Race #398 – Novant Health 15k/5k – Charlotte, NC – 10/01/17

I first ran this race back in 2009 when it was called the LungStrong 15k, and I’ve run it several times since then. It’s a popular autumn race and one of the few times most local runners get to run a 15k race (9.3 miles). There’s also a 5k option that starts just after the 15k, and this year the 5k had 367 finishers while the 15k had 471 finishers, a total of 838, which is close to the same number of runners in 2009. For many runners, the 15k distance provides a good test for their upcoming half or full marathons later in the fall.

It’s a pretty course mostly through the upscale neighborhoods on the Lake Norman peninsula just north of Charlotte. It’s one of those races that draws lots of runners from a wide radius so it’s always fun to meet up with running friends I don’t get to see at the local Gaston County races.

There’s a big after-race party with music and vendor tents providing samples of their wares, and the awards ceremony is good although the age group awards are just so-so. This year it was a water bottle and a towel of some sort — I wasn’t really sure what it was or what it could be used for but maybe that’s just because I’m an old man and out of the loop.

I did have a pretty good race though. I’m currently about 10 pounds lighter than a few months ago and seem to be holding at that point even though I’d like to nudge the scale down another 5 pounds or so, which would put me in the 140-145 range. My time this year was 1:10:23, which was enough for 1st place in the 65-69 age group, and 50 seconds faster than last year. Of course it’s much slower than I ran in the same race in 2011 at age 59 (1:04:47 – 6:57 pace), but that’s one of the fringe benefits of aging. I compared my age grade percentage from this year (74.71%) with 2011 (76.64%) and on an age-graded basis I’m a little behind now, but the fall of 2011 was when I ran my best times at several distances.

So this ends two weeks of running two different races each weekend, which included a 5k, a 10k, a 15k, and a half marathon. I didn’t plan it that way and didn’t even notice it until after I had completed all of the races, but I thought it was interesting. I’m now ready to go back to one race per week, which is what I prefer.

Race Number:  398

Race Name:  Novant Health 15k/5k

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina (Cornelius/Lake Norman)

Date:  October 1, 2017

Race Rating:  101

Winners:

 

Course:  Not too hilly but definitely not flat with 334 feet of elevation climb over the course of the race. You can see the elevation data in my splits below. Notice also in the split data that the race measured about 0.15 of a mile too long, at least according to my Garmin.

 

Elevation:

 

Weather at Start:  Sunny, 50 degrees (felt like 48), 6 mph NNE wind, 76% humidity.

 

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Official Race Photos

 

My Stats:

Time:  1:10:23
Pace:  7:34 (7:27 on my Garmin… Course was 0.15 miles long)
Age Group:  1 of 7
Overall:  43 of 471
Average Heart Rate:  157
Maximum Heart Race:  166
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  54:46 (74.71%)

 

Thanks to my friend Kaye Sostak for catching this pic of me near the finish line!

***************
* 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
4 – Course Scenery: (0-5) 1=bad and 5=fantastic
2 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
8 – Finish line: (0-9) 0=bad and 9=spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
0 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes (0.15/mile long)
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no

REGISTRATION
2 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
0 – 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)
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
5 – 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
3 – Design: (1-5)
2 – Material Quality: (1-3)
2 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
3 – 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:  101

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Race #353 – Novant Health 15k – Cornelius, NC – 10/02/16

2016-novant-health-15k-logoThe only local 15k I know of, the Novant Health 15k has been around for many years and was formerly called the LungStrong 15k. At 9.3 miles, the distance fits in nicely between a 10k and half marathon and provides a nice build-up for someone who’s training for a half marathon later in the fall. It’s a pleasant course that meanders through the Lake Normal peninsula, near the lake (although you don’t see it too often) and through upscale neighborhoods.

 

The race is popular but not so huge you get lost. This year there were 489 finishers in the 15k and 279 in the 5k. The only other 15k I’ve run is the Gate River Run in Jacksonville Florida, which is the national 15k championship and averages more than 20,000 runners, which is way more excitement than I need.

2016-novant-health-15k-previous-results
This was my slowest 15k ever, even slower than when I had a stomach virus at the Gate River Run in 2011. Could have been much worse this year though, so I’m happy with the result.

As usual for me over the past year or two, I took more walk breaks than I should. I think it’s because I just don’t have the same amount of stamina I had a few years ago when I was running my best times, but it might also be partially due to just not having the same amount of determination to keep going that I had a few years ago, when winning my age group seemed a lot more important than it does now. Having said that, I did take a peek behind me a mile or so from the finish line and saw somebody I thought could be in my age group, and after that I managed to run the remainder of the race without another walk break, so maybe I’m still more competitive than I’d like to admit. I would find out later that it was Dawson Hancock, who indeed is in my age group and who beat me at the Charlotte 10-Miler early in the year by about a minute. I managed to hang on and get him by 7 seconds. We were both beaten by several minutes by super-fast Tim Richter, who is now 60, but since Tim won Grandmasters I bumped up to 1st in the age group and Dawson bumped up to 2nd.

2016-novant-health-15k-finish
Thanks to Bobby Aswell for the finish line pic!

Race Number:  353

 

Race Name:  Novant Health 15k and 5k

 

Location:  Cornelius, North Carolina (Lake Norman)

 

Date:  October 2, 2016

 

Race Rating:  102

 

Winners (Top 5):

2016-novant-health-15k-top-5
Course:

2016-novant-health-15k-map2
Elevation:

  • Gain:  304 feet
  • Loss:  299 feet

 

Weather at Start:  Sunny, 54 degrees, 94% humidity.

Click Here for Full Race Results

Click Here for Race Photos from Marathon-Photos.com

 

My Stats:

  • Time:   1:11:13
  • Pace:   7:39
  • Age Group:  2 of 9
  • Overall:  57 of 489
  • Average Heart Rate:  160
  • Maximum Heart Race: 177
  • Age Graded Equivalent Time:  55:58 (73.11%)
2016-novant-health-15k-my-results
I was happy with my 5k and 10k splits, but the last 5k was kinda dismal.

***************
* 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
4 – Course Scenery: (0-5) 1=bad and 5=fantastic
2 – 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
2 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
0 – 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
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)
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
4 – 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)
3 – 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

2016-novant-health-15k-marathon-photos-com
Photos were expensive, but maybe worth it if they caught you looking great.

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
0 – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  102

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Race #147 – LungStrong 15k – Cornelius, NC – 10/08/11

What a great sport this is! Where else can you gloat over a record of 1 win and 146 losses? It was inevitable that my winning streak would end at 1 today, but I wasn’t deterred. Win or lose, I’m addicted to getting up on Saturday morning and heading to a race. This was only the 3rd time I’d ever laced ’em up for the 15k distance. My first was this same race in 2009, when I finished in a time of 1:08:16 for 3rd place in my age group, then back in March of this year I ran the Gate River Run 15k down in Florida and was disappointed with my time of 1:10:04.

My goal for today was to beat my time from two years ago and hopefully finish under 1:08. A little more lofty goal in the back of my mind was that it would be nice to finish in under 1:06, which would be 22 minutes for each of the three 5k segments of the race.

It was great to see and talk to a lot of Charlotte area runners at the starting line. This was the final race in the Run For Your Life Grand Prix series so most of the Charlotte speedsters were in attendance. I’m not running that series and it’s only the second one of the GP races I’ve run this year but a lot of our speedy friends are involved.

As usual, I took off at a pace that’s probably too fast and always a faster pace than I’m able to maintain during the race. For me that’s normal and something I expect to do. I take a different approach than most runners in racing. Most decide what pace they want to run then try to stick with that pace throughout the race. With me, I try to run with even EFFORT throughout the race. I just monitor my heart rate, build up to a cruising speed, then try to keep my heart rate at that level throughout. That means I go faster down hills and go slower up hills, and as a race progresses and I get tired, my effort doesn’t produce quite as much speed so I slow down. It’s just a normal progression that I’m used to. One of the results is that I get passed by a lot of people who are running those even paces, and I pass very few people along the way since I start out fast and end up slow. Some very good runners have questioned my technique and said I’d do better if I would take a more standard approach to running, but it works for me, and best of all I really don’t get totally exhausted like I used to. Since my effort remains the same I feel pretty good the whole time. Of course my muscles get tired so there are limits, but up to a half marathon distance it seems to work well.

I got off to a good start for me, hitting the 1- and 2-mile marks at a little under 6:40 each and crossing the 3-mile mark at 20:02. This was actually one of my most consistent long races as far as pace, with my slowest mile being 7:07. I thought about looking at my time in the last three-tenths of a mile after spotting the 9-mile marker, but decided I’d just find out when I got to the end. As we rounded the last corner I could see the clock ahead, and it was great to see I’d finish the race in under 1:05, even better than I had hoped for and a new Personal Record by more than 3 minutes. All in all, it was a fantastic day. The PR’s are few and far between when you’re 59 years old.

Click Here for Race Results

Race Rating:

9 – 1-10  Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
8 – 1-10  Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10) (Great Medals!!)
6 – 1-10  Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
6 – 1-10  Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
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)
0 – 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)
7 – 1-10  Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 1-10  Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 – 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)
6 – 1-10  Bathroom Facilities
0-10  Other

TOTAL –  88

Race Stats:

1st Overall Male:  John Compton (48:25)
1st Overall Female:  Carolyn Maye (59:05)
Total Finishers:  504

My Stats:

Time:  1:04:47 (chip time)
Pace:  6:58
Age Group:  2 of  11
Overall:  72 of 504

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Race #58 – Lung Strong 15k – Cornelius NC – 10/17/09

The Lung Strong 15k was the final race of the 2008 Run for Your Life Grand Prix, and also the longest race in the RFYL Grand Prix series at 9.3 miles. I’m fine with that distance but before the race I was a little worried about my wife Linda, whose longest previous run (even in training) was 10k (6.2 miles). I’m happy to report that she sashayed through the course without any problems at all, so we both completed the Grand Prix series and ran in every race of the season. If I haven’t mentioned it before, when Linda started running last year shortly after me I had never seen her run at all in our 29 years of marriage. Since then she’s run something like 50 races, which is an amazing accomplishment for a 57-year-old woman whose previous athletic accomplishments could be summed up in two words: mall walker.
This morning’s weather was iffy at best. I woke up at 4 a.m. and looked outside to see raindrops bouncing off the pavement. For about 2 seconds I was tempted to go back to bed, but seeing as how I had already paid the registration fee AND it was a Grand Prix race AND I’d feel guilty if I didn’t run AND I hate to miss a race anyway, we were soon headed for Jetton Village in Cornelius. Aside from a few sprinkles during the race, the rain held off and the weather was great for running. It’s definitely one of the most scenic road race courses, winding through Jetton Park and alongside some of the nicest homes on the shores of Lake Norman.
This was an unusual race for me in that I ran the whole race without taking any walk breaks. I really didn’t plan it that way and was prepared to take however many 20-second walk breaks I needed (a la Jeff Galloway). It hardly even occurred to me until I saw the 6-mile marker and realized that I had run two-thirds of the race without walking, and that was when I thought to myself I’d just try to run the entire race if I felt like it, and I was happy with my chip time of 1:08:16 (7:21 pace). It’s hard to tell how much difference it ultimately made in my race time, but my 8th and 9th miles were noticeably faster than my 6th and 7th miles, which is unusual for me…
Mile 1 – 6:59
Mile 2 – 7:02
Mile 3 – 6:52
Mile 4 – 7:21
Mile 5 – 7:21
Mile 6 – 7:35
Mile 7 – 7:44
Mile 8 – 7:23
Mile 9 – 7:14
I ended up in 2nd place in the 55-59 age group and was really happy to see that the age group awards were nicely designed, large medals made specifically for the Lung Strong race. That’s a pleasant surprise after all of the unique awards that have been showing up lately (pizza cutters, jigsaw puzzles, etc.).
One shortcoming of the RFYL Grand Prix races is one I hope they’ll find a solution for in the future. As the premier running events in the area these Grand Prix races should have professional photographers and have finishing photos and photos along the course of the race that people can purchase. I’ve run several of the Palmetto Grand Prix races and they all have photos available after the races. They’re not quite as fancy as the big operations in the bigger marathons, but they’re also not as expensive. It’s a simple process to buy a full size digital photo, delivered through email, for only $5. I believe a lot of people would be willing to pay five bucks for their race photo and surely the Charlotte area is loaded with wannabe photographers who would be willing to give it a try.

Race Rating:
8 – 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
8 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
8 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, 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)
0 – 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)
9 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
3 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
9 – 0-9 Age Groups (9 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
0 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
8 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 – 0-10 Other
TOTAL – 92
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