Solid Week of Family, Training and Racing in PA
Last week I went back to Pennsylvania for my youngest brother’s High School graduation and got in some really good family time, training, and a solid race result. All in all, a damn good week!
After getting in an easy 6 miles with the Dirt Devils in Marian Bear on Tuesday morning I came home to pack and head off to the airport. Fortunately, other than a close call on making the connection it was a pretty uneventful flight back east and I got in Tuesday night ready to eat and get some sleep!
Wednesday started with a morning swim at the Wilkes-Barre CYC. They had a pretty nice pool there and it felt great to be swimming in a 25yd pool instead of the 20yd that I’ve gotten used to at the Wavehouse. (On a sidenote, they closed the Wavehouse pool so Carrie and I cancelled our membership and we’ll be joining the Mission Valley YMCA. I’m stoked to start swimming in a real pool on a regular basis!) After that I went back to my mom’s and played with my nephew all day. One of the highlights of the week was definitely getting to spend so much time with him. My mom babysits during the week so I got to spend just about every day just hanging out with him. The kid cracks me up and has such a great personality.
That night we headed out for Kyle’s graduation. I gotta take a minute to say how proud I am of him and I hope he takes his outgoing personality and carefree attitude with him to college. His defiance to allow others to dictate how he should act or live his life is inspiring and it will serve him well in the future.
Thursday was an adventure run, not because it was supposed to be. They put in some loop trails in Mocanaqua that I didn’t have time to check out the last time I went home. I hadn’t been to Moc since our old New Years Eve parties so it was fun to go back down there. The plan was to run the 8 mile loop for 60 minutes then hike whatever was left to the finish. Now, to the surprise of no one that knows me, I of course got lost. Multiple times. I’m used to signs on the trails or just simple out and backs. Well since this trail system consists of 5 loops, they all start and end the same way but branch in different directions. The trails are marked with painted blazes on trees, posts, rocks, etc. I’ll be the first to admit I have a knack for getting lost and I’m not very good at following markers, but these blazes need some work. After getting lost in the strip mines twice, running to multiple dead ends, I was only able to follow the Emergency Access route markers to find my way back. Unfortunately I didn’t know how far I was going to end up going so I ran about 85 minutes with the last 15 minutes being a run/walk/where the hell am I scramble through the woods. Fortunately, the Timex Global Trainer has a fantastic navigate feature. I ended up resorting to going off trail through the woods to find my way back to the parking lot.
Friday I went back to the CYC for my longest swim in a while and it worked me over. Not only was the distance increased but the intensity was there too and the last round of my main set took it to me. I got out of the pool with one of my favorite feelings, the soreness and fatigue that you know only comes from putting in work that results in improvement!
Saturday was a great day! Started out with about an hour drive to Hickory Run State Park. (Note: Hickory Run State Park is 40 minutes from my starting location…yes, I got lost. This is why Carrie got me a GPS for Christmas.) I had found an Xterra 10K and was able to go check it out. I got there and was happy to see it was going to be a small, low-key affair. Only had about 45 people in the race and it was a cool crowd. I was able to talk to a few people including the RD beforehand and got a good feel for what the course was going to be like. I went out for a 10 minute warm up run and got a few pics of the first section of the course then came back for some stretching and more chatting with fellow runners. I love these small events where everyone is cool with just hanging out and BSing before and after.
It was time to get started so we had a quick course talk and the RD introduced a guy that hasn’t lost an Xterra in the Eastern PA area in about 4 years. That’s SICK! After, we all lined up and the sound of the air horn had us heading about a 1/4 mile down a pretty steep paved road before turning on to the trail. By the time we hit the trail I was 3rd and behind the guy we’d hope to be chasing and another guy who appeared to take the start with a little too much gusto. I let him stay in front of me as we crossed the stream that would serve as our finish line when we came back from our 6 mile loop. After some more double track trail we hit the single track that was a gradual incline but nothing drastic. I used the guy blocking the trail as a good way to slow myself down, regain my heart rate and breathing and compose myself. Soon enough he waved me around him and I was off in search of some hurt. My goal for this race was to test my fitness level and see if I could push myself to a solid effort over the distance so that’s what I did.
Once I was free to go I picked up my pace and cruised up the rest of the single track. I’d love to recap the race turn by turn but I have a horrendous memory and it’s even worse when I’m racing. I’m always amazed when people can do blow by blow recaps of an event. I’m at a loss but in short, the course was a mix of single track, a lot of soft double track grassy paths, and a very rocky, uneven section. With my goal being to push myself I refused to slow down through the rocky section and was shocked not to eat it at any point. Around mile 3-3.5 we were on a long section of wide grassy path and I was out of sight of the 1st place runner and couldn’t see anyone behind me. This allowed my mind to start to wander, but I was very happy with how quickly I was able to reign it back in and keep pushing myself without slacking off.
As I got to mile 4 I caught a glimpse of the lead runner so I pushed a little harder to start to close the gap. I could tell he wasn’t pushing that hard and must be lost in thought. I knew he was much faster than me but I was hoping to be able to reel him in and give him some crap about slacking off. Unfortunately, when I got to withing about 20 yards I stepped on a stick and he heard me coming. He turned around, saw me, and was gone. I didn’t see him again until I crossed the finish line and asked him if he was bored and decided to play with me.
The last mile of the race was a long, solid climb with two steep pitches. I had heard the race could be anywhere from 6.5 to 6.8 miles so I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be on this climb. When I got to the two steep pitches, I started running up them but each time I realized I could power walk it, save a little gas and was able to run better once the hill reduced it’s grade a little bit. Once we got back to the end of the loop I knew I was home free and the terrain leveled off a bit so I was able to pick it up again before coming across the stream to finish 2nd overall.
I was able to hang out after to talk to the winner, the RDs and a bunch of the other racers. What a fun race with a great group of people. I hope I happen to be in town during one of their future races. I was really happy with my effort and my time. I feel like Carrie has me on a good path for this season.
I miraculously made it home without getting lost just in time to help with the last of the set up for the graduation party and getting some of the food ready. We had a good time at the party and it was fun to see Kyle celebrate with his friends and enjoy the moment. For some people high school graduation can be an overwhelming moment and I thought it would be for Kyle because he was so passionate about the things he had done throughout the previous 4 years. He seemed to really have a good perspective on it though and I’m convinced he’s going to go on to good things.