Friday, March 22, 2013

2013 Explore Your Limits 10k

The Mountain Junkies 2nd RNUTS Series race was at the Explore Park, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway South of Roanoke. This was the same location as the Into the Darkness night race I ran in last October. It was a chilly 30 degree morning and I got to the race way too early. I could sleep past 6:15am because of my anticipation for the run. So I got up and ate my normal pre-race breakfast of a banana and a slice of wheat bready with Nutella. After double checking my bag, I was out the door by 7:30am. The race wasn't starting until 9am, but I thought I would get there a little early since I needed to pick up my packet. I made really good time and got to the park just before 8am. So after picking up my race packet and pinning my number on my running jacket, I had a lot of extra time. I ended up sitting in my car for 25 minutes with the heat running.

 I started stretching around 8:30am and took a warm-up run for about 10 minutes. I decided to hit the port-a-johns one last time before the race and ended up standing in line for 15 minutes. After a quick pre-race meeting, we were off to the starting line just after 9am. The two races were started 10 minutes apart. The 10k racers would leave first and followed by the 5k runners shortly after. Since I wasn't trying to set any world records, I decided to fall into the middle of the 10k pack. Once the race was started, the first 0.5 mile was through pretty open grass fields and gravel roads. This gave everyone plenty of time to sort out their positions based on their pace.

 This was my first race wearing my New Balance MT10 minimalist shoes. If I would have known how many rocks and gravels would have been on the course's route, I may have decided against wearing the New Balance. The first mile went by really fast and my split was around 7:30. That was way too fast of a pace for me to stick with for this course. The next few miles went by without much excitement. I got into a good breathing rhythm and just let myself concentrate on foot placement.

 There were several nice hill climbs that really did a number on my legs. By the halfway point the course split for the 5k and 10k courses. It is sort of wrong for the 10k'ers to see the finish line knowing they still had over 3 more miles to go. Once the course went back into the woods, I got back into a good flow. By this time, the soles of my feet had taken a good pounding from the gravels and were starting to get a little sore. So I really started paying attention to every rock on the course.

I kept my pace pretty steady until I came to the last of the big hills on the course. I felt myself start to fade as soon as the incline started. I was just about to give up on running the hill when an awesome lady, who appeared to be in her 40's (not that her age matters at all), pulled up beside me and said, "we can do this"! We kept our slow trot up the hill, side by side, until she finally pulled away from me with 10 yards to go. She really help me get over the "feeling sorry for yourself" feeling that was beginning to set in at that stage of the run. I tried to find her after the race and thank her. But since I was really not in my right mind when I encountered her during the race, I wasn't 100% what she looked like a after the race was over.

After finishing that last hill, there was only a short distance to the finish line and my official time was 53:35, with my first 5k at 26:01 and my second 5k at 27:35. This was my personal best time for a 10k race, beating my previous best from January by 59 seconds. So setting my personal best time on a course that was much more difficult that the site of my previous record was very rewarding. I feel like I probably could have done a little better if I picked a better starting spot and didn't choose to be content and run behind several slower runners at the beginning of the race. This just gives me more incentive to do better in my next 10k.

Thanks to the Mountain Junkies for putting on another great race. They by far have the best post-race food and drinks. I enjoyed my post-race feast and a nice cup (or three) of hot coffee on a very cold morning! The next race on my schedule is a home game for me. The Montvale 10 Miler is scheduled for March 23rd and I am looking forward to running a race just minutes for my house.

2013 Frozen Toe 10k

For 2013, I decided to take part the Mountain Junkies RoanokeNon-Ultra Trail Series (RNUTS). This race series is made up of 6 trail races in the Roanoke area varying in lengths of 5k to 25k. I took part in some of the Mountain Junkies races last year and I had a great time. So, it only made sense to try and complete all the races in their series this year.

The first race of this series, the Frozen Toe 10k,  took part on Roanoke Mountain. The starting area was at a church behind the Outback Steakhouse off of Rt. 220, south of Roanoke. This race took place on January 5th and it was a very chilly morning. The race distance was 10k and it covered a section of trails that I had never run before. Going into the race, I didn’t have any target finishing time. This was only my second trail 10k and the previous one was over 9 months in the past. So the plan was to run at a comfortable pace and finish the race.

The race was pretty uneventful, so I do not have a lot of details. The most exciting part of the race was right before the race started. Missy Bradley and I were talking about our new running shoes we had received for Christmas, when all the sudden the gun went off. I failed to start up my GPS watch and was not really ready to start running. Having no choice, I spent the first 0.5 mile trying to get my watching up and running.

With temperatures below freezing for the entire race, the Frozen Toe 10k was a very fitting name for this race. It was a really nice course and the conditions (other than the temperature) were great. I got set with a comfortable pace and the miles started ticking away. I got to the finish line with an official time of 54:34. This time was almost 4 ½ minutes faster than my previous trail 10k race. So I was pleased, even though I knew I could have pushed myself a bit more.

I was very glad to get to my car and start up the heat after this race. It was a great day of running and a great start to my racing year. I am looking forward to a great year of trail racing through the trails in the Roanoke area. The next stop on the series is the Explore Your Limits 5k/10k at the Explore Park off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I am looking to improve on my 10k PR time at the Explore Park in February.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2012 Peaks of Otter Christmas Classic 5k


This was my first repeat racing event since I started entering races a little over a year ago. For those that aren't familiar with this race, it is an annual run put on as a fund raiser for the Bedford YMCA. The course starts at the Bedford Middle School and routes runners around the famous "loop". Last year this was my second ever 5k race and I finished with a time of 24:50. Having run these roads hundreds of times in 2012, I was hoping to better my time this year.
 For once, I actually got to a race with enough time to actually warm up. I read some 5k racing guides online and all of these writings talked about how important it was to warm up for shorter races. So I made myself run at a decent pace down Longwood for about 10 minutes. I made it back to the starting line in enough time to get a decent spot in the crowd. I quickly spotted a friend, Travis Wingfield, right in front of me. After talking to him really quick, the race was off. I decided that I would stick with Travis as long as I could. I had written down mile times I needed in order to get a finishing time under 23:00. I had planned to stick with those splits all week leading up to the race and it took me 5 seconds to abandon them.

After setting a pace that was much faster than I anticipated, it was too late to change. I had to just do my best at keeping up the blistering (for me at least) pace. By the time I got to the infamous hospital hill, I was really feeling the burn in my legs. I was just concentrating on keeping my foot speed up. I had run this hill at least 50 times since last year's race, so I felt pretty confident I could get to the top without dropping off my pace too much. The good news was that I made it to the top at a pretty good rate; the bad news was that my legs felt like they were sticks of wood with bricks attached to the bottom.

 The next mile was spent trying to get my legs to speed back up to the rate they were turning over at the beginning of the race. With about 1/2 mile remaining, my legs were starting to loosen back up. I was glad because one last small incline to the middle school was still to come. I was able to finish this last section of the race fairly comfortably and I was happy to beat my last year’s time by 1 minute and 32 seconds. My official time was 22:12. This time didn't beat my best 5k time of 21:47 (which was set on a very flat cross country style course last August), but it was fast enough to get me 3rd in my age group.

 Even though I was very happy with my performance in the 5k, the highlight of my race day was still yet to come. Eli and Coy were both taking part in the kids' 1/4 mile run. They were both so excited when I gave them their "numbers" the night before. We pinned them to their sweatshirts that night and had all their running gear laid out for the morning. By the time the kids race was about to start, I ended up with the boys so that I could encourage Coy and get him to stay at the starting line. I could not have been more proud of my boys that morning. It is not that I want my boys to be successful in sports; I want them to be willing to try anything and do always do their best.

 Just before the start of the race, Coy spotted Mommy about 20 yards in the distance, trying to get some pictures. He decided that he was going to go hang out with her, so he took off. Just then, the race organizer reached out and grabbed his shirt. While trying to be helpful, Josh scared Coy and he started balling. Now we were down to one runner! With Coy out of the race, I could pay a little more attention to Eli. I believe he has inherited his Mommy and Daddy's competitiveness. Once the race was started, he definitely had his game face on (except when Mommy was taking pictures, of course). Eli completed his lap around the middle school parking lot while running 100% of the time. As I ran past Anna and Coy, I stopped and helped Coy at least finish the race. He was in a much better mood by this time.

 Eli and Coy both finished the race and received medals. They were so proud, but not as proud as their parents. It is so much more rewarding to see your children excel at something, than anything I can personally accomplish. This is a feeling that I believe only parents can understand. I look forward to having many more experiences like these with Eli and Coy. So all in all, the 33rd annual Peaks of Otter Christmas Classic 5k was a great time and I look forward to taking part in the race for years to come.


It's been a while....

I took a little break from my blog for the past few months. December is always very busy with the holidays and Eli's birthday. Then Coy's birthday was in January. I took the time enjoy my family and not worry about my next post. During this time I have ran in 3 different races. I had race recaps written, but I never posted them. In preparation for this weekend's Montvale 10 Miler, I am will be trying to catch up on my previous race posts. I am going to try to be a more consistent blogger in the coming months (I think I have said that before!).