Sunday, October 31, 2010

Race Recap: Huntersville Fall Harvest 5K

DARTer Dave Munger ran the Huntersville Fall Harvest 5K yesterday. Here's his recap (which was also posted on his blog):

At the last minute yesterday I decided I wanted to do a 5K this weekend, and the Huntersville Fall Harvest 5K fit the bill. It's a relatively flat course, near where I live, and the weather was slated to be perfect -- about 40 degrees at race time. I'm starting a new training program as I get ready to run my first-ever marathon, and when I'm doing speed work like intervals, etc., the program specifies that I should be running at 5K race pace.

Since I feel like I've improved a lot since my last 5K in the spring, it seemed like a good idea to run a new one. In that last race, the Bare Bones 5K in Salisbury, I ran a 23:55, which works out to about 7:42 per mile. Today I was thinking I might be able to run about as fast as 7:15 per mile. The plan was to start at that 7:15 pace, then see if I could hang on until the finish.

At the start we all crowded onto Verhoeff Dr., a two-lane rural highway that had been closed off by the local police. As we waited for the start, the last few racers from the 10K that had started an hour and a half earlier were heading to the finish, which involved them making their way through the crowd of 5K runners. Fortunately, the 5K racers were very polite, parting like the Red Sea and giving each 10K racer a hearty round of applause.

At the start, there was no bullhorn, just a guy with a gun, but that did the trick, and we were off, running through the beautiful, semi-rural course. The first mile was downhill, and a lot of folks started aggressively, including me. At the one mile marker, I felt good, and I made it in 6:57, faster than I had planned. Then the course turned uphill. If I was going to hit my target time, I needed to maintain my pace heading uphill. The hill was quite gentle, even more gradual than some of the flattest portions of my daily training run, so it really wasn't too bad. I think I passed at least 20 runners on mile 2, which I finished in 7:14 -- still on pace! All I had to do now was hang on to the end. I passed another few runners at the start of mile 3, which was still slightly uphill. I could feel myself starting to tire a bit at the end of mile 3, and a couple runners passed me. I tried to stay with them, but I wanted to make sure I didn't kill myself and not run strong through the finish, so in the end I had to let them go. Mile 3 was finished in 7:16 -- slightly off pace, but not bad. All that was left was around 2 tenths of a mile -- the race website lists the race as 3.2 miles, even though a true 5K would be 3.1. I ran strong to the finish, finishing just behind the two guys who passed me in that last mile.

Unofficial finish time: 22:14. I can't remember ever doing a 5K faster -- does that make it a P.R.? That's a pace of 7:06 per mile -- even better than my target pace! Yes indeed, that is a bit of smug self-satisfaction you're detecting just now. A great way to start the weekend!

I don't think the official results have been posted yet; I'll try to link to them when they are. If you're interested, here's the GPS record of my race

Update: The results have been posted here. I finished 23rd out of 330 runners, and I was fourth in my age group. As it turned out, those two guys who passed me in the last mile were in my age group, so if I had managed to hold them off, I would have finished second. As it was, I was two seconds out of second place, and eight seconds out of first place in my age group.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Extra! Extra! DART Makes the News

Charlotte-area runner and writer for the Charlotte Observer Théoden Janes recently profiled me and the Davidson Area Running Team on his all-things-related-to-running blog.

To read about me and DART go to:

Chad R.
Davidson Area Running Team

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Race Recap: New River Trail 50k

Near the start/finish line
A Cult Classic
Last Saturday I was joined by fellow DARTers Bobby and Jeremy for the third occasion of the New River Trail 50k in Fries, VA.  While no strangers to marathons and ultras, this was their first time for this particular race.  I've run it since its inception and quite frankly it's my favorite 50k.  Race director and ultrarunner Annette Bednosky and her fine crew of volunteers put on a solid yet low-key event and the weather's always been ideal.  This year was no exception with the starting temp around forty degrees and not a cloud in the sky.  While still a little early, leaves were beginning to change on the trees.

Philosophy in Action
It's not often that pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus gets mentioned in blogs about running, but in this case it seems appropriate.  Heraclitus is known for his summation of the universe in that the only thing that's constant is change.  Put more imaginatively, "You cannot step in the same river twice."  My plan for this year's New River Trail 50k was to disprove Heraclitus in that I pretty much wanted to duplicate 2009's results in both finish time and exertion.  Last year my time was 4:23:28 and I would have been happy to be close to that this time around.  Last year I started out conservatively and slowly upped my average pace in order to have some energy left over for the last half and that was my plan for this year.

Bobby and Jeremy are both established runners and are faster than me, so I wasn't worried about them even though Bobby was nursing a foot injury and Jeremy was coming off a flu-like virus.  They lined up near the front of the pack while I found a comfortable spot in the middle.

Paint By Numbers
The race traverses along a rails-to-trails section of the New River and Chestnut Creek between Fries and Galax, VA and was characterized by a wide, hard-packed dirt road.  There were several small trestles, one long trestle, and a short but dark train tunnel that made the scenery all the more interesting.  While the elevation change was negligible overall, there were certain advantages to be made on the latter half of the run, specifically miles 16-26, which were gently down river.

First half slightly upriver, second half down river (elev. in green)
Smack dab in the middle of the New River Trail State Park
The race was relatively uneventful for me - one foot in front of the other, left/right/repeat.  While I'm used to seeing runners of both genders stepping off the course and relieving themselves, they usually hide well enough to leave something to the imagination.  One female runner, I'll call her Fanny, apparently couldn't hold it in and treated me to a full moon about five feet off the trail in broad daylight.  She pretended I wasn't there and vice versa.  Chin up, eyes forward.

My average per mile was significantly better than last year's though I didn't feel that I was putting in any extra effort.  So my casual goal of getting under 4:20 looked reachable.

Both years trend similarly
As with most ultras the finish was anticlimactic, as there was a span of several minutes between the finishers in front and behind me.  Some nice cheering by the event staff and a high-five from Annette and my race was done.  I looked at my watch and discovered that not only had I beaten last year's time but also dipped well below 4:20, finishing in 4:12:18, which was a new 50k P.R.

Heraclitus was right after all; I didn't have the same race as last year (fortunately it was better).  What was different this time around?  After the race I sat in the New River to soak my legs in the cool waters like I did last year and gave it some thought.  I decided that the only difference was that I've become a better runner over the course of a year and thus was able to maintain a faster pace.
(l to r) Jeremy Alsop, Bobby Aswell, and me at the finish 
Annette Bednosky and me at the finish
Chad R.
Davidson Area Running Team

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wolf Spider Trail Run

I'm planning on adding a new event to our weekly DART runs that will cover an evening run, a trail run, and a night run all in one.  I'm calling it the Wolf Spider Trail Run and it will take place on a weeknight (day and time yet to be determined) on local cross country trails.  It will be a headlamp-required run of about five miles, all on the gentle dirt trails.  Why Wolf Spider?  Stay tuned!

Chad R.
Davidson Area Running Team

Made you look!