Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Experiment

Liv, me, El, and Cole on the Airline Trail, White Mountains, heading to Madison Springs Hut in early August 2011.

Okay, I just need to break the ice of such a long absence from posting to my own blog. Life is full of good stuff. Though I try not to write too much about my personal/family life on this post, I do want you to know my elder daughter is a freshman in college and loving every moment of it. My other daughter has adjusted well to her older sister’s departure and is continuing the strong Keene presence on their high school playing fields.

The Ironman Eagleman in June saw my return for a personal record on that course. I was thrilled to have competed and absolutely bowled over that I improved in the rankings. My one-word adjective for my Eagleman experience 2011 is “luscious”. The water was so warm and nice, the bike was sunny, calm, and beautiful, and the run was a bearable temperature with a light breeze to cool us in every direction, or so it seemed.

The summer saw racing the Star on Wednesday nights, racing the log canoe on the weekends, and keeping with a light to moderate activity level of swimming, biking, and running. The families reached the White Mountains in August for some gorgeous hiking. I spent a week in Utah with my sister where I got to do some trail running (Yay!), swimming, hiking, summiting, and mountain biking.

Me outside Moab near Dead Horse State Park about to venture onto my first solo mountain bike experience.  I went downhill for 8 miles here and it took me over an hour.  Some spots I had to walk they were too scary for this flat lander.

Two weeks ago my friend, Pete, and I towed Seabiscuit, my Star, to New York for a Centennial Regatta for the Star class in Larchmont. We had our chance to shine; we even led two of the races, but victory was not to be ours.

The experiment: Two weeks ago I signed up for a half marathon in Chestertown. What was I thinking? I have not been running, and I certainly haven’t run anything close to 13 miles since Eagleman in June. So, as the time drew near, I succumbed to the notion that I would simply make this race an experiment; one where I would do what I could in the hopes that all my other contortions of late would give me the stamina to finish strong. I’m happy to say that I faired well.

However, I made two mistakes. The first was forgetting to roll on anti-chafe protection. I have the worse case of chafe my underarms have ever had because of a rough shirt I was wearing. The second mistake was not eating anything immediately before the race and not carrying any fuel with me. To counteract this mistake I drank Gatorade at every aid station, and that saw me through.

I felt good at the start and quickly fell into an 8:05 pace for the first 5 miles in the warm, windless misty morning. Not knowing whether I would bonk later, I cracked off on the speed, but kept a good 8:15 pace going. All was well until mile 10 when my knee started to act up…nothing too serious, it was just talking to me to slow down. I finished around 1:51 for the 13.1 and felt very pleased with my performance. I didn’t think there were as many as 40 people ahead of me, but there was. I finished 8th of 22 in my 10 year age group. Now, because I am no stranger to injury, I did take it easy yesterday and with my recovery today. I’m very thankful for what I can do.

Me with Mikaela after her 2nd place victory at this year's Chesapeak Man Skipjack Triathlon.  At the same time I was running the half, down south in Cambridge a friend was running her first triathlon, Chesapeake Man’s Skipjack, a 70.3+ Ironman distance. Mikaela swam with us for the first time over 4th of July weekend when six of us met at MRYC for a swim in the Miles River at daybreak. We were wowed by Mikaela’s fitness level and speed in the swim and the bike that followed. I believe it was that day that we convinced her she needed to sign up for a triathlon, so she did in a large way by being 2nd overall for the women in yesterday’s event. So cool!

This is the season for the trails and I look forward to the first fall run at Tuckahoe with friends.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Full Speed Spring Adventures of Wood Frog

Wood Frog's chin after Sat. May 14th's bike wreck; 7 stitches and lucky as all get out!
Note: Sorry for the lack of text body lately, but hope you enjoy the pictures; its been a busy and productive spring.
The photos are not in chronological order; they're rather random :)

Wood  Frog, baby Paige, and proud papa Chris after completing the Nanticoke River Triathlon in Bivalve, Maryland on May 1st.  Yes, if you can believe it, they now have triathlons for infants, ha ha!

Davinder, Kim, and Keene 10 miles into the Six Pillars Bike Tour on Saturday, May 7th.  I won a bike in a raffle that day, Yay!

Adkins Arboretum gave "Race Day Trees" instead of tee shirts after the 5K.  Note: it has been a very cold spring, hence the post race garb in this picture; it was to friggin cold to stay in my wet running clothes.

The B&A Trail saw Wood Frog trekking along its course on a Tuesday afternoon bike ride.

A college tour for my daughter saw Wood Frog plodding along the banks of Lake Champlain, just outside of Burlington, Vermont.  It was a gorgeous morning.

This early morning ride in Durham, North Carolina provided opportunity for this great shot of the Chapel at Duke University where my niece just graduated.  Christie will play the quarter finals of the NCAA women's lax championship in Florida today.

Easter morning's 45 miler took me to Tilghman Island.

The Rise Up Runner Trial Dawgs crew for 2011: Liz, WF, Kathy, Tuckerman, and Dom.  April 30th.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fort McHenry

Wednesday gave chance for me to take in a run at Fort McHenry and the Federal Hill area of Baltimore.  Sunny skies and 60 degrees followed me for the entire run.

Orpheus keeps watch at Fort McHenry.  He's been there for over 90 years.

The border trail at Fort McHenry is part of the Baltimore Marathon course.  Valliant, Pierre, Jim, and I plodded this very pathway on a beautiful October day in 2007.

Nearly an identical southerly breeze blew during my run this week as on the day of our Marathon in 2007.

Baltimore's skyline is not complete without the Domino Sugars sign.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Frozen Friends

 Dom, AK, Vallian, Lori, and Wood Frog pose after a rousting frigid run at Tuckahoe State Park

Noisy silence prevailed as the sound of a diesel truck rolled on the distant highway, the trickling of the unfrozen brook made splashing sounds, and the forest gave up her indistinguishable rustlings. I was standing, listening for them; my ears uncovered in the 15 degree, early January morning darkness.

“Any time, now,” I thought as I reflected on how only a friend waiting for his friends would do something as odd as travel through a graveyard past the open crypt on a frigid morning before sunrise and wait for his friends to pop out of the forest.  They would have run close to five miles in the dark when they arrived to an awaiting me and warm, running Julius with a spread of aid station treats.

“What was that noise? Not, them,” I thought, “Perhaps they came through another way; I’d better return to Julius.”  As I took my first step of back-tracking toward the car I broke a twig with my foot.  The sound of it scared a large deer (it might as well been an elephant) within 30 feet of me, which, in turn, scared the be-jeez-zus out of me.  I wouldn’t be able to hear my four friends coming if I had to with the pounding sound of my heartbeat in my ears.

Tuckerman with frost on his beard. No, it's not gray.

After making it out of the woods to the open at the end of Tuckahoe Valley Trail, I soon heard some familiar “whoops” which could only have been made by my friends.  Dominic and AK were first to cross the bridge which led the trail to where I was standing.  Soon to follow were Lori and Michael, aka Tuckerman.  They were frosted; collars, chests, beards, and eyelashes; and breathing heavily, exuding the heat only a runner can produce.  The day was just starting to show signs of light. Tuckerman had been lighting the trail for the others (later recounted that this was one of the darkest runs on record), but after meeting up with me, he tended to forget that he had a blaring light on his head until we reminded him it was no longer needed.

The Julius Aid Station at Mile 5, graveyard.

They helped themselves (and raved appropriately) to the refreshments laid out as the Beatles belted out “Help” on my Ipod.  The next thing I knew we were jaunting down Cliffside Creek Trail in low light.  The ground was hard and bumpy which made for some mildly rough going on the feet and ankles.  But, there we were, five friends trekking though the Tuckahoe woods, catching up with each other (it had been a long time since I’d run with any of them, maybe at least a year), enjoying the morning silence, and simply steaming through the Eastern Shore air.

Mike in the frost.

Our traditional river crossing was made remarkable in only that what ever got wet was board-frozen within two minutes.  Valliant ran with shorts that rubbed like cardboard, and I now had stiff bell bottoms on the cuff of my pants.  Lori was smart in removing her outer pants and slipping them back on after the crossing.  By the time we got up on the upper elevations of the Little Florida Trail, the morning was lighting the frost on all the briars making a beautiful display of patterns.
Lori zooming in the frosty morning. That is frost on her jacket, yikes.

Little Florida led into Pee Wee’s, and then out onto the back road to Tuckahoe Lake and bridge.  There would be no dilly dallying for us as we snapped a group picture then piled into Michael’s car.
Old St. Joseph's Church

They dropped me at the graveyard where Julius awaited.  At one point while changing into my church clothes I found myself naked…yes, in a graveyard.  I thought, “Only in the country would I get away with this.  I really hope no one comes to visit any relatives right now.”

Full view of Old St. Joseph's Church. Check out the additions.  The house part is the original church.

Mass was underway when I arrived at the Old St. Joseph’s Church in Cordova.  Unfortunately, I had just missed Fr. Olsen’s homily.  Fr. Olsen is a true gift to our community, and my whole family has been enjoying his work here.  After Mass I further enjoyed connecting with several old friends.  Old St. Joe’s stands alone in the middle of a field.  Originally, disguised to look like a house, the church served the early Catholics on the Eastern Shore.  The more modern addition (circa 1901) gives it a more church appeal.  It is the church that I took my bride, Carita.
Today was about friends.  Whether waiting for their arrival in the dark on a lonely trail in the middle of the forest or knowing they would be waiting for me on the other side of the church’s centuries old doors, I’ve come to rely and love my friends.  Live, love, and serve ~ Michael