Monday, January 21, 2013

MLK 10k Trail Run fiasco

Heather, the kids and I went out to Wakefield park in Annandale, VA to do the Martin Luther King 10K Trail Run & 5K Trail Hike today.  Figuring we had nothing else really to do, we decided what the hell and just head over.  Plus, they give away a shirt - I will run anywhere if it involves a free shirt.  Roll up around 7:30am for a 9am race, yea, what the hell are we doing there so early?  And is not even a races that will have awards or results.  Damnit, I need to compete...oh well, after the shock wore off from the fact that this wasn't a *real* race, it didn't really bother me.  Besides, I just ran 10 miles yesterday at Manassas Battlefield so the legs were a bit tired plus the left achilles a tad tight.  So after a brief intro to the course, we were off.  About a mile into the race we hit our first "which way do we go" statement.  10k runners follow the orange, 5k runners follow the red.  Well the people in the woods part of the race didn't seem to know either and that is where everything turned upside down.  Next thing you know people were going in all different directions.  About 3+ miles in I see Zach asking one of the race volunteers which way to go.  Of course, he had no idea - so I cut across the course and ask Zach if he was running by himself and he said yes.  So we both followed the 10k signs out until we saw heather and company and finally found a path back to the parking lot...Wow, what a mess.  But, they had a cool shirt and awesome soup...not bad for an 8k training run...Next year, lets hope its more organinzed.

MLK 5K Trail Mess

On a whim we signed up for the MLK Day Keep Moving Forward 5K and 10K Trail Run sponsored by Metro RunWalk. We had never done any events with them before so we didn't quite know what to expect. The race price was really cheap, and they had cute long sleeve t-shirts with this great slogan on the back “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ― Martin Luther King Jr. We didn't really have anything planned for our Monday off. We needed to get some miles in, and it seemed like a fun thing to do with the kids. The other attraction of this race was that it was in Wakefield Park which is the site of one of the Backyard Burns. We had never run this trail so this was a great low pressure way to check it out. Let's just say that the best part of this race was the t-shirt and the post-race soup and bread. It was around 33 degrees at the start of the run at 9 am so pretty cold, but we were all ready to go. The kids were even excited to get out on the trail and were high energy.
We had a short briefing and were told that 5K runners/walkers should follow the red markings and that there would be plenty of course volunteers to direct us. (Cue ominous music) This was more of a fun run than a race. There were bibs and a race clock, but they weren't going to record any official results so the time was really just for your personal use. A little weird given that we had bibs, but we can roll with that. The boys and I head out on the trail. We were keeping a pretty good pace as the trail is really flat and not very technical, a few rocks and roots, but nothing to speak of. We hit a small stream crossing at which point ZMan took off and was keeping a good pace ahead of Nickel and I.
I wasn't too worried about losing him as he is really good with following course markings and asking for directions when needed. Little did I know that the course volunteers had no clue about directions. About 1.3 miles in we hit a water stop which we didn't need because it was so cold.
We were directed up a trail that only had orange markings, but no red markings. This seemed weird, but I'll believe the course volunteer. We went up a decent size hill. Nickel ran about half of this hill which was awesome. I could see ZMan ahead running the whole hill.
Then we headed in to some sort of lollipop section which was where all hell broke loose. The course volunteers had no clue where the 5K and 10K runners were supposed to separate. The course markings were a mess. Nickel and I were on the 10K course for a bit. ZMan was off on the 10K course as well, but he got even further astray. Nickel and I found our way back to head back towards the start. ZMan had apparently stopped to ask for directions several times and none of the course volunteers knew where to tell him to go. Fortunately, Cub Scout training kicked in, and he kept moving and asking for directions and following other runners. I wasn't that worried about him because he could have finished 10K if he had to. At some point JD found him and saw Nickel and I running on a parallel trail. We all joined up and ran back to the finish together. Nickel and I did about 3.5 miles. I'm pretty sure that ZMan easily did 4 miles. He has been wanting to do the Mother's Day 4 Miler with me so I guess this proves that he is ready. Back at the finish line, there was really good bread, chicken tortilla soup, vegetable soup, granola bars, oranges, cheese sticks, and applesauce. The soup and bread were awesome and hit the spot after a cold run. Once we got over the irritation of the mess on the course, we realized that it was a pretty good time. Hopefully this group will get their act together for another event because they look to have an interesting schedule of some other trail runs that might be fun to try out.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Saucony Trail Run Sunday

Heather and I drove out to the Potomac Lakes Park Sports Complex in Sterling, Virginia today to get a cool 10 mile trail run in sponsored by PR racing and Saucony.  If you got there early enough, you got to try a pair of shoes by Saucony.  Apparently, the park would be the start of the North Face 50k Endurance challenge in June of this year so I was excited to see what the trails would be like.  They ran it with different groups, some did 90 minutes, 60 minutes, and 30 minutes.  I ran with the 90 minute crowd doing about a 9:30 ish pace which was good for me on the trail.  Especially coming off a week with a chest cold, it was nice to get a trail run in with some cool people at Potomaic river  running.  The course was pretty muddy so it was hard to gauge how it would be in June but lots of single track plus it had some nice hills about 3-4 miles into the run.   This should be pretty challenging when the 50k comes rolling around.  Talked to a bunch of people which was cool and met this one guy who ran the BEAST series which entails 3 50k's, 1 50 miler, 1 100k, and 1 100 miler - SICK!  It would be something if I could ever get to that and definitely something to shoot for so we will see!  All in all, had a cool day and really enjoyed running there - we might have to get out there again.

PR Saucony Trail Run

Today we met up with a bunch of other runners at Algonkian Park, site of theNorth Face Endurance Challenge DC to do a group trail run sponsored by Potomac River Running and Saucony. Saucony had lots of awesome trail shoes to try including the Peregrine which I lust after but cannot wear at the moment because I need more stability in my shoe. Someday the Peregrine will be mine when I get through marathon training and rehab this PTT some more. The Saucony rep also had some of the awesome Vizipro vests that actually have rechargeable flashing lights built into them. I really want one of those. I did not try any gear today because I really wanted to focus on getting in a good trail run and learning a new trail. I was really excited to try out this section of trail because I'm running the North Face Half on June 2 so this was a good chance to run a decent section of the course. It was supposed to be sunny and 65, but it ended up about 55 and foggy with light drizzle for most of the run which was actually pretty comfortable once you got going.The Saucony rep gave his little pitch about the gear, and then we broke into pace groups. I went out with what was supposed to be the slower 90 minute group, but my intent was to get 10 miles in. The first part of the trail was pretty easy, just basic packed dirt and gravel with some minor roots and stream crossings thrown in. The rain had made parts of the trail really muddy and slick so thank goodness for trail shoes. There were a few challenging climbs right after the 30 minutes of running time point including some trick single track switchbacks. A lot of the 90 minute group bailed out right after that section, but I wanted to get a full 5 miles out. I figured that I would turn around when I saw the faster 90 minute group heading back and follow that group in. I ran until I got to the 5 mile point, but I never saw anyone heading back so I was a bit concerned as I had been pretty careful to follow the instructions to keep the Potomac to the left on the way out and stay on the green trail. By the way running alongside the Potomac was awesome! It was really moving today and parts of the trail were really close to the river so it was pretty thrilling. After about a mile back, two women in Saucony vests caught up to me so I was relieved to have someone to run with the rest of the way back and to know that I was headed in the right direction. None of us could figure out why we never saw any of the faster runners coming back so I guess they must have gone on a different trail or something. Anyway, they were both really nice although a bit faster than me. Luckily they were really chatty and liked to stop and take photos so I could either get ahead of them or catch back up while they were stopping for photo ops. We kept a pretty good pace most of the way back and reached the park and checked back in. I managed to stick to my clean food challenge and not scarf any donuts or hot chocolate. It was an awesome morning of running with some really fun people on a great trail. As Saucony says, "Find your strong."
My Asics 2170trail shoes with about 2 pounds of mud on them at the end.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A real 5K PR

So I have a secret not quite 5K PR of 24:26.  The problem is that this PR was at the Red Shoe 5K last year which ended up being 2.9 miles so not quite a 5K.  So my true 5K PR is 24:59 at this year's Gobble Wobble in which I placed 3rd in my age group.  At the first 5K of the year, I really wanted to better that PR, get sub-24:30, and hopefully place in my age group.  I accomplished 2 of 3 at the BRATS Frozen 5K this weekend.  It truly was frozen with a race start temperature of 28F, but it didn't feel that cold once I ran a warm-up mile.  I stayed outside and kept loose until it was time to run.  Then I took off with the rest of the crazy people at the front of the pack.  I ran a 7:20 first mile which is one of the best first miles that I've ever run in a 5K.  I held on during the second mile for 7:56.  The third mile was where Thursday's 16 mile long run started to catch up with me.  My legs started to feel really tired and heavy.  I was trying to get myself to hang onto sub-8 for that last mile, but I couldn't do it and ended with a 8:15 for the last mile.  By the time I crossed the finish line, I had a 24:29 so I PR'd still not beating my fake Red Shoe PR, but bettering my legit 5K PR.  I also got the sub-24:30 that I wanted.  However, when I checked the standings, I was 7/49 in my age group.  There were some crazy fast women out there on Sunday, and I wasn't one of them.  I was still happy with my run.  I am beginning to believe that with a bit of work I can get to sub-23.  Since I'm back in marathon training, I haven't been focusing on 5Ks or speed, but I've been getting faster just because my stamina is better.  If I can put together 3 consistent sub-8 miles, I can do this thing.  Maybe this spring after the B&A Trail Marathon is over, I will do some track work and see what happens.
Gainesville Moms Run This Town post-race

Monday, January 7, 2013

BRATS Frozen 5K - Manassas, VA

So Heather and I decided to run the BRATS Frozen 5K..this would be my second time running this race, Heather's first...Last year, I got 21:18 which at the time was good for me since it was only my 2nd 5k.  Knowing I was going to run this race,  I tried to get some miles in while on vacation down in North Carolina.  However, I had this chest cold thing going on and was only getting worse.  To boot, my left achilles was aching a tad which most likely stemmed from a tight left calf.  So the day of the race arrives (1/6/2013) and we wake up, look outside....good, no rain for this one.  Looked at the thermometer  - ouch 26F.  Nothing exactly running weather but what the hell.  Hoped in the car and headed up to the GMU Freedom Aquatic and Fitness there around 7:30 for an 8:30 am race.

Here is a picture of us just chilling in the car half awake:

Heather and I ran about a mile together and then she went to go stretch out some more.  I went back out for another .5 miles given it takes me at least 2 miles before I can even warm up.  I get back and we mosey over to the starting line and the introduce this 8 year old boy who is the 8 year old USA junior XC champion - and runs a 5:40 mile.  I am thinking GREAT...another phenom thats going to smoke me.  Finally, off goes the gun..I take off around a 6 minute mile pace and hit my first mile at 6:21.30 according to the trusty garmin.  I am feeling pretty good as this is a flat course but the weather, a steamy 27F at this point has my fingers freezing and lungs burning...We go out and hit the turn around mark and I hit the 2nd mile at a slow 6:50.  I really need to work on my second mile - it really turns out to be the difference maker.  From miles 2-3 I run a 6:34....approaching the final turn towards the finish I can see the clock which is at this point, I know I am more than 3 seconds away from this thing and am cursing all the way to the finish.  I end up with a personal best 20:02 but NOT sub 20 which is something I would like to have.  If I trained for 5k's, maybe I could improve my times.   So I check my times on the computer and it says I come in 4th but the Master's winner took one spot moving me up to third...before I knew I had come in third, heather took a quick picture of me:

However, when I found out that I actually came in third, I was pretty excited..below is a picture of heather celebrating with me:

Of note, Heather also PR'd with a time of 24:29 which is awesome...however, her group was stacked and came in 7th out of 49...It was a great time by all and will most likely do it again next year!  Now, rest that massive head cold I have been fighting all week...probably start running later this week and start training for the Run your Heart out 5k (PR event) in February.  Here is a link to me finishing the race: HERE.