Monday, June 11, 2018

Ultrarunning Boy Takes on the World(of Caving)

This past weekend while Kenny and Matilda were away, I headed over to see my brother Andrew and try our hands in a little spelunking. I had seen an article featuring the "most epic trips in each state" and in Georgia it featured the caves in the Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife management area of northern Georgia. Originally, I attempted to get a guided tour but there was no availability so Andrew and I decided to just go up on our own. I tried doing some research online about access but everything was fairly cryptic with people giving generalized location details but nothing specific. From several different blogs, I was able to get a general sense of where to go. The plan was to pack like we were caving but be prepared to end up just going for a hike.

We took off fairly early from his place in Atlanta and less than 2 hours later we were at the fee center for the management area.

Tip: Save yourself some money and register online ahead of time. We paid almost as much for the phone registration service fee as we did to enter the area.

After paying, it was a short drive to a parking area labeled Petty John's. Could it really be this easy to find? A 800 foot walk confirmed that we were here. The only caves that I have been to have either been above ground rock formations that you scramble through or ones with lights, tourists, and hand rails. This was neither. It was just a unmarked hole in the ground leading god knows where.



Had Andrew not been there, I probably would have turned back(or continued on for a hike). But knowing why he had come, I decided to go on.

Tip: Pack for 58 degree weather. Standing outside the hole was like an air conditioner blowing on us. Supposedly it stays like this year round.

After changing into long sleeves, putting on our knee pads, gloves and headlamps, we descended inside.

Just entering the cave was a leap of faith as we had to trust that there were no snakes, spiders, bears or serial killers on below. When I say below I mean below. It was a rock scramble down probably 20 feet or so before opening up to a large cavern. This I could handle. After taking a few pictures and turning off our headlamps to get a sense of how pitch-black dark it was down here, we continued on.

We had a vague sense of the lay out of the cave. Down across down again. It seemed to be general gist. So we scrambled down and then up across the cavern and came across a little hole in the ground.


 Down again we climbed. It did open up again but to a much smaller room with a choice of left or right. Great-Give Wrong Way Ferreira an opportunity to get lost in a cave.

Cognizant of this, I made sure to have Andrew focus on the directions so we could get out.

Tip:Don't go caving with Danny unless you have a good sense of direction.

We went to the right which got narrower and narrower. The pitch of the rock also got steeper which was concerning because everything was muddy so there was concern about being able to get back up. I'd down-climb a little and then re-climb it to make sure that we could successfully get back out.


This made of slower going but at least I'm sitting in front of the computer writing this instead of sitting in a cave I cannot get out of.

We continued in this manner until we came to an opening that was probably mid shin deep of water and we made the smart decision to turn back to avoid making our already slick sneakers worse.



We climbed/scrambled back up to the junction and proceeded to go the other direction. After a while this way we came across a hole that was so small that I couldn't enter it with my backpack on. We went in a while, but I could feel that wave of panic that I wanted to avoid so I recommended we turned back.

On our way back out, I tried to convince Andrew that we needed to stay left and ascend while he correctly brought us out on the right.

Tip: Don't go caving with Danny unless you have a good sense of direction and know how to ignore him.

We had spent a few hours down there and probably explored about 1/6th of the entire available cave system. It really was an epic(ly frightening) experience, and he and I have committed to coming back more prepared and explore more.

Only 49 more "epic" adventures ahead.

Until next time,

Danny

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ultrarunning Boy Takes on the World(of Children's Books)

My mom gave me recently a book entitled: Raising  Bookworms by Emma Walton Hamilton who incidentally is Julie Andrews daughter. I love Song of Music and Mary Poppins so why wouldn't I read a book by Mary's(errr Julie's) daughter. I'm glad I did!

It had some really good practical suggestions that I plan to implement with baby Ferreira, but there was one specific one that I already started. And it was creating books specific to my daughter. So I've written 5 "books" for Tilda Bear so far that I plan to read to her. Emma talks about increased interest in reading when the book relates to the child, so how awesome is it that these are about my daughter?

The only downside is that they're written by me. So expect sophomoric(at best) stories, bad rhymes and even worse illustrations. But considering she won't know any better, Matilda hopefully won't be put off by them for at least the first few years:)

Here's what I've written thus far:




I don't expect to be on the New York Times bestseller list(or the Concord Monitor's) but it's been fun to create these little books for Tilda that she can always have and even find online. If anyone actually wants to buy one(trust me: they are not literary classics) save yourself money and use the promo code:FIFTEEN to save 15%.

And I know there are always a few people who delight in finding typographical errors, so(just like the blog) I have left some in for you:) Enjoy!

I plan to keep on writing them as Tilda grows up and hopefully they'll mature as she does. Stay tuned!


Until next time,

Danny


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ultrarunning Boy takes on the world(of sleep deprivation)!

As I am sure most of you are aware, baby Ferreira has arrived!

In with the baby, out with the sleep. Never one to sacrifice sleep, this is a novel experience. I'm already back at work but feel like I'm floating through the days. Not particularly witty when rested, I'm down right dense now. That feeling of apathy that I had late in the Vermont 100(88.6 for me) has returned. Not at all to my beautiful daughter or lovely wife, but to all things that require enough. Like going a run, answering phone calls, or writing a comprehensive blog about how awesome my baby is.

Or how great it has been with both my brother Matty and his family and sister Marilyn coming down to visit her. And my mom and brother Drew will be coming soon as well. And everyone else gets to meet her when we come up to New Hampshire this summer. Let's just say-all things Matilda are great and not pressure me into having to dedicate any more of my limited brain capacity to anything besides looking at her cute little face.


Trust me, despite sleep deprivation which can affect everything from above noted motivation, to memory, balance, and weight gain issues, I cannot get enough of Tilda Bear. And I wouldn't trade all the sleep in the world for her. She's just perfect and she will get there-sleepwise.

Until then don't expect any well-worded blogs or conversations with me though.


Until then,

(a sleep deprived) Danny

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ultrarunning Boy Takes on the World( of biking with a baby)?

As you may or may not know, I am pretty excited about Baby Ferreira's arrival. I have been doing some research on bike trailers and seeing if there are ones that are compatible with infant car seats so I can take her out for rides(we already have a infant jogging stroller). I started doing some research and found out that it might not be such a good idea. 


Here's a synopsis of a pediatrician's concerns:





“It’s not about crashes at all, it’s about the potential for repeated mild trauma to the brain because of bumps associated with everyday road conditions. What is undocumented is what is happening to the brain during the bumps. Think of the movement of a bobble head doll in slow motion — that’s what may be happening to the brain in the skull inside the infant’s head after some big bumps. Neurodevelopment is critical during the younger years. An infant’s brain is a bunch of neurons, uninsulated wires, if you will. During the first year the infant is developing the myelin sheath, which insulates the neurons and sets the stage for all the development and learning that the brain does next. If you had to pick a time when it is most important to protect the brain from excess vibration or bumps and jostling about it would be during that first year after birth.

So it looks like I will not be getting a bike trailer, at least not for the first year. And any running we do will be only on the smoothest pavement around. We cannot help what brains she was born with but we can help her keep the ones she has:) 

Until next time,


Danny

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Ultrarunning Boy Takes on the World(of Black Mountain Marathon)

This past weekend, Kenny and I headed up to Asheville so I could run the Black Mountain Marathon. The marathon is considered the "fun run" as it is run beside the infamous Mount Mitchell Challenge. I had thrown my name in for the challenge but hadn't gotten selected. Thinking this was probably in my best interest, I didn't think much of it until I ran with Rick from the Harbison Trail Runners in mid-November. He mentioned that he might be able to get me in the marathon if I won't. I was non-committal about it with my attention on the Mobile Marathon. And he didn't mention it again until the new year when he confirmed that he could, in fact, get me in. Crap. Now I would have to run a marathon that starts with 14 miles of ascending.

A little backstory- When I first starting dating Kenny, she had entered the half marathon that runs from the Loudon Speedway to downtown Concord. I had agreed to pace her for the last 5-6 miles. It touted that the last four miles were "all downhill". Well, imagine Kenny's surprise when she came across that uphill by Shaker Hill School. Suffice it to say that she spent a fair amount of those four miles grumbling. This has become a running joke between us whenever we do a race that supposedly is flat or mostly downhill. 

A little more backstory-The Mount Mitchell Challenge is one of the few races that I was aware of in the Southeast before moving down here. Since then I have come across some pretty great ones, no small part due to the Harbison Trail Runners, the races they throw and recommendations they make. But before I found them, I hadn't heard of anything other than MMC and its 40 miles of running to the highest peak on the East Coast. The first 20 or so were all climbing. This sounded like, to sound millennial, epic. The Black Mountain Marathon is the exact same course but turns but 6  miles before the summit. 

Back to the story. Once again  finding myself grossly underprepared for this race, I nevertheless had high expectations for myself. I had looked up the race results and spoken with some people and it sounded like it would be fair to expect 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per mile slower than a road marathon. So I went into the race thinking a 3:30 would be a good goal. Well, the mountain had other ideas for me. 

Never before in a race have I had to walk in the first 3 miles. There is a patch of ~1/4 mile pavement before you jump on the trail that I would say was as steep as Mount Washington. This may not be true but it certainly felt like it. And judging by the fact that everyone around me was also walking, I think it is fairly accurate. Shortly thereafter we hit the trail which was surprisingly runnable. I kept on having to hold myself back in fear that I would make a big pass and then come to a steep incline and have to walk again. But it never happened. The next 11 miles were all(for the most part) totally runnable with the biggest challenge coming in the form of golf ball sized rocks that kept pummeling my left foot. This foot is the one that I stress fractured mid-Flying Pig Marathon back in 2010 and still have residual pain from on occasion. Like when I repeatedly step right on a rock. 

So my mile splits to the turn around was slower than I'd had hoped but not due to the pitch of the climb but rather the terrain. At the turn around, I was informed I was in 7th place in the marathon. 

Side-note- The majority of the competitive runners do the Challenge, so while I was 7th in the marathon, I would have been something like 20th in the Challenge even though they were doing 14 extra miles!

On the descent, I was greeted by dozens of cheering Harbison runners still making their ascent(again because they were pacing themselves for 40!). It was really nice to have some camaraderie at a race Less nice? Those same stinking rocks. On an otherwise, fast descent, I spent my time carefully picking my line to avoid landing on my left foot. Which is fairly hard to do with ~90 foot strikes per minute. Then add it a few sneaky UPHILLS! Where did those come from? I laughed to myself when I realized I was pulling a Kendra ;) Suffice it to say, I didn't have the descent I wanted but I was able to negative split the race and barely sneak under 4 hours. 

Hundreds of runners participated in the 2018 Mount
Back on the pavement, and very uncomfortable. 

Despite my little pity-party it was definitely a fun race and I plan to do it again. After it, I passed by hundreds of people lining the streets waiting for Billy Graham's motorcade to go by. We lucked out that it didn't impact traffic where we were staying so Kenny and I spent the rest of the day in Asheville. Which turned into a beautiful day. We had such a good day and slept very well that night. 

All in all, a fun weekend marking the last marathon I will do pre-baby Ferreira. Who knows how things will go after that?

Until next time,

Danny 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Ultrarunning Boy Takes on the World!(of parenting)

Well hello there!

As you may or may not have noticed, the title of this blog has changed. If you haven't already switched over and still are interested in reading about Irongirl, you can find out more here  at her blog.

The change in name reflects the likely change in focus of my posts (and my life) going forward. With a beautiful, smart, powerful young lady on the way, I suspect I will have many things to say, few of which are ultrarunning or triathlon related.

But don't despair! I will still be entering in(often times, fabulously underprepared) events that challenge me physically or mentally. The only difference will be that I may have a little mud turtle hanging out along side.

Side-Bar- For those of you that do not know the mud turtle reference, check out Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees. Well worth the read.

Anyway, I suspect I will continue to get myself and baby Ferreira into plenty of mischief, and I will make sure to check you all updated on the progress.

Until Next Time,


Danny