Monday, April 13, 2015

2015 Cherry Blossom Volunteer Report

Once again, I didn't get into the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, but I thought I'd make good on my desire to volunteer more this year.  Fortunately, the CB has a really good volunteer signup system, and I had a few choices:

1.  Show up at local area airports to pick up some of the elite athletes flying into DC, which would then involve me driving people I didn't know in DC traffic.  That seemed REALLY bad.  As in, "Elite Athletes traumatized because CUCB volunteer drove according to the laws of each runner's country of origin."

Maybe I shouldn't have had all that cough syrup before picking you up . . . .

2.  Hand out bibs/goodie bags to runners.  At first blush, fun.  Then again, LOTS of interacting and opportunities for paper cuts.  Also, there might be a time where a person's bib would not be there, and I wouldn't be able to hide my not caring face.

Oh well, more sleep tomorrow morning for YOU!

3.  Security.  Primarily standing around directing people to the NEXT security person.

Can I be loaded for this job?  HAHA TOO LATE LUNCHTIME BEERS ALREADY.

THIS was something I could handle, and, fortunately, there were still slots available.  I chose the opening day of the Expo, Friday 10 April, from 2-6pm.

I showed up to the National Building Museum armed only with Shakespearean bon mots and insults if anyone (literally!) got out of line.

This is going to be a SHORT blog entry, so let's just get to My Afternoon.

1:50pm Depart for National Building Museum.

1:55pm Arrive at National Building Museum (it's quite near my office).

2:00pm Get lost in NBM.

2:01pm Find the volunteer room (2nd floor, as it turns out).  Orientation has started already.

2:02pm:  Notice that everyone has on these REALLY cool looking long sleeve volunteer shirts, and I don't.

2:03pm:  Stew during volunteer roll call.

2:04pm:  Fret because they haven't gotten to me on the roll and I still don't have a shirt.

2:05pm:  Work up courage to ask random volunteer where they got a shirt.  Get (loudly) directed like 10 feet away to A GIANT PILE OF SHIRTS.  Oops.  Good thing the coordinator stopped with the roll call so EVERYONE COULD WATCH OUR EXCHANGE OMG SO EMBARRASSED.

I wasn't wearing my compression socks, ok?  SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.

2:09pm:  I am literally the LAST name the coordinator calls out, but I'm now officially "signed in" as a volunteer (to get your guaranteed entry, you have to be checked-in and checked-out).  So this was a good thing.

2:10pm:  Coordinator leads us out of the room and starts to "place" us around the NBM.  At first, he asks for about 6 "very loud" people to volunteer.  But, I'm (1) injured with a very sore knee, and (2) recovering from The Plague, so I keep my mouth SHUT.

2:15pm:  We get to the bottom a long stairway.  It goes up pretty far, hits a large landing, and then turns around to go farther upwards.  I'm in the back of the pack, and when he asks for one volunteer to just stand . . . at the landing . . . for 4 hours . . . I moved into position without saying anything.  Mine.

This landing is MINE.

He sent another lady past me, farther up the stairs, but she would have to do a LOT more traffic direction up there.  As near as I could tell, my job was to tell people who were already walking up the stairs to:

1.  Keep walking up, and
2.  Try not to go down.

I got this.

2:20pm.  Shift starts.  I will have to stand here until 6pm.

2:21pm.  Knee starts hurting.  I realize there is nowhere to sit.

2:22pm.  Off to bathroom so I can put on my long sleeve t-shirt and take off the shirt I wore.  Spend 5 minutes in bathroom pondering whether a bathroom selfie at a museum would be cool or douchey.  Decide that I look too fat to photograph, and go back to assigned post.

I did have a bit of scruff, so this isn't far off.  Also, if you didn't like "The Critic," we have a PROBLEM.
2:27pm:  Back to post.  I now have a person assigned down BELOW me at the bottom the stairs, and ABOVE me up at the top the stairs.  At this point, my job now involves keeping people from going halfway up the stairs and then simply NOT KNOWING WHAT TO DO.

2:30pm:  People are starting to trickle in now, and I've got to think of something to get them moving upstairs.  The stairway is KINDA dark.  And there's a big window ABOVE me with light shining in . . . .  

Oh, why not:
This worked on a decent basis with anyone who was older than their 20s.

2:45pm:  Expo is (almost) open, but people are moving into the building to be there early.  

Woot!  I was spotted (I think we saw each other at the same time) one half of Twins Run In Our Family, the future BQer Malinda Ann Hill!  She (of course) had her stylized Twins Run handbag/gear, although I didn't meet her flat sister.  It was nice to chat her up quickly while I pulled double duty telling the masses of people who were walking upstairs to, in fact, continue in the direction they were going. She wrote me back later that evening after a full day of Expo shopping, mingling, and schmoozing (she's one of the CUCB 2015 Bloggers).

So kind!  That Twin is top banana!

3:00pm:  More and more people are coming in when -- wahoo!  It's Kim, of Kim Runs Miles with Smiles!  She's with her friend Lynn, who snapped a quick pic of us (this will give a nice view of the volunteer t-shirts!).  I had remembered Lynn from Kim's Across the Bay 10K race report, and that Lynn had gutted out a difficult race, finishing it even when things looked dicey.  Lynn (and of course Kim) were SUPER fired up over the CUCB, and the Expo.  Kim was picking up bibs for like 6 different racers, so they had to move along after a few minutes of us chattering at each other. Kim's also a 2015 CUCB blogger, so look at her and Malinda being overachievers and arriving early.

3:10pm:  Post-meetup letdown.  People coming in more and more now.  I'm really struck by how many people have their noses in their phones.  It's interesting to see from the perspective of someone who isn't able to use one at the moment.

3:15pm:  My knee hurts.  Still nowhere to sit. Almost 3 more hours to go.  Every so often, we'd stop the line because the upstairs was just packed for a bit.  I took the opportunity to tell folks this was "stoppage time" and that this was instance X of stoppage.  The stoppages themselves were never that long, and off folks would go again. Clearly, the people in bib distribution were working their bootys off.  But, my knee hurts.

Public face:  Yay, happy happy!  Inside face: 

3:40pm:  My first complaint!  A guy passes by me on his way up the stairs, and snarls, "You people really need to have this at the Convention Center, these lines are too long."  While I was halfway impressed he even thought enough that I had an IOTA of say with ANYONE connected to the CUCB, I just stared back at him.


Actually, that's not true.  I smiled fairly broadly, and just gave him this IRL:

Otherwise known as "bite me" in Japanese.

3:45pm:  Meet another Twitter friend!  This time it was fellow chocoholic and morning runner Leah, who actually spotted me before I saw her (I got a bit of a thrill from being "recognized").  It turns out that apparently it had happened a bit more than I thought, once I got to my Twitter/Instagram mentions that night.  Regardless, with Leah, It was nice to have a quick second for a hug, chat, a laugh or two, and a hug goodbye.  Leah was psyched to run CUCB, and gave me a quick heads-up about the lines outside the building.  It was helpful to know that people might be surly, and that they'd need an EXTRA HEAPING DOSE OF TAI HUMOR OMG SO FUNNEH HAR HAR HAR 

No, seriously, Leah regaled me with getting into the NBM, as well as just training tales leading up to the race.  It was nice to meet!

4:00pm:  Halfway there to a guaranteed entry into the 2016 Cherry Blossom, and my knee is Not Impressed with me.  Ouch.  Lots of phone staring, still, from runners coming upstairs, and a curious amount of people RUNNING the stairs.  "SAVE YOUR QUADS!  SAVE YOUR HAMSTRINGS!" People smile, and keep running.  Ah, runners.

4:01pm:  Never mind the knee -- look who's found me in the stairwell!  It's M!

Pretty sure she and I will be the only people to get this joke...

No, it's M of ReadEatWriteRun, here to listen to Bill Rodgers give a talk.  She's positively coiled for her first Boston Marathon, so we talked Boston, as well as my various lung/knee maladies. She had some good ideas for my pain, although I think we essentially settled on my needing to be better at stretching my hamstrings.

4:20pm:  More jokes.  More attempts at jokes.  More questioning people if they had their bib numbers at the ready, and if they'd filed their taxes yet.  I should point out that while there were a lot of folks staring at their phones, I was pretty pleased by the number of smiles and laughs from folks. 

4:30pm:  Standing.  Knee is trying to Google family law attorneys to divorce from my leg.  Over the course of the afternoon, I've had a few questions, like people who want to downgrade to the 5K (answer:  just get in the 5K corral with your 10-miler bib, and it will register you as a 5K runner). It feels nice to actually know some answers and everyone is very appreciative. They're also staring at my shirt a LOT, so kudos to whomever designed it this year.

4:45pm:  More standing.  Found out later that someone who follows me on Instagram saw me, later mentioning that they'd noticed I'd placed my Annapolis 10-Miler jacket on the central bannister (it prominently displayed -- I had to show my fellow runners I was capable of doing this distance!).  But that reminds me - if you see me, or THINK you see me -- ask if I'm me!  I'll be happy to tell you!  And if it's not me, then I'm sure that person won't mind.  Just tell them that I'm a made-up person from the internet who loves his pseudonym and dick jokes.  I'm sure they'll understand (or they'll mace you).

4:50pm:  More more standing.  But wait! A new kind of crisis!  A guy did NOT have his bib number.  My phone was low on battery, but using the CUCB app, we quickly looked up his number, and I sent him (up) the stairs.  Whew.  Beer me.

5:00pm:  BEAKERTUDE!  The eponymous Running Lonely of the aptly named Running Lonely Blog appears in my stairwell with the Solar Powered Pig!

Time for (you guessed it) a Pig-Powered selfie: 

5:20pm:  Closing in on being done.  The skies are getting darker.  The crowds have definitely thinned somewhat, from the KA-RAZY levels I saw from 3-4:30pm.

5:45pm:  Woot!  My relief person appears!  Except she isn't wearing a volunteer t-shirt.  I send her off to the volunteer room to get one.

6:00pm:  Shift over.  I brief my relief person on what to do, have her download the CUCB app to her phone, and skedaddle off to the rumpus room to check out, so I'll be listed as having done my entire shift (and thus eligible for a guaranteed CUCB entry!).  

6:05pm:  Pass on the Expo.  I'm TIRED.  Spent.  I walk back to my office, and coordinate dinner plans.  But I'm . . . psyched.  I did my thing.  I volunteered at a race, and hope to do a LOT more of this stuff this year.  I'd love to volunteer at an Ultra, and even a "regular" race too.  This was just plain rewarding.  I saw friends, met new ones, and got LOTS of hugs/pics/great chat time.

One final thing -- it was really rewarding seeing all the different body types that come out to these races.  It wasn't beanpole after beanpole coming to get their bibs.  I saw people of every age group, ethnicity, and body shape.  Everyone (except Surly Guy) seemed to be in a fine mood.  I really suggest you kick in and do a shift at a race of any size and see what life is like from the other side of the starting line.

Happy running, all.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

2014 Year End Best & Worst Lists

All the cool kid bloggers seem to be doing "Year End List" posts.  

So I thought, as a #RunBlahgger, that I'd do a 2014 Year End post as well. 

A what kind of post?
Yes, I own a calendar.

No, I'm not kidding.
I mean, I KNOW -- it's 2015 already.  Actually, it's freaking APRIL as I write this.

Hey . . . I'm a RunBLAHGGER. Who the hell cares WHEN I post something?

Screw it.  So first thing's first . . . I (mostly) stand by my December 2013 year-end gear endorsement.  There's just a couple of notable exceptions and things I've changed up.

For instance, I wrote this in December 2013:

Wrist:  Based on a recommendation from the must-read-all-the-time DCRainmaker, I went with a Garmin 610 a couple of years ago.  It's my everyday watch.  I wear it to Court, and leave it on for races.  I've gotten quite adept at charging it at night, so I never worry about having a paperweight on my wrist.  The 610 is an epic watch.  I don't use a bunch of the bells/whistles it has, so I probably could have gotten away with a Garmin 210, but the touchscreen of the 610, wireless data transfer, and everyday wearability of it makes it a real must-have for me.

Then, of course, my Garmin 610 Watchband broke over (and over) again.  It actually had snapped at least once even when I'd endorsed it.  After the debacle of the JFK 50-Miler pre-race breakage, enough was effing enough.  


I sold it on eBay.

I've since bought a Garmin 220, and so far, so good.  Unfortunately, I'm injured right now (that's another blog entry), so I haven't logged a lot of miles on it.  I realize I could/should have switched companies, but I just can't quit Garmin.

Aw, Garmin Connect, c'mere you big lug. 

SO.  Let's talk about some specific best/worsts of 2014:

Best/Worst Training Locales of 2014

Best place for a long run:  I still think the Mount Vernon Trail is my favorite, because you've got port-a-potties, water fountains, and for much of the way, a lovely view of DC.  You can run along the trail, enjoy the views, and know that just across the river are some of the most corrupt people in this nation, and other people who'd LIKE to be!

Worst place for a long run:  I'm going to annoy people with this, but I think the C&O Canal Towpath is bore-you-to-tears depressing.  

Maybe I've just had rough runs there (they're all very slow, and typically long distances, if I'm there).  It's just a lot of woods to one side, green water to another, and the notion that a bug, bird, or bear will jump out on you at some point.

Best-run, Worst-run Races of 2014: 

Best race organization (company):  Potomac River Running.  I ran 3 PRR races this year, and they were all models of efficiency, friendliness, and cheer.  I'm a fan.  But let's turn to some specific races for the best/worst organized:

WinnerMarine Corps Marathon -- yes, the race itself (for me) was an epic dumpster fire.  But the Marines are unparallelled in handling so many people so efficiently.  They win.

Runner-upJFK 50-Miler.  Incredible organization for a race covering so much ground, and attracting so much attention as the Nation's oldest ultramarathon.  Grass roots meets skilled, caring folks.  How they organize as many volunteers as they do is staggering.  The Marines win this one on sheer numbers, but the JFK folks are worth noting due to sheer ability.

Worst raceLawyers Have Heart 10K.  Just a little too much focus on fundraising, and packing as many Type-As into Georgetown as possible.  I know I ripped them a new one in my race report, but when you run out of safety pins and resort to packing tape to attach bibs, you're going to get deservedly mocked.

Best-performance, Worst-performance Races of 2014:

This is almost a mirror image from how well the races were organized:

Best performance at a race:  Lawyers Have Heart(!).  I ran exactly what my race strategy was, kept myself under 8:00/mile, and hit a milestone goal of a sub-50 minute 10K.

Worst performance at a race:  Marine Corps Marathon.  An utter disaster.  Surprised I kept myself under 5 hours, based on how badly things went after the Half.

Best Gear of 2014:

Best fuelTailwind.  In 2013, I was openly skeptical.  2014 made me a True Believer.  Why aren't you buying some NOW?!

Worst fuel:  Gu.  I just don't see it.  The little gel packs don't do it for me.  Some people swear by just good ol' candy instead of Gu, and I think candy might be just as effective.  I feel like every time I tried Gu packs while on training runs, I just wasn't being sufficiently fueled.  It just doesn't work for me.

Best gear CHANGE I made:  I switched from "Feetures" footie socks to Balega Hidden Comfort.  They are AMAZEBALLS.  I like wearing them almost as slippers.  SO comfortable.

No, I don't EAT the socks.  But they make me as happy as Snuffles.

Worst gear I used this year

I bought compression socks.  I used a ubiquitous ProCompression 40% off code (really, does anybody pay full price for those things?), and got my first pair.  I don't get it.  I don't see the benefits.  I just don't even LIKE them that much.  So they collect dust in my sock drawer.  I realize this puts me in the minority, because runners LOVE them some compression socks.

I even know that people think wearing them in a race helps, but there's been no showing of their efficacy for use DURING a race.  Yet people still claim they are of benefit.

I don't deny that there appears to be some utility for recovery if you wear them post-run/race.  I just don't feel it.  I kinda feel like I blew money when I bought them this year.  Plus, as I've established on my Instagram account, I look ridiculous in them.

Best Digital Peeps of 2014

Best Social Media Outreach:  Disclosure:  The Credit Union Cherry Blossom has turned me down two years in a row to be a "Social Runner" for their race, and to add injury, I've gotten these "Hey! You made the finals!" e-mails from them, only to THEN be told, ". . . but we didn't pick you!"  They also took multiple people this year even APART from the social runners, and had them blog about the race, so I'm not exactly sure I really was THAT final-ish.  But, you can't deny this -- the CUCB does the best social media outreach of any DC-area race.  They're fun, clever, involved, and also (this is important) actually informative about the race.  There are a lot of small, large, and even national races that could learn a thing or three from their efforts.  These folks are top-notch.

Also, based on them turning me down, maybe they're actually pretty smart(!).  I've decided that I'm done applying for these things, not just with them, but with ANY race.  I operate better outside the confines and niceties of an "official" social person.

Also, I doubt "Racebassadors" (barf) make a lot of dick and jizz jokes on the internets. 


Worst Social Media Outreach:  I'm not telling.  Why isn't the worst listed here?  Oh, I have some examples in mind, I really do.  Actually, I know the WORST race for social media outreach.  They're quite local to DC, and they are the worst sort of clique-y, "in crowd" types.  But I'll save the flaming for another day when I am in a bad enough mood to edit this post and add the section into here.  For now, I'll go with "if you don't have anything nice to say . . . "  The Worst race --organization-- for 2014 should already be known, since I've dinged them enough already.  No sense in more flaming.

Ok.  My 2014 Bests and Worsts are done. Unless I remember what other categories I was going to put in this post, in which case I'll update it. You can do that, by the way. You don't even have to put it out there that you did. Just update, and don't tell anybody.

Be naughty.  At least sometimes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2015 Frozen Heart 50K Race Report

Since JFK, I've never really thought of myself as an "ultrarunner."  It was, or at least it could have been, a fluke.  Sure, maybe not.  The rational part of me says you don't "fluke" your way past JFK's draconian cutoffs, but regardless, it's been tough to even think of myself as an ultra guy.

I'm an "ultra runner," based on my vast experience doing them.

So in the back of my mind, I wanted to do another ultra, preferably a 50K, just to have a time at that distance.  Last year, I noted that Kara, of It's A Dog Lick Baby World, oversaw her first race as RD, the Frozen Heart 50K.  At the time I was in Maui, but casually mentioned that I wanted to run her race in 2015.  The cost for this race was WAY cheap -- I got in for $25 as an early bird entrant, pre-Thanksgiving.  The race itself benefits The Semper Fi Fund, so there was almost not a single thing as a "downside" to doing it.  With one exception:  the potential for snow.  Cold, I could deal with.  Kinda.  But snow?  That shit isn't fit for anything but a bumble.


Ok, that's freaking WORSE.

There we go.

The race is 3 loops of roughly 10.5 miles.  So it's about a 17K, a 34K, and then the full 50K. It sure WAS cold out during the race, but I wasn't that cold.  I was wearing ridiculous amounts of clothes, as I'll describe.  The problem was the snow.  I just had no footing.  I'd plant, slide, lunge, and sink down into a fluffy pile of cold.  Then I'd keep going.

Honestly, it won't do MUCH good to duplicate Kara's report of the race.  She has better pictures of the layout, the course, and of the FOOD.  You should check it out if you're interested in doing this race in the future.  Actually, now that I think of it, the Frozen Heart 50K Facebook Page also has lots of photos and videos from the race, and really brings home how nutty it was out there.

For me, initially, I'll say this:   I was sick the entire week leading up to this race, and I wasn't taking it like a good sport.  I hadn't been sick for OVER TWO YEARS prior to this plague hitting me, and I was NOT pleased about the streak ending.


I moderated my goal from the full 50K to just getting through a single loop in one piece, and also, as always this year, to have fun. During the week leading up to the race, I missed days of work, went through boxes of tissues like a maniac, and generally tried to work from home so that I'd be rested, and so that I would NOT take a DNS for this race.

The days wore on, and the cold lingered.  Plus, the temperature kept dropping for the Saturday forecast.  9 degrees (F) at the start.  Snow all over the trails, ankle deep.  More snow later in the day.  Lovely.  BUT STILL NOT TAKING A DNS.

Finally, on Friday, one day prior to the race, I started to feel a touch better, and went to REI, dropping over $100 on things like "SmartWool" socks ($13) (they basically just feel like thick fluffy socks, but what do I know?), some really RAD waterproof warm gloves ($49 clearance), and some other little knick-knacks (Nuun All Day).

Anyway, no "Flat Tai" for this race.  But, I went to great lengths to ensure I'd be warm. I was wearing, from head to toe:

--Tech Undershirt 
--TWO long sleeve tech zip-up shirts.
--TWO pairs of gloves (base pair, then the new pair)
--Compression shorts (just one of those, only so much to compress HAHA GET IT)
--TWO pairs of tights (thank you Potomac River Running Winter Sale)
--TWO pairs of socks (base pair then the new ones)
--An old, retired pair of the Red Shoes of Doom(tm) (snow, etc)

I drove out to the race location, leaving DC at 5:30am.  Because of a slight snafu with Google's definition of WHERE the park is, I wasn't able to find the actual parking lot until 7:20, over 20 minutes later than I'd planned to be there.  Still not panicking.  I had all of 10 minutes to the start of the race.

I had just enough time to get my bib, run to my car, pull on my Nathan backpack (again full of premixed Tailwind Nutrition) and get to the starting line.

Note:  In my haste to get to the start line I forgot my "hand socks" (see JFK Race Report), my hand warmers, and my RoadID.  So maybe there was a LITTLE panicking.

I had enough time to turn and face forward, when, just like that, we were off and running into the snowy woods.  Ankle deep snow feels like, as Kara wrote, running in soft sand.  So what I eventually did was more of a hike/trot/hike kinda thing.

Of course, early into the race, I noticed that at least one person was doing the race in shorts and low socks.


But that was for him to deal with.  The course was really pretty, except for all the freaking snow.  Footing was very difficult for me.  I slid "East/West" about as much as it felt like I was propelling myself "North/South," and as for going uphill . . . . Well, that was like trying to walk up a down escalator.  

This is a screwed up way to pad your Fitbit stats

It's just not as comedic when it's happening to YOU.

Do you want to build a snowman?


I'd made it less than 4 miles into this race when my phone sounded off (I'd forgotten to silence it in the hurry to get to the start).  The problem was compounded because the two pairs of gloves made using my hands very difficult for little things (like, you know, operating a phone).  During a point when I was walking, I fished out the phone and pried off my gloves to get the phone to work.  Why was she texting me so early on a Saturday?

This was bad.

"Angel" is one of my daughter's cats. 

I had custody of my daughter that weekend, she was home, sound asleep.  And now I realized I was going to have to go home, wake her up, and break her heart.  I was sick, heartbroken, and generally just Done.

This is NOT why I didn't finish the 50K.  I swore I'd do at least one loop on this thing.  But even to the extent that I thought I MIGHT have tried for three loops, the truth was that I knew I just couldn't struggle for all the loops in the snow when I couldn't land a solid footstrike (without risking an injury for what was a very low-key, no-pressure race).

Additionally, it became clear that at the "speed" I was going, I wouldn't make the cutoffs for the full 50K anyway.  I was hoping for under 3 hours on the loops, but that was cutting it WAY too close.  The problem was now I had 6 more miles to ponder going home and telling my daughter that her cat had been rushed to the vet and passed away.

This day was getting worse and worse.  Time to paint on a fake smile and get through it.  Just churn your legs, and don't hurt anything.

People reported that YakTrax were virtually useless.

I told no one at the race.  Not during the race, not after.  That's not the kind of small talk anyone wants to hear!

Some people wore actual snowshoes for this race.  Those freaking geniuses.

Instead, I tried my best to plow through the snow.  Eventually, I just resigned myself to mostly walking the whole thing, punctuated with brief periods of running.  They were brief.  It was actually nice to just take in the scenery -- seriously, it's a really pretty course!

I tried to keep a smile on my face, even if my eyes were shut.


The white cord sticking out of my right shoulder pouch is an Anker "lipstick charger," connected to my phone.  For about $15 (plus your own iPhone cord) you can charge your phone right up very nicely.  I used it during JFK, and the cold sapped my battery QUICKLY in this race, so it came in handy as the ex-wife and I put our heads together about what had happened, and how to handle breaking the news to our daughter.

Eventually, we came up a hill, and were back in the parking lot.  Because of a small routing snafu, we had to take a very short (like under half a mile) detour out/back along the road to get the proper distance.  My legs were JELLY after being in the soft snow for almost 3 hours.  It reminded me of the "noodle legs" you experience after transitioning from bike to run during a Tri.  But it allowed me to finish this thing in under 3 hours, which I took as the smallest solace of a positive.  Roughly 17 minutes per mile.  Wow.


Happily, I got a quick second to chat up Kara post-race, and to thank her for putting on such a good show (it's not like she can control the freaking weather).  But rather than hang out in the warming tent, or even to get the free massage I wanted so badly, I knew I had to leave. 

Later, sitting on a couch as my daughter sobbed into my shoulder, I tried to look on the positive aspects of my performance.  It was hard to do.  This race really beat me badly.  This made like the third out of my last four races where I just kinda . . . didn't have it, effort-wise (JFK being the exception).  But I was still hacking a cough like I was a smoker, and it wasn't like I didn't show up for the race at all, which Kara explained a lot of people chose to do.  Mostly, I just talked to my daughter about the unfairness of our pets not having the lifespans of humans, and how it was both ok to be sad, and to remember how much we love our pets.

Eventually, she asked me to put on some music while we sat on the couch, which she found funny because apparently my music tastes all suck ass (unless it was a song SHE bought on iTunes, then those are ok but dammit STYX ROCKS SCREW YOU ALL). 


Later, she broke out her laptop and we snuggled, watching what seemed like TEN episodes of "Home Improvement" on YouTube (she is binge-watching that show, loves Tim Allen).  She then asked for us to play some Connect Four, and finally, wanted some alone time.  I think she finally texted her mom at this point.  She later came upstairs, and was far more together.  She was fragile, not a wreck, and even cracked a few jokes.

She has gotten better and better as the past few days have gone on, and I know I will too.  She's not better yet, but she will be.  So will I.

Wounds heal, whether the wounds are on our egos or hearts.

And snowy woods thaw, even frozen hearts.

I'll be back to that race sometime.  It can't possibly snow like that again next year, can it?

And I'll be back to inappropriate jokes in the JFK report, promise.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Run with Frosty 5K Race Report

I figured that with JFK out of the way and done, my 2014 race season was over.  I even found that the always-enthusiastic Kim of Kim Runs Miles With Smiles was willing to take one of my Potomac River Running Race Codes, so I was down to just one extra I wasn't able to unload (for reasons you don't care about).

With the extra code burning a hole in my running bag, I thought I'd get up at the booty-crack o' dawn (again) and go run a 5K, just for the hell of it.  Well, that and to troll fellow runners with my choice of shirt at the race:

Wait, I can't be the ONLY 5K runner here who happened to run 50 miles just two weekends ago, can I???

I chose the Frosty 5K for my obligatory race, which was out in Fairfax, VA. There's an often-used 5K course out there:

Looks like about 7 turns?  Maybe 8?

True to Potomac River Running form, the packet pickup was extremely well-organized, and easy.  I passed on the Frosty Poofy Hat for extra cash, and happily took my long sleeve tech shirt back to my car.  I just kept telling myself I was running this 5K for fun.

This is totes adorbs, really.  Really?

Just go out, have fun.  After all, I was a little . . . over-indulged from the evening before.

The day before was the Army-Navy game, and I had been invited to RunnerLane's house to watch it! Yay!  It turns out that RunningLonely was also there, so he & I talked (surprise!) running, and Twitter, and self-loathing.  We also enjoyed just a bit of food.  


Security camera footage at Lane's house
So, relax.  You ate, drank, and made merry.  This race is for fun, right?

I figured, with moderate effort, I'd surely come in under 25 minutes, and that would be good enough for me.  So basically keep it under 8 minutes a mile, I'd tick off the box for today's race, and that would be that.

We lined up, I listened to some idle chatter amongst racers, and --

BANG!  We were off.

(No, seriously, we've already gotten to the actual race part of this report!)

This is a surprisingly hilly course.  I learned that quickly.

Potomac River Running Frosty 5K Elevation Chart
Mile 0-1:  7:45

This was entirely too fast for someone who was supposed to be just enjoying himself, but slower than the other 5Ks where I was really going nuts.  I figured if I saw 7:30, it meant I was going too fast, and if I saw 8:00 then I was really just taking the "easy" thing to heart, so I just kinda . . . went with the flow of traffic.

There was a weird thing during this mile.  As I was running, I noticed some guy ahead of me, in the distance, walking.  Alas, no big deal at a 5K, you see all kinds of people out.  Except as I got closer, or would pass him, he would just TAKE OFF sprinting like a serial killer was after him, only to stop -- no lie -- within 60-90 seconds.  I had nothing to do during this mile, so I kinda measured him.  It was the weirdest fartlek I'd seen. 

His walk breaks SEEMED to end as I would pass him, but that could be confirmation bias.  Finally, one of his walk breaks seemed to end when I wasn't very far, and I just gave it a little more "oomph" and didn't see him again.  So yeah, I managed to beat a guy who was probably running his first 5K and had no idea how to pace himself.  I'm quite the toughie.

Next up -- beating women in the 90+ AG

The good news was that I'd gotten some of the cushion I'd need to ensure I'd come in under 25 minutes without any real struggle, so that seemed good.

Mile 1-2: 8:00

As you can see from the course elevation, we hit a significant early uphill in this mile, which did NOT feel good when you're running about as hard as your legs will let you (all while they scream, "Wasn't 50 frakking miles GOOD ENOUGH for you before?  WHO HURT YOU AS A CHILD?!").

Mile 2-3:  7:50

I just told myself to have fun for this run, and that pushing too hard was just plain silly.  I'd been back to running within four DAYS of finishing JFK, but I was just doing easy recovery runs.  No speedwork, nothing beyond, "Holy crap can I eat more of, um, everything?"

Effort?  Schmefort.
Mile 3-finish:  

I sped up for the tail end of mile 2-3, and for the rest of the way into the finish.  Oh look!  Cameras!

Red Shoes of Doom in one of their (gasp!) FINAL races??
I checked my watch, did some math, and sure enough I'd come in with a sub-8:00/mile average, which was fine with me, as it got me a decent time goal.  I later found out that I'd missed the AG podium by all of 40 seconds, but I think I took the news in stride and without any rage.

I'm just proud of my effort because OMG WTF WHY WHY WHY

No, seriously, I handled the news well.  I was a recent 50-mile finisher, what did I have to prove at a 5K?

I'm at complete peace

I have to close by just giving sincere props to Potomac River Running.  They really put on super efficient, well-run races.  I've never been to a single one of their races that was bad.

Anyway, it was all kinda worth it to wear that freakin' epic shirt to a 5K.


Race by the numbers:

AG: Top 16.6%

Sex: Top 21.3%

Overall:  Top 11.9%