Thursday, July 31, 2008
For Jason and Heather.
Remember kids, always wear your helmet.
Didn't Dean Karnazes drive around the country in a giant (gas powered) RV to run his 50 marathons in 50 days? I'm just sayin'...
Young ultra runners like Kyle Skaggs are taking the sport to the next level.
The latest news in sports: Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre and Brett Favre.
In case you're looking for my birthday or Christmas Present.
Me neither. Besides, the last time I ate at a Burger King there was a big dark hair in my fries. Yuck.
But I digress. I've become more and more accustomed to packing my lunch, especially since it's pretty much a necessity when I ride my bike. Except then, I opt for a plastic grocery bag instead of the red cooler, since it fits in my backpack better - besides, it's more aerodynamic. It's also really nice to sit and eat and read. A lot of people use lunch as a sort of social time, but I use it to sort of step back and catch my breath.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
It looks like Tour de France doper Riccardo Ricco has admitted that he used EPO. I'm glad he admitted it - why is it only Europeans who are willing to admit it?
The two highest profiled American dopers still maintain their innocence: Tyler Hamilton tested positive for blood doping after the 2004 Olympics (which didn't stick because they messed up his B sample) and the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain), but denies to this day that he had any blood other than his own in his body. Now that his suspension is over he rides for Michael Ball's Rock Racing. Which is basically like admitting he doped. (I mean, why would you ride for Rock Racing if you weren't on drugs?) (Oh, and his name turned up in Operation Puerto...tsk, tsk, tsk.)
Then there's Floyd Landis. Do I really need to go into Floyd Landis?
So this headline on Bicycling.com shouldn't surprise me: Vande Velde is Clean. Yep, folks that's right. It is now officially news when an American rider doesn't dope. This headline really isn't news, since Christian Vande Velde, who finished fifth in this year's Tour de France, rides for the very transparent Garmin-Chipotle team (formerly Team Slipstream).
Actually, the reason that this is a headline at all is that Garmin released it's internal testing records to the media and Bicycling was able to review them. Try to get Rabobank to do that!
Garmin is on the forefront of doping controls, so in future races I'm not rooting for an individual like Lance Armstrong or George Hincapie (who rides for Team Columbia another team with excellent internal doping controls). Nope, I'm just pulling for Garmin-Chipotle, because then I can know that the guy who wins today, will still be the winner tomorrow.
...oh and in case anybody cares, Spaniard Carlos Sastre of Team CSC won the tour this year.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Anyway, we're having company Thursday - actually Beth's having company - I won't be here. She's having her coworkers over for a staff meeting/breakfast and the house needs to be cleaned up some. My job is vacuuming because, well, it's the only job I can truly handle. (That, and laundry.)
I had vacuumed almost the entire house (except the loft - quite honestly, I usually skip the loft) and was in the last room, our guest bedroom. Strangely enough, to the left of the bed, in the middle of the floor I saw this:
A pair of women's shoes. My first thought is that they surely can't be my lovely wife's, because she would never leave a pair of shoes lying in the middle of the floor. Of the guest bedroom. Maybe it was someone else who left them there, but the last people to stay there were my parents on their way back from vacation, and I don't think my mom would have had shoes like that with her. Strange.
After all, it is Beth who always tells me I need to clean up my stuff from under the buffet table:
On top of the buffet table:
And on my nightstand:
Maybe those shoes were one of the presents that we keep in the guest room for future birthdays and/or Christmas...but shoes for a birthday? Interesting. It's almost as if she had a present to drop off after shopping in those shoes and wore them into the room, kicked them off and left them there. But I know Beth wouldn't do that...that's like something I would do.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Monday: Bike 17.7 miles, 1:09 Commute. Did an extra mile in the morning to go around traffic - an accident on I-83 and construction in New Cumberland made things quite a mess.
Tuesday: Run 3.6 miles, 37 minutes Really wanted to do more today, like speedwork or tempo, but ate a really big lunch and it sat in my stomach in a bad way. Won't do that again.
Thursday: Run 4.0 miles, 41 minutes An early morning run, so I took it easy. Besides, I had softball that evening.
Friday: Bike 16.6 miles, 1:00 Commute. Felt fast today. Really fast. I was climbing like Michael Rasmussen right after he got his prescription filled...if he were a 175 lb. amateur who just took up endurance sports three years ago.
Saturday: Run 20.3 miles, 4:08 Took it easy, took some pictures. Hydrated well, ate well, felt great afterwords. A very successful long run.
Total: Bike 34 miles, Run 27 miles. In retrospect, some more bike miles would have been nice, but since I had my long run this weekend, it's no big deal. In the coming months I'd like to up my weekly mileage. I know in recent posts I've mentioned the need for speedwork so I could get that marathon time down below 4:00, but if my shorter races are coming up in the calculator as generally faster than my longer races, maybe I need to work on endurance. Some "marathon-pace" short and medium-distance runs (3-15 miles at 9:00 min/mile pace) I think are in order.
7 weeks until Erie!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
My initial plan was to get up around 3:30, be done by nine and be napping...well, now. But Beth convinced me that I would fine to get up a little later so I wouldn't have to run in the dark (as much). Personally, the dark doesn't bother me much, but it bothers Beth, so after reviewing the weather, I decided to set my alarm for 4:45 so I could be out the door by 5:15. I was out at 5:21.
The nice thing about running is that you notice things that you normally speed by in your car or bike. Like this island in the Yellow Breeches:
How did an island end up above a dam? Or maybe that just looks like an island because there's a tree growing on it?
The nice thing about living in central Pennsylvania is that while we have all the amenities of living in a suburban area (like having a supermarket less than five minutes away), we still have plenty of country side to admire.
I passed at least three pastures like this one today - two of them is on my normal route to work. There's also an alpaca farm, but they weren't out, so I didn't bother with any pictures.
Sadly, this is also often a part of the scenery as well:
Friday, July 25, 2008
Today's green-to-black bananas on my desk. (Yes, I finally figured out how to get pictures off my cell phone - hooray!)
They go directly from green to black. "Do not pass go, do not collect $200." They still have an unripe flavor, but get mushy as if they were ripe. I hate that. So I've become a very picky banana buyer. I'd sooner pass on bananas than to risk a green-to-black travesty.
Fortunately, the bunch we have at home are yellow and nearing an ideal ripe-ness. So before my long run tomorrow I'll have one (or two) and probably even have one when I get home. I'm looking at a good 20+ miler starting at "O-dark-hundred", now that I've solved the picture puzzle of my camera, I'll try to take a few pictures of random oddities to post here.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
At least that's the message that CarFax sends on their radio ads. Which is, of course, utterly absurd when you hear the content of the ads.
The first is of a guy who was test-driving a mini-van and noticed that "the airbag light was flickering." The salesperson assured him that it was just a loose wire, but when he got the carfax vehicle report he learned (gasp!) that the van had been in an accident. The airbag had gone off and was never replaced. Then the indignant actor...er...actual customer...said, "I was going to put my kids in that minivan. How could you do that?"
Really? In the front seat? With the airbag on? I guess he wasn't paying attention in the late 1990's when there were a rash of serious child injuries and deaths due to airbag deployment. After that we had a rule at our house that you had to be at least five feet tall to ride in the front seat. Katie started riding up there when she was 22 (just kidding, she stopped growing when she was 11). I get that a malfunctioning airbag is troublesome, but not to your kids who shouldn't be near it.
Insert minivan driver joke here.
The second ad really irks me because it's about this guy who buys a car for his son. The car had some kind of mechanical malfunction and there was a small accident. Then he ran the carfax vehicle report. (This is where things gets very serious.) As it turns out, the car was a salvaged. "I put my son in a salvaged car!" I can't believe it. He bought a car that had been in a flood and fixed up and let his son drive it.
As an early graduation present my parents bought me a 1995 Dodge Neon in the summer of 2001. It generally ran fine, with the usual quirks of a car that age (and that make and model), but it was also a salvaged car. Yep, my dad put his son in a salvaged car. Even let him drive it hundreds of miles on the interstate between Pennsylvania and South Carolina (and occasionally Upstate New York). So salvaged cars do not mean they're a death trap. Besides, I believe most states (not South Carolina) require annual inspections of their cars to prevent them seriously malfunctioning on the highway.
So pipe down CarFax and get off your high and mightly pedestal. You don't need to resort to scare tactics to make people use your service. Stick to the TV ads with clever rewording of vehicular mishaps.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Then yesterday, while lamenting this to a coworker I learned something amazing. The candy machine wasn't broken, the light was just out. So today I went downstairs to try it out and lo and behold (what exactly does that mean, anyways?) it proved to be true! And there was a new item in the machine:
And what's really great about Chuckles is that it has five flavors all distributed equally in every package: Lemon, Lime, Orange, Licorice (of the black variety) and Red. I'm not entirely sure what flavor "Red" is, but I suppose it's one of the standard red fruits such as Cherry, Strawberry or Ligonberry. This stands in great contrast to your standard bag of gumdrops that has an inordinate number of orange and lemon drops which, as in gatorade, are the least desirable yet most abundant. (This is also true for popsicles and other non-dairy frozen treats.)
Now I must daily deal with the knowledge that there is a functioning candy machine in the dining room and force myself to either satisfy myself with the stash of Kashi treats in my desk drawer or succumb and deny myself the chocolatey goodness of a "Large Size" Kit-Kat bar and go with Baked Lays...or possibly Chuckles.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Today is the Tour's rest day, but tomorrow will feature the second stage in the Alps and Wednesday will probably be the biggest day of the entire tour with three major climbs including a mountaintop finish at L'Alpe D'Huez.
For those unfamiliar with L'Alpe D'Huez it's an eight mile long ride with an average grade over 8%. It's disgustingly hard. It's also a climb that has defined Lance Armstrong's career including a stage win in 2004 during a time trial where (angry) German fans spit and hurled insults and even death threats at him. In 2001 Armstrong crashed after catching his bike on a spectator's musette bag, then got up and won the stage.
Saturday will be the last time trial that will settle who wins the tour. Watch for Cadel Evans and American Christian VandeVelde to each have great rides that day.
But seriously watch Wednesday on Versus. And if you can't watch, follow it on letour.fr (be sure to click on the British flag in the banner so you can read it in English). It will be a really great stage to witness!
I mumbled "oh, crap" slowed down until he was out of the way then yelled back to him, "Nice Signal!"
What I didn't expect was his response, "Thank you!"
At first this enraged me further, but only briefly as I thought, how many times have I turned without signalling? (Though, usually not in morning rush hour traffic.) Then I was glad that his response was a sarcastic "Thank You!" instead of "I'll be watching for you next time, and I'll run you off the road!"
What makes even the most mild-mannered among us rage-addled maniacs foaming at the mouth when we get behind the wheel? I've thought of a few reasons for this:
1. Anonymity. They can't hear us, we're just venting. Let's be honest, we don't act that way when we're walking in a crowd that doesn't move the way we want.
2. Danger. Of couse, when we're walking around in a crowded room, we're not facting the threat of being crushed by a 3000-lb hunk of metal. When someone does something that puts us in danger we react differently than just a minor inconvenience.
3. Selfishness. As the late George Carlin might say, "Have you ever noticed that everyone driving slower than you is an idiot an everyone driving faster is a maniac?" For some reason we all believe ourselves to be the grand arbiter of highway speed, four-way stop sign etiquette, and the appropriate reaction time for taking off at a green light. Maybe we all just need to get over ourselves and give everyone else a break.
We're all stupid sometimes, so don't let someone else's stupidity make you do something stupid - that's how things really get stupid.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
And by very sweaty, I mean completely drenched. And I was done at around nine AM. In future years I think I will plan on running long races later in the year (November/December) to allow me to build up my running endurance in the fall.
I've mentioned before that Summer is for cycling and winter for running, and I think it's high time I started planning my race and training schedules around that premise. Late Summer and early Fall century rides can give me a great training boost for fall and winter marathons and ultras without risking dehydration and just generally feeling lousy.
This year, though I'm doing Erie on September 14, so I need two more 20+ milers by the end of August. Hopefully I can acclimatize and maybe God will give me some cool mornings to do those long runs.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Finally, this week the Saunier Duval-Scott team (yes, Scott is the maker the favored bike in my stable) withdrew from the tour due to a positive test on up-and-comer Riccardo Ricco. Ricco has since been fired from the squad and will probably join the long line of cyclists serving two-year suspensions for doping. (SDV also fired Leonardo Piepoli for "violation of the team's ethical code".)
"The allegations in Mr. Canseco's book are absolutely [true]."
And the punishment is relatively week. Especially compared to the two-year suspension that the UCI (International Cycling Union) hands down. On a first offence in the MLB cheaters are suspended for 50 games. Less than a third of the season. In the NFL it's four games - out of 16.
The real future of doping controls for any sport should come from the team. The two American teams in this year's Tour de France lead the way in self-policing. I could go into the details on their policies, but you can find more on Garmin Chipotle here and Columbia here. (Anyone else find it ironic that a team leading the fight against doping in cycling is called "Columbia"?)
And now the gratuitous photo of Garmin-Chipotle founder Jonathan Vaughters and his "impossible pointy" sideburns:
Thursday, July 17, 2008
1. I'm faster than I think.
Even though I was expecting a 6:30 mile, it doesn't really jive with some of my longer runs. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Runner's World calculator didn't give me any time less than seven minutes as a prediction and Jeff Galloway's site predictions for future races (based on my mile time) would all be significant personal bests. (And they are slower than the Runners' World times.)
2. I should do more speedwork.
Which stinks, because I hate speedwork. Actually, I don't really hate speedwork, it's just that when I do it, I tend to over-do it and then I get injured. But if I can gradually mix in some speed training with my regular easy runs I wouldn't have to worry about being as sore as I am today after such a short race.
3. I'd rather run long in the woods than short on pavement.
I touched on this yesterday, but overall, the 25K at the Finger Lakes Fifties was a much better experience than the Harrisburg Mile. While I recovered from the Harrisburg Mile more quickly, it was only six and a half minutes running down Front Street with the only view being the back of the guy in front of me. And it felt terrible because I was nearly sprinting the entire race. Not to mention, on a per-mile basis, the entry fee to the Finger Lakes 50's was 89% less (93% on a per-minute basis).
4. Pacing is hard.
That is, determine what pace to start at and knowing if you're there. I need to learn to take it a little bit easier off the starting line and allow myself to accelerate if I should find myself going to slow, instead of my usual pattern of starting too fast, controlling my nausea and forcing my self to slow down--often too much.
So am I going to completely re-vamp my training style to include track workouts every Thursday and hill training on every non-long run Saturday? Not exactly. I'm going to try to work in some speedwork about once a week. Probably on days I manage to get up early enough to run before work to avoid the heat.
The main thing I will be changing is my pacing. That is, I'm upping my expectations. The calculators from Runner's World and Jeff Galloway are clearly indicating that I could be running faster in my 5K, half-marathon and marathons. While I'm not going to make those numbers my goal, I think it's fair for me to expect personal records in my next several races.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
When my heat finally did start I found myself frustrated by a bunch of women who decided to line up at the start line, but apparently just "take it easy." Unfortunately when I blew by them, my frustration turned to aggression as I took off at a blistering (that is, blistering for me) pace.
I reached the 1/4 mile point in 1:19. Uh oh. That's a 5:16 pace. I may be faster than I think, but I'm not that fast. I slowed down some and reached the half mile mark at 2:58. Better. But I felt like quitting. I mean, it just felt terrible to be working that hard.
I don't remember my 3/4 mile split, but I do remember thinking I needed to pick it up a bit. When the finishing clock finally came into focus for me (I was running without contacts) I saw it turn from 5:59 to 6:00. Time to pick it up. I needed to get there in 31 seconds to beat my PR (set during the Presidential Physical Fitness Test in high school).
I crossed the line in 6:30. And I felt terrible. I was gasping for air, my chest felt tight and my legs were aching. But I met my goal. And that felt good. I grabbed a bottle of water and headed to the car. I had all the fun I could stand at this point.
I think the Harrisburg Mile would have been more fun for me if I had friends around who were running it or even if I just hadn't gone alone. It's a festival-like atmosphere with sponser's booths set up and they were selling italian ice and hot dogs.
I did run into one of my softball teammates, Aaron, who was running in the corporate challenge for his company, Mike Baker Associates. Softball beat him up pretty good this year, so while I do hope that he ran fast, I really hope he didn't get hurt for our game tomorrow.
I think the most disappointing part of this race was that it was a 15 minute drive, a 40 minute wait and a $20 entry fee for 6 and half minutes of gasping and watching the person in front of you. And in my case, the people passing you. In contrast, consider the Finger Lakes Fifties, which is a bit more of a drive but includes sloshing on muddy trails, remarkable views of Seneca Lake and a pace that allows you to actually talk to other runners. So if I learned anything today, it's that running longer is more fun!
P.S. - Based on my 6:30 finish, the Runner's World training calculator now estimates my marathon finish time as 3:27:10. Maybe I need to be gasping for air more on my long runs?
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
So I've come up with a few race strategies for tomorrow:
1. Start fast and die slowly. This means that I would start out running like a madman then slow down as my legs and lungs fatigue. This is actually a pretty lousy strategy, but it would be the easiest (though possibly the most painful) to attempt.
2. Just pick a time. I've been doing some thinking on what my one mile pace "should be". I'd like to beat my high school best of 6:32 (from the Presidential Fitness test). I would also like to beat 7:08, the time of the last place runner in my age category (25-29) last year. The Training Calculator from Runner's World tells me I should be somewhere between 7:38 and 8:09 depending on which recent race (5 miler, half-marathon or marathon) I plug in. These times are unacceptable and I choose to ignore them.
3. Run with the pack. A dangerous strategy, but possibly the best one. I'll just find some speed demon to draft and work like a madman to keep up. Run a full sprint for six minutes? No problem!
It's pretty clear that option three is my best chance to avoid utter embarassment. I'll run like mad to keep up with the pack and hope that my legs won't fall off at the half mile mark. Because that would be really embarassing (or really cool...I'd probably be on TV and I could do an interview from my hospital bed).
At the end of the race there will only be one question. Could I have gone faster? And that will be easy to answer based on the "Reverse Peristalsis Voicebox" test. If my lunch is up around my voicebox at the end of the race, I will know that I ran the best race I could. If my lunch is still ruminating quietly in my stomach at the end of the race, I will know that I probably could have run faster. And if my lunch...well, you get the picture.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Well, I did start 4-0 last year, but that was largely thanks to matchup. Every year I manage to draft one of the lowest scoring teams in the draft. Which makes me realize one major thing about fantasy football; league championships can't be won at the draft. They might be lost, but they can't be won. There are too many injuries, bad matchups and just plain bad days that can mess up your season. But every year I learn something new about fantasy football strategy, and I have to say that this year, I'm probably going to make the playoffs.
There are three things I've learned or that has occured that will hopefully get me over the hump this season:
1. This year we are switching to a keeper league, which means I get to keep Braylon Edwards in exchange for my 7th round pick and Marshawn Lynch for my third round pick. This is like having two extra second round picks, because that is where these guys would likely have fallen in the draft.
2. We have a point-per-reception league (PPR) meaning that the running back ratings on most rankings don't necessarily line up with their value in our league. A guy like Reggie Bush might not be valuable in a "non-PPR" league, but with his pass-catching abilities he jumps up a couple rounds in the draft. This also means that having great receivers can be an awesome advantage.
3. Perception is reality. If everyone believes that quarterbacks should be taken in the second round, you better get yours by round four. Or else you're stuck hoping that San Francisco's Alex Smith will finally have is "breakthrough" season.
Now I've given away all my secrets which will be shared with every other participant in the league and will land me in the middle of the pack.
Or will I? Draft strategy can be tricky. The strategy I used last year I liked a LOT, but then I read in one of my magazines that it's a bad idea. But that's the problem. Even the experts often don't know what they're doing. And like I said, no league is ever won in the draft.
Friday, July 11, 2008
50 miles will be nearly twice as long as I've ever run before (the longest being the Harrisburg Marathon last November). So do I have doubts? Yes, but they're fleeting. Am I nuts? Probably.
I have at least an outline of my race plan in my head, and I've had my usual intuitive training plan for weeks, so this is definitely the year of my first Ultra-Marathon!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I spent a good chunk of yesterday and today monkey around on the stable of bikes Beth and I keep in our garage. Yesterday I adjusted the tail light on my Schwinn and replaced my worn-out, puncture inviting Vittorio Rubinos with a somewhat tougher pair of Nashbar tires that are a little wider to help absorb road vibrations.
Unfortunately, when making my adjustments I knocked my rear brake a little kaddy-whompus (I have no idea if that is the correct spelling, but I know Beth likes that word) and it affected my commute today. In fact my total commute was about five minutes slower than normal. Initially I blamed it on tired legs and the added wind and rolling resistance of the new tires (which are each three millimeters wider than my old ones). Before leaving work I gave my bike a quick inspection and noticed that my rear brake was rubbing my rim. That will slow you down. I did a quick fix and pulled away only to be almost stopped by the brake rubbing about 30 feet away. So I did another fix and took off. I still feel like the brake wasn't acting right, but I checked three more times on the way home and everything seemed okay. But my ride home was about four minutes slower compared to one minute this morning...
In addition to the brake issues I had a list of other bike fixes that were waiting in my garage. Fortunately, replacing the chain on Beth's Trek was a snap, since it went pretty much exactly like the 8-speed chain I had replaced on my Schwinn last month.
I also changed the chain on my Scott S20 Speedster and when I got the new chain on, I noticed something funny. It was sagging. I had obviously bought the wrong size chain. I had then three options:
1. Send the chain back and get the correct size.
2. Take the bike and the new chain to World Cup and have it fixed by a professional.
3. Knock out a few links and fix it myself.
Well, number 1 was out because I wasn't waiting around with a chainless bike while Nashbar or Performance bike dug out the correct chain. And number 2 was out because it would probably permanently damage my fragile ego. So I lined up the old chain and the new chain, figured out the length difference and knocked out eight links. Yikes. After some grunting and groaning I managed to get the new chain on the bike and the special connector pin in and set. Now I just hope it holds...
Of course the worse thing that could happen is my chain breaks while I'm grinding up a hill and I tip over from the sudden lack of tension. Unless it were to break while I was pumping hard at 30-40 mph and gets hung up in my deraileur causing it to catch in my rear wheel, locking it up and causing a crazy skid and probably the demise of my rear wheel. But I probably wouldn't crash. Now, if it were to get caught in my front wheel...
Also today I managed to replace the inner tube on the front tire of my mountain bike and dig the grass and assorted debris out of the rear cassette. And deraileur. And crank. And frame pump? This is all from my mountain bike ride a couple weeks ago, so yeah, it needed some work.
So assuming my fix on the 10-speed chain for my speedster turns out well, I'd say I'm practically a bike mechanic. Maybe a wheel truing stand is in my future? Or maybe I'll start building my own wheels...or maybe some things are just best left to the professionals.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
"Where the ducks walk on the fish"
Beth and I really enjoyed Linesville - and it was especially fun to see Dwayne's five year old son, Brandon experience for the first time. To see those giant carp fight over scraps of bread...I don't think there's anything like it anywhere.
On the way home we stopped in Mt. Pleasant to see Beth's grandmother who was in the hospital. She was so happy to see Beth!
Now we're back home, and while it's great to see so many people we love, and visit old familiar places to do familiar things, all the travel took a lot out of us and we're happy to be sleeping in our own bed.
I know there aren't a lot of pictures - Beth wants them all for her blog....
Monday, July 7, 2008
The Finger Lakes Fifties 25K (there were 50K and 50 mile races as well, hence the name Finger Lakes Fifties) is the first foot race I've done multiple times. I've repeated the Tour de Tamarack (2005 & 2006) and the Charlotte Duathlon (2005 & 2007, although the course had changed in 2007), but those were both bike events.
Last year at the FLF I had a pretty rough finish. I was dehydrated and feeling pretty lousy. This year I planned to avoid dehydration by making sure I drained (or at least nearly drained) my water bottle between each aid station. Also, last year saw the establishment of many course records thanks to the dry conditions and comfortable weather.
This year the conditions weren't so dry.
Before the race I met a guy from New Jersey who was a rock climbing instructor that did some trail running on the side. This was his first race back after he had broken his leg in a fall. He asked me a few questions about the course and I directed him up towards the starting line on the dirt road.
The 50K and 50 mile events both started at 6:30 and I arrived at the start just a few minutes after the last few ultra-marathoners darted into the woods. I grabbed my race packet (which included the latest issue of Trail Runner--woo-hoo!) and headed back to my car to affix my race number and just generally prep for the race. Unfortunately when I arrived a realized I had forgotten the tape I was going to use to protect my chest area from chaffing, so I grabbed a couple band-aids from the first aid kit Beth keeps in the glove compartment and prayed they'd hold.
The beginning of the race was much like I remembered: the first three miles was generally downhill and it went fast. My legs ached a little bit from the pounding of the decents. Within a tenth of a mile from the start I had a rock in my shoe and I stopped a little while later to empty it. Then a couple miles later I realized my band-aids were definitely not holding. When I reached the first aid station I reattached my number to my shorts and decided to ditch my shirt to prevent any chaffing. The volunteers there offered me tape and band-aids, but neither would stick, and then they offered to hold my shirt and I could pick it up later. I insisted it was an old ratty tee and I wouldn't miss it. It took some convincing but they finally relented and allowed me to toss my shirt into the trash bag. As I left that aid station less a shirt but with a freshly filled water bottle, I realized I lost quite a bit of time.
The next two miles or so were the toughest of the race. There was a lot of mud, a lot of climbing and a lot of descents. According to my Forerunner I lost about 50 seconds per mile in those two miles. Unfortunately, I wasn't ever able to recover much of that time.
Last year's bone-dry course was now littered with muddy patches and as I type this my trail shoes are covered with mud inside a plastic bag in the trunk of my car awaiting a good hose-down. But the mud also made the course fun. There were great views of Seneca Lake, which were sometimes hard to enjoy while you danced around cow-pies in the pastures that the trails often wound through.
Just before halfway in the race a runner blew by me. Fast. It was the leader of the 50K race. My watch showed 1:20. At that point he had run 23 miles in 2:50 on a hilly, muddy course. Not bad. Last year I was another mile or so down the path when the first 50K runners passed me, but I had a pretty fast start last year.
At the aid station at mile 10 I saw the second and third-place 50K runners pass me. Last year, this aid station killed me because I grabbed a handful of M&M's. They might be okay for the more sluggish pace of a 50K or 50 mile race, but in a 25K all your stomach can handle is water and energy gels.
It was also after this aid station where my place in the race was nearly set. The rock climbing instructor who I had spoken with before the race had left the aid station just before I got there, and I caught a glimpse of him and another runner on the only paved section of the race acouple miles later, but between miles 10 and 15 I never passed another runner and noone passed me.
Then I reached the final aid station just before mile 14. It was the rock climber again, leaving the aid station as I approached. Even though I was feeling a little over-hydrated I filled up my water bottle again and grabbed a couple pretzels. I munched down the pretzels and washed them down with a little water. My stomach felt full. I was over-hydrating. I decided to "jettison" some water by pouring it down my back (I'm just going to sweat it out anyways) so that I had about half a bottle left. I took only a couple more sips in those closing miles of the race.
By this point I was constantly checking my GPS. I hoped desperately that the distance recorded on my watch was shorter than the official race distant. If not, I was definitely not going to make my "Satisfaction" goal time. Then I saw the rock climber ahead of me again. I was gaining. If I could make my legs move faster, I might just pass someone in the last mile of this race! But I was beat. I drank too much and ate too little and my legs were just about out of energy. But I pushed on, I still felt good, I just didn't have any "oomph" (or is it "umph"?) left.
Then the rock climber groaned and pulled up. "Are you okay?" I asked as I caught up to him.
"Yeah, I broke my leg and I've had some knee surgery, and my legs not handling this well."
I glanced at my watch, "looks like less than half a mile to go."
He assured me he was fine and I ran off. It was actually about a third of a mile left to the finish.
I was muddy and tired and finished in 2:50:24. It was short of what I wanted (2:45) and really short of what I thought was possible (2:35), but it was still over seven minutes faster than my finish last year when conditions were more ideal, but I was lacking in experience.
But it definitely was a really fun race. And the post-race food was great! Although, this year they opted for hamburgers and hot dogs instead of grilled chicken, but they still had salt potatoes and that's what I was craving by the end. It was also a great learning experience as a tackle more difficult races. Hydration and nutrition is so different for different people, it's difficult to get a grasp of what your particular needs are as a runner and this run gave me a lot of that kind of information.
Next up: Erie Marathon at Presque Isle. It should be flat, fast and fun!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
First of all, the Tour de France starts on Friday. It will probably be boring. Everything that I can say about this has already been said by Fatty.
Second, Brett Favre has hinted that he wants to come back. Of course he does. But he won't. In fact, the only reason I bring this up, is so I can post Frank Caliendo's John Madden impersonation, but I can't find it on YouTube, so...sorry.
Finally, I've got the Finger Lakes Fifties 25K this weekend. This year, I'm hoping the addition of my Garmin Forerunner 305 will help me pace and hydrate properly (by giving me a good sense of how far I have to go). Last year I was rather dehydrated by the end of the race - a situation I plan to avoid this year.
When I set time goals for a race I use three levels:
Level 1: Disappointment: This is the time I need to beat in order to keep from feeling disappointed in my race. For this race, that's 2:57, which was my time last year when I was less fit.
Level 2: Satisfaction: This is the level I feel that I have a good chance of reaching, but will still take some work. In this race it is 2:45. That's a little less than a 11-minute per mile pace. A reasonable pace for someone at my fitness level.
Level 3: Optimum: This is what happens when everything goes right. Last year at the Harrisburg Marathon my "Satisfaction" Goal was 4:30, but I felt that if everything went right I could hit 4:20. I finished in 4:19. This is also the goal that I pace for at the beginning of the race (on a relatively flat course - this weekend could be tricky in that aspect). For this weekend that time will be 2:35 (maybe even 2:30, we'll see how I'm doing after about 10 miles).
So as Tiger Woods might say, I "feel good, the course looks good, I like my chances..." Check back after this long weekend and see how I did...
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Unfortunately, the "Large Size" Kit Kat bar did not drop from it's perch. It leaned out a little bit, but was hung up on the very end of the coil that held it (and it's Kit Kat brethren) in space "E9". I probably wouldn't be blogging about my inaccessible "Large Size" Kit Kat bar, had it not been for the fact that I had eaten a Butterfinger bar just this morning. Yep, two candy bars in one day...I'm slipping.
I know what many of you are thinking; "You ride your bike so much and run so far that you should be able to eat whatever you want."
And that's the trap I've found myself in. I've managed to lose weight this spring without really trying and now I feel like I have permission to indulge.
Actually, I should be able to eat as much as I want. Not whatever I want. There is a difference. I can eat as many vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins as I want. But I really should be laying off the sugar, fats and high-sodium foods. There's a reason you should be eating vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. They all have stuff that your body needs in a certain balance. By eating too much sugar, fat or salt it throws of your body's chemistry and basically gunks up the works by denying it the vitamins, minerals or complex carbohydrates it needs to function.
I've noticed in the past that I may actually be lighter eating junk food, but slower on my bike or when running. If I gain a couple pounds by eating complex carbs and just generally healthy stuff, it usually is made up for by better performance (not to mention just generally feeling pretty good).
So the diet starts tomorrow! (I've got youth group tonight...it's a little tough to eat smart there...)
I know, this isn't a Kit-Kat that's stuck, but you can see my frustration!