Monday, April 24, 2006

Backyard Burn Spring Series Race #3 - Hemlock Overlook

My first trail run and it was awesome. I had no idea what to expect, but it was a really amazing and invigorating experience. I was concerned about the conditions of the trail considering all of the rain we've had, but I wasn't as affected by it as I thought I'd be. It was a field of 300 runners or so, broken evenly between the 5 and the 10 mile races. Neither race was the distance they advertised, partly because they had to change the race routes in the morning due to flooding. I believe that the 5 mile race, which I ran, turned out to be about 4.5 miles or so. They made an announcement with the distance at the beginning, but I don't remember exactly what was said. 4.5 or 4.6 or 4.8...something like that. The 10 miler was less than 9 miles, but I don't think anyone complained considering the number of hills and the degree of inclines. Regardless, Jon would have found it very irritating and chalked it up to funny Virginia math and our inability to measure stuff. I started too far back and I think I could have run a faster race had I not gotten stuck behind people at a number of different points. This wasn't like other races in that there was almost no room to pass people for most of the course. Single track racing along streams and through the woods really means that the trail is only wide enough for one runner at a time. Also, when one person gets stuck on some rocks or climbing a hill, everyone behind them has to slow down and walk. This happened two or three times, causing a number of people around me to grumble.

I ran pretty hard when I could, but the difficult part was jumping over logs, running up and down steps, trying not to slip on rocks and wood, etc. I did a decent job of jumping over stuff, staying off the wet rocks and not getting too bogged down in the mud. There was a moment or two when I thought that the spot I was about to plant my foot was going to be a problem, but I got lucky and never lost my footing. I know that I could not have made it up the sides of those hills and through some of the creek and stream beds as quickly if I didn't have the extra traction. I was moving pretty quickly when I came to a plank-covered walkway that was pretty slick. It felt like I was in a controlled slide instead of really running at that point. And, I probably got close to losing it and taking the person behind me down too on more than one occasion, but forward momentum saved me. That, and I grabbed a few tree branches when I ran some turns.

It was a much more exhausting race than any I've done before. I was panting heavily on the hills and I think I spooked a few people as I came up on them from behind. What can you do...I didn't mean to come off like some trail running pervert. You have to pay careful attention to the ground right in front of you, which means you don't get to zone out and relax. And, while you are mostly running forward, you spend a lot of time zigzagging, hopping, and jumping in all sorts of directions. Plus, the hills in this race were the steepest hills I've ever run by far, to the point where you are basically running in a switchback fashion up and down the sides of the valley.

The race wasn't as professionally organized as some other races I've done. No ChampionChip at all, so no ability to get a net time. Most of the course was marked with plastic tape and ribbons, so if there hadn't always been a runner within sight of me, I would have definitely gotten lost. They started late, but that was due to rerouting the race. The food was kind of weak, I thought, but they gave out the coolest t-shirt yet. I appreciated that they had hot pizza, which is a change, but the bagels looked like frozen ones that had been thawed out. Despite all of this, I think the organizers, EX2 Adventures, made it a really fun event.

All in all, I would definitely do it again. In fact, I am thinking about signing up for the Backyard Burn Fall Series now. I don't know if I can handle a full 10 miles in the woods yet, though.

Backyard Burn Spring Series Race #3 - 5 miles

Hemlock Overlook, Clifton, VA
April 23, 2006, 9:00 am

Time: 39:45 (Gun Time)
Pace: 8:50 (unsure of exact distance)
Overall Place: 40/120
Age Place: 20/32 (I guess guys in their 30s are just damn fast on the trails)

List of Results

Friday, April 21, 2006

Correcting the Ads

Shoes, shoes, running, running. I just don't want the ads to go back to crap about colons and whatnot. I know that some think this thing should be renamed to "Dave's Extra Boring Blog", but those people should know that I am giving them the finger right now.

Post-procedure report

So, good news is that I don't have colitis any longer. It was just an acute bout, most likely brought on by a stomach bug that I caught from Noah (goddamn kids...nothing but disease carriers). Maybe we should change Noah's middle name to Pestilence. They did find two polyps, though, so I need to make one more visit to the gastroenterologist. Chances are that it is nothing at all, and even is if it is something...there is no automatic link between polyps and cancer. But, as I am finding out, there is family history with GI problems, like Crohn's Disease, and intestinal cancer. So, I'll just have to stay in good health and get checked out regularly.

The best part of the whole experience was the anesthetic they gave me. I have no idea what it is called, but it metabolizes quickly. So, they put you out, do a quick procedure, and you are waking up in the recovery room in no time at all. I don't think it was even 30 minutes from when they wheeled me into the operating room to when I started to wake up. The stuff worked very, very fast. I felt a sensation of cold going up my arm from the saline wash that you get first. I turned to the anesthesiologist and asked if the stuff was going in. It hadn't started yet, but she showed me a syringe with some opaque white liquid. I didn't even notice that she had injected it into the IV feed, but I was suddenly overcome with a very strong lightheadedness, to which I remember saying something like "Oh, I guess this is it". Next thing I know, a nurse is asking me my name and I'm coming to in the recovery room. She asks me if I prefer Dave or David and I respond with "My mother calls me David...or Audrey when she's mad at me". Mind you, I have not regained full control of myself yet, so the filters that are normally in place have not been reestablished. I was talking loudly, at least that is what Audrey says, and I was being rather wacky. I think I was talking to Audrey when I said "I wanted to say that my name is Assface...and that feces shoots out of my mouth when I sing". Yeah, that sounds nuts. It is something I picked up from an SNL skit a few years ago when Jon Stewart was the host.

In any case, getting sick can be fun.

Something is wrong with Blogger

I posted a quick health update, but that post seemed to wipe out the post about self-identification. Now, the older post is back and the new one has disappeared. I can't figure this nonsense out.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Self-identifying by way of other people's words...

On my way into work this morning, I saw someone with the vanity plate "1JOHN 4 9". I assume this is a biblical reference, but I have no idea what John 4:9 says and I don't plan on looking it up. What I do know is that it seems rather trite to pick one chunk out of the entire Bible and slap it on your car as a way of exclaiming who you are or what you believe in. It got me to thinking about all the other oversimplified ways that people employ to identify themselves. You know, people who stick an Apple decal on their car or an NRA symbol or who fly the confederate flag. People seem so quick to associate themselves with these things and to self-label. Maybe this just makes it easier for us all to communicate with each other and to seek out like-minded individuals, but I think that it is mostly just a cop-out. I've had too many experiences in which a person is not what they seem or is much more than I assumed they might be based on these initial signs and labels. It got me to thinking about what basic labels I might slap on myself and how they might inform a stranger of who I am, or who I think I am. I am a...

First-born son and grandson, who is the oldest brother of three siblings...
Husband of a wonderful woman and father to a two year old boy...
Project manager at a technology firm...
Homeowner in the suburbs outside DC...
Owner and operator of both a Volvo stationwagon and a Toyota Prius...
Newly addicted runner...

But, frankly, does this really tell you who I am? Does it tell you what kind of movies I like or music I want to listen to? Does it tell you whether I vote or not or which party I might choose? Does it give you any real sense of my core values and whether or not I might be someone you would want to associate with?

Maybe. I mean, if you are a single city dweller and a culture snob, you can probably tell that I am not going to be someone who will share your interests. But, if you have young kids and are a devoted family guy, we might have something to talk about. If you like to run or you work in tech and own a hybrid, we might be friends (although, too many tech workers who drive hybrids are total dorks...I have no desire to hang out with them). Can we boil ourselves down to just a few words and still give people a good idea of who we are?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Shoes & News

Whole bunch of stuff to post, but it may not make it all into this. The simple stuff first...I got the Asics Gel-Trabucos yesterday. The whole Zappos thing worked out and UPS got them to me on time. They look very outdoorsy, which is not a requirement for me, but it is appreciated. Traditional road running shoes have certain looks and trail runners do as well. This is definitely a trail runner and I like it. They felt funny at first, but I kept them on last night just to break them in a bit and the fit was much nicer at the end. They have a lot of adjustment built in, so I will have to play around with the lacing to figure out how best to adjust the heel as well as tie them comfortably.
The one thing that burns me, though, is that I saw these shoes at DSW for $80 yesterday. They had a different color, one which I prefer, but they didn't have my size. 10, 11, 12.5! So, I basically paid $13 more to get my size and to have access to an unlimited return policy. Doesn't seem worth it in the end, but that could turn out to be wrong. Besides, I can always go back to DSW, buy the shoes there if they do get my size, and return the first pair to Zappos.

I had planned on getting up this morning to run in them, but I didn't make it out of bed in time. So, I guess I'll just have to run tonight. A shorter run on a mostly paved surface, but I'll hit the grass and dirt as much as I can. To really get my feet wet (no pun intended), I signed up for the last race in the Backyard Burn series put on by EX2 Adventures. I'm doing the 5 mile trail run so that I can get a sense for how a trail running race works, to get some real time on a trail, and to further get used to the new shoes. I am pretty excited about this race, actually. I think it will be a heck of a lot of fun and it isn't that far from my house. In fact, on a good day, I could run to the race start, run the trail itself, and then consider running back home.

Got a few other running items recently too. I picked up a 4 bottle Fuel Belt, which I think is the Terminator model (or something wacky and aggressive sounding like that). Actually, I think it is called the Endurance model, which makes no sense since "endurance" suggests a long run and this is only the half-way point in their product line. You can get six bottles, eight bottles, and bigger bottles for your belt, which would all help out on a very long run.

I also got a second part of decent running shorts at the Reebok outlet. Nothing fancy, but something that will work well this summer.

I am just really excited to be running again after this nonsense with my health. I feel good, initial report from the doctor is that I am fine, and I am back on the path. Anybody wanna race?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Shoes Update...As If You Care

I mean, really, new shoe purchases are not that exciting...except maybe to the person doing the purchasing. So, I looked and looked and looked and couldn't find a single decent pair of trail runners in a store anywhere. After striking out at Metro Run & Walk, I checked out LL Bean and the New Balance store here in Tysons Corner. The Bean had nothing, but New Balance did have most of its line of trail runners in stock. I tried a few on, but I wasn't happy with the fit and sizing. They seem to have a bunch of trail runners for neutral runners and then one or two high end styles for "heavy" runners - big dudes with big arches, basically. Way more shoe than I need. I don't want to drag more weight around on my feet than necessary, nor do I want too much stuff built onto the shoe. I am really just looking for a good tread, a decent toe guard, a fit similar to my road runners, and a style that isn't too weird or garish looking. Some trail runners are really cool, like the Keen Ochoco, but they are expensive and not fully proven in the market yet. I am of the opinion that running companies know more about making a running shoe than do outdoor companies, so a trail runner from Asics or Adidas should be a better option for me than one from Merrell or Keen or NorthFace. Those companies can stick to making wacky sandals and funky hiking shoes and leave the running stuff to the folks who have spent decades working with runners of all shapes and sizes. Do I sound like some sort of running snob here? Maybe I am, but I also find it silly that the wackier, more expensive shoes come from companies that aren't as affiliated with running, suggesting that you aren't paying for experience or actual shoe capability. I think it probably relates back to my Nalgene gripe - these "fancy" shoes are made for folks who just want to look cool as they walk around the rest stops along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park

I also went to REI to check things out and was disappointed by them as well. More fancy trail runners there too. Dick's Sporting Goods had some as well, but not the two I have been looking for. So, in the end, I decided to order a pair of Asics Gel-Trabuco's from Zappos. They are more expensive by $8-9 bucks than RoadRunner Sports, but Zappos return policy is awesome. I am buying shoes over the internet that I have never tried on. If they suck, Zappos will let me send them back with no problem. RRS will only let me do that if I plunk down $40 and join their club first. Then, I have to buy a bunch of other crap throughout the year to make up that $40 in savings and free shipping.

I've gotten back on the road this week, running twice on my usual routes. It has a made a world of difference in my mood and I feel totally energized again. Best part is that I seem faster (from the weight loss, maybe) and all of the cranky aches and pains are gone. I think the time off helped me heal up and might have been the best thing for me. I'm going to do a slow 10 miles tomorrow and then a short recovery run on Sunday, maybe 3-4 miles. I want to get back to 4 runs a week, if I can. It is the only reasonable way to continue building mileage without stressing my joints with really long runs. My general plan has been three runs a week, two of them 5-6 miles long and then a third on Saturday mornings that is 10+. I want to transition to four runs, with a more staggered approach through the week and a long run that isn't more than 30% or so of my total weekly mileage. So, to start off, I think that a 4/6/6/12 is a good target. Not the exact ratio I want, but it will get my on the right path.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Need New Running Gear...Advice?

I am in the market for two things in particular: a pair of trail runners and some hydration system for long runs. I am looking at the Adidas Supernova Trails and the Asics Gel-Trabucos, both of which seem to be well regarded trail runners. I am intrigued by the stuff from Merrell and Keen, but I wonder if they are well versed enough in the construction of running shoes to be able to make good ones. I am sure they are both great at making hiking and walking shoes, but running is a different matter and I don't need to be dropping a Benjamin on something that hurts my feet after 5 or 6 miles. What stinks is that no stores in my area carry trail runners. My local running store has nothing. I checked out Metro Run & Walk yesterday and they have decided to stop carrying them as well, having marked down the few they have in stock. I tried on a pair of Brooks Cascadias, but they aren't stability runners and the color is frightening. So, my last real shot is at the outdoorsy type stores, like REI and Hudson Trail Outfitters. REI claims to have a bunch of this stuff at their local store, but I think that they may only really carry the wacky brands and not the Adidas and Asics, which I would prefer. I could order shoes online, but I am still trying to balance out price and return policy. RoadRunner Sports has great shoe prices, but the only way to return them if they don't fit and feel right is if I join their club. Zappos might have a great return policy, but the shoes will definitely cost more.

Drug-free, for the moment

I felt like crap yesterday. I had just gotten sick of taking antibiotics and eating simple, bland foods. I felt totally depressed, in a way I hadn't felt in a long time. I wasn't myself at all. Thankfully, the drugs are all done and I don't have a nasty taste in my mouth all the time. And, I went for a run last night, which made all the difference in the world. I ran a fast 5 miles or so. It was great to be outside and to be moving.

I think things are back on track and that I won't have any problem making the half-marathon in May. I am signing up for the Lawyers Have Heart 5k, which benefits the American Heart Association. Despite this fundraiser, I don't think most lawyers actually give a crap about anyone and that they only do this to try and rub a little sunshine onto their image. Frankly, I expect most of the lawyers that run to be doing it as a way to either show off in front of their colleagues or because they feel like they have to do it to score points with other members of their firm. I am doing it because my sister, a budding lawyer, was invited as part of her firm to participate and she invited me to do it with her.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Health Update

Feeling better, but not 100%. The antibiotics I'm on seem to be messing with me a bit. I'm tired, spacy, and not just myself energy-wise. One of them, the one I take 4 times a day, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Thankfully, I am finished with all this crap tomorrow. I just hope things return to normal after that. I also probably need to start eating my normal diet again, but the doctor said I need to chill out until after the procedure next week.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Itis

Colitis, for the moment. That is what the attending doctor in the ER the other morning said that I have. You say, Dave...what are you talking about? Right, well, here is the story.

Let me start where I think the trouble began. Saturday night, I had some intestinal discomfort. That is the polite way of saying diarrhea, man. In any case, considering that Noah had been sick recently with a stomach bug, including vomiting and lots of diarrhea, I figured that I just caught something from him. I was happy I wasn't laid out in bed, feverish, or crapping myself til my butt was sore. In any case, it didn't seem like that big a deal and didn't stop me from enjoying my evening. I can't remember what we did and whether I actually enjoyed myself or not, but I know that I probably ate a piece of Audrey's sweet ass German Chocolate Chip Cake (New title for that dish is now Audrey's Sweet Ass Choco-Chip Kraut Cake) and had plenty of strawberries. Note the strawberries, as I think they play an integral part in this story. I went to bed, looking forward to the following morning's road race.

Sunday morning was quiet on the gastro-intestinal front, which was fine considering that I was going to be running 10 miles and didn't want to be the first person I know to crap themselves while running. I had some water, some coffee (not even a full cup), and a Balance bar. I felt fine through the race and right afterwards as well. As I walked around the Tidal Basin post-race, I did feel some typical diarrhea cramps again. I had already had a bottle of water, but I held off on eating the banana or on grabbing a muffin since I figured that eating would only stimulate things and make me have to go to the bathroom. My main concerns were having to do my business at a Port-a-John or dealing with the issue during the somewhat complicated trip back home. In any case, neither happened and I made it home without incident. But, that is when the fun really began.

I spent Sunday afternoon grappling with what seemed to be terrible gas pain. Audrey and I thought it might have been due to some dehydration or something, so she made me drink Pedialyte. Yuck. Not longer after she convinced me to drink it, she went to the gym and my stomach convinced itself to get rid of it. I spent the afternoon in pain, waiting for something to happen and nothing ever did. The pain subsided and we made it to Lakeside Park for some jungle gym time. Then, we headed over to Red Robin where Audrey and I shared the Fiesta Fajita Pollo Salad and the Whiskey River BBQ Chicken Wrap. I felt fine as I ate, even when I helped myself to all the fries I could possibly want. Heck man, I had run 10 miles that morning and hadn't eaten much, so I figured I could go all out on the steak fries. That night, no real problems to speak of. I felt decent enough. I think some discomfort came back, but it wasn't as bad as earlier in the day and I kept thinking it would pass.

Monday sign of problems. I ate my normal diet of a balance bar, fruit, salad, etc. I had some cottage cheese at lunch as well. I didn't poop, which was abnormal, but not totally out of line to suggest that something was wrong. In the late afternoon, I started to feel some discomfort again. But, again, nothing so bad that I was the least bit concerned. I got home from work and ate dinner, which was steamed veggies, some mashed potatoes, and two chicken sausages. I followed that up with more strawberries and more of Audrey's Sweet Ass Choco-Chip Kraut Cake. But, I started having some more difficulty this time around. After Noah went to bed, the gas pain became more pronounced. But, again, not enough to concern me. Around 10PM or so, with no relief so far, I decided to go to the supermarket to get some Gas-X. I came back, took the medicine, and sat down to watch a Dane Cook DVD with Audrey. I drank some water, snacked on some Puffins, drank some Diet Coke...but I was still waiting for the farts to come. The pain keeps getting worse, to the point where I am uncomfortable in any position. Audrey goes to bed and things continue to worsen. I cannot get any relief at all, no matter what I do. The pain was coming in waves and it became difficult to move when it "hit". I decided that I would definitely not be able to sleep until this stops and, after doing some reading on WebMD, that it seemed bad enough to warrant a visit to the emergency clinic up the road. I figured that they could at least tell if it was gas pain or something else and would hopefully be able to give me something to make the pain go away. Realistically, I figured they'd have a shot of some super strong meds that would force the farts (or whatever it was) to come out. Around 1AM, I told Audrey that I was going to the clinic and that I'd hopefully be back soon. I put the phone on her bedside table, though, just in case.

I got to the clinic, filled out the basic forms, and started my wait in the lobby around 1:20AM or so. From this moment on, time isn't so easily tracked. I filled out the paperwork with the following statement: severe intestinal pain. Didn't speed things up any. I saw a nurse, who asked me some basic questions, including how much pain I was in on a scale of 1-10. I told her it was an 8. While waiting to be called back to see a doctor, I vomited in the clinic bathroom. Not long afterwards, maybe around 2:30AM or so, the nurse put me in a bed area and gave me a hospital gown to change into. I did and climbed into the bed, unable to read a magazine or do much of anything else. The doctor came by and examined me, pressing on various areas of my abdomen and asking me if it hurt. Despite the fact that the pain seemed to be coming from all over, the only places it actually hurt during her pressing was in the lower center and lower right side of my abdomen. If I wasn't having bad diarrhea, which I knew I wasn't, then it was something more serious, like a gall stone, an issue with my kidneys, or even appendicitis. And, considering the location of the pain, the doctor thought my appendix might be the culprit.

Not good news, obviously. In order to further diagnose, they drew blood. And, to help me out, they put me on an IV with morphine and some anti-nausea medication. Never having had an IV, it was a strange experience for me. I felt a cold rush up my arm from the saline solution that came in first. Then, I got very light-headed and felt woozy. I was laying flat on the bed at that point, rendered momentarily speechless from the morphine. It didn't take long before I felt a whole lot better. The pain subsided, although it didn't go away completely. The doc came by to check me out a few times to try and determine what might be going on. When she decided that it was definitely something inside me, like appendicitis, she let me know that I'd need a CT scan and that I'd have to go over to the hospital for that. Oh, and I couldn't drive myself, so they'd be calling an ambulance to take me. Oh, and I'd have to drink 40 ounces of Ginger Ale with contrast in it so that my insides would be more viewable. Great.

It must have taken me an hour to drink that constrast stuff. It wasn't that it tasted too bad. I just couldn't get all the fluid in without taking my time. And, it was room temperature.

Since the ambulance was on it's way, the doctor asked me if I wanted more morphine. Basically, she figured I'd have to wait a while at the hospital before anyone saw me, so she wanted to know if I wanted some additional pain medicine before things got too bad. Duh! I wasn't missing this opportunity, so I gladly accepted another dose of the stuff.

The EMTs showed up at 5 something, I think. I moved from the bed to the gurney on my own, finished up my contrast, and they tucked me in with a bunch of blankets so I wouldn't get cold. Then, off we went to the hospital. It was kind of weird to be around so many strangers in just a nighty, but I didn't give a crap at that point. I just wanted relief and an answer as to what was wrong with me.

We got to the hospital fairly quickly (there isn't any traffic in Fairfax in the middle of the night) and they were ready for me immediately. I got wheeled over to a new bed and the nurse came over within moments. She asked me the same questions they asked at the clinic and let me know that the ER doctor would be by soon. It was about 6AM, so I called Audrey to let her know what was going on. She still must have figured I would be home soon, assuming she even knew what time it was. It had been 5 hours since I left the house and she probably slept the entire time. I also called my boss and left him a wacky message. A few minutes later, the ER doctor came by and gave me a check up as well. He poked around my abdomen, just like the doctor at the clinic, but he also checked my lymph glands and fondled my nuts a good bit. Okay, so fondling might be a bit of a stretch. I don't know if he was just checking for a hernia or not, but he was clearly taking a close look at my cash and prizes. He didn't think I had appendicitis, but he did think I had some sort of infection since my lymph glands were swollen. In any case, he needed to see the CT scan before he would know more.

By 6:30AM, I think they were wheeling me to the CT scan. The machine is enormous. It looks like a giant donut, which you end up in the middle of. I moved from the bed to the machine and they prepped me, which consisted of positioning me with my arms up over my head and injecting me with more contrast. When the contrast went into my bloodstream, I got hot all over, like I had just downed a cocktail. Not long afterwards, the machine took over, barking commands at me and spinning around like it was angry. Alright, it was a moderately pleasant voice asking me to take a deep breath and it barely moved at all. The work was done somewhere inside the big plastic hulk, but I could sense movement and hear things buzzing, giving one the sense that amazing stuff would happen. The scan was over in five minutes and I was back on my way to the ER to wait for the results.

I fell asleep, thankfully. The doctor came back and told me I didn't have appendicitis. At some point not long after that, a nurse came over as well. She was a fast talker from Boston or NY and I was too tired to follow everything she was saying. I got a bunch of paperwork and she said I could just sleep in the bed until my ride came to get me. Just after 8AM, I opened my eyes and Audrey and Noah were right in front of me. I got up, got dressed, and went on home.

Hell of a night, huh?

End result? Initial diagnosis at the hospital is that I have colitis. They gave me prescriptions for two antibiotics and gave me a referral for a GI doctor to do some follow-up. I'm feeling a great deal better, but my diet has been flipped on its head until this thing clears up. I still feel some discomfort after I eat, but it's not that bad. And, I just hope that this turns out to be an acute, one time event.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run

So, I knocked out my second race of the new year. First, good news is that it was managed properly and we only ran 10 miles (as opposed to the debacle at the Rotary Resolution in Leesburg). I had to get an early start, getting up at 5:30AM to clean up and grab my stuff before heading for the Metro. Race start was at 8AM, but I didn't have much time to spare. I stopped to get gas, had to wait for the Orange line from Dunn Loring, switched at Rosslyn to the Blue line, got off at Arlington Cemetery, and then walked the 1.5 miles to the race area. Oh, and I spent 20 minutes in line to pee before the race as well.

The weather was perfect. I took my new IllumiNite vest, which I picked up at the race expo the day before, and it worked out pretty well. I didn't overheat, wasn't constricted, and I had plenty of pockets and storage space. Although, I was a little concerned that I might have fried my cellphone until I tried it out. When I fished it from the back pocket on the vest, it was pretty wet.

I was slated for the green corral, which seemed to be the category for low-end intermediate skills, although there were some fast dudes in my group. Basically, to move up to orange, you needed to be able to run the race in about an hour (way out of my league). Beyond that, the most elite group was filled with professionals only. The colored grouping was intended to help them do a wave start, but the corral area for green was completely overcrowded. I didn't even get onto the road and in the corral until after the gun went off. I just followed the throng of people who had pushed down part of the barricades to create their own entryway into the corral. It didn't keep me from getting into the race line well in advance of the ChampionChip mat, which I crossed a few minutes after 8AM.

Most of the race was uneventful. I felt good and could tell I was running a good pace. I wasn't sure what it was exactly since I forgot to start my stopwatch. I actually grabbed a water along the way, something I never do. I need more practice with trying to drink from a cup and run at the same time. All I ended up doing was swallowing air, burping, and spilling water all over myself. Now I know why people bring those belts with water bottles on them. I couldn't help but check out people's shoes as I ran. The overwhelming favorite was Asics, all models, then New Balance. There were a fair amount of Nikes, some Saucony, some Brooks, and a few Mizuno. I saw some stupid slogans on t-shirts too, the dumbest one being "It is my destiny to kick ass". This wasn't printed or professionally done. Some 20-something slowpoke decided to scrawl it on her t-shirt with a black marker. Other highlights included shirts that extolled the virtues of drinking heavily and dorky law firm and consultancy running team logos.

I could feel myself running out of gas around mile 7. Good news was we were running slightly downhill and I held on until mile 9, at which point I poured it back on, but by pouring I really mean running hard and panting heavily. Halfway through the race, I had noticed a woman in all black with her hair up in ponytails. I noticed her because her hair was very similar to Audrey's hair and I focused on her as a target. I ran up and past her, but came upon her again a few miles later. In any case, the fact that I had past her, or thought I had passed her meant that she was now my competition for the end of the race. So, when she was only a few steps ahead of me in that last mile, she became my primary motivation. I wanted to catch up and pass her and I ran like hell to do it...but she won. I had picked a tall, dorky looking guy earlier, but it didn't take long to realize I had no chance of keeping up with him.

It's hard to tell how many people ran. I don't know how many actually registered, but the results say that over 10,000 people ran the race. In any event, this was a much bigger race than I've ever participated in before. And that was the first big difference from previous race experiences. I never got very far from a crowd and the first few miles were almost claustrophobic. Even at mile 8 and beyond, I was still squeezing by people, looking over my shoulder to see if there was someone near me, and jumping to one side or another to keep speed and not run into someone's back. There were so many people that I was distracted from the surroundings, one of the principal things that attracted me to this race. I didn't really notice the cherry blossoms at all, nor did I pay much attention to the monuments or "nature" as we ran up and back on Rock Creek Parkway. It was kind of fun to run down the middle of a road that I've used as a commuter so often in the past and to run over Memorial Bridge as well.

In the end, I beat my goal of 1:30 and a 9:00/mi pace. Official time of the race is gun time, which I think is a cheesy move. My net time, the time from the moment I crossed the starting line to the moment I crossed the finish line, was 1:23:04, which breaks out to an 8:18/mi pace. That is better than I thought I would do and close to matching my 5K race pace from last October. I am psyched about my half-marathon and have started thinking about the next race I will run after that. Maybe the YMCA Loudoun County 20K, which runs part of the W&OD trail.

I did accomplish two other things in running this race. I made myself sick. I think I got badly dehydrated. I was tired, but okay until I got home around noon. I spent the rest of the day with diarrhea and stomach cramps, even vomiting at one point. I was able to eat a good dinner, but I cramped up afterwards. I have been drinking lots of water and I think I'll be fine with a good night's sleep. The other thing I did is injure my left ankle in some way. I felt it during the second half of the race, but I ignored the pain. I wasn't going to walk it in just because I had some discomfort. I was limping a bit when I got home and the inside of my ankle is a bit tender, but it not swollen. I think it is probably irritated soft tissue, maybe due to a ligament rubbing against bone or something like that. I can walk on it just fine, but I need to take it easy. I wish I had iced it today, but I never got around to it. Dumb. It just needs to hold up for another month or so.

Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Bib # 5220
Washington, DC
April 2, 2006, 8:00 am

Time: 1:23:04
Overall Place: 2852/10662
Gender Place: 1176/2873
Pace: 8:18

Link to Official Race Results

Jon, I hope you don't mind that I copied your race data format. I think it is a good idea. Thanks!