Thursday, October 20, 2011

Atlantic City Marathon

Ok sports fan, I know I didn't write about Nation's Triathlon, but there wasn't to much to write about.  The swim got canceled, the bike was really fast, I didn't run that well and somehow I still beat Jason.   I did have a lot of fun with the Team in Training people and loved to raise money to fight against blood cancer, but really nothing really big happened at the race so there was really nothing to write about.  So after that I set my eyes straight to my next race which was the Atlantic City Marathon.

The race was suppose to be a short little vacation for my wife, daughter, and I and a shot to make Boston.  The course is said to be flat and fast, and a good chance for most people to get to Boston.  It isn't a very large race I think 740 people or so were in the race.  There were no big names that did this race, I don't even know if they had an elite section, so I thought this would be a good chance to get to Boston.  One thing about the Boston, that many people know now is that they lowered the time requirements for my age group from 3:10 to 3:05.

Well anyways on to the weekend events.  Lisa and left the house around 9 or so, dropped Cola, the dog, off at my Mom's and headed out to AC.  We got there around noon or so checked-in to the hotel room, and went down to the expo.  The expo wasn't that big it also wasn't that small either, it was just a normal old expo.  I bought two pairs of socks and some gels for the race.  We took my daughter swimming in the hotel pool and then we went to dinner were I met up with Andy and Howard from the HAMS.  We caught up a little bit and talked about the race the next day.  We finished that dinner said good-bye and went off to get some shut eye for the night.  Lisa, Bex, and I were staying in the hotel, and Howard and Andy had a condo near the Boardwalk.  I set everything out for the next day shoes, socks, shorts, and top.  Went to sleep and that was the end of the day.

I got up around 4:30 or so, and I had this ear thing going on in my ear, it was like I had water in my ear from swimming.  It is probably just a normally ear infection (I still actually have it and it is kind of annoying if anyone knows what it could be let me know or if I should just go see the doctor), but hell I paid for this and the show must go on (and it was just my ear nothing major there is it?).  I got some food in my stomach and got ready and we headed down around 7:00.  Lisa and I went on the boardwalk and we saw everyone filter in around the start line (it was cool and a slight wind nothing major).  They did the normal starting stuff, and the gun went off to start the race at 8:05.  I was off and a pretty comfortable pace I looked at my watch (I had it this time, unlike Gettysburg) it said 6:45, I felt good I was going at a good pace what could go wrong?  Oh yeah, this is a marathon not a sprint, everything could go wrong.  The first section of the race, which was around 8 miles or so was at the north end of Atlantic City, all through the streets, there were some uphills, but nothing major.  There was this one other thing that I really never trained for nor did I know how to, it was the dreaded wind.  The wind gust were like 9000 mph (ok there were not that bad, but they felt bad)  every time we headed into the wind I notice my time would drop, a lot.  However, I kept a pretty good pace at 6:50 for the first 8 miles or so, then we headed south on the board walk and that is when I felt the wind.  There was a headwind from mile 8 to 16 that I just couldn't get past the wind.  I was hanging in around 7:05 mile pace until about mile 13 and then the wheels sort of fell off the wagon.  I kept going through the pace telling my self just hang in there if I could keep my pace around 7:15 I could still set a PR for the race.  I got close to the turn around and saw the leaders of the race on there way back, this was about a mile or so until the turn around, which I kind of thought was odd that I was only two miles back from the leaders?  But again there are no pros no elite group just weekend warriors and die hard runners like myself.

Well I finally got to the turnaround and out of the awful headwind, and I said thank God, that was awful.  Thank God I don't have to do that again.  I was heading north back to the boardwalk and then at mile 17 the race turned left onto some side streets were I was racing against the headwind again.  I think this is were the wheels really fell off, I conceded that I will not set a PR and I should just be glad if I survive.  I decided to run from water station to water station get a drink and get going again.  I accomplished this until about mile 25 or so my legs were cramping and the pain got to me.  I started walking for about 30 seconds and then running for a few minutes.  I did this to the finish line and finished with 3:20:27 or something like that.  Nothing to brag about and nothing to get me to Boston.  Again it was an unsuccessful attempt to get to Boston, but as the famous saying goes "It isn't the number of times you fall that counts, it is the number of times you get up that does." (or something like that).  I probably will do Harrisburg Marathon and try again one more time this season to get to Boston, before I really start my Ironman training for 2012.  Well after the race I caught up with Howard he did a 3:30 or something close to that, and I never did catch back up with Andy, but I know he finished because I just read his race report.

Well anyways for the rest of the weekend, Lisa, Bex, and I went shopping at the outlet in AC and had dinner at Johnny Rocket's which was comped for us by the hotel because of the marathon package which we got (we kind of had to fight for it (it is a whole other story, ask me about it sometime if you really want to hear about it), but we got it at the end of the day, and the people at the hotel were actually really nice to us, and I would recommend that hotel to anyone who wants to stay in AC anyway).  Oh by the way we stayed at Bally's.  Well we left on Monday morning and that is the story for this time.  Hope you enjoyed it, and hope to see you guys out there training sometime.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Musselman 2011

This was my second half iron man distance, and the second one in two months.  I signed up with two of my friends Kayla, and Jason (both of whom I met at Team in Training, and both are going to do the Nation's Triathlon in September with me).  We signed up for this race in the beginning of the year, the Musselman Triathlon has been run for the past 8 years or so, and everyone that I know that ran it said it was a great race.  So I had high expectation for this race.  The first hurdle we had was trying to find a place to stay, most hotels were either booked or really expensive, so thank goodness for Lisa (my excellent wife) who found out about the athlete's village.  The athlete's village was at the Hobart and William Smith Colleges, which I am still not sure if it is one or two schools.  Well anyways Kayla, Jason, and I and our significate others (Seth Kayla's finance, Emily Jason's wife, and Lisa my wife, also Jason and I had our kids in tow Orion and Bex) got a room in the athletes village.  The room consisted of four smaller rooms and a common area, Jason and Kayla said it reminded them of college.  I have to take their word for it since I never went away to school, but it did remind me of the summer I spent at wrestling camp on the Messiah college campus.  

We all came up on Friday night, I got there first since I took the day off, and picked up the keys to the room.  Kayla, Seth, Lisa, Bex, and I went to dinner at Parker's pub in town, it was only restaurant in town that had a table in downtown of Geneva. I got the Bacon Cheeseburger and it was pretty good, and we had a nice time.  We went back to the dorm room, and Jason, Emily, and Orion were just arriving when we got back.  They got unpacked, and we all went to bed.  The next morning we got breakfast at a local church, all you can eat breakfast, which had bacon so it was awesome.  After that we went to pick up our packets weigh our self in, which I think was a little higher than normal since I just ate a million pancakes and tons of bacon and some orange juice. We got our goodie bag, which had cliff bars, hammer gels, shampoo and conditioner, wool socks, and some other things in it.  Yes I said "wool socks," they're from a company called wool sports which makes sport clothes out of wool.  I didn't try this, but I will and maybe I will post about them, but I am very skeptical of them.  Well anyways after the expo we met up with Mary Ann Kennedy another person for the Central PA area, and Team In Training Alumni.  After that we went back to the room and had lunch, sandwiches that were brought up by Jason and Emily.
After the lunch Seth, Kayla, Jason, and I drove the bike course.  We were checking the road conditions, which seem to be okay, and we were seeing how hilly it was.  Which it was hilly if you are from one of the plain states, but not if you were from Central PA.  The bike course also went by a number of wineries, which I am not a major wine guy so I really didn't care.  Well after that we all took a nap in the afternoon, and then we went to the race meeting at 4:30 which was well prepared (it had a power point so you know it was done by a pro).  After the meeting we met up with Don Larkin, and some other try folks, and we went to write on the famous wall mural in Geneva.  I don't know why we did this since they cover it over the next year but we did.  We also met a comic or actually someone promoting a comic.  The comic's name was Jef Mallet, he writes the Frazz comic which seems funny, but I never heard of him, and the woman who was telling us about his book made it seem like this guy was a house hold name.  I'm sorry but I never heard of the guy, he might be really funny, his book might be awesome, but really he is a comic, and not everyone reads comics. 

After that we went to the free pasta dinner and ate tons of pasta.  We then went back to the dorms to and got our bikes ready and went to go rack them at the park.  We checked out the lake, and the canal which is the last section of the swim, and saw where we had to swim in, bike out, bike in, run out, and the finish area. We then went back to the room and we all got all our stuff ready for the next day's morning, we all needed to be up around 5:00 am and be at the park to setup transition.

Going to sleep Saturday night wasn't hard for me, I turned a Netflix movie on and I was out in about 15 minutes.  I don't even remember having any crazy dreams, like I normally do the night before a race.  We all got up on time and got out to the park on time, we setup our transition area, and met up with some Central PA friends like Don and Dee Ann and some others.  After we met with some people Jason and I went into the lake and tried to get a small warm up in.  The lake is shallow at the shore of the lake, and there wasn't much practice that we got in, but we did get a few seconds in it, before they started closing the swim area for the start of the race.  So we got out and Jason and I were the second wave which started 5 minutes after the first wave, where we met up with Amy, we wished each other luck and we went out into the lake.  I must say this time I wasn't as nervous over the swim like I was at Eagleman, probably because I did that distance before. The swim wasn't as easy as it was at Eagleman, the lake was somewhat choppy until you got to the canal, and I was starting to get a little sea sick, but I kept it together and swam the whole thing.  Once I got to the canal it was very calm, like the race director said, and I was out of the water in about 44 minutes.  Which is faster than Eagleman (I'm starting to believe that swim is longer at Eagleman since I thought this swim was much worse than Eagleman and I was 5 minutes faster here, or maybe Musselman is short, anyways I don't know and I don't know if I care either).  Out of the swim and into transition.

Transition was about 3 minute transition since I wanted to grab some food before I went out on the bike.  The bike ride started in the park and then you went out on some New York highway 96A, I think.  I was chugging along when I saw Jason changing a tire.  Which I found out was his first of two flat of the day.  Which really sucks, but anyway I went along got passed by a few people, and I passed a few people as well.  The course had rolling hills, I averaged around 18 mph on the course, which is pretty good for me.  Toward the end of the bike I caught up to Amy (which I was a little shocked at since she is a fast cyclist), we had a quick word and then I went off.  I finished the bike in 3 hours and 5 minutes which was faster than my Eagleman time.  


I took some time in transition, had a few peanut butter pretzels and grab some Twizzlers for the run.  I ate the Twizzlers by the first water stop and at the first water stop grabbed some water, salt tablets, Heed, and a number of sponges to cool me off, and I again I was off.  Around mile 2.5 I caught up to Don Larkin who probably had 10 or 15 minutes on me because of the wave starts, and I said hi and wished him luck. The run from that point got a little rough.  You went off roading for some of it, at mile 3 there was an up hill climb in the grass or you could take the stairs, I took a combo of both, up the stairs for the first few steps and then up the grass for the rest of it.  You run in downtown of Geneva for a while and then into the neighborhood,  in a number of the houses around the town were a number of people cooling us off with there garden hoses, and at this point needed since the temperature was raising into the 90's.  Around mile marker 7 there was an extremely steep hill which was a rocky road (a road made up of loose rock, not of ice cream even though I was thinking of ice cream at this point).  After the hill was another water stop which was really needed at the point too, and you were back on the road.  After that you ran through the colleges, and at one of intersection we had a young lacrosse team cheering us on, and giving us high fives.  We went back through downtown, and back by the lake, where I saw Lisa, Bex, and Emily cheering me on to the finish with a time of 1 hour and 46 minutes and my official race time 5 hours 39 minutes and 53 seconds.

I signed up for a massage and waited for my friends to finish, and around 2:30 we all went back to the room showered and drove the four hours back home, of course we had to stop at Fox Run winery to get my mom some wine, and eventually got home around 10:00pm.  Well that is it for now sport fans, I have one more race this season the Nation's Tri in DC for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I am still looking for donations so if you can please visit my web site www.trikeith.com.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Eagleman 2011

Okay it was hot, and long, but I lived!  Eagleman 2011 was my first Half Ironman (can we think of another name for that it seems like I only did half a race).  If people don't know the distance it is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run (for the math geeks double all that and you get a full Ironman distance).  Well the weekend started out well dinner Friday night with some friends at Jo Jo's Pizza where we basically talked about kids, and triathlons.  I got a good night sleep Friday, got up at a reasonable hour, and got the car loaded for the trip.  I went over to my British friend Ange's house, met up with her and her boyfriend, Jeff, and had a chat. I saw her new road bike which looks good.  Then we were off to Cambridge, Maryland.

We got to the expo around 2 or so, Ange and I signed our life away to the Columbia Triathlon Club (You actually have to sign a waiver saying you relinquish the right to sue any of the sponsors or the clubs or blah blah blah, I wonder if this would hold up in court, since suing is a right in this country). So I signed it got my race packet and my shirt.  We strolled through the expo, it wasn't too large, but they had some stuff, even though I didn't need anything.  We met up with Lindsey and James Leigh, and some other people we know from the Harrisburg area.  After the expo we went and racked our bikes, I got the race talk from Lindsey there, so I didn't have to go to the race talk at 5.  (Lindsay did this race like every year since it started or something like that, and I know the rules, like pass on the left stay to the right on the bike, swim to the left of the yellow buoys turn right at the double orange ones and so on and on).  Well anyways Ange, Jeff, Lisa, and I picked up one of Ange's many Australian friends Andy, who has done a number of these events, so we all caught up and went to the hotel.  We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Salisbury, Ange reserved the rooms in August or so, and for some reason they didn't have the rooms she requested.  I will stop there and if you want to hear the rest of that story ask Ange, she has some choice words for the hotel management that evening (some of them would probably be shite, rubbish, and other british words that most american wouldn't really know anyways).   

After we unpacked, we went to dinner at the Olive Garden, I had the chicken parmesan and endless bread sticks (they are free why not keep eating them).  Will after dinner Andy told me some horror stories of his at triathlon career, which I will not repeat (and Andy if you are reading this, I still don't blame the guy for hitting you in the head for 200 meters in Singapore).  Well after dinner we went back to the hotel and I got my stuff out and went over my check list, and packed everything up for the next morning.  Went to bed around 10 and slept well until 4:30 in the morning, then I got up and met up with Andy, Jeff, and Ange (Lisa stayed in the hotel with the baby, and she took Bex swimming in the hotel pool, and planned on going to the race later in the day so Bex wouldn't have to stay in the heat all morning) and we drove to the start. 

Well we got to the transition area sometime before 6:45 (that is the time it closed), I unpacked everything, filled up my tires with air, and dried off my bike. I double checked everything and went to meet up with Ange, she was just finishing her area up, and then we were out of the transition area, and the long wait until our start times.  We meet up with some other people we know from the Harrisburg area, had a chat or so and before we knew it, it was about time to start.  Ange started in the wave before me, and the waves were 8 minutes apart.  

For some reason at this point I got nervous, yes me Keith Evans the calmest guy some people know got nervous.  There was a 1.2 mile swim between me and my bike, I never swam that far in open water with a huge number of people starting with me.  I didn't know what to do I really didn't want to swim at this point, but you have to it is a triathlon.  I tried to calm myself down, and to tell myself I have done this distance before in the pool and at Pinchot Lake, but I kept thinking I never did this distance in a race.  I remember last year that in the Philly triathlon a person died in the sprint swim, I thought am I prepared for this.  Then for some reason, I remember a conversation that Couch Andy, from the HAMS, was having with Sean (I forget his last name so we will call him Sean), it was a conversation about distance swimming.  I remember Andy asking Sean "How long do you think you could swim without stopping?"  Sean seem to have thought about it for a while, and Andy answered "probably all day if you had to, and you weren't going all out." I thought to myself, you know if I can find a rhythm I could swim all day if I had too (or at least that is what I kept telling myself), it won't be pretty, and I may zig zag a bit, but I can swim for at least an hour if I had to.  So I calmed myself down to get into the water, and we got in from the boat loading area, and the water was about 6ft deep in the entrance, and the nerves came right back.  I said oh crap I have to treed water for 6 minutes until the wave starts!?!  Well we got a little farther out and the water got shallower and I was okay again.  I heard the announcer say 3 minute till the start, and I decided to swim a little about 20 yard just to see how my stroke was (this was because at Mt. Grenta I couldn't find a stroke until the last 100 yards or so), it was good and I felt ready, the nerves seems to have gone away for the swim.  I started way in the back, and eventually the gun went off and we started.  

The swim is sort of a shape of an upside down U, you swim down X yards you turn right and swim Y yards and you then turn right and swim Z yards to get out of the water (and for the math nerds x + y + z = 1.2 miles and 2X + 2Y + 2Z I hear equals the swim at Chesapeake Man) The X swim went really well I was probably swimming with the stream and the swim couldn't have been easier.  I was even passing a few people (yes me the guy you learned how to swim 18 months ago was passing people in his first ever half ironman).  We got to the first turn and this is where the water got choppy, but I stayed calm and just kept swimming I did break rhythm once or twice, and got a foot in the nose and the stomach, but I survived, and then the Z leg happened and that was a little tougher but I fought through it and eventually got out of the water in about 49 minutes or so.  I was kind of expecting to be out of the water in 45 minutes, but 4 extra minutes I can make up somewhere else.  

I got out of the water and off to my bike, thinking to myself why the hell was I scared of that, it was long and somewhat tiresome but it wasn't that bad.  So I got to the transition, ate a gel and drank some gatorade and then I got my bike shoes on and out of the transition I went.  Got on to my bike and hoped for the best (which was no flat tires, and I had Ange praying for me so I knew I would be ok).  About 10 miles in to the ride my stomach started hurt, and I knew I needed to stop to go to the bathroom, the stop took about 2 minutes of my time, while getting back on the bike I grab some Cliff shots and off I went.   I grab some gatorade at the next water station, and hoping I won't have to stop anymore for the race.  I was successful until about mile 45 or so, were I lost a spoke on my front wheel.  Damn I thought, my bike has been a real pain this year first the shifter and then the front deraileur, and now this.  Anyways I fixed that and off I went.  I finally got back to transition and my watch only said 3:07:52 (yes I had my watch for this race, it didn't fall off in the beginning).  I wanted to be off the bike in 3:30 so I accomplished that and made up the time I was off on the swim.  People told me it was flat, but I didn't think it was that flat, I mean pancakes are not that flat.  Got my bike shoes off and my helmet off, and put on the old faithful running shoes.

I was off on my favorite leg, and the leg that most people hate for some reason.  It was hot now, and I knew I would need to take on plenty of fluids for the run.  Before I left transition I grab some more shot blocks and I started chewing them on the way out.  I was running about a 7:45 pace or so for the first part and then the heat got to me I walked at every water station to drink gatorade and water, and to pour the ice down my tri suit.  At about mile 4 I grab a hand full of gels, and decided to eat one every time I made it to a water station.  I kept running water station to water station, and eventually got back to the end, I ran about 1:45:09 according to my watch, which was about were I wanted to be.  I kind of did a best worse case for the run, since I didn't know how I would do running in that heat or how I would do after a 56 mile bike ride.  I was hoping for about 1:35 or so for the best case and 2:00 for the worse case.  So I was somewhere in between.  I was also told I was smiling on the run (I rarely smile when I race so I must have been happy which is a bonus).  I did feel happy for most of the run, I was telling them "good job", "they can do it", and other positive sayings.   Actually come to think of this except for the bathroom break and the broken spoke I was having a really good time.  I got back in one piece.  I didn't feel like crap either, not that I wasn't completely tired, but I wasn't completely dead. I finished in a respectable time 5:49, I think it was respectable anyways.

I walked through the finishing area, found my beautiful wife, and the cutest baby ever, Bex.  I signed up for a massage and waited for about 20 minutes for one, and it was great.  I grabbed a Pepsi, and ran into James and Lindsey we had a chat about the race and looked forward to the next races.  I have Musselman next in July which is another half ironman, then the Nation's Triathlon in September which is my fund raising for Team in Training, and if you have some spare money laying around (I know that it is rare to have money laying around when the economy is like it is) please think of donating.  Team in Training is part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society which raises money for blood cancer research, and helping services for people fighting blood cancer.  I am racing in memory of my Aunt Dotty's granddaughter Adrienne, who lost her battle with Leukemia at the age of 10, please visit my fund raising page at www.trikeith.com.  Or if you would be interested in doing an event for Team in Training let me know and I will get you in contact with some of the fine people at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Well to end the day, the ride home took about 5 hours since there was a storm, and a few accidents, but eventually we got home, and got to bed, and noticed how burnt I was.  Note to self sun block on the back next time the tri suit doesn't cover all the back.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gettysburg North South Marathon

Okay 8th time wasn't the charm either for a Boston Qualifier. I should've known that a hilly course wasn't the course to try it on.  Well I will try to make this short, unlike most of my posts.  This was the first Gettysburg Marathon (which should have been another indicator that is wasn't a good course to qualify for Boston).  But I said what the hell lets give it a go.  Well Lisa and I went down to Gettysburg to pick up my packet and stuff (which was a shirt, and a few Gettysburg ads) on Saturday, and have lunch with her friends that live down there.  We had lunch at some American Grill down there I had some wings and she had a burger, nothing great there.  We drove the course down there, and that is when it really hit me on how hilly this course really was going to be.  The first quater or half mile of the course looked flat, but then there was one hill, and the another, the road didn't look like they were in good condition either, but they weren't that bad.  There were plenty of hills in the course, but they were not very steep, so I thought I would be ok.  Well Lisa, Bex, and I went home, and had some dinner and went to bed early.

I got up, had everything packed and drove back down to Gettysburg.  I parked at the Gettysburg Area High School, where I took a bus to the starting line.  When I got to the starting line, I warmed up a little bit ran about half mile or so, and decided to go to the bathroom. The line was long, but I eventually got through it, while in the bathroom the race started.  However no big deal the race was timed by chip so I didn't really have to be anywhere anytime soon.  I waited tell everyone cross the start line and I eventually got across I started my watch and I took off.

A few minutes into the race I looked down to see what pace I was doing, and no watch.  For the people that don't know I have a Garmin Forerunner 305 which has a quick release band, so I can put my watch on my bike when I ride it, and it can come off the bike quickly and onto my wrist.  I looked behind me and didn't see it, so I said forget it (well not exactly, but use your imagination).  I kept telling my self don't worry about it we will do fine, and we did for the first half of the race.  The race was hillier than I excepted, but it was what it was.  I had no idea what pace I was keeping but it felt ok, maybe a little fast, but not to fast.  The water stations were about every two miles a part, and I had GU chomps on me for fuel.  I planned to eat one chomp every two miles after mile 8, and every one mile after mile 20.  This went all as planned, the only unknown in the equation was how fast was I going.  I was hoping to see a clock or hear someone telling me my time half way through the race but no luck.

Around mile 15 or so I caught to someone, and asked what pace we were keeping and he told me 7:05 or so.  Which to me was to fast.  I tried to keep with the pace till about mile 18 or so, and that is when things really started hurting.  I did see one runner on the side of the road cramping like a mad man.  I was sort of thankful I wasn't him at the time.  I kept running and I hit the wall hard around mile 22 and had to walk some.  I was hoping to run walk for a set number of minutes or seconds, but I didn't have a watch to keep track of the time.  So I went by steps, and counted out 100 running steps and 60 walking steps did this for about three or four times.  Every step hurt, but every step was a step closer to the finish line.  I eventually got there with a time that was 3:21:37, not bad for walking some of it, or what felt like a lot of it.  I guess Boston will have to wait since the triathlon season is starting up now, and I got Eagle Man, and Musselman half iron mans and I am fund raising for Team in Training Nations Triathlon in September, if anyone would like to donate.  I plan to do one or two fall mathons, and maybe I will be able to qualify for the 2013 Boston Marathon where there will be new qualifying time 3:05 for me instead of the old 3:10.

On a side note, as many people know I ran the Shamrock Virginia Beach Marathon last year in March, I had a time of 3:40 there which was a PR, but the race was terrible for me, I feel completely apart at mile 18, and had to walk a majority of the rest of the race.  However I told myself if I can have a terrible race and do a 3:40 it is possible I have a great race and do a 3:10.  Well this one taught me if I can have a bad race and do a 3:22, I can have a great race and do a 3:10.  Well the 3:10 still eludes me, it still is in my reach, I just have to try harder.  As Randy Pausch (a professor from CMU, which passed away a few years ago, he also wrote a book called the Last Lecture) said "walls are only there to see how bad you want in."  Well Boston I want in, and you may have won this battle, but you haven't won the war yet.

Is anyone still wondering about my watch?  Someone picked it up and turned it into the lost and found.  Were I went to claim it.  I knew there were still good people in the world.  Thank you to whoever you were, I greatly appreciate it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cherry Blossom 2011

So this was the weekend that was going to start the race season off for me.  The Cherry Blossom is a race I have done for the past three years.  My friend Ed, got me started with it, by telling it is was this great race back when I started racing in late 2008 (which is a whole other story which I will tell some time later). I ran the Harrisburg Marathon which was my first race since I was in my late teens, and this is actually where I met Ed (who is a friend of a friend sort of thing).  To register for the first year you had to log in to a web site and sign up, registration filled up in about 4 or 5 hours, and there are like 20,000 runners that run this race.  Last two year they did a lottery which I was fortunate to get in in both times.  The first year I ran this I ran a 1:20:17, and the next year 1:12:51.  So each year I got a little better for me.  This year I was hoping to do it under 1:10, because I was able to do it a sub 1:10 in the Army Ten-Miler.  Since this is spring, and really the first long race I was doing this year I really didn't know what to expect.

Let's start at the beginning here.  The beginning started with me and a group of my friends from Team In Training, decided to enter this race.  There was John and Sam Gallagher, they live down in the D.C. area now, Kayla Redding, and my old friend Jason (he actually isn't that old, and we haven't been friends that long, but we always train together and push each other to get to that next level so I call him my old friend).  We all signed up as a group, so we all got in or we all were out.  We all got the email about a week later stating we were in.  Unfortunately, Kayla had some shin splints, and bowed out so my old friend Ed went in her place.  So the weekend was set everyone was ready.

Lisa, Bex, and I were all packed up Saturday morning, and we were off to the National Building Museum (that is were the packet pick up and the health and fitness expo).  I picked my packet and Kayla packet to give the bib to Ed, and then we were shopping at the expo. At the expo I met up with John, Sam, Jason, and Jason's family.  From the expo we went out to lunch at Merzi, and Indian restaurant that was somewhat like Chipotle.  I watched Bex, and Lisa ordered for the both of us, and I had some type of Chicken thing, I'm not sure what it was, and I know if I ever figured it out I may like it (I am just that type of guy), so it is best if I don't know.  It was good, but Lisa and I were still hungry, so we stopped at the Red Velvet Cupcakes place for a lunch desert, we got three cupcakes which we ate when we got back to the hotel.  We got to the hotel unpacked our stuff (I notice since Lisa and I had a kid we pack a lot more stuff than we normally did).  We met up with Ed shortly after we checked in, and I handed over the bib to Ed, we made arrangements to meet up the next morning at 6:20 we were going to meet and take the Metro.  After the meeting with Ed, Lisa and I went to dinner at Noodles and Company.  I got some coupons at the expo for the place, we got two free bowls, I got the Spagetti and Meatball bowl, and Lisa got some Japanese noodle dish thing.  Dinner was great and then we went back to the hotel.  We took Bex to the pool, the pool was freezing, but Bex seem to have fun in.  We went back to the room and slowly went to bed.  I didn't get a great night of sleep, Bex kept kicking me all night long (I think she wants to be a runner or soccer player, I don't think she decided yet, and she has plenty of time to decide).

I was up around 4am, notice that there was a Law and Order marathon on TNT (a.k.a. the Law and Order network) and I watched a episode and a half.  I got dressed went to the bathroom, ate some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, kissed my wife and child good bye, and they wished me luck, and out the door I went.  I met up with Ed at his hotel which was a few blocks up, and we got onto the Metro.  We had to wait about 10 minutes for a train, and then the train ride was like 15 or 20 minutes.  We got to the baggage check around 7:30, and my wave started at 7:40.   So I dropped off my stuff and ran to the starting Corral.  I started in the first wave, which was label "Elite males & starting wave."  The previous two years I was red, which is the second wave, and orange wave which was the fourth wave.  Which I was sort of glad to see I was starting with the first wave.  In previous years I had to weave in and out of people for about 4 - 5 miles.

The gun went off sharply at 7:40 and we were off.  The crowd wasn't as large as it was in previous years, and I was moving a what felt like a good hard pace.  The five miles went by pretty quick I was running around a 6:30 pace.  During the race you see some of the great site of Washington, the Washington Monument, and there were others, but I was running to fast to really see any of them.   From mile 7 to mile 9 you are running down a road that has Cherry Blossom trees, which was awesome to see the cherry blossoms starting to bloom.  This section is flat and it seems very long when you are running down it, but eventually you get to the end and you have about two miles left in the race.  I ran last two miles in under 13 minutes, and finished the race in 1:05:27 (6:33 per mile).  Which isn't to bad of a time for me.

I went to the baggage claim, and claimed my bag, listen to some of the music and the announcer at the end of the race.  I heard when Bill Rodgers, one of the legends of sport of road running, finished the race and he might of been the 2 millionth runner to cross the finish line (The race has been in existence for about 38 or 39 years so to think that many people have run it total is really something amazing).  Here is a link to Bill Rodgers wikipedia page, if you are interested in looking him up.

I met up with Jason and his family at the baggage claim, and we then met up with Ed.  We chatted for a few minutes, and started walking back to the Metro,  Ed and I took the metro back to Crystal City where we stayed, talked a little more about the race, and after the train ride we went back to our separate hotels.  When I got back to the hotel Lisa and I packed everything up, and all three of us headed to Georgetown Cupcakes to pick up our order of cupcakes.  Oh did I forget to mention we order cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes (Yes that place from the TLC show DC Cupcakes).  Lisa walked in got our cupcakes and we ate some on the way home, and they were awesome.  We finished them that evening at home, I was going to wait until the Biggest Losser came on, and eat them at that time, since I am notorious for eating fat delicious food while watching that show, but I couldn't wait.

Well that was the Cherry Blossom weekend, my next big race is May 1st, the Gettysburg Marathon, and hopefully I will have some good new from that (Maybe 8th time is the charm for a Boston Qualifier).  I will also be doing Got the Nerve Triathlon on May 22nd, Eagle Man on June 12th, and Muscle Man sometime in July.  So I will have plenty of writing to do for those race.

Garmin Map