We couldn't have asked for better weather for a December half marathon. This was the second year it was held and I missed it last year because it was held on the same week we were in Hawaii. I signed up a couple months in advance at a bargain price, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well the race seemed to be organized. The only real issue I heard from runners is that there are a few places in the race where we're running on some narrow roads where the traffic was fairly heavy. I noticed those areas myself but didn't have any problems with it, although it did cross my mind that it wouldn't take much for a disaster to occur. One runner told me that a driver came up in back of him and started blowing his horn. Other than that, everything was great and it's a race I'll look forward to running again in the future. I thought the course was great except for those high traffic areas, with most of it being through up-scale quiet neighborhoods with wide streets. There are a lot of rolling hills throughout the race but nothing major. The long-sleeved tech shirts are nicely designed and will be one of the few race shirts I'll actually wear, and in addition to medals for all of the half marathon finishers there was also a Brooks running hat that's fantastic! I felt like the value of the hat and shirt was just about enough to cover the cost of the race. With half marathons getting so expensive and this one being about half the cost of the Thunder Road half, I'd rate this one as a "best buy" among local half marathons.
A little less than two weeks ago I decided to go on a vegan diet. Yup, no meat, no milk, no cheese, no eggs -- actually nothing derived from animals. It's controversial and even frowned upon it seems, but I've long been at least sympathetic to the belief that we shouldn't kill animals just because we like the way they taste. A running friend, Bob Heck, recommended to me at the 2011 Turkey Trot that I watch the movie "Forks Over Knives." I hemmed and hawed for a year, then stumbled across the movie on Netflix the week after the 2012 Turkey Trot and watched it. "Forks Over Knives" is not actually a movie about animal cruelty but about how a 100% plant-based diet is beneficial for your health. By the time I finished watching the movie I announced to Linda that I'm ready to adopt a vegan diet, and of course she pooh-poohed the notion as soon as I brought it up. I like it though, and it hasn't been that difficult so far to stick with the diet. Actually, "vegan food" is for the most part just regular food such as fruit, vegetables, grains, and beans. It's the same stuff I've been eating except now I'm eating more of the plant-based food to replace the animal products.
Honestly, the results so far have been mixed. On one hand, I feel spectacular compared to how I've felt over the past few months. If you've kept up with me at all, you know that for the last three months or so I've had a lingering feeling of malaise. The doctor said I had acute bronchitis and asthma and put me on a prednisone dose pack and some asthma medication but it really didn't seem to help at all. Within a week of starting the vegan diet I felt like I was 90% better. The only symptom I've had is still just a little bit of congestion, and that's a huge improvement.
Going into this half marathon I was optimistic although I wasn't expecting any miracles. I still have a hamstring issue that no amount of dieting is going to cure. My mileage has also been lower over these past few months and I hadn't run more than 10 miles since my last half marathon in late October, so I'm not in the greatest shape for a half marathon but I did feel much better going into the race than I would have if I had not started the diet. For the first 3 miles I really felt great.
You can see from my split times (above) that it wasn't much more than 3 miles into the race that the wheels started coming off. The downward spikes in the graphic below shows the times that I walked. I counted 10 times that my pace went below 12-minutes per mile, and you can also see that as the race progressed I walked more and more.
Around 11 or 12 miles into the race I felt as bad as I've ever felt in a race and that includes the two full marathons where I hit the wall. I'm not sure if it was low glycogen or low protein or low mileage, or maybe a combination of all three, but it was definitely a miserable feeling. I didn't consider dropping out but I did think about just walking the rest of the race. I'm glad I stuck with it though, and in the end my time of 1:42 wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it might be. I still need to make some changes, but I'll try to do it without slitting the throat of a farm animal. I went out and bought some vegan protein powder that I'll be adding to my diet and I think I need to be sure I'm getting enough carbs too, just in case my problem was more a glycogen deficiency, which is what it felt like. But what do I know? Not much, I'm afraid, but I'll keep trying to get it right.
Click Here for Race Results
Click Here for Professional Photos from Carolina Snapshot
Click Here for Facebook Photos from Bill Shires (562 pics!)
Age Group: 3 of 6 (50%)
Overall: 82 of 564 (14.5%)
Average Heart Rate: 166
Maximum Heart Race: 173
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 1:22:31 (71.76%)
* RACE RATING *
Note: I made a few adjustments to the rating system as of 10/27/12 to give races a chance to score more rating points, so it can be futile to compare an older race with a newer one. Hopefully the different items on the checklist will inform you of what you need to know about a race. I'm still trying to keep it as objective as I can. The total points points possible are more than 100 but I'm trying to fine tune it so that good races end up in the 85-100 range. It's too much trouble to go back and make changes to the old race ratings, but one of these days after all of the fine tuning is done it may be much easier to compare races with each other.
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
2 - Course Scenery: (0)bad (2)pleasant (5)extraordinary
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)mediocre (2)not bad (5)very good (7)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
3 - Cost: (0)expensive (1)reasonable (3)cheap!
3 - Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes
2 - Posted promptly online: (0)no (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website: (0)no (1)yes
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
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 (3)fabulous door prizes!
3 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals
3 - Food for Race Participants: (0)none (1)some (3)adequate (7)a feast!
1 - Entertainment: (0)no (1)yes
1 - Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (1)yes
2 - Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
1 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
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
5 - Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
2 - Prices: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
5 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (2)yes (5)lots of free pics! (See above)
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
2 - Dedicated race website (0)no (2)yes
2 - Results or link to results posted on website: (0)no (2)yes
0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
5 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent (the hat!)
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes