Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boston Marathon 2014- Documentary-Danny Style

Amber Strong-Boston Strong
On Monday, I will be running in the Boston Marathon. I decided to do it shortly after last year's bombings as a show of solidarity for the running community and to show the world that we will not be bowed by acts of terrorism. However, due to my marathon schedule and having run two marathons within 22 days of Boston, I will not be racing Boston. I originally thought that I would act as a guide for a visually impaired athlete but it appears that every one is spoken for and there is not a need for me to help out there.

So instead, I've decided that I'm going to use the marathon as 26.2 miles worth of documenting runners, spectators, and volunteers all coming together for the marathon. I plan on bringing my phone and go-pro and take as many pictures and conduct as many interviews along the way as possible. I may even tweet, tweet.

I start in the first corral so this should be an interesting experiment as I will be able to capture a wide array runners as I am sure to be passed by thousands of runners as I stop along the course to take pictures of spectators and race officials. I will actually probably start interviewing people at the expo.  I'm sure many of you are suspecting that I'm doing this so I don't have to make excuses for my slow time and you would be right:)

But it would also be wrong. I didn't sign up for the marathon for myself  and don't now want to turn this into another race about me. By taking photos and videos of all the other people, who like me, decided that they would not be deterred by acts of violence, we can demonstrate that we will come together to support everyone affected by last year's bombings, the city of Boston, and all runners everywhere who may have considered avoiding races out of fear of more terrorist attacks. Wow, that was quite the run-on sentence. But I hope that I can make this about more than one person or race and rather about all the good that running can bring to individuals and the community.

So if you're running, volunteering or spectating at the race, make sure to get my attention so I can capture your courage for joining me celebrating the lives of those taken too early or affected by the bombing and just the joys of life in general. It is good to be alive and let's not let fear stop us from enjoying it.

See you on Monday!



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Rock N Roll Raleigh and Florida 70.3 in Brief

Rock N Roll Raleigh
Downtown Raleigh
This weekend, Amber and I headed our separate ways to race a 70.3 and a marathon, respectively. I headed down to Raleigh to race in the Rock N Roll Marathon. I arrived Friday and spent the day exploring a local state park(Falls Lake), downtown Raleigh, and going over to Duke's campus in Durham.
Falls Lake

My first meal in NC. 
For some reason, I thought that Duke had the pretty campus and UNC was pretty bare bones. However, after going to breakfast in UNC the next morning(my hotel was in Chapel Hill), I discovered that I was mistaken. Duke certainly has some pretty cool things nearby, like the eponymous Duke Forest, but it definitely feels more like a modern campus. Meanwhile, baby blue tar heels' campus is beautiful and looks like a small liberal arts college.

After breakfast Saturday, I headed back into Raleigh and met up with Amber's Aunt Babe and Uncle Johnny who kindly treated me to a BBQ lunch and a walk around the Raleigh's City Market.
Babe and Johnny, a former center for Penn State's football team
 Despite the fact that I got back to my hotel room early for an early bedtime, the television was calling my name and I couldn't go to bed until after I found out who murdered someone else on CSI, SVU, NCIS or an be other jumble of letters with simple plots, twists and unimportance. Nevertheless, my inner sloth came out and before I knew it, it was eleven and I now only had 4 hours of available sleep. Moments after I closed my eyes, my alarm went off and it was time for me to get prepared. My relative success at Knoxville two weeks earlier, made me want to repeat my morning-of routine which included iced-coffee, apple sauce and chocolate milk. Last time I felt comfortably full but this time, probably due to the earlier wake up, I still was hungry...

I held off urges to stop at the local McDonalds and made my way into downtown Raleigh. Having reconnoitered the day before, I already had my parking area mapped out and thus was able to avoid the huge backup off the highway.
My trusty little steed- very funny when I picked it up since almost everything else was a truck!

In fact, the traffic was so bad that the race director actually delayed the start to allow everyone a chance to get to their respective corrals. I knew it was going to be a hot day, and I had planned ahead by freezing overnight a buff(for laymen, a buff is a glorified headband). A piece of foreshadowing here: the only physiological reason for most "bonks" is when an athlete's internal temperature reaches a certain threshold, at which point the body has to slow down. My plan was to keep myself as cool for as long as I could.

Right before the start of the race, I spotted my buddy, Michael Dwomoh who I met at the Kiawah Marathon where he beat me by over 10 minutes. We talked for a few minutes and as the race began he encouraged me to take it easy for the first few minutes and ease my way into it. I took his advice to heart and started at a modest pace. However, after a few miles, I realized that what was, two weeks ago, a modest pace, was today quite a struggle. The heat, hills or my fatigue all combined to make 6:40's seem very challenging. I was able to pull through the half mark averaging almost exactly 6:40's, but unlike Knoxville, where I got there refreshed and confident, I arrived here today, very concerned about what pace I would be able to hold.

From that point forward, I stopped at every aid station, gulping down 2-3 cups of Gatorade, another 1-2 cups of water and then dumping as many cups as possible over my body. My mile splits from that point drop 30-45 seconds on the ones that had aid stations. Even with all of that drinking, I still would develop cotton mouth and moments of panic if I couldn't see the next aid station ahead of me. This made the second half dreadfully slow. At mile 20 I was about 15 or 16 overall and could only see 2-4 runners ahead of me. I didn't even consider trying to chase anyone down, rather just focusing on just trying to hold things together enough to stay under 3 hours.
Feeling strong
While I was overheating in North Carolina, Amber was down in Florida, doing some heating of her own. I didn't know it at the time, but she had a great swim and was crushing the bike about the time I was developing a serious case of self-doubt. I knew the heat was worse for her than me so I pushed myself as much as I could to put it out of my mind and just focus on catching a few runners ahead of me.

Seconds later, feeling crappy:)
I pulled in at 2:58:38 passing 4 runners in the last few miles. I thought this may have brought me in to the top ten but wasn't sure. I quickly guzzled every bottle of liquid I could lay my hands on( I apologize profusely to the baby whose bottle I stole ;) and then headed over to the New Politics concert. They have a few songs that I like but as I suspected they are kind of like Neon Trees, in that the rest of their repertoire is pretty limited. Regardless, they were FAR BETTER than Jackyl from the Savannah Marathon and it gave me an excuse to just sit and bask in the sun for a while. As they wrapped up, I decided I would be kind to my flight-mates and try to get myself rinsed off before I flew home.

I went over to Jordan Lake a few towns over. It is a pretty cool place with a few short hiking trails and a nice beach and swimming area. Kayaks, SUPs, and sailors were all on the water. Plus a few triathletes training(maybe for Raleigh 70.3?) beyond the swim buoys.

Now I'm sitting out on the patio at the Hooters right outside the airport. I just found out that I finished 8th overall and only lost to Michael by 7 minutes so I'm happy with my race.
View of Jordan Lake for hiking trail


Jordan Lake



Taking it E.A.S.Y. 



 I know I should probably go through security, but it is so hard to go inside with this weather!



I found this little nugget on my first day in NC. Yes that's a slew of slowcookers right next to a cemetery. Nothing like cutting out the middle man:)


Oh, and Amber did well at Florida 70.3 I found out but I'll let her tell the story. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Weekend Ahead-Florida 70.3 and RnR Raleigh

This coming weekend is big for the Ferreira Family. Amber will be racing her first triathlon in 2014 at the Florida 70.3 in Haines City, Florida. It will also be her first triathlon on her new bike and race kit racing for Maverick Multisport. I will be heading out to Raleigh, NC where I was comped a free entry for the Rock N Roll Marathon by Brooks. Normally I wouldn't think running a marathon 8 days before Boston and two weeks after Knoxville was a good idea but a free marathon entry made it worth it. Amber on the other hand, hasn't raced in a while and has been itching to go. I mean she is raring to go! Her training has come along very well this year and the times I've run with her I know she's going to have an amazing 2014 triathlon season.
The US Snowshoe Champion is ready to take on the world of triathlon!

While Florida may not be a high point scorer for qualifying for Worlds, it does appear to attract a high level of competition. As you can see from some of the studs below, Amber, once again, shows her tenacity and lack of fear in going head to head with some of the fastest SBK out there:
 Florida 70.3 Start List

36 Nina  Kraft
37 Caitlin  Snow
38  Jessica Jacobs
39  Rebekah Keat
40  Jackie Arendt
41  Laura Bennett
42  Margie Shapiro
43  April Gellatly
44  Katherine Bruck-LaGala
45  Jocelyn Cornman
46  Dee Atkins
47 Lauren Goss
48  Rachel Jastrebsky
50  Stephanie Jones
51  Tamara Kozulina
52 Sharon Gallant
53  Suzy Serpico
54  Jessica Chong
55 Amy Javens
56  Jacqui Gordon
57  Rebeccah Wassner

Beyond the deep competition, the heat and humidity and flat bike course aren't necessarily in her favor. However, the swim will be non-wetsuit which should help thin out the weaker swimmers, and the run profile does look like it's got a few hills that typically help reign in slower runners. It's too bad that I won't be able to watch her race because I'm sure it's going to be an awesome day. You can follow her race this Sunday on Ironman.com.

Ten minutes after Amber starts her swim in Florida, I will start my marathon in North Carolina. This will be my first time in Raleigh so I plan on exploring a bit on the days leading up to the race as well as getting together with Amber's Aunt Babe who lives a few hours from town. The race itself looks pretty hilly so I'm going to try to take it out conservatively again like in Knoxville, however, hopefully I won't cut it quite so close. We will see.
I can't tell if Amber's excited about the upcoming season

 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Knoxville Marathon


This past Friday, I flew down to Atlanta to race the Knoxville Marathon. Knoxville, TN is about 3 hours north of Atlanta and while they do have an airport of their own, I wanted to spend some time with my brother, Andrew, who lives in ATL. He had to work Friday night so we spent Friday day together then we met up again Saturday after he took a bus to meet me Saturday morning. Unfortunately, it rained the majority of the day Saturday so we didn't get to explore much of Knoxville, other than by car but we did go to Ijams Nature Park-which was third on Trip Advisor's things to do while in Knoxville. 

The stairway to nowhere


The "view" from Ijams
It was a nice little park but I don't know if it deserved that high of a ranking(or it just reflects poorly on the dearth of other activities to do). Another thing on the list was to visit the Sunsphere which looks kind of like the Stratosphere in Las Vegas and was built as part of the 1982 World's Fair. Unfortunately it was closed for construction. The Market Square was okay but paled in comparison to Andrew and my last trip together to Savannah where the same named square was considerably more lively.

However, we were able to make it over to the University of Tennessee's campus and actually was able to watch the Volunteer's football team scrimmage  which was definitely cool.

Volunteer Scrimmage: Offense vs Defense

We spent the evening watching March Madness while I tried to get to bed early so I could be somewhat rested for the next day's marathon.
 

Having Andrew with me made the marathon pre-race inconveniences so much easier. Instead of getting up extremely early to ensure finding a parking spot and having to deal with hiding my car keys, I was able to get dropped off right at the race start and we both were able to sleep in a bit later. As much as I knocked Knoxville in the previous paragraph, what they lack in tourist attractions they make up for with the marathon. This was an exceptionally well-run race with a probably equal runner to volunteer(or Volunteer?) ratio. For a smallish race, they had start-corrals which made seeding myself appropriately easy. Aids stations were well stocked and frequent and they even had a separate post-race room just for the marathoners. Finishing on the 50 yard line of the Volunteers' football stadium was also pretty cool.

Having half-marathoners also running the first half of the course with you, often means that I take it out too fast and then pay for it in the second half. Cognizant of this, I purposefully took it out slower than I would normally letting probably 100 people get out ahead of me.

This course is HILLY! I think there were only two miles in the entire race that didn't have either a steep incline or descent. There wasn't anything too long but there were certainly some steep little kickers. The marathon was also interesting in that it took you through all different parts of town so you could really get a good impression of it. While it didn't sway me so much as to see it was a nice town, after running the marathon, I could at least say it was a decent town and probably a pretty awesome place to train. And the fans were spectacular! At mile 7, I started seeing pictures of animals, followed by "a ___ goes" and then another sign with the corresponding sound. For example, a picture of a cow, followed by the "a cow goes" followed by a "mooo". The people making these signs must have seen Noah because it seems like they had every animal known to man. And since these signs were well planned out, you could never see more than 1 or two animals ahead of you. It kept me in suspense. And to my surprise, the last sign had a question mark, followed by "But nobody knows what sound a fox makes". As I crested the next hill, after over a mile of these signs, I came across several people in fox customs dancing with this song playing:

 I guess it was a fairly viral song but I hadn't heard it before. Nevertheless it made me crack up as I was running.

Although a few runners looked at me annoyed, one half-marathoner started laughing with me and we soon got to talking. Turns out she was a coach with Uta Pippins for the Chase Corporate Team and has done a lot of the same races I had. We chit-chatted for the next five miles and I was so engrossed in our conversation, I almost missed my turn for the marathon. Parting ways with her, I crossed the half marathon mark in 1:27:24 which got me a little panicked because that didn't afford me a large buffer for the second half if I wanted to get under 3 hours. Which was the goal. I was also now alone in a fairly steady headwind. I spotted four or five guys about a half mile ahead of me and I made it my goal to catch them over the next few miles. This did the trick. I had a challenge that was manageable and (between hills) visible which allowed me to push through those hard middle miles. I finally caught and passed about one a mile ending up catching a total eight runners in the second half of the marathon. I ended up pulling into the stadium to finish in a time of 2:54:24 which while not being my fastest marathon was definitely the best run one as I actually negative split the second half(if only by 24 seconds). I finished up 14th overall but one shy of an age-group award. Which was good because Andrew and I were headed to the Smoky Mountains and to Cherokee for some gambling at the Harrahs on the reservation.
Andrew in the Smokys
Or so we thought. After getting stuck in traffic in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge(the antitheses of National Parks) we finally made it in to the Smokys. Only to find that the Newfound Gap still had ice and snow so the road was closed. While we could take another route through the Smokys, it ended up not bringing us anywhere near the casino. The detour also cost us just enough time that by the time we found a sports bar, there was only 2 minutes left in the Michigan St-UCONN game which was enough time for Andrew to watch his remaining team lose it on a silly foul of a UCONN player behind the three point line.

We spent the rest of the night and all Monday hanging out in Atlanta, playing board games and hitting up Piedmont Park for some spontaneous exercises. Do you know how I know Andrew is related to me? By his quirky workouts(see one of mine). In addition to some relatively normal outside moves on the park, we proceeded to do a steam room routine at his Condo complex. Ten minutes in the steam room->1 minute cold shower->50 push ups in the steam room->1 minute cold shower->10 unilateral squats and 25 push ups. Yikes! It was what I imagine what would happen if a Cross Fit athlete ran Baden Baden. Either way though, I think it actually spend up my recovery because I am feeling pretty good today and am ready to take on the second part of my marathon challenge at Raleigh in less than 2 weeks.

That same weekend, Amber will be re-entering the world of "normal" triathlon with Florida 70.3. Should be a fun weekend to watch!