Sunday, January 22, 2012

The subject of this blog is Stan's running

I was running with Mike Kahn and he told me that having a blog is like being a publisher. And a publisher needs to publish content.

So this is my content. A quick catch-up recap of some running stuff since I last blogged.

On December 31 I ran the Freedom Park New Year’s Eve Marathon in Morganton, NC. This was necessitated because I was unable to run in the Art Loeb Trail Adventure Run that day, as planned. Anyway, I was fortunate to actually win the Freedom Park Marathon; there were only 5 participants. Most runners were running the 24 Hour event. It was really fun and well-organized, as all David Lee races are. I could say a lot more about this race, but I won’t.

Thus was my 12th marathon or ultra marathon completed in 12 months of 2011. I suppose that this marathon-a-month thing will continue.

Actually it has already continued, as I was an official pace group leader at the Charleston Marathon on January 14. It was my job to run an even pace and finish in 3 hours and 30 minutes. I finished in 3 hours, 29 minutes, and 59 seconds. However, I did not set a very consistent pace for the entire race. I fell behind by about 2 minutes and had to run semi-fast in the last few miles to get back to the goal finish time. Anyway, I wondered at about mile 23 why in the world I am running marathons. It all seems so ridiculous and foolishly painful. But after the race I changed my mind. I could say a lot more about this race, but I won’t.

Next Saturday I will be running the Charlotte Running Club Winter Classic race. I like Charlotte, I like running, I like clubs, I like winter, I am classic, and I like to race. The race will be 8 kilometers in length. My goal is to complete the race course in the shortest amount of time possible.

On February 4, I will compete in the Uwharrie Mountain Run 40 Miler. I am prepared for my beat-down. I harbor no delusions of grandeur for this endeavor. It is going to hurt, a lot. I expect it will be much tougher than last year’s Mount Mitchell Challenge 40 Miler. Mount Mitchell is basically downhill for much of the second half. Uwharrie is up and down through endless steep hills through rocky, rooty, often muddy terrain covered by leaves. I have run the Uwharrie 20 Miler three times, and it has always taken me longer than a full road marathon. My goal at Uwharrie 40 is to finish. A secondary goal would be to finish in under 8 hours.

If I can complete Uwharrie, that will be 15 consecutive months with a marathon or ultra. March’s race will be the Columbia (SC) Marathon. I'm not sure what marathon I will run in April or for the remaining months of 2012.

Oh, and now I am running at least a mile every day. I have completed 23 days in a row. So far, I am enjoying it. Thanks for reading my words.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Running Year In Review

I said there would be no humor in this blog entry. If you find any, let me know and I will remove it. Thank you. (This paragraph excluded.)


The first day of the year found me participating in a low-key Charlotte Running Club 5K at McAlpine. I believe there was a contest to see who could most accurately predict their finish time. I predicted 18:50 but ran 30 seconds slower.

The following weekend, Jinnie and I got in a nice 14 mile training run at Uwharrie.

My first marathon of the year was pacing duty for the 3:30 group at the Charleston Marathon; it went well.

Two weeks later, I attempted the Sultan 50K in the South Mountains of NC. It just wasn’t my day. Jinnie turned her ankle, and we both decided to drop out after about 16 miles.

Monthly mileage: 155


This month brought my only race win of the year. I held off frequent competitor Bobby Aswell to win the Alyce Guettler Hunger Run 5K in Rock Hill.

Late in the month I raced in the Mount Mitchell Challenge 40 Miler. This was my longest run to date. It was an amazing race, and I would love to do it again someday. We were fortunate to have ideal NC mountain weather in February, and I didn’t fall on the ice near the summit.

Monthly mileage: 212


The second Saturday of March brought the second annual unofficial Crowders Mountain 50K. About 15 folks showed up to run with the group, though not all went the whole 50K. I bonked 3 times during the last 8 miles, but I finished only slightly slower than in 2010.

Two weeks later, I helped the Charlotte Running Club set the world record in a relay of 100 x 5K. My turn came late at night in a deluge. I was glad to hit my goal of sub-6 minute pace.

Monthly mileage: 165


For the second straight year I ran in Peter Asciutto’s April Fools Day 5K in Albemarle. I claimed 2nd place, but in the obstacle course at the finish line I’m pretty sure I sustained an abdominal injury that bothered me for about 3 months.

On April 18, I ran the Boston Marathon for the second time. My silly goal was sub-3 hours, which I was not trained for. After we got by Wellesley, my race plan went out the window, but I was pleased to bring it in with a solid 3:06:14.

I ran a decent Skyline 5K to close out the month.

Monthly mileage: 144


May 7 was the New River Marathon. Digestive troubles resulted in me quitting halfway through. This was my second DNF of the year. My plan to complete a marathon or ultramarathon in each month appeared to be in jeopardy.

Jinnie had a great day in her first road marathon, finishing in 3:47.

I ran a couple of inconsequential 5Ks, and then I decided to run the May Mountain Marathon (aka Assault on Mount Pisgah), on May 28. It was a great day with the WNC Trailrunners. My plan was back on track!

Monthly mileage: 172


The Roan Adventure Marathon (RAM) is one of my favorite events. It’s actually 29 miles, out and back on the Appalachian Trail with amazing scenery. This year, I actually thought that I might collapse. It was very hot and I didn’t have enough water. I was able to drag myself to the finish with the encouragement of my fellow runners. Still, a great day!

The other highlight of June was the Summer Track competition on Tuesdays at Myers Park High School.

Monthly mileage: 158


I always like to run The Bear, a 5 mile race straight up Grandfather Mountain. But this year I made the weekend more interesting by adding the Grandfather Mountain Marathon, two days later. I achieved my best time so far for the 5 Mile hill climb (next year I’m going under 40 minutes!); and truth be told I was worn out for the Marathon. I ran it progressively, starting slowly and finishing with a flourish. Next year I should post a better time.

The Run For Your Life 4 Miler was a good race for me in July. I also took 2nd place in a trail 5K at Anne Springs Close Greenway.

Monthly mileage: 194


This month’s marathon/ultra was the Laurel Valley 35 Miler. Finish or else! No place to bail out. I started out ridiculously slow, due to not carrying a headlamp for the first dark hour. I ended up running with a veteran of the event who showed me a lot about the course. Next year should be fun out there.

The Blue Points and Greek Festival 5Ks were a disappointment for me this month. I did get out to Kings Mountain National and State Parks in South Carolina for a training run in August, which was fun.

Monthly mileage: 171


This was a busy month. Jinnie, Megan, Bill, and I traveled to West Virginia to race the Charleston 15 Miler. None of us ran as fast as we wanted, but it was a very nice trip.

The next weekend was the Blue Ridge Relay. The Crazy Legs guys were projected to finish in about 25 hours. Well, for the first time, the Crazy Legs team went under 24 hours! It was pretty epic. We were battling the clock from the starting line; it was very rewarding to barely reach our goal time. Everyone laid it all on the line.

The following Saturday I raced a 10K in the morning and a 5K in the afternoon.

On September 24, I achieved my highest running mileage ever in a single day, running 41 miles during the Hinson Lake 24 Hour race in Rockingham. Someday I do intend to stay for the entire race and go for big mileage at a 24 hour race. This was a great event.

Monthly mileage: 163


The LungStrong 15K was intended as a test for the upcoming Ridge To Bridge Marathon. I figured if I could finish in under an hour at the 15K, I had a shot at sub-3 hours for the marathon. And so I ran 59:55.

So all I had to do now was run that marathon. Result: 2:59:15, mission accomplished. But my wife outdid me, as Jinnie took 21 minutes off her previous best, and qualified for the Boston Marathon. Great day!

Monthly mileage: 142


This was a very sad month. My father was in the hospital for several days and underwent major surgery. He appeared to come through it well, and was released the day before the Thunder Road Marathon, so I went ahead and paced the 3:30 group in my hometown.

My father then had complications from surgery and died within a week. This was the most difficult personal struggle of my life. I appreciate my friends and family who helped me through it.

Monthly mileage: 55


I won an entry into a local 5K and was pleased with my time. I realized that if I ran a couple extra races, I could participate in a total of 52 for the year (in 52 weeks). After adding a couple more 5Ks, I have one more race to run. It’s a marathon on the last day of the year. I hope to complete my 12th marathon/ultra to close out 2011.

Monthly mileage: likely to end up around 140

My total mileage for the year will fall short of 2,000 miles. Last year I ran 2,010 miles, so that’s a little downturn.

I would say that I am in basically the same running shape that I was at this time last year. Next year, I hope to be fitter.

I wish I had run more with the WNC Trailrunners in 2011; and a couple more races out Albemarle way. In 2012 I don’t plan to run as many Run For Your Life races in Charlotte; I am feeling burned out on their Grand Prix Series. It is a very good series, but I think I need to mix things up in 2012.

Several times during this year, it seemed that I was always recovering or preparing for that month’s marathon or ultra. But now I feel that I have adapted to this regimen. So far, I have marathons or ultras planned in January, February, and March of 2012. I guess I’ll keep it up….

Out of 52 races, how many am I proud of, or satisfied with? That’s a good question. I’ll say that I’m happy with all 12 marathons/ultras, assuming I finish the last one. I feel that finishing any of them is somewhat of an accomplishment. I’m glad I can say that I’m a sub-3 hour marathoner again. I’m happy with the one 5K that I won. I’m happy with the World Record 5K Relay. The Bear 5 Miler was a good effort. The Blue Ridge Relay and the 15K were races in which I feel I ran my best, on that particular day.

Countless other 5Ks and track races do not stick out as particularly good. I enjoyed racing each of them, but there were no personal bests, and no real breakthroughs.

That's all I have.

See ya next year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About My Ridge To Bridge Marathon

A few weeks ago, the Crazy Legs gathered for a post Blue Ridge Relay get-together. Coach Tino tells me that I can run sub-3 hours at the upcoming Ridge To Bridge Marathon if I follow his advice.

What do I have to lose? I haven’t run under 3 hours since the Boston Marathon in 2008, when I was in really good shape. Last year at R2B, I ran 3:03:18. So I was all ears. After all, I kind of consider myself “a sub 3 hour guy”; but c’mon, it’s about time I actually went sub-3 again!

My strategy for a fast marathon has always been to get all of the fast running done early, and then have a planned slowdown at the end, as I fatigue. Tino tells me to change it up. To go nice and smooth for the first 6 miles, along the “Ridge” of Ridge To Bridge. And then, to trust that the big downhill section of the race (9 miles) will put me in position to “race” the last 11+ miles.

So I made a plan. Seven minutes per mile pace for 6 miles; then 6:40 per mile for 9 miles; then 7 minutes per mile again, for the last 11 miles. This would put my finish at around 3:00:30. Surely I can make up 30 seconds somewhere, right??

Fast forward to the week before the race. I drag myself out of the car to do a run I don’t want to do at McMullen. Crazy Legger Dan H. is there and we run together. The conversation turns to having tired legs, and he says that he took an Epsom salt bath and his legs were rejuvenated.

What do I have to lose? So I soaked in an Epsom salt bath. Maybe it made my legs feel fresher, I dunno. It’s worth a shot. And I tapered. I tapered a lot. I ran a total of only 99 miles in the 3 full weeks prior to the R2B week; and then I ran hardly at all during race week. I have a plan, so why worry??

And then a few days before the race, I see some chatter on the Facebook. Tino picks Justin K. to beat me to the finish at R2B. Fine. I go and prepare a second Epsom salt bath and soak for awhile. I have my motivation now.

Before I knew it, it was race morning. We drove to the start; the temperature was in the low 30’s, expected to be in the 50’s at the finish line. I chose the old TrySports short-sleeved jersey that I wore at R2B last year, and some socks to use as makeshift gloves for the first few miles. Also I wore longer than normal shorts, calf sleeves for compression, and my Brooks ST-5 racing shoes. I was somewhat on the fence about whether to wear them, or my trusty Saucony Ride daily training shoes. My longest previous run in the ST-5 was a successful Charleston 15 Miler. They turned out to serve me very well on this day, too.

Soon after the start, I found myself running with Bobby A., who runs marathons and ultra marathons seemingly every other week. Actually, he ran the Medoc trail marathon last week, so I didn’t expect him to run sub-3 on this day; but he was keeping a good pace at the start. I also was trailing a Charlotte area runner named Courtney E. who it seems has vastly improved this year. There were so many Charlotte area runners at Ridge To Bridge; the word has gotten out about this race!

The first few miles took us through several Christmas tree farms, and along a ridge with open views of nearby Grandfather Mountain and other high ridges. It was a perfect clear day for a run; absolutely stunning. We ran almost to the Blue Ridge Parkway, then executed a 180 degree turn. A couple miles later, we took a left onto the downhill portion of the race. My goal for the first 6 miles was to run 42 minutes; my actual time was about 42:05, I believe.

Nine miles downhill awaited, with a couple of significant climbs thrown in along the way. An unpaved forest service road with blind turns, but non-existent traffic. I found that my prescribed 6:40 pace for this section was more difficult than I expected. By mile 11, I was nearly a minute off my mark. I knew that it was “now or never”; get back on my plan, or resign myself to a 3-hour-plus finish time. I threw in a mile at nearly 6 minute pace; it helped that it was probably the steepest downhill of the race. I was back where I needed to be….

And then Justin and Paul G. (Gonzo) rolled up on me. My Crazy Legs buddies appeared out of nowhere. Justin asked how I felt. I answered that I didn’t know. He correctly pointed out that it would be a whole new race when we reached the bottom of the hill. And then Gonzo took off ahead of us! I decided to try to keep hitting my marks. Justin and I ran together for a few minutes. Soon I realized that I would have to stop and pee (again!) before this race was over. I picked the 14 mile mark. Justin flew by me and gave chase to Gonzo and I was on my own.

Even so, when we hit the 15 mile mark at the bottom of the mountain, my watch said 1:41:something. My goal was to be at 1:42:00. Goal achieved: “Give yourself a chance during those last 11 miles”. Now could I do it? All I had to do was run 7 minutes per mile….

I felt good. The first couple flat miles were under 7. I had a few seconds in the bank now. Only a little more than an hour to go. “You can do anything for an hour, right?”

Mile 20 came and went. I didn’t hit the wall…. yet. But my pace was slowing. The miles were clocking in at 7:05…. then 7:10….

Again, it was “now or never”. My margin for error was just about gone. My thoughts turned to last year’s Ridge To Bridge, when my legs fell apart during this part of the race, and I dragged myself to the finish a few minutes over 3 hours. “Just give yourself a chance to do something good in those last couple miles.”

So I picked up the pace, which seemed wholly illogical at that point. Soon I caught up to Gonzo. Gonzo calls me “Silent Stan”, because when I pass him in any race I never say a word. “I knew it was you! Silent Stan! Go get Justin.” I told Gonzo to come with me; he said he couldn’t today.

Past mile 23; only a 5K left to go! I thought I had a chance now. If I could just stay consistent, I would get that sub-3. As I passed mile 24, I could see that I was gaining on Justin in the distance.

I went for it. I “went to the well”, and this time there was something there. I felt like I was rolling; only the equivalent of a few laps around a track…..9,8,7,6 laps to go….

Somewhere past mile 25 I was on Justin’s shoulder; he said “come on Stan!” I pulled up and said “come on, I think we can get it”. I’m pretty sure he knew I meant sub-3. I was also pretty sure he was hurting more than me.

Brown Mountain Beach Resort came into view, on the banks of Wilson Creek. The finish! Jinnie’s parents and my dog Roxy cheered as I made a right into the resort. We were directed around a huge loop before the finish. Could the course actually be 26.3 miles?? Did I really have this in the bag?? Go, go, go! Finally I saw the mile 26 sign and knew that I was safe. I crossed in 2:59:15. Justin was just a few seconds behind. Gonzo had hung on as well, and got a huge 15 minute PR with his own sub-3 hour marathon finish.

What a day for the Crazy Legs crew. Scott K. was the best of the group, running a personal best 2:51, only 2 weeks after he ran the Chicago Marathon. Justin, Gonzo, and I worked together to get that sub-3. Soon Coach Tino soared through the finish with his own huge marathon PR. Theoden J. was sporting his Crazy Legs singlet and achieved a big personal best. Smitty was allegedly “running easy” today, but glided through with a strong 3:17. Dan H. was close behind; but where was my wife?

Jinnie had decided on Sunday that she would run Ridge To Bridge. On basically no training. Good idea! At the finish line, Tino told me that she was looking strong and smiling at mile 15. I thought that in a best-case scenario, she might come in around 3:30; I hustled up to the resort entrance to wait on her. And there she was, way ahead of schedule, smiling and almost crying happy tears as she flew toward the finish. Shocking!

She ran 3:26:19, a TWENTY-ONE minute improvement over her only previous road marathon. Incredible. She qualified for the Boston Marathon with nearly 9 minutes to spare…..

Right behind her was Crazy Legger John S.; and then Emily H. came through with her own hard-earned Boston qualifying finish and personal best. What a day!

And there was much rejoicing. And soaking in Wilson Creek. And eating. I was a little disappointed to finish 11th overall and still miss out on an award; 4th in my age group! Jinnie scored a nice pottery award for her age group victory. (It turns out that I was the 10th male finisher, and she was the 10th female finisher.)

We finally made our farewells to our friends and decided to head up to the Parkway. We did some autumn leaf observing, did a short hike, and ended up at Mellow Mushroom in Blowing Rock.

Now, that was a good day.