Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer So Far

The summer has been very eventful so far, and I'm enjoying the time off with the boys and Tina, now that she is unemployed. After out trip to Slate Run we headed to Rehoboth for a week. We stayed at a new place, which was only a half block off the beach, and it was very nice being so close to the ocean and the boardwalk. We fished, played on the beach, and did the other Rehoboth activities that we enjoy including going to the water park and visits to Dogfish Head Brewing (okay, I enjoy that more than the others).

Kyler and I also ran two races: The Rusty Rudder 5K and the Seashore Striders 5K. In the first race Kyler set a new PR, 23:53, and finished 6th in his age group, 10-14. I ran a 19:07, which was my fastest time on that course and good enough for 2nd in my age group. At the next race Kyler ran 24:20, and finished 4th in his age group. I had one of my best races ever, and lowered my PR to 18:43. This won the age group, and I picked up a $75 gift cert. to the New Balance Store.

Since vacation Kyler has been playing soccer, and is looking forward to two upcoming tournaments. Tristan will soon be playing again as well, and before we know it, the fall season will be in full swing. Currently, both boys are at camp, which has given Tina and I the opportunity to get away a little and catch up on chores around the house. Before the boys left for camp, Tina went to California and the boys and I went on a great camping trip to trough Creek State Park, which is near Raystown Lake. Looking forward to some more camping, fishing and daytrips before having to head back to school.

Slate Run Backpacking

Took both boys on a backpacking trip into Slate Run the third weekend in June. It was Kyler's 4th trip with a pack, but Tristan's first, so I picked a short hike into Slate Run. Joining us was Andy B. and my friend Kyle F. and his son Jackson.

The weekend was a bit rainy, but there were periods of clearing and we had a great time camping on the creek. The boys found many diversions, and had a blast playing in and around Slate Run.

On the way up, we stopped at Bullfrog Brewing for lunch, and on the way home we stopped at Selinsgrove brewing for lunch. Nice bookends to two days of camping.

Pasta Run

Ran this race two years ago off of City Island in Harrisburg. Then I won my age group, and almost won the masters, but for letting a guy pass me mid-race.

Conditions were brutal, 97 degrees at the 6:00 p.m., which was start time. Went out well, but wilted around the halfway point. The guy who beat me two years ago was behind me, so I mustered a little acceleration and opened up a gap, which I was able to maintain. Had a nice kick on the bridge, but came in at 20:03. My streak of sub-20 5Ks ended, but it was good enough for the Masters win, and a pair of Oakley sunglasses.

Bridge Run

Ran the Bridge Run on Memorial day weekend. This was well over a month since running the RACC Run. It was a hot morning. I was hoping to go under 19:00 again, but the course finishes with a major climb.

I ran well, but the heat got to me a little, and I lost time climbing the hill at the end. Also, running approximately 2 miles on a bridge was not the most pleasant event in the world. Ran 19:20, and picked up a second in the 40-49 age group.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Shenandoah National Park, May, 2011

Last weekend Kyler and I departed for the Shenandoah National Park. We left Thursday evening and stayed in Winchester, Va. Friday morning, we got up early, had breakfast then drove to the Old Rag Mountain parking lot for our hike up Nicholoson Hollow.

The week was nice, but Friday it was raining, however, it stopped during our hike in. We were on the trail by around 11:00, and we met Kyle F. and and Andy B. in camp around noon.

We rigged up a great tarp shelter, and had a place to get out of the rain. We dubbed our shelter the "tarp mahal."

Spent Friday afternoon exploring the Hughes River and it's many rock formations, and I did a little trout fishing. After supper, we had some beers, and played a game of UNO. Kyler was quite pleased with himself, as he won in comeback fashion.

Saturday we explored Hannah Run, and found a beaver colony/dam. This is the first time since coming down in the early '90's that I ever saw evidence of Beavers. Later in the day we went fishing using both the Tenkara rod and traditional fly equipment. Had realy good luck fishing a bead-head green weenie.

Saturday evening was similar to Friday evening, and again, kyler was the UNO champ. UNO might be one of the best backpacking/camping card games ever invented.

Saturday night brought the most rain of the trip, but the new Sierra Designs tent performed well, and we stayed dry. Sunday, broke clear and we were able to pack up in sunshine, however, it didn't last. Fortunately it lasted long enough Sunday afternoon to dry out all the gear.

This was another great trip, and I'm so glad we were able to continue the tradition. Next year, both boys will be with me.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hibernia Off-Road Duathlon

I have always wanted to do a mountain biking event, and this seemed like the perfect one, because I could get my son involved. We formed Team 2K to compete: Kyler would run, and I would mountain bike. The distances were 2.6 mile run, 12 mile bike, 2.6 mile run. Also competing with us would be Team Runkle consisting of my friend Chris and his son Zac. Both Zac and Kyler are on the same soccer team.

The day before the race, we received 3" of rain throughout the area, so we were expecting muddy conditions. The weather Sunday morning was clear and windy with temps in the 50s.

We arrived about an hour early, and Chris and I warmed up on our bikes then went for a run with Kyler and Zac. During the warm-up we realized just how muddy the course was going to be. Start time was 9:00, and we were ready to go.

Kyler and Zac went out strong and were hanging mid-pack before they dropped out of sight. Chris and I figured we wouldn't see them for at least 25 minutes. Around the 23:00 minute mark, Zac came out of the woods heading for the transition, but Kyler wasn't in sight. Zac tagged Chris, and Chris was off like a shot. About a minute later Kyler came in. I asked if he was okay and he informed me that he had to stop, because his shoe got sucked off in the mud. We tagged and I was off.

I have done many bike legs in triathlons, but never off-road and never in the conditions like yesterday. It was by far the hardest race, or leg of a race that I ever competed in. I don't do that much mountain biking, and fortunately the course was a good beginner course, and wasn't too technical, nonetheless, it presented many challenges.

I was able to stay on my bike for almost the entire loop, but there was a section that I had to dismount to negotiate. There were also two section where I spun out and had to dismount, because I lost forward momentum. I was able to negotiate the loop more efficiently the second time after learning how to get in the right gears and spin up the steep sections. Mud, however, was the word of the day, and I'm surprised that I didn't go down in a few sections that I could feel the front wheel wash out on me.

I came in at least 20 minutes down to Chris, but I knew that would be the case. He is a former mountain bike racer and could fly on this course. I tagged Kyler, and he was off. about 21:00 - 22:00 minutes later he came out of the woods. There was a runner on his heels and we told him to kick it in, which he did. I was proud of his guts and determination, and was happy that he had a grin on his face.

I highly recommend this race. It was well organized and laid-out. If time permits, we hope to do some more off-road events with Mid-Atlantic Events

Monday, April 11, 2011


Great race yesterday. No wind, flat course, cool temps. It was held in downtown Reading; the start was near the RACC campus. The student center was open for registration, which meant access to bathrooms and water fountains.

I arrived about an hour early, and began my normal warm-up procedure including a 1.5-mile run. My goal was to go under 19:00, but I felt a little sluggish. The race went off at 10:00, and I went out at a fast pace, and found myself in the top ten. I hit the first mile at 5:40, and actually felt good. After mile 1, another runner passed me, and that was the last person to pass me. I had another runner about 5 yards in front of me that I kept my sights on, but I never was able to close the gap. My paced dropped off a little by mile 2, but I was able to hang on the last mile and finished in 18:48, which was: 12 below my goal. The finish was a little tough. I like a long straight, which gives me a clear view to the line. This finish passed the original start then made 3 hard lefts to the line.

18:48 ties my PR from two years ago, which made this race special. I still have room for improvement, and I’m still improving despite closing in on a half century. I was 7th overall in the race, and second in my age group (40-49). The runner in front of me beat me by :02 for the age group win.

After the race, I ran my cool-down with Curt M., who finished ahead of me, and Tim H., the guy who finished behind me, and who knocked me off in the last mile of the Kris Kringle race back in December. We also ran with the woman’s runner up, Katherine D. It’s always nice meeting new runners and sharing the camaraderie.

The timing and direction of this race was superb, and the course was nice except, like I stated earlier, the finish was funky. Nonetheless, I highly recommend it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Frozen Foot Race #3

Here it is, the first week in April, and I'm just now getting to the final report on the Frozen Foot Series. There is a reason for this.

The weather for race #3 was perfect, cool, but not cold and windy. My plan was to try and go under 19:00, but my primary goal was to win my age group. Going into the race, I knew I only needed a solid race at about 19:30 to secure it. I also knew that if one of the masters ahead of me didn't show up, I'd be the masters winner. There was another individual in the masters hunt, but he was a full 2:00 behind me in the standings, so I wasn't too concerned.

When we stepped to the line, I realized that both of the masters ahead of me were not in the race, and they weren't there when the gun went off. I planned my race to start a little slower to compensate for the hills, so I didn't go out as hard as the previous races. At the turn around, I discovered no one was pushing me, and the individuals out in front, while in striking distance, didn't pose a threat to my standings, so, instead of putting down a kick, I cruised the rest of the race, knowing that I had a lock on the masters win.

After waiting over an hour for the awards to be called, it was announced that there was a timing/computer error and that we could stick around if we wanted, but it might take awhile. I decided to leave, but in hindsight, I should have stuck around.

For a chip timed series, the results were always slow in being posted. They went up on Facebook first, and usually not until a week after the race. I knew it would take awhile to get race #3 up, but I used the time to carefully check my standings. In an email from the race director, I was told that in order to win the series you had to run all three races, and that it was based on cumulative time. I raced all three races, and my cumulative time was :40 seconds faster than my next closest competitor despite being beaten by him in race number #3. But, it's a series, and not one race, so I didn't even think about it.

On Friday, April 1st, April Fool's Day. The results were posted, and I was not the master's winner. Why, because the race director decided to use only races #1 and #3. Now, I knew there was a problem with race #3, but at no time prior to the start of race #3 was I, or anyone else that I know of, informed that there was a problem with race #2. Dropping race #2, to me, was equivalent to dropping the first quarter of the Super Bowl, which would have given the win to the Steelers.

I emailed the director stating my case: 1) I raced all three races; 2) my cumulative time was faster than any master that ran all three races; 3) by XC scoring I would have won 4-5.

After three days, he finally responded:

"You are correct to be considered for series awards participants must compete in all three races or all the races we have. That is independent of the scoring of the series. We do not designate the number of races we use to score the series. Because it is a winter series we have had races canceled due to weather. Early in the history of the series we had a race that the timer we hired did not show up so we had no times. At that time we used time to calculate the series results. So we are never certain we are going to have three sets of race results to calculate the series awards.

We do try to score cross country style. This year we did not score cross country style because both in race 2 and 3 we had people who jumped out of line before we got their tag. We had reports of people cutting in front of others in the chute and one person who crossed the finish line multiple times. Race 2 we did not have chip times, so we would need to use gun times. Gun times are inherently less accurate than chip times especially if there are runners leaving the chute.

Race 1 and race 3 we have chip times and finishing order. I am confident the results and positions for race 1 and 3 are accurate. That is why I chose to score the series with these races only. I will not change the scoring for the series. However, I will send you $75 for the masters series

My response to him was essentially, "please don't send me the money. It's not about the money."

So, I won my age group which was my goal, and almost won the masters, but for a decision by the race director that I don't agree with, because, as stated earlier, at no time prior to race #3 was it ever announced that race #2 was tainted. Even if the times were not accurate, the standings were never in question, or at least not that anyone was aware of.

With that said, The RACC 5K is this weekend and Kyler and I are competing in the Hibernia Off-Road Duathlon the following weekend. It's time to move on, but next year, if I run a winter series it will either be in York Co., or the Shiver by the River series in Reading.

Friday, February 25, 2011

February and Frozen Foot Race #2

After January's race, the weather turned for the worse, and my training was interrupted. The track was covered in snow, the temps were cold and the roads were hard to run on at times.

The week after the race I took it somewhat easy, and then went on our annual backpacking trip, which was a nice little break from my normal weekend training routine. After the backpacking trip, I began to focus on weight training and hill running to strengthen myself for the three hills on the Frozen Foot course. I also put more emphasis on longer pace runs with shorter rest intervals. Still, I felt like I was not as prepared for February's race as I was for January's.

Race day was pleasant, around 40 degrees, and there was no wind. This was a far cry from the harsh conditions of the previous month. At the horn, I went out a little slower than the previous race, but was still in the the top 20. The slower start paid off and I didn't blow up on the hills like in January. I feel the weight training helped as well. Also, I worked on shortening and quickening my stride on the hills. Nonetheless, I was feeling those hills in the last mile, and again, didn't have my usual kick at the end. When I came to the final turn, I looked at my watch. I thought I was running slower than January, but I was actually ahead of pace. Sub-19 was in my sights, but I didn't have the legs for the last 200 meters, however, I did lower my time 9 seconds to 19:05. This was good enough for an age group win. I'm not sure of my overall place, because as of this writing, results are still not posted. I have never run a race in which it takes so long to get the results posted.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yellow Spring Rendezvous 2011

This past weekend was the Yellow Springs Rendezvous, and it was the 20th anniversay of this trip. A trip that started with Brian B., Kyle F. and myself. We have learned a lot about Winter backpacking over the years, and the trips seem to get easier all the time despite the aging process. We have had as many as 20 people come along on the trip, but this year we were at 13 (14 if you count Andrew who wandered into our camp and availed himself of our hospitality).

We parked near Rt. 72, and the snow was coming down steady as we prepared to hike. We headed north on the AT. The snow was falling and there was at least 9" of snow on the ground. At some places, the snow was well over a foot deep.

We made our way along at a steady clip, and arrived in Stony Valley around 3:00 p.m. The drill was the same as in years past: set-up the tents, gather and cut wood, bust a few caps, drink a few beers, spin a few yarns and catch-up with everyone. We left the next morning under fairly sunny skies, and were out of the woods around noon. Some in our party went to Funck's for breakfast; the Maryland crew opted for ABC; and Mitch F., Kory E. Scot H. and myslef hit the Bluebird Inn in Cornwall. This may well be the new post hike gathering point for those of us who head back to Lancaster Co.

Lessons learned on this trip were: 1) gaitors are essential when hiking in snow; 2) Pepboy's $10 folding snow shovels are the bee's knees when you need to clear snow for your tent and 3) Oscar Blues products in cans are a far better choice than humping in glass bottles.

Looking forward to the 21st anniversary trip next year: January 28th/29th.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January and Frozen Foot Race #1

Another year older which now makes me the old man in the 45-49 age group. I decided to run the Frozen Foot series in Elizabethtown, which consists of three 5Ks, a month apart, January through March. I have never ran a series before, but it seemed a good way to stay focused over the winter and to prepare for a spring increase in mileage.

January's race was on Sunday the 16th. The weather, despite the frigid cold we were experiencing, was nice: a light wind and temps in the upper 30s. I felt I was ready for this race, and had been able to consistently run and do speed work at the track. Nonetheless, the course is not easy with its hills, so I wasn't sure what I could do. I was hoping to go under 20:00.

Race went off at 2:00, and I went out fast with the lead pack, then settled into my groove. The first hill was tough, but I was able to use it to separate myself from some other runners. The second hill, however, hurt me, and from that point on, I was in a battle with myself to maintain pace. The third hill really took it out of me, and even with a long descent following, I wasn't able to muster the kick that I normally have. As I neared the finish line, I looked at my watch, and realized I was close to being on pace to break 19:00. But, as I said, I couldn't muster my kick and came in at 19:14. I was happy with my time on this course, especially early in the season. It was good for 13th overall (13th place again. That's the 5th or 6th time in the last two years that I had that placing), and 2nd in my age group, which means, I'm sitting in second in the series. I think I can pretty easily maintain a streak of sub-20:00 races this coming season.

As I write this, there is 9 inches of fresh snow on the ground, and since the race, training time has been reduced, because of poor conditions. I have only ran three times since the 16th, but have cross-trained consistently either using my trainer, swimming, or XC skiing. February, however, will be a tough race, especially if I can't get some road miles in. I'll be backpacking this coming weekend, so I'll have to get serious, snow or no snow, next week.