Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Interactive 360 Degree Skydiving Picture

Nothing new or exciting to report in the world of BGill, but I found a 360 degree, fully interactive, picture of a skydiving exit. I have no idea what kind of camera was used, but I sure do like the end product! Check it out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

This just in - I'm an idiot

Just found these pics of me racing Doug, sprinting to the finish, and having way too much fun at the Park's Half two weekends ago. Yup, I'm an idiot...

Photos: Brightroom

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

They grow up so fast

10-way formation for Alexis' 100th

I've been a tandem skydiving instructor for about a year and a half now. This past weekend, one of my former tandem students, Alexis, did her 100th jump. When I took her on her tandem jump early last year, she seemed eager to learn so I taught her a bit more than the usual "arch, legs back, I'll take care of the rest." Together we did turns, forward motion, pulled the ripcord, and went over some canopy flight basics. Apparently those little bits of knowledge were enough to give her the skydiving bug, now here we are a year later jumping together and having a blast. She's my first student to follow through with the sport after getting that first taste of adrenaline, and I'm very proud of the progress she's made over the past year. Congratulations, Alexis!

The gang (from L-R: Dave, Bruce, Ahmed, Mike, Me, Dana, Larry, Chrissy, Alexis)

Photos: Lance Lippencott

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Race Report: Parks Half-Marathon 9/14/08

This past weekend the Montgomery County Road Runner's Club put on their 3rd annual Parks Half-Marathon. The route took approximately 2500 runners from the Rockville Metro Station, south through the Rock Creek Stream Valley, onto the Capital Crescent Trail and ending in the heart of downtown Bethesda.

I see the Parks Half as the beginning of the local fall race season. Mid-September usually offers cooler mornings that allow for good race times for all involved. This year, mother nature decided to mix things up and thought that we should race on a morning that was as hot and humid as any mid-summer run. Humidity was near 90% and temps hovered around 78 F during the race and steadily climbed to the mid-90s later in the day. Needless to say, this type of weather surprised many people and left many runners unprepared and in over their heads.

On days like this, it is good for runners to pace themselves so they don't go out too hard too soon. That's where I come in. I had the pleasure of pacing those runners looking to run 8:00 - 8:15 minute miles. I've never had the pleasure of running as a pacer before - heck, I've only raced one half-marathon and one marathon before this! Thanks to the XMP Group I train with (many of whom were pacers for this race), I have become a much stronger runner and I've learned how to pace myself very well, so I was more than happy to volunteer my services so that others could run a smart race.

The masses make their way down Veirs Mill Rd (Photo: Some guy on Flickr)

On to the race itself. The first 2 miles were all downhill, fast, and crowded. Once the course flattened out the pack started to thin. Around this point there wasn't a big pack in front of me, but turning around I saw a large pack of runners and probably had a couple dozen hoping to follow my pace. At my side were some of my fellow XMP'ers, so we all chit-chatted and, as we always do, made fun of Doug for trying to pull the group faster than we're supposed to be running. Nothing too significant occurred during the middle miles, just lots of running and sweating (seriously, everyone was drenched head to toe from the humidity).

Mid-way? (Photo: Dan DiFonzo)

Later on, maybe around mile 9, I looked back again to see how the pack was doing and noticed that it had dwindled down significantly. The heat and humidity was taking its toll. As we were passing the Mormon Temple I was having a conversation with a fine young lady about the smell of stinky fish and how it compares to that of Chinese Restaurant dumpsters at 6am (gotta make the time pass somehow). I don't know if it was the thought of stinky fish, the brutal humidity, or a combination of both but she admitted she was pushing harder than she should, so she was going to wisen up for the last few miles and slow her pace. Was I running too fast? Checked my Garmin. Nope, right on pace. Such is the life of a pacer. I was a moving target people used to gauge their own race, and while she had made it this far staying with me she knew continuing on would lead to trouble over the last few miles.

The last 2 miles were pretty lonely. It seems most people got slowed down as we got closer to 13.1 and my pack was now a few scattered runners who were just trying to keep me in sight. These last 2 miles also had a slight but noticeable incline. Determined to stick to my assigned pace, I found myself passing a good number of runners, many of whom now resorted to a combination of running and walking. The last 1/4 mile of the race runs through an enclosed tunnel on the Capital Crescent Trail. As I entered the tunnel I could begin hearing echoes of the crowd near the finish line. Exiting the tunnel puts you right in downtown Bethesda with only a block or two to go.

Me exiting the tunnel near the finish line (Photo: Edward Johnson)

Doug picked up his pace and passed me with a smirk, as if to say "haha pacer, I can sprint to the end." I've kept to my pace this whole time, my responsibilites of a pacer are now over and the finish line is in sight... full steam ahead! I sprinted past Doug, beating him by 1 second and finishing in 1:46:30. That averages to 8:08 minute miles, smack dab in the middle of my assigned pace range! Looks like I'm not so bad at this pacing gig after all.

The post race celebration featured the usual bagels, bananas, oranges, gatorade, etc., but also included pizza and pasta from Mamma Lucia's! Gotta love good pasta right after a run. I ran into Damon and Erica, two fellow skydivers I've known for years. Damon was actually one of my instructors when I first started learning to jump, so it's always funny to see him outside of the dropzone. Metro cards were handed out to all racers and we all packed into the Metro cars and made our way back to the Rockville station. What a hot, sweaty mess that was! I feel bad for anyone that had to ride in those cars once we got off. Oh well! Parks Half-Marathon completed, and my first time as a pacer was a success.

More pictures from the race can be found here. If I find ones from elsewhere on the course I'll post them too.

UPDATE: Pictures available on the MCRRC photo site.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Running in Cali

Sun setting at "The Dish"

I ended up at Stanford University for a conference late last week. Work paying me to take a trip out to Cali? Sure thing! I did some research, and not wanting to drive to my runs I found a local spot called "The Dish" that is apparently a big running spot for those in the Palo Alto area. I found a route on mapmyrun.com that started near my hotel and made its way through the Dish, uploaded it to my Garmin 305, and was on my way.

...or so I thought. When I went out for my 12-miler Thursday evening, things just didn't seem to be working out. First off, I couldn't figure out how to work the navigation function on my Garmin. It was my first time attempting to use this feature and I really should have played with it on routes I know back at home, I just didn't have time to do so before my trip, so I ended up winging it with my directions. Luckily I had studied the map a little bit and carried a map with me. As I plodded along I soon realized I had eaten too much and too recently due to the big late lunch we got at the conference. (My bad, that would be my inner fat kid coming out). This led me to feel full and heavy with every footstep - not a comfortable feeling. Add that feeling to the 95 degree heat with bone dry air (I'm used to running with a bit of moisture in the air), and I wasn't feeling too hot (no pun intended).

...then I got lost. I thought I studied the map and knew where I was going?! Apparently not, so out comes the map and I figure out where I made the wrong turn. I eventually make it to the Dish and think "ok finally I'm not fighting with the traffic of cars, just other runners". Then I hit the hills. Holy hell! ~500' of elevation gain over a mile... doesn't sound like too much, does it? Well, it was tough. Really tough. One section had a 18% elevation gain, needless to say I walked that section. In the end, I survived. Barely, but in one piece.

The awesome hills (note sarcasm)

Friday's 7-miler was better. I drove to the Dish and ran 2 loops. Not as full of a stomach either, but it was still hot and dry.

Rolling hills

Saturday was the best of the Stanford runs. Got out early before the heat hit (in the 60s and 70s most of the run) and ran from the hotel out to the Dish, did 3 loops and headed back for a total of 16.2 miles (10 shy of a marathon - darn so close). I even got to see the sun rise over the mountains, what a sight!

So long Cali. Thanks for the hill-work!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Another day at the "office"

Being the busy-bee I am, after logging a solid 20-mile run Saturday morning with my group and another 10.5 on Sunday morning on the Greenbelt trails, I headed to work and spent Labor Day at the Delaware office.

Lucky for me the Delaware office is at 13,500ft! Here are some shots from one of my tandem jumps this weekend. Enjoy!