Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Memories from '13 and more


Well, the year ’13 is just about wrapped so it must be time for me to do my yearly rear view mirror post. It is so hard to believe that another year has passed.

Time speeds by so quickly. It seems like just yesterday that my daughters would just a barely walking. Now, they can walk me to death at the mall.

’13 was great year because Stan and Jinnie and Ben and Megan brought another generation of runners into the world. I look forward to seeing them grow into awesome individuals and awesome runners if they so choose to be.

’13 was great in other ways too. I saw a runner coming of age. How many years has it been since Mark and Alana started coming to races around Charlotte. There was a time when she would go out hard but fade back after a mile or so. Now, she goes out hard and fades into the distance ahead me as I watch her go.

Life moves on and we should make the most of it while we can.

Before getting to my racing highlights, I thought I would share some of the numbers from my ’13 training regimen. I averaged over 77 miles per week for the entire year. My average long run was 19 miles as flagged in AthletiCore. I reached the 4000 mile mark with over a week to spare. I spent an untold number of hours running this year. But if I could do some quick math – based on an 8 minute pace, I would have run for roughly 547 hours or 13 weeks. Broken down by 52 weeks, I averaged 10 hours of running per week. It seems like a lot doesn’t it.

My ’13 season started early with the Frosty 25k in Winston Salem on a course around Salem Lake. The weather was cold but I had a good day. With a temperature of 25 degrees at race time, sweating wasn’t a concern.

Feb saw me racing Thomas down East Blvd during the Cupids Cup 5k. All the while gazing ahead to see  Aaron and Billy matching surges several hundred yards ahead.

Feb also saw me hanging with Bubbles the Elephant at the Myrtle Beach ½ marathon. Just a mile in to the race, my shoe lace came loose and I ran with it that way the rest of the race. Running 1:17 while trying to keep one shoe on is pretty good don’t you think?

In March, I ran two races: Wrightsville Beach Marathon and the Lake Norman 10k. March had been cool all month long. That is right up to the race morning when it was 60 degrees. I was sweating by the time that I hit the 2 mile point. Once the sun came up, I felt like a well done turkey. A couple of weeks later at the 10k, I ran the hills of Huntersville. This was a small 10k, but it was fun and good to see Allen and Laura at the event.

April was a busy month for me. First, Caitlin and I raced together at the BBT 8k in Greensboro. She ran up the hills like a mountain goat. I poured it on to catch back up on the downhills. The last mile was pretty much all up hill and she put on a move that I just couldn’t match.

The Tar Heel 10 miler was next. Michael and I exchanged moves throughout the race.  Then, there is long hill during the 8 and 9 miles where he put a gap on me. I made some of it up once we were over the top but not all of it. He beat me to the line by a scant few seconds.

My last race in April was the Sandy Feet 5k. I don’t remember the number of years that have passed since I last raced in Matthews.  The course had changed but the new one is a bit better except for the run up Fullwood. This part is still tough.

During May, I ran just two races. The first one was the Beach Blast 5k in Albemarle. For whatever the reason, I always enjoying running in Albemarle and catching up with my buddies. Peter always puts on a great race.

The following week, I headed to Mt. Holly for their 5k event. I remember we ran down, down, and more down for the first mile. Then, we went up, up, and really steeply up, over mile 2. Then, we turned sharply down hill before starting another climb back to the finish.

For the entire month of June, I ran track meets. The summer track series at high school was awesome, but trying to run every event was just plan crazy. I was so grateful to Jeff and Stan for running the events with me. But boy was I tired and sore. The first couple of weeks, I can barely run from the soreness.  Since Tuesday nights were not enough, I throw in the Jim Law 1500 and 5k on the track on one Friday night. We had just a few people in the 1500. By contrast, I ran the 5k solo. There is nothing like having everyone stare at me while I clicked off lap after lap on the UNCC track.

In July, I ran the Beat the Heat 5k and our CRC Summer Track Series. They call it beat the heat for a reason, but every year, it feels more like the heat beats me. I am always totally “gassed” by the end. Heck, I am usually totally “gassed” by 2 miles.

The first year of our CRC Summer Track Series was great, and I wish that I could have run it more than just one week. But this lone week, I was able to run 2 mile time trial in 11:01. Supporting an event can be its own reward as well and it helps our club to have an extra set of hands.

In early August, I got this email from Peter about his Trifecta Series. I thought why not. First, I ran Tour De Elvis 5k finishing second. We actually ran the course a little different and I liked it better. I don’t know if I can get Peter to keep it that way for future races but here’s trying.

Next was the YMCA Community 8k. They have this hill challenge in the first 3 miles of course so I had to try for it. I was so totally “gassed” by 3 miles. The rest of the way, I was just surviving until the finish.  However, I did win the polka dot shirt.

Intermixed in the Trifecta series, I ran the Charleston 15 miler. They say what doesn’t kill you then makes you stronger. I am not sure how true this is but the Charleston course definitely will test anyone.

My quads were totally smashed by the time that I reached 8 miles. The rest of the race, I was in cool down mode.

A couple of weeks later and hoping for some September cool weather, I ran the Badin Run the Valley 10k. This was the first time that I did the 10k. I have always done the ½ marathon which is one of the toughest ½ marathons around.

Just so you know, the 10k runs over part of the ½ marathon course so it isn’t much easier.

I did, however, pick up the RRCA-NC 10k Championship for my efforts as well as winning the Trifecta Championship. I really have to say “thanks” to Peter for coming up with these out landaus ideas for us runners and then making them a reality.

Oct saw me in full on racing mode. Early October, I ran the Wine Glass Marathon in 2:46. The heat was not bad but the humidity and the “Nats” were terrible. I had these huge black spots on my arms and jersey where I ran through just swarms of them along the course.

I guess during this race came my tough moment of the year. Someone yells to me that the 8th place guy is just in front of me at 25 miles. I cannot tell because of all the ½ marathoners. I tried to surge. At first my legs start to go then they fold. I realize that I need to focus more on finishing than catching this guy so I let off the throttle. With maybe ¼ mile to go, 2 guys bolt past me. When someone passes, I look to see who it is. I realized that they both are Masters’ runners so they are in my age group. However, there is very little that I can do about it. My legs simply have nothing left.  It made for a long drive back from Corning, NY.

Bad things happen for a reason. The best approach is to push them to the side and keep moving forward.

A couple of weeks later, I am at the Big South 5k. I am finding more and more that people seem to just launch off the line at 5ks these days. I cannot seem to match them anymore.

About a mile into the race I catch Dalena. Peeking at the turns, I know she is close behind me, and I run hard over the next two miles so I can avoid what I know is coming. No such luck. We come off the last corner and she goes flying by me. Even better the finish line photographer captured the moment so I can remember it forever.LOL.

I finished off October by running the OCCAAF 5k in Stalling, NC. Warren, the event’s race director, had reached out to me about organizing a race, and I sent him some pointers as well as suggesting that he get a timing company involved. While I was at the race, Warren asked if I would be willing to hand out the awards. I gladly accepted. Being an award presenter is awesome experience to me. Getting to congratulate each person that comes up to receive their overall or age group award is so very important.

With so many good races under my belt, most people might think that I would call it a year. Actually, I was just getting started.

During November, I ran ½ marathon and marathon on successive weekends, then skipped a week before running Santa Scramble and the Turkey Dash on Thanksgiving Day.

The City Of Oaks ½ marathon was a tough race. I thought I was ready but I took a different kind of Gu during the race. Within a couple of miles, I felt bad. Then, between the hills and the Gu, I really didn’t shake if off until the 10th mile of the race. That’s when I started to find my legs again.

My recovery was short and sweet because six days later I was headed to the Outer Banks for my six straight OBX marathon. I tried to rest up as much as possible. I don’t know how much it really helped. I jumped in after a mile so with Michael and a couple of other guys. We tore through the first 10 miles in well under an hour. I hit the dirt roads of the Nags head trails and I knew I had probably buried myself. I ran some slow miles during this 3 mile section before returning to some decent miles once back on the paved roads.

From there, I was just holding the wheels on with both hands. Things were going well until I ran up the bridge headed for Manteo. The bridge was like the last straw. I was basically in survivor mode the rest of the way to the finish.

Two weeks later, I ran what is my favor race to do – Santa Scramble in Concord, NC. There is nothing like running in front of so many people. I cannot explain why but when I might otherwise ease off a bit during a race, the energy from the crowd keeps me digging hard.

I would wrap my season up with a 3rd place finish at the Turkey Dash race in south charlotte. This was a first year race and they were having their growing pains. I also felt my own pains during the race. I ran the first couple of miles with the Turkey Dash – Turkey before watching him slowly pull away. This was my last race of the year and it was a good thing. My tank was empty and in needs of some long easy recovery miles to rebuild my strength.

Since I injured my hamstring a couple of years ago, I felt like I have lost a few steps. Things like getting out fast for a 5k or maintaining a long steady beat of 6 minutes miles just seems to be beyond my reach this past year.

The march of time waits for no man. I know I am slower and I know that I will be slower still with each passing day. All runners face the prospect of slowing down, but how they face this ugly monster will define more about them as a runner than anything else.

The same enthusiasm that made me a runner so many years ago is still the same enthusiasm that sent me out the door yesterday, sent me out the door today, will send me out again tomorrow, and will do so the day after.

 

’13 Rearview mirror,

The Cool Down Runner

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