Thursday, February 26, 2015

I Wanna Rock With Somebody

Man, what a bummer about Club Challenge, huh?

As I trudged home from Mt. Washington on Saturday afternoon, the cancellation seemed validated - unlike that one year they canceled and no snow came. Indeed, it was a serious storm! Of the dozen or so of us who made it up to the store for Tom Stott's Running Clinic, most of us had to abandon our cars and take the Light Rail downtown and walk home from there. Unless you're a badass like TD, who ran back from Mt. Washington. Boss.

But without the race, there went 50 results for this week!

On Presidents Day, Fiana Kumm raced the Great Aloha Run in Honolulu (must be nice). In the 8.15 mile race she finished 6th in 50:24 - an astounding 6:12/mi!

Out in Wisconsin, snow was welcome for Erin Feldhausen and her American Birkebeiner 50k cross country ski race. She completed the event for the 4th straight year, finishing in 4:10:23.

And down in Birmingham, Alabama, Liz Laseter won the Superhero 5k (part of the Mercedes Marathon weekend) in 19:14. Great job!

Our Purple Drink Athlete of the Week went to Erin Feldhausen!

There hasn't been much racing going on lately, and a lot of events have been postponed or canceled, but in the previous two weeks of PDAW awards, they've gone to Jen Koshy and Kaylyn Peck. The ladies are certainly rocking it in 2015, having taken home 6 of the 8 available PDAWs!

For the second year in a row we seem to really be taking it on the chin with a late and extended winter. Fortunately, the end should be soon (or so some of you try to reassure me). And it better be, because spring racing is just around the corner. In fact, this weekend is MARCH! So we have some events happening and the forecast looks like it will cooperate.

And if you want to see some pics from the little Snow Day adventure that Graham, Ploskonka and I had on Saturday during our long trek home, check them out!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Club Challenge Canceled!

I sent an email to the folks who had registered for Club Challenge earlier today, informing them that the decision has been made to cancel the race. No word on whether it will be able to be rescheduled, or when that could possibly be. The decision was made by the Howard County Striders and the Howard County Police. Based on the anticipated weather conditions I'd say it's the right call. At this point we're able to at least make backup plans.

I'm bummed because I was looking forward to racing personally, but also because I love this team event AND we were going to get to debut our new singlets.

But don't fret, because there's always a Plan B!

Nothing can make up for the atmosphere of a race - but we're going to try. Since we had all planned on running 10 hard miles on Sunday, for those who are up for some fun, here's what we're going to do:
  • Meet at the Trade Center, warmed up, at 9:00am
  • Based on the numbers, we'll break into teams of 2-4, evenly split between M/F
  • Race a 6 mile, out-and-back course through the Harbor, Key Highway and out to the Fort
  • Fastest aggregate time will be our Champions
  • Go home, warm up and regroup for a celebratory brunch like we otherwise would have!
Now I realize that some of you may not want to do this, or may have other workout plans in mind - totally fine. This is optional and if the weather happens to be actually bad, check back here to make sure we're still a go. But I figure you're going to run that day anyway, may as well have some fun with it!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Coach's Corner: Remember to Enjoy It

Most of you are probably not familiar with Brett Sutton, and you'll likely never hear his name come up in conversation. He's a triathlon coach, known for pushing his athletes really hard, his occasionally abrasive personality, and his nearly indecipherable language skills. He's coached some of the world's top triathletes to amazing results, while others have not responded as favorably to his program.

His CV is neither here nor there; the only reason I bring it up is because I think his recent post, Triathlon Training: Consistency vs Adaptability, is something we should all take a couple of minutes to read and absorb.

Here are a few of the main takeaways:
  • Being hyper-focused on achieving our sporting goals can have a negative impact on us, particularly if it's causing anxiety.
  • Consistency is important, but adaptability is the critical element in a training plan.
  • Missing a training session (or two) has no negative effect on the long term plan, and that "pushing through" offers little to no benefit.
  • Don't cram missed sessions in elsewhere.
The last paragraph really struck a chord

[Don't] be slaves to anything. Enjoy your chosen sport. It’s a great one. But to be successful you need to work with your circumstances, not fight them. Because if you’re fighting them they’ll eventually win and one day you’ll be with a group of people and the subject of triathlon will come up and you will say, ‘yeah, I used to do that!’ instead of still enjoying your hobby.

I'll be the first to admit I'm guilty of this. I've treated this sport - which is a hobby I choose to do - as if it were the only thing in the world. I've tied my self-worth to it, I've been depressed because of it. I've felt like a piece of shit for missing an arbitrary training session and have used the words "I have to do XX" more times than I would care to count.

I bring this up today because I see a lot of people heading down that same road - and sometimes we need to hear it more than once, and from people other than our friends and training partners. The cool thing is, none of us is every going to make our living solely from racing and training, so that's one less thing to worry about!

If you're not enjoying what you're doing - don't do it!

It's great to have goals; I have plenty. It's important to have them, and to challenge yourself to be the best you that you can be. But you've got to be reasonable, too. Beating yourself up because you didn't hit an arbitrary time goal for your hobby just isn't productive.

Like Coach Sutton says, there's consistency, and there's adaptability. Every workout/session should have a purpose. It's good to be consistent, but missing a session isn't the end of the world - nor should you cram to make it up. If you wanted to run 6 miles today and you ran 4, don't tack on 2 extra miles to your run tomorrow. They're gone. Let it go.

And if you want to go to a happy hour, or hit the Tiki Barge, or shoot just want to take a nap after work one day - do it. If you feel it's more productive for you to do that than burn another match and put yourself in a hole, who's stopping you?!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Surf City, USA

Besides the Matchbox 20k "race" we held over the weekend, we did actually have people racing.

Nicole Wilson ran a 3:03:53 at the Columbus Marathon back in October, at the time a personal best. She didn't take much of a break after that, going onto run a 1:23 half in mid December. Nicole's goal was the Surf City Marathon on February 1st, an unusual time of year for East Coast runners to look to peak.

Her training paid off on Sunday in a big way - not only did she finish 2nd, but she ran a 2:54:34! A 9+ minute PR, and it landed her at #5 on our Top Ten list!

As if there was going to be any competition, she easily earned this week's Purple Drink Athlete of the Week.

Interestingly, the DiGregorios also chose the Surf City race for a family race-cation. Meg D ran 1:27:19 and Justine, in what may have been her first half (at least to my knowledge) ran a 1:32:33. Then I'm sure they got more than a full day's supply of Vitamin D.

Tom Stott ran the Country Roads 5M in MoCo, finishing 19th in 32:24.

Meanwhile, at Sunday's Katy Perry concert, this happened:

Left Shark looks quizzically as Katy Perry makes a hand gesture

Matchbox 20k

Typical 90s band album cover
The first, and last, Matchbox 20k took place this past Saturday. A hearty group of 15 gathered for what was essentially a hard long run at Patapsco. The trails were generally less covered in snow and ice than I thought they might be, but MTB tracks had frozen to form ankle-breaking ruts and left all of us feeling pretty beat up by the end.

In the car ride down, we listened to a MB20 mix-tape, and when the girls rolled up, Meg McNew had an autographed, framed head shot of Rob Thomas. At the moment they arrived, "Smooth" came on (although technically not an MB20 song).

We jogged over to the start at Gun Road and after a few words we got going. Halfway down the first trail, a couple of people took off while the rest of us formed into little groups. The first challenge came just after a mile in when we had to climb Bull Run. Graham was carrying little speakers with him and had tried to force MB20 to play on a Pandora station by "thumbs-upping" similar songs. As we finally got to Vineyard Springs, 2 miles in, once again we heard "Smooth."


We headed across the river and up into the Orange trail, popping back out at the swinging bridge before entering the Dragon's Spine (note: this is not my name but it sounds cool, apparently it's the name of a Strava segment according to Zero). We came back down via the waterfall and then re-entered the Orange trail.

Finally, it was time for Gun Road. I was pretty cooked at this point and managed a 7:44, which, all things considered, wasn't too bad. Far from my best this year but not a bad run. In the end, we'd all been torched by Jeff Rumbaugh, who took the lead early and never relented. Then it was Nick Gehlsen and Graham Peck. The ladies took a little detour so they did a slightly different route and were next through.

Shout to all who came out and ran this fun little race: Brian Benda, Mike Mashner, Will Thompson, Terry Decker, Matt Franco, PJ Anderer, Jon Miller, Suzanne Andrews, Meg McNew, Bryn Burkholder, and Thom Ripley. Special shout to Nick Klastava who was our on-course cheer section slash photog. Breakfast at the Taneytown Deli afterwards hit the spot, and guess what? We heard "Smooth" again.

Here's some links to my photo album on Flickr and the YouTube Playlist.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Rob Thomas Says...

Come on over! Down to the corner, my sisters and my brothers, of every different color

"I can't wait for the Matchbox 20k tomorrow!" ~ Rob Thomas
Celebrating 20 years of one of America's - nay, the world's - greatest bands, Matchbox Twenty.

The start time is 8:30am at the intersection of S. Rolling Road at Gun Road. Make sure you have your trail legs because it's a really challenging route, and we're not sure of the condition of the trails. We have over a dozen registered so far and while I expect groups to form, this will be much more of a "hard long run" than a "race."

Breakfast to follow at a TBD location, probably in Catonsville.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

All About It

Another week gone in January and all of a sudden we're almost in February! We're a month into official winter and compared to 2014, it really hasn't been that bad.

2015 is off to an amazing start. We've seen some of the best early-season performances we've ever seen. One that I missed last week was Matt Jablonski's WIN at the University of Washington Preview meet in the 3000 meter race. In this YouTube video posted by Loyola Blakefield, you can watch the last 45 seconds or so of the race, where Matty Blaze unleashes a massive kick that helps him take down none other than German Fernandez as he crosses the line first:

Then it was onto this past weekend, where I should have gone to Miami. Indeed, not only is the Miami Half Marathon one of my favorite weekends of the year, but Miami was also host to the MISS UNIVERSE pageant. Kicking myself for not going.

Pete Mulligan ran the marathon there, and I assume he was pacing the 4:40 group as he finished at 4:38 something. Then there's Megan DiGregorio. Earlier in the week I thought Meg D was coming to our Club Challenge workout. When I asked her if she was coming on Saturday, she replied with "I'm actually in Miami running the half tomorrow" - ?!?!?! Our little jetsetter friend must have booked a last minute flight and decided she needed a little Vitamin D. She finished 4th in the half in a perfectly fine time of 1:23:53 (chip), but still complained about it.

A Miami veteran himself, Terence Baptiste ran the Fred Lebow Manhattan Half Marathon in Central Park. The conditions were cold and there was plenty of snow on the ground, but T ran a 1:22:16 - a great January time for him! And it was good enough to earn him this week's Purple Drink Athlete of the Week.

Saturday we saw the return of Denise Knickman to competitive racing, as she won the BRRC Frozen Fingers 5M in 34:10.

And out in Green Bay, a result I forgot to include in the email, Brennan Feldhausen was racing a marathon relay on Saturday. It was originally slated to take place on a 450m indoor track (it's around an ice skating track). Teammates could swap out whenever they felt like it. I think he said that they were going to do it on an outdoor track after the temperature hit 46 that day (warmer than here!)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Club Challenge Workout Postponed

Due to the predicted wintry mix for tomorrow (Saturday), I'm going to postpone our Club Challenge workout. It's one thing to go for a run in it, it's another to put a bunch of cars on the road unnecessarily.

A few of us are planning on just bumping back by a day and running the workout on Sunday. Depending on the output of tomorrow's weather, this may end up just being canceled as Howard County tends to stay a little icier than we do.

From my early conversations it looks like the girls are going to aim for a February 7th (Saturday) workout down there and I've suggested to the guys we could put something on that day.