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.


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.


2008 ING Georgia Marathon – Expo

March 29, 2008

This morning I headed down to the expo for the 2008 ING Georgia marathon at the Georgia Dome. (The location was changed last week after a tornado hit the original venue.) Getting there by train is no problem, and probably a lot easier than driving.I headed down relatively early, since there were some speakers at 11:00 AM and 12:00 PM I wanted to see.
The expo in the Georgia Dome
Packet pickup was near empty when I got there, which made it pretty quick. One interesting they did was have shirt pickup on the opposite side of the expo. I don’t know if this was a move by the marketing department or just an arrangement of coincidence due to the last minute changes. I almost ended up with the wrong shirt since I didn’t see the section for the full until the guy was handing me a shirt for the half. We got it all straightened out. The logo is pretty cool…it’s a bunch of runners legs, but the outline is building in the Atlanta skyline.
Rahn and Kathrine Switzer

After wandering around a bit, I went to the first speaker I was interested in, Kathrine Switzer. She was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon and broke the sport open for woman. Yay for girl-power! She was a real good speaker and also told about how she started organizing races and eventually partnered with Avon and started the first of their marathons. (31 years ago tomorrow, in Atlanta). She was also the major influence in getting the womens marathon put into the Olympics. (First run in Los Angeles in 1984, the first Olympic games that I really remember. I even went to an event.)

I bought a copy of her book, and she was kind enough to autograph it and pose for a picture.

The second person I wanted to see was Helen Klein, who is 85 this year. She started running when she was 55 and has completed over a 100 marathons and even more ultras. I didn’t know this going in, but she also participated in an ECO challenge, which is truly amazing for anyone. The majority of her presentation was actually a clip of Dateline where they were talking about her doing it. I think she was 72 at the time. I thought her talk was good…she was just the cutest little ol’ lady (who will blow my running away). Her husband was there also there, and from hearing her talk, her running is all his fault. (He signed them up for her first 10Helen Klein miler.) Her slogan is “I’d rather wear out than rust,” and she’s doing just that.

I also listened to a lecture on sports nutrition. There was some good information there, much of which I knew already, and some new stuff. Because a friend had recommended I do a sweat/hydration profile a few weeks ago, I was interested in how this stuff compared to that.

After the speeches, I hit a number of the booths. Bought some gloves so I’m ready next winter, and a small fanny pack that I think will work out well. It has an elastic band, so I won’t need to cinch it quite as tight to get it to stay in place, which is a problem I’ve had with other ones in the past. Testing it at home, it holds 5 gels and my license and keys, so it’s about the right size.

Time to go relax after our pasta dinner, for tomorrow we run.


Nice calves…

March 16, 2008

A funny thing happened in the gym the other day. I just got back from my lunch run, and I was stretching. A gal with whom I work with was down there working out as she often is. (We see each other most days down there.)

Well, she looks at me and says “Wow, nice calves.” Of course, I jump right up and start flexing my legs; “Yeah, and look at the quads of steel! They’re solid!” and stuff like that. So of course she then looks up a bit, points at my stomach and says “but it looks like you’ve been drinking a few too many beers on the weekend.”  Ouch!  Guess I was put in my place.

During today’s run, my “great” legs hurt for the first couple miles. (To be honest, it was uphill the whole way, so not surprising that I was feeling it.) Once I got past that, everything went well. The hills were good, the flats were good. The rest break and water was real good.  My goal was to do around 18 miles…I only ended up doing 13, but I was fine with that.

The reason I was fine was because I completed 13 miles and it felt good. I still had energy at the end and was able to spend the rest of the day running errands and doing things with no problems.

So you know what? Yeah,  I have a bit of a stomach. Heck, with a name like “bigRahn”, you expect to not be small. But heck, I can head out any time and easy run a half marathon!  Gotta love that…and those great calves that let me do it.


Almost uncontrolled ascent

March 6, 2008

The weather was perfect for my first run outside since last weekend

Right after work today, I headed out to Little Mulberry to run the Ravine Loop. As you can probably guess from the name, there are some hills on the trail. It’s been a while since I’ve done the whole loop, and I forgot how steep it was.

The first half was a barely controlled descent. I’m amazed I didn’t end up tumbling head over heels on the way down. Wooooo Hoooo! That was fun. Boy, it was great to get off the treadmill I’ve been on a couple times this week.

Coming back up, I rapidly got exhausted. My knee started hurting. My legs were burning. I could barely breathe. Matter of fact, I could barely had control of my arms or legs I was so tired. Whew, it was a barely controlled ascent.

Afterwards, I had to do an easy 1/2 mile flat loop on the pavement just so I could regain some sense of myself.

It was marvelous.


29 Cubed – the first half

February 29, 2008

The day started well enough. I slept in a bit, then hit Starbucks and ran an errand. The goal was to start at noon, do eight miles, then meet Roman at 5 to do another 8.
After checking my email and the status of everyone else running the challenge, I was eager to get started. The folks across the Atlantic were up into the 20 mile range already, so after running my errands, I decided to start a bit earlier, about 10:30. My first miles were going to be at Little Mulberry, here it’s a pretty flat 2.2 mile loop.  I strapped on my new racing flats, and away I went.

Although I had every intention of starting slow, it just didn’t work that way. My first mile was just over 10 minutes (2 minutes faster than plan), as was my second mile. As I headed into the third, I slowed slightly and took it easy. It was a very strange experience hitting three miles and saying to myself “only a marathon to go.”  A very cool feeling.

During that 3rd mile, I came upon a couple old ladies strutting around and having a good time. I said hi as I came around, then each time we saw each other (another 3 times), we got to joke around how they were beating me. I stopped at mile 4.4 for refuel. I’ve become a believer in these Powerbar gels…I felt real good starting up again.

Anyway, I finished 8.8 miles with no problems, then headed home for lunch and stretching. Had a good time catching up with everyone else online. The virtual camaraderie for this race has been great. Everyone has been very supportive of each other.

Come 3:00 PM, I headed out (early again) to head to the meet up. Being early, I indulged myself and bought a case of the Powerbar gels. Figured I might as well stock up, and it’s cheaper to buy them by the case. Then I went to my car to change shirt and realized that I forgot it at home. Well, I sure as hell wasn’t going to run in a cotton shirt, and didn’t feel like spending 30 bucks on a new one, so I just put on my vest sans shirt and went redneck style. (Being a vest, it has that whole wife-beater look to it.) Luckily, it was warm out, and actually quite comfortable.

I took off to start warming up while I waited for Roman. Hit a 1.33 miles as I saw him pulling up, so finished up. After a little bit of socialization and a quick picture, we took off. We hung together for the first mile at a 10 mpm pace, then separated so he could finish in a reasonable time. (He runs quite a bit faster than me.) I turned around at the 2.5 mile (from the store) to head back, figuring he’d catch up. At this point, it was going on mile 14 or so from me, and I started to feel it. After a nice walk for a few minutes, I got my wind back and casually made it back to the store.

Roman made it back, then we headed out again. I just did a mile with him, again at a faster pace than I’d do, then headed back. Total miles for the day, 17 and some change.

Just a casual 1/2 merry in the morning, and I’ve done it.

As a side note, here’s some of what’s come of this race:
Sare, in the United Kingdom, has raised over 400 pounds($800+ dollars) for a <a href=”http://www.justgiving.com/sarah29&#8243; title=””>charity she supports</a>.
Both RicC and Sare both braved torrential downpours winds to complete their mileage. They have also both been interviewed by their local press and are now famous.
Ande, in Australia, tragically burned out his treadmill and had to run outside. I think he’ll be okay.
Everone else has been doing great, and I look forward to hearing their stories.


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.)