Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Running August - Race Reports of Sorts

Colin's 5k Run - 8/25/12

Man, I had a blast this morning. I ran a 5k, first one in quite a while and this one was on my alma mater high school cross country course. I didn’t run cross country in high school (I played football) so I was psyched to actually get to run on the course. Very cool format for the start and how can you not love running primarily on grass? No I don’t typically run 5ks, but today’s race was a fundraising event in memory of Colin Nosworthy. September marks the tenth anniversary of his passing. Since then, eleven scholarships have been awarded to a deserving member of the Central Dauphin HS Track & Field Team.

At The Finish - One Young Gun Caught Me/The Other Got "Geezered"!


I chased the high school kids as long as I could, but in the second mile I found myself running alone.
Just before the finish, a ninth grader passed me and with 100 meters to the shoot, Janice yelled, “he’s catching you”.  I “geezered” the next high-school challenger and pushed to the finish beating him by a whopping 2 seconds. One of those boys later spoke with me and admitted that the “chocolate milk guy” had become a rabbit for he and his friend to chase in the final mile. It was fun run to start the day and especially cool to see Rick Leuschner and Jim Seidler, High School Track Mates now Cross Country Coaches. Fun stuff!

On The Rocks 30k Trail Run - 8/18/12

Last Saturday Janice and I took a drive down to Rocky RidgeCounty Park near York, PA. What a beautiful woodland park high on a mountain with great vistas to the north and south and on this day it was the venue for the On The Rocks Trail Run. There was a 5k walk, 10k, 15k and 30k trail runs.   The mountain top start line was shrouded in fog and after brief instructions, 10kers headed south while the 15k/30k group went the opposite direction. After a short stretch of gravel on the power line-cut we turned into the forest and the rocks began. As advertised, the trail was rocky and the first downhill did a good job of waking up my legs.  With 25k still remaining, I stepped to avoid a stumbling runner, stepped on a loose rock and rolled the ankle that I sprained in July. I limped and hopped for a few hundred feet and I eventually got the now hurting ankle running again. That little episode seemed to take some of the fight out of me and my goal on the day was now to beat 4 hours for the 18 miles.  Lots of tricky technical downhill and numerous little climbs made the challenge a fun one.  Excellent course, crossing only one road in the 15k loop.


Another fun day running around in the woods with Janice hustling to catch me at trail intersections. At this event she did quite a bit of walking to find me and that Coca-Cola hand up was right on time. The first lap I ran in a pack of runners and the second 9 miles I ran basically alone. I prefer the less crowded trail, but now with no one to follow/chase, I had to pay attention. Yep, a couple of times I found myself looking around for trail markers or realizing I was slightly off course because I wasn’t paying attention. The aid stations were very cool and quite generous on the second lap as there were only 31 runners doing the longer event. I didn’t know anything about them though before the race so I wore my Nathan hydration vest which worked out great. I had just seen Janice along the trail near the southern vista(mile 13ish) and I thought about the fact that it was starting to get warm, but I was happy with my hydration as I was running cramp free. Just as I finished that thought I got one of those race-stopping cramps in my right thigh. Back to limping and hopping for a few hundred feet before the muscle would relax and run again. So I’ve rolled my already injured ankle and struggled with a cramp, what else could go wrong? Yep, at mile 17 I caught a toe on something and fell. So yes I waited till I had just 1 mile to go and I took a dive. Thankfully it was a lovely soft spot in the forest, but unfortunately both of my legs cramped when I hit and I couldn’t get up at first. I eventually got moving, but now that 4 hour goal was in jeopardy.

Long story short, I forced my pace as best I could and beat the 4 hour monster by the skin of my teeth. I was honored to find out I won the 50-59 age group and stoked to find cold low-fat chocolate milk Cool Moos from Turkey Hill Dairies amongst the other goodies at the finish.


Another fun event and this one raised funds for the MargaretE. Moul Home. The Home is a private, non-profit long term care facility that provides services for adults with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, and other neuromuscular disorders.

Chiques Challenge 4.5mi Run/2.5mi Kayak - 8/11/12

Two weekends ago we continued a tradition we started in August 2011. Last year my friend Jeff tipped me off to a new event called the Chiques Challenge, a duathlon of sorts where you start by running and finish by kayaking on a beautiful stretch of The Susquehanna River near Columbia and Marietta Pennsylvania.  On the same day, Janice’s family holds their family reunion so why not get a bunch of family to run and paddle together before we head to the reunion? This year (our second year) we had 5 entries, Becky, Grant, Katie, Janice and me. The run stage was lengthened slightly to 4.5 miles and Becky and Grant took off while Katie, Janice and I took our good ole time.


The year before, the girls waited for us at about the halfway mark of the kayak portion, but this year we instructed Becky and Grant “kill it” and we’d see them at the finish. I'm happy to report our run was done without being delayed by any of the pubs along the route. We saw Sister Debbie (crew & team photographer) at the kayak transition and she reported that the kids looked good and were way ahead of us. 


Sure enough, not to break a set family tradition, at about the halfway point of the paddling stage we found Becky and Grant waiting in their kayaks. Of course all of us were equipped with squirt guns so we have the most fun of any of the racers. It’s hilarious to see the serious guys there with their game faces when we show up delaying our finish because we’re too busy squirting each other. This year we had even more fun by insisting we finish in numerical order.


It’s a hoot of an event to benefit the SusquehannaValley Chamber of Commerce and we’re hoping it continues for a long time because we've committed to growing Team Squirt Gun with each edition.

What a fun August especially since I spent much of July sitting on my butt with an ice pack strapped to a badly sprained ankle. The ankle's still a bit swollen, but I'm back at it. Now I'm devoting my upcoming mileage to prepare for The Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon next month(Sept 16th). My Team REFUEL sponsorship got me a free entry to the race and I'm going to do my best to tear it up on the streets of Philly.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ice Packs & Low-fat Chocolate Milk


I’m sitting here with a large zip lock bag full of ice strapped to my left ankle and I couldn’t be happier.  Yep, I’m injured.  I got caught in a lightning laced hail storm while I was out for my daily lunch hour 10k. I was hustling through a wooded trail trying to make it back to the office in time for a staff meeting when it happened. [I had never been out in a hail storm. It’s nasty; you don’t want to experience it. It’s like a much taller person is chasing and throwing rocks at you. This storm was producing hail the size of peach pits and when they hit my head, they hurt like they really were peach pits] The injury happened when I slipped in mud and rolled my left ankle. Running primarily on trails, ankle rolling is typically no big deal, but this was different. It happened at the top of a descent and all my weight rolled the ankle and sent me stumbling down the hill in pain. I did my typical 5-stride/hop routine telling myself to run through it, but the pain wasn’t going away. I still had 1.5 miles to go so I worked out out some sort of stride and eventually made it back to the office in the down pour amongst awesome lightning bolts.  Now if I could run more than a mile my ankle must be ok, right? Wrong. I pulled off my sock and calf sleeve and saw the damage. At this point it looked as though I had a fist sticking out of my ankle. I showered, found some ice, drank a chocolate milk(serving as both refuel & comfort food) and I dialed into the conference call. In spite of the ice, my ankle was now growing. Long story short, I made my way to the doc and after an X-Ray and a conversation about a piece of my Fibula that never fused from a past injury, he told me that my grapefruit-sized ankle wasn’t broken. My only focus now was how long would it take me to get back to running.

X-Ray Candidate

I mentioned earlier that I was happy and I should explain. Today, 11 days after that hail storm 10k, I finally went for my first run. I went to my “go-to” route, a trail on a nearby mountain ridge which is an out and back to a radio tower site with a spectacular vista high above Harrisburg, PA. It’s only 6 miles, but it’s rocky in places with numerous downed trees and ascends/descends about 700’. I expected to walk most of it and maybe run some. Instead, I ran most of it and barely walked at all. Yeah, I ran slowly, but I was up off the lazy-boy without an ice pack lashed to my leg. Encouraging progress! Yep, that’s why I’m so happy.

Purple Toes


Injuries are a bummer for obvious reasons. In endurance running, most common are over-use injuries. I do all I can to lie to myself while backing off the training miles and settle in to ice and Ibuprofen my way through them. Now and then, injuries require drastic measures. For instance the week prior to this ankle sprain I gave in to Plantar Fasciitis and actually went to the Podiatrist for an injection to fix it. For something like a rolled ankle, I would typically never think of going to the doctor. One of my biggest challenges while rehabbing an injury is my appetite. Running gives me a massive appetite and not running and allowing that appetite to persist would result in added injury pounds, so backing off the calories is step one. Step two is finding some other way to burn calories while not running. I turned to weight lifting for that. Refueling with low-fat chocolate milk was also part of the repair program. Every serving of low-fat chocolate milk delivers protein, carbs, Vitamins A, B & D, Calcium and a bunch of other essential goodies that put you back the way you were before exercise. I use low-fat chocolate milk to recover from a workout so it made perfect sense to use it to recover from an injury.

I’m not completely healed, but I’m definitely on the road to recovery. I spent the entire weekend watching the Olympics iced and elevated and today my toes might still be purple from the injury, but I was able to run 6 miles.  When I went to the doctor the next 3 races I’m entered in flashed in my head as improbable. When he told me it wasn’t broken, they improved to ”maybes”. After today’s slow encouraging run they were moved to the “yep, I’ll be at those start lines” column. My next event is a fun one with my family, The Chiques Challenge 3.5 miles on foot & 2.5 miles by kayak. After that I’m running a 30k trail race that may now be just a fun training run in preparation for The Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ RollHalf Marathon. Half marathon is a fun distance and it’s a beautiful course; looping through town and an out & back on Kelly & MLK Drives along the river. On top of that I’ll be running representing Team REFUEL. I look forward to crossing The Falls Bridge heading for the finish at The Art Museum. I can almost hear the Rocky Theme now, but first I’ve got to get this ankle back to 100%!