Friday, April 11, 2008

The next best thing

Sinead O'Connor crooned that nothing compares to you, but I have to say that nothing compares to Pop-Tarts. I love them.. god do I love that frosted, brown sugar and cinnamon goodness. They are my weakness.

As I discussed with a friend of mine recently, we decided on a scale of 1 - 10 that Pop-Tarts are a 10 and liver (or mushrooms and olives for me) are a 1 on the "tasty" scale. Everything else falls somewhere in between.

Aside from the tastiness of Pop-Tarts, there's the general awesomeness of them as well as their portability and other HFCS crap. I've discovered something just as addictive as Pop-Tarts. The good thing is that it's not as bad on your waistline, however, watch your pocket books!

Steep and Cheap

Without realizing it, we've ordered at least 1 thing a week for the last 6 weeks.. I think.

The website even warns you:

Check throughout the day to see what deal we have going. Check back often. Warning: It’s addicting.

If you're into skiing, snowboarding, camping, or just doing a lot of outdoorsy stuff, the website is for you.

Can't hit F5 all day? Go to and set up email alerts on particular items. I have a few words 'tagged', the emails are very timely, and I was able to snag 2 pairs of my beloved Vasque Velocity trail shoes for $37 each.

It's downright criminal!

So next time I'm eating Pop-tarts, I won't be worrying about my waistline when I'm hitting the trails in the $15 Nathan waist pack that I scored, the $37 trail shoes I've beaten up, and the Mountain Hardwear base layer top. Hey, I might be tubby, but at least I look good for less!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ignorance is bliss?

This was another good weekend of training as the race date closes in. I did one of my last runs on the MMT course on Sunday, and it came at a good time. I hope to get out there maybe one or two more times, but I think I've covered as much as I can do, and want to do, before the race in May.

On Saturday, I did about 11 miles on the BRR course - out/back to Fountainhead starting at Bull Run Marina - and commented to my sister on the drive home how great the weather was that day. Looking at weather reports the night before, it was supposed to rain all day, but turned out to be a beautiful and sunny day. We were very fortunate, and I said how lucky we were to have such good weather for all our weekend runs and races.

So much for that luck when it was cool and rainy Sunday morning. But for me, it was perfect. I would've much rather been in the mountains by myself than on the roads of DC in the Cherry Blossom 10 miler.

My sister dropped me off at Habron. The plan was to go from Habron to Camp Roosevelt, from CR to Gap I/II, and climb up and over Jawbone to Moreland. Total distance was just over 17 miles. My sister was parking at Moreland and would a few miles up Short Mountain, and thought about coming back and going up Jawbone to meet me. She nixed the 'back' portion, but got in a good run of her own by running Short Mountain for the first time in the daylight.

The stretch from Habron to CR runs long. This was my second time running this stretch - my first was during the race last year. When I arrived at CR, my sister was sure I was going to drop there. It was only 50k into the race.. and I looked "that bad"?? Apparently that section of trail wore on me, and it showed. I didn't want that to happen again this year, so I made it a point to tackle the climb out of Habron at some point before the race.

I'll admit upfront that I had no recollection of this section. None. I often looked back just to see if where I came from looked familiar at all and it didn't. I was hoping this would be a good thing since many folks dread the climb out of Habron. It wasn't as bad as I thought, but I hadn't covered 20 miles prior. I was happy with how I did, took mental notes on how long it took to get to the MMT trail, to Stephens Trail, and to CR.

I covered the next section from Camp Roosevelt to Moreland as part of MMT Training Run #2. I was sure I covered the stretch in 2:45 and wanted to do so again, or faster, on this run. I was slow leaving CR and running along the small creek as I thought I missed the turn onto the blue trail. I cautiously looked ahead and behind to see if anything looked familiar, and it did not. I didn't want to end up at 211, either, and have to backtrack. Fortunately I recognized some landmarks (small water crossings and the tepee campsite markings) and found my way. I remembered the handful of switchbacks on the climb and was soon up and over. I enjoyed a nice rocky, wet, and muddy run down to Gap Creek, which was the sort of training I was hoping to do. We've had such great weather so far and I was hoping for a less than ideal day since who knows what the weather will be like race day. I'd rather try out a few sections of the course when it's at its worse than when it's at its best. I worked my way up Jawbone and hurried my way down and across the rocks to come into Moreland about 10 minutes faster than I did during the training run. I was very pleased with my effort. I can only hope to do, and feel, so well come race day.

I'm not sure how much knowing the course helps or hinders me, but I know that training out there has helped. I'm going into the Bull Run Run 50 miler this weekend, which will be my longest run before the 100 miler. For some, I might seem a little under trained, which is possible, but I'm learning from some mistakes from last year and just trying to be smarter about my approach. We'll find out soon how well it worked.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Mother load

Morning runs are always interesting. Not so much because I have animal problems (I can't get my ass out of bed), but because I have other animal problems.

A couple days a week I'll take my GF's dog with me. She's away at rowing practice, so a few good miles will tucker him out for the rest of the day, and she doesn't have to walk him when she gets back. I started off using a regular 6' nylon (I think) leash, but have since switched to the "umbilical cord". I'm able to run with a normal arm swing instead of using one hand to hold the leash, and he's good around running along the sidewalk... sometimes.

I say "sometimes" because he gets bored after about 30 minutes and spends the time trying to find something to eat, or the perfect running stick. He also likes to chase after squirrels, birds, and ducks, or want to say hi to any passing dog, no matter how far away from us that it is. So these runs turn into core exercises (holding myself upright.. and on both feet.. when he dashes after the small game) and resistance running (pulling him along as he stops to mark everything or whine at the dog across the street that I won't let him meet. He loves runs after windy days where there are sticks galore! to choose from. His favorite is one about 4-6' long that is awkward to carry in his mouth. He's so happy as he carries it in his month, his ears flapping and and extra bounce in his step like he won the lottery.

In addition to small game, other dogs, and sticks, he likes poop. I knew he liked cat poop as he'd eat from my cats litter box (dessert!) when we'd forget to block off the basement steps, but I didn't know about his fondness for other dogs poop, or even horse manure, until this weekend while running along the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail. I was able to stop him the few times he lunged for it (oooh! piece of candy!), but I'm sure he got a few morsels.

On Wednesday he hit the mother load.

He ignored the remnants of the dead squirrel along Maine St and paid no attention to the other runners coming at us. The umbilical cord stretches quite a bit, and if I can tell that he's going to run at someone instead of by them, I'll usually pull it closer and shorten it. After running by the the Tidal Basin, crossing the Kutz Bridge along Independence Ave and passing W Basin Dr, that's when he saw it. I was in an endorphin filled state of bliss and looking at the cherry blossoms (no crowds!) when he lunged toward the road. He wasn't going after a car, a squirrel, or a bird.. it was at the largest pile of manure along the side of the road!

He tore into that pile of manure like kids opening presents on Christmas morning. I pulled him back and held him between my knees as I pried his mouth open (no! mine!) and shook out those yummy clumps of hay and godsknowswhateverelse. I wasn't quick enough to grab his collar as he went right at the yumminess at his paws that just fell out of his mouth. I repeated the removal process and walked away from the treats with him still between my knees, just far enough so he couldn't get at it for a third time.

We continued on.. him smacking his chops and me inspecting the manure on my gloves.. while those in there cars along Independence Ave SW enjoyed the show.

Sometimes it is worth it to drive to work and catch such a spectacle at someone elses expense.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Finally, a good weekend.

I needed this weekend.

As bad as a run I had at HAT this weekend, I needed to finish it. I thought going into the race that a PR was doable, but realized that morning that the course had changed. I was also dealing with a pain in my butt and lower back from a few days before. It bothered me so much that I thought about dropping out at the 17.3 mark, but kept going. It was only 13.7 more, right? Luckily it eased up as the race went on. I finished about 15 minutes slower than last year, but it was my longest run so far this year. That's not saying much with a 100 miler a little less than 7 weeks away. I do, however, have several back to back weekend runs of 20-15 miles one day and 10-15 the next, with at least one of those days being on the MMT course.

I'm not out to win it, I'm just out to do better than last year, and so far, training wise, I'm way ahead of where I was last year. Nutrition was good as was my pacing. I just need to get my head out of my butt sometimes.

Following up Saturday's run with 11 miles on the BRR course - Fountainhead to Hemlock - was also good motivation. It was slow going, but the last time I was out there, I bailed after 2 painfully slow hours. Nutrition was okay, but it was good to get on a runnable trail instead of 'hiking' 11 miles, which is what I basically end up doing at MMT. The quads were feeling it yesterday, was are the Achilles, but a good walk, some yoga, light stretching, and soaking the feet seem to help. I look forward to getting in a few miles after work.