50 State Challenge Map

50 State Challenge Map
States completed

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Next: NJ

I'm back in DC after a nice two weeks in Albuquerque.  It was a fun time.  I had great weather, delicious green chili, and checked New Mexico off the challenge.  It was a fun Half Marathon.  To top it off, I met some awesome people and now have some new friends.

Up next:  New Jersey.  This is the Long Branch Half Marathon.  This is my first time doing a Half in NJ.  And I hear this is a good one.  My sister and brother did it last year and the one detail I took away from their talks that really resonates with me today is that it is FLAT.  It's a flat course and this can be my shot at hitting my 1:30.  The course goes through the neighborhoods and business districts of Long Branch, Monmouth Beach and Oceanport. The finish is an oceanfront finish so there may also be some beach time post race.

I'll be driving up from DC with my sister and good friend Teresa on Friday; both are running it as well. We'll be joined by my brother who is also running it.  I'll be sure to get some shots at the Expo and plenty from the beach.  Stay tuned next weekend!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Albuquerque race day

Albuquerque Half race day was yesterday and I started the morning with the nerves a little on edge.  I felt after six days acclimating to the elevation, I'd be OK.  But, you just never know when you've got 13.1 miles ahead of you.

I finished much better than I anticipated.  I placed 49 overall (641 runners) and 11 in my age group.   I had a 7:38 pace, finishing in 1:40:01.  See here.  I'm very happy with this time.  However, we all know I want a PR of 1:30.  It continues to elude me, but I'll get it.

I'd say the one thing that was a bit annoying with this race was the first two miles.  The start was on a stretch of dirt and when you've got a lot of runners in front of you hitting a dirt road you've got a lot of dirt coming up.  Not good for the breathing or the eyes (especially if you wear contacts).  But, after the opening two miles we hit the pavement and we were good to go.  This was a mostly flat race with the exception of two small hills that came toward the end.  Unfortunately, being this was a fairly small Half there were no large crowds cheering you on throughout the course.  I did see small pockets of a few people here and there.  I do like races with big crowds and I feel most runners do.  The adrenaline boost you can get from a cheering crowd can really help carry you at times when you're starting to run out of energy.

My good friend Doug joined me for this race but did the 10K portion.  He actually placed third in his age group allowing him to receive a medal.  A really great job.  However, we found this out after we got back to his house so he never got his medal!  He did call the events office and left a voice mail so we'll see if he can get it mailed out to him.

A very nice Half in Albuquerque.  I'll continue to train while I'm here for the next five days.  I'm looking forward to seeing how I feel when I get back to DC and at sea level.  The timing couldn't have been better as my next Half is NJ (May 6) and it is all flat - no hills.  I think this may be my 1:30 race.  Stay tuned!

AQ race day pics

Me with my good friend Doug

Waiting for this Half to start

1:40 finish

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Running in "The Kirk"

I went running both today and yesterday after work.  I was anxious to test myself and see what exactly it would feel like to do some higher elevation running.  Yesterday I did 3.5 miles.  Today 5.  As expected, breathing was the challenge.  But, let's take it a step back.

I arrived in Albuquerque Sunday evening and felt fine.  I got to my hotel, had dinner, and went to bed.  No issues.  However, I got up Monday morning for work and didn't feel so hot.  I had a constant headache all day and felt a little dizzy.  I was obviously curious throughout my work day as to how it would be to go running.  So I hydrated and was cautious to take it easy on the green chili.  That stuff is everywhere and amazing, but perhaps not the best to fill your stomach on pre run.

Every breath on my evening run felt heavy in my chest.  It slowed me down to roughly an 8 minute mile.  Not bad.  I'm ok with that ... for now.  I kept it light at 3.5 but probably should have done less.  I didn't get any smarter this evening as I decided to go for 5.  But, today when I got up I did not have a headache.  Am I acclimating?  Probably too soon to tell.  But, I'm certain by this weekend I'll be feeling better.

As always, I'd like to aim for my 1:30.  I won't be upset if I don't make it.  I'd actually be happy if I can finish in 1:45.  I anticipate a much slower pace.  If I surprise myself, great.

After the race I'll be joining my good friend Doug and friends for a BBQ at his house.  I'm very excited for this as I tend to put on a spectacle of eating after every Half I do.  Sunday I'll be taking a drive North to Santa Fe where I'll be sure to post plenty of pics.  I hear it's very nice to visit.

That's it for now.  I'll touch base on race day.

AQ running views

Mountains all along my route

Albuquerque sunset

And gone ...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Albuquerque arrival

So I finally made it to Albuquerque.  It was an OK flight with a layover in Houston.  The best part had to be my flight from Houston to New Mexico where I got an upgrade to first class.  I've got miles on United and it appears there was an extra seat so I got first dibs.  Thanks, United.

If you haven't read prior blog posts, I'm here for work.  I'll be here for two weeks to April 27.  The timing of this request to come here for work was perfect as now I've got six days to acclimate to the elevation before my Half this coming weekend (April 21).  I'll be getting a run in after work every day this week to see how I handle this.  I'm feeling good right now but that can all change was I start hitting the pavement.

I'll keep this short for now as I've got to be up early for work tomorrow.  I'll be sure to post updates on how I'm feeling on my runs.  As everyone knows, I'm always aiming for 1:30 so I consider this a serious challenge.  Stay tuned.

New Mexico (AQ) pics

Not a bad car rental

Monday, April 9, 2012

Did I start a trend?

Thank you to my lovely friend Carly for sending me this link.  It appears the timing of my Half Marathon challenge could not have been better.  Its popularity is soaring!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Micah True

I'll be honest.  I had not heard of Micah True before today.  I was on Twitter and saw tweets on his passing so began to read a bit about him.  It's a tragic story about a great runner who never returned from a 12 mile run.

At 58, many considered Micah a legend in the distance running community. He was the subject of Christopher McDougall's best-selling book, "Born to Run," which recounted how he took up residence in the Copper Canyons of Mexico among the Tarahumara, a desert-dwelling tribe of the best ultrarunners in the world.

There's always something about ultra runners that leaves you in awe.  I mean these are people who do something that most seasoned and dedicated runners wouldn't attempt to do.  They run ultra marathons.  But, what I like about Micah's story is not so much his accomplishments, but how he inspired.  A lot of commentary I've read on articles and blogs talk of a normal guy who had a passion for running.  That's it.  He loved to run ... a lot.  And it inspired those around him.  He wasn't the fastest or perhaps the most famous.  He - like so many runners - didn't do it for either.  He was just a regular guy who liked to do extraordinary things.  It's that simple.

A great message here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Up next: New Mexico (April 21)

I will be flying in to Albuquerque on April 15, six days prior to the Half for work.  My company is sending me out there and the timing could not be better.  I will have six days to acclimate myself to the elevation and this will hopefully lighten the impact on race day.  The challenge will certainly be the adjustment and preparing myself for what may turn out to be a less than desirable finish time.  I'm not sure 1:30 is realistic if I'm not prepared and breathing becomes challenging.  This may be a tough one.

As I've posted before, Albuquerque has one of the highest elevations of any major city in the United States.  An advantage that may prove useful is its southwesterly continental position. Because of this, the effects of elevation are greatly tempered.  The elevation of the city ranges from 4,900 feet above sea level near the Rio Grande (in the Valley) to over 6,700 feet in the foothill areas of Sandia Heights and Glenwood Hills. At the airport, the elevation is 5,352 feet above sea level.

Runners used to lower elevations know that running at higher altitudes is challenging.  See here.  I remember a few times on work trips out there feeling the dizziness and waking up to a headache.  I'll be limiting my caffeine, avoiding the alcohol, staying hydrated, and just simply walking around and getting my body adjusted.  The alcohol part may also present a challenge as the week leading up to this Half will fall on my very good friend Doug's birthday.  I guess a small exception can be made. 

The area around my hotel is nice and inviting to some post work running.  At first I'll limit myself to no more than 3-5 miles with some walking throughout.

I'll update as AQ gets closer and be sure to get some nice pics along the route.

Cherry Blossom race day

A great race today in DC for the 40th annual Cherry Blossom 10-miler.  However, it didn't start out so great.  Note to self:  be in bed prior to 2 am when you have to wake up at 6 to meet friends to pick up your packet. 

So I got to bed a little late.  I slept straight through my alarm so didn't meet my sister and friends as we had arranged to pick up my bib and timer.  The metro would have taken me forever.  Driving there with traffic and finding parking was risky.  So I decided to run the 3.5 miles from my apartment in Cleveland Park to the monument to meet them.  It was early and I was tired.  But, I was able to get to the corner of 15th and Constitution just on time to pick up what I needed.  I had a 15 minute break to catch my breath before heading to the start line.

The race was very nice.  Unfortunately, because we averaged 75 degrees by the beginning of March the cherry blossoms bloomed early this season.  There were some left and I was able to stop along the way and snap some pics.

I also did not run this race for time.  I took it a bit slow to enjoy the sites.  I ran it with Carla.  I often run through downtown DC but my paths have never taken me through the Tidal Basin.  This was also my first time seeing the cherry blossoms since moving to DC.  So I didn't want to miss anything pushing for time. 

The race is known as “The Runner’s Rite of Spring” with the course passing in sight of all of the major Washington, DC Memorials. The event serves as a fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a consortium of 170 premier children’s hospitals across the United States. Since the Credit Unions became the title sponsor in 2002, over $5 million dollars has been raised through donations and fundraising on the part of the runners and individual sponsoring Credit Unions and partners. About one-third of these funds support Washington, DC’s own Children’s National Medical Center. The event also funds two $5,000 Road Runners Club of America “Roads Scholar” grants designed to support up-and-coming U.S. distance running talent.

So this was not only a fun race but also a worthy cause.

Cherry Blossom 10-miler pics