6 Hour Race Lessons Learned

A wise co-worker once told me there is a big difference between lessons learned and lessons taught.  Despite the fact he was laid off a month later, I have taken the advice to heart. I am trying to look at my 6 Hour race last Saturday and figure out what worked and what didn’t.

Here’s the short list:

1. OK, it helps to train for a 6 hour race.  I got away with it this time being under trained, but I don’t think I should make this a standard practice.  I will say that given my state of training, I had a decent strategy of run/walk so I did learn a lot that will be useful down the road.

2. I need to need to drink more during hot races.  I lost around 8 pounds (out of 190).   I started well hydrated (fortunately) but I need to start setting an alarm to remind myself to drink more during races.  If I had gone with the optional weigh-in, I’m not sure they would have let me keep going.  I felt fine, but I was definitely dehydrated.

3. If you are going to walk, learn to walk.  Courtesy of the internet I learned some about proper race walking form.  With a little bit of practice (and this is me we are talking about, so it is going to be a little bit of practice) I got my walking from 15-16 minutes/mile down to 13 minutes/mile.  I was one of the faster walkers on the course and that helped me gain valuable mileage (even if I looked like a goof doing it (OK, I look like a goof running so there really isn’t a change)).

Don't ask

I really need to take a picture of the pig with the monkey blanket. This was taken near the start line of the race, so this is almost relevant to the post. Shocking, I know.

4. The clock is running even if you aren’t. Set up a plan on when you are going to stop for supplies and have it set up so you can access what you need easily.  For me I need to list out ahead of time what my plan is for each time I plan to stop.  Maybe next time I will remember to swap shirts when I planned.  This is really a subset of, “the brain stops working at a certain point” (don’t even think it).

5.  Get a crew if you can.  You can save some time by having someone hand you food/water/shirts/bandages instead of having to go pick up your own stuff.  They can also do things like spray you with sunscreen after you sweat it all off (red is not my color).

6. Ultra runners are a cool bunch (mostly).  I can’t imagine a road race where a leader would slow down for a few seconds to talk.  Or the race director would go out on the course to check on how all the runners were doing.  The volunteers were ultra friendly (see what I did there) and cheered everyone each lap.

The race director is on the left.  Pic stolen from Ultrasignup.com

The race director is on the left. Pic stolen from Ultrasignup.com

7. Figure your fueling.  I found that taking a gel (or equivalent) every 45 minutes worked for me for this race along with one small cup of Gatorade each lap.  I’m lucky because I can eat any brand of gel and it seems to work.  I used a flask of EFS mocha gel because it fit nicely in my pockets and held 4 servings.  I used GU Roctane before the start and at lap 3 and 5 and one packet of Sport Beans.  The variety of taste was nice for me to break up the effort, but use what works for you (Sorry if that sounds way too much like advice. I know no one comes to the site looking for advice (at least the good type)).

8. Having a mantra of B-G-E rocked.  A mantra helped me keep focus.  Side story, I was hearing this odd noise during the last couple of laps of the race and couldn’t figure out it was.  Finally figured out it was me wheezing because my allergies were acting up.  The fact it took 6 miles to figure this out should give you an idea of my mental state.

9. Just because your cool InkNBurn shorts have two gel size front pockets doesn’t mean you should use them for everything.  Like the cars keys I put in that pocket maybe should have gone elsewhere (or it could have been the edge of the spare Hammer gel).  I will spare you the picture of the scrapes on my thigh.

10. Don’t bother hitting on anyone who hasn’t run the race.  You smell like an odd cocktail of dumpster and sunscreen.  Well, I like to think that was my problem anyway…

The return of Canadian trivia!

When the Canadian Federation was originally formed, it did not include a big part of what is now Canada.  Rupert’s Land was not part of the Federation and included parts of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and even a bit of Ontario and Quebec.  It was owned by the Hudson Bay Trading company. The government realized this wasn’t a good long-term plan and bought Rupert’s Land in 1869. This purchase allowed for economic expansion westward via a transcontinental railroad.  Hey, it’s trivia. I didn’t promise exciting trivia.




Endless Summer Only Lasts 6 hours Race Report

“I don’t know what I’ve done
Or if I like what I’ve begun
But something told me to run
And honey you know me it’s all or none”

-Missy Higgins

<note if you want the race report for the Endless Summer 6 HR race, go to the first picture and start there.  Otherwise you can hang on for some of my emotional musings.>

So I ran a 6 HR race on Saturday.  “What the $(&**&^$*” you say.  Well, you probably think that, since I suspect most of you don’t talk out loud to my blog.  If you do, don’t worry, it talks back— in a nice calming tone no less.  I got off track again didn’t I?  Anyway, you are thinking why the heck the a guy with a busted knee who is out of shape would do something as colossally and unequivocally asinine as running a 6 HR timed race in the middle of Maryland in July and risk what little chance he has on completing his fall race schedule.

Well for one, I am colossally and unequivocally asinine.  In addition, I was having a basic crisis of confidence.  I felt that physically I don’t (and wouldn’t) have what it takes to complete my run schedule because of where I am in my training.  This makes success and failure (or more specifically my definition of it) in big part a mental effort.

Frankly I have been feeling mentally weak recently

In my last race I honestly gave up.  Yes there are excuses like hurting my knee and becoming dehydrated during the race, but even with those excuses my mind just gave up. It particularly hurt because I went into the race really wanting to kick butt.  That didn’t happen and on some level it has been nagging at me for almost two months.

Right before the half in June I signed up for the Endless Summer 6 HR race.  At the time I thought I would be around the 20 mile point for long runs  (only missed that by 14.2 miles) and thought that despite the heat in Maryland in late July, it would be a good practice run for the start of a 24 HR race. I figured I could get 30+ miles in.  Bahahahahahahaha.  Even at the time I signed up, the idea of my first (potential) ultra caused me to throw up just a little bit.

Then I busted up my knee and pretty well forgot about the race until last weekend.  Then I read an email about the race.  I thought the race might  be a good opportunity to practice my race walking (since I knew full well I wasn’t going to run for 6 hours).  But still the idea of running/walking for 6 hours in the middle of summer kind of scared me.  I decided this was a good time to test my mental toughness, but promised myself that I would be smart and bag the race if my knee started to act up (you can laugh, I am).  So although it may not be the smartest thing I ever did, I made the decision I was going to run the race.

Picture of a crab on a shirt

Singlet for Endless Summer 6 HR race. The slightly more normal part of the post starts now.

So I suspect all but one or two of you were wise and starting reading here.  This race report is unique for me in two ways.  One, I didn’t think to take a picture of the porta potties.  The other is that I typically provide a synopsis of how the race went more or less mile by mile.  1.  That would be horribly boring. 2. I honestly don’t remember every mile so I am going to report it  per lap.

So I woke up at 4 AM and wondered what I had signed myself up for (fortunately I had written it down on a piece of paper).  Courtesy of my list making skills I had my hydration pack  loaded up with gels and my Hammer supplements; my cooler loaded with water, post race recovery drinks, ad ice ; and a backpack with 3 shirts, spare pair of shorts, spare pair of socks, sunglasses, sunscreen, compression tights and post race food/supplements.  There is no Flat Running Lonely picture in this post because the packet pick-up was at the race site, so I just threw my running clothes in a heap on the floor the night before. I got out of bed and started to get ready.  After a liberal application of sunscreen, and putting body glide/Vaseline every place I could think to, I put on my running gear (minus the monster brace which I wasn’t going to put on until I got to the site).  Next I ate a pecan butter sandwich.   Normally I don’t eat real food 2 hrs before the start of a race, because quite often I am not awake two hours before the race.  But I figured given the effort ahead some solid food might be of use.  After some foam roller work and loading up the car, I was out the door around 5:15.

Swag and timing chip.  I don't have much to say other than the glass is flexible plastic and is kinda cool.  Well the swag is in the trunk of my car if that makes it more interesting.

Swag and timing chip. I don’t have much to say other than the glass is flexible plastic and is kinda cool. Well the swag is in the trunk of my car if that makes it more interesting.

The final race instructions said that the park where the race was being held would not open until 7:00 for a 7:30 race start.  So I would have 30 minutes to park, get my race packet, pin my number, take a pit stop, make sure my bags were ready in the car and hit the start line.  I got to Annapolis Maryland (hey, just realized, another state I have raced in!) a little after 6 AM.  Found a convenience store and gassed up the car and used their facilities.  I parked near the entrance to the park to wait for it to open.   I noticed some cars going in, so I drove over and it turned out they were letting people in, so I got to the start around 6:30.

The author was close to the start line.

Distance from my car to start area. Sweet.

Got my packet and did all the things I said above (one of them twice).  So it was time to for me to put on my hydration pack and after the pre-race talk and National Anthem I lined up with the other 80 or so runners.  At first I lined up in the middle of the pack and thought better of it and moved to the back (though ahead of the woman with the walking cast (talk about tough)).

Since it has worked for me pretty well for my 17.75K race, I decided to set my race goals right before the start:

1. Don’t Die

2. Get a long run in of 6+ miles

3. Stay upright for 6 hours

4. Get in 16-20 miles

5. Maybe pull off Marathon distance

6. A sorta ultra distance

My plan was to get my long run distance in, walk the next mile and then walk/run the rest of the way.

To say the course is rolling would be an understatement.  It seemed like we were always going uphill or downhill.  Now I like uphills, but my knee doesn’t like downhill, so it was not an easy course (at least when you are looking at it for 6 hours). The course was mostly shaded (thank goodness) in a forest park.  The loops were 4 miles long and I planned on swapping out shirts and reloading my hydration pack every two laps. If you are wonder why the shirt swap, I sweat enough that without the swap I would have wet, squishing shoes and that is just my idea of miserable.  I decided against sunglasses and with all the shade (and it started overcast) and that turned out to be a good decision because I could barely read my Garmin even without sunglasses.

After the start the group thinned out quickly and soon I was running with a group of only 4 people.  I was just trying to hold a solid pace and keep an eye on where the course was (it was well marked but I didn’t know that during the first lap).  Hit the first lap at just under 44 minutes so I was feeling pretty decent about things.

On lap two the 4 of us were basically the last of the runners.  It started to sprinkle (and I was thinking about the joy of running in the rain for 5 hours).  I was talking to the runner next to me about what if it really started raining, or worst lightning.  He said he wasn’t worried since I was taller, I would be the one that got hit by lightning.  These ultra people are SO friendly.  The sprinkles didn’t last very long.  We were getting to the 7 mile point where I thought about starting to walk, but since I was running with a group of people, I went ahead and completed the 2nd lap.  I went to the car to reload my hydration pack and swap out my trash for fresh gels.  I totally forgot to change my shirt.

Staring lap 3 I was by myself and would basically be that way for the next 4 1/2 hours.  I starting the lap with walking a mile (13:09 pace which means my race walking still needs work).   Then I started a run/walk.  Since the course was rolling and I didn’t want to run either the steeper up, or down, instead of run/walking on a schedule (like 5 minutes run/1walk), I played it by feel and ran when I wanted to and walked when I didn’t (and more importantly didn’t go home though part of me wanted to).   Although this race didn’t allow headphones, I didn’t really miss them.  It was nice to just run and concentrate on what I was doing. About halfway into this lap I noticed that my right big toe was hurting and I could tell a blister was starting to form.   Lap 3 was the first lap that I got passed (and they told me I was doing a great job and I had to try not to laugh). I was moving along fairly well and after lap 3 went back to the car to actually get a new shirt .

Lap 4 I started to get passed more (although this includes the relay people who were “only” doing 4 mile laps, so whenever I was passed I just assumed they were a relay person).  The walking was starting to dominate over the running and the sun was starting to come out (yippee—not).  The main thing I remember about lap 4 is passing two people and thinking it was nice I had a pretty good shot of not coming in last (turns out once I completed lap 3 I would be out of last place since a couple of people pulled out at lap 2).

Lap 5 started with one of the leaders passing me for the 2nd time. He slowed down to chat with me for a few seconds and then went along and then another of the leaders passed and I was going along slightly behind them for a bit.  I seemed to be going kind of fast and my brain finally kicked in and I looked down at my Garmin.  The instantaneous pace was 8:39, which is less than my 10 K pace, so I put the brakes on before I cooked myself.  Since the sun was in full fury my hydration became more of an issue as I sweated more (and really wasn’t drinking enough).  I had to add the sun factor when deciding if to run or walk.  My focus to this point had been pretty good but it started to slip.  My mantra for the race was the acronym Best Gear Energy (really just thinking the letters B-G-E over and over) and I used it to help keep the pace.  Finished lap 5 with a stop to the car and much like lap 2, forgot to get a new shirt.  Ditched the hydration pack in favor of a bottle.  I did this because it was more time-consuming to fill the pack than a bottle and there was less weight to carry.  As I went to start this lap it dawned on me this was the longest I had ever gone at one time and I did actually get my 20 miler in.

Reloaded with a cool drink I was off for lap 6 and the main thing I remember was it was hot and this was the part where various body parts were starting to almost cramp up.  First it was my left hamstring, then my right quad, then my left shin.  I pulled back on the running to reduce my sweat rate knowing that cramping would probably end my day.  Lap 6 ended without incident.

Its a picture of a toy pig on a park sign

Solar Powered Pig with Wings cheering me on, that or he was trying to figure out how to get some Popsicles

At lap 7 there is was a little more than an hour left and I made a blunder strategic decision.  This race counts partial laps, but only if you pick up a flag with your race number and then when the 6 hours is up they blow a horn and you plant your flag (which sounds kinda dirty now that I am typing this).  I made the choice not to pick up the flag and bet that I could finish the lap in time.  The problem with this plan was if I didn’t make it, I would end with 24 miles and the milestones of my first marathon distance and first semi-ultra distance would be known only to me (and we know I can’t be trusted).  If you are thinking that finishing a lap in an hour is a piece of cake, over half the field had at least one lap over 1 HR.  My Garmin had been acting up the last lap or so (my guess is it wanted to go home).  This made it harder to tell the mile times and I had to rely more by feel and generally knowing where the mile markers were at this point.  I hit the marathon point and made sure to be running when I hit that milestone and did the same when I hit 27 miles (what’s really is the minimum ultra?–you got me.).  At the 27 mile point, the volunteer stopping traffic (who had been out there for 6 hours I might add) let me know how much time to the end, and I knew I had it made.

I finished lap 7 and grabbed the flag and kept pushing.  I know no one reading this cares if I end up with 28 or 28.5 miles, but it mattered to me.  I went back more run than walk and actually passed a couple of people who had previously passed me.  Finally the horn went off, I put my flag in the ground and took a short cut back to the start line (just because I had been going for 6 hours didn’t mean I was looking for it to last longer).

Turns out the course was 4.14 miles, so by lap 7 I was at 28.7 29.0 (they kept changing the distance, don’t ask me how).

My final mileage was just under 29.8 miles (and probably closer to 30 with the trips to the car). I’m calling it an ultra (my blog–my rules).  I came in 29th place (though since the person in 28th had the same mileage maybe I really tied for 28th).  I felt good about the effort and I proved that I can meet the challenges I have ahead.  When I got home I noticed my race number was soaked with a darkish red/brown stain and when I took off my compression short I noticed 6 scratches bleeding on my left thigh and I hadn’t even noticed.  Hopefully the future will be a little less bloody.  The next thing I did was remove the “aspiring ultra runner” from my twitter profile and changed it to just “ultra runner” (is there a JUST ultra runner?)

Yum bloody numbers

Yum bloody numbers

I would like to thank the volunteers of this race.  You were great and were working longer than we were running.  It is impressive and I thank each of you.

Of course the most important thing to me in all of this is—- for once I finished in the same time as the person who won the race.



Canadian trivia will return next post and I will talk about what I learned from this race (other than B-G-E rocks as a mantra and training for a race is kinda worthwhile and I might want to try that for the next race)


Tequila Shot Date

There is a type of blog post called “Virtual Coffee Date” where the blogger in semi-conversational style talks about various things of interest.  If you never have seen this style of post before, a random example of it can be found here (and by random I googled “blog coffee date”and this was the first running one that popped up).

We not doing that.  We’re doing tequila shots so buckle up because here is how it goes:

Shot 1

I am one socially awkward dude, so if you actually ever meet me in person I kinda have a deer in headlights look at first. My jokes at this point are hit or miss because in real life I tend to say the first joke that comes to mind,  instead of typing it and figuring out that it qualifies as dumb– even for me.  At this point the jokes are about myself so it doesn’t matter much that they miss.   In desperation I will bring up my blog.  I will say that on Wednesday it had the highest number of hits and I have no clue why since I hadn’t posted any new content.  Yeah, it’s that bad until…

Shot 2

As soon as this shot hits, you are in the sweet spot.   I relax enough that you will stop wondering if I am going to drop of a stress induced heart attack. I have enough alcohol in me that the jokes have just the right bit of edge to them and pass for funny.  I’ll talk about some of my racing stories and manage to make them sorta interesting.  I will engage in actually conversation.  I will make interesting observations and If you are lucky I don’t start feeling good about myself and jump to…

Shot 3

At first shot 3 may seem like an improvement or at least it does in my mind.  Unfortunately that is the only place it seems like an improvement.  The part of the brain that edits and filters comments starts to fade like a cheap T-shirt in hot water.   This means that my wit, that to this point has been taking cheap shots at myself, turns its focus to the rest of the world.  At its best, it works, at worst it looks like me doing speed work (sorry if you were eating and can’t get that image out of your mind).  Topics can range the world.  Maybe if you are lucky I will tell my worst racing experiences and it come across humorous.  Anything to keep me from…

Shot 4

Whatever logic I had pretty much is gone at this point.  This is a good point to convince me to jump between buildings, steal something from a cop, get my first tattoo or try poutine. (side note, I suspect at least one of you out there is probably taking the last sentence as a challenge).  If you ever wanted unfiltered honestly about anyone, anything, this is time to ask since my speech isn’t too slurred . This is point I will tell you about the time I helped steal an entire dorm’s toothbrushes and planted them along their walkway.  I will tell the story in a way that may make you think another shot may be a good idea.  It’s not but you already ordered…

Shot 5

By this point, if I’m not in jail for stealing a cop’s hat, the adrenaline of meeting someone new has worn off.  This causes me to be extremely introspective.  This might be OK, but its me we are introspecting (yes, it’s a word) so it mostly comes off as maudlin.  Running topics are off the table at this point since I will just whine about being old.  After a few minutes you will figure out all topics really are off the table.  You will say you are going to the bathroom, and after about 30 minutes I will figure out you aren’t ever coming back. Another blog reader lost.

Hey, I just got stuck with the bill


A flower would be better off in a different blog

Hey it’s a flower. Absolutely nothing to do with the post and proud of it.

Canadian Trivia:

If you thought Canada annexing Ohio and other areas currently in the US was the last we would fight over the border, you would be wrong.  Both the US and Canada (still under English rule) felt that Oregon was theirs.  To try to avoid another war with the US, England agreed to joint rule over the area (via the Convention of 1818 if you really want your RDA of trivia).  This worked about as well as a divorced couple living together.  James Polk (an American President for my Canadian audience  (OK, the Americans probably didn’t remember it either)) had promised in 1844 to take not only Oregon but annex all the way up through what is now Alaska.   If the US didn’t get what it wanted, it would go to war with England again.  We didn’t, the US went to war with Mexico instead and settled the border dispute to extend the 49th parallel (with the exception of giving Canada all of Vancouver Island instead of splitting it awkwardly in half).

Awkwardly split in half kinda describes this blog post come to think about it.



Two Things Tuesday

You know it is a lot easier to do two things on Tuesday, than 5 on Friday and  I am ALL about the efficiency.  It also means the post is shorter, so I suspect everyone (OK, most everyone) is on board with my laziness disguised as being clever (which as a side note is the short summary of every note a teacher sent home with me).

1. I didn’t yet sign up for the Leesburg 20K on August 15.  I thought about it and I was somewhat concerned that I would regret it given that my last August 20K made the list of worst races for me (link Here if you want to refresh your memory or just enjoy reading about my crushing failures (well running related ones anyway)).  Of course some of the races I am thinking about are even dumber than that idea, so I hope by this time next week a plan will be in place that maximizes results and minimizes dumbness.  Probably though, it is more of a results/dumbness optimization problem.  No matter the math, I need to determine the plan.

2. The results from the Friday Five questions for you from a 1 1/2 weeks ago  have been tallied.

A. Most people said they looked at the alt text for the pictures.  Since I ran a contest in the alt text for free dinner and nobody responded, I am not sure if anyone really is reading it, but I have gone back to filling something out at least some of the time because it can be amusing to me.  As an added bonus, if anyone seeing impaired does chance upon this site, they hopefully will get a good laugh (if you really want to see the alt text you have to pull up the page’s html code or have special SW, and although I like to think my alt text is funny, it isn’t so funny as to justify bringing up html).

B. It was pretty evenly split on the reading tags and categories, but since I pointed it out, more people are reading them, so I will keep doing it (they are at the very bottom of the post in case you are curious).

C. A few people would like it if commenting was easier on the site and if the comments were better displayed.  I am considering a site re-design to make the site look like it wasn’t being run  by a three year old with ADHD.  It would cost either time or money and I don’t see it happening in the next few months, but if this blog becomes a longer term effort, I could see a site revamp being worth it and I will certainly improve the commenting capability.

D. Everyone seems OK with my switching between the serious and not so serious with no warning.  That, or no one takes any of it seriously which is OK too.

E. The Selfie vote was 2 for, 1 against, 1 death threat (which really is a no vote in my mind (and no, the death threat wasn’t serious)).  So I will continue to ponder that one.  I do realize that is hinders the connection between the me and you, but since this basically a humor blog disguised as a running blog, I am not sure to the degree it matters as long as I am not too worried about my blog stats.  Yes, selfies (even of old average looking dudes like me) help drive up traffic because it helps connect and build trust between the reader and the blogger (so I have been told).  This is a long winded way of saying jury is out on selfies (side note, does anyone use the term “short winded”).  I suspect the selfie is a fight I will lose in the end, but I am not ready to give up just yet (that statement is reason #49 of why I am not a motivational speaker).

Canadian trivia: The current Canadian flag was adopted in 1965.  It is one of the few things older than I am.

Thanks for reading.

Picture of the author in an InkNBurn shirt.  It is a selfie minus the head.  The author is a jerk

My newest InkNBurn shirt. And yes, I’m kinda messing with both the pro-selfie and anti-selfie vote all at once. If I treat my readers this way, maybe it isn’t a surprise why I only get 15 people reading my blog.  It is a cool shirt though.





Holding that Thought

For those who have been reading since early June, I have been whining commenting about my training for all my fall races being far behind due to my recent knee issues.  So I have been ruminating ways to increase fitness, or at least try and improve my shot at my year end 24 HR race, without trying to ramp up mileage too fast and giving my knee a reason to pack up and go home (which to my knee’s mind in Houston when it got the ACL/MCL torn and kneecap dislocated playing soccer).

A picture of a pig and a pink beer bottle.  Yup it is party time here at RL central.

Nothing good will come of this. Side note if you are ever in Portland, OR go to Voodoo doughnuts. It is good for a laugh and the doughnuts are pretty good.  This has nothing to do with the post, but you have to wonder if anything has to do with this post.

Part of what I have been doing is adding mileage before and after my run with my “speed/race” walking.  By speed I mean something better than 20 min/mile.  So far my best mile is 12:44, but I haven’t been able to consistently keep my walking pace high (or at least as high as I would like it).  I have thrown in a few sessions (and need to throw in many more) of walk only, but I am looking for ways to run/walk and keep my focus on both.  I my mind tends to wander when I run (and unfortunately for all of us, it usually finds it way home (not that you could tell the difference, but I can)).  A wandering mind isn’t a big deal in and of itself, but it tends to cause a drop in pace both when I walk and when I run.  I think the reason  is that since my speed (at least in running) is so cadence dependent that I have to actually pay some attention or my cadence drops  (my monster knee brace makes it hard to swing my lag back very well which is why even at slower speeds my cadence runs 170-175).

So I put on my thinking cap (which has an odd resemblance to a dunce cap now that I think about it) and decided that I need to find some summer races (despite my tendency to have a sweat rate that makes me look like a walking Niagara Falls minus the natural beauty).  I am thinking about running the Leesburg 20 K in August.  Yeah, 20K in Virginia in August while being under trained, what could could wrong?  Well, being me, tons can can go wrong, but it would give me some practice throwing in some speed walking with running.  (and give my fellow runners a good laugh watching me trying to speed walk).    My current training plan won’t have me at 20K, so it will force me to practice walking (yes, my life has sunk to the point where I need to practice walking).  The question is if I want to run even more races (and drive up my blog stats because nothing drives traffic like race reports).  They tend to take more out of me (and I got hurt during my last one) but I find it easier to focus on the task at hand.

So that is what I am pondering.  Renewed my passport so I am ready to go for Ottawa and the Army Run in September, all that is left is that whole training for a half marathon part (and packing which if you remember the post on what I took to Philly is no small task).

Time for the Canadian Trivia segment (or time to stop reading depending on your tastes).  Two pieces of trivia for you.  During the American Revolution the Americans captured and occupied Montreal in Nov 1775.  However after a failed attempt to capture Quebec City, General Arnold (yes, that one) ended up having retreat to Montreal and eventually gave up in the city in June1776 when British reinforcement arrived to take back the city.

Oh, but that isn’t the only time we occupied parts of Canada.  During the War of 1812, we captured the poorly defended York (now Toronto).  As part of the British retreat they set their gun powder stores on fire and killed 40 of the 200 people that died in the battle.  The American’s promptly burned any public space, like the Legislative Assembly building, to the ground.  We ransacked York for 6 days and then left.  We also stole the The Parliamentary mace of Upper Canada which only returned in 1934 as a goodwill gesture by President Roosevelt.  No apology quite like “Sorry we burnt your city to the ground and looted it a 100+ years ago, here’s your mace back”



(I am almost used to typing that)

A picture of the author's shoes

Me, my knee brace, and InkNBurn shorts. You can tell from this shot how I have difficulty keeping my feet straight (and torquing the crap out of my knee). This picture almost has something to do with the post, so #improvement

Inspiring? Award Winning? Me????

Well they say if you live long enough you will see just about everything.  Although many of you are still waiting for the day of a decent blog post out of me, I now have lived long enough to see the day this blog got an “Inspiring Blog Award”.

Stephanie Wattenbarger at her blog http://joyinthefire.com was kind enough to nominate me this award.  Go check out her blog, I’ll wait for you to get back.

However, unlike most awards this one has rules associated with it (and you don’t have to be a long time reader of this blog to guess how I deal with rules).  But I have completed task one by listing the blog above.  See, no wonder I am award winning.

Picture of award

Rule 2, check

Now here is where things get tricky.  I have to share 7 things about myself.  I am guessing that telling you what I am wearing right now is a serious violations of the rules (and some of you may be eating), so here I go.

1. I am named after my grandfather and father.  So yes, I am the 3rd.  Someone once asked me if it was a family name.  I told them no, my parents just thought it would make me sound rich.

2. My middle name, Marsden, is a town in England.  My ancestors on that side of the family were glass blowers.

3. I once had a piece of art hang in the Houston Museum of Modern Art.  However, my artist abilities are somewhere between my running and swimming skills (which is a nice way of saying, from bad to worse).

4. I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from Rice University in Houston.

5. On New Year’s Eve last year I went for a run over midnight.  It was kinda pretty seeing the fireworks from a distance and I certainly had the trail to myself.  So for a few hours at least, I ran more mileage in 2014 than most of you.  Alas, it was a lead I did not hold on to for long.

6. I have lived in 6 states and two of them twice (VA-KY-WV-TN-TX-IL-WV-VA) and moved 14 times.  I’m overdue for a state change and a move.

7. I have visited 39 states (along with DC) and have raced in 10 states (TN,TX,IL,IN,WI, NM, WV,VA,GA,PA)  (and DC).  If all goes to plan I will add AZ to the list at the end of the year.  I have to admit although my knee is still a bit weak, I am already looking at new places to run in 2015.  So if any of my followers want me to visit, let me know and what a good race in your area would be (or conversely I can be paid off to avoid your state/country/hemisphere entirely).

So the last rule is that I have nominate 15 more bloggers for this award.  Finally, I rule I can feel good about breaking.  I’m not going to pretend I read 15 blogs on a consistent basis (including this one in case the grammar and punctuation didn’t make that obvious) . Well I may not give you quantity, but I will give you quality.  There are two blogs I would like to highlight for your viewing consideration.

@neurosciency has a blog at neurosciency a blog about science, style, and everything in between.  OK, I don’t know jack about style (and it is not her fault, I manage to screw that up all on my own) but my personal favorite part of blog is the Neurosciency Friday posts.  Take a look link at the crawfish picture, it is worth the effort in and of itself.

Stacey @RunToBeFree10 and her blog RunToBeFree10, the rantings of Stace Face  can give you the low down on almost every race in the Baltimore area because best I can tell, she runs almost every last one of them.  Her blog has a refreshing honesty to it, but she manages to keep a smile on her face (unlike me who smiles like there was a tax on smiling).

@neurosciency and @RunToBeFree10 —-Tag, you’re it.  Do with it as you wish.

Now that I have dispensed with the crap about me and given you two great blogs that will probably cause you never to come back here, I will now return you to your regularly scheduled non-blog.

Here is your Canadian Trivia for this post.  Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan were once part of Canada.   As part of the Quebec Act of 1774 someone thought it would be a good idea to redraw the boundary of Canada to take a big swath out of what is now the US.  England (who let’s face it, didn’t care, it was all theirs anyway) approved the act but the joke was on them since it was one (of many) causes of the American Revolution.  After the American Revolution, the US initially asked for all of Canada as part of the agreement to end the war (we’ll show you swath taking) but the English were fearful of leaving the French around without an English presence so they agreed to go back to the pre-1774 borders.


Would you believe one of the rules includes a pig picture?

Would you believe one of the rules includes a pig picture?

Side note, nobody won the contest (it was hidden two posts ago)  so I don’t have to buy anyone dinner.




Aqua Running Data

As most of you know (and for you new followers sorry you ended up here) I have been doing some aqua running while my knee was injured and I am still doing some to supplement my meager running mileage.

Now I could got into details about the intricacies of aqua running and the technical aspects of it, but let’s be honest, nobody comes to this blog to learn the finer points of running technique, aqua or otherwise.  But what I can do is describe the silliness in which I used my Garmin for aqua running.

Now I know what you are thinking–you swim indoors, what the heck is a Garmin going to tell you? (OK, you are really thinking, please make this stop, but you are doing this to yourself so my sympathy is somewhat limited (but not non-zero if it makes you feel better)).

I had no idea what (if any) data I would get from my Garmin, but I know the 620 is water resistant up to 50 meters (and I checked with Garmin it turns out that is depth, not just for 1 lap in the pool).  So I strapped my Garmin on, put on my floatation device (no it wasn’t water wings it was a floatation belt for used pool running) and went for a pool run just to see what kind of data I would get.  Yeah, I am a Garmin Geek.

The data was mostly garbage it turned out.  I was far away from the window, so the GPS mileage data was garbage (there is no way I pool ran for a mile).  There was one sorta useful piece of data that came out and that was cadence.  One thing I would recommend if you ever find yourself pool running is to do intervals.  Intervals have two useful effects.  First, it helps increase your heart rate which can be difficult doing a constant pace.  Second, it breaks up the total monotony which is pool running.

So below is the chart when I first started doing intervals.  Now I am in the lap swim pool because the diving pool was being used for water polo.  This means that I was going maybe 10 meters and then turning around (this is because being over 6 ft tall, I need the deep end of the pool (and you can hush on the going off the deep end jokes).  Since I didn’t change the settings to stop the Garmin if I stopped (and turning around with the shift in momentum is basically stopping) the intervals come up short.  That or my intervals were really short and I am just coming up with some BS physics explanation to try and hide it.  Either way, you can use the Garmin to get some idea of your cadence.   This was early on in my run and it lined up pretty well with my manual count using the poolside clock.  Later on I was able to get up to a 180 cadence but I suspect you aren’t inclined to believe me on  that either.

Cadence data for pool running intervals.  Really, no joke.

Pool running cadence data which you may or may not believe  This whole post has been based on this one crappy picture.

So that is the sum total usefulness of my Garmin in pool running.  More importantly I will delete this off my Garmin so it is not included in my monthly mileage because that would be cheating.  When I cheat, I prefer to use my car because it is much faster.

As may remember in my post on Canada Day (and if you live in Canada shouldn’t every day be Canada Day?) I vowed to learn more about the country I would be visiting this September.  So here is your Canadian trivia of the day: Hudson Bay is named after Henry Hudson.  Hudson (the person not the bay) was leading an expedition in the bay when his crew mutinied and set him and few loyalist adrift in a small boat (they were never heard from again and presumably died ).  Crappy way to get something named after you if you ask me.



A small dream takes shape

When you are just coming back from injury, it can be frustrating to feel the difference between your before injury running and your current state. It’s enough to cause some almost 49 year-old back of the pack type to pull his hair out.   Well, if this individual had any hair, which our hypothetical almost 49 year-old does not (except…. well  let’s just hypothetically leave it at that).

For those who have been reading this blog recently (rumor has it there are people who do that), you know that I have been sticking my head in the sand when it comes to training for The Army Run in September, MCM in October, my 50K doing the  Richmond 8K/Marathon and Across the Years 24 HR race.  I wanted to take the time to rest my knee, make sure that when I restarted that I wouldn’t push too hard too soon (well excluding the fact that I was coming back too  soon in the first place).  However, after a week of short (<3 mile) runs I finally looked at putting together possible training plans.

I’m screwed

Well that isn’t entirely true.  I’m screwed if I want to actually finish any of these races in a time that would make me feel OK (or in the case of MCM maybe finish at all given a fairly hard-ass time-cut at mile 20).   Add to that the pressure of I am tied to telling the world about how I do in all theses races in my blog and it adds up to a sub-optimal situation.   However, sub-optimal or not, I can only play the cards I am dealt and figure out what to do from there.  The basic problem is given my state of mileage (low), fitness (iffy from a running perspective) and the time frame of my races (Sept-Dec) you can’t get from here to there.  I think about how to run a 24 HR race being under trained, and it reminds me of running my first half with a long run of around a mile. (for those who need reminding, check out My Worst Races Vol 2)

So here is the current plan.  Do my best to train for the Army run, see if I can at least do as well as I did in my last half , try to throw in a in a couple of longer runs between the Army Run and MCM to see if I can get through MCM and then maybe by the time I hit Richmond in November, I can fudge my way to a 50K and then I can contemplate the agony of the jump to a 24 HR race even though I would  not exactly ready.

I didn’t say it was a good plan

But it is my current plan.  Got my “long” run of 3.4 miles in yesterday so I have started.  Run 4 days a week, 1 long run on Sat, 1 short run on Sun, two weekday runs at “goal” pace if my knee can handle it.  Up the mileage each week by a mile or two and hope that between my chiro, massages, and foam rollering within an inch of my existence, I can somehow pull it off.

This is the contest.  Provide the code 1976

Trying to lasso some training.

We will see.   I would like to go back to the blogger in April and ask respectfully to temper his goals (like pushing the 24 HR race to next year), but I doubt the blogger would have listened (and isn’t doing a great job listening now).  But I am running again, and even for a few yards yesterday I actually felt the calm that is the reason I run.  It evaporated faster than a ice cube on the sun, but I felt it, and it gives me a glimmer of hope.

Same contest code 1776

Solar Powered Pig practicing his trail running.  This has nothing to do with the post really, but hey, people love a solar powered pig with a twitter account (@AbbyAndThePig)

So there is a road ahead and I although I am taking the slow lane, its less slow than than this time last week.  So, I will dream the small dream and hope that is eventually leads to bigger dreams. More proof this blogger finds it best not to listen to himself.




Friday 5 Questions for You

OK, last week I gave out 5 pieces of info about me, and managed to live to tell the tale.  This week I have 5 questions for you.  You can respond via Twitter, via the comments, or if you want to email me at rl@runninglonely.com (no, I am not changing it to marsden@runninglonely.com). Or just ignore all the questions entirely, but just don’t say I didn’t ask your thoughts about anything.  These are just some things I wonder about my blog reading audience (yes that means you buster).

1. Did anyone ever read or look at the alternative text captioning for my photos?  I don’t know if I have anyone who is seeing impaired who visits the site, but I would usually throw in an extra joke, but I never got any feedback so I stopped doing it.  If anyone uses Jaws or similar SW to look at my blog, let me know.

2. Does anyone read the tags and categories at the bottom of these posts?  I have been playing with them for the last few posts, and wondered if anyone actually looks at them.  I kinda doubt it, but putting in tags entertains myself and heck, entertaining myself is a big part of why I blog.

3. If I made it easier to comment (and easier to read the comments) would anyone be more likely to comment on the blog?  I get most of my comments via Twitter, and I am cool with that, but I was wondering.

4. I often switch gears between the quite serious and the humorous (or what passes for humorous in my mind).  Does this make the blog harder or easier to read?

5. OK, what’s with the desire to see a selfie of me?  OK, desire is a strong word, but I have gotten more than a handful of requests.  And no the requests were coming from deranged individuals (well the requests were from blog/Twitter/Instagram followers so you can be the judge of that).  I almost did a post on my rationale against selfies, but decided against it (see I CAN use better judgement).  I won’t say absolutely no to the selfie, but you aren’t getting it in this post.

The picture is of a toy pig in front of a large cup of coffee.  Why the author has choosen to do this is beyond us to comprehend so we stopped trying.

He is SO going to need a bathroom later

6. Isn’t a question, but I thought I would show you the top 10 cities that visit this blog in the last month.  If your city isn’t on the list, feel free to hit the reload button a lot.

The blog author is informing his public that Not Set is the number 6 city that comes to this blog.

I just told you what this is, so you don’t really need a caption.



My First 5K or Are you supposed to feel like you are dying?

The year was, oh never mind, most of you were born yet and it was pre-high def so everything was kinda blurry anyway.  No, it was NOT in black and white.  For reasons I don’t remember, I was 16 and signed up for my first 5K.  I knew nothing about running races other than the generic put one foot in front of the other.  I wasn’t on the cross country team, didn’t read (or even had heard of) Runner’s World, and didn’t know crap about training.  I would do a few laps around the block.  Most of my running was running the bases in baseball.

The beauty of running is that even an idiot can do it. I’m living proof.

This 5K was at a local shopping mall and the course was basically a couple of loops around the parking lot (and as non-scenic as this sounds, this isn’t the ugliest course I have ever run).  As I have pointed out before, but will point out again, you know because I am old, is that this was in the day before chip timing or GPS watches.  Since this was a 5K they didn’t even have a person on the course telling you any split times, so basically you found out how fast you went when you got to the finish line (or at least if you were a high school student like me who didn’t have a digital watch).  About the only thing you could tell was if you were going faster or slower than everyone around you.

This turns out to be a big problem for me

I wasn’t nervous before the race (I was a 16 year old male, I was WAY too stupid to be nervous).  Everyone lined up and I figured the middle was a pretty good place to start. They played the National Anthem, and the gun went off and so did I.

You ever hear of going out too fast?  Oh, you know nothing about going out too fast.  Not knowing any better I tried to keep up with people around me.  The problem with that is that the people around me were hauling ass and I was too inexperienced (and not in good enough shape) to go out with them.  I gamely tried to keep up with them.  For about 1/2 mile I managed, but by mile 1 I could hear my heart beat in my ears.  By mile 2 my chest started to hurt and I wondered to myself if this is what a heart attack felt like.

Side note, if you wonder if time travel is possible, it’s not.  How do I know this?  Because if it were, someone reading this blog would go back in time, tell my 16 year old self not to sweat chest pains and that it was a sign to push it harder.  Since I am writing this blog, that didn’t happen, thus time travel is not possible.

So at mile 2 I slowed down and tried to ignore the wave after wave of people passing me.  There were only a few stragglers at that were coming by the time I finished.  My final time was 24:54.

I am just as happy there wasn’t a photographer to memorialize how crappy I must of looked hitting the finish line.  This was so long ago, they didn’t do race photography, they only had an artist painting everyone on the wall of a cave.

I wish that I could say that was the last time I went out too fast.  I wish that I could say that it was the last time I went out too fast in a 5K.  I also wish I was a billionaire but that isn’t true either.

I can say it was the last time I drove my self to chest pains, so at least I can say that much for myself.  Well that and I proved time travel isn’t possible.



Yeah, feels weird not to do RL.  I went back and I didn’t even start doing that in this blog until March, but somehow I still think of myself as RL when I am writing the blog.  Oh well, change is happening.  Who knows, maybe next I will get selfie happy (don’t worry very doubtful).

Solar powered pig on the other hand has no issues with being photographed

Solar powered pig on the other hand has no issues with being photographed