Sunday, December 19, 2010

The sun rises over the frozen North Pole as the Elves awaken

Oh, wait, we're in North Carolina, it just FEELS like the North Pole.  After doing my 19 on Friday, I wasn't sure about what I was going to do Saturday.  I knew I'd want to take it easy and go short.  After seeing that a bunch of DART-ers were going to be at the Mt Mourne VFD Elf 5K, I figured I'd head over there at least to cheer, plus Jo decided that she'd run.
This must be the place-photo courtesy of Chad Randolph

I wasn't sure if I was planning on running, but I put my gear on.  Jo and I had done the race 2 years ago and it was fun, but last year she had pneumonia and I had the flu, so that was a no go.  Once I got there, I decided that I had to do the distance anyways, so signing up would be the best motivation.  On line, I ran into Tony Read, and we talked for a while, he told us about his triathlons training, and it's hard not to want to go out and run.  Went out to the car and ran into Rodney Alan Graham, who was there to run with his son.

After picking up my shirt (love the elf shirts) I headed out back to the port-a-johns (I promise not to rant about the 2 outdoors toilets, really)  and ran into Chad Randolph, Jim Crotts, Jeremy Alsop and Tommy Wagoner talking to Kara Pettie from Run For Your Life - University, who I see at least once a week.  Most of the Charlotte running people I know in one place - cool!  Chad was on his crutches and was there to cheer everyone on, Kara was working the RFYL table and the rest of us were running.

After some chit-chat, we all gathered in front of the firehouse for the start.  This race definitely has a small town feeling as the start is basically just the parking lot in front of the firehouse and everyone just stands together until the start.  Chad was on his crutches and was there to cheer everyone on, which was pretty cool.

The course heads out from the firehouse, up Langtree Road, past the (ever-growing) Lowes world headquarters, does a turn around out on Transco road and comes back, finishing up behind the firehouse.
The start - photo courtesy of Chad Randolph

At the go sign, we all took off up the road.  My objective was just to take it easy.  After the 19 the day before, I just didn't want to pull anything, but I found that for first mile I was just gliding along.  I realized how much more fun the 5K distance is than the marathon.  Just cruising along.  My objective was to pass more people than passed me.  And that proved to be no problem at all.  In fact, no one passed me at all, I just passed them.  I've never had that feeling before.  As I neared the halfway point, I started looking for people I knew, which is a cool feature of this race.

Up ahead, I got to see Jim, Jeremy, Tommy, Tony, and saw Jo heading my way.  Everyone gave each other the little head nod, and kept going.

The second half was a little bit tougher than the first, with more uphill, but I kept chugging along.  Got across the street from the fire station and saw Jo and Chad standing there to bring folks into the finish.

Me and my heel strike coming in to the finish line - Photo courtesy Chad Randolph

Jo and Chad bringing the runners home.

I put on a little burst of speed and made it to the finish line at 28:30.  Not my best time by far, but all things considered, I'll take it.    Met up with everyone in side and got to see the awards ceremony.

Jo got 2nd in her age group
Jeremy Alsop 2nd Male 25-29
Jim Crotts - 1st Male 30-34
Bobby Aswell Jr - 1st Male 45-49
Tony Read - 3rd Male 50-54

Congrats to Marshall Graham for finishing a 5K at the age of 9.

Overall, a good time and a great race.

Partial DART team photo
Jo and I post race

A girl and her trophy

Monday, December 13, 2010

NEWS FLASH! Charlotte is still hilly.

I know I haven't posted in a while, but it's just been the usual marathon training slog, and I'm tired and worn out, same as always.

But, this past weekend was the big running weekend in Charlotte with the Thunder Road marathon and half marathon being run (along with a 5K, which I confess, I have done before)

Every person I knew in Charlotte that runs was going to be there, and the emails were flying with messages of where to meet up and team pictures, etc.  I decided to try and meet the davidson area running team.  We were supposed to meet up at the front door at 7:15, but conveniently I passed Dave Munger, Chad Randolph, and Rodney Alan Graham on the way to the bathroom (truthfully it would be hard to miss Chad's fluorescent orange hat).

We chit-chatted for a while, and then headed outside to see if we could find other DART-ers for our pictures, and for everyone but me to fire up their Garmin GPS units.  It seems that everyone takes quite a while to get signal, so I have the below series of photos of people standing waiting for signal.
Jo with no signal yet
Dave with no signal

Chad with no signal

No one with signal

Getting ready to run
After the pics, I set off for the bathroom, and said my goodbyes to everyone, and asked Chad to please not lap me out on the course.

This year's race didn't start on College Street which is right in front of the convention center, but up the block on Tryon street.  I think Tryon is bigger and is more "central" so i guess that's why they did it.  However, it was quite difficult to get up to Tryon street, since there were a ton of people heading up that way.

Consequently, as the race started, I (and a lot of other people) where trying to get onto Tryon street.  I don't think I've ever seen even a fraction of this number of people in Charlotte before, outside of a Panthers game

The start line - and I'm on the wrong side!
For a few minutes there it felt like a big city marathon (until we left downtown (yes, I call it downtown) and there were about 100 spectators the whole rest of the way).

Once the race started, it was a bit crowded, but kind of fun to run through downtown as a massive pack.  I took the opportunity to stop for a few seconds to take a couple of pictures of the crowd and just kept rolling.

the most people I've ever seen in Charlotte at a single time....ever

About to get run over

Now those of you that read this blog (the 2 or 3 of you) know one of my pet peeves is the way race organizers skimp on the porta-johns.  Unfortunately, Thunder Road was no exception. Recently, this has been a problem, as I find that both here and at the Dowd half I had to go shortly after the race started, and in the middle of the race.  The problem was solved here by some strategically placed bushes right on 4th street that others were using.  But guys, really?  Get some porta-johns.  More on that later.  So getting that out of the way, it was up 4th, which in true Charlotte style changes names for no apparent reason to Randolph road.  The funny part for me is that last year Jo and I used to bike into Charlotte when Julia was in Hebrew school on Sunday morning, and the course up to this point was pretty much our old course.  So it was interesting seeing the roads from a slightly different perspective.  We headed off Randolph onto Colville (another of our biking roads) and then onto my old nemesis, Providence road.  Now, don't get me wrong, Providence is a lovely road, and has nice houses and is interesting.  However, I've been training on this road pretty much every weekend since August, and the Dowd Half was on the exact same hilly part.  So I'm pretty tired of this road.  In fact, most of my Sunday long run preparation these days revolves around finding routes that have nothing to do with either Providence Road or Morehead Street, which again in true Charlotte fashion are really the same road, and Queens Road, whether it be West, East or any other variation of such.

The one bright spot to this road was the sign outside the Providence Sundries place, which I thought was pretty clever.
I laughed out loud at this one

The other bright spot was that the distance on Providence was mercifully short, though hilly.  We turned up on Sharon Lane and kind of did a few interesting twists and turns through some residential neighborhoods.  A highlight here was the guy that was juggling all kinds of stuff.  I talked to a friend of mine later, and he told me the guy was juggling bowling pins when he went by earlier.

Some entertainment

Hit one of the water stops to refill my bottles.  As an experiment this time around, I took 2 bottles with me on my belt, and filled up at water stops when empty.  This let me not have to worry about water was coming from, and I got to skip most of the water stops.  This one was a bit crazy.

No, that's not a riot, just a water stop
The other thing that happened here was the call of nature.  I kept looking for porta-johns, but every place there were any there were 2 and it looked like at least a 15 minute wait at each one.  I wasn't going for that.  As we were heading through one of these neighborhoods, I spied a portasomeone's front lawn.  I guess they were doing home renovations and there it was.  I went around the corner and hit it.  I ran an extra 2/10 of a mile and it was surely worth it.  No line, no wait.  Nice.

Please don't tip over on me
Shortly after this I got a picture of the woman on stilts.  I have no idea how ling she was doing this, but it was pretty cool.

After coming out of the neighborhoods, we got to the ever-present Queens Road (west this time).  Queens road is another really nice road.  It has tons of multimillion dollar homes, and has an amazing awning of huge old trees overhead, that reminds me of Commonwealth Avenue in Boston (though much hillier).  But again, I've been on this road about 100 times this year, and I need a break.

At least partway through we came past Queens University and I got to take a picture with the mascot.
No, I'm not putting my head in your mouth!
Jo on Queens Road West

Then it was the loop around Queens and down to Kings Road again.  Off Kings it was up Morehead.  I have some kind of psychological issue with Morehead.  As I'm coming around the corner, I just know it's there and I start to get tense.  The funny part is, yes it's hilly and tough, but in both the Dowd half and Thunder Road half, i pretty much just cruised up it.  Jo told me later that she gets tense at that exaact same corner too.  weird.  At least at the start of the hill there were a bunch of people with dance music blasting and they were cheering quite a bit which made it easier. It was then up the hill and then just like Dowd, we jigged over to the left and into Dilworth.

The full and half split, thank god i was following other people

I didn't realize it until later, when someone told me but this was where the full and half marathon's split.  If I hadn't been with Jo, and following other people I might've wound up in Noda on the full course!

So it was a couple of turns around the course, and back into town.  As we got towards the finish line, i got to put on a decent kick and got to actually pass a few people.

In the finish corral I saw my friend Ron cheering and I got to take a picture with him.

Got a pic with Jo, and then headed to the Dowd Y tent, where we got to pic up our "extra" medals.  If you did both the Dowd Y half and Thunder Road half you got a 26.2 extra medal.  Pretty cool.

Separated by about 40 minutes

We're done!
Double medal

As usual, I wasn't happy with my time, but what can you do.  For the most part, the DART-ers, Charlotte Running Club folks plus my friend Ron, had a pretty good day.

And Chad Randolph turned in a truly gutty run.  After straining his achillies and getting plantar fascitis halfway through the race, Chad walked the last 12 miles and still managed to come in ahead of where I would've come in.  Pretty amazing.