Sunday, February 21, 2010

Playing Penguin

A look from the "gangplank" before the "Freezin' for a Reason" Ashe County Polar Plunge

A close up of the "dip pool' A chain saw was used to take out chunks of ice...

Since my last post, life had been differently organized…Snow and ice keep us from being in school 4 days in a row (again!) and weather conditions have kept me on more treadmill than not…

Sooo when weather gave the NC High Country a break this weekend-we had school on Saturday! Fortunately, after work, I hurried over to the Ashe County Polar Plunge and relieved life’s stresses by jumping in the pond! This was a fundraiser for the Ashe/Alleghany Special Olympics. Though I have participated in Polar Plunges before, never have I jumped in water where a chain saw was used to cut an opening!

17 folks jumped in the 36 degree water-though I am not sure how much $$$ was raised. It was great fun-Next year I hope to be more involved with organizing and recruiting and hope to see a huge representation from the students and staff where I work! (That was the plan this year-but missing more school days than in attendance, doing anything other than surviving at work has been the reality!) I know there are some great photos out there and I will add some to this post during the next couple 
The photo to the left is George and few minutes before "the jump"..and to the right is me the night before sorting out an outfit...George and I ran down the "gangplank together, hand-in-hand...yet because only 1 person was allowed in the water at a time, I got to jump first, screaming and hands waving all the way in and out! George had way more style!

Also, since last post:

  • George and I are tearing up the final icky carpeting in our house and putting in laminate floor
  • I have been snowshoeing…purchased a pair of Atlas Run on silly sale and have used then 2x. Fun so far, yet I am pathetically awful-yet hope to get to practice more as the winter continues to unfold...

  • I am religiously following Howard Nippert’s training plans (running way less miles and doing more speed/interval stuff) I am working with him to prepare for Mad City 100k on 4/10. Since I have never run or trained for a road event I sought help and from what I am told Howard is the best! I know he is an accomplished athlete and coach and he is helping me stretch my comfort zone for sure…and I am for the first time ever learning about what “strides” are (among other traditional running lingo)…it’s fun!
I will leave Thursday after work to drive to Mt Cheaha 50k in /around Oxford, AL. Though I could do the drive just on Friday, I hope to get to the state park early enough on Friday to at least scout out parts of the trail…

The real hard-core folks will remain in, or travel to NC for the Mt Mitchell Challenge next weekend. Tons of snow and ice! Hard core. I am both disappointed and relieved not to be participating! I wish you all very well lots of tenacity, patience, safety and above all, an unrelenting sense of joy and adventure!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mud, champagne, cheesecake and running

Looking east out of our 8th floor window...

George and I just spent a very fun and diverse weekend in Greensboro, NC celebrating Valentine’s Day. We choose Greensboro based on my positive experiences last year running a trail half marathon  on Saturday and a low key road marathon on Sunday. The trail run also offered an 8k and the park where the marathon took place provided mountain bike trails.

We found a great Valentine’s Day deal at the Downtown Marriott for Saturday night-inclusive of dinner for 2 and a bottle of champagne. The hotel also featured an indoor pool and hot tub.

George decided to run the 8k on Saturday and bring his mountain bike stuff for Sunday.

Friday evening, coming home from work, I found UPS had delivered on of Montrail’s new models for 2010: The Sabino Trail. I tried on the shoe-it seemed to fit well, so I decided to test in out during Saturday’s 13.1 mile run.

George and I left home at 5:30am. Usually the drive to east Greensboro would be just shy of 2.5 hours, yet the snowfall from Friday night left roads slick and traffic slow. We arrived at Northeast Park at 8:30am. George’s 8k was to start at 9am and the ½ marathon (shorted to 16k due to high waters of the creek crossings), at 9:30.

Only a handful of us wore shorts-George and I included. I marveled at how dressed some folks were! I expected as the morning unfolded, we’d get much warmer-and we did!
The run started out on approx 4/10 mile road to spread out the field before descending to snow covered trails. During the course of the morning, some parts stayed snow packed, other parts gave way to slushy mud or great trenches of mud. I didn’t want to fall. Not scared of getting dirty-yet my hands were toasty warm in my new Saucony Ulti mitts with hand warmers tucked inside-and I didn’t want to ruin my rare hand warmth by getting wet in a mud slicket. The race was great fun-because of the weather, I expect, the turnout was much smaller than last year…Still it was fun to bounce over logs and roots and scamper and slide up mud slopes…I was thrilled with the way my new shoes performed. All over the mud I saw evidence of shoe print wipe outs and was thankful to have shoes with great traction on this snow/slush/mud/root combo! As the hundreds of feet tromped the mud and snow-the more technical it became.

The 16k was the 8k course 2x. I finished loop 1 in 42:07 and loop 2 in 1:24:22ish. George said he took about 6 minutes longer than my 1st loop for his 8k. He reported having a blast also-and wound up 2nd in his age group. Jason Bryant was 1st guy in the 16k and I took the gals spot.
I am pointing to George's prize of a Ground Hog warm hat in his pocket!

Sensible risk taking-wearing these Sabino Trails straight out of the box worked great! (After I have worn them on more varied surfaces and for a longer period of time, I 'll be more informed and will share more)

After cleaning up the best we could after the run (I used melting, dripping snow off the picnic shelter's roof to help clean my shoes and legs), we headed to our accommodations for a very early check in.

Our room at the Marriott was small, yet clean and regal. After showers we headed to the pool and hot tub and passed an hour there before sorting out plans for the afternoon: we’d see a movie!

This might not sound like an uncommon event-yet for George and I –I think the last movie was saw in a theatre was Lord of the Rings…it is an every 3 or 4 year event for us. We watched AVATAR in 3D . Arriving 20 minutes late, we were pleased to take our seats just as the last of the ads and previews were finishing up.This movie was at  times a  very fun movie-if not totally predictable-yet entertaining, with a sensitive message and more than a touch of sad reality… and the film fed my imagination. The way the blue people jump and frolic in their woods/jungle is the way I feel often when I am single track running in the mountains. Joyous!
Goofing in with our 3D glasses

Later, back at the hotel, we enjoyed our champagne and fish dishes we chose from the Valentine’s menu. After watching some Olympics and agreeing the day was great we had a great rest in the comfy King bed.

Next day, was clear and sunny.

Sunrise out of our room window...

Not quite warm at 23 degrees at 10am, marathon start time at Country Park. The wind made it seem much cooler. I was pleased to see the race grow from last year. Lots and lots of teams-and perhaps 10 solo runners. The course is rolling-16 laps along a 1.6 mile loop-with the 1st lap being longer to make a genuine 26.2 mile course. For the solo runners, it is a Boston Qualifier. I cared none about that and was looking forward to doing a long training run out of the snow and with others around me. I wanted to work on my pacing and try to stay steady. While I ran, George rode his bike and after a few hours, appeared again, very muddy!

My experience out there was fine…I started out faster than I should have-I was chilled and rushed the warming up…also, I figured because I had so many calories the night before, I didn’t need as much breakfast as usual and I sort of calorie bonked on lap #7. I took in calories and fluid during the next 2 laps and got my positive attitude and energy back by loop #10. At this point, although I was enjoying myself, the day felt like work-I was putting in quality time on feet, working on running strong and smart and Not racing. I was sore from the day before and likely feeling the subtle effects of dinner and wine and champagne…yet this is what “putting the hay in the barn” is all about. Finally going into lap # 16, my last lap, I was ready to run as strong as I could. I knew I’d just passed one of the few solo runners ahead of me-and thought there was just one more left-yet I had no idea where he was. After a few minutes I saw him walking up one of the tiny hills.

 I knew he and his buddy had trained for the flat Myrtle Beach Marathon which was canceled due to snowy road conditions the day before-so they (and other runners too) drove up to use their training in this one to try for Boston. I had an instinct as I passed him on the downhill to ask him to run with me-yet if the hills were his nemesis, then I didn’t want to bother him about it either. As it was he finished only 54 seconds behind me. This course was a little long-race results reported the actual distance being 26.5 miles. A tiny ultra marathon!

My finishing time was 3:19:37, (1st overall-cool-yet remember, a tiny field!) Slowest lap was at 15ish miles when I refueled (7:51 pace) and fastest-the last one w/ a 7:02 pace.

After walking around for a little while we headed out for pizza. I had a gift certificate to Pie Works and we easily found this “upscale” pizza/pasta place. We ordered a whole wheat crust pie with roasted garlic and green peppers. We drank bottles of beer as we waited for the garlic to roast and for what turned out to be a unique and yummy version of pizza.

We both concluded the weekend was a success. We both had tons of fun and were together! As a bonus, I got in some excellent training and we got away from the High Country snowy winter weather for a couple of days!