Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Focus

Late last night Tim sent me an email about this event taking place less than a mile from his house! After discussing with Lisa and checking the calendar, it appears that this weekend will work well for a little family vacation so it looks like we are Cleveland bound again and I’ll be entering the 5 and 10k! New goals, new training plans, love it!

Skyline preview

So this Saturday sees the second race in the RFYL Grand Prix series, the Skyline 5k, starting and finishing next to CPCC campus. You may recall that in the first race of the series I placed 3rd in the Shamrock 4 Miler, about 10 hours after I had run my 5k PR at UNCC the night before. I was pretty impressed with myself at the time but my calf wasn’t and it dinged my training for a few days, no doubt a contributory factor in my disappointing Richmond showing 2 weeks later.

Fast forward a few weeks and here we are with the second race. Training since Richmond seems to have gone okay, nothing spectacular, just grinding out the workouts and ticking over, probably no fitter than I was, so not expecting all that much at the weekend, just enjoying the races at the moment, bigger fish to fry later in the year.

So if I can get in the top 3 again at this race I would definitely take it. I rate this as one of the faster Grand Prix 5ks and with it being run in April normally the temps are also pretty good (the current forecast for Saturday is favourable).

Now for most races coming top 3 isn’t that significant, as the prizes generally go 5 deep and aren’t that much to talk about anyway. Skyline is different though as the top 3 only all win a framed print of, you’ve guessed it, the Charlotte Skyline. It’s one of those prizes that the other half likes so there is extra pressure on coming top 3!

I have run this race for 4 of the past 5 years and have only one print to show for my efforts- a third place in my first ever Skyline race back in 2006! Since then Lisa has been on at me to get another one (the one I have was taken on a cloudy day and has lots of cranes in the picture!) but for one reason and another I haven’t been able to notch one!

2007 I ran a great race in 15:57 defeating local luminaries Robert Miller, Ed Schlichter and Chris Lamperski but still managed to place 4th. A certain Tim Budic had just arrived on the scene and took the victory ahead of Wingate stud Jayce Watson and Bob Marchinko (probably his first Grand Prix race defeat in about 5 years!). Side note: this was the race that I met Tim at. At the awards ceremony we got talking, found out we both had young families and arranged to meet up for a run in Mcalpine the next morning. I was excited to meet a potential new training partner and got to the appointed location in plenty of time. Tim was about 10 minutes late and I was just about to head home disappointed when he came sprinting towards me full of apologies and assuring me that he would never be late for a run again (he wasn’t!!)

The following year I placed 4th again! Bob had his revenge on Tim and Chris ran a strong race for third.

In 2009, things were looking good for a top 3 finish. Training had been going well, Tim had moved back to Cleveland, Bob had ‘retired’ from the Grand Prix scene, a print was there for the taking. Unfortunately my calf had better ideas. During a pre race run on the course two days before the event, my calf gave out on me and I was only able to track the race from home as sure enough the race was won in 16:33 and third was 16:45. A missed opportunity indeed….

Finally, last year I ran a solid enough race but all the horses turned up- Kinley, Compton, Matena, Hovis- and I had to settle for 5th place.

This year I know Compton is out of town, Nick Frank who placed ahead of me in the first GP race I assume will be there, Ben will be there and Brian who was behind me at Shamrock but has since run a low 16 5k PR and appears to be in great shape will be there. Plus you always seem to get a ‘surprise’ runner who you haven’t accounted for turning up. I’ll let you know on Saturday whether Lisa was happy with my performance or not…..

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Week in review

57 miles on 8 runs- 1 long, 1 workout, 1 race

This week will probably be very similar to what I'll do the next few- 55-60 miles on 6 days of running with a race most weekends. Not forcing the mileage at this point.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Museum Mile

The backdrop

Today I ran in the Museum Mile, a reintroduced version of a point to point mile race down the main street of downtown Charlotte. It was a fun, novel event and I wanted to lay down a good time so I had definitely eased back a bit on the training the past few days so that I could maximise my chances of racing well today. I did a solid workout on Tuesday but other than that the week had been easy running and strides. I was hoping to run somewhere in the 4:30-4:40 range.

The outcome

4:42. 7th place overall, 1st in Age (keeping my unbeaten age group run intact). I was pretty pleased with that. The course actually started uphill (quite ironic when Tryon Street is probably one of the flattest roads in Charlotte!)in order that the race could finish right outside one of the museums. The race director said after the event that for next year's race they will eliminate that hill from the course by moving the finish line back a little- why that wasn't done this year I'll never know.

Anyway that hill made for a nasty little uphill sprint at the start as everyone jockeyed for position. So after 200 meters I was already pretty tapped and panting heavily! The lead group of 6 had separated itself and I led the chasers. I can't really remember much more about the race after that! I suffered throughout but held my position and it was over so fast that it didn't really matter! CRC had set up a cheering section halfway along the course which was highly appreciated and I also had fun hanging out with friends for the awards after the race. The girls had come to watch so it was nice having them there too.

I hope the race was successful for the organizers. It is a welcome addition to the Charlotte racing scene and will hopefully establish itself over the next few years and attract fast fields. It was won today in 4:23 which is a pretty legit time!

So all in all a decent enough race for me and looking forward to returning to my comfort zone next week at the Skyline 5k, one of the faster 5ks on the Grand Prix calendar. At least after the race today next week's first mile should feel pretty comfortable!!


Side note 1

I wore new flats for today's race and new shoes for the warm up and down and love them both!! Saucony Grid Type A4 flats (all 6.4 oz of them) and the new NB 890. In fact my first impressions of the 890 is that it could turn out to be the best shoe I've ever worn!

Side note 2

Congrats to buddy Kevin on his first ever race win at the Bunny 5k in Concord today in a new PR to boot. Great job!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Marathon musings

Well what an incredible weekend of marathon racing! First of all I was able to watch a typically fast and competitive London Marathon on Sunday and then of course we had Boston on Monday.

Many of my friends competed, some happy with their times, some disappointed, but all united in expressing what an amazing experience the race was. I will definitely do this race one day (and London too hopefully!) but judging from what I have heard and saw in the results on Monday (especially considering the 'once in a lifetime' weather conditions)I wouldn't necessarily go up there to run a fast time. It would have to be more for just being able to enjoy and soak in the experience. The course sounds brutal with all the downhills potentially trashing your legs and then of course the Newton hills just when you don't need them! All the Charlotte runners did awesome but special praise must be reserved for the two fastest 'Charlotteans' on the day, Nathan Stanford and Scott Woodbury who both ran PRs and managed to negative split I believe!

And then of course there were the amazing finishes in both the Elite races! Much has been made about whether Mutai's performance should be considered a World Record but I can't really understand what all the fuss is about. Of course it was not a world record. The course is point to point and has a net downhill that exceeds the requirements. Everyone running the race knew this beforehand or should have known if they were interested.

The favourable tail wind has nothing to do with it. Had there been a headwind the time still would not be considered a world record because of the other two factors. The reason that the point to point exclusion is in place is to avoid records being set where the wind is behind you the whole way and/or where you run a net downhill.

There is no question that Mutai can say he ran the fastest marathon in history and should be applauded for putting on such an amazing performance, but it's not a world record, period.

Now if we want to take a look at these rules and come up with new ones which take into consideration the uniqueness of a challenging course like Boston then that is a different matter! I can understand the point to point rule because of the wind scenario but the net downhill rule needs looking at- the amount of uphill on the course should also be taken into consideration- are they trying to tell us Boston is too easy because it has a net overall downhill?

All points to ponder, but at the end of the day, what a day it was for marathon running!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week in review

55 miles, 1 workout, 1 race win, 1 12 mile steady state, 1 glorious Champions League QF victory, 1 miserable FA Cup SF defeat

So I won the Run for the Money race. Not much to report other than that I did the whole race solo and stayed comfortably out of the well on a pretty tough course with a time of 16:55. In town Jordan was back to winning ways in the Race Fest 10k while girlfriend Meagan took the Ladies race and JC continued his unbeaten run in the Half. Had I run in either of those races I would probably have got myself some welcome cash, as it was the Catawba Lands Conservancy found itself $1,000 the richer for my efforts. What philanthropy

Encouraging was the fact that today I was able to bash out a good hard 12 miler on the back of this race with most of the miles in the low 6s. I'm already noticing the reduced mileage and increased intensity is making my legs feel fresher day to day. We'll just have to see what impact it has on my racing. Next up is the Museum Mile next Saturday which should be a fun, novel race!

Tomorrow I am looking forward to tracking lots of friends at Boston. The weather forecast looks fantastic and people are ready to roll. Should be a productive morning at work....

Monday, April 11, 2011

Week in review

65 miles, 3 workouts, longest run 10 miles

Considering that I had run the 10k on the Saturday leading into this week, 3 workouts was probably pushing it. I didn't run today and will have a fairly easy week this week.

Heading to the track tomorrow night for some speedwork and then nice and easy the rest of the week before the Run For the Money 5k on Saturday.

I do this race every year. The overall and age group winners get to donate a sum of money to the Non Profit Organization of their choice depending on where they finish. With a 2nd and two wins in this event previously I have managed to earn $2.5k for the Catawba Lands Conservancy and I'll be hoping to add some more money to that total on Saturday. I'm hoping I don't have to bust a gut to get the victory but obviously that will depend on who turns up. The course is tough indeed and I really could do with this just being a 'workout' rather than a race, especially with the Mile race in town the following weekend. I have run 16:59 there the past two years and would like to be able to 'just' have to run around that time on Saturday. We'll see.

Elsewhere, it's good to see Jordan on the road to recovery and some solid podium positions for John C, Caitlin, BMac, the Crockfords and Steve this past weekend. A lot of my friends are gearing up for an assault on Boston and I am looking forward to tracking them next Monday!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Trimming the fat

Coach Tim paid another welcome visit to the QC this week. We met up after work last night (for a run, obviously) and during our hour in Mcalpine discussed the usual topics. We dissected my 5k success and 10k mishaps, talked about his own running since coming back from knee surgery and also threw some ideas around about how we saw the rest of our years shaping up.

In a nutshell I’m pretty much set on focusing on a good Half in the Fall, maybe Thunder Road, maybe back to Richmond again, maybe somewhere new. I haven’t done a Half for a couple of years so it will be good to train for one again. Over the Summer I’ll probably just keep ticking over, jumping in all the GP events and any other races that catch my eye, essentially getting back to enjoying my running again without focusing on one particular race. There’ll be less rigidity in my schedule and here’s the fun part, more quality and less quantity! The plan is to eliminate a lot of the ‘junk’ miles and longer runs and throw in more workouts. So instead of heading out for 15 miles on a Sunday in the drudgery of the Charlotte heat I’ll more likely be heading to the Oval to knock out some swift quarters!

Obviously I’ll still be keeping the mileage relatively high and doing the longer aerobic stuff too, just reducing the emphasis on it. Hopefully my legs will respond and I’ll start to feel faster again. Training for the Marathon last Fall and then maintaining pretty heavy mileage through the Winter has had my legs feeling pretty beaten up and tired for the majority of the time the past few months so it would be nice if I could have a fresher feel on a regular basis over the Summer.

With that in mind I have already done 2 workouts since the 10k- a 8*175m, 5k Tempo, 8*175m on Wednesday with Billy and Will and this morning Tim and I knocked out 3 sets of 5 300s at PDS. More track work on the slate for Sunday!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Post Richmond

(Matt, Caitlin and I just after the finish. Caitlin had just left her breakfast on the finish line!)

As indicated by my last update, Saturday didn't exactly go to plan. The day started off REAL early as I was unsure what the traffic/parking situation would be in such a big race. As it was I was WAY early and the first car in the parking lot at 6am. No problem though at least I was situated. It was very cold at this point. I walked down to check out the start area and the finish and just generally wandered around a bit trying to keep warm. I got in touch with fellow Charlottean Caitlin who was running the race and we arranged to meet up to warm up. We headed out and covered 2 or 3 miles of the course, noting the flat layout and all the bands setting up!

I got back to my car, changed into my race gear and headed down to the starting corrals. It was still cold but it looked like it was going to warm up pretty quick and that we had caught a break with the weather as there was none of the forecasted rain in the air. After some strides and drills I was able to march pretty much straight up to the front of the corral.

The anthem was played and we were off. The elite guys headed off into the distance and I got into a good early groove quickly passing the elite women and settling into a group of about ten guys. We turned on to Monument Avenue and I was feeling pretty good, running the pace I was looking for and with company to boot. Mile 1 5:09 just under goal pace, no problem, mile 2 5:14. Still heading out in a straight line up Monument, mile 3 was when I felt myself starting to work pretty hard. A couple of guys had dropped off the group and I had slipped to the back of it but was making sure to keep contact. Mile 3 5:17 but knew I would soon be turning and heading towards the finish with a slight downhill and tailwind.

Through 5k in 16:23 and mile 4 5:14 (unofficial 4 mile PR of 20:54) but feeling a lot more uncomfortable than I was expecting and now having to negative split big time if I was to PR. It was during mile 5 that the race began to unravel. I had developed a really painful side stitch and couldn't shake it. WTF? This had never happened to me in a race before. Every step sent a sharp pain through my side. I had to alter my gait and try and ignore it. The group headed off away from me and I was now on my own to the finish just trying to relax and feed off the crowd support and bands (I noticed one of the bands was playing a great rocking rendition of "Wanted Dead or Alive" which was awesome but also an indicator that I had now lost focus on the race itself!)

Painful mile 5 passed in 5:29, the stitch eased a little during mile 6 (5:24) and I was able to finish pretty solid down the last slightly downhill stretch with the crowds cheering. I could see the clock ticking towards 33:00 and was just unable to squeeze under it. Just as I finished I heard the ladies winner being announced so at least I had held her off and it meant my family were able to see me on the local tv network which was showing the race live!

Caitlin followed soon after in a PR of 35:45 and yet another great race, Matt in 37:10 and very happy too. We warmed down together and grabbed some breakfast before going our separate ways.

My immediate reaction following the race was one of disappointment. I had not met my goal and in running it's black and white, I'd failed in the goals I had set myself for this race and this training block. So you come to terms with that and resolve to get back to training and continue improving and enjoying what you do.

The next few weeks I have a few races lined up and hopefully I can kick on. The calf problem I had right after my 5k put a brake in my training just when I didn't need it but also meant that the last couple of weeks have been very low key so I can now ramp it up again after the enforced 'break'. I'll spend a few weeks just jumping into runs and workouts as I see fit and not following such a rigid schedule before thinking of next goals. Looking forward to it!

(I officially finished in 20th place out of over 41,000 starters. I was first in my age group which makes it two for two in that category for big races I've completed in Richmond).

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Not a great day at the office. More details later

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pre Richmond

After last weekend's excitement of being able to run again and watching CRC break the World Record, this week has been uneventful so far. I did a couple of fairly low key workouts Sunday and Tuesday which my legs struggled to get to grips with after those few days off but I remain healthy and feel nicely rested and ready to give this race a good bash on Saturday.

I'm writing this from Lisa's parents' house where we'll be staying until Sunday. They live about 45 minutes from downtown Richmond. We drove up yesterday and I went and got my race number and checked out where I plan to park on Saturday morning. I did this as the event is huge! This will be by far the biggest race I have ever been in. Last year this was the 22nd biggest race in the WORLD and this year they are trying to crack the top 20. Around 45,000 runners will be toeing the line! I'm in the first seeded wave. By the time I finish there will still be people who haven't started yet...

I'm hoping that I can get as near the front of my corral as possible so that I'm not held up in the crowds but we'll see. Once we get started it should be like no other race I have run, with big crowds lining the whole route and bands playing the whole time. The route is literally an out and back on Monument Avenue which I ran a couple of miles on during my last visit here for the marathon. Pancake flat and hopefully fast!

What to expect time wise? Pre calf scare, a PR attempt certainly looked on the cards. The few days off last week won't have helped but I'm certainly going out there with the intention of attacking my best ever 10k time. I've gotten myself pretty fit this cycle. It would be a shame to waste it....