TARC Fall Classic 50 Miler

Seems like after 3 years of near perfect weather for my races, my time was up. When I woke up in my hotel room at 3:00 and looked out from the 4th floor of the Marriott, I didn’t see any rain. Niiice. Maybe the storm pushed north, maybe I’d get in a dry morning… An hour later, as I loaded my cooler into the car, the sprinkles started, but I still thought, meh, isn’t that bad. Standing in the dark of a pre-dawn New England morning, listening to the pre-race meeting, it was dry again. At this point, I figured fuck it. If it rains it rains and tried to get the idea out of my head. I’ve run in way worse weather than this day could throw at me and I really can’t control it, so why think about it.

First problem of the day is that I hadn’t been able to shit before I left the hotel. No idea why, but that worried me more than anything else. I have a pretty decent routine that usually flushes the system within plenty of time. This morning, no such luck. I knew that I would be taking some time during my race to visit the big, blue beauties. The first few miles were nice and easy, a string of headlamps bopping around the woods. The rain would start and stop, without that much concern. Except for a few exposed sections that ran along the outside of some corn fields, the trees took most of the rain. The course is a 10.3 mile loop. It is mostly single track, double track and a few jeep road sections. Even in the foggy, rainy morning, I really enjoyed the course. Plenty of fun chunks that kept it fresh.

Only big course marking problem was around mile 8 where someone had taken down a very important sign that had us leaving a jeep road and heading back into some single track. I was about a quarter mile past the turn off, when a group of runners were walking back down the road looking for the trail. That was the only time anything was wrong with the markings. Everything was so well marked, I have to assume someone took the sign down. I finished the first lap in 2:12 including time in the aid station. I just reloaded some gels and refilled my water pack. The second loop is when the rain and wind really started. I pulled my gloves back out when I noticed my hands were kind of stuck in this weird, curled position. I kept to my plan of hiking the few hills there were and walking every 30 minutes to take a gel. I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to keep up this plan, but didn’t really have any better ideas. I finished the second loop at 4:17. I was pretty happy with a near 2 hour loop and thought, hell not bad. The rain was starting to die a little and the wind was pretty much gone.

I switched out my socks, replaced gels, filled my water and took off on loop 3. This was were I started to feel my feet and knees a little. Nothing out of the ordinary, just the usual, long run bullshit. I was still drinking plenty of water and sticking to my gel every half hour routine. I finished loop 3 in 6:35. At this point I switched into a dry shirt, ate a few pieces of a grilled quesadilla that rocked, and was also the only real food I ate during the race. My friend John was also there to run the last 20 miles for me. My only concern was to finish this next lap by 3:45 pm, which was the first cutoff. I didn’t think there would be a problem, but it was still in the back of my head.

It was nice having John there, and the lap was pretty uneventful. I was a little slower and the lap took me 2:26, but I was way under the cutoff time and only took about 4-5 minutes in the aid station before heading back out for the 5th and final loop. I pushed pretty hard and ran nearly the entire lap. It was great pushing myself and I’m proud of the way I finished. Total time for my first 50 mile race was 11:20.

Feet and knees were a little sore and the last lap started to chafe my taint a bit, I kept lubing, but the shorts I was wearing have this horrible habit of taint chafe after about 10 hours. Biggest bullshit of the day? My barely out of the box Ambit3 failed to upload my race. It crashed the app 3 times and then wouldn’t open at all. After a week of back and forth with Suunto, they told me it is lost in their complete shit software. It’s still on the watch, but they have no way of pulling it out of there. It was a harsh reminder for me not to focus on my Strava numbers and know that I did the work.

  • Altra Lone Peak 3
  • 2 pairs of Injinji medium weight
  • 21 Salted Caramel Gu
  • All the water
  • about 5-6 pieces of quesadilla
  • Nathan VaporCloud Race Vest
  • Suunto Ambit3 Peak

 

  • Lap 1- 2:15
  • Lap 2- 2:04 – 4:17
  • Lap 3- 2:17 – 6:35
  • Lap 4- 2:26 – 9:02
  • Lap 5- 2:18 – 11:20

Clarence DeMar Half Marathon – Race Day

(This is part 2 of my first experience running a half marathon.  For the first part, click here.)

My good friend John, who was originally going to run the full marathon, but got super sick and missed almost the entire month of September and wasn’t able to run at all, picked me up at 7 am to bring me to the starting line in Surry, NH.  We hung out for a while chatting about the race until about 7:30 and I headed up to the start line and got my head right.  I always feel weird before a race that I’m running by myself.  I know my routine and what works for me before runs, which is really nothing.  I checked my phone to make sure my playlist was set for the run.  I made sure my inhaler and banana snackens hadn’t fallen out of my flipbelt.  I took a couple of bad pictures and kinda just watched everyone else.  There were so many different types of people out there.  One thing I didn’t do was think about the race.  I had spent the last week obsessing over it and the last couple of days walking through the course in my head…  ALL THE TIME.  I was ready for the mileage and obsessing now would just allow me to get into my own head too much, and that’s a bad place for me to be before a long run.

There was some music playing through the loud speakers that felt like a constant repeat of Meat Loaf and Queen.  It wasn’t that bad, and honestly I wasn’t paying that much attention to it.  Before too long, Ted McGreer, owner of our local running specialty store, Ted’s Shoe & Sport, announced we had 15, then 10, then 5 minutes until a hard start at 8.  The full marathon was starting at the same time in the next town over.  After some nice words about how this was the inaugural DeMar half marathon and everything that goes along with that he counted down and fired the starting pistol, which I realized at that moment was the first race I’d run that used one.  Pretty cool for me.

The beginning of the race was a short downhill and through the parking lot of a nice little state park next to Surry Mountain Lake.  It was pretty slow going until we got up to the road where folks were able to spread out and find a pace.  I was able to lock onto my desired pace of 9 min/mile pretty quickly once we hit the road.  After about a half mile, the course turns down into a back country road and quickly connects to the meat of the first part of the course, a half mile climb through some truly beautiful foliage. It’s at this point you start seeing more and more people out cheering.  There were definitely folks out in the first 3 miles, but from this point on, you probably couldn’t run a quarter mile without there being people cheering for you.  People I have never met.  People who don’t know me or most of the other runners, but there they were.  It was such a fantastic feeling.  I usually shy away from anybody giving me an “attaboy,” but I couldn’t help but grin and thank everybody.  I mean EVERYBODY, at least I tried to.  I thanked anyone that I made eye contact with, all of the volunteers at the water stations, all of the police officers that were stopping traffic.  I tried to make sure they all knew how much I appreciated their work.  And I really, sincerely, did appreciate it.  This race completely opened my eyes as to how positive an event can be for a community.

Besides the normal wear and tear of a longer run, there was only once during the race that I was a little worried.  Right about mile 6, the top of my left foot, which has been giving me problems over the last few weeks (Extensor Tendonitis?), really spiked with honest to shit pain.  Over the course of 8-9 steps it went from, “huh, this again.” To “what the holy fuck?  Now?”  At this point, I told myself that there was no way I was stopping and that I would have to run with whatever was happening down there.  I was lucky and whatever the little flare up was, it dissipated by the time we entered Wheelock Park for a nice downhill cruise.  Besides that, I had a couple of little blisters that came from older shoes and soft, like a baby’s forehead, foot skin.

At mile 9.5 the race course scoots by my parents house, the house I grew up in.  They were already at the finish line cheering my daughter on as she finished the children’s 1.2 mile race.  My mom made a great sign and put it on an eisal so that everyone could see it.  It made me feel fantastic and helped keep me focused during the last few miles.  As soon as we hit Wheelock, I was on roads and paths that I’ve been running on all summer.  I knew every little climb, every shitty sidewalk and every downhill.  I was super comfortable with finishing the race strong, and by the time we were at mile 11, I knew that I had a great chance at coming in under 2 hours.

The last few miles were really a blur.  Maybe it’s that I’ve run them so often and my mind tends to float sometimes, maybe I was focusing on keeping my pace up, but for whatever reason, up until we hit Main Street at mile 12.9 or so, I was blank.  When I hit the last, tiny uphill that lets out onto the end of the race, I became fully aware.  I looked at my watch and knew that I would come in under 2 hours and that I would probably do it in under 1:58.  When I saw the last turn roped off and the crowd of people, I started to float.  I moved past at least 3 runners as I turned towards the finish line.  I started looking for my family as I got closer to the finish.  I saw my wife and then my parents and finally my daughter.  I stopped my watch and bent low so a little guy, maybe 5 or 6 could put my finishers medal around my neck.  It was a fantastic morning and I will honestly cherish this race as my first giant hurdle crossed.  I’m sure there are plenty of little things I’m forgetting about the race and I’ll add posts here and there to flesh out the details more, but over all, I was able to perform nearly exactly how I wanted to.  Someday one of these things is going to go sideways and I’ll need to have a mental massage, but this race was, most certainly, not one of those days.

Strong Like a River 5K

I’m sitting in my favorite coffee joint, listening to Grinds, and writing my first post on my phone. I’ve never done this before and am kinda sorta interested in how it’ll look once published. So if there’s weird photo placements or interesting word substitutions, remember I’m writing this with auto correct. So…

My sister and I ran our second race together this morning. It was another small 5K benefitting a local charity, Sy’s Fund. It was an out and back that followed a bike path we both run on often. It had a few little hills, but nothing too difficult. My sis PRed, which rocks. There was a mixup at the beginning, where the leaders took a wrong turn and we all just followed them. I knew we were going the wrong way, but followed anyway. That really, really pissed me off. Not that folks made a mistake, or that the course wasn’t well marked, but that I knew the correct course and still followed the pack. It’s one of those times where I’m reminded that I still need to work on my confidence. Not just with running, but in everyday situations. Blah, fert, whatever.

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It was a tad chilly this morning, and I kept my long sleeve, hat and gloves on for the run. This also may be my last race in the ASICS. These little yellow bootsies will always be my first real running shoes. I’ve learned so much about my form and training while in these. Mostly I learned about how much better my whole body feels while running in minimal drop shoes. I ordered a pair of Altra Instinct 1.5 for soooooo cheap on Amazon and they’ll be here Tuesday. I’m stoked to take them out on Wednesday for they’re inaugural prance. The ASICS will always be my first, but I’m coming up on 300 miles in them and the wear is becoming apparent.

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After the race, Dede and I ran 3 more miles back to her place where I had stashed some clothes and other post race necessities.

Tonight we’re heading over to my sister and brother in law’s for a roast turkey dinner with all the fixins. It’s a bonus Thanksgiving, only with more beer and less football.

Friends Fighting Cancer 5K – Race!

And it’s over.  6 weeks of preparing, all for today, and it was really worth it.  I was even able to get my sub 25 minute 5K!  Barely, at 24:58, but it still counts.  It SO counts.  First, before anything else, here’s the real distance and info recorded from my Garmin and shown to you in beautiful red by strava.

The race was held in the old mill area of Manchester, New Hampshire.  When I researched the race before, the layout looped around the local AA baseball stadium and back to the start.  This year it was an out and back.  This is only my second race, and my first where the course just folded back on itself, and I have to tell you, I’m not a huge fan.  It was nice to cheer on the leaders as they came by.  I liked the course itself, mostly shaded and mostly flat.  I did feel a bit squeezed by the path at certain points.  That’s probably just in my head though.  When I run bike paths and trails, it never feels tight.  I think it was the adrenaline of the day and my mind thinking that we were on roads most of the time.  Just silly hogwash.  The day was an absolute beauty.  Low humidity, low temperature and a nice breeze.  Weird thing is that I got real dehydrated halfway through the race.  before the race I held the same routine I do every day before running, and running way farther than 3.1.  I’m thinking that the adrenaline and excitement must have taken a bit more out of me pre-race than I thought they would.

Now, my Garmin says 3.16, strava says 3.2 and so does map my anus.  I did the first 3.1 in 24:39 which is a little slower than my PR from last week, but the route I often run here has a sweeping downhill that I’m usually able to fly down.  To be fair, it also has some bitch hills that today’s course did not, but either way you cut it, no excuses, I finished the race, officially at 24:58!

I mentioned that I beat my goal of 25 minutes, but I didn’t mention that I actually nailed down 2nd place in my division and 21 overall!  AND, I was the oldest in my group.  Those kittens have got some serious tomcat shit to worry about next year!…  That sounded, bizarrely gross…  Never mind.  I’ll take it.  My first race.  I accomplished my goal, actually for the year, but whatevs.  Actually placed in my group and had a blast doing it.  I’m a little disappointed in the way other runners finished and just took off, but that’s on them.  I had a blast cheering on the finishers and spending the morning in a beautiful sun.

My folks were able to come, and so did my brother in-law, Steve and my old timer pal, John.  John’s training for the DeMar Marathon that is run here in Keene and the nearby “villes”.  We went to high school together and never really decided that it wasn’t a good idea to hang out.  Someday, the stories of our troubled past will be told, but this is not that day.  It was amazing driving over with my parents.  I wrote before how my mother was a long time runner, but I never mentioned that my father also ran state championship level track in high school in Ohio.  He was also a star half back and played college football as a defensive back.  During my senior year of high school, I was lucky enough to have been elected co-captain of the football team.  After the season, during the awards banquet, which anyone who has ever played high school sports knows, is an absolute waste of time and a real bore.  Usually held in some shit-hole gym or cafeteria and usually a good 30 degrees warmer than could ever be comfortable.  Our football banquet was absolutely no different.  That all sucked, believe me, but what was worse than that, what was an absolute failing on my part, was that when the captains were allowed to spend some time thanking people, I neglected to mention my father.  My father who had hardly missed a single PRACTICE since I started playing football, let alone games.  My father who was a junior high math teacher who also taught an advanced class which started an hour or so BEFORE school in a town 30 minutes away for 35 years and still got to our practice field nearly every day to watch the second half of practice and drive me home.  My father, who always kept his cool when I turned into an idiot stoner for most of my junior year.  My father, who’s son got up on stage and thanked coaches, fellow players and maybe even a trainer or two, and never once thought about thanking his father, never mentioned it.  My father, who has lost both of his parents to cancer and nearly his son, drove with said son, an hour and a half away and cheered him on while he ran a race dedicated to raising money for cancer research.

Pops, thank you.  Thank you for coming to all of my practices and games.  Thank you for showing me how a man is supposed to play sports.  Thank you for teaching me that eating a raw onion before a football game is a god-damned genius way of creeping the shit out of opposing running backs (and a few teammates too).  Thank you for brilliantly composing a teaching career that has impressed thousands of students, athletes, parents and piers.  Thank you for being a father, never an enemy, always a friend and forever a mentor.  Thank you for never, ever disappointing me.  If I can ever be half the father you were to Deanna and I, my daughter will want of little.  Thank you dad.  I love you.

Stupid Nervousness. Stupid Brain.

I have almost gone sideways thinking about the race Sunday.  I know this is ridiculous.  I know I’m not competing for a top spot.  I know I won’t even come close in my age group.  I know all of these things, but I’m still running against my biggest foe, my brain.  Ever since I got close to 25 minutes, it’s the only time I can consider a success.  I’ve read that a racer should have three times in their head, a best time, a happy time and a time they don’t want to go below.  All I can think about is 25 minutes and the more I think about how “not fast” this is, the more I realize I’m obsessing, but that doesn’t matter.  My brain has a time.  Two stupid numbers that of all places, the internet gave me when I Googled “what is a good 5K time.”

I don’t even know if 25 minutes is a good time for a 5K.  I know it’s no where close to the fastest, but it could also just be someone’s opinion I happened on when I started running.  I keep telling my brain this and my brain thinks for a second.  Kind of rubs it’s chin, looks away and spits out, “25 minutes.”  My brain’s been acting a lot like Hunter Thompson lately.  Not a good head-of-house kind of organ.

I’ve walked my brain through the very real possibility of not finishing under 25 minutes and my brain doesn’t freak out.  It doesn’t get depressed or sad.  It just shakes it’s head and repeats “25 minutes.”  I need to talk this out with someone.  My friend John, who I’d love to interview here, has been training for his first marathon and over the last couple of years has run numerous races from 5Ks to half marathons.  I’ve already cornered him and asked him to have a chat with me later this week.  Hopefully he’ll be able to get through to my brain, but we’ve been friends for over 20 years and sometimes I feel like we share a brain.  Shit.  Was this my brains idea in the first place?  To talk to John?  What if my brain is setting me up?

I’m taking steps tonight to trick my brain into calming down a little.  The wife, kid and I are dining on a fine take-and-bake pizza from a fantastic, local shop and I’m going to hit my favorite specialty beer store and pick up a fine IPA I’ve heard about.  The plan is to wait until my brain is a little slow.  Kind of like a lion after it eats, all full and content and without regard.  I’ll try and talk things through with it again, I’ll try, but I’m worried it might be smarter than me.

Run, Walk & Roll 5K – My First Race!

My first race!  On a whim, I looked up races for this weekend and found this 5k in my town and asked my sister if she wanted to run it with me.  My sister used to run…  a lot.  Half marathons, biathlons, 10s, 5s, you name it.  She’s taken a few years off and last month started up again.  At this point in our running…  um careers? I’m a tad quicker than she is.  I wanted my first race to be special, and running with my sister was way too cool.  It was a small race, and a nice morning and I absolutely loved every minute of it.   We walked to the local park that was hosting the start and finish of the race, about a mile away.  It was a nice chance to stretch the legs, get a little bit of a heart rate moving and chat about the race.  We’ve been following each others progress and I know that she’s run farther than 3 miles at a consistent 9:30 min/mile, so I thought that might be a nice pace to shoot for.  My sister, Deanna agreed.

When we arrived, my wife, kiddo and Deanna’s husband were waiting.  I asked Alicia to take our DSLR and take as many pictures as she could without feeling creepy or odd.  Being a great wife, she did just that.  There weren’t many folks running the race, so the lineup for the start wasn’t very complicated.  Somehow, De and I got stuck behind the walkers though and had to kind of weave our way through at the start.  We came out hot, real hot for her and nailed the first mile in 8:38.  Ouch.  I didn’t tell her our pace until we hit the first mile.  We took it back a good bit for the last 2 miles, but finished strong and at a pace that Deanna hadn’t been running.  A whole 30 seconds faster per mile than her average.  Oh, we also passed a handful of runners, that felt nice, but not getting passed felt better.

My sister and her husband do so much for our daughter, from dance classes to taking her out for special dinners to sitting around the piano jamming out Broadway tunes.  They truly are amazing folk and I’m lucky to have her as a sister, Steve as a bro-in-law, and their love and friendship means the world to me.  Mornings like this one,  just one half of one hour spent doing something we both love, reminds me how amazing this sport can be.

Split
Time
Distance
Avg Pace
Summary 29:40.0 3.31 8:57
1 8:37.7 1.00 8:38
2 9:01.5 1.00 9:02
3 9:15.9 1.00 9:16
4 2:45.3 0.31 8:50