As you may have heard, today is National #RunningDay.  DC residents are celebrating all over the city by pounding the pavement or dirt in the near perfect weather exceeding 90 degrees with alerts of all kinds.

But whether you are adventurous enough to actually go out and run today or not, it is always good to remind yourself why you run.  National Running Day has started a fill in the blank campaign on their website:  “I run _____”.  As I thought through how I would complete that statement, I came up with a top 5 list.

5)  I run so that I can drink more beer. People exercise to stay healthy and to get fit.  Running does that for me.  If I didn’t run, there is no way I’d be able to burn off all those weekend calories from the bottle.  I currently feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.

4)  I run for community. Something unexpected came from that random first marathon registration.  I became a part of a great DC running community full of local 5kers, 10kers, marathoners, and trail runners.  I always look forward to meeting people at the starting line and seeing a familiar face or two.

3)  I run because I actually enjoy doing it – most of the time.  Sure I hate running in this heat, and I hate running in the bitter cold.  But I love running at sunset, I love running through the trees of Rock Creek, and I love the feeling you get after a great workout.  Sometimes I might want to cry from pain, but most of the time you’ll see my jogging by with a smile on my face, because I’m actually having fun.

2)  I run because I’m a runner. One thing I’ve learned over the past few years is that anyone can be a runner.  It’s so easy to get into the routine, and not want to break it.  If I go more than a day or two without lacing up the Mizunos, I find myself itching to move the legs, burn some energy, and sweat a little.   I’ve become a runner, and I like it.

1)  I run for sanity. Because if I didn’t have all those hours, by myself, processing all the good, bad, and the ugly, I’d go crazy.  The time spent on a quiet trail, or the mindless miles thrown down on the sidewalks of Northwest DC have helped me realize who and what I love, process and move on from what I might hate, and become the person I am today.

So what about you?  “You run _____”

Rainbow Row, in Charleston, SC

As you can see, I’ve been more than a little negligent updating my training progress for the upcoming North Face Endurance Challenge 50k, now in less than two weeks.  So what does that mean?  Did I drop out?  Did I lose motivation?  Am I still going to run?

Well, the answer is yes, I’m still going to run.  Things have been going pretty well the past few weeks with training, and I’m feeling confident that I’ll have a decent showing on June 4th, all things considered.

Instead of updating you on all my mileage totals over the past few weeks, I thought I’d just highlight a couple of my recent runs of note, and talk a bit about how I’m feeling.

Charleston – 6 miles around the Battery.  While there was nothing special about the actual running, this was one of the highlights of my time in Atlanta/Charleston a few weeks ago.  I’ve found that running on a (mini)vacation like this one is a perfect way to get out and explore a new city, and a refreshing way to mix up your daily mileage grind.  If you have never been to Charleston, SC, go.  It is beautiful.  I ran around the Battery, through a few waterside parks, past Rainbow Row, up near the port and through parts of the College of Charleston.  Lots of fun.

Long Run – 24 miles through Rock Creek.  With exactly three weeks to go, I woke up early on a misty Saturday morning to prepare for what would be my longest run before the 50k, and actually the longest training run I’ve ever set out to complete.  With high nerves and low expectations about the run, I’d say it went about as good as it could have.  For the first time since training for my first marathon, I got some major night-before gitters and had a lot of trouble sleeping.  I didn’t know how I would feel after 20 miles and was not very eager to find out.  Come morning, I took off from home (notice I cut that part out of the map) and went straight towards Rock Creek to do my usual Vally/Western Ridge loop.  I tacked on another 4 miles on some horse trail up the middle then went south along the Rock Creek Trail for another 5 miles or so before turning around and going home.  I intended to do the whole thing on dirt, but with the rain, the ground was mighty wet and I started oddly started to get lonely.  The decision to head south along the creek turned out to be a good one, as seeing other runners and actually bumping into KFB who was out on a 40 mile training ride, got the legs moving and the mind pushing.

I tried to mimic race day nutrition as much as possible, pumping a few Gu’s and a ClifBar down the throat throat.  I carried two Nathan Quickdraw Elite Handheld water bottles, one with water and the other Gatorade.  Thankfully it wasn’t very hot (the DC weather has now changed, for the hot, since this run) and with the rain keeping me moist I didn’t need any additional fluids.  All in all it was a great run, boosted the confidence, the strength, and made yesterday’s 18 miles feel like nothing.

Race DayCapitol Hill Classic 10k.  Awhile ago I had registered for the Capitol Hill Classic, a nice 10k race down on the Hill that I knew a few friends were planning to run.  I love these little races and was excited for this one.  As it turns out, I got a little injured, and training got all whacked up, leaving me with a 24 mile run on Saturday and a race the following morning.  This certainly wasn’t ideal.  I knew it would hurt, and I knew there was no way I would PR (which I was originally hoping to do).  I decided to approach the race as a bit of a tester, to see how I could race on really tired legs.  I don’t know how much I really learned, but I at least learned I could run, mostly pain free, after such a long day before.  I lined up about halfway back in the pack with two of my friends.  When the gun went off, I spent most of the first mile dodging people and loosening up the legs.  It was a slow first mile, my slowest by about a minute, which I came to regret after seeing my finish time.  The course itself was fun.  From Stanton Park you ran East, circling RFK Stadium before looping around to head back West down the hill.  As you powered down Capitol Hill around mile 4.5, you could see the dread on everyone’s face, knowing they would soon have to turn around and climb back up.  I hit the hill pretty hard, loosing only about 15 second on the final mile.  The race was well run, had a great vibe, and had several spectators out on their front porches with their morning Joe.  My time was a good 4+ minutes off my PR, but that will have to do.  I’ll definitely run this race again, hopefully on fresher legs next time.

Capitol Hill Classic 10k Course (click for larger view)


The new DC Brau

DC Brau is exactly what TheHaySay is about.  A high quality, local beer, perfect for post run re-hydration.  I guess I might be a little late to jump into this DC Brau review game, but better late than never.  If you haven’t heard, DC Brau Brewing Company is the first production brewery in over 50 year to locate its tanks inside the District of Columbia.  A few weeks ago they blasted off into local stardom with a huge launch party over at Meridian Pint.  Unfortunately I had to miss the big event due to some other plans, so I made sure to grab a sixer of the Public Ale as soon as they were released.

The Public Ale is an American style Pale Ale, secretly trying to be an IPA.  They can call it a simple Pale Ale all they want, but from first sniff you are loaded with the delicious American hops that overwhelm the aroma, and you immediately think IPA.   After a first sip, a few other flavors flow down the tongue, such as a definitive citrus note that comes through pretty strongly.

The brewery will only be releasing its beers in cans and kegs, which I think is both a unique and exciting, making them the perfect beer for floating down a WV river or throwing a few in the cooler out at the campground.  After my first few tries of The Public, I’m really looking forward to future releases by DC Brau, especially The Corruption IPA, which I can only imagine will have hops popping out of the tin lid.

The only major flaw I found was the price.  At $12.00 for that first six pack, I’m not sure I’ll be buying these for much more than a treat.  Hopefully that is just the hyped up price, which should hopefully settle into a more reasonable $8-9 soon.

The DC Brau website has a great interactive list of where you can grab a pint or a can, so there is no reason not to check it out.

Have you tried it?  What did you think of The Public ale?  Worth the money?  Cheers!


The 9 mile lap through Rock Creek Park

Things continued to look up this week.  Mileage was on the grow and my legs are certainly starting to feel stronger.  I continued to push both the weekday runs and the weekend long run.  I  know that you aren’t supposed to increase by much more than 10% over the week before, but when duty calls, you just have crank them out.
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RW's Rave Run, July, 2010

Things are without a doubt looking up when it comes to TheHaySay’s running schedule. This week was kind of make it or break it for me as I prepare for the North Face Endurance Challenge, and I think i made it.  The focus of the week’s mileage was to have a significant increase over last week’s mere 23 miles, without furthering my injury or creating any new ones.  I tried to listen to my body, pushing when I could, and holding back when I knew I should.  That brought a couple of really exciting days, and some interesting adventures.  So without further adieu, the week’s mileage breakdown:

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It seems to me that Runners World is kind of a badge of honor for most runners.  Can you call yourself a runner and not subscribe to Runners World?  I’m actually not sure.  The ironic part of the whole thing is that I don’t know anyone who actually reads the thing cover to cover.  1/3 of the articles are total fluff, 1/3 of the articles are a re-written version of the same article from last month’s issue, and only about 1/3 are truly interesting articles I enjoy reading.

That being said, I was excited to see that this month would bring a Trail Edition, which was bound to offer a variety of new types of articles, interesting stories, mind blowing trail pictures, and shoe reviews I’ve been looking forward to.  The edition didn’t really disappoint, offering all of those things, and making me very jealous I don’t live in a place that offers better singletracks.

The issue also offer up some highlights form the greater Washington, DC area that I thought I should share:
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The long road to recovery might finally be getting a little shorter.  I know that in the grand scheme of things, whatever has happened to my leg probably isn’t that bad, but that doesn’t matter when it feels that bad because you can’t run.  Especially when you really want to run.  It has been a very long few weeks, but the past 7 day’s mileage was a bit encouraging, propelling me towards my end goal. During today’s (Monday) run, I for the first time in a several weeks thought that I might actually be running on June 4th.  While I might just be running, and not racing, a cross over the finish line will make me just happy as a little junebug. 
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Pisgah Brewing Company, Black Mountain, NC

Organic beer is one of the newest up and coming trend in the craft beer world.  More and more we can find microbreweries experimenting with an organic ingredient or trying to produce a fully organic brew, which should come as no surprise.  The organic movement as a whole has blasted off like a rocket over the past several years.  People are beginning to realize that sustainable organic ingredients are not only beneficial to your body, but beneficial to the Earth and its farmers.  So it is only rational that this movement would carry over to the beer world.

The only problem with any shift to organic is insuring that you maintain the same level of quality.  Sure, organic fruits and veggies are almost always better than their counterparts, but an organic pasta sauce, potato chip, or yes, beer, might not be.  These sub-par products make their way to shelves because producers and retailers know that by labeling something organic, they will reach a buyer they might not otherwise, regardless of quality.

You are seeing this now with some of the breweries that are showing up for the race to quench the organic beer market, but are not bring much to the line.  For example, Peak Organic Brewing Company out of Maine is a mediocre at best brewery that probably wouldn’t have the reach it does if it wasn’t for ‘Organic’ in its name.  People buy it (and many others) because of the organic stamp, not because it is a good beer that happens to be organic.  The focus should be how can we make a dynamite beer using these organic ingredients, instead of lets go organic and try to make beer.  Too often breweries seem to be too focused on going organic, and not focused enough on what makes a great micro-brew great…the taste. 
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View from the top of Lookout Mt.

I have some good news and some bad news.  Let’s just go ahead and get the bad news out of the way:  I still can’t run very far.  Now to the good news:  I can run a lot farther than I could last week!

This week had some highs and lows when it came to training for the upcoming North Face Endurance 50k in less than 8 weeks.  The biggest high came on Wednesday, when I forced myself to stop after 5 miles of some pretty good running.  The leg pain, which had started the week before, wasn’t flaring up too much, and for the first time I wanted to keep pushing it.  The lows came the next morning, when I woke up with a really sore leg, realizing that I might have pushed it too hard (at only 5 miles).
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The countdown to the North Face Endurance Challenge 50k in Washington, DC has begun, but not the way I hoped.

After taking 10 days off from running while in Panama, I came back full of excitement and drive to get back on the trails and run around in circles.  My body felt great, my head clear, and my legs ready to move.  The day after returning I set out for a long run on Rock Creek Park’s the Western Ridge Trail/Valley Trail.  I intended to run somewhere around 13 mile, but was stopped short with an unfortunate surprise.  Almost exactly at the fifth mile marker, a sharp pain struck my upper shin, just below the knee.  It wasn’t a gradual pain that grew over the course of the miles, it was something of a beast, attacking with force out of nowhere.  I immediately stopped, stretched, walked a few meters, and began to freak.  I was 5 miles away from home, out in the middle of the park, with no money for a bus ride home.  So I did the only thing I knew to do, and started running back.  As soon as I could, I got off the trail and onto the road.  While it was flatter (with much better footing), it didn’t cut my run down in length at all.  I clocked just over 10 miles, most of which hurt like hell.


Since then I’ve been icing, resting, and going out for tester runs almost every day.  It pains me to post this, but this is my mileage just 9 weeks out from the race:

Monday – .25 miles After running for about a minute, I knew it was a mistake and turned right around.

Tuesday – 0 I didn’t even go out.

Wednesday – .75 miles  Made it a little further before realizing again that this was a mistake.

Thursday – 1.5 miles Ran a flat park until I started hurting.

Friday – 0

Saturday – 2.5 miles Better, but far short from the 14 I should have run.

Sunday – Finally admitted I might be injured.  Got on the bike for 1:30 hours through Rock Creek with KFB.

After extensive research (ie. an hour or so of google searching), I’ve concluded that I’m not going to be able to find online what exactly happened.  The spot is located just below the knee, at the top of the tibia.  It is sensitive to the touch, and hurts mostly on foot strike (I’m able to bend without issue).  Over the past week of very short runs, the pain has been extremely intense for the first minute or so, then kind of fluctuates over the next several. Needless to say, I’m able to tough it out for a few miles, but I’m terrified that pushing too far will simply make it worse.  The last thing I want to do is knock myself out completely.

Has anyone experienced this sort of pain before?  Any suggestions with how to deal other than rest and ice?  I’m determined to bring this week’s mileage back up to around where I should be.