Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sweating Our Thorns Off - Virtual 5K With My Boy

Sometimes a race doesn’t go as we planned.  Sometimes race day brings unexpected twists.  Sometimes the strategy and goals go out the window.  Usually this is not considered a good thing.  This morning it was a great thing.

For this morning’s ‘Sweat Your Thorns Off’ Virtual 5K, I had planned to give it a real go and see what kind of time I could pull off.  I’ve never run a 5K, so I could combine a strong tempo run with another running first.  As I was finishing my pre-run stretching, I was explaining a virtual-race to my kids.  When I finished explaining, my son asked the last question I would have expected … “Can I run?”.  This is one of those questions that regardless of circumstance or consequence, the answer is simply “Yes”.  Thus, today my son and I did our first Virtual 5K together.  Since I had already printed off my race bib, we made a couple quick adjustments and printed one off for my son.
All smiles prior to any thorn sweating
A quick drink of water and we were off.
Game faces on .... or we need more fiber in our diets
We did not set any land-speed records, and we’re not anticipating any sponsorships based on our results.  The first mile was equal parts run and walk, and the rest was mostly walk with a sprinkling of run thrown in.  The boy was definitely struggling, and around mile 2 I could tell he was regretting his decision to come along, but he never said it out loud, and he kept marching on.  I was having a great time.  Even if there wasn’t a whole lot of running, it was still a ‘run’ with my son, and those are still a rare treat.
I couldn’t talk my daughter in to coming with us, but I have a feeling she’ll come around in the not too distant future.  We put her in charge of race photos, and even let her use the ‘real’ camera, so she was loving life.  She also surprised us by creating a finish-line for us while we were out running.  Boston’s finish line has nothing on ours.
BAA - she is available for finish-line consulting
A great way to start the weekend.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.  A big thank-you to Adam @ 'The Boring Runner' for organizing the race and getting my boy and me out on the road together.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Horseflies and Handgrenades .... and My Father

Apparently we are under attack.

While we foolishly concentrate our attention on mosquitos with their West Nile virus, and deer ticks with their Lyme disease, and lions, and tigers, and bears, the horse flies have been silently building a squadron of terror, patiently waiting for the perfect time to unleash holy hell on the running paths of the world.  It would appear the time is now.
My last three longish runs on my familiar trails have been marked by repeated strafings from these aerial demons.  They are large, and they are many.  And, at least on the trails of NC, they are pissed.  I haven’t been bitten yet, but it only seems like a matter of time.  May be time to invest in some sweat-proof bug spray.  I recall from swimming at lakes as a kid that horse fly bites are no joke.  I’m hoping the conflict doesn’t continue to escalate, or you may find me rolling down the trails in a giant hamster ball by the end of the summer.

As for the hand-grenades, we’ve had a series of short, severe thunderstorms over the last couple weeks in the area, and the trees have taken a beating.  Last night we were poised for another blast, but it was mostly just an abundance of wind.  Net result is this morning’s trail run was as much about dodging branches and debris as it was about knocking out the miles.  We could use some rain, but ideally more of a sustained storm than a Chuck Norris roundhouse-kick of wind/rain/pain.

Despite the kamikaze flies and the obstacle course of dismembered tree parts, this morning’s run was a thing of beauty.  Great weather, and someone had replaced my regular legs with Folger’s instant legs that were ready to rock.  Had planned on a nice steady 10-miler somewhere around 9:00 pace, but my legs were feeling so good that after 5 miles around 8:30 pace, I decided to step it up and throw in a 5k somewhere between 7:30 and 8:00 pace.  I may have slightly overestimated how good I was feeling, but I got through the next 3 miles at 7:51, 7:34, and 7:32, then closed it out with 2 miles at 9:00.  I was put-a-fork-in-me done by the 10 mile mark, but it was a great way to start the day.  I have a slight groin pull/strain that has been acting up over the last couple weeks that I may need to dial down my training a bit to get healed, so this will probably be my last tempo run for a week or two.  Considering it wasn’t intended to be a tempo run, I’m happy with the results.

Today being Father’s Day, I find myself less focused on my own role as a dad, and thinking more about my own father.  I’m blessed to have two healthy parents who have always been incredibly supportive and influential in my life.  My dad has always been an important person in my life, and as I’ve gotten older I consider him one of my best friends.  So many of my interests are a reflection of his.  My passion for home-improvement and woodworking are born of hours watching him build and/or fix anything and everything.  I’ve yet to see anything home-related that he can’t do.  I drove a ’65 Mustang in college that he rebuilt himself.  We bought the house we live in now in foreclosure and badly in need of far too much work.  My dad showed up and he and I spend two solid weeks redoing everything in the house with the exception of the kitchen cabinets.  Neither of us will ever set any speed records for project completion, but the finished product rarely disappoints.  He is one of the best fishermen I have ever seen, and the majority of my favorite memories as a child revolve around fishing.  Thanks to him I enjoy and have moderate skill at fishing, and I’m now able to share that with my own kids.  This past year, I had the unique pleasure of seeing a reversal of the usual pattern, when my interest in running sparked his interest in walking to get back in shape and lose some weight, which culminated in our both finishing the Outer Banks Marathon in November (me running the full, and my Dad walking the half).  One of the best days of my life, and another great memory shared with my dad.
He is by no means perfect, but who is?  It’s the imperfections that make us all unique, good or bad.  My wife often comments how much I remind her of my dad, and I take that as a compliment.  He was career Navy, but passed up several promotions so we could stay in Northern Virginia and my sister and I could go to good schools.  As a senior in high school I had scholarship offers for soccer, and an ROTC scholarship.  One fateful collision towards the end of my senior soccer season resulted in a gruesome shoulder dislocation, and I would never again play another game of soccer.  The athletic scholarships disappeared, and when I got to college I was unable to complete the ROTC physical test while I was rehabbing my arm, so the ROTC scholarship was in jeopardy.  Without missing a beat my parents stepped in and offered to pay for my tuition, all four years, and insisted that I drop the ROTC scholarship and end the drama.  I own them both a great deal, and hope that I am carrying on their legacy as a parent.

Happy Father’s Day to my father, and all the dads out there.  Hug and be hugged as much as you can today.  You’ve earned it.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Having a hard time finding time to spend in the blog world lately.  Reading, writing, etc. - all of it is just out of reach.  Work is soul-crushingly intense right now.  Impending layoffs, poor quarterly results, and survival-mode instincts make for a pressure-cooker climate.  More stressful than any time I can remember.  Compounded with some bad health news for a family member, the blood pressure is not in a good place.
Thankfully running/training has been going well.  Still trying to adjust to the sudden onset of Summer, but I've been sweating out some of the stress, which is therapeutic.  Logged my first week of 30+ miles last week and my body held up as well as can be expected.  Started the week with 9 miles (almost) at target marathon pace (8:15/mile versus marathon target of 8:09), and it felt good.  Exhausting, but good.  After an injury stalled start to the year, I've finally crossed 300 miles for the year, and I feel like I've got a solid base going for the start of official marathon training in July.  Injury is not an option ....  "ain't got time to bleed".

Unofficially I'd like to find some sort of race to do in June.  This would be my first foray into anything other than a Marathon, and I'd like to diversify a bit.  Ideally I'd try a half-marathon at my target full-marathon pace, but I haven't found anything reasonably nearby in this timeframe.  I'll keep looking.

Back to work .... deep breaths ...... serenity now.