Saturday, December 29, 2012

Adventure Runner

When I Grown Up I Want To be An Adventure Runner...

As young kids runners growing up many of us dream of being a firemen, maybe a superhero or a doctor.  Then the mundane realities of adult life settle on us and we grow up wondering what we will be when we (catch your breath...) do finally grown up.  A few of the lucky ones find out early and can follow that calling.  The rest of us go thur life wondering "what will I be when I grown up?"

The good news is that, we the runner inside of us, can still grow up to be anything we want--unless, that is,you want to be SpongeBob.  Myself, I think I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up...An Adventure Runner!

Running The Sahara:

On February 20, Charlie, Ray and Kevin touched the Red Sea, just a few hours before sunset. Their quest had lasted 111 days and taken them through 6 countries: Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya, and Egypt. By the team's daily GPS record, they had traveled over 4,300 miles (6,920 kilometers). They fought through injury and extreme fatigue to reach their goal, which changed them forever.


Pikes Peak Marathon:

This marathon starts out like a lot of races on Any Street, USA. But your first left turn will have you turning in the direction of up! During the next 10 miles, as you gain almost 6,000 vertical feet, your legs, lungs, heart and mind will be worn to a ragged nothingness. But it won’t be until the next three miles, with still over 2,000' of vertical to go, that you will realize where the Marathon got its moniker—America’s Ultimate Challenge.

The Barkley Marathon:

The Barkley is considered one of the toughest 100 mile races in the world. It has 59,100 feet of climb (and 59,100 feet of descent), more than any other 100 mile race. Since the race began in 1986, only 13 runners out of about 900 have finished within the 60 hour cutoff.

Badwater 135:

Recognized globally as "the world's toughest foot race," this legendary event pits approximately 90 of the world's toughest athletes—runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers—against one another and the elements. Covering 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA in temperatures up to 130F (55c), it is the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet.

I'm not saying I can or will run any of these great adventure runs, but when I go up, I might just give it a try!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Windsor Castle Park

A Trail Review:  Windsor Castle Park

Located in the heart of downtown Smithfield, Va. Windsor Castle Park is a 208-acre riverside park. Dedicated in May of 2010, the park features a woodland trail system, picnic and open area space, a dog park, kayak/canoe launch, fishing pier, mountain bike path, scenic overlooks and the historic manor house -- Windsor Castle.  Windsor Castle Farm was originally part of a 1450 acre parcel patented in 1637 by Arthur Smith, an ancestor of the town's founder, Arthur Smith IV.

Over 3.8 miles of walking trails and bridges wind through pristine wooded areas, along beautifully landscaped open areas, and adjacent to picturesque creeks and marshes in the park. Five pedestrian bridges cross the creeks and marshes, and numerous overlooks are strategically located for resting and sightseeing – per The Official web site.

I’ve lived in Smithfield for over seven years and for reason beyond me, I have never visited this park until yesterday.  I've heard alot of good about this park from local friends yet before hitting the trails I wanted to "virtually scout out" what I was getting myself into.  The information on their official web site provided an excellent overview.  I love the adventure of a new trail but I hate going in blind, the web site featured some history, amenities, great pictures and maps so any new visitors could get a lay of the land before venturing out on the trails.

As the trails go what I found were well maintained and flat without any threat of roots or uneven footing.  The trails cover from 3 miles, around perimeter or 3.8 miles if you take some of the inner loops.  The trails are wide, well groomed and provide a mild challenge.  The natural trails are designed to provide a relaxing outing, yet still provide a good workout for more experienced runners/walkers/hikers.  This is not a “hill trail” but does offer some undulating terrain.  The park also offers two unique “trail” personalities.  Half of the trail is run thu a local wooded area with bridges crossing over some natural waterways and marshes.  In this area you get the feel of being in a deep lush forest, the other half of the trail is run more in the open, as if your running thu local farm lands.

From a work out perspective, the trails at Windsor Castle Park offer range of challenges.  For a easy paced lap the trails offers an enjoyable day out in nature, but if you’re looking for a “workout” pick up your pace and add a few laps and the trails will get your heart pumping.  The day I ran Windsor Park I did four laps, and each lap took a little zip out of my legs.  Although none of the hills are killers, add them up and run the loop a few times…and they can feel like Everest.  The challenge from a local perspective, if Noland Trail is a 10 I would give Windsor Park a 4.  The quality of the park is nothing less then a 10.

For more information on Windsor Castle Park, check out their Web-site. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Luke 2

Luke 2 New International Version (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus


In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Let Me Introduce Myself…

(Michele and I)

My blog is a little over a year old, and two things just hit me.  #1 My high school English teacher would flip out if he knew I enjoyed writing and have posted my works for the rest of the free world to see.  #2 What really struck me was that I have never formally introduced myself to the running community that I follow and that follows me.  So without giving out to much personal data which, the Nigeria auto scammers, or some Amazon women’s tribe, could use to kid nap me, well maybe I could leak some info to that group from Amazon…here goes. 

My name is Brian and I like to run.  I’m married to a wonderfully supportive wife, who treats me better then I need to be treated, named Michele.  I have two grown kids, a Fur kid named Hanna (miniature schnauzer) and one Grandson, he is the best Grandson on the planet, just saying.  I work full time as a Mechanical Training Instructor for a Fortune 500 company and I’m retired military.  I’ve been running steady for nearly 12 years, before that it was hit and miss…mostly miss.  I love God, my wife, my family, my job, The Cleveland Browns and Running!

Following a meet the runner interview format, here is an insiders look at me!

I remember running and winning a shuttle contest back in elementary school, taking home that little blue ribbon…I was so proud.  It must have been between first and forth grades.

I’m inspired by the great accomplishments of elite athletes and the personal victories of regular people…if they can do it, I can get out the door too.

The Star Wars and Batman series

“Run” by Dean Karnazes and I’m presently reading “14 Mins” by Alberto Salazar.

I LOVE me some OREO Blizzard, just typing OREO Blizzard makes me happy!

I get a bit jumpy.

Well…daily driver is a 2008 Dodge Caliber, but I have 2 other “toy” cars (1970 Dodge Challenger T/A and a 1971 Austin Mini, British spec right hand drive convertible) and a 1 ton truck for pulling our RV.

(1970 Dodge Challenger T/A 1 of 2400, 22k original miles)

Pizza, I could eat it 24/7, much to my wife’s protest.

GREASTEST SPORTS MOMENT:  I am a monster Cleveland Browns fan, have been since 1971.  As my military retirement drew near, I wrote a letter to the Cleveland Browns asking if they would fly my retirement flag over the stadium.  The team I had supported for nearly 37 years did me one better. The Browns hosted my wife and I for a Monday Night Football game vs the N.Y. Giants.  We won, and I cried like a little boy.

(Michele and I and Browns Win!)

Richmond 2005, my marathon PR and my first marathon back in the states after our overseas military assignment.

I was let down by a “7 time somebody,” so now it would be any member of the U.S. Track team, but I really enjoy following the U.S. marathon teams.

My wife, Son and I went to Rome for Thanksgiving one year.  We spent 3 days walking around the city.  Although tough on the legs/feet it is the best way to “really” see the city.  So much history…was an awesome trip.

(Anthony, Michele and I 2004)

My wife and I take a lot of mini trips, three days here, four days there, but our last real “vacation” would have to be the KLOVE Christian Cruise we went on last year.

I really want to take my running to the “next” level.  I run a solid sub 4:30 marathon, but would like to be a sub 4:00 runner.  I hope to get there before the clock tells me it is too late.

Well that is me in a nutshell; I hope to see you out on the race circuit.  On “the race circuit” that sounds so professional, If you see me on the circuit, at the Olympic trails or NYC/Chicago…better not tell my wife because I maxed out our credit card.  If we do cross paths say Hello, the running world is a small engaging community and I enjoy meeting and chatting with other runners.

Run On!


Monday, December 17, 2012

SeaShore Ultra

Race recap:  SeaShore Nature Trail 50k 2012

SeaShore Nature Trail 50K, I ran this race last year as my first 50k Ultra...and although I "thought" I had a good plan, I crashed and burned.  I went out to fast, could not control my pace, and at the 20 mile mark, the wheels came off...I just wanted to quit.  In fact I did quit, mentally I checked out, sat down on a log at the 64th Street Aid Station and resigned to getting my first DNF.

But while sitting on that log, I must have said "I quit" out loud and another runner heard me and talked me into continuing.  The words that convinced me to keep going "You have to walk as far to get back as you would to finish."   That was enough of a kick in the shorts to get me back on my feet and to keep going.  I did not get the name of this runner (a female) but if you are reading this "THANK YOU."  I finished in 6:49:16...

For a full year, I've been looking to get my revenge.  My goal for 2012 was to finish in under 6 hours.


After running 40+ miles the week prior, my prep started on Monday when my official taper began.  I ran a total of 10 miles Monday and Tuesday and took Weds, Thur, and Friday off.  I began to fuel up Thursday night with a monster plate of spaghetti for dinner.  Friday night I cooked up a big pancake dinner.  For lunch both days I went with lite meals supplementing each with a clifbar or two to get in a few more carbs.  Saturday morning I awoke up at 0345 and had 3 large pancakes.  At 0600 I headed to the race site and had a clifbar on the way.  That completed my carb load and prep race prep.

On a side note during the drive to First Landing State Park the morning featured a breath taking sunrise, I wish I could have gotten a picture but I was driving.  The sky was filled with a purple/pink haze...God was surly at work.

The race conditions were near perfect, at race start 0815 the temps were around 40 degrees.  I decide to go with a long sleeve tech-T (black) with a short sleeve tech-(orange) over top, a pair of Long Distance Race Ready Shorts (black) and my orange and white Nike Air Pegasus shoes.  I carried a water bottle and wore my Garmin 201 GPS.  I wanted to wear a pair of gloves but forgot them during the excitement of pre-race.  

My hands were a bit cold at first, but within the first miles my hands warmed up and everything was fine.   The race ended with temps in the mid 50s.  We had a few moments of bright skies and sunshine, but for the most part it was an overcast day, with no wind.  A perfect Ultra day.
This year my plan was to run with George N. a local Ultra Runner/Pacer/and Race Director for the 24 Hour Run For Cancer.  I've been mostly self taught when it comes to ultra running and last year taught me I have a thing or two to learn.  When George offered up his help, I jumped on the chance to run with him.  

George has run this event many times in the past and knows the course/trails very well.  His plan was to run all the flat sections, down hills and fast walk the up hills for the opening half.  Then turn it on during the back half and put the hammer down when the feeling was right.  I've never tried a run/walk routine before, but with an open mind I hooked up with George and the adventure lessons began.

(George and I taken at George's 24 Hour Run for Cancer 
I had completed 75 miles)

Note:  My GPS struggled with satellite receptions all day, many of the times checking our pace I saw the dreaded "Weak GPS Signal" flashing at me.

Mile  1  10:41 -- The trails at First Landing State Park are well maintained and easy to navigate.  Although a "trail run," I would not call this a difficult or technical trail.  The trails are wide and although rolling there are no real climbs.  The footing is mostly level with only a few rough areas of roots/sand to navigate over.  There are a few bridge crossing but then again the footing is solid and level.  The only real problems I had were during the latter stages for the race when it got hard to pick up my feet.  In those final miles, I caught a few roots and had to take a few quick steps to avoid hitting the deck.

Mile  2  10:41, Mile  3 12:50, Mile  4 11:36

Mile  5 11:29 -- We past thu the first Aid station (64th Street Aid Station) nearly on target with our goal pace, I picked up a cookie on the fly and moved on to the far turn around point.

Mile  6 11:33, Mile  7 11:11

Mile  8  12:09 -- Passing thu the 64th Street aid station again, I picked up some fluids and a snack.  I carry my own water bottle (hand held type) and here we were able to get a top off.  The aid stations were well stocked with smiling, helpful faces and plently of treats.  Along with fresh Gatorade I also snagged a few cookies and headed back out on the trail.  During most marathons I carry GU packs and hit them about every 6 miles chased with Gatorade.  During this event I poured the GU right into my bottle allowing it to dilute with the GatoraideThis makes taking the GU much easier, a mix of lemon Gatorade and strawberry GU...yummy!

(Map of First Landing State Park)
Mile  9  11:28

Mile  10  1:55:29 -- 11:46, Normally when I'm pacing myself I keep a close eye on my GPS to ensure I remain on target.  Today I was relying on George's experience and sense of pace.  Without fail George kept us on our goal, we were hitting our targets right on pace.

Mile  11  13:04, Mile  12  11:23, Mile  13  12:53, Mile  14  13:14, Mile  15  11:47, Mile  16  14:25, Mile  17  12:09, Mile  18  13:02, Mile  19  9:58

Mile  20 3:47:27 -- In 2011, this is where I came undone, I rolled into the 64th Street Aid Station at mile 20 and I was spent.  It was this scene of my near DNF that haunted me for over a year.  This year, I ran into mile 20 with a totally different perspective and it was so nice to run into this aid station knowing I had a lot left in my tank.  George and I the pit stop after making up some ground on a flat section of the course.  We got our bottles refilled, grabbed a few snacks and ran on.  And to be honest I wanted to get out of this place as fast as I could.

Mile  21  10:38Mile  22  11:44, Mile  23  10:47, Mile  24  11:20, Mile  25  11:46

Mile  26.2  4:55:00 -- At this point-on the course we passed a little sign that read "You Are An Ultra Marathoner Now."  I thought that was a nice touch.

Mile  27  10:52 -- As we approached the last aid station (Cape Henry Aid Station) another sign was along the trail proclaiming "3.2 miles to go."  That some how gave me an extra kick in the butt knowing I could do anything for 3 miles.  As we turned on to Bald Cypress Loop, I put the hammer down as it was go time.  George and I had said that whenever either of us felt we had a kick, it was okay to pull ahead.  The closing three miles I felt like I was really moving, I passed a handful of other runners and felt very strong.  Looking at my GPS times it looks more like I was able to maintain as others were falling off their paces....that is still a win.

Mile  28  11:01, Mile  29  11:51, Mile  30  10:25

Mile  31 5:54:02 -- I motored out of the last wooded/trail section and on to the asphalt road way which closed out the 50k.  After dragging my feet over the roots, sand and rocks, it was so nice to have a solid footing again. With that extra spring in my step I turned on whatever I had left.  I never race the other competitors, I'm racing the clock, but during this last section I had a few "targets" to run down.  And run them down I did...if my memory serves me right I passed six other runners during this closing section.

(This is one of the few race photos
where I don't look like "Dead Man" running) 

Crossing any finish line is an outstanding high, and seeing a PR on the timing board makes it all that more special.  Finishing this race I could not wait to get some fluids in me, a quick bite to eat and then see George as he crossed the finish line to thank him for pacing us so well.  After the glow of the PR began to wear off the pain set in.  But I will say that yes I was beat, yes I was tired and yes I was limping around a bit but overall I felt "alive" vs the walking dead of last year.  I limped around at the finish area for awhile to see some of George's friends finish, people I've seen at races but never really knew.  It was fun to chat with them about the day and to enjoy the finish as a community.

Then I got cold...  Seeming out of nowhere I got the chills.  And that brought on an over whelming desire to get out of the wet clothes I had been running in for nearly six hours.  I manged to say my goodbyes, thank George once again and hobbled my way to my car...a good quarter mile away.  The question then became, I ran 31 miles but could I "Zombie Walk" another .25 miles.

With a quick change of clothes and the car heater on HIGH I sat there and downed my favorite post race drink "a Yoo-hoo."  Once the sugar levels returned to my brain I proceeded to txt my wife and friends about my PR.  Next I popped open my Twitter account and posted a PR tweet.  The power of social media can not be over estimated...many times during the day I thought about how much I wanted to let my on-line friends know that I met my goal.  The same friends who encouraged me, supported me and allow me to live thu them as they met their personal goals.  For all the bad the internet can offer...not enough is said about the good! #runchat #marathon #ultrachat

(50k, before)

(50k, after)

This was a great race and I look forward to running it again.  If anyone is thinking about a first 50k...I would highly recommend this race.  On the day, I learned a lot about pacing...and although at first I thought the run/walk plan may be to slow, I'm convinced of it merits.  As with a marathon, you can't win the race, or set a PR in the first few miles, but you sure can lose them.  


The Official Results, as posted by The Tidewaters Striders, "PR Baby" 50k in 5:54:02


A lot of the folks I met this weekend had run multiple Ultras, 50 Milers and 100 Miler Races.  Up to this point I can't get my mind around a 100 mile race/run, but I'm going to try and get into the JFK 50 miler and see where this takes me.  I asked my wife why do I do this....her reply was You're Crazy.  I love her!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Movie marathons

What “Movie” Marathon would you like to run?

1.  The Land of Oz Marathon:

Dorothy and Toto may have had a hard time battling the Wicked Witch with her flying monkeys but this marathon offers 26.2 miles of challenges that are out of this world.  First off, the corralling run is run by the Munchkins and requires everyone to sing and dance prior to race start.  And if that is not enough of a challenge to get you off your game just imagine following a pace group led by the Scarecrow, a Tinman and the ever Cowardly Lion.  Pretty sure a PR would be out of the question…for this race.  No matter how fast your opening miles would be a nap in the poppy fields is sure to throw you off your goal pace.  For all of the challenges offered during the race itself you would have no excuse if you got lost, just follow the yellow brick road.  On the plus side the Oz marathon is sure to have a one of a kind finisher’s medal styled after the horse of many colors.  It’s not Kansas, Dorothy, it’s The Land of Oz Marathon.

2.  Death Star Marathon:

This marathon was first run a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away and yet it is a favorite of runners all over the Galactic Empire.  This flat and fast course is a favorite Boston qualifier and has been a place where Galaxy Records are set, going all the way back to the first winner, the famous small green runner named, Yoda.  The course has changed over the years but it’s always a challenge, and “fast” whether run thru a desert, some lush green forests or across the landing deck in front of the Millennium Falcon.  One constant year after year is the high quality runner’s swag.  This year entrants recieve a cool high tech t-shirt and a finishers medal made of Carbonite that commemorates Han Solo, the one time smuggler turned hero.

3.  Gotham City Marathon and Running Festival:

If running 26.2 miles while defending your favorite city from the grasps of evil doers is your idea of a great race, then this marathon is for you.  Starting at Gotham city hall, this marathon is a point to point run out to Wayne manor and finishes at the entrance to the Bat-Cave.  Note:  All registered runners need to sign a non-disclosure agreement prior to race start.  The Running Festival held at the conclusion of the marathon offers would be runners an insight into the latest advancements in running gear.  A runner looking to cut some time of his/her race could choose to visit the latest supplier of running shoes some featuring Bat-Boost.  Or runners can choose to up grade their race belt with one designed to hold all of your running gear as well as a Bat-Communication set up so you’re able to keep in touch with your family and control the placement of SWAT troops during the run.  As long as you don’t let the Joker keep you down, this is a great race.

With 2013 just about upon us, what Movie Marathon would you like to run and why?    

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Races I Must Run

Top Ten Races I wish I could Run…and I’m not talking about Boston.

1.  Surf and Santa 10Miler…I always seam to miss this one and my friends have so much fun running it. 

2.  Cherry Bloosm 10Miler…the draw of spring is enough for me.  

3.  HostessHalf Marathon…I’m not sure if this is a real race, but no matter I still want to eat the snacks, and run the 13.1 miles too. 
4.  Peach Tree Road Race…it seams there certain races you just have to run to consider your career complete and this is one of them.

5.  The JFK 50 Miler…I’m going to toss my hat in the lottery this year and see what happens, wish me luck.

6.  Hatfield and McCoy’sMarathon…This race just sounds like fun, but I ain’t touching the pig.
7.  The DisneyMarathons…the idea of running thu the park at nights sounds like a blast…and Goofy aint beating me.

8.  Bolder Boulder10k...I’m sure the mountain air will kill me, but the finish would be a rocky mountain high.

9.  Monument Ave10k..Okay I’ve run this once already…but it was so much fun it makes this list anyway. 

10.  London and or Rome Marathons, I may have missed my opportunities to run these but maybe one day I’ll get back over the pond.

Bonus:  Runners World Half Marathon and Running Festival...this looks and feels like the Runners Woodstock.

So there you have it my list of must do races…how do they stack up?