Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Brent vs.The Irish Double

I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking attempting a March double race, especially this year.  Did I not remember that this was a thing I should only be doing in June and July?  You know, the only two months where I'm bold enough to fit two races in a day (see: Double TimeDouble Time Again!, & Double Crim...).

Apparently I forgot about that.  I also forgot about the winter we've been having and how it will not yield to the spring.  Apparently, according to my wife, there is some sort of scientific, Rainbow Brite-related reason for all this (like her belt got stolen or something?). Anyway, I didn't really think how, this year especially, mid-March had the potential to be incredibly cold.

Sunday morning, I got dressed in what I thought I'd probably run in.  Also, I grabbed about as many potential running and St. Patrick's Day shirt that would fit in my arms and threw them in the passenger seat of my car (later to be bagged in my trusty Talmer Bank market bag from the Detroit Marathon).  I was bound and determined to have all the layers I needed, and have all of them be green.

I had a pleasant drive up to Bay City and an easy time parking my car right on the street over from the finish line.  I wanted easy access to trade out clothes after the first race.  I got out of my car and started to walk toward The Scottish Rites Masonic Center for packet pick-up.  

You know you love my socks (they're supposed to be for girls)

I immediately loved the shirt this year.  Two reasons for that:  First, it was the same color scheme as my new shoes.  Second, it said "Irish Double" right on the sleeves.  It's nice to get a little special extras here and there, especially when you've been coming back for the past five years.

After getting my bib and shirt, I went straight back to the car to sit until about 20 minutes before race time.  By the 8K Race's 9:30 start, I think we got all the way up to 9 or 10 degrees (Fahrenheit not Celsius, people).  Everyone was trying to move around to get warmed up.  The race organizer had to remind us that just 2 years ago, it was 70 degrees for the race.  Ah, 2012, so warm.

Before the 8K
There weren't a lot of people in the 8K (a little south of 1,000).  So there was plenty of room to run your race out there.  The ice and snow were pretty much cleared out, but I did manage to find one icy spot on a right turn, just after the first mile, where I almost bit it.  Other than that, I didn't worry about any sliding around too much.

Some of the 8K crowd.

I didn't wear the Garmin this time.  In fact, I've kind of abandoned it in general lately.  Maybe later, when I actually WANT to know my times and I'm pressing for something in particular I'll strap it back on.  For this race, I was just going to run my best the old-fashioned way, and that worked out just fine.

I put up a 46:04 (9:16 min/mile) pace for the 8K, which is a course record (though far from a PR) for me.  The best I've put up at this time of the year, and, especially considering the cold, I'll call this a win.  As I crossed the finish, I was handed a medal for the race.  I didn't know if I was supposed to get one, or if there was one for the Irish Double people waiting for us after the 5K.  I looked around for my fellow blue bibbers and it seemed like they all had one, so I didn't fight it.  Honestly at this point I just knew we got a "special gift" for doing both.  I assumed medal, but it could have been anything, I guess.

After realizing very quickly that I was cold and wet, I kicked up through the alley to my car.  I changed into some dry clothes, threw on the heater, and put my hat up on the dash to warm up for about a half hour.  I traded out the bow tie for a scarf, and headed back to the race start for the 5K.  I gave myself a little extra time to hit the portas (where I almost dropped by keys in), and lined up with a much larger 5K crowd for the 11:30 start.

Wardrobe change for the 5K
The 5K crowd
The 5K was much harder to navigate in, and, as always, I stayed too far back.  I had to cut through a lot of people, which slowed me down a bit, but I do have to admit, especially with the cold, that my legs were just kind of spent anyway.  I wanted to run a nice sprint 5K, but I just couldn't kick it in any more than I was.  It would have been really nice to course record both races, but I put up a 28:50 (9:17 min/mile), which was 18 seconds slower than the best 5K I had in this race (28:32 in 2013).

Irish Double Medal and Regular Medal

Once more with lanyards
You can say one thing for me, though.  I was consistent.  My 8K half split was 22:59, and both race paces were within a second of each other.  I think it's a good foundation to build the rest of the year one, and I think all the work I've been putting in over this extremely harsh winter has added up.  I don't think I could have tackled this double any better any other year so far.  Maybe, just maybe, you're going to see me step things up this year.

 Afterwards, I hit up the trusty Stein Haus for some beer and corned beef and cabbage.

Called "Stein Haus" for a reason
 Both hit the spot, but not enough for me to skip visiting Tri-City Brewing.  Last year they were closed on (actual) St. Patrick's Day, which I considered an abomination.  Also, I've never been a fan of their stuff I've gotten in stores.  So, really, I shouldn't have bothered, but they did put out a flyer saying they'd be open and would have $2.50 pints for runners, so I took that as an olive branch.

I'm glad I did.  I made some quick friends there and had a pretty good time.  The beer at the actual brewery was leaps and bounds superior to anything I've gotten off the shelf.  So, if you're in the Bay City area, check it out.  It is worth the trip.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bringing things up to speed...

So I've covered the two previous big races of the year, and what happened there.  Now it's time to get into the nitty gritty about what's going on with me this year, the plans, goals, etc.

Last year, I think I mentioned there was a little flux with me and the job.  You know, with it completely going away at the end of the year.  Well, that did happen, and, for about a month, I was temping with my same company in Lansing, trying to help them with some transitioning.  With this rough winter, that was torture for me.  The drive on a good day was about 1 hr 15 mins, and on a bad day could easily turn into 2+ hours.  That wouldn't have been so incredibly horrible if there wasn't a 6am start time. 

Eventually that fizzled out to the point where they didn't need me anymore, but I did end up staying with them and taking another chemical treatment system job that's only about 45 minutes away from home.  I'm not sure how this is going to work out for me.  We'll see.  It's the same pay, but very boring and mentally unchallenging.  I'm not sure if it's really what I want to stick with long term.  I'm sure I could get a lot of reading done, but I miss being on the environmental side of things.  I'm also not sure about the culture here.  I'm definitely on the outs when it comes to that.  I'd say more, but who knows who's reading this.  Anyway, I'm okay with things for now.

I've started making a few changes to the regimen this year.  Last year I added some weights and strength training.  This year, I've added on some yoga, and I've really been sticking to things.  Other than being sick for a week, I've not missed a single scheduled workout yet.  Also, after a huge winter relapse, I've been fixing up the diet again, and I think I'm on a really good track to live up to "actually training." 

As far as the running plans this year, I really don't have a lot of set goals.  Blame it on having a hangover from last year's uncertainty, but I really am not sure what I should be pushing for.  I'm honestly still a little sad that, with the uncertainty, I didn't pull the trigger on signing up for Bayshore (Traverse City) in June (which sells out immediately in December every year).  One thing I do know, is I will be attempting some sort of out of state marathon this year.  Even if it's somewhere not all that far away (Chicago?).  I don't know about doing Detroit again.  That will depend on how I feel about it when the date gets closer.  I'd like to do it, but, unlike some people, I can't imagine doing Chicago/Detroit on back to back weekends.  That's just too much ouch.

Speaking of ouch.  I ran my first full-on sprinting (for me) 5K last month.  I ran the Crim's 1st Annual  "Run Your Ice Off."  It was a very small race of about 350 people.  The first 300 got a "Run Your Ice Off" winter hat.  I did not, because I registered way too late.  I could have picked up one of the leaders' hats when they tossed them off in the first mile, but I guess I didn't want it that bad.

"Run Your Ice Off" was really unique in a few ways.  First, this was the first race where the runners were supposed to be the ones singing the "Star-Spangled Banner."  Usually someone sings it for us, but that was kind of a cool nuance to the race.  I hope they make that a tradition.  Second, the race was the first in Flint to make good use of the Flint River Trail, which is one of the places I really enjoy running, biking, and walking.  Most of the route was along the river on the way out, then you crossed a road bridge, and came back on the other side of the river, still on the trail, through the University of Michigan-Flint campus. 

Sure there were some icy/wet patches, but it was cleared really well, considering the weather we had.  Besides, I've been running in junk a lot worse this winter.  I just wish I knew what my time was.  Apparently that got lost in the shuffle.  Even when I search by bib #, it goes from 354 to 356, skipping over me.  Oh well, what can you do?  It was still completely worth it, other than my muscles hurting for 3 days because I went all out and got well into the anaerobic zone.

Bad Post-Race shot

I'm sure I'll be in that zone this weekend as well.  I ended up signing up for the Irish Double at the Al Kayner St. Patrick's Day races tomorrow.  So I will be chasing my 8K with another 5K.  I'm not sure how that's going to go.  With the snow, I haven't been out to run much further than 6 total miles in a long time.  I know I can probably finish both with no issues, but I just don't want to be dragging ass in either.  You'll find out in my next post how that went.  Also, why don't they make knee-high St. Patrick's Day socks for men?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Winterläufe 2014 (a.k.a. What Would You Do For a Klondike Run?)

After a one year hiatus (which, if you've been stalking me, you know was only because of a funeral), I made my triumphant return to the Winterläufe.  For some reason the Holy Triumvirate of Frankenmuth has solidified itself as my favorite race series thus far, and I usually try to do all three.  This year, trying to do Winterläufe was a little more difficult than usual. 

First off, I woke up late, and, on a good day, was only going to make it there about 30 minutes before the race.  Also, though, like pretty much the rest of this winter, the sky was flopping down snow blankets like crazy.  So I only got there about 15 minutes before the start.

The second I step out of my car, I realize my key chain felt a little light.  Yep, due to a new job and a rearrangement of keys, the usual ring with the car keys was misplaced.  So I was locked out.  No matter, though, I'd take care of that after the run. 

Well, I get to registration, and my name is not up on the board.  My pre-registration didn't go through, and my wallet, you guessed it, in the car.  So I did what any logical runner would do in my situation, break into my car. 

Now, mind you, it was a bit easier for me, with my driver's side window already having issues and being able to push it down 2 inches without aid of a motor, but that still wasn't enough to get my hand to the unlock.  I was about ready to give up, until I decided to pull the window out, off it's track, and somewhat sideways.  Voila!  Great Success!

Grabbed $30, the CAR KEYS, and my gloves that I somehow forgot I might need, and booked it back to registration.  By this point, the race had already started, the booth was closing up shop, and I wasn't sure I'd get to go anyway.  Luckily, they let me still sign up, and even had a shirt for me.  I benefited from the bad weather scaring people away.

I threw the shirt on over everything else, because it was too late for another trip back to the car, and I ran to the start line, and crossed it, hoping it would still register my start and true chip time.  I'm quite sure I was the very last person to start this race (an honor I've actually had more than once before).

Had to make my way through the walkers and a lot of the slower runners, but I didn't do too bad for myself.  Pretty sure the chip time didn't hold up, because my official time was the clock time.  So now I have a few more minutes on my official time to make me look bad.  No matter, just happy I got to do it, considering I could have just been sitting next to my snow-covered car waiting for my wife to arrive with my spare keys.

Instead I got to run, get a slice of pizza, and take lots of photos of snow/ice sculptures left over from Winterfest.

The Tardis

Daleks are friends

The Octopus is holding a Hofbrau Beer

This Joker/Batman one is awesome

Love the shirt this year.  Great 70s feel

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