Category Archives: Sea of faces

MCM 2019/Thirty Days and Six Years Later

What I didn’t mention in my last post about the Thanksgiving Prediction/5K, or what I lovingly call “the Turkey Trot:”

The 2013 edition was the first race of any kind I had entered since i retired from the Marine Corps in 2010. It had been about a month after I agreed to enter the 2014 with my Yuma Marien friends Dave Lauck, Steve Scwezc, and Greg Meins. It was about eighteen months after I had been diagnosed with type two diabetes.

The most memorable moment from that first Turkey Trot was probably somewhere during the second mile of the run, about a half-mile after the 1.5 mile turnaround point.  I had been passed by a young mother wearing a denim jacket, turtleneck sweater, and a full-length denim skirt.

On the day of the run, I think I weighed about 260~270 lbs. and had completely blown off a three-week plan to train for the Turkey Trot.

Wow, was I so grossly out of shape.

Six months later, in May of 2014, I found a training regimen, drew up a training plan and started this here blog.

As of this writing, I have six total marathons in the books: five Marine Corps Marathons and one trail marathon that I survived back in 2016. I ran a 15K, three Woodrow Wilson Half Marathons, two Riley’s Rumble Half Marathons, a Capital 20 miler. and annual runs of the St. Mary’s Hospice 5K, Leatherneck 5K, and Thanksgiving Prediction 5K.

For the record, the 15K, the Riley’s Rumbles and the Capital 20 did not award medals for completing the races. However, I DID gain valuable experiences from this runs, and they were building blocks toward the Marine Corps Marathons that I would run later in the year.

Two weeks after this year/s MCM, I got back in the saddle for the Turkey Trot. The first two runs were done in the 0500 darkness and mid-November cold. Nothing fancy, just jaunts out to Shangri-La and back. The Saturday run was postponed to Sunday morning because of the 20 mph winds that were kicking up that weekend. On Sunday afternoon, a week ago today, I said “hell with it,” and got out and ran. yes there was wind on the run out, but it was much less on the trip back home.

In other words, I slept in for nothing.

On Tuesday evening, forty minutes after my bike ride home from work, I made another run to the end of Shangri-La drive. My updated MapMyRun worked better than the Sunday run, which cut off a huge chunk of the run distance for some reason. The weather was much better, but I had some soreness cropping up in both my legs. My left knee acted up on the outward split, then my whole right leg was feeling it on the return leg.

Thursday afternoon, I decided to run on base at lunch. Because I was not able to map out a course on MMR, I did the run totally off the cuff. From the Moffatt building parking garage, I went up to Cedar Point Road, ran it up to Gate 2, and then turned onto Cuddihy Road. I followed Cuddihy back up Base Road, then back down Buse to the parking garage. I managed an acceptable 2.57 miles.

Note to self: remember to pack a bottle of soap and a towel if you plan on running on base.

My paces were not exactly flank speed for someone working towards an 11:00 pace (averaged about a 12:35 for the six runs), but it was never about a PR. Maybe I could have pushed for getting close on my prediction, but I forgot to enter my predicted finish when I filled out the form. As of this afternoon, I don’t even know what my finish time was.

At this point, does it really matter?

At this year’s Marine Corps Birthday Celebration (more on that tomorrow), I talked to a friend, Laura Braunbeck, about taking the Semper Fi Challenge for 2020. This event combines running the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon in May, along with the Marine Corps Marathon in October.

Sunday night, she talked me in to it.

Monday night, I signed up for it.

I discovered that my MCM Runner’s Club membership was not active even though I had completed the requisite five MCMs. After further research, I found I would not get my membership invite until February. I have printed up my Semper Fi challenge receipt, so hopefully I can get the MCM 2020 fee waived (and my debit card refunded!).

However, yes I am running the Historic Half in May, which means accelerating my training schedule to start back on the road in February. Much to plan for this winter.

I will probably be running at lunch a couple of days a week through December and January, weather permitting. Just gotta remember to bring the shower gear.

For now, though, I will enjoy sleeping through the 0430 alarm clock instead of answering it and prepping for the 0500 runs.

Songs of the Day (WARNING: No guarantee they will have anything to do with running!!!)

Sorry, I can’t find my headphones and my lunch is getting cold. SOTD will return tomorrow, FA’ SHO’!!!

 

Turkey Trot 5K 2019: Blase’

Apparently I have had a few visitors to this here blog since the Marine Corps Marathon almost a month ago, so here we go…

I planned to do this %k over a month ago, registered for it on Tuesday ( and even got the shirt delivered to me by a friend of one of the race organizers!), and still half-assed getting to the run.

The St. Mary’s Thanksgiving Prediction Run and 5K Race is held at Historic St. Mary’s City, 2019 being the 23rd edition. SMC is a ten-minute drive from my house, and I was even able to Uber to it last year. In fact, it is a six-miles plus run from my apartment to the race’s starting line, making it an excellent half-marathon training run.

The race kicks off at 0900. I usually arrive early because I do race-day registration, then hope there is a long-sleeve souvenir  shirt in my size. Because I pre-registered and already had my shirt, I didn’t leave the house until 0830. I got to the site of Historic St. Mary’s City in time to find a parking spot, check in and get my bib, and do a perfunctory stretch.

I entered the Prediction 5K Race, where you try to guess the time you will finish the run; prizes go out to the three runners who finish closest to their guessed times. Prediction runners are not allowed to wear any sport watches that gauge a runner’s pace and distance. I did not want to cause an unnecessary  controversy with the smartphone and attendant MapMyRun app, so I left the phone in the car. Also, I made a last-minute decision to take my Kodak mimi-camera, bit I couldn’t find it in a reasonable amount of time. Because there were no mile markers, I couldn’t even really take my traditional mile marker pics.

No MMR, no in-race selfies, and just the basic, bare bones stretching I do before short runs. Having run the MCM a few weeks ago, I had been pretty blasé’ about today’s run. Traditionally, the “Turkey Trot” is my finale to the running season for the calendar year. It should have been a time to reflect on the year and celebrate my fifth Marine Corps Marathon. I did think about the MCM a little bit on the first mile or so of the course. About a quarter mile from the turnaround point, I saw the trailing group of the pack of runners that were at my direct front. I had thought about trying to turn on the afterburners and seeing how many of the trailing pack I could catch.

Unfortunately, about a quarter-mile after the turnaround point, I myself was caught by a trio that was running together. As they passed me, I mused about running with a pack and in groups; I likened it to how flocks of birds collectively gain more lift and speed as they travel together. It also reminded me that I was not out here to “beat anybody” but li’l ol’ me.

Near the final approach for home i was passed by two other single runners and a young girl. AS the girl and I mounted the up-sloped straightaway for home, I decided to give her some encouragement and told her to pass me, then go after the two runners in front of us. She took the encouragement and made a good finishing kick. I made my finishing kick as well…and then the running was done.

…for the year.

I caught up with one current co-worker, and another former co-worker during the after-race festivities and snack-time. My former co-worker, Jared Byrd, introduced me to his wife and almost-teenaged son. I marveled at how long it had been since I had seen him: he’s got a teenager?

Just before I hopped in the car and went home, Jared and I shared a conversation with Manny Gaffud ( who helped me with getting my shirt early this year). Jared shared this profound thought: “If there was one thing I could do differently about my high-school running days, I would tell myself-‘you’re not running against anybody else, you’re only running against yourself’.”

Exactly.

My apologies, no Song of the Day today because YouTube is acting funny. I will be resuming the blog through Thanksgiving, so plenty more accompanying tunes to follow. Watch this space.

So good to be back.

 

MCM 2019: Death March in the DC Triangle

Got up at 0500. Breakfast of English muffin and a banana with peanut butter. No yogurt (just thinking of this almost twelve hours later).

Out the door at 0600. Wait, do we have to take the Metro down there??? Actually, I walked down to the check-in site as usual. I did get close to where the Metro dropped off runners, when I dropped of my bag at UPS. I put my Marine Corps olive drab sweats and a pair of compression socks for my post race cool down. Not sure if I want to do the UPS thing again, though; that was a lot of pre-race and post-race hiking for my cool-down gear.

The rain was there almost all morning. I was soaked by the time I finished the Blue Mile (Mile 12), and that impacted my Kodak mini-camera and my smartphone. My phone is taken apart (battery removed and cover off) in hopes that drying will solve its problems.

Because of the staggered start this year (by expected finish times), the starting howitzer was fired at 0755, but I didn’t get started until 0815~0820. MapMyRun actually worked for a little while. However, I grabbed my phone at Mile 16 and pressed the home button…and got nothing. I assumed that between MMR and my weak battery, the smartphone had been quickly bled dry. Sadly that was just one of the problems I had sixteen miles into today’s 44th Marine Corps Marathon.

I did follow my strategy of not going out overly hard the first eight miles, and gradually pushing the pace over the final two-thirds of the race. After Mile 8 I checked my pace: 11:57, not bad!

Unfortunately, Mile 16 was where it all fell apart. I got my Mile 16 picture, but when I went to do a pace check, my smartphone was dead (or so I thought). My 20-oz. bottle of water, with Tailwind and pickle juice, apparently sprung a leak somewhere after Mile 12 because it was empty. Also, the rain had stopped and the sun came on strong. I had my cotton base layer on over my compression shirt, so it was getting pretty warm. At Mile 17, I took of my base layer and put my bib on the compression shirt, hoping that the new Chafe Defender roll-on would protect my nipples over the last nine or so miles.

I don’t know what it is about the Gauntlet (Miles 16-19, in and around the National Mall in DC), but every year I end up struggling here. By Mile 17, I was implementing Plan B: marching for a quarter-mile or so and pick up enough to at least try running again. I did make the Fourteenth Street Bridge, but it was more of a relief that a feeling of accomplishment from years’ past.

Mile 22: Rosslyn. Let the party begin, right? I doubt this had anything to do with what happened, but…I grabbed a shot of beer and a fireball shot. Normally I stay away from the hard stuff while running, but I figured my Personal Record day was already shot to pieces, and I would be lucky to finish in under seven hours. At Mile 23, my calves seized up. I couldn’t even Marine Corps Shuffle  (slightly faster than a jog) let alone run. I was forced to march until Mile 25.

I had decided at Mile 17, after a few minutes of soul=searching about 2019 (training and life in general) that I was not going to do anything less than FINISH…no excuses or bullshit. I ground out the Gauntlet, the Bridge, and Crystal City, so I decided that i would march until the last half mile…where I passed the same starting corrals that I had passed only six hours earlier. From there, just run as hard as I could until the end.

6 hours, 7 minutes, 52 seconds. Twenty minutes worse than last year, and an hour better than my Sore Knee Shuffle of 2016.

Post-mortem/observations:

  1. I’m too fat right now. Next year I plan to be under 205 when I come to Arlington.
  2. Too many DNFs and missed runs, none of them due to injury. Bulshit. If I’m going to run the MCM (or any marathon) I need to take this seriously.
  3. #2 above includes a better diet. Running and biking can’t burn off every calorie.
  4. Famous Dave’s BBQ: RIB SHACKS DON’T PLAY JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE ON THE FRIGGIN’ RADIO.
  5. Loved the St; Louis ribs and fries, tho’.
  6. As the rain poured down and I saw the Marine lieutenants lining the MCM course in the rain: “Hey, Brooks Running: People will pay a good chunk of their disposable income for a Gore-Tex running tech shirt. Especially if they’re in fluorescent (night/low-light visible) colors. Y’all need to get on that.”
  7. Back of the pack (anticipated 6 hours or so finishing corral): Business in the front, party in the back…what party? If everybody was anywhere near as sore as I was, didn’t see a lot of Toby Keith-type action.

 

Song of the Day: 44th Marine Corps Marathon Special Guest: TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS!!!

Running Down a Dream: Otherwise known as my first fifteen miles. Genius ain’t shit, and don’t even ask me about the video.

Refugee: When I discovered Tom and Co. on The Video Music Channel/Night Flight/or the other pre-MTV stuff in the late seventies, early eighties.

Mary Jane’s Last Dance: I ALWAYS hear this song near the end, to in the beginning when I have to go park the car. The video is to creepy, so…lyrics. Also, not necessarily a song about drugs (oh, hey…thanks, Genius!).

Won’t Back Down: This song wasn’t necessarily in my head after Mile 17, but I wouldn’t have banished such a thought from my head.

 

 

 

MCM 2019/T-Minus 2: Expo

This year’s haul from the 2019 Marine Corps Marathon Runner’s Expo:

From the Brooks Running Area:

One pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19, size 12.5 D width. Thicker, more cushioned soles than my current Brooks Ravennas. They fit nice and feel nice, and I have a little more room for my big toes. Sadly, they will be in storage until next summer, after my current pair reaches “the end of the line.”

To commemorate this year being my fifth Marine Corps Marathon, I purchased one long-sleeve and one short sleeve tech shirt. The long sleeve has the Iwo Jima Memorial silhouetted against a sphere with descending shades of gray. The short sleeve has the Marine Corps Emblem (Eagle, Globe and Anchor) in white on a gray field, with “Marine Corps Marathon” on top and “Always Earned, Never Given” in a U underneath the emblem.

This year’s mock turtleneck for MCM entrants/participants is a black  number with subdued grey stripes running diagonal, and a light grey stripe across the center. The National Ensign (United States Flag) is over the left breast and the MCM logo is over the right. Zippered collar. Nice design, but nothing may ever top last year’s design for the mock, which was a shot of a crowd of runners over a light gray field. The reactions went from “WTF” to “WHOAAA!!!” You either loved it or you hated it. I have seen quite a few people wearing that particular mock through the year (eventually even I put it on), including more than a few people this year.

On the main floor:

I spent most of the expo looking for a pair of running shorts, similar to the tights that I purchased from Brooks last year. No such luck. The shorts they had were all lightweight material, and I wanted a set of shorts that were more ‘form fitting” and less likely to ride up my crotch. The lululemon stand had some, but…nah.

I bought three packs of Tailwind and one box of Ucan hydrate, looking for something to replace my Mio water, so I can have potassium/salt/whatever in my thighs and calves so I don’t tighten up near the middle stages (Miles 16~18) of the marathon. I’ve used Tailwind before, so I will go with a half pack of Tailwind and mix it with some dill pickle juice.

Yeah, yeah…”ewww, gross.”

Lastly, I bought two different anti-chaffing products as an alternate to the Body Glide that I bought with me. A friend of mine told me about this aerosol spray, but that particular  vendor wasn’t there this year. I will go with the Chafe Defender over the Stop Chaffing product, since Defender was a roll-on that felt real smooth when I tried it today. I’m doing this because lately I have felt some burn after my longer runs this year (after, not during).

I had lunch at the Public House in National Harbor, just across from the Gaylord Hotel, where the Expo was being held. Very nice club sandwich with side salad, and the local Public House Lager went down smooth.

Tomorrow will be a long day. Driving back home to get my suit tailored for next week’s Marine Corps Ball, then from there the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Hope I can find something on the radio than the BS that passes for country music these days.

The weather is nice out right now, but the forecast calls for rain on Sunday. I have a long sleeve base layer with me to wear over my tech shirt, but I will just go with shorts instead of grabbing my tights tomorrow. The tights are only going to get wet and slow me down.

Song of the Day: Shallow Gravy/”Jacket:” Just came out of nowhere, folks. This is the extended version from the Venture Bros. TV show, and here’s the full Ladle to the Grave version.

Why thank you, YouTube. The mini-episode “Ladle to the Grave” is now behind a paywall (meaning you have to pay to see it!). Here’s the original cut from the episode “Homeschool Prom.”, as well as the original video.

MCM 2019/T-Minus 27: Forward…MARCH

I can’t italicize the title? Okay…

I got out of bed exactly twelve hours ago this morning. Contact lenses took only five minutes. Breakfast of yogurt and banana, saving the Snickers bar for just before the run. Lubed with Body Glide and Skin-So-Soft, dressed, and out the door at 0545, about ten minutes later than I wanted.

The drive to Carderock Recreation Area was mostly uneventful, save for one wrong turn that needed a U-turn to correct. Got to the Picnic Pavillion at 0608. Nobody there and all kinds of dark (no moon of any kind this morning). Decided to move to another parking lot,=; got a bathroom break, but no one here either. It took another one more drive and a few minutes walk before I finally found the DC Road Runners’ staging area for the National Capital 20 Mile Run.

Despite my concern, I got plenty of time to stretch out (about 15~20 min.). I also met two former Marines, both of them Casket Bearers who were stationed at Eighth and I Barracks, Washington, DC.

The race promptly started at 0700. I got a couple of pre-race selfies ( “Shall we go out across the Sea of Faces?”-Roger Waters, from Pink Floyd: The Wall), only one of which came out, then quickly activated MapMyRun, and off I went…with about 200 other people.

Just before Mile 3, I had to take a No.1 break. I took a small trail path off the main C&O Towpath trail and received myself. I also confirmed that MMR will pause the workout if it senses you have physically stopped moving (run-in, bike riding, etc.), and it will resume tracking you when you start moving again. Mystery solved.

Apparently there were at least thee other running events on the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath this morning, because I saw runners wearing different runner’s bibs than the ones for the 20-miler. I also saw a few college women’s cross-country teams, more than a few solitary or group runners, hikers and couples out for a morning’s stroll…and quite a few cyclists. Maybe it’s just me, but I were a more avid bike rider, I would check the schedule and see what event(s) are going on. I would not enjoy having to navigate through the veritable army of runners and walkers on the course this Sunday morning.

I also shared the run with one woman and a man who spent time running the course for a set amount of time, then took about a 30-second walking break. I would catch up to them while they took their walking break, then tok off almost as soon as I drew level with them. More on this later.

Mile 13, enroute to going back up the Towpath, was where things got…interesting. I realized that the final seven miles of the run would be mostly uphill. Nice: another course, one more uphill climb, one more test of character/challenge to the will.

I had to give myself a serious pep talk: It’s all about finishing, don’t worry about the splits/pace, just keep moving, I’m gonna finish today. The pep talk did work for the first three miles of the climb.

Just after Mile 16, the male run-walker I was tracking, and an older married couple caught up to me. Epihany: I’ve been running this whole time, while these guys have taken breaks and now they’re passing me; maybe I should do the same thing? 

So, I resolved to not merely walk the final four miles, but i would march them. That’s right, full thirty-inch steps, dig this heels, step off smartly, just like at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego thirty-one years ago. I would march for about a quarter or half a mile, and then suddenly I would get a second wind and start running again.

At Mile 19, MapMyRun announced that I was at 4 hours and seven minutes. Hot damn, I’m gonna make it. I resolved I would finish this race at as much of a run as I could muster. I mentally called a marching cadence, then as soon as I would hit a certain landmark…”Double time…MARCH!” and then settle into a running cadence. I had to mentally sound off “Quick time…MARCH’ because the final mile was pretty steep, and the  start-finish line was not as close as I had hoped.

However, the start-finish line finally did come into view. I pulled even with another runner, and decided to join him in crossing the finish line together. As we crossed the arch, I pulled out the smartphone. MMR had me at 19.86 miles, because I started tracking from when I was back of the pack when the race started. After those last seven miles, I said “good enough” and stopped tracking for the day.

Normally road races award finisher’s medals for half-marathon distances or more. DC Road Runners didn’t award any medals for the 20-miler, preferring to spend it on the post race goodies. No medal, but I did get a post race selfie with one of the nicer-looking female volunteers, and took home a bag of bananas with a couple of bagels and peanut butter crackers.

I bough a pair of sweat pants and my compression socks for the post-race could down on the drive home, but i said, “Never mind, let’s just get out of here.” I didn’t verify this, but my pre-run Snickers bar that I never consumed was probably chocolate slag after four-plus hours in a warm car.

Final official time: 4:23.55. Final pace: 13:14, via MapMyRun. No negative splits, but I did manage to keep steady paces going out (about 11:35-ish) and coming back (about 15:10-ish), especially the last seven miles.

FINISHED.

Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath: never again.

Song of the Day: John Stewart/”Ticket for the Wind:”

This was the exit song for Smokey and the Bandit Part 3, which focused more on Sheriff Buford T. Justice (rest in peace, Jackie Gleason) and closed out the Smokey franchise. I had this song on my mind during the first half of the race. The song is really about the never-ending pursuit between bandit and lawman, and it put a pretty good bow on the movie series as a whole, even if Smokey III was more risqué’ (raunchy) than the other two movies combined.

With no Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed got do drive the black and gold-trimmed Pontiac Trans Am. Kind of sad how Gleason, Reed and Reynolds have all passed now; those were good times.

John Stewart:”Gold:” Bonus song, with Stevie Nicks on backing vocals. Kana is the Kana Highway, somewhere in California. No idea why she wasn’t in the video, probably that whole Fleetwood Mac thing?

…aaand Marine Corps running cadences for the dismount. NSFW!

MCM 2019/T-Minus 95: Half?

Sunday afternoon, while recovering from my 11-mile ordeal to SAIC and back, I was checking out the running schedule to see if there were any half-marathons I could attempt for this weekend. I actually found two; the Riley’s Rumble Half Marathon in Montgomery County, MD, and a Wounded Warrior Half in Triangle, VA.

Riley’s Rumble Half is a run you do for the love of running. The official motto is “thirteen miles of heat, hills, and humidity.” The hills come with the course, and the heat and humidity of Maryland in July we seem to have in spades this year.

The course for the Rumble is split among three legs. The start/finish line begins with a lap in the parking lot and then  finishes the opening third with a steep downhill; at the end of the downhill and after the four mile mark, the second branch is a series of rolling hills that takes you out and back to a local school. Halfway between the school and the course’s central hub is the midway point of the half-marathon, but as the announcer says, “…but wait; there’s MORE!”

The third leg takes you out to an open road; this road, unlike most of the course, is wide open country with no shade. If you haven’t felt the humidity by now, you will when you run this out-and-back stretch. At the bottom of the hill at the turnaround point however, is where volunteers had out packages of vitamin-packed freeze bars for you to suck on as you make your way back up the hill.

On your way back to the hub and back to the start finish is yet more rolling hills. Oh, remember that steep downhill at the three-mile point? At Mile 11, you get to run it uphill, a grueling three-quarter mile stretch of sheer climbing. You may have something left for a final kick for the last (mostly flat) mile-plus…if your legs have anything left after the last climb and if the humidity is not at blood boiling levels like it was this weekend.

Like I said, you run the Rumble for the love of running; there’s no complimentary tee-shirt or finisher’s medal. I do think the money they save on that means more for the decent sized food and drink fest after you finish. I have run this twice, but I’m not too sure about making the third trip to Montgomery County. First, my Sunday runs have not been too good lately. The last five: injury abort, Did Not Run, 8 miles, Did Not Finish (9 of 16 miles) and barely finished 11. Second is the recent heat wave, with the humidity making even the shorter weekday runs more of a challenge. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so maybe the heat wave will break…maybe.

I don’t even know about that much about the Wounded Warrior run in Triangle, VA…wherever that is. I might need to do some more research this week before I make that call. I do know that the course is mostly a gradual climb for about most of the first half of the run. There’s also the prospects of travel (rental car and hotel) that I will have to consider. At the end of the day, a second attempt at the St. Mary’s City run (13 and change) might not be so bad.

Whatever I decide, I really can’t afford to miss too many more workouts. Skipping the Wednesday run and the Saturday circuit course may have at least cost me the mental edge; I always seem to have missed workouts on my mind when the run goes bad. Right now, I don’t even know what runs I have scheduled because I didn’t print out my updated schedule at work today. For now, I will try to get through at least Friday and make the call on the Sunday run.

Song of the Day: John Williams/”Duel of the Fates:” 1) I am clearly running out of SOTD material, here. 2) Don’t ask me about the lyrics, I don’t know. 3) There is a really good story on how John Williams became the composer for the Star Wars movies, but I would have to look it up.

Sea of Faces (a blog in two parts)

Hospice of Mary’s 5K/10K/Fun Walk

13 April 2019

I was going to work the race before the run, so I got up at the usual 0430 reveille. Because I didn’t put my extra stuff (camera with batteries and SD card,FlipBelt) at the ready the night before, I left 0650 instead of 0630. When I finally got outside at 10 minutes to seven, I saw pouring rain.

I drove twenty minutes through a light rain and arrived at 0710 at the Leonard Hall Recreation Center in Leonardtown, MD. Instead of helping park cars this year, I milled about smartly in the Drill Hall. I registered for the 5K, secured my non-essential running gear in the car, then spent the hour and a half taking publicity pictures for the Marine Corps League. At 0830, with the rain stopped and leaving gray clouds, I started stretching and warming up.

The opening mile of the course is mostly flat, from Leonard Hall Drive around the Record Center parking lot, across Hollywood Road, then up Doctors’ Crossing behind the MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital through Miss Bessie Drive. Mile 2 goes north then south through most of Moakley Street, which is a good set of rolling hills. After turning around at the south end of Moakley St, it’s back on Miss Bessie Drive and back to Leonard Hall, taking the back end back to the parking lot and the finish.

The rain did stop and the course was fairly dry. I remembered not to go out too fast and start chasing the sizable crowd of runners; by the time I hit the first mile marker on Miss Bessie Drive, I had established a comfortable pace and set myself near the back of the pack. With nothing to chase but my pace, I finished in an official time of 32:38.37 with a 10:30 pace. Not bad considering I had the physique of Watto from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, and I had just started running a week prior.

The nest part of the Hospice 5k is the post-race spread. Aside from pulled pork sliders from Mission BBQ, there is always the three crock pots full of tomato bisque and Nathan’s beef hot dogs to go with the bounty of fruits, yogurts, bagels, and other traditional after-run snacks and treats. I think this is the best menu of any 5K that I have been to.

 

Leatherneck 5K

4 May 2019

The weather was much better today, a bright sunshine that sort of dimmed by race time. Much warmer morning. I got breakfast at McDonald’s and made it onto NAS Pax River and hit the old Pax River Golf Course Clubhouse at 0630…only to find the Marine Corps League had the site about 90% set up. I dutifully registered for the race and took a few photos with some of the Det members.

NAS Patuxent River has a ten-mile loop course on the outer perimeter of the base, the mile and a half loop for our course was on Cedar Point Road, with the Chesapeake Bay off to the left as you head down the first half of the race.

The sun had taken a break by the race started, but it was still comfortably warm. Once again I opted to fall back behind the pack at the start, preferring to set my own pace instead of chasing everyone else. Some of the parents running the race has children on little scooters, but they were smart/courteous enough to ride to the middle of the course so others could pass them.

When i run public 5Ks, I like to take “selfies’ of em at Mile 1, Mile 2 , and the finish line. Got my selfies at the halfway point and the finish, but I also got one of the eventual overall race winner. One picture I wish I had taken was one of Tony Rust. He’s a friend of mine who had a heart attack last August, and he has been getting back into shape. Considering how close he came to dying, it was really good to see him not only alive, but out and running. I didn’t get my official time yet, but when I checked the race clock as I finished, it was damn near identical to my time at Hospice 5K.

Three Marines from our MCL Det ran today, myself, an active duty Marine Sergeant, and Tony.

Tony finished ahead of both of us. Wouldn’t have had it any other way.

 

And, so…after two months of conditioning and another two back on the road, I believe I am at a good place in my running. I made it through two 5K races at roughly the same place. I’m tired and sore, but my knees and joints seem to holding up. No plantar issues either. Shoes feel pretty good.

 

SOTD: Will be in a separate blog post later. Sorry.

 

 

MCM 2018: Coda

I started 2018 with the Leatherneck 5K at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD. I ended it this morning at the Thanksgiving 5K/Prediction 5K at Historic St. Mary’s City, MD.

Reiville at 0530 and breakfast thru 0700. Not the healthiest pre-run breakfast ever (fried eggs, bacon, cinnamon-raisin English muffins w/grape jelly), but I had a couple of hours before the run.

At 0715 I got dressed. I broke out the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon long-sleeve tee issued to participants. It still had the two pieces of duct tape marked “SWEAR VENGEANCE” the I didn’t take off after successfully completing this year’s MCM. I wore it like that for the Leatherneck 5K and the St. Mary’s Hospice 5K as a public statement of intent that I was going to run the MCM this year, after having to back out last year due to personal and financial issues. I also broke out the Brooks running tights that I purchased at this year’s Health and Fitness Expo. I paid for them expressly for cold mornings like this, so might as well start using them.

At 0735 I hit up Uber to see if anybody was up and about, and I got a ride to St. Mary’s City by a nice young lady named Shawna. I asked her to stop at a gas station for an ATM run, just in case i didn’t have enough cash for the entry fee. The ATM was running a health check on itself when I put in my card; never seen anything like that before.

Arrived at 0800, paid for my registration, and managed to get a well-fitting size 2X long-sleeve tee. I stretched, hung out with my friend Lisa (who kindly offered me a ride home after the run), and otherwise ogled the ladies while attempting to stay warm. At 0900, I formed up with everyone on the starting line and got a couple of selfies featuring some of the other runners. Just as the command “on your mark/get set/GO” was given, I set my MapMyRun app and took off.

Despite the three week layoff and the not-ready-for-prime-time breakfast (I DID get a banana before the run, though!) I did much better than I expected. My prediction guess was for 36:00 at a 12 minute pace; I finished with a time of 31-plus minutes. MMR had me at a finishing time of 31:58, which may be about 30 due to the usual smartphone start-stop process.

The run was a lot better than I expected, but I believe today was all about having a good time and celebrating the end of a good running season. The high point of the day was having Rich and Jeannette willingly trade one of their pies with me for a cinnamon-bun candle which I “won” at the post race raffle. By the time my ticket was picked, there was precious little “booty” for adults to take home, and the candle was the best of a skimpy lot. However, they were kind enough to trade a nice cherry pie (my choice between that and an apple pie) for my candle.

The kindness of strangers…God bless y’all real good Rich and Jeanette.

I actually thought my time would be in contention for the Prediction 5k and my 40-49 age group. Unfortunately, I forgot that the time had to be within a minute of your actual prediction. beating my predicted time was a nice surprise, but I wasn’t close enough to be in the hunt. Third place in my age group finished with 29 minutes. Oh, well…maybe next year.

The weather was cold, and I was thinking of putting my long-sleeve tee under my MCM shirt before the race. However, it wasn’t an issue, and to did warm up a touch after the race was over. My newish running shoes (Asics GT-1007) got another three miles to finish with 35 for the year and they felt good. A nice pre-race stretch insured I left St. Mary’s City needing no more medical attention than a good nap.

Lisa brought me home about half an hour ago, and now I’m wrapping up this blog for another year. It’s almost noon now, and I’m done for the day…and for 2018. My God…this was a good day.

We’ll meet again…don’t know where, don’t know when.

Song of the Day: MGMT’s “Electric Feel” was on Shawna’s Sirius XM feed on the last stretch before hitting the run site. I love that song because it make you want sex. Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” was the second song I discovered from the band; the first was “Hold On.” “Woman” had future guitarist Neal Schon as part of the group; methinks Neal leaned a few things from Carlos Santana? And 97.7 The Rocket just finished up with the sweet ditty “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” That tune was written and released as a single in the 80s, but it had that classic 60s feel about it.

Time to post to Facebook and then nap time…//waves goodbye

MCM 2018: Afterburnout

Revile went at just before the 0500 alarm. After a leisurely breakfast of two English muffins with peanut butter and a tub of Chobani Black Cherry Greek yogurt (Lordy what a mouthful), I headed out the door at just after 0600. The trek from my hotel to the actual Marine Corps Marathon took about a half hour. Walked from the hotel to and through the security gates, then a visit to the portapotties, and finally what seemed to be a 1~2 mile trek to the starting corrals.

During the walk, I realized one thin: I really missed Dave, Greg, and Steve not being here this year. I’ve run races alone before, but not having the guys here hurt a bit.

My sore right thigh muscle was still an issue, so I put some Real Time cream and gave it a few minutes with the Roller last night. This morning I stretched for about 45 minutes before the opening cannon (yes, the MCM starts with a cannon being fired). I was so into stretching that I forgot to stand for the National Anthem.

I spent a lot of MCM Day reflecting on a lot of stuff (most of which I won’t go into here for personal reasons). Just before I started stretching, it finally hit me about what and why I was here, that all that running and everything connected to it was all about this day. I even welled up a little bit as the cannon went off promptly at 0755.

First eight miles: I started off behind the 5 hours 30 minutes pace group. I wanted to keep an even, steady pace because of my right thigh. However, as I progressed through the opening hills and valleys in the opening third of the course, I defaulted to my hill strategy: work the hills heads up/eyes up, and stride the downhills.

Blue mile and beyond (Miles 12 thru 19): I left it all on the road in the opening third, and boy, did I pay for it here. After I got through the Blue Mile, I got to the 14 mile marker and promptly hit the wall. The miles up to the Fourteenth Street Bridge, in my humble opt ion, are the “grinder miles,” where you finally realize that you’re running a marathon and you do the work to get to the finish. Unfortunately I never found that extra gear.

Around mile 17 I had to walk,my thighs were making noise, my hamstrings were feeling the strain, and I just couldn’t get that second wind. I was never so glad to see the Bridge; I saw the clock before the bridge and it read 12:18 p.m. and change. Hot damn, I’m gonna make it.

On the Bridge, I had to part walk, part Marine Corps shuffle it. More reflections…on my brother and sister, on absent friends, on my training this year…on everything. So much to do and so much to make right in the next few months.

I was prepared for the Maze of the Minotaur, a.k.a. the road around the Pentagon after mile 21 before entering into downtown Crystal City. Fortunately, we turned right into Crystal City and saving the run around the Pentagon for Mile 24. I always see the Mile 22-23 run into downtown as the celebration of the run; you’ve beaten the bridge, a lot of people are here to cheer you on and even offer you beer and liquor, and you get the sense that you can do this. For some weird reason, Crystal City was a lot quieter this year. Not as big of a crowd, although the offers of alcohol were there (beer, wine, jello shots and fireball shots).

The final two miles and change I found enough pride and a bit of a second wind to finish running. This was no epic day by any means, but it was a nice jolt to hear the announcer call my name in the final stretch to the finish line.

The People’s Marathon: it’s the little things, y’all.

I was done. Collected my nice bright red medal that opened up to reveal a gold piece (Transformers: The Movie:”Now…light our darkest hour!“), got the healthy snack basket, Gatorade and two bananas, collected my complimentary finisher’s beer…and staggered back to the hotel.

Postscript on the hotel: I never found roommates for this weekend, but Residence Inn did have a smaller room available that was about $700 less. In theory, I should have found another, cheaper hotel, especially since I am a Hilton Honors member. That being said, in  my condition I was grateful to only climb a flight of stairs and walk about a half block to the hotel. Stagger to the shuttles for a half-hour ride on the DC MetroRail? Yeah…no.

Medical notes: Note to self: clip your toenails before long runs.

That KT Tape was a good idea: maybe I should apply it to my calves and thighs before 20-miles or longer?

Add pickle juice to your Mio water, so you have some salt to help prevent The Revolt of the Thighs.

BTW: Take a look at the course layout (to include inclines/declines) to better map out your running strategy.

Final time: 5:45.53, 13:12 pace. How I got that time after the day I had…never mind, I’ll take it.

Song of the Day: I have a feeling “Happy”/Pharrell Williams is a duplicate pick, but I heard this song as I was heading on the out-path from Crystal City. I sat through ONE hour of his “24 Hours of Happy.” Assuming Pharrell assembled some real talented dancers, I’m not sure I’d binge watch this for any extended length of time.

“Hurts So Good”/John Cougar Mellencamp: So early MTV 80s but so appropriate for a day like today. Especially when you’re collecting your medal and the post-race goodies/swag afterwards. Yes, I know it’s basically BDSM (google it, don’t ask me).

“Alive”/Pearl Jam. Never mind the subject matter of this classic song, that’s how I felt after finishing the MCM.

“Wish You Were Here”/Pink Floyd. Not the happiest Pink Floyd song ever (much like the album), but like I said: this morning was when it hit me how much I missed being with the guys.

Postscript: With the exception of the St. Mary’s City Turkey Trot the Saturday before Thanksgiving, I am done running for 2018. I am taking the week off before doing some half-assed training for the Turkey Trot.

As for this here blog? Tomorrow will be my last official entry for 2018, and then it goes dark until next spring. I may stop in to bitch about things of a sports or political nature, but life really is calling me right now.

MCM 2018/T-minus 57:Darkness

No moon, full or otherwise this morning as I started my run. There was a fair amount of cloud cover with the occasional lightning, but no thunderstorms and no rain. Not even that much humidity. But darkness all the same.

The southern end of Willow Road has been built up considerably over the last five years, so there were more street lights and house lights than when i started running long ago. But when there was no street lighting it was dark. I don’t think there was any kind of daylight until about six o’clock.

That being said, it was a good run. Run prep was a breakfast of toasted English muffin with peanut butter and a Chobani black cherry yogurt. I got my Nuun 16 oz. water but didn’t have to take too much of a dump. It took a while to adjust my Mio water bottle, my smartphone, and my FlipBelt, but I got underway about 5:05.

The first two miles were the usual incline/decline/banked incline, and then it was pretty much flat from HWY-5 through Park Hill Road. Just before turning on to Three Notch Road/HWY-235, I took a pee break when my MapMyRun app announced I was at the four-mile mark.

Three Notch Road was a steady, gradual incline for about a mile or so, then it flattened out before a sharp dip just before the turn at Three Notch and Great Mills Road. From there, just outside NAS Gate 2, it was the standard finish ofGreat Mills to Willow/Shangri-La, then the last mile plus up Willow and ending at Abberly Crest.

My wristwatch read 1:59.14, and MMR read 2:00.47. Counting 45 seconds off for starting the app, then putting it in my FlipBelt, I did the run at around 2:00 even, for a twelve minute pace. I was hoping for an 11:30 or so, but it’s still a Beat the Bridge pace and i believe it will be a little faster come Marine Corps Marathon day.

I would have liked to sleep in for today, so I could make the drive to Greenbelt, MD for the Larry Noel 15K. The shortened distance could have been easily made up by the challenge of the steep hills (especially the character building, damn near vertical half mile uphill near the end), and I could have used the experience of running with, and eventually behind, a crowd. Thing is, money is kinda tight right now and I still have to look for accommodations for the MCM. Setting across the “sea of faces”, a.k.a running road races, will have to be a case by case basis for now.

For now, the running is good. It’s those other nagging little things called life that I have to address…

Song of the Day: Today’s selections courtesy of WMDM, 97.7 The Rocket out of Mechanicsville, MD.  I got out bed to “Hush” by Deep Purple, and came home to “Flirting’ With Disaster” by Molly Hatchet, followed by “What I Like About You” by the Romantics. Of all the radio stations that I can pick up on my 23-year old boom box (complete with burned out CD laser), The Rocket is the only station that I can consistently put up with. I can’t really name all the disc jockeys/hosts the station has, and none of them actually play the songs. That job is reserved for the program manager. I don’t know who this morning’s PM is, but he or she is on fire this morning. Just got done with “Baba O’Reilly” by the Who and is playing “No-one Like You” by the Scorpions as I am wrapping up this entry.