Monday, January 20, 2014


After last years debacle where the 10k turned into a 5 miler because none of the volunteers had a clue, Heather and I thought what the hell, lets give it a shot this year.  They can't F it up again, can they. we get there to find out the bathrooms are locked for the winter...ooops, yea, that is going to suck...ok, no big deal, you only have to go about .5 miles up the road to shit or piss...ok, so we find out that they are not going to time the me, that is hard is it to time a race with 50 people in it.  Me, I like competition and racing hard...I know I am not faster than most good runners but love to push myself...if I wanted to run Wakefield again for fun, I would of stayed home and just done a 10 miler at Battlefield.  Ok, so I warm up, hit the can twice and then we line up.

  He says go and I go out at a 7:40 min pace, comfortable given the trail is flat and frozen...I look back and no one is behind me...ok, I keep moving and get about 2.5 miles in and I am still in first...not like it means much since there is no time but a few of us are running hard...So I am following the orange flags they have setup...SOOO, I get to an area where there are no flags, it just I stop, about a minute later, the guy behind me catches up and says he is lost now we are both we rerun about a mile of the trail back and ask one of the volunteers and he does not know how we got lost....anyhey, we both jog it back in and I vow never to do this run again...its fine if you are bored but this is the second year in a row where people get lost in these woods...maybe it was my fault and I wasn't paying attention...doubt it but ok..either way, pick another race next year on Martin Luther king day....<SIGH>...and to boot, my 2nd metatarsal of my left foot started aching around mile 2..most likely from the pounding of the frozen trail and the fact that I had been picking up more miles in the woods lately...

MLK Trail Race Strikes Out Again

Since we had a holiday today, we decided to give the MLK Trail 5 Miler put on by Springfield based Metro Run Walk one more try.  We had tried this run last year, and it was a bit of a mess (more mess).  To be fair, the race has a really low entry fee, and most of the proceeds go to charity so we don't expect a big deal.  They are clear that it won't be a regular timed event with results, but they do promise a marked course and post-race food (last year the soup was rocking).

Given that they were only doing a single distance this year, we hoped that they had learned some lessons and would be better prepared.  When we arrived at Wakefield Park, we discovered that the restrooms close to the race start were closed for construction.  We ended up having to jog about 2 minutes down a trail to get to restrooms in a rec center.  Not a huge deal, but the race volunteers really weren't very helpful or knowledgeable about where the restrooms were.

I met up with a few women from other Moms Run This Town chapters.  The race director did a few announcements saying to follow the orange flags and that there was no water on the course, but they had bottles of water at the start that we could carry.  Now this isn't a huge deal as it was only a 5 mile race, but it would have been nice to mention this in the pre-race e-mail so that runners who did want water could bring a handheld instead of carrying a regular water bottle through the trail and likely end up littering (as this was a trail newbie crowd).  Given that this was a newbie group, I positioned myself near the front so I could get out on the single track and not have to wait for people who don't like to run through stream crossings.

I got out really well and was holding a 9:30 pace for the first mile.  I was feeling pretty good and cruising along clearing obstacles, splashing through the wet areas, and handling myself on the trails that were all torn up from the mountain bikes.  I came through the second mile a little under 10 minutes (my splits are not quite right as the satellite reception was off in the woods and my Garmin was always behind the mile markers).  Mile 3 was a little slower because there was a lot of weaving around on switchbacks across the powerline area of the trail.  This was annoying, confusing, and really unnecessary as EX2 manages to get a 5+ mile trail run in without having to do this.  At this point it was a little confusing, and I lost the trail slightly because it was poorly marked and the volunteer gave unclear instructions.  I noticed another girl who was on the trail that I wasn't quite on so I cut through some high grass and got back on the trail.  Again with this race and the bad trail markings!  Jim at EX2 marks parks all over Fairfax, and I have never gotten lost or even confused on one of his trails, but two years in a row with this annoying race in a park I know.  Given that it wasn't an actual timed race, I wasn't too worried about running the course exactly right, but still irritating.

Anyway, for some reason my left foot goes completely numb in mile 3. I think my shoe was too tight.  I could have stopped to loosen it, but I just wanted to finish the run.  I also didn't want anyone to pass me.  I was feeling a little competitive and kind of wanted to be top Mom.  I knew there were only 3 women in front of me because I got out hard so I was hoping to finish top 5 woman even though there weren't any prizes, and the field wasn't that competitive.  So I had to slow some because it was hard to keep a strong pace on the trail when I couldn't feel it with one foot.  I tightened up in the last mile and ended up getting passed by one more woman.  I debated putting on a sprint to run her down at the end because her kick wasn't very strong, but it wasn't worth it to me because I have a lot of miles to do this week.  So I think I ended up like 5th woman.  I finished in 52:40 (~10:30 average pace...not bad, but I was hoping for closer to 50  minutes flat given my strong start).

The soup wasn't very hot this year so that was kind of disappointing.  The long sleeve t-shirt was nice as always, and we got in some good trail miles.  I'm not sure that I would do this one again given that this is the second year that it has been a bit of a mess.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

BRATS Frozen 5k

So once again, the BRATS Frozen 5k rolled around and Heather, the kids and I decided to partake.   Last year, I came in 3rd in my age group with a 20:03 time however this year, I was incredibly out of shape and after being diagnosed with two hip labrum tears in mid December (MRI arthrogram), I really hadn't put to much time into training.  I had run no more than 8-10 miles per week for the last few weeks and pretty much took off November and part of December.  So we arrive at the Freedom Center and I hit the potty, as usual - and shake of the normal 5k nerves.  I met up with Nick Reed who I met last year.  He won the race last year and I totally expected him to take it down this year.  I went for a 1 mile run, it was raining outside and was about 28F...however, it felt colder...Finally, the kids, Heather and I meet up at the start and were off.
Kids pre-race
Heather with Moms Run This Town Gainesville/Woodbridge/Manassas

 This year, they had moved he course around and it was actually much better.  I took off and my first mile was 6:34, not good, not bad for not running at all....the second mile I died and ran at 7:01...just pitiful....the last mile was a little like the first and was 6:46...rounding the turn at the top, I sprinted past a bunch of guys in my age group to take the 3rd place AG award with 20:27.   To be some type of tough guy, I wore my Oil Creek 100 t-shirt...mentally, it gave me the seriously, I just felt like wearing it.  All in all the race was wet and slippery with snow still on the ground.

 Poor Nic slipped on the ice and rolled his ankle but it is getting better.  He was a trooper and finished the race even after Heather offered to let him short cut back to the finish.  Zach had a decent race, but the conditions were pretty icy so he didn't get his best time and just missed out on placing in his age group although he did place top 5.

  Overall results, I came in 39th out of 447 and 3/16 in my age group.

Not a bad run but would like to actually train one year and see how I do. 

Nic and Zach recovering and warming up with some hot chocolate

Saturday, January 4, 2014

JD's 2013 in Review

Well, I must say it was a good year and I accomplished a lot.  Coming off Achilles tendonitis issues in 2012, I did not want to miss any races this year and may have overdone it with the race schedule but hey, life is too short.  I ran 21 races this year and a little over 1000 miles during my training runs.  The highlight for me can be easily summed up with one word:  100k.  I ran my first 100k this year at Oil Creek State Park even though I had never ran more than 40+ miles a week and no more than 31 miles in one session.  The course was as brutal as it was beautiful and it couldn't of been done without my wife Heather who paced me the last 50k - I finished the race where a lot of people didn't and was pretty proud of that.

I also PR'd a marathon in which I really didn't expect to.  I ran a hilly marathon (Drake Well Marathon) in Titusville, PA and got a 3:49/8:45 pace.  The first 10 miles of that course is up and down which take a lot out of your legs but for some reason, I really felt good that day.

 Another highlight happened during one weekend in April.  I ran the Red Shoe 5k and got a 20:00/6:27 pace and came in first in my age group and ran the Cherry Blossom 10 miler the next day and got a 1:13:05 which is about 4 minutes faster than my previous and only 10 miler (Army 10 miler in 2011).

The worst race of the year was the North Face 50k, it was 95 degress that day and I really wanted to DNF but didn't and I think it helped.  I think I ran that one in a little over 7 hours, clearly a horrible day but you can't always have great runs.

And how can I forget the La Sportiva Hill Climb in Vail, CO - wow, just breathing is the hard part, let alone running the 7.5 miles up to the top of the ski hill which sits at 10,200 feet.  For a lowlander, I think I did ok and had a blast.  I definitely want to do another run like that this year, maybe a half marathon, don't know yet.

Another race that I was pretty scared going into was "America's Toughest Road Marathon" or the Blue Ridge marathon which has 7,430 of elevation change and finished with a time of 4:29:47.  I ran that with another running friend of mine and it felt like a 50k.  I surprised myself this year when I ran the heritage 5k in 20:58 6 days after the Oil Creek 100k.  I don't know why I did it, I shouldn't left foot was still sprained but thought I was tough or something.  Either way, I enjoyed that run too and got first in my age group there as well.

Lastly, a race I just ran for fun was called the Three Fox Vineyards 5k in Delaplane, VA.  I came in third overall in that race and was extremely hilly.

Of course, all these races wouldn't be fun unless I had my boys and heather to run with - until next year...

Starting the New Year Off Running

We ran the Resolution 5K in Beaufort, North Carolina on New Year's Day.  We ran the race last year in the pouring rain with about 19 other hardy souls.  This year the weather was much better, and there were about 100 runners out for either 5K or 1 mile.  The course is super flat and an easy out and back that goes down historic Front Street right along the water.  It is pretty scenic with lots of historic homes and of course the water views.  The premium this year was an awesome headband/earwarmer so a nice change from the usual shirt.
Nic is showing off our premium

The kids and I had an OK run, not a best for either of them but good efforts overall.  We had a pretty good head wind for the first 1.5 miles so I think that effected us for the latter half of the race.  Zach ended up at 28:20.  Nic and I ran 30:20.  Zach placed third in the under 14 boys group so that was pretty awesome.

Modeling my awesome new Inkburn top

After that we headed off to our annual Penguin Plunge in Atlantic Beach.  The weather was pretty warm so the plunge wasn't too bad this year.  We had a great time and were happy to start the new year off running as a family again.
Pre plunge
Ready to take the plunge

Next up is the Frozen 5K which promises to live up to its name.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Year in Review

2013 was a big running year for me.  I turned into an ultrarunner this year which was the biggest challenge that I had set up for myself.

I ran a total of  1526 miles of which 287 miles  were raced in 30 races. I also finished the Dirt in Your Skirt Holiday Hundred Challenge with 146 miles between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve.

During the year, I set a 5K PR, a marathon PR, a 50K PR, 10 mile road and trail PRs, and a 5 mile trail PR.  I also placed third in my age group twice and became a Half Fanatic and a Marathon Maniac.

Despite all of that, the highlights of my running year are not my races.  My top three highlights were 1) pacing the last 50K of the Oil Creek 100K with JD

2) running the Mother's Day 4 Miler with Zach

 and 3)  running the Run for Independence 8K with Nicolas.

 My personal highlight would be crossing the finish line of my first ultra distance at Youngstown Ultra Trail Classic.

And how can I forget meeting in person Bill Rodgers, Bart Yasso, and Frank Shorter and of course, Dean Karnazes whose book inspired me to want to run marathons in the first place.
Bill Rodgers

Bart Yasso

Frank Shorte

Ultramarathon man in the flesh!

Overall I had a great year of racing and enjoyed sharing that with my family and with the new running friends.  My running circle has really grown over the year thanks to Moms Run This Town, and I love meeting new people on our runs.

Zach completed 11 5Ks, a 4 mile race, and an 8K this year and got himself a nice 5K PR, an age group award, and a sub-8 minute mile at summer track. Zach has plans to run his first 10K this spring. Nicolas raced 10 5Ks, a 4 mile race, and an 8K this year and got a sub 30 minute 5K this year.  We also had a blast at Run Amuck and the boys had 1-2 finishes at the Red Shoe and Run Like the Wind Kid's Races.

I'm looking forward to a terrific 2014 season.  We already raced our first 5K on New Year's Day (report to come).  We are racing the Frozen 5K on Sunday and probably a few other 5Ks in February and March.  My next big race is March 15 Instant Trail Classic Marathon.  I am also signed up for the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile in April,  Pittsburgh Marathon in May and super excited about the Ultra Mega Transect in October.  My big goal for the year is a 50 miler (crossing my fingers to get into Bull Run but if not considering Vermont), and I'm leaning towards throwing my hat into the ring for Oil Creek 100K.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Resolution 5k 2014 - Beaufort, NC

On 1/1/2014, Heather the boys and I ran the Resolution 5k in Beaufort, NC.  As always, I had been dealing with some hip issues but was working through them.  I ran that week but had not run much the previous weeks as I was resting the hip and just biking.  Well, the race was at 9am and we got there around 7:30am - chilled at the coffee shop near front street where the race was going to be starting from.  This year, it looked as if it was going to have around 100 people - better than the 31 people from last year's monsoon.  So 9am rolls around, I do about .5 mile warmup run and get back to the line.  There were a couple of track starts at the front so I told myself, try to stay with them as long as you can.  Well, I stayed with them for about a mile and that was about it.  The race was an out and was flat but very windy that day and I got a 21:10/6:48 pace for 5th overall and first in my age group.  Any other time, I would of run that course faster but after no real running for a month, I was happy to be running somewhat pain free.  After we finished, we headed back to the coffee place to warm up  - then off to the Penguin plunge at 1am at Atlantic Beach...

All in all, its a low key event with limited bathrooms.  Everyone had fun and that's all we were looking for!
Leaders take off...two high school track champions, me, and a bunch of little kids!