Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wet and Wild Fun

One of my fraternity brothers had a 40th birthday last week so he threw a nice big birthday bash in his hometown of Wilmington. The birthday bash weekend turned into our Fall Boys Weekend where we usually get about 10 of the old gang together, then it ended up only being about 5 of us with some spouses. One of the guys just moved back to the states after 7 years living in Romania, and one couple flew in from DC, so that was really special. I didn't want to miss it, but thanks to our current cost of health insurance we had a very difficult time making this trip affordable.

Also, thankfully, Kelley's mom wanted to take the kids to the beach for a few days while they are out of school! We killed both birds with one stone and got a condo out on Carolina Beach for the weekend. It was very cool, tons of fun, the best of both worlds, and she helped us pay for it. I am so grateful.

Friday night I got down there after work without much trouble, it's about a 2 hour drive. I got there late enough, and I'm old enough that heading back into downtown to meet the guys at a bar just wasn't going to happen. I'm old and tired, after working a full day then driving and settling into hearing the ocean roar after dark, there is no need to leave that. But the next morning I woke up to this:

Hotel pool and the beach!

I can think of worse ways to spend a saturday morning
It was a bright and beautiful day to be on the NC coast! Quite a warm day too. The only plans we had started at 12:30 pm, Jon the birthday boy scheduled a round of Laser Tag. Turns out, laser tag is awesome! This was a military tactical style place, and they had different objectives setup for us to play. Some of the other players were former military, so they were used to that kind of thing. Jon is also former military, he did a tour in Iraq.

Ella wanted to play too!

Me with Jon the birthday boy. A couple of 40 year olds, we go back about 20 years now.

Pat suited up to play too

The family that shoots together, destroys badass shit together.

My badass bitches
I was shocked how much fun laser tag was. It's not just a kids game anymore, they really put us through some military stuff. Ella's favorite part was shooting me in the face. I think the guys running it were former military as well, there is a big Marine base near Wilmington. Here's the whole group:

After that, we hit a local brewery for some cold relief and tacos, then back to the condo to get those kids in the ocean! So much fun playing around in the heat of the day.

Evil Genius was loving it


Fun in the surf with my girl!
The big birthday party was at a different local brewery downtown, Wilmington loves their craft breweries. Kelley and I grabbed some seafood out at Carolina Beach before heading downtown, like a date night. Then we got there and found the party and I had several beers (she drove). It was great hanging out with my boys again, it always is fun.

Me, Pat, Leon (from Romania), Shawn (yellow), and his wife Bridget
Sunday we just rehydrated and got back to Raleigh. This weekend got wet and wild and was tons of fun. There was beer, I got to hang with my kids and my fraternity brothers, and they even got to hang out with Ella some on the battlefield!

Monday, September 19, 2016

One Tough Mile

Shouldn't a short race have a short race report? On 9/11/16 I ran the Oak City Mile, a 1 mile running race in downtown Raleigh NC. Oak City Mile replaced the Magnificent Mile when they decided to stop doing it for some reason a few years ago. It's literally a reverse of the course, same start/finish line, but they run away from the Capital building instead of towards it.

My history with the mile goes back a long way. Freshman year of high school I was a miler on the track team, breaking the 6 minute mark a few times but not every time. We had several 4 minute milers on the team, so I was just fast enough for last place in almost every track meet. In 2012 I ran the Magnificent Mile in 6:21, establishing my adult PR. My only approach for this race was to go hard, hang on for dear life, and see how close I could come to that PR. The difference in running hard at age 41 vs age 37 means there was no way I was going to beat my previous times. There should be an Over40 PR category.

Registration area

I'm ready to start. But 20 minutes before the race, nobody else is there?

The race was smaller than I expected. At the Mag Mile there was at least 200 people running. This felt like about 50 men at the start (actual: 97 finishers). Before the start I got in a nice warmup, then ran into some friends from my swim team. Some were running, some were only spectating.

Kelley dropped me off about a mile from the starting line, and she asked if I knew of anyone else running the race. I said no, but I have yet to show up at one of these things without running into someone I knew from somewhere. Sure enough, I found QT2 Systems triathlon coach Rodney Scott first, so I knew the rest of us were going to lose. He blew out a 4:58 and took 1st place masters. Eventually I ran into about 6 other RAM teammates as well. I wasn't worried about not finding people I knew.

I got to talking to a couple of other guys at the starting line, one of whom had just returned from Australia a couple of days before. He was also hoping to be in the low 6 minute range so I felt like I was lined up in a pretty good spot.

The sprint at the start is tactical in the mile, you want to see how the field is going to spread out. I knew there were going to be lots of 4:xx finish times and I wasn't going to be one of them, but I wanted to keep those guys in my sights for as long as possible. We headed west down Hillsborough street to a traffic roundabout. I had a great sprint and was leading the pack that was just behind the pack of actual fast people. Before I knew it, there was a clock at the roundabout! It read 3:02 which was way faster than I was expecting!

It did take a good 10 or 15 seconds to get around the road furniture there. The course has a longish uphill on the first half, and that meant the back half had a longish downhill. I was kind of counting on that for a negative split. There is also a steep uphill immediately after the roundabout that would ultimately hinder that negative split.

Mentally something happens when the race (in any distance, running or swimming for me) is between about 55% to 70% complete. My mind goes into autopilot and everything settles into a specific form. In a 5k this is why the 2nd mile is always the slowest. This time it happened on the downhill part, which shouldn't have cost me any time.

After the downhill you come around a curve and the finish line comes into sight. Then you keep pushing, and eventually you can read the numbers - I saw 6:15 and thought I had a chance to get my PR. Eventually "running form" turns into "holy crap get there sprint" just to get you to the finish as fast as possible.

I hit the finish line in 6:28, not too bad for a 41 year old! I'll take that result any day. Finished 4th of 8 in my age group, missed an award by 2 seconds. 52/97 overall.

The women's race was next, my friend Blakely finished in 5:46 for a nice PR. She also had a 15 mile run earlier in the day. Another friend Alan also finished with a 5:17. Clearly I need to get slower friends. They are both 28 years old. I don't feel bad at all about being slower than 28 year olds. And for the record, I make them all look slow in the pool.

Overall this was a really fun race for a sunday afternoon. The finish line and awards were at the State of Beer near downtown Raleigh, so we all stuck around for a few hours drinking beer. I forgot how much it hurts to run a mile fast like that, and I also hope I get the chance to do it again next year.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Goodbye Hell

August is OVER! I'm preaching the good word here, we don't have to worry about August again for another 334 days. This August was hot, humid, and overall terrible. September 2nd is only supposed to be 75* thanks to a hurricane that is blowing off of the coastline. That is all kinds of right.

Swim: 45,500y, 14 swims
Bike: zilch, as it should be
Run: 120.1 miles, 15 runs
Strength: 7 times
Yoga: 8 times

Wow, those are the kind of swim numbers I haven't seen since I was training for the 12 miler last year. And once again I am absolutely loving the water. Now that I have a job that lets me comfortably make the noon swim team practices, that makes all the difference in the world. I really love this job. And in the water I set a new PR of 1:08 for the 100 yard sprint! The volume is paying off. Loving it.

The entire 120 miles of running was done on the treadmill. Marathon training is going great. I'm able to go fast and long. I had a treadmill time trial half marathon where I set a PR of 1:42:14. Other than that, I've just been following the plan and getting ready for marathon season.

Speaking of that, one of the most depressing parts about August is that I had absolutely nothing to look forward to. No races, no trail running, no time outdoors. Nothing but crushing depression, cynicism about our political corruption, the crushing cost of health insurance that I don't use and doesn't cover anything anyway, and the continued utter failure to lift my head enough to hang out with my friends or take my children anywhere. Evil Genius didn't want to go with her Indian Princess tribe to Camp Rockmont so no whitewater rafting with her tribe this month. Ella's tribe had a beach trip to Surf City, but not many other dads could make it and it was just too hot for me. So depressing.

Now that September is here I do actually have something to look forward to. High temperatures are going to be in the 70's again! That's actually comfortable, and not only at 3 am. And I have events! Here's what's coming up

Sept 10: RAM team summer party
Sept 11: Oak City Mile 1 mile race
Sept 23: Wilmington NC trip for college buddy's 40th birthday (maybe)
Oct 1: New River 50k trail race
Oct 8: last swim race of the season at Jordan Lake 1.2 miles
Oct 29: Triple Lakes trail marathon
Nov 6: City of Oaks marathon

So that is a lot to look forward to.

12 in 8 update
Well I did get registered for one more Fall marathon, the Triple Lakes Trail race. It's in Greensboro, so no hotel room and it was only a $50 registration. Looks like that will be the last one to add for the fall. The MD marathon on Nov 26 is likely not going to happen for me. Trying not to schedule anything for December thanks to the holidays, so it's going to be a busy spring if I'm going to pull this off.

Triple lakes, though. Come run some trails with me.

Topless Year
I really didn't think it was going to happen this month.
Inside the office parking garage on 8/5. It's a 6 minute commute, I was drenched in sweat by the time I got home.

I put the top down driving home from church on 8/17. Night time was the best time to avoid the heat.

Leaving the gym 8/18 was actually pleasant. The humidity broke for a day, but it was still hot.

It was so pleasant without that humidity, Ella and I drove around downtown for a bit.
Onward and upward! College football starts tonight, we've got the labor day weekend coming up, and fall is in the air. It's about time!