Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Secret Weapons for France!

With our flight for Paris taking off in just 10 days (!!!), I'm putting the final touches on all my race gear for the World Championships. I've put in a bunch of training miles wearing all the Team USA uniform combinations the past few weeks, and with a few scissor snips here and there, I feel confident I'll be able to go the distance wearing the official gear. ...and I'm super-excited right now as the final piece of my running gear just arrived on my doorstep this morning. custom-made secret weapons!

I can't wait to go for a spin in these puppies after work today!

It's good that they came today too, since yesterday the "official" predictions for my bet with Jamie Donaldson were sealed in their envelopes. The rules are we have to try and predict the other's total miles run, and after the race, the closest guess (over or under) wins. The exact details of what the winner gets are still being worked out, but I'm just happy Jamie didn't know about these secret weapon sneakers of mine before making her prediction. These things have to add 30 or 40 miles to my total, right?!!

I conjunction with Jamie's current post, I'll open things up for everyone to predict my total miles here. I'll have to think of  a nice prize to give the person who get closest to my actual total. It'll probably be something unique from the race in a program or the timing mat or whatever I can steal from the course and smuggle back through customs. Whatever it is, I'll be sure to make it cool, so guess away!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Three weeks from today we'll be revving up our engines in France for the 24 Hour World Championships. From my perspective, I feel confident knowing all the hard work has been done over the past 4 months of focused training. Aside from the little hiccup with my hamstring that slowed me down for a couple weeks, I'm more than happy with how everything has gone. I was able to lower my average mile pace on my daily loop from 6:50/mile to 6:20/mile, day-in and day-out, without any dead legs to deal with during the week. While the Philly 100 was a bust, all of my other long runs were complete successes. The highlight for me was a 40 miler on the Mt. Vernon trail (which is paved) that I finished in 4:20:15...that works out to a hair over 6:30/mile pace and a 2:50 marathon split. I'm not bragging, since there are obviously tons of people who can run circles around me, I'm just pointing out that for me, my results have been great during this training period.  In a nutshell: I'm ready for France!

Starting today I've slowed the pace down to get fully in tune with how I'll have to run in France. Running 9s today felt a little awkward to start (as it always does), but once I settled in and started to visualize the loop in France, I had to smile. I know the mental aspect of running 24 hours is just about as important as one's physical abilities, and I feel 100% ready in both areas at this point. If only I didn't have to wait 3 more weeks!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bull Run Volunteer Fun!

What a beautiful day for the Bull Run Run 50 Miler!  Sunny skies and a light cool breeze the whole day meant fast times were ready to be run along the historic Civil War trail. Returning champ Leigh Schmitt definitely got that memo and was a few ticks ahead of Tom Nielson's 6:17:24 record pace when he passed through our Aid Station with 5 miles to go. Proving his talent is other-worldly, he kicked it in even faster over the last leg to set a new course record of 6:09:58! Not to be out-done, Aliza LaPierre also broke the course record on her way to the women's title in 7:23:06. Huge congrats go out to both of these speedsters!! Full Results Here.

On the volunteer side of things, Lizzy and I had a blast working the early-morning Aid Station (mile 7.2 and 11.4) before moving down to the Marina (mile 21 & 44.9) for the rest of the day. Here are a few scenes of the fun!
Seeing as how I have a PB&J every day for lunch, I was definitely put to good use here. Likewise, Tammy Massie's patented 'X' slice on the end of the banana halves makes peeling them super-easy when on the run. She's so smart!

Proving we had some serious skill on display, check out how EVERYONE ELSE is just staring in awe at us!

Speedy Chris Reed gets by with a little help from his family on his way to a 3rd place finish in 6:51!

Another speedster, Amy Lane (from my home state of MA!), has us laughing as she cruises through on her way to a 4th place finish in 8:02!

Lizzy, Queen of the Soda Pop

Enjoying the beautiful weather with Tammy...much nicer than the last time we met on this trail in December during a 30-degree day.

Trash cans and dead branches in the background mock my self-photo-taking ability. 

 Inside the Marina Building I found this sign that had me laughing out loud. Yes, those are about a half-dozen "Erg" machines between me and the phone on the wall. ...Poor Coach Jim.

All in all, just a great day to be outside to help 400 or so runners enjoy 50 miles of springtime trails. Can't wait to come back next year and run it myself!

On a side note, I was able to run every day this week with diminishing hamstring pain each day. I'm pretty much back to 100% today, so I can definitely say I made the right call to stop in Philly when I did last week. Now I'm right back on track in my training plan for France!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Philadelphia 100 Miler Race Report

The quick recap goes like this: As some of you know, I went into this race having had to take the previous week off from running in order to heal a barking hamstring. The good news from the day: the hammy held up long enough for me to get in a solid workout (50 mile split of 6:55), but right around mile 45 or so I felt things getting a little tight in the leg. At that point I slowed up for the rest of that lap not wanting to do any more damage. I took my time at the 50 mile mark to stretch the hammy before heading back out, but on the next loop it started barking louder and louder with each passing mile. By time I made it back around, it was an easy decision to stop at 58.8 miles and start the R.I.C.E process right away. I could have shuffled through the last 40 miles, but the price to pay would have been sitting on my butt for 2-3 weeks while trying to heal up again. Having dropped when I did, I'll be able to get back out there this week to keep the training for France on schedule. It's never fun to drop, but I knew I had to swallow a little pride and stop early to put myself in the best position going into France.

With all my whining and boo-hoos out of the way, this post will now shift gears and focus on the fact that I had such an amazingly fun time on this trip!  First of, Jamie and David Donaldson are the greatest people in the world to hang with before/during/after a race. As an added bonus, Jamie's parents came out to join in the fun as well, and they're so much fun too!  I pulled into Philly on Friday night, and Team Donaldson already had the first plan in place for our race preparations: Free happy hour in the hotel lobby!
Look for our own AT&T "cell-phone bars" ad in next month's issue of UltraRunning Magazine

Proving we've done our carbo-loading research, David and I had a couple Yuenglings while relaxing in the lobby...Jamie only made us feel a little bad by drinking a more appropriate pre-race beverage (water). Sure, she ended up flying through the 100 mile course in 14:58 the next day, but when you combine David's 50 miles with my 58 miles, the math clearly shows the beer carbs ended up helping us run 8 more miles *combined than Jamie. Take that, Mrs. Donaldson!

Thanks mostly to the fact that I didn't snore, we had a nice night's sleep before the race, and before I knew it we were out on the banks of the "River That Shall Never Be Pronounced Correctly By Dan" to start our run. Here we are just before the start. It's worth mentioning that we saw three accidents take place under that intersection sign during the course of the day. All minor fender-benders, but still...THREE? C'mon Philly, don't tell me you were that distracted by my bald and gangly self that much!

My plan was to push the pace a bit faster than I did my previous 24-hour run to try and find the best pace for France. As it turned out my plan to run 8:30s ended up being more like 8:08s on the first loop (including a bathroom stop!)...and then 7:58s on the second loop...and so on.  The lesson here, as always, is I'm an idiot. Without someone screaming at me to slow down early on, I can never stick to a pacing plan. In this instance, Jamie and I were obviously talking too much...and watching the boat races on the river...and dodging the other folks out to enjoy the beautiful weather on the river...and basically doing everything other than saying, "Hey, maybe we're going a little too fast!".  Jamie's super fast sub-15 in the end proved it wasn't all that fast for her, but in terms of projecting how I felt overall after my 58 miles (not counting the hammy), I don't think going out that fast will work for me in France. Definitely 8:45 pace from the start will be the plan there for me.

It was all smiles before 'Hammy the Hamstring' started to snort

Once I dropped, I got to enjoy the race from the Crew side of things. Tony Portera came down from NYC to pace David for a couple laps and help out crewing for Jamie too. On top of keeping us all up-to-date with his This Week in Running column, it turns out he's a tremendously fun guy to hang out with! ...and if the company of Tony, David, Jamie's parents wasn't enough, my friend Amelia also came down to join in the fun for a few hours too!  Throughout the afternoon and evening I also had a chance to chat with Phil Rosentein, Keith Straw, and a bunch of other runners who were making their way through our unofficial Aid Station headquarters. Phil ended up breaking 24 hours in the race after having run the inaugural NJ100 last week! ...and while his actual quote can't be printed here, Keith's reaction to finding out he had 3 laps to go (25+ miles) when Jamie was already out on her last lap still has me laughing 2 days later!
Jamie trying to explain to the rest of us how easy it is to run a 14 hour 100 miler.

Speaking of Jamie's last lap, since we knew the course was at least 100.8 miles, we moved up to the 100 mile mark to get her official split when she was digging deep to break 15 hours. As it turned out she cruised on through just in time looking fresh and moving fast. She's definitely ready for France!

After the race we headed back to the hotel for showers and the caught the end of the Duke v. West VA game at great Mexican place. 

You can't beat company like this!

Since Tony's ride back to NYC wasn't leaving until the morning (and that, by the way, is a loooong story in itself!), we convinced him to stay at the Donaldson Suite with us. He brought a sleeping bag, but that sounded silly to me since I had room in my queen bed. He agreed to share it with me on one condition:

Tony's "Man Divider" for our bed!

All in all, just a tremendously fun trip. ...and any lingering regret I may have had for not taking a chance on my hammy and pushing through 100 miles was erased when I got home and found this package from the USATF for France. With this reminder of what my REAL goal is, I know I made the right move in Philly!