Saturday, July 13, 2019

Preparing for a Classic in Utica

Tomorrow morning I will be running in the Utica Boilermaker 15k. Why you may ask? Well, when I decided to stop running ultra's and focus on the shorter distances 3 years ago when I turned 60 one thing I wanted to do was try and compete in some of the classic non marathon races that have been around since the time I began racing or earlier.
  In my younger days I ran the Virginia 10 miler in 1978. I met Bill Rodgers there and got an autograph and he just happened to be at the race expo today.( He won this one in 1983). I also ran the Cherry Blossom 10 miler a couple of times including my 10 mile pr run in 1983. The Maggie valley 5 miler used to draw a couple of thousand runners and was big on the elite circuit in the early 80's.
 But my big time racing ended soon after that and once I decided to start the second life as a racer I concentrated on ultras and marathons.

 Well a few years ago about the time I was doing some running and workouts with Laura, she went to Utica as an invited elite masters female and crushed it and came back raving about the race so I thought I'd give it a try. Only problem is it's always the weekend of Grandfather Mt Marathon. But two years ago I signed up but then had the stress fracture in my heel that kept me from running for  over 3 months so I cancelled that trip. And then last year I had big plans for GMM but lack of training ( no excuses I just didn't do the work) cancelled that.
 So this year not having anything big on the agenda for Summer I decided it was time to finally come to NY. Well, I'm not in racing shape but I'm going to toe the line in the morning and do what I can and try to have some fun.

 This is a big race with nearly 12,000 finishers last year and even more in a 5k for about 19,000 total !

 Last year I was able to knock off another big race, the Cotton Row 10k and I hope to race one or two of the other classics for as long as I can. But for now, wish me luck, I'm gonna need it.

 Here is the race website.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Lookout Rotary Port To Fort 5k

  I ran this race which is located in Downtown Morehead City last and enjoyed it quite a bit so I once again used it as an excuse to visit my friend Stephanie and little Bowie that lives about 30 minutes away. It's a fast course and the locals put on a quality event with that small town feel. They do have a half marathon that actually crosses the sound and over to Fort Macon, hence the name, but the 5k stays in town and runs along flat residential streets.

 I arrived early Friday afternoon so of course Stephanie had planned a hot sweaty run exploring  the country roads around her home. I wasn't tapering for this as it was mostly for fun so we enjoyed the time and had a chance to pet a variety of four legged animals including a donkey, a mule and a Shetland Pony.  There are some great views of the water and marshlands and even a little peek of the ocean between a couple of islands along the route.

 I was surprised that she had followed through on plans to run the race this year as she usually runs only longer events and this would probably be her first 5k road race. I assured her that she would still be faster than most and to just run hard and have fun feeling the speed ! So,early Saturday morning we made the  drive over and easily found parking within two blocks of the start/finish area and made our way over to pick up our race packets.Then we did a  little warm up mile before making our way to the start. I won my age group last year and was hoping to repeat but my mileage has been much lower this year so I really wasn't expecting to be as fast.

  As I lined up close to the front of a field of about 150 entrants, there was one older guy there checking me out. He looked ready to rumble. Ok, it's on. Let's see what you got. And then we were off. 50 yards later and I never saw him again. There is a u-turn after about the first half mile and we were already spread out a bit. I was feeling pretty good and settled in. Stephanie looked like she was comfortable and having fun as we passed by. I was in about 15th place at the turn.

 Over the next mile I made my way past a few that need to learn about pacing and hit the mile in about the time I expected, slightly slower than last year. Just cruising along now trying to hold pace. There was another u-turn just before mile two and I had moved into 11th place. Stephanie was still moving well and still smiling.  My mile 2 split was still a bit slower than last year so I knew that any thought of matching last years pace was not going to be happening but at least I was feeling good. Over the home stretch I had a nice back and forth battle with a couple of 30 something women but one finally pulled away and I was able to make the pass for good on the other one.

   I hit the final stretch and crossed in 23:30, just 22 seconds slower than last year and once again in 10th place overall and first in my age group. I didn't have to wait too long before Stephanie finished and although I told her before that she would make the podium she was surprised to win her age group as well ! We were having too much fun waiting around for the awards and entertaining some of the volunteers.

   So, if you want to have a fun time and  have an excuse to make it to the coast , then check this one out next year.  A week afterwards and Stephanie is asking me advice on speed work !

Friday, March 01, 2019

Training update 3-1-19.

 I haven't posted any training updates in awhile and none so far this year so here is a bit of how things are going.  Towards the end of January I started to finally begin to feel good in my workouts again after fighting off  a cold for about 4 weeks. Even though I tried to keep the training up during that time the effort seemed much harder than it normally does. My mileage is still a bit lower than I'd like but I'm focusing more on the run now and expect the weekly average to climb . Right now I'm still only at about 30 mpw but at least I'm getting in some good quality runs.

 I did no racing in Feb but things will jump into high gear now. I have a training plan for my #1 Spring goal race but that doesn't start for another 4 weeks. In the meantime I have been doing a variety of workouts to keep a bit  of zip in the legs and prepare for the more intense work to come.

 In addition to the running I am still a regular in yoga class trying to do at least 3 and sometimes 4 classes of hot yoga. I only make ot to yin a couple of times but try to make up for it with a home practice. And then usually twice a week I'm in Laura's Grind and Unwind fitness class that has helped in a lot of ways but is really good at building stability and core with lots of compound movements with a cardio kick thrown in. I do have a bit more free time lately and I've started back trying to get in the gym for weights a couple of times a week which is something that kind of fell by the wayside for most of the past two years. It's fun and I'm glad to be back at it. and I still do home core and body weight stuff a couple of times a week.

 Bottom line is I'm doing at least two and sometimes three different types of workouts a day, usually 2 to 3.5 hours per day and I'm feeling fit and strong and ready to go !

 Tomorrow, Saturday Mar 2nd I'm racing the Florence Forth 10k in Durham. This is not an "A" race on my schedule and I only decided to run it 5 days ago and I haven't tapered at all for it. I of course will be racing hard and hope to podium but it's mainly to see where I am pace wise so I can properly design my workouts going into training for the big race on Memorial Day, also at the 10k distance. Is this 1979 again?

 Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Run Holden Beach Half Marathon.

  This race wasn't on my original plan for 2019 but after cancellation of the Running Journal Grand Prix series I decided to skip Winter Flight 8k and run a half  which fits in with my plan to work back up to marathon shape better anyway. Other than the bridge( more on that later) it's a flat fast course and a good way to kick off the year of racing,

  My training has gone ok but it's been hampered by a cold that lingered for about 5 weeks. It never was really bad but affected my breathing and I'd start coughing sometimes in a run and almost always afterwards. But finally that seemed to have cleared up over the past few days. As race day approached things started to look good and falling into place and the weather forecast of mid 40's to low 50's was nearly perfect.

  As I made my way to the 7am start, the sun was just beginning to rise. I only did a short half mile warm up in the dark. I lined up with a goal of just getting under 1:49 which we be my fastest since last March but I wasn't all that confident.

  The race started right on time and after less than a quarter of a mile we began to climb the bridge which is tough without much of a warm up. The bridge like every new one built over the  Intracoastal Waterway is a minimum clearance of 65 feet and this one is probably the steepest one of them due to the topography only allowing for a short ramp. And it would probably have been impossible to even squeeze it in so rather than straight over like all the others, it is built with a couple of S curves but it's still steeper than cemetary in Umstead.

  So, anyway, I backed off the pace not wanting to go into oxygen debt in the first half mile and enjoyed the view !  Cruised down the backside and before too long hit the first mile in 8:14. Not bad since my overall goal pace was around 8:15-8:18. The next few miles were on the mainland and about pancake flat. Mile 2 was 8:00. By now I was feeling good and that felt fairly easy and was a good confidence boost. Mile 3 was at the first turnaround and it was 8:05. At this point I could see everyone ahead of me and I figured I was in the top 50. I saw one guy that looked like he could possibly be in his 60's in the top 20. If he was 60 then no way I'd be winning today.

 Mile 4 was 8:19 and I was cruising and happy. Mile 5 was almost at the top of the bridge as we made our way back over to the island. I was actually surprised at not having a struggle and  almost holding pace in 8:22. It was still too early to think about trying to push the pace but I did try to get a little momentum going off the bridge. Mile 6 felt almost easy and was my fastest in 7:55. Wow, I may beat that 1:47:? I ran in Tennessee last March !

  Mile 7 was another 8:00. This was awesome. And then as we made the turnaround to head back to the opposite end of the island I realized why the last two had seemed so easy. It seems the wind had picked up and was now blowing a steady 10mph or so. Not all that bad but you could definitely tell a difference in the effort. Mile 8 was 8:11, still faster than goal pace. Mile 9 was 8:16, still good but I could tell I was wearing down a little while I mentally convinced myself I just had an easy 4 miler to go. Mile 10 included maybe 4/10ths of a mile on a dirt/sand road.  It was pretty hard packed so not really much of an issue but it combined with a 3rd mile in a row into the wind and I had my slowest mile of the day in  8:35.

 Ok now, just a 5K  to go ! You can push that home ! Goal is still in the bag ! Between mile 10.5 and 11.5 we had several little rolling hills over some dunes(on asphalt at least!). Nothing long or steep but I was feeling them and to be honest when I went through mile 11 in 8:24 I had expected slower. Now I was really working the mental math. I still felt like I had the goal but the cushion was disappearing.
 Mile 12 came in 8:31. Not good but I felt I had enough in me to push it home and as long as I stayed under 8:30 it was all good.

 The finish line is directly under the bridge and it sure looked an awful long ways to it but after a short little in and out and u-turn in a neighborhood I could see the mile 13 banner ahead.   That one was 8:24. A right hand turn and there it was. BAM ! 1:48:51. Mission Accomplished.

 I was soaking wet with sweat due to high humidity and effort despite the cool 53F at the finish and the breeze so I immediately begin walking to my car to get warm and changed into dry clothes. I checked online but no results had been posted so when I went back for awards I had no idea how I'd placed. As I suspected it turned out that guy that was so far ahead was 64 and ran an amazing 1:36:36  and came in 15th place overall ! I was 2nd by about 3 minutes and 49th of 381 finishers.

 This race is part of a series of Beach runs by Coastal Race Productions. This was only my 2nd time running one of their events but they are really quality races. I paid 56:25 including fees which is very reasonable with most halfs going for 70 to 100 dollars these days.  For that you get a certified course, timely starts, plenty of aid stations and porta potties. ( I got lucky and found an indoor bathroom open with no line :). Good water stops, and food and beverage at the finish and the Biggest medals out there if you like medals.  I'm also  signed up for Sunset Beach half on March 30th so come join me as I try to knock a couple of minutes of my time.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Carolina Beach Trail Half Marathon

  I had originally signed up for this race just for fun and training. I had expected to be recovering from a marathon but I ended up not running that. I also expected to see my friend Stephanie and  maybe run some miles with her but she got sick and couldn't make the trip. I was still fighting off a cold but on race morning my lungs were feeling better than they had for a couple of weeks so I decided to go ahead and race it hard.

  Race morning turned out to be warm and humid but at least the rain had stopped. It was about 62F at the start. I went for my usual warm up mile and ran into MTC friends Mark and Irene and talked to them a few minutes. They had both raced last year and told me to be prepared for sand. I had run on some trails in the park but it was over 20 years ago and I had envisioned dirt and hard packed sand with some pine needles and a few roots. How bad could it be?

 I finished my warm up and lined up with about 300 others. I had no idea if or how many other seniors were racing but I was hoping to make the podium. We started off on the park road in front of the visitors center and then turned onto a paved bike path along the border of the park. This allowed for a fast start and a chance to spread out a bit before hitting the trails. After about .8 mile we turned into the woods and it was just how I had remembered it.   I went through mile 1 in 8:08. Cool. That was better than expected so just maybe I could make my goal of sub 1:50:00 today.

  All was well and I was having fun and making my way around a few people and then we hit the first of the deep sand along the waterfront. Good thing it wasn't a long section but I was already thinking this could be tougher than I had planned on. Mile 2 was about 8:37. The next mile was mostly some fun stuff and I was right behind a couple of locals that were familiar with the course and they were talking about Sugarloaf and how it was going to be hard going over it twice. Hmmmm.

 So then it was there in front of me. Sugarloaf is an ancient sand dune mostly covered in forest now but still pretty deep sand. By Umstead standards not a long or steep hill but definitely a challenge. The path up was wide and fairly hard packed but the race took us down off the main path and it was very narrow, twisting sandy and eroded. The people in front of me walked the while way down and there was no way to pass. In reality I"m not sure I could have run it much faster so I stayed patient and it wasn't that long anyway.  Mile 3 was about 9:04 and any thoughts of sub 1:50 were about out of the equation now.

  Mile 4 was a bit of the more enjoyable stuff with short sections of deeper sand but overall not too bad. Then we hit mile 4 and a water stop. Then it turned ugly. We left the trail and went cross country over and through sand pit hell for about the next half mile. It was deep, much like trying to run on the beach at high tide, just sucking the life out of the legs as I tried to keeping running a somewhat normal gait. Somehow I still managed a 9:37 but now my plan was to just run hard but not try and push it not knowing how much more sand would be encountered.

  Around mile 6 we came out onto the bike path and soon were back near the start area. I did pick up the pace and ran what would be my last sub 9 of the day. The next half followed the first mile and a half but then we veered off in a another direction and crossed over onto a  couple of trails we didn't run on in the first lap. These trails were nice most of the time but every few minutes there would be some deeper sand but at least we didn't have to go through the sand pit again. By now I was hovering around a 9:20 pace but I was still feeling pretty good and confident that I wouldn't blow up.

 Around mile 9 we went up the only other significantly sized hill and it was fairly steep and I walked about 15 seconds near the top. . After that we soon merge back onto the trail we started on but in the opposite direction. And so eventually we came back to Sugarloaf but going up the backside gnarly trail. I walked most of it too but once I hit the summit and about 2 miles to go I just started hammering. Well, as hard as I could under the conditions. The humidity was getting to me and it had warmed up to about 70F, not typical late December weather. We did a short out and back spur along the river and it had a lot of deep sand so mile 11 was my slowest of the day in 10:21.
view from sugarloaf

 My new goal had been to break 2 hours and trying to do the mental math showed that was becoming doubtful but I pressed on. With a mile to go I still had never noticed anyone that looked my age so as I came off the trail for the last push to the finish I still had no idea if I would place.  I came to the line quicker than expected finishing in 2:00:06. Good enough. I was quite happy with it because after all it was a trail race and more of a challenge than I bargained for. Most importantly was that I felt good and was pleased with the effort I put into it.

 After resting a few minutes, I walked back to my cabin to grab my phone to check for the results. Boom. 1st pace 60 and over out of just 6 of us and I won by over 7 minutes. I'll take that.

   I doubt I run this one again as there are just so many other things that I want to do but if you like trails and fun it's worth a try. The organizers did a great job with the event. Everything went smoothly. Plenty of volunteers and despite the many turns and different trails the course was very well marked and for a trail race there were plenty of water stops. The race schwag was pretty cool too.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Looking ahead into 2019

 As I move forward into the new year my main goal is to get my weekly training miles closer to what I was running from 2003 through 2015 and be a bit more focused on getting in the hard workouts on a more consistent basis.  My racing schedule for the 1st half of the year is already booked up for the most part but depending on how things go there is a little bit of space to be filled if something comes along that suits my plans.

   At this point there are no truly epic adventures planned and unless something changes this will be the 4th year with no ultras. At least not until very late in the year if the mood strikes.  But there are some things I'm planning that if I hit my time goals will be pretty epic for me. So here is how things are looking right now.

 The big thing for Jan and Feb is to try and build mileage so I can actually run a marathon  and be properly prepared for it,something that hasn't happened the last two years. I've only got one race, the Holden Beach Half Marathon on 1-19.  I just want to see some progress on getting back to times resembling what I was running in 2016 to 2017.

 Nothing but miles.


 Wrightsville Beach Marathon on 3-9. If things go as planned I hope to be in shape to actually race it and go for a Boston Qualifier. I may not be quite there by then but hopefully can have a strong showing. I'd like to get back to Boston but if I have to wait until 2021 that will be ok because that fits with my every 5th year pattern.  but yeah, I hope to go for it. With the new tougher standards I need a minimum of  sub 3:50 now so probably at least a 3:45-3:47 to guarantee a spot.

  On 3-30 I'll do the Sunset Beach Half Marathon. If recovery goes well after the marathon I'll be ready to keep pounding down the half times.


On 4-14 I'm signed up for the Inaugural Sir Walter Miler Half Marathon which is on the section of the Neuse River Greenway that I do most of my training miles. Overall if the weather cooperates it should be a fast course and that's my plan.. To go for a really fast time. Other than volunteering as always at the Umstead 100 I have  no other plans for the month but may decide to run a half at Morehead City. Or a 5k.


 One of my big goals of the year is to return to the Cotton Row 10k in Huntsville AL. This is the only race from the GP Series that I'm returning to. It's a great event but I was not really satisfied with my time there. I really need to put in some strong hill training which I didn't do last year. I seek redemption.  5-27, Memorial Day.


  A race thats had my curiosity up since it began is the Vertical Mile at Rocky Face Park.  8 laps of a 2 mile loop up and over the Mountain. Ridiculously steep and challenging. Sounds like fun !

 July: Will this be the year I finally run Grandfather Mountain Marathon again? Well I iope to be in shape for it. 2 years ago I had to bail as I was coming off the stress fracture and last year I was just nowhere near marathon shape. Hopefully things will be different this Summer.


 No plans at this time.


 Ok, this is the biggest goal I have for the year. Return to my favorite all time road race, The Virginia 10 Miler, run it faster than I have in about 20 years and finally make the podium. In 2016 and 2018 I finished 4th. This year I intend to make a fantasy come true. I must have speed and most importantly strength on the hills. After training for Cotton Row, Rocky Face and Grandfather I should be prepared to put the icing on this cake.


 Nothing planned yet but the month is full of fun options. I'll come up with something.


 I always said I had no interest in the City of Oaks Marathon but after winning the 10k two years ago and placing 3rd in the half last year I decided to go for the trifecta and shoot for a podium finish in the Full. With all the hills it's gonna hurt.  Make it So.

 I'll decide last minute probably on how I finish up the month. Maybe return to Foot Locker or do something different.


 No plans at this time. Maybe another marathon if needed for a BQ.

 That's it. I'll update probably by May or June as plans unfold for more Fall events. Stay Tuned.

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018. The Year in Review.

The year didn't exactly start off with a bang.I was a bit tired and worn down after the Rocket City Marathon in December which I was no where near prepared for and January's weather was really not very good giving me less motivation to get out to run. Finally near the middle of the month I found myself getting my mojo back and that was good because I was only halfway through with my big goal, the  Running Journal Grand Prix Series. Only 64 miles for the month of Jan was my lowest in 2 decades that didn't include an injury.

 More bad weather as I drove to the first race of the year and the 5th of 8 races in the series, the Winter Flight 8k.  Fortunately the cold rain slacked off and conditions weren't bad for the race I placed 2nd in my age group and wasn't too far off expectations on the time with 38:25.

 Nothing but trying to refocus on the training.

 This month got off to a great start with another trio to Alabama and the Birmingham Wine 10k. It was a perfect day,  I ran well and got the win for Seniors which put me back solidly in the lead for the Series.  47:36.

 A week later I was in Germantown TN, near Memphis for the half marathon. Warm muggy morning and I wilted the last 5k but a 4th place finish locked me in for the series win. 1:48:29

 With no races in the series this month I could just do some new things and have fun. I had a free entry for the St Paddys 4 miler in downtown Raleigh. A cold start but I felt great and ran much better than expected and got the win. 29:37 A week later I was in my old hometown for the Greater Goldsboro 10k. Not quite as fast as I hoped but with no competition I got another win.  48:59. Then I ended the month with a trip to Morehead City for a fun visit and a 5k. Got another win in 23:08.

 Only one race and I was focused. The finale of the Series, The Cotton Row Run 10k in Huntsville AL. It was a great race as expected but a truly miserable hot muggy morning , also as expected had me much slower than I had hoped. A tough field but I got 20 points for finishing 7th Senior in 50:08. This is the one race I will return to in 2019 for redemption on that hill !

 Once again after the elation of winning the Series Championship I found my motivation lacking over the Summer with it's constant warm and humid conditions every single day.
 My only goal was to try and go under 22 in a 5k on the track but I was not really prepared for it. I did race in one of the Sir Walter Miler Pop up meets and ran well enough under the conditions in 22:37, my best in over a year and a half.

 Bailed again on a trip to grandfather mountain as once again I was no where near ready for a marathon. let alone that tough one.

 Traveled to Massachusetts to prove once again that running a marathon unprepared is a really bad idea. 4:50:10 painful muggy  26.2 miles.


 I'd hoped for better but with the lack of Summer miles I knew my return to the Virginia 10 Miler was not going to be what I had planned it to be. But although two minutes slower than 2016, I felt good and ran a smart well paced race and was happy with my 85:10.

 Only planned one race, the Ironclad Half Marathon in Kinston. Yet another warm and muggy morning but I did ok until the last couple of miles and ran what I realistically thought in 1:51:26 and a 3rd place AG.

  Yay, finally a day with good weather ! I ran the very hilly City of Oaks Half and felt good, paced well and improved to 1:49:15 and another 3rd place AG.
 After Thanksgiving I returned to the Foot Locker XC race in Charlotte. Miserable cold rain and wind but a month later I think it was fun.   Well watching the Frey girls race after the rain stopped was fun  anyway. 24:07 was well off my 2016 time

 I entered the Hope For Education 5k in Raleigh for some fun and one more chance for a fast 5k. Hmm, should have looked at the course. Very Hilly so not very fast 23:48 but I got the win.

 And finished up the year with a rare trail half marathon at Carolina Beach. Unseasonably warm and muggy for the last weekend of Dec and a tougher than expected course. But I felt good and was pleased with the effort just missing sub 2 with a 2:00:06 and the win.

 So that's how it was sports fans. Stay Tuned for what is to come in 2019

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Hope For Education 5k. No hope for a fast one !

  After back to back slow 5k cross country races I wanted a little redemption and decided to add this local 5k to my race calendar near the end of the year. If I was hoping for a chance to run fast then I should have researched the course a little closer because it turned out to be quite the hilly one !

  This was a first time event put on by Fellowship Church in the Longview neighborhood in a partner ship with St. Augustine U. to provide a scholarship to a student in need to be able to continue their education. I was mainly attracted to it because of the location , close by and an area I've never raced in my 41 years of racing.I don't usually mention this in discussions of my early years running but I actually had  a failed attempt at beginning to run the summer before that I consider my running to have begun. In 1976, the first Summer of my marriage, we lived in a duplex just off of New Bern Ave not far from Longview shopping center. I had a one mile loop that was pretty flat that I ran with my hair still down my back in a pair of keds high tops. I think that lasted about three weeks before I dropped it. I have no records of those runs, just vague memories of being very sweaty ! Anyway, so with my mind thinking flat I was surprised just how hilly it was just across the street !

  So, back to the race at hand. It was raining lightly but mostly a drizzle and the temperature was close to 48F so it was actually not bad for running. After getting checked in I went for my usual warm up and tried to avoid the hills as much as possible. As I went to the start it was obviously a small field and also a young looking one. ( more on that later)

  The race began with a downhill which felt nice but it would also be finishing back up that same hill !  I was feeling pretty good and had a bit of zip despite fighting off a cold all week. The first uphill wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but it was obvious that the whole course was going to be up and down, up and down. I hit mile 1 in 7:21 which made me happy. That was roughly my goal pace and I felt strong.

 But the hills just kept coming and although I was pushing the pace I did slow down in mile 2 to 7:39.   I was holding out hope that mile 3 might be a bit easier but nope. I was going hard but still slowed some more to 7:48.  The final .1 hurt going uphill but I was satisfied with my effort on this day. There was no age group racing excitement as I never saw anyone to chase and I was just focusing on my pace. Way off my goal of sub 23 with a chip time of 23:48.  I guess it will have to wait until next Spring or Summer.

 As I mentioned this seemed like a young crowd. There was a large group fo the NC STATE XC Club team running that dominated the front of the race. When I looked at the results there were 85 finishers and of those about 55 were under 40 and only 6 were over 50. Not the usual mix that you see in most road races. My time was good enough to win 3rd place Master with a 42 and 41 year old ahead of me And because of no double dipping in the awards no one won the 60 and over age group because I was the only one in the race !

  Despite the hills, which after looking at several others strava maps,it looks like the average is just over 200 feet of climbing which is quite a bit for 5k,I have to give them a two thumbs up on the event. Everything went off well with the organization and volunteers.  And it was nice to race in a part of town that never gets seen in other events.

Monday, November 26, 2018

5k's and Cross Country. Who would have guessed?

 Well, it has been an unusual year but more on that at the end of year review. For now lets talk XC. It seems I've now have raced a 5k XC course 3 times in the past 5 weeks and at mid year I had not planned on any of them.

 On Oct.23rd I ran the Sir Walter Miler Pop Up XC Championship race for fun and representing the NCRC team. It was just 3 days after a warm humid half marathon and I wasn't expecting to do very well. The course is  3 laps on energy sucking thick grass and I was not feeling it during my warm up and a nice night for running. I ran hard and was a bit surprised at the pace on the first lap but it felt hard but then as lap 2 began I suddenly felt very good. Each of the next two laps were slightly faster and my final time of 24:12 was very satisfying. I was really expecting to be hard pressed to go under 26!!

   Two weeks later in what was definitely a last minute decision I ran the Global Run 4 Water at Wake Med Soccer Park. Bella wanted to race a non school event and Laura asked me to help find a race and this one popped up. I have been a spectator at meets there and run the course a couple of times but never raced so I decided this would be a good day for it. It was on Nov. 10th, just 6 days after the City Of Oaks half on a chilly , windy morning.
  I wasn't expecting any competition but when I approached the start I saw a friendly rival, Tim Beck whom I have raced many times over the years at these shorter distances. More times than not he is ahead of me but on a good day like the last time we met at the Run For the Roses I can get a win.
  At the start he moved well ahead pretty quickly so I figured it was going to be his day. Its a fast downhill start on this course and at the half mile I was well ahead of expected pace. By the 1 mile I was closer to what I hoped was my overall pace in 7:20. Mile 2 is the tough one on this course with a grind up the hill by the field and then a couple of steeper but shorter hills on the backside. At 1.5 I noticed I was closing the gap on Tim a bit so I was pushing as hard as I could.
 Mile 2 was a slow 8:00 but I had cut Tim's lead in half. From the top of the hill at 2 it's a nice gradual flat and downhill for the next 3/4 mile and I just put the hammer down and half mile later I had to decide whether to stay behind him or make the move now and hope I could hang on.  I figured I couldn't rely on a kick today so I made the pass with authority.
  But 1/4 mile later as we began the 2nd trip up the hill and into a now 20mph headwind I could hear him coming back and when he went by I tried to hang on but it was not going to be. He ran strong to the finish while I felt like I was crawling up the hill. Mile 3 was a decent 7:37 and final time was 23:39, just 9 seconds l slower than I had planned so not a bad day on a tough course.

  And then this past weekend, Nov. 24th it was a return trip to the Foot Locker South Regional at McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte. I ran there two years ago and was happy with a 22:39. I knew going in that I wasn't quite in that kind of shape but was hoping for at least a sub 23.
 The weather had other ideas. I awoke to 34F and heavy rain with wind gust in the teens. I arrived at the park and was dreading getting out of my car and I did wait until the last minute to get out and get my 1 mile warm up before lining  up at the start. Brrrr, that was some cold rain. The course was puddles and standing water for a good portion and soft everywhere else.

 I took off at a good pace but had to run in the grass and mud for the 1st qtr mile to get around some slower folks. They run the open and masters, male and female in the same race but do the results separate for each class according to chip times so a wide variety of competitors. I got my first bit of feedback at the 1 kilometer post and it wasn't good. I needed at least 4:35 but it was 4:42. I tried to push it but it was just slow going as I hit mile 1 in 7:42. about 20 seconds slower than in my workout on Tuesday ! It was very deflating and jogging the rest of the way crossed my mind for a nano second. I was cold and miserable and running as hard as I could  knowing there was no reward or fast time awaiting me. But as always I chose to put the hammer down harder and make the most of it. I was steadily passing people and that help keep me focused.

 The one big hill comes at almost the halfway point. I felt ok going up and it's only about 200yds long. Because of the slickness the steep downhill was a bit trickier than usual but once I made it safely it was hammer time again. I used the momentum up the 2nd shorter hill and then rolled down to the lake for the first time.    I hit  mile 2 in 8:05 and headed out for the back loop which was really in dicey condition but its pretty flat other than a slight rise about halfway around. I just kept pushing and still passing a few folks. It was kind of weird because other than being cold and wet I actually felt pretty good and was running a strong race but the course was sucking about 20 seconds per mile out of my effort. That's just the nature of these things.

 And like most 5k's they are over pretty soon and there I was at mile 3 in 7:42. And then in the last tenth a guy passed me, the only one since the 1st k. I tried to hang but couldn't muster  any more speed. Done in a disappointing time of 24:07, but considering the conditions I was quite happy with the effort I put into it. I know I gave it my best. I placed 35th out of 49 in the masters as I was racing everyone from 40 up. They didn't even list peoples ages but I didn't notice but one or two guys that looked near 60 .  After changing into dry clothes and warming up I got out to watch the Frey girls compete which is always fun and thankfully the rain had stopped.

 Most likely I will race once more this year. Its a 5k but not cross country. I really hope I can at least get the sub 23 so stay tuned. It won;t be long before it's time for the year in review and looking a head to a big year in 2019.

Friday, November 09, 2018

City Of Oaks Half Marathon. It's coming along

  After winning the 10k for Seniors at this event last year I decided that I would try making the podium in the half my goal for this year.  Of course , I was expecting I would be in better shape but as you know I'm not quite where I wanted to be going into this.  This is a tough course with hills after hills and making my fantasy goal of sub 150 was looking like a fantasy for sure. A year ago I would have been thinking 1:44 but that was not even a fantasy at this point. Two weeks ago I came close to the 1:50 on a warm humid morning until slowing considerably the last 5k.

  One thing I had going for me on race morning was near perfect weather conditions. Mid 40's warming to mid 50's is about ideal for this distance. I didn't do much of a warm up and then arrived later to the start than I should and found myself stuck in a tight pack with at least 1,000 runners in front of me. Chip timing but it was going to take a while to work my way to clear running.

  As we began moving forward I just stay patient , picking my spots to pass as an opening presented itself. the 1st mile was very tight and slow but I never saw the marker and as usual I was not wearing my garmin. By the time I made the turn onto the wide Western Blvd stretch I fond more room and began to make up a little time. But then I caught up to the  large 2:00 pace group and realized they were not going to go any faster. I finally made a move to go over to the far outside lane and made my way around and after that It was clear sailing.

 I hit mile 2 in 17:00 which was the overall pace I ran two weeks ago. not bad considering I had to work my way through the crowd. I was feeling good and relaxed and handling the hills ok so far,
 Shortly after mile 3  in 8:19 as we approached the Capital, the 10k runners split off and a noticeable thinning of the crowd. Mile 4 is probably the fastest on the course but I missed that mark. Mile 5 showed 16:16 for those last two miles which put me right on the 8:23 pace I would need for the sub 1:50. I was still feeling good and my confidence was growing that just maybe I could do it.

 It was right about here that I noticed a grey hair just ahead that I was positive was in my age group so I had something to focus on. The next few miles were just relentlessly hilly so I couldn't push too hard but still feeling good. Mile 6 was 8:14 and 7 was 8:09 so I was staying below goal pace and building a small cushion. Around mile 8 it looked like I was closing the gap on my competitor and maybe he was slowing down a bit?   That was a tough one and it took 8:23. No problem but I didn't want to slow down just yet.

  Over the next few miles, the grey hair was looking stronger on the hills and I was making back a bit on the flats but overall he was gradually pulling away. Mile 9 and 10 were 8:18, and 8:20 giving me just a little more cushion. best of all I was pretty sure there was not going to be a meltdown in the last 5k this time. The only downside was I was not going to catch my competition as the gap had grown too wide by mile 11 in 8:27.

 The final two miles were back on Hillsborough street and I just dug in trying to maintain pace, knowing I had that sub 1:50 in the bag. The questions were by how much and how many other seniors were up ahead. Mile 13 was 8:23 and then the last .1 to a strong finish of 1:49:16 Woohoooo ! I was thrilled with that. Now  to see the standings. I spotted the guy I chased and we talked for a few minutes. I was happy to find he was only 57 ! We had a good laugh about that and then I headed over to the timing tent. Yay ! I got third !

 Now, I just have to keep building on this success and by Spring I should be right where I want to be.
 Hmm, wonder if I should go for a podium in the full next year?
 Stay Tuned sports fans.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Ironclad Half Marathon, or time to get serious again

This was a race I'd been looking at as a possibility since it was first started 4 years ago but never quite fit the schedule until this time.  Many years ago I had serviced some stores in Kinston and surrounding towns and grew up in nearby Goldsboro but I'd never raced there in all these years. Of course when I signed up for it I had high hopes of running a fast time on a fairly easy course and typically cool Late October weather.

  Of course it would have worked out better if I'd done the training over the Summer.  Based on the Early Spring I had expected to go under 1:44 but now under 1:54 seemed questionable and the weather wasn't exactly cooperating with 100% humidity and  hitting 70F. At least it was overcast.

 As I lined up with about 300 others I was hoping  that I  may be able to go under 1:50 based on my better than expected performance at the VA 10 miler 3 weeks earlier and maybe still get a podium finish but realistically I figured 8:30 pace or about 1:51:30. I scoped out the competition and noticed a couple of fit looking gray hairs as always.

  A replica Civil War cannon sent us on our way and I went out at what felt like a reasonable pace. One of the old guys took off and it was obvious that he was going to beat me today. Within a mile I lost sight of him ! Shortly after what I assume was about 1 mile another one passed me but our paces were close I didn't see a mark until we hit mile 2 in 16:11. Hmm, not bad. A bit faster than expected. there was a slight hill in mile 3 and I slowed down some but the other guy was only a few seconds ahead. I didn't want to make a move this early to make a race of it and by mile 4 I told myself to be patient, that I had 9 miles to reel him in.

 And that's pretty much how things went for most of the race.  By mile 5 I had slowed down to close to 8:30 pace so a sub 1:50 probably wasn't happening unless I had a strong second half. My target was still right in the same area usually within 10 seconds of me. At mile 8 I closed the gap to about 5 or 6 seconds but then mile 9 surprised me with a half mile long hill ! Not ever steep but serious enough. He was stronger and opened up a big gap, at least 20 seconds or more.

  I hit mile 10 in 1:24:26 and thought at least my realistic goal was still a possibility if I had a good last 5k.  And despite the pace continuing to get slower I was closing the gap slightly. Finally at mile 10 I was back to about 15 seconds or less and figured it was hopeless but no guts no glory, I tried to push one more time. That lasted less than 1/4 mile before nausea and a side stitch forced me to back off and watch hopelessly as he pulled away.

 The finish was in  the minor league baseball stadium and I tried to look good as I made my way around to the end. 1:51:26 ! pretty much nailed the realistic goal. And I was soaked form the sweat. Who knows, maybe If I'd drank some water on the course things would have gone a little better?

 I  made my way over to congratulate the guy and he was 60 and a local. We had a nice conversation and then I went to get on some dry clothes and wait for my friends. Had a nice time hanging around with Stephanie and the Akers family and then picking up my award for 3rd place. Yep,that guy at the start was my age and from Cincinatti Ohio.

 The next morning I was recounting the story to Laura at the yoga studio and when I told her the guy ran an off the charts 1:36 for the age group win she just said something like, well there you go, something to shoot for. You can do it.  She's awesomely inspiring like that.Hmm, I don't know about  that but I know I got a lot better in me yet. Now it's time to keep making the run a priority and see what happens. Lots of racing still to come !

  And if you are looking for a nice small down home race this is an excellent one. Nothing but great things to say about the organization.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Virginia 10 Miler 2018

 When I signed up for this race, which is my 21st time here I believe, I had two goals in mind. One was to beat my time of 83:07 from 2016 and two, to move up from 4th in age group to at least 3rd for a podium finish. Well, neither of these were achieved so you might think I was feeling let down and not pleased with the results afterwards but actually I'm feeling pretty good about things right now. My time was 2 minutes slower but somehow I still finished 4th in the AG. It would  have taken an 82:32 to place 3rd.  Just as a quick side note all three ahead of me are from the Lynchburg area.

 So. you may be asking why I'm happy with it. Of course I would like to have done as well as originally planned but as you may or may not have noticed my run training has fallen way off since completing  the Grand Prix Series  that ended on Memorial Day. I can think of several reasons, ie excuses, mainly a miserable summer but bottom line is I just didn't do what I needed to do to make the run a priority and as race day approached it was obvious  I would not be close to beating  the time from 2016.

 As the week rolled by I was really looking at a  most miserable race ahead and wouldn't have been surprised to fall apart and struggle even if I approached it as a training run. But I chose to be a bit more optimistic and with a bit of favorable weather, and a sensible pacing plan that I may be able to run 85:00.

 Well something worked and I ran 85:10, felt good the whole race and I didn't need a walk break on the last climb which gains about 200ft in 1.5 miles. There are several things that I believe helped with what I consider a successful run today. It was a bit cooler than last year but still very humid but I never felt overheated even though it was around 70 and sunny when I was done. (totally drenched).
 I did run a sensible pace and all my splits were pretty consistent when you factor in the extreme changes in the elevation profile. I seemed to have lost most of the 2 minutes between miles 2 and 8. I was actually about the same for the last two miles !

  I think I also got a bit of an endurance boost from the Marathon five weeks ago. And lastly I'm pretty sure that the fitness classes I've been doing 2 or 3 times a week, the Grind And Unwind 30/30 at Raleigh Yoga Company helped get me up the hills in good shape. Lately I've not felt as strong as normal on the limited hill training I've been doing but in the class we have been getting a steady diet of lunges, squats and calf raises as well as some good cardio with the HIIT portion. Without it I'm sure I would have had to take a few walk breaks that last mile instead of holding steady. And I was up on my toes on the steepest hill at mile 5 that is like the steepest on North Turkey Creek!

   Here is just a short review. I'll spare the blow by blow. Start was about 60F and I ran down the hill under control in 7:37 for mile one. Mile 2 is about equally steep down then steep up. hit mile 2 in 8:31 feeling good and settled in. Mile 3 is  mostly uphill but not steep with some nearly flat sections. Nearly. Hit 3 in 8:27. Mile 4 is the easiest other than the 1st all downhill mile with a climb and then mostly a slight downhill grade. Hit it in 8:08

 Along here is where you start to see the elites as they are coming back at the 6 mile mark. They beat me to it this year ! Just past mile 4 I saw local friend and Grandmasters ace, Tim Meigs looking strong and probably in the top 20 overall ! Soon after I saw all the ladies from Raleigh Distance Project going by. I gave a shout out to Rita who I've known since she was still in High School !

 Started the loop around Riverside Park and was dreading the super steep hill at mile 5. I pushed it a bit on the downhill before and then began the climb. Wow, I actually felt good and up on the toes. Tons of volunteers really cheering people up. Hit 5 in 8:21. That was a confidence boost.

 Mile 6 was 8:28.   Just before mile 7 is a fairly steep hill but not too long. For the first time my legs were beginning to feel a bit dead and in the back of my mind I was thinking that could spell disaster at the end. I'd done the math and 85 was possible but not if I blew up on that last climb. Mile 7 was 8:33. I quickly recovered and was back up to pace running strong in mile 8 which is one of the easier ones other than a hill up to the mile marker, Hit that in 8:22.

 The 85 was in the bag now if I could hold it together. As always I tried to push as hard as I could down the steep half mile before the beginning of the  climb but also trying not to beat the legs up too bad. And then  the long grind began. The half mile up to the is the worst of it, probably a bit steeper than powerline in Umstead. But I was moving steady and made it to the mark in 9:20. Woohoo ! One more to go !

 The steep part continues for a bit longer and then it eases of to just a normal hill lol. With half mile to go it gets a bit steeper again but even though I was tired and feeling it I never felt the need to walk.  You get a short slight downhill and then a slight uphill for the final 200yrds to the finish. I tried to push it hoping to crack the 85 minute barrier but ran out of real estate but 85:10 was close enough for today.

 Call me crazy but I think I  still have a sub 80 in me for this race or at least close to it. It won't happen unless I continue to stay healthy and get my weekly mileage back up to the 45-50 miles per week range again for an extended period. It's a full year away but I'm pretty sure you can plan on seeing me back in Lynchburg at least one more time.

 And for the immediate future, this was  a big confidence boost that I can do some decent training and racing  soon. I feel good and with cooler temperatures coming now I'm getting motivated to make the run a priority again.

Friday, September 14, 2018

New England Green River Marathon.

 This is a story of how not to run a marathon that you are nowhere near trained for competing. As you know from reading my preview( you have read it haven't you?) my plan was to just go and do a run/ walk from the beginning to help with the inevitable meltdown of the second half of the race but  as I rode the bus to the start things changed. Being a hard headed competitor and at times not too bright and too optimistic for my own good I just decided to go for the BQ and suffer whatever the consequences may be.

   It was a beautiful morning, in the upper 50's as we waited for the start but by race time it was warming and there was no escape from the humid conditions at home as we were about 99% here in Vermont. With the RD blowing a vuvuzela, we were off into the forest and heading downhill hill onto a dirt road. I really wasn't having to push and indeed was trying to hold back as the gravity assist made my 8:45 BQ pace seem easy.

 After a couple of miles we came out onto a paved road and joined alongside the Green River which would be our companion for the next 17 to 18 miles. By now I was settled in and feeling good. A young farmer from the area pulled up beside me and started a conversation. It was his first marathon and I enjoyed talking with him for the next few miles before I told him I had to back off the pace as we had gradually been picking up speed. Around mile 5 we were back on the dirt and I was still cruising along at about 8:35 to 8:40 pace.

 Although the course was a net downhill of 1,400 feet, there was still 650 feet of climbing so it was not an "easy" course by any means and we hit the first significant hill on an out and back spur around mile 7. By mile 8 we were back along the river and I was just trying to enjoy the views. With only 350 starters the field was quite spread out with me in about 120th position.

 By mile 10 I was already feeling the effects and drenched from the high humidity and I was already thinking it was time to just shut it down but decided to try and maintain at least until the half. At mile 11 we ran across a covered bridge built in 1830 with views of a log crib dam from 1810 ! One of the highlights of the course and a few cheering spectators. I tried to look good for the camera but I was already slowing down.

 A couple of miles later and I reached the half in about 1:56, still below BQ pace but the last 3 miles had been slowing into the 9:10-9:15 range  so I gave in to reality and began to walk. Maybe if I could maintain 12 minute mile pace with a run/walk I could still get in around 4:30 without feeling too bad. And that worked ok for a few miles but then we hit one of the nasty long hills at mile 17 and things definitely were going downhill pace wise, physically and mentally. Now I was just ready for this thing to be over. I was hot, tired, soaked from sweat and the prospect of  mostly walking another 9 miles was not very appealing.

 But I trudged on as each mile slowly passed by. Mile 20 to 21 was nearly all uphill and   At the top we emerged from the woods into an aid station and a couple of dozen spectators.  Several said I was looking good to which I replied. thanks but I wasn't really feeling too good.  they insisted I looked a lot better than most that had recently passed by.

 The last 5 miles were pretty flat and or slightly downgrade but also in the sun and some traffic. My biggest problem was keeping my attitude from going completely South ! Finally the last turn onto the College Campus. Time was of no concern  but the finish line was just ahead. 4:50:10 and done.

 So, I got the butt whipping I knew was coming but I got it done and hopefully things will soon cool off at home and I can actually get in some proper training for the upcoming Fall races.

 As for this one, I give it 5 stars and two thumbs up. For a small first time charity event they had everything worked out perfectly. The venue and course were great, the shuttles went without a hitch. Drop bag service, aid stations, schwag and post race food  were all excellent. Just don't look at the net downhill and expect easy ! 

Friday, August 24, 2018

New England Green River Marathon Preview

 It's seems I have a new bad habit of entering marathons that I am ill prepared for these past couple of years and here I am once again with a race to run with no training. I'm fit, don't get me wrong ,it's just that I have done zero long runs this year unless you consider a 13 miler about 6 weeks ago and two Early Spring Half Marathons as long runs. Yep, not going to be pretty.

   I had chosen this race back in the Early Spring when I was racing well and had hopes of finding a Boston Qualifier before the Mid September cutoff for entries for the 2019 event. I wanted the best shot for cooler weather and a fast course and this race in Greenfield MA was the best thing I could find.  I was fit and had the speed I would need, just not the endurance to carry that speed for  full marathon. All I had to do was do the long runs. But, I was worn down from the hard racing in the RJ GP Series and the late Spring and all Summer has just been miserable for running. Every time I planned a long run I would fail miserably and lost all motivation to run more than an hour. I finally begin to run a little better but then , whoops it's time to race.

 So here I am on my way. I'm just going to go and try to have fun and get the miles in and a finish without hurting anything and then hopefully use it as a beginning to real marathon training for the Fall and a December qualifying attempt.

 This will be a good one for that as it is a scenic, low key race in a beautiful rural setting in the Green Mt/ Berkshires of Southern VT and Western MA. A point to point event with the State Line at about the halfway point of the course. The course follows the river for most of the distance with a net downhill grade although it does include 4 major hills with over 600 ft of climb mixed in. I'll just have fun, take pictures and  plan a run/walk strategy from the beginning to minimize the pain with no concern about time.
 Stay tuned for pictures and a report soon. Oh, race date is Sunday 8-26 at 7am.
Here is the race website

Thursday, August 09, 2018

40th Running Journal Grand Prix Series Wrap up

" Want to see my picture on the cover. Wanna buy five copies for my mother. Wanna see my smiling face on the cover of the Rolling Stone", umm Running Journal !

And finally what we've all been waiting for  ! Taadaaa ! I made it on the cover !

 As I have posted before, I never dreamed I'd be able to win this series which I have been following since it began as the Racing South Series 40 years ago. I had just hoped that some day I could compete in the series and maybe score a few points and have my name listed in the standings. Until a few years ago podium finishes were rare for me but the series goes 8 deep in the Senior Grandmasters division (60-69) so I was hoping to score in at least a few events.

 But then when I decided to take a long break from the ultra marathons and get healthy and go back to racing in the shorter events I found myself making the podium more often than not. But after I won what I feel was one of my best races ever in the OBX Half marathon for the RRCA State Championship against 75 other eligible Seniors in Nov 2016 I began to believe I at least had a shot at not only being competitive but may actually be able to win the thing !

 And as you know by now I was successful after a lot of hard work and hard racing in some of the top road races in the Southeast.  I've posted race reports here in the blog for all the races so I won't go into that now but here is a listing of the races and  placement in the Senior Grandmasters Division.

Aug 2017. Midnight Flight 10k, Anderson SC,                    4th Place
Oct 2017. Heroes Half Marathon, Fayetteville AR.              1st Place
Nov. 2017. Magic City Half Marathon, Birmingham AL     1st Place (Alabama RRCA State Champion)
Dec. 2017, Rocket City Marathon, Huntsville AL.               12th Place( no points earned)
Jan 2018. Winter Flight 8k, Salisbury NC,                            3rd Place
Mar 2018. Wine 10k, Birmingham AL.                                 1st Place
Mar 2018. Germantown Half Marathon, Germantown TN.  4th Place
May 2018. Cotton Row Run, Huntsville AL.                        8th Place

 Everyone of these races I can highly recommend as being top notch events if you ever plan on visiting any of these areas. Its hard to pick a favorite as I would gladly run any of them again if time and budget would allow but I'd have to say Magic City was my favorite. Great Venue, nice course, nice schwag and post race food and party atmosphere.

 I can't see myself trying to compete again as it is an expensive endeavor traveling to the races and I have other goals to shoot for now but I am so thankful for the opportunity and being able to achieve a dream and goal like this.

 Right now I am thinking I want to go back to Cotton Row and seek my revenge on that hill and maybe make the podium in my age group of 60-64 which I missed by 1 spot ! ( yes, 4 other studs in the 65-69 age group beat me !) Other than that the only repeat may be the one NC race next January.

 So that's the final word on the Series.    Thank you to all that care and follow along on my adventures. Special Thanks to Mom and the rest of the family for loving me. And Thanks to my daily inspiration and dear friend and yoga teacher Laura for believing in me.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Looking ahead to the 2nd half of 2018

I normally take a look back at the first half of the year but the main focus of the first 5 months was the Series and I'm waiting for the August issue of the magazine with its report before I do my final wrap up so for now lets look forward.

 As you may have read at the beginning of the year my only real plan after completing the series is to get back into strong marathon shape again for the first time in years since all the injuries began about 4 years ago. Just recently I have finished planning out my race calendar for the remainder of 2018. Beyond that I have no plans right now and a lot will depend on how well these next 6 months turn out.

 Ok, to begin with , my first step in the plan is already a bust. I am signed up for Grandfather Mountain Marathon but I'm in no way ready to even think about it with my longest run of the year at 13 miles last weekend, not counting the  half marathon in March. I could probably finish a long slow run walk but it would just be a beat down and I need to be building right now, not tearing down.  So I'll just be training for now for the upcoming races on the schedule.

 Here's the long and eagerly awaited plan.

 August 26th:  the New England Green River Marathon.
 This is a point to point starting in Vermont and ending in Massachusetts on a gorgeous rural course. It is a Boston Qualifier and it will take a miracle for me to get in shape to get the time needed but I'm going to give it my best shot to get ready. Even if I don't it will be a good building block to get a qualifier for the 2020 Boston. ( The qualifying period for the 2019 Boston ends mid Sept.).

 September 8th. Not set in stone just yet but I may return to Goldsboro for the TitanUP 5k again. Small low key event in the old hometown where I easily won my age group last year.

 September 29th. The Virginia 10 Miler. This is a big target race for me. Two years ago I placed 4th in my age group. I have always had a fantasy of a podium finish in this classic and tough event but to do so I'll have to have a very strong effort. Which means the real hill training starts NOW !

October 6th. Another maybe depending on how I feel at the last minute is the Selma Railroad Run 5k. super flat and fast course and I haven't been in several years. If Lynchburg doesn't beat me up too much I may give it a shot. 

 October 20th. The Ironclad Half Marathon in Kinston. I've had my eye on this one for a few years. Peer pressure from some MTC friends made me pull the trigger on entering this one. A good test and hopefully a podium finish. No time prediction for this one.

 November 4th. City of Oaks Half Marathon. In years past this one has never had much appeal to me but, not because I didn't think it was a good event . Mainly because I have raced in Raleigh so many times over the years and trained so many miles over most of the course I preferred going somewhere else with so many options available this time of year. But I decided this was the year to go for it and take a shot at winning my age group. I won the 10k last year and maybe if I run as well this year in the longer race I can win again.

December 15th. Jacksonville Marathon (Fl). If I do get the BQ in August then I'll go all out and try and improve my time. If I don't then I will probably run this a bit more cautiously just to get the BQ and then go for a faster time later. The weather is usually conducive to fast running on this flat course and I've heard nothing but good things about the race. I need to run about 3:51 to guarantee entry into Boston and I feel confident I can do that barring any unforeseen circumstances over the next few months.

 That's it for now. Stay Tuned and wish me luck !

Friday, June 08, 2018

training update and 5k track racing

  Now the that Grand Prix is over the next phase is to get back to training for marathons or at least that's the plan. But before that starts I had something else I wanted to do. Two summers ago when I was focused on trying to get my mile time down to what I ran in 1999 I had wanted to use that speed and try to run a fast time in a track 5k. There just aren;t that many opportunities to do that other than the Wednesday night Godiva track meets and the schedule of nights that had that distance just never worked out for me.

  So, I was happy to see that the first week of the Summer of Miles Podcast pop up mile series which is put on by the Sir Walter Miler folks would have a 5k as the bonus event. Speed wise I'm not close to what I was two years ago and really haven't done the speedwork at the paces that I need to do for my goal but I figured it would still be fun and I could try and give it my best shot.

  I haven't run a sub 22 5k in 5 years when I did it 3 times in a row in summer of 2013. I seriously doubted that I would be able to this night but  all I could do was go for it and see what would happen. Sometimes miracles do occur.

 The meet was held at the beautiful Cary Academy Campus and I arrived in plenty of time for socializing and a proper warmup. There would be 90 plus runners for all the events combined and a lot of family and friends spectating and it was great to see so many that I knew along with a few former co-workers from the running store days. We were lucky with the weather as there was lower humidity than normal and by the time the 5k started , half the track was in the shade. I didn't feel too spiffy in my warm up but with 5 minutes to go as I was doing the usual 4 x 10 second strides, on the last two I felt a little zip in the legs. Maybe this was going to be ok.

 I guess there were 20-25 runners in the 5k and I tucked in behind the faster younger runners. As far as I know there was only one other senior in the race and from the word go he was on my heels. My goal pace was about 1:46 per quarter mile and I nailed the first one but by the half I had dropped off that pace to 1:50 and thats about what I would run for the remainder of the race.

 The coolest thing was having so many people call me out by name and cheer for me each lap as I came around to the front stretch. George, the other senior was right there for the first mile which I passed in about 7:15 but he was slowly falling behind now and by half way I couldn't hear him anymore.  I was feeling good and locked into the pace now and slowed down a bit in mile 2 to about a 7:25, or 14:40 for 2 miles.

 Now it was just dig deep and try to pick it up a bit the last mile. Of course it was getting harder to hold pace but I pushed on knowing I could endure the pain a bit longer. With half mile to go I was making the death noises. I ran the last 800 meters in 3:34 and finished strong in 22:39 which tied my fastest 5k since 2013. I ran that exact same time at the Foot Locker XC Regional year before last.

on lap two I think with George right there

in the first mile with George Howe on my heels

representing Raleigh Yoga Company !

woohoo, airborne

yes I was being lapped here

half mile to go
was a fun night of racing and spectating and I appreciate all of the people from Sir Walter Miler for putting this series on for the local running community. And thanks to Jason Honeycutt for taking over 500 photographs and posting them publicly for us to share. I think there was at least 15 or more with me in them but I chose these because they make me look halfway decent !

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Cotton Row Run 10K 2018

  I have been following this race since the beginning of this 39th annual event in Huntsville Alabama and always hoped to run it some day ,but I was always finding it hard to spend the money to travel for just a 10k. But with my focus on shorter distances in the past couple of years and with it being the final race of the Running Journal Grand Prix, it was time to go for it. The race is one of the Premier 10k races in the country, not just the Southeast and has seen many world class competitors over it's history.  I had found while running the Rocket City Marathon that the great reputation of the Huntsville Track Club and community was well deserved and this race was proved to be  a great one.

 Being on Memorial Day you can always expect warm and muggy conditions and this year was no exception with tropical moisture hovering over the State. 70F and 100% humidity guaranteed it would be a sweatfest but how well would I be able to handle the conditions?
 I did my usual warm up routine of a one mile easy run followed by 4 strides finishing up about 10 minutes before the start. I tried to get pretty close but then waited for the ceremony honoring the fallen heroes on this Memorial Day. I have to say its the first race I began with tears welling up inside after the invocation, 3 gun salute and the playing of taps. But finally it was time to go !

  Despite starting near the front I still was being held up by some really slow people that always want to jam things up so I just patiently waited for ways to make my way around as things begin to spread out. By 1/4 mile it was not bad and I knew I could make up the time later, probably only losing 10 to 15 seconds. My  fantasy goal pace was 7:30 but realistically 7:45 so when I passed mile one in 7:35 I was satisfied and feeling pretty good.

  Mile 2 had no major hills but mostly a slight incline and I felt my cadence and stride were ok so I was a bit disappointed with  it taking 7:56. So much for fantasy goal but at least I was still feeling good. I knew what was coming soon so I was trying to go as hard as I could on the next mile without going into oxygen debt.  Mile 3 continued with the mostly up but did have a little bit of downhill to help with that until we came to the turn onto Mountainwood Dr, aka Mt. Wood, the infamous hill I was warned about.

 Wow ! Talk about steep ! I thought the hill in Riverside Park at the VA 10 Miler was tough but this is much harder. For my friends familiar with North Turkey Creek in Umstead, yes it is even worse than the worst on that trail ! Immediately after making the turn the road rose sharply with the 3 mile mark maybe another 50 yards ahead. I passed that mark in 8:16 for a 3 mile split of 23:48 and then began walking with hands on thighs for support up this monster ! At this point I'm running in the top 300 of 1,800 and already practically everyone is having to walk !

 Disappointing that I had to walk but I was moving about as fast as the ones trying to run in most cases and when the grade finally eased off to just a normal bad hill I started back running. We made a turn and had a slight downhill before continuing to climb to the high point of the course at around 3.6 miles.

 I knew I had about 1.5 miles of sweet downhill ahead and after a minute I was recovered and began to push the pace. Even with the bit of downhill mile 4 was 8:52 thanks to that soul crusher of a climb but I was up to speed now, feeling ok and passing a lot of runners. I passed mile 5 in 7:32, not bad but with the huge gravity assist I was hoping for better. The goals were not going to be achieved and now I was just hoping to break 50 minutes and maybe, just maybe make the podium.

 The  last mile was mostly an ever so slight decline with a couple of small hills, the last one  at about 5.8 mile mark just before the final turn onto the finishing stretch. I was giving it all I had but had still slowed to a 7:52 and even with a kick which I didn't have in me, sub 50 was gone.   I pushed on until I made it across the line in 50:08. A volunteer handed me a water bottle which slipped out of my hand and I just bent over looking at it when a medical person walked over and asked me if I was alright . I assured her I was but I was too sweaty to hold onto the bottle ! She picked it up and opened it for me.

 Now I had to wait for the results to see how the competition had fared.  After doing a cool down mile the results were posted and I had finished 4th out of 66 in my age group of 60-64 year olds. On top of that, three others in the 65-69 group had put in great performances dropping me to 7th in the Senior Grandmasters division so I made 20 points in the series.

 Although I didn't make any of my time goals or make the podium I am satisfied that I gave it everything I had out there on the course. I was making the death noises for pretty much the whole 2nd half of the race as I pushed myself to the max. As for the placement, I salute those hard working fellow seniors that had to run in the same miserable conditions as I did and earned those podium spots. Over an hour after the race I still had sweat dripping off my shorts !

 This concludes my 9 month long journey  through the Grand Prix Series. I'll be doing a wrap up soon so stay tuned.

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Championship that almost wasn't.

 I'm making final preparations for my trip to Huntsville Alabama's Cotton Row 10k which will be held on Memorial Day, Monday the 28th. It is the last race in the Running Journal Grand Prix Racing Series which began the last weekend of August 2017 consisting of 8 races in the Southeast. As many of you know, I already have enough points to win the Senior Grandmasters Division without this event but there is no way I was going to miss going to this one.  I've worked too hard and raced too hard and traveled way to much to let this opportunity pass me by, especially looking back now at how close I came to not even competing.

  I have been following the series since the 1st year it started as the Racing South Series in 1978. At that time it was only an open division series and the winners were a who's who of southern elites in the six States in the coverage area, NC, SC, TN, FL,GA and AL. Later more States were added, MS and LA, then ARK, KY, VA and WV and a Masters division was created.  Eventually Grand Masters and then finally Senior Grandmasters were added as the running boomers of the 70's had all aged up. By that time I was solidly into ultra running and although I had the desire to  compete in the series it made no sense and never fit my schedule.

 But it was always something I wanted to do and I kept it in my mind that someday I was going to see if maybe I could at least earn a few points in a few of the races and maybe show up in the standings in the magazine but the thought of winning any of the races, let alone the series was something I didn't think was even a remote possibility. I was not accustomed to podium finishes very often but the points went 8 deep in age groups for the series.

 Funny how life can change ! And suddenly with no warning ! It seems everything was crashing down. Life totally blindsided me a few years ago and to add injury to insult, I had one hip or glute injury after another on top of that. In spite of it all I was determined not to give up  and used the pain and setbacks as extra motivation to comeback each time stronger than ever. After being injured pretty badly and still trying to run Western States 100 in 2015 nearly crippled I really screwed up my hamstring and I knew I had to heal completely. Time off and yoga finally did the trick but I also decided it was time to take a break from the long distance stuff and focus on shorter racing.

 I went into 2016 strong and healthy and began running times at the shorter distances that I never imagined focusing on lowering my mile time and then entering some RRCA State Championships. I went into 2017 in awesome shape winning the State 5k  and had my sights set on finally competing in the series in the Fall. And then WHAM, a freak injury started from yard work that soon developed into a heel stress fracture !

 Time dragged on but the pain still lingered and there was a lot of soft tissue damage in the bottom and side of the foot. After two months still no thought of even trying to run. I knew it was serious and promised myself  I would'nt even try to run until I had at least 10 days of no pain. Finally after 12 and a half weeks at the end of May I was able to run 1 mile pain free. But the series was not looking good. I only had 3 months to get back into shape and I would have to build back slowly because although I was healed it was going to take some time for the foot and tissues to regain the strength to handle hard training and racing.

 The schedule for the upcoming season was released in June but I had my doubts and was only up to 15 miles per week and a long ways from my condition prior to the injury. As always I discussed the situation with my BFF, former running partner, current yoga buddy and teacher and daily inspiration Laura and expressing my doubts as to whether I should try it or wait until the next year. As I knew she of course said I should go for it and had no doubts I could make it happen.
Its awesome having a friend that believes in you sometimes more than you believe in yourself. And of course she was right. I had to go for it. I was just going to have to race myself into shape and it would help that after that first race in August I would have about 6 weeks before the second race. But I'll save that in the season wrap up after the Cotton Row Run ! Stay tuned sports fans !


Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Port To Fort Rotary 5k. 4-28-18

  It's easier to just called this the Morehead City 5k. I saw neither the port or the fort as this course is all contained in the old residential area of town. My reason for coming to this was an excuse to visit my friend Stephanie and her baby girl Bowie.  I wanted a test race and some speed training and this event fit the bill perfectly.

 This is a small race with mostly locals but a few others traveled a bit taking advantage of a nice weekend at the beach. It wasn't too warm yet and the humidity wasn't bad at all for late Spring as I arrived early to pick up my race packet. I watched the start of the half at 7:30 which nearly caused me to miss some of my regular warm up routine. It wasn't a problem and I was able to get in my easy mile and just a couple of strides before rushing over to the starting line. Not too many people were eager to be up front so I lined up just behind a couple of fast looking young guys.

 It was about 62F and the sun was starting to break through the clouds now as we began. Quite a few people went out at what I judged was probably too quick but I felt good and was happy with the stride as I settled in. Less than half a mile later we made a u-turn and already things were thinning out and I was passing a few folks. One that I was most impressed with was a tiny little girl that was motoring along at what I judged was 7:15 pace. It was another hundred yards later that I passed her and thought to myself, once she learns the art of pacing she is going to be tough ! Turns out she was 8 years old and held on for a 25:30 finish !

  I went through mile 1 in 7:20 feeling good but had hoped it was a little faster. By now the field was spread out and there wasn't going to be too much passing going on. I was trying to hold steady and still felt good. Stride nice and smooth. I was a bit disappointed I slowed a little to 7:27 for mile 2. I was pretty sure I could pick it up a bit with just one more to go so I kicked it up a notch and the body seemed to respond.

 What little bit of racing took place in that last mile. I was slowly gaining on a guy just ahead and I could hear someone trying to come up on my shoulder with half mile to go. I dug a little deeper but the guy ahead was pulling away and the one behind me was fading so nothing changed in the standings. The last mile was a 7:15 but the course ended up being a bit long. It was a certified course but the way they had the cones lining the route we were taking long sweeping turns into the middle of the intersections instead of running the tangents which myself and a couple of guys I talked to after the race agreed seemed to cost about 20 seconds. Final official time was 23:08.

 To check on my theory  I ran the course as a cooldown taking the tangents and came almost exactly to the 5k distance.
 Speaking of awards, I was 1st in the age group and 10th overall. Had fun, was happy with the effort and the confidence boost that training is going well.
 Later I met with Stephanie and we  went for a 4 mile run. It was hot by then and I was tired !

 Stay tuned. Next race is the big one in Alabama !