Thursday, October 12, 2017

Getting Old

I heard through the grapevine about a cross-country race this past weekend and as Kenny and I didn't have anything planned, I decided to enter it. I think years back I may have done one once but it was a many years ago and I had forgotten the pace that these college kids start the race at. 

Well some of that could be the lack of fast running I've done in the past couple years. I used to do 5ks and track workouts fairly regularly but have slacked off big time. And some of it could be that I am older than I've ever been, and still getting older. Either way, I found myself at the first mile solidly in 40th or so place out of only 50 runners. Despite the above excuses that I listed, I don't like being in the bottom half of the runners, but I knew some of the kids ahead of me would fatigue, which they did. Over the next couple miles, I passed about 20 guys to finish in 21st place. Definitely not a great showing, but it was a fun race and nice to do a little speed work.

But the real reason I am writing about this otherwise unremarkable race! On 3! separate occasions, as I was passing one of the runners, their coaches yelled out "Don't let the old guy pass you!". Three Times! Geesh! I didn't realize I looked that old. Then I realized I was probably older than the coaches as well as over double the age of some of the runners. 

Definitely a funny experience but not quite as funny as when my friend's daughter asked me where Kenny was by saying: "Where'd your daughter go?" Yep. I looked that old.

Until next time,

Danny


Monday, August 28, 2017

Goodbye to Two Good Friends

This past weekend I was finally forced to say goodbye to two good friends. One I had known for 10 years and the other only five but boy were those five years packed with good memories!

I am, of course, talking about two of my favorite pairs of running shoes. The one was a pair of Nike XC shoes that I wore to every Winter Wild race I did as well as all trail races half-marathon distance or shorter. The other were my Nike Lunar Racers which I have run in every marathon since 2012 including the five I did in 8 weeks in 2014. That's the problem when you find a perfect pair of shoes. They become discontinued and you are stuck making a tough decision: trade them in for a newer(and often worse) model or wear them long beyond their manufacturers designed life.

These were not just any sneakers.They were durable and light, responsive and comfortable. Never once giving me trouble or as much as a blister. They held strong in good times and bad. Days with rain and others with snow. They bore the brunt of many a trip and fall and far more than the recommended mileage that any one shoe should bare.

And yet, just as recently as two weeks ago, my xc racers held strong when I raced the USNWC's River Jam 10k and the X-Terra Table Rock 15K the same weekend. So I postponed their retirement just a little longer. I decided to wear them to this Saturday's Grand Further 25k. This race outside of Boone, NC was 15 miles up and over(and back up and over again) Grand Father Mountain which happens to be the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The course description was one of steep cliffs, highly technical single track trails and fast descents. i.e. the perfect course for my nimble x-c racers.
View from our hotel of Grandfather Mountain
So I decided to race one more time in them. This appeared to be a good idea until about 3 miles into the race when I didn't pick up my foot quite high enough. My toe caught a rock and in doing so, I tore the tip of my sole back. At first it was just a slight annoyance, but over the course of the next mile or so, it went from a slight flapping to a more vigorous one akin to an over-sized albatross attempting to take off from a too short runway.

Shortly after I summited the mountain for the first time, the sole finally had enough and tore off completely. I was left with slipper of a shoe which did nothing to reduce the impact of the sharp rocks and jutting roots on the course. I quickly went from top ten to twenty as my run turned into a jog, which quickly turned into a hobble before finally ending in a walk. I walked the rest of the way to the turn around where I had a great group of volunteers try in vain to duct-tape my sole back on(I had been carrying it that whole time). I left the aid station re-invigorated as I finally could run again. This was short lived as, within a half mile, my sole slipped through the loosening tape and fell off again.

Now with over seven and a half miles left in the race, I ended up hiking/limping the whole way, in the process getting passed by over 50 other racers. And yet despite the disappointment that came with being unable to race and the sad loss of a good friend, I had a wonderful time partially due to how slowly I was going. I was able to interact with all the racers who passed me, really appreciate the beautiful views, and even got to see the wreckage of a 1970's airplane crushed which remains in the woods slightly down from the summit. This is definitely a race I will do again next year. This time with a newer(I won't say better) pair of shoes.

My Lunar Racers were retired in not such a dramatic fashion, but rather done premptively to avoid a similar fate. I was planning on wearing them to pace Kenny when she attempts to qualify for the Boston Marathon at the Erie Marathon early September. Now instead, I will relegate them to trainers.

Until next time,


Danny

There should be a sole there.



Grandfather Mtn in the cloud cover

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Life is Too Short to Live By Your Training Plan Alone

Nothing like a fun filled summer vacation to impede my blog writing. I apologize to you few dear readers for the nearly two months of silence. Please rest assured, I was sending you plenty of positive vibes.

I have been luxuriating in my first real summer vacation is my freshman year in college. A parent trip to Newfoundland, a solo trip to Finland, and a family trip to the Outer Banks were just the big trips but loads of fun weekends, a little marriage ceremony, and plenty of sleeping in. All that was missing was any consistent form of running.

But life is too short to live by your training plans. Cast it aside, open your eyes wide, and just get outside!

Sorry, I'm back in school now so getting my Dr Seussian back on.

Anyway, a little time off from anything regimented can be great because I'm returning back to the structure of a work day with a new drive to also rev back up my training. I am sure it will be derailed at some point, but isn't that what life is all about? I'm pretty confident I wouldn't really be living if I never had anything in my life that was worth skipping a few runs for:)

And like my training, I also plan to write a bit more so let's see how this all turns out.

Until next time,


Danny

Monday, June 26, 2017

Travel Tips from Two Weeks Out of the Country

Tallinn Estonia
After two amazing, back-to-back trips to Newfoundland and Finland/Estonia, I decided to write some travel tips. But first here's some photos from Newfoundland with my parents:
The iceberg is bigger than a house!


A  surreptitious pic of my parents









All those bergs make it difficult to fish. 

Rent A Car: While most European cities offer good transportation, having the freedom to explore off the beaten path is priceless. Or a few hundred dollars to be exact. But below are a few tips on how I'd recommend doing it:

Pre-pay: Prepaying gas in your rental car will force you to explore more if you want to get your money's worth. For example, when I was in Finland, with gas at $7 a gallon, I probably wouldn't have taken a detour to Turku, but I am glad I did as the town was a fun day trip. And come to find out it actually was Finland's capital for most of Finland's history.

Turku castle


Splurge on GPS: If overseas, having the peace of mind that you won't get dreadfully lost. However. don't be afraid to turn it off like we did in Canada just exploring some cool back roads.

Pay Attention to Speed Limits: After Kenny and my return home from our trip to Paris in April, I received in the mail not one but TWO speeding tickets. Since then I have become aware of how Europeans love to patrol their highways remotely. I almost got caught a couple times in Finland but was saved by my GPS altering me to an upcoming detector. Go the speed limit, you will see more:)

But Take Public Transport When Able: Yes, having the freedom to go off the beaten path is great, but there are certain places and times when a car is unnecessary or cumbersome. For example, when I took the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia, I didn't want to have to deal with finding a place to park a rental car. So instead, I just took the city bus. I got to see a different side of Helsinki and saved 50 Euros by not taking an airport taxi. Also, places like Munich make it tough to get to the city center while driving and public transport is so efficient it doesn't make sense to have a car.

Check Trip Adviser: There is nothing like having open-source reviews of all the sights, and sites cited for you. Check to see what are MUST sees. But then have the confidence to peel off from it and explore. After all some of the best parts of traveling is having your plans throw away haphazardly as you find new and more exciting opportunities.

Also check UNESCO: Don't forget this website. You'd be surprised where you might find a World heritage site like when Kenny and I went to St Louis and unexpectedly found the Cahokia Mounds. Tallinn's city center was a  site and I am certainly glad I made it there.
Tallinn

Bring good company or go alone: I am very lucky that I have a great fiance and parents to travel with. My week with the parents in Canada and my travels with Kenny were great. But that's because we have similar tastes and expectations for our trips. If you can't find someone to travel with who is going to enhance your trip, I'd recommend going alone.

Sample Local Cuisine: I couldn't pass up the herring, caviar or borscht in my time to Estonia, any more than I could(but should have) dried fish in Iceland or the 100 year egg in China. You may never be back and really should try everything. But do it at lunch where it is usually a lot cheaper.

Opt for a Layover: On my way home from Finland, I extended my layover in Munich Germany. I love Munich and certainly would recommend visiting even if only for a day. The amount of architecture, museums, food and, of course, beer halls within a train ride from the airport, makes a visit well worth it. And most times, extending your layovers doesn't end up costing you more and may actually save you a little money.

MUNICH:




Remember: The Best parts of travel are the unexpected. 
"The whole point of travel... is to have my sense of possibility expanded, to see every box in which I like to put things exploded-- and to be reminded that life generally has plans for us much wiser than the ones we might have concocted ourselves. One of the main things bucket lists teach us is the folly of treating places and experiences as collectibles. Happiness is very often commotion recollected in tranquility. On any good trip our expectations will be upended."

I hope your trip plans become upended soon:)


Until next time,

Danny

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rained Out

As you may have surmised from my last post, I didn't necessarily have a lot of confidence in my ability to race this past weekend's Pisgah 55.5k. So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that given the opportunity to not start, I would leap at it. And the excuses rained down on me quite literally Saturday night.

We had camped out directly across from the race start and after a wonderful day sailing at Lake Murray and a good night in Asheville, I was thinking the race would turn out okay. I was disabused of this thinking around midnight when the skies opened up and delivered what ended up being over three shoes full of water(every time I got up in the night, I emptied my boat shoes which every time were brimming over). We ended up soaking ourselves because I didn't close the zipper all the way and soon we had a nice little water bed.

I had intended to wake up at 8a to get ready for the race but it was still pouring and because of my less than optimal sleep, I dozed off for another hour only to awaken to no better conditions. We hurriedly disassembled the tent in the downpour and quickly changed into dry clothes in the car. After having almost cracked my skull on the sprint to the car, I was already pretty confident I would not be racing.

We did swing by the start line and I saw about 10 hardy souls milling about before the start. I knew I would not be one of them. Instead Kenny and I explored via car the area, stopped for a short run through the rain to a waterfall in Dupont State park, had lunch, drove home, showered and did laundry and still had an hour to spare before I would have likely finished the race. Some may call it cowardly but I'd prefer judicious or prudent maybe.

But now I'm short for mileage and only four weeks until my marathon in Finland so it looks like I'll be doing the typical Ferreira training plan of holding my breath and flexing my stomach.

oh well, some things never change.

Until next time,

Danny

Friday, May 19, 2017

Pisgah 55.5k Trail Race-Silly Impulsive Decision

Somehow I thought I would be a good idea to enter myself in a 36 mile trail race this weekend. In fairness, I thought it was, as advertised, 33 miles(55k would be about that), not the actual 36 miles I'm now seeing on the course map. But still...

Craziness. But it takes place right outside of Asheville NC so Kenny and I are planning on journeying in to see what all the fuss is about. And camping right at the start line in our hammocks sealed the deal. 

I'm taking this race as a really long hike and am really just trying to get some strength back in my legs and build my endurance a bit more before my Finish marathon in mid-June. I want to be fit enough for that to actually be able to enjoy it. 

Still... This weekend's race looks brutal and I'm questioning my decision. And the 10:30a start time makes for a really hot race. So yes I'll probably be really questioning my decision on Sunday. 

Here's the course profile:






Yep. Awful.


I'll keep you posted on how it goes.


Until next time,

Danny