Friday, August 15, 2014

Boom, Clap

Next up in the series of race weekends was the last weekend of July, which served as a random mid-summer's marathon weekend.

Out in Oregon, Dustin Meeker and Melissa Tanner had quite the adventure to get to the Eugene Marathon, but once they did it was business time. Dusty, clearly in the marathon shape of his life, had ambitions of a sub 2:30 time. His setup was perfect: chill first 10k, started to pick it up to 20, incredibly consistent splits. The last 10k - as they often do in a marathon - got tough, but he held on and finished up in 5th overall at 2:30:32. Huge new PR and a fantastic result for him. In the women's race, Melissa finished 9th and ran her miles like clockwork, basically even-splitting her way to a 2:55:20.

On the exact opposite end of the continent, Matt Franco and Allison Letourneau were tackling the Nova Scotia Marathon, putting their eggs in the "Canada is cool in July so it'll be easier to qualify for Boston" basket. Franco's story has made the rounds by now, but we'll just say it featured a solid 20 miles, and really tough last 10k after he stopped to go to the bathroom. Speaking from experience, unless you feel absolutely amazing, going to the bathroom that late in the race does nothing but drop a piano on you. While Franco had a rough go, Allison shuffled her way to a 3:33, good enough for 4th and a Boston qualifying time!

Other recent results included:

Megan DiGregorio's Rosaryville 50k win (and course record); Conrad Laskowski finished 14th at the Crystal City Twiligher 5k (15:26) and Andy Sovonick was 36th in 16:22 - side note, this race, a week after Rockville Twilight, is probably one we should look into. Very good competition and hear it's well-organized.

And of course a shout to Brennan Feldhausen, who tore up the Diamond in the Rough Triathlon a week or two ago.

This week's Purple Drink Athlete of the Week went to Dusty.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Just One of the Guys

As it's been pointed out, the blog has been quiet recently. Not because people haven't been racing, but honestly because I haven't had time. SO GET OFF MY BACK.

Just kidding. But seriously, I just haven't had the time. And then you know how it goes when you miss one week, it's easier to just miss a bunch of weeks. What I'm going to do is a series of hopefully reasonably short posts with just the highlights, let them hang out up top for a day and then push them down.

This is going to be all about Rockville Twilight 8k. A longstanding tradition among our group in particular, it really is one of the best summertime races out there. With the exception of one year when a tri I was doing conflicted, I've been out there since 2005 - but have only run it 3 times. The race is generally associated with oppressive heat and humidity, and last year's event was canceled after a lightning storm wouldn't move out of the way.

Like the rest of this summer has been, race day came and the forecast was for temps in the low 80s, and by race time it was maybe the 2nd nicest day I've seen in the last decade (behind 2009). This meant fast times were on tap!

Up front, Conrad Laskowski looked determined to race hard from the gun. With a handful guys faster than him, he gritted out a 25:25 8th place finish. Graham Peck, who seemingly never runs this fast in training, blasted a near-PR 25:44 for lucky #13. Our third finisher was Nick Gehlsen, who ran a solid 26:33. Now that should have been our scoring three but apparently in the team results C-Rad was conveniently left off...get to that later.

Next 3 were Andy Sovonick, who ran an absolutely great race to run his fastest time on the course (26:59) followed closely by the Prime Minister of Swag himself, Sean Caskey, in 27:05. That's a great first crack at Rockville, and a fine Falls Road debut. There were a few other notable male performances: Erik T. Orberg, in off-season form, ran a solid 27:37; the wolfpack of Ed Aramayo, Terence Baptiste and Brennan Feldhausen all...finished; and to toot my own horn, I ran 30:11. Not that this is spectacular, but my times here have been: 30:24 (2005), 30:03 (2007), 30:03 (2008). So, at least I'm pretty consistent, and technically I ran faster at 32 and broken than I did at 23 and slightly less broken.

Once upon a time, I actually used to beat Chrissie Ramsey...

Now she wipes the floor with me. Fortunately, I'm not the only one. In 2009 Chrissie won Rockville in a PR of 27:15. It was easily one of the best performances I've ever seen, maybe for her only topped by a 1:14:57 half marathon and 2:44 NYC Marathon. Earlier this year she won the other Rockville-based race, Pike's Peek 10k, and despite moving out of Baltimore we'd hoped she would come race again to cement her status as Queen of Rockville Pike. Just a day before the race I finally found out that she was racing (don't get me started on this!) so I couldn't make sure she was added to the team roster, but she looked ready to go on the start line. She also started campaigning for the Brita Grothe B.A. Award, wearing the tiniest Brooks bottoms we've ever seen.

Chrissie ripped along the course, ultimately finishing 3rd but in a very good time - 27:25, just 10 seconds off her fastest 8k time. For team purposes, Kiera Harrison was our first finisher, 8th in 30:16, and then we had what I thought was the surprise performance of the day come from Kaylyn Peck. Kay ran 31:32 for 11th, which was about a minute faster than I realistically thought she might run. With teams scoring 5 (3M/2F), Kaylyn helped seal our team victory!

As always, it was a fun night down in Rockville, and many thanks to our hosts Montgomery County Road Runners. This race is one of my favorites and is one I always look forward to each summer. Post-race was much less congested this year, and a bunch of us went to Ted's Big City Diner afterwards for late night breakfast food. It ends up being a pretty late night by the time we get back to Baltimore, but it's worth it for a race that brings the team together!

Earning the Purple Drink Athlete of the Week was Chrissie, and Kaylyn won the KC Masterpiece Award this week.

Friday, August 1, 2014

56 minutes of running in Kenya

In case anyone wanted to watch the BBC David Rudisha special, "100 Seconds to Beat the World: The David Rudisha Story," here it is: 100 Seconds to Beat the World

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Rockets Red Glare

Independence Day. A day many associate with hot dogs, fireworks and the beach. Or for some, an eating contest that rewards overindulgence on nitrate-laced pork byproduct, loud bright explosions and traffic.

Either way, it's AMERICAN and gosh darnit, you'll freaking like it!

And while summer has technically just started, it generally signifies the halfway point of summer, because from here on it, it's going to fly by faster than Maverick buzzing the tower.

Naturally, there are some races held annually on Independence Day, and they attract reasonable sized crowds. The Arbutus Firecracker 10k is a tough course, but top 3 in each age group are rewarded with cash prizes. Erik Anderson was the overall winner in 33:14, and Matt Franco was 9th in 36:06. I originally missed Franco's result because his last name was listed as "France". Dave Berardi ran 37:24 and Joel Gladfelter came in at 38:08.

For the ladies, Megan DiGregorio was 3rd in 39:35 and Suzanne Hurst was 5th at 42:03. Denise Knickman wasn't far behind in 6th at 42:41.

Dundalk has a Heritage Festival that lasts a week and, prior to their parade, racers jump out for a 6k along the parade route. Winning this year's event - in jorts and a t-shirt that read "turn up for America" - was Sean Caskey. He ran 21:05 and then he and his 5 friends proceeded to consume 90 cans of drink. They truly turned up for America. PJ Anderer was 11th in 24:29 and Jen Sheely was 2nd F in 26:29.

Elsewhere there were some great results, such as Tom Stott's 19:41 at the Autism Speaks 5k. Great to see Tommy Stott getting back into action. Another result I missed in the email was Amy Horst's Firecracker 4 Mile in Wisconsin, where she held 6:12 pace and finished 5th in 24:51.

But the race of the day and winner of our Purple Drink Athlete of the Week was Justin Gerbereux, who ran 30:18 to finish 9th at the Southampton Firecracker 8k.

A lot of races with the word Firecracker.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sky Full of Stars

The last weekend in June means we've reached (and passed) the halfway point in the year! As I'm writing this today with a temperature over 90 degrees and "real feel" of approximately 273 Kelvin (science nerds, is that a lot?) it would be hard to believe that at one point this year we had a polar vortex.

On one of the greatest days of the year (Indiana Jones Day) we also saw the running of Dreaded Druid Hills 10k, and what great conditions we had for that! Jim and the Falls Road crew put on another fantastic event and thanks to so many of you who came out and volunteered in the morning. Races can't go on without your help!

In the race, Ian Clark finished 4th in 37:34, and Cory Donovan surprised himself after a week on antibiotics for an infection. He finished 9th in 42:24. Johnny Lyons was just behind in 42:45, and PJ Anderer came through at 45:14. Sara Damiano was our top (and only) lady and she finished 3rd!

Sunday was the inaugural Challenge USA in Atlantic City. It's an ironman distance, without being an Ironman. #Politics #amirightbros. Alyssa Godesky had a terrific race, posting her fastest iron distance bike and run splits (3:36 marathon) en route to an overall distance PR of 10:09:25. Most important, by finishing 4th she earned her first prize purse paycheck as a professional triathlete! Pretty cool, and that was good enough to earn her this week's Purple Drink Athlete of the Week.

As mentioned in the email, we had two different workouts for the track yesterday: one if Team USA won, one if they lost. Ultimately due to the incredibly hot and humid conditions we opted for the shorter workout (despite the Team USA loss). I have to say, don't think it was any easier really as people were pretty wiped by the end!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Patapsco - Sunday, 6/29, 8am

What: Long Run
When: Sunday, June 29, 8:00 a.m.
Where: Patapsco (Rolling Road trailhead)

For those interested in a non-serious long run, be at the trailhead R2R (ready 2 run) at the late start time of 8:00 a.m. I'll be running between 1:45 and 2:00, so somewhere between 14 and 16 miles in there. Route will be challenging, pace will be "in the 7's".

If it's too slow/fast/short/long don't let that discourage you. Show up and feel the camaraderie of a fun long run on the trails.

If anyone feels like running shorter and a little slower, my brother is going to be in town and I'd guess 90 minutes around 8:30-9:00 is probably his wheelhouse right now. He knows the trails.

So come, it'll be fun.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

How many PBJs can you eat in a day? When you ride north of 125 miles with 16,500 feet of climbing, apparently a lot.

It looked like an Alpine stage of the Tour de France, but it was right here in Maryland - the Garrett County Gran Fondo featuring the Diabolical Double. And while it may have just been overcast here in Baltimore (and at least 70 degrees), out in the mountains it was wet and cold, with extended periods of cold rain and generally very high humidity. This made for not only a long, soggy day, but also a dangerous one on the slick, twisty descents.

For both Mike Mashner and Andy Sovonick, this ride would be the longest they've ever ridden, and easily the hardest. Up and down, up and down, all day long. Over the course of a day like that, you're bound to run the gamut of physical and mental well-being. While the event was not officially a "race" they did time 5 climbs for the KOM competition. The climbs were brutal, unrelenting, and when you thought you were done with one, it kicked up some more. The last 1.5 miles or so were beyond vertical as riders ascended back to the top of the Wisp ski resort. A tough way to finish, for sure, but that's how a boss would do. After many, many hours, the ride was over and the 3 hour drive back to Baltimore commenced.

In the KOM competition, Andy finished 55th and Mike was 86th out of 576 or so. Our friend Michelle Miller was the 3rd fastest female in the ride, and had the fastest split among the ladies on the final climb (by nearly 30 seconds!).

Props to these guys, who earned the Dr. K Toughness Award.

Other events from the weekend included Stephanie Granlund's great half ironman at Syracuse. A couple of months ago the idea of a half ironman seemed like a daunting task. With distances that long, it's never an easy day, and her preparation for it had to be focused. She nailed it, and finished the race strong. Also in Syracuse was Jon Michel, who was marginally disappointed to not earn a slot to the 70.3 World Championship, but was pleased with how the race went. I saw him on the street yesterday morning and his comment was that his butt was sore.

The Baltimore Women's Classic boasts a big field and often quite competitive one. Kiera Harrison took 3rd in 18:09, and Carol Smith finished 4th at 18:22, just a split second ahead of Megan DiGregorio. Christa Wagner ran a terrific race, running an even 20:03 - bummed that she didn't slip under 20 minutes! She led in Denise Knickman (20:13) and Marci Benda (20:19). Kate Finley crossed at 20:38 and Jen Sheely finished in 21:29.

But our Purple Drink Athlete of the Week went to Joel Gladfelter. For as long as I've known Joel, there have only been two races that have mattered: Boston Marathon (which he has no shot of ever winning) and Z's race. Named after Joel's running mentor, the Irv Zablocky Memorial Run is an annual footrace held in Hughesville (or wherever), Pennsylvania. For years it was Joel's white whale; the race he could never seem to win. He would finish in the top 5, maybe as high as runner-up to his friend, but could never get across the line first. As he got older, the light he was chasing dimmed. Until last year, when the race moved from its previous 3.55 mile distance to a 5k. Now, I don't know if it was that, or divine intervention, but whatever got into Joel that day propelled him to the win.

Joel was back this year to defend, but realized he wasn't in great shape. On Tuesday he ran a 5k in 18:21. No way that would be good enough on Saturday. Battling a rising high school senior with a 10:10 3200m PR, Joel got dusted at the start. It took him 2.5 miles to claw his way back to evens with the youngster, and it was Joel's racing savvy that opened the door for the win in 16:48. Awesome, awesome job. And if you've seen any of the pictures (all on the race's FB page) you can see just how hard he was working. That's how hard he is always working, I've never seen anyone able to turn themselves inside out like Joel. Great job buddy.