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.

 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.

 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.


 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.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Run For The Roses 5K

  It wasn't until Race Director Elizabeth Werner announced that the race had been chosen as the RRCA State 5k Championship and then called me out on Facebook that I decided to enter this, the 37th annual RFTR 5k. I had raced in that very first one and several other years but not since 1999, although I had been a volunteer many times since then.

  After recovering from my December marathon and the cancellation of a planned 50k I found myself with a little less than 5 weeks to do a crash course in 5k training. Knowing the race route was a hilly one I divided my hard workouts between hill repeats and speedwork. Everything went well with that and I felt as prepared as I could and ready to take on the challenge.

 One thing I wasn't prepared for and neither was anyone else was the record heat that was coming.  By the 2 pm start it hit 80 degrees ! I did my usual warmup and just before the start as I was doing my strides I was not feeling good at all and beginning to have doubts about whether to push it. I lined up near the front and close to a few of the people I expected to be racing for the age group and just decided to see what would happen.

  I took it very easy until we started on the first downhill at around 1/4 mile and was relieved to be comfortable with the pace and by half mile I passed the one guy I was sure was my age that used to finish in front of me most of the time. That first mile went quite well and with the loop near halfway I was able to see the bulk of the runners that were behind me. One of the great things about running in these local events is knowing so many participants and volunteers. I was encouraged and motivated  by the many cheers and folks calling out my name all along the course.

 I passed  about the halfway point right on pace for what I was hoping for and thinking I would need to do for the win but I was hurting and the hot dry air already had me with a bad case of cotton mouth. I really wanted some water as I passed the tables but I didn't want to slow down and it really is only another 1.5 to go right ?

 I took advantage of the downhill to the two mile mark by pushing it a bit and I passed  a racer that has beaten me more times than not over the years when I run these shorter events. I know he is getting close to turning 60 if he hasn't already and I really want to stay ahead of him.  We start up the first of several short hills and he passes me  back but I regain the lead on the next little bit of downhill. Then we hit the steepest nastiest hill and I feel like dying and the I am making my death noises as I give it all and hope he doesn't pass me.

 The hill levels out a bit and about the 2.5 mile mark  we pass a course monitor. I know she meant well but when she said to "mind the heat and take it easy" I was thinking seriously? I've got a tough competitor three steps behind me and I'm trying to catch another grey haired unknown up ahead of me. No way I'm taking it easy. I'm RACING !

 By now I am making my usual death noises and pushing just as hard as I possibly can and then I finally see the last turn and the 3 mile mark. Less than a minute of intense pain to go. I don't really have another gear and heart and lungs are at max so I just hope I don't get passed.   And then finally its over. As I hunch over  gasping in agony a young guy that finished just in front of me comes back and ask if I'm ok. I stand up straight and smile and pat him on the shoulder and say, yes, thank you , I feel great ! Racing hard is like a near death experience followed by a  feeling of living life to its fullest.

 While I wait for the results I go to text my best friend my time of 22:43 and then wait to hear if I won. Before I can make it back to the finish area a friend congratulates me on my win ! Woohoo ! I did it ! Never in even my wildest dreams could I have predicted that I would win the RRCA State Championships 5k, 10k and the half marathon for Senior Grandmasters.  A lot of things had to all go very right for me to accomplish this. I am blessed with great support from family and friends, a great training partner and good health. I worked hard and never gave up hope battling the previous 2 years of injury. Training smarter and doing all the yoga and cross training have been the key but mainly it is the love of what I do. Go out and chase your dreams. Sometimes they come true if you work for it.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Run For The Roses 5k Preview and training update

 The Run For the Roses is a 5k event put on by the North Carolina Road Runners Club and is one of the oldest races still around in NC with this being the 37th annual coming up this Sunday. I was a participant in that first one running a 19:34. I returned the next year and ran what would end up being my fastest for the race, a 19:11. I had a 7 year streak and then didn't return for about a dozen years . I have not been a participant since 1999 but I have been a regular volunteer many times over the years. The race has had to move to a different location at least 5 times over all these years but the format has stayed the same with the current race being held at the Dorothea Dix Campus.

 I had not even considered racing it this year but after the race was chosen to be the Road Runners Club of America's NC State Championship 5k, race director Elizabeth Werner called me out publicly on Facebook to enter. She seems to think it would be a nice addition to go with my 10k and Half Marathon championships. I thought about it and I agree, it would be a nice addition to my collection but its not going to be easy. Anyway, I went ahead and entered and put it out there that I was accepting the challenge.

  I had entered the Frosty 50k the first weekend of January as the first race of the year and my return to racing ultras so I was hoping that 5 weeks in between would give me time to recover and get in a little speedwork. Mother Nature had different plans though and the 50k was cancelled but then postponed until the 21st. I made the decision to skip the 50k and go ahead and focus on the 5 k so I in essence had 4 weeks to prepare for the 5k.

  The course at Dix Hill is Hilly ! Surprise ! So as I was making my crash course in 5k training plan I felt that hills were just as important if not more so than doing a lot of speedwork. My first  track session  went quite well with my times right where I left off last November. A week later I was at the Art Museum for some painful 1/4 mile hill repeats. That hurt but it went well.

The following week it was back to the track and an even better workout. Another week later and a repeat of the art museum hills and each repeat was about 4 seconds faster than two weeks before. I then topped off the training with a sharpening track workout that I have done before every 5 k race over the past 4 years that has worked out well for me. Nailed that one with better splits than last November so I'm feeling confident that I'm ready to have a very good race.
In addition to these specific workouts I did all my long runs on the hills of Umstead plus another shorter faster 6 to 8 miler once a week in the park and my strength on the climbs has improved.

 So now I just have to show up and give it all I've got. Whether I win depends on if I can truly run to my potential and who else shows up. Even on my best day there are some tough guys out there in my age group that can kick my butt so there is no guarantee I make the podium. I will predict the outcome though. Like Clubber Lang said when asked to make a prediction in his fight with Rocky Balboa. Answer ? PAIN !

 As for the past two weeks of training other than the workouts above I had some good weeks since my last update two weeks ago. 38 and 30 miles respectively.  The cross training is going great also and in that two weeks I have had another 8 x 90 minute Bikram Yoga classes. Another 10 hours of home stretching and or yin Yoga. 4 sessions of free weights and 5 Body weight days. And I feel great !

 Stay Tuned and look for results and report here soon.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Training update January 2017

It's been awhile since I've done a training update with no racing since Mid December so I guess I should give my followers an idea whats going on.

 To start with its all going very well ! Yes, when you consider a year ago I missed practically all of January injured this year is starting off a whole lot better.

 Too much to give you the everyday training log but with a couple of days to go in the month I am on pace to have my highest mileage month in well over a year. I expect I'll finish with around 160 to 170 miles. This is still a lot less than i was doing a few years ago but I have so much other stuff happening I'm not really concerned. And with the lower mileage I am still running as well and in some ways better than I was in the last decade.

  I have only had one run in about 3 months other than the marathon in December that my average pace was above 9 minutes per mile and that was a hilly run in Umstead on ice. It used to be just days with hard workouts that I would ever dip below 9's and now most runs are 8:40's average !!

 I had taken a break from speedwork after finishing my Fall racing  and focusing on consistency and building the mileage but I have an important 5k coming up in 2 weeks so a couple of weeks ago I started back. It's like I never stopped. One the first track workout I was dead on the pace I set for my goal with no problem. Certainly a nice confidence boost and I'm eager to get into the Spring racing season and see what happens. More on that later.

 As far as the other training things are really going great. I'm still averaging 4 x 90 minute Bikram Hot Yoga classes per week and now for the past couple of months I've been adding ion more stretching and easy yoga. It began with a couple of sessions a week but for most of the this year its become an almost daily thing to do at least 30 minutes and more often 45 minutes to an hour. It's a great way to do something productive when I would normally just be sitting in the recliner being lazy and it doesn't take much if any energy to do it.

 And I haven't quit with the rest of my routine. I'm still lifting weights twice a week and doing my body weight workouts another 2 or 3 days a week.

 Thats enough for now. I've had some ideas for other things I want to share here but just been really busy with work and life and I would rather be doing my workouts than talking about them !

Monday, January 09, 2017

Bikram Hot Yoga. My one year Anniversary

  It was a year ago today that I finally decided to see what my friend Laura had been raving about for the previous 6 months. I was once again having to take a break from the run so I decided to join here for a class. We met at Bikram Yoga Durham where she introduced me to the teacher for that first class, Adrian LoMonaco. We went into the studio about 15 miinutes before class and it was 107F. I was not feeling very confident ! My only exposure to hot yoga was a fast paced 45 minute Vinyasa class 3 years before and I thought I was going to die and had no interest in going back.

 Somehow I made it through that first class with just a couple of short breaks and  afterwards I was ready to go through with the two week introductory plan.  I surely had no idea that i would still be going an average of 4 classes per week a year later.

 For those of you unfamiliar with Bikram Hot yoga. , it is a 90 minute session in a room that on average is about 105F and 45% humidity. Every class is always the same beginning with a breathing exercise to warm up. It is followed by a sequence of 22 postures done in 2 sets each that never varies. Class ends with another breathing exercise and savasana.

Click on the picture to enlarge.

 After a year I still struggle with some of the postures but the key is to have a consistent practice and you still get the benefits. Over this period of time I have seen great results in improved posture and stability which has been a major factor in keeping me injury free over the past year. It has also helped my running by helping to extend my stride thanks to more flexibility, especially in my hip flexors.

 I dont expect I will ever master some of the poses and although I see some improvement in my flexibility I will not ever be the rubber band type of yogi but I'm ok with that. Its enough that I am seeing so much improvement with my overall physical and emotional health and I have been welcomed into a new community of wonderful people. I'll always be a runner first but i expect this will be a part of my life from now on. I have even began to add some extra work at least 5 days a week now at home or the gym.

 Thank You Laura for getting me into this. now if you would just start back running with me every now and then !

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Looking ahead to some bigtime fun in 2017

  Once again the year didn't quite start off as planned but thankfully not due to injury. No, as far as that is concerned I am well and my training is going great.  I had planned a surprise return visit from Ultraman at the Frosty 50k this weekend but a bit of snow and ice has cancelled that  idea. FF was the site of my current 50k pr from 2010 and I had hopes of attempting to lower that pr this year. I'm not sure if I really had a shot at it because I still haven't really gotten in the long runs I was expecting to have but I did recover quickly from the marathon 4 weeks ago and my body feels great.  The race has been rescheduled for 1-21 but I'm 99% sure I won't race then. It was already a little too close to my next race so I will just move on. Here is what I have on the schedule so far for 2017.

 Feb 12th. The Run for the Roses 5k.

 I really didn't have plans for this but after it was named the RRCA 5K State Championship and the race director Elizabeth Werner called me out and challenged me to add it to my collection , I decided to go for it.

March 4th. Florence Forth 10k in Durham.

 No particular reason other than I want to race a 10k.

 March 25th. Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon.

 Looking forward to returning to this one. Goal is sub 1:39 and make the podium again.

 April 8th.  Kal-Haven Trail 33.5 miler. Kalamazoo MI.

 Ok, Ultraman gets his shot at a 50k pr. The race is 2 miles longer but I'm going for the split and if I die the last 2 miles then I'm ok with that ! And if I do get the pr I may be able to hold on for the Senior GM course record !

April 29th. Promise Land 50K++

 Another time for Ultraman to shine. Maybe. Hoping that my friend and co-worker Candida joins in this one and we both feel great and have good weather. One of my all time favorite trail races.

 May 21st. Green Bay Marathon.

 Hopeful recovered enough to run just fast enough to get a Boston qualifier and see Lambeau Field.

June 4th. Rocky Mount Mills 5k.

 It can't be as miserable as last year can it? Hope not and I can go for a fast time and another podium spot on this fast course.

 I'll probably try and hot some pop up miles and Godiva meets again in June also. I would like to race  track 5k which I didn't get to do last summer as I had hoped.

 July 8th. Grandfather Mountain Marathon.

 I look forward to returning to one of my favorite events.  This is the 50th anniversary of the race and I hope to give it one last shot at a sub 4. And if I do I have a good chance of being 1st Senior GM. That would be awesome !

 July 15th. The Scream Half Marathon.

 Never done this one before but thought it would be fun to bookend a week in the mountains. A mostly downhill course will make it interesting to see just how fast I can go if I'm not too beat up from Grandfather. Should make the podium based on previous years results if i have an average day.

 August ?

 My plan for the second half of the year is to compete in the Running Journal Grand Prix Series. This was started by Racing South Magazine 40 years ago and was continued after Running Journal bought them. I have participated in some of the races several times but never made an effort to score in the series. This year I plan to not only compete but I have every intention of winning my age group and hopefully the Senior GM division.
  The series runs from August until next May and right now the full schedule hasn't been announced but I expect it will kick off in late August with the Midnight Flight 10 in anderson SC as usual. I'll make a separate post on this  later in the summer when the details are set.

 September. ? Nothing planned so far until I get the Grand Prix series schedule. If there are no series races I will find something local thats fun.

 October15th. Detroit Free Press Marathon.

 I was looking for an Oct marathon and decided to go run Detroit. Why Detroit of all places ?  Well, back in 1998 and 1999 I spent every other week working in Detroit and I haven't been back since Jan of 2000. I thought it would be nice to visit some of the places I enjoyed while I was there. Its a fast course, goes into Canada and the weather is typically great for racing. I hope to run fast and move up a few corrals at boston. That is if I get a BQ in May !

 Nov 3rd. City Of Oaks Half Marathon.

 I've never entered any of the previous races but I'm leaning heavily on giving the half a good run and a podium spot if nothing pops up on the Grand Prix schedule to conflict with it.

 November 19th. Magic City Half Marathon. Birmingham AL.

 This is dependent on whether it stays on the Grand Prix schedule like it was for 2016.

 December 12th. Rocket City Marathon. Huntsville AL.

 This is a great race put on by a strong running club for about 40 years and has always been on the RJ Grand Prix series as far as I can remember so I plan to be there. It also earns double points ! Always tough competion so making the podium would be only from having a very good performance but scoring goes 8 deep so I have to race if I am serious about the series.

 Thats it for now. I'll fill in any holes in the schedule as things develop over the coming year. Stay tuned for some fun filled action and hopefully another amzing year !

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

An Amazing Year ! Well most of it ! 2016 in review

Well, it certainly didn't start off amazing. It started off with no running due to my hip hurting again. Very frustrating  and I had to cancel my racing plans for January and February but I never gave up hope and my best friend was a constant encouragement to me.

 The one good thing that came from the injury was that I started taking Bikram Hot Yoga. More on that soon in another post but it gave me a great workout to help get me through the injury and I soon found that it would be a big part of keeping me injury free over the rest of the year.

 By February I was back running and after a few awkward days I soon found that I was able to run at nearly the same pace as before but being cautious not to add too many miles too quickly.

 In March I had planned to run a hard half at Myrtle Beach on the 5th. It was hard but not quite how I planned. I woke up the day before with a fever and difficulty breathing. I drove down anyway and woke up not feeling any fever so I ran the race. Bad idea. Although I somehow ran a respectable 1:50:15 I was a wreck and my chest felt like a truck was parked on it.

 A week of rest and I began to feel almost normal so I went ahead with plans to race the half at Wrightsville Beach. The weather was decent and I had a better time in 1:47:53 and was lucky enough to get 2nd in my age group. Not bad even though I  was still several minutes slower than the previous Fall.

 April was Boston month. Any hope for a fast time was dashed with the way the year started but I arrived feeling good and planning to make the most of it. Thanks to Laura for surprising me by showing up to support me because my heart really wasn't in it until then. The race went better than I expected for the first 18 but then I crashed as expected but somehow still ran my best of 3 Bostons in 4:12:10.

 In May things finally started getting going the way I had hoped as I made my plans for the year. I had fun and a really good run at the Medoc Spring trail Race and then everything just started to click and the hard work began to really pay off.

 I ran the NCRC Classic 10k and felt amazing. I was smiling halfway because I was crushing it and knew I wasn't going to fall apart ! On those Umstead hills I ran faster than I had in at least a decade in 47:43 and won the RRCA Senior Grandmasters Championship for 10k !

 In June despite a most hot and miserable humid morning I was able to take 2nd in my age group in a 5k in Rocky Mount 23:03 was a lot slower than I hoped but under the conditions it wasn;t bad . Everyone was suffering.

 A couple of weeks later I entered the Raleigh Rundown Mile, a new event thinking it would be fun and a test to see how my speed was coming along. I was shocked to run a 6:04 mile with almost no speedwork and it was awesome having the Frey family waiting to cheer me on at every qtr mile. I won 1st Senior GM in that one too.

 My focus over the summer was to work on speed and try to run a mile on the track faster than my last track race in 1999 which was a 6:32. The first attempt was on June 28th at The Sir Walter Pop up Mile championship. Poor pacing but I came close in 6:35 with the Frey team cheering me on again.

 On July 13th I went to a Godiva all comers meet with my co worker Luke to give it another shot. I was pacing better but made the mistake of running in the slow heat and got trapped behind about 20 slower runners on the last lap. Ran 6:37. Frustrated but happy with the effort.

 Finally on July 27th I returned to Chapel hill for my last shot. It was the most miserable evening of the summer and I could barely breath doing my warmup with the dew point at 79F and 83% humidity but somehow once the race began the magic happened. I paced myself well and had the kick needed to run 6:31 ! I did it ! A lot of it due to the hard work, and the new stride . More on the  stride n another post soon.

 No racing in August as I was preparing for a big Fall. Since I was focusing on speed and the mile I had entered the Oak City mile road race for the first time. Another hot humid afternoon but I ran well in 6:41 and yet another Senior GM win.

 Two weeks later I retunred to the Virginia 10 miler for the first time in 15 years and was humbled by the Hills. Actually I was very pleased with my effort but my lack of hill training showed in the last 1.5 mile climb to the finish. 83:07 was not what I had hoped for but pretty respectable and I at least finished 4th in my age group against more than 30 hard core racers.

 In October I ran the ATT 10 miler for the first time since 2007 and my goal was to beat that time of 77:43. I had a very good day and accomplished my goal with a 77:07 and 1st in age group. But that was after taking out three for Senior awards. That small race draws a tough old bunch !

 And then finally November came and my goal race for the year. I had signed up last November to run the half after having 7 marathon finishes there with the hope of winning a spot on the podium. Training had been going great and I set a time goal of 1:40. I ran a perfect race. Got the 1:40:35 and won the RRCA State Half Marathon Championship against 40 others in my age group.

 2 weeks later just for fun I entered the masters race at the Foot Locker XC regionals  at McAlpine Creek in Charlotte , a course I had trained on for several hundred miles in the 90's. I had a lot of fun and ran a decent 22:39 5k. They don't do age groups but if they did I would have been 2nd.

 I finished up the year with the Kiawah Island Marathon. At the beginning of the year when I entered I had hoped to be in great shape and go for a fast time. I was in great shape but not for long distance. Seems I had neglected any long runs this year. Despite that I ran great for 21 miles and then suffered a miserable final 5 but was able to squeak under 4 hours. It was a bit of a boost knowing once I get the mileage back up I should be able to easily get a Boston Qualifier next year.

 And there it  is. An amazing year in the books. Who would have ever guessed I would be running as fast at most distances at 60 as I was in my mid 40's and 50's . And I'm not done yet. Look for news of racing plans in 2017 soon.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

whatcha been up to since Kiawah? Training update

 Its been two weeks since Kiawah Marathon and I'm feeling pretty good. I took two days off from running and  then was happy to have a good 4 miler with no soreness and just a little tightness at 8:53 pace. Mostly just easy running for 5 days and 28.5 miles for the week with all under 9 minute pace.

 The next week due to work and weather I only ran 4 days but I got in 36 miles in those 4 days and all under 9mp including my 14 miler. I did my first hard run earlier in the week and it went much better than expected. An easy 3 followed by 3 at 7:25 average.

 In addition to the running I had no break from the cross training with 8 Bikram Yoga Classes over the two weeks including one on Christmas morning. I've been making time to stop at the gym on the way home from work and some days right after my run and it's paying off. I got in three weights sessions and 9 other workouts of stretching, core and body weight stuff.

 The year is quickly coming to an end so I'll have the  yearly recap post up soon. I'm going to delay the looking ahead just  a bit but I wont hold you in suspense too long. There will be a few surprises and also more of the same as this year. Until then, stay tuned. It's going to be fun !

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Crashing head first into the wall. Kiawah Island Marathon

   Earlier in the year when I signed up for this marathon it was the final part of a grand plan. Focus on speed early in the year and gradually race longer until I was ready to crush a fast time and get a Boston qualifier to cap off the year. Everything was going just as planned but for one thing. Somewhere along the way I kind of missed out on getting any long runs into the training schedule. I had decided a few months before to make the OBX half the focus of my year and I added the ATT 10 miler a few weeks before that when I should have been getting in some 20 milers. Now as race day approached looking back I had just one 14 miler since April and that was 7 weeks before race day. Hmm, I think it might get ugly towards the end.

   So after getting some work done Friday am I began the long drive to Kiawah arriving for packet pickup just before dark and then headed to find my hotel and make final preparations.  It was going to be a cold start but the forecast was looking near perfect. 35 at the start and low 50's for the high.

 To get to the start  you have to park in a grassy field just off the island unless you are a guest at the resort. I was pleased to find that the shuttles were large luxury buses and they were quick and efficient getting us to the start very quickly. I was able to get inside the expo to stay warm until a few minutes before the start which was just a short walk.

 As I was lining up I found Joe Schlereth and Kathy Lee, a couple of ultra running friends so it was nice to see some familiar faces. As we started my plan was to go easy and then settle in to about an 8:50 pace and see how long I could hold that. My normal easy run pace these days is around 8:45 to 8:50 and thats about what I need for the BQ so I knew I should be able to at least get in a good bit of distance before falling apart. A smarter person would probably go slower and do some run walking with my lack of long distance this year but no guts no glory right ?

 Kiawah is about as flat as possible and I got off to an easy start letting the half marathoners and fast people go on while I tried to just relax and settle in for the long morning ahead. I hit mile 1 in 8:47, slightly faster thanIi wanted or expected but it was all good, I'll just back off a little. Mile 2 in 8:45. Ok, slow it down just a little bit. Mile 3 in 8:34. Ok, maybe I won't slow down. I had to laugh to myself a little. In my conversation with Laura Frey after yoga on the Thursday before the race  we discussed my race plan, I had told her I was going to hold back and just run 8:50's and not go out looking for a fast time. She said no you won't, you will be rolling 8:30's   I guess she was right as I decided to just go with what felt comfortable which was mid 8:30's to low 8:40's for the next many miles.

 Around mile 5 the wind picked up as forecast but it was only about 10mph and with the many twist and turns on the course and a lot of protection from trees it wasn't going to really be much of a factor. By now I was comfortable and settled in clicking off the miles almost effortlessly. Mile 10 was an 8:59 thanks to a short pee break and my split there was 1:27:00 or about 8:42 pace. This was
awesome. By now the half marathoners had split off and the field was getting spread out. Every now and then were some nice homes and then more bike path and trees.

 Nothing much to say for the next several miles. I was stuck into the same groove of about 8:42 average and loving life. I'm not sure what happened with mile 14. It was a slower 8:55 but I still felt fine and then I was right back to hitting upper 8:30's again. Hmm. Oh well. Around mile 15 the faster runners were coming towards us from a keyhole loop section and I spotted Sonny Ali looking strong as he was trying to go for 3:10. We high fived and then soon after I saw Jay Soffian.

 My pace and effort was still steady and I hit mile 20 in 2:54:20 making the 2nd 10 miles just 20 seconds slower than the 1st 10. Pretty consistent pacing huh? At this point I was feeling confident and surpried that I may just pull this thing off and get a BQ and with enough cushion to get me a guaranteed spot. I slowed to an 8:57 for mile 21 but  that was fine. I told myself not to worry, that I didnt need any more cushion. I slowed a little more to 9:18 at 22 but still plenty of cushion and I still was feeling ok. And then BAM !  Headfirst into the wall. Mile 23 wasn't too bad but at that point my calves said, OK, we're done here.

 I tried my best to convince them to keep pushing off but to no avail. It was actually a miracle that they never cramped. Each mile got longer and harder and slower but I didn't want to give up hope but I just couldn't hold pace and had to resort to taking a few short walk breaks. I was doing the math in my head but by 25 I had lost all of my cushion and the miracle BQ was not going to happen today. Now if I could just salvage a sub 4 at least. Barely. I finally crossed the line in 3:59:23 and was totally spent. I'm still amazed at how I could feel so good at 22 and by 24 feel like death !

 Unlike Boston where I was walking normally after the race and Laura said I looked like I hadn't done anything,  here I had to sit and then do a slow shuffle to go get my drop bag and then had to lie down inside for 15 minutes before I could change clothes. Yeah, not a good idea to do these things without the proper training.

 No worries though. I m feeling great , recovering quickly and back to training and that BQ is going to come in the Spring ! Stay tuned !

Friday, December 09, 2016

Kiawah Island Marathon preview and training update

 When I signed up for this one early in the year the plan was to come off of a strong Autumn of building up from the shorter races and use the speed built over the summer to crush a fast marathon and BQ. Only problem with that plan is somehow along the way I seem to have left out all of the long runs in the training.  Since Boston in April I have done one 14 miler about 7 weeks ago and the half marathon 4 weeks ago. A couple of 12 milers and thats it. Hmmm. Things could get ugly towards the end.

   So, here I am in really great shape for racing up to the half but really unprepared for the long one.  But miracles do happen, and in fact most of the 2nd half of this year has been a miracle so maybe it won't get too bad. The plan now is to just go out easy and use it as a training run. Nice thing is that my current BQ pace, 8:58 is actually slower than my easy training pace up to the half. Lately I have been running about 8:45ish  for easy runs. Who knows, maybe muscle memory and a good day will let me carry that pace all the way. Or not. We shall see.

 The course has been changed but still remains perfectly flat and the weather is looking great. About 34F at the start and warming to the upper 40's. Marathon racing weather !

 Here is a link to the race website.

 The training has been going well since the 5k two weeks ago. I had no soreness or downtime afterwards and followed up with a strong week of training getting in 34 miles and all at a strong pace. Also had 3 bikram yoga classes, some more yoga homework, 2 weights sessions at the gym and tibetans on 4 days.

 This week I've only gotten in a couple of 5 milers but both were awesome with my stride feeling strong and smooth at 8:30 pace and easy effort. Also got in  3 more bikram yoga classes,  another weight session, a body weight day and more tibetans.

 Staye tuned and look for results soon ! And wish me luck, I'm going to need it.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Foot Locker 5k XC South Regional Masters

My race which included all the open runners as well as masters would be the first of a dozen spread out every 30 minutes throughout the day. The good thing with that was I had nearly perfect weather, mid 40's and the wind had not picked up. The only downside was my cheer squad would not be showing up until around Noon.

 I did my usual warmup routine and then lined up ready to roll. I had guessed I could realistically expect to run about 22:30 on this course if things went well but my training since August had been centered around the half marathon so I would just have to wait and see if I still had a bot more speed in me.

 We got off to a clean start and as I expected with most of the masters in the 40ish group and a lot of serious runners in the open event, I found myself near the back of the pack. Experience has taught me to be patient and I have a very good sense of pace so I stuck to my plan. The course is marked every 2/10th of a kilometer and by .4k I could already feel that I was going to have a good race.

 The course is a straight shot and flat as a pancake for the first half mile and I was hoping to hit the first K in 4:30. Boom ! Nailed it. And I was already beginning to pass some runners. I made it to the first mile in 7:14 feeling strong. I was just trying to maintain the effort and pick off spots one at a time.

 Finally made it to the one hill and just put my head down and tried not to slow too much knowing it is only about 200 yards long and the halfway point of the race is just about at the top. Felt strong and  then ran as hard as I could down the other side which is short and steep without falling on my face !   Just before exiting the woods there is another short hill and I just powered up using my momentum and passed a few more.

 The 2 mile mark is on the backside of the pond and I hit it in about 7:21 only slowing a little from the first mile which was great considering the hill. Now I just had to bear down and hold on for the final mile. As is usual with these short races , things start to hurt that last mile but I stayed focused on trying to hold pace and and pick off a couple of more runners. With about 1/2 mile to go I pulled up by a man that looked like he could possibly be my age. It was a bit funny because he was making nearly the same death noises I do so I was hoping to pass him but I just couldn't wear him down and by the time we were back at the pond with 1/4 mile to go I was in a world of hurt myself. I hit mile 3 in about 7:09 but my garmin was a bit off from the actual marker and was probably closer to 7:15.

 I tried to kick it in but I couldn't catch the guy. Later I would learn he was only 55 and he finished not quite 2 seconds a head of me. It took them awhile to sort out the results but when it was finally posted I was 47th out of 72. They don't do age group awards but I was 2nd of  the only 3  seniors .

 It was a fun event and very professional. I'm glad I finally got a chance to race on this course that I had trained on for so many years. Whether I ever return i can't say. Too many things on the racing calendar this time of year and too few years to do them.

 I enjoyed watching the HS runners competing and the championship races were both very exciting. I was able to figure out the best vantage points for spectating so I was ready when the Frey girls finally showed up for there 1:30 race.  Laura and I watched the start and then she went to claim a spot near the finish line and I moved onto the course where I would be able to see them in 3 different spots.

 It was a lot of fun to watch them racing hard and Iwas so proud of them and especially Sophia's   toughness near the end when a girl passed her with about 1 tenth to go. She could have given up but instead she gave it all she had and reclaimed the spot and her pace for the race was probably over a minute per mile faster than during the regular xc season at her school

Friday, November 25, 2016

Foot Locker XC Regionals preview and training update

 A bit strange in a way that I am here but I'm pretty excited about it. In case you don't know, this race is a qualifier for the National Championships for HS xc and has been held now for 37 years. So what am   doing here? Well turns out they also have an open and master division race the same day and actually my race is the first of about a dozen races.

 Back in the 90's I used to commute to Charlotte every other week for 2 or three days and I discovered McAlpine Creek and its xc course and over that decade I logged 300 to 400 miles in workouts. Then last year Laura brought her daughter Isabella here to race and that when I heard about the open race. How cool would it be to actually race on this course that I trained on so many years ago. The only problem was it is held on the same day as the Derby 50K. After a 12 year streak of fun there it was going to be hard to miss but since I had already committed to no ultras this year I knew it was time to do something different.

 And so her I am, ready to race hard on a xc course. Thing is they don't even have age group awards. I will be competing with everyone from age 40 and up and most of the guys that run these events are hard core xc and short distance guys. They don't even list the ages of the competitors in the results. But I'm here to have fun and run as fast as I can and if I can finish halfway in the field I will be thrilled.

 The course follows the same route as I use to run but it is all a wide crushed gravel surface now where there used to be some natural dirt and a few roots and a short section of single track. Only one hill but its short and hard. Otherwise a flat course so times are pretty fast.

Looking down the only hill. Pretty steep ! About halfway in the 5k course

 And after my race I get to hang around and watch some of the best youth and highschool runners in the South and especially Isabella and Sophie in the 11-12 year old race. So exciting !

 Here is a link to the race website.

 As for my training since OBX, I took a couple of days off and just easy running for a week with only 21 miles. This week I've just done 17 but I did get in a pre race track workout geared toward this event. And I sure wasn;t slack in my cross training. since I was not running much I made it to 6 Bikram yoga classes last week and 2 so far this week. In addition over that time period I made it back to the gym for a couple of weight sessions and another 8 body weight or stretching workouts. Feeling strong and ready to roll !

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Boom ! Nailed it ! OBX Half Marathon

 I was trying to come up with a title for the race report and those three words summed it up as well as any.  At the end of last year as I was planning my racing schedule for the coming year I had already made up my mind that this would be the goal race for the Fall and nearly all of the 2nd half of the year was geared toward being in top shape for this one.

 The race is along the beautiful Outer Banks and was started in 2006 to bring tourist into the area during the off season. I was there for that first race  running the full marathon and returned on 6 other occasions. I couldn't go to the 10th anniversary for personal reasons but made up my mind I was going back but do the half for a change. After all, this was the year of running shorter distances anyway.

 In my mind I had set a goal of running 1:40 and hoping that would be enough to get me on the podium and as I like to put my goals out there, I made that prediciton in my January looking ahead blogpost.  But I knew it wouldn't be easy. Last Fall I was running in the 1:44 range but felt I had faster in me if things went well.

 But, things sure didn't start off well this year as I missed almost all of January with a recurrence of my nagging hamstring/hip/glute injury. I slowly returned and was happy to see  a quick recovery but in March at Myrtle Beach I woke up with a fever of 101.2 and an upper respiratory infection. I ran like an idiot anyway  and somehow ran 1:50 and then felt like I had a truck parked on my chest.

 Two weeks later after antibiotics and pracically no running in between I ran  a 1:47 at Wrightsville Beach. Finally after that everything began to fall into place. My injuries were finally gone in part thanks to beginning yoga at the first of the year and I was finally able to train with confidence. But I had my work cut out for me if I was going to drop my time that much. I had some pretty amazing things happen after that and achieved every goal I had set for myself over the Summer and early Fall.

 After having a great race at the NCRC event, ATT 10 miler in late October, three weeks before OBX, I felt in my heart that I could do what  I  had set in motion  last Winter. I messaged my training partner Laura and told her 1:40. It's going to happen.

 So finally the weekend of the race arrived and I had a plan.  The course is about pancake flat other than going over the Baum Bridge over the sound into Manteo at mile 10.   I just needed to run smart and stay within a few seconds of goal pace so I could get to the bridge feeling strong and once  I hit the top then throw myself off the bridge ! Ha, thats a joke from one of our training runs. Not literally jump off but use the downside to start the push to the finish with a strong fast last 5k.

 The weather on Sunday morning was near perfect. 44f at the start and only reaching a high of 50F and only a slight wind of 6-7 mph, mostly a tailwind ! Everything was falling right into place. I did the usual warmup routine and then lined up near the front, eager to be underway.

 At the gun I fell into a comfortable pace ignoring those around me as always and hoping my sense of pace was strong today. Goal was to maintain between 7:35-7:45 and I hit mile one in 7:31 so I eased off just a little bit. I felt good but did not want to get too excited. About that time Charles Akers passed by and we spoke for a bit before he moved on ahead.

 The mile 2 marker was off and had me a bit angry but I just kept going and hoped that things would even out at mile 3. It seemed to and I had slowed down too much at just over 8 mp for those two miles.  By now I was really feeling relaxed and smooth so I picked up the effort just a little and hit 4 in 7:41. After that it was almost too easy and I began to roll off a series of 7:33 and 7:34 miles. By mile 6 I just knew that I was going to have a great day. Just stick to the plan and don't get greedy.

 The spectators and volunteers were all saying I looked great and I was feeling it. My stride which I have worked on the past couple of years felt long and strong and I was just on cruise control. By mile 8 I began to steadily pass people and then I hit mile 9 with the bridge looming ahead. I wanted to run about 8 flat to mile 10 and just keep the effort steady.

 The recent weeks of hitting the hills in Umstead were paying off and I hit mile 10 in 7:58 ! Right on schedule and then it was hammer time. I did throw myself off the bridge and in my mind I was starting a 5k race.  Trying to redline as close as possible, I could feel the effort but still relaxing and already excited for the celebration to come. 2 miles to go and its really starting to hurt now and soon I turn into the bit of headwind but I just dig deeper. 1 mile to go. Lungs are starting to burn and I'm starting to make my death noises but I keep pushing. I got this ! And then finally there is the finish line and I know the goal is waiting for me. 1:40:35 ! Boom ! Nailed it ! Just as if I'd had a premonition of the day. And the last 5k? 23:11, exactly 7:30 pace and the fastest 3 miles of the race !

  As I passed through the chute a volunteer said I was the first of the "young guys" but I know a lot of people don't look their age but it was encouraging. Although they had my results up quickly there was nothing on placement yet so I went to change into dry warm clothes. Yes, even at 50 degrees I was sweating a lot at that effort. I got changed and then  I pulled out my phone and went online to check the results. Woohoo ! Yes !! 1st in age group out of 40 finishers and 66th overall out of 1954. I did it !

 After that I walked back to the finish and found Charles so we talked while waiting for Blanca to finish. Then I went to enjoy some post race food and wait for the awards ceremony. The finish line amosphere in downtown Manteo is about the best of any road race I have particiated in so it was worth waiting around for.

 So there it is Boom ! Nailed it !
 A goal, a plan and a lot of hard work and smart training all came together to make a dream come true. On to the next one !

Friday, November 11, 2016

OBX Half Marathon Preview and training update

  I'm feeling quite a bit of excitement as I start my road trip to the Outer Banks to race this Weekend. As I was planning my year of racing for 2016 I had chosen this one as one of my big goal races. Starting last Fall and in the early Spring of this year I had been racing well at the half distance so i was curious to see if I could put things together progressively moving up from the mile over the summer and building up to this event.

  I have raced in the Full Marathon here 7 of the first 10 years. Five of those were for fun with friends but twice I was going for a BQ and blew up miserably !  I'm hoping that my attempt at a fast time will not end up as an epic failure as those two races did !

 The course is flat and fast with the exception of the Baum Bridge across the sound to manteo which is between mile 9 and 10. If  get to that point in good shape then I am confident of a good race.When I was signing up for the race not only was I looking forward to a fast time but I have high hopes of winning a spot on the podium in my age group. That will depend on not only having a good race but depends on who shows up as always.  This race usually has well over 2,000 finishers so if i am successful it will be the biggest race by far that I win an award. So hold on and wish me luck !
 The race does have live tracking so if you're interested just google OBX marathon for info.

 As for the training the past two weeks, I had one of my best weeks of running last week with 36 miles and a strong track workout. This week I've only put in 12 so far but I  had another another good track workout focusing on race pace.
  I'm still getting in a lot of yoga with 8 regular Bikram classes, one  advanced class and some more work at home. The free weights are still not happening right now but I am still getting in a couple of body weight sessions every week and I am feeling fantastic !

 Stay tuned for results and more !

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Training is great and lots of Yoga ! W/e 10-29-16

 So after the race I took a couple of days off from running and then a couple of easy runs. On that Friday, I got in my longest run since running Boston in April, a 14 miler on the hills of Umstead. I felt great and my pace was about what my easy short run pace used to be on flat ground ! Gotta love the way things are going! Only 28 miles for the week but it was a recovery week.

 In addition I had one of if not the biggest yoga week so far. I made it to 5 Bikram classes plus went with Laura to a special Yin Yoga class and did another couple of 1 hr sessions on my own gving me about 11 hours worth of yoga. Really loving the classes and the benefits I am gaining from it.

 Not much in the way of hard training coming up becuase i have my big goal race of the Fall, OBX Half Marathon coming up in two weeks so hold on for more on that soon !

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Smokin on the American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler

 As I mentioned in my preview I had not planned on running this race until after doing so well in Lynchburg. With the way things have been going for me this year I was feeling confident I would be able to achieve my goal of beating my time here from 10 years ago but the other goal of making the podium was going to be tough with the level of competition signed up to race.

  I arrived at the race site in plenty of time to pick up my bib and do a little socializing. The weather was nearly perfect  with a starting temperature in the 50's and low humidity and the wind hadn't started picking up yet. I did my usual pre race warm up and then headed over to the start with just a few minutes to go. The women had just started 10 minutes earlier which helps to thin out the crowd on this narrow course so by the time we caught the slower runners and walkers it would not be a problem passing.

  As expected  all the fast Seniors I expected and a few more that I didn't know if they would be competitive or not had shown up to race.  And again as expected as soon as the race started Kevin and Robert were gone. Mike was just ahead but my main concern was to settle in and not get sucked out too fast in the first mile. I stayed very relaxed and was thrilled to hit the 1st mile in 7:24 and it felt a slower. Yes, I think it is going to be a good day !

 The legend , 71 year old Wade Clark was just ahead too. What an amazing runner ! By mile two I was holding steady and caught up to Mike. It was pretty cool running alongside of him and knowing we were both having the same goal of fnishing in front of the other !

 Around mile 3.5 I finally eased by Wade but he was still lookiing strong.  Around the same time I passed a couple of others that were possibly in my age group. At mile four Mike stopped for water and for a moment I thought maybe he was slowing but just about the 5 mile mark there he was right beside me again. My time at the half was still well ahead of my goal pace and only about 30 seconds slower than my fantasy goal.  I saw John Tate at the turnaround  and exchanged a quick greeting and then  Mike made a move and gradually began to pull away.

 I was hoping to keep him close and my pace for mile 6 was right where I wanted, 7:39 even with the sharp u turn but he was not coming back to me. It was a  bit strange the next few miles. I still felt pretty good and my turnover seemed the same but now my splits kept getting a little slower each mile. Although it appears basically flat, the whole trail has about a 1% grade to it and most of the return was back up that grade and it just slowly zaps the speed out of you. I was really trying to drop the pace but the extra effort was not making me go any faster. And at times it would seem like I was beginning to close the gap on Mike but then he would find more energy and open the gap again. And to make it even harder I noticed the forecasted wind had picked up and was right in our faces the last two miles.

  Finally I was able to see the finish line and although those last 3 miles were slower I knew I was going to beat myself from 2007 !

 It would be awhile before the results were ready so I spent more time hanging out with friends and talking to my fellow seniors. Turns out because the race doesn't duplicate awards after taking out the first 3 Senior Grandmasters, I was left in first place for the  age group ! Not exactly the most rewarding way to win but I'll take it ! And a big congratulations to those other guys. They are certainly on another level than me. But I think I might can take them in a hundred if I ever decide to race another one !

 Oh, and my time was 77:07, which was 41 seconds faster than I ran 10 years ago ! The amazing year of turning back the clock continues ! Stay tuned for the next adventure !

Friday, October 21, 2016

American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler preview and training update

 So, just what have I been up to since the Virginia 10 miler? Well, after racing strong on that very hard and hilly course I was curious as to what I could do on a flat 10 miler so I decided to enter this one. This race is put on by the North Carolina Roadrunners Club and this will be the 10th edition. I ran that first one back in 2007 with a time of  77:48. 

  My goal for this year is to continue the turn back the clock performances and beat that time. The weather forecast is about perfect so I think I have a good shot at doing that. I would like to say I have a good shot at the podium if I do but to be honest I will be very lucky and in a real battle to get 3rd. There are only 6 or 7 in my age group on the entrants list but it is some of the toughest competion of just about any race I have been in this year. At least two men aged up that are truly on another level than me (but I'm pretty sure I could take them in a 50 miler ) Another man  has been very close to my times and two years ago out sprinted me in a 5k and although I am not too familar with the other names on the list I think a couple of them are very fast. But thats ok, I am really competing with myself and even more so my 50 year old self ! 

 The training has been going quite well these past four week.I took an easy week after the race and then got back to work.  Mileage has been 28, 35, 29 and so far this week 21 so still not really getting in much in the way of long runs. With the longer race distances now I have changed my speedwork to stuff more specific to whats coming. I have done some tempo intervals on the greenway and have been back to the track a couple of times. Instead of 200's and 400's like I was doing in the summer I am doing mile repeats and 800's now and the workouts have been great !

  And as always in addition the the running I am still working hard with the cross training. I'm still seeing great results in the Bikram Hot Yoga and attending three or four classes per week and I have added a little more stretching and yin yoga that seems to be helping. Also doing the Tibetan Rites  four or five days a week and my body weight stuff at least 3 times per week. With all the extra stuff I haven't made it to the gym for weights in the past month but i hope to get back to that soon.

 So, that's it for now. Stay Tuned for race results and more training. This party is just getting started  

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Virginia 10 Miler- Where Southern Hospitality Meets The Road

 If you read my preview then you know I was pretty excited to finally be returning to this classic road race for the 20th time but my 1st since 2002. Like so many things there have been a lot of changes but the great course, the volunteers and race organization are still among the best in the country.

Just after the climb at 5 miles

 My main goal in this was to have some fun on the challenging course and see how fast I could run in comparison to my previous races here. And  I was hoping if things went well I might even make the podium, something I would never have imagined would be in a race this large and with such a competitive history.

  Race morning was a bit more humid, about 80% and warm in the mid 60's than I had hoped this late in the month but I still felt I was ready. I did my usual warmup routine on the adjacent E.C. Glass High School track and made my way over to the start with 1400 other 10 milers and about the same number in the 4 mile event. I was surprised to see Raleigh friend Laura Berry and Nick Meeker in front of me so I wished her luck in this her first time racing here. She would win her age group !

  As the race began I just tryied to relax. No point in pushing things here, just letting gravity help get me settled in. After a short little hill at qtr mile the next 1.25 are all downhill and most of that is pretty steep. You can get a little cushion but have to be careful and not pound the life out of your legs this early ! I was hoping for around a 7:30 first mile and nailed it in 7:27.   All well and good but how would the 2nd mile be when the first big uphill comes?

 I continued on at a relaxed pace to the bottom of Farm Basket Hill as it is called and at 1.5 it was time to start the half mile steep climb up to mile 2. I was feeling pretty strong and hoping for a good split and finally topped out in 8:04. This was great ! Maybe my fantasy of sub 80:00 was a possibility !
 Mile three is gently rolling but mostly uphill and I maintained pace just a little over 8. By now I was feeling really good and and settled into a nice groove and confident it was going to be a good day. Mile 4 has one short but steep hill and then a nice gradual downhill. Just before approaching the point where the races split I was passing one of the 4 mile racers . He was making the death sounds like I make near the end of some of my hard races when I am giving it all I've got in the last mile. I had to smile and was thinking  yep, thats probably going to be me at mile 9 !

 But right now I was on cloud 9 and with a 7:45 mile 4 I added a little to my cushion. And I knew I would need it in the next mile. Just about the 4.5 mark the course makes a loop through Riverside park. A slight uphill and then down down down. But the climb back up is brutal. For those of you familiar with North Turkey Creek in Umstead, the 5 mile mark is right in the middle of a climb like the steepest on on that trail. Up on your toes for the first 100yards and then not nearly as steep for another qtr mile after you pass that mark. I was happy to feel strong going up. Those training runs in Umstead in the weeks before paid off !  8:01  !

 The next 3 miles as we were heading back were mostly uneventful. I was staying pretty steady but losing a few seconds of my cushion each mile hitting between 8:05 and 8:10.    About the 7.5 mile  point a man that looked like he could be in my age group passed me so I tried to hang on just behind him. Right at the 2 mile point we both passed another grey hair but he was slowing.

 We started down the steep half mile downhill to the bottom and I was trying to maintain contact but not beat my quads up too bad. 19 previous times have taught me to save a little for that last long climb. We hit the bottom just a few strides apart. Now it would be who had the strength for the climb. Well, it wasn't me. I  just didn't have too much left and could only watch as he gradually pulled away. NowIi just had to settle in and try to finish as strong as possible. The sub 8 dream was truly just a fantasy today.

 To give you an idea about the last 1.5 miles, imagine running powerline in Umstead 3 times !  Slowly I trudged on but had to take about a 30 second walk break to get my heart rate under control and  find a pace I could hold the remainder of the climb. Despite that mile 9 was still a 9:16.

 It was such a beautiful sight when I came over the final bit of the hill and the slight curve and the finish line came into view. Just a couple of hundred yards of pain to go. I passed a 20 something man bent over throwing up  and I thought that I could have advised him not to drink the gatorade when you have a tough 1.5 mile clmb ahead of you !

 It seemed to take forever but I finally finished in 83:07. Slightly disappointd for a few seconds but that quickly turned into a big smile ! That time was faster than any of the races in my  4 year streak from 1999 through 2002 ! The miracle year of beating my younger self continues !

 After getting some food and drink I found a printout of my results and was amazed and delighted to be 2nd in my age group out of 37 ! But I'm afraid the next day after making time corrections  I was moved back to 4th so I just did miss making that podium !

 This is a wonderful race that will always be very special to me and I would recommned to anyone looking for a great experience on a challenging course.  I'm sure i will be back but not going to make a comittment as to when right now.