time before getting back to the trail head the trail was more of a slushy, muddy, well traveled mess. Apparently the locals know the Dickey Ridge Trail well but mostly just stuck to the first little section of it; the only other person we saw was a guy walking his dog up that short first section of the trail before heading back down along Skyline.

Back at the car we were both pretty chilled so we got a bit of a change of clothes and quickly headed back to Matthews' house with the ideas of hot showers in our heads. A power outage and well water quickly dispersed those hopes but theres nothing wrong with a little camp stove boiled water for tea and wearing more clothes inside then we did outside! After a couple of cups of tea, snacks and beer, and some pasta I eventually mustered the up the energy and motivation to head home. I knew our big down comforter, memory foam mattress topper and a warm shower at home would be well worth the long drive home in the dark. I think I was in bed by 8 that night.

A couple of additional things:
-Matthew tweaked his knee at some point during the climb. He toughed it out for the rest of the hike but towards the end I could tell it was really hurting. Once back to his place it stiffened up pretty badly on him to the point he wasn't even bending it. Hopefully its doing better now but kudos to him of toughing that out with barely even a mention of it.
-I wore a thin pair of technical somewhat fleecy Cannondale gloves for this run. For the majority of the trip they were perfect though once the wind was blowing through the soaking wet fabric my hands got seriously cold. Next time I'll need to find something a little better. Even just a thin, lightweight outer shell would probably be enough, just to block the wind.
-I wore my (10+ year old) Under Armour winter gear tights and top as a base layer.
-I picked up a basic pair of Nike DriFit running pants, similar to my DriFit shorts of preference, at REI which I wore over the tights. They were perfect until the snow was getting deeper and then the snow started building up on them around the ankles to where I had at least baseball sized balls of snow hitting my ankles every step.
-On top I wore my Celtic Solstice 5 Miler fleece over the UA and my Salomon wind/rain jacket over the top of that. That combination was surprisingly perfect, kepping my core temperature well regulated throughout the run. With a better glove combination I would have been comfortable the entire run I believe.
-Of course I wore a pair of my DeFeet Woolie Boolies along with my Montrail Highlanders. This actually worked; the socks kept my feet warm enough despite being soaked for most of the trip and the shoes handled the circumstances relatively well. Not an ideal shoe for the conditions but they got the job done. Other then some spikes or even snow shoes I'm not sure what would really do better though.
-My thin, vented running hat from finishing the Shamrockfest Marathon was perfect; keeping snow out of my eyes and keeping my head just warm enough.
-The route with elevation. This puts it a little shorter then what I think we did. The trail markers had us at 9.5 from Front Royal at the start of the Dickey Ridge Trail which includes a short little (less then a 1/4 mile on google pedometer) section of trail. We're saying 18 miles total.
-It was disappointing coming home to just an inch or two of slushy snow back in Greenbelt. I'm glad I got to enjoy a real snowfall before returning to the king of slush - DC metro region.
-I need to spend a lot more time running/hiking out in the mountains. As much fun as they are to run, there are no real "climbs" on my usual stomping grounds.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Welcoming winter, done right

A couple of weeks ago when Aimee told me she'd be house sitting (and taking Homer) over this coming weekend I quickly decided it'd be my time to get out for some winter mountain fun. I got in touch with Matt from the PHT 50k to see if he'd be up for some biking or running. Saturday looked good for him so we planned a trail run/hike for the day.

Now, after early week projections showed sun and at least mid-40's for the day, we're looking at some pretty certain snow fall and what looks like it'll be a pretty fun way to welcome in the official winter. Unfortunately I won't have my camera but I will definitely be enjoying myself out there. Its likely I'll be camping out on Saturday night as well, even if I just set my tent up in the bed of my truck. It'll be better then the long drive home after a day of running and snow plowing...

For those interested, worried or looking for me if I don't return in a timely manner, our route will look something like this, with a possible different ending point around where the AT pops out of SNP.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Races to Remember

I did my first running race as a kid at the Peachtree Jr Road Race in Georgia when I was probably about 8 years old. My Dad was into road racing, especially the Peachtree Road Race, and I would sometimes go to the local high school track to run with him (when I could get myself up for the 5 or 6 am departure time). I remember one early run with him where he was just so impressed after I completed the entire 4 mile run right with him. I must have been beaming that day.

In those Peachtree Jr races I'll remember running and seeing my parents along the course cheering me on. I'd always pick it up when I saw them and do my best to look serious and hide my huge grin, although I doubt that ever worked. Really, I still do the same thing today when I see my family during a race, only now I don't try to hide the gr
in. I ran probably 4 or 5 of those races before we moved away from the area; unfortunately the old t-shirts are probably lost for good by now.

Another race I'll always remember was a 5k at a local school; still in Georgia. It was probably one of my first 5k's and I think I was in 3rd grade at the time. There was a kids race, probably a mile long that went off before the 5k and I remember watching with pride as the other kids did the short race while I waited with my Dad to run the big one. Turns out I probably should have done the miler after all as I finished the race behind even the clean up vehicle picking up the cones on the course, a solid DFL if I ever saw one. In the end though I won the raffle prize of a new boys bike from a Roswell Bike shop sponsoring the race. I believe to this day that "raffle" was rigged for the poor kid in last place.

Now, to add to my list of memories from meaningful races, I have one of the opposite end of the spectrum. I have an actual placement in a strictly running race!

On Thanksgiving morning Aimee and I walked the mile over to the greenbelt youth center for the annual Greenbelt Rec Dept's Gobble Wobble 5k. First of all, being able to just roll out of bed and walk to the race course was just great! I could get used to that. The race had a record turnout (150 strong for the race/walk event!) and was kicked off with the wobbling warm up led by a sergeant of some kind, which I swear was really just some low key tae bo.

I started in the second row, just behind the turkey lead off man and a couple of 7 year olds ready to sprint for the hole shot. After a couple hundred yards I was settled into 2nd, right on the heels of the tall fit looking guy I'd labeled as the winner before the start of the race. I stuck around for a lap then he slowly pulled away finishing up in just over 19 minutes. I managed to hold onto second AND more importantly came in at 19:31 for my first sub-20 minute 5k! (Hopefully the measurement of the distance was true though I'm not necessarily holding my breath on that).

Thats the Turkey in the middle, me on the left and the top Male and Female runners and husband and wife pair of Paul and Cara on the right. Nice folks who live just down the street from Aimee and I. (Photo from the News Review blurb)

To top it all off I'm in the local Greenbelt News Review (blurb on page 5) this week, both in picture and in name! Looks like my star hasn't set just yet since my high school days of (local) "fame" (the picture of me watching helplessly as a star CB for a rival high school football team intercepted a pass in front of me being my last big "claim to fame"). Eh, something like that. At least I set a new PR and had a good time supporting a local event with Aimee.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Where have YOU been?

Yada, yada, yada... lack of posting... sorry for ignoring my fans... (I wasn't really ignoring you Mom since you were here for Thanksgiving and all)... Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

There've been a few things going on around here but not a whole lot of new stuff. Been running and riding when I can, spending less time doing each then I'd generally prefer but enjoying myself when I can get out. Went to NJ and Philly a couple of weekends ago to help out and watch a pair of regattas and support my pops, the proud (semi-new) Coach of the women's crew at the University of Scranton. These girls (and guys) are pretty impressive in that they've been operating without a coach, running workouts, race registration, logistics and equipment upkeep, purchasing etc for at least the last year.

Unfortunately a coach is a pretty useful things for rowers, especially out on the water to help improve technique and that still has not become a reality for these guys due to a lack of resources, access and other various issues. Hopefully though for spring they'll manage to work some new things out so they'll be able to get out with Coach Pat on the water for some good solid work. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for these guys to go to school, put together workouts, run their own practices, manage all of the equipment that goes with rowing, manage race registration and boat lineups etc and still get out and put in solid race performances.

Hat's off to the U of Scranton Crew team for their dedication and perseverance.

In other, family related news Aimee and I hosted our first ever Thanksgiving dinner at our place in Greenbelt this year. It was a bit of a last second thing as we weren't planning anything and we weren't going anywhere. Our plans consisted of a bit of house work for me, some black Friday shopping for her and probably an Indian dinner of thanks.

Instead I cooked my first solo Turkey (though I let Dad carve it) and we put out a large helping of Thanksgiving stuffings with plenty of veggies and mashed potatoes and wine to satiate us. Everything came out well and over the course of Thursday evening and Friday we downed at least 6 bottles of wine. Dad also helped me get some work done in the bathroom, ripping out the old flooring, yanking out the toilet and replacing the wax ring and bolts securing said toilet to the floor (who would have guessed toilet bolts can corrode completely away to nothing???) and laying a new faux tile flooring.

Saturday a trip to Home Depot provided me with the necessary tile to lay around the base of the wall and cover the edges of the new floor and a handful of other small projects including a replacement sink faucet, shower head, toilet seat, bathroom door handle and shower curtain rod. Most of it was completed and hopefully I'll have the new base tile in place by the end of Monday. Unfortunately for the bathrooms' progress I took a (I'd say much deserved) break for some Mountain Biking at the Shed/Gambrill with Darren and Chris so the remainder of the work was put on hold for the day.

Anyway, I hope your Thanksgiving weekend was as pleasant and productive as mine was.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Want to win more free stuff?

If you're interested in running and winning running stuff AND wouldn't mind looking into the life of the true crazies of the running world check out and the 500th post/Black Friday give away contest running through December 4th!

I personally have my sights set on that ultra-lightweight sleeping bag! Fastpacking 2010, here I come!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Wash board work out

Ever just jump in the shower with your clothes on? Yeah, me neither; at least not that I remember (Mom, got any good stories?) Well, that changed last night after my 11 mile Sunday evening trail run when I did just that; socks, shorts and shirt.

Three weeks ago the pump on our washing machine died mid-load leaving a bowl full of dirty (smelly) wash water to drain by hand. The current set up has the washer in the corner in the kitchen, and its a 24 inch unit as opposed to the more common 27 incher so a quick and cheap used replacement has been a bit hard to come by. On top of that I have plans to move the laundry facilities entirely into the utility closet which will require about $2k in plumbing work which I can't really swing at the moment, so, long story short we're living without a washing machine.

My $15+ 3 load trip to the laundromat yesterday (only wash, no dry) made me realize the folly in more regular trips to said laundromat so after my run I just hopped on in the shower, clothes and all and along with a bowl of soapy laundry water I proceeded to hand wash and rinse my garments. Gotta say, it was about as wierd as I expected to get in the shower with my clothes still on and there was a nice slick tub floor as a result of the relatively thick laundry detergent soap but otherwise it seems to have worked out alright.

Anyway, I already hang dry all my technical fabric clothing and wool socks so I guess from here on out it'll be a wash board work out following up my regular activities. I do think though that from here on out I'll need to shift that job to the kitchen sink. It was kind of like shaving my legs in the shower; a whole lot of water used, without really putting most of it to use.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

New style

This was a long sleeve shirt this morning. Apparently my hulking body is getting too big. Looks like this one is going to be a sleeveless work shirt from here on out...

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Monday, November 02, 2009

My First Ultra Experience

I didn't really mention it on the blog or tell a whole lot of people about this since it feels like my track record hasn't been all that outstanding about following through on some of my personal races discussed this year. I also just wasn't quite sure how feasible this was and what kind of training I was going to manage to fit in before the race. I really had no idea whether I would be able to complete this and even whether I'd even start it, despite how badly I wanted to try it.

On Sunday though I ran the Potomac Heritage Trail 50k put on by the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club.

Since my 23 miler on the Heritage trail 3 weeks ago I'd barely gotten out for any kind of exercise. The first week was cut short by a trip to Florida for Mike's wedding, the next work was busy prepping for a seminar we put on every few years, the weekend filled with DCCX, and then this past week was spent off site for work putting on the seminar in a location where slipping out for a lunch run just wasn't an option. On Friday and Saturday I was lightly considering emailing the race director and giving up my spot on the 100 person deep runners list but I held off.

Sunday morning I made my way down to the house in Woodley Park for the start of the race, unsure of what to expect. A small gathering, similar to that of a house party was what I found and I stood around anxiously after checking in waiting for things to get rolling. Se eventually moved things outside to the side walk across the street and had the pre-race briefing in the cool rainy air. 5 Minutes later and we were off, heading up the street in a pack 100 strong on our way to the first bit of trail.

While standing around inside another young and equally anxious guy named Matthew struck up a conversation with me and it turned out he was in the same boat as me. He'd found the race online, knew no one and was really unsure of what the day would bring but was up for the challenge. We continued to chat as the race began and as we settled into race we kept ourselves occupied with the random chatter that goes with these types of races (at least early on them).

The first few miles were on a surprising network of trails ranging from Woodley Park to Georgetown. Some were part of Rock Creek Park but the majority of trails I'd never seen before and I was thankful to have the large group of runners around to lead the way. Eventually we popped out at Fletcher's Boathouse up along the C&O Canal and headed south back to key bridge to finally hit up the actual Potomac Heritage Trail. By the time we hit the PHT we'd covered around 8 or 9 miles and had been treated to two extremely well stocked, well manned and super friendly aid stations. A HUGE thanks to all the volunteers for spending the cold and dreary day outside helping out some fellow runners, many of which were on their first ever Ultra!

Matthew and I were still hanging together and we'd managed to get together in a group of maybe a half a dozen folks, all pretty young and most new to Ultras. We made our way along the PHT enjoying the still riveting fall colors and views of the Potomac river on the right. The rain was still falling and the trails we wet though for the most part everything was runable early on in the trail. Further along the trail got a bit more rocky and things slowed but for the most part we stayed pretty tight with the same groups. Matthew, another guy and I pulled away a bit through some of the rocks from the others and pretty soon we were bouldering our way up and into the Chain Bridge aid station. Again, awesome volunteers and offerings!

From their we headed down a brief stretch of trail before the hairiest water crossing of the day. Knee high rushing water at about 20 feet wide was enough to take some caution in crossing we we linked arms and used each other for support crossing over the uneven stream bottom. Across the stream with no issues we continued on. Pretty soon we caught a few folks grouped up ahead of us and got a new pacer. This guy, with some obvious experience under his belt was a smooth and consistent runner. Unlike many other folks he would generally continue running on the fairly steep uphill pitches and was quick on the down hills. We stuck with him for a while, through most of the rolling terrain the day's course would offer. Eventually this started to take a toll on both Matthew and I and along some constant and steep rollers up in the Turkey Run Park area Matthew lost contact of the group. A short ways on though was the final aid station before the turn around point at the American Legion Bridge (495).

There was a dart tossing contest for bonus time which I played and managed to win 2 minutes or so off my time with so I used that time wisely and waited for Matthew to catch up. I knew I wouldn't be able to maintain contact with the others for the remainder of the race and more then anything I didn't want to be running alone, especially through some of the most painful miles of the race.

We headed out from the aid station shortly after, me setting the pace on front and just settling into cruise control mode. Things were going smoothly here through about 17 or so miles and I was feeling pretty good about everything so far. We were informed we'd be DQ'd if we didn't pee on the AL Bridge so we did that, turned around and started cheering for all the folks that were coming up our way, right on our tails.

Back to the Turkey Run Aid Station and then the long slog from mile 20 to 25 or so on the rollers was tough. There was more walking as we looked to conserve our energy for the final few miles but we made it back across the stream crossing and to the Chain Bridge AS to refuel before heading out on the final leg of the race.

Instead of heading back down the remainder of the PHT we crossed over Chain Bridge back to DC and swung down onto the C&O canal for a couple of miles before reaching Fletcher's Boat house again. From here it was back into the trails, following the pink chalk markings on trees and sign posts as we shuffled along. Too many pink dots and wooden stair sets going up later we were back out for the final stretch of road, almost all uphill, back to the house.

Shuffling up the street we saw a couple of previous finishers walking who gave us words of encouragement, telling us we were just around the corner. The final right hand turn to a slight downhill and the finish was (unknown to me) in sight. I kept running past the house, expecting to see a line or person telling me I could stop. Only when I looking back over my shoulder and saw a fellow runner pealing off his shoes on the front porch of the meeting house.

Total time: 6 hours 15 minutes. With Bonus: 6 hours 7 minutes. (Hey, I'll take whatever I can get!)

Inside there was hot chili and chips and pasta and other food and beers and sodas to refuel. I grabbed a bowl of chili and beer before slogging the quarter mile uphill back to my car where I left my warm dry clothes to change into. Once warm I headed back to the party for another bowl of chili and a bowl of pasta before heading home to get Aimee and back out for some Chipotle to top of the reserves.

My legs and feet were sore though miraculously I came away without any blisters or really even any lingering acute pain. The joints were sore for a day or so and the muscles are still slightly sore though Tuesday night I managed to get out for the Night Ride at Rosaryville without too many ill effects. I'm sure the 20 minute long ice bath Sunday night didn't hurt the quick recovery time.

I have a feeling this won't be my last or longest run, though I think I'll stick to the trails. Since I started running trails, road running just seems tedious, boring and painful. Matthew, who lives out in the Front Royal area expressed some interest in a long run partner and is into mountain and road biking and fast packing as well so hopefully that'll help me to get some more quality time out in the SNP area with some pretty solid "real" (eastern) mountain trail training. I think we both will be eyeing up some 50 miler races in the coming months as possible options.

No results up yet and I didn't pull the camera out of the bag even once due to the rain but I saw a couple of flashes here and there so maybe a shot or two will show up of my run. I'll post the link to results when they're up though just in case.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Maybe its vain, but I LOVE this shot. A little pain (still early in the race I'm guessing) and a bunch of concentration in the front on shot. All pics courtesy of Jason Marcella's Facebook album. Thanks Jason!

Never planned on racing but things worked out with a super cheap build on the Redline cross frame which I never managed to sell and I ended up racing the 3/4, killer B's. Felt good to be out there and the crowds were amazing! I heard so many people cheering for me and others riding through there with Kmax, Kevin, Maxblud even. Pretty cool stuff.

I started out in about the 90's (my race number was 396 and I was in the third to last row starting since I begged my way in to the race the night before at set up) so I wasn't expecting too much out of myself aside from hopefully a solid move up in the final outcome. Since Darren had so enthusiastically encouraged me to race (so he could have a teammate to beat) my single real goal for the race was to beat him. At the line I could see him a number of rows ahead of me but I was still holding on to some hope there.

Alex put in a great final race as a DC resident. Thursday the week after he moved to San Fran. We'll miss him and his ridiculous consistency and smooth riding style. He happens to be a really cool guy on top of that too.

Race started, I nearly bowled Ryan D over at the top of the first grassy climb after he rolled his second tubular for the day and then settled in to try and pick some folks off. I was going along really well and loving the course, though it'd gotten significantly mushy and slower from all the rain the day before. Still the pre-riding on Saturday was huge as I felt totally comfortable with taking inside lines and sticking to it when I knew I could.

Pretty early on I was chasing Mike S from my team and I yo-yo'd a bit behind him before finally coming up with some pop to get by and away. Right after that I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Darren just a few turns ahead of me. Apparently he'd gone out super hard then blown his back and was going backwards quick. I snuck up on him and coming up the road to the reg area I passed him with a "goochie goochie goo" (I have no idea where that came from...) and got on it to get some seperation. I figured he'd have jumped it and not let me getaway but instead me passing crushed his spirit even more and he fell back quickly. It's ok Darren, I still love ya!

Marc G put himself onto the podium with an awesome effort in the 35+ Masters race! Awesome, oh and was co-promoting the race!

After that I kept riding hard where I could, catching and passing people on the tight and turny sections while gettng dropped on some of the longer straightaways and mushy slow sections. Eventually I caught up to Corey T and said something about the slow mushy stuff. That got him going again and I lost contact there pretty solidly for a bit. Later on though I was battling out on of the straightaways, basically in a full out sprint trying to stay ahead of another guy. That reeled in Corey and put me by him though I dropped off the pace of the other guy pretty hard and fell behind him permanently.

I managed to hold Corey off by just a bit, though had there been another lap he'd certainly have pulled me back in. I did manage to hold off an NCVC guy I'd been back and forth with for most of the race also, with me passing and pulling ahead on the same little technical climb and him getting back a while later through the swampy grass just a bit before the finish. The last lap I didn't let that happen.

Now I'm again pumped to do some more cross. Hopefully next year I can get myself out there and really work it including some actual cross training and practice. That DCCX course is so much FUN!

Matty D put in an awesome effort for 13th in the 3/4 despite promoting and running DCCX!

Working the awards was a lot of fun too. Getting to be in the middle of everything and see all the happy and excited winners. Good stuff! Matty and Marc do an amazing job as race directors and it sounds like for the 3rd year in a row they've put on the top area race. Happy I could be a small part of that for the last 3 years!

Oh and to the woman who took the hand up just past the finish... That was awesome!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Weekend recap

I've been upping my running miles for the last few weeks/months, capping off my build up this past weekend with a 23 miler on the Potomac Heritage Trail. I wasn't breaking any land speed records (my total run time was right around 5 hours), but considering the terrain, my limited knowledge of the trail system and the self supported nature of the run I consider my progress on this one to be pretty good. Most of the trial was pretty rooty and rocky with some sections downright treacherous including some pretty serious rock scrambling up a water fall (Cass actually swam one portion of the scramble while I went up and over some boulders in the way).

In the end I basically covered the entire PHT from Roosevelt Island out to 495 and back with a few somewhat lengthy off-shoots mixed in for good measure. In some trail running advice forums I've been following lately I've seen an abundance of the attitude, "there are 2 types of trail runners; those who have (and continue to) fallen on occasion and those that will." Being as how I'd yet to take a trail running spill I kept my mouth shut so as not to jinx myself.

Saturday's run, turned out to be the one. Ironically enough, it wasn't any of the steep or technical tough spots in the trail that got me. Instead it was simply a damp log with a slightly downhill angle to it that took me by surprise as I planted my full weight on my left foot on top of it. The resulting slam down on my knee was worrisome for a minute but once the initial shock pain went away I was left with what amounted essentially to a skinned knee and maybe a little bruise.

15 miles later I was still going strong with no ill effects aside from the occasional strange look after finishing while stopping in a gas station for a drink and some ice for the bath tub at home.

Sunday an easy ride at Wakefield with Vinny and Chris (Leland) showed me just how tired my dogs really were and Monday's cloudy day saw me stuck in a rut with no motivation to leave the couch aside from a very small bit of bike work in the morning with Brian.

Some semi related tid bits:
-the thompson seatpost on the Jamis is perfect, w/ just the right amount of layback.
-I'm feeling good with wider and lighter FSA XC-190 bars on the Jamis and felt good slipping between tight trees at Wakefield on Sunday's ride.
-The WTB Weirwolf tires are feeling pretty supple, connecting well and definitely feel better on the front end in comparison to the stock ignitor's I've been riding.
-My Hardrock's held up nicely to their longest test yet and while the roots and rocks of the run really put them to the test, they seem to be able to handle the load with minimal forefoot discomfort for me.
-The redline is being built back up, now with my EA-30 riser bar off the Jamis, some flat bar brake levers I had lying around, my spare single speed crank set from the fixed gear I also had lying around, the matching ea30 seat post and wtb saddle from the Jamis (both lighter then the other stuff I had on the bike), new cheapo brake cables and housing and a Forte single speed conversion kit I picked up at Performance. I know I'd never be able to win a cross race on my converted SS with flat bar like Jonathon but at least now I can look somewhat like him (minus the tight skeleton skinsuit and podium candy of course). (Halloween is coming though and facial hair options are being considered).
-The fixed gear is finally mostly back together after nearly a year of languishing in the bike room and shed. Once I get a new spoke installed in the rear wheel (replacing the spoke that has been busted probably for well over 2 years) I will once again have a fully operational 'fixie' though now with much less friendly terrain to ride it on (considering it lived at Aimee's place on Capital Hill up until September).

And that's about it.

This coming weekend I'll be in Florida celebrating my high school buddy's demise... I mean wedding. He mentioned going sky diving the day before the wedding. Said something about making sure God gets the opportunity to correct his mistake if necessary... Not really sure what he means there.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Comes with the territory...
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


Running the patomac heritage trail with Cass. Perfect rainy day for a trail run.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Want to help raise a $Mill for Cancer research?

Start a twitter account and add Drew Carey. I'd say it's worth it no matter what you think about twitter or Carey.

Read up on it here.

Add Carey here.

Heck, it may even make you feel cool. I just made my account two days ago, haven't even posted a single tweet and I already have 28 followers! Man I'm cool!... Tweet. @kmaxtrax

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Never a dull moment

This past weekend was the annual Head of the Ohio regatta up in Pittsburgh, PA. Since it's our home town race, the Duquesne crew team has always used this as our Alumni race as well, and for four of the last five years now I've managed to get up to the race for a reminder of just how painful a 5k race can be in a boat (the exception was last year when the 1/2 IM in New Jersey conflicted with the HOTO, pain was still to be found).

This year's race was looking to be a good one. The day was sunny and fairly warm with highs in the mid-sixties, though the wind was looking like it could pose some issues. After a warm up from the finish up to the start (I already had a couple of large blisters on my feathering hand), we abruptly cooled back off sitting in the chilling wind waiting for our race to start, joking with some other crews (our cox even convinced a bowman from Mercyhurst they'd be disqualified if they didn't get their bow number back on the boat after it fell off and was floating five feet out from the side of the boat. He actually climbed out on the bow to put it back into the number slot on the tip of the bow... I could see the boat breaking underneath him...)

We finally got near the shoot and eventually were heading for the course, the blare of the starting horn and CMU's alumni 8 ramping things up behind us putting us all back in the zone we'd been away from for so long. The next thing you know we hit the remnants of the recent tsunamis and water was crashing over the gunnel's from both sides simultaneously, hitting riggers, oars and anything else that stood in it's way, including Joe's (coxswain) face and open mouth, leaving him spitting and sputtering as we headed down the river.

A few hundred meters in I was thinking to myself how these were by far the worst conditions I'd ever rowed in and I couldn't believe how badly it was going. On the other hand we were walking away from CMU without a problem so we must still have been doing relatively well. Just as Im thinking that I notice a shoe and a shirt float by, just inside the reach of our oars. Then another shoe... Isn't that... Ours??? Teddy's?

Huh, now that's strange, why'd he do that? We going to see him floating by next?

Hundred or so yards further and the water pouring in from behind me filled in the blanks on that one. Teddy's shoe's floated out of the boat, Teddy himself was rowing essentially underwater and the remainder of the boat was quickly joining him. It took a few seconds for everything to happen but soon we were sitting chest deep in the shell floating 6 inches underwater waiting for the officials and rescue boats to load us up and pull the boat back to the boat house. While we were sitting there waiting at least one other boat swamped further down the course and later we heard the remainder of the races were canceled after our Men's Open 8 race.

It was an interesting thing to experience though in retrospect that was the first crew race I (we) ever started that we didn't finish. It hits a lot harder when I thought of it like that. Last year the race was called while the alumni were sitting in the starting area waiting to start so this is two consecutive years with no finish for the alum. What's even worse is we were still walking away from those punks at CMU even with a few hundred extra pounds in our boat, yet they still beat us (with their dead last finish in the race). Ouch... Next year, not only do we finish, but we beat the PANTS off of CMU. You hear that boys? I'm calling you all out!

To bad we swamped so far up river their are no pics of us sinking or sunk... Hopefully soon I'll have some bailing water shots to share. Careful though, I'm warning you now; I'm not wearing a shirt in them.

For all my facebook friends (and associates) out there...


Facebook Phishing Scam

Internet imposters are perfecting the technique of impersonating friends on social networking sites like Facebook, with lucrative results The scam involves a notice appearing on the wall of user profiles as a message from a friend, saying “Hey, I got a new Facebook account. I’m going to delete this one, so add my new profile” then with a link that appears to be a link to the new profile. The actual link goes to a URL on, a domain registered (and who is protected) on Namecheap and hosted at Softlayer that looks identical to the Facebook login page:

Users fooled into resubmitting their Facebook details on this page then have their Facebook accounts hijacked and all of their contacts receive a similar message, propagating the phishing scam. . Victims are losing thousands of dollars. Emotional e-mail pleas sent by imposters, such as “I’m stuck in London and I’ve been robbed, help me,” have become so effective that the FBI last week issued a warning to consumers about social networking sites.

The scam works because personal e-mail and Facebook messages from friends carry with them an air of legitimacy that other Internet communication does not. The impersonators send the message asking for money or account information from your actual account, your photo appears beside the message.

Here’s how to avoid being a victim,

*Never send money to an individual, even a friend, using Western Union unless you are ready to never see it again. There are no security measures in place to protect those who wire money that way, and there’s no way to recover funds send through Western Union that end up in the wrong hands.

*Don’t believe your e-mail, even if it comes from a friend. Any unexpected greeting cards, solicitations, or offers you receive should be treated with complete skepticism. Before you click, call and ask “Did you send this?”

*It’s a good idea to have two e-mail contact addresses on file with Facebook, so you have a better chance of reclaiming a hijacked account if you become a victim. Criminals who hack accounts usually change the password to lock out the rightful owner. Facebook will use the secondary e-mail in an attempt to determine the real owner of the account.

Facebook has also set up a special page to deal with account hacking.

Careful people.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Office pranks IMG00032.jpg

It's fun to play jokes on coworkers. This little plastic roach looks plenty realistic in the shadows. Especially in an office already on edge about roaches. Thank you bar 11.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, September 24, 2009

GamJams Reviews: Arm and Leg Warmers - Hincapie

Almost 4 years ago I picked up a set of the heavy fleece Hincapie arm and leg warmers. Excellent pieces for sure. While building on my cycling gear collection they provided me with tons of options with my limited gear. These have good soft fleece on the inside, block wind well and are plenty soft on the outside as well. The grippers at the top are the rubberized strip you see on my shorts and worked well for a while. They've since gotten a bit less "grabby" though my arms may just be getting smaller... The leg warmers include a four or five inch zipper at the ankles for easier removal over shoes and what not.

After a small color screw up with Hincapie on the Racing Union team kit order, Hincapie proceeded to send us each a pair of their lighter weight arm warmers, which they printed up in the style of our team kit... SWEET! These are just like the heavier pair just with a lighter shell and fleece lining making them perfect for early fall and later spring riding. Better yet, Hincapie cared enough about the minor flap in the clothing order that they did this for us. A much better business model then Giordana which missed items in our order (including my wind vest) and then is unwilling to do anything about it. From what I can tell they are also very difficult to deal with in general. I have a vote for next year's team kit...

Knee warmers... don't have any. I'm a big fan of knickers which I tend to roll with when it's too warm for the heavy leg warmers but cold enough for knee coverage. Eventually I ought to get a pair, presumably they'll be Hincapie as well.

The custom arm warmers make an appearance at the inaugural DCCX in 2007.
My heart rate monitor apparently believes I'm super human... or dead.

I've had a Timex Iron Man w/ HR for a few years now, although it's been out of service with a dead chest strap battery for the last year or so. Recently I got a new battery for it and figured I'd start using it for some targeted training. You can set HR zones based on your estimated max HR and then let the watch remind you when you leave that zone. All seems fine and dandy, if it were only so easy.

Today I decided to get in an easy run, the first since my slight muscle strain from Nation's, and set myself up to keep my HR in zone 3 which is 137 to 156 bpm. Generally my normal running puts me in the low to 160's so I'd be going a bit easier then my normal pace. For the first mile it was going alright with me going over occasionally, generally a beat or two per minute. The next thing I know I'm rocking a 215 HR and the darn thing won't shut up. After about a minute of constant beating I gave up on it turned it off and proceeded to finish up my lunch run. Of course that means I ran the rest of my run significantly harder then I planned and my legs are now nice and tired for my ride tonight.

I'm curious as to whether this is just my HR monitor being a piece of junk, or if maybe I should be worried about a heart murmur or something. Maybe of course I really am just a super human with a max of 240 bpm like my monitor is fond of reporting to me but somehow I think that just isn't it. But seriously, is there anything to my fears here or is it really just a piece of &*^@! (horse poop).

The rate, even when seemingly working will jump around quite a bit. Say from 167 to 150 and back and even after telling me I was rolling at 215 for a few minutes, it next said something along the lines of 145. What is this all based on anyway? Beat to beat? The number of beats over the last minute? The last 5?

I guess maybe its time to start thinking a bit more seriously about one of them GPS/HR watches...

Monday, September 21, 2009

A weekend away

Aimee is already trying to get away from me it seems as much as possible, so just a handful of weeks after she moved in she was gone again, hopping a plane for Nashville (for a friend's wedding of course). A number of months ago Brian and I had decided to spend the weekend out at his uncle's cabin in WV scouting the miles of trails on his property via mountain bike. Unfortunately we decided a bit last minute to skip the trip since his legs/back/lower body are still in perfect working order and my calf cramp turned out to be more of a strained muscle that lasted the whole of last week.

In the interim I'd decided to try my hand at a trail race up in Gunpowder Falls State Park, though once again the calf issues kept me from trying to push it too hard too soon. So, naturally I decided a back country trip to Shenandoah National Park was (finally) in order! After some negotiations with Brian and Jenny, B agreed to join me selecting what we believed to be a beginner friendly overnighter with some nice features for our enjoyment.

Brian laughs in the background while I yell at Cassie to "CALM DOWN! DO NOT FREAK OUT!

Brian notices my not-so-subtle attempt at a sneaky shot.

Saturday morning we loaded the dogs and our packs up in the truck and headed down 211 for the Hazel area of SNP just past mile marker 33 on Skyline. The small lot was nearly full but we got the only spot available, laced up our boots and headed down the trail. Some friendly debate ensued (and if you've spent much time around the two of us together you know that means a long and drawn out serious of "debates"/arguments) and we made our way DOWN HILL (emphasis for Brian... :) for a few miles before some rolling terrain finally a long moderately steep downhill section (quad burner) took us to the low point (topographically speaking) of the hike.

One tunnel like section of trail.

Cassie looking for bears with a handful of leaves changing behind her.

The trails were fantastic with most of the summer's greenery still remaining. There was an early splash of reds and yellows, more notable of course in higher elevation areas that left us with just the smallest taste of the fall foliage to come, wishing we could get back out over the coming weeks to see the leaves in all their glory.

An interesting tree trunk along the way. An obvious favorite of many a woodpecker.

At the base of the quad burner descent we saw a black bear crossing the trail about 30 yards down from us, quickly grabbed the dogs and watched with a little bit of awe as the bear made its way across the stream and up the other bank and out of view. I always hope to see a bear and other wildlife but usually just manage to catch a few deer grazing in the woods. It was cool to see this guy out there, though I'm sure we scared him as he seemed to pick his pace up when he noticed us.

About 5 minutes after that we found a great little campsite (sweet maybe his den in nearby!) by the stream where we set up camp and had a relaxing evening including some excellent pesto I'd found in Aimee's Lip Smackin' Vegetarian Backpackin' cook book. The night was a bit rough for me since after passing out hard while I read for a bit Cassie woke up and continuously moved around and paced for the majority of the remainder of the night.

Brian entertained me with his whistling rendition of Miley Cyrus' latest hit.

The stream and a neighborhood mushroom by our campsite.

Cassie showed the local sticks she means business while B's and my matching tents sit in the background shaking their inanimate heads.

The next day after a calm and leisurely morning and some grounds filled coffee we packed up and got back on the trail. The start of day two was basically a 3/4 mile straight up climb followed by a rolling ridge trail with plenty of up hill to regain all the lost elevation from the day before. There were a number of unexpected vistas along the ridge trail and eventually we came to the popular waterfall and cave trail which was reached by a steep tall stair step trail. The area was pretty and Cassie enjoyed a dip in the falls pool before we made our way back up to the trail.

Cass enjoys a dip in the cool water below the falls.

One of the days unexpected vista's, looking North back towards where we started.

We made our way back (UP HILL) to the parking lot and my truck, with the highlight of our return trip being Kona finding a particularly appealing pile of Bear poo to rub herself in. Our reward for a pleasant and beautiful hike was, of course a stop at the Qdoba near 29 and 66 on the way back.

All in all an awesome trip, though I'm pretty certain the two routes we'd chosen first would have been significantly less effort and climbing despite their longer distances. It's all relative!

I was vary happy to have Brian along for the company and banter and I hope I didn't bug him too much to do it again. The seclusion of backpacking alone, while great just can't beat a (successful) trip with a friend.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

DCCX - Get on it! - Updated Pre-Reg Link!

DCCX, Presented by Family Bike Shop registration goes live TOMORROW 9/21/09 at 7pm! Race date: October 25th


Family Bike Shop

Bike Reg

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Post race blues

I'm going a little stir crazy this week. That cramp from the swim during the Nation's Tri on Sunday seems to have developed more into a strain, leaving me with a sore calf muscle still 4 days later. Not a real big deal but with visions of my torn hamstring and the resulting bruise after I kept going on it for the first couple of weeks of football training camp keep me from tempting fate too much on this one.

My hopes of running my first trail "race" on Saturday are fast disappearing. Here's hoping this clears up and I can start getting back out there on it.

This is the first injury I've had in a few years and boy is it frustrating!

I've also found I've been abnormally hungry all week. Monday evening I got in an easy ride at Rosie with Alex before the team meeting at Family Bike Shop (title sponsor for the upcoming DCCX by the way! Awesome!). I think Monday in general I didn't get in enough calories in general and come Tuesday I was feeling it. I splurged on crap food a bit on Tuesday which just made me feel crummy and still hungry. I'm trying to get myself back into the groove, but not being able to get out and workout I find myself wanting just eat instead (and junk food no less).

Gam Jams Review - Winter Socks - DeFeat Woolie Boolies

This one is easy... Defeat, Woolies Boolies (preferably with GamJams on the ankle) any way you slice it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nation's Triathlon 2009

When I signed up for this year's Nation's Triathlon, both Aimee and Brian were planning on racing as well, the first Olympic distance race for each of them. Unfortunately Brian's legs, lower back and possibly sciatic nerve issues sidelined him for most of the year and put any training and racing on indefinite hold. Aimee, dealing with her big move (into my place and further from her job), tonsil removal, work and wedding travel, swine flu and the general stresses of a complicated (to say the least) relationship to a superior in the workplace was left with little time or motivation to train and prepare for the race as well.

While I continued to plan on racing, my motivation for the race was almost nonexistent. Between the Pittsburgh Triathlon and race I didn't manage to get to the pool to swim even once, barely touched my road bike (or my mountain bike for that matter) and only completed two "bricks" in the form of a mountain bike then trail run at Rosaryville last weekend and a few weeks earlier. That said, my expectations were not very high going into race day. My main thoughts were to be sure to take in enough fluid during the bike portion to avoid a repeat of last year on the run, and to beat Mayor Fenty again (last year I beat him by about 5 minutes).

I managed to keep myself well hydrated this year but unfortunately beating the (faster then last year) Mayor just was not in the cards.

The swim went better then expected and at about the half way point I felt like I really settled in to a solid pace. Aside from a kick in the right eye that suctioned my goggle to my eye harder then I ever knew was possible things were going well. At the very last buoy, turning back up river to the exit ramp my calf suddenly cramped up hard and fast and as I spun in the water to try to work it out my hamstrings began to cramp as well. After somewhat successfully working out the worst of the cramping I swam, legs dragging to the ramp and made my way out and over to transition.

T1 and the bike leg were uneventful overall though both very crowded with the race having doubled in size over 2008. Overall I felt strong and was moving well though while I was passing people on the uphill sections, others seemed to be hitting it harder on the downhill sections then I was. Possibly a result of the 10 lbs I've lost over the last month or so, leading to slightly better "climbing" but no real improvement in overall power?

Getting back to transition I heard my family (all of them with Aimee) cheering for me. The transition entrance was jammed with people and I might have been telling people to move and get going the whole way in; praising one rider I'd been back and forth with throughout the ride along the way.

The run started out a little bit rough as the calf muscles were still a bit tight and sore from the cramping. After a slow first mile though I began to feel a bit better and settled into a (probably overly) comfortable pace. With about a mile and a half remaining I picked it up after the 180 degree turn around and just kept trying to motivate myself with the I can run any pace for a mile and half. Coming into the last 2 tenths of a mile I hopped onto the coat tails of a 40+ running a brisk pace. I held there up to the last 100 yards or so where I coasted in to the finish, my family once again calling out their cheers of support from the sides.

In the end I lost about 1 1/2 minutes from last year in both the swim and the bike, but I made up those 3 minutes on the run. My transitions however were each about 1 minute slower then last year, in part probably due to the huge transition area and in part just due to me taking it a bit easier. Final time 2:27:53 compared to last year's 2:25:50 (which it should be said was a fairly different course).

bib number: 1834
age: 26
gender: M
location: Greenbelt, MD
overall place: 347 out of 3933
division place: 46 out of 392
gender place: 318 out of 2480
time: 2:27:53
pace: 0:
swim: 29:44
t1: 2:10
bike: 1:08:10
t2: 1:58
run: 45:54
penalty: 0:

Have to say I won't be doing this race next year since it was simply too big for me to really enjoy. Also I was a pretty big fan of the bike and run courses from last year that went around the mall and finished up Penn Ave with the Capital in the background. Apparently the overall displeasure of people with the finish being so far from transition overtook the novelty of the race being really in the Nation's Capital. Otherwise it was once again a well organized and run event with a wonderful atmosphere.

Big thanks to my family and Aimee for getting up early and coming down to see me after a late night watching the nail biter of a game that was USC vs Ohio State, a far cry from last year's romp at the Coliseum.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

GamJams Review: Coffee

I've said before I like the 53x11 coffees I've had. They're a bit pricey for me to use as my daily grinds, but for the special occassion brew they really do the trick!

Generally I stick to my cheap 8 O'Clock variety. I've got a (gasp!) blade grinder and a coffee press (and I don't mind the little bit of sludge or occassional bits of ground coffee that seep through) and that pretty much does the trick. Lately I've been using the Dark Italian Roast to make a super strong cup of coffee; for the really tough days...

I will never be a coffee snob.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What you're missing

Despite what it looks like, I'm not entirely ignoring my blog (aside from the occasional GJ review). I just haven't had a lot to say myself.

In a new feature on the blog, I've been sharing all kinds of interesting, inspiring and informative articles from a variety of sources. Some things are simply book marks to remind myself of an article I want to read while others are things I found found interesting and thought you might to.

If one of you 5 faithful readers (hi Mom) happen to be lazy like me and use an RSS reader like google reader you can add my shared items feed to your reader. Otherwise go to my blog site and check out "Kevin's Shared Items" on the left hand side near the top. Chances are you'll find something there that interests or inspires you too.

GamJams Review: New Favorite - Montrail Highlander trail shoes

If you've been reading my occasional posts or tuning in to my training log lately you probably have already noticed this. My new favorite gear is the Montrail Highlanders I picked up off S&C a few months back. Not exactly the cycling specific gear that GamJams would typically feature. However, I'd argue the merits of cross training for cycling by using running (and more specifically trail running) to strengthen a different set of muscles, prepare for cross season and just to get out of the saddle at a time when many cyclists could easily risk burn out after a long season.

So, as I've said before, my new favorite are my new(ish) kicks. Oh and the Woolie Boolie socks to go with them; which I have a feeling may be the best thing to hit my winter cycling since lobster mitts.