Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thinking of the Gulf Coast

We're all thinking of you as Gustav approaches. Stay safe and sound.

The Human Race in Arlington

A couple of people from the Fun Runs out of Pacers Running Stores in Alexandria showed up to run the same run as I did. There were 20-25 people total, Pacers did a fantastic job putting this together. Running through the small but numerous hills of Arlington was a challenge but I'm glad I did it. Not a great time should the race had been timed, but considering I walked a little of the course because of cramps, it's all good. Yup, the Custis bike/running trail is one small hill after another.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Trail run in Great Falls - good but tiring

I went on a trail run of about 75-80 minutes through Great Falls Park, as well as not only the Difficult Run Trail outside the park but a private horse trail that I didn't know was private until I reached the end. The "owner" really needs to put the Private sign on the Old Dominion Road side of the trail if he/she doesn't want people doing what I did (unintentionally of course). Hiked the mile or two back to my car since I was tired, happy with what I ran especially after yesterday's run.

All and all a good day. One of the reasons why I pay $59.99 a month for an all clubs (35 in the area) membership at Gold's Gym is, well I can use tons of them. There was one on my way to do some shopping, in South Arlington. So I decided to ride the bike for a bit to get the lactic acid out of my legs, and do some abdominal work. South Arlington Gold's, you have big TVs in the cardio area, big plus. You are lacking in abdominal equipment though. However, I was very pleased to find out I'm even lighter than I thought. I had drank a bunch of water after my run to re-hydrate, but weighed in at 25-28 pounds less than I was on January 1. The lightest I've weighed in at in a long time, maybe since college! Of course I probably added a pound or two after dinner at Don Pablo's but I could have done worse food wise and a slight weight gain happens after dinner.

Tonight it's pack for Colorado and watch a little college football. Every year I tell myself I'm going to jettison my cable television. Then football season starts.

I may be officially insane - almost 15 miles last night

I used some comp time to leave work early yesterday since I will be too busy to use it when I return from Colorado. Not that work isn't always busy but there's more going on than ever. I decided to go on a nice long run, probably longer than I had ever run before. With the half marathon coming up, I decided it was time to push myself. I decided to run from Belle Haven to Mount Vernon on the Mount Vernon Trail. That's right, close to 15 miles, it's about .3 miles or so, maybe a bit longer to the mile 7 marker. I went all the way up to mile zero and back. And up it is. No real steep hills, but the descriptions that describe the trail as flat aren't being totally accurate. Lots of small climbs involved. It took me longer to run the we'll say 14.5 miles than I thought it would, seeing as it wasn't hot but quite humid, and I wasn't in a hurry.

I finished the run between 14.5 and 15 miles, could have run a bit more to make it 15 but I said screw it, I've run enough and my legs got heavy 4 miles ago. Longest run of my life, so I was glad it was over. I know I can push myself more and more without being insane. Or did I say I was insane already? I'm going to go for a nice little trail run in Great Falls Park, on the VA side and use my pass, still not willing to deal with the crowds on the MD side. Parking shouldn't be an issue as I imaging a lot of people got out of town even with gas prices being so high. Sunday is the Nike Human Race 10K in Arlington, we'll that's a fun run and a chance to meet some new folks. I may have to pass on a Sunday night party since I have to leave for the Metro at 7 am to go to the airport Monday.

9:50 am - this time next week, at 7:50 am, I will be somewhere around Barr Camp, halfway up Pikes Peak, as part of the Pikes Peak Challenge. Life is good.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Annapolis 10 Miler - Completed and HIGHLY recommended

Before I talk about the race itself, I'll talk about what could have been. I was running later than I thought I would in terms of getting up to Annapolis, and to boot I thought I was ready to go but forgot my sunglasses. A five minute delay caused by me going back to get them could have saved me a lot of headaches as it turned out. I was delayed a bit on the Beltway by a nasty car wreck that required multiple ambulances and police cars. Had I not had that last delay I would have been right in that area where the wreck happened. Whew!

They had a running expo where I picked up my registration packet, picked up some running tights for cooler temps for 1/3 of what they normally cost. Also picked up a couple of Under Armour tops for cheap and a pair of Adidas running shoes for $30, continuing my mantra of if you get them for ridiculously cheap get them and save them for later. Hotel was okay but breakfast started at 7, race starts at 7:45. Damn. Had to drive out to Giant to get some bananas, gotta have the potassium.

Race morning, other than the traffic to Navy Marine Corps Stadium (which is smaller than I figured it would be but I think they took out seats in one of the end zones - the seats look like they're on top of the action though) everything went well. I decided to take it as more of an experimental race since a ten miler is a new distance for me, there were lots of hills, and I was trying out a new running belt that holds small water bottles.

Well, I lost about 3 minutes or so because I had to fix stuff with the belt and shorts (just like Rockville) but that was cool. The hills weren't ridiculously steep save for a small one after crossing the Navy Bridge into Severn, but there were a lot of them. Not to mention crossing the same bridge twice, followed by an uphill stretch at mile 9 that we didn't run down on the way there. The final rough count: 1 hour 37 minutes 10 seconds. Not a great pace for me by any means, but it was the longest race for me yet, and as I said earlier, it was an experiment just as much as it was a race. Keeping in mind the time I lost, the hills, and the fairly high humidity, and I was pleased with the day. My legs didn't start to feel heavy until mile 8 or so, good sign. I was able to run harder than I had been towards the finish line to finish strong, another good sign.

I definitely recommend this race to people. There are reasons why the 5,500 participant limit fills up in barely over a week, if that. It's a very professional operation with tons of water stops. And there were plenty of neighbors who squirted us with hoses (and the runoff water all seemed to go downslope somewhere for re-use!). I love the running jacket I got as a premium for finishing too! The city's also pleasant, reminded me of a smaller Old Town Alexandria with Boston-style, not straight, cobblestone streets. Tons of people there, no shortage of places to eat. A worthwhile weekend for sure.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tough Hills Right Across From Belle Haven Country Club

Ticked off that you can't afford to, or have no desire to go become a member of Belle Haven Country Club? Have no fear, come run the hills across Fort Hunt Road with me! Come on, all six of them so you can suffer with me! Here is a map of the area, which is just east of Richmond Highway (Route 1). I cross Richmond Highway, which requires care, caution, and waiting for the walk light. You can park at the parking area off the GW Parkway and run up Belle Haven Road to Fort Run. In fact Belle Haven is one of the hills.

It's a Six Hill Course that I call the Suffering Six. You run up and down each one. Run them in any order, but considering I'm coming from the west, I usually go:

1. Woodmont - the small circle where it meets Hunting Cove and Vernon is the end of the hill, probably the longest of the six.

2. Hunting Cove - a steep but short one.

3. Edgehill - see #2.

4. Glen / Summit - run up one side of the Y shaped confluence of roads, turn on the straight road then run down the other side.

5. Belle Haven - probably the steepest, run it up to Radcliff where the hill ends.

6. Windsor - the grand finale, run to the intersection with Olmi Landrith Drive. Instead of running down Windsor, you can substitute continuing on Windsor, take a right on Tally Ho, then run up Foxcroft.

You've earned that beer and dinner after running these hills. Don't believe me? Run them with me. It won't be a fast run, but it will be a tough, demanding, hills workout that you'll be glad you did when you're done.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Latest Personal Running Tour: Shaw, Howard University, and Georgia Avenue

After zig zagging through the National Mall and Chinatown, I decided to run up 6th Street instead of past the Convention Center on 7th. I got to run through parts of the historic Shaw Neighborhood (great old school row houses), the east side of the U Street Corridor (lots of newly redone row houses), Howard University (attractive campus I must say and a great school), the Children's Medical Center Complex, and then up Georgia Avenue, where I went into the Petworth Metro Station and promptly fell asleep on the train back to the gym. Yay being over-tired!

Future races on the docket:

Annapolis Ten Miler
Army Ten Miler
Richmond Half Marathon

Pikes Peak Hike in 3 Weeks

Looking forward to my first visit to Annapolis and my second to Richmond. There are some other races I will be running in, I'll post about them as I sign up. I'm also thinking of making this pretty much a running blog with some forays into hiking. I've been running steadily since December of 2006 and am now hooked like I was on skiing in Colorado. Some days I feel like I'm getting better, some days I don't. But I'm down close to 20 pounds since January 1, and will run my ass off in the late calendar year to prevent the late year weight gain.

However, after the half marathon, I'm going to stop racing for 3-4 months and volunteer at some races instead. The running community has given a ton to me in my brief time in it, so I want to give something back.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vacation's over, back in Alexandria

Vacation with friends and family was a wonderful experience. Friday night I met up with my two closet friends from high school. Awesome to get together with them at the 99 Restaurant in Lowell, MA. Cool to find out that they are into NY State, PA, and NJ now since the food's always good, the popcorn is always plentiful, and whenever I've had beer there (I did not on Friday) it's kicked butt. Just beware the Charlestown location has had some shady activities happen on the premises. :D (not by staff). The important thing was catching up with my buddies, both of them are new fathers. WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!!!

From Saturday through today I spent my time in Ossipee Lake, NH and Eliot, ME. I have three nephews, aged 14, 12, and 7. The youngest had his birthday party on Sunday in Maine. Good times all around, got to see all three of them kneeboard, water ski, and/or tube, questionable weather or not. I got my running in too, including at least a 9 mile run that included a run into the Ossipee Mountains. I found a road that would take me halfway up the mountain to a place I'd never been even if I had spent a lot of 15 plus summers at Ossipee Lake. Steep climb, check. 90 minutes plus run, check. Great view of a mountainside over a pond, all enclosed in fog, I wish I had a camera since I never get to places like that anymore. Check.

Cool times with family, who were thrilled to see me. Double check. The only drawback was I left my blue Asics hat in New Hampshire. Ah, I'll get it mailed to me. I got to go to the ice cream place we always went to too, one scoop there = three everywhere else. Great times. Now back to work.

Friday, August 08, 2008

First trip up hills of neighboorhood of youth in at least ten years

It's probably been closer to fifteen years since I went up to some of the hills up the street from where I grew up. These hills were on streets in Dracut, MA (see the roads just north of Thompson Lane and close to Whortle-Berry Hill. I'm a better runner and more fit than I was for most of my childhood so I was interested to find out if the hills I used to think were tough to pedal a bike up were still daunting. Nope, like speed bumps, most of the streets hadn't changed at all.

When I went into the State Forest I came up to a trail junction right after I got off one of the paved residential roads. I thought to myself, uum I know they've built houses since I left Dracut but this is awfully close for the trails to meet up. Oh crap, the old pond I used to get in trouble for skating on in the winter is right in front of me! I used to remember hiking in a short bit to get there. The trail and unpaved road I ran on in the forest was quite steep so I got my hills workout in.

Not looking forward to seeing the pond I described above should I go for another run tomorrow before heading up to Ossipee Lake, New Hampshire for a couple days with my family. It was a lot smaller than I remember and much, much dirtier. Nothing more than a tan-brown breeding ground for mosquitoes now. I remember the water and ground being a very dark color.

Looking forward to meeting up with my two closest friends from high school in a couple hours. It's been fun so far, now I'm just chilling out a bit.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Dear Brett Favre,

I wanted to take a moment in my busy schedule to welcome you to your new surroundings. Heck, I wanted to do this so much I am going on four hours of sleep instead of six when I have a 7 am flight to catch......because I really want to do this. See, you need to be welcomed into your new world a.k.a. as AFC East. This is a far different world than you are used to in near-tropical Mississippi of the Frozen Tundera of Lambeau Field. So I wanted to welcome you.

Out of the kindness of my heart, I will present you with a brief overview of the occupants of your new hood. That or I want to punish you and the media for creating a 40 day opera out of your garbage way to get out of Sconnie, I forget which. We'll start with Miami. Don Johnson is no longer the King Johnson, Dwayne is. Mercury Morris is still a cokehead who needs to get his ass whooped but he doesn't play defensive back so you don't need to worry about him. Jason Taylor's dancin' in Washington, so you will have pulled this I quit / not I don't quit crap three more times before the Dolphins are even back to mediocre.

Buffalo, a city on a nice big lake. Maybe a bit like your old friends Detroit. But you see Brett, we don't play nice in the northeast like they do in the midwest. You won't get greeted by Viking Mascots, Cheesheads, or other polite midwesterners. If you're fortunate, they'll stick to snowballs. 20 degrees and 40 miles per hour winds are not as pleasant when the home crowd doesn't worship you, so I thought i would let you know because you're in a good mood.

Your new home fans will call you Broadway Brett, Brett. Until you throw five intereceptions in a game. Then they will give you a more traditional New York / New Jersey salute, you know the one where you think they've lost four fingers. You like to improvise on the football field. But guess what Brett, your c-list actor doughboy coach does not. He is systematic. And he knows defense, I'll give him that. But offense isn't his thing, and he's the boss. And you're under a far less forgiving microscope know, but we've discussed that.

Finally the last team and neighboor in your new hood. New England Patriots. No team plays less nice than ours. I'm tired of writing this welcome letter, so let's get right to the point. September 14 and November 13, your sorry ass is ours. And no we're not helping you find the southern fried Wisconsin Cheese sticks. Welcome to hell.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Best weather day of the summer so I took a running tour of DC

Sometimes I like to take my own running tours of DC. Seeing as I need the exercise, the mileage to train for fall races, and there's lots of parts of DC I haven't been to yet, there you go. First Stop: Exorcist Steps. I start at the top of the steps, head east two blocks to 34th St, down the hill and past Georgetown Running Company, west on M Street past Dixie Liquors, then a sprint up the steps. That's a lap. I made that lap 12 TIMES today!!!! That's 3 more than I ever had done before. That fired me up to get 12 done. I probably could have had a couple more but I knew I was running a bit later on and didn't want my legs to turn into collapseable rubber.

Second Stop: C&O towpath up to Fletchers Boathouse. Walked a bit up towards the boathouse, made some phone calls, ran the last mile and a half. Now, I promise I'm not a yuppie scumbag who screams into his cell phone at all times to let the world know where I am. I needed to contact my two closest friends from my hometown to get in touch with them for plans for this weekend. I'll be home in New England for the weekend, and both have children under one. So these were actually important calls. I walked on the less populated, dirt and rock, path, and was very quiet on the phone. No one uses the dirt there anyway since the asphalt path is just below it. Yeah that's an easy decision for bicyclists. And for runners without trail shoes for that matter. The boathouse had people renting canoes, buying ice cream, one two year old girl run after a car down the hill (kudos to her mom for grabbing her and making it clear she can't do that but not grabbing her forcefully and not screaming her head off), and me buying a Gatorade G2 since I was running out of water. I know now exactly where the Capital Crescent Trail ends so I can expand my running / occasionally biking exploits.

Third Stop: Rich parts of NW. Reservoir Road, Georgetown Hospital, Wisconsin Ave and S Street Safeway, and California Avenue were on the docket. Random thoughts: The German Embassy looks like an apartment complex from the 1970s but where the builders forgot to take down the support pillars. The French Embassy looks like a Metro or other train station. There were three dudes sitting outside the Myanmar Embassy for whatever reason, I wasn't about to ask. The Venezuelan Embassy is a humble brick colonial house. Yeah I had to go to the Safeway to get some more Gatorade to stay hydrated.

Fourth Stop: Dumbarton Park. A nice little oasis in an area that I will never live in, nor could I afford to. Tiny little trail run interrupted by a very big tree. Stepped over the tree and kept running.

Fifth Stop: Adams Morgan. I was going to get some chicken at El Rincon but decided against it at the last minute. Went by the Jumbo slice pizza place. Sorry, not paying $5.50. Saw some cute women in one of the cafes.

Sixth Stop: Columbia Heights Target. This was a good place to end the run / walk tour. Yellow Line stop to get back home. Check. My headphones busted on the run today so I needed new ones. Check. Finally headed home. All in all a great day topped off by a ribeye steak at home. Best weather day of the summer too. Rock on.