11th Annual Inside-out Sports Classic Half Marathon

Photos courtesy of Ben Dillon

Paul going “through” (actually having just jumped over) tape

Date: May 17, 2009

Time: 1:25:12

Pace: 6:30

Place: 1st

Garmin Connect: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/5632998

One of the ways I have been preparing for the upcoming 40-miler is by completing back-to-back hard runs. I accomplished this task this weekend, having run the Monarchs in Motion 5k yesterday and the Inside-out half today. I knew I was in for a world of hurt, and had prepared myself, as much as I could, for not only enduring, but also embracing the pain.

I will note that I had not planned on running either race. I told myself that if I finished in the top 3 in the 5k, I would run the half. As I did, I did. If I hadn’t run the races, I would have nonetheless run 2 hard days back-to-back. These races afforded me the opportunity, and also included the added stress of competition.

I awoke at 3:58 am, 2 minutes before my alarm was to sound. I ate, drank, showered, and walked Xander. I arrived at bandwidth.com close to 6, got my chip, and started to stretch. My calf muscles were very tight from yesterday’s race, so I decided to wear the Zensah compression sleeves before, during, and after the race.

One of the first people I talked with was Troy, a former co-worker. He was running the 10k, and I provided him my first aide kit so he could pop a blister on his foot. Nasty. As we were talking, my good friend, Ronnie, came by. He also ran the half, so we talked and ran a warm-up mile or so together.

I saw another good friend, Gregg, at the start. He was also running the half. The race began promptly at 7, and we were off. We immediately crossed Weston Parkway and ran on Reedy Creek toward Lake Crabtree.

A young man took off, and I began the trash talking with Ronnie and Gregg. Ronnie had run a “hard 13” miles yesterday, and let me know that he was not in it to win it. He didn’t stay with the front runners for very long. We approached a downhill, and I said, “What’s this gentlemen? A downhill? I like downhills!” And I was off. I dropped the young man. Gregg stayed on my heels.

In fact, Gregg stayed on my heels for the first 2 miles. I knew it was too early to push the pace, and I was happy to have the company. As the miles were not marked, I had to rely upon my somewhat unreliable Garmin 405. There was significant cloud cover, so the GPS was even that much more unreliable. Nonetheless, mile 2 split was a very slow 7:20. Granted, it was all uphill, but much slower than I wanted to go, so I took off. I dropped Gregg, and didn’t look back. (I saw Gregg at the finish and he informed me that he had to drop out of the race with a pulled calf muscle.)

I led until the end. It lightly rained on an off, and there was a downpour just after I finished. It was nonetheless hot and muggy, and I was almost immediately drenched in sweat. My legs were tired, and got progressively more and more tired. My splits were all over the place, with some miles as fast as 5:50 and some as slow as 7:20.

The race stayed on Reedy Creek until Trenton Rd. Thus, there were steep inclines and declines, i.e., uphills and downhills. Awesome. I carried 2 Gus, and took one at mile 3. I couldn’t get the damn zipper on the back pocket of my shorts closed, and the other Gu evidently fell out somewhere along the course. I could’ve used it, but I survived without it.

We ran a very small loop at the turnaround. Francisco and a man who eventually came in 4th (3rd male) were not too far behind, maybe 200 meters or so. I thought, “I can run easy and race the last miles or I can put some distance between me and them and just hold on.” I eventually settled on a combination of the 2. I did let loose on the downhills, but I also worked the uphills. I took most tangents (when I wouldn’t get in the way of other runners), and I surged as I crested every uphill.

Most runners were very encouraging. I was amused when one yelled (yes, yelled), “Pick it up!” Huh?

The race took a turn at Lake Crabtree, and we ran on pavement (ouch) for the remainder of the course. The 10k racers were also on this part of the course, so I had to do much maneuvering to get around the slower runners. I occasionally looked behind me to see if any of the half marathoners were approaching, but never saw anyone. I eased up a bit.

There was one last turnaround before the remaining .6 miles. I hadn’t studied the course, and was a bit confused, but the volunteer, Rob, let me know I was almost done. He said, “You’ve won the half! Great race!” My GPS was about .5 under. My splits were faster than I thought.

I sprinted the downhill to the finish, stopped my watch, had my chip removed, my picture taken by Ben Dillon, and then went to my car for water. I was parched. I changed shirts, and ran 2 cool-down miles.

I won at $50 gift certificate at Inside-out Sports, and a 30-minute massage with Lal at Athletic Edge. I already have a 90-minute massage schedule with Lal tomorrow night. I need it!

Paul (once again) posing for picture

St. Mary Magdalene Monarchs in Motion 5K

Date: May 16, 2009

Location: Apex, NC

Time: 18:27

Pace: 5:57

Place: 1st

Garmin Connect

I had planned on running the Highcroft Hurricanes 5K, a race I ran two years ago. Having forgotten to set my alarm, I nonetheless awoke at 5:23 (the time I wake up every morning). I took Xander for a short walk, and then went to Bruegger’s for my Saturday morning usual. While placing my order, I noticed a half dozen or so large bags full of bagels and commented to the manager, “That’s a big order!” He told me that the bagels were a donation to the Monarchs in Motion race, and when I told him I was running a different 5K he encouraged me to run this race. I told him I would consider it.

Today is Jeff’s birthday, so he awoke early to open his presents. He wasn’t too keen on the idea of my running the Monarchs race, as he looked up last year’s times for both races and said, “You could win the Highcroft race.” I reminded him, once again, that I’m running races as part of my training for the upcoming Highlands Sky 40-miler, and that I was actually looking for competition. He said, “Then run the Catholic race.”

The race was run through a neighborhood, and when I arrived at 7:20 it was already quite crowded; thus I had to park in a lot in front of the church, and was informed by I volunteer that I could not exit until after the last walkers had finished the course. I said to him, “That’s quite alright. I’ll run bonus miles.” He said, “You’ll be waiting to pick up your award anyhow!”

I once again saw Arturo and Francisco (the eventual 3rd place finisher). Arturo was as chatty as ever, and said, “You’re going to win this one. There’s no competition.” He was right about winning, wrong about the competition.

The starting corral was quite confusing, as no one seemed to know in what direction we would be heading. As soon as it was clarified, I scoped out where I would start based upon who else was on the starting line. There were many young people, including both boys and girls. There was also a local female master, who is notorious for starting slowly and has gotten in my way on more than one occasion. I started to the far right, between Arturo and Robert (more about Robert in a moment).

Before the start of the race, the priest said a (surprisingly) nice prayer. The race began, and the very young boys took off—and dropped off about 30 seconds later. By about a ¼ mile, a young man had taken a considerable lead, another young man was in 2nd, and Robert and I went back and forth in 3rd and 4th. By mile one, Robert had taken 3rd, and I was no more than 50 or so meters behind. At about 1.5 miles, Robert passed the young men in 2nd and 1st, as did I not too much later. I encouraged both of them to stay strong.

This was the hilliest 5K race I have ever run, similar to the Southern Village race in Chapel Hill. Very challenging, and not a PR course.

As in races past, Robert would put some distance between us on the uphills, and I would catch up, but not pass, on the downhills. I wanted to see what he had left for the last mile…

Not knowing the course, I wasn’t sure when would be the best time to make a move. I knew, however, that I didn’t want to wait until the last ¼ mile, as I knew it was uphill. At about mile 2.7, I made my move. I passed him on a downhill, and surged up the next hill. He didn’t respond, and I quickly dropped him. I ran to and through the finish, waited a moment for his arrival, and congratulated both him and, a few moments later, Francisco. I grabbed some water, took off my shirt, put on my Zensah calf sleeves, changed shoes, and, as I still needed to get in some miles, ran an additional 3 at 8 mpm pace. As I was finishing, Robert was also cooling down, and he offered his congratulations. I turned around and ran with him for another mile. He let me know that he’s a track coach at Cardinal Gibbons, and he talked about his planning, strategy, and tapering for this race. It was a pleasant conversation.

The race director announced the winners from 3rd to 1st, and we had our picture taken. After he announced (and correctly pronounced) my name, he said, “And he’s the oldest one up here!” I won a $50 gift certificate to Dick’s, which I’ve already redeemed.


Catch Me If You Can Mother’s Day 10K

Date: March 10, 2009

Location: Garner, NC

Time: 37:05

Pace: 5:59

Place: 1st

The course was advertised as flat and fast. I beg to differ! As I’ve been training for the upcoming ultra and I haven’t been doing speed work with a group, I’ve been concerned that I’ve slowed down. I’ve been too focused on endurance and not enough on speed. Like last week’s 10-miler, I didn’t take this race too seriously. In fact, Saturday’s group run (part of Karhu Day at Bull City Running) was at a fast pace, and my legs were a little tired Sunday morning—early Sunday morning, as a matter of fact. As the race started at 7, I got up at 4:30, and arrived at the race at 6. I registered, and began my warm-up routine. I ran into Devon, and he informed me that he and Bobby, yesterday’s 1st (Bobby) and 2nd place winner’s of the Capitol City 10K, were running the 5K, as if the winner finished in under 15 minutes they would earn a $500 award—and Bobby did!

The 10K race start began about .10 of a mile from and 5 minutes before the 5K start. A running acquaintance, Arturo, was running the 10K, and we chatted briefly. He predicted that I would win. I informed him it was a training run. A conversation with another runner went something like this… Him: Is your name Paul? Me: Yes. Him: Is your last name Potorti? Me: Yes. I’m sorry, have we met? Him: No, but I keep track of the standings. I was at first a little disconcerted, but he later introduced himself (Clyde), and we talked after the race. As with most runners, he’s a nice person.

The race was a charity to raise money for Down Syndrome awareness. The lead cars were an unmarked police car and a convertible. A young girl with Down Syndrome, who it appears that all of the volunteers knew, sat in the back seat watching me and the racers. Thus, we were all trying to catch her! I did indeed. Read on.

As I had an uncomfortable warm-up, I wasn’t sure how this race was going to go. Given everything, it went remarkably well.

The start consisted of a count down from 10, and we were off. I took off, and no one went with me. I almost immediately caught up with the lead cars, but they took off rather quickly as I approached. I could hear a runner behind me for about ¼ mile, and then there was silence. I led from start to finish.

The start and finish of the course were on a 4-lane highway, and for the first mile or so the far right lane was blocked from traffic by cones. The course then traversed through very nice neighborhoods. And hilly neighborhoods! I stayed with the lead cars, but ran most of the tangents.

I’ll admit it: my fear was that the 5K finishers would catch and pass me. Fortunately, Bobby and Devon did not! Even with my 5-minute head start, they had to be close. Given that there were less than 50 runners in the 10K, at least they didn’t have to worry about too much congestion.

Just before the 5K and eventual 10K finish, I started the second lap. It wasn’t long before I began passing 5K walkers, all (or at least those not wearing headphones) who were very encouraging. I cheered them on as well, and even said to one group, “This is you at next year’s race!” They laughed and ensured me that they would not be running any time soon

A small loop additional loop was added to the course to reach the 10K distance. I was running up yet another hill at about the 5-mile mark when I saw Bobby and Devon running a cool-down. Devon shouted words of encouragement, and Bobby said, “It’s downhill once you reach to top of this climb.” “I know,” I said, “I’ve already run it once!” They both laughed. I then asked, “Is there anyone behind me?” To which Devon replied, “Yes, some black kid walking.” I had to laugh, and while I broke my stride, it was a nice reprieve.

The finish, as mentioned, took place on a 4-lane road, again with the far right lane blocked with cones. With about ¼ mile left, I started my finishing kick. Here’s where it got interesting… The police car sounded an alarm (that bleating sound made to warn people of an approaching emergency vehicle) to warn a female 5K runner to move out of the way. She was wearing headphones, and her music was evidently so loud that she couldn’t hear the alarm. I had no choice but to run outside of the cones. I not only caught the convertible, I passed it and the police car as well. The police officer was kind enough to wave me by, and he even commented, “She can’t even hear me!” I yelled at her, “No headphones while you’re racing.” She returned a blank stare. Few things anger me more than casual runners wearing headphones—particularly on a looped course.

I’m convinced I could have finished in under 37 if I hadn’t had to slow down near the finish…

This race was well organized, very well marked, and the volunteers were all very helpful and encouraging. This was also the friendliest group of police officers I’ve encountered. In fact, the police officer driving the lead car made a point to find me after the race to offer his congratulations and his apology for the runner with the headphones.

I won an iPod Shuffle. I made sure to select a blue one, and I gave it to Jeff as an early birthday present.

I ran a 2-mile cool-down run after the race, stopped by Bond Park on my way home and ran 4 miles at 7:20 pace, and took Xander for a 6-mile trail run at Harris Park. I still got in my 18 planned miles.

Xander eating ice cream after our run, 5K winner Bobby (between yellow and red shirts), and friend Laura

3rd Annual Bobbie H. Boney 10-Mile Run

Date: Sunday, May 3, 2009

Time: 1:04:41

Pace: 6:28 mpm

Place: 1st

This was quite a fun event, as Danielle (1st place female, 4th overall), Anthony (2nd place male) and Shannon (3rd place female) also ran the race. I didn’t see them until just before the race began, as I was already at the starting line warming up and stretching. Anthony has been winning quite a few races lately, but this is the first time we’ve gone head-to-head in quite some time. Thus, words of encouragement (“You’re on fire!”) turned to lighthearted trash talk (“You’re going down!”). He’s a nice guy, and was up for the ribbing.

Anthony: My bib number is 1. I’m going to win this race. I’m finishing in first place.

Paul: My bib number is 11. That’s 2 ones. I’m going to win it this year–and next year, too!

Danielle: Oh, Paul! You’re so mean!

(Photos courtesy of Shannon Johnstone)

The race started a few minutes past 8:30, and I led from the start to the finish. It was quite a challenging course, but, having run it many times, I knew what I was up for. Course was out and back, starting at Reedy Creek Lake Trail (at Loblolly), going by Reedy Creek Lake, right on to Reedy Creek, left at South Turkey Creek to North Turkey Creek and then, obviously, in reverse. It was hilly, very hilly.

As this was a training run for the upcoming ultra, I set the following goals:

1. Go out strong to put as much distance as I could between the pack and myself.
2. Run every tangent.
3. Switch handheld bottle from hand to hand every mile.
4. Relax shoulders every mile.

I accomplished all four goals. I also wanted to finish less than 67 minutes, a reasonable goal for the course. I’m not sure if the course was indeed 10 miles, as my Forerunner total was 9.7, but the turnaround was at 4.95. Not very reliable, huh?

As the first mile was downhill, I ran it in 5:27. Anthony was just about 20 seconds behind. I ran steadily and easily, and didn’t push myself very hard. At the turnaround, Anthony was about 40 seconds behind, and Danielle was running with the eventual 3rd place finisher. At about the 6.5 mile mark (the long, straight section of Turkey Creek that runs parallel to Ebenezer Church Rd.), I looked back at didn’t see Anthony at all. I eased up a bit, and ran the remainder of the race at a very comfortable pace.

I saw Brian, Danielle’s soon-to-be husband and my running partner, on his bike with about 1.5 miles to go, and let him know that Danielle was just a little ways back. As I was running up Reedy Creek Lake Trail, there was a rather large black snake slithering across the road. It was at least 4’ long. I ran around it, and didn’t look back. My third snake sighting of the season!

I finished the race, got a few drinks of water, and ran back to find and run with Danielle. Brian was riding his bike beside her, so the three of us ran/biked together.

I won a gift certificate to TAF, as well as some other goodies, including a Burt’s Beeswax gift bag.