Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Race #274 - Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon - Myrtle Beach, SC - 10/19/14

For my running group, the Gaston County Runners (GCR), this has become our biggest event of the year. It was the fifth year of the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon and I've run four of them. I'm not sure about the year I didn't run, but for all four years that I've been there the weather has been perfect. The last five miles or so is straight down Ocean Boulevard, with a turn onto the new boardwalk to the finish line at the site of the old Myrtle Beach Pavilion. It's one of the best finishes of any race I've been a part of and I look forward to it every year.

This is a pretty big race with more than 3,000 finishers in the half marathon, and this year the GCR had seven runners who finished in the top 3 in their respective age groups. For the third straight year I managed to win the 60-64 age group, this year with a time of 1:35:44. I'm happy with that time although it was on a flat course and was about 30 seconds slower than last week's Hokie Half Marathon, which had more hills, but maybe at 62 I'm reaching an age that I need more than a week to recover from a half marathon. It's Wednesday as I write this and I gotta admit I'm still pretty sore. In an episode of temporary insanity I considered jumping in to a full marathon this weekend (Peak to Creek) without any marathon training, but today's the last day to register and I'm still sore enough that I think I'll scale back the enthusiasm and maybe run a 5k instead.

Proud of the Gaston County Runners! We had 7 runners who placed in their age group!

Pros:
  • Beautiful course -- especially the last 5 miles along Ocean Boulevard and the boardwalk.
  • Spectacular finish line!
  • Good post-race food.
  • Huge post-race party with talented live band.
  • Nice awards and awards ceremony.
  • Cool-looking tech T-shirt for this year's race.
  • Lots of free photos can be found online for this race, both on the race's Facebook page and elsewhere.
  • Cheap off-season rates at Myrtle Beach hotels!
Cons:
  • Race results not posted after the race so you had to wait around to see if you placed in your age group. In some ways that's more of a "pro" than a "con" since it creates a sense of anticipation for those who may have placed, although it's a letdown for those who didn't place. I should add that the results are online immediately if you go to the race website.
  • The logistics are a little messy, with the expo being in one location, the race start at a completely different location, and the finish at yet another location, all several miles apart. It makes sense once you get used to it (it doesn't bother me) but it could be a headache if you're there for the first time.
  • The professional photographers (Sport Photo) do a good job, but the photos are way too expensive -- 40 bucks for a single digital download or $14 for a standard 4x6 photo. Of course you can get them a little cheaper if you order a lot of pics, but if you just want one photo it'll really cost you. 
The professional photos were expensive, so I was thankful to have friends who took lots of pics!

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Official Race Photos (Sport Photo)

Click Here for Race Website

My Stats:

Time:  1:35:44
Pace:  7:18
Age Group: 1 of  50
Overall:  55 of  3125 (1.8%)
Average Heart Rate:  167
Maximum Heart Race:  173
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 1:16:00 (77.91%)

Although I failed to notify my face, I was happy to win my age group for the third year in a row!

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
5 - Course Scenery:  (0-5) 1=bad  and 5=fantastic
1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
9 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
0 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 - 14 and under group (1)
1 - 65+ group (1)
1 - 70+ group (1)
2 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
0 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS
5 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
5 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
7 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
8 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
0 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
1 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
0 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
2 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
5 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
0 - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
5 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
0 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Kids Fun Run: (0)no   (2)yes (previous day)
x - Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  103



Friday, October 17, 2014

Race #273 - Hokie Half Marathon - Blacksburg, VA - 10/11/14

The 40% chance of rain turned into 100% and the rain didn't let up until sometime later in the day. There was at least one bright spot: I won the 60-64 age group with a time of 1:35:20 and was also the first Senior Grandmaster to finish (age 60 or older) so that gives me first place in my division in the Running Journal Grand Prix after two races. Other than that the race was a complete washout for me. I think it would have been a beautiful course and a fantastic race on a clear day, but with the pouring rain throughout almost all of the race I was just glad when it was over.

Pros:

  • Scenic course if the weather had cooperated.
  • A few hills but not nearly as bad as I expected for a race in a mountainous area.
  • Well organized race with 300+ volunteers that did a great job under the circumstances.
  • "No Frills" option allowed you to save some money by not getting a shirt.
  • There was an additional "finisher shirt" given at the finish line. When somebody offered me one, a volunteer pointed out that I didn't get one because I was "no frills." That's fine by me since I'm fixed for race shirts for the rest of my life, but I couldn't figure out how he knew I was "no frills." There didn't seem to be any indication on the bib.
  • Fantastic finisher medal! It's one of the best I've seen (and I've seen a bunch). The "no frills" runners did receive one of those.
  • "Hokie Chili" (I think that's what they called it) was part of the post-race fare and it was great.
  • This was the second of nine races in the Running Journal Grand Prix season. This is the first year that it's part of the RJGP and I'll look forward to running it again next year in hopefully better weather if it's part of next year's schedule.
  • Cash prizes for overall winners ($500 for 1st, $300 for 2nd, and $200 for 3rd). That's nice if you're one of those three people.

Cons:

  • The weather was lousy, of course, but that's not something anybody has control over so it's no fault of the race or its directors.
  • A fairly large professional photography crew was scheduled to take photos at various locations but I guess because of the weather they weren't able to. On the photography website, they posted this message: "Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Hokie Half race photos cannot be processed and will not be available. Sorry for the inconvenience."
  • It took several days for the official results to be published online, which might have also been related to the weather, possibly because many runners had their race bibs covered by rain gear.
  • Parking was a little bit of an issue. The race instructions directed runners to park in a lot by the stadium a couple miles from the race site. I parked there and rode a bus with just a handful of runners (I counted six) to the race but when we got there I saw plenty of parking spaces and people parking there with no problem so I rode the bus back and got my car. I ended up maybe 50 yards from the start/finish. Since it was raining I stayed in my car until about 10 minutes before the race started and I still saw plenty of empty parking spaces, but maybe that's because most people followed the instructions. Anyhoo, I'm glad I was able to park close by but I'm sure there were some rule followers who were drenched and freezing by the time they made it back to their cars in the remote parking lot. 
  • No awards ceremony. The website states that age group awards will be mailed out. That would be nice, but it would be better to have the awards after the race. Not sure when or if I'll get my 1st place age group award so I'll give it a zero in the ratings until I receive it, then change the rating accordingly at that time.


Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Race Website

My Stats:

Time:  1:35:20
Pace:  7:14
Age Group:  1 of  10
Overall:  62 of  1302  (4.8%)
Average Heart Rate: ?? (Forgot to bring my heart rate!)
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:15:41 (78.24%)



***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
4 - Course Scenery:  (0-5) 1=bad  and 5=fantastic
1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
7 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
2 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
0 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 - 14 and under group (1)
1 - 65+ group (1)
1 - 70+ group (1)
2 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
0 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS
5 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
5 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
7 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
5 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
0 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
2 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
0 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
2 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
2 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
0 - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
0 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no (???)
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
2 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Kids Fun Run: (0)no   (2)yes
0 - Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  84

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Race #272 - Run Around Downtown 5k - Bessemer City, NC - 10/04/14

With some big out-of-town races coming up in the next few weeks I decided to stay near home this week and run this small local race (49 finishers). It was fun and actually seemed bigger since the 2k started at the same time as the 5k. The first mile was nearly flat but the 2nd and 3rd miles were fairly hilly on the side streets of Bessemer City. Despite the small size of the race there were quite a few fast runners there and I barely squeezed my way into the top 10, finishing 8th at 20:26.

I did enjoy the race and it was organized nicely, but I did have one beef: there was an extra charge for the T-shirt if you registered on race day. I understand if they run out of shirts at a race you might not get one, but I've never seen anybody charge extra for the shirt, especially since they were already charging an extra $5 for race-day registration. Not a huge deal for me personally since I've got more shirts than I want or need, but some people really want the shirt and it should be included in the registration price.

Pros:
  • Nicely organized small-town race.
  • Excellent timing services by RacingToes (results posted quickly at race and online).
  • Cool engraved plexiglass awards for 1st place age group (2nd and 3rd got medals)
Cons:
  • 10-year age groups.
  • Extra charge for T-shirts if you registered on race day.
  • No mile markers on course.

Click Here for Overall Race Results
Click Here for Age Group Results

My Stats:

Time:  20:26 (race was about 1/10 of a mile short)
Pace:  6:55
Age Group:  1 of  3
Overall:  8 of  49
Average Heart Rate:  164
Maximum Heart Race:  174


***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
3 - Course Scenery:  (0-5) 1=bad  and 5=fantastic
0 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
5 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!
0 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
0 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes (about 1/10 of a mile short)
1 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
2 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
3 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
0 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less) (10-year age groups)
1 - 14 and under group (1)
0 - 65+ group (1)
1 - 70+ group (1)
0 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS
2 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
0 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
6 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
3 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
0 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
0 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
0 - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Kids Fun Run: (0)no   (2)yes
-3* - Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)
        *(-3 points for extra charge on T-shirts for race day registrants)

TOTAL:  61



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Race #271 - Stanley Massacre 10k - Stanley, NC - 09/27/14

As I ran this race it occurred to me why I hadn't returned since 2011: they managed to design a course that included every hill in the Town of Stanley. I did remember that there were hills but I didn't remember that they were awful... the kind that turn me back into a Gallowalker. So I'd run a little bit and then walk a little bit. I didn't count how many times I walked during the race but it was probably around ten different times. It's mostly an out-and-back course so if you had to run up a hill you got to run down it coming the opposite way, but some of the hills are the kind that you have to put on the brakes as you run down because they're so steep, thereby negating the positive downhill benefits. Despite my woes I still managed to finish 5th overall, but there were only 32 runners in the 10k.

Pros:
  • Reasonable $25 race-day registration for either race (5k or 10k).
  • Quick results from RacingToes.com.
  • Nice Halloween themed tech shirt.
Cons:
  • Too many hills. They warn you in advance, but I thought they were just kiddin'.

Click Here for Race Results

My Stats:

Time:  46:19
Pace:  7:36
Age Group: 1 of  5
Overall:  5 of  32 (15.6%)
Average Heart Rate:  170
Maximum Heart Race:  176
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  36:36 (73.36%)

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
2 - Course Scenery:  (0-5) 1=bad  and 5=fantastic
1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
5 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
5 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
3 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 - 14 and under group (1)
0 - 65+ group (1)
0 - 70+ group (1)
0 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
0 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS
2 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
2 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
0 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
5 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
0 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
0 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
2 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
x - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Kids Fun Run: (0)no   (2)yes
x - Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  71

Friday, September 26, 2014

Race #270 - Run for Green Half Marathon - Davidson, NC - 09/20/14

With two great half marathons that are always on the same day each year within driving distance from me on race morning, it's a juggling act to decide which one I'll run. The Run the Valley Half Marathon is a little bit longer drive but I really like the race, although this year I opted for the Run for Green Half Marathon, which I last ran in 2011. Run the Valley has a monster climb to the top of Morrow Mountain, but Run for Green has its own challenges and seems to include every hill in Davidson. Except for the relatively flat stretches on the greenway it's pretty much a roller coaster for the rest of the race.

This time around I was only about a minute slower than in 2011, but that was the year I set all of my PR's so it's encouraging that I seem to be running at just about the same level three years later. It would be nice to keep that up for the next few years.

Pros:

  • Beautiful course (although hilly) that runs through upscale neighborhoods in Davidson and along the greenway.
  • Nice staging area for the race at The Village Green in downtown Davidson, surrounded by quaint shops and restaurants.
  • Good race size, with 370 finishers in the half marathon. I think that counting the 5k and 10k races there were 800-1000 runners, which is an ideal size to my way of thinking. I like small races too (under 150 or so runners) and sometimes larger races with thousands of runners, but the huge races can be a nightmare with logistics and trying to find friends afterwards. For this race I parked right across the street from the staging area.
  • Professional photography -- photos were sorted and available online within 48 hours.
  • Chocolate milk recovery after the finish.
  • Timing by Queen City Timing (always one of the best for quick and accurate results).

Cons:

  • Uphill finish. It's always better to be able to finish strong and fast when everybody's watching.
  • Definitely more hills than normally expected in a race, especially one that's not in the mountains.
  • No official race website. 


Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Official Race Photos

My Stats:

Time:  1:36:42
Pace:  7:24
Age Group: 1 of  6
Overall:  31 of  370
Average Heart Rate:  166
Maximum Heart Race:  176
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:16:46 (77.14%)

There seems to be a new trend in haircut avoidance among runners. With Sonny Ali and Chad Randolph.

With running friends Dianne Allen and Kay Ziemer.

Margaret Hagerty is 91 years old and ran the 5k. She's in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest person
to complete a marathon on seven continents.

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
4 - Course Scenery:  (0-5) 1=bad  and 5=fantastic
1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
1 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
7 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
2 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
3 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 - 14 and under group (1)
1 - 65+ group (1)
1 - 70+ group (1)
2 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
3 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS
5 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent (Gift certificates - $30, $20, $10)
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
3 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
5 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
8 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
1 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
0 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
2 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
5 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
0 - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Kids Fun Run: (0)no   (2)yes
x - Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  102


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Race #269 - Via Half Marathon - Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania - 09/07/14

I registered for this race a few months ago with the intention of running the full marathon. I've only run two full marathons in the past -- New Jersey in 2009 and New York City in 2010 -- and after both I swore I'd never run another one. All runners are different in some ways and not all of us are suited for marathons. This week marks my sixth anniversary as a runner, and this was my 66th half marathon, so I'm averaging 11 per year. I've become comfortable racing for 13 miles and it's now my favorite distance. I've run many more 5k races (140+) but I always prefer the challenge and excitement of the half marathon if I have a choice.

Being a little envious of the people running the Boston Marathon, I thought it might be time for me to once again test the waters of the full marathon even though my two previous marathons resulted in disappointment (4:02 in NJ and 4:09 in NYC). As comfortable as I am running 13.1 miles, the wheels start falling off shortly past that distance and by the end I'm doing the proverbial death march.

So the point is, it's been four years since I have tried to train for a full marathon, and no doubt I'm a much more experienced runner now than I was then so I thought I'd give it a shot. I decided that I would need to build my base up to 70 miles per week to run a good marathon. I'm past the point of just wanting to finish standing up. I know I can do that, but a good quality marathon would take more training. Long story short, once I built my mileage up from my normal 35-40 miles a week to the 50+ range I started falling apart with several small but nagging injuries. It was at that point I decided to back off and go back to the distances I'm more comfortable with and compete best at, which are 5k to half marathon. I've been happy and successful in that range so I've decided to stay there.

Traveling 1200 miles round trip for a half marathon probably wasn't my most logical move ever, but I had already paid for the registration and the hotel and Linda and I wanted to get out of town for a couple days so we made the trip.

I was really happy with my time of 1:34:13 although I did get beat by somebody else in my age group. As they say, "It all depends on who shows up." I slowed down quite a bit in the second half and was passed by more people than I could count, but I still finished 41st overall out of more than a thousand runners in the half.

Pros:

  • Well-organized and well-established event.
  • Nice expo at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, formerly the huge Bethlehem Steel plant.
  • Flat course, although my friend Dianne said she thought there was a long uphill incline about 9 miles into the half. I don't remember that but maybe my memory's conking out faster than my legs.
  • Great finish line with lots of supporters, food, and entertainment.
  • Free shuttle buses at the finish line carried runners back to the start.

Cons:

  • Logistics: It's a point-to-point race with the full marathon starting 26 miles from the finish and the half marathon beginning at the halfway point at the same time. It makes you appreciate the fact that most races begin and end at the same place. The free shuttle buses helped but I'd rather just hop in my car and leave.
  • The course is mostly unpaved, which I knew beforehand. It's not a bad surface -- crushed gravel I guess -- and the relatively small number of roots that might trip you up are painted with a bright color to help you avoid tripping over them. Still, I'm most comfortable with pavement all the way.
  • They somehow managed to mess my name up. I'm positive I registered as "Richard Hefner" as I always do, but they must have used the name on my credit card to enter me as "Everette Hefner" (Everette is my first name but I always go by my middle name).


Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Official Race Photos 

Click Here for Race Website

My Stats:

Time: 1:34:13
Pace:  7:12
Age Group:  2 of  22
Overall:  41 of  1003
Average Heart Rate: 166
Maximum Heart Race: 177
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 1:14:48  (79.17%)

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
3 - Course Scenery:  (0-5) 1=bad  and 5=fantastic
1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
8 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
2 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 - 14 and under group (1)
1 - 65+ group (1)
1 - 70+ group (1)
2 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS
5 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
3 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
5 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
8 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
1 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
0 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
2 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
5 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
2 - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
2 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
0 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
0 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Kids Fun Run: (0)no   (2)yes
x - Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  96

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Race #268 - Midnight Flight 10k - Anderson, SC - 08/29/14

After sitting out the entire season last year of the Running Journal Grand Prix, I was really looking forward to getting back with it this year, and this is the first race of the 9-race series that will end next Memorial Day. For the past month or two I've had some relatively minor running injuries such as a pulled hamstring and a sore calf. My mileage has been lower than normal and I haven't been eating as well as I should have so I was a little concerned that I might fall apart. Fortunately I made it to the finish line without any trouble, winning the 60-64 age group and finishing first among the Senior Grand Masters (60+).

The Midnight Flight consists of three races that begin about an hour apart and you can run any or all of them (1-mile at 9 p.m., 5k at 10 p.m., and 10k at 11 p.m.). It's one of South Carolina's premier road race events with a total of about 1,500 runners in the three events (296 finishers in the 1-mile race, 954 finishers in the 5k, and 246 finishers in the 10k). The 5k is the largest by far, partly because it's the distance more people prefer but also because this 5k is part of the Palmetto Grand Prix, which is a statewide GP that's popular among South Carolina runners. I was only interested in the 10k, of course, since it's the race that counts for the Running Journal Grand Prix (RJGP). The races of the RJGP are spread throughout the Southeast and draw some great runners, one of whom I met about halfway through the race.

The course is out and back, and after I turned around at the halfway point I got a look at the people behind me. I was mostly looking for my friend Bob Nelson, who's usually either a little ahead of me, a little behind me, or right next to me in a race. We usually finish 1st and 2nd in the age group (as we did in this race) and I had maybe a 100- to 200-yard lead on him halfway through so I decided to walk for a few seconds. As soon as I started walking I was passed by another runner who looked like he could possibly be in my age group. I started running again and caught up with him, and using all of the tact I could muster up I asked him what age group he was in. That might be a breach of racing etiquette, but I've been known to do it quite a few times. It's nice to know whether it's somebody in your age group. He was kind enough to inform me that he was in the 65-69 age group and I was a little relieved that he wasn't in my age group (60-64). I picked up the pace a little and before long I had a lead of maybe 20 or 30 yards on the exceptionally fast 67-year-old, who later I found out was Sherman Stanford, who had traveled from his home in Louisiana just to compete in this RJGP race. During the race it didn't occur to me that he and I were competing for 1st place in the Senior Grand Masters category (ages 60-69), but of course I wanted to end up at the finish line before he did anyway.

As we headed back along the course I knew what awaited me: a big hill about a mile long that I've never run continuously without stopping to walk. I'd sneak a peak behind me every once in a while and there he was, relentless, and I knew he was most likely waiting for me to walk again so he could make mincemeat out of the maestro once and for all. As I started climbing the big hill I thought about the hill training that I've been doing every week, running to the top of Crowders Mountain, and I tried to remind myself how much easier this hill was in comparison to that. I kept reminding myself, and I kept running all the way to the finish line, 16 seconds ahead of my sneakered stalker. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could actually climb that hill without walking. It just took a little incentive.

Click Here for Race Results

My Stats:

Time:  45:04 (chip time)
Pace:  7:14
Age Group: 1 of  12
Overall:  37 of  246 (15%)
Average Heart Rate:  167
Maximum Heart Race:  179
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  35:37 (75.4%)

Running friends - (L-R) - Bob Nelson, me, Bob Milan, Matt Longworth
We all placed in the top 3 in our age groups and are wearing our visors that were given as age group awards.
Matt (far right) finished 4th overall in the 10k with a blazing time of 34:34.


***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
3 - Course Scenery:  (0-5) 1=bad  and 5=fantastic
2 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
8 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
2 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
3 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 - 14 and under group (1)
1 - 65+ group (1)
1 - 70+ group (1)
2 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
3 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
5 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes (*RJGP Only)

AWARDS
5 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
2 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
0 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
8 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
9 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
1 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
2 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
x - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
2 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
2 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Kids Fun Run: (0)no   (2)yes
0 - Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  107