Category Archives: Running

Asheville Half Marathon

Back in December of last year, Emily was searching for a birthday present for me.  At that point, I had not run any races except 5Ks which I love but I thought it would be cool to try other distances.  Some people think 5Ks are only charity events and that any one can do them so view longer races as better.  To be sure, 5Ks are usually within reach for most people to complete and are fantastic charity events, but it’s hard to find a harder race distance if you run not to complete, but to compete.

Somewhere in NC
Somewhere in NC

I digress…anyhow, even though I never poo-poo the 5K, I wanted to race other distances and Emily, being the lovely and supportive wife that she is, entered me in the Asheville Half Marathon which was help June 4, 2016.  I had half a year to get psyched up and read all I could about race strategy, the city of Asheville, pacing, etc.  I ended running a flat half marathon here in Charleston in March as a test of the distance and I am so glad I did.

Preparing...Brussels sprouts!
Preparing…Brussels sprouts!

A half marathon is a really nice challenge at 13.1 miles and I enjoy it immensely.  It’s just a totally different race than the 5K with which I am more familiar.

Also preparing...
Also preparing…

I know Emily totally doesn’t understand why I like to run myself to the point of exhaustion, but I am so glad she is supportive of me!  We had a great weekend and this was a fantastic birthday gift!

The starting line
The starting line

So, here is a race report I wrote for the running subreddit:

### Race information
* **What?** Asheville Hlaf Marathon and 10K
* **When?** June 4, 2016
* **How far?** 13.1 Miles
* **Website?** http://www.ashevillehalfmarathon.com/

### Goals
| Goal | Description | Completed? |
|——|————-|————|
| A |< 1:45 hours | *No* |
| B |< 2 Hours | *Yes* |
| C |don’t die | *Yes* |

Along the course
Along the course
The mist tent was nice!
The mist tent was nice!

### Training
I have been running 20-25 miles per week consistently for quite awhile. I typically do a 10 mile run on weekends, a 5 mile run with my club during the week and then 1-2 runs on my own through the week that vary between hills, fartleks, mid-distance, etc. Overall, I felt ok with my preparation.

Liquid Wheaties!
Liquid Wheaties!

### Race strategy
I knew Asheville was a hilly course so tried to visualize where I could grab some time to coast and where it was going to be tough. I wanted to run overall 8:30 – 8:45 miles on average so I could sneak in under 2 hours. My first half was a flat course and I ran 1:47 so I knew I wouldn’t likely beat that on a hilly course, but I wanted to be in the ballpark. I figured 2 hours and under would mean I ran stronger than my initial race in March (https://www.reddit.com/r/running/comments/4bisc5/race_report_uc_half_marathon_university_of/)

In the sun?
In the sun?

### Pre-race
We arrived in Asheville the afternoon before the race and went to the expo. It was small but fun and had a few gear sellers and representatives from other races coming up. We didn’t stick around long because I wanted to eat and drink a little of the local beer for which Asheville is famous. I had a flight of local beers and a meal and walked around town to browse the varied shops and see the buskers and other people just out and about. Asheville is a hipster/hippie town…there are both there I think and it has a really fun and cool vibe. There were probably thousands of people just milling around and checking things out. I fell asleep not too late, watching the Weather Channel with my wife…typical Friday night for me! We stayed in a chain hotel near the starting line so I was able to wake, grab a bagel and some fruit that I had stashed from the night before. I left the hotel at 6:15 or so as the race coordinators wanted people at the start by 6:30 for the 7am gun (although there wasn’t a gun…weird). There were ample porta-potties it seemed but there were still lines…everyone had the nervous-pees I guess. The half was to start at 7 am and the 10k at 7:05 so they split up racers into separate areas which worked pretty well. I think there were around 1000 half runners and around 500 10k runners…there was good pre-race music and everyone was in pretty good spirits. The temp was around 60 or so, but the humidity was beginning to show itself. Asheville is a really cool and quirky town and it really showed I think (in a good way). There were all sorts of interesting people around!

Garmin Map of Asheville Half
My Garmin Map of Asheville Half

### Race
This race has a lot of climbs. By my watch, the course had 802 feet of gain. I knew the bulk of it was from mile 3-5 and especially from mile 10-11 but there seemed to be ups and downs everywhere so it was hard for me to really plan much in reality. We ran through some neighborhoods and through both AB Tech and UNC-Asheville campuses which was pretty cool. A lone performer was set-up at AB Tech to play country/folk covers which was pretty neat. I could hear him from a distance and enjoyed the distraction. There was a stretch where we ran along the French Broad River but it seemed a little seedy there and we were on the road with traffic. The traffic was pretty well managed by the numerous police and volunteers that were out…kudos to them as they did a great job, but I still am always a little hesitant with cars around. Meh, it was fine. My watch had been ticking off the miles pretty much exactly with the posted mile markers for the course until mile 7. When I passed the 7 mile marker, my watch showed 7.25. I heard a guy running near me notice the same thing somewhere around that same spot or maybe a little later. That discrepancy continued throughout the rest of the race. By the end, my watch showed I ran 13.38. I saw posts later on Strava and elsewhere of people who also showed more that 13.1. That isn’t exactly a problem I guess because the race is the same race for everyone, but I would have preferred the advertised distance to have been the course length…so, while my overall time is 2:00:08, I am claiming a sub-2 half. I would estimate my actual half time to be around 1:57 or 1:58. I am claiming my goal of sub-2-hour.

I fell asleep in like 30 seconds...on a concrete bench...in the sun
I fell asleep in like 30 seconds…on a concrete bench…in the sun

### Miles [10] to [11]
This was the real killer part…There were water stations around every 2 miles through the course on the odd numbers (miles 3,5,7, etc) but in this case, at mile 10 there was an extra station at the base of the hill. I grabbed a cup of water and started the long slog up. It was a sort of narrow and windy road up through a neighborhood and had around 300 feet of climb in that mile. I kept running but it got uglier and uglier as I went…for such a hill to be at mile 10 was unkind. At the top, they had a well-staffed medical tent and another drink station. It worked out ok and I knew I had seen the worst.

I did survive!
I did survive!

### Miles [12.75] to [13.4]
After finishing the big hill at mile 10, I knew I had an uphill finish as well. Asheville is a hilly city and the dang finish was on an uphill. I knew it was the case, but I didn’t love that part…Still, they announced my name, I got my cool finisher medal and I walked a few times through the mist tent. I didn’t die! Another goal accomplished!

### Post-race
There is a cool park in the middle of Asheville called Pack Park and it seems to be where everything happens in the city. There are numerous festivals and events that all seem to happen there. Anyhow, from the finish, I headed a few feet into the park and picked up a few beers, compliments of Sierra Nevada and enjoyed a pretty good band that played until the awards ceremony. There were numerous food tents, massage tables, etc and the atmosphere was festive and a lot of fun. My wife and I sat on a bench in the shade and enjoyed cooling down, chatting with other runners, swilling a few beers, etc. Afterwards, there were a lot of runners roaming around town and chatting, drinking and having fun, me included! All-in-all, I liked the race and even the hills though I might run differently if I do it again. I need to ponder pacing on the hills and the finish line but I am pleased with my performance and the event with the excpetion of the distance snafu, although that’s not a show-stopper for me at all. I love the city and the vibe it puts off and it was well-captured by the race as well!

 

UC Half Marathon

Last weekend was the University of Charleston (WV) half marathon.  I like to run, but I have typically only run in 5K races around the area.  I had never run a half marathon, so when I heard about it, I knew I wanted to run.

UC Half Marathon
The map generated by my running watch

 

I wrote this race report for /r/running on reddit:

 

Race information

Goals

Goal Description Completed?
A < 2 hours Yes
B No injuries Yes
C Don’t die Yes

Training

I am a fairly new runner, having started in March of 2015 to run with my daughter. At the time, we were planning to train together to prepare her for X-C season. She does nothing in the off-season but I kept running. I didn’t follow a plan per-se, but I run 3-4 days per week for an average of probably 25 miles per week. About 6 weeks ago, I somehow screwed up my posterior tibialis so my mileage dropped some. I ran a mix of hills and flats which is probably what messed up my leg. I have run a number of 5Ks locally since starting running.

Pre-race

The race was managed by students and faculty as part of a sports management class. As such, they seemed to really do things cleanly (with the exception of their website). I had a lot of communication via facebook and email regarding the course, volunteers, aid stations, etc. They took great pride in advertising that local artists were making the finishers medals and prizes…it was very cool. Packet pickup was easy the night before and ran smoothly. On the race day itself, I wanted to be onsite at 7am for an 8am gun. As I said, I am inexperienced but I like to be early even though this was not a huge race. I needed to pee 25 times before lining up, etc. The weather was pretty crummy…40 deg F and rain at 7am. Snow was forecast for later in the day so the expectation was for miserable conditions. I got to the University of Charleston at 7 and we were greeted by a ton of volunteers. I may be making this part up, but I swear I heard there were 300 volunteers. Inside the student union where we waited for the start, the crowd was good though thinner than expected. At packet pickup, I asked how many were regsitered and was told around 300. Earlier in the week, they had advertised that they had crossed 200 runners, so I assume they were correct in the 300 number. I later found out that there were 127 finishers. I am certain the weather kept a number of people away…seems odd that 180 didn’t show but who knows? A few people I know who I saw at packet pick-up were not at the race so at least a few stayed home. Anyhow, about 15 minutes before the gun, the rain stopped and the temp help steady…so it was sort of perfect for racing.

Miles [1] to [3.1]

I didn’t know what to expect, never having raced a half so I found a 2 hour pace group and started with them. It was ok, but within a half a mile, I knew I wanted to speed up. I increased my pace to around 8:40 per mile and found a friend. We talked for a mile but he started to slow and I was feeling good so I speed up to around 8:20 per mile. The rain started although not bad…it was one of those rains that makes you wet but you don’t really notice it. I settled in on that pace and found a woman right ahead of me who was very steady so I just ran with her. About 2 miles in, the first water station came up and a large number of university students were having a great time listening to 80s music. They were playing my song (well, it seemd like it was being played for me) as I ran by…Danger Zone. I give the volunteers a lot of credit…they came out in good numbers with great signs and cheered on everyone! Basically, the course runs from the university along the Kanawha River so it was really pleasant to watch the river flow by. There were 3+ volunteers at every intersection and every turn so it was very clear where the course was. Miles were well marked and actually corresponded with my gps watch. The course was USATF certified which was pretty cool for such a small and new race.

5k time: 25:50

Miles [4] to [7]

I was concerned that this race was going to be a little boring as it was through neighborhoods and was a double loop course. I don’t know what possessed me, but I chatted a little with a few people as we ticked off miles in the middle of the course. I am usually pushing pretty hard on a 5k so don’t talk at all, but I didn’t know what to do here so I decided to pass a little time. Generally, people were happy to chat and they made more conversation than I did…2 miles flew by and I didn’t have any problems. My pace had stayed pretty steady around 8:10 at this point

Miles [8] to [10]

I decided to try to drink a little gatorade at around mile 9. I never drink gatorade as I am a water guy and generally not a drink-on-the-run guy at all. Something possessed me to try though so I grabbed a cup and put it to my mouth and promptly spilled it all over myself. I think I was more tired than I realized. The woman with whom I was pacing was feeling it too and we traded the lead back and forth a few times. We stayed pretty solid at 7:50-8:00 pace. The course was very flat which was nice, but the wet was starting to bother me too I think. Being a dummy, I forgot to tape my nipples so I was getting raw around this point. I won’t have to learn that lesson again…rain + cold + distance = blood spots on my shirt. Anyhow, I still really commend the race volunteers and police officers…they were great about cheering and played some great 80s tunes…some Cindi Lauper tune was blaring as I ran through the second time!

At the finish!
At the finish!

Miles [11] to [13.1]

I was all turned around as we wove through the neighborhoods along the river so I only had a sense of where I was based on my watch…my pacing woman and I were both pretty tired at this point and I could feel both my hamstrings and my calves starting to fade/pull. I figured that worst case, I could walk depending on what happened so I decided to keep pushing. We both ran the last mile or so into the finish about as fast as we could…we kicked it down to a 7:30 or so pace. She faded about a quarter mile out but I was still ok…ok being a relative term. Rounding the building in front of which was the finish line, I caught a guy and passed him which gave me mixed emotions…I hate when people do that to me, but I loved placing one spot higher than I would have. Originally I told my wife to expect me around 2 hours, so when I rolled in at 1:47:38, she was not exactly expecting me but she was able to get her phone out to get a few pics.

After the race...headed home
After the race…headed home

Post-race

I grabbed a banana, a water and a cookie after they hung my finisher medal around my neck. It was a really cool medal made of ceramic by a local artist (and some university students). I was sort of sad in a way to finish. As this was my first half, I was over the moon excited in the days and weeks leading up. My saintly wife had to have been done with me for all of the talking about my strategies and questions about how I should run, what to wear, etc. I guess you never forget your first time and this half will always be sort of a cool memory. I didn’t know what else to do at the end so I lingered a little bit and we finally decided to just go home. I iced and put on some compression socks and generally relaxed all afternoon.

This report was generated using race reportr, a tool built by /u/BBQLays for making great looking and informative race reports.

Running

We have been busy with lots of stuff as I mentioned before and most of what we have been doing revolved around my coaching soccer again, the kids doing stuff in band, and work related obligations.

Pre-race selfie
Pre-race selfie

One thing, though, that I have been doing is a little different from that.  Back in April, my company sponsored a 5K to benefit the local chamber of commerce’s scholarship fund.  I ran a lot in high school as a member of the soccer team, but after that, I really didn’t run again.  I decided to give running another try so I could train with Abigail who is on the middle school cross country team and so we could both run the 5K.

Pre-race...I still look alive
Pre-race…I still look alive

As I posted before, we ran the 5K which was pretty fun.  What surprised me, though, is that I really enjoyed running.  My first race nearly killed me as I pushed probably too hard, especially for the shape I was in.  The thrill of racing and actually not embarrassing myself made me want to do it again though.  My time in that first race was 27:30…not a bad time and it piqued my interest.  I wondered if that was my max or if I could get better.  I know I am not old yet, but I am not young either.

Finish line from a race on July 4...in the rain
Finish line from a race on July 4…in the rain

Since then, I have continued running and have come to really enjoy it.  I tried running with music but it drives me crazy.  I prefer to listen to my breathing and to the birds and the squirrels.  I like to look up at the sky at the clouds or keep count of just how many people pick their noses when they drive.  Someone asked me what I think about when I run (assuming I must get bored).  Sometimes I think about this or that, but most times, I literally think about nothing.  I sort of zone out and occasionally take in a sound or a sight, but I don’t really ponder life’s deeper meanings or worry about stressors.  Maybe that’s why I like it so much.

A hard run
A hard run

I sort of like running after dark through neighborhoods.  I quietly cruise by homes and hear people talking or watching tv.  I can smell a steak cooking a mile away and people make a lot of popcorn in the evenings.  I run 2-3 nights during the week and most times it is after dark.  It’s quiet then and even easier to zone out and the stars are pretty amazing when I take the time to look up.

Everyone has a running watch
Everyone has a running watch…I’d be naked without it!

I try to do a longer run on Saturday mornings.  Emily and the kids sleep in most weekends.  I have always been an early riser so it sort of works out perfectly.  I may run 8 or 10 miles on Saturdays before they wake.  When I start to smell bacon cooking on my trail, I know people are waking up  and it’s about time to head home.

I really like racing and my best 5K time from a few weeks ago was  22:10.  It’s a little harder to zone out on race day as I get pretty wound up waiting for the starting gun.  During the race, it’s all about keeping myself from running too fast the first mile and then having nothing left for the next 2 miles.

I do not think my goal in running is only to race, but it’s a nice side benefit.  What’s better, though, is that I have met some pretty cool people and stand amazed at what people can do, physically.  I ran my most recent race with a 60 year old man, a new friend of mine.  We talked about our plan for the race as we stood in the starting chute, but we both had doubts about whether we could pull off what we had discussed.  We ran a pretty fast race and he and I stayed together throughout and we ran just under the pace we had decided on.  Before running, I never dreamed a 60 year old man could run a race, let alone a pretty fast pace.  Older men then he ran even faster than we did though and did it with apparent ease.  Of course, they were not new to running, but age didn’t hold them back one bit.

This is a meandering post, but I think it sort of mimics my thoughts on running.  My mind wanders about how I will age and what I think about (and what I don’t think about).  I like to be exposed to new people and especially people who don’t fit my stereotypes.  I also like an occasional shot of adrenaline that comes on race day rather than during rush hour!