Disney Dopey Challenge Finisher, Charlotte Running Company Hoka Race Team, Guinness World Record Holder, USAT&F -NC State Age Group Record Holder, Spartan Runner, Charlotte Running Club Member &Email Me
As a late week call, I put the Bunny Run 5k in Concord NC on
my race calendar. Just two weeks removed from my goal race, I felt like I needed
to get back on the roads again and put some racing under my belt.
The Bunny Run 5k is pretty late start for April. In the case
of this April, it was. Race time temperature had to be pushing mid 70s by the
time we rolled off the starting line.
Since the Bunny Run and the Street Light 5k share the same
course, I was well aware of what lay in store for me. Mile one is super fast
with a long downhill section. Mile two is relatively flat. And, mile three is –
well mile three is pretty much all uphill with some nasty switchback thrown
just to make our lives more interesting or possibly more miserable.
The starting line is packed with kids and adults.
With a quick countdown, we were sent on our way.
Running a 5k feels fast and different. My legs hate the need
to turn over so much faster. Watching everyone else, they bound along
effortlessly heading to the greenway entrance. What looks effortlessly for them
doesn’t feel the same way for me.
Switching from the road to the greenway the course levels
out. Each of those young runners now feels the true weight of running. Funny
how life is equalizes us all.
My patience’s during the opening mile pays off.Shortly after the mile, I match strides with
the race leader. At the turn around, I gain a slight advantage but he roars
back so we can run side by side. We switch back and forth wanting to take the
lead but the outgoing racers force us to return to a single file running order.
We cross under the road and see the 2 mile point just ahead. My pace carries me
in to the lead. Passing the two mile mark, I grab a cup of water and dump it
over my head. The cold water feels awesome and revives me from the sluggishness of
the heat that I am enduring.
Now comes the hard part of climbing back up to downtown
Concord. Not as much as seeing but feeling I know he drops off the pace. The
terrain steepens – slowly at first but growing more and more every 100 yards.
Reaching the switchbacks my legs feel the strain of the hills
but with only two options – push those thoughts aside or slow down, I opt for
Topping last switchback leaves me with weary legs but one
more hill still looms ahead. This last hill hurts badly.
Now, I am free to run
to the finish.
Three more corners are in the books. I dig it all the way to
At 52 years old, I claimed the overall Bunny Run 5k title in
The Concord Park and Rec Department deserve a big “pat” on
the back for job well done. They consistently organize well run races at a
reasonable cost. My race day registration was $20, and I got a shirt to boot.
The course was well marked and had plenty of course monitors. This included a
police presence and blocked off roads.
Races everywhere could take a lesson from these guys. Could
well be the reason they always have a large turnout for their races. Kudos to
them on their efforts.
Sorry, I am little late in getting this one published. Work
has been super busy lately, and this has caused my 2nd job/hobby
running to get pushed in to the background.
Anyway, let’s move on to the talking about the race.
On Friday, I drove up to Lexington, KY for a couple of
reasons. The primary one was to visit with my daughter who attends UK. Family
time is always important to me, and seeing a friendly face always helps.
Besides, she doesn’t mind that I take her and friends out to dinner either.
Then my secondary reason was running the Bluegrass Half
Marathon which starts and finishes Keeneland Horse Race Park. Friday evening, I
went by to check out the Expo and pick up my bib number. Surprisingly, they
have a rather nice Expo. Way more vendors than I expected. Also good was the
opportunity to check the race start and find a good place to park for race
In my preparation for the race, I spent quite some time
reading about the race. When I am unfamiliar with a race course, reading
several people’s reviews give me a lot insight to what the course is really
like. Based on my experience, runners will describe a course as it pertains to
the strengths. So if they are hill runners, they tend to play down the hills.
If they are flat landers, the course is pretty much considered by Everest
standards. Most reviews said this was Everest type of course.
Race morning arrived with a drizzling rain, gusting wind,
and a 40 degree temperate. With the wind chill, my body told me it must be in
the 30s. My arms and hands were shaking at the start.
The Yearling race heads off at 8:55 and the 7 miler and ½ head
off at 9 AM.
But before we can start, they play the Star Spangle Banner.
Okay, I am up for this one. Then, they play “My Old Kentucky Home”. Alright, I
am cold, and I am from North Carolina, let’s get this show on the road.
Within a quarter mile of the start, the course kicks up into
a monster hill, and my legs have nothing for it. I’d been sick up until Thursday
so may be this took something out of me. Or possibly, it was the 6 and half
drive. Or maybe, I just wasn’t ready for the hills. Whatever it was; I was
And, this course has a lot of hills. Over the 13.1 miles,
there are approximate 43 hills. Some hills were short but most were a long and
steep climb. Still others are rollers. They busted your lungs going up, and
then, beat the crap out of your quads going down.
For first 5 miles, I tucked in to a small group of about 5
runners. The wind was stinging at times, and pushed back with each step forward.
By 6 miles, they were putting a gap on me. I didn’t have
anything in the tank. My legs felt totally dead.
Between miles 6 and 8 the hills were beating me up. At 9
miles, my climbing was reduced to the lowest gear above walking.
We merged with the 7 miler around 9.5, and this helped. They
yelled in encouragement as I ran past. I needed it.
10, 11, and 12 miles hurt. Mile 13 was on along steady
climb. This happens when the course is a loop course.
Pretty much the only flat on the course was the last tenth
into the finish.
The Hickory Half Marathon in June is tough race but mainly
because it hilly and hot. The Badin ½ Marathon in September has tough climb to
the top of Morrow Mt. but still neither of these courses can hold a candle to
this Bluegrass Half Marathon. I can vouch for all 43 hills on the course and “but”
kicking that it gave me.
However, this wasn’t the only “but” kicking that I took. As
tough as the course was, I still finished 10th overall in 1:25:20.
In the Master’s division, I finished 6th. There were 3 Masters’
runners between 40 and 49, and 2 faster than me in the 50-54 age group. So out of
the top 10, 3 were Masters, and 3 were Grand Master. Not something that is seen
My award for the race was 6’in bourbon barrel. I have to say
this was rather nice and unique race award.
My overall assessment for the race – they did a nice job.
The course while tough was well marked with plenty of course monitors and water
stops. A nice little spread of food and beer were provided after the race. The
Expo was up and running on Thursday and Friday as well as on Saturday before
and after the race. Overall awards were given on the stage while the age group
awards could be picked up at a side tent. The race shirt was a thin hoodie.
Ok, let me start off by saying that my life has been forever
altered by my Garmin experience. Every run, well nearly ever run is captured by
my Garmin as proof that I went out my front door.
So recently, when the last of my long standing Garmins died
the horrible death that happens when batteries no longer have the “will” to
hold a charge, I was left Garminless if there is suggest a word.
Doing without is hard. Racing without is even harder now
a days. Long gone are the days where if I ran fast, it was a good day and not a
short course. And slow time meant that I was not feeling well or was tied rather
than course being 3 tenths long.
These days, I need to know these things. For no other reason
than I need to rationalize my own effort whether good or bad.
The time came that I needed to find a replacement.
After looking at the various brands and modals, I found myself leaning
toward buying another Garmin. But which one should I buy.
These days, a Garmin comes with more bells and whistles than
a BMW car. Did I really need all of those whistles?
After all, I wanted to GPS watch to capture my runs and that’s
pretty much it.
After some consideration and really not a lot, after all, I am buying a watch not a house, I dropped $70
on a Garmin 15.
Have I been happy it? Well, the answer is a bit complicated.
The short answer is both “Yes” and “No”. Yes, in that it
does what I need. It provides me with a GPS watch, captures my overall time,
records my splits using the auto lap feature, and allows me to see the history
But on the “no” side, the interface
is a bit on the crud side. And the directions for it are lacking in the way of
real usage instructions. Most if it I figured out just by pressing buttons and seeing what
Two of my biggest complaints are the display and the battery
The display only goes to 59 minutes and 59 seconds. Once it reaches this
point, it rolls over 00:00 again. Granted it still tracks your over all time
and splits, but you have to mentally add the 1 or 2 or 3 depending who long you
been out on your run. I haven’t found a way to
Then, there is the battery life. I am getting roughly 5
hours before it shuts down. For me, this means about every 3 runs, I need to
recharge it. Or for those marathoners in the 4 to 6 hours range, they will like
run out battery life before the run out of race. For ultra marathoner, it isn’t
even worth the effort.
For anyone considering the Garmin 15, this is very much a
entry level GPS watch. Yes, for the most part, I feel it does what it advertises,
but like your first home, you will quickly grow out of it.
Over the last two months, I have slowly ramped up my training to
the highest level this spring. Today, this 10 miler was my last big effort
before my spring ½ marathon in April. Every training plan needs a hurt me race
several weeks out to prepare both the mind and body for the coming effort.
I chose the Kings Mt. Gateway Trail 10 miler for a couple of
reasons. First and foremost, it gave me a decent test race at nearly the full
goal race distance before my half. I can train as hard as I want but nothing
test my resolve as a race does. Second, it was the cost. At $25 for a 10 miler,
this is hard to beat.
Plus, the Kings Mt. Gateway Trail has gotten lots good
press. So I definitely wanted to check it out.
Their 10 mile course is out and back along the Foote path.
The first 3 miles are rolling hills with some really tough accents and
descents. How tough? Well, anytime they have to put rail road ties on the hills
(they put these in to control erosion), it has to be pretty steep. Miles 4 and
5 are relatively flat with only a couple small inclines.
A couple of minutes after 9 AM, we were off and running. The
race quickly stretched out. I wore my Hoka Clayton because of the rocks on the
course. There is nothing worse than stepping on a sharp rock. My Hoka's took good care of my feet.
About a mile and half in to the race, I was running along
when I heard what sounded like the leaves rustling behind me. My first thought
was another runner was coming up behind me, but when I turned back to look, it
wasn’t a runner. A Pit Bull Terrier was tearing down the trail toward me. I
could not see this ending well for me. But he/she don’t know, came up and
started running beside me. We ran together to the next water stop. He started
after me again, but “sh” him back. I am the first to admit; seeing a Pit Bull
tearing at me is an unsettling feeling. My heart rate if it wasn’t spiking it
It took a couple of miles to settle back down after this
Then, after rocketing up and down (mostly down) the hills, I
crossed the foot bridge over I-85. Miles 4, 5, 6, and 7 were uneventful. As I
passed the turnaround, I snatched a peek at my Garmin, and then again when
the second place runner and I passed each other. I had roughly a minute and
Back down the hill, and up the steep side, my legs were
feeling it. Miles 8 and 9 were my slowest of the entire race. Miles 2 and 3 had
been tough, but going on in the opposite direction, miles 8 and 9 were even
But I bounced back with a nice 10th mile – finishing in 69
minutes and 13 seconds for 10.25 miles.
They gave the race winners a rail road spike which was
shaped like a runner. It was real unique award and one that I will display
Overall, these guys did a nice job with this race (Pit Bull incident
aside). Not knowing the course, it was well marked which I greatly appreciated.
They had 3 water stops. They had nice awards and a small sampling of bananas,
bagels, and water at the end. The shirt was actually a rather nice. Given, they
only charged $25 for this race; they had to be just breaking even.
For those who are headed out the Gastonia way stop by the Kings
Mt. Gateway Trail. It is a good place to get in a nice 10 mile run.
A couple of weeks ago, in my Valentine’s Day 5k Goodie bag,
they gave out flyers to this March Forth 5k/15k race in Denver, NC. The moment that I saw it, the idea of running
a 15k race intrigued me. A couple of the
days later, I put through my race registration.
This brings me to this morning. Standing at the starting
line at 7:30 AM with a temperature of 26 degrees, maybe this wasn’t as good of
an idea as I had thought. Unfortunately or fortunately, once committed, backing out
is never an option for me.
Off went both the 5k and 15k races at the same time.A couple of guys settled into lead with me
and another guy following behind. By Lake Shore Road, they had slipped out of
sight, and I was putting some distance on the 4th place runner.
With no mile marks, gauging how well that I was running was
really tough. And as luck would have it, the course had an abundance of rolling hills. Some of them were
rather steep. The kind that makes my legs burn and my breathing labored.
Toward the end, we did a little out and back on this side
road. This gave us an opportunity to check our competition and gauge how harder that we needed to run to the finish.
The two leaders were still together and looking strong. There no catching the. And, unless I fell
completely a part, 3rd place was pretty much a lock for me.
So keep digging was
all that I could do.
My goal going into the race had been 60 minutes given my
level of training. The 58:09 displayed on the clock was a huge surprised to me.
Given how difficult the course was I was half expecting it to be either 62 or
But I will take it. I walked away with a 1st in
my age award which as a nice gift certificate to use at you guessed it – Charlotte Running
Company Northlake. By the way, it was nice to see them out in the community
to support local events such as this in Denver. It really shows what Charlotte
Running Company is all about. Kudos to them.
Before I wrap up, a strange sequence of events happened to
me during the middle miles of the race that I wanted to share.
So as I said, early in the race I had
settled in to 3rd place overall. So back along Lake Shore Rd, I
caught a glimpse of runner in the distance. My first thought was that one of
the two leaders had crashed and burned. Over the next mile or so I reeled him.
Then, just as we were approaching a water stop and with me right on his heels,
he moves over and stops at the water stop. Glancing over as I passed him, I
noticed that he was wearing one of the race bibs.
However, something was off. He didn’t look like either of
the two runners ahead of me from earlier. They were both much younger. This guy was
older late 30s or 40s. My brain is turning this over and over wondering how he got in front of me. I was pretty sure they were only two runners ahead me which later
I was confirmed same two during our little out and back section.
Setting here now, I could kick myself because I didn’t think
look at his bib number. I would have
liked to ask him how he had gotten front me. I guess it is one of those questions that
will never be answered.
Several weeks ago, Jeff, one of my business park running
buddies, asked if I was coming to their Valentine’s Race in Denver, NC. I had
run it a few years ago, but with my typical spring marathon plans, it hadn’t worked
out as often as I would like to make a return trip. However, with no spring
marathon on my training schedule this year, I signed up.
And with a 9:30 start time, I can sleep late, and still
easily make the start.
To shed a little light on this race, they always hold it the
weekend after Valentine’s Day. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know, and I have never
asked why. Anyway, they should really call this race Cupid’s Revenge because
their course is one of the hilliest 5ks around. Literally, the only flat section
on the entire course comes in the first ½ mile which runs along the western shoreline
of Lake Norman. The rest of the course, I was either going uphill or going
down. The up hills were steep, and I often felt like the downhills were even
steeper.Needless to say, this course
challenges a runner’s lactic acid threshold and max heart rate. I vouch both.
Throughout my many years of running, I find small town races
are some of the best. They can also be some of the most humorists as well. For
example, as we gather for the start, the race director proceeds to tell us the turn
by turn directions for the entire course. And, yes, there are a lot of turns on this
course. When they do this, it always worries me. First, does he assume everyone
knows these streets by heart or I should I have brought a pencil and paper to write
them down. Apparently, getting to finish
is really a test of my ability to follow verbal directions. Second, more
worrisome is the course not well marked or will there be no volunteers
directing us. Running off course in a 5k isn’t so bad. However, I run off
course in a marathon. Now that’s bad.
Next is picture taking. Now, I understand the need for
pictures. Our Winter Classic is a growing race in January, and we like to use
pictures from our race in our advertising for the next year. So, yes, race
pictures are important, but how many do you really need. I lost count on how
many they took yesterday. But it was more than 5, and slightly less than infinity.
Of course, their playing of the Star Spangle Banner had to be
special. Ok, the playing of the Star Spangle Banner is always special, but they added something. He started with one horn and then switch to another one during the second
half of the song. I am not a music expert so which horns that he used is beyond my musical knowledge but it
was still pretty cool how he switch without missing beat. I give him major
kudos for his effort here.
Well, start time was finally upon us, and as one final part
of our race directions, we were all asked to run PRs. Apparently, the race was already 2
minutes late so they need us to run faster so they could get back on time. Now,
from my perspective, if they wanted me to run a PR, I am going to need more lead
time than race morning. I am going to need to go back in time about 25 years to run a PR.
So with a NASCAR style start we were finally off. It needs
to be noted that we used the American flag waving rather than a NASCAR green
flag to start the race. I am not even sure why I mentally noted this but I did.
As happens in many of these smaller races, if you were born
in the year 2000 or later, you have a license to go out fast. I felt like I was
taking a bunch of school kids to the play ground with them rushing by me on
both sides. Yes, they were all school kids so maybe there was a play ground along the course that I missed in the course directions given earlier. Of course, about ¾ of mile
into the race, the rubber meets the road or should I say their lactic acid loaded legs and their hearts thumping along at close 200 BPM were telling their inexperienced brains to slow down.
By the mile, I had steadily moved up to 4th
place. Before a mile and half, I had moved in to 3rd place. That’s as far as
I would climb. Now, it was my turn for my legs and heart turn to refuse to go any faster. My tiny brain was willing
but like I said my legs and heart were steadfast in their refusal to help my cause.
We rocketed down one hill only to be met with a steep
uphill. Back and forth, I went.
That darn kid that ran right in front of me was like a carrot on a
stick. He was just close enough for me to think that I might catch him yet just
far enough out of my reach to make it happen. Ugh, if you are racer then you
know what I am saying and how it feels.
Finally, my Hoka/Charlotte Running Company Jersey flashed
across the finish line. My 18:26 time was better than I expected for the course
or for being 3rd overall and 1st in my age group.
Major kudos goes out to all of the Valentine's 5k Race Crew and
their volunteers. They made this a memoriable event for me which is one of reasons why I
will be back.
Nearly two months have passed since I last strapped on my
racing flats, and I went racing. Why am I starting my post this way? Well, I am
getting the itch to put some racing miles in my training plan. This seem like the ideal weekend to do it.
On top of it, for the first time, in the several years, I laid out a
formula training plan and with a specific goal of a ½ marathon as the end all
target race. To set all this up, I needed some races to check my fitness and
for that matter, some tune races to shake the dust off.
This started me looking for a nice little 10k race. Something
where I had put in a solid effort but it wasn’t going to leave me recovering
for several days.
A few internet searches later, I was registered for the “Run
for the Cause 10k” in Fort Mill or rather Baxter Village to be more specific.
From what I gathered from the website, the course both 5k
and 10k were pretty much rolling hill course. All the better, I like a
And of course, the weather was not really cooperating. Race
morning at 9 am was bone chilling 25 degrees with a stiff wind blowing.
This is really too cold for racing but what’s a runner to do
but “suck it up”.
The race strung out pretty fast. A couple of runners jumped
out real fast, and through the mile, I was barely maintaining the gap between
Haven driven the course beforehand I knew where the 5k and
10 split. In the back of head, I kept repeating “turn right”, “turn right”, “turn
right”. Sure enough, they both turn right to continue along the 5k course.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your
perspective, I was going to be solo for the rest of the race.
When they said the course was rolling hills, they were not kidding.
There course had plenty of kick your “but” hills. There is one hill on “Gardinia”.
It must be a ¼ mile long but it is steep. My legs carried me up it, but they
were wasted doing it.
Then, it was up and down until we hit the local greenway,
and through the tunnel.
You are going to love this. The greenway ends with this set
switch backs. They are super steep before putting the runners back out on the road.
If my legs were not finished being cooked by the "Gardinia" hill, they certainly were now.
I finished in 40:12 and won a nice South Carolina labeled plaque
for my efforts.
Overall, this was nice little race. After seeing the
markings on the road, I half expected to be guiding myself through the course,
but they have volunteers at most of the intersections, and bikes out guiding us
through it. I give them a double thumbs-up for this part.
They had tons of door prices. There were 3
different dentist giving away gift cards for their dental services. There were
weekends give-aways in both Washington DC and New York City.
Sadly, I didn’t walk-away with any prizes, but I was there
so I at least had a chance.
So now with this 10k in the books, I need to kick my training up
another notch this week before jumping in another race.
Getting older just means I have to work smart as well as
Life is good. Another Winter Classic 8k and 4k have come and
gone, and what a weekend it was for it.
Runners were signing up in droves all during race week and
even more so on Saturday. With a weather forecast of sunny skies, nice January
temperatures, and not much wind, it was going to be an ideal day for the
They were not disappointed.
This year we split the 4k and 8k races. This led to a number
of runners doubling up to run both races with many looking to score double
medals as well as double awards in both races.
We were fortunate to have both the USAT&F and RRCA
Championships for both races this year. They have been awesome partners to work
with and have helped promote our races.Combined with us working Start 2 Finish, the Winter Classic continues to
grow in so many ways.
Big shout out to our volunteers that helped us make this race
a reality. You guys are fabulous.
And most of all to the runners, they supported our club’s
races and turned our Winter Classic race in to a must do event.
I’ll wrap up by sharing a quote that I have heard numerous times –
“It takes a village to have success”.I
agree, it does take a “village”, but if this village doesn’t have a good chief
then, it is like a boat without a ruddier. Mike has been our race director and “chief” for 5 years.
Under his careful guidance, our Winter Classic continues to blossom. We
appreciate all of your hard work Mike.
Someone once told me that Florida has two seasons:
hot and less hot. Nothing could be further from the truth here in the
Take the seven days for example, Saturday; we had snow
blanketing the ground across Charlotte. This was followed up by bone chilling
single digits temperatures. And, then as if sweep away by a mighty hand; we
were bathed in sunshine, a warm breeze from the south, and 70 degree
Those several layers of clothes that kept me warm over the
weekend were replaced by a singlet and shorts. I couldn’t be happier.
That’s way the Carolinas are a great place to live. We experience so many different seasons which is like no other place on this world. This explains why so many people made the decision to call the Carolinas home.
Yesterday evening while going through my weight circuit at
the YMCA, I was waiting for the burn in my shoulders and arms to subside before
moving to my next set. As I was setting there, my eyes gazed lazily around the
room. Never did I linger too long in one spot but taking in all that was
occurring around me.
The weight area was a-buzz with activity as one would expect
once the 5 o’clock whistle blows. People were moving from machine to machine.
Some were doing multiple sets while others did a single set and moved on. Some
were tracking their workouts using paper and pencil. Others seem to be lost in
the thought as the beat of their favorite tunes drift from their ear buds into their ears. All
seemed to be absorbed in their own little worlds. Like a comet in the sky. Their path
altered only when another nears but never colliding.
Ok, breaks over time for the next set. Feel the burn again.
If there was ever a weekend for doing nothing, this was it.
Snow, sleet, rain, a blowing wind followed by bitter cold temperatures provided
the perfect conditions for lounging around my house, watching foot ball and
college basket ball on the TV. Sounds pretty good; don’t it.
However, lying around my house wasn’t the only thing that I
did. Yesterday, I knocked down a 12 mile run during some of the heavier periods
of snow. Some people may dread the snow
arriving here in the Charlotte area, but I love it. Put a layer of snow on the
ground, and a run over a course that I done 1000 times becomes a completely
Today’s run was a lot trickier. Black ice left me slip
sliding throughout my run. Ice, I am less of a fan, but I still relish the
challenge that comes with it.
In a few days, the temperatures will rise above freezing and
this January snow of ’17 will be nothing more than a distant memory.
I guess it is for the best. Otherwise, I wouldn’t look
forward them as much.