Thursday, July 31, 2008

Know your local Park hours

This morning I got in a nice 10 mile trail run in Greenbelt Park before work. As I got to the park at 6am I found that the gates to all the parking areas were still locked. Doesn't the sign at the entrance read "Park Hours Sunrise to Sunset"? I waited a few minutes, thinking that since the sun had just risen, maybe the Park Ranger hadn't gotten to this gate yet. I considered my options:
  1. Go home and run on the roads. No, too much road running this week already. I need trail running!
  2. Keep waiting. No, there's this thing called "work" that I have to get to eventually.
  3. Drive Jeep around blockade and proceed with original run plan. Hey, the sun is up so the park is open.
Being the patient individual that I am (seriously, I'm usually quite patient) I chose option 3. Got in a nice run and made it to work at the time I was hoping for. Checking the Park's website it appears I was right that the "Park" is open from sunrise to sunset, but the specific parking area(s) that I was hoping for don't open until 8am.

Lessons learned: Know your local park (and parking area) hours. Also, if you plan on running really early in the morning or finishing after the sun has set, find alternative parking areas along your trail in the event you don't happen to be driving an off-road vehicle.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dean Karnazes' 50/50 movie premiere - this Thursday!

There is a new film coming out about Dean Karnazes, North Face sponsored ultrarunner and NYT best-selling author of UltraMarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner. The film is called UltraMarathon Man (hmm, sounds familiar) and will be playing at select theatres this Thursday for one time only. I will be going with some friends to the Majestic in downtown Silver Spring. If anyone would like to join, just let me know. More theatre listings are found here at the official movie website.

Back in 2006 Dean ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 consecutive days, finishing off with a sub-3 hour finish at the New York City Marathon. Over the course of the 50 days, people from all around the country came out to run with Dean, whether it was their first marathon or their hundredth. This film is the documentary following Dean's 50/50 journey.

When he came around this way he ran through Baltimore. At the time I had only read an article or two about him in Runner's World, but it was enough to peak my interest. I marked the date on my calendar and was hoping to make it out for a few miles with him (at the time marathons were not even a thought in my mind... oh how things have changed!). Due to scheduling conflicts I was unable to make it out, but I'm still looking forward to the film. Let's hope it's good!

Monday, July 28, 2008

New toys and good runs

I got in a nice easy 16-miler early Saturday morning on the Capital Crescent Trail, there and back from Bethesda down to the Kennedy Center. Average heart-rate was 138 keeping a 9:09 pace, so I was definitely training in my correct zones. Temps were much cooler than recent weekends so that was surely welcomed (as was the flat and shaded route).

While running I got to enjoy some of my new favorite running toys (yes, I'll admit it - I'm a gear whore). Earlier in the week I picked up a Nathan Sports HPL #020 Hydration Vest. I've heard great things about it from other trail/ultra runners so it's something I've been wanting to get for quite some time now. I tested it out on some mid-length trail runs during the week and was surprised at how comfortable the vest was. It didn't budge during the log-hopping and tight corners, so it gets an A+ for staying put.

My one issue with it, though, is the mouthpiece. It's difficult to open/close and I can barely get any suction through it. The mouthpiece on my CamelBak works 100 times better. Ah-ha, I've got an idea! I swapped the tube and mouthpiece assembly from the CamelBak and put it on the Nathan Vest. I think we have ourselves a winner!

Actually, one more thing about the vest. During the run you could hear the water swishing back and forth pretty loudly. Since I was the one setting the group's pace for a good portion of the run (who's bright idea was that?), people were commenting that I sounded like a metronome. Tick-tock-tick-tock. Then again, I was the only one wearing a hydration pack so maybe they all make noise and I just hadn't noticed it before. Everyone else had either hand-held bottles, which make much less noise but are somewhat annoying to hold for long periods of time, or a waist pack that stashes a water bottle like this one, which I have yet to try. I didn't mind the noise of the Nathan pack at all, but since we passed so many water fountains on the CCT I think I'll reserve it's use for medium to long trail runs or any type of run where I can't refill a bottle every couple of miles.

Nathan Vest and Chocolate GU. Awesome.

I also recently discovered the joy that is Chocolate Outrage GU. I had previously been using the Tri-Berry, Lemon Sublime or Plain GU flavors and thought I had found my personal favorites. Boy was I wrong. Chocolate GU is like brownie batter disguised as endurance fuel! As a former fat kid, I don't think there's anything in the world that could make me happier. It's so good that I'm tempted to eat it as dessert after meals. Luckily I have at least some self-restrain.

Chocolate GU, *drool* Oh, sorry. Self-restrain, right...

On the jumping side of things, Sunday was scheduled to be my day of skydiving for the weekend. I was really looking forward to it too since it's been over 2 weeks since I've jumped. Oh, and I have a paycheck waiting for me at the dz, so that's even more of a reason to head down. Unfortunately, mother nature brought upon some torrential downpour yesterday (Sunday) so it was one of those days where, aside from my run, I just sat around twiddling my thumbs. Oh, and I caught up on the latest season of Weeds. Love that show.

In total, 21.5 miles this weekend (50 for the week) and 0 jumps. No skydiving= bummer, but the runs were great so I can't complain. Until next time... adios amigos.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The deathly heat

I originally wanted to title this post "Heat & Death in Rockville" as a play on words from "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas", but that title isn't quite appropriate for two reasons:
  1. My long run on Saturday wasn't in Rockville - it was through the Beltsville Ag Farms. And although I felt as if I was going to die with my heart rate at 181 bpm while moving like a snail at 13 minute-miles, alas I made some smart choices and cut my run short knowing that I was well on my way to getting heat exhaustion. It is definitely a bruise to the ego when, as a potential ultra runner, you can't even finish an easy 14-mile long run, but I foolishly went out for a run during the hottest time of the day (out on the roads from 10-noon) on a route with no shade on a day where it was deathly hot.

    Now why do I say "deathly" hot? Here comes reason #2 why the failed humor in my post title would have been inappropriate:

  2. There was a twilight 8k (5mi) race in Rockville Saturday evening. One of the runners, an older guy probably 60-years-old, collapsed and died with 1 mile to go. The Washington Post article doesn't indicate a cause of death, but with the temps where they were that day, I'm sure the heat had a big factor in this equation.
Perhaps the deceased had other underlying medical issues that led to this unfortunate incident, but it definitely makes the dangers of running in the extreme heat that much more real. I am glad I had the wherewithal to make the decision to cut my run short. I had 2 water bottles, one with Nuun electrolytes in it and I was taking it slow, but I was running on the hot pavement with no shade. Had I gone on (I stopped at 9.5 miles), I probably would have finished my run with a PR for slowest run ever, but I'm sure I would have done more damage than good. My body (well, my heart-rate monitor mostly) was giving me a warning sign to stop and I listened.

Be smart out there.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Video from this weekend

This past weekend I finally made my way out to the dropzone and got some good jumping in - 9 jumps total. Showed up late on Saturday and they put me right into the thick of it with all the tandems we had booked for the day. On Sunday business was much slower so I took advantage of it and got in some great freefly jumps (and a wingsuit jump too).

Here is the video of a head down freefly I did with Lisa on Sunday (filmed from her perspective). It was the first time I've docked on someone while head down... and I did it twice! What an amazing feeling. I had a blast!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Introducing yours truly

Aloha my fellow ultrarunners and skydivers! I am BGill, and this is my first attempt at blogging. Who knows how often I'll have time to post to this or whether I'll actually come up with stuff to talk about that is useful/interesting/doesn't-put-you-to-sleep, but I'm going to make an attempt. Now, since this blog will focus mostly on the two sports that consume the better portion of my current existence, skydiving and ultrarunning, I'll give some background about myself with respect to each sport. Please see the relevant category below that most fits your description:

Skydivers: I started jumping back in 2001 with a tandem at the Cleveland Parachute Center when I was 17 years old. Why Cleveland? They were the only place I could find that would let me jump at that age (the rules have since changed for any youngin's out there looking to jump, so you'll have to look elsewhere). When I turned 18 I did another tandem and decided I was hooked, so I went through the AFF course at Skydive Delmarva in Laurel, DE. I jumped throughout college and was the president of the University of Maryland Skydiving club, accumulating roughly 400 jumps throughout college. Now that they tell me I'm all grown up, I'm still jumping at Delmarva and I work as a tandem instructor on the weekends. To date I have 783 jumps and somewhere around 3 hours in the wind tunnel. For funjumping, I mostly freefly and work on swooping, but I have been known to don my wingsuit on occassion and participate in the occassional RW jump. I fly camera too. Basically, I do a little bit of everything and I love it.

Runners: I haven't always been a runner. In fact, I'm pretty new to the higher mileage running scene. I started running in high school, but nothing significant and mostly just trying to lose weight. I ran on and off throughout college and my longest run was probably 5 miles. Never did any races or anything (although I once rode my bike to lead the pack of a 5k). Then, back in December of last year I decided to up my game and start training for a marathon, the SunTrust National Marathon in D.C. to be exact. To gain entrance in the National Marathon I had to have a qualifying time in some sort of recent race, but seeing as how I had never actually run a race I looked around and found the B&A Trail Half-Marathon. I ran B&A in 1:39:57, more than enough for the 2:30 needed to qualify, and was on my way. However, about a week after B&A I came down with tendonitis in my right achilles. Keep in mind this was 3 weeks out from the marathon. After 2 weeks of rest (aka swimming, aka drowning in a forward motion) I was able to lace back up and I took it relatively easy as that would have been taper time anyways. Race day came and the achilles felt fine, but still I was hesitant to push too hard just in case. I ran a 3:48:20, not too shabby for a first time marathoner if I do say so myself. It was the hardest thing I've ever done... and I want more of the challenge! So that's where ultramarathons come into play. Leading up to the race I read Dean Karnazes' book, Ultramarathon Man, and it put some ideas into my head. I took to the internet and have read everything I can about ultras. I signed up for the JFK50 this coming November and have started training with the Montgomery County Road Runners Club's XMP program. To say I am excited is an understatement. Marathon/ultramarathon training has gotten me in such great shape and the sense of accomplishment that comes from self discipline is something I can't live without. I'm hoping to run JFK in under 10 hours, but as long as I stay uninjured and finish I'll be happy. 100 miles? Some day...

Non-runners/jumpers: Git outa my interweb! Yer kind ain't wanted here! Mary-jo, go git me muh shotgun! No, just kidding. Everyone is welcome to come and browse. Whereas the skydivers think the ultrarunners are crazy for running so much, and the ultrarunners think the skydivers are crazy for jumping our of perfectly good airplanes, you will just be special in that you will think both of my sports are crazy. Who knows, maybe I'll post some breathtaking skydiving picture that makes you want to come for a tandem and taste the adrenaline, or maybe you'll come to understand the pride that comes from training for an ultra/marathon and you'll sign up for your own race that pushes your limits. Whatever it may be, welcome to my site and I hope you enjoy yourself. Please feel free to leave comments about anything and everything.