Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Tuckfest 2019 or Danny Takes on the World of Adventure Sports

If you're not familiar

with Tuckfest, it is a 4 day affair involving music, lessons, and competitions at the US National Whitewater Center outside of Charlotte. It is awesome! Kenny and I went two years ago but only ventured out of our comfort zone with the adventure race, which was pretty much still in our comfort zone, despite our DNF.

This year, however, I was looking to compete not only in a trail race, but also a flatwater kayak race, a flatwater SUP(stand-up paddleboard) race, and a top rope rock climbing competition. While I only have SUP'd a couple times, I have kayaked dozens of times, and used to rock climb fairly regularly, so what could go wrong?

The first event was the night time trail race which I started with the cheers of Kenny and Matilda spurring me on. I lead the entire way until we came out of the woods and I promptly tripped losing two spots. I finished a few seconds between in third place. But still, a podium start to commence the weekend's competition. More to come?


Short answer: no.

Long answer: see below.

The next morning, Kenny took it out for another trail race and finished strong. We cheered her on the headed to the flatwater docks for the kayak race. It was only 1.5 miles long but in a sit on top kayak. Which I didn't realize was an issue until I started kayaking. My brother Andrew, who joined us with Vic Vic for the weekend, summarized my race well. "You started good".

That I did, the first 100 yards or so, I was right up with the leaders. Suddenly, I was struck with a strange sensation: my back and hip flexors were cramping. Arms/lungs? Totally fine. But with no back support and my tight hamstrings, my lower back and hip flexors were working double time and failing quickly. I shifted my position, then shifted again, but could not find a position that I was comfortable paddling in. Despite only lasting 19 minutes, it felt like forever. I finished mid-to back of the pack and my legs were sore all day long. Luckily, our plans consisted of little more than lounging and listening to the music.
Tilda chilling in front of climbing wall
The next day however, I still had two more competitions, the SUP race and top rope competition.

After the kayak fiasco the day before, I was prepared for the worst. Which is about how I performed. Apparently you need balance to stand-up paddleboard. Especially in a river upstream and when trying to paddle vigorously. Again Andrew: "It looks like you may want to work on your paddle stroke, you were just splashing water around-probably annoying the few people behind you."

Again, I finished mid-pack-ish but that's only because, as Vic Vic pointed out, all the real competitors did two laps. My finishing average was plummeting but I'd certainly make it up with a solid rock climbing performance, right?

Short answer: again no.

Long answer: noooooooooooooooooooo.

So with this rock climbing competition, it was a USAC sanctioned regional competition so it attracted lots of competitors all vying for qualifying for regionals. Did I mention that many, nay most of these competitors were ankle biters? Well a tiny hyperbole, but I'd say I was one of only a half dozen climbers who could legally vote no less  imbibe. So I've got this, right?

Being my first rock climbing competition, I was unfamiliar with the rules including just how long the competition even lasted. For clarification, it's THREE hours long, you can climb as much as you want and your top five scores are totaled and highest points wins. Each route is rated by difficulty with the highest score being 17,500. I started with an attempt at a 1,000 point route, thinking I'd ease myself into the competition. Nope. Made it about half-way up and was thwarted. After another attempt at a 1,200, I lowered my standards to the 2-500 point routes. Meanwhile, I had a little tail following me. A seven year old girl who was always next in line for the belay after me. But unlike the routes I was attempting, she was consistently attempting, and completing 1,800-2,500 point routes. Not a hyperbole. My total score of 1,700 was surpassed with one of her climbs.

Suffice it to say, this weekend was a very humbling experience. Despite, losing at nearly everything I competed in at, it was a very fun weekend and I had a blast. You don't grow from doing things you're good at but rather when you struggle. Supposedly. We will see ;)

Until next time,


Danny

Monday, March 11, 2019

Joe Davis Run for Recovery

This past Saturday, Kendra's mother was arriving in Charlotte and we were picking her up. To make the most of our time in Charlotte we decided to sign up for a 10k that morning. It was for a good cause-the local addiction prevention center and the pre-race messages were poignant but also inspiring.
Tilda and I would be running together and Kenny following shortly behind. Without going into too much detail, it was a fun(yet wet) course and for being a small race, had good support and post-race awards. Kenny finished 6th female overall and 2nd in her age-group and I was 5th overall. For some reason, they didn't count Tilda ;)

Here are some pics for the race:







After doing lunch with Kendra's mom, we unceremoniously dumped Tilda off with her and had our first date night in 10 months. Eating without fending off little fingers, and 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep were the highlights of the evening. It was great but we both were eager to get back to see her the next morning.




Until next time,

Danny

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

2019 Challenges

2018 was an amazing year!


Mostly from a getting the best little baby in the world:)

 But also it was a fun year of some unique challenges. I repeated as the Krispy Kreme Dash champion by downing a dozen donuts and running a 5k the fastest, but also nearly took the win at the beerlay.

Not all of my challenges involved food or drink, running a marathon in my 25th state(AL), doing a couple trail races, and lots of hiking.

All in all it was a great year for my family and an okay year for challenges.

2019 I'm stepping up the challenges.

First of all Matilda is bigger and heavier than ever! She'll be over a year by the time I next take her hiking. That certainly will be a challenge!

Also I've got some fun adventures in store, starting with a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich eating contest next week!  There's no running involved so I'm not sure how I'll contend. I think my niche is that I'm a pretty good eater and a pretty good runner. Competing against pure eater maybe a challenge.

One I'm willing to accept!

Soon thereafter is the Beer Mile. Wow! The Beer Mile is actually less than 2 months. Unlike the Beerlay which covered 8 miles and consumed 4 beers. The beer miles(as you may have guessed) covers 1 mile with the same beer consumption. I am interested to see my splits in that one. I better start doing some hot laps. That one might hurt!

Less than a month after that, Tilda Kenny and I will be going to Tuckfest where we notoriously got so lost in an adventure race that we DNF'd. We'll be swapping out adventures to hang out with Tilda but this year I'm shooting for the trail half marathon, the top rope rock climbing competition, maybe a short mountain bike race AND a white water rafting race! That is if I can get a few teammates. That should be such a fun weekend! Or at least one with plenty of stories.

And that only brings us to April!

Kenny is taking me back to Baxter State Park where I was turned back by inclement weather before summitting Katahdin. This is the summer.

Tilda, Kenny and I are also shooting to do at least 5 more 4,000 footers this summer while we're in New Hampshire.

I'm signed up already for the Beerlay and Krispy Kreme Challenges again and probably will do a few of the Upstate Ultra trail races in the fall.

But really the biggest challenge will be baby proofing my house because that girl is on the move!


Until next time,


Danny


Monday, February 11, 2019

26.2 Miles for Donna

This past weekend, Tilda, Kenny and I made the journey down to the Sunshine state. After a Friday morning run in Amelia Island, we set up shop on the beach in Neptune Beach, FL and hung out. It was such a fun time and Tilda had a blast people watching and playing in the sand.






Saturday we traveled to Saint Augustine which is the oldest continuously inhabited European settled settlement in the US. There's a fort right in midst of the town that kind of reminded me of a smaller version of the one in Old San Juan, PR. It was also built by the Spanish but over one hundred years before San Juan's.

We had a fun time walking through the narrow alleys of Saint Augustine but I couldn't help thinking that, in true Florida fashion, the whole area felt 100% touristy. While Charleston, Savannah and even Boston have elements of touristy sections, you know that locals also inhabit those spaces and go to those places. Here it seemed it was only tourists. Which is not always a bad thing, but could be felt in the number of people stopping mid-stride to take a selfie that will likely be edited into near nonrecognition. 

A bit out of the town, we got off the beaten path a bit with a short boat ride to Fort Matazanas which guarded the "back entrance" into Saint Augustine. It is most notable for the Spanish massacre of French Huguenots which is actually where the fort got its name. During the ride, the wind picked up as the temperature dropped so we opted to skip the self-guided walking tour and instead head to San Sebastian Winery for  a wine tasting. 

After tasting too many sweet wines, we headed back to our hotel for an early night(Tilda's sleep/wake cycle dependent). 

Side-Note: In true, amazing wife fashion, Kenny did everything in her power short of smothering to keep Tilda quiet which lead to probably the best night sleep I've had in ten months. So I cannot sand-bag with sleep deprivation for once. 

Shady Shade Shade
The weather was calling for an overcast race day and they were right. Shade was out in abundance. We were staying at a hotel about a mile away from the start/finish line. I thought that I'd be able to park near the start but the whole area was blocked off. There was a brief moment that I consider jogging to the start but swiftly called an Uber instead. This lead to the first encountered with shade.

Uber Driver: "You're doing the race?"
Danny: "Yeah, it starts in about an hour."
Uber Driver: "So you're driving to go run?"
Danny: "Errr yeah, well it's a long run."
Uber Driver(pointing out his side window): "Those people all look like they're running too."
Danny: "Errr well...."

Then he proceeded to drive past the start line and drop me off about 1/2 mile away from the start. I got a slightly shorter walk and my first taste of shade of the day. 

A thing about this race. It is first and foremost a race to support Breast Cancer research and honor survivors. Really more of celebration of life than a race for most of the runners. It was great to see so many people out supporting a good cause and bringing in lots of research funds. But that being said, even though there were several thousands runners there were only a handful of "racers". 

One such racer was Tracy McKinnon of Harbison Trail Runners fame. He'd just run a 40 mile race the weekend before so he was as fresh as he normally is for the race. In typical sandbagger fashion, when asked what his goal was, he replied just finish to cross another state off his list(he's currently at 16). 

Spoiler Alert-Tracy beats Danny and takes first Master overall. 

As the gun went off I got sucked up with some of the faster half-marathoners and went through the first mile about 30 seconds too fast. I quickly backed off to a more manageable(or so I thought) 6:30 pace which I ticked off with good regularity for the first half marathon. It was so nice having Tilda and Kenny cheering me on the first half. I got to see them three times in the first 11 miles and the smile on my face probably lasted a mile after each time seeing them. But the second half had no opportunities for me to see them and right around then, as I passed mile 16 and the furthest I'd traveled for over a year, the wheels started coming off.

But unlike a high speed crash, this was more like an accident that may occur at any shopping plaza in Florida on any given day, slow motion collision between two cars driven by what appears to only be 10 knuckles. I refused to walk and my body refused to run. I half jogged half staggered the last six miles, going from 4th place to 8th with less than a mile to go. And then comes Tracy.

Running beside me so effortlessly(apparently unaware we had just traveled, on foot, for 25+ miles), he looks over at me, says "I thought you'd be already drinking a beer by now" and then passed by so quickly that he ended up beating me by nearly a minute.


Elapsed
Split
Split Pace

5K
20:16
00:20:16
6:32
10K
40:04
00:19:48
6:23
15K
1:00:36
00:20:32
6:37
13.1Mile
1:25:33
00:24:56
06:33
16.2Mile
1:45:57
00:20:24
6:35
20Mile
2:13:56
00:27:58
07:21
23Mile
2:37:20
00:23:24
07:48
Finish
3:02:55
00:25:34
07:59


As you can see from my paces, those last few miles were "slightly off-pace".


Immediately after finishing, with Tilda in my arms and Kenny by my side, we headed to lunch then back for awards as I still finished in 9th place and first in my age-group. The awards were presented by none other than Joan Benoit Samuelson, the Olympic marathon champion. She asked me what my finishing time was and when I told her, she replied: "Oh I want to run a sub 3:03 at Boston. I'd like to run faster but at least as fast as 3:03". 

As if that wasn't shady enough, apparently she told Tracy she'd like to run sub 3:02! Nothing like a little shade to make you laugh after a long painful run.

Interestingly, I've run 3:02-3:04 at each of my marathons in the last 4 years but this is the first I didn't come in 8th. I guess it's a sign that things are a-changing.


12th consecutive year of qualifying for Boston(first was Manchester Marathon 2008)



Until next time,


Danny

Monday, January 14, 2019

Training for a Marathon with a Stroller

I just read somewhere that the World Record for the marathon with a stroller is 2:31. A 2 hour and freaking 31 minute marathon with a 4 year old child in a stroller! That is amazing.

These days I'm appreciating the hard work that it takes to run with a stroller as I'm doing almost all of my long runs pushing Matilda. We don't live in a very hilly area but I can tell you I can feel every time there's an incline. I am almost exactly one month out from my first marathon in over a year and I've adhered, for the most part, to my training plan. In terms of distance. Pace has been WAY slower but it will be interesting to see how it translates.

I haven't had a sub-3 hour marathon in four years(3:03-4 in Trinidad, Columbia and Mobile) and haven't run that kind of pace(for any distance) for a long time so I don't think that's in the cards. I don't even know what I'm shooting for. Hopefully not walking and finish with a solid pace. Still having enough energy to make the drive home after the race would be nice too:)


 I'm hoping pushing this little bug is good strength training.



 Or perhaps, I may find that I've been leaning on her more than I think. We will see February 8th in Neptune Beach Florida. Which will be my 26th state where I've run a marathon. Here's to hoping it's a good one! I'll keep ya posted.


Until next time,

Danny


Monday, November 26, 2018

Giving Thanks Every Day

When I started this blog, internet speeds were still slow and smart phones were in their infancy. What this meant was that blogs were a popular and well-received medium to share people's stories(especially those of us without the connections and/or talent to have lucrative book contracts). Fast forward to present day and podcasts and  vlogs have taken over most people's interests. I look at my own blog list of people I follow and only a handful still write. But here I am. Albeit very infrequently, but still here to express my gratitude for every day I have an opportunity to get out and experience this beautiful world we live in. 

But to satisfy those of you who cannot read a few paragraphs without going through video withdrawal, here is a video for your delight.

It has been a fun few months. I last left off telling you all about the Beerlay. Since then, I did another race put on by the awesome people at Upstate Ultra-the Paris Mountain 25k. I had originally signed up for the 50k, but knew I wasn't ready for that. As luck would have it, the race director let me switch so I could do just one loop. Which was enough! Although in better shape, I would have loved it, as it was I really enjoyed the course which was almost entirely runnable with just two steep climbs and the rest seemingly all downhill. Definitely a race I will do again in the future. 

I soon followed that up with another glutinous race, this time the Krispy Kreme Dash in Myrtle Beach. This was my second year racing it and second time winning. And the prize this year: Another year of donuts! This time a dozen per week. Wow! Talk about developing a dad-bod! 



It was a great weekend having Kenny and Matilda of course, but we were also joined by my parents and brother Drew and his girlfriend Vicki. As with all times with people you love, it went far too quickly but it was still nice to spend time with them. 
Then time travel occurred and it was already Thanksgiving and I was giving thanks for my beautiful wife and adorable daughter as we ate the first Thanksgiving meal with just our family. Decorating our house for Christmas rounded out the weekend. 

It's so easy to get bogged down with the day to day sometime to really step back and appreciate all the wonderful things we have in our lives. But you're here, able to read this, presumably while breathing, likely in a comfortable setting, hopefully with some people who you love around. There is so many things to be grateful for each and everyday, don't wait 364 days before you are again.

Until next time,

Danny