Race #253 – Beach Blast 5k – Albemarle, NC – -05/10/14

Pros:

  • RRCA State Championship 5k road race.
  • Hundreds of free photos (many professional quality) from “Vac and Dash” and “On the Mark Sports.”
  • Big downhill in the last mile makes for a fast finish.
  • Great post-race party.
  • One of the best awards ceremonies for any race.
  • This is one of Albemarle’s premier races, and Albemarle is arguably the greatest running community in the state (maybe the whole U.S.), with more runners per capita than any other city thanks to the outstanding Vac and Dash running programs.

Cons:

  • There’s nothing bad I can really say about this race.

Additional Comments:

  • For me personally, I was hoping to win the North Carolina Senior Grandmasters 5k championship but I finished 25 seconds behind speedy Will Morrell, who also beat me at last year’s 10k championship. I actually felt okay about my time though, which was 21:08. Hoping to get back under 21:00 before long but at the age of 62 I feel fortunate that I haven’t slowed down any more than I have to this point.
  • This is one of the few races where I’ve actually had negative splits (6:54, 6:52, and 6:40) thanks to the fast last mile.

Will Morrell and me during the awards ceremony.

Click Here for Race Results


My Stats:

Time:   21:08
Pace:   6:49
Age Group:  2 of  7
Overall:  21 of  522 (4%)
Average Heart Rate:  164
Maximum Heart Race:  174
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  16:42 (77.25%)

A couple of extras you don’t usually see in races are the unique
hand-carved gourd awards for the overall winners and the fresh
baked 5k cookies from a local bakery.

***************
* 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
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
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
3 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes  (*RRCA Championship)
5 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes  (*RRCA Championship)

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   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
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)
9 – 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
1 – 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
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
5 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!  (*FREE actually)
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

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

TOTAL:  110

One of the Vac and Dash goals for this event is to get at least one photo of everybody in the race. 

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Race #229 – Run the Valley 10k – Badin, NC – 09/21/13

I had planned to run the half marathon at this race and I registered in advance for the half marathon, but since the 10k option was the RRCA state championship and I had a chance to win the Senior Grandmasters I decided to switch if they’d let me. I found race director (and friend) Peter Asciutto as soon as I arrived at the race and he switched me over without any problem. It turns out I didn’t win. Instead I finished in 2nd place to William Morrell, a speedy 62-year-old who after the race told me he had been a 4-minute miler in college and has at one time or another held the North Carolina state record for most race distances. He’s also the father of Mary Marcia Brown, a columnist for Running Journal who I had met last year when she asked me to write the “He” part of the “He Said, She Said” column in Running Journal. They’re good people and as much as I don’t like to lose in my age group, if I do lose, it’s best to lose to somebody nice.

I actually felt okay about my performance. I finished 11th overall in the race with a time of 45:33. That’s not a great time but it’s a very hilly course and I walked several times on the big hills. In addition to the walk breaks that I really felt were necessary, I took a couple of extra walk breaks that probably added at least minute to my time near the end of the race when it was apparent that it wouldn’t affect where I placed in the race since there was nobody visible in back of me. The 12th place finisher was about a minute and a half back so I kind of took it easy, at least until there were people watching (not a great racing strategy, but it’s true).

As with all of the Vac & Dash races, this one is well organized and a lot of fun. It’s held in conjunction with the Best of Badin Festival, with the start and finish line right in the middle of the festival, so there are a lot of fun things to do after the race. One of the best things about the Vac & Dash races is that they usually take hundreds of race photos then post them on Facebook for free. I include links below.

Here’s the video I took during the race and a few photos from along the course…

Bobby Aswell, Bill Shires, Sharon Davis, and Seth Utley at the start.

William Morrell, the eventual Senior Grandmasters winner, passed me about a mile into the race and never looked back.

Sharon Davis was 1st overall female in the race. We’ve become friends over the years since we’ve had so many
races where we’ve been close from start to finish. I stayed with her in this race for the first five miles before she
finally lost me in the last mile.

A local cross-country high school team manned the water stops through the winding and hilly country roads.

Here’s Bill Shires coming down Morrow Mountain after the turnaround on the out-and-back course.
He was the winner of the 10k state championship race.

As I was heading back down the mountain after the turnaround point I met a lot of runners from both the 10k
and the half marathon. I always like out-and-back courses because you can see where everybody is in the race.

This was the 11-mile mark for the half marathon so it was about 4 miles into the 10k. I’m still chasing Sharon
and the guy in the orange (or yellow) shirt. 

I got this picture when I turned around and looked in back of me at about 4.5 miles into the race.
The two people in the picture are walkers who are doing the 5k. Since there were no other runners anywhere
close behind I started getting lazy and walked probably a couple of times more than I should have.

The finish line… always a pleasant sight.

Click Here for Race Results

Facebook Photo Album (Start – 214 Photos)

Facebook Photo Album (Course – 319 Photos)

My Stats:

Time:  45:33
Pace:  7:20
Age Group: 2 of 3
Overall:  11 of  100
Average Heart Rate:  162
Maximum Heart Race:  173
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  36:19  (73.94%)

***************
* 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
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
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
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)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
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)
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!
2 – Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
x – Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
0 – 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  (V&D Trifecta Race Series)

TOTAL:  100

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Race #215 – Beach Blast 5k – Albemarle, NC – 05/11/13

There were races all over the place this past weekend and I didn’t decide which one I would run until Saturday morning. I ran the Beach Blast last year and it was a lot of fun so I decided to run it again this year. It’s one of Peter Asciutto’s Vac & Dash races, which are always good. With his quirky races and non-stop promotional abilities, Peter has turned the small city of Albemarle (population about 15,000) into a running mecca. I would be willing to bet there are more runners per capita in Albemarle than in any city in North Carolina, and possibly more than any community in the entire nation.

As I’ve been doing lately, I did a video of the race and I’ll include some photos as well to tell the story.

Here’s the video…



Before the race I asked Sharon Davis about the hills (I never remember those
kinds of details). She gave us a hill-by-hill account of what we could expect.
“It starts out with just a little uphill incline…”

The universal symbol for the top of the hill.

Then a little bit steeper incline.

And this one had me scared.

Bill Shires spotted me a few rows back at the starting line and came back to
chat for a minute. You’ll remember he won the Mount Holly race last week.
He was the overall winner of this race too. I told him afterwards that I thought
I might be good luck for him, but he wins a lot of races without me so maybe not.

This was the first major hill. It’s kind of hard to see in the photo, but just
after the first hill is a second bigger hill. It’s actually more noticeable when
you’re running it (or trying to).

 

Last year Gary Parks (directly in front of me in the white shirt) won the 55-59
age group at the age of 59. I figured he’d be my biggest competition this year
for the 60-64 age group so I was glad l caught up with him at around the mile-2
mark in the race. I thought I’d just try to keep up with him until the end and make
a mad dash for the finish but when he stopped at the water stop I kept going.
I finished in 21:10 and he was close behind at 21:35 for 2nd in the 60-64 age group.

This steep hill was the last on in the race (and possibly the one that
Sharon Davis was warning me about). Notice the red sign on the left
that says, “The Last Hill.”

Approaching the finish line.

Gary Parks just after crossing the finish line.

Always a good post-race celebration after a Vac & Dash race!

Peter Asciutto, Mr. Vac & Dash himself!

Results were promptly posted after the race.


Click Here for Free Vac & Dash Photos on Facebook*


*Several other people posted pics from the race. Pics can be found on the Vac & Dash Facebook page.


My Stats:
Time:  21:10
Pace:  6:46
Age Group: 1 of  9 
Overall:  16 of  398  (4%)
Average Heart Rate:  161
Maximum Heart Race:  172
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  16:52  (76.45%)
***************
* 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
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)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!
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)
0 – 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 (Hand-carved Gourds)
5 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
2 – 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)
6 – 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
1 – 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 
0 – 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
2 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes
TOTAL:  89


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Race #191 – Run the Valley Half Marathon – Badin, NC – 09/15/12

Just on the edge of the Uwharrie National Forest is the beautiful little town of Badin, population 1,154, just a few miles past Albemarle. As you may know, Albemarle is the home of Peter Asciutto’s Vac & Dash, and Peter has helped turn Albemarle and Stanly County into one of North Carolina’s hottest running communities. Run the Valley is one of the premier Vac & Dash racing events of the year and the three races this year (5k, 10k, and half marathon) had a combined total of 466 registered runners. It’s also on the same day as the Run for the Green Half Marathon in Davidson and the Asheville Citizen-Times Half Marathon in Asheville, which are both great races and I have run each of those twice before. I decided I’d do Run the Valley this year since I hadn’t run it before, it’s a Vac & Dash race (which is always good), and registration was cheaper.

I met 23-year-old Jarrett Culbreth as we ran down
Morrow Mountain. together. I was struggling by then
and he wasn’t even breaking a sweat. He ran right along
with me for a while at my pace, and then I told him that
I appreciated the company but he shouldn’t let me
or anybody else hold him back. He ended up
finishing 7 minutes ahead of me and passing
almost half the people in front of us.

The week leading up to the race wasn’t a good one for me. In last week’s 5k I re-strained my right hamstring and spent the week running just 1 mile a day most days, although I did manage to run 3 mostly easy miles on a couple days. I entertained the thought of switching over to the 5k but since I have a goal of running at least one half marathon every month and this was my only chance to run one in September, I thought I’d give it a try, starting out easy in the first half and hoping to build up some speed in the second half if my leg felt good. That didn’t work of course. I warmed up a little before the race with Bill Shires and Sharon Davis and mentioned as I ran between the two of them that I had the feeling that I was running with the male and female overall race winners. In fact, my prognostication was right as they went on to win the race as the top male and female. I wasn’t exactly going out on a limb since they’re both fast runners and most people would have probably picked them to win, but all the same, it’s nice to see your friends win.

I, on the other hand, didn’t do quite so well. I started out too fast and the hamstring bothered me from the outset. It also didn’t help that my Garmin watch was dead and didn’t come on when I tried to start it, so I ran without monitoring my heart rate. Maybe it didn’t matter a lot since I never really ran fast anyway. My final time of 1:48:11 (pace 8:16) made this the slowest half marathon of the twelve I’ve run this year. It’s a tough one though — probably one of the hilliest half marathons in North Carolina, which includes a climb to the top of Morrow Mountain. If it had been flat I’m pretty sure I would have run faster, but still I wasn’t in great shape for a half marathon although I seem to have finished without any major setbacks (the hamstring feels about the same a day after the race as it did before the race) so I’m glad I ran it.

Click Here for Race Results

Vac & Dash Facebook Photos #1 (341 photos)

Vac & Dash Facebook Photos #2 (150 photos)

Vac & Dash Facebook Photos #3 (155 photos)

My Stats:

Time:   1:48:11
Pace:  8:16
Age Group:  1 of  2
Overall:  19 of  85
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:27:31

Awards Ceremony

**************************************
* 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)
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – 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
1 – 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)
3 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (1)reasonable  (3)cheap!
0 – 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
0 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (1)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (1)yes

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

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
1 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (1)yes

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

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

PHOTOGRAPHY  (12 possible points)
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes (Free V&D Photography)
5 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap! (Free)
2 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes (on Vac & Dash)

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)
0 – 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
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (1)yes

TOTAL:  81

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Race #175 – Beach Blast 5k – Albemarle, NC – 05/12/12

It’s a little bit of a drive to Albemarle so we don’t get over there as often as we would like, but it’s always fun to run a Vac & Dash race. For the uninitiated, Vac & Dash is a store in downtown Albemarle that sells, you guessed it, vacuum cleaners and running gear. That may sound like an odd combination, and it really is, but thanks to owner Peter Asciutto’s outgoing personality, ingenuity, and unique perspective on how to organize a race, Albemarle’s running community is one of the largest and most enthusiastic you’ll find anywhere.

 Never mind the fact the Albemarle is a couple hundred miles from the beach. We’re approaching summertime, which is beach season, so I’ll just guess that’s the reasoning behind the name. It’s probably best not to try to over-think these things.

After my less-than-stellar showing in last week’s race I decided last Sunday that I needed to lose weight. Instead of Weight Watchers this time around I thought I’d take the free route and go with Calorie Count, which is a great online program that doesn’t cost anything and works beautifully. Of course, like any diet plan, it only works if you do the things you’re supposed to do, and that’s where I generally trip up. This time though I managed to stick with it all week. I ate less than 2,000 calories each day and didn’t eat extra because of running, and by the end of the week I had lost 5 pounds, going from 152 to 147. With two big races coming up in the next two weeks I know that the only way to do well is to drop those extra pounds I’ve been carrying for the past six months. So far, so good, and now that I’m on a roll I plan on sticking with it until I get back down to my optimum weight of 140 pounds.

The first two miles of the race were tough, with a gradual series of uphill climbs of varying degrees. Fortunately, the last mile paid us back for all of that climbing with a lot of downhill. If I get to choose (and I rarely do), I prefer the uphills to be in the first part of the race and the downhills in the last half, so it worked out well for me.

Two weeks ago I ran two 5k races: the Cherry Blossom 5k (21:57) on Friday night and the Bulldog 5k (21:20) on Saturday morning. Having lost 5 pounds this week my main goal was to run in under 21 minutes. I crossed the finish line today at 20:58, and I’m pretty sure the improved time is the result of losing the 5 pounds. I’m hoping that when (and if) I lose the other 5 pounds my 5k times will dip back down to the range of 20:30 or so.

Click Here for Race Results


Click Here for 400+ Free Photos on Facebook (Vac & Dash page)


My Stats:

Time:  20:58
Pace:  6:46
Age Group:  1 of  9
Overall:  19 of  420

**************************************
* 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)
3 – 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)
0 – 70+ group (1)
1 – Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (1)top 3 or better
0 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (1)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (1)yes

AWARDS  (9 possible points)
2 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
2 – 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)
2 – Food for Race Participants: (0)none  (1)some  (2)adequate  (5)a feast!
1 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1)yes
1 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (1)yes

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

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

PHOTOGRAPHY  (12 possible points)
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes  ——> 400+ free pics!
5 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
2 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes

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

TOTAL:  77

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Race #98 – Tour de Elvis – Albemarle, NC – 08/13/10

Elvis Presley cor 04photo © 2010 Luiz Fernando Reis | more info (via: Wylio)

If you have a sneaking SUSPICION that I’m going to the TROUBLE of trying to fit in all of the Elvis song titles into this post that I can think of, forget it. First of all, it’s way TOO MUCH work. IT HURTS ME that some people have such SUSPICIOUS MINDS, but THAT’S ALL RIGHT.
Early in the day I told Linda we would need to leave in plenty of time for the race since it was WAY DOWN in Albemarle, and she said, “If you LOVE ME you’ll let me take a nap before we leave. I said to her, “This is ONE NIGHT race I don’t want to miss. RECONSIDER BABY. You can always take a nap tomorrow.” So she said to me, “TOMORROW IS A LONG TIME, and I JUST CAN’T HELP BELIEVING that if I get a nap I won’t be ALL SHOOK UP during the race and I’ll be able to run better and maybe not take any walk breaks. I told her not to worry about it because “plenty of people walk, so YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE.”
I decided since I have such a BURNING LOVE for her she could go ahead and take her nap. I learned long ago to treat the women in my life with respect. When I was young and we lived IN THE GHETTO I got a little frisky with THE GIRL OF MY BEST FRIEND (or maybe it was hisLITTLE SISTER). It’s hard to explain, but A FOOL SUCH AS I has certain things that are ALWAYS ON MY MIND. Now even though I don’t remember if she was HIS LATEST FLAME or his sister, we called her POLK SALAD ANNIE, and THAT’S SOMEONE YOU’LL NEVER FORGET. One day when my friend wasn’t around I said to Annie, “BABY, LET’S PLAY HOUSE,” if you know what I mean. Well, one thing led to another and next thing I knew people were treating me worse than aHOUND DOG. I was in A MESS OF BLUES for sure, but I guess I’m just one of those guys whoCAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE. Lucky for me I didn’t end up in the JAILHOUSE. ROCKy, who had been a really good friend up to that point, never forgave me, even though I tried to change and told him, “Rocky, I’m DOING THE BEST I CAN.”
But I digress. Where were we? Oh yeah, so I let Linda take a nap. No biggy. I’m somewhat of aGUITAR MAN so I picked my axe and picked a few tunes until it was time to leave. I yelled into the bedroom, “IT’S NOW OR NEVER,” and as usual, got no response. Again I yelled, “ANY DAY NOW,” trying not to sound overly sarcastic. One more time I tried: “I’M LEAVIN’!’” She whimpered back, “DON’T BE CRUEL,” and old romantic that I am, decided on a different approach. “Did you know there’s going to be a BLUE MOON tonight? Let’s go and enjoy it together.” I was lying of course, but finally she stumbled out of bed. Frugal people that we are, we decided to drive the Honda Fit instead of our LONG BLACK LIMOUSINE, and headed over to Albemarle.
The race was classic Vac & Dash (that’s a good thing). It was a less-than-stellar performance for me, finishing at 22:25, but it was a hot night (there’s my excuse) and there were a couple of cross country high school teams with 10 or 12 runners each who were there to demoralize most of us 58-year-olds. There was Elvis music a’plenty and lots of good food afterwards including peanut butter and banana sandwiches (Elvis’ favorite), jelly donuts, pizza, and lots of other good stuff in addition to the healthy fare, which of course I didn’t touch.
Race Rating:
8 – 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
7 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
8 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
9 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
7 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
0 – 0/5 Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
4 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
3 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
7 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 – 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)
8 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0-10 Other
TOTAL – 91
My Stats:
Time: 22:25
Pace: 7:13
Age Group: 1 of 5
Overall: 42 of 196
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Race #79 – April Fools Day 5k Classic – Albemarle, NC – 04/01/10

Are you kiddin’ me? I scoffed when Linda said I resembled a plucked chicken in my new racing singlet. There’s nothing quite like being really old and feeling really young (which I am and I do), but when I found out that April 1st was Susan Boyle’s birthday and I’m nine years older than her, for a few minutes at least, reality set in and spring chicken took on a whole new meaning.
As I dreamed a dream of days gone by, with shoelaces untied we headed up to “The 1st Ever Vac & Dash April Fools Day 5k Classic” in Albemarle. Although it’s only about 60 miles from Gastonia, we were probably halfway there before we realized that neither of us had actually ever been to Albemarle. In a mixture of geodyslexia and shriveled brain cells that were partly due to age and partly to being a survivor of the sixties (the resulting concoction smelled a little like mothballs), I had confused Albemarle with Asheboro, and only by the grace of GPS did we end up at the race instead of the zoo.
It was our first direct exposure to Peter Asciutto, the man behind Vac & Dash, “The South’s Most Unique Specialty Store,” an enterprise that sells vacuum cleaners and running shoes. Peter’s apparently a jack-of-all-trades and the Pied Piper of running in Albemarle. In this town of only about 15,000 people, running seems to be a big priority for a lot of folks, and while I don’t have any real data on how much Peter has to do with it, I have a feeling he’s responsible for a huge portion of the enthusiasm for running in this area.
As advertised, the race was a lot of fun. I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect, but it was generally a semi-serious 5k race with some plot twists along the way. On this almost summer-like spring day where the temperature reached about 85 degrees, being pelted by water balloons and water guns of all types as well as running through sprinklers all felt pretty good. At one point we ran up a driveway and through somebody’s back yard where a little boy was waiting to squirt people with a hose, then after crossing through what I think was a carport we ran through the middle of a paintball war with several guns blazing all at once. I’m pretty sure there weren’t any actual paintballs since I wasn’t hit, but I didn’t know as I ran through, and I have to say that probably cut a few seconds off my time as I turned on the afterburners trying to get out of the line of fire. At another point we ran through somebody’s garage then turned around and exited the driveway through a strip of water sprinklers.
Just before the finish line was a 32-foot inflatable castle that you had to go through. They didn’t have those things when I was a kid so it was my first experience. I managed to bounce around and get out fairly quickly, partly scared into action by the bigger and younger guy just behind me who I thought might fall on my head at any second.
When all was said and done I finished in about 22 minutes and change, 8th place overall in the race. I haven’t seen the official results and it really doesn’t matter a whole lot. This wasn’t the kind of race you run to be overly serious about how fast you can finish. As a matter of fact, the faster you were in the race the more likely you were to be out of luck during the awards ceremony. While the overall male and female winners did get a nice prize for winning, after that it was all about the losers, with the slowest age group winners getting the biggest trophies. Matt Barfield won a trophy not only for being slowest in his age group, but also slowest male overall, and his wife won the trophy for slowest female overall. Couple of ringers. Something tells me they might have had some inside information! I lucked out myself by winning the trophy for “2nd Slowest” in my age group and Linda took it to ‘em by winning overall “Slowest” in her age group. Yes, she outdid me but she had a little help from the painful bunion on her left foot.  I, of course, was unimpeded by my swift and pristine feet (with the exception of my toenails, which I refuse to talk about).
The awards ceremony was a lot of fun and, unlike many races, it seemed like almost everyone stayed for it. There were plenty of door prizes. Most notably, the first person whose number was called had the option of choosing a Saucony tote bag with something inside (you’d find out after you picked the bag) or what was described as “a large rectangular door prize” or something to that effect. Peter pointed towards a sign on an old folding door that was holding the “large door prize” sign and told the lucky winner she could choose between the two. She picked the bag and it contained a small prize of some sort, then after she went back into the crowd Peter walked over to the door and pulled off the lettered sign, turning it over to reveal a $100 bill taped to the back. He seemed relieved that he didn’t have to part with the hundred bucks.
So there you have it, our first trip to the land where vacuum cleaners and running shoes meld together seamlessly, where all the people run for exercise and have floors clean enough to eat off of.
Race Rating
8 – 1-10  Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
9 – 1-10  Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
9 – 1-10  Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
5 – 1-10  Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
8 – 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)
5 – 0/5   Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No) (unsure about this… but there was a guy with a camera)
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)
10 – 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)
5 – 1-10  Bathroom Facilities
0 – 0-10  Other
TOTAL – 97
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