Race #396 – Race 13.1 Charlotte Half Marathon – 09/24/17

This was the inaugural race in Charlotte for the Race 13.1 series and about 1,500 runners showed up for the half marathon and 8k combined. This was my second Race 13.1 series race in the past month (I ran the one in Greenville last month) so I collected an extra medal for running both races. If there is one thing this racing series excels in it’s the great medals, so it’s a great draw for the bling fans.

Post-race food included pizza and chocolate milk, which pretty much says it all for me. I’ve been in weight-loss mode for the last couple months so I’m trying to stay away from pizza, but a couple slices after a half marathon hit the spot. I can worry about eating healthy tomorrow.

The race course was predominantly along the McMullen Creek Greenway, which is a popular running area that I’ve been on quite a few times in other races (Charlotte 10-Miler in particular) and the unsanctioned half marathons that are held by some of the Charlotte runners.

I’m hoping to run at least one more Race 13.1 event this year since they have a series that requires three races in order to make your score official, but I’m not sure there’s one I can fit in. As always, so many races, so little time.

Race Number: 396

Race Name: Race 13.1 Charlotte

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Date: September 24, 2017

Race Rating:  106

Winners (Top 20 – Half Marathon):

Winners (Top 20 – 8k):

Course:  Mostly along the McMullen Creek Greenway in South Charlotte. Mostly paved but dirt sections can be a mess when it’s rainy. Nice weather today so no slop. Not too many hills but about 400 feet of total elevation gain in the half marathon.

Elevation:

Weather at Start:  Partly cloudy, 64 degrees, 94% humidity.

 

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Race Photos

Click Here for Race Website

 

My Stats:

Time:  1:44:06
Pace:  7:56
Age Group:  1 of 5
Overall: 93 of 837
Average Heart Rate:  154
Maximum Heart Race: 170
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:21:09 (71.95%)

Great medals for this race! Today I picked up a finishers medal, a special medal for completing the two races of the Interstate 85 Challenge, and a medal for winning my age group!

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 – Water Stops: (0)none (2)normal (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking: (0)bad (1)good
3 – Course Scenery: (0-5) 1=bad and 5=fantastic
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
7 – Finish line: (0-9) 0=bad and 9=spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no

REGISTRATION
2 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
3 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes

RESULTS
2 – Posted online within 24 hours: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Easy to find results: (0)no (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
0 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes
0 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes

AWARDS
5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
5 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0-9)
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
8 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
7 – Entertainment: (0)no (1-9)yes
2 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (2)yes

REST ROOMS
2 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
0 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
4 – Design: (1-5)
2 – Material Quality: (1-3)
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
1 – Prices: (1)expensive (3)reasonable (5)cheap
0 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (1-10)yes

PARKING
2 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no

OTHER
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent
2 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Kids Fun Run: (0)no (2)yes
x – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  106

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Race #364 – Winter Classic 8k & 4k – Charlotte, NC – 01/28/17

Charlotte Running Club’s Winter Classic 8k and 4k is practically a Who’s Who among local races. As the North Carolina cross country state championship for both the USATF and the RRCA it draws some of the fastest runners from throughout the state. Although it’s the state championship at both distances, the 8k is the main attraction and most of the top runners ran the 8k. This year the 4k was held an hour earlier instead of both races being run at the same time so some runners chose to do both, but a lot of the elites saved their legs for the 8k only.

 

Last year this was my first race back after an injury in December and I chose to run the 4k, so this year I opted for the 8k instead and took about 600 photos of the 4k that I posted on Facebook (Album 1, Album 2). I was a little disappointed that there weren’t more photos by other photographers since it’s such a big racing event and in the past the CRC had some great photos of this race, but there were just 115 photos on the CRC Facebook page.

 

As always with this race, there’s lots of pizza at the end and a huge awards ceremony, and of course plenty of friends if you’re a part of the local racing community.

 

Race Number:  364

Race Name:  CRC Winter Classic 8k and 4k

Location:  Charlotte, North Carolina (McAlpine Park)

Date:  January 28, 2017

Race Rating:  107

Winners:

Course:  Unpaved cross country trail, mostly flat. The 8k was two laps of the 4k race.

Elevation:

Participants:

 

Weather at Start:  Sunny, 50 degrees (felt like 46), winds 11 mph/WSW, 29% humidity.

Click Here for Race Results

Race Photos (links in race description above)

Click Here for Race Website

My Stats:

  • Time:  37:40
  • Pace:  7:34
  • Age Group:  2 of 5
  • Overall:  115 of 333
  • Average Heart Rate:  160
  • Maximum Heart Race: 171
  • Age Graded Equivalent Time: 29:33 (71.73%)

 

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 – Water Stops: (0)none (2)normal (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking: (0)bad (1)good
3 – Course Scenery: (0-5) 1=bad and 5=fantastic
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
7 – Finish line: (0-9) 0=bad and 9=spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no

REGISTRATION
2 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
3 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes

RESULTS
2 – Posted online within 24 hours: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Easy to find results: (0)no (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
3 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes  (*RRCA)
5 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes  (*RRCA)

AWARDS
5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0-9)
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
7 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
5 – Entertainment: (0)no (1-9)yes
2 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (2)yes

REST ROOMS
1 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
0 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
5 – Design: (1-5)
3 – Material Quality: (1-3)
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
x – Prices: (1)expensive (3)reasonable (5)cheap
5 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (1-10)yes

PARKING
2 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no

OTHER
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent
2 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes
2 – Kids Fun Run: (0)no (2)yes
x – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  107

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Race #347 – NC Apple Festival 8k – Hendersonville, NC – 09/03/16

Apple-Festival-8k

Due to some last minute changes in my plans I ended up at the NC Apple Festival 8k in Hendersonville this weekend. It’s a well organized and well established race that’s part of the huge festival that draws tens of thousands of visitors each year. There were around 500 runners in the 8k and 5k combined, and the hills weren’t nearly as bad as I imagined they would be in this mountainous area.

 

It’s no surprise that I ran my slowest 8k ever at 37:18, but I was actually pretty happy with the result since I’ve been running dismally slow lately. I still felt the need to walk a lot, but even with that still managed a pace of 7:31 for the roughly 5-mile race.

 

There was a small army of photographers with fancy DSLR cameras snapping photos everywhere you turned, and I’m not sure how many will be available, but the ones I’ve found so far (about 300) are free to download from Facebook. CLICK HERE FOR THE FACEBOOK PICS.

2016-apple-festival-richard-start

Race Number:  347

 

Race Name:  North Carolina Apple Festival 8k

 

Location:  Hendersonville, North Carolina

 

Date:  September 3, 2016

 

Race Rating:  85

 

Winners:

2016-apple-festival-8k-winners

Weather at Start:  Partly cloudy, 61 degrees, 88% humidity.

 

Click Here for Race Results
My Stats:

Time:  37:18
Pace:  7:31
Age Group:  2 of  15
Overall:  32 of  229
Average Heart Rate:  157
Maximum Heart Race: 166
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  29:16 (72.43%)

2016-apple-festival-richard-running

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 – Water Stops: (0)none (2)normal (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking: (0)bad (1)good
4 – Course Scenery: (0-5) 1=bad and 5=fantastic
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
7 – Finish line: (0-9) 0=bad and 9=spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no

I'm not sure I've ever looked worse in a picture... but I kinda like it on some oddball level. Not sure what I was thinking, but I wasn't actually mad at anybody.
I’m not sure I’ve ever looked worse in a picture… but I kinda like it on some oddball level. Not sure what I was thinking, but I wasn’t actually mad at anybody.

REGISTRATION
2 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
3 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes

RESULTS
2 – Posted online within 24 hours: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Easy to find results: (0)no (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes
0 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes

AWARDS
2 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0-9)
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
3 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
5 – Entertainment: (0)no (1-9)yes
0 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (2)yes

REST ROOMS
2 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
0 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
3 – Design: (1-5)
2 – Material Quality: (1-3)
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
x – Prices: (1)expensive (3)reasonable (5)cheap
7 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (1-10)yes

PARKING
2 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no

OTHER
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent
2 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes  (Asheville Grand Prix)
0 – Kids Fun Run: (0)no (2)yes
x – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:   85

2016-apple-festival-richard-with-tutus
If you look hard enough you can see me amidst this sea of legs and tutus.
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Race #284 – Winter Flight 8k – Salisbury, NC – 02/08/15

2015-winter-flight-LOGOThe unseasonably warm 69-degree temperature at the start of this normally freezing race was perfect for me. This was the first year since I’ve been running that the Winter Flight 8k in Salisbury was held in the afternoon, and it’s a welcome change for me. This Sunday afternoon was 15-20 degrees warmer than normal and I loved it, although I heard one or two complaints from people who thought it was too hot.

Now in its 32nd year, the Winter Flight is the oldest 8k road race in North Carolina, and for a number of years it has been the RRCA state championship 8k road race, attracting fast runners of all ages from throughout the state and even drawing some great runners from other parts of the country at times.

There’s a small purse for the winner of $100, but a bonus of $750 for anyone who can break the course record, and a 21-year-old Kenyan who recently arrived in the US to become a professional runner named Eliud Ngetich (they call him “Heldy”) took on the challenge. He not only broke the course record but also the North Carolina state 8k record with a blazing time of 23:07 (a 4:39 pace)!

Old age-grouper that I am, I was more concerned about the 60+ crowd, and there were plenty of old fast guys in attendance, most notably Tom McCormack, the fastest runner in the United States over 60 years old. Last year he won five USATF national championships and became the first person over 60 to run a sub 17-minute 5k when he did it at the 5k national championship in Syracuse, New York. In this race he finished 5th overall with a time of 29:29 (5:56 pace) and told me after the race that he was a little disappointed because he was shooting for sub 29 minutes. Those are numbers that most of us mere humans over 60 can’t even imagine.

Despite being beat by three people over 60 years old I still managed to win the 60-64 age group after the dust settled, since Tom won Masters (40+) and the other two were in the 65-69 age group. My time of 36:36 made this the slowest 8k I’ve ever run but after the way things have gone over the last few months I wasn’t really surprised, nor was I particularly discouraged. No doubt I’ve slowed down some but I just hope to stay healthy and able to run, even if I’m a little slower every year.

2015-winter-flight-bob-tom-mccormack-me
(L-R) Bob Nelson, Tom McCormack, Richard Hefner

 

I should mention that this is the same race where last year I and about 30 other runners took a wrong turn on the course and ran more than a mile out of the way before figuring out we were off course.  It was the result of a confusing sign and lack of volunteers at the turn where we went off course. This year the turn was clearly marked and several volunteers were on hand to be sure it didn’t happen again. All of those who turned the wrong way last year were offered a free entry into this year’s race, which was a great gesture by race director David Freeze and much appreciated by those of us who took advantage of the offer.

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Race Photos on the Vac & Dash Facebook Page

My Stats:

Time:  36:36
Pace: 7:21
Age Group:  1 of  10  (actually 2 of 11 counting Masters winner… I bumped up to 1st)
Overall:  39 of 214
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  28:55 (73.3%)

2015-winter-flight-60-64-age-group
Thanks to Tom McCormack winning 1st Overall Masters, I bumped up and won the age group.

 

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
0 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 – Water Stops: (0)none (2)normal (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking: (0)bad (1)good
3 – Course Scenery: (0-5) 1=bad and 5=fantastic
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
7 – Finish line: (0-9) 0=bad and 9=spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no

REGISTRATION
5 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap! (race day only $30 for 8k)
3 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes

RESULTS
2 – Posted promptly online: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website: (0)no (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
3 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes
5 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes

AWARDS
5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
7 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no (2)yes (5-9)fabulous door prizes! (*I won a $25 gas card in the drawing!)
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
7 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
3 – Entertainment: (0)no (1-9)yes
0 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (2)yes

REST ROOMS
0 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
2 – Design: (0)not good (1)not bad (2)nice (5)beautiful!
2 – Material: (0)cotton (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
x – Prices: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
5 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (2)yes (5)lots of free pics! (*Vac & Dash)

PARKING
2 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no

OTHER
2 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent
2 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes (*Running Journal Grand Prix and NC State RRCA Championship)
2 – Kids Fun Run: (0)no (2)yes
x – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  105

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Race #243 – Winter Flight 8k – Salisbury, NC – 02/08/14

It’s North Carolina’s oldest 8k road race, now in its 31st year. The Winter Flight 8k is also the state championship 8k road race of the Roadrunners Clubs of America (RRCA), the nation’s oldest and largest running organization. In addition to that, it’s also one of the nine races of the Running Journal Grand Prix, which I’ve competed in for the previous four years, but I’m skipping this year except for this single race since it’s nearby and it’s a race I always enjoy.

Possibly my favorite thing about this event is that both before and after the race the runners are able to stay inside where it’s warm. Registration, post-race food, and awards are all done in the Abernathy Physical Education Center on the campus of Catawba College. The race starts just outside the center and the race ends on the track on the other side of the street. Since in most other races the pre- and post-race activities are outside, being able to come inside to visit with friends or just to warm up is a welcome departure from the norm in the middle of winter.

Congratulations were in order for running buddy
and fellow Gaston County Runners member
Matt Longworth, who came in 1st overall and
won the RRCA State 8k Championship!

Race director David Freeze mentioned in his opening announcements just before the race began that the course is the same one they’ve used for the past 27 years. It’s pretty straightforward and there are ordinarily plenty of volunteers at intersections to keep everybody on course, but as fate would have it, this time around somebody took a wrong turn and it had kind of a domino effect resulting in about 30 runners veering off course for almost a mile.

There is an untimed 5k run/walk that begins at the same time as the 8k. The 5k is an out-and-back course that goes halfway out (about a mile and a half) then turns around and returns to where the race started. As we approached the 5k turnaround there was a sign that said “5k” on the left, with an arrow pointing to the left, and on the right side it said “8k” and there was an arrow pointing to the right.

Maybe 50 feet past the sign the road ended and you had to make either a left turn or a right turn. That’s where the problem began. The two runners in front of me turned to the right. I couldn’t see very far in either direction but it seemed to me that everybody else was going to the left. I had seen the arrow a few feet back pointing to the right for the 8k as I’m sure the guys did who turned right. It seemed to me that we should have all gone left since that’s the way the crowd was going but at that point I wasn’t quite able to process what was going on. I actually stopped and waited for the runners in back of me and said I didn’t think we should be going to the right, and they said that yes, the sign said the 5k was to the left and the 8k was to the right. I definitely didn’t want to accidentally follow the 5k route and in just a few seconds everybody was turning to the right, so I headed right. The farther we ran the more apparent it was that we were off course. There were no volunteers at intersections and two or three times we just guessed which way to turn. Finally after running four-tenths of a mile and chasing those first two guys (I don’t remember if anybody else had passed me by then, but maybe so) I decided it just couldn’t be right and I turned around, trying to warn the 30 or so runners who had taken the wrong turn that I thought we were off course so they could turn around too.

We were only in the second mile of the race and I thought about just dropping out completely but I didn’t know where I was so I didn’t know the way back to the start. I also figured that I may as well just get in a training run and see how things went. I also knew that my two main competitors for the RRCA Senior Grand Masters award were in the group that went off course so we were at least in the same neighborhood (no pun intended).

This is only the second time I’ve ever been lost in a race and this time around it didn’t bother me nearly as much as it did the first time, where I actually did drop out. One of my favorite things about the experienced runners who have been running many years is the stories about their races, and usually the best stories are about the times they got lost. So now I’ve got a story to tell.

As I think back on it now, it should have been obvious to me to make that left turn instead of going right. I’ve run this race before but I don’t remember the course. Having said that, last fall I ran the Spooky Sprint 5k, which uses this same 5k course and I turned around where that sign was placed. I should have remembered that the 5k turned around there rather than going up and taking a left turn. The most obvious thing though is that in seeing everybody turning left ahead of us, we should have known there weren’t a bunch of people in the 5k that were up ahead of us. The 5k is untimed and not really competitive, which is why we didn’t see anybody turning around at the sign. All of the 5k people were in back of us at that point and we shouldn’t have expected to see any 5k runners (or very few) up ahead.

It was good to get back on the course again, and it was kind of fun zooming around the runners near the back of the pack. After what seemed like forever I looked ahead and saw a sign saying we were at the 2-mile point in the race. A volunteer was calling out the times and when I hit the mark he called out 19:44. On one hand I was glad that I was still under a 10-minute pace, but I was about 6 minutes behind my normal position at 2 miles. I looked down at my watch and it read 2.81 miles for the distance, so I knew I had gone eight-tenths of a mile out of the way.

I knew I had a lot of time to make up to have a decent race at all so I just kept plugging away. I finally hit the finish line at 40:51, more than 6 minutes slower than the 8k I ran two weeks ago. I still came in 2nd out of 12 runners in the 60-64 age group, which was a little bit of consolation, but I finished just 13 seconds behind the 1st place runner, who also won the RRCA Senior Grand Masters 8k championship. Well, there’s always next year, and race director David Freeze sent out a message a couple days after the race saying that those of us who ran off the course would get free entry into next year’s race. That’s more than fair, especially since it was probably as much our own fault as the race organizers. I do hope that they change that sign next year or have somebody stationed at the turn, but either way, that’s a wrong turn I’ll remember not to take in the future.

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Free Photos on Facebook (111)

Click Here for Free Fun Run Photos on Facebook (34)



My Stats:

Time:  40:51
Pace:  7:05 for actual distance I ran (5.78 miles)
Age Group:  2 of  12
Overall:  33 of  179

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
0 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 – Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good (*except for the one turn… we should have seen it)
2 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (2)pleasant  (5)extraordinary
2 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
5 – Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)not bad  (5)very good  (7)spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes (unless you turned the wrong way)
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
2 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
3 – Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 – Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes  (*RRCA)
3 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes   (*RRCA)
5 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes   (*RRCA)

AWARDS
5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
6 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
5 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
0 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
0 – Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
2 – Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
x – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
5 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 – Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

WEBSITE
2 – Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

OTHER
2 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
2 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes  (*Running Journal Grand Prix)I

TOTAL:  99

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Race #241 – CRC Winter Classic 8k – Charlotte, NC – 01/26/14

Only in its third year, the Charlotte Running Club’s Winter Classic 8k is becoming one of the winter season’s most prestigious racing events in the area. This year, once again, it was the North Carolina state RRCA championship 8k cross country race. A state championship race always attracts fast runners, but in addition to that the CRC is challenging other running clubs in the state to compete in a relay (with all runners going at the same time) for the fastest total time of their five fastest runners. The team that wins gets to keep the “trophy” — a big ol’ World Championship Wrestling belt — until next year’s race. Last year the CRC won it, but this year the Asheville Running Collective showed some serious speed with their top five runners finishing in the top 10 overall (1st, 5th, 7th, 8th, and 9th).

A bit farther back in the pack there were the people like me who would be content to just compete among the others in our own age groups, or with family and friends, or just to compete with our own personal previous race times. Speaking of family, I was pleasantly surprised when my son Dave told me that he and his wife Erica were both going to run the race. It was their second race in as many months and they both had fun and had considerably faster times (pace per mile) than in the 5k they ran a few weeks ago. I’m elated that they seem to be discovering the appeal of running and racing.

As for me, I was just wanting to get back into a race of some sort. I had missed several weeks throughout December and January and had only run the Frosty 50k relay in all of January, and since it was a relay it didn’t really seem like a race to me. Besides the Frosty 50, which is also run on an unpaved path, the Winter Classic was my first actual cross country race. I’ve always been happy running on pavement and the few times I’ve ventured on trails in training it’s been less of an enjoyable experience for me than the roads, and the last time I actually ran on a trail I did a face plant about a mile into the run. The course for this race held at McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte is considered to be one of the better cross country courses in the state and there are a lot of races held there throughout the year. If there had been a road race somewhere I’m sure I would have done it instead, but this was the only show in town so I decided to give it a try. It was a little muddy in a few places but other than that it was smooth running and I enjoyed the change of scenery from what I’ve been used to with road races.

As is often the case, Bob Nelson and I chased Butch Holt throughout most of the race for 1st place in the old guy competition. Butch actually turned 65 recently so he’s no longer in the 60-64 age group but we’d still like to catch him, and in this race the big prize among the 60-and-over crowd was the Senior Grand Masters RRCA state championship award. To make a long story short, I finished 34 seconds in back of Butch and about a minute ahead of Bob. We all had a bit of a surprise though when we found out there was a 61-year-old ringer from New York who just happened to be passing through and beat Butch by about a minute, taking the RRCA Senior Grand Masters award back to New York with him. I was happy with my time of 34:24, which was a 6:55 pace, especially since I hadn’t been racing in a while.

I had done a few training runs at McAlpine before and didn’t think I’d like racing there, but it really was a lot of fun and I hope to do this race in the future as well as some of the other races that are held there. The CRC did a fantastic job organizing the race. The food was great (pizza, hot chocolate, and lots more), there was a raffle drawing with a lot of good stuff, the age group awards included gift certificates to TrySports in addition to a nice mug, the shirts were nicely designed long-sleeved T-shirts, and there were several CRC members along the course taking hundreds of photos in addition to the official photos by Treasured Events of Charlotte.

Because of doing a lot of little things right (photos, food, raffle, etc.), this race got a total of 114 points in my race rating system, which I think is the highest score I’ve given any race.

Click Here for Overall Race Results
Click Here for Age Group Results

Click Here for Official Race Photos from Treasured Events of Charlotte
Click Here for Race Photos on Flickr (600+)

My Stats:

Time:  34:24
Pace:  6:55
Age Group: 2 of  7
Overall:  75th of  264
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  27:25  (77.31%)

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 – Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
2 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (2)pleasant  (5)extraordinary
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
5 – Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)not bad  (5)very good  (7)spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
2 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
3 – Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 – Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
3 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes  *(RRCA)
5 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes  *(RRCA)

AWARDS
5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
8 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
7 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
2 – Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
0 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
0 – Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
2 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
5 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 – Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

WEBSITE
2 – Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

OTHER
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
2 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes  *(Resolution Race Series)

TOTAL:  114

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Race #198 – Turkey Trot 8k at Southpark – Charlotte, NC – 11/22/12

Oops… It’s been five days since the Turkey Trot and it keeps slipping my mind that I’m supposed to write a blog entry about it. I’m preoccupied with other things and I’m not really in blog mode but, as usual, I figure I can write a little something for at least as long as I can keep running.

There’s no big news and I’m slower than I was last year, finishing this year’s Turkey Trot about a minute and a half slower than last year (35:02 this year as opposed to 33:13 last year, which is my 8k PR). I knew going in that I’d be slower. I guess I shouldn’t be terribly disappointed since I finished 2nd out of 50 runners in the 60-64 age group and 232nd overall out of 4,233 runners, which is in the top 6% overall.

For some reason over the past month I seem to have one foot in the grave and the other one on a banana peel and things haven’t gotten any better. Since I’ve run 198 races now I’d really like to finish out 2012 with exactly two more to make it an even 200 so we’ll see how that goes. I’m registered for the Huntersville Half Marathon on December 8th and the thought of running 13.1 miles is a little scary right now even though it would be my 15th half marathon of the year.

Oh, I also became a vegan yesterday. Today I finished off the livermush in the fridge, so some people might accuse me of not being into it 100%, but I did feel bad about it afterwards so maybe I’m on the right track.

Click Here for Race Results

My Stats:

Time:  35:02
Pace:  7:03
Age Group:  2 of  50  (4%)
Overall:  232 of  4,233 (5.5%)
Average Heart Rate:  174
Maximum Heart Race:  179
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  28:11  (75.24%)

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

Note: I made a few adjustments to the rating system as of 10/27/12 to give races a chance to score more rating points, so it can be futile to compare an older race with a newer one. Hopefully the different items on the checklist will inform you of what you need to know about a race. I’m still trying to keep it as objective as I can. The total points points possible are more than 100 but I’m trying to fine tune it so that good races end up in the 85-100 range. It’s too much trouble to go back and make changes to the old race ratings, but one of these days after all of the fine tuning is done it may be much easier to compare races with each other.

RACE COURSE
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 – Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
2 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (2)pleasant  (5)extraordinary
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
5 – Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)not bad  (5)very good  (7)spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
1 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (1)reasonable  (3)cheap!
0 – Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 – Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS
5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (3)fabulous door prizes!
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
1 – Food for Race Participants: (0)none  (1)some  (3)adequate  (7)a feast!
1 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1)yes
1 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (1)yes

REST ROOMS
2 – Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
0 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
0 – Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric (tech shirt option for extra cost)
0 – Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
2 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 – Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
0 – Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

WEBSITE
2 – Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

OTHER
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
2 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes (Running Journal Grand Prix)

TOTAL:  81

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Race #162 – Winter Flight 8k – Salisbury, NC – 02/04/12

This was one of those days that I could have just stayed in bed — kind of cold and dreary, with just enough rain to make me miserable on a chilly February day. There was no sleeping in for me though. The Winter Flight is a special race, one of the winter’s finest, and especially so this year with the race being a part of the Running Journal Grand Prix. I’m currently in 1st place in the 55-59 age group but will be switching age groups after the next GP race (Myrtle Beach Half Marathon) and won’t be eligible for any more points in the 55-59 group after that, so I’m trying to make it hard for anybody to catch me. There was also a special appearance by former Olympian Joan Nesbit Mabe, who represented the US in 1992 and again in 1996. She just turned 50 and came out to try and break the state 8k record for the 50-54 age group, which she did.

I bundled up as usual, looking around at the starting line to see who else might be wearing gloves, a warm hat, and tights. I was the only one wearing all three, but that’s just the way I roll. I’ve seldom been hot in a race and I really hate being cold so it works for me. I lined up with Butch Holt and William Walker, two of the fastest runners in the state in the 60-64 age group, where I’ll be arriving by the end of the month. As the race started I went out ahead of both Butch and William, but I knew I’d see them again before the end of the race.

As the crowd thinned out over the first mile I noticed a runner near me. I didn’t think anything of it at first but then it started to seem like he was matching me step-for-step. We kept going and he was with me at the first mile marker. We probably ran together within just a couple feet of each other for another half mile or so and I finally looked over at him and said, “Looks like we must have had the same thing for breakfast.” He said, “We’re Facebook friends — I wanted to see if I could keep up with you today.” As soon as he said that I realized who he was. He’s a 38-year-old who I hadn’t known before but he had recently sent me a friend request because he said he was impressed at how fast I was for my age. I was glad to meet a new friend, of course, and we ran together for probably another mile before he had to back off a little. Still he finished in 1st place in the 35-39 age group not very far behind me at the end.

Somewhere around the 3-mile mark, just as I suspected, here came William Walker with Butch Holt right behind him. Butch told me after the race that he planned to stay right in back of William the whole 5 miles, then beat him in a final sprint to the finish. His plan worked perfectly and Butch did end up finishing a couple seconds ahead of William. Fortunately for me, neither of them was overly concerned with me since I’m a few weeks away from their age group, so I managed to get back in front of them and finish less than a second ahead of Butch at the end. I didn’t dare look back as we rounded the final turn on the track at Catawba College and headed towards the finish line. I figured looking back would not only slow me down, but there was nothing I could do about whatever was back there anyway, so I gave it all I had because I knew they were doing the same. In that final stretch my heart rate hit 178, which is the highest it’s been in a long time, possibly over a year. I was exhausted, but it was kind of exhilerating too. I thought as we walked off the track that maybe running in the rain’s not so bad after all.

Click Here for Race Results


My Stats:

Time:  34:06
Pace:  6:50
Age Group:  1 of 16
Overall:  26 of 272

**************************************
* RACE RATING  (100 Possible Points) *
**************************************

Note: With my new rating system (started in December 2011) there’s not a chance of any race scoring near 100. If it’s important to you, look at each individual category to see how points were earned (or not). Just trying to be more objective with the details. I generally like all of the races I run. If there’s something that really rubs me the wrong way I’ll mention it in the summary above.

RACE COURSE  (20 possible points)
0 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 – Water Stops: (at least 1 for 5k, 2 for 10k, 4 for half marathon) (2 points)
1 – Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
1 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (1)good
2 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
2 – Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)pretty good to excellent
2 – Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION  (6 possible points)
1 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (1)reasonable  (3)cheap!
3 – Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS  (3 possible points)
2 – Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS  (13 possible points)
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
1 – Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (1)top 3 or better
1 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (1)yes
1 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (1)yes

AWARDS  (9 possible points)
2 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
1 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (1)yes  (3)really cool medals

POST RACE  (7 possible points)
5 – Food for Race Participants: (0)none  (1)some  (2)adequate  (5)a feast!
1 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1)yes
0 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (1)yes

REST ROOMS  (4 possible points)
0 – Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS  (8 possible points)
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice
2 – Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY  (12 possible points)
0 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
x – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
2 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes (Some on Facebook)

PARKING  (8 possible points)
2 – Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

WEBSITE  (5 possible points)
0 – Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
1 – No dedicated site but separate page on other site (organization, running store, etc):  (0)no  (1)yes
2 – Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

OTHER  (5 possible points)
2 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (1)yes, some  (2)excellent
1 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (1)yes

TOTAL:  67

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Race #153 – Southpark Turkey Trot 8k – Charlotte, NC – 11/24/11

This was our third year in a row to run the Southpark Turkey Trot. It’s part of the Running Journal Grand Prix. If not for that, I’d probably run one of the smaller races on Thanksgiving morning. It’s way too crowded, parking is a little bit of a headache, there are never enough porta potties, and the starting line is a mess. For some reason unknown to me though, it’s probably the second most popular race of the year in Charlotte after Thunder Road. This year there were 4,831 finishers in the 8k alone, and a huge number in the 5k as well although I’m not sure how many. I heard that the site said they had a total of 8,500 registered runners. There are about 20 porta-potties and the lines are so long that if you want to start the race on time you better be able to just hold it in until after the race.

With around 5,000 runners in the 8k you’d think there would be some kind of corral system at the start of the race, but nope, it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves, and I seemed to be in back of several hundred of the slowest ones. Although I was fairly close to the starting line, it took 20 seconds after the gun went off for me to reach the starting line, and then I spent the next couple minutes zigzagging through slow runners just to get into an opening where I could run a straight line.
It was uncharted territory day for me. For the first time since it really mattered, I wasn’t able to use my heart rate monitor. I normally start my Garmin, build up my heart rate to cruising speed, then hold it there throughout the race, usually with good results. As we drove to the race on this morning I reached down to start my Garmin and nothing happened. I hit a variety of buttons to try to reboot it, all to no avail. I finally gave up and took off the watch and the heart monitor strap (I figured I may as well be comfortable) and took it as an opportunity to just guess my way through. I had just read an article on the previous night about how one running coach discouraged the use of all of this technology, and although I didn’t agree with it this was the only option I had for today’s race.

It was a little odd not having to start my watch at the starting line, and I felt a little strange not being able to check my heart status as I ran, but in a way it was liberating to a certain degree. There were mile markers in the race but no clocks along the way and nobody calling out times, so the only way I could gauge my speed was by the speed of the other runners, especially the ones I knew. In the first mile, I caught up with Steve Staley and passed him, then Brenny, then somewhere around the middle of the race I saw William Walker from Winston-Salem, one of the state’s fastest runners in the 60-64 division who is also competing in this year’s Running Journal Grand Prix, and I asked him if he had seen Butch Holt, and he hadn’t. I pulled out ahead of William for a while but he passed me later on and went ahead to catch Butch, who was up ahead, and beat him at the finish line. Around the 3rd mile Louis Anderson caught up with me. I don’t know Louis personally and figured this wasn’t the time to introduce myself but I knew he was in my age group and is a great runner. He was on the state champion cross country team in high school and was runner-up in the mile championship in high school as well and still one of the fastest in our age group. Louis passed me and after a couple minutes I went back past him and didn’t see him for a while, but I had the feeling he was close behind. Sure enough, somewhere around the 4-mile mark Louis passed me and slowly faded off ahead.

In the end, it didn’t matter all that much that one or the other finished ahead of me. I was a little disappointed to finish 7th in the age group but there were 117 in my age group and it was possibly the most competitive local race I’ve been in since I started running. By the way, the winner of my age group (55-59) was Jerry Clark, who blistered the course in 28:57, a new state age group record!

As far as my own results, my chip time of 33:13 (pace 6:41) was an all-time 8k PR for me so I can’t complain about the 7th place finish. Second place in the age group was 31:22 and all of the other top people in the age group were bunched fairly close together after that. I’m not sure how much the difficult start affected me (reaching the starting line and dodging the slow runners in front) or the lack of my heart rate monitor. Maybe if I had started in front and had my HR monitor I could have knocked another minute or so off my time, but we’ll never really know and it’s not a big deal.

The good news is that this fall I’ve managed to get a new Personal Record (PR) in all of the major distances that I normally run: 5k (19:40), 10k (41:44), 8k (33:13), 15k (1:04:47), and half marathon (1:31:57). None of those are going to break any records, but they beat the PR’s I set two years ago and are still fast for the 55-59 age group. In February I’ll be moving to the 60-64 age group and I’m really happy to be running my fastest times at 59. No doubt, at some time I’ll be moving in a different direction with progressively slower times, but after a disappointing year last year I thought that had already happened, so pulling out a better year this year was exciting.

Click Here for Race Results


Click Here for Race Photos from Carolina Snapshot


Race Rating:

9 – 1-10  Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
7 – 1-10  Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
9 – 1-10  Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
2 – 1-10  Food for Race Participants (1 to 10) –> Nothing but oranges!
6 – 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)
5 – 0/5   Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=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)
3 – 1-10  Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
5 – 1-10  Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 0-10  Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
0 – 0/5   Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
2 – 1-10  Bathroom Facilities
0-10  Other

TOTAL – 81

My Stats:

Time:  33:13 (chip time)
Pace:  6:41
Age Group:  7 of 117 (6%)
Overall:  161 of 4831 (3.3%)

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