Friday, September 23, 2016

Return to A Classic. The Virginia 10 Miler

  It was in my first year of racing, 1978 that I saw an ad in Runners World for this race. It looked fun and challenging so my brother and I decided to give it a shot. In those days before the internet we had to send in an SASE for an application. I'm not sure how much of a deadline there was but it had to be at least a month before because they would mail you out a pre-race Booklet with all the entrants and pictures and results from the previous year.

 And then about three weeks after the race you got a results booklet in the mail !

  My racing experience was very limited so it was quite exciting to go to the pre race festivities including a panel discussion with the world class athletes. This race was one of the early classics with a rich history of epic racing in the 70's and 80's and was  a big part of the fuel that helped the growth of the first running boom. The people that raced here is a who's who of that era. Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, Craig Virgin, Lasse Viren and Rod Dixon who set the course record in 1980 which still stands. And the women  just as strong with Julie and Mary Shea, Grete Weitz, Jacqueline Gareau, Anne Audain among others.

 So back to the race. In those days it was mid September instead of the last weekend and it had a 10 am start. And it got hot ! 88F. I had a hip injury over the summer and was woefully unprepared and my brother was not much better off but we were ready for the challenge.

 And what a challenge it was ! We had never covered 10 miles and we thought we had run on some hills until we saw this course. Yikes. Not a flat place anywhere and just the last 1.5 miles gains 200ft. Brutal. I don't remember many details but just know it was a tough miserable day with lots of walking up that last hill. My time was 1:47:03.

 So what did we do? Signed up right away for the next years race, determined to improve . And that begin a 15 year streak until life got in the way after 1992. But I did improve and have some wonderful memories. Eventually I learned how to pace properly for the course and improved my course pr to 1:08:15. To put that into perspective as to how hard the course is, the same year on the flat Cherry Blossom 10 miler I ran 1:04:42.

  Eventually I was able to return for another 4 year streak from 1999 to 2002 but after that I never made it back. By then my focus was on ultra running and it just never was able to make it back onto my schedule. Until now. With Ultraman still off in another galaxy I decided to make my return this year after 14 years away. I am so excited although I really don't feel I am quite ready and the weather is going to be warm and humid. But I'm going to soak it all in and give it my best. Wish me luck !

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Oak City Mile and a week of training

 I was excited for the last of my summer of miles but I really wasn't liking the late summer weather.  I arrived about 1pm for packet pickup and talked to some friends before heading out 30 minutes before the race to do my warm up. How convenient it was to have a one mile certified course for my warm up ! This gave me a chance to see the course and plot my strategy. There were no 1/4 mile markers but I could tell from my pace about where they would be. By the time I was done I was already soaked in sweat. With 10 minutes to go I found a short flat stretch of road that was blocked off to do a few strides and then headed to the start. It was now 92F and sunny !

 After less than 100yds the course begins an upgrade to about the .3 mile mark so my plan was to be sure and hold back a little bit and not go into oxygen debt too early. But, wow everyone took off like crazy !  I just let them go but it still felt like a really hard pace.  I don't know how many were behind me but I know there weren't many. As I came close to my estimated 1/4 mle mark, I   glanced at my watch and it seemed  was about on pace. I was already beginning to pass a few , mostly younger school age kids and a few other less experienced runners.

 After cresting the hill its a little steeper down to the turnaround and I was hoping to push it but with the heat and already feeling the effort , I wasn't going much faster but still passing a few more.  I passed the half in about 3:16, pretty close to what I was hoping for. Now I just had to make it back up to the hill without blowing up. It was hard but I passed yet a few more people and the whole time I'm fighting with myself to not back down. Only 2 more minutes of pain !

  Finally at the top and I knew just around the bend I would be able to see the finish. Push it ! With about 300yards to go I passed one of the few men I saw that may have been in my age group. He was toast as I flew by. I just didn't know if there may have been someone that didn't look old ahead !
 I gave it all I had and finished in 6:41. For a nano second I was disappointed not to be closer to 6:30 but with the heat and not so flat course I was very pleased with my effort.

  Turns out that was good enough for 1st in the 60-64 age group. Ok, so what if I was the only one ! At least no one older than me was faster and I only finished 6 seconds behind the 55-59 winner. Overall I was 65th of 97. Not bad for a race full of mostly younger guys.

 So, thats it for mile races for this year. Who knows what next year will bring? As for now I will move up the distances a bit for the Fall. Next up is The Virginia 10 miler on the 24th. I'll be doing a preview of that in a few days.

 I felt great the day after the race and got in a really good week of training including a good hilly 11 miler on Friday, the longest since Boston ! Ended up with 31 miles for the week which is the best since June. And as always I have been doing and loving a lot of cross training. I was able to get to 4 Bikram hot yoga classes,one weight session at the gym and 6 other body weight workouts. I'm feeling great and looking forward to a strong racing season ahead

Saturday, September 10, 2016

3 more weeks of training and Oak City Mile Preview

 I'll be racing in the Oak City Mile on Sunday 9-11 , my first time for this event held on Hillsborough Street and the last of my mile races this Summer. Oak City is a fairly flat course for Raleigh with only 47 feet of elevation change on the out and back course.

  After my last track race I took a month off from doing any speedwork to give the legs  and body some recovery but I returned to the track two weeks ago for some sharpening. I was pleasantly surprised on an 80 degree muggy, sunny morning to run my most consistent and fastest average 200's workout of the year. Then I followed that up this week with some strong 400's and my best 200's in many years. I expect the race is going to be very hot with a high predicted of 89F for the 2pm start. Even so I am hoping to run close to my goal of 6:30.

 I did get my weekly mileage up slightly with 24 and 25 mile weeks helped by a few days of cooler drier air before the heat came back with a vengengeance this week. Sitting at 14 this week with just the race tomorrow. Not running today !

 And as always, lots of other stuff. Still getting in about 4 hot yoga classes  week with 11 classes this 3 weeke period. And I got in another13 workouts of  body weight, tibetansand other fun stuff. A little slack on the weights with time for just 3 visits but made it twice this week.

 Stay tuned for the resuts and plans for the coming weeks !