Asheville Citizen-Times 5k

I decided to run the ACT 5k last Saturday even though I was not ready for it (had not had much time to train), and was pressed for time since I had football games to call at 10:00am (the race was at 7:30).

I am glad that I did take the time to run. I managed to record my best time for a 5k this year finishing it in 37:50 (official bib time was 36:46). Although it was not a PR (personal record) it was under 40 minutes, and I never felt better when I got done!

For those of you that do not know, the course is fairly hilly (as is the rest of Asheville), but I think that the downhills more than make up for all the uphill portions of this course. Which, in my opinion, makes this course a fairly easy one. I would say that the toughest portion is the final hill on Walnut Street. It is a fairly steep incline for about – and I’m guesstimating here – .10-.15 of a mile, right at the end of the race.

Of course, I still did not match my time from 2010 when I ran this course. I finished that race in 33:54 (official bib time was 33:19), and that was my PR until I ran a flat race in February of 2011. I did not run this race last year as I elected to run the 1/2 marathon instead.

Now, after how good I felt, I think that I have re-lit that fire I once had for running. However, I think that I am going to go about it differently. This time, instead of running for a virtual team, I am going to do it for myself. After all, who else do I have to prove anything to? And, who else is going to be there to support me 100% of the time no matter what I do, or what I say (verbally or on Facebook)? The answer is – nobody but myself!

Looking forward – the next race I have in my sights is the WNC Run/Walk for Autism 5k. This will be my second time running this race, but the first time on this course. Last year this race moved from the flat course at Carrier Park to the steep terrain at UNC-Asheville. It will be a challenge, but it is one that I am looking forward to taking on.

And, ultimately, I am looking to start training for my first full marathon next year, it will also be the inaugural Asheville Citizen-Times Full Marathon. I will be looking for a 1/2 to do between now and then, maybe the Knoxville 1/2 in April, but I am glad that I will not have to travel far for my first full like I thought that I was going to have to do.

Shamrock 10k

Yesterday I ran in the 5th Annual ACS Shamrock Run for the first time. This race had a 10k (6.2 miles) and a 5k (3.1 miles) for runners to enjoy. I decided to do the 10k since I had nothing better to do, and an hour to kill.

It turned out to be a very beautiful morning – sun shining, blue skies – which was nice after a couple of days of pouring rain and even a little snow shower. I was kind of expecting it to be a lot colder than what it was, but it was about in the mid-40’s when the race began.

Coming into this race I was a little worried. I had heard rumors that this race was a real beast; that there were some massive hills in the middle of it. Since I had only gotten my lazy @$$ out on the streets once in the past two weeks to run, I was figuring that I was going to have to crawl across the finish line. I really was not in the right frame of mind to start the race.

Well, the rumors were right. Just after the 2nd mile marker the course went straight uphill. Okay, it was more of a winding uphill – it is a mountain after all! And this first 1/2 mile, or so, I swear was anywhere from a 70° to 80° incline. All joking aside, I literally walked for about 5-7 minutes during that third mile. It took all I had to walk up that hill, I really do not know how anyone was able to run up it.

The uphill portion went on for about another mile-and-a-half. We were up so high that there were still traces of snow on the ground, and I could feel the temperature drop! But, it was all worth it once the course flattened out. After all, what goes up must come down, right?! Once I hit mile marker 4 it was all down hill, and my body was loving it!

All-in-all, I was very pleased with my time for this race. My goal was to finish with an average 12 min/mile pace. I finished the race in 1:11:39 for an 11:33 min/mile pace. However, looking at my splits, had that hill not been in the middle, I wonder how quickly I would have finished? Three of the six miles I had a split time of 9:37 or better!

My splits were as such – start: 0:16, mile 1: 10:34, mile 2: 9:37, mile 3: 14:30, mile 4: 15:38, mile 5: 9:05, mile 6: 9:07, .20 finish: 2:52. Miles 3 and 4, as I stated before, were all uphill and a lot of walking was involved. Miles 5 and 6, unfortunately, I had to average since I did not see the 5th mile marker. I gave the sixth mile a couple more seconds than the fifth mile because it was more flat and had a couple small hills, plus there were a couple of seconds missing off my total when I entered all my splits into my log. The start time of 16 seconds was from the time the race started until I actually made it to the starting line.

So, had the course been flatter, I wonder if I could have held that 9:00 – 9:30 pace? I would have had me finishing in under an hour. I guess we will find out in future races if I can hit that pace and hold it!

I am happy with how good I felt when I finished the race, but I was kind of disappointed when the results came out. I finished 131/150 overall and 7/7 (dead last again) in my age group (the results page shoes 6/6, but the overall winner of the 10k was in my age group also). Part of me doesn’t care about where I finish, just that I do and that I am getting exercise. However, the competitive side of me, which makes up about 90% of me, is getting pretty upset because I keep finishing last in my age group, and pretty much as one of the last men overall in almost every race. This is something that I am going to improve upon by the end of the year! 🙂

Foot Rx Blackjack 5k – 1

Yesterday was my first Blackjack 5k. This event is put on by Foot Rx, a local running store, and is held at Fletcher Park in Fletcher NC.

Here is how this race works; runners gather at the location of the event, pay a $5.00 entry fee, and run 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) drawing a card at the start, the midway point, and again at the finish if needed. If the runners cards total 21, that runner wins the pot. If there are more than one runner with 21 then they all share the pot. However, instead of the winners receiving a cash cut of the pot, they receive a gift certificate to Foot Rx.

When I heard about this event I thought that it would be fun to do. Because of the location I knew that it was not going to be a road race, but I figured that it would take place on a paved trail. I could not have been more wrong. This event took place on grass and an unpaved trail. Personally, I am not a big fan of running off-road.

There were only about 56 participants at this event, so that also bummed me out a bit. I enjoy races more when there are at least a couple hundred runners. But, since I was trying to use this event as more of a “group run” rather than a race, I was able to get past the small amount of runner.

Prior to the start of the race I drew my first card, an Ace. That sat just fine with me, giving me a better chance, and better odds, at hitting Blackjack. After receiving our first cards, we all headed out to the starting line and got the pre-race instructions from the Race Director. Shortly thereafter we were off and running.

For some reason I was just not feeling the run yesterday. After only about 2 minutes I had to stop and walk. Usually I can last at least 5 minutes before feeling the need to walk. Even when training around the neighborhood I don’t need to stop until 3 minutes, and that is only because I have to stop at an intersection. So, when I needed to walk at the 2 – 2:30 minute mark I knew it wasn’t going to be that good of a run. I just decided to go the entire time with a cycle of running about 2 -3 minutes and walking 30 seconds – 1 minute.

At the half-way point I drew my second card (I made sure to get it from the same person that gave me the Ace, just a little superstitious about that. 🙂 ). My decision to grab from this person worked, I received a Queen! Blackjack!! I was guaranteed to win. 🙂 After seeing that I thought for a second about quitting the run. But, my ego wouldn’t let me. Even though I was feeling like crap, I was determined to finish the race.

I finally finished the race in 36:35, good for 48/56 overall and 28/30 men. Also, that time was good for about average for my road race 5k time. When I realized that it made me feel a little better about my run. Considering times are typically slower when running on grass/trails, I feel that I have improved my time quite a bit. However, I will not know for sure until my first road 5k. And hitting Blackjack, along with 10 others, gave me a share of the pot good for a $27.00 gift certificate, now I just have to figure out what I need. 🙂

So, other than confirming that I really do not like to run off-road, I learned a few more things about myself. I need to make sure I eat breakfast, running on an empty stomach makes me feel real sluggish. I need to make sure that I have enough water during the race. I forgot to bring a bottle of water with me, mainly because I thought there was going to be at least one water stop provided.

Next week is another Blackjack 5k; same time, same price, same location. And, although I said that I don’t like running off-road, I am going to do it all again. This time, though, my youngest is going to be joining me. 🙂 Also, I am going to make sure to eat and have plenty of water before, during, and after. Maybe this time I can improve on my grass/trail time. 🙂

Hot Chocolate 10k

On Saturday, January 22, 2011 I participated in my first ever 10k race. For those of you that don’t know, that’s 6.2 miles. Over the past 6-7 months I have done many 5k’s (3.1 miles), and 8k (4.97 miles) and  4 mile race, but this has been, to this point at least, the farthest distance I have ever run…and that includes training.

Going into the race I was a little nervous. As I said, this is going to be the farthest I have ever run. The temperature was about 23 degrees around the start of the race, and by looking at most of the other runners you would have thought that it was -23 degrees. Almost everyone was bundled up like they were going to run in a blizzard. I guess that’s what happens when there is a race in January, in the South. 🙂

Anyways, as I said, I was a little nervous going into the start. My wife and daughters, my support group, was not with me at the start (they were volunteers at the last water stop), so I was a little lost as well. However, I had a plan going into the race; I was going to start closer to the front, take it nice and easy, and take some walk breaks about every mile to keep myself fresh. This idea was given to me by a book that I am currently reading, “Galloway’s book on Running” by Jeff Galloway.

Well, let’s just say that my plans were hindered from the start. During the pre-race instructions I realized that I was on the wrong side of the group. I wanted to start on the left side of the pack since that would make it easier for my wife and daughters to see me when I passed by them (the 4th water stop was at the bottom of the hill where the race started and ended). As I was going around the back of the pack (there were too many runners to cut through) I ran into a friend and was talking to her. While we were talking I realized that the race was beginning, and I was in a position that I just did not like…the back of the pack!

I slowly made my way towards the front, as close as what I could, until I was in the thick of the group and getting ready to cross the starting pad. Come to find out, from the time the race actually started and I crossed the starting pad to start my timing chip, 58 seconds had already gone by. This is the reason why I was wanting to start closer to the front. I didn’t want to be at the front of the pack, but in the first third at least.

Now comes the real fun, the event that I didn’t prepare for all that well…at least I didn’t think so. We were off and running and I was determined to finish in less than 1 hour and 15 minutes by pacing myself and taking scheduled walk breaks every mile.

I decided to, once again, take advice from Galloway’s book and pay close attention to my form and see how I felt. I kept my body erect, moved my arms very slightly, and used my ankles to propel me forward. Following this advice I began to feel really good, and was very comfortable throughout the race. I passed by the first mile marker and was not breathing too hard, my legs still felt strong, and one runner that I have been trying to beat every race was not too far ahead of me. I decided, at that time, that I would tough it out until the first water station at the 1.5 mile mark to take my first walk break.

The first water stop comes, I stop and grab a cup of water, and walk so that I can drink the entire contents of the cup. The entire process for this act really only takes a couple of seconds, maybe 15 at the most. Then, I decide that I am going to continue my run. I felt that I could take a break at the 2 mile mark if need be. Plus, I wanted to stay close to my friendly competitor.

I finally caught and passed him at around the 2 mile mark, and, since I still felt strong, and I did not want to give him the chance to overtake me again and lose ground to him, I decided to continue on until the 3 mile mark where the next water stop was located.

When I reached the mid-point of the race, and was heading into the French Broad River Park, I was starting to feel a little tired. I decided to walk a bit at the water station going into the park, drank my cup of water, and hit the 3 mile mark in about 33 minutes. I was either right at, or just ahead of my race pace and still feeling okay. I finished the loop in the park and hit the water station heading out of the park and walked a bit more while drinking that cup of water. I could now feel the effects of mostly training for 5k’s, but I was determined to push on and beat my time goal.

I take off again and decide that I will not walk again until I reach the third water station at around the 4.75 mile mark. I am doing really good and am remaining focused on the task at hand. My legs are still feeling alright, and my breathing, although a little more labored, is still better than what I thought it would have been. I reach the third water station and decide this is a good point to walk for a little bit. I ended up walking for about a minute and a half, and start running again just before the 5 mile mark.

I figure that I am good to go until I get to the final water stop since I only have a little over a mile left to go. Then, I start hitting “the wall.” I realize that I am starting to force myself to continue on. I know that if I continue then my legs will start to get tired and will cause me to walk even more at the end of the race. So, I decide to take one final walk break before I reach the last water station.

Since my support group is working this final station, and I am starting to get really warm, I decide to start shedding my hat, gloves, and jacket so that I can drop it off to them as I am passing by. This is also when I decide it’s time to take my final walk break. I take a two-minute walk break and figure that I am now good to go. I drop my jacket – containing all my extra items – at the water station, grab a couple of cups of water, stop long enough to drink them, then continue on. I am going to finish this race strong!

The final 1/2 mile of the race is uphill. Although I was aware of this before the race began, I was not prepared for how difficult it was actually going to be! Let me say this, I prefer running hills over flat land…but not when it is to finish a race! Especially when it is the longest race I have ever run! This, folks, is where I completely hit the wall, and hit it HARD! I had no choice to walk most of the way up. And, yes, the finish line was actually on an uphill portion of this road. I could see the finish, but I just could not muster up the energy to run the rest of the way. I finally force myself to run the final 50 yards or so to finish.

I DID IT! I finished, and I was still alive, at least I hoped I was!

Here’s how the entire race broke down for me:

I kept a nice  pace throughout the race, my split times were; mile 1 – 9:53, mile 2 – 11:08, mile 3 – 10:57, mile 4 – 11:32, mile 5 – 11:24, mile 6 – 12:13, and the final 0.2 miles – 2:55. I finished the race in 1 hour 11 minutes (my chip time was 1 hour 10 minutes 2 seconds – meaning it took me 58 seconds to cross the starting pad from the time the race actually began).

I realized that I had gone out a little fast to begin with, but, if I would have taking walk breaks – as I had originally planned – I believe that I could have finished with a faster time. I could have at least kept my splits closer to the 11 minute mark rather than them continuously going higher.

Either way, I beat my goal of 1 hour 15 minutes, finished 661/825 overall and 54/58 in my age group (M 30-34). I also finally beat my friendly competitor – although, some might not think it is much of an accomplishment to finally beat the oldest runner in Asheville. But, even though he is 88 years old, he can run a 5k in under 35 minutes, regularly! So, yes, this is a big accomplishment for me. And, in the end, I felt really good after all was said and done.

With my first 10k in the books, and the first big race of 2011 now behind me, it is time to focus on the next race. Although I will be running in a couple 5k’s over the next two weekends – Blackjack 5k’s on 1/29/11 and 2/5/11, put on by Foot Rx – I will mainly be using those as “group” runs. The next race that I will attempt to earn a PR (personal record) will be the Black Mountain Valentine’s Day 5k on Saturday, February 12, 2011.

For a list of upcoming races click one of the “links” to the right.


The final stretch! About to cross the finish line.

For those of you that do not know I have made a few changes in my life since the last time I blogged about anything. I have quit smoking and begun running. I have competed in 7 running events to date, and I have enjoyed them all.

You may notice that there is a new page on my site titled “Running”. On that page there will be a listing of all the races that I have been in and my official times taken to complete those races. You will also notice that I have “PR” next to some of my times, those are my “Personal Records”, or best times for that distance of race.

I don’t know how well I will be keeping up with the page, or how much I will blog about the races I am in, but I will keep it up as well as what I can.


I have also listed upcoming races that I plan to enter, under the “Upcoming Races” heading. If they have their own website I have linked them. 

I will also add links to interesting articles that I find that I believe will be beneficial to other runners, whether they are a new or old runner. These will be under the “Articles” heading. Almost all the articles will come from