Monday, February 27, 2012

Feeling Closer To Normal

Yesterday was one of those runs where everything just felt right. I had been nursing a sore back all week, which had left me tired, grouchy, and very frustrated. The injury wasn’t debilitating, but it became annoying very quickly. I wasn’t able to get in my scheduled mile repeats on Thursday, but I felt close to 100% when I woke up on Sunday. I headed to McAllister to meet Tom and Kimberly, and we were joined by Scott , Jessica, Herb, and Joe T as well. The plan was to cruise through an easy 4-5 miles, then pick up the pace for another 5-6 (for everyone else), followed by a solo loop of 10 miles at “race pace”. I was feeling good, and I guess I took off a little faster than I had promised I would. I was just excited to be running on dry trails under a crystal clear blue sky with temps in the 30s. Perfect running weather!!! I had fun talking to everyone, first following Joe, then trying to keep up with Tom “the Rocket” Bowling, who seemed to be dialed in. After 8+ miles, Tom stepped aside and let me lead, and I took us to the end of loop 1, where I said goodbye to everyone and headed back out. The first several miles had been run at a mid 9 minute pace, while the last few were certainly under 9. I felt good and continued to push my pace, averaging 1 9”06 pace for the total 20 miles. I really enjoyed running with good friends, but I equally enjoyed the time I got to spend alone, just me, my music, and the deer. What a great way to start the day.

All in all, I was quite pleased with my run, as I feel like I am rounding into decent shape and putting myself in a good position to break 5 hours at the Prickly Pear 50K next weekend. I just hope the course conditions resemble what I encountered yesterday.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Home Brew

Following in the footsteps of legendary brewmasters Tom Bowling and Eliot Howard, I made my first attempt at a home brew this week, cooking up a batch of robust porter. If it tastes half as good as it smelled when it was cooking, I’m going to enjoy it. All that’s left is to sit and wait a week, then add some sugar and bottle it up.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Still Running

Yes, I’m still here. It’s been awhile since I have posted anything here. Much like my beard, my lack of posting has been due primarily to laziness on my part. Things have felt fairly blah lately, but I’m hoping to change that. I had a fantastic hilly run last Thursday, exploring some new (and some familiar) areas. Saturday saw rain, hail, and a cancelled track meet (at least we got the 3200 run before things got really bad). Sunday found me searching for a dry place to run, of which there weren’t any. I needed to do 25 miles, and the thought of slogging through the mud at McAllister wasn’t appealing. So, I decided to join 9 other runners and take Tony’s Tour of Leon Creek. I had a blast as we slipped around on the mud, mixed in with some pavement. Once again I was stunned by the lack of friendliness from most people we passed. A simple nod or “hello” from me was often returned by silence. The weather was beautiful, we were outside running. Why not be happy!!!

The training for Prickly Pear is going well, and I am really enjoying the chance of pace in my training schedule. That being said, I can’t wait to get back to the hills, Bandera, and preparing for some mountain runs.

(Huge rainbow on Saturday)

(Beautiful sunrise on Sunday)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rainy Rocky

This past weekend marked my annual pilgrimage to Huntsville State Park to pace friends at the Rocky Raccoon 100. This year was very different than the past 2. For starters, the weather gods treated us to rain, lots of it. With the rain came mud, TONS of it. Mixed in with the cold temps at night, and this year’s RR100 was a tough one. Luckily for me I was surrounded by friends and had a blast, despite not sleeping for nearly 36 hours.

The plan was to arrive around noon, in time for Kelli to pace Liza for miles 60-80. I would then pick up Liza for miles 80-93, rest a bit, and pace another friend Eric for his last 20 miles. To make a long story short, both Liza and Eric had to drop out of the race before I was able to pace them (maybe they dropped to avoid me???). Lucky for me, there were several other friends in need of a pacer. I ended up catching up with Rachel, who had stumbled though mile 80, depleted of any energy. Her only reaction upon seeing us was to turn around and mutter, “only 20 miles to go”. Talk about tough!!! I ended up pacing Rachel (more like trying to keep up with her) the last 17+ miles, during which time she ate and drank absolutely nothing (save for a few ounces of Coke). Despite having no calories to keep her going, she finished in under 23 hours, quite a remarkable feat. Upon finishing, we waited under a heat lamp as more Rockhoppers came across the finish line. Jean rolled in about an hour after Rachel, followed by Larry “The Legend” Pearson, Tom (finishing his first 100), Amanda (finishing her first 100), and Elizabeth.We hung around the finish line, cheering runners as they finished. I love the energy and emotion of the finish line. You see smiles, tears, and everything in between. I enjoyed sharing in the excitement of others. After seeing our friends finish, we hopped in the car and made the 4 hour drive back to San Antonio, where a nap awaited.

Although my weekend didn’t turn out exactly as planned, I had a blast. Surrounded by friends, I was able to watch people dig deep, endure hours upon hours of wet feet and mud, rain and cold.I am constantly reminded that the human body can accomplish things we often think impossible, if only the human spirit is strong enough. We can do more than we think we can, pushing ourselves past the limits we once thought possible. Congratulations to everyone who persevered through the 2012 Rocky Raccoon 100.

(Tom at Mile 40)

(Joe P. talking to Amanda)

(Stefan hard at work)

(Lalo after finishing the 50)

(Liza running strong)

(Troy congratulating Anabel after her 2nd place finish in the 50 - still the fastest Pearson)

(Suman going minimalist)

Hal Koerner - RR100 winner and the only man Chris doesn't mind seeing in spandex)

(Joe T. dressed as me, Troy, and the real me)

(Tom kissing his wife after finishing his first 100)

(Group photo at the finish on Sunday)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Headed To Hunstville

It’s been a long couple of weeks, but this week has been especially tough. I’ve got a lot going on at work, and even more inside my head. Lucky for me I get to pace friends running the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler in Huntsville, TX tomorrow. The plan is to log at least 35+ miles with 2 friends. The weather forecast looks ominous, but a rainy day on the trails beats most any kind of weather inside. I’m really excited about the chance to spend many hours on the trails with dear friends. Nothing like a good trail run to make things right.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Introverts Revisited

There has been much talk within our group (and elsewhere) lately (both on and about trail runners being introverts. Sure, we all know loquacious (big word) people who love to run trails, but deep down we all seem to love the solitude that long trail runs bring. We like running with other people, but at the root of our running lies the desire to set out alone, explore new terrain, and enjoy nature. I too love running with friends, but I cherish the moments I spend solo on the trails. There are few things in life that I enjoy more than a good trail run on a beautiful day, music rushing through my headphones. Throw in some mountain singletrack, and I’m in heaven.

This past weekend brought some of the most beautiful weather I could ever imagine. The skies were blue and clear, the air cool and crisp. Over the span of my 2 runs, I logged a total of 35 miles in Bandera and at McAllister Park, and I enjoyed every step I took. Having spent nearly every recent long run as part of a group, I had almost forgotten how enjoyable running alone can be. I do my best thinking when I run solo, seemingly solving every problem in my life. Things seem so much simpler and clear when I’m out on the trail. All my worries go away. Even if it’s only momentarily, life is perfect. Yes, I’m definitely an introvert.