Thursday, July 12, 2018

Looking ahead to the 2nd half of 2018

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

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

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

 Here's the long and eagerly awaited plan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 08, 2018

training update and 5k track racing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 It
on lap two I think with George right there

in the first mile with George Howe on my heels

representing Raleigh Yoga Company !

woohoo, airborne

yes I was being lapped here

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

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Cotton Row Run 10K 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Championship that almost wasn't.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



 

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

training update 4-25-18 and 5k preview


   Its been awhile so lets talk training. Not enough is how I'm thinking about it. Yes, I have had some success with the racing so far this year but it could be better. I've got some good speed going for me and I've pretty much nailed all the speed workouts I've planned but where I feel I am lacking is the mileage. I have not been over 30 miles for a week since early last December ! The only way I'm going to improve anymore and perform as I want and expect to do is to start putting in more miles !
I had 29 miles last week, the best so far this year and my plan is to slowly begin to bump it up until I get back into the mid 40's to low 50's on occasion and then see how that feels and go from there.

 The yoga continues to go very well with at least 10 classes per week of bikram and yin combined and I love that I can feel improvements in my practice along with the health benefits of having more stability and flexibility. The cross training has kind of dropped off although I still do some core and body weight stuff as time and energy allows. Moving forward I may have to cut back a little on the yoga to focus more on the running but hopefully I can make some slight adjustments in other parts of my life to keep the balance going.

 A few of you may remember I signed up for the Glass City Marathon  which was held this past weekend. Obviously I was not there. At the time I entered I had big hopes of building from the December race but instead I slacked off and it soon became clear that I was not going to get anywhere near prepared for a Boston  qualifying attempt and that was my only reason for entering to begin with. So I decided to focus instead on getting into the best 10k racing shape possible for the Cotton Row Run on Memorial Day. More on that soon.

 So in the meantime after a disappointing 10k in Goldsboro and a couple of weeks just not feeling very zippy, I think I'm ready for a few more strong weeks of training ahead. For some fun and a good speed workout I have entered a 5k in Morehead City this Saturday. Should be fun and I get to visit my friend Stephanie and baby Bowie. I would really like to run under 22 minutes for a 5k again, something I haven't done in about 4 years now. I'm doubtful it will happen this weekend but I think I can manage it before the summer is over. But after this weekend its nothing but training for the next 4 weeks.
 That's all for now. Lots more to talk about but it can wait for another post on another day. Stay tuned to see what happens.

 And since blog post are more appealing with a picture, here is one with nothing to do with this post.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Greater Goldsboro Road Race

  Right now all of my training and racing is focused on being the best prepared that I can be for the Cotton Row Run 10k on Memorial Day so I was looking for  another 10k in April to use as a test as well as some specific distance prep. There are numerous racing options every weekend in the area this time of year but this one in my former hometown seemed like the best to suit my needs.

 The race has been around since 1979 and I was a participant that year as well as several other times over the years. The course has changed a few times but the current course happens to be the one that I won the overall title in a different race back in 1987! In the past this was a well attended event but over the years things have change and there is so much more competition from other races. Most that did come chose the 5k option and there were only 40 finishers in the 10k. It's a bit sad because they put on a quality event with a certified course, chip timing and more giveaways from local sponsors than most much larger events. And the post race food was awesome !

 The one thing that I wasn't too happy about was the late 9am start. It was a warm morning in the 60's and the sun was high already and due to the east -west orientation of the double loop course we had no shade and direct sunshine for 90% of the run.  But we take what is given and go for it. After all, everyone had to compete in the same conditions.

 And speaking of competition, this is how the race went. I didn't know anyone near my age but did notice a couple of fit looking grey hairs in the small field as we lined up. My goal was to run as close to 7:30 pace as possible and see what happens. Based on my 4 mile race a few weeks ago I was fairly confident but that morning was 30 degrees cooler ! I didn't feel too spiffy in the warm up and had been a bit flat feeling the last couple of runs but you never can tell until the race starts.

 As we begin I noticed one  tall slim guy that seemed fit and older than me slowly pulling away. I tried to hang on to his heels and after about half mile in  I eased by and hoped that was the last I would see of him. I felt pretty good and hit mile one in 7:23, nearly perfect. But then here he comes up on my shoulder and passes me. We stayed within 2 steps of each other over the next mile which was a disappointing 7:45. We were into a bit of a headwind then but it didn't seem too bad. I just kept pushing and hoping I could pick it up.

 Mile 3 was the same with the two of us in near lock step. He pulled away slightly on a downhill but I pulled nearly even going back up. Mile 3 was another 7:45. Oh well , no fast time today, just focus on the racing. We headed out on the 2nd of the two loops still neck and neck. As we approached the 3rd hill I stayed closer on the down and then felt a weakness and decided to make a move going up. This is where I got a little chuckle. As we were starting up he could hear me coming and decided to offer me some advice. He said, pump your arms going up, it will help you run faster. I almost laughed out loud but just thought to myself, Dude, I have raced about 500 times over 41 years. I think I know what I'm doing here.

  I made the pass and just kept thinking. Break him. I hope I broke him ! After a few minutes his breathing seemed to be fading ! But mile 4 was a bit slower still in 7:51. 2.2 mile to go, just hang on and keep pushing. But then at mile 4.5 here he comes by me with a "nice pace" complement ! I tried to hang on to his heels once again but I was hurting and soon after he began to pull slowly away. By mile 5 he was half a block ahead and I was dying with a slow 8:12. I so much wanted to just back off. No fast time and I wasn't going to win this race but as quickly as those thoughts came I swept them away and dug deep. For a few moments I slowly closed a bit of the gap and was hanging on to the hope he was hurting as bad as me and may crumble but when we hit that final hill it was over as he powered off into the distance. I struggled and hit the turn at mile 6 with a joggy jog paced 8:26 and he was a block ahead. I tried to look as good as possible in the homestretch to make myself look worthy of  the Raleigh Yoga Company Singlet I was wearing.  Finished in 48:59.



  I walked over to congratulate the guy.  He was very friendly and we enjoyed several minutes of conversation before he finally asked me what age group I was in. When I said I was 62 then he replied, oh well you probably easily won your age group. He said he was 55 ! Wow, I was still thinking he was older than me ! Here I was racing my guts out against a guy 7 years younger. Cool !

 And yes I did easily win. Only one other over 60 and he was  20 minutes back !
 Enjoyed waiting around for the awards with my cousin Jennifer who took the picture for me. none from the actual running. It wasn't until later and looking at the official results that I realized my time was exactly what I ran in my first race back in March of 1978 ! That was The Natural Run 10k in Winston-Salem.

 If you can and like 5 and 10k's come give this one a shot. I really enjoyed walking around the downtown area and trying to remember the many stores and theatres I went in as a child and shopping with my mother and brother and Aunt and cousins and grandparents.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

St Paddys 4 Miler

   Finally getting around to getting a short report for this short race. I really didn't have this one on the schedule but back in February I won a free entry for it at the NCRC Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. I had a free spot  on the calendar and it sort of fit in to my plans to build up for the 10k Finale to the Running Journal  Grand Series on Memorial Day. I would use it as a combination fun run, workout and test of my fitness while hoping to bring home another age group win.

 This was the 10th year for the event which is normally a 5 miler but construction along the route caused a shortened version of the course this year. It is located in the Glenwood area and runs mainly through the residential old Raleigh neighborhoods. And it is hilly ! Very Hilly !

 I was lucky to arrive early and grabbed a parking spot  1/2 a block from the starting line. It was a cold morning but looked like it was going to be perfect for racing. I picked up my race number and then sat in the car until I was ready to do my warmup. I ran around on the city sidewalks very carefully and slowly for my warm up mile and was feeling ok. Then as usual I did a series of short strides to gear the body up for race pace.

 This is a good size race with over 1,300 runners and I waited a bit late to line up and didn't get as close as I would have liked. Although its chip timing I didn't want to get behind a lot of slower runners and lose time weaving through the crowd.. I looked around but didn't recognize any age group competition and then we were off.

 I did have to do a little maneuvering around but not too bad and after a block we started up the first hill.  My friend Rigo caught up to me and I thought he was going to hang around but after a minute he moved on ahead while I just focused on going as fast as possible without getting too far into oxygen debt. My goal pace for the race was 7:30 but I really wasn't sure that would be happening on this course so when I hit mile 1 in 7:28 I was feeling a bit more confident.

 And then there was mile 2. The toughest on the course. Other than a short downhill it climbed. And climbed. I was not thrilled and I had a few choice words as I begin to wonder if I would ever reach the 2nd mile. Finally it appeared just before the summit of the highest point of the race. I had slowed to a 7:54 and like that my cushion was gone. But I recovered quickly and mile 3 had some really sweet downhill so I gradually began to push the effort a bit feeling great.

 I still hadn't noticed anyone that looked my age anywhere around me. As we ran around Cameron Park I could see a lot of runners that were ahead and then as I went down the other side I could see a lot more behind me and still no one that seemed to be old ! If anyone got a jump on me at the start they were well out of sight ! I was able to make up a little time and hit mile 3 in 7:26. One more hill and then the last 1/2 mile would be downhill. Just maybe I could hit that 7:30 average pace after all !
 I pushed up the hill as much as possible and then at the top I just put the hammer down and the zip was there ! A 6:53 mile 4 and boom,  29:37 beating my goal by 23 seconds !



  I made my way over to the car to get my phone and check the online results which weren't working so I began walking over to the  post race activities. Grabbed some water and eaded over to the results tent and there it was. Boom ! 1st age group out of 18. So, I was able to achieve all my goals for the day. Beat my average pace goal, had some fun , won my age group and got in a great workout.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Germantown Half Marathon or Taking Care of Business

 I was looking forward to getting a chance to run this race based on the reputation and reading about it in Running Journal as part of the series. Germantown ins a suburb of Memphis TN and I had only passed through the area as a 12 year old so it would be a new experience and area to check out. I had three goals for the race. Run near 1:45, make the podium and gain enough points to put the series title out of reach.
 Leading up to race morning the weather forecast was not looking too good with rain and in the 40's with wind advisories. We got really lucky as the rain had stopped by the time I woke up, it was 54F and calm. The only thing keeping it from being perfect was light fog and 100% humidity. I arrived an hour before the gun and had no problem finding parking 50ft from the finish line !
  I felt pretty good doing my normal warmup routine and headed on over to the start which we shared with the 5k runners. This was one of the larger races in the series and had about 1,000 runners in the half, nearly the same as the Magic City race.
  The start was a fast one, flat with just an almost imperceptible downgrade so I had to be careful and not get carried away. And then the shoe came untied. Seriously? I have worn these shoes in a dozen races before and never had that happened. I wanted to wait until after the 1 mile split so I would get a feel for the pace before fixing the issue and before I got there the other one came undone ! By now I was in a group with 3 other guys that looked like possible competition and I was hoping to maintain contact. I hit mile 1 in 7:45, my fantasy goal pace and then stopped to tie the shoes as the trio moved on ahead.
  I got back up to speed as quickly as possible trying not to expend too much energy chasing the group. It was a long ways to go yet. I had lost about 30 seconds and hit mile 2 in 8:24 and then one of the shoes came undone again  just before I finally was closing the gap! I stopped again taking the time to try and make sure I had it fixed before heading off in pursuit once again. I was able to reel in one of the guys on a downhill but the other two had opened a big gap. Mile 3 was an 8:15. By now I was soaking wet from the humid conditions but at least my breathing didn't seem to be affected and I was feeling good. And then just before mile 4 the other shoe came untied again !!!! Grrrrrr ! I got it fixed but lost more time and passed mile 4 in 8:07.

 So frustrating ! Wouldn't it be something if I missed making the podium due to losing over a minute of time because of stupid shoe laces !?!? Well nothing I could do about it but just settle in and run my race and see what happened. At least I could still  see the other two up ahead. Just keep my eyes on them and run. Mile 5 was 7:50 with no more stops and I still felt very good. Other than a few gentle inclines the course was a fast one and I knew from talking to a local the next several would be very flat so my confidence was boosted a bit and I settled in for the final 8.

 The next several miles were pretty uneventful. I was  consistently pacing right at 8mp but the gap between me and the others remained about the same. At mile seven I checked and the gap was about 35 seconds. At least I was still feeling ok and the shoes were staying tied. Maybe I could hang on and get close to the 1:45 and a 4th pace finish would give me enough points. And then about mile 9 the wheels slowly started coming off. A combination of the hard 10k last weekend, the humidity and trying to catch the group was catching up to me. The stride got shorter, the breathing got harder and the energy level was dropping fast. I tried to maintain pace but it wasn't happening as I kept getting slower.

 I lost sight of the other guys and now I just had to keep pushing as hard as I cold for the last couple of miles and hope no one else caught up to me and there was always the possibility that the ones I had been chasing were not actually in my age group. Cling to what ever hope you can !

 Mile 10 was 8:23, mile 11 8:35 and mile 12 was 8:55 as I helplessly watched as grey haired guy pass. I tried to hang on but to no avail. Let's just get this over !

 Finally made the final turn and the cruelty of the steepest hill leading up to the 13 mile mark. Ugggg ! Just don't walk but I felt so slow ! 9:08  and then the slight downhill to the end. I at least tried to look good finishing ! I walked slowly to the results tent and saw  that I did at least hang on for 4th. That would give me 55 points plus the bonus 25 points for the distance and an  insurmountable lead of 170 points in the series. Despite being disappointed in the way the race ended and my time of 1:48:29 being my slowest in years I was elated to put the series championship away. No more pressure !



 I walked to my car and stood there as the sweat and water dripped off like I'd been swimming. Texted the number one fan and relaxed. One of three goals met but it was the most important one !

 Once again I can highly recommend this race as well as all the others in this series. Everyone has been a first class event.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Birmingham Wine 10k or back in the lead again.


  This was going to be a quick trip and I was glad to get safely off the ground with the strong winds Friday morning. After the rough take off the remainder of the trip was smooth sailing and I made it to Birmingham in plenty of time to head to the Trak Shak for packet pickup and then check out as much of the course as possible, It was a beautiful Spring like day so I went for a nice slow 3 miler on the greenway which would be the last 2.5 miles of the race.

  The race was on a point to point route so I parked at the finish area Saturday morning and hopped on the luxury bus for the short shuttle over to the starting park. Just like the Half I ran in Birmingham last November everything about this event was first class. It was  a perfect morning, about 50F and sunny with just a 5mph wind as I began my normal warm up routine. As I was jogging along a local eased by my with a nice comment about the weather. I think that like me he was hoping to size up the competition. He looked familiar but it wasn't until I saw the results afterwards that I figured out why. I had met him at an ultra back in 2003! He was only 55 by the way so not in my age group and he did win his.


ok, back  to the race. I lined up and noticed a couple of faces I remembered from the half that I knew I wouldn't have to worry about but a few unknowns including one white haired guy with a short white beard that looked fit and experienced. Wasn't sure if he was my age  but other than him I was confident I would return to the podium in my 2nd race here.


 Boom !! They used that loud little cannon again for the start and the first 30 yards were through a cloud of smoke. Once the smoke cleared I could see white beard slowly pulling away and I doubted he was going to run a stupid race and go out too quickly for his fitness so I just hoped I had guessed right about him not being 60. I felt good going up the first small hill and decided I was going to have a good day.



  I hadn't seen any of the first 2.5 miles of the course but I knew from the description that it was a bit hilly and it was. My goal was to average 7:30 pace and that's what I was hoping/expecting for mile 1 which did have some uphill but seemed a little more down. I hit that 1st mile in 7:18 which gave me a confidence boost but then mile two made up for things with a lot more uphill. I was a little disappointed that I slowed to a 7:48 2nd mile and just like that my cushion was gone.

  Mile 3 was the toughest on the course with a fairly steep qtr mile hill and other than a few short downs it had a slight uphill grade the remainder. That one was a 7:52 so halfway and I'm feeling good with the tough part of the course behind me. Not bad !

 There were over 600 runners in the race but nothing really going on around me. I didn't see anyone around that seemed a threat and white beard was out of sight by now so I just focused on running as close to the redline as I dared. Mile 4 would be the fastest on the course with the first qtr mile a really nice downhill I could stretch out on and try to make up some time and then a slight downgrade and flat to Shades Creek and the greenway which we turned onto just before the 4 mile mark . I must say I was little shocked to hit it ion 6:43 Wow, I was pushing that downhill ! Two miles to go, I feel good and I'm going to  achieve my goal pace and beat my time from City of Oaks !

 But wait, it sure seems like mostly flat but slightly up stream on the greenway mile 5 is taking a long time. Wait a minute 7:30 and I still don't see a marker. I must have missed it or they didn't have one? Wait, there it is up ahead. Crap, an 8:29 mile 5 !? No way. Obviously they had mistakenly put mile 4 in the wrong spot. I was suspicious because the greenway is marked every qtr mile and I knew how far it was to the finish. I should have known that 6:45 was too good to be true. This was the only fault I had with the event but people make mistakes. At least I knew it was a certified course so it would all come out right in the end despite the head game it caused. Based on the terrain and my effort I would say 4 should have been about 7:20 and 5 about 7:50ish.

 The last mile continued on the mostly flat greenway but with 3/4 to go there was a short steep hill and over a bridge that I had run over the day before. It was hard by this point and then another short steep hill up to the 6 mile mark. I was hoping for faster but 7:55 was all I had and it was realistic based on the terrain and the way I felt. Strong but no sprint to the end.  No dry heaves today, The 7:30 pace wasn't going to happen today but 7:38 ain't too shabby.



 Grabbed my medal and a bottle of water and waled over to the results tent. Boom 1st place Senior Grandmaster. The second pace guy in the series was not here but ran in Myrtle Beach so I  regained the lead by 90 points which pretty much puts it out of reach unless I totally blow up the next two races and I don't expect that will happen.



 The two men that finished 2nd and 3rd both remembered me and came over to talk about my traveling. I imagine when I'm not around that they usually battle over the age group. They were only 5 seconds apart this time and reversed there finish from the half last November. Nice guys.  I imagine this will be my last trip to Birmingham although I have enjoyed the two races there quite a bit. But its a long way and way too many other things to do over the next few years.





 Here is a link to the race website and results are available there

Friday, March 02, 2018

Birmingham Wine 10k preview. Or going to regain my lead !

 Well, I hadn't originally planned on running this race. I had taken advantage of early bird pricing for the Myrtle Beach  Half which had been a part of the Running Journal series for the poast 10 years but when the schedule was released last June, MB was no longer in the series and this race had taken it's spot on the calendar. I still wasn't going to run here thinking I would not need the points but that was before the debacle at the Rocket City Marathon. Going into that race I had a solid lead but I went to it woefully unprepared for the marathon  distance and was totally skunked , no points. Meanwhile the winner got the double bonus points and I now find myself 10 points out of first place. If I had only finished 8th I would still be in the lead. Grrrr.
  So it was a necessary but not an easy decision to skip MB and head back to Alabama once again to try and make up the  points deficit. I'm feeling good  and the training has been going well so I am feeling confident in making the podium once again. The weather is looking great for the 8am Saturday morning start. 45F and fairly calm and it should be a fairly fast course.

Here is the race website

 Wish me luck and stay tuned for the exciting report to come. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

"Aerobics" Running and a little history.

 Most of my active friends and a large portion of the others are probably familiar with the term aerobics but I wonder how many know where it came from?

 The term was coined in 1966 by Dr. Kenneth Cooper, an Air Force Colonel and MD that worked with the military and NASA to study and develop training programs.  In 1968 he wrote his first book, titled Aerobics which was featured in Readers Digest Magazine which was a big deal in that era. One of the keys in the book was a point system assigned to various aerobic activities such as running and walking as well as swimming, basketball and tennis among others. You can read more here or do your own google search.

  My brother and I read that article and he bought the book or had the parents buy it. Not really sure. I was 12 and he was 16. We had always been very competitive with each other including reading contest so of course that summer it was on to see which of us could make the most points. We measured a 7 laps to the mile track around the yard making sure it was exact by crawling around that loop on our knees with a yardstick ! So this was actually the first  beginning of my life as a runner.

 Of course it didn't last long. It was hot and after maybe 3 or 4 weeks before we moved on to other things and school began. It would be another decade before I decided to try running again to help stop smoking. That was in Summer of 1976 and that also lasted about 3 weeks. Finally in 1977 I tried again and this time I had my brother find the book for me to read again. As you can expect there was very little literature about running to be found. No internet of course and Jim Fixx was still a couple of years away from writing his famous book. I knew absolutely no one else that ran and it would be months before I discovered Runners World and the North Carolina Track Club.

 If you look at the first few months of my training log you would see not only my mileage but also my points earned !

 Many attribute the first running boom to Frank Shorter winning the marathon in the 1972 Olympics and it certainly had a big effect but the base was already started thanks to that article in Readers Digest that had a lot of people out "jogging"and were ready for that new challenge.

 One of my favorite Cooper quotes is "“Fitness is a journey, not a destination. It must be continued for the rest of your life.”

 Go out and earn some points ! 

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Winter Flight 8k

 I was feeling excited about returning to this race after 19 years ! Of course the excitement was tempered a bit knowing I wasn't quite 100% ready  but at least I'm healthy. Cold rain was also kind of putting a damper on my enthusiasm as I drove the 2.5 hours to Salisbury. But yeah, I was excited !

 Lets' back up just a little and give you a little history. This race is held on the campus of Catawba College in Salisbury NC. I actually ran a 10k that started here in my first year of racing in 1978 that shared part of the same course. That race was in June , a week after the first Great Raleigh Road Race so as you can imagine I learned a lesson about racing back to back weekends in heat. That one was a bit disappointing.

 My next race here was at the Winter Flight in 1986. It was a 10 miler then and I ran quite well in the cold with what would be my 3rd fastest 10 miler. I returned again in 1987 and it was then an 8k and has been every year since. I did do some training runs on the course a couple of times in the 90's when I was commuting to Charlotte a lot and so I was very familiar with the course and I remembered it in a lot more detail than I expected I would  in this years race.

 Ok, back to the present. It was pouring rain when I arrived but fortunately the race has access to the college gymnasium, a warm and dry place with  bathrooms. I was having a hard time getting pumped up about going outside and beginning my warm up routine but I knew I had to if I was going to race well and after all that''s why I was here ! So out I went 30 minutes before the gun to do a warm up mile on the track in the stadium where the finish line is located. I was happy that the rain had slacked off to just a steady light rain and at 50F wasn't too bad.

  A few strides and it was time to start. I spotted my main competition ahead and as I expected at the beginning he took off at a pace I had no intention of trying to match. I was just hoping perhaps to be racing for 2nd or 3rd today. The course began with  an uphill, gradual then getting steep but not too long before dropping down to the other side and then flattening out a bit on the main road as we exited the campus, I took it easy going up, pushed slightly going down and then tried to settle in to what I hoped would be my average pace. (goal was 7:30). Nailed the first one 7:25.

 I was actually hoping it would have been a bit faster because I knew this was one of the easiest miles on the course. We were already climbing and up ahead it was getting steeper hitting 5 to 7% at the 1.5 mile point before turning into a residential area for a short time. It was flat through here and for the first time I noticed a man going by me that looked like competition so I was hoping to keep him close. As we ran downhill to the 2 mile mark I passed him back. This would remain the pattern for the rest of the race. He was stronger on the climbs and I would pass him back on the flats and downhills. I was hoping I had maintained pace but that first half of mile 2 had slowed me more than I wanted for a 7:48 2nd mile. At least I was feeling good.

  Going down to the 2 mile point I had passed a tiny young girl that I would later learn was 11 years old and in her longest race ever. Soon after the climb in mile 3 began she passed me back so now the three of us were going to play leap frog to the end. It added a little fun to the race having these two racing with me but I had to just go hard. no matter what. Mile 3 is mostly uphill and the high point of the course is just beyond the 3 mile mark which I passed in 8:04. Sigh. I really didn't want to see an 8 but at least I was still feeling good and doing my best. It just wasn't going to be at my goal pace today.

 Of course they both passed me going up but mile 4 was going to be mostly flat and then a gradual downhill so I just set my sights on staying focused and hope to slowly reel them in. I passed the girl at about 3.5 but at mile 4 I still had a gap to make up on the old guy. Mile 4 was a 7:27 so at least I didn't lose any more off the goal pace.

 Soon after mile 4 the course drops down to cross a bridge over a creek and I made the push to pass the guy but now I had a steep nearly qtr mile climb to try and hold him off. I dug in and was giving it all I could and making the death noises but about 2/3rds of the way up he went by and there was nothing left to give. Just before the top there is a right turn back onto campus and the hill gets almost ridiculous steep for about 20yards and I almost walked I was so spent from trying to hold him off but I didn't give in to those thoughts.

 I recovered a bit rather quickly and for a few moments I thought I may be able to reel him in again. About that time the girl. , OK, her name is Emberleigh went flying by me. It was about 1/4 mile until we entered the stadium and I closed the gap just a bit but once we got onto the track I couldn't get any closer. Emberleigh  passed him with 150 yards to go !

 My last mile was 7:30, not bad considering that steep hill for a final time of 38:25. I walked over to the guy to congratulate him and he was happy like me to have a good race. Turns out he was just 56 so not in my division.  but turns out I was still 3rd. 2nd place ran  about the time I had hoped for  but 1st ran under 35 minutes ! Dude is for real !

 I can highly recommend this race if you like a well produced event with a small town old school feel to it. Speaking of old school, they don't use chip timing. Nope , there was a person with a stop watch calling out splits at each mile mark, a clock at the finish and as you crossed the line you were handed a 3x5 index card with your overall finishing place. How cool is that. And yet they still had the awards ceremony on time. Great job Salisbury Rowan Runners !

 So, going in I knew that my training had been lacking for most of the 6 weeks prior but I'm on an upswing. Barring any unseen problems I know I can get back to late Autumn racing shape in a few weeks and under the conditions this was not a bad race at all for me. It is disappointing  that my lead in the Running Journal Grand Prix is now gone but I only trail 1st by 10 points with 3 more races to go. I was only going to go

to 2 of those but after de-briefing with the #1 fan it was an easy decision to enter the 3rd one in Alabama on March 3rd. So stay tuned for the training leading up to that one.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Back to business, Winter Flight 8k and training

 It's time to get back to racing and serious training again with the next race in the Running Journal Grand Prix coming up tomorrow 1-28-18 in Salisbury NC, This is the only event in NC and has been on the circuit for awhile.

 I do have a little bit of a history with this race. It was formerly a 10 miler and I ran it in 1986 in a time of 68:48. I wish I could miraculously run that same pace for half the distance this year! In 1987 in was changed to the current 8k distance and I ran a 32:51 that year. I wouldn't return until 1999 when I ran it as my first race back after tearing up my knee the previous October playing soccer. My time of 41:47 although much slower was not a bad effort under the circumstances. I hope to be somewhere in the middle of that time range with a goal of 37:30. It's a rolling course so I'll have to have a great race to do that.

 Not to sound negative but I expect I may lose my small lead in the series because I know there are going to be several fast seniors competing. I just hope to collect as many points as possible and keep grinding away in the remaining events.

 As I noted in my last training update , things didn't go all that great after the marathon and my mileage has been down but for the last couple of weeks I;ve been running some strong workouts and I'm hoping that with fresh legs I'll race well and after the race I plan to get serious again with the training. It's time to get my weekly mileage back up to about normal and prepare for the next big events to close out the series and also get that Boston Qualifier.

 Stay tuned for results and a report.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Acceptance

  I was just past the first half mile of my morning run along the country roads that make up my home course. Open fields all around as I climbed the steady grade in the light of dawn and then directly ahead the lifegiving golden orb broke on the horizon. Unintentional but it seems my timing was perfect to be in that spot at precisely that moment. To be honest I had really wanted to run later with the forecast for Spring like weather but my schedule allowed that this morning start at 34F was my only choice. I am glad it turned out to be so.
  As I ran on I began to think of the meaning of the dawn of a new day. As each new day comes yesterday is now but a memory. Good or bad it is done and nothing anyone can ever change that. This momen  is truly all that matters. For me in this moment it was just the next breath, the next step. I had no real plan going into the run other than to cover 10 miles if things went well.  And so I ran on with no expectations.
  Life is like that. We can't change the past nor can we predict the future but we can embrace the moment. And I accepted that and was happy in just the movement, nearly hypnotized by the rhythm of my footsteps, each inhale, each exhale.
  In the end it was a good run, a satisfying run. About as fast as I normally run without trying to push the pace. 10 miles in 1:29:13. Tomorrow is not guaranteed but if it comes for me I hope I can accept it for what it brings.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

training, yoga, snow and rambling update 1-18-18

 So how is the new year going so far?

 I'm snowed in at the moment,with about 6 inches  on the ground and with the temperature at 14F  its solid ice right now but I hoped to get out for a few miles with the screwed shoes later.

 The running hasn't been hitting on much so far this year. Right now as of the 18th I've only put 28 miles in the log. Partly due to being a wimp about the below normal temperatures this year and partly due to  extra work and a big part due to just lacking motivation which I think is related to just being worn down after Rocket City last month. I'm taking a positive attitude toward this and looking at it as nice recovery period. I know from the 40 years of experience that when the time comes for a big push the body will respond. The great thing about this is I haven't missed a chunk of time due to injury and I haven't shut it completely down. In the past couple of weeks although the mileage is down I have had some good quality workouts.

 I also had my 2nd yogaversary on the 8th. Yep, two years ago when Laura finally got me into yoga and as most of you know its a huge part of my life now with Bikram Hot yoga at least 4 days a week , sometimes 5 or 6 and for over a year now I've been doing the yin yoga 5 or 6 days a week. I've recently added one or two vinyasa classes in the mix but missed all of last week with that.  Its amazing and sometimes exciting to see and feel the changes in my body, doing things I never thought possible. And I'm  excited to know there is so much more to come but more importantly how it improves my quality of life outside the studio.

 I had fallen off with the body weight fitness stuff for about 3 months when I had a shoulder strain but had worked myself back up to near normal levels again until last week when I hyper-extended my right elbow. I can still do my yoga and most other things but pullups and dips put too much pressure on it right now. Hopefully that will be resolved soon. Gotta keep those muscles !

 So that's about it. I'm ready to start ramping up the mileage now to prepare for a great Spring of racing. Just one race coming up on the 28th this month. More on that later.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Clarity

 And just like that the fog has lifted and I can see clearly what my goals are for the next 16 months.


Of course this came to me in the middle of my 9 mile run on Saturday. The plans I had considered for the remainder of the Winter and Spring just weren't making much sense and beyond July I was clueless but now I know exactly what I want and I can go about planning the training and other events that will help in achieving these goals. I began to do a little research Saturday night and again Sunday and this morning I was ready to discuss it all with the #1 fan and inspirational advisor. She thinks its a great plan !

 Goal #1 really hasn't changed and that is to try my best to win the Senior Grandmaster division in the 40th Running Journal Grand Prix which started in August and continues until Memorial Day .  What has changed is some plans I had in between which would have left me without the time and energy to focus on each race in the series which would mean I couldn't be in top form and I really have to be to compete against some really strong runners I expect to face. So the marathon which I didn't mention to anyone but the #1 fan is off the table for Feb. now. I just don't have time to properly prepare and it would have taken away from my prep for March's big half marathon in Memphis. I also made a firm decision not to try and race Myrtle Beach the week before the Memphis race so I can be at 100%. It would be silly to waste the time , effort and money just to wear myself down before the big race which I have a shot at winning and gives 25 bonus points !

  The next Big change is no Ultras in April. Nope Ultraman is not coming back for awhile . Still some wiggle room in the Fall plans so maybe a 50k if I can find one that meets the criteria and can be a boost for the ultimate goal but we're getting a little ahead  here.

 So no ultras in April but I am planning on a marathon. Right now I'm 99% sure it will be the Toledo Marathon on 4-22. That will give me plenty of time to sensibly build up my mileage and some recovery time after Memphis and then about 6 weeks to prepare for the last race in the GP , the Cotton Row Run 10k on May 28th. And of course the reason for the marathon is to get a Boston Qualifier ! I looked at several races in a couple of weeks span  from the end of March and end of April and Toledo seems the perfect fit. A relatively flat and fast course, good weather probability and at 1,500 runners about the perfect size field.  Great reviews for the event and the timing is about perfect to squeeze it in with my other plans.

 Which brings us to the ultimate goal in case you haven't figured it out.  Be in the best shape possible for a strong race at Boston in 2019 ! I'll detail that story much more in the future but for now lets just go with I really should have a sub 4 at Boston and I would really like to get in the 3:40 to 3:45 neighborhood. At least. After the end of May and the Grand
Prix I'll have over 10 months to focus my training and racing on being in the best possible marathon shape I can be. Now I'm excited !!!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Looking ahead to 2018. Clouds and shadows.

Normally as I approach the beginning of a new year I have a good idea of what I would like to accomplish. And most of the time I have some major goal to work towards maybe even beyond the one year time frame but this year is different. Right now of course my main goal through May is to finish out the Running Journal Grand Prix Series. The only other goal is to race at Grandfather Mountain and hopefully run a course pr and place in my age group. I was signed up the past July but the injury kept me away so I have unfinished business there,

 Beyond that I am truly clueless as to what I want to focus on. A part of me wants to go back to running some long ultras again and do some 100 milers that I never got around to. Another part of me want to focus on the marathon and see how close I can come to pr shape and get a chance to run sub 4 at Boston. I'll just have to wait and see how the long training runs go over the next few months and maybe then something will stand out as the goal I want the most. OR, I could keep running short races and see how much speed I can get out of these legs in the 5k and Half marathon. What ever I decide I'll let you guys know when I reach the mid year review in June or July.

 In the meantime here is what I do have planned and considering for the first 7 months of 2018.

 Jan:

 Just one race, the Winter Flight 8k in Salisbury on the 28th. It is the only NC race in the Running Journal Grand Prix. It always has some very fast Seniors but I hope to get some points and maintain my narrow lead.


 Feb:

 Not sure of anything right now but training for March.

 Mar:

 I am already signed up for Myrtle Beach Half marathon but I'm leaning towards skipping it. For many years it was part of the Grand Prix so I took advantage of early bird special. Well, Capstone Racing bought the event and chose not to be a part of the series. Grrrr. But there is another Half Marathon in Germantown TN, a suburb of Memphis so I'll probably skip MB so I can give 100% and try to win my age group in Tennessee and maybe lock up the series depending on what happens with a few other guys in between.

 April:

 Not committed just yet but I may bring Ultraman back for a test run or two. Last year I was signed up for the Kal Haven 33.5 miler in Michigan and had planned a trip back to Promise Land 50k++ (34 Miles) but had to miss both because of the stress fracture.  Leaning towards doing them and hope they give me an idea of whether or not I want to get back into more ultras later in the year.

May:

 Recover from April and be ready the last weekend to go back to Alabama for the Cotton Row Run 10k. Its the final race of the RJGP Series and if all goes to plan I'll get the championship at this prestigious event. I really don't expect to win the race but I hope to have enough of a lead going in to claim the series championship.

June:

 Nothing planned yet. Depends on what else may pique my interest. If nothing comes up I will probably go back and get my butt kicked by Pete Gibson at the Rocky Mount Mills 5k again. Fun race on a fast course.

 July:

 Grandfather Mountain Marathon. I really hope by then I can get back to enjoying long runs so I can have a reasonable shot at a sub 4 here. It will take a perfect race and lots of hill work to go with endurance to get into that kind of shape.

 That's all I have for you right now. Nothing but fog, clouds and shadows when I peer into the crystal ball for August and beyond.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

2017 in review

 2017 began with big hopes and expectations after finally getting the injuries that had been an issue for several years solved. Or I thought,. Well actually I have but a freak yard work stupid move of all things almost ruined my year as you will see.

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

 Feb:
 Cancelling the 50k allowed me to focus on what I was in great shape for and that was the Run For The Roses 5k.  The race went well despite the unseasonably hot 80F and the hilly course and I was able to get my 3rd RRCA State Championship for Senior Grandmasters. Then about 9 days later it all fell apart when I had to bail on a workout with what turned out to be a stress fracture of my right heel. Ironically it was not running that initiated the injury but continuing to run and hope the pain would go away did it and me in. So frustrating after going for a year with no injuries at all to have this freakish injury occur.

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

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

June:

 On the 3rd of June, just 2 weeks after I started back I decided to go ahead and run the Rocky Mount Mills 5k that I had entered well before the injury. I just wanted to be careful and not hurt myself and get an idea at just how much conditioning I had lost. It was much cooler and drier than last year and I ran a lot better than I could have expected in 25:04,almost exactly 2 minutes slower than 2016 but I was very happy to run that well.
  3 weeks later I went to Chapel Hill to run the Vegfest 5k for fun. The only reason I entered was because Laura and Susan's new yoga studio was sponsoring the awards and I thought it would be fun to race and spend some time hanging around at the booth at the festival. Wow ! I knew it would be hilly but it turned out to be the toughest 5k I have ever raced in my 40 years at this sport with nearly 300 ft of elevation gain ! And it was hot and 100% humid.
  I ran 26:12 which included an extra 10th of a mile thanks to the lead bike leading us front runners off course in the first 1/4 mile and then we had to weave our way through the entire field to get back up front. Grrrr. with the extra distance and hills and humidity I think my effort was definitely better than three weeks earlier. It wasn't a very competitive field and I finished 6th overall out of about 100 finishers. The best thing was Laura's daughter Isabella won the race overall for men and women and Sophia was running well in the top 4th of the pack but was led off course near the 2 mile mark. Julian was there to cheer for us and take pictures and its always the best to have Laura cheering me at the finish.

July:

 I knew I was in no shape to even attempt the Grandfather Mountain Marathon ,one of my big goals for the year but a week later I decided to go ahead and race The Scream Half Marathon. Even though I hadn't run that far this year at least it was mostly downhill. Turned out to be harder than I expected but I fe;t great for 12 miles and hung on for a decent time of 1:46 and placed 2nd in my age group.

Aug:

 After the Scream I focused on recovery and training for the beginning of what would be the main focus for the next 9 months, competing in the 40th Running Journal Grad Prix Series. The first event was the last weekend of August, the Midnight Flight 10k in Anderson SC with a 10pm start. Although I wasn;t 100% back from the injury I was finally starting to be confident in my racing again. Despite a fall in the dark which luckily I escaped with no damage other than a very small scratch on my knee, I was able to run a decent 48:53 on the rolling hills. I took first in my age group but only because the two guys in front of me which ran much faster placed in the Grandmasters division !

 Sept.

 Originally I had nothing planned for Sept but I wanted to test my speed on a flat 5k and found just the right course and timing in my hometown of Goldsboro on the 9th. I was happy to feel strong and continue to improve with a 22:59 and 1st Senior Grandmaster placing.

 Oct.

 At the beginning of the year I had tentatively planned on a marathon in Detroit but that was before the Grand Prix schedule was released and the Hero Half Marathon in Fayetteville Arkansas was scheduled for the same day. No worries because I wasn't prepared for a full anyway   
 The half was a really great event and on a near perfect morning for racing I ran a strong 1:47:21 on a tough course and took 1st place in the senior grandmasters again moving me into first place in the GP.

 Nov.

 Decided to start off Nov with a 10, the Old Reliable Run in Raleigh. It wnet much better than I expected and I ran my fastest 10k in about 17 years ! 46:54 and once again a senior grandmasters win !
 2 weeks later it was off to Birmingham Alabama and my first race in that state.  With nearly 1,000 finishers it was the largest so far in the Grand Prix Series. IT was a cold but beautiful morning and I ran strong once again on a moderately hilly course. Finished in 1:44:47 and beat out 25 others for the Senior Grandmasters win and to top it off the Alabama RRCA State Championship ! Woohooo !

 Dec.

 And then it was time for the reality check. If you want to race a marathon you need to train for a marathon ! No way around it ! Well I didn't train for it and suffered ! Oh well, a good experience and hopefully the next time I decided to race 26.2 I will be prepared.

 So there it is.  In spite of missing 12.5 weeks with the stress fracture I was able to make another strong comeback and other than the marathon I had an outstanding Fall of racing. I'm still not racing as fast as I was this time last year but I think by Spring that will change. As long as no more freak stupid injuries pop up ! Stay tuned for a look ahead to 2018 !

Monday, December 11, 2017

Beat down in Alabama. Rocket City Marathon 2017.

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

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


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



 The End.

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Rocket City Marathon or Bust.

 Probably Bust.

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

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

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

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

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

 You can check out the race on the website here.

 Wish me luck, I'm going to need it.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Magic City Half Marathon Magic

 Sweet Home Alabama.


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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


 Stay Tuned for more exciting action to come.