Thunder Road is North Carolina’s biggest racing event, now in its tenth year. More than 5,000 runners participated in the three races (full marathon, half marathon, and 5k). This was my first half marathon back in 2008, only three months after I had begun running, and when I finished that year I swore I’d never run another half marathon. Since then I’ve run about 70 more so I changed my mind and the half marathon has become my favorite distance. I ran the Thunder Road half in 2008, 2009, and 2010 but for one reason or another skipped the next three years before returning this year to run it again.
It actually seemed like an entirely different race than in those earlier years. The expo was in the same location — the Charlotte Convention Center — but the race started and finished just outside the BB&T Ballpark, home of the Charlotte Knights, with the post-race activities in the adjacent Romare Bearden Park, a perfect race venue.
Thunder Road has a big city race atmosphere that’s great to see locally. It’s not overwhelming as you might experience in a race such as the New York City Marathon, where you end up traveling huge distances to get to the starting line and waiting for hours for the race to start, but it’s big enough that you feel like part of a major racing event. I arrived an hour or so before the start of the race and easily found parking within 100 yards of the starting line. I wasn’t thrilled to pay $7.50 to park there but it was worth it to be able to sit in the comfort of my car and stay warm until about 10 minutes before the start of the race. The weather was unseasonably cold with the temperature in the mid 20s at the time the race began at 7:45. My dislike of cold weather is well known and I was bundled up with 3 shirts, 2 pairs of tights, 2 cold weather Buffs, thick socks, and warm gloves. That is ridiculously overdressed for most runners but I know myself just fine and didn’t feel too warm at any time during the race and was actually shivering at the beginning. My wife told me later that my slower time might have been partially the result of too much weight added by the extra clothing, and she could have a point since every little thing adds up. I’ll have to keep that in mind.
Since I didn’t really warm up I decided to just take it easy in the first mile of the race. Bill Shires and Rob Ducsay were heading up the 1:35 pace group and I tucked in behind them. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stick with them even though I ran two half marathons last month in the 1:35s. Since then I developed a cold and have had a lot of coughing and congestion and after last week’s miserable 5k I thought I would be fortunate to just make it under 1:40. To make a long story short, the wheels came off for me probably halfway through the race and my pace slowed down to a minute or so slower than usual even though my heart rate was just as high (close to 170) so I knew well before the finish that it wasn’t going to be good news at the finish line. I lost count of how many walk breaks I took and by the time I saw the finish line I was happy to be under 1:45. My official chip time was 1:42:02, which is the slowest of 12 half marathons I’ve run this year but still not bad for a 62-year-old. I have a feeling that old age is quickly approaching along with slower race times so as I slow down I’ll try to just appreciate the fact that I’m still running, at whatever speed it might be.
|A snapshot of the post race celebration.|
|Running buddy Dianne Allen and I both won our age group in the half marathon.|
|Father and son Andy and Andrew Inman finished 9th and 10th overall in the 5k.
Andy won 2nd Masters and Andrew was 1st in the 14-and-under age group!
|Dianne and Rian after the race with the Charlotte skyline in the background.|
Age Group: 1 of 22
Overall: 232 of 2729 (8.5%)
Average Heart Rate: 168
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 1:21:00 (73.1%)
* RACE RATING *
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
9 – 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
0 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
0 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes
2 – Posted promptly online: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website: (0)no (1)yes
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
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!
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals
7 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
9 – Entertainment: (0)no (1-9)yes
1* – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (2)yes (*Online Only)
2 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
0 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
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
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
0 – Prices: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
0 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (2)yes (5)lots of free pics!
2 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
0 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no
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
0 – 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)