A 108 mile ride for Charity – Bike to the Beach –

Early morning, Friday July 29th, I along with approximately 350 others rode from Washington DC to Dewey Beach, Delaware for Bike to the Beach.   The Bike to the Beach is a fundraiser with donations given to Autism Speaks to aid in their tireless efforts to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders.   I thank everyone for donating to this cause on my personal fundraising page.    The fundraiser raised a total of $300,000 for this event and their New York ride that takes place annually as well.

The Ride:

We started at approximately 4:45 am and rode from Gonzaga HS to the World War II Memorial in Annapolis, MD for the first portion of the ride (33.8 miles).   A wave of riders took off, with lights shining, up North Capitol Street, pass New York Avenue, over Lincoln Road, and off to Bladensburg Road crossing the Anacostia River.    After arriving at the World War II Memorial, riders were greeted and welcomed with orange slices, drinks, and bagels with various spreads.   The bikes were placed in trucks and riders were taken across the Bay Bridge and Kent Narrows Bridge approximately 25 to 30 miles into Maryland and dropped off on Route 404.   An application of sunscreen and off we were on our way to Dewey Beach, only 73 more miles to go.

Aid stations were scattered throughout the course at approximate 10 to 15 mile intervals.  Each aid station had volunteer staff who cheered, gave ice bags, various gels, energy products, and water/gatorade/powerade to refill our water bottles.   Their also were cycling repair staff on site to fix any bike repairs needed on course (and apparently many needed this during their ride).

After 108 miles, I was ready to get off my bike and suck down any cold beverage I could get my hand on at North Beach!

I will do this ride again next year and encourage others too as well!

Tip of the day:

When riding a century, either during training, or for various charities, ride with friends!  Not only do they make great company, but you can use each other, to break the headwind, and maintain a pretty steady pace.  Ron B. and Courtney F. were my friends on this day!


An 8K race to benefit Wounded Warrior Project, Back on my Feet, and High Cloud Foundation

On Saturday evening May 21, 2011; DC Capital Striders Running Group organized an 8K foot race to benefit three charities. These charities included Wounded Warrior Project, Back on my Feet, and High Cloud Foundation.  Approximately 225 runners registered for the running group’s third annual 8k to support various charities.   Sponsors included Explosive Performance, The Running Company, Atayne Products, Lunar Massage, Chadwick’s Pub, Sirius XM Radio, and Seal Team PT.  Volunteers were provided by Back on my Feet and food/beverages were provided by High Cloud Foundation.  Timing services were provided by Jay Wind with Marathon Charity Cooperation.

Last May 2010, the group held it’s 2nd annual 8K race and raised $3500 for the American Red Cross International Disaster Relief Fund for Haiti.

About DC Capital Striders Running Group

Founded by Rick Amernick in spring 2006, the running group is a community of runners in Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland.   Runners  come together for group runs, annual races benefiting various charities, education and support, and social events.  The group makes a place for new runners and experienced athletes – out for fun and exercise, or training for races of all distances.

Current weekly runs are featured in Washington DC (Eastern Market; Stanton Park; Columbia Heights, Glover Park), and Virginia (Fairfax Corner, Belle Haven Park, Great Falls Park (Difficult Run), and Mclean VA.

We thank these running group leaders: Tom M., Jeff A., James B. Chris G., Evelyn L.; Ashleigh C., Lindsay M., Christine M., David R., Joe S., and Kirsten W.

Visit www.dccapitalstriders.com for more information on the running group and to visit the group’s weekly calendar of runs, seminars, and other social events.

A Sunday Morning Ride Through the Hills of Virginia

On Sunday morning, July 17th, I had the pleasure of riding with friends Kanch A., Vicki K, and Shari S.   I have ridden with these ladies before and they are strong!!  In matter of fact, two of them are competing in a half ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run) later this season.    On this day, we started from Shari S.’s place in Mclean VA, a home where a teenage daughter at 7 am on a Sunday morning tells you that you are talking too loud and a dog with a cone around his head (surgery on his leg) licks sunscreen off your legs.

We rode our cars out to Loudoun County High School, a common place, for riders to begin their rides off Dry Mill Road in Leesburg, VA.   Our route consisted of lots of rolling hills out Route 9, portions of the W and OD trail, and country roads in Loudoun County, VA.   51 miles was our total mileage on this day.   On our way back, Shari’s bike had a mechanical failure (rear derailler cable snapped) and she basically had two gears the last 15 miles on our way back to Trails End Cycling Company in Purcellville, VA.    When I tell you this is difficult, this is an understatement.    Shari basically could not switch gears at any point on any of the climbs on the way to the bike shop.   We were averaging around 16 to 17 mph for the first part of the ride, and now we were rolling along at maybe an average of 8 to 9 mph.   Good job Shari!!  A quick 20 minute stop at the bike shop for a fix and we were back on our way back to the high school.

Once returning to the high school, Kanch and Shari decided to take a 50 minute run and I decided to come home, eat a quick lunch, and then meet friends to cheer on the USA as they were playing Japan for the Woman’s World Cup Finals.

Tip of the day:  Take a basic bike mechanic’s class.  This would be an almost impossible fix on the road, but it doesn’t hurt to have some basic bike knowledge and skills when you are out there rolling along with friends.

A Visit with Family and Christmas In July Triathlon

On Friday July 8th, I traveled with my mother down to Greensboro, NC to visit with my brother, his wife and their daughter for the weekend.   It is always such a nice time traveling to the South, because honestly people are SOOO nice!  Everywhere we stopped, people held doors, asked us how we were doing, and told us they wished for us to have a nice day.    Plus, gas is cheaper too!   The purpose of the visit was not only to visit family, but to compete in the Christmas in July Triathlon.

I loved this race!   One of the things I loved was the fact that only around 300 triathletes participated and my wave only had approximately 50 competitors.  The water temperature was a balmy 84 degrees at the start.  After a 750 meter swim (don’t know my results unfortunately – must of missed the pad), we biked 14 miles in two laps of a 7 mile, rolling hill course.  It was fast!  I finished the bike portion around 33rd out of 127 male finishers.   Thank you Cervelo S1!   The run course was great as well (5K), approximately 3/4ths of the race spent in the woods winding through single track and fire road.   I finished 105 out of 127 male finishers on the run course.  Now now, you might say I burned myself out on the bike; but I do have to share that I rode 111 miles on Monday July 4th so my legs were basically shredded to begin with.   Results here – I finished 69th out of 127 male finishers and 11th in my age group.

All in all, this was a solid race and I would do it again!  It was great to find out that a fellow DC Tri member Luke H. won the race – congrats to him!

Weekend activities: Lots of good food, some sun at a neighborhood pool, a great triathlon, harvesting some veggies in brother’s garden, and good times with family!

Tip of the day:  Don’t ride 111 miles 6 days before a triathlon and expect it to go as you hope.

Trail Running at Difficult Run – Great Falls, Virginia

A few years ago, I was asked by a personal friend of mine, Elyse B., if I would help her train a group of runners for the North Face Endurance Challenge 2009.   I was delighted she asked because I knew not only would I be able help train a group of runners, but it would also give me the opportunity to learn more about the wonderful trail system nearby known as Great Falls Park.

We met with this group of runners each Wednesday evening at Difficult Run and Saturday mornings either in Great Falls Park or Algonkian Park, where the endurance challenge is held each year.  For those that aren’t aware, this is a trail run series sponsored by North Face, that is held across two days each year, usually a weekend in June.  On Saturday, runners have an option of a 50 miler, a 50 kilometer, a marathon, or marathon relay (4 person team).  On Sunday, runners have an option of a half marathon, a 10 kilometer, or 5 kilometer option.  We were training 10 kilometer to 50 mile runners over a period of approximately 6 months, more time for the longer distance runners.

I had the opportunity to meet a great crew of running friends including Tom M, James B, Jeff A, Tom H, Laurie A., Kevin R, Jay D, Matt Z, and several others.   Some of these individuals had never run an endurance race before and now, only two years later, they are running 20 plus mile runs each weekend for joy.  They amaze me and encourage me to be a better runner.

DC Capital Striders has partnered with North Face to bring these runs back again.  Each Wednesday evening, we run at Difficult Run starting at 6 pm.  Runs are open to all runners regardless of pace or ability level.  Each week, we will share the course, run together, and make sure each runner returns back to the Difficult Run Parking lot safely.   Weekend runs will soon be organized as well for those who wish to get in more training (above 10 miles).

Picture attached is from our Wednesday night run – join us each week and absorb the wonder and beauty of trail running!

Tip of the day:  If you haven’t been trail running, you don’t know what you are missing. Come join us and find out what a great experience this can be.  Sign up at: www.meetup.com/dccapitalstriders-nova/




A Sunday Brick

A few years ago if someone asked me if I wanted to do a brick, I’d say, “huh”?   I would think I know WHAT a brick is, but never knew you could actually do one.   For those of you that still aren’t following, a “brick” or more formally known as a “brick workout” is a workout designed for triathletes that could describe a variety of events, but for the purposes of triathlon prep it is defined as a swim, bike, or run workout immediately following a base workout. For example, a 20k bike after a 1600m swim would be a brick workout. Same thing for a 10k run after a 20k bike or a 5k run followed by a 600m swim.   I have been doing brick workouts now in preparation for a few triathlons coming up this season.  This morning was such an occasion.

The place – Glen Echo Park off MacArthur Boulevard.  If you don’t know about this place, its a very popular starting point for many triathletes in the Washington DC metro area due to its large parking lot and proximity to many long roads popular to bikers including MacArthur Boulevard, River Road, Canal Street, all of which I, along with my other training partners saw on this day.

On this day, we rode 40 miles followed by a 20 minute timed run.  The ride was great!  Rolling hills, fast pace.  We finished in just over 2 hours and 20 minutes, with approximately 15 minutes of stops.  James, one of my fellow riders, was having problems with his front derailler.  For those that don’t know what this is, this is a mechanism that allows the chain to go from the bottom chain ring to the top and back down when needed.  On this day, it was needed.  After fiddling with it for a few minutes and even looking on the smart phone for an easy website for quick fixes, we decided to roll along and James would stay in either his top or bottom chain ring changing it manually when required.   This of course naturally slowed him down, but he was a trooper and finished the ride successfully, even after taking a wrong turn a few miles from our finish.

The run went alright.  I completed approximately 2 1/3 miles in 20 minutes, for about a 9:30 minute per mile pace.  I don’t mind this pace, its rather comfortable, however my left hamstring doesn’t like it.  More rehab needed using foam rollers, trigger point therapy, massages, yoga and stretching.     We shall see how the triathlon in a few weeks works out, Greensboro Christmas in July.

Now, its breakfast time!

Tip(s) of the day:  If you want to ride from Glen Echo Park on a weekend, I suggest getting there early.  The parking lot fills up very quickly and many cars had to park on the grassy area (which the park police didn’t like very much).  Also, I suggest a basic bike maintenance class, which I have taken before but guess I didn’t retain the how to fix the front derailler part.

North Face Endurance Challenge and WeeklyTraining Runs

A few weeks ago (June 4 and 5) I, along with several DC Capital Striders friends and runners, had the opportunity to attend and participate in the North Face Endurance Challenge.  Several friends were running various distance events from 10K all the way up to the 50 miler.   This is one of my favorite weekends of the year!  

DC Capital Striders Running group secured a sponsorship with North Face recently and had the opportunity to have a tent at the race site for the weekend.    Members running included Chris G.; Jeff A.; James B,; Tom H., Tom M.; Theresa A.; Jeff A. and friends Autumn C and Adriana A.   Even though I wasn’t participating as a runner this weekend, the endorphins were flowing watching friends compete and accomplish such wonderful running feats.

Many local running favorites finished in the top three for the 50 mile race including Matt Woods, Jordan Mcdougal, and Michael Wardian.   Also featured on race weekend was ultramarathon favorite and North Face sponsored athlete Dean Karnazes.    I had the opportunity to meet him and also speak with the executive director of his foundation, Karno Kids.   DC Capital Striders may organize a spring race for Karno Kids with its mission to encourage, motivate, inspire youth to get outside and become physically active and to restore & preserve the environment for their use and enjoyment.

Join DC Capital Striders for weekly trail runs open to all runners at Great Falls park (Difficult Run) each Wednesday evening and on Saturday mornings at various locations around Washington DC.   Our hope to is organize a huge team for next year’s race – 2012! 

For more information, visit: www.meetup.com/dccapitalstriders-nova/  

Tip of the day:  Whether you are participating in an event as a runner, a friend, a motivator or a volunteer – you can still enjoy the experience.

DC Capital Striders Volunteer at DC Triathlon – June 19, 2011

I woke this morning shortly before 5 am welcoming the day and getting items together for the trek down to DC for the DC Triathlon; one of two major triathlons in DC each year.   DC Capital Striders was offering a team of volunteers at mile 3 on the run course in the 9th street tunnel.    I always enjoy volunteering at events such as this because it’s a great feeling giving back to the fitness community; which I take so much from.  

I met with approximately 20 DC Capital Striders volunteers bright and early.   We set up 4 tables, poured thousands of cups of both powerade and water and waited the arrival of thousands of triathletes.   The first to arrive were the age group amateur athletes and the first few that went by looked nothing like amateurs.  It’s amazing how fast someone can run after swimming 1500 meters and biking 40 kilometers!    I saw many friends from DC Triathlon Club and many others who I have trained with over the years.

After raking what seemed like thousands of cups; the professional triathletes were on their way.  You know when they are coming because they are led by a caravan of DC metro police officers and a biker making sure the course is clear.   Now, when I said the amateurs were fast, I meant it; but these athletes, wow!   They are like pure bred thoroughbreds whistling through the wind (of course there wasn’t any wind since we were in a tunnel, but you get the idea).  Some of them were passing our aid station at a 5 minute per mile pace.   All I can say is, I admire it.    

A few of our volunteers noticed one of the professional athletes who had gone down about 500 yards from our aid station.   Several of us quickly went into action and sprinted to this runner to assess the situation.   Once we arrived, we noticed he was breathing and conscious; indicating he was having a hard time breathing due to his asthma.  We quickly cooled him off, monitored him and the race first aid crew were notified.  They arrived within minutes and took the athlete back to the race start for medical care.

After all the athletes were finished their race, the aid station was cleared and about 6 of us went over to Capital Lounge for a post volunteering brunch.   A good day in DC all around and congrats to all DC Tri finishers!   I hope to see many of you at Nation’s Triathlon in the Fall!

Tip of the day:  Get the “Hangover” sandwich at Capital Lounge – even if you aren’t hung over it’s very good!  Who doesn’t like egg, cheese and bacon with jalapenos!

Saturday Morning Training Run

This morning I woke up and thought I’d take it easy and give  my left hamstring a break.   I then turned on the tube and saw the movie “Prefontaine” on Showtime Extreme at 6 am.   Of course my eyes were peeled to the screen and seconds later I felt the itch.

Luckily, DC Capital Striders has a Saturday morning run minutes from my home.  I hop out of bed, grab my favorite running gear, and made the quick trip to Mcdonald’s to fuel up on oatmeal, which surprisingly is pretty darn good.  I then headed to the W & OD Trail in Vienna, VA near the caboose to meet up with Erica W and John L.    My garmin was ready to go, heart monitor attached, some orange flavored Gu brand chomps in my pocket and my Ipod shuffle on hand.

Today’s run consisted of 7 1/2 miles at an average pace of 9 1/2 minutes per mile.  I am signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon in the fall running for one of my favorite charites, High Cloud Foundation.

Tip of the day:  Make sure your Ipod has power before you roll out the door.  Mine died within the first few minutes of my run leaving me motivated to the sounds of birds chirping and Zip wheels passing me on the trail while hearing “on your left”.  On this day, I wasn’t saying, “on your left”, I was hearing it.

Stay tuned to this blog for updates on training for distance runs, various endurance events, and tips and tricks on being a better endurance athlete, and opportunites to serve and participate in various local fitness/endurance events.