Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2015 George Washington Parkway Classic 10 Miler Race Report

Just eight days after successfully completing my second ultra, the North Face Endurance Challenge 50K I was really hoping that I'd be healed up enough that I could do the Pacers GW Parkway Classic 10-Miler as well.  I felt good very quickly after the 50K. I ran that ultra on a Saturday, and was moving almost completely normally by the following Tuesday(!).


(Honestly, that just shows how easy I took it starting from (roughly) the 20 mile mark of the 50K)

Anyway, this meant I had another decision to make. I'd signed up for The North Face as a last-minute thing, because my other 50K attempts were continually getting flushed or failing. Now that I'd done the 50K, I was faced with this 10-mile race -- one I'd signed up to do a long time ago.

For the second year in a row, I made the decision to give another shot at this 10-miler, often called "The Prettiest Run This Side of the Potomac" (which is a nice nod to the beauty of the Cherry Blossom 10-miler across the river in DC, run a bit earlier in April). 

Unfortunately, ALSO for the second year in a row, I did not React Well to the frost-ridden temperatures that we faced in DC this year:

I now outweigh the entire band, "Los Lobos."
Well, that's KINDA true.  Last year, it was just the cold temperatures.  This year, it was getting sick TWICE in about a 6-week period.  I'd gone almost two-and-a-half years without so much as a cold, so these afflictions were not being handled well by me.


This meant it was the second straight year I wouldn't be able to "race" this race, and would be forced to just run it. History was repeating itself. No chance for a 10-mile PR, or even an almost-PR. Spring races & I don't get along well.


DAMMIT
I kept goals low, just like last year:

1.  Don't die.
2.  Smile in race photos.
3.  Don't let my knee explode (that was a new one)
4.  Drink beers at the race finish festival (that was an old one, I'd learned last year that post-race beers are AH-MAY-ZING).

On race morning, I took my time getting there, since I knew it was going to be an easy day, and last year I'd just waltzed onto a shuttle bus. Not so this year. I'd arrived much later than I should have, and found Disney-esque lines. Around the block.




I'll say this -- Pacers Running are quite efficient, and a fuckton of buses came back kinda all at once, so perhaps I got caught in between waves.  But the panic of missing the start was kinda palpable (along with the initial lack of buses).

Once I finally got on a bus, and learning from last year, I immediately did things differently.  First, instead of sitting in the front of the bus (or even looking out a window), I plopped in a seat towards the middle and just . . . looked down.

LOOK, I SWEAR I'M NOT PROUD OF ME EITHER

I just looked down almost the entire bus ride up to Mount Vernon.  What happened last year was that by riding up front, I just watched us . . . slowly . . . cover the 10+ miles to the start line.  When you SEE the vast distance you're about to run, it really screws with your mind, as opposed to just showing up at the start, when long distances are more abstract.

So, I just stared down from my aisle seat, occasionally putting my head against the seatback of the seat ahead of me.  My seatmate, at the window, did his best to Not Be Creeped Out.

Seatmate:  "Is he praying? I think he's praying. Maybe he's crying. Did he just fart?"

I did this, without talking, for the whole ride.  I just looked straight down, kinda acting like I was interested in whatever Scrabble-esque game I was playing.  But not farting.  I have SOME class, sheesh.

OK FINE JEEZ IT'S JUST A BODILY FUNCTION WHATEVER

Once I'd found myself at Mount Vernon, I immediately noticed the NINE ZILLION PEOPLE ALREADY THERE, all of whom were doing that Thing Runners Do Pre-Race.


It's true.

Having learned enough of a lesson, I thought, "What would the Father of Our Country Do?" and tore off to the woods.  There were SO many guys doing Their Thing (the thing we can do standing up) that it reminded me of "There's Something About Mary" with all the dudes getting busted at the truck stop.


NOBODY LOOK DOWN!

I, um, do not Do Well when it comes to answering nature's call outdoors, assuming there are any other humans near me within a distance equivalent to the diameter of Jupiter.  Let's just say it took a moment.

Ok, I'd take the woods over THIS
I had to find just the right, um, direction (seriously, why the FUCK can we just all agree to face one direction) and did my bit for chivalry (you're welcome, ladies -- it meant less guys in the porta potty line!).

Off to the race.  Just before the start, I ran into my friend Kris, and my pal Teresa, who -- this is true -- had run 10 miles TO the race start, and was about to run the 10 miles back (she was in training for the Green Bay Marathon).

 So much for ME being a badass.

We barely had time to chat before . . . BANG!  Off went the gun, and off we went.  I was waaaaay back in the corrals after my adventures in outdoor wee-wee, but knew from experience that this race clears out very quickly.  I planned to have a lot more room to maneuver after the first mile.

The race itself wasn't anything surprising.

I was super, super conservative and cautious with my knee for the first half, remembering my luck was barely hanging on by a thread (likely a tendon!).  Kris and Teresa let me run the first mile with them, and then I opened up my speed just a touch, being very careful about how I was feeling.

Miles 0 - 5:  10:17, 9:33, 9:51 (Gu), 9:39, 9:35.  

This meant my first half was around a 9:47/mile pace, and when, remembering my own advice from LAST year's race, I reached the stone bridge marking the (roughly) halfway point, I figured, "what the hell," and opened up my pace, just a touch.  

Nothing was hurting, and I was sticking to the left side of the road.  That's kind of an important point, IMHO.  I know some run bloggers have suggested the right side gives shade (or sun, or whatever), but you're going to run this race farther if you bear right.  I was killing my tangents, just really nailing them by watching the turn of the road and preparing for it.  It helped, and for a race like this, which gives you a good chance of speed, it's worth deciding BEFORE the race if you're running for time (left side), or for comfort (right side).

Miles 5 - 9:  9:06, 9:07, 9:03, 9:03

Still not nearly as fast as I used to be for 10-mile races, but my knee was called upon to go faster, and it didn't complain.  This was a good thing!  It wasn't as hard to increase pace by roughly 45 seconds per mile, and I also knew from experience that I was gaining a few more downhill opportunities here:


GW Parkway Classic 10-miler elevation chart


Finally, by mile 9, with one mile to go, I was ready to just increase a TEENSY bit more, and did, finishing that last mile in 8:47, making my last mile the fastest of the 10 that day.  It bought my second half pace down to 9:00/mile flat.  Overall, I finished with one of my worst(!) 10-miler times, just under 94 minutes, or 9:25/mile.

And I was ok with it.

First, I'd worn my 50K shirt from 8 days earlier to run the race, and a volunteer recognized it as she placed a finisher's medal around my neck.  She'd run it too, but was more than a little dumbfounded I'd then run THIS race.

Sorry lady.  Quite damaged here.  Blame my parents.

Nice big medal to drape over my winter bulk.  In April.  Oops.

With the race done, it was time for the best part of this event -- the post-race beer fest!  I quickly found Vishal, aka TopSpin83 on the Twitters!


ZOMG THEY'RE GIVING US BEER NAO

Things to know about Vishal:

1.  He's ridiculously fast.
2.  He's got fun friends (who photobomb)
3.  He didn't kill me when I poured beer down his back.  Twice.

I'm unable to hold my beer.  Literally!  

Ba-dum-bum

Vishal had a funny moment I'd love to recreate with screenshots, and truth be told as I prepare to hit publish, it's one of the things that kept me from finally uploading this drivel:

Vish texted me, saying he was at the beer tent, but I was still at bag check, getting my ID (no ID, no beer garden admittance).  I laughed at how fast he was, but he showed me his phone, which had a conversation with another runner that went something like this:

Vishal:  "I'm done."
Friend:  "Great"
Vishal:  "I'm at the beer tent now, where are you?"
Friend:  "Ummm, I'm at mile 8 you suck."

THAT, folks, is some A-1 trolling right there.



When Kristin, Teresa, and RunnerDave all rallied up together, the beer flowed, and a general good time was had by all.  Beer post race will do that.  I didn't have a ton, and we ended up hanging out for a really long time post-race.  The band finished while most of our little group were still there chatting.

Peg, Kris, Dave, Teresa, Fatass, and Vishal (who probably has more beer down his back)

Finally, after I headed over to a friend's house to watch (this is true) video of their kiddo's Kindergarten play, I headed home, resplendent in mah ultra shirt and 10-miler medal. 



 The race t-shirts were a big improvement this year, IMHO.  A much more cheery blue.


I'd really like to, you know, actually RACE this thing one of these years.  If only I could stop with all the annual winter eating.  And yes, I realize it was LATE APRIL WHEN THIS RACE WAS RUN BUT IT'S STILL WINTER WEIGHT


Remember -- if you're running this race for pure speed, bear in mind the LEFT side of the course, at least to the stone bridge at the halfway point.  My tangents led to a total distance of 10.05 miles for this race, so I was roughly one HALF of one TENTH of a mile off doing the tangents perfectly.

You might choose to do the "mailed packet pickup" option, although it's not cheap -- $25 isn't fun, but your time has to be worth something.  I've gone down to a Pacers each of the two years I've run this race.  This year, I went to the Old Town Alexandria location -- then ate at Five Guys for lunch.

That probably explains my finish line photos:


Race by the numbers:



Overall:  Top 45%
Sex:  Bottom 38% (ouch)
AG:  Bottom 40% (ouch)

Negative split:  Almost 4 full minutes over the last 5 miles (whee!)


Still, a great race for having run 31+ miles of trails 8 days earlier -- and not being able to walk a city block without being in pain a couple of weeks earlier!

Plus, you know, beer garden.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

2015 North Face 50K Race Report

There's a sandwich shop near my office.  It's about a block away.  It's pretty good.

But in the two weeks or so that led to this 50K (actual distance covered is 31.6 miles) race, just walking there and back left my knee rather unhappy.


I'm aware that the knee pain didn't just get brought on by a desire for a chicken parm sub.  If anything, it was brought on by the reappearance of the glowing ball in the sky.  Bringer of Vitamin D:

I BRING YOU WARMTH. BUT NO FOOD.
What I mean is that as the sun began to increase in March and April, my mileage started to increase from it's rather low numbers in the winter...

I miss ETM, btw.
...ok, not THAT bad.  But close enough. I'd started training with a personal trainer at Atlas Fitness in DC, and, at one point, had gotten my deadlift over 300lbs. Plus I was back to benching my weight!

Way!
But, I think it might have been hard on my historically-troublesome knees.  The Atlas team shifted me to lower weight and higher reps for my lower body.  By that point, it didn't matter.  I was hurt, and thus playing a lot of catch-up when it came to running. In the middle of all this increased weight training, as warmth came back, I went a little over the top about getting back mileage.

I WILL RUN AND RUN AND RUN AND RUN AND RUN AND RU
Which brought me back to the sandwich shop.  I knew, as the race got closer and closer, especially as I lost training days to take off and rest my legs/knee, that this 50K would likely be yet another DNS/DNF.  I just couldn't accept that.  For 11 days prior to the race, I wasn't running.

[Peter Griffin Knee Gif, again.  You get the idea.]

But slowly, surely, as the days grew closer (well, by the Thursday, before the Saturday race), it felt better and better.  It wasn't throbbing from a walk to the sandwich shop and back.  I could trot across the street to make a light.  I figured, "Meh, at least tomorrow I'll go to The North Face Georgetown store and do packet pickup.  I just won't tell anyone I'm running an ultra if I go do it."

I realllllllly wanted a 50K distance, dead cats and DNSs be damned
I actually HAD been aquarunning, just to keep up some fitness, and the pain WAS lessening.  So ....  I went.  And I even laid out clothes/gear for Saturday morning.  I promised myself that I'd wake up, swing my legs over, and if anything hurt, I'd go back to bed.  If I felt ok, I'd go for it.  If I finished, I'd tell people.  If I DNF'd I'd tell people that they were right, I was an idiot, and someone should take away my running shoes forever.

Saturday morning, O'Dark WTF, the alarm went off.

Nothing hurt.

It's not 50 miles.  It's 50km.  What would be the worst that could happen?

I mixed up a bunch of tailwind, grabbed one other bag of it, and headed out to the wilds of Northern Virginia.  I left early enough that I got to the shuttle location pretty early, so I had time to study the course guide.  (Yes, a shuttle -- you park in an industrial/office park, and they take you over into the state park, which nicely cuts down on traffic).

There were a series of races over the weekend.  Today, Saturday, there would be a Marathon, a 50K, and a 50 Miler.  Tomorrow there would be a Half, a 10K, and a 5K.  The courses overlapped in a lot of place, so they'd mark them.

No problem.

Except when I got to this part:

This race is . . . color coded?  Excuse me, going to go have a heart attack now.

This goddamn race is COLOR CODED?!  Have I mentioned how profoundly color blind I am?  Because I am.  Badly.  Every time I go to the eye doctor, I read one of those charts with the colored dots, and miss almost EVERY one of them. 

Not just red/green, but also blue/purple, and yellow/orange.  Maybe it's the underlying red that is the problem.  Anyway.  But not to worry, they had colored "confidence ribbons" spread out along the way.

OK SURE I BET THIS WON'T BE A PROBLEM AT ALL (*shits himself*)

The blues on the far right are seriously all the same, and don't get me started on those reds on the left.

I figured that, in all likelihood, I wouldn't be alone THAT often in the woods, and fortunately enough, it turned out that the blue ribbons marked the 50K path.  Anyway, I arrived early, and started guzzling free coffee.  I felt like a huge fraud being there, but tried to remind myself that I had some base fitness to get through this thing.  The sunrise was nice, at least. The 50-miler racers had started two hours earlier.

Remember, we get up this early for FUN.

That's the starting chute (and the finishing one!)



Learning from the multitude of mistake I'd made at JFK, I had printed out and folded up a portion of the race guide.  Specifically, I'd brought the part with the checkpoints and cutoff times:
Not to worry, this won't be a stressful, "I just made it" race report!
This is a really GOOD aspect of a "corporate" trail race like The North Face puts on.  They've got money for transport to/from the race, LOTS of sponsors, and they can be super specific about runners and times.  I checked this chart a LOT, at least through Aid Station #5, and the 20 mile mark.

Keeping in mind the cutoffs is again a good thing, when you realize what this course involves.  Here's a full-size pic of the North Face 50K elevation chart for the DC course.  Forget the "big" mounds.  Note the t-i-n-y little spikes in between.  EACH of those is not just a "hill," but a WTFHILL.  This is a hilly as hell course (does hell have hills?  I suppose to a runner it would).



North Face Endurance Challenge 50K elevation chart
Anyway, I was in wave 3 of 4 waves (not even sure how that happened), and before long, HONK, the horn sounded, and off we went.

SECTION 1 -- 

Miles 0 - 13.1 ("Learn from your mistakes, and Always Be Churning.")


Let's start by noting one point about the course.  It rained a LOT in April.  

If this raindrop is colorblind, it's fucked.

The grounds were mud bogs, at least to start.  As we made out way across a grassy field headed to the park proper, someone "blorped" their foot into a puddle and pulled out her foot . . . without a shoe.

She was chill about it.

Like, literally, "oh wow, I probably will need that later"
 Meanwhile I was all:

Me, seeing that.
But we pressed on, and I became aware of two dudebros chatting.  They were in matching shirts from some team, and . . . . Look, I'm as red-blooded an American male as anyone.  I get the liking the female form.  But these guys were talking some SERIOUS stuff that would have made the writers of Girls, Sex and the City, and hell, even the old Penthouse forum sections say, "Hey guys, we get it, you've had sex before!"  I mention them only because it was so unusual for conversations you hear during races.  It's almost the equivalent of people in their cars, digging in their noses like a prospector.

PSA:  WE SEE YOU.  WE HEAR YOU.  CHILL. 

Ugh.  Anyway.  They were alternatively behind me, they'd pass here and there if I stopped to take pictures of the scenery, and then I'd pass them again.  The scenery was worth stopping for:





There were amazing views for nearly all portions of the race.  My phone photo skills weren't THAT impressive, but I tried.   Still, I was working hard to reach the first aid station (5.6 miles in), very aware of cutoffs.  I hit it at 8:01am, so just ahead on TNF's "middle runner" chart.  Woot!

I pressed on.

8:01am.  5.6 miles in, 25 miles to go.  7 hours to do it.

Pffft.  


Which is kinda what got me into trouble in the first place.
I remembered mistake after mistake from JFK.  I stepped on each log I crossed, instead of hopping over them.  I hydrated, guzzling my Tailwind, early on.  

I pressed on.  I was not going to be surprised again.

Passed the dudebros.

Also, I smiled for the cameras.  I mean, c'mon.  Cameras!


Is that guy taking my . . . yup.  Ok then.  Hope I was smiling!

I blew through the second aid station at mile 8.  Still happy.  Still pressing.  No pain.

The spiky hills were a little crazy though.  You'd go RIGHT THE HELL UP, peak, and then do whatever you could not to fall down.  I developed a system, one I'm sure isn't THAT unique, although I didn't see a lot of runners doing it.

I walked trudged uphill, and then basically just kept my legs under me as I would ZOOM down the thing.  I found that I could often slow my downhill speed by just running INTO the next uphill.  Gravity would take over, and my out of control downhill run would turn into a slower and slower walk.




After all this nonsense, miles of it, I was REALLY grateful for the station at mile 13.1.

Time check:   

Not even 10:00am.  13.1 miles in, 18 miles to go.  6+ hours to do it.

Well, damn.  This is working.  I can't believe it myself.


This stop was in Great Falls, which was a total party zone.  LOTS of supporters, friends, families.  I screamed, whooped, and enjoyed a few cheers back.  I used the last of my Tailwind (uh oh), and refilled with the remaining baggie of it.  Dudebros passed me, (this is true) high-fiving because one asked a spectator for her phone number as he ran.

Whatever.  I was in a great mood heading into the loops.

Red Shoes of Doom slowly turning Brown.


SECTION 2 -- 

Miles 13.1 - 20.x ("My knee just has to hold on, and here I am running in circles.")

This is an odd section of the course.  You get through Great Falls at 13 and then (if you're a 50-miler runner) you go off and run back and forth and back and forth and you get the idea, basically enough to gather up another 20 miles.  Um.  Ew.

YOU SAID IT, LILO!  #Ew
But fortunately, as "just" a 50K runner, that wasn't me.  I just had to go run one loop, followed by a LITTLE bit of back and forth, enough to get me back to Great Falls having done 19 miles totalNot a lot, but enough.  Not ideal, but better than those poor saps doing 50.

I felt good enough that I texted a few of my running friends during the race, and was all, "So, I'm, um, actually out here doing that 50K after all," and got the usual replies of insanity, but I was more and more confident.


But first lemme take a selfie.

This part was . . . a little tedious.  I went from the energy of Great Falls to just this line of ants trudging.  Getting lost wasn't an issue, although I still had a habit with the "confidence ribbons."

I'd grab them.  Well, I'd touch them as I passed.  I wanted to TOUCH the blue ones, and I only found myself asking a fellow runner a few times . . . "Um, is this blue?"



They almost always answered.
But I was making my way through an aid station when . . . there he was!  An ultra running celebrity local to DC, Fuller, of FullerRunsFar on Twitter and IG!  I recognized him, he recognized me, and we ran to each other.

When, um . . .

. . . I accidentally picked him up hugging him, and palmed his ass.

LOOK, he's a VERY fast runner and weighs less than most of my MEALS.  IT WAS AN ACCIDENT.

I know I palmed his ass because when I put him down, Jesse said, "Dude, you grabbed my ass." 

Anyway, great meeting you!
Anyway, go follow his Instagram too.  What's the statute of limitations on ass palming? He was a good sport about it, and when I saw him again (on the way back of this curious portion of the course), he readily forgave me and said I probably hadn't actually grabbed his ass anyway.


After passing the Dudebros again, I checked into the various checkpoints, stepped on various mats, did the whole bizarre loop/out-n-back, and before I knew it, I was back at Great Falls, this time through 19 miles.

Nothing hurt.  I'd fallen behind the guidebook middle runner for sure by this point, having chatted with Jesse a bit, and slowed my pace to guard my knee, but I was in a GOOD mood.  I had tons of time to get to the finish.

Time to head back to Great Falls, and then it was all familiar ground as I worked the last 11 miles.

One funny part as I hit Great Falls.  Marathon runners, 50K runners, and 50-Milers all pass through this park, but it's also open to the public.  So we're running through tourists and TONS of little kids.

In my own mind, as they wander out in front of my path (over and over again as I make my way through the park), I'm being patient about it.  I'm sure it was more like this:


MOVE BITCH GET OUT THE WAY GET OUT THE WAY BITCH
I was through roughly 20 miles and still not FAR behind the "middle runner" pacer from the chart.  This was a good thing.  I was starting to finally notice a . . . twinge . . . in my knee.  Not much.  But it was there.  I needed to be smart.  But I only had to go about 12 miles, and had many hours to do it.

May the Spock be with your Dumbledore.
SECTION 3 -- 

Miles 20.x - 31.5 ("THIS IS HAPPENING!.")
Still concerned about my knee, I took my time earlier at the Old Dominion Aid Station (stop #5), and smiled as a volunteer (1) refilled my Nathan backpack while at the same time (2) explaining to me that Camelbak was better.  Don't ask why.  I was fried, and not really able to keep up.  There was the other small matter ....

... I was out of Tailwind, and it kept getting hotter.

I like heat running.  I do.  But I, you know, like to have actual SUPPLIES when I run.  Meh.  I had snax too.  The aid stations had Coke.  All good.   I was slowing down, but I wasn't worried.

Just out of Great Falls, I ran into another Tweep, this time Scott Mason, who was running the marathon (I think it was his first).  Scott is basically the anti-Tai:

Scott & Tai file photo
 Here's a helpful chart:

Scott and Tai, a comparison chart
Scott
Tai
Well over six feet tall

Short Italian who at best could only work as Mario's stunt double in a Donkey Kong movie

Manly Facial Hair


Any attempt to grow a beard looks like:


Steady, easy running stride
Looks like Shaggy running in place after he’s seen a ghost, monster, or the DEA (c’mon, you know he was baked like ALL the time)
Wears sunglasses while running
Put on sunglasses
Can’t see
Puts them on his forehead
Squint and feel stupid
Put on sunglasses
(repeat until falls off a mountain)

Bearing all this in mind, I recognized Scott before he spotted me, although I'm sure my signature Washington Nationals shirt was a hint.  We chatted a bit while runners passed on either side, I discussed the knee just starting to act up, but that I wasn't worried.  I mentioned the ultrarunner motto, "Start slow, and then ease off" (like I had or have any business saying what ultrarunners do or think).  It was funny.  Just as I said that, three women runners trotted by and kind of knowingly whooped over the phrase.  Clearly, there is something to this strategyI love me some negative splits, but I wonder if the average ultrarunner focuses on them?

I said goodbye to Scott, but we agreed to try to rally for post-race beers at the finish festival.  They also have ice baths, which sounded GREAT right about then.  I pressed on, still trying to ease up the pace on my knee.  More walk breaks now.  Sucked on my hydration pack like crazy.  Way hotter.  SO undertrained.

Boom!  Miles 19-25 went pretty slowly, but I knew I was just laden with extra time cushion, and felt little pressure.  The frontloading of the race (doing my ABC thing without really "racing") had helped.

Then there I was.  Aid station 7.  There would be one more little station after that, and then the finish. But, THIS station -- this one -- was at mile 26.5 (see "50K 2nd pass" in the photo).  I was an ultramarathoner.  Again.  JFK wasn't a fluke.  I could do this.  Of course, there's a slight difference between 26.5 miles, and the finish line at 31.6 miles. 


So.  Close.  Still work to be done (but not much)

This was great.  I'd started to get a second wind back, and we only had a short burst of spiky hills left to cover before we'd make our way to the finish line.  I was taking longer now, but definitely saw myself coming in under 8 hours.  A horrible time, but actually not THAT horrible because of the course.  Plus, I was ahead of the Dudebros.  This over-40 dork was not letting them ahead anymore.

Aid station 8 now.  Just a little thing at Mile 30.  About 1.5 miles to the finish. Still time to get under 8 hours, too.

I pressed.  I passed.  I "splurted" into more mud.

And I finished (also finished like 45 min ahead of the Dudebros).

Nothing cathartic here.  Just happy.

Back to the sandwich shop.  I thought of it as I rounded the turn to hit the chute, I really did.  Less than a WEEK prior to this race, I couldn't really walk a block without pain in my knee.  I rested.  I aqua-ran.  I said, "Eff it," and did an ultra.  Still haven't grown a beard.



But, I did suffer one casualty.  One personal loss.  The Red Shoes of Doom had run their last race.


They were done, and I was out of replacement.  Time for a new fitting (and a new nickname for mah shoes!).  


I noticed that Dean Karnazes was signing posters and posing for pictures, and that there was no line (because he was about to leave).  I was literally the last person they took.  First, before you get to him, you write your name down so he'll know how to spell it for the poster.  I chose my real name as opposed to this online thing, because I didn't want to have to explain to him WTF a "Tai Fung" even is.  We had an . . . interesting conversation anyway.

Dean:  "Hi!"

Me:  (smiling) "Hi, I'd just like to apologize in advance for whatever hit your reputation will take for posing in a picture with me."

Dean:  "What?"

Me:  "Ha ha!" (immediately after which I helpfully added a chortle).

Dean:  (stares at me like a person corned by a timeshare salesman, begins looking at a North Face assistant who has my phone)

Me:  "I just mean I --really-- suck at running. (Dean is now looking alarmed) So, can we get a picture?"

Dean:  (appears gratified I'm not going to whip a knife/dildo out of my hydration pack, turns to assistant).

Who took this: 

We're like a before and after photo, assuming the product is beer and potato chips.

I mean, there is a LOT going on in this picture.  Was I supposed to flex too?  He has a midriff showing.  I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to do THAT.  Unless that's a thing.  Whose shorts are shortier?  He's wearing a 50-miler medal and looks like he's about to go have a weighlifting session (where the weights are made up of battleships).  What's going on with my left hand?  Maybe I just naturally grab asses when meeting ultrarunners?  This might be alarming news to Scott later.  I should upload the full size version of this photo somewhere, so people can study it like the DaVinci code.

Dean scurried off (he probably went running), and I rallied up with Scott.  Scott was hilarious.  We had beers, a fun chat, and then made our way to the shuttle bus.  A guy stopped us as we walked, and said, "Sir, excuse me, was there a race today?  How far?"  I told him, and he looked at both Scott and myself, and then said, "Did you jog that?"

Why, thank you very FUCK YOU
I patted his shoulder, and said, "We're runners."  Because we are.
 
It was a good day.  But now I gotta focus on what the real purpose of this race was: