Sunday, November 16, 2014

New Blog Name -- It's Now "TheOldRunner.com"

A funny thing happened recently when I wasn't looking. I forgot to renew the name "old-runner.com" and for some reason it was snatched up by someone who thought it would be a great name, so I no longer own it. Okay, I'm not married to the name, and actually I was a little tired of telling people there was a hyphen between the words "old" and "runner" when they asked for the address of my blog.

After a little brainstorming I decided to stay fairly close to the original name and since it was available I decided on getting "theoldrunner.com" (or it's okay to capitalize the first letter of each word, like "TheOldRunner.com" to get to the blog. It's still just a Blogspot blog with the address being redirected to the blog, but if you're interested you can now get to this blog using a little easier-to-remember address. And yes, I know I'm not THE Old Runner... there's a bunch of us. But for now I've licensed the name, at least until I forget to renew it.

Bookmark this address to easily return...


Race #278 - Thunder Road Half Marathon - Charlotte, NC - 11/15/14 - #RunCharlotte

Thunder Road is North Carolina's biggest racing event, now in its tenth year. More than 5,000 runners participated in the three races (full marathon, half marathon, and 5k). This was my first half marathon back in 2008, only three months after I had begun running, and when I finished that year I swore I'd never run another half marathon. Since then I've run about 70 more so I changed my mind and the half marathon has become my favorite distance. I ran the Thunder Road half in 2008, 2009, and 2010 but for one reason or another skipped the next three years before returning this year to run it again.

It actually seemed like an entirely different race than in those earlier years. The expo was in the same location -- the Charlotte Convention Center -- but the race started and finished just outside the BB&T Ballpark, home of the Charlotte Knights, with the post-race activities in the adjacent Romare Bearden Park, a perfect race venue.

Thunder Road has a big city race atmosphere that's great to see locally. It's not overwhelming as you might experience in a race such as the New York City Marathon, where you end up traveling huge distances to get to the starting line and waiting for hours for the race to start, but it's big enough that you feel like part of a major racing event. I arrived an hour or so before the start of the race and easily found parking within 100 yards of the starting line. I wasn't thrilled to pay $7.50 to park there but it was worth it to be able to sit in the comfort of my car and stay warm until about 10 minutes before the start of the race. The weather was unseasonably cold with the temperature in the mid 20s at the time the race began at 7:45. My dislike of cold weather is well known and I was bundled up with 3 shirts, 2 pairs of tights, 2 cold weather Buffs, thick socks, and warm gloves. That is ridiculously overdressed for most runners but I know myself just fine and didn't feel too warm at any time during the race and was actually shivering at the beginning. My wife told me later that my slower time might have been partially the result of too much weight added by the extra clothing, and she could have a point since every little thing adds up. I'll have to keep that in mind.

Since I didn't really warm up I decided to just take it easy in the first mile of the race. Bill Shires and Rob Ducsay were heading up the 1:35 pace group and I tucked in behind them. I knew I wouldn't be able to stick with them even though I ran two half marathons last month in the 1:35s. Since then I developed a cold and have had a lot of coughing and congestion and after last week's miserable 5k I thought I would be fortunate to just make it under 1:40. To make a long story short, the wheels came off for me probably halfway through the race and my pace slowed down to a minute or so slower than usual even though my heart rate was just as high (close to 170) so I knew well before the finish that it wasn't going to be good news at the finish line. I lost count of how many walk breaks I took and by the time I saw the finish line I was happy to be under 1:45. My official chip time was 1:42:02, which is the slowest of 12 half marathons I've run this year but still not bad for a 62-year-old. I have a feeling that old age is quickly approaching along with slower race times so as I slow down I'll try to just appreciate the fact that I'm still running, at whatever speed it might be.

A snapshot of the post race celebration.

Running buddy Dianne Allen and I both won our age group in the half marathon.

Father and son Andy and Andrew Inman finished 9th and 10th overall in the 5k.
Andy won 2nd Masters and Andrew was 1st in the 14-and-under age group!

Dianne and Rian after the race with the Charlotte skyline in the background.

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Official Race Pics from Sport Photo

Click Here for Race Website (RunCharlotte.com)

My Stats:

Time:  1:42:02
Pace:  7:47
Age Group: 1 of  22
Overall:  232 of 2729 (8.5%)
Average Heart Rate:  168
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:21:00 (73.1%)

***************
* 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
2 - 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
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!
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)
9 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
1* - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes (*Online Only)

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
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
0 - 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
0 - Kids Fun Run: (0)no   (2)yes
x - Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  101


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Race #277 - Spencer Mountain 5k - Ranlo, NC - 11/08/14

I was planning to run the 10-miler at one of my favorite Gaston County races but after missing the previous weekend's races because of having a cold I decided to not overdo it and run the 5k instead. That was probably a good decision, although not as good of a decision as avoiding racing altogether and taking another recovery week as I managed to run my slowest 5k of 2014 at 22:56. I'd like to blame it on the hills but it was actually pretty flat except for a short stretch a quarter of a mile or so down Spencer Mountain and back up.

There were some bright spots, most notably professional quality photographs taken by Matthew Gregory (I think he's part owner of the running store in Belmont but I'm not positive). Either way, he's apparently got a great DSLR camera and knows how to use it and took fantastic hi-res photos and posted them on Flickr for free. That's a huge perk for a race, especially since race photographers tend to charge outrageous prices for their photos. There were photos of virtually every runner in the race and multiple photos of many runners. It would be great to have pics like this every year and over time it would probably make the race more popular than ever.

Here's a photo of me taken by Matthew Gregory. I sized this one to be viewed
on the blog. The original is huge! Many of the other photos look better than mine of course
(the person in the photo does make a difference).


This is a well established race but still not too big (131 finishers in the 5k and 96 finishers in the 10-miler). I suspect a lot of folks are scared away from the challenge that the 10-mile race presents. It's famous for the huge hill in the ninth mile and there are also a couple other major hills before you reach that one as you're going to the small town of Spencer Mountain, but the first 5 miles of the race are actually flat so it's not as bad as some people might think, and it's a beautiful race in the autumn.

Here's speedy Matt Longworth winning the 10-miler!
(I actually took this photo with the camera on my phone)
Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Race Photos on Flickr

Click Here for Race Photos on the YMCA Facebook Page (214 pics)

Charlotte running friend (and faithful reader of my blog) Aaron Chan had a great race.

My Stats:

Time:  22:56
Pace:  7:07 (the race was a little long, measured by my Garmin at 3.25 miles)
Age Group:  1 of  4
Overall:  10 of  131 (7.6)
Average Heart Rate:  168
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  18:07 (71.18%)

***************
* 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
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
6 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes (a little long is okay... 3.25 miles)
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
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!
3* - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals
    *Medals for finishers of 10-mile race

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

REST ROOMS
2 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful (only a couple needed)
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
5 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
5 - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!  (FREE!)
5 - 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
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 (YMCA Race Series)
0 - Kids Fun Run: (0)no   (2)yes
x - Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  95

Friday, November 7, 2014

Race #276 - Spooky Sprint 5k - Salisbury, NC - 10/26/14

In the second of two races on the weekend just before Halloween, I revisited the Spooky Sprint 5k, a fun 5k that starts at Catawba College in Salisbury and finishes on the school track. It's Rowan Rotary's big fundraising event of the year and they do an outstanding job with it. A lot of runners come out all dressed up for Halloween and there's a great kids fun run that's part of the festivities. It's one of the few races I know of in North Carolina that actually has Senior Grand Masters (ages 60+) awards in addition to Grand Masters (ages 50+) and Masters (40+) and most likely because of that there are a lot of older runners who participate. Last year and again this year I was fortunate to win Masters, so I'm sending out a big thank you to all the 40+ runners faster than me who didn't show up!

The temperatures in late October at 2:30 in the afternoon (race time) would normally be in the mid-60s, but this was a near-record-breaking day with the thermometer hitting 83 degrees. I love warm temperatures and would prefer 83 over 38 anytime, but I'm like anybody else in being slowed down some by the heat. I walked a short distance three or four times during the race, but I'm no stranger to walking in a race, and I was still satisfied with my final time.

As much as I enjoyed this race, there were a couple of things that were done better the previous year. First, the awards ceremony was a bit of a disaster. The PA system wasn't working so you couldn't hear what was being said. Things improved when the announcer just put down the microphone and used his outside voice, but by then it was too late. The second issue that was much better the previous year was that they had a photographer (or maybe more than one) who took photos last year and posted them for free on Facebook. For me and probably most other runners having free race photos is huge. Unfortunately they didn't do it this year so that was disappointing. Hopefully next year they'll get the awards ceremony straightened out and will consider having the free photos again.

Click Here for Race Results

Some great running friends at the race. Everybody in this photo ran at least two races during this weekend and several
of them ran three races... and they all placed in their respective age groups!


My Stats:

Time:  21:46
Pace:  7:00
Age Group: 1 of  4
Overall:  15 of  178 (8.4%)
Average Heart Rate:  167
Maximum Heart Race:  178
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  17:12 (75%)

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

RACE COURSE
0 - 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
1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
6 - 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

AWARDS
2 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
2 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
2 - 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)
4 - 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!
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
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Kids Fun Run: (0)no   (2)yes
* - Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)
2* Special awards for Halloween costumes

TOTAL:  91

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Race #275 - Jack O Lantern Jaunt - Concord, NC - 10/25/14

With lots of longer races on the schedule for this fall I decided to take this particular weekend to run a couple of 5k's -- one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Since I tend to be fairly miserable anytime the temperature dips below 60 degrees, the 5:30 p.m. starting time of the Jack O Lantern Jaunt worked out perfectly for me on this mild autumn day. It's a nice small race held on the grounds Frank Liske Park in Concord, a beautiful 238-acre park that was once part of the working farm of Stonewall Jackson Training School, a boys reformatory built in the early 1900s. It's the first time I've run a race here and it's a special place for me because I was a member of that group of incorrigible boys who called Jackson Training School home for at least part of my youth. While The Beatles were producing their greatest music, Elvis was marrying Priscilla, and tens of thousands of people marched on Washington to protest the Vietnam war, I spent the greater part of 1967 learning how to behave myself in the confines of this now legendary reform school. For many of the inmates it was just a stepping stone to bigger and better things such as a permanent life of crime, but for me it was a valuable learning experience. I stumbled plenty for a couple of years afterwards, but ultimately settled down and decided to be a productive citizen. When sharing about my juvenile delinquent past, I'm always reminded of this quote attributed to Dr. Phil: "Instead of being ashamed of what you've been through, be proud of what you have overcome."

Oh yeah, the race... The 5k followed the perimeter trail around the park, and about 90% of it was unpaved. I'm strictly a road runner so "unpaved" is not a word I'm fond of, but it was fine except in a couple of short areas where it seemed like there was a lot of sand and it was a little hard to get a grip with my running shoes. In the first half mile of the race I could count all of the runners ahead of me and I was in 10th place. Little by little I gained momentum and some up ahead drifted back, and I finally worked my way up to a 5th place finish.

Stan and Jinnie Austin and their son Noah did some house cleaning at the awards. Stan won as 1st Male Overall,
Jinnie was 1st Female Overall, and Noah won a Best Costume award. For the record, Stan didn't wear the mask while
he was running, Jinnie wore her cat nose for at least part of the race, and Noah converted his gnome beard to chest hair.


This was my wife Linda's first race since she contracted Bell's Palsy on August 20th. She did great and won
1st Place Grand Masters Female (ages 50 and over) and I won 1st Place Masters Male (ages 40 and over).
Those are special awards for us since we're both 62
(it's not always easy to finish ahead of people who are 10 or 20 years younger).


My Stats:

Time:  20:56
Pace:  6:44
Age Group: 1 of  1 
Overall:  5 of  76 (6.6%)
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  16:32 (77.99%)

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

RACE COURSE  
0 - 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
1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
6 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!
0 - 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  
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)
1 - 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
3 - 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
2 - 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
1 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
0 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
2 - 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
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:  78

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. Update: I received my 1st place age group award in the mail and it's a beautiful plaque. I'm posting a photo of it and revising the points total as well.


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
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)
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:  89