Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Distance Series 30k

Race #3 in Tidewater Striders Distance Series 2013

For a few weeks it sure felt like spring was in the air.  At this point on the calendar I had run more times in shorts then in appropriate gear for a Virginia winter.  The Groundhog and I may have even fooled myself into believing that winter weather was yet only a vision in our rearview mirror no matter what the calendar said.  Then late January, the second race in the distance series (a 25k race) got snowed out.  This short snap of cold and snow was just a fluke, right?  I was running in shorts again in no time.  With only the 30k race to go it looked good to get this event in without much weather fanfare…then in mid-February it started raining.

Race morning was wet and cool.   Although the temperatures did climb to 44 degree at race start, the rain never let up.

Sitting in my car prior to start, watching the rain beat down on my windshield, I just knew the day would be a mental battle as much as a physical test.  This race would also not only be a test of my physical preparation but also a mental challenge to prove if I was ready for the upcoming Shamrock Marathon.  Any early spring race on the east coast, could prove to have race conditions just as ugly weather wise, if not worse.

Held at Dismal Swamp State Park, the route would be a straight out and back (10k out and 10k back) with another shorter out and back along the original route for the final 10k (5k out and 5k back).  The official race distance of the day was 30k (18.6 miles).  My test on the other hand would be 20.6 miles at 9:00 per mile pace.
After sitting in my car for a good 45 minutes watching the rain come down and debating on whether to wear shorts or long pants, it was time to begin my battle with the open road and the elements.  I opened up with two miles planned/timed so that I would reach the starting line in “Americas Cup” sailing fashion.  These opening miles were run slower, off pace, to get my legs and lungs warmed up.  These opening miles would also tell me if I was going to have to put up with a recent stomach issue, (pulled/torn muscle or pinched nerve).
Mile 1 9:58 / Mile 2 9:43

Mile 3 9:13 / The opening half of the race went well.  In all honesty, after the first mile or so the rain was not a factor.  It rained all day, but since I was soaked to the bone, its effect was neutralized.  My original plan was to wear long pants, long sleeve shirt and jacket.  With the constant rain, I decided to go with a long sleeve shirt, jacket and shorts.  Although on the cool side I choose shorts over pants because I really did not want to drag around water logged running gear and the extra pounds that go with that.  I also wore a pair of gloves and a cap which kept the rain off my face a big plus on day like this.  At some point during this segment I felt a bit uncomfortable, like something was missing.  I ran another half mile when it hit me…I had forgotten to put on my knee strap.  Over the previous summer I had battled my way past some patellar tendonitis, and today my knee strap was still tucked in my gear bag.  Previously I had run a few training runs without said strap to see if my troubled knee had healed completely.  Today would be a real test; 20+ miles at goal pace…we would see what my knee had in store for me.
Mile 4 9:10 / Mile 5 9:02 / Mile 6 9:01 / Mile 7 8:59 / Mile 8 8:32
10k TURN
Mile 9 8:29 / At the midway point, everything was going well, my knee was not an issue, my recent stomach pain was not bugging me.  I was rolling right along; my only issue was that in an attempt to protect my GPS from the moisture I wrapped it up in a sandwich bag.  This made it very hard for me to monitor my pace, the GPS digits were so distorted by the extra layer of plastic that I could not tell if I was running a 0830 or 0930 pace.

Although I’m only really racing myself, it is still fun to stage little “racing “ battles with the other runners out on the course.  Race wise my plan is simple; run a negative spilt and pass more runners after the midway turn then pass me.  Today, I passed a good number of folks and felt pretty good about my standing, when it happened.  Somewhere around mile 13 I heard what no racer wants to hear. I heard footsteps and they were closing in.  Within seconds…two people caught me from behind and passed me.  I adjusted my pace and focused on keeping them within in sight until later in the race.  If anything this little race allowed me to focus back in on my pace and made the midpoint of the day a bit more interesting.
Mile 10 8:35 / Mile 11 8:38 / Mile 12 8:28 / Mile 13 8:30 / Mile 14 8:39

20k TURN
Mile 15 8:44 / The 10k out and back loops were pretty easy, the route is flat and fast.  At this point a felt pretty good had a good leg turn over going and was under no distress.  Mentally it was a little rough to begin another albeit shorter out and back along a straight and a bit of a boring course.
Mile 16 8:53 / Mile 17 8:49

25k TURN
Mile 18 8:44 / The final turn for home and I was ready for this race to be over with.  At this point yes, I was tired; yes, my legs were beginning to feel drained and yes, my fuel reserves were being used up.  But MOSTLY at this point I was just so tired of being wet.  My saturated running gear was stuck to me like an impromptu wet suit.  My cap was soaked, my gloves were soaked and my running shoes were making funny noises with every foot fall.  And OH, My choice to wear shorts was perfect, as wet as my clothes were I could not have imagined wearing a pair of soaked pants/tights.

Other than the two runners who passed me earlier, I had not been passed by anyone else.  I was feeling pretty good about a strong finish.  At the 25k turn the closer of the two runners was coming back to me.  Maybe it was their pace falling off of maybe it was my cadence picking up, whatever the factor I was able to reach and pass them.  But unfortunately that was all I could do, even thou I passed other runners in the closing miles I could not catch that one lone runner who soaked me at mile 13.  I wanted to catch him, but it was not meant to be.  With every surge to make up ground the distance between us remained the same.   
Mile 19 9:14 / Mile 20 9:07 / Mile 20.6 9:57

20 mile time: 3:04:23 30k time: 2:44:04 crossing that finish line I was so happy to be able to get out of that wet mess.  But even in my pressing desire to get out of there, somehow my legs made me walk to the snack table that was set up about 200 feet back down the course.  There they had pretzels, bagels and Krispy Kreme dounts.  Oh and that donut tasted so good.  Then on a rush of sugar my mind snapped me back to reality and my desire to get out of my wet gear.

The Tidewater Striders always put on a great event, this was my third running of the distance series and I will be back!

The Best News of the Day, I finished over all 3rd in my age group for the combined 20k/30k Distance Series Race.  Not too bad considering I ran 5.1 extra miles…."Happy Dance” like Snoopy Dawg!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Silly Running Questions

I've been running long distances for over 13 years.  

And one of my favorite parts within the running life style is encouraging newcomers and answering questions.  Most of the times the questions focus on; "How do I start running and what type of shoes do I need?"  But occasionally I've fielded some pretty strange questions from family, friends and co-workers.  And I've heard some pretty funny running statements.

Sometimes I'm quick enough to have a funny reply, other times I'm just stuck there with a dumb look on my face.  On this blog update I'll share a few of my favorites.

Funny Running Questions

Q.  Got any runs coming up?
A.  I'm a runner I always have a run coming up.

Q.  Don't things chaff, I mean in "Manland?"  
A.  Is that near Disney?  

Q.  Is running a marathon hard?
A.  Not really, heck I can do it, you should give it a try.

Q.  Have you ever won a race?
A.  No, but I haven't been last yet. 

Q.  Are you a real runner
A.  I'm real and I run...so Yes, I think so. 

Q.  How do you relieve yourself during a marathon...do you go on yourself?
A.  I just stare at them.

Up-date Q. What do you eat after a marathon?
A. Everything!

Funny Running Related Statements

A friend of mine ran a 3.1 mile marathon.

If I trained, I could run a marathon.

I only run when I've stole something.   (Mmmm, Remind me to not invite you over to my house.)

So what funny running related question or statements have you heard? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

2013 Big Plans

2013 A Year of BIG Running Plans

If all goes as planned, I stay motivated, the finances allow and the injury bug passes by my house, this should be a big running year.  Along with a good number of smaller local races, those under a half marathon, I have planned five BIG running events.

#1 My third Shamrock Marathon - I've run Shamrock in 2012, and 2010.  I've also run the Half in 2007.  This year I plan to make a PR push (4hr 10m) and would love if all goes well to run my first sub 4hr marathon.  The folks at J&A racing put on great events, and Shamrock is the "King pin" when it comes to running events in the Virginia Beach Area. 


#2 A fourth running of the 24 Hour Ultra Run for Cancer - I first ran this event in 2007 having no idea what I was doing or what I was getting myself into.  Some how I managed to run 52.5 miles that day and survived.  I think on the ride home I swore I would never do that to myself again.  Since that fateful day I've run it two other times, logging 50 and 75 miles.  This year I plan to try a slightly different approach, "How Fast to 50 miles."  The RD George puts on a great event and really cares for the cause and the runners, he is an Ultra runner himself.

#3 The Cleveland Marathon - I've never lived in Cleveland, not sure I would want to (way to cold) but the city and a sports team that wears the colors orange and seal brown play a special part in my life story.  So naturally there is a calling for me to run this event.  "Finishing in front of Cleveland Browns Stadium will be a special way to close out 26.2 miles.

#4 The Air Force Marathon - I gave my Country and The Air Force 20 years and in return I have been given all the tools for a great way of life.  I was stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB as my first duty assignment and other then running with the Squadron I did not take part in any local running events.  I look forward to logging some miles around my former assignment as well as revisiting all the aviation history that surrounds the course.  My marathon plans will be Aiming HIGH, with 26.2 miles to Fly Fight and WIN!

AND the JFK 50 Miler - Not sure I know what I'm getting myself into, but this race is calling my name. From the official website, "Although open to the public, the JFK 50 Mile is in spirit a military race. It always has been and always will be. In 1963, the initial inspiration behind the event came from then President John F. Kennedy challenging his military officers to meet the requirements that Teddy Roosevelt had set for his own military officers at the dawn of the 20th Century."  Being that I gave 20 years of my life to the US Military this seamed like a perfect 50 miler.

Your Prayers are welcomed and wish me luck...

What are your BIG Running Plans for 2013?


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Running and

Us runners, we love to talk and blog about running.

We love to brag (with good reason) about the distances we run.  And it's understandable, running 6, 13, 26 miles and the ultra runners who tackle 50 and 100 miles...well it's something worth bragging about.

We talk and dream about the races we run.  Boston, Chicago, NYC and the Disney races are all locations the world dreams of visiting.  But a runner who runs the streets,we see the city unlike anyone short of a resident.

But what else does our life include in pursuit of our running dreams?

I run and we camp.  Two years ago my wife and I decided to mix up our vacationing and purchased a truck camper.  And last year we put it to good use while running a number events on long weekends.  That's right camping is a perfect fit with my running life.  A weekend in the camper and a weekends running plans either racing or running some new trails fit like a glove.

(Our camping rig)
Our first camping/running trip was coordinated in conjunction with Richmond VA’s Monument Ave 10k.  This 10k race is one of the capstone running events around our area and we wanted to see what all the excitement was all about.  And there is not a better way then to throw in some camping on top of it.
Monument Ave in downtown Richmond is an out and back course.  For our base camp we selected Pocahontas State park on the southwest side of Richmond. Not only was the race a huge success but our first trip to a Virginia state park was not a disappointment.

(Perfect Setting)

A conservative run was what I had in mind.  I would have been happy with a 50 or 51 minute run and that plan was solid until…the gun went off and I got sucked into the hype.  I ran my best 10k in 10 years.  I crossed the finish line at 48 minute 49 seconds…and Michele speed walked her way in at 1 hour 30 minute and what a good experience we had. This was our first Monument Ave 10k and it won’t be the last.  A reported 41,000 people ran/walked or took part in this 10k and I did not witness a logistics issue (not that I could see)!

(After race camp fire)

You would think that after running a solid 6.2 miles on Saturday, I would be looking forward to a day off, but Sunday I just could not pass up the opportunity to explore the roads within the park.  Running the roads within the camp sites I was able to get in a good 7.5 miles with rolling hills.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Virginia is for Lovers 14k
A Valentines Day Race

Last year for whatever reason, I missed out running this race…a lot of my running "couples" friends ran this, and it bugged me for a full year that Michele and I missed out.  Once the registration opened “WE” decided we were not going to miss out this year.  Michele is a walker and it is great when we can participate in events together.  The 14k offered a near perfect distance for a challenging walk/run for the both of us.
(The couple that runs together..stays together)
Nearly as soon as we decided to run this event we also decided to stay the night in Va Beach, after all, it is Valentines Season.  Michele and I left work and headed for the expo, foregoing dinner until after we got to our room.  The Virginia is for Lovers 14k expo was kind of small but adequate and housed in a local sports complex.  Picking up our race packs went off without a hitch and everyone was very helpful.  Our pre-race meal was a Pizza and I’ll tell ya since we delayed our dinner time, we put a serious killing on that pizza!
(We thought that this was the most perfect pizza, yummy)
Pre-race for me offered up two pleasant surprises. The First, I would be starting in corral #1 (did I miss type my projected finish time?), I never start up front.  And second, the finish was indoors…finishing on a soccer field equipped with field turf.  Finishing indoors with the weather forecasted for race day (40’s with a 20 to 30 mph gusting winds) made me very happy for a warm finish.

Race morning was cold and crisp, with bright skies and a gusting wind.  When we arrived at the race site Michele and I settled in and awaited on our starting time.  I like getting on location at least an hour early.  This drives my bride crazy, but today we were not the early birds as the parking area was already pretty full.  Part of our plan was to meet up with a friend (Jill) from our housing area who was also running the race.  I went about texting Jill that we were on site and waiting her arrival.  She replied back that she had also arrived, looking up from my phone, I found Jill standing right in front of my car.  Totally random and with zero coordination she some how managed to park right next to us.

Some how in the excitement of race start…I forgot I was starting in corral #1 and lined up mid-pack in corral #2.  The start of the race went off with each corral having it’s own starting time approx. 3 minutes apart.  As corral #1 ran away from us the Race Director offered a challenge for corral #2 runners to catch up with corral #1.  Well I could not let that challenge go.  Michele would start with Corral #4.

As the starting gun for my corral went off (the wrong corral, mind you) I followed the pack trying to navigate the normal race crowds at the start.  A pass here, dodge there and I made my way into a good pace and in a good position where I did not have to work too hard navigating the pack.

Mile 1 / 8:35 – With what I thought was a slow start, I was very surprised when I looked at my GPS and saw I was right on my goal pace of 8:30.  I was even more surprised how easy this pace felt.  Over the last month of marathon training I really felt like I had picked up an extra gear and today the pace was feeling effortless, but it was early.

Mile 2 / 8:12
Mile 3 / 8:07

(Getting some "Air Time," towards the end of the race,
my stride reverted back to a heel strike, boooo)

Mile 4 / 7:57 -  This race being at a “weird” distance, all my normal race day math was taking a hit.  I was running well; I was able to keep up the pace; and my foot fall felt better yet.  I was making my way through the pack with little extra effort but my race day math was taking a beating…I had a hard time trying to figure out my negative split times.  There are two things I fear worse then death…#1 doing math in public and #2 trying to do math while running in public.

It was somewhere between mile 4 and 5 miles when I realized I had ran my way right into the middle of corral #1.  I reasoned I was either a very fast corral #2 runner or these were very slow corral #1 people.  No matter what I had met the Race Directors challenge.

Mile 5 / 7:56 – With my inability to do math on the run the only way I could figure out how to run a negative race split was to keep running faster.

Mile 6 / 7:51
Mile 7 / 7:58

Mile 8 / 8:09 – Mile 8 was by far the toughest and not just because it was the last mile.  This section of the course had multiple switchbacks which had us fighting the wind head on for what felt like forever.  By this time the conditions were brutal, it was cold and the winds were heavy.  There comes a time in every race where I just want to be done and today this was it.  I was so sick of the wind, the cold, and the turns that I only wanted to finish inside the nice warm field house and get my "finishers medal!

Finish Distance 14k (8.69 miles)

My Finish Time: 1h 10m 06s
My Avg Pace: 8:04

Michele’s Finish Time: 1h 53m 0s
Michele’s Avg. Pace: 13:04

After I had finished, I collected up my medal, some gatorade, two bags of pretzels and headed back outside to see if I could find Jill and “My Special Valentine Walker” Michele.  If I was cold before….the chill really sank into my bones when I stepped back out into that wind.

It was not long before Jill ran by, she looked like she was running well and would be happy with her finish.  After spotting Jill I walked to a point where I could see multiple sections of the switchbacks and began looking for my honey.  I stood in the wind and cold for about a half hour when I spotted that familiar power walking stride.  I worked my way out on the course so I could “walk” in with my Valentine…and to be honest I could not keep up.  I had to divert to a slow run to pace with her.
 (My Wonderful Valentine Michele)
The Virginia is for Lovers 14k was a fun race, well thought out, well planned and one we will do again.  The organizers at  J&A Racing, Virginia Beach put on a great event…now they just need to work on the wind.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Motivation part II

The Fall of the Modern Day Sport Hero...part II

(Charles Barkley, "I'm no role model")

Growing up, sports heroes are for the most part the first real role models (outside of the home) most of us identify with.  When we were young we saw only their successes on the field, track or on the court.  Then one day a news headline catches our eye.  Kobe did what? Big Ben forced who?  Barry took what?  Then the house of cards falls to the ground.

Fortunately where the sensational national headlines leave us in shock, the under the radar local triumphs can lift you up.

and - These guys are two of my running buddies...except they are much faster then me.  I'm the type of runner who trains by how I feel, I don't stick to a plan very well.  These guys live the plan and run the plan and both have improved as runners over the last year.  I wish I could be more of the plan type.

- Nathan is becoming a 50k trail running machine.  I remember reading his first 50k race report and now he has run three.  He also posts some wonderful race day pictures.  You can follow his running exploits here.  And if you need some tips on coffee drinking and high tech, he is your man.  His race reports are ALWAYS a good read.

- If you find motivation thu laughter...this is the runner and site for you.  Some of his posts put a smile on my face and a chuckle in my heart.  And Adam has collected a great photo gallery of pictures with the elite runners. (just a bit jealous here)  Adam claims his only goal is to "stay in shape to keep up with his toddler son," but I'm pretty sure it is to keep us all entertained in the process.  You can follow and laugh along on his blog.

- Another of the local 757 runners, I hope to meet one day.  Although... I have gotten to say "Hi" as she zipped past me at a local distance series race..."Hey Hollie...it's me that twitter guy."  Not only can this girl run, and run fast but she loves coffee and pancake/waffles.  If that is not a good enough reason to read her blog, then watching her battle back from an un-running related cyst injury over the last year is.  You can follow Hollie as she runs here.

- Rob is a local pastor and "occasional" runner, who has completed two half marathons all while hating the act of running.  Rob's goal with life and his running is to make you think and laugh.   He is pretty random and his life is an open book. Whether it’s Mind Dumps, Movie Reviews, thoughts about God, or stories about his family, one thing is for sure. Each post will be transparent thoughts from a random pastor.  You can follow his random running and transparent life on his blog.

So that is it....where our national heroes have let us down, the local runners have stepped in.  These people battle with real life issues, they battle to pay the bills, they battle to find the time and in some cases desire to run.  But in the end, their lives, posts and success are inspiring.  I have found motivation to run, run longer, run stronger and run quicker.


Thursday, February 7, 2013


The Fall of the Modern Day Sport Hero...

Growing up, Richard Petty (NASCAR), was the first sports hero I remember looking up to.  After that came a long line of modern sports hero who motivated me to push forward, whether during a pick up game of football or jumping bikes from dirt ramps.  There was Mike Phipps (The reason I'm a Cleveland Browns Fan), Evel Kenievel (Stunt Rider), Mary Decker, Bruce Jenner, the U.S. Hockey team (Olympians), and a long list of other Browns players.  Even as an adult, "the sports hero" although no longer a role model still provides motivation.  When my son was in little league, we both watched in wonder as Mark Mcquire began his home run streak, and then there was Lance Armstrong.

Enough has been said, written and blogged about doping.  I'm not going to rehash all the issues, I'm moving on from all that, but all the hype around "the fall" made me appreciate the struggles and triumphs of the local athletes.  With the birth/spread of blogs and social media I've been able to find motivation in fellow runners.

Steve Speirs aka @britishbulldog - Steve is one of the top male runners in his age group within the Virginia Beach running circles.  The first time I saw him at a race, I remember he was already on the come back loop before I hit the turn point, and by the way he was moving, it looked like he had alot left in the tank.  Steve is also the founder of the 100 Push-Up craze.  You can check out his blog here and the 100 Push-up site here.

Kris Lawrence aka @kris_law - Kris is another of the elite runners in the 757, I've never met her but via social media we have interacted and although an aspiring Olympian she always has time to answer my novice running questions.  Her goal is to drop ten minutes off her current marathon PR and qualify for the U.S. Olympic marathon team.  You can follow her Olympic dreams here.

Lisa Gonzales aka @runlikeacoyote - I've been a follower of Lisa's on Twitter for over a year and in that short time I have to admit, she inspires me and I'm jealous.  Lisa's has completely reshaped her life, she runs some of the coolest Ultra/Marathon races, she travels to many races I can only dream of running.  She runs and bikes to work daily and is racking up the yearly miles that Dean Karnases would be proud of.  BUT, on her 40th birthday weighing nearly 300 pounds, she decided to change some things.  And she hasn't looked back running 8 1/2 marathon, five marathons, two 50Ks, and one 12HR.  She is currently training for her first 100 miler.  You can follow Lisa as she runs like a coyote on her blog.

Ashley Ringo Walsh aka @ashruns100s - I've never met Ashley, tweeted her a few times and from her blog I can tell she would be fun to run with, if I could hang.  She describes herself as a East Coast trail runner, who has finished lots of ultras, (100 miles three times) and who plans to race that distance and further many more.  Ashley says, she runs because she loves it, she loves to feel pain, because it makes her feel alive.   But getting to this point has not been easy, Ashley has over come a early childhood accident and a few miss steps along the way. You can follow Ashley as she runs 100s and awesome trails here.

Krysten Siba Bishop aka @darwinianfail - Krysten's story is as she describes a long and complicated story, but the abridged version is that she was diagnosed with a rare arrhythmia and a family threat of breast cancer.  With all that Krysten has battled thru and still has a positive attitude and is committed to being the best she can be including running...she inspires me to capitalize on the gifts I've been given.  To quote Krysten,  "Fitness is also defined by adaptability, perseverance, and strength – and this is the definition I want used to define me."   You can follow her as battles her "Darwinian Fail" on her blog.

The headlines outline the fall of our national heroes, but locally you'll find inspiration in the local athlete.  The have jobs just like you, they tend to their kids just like you and many have over come challenges just like you.  And I've found that they are much more willing to help you reach your goals.

Part 2, coming soon.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

WOW Wednesday

Back from a little vacation and look what showed up in my mail box!

Thanks Dean!