Where's Waldo Wednesday - 4/11/13-4/24/13

Friday, April 26, 2013

Where's Waldo Wednesday - The point of the week where more is behind than ahead and the weekend, and thus playtime, is the bright light at the end of the tunnel.  Why did I call it Where's Waldo Wednesday?  No particular reason really...other than I like alliteration and it is fun to say.  Try saying it five times fast!

A weekly series of what's new around here and other ramblings like things I found interesting on the internet this week or cool runs I did, kind of like a weekly synopsis.  Originally, I was going to do this on Sunday and call it Sunday Synopsis but then I couldn't decide between Sunday Synopsis and Sunday Summary...so I did the only logical thing and decided to write it on Wednesday?

This week's post is somewhat of a doubleheader because I missed last week but there are some fun/important things to include...so you get two for the price of one.  Also, that means this post is probably WAY too long for you so you may just want to skip through to options of interest.

The Week's Happenings

Wow.  It seems like forever ago (really only two weeks) but so much has happened.  

1. I WON I WON I WON!!! Well, actually it's not really that exciting but who doesn't love FREE stuff.  I was slow to adopt Instagram and still have my reservations about it, mostly because I see it as redundant now that Facebook has built in filters, but there is obviously a strong community that really loves it so I've been doing my best to use it with an open mind.  I don't really follow too many folks on Instagram, either because I haven't found their feeds or they don't seem to interest me.  However, one company that I do follow on both Twitter and Instagram is Clif.  I've been fortunate to win things from them before and few weeks ago they posted a photo that grabbed my attention, enough so that I read the description, and they were giving away 10 copies of Learning to Fly by Steph Davis.  I was lucky enough to win a copy (I think only 90 or so folks replied to the post) and when it came in the mail they had thrown in a package of Bloks and some other nutrition.  Awesome! Finding out I won.

Finding out I won!

Free copy of Learning to Fly by Steph Davis

2. Charlotte Weekend Numero Uno.  A couple months ago, Michelle and I received an invitation to a former coworkers wedding for the second weekend in April.  Michelle and I were so excited that we didn't even think to consider other things we had planned/going on that weekend.  Eventually, we realized the wedding fell on the same day as the Run in Remembrance that we had planned to run together, as in actually running side by side and not running separately-concurrently.  We decided with a 3PM wedding and the 9AM start time of the run we could do both if we planned accordingly and although it may be tight time-wise we would have some room for traffic delays.  We were all set to run until Thursday evening when we realized that logistically it could work, but from a stress perspective and in consideration to the bride and groom, we decided to play it safe and not have to worry about speeding to make the start of the wedding because of possible accidents/unforeseen traffic.  In hindsight, it was the right decision although a difficult one to make at the time.

Before we could leave however, I needed to get in a long run because there would not be a chance between the wedding and reception and well...we wanted to have fun...so the run needed to get done early.  I wanted to get in ~3 hours of running which made for an early start.  I stumbled out of bed shortly after 5 and managed to eat a banana and yogurt before heading out into the dark-cool morning air.  My run was pretty simple, run out on the Huckleberry trail and make a lap around the New River Valley Mall including a pedestrian bridge before heading home on the same trail with a slight detour through town to take on an extra couple miles. It took me a while to get my phone out but once I did most of the train had gone by.  Considering how often I run this trail, it is rare to see a train on these tracks.

With my run completed, and having stretched, showered, and eaten in less than an hour, we were out the door making the quick drive down to Charlotte.  We arrived with some time to spare and did a little shopping before meeting up with friends to head to the wedding.

As we stood outside the church after the wedding I snagged this photo of the following weekends challenge.  Looks ominous!

The Church.

Well...we tried to get a good photo of us but it was so bright that it was tough not to squint.

The wedding was gorgeous!  Congratulations Jerry and Kate!  Michelle and I had an amazing time in Charlotte and both of us really miss the city and all it has to offer.  Maybe...just maybe.

3. Monday was terrible.  I was in class when everything happened in Boston but when I got out I checked my phone and I scrolled through Twitter trying to understand what exactly had happened.  Obviously at that point everything was complete chaos.  I went home and was glued to the TV for most of the evening.

4. WE WILL PREVAIL!  Along with the rest of the United States, the Hokie Nation awoke Tuesday morning with heavy hearts not only for Boston but also for the loss of 32 Hokies on April 16, 2007.  I simply had to take the day hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute.  I knew I wanted to run on Tuesday, especially since I had missed the Run in Remembrance on Saturday, and didn't have a particular route or mileage in mind but knew I wanted to run for those who no longer can.  I left my apartment with my camera in hand and let my feet do the leading.  I wound up running around campus and visited many of the spots that have meant so much to me through my years at Tech.  Torgersen Bridge and the Pylons. The Duck Pond.

Torgersen Bridge and the Pylons. 

The Pylons.

  View of the Drillfield from the pylons.

I stopped by the memorial and thought about that tragic day here on campus and how in the days and weeks following the Virginia Tech community came together stronger and more vibrant as a result, a journey Boston was just beginning that morning.  

  The April 16th Memorial in front of Burruss Hall.  (I tried to get a photo of the flame that burns all day, it's tough to make out but you can see the case in this photo.)

Burruss Hall.

The memorial looking the other direction.

Massive old tree at the Duck Pond.

More of the Duck Pond.

The water is rarely low enough to walk across the stones between the upper and lower sections of the Duck Pond but it was so I took this photo from them.

This is my first memory when I came to tour tech.  A bunch of bushes trimmed in the shape of the VT logo. 

THE Lane Stadium.

I know that when Enter Sandman comes on in Lane Stadium that our fallen Hokies are teaching the other angels how to cheer for our team as they enter a stadium.  Tuesday evening was the most difficult part of the day for me because I only had one class for the day but it was very weird to be in class on April 16th.  In the years following April 16th, classes were canceled on that day every spring but after "most" of the students who were present graduated they resumed holding classes, a decision I cannot begin to understand.  I know that the purpose of the university is to educate individuals but in my opinion the day should be a day not only to remember those who we lost but also to live each day in a joyous way outside of the classroom.

At the end of my run, I decided to run up the Clay Street hill which I have avoided like the plague and always said "I'll run it eventually" or "I'll do it another day" but it was time to live for the day and take hold of the opportunity to have air in my lungs and enjoy the run, pain and suffering included.

Clay Street Hill.  Just as brutal as I thought it was going to be.  Glad I did it.

5. My Beautiful Fianc√©  On Thursday evening Michelle came over to Blacksburg to have dinner together and try out the new dumpling place in town.  I was totally surprised when she showed up and as her friend Shannon put it "you're bald!  But in all seriousness, I love her new haircut.  So much so that I got in trouble when I tried to tweet it because it was supposed to be a surprise for Friday!  

I eventually coerced her to smile for a photo but had to promise not to post it!  We grabbed some ice cream downtown after dumplings and checked out the new mural by a local artist.  Not so sure about the deer but I love, no pun intended, the "Love Where You Live" slogan.

Love Where You Live

6.  Race to the Top! Duke Energy Stair Climb Charlotte, NC When I first signed up for the Duke Energy Stair climb back in the first week of February, I had the Run in Remembrance on my calendar two weeks before and the North Face Endurance Challenge in early June but nothing else around the time of the stair climb.  Things changed.  As you know from above, Michelle and I were at a wedding in Charlotte the weekend before and I foolishly signed up for a +50K race the weekend after which made for a VERY busy April.  On the Thursday evening prior to the stair climb, I wasn't sure if I was going to do it because of school deadlines/projects that were consuming my life and was leaning toward not doing it.  As I walked to class on Friday morning, I realized that I "could" finish my project AND compete in the stair climb on Saturday if I drove down for the day and didn't spend the whole weekend being non-productive.  I sent a few texts and by noon on Friday I had committed to driving down EARLY Saturday morning, doing the stair climb, setup a time to grab lunch with friends, and make it back Saturday afternoon to get some school work done in the evening.

I wanted to get down to Charlotte around 8:30 and with a close to 3 hour drive from Blacksburg I wound up leaving just after 5:30 Saturday morning putting me close to goal arrival time.  The drive is super easy.  81 to 77 and mostly 70MPH the whole way which made for a mindless drive; important because my mind was not fully functioning at that early hour.

Early start to the day!

The gorgeous view as you drive down Fancy Gap.

  You can just see the Duke Energy tower behind the small tree on the right in the picture.  I believe it is the second tallest building in Charlotte, only behind the Bank of America tower on the left.

When I arrived in Charlotte, just after 8:30, I parked in a friends garage and made the short five block or so walk to the Duke Energy tower.  The photo below is what I saw when I turned the corned at the base of the Duke Energy tower.  In the year that I lived in Charlotte, I never noticed or made it to any of the business in this breezeway, although I ran past it plenty of times.  I had plenty of time before my wave started at 9:50.  I quickly received my timing chip and bib and found a warm spot in the lobby while I waited for my corral to be called.

**I'll make a note of this here but you can just skip if you're not interested.  I was ABSOLUTELY SHOCKED at the lack of security/police presence at this event given that it was only 5 days removed from what happened in Boston on Monday!!!  There was one security guard in the lobby of the tower, who was really there to prevent anyone from trying to access the elevators and eventually two dressed officers were present but stood by a planter talking for the majority of the time I waited.  Scary.**

The registration area.  
The firemen you see were competing in the stair climb as well...but with all of their gear.  Intense!

Folks queueing in line to start the stair climb.

As I mentioned above, firemen participated in the competition and were at the end of each wave.  There was a HUGE amount of dead time between the advanced climbers who's wave had already started when I got there and the intermediate climbers (my wave) at 9:50.  The advanced wave was done around 9 or shortly after and thus we were just waiting for 9:50 to roll around.  Thankfully the folks handling the timing realized this and let us start just after 9:30 and let climbers go as they pleased.  

I did absolutely no warm-up and in hindsight I'm not sure I would change that.  At 9:33 I crossed the starting mat  (contrary to timing issues) and began to ascend the 50 flights!  I had talked to a few of the advanced climbers while I waited in the lobby and asked for advice or what they thought of the climb. They all said just don't go out too fast.  When I started, I didn't even really run, I just climbed every other step and maintained a steady pace trying to be conscious of my breathing.  I didn't bother with any of the water stops and just continued up, passing at least 10 folks in front of me and not being passed by a single climber.  Somewhere in the mid-30's I noticed I was a little dizzy but I suppose that is to be expected when you make more than 100 right turns looking at your feet as you climb stairs.  Once I hit the 40th floor, I began to push it and the last three flights, DARN YOU, were actually taller than the other floors and had 2 landings per flight (or three sets of steps between floors).  At the top I was greeted by a...rather small cheering party...maybe five or so people, all of whom were volunteers, and was awarded my medal and I grabbed a cup of water and took a seat cheering on the folks I passed on my way up as they finished.

Thankfully the way down was by elevator, although the first flight down from 50 to 49 (no elevator access on 50) made me realize my quads were like jello.

At the bottom there were WAY more people then when I arrived, most of whom were waiting around to being in the one of the 8 total waves they had scheduled for the day.

Asked a couple to grab a photo of me.  Unfortunately, my friend who I signed up with was unable to compete in the event because of illness.  Maybe next year I'll be able to convince more friends do it.

Overall, it was WAY easier than I thought it was going to be.  I didn't notice any feeling of soreness on Sunday which I found surprising because I thought it would be different muscles than I normally use when I run.  I sat around and enjoyed the gorgeous morning and took in the view of what I had just climbed while replenishing with a refreshing adult beverage, even if it was 9:50 in the morning.

Finisher medal and free beer! 

Cool art in the plaza outside. 

Afterwards, I grabbed lunch with a couple friends and then headed back to Blacksburg.

There was a slight issue with my timing.  While I waited around for my friends to make their way over to the plaza I checked the results and noticed my name was not posted.  Fortunately, I talked to the gentleman at the entrance of the climb who was manually entering times as runners crossed the starting mat and verified my start time, 9:33AM.  It took a few days...and several emails...but I eventually received my time of 9:07 or 12seconds/flight.  Thank goodness they had people at the bottom and top recording information.  

Results. The guy who won did it in 7:08.  DANG!

5.  Blacksburg #RunForBoston On Monday, Blacksburg runners joined thousands of other runners around the world to run in solidarity for the events that occurred just one week prior.  It was a chilling reminder of how fragile we are but also an impressive display of resilence and community.  I was proud to take part and was quoted in the local paper.  Full article here.  There were several Blacksburg runners competing in the marathon when the bombings occurred.  Thankfully, all were safe.  A couple of whom shared words before we ran Monday evening.

Listening to the runners present in Boston speak about their journey. 

An easy four mile run on the Huckleberry trail.  It was an open run.  I choose to do 4 miles.  One for each of the victims.

Quoted in the Collegiate Times.

And with that I'm headed out the door for the Promise Land 50K tomorrow.  All I can say is that it's going to be...interesting.


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