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

Friday, March 02, 2018

Birmingham Wine 10k preview. Or going to regain my lead !

 Well, I hadn't originally planned on running this race. I had taken advantage of early bird pricing for the Myrtle Beach  Half which had been a part of the Running Journal series for the poast 10 years but when the schedule was released last June, MB was no longer in the series and this race had taken it's spot on the calendar. I still wasn't going to run here thinking I would not need the points but that was before the debacle at the Rocket City Marathon. Going into that race I had a solid lead but I went to it woefully unprepared for the marathon  distance and was totally skunked , no points. Meanwhile the winner got the double bonus points and I now find myself 10 points out of first place. If I had only finished 8th I would still be in the lead. Grrrr.
  So it was a necessary but not an easy decision to skip MB and head back to Alabama once again to try and make up the  points deficit. I'm feeling good  and the training has been going well so I am feeling confident in making the podium once again. The weather is looking great for the 8am Saturday morning start. 45F and fairly calm and it should be a fairly fast course.

Here is the race website

 Wish me luck and stay tuned for the exciting report to come.