Thursday, July 25, 2013

Daily Metal

It is no secret I am a fan of Heavy Metal or just plain Metal music. I was in high school,and started my military career during the early 1980's in the era of "hair bands." I continued to listen to metal and have developed some favorite songs I could listen to over and over. I post an almost daily video on my Tumblr account ( ) I like to call "Daily Metal". Below are my 5 favorite videos. These are videos that I could watch back to back to back. So in no particular order:

Kid Rock: This is the Early Morning Stone Pimp Rock not the Sheryl Crow Rock

Slipknot: Good old Iowa Boys with some funny masks

Metallica: So many good songs but this is my favorite

Metal Church: One of the best uses of the "metal scream" I have ever heard

Rammstein: They are German, They are metal and they sing one hell of a ballad

These are my favorite videos and not necessarily my favorite bands although I like them all. I could go for days naming other songs but you get the idea. Rock on fellow babies!!!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Team Red White and Blue

About a year ago I was doing a trail run on my local trails. As usual I was listening to a podcast about trail running and the guest was former Western States 100 mile champion and current US Army Special Forces MSG Mike Morton. Morton and I have a lot in common, we both are MSG in Special Forces ( I am retired, he is not) and we both like to run long distances ( I am slow, he is not). So I was interested in what he had to say. He mentioned he was an ambassador for an organization called Team Red White and Blue and that they were conducting a trail running camp in Texas. The more he talked about it the more it sounded interesting.

When I got back home I checked out the website . Team Red White and Blue is an organization whose mission statement is as follows :

Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.

This was right up my alley. I signed up and in no time I got my free Team RWB technical shirt. I started wearing my shirt to local races. I started seeing more and more evidence of  Team RWB's involvement in athletics and veterans affairs. At the Boston Marathon bombing there was Team RWB lending assistance and aid. At a 50 mile ultra marathon I ran, there was Team RWB "rocking the eagle."

Eventually I was talking to a few of my ultra running friends and discovered they had independently also discovered Team RWB. We decided to start a local chapter. We are in the growth stage but we are committed. We love athletics and we are veterans, children of veterans, spouses of veterans or those who want to enrich the lives of veterans. Check out our Facebook page Team RWB Cedar Rapids/Iowa City or get involved in your local chapter. Team RWB chapters are springing up all over the country. Spread the word and Rock the Eagle!!!!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Psycho Psummer 50K 2013

Four of us made the trip from Iowa down to the Kansas City area to participate in the Psycho Psummer 50K in Wyandotte Lake County Park. This race was part of the trail race series put on by the local running group the TrailNerds. We left Friday afternoon made the 5 hour drive to packet pickup and settled into our hotel room to get some rest. Brian was running his first ultra and he was nervous to say the least. Ross and myself had a good time teasing him.

Bright and early we woke up and made our way to the start line. We had to grab a shuttle acrossed the street from the hotel but it was fairly painless. We arrived about an hour early and I spent the time doing what I do and taking pictures on my phone.

 The 50K race consisted of three loops around the lake. There was also a 10 mile and 20 mile option. We had been warned that the course was hilly and challenging but more on that later. Brian, Ross and myself were doing the 50K, Casey was doing the 20 mile and Ross's Mom was doing the 10 mile. It promised to be a great day. Eventually the RD grabbed the megaphone and we all lined up for the start. Short announcements were given and then we were off. We started off running acrossed some grass for about 500 yards until we hit the first small hill and turned left into the woods. 90% of the course was on horse trails,singletrack and mountain bike trails. There was only about quarter mile of pavement we had to use to cross the dam at the 6 mile point. Brian, Casey and I ran together until the first hill and then we all settled into our own pace. The traditional ultra conga line formed for the first few miles and I would run behind people for most of the first 10 miles. I don't really like that as I can't see what is coming up so without being rude I tried to pass people so at least I was in front of the pain train.

Aid stations where plentiful both manned and unmanned. Actually I made myself skip some so as not to waste too much time. I resolved to only stop at the manned aid stations and then not even all of those. I subsisted most of the day on ice water, oranges and watermelon.Although I was carrying them I didn't ingest 1 GU all day, which was a win for me. I ran the first loop not knowing what to expect. Mentally I ended up dividing the course up into 3 sections. Overall it was constantly rolling and hills but some hills were steeper and rockier than others. The first 1/3 was fairly non technical single track with shade, and the occasionally rocky hill. The second 1/3 was a constant up and down of rolling and twisty single track that I thought of as the "mountain bike" section because while it wasn't very rooty or rocky it was slanted and conformed to the sides of the ridge lines. You always felt like you were running trying to keep from falling down the hill.The last 1/3 was the killer. Steep, rocky hill after steep, rocky hill. Your heart was in your chest even walking these bad boys. All of  this was interspersed with a few open meadows and that short road section as you crossed the dam.

So the first lap went fairly well and I finished it in 2:05. During the second lap it started getting hot and it would remain that way. The second lap seemed to go by fast, however it actually took me 20 minutes longer. The hills and heat were starting to affect my performance. About a mile before finishing my second lap the race leader flew by me with a " strong work" comment. I was like, "thank you small fast female person." She couldn't have weighed more than 100 pounds and she looked to be about 12 years old. I later found out she was 26 and an US Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier. No matter how you slice it she was fast.

The third lap was the worst as could be expected. It was hot and it seemed like I was crawling. Hills I had ran up on the first lap I was now walking with hands on hips. I was still moving forward fairly strong but it was tough. At each of the last three hills I kept telling myself that this hill had to be the last one. Eventually I came out on the meadow prior to the finish and knew I only had about 100 meters to go. Down a rocky section and I crossed the finish line in 7:22:28. This was about 2 hours slower than my 50K PR but was consistent with the times I had seen for this course. There was some confusion with my time because my chip had malfunctioned but I got that straightened out eventually. Ross had finished in 5th place and both Casey and Ross's Mom had finished their races. Brian finished about 30 minutes behind me and became a first time ultra marathoner. All in all a good race and it was a good time. Definitely a challenge

Sunday, July 7, 2013

4th of July Firecracker 5K 2013 -Tipton Iowa

On the 4th of July Jay and I made the trip to Tipton about 40 miles away to run Jay's second 5K and the first that he had actually trained for. This past March he had previously run the We Run 5K in a time of 36:39. He didn't train for this race and did it on a whim. If you read my race report you can see he was hurting pretty bad. He had a lot of fun running with me on that race though and wanted to do another one. When he approached me with the idea I told him we would train for this one.

So we started the Couch 2 5K program. This is a popular program new runners use to get ready for the 5K distance. It starts with mostly walking interspersed with running. In the final week you finish with 3 runs of 30 minutes. I was very proud of Jay because he only missed 1 or 2 workouts and consistently got up early to run with me. My rule was unless he woke me up I wouldn't run and even though I was generally awake I never went and got him.

I picked this race in Tipton because it was within an hour's drive, was small and was on the actual 4th of July. There was a 5K in Cedar Rapids actually but it was way to big with hundreds of runners and I wanted him to have a more intimate experience. So we made the trip to Tipton.

We got up early as the race started at 0730. We ended up leaving the house at about 0600, stopped for the obligatory pre race Gatorade and Honey Bun at the convenience store and made the drive to Tipton. We arrived about 30 minutes before the race start and picked up our packets. This race was small enough they didn't even use numbers, we just got a tshirt and some flyers int he swag bag. Jay and I hung out until the race start. he even did some pre race visualization or took a nap I couldn't tell which.

At about 0725 we walked up the hill to the race start and toed the line. We started in the back. Basically the RD said "ready set go" and we all took off. My plan, although Jay didn't know it, was to have him run a PR. I told him I wasn't going to tell him how fast we were going but that he just needed to stay close enough to touch me at all times. I knew he had improved his fitness but I was there to help him get through the mental barriers. He wasn't used to pushing himself and needed a little outside motivation.

The course started out slightly downhill for about .25 miles then we took a left and headed south. This course turned out to be very friendly for a first time runner. I am not sure how they did it but it seemed like we ran flats or slightly downhill for most of the race. There were a few rolling hills but nothing too steep or too long. For the first mile Jay was chugging right along, talking but I could tell by his breathing he was putting out an effort. At that point I would call it an easy hard effort for him. I decided we would keep that pace for the race and see how he did. The first mile went by and when my Garmin beeped I looked down and saw we had ran the first  mile in 9:53. This was an aggressive pace for Jay but he looked like he was handling it ok. At about the 1 mile mark we took a right and headed west, running about 4 blocks then turning north again back towards the start line. Jay was starting to show signs of fatigue. About 1.5 miles into the race he was breathing hard and he asked if we could walk. I refused to comply and told him he had run farther than this before and to concentrate on his breathing. Once he figured out we weren't stopping he seemed to breath easier. As I suspected this race was going to be all mental for him.

We came up to a water stop somewhere between mile 1 and 2. I told Jay he could walk as long as he was drinking water. So he grabbed a cup and started walking. As he was drinking he threw up some water, I told him to put down the cup and start running again. In my head I was thinking he was working hard if he was throwing up, but today was about building mental toughness and there would be no mercy. Shortly before the 2 mile mark there was some confusion with the race course. The runners ahead of us took a right instead of heading straight as they should have. After stopping and hesitating for a few seconds Jay and I gambled and headed straight. We ended up being correct as we saw the 2 mile sign shortly ahead. Once we got to the sign we took a right and headed back east. We ran the second mile in about 10:23. Jay was really hurting at this point and was asking if we could walk a little. I again refused and even got a little drill sergeant on him and told him to "get in my hip pocket and man up!" After that he didn't ask to walk again and kept reaching out with his hand to see if he could touch me.

We took the last turn and headed south, this was slightly downhill and we could see the finish line which was on the high school track. Up to this point I hadn't told Jay how fast we were going. Once we saw the finish I told him " Dude if you can make it to the finish in 40 seconds you will be sub 30 minutes!" As I knew he did, he had a little left in the tank. He took off at a faster pace. The distance was just a little too far however and he finished in 30:35. However this was 6 minutes 4 seconds faster than his previous race!!! I told him after the race " You know I wasn't mad at you?" He nodded in the affirmative with a big grin on his face. I am very proud of his effort. Now we are going to focus on the Quad City marathon relay, in which he will be participating, running a 3 or 4 mile leg.