Race Recap – Bird In Hand Half Marathon 2021

So, this was originally going to be two separate blogs. I was going to use one blog to talk exclusively about the race and another blog to talk about the incredible time that I had meeting up with my friends from The Extra Mile Podcast (http://theextramilepodcast.com). However, the more I thought about it, the more I realize that it would be nearly impossible to separate the two. With that said, this may be a bit longer than my normal race recap, but if you stick around and read the whole thing and enjoy the photos that are included, I think you will find it worth your time.

I think the best way to approach this recap is to try my best to give a chronological account of the weekend starting from Thursday morning. Just before lunchtime on Thursday, September 9, Carrie and I set out from Virginia Beach for Finksburg, MD. We would crash at my Aunt and Uncle’s house for the evening. Carrie would stay with them while I was at the race and then we would head home together Saturday evening. It’s always great to see family. We hadn’t seen Aunt Patsy and Uncle Ronnie since Christmas of 2019 so this visit, while brief, was long overdue. I was incredibly grateful to have Carrie’s company in the car. She’s growing up so quickly and I know that before I know it she will be out there starting her own life, so I will always cherish these times together.

Road Tripping with my CareBear

On Friday morning, I got up fairly early so that I could take care of a few things and get to Bird in Hand at a decent time. It’s only about an hour and a half from my Aunt’s house, but having grown up in this area, I knew that traffic between the Baltimore and Lancaster areas can sometimes be a bit dicey. I got the oil changed in the car (couldn’t get it done in Virginia Beach the day before because they didn’t have the right oil filter), got a quick haircut from Jessica at Alter Image (https://alterimagehairsalon.com), bought a new pair of Altra running shoes from Steve at RunMoore (https://letsrunmoore.com) and got on the road. Now before you ask, I did NOT run the half marathon in brand new running shoes. I knew that my current shoes were on their last leg (more on that later) and I am a huge proponent of supporting local businesses.

Am I there yet?

Traffic was certainly no fun getting to Lancaster. The normally ninety minute drive took me a little over two hours. I realize that’s not terrible, but when you’re excited about seeing friends, those extra thirty minutes seem to take forever.

When I did finally arrive at packet pickup, I very quickly got my shirt and race bib and started looking around for other Extra Milers. I knew that our official first meetup wasn’t scheduled to start until 4 at a local park, but I was hoping to run into a few of them before that. I did. Within moments of picking up my shirt, I ran into Chris Russell and his lovely wife Yvonne. While we were chatting and making formal introductions, Scott Perkinson joined the conversation. I’ve met Scott before and it’s always great to catch up with him and his wife Kristen. Finally, before leaving the packet pickup area, I ran into Nate Wagner. Nate and I had also previously met (at Bird in Hand, 2018). We chatted for a few minutes and I slipped out to put gas in the car and make my way over to our official meetup.

At the meetup, which was organized by my friends Duane, JD, and Anthony, we had the opportunity to hang out and get acquainted with so many ‘virtual’ friends that we had never met in person and we were also treated to a fantastic pasta dinner with some of the best homemade Alfredo sauce that I’ve ever tasted. It was such a cool experience to just be able to chill and hangout with these folks that I felt like I had known for several years.

The Extra Mile Podcast Crew

Around 6pm I left the picnic area and went back over to the race to cheer on a few of the folks from our group that were running the 5k. Back in 2018 I did the 5k in addition to the half as part of what they call the Fireman’s Challenge. I opted to not do that this time around so as to be totally focused on the half marathon and not do anything stupid by pushing too hard during a 5k the night before. The evening weather was spectacular (so much so that I had to fight the urge to register for the 5k on the spot) and was just a wonderful preview of what was to come the next morning.

Beautiful Sunset

Here’s where the trip turned really interesting. When I made my hotel reservation, I discovered that Lancaster was home to The Cartoon Network Hotel. Let’s face it. I’m just a big kid and I thought that this would be a fun place to stay even if just to have a place to sleep for the night. Well, the theming was great and the hotel certainly looked the part. However, there were two big problems. At a certain price point I no longer expect to have exterior access to my room. I was paying for a hotel, not a motel. Overall, since I was traveling alone that was minor. What wasn’t minor was the paper thin walls that enabled me to hear every conversation in the adjacent room all night. You would think that when a hotel is built that is meant to cater to families with children, they wouldn’t leave the walls so poorly insulated. I guess it’s a good thing that I sleep pretty hard because once I fell asleep, it was no longer an issue. That said, I will not be returning to that hotel.

If only the rooms were as nice as the lobby.
Flat Chris ready to go
Real Chris is also ready to go.
A beautiful sunrise greeted us on Saturday morning.

Race time for the half marathon was 7:30 AM on Saturday, September 11. Our group had decided to get there around 6:30 to give us a chance to meet up, take some photos, use the porta-john (this is weird, but these were the best smelling portable bathrooms anywhere – literally smelled like roses), and be ready to run. I had only one goal for this race besides having fun. I wanted to beat my time on this course from 2018. That meant I needed to come in under 2:24:54. I basically needed to have a pace of just under 11 minutes per mile to reach that goal. Why didn’t I go for a PR, you ask? To begin with, I’m not in PR shape. Secondly, this is not a PR course. I live in Virginia Beach (aka Flat Town, USA) and this course is in the middle of Amish country in south-central PA. In other words, there is no flat ground to be found.

After talking with a few friends to see what their game plan was, my friend Anthony McCann said that he would run with me and we’d see how he we felt as the day went on. He felt undertrained to run his normal race (he went sub 2 hours on the course in 2018) and while I felt trained, my last couple of long runs weren’t exactly smooth sailing. I thought I could get in under that time mentioned, but we would play it by ear.

It was an absolute pleasure to spend a little over 2 hours running this course with Anthony. I’m just glad I punted on bringing that shirt for race day. Then we would have been ‘twinning’ and I’m not sure how acceptable that is for guys.

If you follow this blog you know that I train and run using the Galloway run/walk/run method. Anthony has used that method before, but he also does a good bit of straight running. We decided to use a run/walk interval of 90 seconds running and 30 seconds walking with the flexibility to adjust if needed. I am thrilled to say that we never had to adjust during the entire run and we were able to maintain conversation the whole time. There were a couple of times where we skipped a walk break due to being on a downhill and wanting to take full advantage of the gravity that would be helping us out. We had a great time out there together and came in a full 2 minutes and 8 seconds faster than my 2018 time. My official finish time was 2:22:46 and I felt fantastic afterwards.

If you never have the chance to run in this type of an atmosphere, find a way to make it happen. It’s unreal.
Corn was higher than my eye, that’s for sure.
Last turn into the finish chute!
My watch had me 1 second slower than the official race time. Either way, I’ll take it.

The Bird In Hand Half Marathon features one of the most unique medals I’ve ever seen. The medal is literally a used horseshoe taken straight off of an Amish man’s horse. They then weld a plaque to the horseshoe to commemorate the race and use a thin piece of leather strap to hang the medal around your neck. In addition to being one of the most unique medals I’ve ever seen, it is easily the heaviest. After about 30 seconds, I was ready to have it off of my neck.

It even appears that my horseshoe had stepped on a few road apples in its lifespan.

Now wait a minute. I spent a good bit of time at the beginning talking about the amazing friends that I got to meet up with and I really haven’t gone into any detail or shared any photos of them yet. Relax. I’m about to do that now. Let me start by mentioning a few folks that for some reason I did not get photos with this weekend.

Steve Hailstone – It was such a pleasure to meet you. You are just so pleasant to be around and the demeanor that we hear in your voice when you are on the podcast, is exactly who you are. Thanks for snagging the photo of Anthony and I turning for home on Saturday morning.

Duane Hespell – How did we not get a photo together, my friend? Your humility shines through and you are simply a joy to be around. Seeing how much you loved the place you call home and were so proud to show it off to your friends was really cool to watch.

If I leave anyone out, believe me when I say that it’s not intentional. I had a wonderful time meeting and interacting with all of you.

‘Just Plain Dave’ and Chris Russell – these two guys are running podcast royalty. Dave’s podcast is called ‘Running Virtually’ (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/running-virtually/id1492929378) and Chris hosts a show called ‘Run Run Live’ (http://runrunlive.com/category/4-0). Dave is one of the best storytellers out there and Chris’ show is incredibly informative and entertaining. Dave is not on social media, but we follow each other on Garmin Connect and he has been so encouraging during this training cycle. He always seemed to have encouragement when I most needed it. Chris is just an all around good guy (even if he did threaten to take my man card for being a Toto fan). I truly hope to get to hang out with these guys a bit more in the future.

Just Plain Dave on the left and Chris Russell on the right.

Suzanne Edler – Suzanne is a cancer survivor from Lexington, Kentucky. We were both supposed to be at Bird in Hand back in 2019, but when a hurricane kept me from attending and life kept her from attending, we made a virtual pinky swear that the next time the race was held, we would be there. I’m so excited that we kept that promise and got the chance to meet up this weekend. The cowbell you gave me will sit on my shelf in my office as a reminder of a promise kept.

Who knew a Tar Heel could get along with a Wildcat?

Nate Wagner – This dude is one of the most encouraging people I’ve met. It’s not uncommon to get a text from him in the morning shortly after completing my run where he’s congratulating me on a good run or encouraging me to hang in there after a bad run. I actually hope to see Nate a couple of times next year as I would like to run the Garden Spot Half as well as the Bird in Hand Half to get the infamous Road Apple Award. Nate also paced a fellow Galloway Customized Training Runner, Greg, to a half marathon PR this weekend. Well done Nate and Greg!

JD – I could say so much. Your friendship is one that I treasure. You get the credit (or blame) for me becoming a marathoner. Even after I had to bail on Richmond in 2017 which would have been my first marathon, you came back to Richmond in 2019 and paced me to a PR in my 2nd marathon. The few chances we’ve had to run together and hang out have been incredible and I look forward to more in the future. You truly are Superman.

Chris Twiggs (aka Super Coach Chris Twiggs) – So glad that we finally got to meet in person after all of the phone calls, Zoom Meetings, text messages and FB messages. You got me trained up to run my 2 marathons and I have no doubt that you will get me trained up to run my first sub 2 hour half marathon in the near future. Beyond all of your running accomplishments and your willingness to help and encourage other runners, you are truly just an incredible human being. It’s a privilege to call you my coach and an honor to call you friend.

Galloway Customized Training works largely in part to this guy.

Roxanne Baggott – When you come on the podcast your voice is so soothing. I remember listening to your Marine Corps Marathon rain story while out on a run. Hearing about your perseverance in ankle deep water at times on that course literally brought me to tears. Congratulations on your recent retirement from the NICU. I have no doubt that you were truly a blessing to all of those families that you encountered in some of their most harrowing moments. You are an inspiration.

Chad Schwendemann – Brother, you are an inspiration. The miles that you log in training and in races boggles my mind. Then to watch you pace your wife Amanda to her first half marathon finish this weekend was really cool. Also, there aren’t many people that make me feel small in stature. You’re one of them. lol. Hope to meet up again. Maybe at Garden Spot next year.

Katy Theroux – We didn’t get much of an opportunity to talk this weekend, but what little bit we did was certainly a very pleasant experience. Now if we could just do something about the baseball team you cheer for. Ha! Definitely a pleasure and I hope we meet again.

Caroline Heller – I’ve watched you fight through the injury bug on the weekly Customized Training Zoom calls. You have persevered and come out on the other side. It’s been inspirational to watch you not throw in the towel. You even completed your first marathon virtually. Wow! Not sure I could’ve talked myself into that. It was a pleasure meeting you and Peter this weekend.

Kevin Gwin – Last but certainly not least for this writeup. Five years ago when I started running, I looked for running podcasts that someone like me could relate to. That’s how I found The Extra Mile Podcast. I haven’t missed a show since then. I certainly never expected a podcast to bring not just acquaintances into my life, but actual friends. What a blessing you have been to me. It was a highlight of my weekend to finally shake your hand and hug your neck this weekend. I really hope we get to do it again in the near future. Love ya, brother!

Well, that’s it. I warned you that this would be longer than the usual recap, but this wasn’t your typical race. This was a family reunion of sorts. I almost failed to mention that this was my 10th completed half marathon and what a perfect way to hit a milestone race. Beautiful course, perfect weather, but best of all, great friends.

The journey home included a little bit of adventure seeking on my part….stay tuned for the next blog where I’ll recap my drive home after the race.

Training Tuesday (on a Wednesday) – August 10, 2021

Starting Weight (August 2, 2021) – 240.6

Ending Weight (August 9, 2021) – 243.1

Change – Up 2.5 pounds

Time to get real. I almost didn’t post this blog because it’s frustrating to have back to back weeks of gain. This week, the reason is easy. I only ran twice (Wednesday and Monday), and I felt like garbage all weekend. Unfortunately for me, when I feel bad, I eat bad. Simple formula for a weight gain week. While there’s not much to write about, let’s get into it anyway.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021 – Cross Training – I got a nice early morning 3.1 mile walk in today. Pace was average at 17:12, but I got it done.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021 – 5 Miles with a Magic Mile – That’s what the run was supposed to be. Waking up to thunder and lightning turned that workout into a no-go.

Thursday, August 5, 2021 – Drill Run with optional Tempo Segment – Here’s a workout that I did get in. I did my warm up followed by cadence drills and acceleration gliders and then did a half marathon tempo segment. I had heavy legs so my tempo segment was about 23 seconds slow, but I was able to get it done and felt pretty good. 4.1 miles.

Friday, August 6, 2021 – Rest Day

Saturday, August 7, 2021 – 6 x 800m repeats – Woke up with some digestion issues and simply couldn’t get out there. I felt horrible pretty much the whole day.

Sunday, August 8, 2021 – Cross Training – Take Saturday and repeat. Got through church on Sunday morning, then I came home and crashed for the rest of the day.

Monday, August 9, 2021 – Tempo Run – Finally felt back to normal for this one. I sandwiched two tempo miles in between a warmup and cool down mile for 4 total. My tempo miles were 9:57 (37 seconds slow) and 9:27 (7 seconds slow). After the weekend that I had, I was completely cool with that. Here’s hoping next week is much better.

Total Running Miles – 8.1

Total Walking Miles – 3.1

Training Tuesday – August 3, 2021

Starting Weight (July 26, 2021) – 239.0

Ending Weight (August 2, 2021) – 240.6

Change – Up 1.6 pounds

OK, this was a frustrating week on the scale to say the least. The first two days after weighing in at 239 last Monday saw me gain 1.5 pounds each day. I really don’t have an explanation. That means that as of July 28 I was back at 242. Then I started seeing small drops again as things seemed to normalize. Sunday morning which was the day following my 13.2 mile run, I had a big drop all the way down to 237.7. Even after being careful with what I ate on Sunday, Monday morning saw me back to 240.6. The good news is that was still half a pound lighter than Saturday morning’s pre-run weigh in. Still got some work to do to get this thing dialed in.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 – Cross Train – Kept it nice and easy for today’s cross training outing. I was up and out the door nice and early and got a 3 mile walk in to start the day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021 – Hills x 4 – Back down to the oceanfront area to use the Rudee Inlet Bridge for my hill repeats. This time I changed it up slightly by using the lower section of the bridge which actually gives me a slightly longer and more sustained incline. This was a nice change up over the shorter and steeper climb on the upper side of the bridge. Felt good about my effort on this one. 3.1 miles

Thursday, July 29, 2021 – CTP Drills + Tempo Run – Really hazy this morning thanks to the Canadian wildfires. At first I was going to just do the drill segment as I have a long run (13 miles) on Saturday, but since I did the shorter tempo segment on Monday, I figured it was a good idea to go ahead and get the tempo portion in as well. I was about 11 seconds off pace for that segment which I wasn’t thrilled with, but coming off of the plantar fasciitis (about 80% recovered) I won’t let it bother me. I still feel like I’m making strides. 4.1 miles

Friday, July 30, 2021 – Rest Day.

Saturday, July 31, 2021 – Long Run – Normally on a Galloway training program you wouldn’t do long runs on back to back weeks. This week was supposed to be a track workout of 6 x 800s. However, my upcoming schedule was going to make it nearly impossible to get 13 miles in next weekend. After consulting with my coach, he gave me the green light to go long this week as long as I slowed the pace down even more than the normal pace for a long, slow, distance run. I decided to play around with my intervals slightly. For the first 12 miles I did a mile at :30/:30 and a mile at 1:00/:30. The 30/30 miles tended to be right around 13 minutes per mile and the 60/30 miles ranged from about 11:50 to 12:15 per mile. I hit the wall around mile 12 so mile 13 was more like :30/1:00. There was considerably more walking for the final 1.2 miles. My final average pace was still in the 12s so I won’t complain at all. I hadn’t gone this distance in a few months so psychologically it was a nice boost to get to that distance 6 weeks ahead of my next half marathon. 13.2 miles done.

Sunday, August 1, 2021 – Cross Train – I didn’t get out of bed early enough for my normal morning walk so I waited until after dinner and got a brisk 3 mile walk in at a pace of 16:11 per mile. Felt really good coming off of yesterday’s 13 miles.

Monday, August 2, 2021 – Tempo Run – I think that this was the day I felt the effects of Saturday’s long run. My legs felt strong but they just didn’t have that ‘burst’ (I’m really not that fast so it seems weird to call it that) I’m accustomed to. After my ten minute warmup I did 10 minutes of half marathon tempo which averaged out to 9:48/mile for that segment. That’s 28 seconds slower than I should be. Rather than shutting that portion of the workout down, I did 10 minutes at marathon tempo which averaged out at 10:32. Well, the numbers held and that was 25 seconds slower than my marathon pace should be. Despite the slower than I wanted times, I still felt like this was a solid workout. Besides, I’ve got 2 different track workouts ahead of me this coming week. I’ll get to do some speed work.

Running Miles – 24.1

Walking Miles – 6.0

Training Tuesday – July 27, 2021

Starting Weight (July 19, 2021) – 245.2

Ending Weight (July 26, 2021) – 239.0

Change – Down 6.2 pounds

6.2 pounds!!! What a great week. Maybe last week’s gain was a little fluke or maybe it was the kick I needed in the pants to stay on track. Either way, I am thrilled to be back in the 230s at the end of this week.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021 – Cross Training. For starters, it wasn’t the best of nights for me. Around 1 AM I had some stomach issues that hung around for only about an hour and a half, but it really messed with a good chunk of my sleep. I was definitely tired and a little achy when I got up. The scale, on the other hand delivered some good news as I was at 244 this morning. That’s a 1.2 pound drop from yesterday. Still haven’t lost all of that strange jump that I documented last week, but we are heading in the right direction for sure.

I went for a walk this morning. It certainly wasn’t a fast walk or really even a normal walk for me as far as pace goes. I just couldn’t get totally loosened up. Even so, I managed 2.6 miles of walking to start the day and I’ll never complain about getting some work done.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 – Easy Run. Really good start to the day as the scale read 243 which meant another pound down. That means that I’ve lost all but the last pound of that really strange gain towards the end of last week’s training log. This run was supposed to be easy and that’s what I made sure to keep it at. I used a 1:10/:30 ratio as I didn’t want to dial it all the way back to long run pace. This run felt very relaxed and upon completion of the 5, I walked a half mile to cool down.

Thursday, July 22, 2021 – Drill Run. Well, it was another great start to the morning based on the scale. I was down 1.8 pounds from yesterday which currently has me at 241.2. I haven’t been this ‘light’ since the beginning of April. I finally feel like there is some positive momentum in that regard.

Well, the best laid plans don’t always work out. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been fighting a mild bit of plantar fasciitis in my left foot. Ironically it was at its worst when I first got out of bed or when I would get up after sitting for a while. It would loosen up and hasn’t inhibited my running at all. That changed this morning. I hit my first run segment and knew within about 20 seconds that it wasn’t going to happen today. I punted on my drill run and walked 2.3 miles instead. The next couple of days will see lots of stretching and rolling of that foot since I have an 11 miler on Saturday and I would rather not have to adjust that at all. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 23, 2021 – Rest Day. Rough night last night. Came home and on the way home a migraine hit out of nowhere. Managed to eat a little bit of dinner. Fortunately the headache is gone this morning. Even dropped another 1/2 pound. 240.7 on the scale this morning. No planned workout today. I need to mow my grass and I may take a short walk this evening.

Saturday, July 24, 2021 – Long Run. I honestly wasn’t sure how this one was going to play out. I got up early and drove down to my normal starting point for my ocean route. I caught a break with the weather as it was actually only 68 degrees when I started. I used my normal long run ratio of 1:00/:30. I knew I wasn’t 100%, but it was light years better than Thursday. I mean, I could actually run. I held back on the pace and decided I would see what I could do. I ended up running 8 of the 11 scheduled miles and walking the final 3. I stopped running at mile 8 because I knew that my gait had turned into a limp on my run segments and walking felt a lot better. Taking what Jeff Galloway says to heart (the long run is about endurance and time on your feet) I still feel like I completed what was scheduled. To get 11 miles in 7 weeks ahead of Bird In Hand has me feeling that I’m in a good place with my training. I also managed to get some amazing photos on this run. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 25, 2021 – Cross Training. Hello 230s!! For the first time since April first, my scale had me in the 230s this morning. I need a solid day today so that on tomorrow’s official weigh in for the week, I will still be there. I’m really stoked about how I seem to have hit a little bit of a groove with my diet and weight loss this week. Gotta keep it up.

I didn’t technically cross train, but I did mow my grass since I didn’t get that done earlier in the week. I think that counts.

Monday, July 26, 2021 – Tempo Run. Before I talk about the run, I am ending the week in the 230s with another .4 pound loss today which puts me at 239.0. I am super happy about that.

The tightness from my plantar fasciitis has relocated mostly up to my calf. I’m still feeling pretty good, but that tightness is still a minor issue. It didn’t impact my running today, but I still opted to keep the tempo segment to the minimum requirement of 10 minutes using 2:00/:30 for this workout. I did average a 9:05/mile pace during that segment and as always I bookended the run with warmup and cool down using my 1:00/:30 ratio. I also finished this morning off with a 1/2 mile walk.

Weekly Running Miles – 16.0

Weekly Walking Miles – 8.9

Busch Gardens Williamsburg – 7/13/21 – Maxxing Our Thrills

On Tuesday, July 13, Carrie and I had the chance to meet up with Steven and Rocco from the YouTube Channel Thrill Maxx (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdPGAv4Ih8VMLwX09WnS5vA)at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Of course, this is my home park and Rocco has been there before, but it would be Steven’s first time in this amazing place and it was so cool to get to see someone experience the park for the first time.

I really do think that I spend so much time in the park, it becomes easy to take for granted how incredible this park truly is. Watching Steven explore this park with fresh eyes was really something special to watch as it unfolded.

Carrie and I picked up Steven and Rocco at their Air B&B and made our way to the park. As soon as we arrived, we all went to guest services to pick up our All Day Dining Plans as well as getting Steven approved to shoot on-ride footage with his glasses. This was a very quick process and it was time to explore.

The obvious first place to go when starting to check out rides is the legendary Loch Ness Monster. However, when we first arrived at the park, the ride had not yet opened for the day. No worries. We had all day and since this was a Tuesday, we knew crowds weren’t going to be an issue. We would simply come back and hit this ride later on.

We took that right out of the Scotland section and descended (this park is hilly) into Kilarney Village, the park’s Irish themed area. We all got our first of many drink refills (it was going to be in the mid 90s) here and checked to see the showtimes for Celtic Fyre. We were initially gutted (do I sound British when I say that?) to see this sign posted outside of the theatre.

We circled around into the France section of the park where we would grab our first ride of the day on the park’s B&M Dive Coaster, Griffon. I always describe this ride as riding a roller coaster while sitting on a couch. That description isn’t just because of the 10-across seating arrangement, but because the ride is just really that smooth. The views of the James River from the top of the ride are spectacular, and while this ride may be a one trick pony, it does that one trick really well.

Upon leaving Griffon, we continued around the circle and into New France (Canada) to ride the park’s GCI wooden coaster, InvadR. This is a polarizing ride. I get that it had the misfortune of opening the same year as Mystic Timbers at Kings Island, but the comparison between the two is really an unfair one. Mystic Timbers was built as a thrill ride and InvadR was built as a family coaster. Don’t let the family coaster label fool you, though. InvadR provides several really good moments of airtime and seems to be running better with each passing year. I really enjoy this ride and the guys from Thrill Maxx did as well.

Keep reading….the coaster faces get more and more bizarre as the day goes on. It must have been the heat.

We were starting to get really warm by this point, but unfortunately because of the lack of lines, it still wasn’t even noon which is when Le Scoot (log flume) was scheduled to open for the day. Time to grab more drinks and press on.

Up next was my favorite ride in the park, Alpengeist. Despite being over 20 years old, it is still the tallest and fastest inverted coaster (meaning the track is above you) in the world. Carrie and Rocco waited for the front row so Rocco could film a POV and, well, Carrie will only ride the front on this one. While they waited for the front, Steven and I managed two rides. By the time Rocco and Carrie got to the front, the heat was doing a number on Carrie so she sat the ride out. It was definitely time for some nourishment and a break.

That Cobra Roll is absolutely nuts. Such a forceful element.

Our first stop for a meal would be at the Festhaus in the park’s Oktoberfest section of the park. Carrie and I split a pizza and mozzarella sticks while Steven and Rocco both enjoyed some of the German offerings. The German potatoes they serve are absolutely off the hook and I highly recommend them. As we were finishing up our meal, the Oom Paa band was taking the stage for their show. We didn’t stay for the show, but the few minutes we heard were very entertaining. Be sure to check it out!

Back to the rides. If you know the park layout, you know where we went after leaving Festhaus. It was time to brave the Black Forest and ride the park’s unique family coaster, Verbolten. This ride replaced the iconic Big Bad Wolf, and while I still really miss that ride, this is a worthy replacement that includes one of only two drop tracks in the United States. Rocco had said that this is his favorite coaster in the park and Steven really enjoyed it. On our one ride this day, we got the wolves theme inside the show building.

Did I mention that it was hot that day? After riding Verbolten we decided that it was time to cool off on the incredibly Shoot the Chute ride, Escape From Pompeii. This themed water ride is undoubtedly one of the best of it’s kind in the country. The show building is so immersive and is full of fire effects, and falling columns and statues. All of that is followed by an awesome splash down that on this particular ride really got us soaked.

Three coasters left to finish up our credits for the day (we didn’t ride Grover’s Alpine Express). We rode Tempesto, Apollo’s Chariot, and of course Loch Ness to finish up our rides for the day. We had great rides on all three of them. Steven was incredibly excited to ride the first ever B&M hyper coaster (Apollo’s Chariot) and of course the legendary Loch Ness Monster. He was especially impressed with how smooth the 43 year old Arrow looper was running. We also managed to sprinkle in some more food during this stretch, this time from Squires Grill where the fish n chips is really good.

With all of the rides completed for the day, we finished the day off with some more food and a couple of shows. Remember earlier in the day when I mentioned the sign we saw in front of Celtic Fyre? Well I posted it in a Facebook group that I am an admin for (Busch Gardens Williamsburg Insiders) to let people know. Fortunately, someone saw my post and let me know that there were actually going to be two shows that day at 4pm and 6pm. By the time I saw the notice, it was too late for the 4pm, but it worked out perfectly for us to check out the 6pm show. If you want the most up to date information possible regarding Busch Gardens Williamsburg, be sure to click this link and join the group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/537154756851713

After watching an amazing performance of Celtic Fyre it was time for more food at Trapper’s Smokehouse. This is my favorite restaurant in the park. The only thing it’s missing is indoor seating. Whether you get the brisket, ribs, chicken, or the sampler that gives you a little of everything, you won’t be disappointed.

The night cap for the day would be the park’s incredible laser and pyrotechnic show, Spark. Even for someone like me who isn’t into dance music at all (shocking, I know) the quality of this show is incredible to watch. As an added bonus, the park’s fireworks display started about 3/4 of the way through Spark so we could watch 2 shows at once. It truly was a great way to end the day.

This was the first time that we had met Steven and Rocco in person and we had an absolute blast hanging out with them. We would hang out with them again a few days later at Kings Dominion. You can check out that blog here https://charlestonheel.wordpress.com/2021/07/17/kings-dominion-7-16-21-an-interesting-day/

Total Ride Count

  1. Griffon x 1 (everyone)
  2. InvadR x 1 (everyone)
  3. Alpengeist x 2 (Chris and Steven) x 1 (Rocco)
  4. Verbolten x 1 (everyone)
  5. Escape From Pompeii x 1 (everyone)
  6. Tempesto x 1 (Chris, Steven, and Rocco)
  7. Apollo’s Chariot x 1 (everyone)
  8. Loch Ness monster x 1 (everyone)

Training Tuesday – July 20, 2021

Starting Weight (Monday, July 12, 2021) – 243.6

Ending Weight (Monday, July 19, 2021) – 245.2

Difference – up 1.6 pounds

Training Log

Tuesday, July 13 – Cross Training. Today was typically a day where I would just take an early morning walk. However, I got my cross training by doing a whole lot of walking at one of my favorite places in the area, Busch Gardens.

Wednesday, July 14 – Hill Repeats x 4. After a 12 hour day at Busch Gardens yesterday, I was grateful that today’s workout was only 4 hill repeats. My legs were certainly not at 100% and I was tired. Got the repeats down down by the ocean and finished the run with 2.5 miles.

Thursday, July 15 – Drill Run. This morning’s drill run went really well. I warmed up for 10 minutes using my 1:00/:30 ratio. That was followed by 5 minutes each of cadence drills and acceleration gliders. Then, I went ahead and did the optional tempo run segment. I did 15 minutes of half marathon tempo work using a 2:00/:30 ratio and averaged a pace of 9:23 for that segment. I finished with a 1:00/:30 cool down and logged 4 miles for the day.

Friday, July 16 – Rest Day. No workout today. I spent the day hanging with Carrie and some amazing friends and Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA. There will be a full trip report posted on this blog page by the time this training update posts.

Saturday, July 17 – 4x800s. For starters, I got out to the track way too late for a July morning. Normally I would start this workout around 6 or 6:30 AM. However, after a long day at Kings Dominion, I finally got started at the track at 8:23 AM. It was already 81 degrees, humidity was near 90% and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Certainly not ideal to try to bust out some speed work. My coach is currently running the Hard Rock 100 in Colorado and he wasn’t able to update my target pace for the 800s since my most recent Magic Mile. No worries. I knew that my previous target was 800m in 4:35 so I was trying to beat that mark by roughly 10 seconds. This workout calls for a warmup followed by 800m repeats with a 400m recovery walk that should take the same amount of time as your 800m run. Well, despite the less than ideal conditions, I managed to bang out the 800s in 3:53, 3:56, 3:59, and 4:10. They did get progressively slower which tells me that I certainly started too fast, but I also can’t discount the weather. It was brutal. Bottom line is that I know I pushed myself pretty hard and had a great workout. Total miles for this workout – 5.0.

Sunday, July 18, 2021 – Cross Training. I ended up taking the day off. We got home from church and I crashed. Then we received an invite to join some friends for pizza and corn hole so my normal walk just didn’t happen.

Monday, July 19, 2021 – Tempo Run. So this morning started off with angry Chris. After eating a turkey and roast beef sandwich for lunch and three slices of pizza for dinner, I somehow managed to gain 3.2 pounds in one day giving me a net gain of 1.6 pounds for this week. Not cool at all. The day then got better as I went out for my tempo run. Overnight storms had the temps in the low 70s and although the humidity was still up, there was no sun beating down on me and even a slight breeze. I banged out 4 miles including 2.1 miles in 20 minutes at tempo pace. That averages out to a 9:31 pace for that 20 minutes. Not too shabby. Well, next week is a new week and that scale is going to move in the proper direction.

TOTAL RUNNING MILES – 15.5

Kings Dominion, 7/16/21 – An Interesting Day

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

Before I get into the details of a very hot day at Kings Dominion, allow me a few moments to deliver a sort of Public Service Announcement. If you are at a park and you are riding a ride of ANY thrill level, but especially a roller coaster, either put ALL of your loose articles (hats, keys, phones, glasses if they aren’t on a strap) in a locker or leave them with a non-rider. It’s outright dangerous. I’m sure many of you will say that you always take your phone on rides and it’s never come out. It only takes one time and you can potentially impact someone for the rest of their lives.

Yesterday, while on a ride of Intimidator 305, we got an up close and personal look at why you shouldn’t bring anything on a ride. If you don’t know, this ride is 305 feet tall, reaches speeds in excess of 90mph and is generally considered one of the most intense rides on the planet. Here are a couple of photos.

While on this ride with Carrie and 4 other friends of ours, I suddenly heard my friend Steven yell from behind me that something had hit him in the face. It turned out to be (we believe) a pair of glasses that someone had in their hand and dropped during the ride. How do we have that much detail? While telling the ride operators what had happened, a young man was telling another ride operator that he had dropped his glasses on the ride and the area where he said that he dropped them was right in the area that Steven got hit. Here’s our on-ride photo which snapped seconds after the incident and a picture of Steven on the ride platform while we were waiting for first aid.

After some time in first aid, Steven’s day was over because his eye was just throbbing so bad. Steven is a fellow coaster enthusiast that was making a road trip with his friend Rocco to visit some parks that he had always wanted to visit. His final day at Kings Dominion was cut short because someone couldn’t be bothered to follow park policy, and the employee at the entrance to the ride didn’t catch the guy coming on the ride with a loose article. This could have been avoided if someone had just bothered to pay attention.

Ironically, this afternoon as I was scrolling through Facebook I come across this post in a Kings Dominion group. I have cropped the posters name out for obvious reasons, but just read this.

This type of attitude causes the problem.

Notice a couple of things here. First of all, he admits to frequently taking his phone on rides and that he has never lost a phone on a ride in 11 years. The phone falling out of his pocket ruined his day so much that he ultimately left because he was so upset about his phone. No mention of being thankful that no one got hit by it (Dominator has 5 inversions and approaches 70mph). On top of that, after several other posters including myself reminded him that the phone shouldn’t have been on the ride in the first place, others came to his defense telling us that it had never happened to him before and it was just one time. It only takes one time. If those glasses had hit Steven an inch higher, he could have been looking at significant damage to his eye. Come on people. Ride lockers aren’t that expensive. If you’re going to the parks, budget $5-$10 depending on the park for an all day locker that you can move from ride to ride. It’s the responsible thing to do.

NOW FOR THE GOOD STUFF

Yesterday, Carrie and I made the trek up to Doswell, Virginia to hang out with our friends Steven and Rocco from Thrill Maxx (https://www.youtube.com/c/thrillmaxx), Patrick from We Were Inverted (https://www.wewereinverted.com) and his friend Kaylee. As I mentioned earlier, Steven and Rocco were finishing a four park trip that included Silver Dollar City, Carowinds, Busch Gardens Williamsburg (I’ll blog on that later), and Kings Dominion. They had spent Thursday at Kings Dominion and the other four of us were going to join them for their final day of the trip. This was also Kaylee’s first visit to Kings Dominion.

Carrie and I arrived at the park right at opening which was 11am. Patrick and Kaylee were supposed to be there around the same time. Steven and Rocco were supposed to get there around noon. Well, Carrie and I were the only ones who didn’t have traffic issues getting to the park so we had the first 2 hours by ourselves. After making sure all of our season upgrades were active our plan was to hit up I-305 for a few rides before everyone else arrived. Well, that ride was down at the beginning of the day so we went back to ride the park’s wonderful RMC Twisted Timbers. We practically walked right on to the front row and the back row in succession and had amazing rides. In a shocking development, we finally found a coaster that Carrie prefers the back row on.

It was an incredibly hot day so hydrating and taking advantage of A/C at every opportunity was important. We grabbed drinks and went over to ride the park’s shooting dark ride, Boo Blasters. For the record, I smoked Carrie on this ride by nearly doubling her point total.

After that ride, we got word that the others were within about a half hour of the park so we decided to grab lunch at the park’s newest restaurant, Grain and Grill. Oh my goodness, Kings Dominion upped their food game with this restaurant. The garlic herb chicken was fantastic.

As we were finishing up, the rest of the crew arrived so we set out to ride some coasters. The park closed at 7 that night and since it was now approximately 1:15, we needed to ride as quickly as we could. Ironically we went back to Twisted Timbers for another amazing ride on this machine. Everyone was stoked for what should be an awesome day hanging out. While in that section of the park, we snagged a quick ride on Apple Zapple (the park’s Wild Mouse). It’s actually a fun Wild Mouse as it has a unique layout that includes a decent size drop.

We then went back to Grizzly so that Carrie and I could snag a Grizzly pin to add to our collection and for Kaylee to get her credit on this wooden coaster that hides back in the woods. Steven and Rocco sat out as they didn’t enjoy their ride on it the previous day and Carrie chose to sit out as well. Patrick, Kaylee, and myself made the walk back to see what Grizzly had in store for us. This ride is really a mixed bag. They’ve done some re-tracking on sections of the ride that seem to have significantly improved the airtime. On the flip side, the laterals on this coaster are pretty rough. It’s a one and done for me each time I visit, but I always ride it because with an old wood coaster, you never know when you might be riding it for the last time.

We then made our way to the classic out and back wooden coaster Rebel Yell….oops….Racer 75. They were only running one side of this racing coaster, but my goodness is it running incredibly well. Loads of airtime and a very smooth ride.

Up next was the big one. Intimidator 305. I won’t rehash everything but above. Obviously we only got one ride on this incredible coaster, but it still delivers a really good ride. While it’s not for the faint of heart (it causes me to gray out for a few seconds every time), if you’re up for the challenge, this is a MUST RIDE.

While Steven and Rocco were at the first aid building, the rest of us made our way over to the park’s indoor coaster from Premier Rides, Flight of Fear. I’m so glad they ditched the over the shoulder restraints on this ride several years ago. It’s much more enjoyable with just a lap bar. My only complaint is the same complaint I have about every Premier coaster I’ve ridden. The trains are ridiculously tight. I know I’m not the smallest guy, but even smaller people that I know find these trains difficult to get in and out of. This ride is still delivering a pretty smooth ride experience and I love the launch out of the station.

Next, Carrie and I went to grab some more food (gotta make use of that dining plan) while Patrick subjected Kaylee to the pain inducing Arrow looper, Anaconda. While I didn’t ride it yesterday, I’m always saddened by how rough this ride has become. It was a fantastic ride early on, but time (and the park’s maintenance procedures) have not been kind to it. I’d much rather photograph it than ride it.

We then all met up with Steven and Rocco to say our goodbyes as they were going to leave so Steven could go lie down and get some ice on his eye. Then we went to Berserker where Patrick and Kaylee enjoyed the most hang time in the park on this looping pirate ship. I used to love this ride, but as I’ve gotten older, I just can’t do it anymore.

Up next was my favorite B&M floor-less coaster, Dominator. I truly forgot how fast that ride moves. While it has picked up a bit of a rattle since the last time I rode it, it is still such a good ride as it just plows through those 5 inversions and really barely slows up at the mid course brake run.

We had to ride Dominator. I promised Beth we’d ride it for her as it’s her favorite ride in the park.

This would be mine and Carrie’s final ride of the day. Patrick and Kaylee went for a spin on Backlot Stunt Coaster and Kaylee then rode Windseeker by herself. We finished the day by spending some time atop the park’s Eiffel Tower getting some photos from an incredible vantage point.

Overall this was a fantastic day. I hate what happened to Steven and wish we could have hung out more. I little rain shower mid day to cool us off would have been nice too. All in all, the park wasn’t very busy. I don’t think we waited more than 20 minutes for anything and most rides were practically walk-ons all day.

It should also be stated that while this park is certainly not Busch Gardens for theming and aesthetic beauty, it is still a very pretty park and it has a strong top 3 coasters and a solid supporting cast underneath of that. If you haven’t been, you need to get there to check it out.

FINAL RIDE COUNT FOR CARRIE AND I

  1. Twisted Timbers x 3
  2. Apple Zapple x 1
  3. Grizzly x 1 (Chris only)
  4. Racer 75 (north side) x 1
  5. Intimidator 305 x 1
  6. Flight of Fear x 1
  7. Dominator x 1
  8. Boo Blasters x 1
  9. Eiffel Tower x 1

PHOTOS FROM AROUND THE PARK

Have you visited this park? What are your favorite rides or memories? If you haven’t visited, what ride do you most want to ride? Comment below.

Training Tuesday – July 13, 2021

Starting Weight (Monday, July 5, 2021) – 245.7

Ending Weight (Monday, July 12, 2021) – 243.6

Difference – down 2.1 pounds

Training Log

Tuesday, July 6, 2021 – Cross Training. Today I did another ‘Gwinning’ workout for cross training. I walked 2 minutes and then jogged (ok, today I ran) for 30 seconds. I logged 3.46 miles at a 13:49 pace using this method. My extra push today was most likely motivated by the scale this morning. I don’t like any weight gain, but a 1.8 pound jump in one day with really no explanation that I can find is aggravating.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021 – 5 miles with a Magic Mile. I left it all on the track this morning. I did my warmup mile using a :45/:30 ratio and then mile 2 was the Magic Mile. I knocked that mile out in 7:47 which is a 20 second improvement from my June 5 time (which was my first MM of this training cycle). I was gassed after that mile, but then did the final 3 miles of the workout back at the comfortable :45/:30 ratio. Five miles on a track is really boring, by the way.

The scale started to move in the right direction again today and I backed it up with a really solid day as far as my diet goes.

Thursday, July 8, 2021 – Drill Run. Significant change on the scale today. Will have to wait for tomorrow to see if it was a scale anomaly or if I got things jump started again. Not ideal weather for the drill run. Tropical Storm Elsa is set to arrive later today so at 6:30 in the morning it was 79 degrees with 88% humidity. Not fun. Managed my 10 minutes of warmup using 1:00/:30. Followed that up with 5 minutes each of cadence drills and acceleration gliders. The workout than has an optional 10-15 minutes of tempo work. I did 11 minutes using a 2:00/:30 ratio (that’s a first in a long time, but I wanted to experiment with it.) Why 11 minutes? Well, that allowed me to get a full mile split without using the lap feature on my watch. That split came in at 9:26 which I was really happy with. I then cooled down at a :45/:30 until I hit mile 4 and that was the workout. I was drenched. I was gassed. It felt great!

Friday, July 9, 2021 – Rest Day. Not much to talk about today except that I did start my day off with an easy 2.3 mile walk around the neighborhood. The only remnants that Elsa left behind (even after a tornado warning last night) were some down limbs and I really only saw one of significant size. Grateful for God’s protection.

Saturday, July 10, 2021 – Long Run (9 miles). Brutal. There are just no other words to describe today’s long run. I got a nice and early start, but even that couldn’t keep the humidity at bay. 90% humidity when I started my run. Less than two miles in I was struggling to keep my breathing comfortable. I made the decision that I would simply slow it down, walk when need be, and get it done. Part of getting it done included a complete change of clothes at mile 7 because I felt like I was carrying about 10 extra pounds of water in my moisture-wicking shirt and shorts. Long story short, I got my 9 miles in. It was more than a minute slower per mile than my current recommended long run pace, but I don’t care. I didn’t let the elements beat me. I got it done.

Sunday, July 11, 2021 – Cross Training. Really tired today. Stayed in bed and didn’t get my walk in before church. Almost let the entire day slip away without doing it, but finally got myself in gear around 7:30pm and did my neighborhood loop for a little over 2.5 miles of walking. Busy week ahead including a couple of days doing one of my favorite things….riding roller coasters!

Monday, July 12, 2021 – Tempo Run. Woke up slightly disappointed on the scale as I had a little uptick from yesterday’s number. I stayed under my caloric goal for the day but looking back, my food choices were most likely too carb heavy. Either way, losing better than 2 pounds this past week is not anything to be upset about. Just need to keep the momentum. Now on to the workout. Steam bath would be appropriate. At 5:20am shortly after waking up, the temp was 75 with 89% humidity. At least I don’t have to go 9 miles today.

So yeah, that wasn’t fun either. I did my ten minutes of warmup using a 1:00/:30 run/walk ratio. Then I ramped it up for 15 minutes of half marathon tempo using 2:00/:30. I covered 1.57 miles during this stretch which comes out to a 9:33 pace. That’s a little slow based on my recent magic mile time, but in these conditions, I’ll take it. Cooled down using 1:00/:30. Actually felt a little bit nauseated when I came in so I grabbed some flat Coke Zero (thanks Jeff Galloway for that tip) and got some on my stomach to settle it down. 3.4 miles in the books.

Weekly Running Mileage – 21.4 miles

Honoring My Father

Four years ago today, my world turned upside down. My dad passed away after a brief battle with lung cancer. I’ve written about him before and even put a written copy of my eulogy for him on the blog back in 2017. What I want to do today is simply tell you a few things about my dad. He truly was the greatest man I’ve ever known and I miss him everyday.

  1. He loved his wife unconditionally. He cared for her through many years of various illnesses. While it was exhausting and at times frustrating, he never gave up and walked away. She meant the world to him and he did everything in his power to help her out. After he passed away, mom was simply lost. She never got over losing him and if the truth be told, his passing most likely caused her to stop fighting her own illness.
  2. He loved me more than I could have begun to fathom until I had kids of my own. Whether it was driving the team bus for basketball and baseball games I played, riding crazy roller coasters that he probably shouldn’t have tried to ride, or just being available to talk on the phone when life was crazy, I never doubted his love for me. When I met Beth and started dating her and ultimately married her, he accepted her as if she were his own daughter. He sacrificed so much for me both when I was a kid and even as I became an adult.
  3. His granddaughters were the light of his life. Nothing could make him light up like seeing Carrie and Hannah. He adored those two girls and they adored him right back. He will forever be their DadDad and I know that he would be so proud of the young ladies they are growing into.

In closing, here are some pictures of my dad including the last picture I have of him and I together. It was taken on his birthday one month to the day before he passed away. What I wouldn’t give for one more conversation with him, but I know that I will see him again.