Friday, November 26, 2010

Just a half a mile from the railroad track

As runners across the country know, Thanksgiving is about more than just eating and wearing pants with elastic waist bands. Thanksgiving is about Turkey Trots (not to be confused with runner's trots which may or may not occur during said turkey trots). This year in the Bronx, a new tradition was started with The Thanksgiving Marathon. This is a different kind of turkey trot. For one, it's a marathon. Or a half. Or a long 10k (6.5 miles to be exact). Another thing that sets it apart is it's free. No clocks. No bibs. No tshirts. No qualifying times. Pretty much, you show up and you run. When you finish you get a fork on a ribbon with "Thanksgiving 10k (or what ever distance)" written in sharpie on the fork.
I love this. I love this idea. In an age where races are trying to be bigger and bigger and more and more expensive and closing with in minutes of opening up to a year before the event, it's awesome to show up, run as far as you feel like running, have someone put a fork around your neck when you finish, write your results in a notebook (yes, that is the official time keeping device), stuff a few bucks in a paper bag left by said notebook to cover costs, eat a banana, see familiar faces, and just have a good time.
The organizers of this race laid out a great course. While I run in Van Cortlandt park a lot, they went of the beaten paths to come up with their 6.5 mile loop. It was on a several trails I had never been on, a nice mix of hills and flats, and over all beautiful. A nice change form the usually courses up in the park.
Since this was a rather casual affair, I emailed the race director to see if my dog Bea could run the race. He replied very quickly saying yes, dogs were allowed on the trails and she was welcome to run.
WOOHOO! Bea's first race! We've been running with her since she's come to live with us and this fall we've been building her milage. She was easily running a little over 5 miles so I didn't think one loop of the course would be a stretch. The weather was cool, which is to her liking.
Loren and I wanted to make sure she wouldn't annoy other runners. There were also 2 other dogs running, one the half and one the 10k. I wasn't sure how she would be with the other dogs, it can be hit or miss. She spent the first half of the race trying to catch a female pittbull. When she finally did catch her (and left me in the dust) she just wanted to run with her. They ran the last 2 miles with each other. Being the loyal companion she is, with about a quarter mile to go, she waited for me. She had a great time, finishing the course in about 58 minutes. She even got a fork.

I'm really looking forward to more of these free, laid back "races", though I think I'll be skipping the 100 miles around the Central Park Res.
Post run family photo

more race picture here

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Ok, not so much the heart, more like the tip of the ear of Texas. For Loren's birthday, we went to do the high point of Texas, Guadalupe Peak. We've been eying this one for a while. I don't know why, something about it seemed very interesting. It's very remote, one of the remotest National Parks. Guadalupe National Park is desert, with a big mountain. About 300 million years ago, it was under an ocean so the peak itself and El Capitan, a weird odd shape mountain across from the high point were once part of a huge reef. All these millions of years later, it still has an ocean feel to it, even the desert scrub seems like sea weed.
The summers are very very hot and subject to very high winds and thunderstorms roll in quickly. Fall seemed like the perfect time to go. Little did we know it was also when leaf peepers went. Ok, I fully admit as an East Coaster, this idea seemed silly to me. There are a handful of trees out there that turn and while yes, they are beautiful, it's just so...ok, I sound like an East coast snob. I'll just keep it at yes, they're beautiful and pretty cool to see in the desert.
We flew into El Paso on Friday, found the divest Mexican place we could find for lunch (amazing), loaded up on supplies and headed out. We got extremely lucky with the camp site. As I said, I had no idea it would be packed. There is 1 campground in the park (car camping that is, there are several back country camp grounds, but no water anywhere so schlepping in several gallons of water was not in the cards for this trip). Wally, the camp ground host, directed us to the last camp site in the park, a handicap accessible site a mile down the road from the main camp ground. It was nice enough, elevated so someone in a wheel chair could use the site pretty easily. There was one site next to us that was being used by 3 folks from a NM meet up hiking group. The 5 of us swapped stories and shared the picnic table.
Sat. morning we woke to a hard frost on our tent. One of the difficult things about fall/winter camping is the lack of sunlight. It's a lot of time staying warm and time in the tent. We made breakfast and got an early start up the trail. Guadalupe is a 8.4 hike that gains 3000'. We caught a beautiful windless day with lots of people on the trail. It was a truly beautiful day. Photos can be seen here (the last 25 or so). There are other pictures of the trip here.
Later that day, we did the Smith Spring trail as well.
Sunday we drove up to Carlsbad Caverns to see the largest cave in North America. There are trails in the cave that allow you to walk several miles through the cave. It's pretty cool.
We then drove to McKittick Canyon. This is a 6.8 mile hike, we decided to run it. It was a fairly flat though slightly rocky trail. By people's reactions to us, you'd think they never in their lives saw anyone running. The day was beautiful and this is rated "moderate" hike so the trail was packed with people. We had people laugh, call us tough, call us crazy, one guy offer us his water bottle. I really enjoyed seeing people's reactions to something that is so normal for me to be doing.
It was also Loren's birthday. Here are some pictures from the run.

So yes, I have been running! Not too much, mostly with the dog, but I am starting to ramp back up. My body has really needed this cut back. Ha, cut back. Cut back from running. Over the last few months, I've hiked over 100 miles and gone up and down about 40,000'. Even if my running milage is low this year (it will be) that counts for something! I'm looking forward to the winter ramp up and starting to train for Boston.

Monday, November 8, 2010

new york NEW YORK!

Well another NYC marathon has come and gone. I didn't run this year as I really needed a marathon cycle off to let myself (hopefully) get healthy before starting to train for Boston. As I do every year I don't run, I worked the mile 24 waterstation. This leaves me only slightly less tired than if I had actually run.
It was a great day yesterday. A day that saw the world record holder haile gebrselassie drop out and announce his retirement and new comer Shalane Flanagan finish her first marathon in 2nd place.
I also witnessed some amazing things by my friends and running partners. In no particular order:
1. Jill PRing by almost an hour.
2. Mariella, Scoops, Amy, and Annie finish their first marathon.
3. Cenk with crying face at mile 24 on his way to a PR.
4. Melissa mother of 2 year old triplets (yes I said triplets!) stop to kiss her babies.
5. Sharon stop to kiss me (well hello there )
6. Les yelling "call me a P***Y!"
7. Dr Mick giving mouth to mouth at the finish line and saving some one's life AFTER running the marathon.
8.. Sandi screaming, busting into tears, hugging me all in one motion when I told her how well Rayk ran (all while running).
9. Megan PRing and BQing.
10. Ok, I admit, this may be my favorite thing about yesterday. My training pal who helped me so much to BQ FINALLY qualifying for Boston. And doing it on her Birthday. And running a huge PR. Congrats RayK on the race of a lifetime, totally proud of you!

With that, I'm excited to start getting ready for Boston. So long run crew, I hope you're ready to log some miles this winter!