Friday, December 31, 2010

Night and Day

Miles 9
Time 1:04:50

Well that was a pleasant surprise. I woke up this morning feeling markedly better in myself and went out and actually had a decent enough run. The company and hour certainly helped. Being off work and with the girls still up in VA I was able to hijack Ben and John's run with Meagan and Billy and we ran around a still muddy and partially snowy Mcalpine again. I'm still shaking this bug thing I've got but certainly felt a lot better today.

Still feel really sluggish though, legs very heavy. My hamstrings are so tight that they are noticeably sore and it is definitely affecting my turnover and efficiency. One of my New Year resolutions is to improve my flexibility and dedicate myself to stretching and massaging better next year. Without improving this aspect I've got no chance of getting faster. Speaking of which, two of my aims for the early part of 2011 are to beat both my 5k and 10k PRs. The 10k will be at Richmond in April, the 5k will likely be one of the Spring track meets. The rest of 2011 is as yet undecided. A Fall marathon is definitely a possibility but may leave it a little longer.

Here's to a great 2011! Hangover run at Mcalpine tomorrow, my competitors will be more hungover than me that's for sure but I am looking forward to having a few drinks and seeing the Year in with Lisa and Emily.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Run down

Miles- 17
Time 2:04:28

I ran twice today. This morning was the usual Dowd run and I felt fine, enjoying a good chat with Kevin, Tom and Jamaar who I have rarely run with previously. This afternoon I took advantage of being let out of work early and my family's continuing vacation in VA to run solo at Mcalpine. Well that run absolutely sucked! I trudged around in the mud barely capable of maintaining a 7 minute pace and almost stopped to walk during the last mile. I've been run down all week fighting a virus and this afternoon was the culmination of this. I did a half ass track workout yesterday that can also be put down to this so I'm going to play it by ear the next few days and get back to 100% as soon as possible. I was looking forward to running the CRC Hangover 5k on Saturday but i may now just be a spectator.

Hey, it's New Year's Eve tomorrow. Wishing all my reader(s) a very Happy New Year and a wonderful 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Miners' Yawn

Miles 8
Time 59:38

Felt completely blah on this morning’s Miners Run. I stayed up half the night watching England demolish the Aussies in the cricket so when 5am rolled around and I had to get up for this it felt like I had never even been to bed! I was a very quiet member of the Group this morning and felt like I could fall asleep any moment as we headed back along the last mile of the greenway back to Old Bell. Pulled the plug on the workout I was going to do later in the day and put it off till tomorrow when hopefully I’ll feel better after a decent night’s sleep

Monday, December 27, 2010

Frozen Mcalpine

Miles 6
Time 41:58

With sub zero temperatures re-freezing the mess left behind from yesterday's snow, I decided to work from home this morning so I could go in once the roads had thawed a bit. This gave me the opportunity to get my run in at Mcalpine again. The trees still look beautiful with all the snow on them but underfoot it's a mess there with plenty of ice. Tomorrow's Miners' run there at dark 30 in sub 20 conditions could be interesting!

Lisa and the girls headed up to VA for a few days and my parents are safely home so the house is eerily quiet! At least I can watch plenty of cricket and football in peace for a few days

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Week in review

Miles 58
1 long run, 1 day off, 1 double, 1 workout, 1 snow run

Well this was originally planned as a cutback week with 50 miles and 2 workouts but I ended up only doing one workout as my Tuesday run turned into my long run, pushing my workout back to Friday and today's snow curtailed any chance of the 2nd workout being done. However, Christmas Eve's double pushed my mileage for the week up so I'll take it as a wash. I'm ready to get some structure and discipline back into my training though as we head into the New Year.....

Boxing Day Snow Run

Miles 8
Time 56:00

An even 7 minute mile pace for today's run. Woke up to a few inches of snow and headed into Mcalpine at lunch time to have a rare fun run on the white stuff. Enjoyed it! Brought to an end a bit of a weird week of training but more of that in my review of the week.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I got a run in!

Miles 4
Time 29:28

Admittedly it was at 3:15am but still....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Double

Miles 17
Time 1:58

Anticipating a likely zero on Christmas Day I decided to get two runs in today. This morning I hit the workout I had originally planned for Wednesday. I met up with Aaron, Spada and Mike K at Old Bell and we jogged out to the 4 mile mark. As we hit Margaret Wallace on the way back, we turned the burners on. My goal was to get back to Old Bell at about 5:20 pace. Aaron took me through mile 1 in 5:18 then I was solo for the second always slower mile in 5:23 and hit the last one in 5:16. I carried on into Old Bell to get the full 5k distance in 16:35. It would be a stretch to say it was a tempo effort as I was pretty much balls out but I'm still pretty happy with how it went, especially as it was probably about 20 degrees (I wore my new shorts and arm sleeves and both rocked!)

Later on in the day I decided to head out again (without having showered from the morning run) and I actually felt decent again. My ipod kept cranking out great tracks and the weather was fantastic so I really enjoyed this! We'll see if I can get out tomorrow- the only chance will be if the kids sleep 'as normal' and I can get a few in at 5am- unlikely though!

My Richmond award came today and it was a pretty nice plaque which they had actually bothered to put my name on. It reminded me that i am three for three with age group wins in marathons.

I sent an email to coach today requesting assistance from Jan 3 onwards. I've earmarked an 8k at the end of January as my first race of 2011 with the ultimate goal being sub 32:30 at the Richmond 10k in April and a new 5k PR on the track some time in the Spring also.

The rest of the day was spent hanging out with the family doing festive stuff. I made an amazing looking pie for tomorrow and we all made Gingerbread Houses. There is so much food in the house it is ridiculous!

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dowd fun

Miles 9
Time 1:06:47

Tuesday's Miners Run and the Thursday Dowd run are my 2 favorite runs of the week and today's proved to be no exception. Good times with Aaron, Billy, Jason and Justin. Shortly after I headed to Dicks to spend my winnings from Saturday's race and came home with a sweet pair of Nike arm sleeves. Looking forward to rocking them tomorrow during the workout I am doing with Aaron and Spada. i'll certainly need them, it is expected to be 23 degrees at 8am.....

Other news on the 'gear front' is that I have picked up a pair of the new Wave Rider 14s and the first impressions are that they are an improvement on the 13 which I liked a lot in their own right

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Scoping out hills

Miles 6.1
Time 41:40

Enjoying a nice lie in on the first day of my 5 day break I ran over to the Hovis' neck of the woods to check out a couple of hills as potential workout venues and carried on up to Monroe down to Mcalpine and back. I put 4 or 5 strides into the last couple of miles, my upper legs just feel continually 'tired' at the moment. Stretch, massage, strengthen, stretch, massage, strengthen.....Looks like weather is going to be really crappy over the weekend, may even get a White Christmas!! Parents' flight back on Sunday could be interesting.

After the run, headed out to the mall and finished my Christmas shopping. All done, wrapped and under the tree, nice!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

3,000 up

Miles 13.5
Time 1:43:17

Halfway into today’s Miners Run I brought up my 3,000 miles for the year. I remember at the end of last year hoping I would be able to crack the 2,500 barrier in 2010 for the first time, so I have smashed that out of the park- an ode to virtually injury free running!

Mike and Ben have started meeting up at 5 now on Tuesdays. Naturally if I am awake at this time (which I usually am) I will head out of the door rather than wait for the 5:30 crew. So that immediately puts 4 miles on to my run. The other reason this morning’s run was long was the influence of the returning Megan who took us on the longest route possible in Mcalpine today. I was happy with this though- the extra mileage, run at a nice slower fat burning pace, will have helped address the ridiculous amount of food I ate at Applebee’s last night with my parents. It does put a spanner in the layout of the work I had planned for the rest of the week though. I was going to do workouts Wednesday and Saturday (yes, Christmas Day) but will now do them Friday and Sunday instead.

Today is my last day of work until next Monday. I am looking forward to spending some time with my parents and getting my last minute Xmas shopping done. I wish my reader a very Happy Christmas and New Year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Week in review

Solid week, 60 miles, a workout, a good race and a long run. Various little issues with my upper right leg have been showing themselves this week so I need to make sure I keep on top of all my stretching and massaging.

Going to take Monday off so next week the milage will drop again ready to hit it hard moving into 2011 the week after

Cold Sunday run

Miles 15.3
Time 1:47:18

I was pleased to get a good solid long run in this morning after yesterday's race. I ran my Sardis Lane/Alexander loop to get started and was running a little late for my anticipated meet up with Jordan and Meagan so pushed it harder than I normally would. J & M were not there when I got to Old Bell but AJ was so we ran over to the main lot together and bumped into Caitlin, Will, Leonard, Megan, and then Billy and Ben later. Good company and a good run, legs were very cold in shorts but it was nice to be able to head out a little later than normal with my parents in town.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mt Mourne Elf 5k

Miles 7.7
Time 50:07

I closed out 2010 with a successful race! It would probably register as a B+ in my grading system used below. I finished 2nd overall in 16:07 sandwiched between a sub 15 Furman Senior and the State Div 2A XC High School runner up. Despite being a relatively small race this one attracts some good guys- Anthony Famigletti ran 14:30 here in 2007!

The course was a fairly flat out and back and measured very slightly short on my Garmin. I ran splits of 5:07,5:14,5:24 as the headwind started to affect me in the third mile. My breathing was good throughout, just didn't have much turnover which wasn't surprising. My slight groin strain wasn't an issue and hasn't noticeably stiffened up since the race so i should be good to go.

Now I just need to think about goals for 2011 so I can start planning my race calendar! My immediate thoughts are that I would like to run a fast 5k/10k in the spring just to mix it up a little having spent the last training cycle training for the marathon. Until I 'firm things up' I'll just keep putting some consistent milage in with a couple of workouts and a long run per week.

Meanwhile my parents are in town. They enjoyed coming to the race yesterday. Mum was introduced to Biscuitville sausage biscuits (she initially thought I was handing her a burger for breakfast) and both appreciated the Southern welcome they got from my running buddies who were there- not often they get called Sir and Ma'am!). I have two days of work next week and then am off till after Christmas so looking forward to a nice relaxing week!

Review of the year

On the eve of my last race of 2010 and with apologies to friend and fellow Blogger BMac for copying his idea, I figured now would be as good a time as any to have a look back at the races I ran in 2010, a year I am considering as my best since I moved over here in 2005.

Cupid's Cup 5k: 15:58 1st Place Grade A

I couldn't have asked for a much better start to the year than this. A couple of months after Thunder Road I was only just getting back into hard training so a sub 16 effort (my only of 2010 as it turned out) was a pleasant surprise. Loved the course and was able to take advantage of the 2nd half of the race being entirely downhill. Disappointed I won't be able to defend my crown in 2011 as we will be in Disney that weekend.

Shamrock 4 miler: 22:38 13th place Grade C

Just after Cupid's Cup I faced my only injury setback of the year so far. A calf strain kept me off the roads for a couple of weeks. I had to scratch from the Corporate Cup Half I had entered and was worried I would miss the first race of the GP series. Returning to training a few days before this race I took advantage of my free entry to run this as a tempo workout and ensure I kept my hopes of the Bonus points for running every GP race alive. I had a fun race running alongside Caitlin and Meagan. Caitlin would go on to run a stellar 2:42 in her debut marathon and so qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials while Meagan starred at the NCAA DII track championships later in the Spring. Me? I was just happy to get through this race unscathed and ready to jump back into harder training.

Run For The Money 5k: 16:58 1st place Grade C

A month and some good workouts later, I was pretty disappointed with this solo effort on a very tough course. Fortunately I was still able to get the W and earn $1,000 for my friend's Not For Profit Organization. Very happy to oblige

Skyline 5k: 16:20 5th place Grade B-

Again I was expecting better from this race. On what is definitely one of the faster courses on the GP circuit and with a stellar crew including Jordan, John Compton, Dan Matena and Ben turning up, expectations were high that I could get a good time and certainly attack the 16:00 barrier. I was able to stay with the front group through the first mile but soon got detached and was fighting the rest of the way home. I should have been able to take much more advantage of the fast downhill finish

Twilight 5k: 16:43 4th place Grade C

This is always one of the toughest races of the year. It is run on a Friday night in the middle of May and so it is invariably 90 degrees and humid. This year was no exception. I couldn't latch on to a good pack once the race started and was pretty much struggling throughout. The seeming force nine wind which hit us as we headed towards the finish line was the final nail in the coffin. Easily the best part of this race was coach Budic completely surprising me by flying in to compete! Oh and I beat him as he was short of fitness!

Great Harvest Bread 5k: 16:36 3rd place Grade C+

Again I was dominated by Jordan and John Compton in this race. Again I wasn't offered much competition from behind. The result? Another solo struggle over a new and fairly challenging course.

King Tiger 5K: 16:35 3rd place Grade B-

As above but with Brett Howell replacing John! I purposefully took this one out hard to see what I could come through two fairly fast miles in with a fast 5k the following Friday on the horizon. I came through in 10:20 which I was pleased with and then lost time and momentum as I expected on the significant hill that hits you in the last mile

China Grove 5k: 16:20 5th place Grade D

Probably my most disappointing race of the year. It was all set up for a fast race. Fast, flat out and back course, really solid field, but I just didn't have it. I went through the mile in 5:05 and was tucked in with Chris Lamperski and Jay Holder through the second but when the action hotted up I had nothing and they crushed me. I decided after this race that it was time to chill for a few weeks and reduce the training workload. A Fall Marathon was being considered and I needed to recharge the batteries.

Race For Hope 5k: 16:31 2nd place Grade C

A race I decided to enter as it was being held in Mcalpine and I could jog to the start from my house. There was also $100 on offer for 1st place and I was hoping I would be able to snag that with not much more than a tempo effort. So I was bit miffed when I turned up to register and caught sight of John Compton and Ben Hovis. John took it, I got $50 (my only prize money of the year outside the $1,000 for charity I won and the money for my GP overall placing) and Ben took third

Streetlight 5k: 16:41 1st place Grade C-

The family were out of town so I wanted to get a race in. Headed up to Concord and led from the gun on what was a deceptively tough course- or it may have been the humidity. Last mile was a real grind and again I didn't feel too good about the race, in spite of the W.

Run For Your Life 4 miler: 21:31 2nd place Grade B

This was the race that I labelled "emerging from the funk" when I recapped it later. After a string of pretty disappointing races at last I had something to shout about after this one. Jay was back racing and we were stride for stride through 2 miles before I started turning the screw and managed to pull away and stay away. A good, strong performance, ironically in a time 19 seconds slower then my 4 mile split pacing Jordan at the weekend! This race also saw me beat Bert Rodriguez for the first and probably only time as he took a wrong turn during the final mile!

Panthers 5k: 16:13 7th place Grade B+
The studs always come out for this one as it starts and finishes at the Panthers stadium (although regrettably not on the field itself) and usually has some good prizes on offer. It's a tough course though and always steaming hot so I've had mixed results here over the years. In this race I again tracked Jay with every move but this time delayed the kick until the last 200 yards to grab 7th with my fastest ever time on this course

Greek Fest 5k: 16:03 4th place Grade B-

I didn't have Jay to run with for this one so was back running solo. I hit the first mile hard in around 5 minutes and hoped I would be able to maintain a good pace on what is easily the fastest course of the GP series. I was getting pretty strong from the marathon training that was now in full swing so I hung in there quite solidly to post a decent enough time, although I had been hoping for at least a sub 16 effort. The - is for the way the 3rd place guy came past me during mile 2 and I couldn't respond and go with him. If I had been able to I may have gotten into the 15:40s

Bill Sudek XC 6k Invite: 20:34 28th place Grade B

We headed up to Cleveland to visit the Budics for the Labor Day Weekend and it goes without saying that Tim found me a race to jump in! I ran my first XC race in years and had a blast on a rolling grassy course in true XC weather getting rolled on by a bunch of eager College guys but representing the 35-39 year age group pretty well!

Blue Ridge Relay 206 miles: 21:59:07 3rd place Grade B

Although this was a team race, no review of my running year would be complete without a quick recap of this race. Our mixed team of 12 headed up to Asheville and brought home the Mixed Open title and a crushing new course record. It was a truly memorable run filled, sleep deprived weekend full of great experiences and new friendships forged. My three legs went pretty well, especially my third which included a 5 mile run straight up a mountain which I crushed and set an unofficial course record. Plans have already been set in motion to send a strong Mens team up there next year to take down the overall course record.

Hit the Brixx 10k: 34:12 3rd place Grade B

Just a week after the Relay my legs were still very tired from my efforts there but I was able to put in a solid enough effort chasing down Jay the whole race and pipping him at the post again. This race pretty much sealed my 2nd place overall in the GP series with one race to go

Lungstrong 15K: 50:50 5th place Grade A-

I was really pleased with how this race played out. Training had been going great for Richmond and I was looking for a good performance to confirm that I was moving in the right direction on my path to the big race. I took the pace out aggressively, managing to run alongside John Compton though 6 or 7 miles and hanging on strongly once he went up the road. This concluded the 2010 GP series and confirmed my overall Runner Up status. Only Jordan in front of me after a consistent series.

Richmond Marathon: 2:35:10 7th place Grade A

So an A to start the year and an A to finish. After a really solid 3 month training block behind me I was ready to roll and attempt an average 5:55 pace marathon. I had Jay for company through 7 miles but pulled away at that point and ran the rest of the race solo. It was a great course and we had perfect weather as I was able to stay both physically and mentally strong to achieve my goals and take 3 minutes off my previous PR.

It brought a solid year of racing to and end (save the 5k I've jumped in on today) and certainly after a bit of a slump in performances during the hot and humidity of early summer I was able to get stronger as the year progressed. This was probably my best year since 2005 when I set all my shorter distance PRs. I may not be as fast now as I was then but I am certainly wiser and stronger and the goal going forward will be to build on this so I can attack my other PRs in 2011 and beyond.....

Friday, December 17, 2010

Better day at the office

Miles 8.1
Time 55:18

I woke up this morning to find that the ache in my IT band had dissipated only to be replaced by an achy groin- lingering effects I think from the workout in the cold on Wednesday but something that I've had before and know that it doesn't usually last too long. I was able to knock off 8 miles this am making up a little for the missed miles yesterday. Typically I would probably scratch tomorrow's race and ensure full recovery before trying to run 5:10 pace again but with my parents in town and nothing else on the horizon till March at least I'm going to give the 5k a shot. We'll see how it all plays out.....

In the mean time if you want to read how someone can run a sub 2:25 marathon take a peek at this

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bad day at the office

Miles 4
Time 32:10

The forecast bad weather was messy enough to keep me from heading to the Dowd this morning. Instead I headed cautiously down to Mcalpine where I figured if I slipped on the ice there the chances of getting hurt would be less than on the sidewalk! Unfortunately my upper right leg was still sore from the previous day’s workout. I didn’t stretch and warm it up sufficiently before I left my warm house and it was aching immediately. After 4 miles I stopped to massage it out but was done after that and just jogged home instead of adding on any more. It’s something I’ve been managing for a while since it flared up briefly during the marathon. A massage did it wonders and I had been keeping on top of it until this run so hopefully I just need to look after it like I did before and it won’t be an issue going forward. We’ll see tomorrow

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cold workout!

Miles 8
Time 54:07

It was 10 degrees this morning as Ben and I headed up to the multipurpose Lansdowne loop to do a workout of 8*2 minutes with 1 minute recoveries. Apparently it was the coldest ever December 15th in Charlotte history!! With that and the 5:30 start in mind I was fairly content with the workout that saw us cover just over three miles in the 16 minutes and 25 seconds of work. I would imagine I should be capable of a fairly similar time in the race on Saturday.

A 'wintry mix' is forecast for the morning which will make the roads treacherous and put my usual 9 mile Dowd run in jeopardy so I may have to find another way of getting the miles in

My parents arrive tomorrow too! Looks like the weather system will have passed by the time they land so hopefully that won't be an issue. Should be a fun 10 day visit...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If you're up you might as well run

Miles 11
Time 1:22:56

The Miners’ Run typically commences at 5:30am on a Tuesday. However Mike and Ben have started to meet up even earlier to get an extra few miles in and then swinging back to Old Bell at 5:30. This morning I was awake and ready at 5 so I headed out to meet them. Ben took us round some nice hilly roads that he has discovered since moving in to his new pad. Being that Ben lives less than a mile away from me it was nice for me to discover new potential routes. One particular loop looked very promising for a tough hill workout so I will check that out again later in the week. Ben and his wife Megan moving close to me is going to be great for my running as I will always have 2 willing running partners available. Another plus is that Ben always needs to be done by 6:30 (fine by me!) and when he is fit he is faster than me so I’ll have a good workout partner too (he is actually jumping into the workout I have planned for tomorrow morning).

The run itself was fun. The wind had dropped so the temps were in the teens with little wind chill which was better than expected. We caught up on the gossip from Saturday’s after race party and picked Aaron and Mike K up at 5:30 for the standard Miners’ Run in Mcalpine. It was good to get 11 miles in on a week day and gives me a head start for the rest of the week.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Neighborhood loops

Miles 6
Time 41:02

I wanted to run on the roads today rather than Mcalpine and after last night's freeze I was wary of ice on some of the sidewalks I would be venturing on on my usual road loop so decided to just run around our neighhborhood a few times. I was able to get into a good rhythm and clock the miles off nicely so my legs have recovered from Saturday already which is a good sign.

Miners run tomorrow. It's going to be absolutely freezing here the next couple of mornings apparently. My current attire to counteract this is hat, short sleeve covered by long sleeve and gilet, tights and gloves. Seems to do the trick, I hate having to wear too much.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week in review

I was able to hit the planned 60 miles this week on 7 runs and got a couple of workouts in. The workouts indicated that I'm still to get my pre Richmond legs back but there's no rush and I'll just keep patient and plugging away. Next Saturday I'm jumping into a 5k race and it would be nice to book end my successful year with a 5k victory after my victory at Cupid's Cup 5k back in February

Recovery day

Miles 6.6
Time 47:53

Suitably sore of head (beers) and legs (Jordan) I luckily was able to have a lie in of sorts this morning and didn't head out for my run until just before lunch time. It was a pretty slow and stiff run but good to get out there and sweat out some of my excesses and loosen up the legs a bit.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Charlotte's day of running

Miles 16.44
Time 1:41:49

The day started with a pretty lame attempt at pacing Jordan. I managed 10k with him but never really felt that comfortable and was a bit disappointed to have to let him go on his own at the 10k mat. I carried on running on the course just past the 11 mile mark where I stopped and cheered a few friends through and headed back to my car, got into some warm clothes and walk/jogged over to the finish area so I could hang out with friends and watch people finish. Jordan went on to run 2:24:46 an incredible solo effort, Billy ran an awesome 2:41, Danielle memorably achieved her sub 3 hour goal by 14 seconds and Kevin finished his first marathon with a comfortable BQ.

Suitably inspired I headed home and picked the kids up for the second instalment of Charlotte's big day. Had fun hanging out at Mcalpine watching the Womens and Mens Open races and then it was Emily and Sophie's turn to organize their own race when we got home!

The third part of the day involved beer and plenty of it as I was able to enjoy a rare night out in town with some of Charlotte's finest runners at the post race party.

A great day!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pacing gig

In Thursday’s post I mentioned that I was looking forward to a day of spectating on Saturday at the Marathon and then the XC races. Well I can confirm now that I will have a bit of a closer look at the action at Thunder Road than originally anticipated. I am going to try and help last year’s winner and 2010 Grand Prix Series Champion Jordan Kinley over the first few miles of the race. Jordan is back to defend his crown and is looking to lay down a time in the mid 2:20s. That is 5:30 pace!! My goal is to take the race out at that pace and see how far I can keep going! I ran my last 15k race at a pace slightly faster than that so on a ‘normal’ day I would expect to be able to maintain 5:30s for 9 or 10 miles quite ‘comfortably’ but with Richmond still in the legs I honestly don’t know how it’s going to turn out tomorrow. Certainly my Tuesday track workout was an indicator that I have a long way to go before getting back to the fitness levels I had pre Richmond but we’ll see. It will actually be in my best interests to run as far as I can so that I don’t get stranded miles out of the city with a long run back into town!

Originally I had hoped to help out my buddy Billy Shue in his quest to go sub 2:40 and was going to jump in the race at about half way and help pace him but we caught word that the race organizers were specifically on the lookout for this after complaints last year and would be disqualifying any competitors who took advantage of ‘outside help’. So I’m actually getting a race number tomorrow so that I’m an official entrant in the race. Maybe if 5:30s prove to hot to handle I can still help out Billy and throw in some 6 minute miles instead! Should be fun!

More Mcalpine solo

Miles 6.2
Time 42:17

Today I ran exactly the same route as I did Wednesday but as you will see it was noticeably faster. My legs feel recovered from the workout now and I rolled pretty good this morning. The change in temps definitely helps too. In the same way that during the summer a drop in 20 degrees from 90 feels like heaven, an increase from the teens to the 30s in the winter has the same effect. I found myself overdressed this morning, unzipping and rolling up sleeves and wishing I had worn shorts. Oh well, better that than going out underdressed! I didn’t do my strides this morning but made sure to put in some spurts in the last couple of miles to get some turnover in and then did some good stretching afterwards. My legs are going to need to be ready to roll tomorrow as you will see from my next post!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Slight warm up

Miles 9
Time 1:04:30

With T Road looming, it was a slightly smaller group than normal that showed up for this morning’s Dowd 6am run. But what was lacking in quantity we made up for in quality with myself, Jay, Jason, Caitlin, Mike K and Justin hitting the roads for the traditional 9 mile loop. The weather had crept back into the 20s and my legs felt a bit more recovered from Tuesday so this was an altogether more enjoyable run than yesterday. I was meant to do some strides to finish but put them off until tomorrow when my legs should be back to 100%.

Saturday is going to be a fun day of race watching with Thunder Road in the am and the XC nationals in the afternoon. Just got to plan my vantage points at T Road as I will likely be just running around from point to point and there are quite a few people I want to see and support. To keep Lisa appeased I will take the kids to the races in the afternoon. Hopefully the expected warm up in temps will take hold!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lone idiot

Miles 6.2
Time 46:30

My legs had that hollow post hard workout feeling as I headed out into the freezing temps for some recovery miles in Mcalpine this morning . It was just me, my headlamp and my ipod out there. Usually I come across at least one other idiot getting his miles in but today it was literally just myself. The run was very low key starting out at 8 minute pace and getting down towards 7s by the end. Knackered.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Back to Tuesday night track

Miles- 7.75
Time- 49:55

Tuesday always used to be my track workout night, dating back to my days in England when I would head to Battersea Park track after work every Tuesday or get the train to Guildford to train with the Guildford & Godalming AC boys at the Spectrum Center. Then for a good while after moving to Charlotte I would head to AG track on my way home from work on a Tuesday to get it done. The last couple of years however I have tended to do all my workouts in the am, what with having two tracks within easy distance of my house and other willing early risers 'happy' to join me at dark thirty.

So it was a nostalgic trip of sorts back to AG track last night to do my first workout there in ages. It was nice to see some familiar faces there as I was warming up- Jocelyn, Michelle, Boriana and Shenna. Warming up being a relative term of course as the temps were already below freezing. I really had no idea what I wanted to do I just figured it would be good to get 3 or 4 miles of work in at around 5:20 pace.

At about 400m into the workout I decided I would do the old staple 4*1600 with 400 jog. My legs seemed as stiff as planks as I was heading round the track in the cold and this coupled with my current unfamiliarity with running at this pace and the darkness which meant you could barely see the lanes for most of the circuits led to a very average workout where I felt fine aerobically but just couldn't seem to get the legs moving and body working efficiently. 5:18,21,25,21 the fairly pitiful stats but for now I'll take it and hope for better next time. I did enjoy working out on an evening again and going forward maybe today's Miners Run/AG workout double will become the new Tuesday staple.

Polar Bear Run

Miles 7.9 Time 58:39

The traditional Miners Run was renamed the Polar Bear Run today in honour of the 17 degree temps that greeted us this morning. A motley crue (one for Spada there) of Ben, the Mikes, Jay, Nathan (notably wearing shorts!) and Steve met up at dark thirty and I got a nice and easy shake out run in before I attempt a track workout later today. Suffice to say it was cold! I felt fairly decent though, helped no end by England polishing off the Aussie tail early last night and giving me ample time to catch up on some sleep lost from watching the other 4 days of the match.

I don’t even know what workout I’m going to do later I just want to get the legs turning over at sub 5:20 pace again. We’ll see what they’ve got.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Back in the groove, off the leaderboard

Apologies for the lack of updates lately. I'm determined to get this blog kick started again so may have to resort to posting my daily runs again just to keep me updating regularly. Bear with me...

30-ish miles the week after Richmond, 40-ish the following week, over 50 this week including my first workout (a 10 mile tempo in just over an hour to help out Billy on his last big workout before Thunder Road next week) and 60 planned this week. This hasn't been enough to keep me on the Athleticore CRC mileage leaderboard as I have slipped off it back into the peloton. Still on course for over 3,000 miles this year though, which will be a record oh by about 800 miles or so!

The legs seem to have come round nicely and feel ready to get back to some harder work. With a 5k on the horizon in less than two weeks it's probably about time to start adding some more 'quality' to the mix so with that in mind I'm going to be heading to the track on Tuesday after work to spin the wheels a bit. There has also been some talk of pacing duties at the Marathon on Saturday so we'll see what comes of that.....

It's going to be cold the next few mornings with temps in the low 20s. I actually like getting wrapped up and heading out into this stuff. When we're toiling through the yucky Summer weather we dream of these mornings so there's no way I'm going to start moaning now....

In other news we're getting all geared up for Christmas here. Straight after Thanksgiving we got the tree up and all the other paraphenalia Lisa likes to get out. The kids (obviously) love this time of year and it's fun seeing how excited they get about stuff. With a ten day visit from Grandma and Grandad Mainwaring on the horizon it should be fun times in the Mainwaring household the next few weeks.

So, more regular postings coming I hope, as the post Richmond build continues in earnest.

Lastly, two major shout outs today. One to fellow CRC member and blogger Allen Strickland who ran 3:19 in Dallas today and will have to think of a new title for his blog. Secondly to one of my best UK friends, now Calgary resident, Duncan Marsden, one of the main instigators who got me into this sport in the first place, who ran 2:32 in Sacramento today with a handy negative split.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


A week has passed since the race and I've been enjoying the down time! It's a strange feeling at first, after months of preparing for the race you're suddenly done and it takes a while to adjust to the fact that you don't need to get up at 5am to run or worry about that second helping of dessert any more but I'm getting used to it now! I've essentially run three times this week and had plenty of desserts (in fact I'm three pounds heavier than I was when I toed the line already!) Already though the legs are starting to feel somewhat recovered and thoughts of next goals are being entertained.

More of that later but for now just a brief return to the post race last week. As soon as you finish at Richmond you are ushered into a refreshment area where they have fresh bagels, fruit and pizza at your disposal (not that your stomach is ready for any of that stuff yet really!) so after a few photos with Aaron and Jay and my girls who had now found me we headed through here and just hung around for a while discussing the race and comparing war stories. The three of us remarked that we all felt better than we had done immediately post race at the other marathons we had done, although Aaron was starting to shake like a leaf with cold so we decided to go our separate ways and get warm, stretch the legs a little.

Lisa had parked a couple of blocks away so I hobbled back to the car with them and we went back to Lisa's parents. Lisa was going to drive me back into Richmond later as I still had the hotel room booked for another night. Back at the house the first thing I did was log on and I enjoyed and appreciated the congratulations that all the 'trackers' had sent since the race. I took an ice bath, we ate a HUGE early Thanksgiving meal and I sank a few Coronas that Lisa's Dad had in the fridge. Lisa drove me back into Richmond and I met Jay and Aaron for a few pints at, fittingly, a British pub. We did pretty well I thought and made it past 10pm before having to crash.

Next morning we again woke to beautiful crisp temps and shaking off the cobwebs from our over indulgence we headed out for a shuffle/walk. Barely able to move our legs we made a not too pretty sight! We bought the Richmond Times which had a special feature on the marathon (including the picture of us at the start shown at the start of my race report and also a caption with the top ten male finishers listed (moi at number 7)). Jay had had issues with his chip and his finish was yet to be officially recognized and he was absent from the finishers in the paper which was a pisser. Although the timing has since been resolved and Jay's 11th place overall and 3rd place in AG now recognized this will always leave a sour taste for Jay which is a shame because other than that we thought the race was great and brilliantly organized.

When we got back to the hotel it was straight to the breakfast buffet and we consumed half our bodyweight in fried breakfast, fruit and cereal- it was awesome! Jay and Aaron headed back to Charlotte and I waited for Lisa and the girls to pick me up and make our own journey back. Our Richmond trip was over and what an experience it had been!

Tuesday I managed to jog for 6 miles with the Miners in Mcalpine, Thursday I ran 9 with the Dowd crew and yesterday I did 6 on my own. My legs feel a whole lot better than they did after Thunder Road last year, heavy and fatigued but seemingly none the worse for wear other than that. In fact my only concern is the top of my left foot which is still very sore from having my laces too tight during the race.

So on to next goals and how I see the next few months playing out. For the rest of this year I'll continue the recovery process for the next few weeks. Having run 4 times this week (after the run I'm doing in a little while) I'll run five days next week, six the next, etc. I'll hop into a couple of workouts with buddy Billy Shue who is heading for his own sub 2:40 effort at Thunder Road in three weeks and plan to pace a section of that race for him. I'll miss the Turkey Trot next week which is a staple in my race calendar but I don't see the point of racing again at this time! I do have one race earmarked however. My parents fly in the week before Christmas to spend the Holiday with us and they never see me race so I've found a 5k to hop into which will be cool.

After the New Year the training will start to ramp up again. I plan to head back to Richmond in April for the big 10k they host there. Having now seen the terrain over which this race is run I can vouch that it should be a smoking fast race! Fall marathon plan at the moment is to go for Chicago. Also hoping to head back up to the Blue Ridge relay in September, this time with an all guys team for an assault on the course record there. And of course as always there will be the Grand Prix series to keep me busy.

The key for me the next few months will be to keep my injury free streak going and maintain the consistency in my training that I've enjoyed for pretty much the last 14 months. I've never had such a solid block of running in my brief running career and hopefully the 15k and marathon races I have just completed are signs that I can attack all my other PRs over the next year.

Happy running everyone!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Richmond recap

(that's me in the middle in my white Charlotte Running Club singlet, just to the left of a smiling Aaron Linz. Just to my left Jay Holder checks his pace after 10 yards of the race...)

When I originally set out on the path towards Richmond my goal had been to shoot for my first marathon at an average sub 6 minute pace. However, after a really solid training block, some encouraging workouts and a huge 15k PR a few weeks back I was confident I could target a 2:35 showing (5:55 pace). Needless to say then I was really happy with how Saturday's race turned out. I ended up with a time of 2:35:10, enough for a 3 minute plus PR, 7th place overall out of 5,000 runners and first in my age group.

Before I launch into a recap of the race itself, I'll take the story back to the day before the race.

Thursday we had driven up to Lisa's parents house in Lanexa, VA, about 45 minutes drive from Richmond itself. Friday morning I got up and Lisa drove me to this really nice neighborhood where I was able to get my last pre race shakeout run of 4 miles including strides in. After lunch we all headed into Richmond. I picked up my race packet, saw Bart Yasso and checked in at my hotel where I was staying with Aaron and Jay. The hotel was ideally situated about a mile fom the start line. Aaron and Jay jumped in the car with us and Lisa drove us around the course as none of us had run it before. This was a great idea and proved an invaluable help. We were able to scope out the layout of the course and get a feel for what we would be facing the next day.

It looked like a good course- fast and flat for the first 9.5 and last 5 miles, with a solid 'grind' in the middle. Certainly if you could get to mile 21 in good condition the potential for a fast time was high!

We dropped Jay and Aaron back off at the hotel and headed out to dinner with one of Lisa's friends who lived in Richmond and her family. I filled up on my usual pre marathon meal of spaghetti with meat sauce and polished off my youngest's left over cheeseburger for some additional protein! Lisa took me back to the hotel room and I discovered that Aaron and Jay hadn't been as successful in their search for a good pre race meal- they were both making PB and Js as I walked into the room! Lisa and the kids left and I wouldn't see them until out on the course the next day.

Lights off at 9:30 and we were soon fast asleep. I actually slept a lot better than I thought I would! At about 5am I got up and made my breakfast of a bowl of Cheerios and raisins in skimmed milk, a cup of tea and granola bar and nervously got my race gear on. The three of us were nervously pacing the room, making idle small talk as we got ready for the task ahead. Bags were packed and repacked, laces tied and retied. With just over an hour till race time we walked down to the start area. The weather looked like it was going to be perfect! It was in the high 30s with little wind and not a cloud in the sky. The temperature was expected to rise to 60 degrees by the finish. The weather was certainly not going to be an adverse factor!

We warmed up in an office lobby just outside the start line and as soon as the Half marathon had cleared, we walked out on to the start line. I was amazed how we were able to just march right up to the start of the field! We did some jogging and light strides, stood for the Anthem and got ready to roll. I was able to start the race in my singlet and gloves that would be shed later on. The race started off right on time and Jay and I immediately locked in on an easy rhythm. The goal was to make sure we went out nice and easy and no faster than 6 minute pace! This is how the race played out, mile splits as per my Garmin....

Miles 1-4


This section was literally entirely flat! 2 miles up the main street, across one block and 2 miles up the next road. This was Monument Avenue and the tree lined street was beautiful. Lisa and the kids were at the roadside here cheering furiously and had made a poster for me. I veered off to the side of the road to give high fives and exchange "I love yous"! They cheered on Jay and Aaron (who had settled nicely in behind Jay and I on his goal 6:10 pace) and then headed off to breakfast before heading down to the finish line to see me later.

Miles 5-7


5 and 6 we had some rolling terrain at last which was actually appreciated after the completely flat first section. We passed over the 10k mat in 37 low which was right on schedule. Mile 7 was a significant downhill. It was at this point that I started to pull away from Jay. I was going to be running solo for the next 19 miles. This was unexpected but I was just going to have to keep running to plan and deal with it. I took on my first gu at this point and was trying to drink water at each stop (an art I still am a long way from mastering!)The lead group were out of sight.

At the bottom of the hill was the first 'party zone' on the course. There were hundreds of people camped out here, live bands and lots of noise. This was great! I acknowledged the crowds as I passed and continued on

Miles 8-10


This was the most beautiful section of the course. We crossed a (flat) bridge and ran down by the river. The mist was rising off the river, it was idyllic. The crowd support here was scarce for the first time so I just rolled along enjoying the scenery and listening to the pitter patter of my Fastwitch on the tarmac. Mile 10 included the first significant uphill of the race as we headed up and away from the river side. As I still hit this mile in 5:55 this was the first sign that perhaps I was being a bit too agressive early on.

Miles 11-12


I tried to dial back a little during these miles, took on my second gu and went through the half in 1:17:24, right on target for a 2:35 effort!

Miles 13-15


This section was rolling but fast along the main road heading back towards the city. I was feeling good at this point, running relaxed and hoping the faster than planned pace wouldn't bite me later. It was at this point that I had my first couple of little mishaps of the race. I dropped a gu that I was transferring from one pocket to another and was unable to get some water at one stop as the girl passing it to me dropped the cup. I had to make sure that these seemingly trivial matters didn't affect me.

Miles 16-21


At this point we hit the bridge back into the city. It was here last year that many a runner's race was ruined by the stormy winds that were swirling around at this section. I had caught a break with the weather and the wind was nothing more than a breeze as we headed back over. Still this was the section when the race started to feel a lot tougher than the fairly easy run it had felt to this point. I was starting to notice little things and it was getting a bit harder to stay on pace. My right hip flexor was a bit sore, my left calf felt a little tight and most significantly I had clearly tied my laces too tightly on my left shoe. The top of my instep was becoming sore and I was trying to move my foot around inside my shoe trying to loosen it- to no avail. However, at that point I didn't feel the need to come to a stop and adjust it. I just got on with it, telling myself I had less than an hour to go.

As we crossed the bridge I passed one guy who had faded from the original leaders and was gaining on another guy. We were back in the city now, the road was flat and the crowd support tangible again. I was able to put all my negative thoughts to the back of my mind and get on with the task at hand. I took on my third gu and headed over the last significant hill of the race at mile 21 ready to try and pick it up during the last section of the race. I saw a friend from Charlotte and got a little boost from this. 5 miles to go.

Miles 21-finish

1:53 (0.34 miles on my garmin)

This was the point in the race my coach had hoped I would be able to really attack the race and bring it home in a bit of style. However, those earlier faster than planned miles were probably having a bit of an impact and it ended up with me trying to maintain rather than pick up the pace over these last few miles.

To make up for the gu i had dropped earlier I gambled a little and took on an Accel Gel that was offered at mile 22. The last few miles were played out on wide flat avenues. I had now caught up with the back markers of the Half so just tried to zone out, keep in a rhythm and count down the miles to the end. My left foot was now sore. during mile 24 I decided to come to a complete stop and adjust my laces quickly. It was a smart choice and I was able to get back on pace immediately.

After the 25 mile mark I could smell the finish line and luckily some fellow CRC runners who had done the Half were positioned along the road here. Their cheers boosted me as I headed to the final corner. A left turn and I could see the finish line at the bottom of the hill. My legs were trashed now so I let the steep grade of the hill take me down to the bottom. My name was called over the tannoy and I raised my arms out wide as I approached the finish line, celebrating the fact that I hadn't put all my summer's training to waste and had put down a very solid time despite running most of the race solo. For the most part I had executed the plan and met my goals. Chuffed to bits.

I gathered myself having crossed the finish line, chatted to the guy who had finished ahead of me and waited for Aaron and Jay to finish. Jay finished in 2:40 and change, a new PR and a great run in spite of some stomach issues. Aaron followed shortly after in a great PR for himself; the three of us who had trained so hard together for the past few months had all executed when it mattered most. Alejandro followed in 2:47 capping a great day for Charlotte runners- 4 in the top 20 overall! Another friend Tom Ricks ran a 3:04 PR to make a nap hand of great performances!

I can't finish this recap without giving a shout out to coach Budic without whose guidance and training plans I wouldn't have been able to achieve my goals. He is always spot on and intuitive with his advice and his guidance was a huge part of my success in this race.

Also to the Charlotte Running Club. Too many people to mention individually but whether it be for support during workouts or company on long runs or recovery days, I can always count on being to able to find some awesome people to run with.

Finally for my family who have to put up with me while I'm doing all my training!

So I'm done for a while! In fact I am unlikely to race again this year. In the mean time I'm going to make sure I recover well from this and get ready to set some new PRs in 2011. After all, my last two races have been faster than I've ever run at those distances previously......

Thanks for reading


Recap to follow!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Let's do this

I head to Richmond tomorrow and it can’t come soon enough. I’m feeling ready and rested and just want to get this done! Since my last update things have gone smoothly. For my two ‘stressor’ workouts I ran a 14 miler on Friday with miles 10 and 12 at sub 6 pace and a solid 4 mile tempo effort during my last workout on Tuesday. Other than that it has just been a case of running nice and easy each day, stretching, hydrating and eating well and getting some extra shut eye each night. The weather looks pretty good at the moment and Coach and I have talked strategy based on the set up of the course. I am as well prepared as I think I could be and now just need to execute- with the marathon you just never know!

So we drive up tomorrow. Lisa’s parents live about an hour away from Richmond so we are staying with them. Friday we will head into Richmond in the afternoon go to the expo and pick up race number, etc. Then hopefully Aaron and Jay will be joining us for a course preview in the car and we are meeting some of Lisa’s friends at a downtown restaurant in the evening. Lisa and the kids will then head back to her parents and I’m staying at a hotel with Aaron and Jay less than a mile from the start line. We also have the room booked for Saturday night and a bunch of other Charlotteans are heading up for the Half and Full and staying so hopefully come Saturday night we will all be slamming the beers and celebrating our successes!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Taper update

It's actually going okay so far. I've been taking it easy and enjoying it rather than going a bit crazy which I thought I might. I think that has a lot to do with being confident in your fitness at this stage and also in the schedule you are following. All you can do in this last couple of weeks is blow your race by either taking it too easy or doing too much, so hopefully I'm finding the happy medium.

Sunday I woke up with no residue in the legs after Saturday's long run. I hit the roads at my usual pre dawn/kids' waking up time and ran 8 miles at a good clip. The rest of the day was spent doing family stuff and then off to neighborhood Halloween festivities. The kids had a blast trick or treating and I enjoyed my last bit of bad eating and drinking I'm going to allow myself until the 13th!

Monday was a rest day and then Tuesday I ran nice and easy with the miners for another 8 miles. Today Jay and I hit up Lansdowne at 5:30am for our last 'hard' workout before the race. We clipped along for 10 miles at about 5:50 pace, chatting about this and that most of the way. Another little confidence booster.

Rest of week will be easy miles. Friday or Saturday I'll be doing 14 with a couple of miles at MP just to remind the legs and body of the work it's going to need to do a week later. I'll also throw in some drills and strides at some point to keep the legs ticking over nicely

Sunday all eyes will be on NYC to see how Meb, Ritz, Geb, Spada and Kahn fare!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Taper Time

(with Jay and Aaron, my partners in crime at Richmond, shortly after our 19 mile run and an amazing breakfast at Le Peep!)

The completion of this morning's long run (19 miles with the last 3 at MP) signalled the start of my taper for Richmond with 2 weeks left till the big day. I find the taper a weird phase. On the one hand it's something to look forward to, a celebration of the bulk of your hard training coming to an end, recognition that you've done your work and now it's time to relax and prepare for the race. On the other within days you typically start feeling sluggish and guilty for not running so much! For that reason a couple of workouts will be thrown into the mix just to keep the fitness levels up and remind the legs and lungs of the faster paces. For me, a 60 minute tempo on Wednesday and a 14 mile run later in the week with a couple of miles at MP. Then in the days leading up to the race I will do a workout on the Tuesday with some race pace and faster miles in the middle.

Significant runs since the 12 mile tempo were 21 on the Sunday on the roads with the last 5 in the low 6s, a cut down 5 mile tempo on the track (28:20) which was harder work than it should have been due to the freak humidity we had for a couple of days and then yesterday's 19 with the last three in 5:50,5:44,5:51.

16 weeks ago I started out on my training plan for Richmond. Since then I have run 66,60,82,56,70,70,56,73,80,67,85,61,82,84,70 and 83 miles, hit every planned long run and workout and set a new 15k PR. Now it's time to consolidate all that hard work and make sure I do things right for the next couple of weeks and be ready to roll at Richmond.

Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

12 mile AT tempo

This morning I headed out dark and early for probably the hardest and most important workout of the run in to Richmond. On tap was a 12 mile AT tempo. I was having to do it alone and wanted it to go well to keep the confidence high so the adrenaline was pumping a little as I got going this morning. I made myself get up at 3:30 to grab some breakfast so that I could practice for race day. I also took a couple of gus to practice getting them down at race pace.

I had set up a 2.75 mile loop which was generally flat and fast but had a grinding low grade ascent near the end of each loop, trying to simulate the terrain at Richmond. It was dark and I couldn't see much but there wasn't much traffic so I pretty much had the roads to myself.

I was conscious in the first mile of not looking at my watch as I wanted to get into a groove early on at a pace close to what I would hope to run at Richmond and I wanted that pace to feel familiar and easy. So I was happy to hit the first mile in 5:55. However, at this point I wasn't feeling all that great, I seemed to be needing to work quite hard, and when I went through mile 2 in 6:10 (uphill) I was a little concerned. However as I gradually woke up and the legs warmed up I got into a good rhythm and soon was knocking the miles off between 5:45 and 5:50. I eventually finished the 12 miles in 1:09:39 with a significant negative split and felt pretty fresh at the end.

After a day of sitting at work, the legs were definitely tightening though. It was nice to go and get a massage after work and get some of the kinks out. As I sit here Friday night I can definitely feel the effects of the workout. Tomorrow is a nice and easy day and looking forward to a good group for our 20 miler on Sunday.

Hooray for weekends- I am determined to do a bunch of stuff with the kids this weekend. My focus has been pretty intense on training the last few weeks and it is important to keep everything in perspective and not let that dominate your life.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lung Strong 15k

In my last post I mentioned that I was going to reveal my goals for this race later in the week. Well, blog update paralysis took hold and I haven't got round to updating this thing until now. I can say that I did meet my undisclosed goals yesterday in the end. I ran a solid race to come 5th in 50:55 by my watch, 50:50 by my chip while covering a distance of 9.49 miles (as opposed to 9.33)- why are all the races I run so much longer than advertised!

This was a 29(or 34) second PB for this course and looking back I've been pretty fit when I've run this race before so this did confirm that I am getting in ever more decent shape as I approach Richmond. My coach was happy with the result mainly because it underlined his confidence in my current fitness. I'm not a very self confident person and this is no better exemplified than with my running. I often feel that I should be capable of running faster based on my workouts and consistency of mileage over the past twelve months but I tend to set myself pretty unambitious goals. So Saturday we came up with a plan that I would attack this race a bit, however the start developed. In other words I was going to dictate how the race went rather than being reactive. If I fell off my goal pace so be it, at least I would have given it a shot and at the end of the day the goal race is Richmond not the 15k.

As it happened I was able to maintain my goal pace throughout. Helped over the first 6.5 miles by the company of John Compton- an example of someone who typically I would not have gone out with as I would have been afraid the poace would have been too fast- I held it together once John decided enough was enough and went up the road.

So that's my last race before Richmond. Also last week Jay, Spada and I hit up PDS track to do 10*800 with 200m jog recovery. We nailed this workout bringing the times down from 2:37 to 2:30 by the end. My other 'stressor' for this week was the 18.5 I ran this am. My legs were complaining as I headed out into the dark and colder temps but helped by the company of Megan H, Chris B and Anne F I was able to finish this at about a 7:20 pace. Another week down, 83 miles this week. I get a rest day tomorrow before a 70 mile week including some turnover on Wednesday (16 400s) a long tempo on Friday (12 miles) and 20 on Sunday.

(Lisa and the girls were invited up to Blowing Rock on Saturday morning leaving me home alone this weekend. So I was able to hang around a lot longer after the race yesterday and then go to Brunch with a bunch of CRC members without having to rush back to the house. Once I got home I was feeling pretty zappped so was able to turn the football on and snooze all afternoon on the couch- bliss! Don't get to do that ever so I took full advantage!)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

5 weeks out

It's a Sunday, 34 days till Richmond, I've done my planned mileage and workouts for the week and am taking a much appreciated day off from running. Yesterday I completed what will be the longest run of this cycle- 24 miles- at a shade under 7 minute mile pace. I ran a 10 mile Tempo run on Tuesday in 57:29. The previous week I ran 8 1000m repeats with a 200m jog recovery at an average of 3:14. I'm working all my systems hard and getting my required miles in in between. Things are progressing nicely and I just need to hold it together for the next three weeks before the countdown to Richmond begins.

It seems like you have to be running well and consistently in Charlotte at the moment or you'll be left behind! Everyone seems to be hitting their workouts hard and racing well! Best example of this coming from Twin Cities last weekend where fellow bloggers and regular training partners Caitlin and Bill both ran races to remember, one an amazing marathon debut clinching an Olympic Trials berth by a mere 4 minutes (!), the other yet another solid performance from a highly experienced marathoner who had faced adversity in his training this time around but pulled it out on game day. Inspirational, motivational.

On the docket for next week is another 80 mile week with a 10*800 workout with Jay on Wednesday and the final race of this year's Grand Prix next Saturday, a 15k classic race on the Charlotte running scene. This will be my final race before Richmond and with 2nd place in the Grand Prix sewn up I have some specific goals I would like to meet for this race. More of that later in the week. In the mean time, have a good week everyone and keep rolling!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ten days on from Blue Ridge

Things have continued to roll on pretty smoothly since the relay. I was sore and tired the Sunday after getting back but managed to get an easy 5 in and by Wednesday of the following week most of the residual soreness had disappeared- it seems I made the right choice in asking for the Mountain Goat stage as my last leg at the race in terms of recovery. In fact last week I ended up running 85 miles from Monday to Sunday, which was actually a new record for me! All those miles were at an easy pace except for racing the penultimate Grand Prix race of the year on Saturday (Hit the Brixx 10k).

That race went pretty well. My racing buddy Jay Holder was back and I managed to pip him at the finish to come third in 34:12 behind Brett Howell and 2010 GP champion Jordan Kinley who won his 8th successive GP race! We all measured the course slightly long so it was probably a sub 34 showing on what is a pretty tough course and just a week after Blue Ridge. I then ran my longest run of the cycle so far on Sunday (22 miles in 2:37) which was bit of a struggle at the end to be honest but not unexpected.

This week is a cutback week before three more weeks of getting after it and two weeks of chilling out heading into Richmond on November 13th. Most of us are doing different workout schedules now it seems so my next 4 workouts over the next couple of weeks (starting with 8 mile AT tempo tomorrow) are going to be solo….

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

CRC unofficial Blue Ridge Relay awards

The ‘Shaving Time’ award- Brian McMahon.

Who needs fake mustaches when you’ve got the Screeching Weasel? Our own mustache wielding hero led off our assault at 1pm on Friday eventually covering his total 15.4miles at an average 6:13 pace!

The ‘Beast’ award- John Compton.

Sick as a dog all week leading up to the race, JC manned up and destroyed all of his legs. John took on more miles than everyone else (22) and ran them at a 5:54 average!! Amazing

The ‘Shiny Happy People’ award- Michelle Hazelton

This girl never stops smiling and laughing- even when she’s about to embark on a beast of a 9 mile leg! Great for van morale! Michelle ran 16.5 miles at an average 6:46 clip!

The ‘Non-designated Driver’ award- Billy Shue

It was a good job Billy didn’t drive the van along the course at any point or there quite literally may have been some road kill. The last male member to join the team, Billy put up a heroic performance notching an average 6:14 pace for his 17.6 miles

The ‘Last Minute Heroine’ award- Anne Falcone

There was a week to go and we were desperate. A late withdrawal meant we needed a lady for the team otherwise we were going to have to scratch a guy too and run with 10. Luckily Anne stepped into the breach and Captain Hovis rewarded her with the most unscenic leg of the race run at the hottest part of the day through ‘down town’ Jefferson! 17.6 miles later at an average 6:40 pace we were proud to have had her on our team!

The ‘I run with Maggots’ award- Jocelyn Sikora

Blue Ridge veteran Jocelyn (one of only two members of our team who had done this thing before) always seemed to have one of Norm’s Maggots with her when she passed the wristband on to me! What a competitor! Jocelyn ran a total of 15.5 miles at an average 6:54 pace, scarcely credible when you see the terrain she had to cover on her first two legs!

The ‘Lance Armstrong’ award- Paul Mainwaring

Handed the wristband for the infamous ‘Mountain Goat’ leg 31 of the relay alongside (of course) Norm’s Maggot and new Facebook friend Frankie, Paul proceeded patiently up the Alpe D’Huez-esque stage and grabbed an important lead over the Maggots heading into the last few legs of the race. After five miles of relentless climbing he was greeted at the top by the screams and cheers of his teammates- later revealing that it was one of the most emotional moments of his running career. His 43:41 time for the 6.5 mile haul was an unofficial course record and in total Paul ran 16.2 miles at an average pace of 6:09

The ‘Take one for the Team’ award- Ben Hovis

Captain Fantastic Hovis took one for the team when he swopped legs last minute with ‘Lance’ who had moaned something about not wanting to hurt his legs by doing the infamous 9.3 mile all downhill leg 32. An hour before this leg, Ben was sick as a dog, throwing up three times and feeling like crap. Somehow though he covered this stage at an average pace of 5:31 and in total ran 21.5 miles at an average pace of 5:40- can you believe that?!

The ‘Mountain Goat’ award- Boriana Bakaltcheva

When we drove over leg 33 we could scarcely believe you could possibly run up and down it. The grade and distance was incredible! Our Mountain Goat Boriana took it on with aplomb, keeping us in sight of the Maggots with 3 legs to go. Boriana ran a total of 12.8 miles at a 7:23 pace!!

The ‘Sweaty’ award- Danielle Crockford

I have never seen someone sweat as much as this girl (sorry ‘perspire’- guys and horses sweat, ladies perspire). What a team player! Given the unenviable task of having to hold off or chase the Maggot’s only female representative, stud Amber Moran, Danielle put forth an amazing effort, covering the most miles of all the ladies (18.2) at a 6:47 average. Ridiculous!

The ‘Perpetual Runner’ award- Alice Rogers

If she wasn’t applying make up in the van or keeping it nice and odour free with various sprays and ointments, you could guarantee that Alice would be out there running somewhere. Not content with having to run 16.1 miles total (at an amazing average pace of 6:34!!), Alice never stopped running- be it to warm up, warm down, help others warm up, cheer in the next runner, you name it Alice was out there! Rumor has it she covered 208 miles by herself…

The ‘Solid as a Rock’ award- Mike Beigay

Our unofficial Vice Captain and only other Blue Ridge veteran, Mike was the rock of the team, organizing and driving the vans and sorting out every other possible logistic. Oh and then he was our star Anchor man, consistently putting time into our Maggots rival and nearly doing enough to bring us home in front of them. Mike ran a total of 17.8 miles at a 5:49 average!!

Blue Ridge Relay Recap

L-R: Mike Beigay, Brian McMahon, Alice Rogers, Anne Falcone, Danielle Crockford, John Compton, Jocelyn Sikora, Billy Shue, Boriana Bakaltcheva, Michelle Hazelton, Paul Mainwaring, Ben Hovis

I had been looking forward to this event for months. Way back in February, captain Hovis had begun to assemble his team. The goal was to take the best available male and female runners in the Charlotte Running Club up to the relay to have a great time, smash the mixed course record and even take on the team that had won the relay every year since its inception, Norm's Maggots. I signed up immediately. Months later and obviously we had had withdrawals and changes to the team (even with a week to go it was unclear whether we would be able to field a full squad or not) but at 8am on Friday 17th September 6 guys and 6 girls set off from the Dowd Y in their 2 van convoy, ready to roll.

Our start time was 1pm. It was weird to think that as we were heading up I-77, the race had already started. As the start times were seeded, some teams had already begun their 208 mile journey. We would be seeing them later.

We got up to the start about an hour before kick off. On the journey we had already taken in the beautiful scenery and experienced the type of terrain we would be running over. Four other seeded teams were to start off with us. Everyone just basically hung out and took photos and chatted. Vans were decorated and bags packed and repacked, we were itching to start!

At 1pm we were off. B Mac (in white shirt above) was our lead off man. His task? To run straight downhill for 4 miles and pass on to John Compton. May sound easy but you haven't seen these descents- absolute quad busters!! 21 minutes later and John was off. Brian hadn't felt great during his run but we were off and running. The adventure had begun! Only 204 miles to go!

We had two vans. Our first 6 runners were in the first van and the other 6 in the 2nd van. Once our guys had exchanged we would all get back in the vans and drive to the next exchange zone to drop the next runner off and watch the previous runner come in. As we passed our runner on the road we would whoop and holler out of the windows to encourage them. This was a moment in your run you always looked forward to! As we passed John on this leg, it was clear the guy was crushing it! He had already passed two people and our 'star man' was ignoring the heavy cold he was suffering and getting it done for the team!

John passed on to Michelle and our first lady was off. You can see from the next photo how strongly Michelle ran!

Billy was up next, then Anne, then Jocelyn. Everyone was running awesomely! At this stage of the race we weren't really concerned about where we were in the race. The four teams who had started with us were all spread out. All we knew was that according to our spreadsheet everyone was very close to their expected times and everyone was running great. The people in the vans who hadn't run yet were chomping at the bit to get their legs underway. Some of the terrain we were driving over was ridiculous! Ups and downs of the sort none of us would ever normally attempt to run!

Jocelyn was the last person in the first van. It was on to the second van now and your's truly was up.

My first leg of 5.4 miles was described as 'moderate' in the course brochure. The first two miles were straight down hill, followed by a steep uphill and some respite before a 'monster' climb in the final mile. Now I had seen plenty of hills already in this race, but none of them had been described as 'monster'! I was worried, very worried! And lo and behold there it lurked in front of me, a mile, straight uphill, could barely see the top! I was running pretty well up to this point and was pleased with how the legs were feeling. By the time I had gotten three quarters of the way up this hill though I was suffering, badly. I felt like I was running 9 minute mile pace. By the time I got to the top I was mad. The last quarter mile was downhill and I just let all my frustration out and passed on to Ben. First leg in the books 5.4 miles at 5:53 pace (Garmin read 5.65 miles at 5:39 pace).

At this point the first van went ahead to the 12/13 changeover point in Boone where they could get some food and Brian could get ready for his second leg. The second van carried on its journey. Ben notched the van’s first ‘roadkill’ of the race as we started to catch earlier starters and Danielle ran an amazing leg keeping in touch with Norm’s Maggots star female runner Amber Moran. Norm’s Maggots was the team that had won this race every year to date. Only the previous year had they even been challenged when both the first and second placed teams broke 22 hours for the race for the first time. Now Charlotte Running Club’s MIXED team was giving them a scare. Up ahead of the Maggots was an Ultra team from Knoxville. To our astonishment this team of 6 were relentlessly churning out fast leg after fast leg. They’ll fall apart at some point surely we all thought. We were wrong!

It was now moving towards dusk. We were starting to catch up with vans that had started hours before us and for the first time we had noticed we were in a bit of a race with Norm’s Maggots. Ben had mentioned that he thought they were catchable this year but I really hadn’t paid any attention to that. I just assumed that we would win the Mixed division and break the course record but hadn’t considered that we were good enough to catch the holders’ 11 guys and 1 girl team who had never previously been beaten by anyone! Alice flew on her stage covering 10 very hilly ks in 38:39 and we drove into Boone ourselves to meet up with the other van and see Brian get our second rotation underway. When we got to the Tangier Outlet Mall it finally hit us that we were part of a big event. We pulled into the parking lot and there were white vans everywhere!! We were now a third of the way into the race, it was 8pm, dark and we were starting to put our game faces on.

Van 2 decided that it was time to get some food sorted and drive ahead to the 18/19 changeover point where we could possibly catch some shut eye before the long night ahead. Word came over the cell phones that Brian had overtaken a Maggot and passed on to John with us now in second place overall! Could our sick star runner consolidate our position on the longest stage of the race, 10 miles up Grandfather Mountain? You bet he could! 1:02:15 for 10 of the hilliest miles you could imagine! Then it was Michelle’s second leg. Loving the 2.4 mile downhill stretch, she covered this leg at an average 5:42 pace!! Billy took over and consolidated our position. Meanwhile we had driven ahead and the opportunity to sleep was forgotten immediately as we found ourselves in a throng of white vans. I was getting prepared for my second leg now just wandering around chatting with people I knew. We were looking out for Allen Strickland’s van but couldn’t find that. We did bump into fellow Charlotte Mixed Team ‘Team Awesome’ though and exchanged pleasantries with them. They had started a couple of hours ahead of us and we had eaten into about an hour of that.

As I got ready for my leg which was forecast to start at about midnight word came over that we had had our first geographical mishap of the race. Anne had missed a poorly placed marker but luckily the van had noticed and Anne was able to salvage it, only losing a couple of minutes. This was however enough time to let Norm’s Maggots gain significant time on us and as Jocelyn was handed to the word was that we were going to be pretty much neck and neck by the time I started out! I was now at the start line of my 2nd leg, wearing my reflective vest, headlamp and blinky lights front and back. I chatted with my Maggots rival as we waited for our runners to emerge from the dark behind us. I found out I had beaten his time by 40 seconds on the first leg- useful information to have. Suddenly the cry “Maggot” went up, quickly followed by “CRC”. Jocelyn and her rival were neck and neck heading into the exchange zone! After 11 hours of racing to our limits the two teams were side by side! As we started the next leg it was like the start of a 5k, I hadn’t expected this to happen!

This leg was an easy one, 4.3 miles fairly flat, mostly downhill. I gapped Frankie shortly after the first mile and managed to put 30 seconds into him by the end. Ben and Boriana consolidated this lead and Danielle came into her changeover to Alice ahead of Amber. The Maggots appeared surprised by this. We weren’t.....

Then disaster almost struck. Alice headed out into the fog and pitch darkness. We piled into the van again to drive past her and on to the next exchange zone. About a mile into the stage we took a sudden right turn that was very poorly marked. As we proceeded slowly along there was no sign of Alice. That sinking feeling came over us, Alice was lost. The van went quiet, very quiet. We couldn’t turn around so we decided we would drop Mike off at the next exchange zone and then circle back and drive Alice’s leg again and see if we could find her. We weren’t worried about the race at this point, we were worried about Alice. It was pitch dark, increasingly foggy and pretty scary out! We drove the leg again. Still no sign. Now we just had to hope that Alice had found her way back on to the course and had passed off to Mike. And as we approached the exchange zone there she was smiling as if nothing had happened! Our prayers had been answered!

It transpired that Alice had missed the sharp turn we had noticed in the van and just at that exact point we had passed on the correct route. A minute later and she was back on course and adrenaline flying, minimal damage done to our overall time.

So we moved on to our third rotation. It was now 4.30am and time for the vans to split apart again. While van 1 carried on notching road kill after road kill and battling against the Maggots while running their final legs of the race, our van went ahead and found a quiet exchange zone and we grabbed about an hour’s sleep spread out around our van. Ironically, just as we were trying to get some shut eye at last, Danielle was calling her husband with her alarm call for him to get up for a Tri he was racing that morning! I was in the front seat of the van feet up on the dashboard, luckier and smaller souls had snagged a row of seats each. We woke at 6 ready for my next start at 7. After discovering we were actually at the wrong exchange zone we headed down to the correct one and I got myself prepared for my hardest leg of the race so far, the infamous ‘Mountain Goat’ Stage, the profile of which is shown below...

This stage was going to be 6.5 miles long. The first 1.5 miles flat along the valley and then a relentless 5 mile climb to the top of the mountain. Having not fared very well on the other huge hill I had negotiated in the race so far, I had to mentally prepare myself to attack this hill differently. It was going to call for a patient grind of a climb. I had to avoid going into the red too early otherwise it was going to be a long old haul up there! My legs were very tired at this point from the other two stages I had run. My warm up was token, a few shuffling strides and some stretching. Captain Ben was wandering around feeling very sorry for himself, throwing up three times and unsure whether he would be able to actually run his final leg. Contact had been reached with the other van to discover that we were still (can you believe it?!) running neck and neck with the Maggots! It was 7am and still fairly dark as the overnight fog was lingering. I made my way to the exchange zone and renewed my acquaintance with Frankie (on a side note we have become Facebook friends since the race!). Also standing on the line was friend of mine and occasional running partner Lat Purser whose Team Awesome we were just about to catch up with on the road. I was in for another race alright!

Emerging from the mist, Team Awesome’s runner Shenna appeared first, closely followed by the Maggot. Lat and Frankie ventured off down the road. 30 seconds later Jocelyn arrived to hand over to me and I was off. The first mile was pancake flat. The two guys were up the road fighting amongst themselves. The temptation was great to try and catch up to them quickly but the keyword on this leg was going to be patience. Our vans passed us, I was still a good way back and covered this easy mile in over 6 minutes- just what the doctor ordered. I felt like I was in a stage of the Tour in the Alps at this point, cruising along the valley floor with the dreaded mountain looming alongside me. We hit the start of the hill and within the first mile of the ascent I could tell I was gaining on Lat and Frankie pretty rapidly. As I pulled alongside them both were breathing pretty heavy. I checked myself, I was still in control. So I carried on at the same pace and had soon put a gap between us. Team Awesome’s van was stopping at every turn to blow their Vuvuzuela and cheer us on. I knew most of the people on that team so they were cheering for me almost as much as for their own teammate, this was great!

As we got towards the top the hill became switchback after switchback, I could have been on Alpe D’Huez! My breathing was still under control and I was splitting miles at about 6:50 pace. This was turning into one of my best running performances ever. As I approached the final corners of the climb I passed 3 other runners and was holding on waiting for the sight of my teammates to spur me on to the finish. Remember that at this point they had no idea what had gone on below. For all they knew I was still behind Lat and Frankie! Then I came into view and the screaming and hollering started! I think everyone was genuinely surprised to see me get up there first and with such a decisive lead as well! The last 200 yards were flat and my adrenaline was pumping rapidly as the cheers and screams of disbelief continued. I handed over to Ben who had restored his composure ready for his final leg and I went off to the side of the road for a few moment’s peace and reflection. Then it was time to get straight back in the van and check how Ben was doing and position Boriana for the next leg! I had covered the 6.5 miles in 43:41. A Maggot came up to me and congratulated me saying he thought the time was probably a course record, it was certainly faster than any Maggot had ever run it.

Ben’s leg was 9.4 miles of quad busting downhills which he somehow managed to cover at a 5:31 pace. We were about 2 minutes up on the Maggots now but knew they had the advantage over the next couple of legs and would probably be in front again by the time it got back to Alice. Boriana's final leg was simply ridiculous. We drove it in the van and the hill the course went over was the steepest and longest you can imagine. And with this one you didn't get to stop at the top, you had to plunge over the other side at the same grade! In my opinion from what I saw this was the most difficult stage of the race. Unfortunately Boriana's rival chose to have by far his strongest run over this leg. A decisive lead was grabbed by the Maggots and they were to maintain that gap until the finish in Asheville. Danielle, Alice and Mike finished off their legs so strongly, everyone had run great!

As Mike headed into the finish area we were able to join him as a team crossing the line together. We had covered 208 miles in under 22 hours at an average pace of 6:22. Only 5 minutes behind the previously invincible Maggot's team and only the 4th team ever to go under 22 hours. We beat the old Mixed record by over three hours and overtook 94 of the 100 teams on the road having started in the last group.

It was an incredible experience. After hanging around for a while congratulating the other teams and discussing the race with new and old friends it was off to the YMCA for a hard earned shower and Mellow Mushroom for even harder earned pizzas and beer. What a weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Off to Blue Ridge

Have got everything packed (I hope!) and am ready to go! Our team is solid and complete and we're looking to have a fun time and compete well. I leave Charlotte tomorrow at 8 am. The race starts at 1pm for us and I am on legs 7,19 and 31. Leg 7 will be at about 5pm and is a nasty 5 miler mostly downhill with a huge hill at the end, 19 is a nice easy gradual downhill 4 miles at around midnight and 31 will be at about 7am and is an absolute beast 6.5 miles straight up- no flat or downhill at all!! I took the option of the mountain goat stage figuring my legs won't take as much of a battering as they would have had I run the 9 mile downhill stage I was originally down for!

Wish me luck and safe recovery for my legs! I had another very solid workout on Wednesday am and am keeping Richmond in sight as the main goal!!

Full report and pics to follow!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bringing you up to date

So Cleveland was great. The XC was a blast. It was raining sideways, cold, windy, great XC weather! The course was pretty immaculate though. I was able to wear flats even. Spikes would no doubt have helped me run faster but discretion played the better part of valour! As it was, Tim rolled to come home 12th out of 98 in 19:54 and I had a solid race behind finishing 28th in 20:35. It was great fun racing in a pack the entire race constantly overtaking and being overtaken- bit of a difference to the road races I run week in week out!

Sunday we went for 18 miles so it was good to get a solid long run in on tired legs. It was also a chance for Tim to show off all the local loops and trails he runs. Without question the Cleveland Metro Park system puts anything Charlotte can offer to shame!

Monday we headed back. I ran 4 miles either side of our 9 hour plus journey

On the way back texts were being exchanged between Jay in New York, Billy in Charlotte and I arranging the Tuesday am workout. Mike Beigay joined us too and by 7 am Tuesday morning another solid workout was in the bank- 3 miles in 16:22, 2 miles in 10:39 and a mile in 4:59 (800m jog recoveries)

The rest of the week until Saturday was spent easy running, getting some nice miles in the bank and recovering the legs for the first real marathon workout of this block that was taking place that morning.

The workout on tap was 20 miles with 10 of those at AT pace. For this one I headed up to the Huntersville business park to workout with Bill, Mike and Nathan's training group. These guys always head down to Charlotte to run with us so it was nice to run on their 'territory' for once. Spada, Jay and Caitlin also made the trip and we all thoroughly enjoyed both the change in scenery and the outcomes of our respective workouts.

We all ran together for just over 10 nice and easy miles in the dark, the conversation flowing as we contemplated the hard work ahead. After a quick gu, water and change of shoes we started our workouts. Jay and I nailed our tempo run in 58 minutes- good signs at this stage of the cycle.

So another good week in the books. Need 7 today to complete an 80 mile week. Then some week 1 NFL action and a few brews as the second annual CRC beer mile takes place. Fun times!

Cleveland trip

Apologies for the delay in updating, pc has been out of action. Suffice to say we had an absolute blast in Cleveland! Here are some pics of what we got up to....

Coach and I hit up a xc meet at Case Western University....

While the kids stayed dry in the car

Sunday we all went to Lake Erie and finished off with ice cream at Berea Falls

It was a tiring but fantastic trip! Thanks to the Budics for hosting us!