I have lost count of the number of times that I have run the
Santa Scramble 5k race in Concord. To me there is nothing like running along
with people lining both sides of the course. When my legs are saying no more,
when my lungs have reached full capacity, when my arms feel like they are tightening up,
knowing these people are there keeps me pushing forward.
Saturday afternoon was overcast and windy, but fortunately,
the wind was at our back for the most part. I spent a few minutes chatting with
Bob Marchinko. He was giving this song and dance explanation that he was
getting older, fatter, and out of shape. Let’s just say, that I listend but was pretty skeptical. However, I kept my opinions to myself.
Following my usual pattern, I ran up to the start. Since Santa
Scramble is a point to point course, this helps me get in my warm up which is a
plus. On the downside, I have to wear my racing stuff during my warm up.
We are mingling just before the start. I see Stan and
Jinnie. I hadn't expected to see but always enjoy seeing the Fillnow twins – Kelly and
Megan, along with Ashton, Larry, Steve, and Brenneman. I am not sure but I think this was
his 3rd or 4th race of the day. I also saw Milton. I want
to say that perhaps two years has passed since both Milton and I were at the
same race. Milton is a super nice guy and always good to catch up with.
Finally, we are all lined up and then get the final countdown.
My plan was to get out as fast as possible.
Fast is relative to the person. We launch off the line and
kids are passing me on both sides.
There is an ever so slight rise during the first mile. Then,
the course levels out before beginning a slight decline.
I hit the mile in 5:33. My lungs were burning. My legs were
saying no faster. My arms felt like they were stiff as a board.
I am picking off a few people now – one or two at a time.
Bob wasn’t that far ahead of me at the mile, but he is
slowly drawing away. I keep pushing and work hard at controlling my breathing
as best that I can.
I pass 2 miles and hear the guy call out 10:58. Some quick
math tells me that I just ran a 5:28 second mile.
Having run this course so many times, I know what is coming.
I turn off the parade route, run about 100 yards to the next
turn, and then get a nice long descent. I catch one guy and then another.
I am still pushing hard on the downhill which means I should
be hurting, but I am feeling better. I surge away from the guy with me.
I cross over route 3 and climb the only real hill on the
course. I am pumping my arms as quickly as I can in hopes that my legs will follow
I round the final corner, and I see clock. The display reads
16:55. I am sprinting for all that I am worth to break 17 minutes. I cross the finish
line at 17:01. “Darn it”. “I missed it”.
I looked back to last year, and found that I ran 17:03. I
guess I should be happy. I am one year older and two seconds to the good.
Bob ran off and left me. He finished just over 16 minutes. I
knew better than believe anything he ever says about being out of shape.
Overall, I had a good day. I finished 1st in my
age group and got to run on one of my favorite races of the year.
Boundaries surround us. Running has become one of the ways
that the everyday person can look within their self current situation and
strive for something even better. Running gives us a visible, attainable way to
achieve. All we need to do is look within our self, work hard, and have the
mental strength to persevere.
The weather in Charlotte today is miserable. Reasons are
abound to remain indoors. The cold seeps into your bones. The rain chills our bodies
to their core. Our running cloths are weighed down by the soaking, pouring
Only the love of running will push us over the front stoop.
The same determination pushes us over the rest of the
hurdles in lives– even if we do not realize it.
There is no such thing as “too much information”. This is
especially true when it comes to runners and gels. A friend of mine, Jonathan
Savage, lives and runs in the university area. He is also a pretty good ultra
marathoner so he knows a thing or two about refueling during runs and races.
Jonathan is a real details kind of guy.
I got this from the very first time that we met.
Jonathon has put together a great article on gels which is
worth every runner’s time to read.
I thought that I would share some of the numbers from my
most recent visit to Fly Wheel. If memory serves me correctly, I last did a Fly
Wheel class in December of ’12. Chris had invited me along with several other
guys to participate in a Fly Wheel session.
Too much time had passed because I had forgotten how intense
these Fly Wheel sessions can be.
A group of us waited just outside the room while they finished
cleaning the room from the previous class. We entered and went to our chosen
bikes. I adjusted my seat to fit me and the climbed on.
Our instructed wasted very little time in getting us started.
The lights went down and our instructor was already prompting us to up the
Within minutes, I was sweating, and the sweating did not
slow until the class finished some 45 minutes later.
One of the unique parts of the Fly Wheel class is the
resistance training that they combine with in their spin classes. Probably, 30
minutes into the class, we were all instructed to pull out these 2 and 4 pound
bars. I was following the lead our instructor as she went through different
exercises with both bars.
In all honesty, my arms were burning within minutes. I hit
the weight machines regularly, but I do not do these exact exercises. At one
point, I watched our instructor raising her bars up and down. I was just happy
to hold my bars still. My shoulders were burning and burning badly.
The lights finally came on again.
I wiped sweat away and headed out to change. One thing about
these spin classes, they leave me pretty spent.
Below I have listed the statistics from my class. For a runner,
I guess they are decent. This one of the great things I do like about Fly Wheel.
The ability to track my ongoing numbers is great inspiration for me to improve.
I spent my morning cheering on my friends that were out
running in the Thunder Road Half and Full marathon. But just as importantly, I
cheered on a lot of runners that I don’t know.
The day started early when I headed for the TrySports Cheer
zone at the 9.5 mile mark. I found myself scanning the runners as they passed
for the people that I knew were racing. I wanted to give them a shout out by
name. As the crowd of runners grew larger, I found several runners were calling
out my name as they passed. I of course shouted back once my eyes locked on to
them and recognition was established. In a sea of orange, lime green, blue,
pink, etc of colors, I have to admit something. Everything thing blends
Long about 9:30, I headed over to my second cheer section near
the 25 mile which was to be our Charlotte Running Club cheer zone.
The cheer zone at 9 miles is important but maybe the 25 mile
cheer is the most important. Here, the majority of the runners were locked in on one thing. They wanted
to be finished. Their bodies were experiencing dehydration and fatigue.
Cramping was becoming an issue. They have moved from looking graceful at 9 miles
to struggling now. Several runners were stopping to stretch or taking a walk
break. Our group sent tons of encouragement their way because they needed
it the most. There is nothing like
seeing them stop to walk and then hear us cheering. Then, they try running again.
Our cheer zone remained in place until well after 1pm
One of the final runners came by our location and made this comment to us - “Thanks for being here for
the stragglers”.We stayed and cheered because
he needed our energy just as much as the guy that won the race.
On a side now, my voice is a little raspy and my throat is “scratching”
this morning, but these side effects will pass and the reason behind these
effects was well worth it.
To Jinnie, Lauren, and Kat, Rob, and Caitlin, “Thank You”
for helping organize our cheer zones. Making a difference requires so little
effort, but it does require it.
To Thunder Road racers enjoy your rest and recovery time.
I was giving a talk about running a while back. Toward the
end of the talk, I had one young lady ask me what I thought of running with music.
My answer went something like this.
Yes, I have run and listened to music on my iPod nano, but I
don’t recommend it. Listening to music while running removes one my early warning
systems that I depend on – hearing.
Many times, I have stopped short while running down East
Blvd because I heard a car suddenly trying to turn on to the street that I was
And cars are just one of the dangers. Listening to music obscures
the sound of an anger dog, or of another runner, or even someone with less than
honorable intent. I never know what possible danger will be lurking around the
To be on the safe side, I suggested that she seek out a
running buddy. She could ask a fellow member of her team. They could schedule a
regular meet up time. In my opinion this is a much better solution to doing long and boring miles solo.
I went on to add that if you do see me running with music,
it will most likely be on a treadmill. Treadmill running is not without its own
dangers but usually I am in a more secure location – either at my home or in a
fitness center like our local YMCAs.
Runners need to always think safty first. Otherwise, you are
betting you life on it.
Since I started running the OBX marathon in '08, they have always had
a decent group of master s' runners show up each and every year. This year's group was no exception.
Michael Dwomoh is leading our contingent. Michael hails from
the Raleigh area. Last year, Michael ran something like 5 marathons in 5 successive
weeks. During this time, he ran 2:38 and 2:40 marathon. He finished it off with
our very own Thunder Road here in Charlotte. Running one marathon is hard,
running 5 is beyond comprehension.
That is until this year when I met. Jeff Mescal. Jeff lives
and trains in Hebron, Indiana. OBX was Jeff’s fifth marathon in 5 weeks, and he
has another trail marathon scheduled for next weekend. Count them; this is 6
marathons in a row. During this streak, Jeff knocked down a sub 2:40 marathon
during a hilly Akron, Ohio marathon. Jeff and I are roughly the same age. I
know how my body feels after just one marathon. I cannot image what it is like
to bounce back for another marathon in just 6 to 7 days. Incidentally, Jeff
finished just 10 seconds behind me at OBX. During our conversation afterward,
he told me that didn’t know I was there until we were nearly at the finish line.
With all of the half marathoners, his view of me was totally obscured.
Scott Reamer, I met during my morning run on Saturday through
the Nags Head woods. Scott is a professional runner. Yes, as a masters runner
he makes his living by running and doing triathlons full time and is sponsored
by Powerbar. We probably talked for 30 minutes before he headed off for a swim in
the ocean. Really, the day before his marathon, he swims in the ocean. The
water must be something like 50 degrees. I don’t know how he does it.
How I met Eric Makovsky is another interesting story. Eric
was looking for information about OBX and stumbled across my blog. He then shot
me an email. Eric is a super nice guy. Eric is in the Navy and is studying to
be a nurse if I remember correctly. However, before his recent venture into nursing
he sung our national anthem for the Navy. He even sung it before the start of
the OBX marathon. Through my 48 years, I have heard our national anthem song on
more than one or two occasions. Eric did an awesome job. Eric makes his home with his wife and children
in Virginia Beach, VA. We have already exchange some email about syncing up for
next year’s OBX marathon.
Martin Thorne is from Salisbury, NC which is just a few
miles up 85 from Charlotte. Martin is an excellent master’s runner that I met a
few years ago during some races up in that area. Martin was shooting for
someone closer to 2:53 or 2:54 but like the rest of us, OBX’s pesky head wind
made all of us run a little slower.
Congratulations on our efforts guys, and I really appreciate
each of you taking a few minutes to share your personal time and stories with
Sunday morning, I was standing at the starting line of the
OBX marathon. This would be the sixth consecutive year that I would be making
the trek from Kitty Hawk, NC to Manteo, NC.
I wish I could say that I was brimming with confidence
before the race, but this would be a lie. I had run 2:46 at Wine Glass 5 weeks
ago, and thought possibly with a great day, I could run a 2:45 marathon. Thus,
I set my goal for the race to be a sub 2:46.
All week, the weather man called for temps to be the upper
40s, but race morning dawned with a temperature around 51 degrees. 51 degrees is not
perfect for marathon but decent.
What made it feel even colder were the winds out of the
south west. I had chosen to skip wearing cloths so my hands were shaking as I stood
at the starting line.
One would think with
a six hour drive to the Outer Banks, there would not be any familiar faces in
the crowd. They would be wrong. Both Dalena
and Philip were running this race. Blair also from Charlotte was running. There
was also a huge group of fast masters’ runners in the field.
Right from the start runners were forming in to packs. Michael
and I soon settled in to a group of two. The first mile clicked off in 6:19 and
then 6:01. Then, for the next 8 miles we ran 5:50 miles. At first it felt
comfortable, but around 9 miles, I could tell that the pace was starting to wear
We entered the Nags Head woods, and I decided it was time to
let him go.
Through the woods, I went 6:25, 6:33, and 7:03 on the trail
Through the first half the race, we were met with a strong
head every time the course ventured near the Intracoastal Waterway.
Coming out of the woods, I was running completely solo along 158 and enjoying a
steady head wind. I also realized that the temperature was rising as well. A
few times, my sweat would get into my eyes and start burning. Wiping it away
seemed to help.
I made the first of two neighbor loops which took me over by
the Intracoastal Waterway to catch an extra blast of the head winds coming off
By this point, I had all but given up checking my splits. I
knew I was starting to pay for the early pace and OBX was throwing in a big
head to make sure that I paid for my early friskiness big time.
Back on 158, I passed the 20 mile point and was grudgingly having
to accept the wind head on. This is the part of the island where it opens up
and the race heads out and over the big bridge.
I could feel my hip flexors and quads tightening as they were chilled by the wind. I reached
mile 23 just before the crest of the bridge, and then looked to the right to see
Coming off the bridge, my hamstrings were begining to show some wear and tear. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I was expecting Dalena and Philip
to come flying by me.
Dalena had told me at the start that she was shooting for
2:48, and I saw on FaceBook that Philip was looking for 2:50. I just knew that they were right
Finally, I reached Shell Service station and turned right. I
don’t think that I have ever been happy during an OBX race. I finally had the
wind at my back even if it was just for the final mile.
My legs were hurting. Actually, they were totally spent.
Those early miles spent running 5:50s were reallly starting to take their toll on me. I ran a
study and painful 7:36 those last 3 miles.
The last half mile, I find the energy and the strength to
push to the finish. After crossing the finish, I looked around to see another Masters
runner right behind me.
To be honest, I don’t know what told me to keep pushing when
every fiber in my body was telling me to coast to the finish line.
2:51:35 was my chip official time which placed me as the 3rd
Masters Runner and 2nd USAT&F Masters runner.
After the race, I was disappointed in my effort and my
finish time, but as I thought more about it, I realized that I was being too
hard on myself.
I should not be critical of my race tactics by examining
them too closely after the race. After all, hindsight is easy to judge. Looking
forward and making decisions is a lot tougher.
Setting here now, running 5:50 miles was probably more than
I was ready to do. However, given the options, I felt running in a group was
better than running solo. From past OBX experience, I knew how hard it is to
negative split the OBX course. The neighbors during the first half shield a lot
of the wind. For 95% of the second half I ran exposed to it. Miles 19.5 to
24.75 were directly into the wind.
In wrapping things up, I have to give a shout out to the OBX race
committee. Once again, they did an awesome job pulling off this marathon.
I also want to say thanks to the people of the Outer Banks
area. I have run several marathons in recent years. OBX is the only marathon
were the people standing alongside the course say “thank you for running our
marathon”. It is the little things like this that keep me coming back year
On the race front, Blair and Dalena also get a shout out for bringing back to
Charlotte the men and women’s open titles. They both ran awesome times.
Congratulations to the both of you. Congrats to Philip for running a solid sub 3 marathon.
I realize that the world has both good and bad elements to
it. And if given the chance, some people will take the easy road over the hard
road. This is just human nature.
This is why our English language contains the word “criminal”
I like to think that I live in a safe neighborhood and am
ever vigilant to the dangers around me.
But I am not too foolish to believe that my “safety net” cannot
be ripped away at any moment.
I was reminded of
this fact recently when a friend of mine was attacked by three male perpetrators.
They put a gun to her head. Then, they struck her in the head with the “but” of
the gun. This was all while in the presence of her children. Innocence’s once
taken can never be returned.
All these three individuals took was her cell phone. In reality, they took so much more.
They took the “peace of mind” that we should all be able to live
and consider ourselves safe.
I realized on Friday that I didn’t have my usual Power Gel
for my City of Oaks ½ marathon on Sunday. RIE is just 5 minutes from my house
so I dropped by on the way up to grab a Power Gel.
To my amazement, REI did not have a single Power Gel.
Thus, I was left to sort through the various other gels and
choose. Finally, I opted for a Honey Stringer Gel. I have never tried the honey
stinger brand before so I would be violating the first rule every runner has.
Do not try anything new on race day.
Fast forward to the first mile of the race, I opened the Honey
Stinger Gel and took a big gulp of it.
From the very second the gel touched my tongue, I did not
like it. I was, how should I say it, already committed to the race so I gulped down the
rest of it.
A couple of miles later, I suddenly was not feeling so good.
The feeling is hard to describe but basically I was feeling
The yucky feeling would last to nearly the 10 mile point
before I would start to feel better.
Like most runners I have “comfort” brands of gels that I
Even with years of experience I find that I still do dumb
stuff from time to time. This one certainly fits right in the “dumb idea” mold.
On Saturday, I ran the City of Oaks Half marathon in
Raleigh, NC. Raleigh shares some similarities with Charlotte. Pretty much any
course will have at least some hills and the longer the race the more hills
that should be expected. I was reminded of this fact while running past the 10k
finish line during the race. At this moment, I was climbing a rather
challenging upgrade. In the back ground, the announcer could be heard talking
about the race. I remember him saying that the City of Oaks race has a
challenging course, but runners should remember – “What goes up, must come down”.
I am not sure that he has ever run any of the City of Oaks
races. The course to me seemed to have a lot more uphills than down hills.
I went to this race shooting for a 1:20 half marathon, and I
ran 1:20:59. I would l have liked it to be closer to the 1:20 than 1:21 but
still I have to consider it a win for me. This placed me 16 overall and 1st
in my age group.
I started out well and felt good through about 3 miles. My
breathing was under control and I felt strong. I reviewed the course profile
and knew that there were two significant upgrades – one around 4 and one around 7.5
As I passed the one mile point, I took my Honey Stinger Gel.
From the moment that it hit my tongue, I did not like it. I am not sure if it
was the taste or the consistency, but I ate it anyway.
Maybe this had something to do with what happen next.
Around 4 miles, I was started having a bad patch. I felt
like I was running hard but not going anywhere.
I topped out at 5 miles, but I just felt like I was
Mile 9 I ran in 6:38. Yeah, this may have been the toughest
section of the race. Mentally, I really felt like my race was over at this
point, and I should just nurse it home. Then, the course took me through a
bunch of tall rolling hills. Then, there was a long climb up to 12 miles. I ran
6:15, 6:19, and 6:17 for these miles, but I was starting to feel better and
stronger. I clicked off the 13 mile in 6:01.
After the race, I grabbed some water, got my clothes from
the baggage drop, and did an easy mile and half run back to my hotel to clean up.
Leading up to the race, I spent a lot of time looking at the
course video, the course directions, and the elevation profile. Like I said, I
knew the course was hilly.
However, based on the maps, I thought the miles 4 through 5+
miles were going to be the most challenging because they seem to have the
steepest climbing section. The miles from 7.5 to roughly 9 climbed but over a
much longer grade.
Now, that I have run the course, I think just the opposite.
The hills from 4 to 5 are much easier and the miles from 7.5 to 9 are much
The course is hard all around. The half is probably a couple
of minutes slower than running say a Myrtle Beach marathon.
Right now, I am not sure that I will be back next year.
Although, I will leave the option open. Something inside me says that I would
like to get some redemption. We will just have to see how next year unfolds.