September 20, 2010

Dances with Dirt recap

So last weekend I had the opportunity again to join several crews heading to Hell, Michigan for a 100K Extreme Trail Relay race called Dances with Dirt.  This is always a blast and while I first headed out and was placed on the "JV squad" in 2007, I was asked to be on the "stud team" this past year and it was a good thing.  (In 2008, I was doing IM Wisconsin and in 2009 I was too broken and banged up to race this)
Our team consisted of our the 5 good looking guys pictured above.  From left to right it was Brian Matthews, Jeff Beck, Dan Andrus, myself and Mort Nace.  This was a picture post race and after a few drinks so I apologize for the ridiculousness, but it was all in celebration of a fantastic effort this past year.  Now the last time I races, our team ended up finishing 61st overall and they awarded prizes to the top 60, so we were out of luck, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning. 

This race pulls crazy folks from all over the country and Canada in for a rocking good time. Trail runners are notably always known as that crazy goofy breed that doesn't rely on pace or mile markers and just kind of goes with the flow.  We fit right in.  This year 374 teams came out to play and each team had 5 runners on it which made for a lot of folks there throughout the day. (since this is a relay, just think of the logistics for parking and shuttling teams gets crazy)  But luckily, we really didn't have to deal with too much of that. (i'll explain soon...)

The gun went off and our runner Jeff blazed out of the gate.  His goal this year was to win the opening leg and boy did he not disappoint.   We came thru in numero uno and even though I wasn't racing until leg #4, I knew it was "game on!" and we were gonna have a horserace.  My first leg was a 10k that was called Potto and the trails looked pretty much like Mendon Ponds Park.  It was wide track and fast as it was pretty sandy and dry.  I took the handoff in 8th place and before I even got to the woods (like a quarter mile) I was in 5th.  I was running possessed and on a mission to pick up as many positions as possible.  My leg ended where the race started and I came thru and never saw another soul until I finished.  We hovered around that 5th place for most of the day.
We were running strong and at one point, the newbie on our team - Mr. Matthews, took a wrong turn and got lost for a few minutes down the wrong trail.  We were down a few positions a that point and I thought Mort was going to blow a gasket stomping around waiting for Brian to appear for him to take the hand off.  My next leg was the 8th leg or so called "Bat outta Hell" and I was off for a speedy 2.55 mile jaunt from the General Store in Hell.  I was ready to blaze and ready to take the hand off from the River Styx leg and doing windsprints to warm up and keep my heartrate up.  I took the handoff and flew and never saw anyone but ultra runners my entire leg.  Same thing happened for me for my final leg #11, Vertigo where I took the handoff from Brian (after his quad cramped majorly about 5 minutes before the start of his leg) and he ran phenomenally too.  My legs however got scraped and cut to sh*t on the Vertigo leg because I was running thru a field of soybeans and was about the 5th one or so thru it so there was no real visible trail yet. The only tricky part was that it started to rain on this leg for me an the downhills on slippery leaves were a little tricky. It ended in about a 0.5 mile section of goldenrod and I was bleeding pretty good by the time I got to the car. 

Now the real excitement came when Dan handed off to Mort and we were 50 seconds from 3rd place with two legs to go, Mort's and then Jeff's.  Jeff was running anchor for us and took the handoff 1:40 down from 3rd place. We got in the van and hightailed it to the finish line and narrowly beat Mr. Beck there.  He popped out of the woods and was cruising to the line pulling us from 5th overall to a very respectable 3rd place overall pre-handicap.  It was a grand day and we were ALL celebrating very hard post race in the rain. 
In the past teams have come away with some solid prizes such as embroidered sweatshirts, duffelbags with the race logo on it and some nice stuff.  3rd place overall netted us these beauties... awesome...(insert sarcasm here) but it was still a wonderful race and they did a great job organizing it too.  We all go hammered afterwards and as the saying goes, "you work hard, then play hard" and we definitely all did.  This was the last big race for me before Chicago Marathon which is less than 3 weeks away now and I'm itching to drop a solid race there.  Should be a fun time.  But until then friends, race hard, train harder and see you out on the roads and trails.  Cheers.

September 9, 2010

Squirrelly state of my state

That picture really has nothing to do with this post, but I just thought the t-shirt was awesome and needed some recognition. :o) But anyway, on to the proverbial "state of my state".  Things have been going really well around the lands of Keep Moving Forward lately and I've been gearing up my training in prep for the Chicago Marathon coming up in a month and a day (but who's counting really?)

I've been pouring in the miles on my feet and completely forgone the biking and swimming as of late.  I guess you can say that I'm truly focusing on my running again and it's kind of bringing meback to my roots (or something like that...) Our masters swimming program starts up again on 9/20/10, but I will not be joining until after Chicago is done.  I truly love swimming, but I really don't want to get back into the pool as soon as my taper is starting and start working out different muscles that haven't been used in a good 3-4 months.  As much as I'd love to hop back in, I can wait a few weeks and get back in the pool once business is taken care of in the windy city and utilize swimming as a pseudo recovery after the marathon.

My training has been going really well lately too which is nice.  I've thrown down some good speed workouts (Yasso 800's) and have had some good pacing long runs that I've gotten under my belt.  (20 mile run at 6:40/mile pace) and I have some serious goals that I'd like to hit for October 10th, but there's still some more work to be done before then.  For the first time in a while, my run mileage has been over 40-50 miles per week and while that may not sound like a lot, I know from years of running under my belt, I'm a runner that thrives off lower quality mileage instead of just tons and tons of junk mileage. 
The one thing I have been dealing with (and I blame it on getting older) is I have been creaking and cracking so much more lately than in years past.  One thing I have realized over the years is that I have extremely tight calves.  I've done the whole precautionary things such as purchasing those ridiculous calf sleeves that are supposed to give compression to your lower extremities and increase blood flow and keep your muscles loosened up. Well this year after purchasing a new type of running shoe, I started to develop slight plantar faciitis. It’s not crippling or too severe. It’s just painful when I take the first few steps out of bed in the morning. Kind of like the picture above.

I’ve been trying to prevent the on-slaught of pain by icing and stretching a ton, but it’s not really getting any better, just kind of maintaining. I’m having a feeling it’s from giving up the biking and the swimming and converting those into running miles. My weekly running mileage went up from about 30 a few weeks ago to over 50 this past week and I’m having a feeling the increased and focused running has something to do with it. I'm dealing with it, and I'm hoping it goes away once the marathon is in the past.  I've got to get things all locked up for IMLP next July and be 100% once I get to that starting line. 

I suppose I will write up an analysis of my race plan as the date draws nearer (including paces and goals, etc), but I'm getting ready to dance this upcoming weekend in Hell, Michigan for my second foray into the crazy relay trail world (I did this 100k relay in 2007 too).  It will be a fun time with fun people and I'm sure we will all enjoy a few brews after a long and hard days work :o) If you're going to hell this weekend, see you there, otherwise, get out on the roads and trails and I'll see you as I'm prepping for Chicago.  Cheers.

3rd annual trail beer mile report

So a few weekends ago, we held the 3rd annual trail beer mile at my buddies farmhouse in Rush, NY.  Since they were selling it in the next few weeks, we took the opportunity to have a final "hurrah" at their place which has a fantastically maintained "track" in their backyard which measures exactly 443yards.  (they measured it with a wheel)
There will be no other photos from the event (to protect the innocent...and last names were not used either) other than this official results sheet which was written with a sharpie on the back of my PBR box (I only use the best...) It was a tight race and both Brent and I had been training for weeks/years for this event.  I know I started my illustrious beer miling career back in the hazy foggy memories of SUNY Geneseo and to honor that, this time around I wore an old SUNY G singlet and decided to forgo the usual costume. 

Not much to say other than it was a hot night out and a tight race.  I was running in fear, but still thorouoghly enjoying my beers.  I ended up running a wrm up lap with Ryan and a cool down lap (actually his last lap) with John.  But during the race Brent was bearing down on me on the back stretch of the last lap and I was worried I was going to lose the contents of my stomach if I had to run any faster.  Think of it this way, I think we took 60-90 seconds to put down the 4 beers, so that means we were running 6:00/mile-6:30/mile which is a pretty solid feat when you are burping up foam and have just put back 48 ounces of carbonated liquid.  Not exceptional times, but pretty solid races for a trail mile and us being a rag tag group of runners.  Nothing to submit to the website yet, but give us time and we might have a few entries :o)

There was a relay team of Marta and Scott in which Marta ran and Scott drank.  Unfrtunately their result will forever have the *asterix next to it because unbeknownst to Marta, Scott caused the need for a penalty lap and it was never run.  But good times had by all.  We had a solid crew and are looking at local tracks or other venues to put this on next year.  Our group has always done the "trail beer mile" thing and even though we'd like to keep up that tradition, Brent and I were talking that it'd be cool to get to a track to see what we could lower our PR's to.  I'd like to think I could be in the LOW 7's if I put my mind to it! :o)
But I wanted to at least get a short report down for this race before it got too long after the event to remember the fun.  I have the "Beer mile champion of the world" trophy for another year and will gladly bring it back for next.  We even added times and names to the back of the trophy so it looks like a mini Stanley Cup.  Good stuff.  If anyone has any ideas where to hold the next one, shoot me a message.  I'm all ears.  Obviously this would have to be a venue that is secluded because I'm sure no one wants to get popped for an open container or public intoxication ticket.  But anyway, I'm gonna write another entry in a little bit about the status of running, so until then....enjoy yourself, train hard and have a beer (it's a really good season to...) Cheers.