Wow, 2010 was an awesome year for me. So much so that I am not sure that I can remember all of the things that I accomplished this year. But as always, the year is drawing to a close so doing a quick rewind is in order.
Chasing awards and Championships seems to be getting harder as I get older. After being the top Masters' Runner in the Run For Your Life Grand Prix Series, I wanted to step out and take on some different challenges. Run some bigger and different races. The culmination of those efforts resulted in my bringing home the RRCA of 8k Masters Championship, the USA T&F Masters 10 mile, ½ marathon, and Marathon Championships. In addition, I competed in the USA T&F Endurance Series which include USA T&F-NC Championship races from the mile to marathon. I feel both fortunate and lucky to have tied for the Masters Championship with John Hinton.
The year wasn't without challenges. I had to work my way through several injuries that could just have easily sidelined me on a permanent basis.
What I would like to do now is share some thoughts from 2010.
January, the year started off on a very high note. I went down to Florence, SC and picked up a win in their ½ marathon with a 1:17. Then I had planned to do the Winter Flight race in Salisbury but due to the snow the race got postponed until February.
February was a month of ups and downs. The Myrtle Beach Marathon only to have it canceled due to snow. Hey, they don't even have snow plows in South Carolina. It was during this adventure that I hurt my Achilles. The swelling and pain were bad but not bad enough to stop me from running the postponed Winter Flight race. Odd as it may seem, I was running in Myrtle Beach in the Snow one week. A week later I am in Salisbury running the Winter Flight 8k and the temperature is 60+ degrees. Definitely, the change in temperature was unexpected and the body wasn't handling it all that well. But I did close with a 28:12 and picked up the first award of the year. I want the Masters' RRCA – NC 8k Championship.
The churned by and I was out to the White Water Center doing my first Duathlon. Talk about having a deer in the head lights feeling. I came in for my first transition and it felt like I was there forever. Putting on cloths, gloves, and helmet seem to take an eternity. The feeling was only made worse because other athletes were zipping by me.
The bike ride was fun but getting passed by some many others was a little disheartening. I remember Tom T. passing and I thought he had some time jets on his bike. He was just gone.
I did get a little revenge. Some of the people passing me on the bike, I caught during the 2 mile run. The first time that I do anything it is always a learning experience.
March started off with a trip to Mocksville, NC for their 10k race. This race has been around for many years but for one reason or another I just never did it. It was a great morning to run. Caitlin saw me during my warm up and joined. It was also where I first met Molly and David – two great runners from the Winston Salem area.
The race started and Ryan was soon out sight. A few of us were working out way through the course when we missed a turn. We came up to the next "T" intersection. Looking both ways, we didn't see anyone insight. Ryan was fast but not that fast. About that time, some guy comes flying up in car saying that we missed the turn and need to run the ½ mile back. Ugh!!. By this time runners are streaming up the correct course.
So any runner would do I put the body into overdrive and run as fast as possible trying to catch everyone. Adrenaline will only carry me so far. About 4 miles, it was like coming down off a huge high. The breathing was labored and legs weighed a ton.
Upset was probably putting it mildly. I was having a good day and saw it go do the tubes.
Sometime, working off the frustration is the only way to handle it. I was solo for the weekend so I headed across to Cary, NC for a little recon on the Tobacco Road marathon course which was in 2 weeks.
Nearly 60 miles of riding and another 26 miles of running left my legs died tired.
Rest will be plentiful when I die. Two weeks later, Bobby, Jonathan, and I were at the starting line. This was also where I met Jordan for the first time. He had asked me to pick up his packet. In order to pick up a packet, I needed a copy of Jordan drivers license which I got. Then the next morning, I was trying to locate Jordan based on picture from his license. They looked like to totally different people. Ask to see his license sometime if you don't believe me. LOL
Tobacco Road Marathon was surreal. I never felt good the entire race. I just had this sluggish tired feeling. However, there is a bright side. I never went out that fast and stayed consistent the entire race. Coming home, I finished in 2:43.
April began with the April Fools 5k in Albemarle. Peter always knows how to make things exciting. There were people firing paint ball guns at us, squirting water and lobbing water balloons at us. We finished with a climb through the blow up obstacle course. Definitely, it will be a must do event for everyone in '11.
After a three week recovery period, actually it was only going to be 2 weeks but they canceled the Carboro Duathlon, it was the Tar Heel 10 miler followed by the Flying Pirate ½ marathon. In the Tar Heel 10 miler I picked up the USAT&F – NC Master Championship. In the Fly Pirate ½ marathon I picked up USA T&F –NC ½ marathon Masters' Championship. This was also the first time that I got to race John P. He is solid Masters' runner from the Richmond, Va. Area. We battle for nearly 10 miles before I slipped away on the Nags Head Trails to finish 3rd overall in 1:16.
I'd finish off April with a visit to Richmond, Va for the USAT Duathlon Nationals – finishing 18 than qualifying for worlds. This was huge surprise considering that this was on my 2nd Duathlon ever.
The month of May started with a busy weekend of racing: 5k in Waxhaw, the next morning ride the Masters' Criterium in Dilworth, on Sunday morning, do the Morganton Biathlon (run and bike only), a Carolina Time Trial Cycling on Wednesday, and then the Raleigh 10k USAT&F – NC Championship on the following Saturday. Looking back I don't know how I did all of those events. I wish I could have completed the 10k with the championship, but after 4 miles John H. just put on a surge that I couldn't match.
With all of the major running in the bag, it was time to focus on cycling.
June came and I was off on vacation so no Cycling Time Trial, but I returned just in time to do the Durham Running of the Bulls 8k. Biggest mistake of the year, I came back from spending a week at Disney. I was probably 3 or 5 pounds heavier and legs were in no shape for running. During the first mile, I ran 5:30 and I was done. I struggle home in 34 minutes. After the race, I made a mental note to never race the weekend after returning from vacation unless I am taking a running vacation.
The rest of June was filled with easy running and lots of group bike rides. This was only my 2nd year riding and the first time that I had ever ridden with a group. Riding is so much different than running. The rides are all out and then recovery which is followed all out again.
July started off with a bang or in my case a crack. During a group ride, several of us piled up when a car swerved at us. It didn't stop me from training but it did slow me down. I got a fast time in another cycling time trial at the speedway. Two weeks later, I suffered through the Beat the Head 5k in 17:56. This was probably the most painful race ever for me.
A week a later, I was down in the south Charlotte riding in my first 100 mile – actually 101 but whose counting. For the first 35 miles, we had a big group before things started to splitter apart. I hooked up with another rider and we rode together for the remainder of the race. I was happy with the result. We averaged nearly 20 mph and finished just over 5 hours. It was also the first time that I was really happy to come off the bike. Somewhere around 90 miles, I was feeling like I wanted to be finished.
I had wanted to start my training plan for Twin Cities in July, but mainly I just did the miles running with nothing really hard. The last of July, I started hooking up with Mike, Nathan, and few others for some marathon paced runs. In the first one, Mike and Nathan were just gone after the first few miles.
August was filled with Time Trial in Rock Hill, SC and at the speedway, 5k race and 100k ride in Albemarle, NC, and the USA T&F 10k Trail Championship. I got a 10 mile PR at the speedway. I struggle through the 5k in Albemarle and then rode a hard 100k the next morning. I was riding with a group when we got mixed up at a turn. I was never able to recover but I spent the race of the ride catching guys that dropped off their group.
The USA T&F Trail Championship 10k was the toughest 10k that I have run. There were times during the race where I was running, but it was intermixed with walking and climbing on all 4s. After the race, I told myself that I would never do another race like this one. I plan to honor this commitment.
September, I didn't run any races but I was finally able to get down to business with running. I had to slow the cycling down so my legs could recover. Don't tell anyone. I did slip in two individual and one team Carolina Cycling Time Trials. In '09 I watched the Carolina Cycling Team Time trial. This year I found 3 other guys willing to do it with me. We only worked out once beforehand and were riding more for fun than anything else. Several of the other riders told us that it goes by fast and it did. Every 45 seconds, I did my pull and before I knew it we were finished.
October kicked off with Twin Cities which was the USA T&F Masters' Marathon. Through 3 marathon paced runs Mike had kicked my "but". I was fully expecting him to have a great time. The first few miles of the race I spent trying to catch him. 7 miles in I finally gave up and let him go. He appeared to be running well and staying close to him was taking me out of my comfort zone.
Then about 14 miles, we closed back to gather. More out of surprise than anything I glanced out of the corner of my eye at him. 16 miles into a marathon is make or break time. If I jumped in a faster group and followed them until, I was the last one.
Climbing the last 10k to the finish at Twin Cities is hard. It starts out steep, and then transitions to something like the climb up East Blvd, in Charlotte. Crossing 25 miles, I thought I had a sub 2:40 for sure but there were a steep downhill. My hamstrings were balked at their usage and it cost me just enough time: 2:40:02.
Overall, the race was great experience. Mike ended up running fairly well. Caitlin rocked it with Olympic Trials qualifying Time. As for me, I went back to the room set in the bath tub of cold water for 30 miles. That's my reward for running hard.
Then, it was a week of recovery which was followed by two hard weeks of workouts and two races. First, the Tobacco Road 10 miler was hard on a still recovering body. I finished 5 OA and ran a 58:50. The following weekend, I ran the Mooresville Pumpkin 8k Run. My time wasn't impressive but it was my last major effort before OBX. I won the race with a time of 29:11
November, my running was finally starting hit high gear. For the 3rd year in a row I headed to the coast for the Outer Banks Marathon. Being that it was my 3rd time, it was also the charmed race. There wasn't any head wind and I had good competition to pull me along to a 2:41:33. This helped me take home the USA T&F - NC Master marathon championship for the 3rd year in a row.
My feet were not exactly happy with me. OBX had put a serious hurting on them, but a couple of Advil helped me chase Mike down the streets of Concord in the Santa Scramble to the tune of 16:41. I followed it some easy running before going to down to South Park for the Turkey Trot 8k.
I didn't run the Run For Your Life Grand Prix series this year so Steve and I hadn't been racing against one another. This would be the first time and I was looking forward to it. As luck would have it, he jumped out ahead and I closed up on his shoulder. We were literally stride for stride until Michael puts a big move on us at 3 miles. I was totally not expecting this him. I looked at Steve and half expected him to give chase. When it didn't happen, I took up the challenge. It was all that I could do to pull even with Michael. He puts on one bigger move heading to the finish which I cannot cover. I am now ready to settle in to the finish when I hear "Go Spada". A quick glance tells me that Steve is close fast. I don't know where I drew the energy from but I pull out a couple of more surges and barely escaped. Steve finished 1 second behind me. Honestly, I have always enjoyed race against Steve and am looking forward to many more year of it.
December arrives and I am putting trying to keep the wheels on the car. All year, I had been putting out feeler. I was trying to get together a Masters' team for the USA T&F Club Champion which was coming to Charlotte this year. There were definitely times when I thought it might not happen. Luckily, Rocky, David, Matt, and Chuck put aside their holiday season for one Saturday afternoon to join me.
Post high school and college running, team running is for the most part almost non-existent. Having attended the Club Championship in Lexington, KY last was what sent me down that path for having a team this year and I am glad that I did it. I wouldn't have trade the experience for any other running experience.
So the long year is now coming to an end.
As I look back on upon my accomplishments: 10 mi., ½ Marathon, and Full Marathon USAT&F Masters Champion, RRCA 8K Masters' Champion and finishing tied for lead in the USA T&F Masters Endurance Distance Series. Then there is the cycling: several PRs in the 10 mi. time trail and the 101 mile ride. There were 4 Duathlons including 1 win as well as qualifying for Worlds Duathlon Championships.
I have to say that '10 was one of my best years ever. I think I pour more blood and sweat into this year and than any previous year.
Happy New Year from the Cool Down Runner