Monday, June 15, 2009

The Long and Hilly Road

I had hoped to hear something on the job front by now, but I'm still waiting. Had a good interview but no decision yet.

The last couple of weeks has been a bit tense, to say the least. I've found a modicum of relief on my bike, spending hours riding the local byways. Since last Sunday, I've clocked about 200 miles. I'm amazed that I keep finding new local roads to explore -- the local circumference just keeps getting wider. That's thanks to my riding buddies. Another way to relieve the stress is to not ride alone.

What I realized two Sunday's ago was how high a level of concentration you need on a road bike. Running is great and you can really get lost in your thoughts, but if you don't want to get lost in your thoughts, riding is the way to go. There was a close call on the road that just reminded me how much more in tune you need to be out there.

How much am I loving the rides? I blew off the Survivor Harbor 7 miler run yesterday. My first healthy scratch. Instead, 50 miles around town, half of it with the hebrew school dads. Man, the weather was perfect. If it weren't for Matt's baseball playoff game, I woulda kept going. It was that great.

In all honesty, it's time for this frivolity to end and I'm truly looking forward to getting back to work. (I swear, the kids being on summer break has nothing to do with it!) In the mean time, just riding on.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Indoor Plumbing

Saturday was an absolutely perfect day for running. Sunday's weather for the Maryland Half Marathon, not so much.

I woke up to the pounding of rain on the window. Not as the weatherman had advertised. Driving up to the Maryland State Fairgrounds, Dunkin' Donuts coffee in hand, more of the same. By the time I got to the fairgrounds at 6:45, yeah, still more. I headed into the old race track and found a mirage -- indoor plumbing with no line! (If you've never been to one of these events to experience the pre race lines at the port-a-poties, you just won't understand what a big deal this was!) Went back to the car and dropped off my jacket. I figured I was gonna get wet anyway. No need to add the jacket in the event that the sun did decide to come out.

About 10 minutes before the start, I ran into Karen from TNT. We whined about the weather and then, as if on cue, the rain stopped. Finally, at 7:30, we were off. Even though the rain would not return, we were left with nothing but heat and humidity. I think I'd rather have had the rain.

I knew the course was hilly but I wasn't prepared for the misery to come. At least the first and last half miles were flat. Other than that, not at all. The whole course was hills. Lots of ups and downs. Some downhills too steep even to enjoy. At the 6 mile mark, I was right on a 10 minute pace. The sun was out and I was feeling very good. Half a mile later, a grueling, relentless 2+ mile climb. I held it together for that one, intermittently walking and running the last half mile or so. At 10 miles, I was still just off of a 10 minute pace. Could I hold it together for another 5k?

Mile 11 dictated no. The steepest climb on a narrow, hot, heavily traveled stretch was killer. About 3/4 mile walking and running. More walking than running. The rest of the way was a struggle. The last half mile was on the horse race track at the fairgrounds. They had plowed the sand surface away, but they didn't get it all. It was like running on the beach. It sucked.

At long last, it was over. 2:19:54.

I truly gave it my best and I'm happy with the effort.

Would I run this one again? Probably not. Though I'd like to tackle the hills again, at $75, this was a pricey event with minimal swag -- an unremarkable cotton t-shirt that didn't even have a date or note that it was the inaugural event.

On the positives, they did have plenty of support and liquids on the course. Oh yeah, indoor plumbing, too!