Archive for the ‘Races’ Category

The Beginning of 2015…

Posted: December 27, 2015 by Roberts in 2015 Tour, General Post, Races
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Be good,
Learn something new,
And be awesome!

These are the words I recite to my kids every day before they leave for school. Hard words to live up to, yet we keep trying. Having failed on many occasions to live up to this, I went into 2015 with the goal of having an awesome year. Epic even. As with all challenges, it doesn’t start on day one. It starts days, even weeks, before the countdown begins.

During the summer, my kids stay with my parents for a month. It gives them the chance to enjoy swimming every day, rodeos and dude ranches with my parents. It also gives myself and my wife, Lauren, a break from them. We live in Virginia and my parents live in Texas. The past few summers, we’ve done what we jokingly refer to as the “prisoner exchange” in Tennessee. After handing the kids off to my parents in early July 2014, we stayed a night in Knoxville. There in the hotel room, as I surfed the internet on my laptop, the seeds of 2015 began to sprout.

It started with the idea to go after the Rock & Roll Gold Medal Heavy Medal award, which requires you to run ten of their events in a calendar year. The amount of travel involved would be significant, but with some careful planning, it could be possible. I’ve lived in several cities on the East Coast over the years, so many of the races would not only be within a reasonable driving distance, but more than likely I could crash on a friend’s couch in many, if not all, of the cities. Some I would travel to solo, for others Lauren could join me, and for a few the entire family could come. Looking over the tour stops, I plotted out 10.

It looked simple and easy on a computer screen. Four of the races would be full marathons, and the remaining ones would be halves. Right then and there I went online and signed up for their 2015 Tour Pass, then started registering for the races. While on the site, I realized that many of the tour stops hosted multiple races on the same weekend. Since it didn’t cost me anything more, I decided that I might as well sign up for those, too.

2015 was being planned and 2014 wasn’t even finished yet; there were still 5 months to go. I still had the Rock & Roll Las Vegas Marathon ahead of me that November, and I was already plotting out my training plans for 2015. Over the course of the next three months, I added other, non-Rock N Roll series, races to the schedule for 2015, races that I’ve done a couple times, that were local or were fun trips for the family. Over the next few weeks, friends started asking me if I could join them on their first races. Before the Vegas race, 2015 was shaping up to be a busy, epic year, but still doable.

However, nothing goes according to plain. A simple misstep can cause a cascade of issues. And so my first obstacle for 2015 appeared the Tuesday before the race weekend in Vegas, in November 2014. It was my final training run before heading out west, and suddenly, a single crack in the sidewalk had me crumbling to the ground less than a mile from my home. Trying to stand, it was evident that this was more than just a stubbed toe or sore ankle. As I limped home, pushing the fear of what this could mean from my mind, the pain steadily increased.

I took all the needed measures to fight the sprain I knew I had. Ice, compression, elevation, everything in my arsenal was thrown at the injury. The ankle fought back and changed from a light red, to a rose, to a purple. Through consultation of friends and experts it seemed unlikely I could do this run, and if I did, that I might do serious injury to myself. The only person I did not consult was my doctor, for fear she would say, “don’t race.”

The tickets and room were already purchased, so I was going to Vegas either way. There we would meet up with a couple old friends and enjoy the town. Still hoping I could run it, I brought all my gear. To make the flight doable, I wore my compression sock to prevent as much pooling of blood as possible. On the plane, the seat next to me looked like it was going to remain open. As a 6’3” man sitting in the middle seat, this was a present from fate that would give me the gift of room to stretch. As we waited for the door to close, one last man boarded. He wore an air cast and limped to his seat… The aisle seat next to me. Alas, leg room was not my destiny that day.

As you do on a long flight, he and I started talking. We covered the basics. Personal or business. Home or traveling. Looking at the air cast I had to ask. He then began to weave the tale of the sprained ankle he had acquired while completing a Spartan Race. This Spartan had hurt himself, had never gotten his injury looked at, and continued to race other events. The previous Christmas Day, while returning home from a hike with his family, he had reinjured himself. After consulting with the doctor, he had discovered that he needed surgery. Now he was now almost a year into his recovery, still wearing the air cast. Was the universe trying to tell me something? Perhaps, but if it was, it fell on deaf ears.

While visiting the Health Expo, we met up with several friends from college who were in town for the race, as well as a fellow “Runner 5,” a player of the running app Zombies, Run! Walking around the massive event in Sin City, I decided to commit my own sin. I would run the races. All I needed was a plan.

That day it was decided. A decision was only the first step, though, the real question was how to accomplish it. My plan was to prepare the ankle by limiting its movement, and then test it. After using tape, a wrap, and a compression sock, my foot was effectually locked down. What better way to test an injured ankle than in a 5k race? During the race I tested it at various speeds to determine what it could handle. The answer, a 34:30 5k pace. My worst 5k to date, but it was passable. The ankle gave me no issues. After consulting friends, the next stage of the plan was decided. Begin running the marathon, and at mile 10, the half split, if the ankle was angry, turn left and bring it home. If not, continue to go forth and be awesome.

Under the bright lights of Vegas, I ran through the dark. I ran and I pushed myself. At the split, with excitement in my heart, I decided that it was moments like this that define you. So at the split, I turned right. The second half of the race is all desert, wide open space. The only bright lights were on the horizon, and I pushed toward them. At the various switch backs, I could see the sag bus. But it wasn’t going to be for me that day. Keep pushing, I told myself. However, the pain in my ankle was slowly increasing.

With my slower than usual pace, I would be on my feet longer. It was no longer a race for time, but a race against time. One of three things would happen. The sag bus would pick me up and I wouldn’t finish, my ankle would give out and the medics would take me in and I wouldn’t finish, or I would finish.

Passing the 4:45 pacer, I asked her if she was on pace, which would mean that I had caught up. She informed me that no, she had fallen behind her assigned pace as she simply walked along. Still not a single step walked, I pushed myself. Finally, after what seemed like forever, I turned the corner back onto the strip. I had less than a mile to go. I caught up to a woman and in a pained voice she asked me, “Am I too late, will I still get my medal?” I knew we were past the five hour cut off time, but I also knew the sag bus hadn’t caught up to us. Turning to her, all I could muster was, “run with me, and we will make it.” So we ran, or maybe it was more of a waddle… either way, we worked to close the distance.

As we closed in on the finish line, they were already starting the dismantling process. Finally, we crossed the finish and I reached for the medal. Clasping the cold metal between my fingers, I stumbled through the finish corral looking for my friends and my wife. I had done it. It wasn’t my first marathon, but it was the hardest I had run up to that point. My ankle had survived. If it could survive that weekend, I would survive 2015. Or so I thought. Three races still remained for 2014, let alone the impending 2015 tour.

For those of you who read my last post, in the comments you may have noticed that someone offered to put together a team for the Army Ten-Miler.  Since he is in the reserves, he gets to register two weeks before the general public.  What does that mean? I can’t “forget” to register in time.  I never realized that there are so many races in Washington, DC, which is a city I love.  I believe everyone has a city, one that fits them and is a reflection of their inner self.  So why is it DC for me?  It is a very different city than most large US metropolises.  Its layout and city planning are very open.  In 1910 a law was passed to limit the height of newly constructed buildings.  What this creates is a city that is open to the sky.  Add to that the Roman architecture, and you get a sense of the culture and history.  There are places like Rock Creek Park, which is like a piece of nature cutting deep into the heart of the city.  Numerous memorials and monuments litter the city, each with their own history and story.  I could go on and on about DC.  However, I will not.  I’ll save that for another post, perhaps.  For now, let’s get back to the Army Ten-Miler (ATM).

So a reader and contributor offered to put together a team.  Now we just need runners.  I have started the process to reach out and recruit for this team.  After reading up on the race, I learned that if you don’t cross the five mile marker by 9:45 AM they end your race.  At first I thought the race started at 9 AM.  That would mean you need to run a 9’00” pace.  Not bad, faster than me, but not bad.  Then it hit me; that only works if you are in the first wave.  There is no way I could make that!  I took a deep breath.  I had agreed to do it, so it meant I would just need to train harder.  Before I let panic mode set in, I decided to look up that race start time.  Turns out that it starts at 8:00 AM.  I can do that.  I’m ready for that run.  Now with that out of the way, on to my Easter run.

I woke up this morning and the Easter Bunny had given each of my kids, my wife and me each a basket full of treats.  Ah, the Easter Bunny, you deliver to me once of my vices, the jelly bean.  Or rather, a large quantity of jelly beans.  It is only fitting that I had planned to run ten miles on Easter.  It is the best way to burn off the calories that would surely be consumed in jelly bean form.  Did I mention that I love jelly beans?

These are my Jelly Belly jelly beans, and you ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I normally bring hydration with me for any run ten miles or longer.  I also bring with me a snack, PowerBar Energy Blasts.  Unfortunately, I am out of energy blasts.  Instead, I opened a pack of PowerBar Energy Bites.  Not quite the same thing, not even close.  They are too dry to eat while running, so they are only good for a pre-run bite.  Therefore, I have decided to sign up for a monthly delivery of Energy Blasts through Amazon.com to make sure this oversight doesn’t happen again.

This is also my first planned long run since my sprain.  It has been more than a few months since I needed my hydration bottles, and now they are missing.  I knew this would make for an interesting run.  On top of that, this run would be along the same path I took on the day I sprained my ankle. It sounds like a bad sequel, “Rural Run 2: This time, no hydration or snacks.”  If I had brought jelly beans as my snack, it would have seemed somehow wrong.  So off I went with nothing but the one small 6 ounce bottle of Gatorade I could find and an iPod.

When I left the house, I was already tired from two hours of walking around the zoo with the family this morning.  The first three miles of the run were rough.  Out the door I already had a headache, and my right knee, right shin, and left ankle were all screaming at me.  No matter the pain, I always give my run at least two miles to let the joints lube up and get the juices flowing.  By mile two, it still wasn’t feeling good.  I decided to give it another mile, just one more.  By mile three, no pain… only the road.  The run itself was uneventful until the run back.  On mile seven I encountered another runner – human this time.  She was ahead of me at one point.  Her pace was similar to mine.  I pushed to catch up in order to have a companion on the lonely road.  Sadly, she turned in a different direction than my intended route.  So then I was alone once again.  It had been good to see another runner.  I hadn’t felt so crazy to be out there in the middle of nowhere.

By mile eight I was approaching the place where I had sprained my ankle.  Not this time.  I watched each footfall to make sure they landed securely.  I noticed the size of the potholes in the area.  No wonder I had sprained my ankle!

As I said, the run was uneventful.  The most important part was that I completed it.  This is the longest run I have done since the sprain, with an OK pace of 11’20.”  Not the greatest, but good enough.  The true test will be tomorrow morning.  By then my ankle will tell me how good of a run it truly was.

Question:

What do you take on long runs?

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A Threesome…And a Good Duck

Posted: April 1, 2012 by Roberts in Races, Running Log
Tags: , , , , ,

Scandalous!  If you have been following, today was my second 5k and the tail end of the third week of my marathon training.  Let’s take a look at how the day unfolded.

6 AM: 2 Miles

To start the day of a race, I have been advised in the past to do a 2 mile warm up run.  When I woke up I wasn’t hungry, only dehydrated.  I decided to have a drink and head out.  Since the temperature had dropped to thirty I decided to wear my winter running pants.  The run and the pants warmed those legs right up.  As you can imagine, on cold Sunday morning the roads were empty.  I ran to Tron: Legacy again.  Since my pace on Saturday went well with it, I thought maybe there was something to the album.  I was a little worried about the Chipotle burrito.  By the half-way point my body reminded me I was carrying the extra 2 pounds of spicy meat and salsa.  I decided I needed to end the run before I vomited in my mouth.  I know, gross.  I pushed harder and shaved twenty seconds off the last mile.  In the end, my pace was five seconds off Saturday’s pace.  Considering I was a burrito-laden, breakfast-free, dehydrated, tired runner I am proud of only losing five seconds on a warm up run.  Time for the race.

9 AM: 3.1 Miles

When leaving for my race this morning, my wife and daughter both wished me good luck.  My not quite three year old son, who is into rhyming right now, said, “Good Duck.”  He thought he was the funniest person in the world.  My wife and daughter followed suit.  After numerous “Good Ducks” I was out the door for my race.

The Run Like A Fool 5k for the Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic was a much smaller 5k than the Shamrock 5k in Baltimore.  A one hundred person race is far different than a five thousand person race.  A couple things clued me in.  There was no signage along the route save one turn with six traffic cones.  At the turns volunteers and campus police directed the runners with no dividers.  There were, however, more water stations than at the larger event.  The starting and finishing lines (same place) were not well marked; it was just where some staffers stood with a watch.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  I think I was just spoiled by the Shamrock run being my first.  The race and staff were fantastic, and I will most likely do that run next year as well.  It is their second time running the event, and obviously do not have the budget for a large scale run.  The volunteers had great energy and enthusiasm.  I must have been ten years north of the median age of the other runners.  Why is that important?  I was pretty much guaranteed to win my age group!  Since it is such a small event, there were no prizes for the age groups, but it makes me feel good to say I won my age group.  I am glad six people from my office joined the run.  We all wore matching company running shirts.  It looked impressive.

The race started on a track.  Looking back at it now, I don’t think I have ever run on a track other than gym class (I think I pretty much walked it then).  Three of my coworkers bolted out at the start.  Without realizing my pace I kept up with them for the lap of the track.  Reviewing my run data, I was running a 6’47’ pace.  Good duck, indeed!  For me, that is a tremendous pace, and to maintain it for a quarter mile is fantastic.  After the track I knew I could not keep up that speed without burning out.  My goal was south of 10 minutes.  Stick to the goal, and don’t over exert.  Slowly, some other runners started to pass me.  Soon it would be my turn to pass them.

After a parking lot and a long driveway, the race entered the open road.  It moved through a neighborhood.  Just past the first mile, I started noticing people coming back in the opposite direction.  Shortly after that, members of my team were passing me heading back.  We high-fived as we passed each other.  At times the solo sport can be a team effort.  By this point, due to the low number of runners overall, everyone had more than enough space.  In fact, at some points I felt I was on a solo run.

Eventually, on my return lap I approached the walkers who were still on the first half of the race…They were walking after all.  Not just walkers, walkers with dogs…little toy dogs, some of which were yorkies.  In the last mile I started passing people.  Several people had gone from running to jogging to walking.  One person, whom I will now call Captain 170, was one such person.  Captain 170 did not like being passed by me.  The first time I passed him he was walking.  He then picked up the pace and passed me, and then started walking when he was around the next bend.  He repeated this process two more times.  The last time I passed him he couldn’t pass me right away, not until the final hill.  He caught up and nudged his way past me.  We entered a narrow sidewalk where I could not pass unless I entered the street on the other side of the guard rail.  You do what you have to do.  Once on the street I started to catch him again.  We entered the final parking lot.  Cones were placed to guide you to run around the entire lot.  He chose to cut across the lot while onlookers and staffers kept pointing and yelling at him.  The shortcut gave him too much of a distance to fully close by the end.  Through the last stretch, he kept looking over his shoulder to see how close I was.  How do I know he was looking for me?  The closest person behind me was at least a tenth of a mile.  It didn’t matter to me so much; I found it funny that this college kid found it so important not to be passed by me.

I finished out the 5k with a new PR of 29’19”.  The last 5k I ran was completed in 31’33”.  Almost a full 2 minute drop!  I can live with that.  The goal for next time is below 29 minutes.

4:30 PM: 5 Miles

According to my training schedule I needed to run 10 miles today.  Of course, Nike meant a single 10 mile run.  So instead, I needed to have another run to make up the difference.  I have never attempted a threesome of runs in a single day.  I entered the run already tired.  I didn’t care about the pace, it didn’t matter.  All I needed to do was finish up the distance.  I decided to listen to a funny podcast and hit the road.  A Sunday afternoon is very different than a Sunday morning.  The streets were filled with people enjoying the day.  There were groups of children on bikes, a man creating a dust storm with a snow blower, ten year-olds playing shuffle board, and three roving bands of three teenage girls each.

One kid on a scooter raced towards me and asked me why I was running.  That is the age old question often asked of runners, myself included.  No, I don’t have an answer for you.  I used to ask myself that question, and there has never been an answer that worked.  So I have stopped asking it of myself.  Why do I need it answered?

That completes the third week of marathon training.  “Good Duck” with your running this week!

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Question:

What is the most number of runs you have done in a single day?

I have completed my first week of marathon training. How many times have I said that? Three to be precise.  Or rather, this is my third attempt. Third time’s the charm right? It seems injury always finds me during a marathon training schedule. The first injury was a busted rib, and the second an ankle.  Well, the past is behind me and nothing but the road is ahead.

Maybe I should trick myself. I am not training for a marathon. I am training for two half marathons back to back with no break. It would be very sad if I could trick myself that way.

During this week I had scheduled three treadmill sessions (interval training) and an outdoor run of eight miles. Not only did I accomplish that, I added an extra treadmill session. I just had to see one more episode of Game of Thrones. We all need our little inspirations.

My pace on the outdoor run was less than spectacular. No excuses, I will take the fact that I got out there as a mild success and do better next time. That just sounds pathetic.  I got out there, I got it done.  On a Sunday night there isn’t much to see on the road.

I had two encounters on my run.  The first was a squad car. She paced me down a dark road, and turned away when I returned to the lite section of the neighborhood. I don’t know if she was bored, or wanted to provide me some extra light for my evening run. It was that, or she thought I was cute, or maybe worried that I might get mugged.  The other interesting sight was a young couple I passed on three occasions.  By the third time they finally acknowledged me.  It doesn’t matter.  They were too busy walking down the street, each keeping a hand warm in the others back pocket.  Strange events are the norm for my runs; every now and then I need an uneventful one.

I have decided to sponsor, or rather trick, my office into a 5k race on April 1st. I convinced three other people to join me.  We are attending the Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic “Run like a Fool” 5k.  It is a small race, but I have the bug and I need to get out there again.

Remember to like my page on Facebook.

Finally, I have two questions for you:

What is the craziest thing you have seen while running?

What do you do to entertain yourself on the treadmill?

I’m back!  Where have I been?  As many of you know, I sprained my ankle at the end of last year.  It did a number on me, both physically and mentally.  The road kept calling out to me, however, I was too worried about damaging my ankle further.  That and [insert any number of useless excuses here] I became couch bound.

I have spent the past couple weeks working on the treadmill.  I could have logged each of the sessions, but what would I write about?  The shows I am watching while acting like a gerbil (BSG, Game of Thrones)?  Should I write about the exposed rafters in my basement, or maybe that strange cobweb in the corner?

Obviously I had nothing interesting to write about.  Well now, not so much.  Last Thursday I was working on the treadmill.  Halfway through my run, and episode of BSG, my arm hit the kill cord, shutting the machine down.   Standing there, my heart pounding and frustrated, all I could think was, “1.75 miles isn’t enough.  I am not going out like that.”  I grabbed my IPod and headed out the door to finish out another 2 miles.

Something strange happened on the run.  I couldn’t stop.  I just kept running.  Each driveway I passed, and every turn made I got further and further from home.  As I moved along I kept saying, one more corner, or one more hill.  I looked down and my watch said…4.5 miles!   It was almost ten o’clock, it was time to head home and I still needed to run back.  By the end I logged 9.11 miles, from a run I took outside on a whim.  The ankle wasn’t an issue anymore, and neither was my mental block.  Time to do it again.

Thursday night I was on top of the world, and on Friday morning I suffered for it.

Sunday was my first 5k race.  I attended the Kelly St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock 5k in Baltimore, Maryland (Bib #3795).  I went with a good friend of mine, Michael, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend.  It was a fantastic event and a fantastic experience.  The energy of five thousand people in a sea of green, all ready to push themselves and accomplish something that many people think is unimaginable.

The skill level of the runners varied so much.  Watching that many people crammed in such a small area pushing their way forward was very interesting.  The first couple seconds can only be compared to cattle moving along for the slaughter.  The most you could do was jog in place.  After the first minute of dodging people, weaving through the crowd, and avoiding the runners flailing their arms, I found my place.  The first mile had slight downhill slope; a great way to start the run.

About half a mile in, Michael tried to cut around the crowd down the sidewalk.  Much to his surprise, a women in a wheelchair cut out from the spectators out in front of him, and he cleared her.  Yes, he jumped OVER the old lady.  Ok, maybe it wasn’t a full vault, only a partial.  From my angle it was hard to tell.  Either way, laughing while running hurts.  She seemed fine and only a little shocked from the experience.

Now, to say that was the only strange sight would be a lie.  I watched as a man tried to squeeze between another runner and a pole.  The pole won.  One kid kept bolting past me, stopping, and bolting again.  There were a number of green hats, funny glasses, and strange head gear.  It was not the most serious of races, the perfect kind to start you racing experience with.

The most interesting sight was the end.  After passing over the finish line, you could pick up granola bars, water, bananas, and beer.  Yes, beer.  Nothing like running a few miles and ending it with a beer.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and keep on running!

All Registered

Posted: October 16, 2011 by Roberts in Race Information, Races
Tags: , ,

I have registered for my first race.  I am a little nervous, not about the distance just about the fact I have never done a race before.  I choose a charity race, Race for the Hungry Holiday 5K.  I figure it will have many amateurs and fewer pros.  Who knows?  If you are in the Burlington, New Jersey area come on out for a worthy cause.

Registration Information: Food Bank 5K Brochure (PDF)