Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019. The year in review

 Overall not a bad year at all. Nothing really epic but some good results in most of the events I entered. First, lets look at the numbers. 1,330.1 miles in the best yearly total since the 1420 of 2016 and that puts me at 52,909 lifetime miles. Overall it was a year of good health with the only injury was a bit of a calf strain which was not caused by running but affected the run for a few weeks spread over parts of April in May. Those months only had 52 and 57 miles respectively making the yearly total that much more satisfying. As you should know , I  made a commitment to make the run top priority in my fitness regimen beginning in late July and the result was that each month from August through December were all better than any months in the previous 2 years. Now on to the details.

 Jan: The year started off well with a very good run at the Holden Beach Half. I was pleased with the 1:48:51 and 2nd place AG. Monthly total was 119.2

 Feb: no racing but some good quality training and 119.2 miles again !

 Mar: Got off to a good start with the Florence Forth 10k. I felt good, ran strong just creeping under 48 with a 47:59 and an age group win. 3 weeks later I ran the St. Paddys 4 miler again and although I was 30 seconds slower than last year in 30:27 it was still good enough for 1st Senior Grandmaster again. A week later I was at Sunset Beach for another half. Improved my time to 1:46:20 but had to settle for 3rd AG and was out-sprinted to the finish. Gotta work on that top end speed ! 112.3 miles for the month.

 Apr: Was a bit frustrating with the calf mystery issue coming in early and costing me about 2 weeks off. It seemed fine and I raced the Port to Fort 5k in Morehead City in 23:30 which was good enough for the AG win. But a few days later the calf flared up again. Only 52.3 miles for the month.

 May: Started off with a lot of zeros and 10 days off before I tested the calf again. It was ok and I eased the mileage back up but no racing and only 57.0 miles for the month. Sadly I cancelled a planned trip to return to the Cotton Row Run in Alabama that had been one of my goal races for the year.

 June: More frustration. the month started out ok and on the 15th I ran the Vertical mile Challenge which had been on my list for a few years. Considering no mountain training and practically no trail running in recent years I had a good day, ran consistent paced laps and was 2nd AG. Legs really took a beating and despite 5 days of rest and easing back into it I aggravated my left  upper glute and hip flexor. I was confident it was not the same thing that ruined me back in  2014 and 2015 but I was going to be careful. I could run but only did 3 or 4 miles every two or three days and it gradually healed and felt better each week over the next 3 weeks or so. Monthly miles were 84.0.

 July: Was not what I'd hope. The first two weeks were all short runs every few days with some slight improvement in the pain but at least I could run. I decided to go ahead with my trip to Utica NY for the Boilermaker 15k. Things went ok although slow for the first 7 miles but then I bonked and the hip flexor was really bothering me.  Over the next weeks it graduallyt began to improve and I was able to run but it was the 28th before I noted that it was about 90% back to normal.  83.3 for the month.

 Aug: August started off well with the pain seemingly behind me now. I raced the Running With the Law 5k  in Jacksonville but only because I wanted to visit my friend for the weekend. Luckily  I got through it ok, ran about the same as I did in April in 23:33 and another AG win. By now I was not going to hot yoga anymore and with no injury I was ready to get back to some serious training and goals. On the 24th I took a trip to Boone for the High Country Half,a tough race that shares the first 10.5 miles as the Grandfather Mountain marathon. I ran much stronger than I expected with the help of cool rain and just missed my fantasy goal of breaking 2 hours on this hard course with a 2:00:23. Some tough competition from the local mountaineers put me off the podium and 4th place. Finished the month with 134.3 miles, my best in about 2 years !

 Sept: Things were going great this month and I was getting in great training with 5 to 6 days a week of runs despite the lingering heat and humidity. My #1 goal of the year was to beat my last years time at the Virginia 10 Miler and make the podium for the first time in 21 years of racing there. Although things were going well due to the earlier injuries I was not at the level I wanted to be going into the Fall racing season. And then race morning turned out to be hot and humid. I did as well as I could but I was never on pace to be close to last years time and I struggled in the last few miles. Going back in 2020 hopefully better prepared and maybe mother nature will be kinder. Good month though with 137.8 miles

 Oct:  I think this is probably the only Oct. in the last 2 decades at least that I had no races scheduled. It was tempting but I knew I needed to be training. I had a marathon planned in November and I was already way behind the mileage goals I need and no long runs done. Ended up with my best month of the year and best in about 3 years with 147.1 miles but still no real long runs.

 Nov: Due to the lack of long runs I made the very wise decision to drop down to the half at the City of Oaks Marathon  on the 3rd with the goal of trying to beat my time from last year which would be a challenge because I ran pretty well on this  tough course last year. Ended up running well this year but only better by 6 seconds in 1:49:10 and that all came in the last 10th of a mile sprint ! Good enough for 2nd AG in this larger event. Good training continued through the month and I ended it with a 5K Cross country race at the Nike Southeast Regional event. 23:35 on the tough course in some muddy conditions was satisfactory and only 2 seconds slower than the flat road 5k in August. 142.9 for the month.

 Dec:  I only had one race planned to finish out the year before going back into a marathon training program. That was the Frosty Run 10k on the 7th in Wake Forest. I had done some specific workouts for it so it was a bit of a disappointment that at the last minute a course change caused the certified course to be shortened to about 5.7 miles. It turned out cold and windy but I ran well on this hilly route my 45:16 was equivalent to about 48:40 if it had been the full 10k. 2nd AG. Finished the month with 140.7 miles.

And that's it for 2019. I'll post a looking ahead post with some goals for the coming year soon. Right now I'm happy with the way things are going and confident 2020 will be a good one.


Saturday, December 28, 2019

week two of marathon training and all is well

 I'm pleased to report that everything is going as planned and I'm feeling good. I finished up the week with 44 miles which is the best week in over two years and maybe longer ! I'm having no aches or pains (knock on wood) as I continue to closely monitor my body and allow for plenty of rest. Working part time now and with a flexible schedule allows me a lot of goofing off time and plenty of sleep which is always needed but especially for us old people !

 Here is what the week looked like.

 Sun: 14 miles at 9:07 pace which is 4:00 marathon pace.
 Tues:6 miles in 53:47
 Wed: 4 miles in 35:27
 Thur: Workout Day. Went to the track for tempo intervals. 5 x 1k in 4:50 to 4:47 with 200m recoveries. Total with warm up and cooldown of 6 miles in 51:38.
 Fri: 6 miles on the ATT in 54:23 getting re-familiar with the course.
 Sat: 8 miles in 1:17:35 on Umstead hills.

 Cross training for the week was a bit light once again. One body weight day, one gym weights session, two core workouts of 30  and 15 minutes and three 45 minute sessions of yin yoga.

 Looking ahead to next week, I plan to take it pretty easy and taper for the Salem Lake 25K race next Saturday which should be a good indicator of my current fitness.

 Stay tuned for more updates and a race report soon.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

First week training update.

 I've just completed the first week of training for Tobacco Road and I have mixed feelings about it. Overall things went well. The paces have certainly been where I want them on my daily runs and the mid-week workout was perfection but as I suspected, the recovery time is going to be more of an issue at age 64 than it was just a few years ago. But, I am also being smarter about that than the younger me was and I have no problem taking rest days as needed or cutting things short like I did on  today's long run. The key is getting in the key workouts and a shift of a few days one way or another doesn't matter as long as they get done and I'll just do my planned 14 sometime over the next couple of days.

 Here is how the week looked.
 Sun: 4 easy in 36:14
 Mon: 4 easy in 36:24. Probably should have rested.
 Tues: Took that rest day.
 Wed: 9 miles in 1:18:03. Workout of 3 x 2 miles in 16:45, 16:47, 16:45, about my current half marathon race pace.
 Thurs: rest
 Fri: 5 miles easy in 44:43. Significant that this is the average pace I need for my goal pace in March :)
 Sat: 8 miles on Turkey Creek Loop in 1:18:47. Planned on 14 but the hills were too much for me today.

 In addition I had two 30 minute body weight sessions, 1 weights session at the gym for 35 minutes, 2 30 minute core sessions and two yin yoga sessions for 45 minutes each.

 Feeling excited and ready to  move on to next week. The plan is to make up the missing 14 miler early in the week, then I've got  a 5 x 1K at 10k pace planned for Thursday. Next weekends long run is just 12 again since I have the 25k race the following weekend.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Marathon Training officially begins

 Ok sports fans. It's time to get with the plan and be serious about preparing for Tobacco Road Marathon next march. I've used a running journal from day 1 of my running and it is set up like a calendar so my weeks start on Sunday.  This past week was a recovery week from racing the two previous weekends so it was all easy pace stuff.

 Sun: 5 miles easy in Rocky Mount on their greenway 45:02
 Mon: 5 miles easy on the Neuse Greenway 45:31
 Tues: 6 miles not so easy in Umstead. 59:37. I really needed a day off but I was working in Cary and I've been wanting to check out the Cedar Ridge re-route. Probably a bad idea. Felt tired, dead legs.
 Wed: Finally rested
 Thurs: 5 miles at Shelley Lake in 46:37. Still tired and heavy legs.
 Fri: more rest
 Sat: 12 miles along the Neuse in 1:48:16. This was the kick off of building the long runs. I was happy to feel fresh and stayed consistent and finished strong.
 Total of 33 miles.

 In addition to the running I am still doing lots of other workouts. This past week I did two body weight strength, one with weights at the gym,and three 30 minute core sessions. And although I no longer take yoga classes I still have a home practice although I was a bit slack with it this week. I do some yoga as part of my warmups in the strength sessions and at night I spend anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour doing yin yoga 4 or 5 days a week but this week I only did one.

 In the past going into a training plan like this I would usually schedule two speed or tempo type workouts each week but now that I've gotten into the mid 60's I have to face the reality that my recovery times aren't what they used to be and I have to be smarter and more careful. With that, I am only going to be doing one hard , faster quality workout each week and hopefully maximaize results with less chance of injury.

 One thing I have going for me right now is that my daily easy run pace is as fast as I need to run to get a guaranteed spot into Boston 2021. At my age I need 4:05 which is 9:21 pace. But to make sure I get in I want at least  a 5 minute cushion so 4:00 or less is the goal and that's 9:07 pace and my 12 miler was at 9:01. So I really don't need more speed. I just have to build the endurance to hold that for the full 26.2 miles !

 According to the pace charts, in theory I should be able to run about a 3:47 marathon but of course that is taking into consideration that I have put in the long runs. Let me say now, I have no intentions of trying to run that fast in March.  Maybe someday later but #1 priority now is just getting that BQ and once that is taken care of then maybe I will work on that 3:47 again which was my BQ time for the 2016 Boston.

 So for those wanting to follow along here is the coming weeks plan. Mid week is the pace workout.
 1 mile warm up, 3 x 2 miles at 25k race pace (8:30) with 1/2 mile recoveries, 1 mile cool down.
 Long run of 14 miles.
 3 or 4 days of easy runs from 4 to 6 miles.

 Let the fun begin !

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Returning to the marathon.

 This post is just to give some of you followers a little background on my experience with the marathon.  I began running 42 years ago in 1977 and soon after decided I wanted to run a marathon. I finally felt I was ready and entered the Columbia (SC) Marathon in Mid February of 1981. A few days before I came down with the flu and wasn't able to race so I signed up for the Wilmington marathon 3 weeks later. Unfortunately I was still congested in the lungs and weakened and my experience in the race was not so good with cramping and walking the last few miles. I finished in 3:59:05 and was so sore afterwards I decided not to run another one for a few years.
  Then life decided it would be a lot longer. Fast forward to 2002 and  it was after running my first 50k in Feb before finally running another marathon. This was the beginning of my long distance era and over the next 13 years I ran over 80 ultras and 50 marathons before choosing to run shorter distances when I turned 60. From 2016 and my last time racing Boston my mileage had begun a steady decline and the once a year marathons  that I did run , I was woefully under-trained for and of course I haven't raced an ultra since Dec 2015.
 As a result of the lower mileage and little racing long distance over these past several years, any endurance and muscle memory for the marathon is long gone. This return will be like starting over with the exception that I do have the experience and know what is needed and how to do it.
 This will be a short marathon build up with only 13 weeks to train for the Tobacco Road Marathon which I've entered with the hopes of qualifying for Boston. I'm not too concerned with that though because since giving the run top priority in my training since July when I quit going to 5 or 6 yoga classes a week I have gotten my weekly average mileage up to the mid 30's per week and hit the low 40's a couple of times so I have a good base to build on.
 I've got my training plan in place and it will began with at least a 12 mile run this Saturday Dec.14th and go from there. I'll be posting weekly updates so stay tuned. Boston 2021, I'm coming for you.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Return to the Virginia 10 Miler.

 Will this be the year I finally make a podium spot? Well, let's look back at a little history of my favorite road race.

 The VA Miler is one of the premier races in the country and begun in 1974. In it's long history it has seen a virtual who's who of elite running including many Olympians like Lasse Viren, Frank Shorter, Rod Dixon and Grete Waitz.

 I first ran it in 1978, my first year of racing. My brother and I went under trained and not prepared for this very tough, hilly course.In those early years it was earlier in Sept and had a 10 am start time so it got up to 88F and we suffered through it. Despite the difficulty we signed up for the next year and so began my 15 year streak until 1992. The next several years after my divorce my running suffered as I tried balancing work and raising two boys.

  As the kids got older and I began running more, I finally returned in 1999 through 2002. After that I became an ultra runner and it would not be until 2016 that I would come back once again.

 The race had always been very competitive and after I turned 60 and having some success at age group racing I was thinking how cool would it would be to actually make the podium in my all time favorite race. Early results in 2016 showed that I had finished 3rd and I was elated as I made a premature FB post but later after the results were revised I had dropped to 6th ! Grrrrr.

 I was unable to return in 2017 but came back last year and moved up to 4th. I made a vow that day I would return and give it my best shot at running my fastest time since 1992 and get that podium spot. Unfortunately I'm not in shape to do that. No ones fault but mine. I just wasn't prioritizing the running like I needed until mid July. Things are going well but I could use another 4 weeks of focused training. As it is I can only go and give it my best shot and see what happens. It's going to be a hot one so fast isn't an option but at least my competitors have to race in the same conditions so I'm not ruling out placing just yet.

 Below I am listing all my previous results. To give you an idea just how tough this course is, my record here of 1:08:15 is nearly 4 minutes slower than my 10 mile pr set a year earlier !

1978 - 1:47:02
1979 - 1:18:55
1980 - 1:17:30
1981 - 1:09:36
1982 - 1:11:57
1983 - 1:13:23
1984 - 1:08;15
1985 - 1:09:18
1986 - 1:21:27
1987 - 1:11:35
1988 - 1:19:55
1989 - 1:19:09
1990 - 1:13:37
1991 - 1:16:49
1992 - 1:18:48
1999 - 1:25:47
2000 - 1:29:22
2001 - 1:24:03
2002 - 1:28:12
2016 - 1:23:07
2018 - 1:25:10

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Preparing for a Classic in Utica

Tomorrow morning I will be running in the Utica Boilermaker 15k. Why you may ask? Well, when I decided to stop running ultra's and focus on the shorter distances 3 years ago when I turned 60 one thing I wanted to do was try and compete in some of the classic non marathon races that have been around since the time I began racing or earlier.
  In my younger days I ran the Virginia 10 miler in 1978. I met Bill Rodgers there and got an autograph and he just happened to be at the race expo today.( He won this one in 1983). I also ran the Cherry Blossom 10 miler a couple of times including my 10 mile pr run in 1983. The Maggie valley 5 miler used to draw a couple of thousand runners and was big on the elite circuit in the early 80's.
 But my big time racing ended soon after that and once I decided to start the second life as a racer I concentrated on ultras and marathons.

 Well a few years ago about the time I was doing some running and workouts with Laura, she went to Utica as an invited elite masters female and crushed it and came back raving about the race so I thought I'd give it a try. Only problem is it's always the weekend of Grandfather Mt Marathon. But two years ago I signed up but then had the stress fracture in my heel that kept me from running for  over 3 months so I cancelled that trip. And then last year I had big plans for GMM but lack of training ( no excuses I just didn't do the work) cancelled that.
 So this year not having anything big on the agenda for Summer I decided it was time to finally come to NY. Well, I'm not in racing shape but I'm going to toe the line in the morning and do what I can and try to have some fun.

 This is a big race with nearly 12,000 finishers last year and even more in a 5k for about 19,000 total !

 Last year I was able to knock off another big race, the Cotton Row 10k and I hope to race one or two of the other classics for as long as I can. But for now, wish me luck, I'm gonna need it.

 Here is the race website.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Lookout Rotary Port To Fort 5k

  I ran this race which is located in Downtown Morehead City last and enjoyed it quite a bit so I once again used it as an excuse to visit my friend Stephanie and little Bowie that lives about 30 minutes away. It's a fast course and the locals put on a quality event with that small town feel. They do have a half marathon that actually crosses the sound and over to Fort Macon, hence the name, but the 5k stays in town and runs along flat residential streets.

 I arrived early Friday afternoon so of course Stephanie had planned a hot sweaty run exploring  the country roads around her home. I wasn't tapering for this as it was mostly for fun so we enjoyed the time and had a chance to pet a variety of four legged animals including a donkey, a mule and a Shetland Pony.  There are some great views of the water and marshlands and even a little peek of the ocean between a couple of islands along the route.

 I was surprised that she had followed through on plans to run the race this year as she usually runs only longer events and this would probably be her first 5k road race. I assured her that she would still be faster than most and to just run hard and have fun feeling the speed ! So,early Saturday morning we made the  drive over and easily found parking within two blocks of the start/finish area and made our way over to pick up our race packets.Then we did a  little warm up mile before making our way to the start. I won my age group last year and was hoping to repeat but my mileage has been much lower this year so I really wasn't expecting to be as fast.

  As I lined up close to the front of a field of about 150 entrants, there was one older guy there checking me out. He looked ready to rumble. Ok, it's on. Let's see what you got. And then we were off. 50 yards later and I never saw him again. There is a u-turn after about the first half mile and we were already spread out a bit. I was feeling pretty good and settled in. Stephanie looked like she was comfortable and having fun as we passed by. I was in about 15th place at the turn.

 Over the next mile I made my way past a few that need to learn about pacing and hit the mile in about the time I expected, slightly slower than last year. Just cruising along now trying to hold pace. There was another u-turn just before mile two and I had moved into 11th place. Stephanie was still moving well and still smiling.  My mile 2 split was still a bit slower than last year so I knew that any thought of matching last years pace was not going to be happening but at least I was feeling good. Over the home stretch I had a nice back and forth battle with a couple of 30 something women but one finally pulled away and I was able to make the pass for good on the other one.

   I hit the final stretch and crossed in 23:30, just 22 seconds slower than last year and once again in 10th place overall and first in my age group. I didn't have to wait too long before Stephanie finished and although I told her before that she would make the podium she was surprised to win her age group as well ! We were having too much fun waiting around for the awards and entertaining some of the volunteers.

   So, if you want to have a fun time and  have an excuse to make it to the coast , then check this one out next year.  A week afterwards and Stephanie is asking me advice on speed work !

Friday, March 01, 2019

Training update 3-1-19.

 I haven't posted any training updates in awhile and none so far this year so here is a bit of how things are going.  Towards the end of January I started to finally begin to feel good in my workouts again after fighting off  a cold for about 4 weeks. Even though I tried to keep the training up during that time the effort seemed much harder than it normally does. My mileage is still a bit lower than I'd like but I'm focusing more on the run now and expect the weekly average to climb . Right now I'm still only at about 30 mpw but at least I'm getting in some good quality runs.

 I did no racing in Feb but things will jump into high gear now. I have a training plan for my #1 Spring goal race but that doesn't start for another 4 weeks. In the meantime I have been doing a variety of workouts to keep a bit  of zip in the legs and prepare for the more intense work to come.

 In addition to the running I am still a regular in yoga class trying to do at least 3 and sometimes 4 classes of hot yoga. I only make ot to yin a couple of times but try to make up for it with a home practice. And then usually twice a week I'm in Laura's Grind and Unwind fitness class that has helped in a lot of ways but is really good at building stability and core with lots of compound movements with a cardio kick thrown in. I do have a bit more free time lately and I've started back trying to get in the gym for weights a couple of times a week which is something that kind of fell by the wayside for most of the past two years. It's fun and I'm glad to be back at it. and I still do home core and body weight stuff a couple of times a week.

 Bottom line is I'm doing at least two and sometimes three different types of workouts a day, usually 2 to 3.5 hours per day and I'm feeling fit and strong and ready to go !

 Tomorrow, Saturday Mar 2nd I'm racing the Florence Forth 10k in Durham. This is not an "A" race on my schedule and I only decided to run it 5 days ago and I haven't tapered at all for it. I of course will be racing hard and hope to podium but it's mainly to see where I am pace wise so I can properly design my workouts going into training for the big race on Memorial Day, also at the 10k distance. Is this 1979 again?

 Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Run Holden Beach Half Marathon.

  This race wasn't on my original plan for 2019 but after cancellation of the Running Journal Grand Prix series I decided to skip Winter Flight 8k and run a half  which fits in with my plan to work back up to marathon shape better anyway. Other than the bridge( more on that later) it's a flat fast course and a good way to kick off the year of racing,

  My training has gone ok but it's been hampered by a cold that lingered for about 5 weeks. It never was really bad but affected my breathing and I'd start coughing sometimes in a run and almost always afterwards. But finally that seemed to have cleared up over the past few days. As race day approached things started to look good and falling into place and the weather forecast of mid 40's to low 50's was nearly perfect.

  As I made my way to the 7am start, the sun was just beginning to rise. I only did a short half mile warm up in the dark. I lined up with a goal of just getting under 1:49 which we be my fastest since last March but I wasn't all that confident.

  The race started right on time and after less than a quarter of a mile we began to climb the bridge which is tough without much of a warm up. The bridge like every new one built over the  Intracoastal Waterway is a minimum clearance of 65 feet and this one is probably the steepest one of them due to the topography only allowing for a short ramp. And it would probably have been impossible to even squeeze it in so rather than straight over like all the others, it is built with a couple of S curves but it's still steeper than cemetary in Umstead.

  So, anyway, I backed off the pace not wanting to go into oxygen debt in the first half mile and enjoyed the view !  Cruised down the backside and before too long hit the first mile in 8:14. Not bad since my overall goal pace was around 8:15-8:18. The next few miles were on the mainland and about pancake flat. Mile 2 was 8:00. By now I was feeling good and that felt fairly easy and was a good confidence boost. Mile 3 was at the first turnaround and it was 8:05. At this point I could see everyone ahead of me and I figured I was in the top 50. I saw one guy that looked like he could possibly be in his 60's in the top 20. If he was 60 then no way I'd be winning today.

 Mile 4 was 8:19 and I was cruising and happy. Mile 5 was almost at the top of the bridge as we made our way back over to the island. I was actually surprised at not having a struggle and  almost holding pace in 8:22. It was still too early to think about trying to push the pace but I did try to get a little momentum going off the bridge. Mile 6 felt almost easy and was my fastest in 7:55. Wow, I may beat that 1:47:? I ran in Tennessee last March !

  Mile 7 was another 8:00. This was awesome. And then as we made the turnaround to head back to the opposite end of the island I realized why the last two had seemed so easy. It seems the wind had picked up and was now blowing a steady 10mph or so. Not all that bad but you could definitely tell a difference in the effort. Mile 8 was 8:11, still faster than goal pace. Mile 9 was 8:16, still good but I could tell I was wearing down a little while I mentally convinced myself I just had an easy 4 miler to go. Mile 10 included maybe 4/10ths of a mile on a dirt/sand road.  It was pretty hard packed so not really much of an issue but it combined with a 3rd mile in a row into the wind and I had my slowest mile of the day in  8:35.

 Ok now, just a 5K  to go ! You can push that home ! Goal is still in the bag ! Between mile 10.5 and 11.5 we had several little rolling hills over some dunes(on asphalt at least!). Nothing long or steep but I was feeling them and to be honest when I went through mile 11 in 8:24 I had expected slower. Now I was really working the mental math. I still felt like I had the goal but the cushion was disappearing.
 Mile 12 came in 8:31. Not good but I felt I had enough in me to push it home and as long as I stayed under 8:30 it was all good.

 The finish line is directly under the bridge and it sure looked an awful long ways to it but after a short little in and out and u-turn in a neighborhood I could see the mile 13 banner ahead.   That one was 8:24. A right hand turn and there it was. BAM ! 1:48:51. Mission Accomplished.

 I was soaking wet with sweat due to high humidity and effort despite the cool 53F at the finish and the breeze so I immediately begin walking to my car to get warm and changed into dry clothes. I checked online but no results had been posted so when I went back for awards I had no idea how I'd placed. As I suspected it turned out that guy that was so far ahead was 64 and ran an amazing 1:36:36  and came in 15th place overall ! I was 2nd by about 3 minutes and 49th of 381 finishers.

 This race is part of a series of Beach runs by Coastal Race Productions. This was only my 2nd time running one of their events but they are really quality races. I paid 56:25 including fees which is very reasonable with most halfs going for 70 to 100 dollars these days.  For that you get a certified course, timely starts, plenty of aid stations and porta potties. ( I got lucky and found an indoor bathroom open with no line :). Good water stops, and food and beverage at the finish and the Biggest medals out there if you like medals.  I'm also  signed up for Sunset Beach half on March 30th so come join me as I try to knock a couple of minutes of my time.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Carolina Beach Trail Half Marathon

  I had originally signed up for this race just for fun and training. I had expected to be recovering from a marathon but I ended up not running that. I also expected to see my friend Stephanie and  maybe run some miles with her but she got sick and couldn't make the trip. I was still fighting off a cold but on race morning my lungs were feeling better than they had for a couple of weeks so I decided to go ahead and race it hard.

  Race morning turned out to be warm and humid but at least the rain had stopped. It was about 62F at the start. I went for my usual warm up mile and ran into MTC friends Mark and Irene and talked to them a few minutes. They had both raced last year and told me to be prepared for sand. I had run on some trails in the park but it was over 20 years ago and I had envisioned dirt and hard packed sand with some pine needles and a few roots. How bad could it be?

 I finished my warm up and lined up with about 300 others. I had no idea if or how many other seniors were racing but I was hoping to make the podium. We started off on the park road in front of the visitors center and then turned onto a paved bike path along the border of the park. This allowed for a fast start and a chance to spread out a bit before hitting the trails. After about .8 mile we turned into the woods and it was just how I had remembered it.   I went through mile 1 in 8:08. Cool. That was better than expected so just maybe I could make my goal of sub 1:50:00 today.

  All was well and I was having fun and making my way around a few people and then we hit the first of the deep sand along the waterfront. Good thing it wasn't a long section but I was already thinking this could be tougher than I had planned on. Mile 2 was about 8:37. The next mile was mostly some fun stuff and I was right behind a couple of locals that were familiar with the course and they were talking about Sugarloaf and how it was going to be hard going over it twice. Hmmmm.

 So then it was there in front of me. Sugarloaf is an ancient sand dune mostly covered in forest now but still pretty deep sand. By Umstead standards not a long or steep hill but definitely a challenge. The path up was wide and fairly hard packed but the race took us down off the main path and it was very narrow, twisting sandy and eroded. The people in front of me walked the while way down and there was no way to pass. In reality I"m not sure I could have run it much faster so I stayed patient and it wasn't that long anyway.  Mile 3 was about 9:04 and any thoughts of sub 1:50 were about out of the equation now.

  Mile 4 was a bit of the more enjoyable stuff with short sections of deeper sand but overall not too bad. Then we hit mile 4 and a water stop. Then it turned ugly. We left the trail and went cross country over and through sand pit hell for about the next half mile. It was deep, much like trying to run on the beach at high tide, just sucking the life out of the legs as I tried to keeping running a somewhat normal gait. Somehow I still managed a 9:37 but now my plan was to just run hard but not try and push it not knowing how much more sand would be encountered.

  Around mile 6 we came out onto the bike path and soon were back near the start area. I did pick up the pace and ran what would be my last sub 9 of the day. The next half followed the first mile and a half but then we veered off in a another direction and crossed over onto a  couple of trails we didn't run on in the first lap. These trails were nice most of the time but every few minutes there would be some deeper sand but at least we didn't have to go through the sand pit again. By now I was hovering around a 9:20 pace but I was still feeling pretty good and confident that I wouldn't blow up.

 Around mile 9 we went up the only other significantly sized hill and it was fairly steep and I walked about 15 seconds near the top. . After that we soon merge back onto the trail we started on but in the opposite direction. And so eventually we came back to Sugarloaf but going up the backside gnarly trail. I walked most of it too but once I hit the summit and about 2 miles to go I just started hammering. Well, as hard as I could under the conditions. The humidity was getting to me and it had warmed up to about 70F, not typical late December weather. We did a short out and back spur along the river and it had a lot of deep sand so mile 11 was my slowest of the day in 10:21.
view from sugarloaf

 My new goal had been to break 2 hours and trying to do the mental math showed that was becoming doubtful but I pressed on. With a mile to go I still had never noticed anyone that looked my age so as I came off the trail for the last push to the finish I still had no idea if I would place.  I came to the line quicker than expected finishing in 2:00:06. Good enough. I was quite happy with it because after all it was a trail race and more of a challenge than I bargained for. Most importantly was that I felt good and was pleased with the effort I put into it.

 After resting a few minutes, I walked back to my cabin to grab my phone to check for the results. Boom. 1st pace 60 and over out of just 6 of us and I won by over 7 minutes. I'll take that.

   I doubt I run this one again as there are just so many other things that I want to do but if you like trails and fun it's worth a try. The organizers did a great job with the event. Everything went smoothly. Plenty of volunteers and despite the many turns and different trails the course was very well marked and for a trail race there were plenty of water stops. The race schwag was pretty cool too.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Looking ahead into 2019

 As I move forward into the new year my main goal is to get my weekly training miles closer to what I was running from 2003 through 2015 and be a bit more focused on getting in the hard workouts on a more consistent basis.  My racing schedule for the 1st half of the year is already booked up for the most part but depending on how things go there is a little bit of space to be filled if something comes along that suits my plans.

   At this point there are no truly epic adventures planned and unless something changes this will be the 4th year with no ultras. At least not until very late in the year if the mood strikes.  But there are some things I'm planning that if I hit my time goals will be pretty epic for me. So here is how things are looking right now.

 The big thing for Jan and Feb is to try and build mileage so I can actually run a marathon  and be properly prepared for it,something that hasn't happened the last two years. I've only got one race, the Holden Beach Half Marathon on 1-19.  I just want to see some progress on getting back to times resembling what I was running in 2016 to 2017.

 Nothing but miles.


 Wrightsville Beach Marathon on 3-9. If things go as planned I hope to be in shape to actually race it and go for a Boston Qualifier. I may not be quite there by then but hopefully can have a strong showing. I'd like to get back to Boston but if I have to wait until 2021 that will be ok because that fits with my every 5th year pattern.  but yeah, I hope to go for it. With the new tougher standards I need a minimum of  sub 3:50 now so probably at least a 3:45-3:47 to guarantee a spot.

  On 3-30 I'll do the Sunset Beach Half Marathon. If recovery goes well after the marathon I'll be ready to keep pounding down the half times.


On 4-14 I'm signed up for the Inaugural Sir Walter Miler Half Marathon which is on the section of the Neuse River Greenway that I do most of my training miles. Overall if the weather cooperates it should be a fast course and that's my plan.. To go for a really fast time. Other than volunteering as always at the Umstead 100 I have  no other plans for the month but may decide to run a half at Morehead City. Or a 5k.


 One of my big goals of the year is to return to the Cotton Row 10k in Huntsville AL. This is the only race from the GP Series that I'm returning to. It's a great event but I was not really satisfied with my time there. I really need to put in some strong hill training which I didn't do last year. I seek redemption.  5-27, Memorial Day.


  A race thats had my curiosity up since it began is the Vertical Mile at Rocky Face Park.  8 laps of a 2 mile loop up and over the Mountain. Ridiculously steep and challenging. Sounds like fun !

 July: Will this be the year I finally run Grandfather Mountain Marathon again? Well I iope to be in shape for it. 2 years ago I had to bail as I was coming off the stress fracture and last year I was just nowhere near marathon shape. Hopefully things will be different this Summer.


 No plans at this time.


 Ok, this is the biggest goal I have for the year. Return to my favorite all time road race, The Virginia 10 Miler, run it faster than I have in about 20 years and finally make the podium. In 2016 and 2018 I finished 4th. This year I intend to make a fantasy come true. I must have speed and most importantly strength on the hills. After training for Cotton Row, Rocky Face and Grandfather I should be prepared to put the icing on this cake.


 Nothing planned yet but the month is full of fun options. I'll come up with something.


 I always said I had no interest in the City of Oaks Marathon but after winning the 10k two years ago and placing 3rd in the half last year I decided to go for the trifecta and shoot for a podium finish in the Full. With all the hills it's gonna hurt.  Make it So.

 I'll decide last minute probably on how I finish up the month. Maybe return to Foot Locker or do something different.


 No plans at this time. Maybe another marathon if needed for a BQ.

 That's it. I'll update probably by May or June as plans unfold for more Fall events. Stay Tuned.