Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crushing Dreams and a Beatdown at the Ridley

This past weekend I made my return to the Ridley 5k after a 1 year hiatus. I've done this race every year since 2002 but last year the Army 10 Miler conflicted with it. On Saturday morning I lined up for the 5k.

The main road the race starts and finishes on was ripped up for repaving so that meant taking it easy on the way out and back. But once off that road, it was all out. When the gun went off, I started out at a comfortable pace as I made my way down 25. The crowd fanned out quickly and I had some room to run. I had a race planned the next day so I knew this would not be an 'all out' effort. The turn off came quickly and I was running well.

Before I knew it I was coming up on the 1 mile marker. Ahead of me I saw a small runner. At most she came up to my waist. She was wearing a pink shirt with shorts that had matching trim. She looked like a child of one of the central american farm workers up here. On a whole, they are short people so she could be a 7 year old or a grown woman in my age group. Either way, I had to keep her close. As I came up along side her, we established eye contact. I taunted encouraged her by giving a thumbs up and said "good job". She took this as a challenge and ran ahead of me. I smiled knowing full well she was about to get a beatdown by me. I let her go a little but knowing she couldn't hold on. I maintained my speed and quickly came back to her. This time I didn't look directly at her, but I could see out of the corner of my she was looking at me. I mumbled "hasta la vista, baby" and put down the hammer. At this point I had 2 miles to put her away. There would be a few opportunities on the course to judge how far ahead I was.

The first roundabout came up and as I went around a small turnaround I didn't see her. For all I knew she was right behind me. I looked for her as I went up the road and still didn't see her. That meant at this time she was still not too far behind. I was running scared here. I didn't want to have this race end in a showdown. I turned down Riverside Drive and headed towards the next turnaround. After I turned around the traffic cone, I looked for my prey. She was a good distance behind me now. I knew if I didn't slow down, the crushing of her dreams would be complete.

I kept up my pace and was nearing the finish line. I made the final turn off 25 and headed to the finish line triumphant!! I kept my eye on the clock and saw my victim making her way up the road. She wound up finishing ~3 minutes behind me. When I looked up the results later, I saw that she was 7 years old. It's never too early to crush the dreams of a child. Ah, I love the smell of a good beatdown, smells like victory!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fulfilling a Promise

Last year at this time I was doing some fund raising for my cousin Michael's medical bills as he was about to undergo chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant after a relapse of his leukemia. When I brought him the money I told him when he was well enough he had to run a race with me. He promised we would run together. Sadly, Michael passed away in March and we never had our run. After his wake his mother said they wanted to do a race with me like Michael had promised. I searched the web for something in the fall and found something that could get everyone involved.

Fast forward to yesterday and Wingman and I headed out to East Brunswick, NJ. We arrived at Cathy and Paul's house in the morning. Carolyn and her boys, Danny and Nico, and Rosanna and her daughter Juliana came to Cathy's house before the race. Even my aunt Katherine tagged along. We formed a caravan and drove to the race start. We were missing my cousin Cindy because she had to work and couldn't get out of it, but she sent her husband Jim and their daughters Kathryn and Lauren. Michael had plenty of people representing him.

This event had a few races - a kids pumpkin dash, 1 mile fun run, 5k and 10k. We were split between the 1 miler and 5k. Carolyn was the official photographer for the 5k race. Carolyn, Aunt Katherine, Cathy, Rosanna, Juliana, Danny, and Nico rounded out the cheering squad after their 1 mile fun run.

The course was a simple out and back. It gave us all plenty of opportunity to see each other on the course and cheer each other on. I have to say I was so proud to see Kathryn and Lauren running out there. The Wingman saw Kathryn running on her own and doubled back to run with her and coach her to the finish. Jim and Paul stayed with Lauren and got her through the race.

Overall it was a great family event. I was so grateful to everyone that stepped up to help Michael with his promise. It truly made my day and next year we are all planning to do this again!!

Lauren and Kathryn before the race. Clearly someone
is proud of her race number!

 Wingman and Danny finishing up the 1 mile fun run

 Danny making some adjustments to his race shirt

Carolyn trying to give the illusion she's 
running in with Nico

 Cousin Cathy and Aunt Katherine

 Our cheering squad, ready to go!
Nico, Danny, Juliana and Rosanna

 Carolyn's foot........

Kathryn finishing her 1st 5k under the 
watchful eye of Coach Wingman


 Paul, Jim and Lauren. Seriously, she gets
major style points for this finish!!

 Someday my hair will bounce this nicely when I run

The whole crew!!

Michael, your family came through for you yesterday, 
but I know you were there running with all of us.
Thank you.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hello small chain ring, so nice to meet you.......

My off season has begun so I am not training for anything. But I still enjoy getting out and riding. Today I had plans to head out with Wynn and Crazy Mark for a ~3 hour ride. I had an appointment at noon up island so I told Wynn we needed to be on the road at 7a. They were more than happy to oblige. Wynn had a route picked out that would hopefully shelter us from most of the wind blowing out there this morning.

I drove to Wynn's house and Crazy Mark was already there. We chatted in the kitchen for a few minutes with Teresa and then it was time to head out. At 7a, it's not quite light out, but it's not dark either. We must have looked like a strange site wearing sunglasses, but before long it was pretty light out. We zipped along the back roads heading west towards Middle Island. The usually quiet roads were busy with detoured traffic from the LIE. There must have been an accident or some kind of closure to warrant all the cars we saw.

The roads were mostly flat until we were up in Middle Island and heading north from there. Usually I am used to flat land riding, but this was considered hilly to me. I wasted no time in dropping down into my small chain ring. I haven't been on this ring in ages. And today I spent a good deal of time in it. Wynn was up ahead and Crazy Mark and I were bringing up the rear.

Rocky Point was the last hilly area I rode through. I could feel the fatigue setting in. It's been a month since I rode more than 1.5 hours. My last long ride (3 hrs) was my race in September. I also had to keep one eye on the clock too. When we got to Wading River, they turned up north to add on a little more and I bid them farewell and headed back to Wynn's house. The ride back was tough. I was alone to ride into the wind. I had no one to take turns blocking the wind. I just kept my head down and pedaled hard.

Before I knew it I was back in Wynn's development. I had completely forgotten about the big hill to get to his house. Crap. Once again, I dropped down onto my new best friend the small chain ring, and got up. I packed the bike into the car and went inside to say goodbye to Teresa. She graciously have me a few brownie cupcakes and I made quick work of one of them. Sooooo good after a long ride.

I really enjoyed the route today and am looking forward to getting back out there again soon. Group rides in the fall are so much fun!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mission Report: Army 10 Miler

My latest mission was the Army 10 Miler down in DC. My training has been sporadic to say the least due to a lingering leg injury. It was getting better and I was ramping up my mileage again slowly, but then I was sick for a week, and when I returned to running, the leg pain started coming back. I opted for a new pair of running shoes and tried some taping during the week. It seemed to keep the pain away so I had my fingers crossed for the race. My longest run going into it was ~7.35 miles so no matter how you slice it, this was going to be a tough race. The last two miles are tough to begin with, but if you are covering them with a lack of run fitness, it has the makings for a brutal morning.

Friday night Wingman and I departed for Washington, DC. We got in pretty late and went straight to the hotel and to sleep. Saturday morning we got up and made our way to the expo to pick up our race packet. I also had to think about what weapons I was going to use for this race. Would a standard military rifle do?

Or should I bring the rocket launcher?

Or do I just go with a simple Black Hawk?

The Black Hawk is very impressive in person

Instead I just opted for a simple pair of Asics:

Weapon of choice for the Army 10 Miler

The race changed slightly this year. The start and finish lines were moved to different areas of the highway. Just getting to the Pentagon was a near nightmare. The Metro was hardly running any trains so we had to wait almost 20 minutes. Once we got to our stop, we had to wait almost 15 minutes just to exit the station. Once above ground, we dropped off our bags and made our way down the highway to the start. It was crowded so I gestured to the Wingman to follow me. 

Once we got up to the race start, I relaxed knowing we were now settled in.  Since I haven't trained 100% for this, it was just going to be a 'Sunday run' and not a race. The problem is, once that cannon goes off, I can't control what the HOTS will do. I knew that I could get to the 6 or 7 mile marker comfortably, it's the last 3 miles that had me worried. 

After the Star Spangled Banner was sung, the cannon went off and my mission began. I went up the road about 1.5 clicks and turned off on an exit ramp to get onto the Arlington Memorial Bridge. This bridge is like a minefield for me. I had to watch every step I took. The bridge is all cobblestone and one wrong step could tweak my shin splint and end my mission right there. I followed a 1.5 foot wide solid cement border along the edge of the bridge. Once I secured the bridge, I circled around the Lincoln Memorial. I know this part of the course like the back of my hand. I knew which lanes to be in to prepare for the turns. I made sure not to follow anyone to closely so I could see the pavement at all times. Last thing I needed was a pothole or rough road surface. I also avoided stepping up onto curbs. I turned onto Constitution Ave and ran past the Federal Reserve building. After a sharp left, it was an uphill climb towards the Watergate Complex. I swear I shed a tear every year I go past. 

Another sharp u-turn and I came around the back side of Watergate and then along the Kennedy Center. I was 3 miles in and was making good time so far. I started to think that if I could put in a few fast miles, then maybe I can minimize the damage late in the race. But for now, I just kept my focus on feeling good. 

Before I knew it my Garmin buzzed I noticed that I was 4 miles in and that each mile time was almost identical which means I was running very even splits. I knew I would be able to rendezvous at the 5 mile time check with plenty of time to spare to keep the mission alive. Once I crossed the timing mat I was running down Independence Ave and along the National Mall. The streets are heavily lined with spectators so I knew I had to keep moving fast. I turned at the American Indian Museum (seriously, there is a museum for everything in DC, so PC down there) and made the turnaround. The only glitch so far was not being able to open my gel packet. I fought hard with it and finally got it open and swallowed it down quickly. 

By now I was 7 miles in and entering no-man's land. It's a slight uphill back up Independence Ave so I made sure I didn't gun it. Every step now was in uncharted territory. Fatigue, my enemy, was waiting for me with every step I took. It was getting warm out and I could feel my eyes burning from the salty sweat running down my face. Would my mission be in jeopardy? With each buzz of the Garmin, I reviewed the split. I was still making decent time, but I knew the dreaded highway awaited me. This highway is tough because it's constantly rolling. You're up, you're down, you're up, down, etc. It really wears away at you if you went out really hard (or haven't run more than 7 miles in a few months). 

Mentally, I was calculating how many more minutes I had to run. After you cross the George Washington Memorial Bridge, you have 1 mile to go. I knew this was almost over. I finally made my way up the last hill on the highway and then raced downhill to the Pentagon. In years past, this means your race is almost over. But with the new course, you still have ~ 1/2 mile to go. This was the longest half mile of my life. I was doing the math and looking for visual contact of the finish line. Once I had it in my sight, I ran hard to try and salvage a course PR. I flew across the line and managed to set a course PR by 16 seconds. It was nowhere near my 10 mile PR, but the lack of running and this being a tough course made that impossible. 

Wingman and I flew back to NY tonight and for the most part my legs feel fine. The only thing is it feels like I was hit in the calves with a baseball bat. Go figure.........

My race season has officially come to a close. The rest of the fall season are short, fun races to help me get back some speed and fitness. I need to sit down with myself over the next few days and figure out what I want from next season.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's like a roller coaster.......

What a long week. It all started last weekend with my uncle coming to NY from SF for a visit. I had the weekend planned out, then we had another thing to deal with. The Wingman's cousin passed away after battling pneumonia and we were back and forth all weekend. Saturday morning I went to my mom's house to visit my uncle, then the afternoon we went to the wake, back to my mom's Saturday evening for dinner. I got home a little late and got my things together for my race the next morning. I think I got ~5 hours of sleep.

When the alarm went off I got up, ate, showered and went to my race. It wasn't until I got to the race site that I realized I left my helmet home on the table. I was ready to bail on the race and head home when I ran into Mary Ellen and she found a helmet for me to use. The race was over pretty quick. It was all high speed, short effort stuff. No time to think, just go go go. It made for a great workout! After the race, I changed and drove to my mother's house to see my uncle before he left for the airport. Then I drove home, showered, and changed for the wake. I was exhausted at this point. I slept in the car as Wingman drove to the funeral home. Between the two wake sessions, we went out to dinner. I think we finally left the funeral home after 9p. That's a long day for me - up at 3:45a and in bed well after 10p.

Monday was the wake. I shifted my work hours to go to the church in the morning and work the afternoon. But as soon as I woke up Monday, I felt something was off. I came into contact with quite a few people and I cringed all weekend as I could feel germs all over the place. I was hoping whatever it was would pass me by. But I went into defcon 5 and started eating zinc lozenges like they were candy. It wasn't long before my taste buds could only taste zinc no matter what I was eating. I also upped my vitamin C intake. This was an all out assault on the germs. Whatever took hold, didn't have much of a foothold on me. I had some sniffles and felt run down from no rest over the weekend. It impacted my workouts for the week. I am in crunch mode for the Army 10 Miler. I opted to rest a few days and let my body get a break. It's been 2 years since I've had a cold and this one was mild compared to the last one I had. I think the zinc helped me and taking it easy didn't hurt either.

It was a tough week at work. When I'm not feeling well, I can get crabby. We had to explain the Medicare regulations regarding PT visits to patients and it was like talking to a wall at times. I kept my composure, but it reminded me that in my perfect employment world, I would prefer not to work with most geriatric patients. I am fortunate that I have a few patients on my caseload that are fun to work with. I really get to stretch my brain with them between hands-on manual therapy and creative exercises. Now that I no longer have to study, I've been doing some reading on various treatments. Today's topic was neck pain and looking at the evidence out there to help me plan treatments for patients. I'll try to put something together over the next few days to hand out at work.

My weekend workouts fell short of my goals. I had a long run planned for Saturday, but I had to cut it a little short. I was running on fumes after being sick this week. It will leave me with a gaping hole for long run training as I head into the Army 10 Miler. I am heading into this race undertrained. As a precaution I am going to tape my leg to support my recovering shin splint. I have no idea how my leg will hold up over 10 miles so I'm better off being safe than sorry. Today the Wingman and I went out for a 2 hour ride. About halfway in he got a flat from a piece of metal. When he took his spare tube out, we realized the valvestems were too short. I gave him my spare tube with the thought of "we both couldn't possibly flat on the same ride." Well, guess what? I flatted. Damn nail in the tire. I now had no spare. I sent the Wingman home and I began the walk of shame. I knew it would be ~40 minutes before I would see him again and I was afraid of sitting around and feeling cold. I walked a bit up the road and decided to sit on a guard rail in the sun and wait. I saw the Wingman drive towards me so I went near the shoulder to wave to him my new location. And he kept on driving...........

He didn't see me because he was trying to pass a slow driver. I called him on the cellphone and told him to turn around and come back. He picked me up and we headed home. Tomorrow we will deal with patching two tires and tubes.