Sunday, December 2, 2012

Spartan: marked by simplicity, frugality, or avoidance of luxury and comfort

10/20 race around 5 hours <cough> @ Spartan Beast in Winnsboro, SC in NB MT10 trail minimus (ouch!)

temp high 50's to low 70's and sunny

So last year we "ran" the Carolina's Super Spartan in Winnsboro, SC.  I believe the course was around 8 miles and chock-full of some of the best obstacles we had encountered to date.  This year they had converted the race to a "Spartan Beast" and listed the distance as 10-12 miles (last year I believe the pre-race information stated 8-10).  We were looking for redemption, as one our team had rolled his ankle badly in the first mile last time, slowing our team down for the rest of the race.

Cool pic of me trying to dry out my taint
My general conditioning was pretty good coming into this race, but my running conditioning was way off from our previous attempt, so I was afraid I might be holding us up a bit.  We covered the first 7 miles in around 90 minutes and were on track for a pretty good finish.  No food was provided on the course and only water was available to drink.  They did have salt packets at least.  I brought along a packet of Clif Shot Bloks (my preferred race fuel) and split them with one of my teammates.  Thankfully, I got stronger as the race progressed (or my team got slower).  I didn't know it, but at some point early in the race, I took what looked like a baseball bat hit to my outer right quad, as I was already having problems with it tightening up around the 4 mile mark, but never to the point I couldn't jog.  As a team, the wheels started to come off around mile 10.  One of my teammates, who has torn his calf muscle before, started to have it lock up again and we were forced to walk most of the remaining course.  Having food on the course might have helped, as he didn't bring anything to eat.  It was around this point, other teams were starting to fall apart too.  People were dropping out, or locking up with cramps.  We had a guy throw up right after one of the water stops directly in front of us, thankfully I missed the spray...

quality stitchwork on the collar
I did have fun at certain points on the course, but overall, I was very disappointed with the Spartan this year.  They set a high bar last year, but it seems they have done everything possible to maximize profits and minimize their expenses this year.  Many of the obstacles repeated.  I don't know how many times I climbed a rope, went over a net, dragged/carried an object or crawled under barbed wire.  At the finish, we learned the course was 14.5 miles long.  I'm sorry, but it's just inexcusable to put on a 14.5 mile obstacle course without a single aid station providing sports drinks or gels/food at least.  You're just increasing the injury potential for all participants involved.  Also the post-race meal, which was free last year, now cost $10 just for the bbq plate.  Parking was also $10, which I believe was free last year.  Then there is the shirt.  Check out the quality stitching and try to decipher the material and washing instructions.  Then there is the distance issue.  I see on the main page they now list "Beast" courses as 13+, but the page for our race still states 10-12.  When you have a 3 hour drive and are supposed to start work that night at 7pm, it really messes with your schedule to have a race throw in an extra 2.5 miles (with obstacles).  Thankfully our start time was early enough I was only about 10 minutes late to work.  So I guess I'll do a pros and cons list below, as we don't plan to do another Spartan.  I just hope Tough Mudder hasn't followed in their footsteps.

challenging obstacles
difficult terrain (lots of hills and rocky terrain)
longer distance than most obstacle races
free post race pictures
free Dial body wash at post race hose down

extremely repetitive obstacles
no food or carbohydrate drinks at aid stations
conflicting website information regarding potential race distance
$10 charge for parking (free last year)
$10 charge for post-race bbq plate (free last year)
low quality race shirt of questionable material

So the first bit roughly translates to, "wash before wearing," this would have been crucial information to know right after hosing 4lbs of mud off and the only clean shirt you have is the one they just handed you at the finish.

I think we all know what "made in prc" means (Peoples Republic of China).

So, initially, I figured the last bit was just a bit of engrish, but further research indicates it might be some kind of real thing, even though it makes zero grammatical sense. Check out this link: Made in Green.  I guess "Made in Green" still doesn't make a shirt clean enough to wear off the shelf though, bummer...

So, after all this whining, I could still see myself doing another one these just to have the opportunity to truly perform up to my potential, and to see if their 2012 race course was just a fluke, as I've read a few blogs that make some of the other 2012 events sound as creative and unique as the original 2011 race.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ticked on, off the run *warning: graphic*

10/7 run 130 mins @ ATT Scott King Road in black Altra Instincts (new color, same old model)

temp 55 wet and windy

HR avg 150 max 176

They can't help you.
I don't look like a victim.  I only run the parts of the trail south of I-40.  I'm trained in self defense.  I'm always aware of my surroundings.  These are the lies I told myself to feel safe.  So I never thought I would become another statistic, a victim, but here I am, the 14th person to be attacked on the American Tobacco Trail.  They came out of nowhere, attacking me at my most vulnerable.  I was around 6 miles into my run and I felt the call of nature, but thanks to the construction project, my regular rest spot was closed, so I did what my forefathers have done before me.  I stepped off the trail and into the woods to relieve myself, and this was where I made my fatal mistake.  I never saw them stalking me.  They were hiding in the tall grass, watching my every move.  I never had a chance.

I didn't even realize I was being attacked at the time, but as soon as I made it back onto the trail, I had a distinct feeling something was crawling on me.  I brushed off my legs a couple of times (I had on compression shorts), but I never saw anything, so I continued on with the rest of my run, not realizing my attackers were already swarming on me, finding the choicest spots to rob me of my precious lifeblood.  I got home, changed out of my running clothes and put my feet up on the couch to relax when I saw something.  An almost imperceptible speck was slowly crawling across my leg.  I grabbed the speck I saw and moved to the bathroom, where I had enough light to determine what I was looking at, and that's when I freaked. A seed tick.  And anyone who has found one seed tick, knows what that means.... MORE seed ticks.  I managed to find and remove at least 6 or 7 before I moved into the stage 2 decontamination shower protocol.  All garments and shoes were washed, quarantined in plastic bags and are still sitting in my deep freezer right now.  I set fire to the Jeep I rode home in (ok, I didn't really burn the Jeep).

My left leg got the worst of it.
The last few nights I would have gnawed my left leg off, if not for the drug induced coma of combining Benadryl caplets and Caladryl clear lotion.  I was stupid, the cold weather lured me into a false sense of security, and I didn't hose down in my regular 40% deet bath before the run that Sunday.  Not to say that would have saved me either.  Oh, and when I ran on Tuesday, I made extra sure to pee right before I left the house... and wouldn't you know it...half way in, I had to go.  So I did what anyone in my situation would do.  I did what I had to do.  I pissed right in the middle of the trail.  I'll never feel safe again.  They're watching me out there.  Calling to me as I run along, "step off the trail, we dare you."  My attackers are still on the loose, waiting for their next victim.  No one is safe.

butt crack?
Nope, just my knee!

Monday, September 17, 2012

post baby "long" run

9/16 run 92 mins @ ATT Scott King Road in black Altra Instincts (new color, same old model)

temp 63 and overcast

HR avg 160 max 173

I decided to wait until Sunday for my "long" run with the rains coming through Saturday night to help cool things off.  This strategy helped, as the temps were in the 60's and the sun was nowhere to be seen.  My HRM readings are back to normal, so I guess it was the strap all along.  The first 40 minutes were going great, but after that point, the imaginary nail being hammered into the ball of my left made its appearance and the rest of the run was an ebb and flow of bearable/unbearable pain. 

I feel kind of silly calling this a long run, but seeing as how I haven't done anything longer than a 6 miler since April, I guess it's a fair assessment.  So far everything is holding together.  This Thursday will mark the start of week 3, which is the statistical point where most people end up tweaking something.  I've been on a steady diet of The Stick and foam roller, so hopefully my crash course return to running will continue without interruption.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Eno and Altra's

9/13 run 80 mins @ Eno River Cox Mtn and Fanny Ford in Altra Lone Peaks

temp 75ish, mid-day

HR avg 154 max 179 (back to normal!)

My HRM strap was just getting to the point where it would finally hold it's shape and here I go, having to wash it.  Hopefully this fixed it and my previous weird readings aren't the result of interference or a bad ticker.

squint and it could be a buzzard
First time back on the mountain since 4/17.  I was happy to be back and my, old friend, the pain in the ball of my foot, was kind enough to join me for the trip.  Some counts for the trip:

snake count: 1 (black)
buzzard count: 5
large animal carcass in river count: 1
turtle count: 10+

I didn't run with a camera, as I was worried about staying upright with just my water bottle, but I really wish I had.  Like something out of a movie, there was a large animal carcass, stripped to the ribs out in the river near the ford.  At first, I thought I was coming up a group of graceful Great Blue Herons, until I got closer.  It turned out to be a cluster of buzzards around something I couldn't really identify.  All I could see was a giant collection of ribs jutting up out of the water, that were already picked completely clean.  On a side note, I wouldn't drink the water downstream of fanny's ford for awhile...just saying.

The run went as well as can be expected, I was slow, but my heart rate and pacing felt about right.  Baby steps helped to keep the knee pain down.  I was afraid the weight and clumsiness of my Lone Peaks would bother me, as it did when I first started wearing them, but instead, it was like coming home to an old friend.  They worked great, and I remember why I love them so much.  I can't wait for the arrival of the Altra Superior this month.  I hope to make it my new short distance and racing trail shoe.  I've also heard talk of the stability wedge being offered independently of the Provision, as this is something I'd like to play with using in just my left shoe, as my left foot is a bit more flipper like than my right.

Weekly Lifting updates

9/10 lift box squat 1x350 towel bench 1x295-failed (did 5x5,4,3,2,1 this workout) plus 110lb dumbell snatch, pull-ups bw+50lbs and 2 laps farmers walk w/125lb thick-handled dumbells

Thick handles illustrated by my finger wrap in both pics
Today wasn't my best day or my worst day.  My knees were giving me hell, but the single was super easy compared to the sets leading up to it (should have moved up).  The towel bench gave me some trouble again.  We missed quite a few workouts in June and July with all the summer vacations and holidays.  I've been paying for it on the towel bench having slipped at least 10lbs off of where I was at the beginning of July.  The dumbell snatches went well, as I've missed them for the last 2 weeks in a row due to baby care and doctor visits (for the knees).  I did cut down on my number of reps for the snatch.  My weighted pull-ups are still garbage and I can't quite figure out when they started going down hill.  Farmers walk went well, as the thick handles cut us down from 5 laps to barely 1-2.

9/12 lift power clean 1x245-failed deadlift 1x445 (5x5,4,3,2,1) 

Still trying to recover from the inconsistency of the previous months.  My single power clean is down, even though my 5x5 is on par.  My single deadlift is also down, but at least I got it this time.  My knees were hurting me so bad, I almost quit on my second set of deadlifts, but I muddle through (probably not in my best interest).  I turned on left one on my 2nd attempt @ 245 on the power clean and called it at that point.

9/14 lift squat 1x310 close-grip bench press 1x285 pull-ups +50lbs and 170lb atlas stone shoulder and walk x2 plus 250lb atlas stone lift

I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do any squats as my knees were already hurting pretty bad this morning.  Things went ok, once warmed up, until the single, which really put a hurt on the left knee.  Sadly, my squat still sucks, but at least I've made a little improvement.  Thankfully the rest of the workout doesn't require a ton of knee flexion.  Bench is still on the comeback, 10lbs closer to my previous weight.  Shouldering the atlas stone has been going better for me these days.  I still have trouble walking the full down/back as the stone sits right on the bony protrusion on top of my shoulder.  Feels kind of like it's separating my shoulder, but it's not leaving me with any residual pain after I drop it (outside of the bruising).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

92 days into Phase E (303 to go)

9/11 run 51 mins @ ATT Scott King Road in NEW black Altra Instincts (new color, same old model)

temp high 60's before dark

HR avg 177 max 228 (Either Hard Harry is broadcasting nearby or I need to see a cardiologist)

Scott King toward I-40
So Phase E of the ATT project is in full swing and even though the Fayetteville Road parking lot is closed for storage of construction equipment (yet I've never seen any parked there, ever), you can still access the trail via Scott King, as long as it's after hours or on weekends.  Things are pretty runnable currently.  Everything south of Scott King has been compacted, while the north side is still in progress, so be prepared for big rocks, sometimes in piles.  I'm still not a big fan of the surface improvements for this section of trail, as I preferred the dirt, roots and rocks, but I'm excited that the bridge is part of this phase.

Scott King toward O'kelly Chapel

For this run, I decided to start at Scott King and run to the end of the trail on the I-40 side and back.  This area was my favorite stretch of the entire ATT trail due to the terrain.  It's been cleared and graded.  They are in the process of compacting gravel and rocks into the surface to complete the grading phase.  You can keep track of the project at this link: 2012 American Tobacco Trail and Bridge. They even have a nifty graphic.  I didn't realize the bridge was included in Phase E before, so I apologize for that error in my previous post.

Monday, September 10, 2012

From the Archives: Little River Big Hills (A Race Report)

I have quite a few race report rough drafts floating around.  I'll never get them properly finished, but I figure they hold some entertainment or informational value to someone (even if by someone, I mean myself).  I completely forgot I ran Little River last year.  After reading what I wrote then, I can see why..BRRRR!


1/14 race 110 mins @ Little River Trail Run 10 mile in Altra Lone Peaks

temp REALLY COLD (20-30's)
HR avg 169 max 181

I'm pretty sure this was at the finish.
Sporadic holiday training combined with extreme cold resulted in a what felt like a very lackluster, yet incredibly hard race.  I didn't intend to run this hard, but everyone seemed to be going for it and I decided to stick it out.  Although part of the problem was my desired pace did not want to align with my desired effort level.  So I said screw you effort and kicked up the pace, although this doesn't seem like it worked out too well as I could feel myself slowing down as the cold crept into my body.  Perhaps the course really is significantly more difficult than the races I am using for mental comparison (Medoc and Run at the Rock).  Oh well, let's get to the race  report part.

While the +1 was at home snuggled in her bed (while visions of bouncing baby boys danced in her head).  I was making the difficult decision between silk shirt or arm sleeves.  I don't own a pair of tights (yet), so at least I didn't have to worry about that.  Although around the 6 mile mark I started wishing I owned a pair, as my long johns weren't offering quite the level of heat retention I desired.  After gathering up my gear and my breakfast, off I headed to the beater Jeep and into the great white north Durham (ok, none of those words really go together).  The Jeep battery seemed to be feeling the effects of the cold as much as I was, as I nearly had a DNS on my hands.  Thankfully she got me there with minimal fuss.  I got parked near the registration area and shut her down to <end>


Ok, seeing as how I forgot I even ran this race until I saw the report draft, I don't remember specifics, but I do remember feeling like even my bones were cold on this one.  I also remember my Jeep BARELY started when I went to fire it up after picking up my bib and stuff before the start.  This would have made for a really rough morning, as sitting an hour in the cold before the race would have put a real damper on my spirits.  Although I got to spend the whole race wondering if my Jeep would start for the ride home and thinking that if it didn't, everyone would have probably gone home already by the time I finished, so I'd most likely die of exposure and wouldn't be found until the next LRTR.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

On the 2nd day of re-running...

Photo taken prior to Nannerpuss attack
My true love gave to me:

The gluten free version of Ryan Hall's Chocolate Griddlecakes.  Here's the recipe for those of you who don't get Runner's World (modified to be gluten free):

1/2 cup Bisquick Gluten Free
2 large egg whites
1 scoop Muscle Milk, cake batter flavor (gluten free, but manufactured in a shared facility)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Water (enough to thin the batter)

She threw some chocolate chips into them, but the Muscle Milk sweetens up the cakes enough, you don't really need it.  They remind me of cottage cheese pancakes, with a nice chewy, dense texture and the flavor is delicious.  I didn't eat these until after my run, so I'll have to wait until Tuesday to see if they worked.  Using Ryan Hall's numbers as a reference, I should be able to slash about 8 minutes off my current pace for a mile and about 2.5 hours off my marathon.

9/9 run 60 mins @ ATT O'kelly Chapel access in Altra Instincts

temp high 70's

HR avg 177 max 230  (either I now have the heart of Jack Rabbit, or my watch must've picked up some interference, as I'm still alive at the moment)

First, a moment of silence to honor the end of the last truly unpaved portion of the ATT trail.  I will be pouring a bottle of NUUN out in it's honor and holding a dedication service this coming week.  Why they couldn't put these funds toward the bridge over I-40 and leave this beautiful section of trail untouched, I don't know.  Ok, back to the run.

My legs were absolutely trashed from Friday's 5x5 squats and atlas stone shoulder carries.  (yes, we now shoulder the 170lb atlas stone and carry it around.)  I'll try to start adding in a few of my weight training posts again, just for fun.  So I wasn't expecting much from my legs and they delivered in that respect.  The cooler temps allowed me to run just a hair faster, but every step would remind me of the dull ache that I couldn't seem to shake out of my legs.  I was hoping to go further, but I'll take what I can get and be glad I'm still healthy for the moment.  A beautiful day for running overall.  Now back to working on that honey-do list.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Afterbirth and other things you should never Google image search


So here I we are merrily chugging along post Uwharrie through March with the completion of the Palmetto State O-run (yes, I know I never wrote a report), followed up with the USMC Mud Run (I'm really slacking, I get it) on April 21st and then my wife decides to screw up all my plans and pop out the chubby cheeker a month early on April 29th!  Philosopher's Way (5/5) has officially become the race I pay for every year and never run...  This also pretty much marked the end of my running career and the beginning of my foray into daddy daycare services along with the end of sleep.

About to get all hot 'n' sweaty with a 97ti
Little did she know, I was secretly whoring it up with every hotel treadmill I could get my hands on during business trips!  Sadly, this still only amounts to a few days of running each month.  Fast forward to August and we now have a fat and happy 4+ month old and a reliable babysitter to help me out.  I also have the impending Spartan Beast and Carolina Tough Mudder to contend with in October.  Both paid for long ago, and we have already lost one team member to knee surgery, so I figure I should probably try and start running again.  I'm sure the 15lbs of rock hard muscle <cough> I've added in the last 4+ months will only improve my running skills...

So this Thursday I ventured outdoors to run for only the third time since Chunk's arrival (or his release, for all you pro-lifers out there).  Nothing like the warm embrace of a 90 degree day in the afternoon sun to welcome me back.  I'm pretty sure I looked like the guy we all have seen who is walking but has the shuffle and arm swing of a runner.  That's about how I felt too.  Nothing quite like redlining while trying to run a flat course for a 13+ minute mile.  OUCH.

Now this outdoor running shouldn't be such a big deal, as we have a treadmill at home.. actually, we have two.  The only problem is they are both pictured below.  As my wife can tell you, I can fix anything, it's just that my mean time to completion is around 1-2 years for most repairs, but I'm really close this time... I SWEAR.
redneck runner: when you have at least one non-working treadmill in your house.

I want to thank everyone out there for hanging in there and I hope to provide you with more entertainment in the future.  P.S. I still lurk on all your blogs, and I'm scared of how fast you've all become.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Uwharrie 20 mile report aka 20 miles of Smashed Prune Feet

2/4 race <4.5 hours @ Uwharrie 20 miler in Altra Lone Peaks (3rd race for the shoes)

temp mild (high 40's) light rain on and off (beautiful weather for Uwharrie

HR avg 157 max 176

Uwharrie, the wife and I have a long history together.  Even though this was only my second time doing the race, this was our third visit.  It's really all my wife's fault.  She ran the 8 miler in 2010 and I got to handle race pick up and drop off duties.  I recall there was snow in '10 around that time and many people who registered didn't run as the race was nearly cancelled.  After her introduction, she spoon fed me lies all year about how much "fun" it is and how I would really like it.  So in 2011 she tricked me into doing this thing called C25K, which is the primary indoctrination tool used by running evangelists.  I guess it worked since I found myself signed up for the Uwharrie 8 miler in 2011, with the wife doing the 20.  That year, it was pouring rain when I dropped the wife off for the start of the 20 miler.  Thankfully the rain was down to a drizzle by the time I caught the bus for my 8 mile start.  Oh yeah, and it was COLD both years.  So this year turned out to be a bit of a surprise with the wife using her silly, "I'm 23 weeks pregnant, " excuse and me some how signed up to run 20 miles...

Beautiful weather at the start meant I ditched my over shirt with the +1 and just ran in a Bull City tank top and Zensah arm sleeves.  I made the VERY SMART decision to skip the CEP calf sleeves, which I've only tried on two short runs so far.  Now I can say, without a doubt, the calf sleeves give me minor compartment syndrome (too small?).  I did decide to wear my 2XU elite compression shorts (aka leg sausage casings) and other than making me feel like I have to pee all the time, I think they do a great job of keeping the thunder in my thunder thighs and the donk in my badonkadonk (maybe even the sham in the shama lama ding dong).  Ok, I'm lying about the last part, when it comes to the ding dong it's a smash not a shama.

After the +1 was kind enough to drop me off, I checked in and ran into a couple of my blog friends Scott and Ryan.  Scott was wearing his bedroom slippers again and Ryan had ditched his Jog Strap in favor of a kilt (or perhaps the Jog Strap was under the kilt...).  They are both super fast, but thanks to the bottleneck start we got to hang out for about the first mile before they took off.  The fact that not only are they super fast but they are both taking pictures the whole time is even more impressive!  It's all I can do to not fall on my face or run into a tree.
What race fuel would look like if you were Bigfoot

Miles 1-8

So there we are, all lined up on the road, Kim yells something unintelligible into a megaphone and suddenly we are off.  We make the right turn into the woods and start heading up hill through what feels like a rocky ditch.  I'm really glad to be hanging with a couple of experienced runners in Ryan and Scott, otherwise I would have been stressing about the bottleneck instead of using the time to relax and catch up with friends.  They take advantage of the delay to whip out their cameras and start snapping pictures of the mayhem.  Once things start to clear out on the flatter section, they make their break and I do my best to hang with them for a bit.  It doesn't take long for me to realize that I need to throttle back if I want to make it to the 20 mile mark without the help of a 4-wheeler.  So slowly but surely, the tick mob disappears into the distance.  I think I did see Ryan again briefly at the 5 mile aid station.  I didn't take advantage of the facilities at the start and I figured I would just hit the porta-john at the 5 mile aid station.  The only problem was they didn't have a porta-john there!  So off I went.  I was starting to rethink the compression shorts at that point, as they weren't doing my bladder any favors and they make it impossible to pee in the woods discreetly.  I spent the next 3 miles looking for a good place to run off the trail and pee, but with all the trees barren,  my choices for cover were nil.

The 8 mile aid station comes into view and the porta-john is the first thing I see! I'm also pretty sure I beat my 8 mile time from last year.  It's showing green, but I knock just in case.  Not having to wait to use the bathroom saved me some time, but I still had to top off my bottle with water.  So I do that and get moving, smartly saving time by retying my shorts on the run.  By smart, I mean dumb.  Today I feel like somebody poked me in the belly with a broomstick handle right where the knot comes together.

Miles 8-11

This was the section where I started to feel pretty good about my chances for a decent finishing time (code speak for beat the wife's time from last year).  I had beat my 8 mile time (I think) and I was still feeling good physically.  I figured how bad can another 12 miles be?  My knee was a little stiff from the beginning of the race, but not too bad.  Just kind of surprising as it hadn't bothered me in any of my training this month.  What did surprise me was my left foot started to hurt again.  Once I started wearing the Lone Peaks on the rocky trails of Eno, the pain went away and I hadn't felt it in over a month.  This is around the time I started to repeat my silly race mantra.  It's something along the lines of, "every step makes you stronger."  I also do this thing where I sort of visualize each step as part of moving toward a rebuilding process instead of a break down.  Sort of like śavāsana at the end of a taxing yoga practice.  I don't know if it helps, but it gives me something to do.

I think this was the section where you come to bottom of a downhill and there is a creek in front of you and a bit of path on the other side.  The problem is the trail actually turns left and runs along the edge of the creek.  I made the mistake of running through it and spend a few minutes trying to find the trail on the other side of the creek, along with the guy who was behind me.  Thankfully an 8 time Uwharrie runner comes along and points us in the right direction.  I guess it happens quite a bit, as he told me they used to mark the turn in some years prior.  I believe he told me he was running Pilot Mountain Payback and Umstead Marathon!  Now that is a full race calendar!  On the off chance you read this, goodluck to you sir and thanks for pointing me in the right direction, otherwise I might still be on the wrong side of that creek right now.

Miles 11-14

I remember leaving the 11 mile station thinking about how well things were going.  This was the period when I did my half way mark nutrition.  I took 4 more Sportlegs and downed my Vespa Ultra Concentrate.  This is only the second time I've used Sportlegs.  I had a free sample that I tried for the Gauntlet in Boone and that course had the steepest hills I've ever seen.  I'm not sure if it helps, but it doesn't seem to hurt, so I'll probably keep using them for hilly courses.  The Vespa Ultra Concentrate is a real life saver.  I'm a big time believer in Vespa, and the Ultra Concentrate packets are even smaller than your average gel.  This made it possible for me to carry two packs of clif shotbloks, Sportlegs, and a Vespa Ultra concentrate between the pouch on my bottle and the tiny zip pocket in my shorts.

The intake of the capsules and the Vespa meant I was drinking a bit more water on this leg.  So I don't know if that was the cause or what but it seemed like forever before the 14 mile aid station popped into view.  My bottle was nearly dry and I felt like my pace was falling off.  I don't remember much else about this leg, as I believe I was alone for most of it.  I decided to take hit of the Mountain Dew at this aid station, as the wife said it really helped her last year.

Mile 14-17

I caught up with a group of guys at the 14 mile aid station that went out together fast and furious.  This got some life back in me as I tried to hang with them.  I was afraid my heart rate would creep up, but everything stayed under control as they did a good job of running for even effort instead of pace.  One guy in particular, who was wearing tights, brooks and had a nice southern drawl had great knowledge of the course.  I followed him and he did a great job of navigating around some of the water crossings and avoiding the mud pits.  He was also ready for the big hill that comes around mile 16.  Some of the other guys tried to jog up part of it, not realizing how long it is or that it gets steeper toward the top.  He said, "I'll see you at the top," and that he did, as he did a great job of maintaining even effort, which kept me in check trying to go up this thing, otherwise I might have burned myself out not realizing how far we had to climb.  We also started to encounter the 40 milers on their way back.  This made for some tight passing, but it also kept things more interesting.  I remember seeing AC and yelling out, "Anthony," as I was just happy to see a face I recognized from the blog world.  My vocabulary at this point was limited to people's names and the phrase, "great job," for each 40 miler who went past.  Not too long after, I saw Shannon with camera in hand.  Thanks to my limited vocabulary all I could come up with was, "Shannon," as she went flying by.  This section also seemed to take a long time to get through.  I was starting to wonder if time slows down for me after the 11 mile point of a race.  This was only my second race over 12 miles, although I've done quite a few training runs up to 17.5 miles.  Although never longer than 3 hours, so perhaps it was the time on my feet factor as well.  I remember I knew we were close when I saw a 40 miler come by with a cup of soup in his hand.

Miles 17-20

Shoot it before it gets any closer!
I took another hit of the Mountain Dew, in addition to refilling my bottle.  I caught up with a couple people running the 40 miler (man and woman, sorry my memory seems to get worse toward the end of a race) as they left the aid station.  They did a great job of pacing on the next stretch and I felt like I learned a lot about how to run Uwharrie just by following them.  As we approached the 20 mile finish, I started to wonder why they weren't kicking in the afterburners, then I remembered they were running the 40 miler.  DUH!  So I looked at my watch and I saw I had a chance to break 4.5 hours and took off as fast as my bruised, blistered and pruned feet would carry me!  I sprinted through the line and just under 4.5 hours based on my watch time (no official times yet).  I remember someone shoving a piece of pottery in my hand as I ran by.  The +1 was there waiting for me as I went through my usual post-race brain fog.

Hanging out with the fastest guy to ever run Uwharrie in bedroom slippers (Scott)

simulated post race puke
I got to hang out with Scott again after the race.  It turns out he and my wife had met by chance at the finish, as she was confused by his bedroom slippers, as well.  I don't remember a whole lot as I have pretty bad brain fog immediately after a race.  It took me forever to get changed and cleaned up before we headed out.  My feet looked like the worst bathtub prune feet I've ever seen.  Other than the pre-existing blisters I didn't have anything too crazy going on.  I got some serious arm pit chafe from the arm sleeves.  I was trying to figure out how that happened, when it dawned on me.  In every other race, I pull them down at some point, but I left them up the whole time, so that explains it.

I had a great time doing this race.  I really enjoyed the start, since I got to hang out with some cool people and I feel like I learned a lot throughout the course.  Based on the natural progression, I guess this means I'm supposed to run the 40 next year...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Run at the Rock: First Blood

"Back there I could fly a gunship, I could drive a tank, I was in charge of million
dollar equipment, back here I can't even hold a job parking cars!" --Stallone

Apparently I've started using my Sly Stallone face in races.  Sorry I forgot who took this picture.

Monday, January 9, 2012

NYE in NYC at the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park

So as some of you might recall the Rockettes came to DPAC in November to perform their Christmas Spectacular show.  My wife wanted desperately to go to this as she had never seen the Rockettes, but none of the dates seemed to work for us and the ticket prices were kind of high.  So as Christmas approaches, she starts to get some of the winter blues.  Around this time last year we were planning our trip to the Christmas Markets in Germany and Austria, and this year she could only look forward to the joy that holiday visits from my crazy family bring...  With the baby on the way, it seemed the sun was setting on our opportunity for one last trip as a couple.  Stick with me, this is going somewhere, I promise.  So I hatched the super secret plan that we would take a trip to New York City for New Years as her Christmas present.  She had never been and this way we could see the Rockettes at Radio City.

A quick Google search and I realized Times Square was the last place anyone wants to be on New Years, unless they have a bladder of steel and are prepared to stand in one spot without food or water for 12+ hours.  These are adjectives that would better describe a Guantanamo detainee than a pregnant woman (although for some reason they generally frown on letting Guatanamo detainees into Times Square on NYE...especially ones with backpacks).  A few more Google searches and I stumble across the Midnight Run in Central Park by the NYRR.  This event attracts at least 5,000 runners and after being there I wouldn't be surprised if there's another 2,500 that run as bandits.  I never saw a number on the naked guy in the Hello Kitty thong.  Come to think of it, I don't think any of the people in their underwear had numbers!  Did I mention people dress up for it, as there is a costume contest and live music and fireworks and a laser light show (although I don't remember the laser light show).

Ok, I'm going to skip ahead to the run part before I end up turning this into a travel blog by accident.  All I'm going to say is the Radio City Christmas Spectacular was great and EVERYONE should go see The Book of Mormon.

View of the stage
So New Years Eve rolls around and we walk the 1.5 miles from our hotel to the staging area in central park.  We arrived sometime between 10 and 11, as the place was packed, but I know it was before the costume contest that started at 11.  I didn't catch too many of the costumes in the contest as we were in the massive clusterf... of a line to get our blinky pins and foam hats.  I'm pretty sure I did see princess Leia, Han Solo, Luke, Darth Vader and a Narwhal.  These wouldn't seem so odd, except they were all together as one group.

Those tear drops mark the elite group in front
So after we secured our silly foam hat things and blinky pins it was off to find the race start!  Wait, the Porta-Potties, then the race start!  As we were making our way through the crowds following the signs to start, I hear someone behind me yelling, "follow me to the starting line, " and turn to see the flag bearers with the elite runners in tow.  This is a fun run, but still we probably shouldn't start in the elite group.  So we make our way into the middle of the pack.  The crowd begins to fill in around us.  People are in costumes everywhere.  A tiny man gulps down a 5 hour energy in front of us while bouncing up and down like a perpetual motion machine.  We await the countdown to midnight.

View looking behind us at the start (6,000 registered and who knows how many unregistered)

5..4..3..2..1 and the fireworks begin and off we go.  Ok, more like off the elite runners go.  The rest of us slowly start to move after a few minutes as one massive river of people.  We start out at a nice run, but it doesn't take long for the +1 to realize running is no longer comfortable when you are 20 weeks pregnant and already have to pee again.  Walking actually turned out to be a great time as this way we got to see alot more of the costumes and really enjoy the fireworks display.  Some highlights I recall include:  Guy juggling glow in the dark balls while running, giant Christmas present man, many angry birds, lots of people wrapped in working Christmas lights and many, many drunk spectators clamoring for high fives.
Kaboom!  Happy New Year!

More fireworks! yay!

New 4 mile PR!
We walked into probably the most energizing finish line I've ever seen.  I can only imagine what the crowds must be like for the NYC marathon.  This was a great time, and I have a feeling we might be back.  Although, definitely remember to take into account how many miles you have to walk to get to and from your hotel, which, for us, turned this into about a 7 mile event.  Happy New Year everybody!