Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Year of the Crashed Turtle - Race#14
Hairy Muddy Gorilla Trail Half Marathon
Sunday, October 29, 2006

2006 Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon results
Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon info

2006 Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon photo slideshow

Since The Crash, the longest distance I've run has been 8 miles. So I wasn't too upset to learn that this weekend was supposed to be characterized by drenching rain on Saturday and frigid cold with up to 40 mph winds on Sunday. I even went so far as to say something like "Wow, those guys are going to have a miserable race on Sunday - glad I'm not paying to do that!"

You can probably see immediately where this is going...

Saturday afternoon I got home and just for the heck of it, I visited the Hairy Gorilla site and chuckled over the "bring warm clothes to change into" and "you will get WET" statements. Then, just for the heck of it, I pulled up the e-mail that was sent to pre-registered runners, and that was my downfall. Because in that e-mail posting were three tiny hooks guaranteed to catch the trail running Turtle...

  1. Each half marathon finisher would receive a mini Hairy Gorilla - last year I'd seen these small stuffed gorillas on the awards table and been bummed that I'd never be able to get one, since it's unlikely I'll ever place in my age group. But this year - I could get one just by finishing...

  2. The course had been altered slightly, as requested by last year's runners - in particular, two annoying loops through the grass fields in front the the picnic area (race HQ) had been eliminated and replaced with a short stretch along the escarpment trail in the first half and an out-and-back loop in the 2nd half into an I'd never been in. So they not only addressed two of my peeves about the 2005 course, but I would also get to see someplace new...

  3. The loop through the Paint Mine area of Thacher Park was being run in reverse of what we run for Indian Ladder every July, as well as continuing to include some trails that aren't used in that race.

So take all of that, plus the fact that the trails would be muddy beyond belief, and Saturday afternoon I made the decision to run the Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon Sunday morning. I finalized that decision by making a run to the store to pick up supplies (Clif bars, a disposable camera, and bananas) and changed my clocks before going to bed, somewhat wondering what I had gotten myself into for Sunday...

So for the 2nd time this fall the alarm went off on a race day. At this point that's not a big deal, and this one is especially nice in that it's close enough that I didn't have to get up too awfully early. Probably the toughest thing about packing was knowing what clothes to bring - I finally went with the overkill approach, figuring it was better to have a fleece top I didn't need than to be up there freezing and wishing I'd brought it. Had a pleasant surprise on the trip over to Thacher - sunshine! Parked the car and registered for the race, and had another pleasant surprise - a race T-shirt! After that I spent a while gearing up and wandering around... the views off the escarpment were, as aways, great, and whenever the wind dropped a bit it was actually pretty pleasant. Got the word that the race would start in 20 minutes, so I made a tough call and put my windbreaker in the car - my main worry being that I would end up walking a lot during the 2nd half of the race and freeze my backside off.

Josh Merlis, the RD, had a few quick things to say once we had gathered at the starting area - among them "If you're from the Western Mass Athletic Club - you're going to think this course is flat, smooth, and dry!" in a nod to the many insane places they do races and, to first time trail runners, "You're going to die." And then, after a few short delays - off we went!

As in last year's race, after we entered the woods there was a brief bottleneck where folks were trying to tiptoe around a huge puddle, and as in last year's race - I splashed down the middle, figuring I'd be wet soon enough anyway and probably wouldn't dry out until the finish. The trail through the woods was flooded in spots - a warning of what was to come. After that we got to wade through a very cold stream - fun! and had a brief jaunt along the escarpment before heading into the Paint Mine area and a couple of long slow slogs uphill. But most of that was relatively dry, and all too soon we were heading down Paint Mine Road to retrace our steps through the stream and through the flooded woods back toward the starting area... at which point the sane folks headed to the finish of the Squirelly Six Miler and I headed off into the wilds of the 2nd half of the half marathon. My time at that point wasn't bad - 1:18 or so - but also wasn't great, and my legs were beginning to hurt, which meant I was in for a slow 2nd half.

Part of the fun of this race is the people - the ARE encourages both runners and volunteers to appear in costume, so there were numerous interesting characters on the course, including a number of gorillas and a chainsaw-wielding maniac. I even had a very nice young lady dressed as a huge banana running with me in the short space between the end of the six miler and the return to the woods for the remainder of the half. (Some of the other volunteers urged me to run faster and not get beaten by a banana, but I'm not proud... any banana that's faster than me, and that doesn't take much, is welcome to beat me!)

Into the 2nd half, and pretty much on my own. Just before the bottom of the 2nd big hill, the top three guys blazed by me within seconds of each other... they had about three quarters of a mile to go and I was only about half done. Impressive. Slogged up the hill and warned the volunteer at the top that he might want to get a flashlight so he could see me when I came back through! After a brief pause to empty rocks and sticks out of my shoes, I made my way around the pond and onto the first of several long, slippery, muddy plods. Between the wet course and the 100 or so runners who'd been through before me - there was no way to run without ending up on my back or blowing out a knee. So I slipped and slid to the next aid station, where I repeated the flashlight warning to the very nice folks there.

Then it was off into the new area - another mud-plod down a trail to a loop around a field. It was during this section that the snow flurries started - would have been quite pretty if I hadn't been trying to stay on my feet and maintain some forward motion!

After that it was up the road to the old quarry, and then a long slow run along the Long Path and doubletrack to get back to the aid station. It was during this stretch that I became the official "last runner", as two folks from the WMAC passed me. (You can always tell you're last when the guys taking down the course markers appear behind you!) At the aid station Christophe the gorilla greeted me enthusiastically and did his best to get me pumped for the last couple of miles. Christophe is an incredible runner who has done several ultras this past year - it was nice to actually get a chance to talk to him for once (usually the only time I see him is when he blazes by me on the return leg of an out-and-back race!) His energy and enthusiasm helped keep my spirits up as a slowly made my way back to the top of the hill - where I got my picture taken! (So along with the two pictures I asked volunteers to take using my camera, I should have at least one more too.)

At the bottom of the hill I ran into John Kinnicutt on his bike and after I asked him a question about the last bit of the course he decided to ride back down with me. It was great talking to him and best of all - it distracted me from that last run through the field, which I always find difficult. And before long I was back on the trail through the woods, slipping and sliding up the last hill, and then out in the ball field and heading for the finish line, complete with a cheering mass of volunteers. (They may have been cheering because they could finally pack up and go home, but I'm going to keep thinking that it was because they were happy I'd made it, after 3 hours and 21 minutes!) I may have even managed to pick up the pace slightly... OK, very slightly. I was given my stuffed gorilla and best of all - they gave me two! So now I have one to give to Ann...

So all in all it was a good day to plod my way through 13 miles - cold, wet, windy, and muddy, yes, but the people there were great and it feels good to have done a run I really wasn't positive I could finish running. A huge congratulations and an even bigger THANK YOU to the Albany Running Exchange and all the volunteers for putting on such a fun event. And after my conversation with John I think I may have to run it next year... it sounds like they're making some changes to the course that should be very interesting.


2006 event totals
snowshoe - 3 miles, 59.5 min
running - 118.23 miles, 29 hr 31 min
riding - 52.4 miles, 4 hr 8 min

Monday, October 23, 2006

23 Mile Ride in Slingerlands and Bethlehem
Monday, October 23, 2006

Another grey, cold, windy day. Not ideal for doing a 23 mile ride after work... but I've got to ride when I get the chance. I clipped my red blinky light to my back pack to help with visibility, and wound my way along a variety of roads to the west of Albany. Another good shakedown ride for the new bike, which handled it well - though it gets a bit squirelly, especially in a crosswind. On the other hand, I used to think the Dawes was squirelly, and now I don't even notice it.

Some highlights of the ride...

A small group of wild turkeys scrambling into the brush alongside the road down near Five Rivers.

Cresting a hill and seeing the sun starting the peek through the clouds, lighting up the Helderberg Escarpment. Gorgeous.

Climbing the hill just past Five Rivers and having the sun come out for a while, casting the whole hillside and valley into golden light. Absolutely magical.

Zipping down parts of New Scotland Ave and Hackett Blvd at close to 20 mph and not even pushing all that hard (tailwinds are wonderful!)


Sunday, October 22, 2006

7 Mile Run at Five Rivers
Sunday, October 22, 2006

Originally planned to go up to Thacher today, but decided to save some driving and go to Five Rivers instead... also I was a bit worried I'd get back to the car after sundown at Thacher and find myself trapped behind the gates until morning!

A good run today. Hip didn't ache too badly, and I got to run some pretty trails. The sun even put in a brief appearance toward the end! My legs aren't as shot this evening either - maybe I'm getting some of my running strength back.

In 1997 I started running, initially to try to run the Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska, as a fundraising for the Leukemia Society of America (now the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) Team in Training program. (OK, the real reason was to get a trip to Alaska... we all saw some benefit in the end!) Somewhere along the line I discovered a liked running, and kept going. Then I started hearing about trail running, which sounded really fun - running in the WOODS and other CRAZY PLACES.

I started trail running in the fall of 1997. My first trail run was along a stretch of the Appalachian Trail just outside of Great Barrington, MA. I was hooked right from the start. Late that fall I bought my first pair of trail shoes and went for a run in Mt Washington State Forest, seemingly straight up the side of a mountain. I absolutely loved it. And I've been a trail runner, on and off, ever since.

Today as I was running through the woods, sweating because I'd overdressed slightly, the leaves swishing and crunching under my feet, breathing heavily in the cool autumn air - I was reminded of those first trail runs, 9 years ago. I've run trails in every season and in 4 different states (6, if you count the snowshoe race in Vermont last December and the 8 miles stretch of dirt road we ran on as part of the Alaska marathon in 1997.) Some runs have been magical experiences that I loved and others have just been hard work. But I guess autumn holds a special pull for me - because that's when I first hit the trails to run them, nine years ago.

And I plan to keep running them for as long as I possibly can!


Saturday, October 21, 2006

30 Mile Ride on the Canalway Trail
Schoharie Crossing to Sprakers
Saturday, October 21, 2006

Since going to Rochester was out, and today was sunny (albeit cold and windy!) I decided to give the new bike (the one I crashed back in August!) a real shakedown and see how it handles as a "riding" (as opposed to "racing" - I have the Dawes for that) bike. So after running a couple of errands I hit the road for Schoharie Crossing, west of Amsterdam.

Schoharie Crossing is kind of an interesting place, as it's where the old Erie Canal used to cross Schoharie Creek right near the Mohawk (before the Mohawk became part of the canal.) It's also one of the few locations where all three versions of the canal ran right near each other, and now there's a historic site to display that. There are also the remains of a cool aqueduct that used to run across the creek, until parts fell down and parts were dismantled to help with ice jams in the creek and river. For more info, check out the Schoharie Crossing page of a rather informative site on the Erie Canal.

Parked the car, geared up, and hit the bike path, which is mostly stone dust in this section (there's a paved stretch running back a couple of miles toward Amsterdam.) I discovered quite rapidly that the wind was blowing predominantly toward me... in other words, I had to pedal fairly vigorously to maintain any slow forward motion, even on the downward sloping stretches. When you are a rider often THE WIND IS NOT YOUR FRIEND! Thankfully it was sunny - otherwise it would have been very cold and very miserable. But while it wasn't the carefree easy cycling I would have preferred, it was still a nice day and it felt good to be out doing something. Even with the constant traffic noise from the Thruway off to my right...

Didn't see to many other nuts... oops, fellow riders... along the trail, probably due to the cold and wind. After a while I started to get into it and thought I might actually make it to Canajoharie, for a total ride of about 35-40 miles. Then about 10 miles along I noticed a wobble in my rear wheel - a loose spoke. And guess who left the spoke wrench at home? Aargh. Tightened it as best I could with my fingers, and decided that (1) it wasn't that bad a wobble, and the stone dust masked the effect somewhat, and (2) I really wanted to bike past the Noses (Little Nose and Big Nose, two cliffs that overlook the Thruway and the river between Fultonville and Canajoharie.) So I rode another 5 miles, stopping in Sprakers.

On the way back - wonder of wonders, I had a tailwind and the riding was GOOD. A bit chillier, too, since the sun was disappearing, but I was able buzz right along at a nice clip. (On the way out, my average speed was 11.6 mph... not bad with a headwind. It was 13.4 mph on the way back!)

The wobble worsened on the return trip, and my front wheel picked one up too. (Note to self - pack the dang spoke wrench in the tool kit! And get another one for use at home!) So I decided to end the ride at Schoharie Crossing instead of heading down the paved path toward Amsterdam. Just as well - it was getting pretty chilly and probably would have been dark by the time I got back to the car had I continued on.

So - it wasn't the Black Diamond Du - but it was a pretty nice ride all the same, and the longest distance I've ridden all year. Now I've just got to figure out how to keep those blasted spokes tightened...

The Year of the Crashed Turtle - Race#13
Black Diamond Off Road Duathlon (DNS)
Saturday, October 21, 2006

Black Diamond Off Road Duathlon info

As much as I looked forward to doing this race again (it was a blast last year!) apparently it just was not in the cards, since this week it became clear that it just wasn't practical to make to drive out to Rochester for it.

Sigh. Maybe next year.


2006 event totals
snowshoe - 3 miles, 59.5 min
running - 105.2 miles, 26 hr 9 min
riding - 52.4 miles, 4 hr 8 min

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday, October 20, 2006

This has been one of THOSE weeks, when time has been at a premium and running and riding ended up not getting done... for the most part.

When school started back up I decided I wanted to try something different this year, and either walk or ride to work three or four (or even five!) times a week. At first I was limited to walking (recovering from The Crash) but as September progressed I was able to get back on the bike and cut my transit time by a third (amusingly, I can typically ride to school in slightly less time that it takes me to drive there.) Also, there's just something I find unbelievably cool about showing up for work on my bike, even though it means I have to cart the bike up to my third floor office and change into proper working attire.

This week I encountered chilly mornings (3), an afternoon when it was raining quite a bit, an afternoon when it was sunny but a bit chillier than I expected (fortunately the ride's only 10 minutes!) and one beautiful warm sunny afternoon where I really wished I had more time and energy to keep riding.

One thing that really stood out was the morning when I was riding down a quiet side street and was suddenly struck by how much I wished I could just keep riding. Let's face it - 10 minutes is just enough to start to warm up and whet your appetite. I've thought about leaving earlier and taking a longer route... but I haven't been feeling quite that motivated.

Of course, today I planned to ride in despite the rain - and then overslept, making it necessary to drive. I missed my morning hop on the bike... but as I drove home through the downpour and flooded streets - maybe it was for the best!


Monday, October 16, 2006

18 Miles Along the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Path
Monday, October 16, 2006

With the Black Diamond Duathlon coming up next weekend, I knew I needed to put more time in on my mountain bike - so after work I headed over to Railroad Station Park in Niskayuna (along the Mohawk River) and took the path over the Colonie Town Park (about a 10 mile round trip.) Chilly but nice riding. For one short stretch I passed a rollerblader and then had him drafting off me for about a quarter of a mile - at least, I assume that's why he stayed right behind me as I hammered my way up the slight rise! (Or maybe he wanted to race...)

By the time I got back to the park, my lights were necessary, more to make me visible to others than for me to see. I was feeling pretty decent and having a good time, so I decided to head over to the base of the old landfill, about another 8 miles round trip. The further I went, the more my light became necessary... riding in the dark takes some getting used to! Of course, it helps to be on a wide, paved path. Stopped to grab a drink at the turn around - and discovered that my headlight's low battery warning was on. (That's what I get for not changing the batteries before I left!) So I hustled back to the car, hoping the whole time the light wouldn't die on me (it didn't.)

Riding at night can be somewhat nerve-wracking but at the same time, it is very peaceful and on a clear night, quite beautiful. Here's hoping I can get in a few more night rides before ice makes the bike path too hazardous!

8 Mile Run Along the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway
Sunday, October 15, 2006

A grey, chilly day, but I wanted to run near water so I headed over to Lock 8 west of Schenectady to run on the bike trail. One plus to the weather - almost no one else was on the trail! Initially I saw two folks walking, but the rest of the time I mostly had the path to myself. Toward the end of my run there were a few other folks out walking, but that was it.

I had originally hoped to run from Lock 8 all the way to the railroad crossing at Scrafford Lane (about 9.5 miles total) but by the time I reached the drainage bridge next to the old Erie Canal in Rotterdam Junction, it was clear that the last 1.5 miles were going to be beyond me (my hip was starting to ache a bit.) So I headed back from that point instead. Can't say that I'm all that disappointed - 8 miles is still the furthest I've been able to run since The Crash, and I maintained a fairly steady pace for the whole run. And for where I'm at right now, running 8 miles in 1 hr 45 min is definitely OK.

Still, it would be nice to run in some actual sunshine soon...


Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Year of the Crashed Turtle
Saturday & Sunday, October 14-15, 2006

Originally, this was going to be one of the big weekends of the fall racing season.

My first plan was to do the Pinnacle Challenge Double Duathlon in New Hampshire - road running, mountain biking, road biking, and trail running, all in one race. What a blast that must be!

Then I switched plans and decided to try the Mount Desert Island Marathon along the coast of Maine. Between the pictures and the descriptions, it sounds like a challenging but absolutely beautiful course! Now I've got it on the calendar for next year...

I actually registered for the Ridgewalk & Run 14 mi Trail Run out in Wellsville, in hopes that I'd be sufficiently recovered to do it... no such luck. Of course, with all the snow out that way late last week, I'm not even sure they were able to hold the event!

It's been a difficult weekend, having to miss all these cool events. On the plus side, I was able to attend the semi-annual breakfast where rank certificates are given to the folks who've tested for black belt ranks in the last six months, and see my student Kyle get his certificate. I'm glad I was able to be there for that. But it still bums me out that I wasn't able to do one of those races...

Oh, well. There'll be other years.


Friday, October 13, 2006

7 Mile Run in the Albany Pine Bush
Wednesday, October 11, 2006

From mid-October to March, the bulk of my running is by necessity after dark. Last year that meant most of my running in the fall and winter months was over in the Pine Bush, since that's one of the few places where I can legally run the trails after dark. Since I've added some pavement running this year, I may manage a bit more variety this season.

Tonight was the first night run of the season. Sometimes running at night can be almost magical, as I chase my bubble of light down the trail. Sometimes it can be both exciting and unnerving, like last year when I heard the coyotes howling. Tonight was a little of both, as I made my way along the darkened trails and caught glimpses of glowing eyes off in the darkness (deer, mostly, though there was one pair that seemed a bit too low to the ground to be deer.)

The run started well - a number of minor aches, but at times during the first hour it almost felt like a run from before my crash. Then reality set in and my right hip did its best to seize up, eventually slowing me to a painful shuffle for the last 20 minutes or so.

Still, a run is a run, and being out in the woods beats sitting at home!

Even in the dark season...


Monday, October 09, 2006

23 Mile Ride Saturday, October 7, 2006
7 Mile Run Sunday, October 8, 2006
20 Mile Ride Monday, October 9, 2006

Well, after a week of not being able to do a whole lot, it felt good to get out in the fresh air again!

With the Black Diamond Offroad Duathlon only 2 weeks away, it was time to get in some miles on my mountain bike, so late Saturday afternoon I headed out on my New Scotland loop - over to New Scotland Ave, out past Five Rivers, and then down Krumkill and back into Albany. Managed to maintain a decent speed, but crawled up the hills; that is one HEAVY bike, especially after riding my lightweight road bike for the past few weeks! Should have dressed a little bit warmer - started with a jacket, then went to short sleeves (chilly!) then back to the jacket as the sun dropped lower and lower. I was glad I had my red blinker light for the last few miles - should have brought my orange safety vest too! But made it home, safe, sound, tired, and cold. And the views toward the Helderbergs and back to Albany from the top of the hill on Krumkill - spectacuar!

Sunday was run day, so I headed down to Five Rivers to run the trails and use up the film in my camera from the Autumn Classic Du. What a great day for a run... the woods were muddy and beautiful with the late day sun streaming through the trees. The pace was slow but the running felt good enough that I ran the trails back to the start, rather than finishing on the service road loop. Tired and sore, but a good tired and sore. And I should have some nice pictures.

Monday I took the bike over to the bike path between Schenectady and Rotterdam Junction. That was the warmest day of the three, and even though my legs were tired from the previous two days, it felt great to be riding along the river and the old Erie Canal. Headwind all the way out was a bit annoying, but the tailwind coming back was definitely sweet!

There's something about getting out on a sunny autumn day... the colors, the crackle of the leaves under foot or under the tires, the crispness in the air as the day progresses... I miss the long days of summer, when I can start a run or ride at 7 PM and still finish in the last bit of daylight, but autumn is definitely a special time to run and ride. (Of course, I could say the same about every season!)

Yesterday would have been a great day to run the Monroe Dunbar Brook trail race again... I'm sorry I had to miss it this year. And the pictures I've seen from the Canandaigue Fifties on Saturday - I have got to run that ultra someday!


Saturday, October 07, 2006

(hopefully there will only be one!)
Saturday, October 7, 2006

Woke up Monday morning sneezing... hoped it was allergies but as Monday progressed it became clear it was a cold. At least it waited until after the Autumn Classic Du... took some cold medicine and went to bed very early. Ah, drug-induced slumber!

Woke up Tuesday when the cold meds wore off... 4 AM. Gah. Couldn't get back to sleep with my sinuses raging so I went to the computer to do some work... and found it unresponsive. Repeated reboots informed me that the boot volume could not be mounted - in other words, there was a major problem with my primary hard drive, which not only runs the computer but also stores all my work and personal documents. Fortunately, I knew I'd backed the docs up sometime after purchasing the most recent hard drive (a 300GB monster) of the collection of 4 that lurk inside my overworked Dell Dimension 4500. So all (!) I needed was a new drive, plus many hours of work re-installing Windows XP, the varous security programs I run, and (eventually) about a billion other things.

One trip to CompUSA and one-slightly-more-expensive-than-I'd-been-hoping-for Maxtor HDD later, and several hours of installing the necessities and getting the basics the work, and I once again had access to my remaining three drives, including the backup I made back in... sigh... February. Yup, that would be 7-8 months of stuff lost if I couldn't get it off the dead drive. (For those of you who back up regularly - yes, I'm one of those idiots who didn't. Though I've become a major convert to the weekly backup plan.)

Didn't look good initially - the 'pooter recognized the old drive but didn't seem able to access anything on it. But Saturday night I hit on the clever idea of running chkdsk on it first and letting it try to fix the errors. Several hours later - success! I was able to transfer a huge number of files from the old drive, including what appears to be most of my documents (though some might be corrupted - I won't know until I try opening them. The few I've opened so far do seem to be OK.)

So I've gone from planning to cry much of the weekend to dancing the Snoopy happy dance. Still have a ton of work to do to get the beast back to where I want it to be. Oh, yeah, and I have a backup to run tomorrow night...


Friday, October 06, 2006

Iaido Training
Friday, September 6, 2006

A fairly nice class tonight - low-key, with plenty of practice time. We reviewed some sword terminology, in both English and Japanese, then split up to practice katas. The men spent the bulk of the time practice yin- and yan-no-kata, both of which are performed from seiza (kneeling position) -- not one of the more popular sets to do, since it's torture on the legs and knees. Fortunately, we took frequent breaks to practice u-ken and sa-ken. Those actually felt like they were flowing fairly well at times, and even yin-no kata and yan-no-kata felt OK by the end of the evening.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Year of the Crashed Turtle - Race#12
Rochester Autumn Classic Duathlon
Sunday, October 1, 2006

2006 Autumn Classic Duathlon F1 results
Rochester Autumn Classic Duathlon information

2006 Autumn Classic Duathlon photo slideshow

Now THAT was a great race!

Compared to last year, I didn't do all that great - 2:51:38, compared to 2:33 in 2005. But finishing time isn't everything...

When I crashed my bike 6 1/2 weeks ago, it wasn't clear how soon I'd be able to get back to running and riding. I finally got back on the bike 2 1/2 weeks ago, and started running again a little over a week ago. The bike has been pretty comfortable, except for my hill legs being shot. Running has been more problematic - the injuries in my hips and groin have been healing slowly, and the best I've been able to do has been 5-6 miles at about a 15 minute pace. So it wasn't at all clear if I'd even be able to finish the Formula 1 course (2 mi/10 mi/2 mi/10 mi/ 2mi), though I was fairly certain I'd make it to the end of the Supersprint (the first three legs of the long course.) And if I did make it to the end of the long course, I estimated a finishing time at somewhere around 3 hours.

Add in predictions of cold and rain for today and you have the makings of a pretty miserable
race. So much so that Saturday night after Ann's ambulance banquet, I headed to Wal-mart to pick up a rain jacket (despite it being 10:30 at night... with the alarm set to go off at 5:30 AM.)

Woke up to fairly heavy rain... not a good sign. When I hopped in the car, the rain had stopped, and there were even hints of sun peeking through the clouds off in the east. Arrived at Mendon Ponds park and found - clouds and sun! Granted, more clouds than sun, but still better than rain.

It felt great to be back at a race again. Said hi to a few volunteers that remembered me from the other 3 Rochester Classic Du's I've done, and wandered around getting set up, snapping a few pictures, and smiling because I was just happy to be there. After a short pre-race talk about the course being wet and being careful - Boots' sounded the air horn and off we went.

At this point the Classic Du course is an old friend... one that treated me well during the first run. Overall, it felt good, and I managed to run 2 miles in 25 minutes... almost last, but 5 minutes faster than I was expecting. Very cool. Hopped on the bike, and found that to be very cool too - of the "dang it's cold!" variety. Fortunately I warmed up as the 10 miles rolled along, though the headwind for the first 3.5 miles didn't help. Halfway through the ride the bike course turned onto Rt 65, and I had a pleasant surprise - fresh pavement! That was sweet riding, let me tell you! Turned back into the park, and pounded up the long mostly uphill slog back to transition at the beach lot at 43:36.

The 2nd running leg was tough - walked for the first few minutes trying to get my legs to loosen up - it hurt, but not too badly. Gradually regained something resembling my running legs, and finished in a slow 27:50. The 2nd bike leg went much like the first, even down to the time (43:12), and at transition I had a pleasant surprise - Ann had made it, as had one of my previous students, Katie, who is now at Syracuse University and had driven to Rochester on a project for her advertising class. It was nice to have my very own cheering squad!

Hobbled out of transition - my hip was really tight and hurting by then - and took a little longer to start running, but eventually passed the person who had started out in last place and overtaken me on the biking legs. Asked her how she was doing and was told that the run was doing her in, because she doesn't ordinarily run! (Wow - someone even crazier than me!) Crested the final hill and got to look across the field to the finish line - what a great sight. There weren't many people around - they were giving out the awards up at the lodge - but Ann and Katie met me at the finish, and Boots welcomed me across the line. This is one race where finishing felt GREAT!

There were lots of good moments during the race - I spent a lot of it smiling - but one stands out, about 4 miles into the 1st bike leg. Crested a hill and the sun came out, bathing me in warmth and turning the field of brown cornstalks into gold. Absolutely beautiful.

As always, the folks at Yellowjacket Racing were phenomenal - at no point did I feel like I was lower than everyone else because I was so slow. Everyone was very positive and supportive - I couldn't have picked a better event for my first one back after the crash.

Next up: the Black Diamond Offroad Duathlon. A pair of 2 miles running loops through Fishers Park and a ride along the Auburn and Lehigh Valley Rail Trails. Last year it was 45 degrees and raining - I'm keeping my fingers crossed for nice weather this year!


2006 event totals
snowshoe - 3 miles, 59.5 min
running - 105.2 miles, 26 hr 9 min
riding - 52.4 miles, 4 hr 8 min