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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Oral Health-the Silent Killer

I have some embarrassing news. So much so I'm hesitant to tell y'all. But since we're all friends here, I might as well say. At my recent dentist appointment, it was discovered that I had THREE cavities. That is exactly three more than I have previously had in my life time. And also exactly three more than I was expecting as I thought I was just going in for a routine cleaning; having had no tooth pain or discomfort and no perceived issues. I must admit that after hearing this devastating news, I began wearing sweatpants to work and giving up on life. It is all downhill from here.

Okay a bit of an exaggeration, but only slightly. Oral health is a HUGE deal. It's been linked to so many debilitating health conditions but often only manifests itself when things get really bad and hard to recover from.

And that's why oral health is such an insidious issue. Most people don't even know they have issues until they are pretty advanced. Which is a big problem as oral health has been linked to heart health, metabolism as well as brain function. The mouth is the Canadian border of bacteria freely allowing bacteria inside your body. These germs travel through your swollen gums getting into your bloodstream and wrecking havoc downstream. In fact, researchers have found oral bacteria in the clogged arteries of coronary bypass patients. And a recent article in Circulation estimates an increase of 30% risk of heart attack for patients with  periodontal disease even after accounting for other risk factors such as hypertension, smoking and education. Just as bad is your chances of developing diabetes if you have gum disease. And worst, in my opinion, is the 6x increase rate of cognitive decline with gum disease.


The good news?
A little goes a long way. A 2014 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who had at least one routine teeth scraping had a significant reduction of being hospitalized. Which means it's not too late!

Make an appointment to for a teeth cleaning as it's only with a dental hygienist that you can remove that tartar which allows for bacteria to accumulate and cause pockets in your gums. Then add in twice daily teeth brushing, flossing and a fluoride-based mouth rinse and you should be golden. Or pearly white.


PS. My dentist blames my year in Guyana without fluoride in the water for my teeth's decline.  It at least made me feel somewhat better.


It definitely got me thinking more about my own oral health.


Until next time,

Danny

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Water Keeps Rising; or A Hike at Congaree National Park

As the water rose to mid-thigh, I started really hoping that the old man had been right about alligators. A few months ago while doing my training to become a hiking guide at Congaree National Park, a few volunteer who'd been at CONG for many years said that the alligators only come once every three years. And they had just come last year so we wouldn't be seeing any this year. Something do to with turtle populations.

That seemed reasonable albeit somewhat esoteric, as I had no intention of being anywhere near the murky swamp that may house them. Or so I thought. Fast forward to this past Saturday and I am now nearly waist deep in water.

I had arrived to do my monthly guided long-hike to a sign saying all trails were closed due to flooding(all except the Bluff trail and a portion of the raised boardwalk). Inquiring at the front desk, I was told that the trails weren't technically closed, just underwater. They weren't sure exactly how deep underwater either since no one had ventured much further than the boardwalk.

After seeing I had no takers for a very much abbreviated Bluff trail hike, I decided to just head out on the boardwalk and see if I could a) help out anyone with trail info/guidance etc, and b) see just how flooded the trails really were.

I actually ran into many confused visitors who must have skipped the signs and headed out only to encounter water encroach on their walk. I was able to answer questions and redirect them so that was a good thing. I also came to the low boardwalk and saw what appeared to only be a few inches of water covering it. I took off shoes and socks and decided to see how far I could go.
 It didn't take too long before the water got a bit deeper.


I decided to retreat to dry ground and put my trail shoes back on so I wouldn't step on anything precarious as I'd now be venturing off the boardwalk onto Sims Trail. I was glad that Sims had trail markers on the trail because there would be no way at all to see the path.

As it was 90 degrees, it was actually quite relaxing in the cool clear water. For the most part it was very clear, but every few hundred yards, I'd come across a patch of clay and the water color would be brown and I couldn't see my feet. That became more frightening when the water got deeper and I saw a water snake scurry away from me. I really started hoping the old man was correct about the alligators.

Luckily, no more snakes and no alligators. Definitely a different hike than I had planned when I set out that morning, but what an adventure!

I volunteer at Congaree once a month so come by next month and I'll take you out somewhere fun:)


Until next time,

Danny

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuckfest Results

What a weekend! Of humility producing activities. Saved by Sunday's weather cancellation of several events, Kenny and I lucked out having to only suffer through a DNF at Friday's adventure race and a LONG and hot trail half marathon on Saturday. Don't get me wrong. The weekend was a blast! The music, food and drink added to all the events and demos we were able to watch was very enjoyable. 

But getting miserably lost and then only completing 2 out of 14 obstacles during the adventure race was an interesting way to start our weekend. Within half a mile into the race we encountered briers with thorns that left cuts for our first souvenir of the weekend. We, unwisely, decided to try to hit the furthest obstacle first so that we could then make our way back home as we ticked off the others. In reality we wandered aimlessly for 3-4 miles before popping out of the woods almost exactly where we entered, without having seen any obstacles. We retraced our steps and did eventually come across one obstacle and then came to a startling discovery. Not all the "obstacles" were obstacles. Our second one we reached was just a stick with a sticker on it for us to punch. We realized that we probably ran by a few without even noticing because we were looking for real obstacles. Apparently this literal interpretation of the challenge was our biggest obstacle. 

Sorry about that. Anyway, after another few miles at which point we intercepted another team running towards us who told us they had been running for miles without coming across a single obstacle, we decided to do the first smart thing of the evening. Quit.

Which we did undramatically and without remorse. We grabbed food, drink and a seat and watched the Revivalists perform. A far better way to end the night than be lost in the dark in the woods. 

The next morning Kenny and I, feeling better about that day's events, suited up for the half marathon. I have run two half marathons at the Whitewater center so thought I knew what to expect. I eyed the start line and saw 3-4 runners that I thought might be an issue but was thinking podium was in the cards. As expected, the race took off fast and I fell, comfortably, into sixth place, knowing that usually a few will slow as we enter the woods and more technical part of the trail. As expected, within the first few miles, I found myself in fourth and feeling strong. Unexpectedly, I was getting thirsty. Very thirsty. I hadn't even thought to bring my water bottle, having done races here before usually the aid stations were more than enough. Not this day. Over the next few miles, all I was thinking about was getting to the next aid station so I could have more water. 

During this time, I also, unexpectedly, came to the conclusion that this course was a)not the same as the previous times I'd run here, and b) long. It was a two loop course and I finished the first lap slightly under 7 miles. Not hugely off, but usually in trail races, my GPS comes up short due to all the switchbacks and whatnot. Certainly not long. This was discouraging but I kept chugging along, passing the third runner with about three to go. As expected. Thinking podium for sure. Then with less than a half mile to the finish, a runner passes me. Not extremely assertively so I thought I could hang on and repass before the finish. Unexpectedly, this didn't happen. Instead of speeding up like I thought I still could, I started seeing stars and forced myself to slow it down. That runner ended up beating me by over 30 seconds and put me solidly in fourth place-first off the podium.
 
Kenny didn't fare much better as one water stop actually had run out of water by the time she made it by. She has vowed never to run another half marathon there again but I think she'll change her mind. After all, she did come in 4th in her age-group so it wasn't like she had an awful race. Just, like me, not what she  had expected.

We spent the rest of the day doing our best to get a nice evenly distributed sun burn, which we did accomplish. We also did some other challenges where we were more successful,like getting a Chips Ahoy cookie from our foreheads to our mouths(easy) and getting two pennies out of panty hose without using our bodies or opposing hands(surprisingly hard). Another set of good musicians topped  the day. 

Luckily for our bodies, we awoke the next day to rain and temps in  low 50's. And my rock climbing competition was canceled. And I had no desire to enter in the kayaking comp with the rain, so we decided we'd create our own contest, eating copious amounts of breakfast foods and then heading back down to Columbia. 

Despite, or maybe because, our losses, we had a really fun weekend and have already put this weekend on our calendar for next year. 

Maybe we'll see you there.

Until next time,

Danny

Friday, April 21, 2017

Tuck Fest

Image result for tuck fest



This weekend Kenny and I will be going up to Charlotte and competing in a weekend of adventure. Tuckfest is like an adventure music festival. Unlike most music festivals where the extent of physical activity is usually limited to 12oz bicep curls and ungainly movements someone may kindly describe as dancing, Tuckfest is an athlete's music festival. We head up after work tonight and immediately have an option of a Twilight adventure race or trail race. Tomorrow morning we have a trail half marathon at 8, acro-yoga at noon and maybe even a mountain bike race. Sunday morning starts out with a rock climbing competition for me and another trail race for Kenny then a flatwater kayak race.

If either of knew how to navigate whitewater there is even more opportunities as there are whitewater kayak and SUP races too. In addition to all these events, there are demos, vendors and live music the whole time. Friday night features the Revivalists and Sunday Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.

It should be a fun time and we'll keep you posted on how it goes.


Until next time,

Danny

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ironman Texas Pro Start List

After months of recovering from her bike crash in Lake Placid, bad luck at Ironman Cozumel with double flat tires, and some serious training, Amber Ferreira will be toeing the line of her first Ironman of the 2017 season. As always, I am expecting great things from her and from what I hear she's definitely been putting in the training. Join me in sending her positive vibes as she competes against some of the best triathletes in the world on April 22nd in Texas. You can follow her at ironman.com. 


Here's the current start list: 


FEMALE PROS
BIB
LAST
FIRST
CATEGORY
COUNTRY REP
51
Williamson
Kelly
FEMALE
USA (United States of America)
52
Deckers
Tine
FEMALE
BEL (Belgium)
53
Chura
Haley
FEMALE
USA (United States of America)
54
Kaye
Alicia
FEMALE
USA (United States of America)
55
Brandon
Lauren
FEMALE
USA (United States of America)
56
Ferreira
Amber
FEMALE
USA (United States of America)
57
Herlbauer
Michaela
FEMALE
AUT (Austria)
58
Li
Shiao‐Yu
FEMALE
TWN (Taiwan, Province of China)
59
Robertson
Jodie
FEMALE
USA (United States of America)
60
Schaerer
Celine
FEMALE
CHE (Switzerland)
61
Stage‐Nielsen
Maja
FEMALE
DNK (Denmark)
62
Jones Meyers
Jessica
FEMALE
USA (United States of America)
63
Jahn
Kirsty
FEMALE
CAN (Canada)
64
Bartlett
Nikki
FEMALE
GBR (United Kingdom)
65
Elmore
Malindi
FEMALE
CAN (Canada)
66
Finger
Annett
FEMALE
DEU (Germany)
67
Green
Erin
FEMALE
USA (United States of America)
68
Livesey
Caroline
FEMALE
GBR (United Kingdom)
69
Luse
Nicole
FEMALE
USA (United States of America)
70
Madison
Mackenzie
FEMALE
USA (United States of America)
71
McCauley
Jocelyn
FEMALE
USA (United States of America)
72
Miller
Leslie
FEMALE
USA (United States of America)
73
Paulson
Ashley
FEMALE
USA (United States of America)
74
Roberts
Darbi
FEMALE
USA (United States of America)
75
Sanjana
Francesca
FEMALE
GBR (United Kingdom)


Good luck to Amber and all competitors!



Until next time,

Danny