Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, & 2013 Plans!

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope all of the runners out there enjoy this time of year as much as I do (i.e. no focused running, lots of focused eating). As always, this is also a great time to look back over the past year and start planning for the fun ahead in 2013. I find the most enjoyable parts of ultrarunning are the moments of reflection after a race/year, and the promise and excitement of future adventures. It's the whole middle part --you know, actually running these horrible things-- that I find much less enjoyable, mostly because I can't run them on the couch with my feet up and a beer in my hand. Why I didn't decide to get involved in UltraRelaxing instead, I'll never know. I think I have the natural talent to get a sofa sponsor...

On the reflecting side: I didn't do a whole lot of running in 2012 (compared to previous years, that is...I still ran about 2,000 miles), but the miles I did cover were so very very enjoyable. First off, I shared a bunch of them with Sammy. Sure, it can be tough to find a like-minded running friend in your area to train with, but my solution of simply creating one myself* (*with a teensy bit of help from my wife) really worked out great in the end. Even though the running stroller was a sure-fire way to put Sam to sleep within a couple miles, his excited Goos and Gahs while awake always made me smile. I look forward to many many more miles and conversations with my training buddy in the coming years!

As for 2013, I'll be relying on Sammy's ever-increasing weight in the stroller to help whip me into shape for a few fun races. First up will be my triumphant (...and by that I mean "triumphant in a non-winning way") return to the regular marathon world at the Columbia, South Carolina Marathon on March 9. It'll be my first trip back to SC since my honeymoon, and my first visit to the capital city. My buddy Dan Hartley is the RD, so it'll be great to run the race he's built from the ground up in his home state. I'm hoping to keep my "speed goal" training going over the next couple months in order to get my finish time back down to something in the low 2:40s. I think that would be a great way to start off the racing season. It's been nearly a decade since my last legit marathon race, so half the fun of this thing will be the surprise of how it all feels after so long away.

After that bit of puddle jumping in SC, I'll be getting back in the Big Boy pool and heading out to South Dakota for the Black Hills 100 Miler at the end of June. I've wanted to run this race since it debuted a couple years back, and thanks to the support and excitement from my VHTRC club-mates, 2013 will be the year to finally get out there and enjoy 100 miles of trails in the Black Hills!  Having never been to SD, I'm very much looking forward to both the race and the side trips to sight-see in the surrounding historic areas of Deadwood, Leed, etc..

After cashing in the bag-fulls of gold I'll undoubtedly find in my journey through SD, I'll play things low-key the rest of the summer back in VA before gearing up for my first trip back to the 24HR National Championship since 2009. Hard to believe my schedule has had me miss out on this super-fun event the past 3 years, but that streak will end in 2013. Already looking forward to running with so many like-minded (read: "brain-damaged") friends at this year's race in Oklahoma! ( I'm realizing now that by ending that sentence with an exclamation point I probably owe some copyright money to the Rodgers & Hammerstein heirs.)

All of this race talk has me excited to get out there and run a few inspired miles right now...but I know better. December is a time for putting off any and all runs when even the slightest distraction or more desirable alternative arises. ....What's that? A half-eaten slice of cold pizza and some old Seinfeld re-runs? I'll be seeing you another time, Nikes.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All!!! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

UltraCentric 24 Hour Race Report!

"Well, well, well! Look who's running real races again!" This was the exact thought that popped into my head around the fourth hour of the UltraCentric 24HR Gold Rush this past weekend in Texas. Hour 4 was notable in that, for some hilarious-in-retrospect reason, my leg muscles decided to spasm and ball up like they just saw an early John Carpenter film. It was a bit of a struggle all day to keep them in line (and a lot of a struggle once it got cold out overnight), but the fact that they were revolting so early felt like a true welcome back into the ultrarunning world..."Hey, only 20 more hours of dealing with Frankenstein legs. That seems reasonable!".

Rewinding a bit, it was great to be back in Dallas for a race. Way back in 2008 when I was a newlywed, my in-laws braved freezing 20-something temps to crew for me at that year's disastrous version of the Ultracentric. Looking back at the photos of that race makes me realize both that I was beyond lucky to have their support, and also that there's no way they would have allowed me to marry their daughter if the sub-freezing insanity of that race had come before our wedding earlier that year. "...Excuse me, Pastor, can we just skip to the 'Does anyone object' part to save us all a little time. Some of us are double-parked."

...but 2012 was a new year. I'm older, wiser, a father, and have Jupiter's number on my cell phone to call in any weather-related wishes I may have for a race. Ok, maybe that last part was a lie...I'm not actually Facebook friends with any Roman gods, but lucky for all of us running this year's race, no godly influence was needed - The weather was pretty darn sweet for running 24 hours. Sure there was a little cold and wind, but really, who's going to complain about that after suffering through months of swamp air and 100 degree temps all summer? Not me. Not Jeffy either.  (....the 8 of you out there who are both fans of the Family Circus comic strip and also know that my brother in-law/crew master is named Jeff now think I'm the funniest person in the world.)

So, wrapping up the pre-24HR-amble here: I was so very happy to be running my first real race in over a year, happy to have great weather, and happy/lucky to have a huuuge crew of the aforementioned Jeff, my parents, and my uncle Rich. Awesome. Now let's get running!

Right from the start I linked up with Sabrina Little to say 'Hello' and trade pumpkin recipes. It took about 2 hours before I figured I should let her focus on actual running, so I pulled off for a quick stretch break at that point. She was quickly off doing her American-Record-Ability-Thing while I settled into my routine of alternately running relaxed and easy for 6-12 miles at a time and dealing with my cramping Mr. Roboto legs. No domo arigato, hamstrings, no domo.

Chatting with Sabrina early on...future friends Mike P. and "Awesome" Dave also captured here. More on them later. Photo: Sabrina Little

Chasing down Sabrina in the first lap to start chatting her ear off. ...also appreciating that lady's sweet pink-patterned coat on the right there.
Still appreciating that lady's coat, but also telling my crew (who were off to the side) that they should cheer for Sabrina all day/night too...and not just because we apparently have the exact same push-off angle on our left foot.

What Crew, you ask? From L to R: Jeff, Uncle Rich, my dad, and...
...showing off her cool tablet stopwatch that recorded all my splits, my mom!
I should also mention that my DC friend (and coolest math PhD I know) Tammy also came out for the race and shared our tent aid station set up. It's always fun to run with the Cupcake Queen!  I should also mention she rocked a high-80s mileage total by the end of the race and was probably the fastest person on the course for the last couple hours!

As the miles added up and hours slipped on by, I realized the combination of my current level of fitness and the course itself were not going to yield a 150 mile finish for me. I think the best way to describe the course is to call it "rough". The whole thing is somewhat of a nice balance of rolling hills, which definitely require work on the ups but also give you the instant reward of the subsequent downs. The real challenge for me, however, was the actual condition of the pavement. Not unlike Pauly Shore, its moment has long passed...and unless hipsters find it ironically cool to start repaving ultra courses the same way their homemade t-shirts and spray-paint tags can resurrect the careers of those like Mr. Shore, this course saw its best days years ago.  All kidding aside, if the course was resurfaced, I would definitely come back to run again. I actually enjoy 24 hour courses with a few small hills mixed in...working a different set of muscles every so often is a good thing in my mind.

One of many rub-downs from my dad overnight
Back to the race, I made my way to 50 miles in my usual 7:30-ish range, and then went on auto-pilot until mile 80 or so when, just after the 12 hour mark, my legs needed more attention than I was giving them (even with stops every hour to stretch). I switched to some warmer tights, my dad stepped up huge with warm hands every 4 miles to help rub them down, and finally by mile 100 or so I figured out I needed to duct tape a bunch of chemical hand-warmer pads on my hamstrings and calves to keep them warm and loose. This seemed to work, and since I went through 100 miles about an hour slower than I would have hoped (16:30ish) but still had a big lead, I was more than happy to take it easy the rest of the way and win the $$ for first place male (Sabrina was long gone, and I was more than happy to let her go win the overall!).

Naturally, my plan to "take it easy" the rest of the way was complicated by some dude (Mike Petruso) positively flying around the track at that point. With the official timing/results people gone for 8 hours overnight, I had no clue how close he was to me, but he was moving fast enough that I knew I needed to get my butt in gear to keep pace with him. We linked up with 6 hours to go in the race, and as it turned out, I had the most fun I've ever had running a race over that time as we stuck together until the end. The beauty of those 6 hours of our working together is we picked up a bunch of other people along the way for various stretches. Since I had a 10 mile lead, our #1 goal was to make sure Mike won the 2nd place $$, but all sorts of other fun goals popped up along the way too as we helped more than a couple people reach their PRs (one of over 100 miles!) by pulling them into our group.

The third pilgrim in our Chaucer-like group of travelers was a man so cool no one name is good enough for him. Sure, his legal name is Dave, but we alternately called him "Awesome Dave" and "Big Mike" throughout the night. Of the many stories I could tell you about him, here's the one thing you need to know about Awesome Dave:

Shortly after I started running with Mike, he told me Dave was running great with him earlier in the day, but had been sleeping in his nice warm truck on the side of the course for the previous 3+ hours. Upon hearing that, I said, "Well let's get him back out here!", and proceeded to knock on his window and shine my headlamp in his face the next time we passed his truck. "Dave! Wake up! Get back out here and run with us!".  Now, the normal human response to having a complete stranger wake you up in such a jolting manner at 3:00 a.m. would be to do anything other than what Awesome Dave did. Rather than yelling at us or rolling over and going back to sleep, in about 4 second's time Awesome Dave focused his sleepy eyes on us, processed what we were yelling at him, and happily said, "Ok!". Sure, he had one glove on, and maybe an untied shoe, but he jumped right out and joined us. It was possibly the highlight of my running career right there....and not just because he didn't punch me in the face for waking him from his happy slumber.

In the end, all went as planned for our Canterbury crew. I grabbed the big $$ for first, Mike did the same for 2nd, and we even got Awesome Dave to a 90 mile PR distance by the end.

Happy times back at the end awaiting our feast at the Tabard Inn. From R-L: The back of Awesome Dave, me, and Mike (rather than explain why he's positioned like that, let's just say the story is one of dozens of others I could tell about the hilarious last few hours of this race).
Sabrina and I enjoying our spoils. I really have no idea how many miles either of us ran, but it was something like 128 for me and 134 for her...mind you, she also slept for 45 mins, so you know, there may be some talent in those legs. I look forward to being beaten by her for many years to come.

Oh, one more shot of the same scene, zoomed out just enough to show my sexy duct-taped legs. It's going to be all the rage on the Paris runways come Spring, trust me.
Many thanks to basically my whole family for all their support on this one. Finding the time to train was obviously much easier before I became a daddy this year, but there's no way in the world I would trade what I have now with my wife and Sammy for anything else. Regardless of what races I'm able to run in the future, having the kind of fun I had in this race only edifies my knowledge that I always want to be part of the ultrarunning community, no matter my shape or finishing position. As always, my hat is off to all of the amazing ladies and gentlemen who I had the privilege of running with this weekend. You're all awesome, thank you for the fun and inspiration!

Oh, and one last shout out to the good folks at Drymax for their continued support. Not only did I once again walk away from a 24HR race with blister-free feet, but their USA flag socks have now won me two races...I think that officially qualifies them a "Lucky Socks"!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's Been a While!

Yes, it's been a while since I've posted, but that's not the only way the subject line above applies here. Way more importantly, it's been a while since I've been in the kind of shape I'm in right now, and it feels great to be ready to race again!

It was exactly one year ago that I ran the Cape Cod 100 in what was the smoothest and easiest 100 mile run I've ever completed. At the time I knew that race was the end of my running for a looong time with the pending birth of our baby boy, so when I finally got back on the training horse this past May, it was safe to say the miles came about as smooth and easy as chewing a mouthful of rocks. My usual ugly running posture was reduced to such new and ugly levels that my scuffing and shuffling probably looked less like running and more like I was trying to stomp out a series of small brush fires. The good news is, when you grunt your way back from 5 months of couch-rust during the hot/humid summer like I did, things really start feeling good once your fitness and the weather both start hitting their sweet spot come Fall. Happily, that's where I stand today.

During my first weeks back in the Spring I mentioned I was going to focus on meeting short n' fast time goals in my return to fitness. My 5k goal was 16:30...and even though it hurt like heck, and I probably relied on the treadmill a little too much to get there, I ended up running a 16:25 back in July to meet that goal. I'll politely smile now as you avoid reading this article about a high school girl who just ran an insane 16:00. Yes, baby Sammy, daddy loses to girls all the time. Sometimes by a lot.

Since I hadn't read the story about that girl yet, and thus still had the false impression that I was somewhat skilled in the world of running, I tried my hand at a 10k race a couple weeks ago. To make it more fun than a solo time-trial, I joined up with my old Triathlon teammates Rob (the swimmer) and Chris (the cyclist) to enter a team relay Tri once again. As it turned out, the running course was definitely not a PR kind of setting with a couple miles of grass/fell running and a couple long hill repeats on loose gravel, but comparatively speaking my legs kicked and screamed in stellar form to a 39:21 finish that beat the next closest relay runner by 3:10. 
So much breathing, yet so little oxygen getting to my legs! 10Ks are horrible!!
The week after the race I took to the track to clock a flat and fast-footed 10k and see where I really stood in terms of fitness. Quite happily I kicked out a 35:01, good enough for 5:37/mile pace, and definitely good enough for me to meet my 10k time goal of 35:15. Now I move on to a 10 mile time trial. With the goal being a 57:30, let me be the first to go on record as saying, "...guhhhh."

Before I get to that 10 mile nonsense, I'll happily sneak back into my comfort zone and enter a race in which I actually have the chance to beat some high schoolers! Three weeks from today I fly down to Texas to run my first 24 Hour race in over two years! Sure, I entered the Desert Solstice 24 last December, but I had no delusions of running more than 50 miles or so given that I hadn't run a step in the 9 weeks prior. This time around at UltraCentric next month I'm coming in with fit legs and high hopes. The goal will be 150 miles (or at least 148 to sneak into the last position for a spot on the U.S. Team for next Spring), and I couldn't be more excited to march through hour after hour of self-inflicted mental torture! I'll be sure to follow up with a more informative post about this race in a couple weeks before I head down. Sure, it's still 3 weeks off, but it's my first race in a year, so it's safe to say I'm already psyched for it!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Run In

There's nothing special about a 9.6 mile run, and since "nothing" multiplied by any other number is still nothing, there's also nothing special about two 9.6 mile runs. On Mondays and Fridays, however, I have the privilege of being able to run to and from work on a 9.6 mile combination of bike paths, trails, and roads. All things considered, I love my 9.6 mile commute.

Actually, let me amend that a bit: I love that I have the opportunity to run that distance to/from work....the occasional 100 degree day with 99% humidity just makes the run home slightly less than lovable every now and then. Putting aside those 'Wrath of the Sunbeast' days, I can say with conviction that I love my run commute. Why is it so much fun? Here's how it breaks down:

5:15 a.m. - How do I know I still love my run commute after 4 months of doing it? I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. every Monday and Friday, but I always end up waking up before it goes off. On run-commute days, my brain is like an excited puppy with a full bladder that wakes me up super-early ..."Ok, Ok, I'm up! Quit licking my face, Over-Excited Brain!"

5:30 a.m. - You know you've got your routine down when, with essentially no lights on in the house, you can brush your teeth, get dressed, fill your Camelbak and head out the door in 15 minutes without waking up your wife or baby.

5:45 a.m. - Notice I mentioned nothing about stretching or eating before heading out the door. Such trivial things have proven to be unnecessary in my pre-run routine. Time wasters, the both of them. That said, you'll be kind not to point out that this 5:45 a.m. time-stamp marks the point 15 minutes into my run...precisely the amount of time it takes my legs to warm up enough for me to look more like a runner and less like someone wearing full leg casts.

6:00 a.m. - After a long downhill in the first mile, I bottom out on the Four Mile Run Trail, which for maximum confusion is neither 4 miles long, nor an actual trail. In reality it's a paved bike path that runs about 7.5 miles in total, about 3 of which I run to deliver me to the Potomac River where I can pick up the Mount Vernon Trail. If it's a cool morning like we've had the last two weeks, I hit the MVT right around 6:00 a.m. and start heading north to DC. If it's a morning like every other one we've had since April, I'm about a mile further back wringing out my clothes from the dryer-vent humidity I've been slogging through. During each of those nasty humid mornings this summer I made a promise to myself not to complain about running in the cold this winter. The motto I repeat: You can always put more clothes on, but you can never take off a coat of sweat. In fact, now that the weather is cooling off and I can actually touch a piece of paper without it immediately becoming translucent like a bag of french fries in my sweaty hands, I'm writing a letter:

Dear Summer,

We all hate you.


Every DC Runner, Ever

6:40 a.m. - So I have this stupid streak going on the Mount Vernon Trail: In the 5 years I've run on it regularly in training, I've never been passed by another runner (who, in turn, I did not eventually pass back). I actually credit this stupid rule with helping me learn to run ultras faster since my bread-n-butter Saturday run for many years has been a 40 mile out-n-back on the MVT. When you need to muster up enough speed to catch someone who just passed you at mile 35 (when you know the other dude is only running 3 miles), you learn a lot about digging deep and finding speed in the late hours of a 100+ miler. Or at least that's what I tell myself. More than that, you simply learn that your rule is stupid, and it never results in anything but pain...and stupid, pointless pain at that. Especially when you're running to work this early and you suddenly need to run mile or two at a split speed that's less than the current time of day. Sub 7s are not fun at 7:00 a.m.. Sub 6:30s are even less fun.

In conclusion: I hate you, Stupid Rule, and I hate you, Early Morning Speedsters who, for some random reason, feel the need to pass me this early. How about just pulling up along side me and chatting for a bit? "Nice morning, no?", "How 'bout them Redskins?", "Parlez Vous, Francais?"...I'd entertain any of these topics of conversation if you'd just...stop...passing...me!

That said, when the speedsters behave themselves, I really enjoy the MVT, even on the short 2+ mile stretch I incorporate on my commute. Early on I pass a big tree that usually has a bald eagle or two perched in it, and shortly thereafter the first view of the Capitol Dome and Library of Congress appear giving me visual confirmation of my finish line, even if it's still 4 miles away. After that there's the always exciting section at the end of the runway at Reagan National Airport, a place where I get to experience all the excitement of seeing/feeling planes taking off and landing without having to stand in line for hours to be groped like those people actually on the planes.
The MVT winds around Reagan Airport's runway to reveal...

...the ground-shaking adrenaline rush of a plane landing just a couple hundred feet past you. This never gets old!
6:50 a.m. - In 1996 an unmanned weather station on an island off the coast of Australia measured a wind gust of 253 mph during Tropical Cyclone Olivia. This is the fastest recorded surface wind speed ever on Earth. The previous record-holding location was the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire (231 mph). The Mt. Washington people put up a stink because their wind record actually occurred over continental land and not in the middle of the ocean on an uninhabited island during a cyclone. The fighting went back and forth for 14 years until the World Meteorological Organization determined the machine on the island to be in proper working order and the island's measurement to be the official fastest ever.

To everyone involved in the above debate, I say you're wasting your breath. I'm 100% certain that wind-speed record is broken every single day when I run across the Potomac River on the 14th Street Bridge. In fact, I will wager that on any given day the speed of the wind up there is blowing well over 300mph in all four directions at the same time. I've lost hats, sunglasses, been blown into the guard rail, and even watched a cyclist fly over the edge and get carried off into the clouds like Elliot and E.T.. Ok, the last thing never happened, but you can bet I've seen a good dozen cyclists get blown off their perch with a wicked cross-wind.  It's nasty up there.

Given the above, you can imagine my surprise when I rounded the corner up to the bridge last week on 9/11 and was greeted with the sight of hundreds of U.S. flags, zip-tied and duct-taped along the ~.5 mile span over the Potomac. Someone (or many someones) braved the elements to secure these flags in place to honor those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. The names of the fallen were individually written on a white tab below each flag. It was indeed a moving experience to run across the bridge that morning.

 14th Street Bridge on September 11, 2012. Photo by Kim Baker.

7:00 a.m. - As you can see from the photo above, from this point in I really have nothing to complain about in terms of monumental views (quite literally) for the rest of my commute. In the final 2.5 mile stretch to work I pass the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, the Southwest Fish Markets, and of course, the Capitol itself. It's also worth noting that the traffic (both vehicles and pedestrians) starts to pick up quite a bit here, so I get to flash a few football running back moves on the sidewalk to get through the crowds in L'Enfant Plaza (Curse you, 6:58 a.m. Amtrak train from Fredericksburg!).

7:10 a.m. - The final stretch to the Library is directly up Capitol Hill, where I never have the lungs to curse the people getting in my way as I do my best to finish in style by passing everyone in front of me out there doing hill repeat workouts (since it's the only hill within a couple miles in DC, everyone comes here to do their climbing repeat workouts).

I was going to attach a relevant photo of my finish line view, but I mistakenly linked this random photo from a track meet my freshman year in high school. This baby is too sweet to delete, so I'm just keeping it here for everyone to enjoy. My recollection is that I was running the 600m race, and the dude in lane one (behind me) was way too psyched for this race...All sorts of hopping around and yelling coming from his lane before the gun. In the end, I believe my lack of facial hair allowed for minimal wind-resistance and I pulled out the win by a few strides. Maybe the beard is why I'm currently much slower on the track than back then...hmmm.

Good ol' Taunton High track...my bib number here is also my age!

Friday, August 24, 2012

2012 24-Hour World Championship Preview!

Sure, I won't be running in the 24 Hour World Championship on September 8 in Poland myself, but that doesn't mean I'm any less excited for the big race!

Obviously it's hard, really hard, to make the Olympics in any sport...but the lack of any slick NBC coverage at the 24 Hour World Championship doesn't mean the athletes destroying their legs out there in the name of their country are any less amazing than the folks you saw compete in London. Trust me!

I'll admit I don't know all of the runners from the 34 countries competing in Poland, and everyone knows the carnage at the top in these races always varies somewhere between "massive" and "massive", but here's a helpful preview to shed some light on the key athletes/teams for anyone interested....(cue the dramatic music and slo-mo video montage of a lonely runner out on the roads while the sun rises...):

The Men's Individual Race
At the last World Championship in France (2010), the Japanese team showed their dominance by winning the Gold without even sending their top-qualified 24 Hour runner (Ryoichi Sekiya). By the end of the race, Shingo Inoue made Ryoichi's absence an afterthought by gliding through 170 miles to take the individual Gold - his total also vaulting Japan to the coveted team Gold. For those of us who watched Shingo seemingly toy with Scott Jurek (who himself ran 165+ to break the American record) during the second half of the race with calculated surges on what looked to be fresh and light legs, we know what this unbelievable talent can do on the world stage.

That said, I'm placing Shingo at the top of a short list of men competing for the individual Gold:

Shingo Inoue (Japan): Been there, won that (see below)...

Scott Jurek (silver), Shingo (Gold), and Ivan Cudin (bronze) on the podium at the 2010 World Championship
Ivan Cudin (Italy): After not feeling so well over the first few hours of the 2010 World Championship, he showed his toughness by rallying from 40th place to knock out 163+ miles and win the bronze. He has also won the last two Spartathlon's in two of the top 6 fastest times ever. I should also mention he's a really nice guy with a gentle demeanor and a pair of glasses that fool you into assuming he's a Clark Kent at the starting line...but the reality is he has some serious Superman abilities behind those glasses (seriously, look at the photo above...wouldn't you trust him to do your taxes before asking him to join your running club?!).

Mike, ripping off a 13:11 CR at Umstead 100. Ben Dillon Photo.  

Mike Morton (USA): Just a great story behind Mike's recent return to running. Back in the mid 90's while serving as a Navy diver, Mike won a bunch of races (including course-record runs at the Western States 100 and Vermont 100). Then he had a hip injury and had to give up running for a while. After 9/11, Mike jumped from the Navy to the Army (his reasoning: "I saw the opportunity for some massive change") where he served as a Green Beret overseas for the better part of the past decade. Now that he's back in the US, Mike has run his first couple 24 hour races with eye-popping results (his 163.9 miles at Hinson Lake last year were less than 2 miles shy of the Jurek's US record). Mike recently won the Badwater 135 this past July (just a few minutes off the course record), and looks to be in stellar shape to both challenge the US record as well as compete for the individual Gold. It's great that Mike has returned to running (still in top form) in an era of the sport where his talents can now truly be showcased on an international level.

Jean Marc Bordus (France): Jean Marc is another proven 160 mile runner who will be leading a strong French squad. In looking at the talented field, I feel confident that 160+ will be needed to grab a podium spot this year, and there's a good chance 162-164 might be necessary. Bordus might not be contending for the Gold, but with bad hour or two from one of the above, a podium spot could be his.

Vladimir Vychkov (Russia): Vladimir is the last of our "160 mile men" having kicked out that total in the 2010 World Championship for a 5th place finish. While 168-170 miles will probably be necessary for Gold again this year, Vladimir will most likely be out of that mix, but he's certainly a contender for a podium spot should any of the above falter.

Dark Horses:

Kouros. 24HR World Record-holder. Photo www.futas.net
Yiannis Kouros (Greece) - Yes, he's 56 years old and probably not a podium contender in this race, but he is the World Record holder for this event with - and no, this is not a typo - 188 miles!  Read that again, pause for a second, and be sure there aren't any children around when that number finally registers in your brain and you say the words "Holy S#it!". Regardless of how far he runs (I'm guessing he'll be in the high 150s given his recent 12HR result of 78 miles earlier this year), the fact that no other runner will come within 15-18 miles of his record out there earns him a special mention in this section. .....Also, how cool is it that Kouros racing again?!!!!

Jon Olsen (USA) - New to the 24 Hour world, but knocked out 158.5 miles to win the 2012 US Championship in his first attempt this spring. If he can do that again, the US Team will be in excellent position to challenge the Japanese for the Team Gold. Update: Olsen is now out of the race due to injury. He will be replaced by Joe Fejes on the US roster.

Masahiko Honda (Japan) & Takahisa Furukita (Japan) - Both have 160 mile potential, and both will certainly look to work together in order to determine the fate of the Japanese team behind Shingo. If either runs into a tough patch, the race for team Gold becomes wide open.

John Pares (Great Britain) - Earned an 8th place finish in 2010, and certainly has the ability to climb to 160 if he closes his eyes and rides the wave of cheers still emanating from London in support of their country's runners!

Emanuel Fontaine (France) & Ludovic Dilmi (France) - Two key cogs in the line-up for Team France. Both have 160 potential, and the close team competition could have them digging deep all the way to the end.

Micheal Vanicek (Germany) & Florian Reus (Germany) - Vanicek grabbed 3rd at the Spartathlon last year in 24:55...flatten out that 153 mile course and Mr. Vanicek could be looking at 160 miles. Same 160 potential for Reus who boasts a 158+ PR.

Notable Absences:
Two of the top 5 from last World Championship will not be running this year: Scott Jurek (US, 2nd place) and Yuji Sakai (Japan, 4th). From a team prospective, it's also worth mentioning that France's Fabian Hoblea (6th in 2010) will also be missing, which is a definite blow to his country's medal chances, but more on that later.

Many, I'm sure, are wondering why Jurek will be absent from this year's race. The answer is quite simple: He wanted to run in this race, but he did not run a qualifying 24-Hour distance in the past two years (his only attempt since the 2010 World Championships ended early at 106 miles last December in Soochow). Since the race is "closed", meaning only open to those athletes competing on a national team, Jurek is unable to run in this Championship even as an "independent". As a supporter of the US Team, it's a bummer not to have him on board this year, but the rules are the rules, and we all need to tip our caps to those who worked so hard to earn their spots on both the Men's and Women's teams this year, as you'll read below, both are stellar squads!

Men's Team Competition:
Again, I don't know all of the runners on all of the teams, but since a country needs 3 top scorers to contend for the Team Gold, I feel confident enough in my knowledge of the deeper teams to say that the race will come down to the following super-talented countries. Oh, and if you bet according to my predictions and lose million of dollars, don't blame me, these are just educated guesses!

Team Japan - Maybe not as deep as the 2010 team, but if their Big 3 come through (Shingo, Masahiko Honda & Takahisa Furukita), they're looking at totals of 170, 157, 157 = 484 Team Miles. Of course, with a bit of a drop after those top 3, one bad day for any of these guys could knock them down the podium steps and potentially out of the medal mix. Shingo is obviously the key slice needed in their gold medal pie.
Team France - Much like Japan, they're missing a 4th stud (in their case, Fabian Hoblea) to make them a deeper threat. While they are rich in low 150 runners who could step up, they don't have an ace like Shingo to lead the way, so they really need their Top 3 to run PR races. With Bordus, Fontaine, and Dilbi scoring high, I see their totals at 160, 157, 157 = 474 Team Miles.

Team USA - While the team's chances for Gold took a big hit with the loss of Jon Olsen from the roster due to injury, the good ol' Red, White and Blue still looks to stack up favorably against the top teams for a medal. I believe Morton has the ability to score as high as 170 with the competition in this race pushing him, and those would be huge miles in the bank for the team. Behind Morton, Serge Arbona and Phil McCarthy are both capable mid-to-high 150 scorers. Having the depth of both Arbona and McCarthy really helps keep the US in strong medal contention with the loss of a 158+ mile guy like Olsen. Prediction: 169, 157, 154 = 480 Team Miles.

While they may not rack up 150+ scoring totals this time around, the remaining three US runners, Jonathan Savage, Joe Fejes, and Harvey Sweetland Lewis, could all end up contributing with strong mid-140 runs by the final gun. All three runners have come into their own in the 24 hour world in the past couple years, and none of the three appear to have reached their peaks just yet. It'll be exciting to watch them climb up to the level of Arbona, McCarthy, and possibly beyond in the coming years. It is, indeed, a good time to be a fan of US 24 hour racing!

Team Germany - They've got 2 studs in Vanicek and Reus who can rack up high 150s, and they've got plenty of talent right around the 150 level with basically the rest of their roster in Kai Horschung, Patrick Hoesl, Michael Hilzinger and Oliver Leu. The problem is, without an ace with 165 potential, the Gold is probably out of their grasp, but they'll certainly contend for Bronze if their top 3 hang tough. I figure them for 160, 155, 150 = 465 Team Miles.

Team Russia - Beyond Vychkov and his 160 potential, their next two scorers will probably be in the low 150s. Much like Germany, they won't contend for the Gold, but they're definitely in the mix for a remaining podium spot of their Top 3 score to their potential. Prediction: 160, 152, 152 = 464 Team Miles

Team Italy - Cudin is obviously key, much as he was in 2010 when he led his team to Silver. The apparent difference this year is the team's #2 and #3 scorers from 2010 (Ulrich Gross and Tiziano Marchesi) will not be lining up with Cudin this year. Italy does have a 150 mile guy on their roster in Paulo Rovera, but they'll need Cudin to rack up close to 170 to keep them on the podium this year. Prediction: 167, 150, 145 = 462 Team Miles.

Bold Podium Prediction:
Gold - Japan
Silver - USA
Bronze - France

The Women's Individual Race:

Mami Kudo (Japan) - Any time you have the current World Record-holder (158.45 miles, set just last December) racing in her prime, it makes a blogger's job very easy to fill out his individual Gold medal prediction. Thanks, Mami!!

Fontaine chats with the press after her 2010 Gold
Anne Cecile Fontaine (France)- Much like Shingo and Japan on the men's side, the 2010 Women's Championship was all about Anne Cecile Fontaine of France. Her 148.8 miles dominated the race to win the individual Gold while also leading her country to the Team Gold as well. With a PR of just over 150 miles, and a nasty streak seemingly unrivaled in the sport*, she'll once again be in the mix for a shiny medal, and possibly the Gold if Kudo has an off day.

*Seriously, if you've ever run a loop course with her, you know she has the sharpest elbows of all time, and she's more than happy to give you first-hand knowledge of that fact if you're in her way!

Anne Marie Vernet (France) - There's a reason Team France is so good. Two, actually, and Vernet is the second part of that reason along with the above-mentioned Fontaine. Vernet has proven she can rack up 148+, and doing that again will keep her right beside Fontaine in the medal hunt.
Side note - Perhaps I should change my name to "Anne Dan Rose" for my next race as it seems to be working for the French. Can't hurt, right?

Sabrina Moran (USA) - Really coming into her own in the 24 Hour world with a steady progression of performances leading up to her break-through 147.9 mile American Record run to win the 2012 National Championship this past May. Just like Fontaine, she has a legitimate shot to sneak in and grab the Gold if Kudo falters. Update: Sabrina is now out of the race (getting married!). She will be replaced by Lana Haugberg on the US roster.

Michaela Dimitriadu (Czech Republic) -  A slight notch below the above four in terms of her top personal performances (right round 145 miles), but certainly in the running for a podium spot.

Connie Gardner (USA) - She's been racking up the 140-something races for quite a while, and seems to be running just as strong as ever. With a 145.26 PR and a 144.72 to win the 2011 US National Championship, she's proven she can be right there in the mix for an individual medal.

Dark Horses

Monica Casiraghi (Italy) & Annemarie Gross (Italy) - Tough to call the individual Silver (Casiraghi) and Bronze (Gross) winners from 2010 'dark horses', but the talent in this year's field has both of these 140-142 mile ladies most likely just outside the individual medal mix this time around. The good news for them is if they both execute like they can on race day, their team has a great shot at the podium.

Melanie Strass (Germany) & Antje Krause (Germany) - Just like the Italian duo above, Germany has a solid 1, 2 punch with Strass and Krause both lining up with recent 141 mile PRs. Not enough for Gold, but both of these ladies are certainly long-shot podium contenders.

Suzanna at the 2010 World Championship
Anne Riddle Lundblad (USA) & Suzanna Bon (USA) - Both have long track records of speedy shorter ultras and, in my opinion, haven't reached their potential at the 24 Hour Distance yet. Much like Sabrina Moran had a 10.8 mile PR in her "breakout" race this year, I know both of these ladies have the talent to do something similar very soon. Anne's 140+ PR and Suzanna's 137.7 PR could both be toast this time around given the stage and the talent they'll be running with in Poland.

Women's Team Competition:

Barring a total melt-down of Contaminated Aid Station proportions, it looks like the podium will be filled from the pool of these four very deep teams: Italy, France, Germany and USA. While there are some super-talented individuals running for other countries, their teams overall don't have the talent and depth of the above four squads. A record-level run by Mami Kudo of Japan, for example, could help fill the gap of her team not having two more high-level performances, but I just don't see it being enough this year for Japan given that they're only sending two other runners whose combined PRs are well below their counterparts on the four leading teams. ....So, USA, France, Germany and Italy it is...

Team USA - With the loss of Moran and her potential 147+ score to lead the way, it'll be tough for the US squad to match France's dynamic duo of Fontaine and Vernet. If Gardner can cancel one out with a strong mid-140 performance, that would leave the key to victory most likely being a PR day from one or both of Lundblad or Bon. They can hit 140+ on a good day, and if they falter, steady Team USA veterans Carilyn Johnson and Debbie Horn have proven themselves to be solid low-mid 130s scorers on big stages in the past. With 24 hour races frequently becoming battles of attrition, the US squad finds themselves in a tremendously advantageous position of being deep enough to lose a top runner like Moran but remain in medal contention. Young (25 yrs old!) Lana Haugberg will step in to fill the 6th spot on the roster and will no-doubt earn valuable experience from this race. A PR run into the low 130s would be a great step forward for this young talent on a major stage. Prediction: 144, 141, 139 = 424 Team Miles

Team France - As I mentioned above, Fontaine and Vernet will be forces to reckon with, and if both execute to their abilities on race day, it will be tough for the US to answer their two mid-high 140s. If one of the two French stars has on off day, their medal fate will come down to their two 139 mile PR runners, Cecile Nissen and Sylvie Peuch. Both of those PRs put them right at the same talent level of Lundblad and Bon on the US side. The US has already had its share of bad luck with Moran being out, so if a similar fate hits one of the top two ladies on the French side, this race for the Team Gold could literally come down final minutes. Prediction: 148, 144, 139 = 430 Team Miles

Team Germany - In addition to Strass and Krause (and their 140 potential), the German ladies are lining up with two more low 130s scorers in Heike Christ and Marika Heinlein. In the end it most likely will not be enough fire power to compete with the US or France, but it'll certainly be enough to stay in the hunt for the bronze along with Italy. Prediction: 140, 138, 132 = 410 Team Miles

Team Italy - Similar to Germany, Italy will suffer from a big drop-off after their two stellar scorers Gross and Casiraghi. They do have a depth of high 120s scorers to keep them on the podium, but given the depth of talent on the US and French squads, I see Italy as most likely fighting it out with Germany for the bronze. Prediction: 140, 138, 128 = 406 Team Miles

Bold Podium Prediction:
Gold - France
Silver -USA
Bronze - Germany

Following the Race:

The IAU will be posting updates on their site and Twitter feed during the race. 
US Runner Suzanna Bon's family will be updating via this blog throughout the race.
Want to have fun following on a clunky euro site? Click here!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Down with the Sickness

Hey, you know that thing everyone tells you about how your baby will bring home approximately 3.8 billion colds and viruses from daycare? Guess what? It's completely true! Baby Sam is a veritable petri dish of all sorts of fun bacteria and other such microscopic nasties that, being the loving son that he is, he's more than eager to share with his daddy. Long story short, I've been crazy kinds of sick lately, and it all capped off with a brutal weekend where I couldn't even think about putting on a pair of running shoes to race the Dahlgren 50K. Something about not having taken in any calories over the previous 30 hours made running 31 miles Saturday morning sound like a bad idea. The good news is, through no training effort at all, I'm back down to my race weight! Definitley file that one under #pyrrhicvictory, Twitter hipsters...

It's not all bad news, however, as I have a couple fun adventures coming up. First off, this weekend I'll be making my first trip ever out to run some popular routes in the Charlottesville, VA area with my buddy Andy. Friday will be my maiden voyage up The Priest and Three Ridges route, and after sleeping out on the trail, the following morning we'll head to C'ville itself to run the famous Rivanna Trail loop. Both of those routes have FKT's owned by Neal Gorman, and I'd love to head back out there this Fall to make a run at both of his stout record times. If nothing else, it'll be a good benchmark for my fitness level as I try to become a legit runner again.

Speaking of legit running, I'm happy to confirm that I'll officially be heading out to Texas in November to run the Ultracentric Gold Rush 24 Hour race. Some of you may recall I ran a previous version of Ultracentric on a different (and horrible) course back in 2008, but RD Rob Tavernini gave me a call last week and we had a nice long chat about the current course (a flat 2-mile loop, which sounds perfect to me) and his efforts to fix all of the ill will surrounding that 2008 race (which he has certainly done). In the end, I'm excited to head back to TX and put forth an honest effort to qualify for the US Team again. 150 miles or bust!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

So Long, 5K...Let's Never Meet Again!

Nothing too exciting to post about recently, but no one ever said training was sexy...certainly not the training I'm doing anyway. See, while trying to reach my 16:29 5K goal, I realized it was waaayyyy easier to get on the treadmill and have the machine force me to go fast. Otherwise, I was finding the internal conversation between my brain and legs always went something like this while running on the road:

Brain: OK Legs, we need to run this next mile at 5:40, and then drop 5:15s the next two.

Legs: Yeah....about that. Listen, me and the lungs were talkin', and we decided we're not gonna do that.

Brain: C'mon guys, don't you want to break into the sub-16:30 5K world?

Legs: No. No we don't. What we do want to break into is a bag of Doritos. No wait...donuts! We want donuts. Is it too late to change our request to donuts??

Brain: I hate you guys.

So as you can see, the decision to move my 5K time trials to the treadmill was really the only option. I see the 'mill as sort of like a big mechanical arbitrator in this debate.  Anyway, with the help of the good ol' hamster wheel, and a lot of really loud heavy metal on my ipod, I ran a 16:25 earlier this week and have happily checked the box on that goal. My reward, I'm happy to report, was that I didn't throw up at the end. ...and I have to say I appreciated that just about as much any of the 100 mile buckles I've earned in the past. So long, 5K...time to hang out with your big brother Mr. 10K for a while now. ....35:30 is the goal for this one!

In other news, I'm slowly piecing together my race schedule for the rest of 2012. As indicated on the upper right side of this page, I'm signed up to run the Dahlgren 50k in a couple weeks (definitely a "tune-up" and not a "race" for me this time around), and then I'll be heading to the hills to take on the 71 nasty mountain miles of The Ring. I'm looking forward to actually being in shape for that one so I can make an honest effort at grabbing the CR out there (I still own the record running in the opposite direction, but I think both times are a bit soft). I have a ways to go yet in training, but I think it's a worthy goal to shoot for.

Beyond that, I do want to make a return to the 24 HR world and put forth an honest effort at qualifying for the US Team again. I think a trip to the Netherlands for the 2013 World Championships sounds pretty cool to me, so I'll either throw my hat in the ring for the UltraCentric Gold Rush in November (the winner gets a 1oz Gold Coin!), or the Desert Solstice in December. We'll see how training goes the next couple months before I make that call.

In the meantime, I'm happily looking forward to bailing on work tomorrow and heading out to the mountains to run. It's the least I can do to reward my poor legs for all that treadmill torture the past couple weeks!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Celebrating the Country's B-Day in the Mountains!

You know what's worse than trying to hammer yourself back into running shape? Trying to do that when it's 100+ degrees out every day. Really, baby Sam, way to make your daddy suffer by being born at the wrong time of year!  The good news is, I'm certainly getting plenty of heat training in during my afternoon runs home from work. Not that I'm going out to Badwater again this year, but on the freak chance that the President called me up and said I needed to run out there as a matter of national security, I think I'd be in pretty good shape to answer that call.

Actually, it hasn't been all suffer n' shuffle in the heat these past couple weeks. Just yesterday I was able to join about 50 fellow VHTRC-ers for the annual "Browntown Loop" - a 20-something mile loop in the northern VA mountains. The club has been holding this run for the past 12 years, always on the 4th of July, regardless of the day of the week. This year's Wednesday date made for a nice mid-week break from work, and the early start gave us a bit of a break from the real heat that rolled in by the end. Even though I'm far far faaaarrrr away from being in mountain running shape, I still had a great time with the folks at the front dragging me up and over a couple mountains.
The 12th annual Browntown Loop crew. Photo: Sophie Speidel
The real treat of this run is the stop off (about half-way) at the Browntown General Store, which opens up just for us every year! Nothing like some ice-cold Gatorade and Little Debbie cookies to refuel before the final climb back up to Skyline Drive!
The best thing about this map? It shows just how far we're willing to go off-map to hit the General Store (which is the dot waaayyy up there on the top)! Graphic: Keith Knipling

All in all, a great way to spend the 4th!  I can also see some signs that I'm finally getting back into shape. I still have a few seconds (17, to be exact) to take off my 5k time before moving up to my 10k challenge, so hopefully I can wheeze out a 16:29 this weekend and leave the lung-busting torture chamber that is the 5k behind me for good! It was a nice break to exchange the whip of the watch in a 5k for the carrot of some ridgeline views in the mountains yesterday, that's for sure!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Need for Speed...and Endurance...and Everything Else

While working to hammer myself back into shape these days, I'm trying a new challenge to reach certain "speed benchmarks" along the way. In addition to my thoroughly enjoyable 19.2 mile run commute to work on Mondays and Fridays, and other "easy" miles spent cruising around with Sammy in the stroller or just solo at night, I'm trying to make my speed workouts translate, in a valuable way, to my decidedly non-speedy ultra races.

The game I'm playing over the next few months goes like this:  I need to pass a Time Trial for each of the following distances before I allow myself to "move up" and take on the time challenge for the next distance on the list: 5k, 10k, 10m, 13.1m, 20m, 26.2m.

Right now I'm still hacking away at the necessary time needed to pass Stage One, the 5k. I think this will be the toughest for me since I started completely out of shape. The good news is I'm chopping off 30-45 seconds or so every time I run the distance (twice a week), so I know I'm both getting back into shape and nowhere near my peak yet. The bad news is, I have a ways to go, and I know it only gets more painful from here!

Last week I ran a 18:29 followed by a tidy 17:59 a couple days later (look at those times...you think I was gunning to break a couple benchmarks at the end of each?!). Since the time-goal I need to pass the 5k challenge and move up to the 10k is 17:00 (basically sub-5:30 splits), I know I now have some real work to do, but I'm hopeful I can gut out a 16:59.99 within the next 2-3 weeks. ...and to think, I could cruise through a 16:30 like nothing as a kid. ....stupid 'Kid Dan' always making me look bad...

Of course, my reward for passing the 5k test is a 10k time goal that is only going to be more painful. Remind me again why we torture ourselves like this, especially when the reward is always just more torture?!!

Daddy and co-pilot, ready to roll. Quite literally.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Angela Ivory

After enjoying my 9.6 mile run-commute to work this morning, I sat down at my desk to learn some tremendously sad news. Angela Ivory, a seemingly omnipresent smiling face in the running world, has passed away at the age of 44.  The fact that I read this news just after finishing my run, the type of run I know Angela would have enjoyed just as much, really made this news hit extra hard.

Over the past few years we shared about a hundred "Go Dan!", "Alright, Angela!" call-and-response greetings as we passed each other in various out-and-back and loop courses. It was probably the third or fourth race I ran with her when I started to think, "Man, that lady runs a LOT of races! Who is she?!", and even though we never formally sat down and chatted with each other, we quickly learned each other's names and cheered for the other like we were family.  Of course it didn't take long for me to realize that Angela had a HUGE family in the running world. Her infectious smile and positive vibes naturally brought dozens of runners just like me into the "Fans of Angela" world. Her positivity was so resonating that when I saw her name listed in the results for random races that I didn't even run myself, I still smiled to myself and said, "Check out Angela, gettin' it done! Good for her!"

In the past few years Angela ran over 300 marathons and ultras, including a bunch of 100 milers (3 of which I had the pleasure of running along with her). She also achieved the special goal of running a marathon in all 50 States (plus DC!), which is good, because that means every corner of this country had a chance to see her smile.

In the end, Angela's fight with cancer limited her running, but not her spirit. In her own words: 

The best thing about my three miles a day routine is that I get to be outside. It makes me feel better mentally to be able to still move although I am incredibly slower. It’s raining and very cold today, but I don’t care. I’m still a runner at heart, so a little wetness and coldness are not going to scare me off. I’ll still be outside on a beautiful, rainy, and cold day, dressed like I live in Alaska, lol.
Rest in Peace, Angela.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Beast Awakens!

Yes indeedy, I'm officially back running again! ...and what better way could there be to kick off my return than by running the last 41+ miles of the Massanutten 100 mile course while pacing my buddy Nick P. this weekend?!!  Well, let me answer my rhetorical question by readily advising everyone that there are, in fact, 9 billion more appropriate ways to reintroduce one's dormant legs and lungs to running. I believe "Ouch" was my official comment upon crossing the finish line.

Still, fit or not, I do these things for fun, and I had a blast with Nick (and his awesome mom Yvonne who crewed for him by herself the whole time!) over those many many mountain miles. Sure, my longest run in the previous 4 months was a single 8 miler, but the pressure you feel as a pacer to not let your runner down is a pretty strong motivator! It also helped that Nick was shredding the course to a smokin' fast 2nd place finish the whole time as well. It's tough to whine about your own aches and pains when the guy you're trying to keep up with is still running so well with 63 more miles than you on his legs!

I should also point out that I've never really cared about "extra" miles in a 100 before, but the fact that the race turned out to be 104.8 miles long this year really didn't help a runner in my "condition". I would have paid the RD $104.8 Million to move the finish line to the 102 mile when I realized how much further I still had to go at that point. I mean, really...talk about the Running Gods getting even with me for having forsaken them over the past few months. Sheesh!
Nick leaving the Visitors' Center aid station (mile 77) with some out-of-shape dude holding a turkey and cheese sandwich on Wonder Bread. I should probably mention I didn't really have a "fueling plan" for this one. Also, the shoes I wore were literally taken out of their box for the first time when I pulled up to the race headquarters. Hey, who needs proper planning when you are as far out of shape as I am?!! Kirstin Corris Photo

Nick and his All Star Mom Yvonne: She's about the nicest person there is! It's a tough job crewing solo for a 100, never mind one in the tough-to-navigate MMT area. Hats off to her for pulling it off so well...and on Mothers Day no less!! Kirstin Corris Photo
Now that I've checked off the big box next to "Don't embarrass yourself in front of Nick and his Mom", I'll happily start a proper training plan to get myself in shape over the next couple months. Baby Sam is ready to roll, quite literally, in the running stroller I picked up, so I/we will be settling into a consistent running routine soon. I'm also psyched that our family schedule will now allow me to run commute to work on most Mondays and Fridays. Given that the local trail/bike path network gets me to work in 9.5 miles, I couldn't imagine a more perfect distance for my commute. Sure, I'll question that statement the first time I have to head out in a monsoon, but until then...

As for my race plans, I think my return to ultras will be with the Dahlgren 50k in August, but beyond that I'll have to see how my training goes. I'd love to be able to hop right into some much longer/mountain races, but as I learned this past weekend, I need a bit of work to get back into the kind of shape I need to be in for such an undertaking. One thing I do hope to do along the way back to 100-mile fitness is run more shorter/faster races to get my lungs back. With so many local 5ks & 10ks in the DC area, I'll probably hop in a few of those to shock the system back into gear. Quite honestly, I haven't run a 5k since high school, and I'm not sure I've run a 10k...ever?? I'll be looking to fix that, and maybe have Sam ride shotgun with me once or twice as well. Let the adventures begin!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Shhhh! Daddy at Rest!

Thanks to the ultra-strength of my amazing wife, we welcomed our happy and healthy baby boy into the world a couple weeks ago. Lizzy and I are so joyful and lucky to have little Sam in our life. Further good news: My previously honed skill of waking up at 3:00 a.m. to run a 100 miler has translated nicely into waking up at 3:00 a.m. to feed Sammy these days. ...and I'm sure once he gains the ability to see a little better, he'll be just as big a fan of my shiny belt buckles as I am!

Just a few more notes to fill the gap during my running hiatus:
  • In terms of getting back to running: Totally guessing on this, but I think we'll have a good handle on the daily routine with Sammy in a couple months, so I'll probably start kicking the rust off my legs by mid-Spring. Once Sam is street-legal (a.k.a. develops neck muscles so he can safely ride in a running stroller) in June/July, I'll begin taking him on daily adventures and that will probably allow me to get back to something close to proper training load.
  • I've found a couple nice ones, but if anyone has real-world experience with a great high-mileage running stroller, let me know. The Baby Jogger High Performance model looks to be pretty solid on paper...
  • If all goes well, I'll plan on a couple tune-up races in August & September, and then have some fun out at the Grindstone 100 in October. Nothing like 24,000+ feet of climbing to welcome me back to the 100 miler world! 
  • I'd like to do one more "real" race at the end of the year, and I think heading back to AZ for a real 24 hour effort at the Desert Solstice would be perfect for that (If I'm fortunate enough to be invited again!). All of this is a looong way off though, so it's all quite tentative until we see how much Sammy enjoys viewing the world at about 8mph for hours on end!
  • For now, it's back to being enjoying every minute of quality time together as the Rose Family Trio! See you all in the Spring!