Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Weekend Recap Part 1

It was just me and the alpacas up Sunday morning. I've run by this alpaca farm countless times, but have never seen all the alpacas hanging out so near the fence. Pretty cool. I needed some pretty cool and amusing things to keep me happy on this Sunday morning long run. It's been a crazy, busy weekend that started Friday after work with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Run Like Hell and culminated Saturday night with a Halloween bash at my best friends' house that we'll be talking about until the next Halloween bash. Since it was such a packed weekend I'm going to blog this out in installments. First stop is the Friday's Run Like Hell.

I've been working on the marketing committee for the Run Like Hell for quite a few months now. We worked on a very tight budget in order to be sure that 90% of the proceeds would go toward funding research for a cure for CF and support for families of patients with CF. That meant a lot of calls to get items and services donated. Our goal was to raise $100,000 Friday night was the fruit of all our labors.

Previous years have come to be known under the aliases of Rain Like Hell, Snow Like Hell, The day the Hell Froze Over, Hotter Than Hell....and on and on. What would the weather bring this year? Fortunately, as the evening grew closer the weather was looking very good. It was hovering in the low 60's with a few clouds scattered around. If the weather took a turn worst, which is always a possibility during any given October day in Ohio we were prepared with tents for the band and the crowd.

Before the race I worked race day packet pick up and late registration. It started off a bit slow, which was good because I got to roam a bit and take some pre-race photos. However by 7pm, 30 minutes to the race, we were slammed! We were checking registrations, taking money, and giving out race numbers as quickly as we could to get everyone registered before the gun went off at 7:30 pm. Things started to slow down around 7:25, so I jumped ship and headed for the start line.

The starting area was packed with people. I know they make announcements and what not before the race because of previous years' experiences, but this year you couldn't hear a thing. People were chatting and checking their watches knowing that it must be getting close but not getting any sort of information. I chatted with a few people, snapped a couple of photos and enjoyed the crowd. This would be the first race where I wasn't going to worry about my time at all. I was just going to run, take photos and enjoy all the crazy costumes!

The gun went off and the mad dash began! I set out at a steady pace. I wanted to stay up with the front runners just for a minute or two, so that I could fade back and take photos along the way. It was a little bit like running intervals. I'd pick up the pace for a few minutes to a point where there was a street light or what looked like a good spot to shoot from, stop take a photo, then run on up for a few minutes to the next spot.

The photos really speak for themselves....Go Here. I took about half the photos. The other half were taken by my father in law Tom Chaney.

After the race I went to the after party where I worked the souvenir booth and walked the crowd taking photos. It was lots of fun, and a very rewarding experience.

As a postscript to this blog I received an email from Annemarie, the Events Coordinator for CF. The preliminary total for the event was $102,000! WooHoo!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Taking Rain and Making Lemonade

If I were doing one of those "post what's outside your window at work" games this is what I'd post. Well if I pulled a Peter Gibbons and took out one cubicle wall this is what I'd see. This is the 4th day straight of rain. I think it's been the 4th. I don't know I've lost track. I was going to complain, but how can I complain with all the devastation going on in California with the wildfires. Thanks to Entertainment Tonight I know the troubles that Britney Spears, Sean Penn and other superstars are going through. I really hope one of your 5 homes don't burn down! It's a tragedy. Seriously though my thoughts are with you all...everyone except Britney. I could care less about her.

But I digress. I've decided that since it's been pouring down rain, and I don't have access to a gym right now that I'd take a recovery week. I needed to let my feet and legs heal a bit anyway. Continuing to run last week after the race was a bit much. I've been feeling the strain of the race in my calves, and the blisters I'd developed during the race were still hanging around. Add to that a general training fatigue anyway. This was a good opportunity to rest and heal with out feeling all stressed because it is so nice outside and wanting to get out and run or ride. After a couple days off I started to feel the urge to run, but couldn't because it continues to rain so I did some much needed strength and core training.

Friday night is the Run Like Hell 5K. Following that I've got a busy weekend of Halloween parties and a Team In Training Fundraising party. With the Run Like Hell out of the way I can concentrate on my Team In Training fundraising and training for the Disney Marathon.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Autumn Weekend Workouts & Chi Running

It's been a great weekend for workouts. Autumn temperatures and colorful leaves are in full force and made yesterday's ride and today's run really great. Today run was particularly good because it was a bit of a relief. Ever since last weekend's half the runs this week have been tough. I've felt like I've had to force my pace and I never felt comfortable at any pace. It was not encouraging.

I decided to take today's 13 mile long run and just try to run at a comfortable pace. I didn't do any marathon pace running. I just let my legs carry me at a comfortable pace. If that meant that I ended up walking some then so be it. As it turned out I was able to set a comfortable pace and keep it up the entire time without stopping. I had some minor aches and pains, but nothing that was cause for concern and nothing that a little ice didn't take care of after the run.

On a completely different topic. Has anyone heard of Chi Running? I received a call the other day letting me know that I won a drawing last weekend for a workshop for a program called Chi Running . I've never heard of the program and was wondering if anyone else had done it or at least heard of it. I just don't want to waste a half a day only to find out that it is a 4 hour long commercial for a book. They promise the ability to run farther, faster, with less effort and injury free. Sounds good to me.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dayton River Corridor Classic Half Marathon

I stood at the start line outside of University of Dayton's Welcome Stadium ready to go. I was feeling confident. Despite the fact that my iPod crapped out on me, so I wouldn't have my tunes or my Phedippidations podcast to pass the early miles, I was still feeling confident. I was disappointed that I wouldn't get to hear the cheers from around the world of the other runners that were participating in the World Wide Half Marathon. I was really disappointed that I wouldn't get to use the playlist the Bree and I had spent months building for the race. Still I had gotten good use out of it during training, and I was well prepared for the race this morning. Nothing was going to bring me down.
I had my clothes layed out the night before. I had my food prepared. Everything was ready. What was I missing? What did I forget? Apparently it was my brain because when the starting gun went off I shot off the start line like a rocket and never thought to slow down until it was far too late.

About 1/2 mile in I fell into pace with a lady at a quick 6:52 pace. It felt great to be in step with someone. I concentrated on smooth breathing and a quick turnover. The air was cool, the sun hadn't broken through the clouds yet and everything was right with the world. I had visions of finishing at under an hour and 30 minutes. This fellow runner and I were like a well oiled machine as we broke off at water stations to grab a drink and then fell right back into step. It went like that for the first 5 miles or so.

Somewhere between 5 1/2 and 6 miles my fortunes began to change as a strange pain ripped across my back between my shoulder blades and fatigue began to set in. I tried to push on at the same pace, but I had to slow down. I backed off and tried to stretch out my back a little as I ran. It eventually worked out, but I knew that the rest of the race wasn't going to be as easy as those early miles.

That little thought and little bit of doubt opened the door to the voices. The voices came in to sit for a while and have a chat. We discussed how the pain in my back was weird and painful and probably would come back. They laughed and laughed as I tried to pick my pace back up and ask them to leave. It was a grand ol' tea party...for them. I was struggling and by mile 8 marker I had another issue. I could feel blisters forming on the instep of my left foot and on my right heel. Seriously? What the hell. This caused the voices to crack up and they jabbered on.

At mile 9 waterstation I had had enough. I was way to far into my own head, so I stopped. I picked up a cup of water and gave myself a 1 minute time out to walk. I needed to regroup and get myself out of my head. I ushered the voices out and decided that I would try to relax, find a comfortable pace and enjoy the rest of the run. I got a helping hand by another fellow runner somewhere around mile 10 as a guy ran up beside me and started to make small talk. We talked about the weather, races we had run the previous weekend, anything to forget about the fatigue and pain of the late miles. I don't know his name, and I didn't see him after the race, but he was awesome and I thank him.

After passing mile 12 I could hear the cheers and see the stadium as we headed in the home stretch. We headed off the road, across the parking lot and into the stadium where we finished with a 3/4 lap around the track to the finish line. I could hear labored breathing and a quick pace coming up behind me trying to make the pass, but there was no way I was going to be passed 200 yards from the finish line. I picked up the pace and thought about the days of running the 400 meters in track. I finished strong.

mile 1: 6:52 mile 2: 6:57 mile 3: 7:04 mile 4: 6:55 mile 5: 6:56 mile 6: 7:05 mile 7: 7:30 mile 8: 7:47 mile 9: 7:48 mile 10: 7:55 mile 11: 7:56 mile 12: 7:58 mile 13.1: 8:33

My official time was 1:37:21 finishing 5th in my division (M 30-34) and 91st overall (I think). They haven't posted the official results on the site, but they were available the day of the race, and that is what I remember reading. I could be wrong. I was a little delerious at the end.

It wasn't a PR day, but I'm happy with the results. I was only off by a minute and a half from my 1:35:55 PR set at the Loveland Challenge last year. It was a huge learning experience. I now know that I really could use some music at the beginning of races to help me relax and slow down in those early miles. I got so wound up with thoughts of pr's and fast speeds that I made a really silly mistake. I also learned that no matter how comfortable a new shoe feels on short runs that doesn't mean they are broken in and ready to go on a long run or race. I know I'm not making grand discoveries here, but hey I learn best through experience and more experience and nearly hurting myself. It's all good.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Little Miami Tri

The Little Miami Triathlon is not the normal swim, bike, run triathlon. Instead of starting with a swim it starts with a 6 mile canoe or kayak down the Little Miami River. I choose to do the kayak, because it's a little quicker and a individual event. The canoe requires a partner. I don't mind working with a partner, but I don't particularly care for canoes when it comes to racing. Once you reach the first transition you ditch the kayak and run 5.5 miles back up the river mostly on marked roads and a couple of miles on a multi-use path. The final 1/4 mile of the run is the reall kicker. You hang a right off the multi-use path on to a dirt trail that leads to a set of steps. You run (or walk) to the top of the steps then back on to the dirt path which continues up, and up, and up, and up at about an 18- 19% grade. Does that sound right? Maybe I'm exaggerating, but it is steep! The Final leg of the race is an 18 mile bike on country roads around the Fort Ancient where the race begins and ends. The bike course is mostly flat with some rolling hills. The tough parts of the course are out on open roads in corn fields where the head winds can be pretty nasty.

Now that you have an idea of what the course is like let's talk about this year's adventure! I started at 8:38 am with a buddy. It was early enough that it was relatively cool. I say relatively because it was already warm enough that nothing extra besides race gear was necessary. We had received news that contrary to earlier reports they were unable to get permission to release more water into the river to raise the water level. We were in for a rough morning on the river and that's just what we got. As we paddled down the river we hit sections that were less than 6 inches deep. We went around bends and through small, shallow rapids that left about a foot wide path for which all the boats and kayaks to pass causing bottlenecks and a little bumper boat action. The key to getting through this portion of the race was to try and relax, and paddle smart. Otherwise I'd find myself flipped over like I saw a few other people. It's just the worst being soaked and trying to empty out a kayak full of water.

I hit the shore at an hour and ten minutes, which was a little disappointing. If the river would have been higher I could have easily brought it in at under 55 minutes. Since I used the event supplied kayak and paddle all I had to do was dump the kayak and paddle with some wonderful volunteers take a few sips out the water bottle that I had taken with me on the river before tossing it and run away. At this point I had a little surprise. As I was running out of transition I ran past the buddy with whom I started. I hit the road at a steady pace and worked the stiffness out of my legs that had set in over an hour of sitting in a kayak in the first mile. After that I settled in to a rhythm and cruised through the rest of the run. It was all smooth sailing until I hit the dreaded hill that I talked about earlier. I jogged up to the first section then walked as quickly as I could. Ran across another relatively level part and walked again. There is no real reason to run this part for me. It's more about conserving energy fort the bike.

At the bike transition I popped a couple of electrolyte tabs grabbed some water, changed shoes, changed into a dry cycling jersey and hit the bike. By this time it was really starting to heat up. The expected high was 90 and it was definitely getting into the 80's and sunny. That makes for a tough bike ride as you head out on to these country roads that are mostly along open fields and corn fields where more often than not you're going to hit a head wind and that is exactly what happened. The best thing to do is tuck on to the aerobars and concentrate on keeping a steady cadence, and if I was lucky I could fall into line with a couple of riders and do some drafting. On most triathlons drafting is against the rules, but there is no rule against it in this race. Unfortunately for me it wasn't meant to be for two reasons. I found myself, as I often do, in the no-man's land in between the quick riders and the slower riders. To add to my problems all of the pushing across the rocks in the kayak and my poor paddling skills had left my lower back tired and growing painful. It made it extremely tough to stay on the aerobars without hurting my back worse. I pushed through the headwinds, over the rolling hills as best I could.

Despite the pain in my back there was one upside to the bike portion. Thanks to the electrolyte tabs I was able to avoid the painful cramps that had plagued me in previous years. Every year before this one at about mile 11 my calves would just sieze up painfully making pedalling all but impossible. While the back pain was uncomfortable it was manageable and preferrable to the cramps. I was able to push through the back pain and once I hit the last few miles the adrenaline of the finish took over.

The final time 2:58:41 which is over 15 minutes slower than last fall. However I finished 10th out of 50 kayakers which is the highest I've ever placed!