Friday, October 26, 2007

Good Luck Runners!

For anyone running the Marine Corps Marathon, I wish you luck. Hopefully, all the nasty rain we have been getting for the past few days, will provide a cool, calm day on Sunday.

If you are bored along say Mile 13...look for me...I'll be handing out Clif Shots at the Mile 13 food station and cheering for ya!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Celebrity Sighting and More

Wow, what a weekend! Lots to tell, lots to tell...as Rebecca and I made it up to NYC to visit my sister and some friends. I am not one to gawk over people or be completely star struck, but this weekend's series of events just has me grinning ear to ear.

Let me start with Friday 5 pm. Expecting to worst traffic conditions (it is rush hour DC), we cut through Rock Creek Park up to 95. Smart decision there, as it was all one way traffic moving north. Traffic moved the entire trip up through New Jersey and into NYC. When it was all said and done, it took us 4.5 hours with one stop for dinner/gas. Oh yea, and we found a money parking spot less than 2 blocks from my sister's apartment. Sweet.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. We decided to go for a run in Central Park, first thing. What a nice day. All the heat and humidity was gone, leaving clear skies and TONS of runners, cyclists, rollerbladers, and weirdos to watch. We did a nice loop on the reservoir, which is about 1.5 miles, for a nice start to the day. Then it was on to the West Side to meet a friend from breakfast. After looking at several places, we settled on EJs, a place we've been to before, but always has consistently good eats. As we walked it, I got elbowed in gut by Rebecca, who was elbowed by my sister. At first, I thought there was something wrong with the place and we were just going to leave and go somewhere else. And then, I discovered why I had just be elbowed...2 BIG celebrities had just walked through the door. Who you ask? How about Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner...AND their baby Violet...AND parents! Oh, and they sat us right across from them. You have got to be kidding me! We could hardly contain ourselves, as we ate our eggs and home fries.

So that MADE the trip. Less than 12 hours in NYC, and we could have gone home satisfied. Saturday night, we made the trip down to the West Village to eat at Risotteria, a restaurant that specializes in gluten free foods. Highly recommended to anyone. Rebecca and I split a risotto dish (with mushrooms, arugula, and truffle oil) and a gluten free deep dish pizza. The risotto was good, but the pizza was amazing! For anyone who has eaten gluten free pizza, this place is a miracle maker. How they got the crust to be so close to regular style pizza is beyond me. And to cap things off, we all shared at LARGE slice of gluten free carrot cake. Again, I don't think anyone would be able to tell the difference between a non-gluten free slice and this. It was amazing. Needless to say, we were stuffed and had to walk our dinner off.

The weekend was capped off by a 4 hour ride home and a win by the Redskins! What a weekend!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New National Marathon Course

I am relieved to report on the new course for the National Marathon. Its similar from years past, only that it is reversed. The good news is that the huge up hill portion which was previously around Mile 18, is now downhill. While I'm sure there are plenty of hills, it appears that some biggest ones are now downhills. The first several miles will be up hill as runners head north from RFK Stadium, but I'd rather do that on fresh legs than have to do it on Mile 18. According to the website, the new course goes through 6 of the city's 8 wards. More details to come once I am able to drive/run sections when I start training in a few months.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Race Report: Army 10 Miler

As I'm sure most people have heard by now, the conditions for this year's race were not ideal. It was very hot and very humid. And despite what they claim was a 70 degree start temperature, it wasn't. It was about 80 and by the time most people were finishing the course, it was near 90. My watch said the average temperature was 86, with a high of 92 during the race. This does not take into account what it felt like with the near 100% humidity and the sun bearing down. My heart goes out to anyone who had to race in those conditions without water after the Mile 4 water station. I can only imagine what it must have been like.

Ok, so back to the race. Since I knew it was going to be nasty, I made sure to drink lots of fluids in the days leading up to the race and on race morning. Rebecca dropped by off at the Pentagon around 7:05 and I made my way over the race area to get through security. Once in, I made my usual stop at the Port-o-Potty. I spent the next 20 minutes or so watching the Canadian and US Army Golden Knights paratroopers jumping out of the planes at 10,000 ft and come in landing on a spot no larger than a 10 ft x 10 ft mark. It was amazing to see. Shortly after that, we were welcomed by a flyover of 4 very low flying helicopters in a diamond formation. It was very emotional as they played the national anthem, which was shortly followed by the countless "WHOOAs!" yelled throughout the crowd. We were then led closer to the starting line when the race cannon went off.

The first 2 miles were pretty normal for a race of 26,000 people: ducking and dodging through the masses to find some running room. The first notable thing I saw was after the first mile, as we approached the Memorial Bridge to head into DC. I man was running (at 6:45/mile pace) and playing "Stars and Stripes Forever" on his flute! Simply amazing! Not sure how he did it, but good for him. Mile 3 was all up hill as we headed up Constitution Ave and then up Virginia Ave and around to Rock Creek Parkway. I think I pushed too hard on the uphill, because miles 4 and 5 were starting to hurt. I grabbed a Gatorade Endurance and a water at the Mile 4 aid station and kept pushing, hoping that the cold water and calories would keep me at pace.

And then it hit me. All that pre-race focus of being hydrated. Yea. I drank too much. Never, in any race, have I had to stop to go. As I crossed Mile 5, it was close to unbearable. I knew I couldn't hold it another 5 Miles. I knew I couldn't just go while I was running, because the entire streets were lined with thousands of people. I'm a pretty open person, but not that open. I also knew that I needed to keep taking in fluids and I couldn't given that I had to go so bad. So I decided to stop at the Mile 6 water stop and hit up one of the Port-o-Potties. It cut into my time in a big way, but I had to go. Once I got out, my legs were a bit stiff, so I had to start with a slower pace and build into a comfortable pace. I started picking it up around Mile 7 and into Mile 8, but then I reached the 14th St Bridge. Ever since the first time I ran the Army 10 Miler, I have never looked at the bridge the same way. Almost 2 miles of steady up hill hell. And in this year's race, we had the luck to have hot sun, humid air, and even hotter pavement. It felt like a slog. People were dropping off to the sides left and right. Cramps, walking, breaks...everyone was struggling. I just told myself to keep plugging away and eventually made it to the exit ramp for the turnaround into the finish.

My splits went something like this:
Mile 1: 6:50
Mile 2: 7:00
Mile 3: 7:11
Mile 4: 7:30
Mile 5: 7:48
Mile 6: 8:48 (Bathroom break included)
Mile 7: 8:25
Mile 8: 8:11
Mile 9: 8:11
Mile 10: 8:20
Final: 1:20:07 - A course PR of about a minute.
2321/17,000 finishers

After the race, I took the Metro home and made some interesting observations. Everyone who had just run the race, had a puddle under them as they stood in the cars from sweat dripping off their body and clothes. Funny, but nasty. Then, when I got on another train after a transfer, the whole car started clapping for all of us when we got on. It was kind of cool.

Overall, I'm happy with the final result. I PR'd on the course, though I have run much faster 10 Mile times. Only annoying thing remaining is that my Achilles is bothering me, so I'll be staying away from running for the next week or 2. I went on an elliptical machine this morning and stretched and it feels MUCH better, so I'll continue with icing, stretching, and light work until the pain is gone.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What a Difference a Year Makes

So....its hot and humid. Really humid. Near 100% humidity humid. The high is supposed to be near 90 too. Ugh. There goes the hope for good race conditions for tomorrow's Army 10 Miler. Me and 26,000 of my closest friends will be dripping sweat all along DC tomorrow.

Last year's weather couldn't have been closer to the polar opposite. While some people wore long spandex under their race clothes and waited in trash bags for the race to start, I went with a thermal long sleeve and shorts and was plenty cold.

No need to worry this year...I won't be cold. Looks like I'm going to have to hit up the water stops a little more than I had planned.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Watch Out For This Guy

This weekend is the Army 10 Miler. This will be my 2nd year running it. One person I will be on the lookout for is this guy.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Race Report: The Home Run 10k

I've never actually run a timed 10k outside of Olympic triathlons before, so this race was my first shot at seeing what I have in the tank without being on tired legs. Since my official triathlon season is over, I have been training much less often, trying to catch up on the many things I neglected. I didn't expect to blow away the competition, but I had my own internal goals. The fastest timed 5k I've run this year was 20 minutes, so I figured something between 40-45 minutes is reasonable. Factoring in "my fat ass on the couch for the past 3 weeks", I chose a conservative goal of 45 minutes. Oh yea. and I was going to a friend's birthday party the night before the race, so the hopes of getting sleep the night before, not so much. And since it was his birthday, I had to knock a few back to celebrate. Bottom line is that I got to bed at 2 am the night before the race.

Ok, let's get to the race. While warming up, I noticed a contingent of Kenyans in the parking lot. I thought to myself that it makes sense, since the Army 10 Miler is the following week, so this would be a great race paced workout for them. It immediately hit me that I wasn't going to win this race ;) We all lined up, as they got ready for the start. I was 1 row back from the Kenyans in the front when the gun went off. My strategy was to go out like a 5k, holding back just a little. I found a few people that looked like good pace bunnies, so I stuck with them for the first mile or so. My first mile split was 6:22. I felt good, so I decided to stay steady for mile 2, which was flat with a little uphill. We hit mile 2 with a split of 6:51. Legs were burning a bit and I knew there was a hill on mile 3, so I tried to keep it up. The hill got the best of me and I came in at 7:58. It was almost all climbing. Fortunately, mile 4 was mostly flat/downhill, which took us through a residential neighborhood, where a bunch of my friend's lived growing up. Mile 4 came through in 6:34 and I was back on pace. I knew once I hit mile 5, I'd mentally push through the 3 big rolling hills, so I just tried to push through the hills and pain and get there. Mile 5 came through in 7:21. The last 1.2 miles were a blur as I picked up the pace. However, runners from the 5k race that was going on at the same time were hogging the best line on the course. I had to do some ducking and dodging through people to hit the final straightaway. The last 1.2 miles came through in 8:38. My final time was 43:46, an average of just over 7 minute/mile pace.

I finished ahead of my goal on a hilly course, so I was very pleased. With the Army 10 Miler up for this weekend, I know I should be able to keep a similar pace and try to hold on for the last 3-4 miles. This put me at 26/128 overall.

Remember those Kenyans? Yea...the winner finished in 29 minutes...29 MINUTES! Now that is FAST!
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