Striding Through

Because a life well lived always finds the right pace

Monthly Archives: October 2009

No more hype, let the games begin

It’s been a long 6 days, waiting for the World Series to begin. But tonight it’s finally here. My Phillies, the defending World Series champs, take on the Yankees, and wouldn’t you know it?  Hardly anyone in the media picks the Phils to repeat.

Maybe they’re right, and the Phils will crumble before the Yanks and all their “aura and mystique.” NOT! This is a seasoned team that knows how to win and fears no one.  They will not crumble the way the Twins and Angels did.

It seems all the Yankee fans I know are busy measuring their trophy cases for a new piece of hardware. I’m sure the Yankee players aren’t thinking that way, though, and that’s why this should be a great series. I believe in my team and that they will defend their title but either way, may the best team win. Play Ball!


Black Hills 10k Trail results

It was a mixed bag on the results for me this morning at the Black Hill Trail 10k, sponsored by Montgomery Country RRC. Overall I ran 45:35, which is nowhere near my road/track PR (38:56) but good for only my 2nd trail race, and huge improvement over my trail debut in North Carolina 2 months ago. I’m not sure how big the field was (100 maybe?) but I was 17th overall…and the dreaded 4th place in the AG.

The race started on a road going uphill so I opted to stay slow for a while and ease into it. Still I was around 15th heading into the woods. Then followed a couple miles of quick rolling hills. I came into the water stop at 5k about mid-22s, still feeling fairly fresh, hoping to make a strong push late. At this point the trail started getting quite rocky which made footing a little tricky but I held my position at 17th. With about 1.5 to go I decided it was time to make my move. I caught and passed the guy ahead of me and then started slicing into the lead of the next guy. Unfortunately that was poor planning on my part because next thing I know we’re back on pavement scaling a massive hill; it had to be at least 12% and went on for about a half-mile. Suffice to say I was toast after that, faded badly and got caught from behind by another guy.

With better tactics I probably would have been top 15. Oh well.

For a club race and a first-time course this was pretty well organized. I haven’t done a MCRRC club race before but as a DC Roadrunners Club member I came away impressed. The course was well marked and there were plenty of course marshals out there to make sure nobody got lost (important when you’re tromping around the woods tired). I’d definitely run it again…and in the meantime will have to plan some trips up this way to train.

Now it’s time to focus on training over racing for a while. The big target for the fall is the half marathon at Philadelphia on 11/22. If everything holds up for I should be in for a great result that day. Between now and then increasing endurance will be a priority. On tap next weekend – probably a 20 miler.

Hopefully Happy Trails this weekend

After taking last weekend off from racing to celebrate our anniversary, it’s back out there for me this weekend, for something called the Black Hill Trail 10k, sponsored by the Montgomery County Road Runners Club. Apparently it’s a first-time race, so I really know nothing about it. But the race fee is only $10 and I have run on some other trails near this venue, at Seneca Creek State Park, and those are really nice. So we’ll see.

As with most trail races I’m not going with any set goal times; there are too many variations during a trail race for predictions to be meaningful. Plus comparing trail times to road or track times is like comparing apples to oranges. So I’ll just look to have a good race and hopefully place well relative to the rest of the field.

At this point I’m not sure whether I should go with my trail shoes or cross-country spikes. I guess I’ll bring both pairs on Saturday and decide there. That said, if any readers have information about this course, I’d love to hear from you.

race report – Great Pumpkin 5k 10/10

I had a pretty good day at this race, a nice way to finish out the fall 5k races.

I got there with lots of time to warm up, then had even more time when they decided to delay the start by 15 minutes. It was a pretty large field for a 1st time race with about 1400 runners. Luckily I was able to get myself ensconced in about the third or fourth row of the start corral.

Off we went and I had to shed a lot of slower people early to get to the position I wanted. But I also didn’t want to go too crazy. First mile in 5:55. In Mile 2 we hit a long straightaway with a nasty headwind (plus it was starting to rain a bit). Still I didn’t lose much here as I hit 6:06 for the split. But at that point the lack of any recent long runs really got me. I did the last 1.1 in 7:18 and just focused on trying to hold what I knew was going to be a pretty good AG finish. Sure enough it was.

26th OA
25th Male
2nd in 45-49 AG

DC Mayor Adrian Fenty was supposed to run this race. We even talked about it last week after the Army Ten Miler. But he didn’t make it. Too bad, I was ready for him. 😉

That makes 3 straight 5Ks where I’ve won some hardware. Well, OK the one a couple of weeks ago was actually a running shoe store gift cert. Still it’s a nice roll to be on and I’ve seen the times drop from 19:43 back in August when I just coming off injury to where I am now. That’s probably the last 5k of the season for me, and if it is that’s not a bad place to jump off for 2010.

My only regret – not being able to stick around for the Oktoberfest afterwards! That would have been fun.

Next race – something called the Black Hills Trail 10k race, in Germantown, MD. I doubt it will be anything like the trail 10k I ran back in August but it should be challenging. I focused on tempo trail running last night in anticipation.

Yet another race this weekend

Fall racing season continues this week, with the Anthem Great Pumpkin 5k in Reston.  It’s basically a quick run around Reston Town Center, so it should be relatively flat and well-suited to a fast time. Whether I can run a fast time, however, depends on how well I’ve recovered from the Army Ten Miler of last weekend. For about the first three days of this week, my legs felt shot. But they seemed to be turning the corner yesterday, when I went for an easy 6.6 miles and threw in a fast finish over the last half-mile.

This may very well be my last 5k race of the fall season. Goal again will be to get to 19:00 and hopefully break it. That’s ambitious, though. The closest I have come is 19:35 so anything below that mark will be considered a success.

It will probably be cool and rainy at race time tomorrow, so that will make things interesting for sure.  I’ll be back with a race report afterwards.

Northern Virginia’s Own? Maybe not so much

Is anyone else as irritated as I am seeing these McDonnell campaigns signs in the median strips of Fairfax, proclaiming the GOP candidate as being “Northern Virginia’s Own?” OK, so the guy did live in Fairfax County — thirty five years ago. Back then Fairfax was a semi-rural place, not the massive suburban DC edge city that it largely is today. Back in those days, his values, which no doubt formed the basis for his notorious master’s thesis later in life, may even have fit in around here. But not so anymore; NoVA has been blue for years and it’s getting moreso each election cycle.

That’s probably why I really liked today’s column from the Washington Post’s Robert McCartney.

After 1973, McDonnell took himself and his far-right beliefs to elsewhere in the state where presumably they found a comfortable home, and afforded him a political career whose success was based in no small part on opposing Northern Viriginia’s needs.  But now he is rediscovering his Northern Virginia “roots” and (for NoVA audiences only), repackaging himself as a moderate because he needs the region in order to be governor.  He must be hoping voters up here either have amnesia or are simply not paying attention.

Post season is on!

My Phillies got off to a very nice start today in Game 1 of the National League Division Series with a 5-1 victory over Colorado. The win had to feel good for our guys, with the memories lingering of being swept by the Rockies in 2007. Cliff Lee shook off a dodgy September to go the distance. At the very least it won’t be the same this time!

As for the offense, no home runs were hit, probably due to the swirling winds around Citizens Bank Park. But the Phillies served up a nice dose of something the Rockies typically do very well, stringing together lots of timely hits and throwing in some good baserunning. It’s early in the series but as they’ve done all season, the defending World Series champions rose to the occasion when they needed to do so. So far, so good.

Full report and box score here.

Army Ten Miler 10/4/09


66:28 – PR by :14
546/21289 OA
501/11690 OA Male
44/1549 AG


This was my fourth consecutive year of running the Army Ten Miler. In every year, I’ve taken a big chunk of time off the previous year’s ATM performance, on average about 2.5 minutes. But I knew that would be tough to repeat this year. Still I went ahead and set myself a goal for this race of 65:00 which would represent yet another 2:30 or so improvement. I figured, why not? It’s aggressive but you have to aim high, right?

I set myself an alarm for 5am the night before, but when I got up I quickly found out that I must have accidentally reset the alarm for 6am!  So much for taking the metro, I’m driving now…luckily it’s not that far and I still had plenty of time. I parked, made a quick bathroom stop in the Pentagon City Mall, and I even got over to the bag check a good bit earlier than I probably would have had I taken the metro.

I checked my gear, grabbed a bottle of water and started casually walking towards the start. At this point it was about 54 degrees and I felt fairly comfortable in my singlet. By the time I waded through the crowds and got to the second corral, the wheelchair racers were about to start. Good, still lots of time to stretch and everything.

About two minutes before the cannon was to go off I took in about 4 Gu chomps and felt ready to go, as good as I’ve felt before a race in a long time. I had a feeling good things would happen today.

Soon the cannon went off and about 30 seconds later I was across the line. 65 minutes meant going at 6:30 miles but I also didn’t want to be a slave to that every mile, especially early with all the crowds to wade through. I tried to stay relaxed and run evenly. First mile – 6:32. Perfect, I said to myself.

At this point the race crosses into DC over the Memorial Bridge, the Lincoln Memorial straight ahead. This is also where some initial jockeying begins as runners try to settle into their cruising pace and sometimes mark off another runner. There is a team competition after all and especially for the military base teams, it seems to be a pretty big deal. I wasn’t too concerned about this as I felt I was already where I wanted to be. I missed the 2-mile split mark and after that came a water stop, which thanks to having a bottle of water beforehand, I didn’t need water yet, so I continued on past it. Not far after that was the 3-mile mark…2 mile split – 13:08. Still right on.

At this point we turn onto Rock Creek Parkway and head briefly underneath the Kennedy Center. This was a bit of a relief as there was a cool breeze blowing. Then it was onto Ohio Drive heading towards Independence Avenue and the 4-mile mark. Split – 6:35.

I then bypass yet another water stop, telling myself I’ll take water at Mile 6 if I need to. But right now I’m still feeling fine on hydration. My legs are starting to tire just a little bit, however. So I concentrate on working my arms more, letting my upper body do more work and that seems to help. Still my pace does slip a little. Split – 6:40, but that still leaves me averaging 6:35 at the halfway point.

Now follows the long straightaway on Independence, passing so many well-known landmarks — World War II memorial, Hirshorn Gallery, Air & Space Museum, to name just a few — and lots of spectators. This is also where you get your first glimpse of the leaders, as they head in the other direction back towards the Pentagon. I saw the eventual winner Reta, and man he was booking. Meanwhile I am trying to hold on to my aggressive pace, but it’s getting harder. I feel a hint of dehydration kicking in too, so I grab a couple more Gu chomps out of my pocket before the 6-mile aid station, then grab a water and within seconds I’m feeling fine again. Amidst all that I forget to hit my watch for a 6-mile split but get a split at 7, after the quick loop on Constitution, across the Capitol and back onto Independence. 2-mile split – 13:25. It’s getting tough; 65:00 is fading away but I know I can still beat my PR of 66:42 (set in Columbia MD, Feb. 2008 ).

Here the wind gets pretty tough. It was already blowing against the way we’re now running but the buildings on each side add the wind tunnel effect. My quads and calves are starting to burn a little from the effort but once again I focus on the upper body to propel me. I hope like hell that my pace doesn’t drop into the 7s as I yo-yo back and forth with some guy in a red singlet from some Army base. We turn the corner and there’s the water stop. I take just a little for the final push. Next up is the 8-mile marker. Split – 6:48…I’ve survived my worst mile of every 10 miler.

We head past the Jefferson Memorial towards the 14th St. bridge, which is feared and loathed by many who run this race and the Marine Corps Marathon later this month. I’ve never found it that tough, but I have to say this time it felt a little more taxing. Still I’m faring better than a lot of others. I drop red singlet guy only to get caught by somebody in Virginia Tech ROTC singlet. We work off each other a bit and then he really takes off on me at around 8.5. I decide it’s too early to go with him, to just keep my pace. Split – 6:46, coming back now. What is it about that 8th mile?

We’re now across the bridge and back in Arlington County, with just one more hill to climb. I know what comes next: downhill and then the furious sprint to the finish. Checking my watch I know the PR is still there for me, but I’m going to have to work for it. I step it up a little bit each 60 seconds, until the final downhill drop comes with about 800 to go. This is my time, I tell myself, now bring it! I’ve even caught back up to VA Tech guy. Now it’s around the hairpin turn for the final 200 and I’m in my element as the old track guy…full sprint to the mat. It’s the best feeling in the world when I see that I’ve nailed the PR. Not only that but my last mile turns out to be my fastest of the day at 6:31!

After the finish I run into a friend of mine and we chat for a while and then next thing you know we’re both talking running with the mayor himself, Adrian Fenty. In addition to being mayor of the nation’s capital the guy’s a triathlete and marathoner, and a really good one at that. It turns out he’s running the same 5k as me next weekend. Hmm…maybe I’ll finally take him down there. Admittedly it’s a pretty lopsided rivalry so far.

I can’t say enough how thrilled I am about this race falling together for me. After a spring injury, that led to a difficult day at Boston, and then to a lengthy rehab, to be back in top form so soon has me really excited for the prospects at my other big target this fall, the half marathon at Philadelphia next month. I’m hoping with some more endurance runs under my belt I can go out there with this same pace and nail a monster HM PR!