Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Tale of Three Halfs. Part Two.

     My second half was the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon.  Everyone has done this race once.  And everyone talks about how great it is.  The biggest difference is the size.  There were 1,200 runners.  I think that is my third biggest race I have ever been in.  I normally stay under 200 runners.
     When I got to the parking lot it was dark.  I saw people boarding buses, so I did.  They rode us to the starting area.  I got off the bus and looked around.  No registration tables.   Umm.... I looked at all the runners and they had bib numbers on.  Great I thought.  I boarded the next bus back to the parking lot several miles down the road.  It was now light out and I could see the registration set up. 
      Once I had my bib number it was back to the buses for me.  I do not know what it is about buses that make me get claustrophobic but I do.  Once back at the starting area I go in a huge line for the bathrooms.  It was cold.  It was windy.  And there was no warm car to get into.  There were so many people there that I could not find anyone I know.  Which is weird because I know a bunch of people running it.  My friend Tim came over and we talked for a bit before he did a warm up run.
      We were all starting to line up when they told us to move up closer.  Some lady looked at my tattoo and said "Us fast people need to move up".  I just looked at her like...whatever.  I'm not fast.    The first couple miles are on country roads.  As I was running a guy came up and started talking to me.  He was wearing the Boston Harvest Half Marathon shirt.  My race!  I have no idea who he is.  I meet a lot of people once...  So I do not always remember there name.

       After the country roads we were put on a rails to trails.  It was flat.  I was running okay until mile 10.  Then I just died.  I had nothing left.  I tried pushing though it.  At mile 11 an old guy came up and passed me.  Like old-old. I thought no way... I got right behind him and stuck like glue.  The faster he went.  The faster I went.  I followed him right up to the big hill and bridge at the finish.

       I was slow going up the hill.  On the bridge everyone was running slow.  There was traffic moving on one side.  I ran a little bit with the group then I saw the finish line.  I was like F-this.  I crossed the cones into traffic and flew past people.  Jumping back in after I got a good led.  I finished in 1:47:37.  Yes, just a hair faster then the half last weekend.

A Tale of Three Halfs. Part One.

     Last year my plan was to run 4 half marathons in October.  Life did not work out that way.  I was very lucky to do one half and finish.  This year I was determine to try again.  I could only find 3 halves that were with in driving distance.  So 3 it would be!
     Up first was the Mahoning Shadow Shuffle Half Marathon in Punxsutawney.  This was a rails to trails and mostly flat course.  On the drive up I got really sick.  I was not sure if I had a flu or just car sick.  Luckily it turned out to be car sick and I got better as I ran.  What?  You thought I wouldn't ran?  HA!
     I took it easy for the first 6.5 miles.  I did not want to burn out.  At the turn around I realized I might just be able to get in the top 10.  That made me run a little bit faster.  A few more miles down the road I came upon a runner who was walking then running really fast, then repeating.  I asked if he was okay.  He said that he was and that he had to run that way because of his knee.  I told him that he could take his time because he was going to finish under 2 hours.  That was my goal.  He said that at his pace he was going to get under 1:50.
     Well that means I can get under 1:50.  That was boost I needed.  I took off.  Each mile was a little bit faster.  I was hitting close to a 7 minute mile in mile 12.  I was so going to hurt tomorrow.  I finished in 1:47:52.  12th overall and 3rd in my age group.

Dirt Monster 3.0

     Today I did the Dirt Monster 5 mile race in North Park.  This is a very fun, very difficult trail run.  Last year I was on a coed team for the first time and I had a lot of fun.  My friend Mark, the race director of the FAAP 5k/10k, organized 4 teams this year for the North Park Trail Runners.  I was on Team Red.   There was also Blue, White, and Green.  I had custom shirts made for Team Red.

     I got to the race early as they were still setting up.  Quickly got my things and sat in the car to get warm.  Then I went to talk to Herb who was setting up the finish line.  While I was there my team captain Mark ran over.  He wanted to get his shirt.  He said that he was looking for a female to be on Team Green.  I saw my friend Allison and invited her to join in.

     The race started slow with a small hill then the pace picked up.  At the back end of mile 1 is a long tall hill.  It wears you down.  After that it is rolling hills and then a big down hill.  I picked up speed at this point.   Too much speed.  Once I was at the bottom of the hill I was running, instead of looking.  I don't know if I tripped or slipped.  But I fell hard and fast, face first.  I caught myself with my hands but the impact knocked the wind out of me.  This was at mile 2 of a 5 mile race.  Argh! 
     Both of my Red team mates were ahead of me and there wasn't much chance of me catching up.  I tried to hold ground but every hill was too much for me.   I got passed by person after person.  By mile 4 I was finally moving at a decent rate of speed.  But there was no one close to catch up to.  I finished in 44:52.  I was 4th in my age group, so no medal. 
     Team Red got 2nd in the overall race teams and 1st in the 4 North Park Trail Runner teams.  We got a medal for the 2nd place and a trophy for the 1st.

Trophy to be reused at other NPTR team events.
Best looking team.  Team RED!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

For the Love of Lindsey 5k, take 4.

     Not my favorite race.  Always too hot.  Four years, four 90 degree days.  WTF.  The race is growing on me.  I don't like that they only do top 2 in 10 year age groups.  But at least now I know so I don't have to wait around. 
     No sooner had I parked and started making my way across the lot when someone yelled "hey Mr. Brunazzi".  Which is kind of weird... I mean, I'm not a teacher and I'm not old.. Well I guess I am getting old. 
     I signed up and then ran into Chris B. & Emery S.  The race started a little bit a late because of a new kids race this year.  While I stood waiting for the start a girl said "hey, you blogged about this race, right.  I read it.  It was funny.  I totally agree with you".  Which is great, except...I don't remember what I
     My goal was to run the whole race.  No walking. No stopping.  As the race started some needed clouds rolled in taking the sun of our backs.  Didn't help with the humid though.  Somewhere along the course the top 4 runners missed a turn.   So part way through they rejoined from behind.  I thought they were doing a second lap of the course!
     I finished in 23:02.  Yes, I know if I would have ran just a little bit harder at the end...  Oh well, always next time.  I got 3rd in my age group.  No medal...grrr.

Brain Cancer Awareness 5k

     It is close to home.  That is what I kept telling myself at this weekend's race.  I guess it was my fault.  I expected a small race.  What I got was a circus.  This was the kind of race I would think should be in downtown Pittsburgh and labeled a "walk". 
     Parking was as far back as a mile from the race.  When I got to the end of the road there were a bunch of huge tents.  There were dogs (a lot of them), costumed characters, and little kid cheerleaders.  The huge tents were not registration, as most runners would think..."I say nay-nay".  Registration was in fact a little farther back in the woods at a shelter.  It was staffed by a ton of volunteers.  All of whom were happy to take my money but not sure what I should do with my now filled out registration form.  Five people later I was shown to the far back of the shelter where I was give a bib and chip. 
     I did not like this 5k.  The reason is because it was not a race.  It was a walk, that also had a running race.  The whole time it felt like the runners were a second thought to everything also going on.  And there was a lot going on.
     The course was the same hilly one from the 5k to Fight Decay.  The race director asked if I liked the tough course.  I answered with, "this is the third time I ran it".  The race director was the only one there that seemed to care about the runners.  I'm not sure if she had a hand in all the other stuff going on or it just got out of control. 
      There was too much humid and I crashed and burned.  25 minute + 5k.  BOO!!!   I did get 1st in my age group and a ribbon..... 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer Races in Review

     I have not written a post in two & half months.  Not because I have not been running & racing, I have been.  I just cut out a few things to spend more time with my daughter.  Now I am sitting here trying to figure out a way to write about nine different races.  "oy vey".

Summer Races in Review

Run for Alex
Course- 5 (awesome hill)
Stuff- 5 (I won a door prize two years in a row!  This year I won a tattoo)
Fun- 4 (it was too damn hot)

Alpha Fitness 5k
Course- 4 (love the trail, but it is an easy run)
Stuff- 3 (some dude won like 4 of the door prizes, FIXED!)
Fun- 3

Peace, Love, Run Half Marathon
Course- 3 (North Park Lake Loop, I've ran it soo many times)
Stuff- 4 (Tech shirt, finishers medal)
Fun- 3 (race was over priced)

Groundhog 5k
Course- 4 (Seems easy, but it's NOT!)
Stuff- 4 (cool medals, but I didn't win one)
Fun- 5 (Fair, bands, food!!)

Ellwood City 10k
Course- 4 (hills)
Stuff- 3 (I'm wearing their shirt right now)
Fun- 4 (Craft show, music, fair food!!)

Race to the Moon 5 mile
Course- 5 (it is at NIGHT)
Stuff- 4
Fun- 5

5k to Fight Decay
Course- 4 (a lot of hills)
Stuff- 3 (white cotton shirt w/weird tooth)
Fun- 3

Herb's Hayride Lap Race
Course- 5 (there was some mud...)
Stuff- 4 (tractor trophy)
Fun- 4 (I had to leave before the corn roast & food)


P&LE Express 4 mile (this is one of MY races)
Course- 4 (trail is great, but flat)
Stuff- 5 (tech shirts, everyone got a medal)
Fun- 4



Sunday, June 1, 2014

Warrior 5k

     Today was a cross country 5k at my local high school.  It felt weird being there.  Nothing has changed in 15 years.  I signed up for a whole bunch of races to help motivate myself.  This was one of them.  Honestly if I would not have paid, I probably would have stayed home.  I did not feel like racing today.  I worked nine days in a row and all I wanted to do was sleep.  But it is a good thing that I went,  I need to get out of the house more.

      The race started as a lap and a quarter around the track and then went up a long hill.  From there it was around the old Nike site, back down part of the hill, and a hard left toward the baseball field.  After going around the baseball field and half of the high school parking lot, you went the full lap around the high school.  Then when you got back to the beginning hill, ran down to the track, did one and a quarter more laps and then...ran across the football field to the finish line.  Sound Confusing?  It was for some.
      I went out too fast on the track and got over heated.  I ran the race in my Warrior Dash helmet which did not help keep me cool.  I finished in 23:45.    

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Blairsville 5k

   Happy Memorial Day.
   I had a 5k on Saturday and decided to do another today.  I figured my legs would be shot, but I still needed to do my training run so why not do it with people.  I did this race last year.  It is a good race, not too far away, not too expensive.  I am not sure why they do not get a bigger turn out.
   The race starts with a down hill.  I decided to just let my legs do what then felt like.  Meaning I was not going to try and race or stare at my Garmin for my pace.  I thought I was running a good 24 minute 5k, nothing great.  Around the first mile the two people in front of me, who were Indiana County Road Runners, started to slow down and I zoomed passed them.  I guessed that I was in the top 10 of probably like 40-50 people.

    I do not know why, but I like running bunny hills.  The quick up and downs break up the boring flat course.  The middle of this course was flat.  I started to pick up the pace going down a hill at about 2.3 or 2.4 (guessing) then shot back up the hill passing a guy who asked me if the race was almost over.  I replied, "up the hill, then left, then left, then left, then threw the shoot".  I think he took it as meaning no it was not close.  But it was.  I beat him and finished in 4th place with a time of 22:15.  That is the fastest that I have done two races in a weekend or 3 day period.

St Ursula 5k

     Apparently this race was not where I thought it was going to be.  I drove to the boathouse in North Park and found no race.  At first I thought that maybe I had the wrong day or time, but then I remembered that sometimes the races are held up at the pool.  Thankfully it was there or else I would have wasted gas.
     This was a nice small race.  They had extra shirts so I was able to get one in my size.  Which is always nice  Since there was no one there that I knew, I decide to go for a warm up run instead of staring into space.  A quick jog and I really felt good.  It was going to be a good run.
     There were a lot of kids in the front of the pack when the horn sounded.  By a quarter mile they were dropping like flies.  I moved up to 5th place which I held on and off for most of the race.  The race was two loops.  For most of the race there really wasn't anyone around me.  It made it a little bit boring.

     The first mile was a good 6:40, the second was 8 flat.  I was falling apart.  I knew that I needed to pick it up.  At this point a guy passed me.  That was the motivation that I needed.  I passed him.   He passed me.  This went on several times before I finally got a good lead on him.
     I finished in 21:58.  That is the best 5k time this year.

Training Note:
     For two weeks I have been picking up my running.  I went from 4-6 miles a week to close to 30 a week.  I really fell apart when my dad passed away.  Running was the last thing on my mind and really the hardest thing to make myself do.  It feels great to be back in shape again.  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

West Newton 10k

     The morning of the race I was planning on running the 5k.  Last year if you remember I ran both the 5k and 10k.  There was no option of that this time.  I wasn't really sure if I could do a 10k, but when I saw that the price was the same for both distances...  I went with the 10k.
     As I was signing in, I saw the race director volunteer himself to hand out timing chips.  I thought to myself, that's not going to work...  I walked back to the car to get my water bottle, then back to the registration.  I stood back and watched for a minute.
     The director kept getting asked questions by volunteers and runners, finally I stepped in and offer to hand out the timing chips.  He agreed to let me.

     Before the race I was feeling pretty good.  I just wanted to be able to finish the race.  I started out slow and focused on my pace.  The 5k and 10k ran out together, so I had no idea who I was running against.  Not that it mattered, really. 

     The last two miles of the race I was going back and forth with 3 people.  I ended up passing all of them before the finish.  I ended with a time on 52:29 and 18th place. 

     I have to start running more.  I need to get back to my time/pace.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Greater Allegheny 5k

     This race was a huge let down.  I had heard some bad things about this race in the past from friends.  But since it was the 4th year for it, I thought they would have all the bugs worked out.

Things that I liked about this race:
-It was not a far drive. 10 minutes.
-My time improved from the last 5k.  (22:55)
-girl at the registration was cute

Things that I didn't like:
-Car on the closed course with an upset driver
-the only awards were for the top male and female
-no age groups awards
-they started pulling the raffle tickets before the walkers were finished.

     The course was so-so.  Needed volunteers to keep the cars off the course or to let them off the course if they got there.  Race was priced too high for what you got. 
     I had a good run.  I focused on pacing myself this time.  I showed a big improvement from the week before.  There were not a lot of runners there.  I know that I finished 12th overall, but the results are not posted yet. 
     I guess all in all, I expected a better organized race.  Would I run it again?  Maybe.  They might just improve it.

Boston Trail 5k

     I have not raced since my dad passed away.  I wanted to start again, but I have not been running much.  Once a week, if that.  I signed myself about for two close races.  I figured if I paid, I would be more likely to go.
      The first race was the Boston Trail 5k.  I was not really in to it.  The weather was pretty nice and there were a lot of people there.  I started out like I had never quit running.  I burned out fast.  I figured this was going to be a 25 minute 5k.  Each mile was harder to finish and took more time.  I was not trying hard enough.   I finished in 33rd place with a time of 24:01.  That is better than 25, right?
      I really would have liked to do the half marathon at this race, but there was no way I could have done it in the shape I was in. 
I registered the week before, so I didn't get a shirt.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Polar Vortex 5k

     I knew that I wanted to do a spring 5k.  I did not know when or for what.  Then a tragic accident happened near McKeesport High School.  I just knew this was what I need to do a run for.  My sister works at the high school and helped get the word out about the race.
     The night before the race, I could not sleep.  I was nervous.  When I did finally shut my eyes I was awoken by fire truck, and then another.  There was, as you may have guessed, a fire up the street.  It was 2 am.  I was now wide awake.
      In the middle of race planning my dad died.  It was awful.  But it is a part of life.  The race must go on, right?  It was good that I had the race to focus my thoughts on.  It kept me busy.  Dad always told me when something was bothering me, "You need to stay busy, keeps your mind off it".  Okay, so really he was yelling it...  But you can not hear it the way I remember it.
      At 4:30 am I was loading the trucks, alone, with the food, Gatorade, and a few other just in case items.  All the other stuff was loaded the day before by volunteers.  At 5 am I was down by the river, it was 24 degrees.  I put on my head lamp and started unloading.  It is amazing how much stuff we were able to get into two trucks. 
       I was setting up tables when people started showing up.  Runners? nope.  Volunteers? nope.  Navy soldiers there to drill?  yes.  Argh.  What amounted to two companies of Navy soldiers showed up and filled the parking lots.  They would at least be gone from the parking lots before the race.  One of my volunteers came at 6:30am with bananas, coffee, and donuts.  We loaded the water stop in his vehicle and he left to set it up.  I had the registration finished by the time the rest of the volunteers came.  All they needed to do was go to their spot and wait for the runners.  Most of them had volunteered at other Team Brunazzi Events. 
      The music and then the timing company showed up and so did the runners.  It was starting to get busy fast.  I stood off to the side and waiting for any problems to come up.  None did.  All the planning was coming together.  I talked with a few people and got my photo taken.  I thought about running in the race, but without sleep it would not have been good.
      I said a few words and then started the race.  140 runners and walkers.  That is better then 35-50, right??  After handing out kid's medals for a while, I moved up and ripped off bib numbers, so the timers could get started typing in the results.  Everything was going fine and the weather was warming up quickly.
      In the end we raised $2,975 for the family of the tragic accident.  Which was pretty awesome in only a month. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Frostbite 5k

     Since I'm addicted to running, I decided to race with the ribs that I bruised last weekend.  There is a fine line between dedication and stupidity.  I run on that line. On and by the way, no photos.  I forgot my phone.
     I arrived at the race an hour before the start.  The lot was already getting full so I parked down the road and walked up.  The registration was on the bottom level of the Rose barn.  It was.. one big line for pick up and race day sign up.  It was a mess.  30-35 people deep in one line.  When you get to the front of the line the pick up was divided by the alphabet in half..."by your first name".  I left the line after waiting 15 minutes and just walked over to the race day sign up.  There were too many people and too little space.  I was starting to freak out. 
     Signing up was on half sheets of paper.  This makes it hard to fill in and hard to hold in place.  Saves a few cents though...right?  No extra shirts at this point.  Not that I need any  I got my timing chip from Bonnie, then made my way to the restroom.  I went back to the car and downed a GU energy gel.  Sat for a few minutes and wondered why I do this to myself.  This was going to hurt.  No way around it.  I took my coat off, locked the car, and made my way to the starting area.
     I got to the finish line first.  Talked to Herb for a minute.  He was going to open a gate part way out on the course.  I volunteered to take care of it.  
     I walked around for a bit.  Now it was about ten minutes before the start at 10am.  Only a handful of runners were there.  Where was everyone??  I could see them walking into the boathouse parking lot and then they stopped.  They were doing some kind of speeches.  I hoped it wouldn't take long.  It was cold.  I talked to two guys who started racing in April of last year.  This was their 4th or 5th race.  I don't remember which.
     Twenty minutes later it was time to start.  One of the local new stations were there with a camera filming the start.  Maybe I was on TV? 
     I did the best I could.  The two ribs were hurting.  I got to the turn around and walked for a few seconds.  Put my hands over my head and started running again.  I kept running and walking.  I probably walked four times.  I had to.  I was guessing I was at 24 or 25 minutes.  I finished in 22:55.  Not bad.  I got 20th place and 6th in my age group.  No medal.
     After the race I helped Herb take off timing chips.  When the results for the first 250 people were done, I walked them over to the Rose barn and taped them up on the wall.  I told the DJ there to tell people about the results and I decided to head home.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Kittanning Rotary Winterfest 5k

     Ashlyn got a cold.  While I  was taking care of her, I knew that I was going to get her cold.  I did.  Only I got it worse.  The cold lasted a week and a half.  Toward the end of the cold I decided to run a race.  I was finally training again without shin pain and the cold stopped me.  I can't run if I can't breath.
     I drove up to Kittanning for what I believe is my 6th race there.  Same place, same course, always fun.  The YMCA up there puts on great races.  There was not many people there, maybe 30.  I guess the weather scared them off.  It was actually nice that day.  Sunny and 40.  The trail was snow and ice covered so it would be slow going.
     I was there to run with a group not race.  I told this to myself a couple times.  When the race started no one took off fast.  No leader.  There was 4 or 5 of us all running the same pace.  The race starts on the road, so this is a good time to pull out in front.   I took the lead and held it until the turn around.  But something wasn't right!  I ran a little more than stepped to the side and let two runners ahead of me.  I couldn't breath through my nose because of the cold.   I was sucking in air through my mouth coughing the whole time.

     I finished in 3rd place.  Could I have won?  I don't think so, but I would have made them work harder for the win.  When I finished the race the coughing was worse...and worse.  A few hours later at home.  My chest hurt.  Seems I bruised a few ribs.  :o(  The pain is "oh my god" bad.  The only thing that I can do for it is sit around, and that just doesn't happen.  I'm a always has to be working on something person and a single parent.  There is no down time or sick time. 
     Once I get better I'm excited to race again.  Any race suggestions?  I'd like to try new ones.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Harmony 5k/Run to Read Marathon/Shin Splints

     Where have I been?  Well I got shin splints and had to stop running for a while.  I had been having some pain but was not sure what it was from. 

     When I ran the Harmony Silvester 5k on New Years Eve I made it two miles when my shins started to really hurt.  I walked and ran the last mile to a 22:36 finish.  Not bad, but I was on pace to finish in 21+.

     A few days later I was at the Read to Run Half Marathon.  This time I only got in a mile before the pain started.  I tried to run through it.  It just got worse.  At mile 5 I made the decision to quit the race.  I hated to do it.  But this way I would not do anymore damage to my legs.

     I started running again this week.
4 miles
4.5 miles
4 miles
7.5 miles
     Pretty good runs with no pain.  It feels good to be back.  I missed running a lot, but I had to take care of my body.
     In other running news, my gear for Team Emerg-C came in.  It is...bright.  I love it!  Also GU energy gels is again a sponsor of Team Brunazzi for 2014!