Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dirty Bird 15K Race Report

Stayed at my in-laws last evening, which is only about 25 minutes from French Creek State Park, the venue for Pretzel City Sports Dirty Bird 15K trail run. As I was driving to the race, I couldn't get the Grateful Dead Tune out of my head, "Cold Rain and Snow" - Run me out in the cold rain and snow/ Rain and snow, run me out in the cold rain and snow.

While there wasn't any snow, there was definitely cold rain as in about 38 degrees and a steady drizzle. I arrived at the park around 10:00, which was an hour before the 11:00 a.m start. I checked in, then immediately went back to my car to stay out of the rain. Around 11:10, my buddy Chris R. showed up. We touched base and decided to go for a warm-up run around 10:30.

Warm-up went well, and we met up with two other friends Andy G. a former student of Mine, and Eric D. who ran the dam half with us a month ago. After the warm-up, it was decision time as to what to wear. I decided with the conditions to go with tights, a wicking top and a running jacket as an outer layer. I also wore cotton gloves and a hat. This was the first mistake of two that I made today. I was over dressed, and the extra clothes just got heavier as it got wet. I would have been better sucking it up at the beginning and just going with the tights and a lighter top. I could have ditched the gloves, and the hat. They served no purpose after the first climb.

Start went off promptly at 11:00 and for the first quarter of a mile or so the race went down a park road. I went out at about a 6:50 pace, too fast for the total race, but I didn't want to get cut off from the pack as we entered the woods. as it turned out, I started too far to the back, and when we got to the woods I had to contend with a long line of single file runners, which were hard to pass - this was my second mistake. After turning into the woods, we started a long climb. It wasn't as steep as anything at the Dam half, but it was long, and people started slowing down. I passed when I could, but pretty much was trapped, so I just stayed up with whoever was in front of me, then passed when I had an opportunity. After we crested the the first hill, we had a long stretch down on single track. I decided to go 'balls to the wall," and barrelled down the hills. It paid off as I picked up a few places.

The trails were extremely muddy, and I was gaining weight as I ran, because my clothes were soaking up rain. My shoes felt like ankle weights. I settled into a hard, but sustainable pace, and kept with my strategy of conserving my energy on the uphills, and barreling down the backsides. This was working well, and I picked off a runner here and there, but I was nowhere near the main pack, so resigned myself to maintaining my position and trying to prevent being passed. This worked well, until I got to one steep section, which I was forced to walk. I was passed by a runner close to the crest of the hill. I thought I wouldn't see him after the top, but he ran conservatively downhill, so I barreled past him and stayed ahead until the next hill, where he passed me again. I thought I would catch him on the next downhill, and almost did, but he was able to stay ahead of me.

With about two miles to go, I opened it up, and was wondering where Chris and Eric were. Chris is strong on the hills whether we are biking or running, but I didn't know how far behind me he was. I thought he would have caught me, but there was no sign of him. I really felt good the last two miles, and although I couldn't catch the guy I was back and forth with on the hills, I did manage to reel in 4 or 5 more runners. I pride myself on my sprinting ability, and sure enough the last 300 meters provided me with enough space to catch and pass three more people as we headed into the finish. I finished with a 1:21, which was good for 58th place.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Training Update

This was a nice week for getting some exercise as I didn't have to do all of it before 5:00 a.m. Of course, Thanksgiving gorging didn't help all that much. Oh well, I have the Dirty Bird 15K tomorrow, so that should help me work off some of the extra calories.

Sunday: Millersville Turkey Trot with Kyler, 5K
Monday: off
Tuesday: 4 mile run
Wednesday: 1 mile swim a.m.*; 45 minutes on the bike trainer p.m.
Thursday: 5 mile run @ tempo pace, 7:10 per mile
Friday: 21 mile bike ride, "big ring"** ride at 16.5 mph
Saturday: 1 mile swim

* Tried something a little different on this swim based on a tip from my buddy Doug A. Rather than try to count laps, I just swam for 36:00 minutes, which is my average mile time. It was so nice to just daydream, and not worry about laps. Did it on Saturday too.

** Stayed in my big ring up front; great strength workout.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Millersville Turkey Trot Race Report

Kyler and I arrived at Millersville University an hour before the start of the race. We registered, received our numbers, then went for a little warm-up run on the university track. We also went through the stretching routine that Kyler learned in school.

The race started promptly at 1:30. Kyler set his goal for 35 minutes, so we set out accordingly. We fell to the back of the pack, but not the whole way back. by the quarter mile mark, Kyler smelled a little blood and picked up the pace a bit to pass two runners.

I had never run this race before despite having attended college here. I forgot how hilly the town of Millersville is, and we started hitting hills early in the race. I was a little worried for Kyler's sake, but he pushed on and over the early hills with no problem. We were hoping to hit splits of around 11:20 per mile, but after the first mile we were running 10:45. This encouraged us both, so we kept that pace and maintained it over the next series of hills. From mile one to two, we passed four more runners. Our split for two miles was 21:30.

After mile two, Kyler indicated for the first time that he was getting a little tired. We dialed it down a little, but then we started downhill and began our way back to the finish. Kyler realized this and picked up the pace slightly. When we were about 300 meters from the finish, he wasn't sure if he wanted to kick it home, so I told him we didn't have to. But then, when he saw the finish, and heard people cheering he went into a sprint for the finish. Our final time was 32:15.

I was a very proud father running with my son, especially when people cheered, "Go 125!" It was my favorite race of the year. We even won a frozen turkey in the raffle after the awards ceremony. To celebrate the experience, we went to the House of Pie in Millersville for Pizza.

I'm looking forward to seeing the official results tomorrow, because I'm sure Kyler at 7 was the youngest runner by at least three years. Unfortunately, he had to compete in the 14 and under age group.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Training Update

Had a great week of running, biking and swimming, but the piriformis issue flared up a little after Thursday's fartlek run. Probably shouldn't have opened it up, but I want to be ready for the Dirty Bird 15K next Sunday. Also on the race calendar is the Millersville Turkey Trot tomorrow. I'm looking forward to this 5K, because it will be the first race that my son, Kyler, and I run together, *and* it's on the campus of Tina's and my alma mater, Millersville U. of PA.

Sunday: 1.5 hours of mountain biking with Eric D. at Rocky Ridge Park
Monday: 3 mile run
Tuesday: 30 minutes on the trainer; hammered during commercials
Wednesday: 1700 yards in the pool w/ 6 x100 yard intervals @ 1:50 w/ 15 seconds rest
Thursday: 4 miles fartlek
Friday: 30 minutes on the trainer; hammered during the commercials
Saturday: 1.25 hour run @ 8:00 per mile.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Keller Williams Rocks

Just got back from the Keller Williams concert and I can't sleep, so I'll post a concert report.

This is the third Keller concert we attended, and it was at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster. The last two times we saw him was at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. The Chameleon is a great venue for getting close to the performer, but the problem is everyone can get close and after awhile it gets a bit claustrophobic. The problem with the Chameleon is that the venue tends to be narrow and deep thus if you are not up front, your view of the stage is limited.

The first set that he did was with two other musicians (Claude Arthur on bass, Jay Starling on dobro) and he performed a "grunge grass" set, which I had never seen him perform before. He covered popular grunge tunes from the 90's, but with a twist, he performed them blue grass style. Try to imagine Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilot songs with a blue grass beat. It's hard to do, but Keller made it work, and it was awesome. I can't remember all the songs that he did, but some that I do remember were "Smells Like Teen Spirit,' "Jeremy," "All Apologies," "Alive," "Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town," and "Daughter." He had the place rocking, and his musicianship was superb.

After this set, he took a break, then came back on stage solo. By this time the venue was extremely crowded. He opened with "Freaker," which is one of my favorite songs then continued to jam and get the house rocking. We stayed up front for two more songs, but then we decided to move back. There was just two many people pushing and shoving that it was no longer enjoyable. Keller was great, but the invasion of personal space was off-putting. We stayed for a few more songs, but decided to leave half way through the set. Honestly, we felt that we got our money's worth by this time, so we decided to call it a night.

I would definitely see him here again, but prefer the Whitaker Center over the Chameleon. At this point in my life, I'd rather focus on the music as opposed to the scene.

"When the World is Running Down...

Make the best of what is still around." I was listening to and thinking about this song as I was driving home from mountain biking last weekend at Rocky Ridge Park. Even though open space is decreasing around my home town and developments are springing up all the time, there still is open space to enjoy an array of outdoor activities if you're willing to make the best of it, or suspend value judgements and comparisons.

So, in no particular order here are my favorite outdoor destinations within 20 minutes of Mount Joy, PA.

1) The Susquehanna River: a great place to kayak and fish. It used to be a great place to fly fish for bass, but in years past the bass population has declined. This past summer I began fishing for catfish and had a blast doing it. Bald eagles are a common sight.

2) The Donegal Creek: arguably one of the best fly fishing creeks in Lancaster Co. for trout. Wild browns and some wild rainbows; brook trout are stocked. A Donegal hat trick is always a possibility.

3) Chiques Rock County Park: great place for rock climbing, hiking and trail running. The overlook at sunset is impressive.

4) Rocky Ridge County Park (York County): great place to mountain bike and trail run. Also a great place to scramble around on boulders

5) Governor Dick Park: great place to hike, trail run and mountain bike. Any trip here must include a walk up to the observation tower. On a clear day you can see, I think, 12 different counties. Also great rocks for bouldering.

6) Mount Gretna and the surrounding Game Lands: contiguous with Governor Dick. My favorite place to cross country ski. Also a great place for trail running and hiking. I used to hunt here frequently, but haven't done too much hunting in the past couple of years. Mount Gretna is also home to the "Got the Nerve" triathlon.

7) Conewago Rail Trail: great place for long bike rides and runs. Also a great place for birding in the spring time.

8) The Chiques Creek: An interesting place to fly fish if you don't mind catching numerous species of fish that are not usually pursued on a fly rod. Rock bass abound, and an occasional 15-17 inch smallmouth can be brought to hand.

9) Samuel L. Lewis State Park (York County): great place for a picnic, or to a fly a kite. Highest hill in the area. Great views of the Susquehanna valley. Cool boulder field to scramble around on.

10) Country Roads: This is not so much of a destination as a benefit of living in a rural area. I can raise the garage door and within 5 minutes be biking in the country. I have one ride that allows me to cross four covered bridges. I call it my "Covered Bridge Metric Half Century" as it is about 31 miles total distance.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Just a Post

This was a short week: normal day Monday, club schedule Tuesday, normal Day Wednesday, early dismissal Thursday and no school on Friday. The only thing about weeks like this is the following week seems so damn long.

I'm back to my morning routine as far training goes, I just couldn't make the after-school thing work. So, it's "up in the morning *before* the rising sun." I've decided to run the Dirty Bird 15K at the end of the month. I did a 1 hour run today, and had no real piriformis issues. In prepping for the Dirty Bird, I probably won't do too much interval, or tempo work to reduce the stress on the muscle. This week's schedule was as follows:

Monday - 3 mile run
Tuesday - 30 minutes on the bike trainer
Wednesday - 1500 yards in the pool
Thursday - off
Friday - 1 mile in the pool; 30 minutes on the trainer
Saturday - 1 hour run

If getting up early and exercising is good for Barack Obama (He wears Asics, I wonder if he rides a Felt), then it's good enough for me. Speaking of Obama, he was my choice for President. I have never spoken of politics on my blog as it is primarily a journal of outdoor activities and events, but in the spirit of the election and facing a dearth of activities at the moment, I'll espouse my views.

I live in a very conservative part of PA, so voting Democrat is a breach from tradition and almost unheard of in these parts. I can't recall when there was ever a serious democratic challenger for any office. I'm convinced that the republican party could run a farm animal for any election and win.

A few years ago, I changed my party affiliation to Independent to try to add some objectivity to my voting. In the last three presidential elections I voted Republican, Democrat and now Democrat again, but I think the real reason I voted Democrat this election was that I just liked Barack Obama more than John McCain. It came down to choosing a person for me and not a political party. Political parties are all the same in that they pretty much drift towards the center in most cases.

In viewing McCain and Obama, I saw a young man, my age, who while not sharing the same experiences or world views as me was the same age as me when the past and current issues shaping our nation took place. I also saw an old man, who should be respected, but just looked, well, old (old in the sense that he seems like the kind of guy that would yell at kids to get out of his yard. I'm actually a fan of Joe Paterno, so I'm not averse to people who are old holding positions of leadership, but just not when they seem grouchy-old). I also like the fact that Obama was not born into privilege, and actually had to study to get through college. I can relate to this, because I had to study to get myself through college while working 20-30 hours a week to pay for it. My parents held no sway over my professors, or the the University I attended. Finally, I feel Obama is a better fit for a changing world, a world that is becoming more global and connected. Whether you like it or not, that's the way it is.

I don't agree with Obama on every issue, but I think he has the intelligence and drive to be a good leader. I also feel he is respected by the rest of the world. I hope we as a nation can rally behind him, and put our differences aside now that he is in office. And if things don't work out, well, in four more years, we can choose again.

Finally, and unrelated, GO PSU!!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

So, now what...

Sitting here this morning in a bit of a funk as a result of PSU's upset yesterday. Oh well, you win some, you lose some, and what ever other cliches come to mind.

I haven't been training for anything since the Dam Half three weeks ago. I thought I was going to enjoy not running a fall marathon, but as I hear about them and look at the results, I feel somewhat left out. This, of course, is of my choosing. There is an excitement and sense of accomplishment that goes with finishing a marathon, but my body does need a little break. Next up for me will be the Tri To Help Indoor Triathlon in February. I also plan on running the Millersville Turkey Trot with my son in two weeks. To those ends, I have been riding my indoor bike trainer, running easily (piriformis is still bothering me a little) and I actually got back into the pool yesterday. I didn't seem to lose anything; I'm still a middle of the packer, and doubt I will ever improve much in this endeavor.

On another note, I dropped my skis off at the Ski Tunes this past Friday. I'm looking forward to some cold weather and fluffy snow. If the weather forecasts are correct, it could be a great winter for the slopes. Hopefully it will also be a great winter for the annual Yellow Springs Rendezvous at the end of January.