Monday, December 31, 2018

2018. The Year in Review.

The year didn't exactly start off with a bang.I was a bit tired and worn down after the Rocket City Marathon in December which I was no where near prepared for and January's weather was really not very good giving me less motivation to get out to run. Finally near the middle of the month I found myself getting my mojo back and that was good because I was only halfway through with my big goal, the  Running Journal Grand Prix Series. Only 64 miles for the month of Jan was my lowest in 2 decades that didn't include an injury.

 More bad weather as I drove to the first race of the year and the 5th of 8 races in the series, the Winter Flight 8k.  Fortunately the cold rain slacked off and conditions weren't bad for the race I placed 2nd in my age group and wasn't too far off expectations on the time with 38:25.

 Nothing but trying to refocus on the training.

 This month got off to a great start with another trio to Alabama and the Birmingham Wine 10k. It was a perfect day,  I ran well and got the win for Seniors which put me back solidly in the lead for the Series.  47:36.

 A week later I was in Germantown TN, near Memphis for the half marathon. Warm muggy morning and I wilted the last 5k but a 4th place finish locked me in for the series win. 1:48:29

 With no races in the series this month I could just do some new things and have fun. I had a free entry for the St Paddys 4 miler in downtown Raleigh. A cold start but I felt great and ran much better than expected and got the win. 29:37 A week later I was in my old hometown for the Greater Goldsboro 10k. Not quite as fast as I hoped but with no competition I got another win.  48:59. Then I ended the month with a trip to Morehead City for a fun visit and a 5k. Got another win in 23:08.

 Only one race and I was focused. The finale of the Series, The Cotton Row Run 10k in Huntsville AL. It was a great race as expected but a truly miserable hot muggy morning , also as expected had me much slower than I had hoped. A tough field but I got 20 points for finishing 7th Senior in 50:08. This is the one race I will return to in 2019 for redemption on that hill !

 Once again after the elation of winning the Series Championship I found my motivation lacking over the Summer with it's constant warm and humid conditions every single day.
 My only goal was to try and go under 22 in a 5k on the track but I was not really prepared for it. I did race in one of the Sir Walter Miler Pop up meets and ran well enough under the conditions in 22:37, my best in over a year and a half.

 Bailed again on a trip to grandfather mountain as once again I was no where near ready for a marathon. let alone that tough one.

 Traveled to Massachusetts to prove once again that running a marathon unprepared is a really bad idea. 4:50:10 painful muggy  26.2 miles.


 I'd hoped for better but with the lack of Summer miles I knew my return to the Virginia 10 Miler was not going to be what I had planned it to be. But although two minutes slower than 2016, I felt good and ran a smart well paced race and was happy with my 85:10.

 Only planned one race, the Ironclad Half Marathon in Kinston. Yet another warm and muggy morning but I did ok until the last couple of miles and ran what I realistically thought in 1:51:26 and a 3rd place AG.

  Yay, finally a day with good weather ! I ran the very hilly City of Oaks Half and felt good, paced well and improved to 1:49:15 and another 3rd place AG.
 After Thanksgiving I returned to the Foot Locker XC race in Charlotte. Miserable cold rain and wind but a month later I think it was fun.   Well watching the Frey girls race after the rain stopped was fun  anyway. 24:07 was well off my 2016 time

 I entered the Hope For Education 5k in Raleigh for some fun and one more chance for a fast 5k. Hmm, should have looked at the course. Very Hilly so not very fast 23:48 but I got the win.

 And finished up the year with a rare trail half marathon at Carolina Beach. Unseasonably warm and muggy for the last weekend of Dec and a tougher than expected course. But I felt good and was pleased with the effort just missing sub 2 with a 2:00:06 and the win.

 So that's how it was sports fans. Stay Tuned for what is to come in 2019

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Hope For Education 5k. No hope for a fast one !

  After back to back slow 5k cross country races I wanted a little redemption and decided to add this local 5k to my race calendar near the end of the year. If I was hoping for a chance to run fast then I should have researched the course a little closer because it turned out to be quite the hilly one !

  This was a first time event put on by Fellowship Church in the Longview neighborhood in a partner ship with St. Augustine U. to provide a scholarship to a student in need to be able to continue their education. I was mainly attracted to it because of the location , close by and an area I've never raced in my 41 years of racing.I don't usually mention this in discussions of my early years running but I actually had  a failed attempt at beginning to run the summer before that I consider my running to have begun. In 1976, the first Summer of my marriage, we lived in a duplex just off of New Bern Ave not far from Longview shopping center. I had a one mile loop that was pretty flat that I ran with my hair still down my back in a pair of keds high tops. I think that lasted about three weeks before I dropped it. I have no records of those runs, just vague memories of being very sweaty ! Anyway, so with my mind thinking flat I was surprised just how hilly it was just across the street !

  So, back to the race at hand. It was raining lightly but mostly a drizzle and the temperature was close to 48F so it was actually not bad for running. After getting checked in I went for my usual warm up and tried to avoid the hills as much as possible. As I went to the start it was obviously a small field and also a young looking one. ( more on that later)

  The race began with a downhill which felt nice but it would also be finishing back up that same hill !  I was feeling pretty good and had a bit of zip despite fighting off a cold all week. The first uphill wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but it was obvious that the whole course was going to be up and down, up and down. I hit mile 1 in 7:21 which made me happy. That was roughly my goal pace and I felt strong.

 But the hills just kept coming and although I was pushing the pace I did slow down in mile 2 to 7:39.   I was holding out hope that mile 3 might be a bit easier but nope. I was going hard but still slowed some more to 7:48.  The final .1 hurt going uphill but I was satisfied with my effort on this day. There was no age group racing excitement as I never saw anyone to chase and I was just focusing on my pace. Way off my goal of sub 23 with a chip time of 23:48.  I guess it will have to wait until next Spring or Summer.

 As I mentioned this seemed like a young crowd. There was a large group fo the NC STATE XC Club team running that dominated the front of the race. When I looked at the results there were 85 finishers and of those about 55 were under 40 and only 6 were over 50. Not the usual mix that you see in most road races. My time was good enough to win 3rd place Master with a 42 and 41 year old ahead of me And because of no double dipping in the awards no one won the 60 and over age group because I was the only one in the race !

  Despite the hills, which after looking at several others strava maps,it looks like the average is just over 200 feet of climbing which is quite a bit for 5k,I have to give them a two thumbs up on the event. Everything went off well with the organization and volunteers.  And it was nice to race in a part of town that never gets seen in other events.

Monday, November 26, 2018

5k's and Cross Country. Who would have guessed?

 Well, it has been an unusual year but more on that at the end of year review. For now lets talk XC. It seems I've now have raced a 5k XC course 3 times in the past 5 weeks and at mid year I had not planned on any of them.

 On Oct.23rd I ran the Sir Walter Miler Pop Up XC Championship race for fun and representing the NCRC team. It was just 3 days after a warm humid half marathon and I wasn't expecting to do very well. The course is  3 laps on energy sucking thick grass and I was not feeling it during my warm up and a nice night for running. I ran hard and was a bit surprised at the pace on the first lap but it felt hard but then as lap 2 began I suddenly felt very good. Each of the next two laps were slightly faster and my final time of 24:12 was very satisfying. I was really expecting to be hard pressed to go under 26!!

   Two weeks later in what was definitely a last minute decision I ran the Global Run 4 Water at Wake Med Soccer Park. Bella wanted to race a non school event and Laura asked me to help find a race and this one popped up. I have been a spectator at meets there and run the course a couple of times but never raced so I decided this would be a good day for it. It was on Nov. 10th, just 6 days after the City Of Oaks half on a chilly , windy morning.
  I wasn't expecting any competition but when I approached the start I saw a friendly rival, Tim Beck whom I have raced many times over the years at these shorter distances. More times than not he is ahead of me but on a good day like the last time we met at the Run For the Roses I can get a win.
  At the start he moved well ahead pretty quickly so I figured it was going to be his day. Its a fast downhill start on this course and at the half mile I was well ahead of expected pace. By the 1 mile I was closer to what I hoped was my overall pace in 7:20. Mile 2 is the tough one on this course with a grind up the hill by the field and then a couple of steeper but shorter hills on the backside. At 1.5 I noticed I was closing the gap on Tim a bit so I was pushing as hard as I could.
 Mile 2 was a slow 8:00 but I had cut Tim's lead in half. From the top of the hill at 2 it's a nice gradual flat and downhill for the next 3/4 mile and I just put the hammer down and half mile later I had to decide whether to stay behind him or make the move now and hope I could hang on.  I figured I couldn't rely on a kick today so I made the pass with authority.
  But 1/4 mile later as we began the 2nd trip up the hill and into a now 20mph headwind I could hear him coming back and when he went by I tried to hang on but it was not going to be. He ran strong to the finish while I felt like I was crawling up the hill. Mile 3 was a decent 7:37 and final time was 23:39, just 9 seconds l slower than I had planned so not a bad day on a tough course.

  And then this past weekend, Nov. 24th it was a return trip to the Foot Locker South Regional at McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte. I ran there two years ago and was happy with a 22:39. I knew going in that I wasn't quite in that kind of shape but was hoping for at least a sub 23.
 The weather had other ideas. I awoke to 34F and heavy rain with wind gust in the teens. I arrived at the park and was dreading getting out of my car and I did wait until the last minute to get out and get my 1 mile warm up before lining  up at the start. Brrrr, that was some cold rain. The course was puddles and standing water for a good portion and soft everywhere else.

 I took off at a good pace but had to run in the grass and mud for the 1st qtr mile to get around some slower folks. They run the open and masters, male and female in the same race but do the results separate for each class according to chip times so a wide variety of competitors. I got my first bit of feedback at the 1 kilometer post and it wasn't good. I needed at least 4:35 but it was 4:42. I tried to push it but it was just slow going as I hit mile 1 in 7:42. about 20 seconds slower than in my workout on Tuesday ! It was very deflating and jogging the rest of the way crossed my mind for a nano second. I was cold and miserable and running as hard as I could  knowing there was no reward or fast time awaiting me. But as always I chose to put the hammer down harder and make the most of it. I was steadily passing people and that help keep me focused.

 The one big hill comes at almost the halfway point. I felt ok going up and it's only about 200yds long. Because of the slickness the steep downhill was a bit trickier than usual but once I made it safely it was hammer time again. I used the momentum up the 2nd shorter hill and then rolled down to the lake for the first time.    I hit  mile 2 in 8:05 and headed out for the back loop which was really in dicey condition but its pretty flat other than a slight rise about halfway around. I just kept pushing and still passing a few folks. It was kind of weird because other than being cold and wet I actually felt pretty good and was running a strong race but the course was sucking about 20 seconds per mile out of my effort. That's just the nature of these things.

 And like most 5k's they are over pretty soon and there I was at mile 3 in 7:42. And then in the last tenth a guy passed me, the only one since the 1st k. I tried to hang but couldn't muster  any more speed. Done in a disappointing time of 24:07, but considering the conditions I was quite happy with the effort I put into it. I know I gave it my best. I placed 35th out of 49 in the masters as I was racing everyone from 40 up. They didn't even list peoples ages but I didn't notice but one or two guys that looked near 60 .  After changing into dry clothes and warming up I got out to watch the Frey girls compete which is always fun and thankfully the rain had stopped.

 Most likely I will race once more this year. Its a 5k but not cross country. I really hope I can at least get the sub 23 so stay tuned. It won;t be long before it's time for the year in review and looking a head to a big year in 2019.

Friday, November 09, 2018

City Of Oaks Half Marathon. It's coming along

  After winning the 10k for Seniors at this event last year I decided that I would try making the podium in the half my goal for this year.  Of course , I was expecting I would be in better shape but as you know I'm not quite where I wanted to be going into this.  This is a tough course with hills after hills and making my fantasy goal of sub 150 was looking like a fantasy for sure. A year ago I would have been thinking 1:44 but that was not even a fantasy at this point. Two weeks ago I came close to the 1:50 on a warm humid morning until slowing considerably the last 5k.

  One thing I had going for me on race morning was near perfect weather conditions. Mid 40's warming to mid 50's is about ideal for this distance. I didn't do much of a warm up and then arrived later to the start than I should and found myself stuck in a tight pack with at least 1,000 runners in front of me. Chip timing but it was going to take a while to work my way to clear running.

  As we began moving forward I just stay patient , picking my spots to pass as an opening presented itself. the 1st mile was very tight and slow but I never saw the marker and as usual I was not wearing my garmin. By the time I made the turn onto the wide Western Blvd stretch I fond more room and began to make up a little time. But then I caught up to the  large 2:00 pace group and realized they were not going to go any faster. I finally made a move to go over to the far outside lane and made my way around and after that It was clear sailing.

 I hit mile 2 in 17:00 which was the overall pace I ran two weeks ago. not bad considering I had to work my way through the crowd. I was feeling good and relaxed and handling the hills ok so far,
 Shortly after mile 3  in 8:19 as we approached the Capital, the 10k runners split off and a noticeable thinning of the crowd. Mile 4 is probably the fastest on the course but I missed that mark. Mile 5 showed 16:16 for those last two miles which put me right on the 8:23 pace I would need for the sub 1:50. I was still feeling good and my confidence was growing that just maybe I could do it.

 It was right about here that I noticed a grey hair just ahead that I was positive was in my age group so I had something to focus on. The next few miles were just relentlessly hilly so I couldn't push too hard but still feeling good. Mile 6 was 8:14 and 7 was 8:09 so I was staying below goal pace and building a small cushion. Around mile 8 it looked like I was closing the gap on my competitor and maybe he was slowing down a bit?   That was a tough one and it took 8:23. No problem but I didn't want to slow down just yet.

  Over the next few miles, the grey hair was looking stronger on the hills and I was making back a bit on the flats but overall he was gradually pulling away. Mile 9 and 10 were 8:18, and 8:20 giving me just a little more cushion. best of all I was pretty sure there was not going to be a meltdown in the last 5k this time. The only downside was I was not going to catch my competition as the gap had grown too wide by mile 11 in 8:27.

 The final two miles were back on Hillsborough street and I just dug in trying to maintain pace, knowing I had that sub 1:50 in the bag. The questions were by how much and how many other seniors were up ahead. Mile 13 was 8:23 and then the last .1 to a strong finish of 1:49:16 Woohoooo ! I was thrilled with that. Now  to see the standings. I spotted the guy I chased and we talked for a few minutes. I was happy to find he was only 57 ! We had a good laugh about that and then I headed over to the timing tent. Yay ! I got third !

 Now, I just have to keep building on this success and by Spring I should be right where I want to be.
 Hmm, wonder if I should go for a podium in the full next year?
 Stay Tuned sports fans.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Ironclad Half Marathon, or time to get serious again

This was a race I'd been looking at as a possibility since it was first started 4 years ago but never quite fit the schedule until this time.  Many years ago I had serviced some stores in Kinston and surrounding towns and grew up in nearby Goldsboro but I'd never raced there in all these years. Of course when I signed up for it I had high hopes of running a fast time on a fairly easy course and typically cool Late October weather.

  Of course it would have worked out better if I'd done the training over the Summer.  Based on the Early Spring I had expected to go under 1:44 but now under 1:54 seemed questionable and the weather wasn't exactly cooperating with 100% humidity and  hitting 70F. At least it was overcast.

 As I lined up with about 300 others I was hoping  that I  may be able to go under 1:50 based on my better than expected performance at the VA 10 miler 3 weeks earlier and maybe still get a podium finish but realistically I figured 8:30 pace or about 1:51:30. I scoped out the competition and noticed a couple of fit looking gray hairs as always.

  A replica Civil War cannon sent us on our way and I went out at what felt like a reasonable pace. One of the old guys took off and it was obvious that he was going to beat me today. Within a mile I lost sight of him ! Shortly after what I assume was about 1 mile another one passed me but our paces were close I didn't see a mark until we hit mile 2 in 16:11. Hmm, not bad. A bit faster than expected. there was a slight hill in mile 3 and I slowed down some but the other guy was only a few seconds ahead. I didn't want to make a move this early to make a race of it and by mile 4 I told myself to be patient, that I had 9 miles to reel him in.

 And that's pretty much how things went for most of the race.  By mile 5 I had slowed down to close to 8:30 pace so a sub 1:50 probably wasn't happening unless I had a strong second half. My target was still right in the same area usually within 10 seconds of me. At mile 8 I closed the gap to about 5 or 6 seconds but then mile 9 surprised me with a half mile long hill ! Not ever steep but serious enough. He was stronger and opened up a big gap, at least 20 seconds or more.

  I hit mile 10 in 1:24:26 and thought at least my realistic goal was still a possibility if I had a good last 5k.  And despite the pace continuing to get slower I was closing the gap slightly. Finally at mile 10 I was back to about 15 seconds or less and figured it was hopeless but no guts no glory, I tried to push one more time. That lasted less than 1/4 mile before nausea and a side stitch forced me to back off and watch hopelessly as he pulled away.

 The finish was in  the minor league baseball stadium and I tried to look good as I made my way around to the end. 1:51:26 ! pretty much nailed the realistic goal. And I was soaked form the sweat. Who knows, maybe If I'd drank some water on the course things would have gone a little better?

 I  made my way over to congratulate the guy and he was 60 and a local. We had a nice conversation and then I went to get on some dry clothes and wait for my friends. Had a nice time hanging around with Stephanie and the Akers family and then picking up my award for 3rd place. Yep,that guy at the start was my age and from Cincinatti Ohio.

 The next morning I was recounting the story to Laura at the yoga studio and when I told her the guy ran an off the charts 1:36 for the age group win she just said something like, well there you go, something to shoot for. You can do it.  She's awesomely inspiring like that.Hmm, I don't know about  that but I know I got a lot better in me yet. Now it's time to keep making the run a priority and see what happens. Lots of racing still to come !

  And if you are looking for a nice small down home race this is an excellent one. Nothing but great things to say about the organization.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Virginia 10 Miler 2018

 When I signed up for this race, which is my 21st time here I believe, I had two goals in mind. One was to beat my time of 83:07 from 2016 and two, to move up from 4th in age group to at least 3rd for a podium finish. Well, neither of these were achieved so you might think I was feeling let down and not pleased with the results afterwards but actually I'm feeling pretty good about things right now. My time was 2 minutes slower but somehow I still finished 4th in the AG. It would  have taken an 82:32 to place 3rd.  Just as a quick side note all three ahead of me are from the Lynchburg area.

 So. you may be asking why I'm happy with it. Of course I would like to have done as well as originally planned but as you may or may not have noticed my run training has fallen way off since completing  the Grand Prix Series  that ended on Memorial Day. I can think of several reasons, ie excuses, mainly a miserable summer but bottom line is I just didn't do what I needed to do to make the run a priority and as race day approached it was obvious  I would not be close to beating  the time from 2016.

 As the week rolled by I was really looking at a  most miserable race ahead and wouldn't have been surprised to fall apart and struggle even if I approached it as a training run. But I chose to be a bit more optimistic and with a bit of favorable weather, and a sensible pacing plan that I may be able to run 85:00.

 Well something worked and I ran 85:10, felt good the whole race and I didn't need a walk break on the last climb which gains about 200ft in 1.5 miles. There are several things that I believe helped with what I consider a successful run today. It was a bit cooler than last year but still very humid but I never felt overheated even though it was around 70 and sunny when I was done. (totally drenched).
 I did run a sensible pace and all my splits were pretty consistent when you factor in the extreme changes in the elevation profile. I seemed to have lost most of the 2 minutes between miles 2 and 8. I was actually about the same for the last two miles !

  I think I also got a bit of an endurance boost from the Marathon five weeks ago. And lastly I'm pretty sure that the fitness classes I've been doing 2 or 3 times a week, the Grind And Unwind 30/30 at Raleigh Yoga Company helped get me up the hills in good shape. Lately I've not felt as strong as normal on the limited hill training I've been doing but in the class we have been getting a steady diet of lunges, squats and calf raises as well as some good cardio with the HIIT portion. Without it I'm sure I would have had to take a few walk breaks that last mile instead of holding steady. And I was up on my toes on the steepest hill at mile 5 that is like the steepest on North Turkey Creek!

   Here is just a short review. I'll spare the blow by blow. Start was about 60F and I ran down the hill under control in 7:37 for mile one. Mile 2 is about equally steep down then steep up. hit mile 2 in 8:31 feeling good and settled in. Mile 3 is  mostly uphill but not steep with some nearly flat sections. Nearly. Hit 3 in 8:27. Mile 4 is the easiest other than the 1st all downhill mile with a climb and then mostly a slight downhill grade. Hit it in 8:08

 Along here is where you start to see the elites as they are coming back at the 6 mile mark. They beat me to it this year ! Just past mile 4 I saw local friend and Grandmasters ace, Tim Meigs looking strong and probably in the top 20 overall ! Soon after I saw all the ladies from Raleigh Distance Project going by. I gave a shout out to Rita who I've known since she was still in High School !

 Started the loop around Riverside Park and was dreading the super steep hill at mile 5. I pushed it a bit on the downhill before and then began the climb. Wow, I actually felt good and up on the toes. Tons of volunteers really cheering people up. Hit 5 in 8:21. That was a confidence boost.

 Mile 6 was 8:28.   Just before mile 7 is a fairly steep hill but not too long. For the first time my legs were beginning to feel a bit dead and in the back of my mind I was thinking that could spell disaster at the end. I'd done the math and 85 was possible but not if I blew up on that last climb. Mile 7 was 8:33. I quickly recovered and was back up to pace running strong in mile 8 which is one of the easier ones other than a hill up to the mile marker, Hit that in 8:22.

 The 85 was in the bag now if I could hold it together. As always I tried to push as hard as I could down the steep half mile before the beginning of the  climb but also trying not to beat the legs up too bad. And then  the long grind began. The half mile up to the is the worst of it, probably a bit steeper than powerline in Umstead. But I was moving steady and made it to the mark in 9:20. Woohoo ! One more to go !

 The steep part continues for a bit longer and then it eases of to just a normal hill lol. With half mile to go it gets a bit steeper again but even though I was tired and feeling it I never felt the need to walk.  You get a short slight downhill and then a slight uphill for the final 200yrds to the finish. I tried to push it hoping to crack the 85 minute barrier but ran out of real estate but 85:10 was close enough for today.

 Call me crazy but I think I  still have a sub 80 in me for this race or at least close to it. It won't happen unless I continue to stay healthy and get my weekly mileage back up to the 45-50 miles per week range again for an extended period. It's a full year away but I'm pretty sure you can plan on seeing me back in Lynchburg at least one more time.

 And for the immediate future, this was  a big confidence boost that I can do some decent training and racing  soon. I feel good and with cooler temperatures coming now I'm getting motivated to make the run a priority again.

Friday, September 14, 2018

New England Green River Marathon.

 This is a story of how not to run a marathon that you are nowhere near trained for competing. As you know from reading my preview( you have read it haven't you?) my plan was to just go and do a run/ walk from the beginning to help with the inevitable meltdown of the second half of the race but  as I rode the bus to the start things changed. Being a hard headed competitor and at times not too bright and too optimistic for my own good I just decided to go for the BQ and suffer whatever the consequences may be.

   It was a beautiful morning, in the upper 50's as we waited for the start but by race time it was warming and there was no escape from the humid conditions at home as we were about 99% here in Vermont. With the RD blowing a vuvuzela, we were off into the forest and heading downhill hill onto a dirt road. I really wasn't having to push and indeed was trying to hold back as the gravity assist made my 8:45 BQ pace seem easy.

 After a couple of miles we came out onto a paved road and joined alongside the Green River which would be our companion for the next 17 to 18 miles. By now I was settled in and feeling good. A young farmer from the area pulled up beside me and started a conversation. It was his first marathon and I enjoyed talking with him for the next few miles before I told him I had to back off the pace as we had gradually been picking up speed. Around mile 5 we were back on the dirt and I was still cruising along at about 8:35 to 8:40 pace.

 Although the course was a net downhill of 1,400 feet, there was still 650 feet of climbing so it was not an "easy" course by any means and we hit the first significant hill on an out and back spur around mile 7. By mile 8 we were back along the river and I was just trying to enjoy the views. With only 350 starters the field was quite spread out with me in about 120th position.

 By mile 10 I was already feeling the effects and drenched from the high humidity and I was already thinking it was time to just shut it down but decided to try and maintain at least until the half. At mile 11 we ran across a covered bridge built in 1830 with views of a log crib dam from 1810 ! One of the highlights of the course and a few cheering spectators. I tried to look good for the camera but I was already slowing down.

 A couple of miles later and I reached the half in about 1:56, still below BQ pace but the last 3 miles had been slowing into the 9:10-9:15 range  so I gave in to reality and began to walk. Maybe if I could maintain 12 minute mile pace with a run/walk I could still get in around 4:30 without feeling too bad. And that worked ok for a few miles but then we hit one of the nasty long hills at mile 17 and things definitely were going downhill pace wise, physically and mentally. Now I was just ready for this thing to be over. I was hot, tired, soaked from sweat and the prospect of  mostly walking another 9 miles was not very appealing.

 But I trudged on as each mile slowly passed by. Mile 20 to 21 was nearly all uphill and   At the top we emerged from the woods into an aid station and a couple of dozen spectators.  Several said I was looking good to which I replied. thanks but I wasn't really feeling too good.  they insisted I looked a lot better than most that had recently passed by.

 The last 5 miles were pretty flat and or slightly downgrade but also in the sun and some traffic. My biggest problem was keeping my attitude from going completely South ! Finally the last turn onto the College Campus. Time was of no concern  but the finish line was just ahead. 4:50:10 and done.

 So, I got the butt whipping I knew was coming but I got it done and hopefully things will soon cool off at home and I can actually get in some proper training for the upcoming Fall races.

 As for this one, I give it 5 stars and two thumbs up. For a small first time charity event they had everything worked out perfectly. The venue and course were great, the shuttles went without a hitch. Drop bag service, aid stations, schwag and post race food  were all excellent. Just don't look at the net downhill and expect easy ! 

Friday, August 24, 2018

New England Green River Marathon Preview

 It's seems I have a new bad habit of entering marathons that I am ill prepared for these past couple of years and here I am once again with a race to run with no training. I'm fit, don't get me wrong ,it's just that I have done zero long runs this year unless you consider a 13 miler about 6 weeks ago and two Early Spring Half Marathons as long runs. Yep, not going to be pretty.

   I had chosen this race back in the Early Spring when I was racing well and had hopes of finding a Boston Qualifier before the Mid September cutoff for entries for the 2019 event. I wanted the best shot for cooler weather and a fast course and this race in Greenfield MA was the best thing I could find.  I was fit and had the speed I would need, just not the endurance to carry that speed for  full marathon. All I had to do was do the long runs. But, I was worn down from the hard racing in the RJ GP Series and the late Spring and all Summer has just been miserable for running. Every time I planned a long run I would fail miserably and lost all motivation to run more than an hour. I finally begin to run a little better but then , whoops it's time to race.

 So here I am on my way. I'm just going to go and try to have fun and get the miles in and a finish without hurting anything and then hopefully use it as a beginning to real marathon training for the Fall and a December qualifying attempt.

 This will be a good one for that as it is a scenic, low key race in a beautiful rural setting in the Green Mt/ Berkshires of Southern VT and Western MA. A point to point event with the State Line at about the halfway point of the course. The course follows the river for most of the distance with a net downhill grade although it does include 4 major hills with over 600 ft of climb mixed in. I'll just have fun, take pictures and  plan a run/walk strategy from the beginning to minimize the pain with no concern about time.
 Stay tuned for pictures and a report soon. Oh, race date is Sunday 8-26 at 7am.
Here is the race website

Thursday, August 09, 2018

40th Running Journal Grand Prix Series Wrap up

" Want to see my picture on the cover. Wanna buy five copies for my mother. Wanna see my smiling face on the cover of the Rolling Stone", umm Running Journal !

And finally what we've all been waiting for  ! Taadaaa ! I made it on the cover !

 As I have posted before, I never dreamed I'd be able to win this series which I have been following since it began as the Racing South Series 40 years ago. I had just hoped that some day I could compete in the series and maybe score a few points and have my name listed in the standings. Until a few years ago podium finishes were rare for me but the series goes 8 deep in the Senior Grandmasters division (60-69) so I was hoping to score in at least a few events.

 But then when I decided to take a long break from the ultra marathons and get healthy and go back to racing in the shorter events I found myself making the podium more often than not. But after I won what I feel was one of my best races ever in the OBX Half marathon for the RRCA State Championship against 75 other eligible Seniors in Nov 2016 I began to believe I at least had a shot at not only being competitive but may actually be able to win the thing !

 And as you know by now I was successful after a lot of hard work and hard racing in some of the top road races in the Southeast.  I've posted race reports here in the blog for all the races so I won't go into that now but here is a listing of the races and  placement in the Senior Grandmasters Division.

Aug 2017. Midnight Flight 10k, Anderson SC,                    4th Place
Oct 2017. Heroes Half Marathon, Fayetteville AR.              1st Place
Nov. 2017. Magic City Half Marathon, Birmingham AL     1st Place (Alabama RRCA State Champion)
Dec. 2017, Rocket City Marathon, Huntsville AL.               12th Place( no points earned)
Jan 2018. Winter Flight 8k, Salisbury NC,                            3rd Place
Mar 2018. Wine 10k, Birmingham AL.                                 1st Place
Mar 2018. Germantown Half Marathon, Germantown TN.  4th Place
May 2018. Cotton Row Run, Huntsville AL.                        8th Place

 Everyone of these races I can highly recommend as being top notch events if you ever plan on visiting any of these areas. Its hard to pick a favorite as I would gladly run any of them again if time and budget would allow but I'd have to say Magic City was my favorite. Great Venue, nice course, nice schwag and post race food and party atmosphere.

 I can't see myself trying to compete again as it is an expensive endeavor traveling to the races and I have other goals to shoot for now but I am so thankful for the opportunity and being able to achieve a dream and goal like this.

 Right now I am thinking I want to go back to Cotton Row and seek my revenge on that hill and maybe make the podium in my age group of 60-64 which I missed by 1 spot ! ( yes, 4 other studs in the 65-69 age group beat me !) Other than that the only repeat may be the one NC race next January.

 So that's the final word on the Series.    Thank you to all that care and follow along on my adventures. Special Thanks to Mom and the rest of the family for loving me. And Thanks to my daily inspiration and dear friend and yoga teacher Laura for believing in me.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Looking ahead to the 2nd half of 2018

I normally take a look back at the first half of the year but the main focus of the first 5 months was the Series and I'm waiting for the August issue of the magazine with its report before I do my final wrap up so for now lets look forward.

 As you may have read at the beginning of the year my only real plan after completing the series is to get back into strong marathon shape again for the first time in years since all the injuries began about 4 years ago. Just recently I have finished planning out my race calendar for the remainder of 2018. Beyond that I have no plans right now and a lot will depend on how well these next 6 months turn out.

 Ok, to begin with , my first step in the plan is already a bust. I am signed up for Grandfather Mountain Marathon but I'm in no way ready to even think about it with my longest run of the year at 13 miles last weekend, not counting the  half marathon in March. I could probably finish a long slow run walk but it would just be a beat down and I need to be building right now, not tearing down.  So I'll just be training for now for the upcoming races on the schedule.

 Here's the long and eagerly awaited plan.

 August 26th:  the New England Green River Marathon.
 This is a point to point starting in Vermont and ending in Massachusetts on a gorgeous rural course. It is a Boston Qualifier and it will take a miracle for me to get in shape to get the time needed but I'm going to give it my best shot to get ready. Even if I don't it will be a good building block to get a qualifier for the 2020 Boston. ( The qualifying period for the 2019 Boston ends mid Sept.).

 September 8th. Not set in stone just yet but I may return to Goldsboro for the TitanUP 5k again. Small low key event in the old hometown where I easily won my age group last year.

 September 29th. The Virginia 10 Miler. This is a big target race for me. Two years ago I placed 4th in my age group. I have always had a fantasy of a podium finish in this classic and tough event but to do so I'll have to have a very strong effort. Which means the real hill training starts NOW !

October 6th. Another maybe depending on how I feel at the last minute is the Selma Railroad Run 5k. super flat and fast course and I haven't been in several years. If Lynchburg doesn't beat me up too much I may give it a shot. 

 October 20th. The Ironclad Half Marathon in Kinston. I've had my eye on this one for a few years. Peer pressure from some MTC friends made me pull the trigger on entering this one. A good test and hopefully a podium finish. No time prediction for this one.

 November 4th. City of Oaks Half Marathon. In years past this one has never had much appeal to me but, not because I didn't think it was a good event . Mainly because I have raced in Raleigh so many times over the years and trained so many miles over most of the course I preferred going somewhere else with so many options available this time of year. But I decided this was the year to go for it and take a shot at winning my age group. I won the 10k last year and maybe if I run as well this year in the longer race I can win again.

December 15th. Jacksonville Marathon (Fl). If I do get the BQ in August then I'll go all out and try and improve my time. If I don't then I will probably run this a bit more cautiously just to get the BQ and then go for a faster time later. The weather is usually conducive to fast running on this flat course and I've heard nothing but good things about the race. I need to run about 3:51 to guarantee entry into Boston and I feel confident I can do that barring any unforeseen circumstances over the next few months.

 That's it for now. Stay Tuned and wish me luck !

Friday, June 08, 2018

training update and 5k track racing

  Now the that Grand Prix is over the next phase is to get back to training for marathons or at least that's the plan. But before that starts I had something else I wanted to do. Two summers ago when I was focused on trying to get my mile time down to what I ran in 1999 I had wanted to use that speed and try to run a fast time in a track 5k. There just aren;t that many opportunities to do that other than the Wednesday night Godiva track meets and the schedule of nights that had that distance just never worked out for me.

  So, I was happy to see that the first week of the Summer of Miles Podcast pop up mile series which is put on by the Sir Walter Miler folks would have a 5k as the bonus event. Speed wise I'm not close to what I was two years ago and really haven't done the speedwork at the paces that I need to do for my goal but I figured it would still be fun and I could try and give it my best shot.

  I haven't run a sub 22 5k in 5 years when I did it 3 times in a row in summer of 2013. I seriously doubted that I would be able to this night but  all I could do was go for it and see what would happen. Sometimes miracles do occur.

 The meet was held at the beautiful Cary Academy Campus and I arrived in plenty of time for socializing and a proper warmup. There would be 90 plus runners for all the events combined and a lot of family and friends spectating and it was great to see so many that I knew along with a few former co-workers from the running store days. We were lucky with the weather as there was lower humidity than normal and by the time the 5k started , half the track was in the shade. I didn't feel too spiffy in my warm up but with 5 minutes to go as I was doing the usual 4 x 10 second strides, on the last two I felt a little zip in the legs. Maybe this was going to be ok.

 I guess there were 20-25 runners in the 5k and I tucked in behind the faster younger runners. As far as I know there was only one other senior in the race and from the word go he was on my heels. My goal pace was about 1:46 per quarter mile and I nailed the first one but by the half I had dropped off that pace to 1:50 and thats about what I would run for the remainder of the race.

 The coolest thing was having so many people call me out by name and cheer for me each lap as I came around to the front stretch. George, the other senior was right there for the first mile which I passed in about 7:15 but he was slowly falling behind now and by half way I couldn't hear him anymore.  I was feeling good and locked into the pace now and slowed down a bit in mile 2 to about a 7:25, or 14:40 for 2 miles.

 Now it was just dig deep and try to pick it up a bit the last mile. Of course it was getting harder to hold pace but I pushed on knowing I could endure the pain a bit longer. With half mile to go I was making the death noises. I ran the last 800 meters in 3:34 and finished strong in 22:39 which tied my fastest 5k since 2013. I ran that exact same time at the Foot Locker XC Regional year before last.

on lap two I think with George right there

in the first mile with George Howe on my heels

representing Raleigh Yoga Company !

woohoo, airborne

yes I was being lapped here

half mile to go
was a fun night of racing and spectating and I appreciate all of the people from Sir Walter Miler for putting this series on for the local running community. And thanks to Jason Honeycutt for taking over 500 photographs and posting them publicly for us to share. I think there was at least 15 or more with me in them but I chose these because they make me look halfway decent !

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Cotton Row Run 10K 2018

  I have been following this race since the beginning of this 39th annual event in Huntsville Alabama and always hoped to run it some day ,but I was always finding it hard to spend the money to travel for just a 10k. But with my focus on shorter distances in the past couple of years and with it being the final race of the Running Journal Grand Prix, it was time to go for it. The race is one of the Premier 10k races in the country, not just the Southeast and has seen many world class competitors over it's history.  I had found while running the Rocket City Marathon that the great reputation of the Huntsville Track Club and community was well deserved and this race was proved to be  a great one.

 Being on Memorial Day you can always expect warm and muggy conditions and this year was no exception with tropical moisture hovering over the State. 70F and 100% humidity guaranteed it would be a sweatfest but how well would I be able to handle the conditions?
 I did my usual warm up routine of a one mile easy run followed by 4 strides finishing up about 10 minutes before the start. I tried to get pretty close but then waited for the ceremony honoring the fallen heroes on this Memorial Day. I have to say its the first race I began with tears welling up inside after the invocation, 3 gun salute and the playing of taps. But finally it was time to go !

  Despite starting near the front I still was being held up by some really slow people that always want to jam things up so I just patiently waited for ways to make my way around as things begin to spread out. By 1/4 mile it was not bad and I knew I could make up the time later, probably only losing 10 to 15 seconds. My  fantasy goal pace was 7:30 but realistically 7:45 so when I passed mile one in 7:35 I was satisfied and feeling pretty good.

  Mile 2 had no major hills but mostly a slight incline and I felt my cadence and stride were ok so I was a bit disappointed with  it taking 7:56. So much for fantasy goal but at least I was still feeling good. I knew what was coming soon so I was trying to go as hard as I could on the next mile without going into oxygen debt.  Mile 3 continued with the mostly up but did have a little bit of downhill to help with that until we came to the turn onto Mountainwood Dr, aka Mt. Wood, the infamous hill I was warned about.

 Wow ! Talk about steep ! I thought the hill in Riverside Park at the VA 10 Miler was tough but this is much harder. For my friends familiar with North Turkey Creek in Umstead, yes it is even worse than the worst on that trail ! Immediately after making the turn the road rose sharply with the 3 mile mark maybe another 50 yards ahead. I passed that mark in 8:16 for a 3 mile split of 23:48 and then began walking with hands on thighs for support up this monster ! At this point I'm running in the top 300 of 1,800 and already practically everyone is having to walk !

 Disappointing that I had to walk but I was moving about as fast as the ones trying to run in most cases and when the grade finally eased off to just a normal bad hill I started back running. We made a turn and had a slight downhill before continuing to climb to the high point of the course at around 3.6 miles.

 I knew I had about 1.5 miles of sweet downhill ahead and after a minute I was recovered and began to push the pace. Even with the bit of downhill mile 4 was 8:52 thanks to that soul crusher of a climb but I was up to speed now, feeling ok and passing a lot of runners. I passed mile 5 in 7:32, not bad but with the huge gravity assist I was hoping for better. The goals were not going to be achieved and now I was just hoping to break 50 minutes and maybe, just maybe make the podium.

 The  last mile was mostly an ever so slight decline with a couple of small hills, the last one  at about 5.8 mile mark just before the final turn onto the finishing stretch. I was giving it all I had but had still slowed to a 7:52 and even with a kick which I didn't have in me, sub 50 was gone.   I pushed on until I made it across the line in 50:08. A volunteer handed me a water bottle which slipped out of my hand and I just bent over looking at it when a medical person walked over and asked me if I was alright . I assured her I was but I was too sweaty to hold onto the bottle ! She picked it up and opened it for me.

 Now I had to wait for the results to see how the competition had fared.  After doing a cool down mile the results were posted and I had finished 4th out of 66 in my age group of 60-64 year olds. On top of that, three others in the 65-69 group had put in great performances dropping me to 7th in the Senior Grandmasters division so I made 20 points in the series.

 Although I didn't make any of my time goals or make the podium I am satisfied that I gave it everything I had out there on the course. I was making the death noises for pretty much the whole 2nd half of the race as I pushed myself to the max. As for the placement, I salute those hard working fellow seniors that had to run in the same miserable conditions as I did and earned those podium spots. Over an hour after the race I still had sweat dripping off my shorts !

 This concludes my 9 month long journey  through the Grand Prix Series. I'll be doing a wrap up soon so stay tuned.

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Championship that almost wasn't.

 I'm making final preparations for my trip to Huntsville Alabama's Cotton Row 10k which will be held on Memorial Day, Monday the 28th. It is the last race in the Running Journal Grand Prix Racing Series which began the last weekend of August 2017 consisting of 8 races in the Southeast. As many of you know, I already have enough points to win the Senior Grandmasters Division without this event but there is no way I was going to miss going to this one.  I've worked too hard and raced too hard and traveled way to much to let this opportunity pass me by, especially looking back now at how close I came to not even competing.

  I have been following the series since the 1st year it started as the Racing South Series in 1978. At that time it was only an open division series and the winners were a who's who of southern elites in the six States in the coverage area, NC, SC, TN, FL,GA and AL. Later more States were added, MS and LA, then ARK, KY, VA and WV and a Masters division was created.  Eventually Grand Masters and then finally Senior Grandmasters were added as the running boomers of the 70's had all aged up. By that time I was solidly into ultra running and although I had the desire to  compete in the series it made no sense and never fit my schedule.

 But it was always something I wanted to do and I kept it in my mind that someday I was going to see if maybe I could at least earn a few points in a few of the races and maybe show up in the standings in the magazine but the thought of winning any of the races, let alone the series was something I didn't think was even a remote possibility. I was not accustomed to podium finishes very often but the points went 8 deep in age groups for the series.

 Funny how life can change ! And suddenly with no warning ! It seems everything was crashing down. Life totally blindsided me a few years ago and to add injury to insult, I had one hip or glute injury after another on top of that. In spite of it all I was determined not to give up  and used the pain and setbacks as extra motivation to comeback each time stronger than ever. After being injured pretty badly and still trying to run Western States 100 in 2015 nearly crippled I really screwed up my hamstring and I knew I had to heal completely. Time off and yoga finally did the trick but I also decided it was time to take a break from the long distance stuff and focus on shorter racing.

 I went into 2016 strong and healthy and began running times at the shorter distances that I never imagined focusing on lowering my mile time and then entering some RRCA State Championships. I went into 2017 in awesome shape winning the State 5k  and had my sights set on finally competing in the series in the Fall. And then WHAM, a freak injury started from yard work that soon developed into a heel stress fracture !

 Time dragged on but the pain still lingered and there was a lot of soft tissue damage in the bottom and side of the foot. After two months still no thought of even trying to run. I knew it was serious and promised myself  I would'nt even try to run until I had at least 10 days of no pain. Finally after 12 and a half weeks at the end of May I was able to run 1 mile pain free. But the series was not looking good. I only had 3 months to get back into shape and I would have to build back slowly because although I was healed it was going to take some time for the foot and tissues to regain the strength to handle hard training and racing.

 The schedule for the upcoming season was released in June but I had my doubts and was only up to 15 miles per week and a long ways from my condition prior to the injury. As always I discussed the situation with my BFF, former running partner, current yoga buddy and teacher and daily inspiration Laura and expressing my doubts as to whether I should try it or wait until the next year. As I knew she of course said I should go for it and had no doubts I could make it happen.
Its awesome having a friend that believes in you sometimes more than you believe in yourself. And of course she was right. I had to go for it. I was just going to have to race myself into shape and it would help that after that first race in August I would have about 6 weeks before the second race. But I'll save that in the season wrap up after the Cotton Row Run ! Stay tuned sports fans !


Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Port To Fort Rotary 5k. 4-28-18

  It's easier to just called this the Morehead City 5k. I saw neither the port or the fort as this course is all contained in the old residential area of town. My reason for coming to this was an excuse to visit my friend Stephanie and her baby girl Bowie.  I wanted a test race and some speed training and this event fit the bill perfectly.

 This is a small race with mostly locals but a few others traveled a bit taking advantage of a nice weekend at the beach. It wasn't too warm yet and the humidity wasn't bad at all for late Spring as I arrived early to pick up my race packet. I watched the start of the half at 7:30 which nearly caused me to miss some of my regular warm up routine. It wasn't a problem and I was able to get in my easy mile and just a couple of strides before rushing over to the starting line. Not too many people were eager to be up front so I lined up just behind a couple of fast looking young guys.

 It was about 62F and the sun was starting to break through the clouds now as we began. Quite a few people went out at what I judged was probably too quick but I felt good and was happy with the stride as I settled in. Less than half a mile later we made a u-turn and already things were thinning out and I was passing a few folks. One that I was most impressed with was a tiny little girl that was motoring along at what I judged was 7:15 pace. It was another hundred yards later that I passed her and thought to myself, once she learns the art of pacing she is going to be tough ! Turns out she was 8 years old and held on for a 25:30 finish !

  I went through mile 1 in 7:20 feeling good but had hoped it was a little faster. By now the field was spread out and there wasn't going to be too much passing going on. I was trying to hold steady and still felt good. Stride nice and smooth. I was a bit disappointed I slowed a little to 7:27 for mile 2. I was pretty sure I could pick it up a bit with just one more to go so I kicked it up a notch and the body seemed to respond.

 What little bit of racing took place in that last mile. I was slowly gaining on a guy just ahead and I could hear someone trying to come up on my shoulder with half mile to go. I dug a little deeper but the guy ahead was pulling away and the one behind me was fading so nothing changed in the standings. The last mile was a 7:15 but the course ended up being a bit long. It was a certified course but the way they had the cones lining the route we were taking long sweeping turns into the middle of the intersections instead of running the tangents which myself and a couple of guys I talked to after the race agreed seemed to cost about 20 seconds. Final official time was 23:08.

 To check on my theory  I ran the course as a cooldown taking the tangents and came almost exactly to the 5k distance.
 Speaking of awards, I was 1st in the age group and 10th overall. Had fun, was happy with the effort and the confidence boost that training is going well.
 Later I met with Stephanie and we  went for a 4 mile run. It was hot by then and I was tired !

 Stay tuned. Next race is the big one in Alabama !

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

training update 4-25-18 and 5k preview

   Its been awhile so lets talk training. Not enough is how I'm thinking about it. Yes, I have had some success with the racing so far this year but it could be better. I've got some good speed going for me and I've pretty much nailed all the speed workouts I've planned but where I feel I am lacking is the mileage. I have not been over 30 miles for a week since early last December ! The only way I'm going to improve anymore and perform as I want and expect to do is to start putting in more miles !
I had 29 miles last week, the best so far this year and my plan is to slowly begin to bump it up until I get back into the mid 40's to low 50's on occasion and then see how that feels and go from there.

 The yoga continues to go very well with at least 10 classes per week of bikram and yin combined and I love that I can feel improvements in my practice along with the health benefits of having more stability and flexibility. The cross training has kind of dropped off although I still do some core and body weight stuff as time and energy allows. Moving forward I may have to cut back a little on the yoga to focus more on the running but hopefully I can make some slight adjustments in other parts of my life to keep the balance going.

 A few of you may remember I signed up for the Glass City Marathon  which was held this past weekend. Obviously I was not there. At the time I entered I had big hopes of building from the December race but instead I slacked off and it soon became clear that I was not going to get anywhere near prepared for a Boston  qualifying attempt and that was my only reason for entering to begin with. So I decided to focus instead on getting into the best 10k racing shape possible for the Cotton Row Run on Memorial Day. More on that soon.

 So in the meantime after a disappointing 10k in Goldsboro and a couple of weeks just not feeling very zippy, I think I'm ready for a few more strong weeks of training ahead. For some fun and a good speed workout I have entered a 5k in Morehead City this Saturday. Should be fun and I get to visit my friend Stephanie and baby Bowie. I would really like to run under 22 minutes for a 5k again, something I haven't done in about 4 years now. I'm doubtful it will happen this weekend but I think I can manage it before the summer is over. But after this weekend its nothing but training for the next 4 weeks.
 That's all for now. Lots more to talk about but it can wait for another post on another day. Stay tuned to see what happens.

 And since blog post are more appealing with a picture, here is one with nothing to do with this post.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Greater Goldsboro Road Race

  Right now all of my training and racing is focused on being the best prepared that I can be for the Cotton Row Run 10k on Memorial Day so I was looking for  another 10k in April to use as a test as well as some specific distance prep. There are numerous racing options every weekend in the area this time of year but this one in my former hometown seemed like the best to suit my needs.

 The race has been around since 1979 and I was a participant that year as well as several other times over the years. The course has changed a few times but the current course happens to be the one that I won the overall title in a different race back in 1987! In the past this was a well attended event but over the years things have change and there is so much more competition from other races. Most that did come chose the 5k option and there were only 40 finishers in the 10k. It's a bit sad because they put on a quality event with a certified course, chip timing and more giveaways from local sponsors than most much larger events. And the post race food was awesome !

 The one thing that I wasn't too happy about was the late 9am start. It was a warm morning in the 60's and the sun was high already and due to the east -west orientation of the double loop course we had no shade and direct sunshine for 90% of the run.  But we take what is given and go for it. After all, everyone had to compete in the same conditions.

 And speaking of competition, this is how the race went. I didn't know anyone near my age but did notice a couple of fit looking grey hairs in the small field as we lined up. My goal was to run as close to 7:30 pace as possible and see what happens. Based on my 4 mile race a few weeks ago I was fairly confident but that morning was 30 degrees cooler ! I didn't feel too spiffy in the warm up and had been a bit flat feeling the last couple of runs but you never can tell until the race starts.

 As we begin I noticed one  tall slim guy that seemed fit and older than me slowly pulling away. I tried to hang on to his heels and after about half mile in  I eased by and hoped that was the last I would see of him. I felt pretty good and hit mile one in 7:23, nearly perfect. But then here he comes up on my shoulder and passes me. We stayed within 2 steps of each other over the next mile which was a disappointing 7:45. We were into a bit of a headwind then but it didn't seem too bad. I just kept pushing and hoping I could pick it up.

 Mile 3 was the same with the two of us in near lock step. He pulled away slightly on a downhill but I pulled nearly even going back up. Mile 3 was another 7:45. Oh well , no fast time today, just focus on the racing. We headed out on the 2nd of the two loops still neck and neck. As we approached the 3rd hill I stayed closer on the down and then felt a weakness and decided to make a move going up. This is where I got a little chuckle. As we were starting up he could hear me coming and decided to offer me some advice. He said, pump your arms going up, it will help you run faster. I almost laughed out loud but just thought to myself, Dude, I have raced about 500 times over 41 years. I think I know what I'm doing here.

  I made the pass and just kept thinking. Break him. I hope I broke him ! After a few minutes his breathing seemed to be fading ! But mile 4 was a bit slower still in 7:51. 2.2 mile to go, just hang on and keep pushing. But then at mile 4.5 here he comes by me with a "nice pace" complement ! I tried to hang on to his heels once again but I was hurting and soon after he began to pull slowly away. By mile 5 he was half a block ahead and I was dying with a slow 8:12. I so much wanted to just back off. No fast time and I wasn't going to win this race but as quickly as those thoughts came I swept them away and dug deep. For a few moments I slowly closed a bit of the gap and was hanging on to the hope he was hurting as bad as me and may crumble but when we hit that final hill it was over as he powered off into the distance. I struggled and hit the turn at mile 6 with a joggy jog paced 8:26 and he was a block ahead. I tried to look as good as possible in the homestretch to make myself look worthy of  the Raleigh Yoga Company Singlet I was wearing.  Finished in 48:59.

  I walked over to congratulate the guy.  He was very friendly and we enjoyed several minutes of conversation before he finally asked me what age group I was in. When I said I was 62 then he replied, oh well you probably easily won your age group. He said he was 55 ! Wow, I was still thinking he was older than me ! Here I was racing my guts out against a guy 7 years younger. Cool !

 And yes I did easily win. Only one other over 60 and he was  20 minutes back !
 Enjoyed waiting around for the awards with my cousin Jennifer who took the picture for me. none from the actual running. It wasn't until later and looking at the official results that I realized my time was exactly what I ran in my first race back in March of 1978 ! That was The Natural Run 10k in Winston-Salem.

 If you can and like 5 and 10k's come give this one a shot. I really enjoyed walking around the downtown area and trying to remember the many stores and theatres I went in as a child and shopping with my mother and brother and Aunt and cousins and grandparents.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

St Paddys 4 Miler

   Finally getting around to getting a short report for this short race. I really didn't have this one on the schedule but back in February I won a free entry for it at the NCRC Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. I had a free spot  on the calendar and it sort of fit in to my plans to build up for the 10k Finale to the Running Journal  Grand Series on Memorial Day. I would use it as a combination fun run, workout and test of my fitness while hoping to bring home another age group win.

 This was the 10th year for the event which is normally a 5 miler but construction along the route caused a shortened version of the course this year. It is located in the Glenwood area and runs mainly through the residential old Raleigh neighborhoods. And it is hilly ! Very Hilly !

 I was lucky to arrive early and grabbed a parking spot  1/2 a block from the starting line. It was a cold morning but looked like it was going to be perfect for racing. I picked up my race number and then sat in the car until I was ready to do my warmup. I ran around on the city sidewalks very carefully and slowly for my warm up mile and was feeling ok. Then as usual I did a series of short strides to gear the body up for race pace.

 This is a good size race with over 1,300 runners and I waited a bit late to line up and didn't get as close as I would have liked. Although its chip timing I didn't want to get behind a lot of slower runners and lose time weaving through the crowd.. I looked around but didn't recognize any age group competition and then we were off.

 I did have to do a little maneuvering around but not too bad and after a block we started up the first hill.  My friend Rigo caught up to me and I thought he was going to hang around but after a minute he moved on ahead while I just focused on going as fast as possible without getting too far into oxygen debt. My goal pace for the race was 7:30 but I really wasn't sure that would be happening on this course so when I hit mile 1 in 7:28 I was feeling a bit more confident.

 And then there was mile 2. The toughest on the course. Other than a short downhill it climbed. And climbed. I was not thrilled and I had a few choice words as I begin to wonder if I would ever reach the 2nd mile. Finally it appeared just before the summit of the highest point of the race. I had slowed to a 7:54 and like that my cushion was gone. But I recovered quickly and mile 3 had some really sweet downhill so I gradually began to push the effort a bit feeling great.

 I still hadn't noticed anyone that looked my age anywhere around me. As we ran around Cameron Park I could see a lot of runners that were ahead and then as I went down the other side I could see a lot more behind me and still no one that seemed to be old ! If anyone got a jump on me at the start they were well out of sight ! I was able to make up a little time and hit mile 3 in 7:26. One more hill and then the last 1/2 mile would be downhill. Just maybe I could hit that 7:30 average pace after all !
 I pushed up the hill as much as possible and then at the top I just put the hammer down and the zip was there ! A 6:53 mile 4 and boom,  29:37 beating my goal by 23 seconds !

  I made my way over to the car to get my phone and check the online results which weren't working so I began walking over to the  post race activities. Grabbed some water and eaded over to the results tent and there it was. Boom ! 1st age group out of 18. So, I was able to achieve all my goals for the day. Beat my average pace goal, had some fun , won my age group and got in a great workout.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Germantown Half Marathon or Taking Care of Business

 I was looking forward to getting a chance to run this race based on the reputation and reading about it in Running Journal as part of the series. Germantown ins a suburb of Memphis TN and I had only passed through the area as a 12 year old so it would be a new experience and area to check out. I had three goals for the race. Run near 1:45, make the podium and gain enough points to put the series title out of reach.
 Leading up to race morning the weather forecast was not looking too good with rain and in the 40's with wind advisories. We got really lucky as the rain had stopped by the time I woke up, it was 54F and calm. The only thing keeping it from being perfect was light fog and 100% humidity. I arrived an hour before the gun and had no problem finding parking 50ft from the finish line !
  I felt pretty good doing my normal warmup routine and headed on over to the start which we shared with the 5k runners. This was one of the larger races in the series and had about 1,000 runners in the half, nearly the same as the Magic City race.
  The start was a fast one, flat with just an almost imperceptible downgrade so I had to be careful and not get carried away. And then the shoe came untied. Seriously? I have worn these shoes in a dozen races before and never had that happened. I wanted to wait until after the 1 mile split so I would get a feel for the pace before fixing the issue and before I got there the other one came undone ! By now I was in a group with 3 other guys that looked like possible competition and I was hoping to maintain contact. I hit mile 1 in 7:45, my fantasy goal pace and then stopped to tie the shoes as the trio moved on ahead.
  I got back up to speed as quickly as possible trying not to expend too much energy chasing the group. It was a long ways to go yet. I had lost about 30 seconds and hit mile 2 in 8:24 and then one of the shoes came undone again  just before I finally was closing the gap! I stopped again taking the time to try and make sure I had it fixed before heading off in pursuit once again. I was able to reel in one of the guys on a downhill but the other two had opened a big gap. Mile 3 was an 8:15. By now I was soaking wet from the humid conditions but at least my breathing didn't seem to be affected and I was feeling good. And then just before mile 4 the other shoe came untied again !!!! Grrrrrr ! I got it fixed but lost more time and passed mile 4 in 8:07.

 So frustrating ! Wouldn't it be something if I missed making the podium due to losing over a minute of time because of stupid shoe laces !?!? Well nothing I could do about it but just settle in and run my race and see what happened. At least I could still  see the other two up ahead. Just keep my eyes on them and run. Mile 5 was 7:50 with no more stops and I still felt very good. Other than a few gentle inclines the course was a fast one and I knew from talking to a local the next several would be very flat so my confidence was boosted a bit and I settled in for the final 8.

 The next several miles were pretty uneventful. I was  consistently pacing right at 8mp but the gap between me and the others remained about the same. At mile seven I checked and the gap was about 35 seconds. At least I was still feeling ok and the shoes were staying tied. Maybe I could hang on and get close to the 1:45 and a 4th pace finish would give me enough points. And then about mile 9 the wheels slowly started coming off. A combination of the hard 10k last weekend, the humidity and trying to catch the group was catching up to me. The stride got shorter, the breathing got harder and the energy level was dropping fast. I tried to maintain pace but it wasn't happening as I kept getting slower.

 I lost sight of the other guys and now I just had to keep pushing as hard as I cold for the last couple of miles and hope no one else caught up to me and there was always the possibility that the ones I had been chasing were not actually in my age group. Cling to what ever hope you can !

 Mile 10 was 8:23, mile 11 8:35 and mile 12 was 8:55 as I helplessly watched as grey haired guy pass. I tried to hang on but to no avail. Let's just get this over !

 Finally made the final turn and the cruelty of the steepest hill leading up to the 13 mile mark. Ugggg ! Just don't walk but I felt so slow ! 9:08  and then the slight downhill to the end. I at least tried to look good finishing ! I walked slowly to the results tent and saw  that I did at least hang on for 4th. That would give me 55 points plus the bonus 25 points for the distance and an  insurmountable lead of 170 points in the series. Despite being disappointed in the way the race ended and my time of 1:48:29 being my slowest in years I was elated to put the series championship away. No more pressure !

 I walked to my car and stood there as the sweat and water dripped off like I'd been swimming. Texted the number one fan and relaxed. One of three goals met but it was the most important one !

 Once again I can highly recommend this race as well as all the others in this series. Everyone has been a first class event.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Birmingham Wine 10k or back in the lead again.

  This was going to be a quick trip and I was glad to get safely off the ground with the strong winds Friday morning. After the rough take off the remainder of the trip was smooth sailing and I made it to Birmingham in plenty of time to head to the Trak Shak for packet pickup and then check out as much of the course as possible, It was a beautiful Spring like day so I went for a nice slow 3 miler on the greenway which would be the last 2.5 miles of the race.

  The race was on a point to point route so I parked at the finish area Saturday morning and hopped on the luxury bus for the short shuttle over to the starting park. Just like the Half I ran in Birmingham last November everything about this event was first class. It was  a perfect morning, about 50F and sunny with just a 5mph wind as I began my normal warm up routine. As I was jogging along a local eased by my with a nice comment about the weather. I think that like me he was hoping to size up the competition. He looked familiar but it wasn't until I saw the results afterwards that I figured out why. I had met him at an ultra back in 2003! He was only 55 by the way so not in my age group and he did win his.

ok, back  to the race. I lined up and noticed a couple of faces I remembered from the half that I knew I wouldn't have to worry about but a few unknowns including one white haired guy with a short white beard that looked fit and experienced. Wasn't sure if he was my age  but other than him I was confident I would return to the podium in my 2nd race here.

 Boom !! They used that loud little cannon again for the start and the first 30 yards were through a cloud of smoke. Once the smoke cleared I could see white beard slowly pulling away and I doubted he was going to run a stupid race and go out too quickly for his fitness so I just hoped I had guessed right about him not being 60. I felt good going up the first small hill and decided I was going to have a good day.

  I hadn't seen any of the first 2.5 miles of the course but I knew from the description that it was a bit hilly and it was. My goal was to average 7:30 pace and that's what I was hoping/expecting for mile 1 which did have some uphill but seemed a little more down. I hit that 1st mile in 7:18 which gave me a confidence boost but then mile two made up for things with a lot more uphill. I was a little disappointed that I slowed to a 7:48 2nd mile and just like that my cushion was gone.

  Mile 3 was the toughest on the course with a fairly steep qtr mile hill and other than a few short downs it had a slight uphill grade the remainder. That one was a 7:52 so halfway and I'm feeling good with the tough part of the course behind me. Not bad !

 There were over 600 runners in the race but nothing really going on around me. I didn't see anyone around that seemed a threat and white beard was out of sight by now so I just focused on running as close to the redline as I dared. Mile 4 would be the fastest on the course with the first qtr mile a really nice downhill I could stretch out on and try to make up some time and then a slight downgrade and flat to Shades Creek and the greenway which we turned onto just before the 4 mile mark . I must say I was little shocked to hit it ion 6:43 Wow, I was pushing that downhill ! Two miles to go, I feel good and I'm going to  achieve my goal pace and beat my time from City of Oaks !

 But wait, it sure seems like mostly flat but slightly up stream on the greenway mile 5 is taking a long time. Wait a minute 7:30 and I still don't see a marker. I must have missed it or they didn't have one? Wait, there it is up ahead. Crap, an 8:29 mile 5 !? No way. Obviously they had mistakenly put mile 4 in the wrong spot. I was suspicious because the greenway is marked every qtr mile and I knew how far it was to the finish. I should have known that 6:45 was too good to be true. This was the only fault I had with the event but people make mistakes. At least I knew it was a certified course so it would all come out right in the end despite the head game it caused. Based on the terrain and my effort I would say 4 should have been about 7:20 and 5 about 7:50ish.

 The last mile continued on the mostly flat greenway but with 3/4 to go there was a short steep hill and over a bridge that I had run over the day before. It was hard by this point and then another short steep hill up to the 6 mile mark. I was hoping for faster but 7:55 was all I had and it was realistic based on the terrain and the way I felt. Strong but no sprint to the end.  No dry heaves today, The 7:30 pace wasn't going to happen today but 7:38 ain't too shabby.

 Grabbed my medal and a bottle of water and waled over to the results tent. Boom 1st place Senior Grandmaster. The second pace guy in the series was not here but ran in Myrtle Beach so I  regained the lead by 90 points which pretty much puts it out of reach unless I totally blow up the next two races and I don't expect that will happen.

 The two men that finished 2nd and 3rd both remembered me and came over to talk about my traveling. I imagine when I'm not around that they usually battle over the age group. They were only 5 seconds apart this time and reversed there finish from the half last November. Nice guys.  I imagine this will be my last trip to Birmingham although I have enjoyed the two races there quite a bit. But its a long way and way too many other things to do over the next few years.

 Here is a link to the race website and results are available there