4 of 52: NCR Trail Half Marathon

Another week.  Another run.

00100dportrait_00100_burst20181125102707707_cover2And I gotta say – the more I do this the luckier I feel.  I’m guessing there will come a week here and there where I will just write something like “that was two hours I’ll never get back” – but right now?  I’m feeling a ton of lucky to be able to do this.

But enough about me – this race was all about…  YOU.  What I mean is – I ran this race with some friends and we all had very different goals in mind.

Jimmy was running to qualify for a smaller lottery pool in NYC.  He did.  He ran a ridiculous 1:29:16 and took first place in his age group.  Congrats Jimmy!

Kelly was running to get some miles on her feet.  “Just a 13.1 mile training run through the woods on a brisk November morning. No wind, no rain, no pressure and just enjoyed the morning.”  I ran the first 10 miles with Kelly enjoying conversation and the woods.  Fortunately she had her camera with her!

Lara was running the Full!  So literally running a different race than the rest of us.  I haven’t hung out with Lara in forever so the ride up was a nice way to catch up!  Bonus:  If you carpool to this race you get parking perks.  The more people in your car, the closer you get to park.  Pretty sweet.

I was running to, you know, get my run in.  And also this was my first time running the NCR Trail half and I love a new experience.  Good or bad.  This was a good one.  Would run again.

The Run

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 10.44.20 AMIt was another well organized, small race with plenty of support and no shortage of beautiful views.  A little chilly to start but overcast perfection after mile 1.

This race starts with a pretty righteous downhill – maybe .7 miles or so (I think) and then turns onto a very nice, mostly flat (or false flat) packed trail.  I can’t tell you what it’s made of… some rock, some dirt?  I dunno.  It was gray (mostly) and soft and the trees were tall.

The race is small – but the field or runners was FAST.  my 2:05 would normally put me squarely in the middle of the pack but I was way way down in my AG.  Not a big deal because I had a glorious run.

After 10 miles with Kelly and our LSD (long slow distance) pace, I felt really really good so I decided to pick up the pace from there to the end.  Just about that time my friend and old ES6 (endless summer 6 hour run) relay teammate Dave appears on the trail and ran with me for about a mile.  Man he got fast since we last ran together.  I wound up running a bit faster then planned but I figured why not?  There were only two miles left so I kept the pace up and finished strong feeling really really good.

The tenderness in my foot from the 50k two weeks ago continues to diminish and was not even there the day after the race.  That Advil (only the first few days) and rolling my foot on a frozen water bottle is really doing the trick. I continue to roll my foot because I figure it’s like when you take antibiotics – you take all the medicine usually long after you’re feeling good.  Just to make sure that whatever the issue is, is gone.

Next Week:  A run about town.  On my own (or with a friend or 10)


3 of 52: Pip Moyer Rec Center with Michael

It should have been a recovery run.  I should have taken this easy after running a 50k last weekend.  I had been resting all week and taking care of a little soreness in my foot.  If I had just ran alone with my thoughts…

…I would have never known I could have done more.


Michael takes a selfie while he waits for me to finish.

You see – I don’t generally push myself.  Seriously – I creep towards goals.  It takes me a long slow time to achieve them.  I also have goals that can be “achieved” at a variety of levels.  Only last year, after five marathons, did I set an actual time goal for my 6th.  Prior to that my goal was always to “run a marathon”.  “Finishing a marathon” and “qualifying for Boston” are two entirely different things and as you may know I opted for something much easier than qualifying for Boston.

At any rate – I ran this 13.1 with Michael – who is not like me.  He likes to push – and it’s earned him national ranking at the 70.3 distance in triathlon in his age group (AG).  Fortunately, after the first 8 miles we switched from the indoor track, where I had been pushing to keep up with him, to the treadmills allowing me to follow my more natural level of effort. (aka – not too hard).

The Pip Moyer rec center in Annapolis is a nice facility.  If you live in the area and haven’t checked it out you should give it a shot.  Drop in rate is $10 for the day.  There is a 1/8 mile indoor track, cardio room and weights as well as three full sized basketball courts and probably a few things I missed.

The Run

13.1 Miles.  1:59:40.

We ran the first 8 miles on the 1/8th mile indoor track.  That’s 64 NASCAR (left turn only) laps.  I like the small laps.  Counting becomes an activity and it’s easier for me to regulate pace than on a larger outdoor track.  I won’t mention that there was a dude speed walking on the track.  Ok, I’ll mention that, but I WON’T mention that he passed us!  My mind drifted … “What aspects of body mechanics make that possible.. is running as good for you or is it bad for you… does it even matter?.  How does that guy walk so fast?  Could I do that?  Would I? Oh crap – was that six laps or seven?

Downside of all those left turns is that the outside of our left feet were feeling hot so we decided to bring it into the cardio room to the treadmills.


The indoor track at Pip Moyer.


Cardio room at Pip Moyer

5 miles to go.  I started out at the same pace we were clocking on the track.  That lasted almost a mile but my foot started reminding me that it was still tender from last week so I started to back off.  Firs the speed, then I started a cycle of .5 miles at speed followed by .25 miles faster and .25 miles faster yet followed finally by a minute or so of walking.  That got me to the finish – just under 2 hours.  I’ll take it.

Of course Michael finished quite a few minutes before me.  I wonder if I have it in me to push that hard.  I want to be faster – but I *am* faster.  Faster than I am when I’m on the couch.

My road to being faster will be a slow one.  One that involves strength and flexibility training  – which I have been slacking on these past 6 months – to go a long with more runs with friends like Michael.

Next Week:  NCR Trail Half Marathon

Screen Shot 2018-11-19 at 6.03.07 PM


2 of 52: Veterans Day (Rosaryville) 50k

Dan and I about 25 miles in.  Dan is having fun pronouncing “Pierogi” in various accents…

What an amazing day! I was originally going to run a local half marathon but when my buddy Dan (who I just ran Steamtown Marathon with in September) suggested we run this 50k I jumped on it.  This race was longer than I planned to run but the marathon had been such a good time and I was feeling good so – why not?!  I’d run this race 6 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it then so I was really looking forward to it even though my training has not been geared towards a 50k.

Q: How far is 50K?
A: 50K
Q: How far is that in miles?  Don’t make me Google it!
A: I know. I don’t understand why we weren’t raised metric.  It’s 31 miles.

Organization: Awesome – as all of the Annapolis Striders races are.  Regular clear communication that matches up with race day reality.  Reasonably priced.  Well supported with plenty of volunteers and good food on the trail and at the finish.

The Run:  It’s basically a 3 loop course around the perimeter trail at Rosaryville State Park in Maryland.  Very well marked with confidence ribbons appearing at almost exactly the moment when you start to say “did I miss a turn…?”  No – no you did not and here’s the trail marker to prove it.

The loop is just over 9 miles with two aid stations – one at the head of the trail, the other about 4.5 miles in.  Volunteers bring your bag from the race start to the first aid station for you.  I kept refills of my hydration and food here as well as a change of socks (which I did not use) and shoes (which I also did not use).

A little variety for each lap.

The second aid station had some pretty awesome food.  Chips, cookies, pretzels, pierogi (!), potatoes, fries, CHICKEN BROTH, and Coke.  There was probably more.

It had rained the night (and day) before so the trail was soft, muddy in some places but really not terrible.  I wore shoes that I don’t run in often – not recommended but I got lucky.  I got away clean with some minor “Plantar Fascia awareness” for a couple days after the race.  Some quality time with a frozen bottle of water under my foot and a day of Advil has me feeling ready to run again. (albeit with some caution) . Next weekend will be a nice easy recovery run.

Love this race.  Will definitely be back.

Next Week:  On my own (or with a friend) for 13.1 sloooowwww and eeeaaaaassy miles.

1 of 52: Five Miles With a Twist.

So for the first of these runs, I planned to tack on extra miles before a five mile race that was scheduled for today. I figured I’d be able to find some running fam willing to come along and keep me honest. I figured that, because I know quite a few folks who do this – run long on the weekend – every weekend. They don’t think much about it because they’ve been doing it for so long it just feels normal.

Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 7.46.40 PM

This idea came up as we were running extra miles, we were talking about how depending on “where you are” on your journey and who you’re talking to, you could just as easily be “that crazy person” as you could be that “reasonable person” – doing the same exact thing! It just depends on the perspective of the person you’re talking to. I happened to be talking to someone who is training for a 100 mile run. So he and is training partner were going to do 15 miles this morning and another 20 miles tonight. On a trail. In the dark.

Who’s crazy now? (See what I mean?)

The Run

First off – my original plan was to run 8.1 miles before the race, then the five mile race – but as it turned out the peeps who helped me out today planned to run a couple miles before hand – leaving a 6-ish mile run for after the race.

This is new for me. After a race I am usually – DONE. I don’t wanna cool down or do anything other than retrieve a sweaty bagel or banana (or both), catch my breath and then go have coffee with a friend. SO the idea of running those extra miles was not appealing. The upside? I get to stretch myself a little – to do something uncomfortable – but not too uncomfortable or dangerous. You can see it went fine and I made the distance (and some change – but who’s counting?)

  • Miles 1-2 – “Easy warm up. Lots of running to do today.”

1 of 52 - downs 5 miler

“Am I really running 6 more miles after this? I ran too fast…”

(The race)

  • Mile 3 – Me: “Oooh – I feel pretty fresh. I should really slow down.” Also me: Does not slow down.
  • Mile 4 -Me: “Seriously – you have to run 6 miles after. Slow down.” Also me: Does not slow down.
  • Mile 5 -Me: “Did anyone see mile marker three? Oh crap – I’m running a 50k next weekend.” Also me: Does not slow down.
  • Mile 6 -Me: “Yeaaaasssssss. Wait – slooowwwww doooowwwwwnnnnnn.” Also me: Does not slow down.
  • Mile 7 – Me: “Only a mile to go! Run faster!” Also me: Runs faster.

(Post Race)

  • Miles 8 – 13.1 – “Dear lord why the hell did I run the race fast?”

In summary – I survived. I had a nice brisk 5 mile tempo run in the middle of my half marathon distance run. I never would have done that if I was just running long and if I hadn’t had friends around running after.

Next week: Rosaryville 50k.

What is this place?

So.  Tomorrow I’m going to start this.  I’m going to run 52 half marathons in 52 weeks and this “place”, this blog, is just a place for me to document the journey.

Why don’t I just post my runs to my Facebook like everyone else?  I was going to but then I thought of two reasons why it might be cool to do it here:

  1. Maybe more than just the friends I know right now would be interested in this.  I mean it’s not the most amazing thing in the world, but for someone else who is like me, doing this represents something hard and requires them to become someone who they are not.  (In a good caterpillar to butterfly way, not a Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader sort of way.)  Perhaps this archive would be a useful source of inspiration or information for them.
  2. If I publish my thoughts here, they will persist free of the clutter that is my timeline.  Folks could come by long after I’m done and read at their leisure (or not).  Also I need less reasons to visit Facebook.  Not more.

So with that out of the way I can answer the “why” question.  It’s really simple (right now) – I’m doing this because I want to exercise my ability to consistently execute.  I believe that if I do this I will be able to more consistently execute anything that I set my mind to.

“I’m doing this because I want to exercise my ability to consistently execute.” — Me.  I said that.

If you know me, you know that I’ve done longer races, triathlons, long distance open water swims (once), but you also know that what I really crave is the ability to maintain my desire to execute (anything) without the FEAR of some massive goal so scary that I just *have* to train or it will be a disaster.  No – I want to be able to train consistently (or practice, or write, or do anything) simply because I choose to.

OK, yes, I’m technically always choosing to train regardless of the goal but catch me in the off season and you’ll see me on the couch binge watching Shameless with a bag of carrots or snap peas on my lap instead of on the road putting in the work.

AND yes, perhaps I’m kidding myself into thinking this isn’t just another big scary goal to keep me moving but you know what… even if it is I still think I’ll be better off and closer to being the person I want to be than if I don’t do it.  Enough existentialism – what’s the actual challenge?

I chose 13.1 miles because *for Me* (right now):

  • It is a distance that I can run every week without injuring myself.
  • It is a distance I can run without taking a massive amount of time away from my family and friends.

In order to reach my goal of becoming more consistent I need to set up some rules around this thing.  I can’t just go running a 13.1 whenever I feel like it (2 or three this week, none the next) and expect to come out of this more disciplined.  So – here come some rules (that I arbitrarily made up to suit myself):

  1.  Run one 13.1 mile run no earlier than Friday evening (5pm) and no later than Sunday evening ( 10pm) on any given weekend.
  2. I can combine any race with additional miles (before or after the race) to total 13.1 miles
  3. I can run a longer distance than 13.1 miles and count it as one 13.1.

That’s all I can think of for rules.  If you think of some more that might be fun, let me know!!

Without you reading I’m just a tree falling in the woods.  Ouch.  SO Thanks!