2010 Tiger Tobacco Trail Trot

Jeff, Tegan, and Paul (left to right)

Date: Saturday, January 23, 2010
Distance: 10K
Time: 38:09
Pace: 6:08 mpm
Place: 3rd

2010 is the year of the tiger, so my good friends at Bull City Running, Kim and Jason Page, hosted their first ever “Fun Run.” Both a 4-mile a 10K race were held on a section of the American Tobacco Trail, beginning near the store in Durham county, and heading South toward my neck of the woods. Thus, I’ve run on this section of the trail numerous times. Given all of the recent rain, the trail this day was particularly muddy.

The race began promptly at 8:30, and there were over 100 participants. Two local elite runners, Erik and Ulfe, led the race from the start, and finished in 1st and 2nd places, respectively. Another runner was initially in third place, but he fell apart after about a mile or so, and I passed him. The eventual 4th place finisher, Brendan (Jason’s brother-in-law) caught up with both of us, and stayed with me for about a quarter of a mile. I then dropped him like a bag of bricks. (Readers, do note that I know Brendan, and plan on further belittling him the next time we meet.) Again, the first and last 1.75 miles were particularly muddy, and I turned my ankles numerous times. I ran on the paved portion of the course when the trail entered Chatham county, through the turnaround, and (of course) until the trail once again returned to Durham county. The bridge in Chatham county was very icy and slippery, and I had to slow down significantly, on both the out and back, so as not to fall. I made sure to warn runners that were heading toward the bridge that it was indeed slippery, and to be extra cautious. I’m just that kind of guy. (Unlike Brendan.)

Jeff and Tegan ran the 4-mile race. I caught up with and passed Tegan just before the finish. Jeff finished just ahead of me! Neither were wearing trail shoes.

I wore La Sportiva Crosslite (http://sportiva.com/products/prod/531) shoes, 2XU compression shorts, shirt, sleeves, hat, gloves (with hand warmers), and 2XU racing socks (http://www.2xu.com/compression/ua1368e.html). I am very, very disappointed in the socks, as they fell down shortly after the race began. I know I’m thin, but I would expect that size XS would stay up. I certainly won’t wear them during any other race.

Bull City Running hosted a get-together at the store, and provided bananas, oranges, donuts, and coffee. I encourage loyal local readers to support the store (http://www.bullcityrunning.com/)! If you happen to see Jason’s brother-in-law, Brendan, while you’re there, tell him I said “hello!” Then be sure to tell him that yours truly dropped him, you know, like a bag of bricks.

2010 R.I.T.N.Y. (Run in the New Year) 5K

Date: December 31, 2009 and January 1, 2010

Time: 17:41
Pace: 5:42
Place: 2nd

What a wonderful way to end one year and bring in the next! Jeff and Tegan also ran this race. The course began and ended at the Cary Aquatics center. The race was well organized, and the course was well marked and well-lit (for being held in the middle of the night). Most of the course took place on the Cary Towne Center parking lot.

It was nice that the center was open, as it was a moist and somewhat chilly (45) outside, so we stayed inside until close to the start time. I ran a mile or so to warm-up, and then went to the starting line at about 11:50. I struck up a conversation with a high school runner (wearing Mizuno Precisions), and he informed me, when I asked, that he was planning on running the course in 16 minutes. My goal was to run close to 18. There were other high school and college runners as well. What a better way than partying to bring in the new year. Certainly a much healthier way.

The race began promptly at 11:59. The first sharp, right turn was just 20 or so meters from the starting line, and a young man cut me off. I actually lost my footing and almost tripped. Since he then began leading the race, I didn’t give it much more thought. Karma, however, is a bitch.
My watch beeped to let me know it was midnight. Jeff was behind me, so I silently wished him a happy new year and 16-year anniversary.

I ran side-by-side with the eventual winner for the first mile or so. The course crossed Cary Towne Boulevard and then circled a ball park before crossing the Boulevard once again. (As I always do, I thanked the police officers for holding traffic. It might seem like a waste of energy, but I appreciate all that they do to keep the races safe.)

I ran the first mile in 5:30. As it included downhills, this didn’t surprise me. I ran the second mile in 5:50. As this included all of the turns around the ballpark and the crossings of the Boulevard, I was pleased with this split.

It was during mile 2 that the leader/tripper began to falter. Karma. The eventual winner (a member of the Duke xc team, I believe) passed him, as did I. I wished him luck, and told him to stay strong.

At the turnaround, just before the mile 2 marker, one of the volunteers yelled, “Good job Paul! You can catch him! Pick it up, pick it up!” I have no idea who that person was.

I was running hard, and it was taking much effort. I would gain distance on the leader, and then fall back. As I was well aware of how far away the other runners were, I didn’t feel overly motivated to run much faster.

I ran mile 3 in 5:40. Not bad at all. I realized that I could run a sub-18 minute race. That was all the motivation that I needed for my finishing kick! I finished 13 seconds behind the winner, and the race director called my name as I neared the finishing line. I had the chip removed from my shoe, and I was off to find Jeff and Tegan.

Since I wanted to run as much of the race as I could with Jeff, I didn’t slow down my pace very much, and was probably running 6:1o or so mpm. I was getting strange looks from the finishers as I was running fast, but in the opposite direction. I was sure to say encouraging words to those not wearing headphones.

I found Jeff, and he had about 3/4 of a mile or so left. He was running strong, and I felt very, very proud. I talked with him, but didn’t ask him questions. He is a very good uphill runner, which I am not. He put in a nice finishing kick, and ran his fastest 5k (28 and change). I immediately ran back to run in Tegan, and she wasn’t very far behind. She, too, put in a nice finishing kick.

I received a trophy and a finisher’s certificate. Tegan was kind enough to take pictures.

This is my second fastest 5K time, and the fastest 5K time I have run since turning 40. I am convinced that the break from running, the focus on yoga and biking, and particularly the core conditioning training (with the exceptional trainer, Michael Kelley) were all keys to my improved performance.

Raven Rock Rumble 10-miler

Date: November 21, 2009

Time: 1:16:15
Place: 4th overall, 1st master
I’ve avoided posting this race, as my performance was very disappointing. I was in the midst of a six-week bout of bronchitis, was anemic, and was battling an infection (at the time of the race the anemia and infection had not been diagnosed). I knew I wasn’t healthy, but foolishly ran the race anyhow.
The race began, and Neil and Tim were off. I, along with Jonathan (the eventual winner), Anthony, and John weren’t too far behind. I was leading the second pack, and at one point Anthony said something like “pick up the pace.” Ha! I told him that he could lead if he wanted to.
John passed me, but I caught him on a downhill. Anthony, however, passed my on an uphill, and I was never able to catch up with him.
I will admit that there were two times during the race that I walked. I just didn’t have any energy. I was miserable, and couldn’t stop coughing. Not a fun thing to do while running hard.
Offnrunning was kind enough to attempt to comp my entry, as I won last year’s race. I insisted that they did not, as the race was for a charitable cause. They gave me a really cool Montrail hoodie instead.
It was after this race that I re-grouped, and took an, albeit short, break from racing. I also decreased my focus on mileage and speed work. I focused much more on yoga and core conditioning.
I did not run the Run at the Rock race, even though I was registered, nor did I run any races until RITNY.
The good news is that as I write this (January 1) I feel much, much better.