Monday, April 30, 2012

Taking a Stand

Since I went to work early I opted for a lunch run today. Had a bit of extra time so I decided to push my boundaries a bit and take an older route just to see if I could manage it. Turns out I could handle it. Better than expected.

The run itself was pretty ho-hum. Went slow and steady on my outbound leg without too much excitement. Stashed one of my bottles around the 25% mark and carried on with my other bottle. I wasn't sure how I'd handle less fluid than normal but I figured if I was going to push my distance boundary a bit, I might as well push my fluid boundary as well. Turns out my fluids were just about spot on. I thought I'd come in with my bottles bone dry but with some conservation and an attempt to only drink when I'm thirsty, but I came in with a solid mouthful or two left over.

On my inbound leg I suddenly had the "groove" settle over me and it felt awesome. So without thinking too hard I pushed just a smidgen while I felt good. I didn't pick up my pace too much, maybe 5 or 10%, but tried to just run in the groove. I knew once I thought too hard about what I was doing I'd lose it. So with very little thinking I just kept going. It lasted a solid 3 miles or so and felt great. The last mile wasn't quite in the groove but I was on the edge of it enough to ride the wave a bit to the end.

Temps were about 50F to 55F. Skies were cloudy with the sun peeking out once or twice. Felt a bit humid but nothing too terrible. Winds were light around 10mph.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was breakfast burritos, hash browns, and an iced latte. During the run I had a bottle of Hammer Perpeteum, a bottle of Hammer Fizz, and one Hammer Gel. I took the Gel around mile 4 and finished nearly all of my fluids. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite followed by chocolate ZICO and some left over meatloaf and green beans.

Aches and Pains:
My lower back pain goes away during the run but I felt stiff and sore after this past weekend. I spent both days, for a total of maybe 10 hours or so, working in the yard. Lots of chainsaw work, driving the tractor, tossing wood in the chipper, hauling around a chain, etc. Aside from that, things felt fine. But I did make sure to stretch after my run.

No special gear today. Took my phone for photos and safety and that was it.

Codename - Taking a Stand
Felt good about getting help last week. Will go again this week. Hope I see progress over time. But over all, I'm glad I could take a stand and stand up to my own fears. A tree stand left behind inspired the name for today's run.

Outbound - 45:58
Inbound - 43:58
Finish - 1:29:57 (a new PR for this route by about a minute)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Yet another DRHT run

Went out for an easy run before a work party today and felt pretty good during the run. I didn't have a set pace I was aiming for, just time on my feet and miles on the trail. Along the way I saw some interesting things. First, some angry Canadian Geese. Second, a Clapper Rail (an odd looking bird that looks like a Kiwi). Third, beaver sign! Oh, those horrid beasts. Beavers. Grrrr.

Anyway, I trotted down the trail, took plenty of pictures, and had a decent time enjoying the trail and the weather. Most interesting though was finding the DailyMile magnet I placed for Michele S. (or somebody else) to find! I placed it on a bench near mile marker 6 a few weeks back and when I checked on it later, it was gone. Thinking it washed away or something I had given up on it and decided it was lost. Until today! I found it at mile marker 11 and was so happy to see it again. So I placed it on the trail for somebody to find and move. Let the games begin! Hmm, guess I should come up with some rules for the game.

The rest of my run was great but I had a bit of a creepy encounter when I made it to the Y to take my shower. My local Y has shower stalls so you can scrub your kibbles, bits, and udders in private. The other YMCAs in the area have communal showers, just like those you dreaded in high school. So as I started to get wet in the shower today the dude next to me LEANS THE FUCK OVER AND POINTS AT MY LEG!!! DUDE!! That's my junk down there! Don't lean over into my personal space and point. I mean, I'm self-conscious enough about my size, I don't need some dude pointing at anything in the general area. No sir! After that, I scrubbed as efficiently as possible. I got clean, but I did it like I was taking a freaking Navy shower. In, out, done. I didn't care that he was polite and just asking about my tattoo. I didn't care that he was talking about something that he heard on the radio. I didn't care about anything but getting the hell out of there.


Temps were 50F to 55F. Winds were heavy, about 20 mph with gusts around 30 mph, but being in the trees kept most of it off me. Sun was out and nice.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was nothing but water. I had one bottle of Hammer Fizz, which I finished most of. I had one bottle of hammer Perpeteum, which I finished all of. Recovery was chocolate ZICO mixed with Hammer Recoverite.

Aches and Pains:
Not really any to speak of. My lower back has been tight for a good week or two but I think it's because I've slacked off on stretching after my runs. So I made sure I stretched after I finished today.

Wore my vest which eventually came off after a mile or so. Winter hat and gloves stayed on. Arm sleeves were great. Also ran with my cell phone to take pictures and my voice recorder to record a podcast episode.

Codename - The DailyMile MacGuffin Game
See my blog post for the rules.

First half mile - 7:52
Mile 1 - 12:49
Mile 2 - 13:14
Mile 3 - 12:28
Mile 4 - 11:48
Last half mile - 5:38
Finish - 1:03:51 (a solid 6 minutes slower than my best time but I was taking pictures and meandering as I felt like it)

Friday, April 27, 2012

The DailyMile MacGuffin Game

It's like geocaching and running all mixed into one.

The object of the game though is to take the "flag" or "cache" or "treasure" or "MacGuffin" and move it.

Rules are pretty simple.

First, you can only find or move the MacGuffin on a run. Runs can be on the trail, on the road, or both. But it must one single run. You can't find the MacGuffin on today's run and place it somewhere on tomorrow's run.

Second, the MacGuffin needs to be placed on a man-made object. This may be difficult on trail runs and exceptions can be made. But it you think about it, it'll be hard to find the MacGuffin if there are a thousand trees to look at. And looking at trees is sometimes dangerous on trail runs. So try to place it on a man-made object.

Third, tell people when and where you find the MacGuffin. You don't need to tell us where you hide it, but tell us when you find it. This should draw out the person that hid it originally and drive some discussion. Might even make friends.

Finally, the MacGuffin can be anything you want it to be. Personally, I have two out in the wild. The one I found and moved today was a small DailyMile magnet. The other one I have hidden off my road is a larger DailyMile sticker that I've attached with a pushpin.

So, those are the rules. If you have any questions, let me know. In the meantime, have fun!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Barkley Bypass

Went out to inspect the @friendsdrht trail to see all the new changes after last weekend's work party came through. Saw a ton of new benches up and the new signs/cross-bucks at the road crossing were up too. Outside of that, I didn't see many changes. Oh, except for the new gun range bypass, but I'll get to that in a moment.

As I started my run I headed from the parking lot to the 8.5 mile marker and came across two other runners out with their three dogs. All was good, we exchanged pleasantries, the dogs barked, etc. I turned around and passed them again after they turned around too. Then it was off to the 6.0 mile marker. I shortly debated turning around at the 6.5 mile marker but kept on going. I knew I had left a DailyMile sticker in that area between mile 6.5 and mile 6.0 the week before. I had forgotten to mention it to Michele S. but wanted to check on it before I mentioned it again. Turns out, it was gone. I looked to see if it was on the ground or had blown away but it was nowhere to be seen. I have no idea where it went. Maybe somebody else is playing the game?

The big change was the gun range bypass. Our volunteer group has hacked and slashed a new bypass but it is not even close to being runnable. It's passable on foot but isn't clearly marked and has quite a few logs and undergrowth to tread through and over. It was a bit easier on the elevation gains but was a bit longer too.

Temps started out around 40F but quickly warmed up to 55F. Sky was clear with a few wispy clouds. There was a light breeze but not very noticeable in the trees.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was breakfast burritos, a little iced latte, and water. The burritos were downed right before the run and they did pretty good in my gut. During the run I had a bottle of Hammer Fizz and a bottle of plain water. I finished the Fizz but had half a bottle of plain water left. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite and the rest of my iced latte.

Aches and Pains:
Nothing really hurt but my back has been stiff lately. I think I'm not stretching enough after my runs.

Wore my Saucony jacket today over top of my UnderArmour thermal shirt. Also wore long pants, winter hat, and gloves. Hat and gloves came off and went back on several times. Also took my cell phone and took a lot of pictures of the new work projects.

Codename - Barkley Bypass
Today's run went through the new bypass around the gun range. The idea, from what I understand, is to make the climb easier. For those in the know, one section of the bypass is the gravel access road. That hasn't changed. The other section is single-track trail. Only about half of this section has changed. Between the gravel road and the bridge over the creek is the area where the new bypass trail is located. It is not bike or runner friendly at the moment but it looks like it's been started and blazed. It's also not clearly marked in some sections, so just look for the cleared brush, hacked trees, and white ribbon. It's not as steep as the original bypass but it is longer (about a tenth of a mile longer). Here's the original bypass. And here's the new bypass. Note that on the original bypass I went from west to east while I went east to west on the new bypass. You'll also see that the new bypass isn't as straight as the original but does have a much more gradual elevation change.

My splits were all jacked up so I'm just posting the total time (which is much slower than normal because I stopped to take pictures of a lot of stuff.
Finish - 1:17:57

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gay, Bi, Curious?

Wild weather dominated today's run. Had to deal with heat, cold, sun, clouds, winds, and even some rain. Didn't know what to expect but I felt like a smart ultra runner. I was prepared.

Debated going out this morning but I honestly chickened out a bit after loading the family into the truck to start their day. Damn was it cold! My little booty shorts didn't cover enough, not even with my RUEZ undies on. So I went to work early and got some stuff done. Thankfully I did because my boss sprang a surprise meeting on us first thing and thankfully I was ready to go. But it also meant I'd have to wait until after lunch to go run. So I did. And it was at least a little warmer.

During the run I didn't see too much exciting beyond the weather. Same old junk on the road, next to the road, and around the hood. Once you run a route a few times, you start to know it's little intricacies. Today was like that. I knew what hills were coming, where to push, where to hold back, and where to glide.

Despite my knowledge of the route though, I fucked with myself. As I left the house, I debated do 8 miles. Then debated 6 miles. Finally I settled on 5 miles. As I chugged down the road on my 5 mile route, I began wondering if I should run to the swamp, chill out, then run back. I hated to wimp out with just a few miles so I decided to do the whole route. Then I really messed with my own head and got to the swamp and walked. And walked. I decided to walk to the turnaround point. This would give me a solid section of walking/power-hiking to make my body cool off some. The idea was to see if I could force myself to run after a prolonged break like that. So at the turn-around point, I began running. And ran damn near the whole route back. If it wasn't for the rain, I think I could have made it. But when I saw the steady deluge coming down the road straight for me, I decided it was time to hide the electronics in the plastic bag before they got soaked. Aside from that section of walking, I ran the whole return trip. In fact, after the walking break, I tried to pick up the pace some. Mostly because I wanted to get out of the rain but partly because I wanted to push myself.

Mission accomplished. I messed with my own head, did the whole route, walked some, ran some, ran faster than normal, and in the end, felt pretty good.

Temps were about 50F but it felt like it swung between 45F and 65F out there. The sun came out at times but never for very long. Rain was a very light sprinkle until the last mile when it became steady but still light enough to be bearable. Wind varied from none to 15mph.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was yogurt, eggs, a bagel, and coffee. Pre-run snack was four Oreos. During the run I had a bottle of Hammer Perpeteum which I finished about 90% of. I also had my hydration pack with plain water. Finished about half of that, so maybe half a liter. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite mixed with milk and water followed by a piece of cornbread and coffee.

Aches and Pains:
My left shin had a few pains here and there. As did both ankles. Knees and everything else felt line.

Wore my hydration pack with all my gear. Also wore my Brooks vest and long sleeve thermal top. Only shorts on the bottom.

Codename - Gay, Bi, Curious?
The weather just couldn't make up it's mind today. The sun would come out and I'd get overheated. Then the wind would pick up and I'd freeze. I'd take my winter hat off, put it back on, take it off again and take my gloves off, then put both back on. Mother Nature just couldn't decide if I was a Bottom or a Top. Funny because I've always thought of myself as a Bear.

Outbound Run - 22:40
Outbound Walk - 11:23
Inbound Run 1 - 7:02
Inbound Run 2 - 20:16
Finish - 1:01:22

Podcast - Mile 27 - Post HAT Run 50k

This is the real Mile 27. Ignore all other imposters. As usual, I have nothing worthwhile to say. But at least I'm getting it out there. I play a game in this one where I try to find a DailyMile sticker that a fellow runner and I have been moving around on each other. We live near each other so it's a nice little gimmick to get me out the door.

I also do some birthday math, lament at my lack of time and skill at being a novelist, and spot a unicorn. Then I delve into the dark side of soda as I talk about how my depression is often onset by drinking Coke. Can you tell the difference between Coke from a can, from a plastic bottle, from a glass bottle, and from the fountain? I can.

Download or view on Podbean.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Knobby Tires

Went out today to look for Michele S.'s lost car key. Turns out an email was waiting for me when I finished and it looks like somebody else may have found it earlier. Good news.

As for the run itself, it was pretty uneventful. Not! I started at mile 4, walked to mile 4.5, ran back to mile 4, and continued to repeat the alternating run/walk for each half mile section of trail. Add to that, I damn near froze my hands off for the first mile or two. Thankfully I found some gloves in my gym bag after the first mile and wore them for the rest of the run. By the end, I had to pull down my arm sleeves because it was getting warm. I also managed to find a Hammer Gel top, Accel gel top, Coke can, beer can, and even a large soda cup from McDonalds. All of which I hiked out to the trail head and put in my trashcan. The only thing I left behind was the used condom and wrapper.

The big excitement though came from the hunter. I ran the leg from mile 2.5 to 2.0, went to the bathroom, then turned around to walk from mile 2.0 to 2.5. Right before the mile 2.0 marker is a cross over road where property owners can get from one side of the property to the other. So as I was walking back I saw a hunter in full camo walking on this cross over road. Casually walking across the road. Didn't look at me or acknowledge my presence in any way. Totally scared the shit out of me. The first half a second I thought it was Bigfoot or Knobby or something but it was just a guy walking across the trail. He kept walking and I kept walking. Thankfully I didn't die of a heart attack.

Beyond that, things were pretty sedate. Very cool to see the sun rise and the mist float around in the early morning hours.

Temps started at 50F but ended up at 65F. Sun was out. No breeze that I could feel. Some humidity from yesterday's rain.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was water. During the run I had my hydration pack with water. Drank maybe 12 to 16 ounces. Recovery was an iced latte and breakfast burritos.

Aches and Pains:
None really. My hands were cold for the first mile but warmed up fine after I put gloves on. My arms were fine until about mile 3 when I got warm and pulled my sleeves down.

Had my Salomon hydration pack with various stuff stashed in it. Nothing terribly exciting.

Codename - Knobby Tires
I mentioned the hunter made me think of Bigfoot or Knobby. Do some research about Knobby and you'll see he's been spotted in the area of Shelby, NC (where I used to live). And no, I didn't tell him to "git!" As for the tires, well, it looks like the trail is yet again being used by ATVs when it shouldn't be. Saw some skid marks near mile marker 4 and some new side trails in the area of mile marker 3.

Mile 0.5 - 10:50
Mile 1 - 7:15
Mile 1.5 - 10:35
Mile 2 - 5:29
Mile 2.5 - 10:16
Mile 3 - 5:42
Mile 3.5 - 11:07
Mile 4 - 5:38
Mile 4.5 - 11:08
Mile 5 - 5:32
Finish - 1:23:36

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Young DJ In The House

While our daughter is likely too young to know what "DJ" actually means, she did a stellar job talking to our local radio DJ. In fact, she and her brother apparently made quite the impression when they met him in person last weekend. But I guess I should back up even before that so we can start from the beginning.

Way back in the late 80s/early 90s, there was a local radio station that went by the name Q96 The Heat. The call-sign and channel was WGRQ and 95.9 FM. Over time they changed formats, owner, etc. and became the WGRQ/95.9 station that airs today. So this channel has been around my childhood for sometime and has long been a steady stream of music in my car over the years (all the way back to when I didn't have a car).

Anyway, they did a local/on-site broadcast last weekend where the morning DJ, Dave Adler, met my wife and kids. The kids were apparently on the radio and were quite the comedy act. I missed the show but through luck and planning, managed to catch the second act this week. Turns out my wife gave the phone to my daughter who called the station one morning.

What you hear here is the end result. I've also included the music videos as well just so you can finish the song.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dead Dog Leg

After this morning's luke-warm bike, I went out for a much warmer run. Warm enough that I went topless. I'm now getting a better understanding of why guys like to go out and run without their shirt. First, it's functional and keeps you cool. Second, it makes you look cool. Well, for most guys fit enough to look cool, for fatties like me, it just makes us look like a beached whale grew some hair and decided to run down the road. And finally, third, it's functional. I know, I already said that, but I can't imagine how I survived running in the heat with shirts on in the past. No wonder I was so damned hot. But don't worry ladies, I'm working on becoming hawt.

Today's run was warm but not insanely hot. I did get overheated and had to reel myself back in a bit (which is why my inbound split is slightly slower). I powered hard up the first hill and felt good doing it, started to overheat and slow down on the return leg, and could only go up the other side of the hill in low gear for half of it before taking a break.

What does a hawt lumberjack look like? Like this:


Okay, okay, here's a hawt lumberjack for you ladies:


Temps were about 70F, sky was mostly clear but still some clouds, and the humidity was on the low end of things. Winds were about 10 mph with a few gusts around 20 mph. There was a headwind going out and a tailwind coming back. Pollen count was high.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was coffee, yogurt, oatmeal, eggs, and toast. I took nothing before the run. During the run I had two bottles, one with plain water and one with Hammer Fizz. I put 4 ice cubes in each and they lasted until about the halfway point. Fluids stayed cold through the end of the run. Recovery was chocolate ZICO followed by a meal of leftover spaghetti with meat sauce.

Aches and Pains:
My right knee was feeling off but appears to have warmed up after a mile or so. The last mile or so I could feel my feet getting hot. Outside of that, no other discomfort beyond the heat.

No special gear but I did take my iPod.

Codename - Dead Dog Leg
Ran by a dead (and very squished) snake at the bottom of the hill. Ick. The barking dog on the corner (aka Cujo) didn't even lift his head as I ran by. Passed a couple out walking with a giant stroller and when I turned around they were gone. No sign of them. Cooled off my legs with cold water like a "pro" and it helped a little. The cold water felt better on my head and my big ass gut.

Outbound - 19:46
Inbound - 20:00
Finish - 39:46

Monday, April 16, 2012

Podcast - Mile 26.2 - The Marathon Episode

This was initially Mile 27 but seeing as I had nothing to talk about, I decided to make it Mile 26.2. Pretty lame but it fits seeing as it's short and the usual rambling diatribe.

Download or view on Podbean.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Heat Is On

Hot run today but I knew it was coming. Wanted to snag a few more miles before tomorrow's long run and wouldn't you know it, I can't do math. Turns out I only needed one more mile plus 13 tomorrow to meet my weekly goal. Instead I did 6 today and hope to do 10+ tomorrow. Gah. Such a dunce sometimes.

Anyway, today's run was mostly an exercise in heat training with a side dish of deep thought. Trying to figure out if I need to put on my false front tomorrow and be the carefree Lumberjack or if I should go deep and dark. After 6 miles and a cold shower, I still don't know which way I'm going. Guess I get to play it by ear tomorrow.

Nothing terribly exciting today other than I went half naked from the start. Since I knew it would be warm out, I went topless but gave myself a good coating in sunblock. Well, I gave my natural sweater a coating at least. Saw lots of people out driving, got waves from most of the drivers, and even got a few odd looks from those sitting on their porches watching the hairy fat guy run down their road. Glad I can give people something to talk about at dinner tonight.

Temps were easily 75F, maybe closer to 80F. Humidity was moderate. Winds were light. Sky was clear and sunny.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was eggs, toast, yogurt, and coffee. Lunch was three slices of Hawaiian pizza with water. Before the run I took a small hit of Hammer Gel. During the run I had two bottles of Hammer Fizz. Recovery after the run was chocolate ZICO followed by a cold shower to cool down. After that I had another coffee and some Belvita cracker-cookies. I'll have a full dinner later.

Aches and Pains:
Had an odd, sharp pain in my left ankle at about the halfway mark. Had to stop and walk a few steps before running again. Pain went away, no known cause. Beyond that, I could tell by later in the run I was getting a little overheated. Not too bad but I could feel it creeping up. I was also fighting some stomach distress. Turns out Hawaiians like to relax and take things easy, not go run. Or at least Hawaiian pizza doesn't like to run. Aside from the bloat and the ankle, everything else felt fine.

No special gear beyond my Mission sunblock. Going to be making friends with that spray can all summer long.

Codename - The Heat Is On
Yep, summer is here. I'm sure we'll get some cool days or even cool mornings but we might as well declare that summer has arrived. In a few weeks, I fully expect the humidity to rear its ugly head. Unlike the video though, I don't expect to see any sax in my future.

Outbound - 32:14
Inbound - 33:21 (a full minute slower, likely due to the heat)
Finish - 1:05:36 (oddly enough, my second fastest time but still nearly a minute slower than my PR for this route)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Trail Run - Long Arm of the Law

Went out on "patrol" today on the @friendsdrht. It's been awhile since I've been on the trail and it was nice to get back. Even if it was to get a bead on how things looked in regards to litter and trespassers. Apparently there have been some people using the trail for all the wrong reasons so we're attempting to increase the amount of traffic in the area. As for today's run, I didn't see much. There were some deer, and only one beer can outside of the normal littering "zone." So all in all, it was pretty quiet.

For those in the area, I parked at Caledon and ran down 218 to pick up the trail. Running on 218 was hairy at best. I thought Butler Road was scary but 218 is by far worse. Bad enough that I cut through the field on my way back to save myself from jumping in the ditch for the millionth time to avoid getting my ass ran over. Apparently people don't drive 45 on that road.

Worst part of the run was when I went to pick up the beer can. I braced myself with one hand on a branch while I reached with the other hand. The branch broke and I caught myself on the tree trunk. With my thumb. While bending my thumbnail back. Needless to say, it hurt. And bled. And while I wanted to cry uncle and go back home, I kept going. After all, it's just a thumb, right?

Temps were around 45F to 50F. Skies were overcast. Wind was moderate at about 15 to 20 mph.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was yogurt and oatmeal with coffee. During the run I had a bottle of Hamemr Fizz and my hydration pack of plain water. I drank about half a bottle of the Fizz and maybe half a liter of plain water. Recovery was chocolate ZICO.

Aches and Pains:
No real pain during the run other than my thumb. The bleeding stopped and it hasn't turned colors yet but it still throbs.

Wore my Salomon hydration pack again and packed along my voice recorder and my camera. Wore my arm sleeves and gloves to stay warm but it wasn't sunny enough to need my sunglasses.

Codename - Long Arm of the Law
While I hold no legal authority to enforce the laws regarding the trail, I do have permission to be on the trail. Which is more than I can say about those that are illegally using the trail for other reasons. And by the way, I bet you didn't know that I have a degree in Criminal Justice and actually know what alligatoring means in an arson investigation.

Outbound - 9:56
Mile 2 - 14:23
Mile 3 - 13:08
Mile 4 - 14:13
Mile 5 - 13:03
Inbound - 7:00
Finish - 1:11:47

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Today's Run - Cloudy and Rocky

Wow. I crushed my PR for this route today. By like two and a half minutes. Pretty damn awesome over a 5 mile stretch of gravel road. All in all, I wasn't sure what to expect going out today. I didn't really want to go but I eventually convinced myself that I needed to get some miles in and it would be better than eating lunch. What? A fat guy can't starve himself every now and then? I promise I'll make up for it later by eating crappy food.

Okay, okay, I skipped most of the crappy food and just snagged some ham, cheese, hard boiled egg, and some of these Belvita cracker/cookie things. Anyway, the run went well despite some hardships. The gravel road has apparently been graded or raked or something because I hit more stingers (pointy rocks) today than I have in the past year of running period. Ouch. But I made it through. And on top of that, I was passed by several cars and not all slowed to avoid making more of a dust cloud than needed. Which means I only had a few times of obscured vision and rough breathing.

Outside of that, it was just another run full of deep thoughts and heavy breathing.

Temps were about 55F to 60F. The sun was out for nearly all of the run but there were some clouds in the sky. Wind was light, maybe 5 to 10 mph. Humidity was just about zero, which was interesting in the first mile as my shorts were stuck to my legs from static.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was oatmeal, yogurt, coffee, toast, and eggs. I took a PowerBar gel before the run. During the run I had a bottle of Hammer Fizz and a bottle of plain water. I finished almost all of both bottles. Recovery was chocolate ZICO followed by ham, cheese, a hard boiled egg, and Belvita crackers (or cookies). And another chocolate ZICO since my Keurig appears to have died and refuses to make me coffee.

Aches and Pains:
My right hamstring was tight later in the run but was otherwise fine. Rocks were the worst of the run but nothing too terrible.

Started my run with a short-sleeved shirt and gloves but eventually stripped them off around mile 3. Also wore my iPod shuffle.

Codename - Cloudy and Rocky
Sometimes the path you travel is painful and sometimes difficult to see where you are going. But eventually it will smooth out and the way will become clear.

Outbound - 27:37 (includes a pee break)
Inbound - 26:47
Finish - 54:24 (new PR by about 2:30)

Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon - Hospital Hill

What follows is a breakdown of the "dreaded" Hospital Hill. Located next to the Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, VA, this stretch of road is featured in both the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon (MCHH) and the VA Runner Blue & Gray Half Marathon (VARBAG). In both races, the hill appears to be daunting at first glance. But after spending some time on it, it's not really all that bad. Here's how you break it down into sizable chunks.

The first hurdle to getting over this hill is mental. And it's the biggest hurdle. My first time through the MCHH, this hill was all I could hear form those around me. Sure, the course is flat. Ugh, that hill is huge. But that's the only hill. Yeah. Right. Turns out the course isn't flat. At all. And it turns out the hill is certainly huge to some but isn't that bad. You see, the hill psyches you out before you even get there. You run by it and see it waiting for you, lurking there on the side street, just waiting to gobble you up.

The second hurdle is learning how to break it down into runnable portions. Bite-sized pieces if you will. The first portion is the section of road leading up to the hill. It's really nothing to think about but this is a great place to take a short walking break before you run up the hill. Catch your breath, grab some water, maybe a little fuel, and then get ready to rocket up the hill.

The second portion of the hill is really Part A of the hill itself. It starts easy around a curve and ends at the first cross-street on your right. This is easily runnable if you take your time, shorten your stride, and use your arms. When you see the cross-street on your right, take a short walk break.

Once you pass beyond the side street, you've moved into Part B. Start running again. This section is a little flatter but don't be fooled and go faster. When you get to the next side street at the stop sign, take another walking break.

On the other side of the intersection, you'll enter Part C. This part is steeper. If you need to, walk a few sections here. Walk to the fire hydrant. Or the power pole. Or the next crack in the road. Whatever mental or physical trick you need to get you there. This is the hardest section of the hill so be prepared to walk or run slower. And don't panic. You're almost there. Once you get to the next cross-street on your right, take another walking break.

Not too long though because you're now in Part D. This slowly curves around and is no steeper than the first two sections so run it nice and slow. There should be a water station at the top, so take your time and power through to the traffic light. Once you get to the light at Cowan, you've made it to the top of Hospital Hill. That's it, just four parts. Easy, hard, or somewhere in between, you've done it.

The third hurdle is to know what lies beyond the hill. In this case, Cowan Boulevard. A series of hills that will chew you up and spit you out if you aren't ready for them. Now these hills are really just some short rollers but they offer quite a challenge as they come right after Hospital Hill and in the final miles of the half marathon. So just when you've had enough, just when you think you're almost done, Cowan appears to smack your ass. But like Hospital Hill, you can't let it sneak up on you. Save some gas for these hills. They're short. It won't take long. And once you're over the Interstate, you're home free. Stretch out those legs until you hit the finish line. You can tackle these hills with a little planning and the knowledge that you've just dominated Hospital Hill.

The last hurdle is nearly as hard as the first. Having fun and learning to love the hill. I've done this hill three times in races and hated it every time. I've done it five times in training and hated it too, but by the third trip up, I learned to dislike it strongly. By my last trip, I had a mutual respect for the hill. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. It was manageable but not a killer. With time, I'll eventually learn to love the hill. But until then, I'll work at getting over it. After all, it's just a hill.

* Updated on 2013-05-17 to fix spelling errors.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Lumberjack Brethren

As seen on my run last week, some of my Lumberjack brothers removed some trees from our road. They were scary trees. Scary enough that I would subconsciously duck when I drove past them because I was afraid they would fall on me. Same thing when I ran by the trees.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Weekend Kayak - Water Logged

So my wife and I took our kayaks out for their inaugural trip. We went from the City Dock in Fredericksburg to the Little Falls Dock. It wasn't quite a straight trip since we sent upstream about a mile before heading back downstream. So from the City Dock to the Little Falls Dock was only about 4 miles but with the up and back portion, it ended up with a total of about 6 miles. For those locals out there, we went upstream and went around Brown's Island, the island that is under the old Route 3 bridge (William Street).

Various portions were very shallow, especially upstream from the City Dock. Even bottomed out in a few sections. But aside from that, it gradually got deeper and deeper. Saw lots of birds, from egrets/cranes to bald eagles to ducks to geese. Saw lots of turtles. Saw lots of fishermen. Saw only a few kayaks but plenty of boats, some going fast, some going slow. Saw lots of pilings along the edges of the river and even a few that looked like old man-made harbors or ports. Some place for old ships to moor. Old enough that I could see square nails.

Temps were about 60F to 70F. Winds were from the west at 10 to 15 mph so it made things even harder going upstream. Skies were clear. Water temp was likely around 50F. Some portions were cloudy, some clear enough to see the bottom.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was oatmeal, coffee, and yogurt. During the kayak trip, I drank a bottle of Hammer Perpeteum with some Hammer Gel mixed in. I also drank about half a bottle of Hammer Fizz. I ate two Jolly Rancher candies and felt guilty about it. Post-kayak meal was salad, two hard boiled eggs, and left over hash browns.

Aches and Pains:
About two minutes into the trip I smacked my finger on the side of my kayak. Hurt on and off for a while. My neck hurt when I got out of the kayak, but I'm not used to sitting and rowing for so long.

My blue Emotion Comet Kayak has been dubbed WATER LOG. Since I have a tendency to swamp my kayak and since I'm the Lumberjack, I figured it was a fitting name. My wife called her red kayak RED ROSS although I wanted to call it HEAVY FLO. Also had my paddle, life jacket, safety rope, river map, dry bag full of camera and clothes, water bottles, etc. One side note, my Smartwool socks worked great inside my New Balance Minimus shoes. Even after they got a little wet.

Codename - Water Logged
My original name for my kayak was going to be "The Lumberjack" but I didn't really like it. As I drove to town, the perfect name dawned on me. After all, don't lumberjacks put logs in the river to float them down to the sawmill?

PS - You can see the route here. It's classified as a swimming route but that's just because DailyMile wouldn't let me upload a GPX for rowing.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Saturday's Run - If you like it, follow it

Today's run is brought to you by the word "flexibility." Not the "sexy bendy" kind of flexible, the "go with the flow" kind of flexible. I put in 14 miles this week which nicely over my planned mileage of 10. My 11 LSD run for the weekend was going to be on the trails but then my wife and I hashed out some scheduling items around our errands and I ended up with something a wee bit better.

Hospital Hill.

For those of you that have run the Blue and Gray Half or the Marine Corps Historic Half, you know what hill I'm talking about. So today I ran up Hospital Hill 5 times. And back down 5 times. And before and after my hill repeats, I ran to and from the local YMCA. Just happened to be about 2 miles for the warm-up and cool-down. So in the end, it all worked out great. I had a nice jog to and from my workout session and put in a decent effort on the hill repeats. And while I would have been more than happy to pull a turn-around to follow the cute girl down the hill, I stuck to my plan. Along the way, I learned to break the hill down into sections that are easily runnable and over time I even managed to feel comfortable going up and down.

One other side note for you locals, I managed to give the Belmont Ferry Farm Trail a test drive. Saw it on my way out and ran part of it on my way back and it was nice. Certainly safer than running on Butler Road.

Temps were about 60F near the start but warmed to a nice 65F. There was a decent breeze blowing, maybe 10 to 15mph. Not really noticeable going uphill but noticeable going downhill. Sun was out and the sky was clear.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was toast, eggs, yogurt, and coffee. During the run I had my Salomon hydration pack full of water (1.5 L), a small flask with water, and a bottle of Hammer Perpeteum with Hammer Gel mixed in. After each hill repeat, I would take a swig of the Perpeteum. I'd drink my water as needed. And the small flask of water I put half a Hammer Fizz tablet in after my last repeat to drink. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite mixed with chocolate ZICO. Post-run meal was a salmon club, baguette, and iced tea from Panera.

Aches and Pains:
Nothing really hurt as I ran but the 2 miles to the hill helped warm me up. My outgoing pace was faster than I wanted but part of that was running on fear since Butler road is a bit hairy for pedestrians. My right hamstring was tight after the run and the medial side of my right knee was hurting too but again, nothing too major.

Wore my Salomon hydration pack and loved it even more on this run than my first run. I did not like how hard (actually impossible) it was to reach the side pockets on the bottom (under the arms). Outside of that, it held my fuel bottle, my small flask, my cell phone, my iPod Shuffle, my EpiPen, baby wipes, ID, a small BodyGlide, Hammer Fizz tube, and a few other things. And it didn't feel heavy at all.

Codename - If you like it, follow it
After getting a glowing smile from the lady going the other way, I suddenly began to create shirts in my head. Like "if you like it" on the front and "follow it" on the back. Or "stop staring" on the bottom of the back. You get the idea.

Mile Splits:
Mile splits are from RunKeeper and may not be accurate.
Mile 1 - 9:47
Mile 2 - 11:10
Mile 3 - 12:19
Mile 4 - 11:49
Mile 5 - 10:17
Mile 6 - 12:40
Mile 7 - 11:13
Mile 8 - 12:47
Mile 9 - 9:55
Mile 10 - 11:36
Mile 11 - 10:40

YMCA to Hospital Hill - 25:39
Up Hill 1 - 8:03
Down Hill 1 - 7:13
Up Hill 2 - 8:03
Down Hill 2 - 6:59
Up Hill 3 - 8:31
Down Hill 3 - 6:43
Up Hill 4 - 7:49
Down Hill 4 - 8:54
Up Hill 5 - 7:19
Down Hill 5 - 6:37
Hospital Hill to YMCA - 28:16
Finish - 2:10:11

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Cross Training

This past weekend, the entire family chipped in a bit of time to freshen up the front yard. We ended up splitting and replanting some day lilies the week before which left us with a not-so-pretty looking section under the trees. So this past Sunday I spent pretty much all day moving mulch around, cutting the grass, and killing bugs. Along the way I killed a small snake and a nasty yet resilient spider. One thing Reddit has taught me is to always confirm your kill.

Anyway, after a solid day of slogging around and sweating my buns off, I feel like I accomplished something. And along the way I got some nice cross-training in. Here's the end result:

Friday, April 06, 2012

Yesterday's Run - Lackadaisical

Just a short run today with the group at the Y. I've been neglecting them (and everything else) lately because of tax season but thankfully the end is near. Just a few more days of struggling to keep my sanity.

Today's run was easy and low key. Primary purpose was to give my new hydration pack a test drive. So far, I like it. It fits a bit tighter than my Nathan but doesn't slosh around nearly as much. And with all the gadgets and gizmos and zippers and doodads, I think I'll have enough to keep me busy for awhile.

Anyway, slow run, no pressure, just adding some miles and testing new gear.

Temps were 50F to 55F with low humidity and a slight breeze. Cloudy skies and a bit chillier than expected.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was oatmeal, eggs, toast, yogurt, and coffee. During the run, I had my Salomon hydration pack loaded with 1.5 L of water, nothing else. Recovery was chocolate ZICO. Lunch was a salad followed by a dessert of 2 cupcakes.

Aches and Pains:
None really, just felt mentally unmotivated and physically sluggish.

Tested my new Salomon hydration pack, the Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 5. Initial impressions are positive. Just need to put more miles on it to figure it all out and then I think it'll eventually replace my old Nathan HPL 020.

Codename - Lackadaisical
That word pretty much sums up how I felt during today's run. Kind of like "ho-hum, just do 3 miles and go take a shower." Meh.

Mile 1 - 10:25
Mile 2 - 10:46
Mile 3 - 10:51
Finish - 33:08

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Yesterday's Run - I'm a Lumberjack and I'm okay

Just an easy run to cook off some extra energy. I spent my morning in court for the first time. Well, technically I've been to court once for a tour and once for an "indoctrination" speech for new drivers. Since then, it's been a good 15 years since I've set foot in a court room. And this is the first time I've gone for any legal matter involving me. No, I wasn't in trouble. I saw a reckless driver, called the police, they didn't find him in time to pull him over. Since all they had was my word against his, they couldn't really do much. So I filed a civil complaint (or citizen's warrant if you prefer) against the driver. Which means I got to stand before a judge this morning and testify to what I saw the young man do. As expected, the charge was reduced and he had to pay a fine. Which is fine with me. He was punished for his deeds and it felt like the punishment fit the crime. I wasn't asking for him to be raked over the coals but I also didn't want him to walk away without anything.

After shaking in my boots before the judge I made the mistake of amping up even more with another coffee on the way home. Needless to say when I went for my run I felt like I was on fire. I wasn't really and didn't feel like I was moving that fast but my mind was flying down the road like a jet. There's other things on my mind too but the court room drama was front and center.

Along the way I saw some VDOT workers cutting down trees that have been teetering on the side of the road for some time. Feel much safer knowing they're gone. I mean, I even felt nervous running under the trees. Sometimes I'd duck when I drove under them, just waiting for them to fall over. So that was fun seeing my Lumberjack brethren taking a saw to a tree. Outside of that, the run was pretty sedate. Although I did see a fellow pedestrian. That was cool.

Temps were about 65F with a light wind. Mostly cloudy and even though the humidity felt low, there was a slight sprinkle of rain for the last half mile.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was coffee before court and an iced latte and breakfast burritos after court. Prior to the run I had a shot of Hammer Gel. During the run I had two bottles of Hammer Fizz. Recovery was chocolate ZICO followed by some Hammer Whey (mixed with coffee, ice, and ZICO) after my shower. Side note, the chocolate Whey isn't as good as the vanilla Whey (and the vanilla smells better too).

Aches and Pains:
My left ankle was stiff and sore this morning but everything felt okay during and after the run. My right hamstring was a little tight in the shower but nothing too terrible. I think it will continue to be a nagging ache for some time.

I went shirtless from the start today and I'm glad I did. I was also thinking in advance and used some Mission sun block on my head, shoulders, and arms before going out. I also took my phone so I could take pictures of my Lumberjack buddies.

Codename - I'm a Lumberjack and I'm okay
The fact that I specifically ran this route just to take a picture of some guys cutting down a tree should prove that I'm freaking crazy and you should never run with me.

Outbound - 20:55
Inbound - 20:08
Finish - 41:04 (2 and a half minute PR for this route)

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Yesterday's Run - Bouncy Bouncy

Nice day for a lunchtime run so I bolted out the door as soon as I could. Spent this morning crawling back into bed and I have yet again proven that my body has a clock inside of it. I don't know why, but if I look at a clock, tell myself how long I want to sleep, and go to sleep, I will wake up a few minutes (or seconds) before the end of that time. Yet again I did it this morning. I have no idea why or how it happens but it freaks me out when it does. I mean, it's like my body is telling me something.

Anyway, since work is hectic (to put it mildly) and I didn't want to freeze my tiddly-winks off this morning, I waited until lunch. Out the door I went and enjoyed the cool, crisp air. And oh how nice it was. Warmed up just enough that after a little more than a mile I was able to ditch my shirt and run topless. Much to the chagrin of my neighbors I'm sure.

Best part of the run? Finding the DailyMile sticker that Michele S. hid along the way. As I carried along to it's new hiding spot, I began to think of how much this was like geocaching. But for runners. Only on DailyMile. So then I started thinking about how I could carry other little tidbits of treasure around and leave them for people to find. Hmm. I think I'll stick with stickers for the moment. Oh, and just so you know, I did cheat a little bit last week. I drove the kids one morning and looked for the sticker while I was driving. But I didn't see it. I don't know how I missed it, but I did. So when I found it today, I was pleasantly surprised and didn't feel so guilty looking for it from my car. Although I did feel a bit blind because I missed it. Sheesh.

Outside of that, the run was pretty sedate. Except for traffic. I had to jump over the ditch at the other dead man's curve since two cars were going by in opposite directions. No problem with that but then I nearly got clipped at the end of the road where I turn around. It's a blind corner for both parties and thankfully we both slowed way the hell down when we saw each other. And that was it. Farm animals, wood smoke, and skulking critters in the leaves. The usual for a run on a country road.

Temps were about 65F but it felt cooler because of the light winds which were around 5 or 10 mph. Humidity was low and the sun was out.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was oatmeal, yogurt, coffee, water, toast, and eggs. Pre-lunch was just water. During the run I had two bottles of Hammer Fizz. Recovery was chocolate ZICO. Lunch was salad with leftover taco meat and corn with a dessert of two cupcakes (my daughter turned 8 yesterday).

Aches and Pains:
My left ankle hurt on and off through most of the run. Right hamstring hurt before and after the run but not much during the run. Outside of that, things felt fine.

No fancy gear.

Codename - Bouncy Bouncy
As I started my run I spotted a kid jumping on a trampoline. If I knew him or his family, I would have asked if I could have a turn. Instead I avoided being the possibility of arrest and just kept running.

Outbound - 33:31
Inbound - 34:51 (included a little extra time to hide the DailyMile sticker)
Finish - 1:08:22