Saturday, September 17, 2011

Race #145 - Run for Green Half Marathon - Davidson, NC - 09/17/11

Photo courtesy of Bobby Aswell
Well, this one got off to an interesting start. First there was Kalib Wilkinson, from Lynchburg, Virginia, who went out like a bolt of lightning, leaving everybody behind right from the beginning. He never looked back and never was challenged, finishing with a time of 1:10:06, more than 12 minutes ahead of second place. It's not too surprising since he finished 22nd OVERALL in the 2011 Boston Marathon with a mind-boggling time of 2:19:53. The women's winner, Molly Nunn, is one of North Carolina's best known runners, and she finished fourth overall with a time of 1:22:40. Molly recently missed qualifying for the Olympic Trials by less than 1 minute.

But to me, the really interesting thing about the start was that as we were going down what was quite a bit of downhill in the first mile, I was in about tenth place overall. I'm the first to admit that I always start out too fast. That's just the way I roll. It's not ideal but it works for me probably as well or better than anything else (for instance, running equal or even negative splits like most good runners do). I knew that I was way out of my league about halfway through the first mile, but the pace seemed awfully slow, so before you know it, there I was in 2nd place, passing everybody except Kalib Wilkinson, who was in another county by then. I know how these things work and I knew it was just a matter of time before they all passed me up without so much as a "Good Job," but I didn't really mind knowing that was my ultimate fate. At the 1-mile marker I was still ahead of that group, and there was what appeared to be a professional photographer who was snapping photos as I tried my best to look like I belonged in front of Molly Nunn and her entourage. If he got a good picture of that, you can bet I'll be changing my profile picture on Facebook.

Me and Grand Masters winner
Alan Pover of England, who at
age 62 ran the race in 1:28!
So getting back to reality, by the time we reached the 3-mile marker I think I was back in about 10th place again, which was no surprise and no disappointment to me. There are a lot of fairly small hills in this race that wear you down, and two years ago, the only time I had previously run it, my time was 12 seconds slower than in the Asheville Citizen-Times Half Marathon, generally regarded as one of the toughest half marathon courses in the state.

I'm two years older now, and the difference in 57 and 59 is not the same as, say, 17 to 19, when two years of maturity might be a boost. Nope... I've received pretty much all the benefit I'm gonna get from more maturity. Having said that, I feel like I'm a better runner now than I was two years ago. Since I was a little over 1:40 then, I thought a reasonable goal for this race would be to finish in under 1:40. I seldom look at my progress in a race unless there are clocks at each mile, which wasn't the case in this race so I wasn't really sure how I was doing. Just yesterday I read about Dave Munger's pre-race strategy in his blog and I made a comment telling him that he'd probably pass me 8 or 9 miles into the race. I missed it by a little bit, but there he was chugging right past me at around 10.5 miles in, just before the biggest hill. He walked for a few seconds as he said he would, but I walked for what seemed like a minute or so before running again, and before long he was completely out of sight. As he was passing me he mentioned that we were both ahead of our projected pace, which was good to hear. As I passed the 13-mile marker I thought about hitting my watch to see what my time was, but I decided I'd just rather be surprised when I see the clock. I do that often and I've had some good surprises and some bad surprises, but today was a good one as I finished well under my 1:40 goal with a time of 1:35:25 and winning my age group.


Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Official Race Photos

Race Rating:

4 - 1-10  Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
7 - 1-10  Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10) (Gift Certificates)
2 - 1-10  Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
4 - 1-10  Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
5 - 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)
5 - 0/5   Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
6 - 4/6   Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
3 - 3/7   Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
7 - 1-10  Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 - 1-10  Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 - 1-10  Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 - 0-10  Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
0 - 0/5   Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
5 - 1-10  Bathroom Facilities
0-10  Other

TOTAL - 76

My Stats:

Time:  1:35:25
Pace:  7:17
Age Group:  1 of  7
Overall:  25 of 300

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Race #144 - Big Red Shoe 5k - Charlotte, NC - 09/10/11

Jonas runs with dad (our son Dave) in his first official race.
This was a special race for us -- the 1k was our 3-year-old grandson Jonas's first race ever. We'd been hoping we could take him to a race all summer and it didn't work out until September, but it was a great first race for him. Add a petting zoo, moon bounce, clowns, balloons, and lots of other excitement for kids and it was a perfect Saturday morning at the races.

The 5k was a good one for me as well. I finished with my second best 5k time of the year -- 20:13 -- and was 5th overall in the race, winning the Grand Masters and a $50 Omega Sports gift certificate.

Proceeds from this race go to the Ronald McDonald House (thus the "Big Red Shoe" moniker) and Myers Park Baptist Church does a good job with it. All participants get a free pancake breakfast after the race, and there were other goodies available such as watermelon and frozen yogurt.







Click Here for Race Results
Click Here for Race Photos at Carolina SportPix

Race Rating:

7 - 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
8 - 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10) (No trophies but lots of money$$)
6 - 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
8 - 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
5 - 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)
5 - 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)
7 - 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 - 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
9 - 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 - 0-10 Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
5 - 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
5 - 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 - 0-10 Other

TOTAL - 99

Race Stats:

1st Overall Male:  Chris Parnek (18:22)
1st Overall Female:  Cynthia Lucas (21:09)
Total Finishers:  156

My Stats:

Time:  20:13
Pace:  6:31
Age Group:  1 of 5
Overall:  5 of 156

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Race #143 - Midnight Flight 10k - Anderson, SC - 09/02/11

This was my third straight year of running the Midnight Flight 10k, the first race in the Running Journal Grand Prix. After running a disappointing time of 47:07 in last year's race I hoped to redeem myself by running under 45 minutes this year. Things worked out well for me and I chopped about 4 minutes off last year's time, finishing in 43:09 (with a chip time of 43:04), finishing in 1st place in the 55-59 age group.

It was a little sad not having some of the Charlotte area guys there who I've run the RJ Grand Prix with over the past two seasons, but a couple of other Charlotte runners are there this year -- Butch Holt and Louis Messina -- so we've still got some representation from the area. I'll be switching age groups on February 27, 2012, before the end of the current season, so the only points I'll get will be in races before that date. I told Linda last year that I wouldn't run this series this year, but since I'll still be eligible for points in six races and they're all a lot of fun I decided to give it a shot. Linda's not thrilled but I think she kind of enjoys the traveling, and I figure as long as I'm able to do it and get some points I'll stick with it.

At the beginning of the race I lined up near the front with Louis and we noticed that Butch had left us and lined up directly behind William Walker, a particularly fast runner in Butch's age group (60-64) who has finished ahead of Butch a couple times this year. They're two of the fastest runners in the state in that age group, and both of them are usually way ahead of me at the finish line. As we took off at the beginning of the race I expected to look ahead and see them out ahead of me but I didn't see either one of them. I reached the 1-mile marker at 6:17 and still hadn't seen them so I figured Butch's plan was just to stay with him and not let him get away. Usually Butch goes out like lightning though so I wondered if a slower early pace was a good idea for him. The course is out-and-back, and as I turned around and ran a tenth of a mile or so I saw Butch, then another tenth of a mile behind him was William, so I figured Butch decided somewhere along the line that William wasn't having one of his better races and he better take off on his own pace.

For me, knowing that Butch Holt was behind me gave me some incentive to try to keep up my pace. The last race we did together on July 4th was one of my fastest 5k races of the year, where I finished in 20:23. In that one Butch had completely left me behind after I stayed pretty close to him for the first mile. He finished that race in 19:44, faster than I've ever run, so let's just say he's usually not too worried about me. The sixth mile of this race is the toughest mile by far, with a long uphill climb that seems to go on forever. The past two times I've run it I've stopped and walked at least once and probably two or three times (I don't remember exactly) but this year I was determined to keep running. I checked my heart rate as I approached the hill and it was 173 beats per minute, which is high for me but not too unusual. I decided to try to keep my heart rate at that level, speeding up if I saw 172 and slowing down if I saw 174, and I'd check it every 30 seconds or so. That seemed to work for me and the readout on my Garmin said I averaged a heart rate of 174 in the sixth mile. I crossed the finish line with the clock reading 43:09, with Butch 10 seconds behind at 43:19. In about six months I'll be in Butch's age group, and I'm hoping I can stay in good enough shape to give him a little bit of competition. Right now when I'm running my best and he has an bad day, I'm right there.


Click Here for Race Results

Race Rating:

4 - 1-10  Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
6 - 1-10  Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10) (Nice hat this year!)
5 - 1-10  Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
7 - 1-10  Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
8 - 1-10  T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 - 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)
7 - 1-10  Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 - 1-10  Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 - 1-10  Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 - 0-10  Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
5 - 0/5   Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
7 - 1-10  Bathroom Facilities
0-10  Other

TOTAL - 96

Race Stats:

1st Overall Male:  Ricky Flynn (31:50)
1st Overall Female: Caitlin Ranson (39:37)
Total Finishers: 318

My Stats:

Time:  43:09 (43:04 chip time)
Pace:  6:56
Age Group: 2 of 16 (1 of 15 counting Grand Master bump-up -- 1st place AG)
Overall:  31 of 318