Wednesday, April 9, 2014

In need of some jerks

Hi friends. My Reach The Beach team is in need of three speedy people (1 guy and 2 girls). Last year we finished first in our division and second overall with an average pace of 6:02, and they're hoping to improve on that even more this year. It's a really fun, unique way to get in some workouts if you're training for a fall race. The relay is September 12-13 in New Hampshire. Entry fee is $120. Other expenses will be relatively low (just food, vans, etc) because lodging will be free, so aside from that you'd just need to worry about getting there.

Email me or leave a comment if you're interested and/or would like more info. Link to the event website is in the title. The team name is "Competitive Jerks."

-Meg

P.S. Feel free to make your own joke re "needing some jerks."

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Blowing Up

“Every race there’s some hard decision you have to make, and mine was right around 5-K where I said I’m going to go with this group and see what happens,” [Christo] Landry said in his post-race interview. ”I might blow up, but if you don’t take chances, why are you out there?”

An excerpt from David Monti's Cherry Blossom recap, via Race Results Weekly/LetsRun.com.

Landry was the top US finisher at Sunday's Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, which served as the USA 10 Mile Championship.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pumpin' Blood

The manic nature of the days lately is getting to be a little much! As I said in the email, Sunday's race day weather ranks among the worst days I've ever experienced, with temperatures in the low 40s (and dropping), torrential (cold) rain, and flash flooding on every road.

Perhaps the Biblical rain we experienced was all part of guerilla marketing efforts to promote the new movie "Noah" - but either way it made the performances all the more impressive.

Carly Page last ran the B&A Trail Half in 2012, when the day was much kinder to runners. This year she came into the race a little worn down, having cracked some ribs following a long coughing fit a few weeks back. Given the circumstances, nobody would have faulted her for not running. But she put on the SICKEST OUTFIT OF ALL TIME (no pics because it was raining) and a happy face, and just got after it. The race was all but decided from the gun; Katie Ogden, formerly of Towson, blitzed the start and amassed a large lead, which she nursed all 13.1 miles. After settling into a rhythm, Carly rolled some great splits out (with the wind) and back into the wind as the rain pelted. For her efforts she was rewarded with a 2nd place and a solid March 30th time of 1:27:58.

Sara Damiano had "the look" - like you knew she was ready to go. Nothing was going to get in her way. Unfazed by the conditions, she marched down the trail, ticking off a relentless tempo and getting to the line in a new personal best of 1:35:49. Sara D has had an amazing string of results over the past 6 months or so, and it's been fun to watch.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ironman Los Cabos (MEX) was bright and sunny. And hot. Kona-like conditions are something that Alyssa Godesky has become quite accustomed to over the past few years, but this race was a little different. It was her first triathlon as a professional! No longer "just" racing for age group wins or Kona slots, Alyssa was going up against the big shots, competing for money (and awareness). Following the splits throughout the day, they were incredibly even, and her method of steady racing was able to propel her to a 13th place finish in the pro field in a time of 10:22 - 30 minutes faster than her race there last year! Her marathon split of 3:39 was only a minute off her best IM run.

Coming back locally, Graham Peck and Megan DiGregorio were dual winners at the Dundalk Challenge 5k, and Joel Brusewitz raced as well. On the rubber oval, Ed Aramayo started, and finished, his outdoor racing campaign in the 1500m at the Widener Invite.

Our Purple Drink Athlete of the Week selection went to Carly!

And two KC Masterpiece Awards went to Emily Hurley, who ran her long run and significant portion of Carly's race with her; and Dan Miranda, who braved the elements to cheer on runners in a number of spots along the way, with a BOOT on.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Space Between

While most can agree on one thing (we're all fed up with winter), my take is a bit different. It's made you warriors, champions, ready to race. Seriously, the race results we've seen so far in 2014 have been some of the best ever in spite of the miserable weather. So pat yourself on the back, but don't rest on your laurels too long; there's work to be done yet.

Since her move to Charlottesville at the beginning of the year, Alyssa Godesky has been consistently cranking out week after week of insane volume and increased intensity. Unfortunately for multisport, ours is not a winter activity unless you want to travel. She headed to North Caroline for the Grandover Parkway Duathlon over the weekend - a 4 mile run, 20 mile bike, 4 mile run. She thinks the run may have come in around 3.95 miles, but her 24:23 first run would still equate to about a 6:10 pace, which would easily have resulted in an open 5k personal best. She was 2nd F heading into transition, but passed the leader and never looked back as she opened a big gap on the bike. She ran 25:44 for her second run and held on for a minute victory. She heads this weekend to Ironman Los Cabos for her professional triathlon debut.

Travel last week interfered with Erik T. Orberg's plans to run the National Half, and with a marathon coming up he didn't feel that the Shamrock 5k fit the plan. So he targeted the Caesar Rodney Half in Delaware and came out of it with a 5th place finish and a shiny new (6 minute) PR! But let's be honest - that PR was pretty soft because he did, after all, run a 2:39 marathon in the fall. The 1:14:22 is more representative of the athlete he's become, and bodes well for a terrific marathon in Vienna.

Emily Hurley and Julie Wolfe wanted to get in a half marathon prior to Boston, but rather than stay close to here, where the chances of it being slightly warmer were greater, they elected to head north - way north - to Syracuse. It was below 20 degrees and snowing, so you can draw your own conclusions about how psyched they were about that! Emily finished 4th in 1:27:51 and Julie, well Julie "went for a long run" and came in at 1:42:10. I figure the snow and cold weather was the physical manifestation of disappointment and tears after #3 Syracuse got upended by #11 Dayton in the 2nd round.

This week's Purple Drink Athlete of the Week went to Erik T.

So far to start this week we've already had snow (Tuesday) and high winds with temperatures well below the norm. Hopefully that will change to bring us a bit of relief by the weekend, but who knows.

OH AND IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING ABOUT THE ANSWER TO THE POLL:

I WAS in a Classical Languages Honor Society (I took Latin)
I DID attend band camp (in 8th grade)
I HAVE been given detention (5th or 6th grade, it was bullshit)
but

I have NEVER been on a gymnastics team

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Take My Breath Away

It's no secret: I love spectating races.

Don't get me wrong, I love racing, too. But there are some weekends where the racing action is so intense, so exciting, that they have the ability to light a fire under everyone. When one person does well, it's cool. When dozens of people do well, it's a movement.

And that's precisely what this past weekend is. While I wouldn't rank it ahead of weekends like Boston, Baltimore, Rockville or Club Challenge, the Shamrock 5k is in the upper echelon of event weekends. This year we had people scattered all over, from the land of the pilgrims to the shores of Virginia.

Saturday was the race formerly known as the National Marathon and Half Marathon. The event organizer, who shall remain nameless, is fortunate that this race was established before they inherited it. The half is a fun race; you take a nice little trip throughout DC while experiencing a challenging hill in the middle. Then you get to take in one of my absolute favorite views: running head-on towards the Capitol. Max Hacker ran an incredible race, setting a personal best of 1:13:44. I'd say he's squarely on track for a grand performance at Boston. Chrissie Ramsey was in 2nd place at mile 11 before she came roaring back to win the race for the 2nd time in 3 years. Her time of 1:19:27 was a little slower than her time last year (1:18:45ish) which got her 3rd. A win is a win! Megan DiGregorio ran 1:23:26, which was about 23 seconds faster than she ran there last year. There were also big performances from Alley Firey, whose 1:48 was faster than she ended the 2013 season, and Stephanie Granlund, who ran an 11 minute PR and nearly broke 2 hours (2:00:14).

The marathon was highlighted by Curt Forst's 2:53:40. Ryan Dietrich finished at 3:06:43, and Dave Ploskonka guided his 3:10 group into a 3:09:44 finish. Dave Alianiello ran 3:48, and the milestone of the day went to Pete Mulligan, who ran his 50th marathon!

Sunday morning was a big one for Cory Donovan. He'd been targeting the Virginia Beach Shamrock Marathon since shortly after Chicago last fall. We all know Cory is a pretty enthusiastic guy to say the least, and his excitement was boundless throughout this miserable winter as he churned out week after week at 80+ mpw, recording a high week of over 90 miles. He was fit and ready to take on the race. He came through the half in 1:31, and ran well through 22, when the winds picked up and impeded his progress. He held onto finish at 3:11 and a two minute PR.

A couple of the guys headed up to Massachusetts for the New Bedford Half Marathon. To quote the locals, this is one wicked pissa of a race. Nate Brigham had an off day, running 1:13:30, but that was only good enough for 67th! And it's not like it's a cake course on a perfect day. No, it's hilly, and it was cold and windy. Nick Klastava has been In the Zone after kicking his season off with that GW 10k. He ran a 1:17:45 for a PR himself, and finished right with former Falls Road employee and now MA resident, Rory Jenkins.

And then it was time for the fastest 5k around, the Shamrock 5k. The race keeps getting bigger and bigger and the field gets clownier and clownier. But hey, it's still better than a Color Run, am I right? With a couple of the favorites out of commissions, due either to illness/injury or failure to register, it was anyone's race...or so we thought. From the gun Erik Anderson had the lead, and built it up to a comfortable margin as he cruised to the win in 14:46. But, giving chase behind was Dustin Meeker, who ran an incredible 15:05. This knocked out his old personal best of 15:17 set at last year's BAA 5k. 2nd place earned him some ducats and provided some confidence that his training is working!

Ed Aramayo was next up in 15:49 (6th) and Dan Miranda was 7th in 16:04. That's a 9 second PR for him, and it came on the heels of a 20 mile run the day prior. Jason Farber came in at 16:40, and I was really glad to see Arjun Majumdar have a strong run at 16:55. Kris Simms, another year older now, ran 17:04, and big Tom Stack finished at 17:25. Joel Brusewitz crossed the line about 10 pounds heavier than normal but managed a respectable 18:04 (hey, he and his wife just had a kid, I'd say it's okay). Jon Miller came through at 18:17 and Tom Stott, who hasn't raced in a year and a half after breaking the same bone in his foot twice last year, put forth a great effort to get under 19 minutes.

The ladies race was one for the ages. A year ago it was Melissa Majumdar taking the win in a new PR of 17:40, ahead of Meg D at 17:48. This year Meg wanted to regain her title, but she had her work cut out for her. With 1200m to go it was a pack of 4 women and looked like it could come down to a kick. Meg mitigated that circumstance and took the win in a new PR of 17:34 (the day after her 1:23 half!) and Melissa Tanner ran the fastest 5k for her in a few years, taking 2nd in 17:42. Amy Horst (running as Christa Wagner) hasn't been running a ton lately, so her 19:01 was somewhat of a surprise - but an awesome one! And Sara Damiano's 20:29 was a minute PR.

Incredible performances make me excited to get out and race. I will continue to patiently bide my time until my season kicks off, and in the meantime I'll just watch all of you!

We awarded this week's Purple Drink Athlete of the Week to Dusty. Then it got cold, and snowed again.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler

Whether you refer to it as Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, one thing's for sure:

It shouldn't be freaking 6 degrees on March 4th.

You know, it's funny what a young man recollects. I don't recall what I got for my first Christmas and I don't know when I went on my first outdoor picnic. I don't remember what the temperature was last year on Mardi Gras, but I remember it was February 12th, and there's no reasonable explanation that, on a date 3 weeks later, it had to be this cold.

In other news, it was Amy Horst's birthday, which apparently coincides with Mardi Gras every 11 years. That's pretty neat.

While Club Challenge already feels like it was a year ago, it was only last week. There were a handful of races this weekend, most notably the Tim Kennard River Run. This 10 miler somewhere out near Salisbury got the entire Peck family out racing. Graham has been on a tear recently, ripping this winter a new one. He loves winning, and he takes great joy in beating his friend in a one-up race. Graham and his friend Cam ran the first 4 miles before Graham's superior fitness took over. He began to separate himself, dropping 10+ seconds every 2 miles. He ran his last 2 miles in sub 5:10 pace, and crossed the finish line as the winner in a new PB of 52:47. For his effort, he earned the AutoZone In the Zone Award.

Megan DiGregorio had fun being the lone leader for the women, as she easily cruised to the win in a new personal best as well - 1:02:47. Denise Knickman finished 2nd in 1:07:30.

Kaylyn Peck completed the ladies' sweep, finishing 3rd. She ran with her dad Henry as the two crossed in 1:08:30. And Mrs. Peck crushed her Club Challenge time by 2 minutes, running 1:22.

Meanwhile, out in the desert, Collin Anderson ran the Phoenix Marathon. He was looking for redemption after last year, when supreme fitness was overshadowed by an ill-timed cold. He ran 2:50 last year, which was still pretty solid. This year he's had some terrific months of uninterrupted, uninjured training and that made a big difference. Despite some lousy conditions he made it to the race unscathed and finished 12th again, but this time in a huge new PB of 2:42:07!

This earned Collin the Purple Drink Athlete of the Week.

Quiet intermission weekend ahead as we begin to enter "spring" race season (doesn't feel much like spring). March 15/16 weekend is big, and Cherry Blossom is right around the corner. And, for once, it appears as if the peak cherry blossoms may not occur until AFTER the race!

Let the good times roll, y'all.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

You Better Work

You wanna hot body?
You wanna Bugatti?
You wanna Maserati?

You better work, bitch.

The team performance at Club Challenge was, in my opinion, the best I've ever seen. People ran huge personal bests and dug deep to pull out a 6th consecutive team win. But most important, as this race tends to do, it brought everyone together and provided a much-needed morale boost in what has been an absolutely draining winter.

My first Club Challenge was 2006. I went back into my running log, and well, here were my post-race thoughts:

"Very hilly, extremely challenging with the wind and my attitude was completely negative. Falls Rd was 2nd to HoCo, and I don't think I want to do this again."

Despite running an abysmal 1:04:10 with incredibly positive splits, I also remarked that I felt the course was at least 600m short. That may be a first - someone saying the course seemed short.

The race was canceled in 2007, and when we went back in 2008, we fought valiantly but came up short yet again. Finally, 2009 was our year, and we were able to come away with the Team Championship. Since then, we've been fairly dominant at this annual race, with 2012 being a highlight as we swept the entire competition. But, there have been some close calls, like 2013, when we lost the Men's and Women's Team title but came away with the Overall title by the slimmest of margins.

The face of the team has changed a lot over the years. In 2006, Spider Sillery and Chris Nowakowski went 1/2, and some of our top performers included Ryan Schmidt, Jake Marren, and Rodney Timpson. Part of the "challenge" of this event is rallying the troops for a race that ultimately isn't an "A" race. We get it - it's not a great time of year, the course is hard, there are more important races to prepare for. But this year we were missing our TOP 6 male scorers from 2013 and our top 2 women - who also happened to go 1/2 in the race.

Howard County, as we know, does not like losing on their home turf. And new this year was the inclusion of our friends from Georgetown Running Company. Besides the winter being annoying, it's been a few months since most people have raced so it's hard to gauge the fitness of the team. I knew people were working hard, and was confident they'd give their best - but would it be good enough?

The answer was a resounding yes. Conrad Laskowski took charge of the race, only relinquishing the lead at mile 8 to Luke Meyer (GRC). Conrad finished 2nd in a new PR of 52:40 (:15 faster than his winning 2012 time) and Graham Peck missed his 10 mile PR by just one second (53:27) as he finished 3rd. Ed Aramayo led the next pack as he finished a little under 57 minutes, and Steve Febish was right behind. Awesome work for Febish, who has been on the injured list most of the winter. Dan Miranda came up huge with his best race there in years, and he came in just ahead of first-timer Erik T. Orberg. One of the guys who came up really big today was Tim Burns. Tim ran like garbage here last year (1:02:38) and since he had to move to Chantilly for work, we haven't seen him much. But he came up huge. So did Max Hacker, who was unable to race last year due to injury. He even split the race, which is unreal. And Matt Franco closed out our scoring 9 as he finished under 58 minutes.

The next 3 acted as displacers: Nick Klastava (6 minutes faster than last year), Joel Gladfelter (59:25 = 1 minute PR), Brennan Feldhausen.

There were new scoring rules and new categories this year. GRC won the Men's Under 40 competition, but in the Men's Overall we managed to win by a 1 point margin. 1 point. That basically means any of the guys up front who finished ahead of a GRC runner, you reverse the positions and we get beat. Or if Brennan hadn't picked it up after going out at an easy 5 mile clip. Every runner counts, no matter where you are in the field. Always remember that!

The girls competition was going to be interesting. GRC didn't have enough to score as a team, so it would once again likely be a race between us and a reinvigorated Howard County. Through the first couple of scorers, we were going scalp for scalp. Megan DiGregorio started things off great, holding off HCS' 1st runner to finished 2nd (1:03:05). Emily Hurley ran a great race after just getting back from Africa. Sara Breedlove came up huge with a 1:04:50 (PR), 3 minutes faster than her best here. Carly Page put on her big girl pants to run a 50 second PR and really started to set the team apart. And how about Suzanne Andrews? Runs a 1:12 or something last year, comes out this year and runs 1:07:47. Huge! Denise Knickman pulled out some time from her 2013 result and came in under 1:08.

Close that out with displacers Christa Wagner and first-timer Julie Wolfe, and voila - Women's Under 40 and Women's Overall Team Champions!

Of course with the new scoring in place it's virtually assured that if you win both the Men's and Women's, you won't be beat in the Co-Ed/Overall Competition.

The performances of our scorers and displacers doesn't diminish anyone else's day, and there were some really great runs - especially from a bunch of Club Challenge first-timers. After a really cold week we were fortunate to have some relatively warm weather. Temps around 40 made it much more bearable. The support we had on course was tremendous, so big shout to:

Tom & Patty Stott, Andy Sovonick, Melissa & Tarala Majumdar, Cory Donovan, and Amy Flashenberg.

It's been fun to compete at this event every year, and to have been fortunate to be so successful, but of course any given year brings a new set of obstacles. I'm beyond proud of all your work to achieve this win, you should be too. Congrats team!

And while it was a difficult task to award a Purple Drink Athlete of the Week, I am keeping tradition of dual M/F PDAWs this week and was really impressed by Joel and Sara B. Joel absolutely attacked this race, despite him thinking he'd run 1:01, and as always dug deeper than seems possible to come up huge for himself, and the team. And Sara B, I mean to be the 3rd scorer and have a 3 minute course best, that's so clutch.