Sunday, July 28, 2013

Three Fox Vineyard 5k - (Third place overall)

Pre Race:
After a couple of high mileage weeks training for the Drake Well Marathon coming up on August 18th, 2013, I decided to run the Three Fox Vineyard 5k (7/28/2013) in Delaplane, VA.  It a rural area with tons of good hills plus you get to have some wine after the race.  So a couple of days ago, I got a  decent 10 miler in at Manassas Bull Run Battlefield.  Right knee was a tad tight and the legs were growing tired.  I had no idea if half of the Warrenton cross country team would show up or what.  Heather wanted the kids and I to run so I said sure, it sounded like fun and I haven't run a 5k in ages.  The race didn't start until 9:30 which is late for a race, at least it is for me.  We drove up to Delaplane and got there around 8:30am.  Got the BIB, I was #14 and took a quick run around the vineyard to stretch out the legs.  So I'm running along and here comes this woman chain smoking on the way to the registration....I stopped and said, "are you shitting me", really?  Smoking at a 5k?  Response - none, she cowered and quickly put it out.  Now I don't care if you smoke but if I see that shit at a race, I am like WTF - I don't need to suffocate on your second hand smoke...However, we do live in VA so I shouldn't of been to surprised.  Oh yea, we tooks some pre race pics as we always do:

Here is a picture of heather before the race, sporting the cute pink outfit.

This is the "aid" station for loops 1 and 2, poorly manned I must say however, we are talking about a 5k, not water wasn't really a necessity.

Shitter Assessment:
As I always do, I assessed the preparedness and quality of the "shitters" or port-o-dumps at any of the races I attend.  Well, we have a new winner...this port-o-dump takes all awards...just feast your eyes on this puppy:

As you can see from the inside, we not only have a clean seat, we have a trashcan and flowers.  What you don't see is the honeywell fan and sink in the dumper.  You could actually live in this thing is you wanted to.  As stated, I gave this shitter an A+.  Hell, this beats most motel rooms you would sleep in.  (Heather:  Seriously, I would have eaten a meal in this thing.  It was that clean.  It even smelled nice.)

Ok, the smoking rant and toilet talk is over now.  So the race starts on a hill, how appropriate.  After a couple of instructions of where to go which didn't really match up with the overall course, we get to the line. (Heather:  The instructions were some confused muddle of run up a hill and then turn and follow cones and run up another hill and don't fall over tree roots and then make a few more turns.  I had run the race last year so I knew where I was going, but I felt bad for the front runners who didn't have a clue.)  It's me and about 10 dudes - eveyone else gets in the back.  Gun goes off and we are off...As I said, the 3.18 mile course had you either up or down...flats, not a minimum, you were rolling.  At first, I was in 5th place behind some dude who is stacked so I called him Mr. Stacked, Libby (more on her name later), Ryan (some random I met in the parking lot who looked like he could run), and Hoka shoes ( he wore them so that is how I identified him) right out of the gate, Libby, who BTW is 12 years old takes a wrong turn...we sort of follow but then catch on she is off the path...BTW, Libby had a sick 5:30/6 min/mile pace going on out of the gate (Heather:  I tried to set Zach up on a running date with Libby, but she was a little old for him.)  ...I was thinking that there is no way I could keep that pace throughout but I would try...finally, after the wrong turn we are back and head downhill for a small bit before we have to come back up this steep hill...I am still in 5th at this point....I hit mile one at around 7:07...not to bad for a massive incline that had me creeping up the hill like some old man.  BTW, that massive incline decreased the pace severely...moving us from a 6 min mile to about a 7...At about 1.25 miles, I passed little Libby - so I ended up knowing her name b/c her dad would be constantly saying "come on Libby, he's right in front of you"..."come on Libby"...well that shit was getting old ...I was thinking, pick on some other old dude...When I passed her, I could here that her breathing was laboring age 12, she was doing good but I needed to pick it up....then Mr. Stacked starts to slow...I was thinking "how the hell can steroid man keep this pace on these up and down hills"...well, time was on my side, he bonked hard and came to a screeching halt around mile 2 at which point I passed him.  At this point, Hoka man, Ryan, and me were 1,2,3.  The last mile was where I could make up some ground but saw that my shoelaces came undone...this while we were going down a big hill mountain thing with tons of rocks and the first thing I told myself, don't twist and I catch up to the second place guy and STOP, yes, now you are probably thinking...WTF are you doing...well it only took me a few seconds to tie my shoe but it was quick and he wasn't that far in front of me....However, we were now approaching a big climb which I was unable to make up distance....I didn't calculate this in when I stopped...yea, I f'd up...This stayed the same until the last .25 miles of which I came within 9 seconds of him but wasn't enough to get second and ended up with 3rd place overall in the race with a time of 22:02/7:06 pace.

As stated, I came in third overall and got some nice wine glasses - which they said are being sent to me.  Lets see if they get here!

I have an 8 tomorrow so its back to marathon training...then 50k training, then 100k training...

Heather:  Zman ran his own race and wanted to beat his time of 35:57 for last year.  This was his first ever cross country race when we ran it last year, and he kept talking about how much fun it was.  He took off at the start flying on a 7 minute pace on the downhills.  He had to have run somewhere around a 9 minute pace on the first mile, but since he doesn't have his own Garmin we don't know for sure.  I think he was going so fast that he missed the cows.  Some more views of the gorgeous course.

Nickel and I ran together, and I gave Nickel some motivation before race start.  There was some woman who had a kid and had spent 30 minutes before the race bragging about what a good runner her kid was.  The kid looked to be about Nickel's age so I used him for motivation.  Now I really don't care if your kid is a better runner than mine.  In fact there are lots of kids who are better than my kids which is great.  What I hate is the non-stop yapping about it before the race.  Just shut up and run the race.  So Nickel hung with Zman for about the first 1/2 mile and then faded a bit.  We ran a 9:50 first mile.   We hit a pretty good climb in the second mile that he needed to walk, but he kept pushing on the downhills and shorter climbs.  I kept encouraging him to try to close the gap on Zman and widen the gap on the other kid.  Nickel thrives on competition so that got him focused and dialed in.  As we hit the last loop around the vineyard we saw Zman making the turn toward the finish line.  I yelled to him to push it in hard and that he would definitely PR the course.  He blew away last year's time and finished in 30:02 earning him first place in the 1-14 age group and 15/43 overall males.  He was so excited to have done that well on a cross country course.  At that point I noticed that Nickel could beat Zman's time from last year if he pushed it in hard so I let him know.  He sprinted the end and finished with a 34:27 which was over 11 minutes better than he did last year.  Nickel finished 2nd in the age group and was really excited to have beat Zman's time from last year.
Kissing the fox post race

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sub-8 Mile!

Just a quick post to mark the event...Zman ran his first sub-8 minute mile at the last track meet of the season last night.  He had been working towards it all summer, and we got great weather for it last night.  He put in the work last night and clocked a 7:57!

Friday, July 19, 2013

37th Annual La Sportiva Vail Hill Climb, Vail, Colorado (July 6th, 2013)

Getting There:
A few months ago when planing our summer vacation, we had planned on doing Moab, UT with the kids for some fun hiking adventures.  I brought up the idea to fly into Aspen, CO and drive to Vail for the La Sportiva Vail Hill Climb.  So we fly out of Dulles on Friday morning and get to Denver, from Denver take a small plane over to Aspen.  Here is a quick shot of me goofing around at Dulles

Get there, get the rental car and off to Vail.  This is where the real fun begins.  Heather had mentioned that she wanted to take a different route to Vail which would lead us through Aspen up to Independence Pass which sits at 12,000 feet elevation and then cruise into Vail that afternoon.  So, we hop in the rental SUV with no water, no food and expect to hit something along the way.  Well guess what, there wasn't shit along the way.  Unless you call death defying cliffs with no barriers far as food went, we were shit out of luck.  Now Aspen sits at about 7800 feet so I was feeling a tad whoosy plus only had one bottle of water to drink about 3 hours before.  The whole purpose was to drive over Independence Pass and through Leadville, CO, an ultra runners must see.  Here are some shots of the top of Independence pass and Leadville, CO:

At this point, I can barely stand and snap a few quick shots before handing the car keys over to heather.

 It's about 100 miles from Aspen to Vail much of it driving 25 miles an hour and through tiny and dangerous roads.  Finally, we got to Twin Lakes, CO which had this little dump of a store but to me, was heaven  - I got 7 bottles of water for the family and I and some food.  We finally arrive at the Vail Marriott soon after and checked in the hotel.
Packet pick up

The Race
 So the day of the race comes and after a gallon of water, 25 trips to pee during the night and 3 solid hours of sleep (maybe), I am ready to go for my first altitude run in Vail, CO.  We wake up around 5am, get dressed and head out of the Vail Marriott to the shuttle.
Waiting for the shuttle

Shuttle ride to the start line

As I always do for any race is assess the shitter situation - I give this one a B+.  They had no port-o-shitters but they did have a nice and warm bus station center you could use if you want to dump it up.
Near the start line

It was about 53 F out, alot colder than the 90+ temps I was used to in VA.  Get to the starting line, pee 5 more times, go to SBUX to warm up and then kiss heather goodbye.  No, I didn't have a mocha however, a guy I met in line waiting said he went out all night drinking.  Thinking that was not quite a good idea, he tops it by ordering a bacon, egg, and cheese AND venti ice coffee...10-1 he chucked on the course or DNF'd.  Heather and the kids headed out early so they could catch the gondola up to the top of the mountain.

Kids chilling in the gondola on the way to the finish line
After a few words by the race director and the national anthem, we are OFF.  The first mile was around the Vail Village...I wanted to be conservative so I kept my pace around a 8 min mile for the first mile thinking this shit is going to get real fast...then, we go up and up and up and up....When mile 2 started, all conversational talk that usually exists with most races, ENDED....The air was thin and the inclines were massively steep.  Starting at 8500 feet, we would rise to 9500 feet by mile 4, from 4-7.5, we would end at 10,200.  The course was go like this..go up a long hill (run if you could), switchback which was a smaller hill but runnable, repeat 20 times!  There were aid stations at miles 2.5, 4, and mile 6.5.  I carried an handheld from the beginning which was a godsend only a few miles in.  It was kind of like a game of donkey kong where you kept going up the side of the mountain snaking up and up and up - except no barrels being thrown at you..just no oxygen and plenty of trail.  I think the trail we went up was a blue ski trail, no sure though.
View of Mile 6.5 aid station from gondola

Course views from gondola

Finish area

Waiting for Dad-you could see down to almost the mile 3 marker from the top
I met some guy on the course from Louisiana and he said the altitude was killing him too.  It felt like I was catching my breath every so often but having to take twice as many breaths to run.  The funny thing was, my legs felt great, it was just crazy hard to breath.   I had to piss something fierce from drinking all the water the night before so I hurried behind the white truck at the 6 mile aid station..  If I were running hard, would of held it or just pissed my pants.   I started to get a headache at about mile 5 and thought, hmm, this is not good, so I kept drinking water...I went with a handheld, some locals didn't bring anything...I was not that brave plus I had a vacation ahead of me and wanted to enjoy it.  The last 2 miles were grueling and ended at the top of the ski run where the gondola drops people off.  I came in 209th out of almost 500, midpacker is who I am with a time of 1:20:59...all in all, I am happy with the run and loved the race.  If I had more than 18 hours to acclimate from going to 200 feet above sea level to 9000 feet, I may have done better...but this was more of a fun run for me  - heather, the boys, and I had blast and would definitely do it again.
Shot from the top of the mountain-Where's JD? (Hint:  Look for the red socks)
Finishing strong

After the race, I took some shots at the top of the mountain finish line:

Can someone get me an oxygen tank, stat :)  At this point, we are 
at 10,200 feet above sea leve.
Grabbing the swag - no shirt until you finish.

The boys and I goofing around after the race.

Next up for me is the Drake Well Marathon on August 18th in Titusville, PA...should be a nice training run for the Oil Creek 100k in October.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hiking the Arches

Our first day of hiking in Moab was to target Arches National Park.  We were a bit conflicted as there were some longer hikes that we would have liked to have done, but we were hesitant with the boys and the high temperatures.  We also wanted to make sure that we hit the major areas in the park so we were a little limited.  The most popular hike in the park is the Delicate Arch Trail.  The hike is 3 miles round trip. The park categorizes it as strenuous, but I would say that it is easy/moderate depending on conditioning.  JD and I found it pretty easy.  It was manageable but some work for the boys.  The trail was extremely well marked and had some climbs, but they were not overly long.  The tricky part is that a lot of the climbs were along the slickrock so if it would have been wet I could imagine that it would be a bit more difficult.  The trail starts off at Wolfe Ranch.
Boys outside the one room cabin

Then there is a short loop that takes you out to some incredibly well preserved Ute petrogylphs.
As we got close to the 1 mile mark we could see Frame Arch that essentially frames Delicate Arch.
Then we had to navigate a tricky area that frankly terrified me as we were on slickrock that was slanted downwards towards a 60' drop into a sandstone bowl.  So if you hike this with children you need to be cautious.  It was worth the hike as Delicate Arch is simply amazing and worth seeing up close.

Delicate Arch
You need to start this hike early as it gets crowded very quickly.  We started at 7 am, and as we were heading back around 8:30-9 am the trail was quickly becoming very crowded.

Our second hike of the day was to Landscape Arch through the Devil's Garden Area.  This is the second most popular hike in the park.  This area was packed by 9 am.  The hike is about 1.5 miles round trip.  The trail is mostly packed gravel and extremely flat so this makes it all the more popular for tourists who want to see arches but aren't into hiking.  If I hadn't really wanted to see this arch, I would have skipped this hike as it was really just a walk on a packed nature trail.
Landscape Arch

We drove off onto a dirt road to have a quick picnic out of the back of the car before heading off to check out a few of the shorter trails.  Sand Dune Arch was a short walk and was great for kids as it is basically an arch with an enormous sand pit underneath it.  It's like a big shaded sandbox.

From there you can hike about 1.4 miles round trip to Broken Arch.  This is really flat and an easy hike, but it is very hot in the afternoon and offers no shade.
View of Broken Arch from trailhead
We were pretty much over the hordes of tourists by this point so we quickly checked out the Windows section and headed out of the park.  Overall we enjoyed Arches and the scenery, but we were not thrilled with the crowds.  I guess you can't expect anything different during the summer months, but we were spoiled by the solitude of Joshua Tree last year.

Runner's High on Vacation

I'll post more details about our hikes on the trip later, but I wanted to get down some notes about the two short non-treadmill runs that I did while on vacation.  Our first stop was in Vail, Colorado.  We had flown in to Aspen and chosen to drive to Vail via Independence Pass.  That was a bit of a shocker to get off of the airplane and be at slightly over 8000' elevation only to jump in the car and climb to 12,000'+ within an hour.
Pit toilet at 12,095 feet so of course we had to use it!

  Everyone was a little cranky and loopy, and the drive was a bit terrifying.  JD drove up, and I drove down.  We were pretty excited to hit Twin Lakes and get some snacks and water and be back to 8000'.

Heaven on Earth aka Twin Lakes
Who knew how good that would feel after surviving the Pass?  We also made sure we drove through Leadville because how can you be a trail/ultrarunner and not pass through Leadville.  Leadville Trail Marathon is definitely on my bucket list!

On our second day in Vail, I had a little free time to go out for a short run.  After walking around Vail, I had discovered the Gore Valley Trail that you could pick up in any of the little villages.  I ran from Lionshead into Vail Village and back using the trail for about a 3 mile run.  The first mile was tough because I was having a lot of trouble catching my breath.  I did manage to run slightly under 10 minute miles for the last two miles and was definitely starting to feel better as I went.  The trail was gorgeous, and I was disappointed that I didn't get to run on it more.
Eagle River right along the trail

When we hit Moab, Utah the following day, I was really excited to get in a short run on the trails around the Red Cliffs Lodge where we were staying.  They had a short but extremely scenic nature trail that ran right along the Colorado River.  We were back down to 4000' elevation which really didn't seem to bother me too much, but the temperatures were pushing 100.  It seriously did not feel that bad though because there was virtually no humidity, and there were nice breezes off of the Colorado.  I got close to three miles in around the lodge area.
I don't think I've ever been this happy to run in 100 degrees!

I would really like to experiment more with running at altitude because when we hit Las Vegas (2000') a few days later I killed a treadmill workout.  It felt like nothing to run 5 miles at close to 9 minute pace.  That is usually speedwork for me.  Sadly, the effects didn't last long as we are back in Northern Virginia dealing with a heat wave and on our third day of highest heat index east of the Mississippi.