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Race #494 -- Jaycees Summer Kickoff 5k -- Belmont, NC -- 06/06/2021

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Another local 5k, but this week it was well organized and well managed, and with lots of friends present it was a lot of fun.  There was a staggered start because of the coronavirus, which seems unnecessary, but for some reason it's still being done. I'd prefer that everybody starts at the same time, allowing racers to compete head-to-head, but I'm also not above taking advantage of the situation either. I opted to start at the very back of the pack, where I could get a little bit of a running start, pass a lot of slower runners instead of being passed by so many faster runners, and, most importantly, escape the head-to-head battle with Steve Staley that I knew was coming if I stayed in front. Admittedly, both Steve and I run better if we're competing head-to-head, but it's a lot easier if I take the more cowardly approach of just doing my best, all by myself, and seeing how things turn out. Turns out that it worked okay for me. We weren't sure of the final resu

Race #493 -- Memorial Run 5k -- Shelby NC -- 05/22/2021

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Another race directed by the YMCA, this time the Cleveland County YMCA, and dare I say, another stinker. I try not to complain about the organization, which I believe does a good job most of the time, but when it comes to most of the races they're involved with, they're organized poorly with very little consideration given to runners. A case in point at this race is that not only did they not have age group awards, it was also too much trouble for them to even separate the results into age groups. At least they did separate male from female, but if you want to know how you did among the peers your own age, start counting. I mean, I know how to count, and I can do it, but it's kind of inconsiderate on the part of the race directors to have age groups of ages "0 to 99." If you're looking for a banana or a bagel to choke down after the race, go elsewhere. They did have some little bottles of warm water, so there's that, but the pandemic's over and it'

Race #492 -- Belmont Classic 5k -- Belmont, NC -- 05/15/2021

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This was my tenth time running the Belmont Classic 5k, having only missed the 2013 race since I began running. It's been one of my favorite local races and most years it's been a good one. With the temperature in the low 50s at the start of the race, it was definitely cooler than normal but probably helped with some race times. Again, my goal was to reach a 155 heart rate and run at that level for the entire race. As usual, I sputtered through the first mile as my heart rate climbed, and the first hill had me walking a short distance until I was able to get back to running. I knew that the biggest challenge would be the big hill in the last mile and I was hoping to get through that without walking again. It worked out for me, and I was able to keep a pretty steady 155 heart rate going up the last hill with no more walking.  The good news is that I finished in 24:25 with a 7:52 pace, my fastest 5k since returning to running this year. Even better, it was 18 seconds faster than t

Race #491 -- Cherry Blossom 5k -- Cherryville, NC -- 05/08/2021

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I've always looked forward to this race that I've run many times in the past. Until this year it was a Friday evening race that was held during the Cherry Blossom Festival just a couple blocks away. I liked that it was on a warm spring evening that was never too hot but just warm enough to remind me that summer was close. This year the festival wasn't held because of the pandemic so the race was switched to Saturday morning, but I still wanted to run it because it's somewhat local to me (although Cherryville is about a 20-mile drive from home) and it's part of the Gaston County Race Series.  Participation was way down this year and there were only 43 finishers. Just before the start, the race director (I think that's who she was) announced that since there were so few runners they decided not to do age group awards and would only have awards for the top 3 male and female finishers overall. That's a big no-no for most of us who race often since many of us are

Race #490 -- Myrtle Beach Half Marathon -- Myrtle Beach, SC -- 05/01/2021

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The Myrtle Beach Half Marathon has been the race I've been most looking forward to as the pandemic subsides and things get back to normal. It's been a favorite of mine in the past and when I saw that the date had changed from early March to May 1st I jumped at the chance to run it again. The temperature in the low 60s at the start of the race was perfect for me and the weather remained comfortable throughout the race.  My goal was to finish in under 2 hours to extend my streak of sub-2-hour half marathons to 115, and my intention was to use the same strategy that has been working for me in races so far this year, which was to run pretty hard for 70 seconds then do a light jog for 20 seconds and continue this pattern throughout the race. Just a few seconds into the race I thought about what happened in last week's 5k. I had used my normal 70:20 ratio of run/jog and it worked okay for the first 2 miles, but then in the last mile I ended up walking 5 times! The walk breaks wer

Race #489 -- Red Carpet 5k -- Albemarle, NC -- 04/25/21

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With the Academy Awards being held on this night, Vac & Dash decided to celebrate the event with a 5k for those of us who weren't invited to the gala in Hollywood. No acting was required although some might accuse me of trying to act like a runner these days. As is the case with most Vac & Dash races, it was a lot of fun. V&D owner Peter Asciutto (pronounced uh-SHOO-toe) says that his main goal is that when runners drive home after an event they smile and think, "That was a fantastic event." It's an almost 2-hour drive from home for me to get to Albemarle so I don't go there as often as I'd like, but I've run quite a few of the Vac & Dash races over the years and have never been disappointed.  This was the third and final race of the Vac & Dash Trifecta, a series of races all held on Sunday afternoons in March and April, and the weather was perfect for all three races. For those runners who competed in this race as well as the Easter Eg

Race #488 -- Charlotte 10 Miler -- Charlotte NC -- 04/17/2021

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Celebrating its tenth year, the Charlotte 10 Miler & 4 Mile Run has for several years been one of Charlotte's premier races. It's been a favorite for me and a lot of runners I know and has attracted some of the best runners from the area. The 10-mile distance is kind of a rarity, with most races sticking with the more standard distances such as 5k, 10k, half marathon, etc. The 10-mile distance presents a little different challenge. This was my 488th race but only my ninth 10-miler. It was my slowest 10-miler ever but that's not too surprising since it was four years ago when I last ran the 10-mile distance.  This year's race featured a rolling start, with runners beginning their races over an excruciatingly long 4-hour time frame from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. due to Covid restrictions. The entire race was run on the McMullen Creek Greenway, obviating the need to close down any roads for traffic concerns, and since it was a rolling start the single pathway down to the ma