Race #8 – Dowd Y Run – Charlotte NC – 11/01/08

For some reason the Dowd Y Run didn’t seem like it would be too exciting but I didn’t find anything else close by we headed over there. I was completely wrong as usual. It was cold at race time but there was all kinds of excitement floating around. The races started with the Autobell Half Marathon and 700 runners, followed about 15 minutes later by the 5k race, which had 319 finishers. The 5k race went through the historic Dilworth section of Charlotte and the free food after the race was some of the best we’ve seen at any of the races yet, provided by several different Charlotte Restaurants.

The T-shirts were the best we’ve seen yet — high quality long-sleeved black shirts with the design on the front showing the Charlotte skyline. It’s the same one on this blog entry and on the official race page here…
My chip time was 25:33, which was only 2 seconds off my fastest 5k time yet. I didn’t place but was happy with the results since I had forgotten my Garmin Forerunner 305 at home and thought I’d be lost without it. It was good to know I didn’t actually need it to run although maybe I should be concerned that I’m stuck in one speed.
Race Rating:
6 — 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
8 — 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
8 — 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
9 — 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
9 — 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 — 4/6 Race part of “Run for Your Life Grand Prix Series” (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 — 4/6 Online Registration (6=Yes and 4=No)
6 — 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 — 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
6 — 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 — 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 — 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 — 3/7 Age Groups (7 if 5-year groups; 3 if 10-year groups)
4 — 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 — 1-10 Other
TOTAL – 92

Race #7 – Runway 5k – Charlotte Douglas Airport – 10/25/08

It was rainy early but the rain stopped in time for the race. Most of the course was on one of the runways so it was pretty much flat the entire way, which was fine by me.

Linda and I both placed 3rd in our age division (55-59) and Mike Rucker (formerly of the Panthers) handed out trophies to all the winners and posed for photos with each winner, which was really a nice touch. There wasn’t enough food to go around, but other than that it was a great day at the races.

“Treasured Events of Charlotte (click to visit)” has posted over 2,200 photos of the race on their website (that’s Linda walking towards the camera in the picture at the top). They did a fantastic job with the photography and got pictures of virtually everybody who was there.

In the race ratings I gave the race an extra 9 points for the great photography, which is usually absent from 5k races unless you bring somebody with you to take pictures.

Race Rating:

6 — 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
8 — 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
10–1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
4 — 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
6 — 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 — 4/6 Race part of “Run for Your Life Grand Prix Series” (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 — 4/6 Online Registration (6=Yes and 4=No)
6 — 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 — 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
8 — 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 — 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
5 — 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 — 3/7 Age Groups (7 if 5-year groups; 3 if 10-year groups)
4 — 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
9 — 1-10 Other (photography)

TOTAL – 95

Race #6 – Foothills Komen Race for the Cure – Hickory NC – 10/18/08

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is a huge race series to raise money in the battle against breast cancer. We skipped the one in Charlotte a couple weeks earlier and went to the smaller one in Hickory instead. The one in Charlotte had around 20,000 participants while this one probably had 1,000-2,000 (not all were runners). The race was fun and well organized, beginning at Lenoir Rhyne University and going through the northern part of Hickory. The medals were excellent (I placed 2nd in my age group). We were informed when we registered that the registration fee would be $10 less than stated because they were out of T-shirts, but after the race there was a table set up with T-shirts and they were giving them away (for free) to people who didn’t get them earlier. Guess they must have found some.
Race Rating:
6 — 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
8 — 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
8 — 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
4 — 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
5 — 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 — 4/6 Race part of “Run for Your Life Grand Prix Series” (6=Yes and 4=No)
6 — 4/6 Online Registration (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 — 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
3 — 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
6 — 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 — 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 — 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 — 3/7 Age Groups (7 if 5-year groups; 3 if 10-year groups)
7 — 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 — 1-10 Other
TOTAL – 83

Race #5 – Oktoberfest 5k – Hickory NC – 10/11/08



I grew up in Hickory, and the Hickory Oktoberfest is one of my favorite festivals to attend each year. I’m always looking for people I grew up with but since I’ve been gone for about 30 years now I not only don’t see anybody I know, if I did see somebody I knew I probably wouldn’t recognize them anyway. Oh well.

The race started in downtown Hickory and went through Union Square and then through some neighborhoods on the west side of town. Nice scenery but quite a few hills, and the race ended at the top of a steep hill (I hate when that happens).
The food seemed like kind of an afterthought. Looked like somebody stopped by the grocery store and picked up some cookies and stuff on the way to the race, but it was better than nothing. The awards for the age groups were kind of strange — a blue glass (like a tumbler) that said something about the race, but I’m not sure what to do with that. I would have preferred a medal or trophy or even a ribbon.
Race Rating:
6 — 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
2 — 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
5 — 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
4 — 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
5 — 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 — 4/6 Race part of “Run for Your Life Grand Prix Series” (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 — 4/6 Online Registration (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 — 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
3 — 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
6 — 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 — 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 — 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 — 3/7 Age Groups (7 if 5-year groups; 3 if 10-year groups)
8 — 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 — 1-10 Other
TOTAL – 70

Race #4 – HOP Race – Morganton NC – 10/04/08

Our first race in October was the 7th annual HOP Race (HOP stands for “Help Our Project”) in Morganton NC, held by the Morganton Service League at Martha’s Park. Very nice setting with a lot (but not so many you were completely lost in the crowd) of runners in both the 5k and 10k races. About half the race was along the scenic Catawba River Greenway. The food was great (pizza and lots of fresh fruit and pastries) and the medals were nice as well.

Race Rating:
6 — 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
7 — 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
7 — 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
8 — 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
3 — 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 — 4/6 Race part of “Run for Your Life Grand Prix Series” (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 — 4/6 Online Registration (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 — 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
3 — 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
7 — 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 — 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
5 — 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 — 3/7 Age Groups (7 if 5-year groups; 3 if 10-year groups)
4 — 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 — 1-10 Other
TOTAL – 77

Race #3 – Hit the Brixx 5k – Charlotte NC – 09/27/08

(Originally posted 11/05/08)

Part of the Run for Your Life Grand Prix Series, the Hit the Brixx race was top notch all the way. The Brixx Pizza buffet was free for all runners and everything was great. I placed 3rd in my age group in the 5k and the medals were really nice as well. It was a little rainy throughout the 10k race but when the 5k started a half hour or so later it had stopped raining and it was pretty dry as we ran through a scenic route in downtown Charlotte.
The one small drawback was that we had to pay several bucks to park in downtown Charlotte in one of the private parking lots, but I guess that’s to be expected downtown.
Race Ratings:
  • 6 — 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
  • 8 — 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
  • 8 — 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
  • 9 — 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
  • 7 — 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
  • 6 — 4/6 Race part of “Run for Your Life Grand Prix Series” (6=Yes and 4=No)
  • 6 — 4/6 Online Registration (6=Yes and 4=No)
  • 6 — 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
  • 7 — 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
  • 9 — 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
  • 4 — 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
  • 6 — 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
  • 7 — 3/7 Age Groups (7 if 5-year groups; 3 if 10-year groups)
  • 7 — 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
  • 0 — 1-10 Other

TOTAL – 96

Race #2 – WNC Run/Walk for Autism – 09/20/08

(Originally posted 11/04/08)

On my second week of running we couldn’t find a race near Charlotte so we ended up in Asheville at the Western North Carolina Run/Walk for Autism. The race was held in Carrier Park, which is an old Nascar race track that was donated to the City of Asheville and converted to a recreational park. The whole setting was beautiful and there were a ton of people and the free food and festival atmosphere was fantastic.
There were a couple of problems though. One was that no race results were ever published. They did post a list of the top 3 runners in each age group but the overall results were only posted as a downloadable Excel file that seemed to be corrupted. I never did get my official time since I wasn’t one of the top 3 in my age group, which was a 10-year group by the way (50-59), and there were probably at least 500 runners.
Also, part of the course was paved and part of it was some other material like some sort of pine bark or something that wasn’t easy for me to run in since I’m used to running on pavement.
Race Ratings
6 — 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
7 — 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
7 — 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
9 — 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
7 — 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 — 4/6 Race part of “Run for Your Life Grand Prix Series” (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 — 4/6 Online Registration (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 — 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
3 — 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
3 — 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 — 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 — 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
3 — 3/7 Age Groups (7 if 5-year groups; 3 if 10-year groups)
4 — 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 — 1-10 Other
TOTAL – 75

Race #1 – Hildebran RoyalFest 5k – 09/13/08

I’m just getting around to posting this photo on the 4th anniversary of this race. A lot has happened since then… As of 09/13/12 I’ve run 190 races including 41 half marathons and 2 full marathons, and have been the Running Journal Grand Masters Champion for two of the past three years (55-59 age group champion the other year). I’ve also lost 30 more pounds, got a tan on my legs, cut 6 or 7 minutes off my 5k time, and bought some new running clothes!

My mom lived in Henry River, which is just a couple miles from Hildebran, and she went to Hildebran school so it’s a special place for me. She died 49 years ago when I was only 7, so when I saw that there was a 5k race there I wanted that to be the first one I ran, so the timing was perfect for me. It was by far the smallest race I’ve been in with only 30 runners, but it was a lot of fun and if they do it next year I’m planning on being there for it.

I gave an extra 5 points under “Other” on this race because it’s the only race I’ve been in (8 so far) that actually had a photographer who took pictures that can be found on the race website.
4 — 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
3 — 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
7 — 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
5 — 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
6 — 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 — 4/6 Race part of “Run for Your Life Grand Prix Series” (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 — 4/6 Online Registration (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 — 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
3 — 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
5 — 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 — 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 — 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 — 3/7 Age Groups (7 if 5-year groups; 3 if 10-year groups)
4 — 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
5 — 1-10 Other
TOTAL – 71

Wow! — There’s a 5K Race EVERY Saturday?

With the risk of sounding like I’ve been under a rock somewhere for the last 30 years or so, I didn’t know that there were 5k races all over the place every week. I had heard about them occasionally but never paid much attention. I started checking some of the running websites and found listings for races every week within a 50-mile radius of Gastonia, and being able to run a race every week was just what I needed to stay motivated.

It’s been eight weeks since that first 5k race in Hildebran, and every Saturday since then I’ve been in a race. Six times I’ve placed either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in my age division, which is great but I know I’ve got a long way to go to be among the very best runners, even in my age division. It could very well be that I’m too old to really improve that much or just don’t have the natural ability, but that’s okay if that’s the case. Running is its own reward, and every time I get out there and run I think about how just a few months ago I was virtually unable to run any distance at all.

One More Shot at Running

Somewhere around the middle of August 2008, after I had lost 15 or 20 pounds it occurred to me one day that maybe I ought to give running another try. I ran just a little bit at first, but this time around I could tell I was lighter and everything felt better. In just a few days I made more progress than I had back in March and I actually felt good for the first time in years.
I started thinking about that 5k I wanted to run with my daughter next year and thought that would be something great to train for. Somewhere I heard about a 5k race coming up in Hildebran, North Carolina, which is where my mother lived when she was young. The race was just a few weeks away (September 13th) and I didn’t know if I’d be ready for it but I was excited about the prospects of running it if I could.
For the next two weeks I worked on running the 5k distance (3.1 miles). My best time in March had been about 39 minutes, but just a couple days before the Hildebran 5k race I timed myself at about 29 minutes — 10 minutes faster than before!
Race day came and I was excited about it since I had never been in a race before. It was a perfect start for me. The race was tiny, with only 30 runners, but there was this small-town friendly atmosphere that I was glad to be a part of. When it was over I had finished 11th overall with a time of 27:56 and I was hooked on running.