I was not a runner until I was sitting for a job interview with Col. Max Barth, USMC, the Asst. Chief of Staff for Intelligence at the First Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) in Camp Pendleton, California about 12 years ago. I was 28 years old, interviewing for an I.T. system administrator position. He asked, "You look like a runner -- are you?" My response ("Oh, yes sir!") did not include my mental note: 'Better buy some running shoes...'
Three years later, while we lived in Hawaii, a friend suggested I sign up for a 5k race. Then a 10k race. Then a "mini-triathlon" (the Mountain Man Tri
), where I learned that I'm an O.K. runner and cyclist -- but a really
lousy swimmer. As I rounded the last buoy (in the calm windward waters near Chinaman's Hat by Kailua town), I took some solace that there was someone behind me -- until he started picking up the buoys and clearing the race markers!
Our move to Virginia in 1999 saw my interest grow in longer races. Encouraged by colleagues at U.S. Joint Forces Command (like then-CPT Rich Greene, one of the finest soldiers I have ever known), I joined the USJFCOM J9 team for the 2000 Army Ten Miler
. Then, as the photo above shows, I ran my first marathon -- the 25th Marine Corps Marathon
-- that same month.
Mind you, I am not
nearly as accomplished in athletics as Überbloggers Matt at MountainRunner
(who casually runs marathon distances at night
in the mountains of Southern California) and Mark at ZenPundit
(a powerlifter who can bench press twice
my steadily-increasing body weight). I'm pleased with my 4-hour-plus marathon pace, hope to someday ride a "Century" (100 miles), and am even more pleased to encourage friends like Mike Vegh
who are setting new distance records for themselves.
As soon as I post this, I will be on my way to the Atomic Duathlon
-- a 5k run, 30k ride, 5k run race from the Melton Lake Reservoir, across Bethel Valley (of Oak Ridge National Lab fame) and Bear Creek Valley (home to the Y-12 National Nuclear Security Complex), then back to the lake. The fun part will be cresting Haw Ridge and Chestnut Ridge (a topographic map is here
I hope to finish in 2:15:00 -- I'll post later on my results (as well as a postmortem of Cal's homecoming loss to Oregon State and the parity of college football programs nationwide).Addendum (posted at 5:00pm EDT):
I finished about ten minutes later than my target, with an official final time of 2:25:06. My first 5k run was right on target (25:40), my bike ride close to target (1:17:00), and my transitions faster than expected (both under 80 seconds, which included a shoe change). Where the wheels came off was on the second run -- my legs were reluctant to shift from "bike mode" to "run mode", so my pace slipped to about 11:00/mi. Then, at the turn-around, I met another "Clydesdale" (the 200+ lb. class I signed up for) -- a retired Marine with bad knees. So we walked (and occasionally ran) and talked about the Corps for the last mile and a half. Since I was well out of "medal contention" (the 3rd place Clydesdale clocked in just under two hours, as did the top 40-45 males), no worry. I stuck to my hydration and nutrition strategies (with two Gu vanilla bean
energy gels before the start, two more during the ride, and about 60 oz. of Gatorade Fierce Grape
cut with 1/2 part water) and feel great. Now if only I could swim better and get serious about triathlons....College Football: Cal-OSU Post-Mortem
OSU (in this case, the Beavers of Oregon State) came to Berkeley's Memorial Stadium yesterday, bringing with them one of the top rushing defenses in the nation (allowing just 43 yards rushing per game
). Their lightning-fast defensive line and linebackers threatened to thwart a big part of Cal's offense -- and, when coupled with the ankle injury suffered by starting QB Nate Longshore
two weeks ago in Oregon, made this a very good match-up.
Both QBs stepped up to their respective challenges: Sophomore Sean Canfield
(Beavers) looked more poised and capable than he has at any time in his collegiate career, and red-shirt freshman Kevin Riley
(Golden Bears) demonstrated superb mobility and tactical decision-making in rallying Cal from a 10-point deficit in the closing minutes. Great decision-making, that is, until the final play of the game. Down by three, in easy field goal range on the OSU 15 yard line, with just 0:14 on the clock and no time-outs, Riley decided to scramble instead of throw the ball away (and stop the clock). The quick OSU defense tackled him inbounds short of a first down, and the final seconds ticked away before the ball could be set for a snap. So much for a shot at overtime and a #1 ranking....
With LSU falling to #17 Kentucky, we have a curious state of affairs in the season's first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings -- with the Bulls of the Univ. of South Florida
laying claim to the #2 spot. The good news is that it's a toss-up in the PAC-10 (which has demonstrated an SEC-like "bludgeon each other" mentality this season) for the coveted Rose Bowl berth. One of the commentators on Versus
last night (which has had the good fortune of televising some of the best upsets this season) said "Cal is the Chicago Cubs of the PAC-10." I couldn't agree more -- Cal has the longest "Rose Bowl Drought" of all teams, with their last appearance in 1959. (And though the Univ. of Arizona Wildcats have never gone, they only joined the conference 30 years ago.) Just another reason to malign the "Broken Computer System" BCS, which has the option of putting non-PAC-10 teams in the Rose Bowl.
Cal has a tough month coming up, with away games at UCLA (always a fierce rivalry) and #12 Arizona State, then a homestand against the Washing State Cougars and the Trojans of 'SC. Roll on you Bears!!
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