Sunday, December 30, 2012

12/30/12: 2012 in Review

2012 was an interesting year of running for me. In prior years I focused heavily a few big races and stacked a large number of smaller races throughout the year. 2012 featured a more relaxed approach with less focus on my races, fewer races, and more downtime.

The year started with marathon training for the Rock N Roll USA Marathon. Unfortunately I did not have a good day and suffered badly on the back half, exacerbated by unusually high temperatures for mid March (3:09 finish time). One bright side was a great race at the hilly, small, local George Washington Birthday Marathon, where I clocked a 3:04 on a “training run”. I am hoping to return to that race this February.

After Rock N Roll USA it was back to the trails and the ultra world. The Ice Age 50 with Big Papa Fitz was a highlight from all the races I have run, and it was lots of fun to run with Dylan and have the family there supporting us.

My only DNF of the year came 3 weeks later at the Laurel Highlands 70. I dropped at my 46 after struggling mightily with nutrition. It was a bummer to have this long-standing problem happen again, but I’m happy that this was my only issue in 2012, and my nutrition was spot on with every other race.

A week later I jumped into the Mason Dixon Longest Day Challenge 100K. After the DNF I was out to prove something. I certainly had ample opportunity at this race, which can only be described as one tough mother. The course was unmarked and difficult to navigate, there were only 3 aid stations over ~65 miles, I was running unsupported, and parts of the course were extremely tough. At mile 9 I took a nasty fall that left me bloodied and with a badly bruised hip. Add in being lost for over an hour, and it indeed was a long day. But I stubbornly pushed on, giving Jen a call every so often saying, “No I have not finished yet … yes I am still alive … yes I promise I will finish eventually.” I definitely proved something to myself, and this will always be a memorable challenge for me.

After that race I decided to let my body and mind recover and uncharacteristically did almost zero running the entire summer. I however keep my passion for adventure alive with some unbelievable hikes, but more on that soon.

In September I fired myself back in gear and started whipping myself back into shape. I had signed up for the Marine Corp Marathon planning to cruise through it as a fun, local race. Without any real planning, preparation, or tapering, I lined up deep into the crowd and started out slow. It ended up being one of those days where everything clicked, and I pretty comfortably ran a very surprising 2:58.

Following MCM, I ran my second fastest 5K in 17:55 at the Flemington Turkey Trot and set a 50K PR of 4:37 with a 1st place in the MGM 50K.

Overall it was a great year despite being less structured and planned. I ran roughly 3,200 miles this year vs. closer to 3,500 the past several years.

2012 also featured some quite spectacular hikes. Jen and I were lucky enough to do a Rim to River to Rim Grand Canyon Hike, the 4 day Salcantay trek through the Andes to Machu Picchu, and about 65 miles of Alta Via 1 through the Dolomites. 

adventure is out there!: Grand Canyon 2012  DSC01178adventure is out there!: Trek Day 2  adventure is out there!: Hiking Day 3 Scotoni to Scoiatolli

I hope you all had a wonderful 2012 and got to experience some good adventure.  Here’s to more adventure and fun in 2013!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

12/16/12: MGM 50K

This was 4 years straight at the Magnus Gluteus Maximus 50K, a race I have really come to love.  I have been fortunate to run better each year and ran 4:37 this time, which was good for a PR and 1st place. 

I followed my new perfect pre-race routine that consists of carbo-loading with beer, zero planning, and nearly missing the race start.  I had a work happy hour the night before the race and then met up with one of my best friend's from college who was in town for the weekend.  Dinner consisted a large amount of delicious fried food.  Perfect pre-race prep.

I was much less than excited to wake up at 6am and get to the race.  I slowly got my things together and chugged some coffee to wake up.  I was already running late, which was made worse when I realized I went to the wrong trailhead, which was a good 25 minutes out of the way.  Woops.

I rolled up at 7:50 and made it to the start line just in time to be a bit late for the official start.  I quickly caught up to the lead pack and finally started to relax.  My stomach was growling at me from dinner the night before, but the legs were feeling good, and I was rolling along.

Two first-timers were running up front and asked how hard it would be to navigate the Do-Loop by themselves.  I said it would be "pretty impossible" but then amended my statement to "just plain impossible."  They did not heed my warning and shot off on their own.

I ran on my own for a bit until another first-timer caught up with me.  He was a really nice guy and asked if I would mind him tagging along for the Do-Loop.  This sounded a bit like the blind leading the blind since I still don't really know the Do-Loop very well, but I made him sign a waiver absolving me of any blame and said I would do my best.

We came off the Bull Run trail at mile 12 in 1:42, and I felt great.  Apparently the two guys who shot off in the front got lost in the parking lot and did not make it even one foot into the Do-Loop.  The guy behind me scooped them up while they were wandering around the parking lot and took them through the loop.  Just goes to show - don't mess with the Do-Loop.

I took it a bit easier in the first part of the loop to make sure we didn't get lost.  Fortunately they actually had a few streamers marking a couple of key turns.  Boy I just felt spoiled.  It was still tricky, but we made it through just fine.  On the way back out I started picking it up and moving well.

I came back onto the Bull Run trail 1:04 later.  I didn't know for sure what happened to the two guys in front, but I was fairly sure I was out in front at this point.  The first 6 miles back on the Bull Run trail weren't too bad.  I was fading on the uphills with tired legs, but I was still moving really well on the flats and downhills. 

The last 6 miles were a grind, but I managed to hold a decent pace.  At the last aid station 5.5 miles out, I grabbed some Coke and  Fig Newtwon, which perked me up a bit.  I kept counting down the miles and knew I would break 4:40 as long as I didn't fall in the river (hey, you never know).

Just over a mile from the finish, I ran past a husband / wife out hiking on the trail and soon after tripped on a rock.  I caught myself and fell relatively gracefully, but my calf cramped up as I was falling.  They looked back to see if I was ok, and there I was rolling around on the ground trying to unlock my calf.  I think they thought I having some kind of seizure, so I yelled out "I'm good ... calf cramped up ...  carry on, I'll be fine."  I hauled myself up and immediately started running to the finish, I'm sure leaving this couple wondering what kind of crazy pills I was taking.

I turned off the trail for the climb up to the Hemlock lodge and saw somebody not too far back on the trail.  I finished in 4:37 just a couple of minutes ahead of 2nd place. 

It was a great day and a great run.  I look forward to hopefully keeping the MGM tradition alive!