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.

Monday, November 8, 2010

DARTer Marc Hirschfield and his wife Jo recap their experience at the Dowd YMCA half marathon last weekend. Here's his report (which he also posted on his blog):

Monday, November 8, 2010

mmmmm......shiny medal

What motivates a distance runner?  Is it the accomplishment?  Is it the competition? Is it something in their makeup that pushes them onward?  What keeps them going through mile after mile as their bodies scream out "stop, you're killing me here"?  What makes them get up on a cold Saturday morning when most people are sleeping comfortably in bed to go out and run 13, 26, 50, 100 miles?

Motivation has always been my friend and enemy.  Sometimes I'll think about a marathon and just want to go do 1 or 2 or even 3 in a row, just to do it.  Sometimes, the thought of finishing and getting a medal has driven me onwards.  At least once when training for a NY marathon, the fact that I had raised $2,500 for the Sloan Kettering Children's Cancer center pushed me on, knowing that people had given me money to go out and do it, and I couldn't let them down.  During the Steamtown marathon, seeing all the people who had dropped out and were sitting on the side of the road waiting for the sag wagon pushed me on, just thinking about how horrible it would be to sit there for 2 hours to wait until the roads opened to be brought back to the finish line.  I realized i could get there faster even if I had to walk some of it.

On the other hand, sometimes motivation is fickle.  I can think of tons of times doing a training run of 18, when i got to 15 and just couldn't go on anymore.  I'll never forget running the Queens half marathon in the early 2000's and myself and a friend of mine talked each other into dropping out halfway through.  I've never forgotten doing that, and it's honestly haunted me ever since.  It actually placed the idea in my head forever after that it would be OK to drop out.  There's that little voice in your head that says it's no big deal.

Every time I train for a marathon, I find the actual training to be the worst part.  I get worn down and as the time goes on the aches and pains start to add up, and don't go away.  The real marathon is the training, staying healthy with no prolonged sicknesses, avoiding major injuries and keeping the minor injuries minor.

As usual, I injured myself this training season.  I fell about a week ago and hurt my ribs.  In addition to the fact that it hurts to run, and breathe heavily, it's really hard to sleep since every turn makes it hurt.  So I'm worn down.  But I can't stop now, there's a marathon in January with a Mickey Mouse medal at the finish line.

I took Tuesday off, but was back at it Wednesday.  Due to the pain, and not knowing how I'd react, I skipped my weekly run with the Davidson Area Running Team and hit the treadmill at work.  I managed 6.5 slow and painful miles, but I did it.  I got in another 4 Thursday.

Which brings me to Saturday.  Weeks ago, thinking (perhaps foolishly) that I'd be healthy, I signed up for the Dowd 1/2 Marathon.  And yes, part of the reason (besides the fact that it fits into my training program, and it's easier to run with other people) is that there is a medal.  In fact there's sort of 3 medals.  There's 1 for the Dowd 1/2, another 1 for the Thunder Road Half, and a special 3rd medal if you finish both.

Also, Jo had signed up for the race so we could do it together.  So I didn't see so much that I had a choice.  Plus I convinced myself that it would be like at least 2 of the marathons that i ran injured.  Just go out and see what happens.  

We woke up early, to quite a chilly morning in Charlotte-30 degrees.  My comment:   "If I wanted to be this cold I could've stayed in NY."  We headed down to the Dowd in downtown.  Luckily, it was a Saturday and the Y opened at 7, so we got to sit inside and stay warm and stretch (and hit the bathroom repeatedly).  Right  before the race started we headed outside with all the other folks.  Based on the turnout I'd say this is one of the big distance runs in Charlotte.  Quite a few people. We were all jammed into a side road next to the Y, until the go signal, and off we went.  

Jo and I brought our full water bottles with us, since it's easier to get water on a long run when you need it as opposed to when it's available.  So we had our water, gu, and in my case, sports beans, which rattled the entire way as I ran.

I tried to keep it a little bit slower than my normal pace, since I knew there was a long road ahead.  I seem to be able to slow down OK, but Jo was having a hard time governing her speed a bit, and was trying not to race ahead.  It's hard at the start of a race not to get pulled along with all the other people, but I just kept saying that we'd wind up passing a lot of these folks as long as we took it easy.

Considering how cold I was at the start, I warmed up pretty quickly.  By halfway through the second mile, I was already starting to be warm.  I was a bit concerned that I was overdressed, but as the race went along, the wind picked up and we cooled back off.

Bingham signs about 5 times during the run.  I guess they cut through.  As we got to the last mile, I was expecting to go right up the hill and finish at the Y, but there was one last surprise.  Right before the Y, we made a left and went rambling a little bit before coming back to the Y.

About 1/2 mile from the finish, a pair of women who had been going back and forth with us, tried to pass us, to finish ahead of us.  I was having none of that, and put it on to finish.  Jo's comment was "now you're going to speed up?", but I was motivated by the fact that I ran the whole way, while these women ran fast ahead, then walked to fall behind all day.  I wanted the medal and childishly wanted to finish ahead of them, which we did.

We got our shiny medals, which now just motivates me for the Thunder road and my 2 more medals. 

The rib was painful at first, but loosened up, but towards the last 2 miles, really started to tighten up and hurt.  Had to go home and take some pain meds, and woke up pretty sore Sunday.  Still managed to run 6 on Sunday though, even though it was quite painful.

On to the next goal.

Got my shiny medal

Friday, November 5, 2010

8K, 5K, 10K...Ouch! -- Marc's long weekend

DARTer Marc Hirschfield participated in the Mooresville 8K and the NODA 5K last weekend. Here's his report (which he also posted on his blog):
The town of Mooresville had it's annual Halloween 8K (what is it with 8k as a distance anyways?  it's.....weird) this weekend an due to the fact that I actually read the Mooresville newspaper a few weeks ago I was fired up and ready to go.  However, a week ago a co-worker gave me the link to the NODAween 5K happening in NODA, Saturday night.  Faced with the choice of these 2 races, I decided both!  My training program had a step back week for this week, and I only had to do 6 on Saturday and 8 on Sunday.  I decided to switch up the days and do the 8 on Saturday with the 8K + 5K making a almost perfect 8 miles.

The Mooresville race is decidedly lower tech than most races.  There was no online entry form so I had to show up extra early and sign up.  The other funny thing was, that in this age of technology, there were no chips.  When you crossed the finish line you had to rip off the bottom of your bib and that was your finish tag. Haven't had that experience in quite some time.

As we lined up in front of the Mooresville Recreation department (which I only found because my daughter had swim team there this past year), I ran into people I knew.  The first person was someone I knew from taking spin class at the YMCA.  The second, Wendy, I knew from daily mile.  I knew she'd be there and I recognized her from her picture.  It was interesting actually meeting someone that you know only from online. 

Overall the race was great.  Not too hilly. Temps were good.  I went into the race planning on just taking it easy since I had a 5K later in the day.  Went out pretty good, kept it going, and just had fun.  It was a beautiful fall day.  I was running down a road with the leaves falling and the smell of fireplaces in the air and wished I had a camera with me to take a picture.  Overall just a good time.  I finished in just over 47 minutes, which wasn't bad considering I was taking it easy.  And the fact that I had the neighbors Halloween party the night before and was exhausted. As a bonus I got a $15 gift card to Road ID, which I used as soon as I got home to get Jo a new Road ID for her new shoes.

The only picture I have from the Mooresville 8K

I went home, hung out for a few hours, made some cookies and treats for the kids Halloween party and headed back out to go to NODA.

For those of you that don't know, NODA is an area of Charlotte a few miles away from downtown.  It used to be where the textile mills and mill workers homes were.  It has been turned into an arts center with funky shops and cool restaurants.  It reminds me a bit of a much smaller Woodstock, NY.  If you're in the Charlotte area check it out at

Old textile mill re purposed into homes and a great restaurant.

Yes, I'm not wearing a costume

Making my way to the theater to pick up my number and shirt, I got to walk past a lot of interesting buildings and people dressed up.  I was really beginning to feel like I was grievously under dressed.

The pumpkin-mobile

The....batmobile?  Not the one I remember!

Once I got my number and shirt I was given my chip along with the type of band that usually goes around your wrist for a bar.  I had to ask what it was for.  Apparently, the plan was to tie the chips around your ankle with the strap.  Um, ok.  So i did that.  That was a new one on me!
OK, what?  The chip ties around your ankle?

While waiting for the race to start, I got to go into the historic theater, where they were having a pumpkin auction featuring pumpkins made by local artists.  It was pretty interesting

Somebody's angry

The pumpkin totem pole

Funky pumpkins

Yes, that is a Peter Criss pumpkin

About 15 minutes before the race I headed outside to check out the costumes.  Again, quite an interesting experience (see below). 

Running with scissors and the skeleton

Yes, she says she's a badger.  


Please don't let me finish after the woopie cushion

She ran with the dog too

So many comments, so little time

As we lined up to start, I saw a lot of cool costumes, and was hoping that I didn't finish behind some of them, as they looked pretty big and bulky, and that would mean I was really slow.

The race start

Yes, I passed them in the third mile!

The race started and we were off.  Once again I was surprised at how hilly Charlotte is.  The race consisted of a up and downs  (so it felt) around the Noda area.  Since I hadn't seen too much of the area outside of the main part of town, it was nice to see some of the other areas.  I felt that I was struggling a bit throughout the race, which seems to be the way my evening runs go these days.  Interestingly, there were no mile markers, which made it hard to get a feel for how fast I was going.  I tried to keep passing people and not have them pass me.  There were a couple of water stops during the race, and it seemed like the folks from the neighborhood were manning them.  Thank you!  I went back and forth for a while with the Jelly Belly's before finally passing them for good in mile 3.  I guess my runs with the Davidson Area Running Team are paying off, as I stayed strong throughout the race.  I finished in a shade under 27 minutes at 26:58, which is somewhere around a 8:41 pace.  Not bad.  PS the woopie cushion was way behind me.  Sweet!

After the race was over, my car happened to be in front of Cabo Fish Taco, so I went in and got the BBQ mahi taco's to go.  Awesome, though the guy dressed as Borat that insisted on talking to me was first.

Sunday morning Jo had to do 9, so I figured I'd go the first 6 with her.  And 2.5 miles in I tripped on a raised sidewalk and went down hard on my ribs.  I was down for a good 5 minutes, but got up and finished.  However, it's safe to say that the ribs still are not feeling too great.

Got the Dowd YMCA 1/2 marathon coming up saturday, and I'm a bit concerned.  We'll see how it goes.

Rumble in the Woods 5k &10k Saturday, Nov. 13th

Sue Mitchell of Team Triumph would like to remind all local runners that there will be a 5k and 10k trail race on Saturday, Nov. 13th, 2010 at Lake Norman State Park.  Get your trail shoes and attitude on and get out there!

Team Triumph still has a few spots left for Rumble in the Woods on Saturday November 13.  The two races, a 5k and a 10k, begin at 9 a.m. at the Lake Norman State Park.  Registration fees are $30 and $35 respectively.

In the event of rain, or if we have heavy rains in the days preceding the race, like last year, the race will be run on the roads so as to preserve the trails.

This is the 2nd year Team Triumph has held the race.  We’ve got a lot of great beneficiaries this year, likes Soles4souls (bring your gently used shoes for distribution to others who need them!) and the Hope House in Huntersville.

The Spirited Cyclist is our main co-sponsor this year.  Team Triumph is a group of Lake Norman area women triathletes and endurance athletes, focused on helping others enter the sports, and improve their skills.

BTW, the highlight is the preponderance of homemade goodies and hot chocolate for runners at the end.

For more information head over to the event's website.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Race Recap: Ridge to Bridge Marathon

I'll have to admit that I was less than thrilled about running in the Ridge to Bridge Marathon (Oct. 30, 2010).  This attitude was in direct violation of my motto of "Running is its own reward".  I shouldn't have been so gloomy about a race that was:

Just over an hour's drive away
Limited to a field of 300 runners, many of whom I knew
Almost entirely downhill and thus
A great Boston Marathon qualifying course

The negatives were mostly a reflection of my own idiosyncrasies and included:

Not being overly fond of downhill running
Boston filling up (in one day!) before Ridge to Bridge even happened

Frankly my reason for running Ridge to Bridge was to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2011.  I had qualified five years ago at Charlotte's Thunder Road Marathon but never went.  Now that I had entered another age group qualification (sub-3:30) I felt that now was the time and Ridge to Bridge would be the place.  When Boston 2011 filled up in record time and before I even had a chance to qualify at Ridge to Bridge, I was peeved to say the least.  Sure, I could run a qualifying time that would be good for 2012, but that's gratification delayed for too long.

Some marathons are coveted primarily because they have significant downhills, thereby making for quicker times.  I prefer courses with rolling hills and have never been very good at going fast downhill.  Ridge to Bridge has a total elevation drop of nearly 3,000 feet, most of which occur in miles six through sixteen.  Ten miles of gnarly downhill of a course characterized by a narrow dirt road didn't appeal to me.

James hamming it up.
So it was with this sour attitude I went up to Morganton, NC the day prior to the race.  Usually I go alone to marathons and ultras, but this time my wife Laurie and son James came along with me.  We checked in at the Quality Inn host motel and I went to pick up my race packet.  A pleasant surprise included in the packet were the items shown in the picture below.

Contents of the swag bag.
Usually at marathons I receive a number, a timing chip, a shirt, and some vaguely relevant brochures (and at worst emery boards, Post-It notepads, and pencils).  For this race I also received a DayGlo orange drop bag, a hard plastic tag with my name on it, an R2BM bumper sticker, and a pair of cotton gloves - all quite useful items.  There were also maps of the course as well as a map showing the local attractions and businesses.  The Quality Inn was offering a free breakfast bag beginning at 4:00am which consisted of a muffin, breakfast bar, and banana.  Nice touch, I thought.

The family and I skipped the pasta dinner at the motel's restaurant and went out to find some pizza, ending up at Buck's Pizza on Fleming Drive.  Definitely nothing fancy on the inside, with laminate countertops, tables and seats, but the barbecue chicken pizza was excellent.  After dinner I met up with some fellow DARTers including Todd Hartung, Bobby Aswell, and Théoden Janes and we shot the breeze for a while before heading to our rooms for some shut-eye.

On race morning we met at the motel lobby and rode up to the start together along with Alice Watson.  It was nice to be in a warm minivan, as there weren't any buildings we could inhabit before the race started at the junction of Highway 181 and Mortimer Road.  Laurie and James were going to get breakfast before meeting us at the finish at the bottom of the hill.  With little fanfare the runners were given the go-ahead by race director David Lee and off we went.

34 degrees at the start.
David had warned us on the Ridge to Bridge website info page not to try to bank too much time on the big downhill sections, as the last ten miles might prove a challenge if a runner found themselves tapped out at the end of mile sixteen.  The first six miles, Mortimer Road, consisted of a twisty asphalt road with an out-and-back section before we turned onto the famed Pineola Road.  Pineola began the long descent and is best described as a hard-packed one-lane dirt road normally occupied by hunters, their trucks, and their dogs.  Dr. Mark Ippolito, a fellow DARTer and Davidson resident, joined me at the beginning, along with Kim Holland, a Wilkes County runner-acquaintance of mine.  Mark was gunning for a sub-3:20 which would qualify him for Boston.  While Todd, also on with his sights set on a sub-3:20, was ahead of us he was within sight the entire way down the hill.

It's hard to visualize ten miles of steep downhill, but that's what Pineola Road was, with some sections maxing out at a 7% grade (That means that for every 100 feet traveled the road dropped seven feet.).  Mark was feeling good and my bladder was complaining about the combination of excessive coffee and jouncing around so he and I parted ways at about mile twelve.  After that I ran mostly alone and was passed by runners taking advantage of the decline.  At around mile fifteen I "landed" on the flatter asphalt ground of Edgemont Road for a short out-and-back before stepping onto the dirt road of Brown Mountain Beach Road.  Brown Mountain Beach Road parallels Wilson Creek downriver and so the course became a gentle downhill with the occasional rise.  It was at this point I was beginning to feel good, especially after I looked at my Garmin Forerunner 205 and figured that if I kept pace I would not only run a Boston qualifier of sub-3:30 but might even break 3:20!

I caught up to Todd around mile 16.5 and stayed with him a short while.  I spotted Mark just ahead and decided to catch up to him, since he seemed to also be on track for a sub-3:20.  It wasn't until the aid station at mile 21 that I came alongside him and suggested that we take in a gel to have enough energy to finish the last five miles strongly.  Selfishly I didn't wait for him but instead pushed my pace, hoping that he might try to chase me down and thereby get under 3:20 as well.  Near mile 22.5 I came upon another running buddy Mitchell Rippy of Shelby and wished him well.  My last three full miles were 7:18 for mile 24, 7:23 for mile 25, and 7:19 for mile 26.

To the fanfare of Laurie, James, other spectators and finished runners I completed it in 3:19:05, which was a personal best for the marathon and my best result since Thunder Road five years ago.  Mark finished a minute and a half later and made Boston qualifying with 26 seconds to spare.  While Todd didn't qualify for Boston his time of 3:24:21 was his best in the past several attempts.  Théoden shattered his previous personal best with a time of 3:26:33.  Bobby, who was shooting for a sub-3:00, just missed it with a strong 3:02:40.  Alice battled stomach issues and came in at 5:06:17.

Another pleasant surprise in addition to the swag bag was the spread laid out for everyone.  Hot, tasty barbecue sandwiches, freshly grilled hamburgers, homemade pumpkin bread and apple cobbler were complemented by generous amounts of water and soft drinks.  My bad attitude prior to the race morphed into serenity as I spent time talking to other runners about their experience.

Me and Dr. Mark Ippolito
Dr. Mark Ippolito and Théoden Janes
Mitchell Rippy and Todd Hartung
Bobby Aswell with his 2nd place age group award.
All in all it was a good race and I shouldn't have shown prejudice against it beforehand.  This marathon is a terrific race unto itself and I would recommend it because of its small size, friendly volunteers, and scenic views.  Ridge to Bridge Marathon proves that there's more to running than qualifying for Boston (though it does help).

Chad R.
Davidson Area Running Team