Monday, January 31, 2011

Nice Day in the South in January

What I love about living in the South is that mid-Winter you get a reprieve from the cold weather in the form of a random 60-80* day. This past weekend was our reprieve with highs in the 50s and low 60s. While Saturday morning was still freezing, Sunday was perfect short sleeve/shorts running weather.

Saturday after a short run in the morning, Adam and I headed to Salisbury and arrived in time to see the ending of the Winter Flight 8K at Catawba College. We ran into a few friends who were running or supporting other runners. I ran this race in 2005 and remember the course containing rolling hills and from the feedback from the finishers, that hasn't changed. What has changed is their timing method. I remember they used chips in 2005, but this year, it was all manual. A volunteer was writing down the times as the runners finished along with bib numbers. Finishing runners were handed an index card with a number on it. The number was their finishing place. Then another volunteer grabbed the tag off the bottom of their bib. Other volunteers matched the bib numbers and times to the runner's name and other information. When this system was invented and put in place, I imagine there were only 50-100 runners in a big race. It's amazing how the sport has grown and what industries it has spawned.

The small expo inside the school's gymnasium was nice and I was lucky enough to find last year's model of my running shoe, in my size, for $60. I never get lucky and find shoes I can wear at expos! We didn't stay for the awards and left to have lunch and head back to Charlotte. We hung out with friends celebrating birthdays for FOUR people, which I guess means that April is a popular month for gettin' busy. Sunday was my usual yoga followed by a short run and then lunch with mom. A nice quiet way to end the weekend.

Off the topic, I'm on a small quest to find a great vegetarian burger. I've tried many and at present Boca burgers are my favorite. If you know of one that I should try, please let me know. I'll keep you posted on my quest.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Short Distance Running

26 Days and counting! I've run a minimum of 1 mile for the past 26 days. But my maximum run has been only 8 miles. Can I still call myself a runner if my longest run is "only 8 miles?!" Am I considered a "recreational runner" and not a "real runner" because I'm not training for a marathon and have no plan to train for a marathon? What is the opposite of an Ultra Runner?! Am I less passionate about running because I'm only running 1-8 miles?! I can remember thinking, during a taper period in my marathon training, that 3 miles wasn't worth getting dressed and sweaty over. Now I'll lace up and bundle up against the cold for one mile!

But after that mile, I feel wonderful! I've run every day for 26 days and I can't tell you when I've ever done that. I feel great after every run and I can't say that I've felt great after every long run I've ever done. It's nice not feeling pressured to get in miles and it feels good to just run what I want to run on any given day. Even if it's "just a mile."

With that said, I still want to improve my running and increase my speed. I plan to start back doing track workouts next week. I searched the Internet for ideas on 5K-10K track workouts as I've never done track workouts unless I was following a plan and training for a marathon. It looks short and awesome! I'm looking forward to gearing more workouts towards shorter distances. I'd also like to add back some hill repeats. Maybe I'll try out some 'fartlek.' Not sure what my actual time goal will be. I plan to run the Cupid's Cup 5K to see where I am before I set any time goals.

The weekend before the Cupid's Cup race, I'm running the Uwharrie 8 Mile race through the Uwharrie National Forest. This race is limited to a very small number of people and closes really fast, so I feel honored to be running it for my 4th time. I've actually signed up every year since 2005, but missed a couple of years due to illness. It's probably my favorite race and I'm really looking forward to it! Even though it really is an ass kicker!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Charleston Riverfront Race Festival

What a weekend!

We got a late start and didn't leave Charlotte until after 7:30pm on Friday, which put us at the hotel around 11:30pm. I was exhausted but still had a hard time getting to sleep. The morning of the race I was tired, but had agreed to drive my friend Jen to the start of the 10K in North Charleston so skipping the race was not an option. Jen wasn't registered and was really there to vacation and hang with friends, but wanted to get some exercise. She's faster than I am, but wasn't in the mood to race (neither was I) so we decided to run together. We found each other in the lobby quickly and had no issues getting to the start of the race. It was pretty much a straight shot from the hotel in downtown Charleston to the Navy Yard in N. Charleston. We traveled along part of the route for the half marathon and both remarked about how ugly the course was and how glad we were that we weren't running the half! Adam was running the half, which started a 1/2 mile from the hotel and didn't have to drive to N. Charleston. (All races end at the same finish line in N. Charleston)

I picked up my packet without issue and headed back to the car to try and stay warm. The forecast for the weekend showed lows in the high 30s when I packed for the trip. When we woke up the temperature was reportedly 23* and I hadn't packed running tights! It was still in the high 20s at the start and I was in shorts, two long sleeve shirts, gloves and a hat. Jen was in shorts as well. We started the race so cold that we couldn't feel our knees or feet. It took well over a mile to get warmed up enough to feel my feet. For the first four miles, I felt pretty good. We were running at a good pace and I knew I was pushing it, but it didn't feel like that was an issue. Into mile 5 I started feeling really hungry and tired. I had eaten a Greens bar before the race and it may have had too much sugar, which would explain my hunger. I like to have a half of a bagel with almond butter before I run, but without a refrigerator in the hotel room, I couldn't bring the almond butter on the trip.

The course was pretty flat with maybe one small hill. The scenery was still pretty industrial, but there was a cute older "main street' type section that reminded me of a western movie. It had been on the half course last year as well. There were some strange sections where there were run down houses across from nice, newly constructed homes. I've never understood why people would live in a nice house with a shack across the street. The last 3 miles were the most interesting and were run on the Navy base and a through park. I managed to finish the race at a time of 59:08, which is pretty good considering I walked some in the last 2 miles and I really haven't been training. I was really glad that Jen was there to run with me and push me along. Jen and I went to the car where I quickly changed into warmer clothes and then we headed back to the finish line to find our friends. We found our friends who'd done the 10K pretty quickly as they had finished before us. They'd all done really well and had enjoyed the flat 10K.

Charlotte friends' 10K results:

KAREN GUELDNER 51:28 (placed in her age group!)
STEPHANIE SHERIDAN 58:54 (passed us at mile marker 6)
MEGAN LANDERS 1:01:14 (first 10K!!!)

Adam ran the half and I got to watch him finish. He had run a 1:21 at the Thunder Road half in Charlotte in December. I had asked him how he thought he'd do at this flat half in Charleston and he said he thought he'd run 1:20. I thought that was modest considering how hilly TR was and how flat Charleston is. He finished at 1:19:30 something and was 15th overall. I was so happy for him and he felt pretty good, too. He found us after he finished and asked me about how the packet pickup was and the start of our race. Apparently there was a great deal of confusion at the start line for the half marathon.

We ran into more friends and many of them set personal records at the race. They seemed to be in good spirits and had forgotten the confusion at the beginning. A PR fixes everything!

Charlotte friends' Half Marathon Results:
KATHY RINK 1:32:27
SEAN WELSH 1:43:39

Charlotte friends' Marathon Results:
BEVIN JETT 3:48:32

The post-race festivities were under a tent near the finish line. There was beer and warm shrimp & grits. The shrimp & grits were awful! The year before they'd been delicious with a little spice to them. This year they had some kind of gravy that was pretty bland. I ate the shrimp and tossed the rest. I didn't get a beer because we had plans to go to the Windjammer later and I knew I'd be enjoying a few there. Adam and Jody found their checked bags and we hung out around the stage area to listen to The Blue Dogs play and wait for the race results and awards for the half marathon. I had forgotten to pack my watch, so I'm not sure how much time actually passed before they finally posted the half marathon results, but it was really ridiculous. Then they posted the times in no logical order so it took some time to find Adam's placement results. It turned out that he was FIFTH in his age group! We were sure he had placed and it was a shock when he didn't.

Jody rode back with us because her car was parked at the start line, around the corner from our hotel. We got into the car and drove out of the parking lot towards downtown Charleston. The street was a wide four laned road, but it dead ended at the Navy yard behind us and there were only a few side streets off of it. We were all talking when suddenly a car pulls quickly along side us and then in front of us and barely misses rear-ending another car. I quickly looked at the rear view mirror, thinking that I may be in the way of faster traffic, and saw three police cars behind me obviously pursuing the crazy driver ahead of me. I quickly got in the right lane and stopped to let a parade of 6 police cars pass. My passengers realized what was happening and reacted. "We almost became a statistic!" I said. Jody said "You pulled over fast! I don't think I would have reacted that fast." Jen was texting the event to her boyfriend who was back at the hotel. Adam said "I've always wanted to see a high speed chase!" Later I found his reaction hilarious. We didn't see the chase again after that and I haven't found anything online about it.

The rest of the day we spent with friends having lunch at ACME Cantina with Julie and her family and then drinking at the Windjammer on Isle of Palms. We met up with most of our other running friends including the group we'd run with for the Hood to Coast race. The Hood to Coast teammates were staying at a house across from The Windjammer and we walked over to check out their digs. After watching the Steelers win a playoff game, we headed back to our hotel in Charleston. It was restaurant week and we took advantage of the dinner deal at Tsunami (sushi) with Jen and her boyfriend Mark. It was delicious. It turns out that Mark went to Gardner Webb, like Adam. It was not a late night as we were exhausted from such a long day.

The next day we weren't in a hurry to leave because we both had Monday off. We ran together in the morning through downtown Charleston. We ran at my pace, of course! We passed a firehouse that contained old fire engines and then the Charleston Museum, which we decided we had to go see what it was about. After showering, checking out, eating breakfast and doing some shopping, we walked down to the museum and paid the admission fee.

It was a great idea! Charleston has so much history, which isn't a surprise. I knew that a lot of battles took place during the civil war in Charleston. There was a lot of memorabilia along this vein. The clothing, the mortars, the guns, etc. What surprised me was that in the late 1800s there was a cooking fire that burned all the way across the lower part of the peninsula. It burned almost 600 houses, 5 churches and several businesses. It must have been an amazing and scary thing to see. Several years after the fire there was a year of earthquakes. A couple of devastating earthquakes followed by several, increasingly smaller quakes spanning a year's time. No building was unaffected. I never knew that any place had had a year of quakes and I'm surprised it happened in Charleston.

To sum up the race and the collective thoughts on it; the festival is a great idea, the courses are flat and fast, but the organization needs some work. There's potential there and though the course isn't scenic, it can be excused because it's flat. Charleston is still a favorite destination.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year, New Plan

I never seem to find time to blog anymore. I'm usually rushing right out the door after work or I'm so sick of being in front of the computer that I can't stomach another moment.

The New Year's resolutions that I set for 2010 went mostly unaccomplished. I did manage to see two plays and complete that one resolution. Didn't read 10 books, think the final tally was 6. Didn't visit the Evening Muse once last year, didn't even put together a budget to stick to, I'm still in my condo (no 'For Sale' sign) and I only completed one marathon for the year, not two.

So this year, I've resolved to not make resolutions. Which means I'll probably accomplish something this year! I did make one running goal and that is to see how many days this year I can log at least one mile. I know I won't make it the year due to seasonal allergies, but so far I'm on a 10 day streak. I've overcome a couple of obstacles to keep the streak going. The first was that I forgot my running tights so that I could run after yoga and had to run inside on the treadmill in my yoga outfit. My chosen outfit for yoga that day was the Kermit the Frog pajama capri's, my sister gave me, with a white shirt, you can just imagine what that looked like on the treadmill. Luckily it's the J and no one cares what you wear there. The next obstacle is snow/sleet, which is still around today. I managed to make it to the gym to run 3 miles on the treadmill. Today as there is ice accompanying the snow, but I hope to make it out to the gym again. The shortest run has been a mile, while the longest has been 8 miles.

I'm a bit burned out on distance. However, I'm enjoying the shorter distances so I know I'm not burned out on running all together. I have no marathons or halves planned this year. I think the longest races this year will be 10Ks. This weekend will be my first 10K of the year at the Charleston Riverfront Racefestival in North Charleston. I'm looking forward to it. This week in Charlotte, the temperature won't be more than the low 30s so I'm really looking forward to the low 50s promised in Charleston. I haven't planned any other races yet, though there are several 5Ks on my radar.

Accompanying this new love of shorter distances is a renewed love of yoga. Sometime in December, I got really into going to yoga classes and really out of going to swim. The colder than normal temperatures in Charlotte have a lot to do with that. Something about putting my face into cold water when it's 28-32* outside just doesn't appeal. I'm not sure where this renewed interest in yoga has come from, but it's very compatible with the goal of running as many days as possible. I took my first yoga class at Central Piedmont Community College in 2005 and it's been something I've enjoyed on and off since. I've been going only once a week pretty regularly for about 3 years, which is when I could fit it in around everything else. Lately, the J has increased it's classes and I've been attending more often.

Work is as hectic as ever and I should get back to that. I'll follow with a recap of this weekend's 10K through N. Charleston.