Friday, June 28, 2013

Swamp Thing

Had planned on hitching a ride to my wife's school with her this morning but I didn't sleep well last night so I kept my lazy ass in bed. Turns out I didn't sleep well after that anyway so maybe I should have let the bike win instead of the bed.

But hey, at least I got my ass out of bed. Eventually.

Ride was fairly uneventful other than twice I actually went into traffic and signaled a turn. Thankfully I wasn't creamed. Not that I was worried I would be but I'm still not as brazen on a bike as I am on foot. Crossing a major highway on foot is nothing compared to being on two wheels. Guess I'll eventually grow a pair of bike balls.

I swear I must have a swamp thing because I always seem to be taking pictures of them.

Temps were about 80F to 85F. Humidity was high. Sun was out in full. Slight breeze.

Fluids and Fuel:
Pretty much went from bed to bike so no breakfast. During the ride I had a half bottle of Hammer Perpeteum and a swig of my frozen latte. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite and my frozen (but melted) latte.

Aches and Pains:
None really.

Nothing terribly special.

Took my .380 for a change today. Halfway through the ride I realized I should have loaded a round in case I needed it. Once I got home I realized I didn't even have the safety on. Guess it was good I left it unloaded. Also took a spare magazine and my ID. Everything rode well in my jersey. Gun got a smidge sweaty but the holster took most of the moisture.

Finish - 47:34 (total time on bike was 54:39)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Natty Light and Walkers

Decided to run my planned route from yesterday, this time with no time involved. I keep forgetting that I need to take a moment and smell the sweat instead of just plowing ahead mindlessly through my training. So today I wore my watch but spun it the other way so I couldn't see it and didn't even use the stopwatch. So while I know it took me roughly 45 minutes, I have no idea what the exact time was and I just ran off feel instead.

Along the way I saw a ton of Natural Light cans. I'm used to seeing empty beer cans in the ditch but man, somebody must have had a party recently. There's also a trailer that was torn out, a new house being built, and a near-neighbor washing her car. Also managed to pass a walker out there which was nice. Had a short but pleasant exchange.

And that was pretty much it.

The creek at the bottom of the hill:

This is my "damn it's hot" face:

Temps were about 85F. Humidity was moderate to high. Wind was light at about 10 to 15 mph. Sky was overcast with barely any sun.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was four waffles, yogurt, and iced coffee. During the run I had a bottle of ice water. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite and an iced latte.

Aches and Pains:
None really.

No special gear.

Took my small pepper spray and cell phone. Phone was just for pictures. Both rode well in the pockets. I did modify the pepper spray (both large and small) to prevent the labels from coming off. Turns out the sweat slowly erodes the paper-like labels. So I just added some packing tape to keep it waterproof.

None since I didn't use my watch.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Photo Catch-Up

Thought I'd post some photos that I've neglected to post.

From the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon:

From the Second Annual First Annual Father's Day Fat Ass 50k:

From our trip to Hilton Head:

One of the many alligators we saw on the trip:

From our trip to Hunting Island near Beaufort, SC:

And we saw the ruins of this old church on our way home:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bad Marsh Night Ultra 50k Race Report

Race Report:
Yep, my second DNF of the year. Not that I'm proud of it but I'm happy that I made the decision to quit early. There were so many reasons and nearly all of them were mental. I just wasn't feeling it. I knew I had a lovely wife waiting for me at the hotel room. I knew I had a long drive ahead of me the next day. I wasn't really having fun anymore. I had no vested interest in finishing the race. I knew when I registered that my chances at finishing were low.

I also had quite a few physical maladies that played into my decision. Really, they just added more weight to the scales in favor of bailing out. First, I was still recovering from last weekend's Second Annual First Annual Father's Day Fat Ass 50k. My feet were sore. My hips hurt. My knees hurt. My back hurt. My stomach did not like Hammer Heed. I gradually built a deficit of electrolytes and fluids. I wasn't going to make the 8 hour cut-off. I was getting overheated.

The laundry list of complaints and excuses continues. But you get the idea. I just wasn't mentally or physically going to finish this race no matter what I threw at it. So I quit. I was tempted to go for another lap but I realized that would just be a waste of time. I didn't need to practice walking at night, I needed to practice running at night. And I wasn't running. So I just walked away while I was still ahead.

It was a tough decision but once I made it, I was easy. And once I was sure of it, I felt good about it.

As for the race itself, it was a pretty low-key affair. There were roughly 100 runners, more than double last year's amount, and everyone was happy and chatty at the start. A little too chatty but I dealt with it. The race director made sure everyone was in place on time and gave us our pre-race directions. There were no mentions of alligators or mosquitoes but plenty of talk about elevation.

Speaking of elevation, there was none. Compared to the DRHT 50k and the Seashore 50k, this course is even flatter. There were a few dips in the course but nothing more than what you'd find in your pancake. The one hill, yes, it was a hill, measured about 10 feet. And it was maybe 50 feet wide at the base. So a quick up and a quick down. That's it. Seriously. Crossing the road was about the next biggest hill. This is the Lowcountry of South Carolina and there's nothing there but sand dunes. In fact, I saw sand dunes with bigger hills than this course.

The terrain is nearly all dirt with some pine needles, some sand, and a few very short sections of broken pavement. Having been a golf course in the past life, the trail was the old golf cart path with the pavement removed. There were a few sections that were narrow single-track through mildly tall grass but most of it was double track and well maintained.

There were plenty of bugs out but that seemed to be the norm for the general area. The mosquitoes would suck you dry and carry you off if you didn't lather up in some sort of repellant. As a spectator you could have stood downwind of the runners and gotten a good coating just moving through the cloud of bug spray. The spiders were huge at night and their glowing eyes creeped me out as normal. So did the flying mosquitoes. Turns out their eyes reflect light too. The millipedes are huge too but I only saw one so felt pretty safe. The cockroaches are faster than you'd expect so run past them when you see them or they may pass you if you walk. Seriously.

I saw no snakes and no alligators and only one cat. The Super Moon was pretty cool and I was able to navigate to the finish without a light over the past quarter mile. I figured if I was dropping, I might as well enjoy myself and the view. The Spanish Moss was super cool to run under and looked just as pretty in the light of a headlamp. Caught myself looking up just as much as down. Thankfully I didn't trip.

The course is a 4.5 mile loop that you run seven times to get the full 50k. I made it four loops. There's one aid station at the Start/Finish area with the usual fair of drinks and snacks. Most runners set up their chairs and their own aid stations just past this so they could get their own stuff. The porta johns were a tenth of a mile or so past this and doubled as the large truck parking area. Turns out there's a seriously low branch that keeps the big cars out. Everyone else parked near the Start/Finish area. The course winds through many neighborhoods and you get to see the backyard of hundreds of homes. Other than one small group of annoying kids that decided to move the course marking, everyone seemed to be pretty nice as we ran past. The course marking was minimal but as long as you pay attention the first few loops you won't get lost. Although one lady clearly had trouble as she passed me and couldn't find the path. There are also a few road crossings that were not patrolled by a course official but worked as a great time-check for runners.

All in all, a nice race in a wonderful town. I'd love to go back and actually spend more time there so I can finish the race and still have fun on vacation.

Temps were about 85F to 90F. Humidity was high. The sun was out but there were a few clouds too. Hardly any wind. Full moon came out as the sun set.

Fluids and Fuel:
This pretty much broke the race for me. I've had Hammer Heed before but never this much. Turns out my body much prefers Hammer Fizz. I had some salted potatoes, Hammer Heed, plain water, flat soda, and that's about it. My final lap I had a Jersey Mike's sub since I knew I was going to DNF. Recovery was a hot shower and a beer.

Aches and Pains:
Still stiff and sore from the week before but most of the pain was in my hips, back, and bottoms of my feet.

Went very light for the race. Just my water bottle, a head lamp and flashlight when the sun went down, and that was it. Only wore my shirt on the last lap.


Lap 1 - 54:46
Lap 2 - 56:53
Lap 3 - 1:06:25
Lap 4 - 1:28:42
DNF - 4:26:47

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Animal Story by William Richard

William had one of his stories "published" in his school's literary magazine. Here it is for your reading pleasure.

Animal Story
by William Richard

Once there was an alligator named Mr. Chompers. He eats grass. His dessert is fish. He lives at the Richard's house. He likes to play games and he loves the police. He loves books. William took Mr. Chompers to the library to borrow more books. William checked out books for Mr. Chompers with his library card. His favorite books are Junie B. Jones books.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Small garden update

When we got back home form our trip, I was pleasantly surprised to see my tomato plants had taken off. They're growing much better than expected!

When you look at the grid below, count 1-4 in the first row, 5-8 in the second, etc. until you get to 16 in the bottom right corner. My tomatoes are in square 7 and 10. When we left, they looked smaller than squares 6 or 11. And look at them now!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

2013 Run For The Dream Race Report

The long race weekend started with our trip down to Williamsburg. Things went much better this year with packet pick-up and the race expo. Signs were pretty clear as to where you needed to go to get your stuff. But maybe it was just my prior experience that helped. We got packets for Elizabeth and Yvonne who were running the 8k and for myself we got packets for both the 8k and the half marathon. I first learned about the Patriot's Challenge (running both races and getting a special third medal) last year after I finished my half. While I was upset, I was determined to correct that problem this year. And I did. I had no time goal for either race and was mostly intent on surviving the heat and finishing both. I wanted my damn special medal.

Some photos from the trip:

The 8k Race:
Elizabeth, Yvonne, and I started out together and ran past William and my father. After that, Elizabeth and I sped up a bit. We hung together taking breaks as needed and doing our best to enjoy ourselves despite the extreme heat. When we cleared the three and a half mile mark, I told her to go ahead and finish the race if she wanted. I managed to hang with her for another mile before she started to pick up her pace a bit. I was still able to keep her in sight but she still finished ahead of me. And yes, I did try to beat her but she was just too fast for me and out-kicked me at the end.

My little speed racer:

And while she may not be speedy, she's damned determined:

Start - 2:20
Mile 1 - 11:36
Mile 2 - 12:30
Mile 3 - 13:02
Mile 4 - 12:24
Finish - 59:37

The Half Marathon:
I made my merry way to the start line with the same warm-up walk I did last year. Except I didn't need a warm-up. The key to success on a race day where the temps are nearly as high as the humidity is to go slow and don't overheat. Once your body overheats, it takes extra energy to cool off, energy you don't want to waste getting to the finish line.

So I made my way to the start line with nothing but a little coffee in my belly. Coffee that eagerly wanted to get out of my belly. And about half way through my mile and a half walk, I began looking at each tree I passed wondering it this would be the one I used. Thankfully I was able to make it to the stadium, find the bathroom, and drop my load.

Now, this paragraph is going to be graphic so skip it if poop scares you. As many runners know, taking a dump in the woods isn't fun. But when you need to go, you need to go. You feel great after you go but your ass starts to chafe after a few miles. I've found in the past that a baby wipe helps prevent this but it doesn't cure it. Alcohol wipes make things worse. And paper towels will work in a pinch. So when I recently read a post by somebody who had found the magic cure for this type of chafe, I read it eagerly. Yes, I read about some dude wiping his ass with eager abandon. But it's only because I want to cure myself from this affliction. Anyway, he basically said: take a dump, wash your butt, dry your butt, apply A+D ointment. So I did everything but apply A+D (because I had none). And it worked. And yes, I followed his directions and washed my hands. No need to prevent butt chafe if I'm only going to make myself sick. It was tricky to squirt water with one hand and wash with the other, but through some twisting and turning, I was able to give myself a bit of a "combat bidet." Thankfully I was alone in the bathroom.

With that done, I made my way to the start line where I chilled out and chatted a bit with one of the military guys from Team Wounded Wear that did the "No Man Left Behind" drill in the 8k. They were amazing. I'm thinking they need to do an ultra though to show everyone how amazing they really are. Also at the start line was the guy advertising the Body exhibit at the local science museum. Not exactly what I want to see so early in the morning.

The Body guy:

And then it was time to line up and get to running. There were fewer people than I expected at the start, but I think the heat kept a few people away. I started as slow as I could and just did my best to take in the scenery. This being my third year, I knew the basics of the course and knew what to expect. So when somebody complained about a hill early on, I just chuckled and said there were more coming. As we cruised out of the historic district in Williamsburg, we made our way along side the railroad tracks. I felt a bit hot so I slowed down a little (or at least it felt like I slowed down) and I just took my time. The gravel portion near Mile 5 was super-smooth this year and felt just like pavement. Actually reminded me of a tar and chip job but without the tar. This is also the worst part of the course visually as you run behind a shopping center. Thankfully there are plenty of spectators and volunteers before and after to keep you going.

After the shopping center is what I call the Hill of Death. It's long, gradual, and not really that bad. But it'll sneak up on you if you aren't careful. And while this was my slowest running ever at this event, I know the heat played a huge factor. I mean, a 30 degree difference can really knock you down a notch. So anyway, the Hill of Death looks doable and can suck you in. It's what lies after it, the Colonial Parkway, that will grind you up and shit you out if you aren't careful. This was the first year I didn't turn my feet into hamburger on this road and the first year I managed every mile with cool efficiency. Notice I didn't say I was fast, I was just efficient. I walked up the hills and ran down the hills and ran as much of the flats as I could. I stopped for water and cooled off in the breeze when I could but generally just tried to keep my shit together.

Unfortunately for some runners, this is where the carnage began. Every year I've seen runners not able to handle the course, mostly due to heat or hydration. Well, the last two years the temps were about 65F and this year was about 90F. Yup, people didn't adjust accordingly. So I started to see medical teams helping out dehydrated and overheated runners along the side of the course. Some looked okay while others were getting a hasty ride to the medical tent. I kept grinding away and eventually made it to the beast of a hill at Mile 11. You come down a nice, gentle downhill where you can run the tangent while everyone else stays left. Silly runners. At the end of this down is a sharp up and around an on-ramp. I hate this part. It's killed me every year except for this year. this year, I somehow made it up just fine.

Well, shortly after this hill, I had to spring into action to help another runner. Okay, I didn't exactly spring into action, I just saw a guy in front of me make his way to the grass fairly quickly. I figured he had a rock in his shoe but he laid down with a pretty good grimace on his face. I got there, stopped, and asked if he needed anything. He said he was cramping up. So began my poor triage of the patient. It wasn't until I was a good half mile down the road that all the first aid training I've had came rushing back to me. As the guy was laying there, I massaged his calves and let him drink what was left of my Hammer Fizz. He was cramping pretty bad and no sooner did I start my treatment than a first responder arrived. The traffic cop didn't quite look comfortable in knowing what to do so I just kept doing my thing of massaging the guy's calves and trying to keep the mood light. I think he said his name was Kevin but it may have been Gavin. I think his bib number was # 5286. But I could be wrong. That's part of where I went wrong. Instead of getting his basic info, vitals, etc., I just rubbed the dudes legs. Anyway, the medical team arrived within minutes and took over so I went on my merry way.

Without any water. But I was fine with that, there was another aid station ahead and I saw my dad right before I got there. I was also on a bit of a high, probably something along the lines of survivor's guilt but more like survivor's euphoria. As I went through the ROTC kids, I gave one a high five and went to give the next kid one down low and pulled out the "too slow" on him. Gave us all a great laugh and helped me finish with a positive attitude. It was also near the end that somebody recognized me from the DRHT 50k last year which is always a little scary. I can never understand how people know who I am.

And that was it. I finished, met up with the rest of the family (who had quite the adventure trying to get to the finish to see me), got a chocolate milk, got a beer, and went back to the hotel for a shower and some food.

My race bling; (l to r) the Half Marathon, the Patriot's Challenge, and the 8k:

Temps were about 80F at the start but were easily 90F or 95F by the finish. Humidity was high. Wind was moderate. Sun was out but the course was mostly covered in shade.

Fluids and Fuel:
Before the run was half a coffee. During the run was water and Hammer Fizz. I think I had about three tablets of Hammer Fizz and used all but one water station. Only fuel was two shots of Hammer Gel, one at the start and one around Mile 10.

Aches and Pains:
My right knee hurt after I finished but everything else felt fine during the run.

No special gear but I did wear my Oil Creek 100k singlet.


Start - 2:06
Mile 1 - 11:39
Mile 2 - 12:08
Mile 3 - 11:28
Mile 4 - 12:22
Mile 5 - 11:32
Mile 6 - 12:39
Mile 7 - 12:07
Mile 8 - 13:18
Mile 9 - 14:11 (stopped to pee)
Mile 10 - 12:33
Mile 11 - 12:09
Mile 12 - 16:09 (stopped to help an injured runner)
Mile 13 - 13:20
Finish - 2:46:43

2011 Run For The Dream Race Report
2012 Run For The Dream Race Report