Tag Archives: anniversary

Ten Years of Racing!: A Celebration, and a Lesson Learned

Last Saturday’s Holiday Hustle in Dexter – a fun and otherwise ordinary end-of-season 5K – was memorable for me. Ten years ago, the 2008 Holiday Hustle was my first-ever official race.

That’s right! A dedicated non-runner until my mid-forties, I’d begun with just a few short runs here and there to supplement bike rides and Aikido training. Then, finding out about the Holiday Hustle just a few miles from my house, I said what the hell and signed up.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Last Saturday I joined the crowd in the starting queue with over a hundred races to my name, from 5Ks to marathons and beyond, including two 100-milers and my (current) longest distance of 150 miles, accomplished last June at the Veterans Memorial. Had anyone predicted this back then, I’d have laughed and said they definitely had the wrong guy. Well, you know what they say about truth and fiction.

So there was definitely something to celebrate and enjoy about this year’s race, and I did, although like any 5K I run, it was a sufferfest for all 3.1 miles. I finished in just under 21 minutes, and claimed second in my age group. On paper, a good solid result, especially because I went right back to work heading up the event’s Zero Waste team. No sense going all out and killing myself over this race, right?

“Santa, I want a worm composting bin for Christmas!”

Except that’s not how I felt.

I wasn’t expecting a PR (personal record) because I’ve trained this year mostly for ultramarathons, and not for short races. And given I set a PR for the 50-mile distance, and got two podium finishes, including a win, I have zero complaints about that.

Third at the Dogwood 12-Hour race in March

1st at the Veterans Memorial 150 in June.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But at any race, competitive runners (at any level) should give themselves the best chance to do well, whatever that means that day. And I didn’t do that at the Holiday Hustle.

How so? First, I didn’t warm up thoroughly, contenting myself with a quick half-mile jog followed by a few strides. To best prepare my body to run hard on a cold day, I should have run at least a mile easy, coupled with dynamic stretches to get fully loose. And I should have lined up much closer to the start than I did, because I knew I’d be weaving around other runners for the first half mile otherwise.

Why did I sabotage my chance at my best effort? I’m really not sure. Perhaps subconsciously I wanted to give myself an “out” if I didn’t run up to my expectations. Which, as I well know after all these races, doesn’t work anyway. Compounding a poor run with poor preparation, or lackadaisical attitude,  doesn’t help. So much better to think, “I didn’t meet my goal, but I gave it my best shot. And that’s all I can ask!”

I can’t do anything to change the result, of course. All I can do is change my attitude going forward. Even a fun holiday race is still a race, and there’s part of me that wants to do it well. So – chalk up a lesson learned. And, Lord willing, there will be plenty more chances to apply it. Ten years is just the start of what I hope are many, many more years of running adventures. And I’ll be sure to share them with you right here. Thanks, as always, for reading!

 

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Fail at Hightail, and This Must Be Love

What one thing did I do last Friday night that caused these reactions? See if you can guess.

Race director: “Oh, shit.”

Wife: “Do you want some company?”

Daughter: “Oh, Daaaaad!!!”

Daughter’s fiancee: “Do you have any pictures?”

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Give up? Here’s a hint: For the next week or so, y’all can just call me Lefty.

Yes, I managed to do quite a number on myself at the Hightail to Ale 5K in Detroit Friday night. And I hadn’t even had a beer.

The Hightail to Ale is an RF Events race near the Atwater Brewery in Detroit. It’s been described as a beer party with a 5K thrown in. And if you ever wanted proof that “free beer” is a guaranteed draw, check out this photo of just one wave of the runners who showed up.

Hightail 2016 - Wave Start

I was serving as captain of the Zero Waste team, our new initiative for diverting as much waste as possible away from the landfill. I had a particular motivation for doing ZW at this event; last year the few recycle stations had overflowed and I wound up dragging many bags filled with cans and bottles to the trash dumpster.

Last year - good try, but too few and unmanned.

Last year – good try, but too few and unmanned.

That turned out to be of my motivations for starting the ZW program, so we’d come full circle. Now we had ten Zero Hero tents and a staff of volunteers to change the bags out, sort them, and make sure all the recyclables got recycled.

This year: more stations, checked regularly.

This year: more stations, checked regularly.

Along with the free can of beer at the finish (for those of legal age), Atwater was also selling beer like – well, like cold beer on a warm night – and our Zero Hero tents were soon filling up with empties. We stacked the full bags near the dumpster for final sort and weighing before tossing them in.

Final sort before tossing in the dumpster.

Final sort. Note the dumpster is over the fence; this would have serious unintended consequences. (Although added stupidity was needed.)

As the party began to wind down, I observed that some bags of recyclables were being tossed into the dumpster before they were weighed. I walked around the block to access the dumpster (on the other side of this fence) and climbed in to get an estimate of how much was in there.

Seeing that unclosed bags had spilled cans and bottles all over, I decided to forego trying to weigh it. We’d rely on the report from our hauler instead. That wise decision having been made, I made up for it with a bad one.

The main area was just over the chain-link fence. It would be so much quicker to just jump over that fence instead of walking around the block again! The temptation was too much. I put one hand on the top fence rail to steady myself, and kicked myself over.

Sure, anyone could jump that fence from the dumpster. Right?

Sure, anyone could jump that fence from the dumpster. Right?

As I landed on the other side I knew something really bad had happened. My right wrist had caught on the open wire at the top of the fence, and I had a deep gash in it several inches long and bleeding profusely. I clamped my other hand hard over it and walked to the volunteer area. The first-aid truck had just left, of course, so someone called 911.

By the time the ambulance arrived the bleeding had nearly stopped but they confirmed I’d need stitches. I opted for U-M Hospital in Ann Arbor instead of a Detroit hospital, and the race director, after his initial reaction, drove me there. I arrived at 10 p.m. and got through initial triage fairly quickly. However, all the residents were tied up with major trauma cases so I wound up sitting on a hallway gurney most of the night waiting “to get picked up” (hey, that’s the official term).

My wife texted me several times while I waited, wondering if I’d like some company. Finally it got into my thick head that she actually wanted to get out of her warm bed in the middle of the night to sit with her wounded mate. She arrived around 1:30. I was finally stitched up (13 total) and released at 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning.

And that’s how we spent the first few hours of our 33rd anniversary.

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Followup: I am mending well, and while I cancelled my gym sessions for the week, I’m running and cycling to prep for the Glacier Ridge Trail 50 this weekend.

I also owe another shout-out to the Zero Waste crew and the other Hightail volunteers who made sure the tents all got packed up and the remaining waste put where it belonged. You rock, everybody!

And finally: My wife told our daughter in Richmond what had happened during a phone call on Sunday. Her reaction was predictable. Her fiancee, a medical technician, was the one who asked for photos (professional interest). Whether I sent her any or not I won’t divulge here. But I won’t subject my readers to any. (You’re welcome.)

DXA2 and Me: Five Years and Still an Item!

Recently I celebrated a special anniversary. Five years ago I ran my first half marathon – the 2010 Dexter-Ann Arbor Run. I’ve run many more since then, on roads and trails, but that first one will always be memorable to me.

Dark, heavy clouds were overhead that day and a storm had knocked a tree down onto the road, delaying the start. But then we were off through downtown Dexter and a crowd of spectators, followed by ten scenic miles along the Huron River and onto Main Street in Ann Arbor, with a soul-sucking uphill climb to the finish line. And I found out what happens to nipples that don’t get taped. (It’s not pretty.)

I was hooked, and I’ve run it every year since. Who says men can’t commit?

Yep, last year was hot.

Yep, last year was hot.

Last year’s race was particularly nasty. It was hot, and the long hard winter meant many people hadn’t acclimated yet. I heard later that several runners passed out. The heat along with a poor hydration strategy caught up with me at mile 8 and ended my streak of faster finish times.

This year I vowed to be better prepared. I hydrated early and brought a handheld water bottle so I wouldn’t be dependent on the aid stations. And with my training runs in Costa Rica this spring, I felt acclimated. Bring on the 85 degrees and broiling sun. I wuz ready!

DXA2 2015 - Starting Line

Obviously, Nature had other plans.

Weather Underground had originally forecast rain on Saturday, with race day fairly clear and warmer. Then it changed its mind and moved the rain to Sunday, with temps around 50. I got an email from the race director – lightning might delay the start, but the race was on!

I wore my triathlon outfit, which is proving more and more versatile. As it’s designed to shed water and dry quickly, it was perfect for the rain. I was wringing water out of my shirt, but the singlet and shorts kept me reasonably dry and warm. For shoes I wore my Kinvara RunShields, which are designed for inclement weather. My feet got wet, of course, but there was no squishing or waterlogged feeling.

Another great boost - the PR Fitness aid station at mile 6. Thanks again!

Another great boost – the PR Fitness aid station at mile 6. Gatorade and friendly faces – what more could you ask for?

I left the handheld behind. With the rain and cool temps I would have no hydration issues. And I ditched the poncho at mile 4, deciding it was better to embrace the rain than fight it. As I’ve said before, one can only get so wet.

My strategy was to stick with the 1:35 pacer, my goal being any time better than that. All went well until mile 8 when despite a double knot, my right shoe came untied. With five miles to go at a strong pace, there was nothing for it but to stop and tie it, my target group disappearing down the road.

I tried but failed to channel my inner Denard.

I tried but failed to channel my inner Denard.

Not again, I thought. And I decided right then that it would not be “not again”. I stepped it up and ran through the next aid station instead of grabbing a drink. Thanks to the rain, I could afford it. Within a half mile I spotted the 1:35 sign again and in another half mile I’d caught up. Around mile 10 I went ahead of them, this time for good.

DXA2 2015 - Finish Area with PacerThe final climb on Main Street was still rough, and I came the closest I’ve ever come to tossing my cookies. But seeing “1:34” on the finish line clock gave me a boost, and I finished in 1:34:39. A new best time for me on that course. Hard to be annoyed at the rain when it does that for you!

Hard to believe it’s been five years since that first half marathon. And next year will be five years since my first full marathon! Like they say, you never forget that first one. And – oops, gotta go. My wife is walking toward me holding a rolling pin. She must want to make me cookies!