Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cool(er) Runnings

A Chronicle of Dan's Running and Other Stories Since Returning Home from Jamaica

Really Cool Runnings

Debbie and I got into the house at 1am Sunday, and darned if I was going to miss another Sunday morning run at Hinckley. Now I wasn't quite so silly as to try to make the 5:30 loop, but 7am seemed doable.

So a few hours and 75 degrees later, I was there at the Spillway looking for all my running companions. Nary a one showed up. What, was 9 degrees too cold for them? Hey, if I can go from Jamaica in the mid-eighties to Cleveland in the upper single digits in a couple hours, they should've been able to make it too.

But they didn't. So I did the big loop (only one of them, thank you) alone. It was actually a pretty peaceful, nice run. The cold didn't bother me at all.

Later That Week

It got a wee bit warmer. I ran at Hinckley a couple more times. Once I did two of the big loops including the first one with Mandy (whew, that was tough). The other was my Boxing Day Run. More on that one later.

In the mean time, I did a few other runs, including a 15-miler from home and ten with Dave on the parkway on Christmas Eve day.

Family and Friends

There is Life Outside of Running, and sometimes *I* even have some. Veronica, Barry and Malcolm came for almost a week, and Valerie made it for a day. At my suggestion, we had an open house on the 23rd in order to show Malcolm off to family and friends. Besides everyone else, Dave and Carol brought Mom so that she could see the Baby as well.

Sandy and Nancy's Christmas Eve Party was fun as usual. Christmas Day itself was rather quiet. We visited Mom and prepared for our trip to Connecticut, which included taking down the tree and decorations.

The Great Snowstorm of 2010

We knew it was coming, and we knew that our plans had us driving into the thick of it. Should we leave a half-day early on Christmas night in order to beat the storm? We decided against driving all night. Should we simply leave extremely early on Boxing Day? Yes, but in retrospect, it should've been earlier.

I did manage to get in one Hinckley loop with the gang. I really wanted to do the second 7am loop as well since I had set the thing up and there were more folks ready to go at that time. But I didn't want to be the one holding everyone up with us driving into the storm.

And wouldn't you know it? We drove into the storm just when it was at it's worst. It got so bad that we had to stop and get into a hotel in Middletown, NY. Luckily it was a fast moving one, and Monday was cold and extremely windy, but, by mid-day, generally drivable. That is, assuming one has four good tires. Somehow Barry's Ford Edge had gotten a flat, and the tire needed to be replaced.

So it was an eventful trip, but it wasn't quite over yet. We had to dig our way into the driveway. And with drifts several feet high, this wasn't easy at all.

I should say that out of the five human beings in the car, the one least troubled by all these events was the smallest one. Malcolm just seemed to take it all in stride.

Running in CT

I tried to take running in Connecticut in stride as well.

Who was Daniel, and why did he put his farm at the top of such a long, arduous hill? That is, of course, what I was asking myself as I was running up Daniels Farm Road. It's quite a hill, but the worst of it was that the footing was so bad. With all the traffic I was relegated to the sidewalks, which had been plowed, but were nonetheless still snowy and very icy. It was even tougher coming down than going up.

Hearing from new Ohio resident Dave James that he was in Connecticut caused me to send him a message wondering if he was close by and if so, whether he would like to go for a run. He responded that he was and he would. In fact, we'd be meeting a group of runners at the Housitonic (or whatever you call that durn thing) trail head - the place I run all the time.

Well it didn't work out. Dave got sick - just like everyone else around here - and I decided to just run around and get back a bit earlier than planned.

Speaking of sickness: Veronica, Barry and Malcolm all had colds, and Debbie got some kind of stomach illness. They're all recovering while I'm knocking on wood.


This morning's run here in Connecticut is my last for 2010. The grand totals:

3,465 miles, the most ever in a year for me. don't know why..
8:31 per mile average. not nearly as slow as last year, but my second slowest ever. don't know why.
gobs of races, including 4 or so marathons and 5 or so ultras.

Hey I've got an idea! Start 2011 off with a marathon!! I'll discuss this one in my next post.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cool Runnings, or Sorry, but I don't smoke and run

I suppose it had to happen. It still surprised me when it did, however. Of course I'm talking about someone offering to sell me ganja as I ran by. What was so comical was that it happened so early - probably 1/4 mile into my first run of this trip to Jamaica. The seller's thought process must have been something like, "here comes a rare white American or Brit (one of the few in the entire town right now) who also happens to be running. How can he not want to buy some herbs from me?"

As always, I was polite and said, "no, thanks", just as I said hello and good morning to everyone else on the streets at 6am that wsnted to talk to me. And it seemed as if most of them did.

We stayed in Ocho Rios for three days, and the running wasn't what I'd call idyllic there. Pollution, traffic, bad sidewalks and worse roads. Puddles, potholes and trash. Chickens, goats and dogs. Oh my.

I did manage to get some miles in whilst in Ochi. It was mostly easy stuff, but there were a few hills thrown in for good measure. I also ran on the hotel dreadmill once in order to get some speedwork in.

Running on the beach in Whitehouse was a different story. The Sandals Whitehouse resort owned a large portion of the approximately 2-mile long beach. Of course that's where I'd be doing a good part of my running.

At the end of the Sandals property I encountered a security guard. The beach kept going, but it was deserted beyond the guard. He actually told me that he couldn't allow anyone to leave the property. What was this, a prison? I pressed him, and he said, well, at least stay in during the dark hours (it was early morning). After a couple more laps back and forth, it was light, so I went through - after leaving my name and room number. I understand why they have the security, but this was a bit ridiculous.

The running in Whitehouse was generally good. I ventured out on the roads a couple times, besides an additional run on the beach. All good stuff.

Okay, enough running. Now, where was that ganja guy?

For more on this Jamaica trip, see the 'ole travel blog.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Chasing Connie with a Banana in My Pocket

It wasn't really in my pocket, but it *was* a real banana. I'd been trying to run her down for the entire third 5-mile lap of the Buckeye Woods 50K, and almost caught her before we reached the aid station. The trouble is, she most assuredly *did not* want me to catch her. She knew that if I did, I'd leave her with some smartass remark that she wouldn't like. That's pretty much what happened during other races when I've managed to pass her up. You know, the ones where she had just run a grueling 100-miler the week before.

I had organized the Buckeye Woods 50K (BW50); it was *my* race. And dad-burn it if I wasn't gonna run it well. We had about 20 starters, and many others showed up later on to run a lap or two. The weather in early December was frightful, however. The snow never let up, although it didn't accumulate to more than an inch or two. But the snow-covered trails weren't much of a problem. What *was* much of a problem were the wind and the cold. Temperatures never made it above 24, and the wind chill was in the low teens or worse.

Despite the conditions, everyone was running well and having fun. Ahead of Connie were Jon Brenenstuhl and Bob Pokorny. I didn't care about them; I just wanted *her*. We talked briefly at the aid station, and she tried to pry open a tupperware type container of bananas. "Here, let a man do it", I said. When I couldn't do it either (my hands were freezing), some nice volunteer did it for us. But by that time Connie had spent all the time she could handle at the station, and took off sprinting into her fourth lap. The volunteers mumbled something about how would they ever get the half-banana to Connie. "Don't worry, I'll catch her and present her with the banana", said I.

All of this transpired within a few seconds, and before I knew it, I was sprinting after Connie with half a banana between my fingers. As I mentioned, I never really put it in my pocket, but I did joke about the whole thing as I passed Debbie, Brad and Ladd coming the other way. I was going full-tilt, but I never made up any ground on my prey. Shortly after I passed those three, I felt it. The pulled calf tugged again.

Until that point, each lap was getting faster than the last. But now I had to slow down drastically in order to keep running at all. Connie was long gone. I was left with the banana, so I eventually ate it myself so as not to let it go to waste.

Now the fourth lap was done, and I was struggling. I bumped into Rachel at the aid station, and we began the fifth lap (her fourth - she started a little late) together. I had thought I'd never get back into the groove again, but whilst running with Rachel, somehow I did. We ran a pretty decent lap.

By the time I started my sixth and final 5-mile lap, I was hurting again. This time it wasn't the calf so much as *everything*. I let Rachel go by and ran slower and slower. Then I came upon Dan, who had been walking. "Let's jog together", I said, and we did. That sure helped me get through it, as did the couple cookies he shared.

My last 5-mile lap and the final mile were excruciatingly slow. But despite everything, I got myself a PR at 4:46. I won't mention that that time should have easily been more in the neighborhood of 4:30. Finishing fourth amongst this group of ultrarunners, is quite an honor however.

Hinckley is Back

Okay, okay. Hinckley never really left. But a lot of us did; we hadn't been meeting there for our Sunday morning runs for quite some tim...