Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Lights Run 2k14

It's the most wonderful run of the year!

Join us tonight at 6:30pm from the World Trade Center in the Harbor for a run up to Hampden to see the lights on 34th Street.

The pace is very chill, and the group is big so there's always someone to run with. We'll take Charles Street up around the Monument, and then take Fallsway to the switchbacks by the Stieff Silver Building. Keswick to 34th and boom we're there.

We always take 10-15 minutes to check out the lights. Tonight is not as warm as it was last year which is a bummer, but it's not freezing at least! On our way out we'll pop over to St. Paul and take that straight down to where we started.

If memory serves it's probably 7.5-8 miles roundtrip from the WTC, so plan accordingly!

Dress is Christmas-chic and if someone or someones have their phone for pics, that would be cool!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Go Navy! Beat Army!

College football's best rivalry - yes, I said "best" - is this Saturday in Baltimore:

It's the Army-Navy game!

Under Armour is hosting a race on Saturday morning, and the winner will earn tickets to the game! Here's the details:

UA Game Ball Fun Run
Saturday, December 13
10:00 a.m.
Under Armour Brand House, Harbor East
Distance: 1.39 miles

There is no entry fee for the race - simply show up at 10am, sign a waiver, pick up your FREE shirt and the race starts at 10:30. It's a race over the connecting bridges and around a couple of the piers, ultimately finishing at Rash Field, where that "sports network" is hosting their pre-game television program.

That's all I know. I assume, but am not certain, that tickets are going to the fastest person. Not sure if it's M/F prizes. But, it's short, you get a shirt, and it's free!

I won't be able to make it on account of Celtic Solstice and USATF Club XC, but for those not running Celtic (or even if you are, this starts late enough that you could make it) it should be pretty fun. Team UA Run's Frezer Legasse will be the run leader.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Smoother Than a Fresh Jar of Skippy

I've got a confession:

I only have access to a computer and the Internet when I'm at work now that my laptop crashed and I have no Internet at home. So I typically piecemeal writing these things when I have a few minutes here and there. But, since it's the day before Thanksgiving and it's slow, I'm getting a lot done!

Last year, Richmond and Philly Marathons were the same weekend, which made for one awesomely exhausting road trip. This year they were back to having 8 days of separation, and it was back to the typical JFK50-Philly double. Saturday was the 51st anniversary of the assassination of the race's namesake, whose legacy of encouraging fitness as a lifestyle led ultimately to the creation of this race. It's the oldest continually run ultra in the US. In the town of Boonsboro, 15 miles west of Frederick, the race begins by climbing up South Mountain, before hitting the Appalachian Trail. This section is incredibly rocky, and staying upright is a challenge. After about 15 miles the runners exit the AT and pick up the C&O Canal towpath for a straight (flat) marathon. The last 8+ miles are on the road, and seem excruciatingly long. This year it was 16 degrees and the start. Graham was on scene supporting his dad and sister. Mr. Peck is a beast and finished in 7:42, beating his age (he finished 56th) and running not much slower than he did last year. Kaylyn struggled in the middle but stayed tough and found that little bit extra to finish strong in 8:33 for her first 50 miler. Josh Dawson had an excellent day, finishing 23rd in 7:02 (big PR) and Wookie Kim ran 8:17 for his first 50 miler.

Meanwhile, up in Philadelphia, a couple of the guys took to the streets for a fast and furious 8k. Once again they were led by Steve Febish, who finished 39th in 26:47. Tim Burns was 47th (27:49) and Dan Miranda and Nick Klastava were 49th and 50th, both in 27:58. Febish became the first person to complete the Philly Marathon trifecta, having run the marathon (2013) and half marathon (2012) in the past two years. He also raced Broad Street this year. Man really loves Philly!

The weather performed a little better by Sunday morning, with a race-time temperature of around 42 for the marathon and half. For those of us standing on the street, sun blocked by buildings and wind barreling down the avenues, it felt much colder. In a bit of a change-up, we didn't have anybody racing the half - it was all marathon or bust! First through was Sean Caskey, who was dripping with swag. Hitting the half in 1:17 high, the piano then fell squarely on his head as he ran a 1:30 back half to finish in 2:47:39 for 103rd place. Still, a 10 minute PR for him on just his 2nd attempt! Emily Hurley is a PTPer. Brings her A game whenever she steps out for a big one. I haven't seen much of her this year but always assume she's gonna bring that Uptown Funk. She ended up running 2:57:06 - missing her PR by just 13 seconds. When I looked back at the splits from MCM 2011, she hit the half in 1:27:06 and 20k in 2:04:27. In Philly she was 1:27:46 and 2:05:25, so she ran her last 8 miles faster by 45 seconds this time around. Incredible. And amazing! She was 21st.

Dr. Emily Shin, who in early October ran 3:10 at Twin Cities, pulled off something I haven't seen done very often: ran her second fall marathon faster than her first. She finished 53rd in a new PR of 3:06:45.  Jackie Range was all smiles on her way to a negative split 3:09:05, and PJ Anderer muscled through a 3:12:32 - not what he was hoping to run but all things considered, a pretty good day.

Bryn Burkholder came into this race with a whole lotta doubt. She didn't know how fit she was, her knees have been giving her a hella hard time, and she didn't expect she had any shot at being closer to her PR of 3:21. But she loves Philly. She used to live here, go to school here. Played basketball on the courts in West Philly. This year was her 10th time running the Philly Marathon, and you know what they say - 10 times is more of a charm than 3! Bryn hit the half in 1:41 before going on a rampage, negative splitting the second half and absolutely burning up the final 5k to finish in a new PR of 3:20:08. So close to that sub 3:20!

Elsewhere, Kevin McGrath ran 36:37 at the Manasquan Turkey Trot 5M, which is the fastest he's run in a couple of years. It may legitimately be faster than I can run right now. He and I will do battle this weekend as the Terps take on their new B1G rival, Rutgers, in College Park.

Diane Heiser scored a win at the Portola Turkey Trot 5k, and Brennan Feldhausen "won but lost" a prediction race in Wisconsin. The race got taken out by a 6th grade girl, and Brennan decided he would rather be way off on his prediction than get beat by an 11 year old.

Just a week off her fantastic half marathon, Lillian Pinault was right back at it, winning the Columbia Turkey Chase 10k in a 2 minute PR of 41:03. She had to stop to tie her shoes in the first mile, which probably cost her those precious couple of seconds. At least it wasn't 40:03. And Max Hacker won the Run for Shelter 10k in NoVA in 34:20, by 70 seconds. Wow!

The Purple Drink Athlete of the Week went to Emily Hurley.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Go Bananas

When the Richmond Marathon comes around, you know they 'bout to go bananas!

Dubbed "America's Friendliest Marathon," Richmond never lets you down. It's quietly moved its way up as one of the fall's premier races for our group, and you can see why: 90% of those who participate set PRs there.*

* I pulled that number out of the air, but it's actually probably pretty close based on the last 5 years' of results.

This year was no different, as we had two huge performances in the marathon and one gigantic race in the half!

Sara Damiano ran 3:31:04 last year, which was a 5 minute PR and resulted in her first ever Boston qualifying time. This year, unbeknownst to the city of Richmond, former capital of the Confederate, Sara D was about to go...bananas. Like Sherman marched through Atlanta, burning it to the ground, so too did Sara D blaze Richmond. She ran 3:22:51 - an 8+ minute improvement. It was simply incredible. And amazing.

In her 5th marathon, Stephanie Granlund was looking to go...bananas. Stephanie has improved by leaps and bounds this year, getting her half marathon time down to 2:00, which gave her the confidence to go out and run fast at Richmond. She even split her way to a 4:23:58 – over 16 minutes faster than her previous best!

Running the half was a determined Lillian Pinault. For those of us who have seen her progress at TNT over the past couple of months, you just knew she was going to go - you guessed it - bananas. But remember that rinky dink 5k she ran the week before? Well she did something to her foot in that run, and wasn't able to run all week leading up to the race. She bit the bullet and went out with the 1:35 group, until mile 8 when she thought "this feels too easy, and if I'm injuring myself, I'm already going to be hurt - may as well let it ride." And ride she did, all the way to a 3.5 minute PR of 1:32:28! Her last 5k was faster than the 5k she raced the previous weekend. Incredible! And amazing!

The effort was good enough to earn Lillian the Purple Drink Athlete of the Week!

But there were a few other races that happened in the first half of November as well:

Downs Park 5 Miler has become a fall favorite. This low key event put on by the Annapolis Striders has produced a number of our fastest 5 mile times. We've had a grasp on the W here for the past few years, and this year it was Steve Febish's turn to get the win. He won in 26:51, ahead of runner-up Sean Caskey in 27:24. Nick Klastava was 6th in 28:27 and Josh Dawson ran 28:45 for 8th.

In the Rockville 5k, Tom Stott ran 19:28 for 10th, but it was wife Patty who stole the show, running one of her fastest 5k races in years, 24:01 for 9th. In the 10k, Dan Miranda and Sara Damiano were both first-losers (JK), finishing 2nd.

PJ Anderer ran the "inaugural" Across the Bridge 10k, which was really just the old Bay Bridge 10k making a return. Said it was a pretty good race, and he ran well, finishing 26th in 38:34. Fellow Penn State alum, Mike Mashner, finished 13th at the THON 5k in Happy Valley.

PJ and Bryn Burkholder also ran the Oktober Lauf Fest Half Marathon in Pennypack Park (outside of Philly), keeping that little tradition alive. In the first of his November 50 milers, Mr. Peck ran the Stone Mill 50 in 8:27:58, with Pete Mulligan coming in at 11:32:49. Josh Greenberg finished at 11:38:22. I also saw Jeff Rumbaugh ran the Rock n Roll Las Vegas Marathon (3:18:07) and Tristram Thomas (7th) and Jon Miller (8th) ran the Dustin Bauer Memorial 5k.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gobble Cobble 2014

The 2014 Gobble Cobble race is set for Thanksgiving morning in Harbor East. While there is a potential for bad weather tonight and tomorrow, Thursday morning seems like it should be okay and the race will not be affected.

Packet pick-up is at the Falls Road Running Store today until 7pm, and tomorrow (Wednesday) at the MAC in Harbor East from noon until 6pm. Race day registration and packet pick-up will available in the MAC as well.

The race starts at 8:30am at Lancaster and President, in front of the Under Armour Brand House. The course is 7k (~4.5 miles) and runs through Harbor East and Fell's Point before returning through the Inner Harbor and winding around through there.

Meters are not in effect in Baltimore on Thanksgiving, so you can pretty much park wherever, but if you park in a garage you will be paying and neither the race nor the MAC will be validating, as an FYI!

This race has become a great tradition for Thanksgiving morning in Baltimore, and it's the only race downtown. We expect another great turnout and are looking forward to seeing you bright and early on Thursday!

TL;DR Version

What: Gobble Cobble 7k
When: Thursday, November 27th (Thanksgiving), 8:30am
Where: MAC Harbor East
Packet Pick-Up at MAC, Weds 12-6pm or race day 

Thanksgiving Day running race in Baltimore

Monday, November 24, 2014

City buses

I submitted this to the city of Baltimore tonight. I'm not holding the city accountable for all the wreckless drivers, just their employees.

At 7:28pm on Monday, November 24, 2014, I was running north on Wolfe Street on the west side of the road. I stopped as I reached Fleet Street to wait for the light to change. After it did, I waited until the car to my left (east bound) came to a stop and saw no car near the light to the east and began to cross. I was 4 strides into the intersection when I had to turn back as west bound city bus 11 came through the intersection without attempting to slow,  well after they had a red light.
The frequency at which city buses drive dangerously like this is unacceptable and irresponsible. I expect something to be done to prevent future events like this. It is negligent of the city  to allow bus drivers to continue like this, and it puts pedestrians and cyclists at risk.
Please inform me what action will be taken from this.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Welcome to New York

Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you
It’s a new soundtrack, I could dance to this beat
The lights are so bright, but they never blind me.
 - Taylor Swift, Welcome to New York

Call it fate. Call it destiny. Call it coincidence. Call it whatever, but with this being the first song on Taylor Swift’s recently released album, it seemed as though my trip to New York City for the Marathon was meant to be. The stars truly aligned for this one, as just days before the race I was asked if I wanted to go up to Under Armour’s official launch of their new shoe, the Speedform Gemini, at their Brand House in Soho the Thursday before the race. Naturally, I said yes. Then they asked if I wanted to run the race. I initially declined, citing my lack of running due to my nagging Achilles injury.

“Don’t worry – you can just run with Chris McCormack.”

Exsqueeze me? Baking Powder?

Chris McCormack – as in one of the greatest triathletes of all time – and I get to run with him?

Without thinking, I said of course. I mean, I haven’t run longer than 14 miles in 3 months, but I could get through 26.2, right? If my Achilles wasn’t going to cooperate, I could always call it a day when I got back to Manhattan. I mean, the chance to hang out with one of my triathlon idols alone made the trip to NY more than worth it. And to get to line up with him at the start of the world’s greatest marathon? Psshh. To not do it would be like saying to Peyton Manning, no thanks, I can’t play catch, my shoulder hurts.

I made my way up to the city on Thursday, and found my hotel in Chelsea. It was insane. I definitely did not fit in – but I did my best. I dropped off my stuff and took the subway down to the Brand House for the shoe launch. The store was incredible, and I got to meet and chat with a few cool people – Team UA’s Nick Arciniaga, who I got to meet two weeks before at Baltimore, and Josh Cox. Josh was really cool and naturally (awkwardly) I mentioned I run the BMoreRunning Twitter account – he wasn’t creeped out and even paid me a nice compliment. We talked about Desi Linden’s chances for Sunday and as we did, who walks into the store: Kate Upton and Justin Verlander. Yeah, I know, I couldn’t believe it either.

After the event, I kicked it with UA’s own John Ealy, Sean Sharpe and Britany Williams as we cranked a few slices of pizza. And watched early Halloween revelers stumble up and down the street in front of the hotel. That was just Thursday.

Friday came and the nice weather had vanished. In its place was cold, grey and wind. I met John to go for a shakeout run – which ended up being 6 miles at an effort that felt faster than what I could run for a half marathon right now – and we finished at the expo. Since our entries had been sent in just a day or two prior, we weren’t even in the system. I was certain I was going to get stuck in the 4th wave, so I was pleasantly surprised to see I was in Wave 1, and in the first corral of the Green start. We ran back to the hotel, and then I headed back over to the expo because I wanted to meet a few people…

First up, the Oakley booth to meet the #1 ranked ITU triathlete in the world, Gwen Jorgensen. Gwen recently earned her first World Championship on the heels of one of the most impressive seasons in ITU history. And, as I later found out, former track club teammate of our own Amy Horst. Rather than ask nerdy questions, I asked more RM-like questions. She was a great sport and played along, as did her husband Pat. Like I did with Josh Cox, I made sure to let Gwen know that I run BMoreRunning, and she knew it too! As an added bonus, I also go to meet Ironman legend, Greg Welch. You cannot be serious.

I finally left them alone and snuck up to the Asics booth. Most people were waiting in line to get their personalized race split tattoo, and nobody was waiting in line to talk to Sara Hall. SARA HALL. I went up and, keeping with the trend, said I run BMoreRunning (in case you’re wondering, I run the very small time, modestly humorous BMoreRunning Twitter feed). Sara was exactly what I expected – an absolute stunner and beyond nice. If you haven’t been following, she’s raced really well this year.

On my way out of the expo I decided to head upstairs. That was new this year, and it was kind of strange – not really booths for selling, more of a small tour of the boroughs through which the marathon runs. But in the back I noticed the unmistakably effervescent voice of one Kathrine Switzer. Kathrine THE Great. After she finished her talk she welcomed people at her little booth. I went up to meet her – she hugged everyone – and she goes “you look familiar…” I said unless she remembered passing me at a race, probably not. She continued “you’re really fit – you must be a triathlete.” That’s when I was like “hey girl, I’m staying at the Dream Hotel…”

All this activity and it was only 3pm! I was hungry so I went to a Potbelly, then walked around Times Square. Yes, I realize how tacky it is, but I love it. I can’t remember the last time I was there so I enjoyed my little trip, and of course snapped a pic of New York’s best pizza. Then it was time to meet Brennan, so I walked back to the hotel.

I kept forgetting that it was Halloween. In the 10 years I’ve lived here, this was the first time I missed Halloween in Fell’s with Mike. Even the first year I ran NYC (2008) when Halloween was a Friday and the race was Sunday, I made it out for a bit. That year I was lucky to have a bunch of friends come up to watch me run, and of course they went out in the city for Halloween. I associate this race with Halloween. Naturally, I told Brennan we had to go out, costumes or not. After dinner we went back to the hotel, where they looked at us like “what are you doing here?” (there was an unreal Halloween party at each of the hotel’s 3 clubs that night)

We walked outside and around the corner saw a red carpet and some paparazzi. It was Heidi Klum’s Halloween Party. Crazy. Not too many “celebs” rolled through, but we did stick around for Heidi’s grand entrance. Then it was off in search of places we were more at home. We made it out pretty darn late. Good thing we didn’t have a race in two days...psyyyyyyche!

Saturday we woke up to rain. And it was cold. If the race had been that morning, there was no way I would have made it. I had intended on going up to Central Park to watch the NYRR 5k, but with the weather and 3 miles away, I opted to sit in the hotel room and follow on Twitter. Gwen Jorgensen won in 16:03 – the day before she said she didn’t think she’d run faster than 17 minutes. Must have been my pep talk. It rained all day, and we didn’t have much to do, so we just waited out the rain before getting a (very) late dinner at Chelsea Markets. Back in the hotel, the party was bumping again. I told Brennan we should just hang out in the lobby all night until it was time to go to the race.

My departure time with the UA Team was 5am. Way, way too early. Fortunately we got an hour back from DST, but it still meant a 4:30 wakeup. Went downstairs, lobby still jumping. Man, what was I doing running a marathon? After a few days mostly kicking around the city, it was time to get down to business. It was also time to get to meet Macca. He’s a larger-than-life character, and his excitement was contagious. We get on the bus just after 5 and we’re across the bridge and in Staten Island before 6. Yikes. It was so cold and windy, we had no option but to sit on the bus for as long as we could. All Macca wanted to hear was Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” so we blasted that and a few other pump-up jams on the warm bus. We finally headed out to the start line around 7:45, the whole UA squad.

I’ve raced New York on 3 occasions. The first year the conditions weren’t that bad – temp was upper 40s, maybe high around 50, a little overcast with glimpses of sun. But the past 3 years, weather has been the main storyline at NYC. 2012 canceled by the hurricane. 2013 temps in the mid 40s and strong headwind for most of the day. 2014 even colder and windier. For me, an annoyance but not a big deal. Up front, though, a game changer. One of the most stacked fields in race history saw the slowest winning time in 20 years, and America’s great, Meb Keflezighi, validated his Boston win with a 4th place performance. UA’s Nick Arciniaga finished 10th. On the women’s side, a great battle as Mary Keitany, who hasn’t raced in 2 years after giving birth, roared back with an impressive win.

For me, I knew based on my fitness that I had 16 miles in me, tops. I navigated Chris McCormack successfully to the start line, where we bumped into his buddy Tim Van Berkel (7th at Kona this year). We all started together, but after a mile those two were having too much fun weaving in and out of people and I backed off. The wind on the bridge was next level. So bad they had to move the wheelchair start to the other side of it. Once off the bridge it wasn’t as bad, and I hit mile 3 in 21:44 – not bad! As I turned right and the courses merged I hear “DDUUUDDEEEE!” Look behind me, it’s BRENNAN. Amidst all those people and starting in different corrals (he was on the top level of the bridge, I was on the lower deck) we bump into each other. Crazy!

We ran together for miles, ticking off 7:15 after 7:15. Around mile 5 I spotted the maroon hue of the Falls Road singlet – it was Meg McNew. Only 3 of us running New York this year and somehow we all converge on the course. It was a thing of beauty. I was running with my phone (note: I would never do that in my own race, but this opportunity was too awesome) so I grabbed a shot of Brennan and Meg. B and I stopped at mile 10 for a quick bathroom break, and got back. Around 13 (1:38, with the 2 minute stop) is when I started not feeling as comfortable, and by 14 Brennan took off to see what he could do. That took the wind out of my sails, and I struggled to climb up the Queensboro Bridge, and coming down the other side was even tougher. I hit 16 and made it onto 1st Ave but was slowing fast. Sara Spears said she was going to be at 82nd so that was my goal, get there. I made it there, didn’t see her or any of her friends, and then I took a little break.

The wind was really strong on 1st Ave, and I knew I was in for a long 10 miles. I climbed the bridge into the Bronx around mile 20, and as I turned the corner I saw it: a Dunkin Donuts. I was really, really hungry and knew I needed some sustenance. I had money on me, so I darted in real quick. People in line couldn’t believe I was still in the race and let me cut. The DD employees gave me my donuts for free. I ate one, then walked back out on the course with the other. People around me were cracking up. It was a funny moment, but 100% necessary. It brought me back to life.

Normally you’d think “just a 10k left, I can suffer through that” but man, was I moving slow. No 8 or 9 minute miles for me, we’re talking 12s. I didn’t care, I had enjoyed my day. The tailwind push was the only thing that got me up the incline at Central Park. I turned into the park, shuffled the last 2/10th and crossed the line in my slowest open marathon ever: 4:12:46. Ouch.

I kept shuffling to get through the line faster, and ran into the CFO of my company. Completely random. Walked out of the park with her and then went to find my brother and Brennan. Brennan had gone onto negative split to a 3:11. That kid is incredible. A half ironman and two marathons in the course of 4 weeks. We also heard that Michaela Courtney ran 3:12, and Meg McNew, who was sidelined most of the year as she came back from surgery, held on for a 3:38. The Under Armour guys ran well, but I did laugh when I saw that Macca and Tim went out in 1:29 and finished at 3:44. Had I know that I would have just kept running with them! Me, my brother and Brennan walked 30 blocks to his car, then swung by the hotel to get our stuff before heading back to NJ. Leaving the city after a weekend like that was a little sad, but boy was the view sweet – the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty never looked so good. Fueled up with some pizza and headed back to Baltimore. It was quite possibly the greatest running experience of my life.

Rather than post pics throughout the blog (it was long enough), here's a link to my NYC Marathon Weekend pics on Flickr.