Sunday, November 30, 2008

NCR Trail Marathon ‘n Stuff

Yesterday I ran the NCR Marathon with Coach. He was recovering from the JFK 50, so, I had a remote chance of keeping pace with him. Going out to the 13.1 mile turn around we were kicking 9 minute miles. On the return trip we slowed a bit and finished in a respectable 4:41. This is a well managed low thrills race presented by the Baltimore Road Runners. The race could be best described as a race for runners by runners. I did not see any cell phone talking; I pod wearing zombies that have seemed to infect the larger marathons. Everyone knew how to run through an aid station which was a welcome relief. The crowds were sparse due to the limited vehicle access to the trail which prevented the endless bombardment of "Eye of the Tiger" and "Rocky" music. Best of all I only saw one cow bell. Unfortunately this was being rung by a fellow Snail.

The race conditions were perfect, cool and sunny with a few refreshing breeze. The aid stations were well managed and placed about 3 miles apart. The Snails managed the Monkton Station stop which with the exception of that dam cow bell was the best one of the race. On the way out Coach and I were looking forward to seeing our friends. We were greeted as royalty as we approached the station. It was like we had a dozen individuals solely focused on our needs as we entered the aid station. When we were tiring on the way back, we counted down the miles to when we would see "Our Snails" as a way to make the miles seem shorter. On the return trip the snails once again fed and water us and sent us down the trail.

After leaving the snails for the last time we had about 2.5 miles of the trail and 2 miles on the road to go. The trail portion went fast but the uphill run road portion was a rude welcome home. My quads were fried, so we took a few short walk breaks during the last section of the course. We crossed the line and were quickly tended to by the finish line crew. A medal, handshake, foil blanket and bottle of water were given and we were directed to the school cafeteria for the post race festivities. There was ample food (chicken soup extraordinaire). All in all it was a very good day.

On the training front all is going very well. I continue to work with the Swim Coach and Personal Trainer. The Swim coach has me working on endurance and kicking drills while the PT is focusing on posture and core training.

I signed up for another Triathlon last week. The Nations Triathlon in D.C. I just could not skip a race so close to home.

Monday, November 24, 2008

JFK 50

Well a rookery (you had to be at the post race party to understand) of Snails completed the JFK 50 this weekend. All finished well, a few sore muscles for the runners and some thermo nuclear hangovers for the crews.

Any Ultra where nobody goes to the hospital is a successful one in my book.

I am truly proud of all the runners. We had a few newbies and seasoned veterans, who stepped up to the line and completed this difficult event. There was one common thread in their discussions – I am OK … How is everybody else doing? This only proves two things about Snails – We all lie and we care about each other.

After the race we all gathered for a well deserved post race party. Good food, ample supply of alcohol, and fine friends carried us into a night full of laughter and fun.

Kudos to all on a 2008 season well done! Time for a well deserved rest… you earned an extra large slice of pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving.

Next week we start training for the 2009 season.

P.S. I have never felt so good after a JFK 50. I may need to become the perpetual post race party planner.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

JFK 50 – Party Planner

Next weekend a heard of Snails will be heading to Hagerstown to do the JFK 50 miler. We have 9 brave souls running the event and 11 faithful supporters going to cheer them on. I decided not to run this year, so I will be among the supporters. I have volunteered to be the official post race party planner for the Snail Celebration. Unfortunately, my duties will require me to sleep in late and spend the day in a nice warm hotel preparing for the event. I may even need to get in a late afternoon nap just to be sure that I am fully able to fulfill my duties. It is a tough job, but I don't mind making a sacrifice for my friends.

In addition the required full bar featuring Guinness Stout and Single Malt Scotch, I will be serving my soon to be famous "Snail Aid" a sassy little concoction that is guaranteed to make the runners forget they ran.

I always have a problem with solid foods after a run. They just take up space that will be better filled with booze, but I am serving a selection of finger foods for them to nosh on:

  • Mini Sandwich Party Tray
  • Chicken Strips
  • Red Skin Potato Salad
  • Fruit Tray
  • Bread Bowl Dip  
  • Cookies
  • Buffalo Wings  
  • Bowl of Shrimp

    I will do my best to meet any post race craving the runners may have. It is their day and my chance to live up to the motto – "We are behind you all the way"

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sticker Shock -- Bill from the Physical Therapist

I received my first bill from the PT today. My portion of the cost runs about $15 per visit; a fee I think is fair. But looking at what they charge the insurance company is disgusting. None of my visits lasted more than a half hour and with the exception of the initial assessment they were mostly done on my own while the PT attended to other patients. I was fine with this since I am a bit of a gym rat and did not really need a full time overseer. A breakdown of a typical visits bill is presented below:

  • Therapeutic Exercise - $ 45
  • Neuromuscular re-ed $ 45
  • Functional Activity $ 45
  • Manual Therapy $ 45

Total for a visit - $180!!! What a racket – no wonder companies are being challenged to provide medical coverage when cost like these are standard.

$ 360 an hour for a massage of the knee and an ice pack! What a way to prove that the health care industry needs reform!

Reassessment and Planning

There is a Jesuit saying – "Without Refection There is not Learning". This is one of the few useful tidbits I picked up from paying Loyola College $40K for an "Executive MBA".

I have been back to "normal" training for two months – time to do some assessing of where I am and where I need to go. On the positive side:

  • I have lost slightly over 13 pound
  • I paced the last 14 miles of the Baltimore Marathon with only 3 weeks of running
  • I completed the Marine Corp and Harrisburg Marathon with little effort
  • I have engaged a swim coach to help me with the return to the water.
  • I had a superior VO2 Max test (more on this later, once I figure out what all the numbers mean)
  • I hired a personal trainer to kick my ass into shape
  • Over the past 2 months, I am averaging 5.5 hours a day working out
  • I am far in the lead of my company's Shape up the Nation competition

On the work needed side of the equation:

  • My current weight is still way too much. I am carrying 173 pounds on a 5-10 frame. According to the numbers measured at the gym, I am 24.9% fat! Obviously, this is far too much for me to be carrying on a 100 mile run or an IM Tri. The Trainer has set an intermediate goal of 156 pounds which would be still a whopping 18% FAT. Being an over achiever I want to be in the single digits by Louisville IM. Diet will be real important and beer and booze will be a off the menu … I will only drink post races (I need my Scotch) and while in Vegas … I need to sin in Sin City. …. I wonder if Hammer has considered a beer flavored version of Heed.
  • I have always found that the best things for you are the most unpleasant… The best tasting foods are usually the worst things on the menu… taking the stairs is better than the elevator … Running a marathon on Sunday beats watching football on the boob tube. In grad school I begged my way into the hardest classes outside my major to challenge myself. I need to put this philosophy to work and put more effort into the swim.
  • I need to start lifting more. Once again this is something I don't like to do but it needs to be done.
  • The VO2 testing revealed that I am a very efficient runner. But … I shut down the test just when I reached the Aerobic Threshold. This is a sign that I run in the comfort zone but when things get painful I quit. Sounds like the answer to my failures at Umstead in the past two years. I need to work out harder. Longer workouts provide only marginal gains since these are just doing more of the same. It took the VO2 Max testing for me to realize that I can't improve by just doing more of the same thing. Starting today pain will be my friend.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pure Addiction

I just signed up for another Ironman Distance Triathlon -- the ChesapeakeMan Ultra Triathlon. Summer 2009 is going to be a bit busy. By this time next year I will be either a lean mean triathlon machine or a broken wreck. Time will tell.

I also made my hotel reservation for the Marine Corp Marathon. Sometimes it is harder to get a room in DC than getting into this race.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Harrisburg Marathon Race Report

This Race Rocks!!! Five Stars in every aspect … I will be back for as long as I am able to run!

Always last in a race report is the thanking of the volunteers – Well at Harrisburg they deserve to be first. The volunteers were the best. I would put them in the same caliber as Umstead. This is a very high standard to meet in my book. The course was a series of loops from City Island to the east side of Harrisburg. Nice scenic course but the winds were brutal for the sections along the Susquehanna. The course was very flat with the exception of some challenging hills in the 18-20 mile areas. I like hills but it is just cruel to hide them in the back side of the course.

The only complaint I have is that the mile 16 aid station ran out of cups … so there was no water for Jim at this stop. A minor problem that I am sure will be corrected next year.

I ran the course in my heavy trail shoes to provide extra support for my knees. Overall I feel very good with only one small blister cause by a foot taping error. As for the finish, I completed the course in 4:44 and change. I am happy with this performance because I was there to get some hours on my feet in preparation for the Angle.

Next stop – The NCR Marathon

P.S. Does the fact that I am writing this while watching the Ironman Coeur d'Alene on TV indicate that I have a mental disorder when it comes to endurance events? I need help—Send Scotch!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing to Excess

Today, I entered 2 more triathlons – The Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon Combo package. That's right … I am going to do back to back triathlons – a Sprint race on Saturday and an Olympic distance race on Sunday.
My 2009 (October 08 to October 09) plans include:

  • 4 Marathons
  • 2 50 mile Ultras
  • Umstead 100 miler – Ummie and I do battle for a third time… AKA Ummie must die!!!
  • 9 Triathlons

I will probably throw in a few more local marathons just for training. Good God! – I should be permanently banned from!