Friday, October 28, 2011

Soaring Wings Virtual Half Marathon-Cedar Rapids

The Soaring Wings Half Marathon is held in Conway Arkansas to benefit the Soaring Wings Ranch childrens home. The cool thing about this event is that they give runners an option to register and run a virtual marathon without ever being in Conway. Once you send them proof you finished your own Half Marathon they send you a shirt and a finishers medal.

This is the farthest race I have run since the Dances with Dirt UltraMarathon I did back in July. I was planning on running the New Bo Fest Half marathon in September but due to a foot injury I didn't run the entire month of August so those plans were scratched. I saw this virtual race option on the internet and since I wanted to get one more long race in this season it was perfect.

So race day dawned crisp and sunny with a light wind and about 41 degrees, I took a vacation day from work so I slept in until 0800 when my youngest informed me he had overslept and missed the school bus. So I quick put on my running clothes and drove him to school. Once I got back I grabbed a banana and my water bottles and started out. I had decided to run a general route but my actual route was going to be somewhat of a mystery. I figured I would just run a big loop and at the end make up any distance needed. That plan actually worked out well. I also decided to take my time and take plenty of pictures.

I started out running part of a familiar route down 33rd Avenue heading east. I kept running down 33rd until it T intersected with Bowling street at about 3 miles.

I live on the edge of Cedar Rapids which is a town of over 200,000, so my route would take me through farm land and urban areas. I then turned north on Bowling and headed up the first of two steep hills. This hill was about a mile long and was actually divided into two parts with a flat area in between. At the top of the hill I turned east again, running along Wilson Ave and then C St until I hooked up with the Cedar Valley Nature Trail and once again headed north.
At about 7 miles I was still feeling pretty good, staying well hydrated. I stopped for a minute on the 15th Avenue bridge and then headed into the downtown area. I turned west on 3rd Ave and then zigzaged my way to 1st Ave still heading west. About mile 9 I hit the second steep hill, I was starting to get a little fatigued at this point so this hill wasn't as easy as the first.

At the top of the hill I headed south running past Kingston Stadium, Veterans Memorial Baseball Stadium, and the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. I stopped and synchronized my iphone imapmyrun app and my Forerunner GPS at this point. The iphone said I had run 11.09 miles by now and the GPS said 10.23. Since the iphone also said I had run 6 minute miles yesterday I went with the distance off the GPS.

I was on the home stretch, I contiuend south on Rockford Road then and quick jog west on Wilson again and then a turn south on 18th St. I was now back out in the somewhat rural area although new housing developments are taking over the cornfields at a rapid pace.

At 12 miles I once again hit 33rd Ave this time heading west until I got back to my neighborhood. I had guessed pretty good on the distance so I only had to take a little extra trip around the block to make up the last 3/10ths of a mile to finish at my front door at exactly 13.1 miles.

This was not a PR by any means. But all and all a good run/race and a great start to the morningf.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Muddy Monster 15K Cross Country Run

I had been wanting to run this race for a few years but my schedule just never seemed to work out. It is a unique race for the area as it is run entirely on grass or dirt roads. I really enjoy trail runs so I thought I would give it a try.

After the usual pre race hydration ritual of a an energy drink I showed up for packet pickup. The race is held at Seminole Valley park which the city maintains with a historic village and farm. The race course winds through both of these as well as the park. I was required to park about a 10 minute walk from packet pickup in the grass. There was no designated parking lot so I parked along the roped off area and walked over to packet pickup to grab my timing chip and goody bag. The goody bag for this race is better than some I have seen with lots of snack bars and some coupons I might actually use.

It was pretty chilly at that point and I was wearing my stocking hat and coat
I was also wearing my running pants as the temperature was about 30 degrees. I would regret this later. So about 30 minutes before racetime I ambled over to the starting line and took about a mile warmup run. I started to regret my clothing decision almost immediately. By the time I ran that 1 mile I was already overheating. When I arrived back at the starting line I saw a couple of friends and fellow runners Kris and Brian. We talked for awhile then the National Anthem was played and we all lined up for the start.

I had taken my jacket and stocking hat off and was carrying them in my hand. I figured I could toss them under my car as the course passed that way. Once the gun sounded I took off at a moderate pace. My goal was to use this as a training run to put a few more miles in for the week. So I was shooting for 10 minute miles. I saw Brian take off up ahead of me and kind of kept my eye on him. The course was  3 laps of a 5 K route. There was quite a few 5K runners so the course was quite congested at the start. We ran through the grass by the car parking area and I tossed my jacket under my car, shortly after that we turned north and hit a small trail. The lead 5K speedsters passed me going the other way at this point. The trail dumped onto the access road that circled the living history village and we ran the perimeter of the village and headed back south on the same trail.
After coming back out into the park itself we hit the grass, running past the finish line and up a slight hill. We then ran about a mile east strictly on grass. About halfway through this section there was a large muddy and watery low spot. I tried three different techniques crossing this area during the race. I went to the left,I went to the right, and I ran straight through. No technique was better than the other. After the muddy area we headed down hill and hit a dirt road than continued east and then looped back on itself. It was during this section that I caught up with Brian and passed him, then about .5 miles down the road he passed me
We kept up with this back in forth for a few minutes then by mutual agreement started to run together. We crossed the start line and completed the first lap in 29:11. Lap 2 was more of the same with the exception that there were quite a bit fewer runners since the 5K runners had turned towards the finish. Brian and I ran at a steady pass holding a conversation for most of Lap 2. Somewhere on the dirt road section the lead 15K runners lapped us but we kept our steady pace. We finished Lap 2 in 1:00:05.

At the start of Lap 3 I was really regretting wearing my running pants as the temp had climbed to about 60 degrees. I was also feeling the reality of not running over 6 miles in the last 2 months. My legs were beginning to wear down and I was struggling a bit. As we looped through the historic village for the third time Brian started to pull away from me. I let him go as I just tried to maintain the current pace. Eventually he would finish a little over a minute ahead of me. I concentrated on trying to keep my pace under 10 minute miles. By the time I hit the dirt road on the return I was broiling and my legs felt like lead. I could see the finish line in the distance and I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Turning off the course towards the finish I was just concentrating on keeping my head up and powering through. Crossing the finish line at 1:30:47 I had managed a 9:47 minute per mile pace for the 9.3 miles. Decent effort although it wasn't as easy as it is some days. I also may be postponing that 13.1 mile run i had planned for tomorrow.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

NREMT-I Written Exam

This post has been a long time in coming. I took the Emergency Medical Technician Intermediate course  from October  2010 to March 2011.  Once I passed the class I took and passed my National Registry practical (hands on) exam. I posted about that back in April .

So I was on a roll and apparently over confident. I scheduled myself for the written test in April but I didn't bother to study. My first attempt at this test was a dismal failure I failed to achieve a passing score on any of the 5 sections. This was a wake up call, I can literally count on one hand how many exams I have not passed in my life. Well ,plus 1one.

So I procrastinated a bit and then scheduled another try in July. I studied but due to the fact that failure was unfamiliar to me I apparently suck at that as well. I failed again because I did not pass 2 out of the 5 sections. This test was becoming Moby Dick to my Captain Ahab.

Meanwhile I had a chance to attend the Advanced EMT course at no cost, so I jumped on it. I figured if I eventually passed the Intermediate test it would be an easy bridge to AEMT and if I didn't then I would go directly to Advanced EMT. So the Intermediate test was put on the back burner. That is until I discovered that if I passed the test I would not be required to complete all the clinicals for AEMT. This was huge as time is almost more precious than money to me. It would also save me from being required to take 2 days of vacition to get some of the clinicals done.

So in October I once again scheduled myself for the written test. This was my third and final chance. If I failed it this time I would be required to finish all the clinical time as well as I would have to attend a 36 hour refresher course before being allowed to attempt the test for a 4th time. Lots was riding on this. Two days before the test I studied harder than I had studied for any test lately to include all the tests i took during my graduate studies.

The night before the test I was working an overnight shift at one of the ambulance services I run with. Although it was a quiet night I didn't get much shut eye. So I was anything but well rested the next morning. I showed up to the testing location for my test and started the check in procedure. These testing locations are tighter than Ft Knox. You have to check in with two goverment issued picture ID, then they take a biometric palm scan and your picture.. You have to empty all your pockets, take off all watches and bracelets. This stuff gets locked in a locker. Then you have to walk down a hallway and check in to the actual testing room. They take another palm print and verify your ID again. They have you turn out your pockets to prove they are empty and they give you any test materials or note taking items you may be allowed to have. Each individual computer has its own individual pan tilt zoom camera looking down on your testing cubicle.

The National Registry tests are "adaptive", which means it starts out hard then keeps asking you questions based on the previous level you answered until it is satisfied you know the material. It could stop at 65 questions or go to 135. It's a crap shoot, also even though I had taken the test 2 other times it was not like taking the same test 3 times, it was like taking 3 different tests.

Well I started answering questions and as before, some I knew for sure and some I thought I knew and some I had no idea. I mean who needs to know if an ambulance with a detached cab is a type II or III? The question count kept climbing and eventually I got to the maximum of 135 and the test shut off. This could mean good news or bad news, I did not walk out to the test facility with a warm and fuzzy feeling. I had no idea how I did.

For the rest of the day I was afraid to check the NREMT website to see if  the results were posted. Finally about 1400 I pulled the website up and held my breath as I entered my name. Low and behold the words congratulations and successful were attached to my name. Well I was on cloud nine, my attention span was short for the rest of the day to say the least. I had killed Moby Dick!!!

So mission accomplished and now my focus has shifted to passing the AEMT course and National Registry in December. Stay tuned for updates.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Sparrow

Tomorrow is my Wife's Birthday. She is the best. I think I said it all last year in this post.

Thanks Sparrow for another great year. Love You