22 August 2011

Fear and Loathing in Canadensis

For the past three summers in the middle of August I have ventured into the hills of Pennsylvania to coach high school aged athletes as they prepare for their upcoming cross country season. This year was different, I'm currently living and coaching in California so I flew in specifically for Running Works (AKA RunningDUBS). Yes it's that much fun, that I spent money on a plane ticket to leave So-Cal to spend a week in a cabin in the woods in PA. For me camp is all about renewing my love for running & cross country and even though I may leave physically exhausted, mentally I am recharged ready to take on new goals and challenges. Camp is a throwback, a nostalgic reminder of how simple life was as a high school kid going to Colt Camp. It's a reminder to chase dreams and live life to the fullest

I've been apart of a running camp in every capacity; athlete, college counselor, and coach. The goal is always the same; to pick up new things to add to my toolbox of treats. Even as an 85lb freshmen, I went to Colt Camp to learn what it was that made CBA so good. As it turns out they train hard and at the time it was really hard for me. I ran my PR for 5 miles the first run of camp (true story) and by the end of the week I was walking up and down the stairs of my cabin and the mess hall backwards. It was also the first time I met future Monmouth teammate Dicky Corcoran. We were on our long run together and as the faster group rolled by us he encouraged me to go with them and try to finish the last few miles with them. Already hurting I gave him some lame excuse about being a freshman and as a freshmen I didn't need to attempt to prove myself with the faster group. Without directly calling me a P@ssy he called me a P@ssy and he set me in such a rage that I took off, caught up to the group and finished the run with them. Dicky helped me realize that I was capable of hurting far more then I ever though I was capable of. As a freshman I was the #2 for most of the season. Dicky also introduced to Ramble On by Led Zepplin a song that continues to be a mantra today

In college as a counselor the rumor was that the campers had a goal to break all the counselors on the runs. As it turns out they were successful in dropping all but one, me. Fortunately one of those dropped counselors would go on to be a part of NCAA DI podium team that same year. Unfortunately I did not nor did I ever come close. Looking back I now know that I could have put in a little more effort, been a little smarter, had a better diet, maybe got more rest, I might have. It really is true, that you can be whatever you want to be. Whether do or not is completely up to you, how much are you willing to suffer and sacrifice to achieve your ultimate goals. At camp your surrounded by like minded people all working hard to improve as runners.

Nows as a coach, I get to have a small hand in helping these athletes. There really is no better feeling then watching a group of athletes transform right before your very eyes and over the course of only 6 days no less. Some kids are teammates but for the most part the groups are made up of kids that have never met, yet they come together as a team. As coaches we take pride in how well our groups come together. In addition to helping out young runners, camp is a time for the coaches to have a reunion of sorts. Old friends telling war stories from their "Glory Days". Now that I'm living on the west coast this reunion was even more special as I haven't seen most of the coaches since camp last year.

For me it's no different, camp is timeless. Regardless of my role at camp I will always be brought back to a simple time when life didn't cause stress, bills didn't exist and all I had to do was lace em' up and go hammer. Camp is a place where you can put on a song from back in the day and everyone will sing along. It's my reminder to continue to live life to the fullest, chase dreams and do it my way, even if it means going against the grain sometimes. As I head back to California I have a new list of goals and challenges ahead of me. Only time will tell where those goals bring me as 2012 approaches. One thing is certain, I will be at camp in 2012. In fact I wouldn't miss it for the world!

20 March 2011

Don't talk about it, be about it...

That's how the saying goes. It's a big reason why, at the end of November I packed my car and drove to California. It is a saying used at CrossFit Counter Culture . "Don't think about it, don't talk about it, be about." It's also motivation to follow through with your goals. The other night I decided stop talking about it and to start being about it.

In January I decided one of my goals for 2011 was to do an ultra endurance event of some kind. Last week I registered for the 20in24 Lone Ranger Ultra. On July 16 & 17, I will try to run as many miles as possible in 24 hours. A 24 hour AMRAP, 8.4 miles around the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. Over the next few months I plan to document my preparations.

10 January 2011

Disney Marathon Weekend - Goofy Challenge

Over the weekend I returned to the east coast to run the Goofy Challenge in Disney World. I had several reason for taking on the challenge of running 39.3 miles over the course of one weekend; 1. how tough am I mentally, 2. how hard is it physically to run a half marathon and then follow it up the next day with a marathon, 3. could this all be done following CrossFit Endurance training, running only 3 days a week and running less than 15 miles a week. Here's a look at how the weekend went and the answers to those questions.

Back in September when I made the decision to switch my training full time to CrossFit and Crossfit Endurance I entered the Goofy Challenge to put the methodology to the test. Only after a month of CFE specific training I ran an 8 minute PR in the marathon and was completely sold. 39.3 miles over two days would be a new test, not only of myself but again of CFE v LSD. My goal was to try and run under 1:20 for the half and under 3:00 for the full. With no specific event programming this would certainly be a test of my GPP (general physical preparedness) During the last month I spent more time focusing my CrossFit training than I did on my running. I did still continue to do three run specific workouts a week but I can honestly say over the last month I averaged less than 15 miles a week and my longest run was a 7.5 mile time trial.

Now that I'm living in California, travel and time change would add another element of endurance to my race. On Thursday I spent most of the day on an airplane, leaving my house at 4:30 PST and arriving at Fort Wilderness around 6:30 EST. It was a scheduled rest day so there was no stress of trying to find time to workout. After we checked in and grabbed a quick bite it was off to bed. Friday came quickly and at 5:30 it was off to the park to support some family members who were running the 5k as a warm up for their half marathon. From the 5k it was over to the race expo to pick up our packets and grab a few gels for sundays 26.2 jaunt. In the afternoon I did an easy 20 minute shake out run followed up with drills, calisthenics and strides. I had hoped to eat dinner a little early then I did but some times things don't goes as planned. By the time we returned from dinner it was 9pm and with a 3am wake up call it was pretty close to bed time. Being on west coast time my body was a little out of whack to say the least. At 3am my alarm sounded and after a quick WTF, I was up getting ready to be out the door by 4 am. Traffic getting to the start was pretty bad and although everyone in the car was on the verge of panic I tried to relax. Luckily we made it and after a few good lucks and fist pounds I headed to the the start to warm up.

At 5:40am the half started I and spent the first 2 miles weaving my way through the crowd running splits of 6:58 and 6:23. Having run as long as I have, I know my best races come when I run progressively and the goal is always to run faster at the finish then at the start. The opening 6:58 dodging traffic didn't bother me at the time but looking back it was certainly a factor in me not breaking 1:20, such is life. From the start at Epcot the the race heads down World Drive towards the Magic Kingdom and into the park. Through miles 3-5 I split 6:17, 6:17, 6:02 and by 5 miles I was in my groove and rolling. Once in Magic Kingdom you run through Tomorrow Land and Cinderella's Castle and at this point I was reminded how awesome it must be to run a major marathon like NYC, Chicago or Boston. The people and the energy at the Castle was awesome, it gave me chills. I clicked off a 6:05 at 6 miles and split 38:47 for 10k. Mile 7 was run in 5:59 and you can see that the energy of the crowd at the castle got me a little excited. After leaving the Magic Kingdom it was back toward Epcot and I reminded myself of two very important things "don't force, don't chase" and miles 8 and 9 were split in 6:07 and 6:05, passing 15k in 57:43. By 15k I was feeling great and the miles were flying by. With 26.2 on the horizon I continued on with the mantra "don't force, don't chase and miles 10 and 11 were split in 6:05 and 6:03. With 2 miles to go there were runners strung out as far as I could see and at that point i decided to force and to chase a little. The mantra had switched from "don't force, don't chase" to "unscared," "firebreather," and "compete." As I headed into Epcot I passed mile 12 in 5:52, mile 13 in 5:59 and the last .1 in :34 to break the tape in 1:20:21 finishing in 31st overall. Although I wanted to break 1:20, I was still pumped with the race as a whole. 1/3 down, 2/3's to go. Poor planning on my part and poor communication with my pit crew left me wondering around in a mylar blanket far longer then I would have liked but again, such is life.

After some food and R&R I spent some time on calisthenics, mobility and rolling out. Overall I was feeling pretty good and ready for the following day. I cooked an early dinner of steak and veggies and made every attempt to be in bed and asleep by 9pm. At 10pm I received a text message from Orbitz saying my flight to Atlanta after the race was cancelled. Seeing as I was scheduled to start my first CFE class at CrossFit Counter Culture on Monday I was a little worried about getting home on time. After a 30 minute phone call with Orbitz I had my flights fixed and I would actually be home an hour earlier then my original flight. Needless to say I got another restless night of sleep and when my alarm sounded at 3am again it was an even bigger WTF! A little before 4am we headed out to the start to try and beat the traffic. Traffic was minor and we made our way to the start at Epcot with ease. By this time I was a little nervous and decided to head to the start a little earlier then I probably should have. The temperature was much cooler the it was on Saturday and sitting at the start as long as I did only made my nerves worse. Looking back I should have waited in the van and stayed warm for a little longer.

Around 5:40 we started and again for the first two miles I worked my way through the crowd trying to ease into a comfortable pace that would allow me a chance of hitting my goal of sub 3. Miles 1-3 were splits of 7:36, 7:10, 7:03 as I headed towards Magic Kingdom. At mile 4 I split 6:48 and thought here we go, get into that rhythm and roll. If I could run 6:48 pace for the next 22 miles I'd run under 3 hours for sure. Mile 5 clicked off at 6:54 and I thought, just keep the next 21 under 7 minute pace and you can still be pumped. My plan was to fuel every 5 miles with a GU and hydrate at every rest stop but by 9 mile a pit stop was needed. Unfortunately my pit stop resulted in my 9th mile spilt of 7:25 my first split over 7 minutes since mile 3. Having run Disney last year I had a feel for the course, which parts would be lonely and which parts I struggled with. Those parts were coming. I ran miles 10-14 in 6:49, 6:55, 6:52, 6:57, 6:55. Last year at mile 15 heading toward the Animal Kingdom the wheels started to come off and at mile 15 I split 7:03 and suddenly running wasn't as effortless as it was at mile 14. At mile 16 for the first time in the race someone passed me and I thought this isn't a good sign but at the same time thought there's still a lot of running to do don't panic you'll see them again. Mile 16 and 17 run through the Animal Kingdom where there are lots of twist and turns and little ups and downs that made running not as much as it had been the day before. Although I was starting to hurt I still split 7:06, 7:03 and the miles were still clicking off relatively speaking. By 18 the only thing I could think was that I still had 8 to go. If I could get to 20 I could digest 6 to go. Mile 19 was 7:23 and I really was in need of a bathroom and I guess I'm just not hard core enough to piss my pants. After another pit stop I split a 7:59 for mile 20, which thankfully would be the slowest of the race. Between mile 20 and 21 there is an out an back turn around and I noticed a few blue bib numbers (blue numbers are issued to Goofy Challenge runners). I was at a crossroads at 20.5 miles I could pack it in and cruise in or I could snap out of my funk and rally. After I hit the turn and headed towards mile 21, I suddenly heard someone cheering for me. I looked up and realized it was my little brother Jim (also did the Goofy) who I hadn't seen since the start. At that point I decided I'd better rally if I wanted to hold him off because he looked like he was moving a lot faster then I was. Mile 21-24 were run in 7:35, 7:28, 7:24, 7:42. With 2.2 to go I could see SpaceShip Earth and a rage came over me and my brain gave my body a big F-U. I could see the all the people who had passed me over the last few miles and I found my mantra again, "FU", Unscared", "compete", "pull". One by one they were coming back to me and the more I caught the faster I went. I ran mile 25 in 7:02, mile 26 in 6:39 my fastest of the race and my last .2 in 1:20. I ended up running 3:07.18 finishing 116 overall. When it was all said and I hadn't hit either of my time goals but was extremely pleased with the weekend and my overall performance. I had run 39.3 miles in two days and the last time I ran anything close to that distance was in October when I ran the AC Marathon. In fact since November I haven't run over 70 minutes and I did that only once. Does CrossFit Endurance work? I think we all know the answer to that. HELL YEAH IT DOES!