Monday, July 28, 2008

R. B. Winter State Park

Tina left for Florida on Wednesday of last week, so the boys and I headed to the mountains along with my buddy Phil and his daughter Makenzie and her friend Amber; and my buddy Kyle and his son Jackson.

We camped at R.B. Winter State Park. We had a great time hanging out by the fire, swimming, riding bikes, fishing and just taking it easy. Campgrounds are great places for kids to experience a little freedom and to go off on their own for a little bit.

On Saturday evening, we had a run in with DCNR. Well, not really, but it was rather humorous. Kyle and Jackson were playing Kyler and me in a heated game of backgammon - as Kyle put it, the first ever father and son "campgammon challenge." Our cheering was a little loud and we were told by the patrolling ranger that we needed to keep it down as it was quiet time. Nothing like those father and son bonding moments when you run afoul of the man.

On Sunday after goodbyes and departure, the boys and I headed west to Penns Cave. I've been on numerous cave tours, but this one was the best. What made it so was that you rode through the cave on a boat. The boys' imaginations were working overtime and they had no trouble seeing the various objects created by Stalactites and stalagmites. I think they were also excited by the fact that they just saw Journey To the Center of the Earth last week.

Here are some more pictures of our adventure.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Catfishin' In Da Moonlight

Met up with my buddy Brook Landis last evening for some catfishing on the Susquehanna River. We had been trying to get our schedules coordinated for some time and last night things finally worked out.

Brook goes to my church and is an avid angler. In recent years he has been experimenting with various British bait techniques and applying what he has learned to American angling. His recent book in fact is American Coarse Angling: Modern Baitfishing Tactics for the Overlooked Species.

We arrived at the river around 7:45 and made our way to Brook's secret spot. All I can say is that it is between the Maryland and New York borders. Upon arriving, the water was calm and there was an eerie hush over the banks. We rigged up, and he showed me how to assemble my tackle for very quick strike detection. Bait for the evening was shrimp. We cast out into the current and didn't have to wait too long until Mr. Cat found our "treacherous bait." About the time the first strikes started, life on the river exploded in conjunction with the white mayfly hatch. Mayflies were everywhere and everything was feeding on them. From this point on, we pretty much had non-stop action for the next two hours.

All in all, we landed around 15 nice catfish between 20 and 30 inches. Most of them were channel cats, but Brook also landed a huge flathead catfish. This trout fisherman was suitably impressed with the pursuit of overlooked species and plans on taking his boys to the river soon to pursue the same.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Catfish Triathlon, Harrisburg, PA

The Catfish Triathlon - 1000 yard swim, 14.5 mile bike, 2.8 mile run - was held this past Sunday on City Island in Harrisburg, PA. I woke up at 4:50, drank some coffee, packed last minute gear and headed to Harrisburg for the 7:00 a.m. start. I wanted to be there at least an hour to an hour and a half ahead of time to warm-up and relax. On the way out, I noticed the temperature was 81 degrees. This was almost 40 degrees warmer than the last two triathlons I did back in May.


After checking in, securing a spot in the transition area and warming up, I made my way to the north end of City Island to get ready for the swim. The swim was down river. I wasn't sure what to expect, because the water seemed low. The first wave went off at 7:00 and the second wave, my wave, made our way out into the river. After wading offshore about 20 yards the water was over my head, but not by much. I treaded water for about a minute, then wave 2 was off. It was really nice swimming with a current. It was easy to get into a rhythm, and I never felt as though I was exerting too much energy. I probably should have tried to swim faster, but I still tend to hold back in this part of the race and it always forces me to play catch-up later on. Although I'm comfortable swimming longer distances, I still don't know how hard to push. After proceeding downstream away from the starting area the water became more shallow. It was also clear and I was able to spot numerous aquatic organisms as I swam over them. It was also easy to stay on track. For one thing, the bedrock and faults in the bedrock are perpendicular to the current, so all I had to do was stay perpendicular to the bedrock and I knew I was heading straight. Second, the course was linear and parallel to the shore. We passed under three bridges, and right after the third one was a boat ramp, and that was our exit. Came out of the water feeling good and wasn't disoriented like I tended to be in past races.


When I got to the transition area, about half the bikes were gone, so once again, I was too slow in the swim and had to start playing catch-up. The bike course was flat, and I thought that was going to be nice, which it was, but it didn't work to my advantage. I started out in my small crank and spun at a high cadence and was able to maintain about 21-22 mph for the first part of the course. I slowly reeled in a few riders, but not many. At the half way point I switched to my large crank, and picked up speed, but still only picked off a few riders. Usually on the bike, I pick off a lot of riders, but then I realized, without hills, where I'm fairly strong, the other riders didn't slow down. When I got back to the transition, however, I noticed not too many bikes were back, so this was a good sign. I moved up more than I thought.


Ughh! My legs were really shot after the bike ride. I was originally hoping to start out at around a 6:55 pace, but couldn't get my legs under me, and didn't get them under me until about the 1.5 mile mark.. After that, I was really able to pick up speed and caught a lot of other runners including at least three in my age group. All in all, the run wasn't too bad and I finished strong, but I didn't run as fast as I wanted to.

Results and Final Comments

* Not sure of my overall place yet, but I was 5th in my age group. I'm waiting for the results to be posted, because I want to see if it was, in fact, the swim that set me back.

This just in: I was actually 4th in my age group (53rd overall). And yes, It was the swim that did me in. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place all swam in 16:00 or less while my swim was in 22:00...the 4th fastest time in my age group. Gotta work on that swim.

* First swim without a wetsuit. I'm gaining more confidence here, and not having to mess with the wetsuit, shortens the transition.

* Flat vs. hilly course: riding this course was essentially a time trial, which required a constant pedal stroke. Also, my position in the saddle didn't change much. I felt it was actually harder to go from bike to run on this course, because there was no opportunity to coast or to change positions during the ride. A hilly course favors me more.

* I need to do some more brick workouts.

* I need to open up my swim. Guess I'm going to have to do longer pool intervals.

* Very well run triathlon with great volunteers. I recommend this one.

* Up next, the Marshman Sprint Triathlon in Downingtown.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The President's Challenge

Back in September of 2003 I read an article in the paper about the President's Challenge. It is sponsored by the Presiden't Council on Physical Fitness and is a great way to log physical activity and earn points. I signed up for the Presidential Champions program, created a profile, chose a list of favorite activities and began to keep track of all my physical endeavors. It took awhile, but I eventually made my way through bronze (20,000 points), silver (45,000 points) and gold (80,000 points) awards. I then started over and, because I ramped up my physical activity in preparation for my first marathon, I proceeded throught next sequence of awards faster than the first time. I was set to work on my third gold medal, when a new award appeared, platinum. For this I would need 500,000 points. Well, I'm almost there, only 12,000 more points to go. The thing is, I'm not sure what the award is, because it is not listed on the awards order form. I'm excited, maybe I'll get an audience with the President.
I'm also proud to say that Kyler, my oldest son, has recently earned his first gold award. Way to go!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

We've been going to Delaware four years running and this is the first time we stayed in Rehoboth (we had been staying in Bethany Beach). It was our best beach vacation yet. The house was seven minutes from the boardwalk/beach, 4 minutes to downtown and 4 minutes to Dogfish Head Brewing.

We packed a lot of fun into the week - Pirate Cruise, Jungle Jim's, the new Hulk movie, Funland, the boardwalk, Grotto's Pizza - but mostly just enjoyed the relaxed pace and not having to watch the clock. The fishing was very good; we caught a lot of croakers along with sand sharks and a skate. I even managed to run a race and took 3rd in my age group. Report is below.

Here are some photos of our trip.

Jimmy's Grill 5K at the Rudder Race Report

Just back from vacation and need to get caught up on posting. So, to begin, I'll briefly report on my race last Sunday, the second day of our vacation.

Prior to heading down to Rehoboth, DE, we received a packet of information from the realtor with a list of things to do, one of the events was Jimmy's Grill 5K, which is one of a series of races held in Dewey Beach by Seven Sisters and Four Brothers. This seemed like a great way to start vacation and to possibly PR on a flat course.

Got up about an hour and a half early on race day and went through my usual routine. With about an hour to go before the race - 8:00 a.m. - I went out the door and ran from Rehoboth to Dewey Beach, which is about a mile and a half. I felt really good, and after checking in, I went through some form drills and made my way to the starting line. While there, I saw a guy with a Marine Corps tattoo, so I offered a "semper fi." His name was Jay Owens and he along with his wife Lisa were down for vacation and were running races.

Gun went off promptly at 8:00, and off we went. Jay was setting a blazing pace as was his wife. I settled into a 6:00 minute pace and was able to run my first mile in 6:05. Felt good and the second mile was 6:12. It is here that I start to fall apart in the 5K, which means I need a little more experience and a little different approach to training. Right around 2.5 miles is where my mind starts playing tricks, and by mile 3 I was down to 6:27. It was also at this point that I was passed by the only runner to do so other than those who got out in front at the start. I tried to real him in, but couldn't, but managed to sprint into the finish well below my goal of 20:00.

Results and Final Comments

* Official time - 19:40; 13th overall; 3rd in age group and a PR.

* Jay set our age group course record and his wife Lisa also broke the record, but so did the overall female winner. Just never know who is going to show up. Later in the week we were able to get together with Jay and Lisa for a little cheer at the Rusty Rudder. They picked up the tab with some of the gift certificates they won in the race. Thank you Jay and Lisa.

* I would have won the age group below me. Did I mention that you just never know who is going to show up.

* 45-49 age group finished 4th, 11th and 13th.

* If you're ever in Dewey Beach, be sure to run one of the races sponsored by Seven Sisters and Four Brothers. They are great events and the post race party is awesome. Visit the website for results and pictures. I made it into the "winners" photo, but was slightly cut out. I'm the guy in the red on the left