Race #21 – Ortega River Run 5 Miler – Jacksonville FL – 02/28/09

Friday was my birthday, so when Linda asked me what I wanted I was more than happy to announce that I had picked out a race 400 miles away for this Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida. After last week’s bone chiller in Asheville we were both ready for something a little less frosty. The forecast for the Carolinas was miserable but Jacksonville was expecting a high of 80 degrees for Saturday. I liked the sound of that, and with the little bit of leverage I gained from it being my birthday, we were off to the races in the sunny confines of Florida.
We arrived at Jacksonville Beach about midnight Friday and got an oceanfront room so we could enjoy the rest of Saturday after the race and got up bright and early and headed for the Ortega River Run. The weather was as beautiful as the 5-mile course that wound its way through tree-lined neighborhoods as well as across two bridges that crossed over the Ortega River.
This was my first 5-mile race (you might remember I just started running 6 months ago in September 2008) and I was excited that it met all the expectations I had for it. My first mile was the slowest because of all the congestion at the beginning of the race and my fifth mile was the fastest (7:22). This was one of the few races I haven’t taken a walk break at all. I’m still an advocate of Jeff Galloway’s run/walk strategy and I’ll be using it plenty, especially in long races, but I felt so good in this one that I just kept going.
Almost everything about this race was perfect: the food, the T-shirts, the course, the atmosphere, and the crowd. The after-race food was the best we’ve seen anywhere and included (all free for runners) Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, chocolate milk, hot chocolate, bananas, bagels, a variety of chips, coffee, doughnuts (while they lasted), and more that I didn’t get around to.
The one drawback for me personally was that my registration information was somehow messed up and initially I wasn’t listed as being in the race although my number and times were listed. It took a couple of phone calls after we got home but the race officials straightened it out and even took the time to email me afterwards and apologize for the mixup.
Linda happened to get a photo of me just before I crossed the finish line. The photo shows 40:28 but my official chip time from the time I crossed the starting line to the finish was 39:11 (7:51 pace) so I’m really happy about that for my first 5-mile race.
We both came home sunburned and happy from spending Saturday afternoon on Jacksonville Beach in the 80-degree weather and within an hour of getting home the snow started falling and we had our biggest snowstorm (about 8 inches in Gastonia) in the past five years. It was well worth the drive and we’re talking about doing it again (or one of the other Jacksonville races) next winter.
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)
8 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
10 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
7 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (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)
10 – 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 – 100

Race #20 – Park Ridge Hospital’s Frostbite 5k – Fletcher NC – 02/22/09


It was a rare Sunday afternoon race, and to paraphrase an old Bible Passage, “Many were cold, and a few were frozen.” As a devout coward when it comes to cold weather, I religiously checked weather.com all week, hoping the Lord would smile upon us with warm weather for this race, but despite it being in the afternoon the temperature never did warm up — at least not enough the suit me. Temperature at the 2:30 race time was about 32 degrees with a 20 mile per hour wind, making the wind chill around 24. I’m not really complaining because there’s nothing anybody can do about the cold — it’s one of the fringe benefits of running in the winter in the mountains.
According to the race director, there were 420 runners for this year’s 17th annual running of the Frostbite 5k — 100 more than ever before. True runners it seems, unlike myself, laugh in the face of cold weather, and possibly also in the face of those of us who are praying for some warm weather to come soon.
We arrived about an hour before race time and found out there were no T-shirts left, and were pleasantly surprised when they informed us that they would knock $15 off the regular $30 (late registration) fee since we weren’t getting a shirt. The long-sleeved technical shirts were pretty nice but I preferred saving the money since I already have a lifetime supply of running shirts.
The after-race food was good although the line was kind of long. It was fine though since we were inside the hospital’s auditorium where it was nice and cozy. The 5k race was a part of the hospital’s health fair, which was also going on at the same time in the auditorium.
The race was the second race in the Asheville Track Club’s Grand Prix series and the course was tough, at least for me. I’m not used to the hills in the Asheville area since most of my running is down in the Piedmont around the Charlotte area. As is my custom, when the going gets rough, I get in Jeff Galloway mode, which works fine for me. I started out too fast, which didn’t help, and I ran until I got tired, then walked for 30-60 seconds to give myself a break before running again. I took several walking breaks like that but still finished at 25:29, which is not my best time but okay for me considering all the hills. Oh, I left off the part about gaining around 5 pounds over the past week or two after having gone back to some of my old eating habits, so starting tomorrow I’m back to counting points on Weight Watchers until I get back down to where I need to be.
Race Rating:
  • 6 – 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
  • 5 – 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)
  • 7 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
  • 7 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
  • 6 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (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)
  • 4 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
  • 5 – 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)
  • 5 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
  • 3 – 1-10 Other (3 extra points for discount on being out of T-shirts)
TOTAL – 87

Race #19 – Chase for Cupid’s Arrow 5k – Rutherford College NC – 02/14/09

Maybe I’m showing my age a little bit (there’s a scoop for ya) but this week’s trip to the town of Rutherford College, North Carolina (population 1,272) provided a welcome return to normalcy after the pandemonium at last week’s Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh. We had originally planned on running the Cupid’s Cup race in Charlotte but last week my long-time friend Michael Fox emailed me and said he was going to run in Rutherford College. Michael is the inventor of the Dulcijo and is one of the world’s greatest clawhammer banjo players (and the fella who taught me to play the banjo 30-something years ago). So Linda and I changed gears and headed to Rutherford College. The course was a challenge, with a couple of steep hills, but the run through the countryside (you can see it in the photos) was spectacular.
I stopped about ten times during the race to snap a picture. I figure I’m not going to win anyway so a few extra seconds shouldn’t matter, and in the end all three of us — Michael, Linda, and I — all placed 3rd in our respective age groups. That’s one of the fringe benefits of smaller races — a much higher likelihood of placing in the top 3 in your age group. So if you like such things as medals and trophies (and I do) it’s a definite plus. I think there were about 130 runners in this race.
The race was well organized, the after-race food was good, and the long-sleeved T-shirts were among the best we’ve seen (you can see them in some of the photos I’m posting). One other nice touch for us old guys was that during the awards presentation they started with the older runners first and worked their way back to the younger runners. Ordinarily it’s the other way around, and by the time they get around to the geriatric set all of the young folks have gone home and there’s nobody left but us old people. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we still appreciate an attaboy or two every now and again.
Overall, this was one of those races that makes me happy to be a runner.
(Race Results are Below.)
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)
  • 9 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
  • 8 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
  • 9 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
  • 4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (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)
  • 9 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
  • 8 – 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)
  • 5 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
  • 0 – 1-10 OtherTOTAL – 91
6th Annual Chase for Cupid’s Arrow 5K
February 14, 2009
OVERALL RESULTS
PLACE NAME AGE TIME
1. Benjamin Canipe 17 18:04
2. Travis Franklin 15 18:16
3. Greg Kielar 16 19:02
4. Allen Alfaro 42 19:27
5. Mark Rostan 39 19:37
6. Scot Hayward 45 19:58
7. Charles Black 17 20:21
8. Jennifer Leone 38 21:31
9. Mike Flicker 39 22:30
10. Derek Marsh 16 22:44
11. Joe Kent 17 22:45
12. Shane Rooks 41 22:55
13. Rodney Lee 56 22:57
14. Jim Benton 55 23:03
15. Danny Dyson 44 23:24
16. Mackie Johnson 62 23:34
17. Joel Morris 52 23:41
18. Richard Watson 70 23:55
19. Richard Hefner 56 24:35
20. Seth Rickertsen 31 24:44
21. Derek McCloughan 18 24:47
22. Kim Oates 33 24:53
23. Frank Gentry 47 25:05
24. John Brittain, Jr. 45 25:10
25. Melvin Morrison 47 25:23
26. Leon Lewis 68 25:26
27. Amy Alexander 32 25:28
28. Jim Clark 40 25:29
29. Derek Dyson 9 25:31
30. Paul Mears 44 25:53
31. David Johnson 58 25:54
32. Emily Arensman 12 25:59
33. Lindsey Bakewell 22 26:03
34. Taylor Glenn 13 28:05
35. Elizabeth Parson 47 26:21
36. Hannah Arensman 10 26:53
37. Beth Roach 27 27:23
38. Jason Roseman 26 27:23
39. Melissa Littlewood 26 27:43
40. Foster Rich 10 27:45
41. Dale Less 49 27:52
42. Kirk Schwarting 22 28:00
43. Patti Griffin 54 28:04
44. Amber Allen 26 28:13
45. Emily Semmel 20 28:35
46. Robert Braswell 49 28:41
47. Jon White 37 28:44
48. Beth Kolb 30 28:50
49. Heather Wiatrek 36 29:03
50. Lester Copeland 68 29:15
51. Jim Gravely 55 29:21
52. JR Jensen 10 29:22
53. Jamie Reinhardt 30 29:29
54. Laura Roberts 25 29:32
55. Keri Anthony 27 29:38
56. Jerry White 45 29:39
57. Joyce Pharr 62 29:48
58. Laurie Toman 47 29:52
59. Amy Piercy 29 29:54
60. Danny Turner 51 29:54
61. Haley Brinkley 13 29:56
62. Tanner Carswell 10 29:59
63. Amanda Morrison 34 30:07
64. Melanie Mikusa 48 30:09
65. Andrew Call 27 30:09
66. Ingrid Anthony 25 30:13
67. Michelle Pazzula 25 30:18
68. Amber Justice 23 30:23
69. Wayne Thomas 43 30:23
70. Erin Byrd 23 30:44
71. Nancy Thomas 50 31:14
72. Kelly Cain 37 31:19
73. Michael Fox 53 31:20
74. Laurel Morris 23 31:39
75. Kelle Huffman 43 31:40
76. Charlotte McMillan 57 31:46
77. Carol Brinkley 36 32:23
78. Brittany Coffey 11 32:24
79. Katherine Arensman 9 32:25
80. Laura Justice 49 32:29
81. Kristie Compton 30 32:36
82. Ethan Thomas 12 32:48
83. Lynn Thomas 41 32:48
84. Karen Brown 46 32:51
85. Jim Cates 70 32:57
86. Catherine Lowry 44 33:16
87. Stella Turner 22 33:39
88. Wilma Bailey 61 33:51
89. Bridgette Blackwell 27 33:57
90. Alicia Mears 35 34:22
91. Ashley Simmons 23 34:27
92. Carly Raimondo 26 34:30
93. Becky Roach 57 34:47
94. Karen Rich 36 34:52
95. Linda Hefner 56 35:13
96. Teresa Pruitt 48 35:23
97. Cole Wilson 27 35:28
98. Lauren Wilson 29 35:28
99. Erin Leatherman 25 35:40
100. Nick Matzka 27 35:40
101. Anthony Cox 47 35:44
102. Lisa Wall 38 35:44
103. Erin Wall 29 35:45
104. Clementine Folan 13 35:46
105. Annette Skidmore 49 35:55
106. Teresa Clarke 45 36:01
107. Andy Lee 7 36:28
108. Dwight Winters 32 36:34
109. Steve Kent 48 36:44
110. Jordan Zuzolo 11 37:01
111. Scott Brown 47 37:06
112. Walter Pharr 72 37:08
113. Brittani W. 10 38:33
114. Mariea Brown 38 38:47
115. Peggy Mulrenin 52 40:01
116. Rhea Cooper 65 40:54
117. Danny Seagle 69 41:08
118. Tony Edmondson 60 43:58
119. Heather Oliver 32 52:37
120. Joy Garland 10 53:09
121. Jennifer Garland 40 54:15
122. Angie Alexander 34 58:21
123. Lynn Lawson 37 58:34
124. Tracy Oliver 32 58:36
125. Anna Jacks 13 1:00:17
126. David Pollpeter 47 1:01:03
127. ??? 1:01:09
128. Susan Pollpeter 52 1:02:09

Race #18 – 2009 Krispy Kreme Challenge (Raleigh NC) – 02/07/09

So today we traveled 200 miles down Tobacco Road to run the Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh along with 5,000 other sweet-toothed runners. Run 2 miles, eat a dozen doughnuts, and return to the starting point. The “challenge” is to finish in one hour. This was a race without a real sense of urgency, so I stayed with Linda throughout the race and we just kind of ran in mosey mode. Just as well, because when we arrived at the Krispy Kreme that was our destination there was a bit of a logjam (as you can see in the photos) with a few thousand other people trying to get and then eat their dozen doughnuts. The mess on the ground was pretty bad, but didn’t really compare with the organizational mess of this race. It took probably 15-20 minutes just to get the doughnuts so it was probably best to not worry much about how quickly you were going to finish the race. I was in the “Challenger” (timed) category and Linda was in the “Casual” (untimed) category. Before the race I wondered how the challengers might be organized in order to be sure they ate their doughnuts — possibly long tables with judges being sure everything went down before sending you speeding on your way, but nope. It wasn’t that critical. You could have just thrown the doughnuts away or even have just picked up an empty box and took off out the other end (throwing the empty box in a big pile was your proof that you finished). Oh well, it was all for a good cause and they raised lots of money for charity. I bought one of the “finisher” T-shirts on the way out, which should be a nice conversation piece but was an extra 15 bucks. The regular T-shirt given to all the participants was a real disappointment and probably the worst T-shirt I’ve seen in any race. Awards were given only to the Top 5 men finishers and Top 5 women finishers as well as the one person with the fastest split eating time… no age group awards at all. The porta potty situation was also a mess. Luckily most people couldn’t find them at all, which kept the line down to a hundred yards or so. There were a total of 10… that’s 1 for every 500 runners, not counting spectators. Overall, we had fun and I’m glad we ran but I won’t be coming back for seconds next year.
Race Rating:
6 – 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
5 – 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)
5 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
2 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (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)
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)
3 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
9 – 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)
2 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 – 1-10 Other
TOTAL – 65

Race #17 – Alyce T. Guettler Hunger Run – 01/31/09 (Rock Hill SC)

It was a battle of monumental proportions; at least that’s how it seemed as I tried to pry Linda out of bed at 5 o’clock in the morning in the frigid 22-degree weather. My apologies to the Northerners who are laughing at us for thinking that’s cold, but in the Carolinas it’s pretty chilly. I’m a life-long cold weather hater but after missing a couple of races this winter because of it being too cold I decided that’s not happening again if I can help it.
The 29th annual Alyce T. Guettler Hunger Run started at the Dinkins Student Center on the campus of Winthrop University and the student center provided a nice warm place for everybody to gather and meet with other runners as we waited. The awards ceremony afterwards was inside the student center as well, and it turns out the weather was really a non-issue. The sun was shining when the race started and the temperatures seemed to warm up nicely, although I was wearing so many clothes I wasn’t sure whether it was cold or hot.
The course was really nice — just a few rolling hills, nice neighborhoods, and much of the race on the picturesque university campus. I came in 2nd in my age group (55-59), less than 2 seconds after the 1st place finisher. One more biscuit for breakfast and I would have had it! I was relieved that I wasn’t part of the 60-and-older age group, where every older-than-thou silver streaker in the Carolinas showed up to show us young’uns how it’s done.
After the race, the food was simple but tasty (cookies, brownies, chips, pretzels) and there was plenty of it, although adding some fruit to the mix would have been nice.
The awards for the age group winners weren’t great: a mug (or coffee cup or whatever) that said “29th Annual 5k Hunger Run 2009 Award Winner.” I never quite know what to do with an award like that. Should I drink out of it, or put it on a trophy shelf (where it looks like somebody left a discarded cup of coffee), or what? I’ll take a cheap trophy or medal or even a simple ribbon anytime over that, but I guess it’s something and I was happy that I placed.

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)
6 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
5 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (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)
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)
8 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
3 – 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)
5 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
5 – 1-10 Other (5 extra points for use of the student center on a frigid day!)
TOTAL – 79

Race #16 – Isaac Dickson Hot Chocolate 10k – Asheville NC – 01/24/09

After 15 races in 15 weeks we went on hiatus over the winter and missed about 5 consecutive weeks. So now the road racing season seems to be getting started again and I’m pumped. Having begun running this past September, I haven’t really experienced running in warm weather and I’m looking forward to it.

The Hot Chocolate 10k didn’t provide a lot of warm weather but there was hot chocolate and coffee at the end of the race, and the temperature in the low 40s at race time was actually a little warmer than normal, I believe, for an Asheville morning in January.
This was my very first 10k race and I was hoping to finish in 55 to 60 minutes so I was pleasantly surprised that I managed to crack 50 minutes and finish at 49:38 (yay!). I didn’t place but was 7th of 20 in my age group (55-59) and 132nd overall out of 630 runners, so I’m happy with that.

The race is promoted as “Asheville’s Flattest 10k,” which might not be saying much since Asheville is in the middle of the mountains and the race started out on Hill Street. I was a little worried that the course was an out-and-back and the steep half-mile downhill that we started with would have to be climbed when we returned, and I hear that’s how it was in the past. This time around though, they changed the course so that the return trip was only about half the climb (if that much) and I was amazed to see the finish line being so near at the end as we came back up the hill. You can see from the graphic the steep drop at the beginning then the uphill climb at the end. It was pretty flat as advertised throughout the rest of the race and the turn-around point running through about a quarter mile winding trail through a park along the river was great.
There was also a 1k hill climb for the kiddos, who all received a nice medal for finishing the race, and there was live entertainment provided by Kevin Scanlon, a folk musician. The race was also part of two racing series, the Asheville Track Club Grand Prix and the Blue Ridge Cup.
Hey, look at me… I made the photo gallery in the Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper. That’s me on the right (#275).
I pre-registered (I’m over that recent rant about not pre-registering) but not in time to get a T-shirt, and it was a nice one… guess I need to register sooner for races if I’m pretty sure I’ll be there. The school auditorium provided some warmth while waiting for the race to start (and for the families of racers during the race) and the results were posted immediately after the race, and were even on the website that afternoon. The food was kind of so-so and the line was long to get to it, but overall it was a great race that was well organized.
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)
5 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
7 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (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)
8 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
5 – 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
2 – 1-10 Other (2 extra points for being part of 2 racing series.)
TOTAL – 95

Race #15 – YMCA Frostbite 5k – Kannapolis NC – 12/20/08

The Frostbite 5k in Kannapolis, North Carolina, provided a nice change of pace from last week’s massive Thunder Road, and instead of 7,000 runners there were maybe 150. Thunder Road was by far the biggest race I’ve been in over the four months I’ve been running, and now that I’ve done the large and the small I definitely favor the smaller ones — issues such as not having nearly as many people to trip over and the convenient parking and small-town charm are appealing, at least to me.
As you may be able to tell from the photo, the weather was beautiful, unseasonably mild with temperatures in the low 60s, so “Frostbite 5k” ended up being a bit of a misnomer, but that’s fine by me.
As far as the course goes, what Concord giveth, Kannapolis taketh away (they’re neighboring communities). The Santa Scramble in Concord a few weeks ago featured more downhill running than any other race. The Frostbite 5k today had more hills than I’ve seen in any of the previous races. I had to rely on the Jeff Galloway run-walk method quite a bit to get these old bones over some of the steep (and not so steep) hills and was glad to see the finish but it was a lot of fun.
The awards ceremony was really nice, held inside a large meeting room in the YMCA. There was plenty of polite clapping and cheering for the age group winners and for the most part it seemed that people hung around right up until the end. There were also some good door prizes given out before the awards.
>>Click Here for Race Results.<<

Race Rating:6 – 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
5 – 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)
3 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
6 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (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)
4 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
3 – 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)
5 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 – 1-10 Other
TOTAL – 74

Race #14 – Thunder Road Half Marathon – Charlotte NC – 12/13/08

It’s the biggest race in the Charlotte area, this year with about 7,000 participants in the marathon, half marathon, and 5k combined. I just started running about four months ago (Labor Day Weekend) and have run in a 5k race each week since then, so I was a little nervous about this race since I was running in a half marathon for the first time. I was kind of secretly hoping to finish in under 2 hours but I knew that would be a best case scenario since I had never even run 13.1 miles, even in training (my longest long run has been 12 miles about 3 weeks ago). Anyhoo, I finished in 2:01:05 (chip time), and that includes about a 2-minute bathroom stop at mile 8, so I’m pretty happy about that. Maybe next time I can drink less before the race or run a little faster; either way it gives me a number to shoot for.
It’s kind of like apples and oranges trying to compare a race with 7,000 runners with a race of maybe a couple hundred (and sometimes less than 100). It’s easy to get lost in the crowd if you like that sort of thing, and the thought crossed my mind that it wouldn’t be too difficult to get trampled if I happened to slip and fall. Luckily that didn’t happen.
I had been doing my long runs each week very slowly at an 11-minute pace, which is what I read I should do to avoid injury, and that seems to have worked fine. I was pretty sure I could run the half marathon at that pace but, as I told my wife Linda, I’d rather just crash and burn than to run at that pace the whole race so I figured I’d just run at a pace that seemed comfortable, and if I ran out of gas before the end I’d just walk… or crawl… or possibly be carried off. I’ve been doing the Jeff Galloway run-walk sometimes in the 5k races and considered adding some walking breaks when I was tired, but I felt good for the first 8 miles and didn’t do any walking at all until my bathroom break, then in the last 2 or 3 miles I walked a couple times for a minute or so.
Oh… I also forgot to turn off the Garmin at the finish line so that 14th lap is a little long, but 2:01:05 was my official chip time.
All in all, it was a fun experience but there were a couple of major issues we ran into that I wouldn’t expect in a race of this magnitude…
Issue #1: There was some possibly decent food after the race but it was all situated in the corral where all the runners finished. There were hundreds of people just trying to make their way out of this area where you couldn’t even walk, and I had just run 13.1 miles… give me a second to catch my breath before I start eating, okay? There were so many people in this area that it was all you could do to get out as dozens of runners were finishing every minute, but once you got out they wouldn’t let you back in to get to the food. They had a whole block between the finish line and the entrance to the Convention Center where the food could have been located. This area was completely empty. Not to mention the huge area inside the Convention Center where the race Expo was held, where people could have stayed warm and celebrated a little and gotten some food afterwards. So we ended up going to a restaurant instead of mingling with the post-race crowd, which is all you could do if you were hungry after running half the morning.
Issue #2: We registered at the Expo the evening before the race, and when my wife signed up for the 5k she was told that they were out of chips but that “it would be taken care of at the finish line.” Huh? I’m new at this but I’ve been around long enough to know that in a race this size nobody’s writing your name or number down at the finish line. So I went back with Linda to the registration booth to make sure that’s what they told her and they matter-of-factly informed me that it’s no problem and that they would handle it. Of course they didn’t, and when Linda crossed the finish line there was no record of it (how could there be?). Her time wasn’t in the top 3 in her age group, but if it had been it would have been a pretty big deal, at least to her. Her name didn’t show up among the finishers at all, and when she went to the people who were recording the times, of course they were busy with the 7,000 or so finishers who were wearing chips and didn’t have time for the people who weren’t wearing chips. That’s understandable, but dude, if you run out of chips stop taking people’s money. Just say you’ve got x number of chips and that’s how many people can be in the race. If you come after that you’re out of luck. That just happens to be my wife, but how many more dozens or maybe even hundreds of people signed up and didn’t get a chip and basically there was no record of them being in the race?
6 – 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
9 – 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)
1 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
6 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
6 – 4/6 Online Registration (6=Yes and 4=No)
5 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No) (uh… yes and no… see above)
7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
7 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
2 – 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)
7 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 – 1-10 Other
TOTAL – 81

Race #13 – Jingle Bell Run 5k – Kings Mountain, NC – 12/06/08

I intended to take some photos to post here but never got the camera out of the car. It was freezing outside and didn’t seem to warm up any at all. I think it might have been about 35 degrees when the awards were handed out about 10:30 a.m.
The course was up and down (lots of hills) through a maze of local nondescript neighborhoods and was centered around a gazebo at Patriot’s Park near the middle of town. Luckily Kings Mountain is a small town and it was easy to find the park at the edge of downtown KM because no actual address was given for the race other than “Patriot’s Park at the gazebo.” The race was sponsored by the YMCA, which would have been a better place to have the race and would have provided some shelter from the freezing cold. There were also no porta-potties and the only nearby restrooms were in the theatre up the street (which I think might have been providing care for small children during the race).
On the bright side, the long-sleeved black cotton T-shirts were nice and the trophies given out were very nice as well. There was plenty of food too. There were bananas, oranges, bottled water, and about six 6-foot subs from the local SubStation II restaurant. Whoever cut the sandwiches up into individual servings only cut about halfway through, so tearing those off was quite a mess, but hey, it’s the thought that counts I guess.
Race Rating:
  • 4 – 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)
  • 6 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
  • 6 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
  • 7 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
  • 4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (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)
  • 7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
  • 4 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
  • 5 – 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)
  • 1 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
  • 0 – 1-10 Other
  • TOTAL – 74

Race #12 – Lake Norman Turkey Trot – Huntersville NC – 11/27/08

In anticipation of eating too much later on, we decided to work it off in advance by running the 5k at the Lake Norman Turkey Trot in Huntersville. The weather was freezing — about 28 degrees when we arrived — and not much warmer at 8:00 a.m. when the races started. The three races (5k, 10k, and half marathon) started a few minutes apart and everybody ran the same the same route — one loop for the 5k, two loops for the 10k, and four loops for the half marathon. The race was run on the roads of a large office complex, and being Thanksgiving Day all of the offices were closed so there was no traffic to contend with, but there was also the absence of the great scenery you get in a lot of races with routes through historic neighborhoods and beatiful natural areas and that sort of thing.
After the race the food was pretty good — lots of bananas, Dunkin’ Donuts, Gatorade and bottled water — although some coffee or hot chocolate would have been nice to go along with the donuts and to thaw out the frozen runners.
Linda and I lucked out once again and both got 1st place in the 55-59 age groups (male and female.) The awards ceremony was supposed to be at 10:30 so at 9:45 we went to the Starbucks up the street and, wouldn’t you know, by the time we got back they had started the awards ceremony early and we missed our awards. We were able to get them afterwards along with some other people who also went to Starbucks at the wrong time. The awards were excellent though — nice quality plaques with large letters and graphics.
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)
6 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
6 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
5 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (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)
4 – 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)
6 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 – 1-10 Other
TOTAL – 81