An Untested Win

Gradually I am out living my competition.  This morning, after running with River, I drove down to Good Hope to run a 5K. Before the race started I noticed I was the only runner in the 60 – 64 year old age group. The field is slowly dwindling as I move through the age brackets.

The race was a local event that supports veterans.  This was the inaugural 5K.  It was held just few miles from where we live.  I was disappointed there wasn’t anyone to run against.  The leisurely pace I trotted allowed me the breath I needed to have conversations over the entire distance.

The major event is in October, the 5K was held on August 17th

“The Poppy Festival honors the Poppy Lady, Moina Michael, born in Good Hope in 1869. Moina MIchael used the red corn poppy as a symbol to honor and raise funds for fallen WWI veterans. The tradition continues today to honor servicemen worldwide.” (1)

During the run I learned that a women and her daughter who’d entered were from Brighton, England.  The red corn poppy is worn in the UK to honor veterans.  As she stated, “It is part of our culture.”

River is so proud

It was apparent women out numbered the men running.  The mix on those running were 54% female and 46% male.  This is becoming typical at least in the 5Ks I run.

Reference:

  1. http://www.goodhopepoppyfestival.com/festival

 

Train, train, more training and a little madness

Over the next several weekends I have a State 3D Championship (Georgia Bowhunter and Archery Association), a race (5K) and finally the Georgia State Outdoor Championship (Georgia Archery Association).  Getting ready for all of them means a lot of training and practice.

Trails used for running and 3D – you can just see that foam deer

When I go to the gym to lift weight the week of an archery tournament I dial it back.  Pushing it lifting weights before a major archery event can leave my arms wobbly. Neither will I crank up the repetitions or weight on my legs with a 5K coming up.  A 5K isn’t a long race, but I know I’m going to hurt for the entire race. I prefer my legs feeling fresh.

During runs and rides I nearly always see deer – not the foam type

Each week I have a plan with a peak and taper based on the next competition.  Last week was a heavy week with some taper this week in archery. Last week there was this one day where things went a bit crazy.

That was a  day when  I trained a maximum load schedule for that week. This meant, fortunately not on a gym day, 30 minutes of stretching and balance, and hour and a half long trail run, 50 arrows in the morning and 60 in the afternoon and an hour and fifteen minutes on the bike. What did me in was the bike.

In rural Georgia you can ride for hours on roads like to one over my shoulder

Now 75 minutes on a bike isn’t hard.  It can be an easy ride depending on the course. This course on this day was not an easy one.

The ride is extremely hilly.  Still, 75 minutes means the course is ridden at a comfortable pace which was my intention when I got on the bike. I didn’t stick with the plan.

Starting out on the ride I had a rare day with a light wind.  The course usually provides a not so light wind that feels like it is always in my face.  Not that day – the course seemed to have very little wind and what it did have felt like it was pushing me along rather that trying to stop me.

Cycling in this part of the country you will ride through cow pastures. They are often scenic and frequently smelly.

I tried to hold an easy pace at 17 mile per hour.  About half way into the ride reading at my bike computer for the current mileage and time lapsed I started thinking, “I bet I can break an hour on this ride.”

I’d done the ride in less than an hour once before.  I tried to stop thinking about it remembering I already had 90 minutes of running in my legs and another 60 arrows to shoot.   Then, I lost my mind.

It is too tempting to try and go fast on these roads

If I’d intended on trying to ride the course with a sub-hour time I should have started the ride trying to hold the pace at 20 miles per hour.  I hadn’t done that.  Having 6 miles to go I started really pushing it.  Because I’d began the ride at a more leisurely pace the final 6 miles would need to be fast.

Fast is fine on a flat course, but the final six miles of this course are rolling hills, long uphill grades and 3 tough climbs over the last 2 miles.  It would be hard to complete the distance under an hour with six miles remaining on a flat course. On this course it was just a stupid idea.

An easy part of the ride.

Turning right onto Georgia State Highway 186, which leads home, the distance is 2 miles. That’s where the three tough climbs lay ahead.  (There are no pictures of those climbs.  If I tried to snap a photo while riding a bicycle I’d probably start rolling backwards or fall over)  There was also wind blowing fast and furious right into my face.

I looked at my bike computer and decided to keep pushing. Days of bygone glory drifted through my head. I was out of my saddle climbing and determined to break an hour or bust a lung.

I got home just as my wife was driving up from a yoga class.  Her first words were, “Look at your face, it’s so red.”  I bet it was red. The temperature was 92°F.  My bike computer read 58 minutes and 32 seconds.

It took me two days to recover.

Home in the nick of time

If you do a sport that’s an outdoor activity you have probably be caught in the rain. If you’ve been there, then you will understand:

Run looks pretty good. There are some clouds coming in, but seems okay
It appears to be getting darker rather than brighter as this morning runs progresses. Maybe its going to rain earlier than predicted
“River, here” – feels like a good point to start heading home
Barely a drop on me

Sure, some folks might have continued on their morning run.  I admit, I turned around shortening the run.

5K: Starts at 8:30AM

On Sunday, Brenda and I generally head to Clark Hill Lake and visit her dad. This Sunday was a little  different.  There was also a race on this morning. Most of the races I run are on Saturday. This race was on Sunday. Brenda questioned the timing.

“It’s only a 5K. It starts at 08:30. The drive is 28 minutes, I’ll be home by 09:30, ” I promised.  “Okay, but we need to leave by 10:00,”  I was warned. No problem.

I promised, I’d run, cross the finish line, keep running to my truck, hop in and drive directly home. It didn’t matter where I’d finish, top 3 or not, I’d skip a possible award. I just wanted to run a closed course, on trails, against other runners and hard.

The next few sentences in quotations are directly from the race information page:

“5K: Starts at 8:30AM

Shirts and Goodies: Shirts are guaranteed to those who register by 4/6/19.  Those who register after that date and on race day are not guaranteed a shirt or size.  There will be plenty of refreshments.  Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers. “

I made plans to arrive at the race by 08:00AM, be parked, have my race packet in hand, warmed-up, and on the race start line by 08:25AM.  At 08:25AM I was exactly where I’d planned to be and standing near dozens of other runners.

The race, advertised to start at 08:30AM was initially a little late. At 08:30AM the race’s master of ceremony began her speech.  There’s always a speech.  When she’d finished talking the crowd gathered for the run would get to hear another speech. The time was now 08:38AM.  The clock was ticking – still no problem getting home by 09:30AM.

Runners were starting to squeeze toward the start tape. Some were beginning to bounce in place.  I was eyeing a lane along the right of the crowd and beginning my inching forward. Minutes to go and we’d be off.

The next speaker was a local hero and executive with some organization.  I know he was an important local hero because the informed the crowd of his unparalleled greatness.  When he finished speaking he returned the microphone to the MC. She puffed up a bit more, not to be outdone by the guy who’d orated to his captive audience the magnitude of his position and sacrifice.  When she paused for a breath it was 08:50AM. I was thinking, if the race started right now I could still be on the road to the lake by 10:00AM.

The standing herd of human would be runners had been held in place behind the 5K start line now for 20 minutes.  For many of the standers it had been longer.  Quite a few standers began standing behind the 5K start line before 08:30AM, in fact, I believe 100% of them where behind the start line before 08:30AM. The standers mostly had supposed they’d turn into runners at 08:30AM.  So, far no one was running. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

The MC then shared sad news. There was a major set-back, the Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers were AWOL.  Certainly, everyone was assured, the ‘Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers’ would arrive soon. Once they reached the start line the Zumba  Crunch Fitness Trainers  would lead the runners in a 10-minute warm-up. Afterwards the race would be off.  (She, the MC, gave the crowd a “WooWhoo!” of encouragement. No one was smiling. There were no echoed “WooWhos”) I began an internal debate associated with timing.

In England, near Hertfordshire, I ran a 10K.  The race was scheduled to begin at 09:00AM.  There was a warm-up.  The formal group warm-up started at 08:30AM in order to have the race start time of 09:00AM  strictly obeyed.  Before that warm-up time, at 08:28AM, the woman in charge called over the loudspeaker to the milling about crowd, “Okay, Sarah (I don’t actually recall her name) is going to begin our warm up, everyone form UP.” The word UP being issued as a command.

The crowd of around 200 Brits created a military formation, squared, and stood  at parade rest in less than 2 minutes. It appeared the locals had trained for the maneuver.  It would have made any “Tommy” proud.

The British are the World’s masters of the queue. I’ve had the good fortune of witnessing an English crowd queue more than once.  It is truly impressive.  The warm up formation was even more complicated than a simple queue yet handled with ease and confidence. Such order will never be duplicated by us American cousins.  This is the home of the free and unruly – at least by standards of the Crown.

At 08:30AM, in England,  the warm-up began.  By 09:00AM the 10K was underway. Note: I was the one with the funny accent. Back in America, Southern accents and sweet tea are more common.

On this deadline crunched Sunday in Georgia there remained a notable absence of the ‘Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers.’ I hate  standing around waiting, especially when I have other plans and the wait is unwarranted. I, for one, could care less about the marketing of some Zumba and Crunch Fitness Trainers’ organization.  I promise I’ll not be joining.

At 08:55AM my plan was to have completed the 5K and be sitting in my truck preparing to put the key in the ignition. Instead, I was at the race registration desk. My internal debate finished I knew the 10:00AM departure from home to the Lake would be missed should I wait for the Zumba and Crunch Fitness Trainers.

I returned my race number and let the race’s official girls at the desk I was leaving because I could wait any longer.  Perhaps, it is more correct to call the desk officials young ladies.  For certain, they were young and female.

To them, those desk barricaded officials wearing matching t-shirts,  having iPhone focus, with their air of authority and youth, I explained I understood the race, the 5K,  “Starts at 8:30AM”. That the race had yet to begin and I needed to leave. I was returning my race number in the event post-race officials tallied numbers and might find one missing.  I didn’t want anyone to fear a runner was lost or worse on the course.

One official young lady at the desk looked at me, alarmed from her iPhone by the interruption.  Once again, I explained my need to withdraw from the 08:30AM race while pointing toward potential runners corralled at the start line. Gaining her connection with a live speaking person, gathering her thoughts, she  told me, “No, it is going to start at 09:00AM, after the warm-up.” It was minutes before 09:00AM and the ” Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers” remained a broken promise.  It was time for me to depart before my thoughts began their exit from my mouth.

As I was driving my pick-up truck away from the race I looked over my shoulder toward the start line.  There an eager race crowd waited for Zumba.

Before writing this I triple checked the race time.  The official publication for the event reads, “5K: Starts at 8:30AM.”  I lifted the “5K: Starts at 8:30AM” directly from the official race registration form.

The race two weeks ago, another 5K, was cancelled.  I learned of that cancelation the morning of the race.  The race before that one, two weeks in advance of the cancelled event, did start nearly on time.

The entry fee for these events isn’t too costly, around $25.00 each.  The money often goes to some charity.  I know because there’s always someone bragging about his or her involvement in the charity and how important it is for everyone running be aware of race’s cause.

I suppose I’ve heard enough.  See, I no longer care about your cause, mission, crusade, or passion as associated with a race.  I just want to fork over my $25.00 and enjoy a run.  I’m glad the entry fee helps you and your soul’s work. I’ll gladly pay the fee to run.  I don’t want to hear your mission statement or your testimonial.  But, most of all I want to the race to start on time. Oh, and if you cancel your event, I want my money back. There’s another charity and self-important MC all too happy to accept it.

Pollen

Trudging back and forth to pull arrows I was staring at my feet.  To be exact I was staring at the boots on my feet.

It had already been a long day.  I’d skipped the morning archery practice in favor of a longer run and washing the truck. The truck needed washing badly. Running over trails is fun and I was craving a long haul. So I amended my training plans.

The truck has been doing a lot of hauling and was dirty inside and out.  As a bonus the car got washed as well.  So, during archery practice my head has hanging during those hikes to pull arrows.

What my hanging head noted was the color of my boots.  Pollen yellow boots.

That’s a bit of pollen

It is that time of year where pollen is everywhere and on everything here in Georgia.  If you’ve got allergies to pollen this is not a place for you.

Again at Hester’s Ferry

We’re at another campground, an old favorite, Hester’s Ferry near Lincolnton, Georgia.  Here we have all the toys: bikes, running shoes, archery equipment, kayaks and a pontoon boat. Plus, we’ve been spending time with the grandkids. Well, three out of four of them.

View from our campsite
Nice running trails

 

These trails also work for cycling
Plenty of time for archery
Those targets at 45 yards, the chair is at 35 yards

 

This old bike is steel – man steel is so nice. (Reynold 841 tubing)

 

Well, that works

 

Yep, that works, too.
Night at the campsite
Had to get a tire plugged. This sign was in the shop.

Nice thing is there are all sorts of ways to play. No time to write.

Fitness Minded

I often mention the number of archers that I compete against that appear, in my expert opinion, to be taking beta-blockers. They’re taking the drug, a PED in archery, to manage their hypertension.

I spent a solid decade studying hypertension and methods of treating it.  During that period I published research, sponsored the research of others, and helped develop methods to improve the health of people that have hypertension.

One of the best ways to combat the typical hypertension I see is through diet and exercise.  I worry about hypertension and the impact it could have on me.  Personally, a stroke would seriously limit my activity.

With that in mind, I exercise a lot.  The exercise aids in keeping my weight down – I do enjoy a good meal.  I admit I have exercised a lot all my life.

Picking up archery later (at 58 years old) than most archers being fit has not hurt me.  If I stopped shooting a bow tomorrow I’d still run and ride a bike.  In fact, I run almost everyday and ride a bike at least 4 times a week.

Wear these once then wash them. Fives days worth this week

I used to ride more when I raced bicycles.  When I picked up duathlons and triathlons cycling became another element of the sport. Of all the sports I’ve done cycling is my favorite (no offense to archers).  Actually, football is my second favorite sport and had it not been for cycling I’d have played in college.

Lots of nice open roads here in rural Georgia to enjoy cycling

In my junior year of high school I’d been scouted by a few college teams.  My high school coach had all but guaranteed my parents I’d get a chance to play in college. To them that meant college tuition they’d not have worry about.

But, I got hooked on cycling and thought I’d give it a ride to see if I’d make an Olympic Team.  It is impossible to keep weight on while racing bicycles.  So, my football opportunities dropped as fast as the weight.

Cycling didn’t pan out either.  Just out of high school I did have a chance to race in Europe but passed and gradually migrated my attention to academics then a day job.  Through out it all I stayed on a bike. And I eventually raced in Europe.

ITU Long Course Duathlon, World Championship – 2007

Decades of fitness are paying off now that I’m in my mid-60s.  I take no prescription drugs.  My blood pressure runs around 117/68 and my percentage of body fat is in the single digits.

Where fitness pays other dividends is in archery.  Over a long two-day tournament I am far more bored than fatigued.

I thought I heard someone yell, “Get him!.” So I ran like I stole something.

The hardest thing for me in archery is to remain in the game.  During a 4-hour 100-mile bicycle race or a 5-hour 70.3-mile ½ Ironman, I can stay focused.  (The young professionals are much faster than those times.) During a marathon or ½ marathon focus isn’t an issue.  During a long archery tournament my mind becomes numb.

That lack of focus might be assisted by a PED.  Certainly, those early end jitters would be reduced.  But, it is better to be fit and get through an event without the aid of a hypertension support medication. It is even better not to have high blood pressure.

Want to get fit? Check with your doc before you run around the block.

Lots of Competition Among the Older Runners

Before I left the house on Saturday morning, aside from stretching and eating breakfast, I took River for a run. We ran a short mile.  I kept it short because I needed to get on the road. I had a 5K race at 0900.

The race was really a nice run.  Over half of it was off road.  There was a good crowd even if the weather was a little sketchy.

Interestingly, the collection of subsets of runners on this Saturday is becoming more defined by my observations. I’ve been noticing this evolution of the running collective over years. It breaks down something like this:

There’s the young crowd of local track team members.  Then, there are women and more mature men.  By mature men, I mean the population of men over 50.

Here’s the thing about this group of runners at the 5K, some male age groups were totally unrepresented. There were no male runners from 19 years old to 24 years old.  There were two male runners between the ages of 25 and 29 and zero male runners between 30 and 34.  The age groups didn’t get populated for men until the 45 years old group. From 45 years old to 75 years old the grey haired male runners were abundant. Not only were there plenty of mature male runners those in attendance were fast.  The second fastest time of the day came from the 70 – 75 year old male group with the old fellow pacing out sub-7 minute miles.

After the race when I read the times I wanted to meet the 70+ year old man that ran sub-7 minute miles. So did another runner or two and we searched for him looking for his bib number.  We didn’t find him.  Obviously, he’d won and headed home, back to Snellville.  We all assumed he ran home.

I won my age group and did well overall.  I’d noticed the medals and wanted one so I stayed for the award ceremony.  Sometimes I see the award medal decide it isn’t worth the wait then head home skipping the award ceremony. But, this medal was clearly unique and a fair amount of thought had gone into its design.  I wanted it so I waited.

The wait wasn’t long – they started with the higher age groups and I’m in the third from the oldest group for this race.  When they called my name I walked to the awards area.  They’d handed the 2ndand 3rdplace finishers the cool looking medal each with a bronze or silver finish.  I received a water bottle!

To be fair, it is a nice metal water bottle.  I’m sure it cost more that the medal.  The water bottle has nothing on it to represent the race.  It’s a water bottle with a local middle school logo – the school whose grounds were used to host the race.  I am disappointed.  If I’d known, I’d had held back for second.

What I do know is there seemed to be percentage-wise few young adult males in this race.  When I first began running, then racing, the male population was by far the largest percentage of a race.  Not too long ago at major marathon the women, for the first time in that race’s history, outnumbered the male runners. Since then, not knowing the exact count, I think the races I’ve entered have been at least even based to gender and if anything the higher number of runners appearing to be female.  Certainly, in this 5K the female population was greater in number than the male population.

It will happen if you run trails. 

I’ve read and been told that archery is the second safest sport.   It really depends on the reference.  No doubt, archery is a safe sport. Running on the other hand, while it seems safe, can be hazardous.

If you do a lot of trail running you know where I’m headed.  Sure, you might get attacked by a mountain lion and need to fight for your life.  You might run up on a rattlesnake, copperhead, or other poisonous snake.  That’s when you sprint away while doing the hopping chicken dance.  Heck, in some places there’re bears to worry about.

Most likely all of those animal intersections with a runner are limited.  The more likely trouble comes from something that doesn’t even move – the root. In come cases a root might be a rock, stump, or other obstacle that just sits there waiting to trip you.

If you run trails it will happen. You’ll cross paths with that non-moving hazard and eventually the impact will be just right to create a face plant.

Run trails and a face plant is just a matter of time

I’ve had more face plants mountain biking than running.  I still have a fair share of running tumbles.  Yesterday, I ended up face down on a trail.  It wasn’t a bad fall.  Nothing has broken; there was a slightly scraped nose and a little frustration.

I was running with my dog, River, and I swear when she saw what had happened she laughed.

A Big Tree, Cold Archery, and a Tailwind

Before archery practice this morning, like nearly every morning, I ran. On the trails where I run there are some enormous pine trees.  I’ve been trying to remember to carry a camera to take a picture so you can see. Here is one of them:

Reminds me of “Hometree” from the movie Avatar.

For comparison, you can see the regular tall pine trees next to this larger pine tree.

30 degrees when I headed out to the range. It was 27 degree while running.

Of course, after running, I practiced archery.  For the past couple of days outdoor archery has been rough.

This little heater is great
It wasn’t all bad

I put on every article of clothing I own to stay warm, use an outdoor propane heater and get through it just fine.

Mountain bike gloves keep my bow hand warm, but aren’t good for archery

What really hurts, is heading out on a bicycle when the temperature is still in the 30s and the wind is howling.

Speed 20.6 mph. Coasting with a tail wind.