Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Local Runner Profile: Chris Jones

This post will be the first in a series of local runner profiles. Ever wonder who that person was you saw running recently who looked so fast (or slow, in my case)? Well, it's time to put the face with the pace. We're starting this off by interviewing Chris Jones.

Name: Chris Jones
Home: Davidson, NC
Age: 32
Years of Running: 17

Why Do I Run? Wow, too many reasons to list here....at this point running is a big part of who I am. I'm not sure what will happen down the road, but I feel blessed to have had a good running career, even if it were to end tomorrow. Still whittling away at PR's though, so I guess I'm a late bloomer when it comes to getting faster.

Favorite Running Shoes: Asics Bandito

Running Insights: A few based on my experience: (1) Mileage is the #1 predictor of faster race times, but must be developed and built up very slowly (we are talking YEARS of progression here, not weeks or months). (2) Strength-training will help you stay injury-free - I do 2-3 30 minute sessions a week working all parts of the body. (3) Walking is a good way to cross-train and keep the blood flowing; I like taking a 20-30 minute walk during the afternoon if I do a fast session in the morning.

Where Do You Train: Primarily the roads and trails in the Davidson and Cornelius areas.

Favorite Race Distance: Don't really have a favorite....5K to marathon, and everything in between.

Miles Per Week: Usually 50 or so. During recent marathon training, I've been able build up into 80's without a problem though.

Favorite Race: The Great Race, a point-to-point 10K in Pittsburgh PA. The event usually pulls out 10-12,000 runners. Scenic, fast, and fun.

Proudest Race Accomplishment: 53rd place in the 2008 Marine Corp Marathon (editor's note - 2:46:28). Though I think this answer may change based on how good my training and racing has been of late!

Heroes: My grandfather George Dill. He was a mayor, a pharmacist, and a funeral home director all at the same time (not to mention an active churchgoer and a leading member of many commissions, clubs and activities). He died when I was 4 but I remember taking walks with him and swinging on the porch swing.

Thanks, Chris, and keep up the blistering pace!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Race Report: Dumyat Hill Race, Stirling, Scotland

Early this past May DART member Jim Crotts and his wife Sarah spent a few days in Scotland, seeing the sights of of the highlands. If you know Jim you'll quickly come to understand that he loves
to schedule his vacations around races, and this was no exception.

Here's the race recap in Jim's words:

"The race was held in Stirling, Scotland on the campus of the University of Stirling. The race is an annual event that's been held every year for the past 20+ years. It's basically a 5-mile out-and-back race to the top of Dumyat Hill (I'd call it a mountain personally). It had rained all day, typical for Scotland, so the course was very muddy and treacherous. My finishing time wasn't great -- I think it was around 55 minutes, but it was honestly one of the most challenging courses I have ever run. The footing was terrible, especially one hill in particular at mile one that was completely straight-up and mud-slicked. I slipped and fell back to the bottom at least eight times, which destroyed my finish time. Nonetheless though the experience was awesome and, best yet, I received a permanent scar on my left knee as a souvenir!"

Sarah took some pictures that underline what Jim and his fellow runners experienced.



Friday, June 26, 2009

Lake Norman YMCA - Victoria Bay Route

We'll be adding a series of running routes that begin at the Lake Norman YMCA in Cornelius, NC. So to kick it off, here's one that's short and sweet, and covers most of the Victoria Bay subdivision.

The Lake Norman YMCA is located at the end of Davidson Street in northern Cornelius, right off highway 115. Although there's only one way in and out for automobiles, there's a pedestrian walkway that begins across the parking lot from the main building and dumps onto Church St. Begin your run here and head south on Church St., then right on Washam. Turn right on Catawba Springs into Victoria Bay subdivision. At this point refer to the map below; in essence, you'll be completing a large circle around Victoria Bay's perimeter, then out its main entrance. Turn left on Catawba Ave. toward downtown Cornelius, then left on Church St. (there's a traffic light) and head straight back to the Lake Norman YMCA.

The primary benefit of this course is that there is relatively little traffic with with to contend, and the route has sidewalks all the way through. You can also connect this route to others in order to get a long run. We'll discuss additional routes that embark from the Lake Norman YMCA in future posts.

Thanks to Chris Jones for suggesting this post!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Need for Speed - Irwin Belk Track

Need to do some speed work? Want to run on a soft surface? Like going around in circles? The Irwin Belk track is a great place to get it all done. Located within the Davidson College campus, the Belk track is "a 400 meter, eight-lane track built to international standards" (source: Davidson College). Four laps make nearly a mile*.

There's no question that speed work will make you faster, provided you stick to a plan. There are as many plans as there are running coaches, so pick the the one that's best for you and your goals. For example, one method for prepping for a faster marathon is the Yasso 800s. Simply put, run 800 meters at a time (two laps) with a jog break in between, beginning with four sessions, add one session per week, culminating in ten sessions.

Week 1: Four sessions (4 x 800)
Week 2: Five sessions (5 x 800)
Week 3: Six sessions (6 x 800)
Week 4: Seven sessions (7 x 800)
Week 5: Eight sessions (8 x 800)
Week 6: Nine sessions (9 x 800)
Week 7: Ten sessions (10 x 800)

The pace you choose for your 800s should be your anticipated total marathon time, extrapolated. For example, if you want to run a 3 hour 30 minute marathon, run each 800 in 3 minutes 30 seconds. For more information see Bart Yasso's website.

Bringing the topic back to Davidson College's Belk track, you can also run the stadium stairs, which will give your cardiac system quite a workout.

Some things to keep in mind as you run on the Belk track. Officially, it's reserved for Davidson College students, faculty, and staff. However, if it's not being used by the aforementioned you should be able to run without issue; early morning are the best. Also, lanes one thru four are prohibited for use, so stick with the outside lanes. Generally, the slower you are the further out you should be. There are other general rules posted on signs as you enter the stadium, so be sure to read them. Oh yeah - if you drive and park, make sure you either park on Davidson-Concord Rd. or at the big lot off Baker Dr. Otherwise your track session may cost you $20, courtesy of Davidson College campus police.

So if you're interested in becoming faster or figuring out exactly what your P.R. for a mile is, track is the place for you.

A special thanks for DART member Kathy Rink for providing additional info regarding the Belk track.

P.S. Four four-hundred meter laps = 1,600 meters = .994 miles, or 31 feet shy of 5,280 feet. Come on, you really wanted to know, didn't you?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

West Davidson Loop

The West Davidson loop is a great way to get about 2.4 miles of running without much hassle. It can also be incorporated into longer runs. Starting at Summit Coffee, the course can be run in either direction. Since you'll be running along Griffith St., which feeds off I-77, there will be some traffic to keep in mind; however, the entire route is sidewalked and partially shaded.

Along the course you'll pass near Davidson Town Hall, Hoke Lumber, and Roosevelt Wilson Park. At Roosevelt Wilson Park there are bathrooms and a water fountain, both of which are closed during the winter months.

Click on the map below to see the detail.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Miles of Mooresville Results for June 19, 2009

The first installment of this summer's Miles of Mooresville is now in the books. A special shout out to DART member Todd Mayes, who blistered the one-miler in 5:03. Way to go!

Other DARTers who participated in one or more of the races included Clint and Wendy Siemers.

Local speedster Bobby Aswell of Cornelius ran in all three races and finished fifth, fourth, and second for the one-, two-, and three mile races, respectively. Our own Jim Crotts finished sixth, fifth, and fifth.

The next Miles of Mooresville will take place on July 17, 2009 in downtown Mooresville. For more information and complete results go to: http://www.queencitytiming.com/mooresville_miles/welcome.htm

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Davidson College Cross Country Trail

The Davidson College cross country trail is a gem of a place for running. If you're tired of hammering out the miles on asphalt and concrete, try a little dirt instead. The trail offers, by way of some double-looping, the opportunity to run a 5k or 8k route.

There are very few flat spots on the course; instead it's mostly ups and downs, especially so for the first mile in (and the last mile out). It's mostly shaded, which is nice for those hot summer days. Trail shoes are not required.

Because you are in the woods, you will have the opportunity to see wildlife in its many forms. Deer are plentiful, along with turtles and the occasional turkey. Snakes are prevalent during the warm summer months; mostly black snakes which live near the old abandoned house just past the kudzu forest.

And speaking of safety, it's a good idea to bring a friend along with you while you are on the trail, or at least a cell phone in case of emergencies. Even during peak times it may be awhile until someone else comes along.

As the sign mentions, Davidson College conducts its cross country practice sessions on weekdays between four and six p.m. when school is in. This means no dogs nor bicycles during that time. Feel free to run then, but realize that you may be passed rapidly by a horde of fast college runners when you least expect it.

The trickiest part of the Davidson College cross country trail is finding it. Unless you've been told where it is you'll probably never stumble upon it. So, here's how to get there. From downtown Davidson head east on Davidson-Concord Road. Turn left at Baker Dr. Parking is available in the big parking lot on the right. Go behind the Baker Sports Complex on the right and the trail begins just past the football practice field.

UPDATE 9/14/09:  The distances of college trail system have been confusing, as I have yet to find an official route of either the 5k or 8k.  This is probably because it's not used in college meets but only as practice.  Before the helpful sign was added at the entrance, people had to rely upon cryptic signs with white and red arrows.  Before I got a GPS watch I ran what I assumed was 5 miles, but was in actuality 4.6!

In order to get 8k in, the key is to run in what I think of as an outside loop followed by an inside loop.  For the first loop you'll turn right just after mile two at the crossroads.  Then go left to the inside loop (there's a sign indicating 8k second loop).  At the crossroads where you turned right at mile two, this time go straight.  Then turn left at the maintenance warehouse and back to the start/finish.

Here's a map taken from data from my Garmin Forerunner 205 back in June.


Thanks, JimmyMac!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Do the Dew Point

We here on the D.A.R.T. blog will never claim any sort of scientific knowledge about anything that involves more than counting our fingers and toes. However, we have been perplexed enough to wonder why, especially in the southern climes, it seems that running feels hotter than the air temperature indicates.

The short answer would be "it's not the heat, it's the humidity", but that's not all. For example, right now as this post is being written it's 87 degrees with 56% humidity. Obviously that's pretty warm for running, but maybe not horrible, due to the somewhat low humidity. However, running right now would really zap a person. That's reflected in another metric, the dew point.

The dew point is the temperature to which a given parcel of air must be cooled, at constant barometric pressure, for water vapor to condense into water. The condensed water is called dew. The dew point is a saturation point." (source: Wikipedia). The higher the dew point, the more uncomfortable it feels outside. That's because the high moisture content in the air interferes with one's sweat evaporation. Namely, when you sweat under high dew point conditions, the skin doesn't get cooled off adequately and makes you more susceptible to overheating.

So if the dew point today is 70 degrees, how does that feel? Generally speaking, a dew point 60-69 is perceived by most as somewhat uncomfortable, 70-74 as very uncomfortable, and above 75 as being extremely uncomfortable. So today, even though the humidity is only 56%, the dew point makes it feel pretty bad outside.

The next time you start to head out for a run, make sure to check the dew point in addition to the temperature and humidity. Just remember that the higher the dew point, the hotter you'll feel. If you start feeling bad, then stop. No use getting heatstroke.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Running in River Run

The community of River Run just east of downtown Davidson, NC, is a great place for running. It's large enough to put in a decent long run, but you can also keep it short if you want to. Plenty of rolling hills will keep your interest, and there are sidewalks nearly everywhere.

To get to River Run from downtown Davidson, drive (or run or bike) east on Davidson-Concord Rd. and veer right at the Hwy. 73 sign. Once past the Bradford subdivision, turn left onto Robert Walker Dr. Parking is available across from the soccer/baseball field.

Here is a MapMyRun map of one of my recent runs through the area. It starts at the soccer field and goes to the other end of River Run, which currently terminates at Shearer Rd, and then back to the start.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Miles Of Mooresville Summer Race Series

Get fast! Queen City Timing along with Race City Runners is offering a new local race, or more specifically series of races, to be held in downtown Mooresville this summer. The first event will occur this Friday night, June 19th, at 7:00p.m.

From the website:
"The race series will be run once a month on a Friday evening in June, July and August. The series will have a one mile, two mile, and three mile race each evening starting at 7pm. The races will start on Main St and go through the downtown area of Mooresville.
Runners typically enjoy Friday evening races during the summer months and are always looking for different and challenging experiences. This race series will offer the runners an opportunity to run any and all of the three races each evening, for one admission price. Additionally it will offer a timed and measured mile race, something that is difficult to find for adults runners.
Runner’s registration will be held at the Citizens Center in Downtown Mooresville. The race will start and end on Main St near the intersection of Center St. After-race festivities will center around that intersection, and the Downtown Commission will be encouraging merchants to remain open that evening.
This will be a family friendly event. Runners will be invited to bring their spouses and children with them for an evening of running, dining and shopping."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Race Report: Hatfield & McCoy Marathon

DART members Todd and Chad (yours truly) made the drive from Davidson up to southern West Virginia (along with my wife Laurie and son James) this past weekend to participate in the Hatfield & McCoy Marathon. Held annually since 2000, the marathon (along with a half-marathon) attracts runners from around the nation who are vying to complete a marathon in each of the 50 states.

Why does the Hatfield & McCoy Marathon attract so many 50-staters? A couple of reasons. First, as a participant you are entitled to claim this race as either your "West Virginia" or "Kentucky" state, as the races begins in Goody, KY and ends in Williamson, WV. Secondly, there are only a handful of marathons offered in West Virginia, so if you miss this one you might have to wait another year for your next chance. Todd is on the hunt to complete a marathon in each of the 50 states, so he counts this one as his "West Virginia".

There are other reasons for running the Hatfield & McCoy Marathon. If you like small, friendly races in out-of-the-way places, then this one is hard to beat. The route worked its way through southern Kentucky first and then turned northeast into West Virginia where the half-marathoners ended their trek in historic Matewan.

Though surrounded by hills, the course was generally flat, with a few notable exceptions. The climb up Blackberry Mountain beginning around mile six entailed a four percent grade, which was tough enough, but the back side with its six percent grade was really harsh on the old quads. At mile sixteen the asphalt road turned into a combination of gravel, mud, and rocks and continued for two miles. The final treat was a short but steep incline at mile 23.

As expected at this time of year, humidity was high but fortunately the sun stayed behind the clouds most of the time. For such a small race there were a surprising number of aid stations, nearly one every mile, and they were staffed by friendly and helpful locals. There were a few dogs roaming the course, but they were friendly. Todd reported seeing a snake on the road early on in the race.

The marathon finished up in Williamson, WV. By sheer coincidence I spent part of my childhood here, grades three through eight. I hadn't been back since then, nearly 30 years ago, and it was odd to see familiar landmarks through the eyes of an adult. Generally speaking, not much had changed. There was no marathon in Williamson back then, so as a runner I am glad to see that this event is not only here but continues to grow in popularity.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lake Norman YMCA 5K Family Fun Run and Walk

Looking for a low-key, family-oriented local 5k run or walk? This Saturday, June 13th the Lake Norman YMCA in Cornelius is offering such a race as part of their Live at the Lake event. The race starts at 9:00a.m., and it's $15 for adults and $5 for children. Kids in strollers are free. Note that this event will not be timed, so bring your stopwatch/hourglass/sundial.

Details are at: http://www.ymcacharlotte.org/lakenorman/programs/lhspecial/liveatthelake_speciallevents.aspx

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Adventures in Baby Jogging

One of the good things about running in Davidson is that there are some routes that are baby jogger-friendly. Running with a baby jogger, assuming you have a little one or ones in which to push, is a great way to get them and you outdoors. Of course you should use special caution when running with a baby jogger and know you and your child are capable of.

There's the sidewalk that goes along Davidson-Concord Road extending from downtown to the Bradford subdivision. An out-and-back will give you about five miles. It's best to go after some of the rush hour is over, as you will have to cross several side roads. Also, realize that on Friday mornings there will be many big blue trash cans out on the sidewalk for you to dodge.

The Randall Kincaid greenway will give you nearly six miles of good, mostly traffic-free running. Just realize that the steep downhill you enjoyed on Patrick Johnston Lane will become a steep uphill on the way back!

Then there's the Davidson College cross country trail, which can be tackled with a baby jogger. It's definitely a more advanced course, being a mix of hard- and soft-packed dirt. Also, if you get into trouble you may not see anyone else out there for several minutes. When I go I take a phone and a small first aid kit. Never had to use it for my son, but I did have to bandage myself up after tripping on a root.

If you're considering purchasing a baby jogger, look for one that's specifically made for running. There are many brands to consider, but the most popular appear to be Baby Jogger and BOB. With my jogger I carry in addition to the aforementioned first aid kit a small bicycle pump and a beach towel. I also have a place to store my keys and a place to put a sippy cup. Most running stores and cycle shops sell at least one brand, and there are many online retailers such as joggingstroller.com.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Run on Wed. June 10th

Join Chad & Kara if you can for a seven or so mile run thru Davidson tomorrow, Wed. June 10th, at 7am. I'll be the one with the yellow BOB stroller, as I'll be pushing my son as we go along. We meet in front of CVS in downtown Davidson, NC.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Ada Jenkins FIRE 5k June 20, 2009


As the heat of summer settles upon us like a wet wool blanket, there are fewer races to be found in the area. Fortunately for those of you wanting to get your race fix, there will be a 5k (along with a one-mile fun run/walk) on Saturday, June 20th.

The Ada Jenkins 5k will start and finish at the Ada Jenkins Center near downtown Davidson, which is located at 212 Gamble St. The races are part of their 10th anniversary celebration, which will include a bar-b-que, music, and more. Your entry fee will not only get you into the race but also a bar-b-que plate.

For details and a downloadable entry form, go to http://adajenkins.org/fire/details.cfm.

Bailey Road Loop

One of the tricky things about trying to run a loop between Davidson and Cornelius has been trying to get to Bailey Rd. via 115 and then Bailey Rd. itself, which has been only partially sidewalked.  

Three things have transpired which have made doing a Davidson-Cornelius loop possible.  First, the connector of Bailey Rd. and Bailey Springs, which then connects to the Greenway.  Secondly, the extension of the sidewalk along 115 in Cornelius which goes from Washam Potts all the way (with two gaps, for some unknown reason) to Bailey Rd.  Finally, with the construction of Bailey High School will come sidewalks that should connect to the existing sidewalk at Bailey Rd. Park.

Here's a map of a run the group did recently that shows graphically the Bailey Rd. loop.  It's about 7.2 miles, and can be amended to include additional mileage.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Results from the ASC Greenway Trail Half Marathon

Todd Hartung of Davidson completed the ASC Greenway Trail Half Marathon held on May 30, 2009, in Fort Mill, SC.  He had a great time sloshing through the muck and mire.  Todd bought his Montrail trail shoes the week prior to the race, but they came through for him.  Check out the pic of his muddy shoes!

Results of the RE/MAX 5k at the Lake

Laurie and I just completed the RE/MAX 5k at the Lake this morning.  Cool temps and overcast skies made for good running conditions.  There were probably just over 150 in attendance.  This was the third annual and the course was moved to Mt. Mourne, which made for a pretty flat course.  

Results haven't been posted yet on www.queencitytiming.com, but the overall winner did it in 16:45 or so.  I pushed James in the BOB stroller and managed to eke out a 20:47, which was about 40 seconds faster than my last 5k there in late December.  Laurie nearly broke 27 minutes and was pleased with her results.  

I've posted some pics for your viewing pleasure.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Where to run? Town of Davidson's Southeast Greenway

The Town of Davidson has recently developed a Southeast Greenway, which is a great place to run.  The route consists entirely of asphalt & concrete, and goes from downtown to the River Run subdivision.  Generally speaking it's downhill when you leave downtown and uphill on the return.  You can also combine it with running along Davidson-Concord Rd. and make a loop of about seven miles.

The route starts off South St., just past Davidson Elementary.  From there you will go behind The Pines, then up Avinger Ln., then right onto Pine Rd.  Turn left onto Patrick Johnston, down the hill, and back on the greenway.  At the Robert Walker Ext. you can either continue straight and stop at the terminus, or you can go left toward Concord Rd.

See the link for more detail:  http://www.ci.davidson.nc.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=741

RE/MAX at the Lake 5k this Saturday, June 6th


Looking for a local race this weekend? How about the RE/MAX at the Lake 5k to be held on Saturday, June 6th. The event will be held at the Mount Mourne Fire Department, which is at the intersection of 115 and Langtree Road in Mount Mourne (between Mooresville and Davidson). For those of you who have run the Elf Run 5k in years past, it's the same course. It's about as flat a 5k as you can find in these parts. For more information and registration information, go to http://www.homesatthelake.com/race/index.cfm.

Money raised will go to the Levine Children's Hospital.