Friday, December 31, 2010

Polar Bear Metric Century Cycling Event, Jan. 8th, 2011

While the only time you will find me on a bicycle is when I'm too injured to run (which, by the way, is right now), I'm a keen proponent of cycling and many Davidson-area runners are also cyclists.

On Jan. 8th, 2011, the Rocky River Road Club will be putting on their 13th annual Polar Bear Metric Century Ride, which begins in Davidson and travels the rural and scenic areas east of Mooresville and into Rowan County.

For more details hit up their site on  There's also an excellent article describing the Polar Bear ride on the Mooresville Weekly's website.

Chad R.
Davidson Area Running Team

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

We had a rare snowy day for the DART Sunday run today.

I wasn't sure if anyone was going to show up, but Todd Hartung posted on Facebook that he'd be there, and even offered me a ride into the CVS. Sure enough, he pulled up in front of my house at 6:55 a.m., with 3 inches of snow covering his car. Todd said Tony Read would be meeting us in town.

Tony was only going to be doing 6 miles, so we started out running the regular DART loop, heading down South Street past Davidson Elementary. As we started down the snowy greenway, a family of four deer dashed across the trail in front of us. An inspiring sight!

Then we headed up Avinger Lane towards Pine road, and had the road all to ourselves, until an SUV roared up the street blaring its horn at us. Other than that, the few drivers we encountered were quite courteous. Amazing how unwilling some people are to share a road that is 99 percent empty.

After another run down the beautifully snowy greenway at the end of Pine Road, we said goodbye to Tony and headed into River Run. After a couple miles in this upscale neighborhood, we headed west toward the farms of Mayes Road. The wind picked up here, but overall, the weather was quite pleasant -- a light snow, about 30 degrees. The most difficult part of the run was slogging through the somewhat slushy snow on the road. But it was definitely preferable to some of the truly chilly mornings we've had recently.

Then we headed back up highway 115 towards Davidson. We cut through the Antiquity subdivision and across its picturesque wooden bridge. When we arrived back at CVS, we were at 11.67 miles, so we ran a bit farther up Concord to get an even 12. Here's the GPS plot of our run. Here's what we looked like at the end of the run:

Todd is looking relaxed in his new running jacket

Dave is wondering if he should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque
Then we headed to Summit for the traditional post-run beverage. We were pleased to find out that Tony had been there before us and bought us our favorite drinks! Thanks, Tony!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thunder Road Marathon 2010 Finishers' Certificates

The 2010 Thunder Road Marathon finishers' certificates are now available for printing.  Suitable for framing and putting in your "I-love-me" room, alongside your medal.

Pictures from the marathon, half-marathon, and 5k are also available for viewing and purchase at the same website.

Thanks, Lonnie L.!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Race Recap: Mount Mourne VFD Elf Run 5k

DARTers Marc Hirschfield and his wife Jo recap their experience at this past Saturday's Mount Mourne Volunteer Fire Department Elf Run 5k. Here's his report (which he also posted on his blog):

The sun rises over the frozen North Pole as the Elves awaken

Oh, wait, we're in North Carolina, it just FEELS like the North Pole.  After doing my 19 on Friday, I wasn't sure about what I was going to do Saturday.  I knew I'd want to take it easy and go short.  After seeing that a bunch of DART-ers were going to be at the Mt Mourne VFD Elf 5K, I figured I'd head over there at least to cheer, plus Jo decided that she'd run.
This must be the place-photo courtesy of Chad Randolph
I wasn't sure if I was planning on running, but I put my gear on.  Jo and I had done the race 2 years ago and it was fun, but last year she had pneumonia and I had the flu, so that was a no go.  Once I got there, I decided that I had to do the distance anyways, so signing up would be the best motivation.  On line, I ran into Tony Read, and we talked for a while, he told us about his triathlons training, and it's hard not to want to go out and run.  Went out to the car and ran into Rodney Alan Graham, who was there to run with his son.

After picking up my shirt (love the elf shirts) I headed out back to the port-a-johns (I promise not to rant about the 2 outdoors toilets, really)  and ran into Chad Randolph, Jim Crotts, Jeremy Alsop and Tommy Wagoner talking to Kara Pettie from Run For Your Life - University, who I see at least once a week.  Most of the Charlotte running people I know in one place - cool!  Chad was on his crutches and was there to cheer everyone on, Kara was working the RFYL table and the rest of us were running.

After some chit-chat, we all gathered in front of the firehouse for the start.  This race definitely has a small town feeling as the start is basically just the parking lot in front of the firehouse and everyone just stands together until the start.  Chad was on his crutches and was there to cheer everyone on, which was pretty cool.

The course heads out from the firehouse, up Langtree Road, past the (ever-growing) Lowes world headquarters, does a turn around out on Transco road and comes back, finishing up behind the firehouse.
The start - photo courtesy of Chad Randolph

At the go sign, we all took off up the road.  My objective was just to take it easy.  After the 19 the day before, I just didn't want to pull anything, but I found that for first mile I was just gliding along.  I realized how much more fun the 5K distance is than the marathon.  Just cruising along.  My objective was to pass more people than passed me.  And that proved to be no problem at all.  In fact, no one passed me at all, I just passed them.  I've never had that feeling before.  As I neared the halfway point, I started looking for people I knew, which is a cool feature of this race.

Up ahead, I got to see Jim, Jeremy, Tommy, Tony, and saw Jo heading my way.  Everyone gave each other the little head nod, and kept going.

The second half was a little bit tougher than the first, with more uphill, but I kept chugging along.  Got across the street from the fire station and saw Jo and Chad standing there to bring folks into the finish.

Me and my heel strike coming in to the finish line - Photo courtesy Chad Randolph

Jo and Chad bringing the runners home.

I put on a little burst of speed and made it to the finish line at 28:30.  Not my best time by far, but all things considered, I'll take it.    Met up with everyone in side and got to see the awards ceremony.

Jo got 2nd in her age group
Jeremy Alsop 2nd Male 25-29
Jim Crotts - 1st Male 30-34
Bobby Aswell Jr - 1st Male 45-49
Tony Read - 3rd Male 50-54

Congrats to Marshall Graham for finishing a 5K at the age of 9.

Overall, a good time and a great race.

Partial DART team photo
Jo and I post race

A girl and her trophy

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Race Recap: Thunder Road Half Marathon

DARTers Marc Hirschfield and his wife Jo recap their experience at this past Saturday's Thunder Road half marathon. Here's his report (which he also posted on his blog):

Monday, December 13, 2010

NEWS FLASH! Charlotte is still hilly.

I know I haven't posted in a while, but it's just been the usual marathon training slog, and I'm tired and worn out, same as always.

But, this past weekend was the big running weekend in Charlotte with the Thunder Road marathon and half marathon being run (along with a 5K, which I confess, I have done before).

Every person I knew in Charlotte that runs was going to be there, and the emails were flying with messages of where to meet up and team pictures, etc.  I decided to try and meet the davidson area running team.  We were supposed to meet up at the front door at 7:15, but conveniently I passed Dave Munger, Chad Randolph, and Rodney Alan Graham on the way to the bathroom (truthfully it would be hard to miss Chad's fluorescent orange hat).

We chit-chatted for a while, and then headed outside to see if we could find other DART-ers for our pictures, and for everyone but me to fire up their Garmin GPS units.  It seems that everyone takes quite a while to get signal, so I have the below series of photos of people standing waiting for signal.
Jo with no signal yet
Dave with no signal

Chad with no signal

No one with signal

Getting ready to run
After the pics, I set off for the bathroom, and said my goodbyes to everyone, and asked Chad to please not lap me out on the course.

This year's race didn't start on College Street which is right in front of the convention center, but up the block on Tryon street.  I think Tryon is bigger and is more "central" so i guess that's why they did it.  However, it was quite difficult to get up to Tryon street, since there were a ton of people heading up that way.

Consequently, as the race started, I (and a lot of other people) where trying to get onto Tryon street.  I don't think I've ever seen even a fraction of this number of people in Charlotte before, outside of a Panthers game

The start line - and I'm on the wrong side!
For a few minutes there it felt like a big city marathon (until we left downtown (yes, I call it downtown) and there were about 100 spectators the whole rest of the way).

Once the race started, it was a bit crowded, but kind of fun to run through downtown as a massive pack.  I took the opportunity to stop for a few seconds to take a couple of pictures of the crowd and just kept rolling.

the most people I've ever seen in Charlotte at a single time....ever

About to get run over

Now those of you that read this blog (the 2 or 3 of you) know one of my pet peeves is the way race organizers skimp on the porta-johns.  Unfortunately, Thunder Road was no exception. Recently, this has been a problem, as I find that both here and at the Dowd half I had to go shortly after the race started, and in the middle of the race.  The problem was solved here by some strategically placed bushes right on 4th street that others were using.  But guys, really?  Get some porta-johns.  More on that later.  So getting that out of the way, it was up 4th, which in true Charlotte style changes names for no apparent reason to Randolph road.  The funny part for me is that last year Jo and I used to bike into Charlotte when Julia was in Hebrew school on Sunday morning, and the course up to this point was pretty much our old course.  So it was interesting seeing the roads from a slightly different perspective.  We headed off Randolph onto Colville (another of our biking roads) and then onto my old nemesis, Providence road.  Now, don't get me wrong, Providence is a lovely road, and has nice houses and is interesting.  However, I've been training on this road pretty much every weekend since August, and the Dowd Half was on the exact same hilly part.  So I'm pretty tired of this road.  In fact, most of my Sunday long run preparation these days revolves around finding routes that have nothing to do with either Providence Road or Morehead Street, which again in true Charlotte fashion are really the same road, and Queens Road, whether it be West, East or any other variation of such.

The one bright spot to this road was the sign outside the Providence Sundries place, which I thought was pretty clever.
I laughed out loud at this one

The other bright spot was that the distance on Providence was mercifully short, though hilly.  We turned up on Sharon Lane and kind of did a few interesting twists and turns through some residential neighborhoods.  A highlight here was the guy that was juggling all kinds of stuff.  I talked to a friend of mine later, and he told me the guy was juggling bowling pins when he went by earlier.

Some entertainment

Hit one of the water stops to refill my bottles.  As an experiment this time around, I took 2 bottles with me on my belt, and filled up at water stops when empty.  This let me not have to worry about water was coming from, and I got to skip most of the water stops.  This one was a bit crazy.

No, that's not a riot, just a water stop
The other thing that happened here was the call of nature.  I kept looking for porta-johns, but every place there were any there were 2 and it looked like at least a 15 minute wait at each one.  I wasn't going for that.  As we were heading through one of these neighborhoods, I spied a portasomeone's front lawn.  I guess they were doing home renovations and there it was.  I went around the corner and hit it.  I ran an extra 2/10 of a mile and it was surely worth it.  No line, no wait.  Nice.

Please don't tip over on me
Shortly after this I got a picture of the woman on stilts.  I have no idea how ling she was doing this, but it was pretty cool.

After coming out of the neighborhoods, we got to the ever-present Queens Road (west this time).  Queens road is another really nice road.  It has tons of multimillion dollar homes, and has an amazing awning of huge old trees overhead, that reminds me of Commonwealth Avenue in Boston (though much hillier).  But again, I've been on this road about 100 times this year, and I need a break.

At least partway through we came past Queens University and I got to take a picture with the mascot.
No, I'm not putting my head in your mouth!
Jo on Queens Road West

Then it was the loop around Queens and down to Kings Road again.  Off Kings it was up Morehead.  I have some kind of psychological issue with Morehead.  As I'm coming around the corner, I just know it's there and I start to get tense.  The funny part is, yes it's hilly and tough, but in both the Dowd half and Thunder Road half, i pretty much just cruised up it.  Jo told me later that she gets tense at that exaact same corner too.  weird.  At least at the start of the hill there were a bunch of people with dance music blasting and they were cheering quite a bit which made it easier. It was then up the hill and then just like Dowd, we jigged over to the left and into Dilworth.

The full and half split, thank god i was following other people

I didn't realize it until later, when someone told me but this was where the full and half marathon's split.  If I hadn't been with Jo, and following other people I might've wound up in Noda on the full course!

So it was a couple of turns around the course, and back into town.  As we got towards the finish line, i got to put on a decent kick and got to actually pass a few people.

In the finish corral I saw my friend Ron cheering and I got to take a picture with him.

Got a pic with Jo, and then headed to the Dowd Y tent, where we got to pic up our "extra" medals.  If you did both the Dowd Y half and Thunder Road half you got a 26.2 extra medal.  Pretty cool.

Separated by about 40 minutes

We're done!
Double medal

As usual, I wasn't happy with my time, but what can you do.  For the most part, the DART-ers, Charlotte Running Club folks plus my friend Ron, had a pretty good day.

And Chad Randolph turned in a truly gutty run.  After straining his achillies and getting plantar fascitis halfway through the race, Chad walked the last 12 miles and still managed to come in ahead of where I would've come in.  Pretty amazing.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Race Recap: The Thunder Road Amica Half Marathon

The setback runners dread more than almost any other is an injury during the week of the race. Some runners even dial back their training to zero during that final week, just in case. I hadn't gone that far, running about 30 miles in the days leading up to the Thunder Road Half Marathon, but I was still trying to be careful. My luck held up until about 6:30 last night, less than 14 hours before the start of the race.

I wasn't running, I was chopping onions, and suddenly the knife seemed to be having a difficult time of it. I looked down and saw that I had sliced off a good tenth of an inch off the tip of my thumb! That's going to hurt, I thought to myself. The injury wasn't quite bad enough to require stitches, but it did take a swaddling of three bandages to stem the bleeding. The thumb throbbed all night, and kept me up with worry that it would distract me from the race.

As it turned out, the only major problem the injury gave me was making it harder to tie my shoes and open gel packs during the race. My alarm rang at 5:45 and I got up and had my usual pre-race meal, which is the same thing I have every day: a bowl of cereal and a glass of V8. Then I headed down to Charlotte to meet up with the other DARTers. I saw Chad Randolph (who was doing the full marathon) and Marc Hirschfield (half marathon) as I was waiting in line for the bathroom at about 7 a.m. The line wasn't moving, so I gave up. Then we tried to hunt down the other runners. We caught up with Josh Schieffer (full marathon) near the entrance to the conference center, and took the opportunity to snap some pictures:

Josh looks positively glowing in his Team Gluten-Free shirt
Marc and Chad are looking a bit unfocused. But maybe that was just the camera
I'm styling with my new race belt loaded with 3 gel packs

Shortly after that, we ran into Mark Ippolito (full marathon) and Jeff McGonnell (who was running as a pacer for the full marathon), but I had already checked the camera at that point.

About 25 minutes before race time, I stalked around the Charlotte Convention Center looking for a bathroom. All the lines looked to be at least 15 minutes long, and I didn't want to cut the start that close. I decided to risk it and head to the starting line without relieving myself -- if I couldn't hold it, I knew there would be porta-johns along the route.

One issue I had with the Thunder Road race the last time I ran it (in 2006) was that the crowd of runners pushed ahead of the designated pacers. So folks who clearly were planning a 10-minute pace were 10 yards back of the start line, while faster runners dutifully lined up where they were supposed to, 30 yards behind. I spent the first two miles swerving back and forth, passing slower runners.

This year, they seemed to have corrected the problem: The pacers were set up much closer to the starting line. My 3:30 marathon pace group (8-minute miles) was probably only 15 yards from the starting line. When the green flag waved signaling the start, everyone in my area seemed to be an honest 8-minute miler.

Mark Ippolito was in my group, but I didn't see any other DARTers during or after the race. Mark and I stayed close to the pacers for the first couple miles. After a fast (7:42) downhill first mile, they settled into a steady 8-minute pace. My goal was a 1:45 half-marathon, but I thought I might be able to do a little better. My plan was to stay at an 8-minute pace for the first 6 miles, then gradually speed up if I felt good.

At the first water-stop, about 2 miles in, I wasn't thirsty, but I made a point of grabbing some water anyways, just to stay hydrated. Normally I just toss my empty cup on the ground (since there are people on site to pick them up), but I spotted a trash can set up to the side of the course, so I ran over to it and did my good deed for the day. Unfortunately, what I didn't see, about 15 feet past the trash can, was a full table of water cups. The scene looked sort of like this:

I noticed the table in time to leap to the side and mostly avoid it, but not in time to avoid the nice woman who was running just behind me. We collided, but neither of us fell, and I apologized profusely. She said she was okay, and I hope she wasn't just being polite. Then I vowed never to throw my cup in the trash during a race again.

As planned, I kept with the pace group for miles 2 through 5: 8:00, 7:48, 7:50, 7:57. I had my second gel pack at mile 4, just after the water stop (I ate the first one 15 minutes before the race). At Spencer Mountain, I carried GU chomps, but I found them hard to chew while running, so for this race I switched to GU gels. They don't taste as good, but they're definitely easier to eat during a race!

I was feeling great at mile 5, so I decided to deviate from my plan and pick up the pace a little early. I ran mile 6 and 7 in 7:39 each. (Times are all according to my Garmin GPS). As I ran, I noticed that my GPS was getting further and further ahead the official mile stations. In the end, Garmin said the course was 13.21 miles versus 13.1 for an official half-marathon. Certainly within the margin of error, and there's no doubt I wasn't running perfect tangents. Mile 8, at 7:46, was a little slower, but had no downhill and 39 feet of uphill. At this point I figured I was well over a minute ahead of my pace goal. I amused myself by attempting to calculate my pace based on the official mile markers, and even with the GPS issues, I was still well ahead of my goal.

The gel at 4 miles had left a nasty aftertaste, so I made a point of eating my next gel just before the 8-mile water station. Mile 9 was 7:45, even with a fair amount of downhill. I was starting to feel tired, but with just 4.1 miles left, I thought I could maintain this aggressive pace.

Miles 10 and 11 went by at 7:48 and 7:50. A little slower than I had been running, but they were also a little hillier. Just 2.1 miles to go!

I knew there was a long, gradual uphill at the end of mile 12 and the beginning of mile 13. If I could keep it up through that hill, I'd be golden. Fortunately, at the bottom of the hill there was a fantastic group of people cheering us on, and a live MC was rapping to a funky beat played on a loudspeaker. I did a couple of fist pumps to the rhythm, and the crowd responded enthusiastically, egging me on. It was just what I needed to make it up the hill. My split on Mile 12 was 7:56. Mile 13, half downhill, with the finish nearly in sight, went faster: 7:41. Only one tenth of a mile to go as we rounded the final corner!  A runner tried to sprint past me, but I kept up with him stride for stride, and we both cruised across the finish line at nearly a 4-minute pace. My pace for what Garmin called the final 0.21 miles was 6:59.

My unofficial time: 1:42:55. That's two minutes below my target pace. It's also my personal best for a half-marathon—my time in 2006 was 1:51:59, so I was over nine minutes better! For 13.1 miles, that corresponds to a pace of 7:51 per mile. The course was far from flat, with a total elevation gain of 551 feet and loss of 622. Here's what I looked like after the race:

As I mentioned, I didn't see any DARTers after the race, but I'll post their results (and my official results) as soon as they are available. A fun run on a perfect day. Even my thumb feels better now!

Update: The results are in! My self-timed 1:42:55 matches quite well with the official chip time of 1:42:56. Officially I was 38th out of 245 men in my division (age 40-44). I was 303rd overall (out of 3,226).

Here are results for other DARTers. Let me know if I missed anyone:
  • Marc Hirschfield (1/2): 2:19:02
  • Mark Ippolito (full): 3:28:23
  • Josh Schieffer (full): 4:12:39
  • Tim Richter (full): 3:14:39
  • Jeff McGonnell (full-pacer): 4:13:15
  • Terry Ake (1/2): 1:50:46
  • Rodney Graham (full): 3:36:33
  • Adam Mayes (1/2): 1:21:51 (12th overall!)
  • Chad Randolph (full): 5:11:48 [Sadly, that is not a typo. I'm checking with Chad to find out what happened]
Congrats to all!

My Garmin plot of the race

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

No Wolf Spider Run Dec. 9, 2010

A quick note that Thursday's Wolf Spider Trail Run has been canceled due to many DARTers being in 'taper' mode for Saturday's Thunder Road races in Charlotte.

Chad R.
Davidson Area Running Team

Monday, December 6, 2010

Regular Davidson Area Running Team Runs

The Davidson Area Running Team has four regular runs. All runs meet at the CVS in downtown Davidson, NC. Please park on the street as the CVS is open every day and parking is for customers only. Traditionally after each run we head across the street to Summit Coffee for refreshments/relaxation. In the fall/winter months, it's advisable to wear reflective clothing and / or a headlamp for the 6 a.m. runs. For the Wolf Spider run, some sort of illumination is mandatory.

1. Tuesdays, 6 a.m. 4 to 6 miles. Most runners typically opt for 6 miles, roughly an 8-minute mile pace. But paces vary, and we accommodate all. Route Map (4 mi) Route Map (6 mi)

2. Wednesdays, 6 a.m. 4 to 6 miles. Same as Tuesdays

3. Thursdays, 6:00 p.m. The Wolf Spider Run. This is a trail run (in the dark, in fall/winter). A nice, wide hard-packed gravel trail, 5 to 6 miles.

4. Sundays, 7 a.m. 8+ miles. The Sunday run varies based on who shows up and what the training goals are. Often there are a variety of interests, so on a typical day, two runners might be doing 15 miles, and 4 might be doing 10.

All runs meet rain or shine, with few exceptions. If you want to have a fun, casual training run at your pace, this is the place!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

No Wolf Spider Run Dec. 2, 2010

A quick note that tonight's Wolf Spider Trail Run has been canceled due to the Christmas in Davidson event.

Chad R.
Davidson Area Running Team

Monday, November 29, 2010

Race Recap: Williams Route 66 Marathon

DARTers Todd H. and Bobby A. recently returned from the Williams Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, OK.  Todd recounts his experience below:

"Marathon number nine in 2010 would result in a having a good time but not posting a fast running time. Leading up to this marathon the previous three weekends consisted of running the Ridge To Bridge Marathon, the Dowd Half Marathon, and the Spencer Mountain 10 miler. I really enjoy running these races and did not want to miss any of them. In exchange for running so many races I am forced to listen to fellow runners tell me how I should taper and focus on one race.

Route 66 was a great race in terms of amenities. Excellent pre-race meal that included bus transportation from hotel and live music afterwards. Day of race was well organized with easy drop bag tents, starting corrals and plenty of bathrooms. The course was well marked with great aid stations with Gatorade, Gu, and lots of live music on the course. Did not love the half marathoners running with us but not that big of a deal.

At the start I enjoyed standing with and speaking to Charlotte-area veteran runners Bobby Aswell and Tim Rhodes. I had no business standing with them at the front of the start line but enjoyed the conversation and would try to keep them in sight for at least 50 feet or so after the gun went off!

I set out to run this marathon in around the same time that I ran Ridge to Bridge three weeks earlier. I ran a 3:24 at R2B and felt I could repeat and hopefully improve on that performance. Waking up to temperatures in the mid-60's with high humidity I knew that this would be a tough race. Add in a day filled with strong winds ideal for a day of sailing or flying a kite and my plan to run a 3:20 would quickly vanish. If the marathon was changed from 26 to 17 or 18 miles then I would have made my goal as I ran strong up to that point. After 17 miles of heavy winds and high humidity resulting in dripping wet, sweat filled clothing my body was zapped. I gutted out the final miles, looking like a first time marathoner as I received countless words of encouragement from bystanders that all sounded the same. 'You can do this!', 'Don't quit as you are almost there!'.  I prefer to hear such statements that include 'Looking great!', or 'Nice pace!'.  No such luck as I looked tired and worn.

I crossed the line in 3 hours and 35 minutes and was happy to have finished. I crossed off another state in my goal to run all 50 states and was happy to have completed my ninth marathon of the year. One unique part of this race was the clydesdale divisions (based upon weight). They not only had a clydesdale division but they also had five different clydesdale divisions. I won my clydesdale division despite running a sub-par performance for my potential. Fellow Charlotte runners also picked up some hardware as Tim placed 3rd Masters with a 3:07 and Bobby placed second in his age group with a 3:16.

A great thing about running a marathon practically every month is that I will get a chance to run faster with hopefully better temperatures and less wind in the very near future. For those of you considering Route 66 I would strongly recommend this race. Glad I went to Oklahoma as the race was well run and the people in Oklahoma could not have been friendlier."

Way to go, Todd, Bobby, and Tim!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

DART Thanksgiving Day Run

If you'd like to burn some calories before the Big Meal/Big Nap this Thanksgiving, meet in front of CVS in downtown Davidson at 7:30am on Thursday for a casual and scenic 10-mile run up to Fisher Farm via the defunct Abersham subdivision and back. For more details send an email to Dave at

You now have another option!  Ashley will be leading a group out Washam Potts Rd. and back to CVS for about seven miles.  As with the other run, meet in front of CVS in Davidson.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: Rudy Project Horus prescription glasses

People often don't believe me when I tell them how bad my eyesight is. If I'm not wearing my glasses, I have difficulty recognizing faces even 5 feet away. I just can't see without corrective lenses. This is a problem when it comes to competitive sports. For years as a skier I never wore goggles; it was simply too uncomfortable to wear them over my glasses, but this meant that on sunny days I was subjected to potentially damaging UV radiation. Finally a few years ago I found a site called, which sells prescription eyewear for a number of sports.

Unfortunately, it took a while for me to figure out the sorts of things that work and don't work. What categorically doesn't work for me is, predictably, the most common solution: A clip-on prescription insert in non-prescription eyewear. This just means there are twice as many surfaces to fog up or get dirty. For skiing I eventually settled on contact lenses, but this doesn't work for me when I run. After an hour or so of heavy exertion, the lenses just pop out.

So, a couple months ago I decided to seek out prescription sunglasses designed specifically for aerobic exercise. This led me back to They have a page of glasses recommended for runners. What's particularly useful about this site is that it tells you exactly what prescription is available for each pair of glasses. In my case, since I knew I didn't want a clip-on solution, there was exactly one pair that would work in my prescription: Rudy Project Horus glasses.

The site allows you to order directly, if you have a current prescription. I did not, so I went to my optometrist for a check-up. They told me they could order the glasses directly from the manufacturer and avoid the website. This also allowed me to apply my insurance discount to the glasses. In the end, the price was similar, but this way I supported a local business, so I decided that was preferable. After two weeks, the glasses arrived. Here's what they look like on me:

Or rather, I should say that's what they look like when it's sunny out. I opted for a pair with transitions lenses, which are tinted in the sunlight and clear indoors or in in the dark. I definitely wanted to be able to wear these glasses for early-morning runs in the fall and winter when it can be very dark. There were several transition options, and I picked the option that was less-tinted in daylight and completely clear in the dark. Another option would have been to go from a light tint to a dark tint — there is no product that goes from completely clear to extremely dark tint.

I've now tried them out in a variety of conditions: Sun, dark, cold, rain, and I can say they work great. I can see perfectly, with a wide field of view, and they don't generally fog up while I am running. On cold days, if I stop for a break during a hard run, they do sometimes fog up, but this typically lasts only a minute or so. Since they are perfectly clear indoors, I often wear them inside after runs while cooling off and surfing the web, and they work just as well as my regular glasses. It's even possible to get these glasses fitted with bifocals. I'm holding out for a few more years before I get those, even though it's already sometimes difficult for me to read my Garmin on dark morning runs.

There is no problem with the glasses sliding around or coming loose in any way during runs; they always stay exactly where I put them. I've even been complimented on their good looks.

I highly recommend them for runners who can't use contact lenses and, like me, have extremely poor vision.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Race Recap: The Spencer Mountain 9.78 miler

Here's Dave Munger's recap of today's Spencer Mountain 10-miler. 

It was a gorgeous day for a highly-anticipated race today. We were all prepared for a challenging 10-mile course. What we got was a very challenging 9.78 mile course, but more on that later.

I rode in with Todd, Jeremy, and Chad, and we met up with Wayne at the race start. Chad offered to give us a quick preview of the course, and we drove about 2.5 miles backwards from the finish line to check out the notorious 276-vertical-foot climb we'd be facing at the end of the race. It turned out to be worthwhile, because we could see that the worst stretch of the hill was just a half mile long. If we could make it through that, the course leveled out and then finished on the downslope.

The registration process was a bit disorganized, and ended up taking nearly 30 minutes. But everyone got their packets in time for the race, if not in time to take a relaxed warm-up run. Included were some excellent shirts and a few other goodies. The race was timed by chip by Run For Your Life, and results were displayed very promptly at the end of the race. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Dave Munger, Wayne Eckert, Todd Hartung, Jeremy Alsop, and Chad Randall after the race

As we lined up for the race, the lead police car moved forward, and the mass of runners followed. Eventually the starting line seemed to move about 50 yards forward of where, according to Chad, it traditionally was. Finally the race started, with no gun and a minimum of fuss. My plan was to take it relatively easy for the first few miles, which were slightly downhill, saving my energy for the large rolling hills midrace, and the 275-foot monster at the end. I wanted to average better than 8 minute miles, for a total time of 1:20.

Dave Munger
Running side by side with Chad, the two of us reeled off a 7:28 and a 7:36, which was just a touch fast for me, so somewhere in Mile 3 I decided to let Chad go. Mile 3 was still a 7:43 for me. Then the confusion began. When we passed the official Mile 4 marker, my GPS indicated I had only run 3.8 miles. Chad later told me that the race traditionally had an extra two block loop tagged onto it in Mile 4. But everyone ran the same course, so I guess it was a fair result. Each successive mile marker was off by the same amount on my GPS, so I think the only major problem with the course was in Mile 4. This is why, at the end of the race, I had logged only 9.75 miles, not 10. Mile 5 had the first major hill, but I stayed strong and still ran the mile in 7:51, staying under my target pace. During mile 5 I attempted my first in-race consumption of GU Chomps, which have been a staple of my training regimen. But during training, we always stopped for a rest to fuel up. I found it difficult to manage my breathing while chewing up the Chomps, which are sort of like gumdrops. I may have to try some other sort of fuel for my next race.

Jeremy Alsop sports his second-in-age-group medal
At the 4-mile water stop, there was another small gaffe. As I approached the station, the pack of runners cleared off the table. A woman then walked around the back of the table, I thought to hand me another cup of water, but as I reached out to grab it, she told me it was empty! She was actually headed to the cooler to fill it up. Alas!
Miles 6 (7:48) and 7 (8:14) also featured fairly large hills, and the runners around me kept passing me on the uphill, only to be passed again by me on the flat hilltops, a cycle we repeated several times. Interesting how everyone has a slightly different strategy on hills. I tend to slow down during the actual hill, then speed up as the hill flattens out, and try to maintain that speed on the downhills. Others, it seems, slack off a bit at the top of a hill to make up for the extraordinary effort they made to race to the top.
Todd Hartung, wearing the very nice tech shirt each runner was given in his or her packet.
Wayne Eckert
At the end of Mile 7 I realized that we were approaching the Big One, and so I slowed down a bit to make sure I was fresh for the final hill. Because we had driven the hill before the race, I knew the steep part of the hill was only a half mile long. We hit it at just about 7.2 miles in, so I knew things would get better at around mile 7.7. I gave it all I could, but a few runners passed me on the hill. Finally I made it to the slightly less steep section near the top, and I picked up my pace, passing the others one more time. I completed Mile 8 in 9:13. I had pretty much cashed in all the time I racked up at the beginning of the race and was now averaging quite close to my overall goal of 8 minute miles. But Mile 8 involved a climb of 244 vertical feet. There were just 31 vertical feet of climbing after that, followed by a hundred-foot descent to the finish. I was spent from the climb, but I managed to hang on, completing Mile 9 in 7:52 and Mile 10 in about a 7:40 pace. This was slower than the other runners around me, who had apparently saved a bit more for the finish. I was passed by at least 5 or 6 runners in that final mile.

My official finish time was 1:17:17, ostensibly a 7:44 pace, which would be well under my target time. In fact the race was 9.78 miles. My GPS recorded 9.75, for a 7:57 pace. But since I forgot to stop the timer for about 15 seconds after the finish, I gave myself credit for a 7:56 pace--well under my target!
Chad Randolph
The other DART runners had awesome days as well. Jeremy Alsop finished 15th overall, and 2nd in his 20-29 age group, with a time of 1:07:19, officially a 6:44 pace. Todd Hartung was 20th (4th in the 40-49 age group), at 1:09:51, a 7:00 pace. Chad Randolph was 24th (6th in the 40-49 age group), at 1:11:47, a 7:11 pace. My 1:17:17 was good for 47th, (13th in the 40-49 age group), and Wayne Eckert came in at 1:21:01, 58th overall (10th in the 50-59 age group). 

The official paces were based on a 10-mile race, and it was quite clear that this race wasn't really ten miles. So if you want to know our "real" paces, you'll have to add about 10 seconds to the per-mile pace. That's a little frustrating, when most runners judge their performance by average pace. Still, it was a beautiful day for a run, and our entire group was satisfied with their performance. Here's the full race results.

Here's the elevation profile I recorded on my GPS: a total climb of 646 feet.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Race Recap: City of Oaks Marathon

DARTer Matt Williams, along with DARTers Terry Ake and Tim Richter recently completed the City of Oaks Marathon in Raleigh, NC.  Below Matt recaps his experience.  To check out all of Matt's posts, to go Matt's blog.  Great job, guys!

The Whole Marathon

The City of Oaks Marathon is coupled with a half marathon which probably had three times as many runners, something over 2000. A race photographer was getting some candid shots at the starting area. I asked him to get a picture of my two running buddies and me. We lined up and he took the shot and then said, "That's great. And wow, you guys are doing the whole marathon!"
We promptly found our way to a comfortable spot fairly near the front of the pack. Each of us had different time goals. Although I knew Tim, my main running partner for this training, was capable of keeping up with me, he wanted to run a bit more conservatively. His BQ goal was about 20 minutes slower than mine, so he had less pressure.
With little fanfare, we were off. My plan was to stay as close to the 7:20 pace for as long as possible with a BQ goal of 7:26 overall pace. The first six miles took us through downtown Raleigh and around the state capitol before heading west. The hills through this section were short and rolling. And because it was early in the race they were not difficult. I had eaten one gel a little before the start, and took another just before mile 6. I also took water or sports drink at each station. I liked doing that because I never got majorly thirsty and didn't feel like I had to gulp down a lot each time. A few ounces every two miles was plenty without getting the sloshy stomach.
The first six mile splits were 7:23, 7:13, 7:11, 7:18, 7:26, 7:31. Predominantly uphill miles make themselves obvious.
There were not a lot of spectators, just a few pockets here and there. And then there was the occasional random person alone, giving supportive words as runners went by. One such spectator offered me the words every marathoner at about mile 8 hopes to hear, "Enjoy your day!" Heh, yea, maybe in about 18 more miles.
Miles 6 - 12 were uneventful and less hilly: 7:20, 7:23, 7:14, 7:16, 7:17, 7:11.
The next three miles were primarily uphill. I had taken a Gu in preparation for this and it powered me past several fading runners. Fortunately it allowed me make a final pass of one particular guy that had been passing me on downhills and falling back on uphills. The worst thing he did was cut right in front of me in order to get to a gel packet hand-off. He did so just as I was taking a drink of water and caused me to inhale instead of swallow and thus I was coughing and hacking for the next quarter mile. But I'm a nice guy - especially if you're behind me - so I let it go.
At the top of that hill my amazing wife and three children were waiting to cheer me on. "Go Daddy Go!" I was on a high - partly because I had finished a long climb and partly because I felt good and was about to hit mile 15. At this point the course entered Umstead State Park and changed from roads to trails. It is a wide, smooth trail of fine gravel and lined by fall colored trees. In fact, while riding the high and hitting a long downhill I hit my fastest mile.

Just before mile 15, feeling good.
At the bottom of that I crossed a bridge over a creek and then hit a wall. Not "the wall," but a very steep, short climb. Ouch. But it leveled out and eventually went back down for a bit. A little after the 17 mile mark, The Climb began. Except for a couple of short sections that either leveled or went downhill, The Climb lasted for the next 4 miles. I suppose if you were to go for a 5 or 6 mile run that included this section it would not be so bad, but doing it after 17 previous not-so-flat miles was a challenge. One web site course review claimed that this hill brought him to a walk.
Miles 13 - 18 splits: 7:19, 7:30, 7:19, 7:03 (fastest), 7:30. My overall average was right about 7:20 at this point.
I ate a mint chocolate gu just before The Climb, again timing the gels well. I never like to drop my trash just anywhere, I usually hold it until a water station, sometimes changing which hand is holding it. A few minutes after eating it I look at my hands and they have chocolate all over them. I didn't empty the packet very well and managed to squeeze the remainder out without knowing it. I tried to lick some of it off but couldn't get them very clean. I avoided wiping them on my white top. When the trail exited the park there was a water station where I managed to drink a little and use the rest to rinse my hands.
At that park exit there was a barricade that we were funneled around and then the water station volunteers lined a narrow path just after. I started thinking, "Sweet, this is just like a finish line. I can stop now." But I couldn't and didn't. There was a short downhill but the climbing was far from over. My pace slowed as did a few other runners that I managed to pass. Near the end of this climb I again saw my wife and kids cheering me on. Some more "Go Daddy Go!" shouts are just what I needed to get the rest of the way up The Climb. They were such troopers to drive around and wait in the cold for me to run by.

Around mile 20, feeling not as good.
Miles 19 - 22 (end of climb) splits: 7:24, 7:44, 7:33, 7:29. The overall average was rising, 7:22 now.
I turned left onto Hillsborough (the least hilly road) for the remaining miles which were primarily flat and downhill. But thank goodness that left turn yielded a headwind to keep these miles from being easy. My legs were beginning to complain more and more at this point. My quads and calves were saying, "Stop! Walk! Please?" I passed some half-marathon walkers who were just happily going along, chatting with their friends and enjoying themselves. Some would shout encouraging words as I went by. I just wanted to see the next right turn which meant less wind, downhill and the last 2 miles.
I made that right turn, and tried to pick up the pace on the downhill, but the legs were not having it. I looked at my time and calculated that if I could just keep it under 8 minute miles I should be able to make the 3:15 time goal. I had not stopped or walked once so far, but my legs were winning their desire to walk. Just after mile 25, on a slight uphill, I gave in and walked, but only for a few seconds. "Just keep running," I thought. I noticed my stride had majorly shortened. I was doing more of a shuffle and could only manage a 9:30+ minute pace. Another short rise in the road and I slowed to a walk again. I didn't care about the BQ time anymore. Ok, maybe I did, but these short little uphills were hurting me badly.
Miles 23 - 25: 7:35, 7:36, 7:50. My average pace had already crept up to about 7:25.
Then I heard a voice from behind. I recognized it without looking. It was my running partner Tim shouting, "Come on Matt! You can still do it!" I glanced back and started to run again. It hurt, but I knew I had to give it everything I could. Tim soon came up beside me and said, "I'm not passing you. You're going to do this." We pushed around the last couple of turns and even passed another runner. Tim reminded me that the Boston Qualification has the 59 second grace, so I had until 3:15:59 to qualify.
We reached the top of the downhill finish. One -half mile to go, downhill. My Garmin time was 3:11:38. I felt like I was flying. The pace was not necessarily super fast, but I was giving it all I had. My mind went back to the 800 meter track workouts. My legs would scream to stop on those. "Just slow down," they would say. But I couldn't and didn't. The marker for mile 26 went by - less than a quarter mile. I could see the banner over the finish line.
Mile 26 split was 7:57. It included the walking, but the downhill balanced it out.
The crowds started cheering as we got closer to the finish. I saw my wife and kids again. I think I was happy, but there was too much pain to realize it or show it. I was entirely focused on crossing that timing mat and of course, stopping my Garmin. Tim, who was obviously feeling a bit better than me, must have thought some more crowd cheering would help. He pumped his arms and shouted to the crowd, "The two best looking guys right here!" They loved it and cheered louder.
A few weeks ago, Tim and I had agreed that we did not need to run together in this marathon. I had said we may be together for a while, but will split up at some point. I even said, "I don't feel like we have to cross the finish line holding hands." Instead, we did not run together for almost the whole marathon until the last ten minutes. We crossed the finish line side by side.

Tim and I bringing it home.
The last two tenths of a mile were at a 7:10 pace. My official finish time was3:15:13 for an overall average pace of 7:26. Immediately after crossing Tim said, "You did it! You got that BQ!" We hugged for a second and got our medals.
I could barely walk and laid down on the first patch of grass I found. A race volunteer said, "You don't want to do that. Keep moving." She pulled me up and Tim helped me hobble to the food tent where I grabbed a water. I slowly walked around, saw my wife and kids again and began to take it in. It was done. I had finished the whole marathon. Some water, half of a banana (shouldn't whole marathoners get a whole banana?), and two pieces of pizza later and I was feeling better.
My wife got me in line for a massage. It hurt, but helped. The best part about it was simply being able to lay down.

On the massage table.
After that I met back up with Tim and Terry, our other running partner who beat his time goal of 4 hours by about 8 minutes. He looked great.

Matt, Terry and Tim, the Whole Marathoners.

The kids who helped me through with their "Go Daddy Go!" shouting.
When I first considered attempting for a BQ I had calculated the needed pace of 7:26. I thought about that number a lot. My work computer password has 7:26 in it. I would even do a double take if a digital clock read 7:26. A couple of recent races and long runs had me thinking this pace would be attainable, maybe even beatable. But the course drive through we did the day before and the hills we discovered had me worried. I knew I needed to aim for 7:20 and hope that I'd have a little time to spare if troubles came. That is exactly what happened. I wonder if I had just run with Tim would I have felt stronger at the end. He probably had more even splits overall. Regardless, I finished with that 7:26 and that BQ.