Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Coping With Covid 19

 It's been awhile since I've written. Having the marathon cancelled in the last days after posting  my weekly training took away my incentive to write anything. But I was asked to write an article for the NC Roadrunners newsletter so here is what I've been up to.

  Like many of you, I was preparing to race the Tobacco Road Marathon in mid March and had been detailing my training as I would be attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon for the 1st time since 2016 with blog post and posting to social media.  I had been watching as many events begin cancelling in the weeks leading up to the race but was hoping that the race may go on before the big shutdown. Well, that didn't happen and although I searched I couldn't find any other races as one by one like dominoes falling, all events around the country were cancelled. All dressed up and no place to go. Sigh.

 Fortunately, one thing I have learned after many years in attendance at the school of hard knocks is that worrying over things that I have no control over is a big waste of time and energy. Time to move on. But what would that mean? Move on to where? Anyone that knows anything about me can tell that I am driven by making big audacious goals, some very long term, some short term and then putting a plan into action to achieve those goals. That of course under the circumstances is just an exercise in frustration as there is no way to look into the uncertain future to find any thing to target.

 So, what to do in the meantime?  Virtual runs have zero appeal to me so that was never an option. What I did decide to do was just have fun and just do workouts as much as I wanted,when I wanted.  A friend had began biking and so I decided after 11 years since I last rode while competing in triathlons that I would dust off and lube theold bike and take it out for a spin. I had so much fun that I was soon shopping for a new bike and splitting half my training time riding myself back into decent shape. And through it all I've continued to do my core workouts and yoga at least every other day. No one knows when racing can resume and as I write this more events for July and August are cancelling but until I can once again compete I'll keep in top shape and be ready to go. I still have some big dreams so stay tuned sports fans.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

The Final week of training. Well actually tapering.

 What seemed so far away now seems too close. Race day is next Sunday the 15th so I'm either ready or I'm not. I'm going to be cautiously optimistic about this because overall the plan has gone quite well. I drew up a plan at the beginning of this and with only minor adjustments I've been able to stick with it. I'm not saying that I felt good on every run but all the key workouts were just about perfectly executed. The only thing I would do differently would be to have a couple of 20 -22 mile long runs but although I had them planned things just didn't work for me to make them happen. I just have to hope I have enough endurance and muscle memory in the aging bod to carry me through those lat 10 kilometers.
  This past week was mostly a recover and start the taper week but I did do my last hard 10x 800 yassos on Thursday. Here is what the week looked like.

Sun: rest
Mon: 3 slow and easy at home in 27:44
Tue: rest
Wed: 6 at marathon pace on the Neuse in 53:50
Thu: Track day 10 x 800 in 3:52-4:00 with the average about 3:54. Total of 8.5 miles with warm up, cool down and recoveries. 1:12:33.
Fri: rest
Sat: 8 miles on the turkey creek loop in Umstead in 1:14:59

 And whats up with the wind ! Everyday ! Windy!

 My upper arm/shoulder thingy is still painful but showing slight improvement so again I avoided and weights and calisthenics. I did manage two core workouts and two yin  yoga sessions. Hopefully I can improve on that after the race.

 Wish me luck !

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Only two weeks to go ! How are things going?

  Well, after last weeks struggle in the Raleigh Half I was beginning to wonder. I rested a couple of days and decided to just run easy the remainder of the week, skipping a planned track session and hope for a bounce back at the Ellerbe half. It seemed to pay off with a strong effort on the hills. That was a much needed confidence boost. I'm resting today and going forward I have one more hard workout planned and other than that just some easy miles and nothing longer than maybe 10 next weekend. I'll call this the taper. Here is what I did. 33.2 miles.

Sun: rest
Mon: rest
Tue: 6 easy but strong Umstead miles in 53:52
Wed: 5 easy Neuse River miles on a warm humid day in 46:02
Thu: 5 miles easy at Salem Creek in 45:24
Fri: rest
Sat: 1 mile warmup, Ellerbe Half in 1:54:41, 3 mile cooldown.

Still doing some cross training. 2 yoga sessions and 3 core workouts. Only one dumbbell workout. My upper right arm is hurting too much right now so I'm just going to have to let it heal. IT even bothers me running which is not a good thing. It's so frustrating because the strength was really coming along nicely.

 Thanks for reading and stay tuned.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Three weeks until the Qualifier. Only time will tell.

I got some mixed signals from the past weeks training but overall it was positive. 42.2 miles for the week is pretty good and that included two half marathon distances. The real problem is the lack of the really long training runs which I was afraid of would happen. As race day approaches I'll just have to hope that the overall quality of my running over this past 2.5 months will be enough to overcome that. Here's what happened.

Sun: 13.1 miles in 1:56:55 on the Crabtree Greenway. A great day and confidence boost.
Mon: 5 miles easy  in 44:15 on Crabtree and felt good.
Tue: 5 more easy at Umstead in 45:59. Felt ok but skipped the big hills.
Wed: 6 miles on Smith Creek/Dunn Creek greenways in WF in 53:39. This was a little speed and strength workout I will sometimes do on race weeks. I call it the 444. It's 4 20 sec hill sprints , 4 x 440 at about 5k race pace and 4 x 20 sec strides with and easy warm up and cool down mile.
Thu: none
Fri: none.
Sat: 13.1 in 1:59:21. See the race report for the details.

Still a bit slack on the cross training but my attitude is improving towards that. It would sure help if the shoulder/upper arm thing would quit hurting so I could really do what I want with it. I did get in two bodyweight/calisthenics workouts and  two core workouts of 20 and 25 minutes. I fell off completely with the yoga. That's a bit unsettling because before I started this marathon thing I was doing 5 nights a week of 45 minutes to an hour. Must re-focus.

 I have the Ellerbe Half Marathon next Saturday. The long range weather forecast looks good. Hopefully I'll feel good and get in a few extra miles. Until then lets train !

Saturday, February 22, 2020

That went well until it didn't. The Raleigh Half Marathon.

 A couple of weeks ago I was wondering why I entered this race and wishing that I hadn't. I had already been signed up for the Ellerbe Half which is next weekend and I really didn't need to be racing two weekends in a row this close to my marathon. Somewhat reluctantly, I made the decision to use this race as a workout rather than going all out but exactly what kind of workout I really didn't know until just before the  race started and by mile two I changed that plan.

 Since I wasn't racing and with the 22F starting temperature I didn't do my normal pre-race warmup and planned to just go easy the first two miles. Mile 2 is just over the summit of the big hill and at that point I would do 2 miles at race pace (8:15-8:20) with half mile recoveries at marathon BQ pace (9:00-9:07). Well, with a slight downhill start and getting caught in the flow of runners as we narrowed down onto the greenway at 1/4 mile, I went out faster than planned in 8:39 and even mile 2 up the hill was barely slower than I'd planned for the slow recoveries(9:11).

I took off then and began moving by people. I didn't feel all that good and somehow ran mile 3 in 8:03. Too fast. Already I was regretting wearing a jacket as I was sweating so I zipped it down to allow air flow and decided then to just alternate faster miles with MP miles, Hit mile 4 and failed at that too. Too fast that is in  8:49. Took off again and now I'm sure all the runners I was leapfrogging were probably thinking I was some sort of novice that didn't know jack about pacing ! Next sequence was another fail with mile 5 another 8:03 and mile 6 another 8:49.

 Despite running too fast in each segment I still wasn't feeling all that good. Mile 7 is probably overall the hardest one the course as it goes up to and around Anderson Point Park so I took another easy mile through there. The hills along with a pee break gave me a 9:27 which would have been just about right without the break. I took off again and started seeing runners behind me now on the out and back which is always fun. Saw quite a few friends over the next couple of miles. That mile 8 was 8:17, finally one on pace !  At this point I didn't want to run hard anymore so the plan now changed to just running BQ pace the last 5.

 That went ok for about a mile. 9 was an 8:54, still a tad fast so I backed it down slightly but then by 9.5 I started feeling some stomach pain. I didn't feel like I was going to throw up but the pain was similar. Mile 10 was a 9:21 and then I slowed way down to 9:49 for mile  for mile 11 and couldn't believe how hard it felt. I took a couple of short walk breaks and then walked all of the steep hill so it was a terribly slow  10:26. With  a little over half a mile to go I was passed by the 2 hour pace group and of course they were encouraging me to come along with them.  I wasn't much interested in time but just getting it done without feeling worse. Mile 13 was 9:58 and then finally I was done. That was a lot harder than I planned. I actually ran the course faster last Sunday on an easy training run.

 Looking at the results I was surprised I was still 4th of 11 in the 60-64 age group and even more surprising was there were no 65-69 runners and only 1 over 70 ! But I think that maybe that could be because they don't give awards to age groups? Anyway, they do a great job putting on this event and depending on whats going on next year maybe I'll come back ready to rumble.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Just one more month until marathon day.

 And with just 4 weeks to go I wish I could say what a great week of training was just completed but let's not try and fool anyone, especially myself. Not that it was bad but once again, no long run which is definitely what I need more than anything. I did have 31 miles for the week which isn't terrible and thankfully I felt good on all of them and my average pace is good, right at marathon goal pace. The weather overall continues to be pretty good for the training so no excuses there. Something is lacking in my motivation and I feel a big part of that is lack of training partners. But I press on.

Sun: 7 easy miles on the Neuse in 1:04:59
Mon:  6 easy on the Neuse in 53:39
Tue: 6 easy in Umstead. Really good day in 53:39
Wed: 6 miles on the track in 50:07. Felt great in a workout of 5 x 1K at 10k race pace.
Thu: rest
Fri: 6 easy on the Neuse in 53:48
Sat: Rest.

 This was my slackest week yet in cross training. I've been plagued by shoulder pain for a long time now and it was really bothering me a lot lately so I backed way off on the calisthenics and body weight stuff. Only 1 workout this week. I did two core sessions and only one yin yoga session.

 I'm heading out now for a medium long run if things go well as soon as I finish this. The rest of the week will be pretty easy as I have the Raleigh Half Marathon next Saturday.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Week 8, and then there were Five.

 Wow, time waits for no one. What seemed so far away is barely a month from now. Some days I feel I have this in the bag and others the doubts creep in and I wish there were more weeks to train. But you work with what you've got so I hope to take advantage of the remaining time and continue with some quality running.

This week was not a high mileage week mainly due to the fact that I decided that tomorrow(Sunday) would be better for me to attempt my long run. I still got in a decent 30.5 miles in 5 days. Early in the week my quads were a bit sore but on my track day Wed I could tell during the warmup that it was going to be good. And it was. A real confidence boost. Best of all it's all pain free running.

 So here is what I did.

Sun: 4 miles easy in 37:16 at Crabtree Mall to Shelley
Mon: 5 easy on a freaky 73F day in 46:31on the Neuse
Tue: 6 more easy in Umstead in 55:32
Wed: Yasso 800's on the track. Did 8 averaging about 3:53. Total 7.5 miles in 1:05:17
Thu: Rest after 7 days in a row.
Fri: 8 easy on the ATT in 1:15:02
Sat: Rest again.

 Another decent week of cross training even though both of my shoulders are painful which really puts a damper on the enthusiasm to workout. I pushed through and did four calisthenic/body weight sessions, two core workouts and two 40 minute sessions yin yoga.

 Wish me luck this coming week, especially on getting in a good long run tomorrow. The weather looks great for it. And heads up, I've got the Raleigh Half Marathon coming up in just two weeks now and the Ellerbe Half marathon the following week.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Marathon Training Week 7 update

 And now just 6 weeks to go. In a way I wish I had a couple of more weeks but on the other hand I'm getting excited to race and see what happens. I'm quite pleased with the way the past week has gone. Despite having sore quads from the long run in the Uwharrie mts I felt pretty good all week and ran some decent paces without pushing it. I got in 5 runs for a weekly total of 37.3 miles. Here is how it went.

Sun: Rest
Mon: 5 easy on the greenway in 44:56
Tue: 6 in Umstead in 54:46.
Wed: rest
Thu: 9 miles in 1:17:52. Included 3 x 2 miles at half marathon pace. 16:36, 16:22, 16:34.
Fri: 5 easy on Cary greenway in 45:14.
Sat: Medium long run of 12.3 miles in Umstead in 1:53:48.

 Cross training was ok with  2 bodyweight/calisthenics workouts, 2 core workouts and 4 yin yoga sessions of 40 min to an hour.

 The coming week calls for more work with a mid week yasso 800's planned and hopefully a good long run next weekend. Looks like a warm week ahead so we'll see how that goes. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Week 6 and we are about halfway there.

 Yep, 7 more weeks to go until Marathon Day.

 This past week was a good one and a bit of a confidence boost. I had 39.2 miles for the week with only four days of running but that was mostly good quality stuff. As I've said before, one of the hardest things building back the mileage is mentally facing the long time alone running. Once you've been keeping runs between 60 to 90 minutes for a long time, it's easy to talk yourself out of staying out for 2 hours and more but it's coming back to me.
 Here is how the week looked.

Sun: 8 miles in 1:11:28. Solid run at BQ pace
Mon: none
Tue: none
Wed: 6 miles in 51:34. This was a great track workout as I started with the yasso 800's. 6x 800 in 3:53 to 3:55, which is about my lactate threshold pace now.
Thu: 6 easy along the Neuse in 54:29
Fri: none
Sat: 19.2 miles in 3:20:02. My longest run in 18 months and my initiation into The Fellowship of Idiots. Up to the top of Morrow Mountain and back. Ran well the whole way other than short walk breaks on the steepest parts of the hills.
Sun: none

 Another decent week of cross training also with 4 bodyweight/calisthenics strength workouts and  2 core workouts but I was slacker with the yoga. Not sure how that got away from me but I'll get back to work on that this coming week.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Week 5 of Marathon training. Back at it.

 I finally felt like I had recovered completely from the 25k race weeks ago with the zip returning to my legs. The week started off with temperatures well above normal and I ran my track workout shirtless but by Friday it was in the 40's again for highs. The weekly total was only 32 miles but I got in some quality miles and that number should grow over the next few weeks until I race again.

Sun: Rest
Mon: 6 miles in 54:30 along the Neuse
Tues: Rest
 Wed: Great workout of 5x1K at 10K race pace. 6 Miles total in 51:50
Thu: 4 easy at Smith Creek Greenway 36:18
 Fri: Strong 12 along the Neuse with a nice negative split. 1:48:49 (9:04 pace)
Sat: 4 easy from home in 35:37.

 Cross training was great this week with two body weight workouts, two core sessions, 1 weights and core workout at the gym. Got a little slack with the yoga with only two 40 minute sessions.

 Looking ahead if things go well I could have my biggest mileage week in a couple of years helped by doing the 19.7 mile Fellowship of the Idiots run next Saturday. Stay tuned for that one.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Week 4 of marathon training. Recovery.

 This was planned as a recovery week after last Saturdays 25K race which was my longest race and run in 18 months. The good news is that I had practically zero soreness and no aches and pains. The bad news is it seems to have worn me down more than I expected. I think a lot of that is due to the warm and humid conditions. Ended up with 26 miles for the week with no long run or workout. Hopefully I'll be feeling up to resuming the harder training in the coming week.

 Sun: Rest
 Mon: 4 easy in 36:23 along the Neuse.
 Tue: rest
 Wed: 6 easy in 54:54 along the Smith Creek Greenway
 Thu: 6 easy along the Neuse in 53:40. Finally felt a little zip.
 Fri: 5  easy in 46:13 from Mill Bridge Nature park. Sluggish.
 Sat: 5 miles in Umstead. Super slow and tired. 49:04.

 I did a decent job off keeping up the cross training this week with four body weight workouts, one core session and four 40 to 45 minute yin yoga sessions.

 Time to move along. BQ is waiting as long as I do the work.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

week 3 of marathon training.

 This 3rd week was not so much a training week as a taper and race week, starting with a day off and ending with the Salem Lakeshore 25K. The race didn't go as planned. Not really sure why. I went out at a reasonable pace but just never felt right. Maybe the 100% humidity on an above average warm day was a factor. Anyway, I got in the miles and the longest run since August 2018 so I'll take that as a positive. Here is the weekly runs. No workout this week.

 Sun : Rest

 Mon: 5 easy 46:10
Tue: 6 easy in Umstead 54:30
 Wed: 4 easy 35:59
 Thur: 4 easy with strides 36:17
 Fri: rest
 Sat: 15.5 race 2:27:27.

 I kept the cross training light this week also with two 30 minute body weight sessions, no weights, one 20 minute core session and one 45 minute yin yoga.

 I'll take it easy a few days to recover from the race and hopefully resume normal training . See you next week.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

2020, Here I come. Looking ahead.

 I am thankful and happy to be heading into the new year in good health and in decent shape and with confidence for some good performances. Once again, I have nothing really epic planned but there are several goals, a couple of which I had for last year but failed to achieve. The first big goal is to get a Boston Qualifier and until that is done I can't make a lot of plans for  beyond March right now but I can put a couple on the calendar. Goal #2 is to return to The Cotton Row Run 10k in Huntsville and improve on my 2018 time, hopefully with a sub 48 time or better and a podium would be nice. I had to cancel the attempt last year due to a  nagging calf injury. And the 3rd big goal is to go back to the Virginia 10 miler and run my fastest time there in about 20 years and finally make the top 3 in my age group.

 So here is what I'm looking at for the year so far. Mostly speculation at this point but I'll post an update sometime in the Spring when I know more. Could be some surprises if things go well in March.

Jan 4th: The Salem Lakeshore Frosty 25K
Jan 25th: The Fellowship of the Idiots. Not a race but an organized 19.7 mile run to the top of Morrow Mountain and back.

 Feb 29th: The Ellerbe Half Marathon. Hopefully a sub 1:50 on this hilly course and hang out with MTC friends

 Mar 15th: The Tobacco Road Marathon. This is my BQ attempt. Aiming for 3:55 but 4:00 should guarantee a spot in Boston. Until this is done I can't commit to too many other events but I'll post a few things Im definitely doing and a few others that are good possibilities.

 Apr: Depends on the marathon but if I come close but need another attempt I'll schedule one towards the end of the month. Otherwise I'll do a few shorter races this month.

 May: Cotton Row is on memorial Day.

June: ?

July: Maybe Grandfather Mountain Marathon. It's been several years. I've wanted to give the Senior Grandmasters title a shot since turning 60  but twice had to cancel due to injury and then last year I went to Boilermaker. Maybe this will be the year. I really wanted a sub 4 if I could have gone in 2016 but I don't know if I'll ever have that in me again.

 Aug: Maybe return to the High Country Half or just some 5k's

 Sept: Virginia 10 Miler is the last Sat of the month.

 Oct: Probably a half marathon or two. Maybe a 5k in the mix.

 Nov. I'm planning on a Fall marathon. Will either be Mid to late Nov or early early Dec but nothing picked out just yet.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019. The year in review

 Overall not a bad year at all. Nothing really epic but some good results in most of the events I entered. First, lets look at the numbers. 1,330.1 miles in the best yearly total since the 1420 of 2016 and that puts me at 52,909 lifetime miles. Overall it was a year of good health with the only injury was a bit of a calf strain which was not caused by running but affected the run for a few weeks spread over parts of April in May. Those months only had 52 and 57 miles respectively making the yearly total that much more satisfying. As you should know , I  made a commitment to make the run top priority in my fitness regimen beginning in late July and the result was that each month from August through December were all better than any months in the previous 2 years. Now on to the details.

 Jan: The year started off well with a very good run at the Holden Beach Half. I was pleased with the 1:48:51 and 2nd place AG. Monthly total was 119.2

 Feb: no racing but some good quality training and 119.2 miles again !

 Mar: Got off to a good start with the Florence Forth 10k. I felt good, ran strong just creeping under 48 with a 47:59 and an age group win. 3 weeks later I ran the St. Paddys 4 miler again and although I was 30 seconds slower than last year in 30:27 it was still good enough for 1st Senior Grandmaster again. A week later I was at Sunset Beach for another half. Improved my time to 1:46:20 but had to settle for 3rd AG and was out-sprinted to the finish. Gotta work on that top end speed ! 112.3 miles for the month.

 Apr: Was a bit frustrating with the calf mystery issue coming in early and costing me about 2 weeks off. It seemed fine and I raced the Port to Fort 5k in Morehead City in 23:30 which was good enough for the AG win. But a few days later the calf flared up again. Only 52.3 miles for the month.

 May: Started off with a lot of zeros and 10 days off before I tested the calf again. It was ok and I eased the mileage back up but no racing and only 57.0 miles for the month. Sadly I cancelled a planned trip to return to the Cotton Row Run in Alabama that had been one of my goal races for the year.

 June: More frustration. the month started out ok and on the 15th I ran the Vertical mile Challenge which had been on my list for a few years. Considering no mountain training and practically no trail running in recent years I had a good day, ran consistent paced laps and was 2nd AG. Legs really took a beating and despite 5 days of rest and easing back into it I aggravated my left  upper glute and hip flexor. I was confident it was not the same thing that ruined me back in  2014 and 2015 but I was going to be careful. I could run but only did 3 or 4 miles every two or three days and it gradually healed and felt better each week over the next 3 weeks or so. Monthly miles were 84.0.

 July: Was not what I'd hope. The first two weeks were all short runs every few days with some slight improvement in the pain but at least I could run. I decided to go ahead with my trip to Utica NY for the Boilermaker 15k. Things went ok although slow for the first 7 miles but then I bonked and the hip flexor was really bothering me.  Over the next weeks it graduallyt began to improve and I was able to run but it was the 28th before I noted that it was about 90% back to normal.  83.3 for the month.

 Aug: August started off well with the pain seemingly behind me now. I raced the Running With the Law 5k  in Jacksonville but only because I wanted to visit my friend for the weekend. Luckily  I got through it ok, ran about the same as I did in April in 23:33 and another AG win. By now I was not going to hot yoga anymore and with no injury I was ready to get back to some serious training and goals. On the 24th I took a trip to Boone for the High Country Half,a tough race that shares the first 10.5 miles as the Grandfather Mountain marathon. I ran much stronger than I expected with the help of cool rain and just missed my fantasy goal of breaking 2 hours on this hard course with a 2:00:23. Some tough competition from the local mountaineers put me off the podium and 4th place. Finished the month with 134.3 miles, my best in about 2 years !

 Sept: Things were going great this month and I was getting in great training with 5 to 6 days a week of runs despite the lingering heat and humidity. My #1 goal of the year was to beat my last years time at the Virginia 10 Miler and make the podium for the first time in 21 years of racing there. Although things were going well due to the earlier injuries I was not at the level I wanted to be going into the Fall racing season. And then race morning turned out to be hot and humid. I did as well as I could but I was never on pace to be close to last years time and I struggled in the last few miles. Going back in 2020 hopefully better prepared and maybe mother nature will be kinder. Good month though with 137.8 miles

 Oct:  I think this is probably the only Oct. in the last 2 decades at least that I had no races scheduled. It was tempting but I knew I needed to be training. I had a marathon planned in November and I was already way behind the mileage goals I need and no long runs done. Ended up with my best month of the year and best in about 3 years with 147.1 miles but still no real long runs.

 Nov: Due to the lack of long runs I made the very wise decision to drop down to the half at the City of Oaks Marathon  on the 3rd with the goal of trying to beat my time from last year which would be a challenge because I ran pretty well on this  tough course last year. Ended up running well this year but only better by 6 seconds in 1:49:10 and that all came in the last 10th of a mile sprint ! Good enough for 2nd AG in this larger event. Good training continued through the month and I ended it with a 5K Cross country race at the Nike Southeast Regional event. 23:35 on the tough course in some muddy conditions was satisfactory and only 2 seconds slower than the flat road 5k in August. 142.9 for the month.

 Dec:  I only had one race planned to finish out the year before going back into a marathon training program. That was the Frosty Run 10k on the 7th in Wake Forest. I had done some specific workouts for it so it was a bit of a disappointment that at the last minute a course change caused the certified course to be shortened to about 5.7 miles. It turned out cold and windy but I ran well on this hilly route my 45:16 was equivalent to about 48:40 if it had been the full 10k. 2nd AG. Finished the month with 140.7 miles.

And that's it for 2019. I'll post a looking ahead post with some goals for the coming year soon. Right now I'm happy with the way things are going and confident 2020 will be a good one.


Saturday, December 28, 2019

week two of marathon training and all is well

 I'm pleased to report that everything is going as planned and I'm feeling good. I finished up the week with 44 miles which is the best week in over two years and maybe longer ! I'm having no aches or pains (knock on wood) as I continue to closely monitor my body and allow for plenty of rest. Working part time now and with a flexible schedule allows me a lot of goofing off time and plenty of sleep which is always needed but especially for us old people !

 Here is what the week looked like.

 Sun: 14 miles at 9:07 pace which is 4:00 marathon pace.
 Tues:6 miles in 53:47
 Wed: 4 miles in 35:27
 Thur: Workout Day. Went to the track for tempo intervals. 5 x 1k in 4:50 to 4:47 with 200m recoveries. Total with warm up and cooldown of 6 miles in 51:38.
 Fri: 6 miles on the ATT in 54:23 getting re-familiar with the course.
 Sat: 8 miles in 1:17:35 on Umstead hills.

 Cross training for the week was a bit light once again. One body weight day, one gym weights session, two core workouts of 30  and 15 minutes and three 45 minute sessions of yin yoga.

 Looking ahead to next week, I plan to take it pretty easy and taper for the Salem Lake 25K race next Saturday which should be a good indicator of my current fitness.

 Stay tuned for more updates and a race report soon.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

First week training update.

 I've just completed the first week of training for Tobacco Road and I have mixed feelings about it. Overall things went well. The paces have certainly been where I want them on my daily runs and the mid-week workout was perfection but as I suspected, the recovery time is going to be more of an issue at age 64 than it was just a few years ago. But, I am also being smarter about that than the younger me was and I have no problem taking rest days as needed or cutting things short like I did on  today's long run. The key is getting in the key workouts and a shift of a few days one way or another doesn't matter as long as they get done and I'll just do my planned 14 sometime over the next couple of days.

 Here is how the week looked.
 Sun: 4 easy in 36:14
 Mon: 4 easy in 36:24. Probably should have rested.
 Tues: Took that rest day.
 Wed: 9 miles in 1:18:03. Workout of 3 x 2 miles in 16:45, 16:47, 16:45, about my current half marathon race pace.
 Thurs: rest
 Fri: 5 miles easy in 44:43. Significant that this is the average pace I need for my goal pace in March :)
 Sat: 8 miles on Turkey Creek Loop in 1:18:47. Planned on 14 but the hills were too much for me today.

 In addition I had two 30 minute body weight sessions, 1 weights session at the gym for 35 minutes, 2 30 minute core sessions and two yin yoga sessions for 45 minutes each.

 Feeling excited and ready to  move on to next week. The plan is to make up the missing 14 miler early in the week, then I've got  a 5 x 1K at 10k pace planned for Thursday. Next weekends long run is just 12 again since I have the 25k race the following weekend.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Marathon Training officially begins

 Ok sports fans. It's time to get with the plan and be serious about preparing for Tobacco Road Marathon next march. I've used a running journal from day 1 of my running and it is set up like a calendar so my weeks start on Sunday.  This past week was a recovery week from racing the two previous weekends so it was all easy pace stuff.

 Sun: 5 miles easy in Rocky Mount on their greenway 45:02
 Mon: 5 miles easy on the Neuse Greenway 45:31
 Tues: 6 miles not so easy in Umstead. 59:37. I really needed a day off but I was working in Cary and I've been wanting to check out the Cedar Ridge re-route. Probably a bad idea. Felt tired, dead legs.
 Wed: Finally rested
 Thurs: 5 miles at Shelley Lake in 46:37. Still tired and heavy legs.
 Fri: more rest
 Sat: 12 miles along the Neuse in 1:48:16. This was the kick off of building the long runs. I was happy to feel fresh and stayed consistent and finished strong.
 Total of 33 miles.

 In addition to the running I am still doing lots of other workouts. This past week I did two body weight strength, one with weights at the gym,and three 30 minute core sessions. And although I no longer take yoga classes I still have a home practice although I was a bit slack with it this week. I do some yoga as part of my warmups in the strength sessions and at night I spend anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour doing yin yoga 4 or 5 days a week but this week I only did one.

 In the past going into a training plan like this I would usually schedule two speed or tempo type workouts each week but now that I've gotten into the mid 60's I have to face the reality that my recovery times aren't what they used to be and I have to be smarter and more careful. With that, I am only going to be doing one hard , faster quality workout each week and hopefully maximaize results with less chance of injury.

 One thing I have going for me right now is that my daily easy run pace is as fast as I need to run to get a guaranteed spot into Boston 2021. At my age I need 4:05 which is 9:21 pace. But to make sure I get in I want at least  a 5 minute cushion so 4:00 or less is the goal and that's 9:07 pace and my 12 miler was at 9:01. So I really don't need more speed. I just have to build the endurance to hold that for the full 26.2 miles !

 According to the pace charts, in theory I should be able to run about a 3:47 marathon but of course that is taking into consideration that I have put in the long runs. Let me say now, I have no intentions of trying to run that fast in March.  Maybe someday later but #1 priority now is just getting that BQ and once that is taken care of then maybe I will work on that 3:47 again which was my BQ time for the 2016 Boston.

 So for those wanting to follow along here is the coming weeks plan. Mid week is the pace workout.
 1 mile warm up, 3 x 2 miles at 25k race pace (8:30) with 1/2 mile recoveries, 1 mile cool down.
 Long run of 14 miles.
 3 or 4 days of easy runs from 4 to 6 miles.

 Let the fun begin !

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Returning to the marathon.

 This post is just to give some of you followers a little background on my experience with the marathon.  I began running 42 years ago in 1977 and soon after decided I wanted to run a marathon. I finally felt I was ready and entered the Columbia (SC) Marathon in Mid February of 1981. A few days before I came down with the flu and wasn't able to race so I signed up for the Wilmington marathon 3 weeks later. Unfortunately I was still congested in the lungs and weakened and my experience in the race was not so good with cramping and walking the last few miles. I finished in 3:59:05 and was so sore afterwards I decided not to run another one for a few years.
  Then life decided it would be a lot longer. Fast forward to 2002 and  it was after running my first 50k in Feb before finally running another marathon. This was the beginning of my long distance era and over the next 13 years I ran over 80 ultras and 50 marathons before choosing to run shorter distances when I turned 60. From 2016 and my last time racing Boston my mileage had begun a steady decline and the once a year marathons  that I did run , I was woefully under-trained for and of course I haven't raced an ultra since Dec 2015.
 As a result of the lower mileage and little racing long distance over these past several years, any endurance and muscle memory for the marathon is long gone. This return will be like starting over with the exception that I do have the experience and know what is needed and how to do it.
 This will be a short marathon build up with only 13 weeks to train for the Tobacco Road Marathon which I've entered with the hopes of qualifying for Boston. I'm not too concerned with that though because since giving the run top priority in my training since July when I quit going to 5 or 6 yoga classes a week I have gotten my weekly average mileage up to the mid 30's per week and hit the low 40's a couple of times so I have a good base to build on.
 I've got my training plan in place and it will began with at least a 12 mile run this Saturday Dec.14th and go from there. I'll be posting weekly updates so stay tuned. Boston 2021, I'm coming for you.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Return to the Virginia 10 Miler.

 Will this be the year I finally make a podium spot? Well, let's look back at a little history of my favorite road race.

 The VA Miler is one of the premier races in the country and begun in 1974. In it's long history it has seen a virtual who's who of elite running including many Olympians like Lasse Viren, Frank Shorter, Rod Dixon and Grete Waitz.

 I first ran it in 1978, my first year of racing. My brother and I went under trained and not prepared for this very tough, hilly course.In those early years it was earlier in Sept and had a 10 am start time so it got up to 88F and we suffered through it. Despite the difficulty we signed up for the next year and so began my 15 year streak until 1992. The next several years after my divorce my running suffered as I tried balancing work and raising two boys.

  As the kids got older and I began running more, I finally returned in 1999 through 2002. After that I became an ultra runner and it would not be until 2016 that I would come back once again.

 The race had always been very competitive and after I turned 60 and having some success at age group racing I was thinking how cool would it would be to actually make the podium in my all time favorite race. Early results in 2016 showed that I had finished 3rd and I was elated as I made a premature FB post but later after the results were revised I had dropped to 6th ! Grrrrr.

 I was unable to return in 2017 but came back last year and moved up to 4th. I made a vow that day I would return and give it my best shot at running my fastest time since 1992 and get that podium spot. Unfortunately I'm not in shape to do that. No ones fault but mine. I just wasn't prioritizing the running like I needed until mid July. Things are going well but I could use another 4 weeks of focused training. As it is I can only go and give it my best shot and see what happens. It's going to be a hot one so fast isn't an option but at least my competitors have to race in the same conditions so I'm not ruling out placing just yet.

 Below I am listing all my previous results. To give you an idea just how tough this course is, my record here of 1:08:15 is nearly 4 minutes slower than my 10 mile pr set a year earlier !

1978 - 1:47:02
1979 - 1:18:55
1980 - 1:17:30
1981 - 1:09:36
1982 - 1:11:57
1983 - 1:13:23
1984 - 1:08;15
1985 - 1:09:18
1986 - 1:21:27
1987 - 1:11:35
1988 - 1:19:55
1989 - 1:19:09
1990 - 1:13:37
1991 - 1:16:49
1992 - 1:18:48
1999 - 1:25:47
2000 - 1:29:22
2001 - 1:24:03
2002 - 1:28:12
2016 - 1:23:07
2018 - 1:25:10

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Preparing for a Classic in Utica

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

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

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

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

 Here is the race website.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Lookout Rotary Port To Fort 5k

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 01, 2019

Training update 3-1-19.

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

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

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

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

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

 Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Run Holden Beach Half Marathon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Carolina Beach Trail Half Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Looking ahead into 2019

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

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

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

 Nothing but miles.


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

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


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


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


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

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


 No plans at this time.


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


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


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

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


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

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

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018. The Year in Review.

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

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

 Nothing but trying to refocus on the training.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 26, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 09, 2018

City Of Oaks Half Marathon. It's coming along

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 26, 2018

Ironclad Half Marathon, or time to get serious again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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