Monday, January 19, 2015

MLK Trail run 10k (1/19/2015) - finally, they got it right!

Welp, we came back for a third year and it looks like the third time is a charm.  This year, they the Metro Run and Walk race had a 10k option that was going to be officially scored but the 5k was not.  Why, I have no f-ing clue.  It wouldn't of been that difficult but hey I am lucky they had a 10k option.  Race was in Wakefield Park in Annandale, VA as it is every year.  Both races were to go off at 9am so we got up around 6am, ate my usual which is raisin bread and justin's nutbutter.  Then we were out the door at 7am to get there and pick up our bibs and shit.  So after we get there, Heather grabs the bibs and shirts while I snap a selfie of me and the kids crapping around in the car.

In the car goofing around before the 10k!
A few minutes later, I see Juan Tisera, a fellow runner I met a couple of years ago at the North Face 50k.  Anyhey, I get out and get in about .5 miles in before the race.  The temps were about 38 to start which was nice.  I went with my #trailsRoc t-shirt compliments of Ron Heerkens who lives up in NY and belongs to that running group.  So the time arrives and we walk down to the start and I get up by the front as I don't want to get behind a bunch a people when we hit the single track trail section.  So we are off and I notice right away this is going to be a fucking sloppy mess with no footing, ice, and mud.  That said, I kept a 7:34 pace on the first mile, how I don't know because I felt like I was running much harder.  The second mile brought us back to almost where we started but we would be heading out to the Accotink Trail.  My 2nd miles was not good with a 8:02 - yea, it wasn't going to be a good day.  At this point, a 35 yo woman passed me which by the way was the only person to actually pass me during the race which is usually the case on single track trails.  However the Accotink Trail was actually quite wide, plenty of room for passing.  So I essentially ran with/behind her the whole way.  Mile three didn't have the muddy hills and leveled out and ran that at a 7:43 pace.  Now we were into the meat of the Trail and was it half done.  However, I could definitely feel the 4-5 lbs I had put on since December.  Mile 4 wasn't to bad as I had a sub-8 with a 7:59.  Mile 5 had us coming back to the start and coming off the Assotink Trail.  I did notice as this point that Mountain bikers were having trouble getting up some of the hills because of the ice and mud.  Anyway, mile 5 had me at 8:17....Coming into mile 6 I passed the woman who originally passed me at mile 6 which tells me I could of run the race much harder but was probably too conservative...Given that its January, I just didn't want to get hurt and I think that was the mindset of everyone out there.  I finished mile 6 with a 7:28 mile to give me 1st in my Age Group (40-49) with a final time of:  47:05:8.   I was very surprised to place in anything because I had run so poorly but I was 1/19 in the 40-49 age group and 15th out of 67 in the mens division for the 10k.  It turns out that its a new PR for me since I have only ran two 10k's since I started running!  Here is a shot of me coming down the home stretch:

Finishing with a time of 47:05 (7:35 pace)
Another shot of me coming in from further out.
We hung around a while and I was surprised to find out that I placed first in my age group:

First in the 40-49 AG.

Of course, all of us were covered in mud:

Just a little bit of mud...

I have no idea where this was, maybe at the end, not sure!

Final Stats:

Distance:  6.2 miles (10k)
Time:  47:05:8
Pace:  7:35/mile - sucked :)
Place:  1st in age group (1/19 in 40-49 and 15th out of 67 in the mens)
Location:  Wakefield Park/Assotink Trail
Who ran:  JD the 10k, Nic, Heather, and Zach the 5k
Conditions:  Mud and ice (sloppy)
Bathroom rating:  One toilet for 100+ people, you do the math.  Although I have had plenty of practice crapping in the woods so I am used to the situation by now!

Overall, they have improved alot and would recommend to others as long as they have an official timing company.  Maybe next year they can score the 5k's as well but doubt it.  Whats next?  Keep building my base and training by adding in hill work.   I do have the Cherry blossom 10 miler on April 12th - shooting for a sub 70 minute run as my best time there is 1:13 and change.   Next signed up run is the Glacier Ridge 50k near New Castle, PA in May.  I have the Mohican 50 miler in June and am really looking forward to that.  However, I may add in a marathon in March but don't know.  Next to work on getting my right hip flexor figured out. 

Third Times a Charm-MLK Trail 5K

Today we ran the MLK Trail 5K at Wakefield Park.  This was our third year doing some variation of the race.  We had not so great experiences the last two years with issues with poor course markings, but we love the idea of being able to race on a Monday so we decided to give it one more shot.

This year there were two distances.  The 5K was not being officially timed, and there were no prizes being given out so it was more of a fun run.  The 10K was officially timed and had awards.  I'm not sure that I understand the logic of not timing one distance if you are going to the trouble of having the timing mat set up anyway.  I'm guessing it's a cost issue since the race is for charity, but I would gladly pay a little extra for the 5K to get an official time.   The race was much improved over the past two years.

Packet pick up was easy once again.  We got there right when it opened at 8 am and were able to pick up our packets.  Shirts were extra and were a long sleeve cotton t shirt, but I always like the design so we got it.  I also appreciated that they actually had kid sized race shirts because the kids really do like to wear their race shirts to school and so many races don't offer shirts in child sizes. 

Bathrooms were also much improved as the park bathrooms were open this year so we didn't have to go to the recreation center to use the bathroom.  The race started on the CCT, and the race director warned us that the trail was muddy and wet.  No big deal for us, but I think it alarmed some of the runners who weren't quite used to trail running.  The race started promptly at 9 am and had a fairly good section of wide trail before it got to single tracking.  The 5K and 10K runners were on the same course for the first two miles.  Within the first mile we hit a ton of mud and ice.  I was running with the boys as I wanted to make sure they didn't get lost given previous issues with this race.  We hit right around a 9:50 for the first mile.  The first mile also included a small stream crossing.  As most other runners were trying to pick their way over on the rocks, I had a proud mama trail runner moment as my two guys ran straight through the stream.  I don't think the other runners appreciated our 'splash and dash' technique, but hey, it's a trail race.  We were looking to get dirty! 

After the first mile we circled back and headed out of Wakefield and into Lake Accotink.  Right around 2 miles we hit a water stop.  This was at the top of the only real climb on the course, and this section was also paved trail.  We had a nice 9:27 pace for the second mile.  At the water stop, we were supposed to turn around and head back to the finish while the 10K runners continued on.  Small problem:  they had no signage indicating this and were relying on the water stop volunteers to warn 5K runners to turn around.  They were not very vocal about this though so Zach overran the turnaround and only came back because I was shouting at him.  If I wouldn't have been there, the little guy would have been off to do the full 10K.  For next year, I would recommend a sign at the turnaround point.  Otherwise the course was very well marked this year and easy to follow.  As we headed back in the third mile, we were back on the very muddy trail sections so slopping along and getting messy.  The last mile was around 9:50 again.  We all finished within a few seconds of each other slightly over 30 minutes.  I beat the kids this time just because my legs are used to the trails, and they can't outkick me on the trails yet. 

We were actually among the really early finishers of the 5K so I'm pretty proud of their times.  They did a great job in some sloppy trail conditions.  The post race food was awesome.  They had hot veggie soup and chicken tortilla soup along with pita bread and a wide variety of sweet and salty snacks.  Overall we were very pleased with the race this year and will be back again.  Nice job fixing the issues from the previous years MetroRunWalk!

By the way, the awards from Richmond 8K arrived this week, and wow are they nice!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

BRATS Frozen 5K and Exciting Sign Up!!

Since JD already did a recap, I won't spend too much time on BRATS Frozen 5K.  The new course is OK.  It's just an out and back and is hilly on the way back with 135' of elevation gain over the course with most of it in mile 2.  The downhill on the way out is nice.  Having access to Sport and Health for bathrooms and post race activities is great.  As always, awards are terrific.  My only real complaint is that I wish they would fix the results so you can get chip and gun time.  The online results only have gun time which sometimes causes confusion if someone has a faster gun time than you, but then places behind you because you have a faster chip time.
My running friend and I before the race

Summary of my run: Should be renamed Dying a Slow Death 5K because that's what I did once again.  In all fairness it was downhill on the way out and pretty much uphill and into the wind on the way back.  7:32 mile 1; 8:28 mile 2; and pathetic 9:15 on mile 3; 8:15 last 0.1.  Overall I was OK with my time.  Good enough for 4th in my age group.  Temperatures were great but the course was not PR friendly even if I was in shape for it.  Final time:  26:23 for me and 25:52 and 25:54 for the boys.

The kids did a great job in their age group so we have two 5Ks in the books in the first 4 days of January.  The kids and I are going to try to log 2015 miles as a team in 2015 so they have each committed to 4 miles per week.  We are all pretty excited about that.
Little brother rubbing it in to big brother that he out kicked him.  Big brother is clearly not happy!

In other exciting news, JD and I signed up for Mega Transect an insane ultra in central Pennsylvania on August 29.  I am beyond excited about this race.  Registration online was insane yesterday with wait times of 16 and 25 minutes respectively for us to finally get our confirmation that we were in.

BRATS Frozen 5k - 1/4/2015

The #runningduricks decided to run the BRATS 5k again, however this year, the course moved from the Freedom Center in Manassas, VA to the Gainesville Sport & Health Fitness Center.  This meant instead of a flat fast course, we could be going up and down for 3 miles.  Definitely not a PR course however it was all for fun anyway.  After the race on News Year's Day, my right hip flexor had been bugging me, and I was a tad concerned given I have done no speed work and all of a sudden, I was jumping into sprint type races.  Ok, so we arrived at the Gainesville Sport & Health Fitness Center around 7:45, the race was at 8:30am.  I hit the dumper and it was packed with all the dudes working out at the fitness center and of course the runners starting to warm up.  After a couple trips to the can, I went out and ran for about .75 miles to get my legs warmed up.  Coming into this race, I am in horrible 5k shape.  First, I weigh 167, about 7lbs heavier than I want to be during the racing season.  Half the problem was that after the marathons ended, I kept up with the same type of eating schedule and thus I put on a good 5-7 pounds.  Second, I have done no real running given I have been trying to heal various aches and pains in the right leg/hamstring.  Lastly, motivation.  With no training and being a tad heavier, I just didn't feel like I could run well.

Before the race started, we all waited for the National Anthem to start but realized it had already started and the sound was all screwed up.  Oh well, they might want to work on that for next year.  That said, the RD gave us a few instructions and we were off.  The first mile was downhill a tad and I ran a 6:39 which felt decent and felt like I could have gone harder.  Then, I followed that up with a 7:23 - it was a small uphill followed up by a downhill.  Additionally, some kid passed out in front of us, so some other guy and I stopped to see if he was ok but some other runner was tending to him.  So both us kept going and I yelled out to the cop to notify him that some kid had passed out from running.  Never figured out what happened or if he just ran too hard or what.  The last mile was all uphill and ran a sluggish 7:40 - I might as well havebeen walking... that is just pitiful.  I finally make it to the top of the hill, bang a right and pass a few women on the way to the finish for a 22:08 - just horrible.  I am definitely to fat and out of shape to run 5ks and need to get them back down to the lower 20's and upper 19's.  However, that said, I got first in my AG (40-44):

5K Run results:
Miles:  3.10
Pace:  7:12/mile - out of shape!
Overall place:  37th out of 369
Age Group place:  1st out of 12 
Here is a few shots of me with the boys who also placed during the race.

Dad got 1st in AG, Nic got 2nd in AG, and Zach got 3rd in AG.

Pic of me getting my award!
Notes about the race:  First, don't think I will ever join Gainesville Sport and Health, too packed and crowed for my likes.  Second, BRATS gave us the clock time, not the chip time which if you actually cared would be anywhere from 2-10 seconds off.  I don't know why they did this but I noticed that my time was a few seconds off.  Third, not that competitive - even with my slow time, I managed to do well however it builds your confidence up but we know that if I entered a Potomac River Running race, I would come in 100th or worse!  All that said, it was a fun race for the family and would do it again next year.

Next:  Might do the MLK 10k in Wakefield, don't know yet.  It's in about 2 weeks or so.

Final stats from BRATS Frozen 5k:
Rank Athlete Bib Time
1James Durick79600:22:11
2Paul Chaney74900:23:03
3Troy Eldredge80400:23:07

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Beaufort Resolution 5K


On New Year's Day we decided to run the Beaufort Resolution 5K.  This is the third year that we have done this race.  We choose it mostly because there aren't many options in coastal Carolina during this time of the year, and it's part of the Crystal Coast Countdown in the area where we stay.  This race isn't well advertised, usually doesn't have online registration set up until about 2 weeks before the race, and is not timed or recorded so it has pretty low participation.  This year was probably the largest number of runners that we have seen.  The course is completely flat and is an out and back right down Front Street in Beaufort.  It actually boasts beautiful water views and tremendous historic homes so it's quite a pretty run.  The race was only $15 for adults and free for kids under 10 years old and proceeds went to support the local Boys and Girls Club.  There is a 5K and 1 mile option.  The bathroom situation was fine as there was an open coffee shop as well as public bathrooms at the start.

Front Street

Gorgeous mansions on the way out

Beautiful water views on the way back

My major issue with this race is that they advertise it as a fun run, but then they give out age group awards at the end.  They have to go one way or another with this.  If it's a fun run, then don't do the awards.  Everyone got a pedometer as our swag item for registering.  They had a clock set up at the start line so you could keep track of your time for your own purposes, and they had race bibs but no timing chips.  All fine if it is a fun run.  The problem arises when they pull the bottom off your bib at the end of the race and staple it to a big board.  Then the "race director" randomly decides on age groups (after the fact) based on participants in each group and hands out top 3 awards in each of those age groups, but the age groups include the overall top three who are not swept out of the placings.  These are all things that runners understand, but this race director was obviously not a runner.  So she stood at this board and decided that the age groups were <15, 15-30, 30-50 and 50+ for males and females.  Um, yeah, whatever on that one.  No times are recorded on the board nor are the results posted anywhere online so it's not like the awards matter.

Crazy results board and don't ask me what happened to 13-15
  They actually go to the trouble to buy decent medals, but then they can't be bothered to record times or post the results online.  It's so crazy.  There were at least 125 people who ran the 5K by my count of bib numbers and what ended up on the board so if they did want to do awards, they could have easily done top 3 in ten year age groups or winners only in ten year age groups.  They could also easily record the times on a clipboard as the runners cross the finish and then transfer this information and put it online if they don't want the expense of chip timing.  It really makes no difference to me if it is a fun run or a timed race, but giving out awards randomly after it was advertised as a fun run is just weird.  Lest you think I'm being sour grapes because we didn't get any awards, JD actually got 3rd place in the 30-50 age group this year. They did the same thing last year and both JD and Zach got awards last year as well.
JD's 20 year age group award-bet no one else can boast that!

OK, enough venting about the race.  It actually is a really nice course with great support from the local police and fire departments and an awesome way to kick off a new year.
Race start-JD is over there in the blue closest to the building.

I was having stomach issues on race day so I ran a pathetic 27:07.  Zach ran a 26:21 with Nic close behind at 26:23.  They ran together for most of the race, and then it was a foot race to the finish.  JD ran just under 22 minutes.  We were all a bit off our usual 5K game after staying up later than usual for New Year's Eve.  We still had a great time, and we will definitely be back next year.


Hiking Weetock Trail Croatan National Forest

Since we were in coastal Carolina for the winter break, we wanted to explore some new hiking trails.  We have hiked the Tideland National Recreation Trail the past few years.  This is a really pretty trail, but it's only 1.3 miles so it's not really that exciting if you have done it a few times.  They actually run the Croatan 24 Hour Race on this trail. While it would be super flat and pretty flat because the trail is packed gravel and boardwalk, it would be mind numbingly boring.  I might give it a go one year anyway just for kicks.

So you see, beautiful, but easy and flat.

Anyway, I went googling for more trails in Croatan National Forest.  There are a 160,000 acres of coastal forest so I figured there had to be some decent trails.  I quickly discovered that Neusiok Trail was the gem of the area, but it was a bit farther than we wanted to drive for a day hike.  There is also an ultra on this trail, Neusiok Trail Run, with 20 mile, 40 mile, and 100K options.  Next time we are in the area, I really want to check that trail out.

Finally, I find a trail that is close enough to our general area that it makes sense for us to hike it.  Weetock Trail is maintained by the Carteret County Wildlife Club and some sections are not officially approved by the Forest Service so it is really difficult to find information on this trail.  I found some blogs that talked about how the trail was not well maintained and not well marked so I wasn't too encouraged.  However, I finally found a post by a trail runner that said that the trail was great as well as finding that a group had hosted a trail half there in March 2014. The north end of the trail begins just off of NC 58 near Haywood Landing just past Mayville.  The south end (which we did not visit) begins off NC 58 and Hill Field Road.  You can also access along the forest roads from Haywood Landing and Long Point.  We found that the best point to park was Haywood Boat Landing.  There is a marked turn off of NC 58 for Haywood Landing and then you follow the signs for the boat launch.  There is one tricky stop sign where there are no signs, and we discovered that you need to take a right at that sign to end up at the boat landing.  There is a pit toilet and ample parking at the boat landing.  Once we arrived at the boat landing, we weren't quite sure where the trail started, but we quickly discovered it behind the pit toilets.

Trail head is down that section to the left behind the pit toilet.

View of Haywood Boat Landing
 The entire trail is supposed to be 11 miles long.  We were just interested in a short day hike so we did 2.5 miles out and back from the north end.  This trail is really well marked with metal blazes on the trees.

Metal blazes that show up really well and would be super easy to follow even for a night hike.
  We had no trouble finding the trail.  It weaves through beautiful coastal forest, and it is really pleasant in the winter months.  It was still pretty wet so be prepared to get muddy and have wet feet, but everything was passable. 

Some of the wet areas that had trickier crossings if you wanted to keep your feet dry.
After a big rain, it probably gets a lot more swampy, and this trail would be particularly unpleasant in the summer with heat, humidity, and insects.  There were a number of boardwalks built over the really wet areas, and plenty of markings when the trail crossed over a forest road.

Boardwalk crossings
Trail signs at road crossings

  If you are interested in running the trail, most of it is really runnable with no elevation gain, but there are a few sections where the mud makes the trail quite slick.  Otherwise it's not very technical and would make for an easy run.