James River Loop 8-Miler

Trail running was more fun that I expected. It was also less about sightseeing than I thought. I was talking to a friend of mine last week about the upcoming run and he said, “trail running is fun but I never get to see anything but the ground because I fall every time I look up”. I felt bad for the clumsy fellow until I got about 50 yards in from the trailhead. And then I laughed because I’d apparently signed up for 8 miles of staring at the feet of the runner in front of me to see where they were stepping to avoid roots and rocks.

This video is a good illustration of the trail as we ran it (and the stabilized video minimizes some of the motion-sickening I get from these GoPro jams):

As I was looking around at the other runners before the start I set a goal of not-being-last. I was happy to see that I was neither last in my gender nor in my age group. I was close to the bottom, but not on the bottom. I’m also still kind of sore two days later. 8 miles was my longest distance run *and* it was my first trail run so that combo is probably (hopefully?) what’s got me still creaking around. I’ll know tomorrow when I get back to mid-week normalcy.

50 Days to the Half Marathon

I’m pleasantly surprised at how good I am feeling good about it. I have an 8-mile run in the morning that I feel ready for. Tomorrow’s scheduled group run is for 8 miles but Adam and I signed up for that trail run instead. It will be good to mix it up a bit. I haven’t done any trail running before but I know the route from riding MTB so it won’t be completely foreign to me.

I had doubts that 3-3-3 miles for mid-week runs would be enough to support weekend group runs of 6-7-8 miles but it has all turned out okay. The Wednesday run bumped up to 4 miles this week and it was great for me. Compared to the terrible runs I was having on my Whole 10 I don’t doubt for a second that reintroducing carbs has been been massively beneficial. I’ve got more flabby fat on and about, but it makes such a positive difference in my runs that I am cool making that trade.

Revisiting My 13 for 13: Ties?

I hate to call these last couple of Things from my 13 In 13 “ties”. “The jury is still out” is probably more appropriate but would make for a horrendous permalink url.

  • Gundam building – I definitely got started on one of the higher-grade dudes and I was making solid progress. I have a nice little setup in my work room where I can listen to music or podcasts, sip a beer, and tinker/paint/goof off. And then the weather got nice and the last thing I was interested in was sitting inside and trying to decipher Japanese pictograms. Model-building will prove to be a cold-weather activity for me. If I had been thinking this would have gone under the Wins next to Gardening as a half-point. I’ll get back to it once I get through this half-marathon.
  • Meditation – This one will get its own post. I’m a big fan and I want to have room to say more than just in an update blurb.
  • And that is where I stand 3/4 of the way through 2013 on my list of 13 Things I wanted to do. I feel like a champion, actually posting one of the intended-to-be-quarterly updates on that list. I’ll revisit all of these at the end of the year, potentially.

    Revisiting My 13 for 13: Losses

    I’ve certainly been guilty of having eyes bigger than my stomach and my aggressive List of Things for this year proved that out again. I can’t do it all and that’s okay. I’m calling this the Loss list.

    Losses

  • MTB – This one makes sense when I see how much less bike riding I’ve been doing overall. MTB was never a big thing for me anyway and with my commitment to running (and running and running) I just haven’t made the time for much bikes this year.
  • Hiking – This hasn’t come together at all this year. I’ve been taking the kids on the odd run every now and then this summer and it’s been fun. Even though hiking is just walking in the woods (the way we planned to do it) it was never something that we all wanted to do together at the same time so it didn’t happen.
  • Weight Lifting – This one goes in the same pile as the other two. In order to get through the run events I’ve scheduled I have to get training runs in during the week. I’m only willing to commit to so much fitness time and things like weightlifting get bumped. I underestimated how much total time my running when I made this List. I’m stoked to run but it doesn’t leave me much time for other fitness opportunities.
  • Woodworking – I wish I could use running as the excuse (reason!) for not doing more of this one. I took that great frame building class and then didn’t spend the time working on it to get any better. It’s a classic move. Luckily, the tools and the wood stock aren’t going anywhere so I’ll have ample opportunity to get another crack at it.
  • Smoking Meats – I haven’t bought a smoker yet. I’m still planning to do it but it’s way, way off of my radar. It’s more likely that I’m going to start brewing beer again (which I’ve done in the past and had some success with) than try to tinker with smoking.
  • Windows 7 Certification – Work stuff has changed for me since I drew up this list. I still work in the same place but my role is evolving into something new for the first time in almost 20 years. I’m excited. I don’t know that a Windows Cert. is what I need right now but I’m looking for something to work on.
  • Those are the things on the list that I didn’t get to (and likely won’t). I’ll follow up with the third list soon.

    Revisiting my 13 for 13: Wins

    Like a lot of people I had big plans for a new lease on life that I was going to start in January. I brainstormed and hung my list here. At the time I didn’t think any of it was out of reach or impossible and I was mostly right. I’ll start by listing my to-date wins.

    Wins

  • Running – I’ve been running a *ton* this year. Completing the Monument Av. 10k Training Team, running that race (with a less than successful result) and the Carytown 10k, and now on the Half Marathon Training Team means I’ve racked up a bunch of miles. I like where I am with my running. My pace isn’t as fast a I’d like but it’s not something I dread before I go out and do it. I have also gotten better not questioning the point is of a 5 mile run. Even if it doesn’t feel like the best thing ever it’s also not the worst (besides, suffering in 95-degree heat isn’t the best time to have an internal debate about the philosophical merits of physical exercise).
  • Facebook – I hesitate to call this a win because it’s still just goddamn Facebook. But I’m doing it, engaging with people socially online (like they do these days), and it hasn’t killed me. I almost only use it on my phone so my experience hasn’t been the magnificent hassle the desktop experience seems to be. The #1 reason I joined was to keep tabs on my oldest daughter, now a teenager, who I assumed would be all up in the Facebook. I was wrong. She is all up in Instagram so my Facebook efforts have not generated the gains I was hoping for. There has been some benefit to being on Facebook, I’ll admit, but I don’t know that I like it, if you get my meaning.
  • Computer RepairThis one was 100% win. My goal was to bring a small HP laptop I rescued from the bin back to life, and I did it. The first series of repairs required the replacement of the heat sink and the fan. The parts were relatively inexpensive and the repair was surprisingly straightforward. The second phase of repair involved replacing the display. It was not an inexpensive part and a much more complicated process. There was a lot of functionality that I had to be sure was connected cleanly. It was a terrific confidence booster when I powered it on and all of it worked and then didn’t burst into flame.
  • Gardening – I’ll take half a win on this one. I didn’t pay as much attention to plant selection and tending as I planned but that was because the rest of family was gung-ho as hell when it came to planting. We always have unrealistic expectations when we plant the garden (symbolic representation of my of expectations for what I hope to accomplish in a new year?) so the garden gets overcrowded and eventually ignored when we’re in full-on mosquito season and it’s 90 degrees all the damn time. The half-win comes from my successful hop planting and harvest for the Hardywood Brewing RVA IPA. First year bines tend to produce limited cones so I’m excited to see what grows in 2014.
  • Table Top Games – This goes in the win column for sure. It’s tough to get room in the schedule for late-night outings because every morning is an early morning these days so I only got a couple of game nights in at Adam’s. There is plenty of year left and I see another couple, at least. It’s still not something I spend cycles on outside of the table but I like hanging out with the guys and drinking beer.
  • I’ll be back soon with some Losses and not-really-a-tie-but-something-between-a-win-and-a-loss.

    I’m like a surgeon.

    Not in a Weird Al way but in a “can make computer hardware repairs” way. I finally got and installed the replacement display I mentioned here. Like I said there, as long as the manual is clear I don’t feel like I can get too lost. This laptop is super-small but and there isn’t much clearance for cables but it’s all so cleverly engineered that it is tough to get confused. All of the cables end where they plug in. It’s neat.

    And now I have a Windows machine that’s current-gen for work purposes of testing connections and things in Windows as well as the experience of cracking open a laptop and replacing pieces. Good times.

    Funny story, I’m typing this up on the repaired laptop and I keep noticing a weird creak in one of the corners. Like the keyboard of top cover didn’t re-seat properly. It’s only then that it occurs to me that I might not have replaced all of the case screws. It is probably fair to say that I’m not *exactly* like a surgeon.

    Week 9 10k Training Run

    3-30-10k-training

    My last 10k training group run since I’m away for bike rides next weekend. I’m going to have to hustle to break an hour on race day. We’ll see how it goes.

    I wasn’t as into the group as I was last year. The Intermediate group (so-called because the weekly mileage numbers are 2x the Novice group, it’s not pace-based) seems like more “serious” runners. Kind of. I mean, the whole YMCA training team is more about getting people through the race as opposed to getting faster at the race so it’s a stretch to call it “serious”. You can tell that some of the more accomplished runners in the group are there because they’ve had their fill of “serious” running and want to help out with folks who aren’t in that mode. I still like having the group run on Saturday as a huge motivator to get the weekday runs going so I’m going to do some kind of group training no matter what. If left to myself I’ll slack it all the way off.

    I feel like I can handle the weekly mileage which is good since I’m up for the half-marathon training team this summer. That should be interesting.

    I caught a back spasm this morning at about mile 5 which was…unwelcome. I’ll live.

    Devil’s Backbone Mountain Cross 2013

    This was technically a cyclocross ride but I rolled it with my MTB since I don’t have a ‘cross bike.

    mtncross

    Devil’s Backbone Brewery was the start/finish for this 27-mile ride up and over (and up and over and up and over) some tough 17%-20% climbs including a Category 1 summit up and across the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail. This was probably a top 3 most-difficult ride for me. I definitely rate it behind my first century ride but I’m having trouble coming up with another one in front of it.

    I walked a decent bit but felt like I got into a good groove on the 5-mile(!) ascent in the middle of the ride. I was able to draw upon my meditation practice this year to keep focused on making circles (pedaling) while on that climb and really feel like it made a positive difference. That was very cool. Rather it was cold. So cold that there was a good bit of snow still on top of the mountain from a snowfall 10 days prior. The descents were a different fish. Miles and miles of paved downhill on a poorly maintained mountain bike are not the sort of thrills I generally go for. I spent the time trying to convince myself that my odds of survival were just fine. It all worked out in the end but goddamn it was scary through a couple of different sections. The cold, dusty air set me up with a hacking cough through Monday morning. Good times.

    We followed up the ride with some pints and a sandwich. It’s rare that I come home from a tough ride and say “I’m not sure I’m doing that again”, but that’s where I was on Saturday night. I’m a little closer to being tempted to try it again next year now that I know what to expect. We’ll see.

    10k Training Run 3/9/2013

    3-9trainingRun

    I will do my weekday runs this week. I will do my weekday runs this week. I will do my weekday runs this week. I will do my weekday runs this week. I will do my weekday runs this week. I will do my weekday runs this week. I will do my weekday runs this week. I will do my weekday runs this week. I will do my weekday runs this week.

    My long list of excuses for why I didn’t do any weekday runs this week provided no comfort to me. It wasn’t pretty (not that it’s ever *pretty*, but this was especially ugly).

    Too many breaks in the mix and a crap attitude combined for a sub-par run. I got through the miles, though, and that is what counts.

    After running I went and lifted. It felt great to get back to weights.

    (weight in lbs. per side)

    Squats 6x per set: nothing, empty bar, 25, 35, 45, 55, 65
    Bench 10x per set: nothing, empty bar, 25, 35, 45, 55 (5x at 55lbs.)