The CPCC Skyline Run, which begins and ends at the campus of Central Piedmont Community College, is one of Charlotte’s premier 5k races and is the second race in the Run for Your Life Grand Prix series. This year’s race was held in conjunction with the Festival on the Green, which is an arts festival sponsored by CPCC. The race was the first thing on the agenda and it was over before the arts festival really got started, but the race itself was plenty festive on its own and it was a magnificent day for about a thousand runners (843 finishers) to bring nearby traffic to a screeching halt.
The course was pleasant, with most of the small hills out of the way in the first mile. The race started on a small street next to Memorial Stadium and the thought crossed my mind that I would surely be trampled if I happened to trip near the beginning because there was really no place to go as I was standing next to the stadium wall. No worries though. Everything started out smoothly and it seemed like just a minute before everybody had plenty of elbow room, at least where I was at.
I’m tapering for next weekend’s New Jersey Marathon so I was rarin’ to go. About a a half mile into the race I spotted Jerry Sofley up ahead, who had helped me settle into a nice pace last week. I caught up with him somewhere along the line (I forget where) and for the rest of the race I knew he (and a few hundred other people) were nipping at my heels so I just kept going. I’m still a big fan of the Jeff Galloway Run-Walk-Run method and will definitely use it in next week’s marathon, but I find myself taking fewer (if any) walk breaks lately in the 5k races. I did take one in last week’s race but I decided I’d run with no walk breaks at all today and it paid off. I got my fourth 5k PR in a row — this time 21:41 — and third place in my age division. It was my first 5k under 22 minutes (my apologies to Ken from Asheville). I also managed to get negative splits each mile, which I have rarely done…
Mile 1 — 7:05
Mile 2 — 6:57
Mile 3 — 6:40
One of the highlights of this race since its inception is the T-shirt. Every year there is a design contest among the CPCC Advertising Design majors and the winner’s design is featured on the shirt. This year’s shirt is nice but looking at the designs over the years (click here to see the designs), seems like the ones back in the 1990s were cooler looking.
After the race, the food was kind of basic but it was fine. The age group awards were once again glasses, but much nicer ones than we’ve seen lately (I still prefer a trophy or medal), and the awards for the top overall winners (3 male, 3 female, and team awards) were really great including large, nicely framed photos of the Charlotte Skyline.
We always meet some nice people at the races, and today I had the good fortune to meet Bill Shires, who I had known through his blog (you can read it here). Bill is a great guy and one of the fastest runners in the Charlotte area (he finished 6th overall in today’s race). Rumor has it that he hasn’t missed a day of running since 1986. Wow… I missed two days of running last week!
This was my 28th race since I began running last September, but my very first race in my home town of Gastonia, North Carolina. It was exciting to finally run a race in Gastonia, and for the third time in my last three 5k races I again broke my personal record, this time at 22:15, finishing 72nd overall out of 750 runners. Sadly for me, although I had the fastest time among the 55-59 year-old runners, this race had 10-year age groups and a bunch of guys 50-54 outran me so I ended up in 8th place of 35 runners in the 50-59 age group. You know me — I’m not one to complain (just kiddin’) — but save the 10-year age groups for races with 75 people in them, not the ones with 750 runners!
Just to get all of the bad stuff out of the way at the beginning, the one other problem with this otherwise excellent race was that there was no after-race food for the runners. Hey, we’ve come to expect that little perk and this was the first race in 28 races that had zero food.
Other than those two little annoyances, the race was really good and the atmosphere surrounding the race and the entertainment were excellent. There was a karaoke contest, a New Orleans style jazz band, a symphony by a bunch of little violin-playing kids, about 40 tents mostly with information about various Gaston County organizations, and probably quite a bit of other stuff I missed.
The course of the race wound its way through the historic Yorkchester neighborhood. There were a lot of turns and quite a few hills but it was a nice route overall. About a half mile from the finish we shared the course with people from the fun walk who the runners had to dodge, but I didn’t see anybody get mowed down so it seemed to work out okay. The last part of the third mile was a long hill that was kind of a killer but it leveled off for the last tenth of a mile. I managed to pass Jerry Sofley, a great over-60 runner who I followed the whole race because I knew if I could keep up with him I’d be at a good pace, and in the last 100 yards or so I passed David Stafford, another fast local runner and friend who I met through this blog. David told me after the race that when he saw me pass him, he said to himself that he was going to beat me or die trying. I’m happy to report that he’s still alive and he beat me by a fraction of a second right at the finish line. Next time maybe.
Although we were scheduled to run the All-Star 5k in Asheville this weekend, when we hopped out of bed this morning we decided to change ears and head over to the Bunny Run 5k in Concord instead. I didn’t have a picture of the race logo so I’ll take this opportunity to attach a picture of my 4-month-old granddaugther Eva wearing her bunny ears.
I think all of that running I’ve been doing in Asheville is starting to pay off because the considerable number of hills didn’t seem to phase me today, and I finished first in my age group and 24th overall out of 225 runners with a time of 22:55, which is my new 5k personal record (yay!).
In addition, as opposed to last week’s 10k in which I walked a total of 10 times, this week I ran without any walk breaks at all. It’s not something I planned really, but I just do these little mental checks often in a race and ask myself if I feel like I’m about to croak, and today my ultimate demise didn’t seem to be imminent so I just kept on running.
The age group awards in this race were exceptionally nice — a nicely engraved (and informative) plexiglass plaque designed like an Easter egg (I think).
There were some disappointing things about this race such as the after-race food, which was practically nonexistent, and the parking, which was probably about a mile from the race finish. There was a bus that would shuttle you back to the parking lot, but the weather was nice so we decided to walk.
The walk back to the car ended up being the highlight of the race. Linda and I walked back with Margaret Hagerty, a legend among senior runners. Margaret started running at the age of 64, and now at the age of 86 she has completed 80 marathons and is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest person to complete a marathon on 7 different continents! We were mesmerized by her stories, especially about her experience running the marathon in Antartica, and when we reached the parking lot I was kind of wishing we could walk farther just to hear some more of her experiences.
6 – 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
9 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
6 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
2 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
4 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
0 – 0/5 Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
6 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
3 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
3 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 – 3/7 Age Groups (7 if 5-year groups; 3 if 10-year groups)
0 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
3 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 – 1-10 Other
I never met a hill I didn’t like — to walk up, that is. My thanks once again goes out to Jeff Galloway, thinker-upper of the Run-Walk-Run method that allows people like me who may not feel like running all the time to finish the race without feeling guilty about doing some walking. Matter of fact, it occurred to me during this race that maybe I should have left my running shoes at home and just wore my old walking shoes instead. As you can see in the graph below where each spike represents a slow-down walking pace, I walked ten times during the race.
Some refer to it as “Gallowalking,” and those of us who do it are sometimes labeled as “Galloweenies,” but as advertised, it not only doesn’t slow you down a lot in the end, it might also actually result in a better time than if you run the whole time. My time of 49:47 in the 10k was good enough for second place in my age division and is probably about as fast as I can run a flat 10k, so bring on them hills and hand me down my walkin’ cane!
But I digress. One of the first things that struck me about the Black Mountain Greenway Challenge is that there was no sign of the Black Mountain Greenway. We didn’t run on it, I looked around and didn’t see it anywhere, and I didn’t even see any signs pointing to it. That little oddity aside, the hills were alive with the sound of runners.
There were big hills, little hills, steep hills, crooked hills, and luckily for me, what goes up must come down, so there was plenty of downhill as well to even things out some. I’m not complaining about the hills — I expect them anytime I’m running in this area and, hey, it gives me some hill work, which I’m kind of too lazy to do otherwise. I mentioned to somebody the other day that I started running seven months ago and this would be my 26th race during that time, to which they noted that that’s too much racing. Could be I guess, but racing every week also gives me some speed work (such as it is), which I also probably wouldn’t do otherwise, so it seems to be working okay so far.
Despite not being on the greenway, the race route was one of the most scenic that I’ve run. The Black Mountain area is one of the most scenic areas of the North Carolina mountains and it’s a great place to run. The weather was perfect as well, with no clouds and a racetime temperature of about 65 degrees.
After the race there was free beer from the race host and sponsor, the Pisgah Brewing Company. I don’t drink alcohol at all so that’s not much of a plus for me but it seemed like pretty much everybody else enjoyed it. I do drink water, however, and was a little bummed that there was no bottled water anywhere at the finish of the race. There was some Gatorade in some of those big orange coolers like construction guys drink out of, and there was a water spigot (with no sink underneath it) that magically came right out of the wall inside the brewery.
After the race there was pizza, which is always a plus for after-race fare, unless it costs extra, which it did in this case, so I went the free route with the free fruit (bananas & apples), cookies, chips, and pretzels, which were fine but not pizza-level stuff.
Being an old folkie myself, I enjoyed the music of the old-time band, “The Pitch Slickers,” who played right up until the awards ceremony.
Oy! Don’t remind me of the awards! Once again the awards were glasses, which I guess is to be expected from a brewery, but please, I’m beggin’ you race directors, knock it off with the glasses for awards! Honestly, if I want another glass, instead of running 6.2 miles to try to win one it’ll be much easier for me to go to the grocery store and buy me some jelly, then when the jar’s empty I’ll drink out of it. At least I know that’s what it’s for. I’m never sure what to do when I win a glass. Am I supposed to drink out of it, or put it on a shelf, or what? Geez… Am I going to have to buy a new shelf? I don’t have room on any of my existing shelves. Furthermore, I don’t like the looks of a shelf full of glasses regardless of whether I’ve won them or eaten jelly from them.