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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