Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sell Out

Well the Superbowl 10K I mentioned in the last post has sold out already!  This race has become a classic winter race in the Lehigh Valley, I wish we could handle more runners but if there's snow on the ground we lose most of our parking capacity which is the real limit to the number of participants we can hold.  The event has endured snow storms, ice storms and cold temperatures the past few years, but each and every year the crowd of hardy runners show up to test themselves in the middle of winter, likely to see how they're post Holiday / pre-spring goals are shaping up.  I'm headed to a local municipal meeting tonight to (hopefully) obtain the final blessing on the portion of the course that traverses through an established residential neighborhood.  The shirts are ordered, going with the "nightlife" green long sleeve Brooks shirts again this year.  The Sock Guy wool socks are in production, this year they'll be given out to the top 50 male and top 50 female finishers as an extra pat on the back.

I'm also excited that two of our area's premier specialty running stores The Finish Line and Aardvark have again stepped up to provide gift certificates to the top three finishers in each age group.  And as a special thank you to our runners, we'll have all kinds of Brooks goodies including Run Happy sweat towels, tote bags and wrist bands.  Brooks has also thrown a few gift certificates in which will go to our top Masters finishers and our most spirited runners.  A HUGE thanks to Brooks!

My wife, Lauren, has also stepped up and offered to enhance our post race food selection (previously a pizza, soda and BYOB party).  We're looking at providing some hot soup and soft pretzels to add to the mix.  Hopefully our runners will feel that they've been taken care of!

Since I can't race this race anymore, I've been seeking my own winter "test" race.  Looking like I'll be shooting to race the next weekend at the very competitive Frostbite 5 Miler on 2/12.  Last year there were over 1,000 runners!  I'm feeling good, yet a bit antsy as I build up my mileage with all aerobic, easy riding and running.  I'll hit over 50 miles this week, take a step down week next week then it's full blow marathon training.  The goal is to build up to 80 miles per week at my peak, then make a solid run at Boston in April, maybe bring that PR down??

I'm excited for the upcoming Christmas holiday.  Our children are at such a great age (4 and 8) and they're so excited.  You can't put a price on that!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Geler Votre Cul & Limestone Cross at the Kiln Final Mac Weekend RR's


 This past weekend marked the final weekend of local cross racing, and the series finale of the MAC series.  After taking a month off of formal training and racing for anything bicycle related, I was getting excited for a fun weekend.  A weekend cold front (temps in the 30's at race time for both days) piled on top of a storm that dumped 3" of rain to many parts of the East Coast midweek could potentially make for some gnarly conditions.

I was the lone man from Team Lamprey / St. Lukes making the trek to Northeast Maryland, so after an uneventful 90 minute ride I arrived at Fair Hill, part of a huge nature preserve that was formally DuPont land.  It was sunny, but COLD and WINDY.  I was prepared, but worried about cold fingers and toes...which surprisingly were not an issue!  I had put my skinsuit on before I left to avoid changing in the cold.  Grabbed my number and hit the course for a preview.  The course was the most unique course I've ever ridden.  Something for everyone...two sets of barriers, a series of four logs, a steep/short/muddy run up, off cambers, sand, gravel, sawdust, single track through the woods and three trips through some form of structure!!  All totaled, you were off your bike five times per lap...and the lap times were nearly 11 minutes!

I had burned myself out, expecting too much of myself, etc.  So I decided today was total chill, just enjoy the day, be thankful to be out there and finish with a smile.  The start call-ups got a little hectic and somehow I got squeezed out, no worries.  I felt a little rusty in warmups, the lack of riding for the last month was evident...as was the 40 miles of running I had put in Tues/Wed/Thurs/Friday leading up to the race.

Off we went, I made a few good choices early and found myself top 15 in the field of 40+ riders.  Then someone bobbled in the mud in front of me, forcing me to stop and a good 10 or more riders to pass me.  Off to work I went.  I played "yo yo" with my friend Johan...I'd catch him, then fall, then catch him, then fall.  With two to go I found my groove, started consistently catching and passing people.
One of the 3 buildings we went through.  I'm tucked in behind Johan.
(photo credit http://crosswife.blogspot.com/)
 With a lap to go I had just passed Johan and set my sites on two guys fighting it out in front of me.  By the last turn I was dangling just behind them, but came up just seconds short of them.

Last lap out of the sand area, trying to bridge the gap.  Would not be.  Note the soil sample on my leg warmers.
(photo credit http://crosswife.blogspot.com/)
In the end I was 17th.  A solid day, lots of fun and got some of the rust out.  Went home and got geared up for day two.

Day two was only 10 minutes from home.  It's a cool venue at an old camp, located down in the valley which meant COLD and FROST.  I basically wore the same setup to stay warm, no wind today but cooler temps in the low 30's.  The sun was out, but only hitting certain areas due to shadows.  The course was tough, a few good climbs which got slippery, some hard/frozen corners and the rest was greasy, thawed out mud.  Plenty of corners that rewarded flow.

I didn't miss out on the call up today, grabbed a spot in the middle of the second row behind a few friends.  I hadn't felt too good in warm ups, feeling the lack of riding and the race the day before....plus I was FREEZING!  Game time came, and I put my game face (a big smile) on.  We were off, and I had a great jump and shift through the first straight...coming out into the first few turns in the top 8 or so.  Perfect, right where I wanted to be.  I think my tire pressure in my Michelin Mud2's was dialed in on my Easton's, my cornering was really helping me, and I was riding the two consecutive uphills well.  Three guys got off the front and I was dangling off the second group of three.  I tried to drill the first few laps to get some separation, focusing on just being smooth.  I kept checking the gap, and with two to go I could see Chad catching me.  I was consistent enough in the long run, keeping nearly 30 sec on Chad and finishing in 7th.  I was pretty stoked with this ride, my highest finish in this competitive field....and my first time in the money in a MAC race....sweet!  A check for $35 won't pay the bills, but it soothes the soul!


Passing "the kiln" before hitting the climbs
(photo credit www.cyclingcaptured.com)
By this point the sun was out, temps in the mid 30's....just a beautiful day.  I loaded my stuff up, grabbed a beer and enjoyed some great cyclocross racing.  Got to chat with Johan, Joe, Fatmarc, etc.  I was on the fence about racing this weekend, thought I'd just go for a long run and put cross 2011 behind me.  I'm glad I raced....cross is filled with good people who like to ride bikes.  I'm glad I'm part of it.  I also want to thank the promoters of both races.  Cross racing in December isn't priority on many people's list, but for those die-hards, and the ones racing Nationals and Worlds, Cross in December is a must.  Props for saving the best two courses for the end!

Now to build up my running base in preparation for HAT50K and Boston in the spring....but I'm also going to mix it up with a trip to Masters Cyclocross World Championships in Louisville in Janauary....CAN.NOT.WAIT!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lights in the Parkway 5K


I love to race at night.  The city of Allentown, only a 10 minute drive from my house, has a cool annual tradition of setting up Christmas lights throughout the Little Lehigh Parkway which draws people from all over.  It's called "Lights in the Parkway" and you pay by the carload to drive through and pick out your favorite lights.  So last year an industrious runner / race director came up with the idea to hold a 5K race through the lights the night before they officially open to the public.  As I mentioned earlier, I love to race at night, so I was sure to toe the line for the inaugural event last year.  I was not disappointed, so I decided to sign up for the second running which was held on Wednesday night.

It is nearly December in the dark, so it has potential to be COLD, but we were treated to decent temps in the mid 40's with a 10mph wind or so.  The race doubled in size, nearly 500 finishers this year, so I made sure to start close to the front.  I decided to forgo a headlamp this year and just use the light that was "provided" via the displays and a couple of portable light units.
 I hadn't been running much lately, so I just wanted to go have a good time, and on a good night I would better last year's time.  The course is hilly, and running in the dark on a gravel path slows you down as well, but I accomplished my goal, bettering last year's time by 6 seconds!  I had a great time in the process, although you wouldn't know by looking at the picture below with only a half mile to go!

The Holiday season is gaining some serious momentum.  We got our tree last weekend, and I even started to bake some cookies with the kids!  The end of the year also means one more thing on my calendar, planning for the Superbowl 10K.  This will be my third year directing the race, and we've already had nearly 400 people sign up.  It is capped to 550 registrants, so I expect to have it sold out very soon.  We're going to add soup and soft pretzels to our post race pizza / soda / BYOB party this year, I'm sure that will be a welcomed change.  This is one of my favorite races of the year, I miss not racing it but I do enjoy giving back to the running community and directing it.