Sunday, October 30, 2016

Smokin on the American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler

 As I mentioned in my preview I had not planned on running this race until after doing so well in Lynchburg. With the way things have been going for me this year I was feeling confident I would be able to achieve my goal of beating my time here from 10 years ago but the other goal of making the podium was going to be tough with the level of competition signed up to race.

  I arrived at the race site in plenty of time to pick up my bib and do a little socializing. The weather was nearly perfect  with a starting temperature in the 50's and low humidity and the wind hadn't started picking up yet. I did my usual pre race warm up and then headed over to the start with just a few minutes to go. The women had just started 10 minutes earlier which helps to thin out the crowd on this narrow course so by the time we caught the slower runners and walkers it would not be a problem passing.

  As expected  all the fast Seniors I expected and a few more that I didn't know if they would be competitive or not had shown up to race.  And again as expected as soon as the race started Kevin and Robert were gone. Mike was just ahead but my main concern was to settle in and not get sucked out too fast in the first mile. I stayed very relaxed and was thrilled to hit the 1st mile in 7:24 and it felt a slower. Yes, I think it is going to be a good day !

 The legend , 71 year old Wade Clark was just ahead too. What an amazing runner ! By mile two I was holding steady and caught up to Mike. It was pretty cool running alongside of him and knowing we were both having the same goal of fnishing in front of the other !

 Around mile 3.5 I finally eased by Wade but he was still lookiing strong.  Around the same time I passed a couple of others that were possibly in my age group. At mile four Mike stopped for water and for a moment I thought maybe he was slowing but just about the 5 mile mark there he was right beside me again. My time at the half was still well ahead of my goal pace and only about 30 seconds slower than my fantasy goal.  I saw John Tate at the turnaround  and exchanged a quick greeting and then  Mike made a move and gradually began to pull away.

 I was hoping to keep him close and my pace for mile 6 was right where I wanted, 7:39 even with the sharp u turn but he was not coming back to me. It was a  bit strange the next few miles. I still felt pretty good and my turnover seemed the same but now my splits kept getting a little slower each mile. Although it appears basically flat, the whole trail has about a 1% grade to it and most of the return was back up that grade and it just slowly zaps the speed out of you. I was really trying to drop the pace but the extra effort was not making me go any faster. And at times it would seem like I was beginning to close the gap on Mike but then he would find more energy and open the gap again. And to make it even harder I noticed the forecasted wind had picked up and was right in our faces the last two miles.

  Finally I was able to see the finish line and although those last 3 miles were slower I knew I was going to beat myself from 2007 !

 It would be awhile before the results were ready so I spent more time hanging out with friends and talking to my fellow seniors. Turns out because the race doesn't duplicate awards after taking out the first 3 Senior Grandmasters, I was left in first place for the  age group ! Not exactly the most rewarding way to win but I'll take it ! And a big congratulations to those other guys. They are certainly on another level than me. But I think I might can take them in a hundred if I ever decide to race another one !

 Oh, and my time was 77:07, which was 41 seconds faster than I ran 10 years ago ! The amazing year of turning back the clock continues ! Stay tuned for the next adventure !

Friday, October 21, 2016

American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler preview and training update

 So, just what have I been up to since the Virginia 10 miler? Well, after racing strong on that very hard and hilly course I was curious as to what I could do on a flat 10 miler so I decided to enter this one. This race is put on by the North Carolina Roadrunners Club and this will be the 10th edition. I ran that first one back in 2007 with a time of  77:48. 

  My goal for this year is to continue the turn back the clock performances and beat that time. The weather forecast is about perfect so I think I have a good shot at doing that. I would like to say I have a good shot at the podium if I do but to be honest I will be very lucky and in a real battle to get 3rd. There are only 6 or 7 in my age group on the entrants list but it is some of the toughest competion of just about any race I have been in this year. At least two men aged up that are truly on another level than me (but I'm pretty sure I could take them in a 50 miler ) Another man  has been very close to my times and two years ago out sprinted me in a 5k and although I am not too familar with the other names on the list I think a couple of them are very fast. But thats ok, I am really competing with myself and even more so my 50 year old self ! 

 The training has been going quite well these past four week.I took an easy week after the race and then got back to work.  Mileage has been 28, 35, 29 and so far this week 21 so still not really getting in much in the way of long runs. With the longer race distances now I have changed my speedwork to stuff more specific to whats coming. I have done some tempo intervals on the greenway and have been back to the track a couple of times. Instead of 200's and 400's like I was doing in the summer I am doing mile repeats and 800's now and the workouts have been great !

  And as always in addition the the running I am still working hard with the cross training. I'm still seeing great results in the Bikram Hot Yoga and attending three or four classes per week and I have added a little more stretching and yin yoga that seems to be helping. Also doing the Tibetan Rites  four or five days a week and my body weight stuff at least 3 times per week. With all the extra stuff I haven't made it to the gym for weights in the past month but i hope to get back to that soon.

 So, that's it for now. Stay Tuned for race results and more training. This party is just getting started  

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Virginia 10 Miler- Where Southern Hospitality Meets The Road

 If you read my preview then you know I was pretty excited to finally be returning to this classic road race for the 20th time but my 1st since 2002. Like so many things there have been a lot of changes but the great course, the volunteers and race organization are still among the best in the country.

Just after the climb at 5 miles

 My main goal in this was to have some fun on the challenging course and see how fast I could run in comparison to my previous races here. And  I was hoping if things went well I might even make the podium, something I would never have imagined would be in a race this large and with such a competitive history.

  Race morning was a bit more humid, about 80% and warm in the mid 60's than I had hoped this late in the month but I still felt I was ready. I did my usual warmup routine on the adjacent E.C. Glass High School track and made my way over to the start with 1400 other 10 milers and about the same number in the 4 mile event. I was surprised to see Raleigh friend Laura Berry and Nick Meeker in front of me so I wished her luck in this her first time racing here. She would win her age group !

  As the race began I just tryied to relax. No point in pushing things here, just letting gravity help get me settled in. After a short little hill at qtr mile the next 1.25 are all downhill and most of that is pretty steep. You can get a little cushion but have to be careful and not pound the life out of your legs this early ! I was hoping for around a 7:30 first mile and nailed it in 7:27.   All well and good but how would the 2nd mile be when the first big uphill comes?

 I continued on at a relaxed pace to the bottom of Farm Basket Hill as it is called and at 1.5 it was time to start the half mile steep climb up to mile 2. I was feeling pretty strong and hoping for a good split and finally topped out in 8:04. This was great ! Maybe my fantasy of sub 80:00 was a possibility !
 Mile three is gently rolling but mostly uphill and I maintained pace just a little over 8. By now I was feeling really good and and settled into a nice groove and confident it was going to be a good day. Mile 4 has one short but steep hill and then a nice gradual downhill. Just before approaching the point where the races split I was passing one of the 4 mile racers . He was making the death sounds like I make near the end of some of my hard races when I am giving it all I've got in the last mile. I had to smile and was thinking  yep, thats probably going to be me at mile 9 !

 But right now I was on cloud 9 and with a 7:45 mile 4 I added a little to my cushion. And I knew I would need it in the next mile. Just about the 4.5 mark the course makes a loop through Riverside park. A slight uphill and then down down down. But the climb back up is brutal. For those of you familiar with North Turkey Creek in Umstead, the 5 mile mark is right in the middle of a climb like the steepest on on that trail. Up on your toes for the first 100yards and then not nearly as steep for another qtr mile after you pass that mark. I was happy to feel strong going up. Those training runs in Umstead in the weeks before paid off !  8:01  !

 The next 3 miles as we were heading back were mostly uneventful. I was staying pretty steady but losing a few seconds of my cushion each mile hitting between 8:05 and 8:10.    About the 7.5 mile  point a man that looked like he could be in my age group passed me so I tried to hang on just behind him. Right at the 2 mile point we both passed another grey hair but he was slowing.

 We started down the steep half mile downhill to the bottom and I was trying to maintain contact but not beat my quads up too bad. 19 previous times have taught me to save a little for that last long climb. We hit the bottom just a few strides apart. Now it would be who had the strength for the climb. Well, it wasn't me. I  just didn't have too much left and could only watch as he gradually pulled away. NowIi just had to settle in and try to finish as strong as possible. The sub 8 dream was truly just a fantasy today.

 To give you an idea about the last 1.5 miles, imagine running powerline in Umstead 3 times !  Slowly I trudged on but had to take about a 30 second walk break to get my heart rate under control and  find a pace I could hold the remainder of the climb. Despite that mile 9 was still a 9:16.

 It was such a beautiful sight when I came over the final bit of the hill and the slight curve and the finish line came into view. Just a couple of hundred yards of pain to go. I passed a 20 something man bent over throwing up  and I thought that I could have advised him not to drink the gatorade when you have a tough 1.5 mile clmb ahead of you !

 It seemed to take forever but I finally finished in 83:07. Slightly disappointd for a few seconds but that quickly turned into a big smile ! That time was faster than any of the races in my  4 year streak from 1999 through 2002 ! The miracle year of beating my younger self continues !

 After getting some food and drink I found a printout of my results and was amazed and delighted to be 2nd in my age group out of 37 ! But I'm afraid the next day after making time corrections  I was moved back to 4th so I just did miss making that podium !

 This is a wonderful race that will always be very special to me and I would recommned to anyone looking for a great experience on a challenging course.  I'm sure i will be back but not going to make a comittment as to when right now.