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.