Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Groupons and Hurricanes

Lesson Learned While Running #2: Horseshoes and Groupons: Never decide to run a 5K because you found a cheap entry fee from a Groupon. On Saturday, August 20, 2011 I ran with the girlfriend along with some of her friends and family what turned out to be the Be Great 4K (5K) in Quiet Waters Park (Annapolis, MD) because of a last minute Groupon deal.  Unfortunately because we runners are frugal, the race directors were unprepared for the amount of people who registered. As a result, the common race day staple amenities such as safety pins for bibs, volunteers at turn around points, or signs indicting the course were absent. The race director assured us that there was directional signage on the course; however the signs had been put in place the prior evening (before a storm hit Anne Arundel County) and were not checked on race day morning to see if they were functional. Thus much of the race’s front runners followed an incorrect route, including two course deviations where I went down the wrong trail, turned a planned 5K into a 4K. Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but at least it was half price.

Update: The Annapolis 10 Miler was canceled by Annapolis City Emergency Management due to Hurricane Irene.Check with the The Annapolis Striders for status of event and premiums (Thursday, August 25, 2011 3PM)

Rock You Like a Hurricane: Sunday, August 28, 2011 is the infamous Annapolis 10 Miler and the day that Hurricane Irene is supposed to hit the east coast. Race directors for the A-10 originally proclaimed that the race will continue as scheduled in rain, shine or hurricane but now conceded that if safety concerns arise the race will be canceled and most likely not rescheduled. Keep checking the Annapolis Strider’s website for more information leading up to the race. If it is not canceled, I will run rain or hurricane – it may make the Warrior Dash look like the Be Great 4K. I am so downloading some Scorpions to add to the playlist for Sunday. 

 You’re Welcome. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Ranch, King Tut and some GU

On Saturday, August 13, 2011 the girlfriend and I left Pasadena extremely early to head up to Carroll County for a 5K. We ran the River Valley Run 5K at The River Valley Ranch in Manchester located in Carroll County, Maryland. The ranch is a Christian summer camp with a Wild West theme and is complete with a very serene western town. Although the 10K trail run was the main event we decided to do the 5K which began in the woods on a groomed trail and then continued on paved country roads past buffalo and horses and through a covered bridge crossing over the Gunpowder Falls River. My fatal flaw in the race is not to double check my shoelaces as I was forced to stop and tie my shoe shortly after the half turnaround point. I ended up crossing the finish line at a chip time of 19:44 (PR) and secured a 2nd place medal for my age group.  Although the shoe lace scandal and hilly course it was an extremely enjoyable race where I experimented on no headphones. I don’t think I will use music for the upcoming Be Great 5K at Quiet Waters on August 20, 2011; but I am not sure if I am totally going to unplug for training runs or longer races yet…. OK OK, your thinking “I saw the pictures, shoe laces weren't your fatal flaw.” - You're wrong; showing that much thigh was a strategy not a hindrance.
  Speaking of unplugging, I was getting pretty bored with my rotating playlist for long runs and remembered when training in winter how I enjoyed listing to Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand during my long runs. So I decided to try it with another book this time by one of favorite suspense authors James Patterson with The Murder of King Tut – here is the Amazon blurb: “Now, in The Murder of King Tut, James Patterson and Martin Dugard dig through stacks of evidence--X-rays, Carter's files, forensic clues, and stories told through the ages--to arrive at their own account of King Tut's life and death. The result is an exhilarating true crime tale of intrigue, passion, and betrayal that casts fresh light on the oldest mystery of all.” But all things never work out quite right and I synced the audio book into my iPod in reverse so I continually had to manually flip through the chapters or it would go to the previous chapter. I know I missed a chapter or two and heard the same one multiple times but it was still a good way to relax through the run and not focus so much on time, pace or the food awaiting me at the finish.
 Speaking of food, I have a pretty picky stomach and ever since I found liquid gold made by GU it has been a staple for long runs and races. If you know me you will know that I am the most frugal person in existence so good deals excite me and I am unable to pass them up as in GU’s Marathon Training Kit, Performance Energy Sampler Coupon, and Buy-One-Get-One Roctane. That being said I bought enough GU to last me though numerous training runs and races including the ultra Ragnar Relay at the end of September and the Baltimore Marathon. So in one swoop I received 30 original GU gels, 38 Roctane GU Gels, Recovery Brew Canister, Electrolyte Brew Canister, 2 Electrolyte Tablets, the Performance Energy Sampler, Brew Blender Bottle and 2 GU water bottles. Oh yes. The girlfriend complains as I am hesitant to go to The Melting Pot and spend over $100 on dinner but I won’t think twice to spend twice as much for packets of ooze. Priorities. 

Friday, August 05, 2011

Al La Girlfriend (Guest Blog)

When I’m running the very fact that I am running is on my mind the ENTIRE time as I have yet to learn how to escape into the world of wonder or thought. Instead, I’m made very aware of how hot and thirsty I am, how tired my legs are, how achy my knee is, and on and on. Not to mention, this endures for an impressive…3 to 5 miles. How runners stay encouraged for longer than that is just short of magic to me. Nonetheless, my feet are moving. And in part, thanks to Caleb.

I’ve always run to stay in shape, only a few miles, usually as often on the treadmill as outside. I’m more of the team sports, athletics genre. An occasional 5K would keep me going and as of late, because of my job, travel offers the opportunity to run in new areas, new climates, and the like. And running in new areas means more distractions to keep my mind off the fact…well, that I’m running. I’ve been able to hit the road throughout California, Texas, and now Florida. Take my most recent hot and humid trek in Sarasota, FL. Unlike the squirrels and sloping roads I’m used to in the ‘bubble’ as us locals call it (more formerly, Pasadena), I was welcomed by scurrying lizards, relentless gnats (which chose to land on my face and stay there via sweat without my knowledge…at least until I looked in the mirror when I got back to the hotel), and oh yeah, the alligator I saw in the reservoir a few feet from the sidewalk on which I ran.

Since meeting and dating Caleb, I’ve learned there can be a bit of competitive edge to running (even if it’s competing against myself!) and he’s motivated me to improve my personal bests in distance and speed. Tools like nike+ and mapmyrun have served me well. While I don’t see much more than a 5 or 10K in my future right now, in just a few months, I’ve noticed both stats improving. And little by little, I think I might learn to find joy and peaceful solace in running. Little. By. Little. Perhaps it’s part his success story and ongoing passion, perhaps it’s just part my competitive nature, but I’m happy and excited to set new goals with him, including our monthly 5Ks together. And I’m writing this guest blog now (as I have deemed it), simply because he’s fast asleep and I just couldn’t wait to tell him about my run tonight. Record time 5K (28:46), sharply teethed reptiles, bug face, and all. As much as my independent and stubborn self hates to admit, he’s rubbing off on me. And in a good way.

I only hope Caleb enjoys that I’m taking to running (even if to a fraction of the degree that he runs) and I’m happy to share his passion. While I’m very proud of his amazing pace (okay, and maybe a little bitter of that one), continually lengthening runs, impressive race list, and even knowledge of the sport, he never hesitates to take time and encourage me on my more…conservative journey.  It’s a much needed pat on the back for a newcomer like me. And as for Caleb’s bucket list of marathons, I’ll proudly be by his side cheering him on…okay okay, by his side for the first 3.14 miles. Then in spirit to the finish line.

Carpe viam.