Sunday, February 24, 2008

Anheuser-Busch Colonial Half Marathon 24Feb08

Ran the Anheuser-Busch Colonial Half Marathon today up in Williamsburg...the ninth race in the short eight weeks of this year. I had just run the Mud in Your Eye 8K the day before and this half was billed as being very hill, so I wasn't looking for a record time, but looking to put in a good effort and see how I could handle a hilly course. I was still hoping to at least get under 1:30.

The race is run in the wooded and rolling hills of the Williamsburg area, starting and finishing on the beautiful William and Mary campus. The start line is in the southern end of the campus and the route takes us through a mostly wooded, one lane paved road that runs about six miles out and back finishing inside the William and Mary Hall...the campus' basketball arena. The weather forecast called for partly cloudy skies, temps in the low to mid-40's and very little wind. In my opinion, an almost ideal condition for a long run. Also the race starts at 1:00 in the afternoon, which allows the temps to reach its peak...which is good on a cold winter's day.

So, I slept in till just before 8:00...felt good to not be in a hurry and not worry about getting up early. Except for going to Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg a few times, I didn't know the Williamsburg area very well, so I printed a Google map of the area so I wouldn't get lost. I had planned to leave in time to get to the same day Expo and packet pickup early, which ran from 10:00 - 12:00. But I ended up leaving about 10:00...later than planned, but I figured the race being only about an hour up the road, it would still give me plenty of time to get up there in time. Once I got up near the Williamsburg area, I decided to take a short cut. Looking at the map there was a road that ran more directly to where I was going instead of going up and around, only problem was that it was a business route and it didn't take the direct route that it showed on the make a long story short...I got lost! Not only did I not know where the road was taking me, I was in a long line of cars slowly traveling up a two lane road being held up by someone wanting to travel at 20 mph. I finally saw a road I recognized on the map and looped back to get on it and magically I was at the entrance of the William and Mary campus near the Hall that I was trying to reach...and it was only a few minutes past 11:00. I got my bib and asked where to go for the chip pick-up and was surprised when they told me there was no chip. Okay...I went all the way around to the other side to get my t-shirt and then decided to go into the arena to check out the finish line. I get inside where the seats are and who do I see relaxing in the seats...fellow blogger Steve with his wife and her mum. After chatting a bit, I head out to explore the expo...which was really small and then since the start line was about half a mile away, I wanted to explore and wander around the campus to the start line. I got about half way there and noticed the rolling terrain which was a bit intimidating, and turned around to go back...I still needed to put my running gear on...but first headed to the back of the arena to check out the finish ramp where we were to run up into the arena for the finish...just to get a feel for it. Went back to the truck and got my gear and bib on and then headed out again towards the finish line. Just about this time I heard some drumming and fife music, which was coming from about half a dozen men dressed in colonial uniforms, leading the runners to the start line. I followed a following the pied piper but after a bit, I felt the need to do a warm up and started my slow jog to the start line. Got there and after a bit met up with Steve again along with a few other runners from down our area.

As the starting time got close we headed to the front of the massed runners and was able to get to about a row from the front. The horn starts at 1:00 and we are off. I started running the first couple miles with Steve and another local runner also named Charlie, and the first mile came in at 6:34, and we notice that we are constantly going up or down these rolling hills. The second mile was a long down hill stretch...realizing that this down hill stretch will be an up hill stretch when we return between mile 11 and 12...and mile two comes in at 6:31. We come to the first of four water stops...all water stops just had water, which was fine by me...and I get a cup of water and lose contact with Steve and the other runner but I let them go because they are running at a faster pace than I intended. I miss mile 3 but mile four is about a 6:44 pace for those two miles, and we are running on a one lane paved road that is winding through the trees. The only spectators are probably the few homeowners in this area. We were told that spectators were not allowed on this section of the course and I could see why since it was only a one-lane road. Mile 5 comes in at 6:48 and mile 6 in 6:59 for a total time of 40:21...I was happy with that. During this time the runners have spread out and I pass a few runners as well as get passed by some. After mile 6 we do a loop that first veers off onto a soggy trail to get to another road...reminded me of the soggy run of yesterday. We get on a paved road for a bit before we hit another wooded trail that again loops us onto a main four lane road. We go over an overpass and we can see the runners below that are headed for the turn around loop. During the period on the wide-open road, I get my second wind and start chasing down runners. I miss mile marker 7 but mile 8 comes in at 13:35...about a 6:47 pace for those two miles. We make a left back onto the one lane road through the woods, headed back to the finish, and meet up with the runners still running out to the loop...which kind of gives me another boost and mile 9 comes in at 6:36. By mile 10 we have passed the last of these back of the pack runners and it becomes lonely again and my time is 6:47, which gives me a total time of 1:07 for the 10 miles. I know that I'm doing well and even with all the rolling hills, I am feeling real good and mile 11 comes in at 6:44. Then comes the dreaded long uphill stretch and I just focus on the runner ahead of me trying to draw him to me. I pass him about half way up the hill and set my sights on the next runner. We crest the hill, and make a left turn which takes us back to the William and Mary Campus and mile 12 comes in at biggest split but it actually didn't feel like I was going that slow up that long hill. 1.1 mile to go and my time is 1:21...Steve has finished about now...and I try to pick up the pace. I try to pass a runner on another up hill climb on the campus but as soon as I get to his side, he kicks it in and I am content to follow. We finally see the Hall where we will finish and race from the front of the building clockwise to the back ramp. We race up the final ramp into the arena and cross the finish line and the time shows 1:28:34 on the clock as I glance back.

A very satisfying race. No PR but very close to the 1:28.01 that I ran in the Norfolk Half...and this was on a very hilly course after an 8K race the day before and I felt very strong the whole second half of the race. So I was very happy with my time. Only disappointment of this race was...No Bling...No medal...I don't think they even had age group awards, just cash awards to the top ten men and women overall. This is a great run and I feel could be even better if they just organized it better. Their race web site is very lacking with very little information about the race, no on line course map or directions to get to the expo or race site...we got a couple of hand drawn maps of the course at packet address, no chip timing and no bling. But it was a fun race on a nice course.

Race Results:
There were 78 finishers in the Male 50 to 54 age group and 860 total finishers.
Overall finish place was 70 of 860
Age group finish place was 2 of 78
Time: 1:28:32 for an overall pace of 6:44 per mile

Weekly Totals:
Mon: 10 miles run, 35 min Elliptical, 31 min Cycle, 20 min Stairstepper
Tue: 48 min Elliptical, 47 min Cycle, 26 min Stairstepper
Wed: 7.6 miles run, 20 min Elliptical, 16 min Stairstepper
Thu: 47 min Elliptical, 45 min Cycle
Fri: 3 miles run, 22 min Elliptical, 33 min Cycle, 16 min Stairstepper
Sat: 8K race with 0.4 mile warm-up
Sun: 13.1 mile race with 0.5 mile warm-up

Next week I had planned to take a break from racing since I need to get in a final 20+ mile run before the Shamrock Marathon on 16 Mar, but there is a 5K race that looks real tempting. We'll see how the rest of the week goes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mud in Your Eye 8K XC Series #3 of 3, 23Feb08

Today was a very wet, cold, muddy and believe it or not, a fun third race in the three race cross country series called Mud in Your Eye. After the last two Mud in Your Eye in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, I found myself in third place in my age group but I wasn't expecting to move up in the field with the two strong runners ahead of me and just hoped to hold off the fourth place runner with a solid run.

This 8K race was run on the Virginia Wesleyan campus in Norfolk and consisted of one small loop followed by two large loops going around the perimeter of the campus. The course is flat except for a very small mound in one of the fields. Past races also included a pile of hay bales to run up and over as well as some potential mud to run through...Hey...This series is called Mud in Your Eye!...I was looking forward to seeing some mud and with the rain we had the night before, the prospect of mud on the course was very good. The weather forecast had called for low temps in the 30-40's with some showers for today. I decided to wear the minimum in case it rained, so just a short sleeved shirt, running shorts, shoes and socks. I took my watch but decided not to wear it for this race, so there will be no splits.

I get up and look out the window to check the weather to find it overcast and although it had rained the day before, the roads were drying. Looked like a great day for a race. Took my shower and ate my breakfast and headed out to the race site. Just as I get to the entrance of the campus, a few small raindrops hit my windshield. As I parked about 500 meters from the bib and chip pickup, it started drizzling. I picked up my bib and chip and headed back to my truck and the rain started coming down hard. I stayed in the truck since there was no other cover except for some scattered trees. At one point the rain stopped completely for a few minutes but started again. I had planned to run a mile warm up but decided to stay in the truck until the last few minutes and run to the start line. I also had to make a pit stop but the three port-a-lets had a long line. Finally about 10 minutes before the start of the race, I left the warm and dry confines of my truck and started jogging out to the start line in pouring rain. I stood in the port-a-potty line thinking I may need to find a tree or bush instead but just as I was about to leave someone said there was only one minute until the start and almost everyone in line left leaving me and a couple of others that had to go too. Earlier as we're standing in the potty line there is a flash of lightening and a good roll of thunder, causing a lot of us wondering if this race was going to go on but that turned out to be the only one. Finally finished and ran to the start line splashing in the puddles along the way. This was going to be one wet and muddy race!

I get to the starting line and they warn us the course is very wet and slippery and to watch our step out there. The horn sounds at 8:00 and we are off...charging down the field, splashing in the soggy grass trying to avoid the deep puddles that have already formed and it's still raining. I try to hold back a bit and stay with the runner that is second in my age group for the first small loop. I remark that I hadn't seen the first place runner in our age group and find out he wasn't able to make this race because of a business trip. We near the area near the start line again we come to the neat stack of hay bales and I take it safely by running up and down instead of trying to hurdle it. We start going around the first large loop and pass the one mile marker. We're still running on soggy grass with puddles and hit a small stretch of asphalt where I can speed up without fear of slipping but soon we are back on the grass and trail. Soon we hit another small stretch of asphalt where I can speed up again. Coming off the asphalt we hit a very muddy grass, tree roots or anything else for traction...and I cautiously make my way slipping through the mud, trying to avoid the deeper pockets and trying not to slip and fall. We hit a nice grass trail's still very soggy but not as slippery as the muddy area...and we pass mile 2 and cross a road to the small mound in the field that we run up and over. Then around the front perimeter heading back to the start/finish line and the hay bales again starting our second loop. The second time though the loop, the course is even muddier since it has been beaten up by all the runners from the first go around and I try to run along the edges of the trail to keep on firmer ground and grass...and pass mile marker 3. The first long loop I had passed a lot of runners and had been passed by a couple but the second loop everyone was pretty much spread out and the only ones passed were those still on the tail end of the first loop. Even with the deteriorating course, I manage a good pace through the grass and muddy parts and speeding up when we hit the asphalt sections. We hit mile 4 and then we go over the mound again and head along the outside perimeter heading to the finish line. Just before the finish is a huge puddle right in the middle of our path and I just run though it...what's a little more water on a wet day...and cross the finish mat with the clock showing 34:01.

I wait around near the finish for a while waiting for one of the ladies from my gym but don't see her. I'm starting to shake from the wet and cold and start walking back to my truck to get dried off and get some dry clothes on. That was one wet, cold and muddy run, but it was great fun. Fortunately they held the awards ceremony in one of the dry, warm buildings where they also had pizza, bagel, Danishes, coffee and hot chocolate...they ran out of coffee and hot chocolate when I got there. I placed second in my age group for the three series with a total time of 1:19:19:30 and got a great hand made iron trophy of a runner.

Race Results:
There were 10 finishers in the Male 50 to 54 age group and 247 total finishers.
Overall finish place was 28 of 247
Age group finish place was 2 of 10
Time: 34:01.25 for an overall pace of 6:51 per mile

Next race is tomorrow...The Anheuser-Busch Colonial Half Marathon...but start time is 1:00 pm and the weather should be dry and a bit warmer.

Happy weekend to all!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Striders Distance Series 30K, 16 Feb 08

Saturday was the third race in the Striders distance series, which consists of three races 20K, 25K and 30K. A fun series and a great way to prepare for the Shamrock marathon on 16 Mar, by running progressively longer races every three weeks. They also run a shorter distance series at the same time...10K, 15K and 20K...for those preparing for the Shamrock half marathon. I looked forward to this the final race in the series because it would be a good measuring stick on my preparations for the upcoming marathon. My goal time was under 2:10 and if I got 2:08, I would be very happy.

As with the other two distance series, this race is run on Fort Story Army base, running the 10K course three times. The weather was forecasted to be cold with temps in the 30's-40, which would feel even colder with 12-16 mph winds...but at least no rain.

The race starts at 9:00, so I could sleep in a bit more than usual on race day. I got my shower and breakfast and got to registration/packet pickup in plenty of time, got my bib and chip and got ready for the race. I warmed up by running the course out to the first mile and back. When I got back from my warm up I noticed that a lady from my gym...who was doing the shorter series...was just starting her warm up lap around the block and I accompanied her. When we got back to the start line it was almost race time.

The horn starts at 9:00 and off we go on the first lap. I fell in with a group of runners who consisted mainly of the top runners in my age group...the first, second, third (which was me) and fifth place runners as well as the first place runner in women's open and first place runner in the 55-59. We all ran together for about the first 3-4 miles chatting amongst ourselves until we started spreading out with our different paces with the first and second place runners as well as a few others going on ahead. I hadn't paid too much attention to some of the lap times because I was paying more attention to the conversation than the mile markers but the second mile came in at 13:14 and the 5K in 20:46. Mile 4 was in 26:56 and mile 5 in 33:34. The next two-mile splits were missed but mile 8 was in 54:38. The first 6-7 miles I was still feeling good but around mile eight I started feeling fatigued. I took a gel that was offered on the course around the 15K mark thinking that it would give me some energy but it just seem to set in my stomach and make things worse. I feel bloated and felt like I needed to stop for a port-a-potty but the next one wasn't until near the start/finish line around mile 12. Ten miles came in at 1:09 and just before the turn that takes us up one of the hills, I see the second place runner in my age group is off to the side of the road having his own problem, massaging out a cramp in his lower leg. I make sure it's only a cramp and encourage him as I head up the hill. I missed miles 11 and 12 and when I went by the start/finish, I decided not to stop at the port-a-potty but to keep on going to the next area that had a port-a-potty around the 15-mile mark. Mile 13 came in at 1:31...the slowest split at the time but I was able to pick it up on mile 14 which came in at 1:38 but everything went downhill from there. I felt very little energy and my pace slowed again. Around mile 15 a runner that had been behind me for a while comes up along side and then slightly ahead and seeing that I was having a rough time in the wind, motions and tells me to follow and draft off of him. I was really was touched by his gesture and his willingness to help me out...I thought it was really cool...Later I found out his name was Cool...well actually it was Iscool. In this sport I have found that runners are always willing to encourage and help each other. I stayed with him for a couple of hundred yards but let him go on his way. 25K came in at 1:49 and mile 17 in 2:01. Went up the final hill before the finish and mile 18 was in 2:09 and then crossed the finish line in 2:13:57. Not the finish I was expecting but thankful that I was able to run the whole thing and finish. There will always be bad days and this felt like a bad day, but...there will be good days too and I feel next week will be a good one.

Race results:
There were 17 finishers in the Male 50 to 54 age group and 195 total finishers.
Overall finish place was 18 of 195
Age group finish place was 3 of 17
Time: 2:13:57 for an overall pace of 7:12 per mile

Weekly Totals:
Mon: 61 min Elliptical, 65 min Cycle, 31 min Stairstepper
Tue: 9.4 miles run, 31 min Cycle, 15 min Stairstepper
Wed: 30 min Elliptical, 30 min Cycle, 21 min Stairstepper
Thu: 10.2 miles run, 16 min Stairstepper
Fri: 23 min Elliptical, 46 min Cycle, 20 min Stairstepper
Sat: 21.2 miles run including 30K race
Sun: 40 min Elliptical, 35 min Cycle, 30 min Stairstepper

Next week I have two races. Saturday will be the Mud in Your Eye 8K, the third and final in that series. I hear there could be actual mud to run through in this one as well as some hay bales to run over...should be fun. Then Sunday I will be running the Anheuser-Busch Colonial Half Marathon up in Williamsburg, which is said to be a hilly course. So it should be an interesting weekend.

Hope all have a great President's Day weekend!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Run Forrest Run!

Ran my second 20 miler today in preparation for the Shamrock Marathon on 16 Mar. With all the races that I have been competing in (six in the last six weeks), it has been hard to schedule my long runs with any consistency. I have been able to get some good quality racing long runs in with the Norfolk Half last week and the Striders Distance Series...with a 20K and a 25K the last month and next weeks final 30K...which has helped with my preparations for the upcoming marathon. I normally don't do two hard runs back to back but after yesterdays 6K race, I was still feeling good and was thinking about putting in another 10 or so miles in at the gym after the the last time. But I felt that I really need to get another 20 miler in and didn't relish the idea of doing it on the treadmill. So...I decided today would be the day to hit the trail at the Dismal Swamp Trail...the long, flat 8.25 mile course...16.5 miles out and back. The weather was suppose to be nice but heavy winds were forecasted...12-15 mph building to 20-30 mph gusting to 40, but what's a little wind?

I stashed an extra bottle of water around the 6.5 mile mark and started my run at the main entrance with nothing but another bottle of water in gels, no beans...not even Gatorade...and again, no watch...I did note the time on the clock on my truck before starting. I liked the feel of the last 20 miler not worrying about time and pace and decided to just pace as I felt and see how it goes with the main objective of the run to get the 20 miler in with no stops and at a good pace.

I started out at a slow pace and found my legs were a bit tight and my right achilles was sore, but after about a half mile they were feeling fine. It was windy out on the course but the first four miles is protected by the trees that line the trail. Even further, there are trees on the canal side that shelters a bit as long as the wind is coming from the NW...which it was today. The wind also brought other dangers to be wary of while running this trail and it wasn't keeping a lookout for bears or bobcats. Since most of the trail is tree lined and with the heavy winds...I was constantly dodging falling pine cones and gumballs...gumballs are the seed pods of the gum tree and about the size of ping pong balls but have spikes...kind of reminds me of those floating exploding mines with spikes sticking out in all directions to sink ships. These gumballs weren't big and they didn't explode but stepping on them while running is very uncomfortable, so you try to avoid them. The road was littered with these little mines and you had to wind your way through these mine fields trying not to step on them. Then the biggest danger was falling branches...most were small but I saw a few that were quite large and could give you a good headache if hit with I tried to stay in the middle of the trail. For the first three miles or so, I would see a few runners coming back and small groups of bikers going and coming. After around the five-mile mark, I hardly saw anyone. Seems like lots of people don't like going out further got to get back too and the further you get out on the trail...the more distance you need to cover to get back to the entrance. So anyone you see this far is usually the hardcore runners or bikers getting their miles in. I kept myself hydrated by chugging on my water bottle about every mile and everything was good. At one point I could see way off into the distance with no one in sight except for the freeway that parallels the trail, off to my left about 500 yards out, and all I could think of was what these people in their cars were saying seeing me running down the trail with no one else in sight. What came to mind was: "Run Forrest Run"! I got to the end of the trail at the turn around and headed back, clicking off the quarter mile markers. It's great having quarter mile markers like this trail has because most of the time you can see the next marker ahead and the miles just seem to go by faster. At the 6.5 mile marker, I retrieved my second bottle of water. Getting back to around the five mile mark, I started seeing other people again, runners, walkers, bikers and even an inline skater. Now if I was having problems avoiding those gumballs...I wondered how the inline skater was fairing. I got back to the entrance/beginning of the trail and since the out and back only netted me 16.5 miles I kept on going out the park and down the road to the 1.5 mile turn around at the other end and back to the park entrance. This section did not have anything to shelter it from the wind. The out to the turn around was fine with a nice tailwind, but coming back into the strong headwind was quite hard especially when there was even stronger gusts. Finally got back to the trail entrance and ran another quarter mile out and back on the trail to complete my 20 miles. I checked the clock on my truck when I time was 2 hrs 38 minutes for a pace of 7:54 minute miles. I was happy with that, especially since I felt really good at the I could do the whole thing over again...But that was only a fleeting thought as I walked and stretched a bit before heading home to a hot shower and a big lunch.

Next week is the final Strider's distance series...a 30K race on Saturday...which comes to about 18.6 miles, and with my usual 2 mile warm-up, I should be getting in another 20 miler too! Looking forward to next week's race.

Happy running everyone!

Mud in Your Eye 6K XC Series #2 of 3, 09Feb08

Ran the second of the three cross-country series called Mud in Your Eye. The first was a 5K at Mount Trashmore and this one is a 6K at Bells Mill Park in Chesapeake...close to where I live! The first one I had a fainting episode prior to the race and tried to take it easy during the race. This second race, I have been recovering from a cold that has been hanging around in my chest for the last two weeks, but still wanted to give it a good effort. After the first race, I was in third place in my age group, trailing the first place runner by about a minute and the second place runner by about 16 seconds. For this race I had hoped to close the distance and hopefully get into second. I was looking for a time of less than 24 minutes.

The race takes place in a park in Chesapeake and the course runs through mostly grass covered trails going around or zigzagging two large grass fields surrounding a couple of lakes/ponds with one field that has a bit of a hill. The weather forecasted a perfect day of low 40's-50's with sunny skies and hardly any wind.

I got to the park in plenty of time and was able to park fairly close to where they were handing out the bibs and chips. I ran the west field as a warm up, took my potty break and headed to the starting line. The start was at the far end of the main field.

At the start we charge down the main field...reminded me of a cavalry charge in one of those Civil War movies, with everyone strung out across the field charging down to the turn. We take a right turn when we reach the end of the field to go around one of the lakes to the second field where we run the perimeter. At the start I was trying to keep the first place runner in my age group in my sights and try to pace off of him...I also 'felt' the second place runner in my age group pacing off of me. I kept the distance to the first place runner into the second field but the pace became noticeably faster than what I had planned. The first mile came in at 6:09 and I was breathing quite hard and running that fast over uneven ground was tiring me out fast. I slowed the pace a bit and the second place runner shot ahead of me and I tried to keep him in sight...thinking I could get my second wind shortly and overtake him near the end. We come out of the second field back into the main field and circle the perimeter counter-clockwise to the back of the hill and then a sharp left takes us up the hill. At the top of the hill we hit mile two and it comes in at 12:48. We go down the hill but make a sharp turn back up the hill and again down the back side until we again continue our circle around the perimeter of the field running on the side/slope of the hill. We continue to circle the main field and towards the end we head back up the field and circle around to the start area and mile three comes in at 19:32...the first place AG leader is way ahead now as well as the second place AG runner. We again charge back down the field like we had at the start and make our right turn going around the lake headed to the second field again. But before we reach the second field we turn around and head to the finish near the entrance to the park. The finish mat clock reads 24:21 as I cross. These cross-country races just beat me up. It feels like I have just run a 10k. I still came in third in my age group but lost valuable seconds to both first and second place finishers. I will need to run a very good third race in the 8K in two weeks to stay in third because the fourth place runner is not far behind me. I just love these series races...but cross-country races are really taxing.

Race Results:

There were 11 finishers in the Male 50 to 54 age group and 271 total finishers.
Overall finish place was 40 of 271
Age group finish place was 3 of 11
Time: 24:21.65 for an overall pace of 6:32 per mile

Weekly Totals:

Mon: 10.1 miles run in Bells Mill Park
Tue: 70 min Elliptical, 75 min Cycle, 11 min Stairstepper
Wed: 9.1 miles run, 31 min Cycle, 10 min Stairstepper
Thu: 48 min Elliptical, 46 min Cycle, 20 min Stairstepper
Fri: 2.1 miles run, 21 min Elliptical, 21 min Cycle, 16 min Stairstepper
Sat: 5 miles run includes 6K race and warmup
Sun: 20 mile run in 2:38 on a very windy day

Next week's race is the third and final run in the Tidewater Striders Distance Series...a 30K race.
Happy training to you all!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

East Beach Norfolk Half Marathon, 02 Feb 08

Today was my first half marathon of 2008...The East Beach Norfolk Half and 5K...Another race that I had wanted to run last year but was unable to because of injury. Another race where visions of breaking the 1:30 barrier danced through my head for the past four weeks...visions that seemed unlikely this last week because of a bad cold that had invaded my body with fever and head and chest with congestion...keeping me hostage at home for two days. But the training continued, although it was a trimmed back version to give this old body energy to fight back the viruses. By Friday evening, most of the body felt good except for a lot of coughing...the body's way of trying to get rid of all that phlegm still rattling around in the upper chest, but I knew that I would still run this race. I still felt confident that I could beat the 1:30 time I had set for myself.

The race takes place in the East Beach section of Norfolk, a picturesque setting along the beach with new high priced houses, condos and townhouses along with the older established homes, apartments, stores and restaurants. The course last year was a simple out and back and flat, but because of some construction going on this year, the out and back portion was shortened and a two-mile loop was added at the beginning and the same loop again at the end.

Woke up Saturday to cold temperatures but clear skies...I like the cold! The forecast called for race time temps in the 30's to 40's with sun and a bit of wind...a perfect day for a race! Drove down in plenty of time and picked up my packet, bib and chip and did my two mile warm-up. Everything felt good and the coughing wasn't too bad.

The horn starts us a few minutes past eight and we are off on our initial two mile loop through the new neighborhood with it's beautiful homes and condos. The first mile came in at 6:16...entirely too fast! I thought I let up the pace a bit but the next mile came in at 6:17. It felt easy and my coughing was only sporadic but I still tried to ease up the pace. We had now finished the loop and were headed out to the long nine-mile out and back. The three-mile mark came in at 19:02 and six miles in 39:09. We reached the turn around point and headed back. Mile nine came in at 59:04 and mile 10 in 1:05:48...again a new 10-mile mark. Reaching mile 11 in 1:12:34, I knew breaking 1:30 was in the bank with only the two mile loop to finish, so I let up on my pace and just cruised around the loop and crossed the finish line in 1:28:03 gun time...broke my PR by over four minutes! Oh Happy Days...The 1:30 is history! With my new time, McMillan says I can do a 3:05 marathon...I wonder if that is true? It doesn't sound possible. The Striders Distance Series 30K in two weeks should tell me more...I want to be healthy for that race and give it a good effort. After the race, a nice new medal for my growing collection along with good eats (Pizza!) and drink, a beach blanket as an AG prize and good runners to celebrate with!

Race Results:

There were 22 finishers in the Male 50 to 54 age group and 312 total finishers.
Overall finish place was 31 of 312
Age group finish place was 1 of 22
Time: 1:28:00.55 for an overall pace of 6:43 per mile

Weekly Totals:

Mon: 31 min elliptical, 46 min cycle, 16 min stairstepper
Tue: 2 miles run, 15 minutes of pushups and crunches
Wed: 8.8 miles run, 30 min elliptical, 30 min cycle, 10 min stairsteppper
Thu: 50 min elliptical, 55 min cycle, 13 min stairstepper
Fri: 2 miles run, 24 min elliptical, 23 min cycle, 11 min stairstepper
Sat: Half marathon, 15 total miles run
Sun: 30 min elliptical, 31 min treadmill, 46 min cycle, 16 min stairstepper

Next week is the second in the Mud in Your Eye cross-country series...a 6K in Chesapeake. I'm thinking about running a practice run on the course tomorrow...just so I will know what to expect this time.

Happy running to you all!