Thursday, October 25, 2007

American Tobacco Trail 10 Mile

My legs feel like cement I said to Mike as he urged me to hang with him. "I can't hear you buddy" he replied. That's because he was pulling away as I continued my slowly declining pace.

Back in my younger running days, 10 miles was my favorite race distance. Short enough not to wear me down like a marathon but long enough not to need to hurt every step like a 5K. The ideal distance for a not too fast and not too strong runner like me. However since I have been specializing in marathons and mostly ultramarathons the past several years I have really not tested myself over this distance. Other than pacing Karla 2 years ago in Greenville, I have not raced the distance in at least 7 or 8 years.With my impending race at the Richmond Marathon coming up in November, I thought that this would be an ideal test and training run as I prepare for my Boston qualifier.

I awoke way too early on a beautiful October morning, but noticed right away that it was way too warm and muggy for this time of year, but that is just the way the weather pattern has been. Fortunately the course is shaded over 90% of it's course and I never felt that the temperature affected me, although I'm sure it had some subtle effect. I arrived at the trail parking lot early and enjoyed meeting and greeting many friends. With the limited field of runners, and being an NCRC event, I knew quite a lot of runners as well as volunteers. Lisa Howell and I ran a warm-up mile together and then I began final preparations. As I sat adjusting my shoes, I noticed the Trail Angel had arrived with Allison and Alan to volunteer. Laura would not be running as she is preparing for the Ridge to Bridge Marathon on the 27th but it was a pleasant surprise to see her there.
By now it was nearly time to start and I realized the starting line was about a quarter mile up the road so I had to hurry off. Soon all were ready and RD Aaron sent us on our way. My plan was to stay relaxed and hope to reach halfway at 7:30 pace. Then if I felt good maybe pick it up and if not just try to maintain. We were quickly onto the soft, well shaded trail and I settled into my pace. Mike Walsh soon pulled up beside me and we would be near to each other for most of the remainder of the run. He was just trying to get in a good workout but got caught into a strong pace with another guy and pulled away. As we hit the first mile which I passed in 7:16, he realized he was going too fast and dropped back to run with me for a while. It was a little too fast for me but I felt good and just relaxed, settling into a nice rhythm. It was most pleasant running through the woods on the nice flat, soft surface. Ideal for a fast run. Even so, the very slightest change in elevation seemed to affect pace ever so slightly.

Being an out and back course, I began to see the lead runners coming back to me. This was nice so I could see all the people I know out on the course and exchange encouragement. I decided to count everyone ahead of me and was in about 43rd or 44th place.. Mike and I hit 5 miles together and I although I had slowed a little bit , I was only about 12 seconds behind my planned pace and still feeling good. I passed a couple of runners but mostly just tried to stay relaxed and hold the pace. Around 7 miles, I stopped for a cup of gatorade and the runners I had passed went by. Over the next mile I was slowly reeling them in but then the legs started tightening up as we ran through the Hwy 55 underpass. That's when I had to watch as Mike and the others slowly pulled away. There would be no 75:00 today so I just hoped to finish as comfortably as possible and as I could hear no footsteps behind me , I felt my position was safe.

I guess pain is inevitable though if you are racing and sure enough with about 200 yards to go I began to hear someone behind me and then with 100yds I could tell there were at least 2 runners and they were coming on strong. This is not what I wanted but my competitive instincts took over and I began pushing harder and harder until the footsteps seemed to fade. But then I had to finally reach for the last ounce of speed left in me to keep from being nipped at the line. The next guy was given the same time with two others right behind. As I bent over, hands on my knees gasping and trying not to throw up, I said to the volunteers nearby," I really didn't want to have to do that!"

So, I didn't achieve me time goal but overall I had a great time and finished 4th out of 17 in my age-group. Not really a confidence booster for my goal at Richmond but I have three weeks to recover, train and taper. I probably shouldn't have run at Hinson Lake and concentrated my training but I had a goal there and really wanted to do it so I will accept whatever comes. Bottom line is that I have fun and do the things I enjoy with my fellow runners and friends.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

ATT 10 Miler Preview

This Saturday I will be running in the 1st edition of The American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler. This is a race put on by the NCRC and the RD is Aaron Quick, a young man that has been very active in the club the past year.
The race is held on a converted rail trail in Western Wake County outside of Apex. The course is nearly flat with only a slight grade of 1% or less over most of the course on a soft dirt surface similar to the bridle trails at Umstead State Park .

My purpose in running this event besides just having fun is to use it as a test to see how my training is going. I have the Richmond Marathon coming up in 3 weeks where I hope to attempt a Boston qualifying time. When I qualified at Myrtle Beach in 2006, I had run a half-marathon at Ocean Isle Beach 3 weeks before and that seemed to be a good predictor of my performance at MB. My goal is to run it in 75:00, a time I feel is necessary if I am to run 3:35 at Richmond. Look for a report soon. In the meantime you can check out the links below for more info on the race and the trail.

Here is a link to the race website

for more info on the trail go here

Monday, October 15, 2007

Autism Ribbon Run 5K 2007

Saturday October 13th I decided to go run this 5K with my regular training partner Karla. This was a very important date as a year ago I went with Karla and Frank and Jerry to UNC Hospital for Karla's last chemotherapy session. Amazingly, the day afterwards I ran with her in this race as she bravely ran a 33:04. Since that time, she had completed her radiation treatments and being declared cancer free last December, began looking to return to her pre-cancer condition. Now a year later it is with great joy that we are able to run together regularly again and I see her steadily growing stronger. Over the past several weeks we have done several long runs up to 18 miles in preparation for a return to the OBX Marathon in November.
I arrived in downtown Raleigh early to get in some running before the race and after a 2 mile warm-up, I ran the course at tempo pace. The course was not yet closed to traffic so I had to slow or stop at several intersections and was nearly impaled by a giant fork-lift as I ran through a construction zone. I then began looking for Frank and Karla. She was surprised to see me since I had not told her I was coming. I needed to be at work at 10am but I decided I could run with her and it would only be a 10 minute drive to work and I would have plenty of time. It was 8:30 when I found them so after chatting briefly with Frank and Mike Walsh, Karla and I went for a warm-up before heading to the start. It was a beautiful morning, in the 50's and warming quickly into the 60's.
A couple of weeks ago we ran a 5K fun run on the greenway with the NCRC during the club's Thursday night Sept Series and she had run about 28:34, her fastest time in nearly two years so I told her we should shoot for a sub-28 time today. She expressed doubts about it, but was ready to give it a shot. After the gun, we started out strong but reserved. As usual I was chatting away, happy to be running easily alongside the Marathon Princess. Karla was talking too, a good sign she was feeling good and the pace was not too fast. We hit mile one in 8:35, probably her fastest mile in a very long time and a big boost to her confidence. The next half mile is a slight downgrade and we passed the halfway mark in 13:30. Having a severe case of long-term ultrabrain, I was having a hard time thinking mathematicly, but I soon realized that she was not just on pace to break 28 but was headed for a possible sub-27.
As we past the two mile mark, she was still looking good but feeling the strain of the pace but she is obviously one tough lady and wasn't backing down at all. Then with the finish in sight and knowing she had a sub 27 in the bag she kicked hard and crossed the line in 26:30 !!! Woohoo!! I was so proud of her. A brief celebration and a visit with friends Bill and Sally Squier and I had to hurry off to work.
Next up is the ATT 10 miler next Saturday as a test for my marathon preparation.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Hinson Lake 2007

Some things you just can't explain. You just have to accept it and move on. I went into the weekend at HL confident that my training would allow me to improve on my 103.3 miles from last year, but a lot can happen in 24 hours and not all of them good. Short and to the point, I just didn't have a good day.
I felt very good early in the run but after reviewing last years splits, I was a little behind pace all day. As usual, I had a bad spell around 36 miles in but soon I was able to turn things around and at 12 hours I was within a half mile of last years pace and running well, putting in some good lap times. A couple of hours later I was struggling but eating and electrolytes weren't helping. Finally after almost 16 hours and 69.9 miles I decided I wasn't having fun anymore, turned around and quit to save it for a better day.
Other than disappointment at not meeting my expectations, I had a great time. Tom Gabell and his family and volunteers did a great job with the event. The race was full of so many friends and members of the MTC. I set up my stuff alongside Ben Dillon and Joe Lugiano, friends from the NCRC( Ben is a recent member of the MTC). Their wives Linda and Hannah are great supporters of these guys and were very helpful in looking after me too.

Here is a link to some photos taken by Sue Norwood.

Congratulations to Brad Smythe and Anita Finkle for winning