Thursday, October 29, 2009

Autumn in Umstead

It wasn't until I was already hiking on the trail to take these pictures that I remembered that it was 30 years ago that I first ran on this very trail the first time. It was 1979 and I thought that I would like to do some trail running so I headed over to William B Umstead State Park and after looking at the map decided to run on the Company Mill Trail. That first run didn't actually turn out to well. after about a mile I lost the trail and finally gave up and ran back to my car. It was only later that I realized that I need to wade across Crabtree Creek to reach the 4 mile loop.

It wasn't long afterwards that I did return and do the whole trail. Back in those days there was not a bridge across the creek so you had to wade across the remains of the old dam and hope it was low water when you got there. At high water there can be some tricky rapids at that area. There were also no bridges over the many ditches and drainages along the trail so you had to climb in and out of them making for some slow running.

Of course these were my first runs on the trails as a runner but certainly not my first experience in the park. From the time I was 8 years old back in the early 60's I remember numerous trips to the park for picnics with my family, with church groups and with Cub and Boy Scouts and of course that included a lot of exploring on the trails and playing in the creeks.

Since I began running ultra's back in 2002 I have spent a lot more time training in the park, sometimes 4 or 5 days a week although not quite as much so the past year. It was enough for my friend Mike Walsh to refer to me as the Mayor of Umstead when I took over the NCRC's August Umstead Series. Of course there are many others that have and are running hundreds of miles through the park but I certainly know my way around.

Hope you enjoy the photos.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Run For The Booty Half-Marathon

Early this year when Butch Robertson , the race director told me he was adding this race to his half-marathon series, I made immediate plans to add it to my racing schedule. Since my main priority this year after doing the Ironman was to begin to get back into Boston qualifying shape, this race fit perfectly into my plan to race the OBX Marathon in November. It is 4 weeks oout and with a fast course it would be a good test of my fitness.

Training has been going very well since my nagging injuries from last year are behind me now but despite getting in good mileage and running speedwork again I knew I would not be close to the same shape I was 4 years ago when I last qualified. So although I had to scale back on my predicted time I was still looking forward to a good race, a fun time and a reality check on my fitness.

Of course the Marathon Princess was part of the plan too since she is also trying for her BG at OBX. Unfortunately Frank has some little injury issue right now and chose not to run and Lisa, our frequent training partner is also out with an injury so Karla and I would make the trip alone this morning. With a start time of 7am that meant for an early wake-up and drive to Greenville.

We arrived about 6 and after picking up our packets and making last minute preparations it was time to warm-up. The weather was looking good with the temperature in the upper 50's and a little breeze but then it began to rain while we were running our warm-up mile. We all got lucky though and the rain stopped just before the start and would not come back although it stayed overcast the entire morning.

My legs were feeling good and the nagging after effects of last weeks mild chest cold seemed to finally be gone so I was confident of a good run. There were approximately 300 starters so as we began the race it didn't take long for things to spread out. I tried to keep the pace under control early and hit mile one in 7:50. Not too bad at only 10 seconds under my goal pace. Mile 2 was 8:00, dead-on pace and I was settled in now for the long run.

The course is mostly flat but there are several hills, none too steep but enough to let you know you aren't on level ground. One of the longest came just before mile 3 but I maintained effort and passed it in 8:06. As soon as we leveled out I picked it up again and the next several miles were pancake flat. The metronome had kicked in by now and I hit mile 4 in 7:53. I missed the 5 mile mark but from mile 4 to 6 took 15:58. Halfway and still feeling great and right on pace. Mile 7 was 7:57 and mile 8 with another long slight upgrade took 8:11. Once it flattened out I was right back on pace again in 7:57 for mile 9. By now I was starting to feel the pace and soon I had a painful side stitch that forced me to back off a little bit. I missed seeing mile 10 but passed 11 in 16:26 so I lost some time in those two miles. I was happy that the stitch did ease off but now as I was tiring and working harder to maintain pace, I began wheezing a little and coughing as the lingering efects of the cold kicked in. Even with that I still was able to hold on for an 8:11 12th mile and an 8:15 13th.

By now I was happy to see the finish line and ran strong to the end, satisfied to come within a minute of my pre-race goal. I immediately made my way to the car to get my camera to catch Karla's finish. I was hoping she would get her half-marathon pr today and didn't want to miss it. Soon she came into sight, missing her pr by about a minute but considering where she's coming from it was still amazing to come that close. And it would be good enough for 2nd place Master's Woman and 1st in the 50 and over age-group. I would be 5th in my age-group. Local Masters Superstar Tim Meigs from Raleigh was the overall winner of the race and another friend from Clayton, Brent George won his age-group.

We had a lot of fun and it was a great morning overall. The race went well and hopefully will be a regular feature on the local race calender.

Friday, October 09, 2009

A look back to 2006 and Chasing Dreams

Dreams Can Come True

Friday, May 05 2006 @ 05:03 PDT
Contributed by: mday
Views: 1,367

By Joey Anderson

Thirteen months ago. That's how long it has been since a group of friends prodded me into chasing a dream I had long ago given up on. But now the dream had come true and I was heading to the Boston Marathon. However this was not going to be the way I had envisioned it would be. No, as fate would have it, this would turn out to be the most memorable run of my life. Let me explain.

Many of you are familiar with the stories I wrote about my quest to qualify for Boston over the past year. For those that may have missed them they can be found at titled Chasing Dreams and the Power of Friendship. Part 1. Part 2.

One big part that I alluded to in the second story, which I am now making public changed the story quite a bit. Nine days before running my qualifier at Myrtle Beach on Feb. 18th, it was confirmed by a biopsy that my training partner Karla has breast cancer. She decided to wait until after we ran there before having surgery and had every intention of still going to Boston if it was humanly possible to do so while undergoing chemotherapy.

This put my qualifier in a whole new perspective.

On the one hand my heart wasn't really into running because of my concern for her but I knew then that I had to qualify so I could be there to support her.

So now we found ourselves in Boston on Saturday April 15th and headed to the race expo. Between Feb and now, Karla had two surgery's and was into her 4th week of chemo with only 12 miles of running in between. Her medical team had given her the Ok to attempt the race so we were eager to pick up our race packets. We were accompanied by Karla's husband Frank and son Eric. Our friend Jerry from the stories was here also but Margo missed the trip to go to see her son and grandchild in Germany.

We spent most of the weekend resting as the treatments are very tiring for Karla and we wanted to save as much energy as possible. We were fortunate to arrive at the athlete's village on a charter bus the morning of the race so we were able to rest and stay warm on the bus right up until time to march to the starting line. Our hope was just to make it to the finish by the offical cut-off of 6 hours with as little stress on Karla as possible. The plan was for me to run with her the whole way. After all her inspiration and help getting me here there was no way I wasn't going to be there to share the whole experience with her. I would also be able to moniter her condition as we went along. I carried a cell phone, something I never imagined I would do in a race, but as you can imagine, Frank was a bit concerned so I had it just in case.

The temperature at the start was in the 50's so at least we had pleasant running weather and we soon found ourselves on the way out of Hopkinton and on the way to Boston and the finish line. We started out at an easy pace, just trying to enjoy the atmosphere surrounding such an historic event. We hoped to run as much as possible and attempt to get to the half in 2:30. I figured that if we had to we could walk it in from there. We walked just enough to make sure we were getting plenty to drink and took a gel at 5 miles. We were having a great time taking in the sites along the course and enjoying each others company.

It was just after 10 miles that the reality of the situation set in. Although she had hoped to run most of the race, the effects of the chemo and lack of training were taking their toll. It was now obvious that we were going to do a lot of walking and she wasn't too happy with that. But being the speciial woman that she is, she was more concerned with me having to run my first Boston so slow after training so hard to get here. I assured her there was nothing I would rather be doing than sharing the day with her and after a little emotional moment we forged ahead with determination to go claim our medals.

We settled into a nice run/walk routine and although she was tiring and getting sore legs and feet we were on pace. I continued to monitor her condition and felt she was doing fine. We continued to drink and started eating gels more often to keep her energy up as muchas possible. At times I could see that she was concerned with whether we would make it, so I tried to keep the mood light and assure her that as long as we were moving in the direction we were going we had it in the bag. As you can see from the pictures, even late in the race she looked great and we were doing a lot of smiling and laughing.

We saw Frank and Eric along the course about the 16 mile mark and this boosted her spirits but soon afterwards as we got into the hills the pace was slowing. We were going to be cutting it close if the pace got any slower. She was asking me how we were doing at every mile and I just told her not to worry and just keep moving. After a 16:32, 20th mile I knew we would have to pick it up or we would miss the cut-off. That's when I gave her the "dig deep" speech. I told her if she could walk faster, then I wouldn't make her run as much. I said, just pretend that those shoes she wanted on sale were first come first serve and walk like she was going after the last pair. She liked that idea as she had gotten comfortable walking. We would run about 5 minutes then walk 5. This strategy seemed to work and we were soon walking a good pace, and our overall pace again dropped below 14 minute miles, the magic number for a 6 hour finish.

It was great to finally see the infamous Citgo sign up ahead as we new we were in the last few miles. All day long we had seen a lot of charity runners supporting the Dana-Farber Cancer Center. It was somewhere near this point that we saw one of the ladies passing us. She had written on the back of her shirt" If you think 26.2 miles is hard, try chemo" How appropriate for the moment. For Karla it was 26.2 miles AND chemo at the same time. But even so Karla was inspired by all the other runners in the race that were overcoming the obstacles that life had thrown in their way.

Finally we made the turn onto Boylston Street and the finish line. We were able to muster up enough energy to run across the line holding hands in 5:47:10. This was the slowest race for either one of us but as for me, this was the best race of my 28 years of running. It was such an honor to run with such a courageous and gracious lady that I am proud to have as my friend.

The marathon for Karla to beat ths cancer is still in the early miles but I am sure she will continue to face it bravely. I look forward to her recovery so that we can share many more miles and smiles.

Joey Anderson

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Selma Railroad Run 5k

To begin with, no the picture was not taken from today's race. This was from 1979, 30 years ago and at 32 years running this is one of the oldest races in NC. It was originally a 10K which was the most popular race distance back in those days. I don't remember when it was changed to 5k and it seems they had both for a while. I was proud that my Mother and I think my brother also ran the race that year. Dad took the picture.

It remains a small, low-key event with a reasonable entry fee. But it is a very flat fast certified course with chip timing and is the place to go if you want a fast time. The last time I ran here was in 2005 when Karla and I were training together to get ready for Boston. She had already qualified and was running to try for a pr while I was using it for a test of my leg speed. Her husband Frank and our friend Jerry would also be running. I had a great day and ran 21:12, my fastest 5k in almost 20 years and Karla ran a pr or was within a second or two and won 2nd place in her age-group.

So here we are now 4 years later with the same goals. After going through cancer and recovery I felt that Karla with her hard training this year was about back in shape to try for another pr. I am not quite back to the same level as 2005 but was hoping to have a good test of my speed work and to at least come close to my time 4 years ago. Frank would be running again also. We were also happy to have our friends Margo and Maureen as surprise entrants. I was not surprised to see some other running friends Katie Leger and Laura Frey show up. They have been running great lately and the lure for a flat fast course was enough to get them to come and attempt to run pr sub-20 pace.

It turned out to be a warm and muggy morning but we still hoped for the best. I got off to a good start hitting mile 1 in 6:53 but I would began to slow quickly. My legs felt great but I have been trying to fight off a cold this week and my lungs just weren't up to the pace today. I could see Katie and Laura were leading the womens race and soon after I made the u-turn I could see Maureen not too far behind me and Margo just behind her. I passed the 2 mile mark 14:22, a 7:29 2nd mile and I knew my hoped for sub-22 was not going to happen. I soon saw Karla go by and could tell she was really close to the pace she needed.

I tried to maintain and push the pace the last 1.1 but it was hard and I got a side stitch with 1/2 mile to go. Maureen passed me with 1/4 to go looking strong. She's an amazing athlete and did this with very little running this year. I finished in 22:43, about a minute faster than The Race for the Cure in June so I am making some progress at least even when not having my best day. Margo was not too far behind me and then Karla came in just missing sub 24 but still got her pr by about 5 seconds !!! Can you tell how proud I am !!!!! After all she had gone through in 2006 to be back stronger than ever is AWESOME !

The awards ceremony was good. Katie and Laura finished 1-2 overall women. Maureen was 2nd in the 30-39, Margo was 3rd in 40-49 but too bad they only go 2 deep. Karla was 1st in 50 and over. Another friend, Brent George won the mens 30-39 and Sean Kurdys won the mens 40-49. Frank and I settled as also rans in ours, both finishing 5th I think.

Overall it was still a fun day and afterwards Karla and I ,still in OBX training mode went out for a 10 mile run.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Racing, Training and Just Running

For some people I guess all running is the same but for me and some others there are different types of running. Any kind is good but they all serve different purposes and sometimes the three main types get a little mixed up.

For me over the past couple of years it seems I've done a lot of just running and that is not a bad thing. I had to get over the injuries so some days I was happy to just get out and put in a few miles. Sometimes when I'm running in a race I'm not really racing but just running. That happens a lot when I don't have a time goal and decide to just enter an event for fun or when I decide to run with someone else. Usually thats with Karla but occasionally others. Sometimes its planned from the start but sometimes I happen to pull alongside someone and decide to stick with them.

Just running can be a lot of fun especially when it is shared with someone. When I'm alone I describe just running as going out everday at about the same pace. A little slower on days when I don't feel so good and a little faster on others when I feel better or the weather is nice. And although I call it just running , any miles are a form of training.

But real training to me is what I have been doing the past few months. That's when I have a set goal, develop a plan to achieve that goal and then go out and execute the workouts to make the goal a reality. Each day that I head out the door has a purpose, to either build endurance , stamina, speed or to recover. I get excited about nearly every workout and look forward to getting it done. I love to track my progress and analyze the results and to occasionally check my progress to see if I need to make adjustments in the plan.

Right now I am loving meeting Karla at the track every Tuesday and devising a speed or stamina workout. I usually do some shorter, faster paced stuff while I wait for her and then run another one with her. I love the sensation of moving at a fast pace, feeling the burn in my legs and lungs but knowing that it will pay off come race day. It is wonderful to feel the zip, the power returning to my legs.

I can't hardly wait for Saturday mornings to come around so I can go for a long run at Umstead or Shelly Lake Greenway with the Marathon Princess and Mountain Girl and occasionally the Ultra Angel. And I look forward to Thursdays when I can go out by myself and push myself hard on a tempo run or mile repeats on the country roads of home.

Which brings me to racing or the icing on the cake of all the training. There is nothing like the feeling of laying all out and pushing to your limit when your in shape and know the training is going well. Although I will never realisticly approach the pr 's in the shorter distances that I set over 20 years ago I still enjoy seeing just how fast I can push myself and come as close to those paces as possible. And you may think I"m crazy but I feel with my current training plan that I have a legitimate shot at setting pr's from the half-marathon on up to 100 miles over the next couple of years and will be working towards a goal of doing that.

But, while I focus in that direction, I plan to do a lot of just running too with my regular training partners Karla, Lisa , Jenn and maybe you.