Before I get down to business, I want to take a moment and thank everyone that has donated to my charity. And for those of you that are unaware, I am raising money for the HCM Foundation as part of my participation in the Javelina Jundred in November. You can view the details at...
If you can spare a few bucks, it would really make a difference in the lives of people that really need it.
And one more piece of news before I get started...I want to formally congratulate my dear friend Derek Schultz for his amazing finish at the Pine to Palm 100 in Oregon this weekend. Derek trained hard and flew 3000 miles to tackle a brutal 100 miler and came in 3rd overall. Derek is an amazing runner and I consider myself lucky to have him as a close friend and running partner. I'm convinced we're living in the Golden Age of ultra running and Derek is one of the emerging stars. We'll be reading about his accomplishments for years to come. CONGRATS DEREK!
As we come into the fall running season, I find my calendar packed with weekend doubles. This weekend was the first of many to come between now and November. On Saturday, I ran the Revenge of the Penguins 20 miler in Carderock, MD. and then ran the Philly Rock and Roll Half Marathon today.
These races fall one month after finishing the Leadville 100 and two weeks since my last ultra. The fall running season is a crazy blur of activity and I love it.
Revenge of the Penguins is a very low key race and pretty much under the radar. I was interested in it because there are so few 20 mile races available and it can make for an excellent training run. This race is run on a towpath along the C&O Canal and alongside the Potomac River. I found the idea of this race to be intriguing.
Jo and I got up early and drove 2 hours to Carderock to make it in plenty of time for the 8:00 AM start. There were approximately 300 runners in attendance, mostly from the DC area.
The format is out and back (which I despise). There were 9 aid stations on the course for 20 miles, so I didn't carry anything with me.
I'm somewhat perplexed by these shorter races that are run on flat and even ground. I don't run these types of races often and don't really know how to plan for them. I don't wear a GPS watch when I race or when I train. I don't know anything about my average split times or what my tempo pace is. I just run. That's my plan for every race I enter and for every training run I do. I just lace up my shoes, head out the door, and RUN. To the typical road runner, this probably sounds stupid, but to a trail runner or ultra runner, it really makes sense. You can't forecast race splits for the Hardrock 100 based on your times from the Umstead 100. Turnover rate and split times don't mean shit on the Trail. Therefore, I am at a total loss when running these types of races.
Soooo...when the race started, I ran like this race was the Olympic Trials. I went out FAST. It wasn't until the 3 mile mark that I realized I was in 3rd place overall. And while I'm pretty fond of my running, I'm also realistic. I am NOT a 3rd place runner, or top 1% runner. So after a few minutes of reflection...I backed off a bit.
Side note...this tendency of starting out too fast is pissing me off. Exactly who the hell do I think I am? I need to get this in check or I might kill myself. My lack of speed is why I became an ultra runner in the first place!
This is a picture of me running way too damn fast...
I finally relaxed and settled into a pace that seemed appropriate for what I wanted to achieve. I allowed several people to pass me while I listened to my iPod and took in the beauty of the "trail". At the turn, I counted the runners ahead of me and determined that I was in 27th place. This seemed more fitting for a runner like me.
Things were going pretty well until about mile 17 when I started to feel pretty sluggish. I knew right away it was a fueling issue. I hadn't eaten anything during the run and didn't bring anything with me. Once again, I'm a victim of my ultra running tendencies. If this were a 50 miler, I would have hit 3 fully stocked aid stations and eaten a PB&J and a cookie by now. And to be honest, I really missed having my crew (Jo) around to care for me. Who wants to race without a crew? This is madness!
Another side note...do I race ultras just so I can picnic in the woods...while I run? This should be explored.
I slugged out the last few miles at a slightly slower pace and got passed by a few more runners. I finally made it to the finish in 2:49:33 and was in 42nd place overall. This put me in the top 15%, right where I belong.
I felt really good after the race, but I wanted to start preparing for my next race right away. The RD had pizza delivered to the finish, so I devoured 3 slices of that, I popped some electrolyte pills, Advil, and some multi-vitamins as soon as the race finished. I also drank plenty of water, sports drink and beer following the race. I had to restock the system ASAP so I could be prepared for what lies ahead tomorrow.
Out of the COUNTRY and into the CITY!!! These two races and venues could NOT have been any different!
The Philly Rock and Roll Half Marathon sounded like too much fun to pass up. Philly is a great city to run in and I was amped up for the race. I don't run many road races, and I rarely run races at this distance, but it sounded like a great use of my Sunday.
My lovely wife and several of our friends were also planning to attend this race, so I was also excited to see my friends and share this race with them too.
The start time was set for 8:00 and it was COLD when we were getting settled in our corrals. I was positioned in wave 6 and Jo was back in wave 19. We kissed goodbye and waited for the start.
Once I got running, the weather felt perfect. I was planning (hoping) for 8:00 splits for the entire distance. This was only important because it would guarantee a PR if I could hold that pace. I had no idea what to expect due to the 20 miler I ran yesterday. I just set my legs on cruise control and went along for the ride.
I am without my iPod because this race promises different bands stationed along the course. They represented almost every music genre and it was fun to listen to them all.
I got a little surprise at mile 4 when I heard somebody calling my name. When I looked over, I saw my friend Bart Yasso standing in the median cheering me on. I ran by and he gave me a high five! I love that guy...he's such an inspiration and such a great person! In addition to Bart, I saw my friend Bob Bodkin on the sidelines coaching his NF runners and I saw Mike Marsteller, the founder of HCM and a good friend, while he was cheering on his girlfriend, Lyndsay, in her first half marathon. All these great people cheered me on and gave me fantastic support.
I monitored my splits at each mile marker, which was made easy because they had timing clocks under every mile post. For the first 8 miles I was hitting 8:00 splits dead on. They were nearly perfect. I started to wonder how long this would last...Mile 9, another perfect 8:00. Mile 10 I was 1:20 into the race...perfect 8:00 splits. The same thing for mile 11, 12, and 13.
To be perfectly honest, I was a little surprised that I was maintaining this pace after my 20 mile race yesterday. But like I said before, I never time myself anymore, so I had no reason to think I could forecast my finish time. But I was feeling great and just kept the pace on lock!
I finished in 1:44:52... a new PR! Totally unexpected!
After I finished, I grabbed some food and wandered in the park listening to the bands while I waited on Jo to finish. The park at the Art Museum was quite a scene and I really enjoyed it.
I finally found a spot along the finishers chute and waited for Jo. She looked strong when she came into view and finished just shy of a PR at 2:20. She did great and I was really proud of her.
I think I scared the crap out of her when I yelled her name so I could get a picture!
We were also there with our friends Paul Peters who finished in 1:29, his wife Heather who rocked a PR in 2:25, our amazing friend Stephanie Goeckermann (pure badass and future ultra star no doubt) who tore it up with a 2:06, and our friend Nikki who ran her first half marathon in a time of 2:18!! I'm so proud of them all!
I love days like these because I get to share my sport with my wife. All too often, she has to set aside her race ambitions in favor of mine because I need her to crew during an ultra or help support in some way at a trail race that I plan to attend. It's nice to just go out and hit a road race for the sheer joy of running fast on asphalt (although, trails are still WAY freakin better) and spending the day with my wife and our awesome friends. It was a good day.
I'm going to "Double my Pleasure" again next week with a 40 mile ultra on Saturday and an extreme 10 mile trail race on Sunday. So look for my race report next week!