ChickEkiden 2008

April 26, 2008

Last year, I heard about a run that sounded like a lot of fun, but for various reasons, I couldn’t do it. However, this year I was determined to make it onto a team and do it. Today was this day! The 2008 ChickEkiden, part of the Gainesville chicken festival. It’s a marathon length (26.2 miles) relay with a team of 6 people. The best part? The relay baton is a rubber chicken.

Our group was able to come up with 12 people, so we entered two teams: “Runners Fit” and “Runners Not So Fit”. The “fit” team was made up of the fastest people, and the rest of us, who weren’t so fast, were the other team. Needless to say, yours truly is not so fast…

Each of us had was responsible for approximately 4.3 miles. I was a little worried when Ryan told me the last mile was tough. Of course, I asked him if that meant it was his-tough or my-tough. It took him a moment to think about, but decided that it was his tough. Uh-oh, that doesn’t bode well.

Starting off, there were a lot of big rolling hills. Running next to a lady, whom I ended up doing almost the whole leg with (Coach Carmen), we joked that if this wasn’t considered the tough part, we need to really worry about the last mile!

Well, we ran. Without going through the boring step-by-step of the entire route, it was a good course. I actually didn’t think the last mile was that bad at all. The thing that makes it tough is just that you’re tired. Especially me, since I was like white lightning, running 2 minutes faster than my average. And yes, that’s two minutes faster per mile! I finished my leg in 37:50, when I was planning for 45 minutes. WooHoo!

Doing the chickendance after the handoff

One thing that may have slowed me down just slightly is I did what was appropriate: At each mile marker, I had to slow down to do part of the chicken dance. And of course, after I did the handoff, I did it again.

A shout out goes to my wife who came out to take pictures and support us. (She acted as the “team mom” for us, although she drew the line at holding our used Kleenex.) The rest of the team was great to hang out with and we all got our fill of chicken jokes in.

And for the record, this race gets a big thumbs up! The course was good, a lot of support and volunteers. The post race food was good. (I’ll let other people give their comments, but I liked the Panera breads.)

Afterwards, we planned on going to the chicken festival, but ended up shooting up to Brenau Academy, a girls school associated with the university there, where Dianna graduated from. We thought we’d take a picture of her there, but turned out they were having an open house. We ended up spending plenty of time talking to a lady who was touring it with her kids, and talked to the headmaster and a couple other people there. We also got to wander around and see the rooms and classes and stuff. It was a lot of fun.

We then stopped at RunnersFit for their spring sidewalk sale. Turns out that a number of people from our group was there, so we hung out a bit. (Felt sorta like going to Cheers, where everyone knows your name.) I met David, who ran the Sweet H2O 1/2 marathon this morning.

Note for team members: The pictures are uploaded to my gallery: Go to the races folder, and choose the Chickekiden 2008. If you want full size shots, let me know so we can figure out how to get them to you.


Intimidating hill of the day (and other funny things)

April 21, 2008

Saturday, I had the first half of my exciting weekend running, getting ice cream. Now, as exciting as this was, it was all roads, shoulders and sidewalks, dodging cars and breathing exhaust.  So Sunday, the plan was miles of trails.

Our group planned to meet at Ft. Yargo State Park at 7:30. This is when we usually meet, and has the advantage of getting us off the trail by the time the bikers are started. Clay, Joe and myself made the early hour. Everyone else was AWOL. Now, normally I won’t name drop like this, but it comes back later.

For a change of pace, we decided to go counter-clockwise. This will be against the bike traffic, which is good so we could get out of the way as needed. Off we set, and the speedsters rapidly take off. Because I screwed up my knee the day before, I decide to play it by ear. I made it through the first mile and was ok. At the end of the second mile, I thought about turning around, but decided it was just as easy to go forward to get back to the car. (Okay, never mind the fact that it was 2 miles back or at least 6 miles forward. Hey, I was in pain and not thinking clearly. Yeah, that’s the ticket…pain blurring the thoughts. You did buy it, right?)

Now, not being the total masochist, I did cut across the bridge near camping area B, cutting 3 miles off the trail. I had the vague thought I’d catch Team Speed at some point, but it never happened. I think I heard them talking at one point on the gas line, but I was on the trail in the shade.  At this point, about 4 miles in, I realize I’m almost hiking instead of running, so I adjust myself mentally and decide to take it easy.  Ah, that’s better…my knee only hurts half the time going downhill.

As I headed down the gas line (after the trail comes back out of the trees), I kept going down. And down some more. Boy, I realized that if I was going the other direction, this hill would be REALLY INTIMIDATING!

Here’s a picture of it, so you can feel appropriately in awe. If you look closely, you’ll see a mountain biker powering up it. I had to stay and watch him…he made it up, but I could’ve sworn he was wobbling from exhausting at the top:

(Now, just so you don’t thinking I’m a sniveling whinger who’s all talk, I did run UP this hill once. And, it was at about mile 25 of my 29 Cubed race, so I wasn’t exactly on fresh legs. And yes, it was a long ways up.)

So, as you may have noticed, I mentioned a biker. He passed me at the bottom of the hill. As I continued on, more and more bikers started coming. Now, I knew I was going slow, but that’s okay, since I was packing plenty of water in my fancy new CamelBack. Of course, a few made smart comments, such as “dude, your going the wrong way.” I continued on, and at one point, one of them wiped out right after passing me. (He must have past bad karma, since he only said hello as passing.)

A while later, a group of three passed. The first guy, in a proper a English accent, said “two more behind me.” So I hang on the side of the trail, and see the other two coming. I tried cheering them on with a “Come on! You can take him!”, but they didn’t understand me. As they get closer, it was two women, and one of them says with her accent, “hey, where’s your bike?”.

Well, to cut it short, I finished in a dreadful 2:21. My GPS said about 8.5 miles, but reviewing the tracks, it did lose coverage a little bit, so I’ll call it an even 25 miles. 🙂

Getting home, naturally I did want every team player does. I sent an email to the group, something along the lines of “Hey, where the heck were y’all? And you missed British accents! everyone loves accents. ”

A while later, I get this message back from an esteemed member of our club, and nearly fell out of my chair laughing:

That’s funny, that was my wife asking about the missing bike. she was
out riding Yargo this morning and came across a runner with a camel
back. I saw your message and just asked her, she replied – “how did
you know about that”! She’s from Liverpool, UK.

(Thanks Simon, that made my whole  day! Say hi to the wife from the idiot who forgot his bike. Sorry for confusing the accent, but you now how us dumb Americans are so culturally insensitive to these things.)

Ah, and to complete the mood of the weekend, I treated myself to an ice cream shake in the afternoon.

Ice cream run

April 19, 2008

Watching the weather report yesterday, it was supposed to be raining all morning today. This left me with a delemia, do I get up and meet the group or sleep in and go running whenever I get up?

I decided to sleep in…and it was pretty nice. For my run, I decided to make it kind of long, and go up to Bruesters to get ice cream. I thought it was about 8 miles away, so the distance would work good and I’d hit it right when I’d be about ready for a break. Perfect.

So, off I went. At about mile 2, a fresh biscuit and coffee sounded pretty good. But, alas, I set out for ice cream, so that’s what I’m going to get.

About mile 2, I passed the Golden Pantry.

Continuing up the road, it felt like I was in the county. There’s a big field that has alway looked pretty nice, but there weren’t many cows around enjoying it.

One thing y’all should know, down here in Georgia, hogs are taken very seriously. They have whole mountains of them.

Bruesters was just around the corner from here, but checking my GPS, I barely had 5 miles, so instead of going there, I headed up the highway to a subdivision and cruised around it for a while. I thought about stopping at a garage sale they were having, but decided that I’d be better off not. Otherwise I’d end up buying something I didn’t need and having to figure out how to get it home.

After adding the mileage, I headed off for my reward. I got in just under 6 miles when i got in. I got a single scoop of New York Cheesecake on a sugarcone. The guy looked at me pretty funny, pouring sweat and it had just finished raining, but I didn’t care…that first lick was great. So was everyone after it!

I chuckled when I saw their napkins. Guess I earned this because my shoes were on the right foot…would have been a long 6 miles if they weren’t.

Instead of going back the way I came, I headed down Braselton Highway (124). The shoulder was pretty small at times, but traffic wasn’t too bad. I got a chance to snap a shot of this old house. According to an article I read a while ago, this is one of the oldest standing buildings in the state. The owners are donating it to a local center, so soon it will be disassembled and rebuilt at some park.

In the end, I ended up with 10.71 miles. I guess I really underestimated it how far it was to the ice cream shop, but still worked out okay.

On a side note, I recently bought a new Camelback, and this was the first chance I’d have to use it. I was real happy. a lot of room and my back didn’t get too hot. I’ll look forward to using it on tomorrow’s trail run.

Other peoples blogs…

April 18, 2008

Okay, I admit, I enjoy reading other peoples blogs. Maybe it’s the voyeur in me…or maybe its because sometimes I come across little nuggets of virtual gold. It might be a sentence, it might be a paragraph, but it’s a little piece of wisdom gained. What’s that people way? Better to learn from others mistakes than make them yourself.

Just recently, I ran across Donald at Lucky him, he’s currently training for the Western States 100 and in preparation, last weekend, he ran the Mt. Diable 50 miler. In reading his race report, his last couple paragraphs are great:

For the most part, being able to spend an entire day running around on a mountain is a better time than most can dream of. Especially considering that most of these challenges take place in the most beautiful locations in the world, it’s a privilege to merely participate. There are countless people who would love to have the time, determination, ability, and resources to do the same. Truthfully, we have it better than the best – and I think that’s precisely how we pull on through.

Whatever tears at us, whatever holds us down or batters our bodies or bruises our spirit – those are the things we actively seek, if for no other reason than because we hope to be fortunate enough to find them. And when that is our mindset, all those hours on the trail aren’t primarily about trying to tick away the miles as quickly as possible (although make no mistake, I’ll always prefer to go faster. I may be Zen, but I’m not a masochist.) Rather, they are about simply enjoying each mile as it comes, and realizing that – as I wrote in the last post – each and every step of the journey is the journey.

Besides the sentence about being zen, which made me laugh out loud, the whole things speaks well of the pleasures of being out on the trail.

So thanks Donald, and all you other people out there in on the internet. See ya out there…I’ll be the masochist going really slow.

Funny story of the day (April 16th edition)

April 16, 2008

As y’all know, occasionally I am caught up in something that strikes me as funny. Today, another one of those moments happened.

On Monday, a coworker mentioned he signed up for a sprint triathlon. “Cool for you” I said. He’s a big biker…brought his own trainer into the gym to use all winter and goes out whenever the weather is good. So the swimming and running will be new for him. He was getting ready to head out for a run. I went back upstairs and had lunch.

Today, I was getting dress and he comes in:

Him: “Rahn, I don’t know how you do it?”

Me: “Me neither. What are we talking about?”

Him: “Running! I ran 3 miles, and I felt worse than going on a 60 mile bike ride.”

Me: “Oh that. Not sure what you could possibly mean.”

Him: “The pounding! How do you handle the !#)$! pounding?!? ”

Hehe, this was pretty funny, in my opinion. Since neither one of us are built like the Kenyans, of course we have these types of issues to deal with. We talked a bit about technique and getting shoes and what-not. (So, the other funny part of this is here, big guy giving running advice. Who would’ve thunk it? Especially a second time in less than a month.)

And Zen, I was back.

April 12, 2008

Now that I’m officially recovered and all, it’s time to start preparing for the next race in a couple weeks. So, I got up early and met with Roman to get some extra miles in before our group run. For some dumb-ass reason, we decided to meet at 6:20 AM. I can’t complain too much, since this allowed me to sleep in a whopping 25 minutes later than during the week. And happily, the pouring rain, thunder and lightning from the night before was taking a break.

I had recently mentioned to my comrade that I wanted to pick up some time and try to break a 4:30 for my next marathon. He, who is very wise in these things or at least lets us all think that, had some sage advice to offer. “Stop walking.”

Uh, sound simple, so I decided to give it a try. For our 3.25 miles, there wasn’t any walking. Not down the hill. Not up the hill. Nowhere. Okay, that’s cool and if I can keep it up for 23 more miles, we’re in business.

After finishing, sitting around waiting for everyone else and taking it easy, we headed out for part two. The first mile was no problem.

Then, the strange thing happened. I remember passing the club house at the golf course (they were having a tournament). I remember seeing everyone else in the group in the distance. I was thinking about the Blue Ridge relay and stuff. Then I looked up. WTF! Oh. Shit. I’m a mile and a half down the road, and don’t remember any of it. I was completely caught up in the running and focusing on it, I was unaware of the passage of time.

Pretty dang cool. Very Zen like. I know there was moving over for cars and stuff, but the usual landmarks, I don’t recall passing them, or thinking about being tired or any of the other things that normally occupy me.

Unfortunately, once I came out of it, I couldn’t get back. Oh well…it was way cool, in a very hippy like way.

The rest of the run was relatively plain. I stopped to watch a horse competition for a few minutes. (The rest of the group saw me stop and waved, but I didn’t see them.) There was a light rain, then Thor told me to go a bit faster. (i.e. there was thunder directly overhead.) Did just over 6 miles, which gave me just under 10 for the morning.

And I’ll end with the following observation:The problem with not walking is that it means you’re running the whole way.

WooHoo – I’m not broken

April 9, 2008

My fears of some stress fractures are now gone. The podiatrist says it’s just tendonitis. With some good ol’ non-steriod anti inflammatory pills (e.g prescription strength ibuprofen), I’m good to start running as much as I want and can handle.

I even got a cool picture of my foot.

xray of my left foot