Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter & Baseball

A few random upates here:

Autumn wanted to give baseball / tball a shot this year. Lauren and I figured what the heck. So she's had a few games now and she loves it! She's got a pretty good aim and at her last game she hit from the pitches at all of her at bat's (not needing a T).

Baseball is serious business! (Check out the sweet uniforms)
It's been fun. Joshua likes to watch and I actually got involved helping at practice (I didn't play much of ANY baseball when I was younger).

About two weeks ago we got a call from the library "Autumn has won our M&M guessing game". Apparently the last time they were there, Autumn saw the game and decided to guess. Her guess was 120. Lauren said "there's way more than that in there, why don't you add one number to it. So she adds 7 because that's her age and gets 1207. Well apparently there were 1217 or something like that. So lucky us, we get 1200+ M&M's in our Autumn got her picture taken (below) and will be in the library newsletter and she also gets a shirt!!

Wow, how quickly Easter has come and gone. The kids were so excited Easter morning, they were up before 7am (early, especially for Joshua) and couldn't wait to find the eggs the Easter Bunny had hidden in the living room. Here they are in their PJ's showing off some new toys (a Disney gift card for our trip and a new matchbox car).

I made some breakfast and we headed to church, then down to my mom's for some sandwiches and another egg hunt, this time with the cousins. We had a great time..and I even snuck out for a bike ride afterward). The weather was awesome and the kids had a great time playing outside. I love Joshua's outfit in the picture below.

Then we headed over to have dinner at Lauren's sister's house and more fun with more cousins. And of course some more pictures!

This weekend is the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon and I'm in charge of the pace groups. I'll be working the expo tomorrow and then Lauren and I are pacing on Sunday. The weather is shaping up to be incredible and it should be a great race for the 4,000 plus participants.

Other than that, I'm gearing up for my two upcoming big races...the Dirty German 50K on 5/22 and the Quassy Challenge Olympic and Half Iron triathlons....

Saturday, April 23, 2011

BOSTON 2011& First 5K

Well, I'm sorry, it's been a while. Patriots Day in New England has come and gone (and so has Easter for that matter) and the 2011 Boston Marathon is in the books. We had a lot going on Boston weekend including my brother's first time as race director (directing a 5K) and two birthday parties. That meant that I would drive up to Boston on Sunday AM and meet up w/ the group. Had an issue on the drive up due to heavy rains the night before (maybe I would actually use a GPS in the car?), but made good time and I was treated to an incredible day. I parked at the T-line and boarded the train with all the Bosox fans. The expo was a madhouse, so I grabbed my bib, a couple of samples and hit the food court for lunch.

Sunday night we had a huge group at Bertucci's. It's great to catch up with everyone and see the race day jitters flowing freely! Sunday AM our bus would take us out to a friend's house in Hopkinton. We were treated to beautiful sunny skies and a chilly tailwind. As we lined up in the corral the sun was winning the battle and it was getting warm.

My race plan was to go out at +/- 6:30 and see how it went. With the stress fracture / loss of training and having raced Battenkill last weekend, I had no idea what I was capable of. I looked through my logs and I had just over 450 run miles logged from Jan. 1 through April 18. Last year I was over 900! My nutrition plan was to sip on my flask of EFS Liquid Shot (400 cal and plenty of electrolytes) and if I needed something solid I had some Honeystinger energy blocks.

The start of Boston is incredible. So many people lining the streets, fast steep downhills and runners going in every direction. It's easy to get sucked out too fast if you don't pay attention. I had a couple of 6:1x miles early on but I wasn't too worried, I had done the same last year. By the time we finished the first 5K it was getting hot. I was down to singlet and shorts and I was drinking at every water stop. The pace didn't feel too bad but I could tell it could get ugly at any point. We had a consistent 15 mi / hr tailwind which was nice, but also dangerous. Dangerous because instead of being cooled by front or cross winds, you were running in your own body heat. I was holding 6:30-ish pretty consistently and trying to take everything in. I love to watch other people, takes my mind off me. There were ALOT of people running by and I would try to pick people out and log them in my mind so I could score a mental victory as I passed them in the later miles.

I didn't look too bad early on

As we entered Wellselley and neared the half way point I could now tell it was going to be a tough day. I was hydrating well and following my nutrition plan, but it was warmer than my body had been trained for and I was starting to feel the lack of training miles. My legs were starting to feel like it was mile 20 and it was only 13! I typically feel like the half way point of Boston is mile 21 after you crest Heartbreak Hill. Uggghh Oooo.
I prepared myself for a mental and physical struggle. The entire race to this point I just tried to keep moving at the same pace and hadn't thought at all about finish time. I came through the half at 1:24:34 which on a good day would set me up well to go under 2:50. My goal now was not to stop and walk at all costs. Mile 16 was quickly approaching which meant the dreaded RT128 overpass. By the time I hit the overpass I had finished off my Liquid Shot and figured I had (hopefully) a little more than an hour left. At mile 18 I would see our group, so that gave me some motivation for 2 miles.

It was great to see them and get a boost of energy as I made the right hand turn at the Newton Fire Station. "Game on" I thought to myself and surprisingly I climbed the hills very well, passing a lot of people. The odd part was I enjoyed the uphills more than the downhills, because by this point my legs were like tree trunks and the downhills hurt like hell!

As I began to climb Heartbreak I could see the crazy Boston College kids screaming and yelling and I would finally see the BC banner at the top. I had made it over the hills, and still holding a decent pace. I've said many times before though, the last 5 miles of this race is the hardest. It just seems to go on forever and I just kept telling myself "keep the legs moving". It also helped that although being passed here or there, I was passing people who were having days much worse than mine. All I could imagine in my mind was crossing that line...and that's what kept me going.

The damn CITGO sign

There it was, the Citgo Sign. That meant I was getting there. Mile 25, Coplay Square. If I could keep going and get to that point I KNEW I could survive one more mile. As I crossed the sign I finally did a time check. Sub 2:50 had slipped away, but a 2:51 finish wasn't out of the question..
The last right hand turn on the course....headed to Boyleston
This photo is painful just to look at!
Made it to Boyleston...but I don't look happy to be there!
I looked MUCH better in 2010...and I was >4 minutes faster!
My first view of the 2011 finish line...
The last 3/8 of a mile is something you cannot describe. Boyleston is so wide and lined 5-10 deep with people cheering and making noise. Your leg hurts, your mind hurts but all you can do is focus...focus on that finish line! I gave it my all and I was actually passing people. As the clock came into sight I realized that after I subtracted my 13sec start gap I would come in sub 2:52!
I crossed the line in 2:51:48. I had "only" lost about 2:30 over the last half. Man did that hurt! I was happy with the outcome but I will train more next year! Once I crossed the line I grabbed my medal and headed for a massage. Bring on 2012!

On another note, as I mentioned above my brother put on his first 5K to raise money for his daughters' school. The weather was tough, a cold low 40's day with a brisk wind. He had over 100 registrants and all in all it turned out very well. Lauren (who really doesn't like 5K's) ran her first race of the year and had a great time....
The kids run was well attended as well. Autumn and Joshua had a blast (although I had to carry Joshua so he could keep up)!

Looks as though Spring is finally arriving. The grass is getting green, the flowers are coming out and the trees are flowering!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tour of the Battenkill Mini "Vacation" Weekend

This week has gone so quickly. I really wanted to put something together to document the incredible weekend we had in New York. Not only did the race live up to the hype, but our weekend with Doug and Nicole (Nicole is Lauren's cousin) was incredible.
We arrived after a surprisingly quick 4:15 trip on Friday night. The kids were hilarious, we didn't even make it 30 miles and they were asking if we were there yet. They were so excited! We pulled in around 8:30 and spent the next couple of hours catching up then off to bed.
They live on a 90+ acre farm which is about 2.5 miles from the ToB course. The scenery and views in this part of the state are awesome. We were only about 5 miles from the Vermont border. There was still some snow piles hanging around as well.
When we woke up on Saturday AM, Joshua looked out the window, and in amazement said "Daddy, come here...look we can see forever"!!
The farm had a stream, a pond, several barns and Autumn's favorite....chickens! She was the official egg gatherer for the weekend. Needless to say, we brought home two dozen fresh organic eggs!!
Joshua was excited to find Doug's race car in the barn. He was in heaven when Doug fired it up and drove it up and down the driveway with him in it. I was wishing I could take it for a ride down the road!
The weather was incredible and the kids spent the majority of the time outside playing, exploring and being kids. The way it should be!
We had no real plans. The race was on Sunday so Saturday was open. The girls and kids went to visit an Alpaca farm.

And Doug and I hit the road with his neighbor Van for 75 minutes or so. We checked out a couple of portions of the course including a new section for this year which was dirt and had just been graded by the Town which meant some loose gravel. It wasn't too bad. 75 minutes later we returned and Lauren and Nicole headed out for a run.

Doug and I watched the kids and got our stuff ready for the race on Sunday. When the girls got back we headed down to Cambridge to get our numbers and check out a few more sections of the course. This year most of the +/- 20mi of dirt roads were in good shape, meaning they were hard packed and had a reasonable amount of potholes. This would make for a faster race (for some people).

We had a great dinner and headed down to the Battenkill Valley Creamery for some Ice Cream...from the cow to the cone!. We loaded up the gear and hit the sack. Doug's race started at 9am, mine 9:30. The forecast was showing that the predicted showers would hold off, but the start temps would be high 30's and finish in the high 40's w/ overcast skies. Not sure what happened to the forecast, but we awoke to clear skies and by race time the temps were in the 50's w/ sun. I had a vest over my normal kit and some arm warmers. The race was self supported, which meant the standard 2 water bottles likely wouldn't cut it especially considering the warmer weather. The plan was to keep a bottle in the vest/jersey, drink that first and toss it in the field to pick it up on the way home. I also had a cut up Clif bar and a flask of First Endurance Liquid Shot.

This being my first road race, that I had a pretty full training week leading up to the race and that I hadn't put the hard efforts into my riding training I had no idea where I stood. I raced the 30+ Category 1-4 which was full (150 riders) and had some talented riders in it (and four of my Lamprey teammates). My goal was to stick w/ the pack as long as I could.

As we rolled off, the scenery was incredible. There was still a lot of Maple Syrup collection going on as evidenced by the set up seen below.
I wanted to stay close to the front of the pack so I could see danger up ahead if that was the case. The race started off surprisingly slow, but by mile 5 I had already slid my arm warmers down, it was getting hot! I stuck w/ the group as we hit the second big climb (Juniper Swamp). I knew Lauren and the kids would be there and it was exciting to see them cheering for me. Joshua found a nice cozy spot to spectate (below).
Here's a great shot of the group beginning the ascent. I'm toward the bottom of the photo in the center of the pack.
I stuck w/ the pack up the climb, reached for a bottle as we crested and all the sudden they were gone! I was unhitched on the descent. I tried to chase, but couldn't hop back on. It was about 20 mi into the race at this point, I found a few guys and we tried to ride together.

A few miles later we came to Joe Bean road. The second climb that Lauren and the kids were cheering from. It's a long asphalt climb that "steps" it's way up up up. I was smiling, still pushing but enjoying the beautiful day we had been given.
As the race wore on I would catch people who had blown themselves up trying to stay w/the group. I was overheating on some of the climbs so I would unzip my vest / jersey. I never cramped up but did get a sore back and foot (from my carbon soled shoes on the rough terrain). As we hit Meetinghouse Road (nearly 50 miles in) I was starting to feel the effects of the heat.
I focused on getting my nutrition in me and staying hydrated. My body came back around and I was able to push a little harder. The last few miles were awesome and I was excited to be finishing up. I cross the line solo, 3:20 riding time, 19.25 mph average. The total elevation gain was 4800-4900'. I finished 84th out of the field of 150. I was very pleased with the day, the fun I had and everything I learned.

Turned out that Doug had a great race. He finished in the pack but got squeezed out of the sprint. 18th overall in his field. Lamprey had a great race as well with a few top 10's and top 20's.
Getting ready to head home. Finish line festivities in the background.

We headed back to Doug's to shower up and pack. On the way back we stopped to cheer Doug's neighbor (Van) on in the 60+ race. He would go on to finish top 15!

The kids (and us) really didn't want to leave. They were so tired from such a busy weekend. We stopped at the Creamery on the way home for some ice cream and chocolate milk. The kids fell asleep in no time and Lauren and I had a quiet, quick ride home. We had a great weekend and we're so thankful for Doug and Nicole's hospitality.

Next up is Boston. I'm going to drive up on Sunday and meet the group. The name of the game this week has been recovery. I'm excited to head up, mosey around the expo and toe the line on Patriots Day.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Impending DOOM....

Well, we're headed up to Salem, NY today. Lauren has some family just outside of Salem that happen to live in the heart of the Tour of the Battenkill course. Her cousin's husband is a very talented cyclist who lives for the annual spring classic bike race in his home town. They've graciously offered to put our family up and show me the ropes this weekend. They're a great family, we're excited to make the trip! So this week I've really been wondering how I got myself talked into this bike race. My first official bike race I might add? Nothing like hopping into a field of 150 30+ year old Cat 1-4 cyclists on a gnarly course which includes more than 20 miles of dirt road, right? Throw on top of that....I'm in the middle of training for a marathon, well actually it's 8 days before Boston! Regardless, it'll be a great (albiet painful) race.

Floyd Landis raced last year (photo from Battenkill website)

Looking at the course profile, it doesn't look that bad. BUT, the cummulative effect of the continuously rolling terrain and gravel surfaces will certainly wear the legs down....especially at race pace!

We plan to drive some of the course tomorrow, go for an easy ride, get our numbers and grab a good pasta dinner. Lauren, her cousin Nicole and the kids are going to be out on the course at various places cheering us on so I'm looking forward to a new journey!

Last week I had a scare. Coming off of my biggest training week since my foot injury (and a great race at Caesar Rodney) I hoped to follow up with another big week before I reduced the mileage. I had a great speed workout that Tuesday morning, and two other moderate paced 10+ mile runs on Wed & Thursday, then suddenly developed foot pain in the same area of the stress fracture. I immediately took 3 days off and by Monday I was able to get back at it. I had a great run this morning and I'm at 41 miles in 3 days of running this week. Now it's time for a few days of riding and get into some shorter faster stuff next week before Boston. Goal will be 30 miles or so w/ two workouts, one geared around marathon pace and the other geared around leg speed and form.

On another note, Autumn had her first baseball / tball practice last night. She's got a great coach and a large team of about 12 kids (9 boys, 3 girls). I've never been a baseball fan or been any good at it, so it was fun for me as well to get out there and throw / catch with the kids. Autumn did very well, I'm proud of her. I'm excited to see how she does this year. She's also now bumped up to 45 minute swim lessons and she seems to be really exceling in that. We signed Autumn and Joshua up for a kids tri in May which will be a blast!

Have a great weekend. Looks like Spring is starting to put up a fight now....only a matter of time before we have flowering trees.........