Monday, December 11, 2017

Beat down in Alabama. Rocket City Marathon 2017.

I'm not really sure where to start so I think I'll begin with the event itself by saying that its a great marathon. This was the 41st annual and the Huntsville Track Club does a wonderful job with this small city race. The organization is near perfect with good communication, plenty of friendly volunteers and the Hunstville Police and EMS out in full force.

 The race starts at the Von Braun Center, a complex of several halls and the Probst Arena which is a 10,000 seat multi use facility  and home of the Hunstsville Havoc minor league hockey team. The start is just outside the doors so it was nice to have plenty of rest rooms and stay inside before walking out 10 minutes before the gun, especially on a 25F morning.


 The course isn't flat but there are no major hills and overall is a pretty fast course. Plenty of aid stations and  no way to wander off course. a nice tour of the downtown, residential areas and the highlight is running through the NASA Rocket Center around mile 17 to 19. Very cool running by Saturn V rockets and under a space shuttle( not a functional one) and by lots of other space paraphenalia and aircraft. The finish line is inside the VBC so its nice to have a warm place and access to your clothes to change before heading back to the cold outdoors.



 The End.

 Ok, I'll spare you a complete blow by blow. But be warned, it got ugly.

 I felt fine at the start and was holding back close to the 3:58 and 3:53 pacers. They have pacers for just about every 5 minute increment ! It wasn't long before I became frustrated and regretting wearing my Garmin.. Normally I race with my chronograph so my splits are matching the actual mile markers. By mile 3 it was already off a full 10th of a mile or about 50 seconds at my pace. Grrrr. So I was having to just do a lot of mental math to figure out I was in the ball park of where I wanted to be which was close to 9mp this early.(by the end was off a full 3/10ths of a mile)

  It was nice and calm and sunny so I was quite comfortable and seemed to be dressed plenty warm for the conditions and by mile 5 I removed my gloves. I was in a nice groove and feeling good, but I should be considering this is my normal easy run pace. Things were going well and I was enjoying the day and very gradually getting my average pace to my goal of sub 3:55.(yes a fantasy)  Around mile 10 I noticed the breeze beginning to pick up as I felt a little chillier but the time was perfect at that point.

 I passed the half with about 45 second cushion on the 3:55 goal. This was by the Von Braun Center so lots of cheers along there as we headed out on the 2nd half of the course. By now the wind was definitely picking up (never got too bad), just enough to make me glad I hadn't tossed the gloves away.


 And then at mile 15. I was very disappointed to feel the race slipping away, several miles sooner than I had hoped. At first it wasn't too bad, just a short walk break here and there. The biggest hills on the course were around the Rocket Center and the pace and the pace was slowing and the walks longer.
 It was fun running by the rockets and passing underneath the shuttle, I just wished I felt better.


 By mile 18 I was ready to be done. At mile 20 I never wanted to run again. By mile 22 I lost the will to live. But no way I'm quitting. No pain, just dog tired and the muscles feeling completely depleted and achy. Each mile my pace was slower but I still ran as much as I could as 4:10 then 4:15 then 4:20 all faded away as impossibilities.

 The urge to just walk it in was so strong but I set a new goal of under 4:30 to keep me motivated to go as hard as I could. An arbitrary meaningless number but it was something to cling to and make the suffering manageable. So so happy to see the mile to go mark and the VBC looming ahead. Done. 4:28:47 chip time.


Some more thoughts later.
Thanks for listening to me whine.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Rocket City Marathon or Bust.

 Probably Bust.

 Yes, its road time again and the 4th race in the 40th Annual Running Journal Grand Prix Series, The Rocket City Marathon in Hunstville Alabama. This marathon is one of the oldest and most respected marathons in the South and has been around over 40 years and a fixture on the GP series for many of those years.

 And once again I find myself heading to a marathon in which I am ill prepared. When I signed up I had hopes of being in shape to imagine myself at least cracking the top 3 in my age group  and getting a Boston qualifier but despite having the leg speed I need to reach my goal I just haven't been able to put in the miles.

 Once I started back from the injury in early Summer I had planned to increase my long runs gradually but I struggled with the heat and humidity and just never got in anything longer than 10 until the weather finally began to cool off in Sept and by then I was focusing on the other shorter races. At least I did get in a 16 and a 17 miler this Fall but that's about it.

 So, I could just go and start really easy and plan some walk breaks and finish without suffering but that's just not going to happen. The reason I am going is for the points. In the series they go 8 deep with the points for everyone over 60 and  this race gives double points so I really need to get as many as possible. So the plan is to go out at a pace that will guarantee a spot in Boston and hope I can crack that top 8. OF course I will probably blow up and not do either but if I don't try there's no way  so I'm hoping for a bit of luck and a miracle.

 It's looking like a cold one, about 27F at the start and only warming to the low 40's but at least it should be pretty calm and no precipitation.

 You can check out the race on the website here.

 Wish me luck, I'm going to need it.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Magic City Half Marathon Magic

 Sweet Home Alabama.


  No, actually I had never been to Alabama before so I was looking forward to visiting my 43rd State. The real reason I was racing here was because it was the 3rd race in the Running Journal Grand Prix Series which is my main focus until next May. I wasn't aware until a week before the race that it was also the Alabama RRCA Championship race for the Half Marathon so now I had a bit more of an incentive. This would be the biggest race of the series so far with about 900 entrants and I expected there would be some tough competition.

  I had limited time on this trip so I was happy that they had packet pickup on race morning at the start/finish which was located at Regions Field, the ball park for the Birmingham Barons AA team. It was a chilly 41 with about 13 mph wind so after I got my bib I sat in the car staying warm until about 30 minutes before the start when I began my normal warm up routine. There is a railroad heritage park adjacent to the ball park that is flat and beside it is a very busy railroad mainline so it was a good place to warmup.



  As I lined up near the front I was scoping out the competition and noticed a man next to me that looked very fast wearing racing flats and I glanced at his bib and thought I saw age 62, Hmmm. A few other white haired guys around.  Maybe I can make the podium.

 They fired a mini cannon  to start the race and I almost jumped out of my shoes it was so loud ! And then we were off headed to downtown. Within a quarter mile we hit the first hill. Although the city is in a valley it is mostly rolling terrain but some nice fairly flat stretches too. My goal was to try and run about 7:45 to 7:50 pace  and mile one was 7:54 and I felt good. And that fast looking guy? Gone ! Already out of sight so I knew there was no win in the cards for me today.

  Mile 2 and 3 were uneventful as the field began to stretch out a bit over some gentle rollers and then I was passed by a white haired older looking guy. Hmmm. Now I'm racing for 2nd or maybe 3rd. I just kept my eye on him and at the mile 4 water stop I passed him back and hoped that was that. But soon after he pulled by me again. At mile 5 I was about on pace and it was still a long way to go so I just decided to try and keep him in sight and not push too much yet, I knew the worst of the hills were in the last half of the race and I had 8 miles to try to reel him in.

  I was cruising along comfortably through miles 6 and 7 and the gap between us was holding at 8 to 10 seconds and then we came to the beginning of the two longest hills.  The one in mile 8 wasn't too steep but was about half a mile long and I ran my first mile over 8 pace in 8:10 so not too bad. He seemed a little stronger but on the backside I was making good time. We had a u turn just before mile 9 and I had closed the gap to within 6  seconds again. They really must love their baseball around here as the turn was at an old ball park. and we had passed another larger one that I believe is for UABirmingham.

 So I'm still feeling pretty good and pick the pace back up on that 9th mile in 7:46 and hopeful I can still run under 1:44 but then we hit that backside of that hill and it was longer and steeper. I had nothing going up and watched as my opponent slowly pulled away as I slowed down for an 8:29 10th mile. I tried to hammer as hard as I could going down and onto the flat and was happy to hit it in 7:46 but I wasn't making up any ground. I was feeling the wind, my hands were getting cold again as the temperature was still in the low 40's  and I was getting tired.

 Two miles to go and I was trying to push but I was slowing and nothing I could do to change things. It was a very slight upgrade but no more hills so I just put my head down and ran. Finally I could see the stadium and one more mile to go and by now the death noises were coming. As we circled around the ball park lots of spectators were giving me weird looks and a few were encouraging as I was now intent on my realistic goal of running under 1:45. Not exactly the outcome I came for with it looking like a 3rd place but that would give me enough points to guarantee I would remain in first in the standings.

 Finally it was time to run through the tunnel and enter the stadium along the warning track and circle around to the finish at home plate.1:44:47. I'll take that. As soon as I got my medal and water I walked over to the guy that I was sure was 2nd place to congratulate him. He asked me how old I was and when I told him 61 he was happy that he stayed ahead of me because he was just 59 ! Yay ! Maybe I got 2nd after all. Then I headed over to the results tent and let out a woohoo  when I saw I was 1st Senior Grandmaster. Turns out the guy at the start was only 52 not 62 !



 How cool is that !? 1st Place out of 25 seniors and Alabama State Champion !



 I can highly recommend this race for anyone looking for a good half marathon in Alabama. Very well organized, nice medals, excellent post race party and food and they have food trucks and entertainment for the kids


 Stay Tuned for more exciting action to come.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Magic City Half Marathon Preview and training update

 It's time to race once again in the 3rd event in the Running Journal Grand Prix Series. This time I'll be traveling to Birmingham Alabama for the Magic City Half Marathon.  This will be the largest of the races so far with between 900 and 1000 runners expected in the half and  well over another thousand in the 5k.  All of the half marathons in the series give runners placing in thier division a bonus of 25 points so this will be important in getting maximum points and hopefully extending my lead.

Of course I have to perform for that to happen !

 I am expecting to do well though, My training is going well and the week after Old Reliable I had my biggest mileage week since January including a good long run, some strong Umstead hills and some good pace work on the greenway. And of course the yoga is going strong with lots of Bikram, even more yin and the last two weeks I added a vinyasa warm flow class to add some variety.

 The course for the race is not flat but a pretty fast course for the area. Looks like about 450 feet of climb w hich should be easier than the Arkansas race. I'm going to say if things go well then expect a 1:42 to 1:43 for this one. It looks like the weather is going to cooperate. Low 40's to start and ending in the low 50's.

 Here is the race website.

 Wish me luck ! This will be a short trip flying in Saturday afternoon and returning Sunday night so no time for sightseeing this trip. But if all goes well I have two more trips to Alabama in the series.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Old Reliable, Better known as City of Oaks 10k report

 Other than the sponsorship I assume for the Old Reliable run, the race really doesn't have anything to do with the old Old reliable run and nobody seems to relate to it other than as the City of Oaks 10k. Even my award medal just says City of Oaks.

 Oh well, enough of that. Important thing is that I won. ! The End.



Ok, a little more then.

 It looks like a near perfect morning for it other than 100% humidity but with the temperature at 50 degrees that wasn't a problem. I arrived in plenty of time to make my way over to the bell tower area. Talked to a few friends and then headed out with 30 minutes to go for a warm up mile as usual. I usually like to get in a few strides about 5 to 10 minutes before the start but it was pretty crowded and with 3 races starting together I made my way near the front so no chance for them this time.

 I looked around but didn't recognize any of my age group regular competition but I did see a couple that looked like they probably were. But I can't race the unknown so I just focus on running my best and see how it shakes out at the end.

 The first mile is mostly a nice downhill except for a short steep hill on Ash Ave. I felt strong early and cruised right up it and then pushed down the backside. Even feeling good I was surprised at how easy the 1st mile was in 7:06. I expected maybe 7:25-7:30 so that was a boost and it was game on.

 The course continues with more gradual downhill along Western Blvd before turning UP onto Boylan Ave. Its quite the nasty hill and I just put my head down and maintained effort. I passed mile 2 in 7:34, so I still had a cushion on my fantasy finishing time of 46:30. My realistic goal was 47:30 and really on this course I figured sub 48 would be awesome.

 It was nice to see former co worker Molly volunteering at the summit  soon afterwards. The next mile would be more rolling hills but nothing as tough as the one just behind me. I was locked in and feeling great ! Mile 3 was another 7:34. I saw NCRC friend Johanna working as a monitor there and she snapped a picture for me. One of the cool things about racing in the hometown area is the number of friends either volunteering or racing. I enjoyed hearing my name called out all along the course and I was doing a lot of waving ! 



 The next mile climbs up to Fayetteville St and then flattens out for the next  mile. With all the people living downtown now I expected some  to be out cheering but it was like a ghost town  through that stretch. Finally had some good cheering as I ran past Runologie. Good support from that group !

 I was hoping for a little better time but it was still a decent 7:30 but although I was very pleased to still feel good I knew what was coming. The climb up Clark Ave is serious and especially when you are redlining at race pace ! The only good thing about it was the large crowds cheering that section with the parking, spectators and water station by the busy Cameron Village area. Lots of friends calling out and I tried to acknowledge them but I was hurting trying to maintain pace and I was making my death noises as usual. Mile 5 was 7:49. I was thrilled because I was sure it would be over 8 minutes. My fantasy goal was now lost but I was still looking at much better than I had hoped and a sub 47 was still a possibility !

 I continued to grind my way to the top of the hill and just at the summit and before turning toward Hillsborough a young guy in his 20's running in the 5k caught up to me and said I was awesome and I was his inspiration. I thanked him and then as we started down a slight down grade I passed him back ! Always good to hear these kind of compliments. I work hard at this stuff !

 Now I was really digging deep. I wanted sub 47 but knew it would be close. I hit mile 6 in 7:47. . I went by the 3 mile mark for the 5k and knew there was one tenth to go, roughly 45 seconds at 7:30 pace. I just put the hammer down running on fumes now. And then Boom ! across the line in 46:54 at which time I immediately began dry heaving worse than I have in a very long time. I tried to move but had to keep bending over wretching. Several volunteers and a couple of runners ask if I was ok and each time I would heave and say yes I'm good ! Not sure they believed me. I was telling Laura later at yoga that I was  was proud that at least this time I wasn't rolling around on the ground like I was gonna die like that time she tried killing me in a workout.

 After I finally was able to stop gagging I grabbed some water and made my way to the results tent. Woohoo ! 1st place.
It would be awhile later after everyone finished that I got the details. 1st of 19 age group. 39th of 994 overall. Not too shabby and I was thrilled with not just finishing 1st but that I
exceeded my time.
 expectations.

 So mission accomplished. I had fun, got in a great workout and another win. This is getting pretty cool !
 Stay tuned sports fans. Next up is The Magic City Half Marathon In Birmingham Ala. on the 19th, the next race in the Running Journal Grand Prix series.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Old Reliable 10k preview and some training.

   I'm getting set to race the Old Reliable 10k tomorrow morning. I thought it would be something fun and a good workout in between the more important races I have in the Running Journal Grand Prix Series. I have run the Old Reliable several times in the past including the first few races back in the early 80's. This one really has nothing in common with those early races other than the name and its in Raleigh. It is now on a totally different course and is run in conjunction with the City of Oaks Marathon.

 Here is the website.

  The course is quite hilly making its way from the bell tower on Hillsborough St into downtown and around back to the finish. I'm feeling good about my training and hope to run well but it is a tough course so I expect it will be a bit slower than I would like. I think on a flat course I could probably do about a 46:30 to 47:00. Lets go out on a limb here and predict a 47:30 !

 They only give awards to 1st place in the age groups so its all or nothing there. Looking at previous years results , if I can run under 48 I should win but of course there are several guys that could show up and go much faster than that so we shall see how that goes.

 As for the training, things are going well. My mileage is still not as high as I would prefer but hangin around in the low 30's per week right now. The quality of the runs is good though with strong miles and some good speedwork. I finally got in a decent long run of 16 miles last week so that was encouraging.

 Because of being quite busy at work and increasing the running my number of bikram yoga classes is down a bit to 3 or 4 times a week but I knew I would have to cut back once the running was back to normal. I still get in about 6 yin  yoga classes a week so the yoga is still good and a big art of keeping me strong and healthy.

 The body weight and weight lifting have really taken a back seat though.  I tweaked a shoulder a little over a month ago so I wasn't doing anything and although it is back 100% now I just haven't found time to get to the gym. I do try and do a little core work and right now I'm doing daily planks for the month of Nov. Planksgiving challenge.

 Tha'ts it for now. I'll post the results from the race soon.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hero Half Marathon. The long grind

 We got lucky with the weather this morning. It was 87F on Saturday and storms predicted overnight but the rain cleared out by 6:30am followed by a cold front so we had 50F and overcast at the start. About a 15 mph wind with gust at times but fortunately we were shielded much of the race .



 I got in my usual warm up after waiting inside the Arcade whose parking lot was being used for the start. I lined up close to the front of the field of just over 300 runners and I didn't see too much in the way of competition but you never know. They had a ceremony with The Fire Dept honoring 9/11and other Fallen Heros complete with Color Guard and National Anthem from atop a Fire truck and then we were off.

 After a flat 200 yards we hit the first nasty hill which reminded me of Cemetary and it was directly into the wind. I knew better than to push it now so I just relaxed. I was in around 45th place but people were streaming by me going up. I assumed a lot of them would be coming back to me. There was a nice little downhill to the dam of Fayetteville Lake which is flat so I was able to get going then. Not long after crossing  we came to the one mile mark. It was 8:16 which was actually a bit faster than I expected. That was followed by a short hill and then begin what was typical of the next 6 miles around the lake. Slight ups and downs with very little flat. For the most part nothing steep, just steady grades. Mile 2 was 8:11 and three was 7:57 which would turn out to be the only sub 8 mile I could muster on this day.

  I was feeling very good and confident of being able to hold close to this average but I was holding back a little because most of the course was unknown other than the elevation profile and I knew there was a lot of total climbing ahead. I settled in and was just enjoying the day. They had water stops nearly every mile but I wasn't stopping for water today. I had been slowly picking off some of the runners that had passed me on the first hill but by now the small field of 300 runners were spread out quite a bit..

 Mile 4 was an 8:15 and just as I was thinking that this wasn't so bad, there was a pretty steep hill for the next quarter mile. I did enjoy the backside and maintained pace for an 8:10. Mile 6 completed the loop of the lake and we had to cross the dam again. Mile 6 was on the dam in 8:06. I was beginning to get some notice from spectators and volunteers that I was doing ok for an old guy !
 After crossing the dam we turned away from the lake onto a connecting trail that would lead us toward downtown for the last 6.5 miles. At the turn I asked if there were any more old guys in front and was told they didn't think so. And right after that a petite young girl, maybe 12 or 13 went flying by me like she was just starting. You go girl !

 I passed mile 7 in 8:09, still being fairly consistent and almost got a sub 8 for mile 8. According to the map it was all uphill from here but I didn't know how bad it would be but I was still feeling great. By now the clouds had moved away and it was a beautiful morning. The humidity was 100% but I was not having any breathing issues or over heating thanks to the temps holding steady in the low 50's but I was totally drenched ! Mile 9 was not as bad as I expected but mostly a slight grade, similar to the worst of the ATT and I did it in 8:06. I was doing mental calculations and guessing my finish time was going to be around 1:47 if I didn't blow up and I was pretty sure that wasn't going to happen.

 Every time now as I passed a water stop or spectator area I was having someone tell me I was the oldest so far so that was encouraging but like I said, you never know. I wasn't going to back off. Mile 10 had a bit more climb plus a trip through a tunnel about 200 yds long and I slowed a bit to 8:19.   Just a 5k tempo run with the Honey Badger to go was what I was telling myself.

 The long grind continued mostly slightly up with the steep parts very short as we would just do a loop like a small exit ramp after passing over and under some streets. I was feeling good about mile 11 but then a bit of cruelty as we had to do a short out and back spur that would make the distance correct to the finish and of course it was uphill ! Mile 11 in  8:18. For a brief time at mile 10 I was thinking I might go under 1:47 but that was probably not going to happen.

 Mile 12 was more of the same but a bit steeper grade and I was growing weary  of the constant up up up and although I was trying to hold pace I had my slowest mile in 8:27.  Just 1.1 to go. Just go ! I caught up to the young girl that passed me 6 miles earlier and she gave me a good job and I thanked her . Not long after that the final nasty hill came into view. A cruel steep climb worthy of Turkey Creek. There was a HS drum Line at the top which helped keep me motivated to not walk ! The young girl passed me back and I told her great work , now push it home which she did flying down the backside. I could see the finish ahead now and could let it rip. (turns out she was 14)

 There was no marker for 13 but I did the last 1.1 in 9:22, about the same as my average. Funny thing I had estimated my average pace at mile 6 to be around 8:10. Actual pace for the race was 8:11 so considering the toughness of the 2nd half especially, I am very pleased with the consistency.

 The finish line atmosphere was great. Live band, lots of food, drop bags and friendly people. I had several come over to me and tell me how great I did and how good I looked running. I had  a sweatshirt to wear but was so wet  that it was soaked in no time from my sweaty shorts and singlet. I was about to go to my car when they finally posted the age group winners and I saw I had accomplished what I came for. So I quickly went to my car to change into dry clothes, fire off a message to the #1 fan and then headed back for the awards. My moment of glory was anti climactic as about the time my named was called the first of about 6 or 7 firefighters that were running in full gear including air tanks came into view and everyone moved over to watch him including the photographer so I was left standing on the podium with no one looking lol. Oh well, those firefighters deserved the attention.

 Soon after, the race director who is also a fireman and the founder of the race came over to chat with me. He seemed quite happy that I traveled so far. I congratulated him on putting on a quality event that I could highly recommend to anyone. If they didn't mind a tough course.

 Final results. 1:47:21 which with the toughness of the course I feel was equivalent to a 1:42-1:43 on flat ground.
 1st Senior Grandmaster and 43rd overall out of 295 finishers.

 This put me solidly into 1st place in the Running Journal Grand Prix after the 2 events. I got 100 points for the win plus 25 bonus points for the distance so I have a total of 180 points now. No one else that ran the first race was here so 2nd place has 125 points and 3rd with 110.


 So that's another one for the books.

 Stay tuned for the next adventure.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Hero Half Marathon Preview

 I must be up early tomorrow to catch a flight to Fayetteville Arkansas for the Hero Half Marathon. Under normal conditions I would not be traveling this far for a Half but as most of you know that follow along, I am committed to competing in the 40th Annual Running Journal Grand Prix Series.
You can click on those links for more info.

 This is the 2nd race in the series and its been 6 weeks since the first event. I am currently 4th in the standings but hope to make a big move up this weekend. But its not going to be an easy race. The course is mostly on greenways and should be scenic through this college town in the Ozarks but this is no rail trail. This is going to be one tough hilly run with 851 feet of climb.  For comparison, the NCRC Half through Umstead is about 720 feet and the  Race 13.1 Raleigh is around 400ft. So, even though the training has been going well, this is not going to be a fast race. But everyone has to run the same hills so the most important thing and the reason I am going is for placing and points.

 Here is a link to the race website:

 Here is the course map and Elevation chart. Mile 8 to 12.8 looks like a LOT of fun. And mixed in there are several really short steep ones.

Speaking of training, things have been going quite well despite the late summer like weather we have continued to have over most of the past 6 weeks. My mileage is still lower than my normal but adequate at 31, 30, 35, and 32 miles for the past 4 weeks with some good quality in the mix. And the yoga continues to go quite well. I'm still averaging about  4 to 5 Bikram classes and 6 yin classes per week or about 12.5 to 14 hours of yoga a week ! Not much in the way of other cross training now with not much extra time plus I tweaked a shoulder two weeks ago.

 So that's it for now. Stay Tuned for hopefully an exciting race report in a few days !

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Yin it to win it. OR have a better quality of life

Many of you have seen me refer to my yin yoga workouts and may be wondering whats up with that. I'm not going to try and explain anything but the basics here. IF you want to know more about yin and I believe you should ( And if local go to Raleigh Yoga Company), Go to this website for everything you could ever want to know about yin.

 My journey with Yin began late last summer. I had arrived early for my Bikram class and found Laura and Susan on their mats outside the studio. It was not unusual to find Laura working on wall walks and back bends but this was different as they were lying still on their mats watching a video on a tablet. So I put down my mat and joined in as Laura explained to me what was going on.

 It was a video of Bernie Clark (the yinyoga,com guy) leading us through a practice. It involves a sequence of poses , almost all on the mat that are held for time, 3 to 5 minutes for beginners, in stillness at the edge of discomfort for the purposes of stretching or compressing the deep tissues and fascia while not engaging muscles. Seriously, go to the website for a better explanation.

 We only had about 15 minutes by then but as I have learned , if you just do one pose for 5 minutes then you will gain some benefit. From then on for awhile if there was time we would do as much as we had time for and were joined on occasion by Melinda and maybe some others now and then. We jokingly referred to these sessions as Club Yin !

 After awhile and with a change in the time I would usually go to class the Club kind of fell to the wayside but I soon learned that Laura and Susan were going to go to Vancouver and train to be yin instructors with Bernie Clark. Cool ! By November I had began to add 45 minutes to an hour of yin at home or at the gym maybe 3 days a week. By December I was up to at least 5 days a week for an hour and By January I was totally hooked  on the results I was getting and the way I was feeling and tried to get in my hour daily, usually just before bedtime.

 Since then I have continued with normally 6 days a week and it is so much more fun now that Laura and Susan opened the studio at the end of May. Although it can be done alone  I love being in the studio with other yogis and yoginis. Some times I get lucky and get private sessions. I was really happy when Laura added an advanced class that goes for an extra 30 minutes and we hold the poses longer, sometimes 8 to 10 minutes.

 So, what are the benefits besides I obviously love the classes ?  Well, my body feels great. I have an added awareness of how my body feels deep inside. It's hard to explain but it is so cool to notice the deep tissues expanding and adhesions within being broken up.  I have a much better range of motion in nearly every part of my body but especially the hips and spine. This helps not only with my running and keeping me from having injuries due to tightness but just everyday movements are easier and freer of pain and discomfort. One of the main problems with aging is deterioration of the posture and adhesions deep inside locking us up which can cause so many health issues and put undue pressure on the internal organs

 It has also helped tremendously with my regular Bikram practice. I'm seeing and more importantly feeling huge improvements in many postures that I was doubting I would ever be able to achieve.

 And beyond the physical, the mental and emotional benefits may be even greater. The whole class is almost like a meditation as we strive to be still and quiet on that edge of discomfort. Thoughts are dismissed and in that state of mind the subconscious takes over.  At the end of class we always relax completely in a corpse pose aka shavasana and I have during those moments had so many strange and wonderful thoughts, visions, repressed memories and practically hallucenogenic type micro dreams pop up randomly.

 I can truly say that no matter how uncomfortable some of the poses might have seemed, I always walk out of class feeling great with a better outlook than before I entered.

 So, I highly recommend  that everyone young and old try to add some yin into your life. And as Laura was already a long time and dear friend I must say thanks again for introducing me to yin and for being a wonderful teacher and daily inspiration.

 Namaste

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The great predictor aka the 5k prep workout.

 If you were paying attention you would have seen that I predicted a 22:59 for the 5k this past Saturday. My actual time was 22:59. Now that was closer than I could have ever expected but it's pretty normal for me to be able to predict my race times based on my current condition. The are several race pace calculators out there and they are quite useful but are dependent on you having run another recent race close to the same distance as the one you are about to run. And they can't take into account the training you have done in between and whether you have been injured or had a layoff for a long period of time for whatever reason.

 A few years ago I came up with a workout I do before racing a 5k that serves as a good last bit of speedwork to sharpen just before a race and has also proven to be a very good prediction tool. 

 So, if you want to try it get to a track although it can be done on a flat greenway, just not as precise. The workout should ideally be done 4 days out from the event but anytime within 3 to 5 days will do.

 I began with a warmup mile and then take a 2 minute rest.
 Then I run mile at what I have reasonably determined to be my goal pace. If at anytime during this mile it becomes difficult then the goal is too lofty. So back off until you feel like you could hold that pace for a lot longer. ( my mile was 7:26). Then rest 2 minutes.

 Next run 1/2 mile at a pace that is about 15 seconds per mile faster than the mile.. This will simulate the middle of the race. It should feel hard but still something in the tank. If you can't hold the pace or struggle then again, you have over estimated your current condition. ( I ran 3:35 or 7:10 pace. Dead on what I needed.) Then rest 2 minutes.

 Now run 1/4 mile at about 15 to 20 seconds per mile pace than the half. This simulates the last mile. It will hurt but you shouldn't get to the end with your hands on your knees just yet. Rest 1 minute and then do another 1/4 mile at about the same pace but kick it in the last 100 meters. Now you can gasp.( I needed to run about 1:42 to 1:43. Ran 1:41 and 1:40)

That's it.   If you nailed the workout then the 1st mile should be your goal give or take a couple of seconds per mile. If you struggled a bit toward the end back off the goal a little and maybe you will have a good day. If you are strong at the end as I was then expect to be a little faster. on race day.

 My workout suggested about a 23:15. Since I felt good and the conditions were favorable I had a strong feeling I could crack 23. And my first mile on race day? 7:27 Average for race 7:23.

 I've done this before all but one 5k since 2014 and it has always been within a few seconds. Of course you also have to take into account the course and weather conditions. If it's hilly that will add seconds per mile and if some unusual weather crops up in a few days that too can make you change the goal. This is where lots of experience and knowing your body come in.

 This was put to the test last Feb. before the Run for the Roses. My predictor showed a 6:59 pace but I knew it was a very tough hilly course so I was expecting about a 22:30 or about a 7:15pace. Then on race day we had freaky weather. The normal temps I had running in were in the 30's and 40's but on race day it was 80F at the start. It's a short race but I still knew to expect it to make it harder to breath and so I predicted just before we started a 22:45. Actual was 22:43.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

TitanUp 5k 9-9-17

 A short report for a short race. Most of the whys and wheres in the preview in the previous post.

 It was a beautiful cool morning when I arrived for the run. Saw running friends Lone and Charles Matthews while I was picking up my packet. I had no time to waste so I went for a one mile warm up as usual over the first mile of the course. ( the way it was laid out the 1 and 2 mile points were just two blocks from the Start/finish ). It was closer to start time than I had thought so I skipped my usual pre race strides and went to line up. It was a small race with less than 100 starters so no crowding to worry with.

 Sized up the competition and only spotted one that may be a threat to my age group aspirations. I got off to a good start and felt good settling into a comfortable but steady pace. The course is mostly flat but we had a downhill and then a climb back up from about 1/4 to the half mile point. Not a difficult climb at all. maybe 15 ft of gain.  A couple of turns and then up and down the same hills but 2 blocks over. I counted between 18 and 20 in front of me as we made the turns.

 Still feeling good and steady as we approached the 1 mile mark just before entering Herman Park. Hit that split in 7:27, about dead on what I had planned , just a couple of seconds slower than my predicted pace for the race. I could still see the leaders up ahead so no one was running away with it. I noticed about halfway that I seemed to have backed off the effort a little bit so I kicked it back up a notch as I passed a couple of teenagers that found out they had gone out too fast.

 Came up to the 2 mile mark and was happy to see the boost had worked passing it in 7:19. I was also happy that my garmin was dead on all of the races mile markers. One mile to go so I was confident in hitting my goal. I set my sights on trying to reel in a few more runners but most everyone by now was holding steady pace. Back down and up the first hill just before turning to the 1/2 mile to go mark. A quick glance showed exactly what I needed to run that last half in to break 23. I'd lost a couple of seconds but I knew I still had a shot at it.



 Made the right turn and it was a straight shot to the finish. Downhill and then a climb back up 20 ft to the qtr to go. Flat as a pancake there so I just let it rip. Crossed the line in 22:59, exactly as I had predicted in my preview, Very happy with the progress I have made since the injury that kept me out for 3 months earlier in the year and excited for the upcoming Fall schedule. It's just going to get better and better. Fired off a message to my #1 fan and friend and then went to check the results. Easily 1st Age Group. I didn't find out  until later that there was only one in the age group ! Oh well, I beat all that showed up and all those on the couch too.

Thanks to my family that showed up to cheer me on and take these pictures !

Friday, September 08, 2017

Going back home to race.

 We interrupt the regularly scheduled focus on the Grand Prix for this important announcement.

 With the long break in between events I was looking for something fun, short and fast to test my speed. Although there are dozens of 5k's within an hour in the month of September I was having a hard time finding one that fit my criteria or piqued my interest until I found this one.

 The TitanUp 5k in Goldsboro is just a small low key event but it's a flat fast course (just 39 ft of climb) but the main draw was it starts in Herman Park  where I spent so much time playing in as a child and is just a few blocks from the home I lived in until I was 8 years old.  All of the Anderson side of my family lived within a few blocks radius of here too and I won my first 5k here in 1987 on a course nearby.

 So, Saturday at 8am I'll take what will hopefully be a fairly fast trip down Memory Lane. The training is going well, I'm feeling pretty good and I'm ready to roll. There has been no taper for this other than I am going to take a rest day today.

 Prediction?
 Well, I did my go to 5k race prep workout Wednesday and according to that I should be around 22:59. More on that workout and prediction later. The weather is looking great for early September with the temperature in the upper 50's to low 60's so maybe I can exceed that prediction.

 Stay tuned race fans.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

time to really get serious. training update 9/3/07

 The past week has been mainly recovery and as they tend to go, some days I feel tired and others a spark is there. Over all not  big week, Got in 25 miles,  4 Bikram hot yoga classes and 7 days of yin yoga ! Plus one core workout.

 Coming up , as I have posted before, my main focus are on the races in the RJ Grand Prix Series and the next one up will be a half marathon in 6 weeks. And its just 14 weeks out from the only marathon in the series. It's an improtant one and earns double points so I want to do well and get a Boston Qualifier at the same time. So, that means I have got to get busy getting in some long runs. That should began to get a little easier once the humidity goes away with cooler weather. Although it was only 68F when I ran this morning the humidity was still around 82% making breathing still a problem and when I quit at mile 8 I was drenched. But it will get better !

 So stay tuned to see how it goes.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Midnight Flight 10K or so it begins

 I've been racing for 40 years, this was the 40th edition of this race and it was the first race of the 40th Running Journal Grand Prix Series so it seems appropriate that I opened up the quest for points in Anderson SC and this event.



 Although its not a large event in comparison to many , with about 1,000 runners in the 3 races combined, it's a pretty big deal for this small city of about 26,000 in the foothills of South Carolina. By 6pm they shut down a 3 mile stretch of a busy 5 lane blvd that leads into downtown, well in advance of the races. Meanwhile at the YMCA vendors set up tents and there are activities for the families including giant bounce houses and slides. With my race not beginning until 10pm I had a lot of time to kill.

 The fun finally started with a mile race at 8:15 with about 100 runners. Mostly kids and parents running with smaller children but a local HS XC team had about 20 kids and several adults were taking it seriously.

 At 9pm it was time for the 5k. A little fireworks display just before the start and then I found a good spot to watch the finishers. There was prize money 3 deep and a group of Kenyans from Chapel Hill , male and female racked up with 1-2-3 finishes. The 1st place male was 14:28 !

 Around 9:30 it was time for me to begin my normal warm up routine so I jogged a mile in the Y parking lot and then walked the 2/10ths up the hill to the start. I was really happy to find that we didn't have to start running up it to begin ! With 10 minutes to go I did some strides and then made my way to the starting line. There were quite a few guys that looked my age and looked fit but not the one I was expecting to see. Oh well, just run my race and let the chips fall as I said in the preview.

 My goal was to go under 49 minutes or at least under 8 mp but if things went well maybe a bit faster. I kind of doubted faster though after looking at the course. No steep hills but a lot of long gradual  ones including nearly 1.5 miles at the end before that nice downhill to the finish.

The race began right on time and I held back a little on the pace to make sure I stayed comfortable. It was nearly flat but soon started heading gradually down the hill and I didn't want to  get carried away too early ! It was still around 78F and the humidity had crept back up to around 70% so it was going to be a warm one.

 I was happy to find that I had some zip in the legs and was soon cruising along comfortably. I had forgotten my garmin which I normally don't race with on certified course anyway but after awhile I was thinking I should be hitting the first mile but no marker was to be seen. It was dark but there was enough light from street lights and the  businesses with lit parking lots but I thought maybe I just missed it. Oh well, just run at effort and not worry about it. Finally made it to the bottom and we had some mostly flat  for a bit and I was looking for the 2 mile mark. Never did see one. And then we were in an area with no businesses for a while and with trees and few streetlights causing the visibility to be lacking.   And then boom, I was on the pavement. A quick assessment showed no real damage and nothing was hurting much. I looked and saw I had stepped right in the middle of a hole where a small utility access had sunken a few inches. I popped up quickly and was back up to speed in not time. Maybe lost 15 seconds total.

 I seemed to be fine and running comfortably back at race pace and feeling confident I still was having a good race. Finally made it to the turn around on the out and back course  but still no mile markesr. The way the course was laid out though I figured the turn was right at 3 miles and my time was 23:30 and if I was right I was around 7:50 pace even after the fall. I tried not to think too much about most of the race being uphill from there !

 There were only about 200 of us and we were pretty spread out but I was still passing a few people and trying to focus on at least maintaining the distance on the ones ahead. Still feeling good and confident. I tried to take advantage of the downhills as much as possible to build a bit of a cushion before the last long climb. I really expected to struggle more but I actually felt pretty good , and seemed to maintain a strong pace over the long grind from about 4.5 to the 6 mile mark. Well again no sign there but I knew once I crested the hill and got back to the start it was about .2 downhill.

 That was surely a welcome sight by now. I glanced at my watch and it was obvious that I was going sub 49 just as planned and had not lost too much off the pace up the hill. Zoomed down the hill and crossed in 48:53. Got that part accomplished. Now I just had to wait and see if I made the podium, my #1 goal.

 It took a while but finally the results started rolling in and the preliminary results had me 3rd in my age group. The two guys in front of me were locals and they were amazing ! Even in pre-injury shape I was not going to beat those guys !  In fact they were so fast that they actually  beat all  the 50 year olds and so took 1-2 in the Grandmasters division. I was bumped up to 1st in the age group.

 One guy in the 65 to 69 age group finished in front of me so in the Grand Prix points I am in 3rd in my age group and 4th in the Senior Grandmasters division. I was hoping for a little better but it's only the first race and barring something  getting in the way of my training, I will get in better shape and back to 100%  hopefully by the time for  the next race in 7 weeks.

 So that's all for now. Stay tuned for updates along the way.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Racing South/Carolina Runner/Running Journal Grand Prix Series.

 Shortly after I began racing in March of 1978 I found a regional magazine, Racing South which covered 6 states in the Southeast, NC,SC, GA, TN, AL and Florida. It was a running magazine with a heavy emphasis on, well racing ! The magazine was based in Florida and started by Mike Caldwell. One of the features was a yearly Grand Prix series of races in the states covered where runners would earned points based on the finishing position.  I assume it was one of the earliest GP series in the country for runners.

 In those first few years it only had the open division for men and women in a schedule of about 15 races. After several years they did add a masters division and by 1986 added Grandmasters but still no seniors. In that era most races didn't include age groups over 40 and a few larger ones over 50. I remember at Maggie Valley 5 Miler which was a pretty big race in the those days, my mother won an award for being the oldest finisher on the day she turned 50. A happy birthday. Ok, back to the story.

 In 1984 while I was at a Labor Day race in Durham I was handed a small magazine called Carolina Runner. It was the first issue and covered just NC and SC. The magazine was started by Bruce and Julie Morrison. The significance of this is that they bought and merged with Racing South around 1987 and changed the name to Running Journal. Fortunately they continued with the Grand Prix Series which is now in its 40th year.



 Over all those years I just by chance ran in a few races on the circuit but never earned any points that I can remember and made no effort to join in any races because they were in the series. Of course over  most of the past 20 years I have concentrated mostly on triathlons and then ultramarathons and the series was just a curiosity to me as a subscriber over all these years.

 But then a couple of things have come together. My recent return and focus on shorter races along with the fact that I too I'm entering my 40th year of racing made it an easy decision to make my biggest goal for the next 9 months to compete and attempt to win the Senior Grandmasters division ! Ultras will have to wait awhile longer.

 None of the races from the original series are still on the schedule which has changed almost yearly and has fluctuated between 15 that first year to 8 currently on this years. There are several that have been on there for around 30 years  or more though including the kick off race, the only marathon and the final race.

 Here is the schedule.
 August 25 Midnight Flight 10K Anderson, SC
October 15 Hero Half Marathon Fayetteville, AR
November 19 Magic City Half Marathon Birmingham, AL
December 9 Rocket City Marathon Huntsville, AL
January 28 Winter Flight 8K Salisbury, NC
March 3 Birmingham Wine 10K Birmingham, AL
March 11 Germantown Half Marathon Germantown, TN
May 28 Cotton Row Run 10K Huntsville, AL

 Hmm, several trips to Alabama which I have never been to by the way.

 Here is a link to Running Journal

 I've been lucky to have my picture in magazine a couple of times over the years, quite by accident. The year I ran my double Grandfather Mountain Marathon the editor was looking over pictures for the event and choose one of me and my former training partner on the track in our kilts to feature in the magazine. I emailed her and explained the significance of that photo and the story  behind it and so she did a story on me a month or two later. On another occasion I was in a picture Teri Saylor took for one of her monthly columns in the magazine. If all goes to plan next Summer I hope to be on the cover as series winner !

 I hope to run in most of them as time and money allows. The competition could be very tough as there are some  serious runners competing in several of these races but I hope to make a good showing. I'm not quite back to 100% of the condition I was before the injury in February but if things continue to improve by the 2nd or 3rd race into the Fall I hope to be back in top form.

 I head down to Anderson SC tomorrow for the Friday night event which actually begins at 10pm, not midnight by the way. It's a hilly course and will be still quite warm and humid so not sure what time to expect. I'll just give it all I have and see how it turns out. I did see that the total elevation change is practically identical to the NCRC Classic 10 in Umstead which I won in 2016.

 Stay Tuned for results and updates and thanks for following along on my latest adventure !

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Because I like winning ! Training update 8-17-17

Many people ask, why do you do so many workouts?  I also get a lot of comments about all the stuff that I'm doing. Simple answer is I like winning ! Ok, maybe its a bit more complex than that and several other reasons some of which have nothing to do with competing. I may delve into some of those other factors at some point in the future but I'll just talk about the winning for now.

 Actually winning is something I've never had much experience with. I was a scrawny kid with no speed, and no athletic skills. By Jr High age I was usually one of the last picked for teams in PE classes. And no, I didn't turn to running like so many stories of kids like me finding themselves in the sport because they finally found something they were good at.  I'm not going to say what I wasted my time doing but lets just say it wasn't healthy.

 So by 21 I was still a scrawny weakling but trying to turn things around and my boss got me into weight lifting and things began to change. Then as many of you know that have followed along, I began to run  in 1977 to help quit smoking. It would be another 9 months before I discovered racing and then my life really took a change. I was hooked.

 But not winning. No way I was ever competitive. But that didn't stop me from trying to be the best I could be. I set goals and I trained hard to achieve them. I think during my 1st life as a runner in my 20's and 30's that I may have gotten a couple of 2nd or 3rd place age group placings in some very small local races but most of the time I was way out of the awards. I was satisfied as long as I gave a good effort and continued improving . Somehow in 1987 I actually won a 5k overall ! That was awesome  following the police car but in reality I knew the only reason I won was because this race only had 17 runners and all the faster people were at a larger race 20 miles away. But it was still pretty cool !

 There would be no more winning for a very long time. My running suffered as I took on the role of single fatherhood and battling depression. After tearing up my knee playing soccer in 1998 I came back in 1999 at age 44 and spent the next several years competing in triathlons along with some road racing and never came close to winning anything. And then in 2002 I turned most of my attention to running ultras where my main goal was just finishing and I never dreamed of winning anything.

 And then in 2005 and 2006 as many of you familiar with the story know I paced a friend to a BQ ,something that for me personally was out of reach, But several friends convinced me to try and began to train harder than ever adding speedwork and a real training plan to my already busy  ultra schedule and the rest is history as my life as a runner took another turn. In the process as a 50 year old I got that BQ and along the way started winning or placing in my age group in races from 5 k to the half marathon. Not always but often enough and it was a of fun !

 After a few years though I seemed to be slowing down and some of the fire was gone and I was focusing more on the ultras again until yet another friend decided to try and qualify for Boston and I agreed to help and in the process try and regain entry myself. Once again a lot of hard and consistent  training found me back in the best shape in years. It was also about this time that outside of the running my body was taking a beating and I felt weak so I began with the body weight strength training. Lots of pushups and pullups and core work and as I looked and felt better I started to run as well as I hard 7 years earlier ! Wow. And in the process not only did I regain speed but I crushed my 50 mile and 100 mile pr's winning my age group in the 50 miler at age 57.

 And then things got tough. Really tough. A series of injuries to my hamstrings and hips and if that wasn't bad enough I woke up one day and my life had been completely turned inside out, upside down. We're talking twilight zone , wtf just happened. I was in a very dark place and hurt more than anything I'd felt in decades. I could have crumbled and given in to the darkness but I refused to give in. Instead I used the pain and eventually anger to push myself even harder. I used it as motivation to get stronger than I had ever been.  I must say that my dear friend Laura was huge in helping get me through this period as we had just began to actually run together .No one is more inspiring or understands this part of me better than her. She is the Honey Badger after all.

 It was so hard and with each injury more frustrating but I never gave up. I did everything I could to rebuild my body to withstand the punishment which included all the exercises the therapist gave me and I began doing the yoga, first about 3 times a week and building until now its more like 10 to 12 classes a week ! But that's what it takes to build a bullet proof body. And to win !

 I began to set new goals , some so ridiculous I even doubted myself. Running times faster than I had in over 17 years, taking on age groups with the attitude that I was the man to beat, winning championships and finding my way back to Boston. Done, done and done. And I'm not done yet. I am as motivated to work as hard as I can to achieve many more goals in the coming years.

 Ok, I know I am not the fastest senior by any means but on any given day I can make the guys hurt for it if they want to win. And I know if I want to win I have to work harder than the others because I have no natural talent. Just a fire inside.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Isn't running bad for your knees?

" Don't your knees hurt?  Isn't running bad for your knees? I heard you can get arthritis if you run too much." Blah blah blah. Just some of the annoying things we runners hear all the time.

 Short answer is no no and no. In fact study after study has proven just the opposite. Long time runners actually tend to have healthier knees than our sedentary counterparts. I'll post a few links at the bottom if you are interested.

 I've been a runner for over 40 years now and since I turned 46 I have run 50 marathons and over 80 ultramarathons and I'm happy to say both of my knees are fine. In fact the only real knee injury I had was a torn acl playing soccer in in 1998 and after I recovered from that is when my longer distance running really began.

 So what do these pictures of me in yoga poses have to do with it? Well actually the both emphasize that I would not be able to perform these if I was having knee problems.

 This one is called awkward pose and it demonstrates the strength and stabilty that is needed in the knees to be able to move up and down and hold this position.


 The one below is known as fixed firm. IT took quite a while before I was able to do it but not just because the knees are under a lot of stress for beginners. Before moving into this one you need some flexibility in the hips, quads and ankles which for runners are usually very tight and mine were like steel bands. It was 8 months before I could go back as far as my elbows and almost a year before I could ever get my shoulders to the floor. Now no stress on the knees ! I can leave the yoga room, lace up my shoes and run pain free.



 Here are some links you can look at so don't just take my word for it.

Does Running Damage your Knees?

Running May Protect your Knees. 

5 Experts Answer. Is Running Bad for your Knees

Does Running Hurt Your Knees.. 

 So that was a bit different  than the usual stuff here. STay Tuned for my training and racing action.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Training update 7-30-17. And moving on.

 Things are continuing to go well and I see improvement  each week, Since the half marathon tow weeks ago I took an easy week for recovery with just 16 miles of slow running. And then I was getting excited as I begin some actual goal focused workouts. 

  I had a great 6 miler in Umstead on Tuesday and then on Thursday it was time for my first speedwork. I have the first race of the Running Journal Grand Prix coming up in just 4 weeks  so I wanted to get an idea of what I can realistically shoot for in a 10k. I didn't want to do too much or try to run too fast so rather than go to the track I just did some half mile repeats on the greenway with 1/4 mile recoveries. Plan was for 8mp but all but one of the 5 I did were faster, averaging around 7:45. Obviously I was quite pleased as I never felt I was having to push to hit those paces.

 Other than that I have still been getting in a lot of yoga and I haven't missed a day in two weeks without at least one class and two on most of the other days. My foot is feeling great and I am now able to do some things better now than I could even before the injury.  With more running and all the yoga I am struggling to find time or energy for other workouts right now but I squeeze in some body weight and core stuff when I can.

 That's it for now. All is well and I look forward to some hard workouts in the coming weeks as I prepare for some big racing goals ! Stay Tuned !

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Screaming down the Mountain. Scream Half Marathon that is.

Coming into this I wasn't in the shape I'd hoped to be but I am pain free and the running is going well so I was eager to test myself on this mostly downhill route. Yeah, mostly downhill. But somehow there is 496 feet of climbing mix in there too ! More on that as the story unfolds.

  The race is a point to point beginning in Jonas Ridge and ends down the mountain in Mortimer which is a ghost town in the Pisgah National Forest. The first two miles on paved roads and then gravel the remainder of the way after entering the park service land. Because of this we would have to take a shuttle to the start and then another from the finish back to Brown Mountain Resort Campground where our cars had to be parked.

 I arrived in plenty of time to catch the bus and after a pleasant enough and scenic ride to Jonas ridge I had an hour to kill before the start. Fortunately there were quite a few Raleigh area runners with ties to the NCRC, MTC and Capital Runwalk for me to visit with while waiting. Because of the restrictions from the Park Service and logistics the race is limited to only 300 runners so it was nice to know so many in the race this far away from home.

 With 15 minutes to go I made final preparations and headed toward the start about 600 yards away after only 1/2 mile warm up jog and no strides. I figured with the downhill and my low base of miles I would skip most of my usual warm up routine. You always hope for cooler weather in the mountains but it was 70F and about 100% humidity at 8am so not much in the way of a break for us ! I lined up behind a couple of other grey hairs near the front and then we were off. And up.

  Most of the 1st two miles of the race are uphill. Its mostly a gradual climb with nothing steep and I just planned to take it easy until the course turned downhill. I watched the two older guys pull away but didn't even think about trying to stay with them. I would stick to my plan and let the race unfold as it may. I was feeling pretty good and very happy to pass mile 1 in 8:22 which was about the pace I needed to average to make my realistic goal of a sub 1:50. To be honest I wasn't sure what time to predict on a flat course right now in the comeback but I did feel the 1:50 was reasonable with the gravity assist.

 By mile two the small field of 300 was already spread out quite a bit, the grey hairs were out of sight and after that mile in 8:36 I was looking forward to stretching it out a little.  As I began picking up speed going down I was still holding back a bit because it was still further to go than my longest run so far this year and I didn't want to beat my legs up too much. By mile 3 ( 7:48) I was already worrying a little if my legs would cramp on me or give out from the pounding but soon I relaxed and it didn't seem that it would be an issue.

 As I said, we were spread out and I was running alone maybe passing a couple of people since mile 2. Around mile 4 a young couple eased by me but I would keep them in sight. Mile 4 was 8:01 and I was a bit disappointed because it felt faster but then I remembered that I'm not in the same shape as I was 5 months ago and just accept it for what it is and be happy that its still adding a cushion to my goal time.

 Mile 5 was anther 7:48 and my confidence was growing but I was still holding back a little bit and just enjoying myself. You really have to pay attention to where you are going and putting your feet to avoid the bigger chunks of gravel , ruts in the dirt and exposed larger rocks poking through but then there were not many views along the way to distract you. Just the dirt road and a tunnel of green.

 Mile 6 was an 8:02 and I was happy to be approaching the halfway point still feeling strong. And then about that point I was a bit surprised to have a hill to climb. I did expect a little bit of up but this was fairly significant with a total gain of 121 ft.. No wonder I slowed down to 8:32 for mile 7. Another 40 feet of climbing to begin mile 8 and then a screaming downhill worthy of the race name with 436 feet of loss in mile 8 ! It was my fastest mile of the day in 7:24 but at times it was so steep that I couldn't run as fast as I wanted having to be careful and not beat up the legs any worse than I could help it.

 I was still not seeing too many other runners. Only one young guy passed me somewhere right around mile 9. Yeah mile 9. Up again with 150 ft up but then it dropped 272 feet. That took 8:22

 By now  I was feeling great and was ready to begin to push the effort to the end and about the same time I could see what looked like about 10 runners spread out up ahead including the young couple that had passed me back at mile 4. I started focusing on trying to reel them in one by one as I passed mile 10 in 7:39.

 From 9.5 to 11.5 was about the most drop of the race with 10 losing 357 feet and 11 another 426 ! I was just pushing as hard as I could without losing control and steadily passed one after another of the runners I could see and was really enjoying myself. Mile 11 was 7:37.

 About 11.5 we had landed in the Wilson Creek river valley and the big descent was over and we made a right hand turn. NCRC President  Rebecca Sitton was volunteering there and cheering for me and snapped a nice picture of me waving and smiling. The smiles didn't last too much longer as the course made a gradual rise. By mile 12 the effort  and warm humid conditions were taking their toll and the legs after all the pounding were having a hard time keeping pace. That was an 8:26.

mile 11.5. photo credit Rebecca Sitton


 Just one more mile to go but I was toast. I tried to will my legs to move faster but it was a painful shuffle as I hoped to see the finish around every turn in the curvy road.  I did pass a couple of more runners that were suffering a bit more than I was .Finally it came into sight but I was hearing footsteps coming fast. I picked up the pace a little but it was obvious I was going to be passed. I didn't care. I knew it wasn't anyone close to my age so let them have their moment of glory passing the old guy. I had no desire to try a sprint and puke at the finish !

The end. Photo credit Bobby Aswell Jr.


 And then it was done . 1:46:28. Certainly a lot better than I expected. And a harder course than I expected also. But I had fun other than that lst mile lol. Good enough for 2nd in my age group. This is a good confidence boost on my fitness level and also that my body held up to the punishment with no problems or issues.

 I grabbed my drop bag and slowly walked to the picnic area but before getting on the bus I soaked in a cool creek for about 15 minutes which felt wonderful after the beating my body just took.

 So that was my Scream. A well organized fun race and a good excuse to travel to a beautiful area of the NC mountains. Will I return? Maybe. So many things to do and so little time.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Ready to race the Scream Half Marathon !

 Ok sports fans, I am ready to get serious about racing again. In another 6 weeks. But in the meantime it's time to run my first time at THE SCREAM this Saturday, July 15th !

 This will be the fifth year for the race but my first time. It's always looked like fun but didn't fit my schedule for whatever reason This year I thought it would be fun to go run it a week after having a great race at Grandfather Mountain. Well, we know that plan fizzled out with the injury but  I'm hoping to go up there and have some fun this weekend. And yes, I do plan to race it as hard as I can !

  The race is a certified distance but it is not your normal race. It is held in a national forest  beginning not too far from the Blue Ridge Parkway. And its almost all downhill from there being a point to point event from Jonas Ridge down to Mortimer with a net loss of about 2,368 feet according to a strava segment here at this link. (segment shows 12.9 but it is 13.1 and several runners gps tracks show a wide range as usual).

 My plan when I signed up was to use the gravity assist and my great conditioning to go for my fastest half since a 1:38 back in 2006. With my 1:40 at OBX last November it seemed like a reasonable goal. But now not so much. I'll be happy just go see the sunny side of 1:50. Things have been going well with my comeback so who knows, I may surprise myself.

 Here is a link to the race website

 Stay tuned for a recap as soon as possible 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Looking forward to making the remainder of 2017 amazing.

  Two choices.
 #1 Look at the downside of coming off of an injury and lack of conditioning and just hope to make it through the year.
 #2. Look at the break as a chance to let my body prepare for some awesome training and racing ahead.

 I'll go with option #2 thank you.

 Not much has changed for my plans for the second half of the year other than  facing reality and having to cut back on expectations for the rest of this month. But beyond that I intend to work hard to get back to top running shape and be a force to be reckoned with in the Senior Divisions again.

 I've got the Scream Half Marathon coming up next weekend. Obviously I am not going to run anywhere near as fast as I had planned but i will give it my all and use it to build strength as I then began some real serious training. I'm looking forward to getting back on the track, doing hill repeats, tempo runs and building the mileage.


 Which brings us to the real goal for the rest of 2017 and into 2018. As I wrote at the beginning of the year I intend to run as many races as possible in the Running Journal Grand Prix and if all goes to plan I intend to win my division. I'll give more detail on that as it gets closer to time for the series to start. As of right now the full schedule has not been released but it should be ready by August 1st.

 These are the races currently known. 

 As is customary the Series will begin With the Midnight Flight 10k in Anderson SC on Aug. 25th.

 A race new to the series is scheduled for Oct 15th, The Hero Half Marathon in Fayetteville Ark.

 Nov. 19th will find me in Birmingham Al for the Magic City Half Marathon and then in Dec I will be return to Alabama, this time to Huntsville for the Rocket City Marathon. This is a race I've always wanted to run because of its reputation as a top notch race. It also earns double points in the series and I hope to run very well and lock up a Boston qualifier.

 That's all for now until the full schedule is released. If nothing is added for this year I'll look for something to do  in Sept for fun and possibly something in early Nov. Most of the series has been stacked with a lot of Half marathons so I'll try to mix in a couple of 5ks to keep the speed up but definitely not going to do too much racing so I stay sharp with my eye on the ultimate goal. Which of course means no return to ultras in the foreseeable future.  Maybe next year? Stay tuned for more training updates and racing fun ahead !

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Looking back at the 1st half of 2017.

  This is probably the most disappointing 6 months review since I began the blog back in 2006 and even more so considering what an amazing year in 2016.  But stuff happens and I've learned how to roll with it and look ahead. But this is a review post so here goes. It's short.

 Jan:
 I had planned to begin the year by sneaking back into Ultras for a little bit the first week of January but the race was cancelled due to snow and ice storm, It was just as well because I had not really prepared well for it with no long runs other than the Kiawah Marathon a few weeks earlier and my heart wasn't really into it.

 Feb:
 Cancelling the 50k allowed me to focus on what I was in great shape for and that was the Run For The Roses 5k.  The race went well despite the unseasonably hot 80F and the hilly course and I was able to get my 3rd RRCA State Championship for Senior Grandmasters. Then about 9 days later it all fell apart when I had to bail on a workout with what turned out to be a stress fracture of my right heel. Ironically it was not running that initiated the injury but continuing to run and hope the pain would go away did it and me in.

March and April were total washouts with no running and lots of pain.

 Finally on May 20th I felt like a test run. I tried one mile and it was pain free so I was able to begin to ease back into running again.

June:

 On the 3rd of June, just 2 weeks after I started back I decided to go ahead and run the Rocky Mount Mills 5k that I had entered well before the injury. I just wanted to be careful and not hurt myself and get an idea at just how much conditioning I had lost. It was much cooler and drier than last year and I ran a lot better than I could have expected in 25:04, almost exactly 2 minutes slower than 2016 but I was very happy to run that well.

  3 weeks later I went to Chapel Hill to run the Vegfest 5k for fun. The only reason I entered was because Laura and Susan's new yoga studio was sponsoring the awards and I thought it would be fun to race and spend some time hanging around at the booth at the festival. Wow ! I knew it would be hilly but it turned out to be the toughest 5k I have ever raced in my 40 years at this sport with nearly 300 ft of elevation gain ! And it was hot and 100% humid.
  I ran 26:12 which included an extra 10th of a mile thanks to the lead bike leading us front runners off course in the first 1/4 mile and then we had to weave our way through the entire field to get back up front. Grrrr. with the extra distance and hills and humidity I think my effort was definitely better than three weeks earlier. It wasn't a very competitive field and I finished 6th overall out of about 100 finishers. The best thing was Laura's daughter Isabella won the race overall for men and women and Sophia was running well in the top 4th of the pack but was led off course near the 2 mile mark. Julian was there to cheer for us and take pictures and its always the best to have Laura cheering me at the finish.

Vegfest 5k finish. Photo credit Laura Frey


 So that's about it.  I've already had to cancel the first race I had planned for July because it was the Grandfather Mountain Marathon and no way I'm ready for that tough course yet and only a 10 mile training run so far.  I'll have a post looking ahead to the next 6 months up very soon I hope.

 Throughout the whole year so far I have done more yoga than ever before which has helped tremendously with keeping me in good shape. I really kicked it up a notch in June when Raleigh Yoga Company opened up for business May 28th. It is so much more convenient for me and so awesome to get to workout there nearly everyday and some days 2 or 3 times !

 That's it for now. Stay tuned for what I am sure is going to be a much better and more exciting 2nd half of 2017.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A month into the comeback. How time flys

 Hard to believe its been 4 weeks since the last update but its been a busy 4 weeks. The running comeback is on track and going well. I'm being careful and adding mileage slowly with weeks of 6, 19, 23 and 22 miles. I did my longest run of 7 miles this morning with no problem and continue to be pain free.

 Two weeks ago I ran a 5k but didn't post a report. I knew going in with only 2 weeks of running that it would be slow and I didn't want to take a chance and hurt anything. It went much better than expected with a 25:04. That was 2 minutes slower than last year but I felt great and gave me confidence that I can get back to real racing shape by the end of Summer.

 The most exciting thing to happen over the past 3 weeks was the opening of Raleigh Yoga Comapny by my friends Laura and Susan.The location is so convenient for me and with a full schedule of classes that I can take at least one or two classes each day which I have been doing just about everyday ! I was very proud to be the first client in the door and first monthly member. At some point I know I will have to back off the yoga just a little as my running ramps up but right now there has been no problem working both into my life. Who needs free time anyway ? Use it for a workout with friends !

 So here is the totals for the past 4 weeks. 28 days.
73 miles running
23 yin classes or home yin
22 Bikram hot classes
6 inferno hot pilates classes
4 body weight /core sessions.

 Stay tuned for more training fun on the comeback trail

Saturday, May 20, 2017

I'm back !

 Well, its been over 12 weeks since I last ran and so I haven't had the desire to post an update on the non training. But lets catch up.

 Turns out I had what the consensus says was a stress fracture of the heel and along with it a lot of damage to the soft tissue around it mostly in the inside and arch area. Very painful when I finally was forced to stop.  I was told to expect at least 3 or 4 months for healing but maybe lucky with just 2 months. It did finally start to feel better after about 8 weeks but not completely pain free and it would seem to flare up at times so I was being cautious.



 Today, 5-20-17, I finally felt that it would be good for a test. 91 degrees when I stopped by the greenway on the way home but the heat wasn't an issue since I was only planning a mile. I was a bit scared that I would be disappointed but then was so  relieved when the was no pain !  I ran a mile and felt much better than expected and the pace was a decent 9:33. I then walked a mile back and now hours later everything seems the same as before the test.

 Well, what have I been up to in the past 3 months since I couldn't run? Yoga. A lot of yoga !
 I bumped up my Bikram Hot classes to at least 5 and usually 6 days a week. On top of that I have been doing an hour of yin yoga 5 or 6 days a week either at home, the gym or some classes that my BFF Laura has been teaching since getting her teaching certification in Feb.   I've seen some huge improvement in flexibility and mobility.



 I am still doing the weights in the gym a couple of times a week and the body weight stuff the same. I had gotten a little slack with those for a month or so but I"m back on track now.

 I've missed all of my planned Spring racing season. A big disappointment, especially since I was in such great shape and winning  a lot but it's time to look forward. I'm going to be patient building up and hopefully by this Fall I can be back in top shape to compete in the Running Journal Grand Prix Series and get a Boston Qualifier too. I was supposed to be racing the Green Bay Marathon tomorrow but thats not happening !

 Stay tuned for more updates. Wish me luck on the comeback. Again.