Sunday, December 27, 2009

Just runnin'

Enjoying this phase of the training. No set schedule, no specific workouts or mileage targets, just nice and easy running, ticking over until the hard work begins again. Being someone who likes structure and to know exactly what he's supposed to be doing on a given day, periods like this are unfamiliar to me but extremely gratifying!. At the same time a piece of me is really looking forward to getting back to a more formal plan in the coming weeks

Wednesday was 7 miles with some of the CRC guys from the Dowd, Thursday I took completely off, Christmas Day I waited for the rain to calm down a little before heading out with Aaron for 8 before sitting down to eat and yesterday was another 7. I ran a bit harder for this one, averaging a 6:25 pace and finishing off with some strides to start reminding the legs how to run fast again. Today again will be a random run, Lisa is going to drop me off on our way home from the Mall and I'll just run as long as it takes me to get home.

That will be 40-45 miles for this week. Next week I'll probably try and hit 50 on 6 runs and after that I'll probably ease back into full training. In the weeks leading up to Thunder Road I was hitting over 75 miles a week for the first time ever on a regular basis so without the need to run 2 hour plus runs in the next phase I would like to see my mileage around the 70 miles a week mark if possible.

Thursday I have pencilled in my first 'workout' of this phase. That will be 19 days post Thunder Road. I had already planned a 4 mile tempo workout for this day before we head off to the Beach for New Years and then Ben Hovis yesterday sent out a note asking for some company on his first workout back which coincidentally was going to be on Thursday too. He's planning a five mile 'progression' run so I'm going to jump in on that. A few of the big guns from CRC are lining up to hit this one too (Aaron, Billy, Jay and Thomas) and we're also trying to bring in sub 15 guy Bert Rodriguez who is in town this week, so it should be fun!

Hope everyone is having a great Christmas. We certainly are, the kids have had an absolute blast and that's what matters!



Thursday, December 24, 2009

Looking back, looking forward

Get yourselves a big mug of coffee or stop reading now, this is going to be a long one...

So another year draws to a close and as usual it provides a good opportunity to look back on life and look forward to the year ahead and beyond. In these increasingly hectic times it seems to me that my life currently comes down to four fundamental aspects: family, friends, work and, of course, running!

Out of those four, family is obviously predominant. They are my rock, my constant, everything revolves around them. Whenever I have a bad day or a bad race or something pisses me off I can come home and remind myself that the most important thing in life is right here. Equally when something is going well being able to share that with them just magnifies that feeling.

My girls continue to amaze me. Emily and Sophie are growing up so fast. Emily is nearly 7 going on 15. It's amazing to think that a couple of years ago I would still have considered her my baby, now all of a sudden she's an independent young girl reading, doing math, tieing her own shoes, making her own food and drinks, having sleepovers, the list goes on! Before I know it it seems I'll be vetting potential suitors LOL! Sophie meanwhile is as that great age where she's still my cuddly little baby but is picking up things so fast. Some of the things she comes out with make us laugh so hard! Of course, having all girls does get interesting from time to time. Sometimes I can come home and all three of my ladies are crying about something! Whatever happens though they will always be the most important things in my life and everything I do will revolve around them.

This year also saw sadness in my family further afield. My dad's father lost his brief battle with cancer and we and the world lost a great man who did so much in his life and touched so many. I was very sad that I wasn't able to see Grandad before he passed away but he was given a great send off and was surrounded by loved ones as he passed. RIP Grandad. My Dad's been sick too, spending the past three weeks in hospital with intestinal problems. Luckily it appears he has gotten better just in time for christmas and will be let home in time for christmas later today.

Sometimes being so far away from my family I feel I'm not doing enough to stay in touch with them and show my love for them and that is something I hope I can address going forward. We are all looking forward to our trip across the pond in April having not been able to make the journey this year....

On the work front there were significant developments recently. In October I took the decision to move from my then position. Additional stresses were being put on me, the long hours never seemed to be coming to an end and I was taking those stresses home with me, impacting on my life at home (when I was there!) and my running training. So I decided to hand in my resignation. I hadn't even lined anything up to replace my job and the prospects of finding any new job in the current environment was going to be very tough, but it was a decision that I had to take and I don't regret it at all.

Just as I was about to be on the job market again, my ex boss who now worked in a different part of the organisation caught wind of my departure and it just so happened that he was looking to fill a new role on his team. I accepted his offer and am enjoying my new role. I have had to take a not insignificant cut in my salary but am getting to see much more of my family now and at present my priority is them and not my pay check. Give me quality of life over monetary gain any time. As long as I am being challenged at work and am earning enough to give my family a decent lifestyle I will be happy, that's just the way I feel at the moment. I will never be someone who is so driven and ambitious at work that the rest of my life is negatively impacted. My family and even my running are far too important to me for that to happen....

Moving on to the friends aspect, it was always difficult when I first moved over 4 years ago leaving my best friends behind and making new friends over here proved a slow process. Slowly though through good friends Lisa has made and of course through my running activities I have begun to build a network of people I can call friends. I will look to forge deeper relationships in the year ahead. With the Charlotte Running Club blossoming and blooming and set to explode in 2010 I'm hoping some good friendships will develope from that, there are so many nice people involved in it all.

I miss my old mate Tim who moved back up to Cleveland over a year ago. We ran together virtually every morning and both having young families had two very similar priorities in life. Our two significantly contrasting personalities seemed to mesh well- we were very compatible I guess! I'm still in touch regularly with Tim and see him as much as I can when he is in the area on business. He also acts as my guide/coach on the running front and his advice and training plans have been a significant factor in my half and marathon PRs in the past 15 months. As we move in to 2010 hopefully Tim's guidance can carry on my development as a runner.

Which brings us on to the 4th factor in my life that I mentioned earlier- the omnipresent 'running'! It's very hard to explain the passion I have for running and the impact it has had on my life since I 'properly' discovered it back in 2001. Lisa certainly can't understand it, as she often reminds me, "I didn't marry a runner!!" Back then I was a beer swilling foootballer! Now I'm a runner who enjoys a beer!

I often hear the expression from people "Running defines who I am". I have absolutely no idea what that means, it seems such a vague concept! Regardless I would apply that definition to myself! Running means so much to me. It's my outlet for venting my frustrations, having time to myself, keeping in good, healthy shape, exercising my competitive instincts, meeting new people, pushing my body to the limits, the list goes on. Without running something else would have a very big void in my life to fill...

Looking back on 2009, a year that could have been so disappointing was salvaged by my thoroughly satisfying Thunder Road Marathon performance. After a year decimated by setbacks and disappointing races I was able to come good at the end, putting in two months of possibly the best training of my life and finishing it off with a huge PR at Thunder Road. When I look at my finishing certificate and it says Division Place: 1 out of 190, Overall: 3 out of 1412, it gives me a great sense of pride and reminds me that I'm reasonably good at my favourite pastime.

I'm currently in recovery mode from that race and looking to build on the great training block I had moving into the New Year to set up some fast performances in early 2010 and beyond. Looking back the past few years it seems that the winter has always been a slow season for me. i've either been injured or just ticking it over over this time leading to pretty slow Spring races and a consequent determination to get fitter over the summer. And although I have typically been able to get faster over the summers, it's taken a lot of hard work, hard work being carried out in 90 plus temperatures and ridiculous humidity of course!! Heading into the New Year this year things are different. I'm, touch wood, 100% healthy, I'm coming off the back of a confidence boosting marathon and I'm still (presumably) fit from my training for it. So the plan is to recover from Thunder Road over the next couple of weeks and all being well launch into another solid training block in January. There is a Half in Columbia I have set my eyes on at the end of February and then of course the Grand Prix starts. Having placed in the top three in that event in 2006 through 2008 it was frustrating last year not to be able to compete in it because of injury. This year I have got some payback due and plan to hit the ground running in March.

So if I can stay injury free the next few months then 2010 should be a great year. With the Charlotte Running Club growing so fast there will always be highly motivated, competitive guys to train and race with.

I've also made some changes to my training approach and maintenance between workouts which will hopefully address my inclination towards injury. Looking back at my training logs since I started completing them in 2005 it amazes me how much time I have missed. For someone who is a relatively decent runner my mileage amounts over these years are pitiful. 2005- 1,694, 2006- 1,902, 2007- 2,380, 2008- 2,167, 2009- will be around the 1,840 mark. May seem a lot to some people (non runners certainly!) but I bet if I looked at the training logs of people who typically finish around the same times as me in races they will have covered a bunch more miles than that. Unfulfilled potential? I think so....

Anyway, sorry for boring you with this lengthy post but thought it was a good time to reflect and look forward. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and New Year and enjoys what matters most to them at this time of year. Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Getting there

My legs seem to be coming round. I ran another couple of 5 mile runs Sunday, Monday and pushed it out to almost an hour today when I met up with the Charlotte Running Club guys for early acres in Mcalpine. We met at 5.30 and there were 15 of us! Unbelievable! Most had headlamps so I could actually see in Mcalpine for once. It was amusing seeing all the bobbing headlamps as we pushed through the woods. I just hung out at the back of the peloton running about 7:20 pace while the gazelles lit it up up front.

I'll probably hit around 40 miles this week (taking Thursday off) and will aim to run 6 days next week too. Once I get through that it may be time to start ramping it up again, we'll see.

Saturday afternoon I popped into the store to give Jay some thank you beers and bumped into Jordan who won the Thunder Road marathon. Was nice to meet him as I didn't get chance to on the day of the race! I'm sure he won't mind me advertizing his blog here....OK Runner

Another blog I want to point out is this Max performance running

Should be some good articles and discussions stemming from this....

Lastly I'll post the link to my photos from Thunder Road pics

If I take a loan out I may purchase one or two...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Baby steps

Back 'running' again. Yesterday hit up Mcalpine early doors with the Budic for five very slow miles. I ran very cautiously, my calves still feel very fragile! Was great to catch up with Tim again. Very excited to see how his plans to go sub 2.25 go over the Winter! Coach for cash

Tim proceeded to complete the sale of his house and then set off back to Cleveland. More than 24 hours later he still finds himself on I-77 after getting snowed in en route and spending the night in a Walmart parking lot. Sorry bud!!

This morning I got up to run early but procrastinated and by the time I'd cooked some cinnamon rolls for the kids the smell was just too good to resist so I tucked in myself and put off the run till later. Eventually ended up running home from Walmart via Mcalpine once we'd stocked up on our Christmas food and reached our credit card limit. This ended up being 5 miles again, slightly faster this time at 7:30 pace but still being very tentative for now!

Enjoying this recovery business! If I run, all the better, if I don't it doesn't really matter! Can see this happening for at least a couple more weeks before I start to think about structuring my schedule a bit more again.

For those who haven't seen it yet here is a bit of David Cook accompanied footage of last week's marathon. Awesome!

Thunder Road

Thursday, December 17, 2009


So here we are five days after the Marathon and I haven't run a step, or done any other form of exercise other than walk the dog for that matter. The rest of the weekend was pretty much spent just shuffling about. My quads and calves in particular were so sore that shuffle pace hurt! It wasn't until Tuesday that I woke up and the soreness had noticeably started to ease.

Pretty much a reflection that I had taken my body past what it had been trained to do on Saturday- understandable when you look at the fact that I had only done about 8weeks proper training leading up to the race. As coach put it, we flirted with fire with the agressiveness of the program. I just about escaped unburned!

Now on Thursday my legs almost feel 'normal' again. I was going to leave it until Saturday to test the waters but Tim is in town tonight so we are going to hit up Mcalpine for an easy run tomorrow morning so we can do a post Marathon debrief and start planning the next cycle.

Speaking of which I've been thinking about next steps for the past few days and have come up with a plan that's got the appetite going again. Goal races will be a fast Half at the new Columbia Half Marathon at the end of February and then a dart at my 5k PR at the end of April at the CPCC Skyline race. Looking back the past few years it seems I keep reasonably fit over the winter, but then try and get fitter and fitter as the year goes on- which takes its toll when you are running in 90 degree heat and humidity every day! This time around I want to hit the start of the GP series as hard as possible and then maintain rather than build on fitness over the Summer.

I will definitely be looking to compete well in the Grand Prix series next year having had to sit out nearly every race this year. As far as marathons go I think I'm done for a while! Certainly nothing planned for 2010. Lisa wants me to do Disney in Jan 2011 so we can go on vacation straight after, but that's a long way off yet...

Sunday, December 13, 2009


2:38:16 for 3rd place overall.

The title of the post reflects my relief that I was able to achieve all I set out to do, but only just! By the end of the race I was riding that very thin line between marathon success and failure but luckily I was able to just about hold on!

I had an amazing day, without doubt the most satisfying, exhilarating, emotional and hardest running experience of my life. Now it's time to chill out for a while, put some weight back on and reflect on this and start thinking about next goals.

The day started with me waking at 2.30. Oh shit, early for me even! tossed and turned for a while but just got up at 3 anyway. Figured I could get away with a slightly bigger breakfast now. Had the usual big bowl of Chex, raisins and skimmed milk, hot cup of tea and a couple of hunks of left over Italian bread from the pre race pasta meal the night before. Dairy and a bit of fibre and caffeine seems to work well for me. Let's just say I like to empty myself out before the race!

I messed around on the computer for a while, watched an 'Everest' DVD and put my various layers of clothing on. It was 25 and still falling at this point- but this was to prove as cold as it got.

I headed out the door at 6 so that I could park easily. Found a place right near the start and also near the Westin Hotel where Billy had stayed the night before and had kindly offered me use of before the race! Spent the next 30 minutes or so with Billy in his warm room just chilling out, stretching and helping him pick what outfit/technology to wear out of the 6 choices available! Billy and I had done some workouts together leading up to TR and were both pumped and ready to hit the race hard.

We headed out for a little jog just to warm the muscles up a little and with 15 minutes to go were ready and waiting down on the start line. Sucked down a Gu and got to talk to a bunch of people who were racing, including Pete who I had coached and was just about to set out on his first Marathon adventure. Everyone was ready to roll, the nervous anticipation was building, we just wanted to 'start our engines'...

Five minutes to go and I had a nice place right at the front of the throng of racers (the beauty of a 'smaller' marathon!). I looked around to check out the potential competition. I'd heard that 2 sub 2:30 guys were starting but I didn't see them, most people seemd to be running the Half or had their numbers covered by their external layers. Did some light striders and finalized what attire I was going to start in. It was probably about 30 degrees with no wind which was better than we had expected, so I shed a layer or two and went with racing singlet, shorts, calf sleeves, Dollar store gloves and my light jacket over the top. This would be shed at the 5 mile mark where family was going to be watching.

Then it was time for the National Anthem which is a great touch at the start of the race- even a Brit had goose bumps, God knows what it would have been like if they had pumped out God Save The Queen!

All of a sudden we were off. Weeks of dedicated training and it came down to this, no turning back now, it was time to perform! Time to shine, no excuses...

Going into the race my aims had changed slightly from when I first decided to run TR. 2 months ago I had only just got back into solid training. Coach and I sat down and devised a plan with the main aim to beat my previous marathon best of 2:43:50 set on this very course three years before. However, despite my distinct lack of base, my training had gone as well as it could. I'd run three back to back 75 plus mile weeks, long runs of 22 and 24 miles at a good lick and a 'marathon pace' 18 mile run that I had blown out of the water. Coach thought I was at least in sub 2:40 shape and if I had a perfect day, sub 2:35!

Being the pragmatist I am we decided that sub 2:40 would be a realistic goal, which in itself was hard for me to believe, the way injuries had treated me the previous year. The plan was to hold back as much as possible on the tougher first half, go through in around 1:20 (6:10 pace) and negative split the back half. It didn't quite work out like that!

Mile 1 is downhill. 5:55. that's fine and actually slower than I expected it would be. Mile 2 5:57. Hmmm, that mile is uphill. But I'm running very relaxed and easy. It was already clear that 6:10 pace was not going to be followed! At this point everyone is just feeling each other out and trying to get into a nice rhythm. Brian Mcmahon and Greg Isaacs who were looking to go around 1:15 for the Half were safely up in the group ahead, I just hung out with some guys who were looking to go sub 1:20. They weren't from Charlotte so I enjoyed playing the 'local expert' telling them what they could expect from the course, etc. Aaron was out on his bike cheering out encouragement, all was good at this point.

Through 4 in 23:48, feeling like I was jogging. The bar had been set now of course and I was expecting sub 6 minute mile cumulative pace when I looked at the clock every mile (which is very easy to work out obviously- this probably isn't a good thing!). I knew mile 5 was a long drag up Providence to Wendover so I made sure I just maintained a nice even effort. I was hoping this mile would have slipped a bit otherwise I was pushing too hard. 6:06, perfect

This was where I dumped my jacket. Lisa and the girls were right there cheering and waving their posters, it was great to see them and a couple of other friends who had come out. This was the point where I had my first experience of the crowd effect. Felt like a rock star as a big group had formed and were whooping and hollering!

Then it was into the quiet of the beautiful Foxcroft neighborhood. This section and through to the bottom of Morehead we had identified as a section where you could really roll and so it proved. I was feeling really smooth through here clicking off the miles. Hit mile 11 in 65:43, still comfortably under six minute pace and feeling good. During this section I sucked down another GU (and had been taking on water at every station) and it did seem to give me a boost. I also came across the first other marathon competitor i had seen. he came rolling up behind us at about mile 7. I asked him what he was shooting for and he said 2:37 and moved ahead of our our group.

Then we hit Morehead. I knew this was an important part of the race. Not only was there going to be a couple of tough uphill miles but also the Half marathoners were going to be finishing and I would suddenly be alone. Going up mile 12 I moved smoothly past 2:37 guy and didn't stay with him I just rolled on. I pulled up alongside Steve Spada as he turned off to finish his race and we wished each other luck. I was now on Berkeley and it had gone quiet. A cyclist who was clearly a course guide pulled alongside me and was to keep me company for a while. I actually asked him if I was leading as I hadn't seen the two actual leaders at the start!

Through the Half in 1:18:34. Much faster than planned, but too late now and still feeling good. I kept rolling through 14,15,16 in 5:56,5:49,5:53 but was definitely starting to work hard now. This is a pretty desolate and bleak part of the course and that combined with the lack of crowd support really makes this a tough section even though it is flat. I took in my third Gu of the morning and looked forward to hooking up with Jay who was going to jump in for the last 10! Ran underneath the overpass next to Panthers stadium where a steel drum band were cranking out an amazing racket! I cheered them as I passed. Every bit of support now was going to be welcome!

No sign of Jay at Panthers Stadium where I was expecting him to jump in. Panic over, he's at the corner of 4th Street looking ready to roll! I was mighty relieved and happy to see Jay! We rolled through mile 17 in 5:56 getting some big cheers from Danielle and Chad and headed up Trade Street. This hill was a lot tougher than I remembered and I was now conscious that I was having to work hard to stay on pace. This mile was 6:11 my slowest so far.

Still, only 8 to go now and I had rolled on this part of the course in a training run two weeks previous. Miles 19 and 20 were 5:54 and 6:01 and I was through 20 in under two hours (1:59:45). All you've got left is a 10k now Paul, shouted Jay. "Hmmph" I assented. To this point we had tried to maintain conversations but Jay now asserted that I was to shut up and he was going to tell me stories. Through mile 21 down 35th Street in 6:05. Jay was relating some story about a July 4th night out. Sorry mate no recollection now of that story, but it was sure helping! On 35th a 'wall' had been set up in the street to 'push through'. I was determined I wasn't going to hit the wall but it was definitely touch and go at this stage! My fourth and final Gu was consumed and on I pushed.

This was actually a good section of the course as it was flat and straight and I could just zone out. We turned on to the Plaza and were now heading back towards the city. Jay was drumming up support from every person he could see. Miles 22 to 24 passed in 18:10. Somehow I was holding it together. Not that I knew this at the time. I wasn't even looking at the watch at this stage, scared as I was that it would only tell me bad news- I felt like i was running 7 plus minute mile pace now but I clearly wasn't. Phew!

Less than a 5k to go now but the infamous Hawthorn Hill was now looming. Two weeks previous I had flown up this hill and wondered what all the fuss was about. Now I knew it was going to kick me in the butt again! And it sure did. The hill is only short but is steep and carries on climbing as you turn back on to Central. I felt like I was practically walking when I got to the top! I let Jay pull ahead a little and reassured him that I was just pulling myself together for the final couple of miles. Luckily the crowd support at this corner was fantastic! Aaron was whooping and hollering from his bike, all I had to do was try and keep my focus and form and push through to the finish.

Mile 25 was 6:13 and I could smell the finish line. Along Mcdowell I was just counting off the blocks, my face a picture of pain. I had to get from 7th to 2nd before turning for the finish. Danielle and Chad made their 2nd welcome appearance on the sidelines and now I could hear the crowd support from the finishing line. Mile 26 6:20. I was sliding but nearly done. I saw the clock and it finally dawned on me that I was definitely going to be in the 2:30s. Jay peeled off, an awesome job done, and I milked the crowd's applause, waving my arms with them, jumping up and down, I felt like a rock star! I had my arms aloft as I crossed the line, I think that was the first time I had ever done that! Memories that will last forever.

I immediately went over to thank Jay and Scott and Lat came over to congratulate me. Then I saw the kids and Lisa and I got kind of sappy, emotional. What a race!

So I smashed my PR by over 5 minutes. My second half was 1:19:42 so I hadn't actually dropped that much from the first half, it just felt like I had while I was running it!

I tried to get warm and watched a bunch more people come in. Billy hitting one out of the park to run 35 minutes faster than he did last year, Mo winning the first marathon she had ever entered, Theoden smashing his PR and then Pete completing his marathon journey.

What an event Tim and the guys put on! The volunteers were amazing, the crowd support fantastic and the whole general feel good factor was tangible.

Thanks for reading. I am now very sore, looking forward to some down time and filling my depleted glycogen stores with every type of food I can find!



5.56 (Half 1:18:34)
1.16 (2:38:16)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


So here we are three days from the big day and I feel as ready to roll as I could be. I had a great quick trip over the Ocean, managed to keep to my training schedule and touch wood didn't pick up any bugs which was my biggest fear.

Ran my last mini workout yesterday, 7 miles including 3 in 18:00. Tried to feel in a groove for the three mile section and it went well. I could visualize running at around that pace fairly comfortably on Saturday, which is all you can ask at this point. Today I'm taking completely off and then Thursday and Friday I'll run a few easy miles with some striders, hopefully getting to the start line ready to roll with the glycogen stores full!

All eyes are on the weather forecast for the weekend which currently has 'wintry mix'- not good, however the latest suggestion is that it may arrive later than originally thought. I would settle for dry and cold at this point!

I do have a game plan for Saturday based on my knowledge of the course and my previous marathon here. The key is not to ruin my race over the first half and be in position to take advantage of the flatter conditions over the second half. Jay Holder has kindly offered to jump in at mile 16 to keep me company through the last few miles. I plan to rely on gus and water for my fuelling needs. Lisa and the kids are hopefully going to catch me at mile 5 and then at the end. i'm excited and just want to get this done.

Bring on Saturday!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Charlotte Running Club

Don't worry, you can read on, this isn't going to be yet another boring post about how my training is going! Regular readers of my blog (all three of them) may have noticed a signficant change in its style and content when I started focussing my posts solely on my training for Thunder Road a few weeks back.

Looking at my last few posts I hadn't realized how 'self absorbed' the blog had become. I mean by its nature a blog is pretty self indulgent, how else can you write about yourself without it coming across like that at times! But for the last few posts I realise I've mentioned nothing apart from my training for Thunder Road! While this may all be very interesting (or not!) the blog content will be changing going forward, so bear with me.

When I first started this blog a couple of years ago (pre Facebook explosion!!) the aim of it was to document the training and passion for running of a very busy father of two and to keep friends and family back in England up to date with how life in the US was treating me. After Thunder Road next week I will try and get back to that style of content.

Having said all that, I wanted to use this post to discuss how a significant development in the Charlotte running scene this year has made such an impact on the running and wider community here- the establishment of 'Charlotte Running Club'

When I came over to Charlotte in 2005 one of the first things I noticed as a runner was the lack of a real running community here. Back in England I had been used to running for a club, racing with them, training with them, drinking beers with them. Here it seemed running was going to have to be a much more individual affair. There was the Sharksbite runners club which did introduce me to some likeminded individuals and I'll always be grateful to Tim Long and the enthusiasm he ran that set up with, but even that was quite a disparate group and with Tim's departure the club seemed to split off into various groups and I lost touch with the 'group running' thing again.

Then earlier this year a guy called Aaron Linz dropped me a line asking me if I wanted to meet up for a run some time. I knew the name, had seen it near the top of local race leaderboards, so jumped at the opportunity to meet up.

Looking back in my running log it was March 29. I jogged down to Mcalpine parking lot, met Aaron, put a face to the name and was also introduced to the third member of our running group for that day, Jay Holder. I'd actually spoken to Jay briefly after a race a couple of weeks before so it was good to see him joining us that morning. During that 'getting to know you better' run we discussed the Charlotte running scene in general and all expressed our frustration that there really wasn't one 'home' for Charlotte runners to go to. Sure, there were different training groups all over the city that would regularly meet up for runs, but nothing pulling all these groups together into a bigger community.

At that point Aaron mentioned his desire to try and put an end to this by creating a Charlotte Running Club, a Club where runners of all abilities could hang out together, train together, share their passion for running together. I went home after a nice run that day wondering how Aaron's ideas and intentions could be put into action. Over the next few weeks I ran a few more times with Aaron and Jay and was also introduced to Caitlin Chrisman who seemed to have an even bigger passion for running than any of us (which is saying something!) and Aaron's grand plan started to take shape.

Under the thrust of these three guys (amongst others), Charlotte Running Club began to take shape. At this point, surprise surprise, up reared another injury and I spent most of the spring and summer laid up (as has been documented elsewhere in this blog!). Meanwhile, through the new medium of the omnipresent Facebook (!) I was following how the running club was taking shape. All sorts of people were coming together to train and race. Sunday runs were being organised with up to 30 people running together, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at the Dowd YMCA would have similar amounts of people getting together for a run, from 6 minute milers to 10 minute milers. Group track workouts started up. I was jealous I couldn't get involved!

Anyway, fast forward to the present and the Club continues to grow exponentially! People of all paces and abilities are meeting up to run together and share their passions. Runners who want to improve their performance are getting guidance from more experienced members of the club; already fast runners are reaping the benefits of training together and pushing each other on to bigger and greater things. Teams are entering verious races, both local and national- there's talk of a team entering the national XC champs next year!

Major kudos needs to go out to Aaron, Jay and Caitlin and everyone else who has helped get this off the ground. The Charlotte running community is a bigger and brighter place because of it. Here is the link to the website. Get involved in any way you can! Charlotte Running Club

This, combined with the impact of a blog and Facebook postings written by a certain Theoden James Theoden's Blog (who's worthy of his own blog posting which I may get round to later!) has created something really positive. Let's hope it continues to grow and grow.....

Anyway, enough about other people! It's 5.30 am, the rain has stopped at last and I'm about to head out for my last 'proper' workout before the big day in 9 days time. You'll hear all about it when I get back from my quick jaunt to England this weekend!