Entering the star system

Last week, I was featured on The Run Commuter website. I got my own article, which is definitively a true honor. I feel that I now belong to the club of the runners that got this exposure. It is also really funny because I just got injured one week before it was published.

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And this week, the pacer page on the Pittsburgh marathon was just published. And of course, my ugly face is on it. Yay.

 

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It seems that all of that is finally getting real and I will have to run a half marathon in 1:45 in May while entertaining people around me. I tried to avoid everything running related since several weeks, including contact with the running community but it might be time to treat the several muscles injuries, tendinitis and remain of fractures that keep me away from running since several weeks now. Between a coming trip to Japan, another in France and a last one in Italy, I should find some time to train.

Entering the star system

Race week-end ramblings

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The “Arc de Triomphe” at 5am – when you get up early to run some miles and late night-goers are drunk on the Champs-Élysées, waiting for the first metro to come

After one month of travels between Seattle, Ottawa, Paris and Cedar Rapids, it’s time to come back in Pittsburgh and running Tussey Mountainback 50 milers on Sunday. Between meetings, conferences, family reunions and hanging out with friends, I gained 10 pounds, did not run any hills since a long time and the training has been way less intense than usually. This race will be an interesting experience.

Cheese shop in Paris - at least I know how I gained some pounds
Cheese shop in Paris – at least I know how I gained some pounds

Whatever, it will be a good time. And after this race, it will be time to stay home for a while, lose the fat, train slightly and enjoy some time with friends.

It is exciting to be back, and start this week-end. It will be fun.

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Interview at the SCADE User Group Conference in Paris, thanks to Graziella and Chloe for covering the event!
Race week-end ramblings

Pedal PGH 2015

At the top of the South Side in the morning
At the top of the South Side in the morning

It will be a yearly tradition now and the 2016 edition of Pedal PGH was as great as the previous one. The metric century course (about 62 miles with ~5000 feet of elevation) is really nice with many good outlooks and good spots all around the city. It took about 5:30 to finish the whole things with several stops. The ride is really well organized and marked, with several aid stations along the course. If you like to bike, consider attending the event next year, there are courses for all levels, from 25 miles to 62 miles!

Pedal PGH 2015

Join the FAAP 5K/10K on September 06, 2015

On September 06, 2015, the FAAP Classic 5K/10K will take place in North Park. This is a friendly race around Pittsburgh that benefits the Filipino American Association of Pittsburgh (FAAP). I already run this race in 2013 but at that time, was injured and had a hard time finishing the race. I will be back this year and should rock it!

The race is very cheap ($20) and a lot of fun. So sign up, run and have fun!

Join the FAAP 5K/10K on September 06, 2015

Avoid the flat, Hit the hills and Run Pittsburgh!

hillsWhen looking for a race, people usually are looking for flat or downhill courses. Two years ago, when volunteering in Richmond to present the Pittsburgh marathon I was surprised to see how many runners were reluctant to sign up because of the elevation profile. The city is known for its hills and the race directors did a great job to avoid steep hills (look at the five steepest hills to get a general idea). But when presenting the course, you have to come with an elevation chart to convince them it was not too hilly.

The general idea is that a flat course (or a downhill one) will be easier on your legs and require less efforts. Of course, this is obvious you are going faster on a flat course but was the elevation never change, you are working the same muscle group. And if you choose a downhill race, this can also put a lot of stress on your joints. Even for a flat race, you are putting all the efforts on the same muscles group and exhaust them until the last mile. If you are going to try to qualify for a particular time (Boston qualifier anyone?), this can be (1) very exhausting and (2) hard to recover as your body is not used to such long and intense efforts on the same muscles.

That might seem odd but running a race with some elevation variation can be easier on your body. As your running form is changing according to the elevation, you are not using the same muscles and when a muscle group is used, the other can rest for a while. Of course, this will not be easy, but if you are trained and used to take some hills, it will be definitively easier.

One example on the east coast is Erie and Pittsburgh. Erie is a big Boston Qualifier race: very flat, the course takes place in what one might consider as ideal conditions (perfect temperature most of the time, completely flat race). This is a two 13.1 loops on Presque Isle. Needless to say, pretty boring: after the first loop, you have only one wish, finish as soon as possible. On the other hand, Pittsburgh (or even Richmond) have some slight hills and is considered more difficult. But as long as you are used to run some hills, your body will recover quicker. And the course is nicer: you experience most of the neighborhood and the volunteers are pretty awesome. No matter if you are a Pittsburgh native or a new visitor: you will experience the city from a different perspective. Better than doing two loops on the same course. If you never experience the Steel City, I just recommend to come and experience this race. This would show you why Pittsburgh is one of the best city to live in the USA.

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Avoid the flat, Hit the hills and Run Pittsburgh!

Dude, keep the outdoor speaker at home (Dirty Kiln 2015 Race Report)

On April, 4, just one week before Forget the PR 50K, I ran the Dirty Kiln half-marathon. This race is organized by the Allegheny Trail Runners and is either a 5-miles or a half marathon. As last year, I did the half-marathon. The race is a basic 5 miles loop plus an additional 8 miles. Each loop as two stream crossing and of course, a lot of mud. Some hills are very challenging as well so that it might be better to walk them.

The 2014 edition was epic in the sense that the weather was really windy and cold. The 2015 edition was way better: not so much wind, some sun but still a lot of mud (and so, fun)! This was then supposed to be a great run. The race is organized by the Allegheny Trail Runners group, a non-profit that supports local charities. So, instead of going for big events that are rather big money makers for a company or an individual, this race is organized by trail lovers to benefits people in need. Very sweet.

godPre-race

Last year, I booked a crappy motel in the Altoona area to stay before the night. The bed was terrible, did not sleep so well and I had pain in the back. I decided that this year, I will take a better place and chose the Hampton Inn that includes a breakfast. That was a good idea, especially because they provide basic runner food for breakfast (peanut butter and bagel anyone?), which was perfect: no need to pack anything, the breakfast is availability when you wake up so you do not have to worry about that aspect.

There is no race expo or packet pick up before race day. The race starts at 0900 so you have plenty of time to get there and get it. The packet contains a tech t-shirt, your bib and chip. No fancy stuff inside but for $35, this is already more than enough! If you do this race, be there at least 10 to 15 minutes before the race starts to make sure you get your packet and put your chip on.

The race

batmanThe race is a 5-ish loop plus an additional 8-ish loop. You run mostly on single-track trails with very muddy spots. There are also stream crossing. The first loop is not very challenging or difficult without any high elevation. So, this is a great warmup. The second loop is  more challenging with a good elevation and a lot of steep hills. So steep that you will have to walk them and not run them. If you run it and plan to finish in less than 2:30, it is wise to start in the beginning of the pack. Many people will not let you pass them when being on a single track trail because they just do not listen to you. I was stuck in the beginning by two persons that discuss and never heard me when trying to indicate that I wanted to pass them. So, just try to rush the start to avoid that.

The race is marked with flags so it is difficult to lose yourself. Also, as you do (more or less) the same loop twice, this is easy to remember where you passed before and you can easily recognize parts of the race. Be careful to keep track of the flags, otherwise, you can get lost on the trails.

The race offers also a great view when doing the second loop and being on top of the hills. Being there on a sunny Saturday morning offers a wonderful scenery. While the view is great, it seems that some folks enjoy the view but not the silence. A dude was stupid enough to bring a portable speaker in hit bagpack (or whatever he brought on the trails) put his music on while climbing on the trails. Earphones are forbidden for safety reasons, but heck, when you cannot bring headphone, what is better than annoying everybody with a bigger sound system? Let’s just bring the phone with a portable speaker (or just use the phone speaker, who knows). Seriously, what is the f*ck!ng reason you would like to take your radio on a race? Who takes a speaker when going on a trail race and experience the nature? And why putting your music on a speaker to bother everybody around you? (private message: dude, if you read this message, stay home with your speaker and enjoy your music alone and just enjoy the nature when going on the trails). If possible, I would just suggest to the race director to forbid any listening device: if you go on the trails, this is not to reproduce your gym environment with a lot of electronic equipments. Otherwise, just stay at the gym and watch Discovery channel when exercising: the benefits will be similar. This is just unfortunate to have a dude like this on such a great event.

In terms of support, there are volunteers on the course to guide you and help you to cross the streams. There is an aid station on the course with water/gatorade and gels. You can also take water after the first loop. So, in total, you get 3 potential stops to get water or gels. The volunteers are very (very) friendly and helpful and make sure you stay safe on the course (especially at the stream crossing). Again, all the race is very well organized and accommodates beginners or experienced runners.

Post-race

Once you are done, you get a wood medal and a bottle of water. There is also pizza and snacks provided to all runners. Unfortunately, no beer as in Rock’n The Knobb (the other race organized by the same non profit) that might be a better idea, especially if you are driving right after. The state parks typically offers showers if you want to be clean before going back home. The race pictures are taken by volunteers and available … for free. Yep, nobody that tries to take your monthly income for 3 pictures of you! Sweet, isn’t?

Let’s do it?

Yep, there is a lot of mud ...
Yep, there is a lot of mud …

Heck yeah, as long as you are able to avoid the obnoxious dude that carries his speaker when you explore the nature, this is definitively one of the best race in Pennsylvania and I do not see any red flag that will tell you not to do it! First of all, this is pretty cheap ($35), fun. There is a lot of mud, which can be challenging. Then, there is pretty steep hills that will also change from your usual workout. The support is very good and volunteers are very friendly as well. Also, the race pictures are available for free! And finally, all the profits goes for a charity. So, there are definitively no reason for not going there!

Thanks again to the Allegheny Trailrunners group for organizing this race. So, far, Dirty Kiln and Rock’n The Knobb are among the best races I have done. Pretty cheap, very friendly and supporting charities, this is a fantastic non-profit and I hope you’ll get a chance to experience one (or several) of their races!

See you at Rock’n the Knob 2015 then!

Information

 

Dude, keep the outdoor speaker at home (Dirty Kiln 2015 Race Report)