https://thomasgounley.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/joggling.jpg

Yes, doing long runs while juggling is more critical to my commitment to set a Guinness World Record in a year, but I wanted to switch things up and see how fast I could run one mile while juggling. And today was the day for that.

A little background: Having left Newport News, VA, I’m now on base at in Fort Knox, KY for a couple months. In my week-and-a-half here, I’ve been running, but not joggling, largely because living on an Army base amplifies just how…um…odd the sport of joggling is (insert DADT joke here).

But Fort Knox happens to be one of three Army bases in the nation with a high school on-base, and high schools tend to have tracks. The one at Fort Knox High School (home of the Eagles) is nice, and seems to be empty and accessible every time I go out.

So today I jogged over there to set a PR. It’s about a mile away- a good warm-up. I shed my neon yellow reflective belt (required when running around on-base) and was off.

Having run three miles at 6:35 pace while juggling, my goal was to go sub-6:00 for the solo mile. How far below I could go I wasn’t really sure.

The worst thing was not being able to check my splits (ie- the time for each of the four laps). Since your arms are occupied, you can’t easily sneak a peek at your watch. So I just ran along blind, lap after lap. I did know that things hurt quite a bit, which I took as a good sign.

There were two drops, at about the 200 and 1400 marks, but I recovered quickly. As I crossed the line, I let the balls fall in favor of stopping my watch.

5:32.

Faster than I was expecting, honestly. I certainly wasn’t going to complain about that. Mentally I was preparing myself for something in the upper 5:40’s or 5:50’s. I did a few labored cool-down laps around the trip and jogged back to the hotel. Short workout for the day.

My 5:32 would have been fast enough to take the win at two of the last three World Joggling Championships (and five seconds off the win in the other instance). But I don’t expect to be touching Will Howard’s Guinness World Record of 4:42.

So how was joggling on an Army base? While I was running, there were two policemen chilling next to the building across the street.

They stared. The entire time.

#lifeatfortknox

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The second half of a couple day road trip in the mountains. The first half is here.

After finishing up the ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway around 10, I drove south on I-81 for a few hours. I stopped in Roanoke briefly to wander around downtown, but otherwise headed directly to the final activity I wanted to accomplish on the trip: hiking Mt. Rogers.

I planned on hiking the next morning (Sunday), but since I arrived in the national forest at the base of the mountain around 4 pm, I opted to do a little hiking before dark. I was just planning to go out for an hour or so (I wasn’t looking to summit), however once I got going it was hard to turn around, as I was quickly above treeline and there was lots to see.

I didn’t try to hit the summit, but I got in a good 3.5 hour hike/run (the latter because I was kind of racing darkness toward the end), and summited a peak nearby to Mt. Rogers.

The next morning, Sunday, was a bit of a rude awakening, as I was incredibly sore from doing 50 miles of cycling on the parkway and over three hours of fairly rigorous hiking in one day. I opted to drive around to the other side of Mt. Rogers for the climb, since I didn’t really want to hike the same trail I had done the day before. This brought me to Grayson Highlands State Park, and I had the place pretty much to myself at 7 am when I arrived.

Although the scenery the day before had been gorgeous, coming from the state park is undoubtedly the best way up Mt. Rogers. The scenery is incredible. Unlike the rocky, lifeless peaks of New Hampshire, exposed areas in southwestern Virginia are more likely to appear as endless grassy fields.

Complete with wild ponies.

Yes, while organisms struggle to survive above 4000 feet in New Hampshire, there is a band of wild ponies that lives in the Grayson Highlands area. It’s pretty awesome to be hiking along and come across wild ponies that hardly seem to notice you exist.

The route for the day was pretty much just the Appalachian Trail, though you take a spur trail to the summit at the end, as the AT doesn’t go over it. Mt. Rogers is the highest point in the state of Virginia at 5729 feet, and is the highest state highpoint east of South Dakota without a road to its summit.

Obviously, a summit shot was obligatory.

As you can see, the summit is in the trees, so the best views of the day were on the way up and down. But there were ltos of good ones. All in all, it was about a three-hour hike round trip.

The familiar white blaze of the Appalachian Trail

A shelter along the trail

As earlier stated, I decided to take the drive to Fort Knox for my summer internship a little slowly by stopping in the mountains in western Virginia for some hiking/cycling/running.

It was a very good decision.

I left Friday morning and made the four-hour drive to Buena Vista, VA, where I hiked the Appalachian Trail up and over 4054′ Mt. Pleasant. It was a great day weather-wise and the scenery was immaculate.

There weren’t that many people out, but I did pass a southbound thru-hiker. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him, but he must have left Maine crazy early; SOBOs wouldn’t normally be passing through the area for another couple months, to say the least.

I did about four hours of hiking out-and-back, drove in to Buena Vista to scout out where I could leave my car the next morning, and then drove back into the George Washington National Forest, where I found and followed an obscure gravel path into the mountains.

About five miles later, I came across pretty much the perfect camping area, right next to this bridge.

There was on other family there, but things were pretty quiet initially. After killing the time reading by the river, I fell asleep wicked early. Around 4:30 am, I woke up and decided I didn’t really want to sleep anymore (perhaps the other family did too, as they had a raging bonfire going at that hour…), so I packed up in the dark and drove into Buena Vista, catching the sunrise along the way.

After waiting for it to become light enough, I abandoned the car in a grocery store parking lot, prepped the bike, and started cycling up to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Easier said than done.

Getting to the Parkway from town meant cycling four miles uphill with an eight percent grade. It was probably the toughest part of the day, but that way it felt like I’d earned the views once I got up there.

I did about 20 miles out and back on the parkway. It was mostly downhill on the way out, and mostly uphill on the way back. Turned around where the parkway goes over the James River.

Traffic was quite light due to the early hour; in fact, I probably saw more cyclists than cars. The parkway is definitely something of a cycling mecca: low traffic and speed limit, even road surface, and nice descents and climbs.

Once I got back to Route 60 and got off the Parkway, it was all downhill to Buena Vista. In fact, I think I averaged 35 mph without pedaling once. Quite the exciting ride; lots of twists and turns and I was pretty much going the speed limit, so I just took the lane and cruised. Very nice.

Hit a milestone yesterday with the first double digit distance joggle. Ran 10.2 miles, basically two laps of the Newport News Park bikeway. That’s about a 50 percent jump from my previous joggling distance PR, which was the seven miles I did in my first joggling attempt ever.

It was pretty much a flat course, though only about 20 percent is paved. The entire thing took 1:11:35, or pretty much exactly 7:00/mile pace. Even though I started at 9 am, the heat was the main factor to battle for most of the run, and I was glad to average what I did. Ten miles is 1/5 of the distance I’ll go in my world record attempt. The current world record is 8:23:52, which is about 10:04/mile pace.

(Pardon the Garmin data. I needed an image to accompany this, and the Garmin data thing has kind of become a trend, although I typically reserve it for more exciting races. Oh, and I’m not sure what that spike at 2.25 is; I don’t recall anything affecting my pace all that much).

It seems a bit odd to throw together a race report, a distance I rarely race these days, but here goes.

At one point, of course, the 5k was everything. High school cross country meant a series of about 10 races over the course of two-and-a-half months, and even when it wasn’t XC season most physical efforts were done in preparation for throwing down when the next September or October rolled around.

As a result of those days, I still have a lot of respect for the 5k, and I still have a desire to beat my PR of 16:35, as that which mean I could finally vanquish and claim superiority over my high school self.

Today’s Yorktown Freedom Run didn’t result in that moment, but I’m quite pleased with how it went nonetheless.

It was the first 5k I’ve raced since October 2009, when I ran the UNH Homecoming 5k. That race resulted in a time of 18:11, and today’s effort, on a slightly harder course (it was about 2/3 trail, 1/3 pavement), netted a finish time of 17:17. That was good enough for third overall (okay, technically I was the fourth guy to cross the finish line, but the guy in front of me was over 40, which means he was listed as top master and I received third overall), which resulted in a check of $25.

I’ll keep the race summary short. I started out fast, sharing the lead with some high school kid for about the first 3/4 mile. At that point, we were passed fairly decisively by a group of three. I went through the first mile in 5:12 (which is probably one of the faster race miles of my life), and then slowed over the next two- nothing catastrophic, just a gradual decline. Hit the two mile mark in 10:58.

From the mile mark on, I basically ran in fourth the whole time, as I put a little distance on the high school kid and kept 10-15 seconds behind the guy in third (doesn’t sound like much, but it is). The two who received first and second overall surged ahead and finished around 16:10. The guy in third did 17:10.

I spent most of the race marveling at how I was going to be done in less than 20 minutes. Marathons and ultras have gotten me conditioned to mentally preparing for multiple hour efforts. It was a nice change.

Anyway, I was quite pleased with the 17:17. We’ll see what the work schedule is this summer; if I can manage to find some local races to jump into, I’d love to attempt to make a little more headway on it.

Complete race results here.

I’ve been saying I would for a couple weeks now, but today I finally got around to filling out my record attempt application for Guinness World Records. It basically gives Guinness the details on your record attempt, and they get back to you in a month or so and tell you if your attempt is good enough.

I filled it out with my first-choice course; if necessary, I have some backup plans. I’m not sure how picky they are. Not making the attempt until next spring, so plenty of time to rework things if necessary.