Thursday, March 24, 2011

Greece IS the Word!!

As of one hour ago, I have been officially accepted into the 2011 Spartathlon!  I'm waaaay beyond excited to run this historic course!!  Sure, I'll be the first person to say that I enjoy no-frills races and simply sleeping in my car and driving home after a 100 miler, but in this case, I think I might stick around for the Closing Ceremonies!

Marching Out Like a Lamb...

Sure, there's still a week left in March to turn things around a bit, but even with a solid week of training to end things I can definitely say the month was a big hiccup in my training plan. First there was the shingles, then the nasty cold I picked up on the flight back from Arizona that has turned me into a veritable snot factory (clinical term) for the past 10 days. The good news is, I've been able to at least shuffle through 10 milers every day since returning to DC, so I'm not falling completely out of shape. The bad news, of course, is up until yesterday those 10 milers were pretty slow, and I certainly haven't had the energy to go any further. The days of running doubles and racking up the vertical miles seem so very very long ago. ...BUT, this is all part of the game, and being mentally strong through low points in training can only help in being mentally strong during the late miles of a 100+ miler, so I'll keep plugging ahead and know better days are right around the corner...

I'm a bit bummed I won't be able to shoot for the sub-7 hour Bull Run 50 I had planned in a couple weeks, but at the same time I'm happy my lack of top fitness means I can just plan to train right through BR50 (no taper) with the main focus of getting back in top gear for the Massanutten 100 in May. Sure, I wanted to do well at both, but if I had to pick one to be in top shape for, MMT would be it. Avenging my DNF there in 2008 is first and foremost on my 'To Do' list!

Speaking of races, it was no fun having to miss out on the Tobacco Road Marathon this past weekend, but I honestly couldn't even say the word "marathon" without hacking up a lung on Sunday, so there was no way I was going to be able to run it. I know I've been saying it for the past couple years, but one of these days it'll work out for me to finally run a regular 26.2 marathon again. If nothing else, I'm simply curious as to how fast I would go. I know my 1 mile PR is pretty much out of reach in my old age, but I think I could still hammer out a low 2:40s marathon (which is what I was hoping to run at Tobacco Road). One of these days I'll get back out there to give it a go...

Races and sicknesses aside, we're just starting to hit a sweet spot for running weather in DC. The Cherry Blossoms are popping out and it's usually in the 50s for my evening run after work this time of year. Sure, it'll be 95 and humid in the blink of an eye, but for right now this great weather is just what I need to officially leave the winter illnesses behind and jump-start my training for the Spring. I may even take a spin around my old Hains Point training loop this weekend to enjoy a 3 mile run through the "Long Pink Tunnel"!

There's no mistaking the arrival of Spring in DC!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Two Weeks of Healing

Ok, so maybe I pushed my body a little too much during the Reverse Ring a couple weeks ago. Even though everything felt fine during the run itself, a couple days after I was back dealing with a full-blown case of the shingles again. Clearly my immune system needed more time to recover (and not 15 hours of 35 degree racing conditions). I took the whole week after the race off, and then escaped out to the warm, dry climate of Arizona for some rest and relaxation (and a little fun-running too!). Here's the photo montage!

Lizzy and I flew out to Phoenix last week where my parents met us and drove us up to Sedona. On the way, we stopped at a couple roadside spots...the place next door to this had the BEST pies in the world.
This was the view from the parking lot of our condo. You bet I jumped at the chance to shake off some jet-lag and run out there in the sunny 70 degree temps!
Just a mile up the road led me to what seemed to be 900 unmarked "paths" to choose from while approaching the red rocks.
I ran up this washout for a while...
Then skirted up these rocks...
...and before I knew it, I was on top!
...of course, that only gave me the view of many many many other cool rock formations I wanted to run (and did!). Sedona is definitely a cool place for running!
The only downside to all my trail-blazing were those darn cacti! Not used to dealing with them on my VA trails!
The next day we headed up north to a pretty cool place as well...The Grand Canyon!
Not a bad photo backdrop!
I used the binos to scout out my future Rim-2-Rim-2-Rim run...
Yup, there's the best path, right up the Bright Angel Trail on the North Side...
The whole crew, enjoying a perfect day on the south rim!
The next day we headed back to Phoenix, but not before stopping off at the Montezuma Castle dwelling which the Sinagua people dug into the cliffside in 700 A.D.!

...and then we also swung by Taliesn West, Frank Lloyd Wright's western world base of operation for the cold weather months.

One last shot here at the Phoenix Art Museum is notable because it's pretty much the only place in the whole city with both green grass and water! That place is the definition of HOT and SUNNY!
All in all, I've had a nice break from the day-to-day grind of training, and I'm ready to get back on my feet and gear things up for Bull Run. Sure, the fitness I've lost means I won't be mixing it up among the guys with shoe-melting speed in that race, but I'll use it as a nice stepping stone for Massanutten training and enjoy the imminent arrival of spring on the VA trails regardless of how fast my body lets me run!