Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Paradise found (almost...)


In a mere 24 hours, Aimee and I will be well on our way to San Jose, Costa Rica. Needless to say, the past few days have been pretty excruciating. I tend to fall into the "night before Christmas kid" category for big things like this; likely at this point my coworkers are sick and tired of hearing about my trip, and it hasn't even happened yet!

Everything is all set up though; flights confirmed, bags (mostly) packed, new goodies picked up and passports at the ready. We've got a list of things to look into but no solid plans aside from lodging and transportation and that's just how like it (though really I think we'd be fine without even the lodging set up!)

The view that will hopefully greet us into Arenal/La Fortuna tomorrow afternoon.

The first two days in Arenal will be action packed with beauty all around while it's looking like Jaco will be filled with more relaxation and beech time. Here's to cooperative weather and friendly faces! shows what looks like a central Florida forecast of a 30% chance of rain and t-storms every afternoon. Should keep things exciting!

Jaco Beach.

In other news, we'll be finding out tonight (hopefully) weather I'll be having a niece or a nephew! Here's hoping I get a nephew (or at least a tomboy) that I can drag into crazy mountain biking and outdoor adventures!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Another local 5k and some fun riding.

Another fun filled weekend. Friday, Aimee and I had massages scheduled for 5pm though Aimee was rear ended by an older couple from NJ on 495 who proceeded to continue driving and ignoring Aimee who was following/flashing lights/etc... at them for the next few miles. Information written down and police called reporting the hit and run and 5:01 she walks into the massage shop. Ah well, a guess thats a decent way to follow up a minor car accident... Right?

Aimee's stiff neck the next morning kept her home while I went and ran in a local 5k being held down around Greenbelt Lake. Unfortunately I found out the Turkey Trot course was not quite 5k distance, missing maybe one or two tenths, so my sub-twenty minute 5k still eludes me! This race on the other hand was a USATF certified 5k course. I ran in my Montrail Mountain Masochists, since they were pretty much the only option I had around and definitely felt like I was running in some clunkers. Could also feel some lingering hot spots from the BRR race, namely my heal and pinky on my right foot.

Other then that I felt alright; not super speedy or fresh but not necessarily sluggish. I started out around 6th or 7th after one guy went out hard for his spectating daughter and wife to see him lead the way to the lake followed by some other front runners. I managed to keep my cool early there and run a more comfortable pace to the lake where I quickly caught and passed the folks who jumped the start. Worked into 4th which I held up until about a mile to go when I caught a fellow Runner's World Forum guy, Josh who was running in his VFF's! I really only caught him because his legs were starting to wear down, this being his longest VFF run to date.

From there I held on to the finish in 3rd for a 20:15 finishing time. Amazingly, this small race had nice tech shirts for all participants AND top 3 + age group prizes! I won a free personal trainer session for my third though we were all jealous of the overall winner who earned a free pair of shoes for his efforts! Wow! I really hope these guys managed to make a little money of their fundraiser for the Greenbelt Nursery School!

After the race I headed down to Rosaryville for a couple hours of trail work followed by a post work ride with Eric B during which I found myself pretty spent. I barely ate anything during the day so when 7pm rolled around Aimee and I began an emergency dinner prep as I was crashing hard.

Sunday I met Darren, Pooch, Tyler and Jamie for some spirited laps at Fountainhead as preparatory riding for the 12 Hours of Lodi Farms in 2 weeks. First lap I rode 32x18 (mostly because I showed up late) and swapped out to a 32x20 for the second. Thinking I'll probably at least start Lodi with a 32x18 since I felt like I spun out too much at FH on the 20 and climbed everything just fine on the 18. Considering FH has much tougher hills then the Lodi course I should be good to go on the 18, though we'll see if I find myself needing to spin up faster out of the tight turns found throughout Lodi.

Earth Week Trail Gear ReUseAPalooza 2010!

Earth Week Trail Gear ReUseAPalooza 2010!

Another cool giveaway from iRunFar! Last time I won a small black diamond backpack and a couple of water bottles. I use the backpack almost everyday!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

BRR Photos: Round 1

A few pics have surfaced from a few spots along the course by Aaron Schwartzbard. Thanks Aaron for being out there all day! Pretty fun to see the pictures of everyone.

These are at mile 2. A lot of focus and we're probably still a little unsure about what the day will bring...

I'm probably attempting to smile here; its just that the runners high hasn't kicked in yet!

Mile 9: I'm "high" now! We had a good group going for a couple of miles in this first out and back section.

Mile 26: Moving along, Matthew feeling a bit playful sticking out the tongue there, dropping me as was the theme of the day!

And, this is probably one of the best "running" pictures of me I've ever seen... Actually looks like I'm running strong and moving light on me feet as opposed to just shuffling along! Plus, you can't really tell there are blood stains on my shirt.

Monday, April 12, 2010

2010 Bull Run Run 50 Miler

And there it was.

The waiting seemed to take forever. Matthew and I decided on running the Bull Run Run 50 Miler sometime shortly after finishing the Potomac Heritage Trail 50k back in October last year. First it seemed like forever till the January 25th opening of registration. The wait from then till the lottery selection was then an even more excruciating wait, not sure if I'd get in or not and definitely fretting over it. Then, with the knowledge that I really was attempting this, came the wait for April 10th to finally arrive; to put myself to the test and see just what I was made of. Could I really do this? Would I crack at the mid-point? Did I stand a chance of breaking 10 hours? Much less the 9 hours that Matthew and I had been discussing?

Well the day finally arrived, and my questions could finally be answered. Going into race day I knew deep down I hadn't done quite enough in the final weeks leading up to the race. Since the March 6th Seneca Greenway 50k, my sole long run was a slow and painful slog home from work that provided me my first bruised toenail and a couple of blisters thanks to what I've come to realize were ill fitted shoes. My focus began the shift to mountain biking as the weather turned nicer and I struggled to find the time and motivation to get out for a couple of final 20 milers on the weekends leading up to the race; opting instead to get out for some fun mtb rides as the trails and weather finally permitted.

So, while I wouldn't have outright admitted any of it, I was a bit scared at what the day might reveal.

At the start Matthew and I caught up just before the send off and settled in with the group of 336 starters. We found a good tempo, targeting an 9 minute mile as an average on the flats with a similar effort level on the ups and downs and did well keeping it. We alternated the lead between us, occasionally cruising with other folks before jumping out ahead, keeping our consistent pace. I'd started the day with a long sleeve shirt over top of my short sleeve tech shirt from the Cherry Blossom 10 miler last year and ditched that around mile 16. I kept my lightweight gloves on, but that really had more to do with my lack of interest in doing the work to get them off and the fact that they were the best thing I had for wiping my nose that was draining as steadily as our pace.

We chatted with some great folks out there, many of whom were returning BRR runners. The atmosphere was great, between the cheery runners and the amazing volunteers. (I really can't stress enough how great all the support for this race was!) Everyone seemed to be having a blast!

We took our first prolonged aid stop at Rob's aid station to chat until Rob yelled at us to get a move on. From there we hit the "Do Loop" which was probably my least favorite part of the course with the continuous short but steep ups and downs that never seemed to allow any rest. It was amazing and a bit surprising though to get a view of the Occoquan River, and the boat house hosting a small race on a beautiful day.

With about 7 or 8 miles to go I was really dieing off while Matthew was feeling amazingly strong, pacing off another strong runner. He dropped back to let me know he was going to blaze through the final aid station and go hard to the finish. I told him to get going and the next thing I knew he was long gone.

From there on it was a battle of the mind and the feet, which were sore from the roots and rocks. The strategy of one foot in front of the other set in and I actually caught Matthew's "pacer" a bit after the aid station. I passed him and then he took a pit stop and for a while I thought he was gone. But he, along with another runner ended up catching and passing me (soundly) with maybe 2 miles to go and I slowly made my way in solo, getting the occasional pick me up from a random hiker or bystander.

Coming into the finish felt amazing. Folks cheered me in, as was the case at every aid station, and I cruised/stumbled up the road to the finish. I got my 1st time veteran's finishers pin, a finishers fleece and the greatest thing of all time, a green Popsicle! Chatted with Quatro and a guy who lives up the road from me in Beltsville for a few minutes before topping off my water bottle with ice water and heading for the bench to swap tales with Matthew and watch the runners come in.

My finishing time of 8 hours and 37 minutes basically smashed the goal finishing time of 9 hours and most amazingly, I felt great through at least mile 40 of this race! Meanwhile at Seneca the final 6 to 8 miles of 31 were pretty rough. Here though we hit the 50k mark within minutes of our Seneca finish times, still felt strong and were running significantly slower (though steadier) miles to begin with. Obviously, one lesson learned here is to not go out quite so hard to begin the race!

I think another lesson, which I'd say I already knew, was to not drop the mileage as hard and early as I did before the big race. Just a couple of weekend 20 milers probably would've done the trick for my finishing strength, though my base certainly served me well. Next time though, my goal will be to actually finish fast, strong and feeling good. Getting dropped was tough, and so far I have not finished an Ultra with any kick left in the legs. I want to be able to be competitive at the end, even if it's just for breaking some time barrier, like that ever so slightly elusive 8:30 mark.

Congrats to everyone out there that raced; especially Matthew for kicking my a** in those final 7 or 8 miles. Gaining 30+ seconds per mile in the final few is no small feat for sure. Also, to both the new Male and Female course record holders. It was great to share a course with these super fast runners, and even get to see them streaming by on a beautiful day.

I'll post up some pictures once they start to appear but for now you should click on the image of my shirt above for a quick lesson on why Vaseline and band aids are good things.