Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Double Trouble Trail Run

This is a trail run in French Creek State Park. Runners have the option of running a 15K or doing a second loop for 30K. The trail is of moderate difficulty, mostly single track, with lots of rock. Some of the trail seems to be a stream bed and I remember doing this run after a heavy rain when those beds were running water. Sunday everything was dry but the heat index was 100. I was concerned but I must have managed my fluids well because I ran without cramping and any real discomfort. (Although I got so wet that some of my succeed tablets actually dissolved!)

This is a Ron Horn race, so beginning with the application through pre-race instructions and jokes posted along the trail you have plenty of politically incorrect humor. But Ron does put on a well organized race with plenty of dedicated volunteers. Sample: traditionally Ron starts the race by leading a chorus of insults 15K runners and 30K runners. Among the 15K insults: hope your parents had at some intelligent children.

The race has a difficult start because the trail narrows almost immediately. About a third of a mile into the race you must cross a narrow bridge and then climb a steep incline. This causes a choke point and a very slow first mile. After that it becomes easier to find your pace but passing can still be a problem.

Wooden Bridge
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.

As with many trail runs, we walked the steeper uphills. I was annoyed that I seemed to do these so slowly. It was especially embarrassing to be passed by some tiny woman. I mean shouldn’t my stride length alone keep me going.

Usually I was able to run hard on the downhills. Footing was tricky but you could run. I stumbled but never fell although I did observe a couple of tumbles. Once my foot slammed hard into a hole – I have a bruise on my foot but no serious damage.

Something I had never encountered on a trail run was mountain bikers. I was a bit annoyed that we had to squeeze over to make room on the already narrow path.

I wish I had a map of the course so I had a better idea of how it is laid out. There is at least one great loop because you pass a water stop at 4.5 and then again at 7.5. You circle a lake coming full around. The last mile is downhill or flat. Ironically, I almost made a wrong turn in that last mile. You briefly come out into a parking area and there was no one in front of me. I wasn’t sure where the course went. Fortunately a runner behind me spied the red tape that marked where we reentered the woods. From there it was an easy run on cinder until you come out on a path that has the lake on one side and a pool on the other. Several bathers had walked over to the pool fence and were cheering the runners.

Hopewell Lake
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
Hopewell Lake as seen from the pool area. The runners finish on the path by the boats.

Results Board
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.

Not sure the park approves but several runners cooled down by entering the lake. Felt great and was a quick way to lower the core body temperature. Tickets were provided that permitted the runners to use the pool showers – water was freezing but it was nice to get all the grime off before the ride home.

When I walked from the Lake back to the finish area I checked the results board and realized the first 30K runner would be coming in a few minutes. I waited around and he came sailing up the last incline looking great. I clapped for him and a few others nearby did too but mostly it went unnoticed. Good thing achievement is its own reward.

There were many impressive runners competing in that heat and humidity but I was especially impressed with Heide Moebius. She was one of those woman who sprang up the hills ahead of me. Although I could pass her on the downhills she would pass me on the next uphill. Great race Heide.

Age Group Winner
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
Heide Moebius

Friday, June 24, 2005

This is a very cool FLICKR hack


Hneon r (wbrc)D

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Run Run Run

I ran two Friday night races in June. The Cinqo De Monko (the Fifth Running of the Monk) was a last minute decision. We will be using a new timer for the Haverford Township Race. When I spoke to him last week he mentioned this neighborhood 5K he was timing. He touted it as a great race and at the last minute I decided to give it a try even though I had done my usual Friday morning trail run. It was a warm, muggy night and the course was very hilly with an interesting figure eight loop. Nice event with beer and hamburgers as an after race treat.

This last Friday I did a much bigger race. The Media Five Miler. Beautiful night - the best weather they have had in years. 1206 registered and 1108 finished. I wanted to try my newest toy, a garmin forerunner, that my wife had gotten me. I think there must be some delay in how it calculates pace because it showed me faster on the uphills and than the downhills. My pacing seemed to be all over the place. I had a disaster (or rather I caused a disaster) early on in the first mile. I knocked another runner down or least I was the runner closest to her when she went down. It was so crowded at that point she may have been tripped from behind. I was very upset and was sure she would be furious with me. But she got up, insisted she was ok, and insisted I go on. After the race I apologized again but she was dismissive and said at least she had an excuse for being so slow. It was nice she was so forgiving – I think I would have been angry and much less charitable.

Saturday I got to be at the shore and did a run along the beach. The forerunner confirmed my estimate of the distance from Ventnor to the end of the island. I was amazed at how inconsistent my pacing was. I had attributed my wildly varying pace Friday to the hilly course. But here on the beach I expected to see a steadier pace yet I found it very hard to settle into a set pace. I was surprised of how a little increase in effort affected the pace but also how difficult it was to sustain that effort. It brought home that focus is a key to pacing and if I let my mind wonder it will be very raggedy.

Next Sunday a 15K trail run (it is the Double Trouble – you have the option of doing a second loop and making it a 30K but looks to be hot and humid and I will be quite satisfied with 15).

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Ventnor 10K (Wayland Memorial Run)

Second year running this small 5k/10k that opens the summer season. Race is held on Absecon Island which besides Atlantic City holds Ventnor, Margate, and Longport. Race is perfect venue for a runner wanting a PR, flat and straight. Runners run straight south on Atlantic Avenue through Ventnor, Margate and Longport. The turn around is a small traffic island on a cul-de-sac near the end of the island. This year the weather was very pleasant with temps in the 70's, low humidity and lots of sunshine.

Since both races begin together the trick is not to get sucked out too fast with the 5K runners. Fortunately, Joe Gallagher with whom I regularly run on Tuesdays was also doing the race. Joe has a very good sense of pace. Last year I ran with a sore hamstring and couldn't keep up with Joe but this year I was able to comfortably maintain pace with him. I had biked the course Saturday and knew to be patience with the distances. A young fellow, Dan, kept pace with us. A few blocks from the turn around he began asking about where it was but I had kind of lost track myself - it felt like we should be there but there was still a ways to go. I joked to Dan that together Joe and I were a hundred years older then him - hang in there. Turned out he was 13 and the youngest runner in the race and my joke was truer than I thought (and maybe a little depressing!!). Finally I spied the flashing yellow light that marks the narrowing of Atlantic Avenue where it meets the bay. (You can see how narrow the island becomes as inlet and ocean meet. Interesting tidbit about Longport - the first street is 11th avenue - ten blocks having disappeared in a long ago hurricane. The risk of living on a barrier island.) At the turn around a friend who had been fishing in the area was there to cheer us on. I felt strong enough to begin pulling away from Joe and passing a few other runners.

I maintained a strong, steady pace back. Couldn't quite increase speed but I don't think I slowed too much. There were no mile markers except for mile one and then for the last mile. The finish is a turn east and right up to the boardwalk ramp. I finished hard and just broke under 50 minutes (about 49:44) - little slower then I expected since I thought I had done better than an 8 minute pace. It is hard for me without mile markers to adjust my pace, but overall I was pretty satisfied with my effort.

Next up will be the Media Five Miler. Shorter distance but tough because of the hills (and the possibility of really hot weather).