Friday, April 10, 2009

A Visit to Mount Felix

I took the day off from work and spent an enjoyable day with the family. I also got in a short run this morning. My IT band is still sore, but it is getting better. Just need to continue the stretch, ice, rest regimen.

This afternoon we stopped by the Mount Felix Vineyard & Winery, a vineyard located about four-and-a-half miles from our home.

Our intent, with two kids in tow, was to only stop long enough for a quick look and pick up a bottle or two of wine. However, owners Pete and Mary Ianniello are wonderful hosts and entertained Braedon with kite flying and the use of their children’s play fort. The wines are fantastic, and we brought home two bottles; a dry red for me, and a sweet white for my wife. We are big fans of food and drink, and try to buy our food and drink from local sources as often as possible. Finding gems like the Mount Felix Vineyard continues to make buying local a real treat.

We saw this speed limit sign on the way into the vineyard, and I just love unusual road signs.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Go Huskies!

My left leg is still slightly sore, but I feel it is getting better. If this continues, perhaps as soon as Friday, I’ll try some easy running. Work has kept be busy this week, and tomorrow will be another busy day. I got home almost two hours later than normal tonight. My wife greeted me at the door, then left for a run/walk with Joe Louis, while I stayed home with the boys; one sleeping, and one screaming. The highlight of my day was an email from my wife with this picture attached.

Brenden is wearing a Michigan Tech Huskies shirt. Michigan Tech, which is located on a peninsula on Lake Superior and is a dumping ground for lake effect snow, is where I went to college. My wife is from the Virginia Beach area, and although we lived in Michigan while I attended MTU, the snow in our town on Lake Michigan was nothing but a dusting compared to that of MTU. The one and only time my wife visited MTU was for my graduation. It was May 10. It snowed. Ice still covered vast portions Lake Superior. She was not impressed, and that, in part, is why we now reside in balmy Maryland.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


My left IT band is still causing soreness after only a mile or so of running, so I will be taking the next several days off. This changes my goals for next month’s Delaware Marathon. I was never anticipating running a personal record at Delaware, but I was planning to run strong and run faster during the second half of the race. How strong I am able to run remains to be seen and my biggest goal is now to complete the race so that I can again donate my finisher’s medal to Medals4Mettle.

Aside from the mental blues, one of the challenges of adjusting to less running is to recognize when I should be full. My eyes and stomach are telling me to eat as if I were still running thirty-five miles a week, while actually running less than ten miles the past couple of weeks means I’m gaining weight. Not too much, but a little. I guess I’m just storing up some extra energy for when I’m really able to run a long, long way.

Not running over the weekend has given me more time to pay attention (or cross-train) to the needed yard work. I mowed the lawn yesterday for the first time this year. We also enjoyed a visit from a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Running Update and Other Ramblings

Running Update: My wife is doing well with her running progress and thanks everyone for the kind words of encouragement. She isn’t following any particular training program, but what she is doing is similar to the Couch-to-5K running plan. I, on the other hand, was rather sore for much of the week. With the exception of my left IT band, I feel pretty good now. I did anticipate two weeks of low intensity running/recovering after last week’s 50K. The IT band discomfort may delay things a little, but I have had IT band soreness in the past, although in my right leg, and am not too concerned at this point. My long run/walk of the week was this morning’s three miler to the grocery store and back.

Other Ramblings: My family moved into our current home five years ago. Since then, we have always maintained a bird feeder, but only recently, due in part to informative posts from the Frost Bottom Farm, have we taken an interest in the type of birds that visit our feeder. While my wife is still on maternity leave, our end of the work day, “how was your day,” chit-chat now includes a report of the birds that visited our yard on that particular day. Having an active feeder also brings in a fair amount of birds of prey, which can be exciting (well, not if you are a little bird – or at least not in a good way. But can be exciting for the people that maintain a bird feeder and do not have cable or satellite TV).

Last week, my wife took this picture of what we think is a young Sharp-shinned Hawk. He/She was perched in the maple tree in our front yard.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A New Runner!

Regularly having blisters on my feet, blackened and/or missing toenails, and after watching me hobble around the house for a few days after last week’s race, why would anyone in my house want to start running? Well, I had to ask my wife that question yesterday when she got back from a run.

Braedon greets Mom returning from a run

She said she wanted to begin an exercise program and thought that running could be an activity that we do together. While she did make it very clear that I would not be gaining a new training partner for twenty-plus mile runs, I am happy for her and hope she learns to appreciate running as I have. The boys and I are cheering for her. One last piece of wisdom for her; the blisters don’t hurt that bad, and the blackened/missing toenails look way worse than they actually feel.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

HAT Run 50K

My lungs were fine for the entire run, but my legs were, and still are screaming at me for the hills I forced them to carry me over. I felt a little woozy for about a half an hour beginning around twenty miles. My feet were soaked most of the race and my left shoe was so water-logged that it made a squishing noise with every stride for the last, oh, twenty-six miles or so. Am I ready to sign up and do it all over again? Hell yeah!

The 21st Annual HAT Run began on a calm, clear, yet chilly morning with temperatures in the twenties. Once underway, it warmed up to near fifty degrees – perfect weather for running. I started out slow, knowing that the hills on the trails would demand a lot of energy as the run progressed. The trails concerned me, as none of my training runs were on trails. I was looking almost straight down during the first several miles of single track trails while I concentrated on avoiding tripping over tree roots, rocks, and the many other runners I was around early in the race. There were more stream crossings than I can remember, but only four of them required getting really wet feet. Some runners were good at skipping dryly across the rocks. I know if I tried that stunt I would have ended up swimming, and the water was cold, so I walked through the water.

Not being a trail running, I learned that my current fitness threshold of comfortable road running (or running over fairly benign terrain) for well over four hours is roughly equivalent to three hours and fifteen minutes of hilly trail running. At the 3:15 mark, I began to get very hungry, woozy, and thirsty all at the same time. I was eating GU every half hour, but at this point, the thought of another GU was revolting. I kept slow yet steady progress to the next aid station, which was about twenty minutes away. The volunteers at this event were wonderful. While they took my CamelBak and filled it up with water, I devoured some M&M’s, drank a cup of Gatorade, and grabbed a couple of pretzel sticks to go. Once I got going again I began to feel better, er, not to the point of running fast, but at least I had some calories to fuel me to the next aid station. Running between these two aid stations is probably the easiest part of the course. There is about a mile of trail and then roughly three miles of mostly downhill roads (some paved, some packed dirt). At the next aid station it was more M&M’s, and this time two chocolate chip cookies. Now there was only five miles to go and all but the slightest inclines looked daunting. My legs were complaining – and I was hearing them, but I told them to stop complaining and get me to the finish line. And they did. It took me nearly five hours and fifty-three minutes, but I finished. The post race food was great. The hot dogs and chili didn’t sound as appealing to me as the chocolate brownies and a nice glass of Coke.

Despite the minor physical discomfort, I enjoyed running through the forest, and chatting with other runners along the way. I also think that trail running is much more laid back than a road marathon. Oh, there is still a lot of competition, for sure, but I also sensed camaraderie amongst runners. Many of the fastest runners, some of whom finished nearly two hours before I did, were still on-hand, clapping and cheering, even as I crossed the line. You likely won’t see that at a road marathon, where the winners are whisked away as soon as they cross the finish line. So yes, I’ll be back again – probably next year!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Urho’s Day

Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen!”
St. Urho, the Patron Saint of Finland, allegedly shouted the above saying (roughly translated as, “Grasshopper, grasshopper, go to Hell!”) as he rid Finland of grasshoppers, saving their grapes and crops. I am not Finnish, but I grew up in an area with a lot of Scandinavian influence. While the origins of the legend of St. Urho may be suspect, it makes for a good reason to celebrate. And tomorrow, when the entire world is Irish, I will be too. Enjoy, and be safe.