Monday, September 19, 2011


Yesterday morning I enjoyed a cool morning run in Rock Creek Park where I witnessed for the first time this September a flock of starlings migrating south in anticipation of winter.  Nothing says fall has arrived more to me than the beautiful sight and deafening sounds of thousands of black birds flying over head and trampling through the trees and forest floor.  I hope to catch more sightings in the next few weeks before the starlings have all but traveled through.  I have always enjoyed their arrival and remember well the Septembers and Octobers of my youth watching them pass through while playing, working or hunting in the woods behind our family's home.  Yes, fall is definitely here.  Fall means change.  The biggest change for me and Gaby this fall is that we’re moving south across the Potomac River to Virginia, my original home state, and to the town of Charlottesville, located a 2.5 hour south westerly drive from downtown Washington D.C.
Moving to Charlottesville has been on our radar for some time and now that the time is near the excitement is growing.  There is still much work to do before we send our change-of-address notification to the Post Office but I have always found satisfaction in work, especially when the fruits of labor is immediately tangible.  Knowing that my window will eventually look out over a lush green mountain with- pardon the pun- an orchard on top of it, versus a noisy street, gives me all the motivation I need.
Speaking of Charlottesville, this weekend is UROC and Gaby and I are very excited to attend as volunteers.  A 5.5 hour run with Gill in the Shenandoah just west of town on Saturday afforded me plenty of listening opportunity to hear about all of the hard work he and Francesca have put into the race.  UROC definitely seems like something shiny and new.  It is my feeling that the runners, volunteers and spectators, both in person and online, will witness something special.  I’m pumped up to be there.  And I’m pumped up that this race is happening in my future back yard.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Branding. Gotta love it!

Photos taken at the World 100k...  
WUS.  Wardian, Sproston, Woods.

Up close and personal with Amy.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Rain. Rain.

The volume of rain falling over the Mid Atlantic seaboard these past few days serves as a double edged sword in many respects.  On one hand, the trees and plants are happy.  They’re healthy, green all over and it is nice to see.  However, from my perspective, as much as I enjoy running in the rain the thought of leaving the house early in the morning in the cold and rain never exactly lights my fires.  Nor does the thought of the ground becoming heavily water logged due to all the rain and we’re suddenly book-ended by another hurricane with heavy winds, pushing over trees on to houses, cars, streets and power lines- this would be a nightmare.  Early last week, on Monday- my first full day home from Colorado- on a run in Rock Creek Park I studied the fell trees, casualties of Hurricane Irene.  Fortunately, the damage appeared minimal and I barely had to negotiate new trail space around fallen debris.  I was however struck by the size of many defunded red oak acorns, littered over some of the trails.  In Rock Creek Park lives many beautiful red oak trees and they generally produce tons of acorns.  The unusal thing about some of these particular acorns were their size- they were huge.  Double the size I am accustomed to seeing.  What does this spell for winter?  Cold temperatures?  Nothing at all?  I am not that big into folklore so who knows.  All of this rain, however, I think, does spell something.  Something good- I am sure of it.
The trees are filled with large leaves and large volumes of leaves.  This means color.  Lot’s and lot’s of color soon to come our way.  Moreover, this means scenic running and other outdoor activity conditions come late September all the way through early November.  This rain will end soon enough and for the short term inconveniences it is causing- like nasty driving conditions- the reward will be worth it come foliage time.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

On and on we go

Finally checking out the Grindstone website tonight for a few minutes, sniffing out details on the next race.  What’s this?  Me, posting thoughts on the next race only days since the last one?  Yes, indeed.  You know how I roll.  Anyway, as I was saying, I was checking out the website and it’s hard not to get excited.  In fact, I should be in bed right now instead of drafting this post, demonstrating a small measure of said excitement.  Nothing like capping off a big summer of running with a final long, mountain race with a healthy dose of climbing.  This is apparently what Grindstone offers and this is exactly what I’m in the mood for.  Same as in ’09 and ’10 (both summers culminated with my running of Wasatch).  Virginia has its share of mountain ultras and they’re all very good in their own unique way.  Massanutten, of course, has the rocks, which absolutely kicks your ass.  What Grindstone lacks in rocky trails it makes up in long climbs.  Or so I hear, and so I read on the race elevation profile webpage.  Looks to me like the real race for the front runners will begin around mile 67 after a long 4k+ foot descent, straight down.  My plan (hope) is to catch the sunrise- after the 6pm start Friday- hopefully somewhere near the top of the next climb, on Lookout Mountain.  There will be two more climbs after Lookout, followed by a bump of a climb and then a final few miles of downhill running to the finish line at the totem pole.  Plenty of terrain-park style running to add some drama to any front runners still huddled up at that point.
Last year I blew out my legs at Western States early in the summer.  Same thing this year at Massanutten in May, only worse.  Last year at Western was more of a bonk, though.  Each race was my first 100 for the summer and I think my body just needs a warm up.  The legs came around well enough after Western last summer and I was bouncing down the steps only hours after the end of Wasatch a few months later.  The morning after Leadville a week and a half back, same thing.  And since Leadville I’ve enjoyed the best recovery ever after a 100 mile race.  Aside from a few days of general fatigue and remote sorness, which is to be expected, I only felt a twinge of tightness in my left calf muscle for a few days early last week, most of which occurred during a run up Vail’s North Trail with Gaby on Wednesday.  Hopefully by the time 6pm, Friday, October 7th rolls around the legs will be even more warmed up and ready for the 102 mile pounding, and 23,2k up and 23,2k down.  It’s going to be another blast racing in the Virginia Mountains, only this time in the cooler, fall environs.  Looking forward to capping off the Virginia Triple, to boot.