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: photos.gonesomewhere.com. 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.


Ruhn! Rahn! Ruhn! – 2008 ING Georgia Marathon

March 30, 2008

Rahns bib

Sunday started cold and wet, about 43 degrees and raining as I left the house. The forecast was for the rain to stop by 7, then get colder for a couple hours (down to 38) then come back up to 43 or so. With that in mind, my wardrobe consisted of 2 technical shirts, my standard yellow vest and shorts. I also strapped on my new waist pack I got yesterday and my racing flats (which feel like they’re 1/2 the weight of my regular shoes). A lot of Powerglide and Vaseline, with my Injinji socks rounded me out. Ipod with Nike+ was my timer, sans headphones.

I took Marta down, catching a train about 6:15. It was absolutely packed with other runners and I had a good time socializing a bit. I was sitting with a bunch of gals doing the half, then one of them noticed my bib number was a different color, and was very thrilled that I was doing the full. She nudged her boyfriend and said “Hey, he’s doing the full” in reverent tones. I thought it was kinda funny, but hey, that’s cool.

Getting off the train a guy started talking to me who was doing the half. He asked a bunch of questions about training for the full and how does someone who’s uh, on the bigger side, do it. He was also well built, about 10 pounds less but a couple inches taller. After talking the whole way to the starting area, he was pretty motivated to give it a go. Good luck buddy. Again, I chuckled that here I was, being the role model as a runner.
Starting Area

We showed up a couple minutes before the start, as they were singing the nation anthem. I ran off to try to find the bag drop, hit a puddle that soaked my shoes, and ran probably 1/2 miles looking for it. Finally managed to find it, and got back to the crowd waiting to start just as the gun started. It took about 10 minutes to make it to the starting line, and we were off.

My plan was to take it really easy until the crowd broke up, then continue taking it easy. I’d do some preemptive walking when my legs started to tighten up in an effort to prevent it from getting bad. I’ve been training around a 11:45 pace, and would be happy to hold that for the first half.

The first few miles were a gentle downhill, and I thought I was on track. There was a guy dressed as Superman who passed me. I felt good holding speed for the next couple miles too, even on the uphills. About mile 5, I looked up and was surprised to see I was with the 4:30 pacing group! Holy cow, guess I’ve been going faster than planned. Especially considering I continued at the same pace and passed them up, still feeling good.

The first 7 miles were a lot of fun as we hit a lot of interesting areas of the city and the halfer’s were with us so it was a huge crowd. We saw all the Martin Luther King stuff, and the crowds were out in force. In one area, Little Five Points I think, there was a bunch of kids out playing brass instruments. Okay, they kinda sucked, but it was really cool that they were out there. Coming up on the split, they were playing Jenny’s Girl (867-5309) over the PA, which scared me because I thought I was going to have that stuck in my head the rest of the way.

After the split, it was less crowded and the wind picked up. Ouch, it was a little cold…the wind would stay with us all the way through Decatur until around mile 12. At points, it was more than just a little cold. The crowds in Decatur were good, and we hit Agnes Scott College and the coeds did a great job cheering us further. They had a band rocking away and everyone was having a good time.
Around mile 2

I hit the 13.1 mark right at 2:30. Way to go, I was on a 5 hour pace! I made my goal at this point to do sub-15 minute miles from here on out. This shouldn’t have been a problem, and I figured that will get me a 5:30-ish finish. (Yeah, I know the math doesn’t quite work out, but if I picked up 3 minutes a mile for 4 of the miles, it does.)

The next few miles were a blur. I was hurting a bit, but maintaining speed around 12 mpm. Around mile 17 I really started hurting. I felt the wall coming fast and furious. I’d been hydrating really well and taking a lot of gels, but it wasn’t really helping at this point . In fact, it felt like I had a huge ball of sugar just sitting in my stomach. Someone was handing out pretzels at one point, and a few of those helped soak some of that in.

Coming into Piedmont park (mile 22), I was struggling to run at all. I pretty much settled in to the mindset of walking the rest of the way and still meeting my goal. The 5:00 hour flew by at, which didn’t help. (I guess the 4:30 group passed me early and I missed them.) A guy whom I’d been pacing on and off with for that last five miles pulled a lead that I couldn’t catch up, and a woman caught up to me doing a serious power walk. We hung out for a couple miles, and her daughters came on course and walked with us for a while. They were funny as complaining teenagers because they couldn’t keep up with us! This made me feel better. I got the energy to start running a little bit on a downhill and took off.

The last thing of excitement was about 3/4 of an mile later after a uphill where I decided to run again on the downhill. Oh, it hurt so bad I yelled out. It motivated some kid running his first so he said “hey, I’ll run with you. Let’s go!” We motivated each other for a mile or two before my quads gave out. I had to pause to stretch, then eventually lost site of him. I think he was probably 5-10 minutes ahead of me to the finish.

The lady with the kids caught back up to me, I left her again, then she powered up for the last quarter mile and pulled ahead and finished just before me.

Whew! There I am. Chip time of 5:17, which beat my previous best by 22 minutes. Way to go!

Afterwards, as my tribute to Abebe Bikila’s first olympic win, I stretched and laid down on my back and waved my limbs around like crazy. Boy, it felt good.

EDIT (4/1/08): In case it wasn’t implied, I thought I should say it explicitly. Thank you very much to all the supporters out on the course. Hanging out in the cold is hard to do, but for the runners, it really does make a world of difference. Your ringing cowbells, offering food/drink, shouting and everything else helps make the magic happen.


29 Cubed – the second half (Thrill in the Hills 1/2 Marathon)

March 1, 2008

As you know, my challenge started on Friday, 2/29/08, with trying to run 29 miles. The plan was to do 16 miles on Friday, then a previously scheduled ½ marathon on Saturday to make 29 miles. Simple enough.

Friday went fine, and I actually got in a bit over 17 miles. I even finished feeling pretty good – barely sore at all. A good dinner and off to bed early got me through the night. Waking up and getting out of bed, I still wasn’t too bad. A little stiff, but I could tell that it would wear off soon as I walked around a bit.

A quick breakfast (oatmeal with honey and a tablespoon of peanut butter) and I was out the door. Getting to the race was no problem, but there was a traffic backup getting in, since they had park rangers collecting the parking fees. No problems with packet pickup, and I met up with the rest of the posse-Roman (who did 16 yesterday), Clay, and a co-worker of Roman’s whom I hadn’t met before were running and Brad and Ryan as support and photographers.

The race starts with a nice uphill, supposedly to separate out the pack. After powering up it, I definitely started feeling the burn from yesterday. And being in the crowd, it carried me a bit faster than I would have liked, but the first mile wasn’t bad. Over the next couple, it finally started to space out a bit and I was able to catch my breath. To make matters worse, at this point I was severely overheating! And I didn’t have any fluids with me, since the stations on the course were spaced where I thought was comfortable.

At around 3.5 miles, Brad and Ryan were waiting and cheering me on. It definitely made me feel better. (Especially as I was yelling out “Mile 22” as everyone around looked at me like I was delirious. Heck, maybe I was, but who cared. I carried on until the water stop at 4.6 miles, where they were waiting around again. This time, I unloaded what I needed from my pockets and handed off my jacket and extra shirt. (Sorry Ryan K, I wasn’t no longer wearing the team shirt.) Ahhhh…much better, and off again. The interesting thing at this stop was the teenage girl who showed up wondering if anyone had seen her mom.
Rahn around mile 8 of the half marathon

Well, a couple miles later, definitely having cooled off and feeling better, there was a lady hanging out cheering people on with a camera. On a whim, I asked if she was looking for her daughter. Turns out she was, and wondering where she was since she missed her planned turn-off to find her. She was happy to know she was only a few minutes behind me. (Well, I assumed. I never saw her again to verify they found each other.

After the next water stop, and Team Photo there to capture my smiling face, the next thing of interest was passing a lady who asked if I had an asthma inhaler. (Uh, no, and would you really want to share one?) She wasn’t dying, but ran out of juice in hers so was looking for a backup. We hung out for a few miles before I left her behind for the last time. She asked me to find her friend at the finish and let her know she was coming along slowly.

The next mile or two was casual, then I hit the gas line hill. Ugh! That’s a cruel joke! Having avoided it every time we’ve ran here before, I didn’t know what to expect. Well, needless to say, it wasn’t so pleasant. Long and drawn out, I had a slow walk up and felt bad for asthma lady who had no idea that it was coming. The next mile or so until the next water stop were pretty much a blur. I know I had some coherent thoughts at that point, but I can’t remember what they were.

At the 10 mile stop, I had the lady check in to see if the medics could bring asthma medicine out. They weren’t sure, and decided to wait until the lady who needed it made it that far to check with her. That’s a good plan, I suppose, so I loaded up with a bunch of GU packs for the road, and took off. I hit 10 miles at just barely over 2 hours, and actually thought it was possible I’d set a PR for the ½ at this point.

Then I went. And went. Then I went some more. Eventually I saw a mile 11 marker. Wow, it was a half hour since mile 10! What the heck? Their mileage markers must be way off somewhere. My device told me I was at mile 12, so figured that was a bit more accurate. Well, I kept on truck’n.

Eventually, I crossed a road and knew the finish was within a ½ mile. I thought about pushing hard at this point. Really, I did. But the legs didn’t listen and I kept on poking along. Even when I went down the big hill and everyone was there cheering, I don’t think I picked up my speed more than 30 seconds/minute. (In case you didn’t figure it out yet, I was definitely feeling the burn at this point.)

Woo Whoo! I crossed the finished line and gave the guy my info. I never even looked at the clock to see what my time was. The gang was there, and we planned on meeting in an hour or so for lunch. I found the friend and told her her friend was coming. All is good. I just completed over 30 miles in 25 hours. Woo Whoo!

Next up, ING Marathon at the end of March.

P.S. Lunch was great. Had a Calzone and spent quality time with my wife and friends. My nap on the sofa was also good, even if not long enough. And after a bit of stretching, I can now get up off me chair without a problem. My beer is also good, even if it’s not a good microbrew from Seattle.

I should get a copy of the pictures in a week, next time I see Ryan.
I am disappointed in the race t-shirt. Besides the colors making it looks like a christmas shirt, it doesn’t have the name of the race on it. It says “Xterra Trail Run, Georgia Series”, which is fine because this is part of that series. However, I want it to brag that I ran a half marathon.

Someone else’s GPS trailmap

Carl Mesta is offering free downloads of his race photos. Thanks Carl, it’s a lot of work. This is the only shot I found than has a decent shot of me in it. (Hint-I’m at the far right in my usual yellow vest)

Bruce Tolbert Photography has put his photos up.
I spent some time talking to Bruce last year when we were both taking pictures. Nice guy, had a good time. His pictures are good (at least the ones of me 🙂 )


Race Week Buildup

February 28, 2008

It never fails. Every time a big event comes up, one starts to notice every little thing that will impact it. So far, my week has been something like so:

Sunday:

  • Get in last long run. That felt great, so I’ll even stretch afterwards to make sure the muscles don’t start aching later. Aaaaah…
  • Plan meals for week: Honey, what are we having for dinner? I don’t care-I was thinking pasta on Thursday, maybe Wednesday too.
  • Do some more stretching in the evening. Hey, is that a twinge I feel in my ankle?

Monday:

  • Wake up. Damn I ankle hurts, I can barely walk. Hobble to bathroom and get ready for work. Might as well take workout clothes in case it feels better.
  • Limp around work all morning. Dang, it still hurts, and no one is feeling sympathy for me and bringing me coffee. Guess I’ll skip the working, but I can get in some quality Hostess Cupcake therapy in after lunch.
  • Stretch and ice in the evening. Well, usually when this happens it’s fine the next day.

Tuesday

  • Wake up. Okay, I can walk to the bathroom without much difficulty, so I guess I’m healed.
  • Hmmm…skip lunchtime workout again, just to be safe. Indulge in more Hostess Cupcake therapy, that must have helped. Plus, it’s cold out. When did that happen?
  • Go to the Tuesday bowling league and whine about ankle. Tell everyone how I’m going to suck tonight, then throw one of my best games ever. Get cocky, throw next to worst game ever and whine about ankle some more. Get head out of ass and throw a decent third game.

Wednesday

  • Wake up. Almost no pain in ankle..cool. Head to work. Shit! There’s snow flurries-that’s going to screw my run. Calm down, listen to radio…okay, should be 60 on Friday and Saturday. We’re okay.
  • Go for easy run on treadmill at lunch. Hmmm…that wasn’t bad. Crank up speed a little…okay, I’m good to go. Go change. Eye scale. Nah…that would just depress me. What the hell was I thinking with those cupcakes?
  • Come up with plan for run. If I can maintain 5 mph, it will only take 6 hours. That’s easily under the 29 hour limit. Yeah…that’s the ticket…Only 6 measly hours
  • Uh oh…is that a crink in my back? Maybe I need to make to the chiropractor…

Thursday

  • Wake up. Ankle okay. Back okay. Whew!
  • Dang. 22 degress out…it better warm up. Hmmm…my nose is a bit stuffy. Maybe I’m getting a cold. Well, I should be able to run through that…
  • Okay, lunchtime workout was good. Maybe I should revise my plan. I can go faster! Set a PR! Wooo hah! (uh, no. that’s probably a bad idea–lets see how it goes.)

Last big push before the big weekend

February 24, 2008

Next weekend if going to be busy with the 29 cubed race and the Thrill in the Hills 1/2 marathon.
Naturally, I figured I should get some last long miles in and stuff like that.

Saturday afternoon, I shot up to Runners Fit in Braselton to pick up some supplies and chat about the race from that morning (that I couldn’t make it too). Although Ryan claimed he ran like a girl and it was he slowest time since 7th grade, he still came in 2nd in his group. Jenny pulled out 3rd in her group. A shoutout goes to Mark B for a personal best, breaking the 30 minute mark for the 5k! Way to go!

After trying just about every racing flat they had, I got some Adidas Zero LT2. I would have preferred some Brooks (my usual favorite shoe), but the toe box on them were a little small. (Unfortunately, they were out of the next size up, which probably would have been fine.) There was some bright green Asics that were just my style, but at almost $20 more than the Adidas, my wallet won. I also got some powerglide and a couple Powerbar gels to try. They hooked me up with a Runners Fit T-shirt to wear on Saturday.
(Our whole group will be wearing these to show our support of our favorite store. Last year they sponsored this race, but this year got tossed aside to a larger store from downtown Atlanta. Given that Ryan will be one of the top finishers and I anticipate being one of the last, we’ll have lots of visibility.)

I then did a casual 5 miles at Little Mulberry park. It was cold and windy, so I was happy to end it early and get home to my wife.

Today (Sunday), we didn’t have a group run planned and I wanted to get more than 10 miles in, so I headed off to do the trails at Little Mulberry (again). I took off from the Hog Mountain entrance and had a tough first mile because the cold and wind. After veering off to hit the horse trail, I quickly warmed up by heading uphill. Across the ridge, then up “The Hill”, and I was definitely warm! At the top, I hung a left on the East Meadow trail (instead of the usual right). From here I hit the little 1/2 mile loop trail around the small pond.

After pausing to play with a dog and a quick rest stop, I tried my first Powerbar gel. It wasn’t too bad and went down smooth. From there, I headed up to the Ravine trail, but I didn’t want to kill myself, so I just did a small section of it to a connector back to the West Meadow loop. This still gave me a good section of hills, but felt pretty good. Heading around, I ran into Helen and her dog (from our group), and walked with her a ways. She’s a fast walker, so I had to start running to keep up and then leave her. I came back around and did the reverse of what I did around the top to get me to the remainder of the dirt loop.

Heading back down the dirt trail felt pretty good and I started picking up a little speed. I crossed the carriage trail and started heading back up, with was a bit hard. However, once I got back to the top and started heading down, I was feeling good. after a little bit of flat and a bite of my Powerbar, I hit the next downhill section and had an absolute blast! To was a harrowing thrill ride down the side of the mountain…I would having been hooting and hollering the whole way down if I weren’t so concerned about actually breathing (and not falling flat on my face)! Oh, it was great! I’m sooo glad last week I decided to start stretching myself on downhills.

A casual 1.2 miles back to the car, some stretching, and I guess I’ll take it easy until next Friday. Total distance was around 11.5 miles per my Nike+. A little less than I wanted, but given the hills, I feel like I got a good run into it.


In praise of the sports photographer

January 31, 2008

Having recently decided to re-post the pictures from last years Thrill in the Hills race, I recalled some things that I had forgot:
Wow, I took a lot of pictures. Over 1000 of them, actually.

  • It takes a long time to go through them all. A real long time.
  • It takes almost as long to upload them to a server. We’re talking hours.
  • There were some good shots in the set.

As I started uploading them, I decided to clean house a bit, so the set now contains only about 650 shots. Maybe that will make it easier to find your picture in them. I would have cleaned out a couple hundred more, but I had already uploaded half of them and didn’t feel like going through it again. For most the finish line pictures, I took 2-3 shots are people came across. The cleaning consisted of getting rid of the worst of the shots. You’ll noticed the cleaner sets in Finish Line III and Finish Line IV and Starting Line.

This is a shot I didn’t catch in my favorites last year, but saw it this time around and thought it was great.
Guy leaping across the finish line

And here’s one of my favorites of the whole race.
Guy running behind a tree

(Unfortunately, I don’t know who either of these guys are. If this is you, let me know.)
All the pictures are here. Hope you enjoy.


Weekend Roundup and pictures

January 28, 2008

Saturday, the Runners Fit group heading back out to the Elachee Nature Center for our run before going to Sweet Escapes for their Runners Special breakfast.
Overall, the run was good…we started with a really big (in my opinion) hill that took my breath away along the West Lake Trail. I didn’t really get it back for about 2 miles, right before getting to the suspension bridge. I wanted to do the back half this time, but wasn’t sure what direction the rest of the group took, so I actually didn’t cross over, and headed up the Dunlap trail (clockwise). When it split off back to just the West Lake, I headed up that way. Here, I ran into Gordon, who split off from the main group to meet up with them later. He had never been here before, but wasn’t too lost.

From there, I hit the Mathis Trail connector and took this to the East Lake trail, which took me back to the parking lot. Along here, I ran into M**** (protecting the innocent and all), who was very lost and very unhappy about it! After getting him set in the right direction, I followed and we finished up.

Between M**** being lost and Gordon being on his own for a while, I was thinking next time we need to make sure we have contingency plans when people get separated. (Being an expert map reader, I never get lost…just mis-orientated on occasion. 🙂 Something for us to think about. I usually carry my phone, and have thought about carrying a whistle to signal for assistance.

Sunday, some of us met at Ft. Yargo to run the trails there. Everyone did good by not getting lost…I had a bad first 4 miles, then loosened up…but by then my pace was horrible, and I finished the 10 miles in 2:15. I thought I was ahead of the main group because I didn’t see footprints in the mud. (There was some muddy, slipper sections, which is always fun.) However, they were all ahead of me, and I get the feeling that they were waiting awhile. Sorry guys.

While there, some of us were talking about signing up for the Disney Marathon next year. Maybe even doing the Goofy Challenge. So, time to start thinking about the next set of races to do…

Because the Thrill in the Hills Half Marathon is coming up, I’ve started posting my pictures of the race from last year. (Last year, I photographed the race and had a blast. This year, I haven’t decided.)
Usual rules apply: Free free to take for your own use. If you want a higher resolution version of a picture, contact me.
The photos are here.