Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bear Swamp Trail Run

The other day last weekend, I ran with my buddy Chris who mountain bikes out at Bear Swamp State Forest. This has been a stomping ground for Chris and I was excited to check it out.  Let me tell you, Bear Swamp is swampy but also has amazing views of the Finger Lakes and has great wide trails for running, xc skiing and mountain biking.  Of course the trails had there nice climbs and the footing was great considering the slop and mud from recent rain.  We ran about 8 miles and the trail loops were super enjoyable and fun. I never been at a recreation facility as this one.  Great wooded trails and the swamp was super cool.  I had a nice easy day in the build-up to the Monster Mash 3.55 miler and it was great prep for the race.  I ran a fast 17:23 for 3.55 miles and though felt tired still performed like a true champion.  I must say that the Fall season and Winter season are so spectacular. They represent the coming of a time, of an age for nature and for life.  We begin to hibernate during this time but also are giving the chances to reflect on our lives and to foster our bonds with friends and family. It is a time about being thankful for the life you have and for the magic and mysticism of Christmas and Santa Claus.  It is a time to be outdoors and enjoy nature in its purest form.  Yes, many people dislike the cold, but I take it as a blessing as colder temperatures mean that it is time to prepare for another year and to run and live the best I can.  Life is precious and the memories and bonds we make are eternal.

What a lot of people do not understand about running is that is does bring a person closer to the natural environment. Not only am I immersed in the elements but my feet feel every rock and clamber of dirt, I breath in fresh forest air, I push myself up a steep hill created by nature's forces long ago, I look at the beauty of the natural landscape around me and immerse myself within this realm of modern nature.  Running allows for me to be apart of nature in an active way that helps to improve both my physical health but also mental. I say that running is a great tool and assets for me in terms of being a better human being.  When I run, it is not to be selfish though that may seem what those intentions are being perceived as.  I hope to be great at the sport and bring great fame and support for Ashlee and my family one day but also to help inspire my friends, family, and even that one kid unsure about whether to play basketball or to run and by reading this blog decides to embark on such a journey that makes him the next Ryan Hall of USA distance Running.  You never know. But what  I will say is that if you ever have the chance to run in Upstate New York, do so!  This place is an incredible place to run as it has everything needed for a great running stimulus except high altitude.  Bear Swamp is just one of those great resources we have here in NY.  There are tons of great races here and it keeps on getting better.  For now, this is my home and I hope to make the most of it. Whether this will be the end-all place for me and Ashlee who knows but  I will say that as of now, Cortland works for where we are in our lives and truly home is where YOU make it.  If you have the elements you desire as a person, then that is all you need.  RUN Hard America and let us continue to do great things!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Endurance Monster Mash 3.5 mile Race

First off here is the link for the results of the run: http://www.endurancemonster.com/uncategorized/race-results-for-monster-mash-2012

It was a nice cool morning at Skaneateles, NY, which is a wonderful lake town about 29 miles north of Cortland. I woke up at around 7am so that I could check out the town before the race.  It was a lovely morning as I made the drive.  Driving along the farm roads, I noticed intense fog so dense I felt like I was in London or something. After about 35 minutes of driving, I had made it to Skaneateles.  It is a nice place.  I drove to the running store then spent the next hour jogging around while  looking at the town surroundings.  As the race drew nearer, the excitement started to build. Not to mention that they delayed the race time by 10 minutes. I ran through my strides and got ready.  As soon as the gun went off, I knew that I was going to have a great run though my legs were a little tired from the Bear Swamp Trail run the other day.  I settled into  a nice pace and zipped onto a canal trail. The trail was nice crushed gray gravel and at this point about a mile and a half in, I began to pick up my pace.  I knew I was running through the first mile at around 4:50-4:55 as I looked at my watch around the first aid station.  Once out of the trail, the course sharply crossed uphill. It is amazing how every road race in New York always has a little incline or one small hill at the least though most races have some strong hills.  The hill did slow down my momentum but I kept running tough.  Before I knew it, I was at the finish-line running a 17:23 3.6 mile distance. I averaged around 4:50 meaning I ran about a 15:00 flat 5k or even a 14:50 5k.  I won a free pair of shoes, NB Trail minimus and some awesome gloves and water bottle all from Endurance Monster. It was a great race and I ran really strong with all things considered.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Empire State Half Marathon

70:45 Finish time and 5th place Overall.  Winner in my age group and on a nice cool fall day with some strong head winds, ran exceptionally well. I placed 5th in the USATF Niagara New York Half Marathon Championships and was the last place on the podium and 50 dollars richer.

The race was nice and cool with temperatures in the upper 30's and lower 40's. I was at the event with my father as Ashlee was at work.  I will say that as I waited in the coral to start the half marathon, I did not see any fast-looking guys until the last 5 minutes before the gun.  This race started at the Alliance Bank Minor League Stadium in Syracuse and then we would follow the Onondaga Lake Trail which is a great wide bike path.  At 8am, we were off. I was deciding on going out nice and conservative as it was my first ever road half-marathon but soon saw the pack of guys I would be running the entire race with.  This one guy, in a yellow-singlet shot out ahead averaging 5:10 miles and soon was just a glimer in the distance.  In my group of people was a Kenyan wearing some neon clothes, a Saucony-Sponsored guy, and a Master's champion at the age of 41 who could run super fast wearing a YMCA jersey.  I constantly ran my pace with these guys as the lake windchill made things tough for us.  We split several 5:15 minute miles the first 5 miles as I would help surge the group then drop back though I spent the majority of the time in the race working the David Rappleyea, the Saucony athlete. The kenyan constantly dropped back then would surge then drop again. The YMCA runner, Kevin as I heard his name all over the course, "GO KEEEEEVVVIN!" was struggling a little with the pace but I knew was still going to be in the hunt.  At mile 6, I suddenly had a strong stomach cramp that was making me hurt pretty bad.  I immediately, began to drop back intentionally in the hopes of drafting and regaining my feel.  At this point, the Kenyan decided to surge ahead drawing out the other guys.  Soon, the group was gone as the lovely lake trail became lonely for me even though we shot back the way we came with tons of other runners screaming for us on the course.  I could see them battling up front with having maybe a 45 second gap on me.  The sun was blinding me and in a whole world of hurt just told myself to remain strong and hold on for fifth so I could get some hard-earned prize money.  I kept a strong pace and after a few miles, I had caught the group again.  I was with the Saucony athlete, David, as he noticed me right on him. At that point, I just wanted to maintain contact.  I gritted my teeth and hung in there as water and gatorade at every water stop from mile 7-10 gave me the burst needed to hang on and finish in 5th with a 70:45 half marathon which was really a great time averaging 5:24 a mile.
Looking back on the race, physically, I have trained to run faster for this distance and as I run more of these competitions, I should dramatically improve.  It was a great race day and I wish Ashlee was there! I know that she is going to get to see some amazing races very soon!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Greek Peak 5k Oct 13 2012

So just the other day, I decided to run a little local 5k here in Cortland to support the Greek Peak adaptive sports programs.  As I am almost a week away from the Empire State Half Marathon, I felt that a little tune-up race was in order.  The race start time was 11am as this was very beneficial since a massive cold front came through and dropped temperatures into the 20's early this morning.  By the time it was race time, the temps hovered around 42 with a wind chill in the mid to upper 30's. Most people would think of this all too cold but for me, I have found that  I thrive in this temperature range period.  Why I do so well in colder weather beats me.  So anyway, I did my normal warm-up thinking this 5k was going to be around the Hope Lake and ski lodge on their biking trails which are solid blacktop.  To my surprise, this race for the 5k actually incorporated some of the steep xc ski trails around the lake as well.  This was going to be a mountain 5k.  After my warm-up, I began to hydrate ever so slightly with my Camelback Elixer Lemon/Lime and Lemon/Lime Gatorade power mix which produces a light sugar sports drink that is not overdone on either end of the sugar spectrum.  I then stripped down into my racing attire. I had arm warmers, gloves, singlet and shorts just the type of outfit I will wear for the empire half.

It was then time to head off and it was great to have Chris hang out and watch me run around the course.  With the blow of a whistle, we were off. I immediately took to the lead and then headed across the little bridge out on Hope Lake and then made the sharp turn straight up a nice steep ski slope. Obviously, I had to gauge my effort and not to sprint up the hill but rather climb rather strong. I felt that my climbing was very good as each effort I made to crest each summit, I had enough in the legs to surge on the flats and then fly down the other sides of the hills. I shot down the first climb then was directed into more trail sections. With all the wet leaves underfoot and some muddy sections, with road racing flats, my grip on the trail was not optimal.  I only maybe ran 1k of the race on the road or path rather and the rest on the ski slopes. I had no idea how fast I was running but I did feel I had a nice comfortable fast effort going.  I hit another climb then bombed the downhill and then headed out along the bike path. I came through the section so fast I had to stop and ask the race official where to go.  Once redirected I headed out on the path waiting to see where I must head next.  Then  I came near the finish shoot and had the race event directors running to my vicinity to tell me to make a right up another ski slope. This climb was tough. I would say an easy 700ft climb. My pace slowed to a 8min mile as I worked my way up the pitch and then was out along the upper trail sections. I had a few more small climbs to go and looked at my watch as it read 14:34. I am thinking I probably have a half mile to go so I hit another gear through the wet and muddy, leaf-ridden trail sections sprinting all-out. I also thought maybe  I was averaging 5:20 or 5:30 miles which would have been a nice tempo effort with the climbing. But no I was wrong!  I came out of the trail section and then bombed that same steep up hill climb now as a downhill pitch and then flew into the short finish shoot.  I stopped my watch at 15:57.
I averaged 5:08 a mile. I felt great as I hung out with Chris and waited for the awards ceremony.

Overall, it was a great day and a fun race. I am totally going to see if I can be my record!  I learned a lot form the day. Even with mediocre sleep, I performed well. I also am in insane shape to run such a challenging 5k and perform the way I did. I think Max King would be proud.  This was by far the hardest 5k I have ever run and truly was a challenge for all.  Greek Peak is a great place in Cortland to run, race, and train at and I am very lucky to have such a great facility 8 miles away.  Empire State Half Marathon here I come as this will be my next big post. Thank you Greek Peak for the great photos.

Thank you to my friends and family, my sponsors: Sierra Designs/Kelty, Karhu/Craft, Patagonia, Acidotic Racing, Ok Runner for helping me on my journey to greatness. I feel that this year is going to be HUGE!  I cannot wait for the snowshoe season and I am excited for the summer trail season and spring marathon season as well. Bring it on NY.

Some Wonderful photos from the race. Thank you Tim Hannah