Archive for April, 2008

8th Annual OKC Memorial Marathon

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Last Sunday was the 8th running of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. The day dawned cold and wet with a light but consistent drizzle falling on the runners as they gathered before sunrise. The traditional Sunrise Service at the Survivor Tree was emotional and honoring to both those who lost their lives on April 19th 1995 and to the thousands of runners who came to honor their memories and celebrate life.

Since t3, kimo, goose, maverick, big and weeble are all part of the race organization, they were all at the start early. This year t3, kimo (and his 13 yr old son) and mav were running the full marathon. PIT “A-train” Hill was the captain of a relay team and the Pirañas were planning to run with each youngster as they completed their respective legs. Goose was running the Half marathon with two of his sons. Weeble was in charge of logistics on the race course, so he decided to sit it out this year.

The race start was stirring and emotional with 168 seconds of silence followed by Jami Smith singing her new song, “Faith”. After a few final rousing words, the horns sounded and they were off!

The rain had let up and they faced a steady north wind as they headed out to the lake. Crowd support was good considering the poor spectating weather and they were running well and enjoying the morning. They made the first relay exchange (at 5K) with all parties intact, only to find that their next runner had gone to the bathroom and not been seen since. After a short but nervous wait, they decided to go on without him and let him run a later leg with another team member. They were getting warmed up and the day was shaping up nicely as they headed toward the second exchange (10K to go, 15K total).

At 7.5 miles goose and his boys made the turn to finish the half marathon. The sun began to show itself as they finally climbed the hill on Classen and approached the second exchange. t3 and mav had pulled away from kimo and son after the first exchange, so they were going to run the middle leg (12K to go, 27K total) alone. The day continued to improve as the sun warmed them and the cool north breeze kept them from overheating. Just past the half way point they got to the lake and began the return trip back to downtown.

They circled around the south end of the lake and after going through Stars and Stripes Park, picked up their 4th relay runner (but only the second to actually run!) and the second relay runner (who had been found) and made their way into Nichol Hills. T3 was getting a little low on energy at this point, but they continued on. The day was still beautiful and even though it had warmed up a bit, the cool north breeze kept them comfortable. They made it to the next exchange intact and picked up PIT “A-Train” Hill and started out for the final 10K.

T3 has a tradition of going into Dunkin Donuts on Classen just past the 23 mile point and buying a double chocolate donut. Every year (he has run all 7, now 8, Memorial Marathons) he offers to buy anyone with him (that means anywhere near him!) a donut if they will go in with him. In 7 years only one guy has taken him up on the offer. This year was to be different! With Mav and A-Train he had a built in donut group. They ran into Dunkin and got in line. After purchasing their donuts, the team ran back out onto the course and started began the 3 mile push to the finish. By this time, t3 was fairly worn slick and was struggling to maintain pace, so mav and a-train ran on ahead while t3 ground out the final miles with the other runners he found himself with.

Mav, goose and a-train came back out on Broadway to run in with t3. A perfect end to a perfect day!

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Congrats to Weeble

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Weeble, a founding member of the Piraña Brothers, works for an international package delivery company (we won’t name names, but it rhymes with “medlex”.) Anyway, he has been takin’ the tests and doin’ the dance to be eligible for a promotion to manager. He has been practically doing the manager job at his station anyway. But you have to color by the numbers.

So, today Weeble found out that he made the grade and will now be a manager! We are sure that his time and training as a Piraña was instrumental in his meteoric rise to fame, fortune and power.

Weeble, the Piraña Brothers salute you!

NFEC 50K Race Report

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

T3, Mav, Mark, and the Brothers…

That was the single hardest thing I have ever done.

April 12, 2008. Bear Mountain, New York. The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k.

Maybe I shouldn’t have signed up for this race the day after Sapper try-outs. I must have been out of my mind. Surely I was still delirious. Or, it could be said, I was in a perfect state of understanding pain. Sapper induced the kind of pain that I liked, and something in me knew that the Endurance Challenge would do the same. No matter the rationale – or irrationality – back in February, I clicked “submit” on my entry form, and there was no looking back.

I got one of my Firstie (i.e. a Senior, Class of 2008) friends, Wilson Galyean, to sign up with me – even if he was only going to do the half-marathon. In his defense, he has Nationals competition for his Combat Weapons Team next weekend, which is why he chose to forego the 50k. Wilson and I wanted to run in memory of a mutual friend, 1LT Tom Martin, class of 2005. Tom was killed in Iraq on 14 October 2007. He had been over there for 13 months, and had led his platoon over 1800 miles of walking in that time. Not mounted, not driven… Boots on the ground. 1800 miles. Wilson and I decided that logging a few painful miles would be a good way to honor Tom. Tom was an Armored Cavalry officer, so I wore a “Cavalry” cap in the race. The back of it says, “If you ain’t Cav…!” To finish that statement in euphemism…if you ain’t cav, well, you ain’t really worth very much at all.

Race morning… Crash, flash, boom. Thunder and lightning, baby. I woke up to a storm that the 50-milers were currently running through. I briefly felt like a lesser man for not being out there with them. But the storm that I awoke to quickly passed and – though it left a sloppy, wet signature on the course – we would run dry for the rest of the day.

The start of the race itself was the most low-key “Ready, Set, Go!” I’ve ever experienced. Having never been a part of a trail race – or the trail running community – before, I took an observer’s back seat, trying to learn the culture, customs, and etiquette. The field of 70 or so gathered around the start line in a horse-shoe formation, no one wanting to volunteer to be the front-runners. The starter announced, “5 seconds, folks….go!” And most of the runners took another 5 seconds beyond that to say their farewells. Having no wife or kids to kiss good-bye, I strode to the front, and even my pedestrian 9 minute per mile pace was more than enough to snag the lead. Ha. I had no idea what I was doing…

I ran the first 5.3 miles (until the first rest stop) with a group of 3 other guys – Chris, Alex, and Matt. Alex, I learned, was a Class of 2000 graduate from West Point. He’s now out of the Army and working for a Fortune 500 company in NYC. He said I could call him in 7 years and he’d hook me up with a job. Alex went on to win the whole race by over 30 minutes. Go Army.

Shortly after the first rest stop, I faded off the pace of Alex and the others and knew that I would be alone for the next marathon or so. I began to notice the scenery and analyze life as a race. The brief rain yielded into a thick fog. Then once that fog lifted, the air was thick with humidity. On the tops of mountains it was sunny and hot, but in the valleys below it was shaded and cool. Temperatures ran the spectrum, up and down.

Terrain… How do I describe the terrain? Mortal man has tried to describe it with a 5/5 difficulty rating… Cycling vocabulary would almost certainly call it “hors categorie.” What I have in my head, what my eyes have seen can hardly be described in words. Boulder fields. Countless stream crossings. At times I felt like I needed a helmet and ropes to get up – and down – some of the terrain. I don’t know if this was a “trail” race or a “creek bed” race. And “race” should be used sparingly. This was an endurance event where some people get to the finish line before others.

At the second and fourth rest stops I had to have my ankles taped up because I was rubbing and bleeding pretty badly. Lesson 1: wear quarter-length socks. Lesson 2: don’t buy trail shoes online. In the end, I had 5 quarter-sized rub marks on my feet, but in the moment I didn’t care about any of them. On, pressing on! I kept thinking about the rules of the Brothers: Never let the colors fall! (Not that I own the colors yet…) Get to the finish line, period. My mind added to that mantra when one guy on the course, making encouraging conversation, said, “It’s just pain. Keep moving…” It’s just pain, it’s just pain…

The stretch from the rest stop at mile 19.6 to the rest stop at mile 26.7 was the most brutal. I got passed by a few dudes, and I was ok with that. In high school I would have made excuses, downplayed the performance of my competitors – even teammates – or claimed I was having an off-day of sorts. But this day, this course, humbled you to the point where nothing resonates but extreme, utmost respect and admiration for anyone who is out-performing you.

Seeing the sign at the 26.7 mile rest stop, I thought to myself, “So, this is the absolute farthest that I have ever run. Each step forward is a new P.R.” That was a neat feeling, but it wasn’t as epic as I thought it might be. It was almost a “business as usual” feeling. Why celebrate when I still have 5 more miles at the office?

Those last 5 miles I felt a new revitalization. The worst of the hills and technical terrain were over. I actually re-passed a runner in those last 5 miles, gaining back one place. Having memorized the elevation chart for the course, I knew exactly when I was making the last (comparatively) small climb and I was grinning ear-to-ear when I was descending toward the finish line. When the finish chutes were in sight, and I could hear my friends calling out my name – including Wilson, who had finished hours earlier -, I threw my shoulders back, stood a little taller, thought about Tom Martin, and ran strongly on in to my first ultramarathon finish.

Endstate: I finished in 7:29:43 – 15th place overall and 2nd in my age group.

The North Face deserves a mad shout out for the show they put on. Now, I’ve never experienced a trail race event before, but I can imagine the problems that could come with marking a trail course. For 31 miles I followed a train of blue ribbons, no two more than 20 meters separated from each other. The rest stops and rest stop volunteers were everything you would/should expect. I had the opportunity to experience the medical tent - twice. I had my heels taped at the 2nd and 4th rest stops. The medics were quick, caring, and very professional. I appreciated the speed mixed with proficiency. Food at the rest stops was superb, too. The apples were amazing…! And gummy bears….perfect. At the 4th rest stop I felt a little like I was force fed, but I’m ok with that. The volunteers kept offering me stuff, and I kept insisting that I was fine…and they kept offering still! I would finally agree to one of their suggestions just to get them to leave me alone. This was repeated 4 times at the same rest stop. But in the end I recognize how delirious I was at that mile 19 and how much the food was truly needed. And the schwag was tops, too. The race t-shirt was a top-tier North Face technical tee. Also included with registration was a North Face visor, socks and a water bottle with a hand strap. For my 2nd place age group finish I won another technical tee and visor. The top 3 finishers won hundreds of dollars of North Face and Accelerade junk.

The morning after a race like this there are 2 possible thoughts that could be spinning through one’s mind: 1) Never again! 2) When’s the next one?? Me, I’m hooked, baby.

Is it sick that I’ve already considered signing up for the September 6th North Face Endurance Challenge race in Washington, DC? Yes. You guys should come do it with me. A little prep for the Mother Road, yeah??

Next time I hit the trails I’ll have better shoes – ones that I’ve actually tried on before purchasing them. And I’ll have better head knowledge about what to expect on a 5/5 trail.

And that’s the race report. So, The North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain, NY… Yeah, that was the single hardest thing I have ever done – to date.

Rape, pillage, and plunder…
Take all you can, give nothing back!

P.I.T Swanson

http://www.thenorthface.com/endurancechallenge/

Respectfully,

Cadet Corporal David Swanson
West Point, USCC ‘10
F2, The ZOO!

GO NORDIC SKI!

x4890

Seconde de Swanson dans la catégorie

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

PIT Swanson competed in the North Face Endurance Challenge on April 12th. Billed as, “A serious, hardy test for trail runners of any level”, The North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain, NY, takes place on the western shores of the Hudson River, in the craggy foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Runners negotiate technical terrain and rocky footing that cuts to the chase, with some trails heading steeply uphill rather than zig-zagging at a gentler grade. Descents end in wooded hollows before the next rapid climb ending with a breathtaking view. Make no mistake: this is a tough test of off-road endurance. You can view his race report here.

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Our boy represented both West Point and the Piraña Brothers with honor. He was joined at the event by several other West Point men.

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PIT Swanson finished the 50K trail race in just 7:29:58 making him the 2nd male under 20 and 15th overall in the race. Nothing good comes without some sacrifice and pain, however, as we can see here:

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Way to go Cadet Corporal Swanson. You keep this up and you just might be a real Piraña some day.

West Point Piraña

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

The Piraña Brothers would like to introduce you to a Piraña-In-Training (PIT). Cadet Corporal David Swanson is currently at West Point training to be all he can be. When he is home we work on his Piraña training and we have high hopes for him. He keeps us posted on all things West Point and sometimes we even count what he is doing there toward his training here.

Recently he completed a 30K ruck march/run as on the way toward earning his German Proficiency Badge. What the heck is a 30K ruck march/run you ask?

Here it goes: 30K with a 22 lb. pack (his actually weighed 24 lb.) The course was three 8.3K laps (3 significant hills each lap) and one 5K lap. Lap times were 1:10, 0:53, 0:53 and 0:32 (he ran the first lap with a Navy girl which he claims cost him 17 min, but whose counting anyway?) The Gold standard requires a 5:00:00 finish but our boy cruised in at 3:27 and change. Hooah!

hooah.jpg

2 weekends from now he is doing a 50K trail race (North Face Endurance Challenge) and then the Jersey Marathon (hoping to get his BQ.)

PIT Swanson signs all his emails to us as follows:

Rape, pillage, and plunder.
Take all you can, give nothing back. Hooah.

We think he is going to make a great Piraña!


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