Friday, July 25, 2008

New River Trail

As I get ready to start another weekend, something has me thinking back to last weekend. If you have read my blog, you know I ran the Bear Hole 10k at Twin Falls State Park in WV.

Well after finishing the race and collecting my award, I headed south for Galax, VA. Galax, VA is one of the trail heads for the New River Trail.

If you are not familar with the New River Trail, it is part of the rails to trails conversion. Former rail road beds are transformed into walking, hiking, and riding trails.

The New River Trail probably covers about 55 to 60 miles in distance. People visiting the trail can access it from many points along the trail. If you are looking for a map of the trail, try Googling on New River State Park Trail. There a nice pdf that shows the entire trail and the points where it is accessible.

Since I had raced on Saturday morning, my plans was to ride my mt. bike over the 50k course for the New River Trail 5ok race. This course goes from Fries, Va to Galax, Va and back. I was riding course backwards by starting in Galax, Va. If you are wondering why I would ride it backward, it was because my hotel was in Galax.

During my ride, I had some great views of the Chestnut and New Rivers. I passed through 1 tunnel and crossed numerous bridges. The largest of which is the one that crosses the New River. Surprizingly, I saw a lot of people walking and riding along the trail. Being that neither Galax nor Fries is a large town, I never expect to see so many people on the trail.

There was also plenty of wild life along the trail. Near Galax, I saw a lot of ducks. I saw many deer including a dow and her 2 fawns. I did see 1 snake but we both were looking to avoid each other.

By the time that I had finished, I had ridden about 35 miles and took me almost 3 hours to complete.

Sunday morning was the true test as this would be the first time that I would run on the trail.

I was up early and drove to the Fries Trail head by 7:30 AM. I clocked my first mile in a little over 7 minutes and then started clipping off the miles around 7 miles. As I got deeper into the run the miles kept inching faster.

My last two miles of the 16 mile run were in 6:38 and 6:39. I was surprised at how easy the run felt. I could have probably did 4 miles at the same effort.

After finishing the run, I hoped on my mt. bike for some more riding. I covered the same course that I did with my run but it felt far easy cruising along on my bike.

Interestingly, I noticed alot of people riding along the trail with fishing poles. They were riding into the more remote sections of the New River Trail to fish. Or maybe they were just avoiding the Game Wards, I am not sure which.

Both Galax and Fries are small quiet towns. And the New River Trails is a great get away from the busy life in Charlotte. If I can arrange my schedule, I am going to visit there again in August.

I have already set my self a goal of riding between Galax and Pulaski and maybe back. If I did the total distance, it would be close to 100 miles on a bike. But I need to get in more rides before I attempt this feat. My rear will not handle it. 35 miles hurt.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bear Hole 10k 7.19.08 Recap

Twin Falls State Park near Mullins, WV held their 25th annaul Bear Hole 10k this past weekend.

I drove about 3 hours and 45 minutes. I passed through 2 tunnels and didn't get any speeding tickets. I had my fingers crossed the entire time. I wasn't able to leave Charlotte until about 6pm so it was almost 10 pm when I arrived at the park.

It had been 11 year since I last visited the park. But either at night or day light, I don't think the park has changed. It is still very dark at night. They are no street or parking lot lights. There is no cell phone coverage or internet access. If you need to call someone, they do have a pay phone. You know the ones that are coin operated. And if you need to use an ATM machine, it is about a 10 mile drive the nearest one.

So yes, visiting Twin Falls State Park takes you away of the evils of technology. It is kind of nice to know that are still places in the world where you can get away.

The 10k race started at 9am. The lodge was only 2 minutes from the starting area so I had time to drive around before registering for the race.

Seeing course in the daylight is certainly different than on the drive in last night. The hills look tough.

I got registered for the race - no chip timing and the cost was $12.00 to enter.

I wore my calf sleeves and compression tights. As all ways, I got some strange looks but after the race a I received a lot of questions about them.

I did see a few old face but just a few. But I made some new friends along the way.

The race started with the blowing of an air horn. A couple of recently graduated x-country runners took the pace out. I fell in line behind them so I could get a sense of the pace.

After about 1/2 mile, we were running 6 min pace so I moved around them and started picking up the pace. One of them stayed close for another mile but then I started to hear the foot steps and breathing fade. I pushed through the 5k turn around in 17:21.

On the way back is one of the steepest and longest hills around. The steep section is at the bottom, but then it is about 3-5% grade for another mile as it winds through twist and turns.
My legs had grown heavy by the time that I came over the top. After a couple of hundred yards my breathing finally caught up and I pushed toward the finish.
The finish lines comes into view early. This can be a little disconcerting because you still have about 1/2 mile to run. Checking my watch, I was a little worried. I didn't think I was going to break 36 minutes. But I put down the hammer anyway. I crossed the finish line in 35:45. The 2nd place runners was around 38 minutes and the 3rd pace runners was 41 minutes.

I remember running this race in the late 80's and runners from all over came to it. It is sad when a race falls on hard times. I don't know all of the reasons but I suspect it lacks the right leadership. I say this because there were only about 50 runners and it took over 2 hours for them to assemble the finish order for the awards. I been to a lot races and when you see people holding up a paper and everyone looking at one another for answer, you know you have a problem.

Overall, I still like the Bear Hole 10k. Like I said, it is a tough course but I have probably run the last of their races.

Monday, July 14, 2008

RFYL 4 Miler 7.12.2008 Recap

Saturday morning RFYL held their annual 4 mile race beside their Dilworth Store.

The course circles through the local neighborhoods, runs down East Blvd., circles through the Dilworth Loop, and heads back up Worthington where it turns downhill to the finishline.

The course evalation follows as a mostly up hill first mile. The 2nd mile is fairly fast down East Blvd. The 3rd mile has only a slight up hill hint to it. The 4 th mile is mostly headed downhill with a flat finish.

Running a fast time can be tricky on this course. It is easy to get pulled out too fast and then really fade during the 3rd mile. It has happened to me many times.

The race went off only a few minutes late. I headed out following Steve Spada during the first mile. We ran pretty much side by side or with him a step or two in front of me for the first 2 miles. As we were turning the corner at 2 miles, Steve indicated we were going to be catching the guys in front of us. I wasn't really paying attention as I was just trying to keep up.

We caught Mike Beagay going into the Dilworth loop. He started throwing in surges and Steve picked-up the pace to go with him. I wasn't feeling the greatest at that instance. We turned the corner on to Worthington. Mike threw in another surge and I decided to chance it and go with him. I felt Steve wasn't reponding to Mike's surge. If I had anything left this was the time to use it and I started throwing in some surges of my own.

From that point on I didn't look back only forward. Chris L. pulled off the course. The heat and humidity were high and Chris was showing signs that it was effecting him. I caught the 5 th place runner. We race through the last down and uphill on the course. I pulled head of him by the final turn.

Then I set my sights on the 4th place runner. I caught him during the downhill section but I couldn't hold him off on the last flat section to the finish. I ended up just a few seconds behind in 5th place

According to my Garmin, the course was about .09 ths long or about 25 seconds. Since I have an alert on my watch, I know when each mile has been completed. Based on this I think the additional distance must have been included in the first mile. I remember hearing alert sound and it sounded pretty much at the same point before each mile.

For me, it was a good race. I was expecting to see Steve among others just pull away. I am not sure where the surges came from on the 3rd and 4th miles. But it felt good to want to push and have the legs responding.

Monday, July 7, 2008

3 Keys to Successful Running

I wanted to share a conversation that Peter A. and I had a few weeks ago as we rode over to the Magnum Shirt Run. Peter is involved in a Runner's 101 program and has the huge responsibility of helping new Runners begin their running journey. I am sure he is always looking to get new ideas to share.

As we rode along our conversation jumped from topic to topic. Almost all of them were related to running. I am don't remember how we navigated to the topic of successful running, but I recounted that I had come across 3 keys to any successful running endeavor. These keys are nothing earth shattering and I confess that I am not the originator these keys. But I do give my self credit for recognizing a good ideas when I read or hear them.

These 3 keys are: Rest, Consistency, and Diet.

Rest: Each person has their needs for rest. But if you are starting runner or you have increased your training miles, there is a good chance that your body can use some extra rest. As I increase my mileage, I try to hit the bed around 10 instead of 11. During my Marathon training, I will even try to hit the bed around 9 pm. I know my body needs a good 8 hours of sleep per night. After a 20+ miler, I have been known to sleep 8 to 10 hours. Although, it doesn't happen very often. My daughters are usually up at the crack of dawn.

Consistency: Let me start off by saying consistency doesn't have to mean running everyday. But it does mean running regularly. If you are a new runner, consistency for you may mean running 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 days per week. For someone else it may mean running track workouts on Wednesday and Long Runs on Sunday. Consistency means to me that over a given period of time, you are getting out the door for those runs. So relax, if you miss a speed session, long run, or just a day of training, just remember be consistent and go for those runs.

Diet: This is the most interesting one. I found my self bouncing between a strict and loose diet. When I am training for a specific event, I usually watch what I am eating. I focus on eating lots of natural fruits and vegetables and drinking lots of water. During my loose periods, I will enjoy a hot cup of tea, or a soda, or being from the south, a large glass of sweet ice tea. I found that even doing my down periods I don't indulge in what I call bad foods. I eat some chicken and fish. I eat lots of pasta dish. I seem to avoid potato chips even thou a I love them. I might grab a bag of M&M once every couple of months. I had to move to the fat free French Chocolate Bryers Ice Cream. We all have our vices. The important thing is to focus on having a heathly diet as much as humanly possible.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Need a New Pair of Running Shoes

Running and racing a lot, people often ask me what is the best running shoe. My honest answer is you have to find the running shoe that best fits you. By this I mean you have to find the running shoe that fits your running style i.e. your body mechanics

Most running stores can help you to find that perfect running shoe. TrySports has a five point system that helps get runners into the right shoe.

But getting into the right running shoe is only part of the process. Care for and knowing when to replace running shoes needs to be addressed.

From my many years of running I have pulled together this list of running shoe guidelines that I like to follow:

1) Buy more than 1 pair of running shoes and alternate or rotate through them
2) Buy different brands of running shoes. Different brands use different technologies so the shoes wear differently.
3) Allow running shoes to dry completely before running in them again. This is especially true during summer runs when shoes can become soaked during a long run.
4) Allow 24 to 48 hours before running in the same shoe again. This gives the shoes time to rebound the pounding of the run
5) Use shoes appropriate for the workout i.e. lighter shoes for tempo and speed work and mod/heavier shoes for easy runs.
6) Start looking to replace your running if your running shoes no longer set flat on the floor but are rounded upward at the heel and toe. They forming to your stride and are no longer providing you with the support that you need.
7) Replace your shoes if you knees begin to ache. (the is the truest sign that someone needs new shoes)

Now this last one can be a little tricky. This is especially true if you have multiple pairs. My rule here is if I have run more than 200 miles in a pair of shoes, I start to look to replace it.

Another thing that I found is that for me a 100 dollar shoe tends to wear better than a 50 dollar shoe. I suspect this has more to do with the construction of the shoes than my running style. But since I like getting new shoes regularly, I ususally get the 50 to 60 dollar shoes. I have one exception to this rule. For marathon training, I get the 100 dollar shoes. From my experience, they take the pounding better especially if you are using them for your long runs. In prep for my last marathon, I got a pair of NB 1223 and they handled my long runs just fine. I am planning on getting a new pair in prep for my fall marathon training.

So there you have it. A quick running factoid on how to care for and when to buy new running shoes.