Today's Mighty Oak

So, one of my PRorER teammates tagged me in a fun running challenge:

It definitely took me a while to whittle it down to 10. I have a lot of good memories at a lot of good races (and a lot of bad ones as well), but I think this is a good list:

Pittsburgh Marathon 5K 2014

My very first race! I got a weird start to running, I was a Kickstarter backer for Zombies, Run!. That came out, and it still felt beyond me, so when they came out with their Couch to 5K app (Zombies 5K), I finally picked up the sport in a healthy and sustainable way.

I remember being in the start corral and my friend who went down to run with me being surprised when I raised me hand as the DJ asked if anyone was there for their very first race (a lot of us were). She was so proud of me at the end, and this began our tradition of meeting at ‘Lost Child’! This is also my favorite medal the Pittsburgh Marathon has done that I have.

EQT 10 Miler 2016

This was the first race that I trained for with a plan (thank you Hal Higdon, although I will say, his 10-miler plans are not great in terms of weekly to long run mileage ratio; stick to his half and full plans). I remember how proud I was after my last long training run of eight miles!

My friend Sean paced me for this race, and he was amazing for doing so! I also had it in the back of my mind that if I could run 10 miles, I could run a half that spring (spoiler: I did)!

Zombies, Run! Halloween Virtual Race 2017

ZR is the absolute gold standard for virtual races. While most are virtual time trials where you pay for a medal and some swag (I’ve signed up for many based on the medal or the cause, I won’t lie), ZR races have a story, interactive elements, training ‘missions’ and a vibrant community obsessing over the characters.

I ran this race with a friend at a local park. We timed it so the sun was going down and we would finish just as it was getting really dark, and the sound editing and story made it such a surreal experience, it was the perfect way to enjoy the Halloween themed race!

Veteran Half Marathon 2018

This race sticks out for three reasons. One, it was run on a motor speedway. And not just a big oval, but over three really winding courses.

Two, I got to run this with my aunt! My aunt lives outside of Harper’s Ferry, W. Va. and has been a runner for a long time, so I went down with a friend to run this race with her. The wind was brutal, I actually had windburn on my face and hands after this race, but still came away with a PR.

And thirdly, this was also my first experience with a ‘runcation,’ which I’m a big fan of! Getting away to see a new city on foot (or in this case, a city that has changed a lot since I had been there), or for a destination race, is such a great way to see the country and a nice change of pace, it’s highly recommended!

Eagle Up 2018

Crewing at EAgle UP 2017 was amazing. And when r/running decided to go back in 2018, I was even more prepared. This is what solidified us as a running family (and team), under the banner PRorER.

Helping to get my friends to their goals, as well as the absurdidty of what we put together, was amazing on every level imaginable. This was also the origin of my ultra/running name “Tent Daddy,” which honestly, is a point of pride for me.

Crewing takes a lot out of you, when you do it right; maybe even more so than running. I know that at the end of each event I’m crewing, I’m under a fog of both physical and mental exhaustion, but also gratitude for being allowed to serve. I hope that the runners I’m supporting see that: I may be more reserved and inwardly focused, but it’s all out of a quiet service and love, as well as utilizing the time to work on my own personal improvements, even when taking care of the needs of those running.

I love my running family, they’ve seen me through so much, and I’ve welcomed them into my home and my heart. I could not ask for a more wonderful family to run with.

GAP Relay 2018

I had a lot of issues with how this race was managed, but it helped me find a community of night runners that continues to this day. Shared toil can bring people together, and this race certainly did. We had a great time, despite a lot challenges, and I’m proud of us for that!

Eagle Up 2019

My first time running an ultra. After crewing a few times, I figured it was time for me to give it a shot. I had a blast, was supported by an amazing team, made new friends on the course, and even finished in the top third for my event, far exceeding my own expectations!


A two-day, last person standing race put on by a friend and member of my ultra team. Friends from all over the country in a county park, their families, a big cookout feel, the most amazing raffle prizes, and lots of running loops, what more could I ever ask for?

This weekend is such an idyllic memory for me, not only the feel of the entire weekend, but also setting up and tearing down the course, building and installing a literal bridge and the camaraderie from this amazing group.

Philadelphia Half Marathon 2019

I went in hoping to PR and I worked my ass off to do so. The goal was to break 2:10, with a stretch goal of sub 2:05. I came in sub two hours! I remember not even believing it, even as I was staring at my results on my phone. The crowd support in downtown was phenomenal, and I got a chuckle that everyone from Philly died on the two hills as I just passed them all with ease. Getting cheered on by the Philly Frontrunners at the very end was just the icing on the cake.

This was also a runcation with amazing friends. I got to explore a new city, ride the train for the first time (and finish up my NaNoWriMo novel while on board at the end of the weekend) and enjoy a real vacation for the first time in a long while.

Pittsburgh 30K

My first trail race! This was a fatass race put on my the local outdoor store. I made some scones to share and got lots of compliments on them, but the aid station winner was the Pittsburgh cookie and pierogie table!

A group of four of us from PRANK ended up running together and we got to see parts of Pittsburgh I’ve never dreamed of seeing (and might not be able to again based on planned development, which was the impetus of the event).

While it may not be my favorite, I’m glad I dipped my toe in the trail running world, this was the perfect way to do it.

Except for ‘that’ hill.

You know the one.

Temperatures got hot. I melted a bit. Also, my one foot is feeling a bit off, so I’m going to rest a bit more and then get back at it as I can. Bit of a setback, but again, I’m reminding myself that I would be in taper mode at this point.

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 8 miles.
  • Wednesday: 5 miles.
  • Thursday: 7 miles. Speed work: Tempo: 14min/4R/12min.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 10 miles
  • Sunday: 6 miles. Slept in after a socially distanced party/campfire for my goddaughter’s first birthday, so didn’t go out until the heat of the day. Part of me thought it would be great heat training, but I went out too fast and there isn’t much shade on my loop (I think I might have been okay on the trail). I’ll try for that 20 mile this upcoming weekend.
  • Long run fuel: Tailwind.
  • BWF/Core work: Just one workout this week, again, just feeling down.
  • Stretching: In need of a reset here too. Back at it this week.
  • Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000K progress (1021K): 147/634miles. There’s one other runner with the same last name, so I like to think I’m chasing him. He’s still ahead, but I closed the gap a bit this week!

Temperatures swung from snow last week to 70s and maybe even some 80s this week. Glad I’m doing the GVRAT to force myself into summer miles, but this is a learning experience for me for sure!

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 7 miles.
  • Wednesday: 4 miles.
  • Thursday: 7 miles. Speed work: VO2: 5K pace, 2×1200, 2x1000x 1×800.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 12 miles
  • Sunday: 18 miles. Met a friend for a socially distant walk/catch up for about an hour afterwards on a couple park benchnes, and it was so, so needed.
  • Long run fuel: Tailwind, Bobo’s bar, Gu.
  • BWF/Core work: Two workouts this week again, so on track.
  • Stretching: Back into the habit of stretching, but still room for improvement.
  • Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000K progress (1021K): 111/634miles. There’s one other runner with the same last name, so I like to think I’m chasing him. He’s still ahead, but I closed the gap a bit this week!

Back at it this week, had to dodge a few rain clouds (and snow on Saturday), and looks like that will continue this week.

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 7 miles.
  • Wednesday: 4 miles.
  • Thursday: 8 miles. Speed work: VO2: 5K pace, two sets: 2×1200 1×800
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 6 miles
  • Sunday: 18 miles. Hit up the Jail Trail, which was mostly empty since I got there early and it was still cold. Made a detour to the Point to round out my mileage for the day.
  • Long run fuel: Tailwind, Bobo’s bar, Gu.
  • BWF/Core work: Two workouts this week! Felt good, but sore to get back to it.
  • Stretching: Back into the habit of stretching, so we’ll keep that going.
  • Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000K progress: 63/635 miles. I’ll have to double check, I think this race is 635 miles, but that number may be a bit off. A 1000K is 621, but the course is a bit longer than that, as is the case with many ultras.

First week of real training for O24, and feels good to be back. I’ll be adding in BWF work this week, bt I’m back on the stretching train, so that helps a lot!

My long run was tough, it was really humid, warmer than it had been all week, and the trail was packed, mostly with people fishing in the stream that runs next to it. Sadly, so few people were wearing mouth coverings, but it’s at least wide enough to keep my distance.

  • Monday: 7 miles.
  • Tuesday: 4 miles.
  • Wednesday: Rest.
  • Thursday: 6 miles. Ran the Zombies, Run! Spring virtual race, which was a ton of fun, one of their best!
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 5 miles
  • Sunday: 14 miles.
  • Long run fuel: Tailwind, Bobo’s bar.
  • BWF/Core work: Took the week off, restarting next week.
  • Stretching: Back into the habit of stretching, so we’ll keep that going.
  • Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000K progress: 19/621 miles.

Alright, let’s see what we have today. First up, the stories behind the names of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods.

The stories within stories: the fictional books we wished were real.

The recurring jokes of Arrested Development.

New Looney Tunes are coming to HBO Max and this is making me want to subscribe:

The PG (granted, it’s become a right-wing rag on the editorial side) has a neat interactive site about the bridges of Pittsburgh. Note this may be behind a paywall, I think it was one of my three free articles when I read it.

Dolly Parton secretly executive produced Buffy! And we just now found this out!

A DM and a set designer created a DnD adventure in a dresser! Each drawer is new level of the dungeon!

We’ve all been doing a lot of virtual exploration of place, and the British Museum recently revamped their online collections.

Speaking of, need some peace in your life? Check out the livestream of the Northern Lights!

Because there is such a need for blood right now, the FDA has reluctantly allowed itself to accept blood from gay men, as long as we don’t have sex for three months. They still don’t want our blood, but they realize they need it.

The Atlantic has a great piece about pandemic fatigue, how we should approach it both in ourselves and others. The article also covers the similarities between COVID and the HIV pandemic: they’re very, very similar, just on a different time scale. Be kind to yourself and others, be as smart and safe as you can.

Also in Pandemic related content, CGP Grey’s new video about it. While I will disagree, I think that for many, just surviving is enough (instead of creation of coming out ‘better’ in some way), this video has great tips about how to survive our new reality:

Dumb Runner, The Onion of running, hits it on the head: Local runner cancels backyard marathon, refuses to offer refund.

New research shows that Antarctica used to be a rain forest. Global tectonics and climate history really are awesome!

The voice of Big Thunder Mountain looks exactly how you think he does. And that is comforting.

The trailer for the new Netflix show ‘Hollywood” looks really fun:

Myst is set to become a TV Series….for the third (?) time. I’m excited, but will believe it when I see it.

Slog has great coverage of the white privilege of protesting stay at home orders. Worth a read.

An artist created a chandelier that forms as it collects rain water, and it’s beautiful!

That’s it for today, but I’ll be back soon, have a great one!

So here’s where we are. Eagle Up is cancelled until 2021. O24, which was supposed to be this weekend, has been delayed to the first weekend in October. In a cruel twist of fate, that means that I could do the same training plan starting at that point (the week I log below) and it would line up perfectly.

However, that would mean that I’ve been ‘in training mode’ since Christmas for a race in October. Yes, this training cycle has increased my speed and I’ve made some great progress, but that’s a lot to take on, mentally.

I took the whole week off, mostly as a mental reset, but did participate in the virtual Doc’s Blow Out Yore Butt challenge on Friday. The idea was to tackle one of your soft PRs and see if you could break it.

My softest PR is probably 50K, but I wasn’t going to go after that, instead, I decided to run a 10K. My previous PR was 59:19.

So, I adjusted a bit, jumping into week 4 of my plan (a mix of two RFP plans and the speedwork from Uncle Pete) and then adjusting/repeating around week 12 and 13 so it all works out pretty well. This puts me back into VO2 speed work which I’m dreading, but also know it will make me a better runner.

I’m also dreading all the summer running I have in front of me. To help with that, I signed up for laz’s 1000K virtual race across Tennessee. We have four months to log 1000K, and since this is probably my only chance to run a laz race, I figured, it’s a good way to get some inspiration.

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: Rest.
  • Wednesday: Rest.
  • Thursday: Rest.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: Doc’s Blow Out Yore Butt challenge – 10K: 54:08, new (unofficial) PR!
  • Sunday: Rest.
  • BWF/Core work: Took the week off, restarting next week.
  • Stretching: Should have stretched, but didn’t. Back at it.
  • 1000K progress: Starts May 1.

My friend and teammate Lauren planned an eight hour puzzle run for her birthday. And while we couldn’t all go to Indianapolis to do it in the park like she originally planned, we were able to all compete virtually!

Each hour, she would release a new clue. You then than three options for getting the second clue to that hour:

  • Run 2-3 miles
  • Walk 1 mile
  • Do some sort of activity for 30 minutes (this could be wiring, cleaning, other exercising, whatever you wanted to do).

After you got the clues, you’d come up with either a three digit code or three letter word to send back. If you were right, you got one of the eight puzzle pieces. First one to assemble all eight puzzle pieces correctly wins!

You could participate as a team, but I was running solo. You could also front-load miles for those who wanted to do a long run; they would get the clues each hour at quarter after. I decided to run three miles each hour, which gave me a little taste of a last person standing race. I set up in my basement with my laptop, some snacks, water and at 9 a.m., I took off for my first run. Each hour I’d be running 9 loops of my neighborhood.

Hour 1 – Numbers. Run time: 30:15

At the top of the hour, Lauren gave us six Sudokus. The second clue showed us which three boxes we needed to turn into her. I copied one of them wrong, so I had to come back to this after my hour two run, but I enjoyed it, it’s been a while since I’ve done any Sudokus! This is where I also learned that doing these kinds of mental tasks after running is harder than I expected!

Hour 2 – Ballroom. Run time: 28:56

This freaking puzzle! This one gave me the most trouble the whole day. We got the image below as the first clue, and then the second was the crossword that showed what letters to send back to her.

I made a word bank, and eventually Lauren released a better word bank, so I was able to figure it out from there. But man, I was googling everything (names of famous hip hop dancers, George Fred Astaire, synonyms for tango, my search history is something else!) and I tried some wild things, even trying to figure out how to use the clock as a clue.

Eventually I finished up Numbers and resigned myself to keep working on Ballroom for the rest of the day.

Hour 3 – Sign. Run time: 28:31

This hour’s first clue was a sign from Bryan’s Family Fish Market. After my run, I got the blank puzzle with a few letters filled in (like Wheel of Fortune). Eventually, I started crossing off letters from the sign and filled in the puzzle, asking me for the number of MPs in the UK House of Commons. Sent that off, got my puzzle piece and stared some more at Ballroom.

Hour 4 – Bar. Run time: 28:04

Hour four gave us a picture of bottles lined up on a bar. After my run, I was asked to make a Moscow Mule, the three digits being the number of each bottle. Stared some more at Ballroom and got some more substantial food from upstairs and refilled my water bottles.

Hour 5 – People. Run time: 27:47

This hour brought us six people with their ages, pointing to each other. After my run, I got an order of mathematical operations. The first solution I came up with (using the order of operations), was a four digit number, and I knew that couldn’t be right, so I went back and did each step as a separate, individual equation. That yielded the correct three digit code!

Still working on Ballroom, but I also took the pieces that I had and started to put them together in Photoshop. I could see what is was going to be, but still had half of the pieces to collect. This was also where the running was really starting to wear me down. The breaks were good for my legs, but the brain keeps going, even when you’re running, so it was quite a workout the whole day!

Hour 6 – Words. Run time: 27:32

This one also took a while to figure out, and Lauren released a bunch of extra hints for it. At the top of the hour we got three columns of three letter words. Our clue was red, yellow and green boxes that corresponded with each of them.

At first, I thought it was finding similar letters in the green box words, and maybe some overlap from yellow. I also tried finding the most used letter from each column, and the most used letters from each color.

Eventually, figured it out that red words had no correct letters, yellow had a correct letter in the wrong spot and from there, I was able to brute force through it all to figure out the answer, but not until after all my runs were done.

Hour 7 – Clocks. Run time: 27:35

This one was ingenious. At the top of the hour we got eight clocks that were missing their hands. The second clue ave us the hands.

So at first, I tried finding a pattern in the times, and looking at the elapsed time between each clock. I tried adding up the total elapsed time, nothing was working.

Hour 8 – Excerpt. Run time: 27:26

I went out for my last run, hoping to get back quick enough to give myself a fighting chance to finish up Words, Clocks and Excerpt. I made it back, grabbed my computer and phone and ran upstairs to see what I could finish.

The first part of the clue was an excerpt from Sherlock Holmes on a very busy background. The second clue was a color wheel with an arrow pointing to cyan.

If you filtered to read the cyan part, you could make out an extra sentence near the end. I saw the word ‘address’ in it an immediately send in the clue of 221, the first part of Holmes’ address. Knowing it was a three digit code, there was nothing else it could be.

I still needed to get words Words and Clocks. Words I was able to work my way through, it just took me until after run eight, leaving only clocks left to be solved.

Staring at it, I suddenly realized that one of the clocks was from Ballroom! I actually made it harder on myself by going back to that clue and trying to read the time off of it. The more simple, and correct answer was to just send in the time that matched that clock from the second part of the clue. That series of texts, sending in the answer for Clocks as my mind worked through those revelations was amazing and I was cheering in my house! That gave me all eight pieces!

I put them together, sent it in, and won the individual race! A four person team finished up very shortly after hour 8, and a two person team didn’t finish until just before the end of the day cutoff, so I’m very happy with my performance!

As sad as it was to not be together to celebrate her birthday, being able to play this amazing game virtually was great! Following along with people working through puzzles and running all day was really awesome.

I can also say that this is the first time I’ve ever won a race! Guess it takes a combination of mental and physical tasks to give me a chance! But I will say, I’m really proud with my running. Getting consistently faster throughout the day was not something I expected to be able to do, and I really impressed myself!

Lauren did such an amazing job putting this together, changing it to a virtual event on the fly, and coordinating us all as we ran. I think there at least 40 people participating which is so awesome to have such a big group, from all over the country playing!

This inadvertently became my last race for the spring, and I’ve taken the next week off (going the same direction for all of my running around my neighborhood tiny loop has done a number on my left Achilles). I have the Zombies, Run! spring virtual coming up, and then I’m gong to do Laz’ The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000K to make sure I keep up my running over the summer and to get ready for the newly rescheduled O24.

This week was filled with highs and lows: Lauren’s (Virtual) Birthday Puzzle Race and then Eagle Up being cancelled until 2021. I’ll have another post up with my thoughts and how I’m changing my training, but for now, here’s my last post for this series.

Wash your hands, stay home, wear a facemask when you go out and let’s all band together (by staying apart) to get through this together.

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: Rest.
  • Wednesday: 10 miles.
  • Thursday: 9 miles.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 24 miles – Lauren’t (Virtual) Birthday Puzzle Race!
  • Sunday: Rest. My Achilles was a bit tender from the race the day before, and with EU being cancelled, I needed the mental break.
  • Long run fuel: Tailwind, Bobo’s Bars, Honey Stinger Waffle, homemade crusty bread.
  • BWF/Core work: Did the BodyWeightFitness Recommended Routine once this week, still making some good progress, but now I’m out of the habit, have to fix that!
  • Stretching: Out of the habit of this too, but time to make it up!
  • Race report owed: Lauren’s (Virtual) Birthday Puzzle Race

A big week, and I’m feeling beat up by it, but still going. Have a fun virtual event this Saturday I’m looking forward to!

Wash your hands, stay home, wear a facemask when you go out and let’s all band together (by staying apart) to get through this together.

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 10 miles.
  • Wednesday: 8 miles, steady state 20 minutes.
  • Thursday: 6 miles.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 10 miles.
  • Sunday: 22 miles. Hurt my Achilles during this run, it’s real tender, so hopefully nothing some rest won’t cure.
  • Long run fuel: Tailwind, Bobo’s Bars, Gu.
  • BWF/Core work: Did the BodyWeightFitness Recommended Routine twice this week, still making some good progress!
  • Stretching: More stretching, although I did miss it one day.

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