Sunday, November 26, 2017

Magic City Half Marathon Magic

 Sweet Home Alabama.

  No, actually I had never been to Alabama before so I was looking forward to visiting my 43rd State. The real reason I was racing here was because it was the 3rd race in the Running Journal Grand Prix Series which is my main focus until next May. I wasn't aware until a week before the race that it was also the Alabama RRCA Championship race for the Half Marathon so now I had a bit more of an incentive. This would be the biggest race of the series so far with about 900 entrants and I expected there would be some tough competition.

  I had limited time on this trip so I was happy that they had packet pickup on race morning at the start/finish which was located at Regions Field, the ball park for the Birmingham Barons AA team. It was a chilly 41 with about 13 mph wind so after I got my bib I sat in the car staying warm until about 30 minutes before the start when I began my normal warm up routine. There is a railroad heritage park adjacent to the ball park that is flat and beside it is a very busy railroad mainline so it was a good place to warmup.

  As I lined up near the front I was scoping out the competition and noticed a man next to me that looked very fast wearing racing flats and I glanced at his bib and thought I saw age 62, Hmmm. A few other white haired guys around.  Maybe I can make the podium.

 They fired a mini cannon  to start the race and I almost jumped out of my shoes it was so loud ! And then we were off headed to downtown. Within a quarter mile we hit the first hill. Although the city is in a valley it is mostly rolling terrain but some nice fairly flat stretches too. My goal was to try and run about 7:45 to 7:50 pace  and mile one was 7:54 and I felt good. And that fast looking guy? Gone ! Already out of sight so I knew there was no win in the cards for me today.

  Mile 2 and 3 were uneventful as the field began to stretch out a bit over some gentle rollers and then I was passed by a white haired older looking guy. Hmmm. Now I'm racing for 2nd or maybe 3rd. I just kept my eye on him and at the mile 4 water stop I passed him back and hoped that was that. But soon after he pulled by me again. At mile 5 I was about on pace and it was still a long way to go so I just decided to try and keep him in sight and not push too much yet, I knew the worst of the hills were in the last half of the race and I had 8 miles to try to reel him in.

  I was cruising along comfortably through miles 6 and 7 and the gap between us was holding at 8 to 10 seconds and then we came to the beginning of the two longest hills.  The one in mile 8 wasn't too steep but was about half a mile long and I ran my first mile over 8 pace in 8:10 so not too bad. He seemed a little stronger but on the backside I was making good time. We had a u turn just before mile 9 and I had closed the gap to within 6  seconds again. They really must love their baseball around here as the turn was at an old ball park. and we had passed another larger one that I believe is for UABirmingham.

 So I'm still feeling pretty good and pick the pace back up on that 9th mile in 7:46 and hopeful I can still run under 1:44 but then we hit that backside of that hill and it was longer and steeper. I had nothing going up and watched as my opponent slowly pulled away as I slowed down for an 8:29 10th mile. I tried to hammer as hard as I could going down and onto the flat and was happy to hit it in 7:46 but I wasn't making up any ground. I was feeling the wind, my hands were getting cold again as the temperature was still in the low 40's  and I was getting tired.

 Two miles to go and I was trying to push but I was slowing and nothing I could do to change things. It was a very slight upgrade but no more hills so I just put my head down and ran. Finally I could see the stadium and one more mile to go and by now the death noises were coming. As we circled around the ball park lots of spectators were giving me weird looks and a few were encouraging as I was now intent on my realistic goal of running under 1:45. Not exactly the outcome I came for with it looking like a 3rd place but that would give me enough points to guarantee I would remain in first in the standings.

 Finally it was time to run through the tunnel and enter the stadium along the warning track and circle around to the finish at home plate.1:44:47. I'll take that. As soon as I got my medal and water I walked over to the guy that I was sure was 2nd place to congratulate him. He asked me how old I was and when I told him 61 he was happy that he stayed ahead of me because he was just 59 ! Yay ! Maybe I got 2nd after all. Then I headed over to the results tent and let out a woohoo  when I saw I was 1st Senior Grandmaster. Turns out the guy at the start was only 52 not 62 !

 How cool is that !? 1st Place out of 25 seniors and Alabama State Champion !

 I can highly recommend this race for anyone looking for a good half marathon in Alabama. Very well organized, nice medals, excellent post race party and food and they have food trucks and entertainment for the kids

 Stay Tuned for more exciting action to come.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Magic City Half Marathon Preview and training update

 It's time to race once again in the 3rd event in the Running Journal Grand Prix Series. This time I'll be traveling to Birmingham Alabama for the Magic City Half Marathon.  This will be the largest of the races so far with between 900 and 1000 runners expected in the half and  well over another thousand in the 5k.  All of the half marathons in the series give runners placing in thier division a bonus of 25 points so this will be important in getting maximum points and hopefully extending my lead.

Of course I have to perform for that to happen !

 I am expecting to do well though, My training is going well and the week after Old Reliable I had my biggest mileage week since January including a good long run, some strong Umstead hills and some good pace work on the greenway. And of course the yoga is going strong with lots of Bikram, even more yin and the last two weeks I added a vinyasa warm flow class to add some variety.

 The course for the race is not flat but a pretty fast course for the area. Looks like about 450 feet of climb w hich should be easier than the Arkansas race. I'm going to say if things go well then expect a 1:42 to 1:43 for this one. It looks like the weather is going to cooperate. Low 40's to start and ending in the low 50's.

 Here is the race website.

 Wish me luck ! This will be a short trip flying in Saturday afternoon and returning Sunday night so no time for sightseeing this trip. But if all goes well I have two more trips to Alabama in the series.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Old Reliable, Better known as City of Oaks 10k report

 Other than the sponsorship I assume for the Old Reliable run, the race really doesn't have anything to do with the old Old reliable run and nobody seems to relate to it other than as the City of Oaks 10k. Even my award medal just says City of Oaks.

 Oh well, enough of that. Important thing is that I won. ! The End.

Ok, a little more then.

 It looks like a near perfect morning for it other than 100% humidity but with the temperature at 50 degrees that wasn't a problem. I arrived in plenty of time to make my way over to the bell tower area. Talked to a few friends and then headed out with 30 minutes to go for a warm up mile as usual. I usually like to get in a few strides about 5 to 10 minutes before the start but it was pretty crowded and with 3 races starting together I made my way near the front so no chance for them this time.

 I looked around but didn't recognize any of my age group regular competition but I did see a couple that looked like they probably were. But I can't race the unknown so I just focus on running my best and see how it shakes out at the end.

 The first mile is mostly a nice downhill except for a short steep hill on Ash Ave. I felt strong early and cruised right up it and then pushed down the backside. Even feeling good I was surprised at how easy the 1st mile was in 7:06. I expected maybe 7:25-7:30 so that was a boost and it was game on.

 The course continues with more gradual downhill along Western Blvd before turning UP onto Boylan Ave. Its quite the nasty hill and I just put my head down and maintained effort. I passed mile 2 in 7:34, so I still had a cushion on my fantasy finishing time of 46:30. My realistic goal was 47:30 and really on this course I figured sub 48 would be awesome.

 It was nice to see former co worker Molly volunteering at the summit  soon afterwards. The next mile would be more rolling hills but nothing as tough as the one just behind me. I was locked in and feeling great ! Mile 3 was another 7:34. I saw NCRC friend Johanna working as a monitor there and she snapped a picture for me. One of the cool things about racing in the hometown area is the number of friends either volunteering or racing. I enjoyed hearing my name called out all along the course and I was doing a lot of waving ! 

 The next mile climbs up to Fayetteville St and then flattens out for the next  mile. With all the people living downtown now I expected some  to be out cheering but it was like a ghost town  through that stretch. Finally had some good cheering as I ran past Runologie. Good support from that group !

 I was hoping for a little better time but it was still a decent 7:30 but although I was very pleased to still feel good I knew what was coming. The climb up Clark Ave is serious and especially when you are redlining at race pace ! The only good thing about it was the large crowds cheering that section with the parking, spectators and water station by the busy Cameron Village area. Lots of friends calling out and I tried to acknowledge them but I was hurting trying to maintain pace and I was making my death noises as usual. Mile 5 was 7:49. I was thrilled because I was sure it would be over 8 minutes. My fantasy goal was now lost but I was still looking at much better than I had hoped and a sub 47 was still a possibility !

 I continued to grind my way to the top of the hill and just at the summit and before turning toward Hillsborough a young guy in his 20's running in the 5k caught up to me and said I was awesome and I was his inspiration. I thanked him and then as we started down a slight down grade I passed him back ! Always good to hear these kind of compliments. I work hard at this stuff !

 Now I was really digging deep. I wanted sub 47 but knew it would be close. I hit mile 6 in 7:47. . I went by the 3 mile mark for the 5k and knew there was one tenth to go, roughly 45 seconds at 7:30 pace. I just put the hammer down running on fumes now. And then Boom ! across the line in 46:54 at which time I immediately began dry heaving worse than I have in a very long time. I tried to move but had to keep bending over wretching. Several volunteers and a couple of runners ask if I was ok and each time I would heave and say yes I'm good ! Not sure they believed me. I was telling Laura later at yoga that I was  was proud that at least this time I wasn't rolling around on the ground like I was gonna die like that time she tried killing me in a workout.

 After I finally was able to stop gagging I grabbed some water and made my way to the results tent. Woohoo ! 1st place.
It would be awhile later after everyone finished that I got the details. 1st of 19 age group. 39th of 994 overall. Not too shabby and I was thrilled with not just finishing 1st but that I
exceeded my time.

 So mission accomplished. I had fun, got in a great workout and another win. This is getting pretty cool !
 Stay tuned sports fans. Next up is The Magic City Half Marathon In Birmingham Ala. on the 19th, the next race in the Running Journal Grand Prix series.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Old Reliable 10k preview and some training.

   I'm getting set to race the Old Reliable 10k tomorrow morning. I thought it would be something fun and a good workout in between the more important races I have in the Running Journal Grand Prix Series. I have run the Old Reliable several times in the past including the first few races back in the early 80's. This one really has nothing in common with those early races other than the name and its in Raleigh. It is now on a totally different course and is run in conjunction with the City of Oaks Marathon.

 Here is the website.

  The course is quite hilly making its way from the bell tower on Hillsborough St into downtown and around back to the finish. I'm feeling good about my training and hope to run well but it is a tough course so I expect it will be a bit slower than I would like. I think on a flat course I could probably do about a 46:30 to 47:00. Lets go out on a limb here and predict a 47:30 !

 They only give awards to 1st place in the age groups so its all or nothing there. Looking at previous years results , if I can run under 48 I should win but of course there are several guys that could show up and go much faster than that so we shall see how that goes.

 As for the training, things are going well. My mileage is still not as high as I would prefer but hangin around in the low 30's per week right now. The quality of the runs is good though with strong miles and some good speedwork. I finally got in a decent long run of 16 miles last week so that was encouraging.

 Because of being quite busy at work and increasing the running my number of bikram yoga classes is down a bit to 3 or 4 times a week but I knew I would have to cut back once the running was back to normal. I still get in about 6 yin  yoga classes a week so the yoga is still good and a big art of keeping me strong and healthy.

 The body weight and weight lifting have really taken a back seat though.  I tweaked a shoulder a little over a month ago so I wasn't doing anything and although it is back 100% now I just haven't found time to get to the gym. I do try and do a little core work and right now I'm doing daily planks for the month of Nov. Planksgiving challenge.

 Tha'ts it for now. I'll post the results from the race soon.