Tuesday, December 21, 2010

And Charlotte's Runner of the Year is ...

There are several very good runners in and around Charlotte who have done lots of great things to make the running community in this city better, faster, stronger.

So when you sit down to figure out who’s most deserving of recognition, the first thing your head does … is explode. It’s just very hard – even after weighing all the evidence and giving dozens of different people long, careful thought – to narrow down the list, to pick a certain individual over another.

Last year, I picked one person as my Runner of the Year and then named two honorable mentions. This year, in a celebration of wishy-washiness, I’ve selected five honorable mentions (encompassing eight people; read on to see how I pulled off that trick), and decided to go with two people in the top spot.

It’s not a huge stretch, though, to lump Larry and Kathy Seavers together. As one nominator put it, “they really are a package deal.”

Even those who don’t personally know the husband-and-wife team have probably noticed them out at local races because – well, frankly, it’s because Larry and Kathy are obviously older, and you just don’t see that many older runners out there (Larry is 66; Kathy turned 65 last Saturday). At least, not older runners who are as fast, as consistent, as prolific, as friendly, as social, as supportive, and as upbeat as they are.

Photo by Bill Weimer

Larry – instantly recognizable in his dark sunglasses and a Boston Red Sox ballcap that covers a shock of white hair – ran 33 races in 2010, winning his age group 13 times and posting times that are quick for any age. (He ran a 23:56 at the Cupid’s Cup 5k last February, for example, and – most recently – a 1:58:48 at the Kiawah Island Half Marathon). Kathy, meanwhile, completed 18 races and got age-group wins in 14 of them, including at the Santa Scramble 5k in Concord last month (24:30).

In almost any other year, Kathy and Larry would have run a roughly equal number of races. But Kathy began the year recovering from a femoral fracture she suffered in October 2009. She slowly eased back into running, but while doing hill work last winter, she sustained another injury: An MRI revealed that she had four bones broken internally in her hip area, a result of osteopenia and osteoporosis.

While others her age might have decided to retire from the sport, Kathy just waited patiently for the healing process to take place. In early May, she decided that she wanted to try to compete in the Run For Your Life Grand Prix Series. Three of the 10 series races had already been run, and she would have to miss one of the remaining seven. She needed to run six to qualify for awards … and she did just that. She walked the Great Harvest Bread Co. 5k in 54:04 and did the remaining five GPx races, improving with each one. Despite playing catch-up all season, she finished third in the rankings for her age group.

One nominator wrote: “Most people with broken bones would be sitting on the couch watching TV. Not Kathy Seavers. As soon as she could walk again, she was back on the 5k scene this past spring. She couldn't even run yet, but was crossing the finish line and clearly having fun. And those few races she actually had to miss? I wonder how sick Larry got of answering, ‘Where’s Kathy?’”

Both Larry and Kathy are active members of the Charlotte Running Club and the Charlotte Track & Triathlon Club. They volunteer at road races and triathlons, which is something all of us should do but most of us don’t. They helped Lois’ Lodge – which provides support for women experiencing unplanned pregnancies – become a beneficiary of Run For Your Life’s Run For Your Cause race last summer. And they are amazing cheerleaders.

“When you’re at one of Larry and Kathy’s races, you can count on seeing them making the rounds before the race, and then doing it again long after everyone’s finished,” a nominator wrote. “They don’t hop in their car and go. They wait to congratulate everyone, and ask they how they are doing. You can tell that people are always excited to see them. But this sort of support isn’t limited to the starting line and the post-race party. Spend some time trolling the running community on Facebook. Whether it’s a ‘congratulations/good luck on your out-of-town marathon’ or a ‘hope that knee gets better,’ Larry and Kathy are keeping up and genuinely caring about the goals, accomplishments and roadblocks of their running friends.”

(To put this all into a little bit of context, my 67-year-old father stopped running 25 years ago and doesn’t “get” Facebook.)

Says another Larry and Kathy fan: “They are the most supportive couple ever. If they are out of town for two weeks, they still find the time to look up results from the past two weekends and to congratulate their fellow running friends on their accomplishments. Also, they are pretty much what every runner should aspire to be; they love running just as much as they did when they ran their first steps who knows how many years ago.”

(Kathy began running in 1983 after she quit smoking; Larry took up the sport around 1985. They also, by the way, love cheering for each other. Says Kathy of her husband of nearly 42 years: “Larry is my best supporter. Always looking out for me, always encouraging me. He gets behind me in all the races at the start to make sure I don’t trip or that no one bumps into me.”)

I’m not saying there aren’t others out there who are ultra-supportive, or fast for their age, or adept at using Facebook. What I am saying is this: If you get to your mid-60s and you’re still as vocal and as passionate and as positive about the sport as Larry and Kathy Seavers are, if you’re still running dozens of races a year and finishing with a smile on your face every time, if you make an effort to befriend the plodders as well as the elites … please, drop me a note and I’ll make sure you get an award, too.

Simply put, their love of the sport is pure and without agenda.

Says Larry: “Kathy loves running because it is great exercise and fun. She loves racing because she gets to see great friends and meets new ones every week. … For me, a race each week is like some who enjoy meeting their foursome to play golf each Saturday. It’s an opportunity to meet friends who you enjoy, and to compete against them and others. In racing, you see a different course each week. Each event benefits a great cause. There is wonderful food, prizes and great friendship. What could be better?”

Honorable Mentions

Ashley Armistead and Lori Klingman
In less than three years, the duo behind Let Me Run – sometimes referred to as “Girls on the Run for boys” – have turned a dream of empowering boys through running into a reality. The program started as one fledgling after-school club in the spring of 2008; today, Armistead (founder and president) and Klingman (vice president) are projecting that 400 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade boys will participate next spring. Wrote one nominator: “Ashley and Lori have devoted countless hours to teaching boys about having confidence in themselves, experiencing the joy of setting goals and accomplishing them, and embracing healthy lifestyles.” Clearly, it’s an idea whose time has come: The nonprofit organization is fielding calls or e-mails almost daily from people inquiring about how to get a program in their school. In the coming year, Klingman says they’ll be developing an expansion plan that will help Let Me Run go nationwide. Both women are strong runners, too: Klingman, 37, ran a 3:59:40 at the Marine Corps Marathon in October (“It was most definitely not my best marathon, but I enjoyed the journey more than I ever had in the past”), while Armistead, 41, nailed a Boston-qualifying time of 3:50:09 this month. She did it at Thunder Road in Charlotte, where a band of boisterous Let Me Run boys manned an unforgettable water stop at Mile 14.

Armistead and Klingman
Bevin Jett
With lots of tender loving care, Jett has in just three short years helped the Charlotte Runners Meetup Group grow from a handful of people into the biggest running group in Charlotte – so big that today she enlists the help of 10 assistant organizers. Together they organize a wide variety of regular group runs, and Jett personally hosts the city’s largest weekly group run, a Thursday-night event that routinely draws several dozen runners (the growth of the event prompted a recent move from tiny Common Market in Plaza Midwood to The Philosopher’s Stone in Elizabeth). Wrote one nominator: “She injects more fun into a simple weekly four-mile run than I ever thought possible.” Another noted that “along with the regular weekly runs, Bevin will sprinkle in themed runs during the year for a change of pace – for example, we had over 100 runners in costume for the Halloween run, with prizes going to different categories … and none of them were for fast people.” The 48-year-old mother of two teenagers led contingents of Meetup members at events like Miles of Mooresville, the 24 Hours of Booty cycling event, and the Marine Corps Marathon; she also qualified for Boston 2012 with a 3:52:13 at Thunder Road. Yet none of this has gone to her head. Says Jett: “Even today I still find other runners a bit intimidating. They always look so much cooler, faster, and skinnier than me. … I can only wonder what it must be like for someone just starting out and trying to run, especially someone who maybe has always been told all his or her life for one reason or another that they can’t run. I don’t want to be the runner who scares people off when I tell them I have run a marathon; I want to have them believing they can run a marathon, too.”

Photo by Kai Linn
Chad Randolph
With his Davidson Area Running Team, the 45-year-old has inspired and unified both serious and casual runners in Davidson (and the surrounding areas) in a way in which no other suburban city has been able to. A strong Facebook presence and cool-looking team T-shirts have helped, but the group’s success primarily is the result of Randolph’s ambassadorship. Says one nominator: “He organizes people to go to races, and then drives them there and back. He blogs running. He takes runners – no matter how fast or slow – and encourages them and sticks with them on DART runs to just talk running.” You might also see him filling in from time to time at Run For Your Life, or at small marathons and ultras around the region (this year he ran the Iron Horse 100k in Florahome, Fla., the Gator Trail 50k in Wilmington, the Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie 50-Miler, and the Ridge to Bridge Marathon, among others). A stress fracture has him laid up at the moment, but he still showed up at the Elf 5K in Mt. Mourne Saturday on crutches, and cheered in runners in the freezing cold until the last one finished. Oh, and did we mention he's completed numerous loong races – including a marathon and that 50k – in a pair of Vibram FiveFingers?

Tim Rhodes
Simply put, “Tim is the reason we have a racing series and a local marathon,” says one nominator. The 49-year-old owner of Run For Your Life also ran some excellent races, including a 3:07:51 at the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa last month and a 4:50:16 at the Augusta 70.3 Half Ironman earlier in the fall. (He’ll do his first full Ironman, in Wisconsin, next year.) But it’s the behind-the-scenes work that landed him on this list. Under his direction, Run For Your Life made charitable contributions of more than $100,000 once again, providing aid to everything from a homeless men’s ministry to a local community school for impoverished girls. He and his wife Robin are closely involved with Samaritan’s Feet, donating approximately 100 pairs of shoes per week to needy children in Western Africa. And this fall, Rhodes was given the Ubuntu Award for “outstanding leadership, commitment, and service to their local community” by Balega, a sock company with a rich South African Heritage. (Ubuntu is an African concept, “a humanistic philosophy focusing on people’s allegiance and relationship to others,” according to Balega.) When asked for 2010 personal highlights, Rhodes mentions his son Grant, who made all-conference as a cross-country star at Mallard Creek High School this year; and his two new adopted children, Rebecca (now 8) and Eli (3), both from Ethiopia. His message for the running community in Charlotte? “Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to do something I absolutely love.”

Aaron Linz, Caitlin Chrisman and Jay Holder
They’re the three people most responsible for the success of the Charlotte Running Club, which now claims more than 400 members – and at 37, 25 and 27, they’re also the youngest people on this list. A case could certainly be made for each of them as individuals. In October, Chrisman qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon with a 2:41:52 at the Twin Cities Marathon – her first-ever 26.2 – cementing her status as the area’s top female runner after also posting wins at shorter distances throughout the year. Linz “does a lot of work behind the scenes to continue the growth of the club, while juggling work, family and training,” as one nominator points out; he’s also well-known for riding his bike up and down the street during major local races while screaming himself hoarse in support of, well, everyone. Holder spends hours putting together what has to be the most informative and best-looking running club newsletter in the Carolinas, if not the entire Southeast. (Linz and Holder both set PRs at the marathon distance in Boston, then did it again at the Richmond Marathon in November, with marks of 2:41:32 and 2:40:28, respectively). But the three of them together have made the club tick, putting good people in the right positions on the board of directors; using their own money to front the costs for things like the official club tees worn by many members at local races; staging successful fundraisers (a “Run for Haiti” early in the year raised more than $1,500 for the Red Cross) and wild social events; and – when their competitive fires are ignited – fielding incredibly fast and talented teams at races like the Blue Ridge Relay (mixed division winners) and the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler (mixed competition winners here, too). The long-term goal? Says Linz: “We want the club to take on a life of its own so that 10 years from now, when Jay is a big-time TV producer in New York, and Caitlin is living on a vegan farm in California, and I'm attempting to break all Larry Seavers' age-group times, we will be proud of what we helped start.” They appear to be on the right track.

Holder, Chrisman and Linz

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The story of my 2010 Thunder Road Marathon

Splits often tell a story, and can shed plenty of light on how someone's marathon went. So, here are my splits from last Saturday's Thunder Road Marathon in Charlotte, according to my Garmin GPS watch:

Mile 1: 8:00
Mile 2: 8:03
Mile 3: 7:50
Mile 4: 7:53
Mile 5: 7:55
Mile 6 7:40
Mile 7: 7:54
Mile 8: 7:58
Mile 9: 7:51
Mile 10: 7:52
Mile 11: 7:51
Mile 12: 7:58
Mile 13: 8:00
Mile 14: 7:57
Mile 15: 7:53
Mile 16: 7:52
Mile 17: 7:53
Mile 18: 7:51
Mile 19: 7:59
Mile 20: 7:50
Mile 21: 7:53
Mile 22: 7:54
Mile 23: 7:50
Mile 24: 7:52
Mile 25: 7:56
Mile 26: 7:39
Last 0.2 miles: 1:30

But that, obviously, is not the whole story.

A simple race recap certainly tells a story, and can shed plenty of light on how someone's marathon went. So, here is a simple race recap that describes how I did and felt Saturday:

I made it to the start line in plenty of time -- unlike last year, when I had trouble squeezing into the corral at the last minute -- and felt comfortable practically from the moment I broke into full stride, thanks to well-rested legs and good, cold running weather (just the way I like it). I was able to lock into a pace that hovered a few seconds under 8:00, hitting the 10k split at 49:37 and the half at 1:44:23, according to the official timing company. At about Mile 18, I still felt reasonably good and decided that if I could hold pace for a few more miles, I'd have broken through any wall and would easily come in under my goal of 3:30. (In my experience, if you haven't hit it by Mile 22, you're home-free.) At Mile 20, I started counting people as I passed them.

At Mile 22, I felt tired but not depleted and my legs felt heavier but not trashed, so I increased my effort level to compensate and everything evened out so I could stay in the 7:50s pace-wise. At Mile 25, I decided to pick up the pace as much as I could, and when the finish line came into sight with a little less than 400 meters to go, I tried to start kicking. I immediately had to back off when I felt a tiny bit of rippling in my right hamstring, and then -- two seconds later -- in my right calf. I didn't want to have to pull up with a full cramp in front of the largest crowd on the course, so I gave up on any hope of a sprint and settled for a hard gallop. Right before crossing, I counted my 40th passing victim; meanwhile, only two runners had overtaken me in the final 6.2 miles. Official time: 3:28:16.

But that's not the whole story either. The whole story that I have to tell is, unfortunately, a mess. It's a jumble of thoughts and images and moments and people, but I'm hoping if I spit them all out here, there'll be at least one or two good takeaways and you won't feel like you've wasted your time reading this.

The first thing I need to say is that Thunder Road is not a great event. Race director Tim Rhodes is a very smart guy with a huge passion for the sport, the course is challenging but fair, and given that there's a pretty sizable half marathon and a huge 5k going on on the same morning, it's a pretty well-organized race. But the city doesn't embrace the event as it should, media coverage is almost non-existent, and -- minor quibble -- the "Thunder Road" theme seems to be more of an afterthought every year. (Remember in 2008 when there were race cars at certain mile markers? I also was surprised that we didn't see a band along the route until after the half marathoners had split off around Mile 12, despite the fact that live music is often touted in TR advertising.)

At the same time, I believe in this race. I will run it every year I am able. It's not great, no, but it's certainly good -- and I am confident it will get better. Furthermore, I don't think I've ever had more fun during a race than I did last Saturday, and I think locals who refuse to run Thunder Road because they feel it's too lame or too hilly are missing out in a big way. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Charlotte has one of the closest-knit running communities of any major U.S. city. I have no factual basis, no leg to stand on in making this claim, but unless other cities have someone doing what we're doing on Facebook, I think it's a pretty safe bet. I can't take full credit. I just post stuff, then sit back and watch you guys turn it into something. But the social network we've created is unifying individuals and groups and factions in a way that is truly mind-blowing. I hear from runners all the time who've struck up friendships with people after being connected via comments on my page.

This is why Thunder Road is so much fun, and this is why I would encourage anyone who feels connected to the Charlotte running community to run it (or come out and cheer for it) every single year. The New York City Marathon -- which I've run, and it is a great event -- has a huge amount of diversity and jaw-droppingly large crowds. But while they're energizing, they can also be overwhelming. And in my book, quality beats quantity.

On Saturday, I could hear Charlotte Running Club chairman Aaron Linz screaming himself hoarse as he madly pedaled his bike past us on Fourth Street -- "YEAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! GO, GO, GO, GO!! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME! WOOOOOOOO!!!!" (not a direct quote, but you get the idea). Having sufficiently warmed up, I could toss my Under Armour cap to Jade Laughlin at the turn onto Colville after Mile 2, where she was cheering with Kati Robertson, Emily Barrett and Dalida Amalean -- and I could look down and see where the women had written my name and the names of many others in big chalky letters on the asphalt.

I could spot my amazing family -- my beautiful wife Amanda and my adorable daughter Joie -- from hundreds of yards away (this still gives me a lump in my throat every time, after six marathons); they were sitting on the corner of 35th and The Plaza, between Miles 21 and 22, waiting to give me high-fives and to wish me well. I could raise my arms triumphantly at the sight of Bob Heck standing in the back of his truck at about 24.5, shooting photos and blasting hip-hop out of his totally '80s boom box, which I swear is bigger than him.

Familiar faces were EVERYWHERE. There's Denise Derkowski and Holly Townsend. There's Cheryl Ryan. There's Clinton Fisher. Kara Pettie with her fiance, Adam Vincent; Kara jumps in and runs a little with me. Hey, it's Karen Graboski with her little girl! Dan Barker. Audra Hausser. Dalida, Emily, Kati and Jade again. Denise and Holly again, with Denise's sister Diane (high fives!). Mark Ulrich with his kid. Tracy Rabon. My boss, Mike Weinstein ... then again a mile later, with his wife Kathy. Audra again. Troy Lee. Stephanie Sawyer. Kara jumps in again (she's there helping several runners get over imposing Hawthorne Hill in Mile 24). Allison Vail. Dan Barker again. Tim Friederichs in his fatigues! Peter Asciutto, owner of Vac & Dash in Albemarle, shouting way louder than I realized he was capable. And I think that's Jason Blackwood over there -- we've never met in person, but that's gotta be him...

This list would be twice as long if I had a better memory. But this is the difference between a race like New York and your hometown race.

(By the way: Some of you may not believe this, but plenty of runners out there know as many people as I do. If you don't? Make a concerted effort to become a part of this great running community, and by the time Thunder Road is back, on Nov. 12, 2011, you too can have an experience like this. It's easier than it sounds -- I swear. A good running group and some Facebook maintenance and upkeep go a looong way.)

Now a few shout-outs to some people who ran with me.

Katie Hines. We'd never met before, but had become Facebook friends after adopting the same marathon training plans in the fall (me for Ridge to Bridge, her for Outer Banks). For Saturday, she indicated she wanted to run the half at about the same pace I hoped to run the full at. Katie stayed with me till the cutoff at Mile 12, and then -- since she was trying to get in 20 for the morning -- rejoined me around Mile 23. She kept me on an incredibly even keel for the first 12 (go back and look at those splits), and provided some great motivation in the late going by saying I looked great even though it was probably a lie. She ran the half in 1:43:58.

Mark Ippolito. Mark and I met at the Davidson half this past fall after being running pen pals for awhile. We've since crossed paths at several races, including Ridge to Bridge, where he BQ'd with a 3:20:33 (six minutes faster than my time there). On Saturday, he came up from behind Katie and I at about Mile 10. He'd said beforehand that he also was shooting for somewhere in the neighborhood of 3:30, but based on his command performance at R2B, I figured he might creep ahead of me and eventually ride off into the sunset. But for the next 16 miles, he never left my side. It's amazing what having someone to run with can do for your psyche, even if there's not much talking going on. There was limited chatter, mostly just checking in on each other, or remarking about the weather or a spectator. But to have someone there who knows your pain and with whom there's an equal give and take ... it's just different and in some ways a little better, I suspect, than having a pacer. (Mark and I crossed together, although his chip time was a few seconds slower at 3:28:23.)

That said, there were some great pacers out there. I particularly want to thank Stan Austin and Bjorn Norman, a pair of three-hour marathoners who helped pace the 3:30 group Saturday and -- although they came in a little ahead of schedule -- were incredibly locked in at a 7:57 pace that didn't seem to waver by even a second either way. First saw Stan on Providence Road, and spotted Bjorn in Southend; I never once let them get more than about 100 meters ahead of me after that. Both guys were exceedingly positive and gave me a big final boost by encouraging me to take off when we were about to make the final turn off of McDowell onto MLK Jr. Boulevard. (No, I didn't count them among the 40 people I passed between Mile 20 and the finish. Though if you say it's OK, I will...)

Finally, I mentioned Kara Pettie jumped in at a couple of points, once on Queens and again on Hawthorne. Many of you know her as the store manager at Run For Your Life-University ... I heard she helped out several others in a similar manner, offering GUs or asking if there was anything else we needed. This goes above and beyond.

Me with Katie, Mark, and Kara on Hawthorne.

It was just a great day, full of great people.

I believe the runner's high is real. I don't get there very often, but I got there Saturday during the race. I did things that morning I look back at and go, "What was I thinking?" A goofy running dance for the ladies on Morehead. An exaggerated, leaping high five for my wife and daughter. A geeky "I'm-shooting-at-you-with-two-pistols" things (with some high knee lifts thrown in, the whole thing looking like a college basketball player would do if they'd just dunked on someone) when I saw my boss and his wife among the throng at the makeshift frat house right before Mile 24. More leaping high fives for Bob Heck and Ridge to Bridge buddy Troy Lee on Hawthorne. At other moments, upon seeing friends, I'd raise, outstretch and bob my arms, making me appear as though I was a baby hoping to be picked up.

All stuff I've never done in a marathon before with such enthusiasm, or with so big a smile. (Why waste the energy, right?) But all stuff I would love, love, LOVE to do again.

Anyway, that right there is the whole story ... or as close as I can get.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

They'll never forget their first time

For most people, it starts out so innocently.

They run one mile. Then two. Then three. Then five.

But at some point, the scales tip. In fact, they don’t so much tip as they get smashed to bits with a sledgehammer.

And a declaration is made: “I want to run 26.2 miles” … also known as a marathon.

On Saturday morning, Charlotte’s sixth annual Thunder Road Marathon will mint hundreds of first-timers, people who a year ago probably never could have dreamed they’d travel so far so fast.

Why are they taking on this challenge? Four local women and four area men make a run at an explanation.

Stacey Richards
35, Charlotte, nonprofit professional
“I began running about 14 months ago for a cheap way – so I thought – to lose weight. My motivation was to shed 20 pounds from my 5-foot-3 frame. Turns out running came to me at the most difficult time in my life emotionally and spiritually. It was a wonderful outlet that helped me push through sorrow, pain and struggles over this past year. It brought a strong sense of accomplishment and a feeling that anything is possible.”

Kevin Ballantine
31, Concord, risk manager at Ally Financial
“I started running in 2009 and quickly worked up to a half marathon, then decided to run the marathon this year thanks to endless peer pressure from my running friends. When I first broached the subject with my wife, she wasn’t a fan because of the perceived time commitment and risk of injury. But I enlisted the help of a local running coach, who created a plan that enabled me to train hard, but still balance work and family time with my wife and two little kids.”

Lauren Barker
28, Denver, biology department assistant at Davidson College
“I’ve been a runner for the past eight years, and I set one goal for 2010: to complete a marathon. God has given me the gift of good health, the ability to run, and a supportive family who will be on the roads cheering me on. I look forward to finally checking this distance off my list.”

Tom Crespo
44, Charlotte, IT supervisor for Time Warner Cable
“I got back into running after years away primarily to lose weight. As time went by, I was able to run further and faster, and I started running races. The more I competed, the more I loved the thrill of competition. Late last year, something in my head told me I should run a marathon. I’ve spent most of 2010 thinking, talking and working towards this goal – just ask my family, friends and coworkers.”

Sheena Beck
26, Concord, treatment coordinator for an orthodontic office
“I remember coming to Charlotte four years ago and seeing the billboard for the Thunder Road Marathon. I thought, ‘Wow, who seriously wants to run 26 miles?’ Then I picked up running April 2009 and a year later I was making plans to do just that. Why? I wanted to have a goal to work towards. To do something that not everyone can or would want to do to get into shape. And to place that ‘26.2’ sticker on my car.”

Robert Harriss
38, Gastonia, purchasing and procurement support desk supervisor for Foodbuy
“After a few years of not doing much of anything exercise-wise, I decided to start running in large part to lead a healthier life. I started slow and did a 5k, then a 10k, and over the past three years I’ve run six half marathons. Now six years later, I’m 100 pounds lighter.”

Lorraine Garden
37, Matthews, business manager for JACK!E Studios
“A couple years ago, I was running five miles max. In January 2009, my fitness instructor at the YMCA asked our class what we wanted to accomplish in the New Year. I said – out loud – that I wanted to run longer distance. Say something out loud and it really holds you accountable. I’ve since run three half marathons and this year added a full marathon to my bucket list. … I’m very proud to be setting a healthy example for my kids and teaching them about accomplishing goals.”

Jamaar Valentine
27, Charlotte, hospitality worker
“A couple years ago, I returned to running after realizing I was more than 20 pounds overweight. Moving to Charlotte, I started tuning down my exhausting social life and started letting this hobby become a passion. Now I’m dating a serious runner who encourages and supports my obsession. I know Thunder Road is only the beginning for me.”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tips for Thunder Road marathoners

Whether you're running your first marathon on Saturday or your 50th, here are some good reminders for race day, from Keith Anderson, a board-certified primary care sports medicine physician who sees patients at Cotswold Medical Clinic and is on the Presbyterian Sports Medicine team:

  • Do NOT eat/drink/wear/do things on race day that you did not try during training. For instance, you should wear the same pair of shoes that you have been training in on race day. Never wear a brand-new pair of shoes on race day.
  • Get plenty of sleep -- not just the night before the event, but also during the nights leading up to the race.
  • Dress appropriately. If it is cold, wear layers -- especially a hat and gloves.
  • Pain that eases after warming up is generally benign. However, you should not continue running if your pain worsens. Similarly, you should not continue running if you are limping or changing your gait. You may worsen your existing injury or create another more-severe injury.
And here are some good nutrition/hydration tips, from Mark Hoesten, a registered dietitian at Presbyterian Novant Heart & Wellness who also leads Presbyterian Sports Medicine's nutrition services:
  • Drink 2 cups of fluid before the race.
  • Drink 5 to 10 ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes during the race.
  • Grab cups of water offered to you at water stops. Drink at least five swallows.
  • Don’t rely on thirst to tell you to hydrate. If you are thirsty, you already dehydrated.
  • Take your weight before and after the race. Drink 3 cups of fluid for ever pound lost.
  • After the race is over, continue to drink fluids (water, sports drinks, and/or juice products are all great choices).
  • As soon as possible (ideally within 15 minutes), grab something nutritious to eat to replace your depleted glycogen stores. Research indicates that to avoid muscle fatigue the next day, carbohydrates should be eaten as soon as possible following a marathon. Include a lean protein with that carbohydrate, at about a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio (to enhance absorption).

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Queens runner wins 3rd NCAA title

Michael Crouch, a senior at Queens, won the NCAA Division II individual cross country championship when he out-kicked Columbus State's Meshack Koyioki on a snow covered course in Louisville, Ky.

Crouch finished the 10,000-meter course in 30 minutes, 43.2 seconds to beat Koyioki by 3.6 seconds. The Royals finished 12th as a team.

Crouch now owns three NCAA national titles having also won the NCAA indoor 5,000-meters and the outdoor 1,500-meters. Crouch advanced to next weekend's U.S. Cross Country Club Championships at Charlotte's McAlpine Creek Park.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ardrey Kell students run for those who can't

There are all kinds of worthy causes to support during the holiday season (and year-round). This is just one:

Run For Your Life owner Tim Rhodes told me recently about Ardrey Kell High School senior Nick Kapur, who has organized a fundraiser for an 11-year-old boy with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

Kapur will run the Amica Insurance Half Marathon (part of the Thunder Road Marathon) on Dec. 11 along with other members of the school's cross country teams, in an effort to raise awareness of the genetic disorder. Some members of the Ardrey Kell boys and girls cross country teams will run the Presbyterian Hospital Jingle Jog 5K. The fundraising component of the project was created by Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those living with DMD.

Kapur, one of the team's captains, proposed this idea to his coaches and his teammates after volunteering this summer at the Muscular Dystrophy Association summer camp.

“Being a camp counselor allowed me to feel what it is like for children living with DMD," Kapur says, "and I wanted to continue my friendship and help my ‘buddy,’ Dakota, even after camp ended.” (Last year, Ardrey Kell coach Brian Zelk had suggested the team be involved with helping children who are less fortunate than them.)

Dakota, who is 11, plans to attend the race with his family. His sister, Destiny, 10, joined Girls on the Run this year at Carr Elementary School in Gaston County and will run the 5K with the team.

“In meeting with Dakota and his family several times since camp ended, I have learned that they are in desperate need of a wheelchair lift for their van," Kapur says. "Dakota can no longer assist with transfers, and Dakota uses a power wheelchair for mobility, so they need to adapt the van. I am hoping that through the publicity from the race, we can find a charitable organization to cover or help with the cost of converting their van.”

There are 44 Ardrey Kell runners registered for the half marathon and 5K; Rhodes of Run For Your Life helped out by giving the team a discount to register. They will run under the team name "Run for Our Sons," with a goal of raising $5,000 through donation pages and by soliciting local businesses.

By raising money for research, they are hopeful that their team will help make a difference and that one day these boys will be able to enjoy running with their friends again, like they do.

To support the cause and make a donation, click here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And Charlotte's Runner of the Year is ...

... actually, I don't know yet. I can't decide on my own. I need your help.

Last year, Rebecca Thomason took the prize -- which is just "fame," unfortunately; I have no fortune to share -- while D.C. Luchessi and Jonathan Savage were honorable mentions (read about them here). This year? The jury's out.

So ... please point me in the right direction by submitting a nomination for 2010 Runner of the Year. It doesn't have to be someone who's fast. It doesn't have to be someone who runs a lot of races. The person simply needs to have a passion for running that is infectious, an unyielding dedication to the sport that makes others want to be better runners -- and better human beings. (The only requirement is that he/she reside in the greater Charlotte metropolitan area.)

I know you've got someone in mind. So shoot me an e-mail at tjanes@charlotteobserver.com.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Why was LKN Turkey Trot such a mess?

Last Thursday, I ran the Charlotte Southpark Turkey Trot 8K for the first time, after spending the previous two Thanksgiving mornings up in Huntersville at the Lake Norman Turkey Trot.

Sounds like I may have picked the right year to make the switch.

My 2008 and 2009 experiences in Lake Norman were positive. I ran my first 10K ever in '08, and then in '09, I ran the 5K with my daughter (who was doing her first 5K ever). The races were held on the Huntersville Business Park loop, and were great for runners who lived north of uptown and/or wanted something smaller than Southpark -- which attracted 8,000 participants this year.

For 2010, race director Zahid Buttar moved the event from the business park to Gold's Gym about five miles north, in Cornelius. Gold's was a new sponsor this year, and Buttar opted to make Gold's home base for the race.

The result, apparently, was a disaster. I've heard widespread complaints about the distances coming up very short, poorly marked courses, insane runner congestion, timing issues, unprepared volunteers, and on and on. One participant e-mailed me to declare it "the worst race in the world." The half-marathon winner, Tim Gruber, posted on my public Facebook page: "No one should run it next year, pathetic ... The most poorly organized race I have ever seen." Gruber was timed at 1:04:41, which would be just six minutes off the world record for that distance. (You can also read mounds of negative feedback on Active.com.)

Anyway, I was able to catch up with Buttar by e-mail today.

"This was a very difficult race for us, way different than our customary level of service," wrote Buttar, who is Orlando-based and is president and CEO of Epic Sports Marketing. "I have seen the vast majority of feedback and appreciate the opportunity to explain some stuff. (FYI we just finished a 3 hour meeting about the event.)"

Here is his point-by-point explanation of what happened:

  1. Course - our course got changed 2 weeks prior to the event, we were forced to create a new course. We were misled about the size of some of the roads which caused a ton of congestion. Our solution is to modify the course for 2011, in all likelihood we won't be doing a half marathon unless we get 1 change we're looking for.
  2. Food - we had nutella, bagles, bars, crossiants, oranges, electrolyte and water. The banana's at Costco and BJ's were green. We'd love to hear what NC runners like and we'll get it. They can email support@buttar.com to let us know.
  3. Volunteers - we had 46 volunteers out there from the local schools. We were deficient in athletes helping out, we need athletes who are not running to step up and help.
  4. Mile markers and turn arounds - we had both posted but it appears they were blocked by the mass of runners, our solution for next year is to have all mile markers and signage higher of the ground.
  5. Set up - it was a zoo! We had a 50% increase in attendance from last year which stressed out packet pick up, registration and timing. There was no way to anticipate that kind of a rush, we ran out of alot of things. Our solution is to have 1 parking lot set up for the 5K and another lot set up for the 10K. No going into the gym for any reason.
  6. Tshirts - this is always difficult. The process is we have to place the order by a specific day. So to help out we found a vendor in Huntersville and got the shirts from him. The cut off was 11/14 and when we made the order with 100% overrage. On Wed. during packet pickup we ordered another 200. We still ran out. Our solution for next year is to have the tshirts delivered on Monday, we'll sort them out on Tuesday so that all people who are guaranteed tshirts get theirs. We'll have extra but when they're gone, they're gone.
  7. Awards - due to the number of athletes who showed up we didn't have all the athletes in the timing system until half way through the 10K finish! That delayed the results generation and I made the command decision to mail age group awards rather than give out the wrong awards. This is on our dime, not the athletes. Wed. of this week is when all the awards get mailed out.
  8. Pacers - the pacer for the half marathon missed a turn. You can guess what happened then! Our solution is to have the pacers come 1 day early to do a dry run on the course so that mistake doesn't happen again.
Thoughts on the race? Or on the race director's explanation?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Run, walk, hike, bike, or swim for a cure

There are all kinds of worthy causes to support during the holiday season (and year-round). This is just one:

Laura King Edwards e-mailed me recently to tell me about her 12-year-old sister, Taylor King.

Taylor has run two 5Ks in the past two years -- the 2008 Jingle Jog and the 2009 Girls on the Run 5K -- despite the fact that she is completely blind and suffers from Batten disease, a fatal brain disorder.

"Her running prowess is just one of many examples of her inspiring courage and grit," says Laura. "As a runner myself, I wanted to find a way to translate the miles I accumulate into a happy ending for children like Taylor."

And so, Miles to a Miracle was born. This new campaign supports Taylor’s Tale, a nonprofit organization Laura and her family founded to help find a cure for Batten disease. To date, Taylor's Tale has raised about $250,000 for the search for a cure, Laura says.

Miles to a Miracle is an online portal integrated with our website and can be found
here. People can support the search for a cure in a variety of ways, from running, walking, hiking, biking and/or swimming to other forms of aerobic exercise (10 minutes = 1 mile). You can also simply support the efforts of family members and friends.

The current goals, Laura says, are "to complete a virtual journey around the world for kids with Batten disease, and ... to raise $24,901, or one dollar for each of the 24,901 miles around the earth at the equator."

She adds: "Essentially a mini-Facebook site, Miles to a Miracle is also a fun way for people to network with other athletes/active people and share their own stories. Fundraising is encouraged but not required -- simply taking part in the fun and, by doing so, helping us spread the word about Batten is tremendous in itself!"

To register (or for more details), click here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Great 1st (and last?) marathon for Bender

Charlotte's strong showing at major recent U.S. marathons continued last weekend with one of the strongest of the fall: Ryan Bender, a pharmacist for Carolinas Medical Center, finished third overall at Sunday's Philadelphia Marathon with a time of 2:25:10.

It was the 27-year-old's first-ever marathon, and he walked away with $1,000 in prize money for his efforts. Nearly 9,000 runners -- including 30 others from the Charlotte region -- completed the race on a perfect running day (mid-40s, and partly sunny).

Bender, who ran track and cross country for Duquesne University in Pittsburgh earlier this decade, called his first 26.2 "a very humbling experience."

"The first 23-24 miles went smoothly, but I definitely hit the proverbial 'wall' during the final two miles and my pace slowed significantly," says Bender, who went to Indiana High School in Indiana, Pa., and has been running for about 18 years. But, "I was hoping to run about 5:30 pace and finish in the 2:25 range, so I was satisfied with how everything went."

As for the prize money, he says it's "a nice bonus and will help cover the cost of the trip up to Philadelphia and entry fee, but my main goal was just to finish my first marathon and be satisfied with how I ran."

Bender has raced occasionally in Charlotte during 2010. Among his other highlights this year: He won the Lungstrong 15K in Lake Norman last month, in 48 minutes flat; and the Charlotte Racefest Half Marathon in April, in 1:09:48.

"I have spent many years running through high school and college, and this was the last distance I had yet to race," Bender says of the marathon. "Although running will always be a part of my life, the amount of training leading up to this race took a lot of time and sacrifice, so I do not plan on continuing at this level."

So no other marathons in the foreseeable future for Ryan Bender?

"No. ... I know that doesn't sound very exciting, but running has been such a high priority for a long time and I'm looking forward to switching my focus to something else. Getting up at 4:30 a.m. for morning runs and eating dinner at 9 p.m. gets old after awhile. My wife is a saint for putting up with all of the running!"

Here are the results for the other Charlotte runners who finished the Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday:

Caleb Boyd, 28, Charlotte, 3:04:13
Theodore Frank, 46, Charlotte, 3:09:17
Gene Faller, 40, Salisbury, 3:09:17
Brian Donehoo, 42, Mooresville, 3:15:17
Daniel Fulco, 40, Charlotte, 3:21:24
Darren Zino, 39, Mooresville, 3:22:33
Joe Schlereth, 60, Pineville, 3:27:57
Julie Hartenbach, 24, Charlotte, 3:37:02
Eric Carlson, 33, Charlotte, 3:38:36
Dusti Jensen, 27, Charlotte, 3:38:38
Megan Parkinson, 27, Charlotte, 3:49:28
Sean Scott, 29, Charlotte, 3:49:34
Hilary Boutwell, 40, Matthews, 3:49:52
Richard Coughlin, 36, Charlotte, 3:52:33
Rob Hussey, 42, Waxhaw, 3:53:42
Tiffany Sandstrom, 28, Huntersville, 3:54:12
Siobhan Grant, 27, Charlotte, 3:58:46
Kyle Horgan, 35, Lake Wylie, 4:05:02
Joseph Bousaba, 23, Charlotte, 4:13:30
Maria Packard, 36, Charlotte, 4:15:34
Adam Brown, 40, Charlotte, 4:16:25
Petr Slivka, 21, Hickory, 4:23:06
Wendy Hussey, 40, Waxhaw, 4:27:34
Arthur Scott, 51, Mount Holly, 4:30:43
Richard Holmes, 34, Charlotte, 4:33:07
James Sharrett, 48, Mint Hill, 4:33:20
Garrett Deacon, 46, Charlotte, 5:05:57
Joanna Dougherty, 36, Charlotte, 5:08:48
Angie Hicks, 35, Waxhaw, 5:13:41
Cassandra Hale, 22, Gastonia, 5:22:48

Charlotte Southpark Turkey Trot news

Did you have trouble registering for the hugely popular Thanksgiving Day event last night? You weren't the only one. The online registration process was not working from about 6 p.m. Monday to 9 this morning -- but the issue has been fixed.

Says co-race director Scott Dvorak: "Here's what has happened. The timing company was under the impression that online was going down yesterday at 6 p.m., when it was actually today at 6 p.m.. I wasn't able to reach them last night to discuss it, so unfortunately, it was down for about 13 hours. I've since gotten ahold of them and had them put it back up. It will be available until 6 p.m. tonight ... as advertised. Obviously, I'm not happy that the situation has occurred and I've done my best to rectify it."

Dvorak says anyone who registered on or before Nov. 17 will be able to pick up their packet today, Wednesday or race day, at Bojangles' of SouthPark, 6555 Morrison Blvd. (across from SouthPark Mall); those who registered on or after Nov. 18 will have to wait until Wednesday or race day to pick up their packet.

Co-organizer Neil Howard tells me about 6,000 people are registered for Thursday's event, and that there will be NO race-day registration.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

And we're off to the races...

A look at what's on tap over the next couple of weeks (scroll to the bottom for the latest updates):

Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25


Uwharrie Running Club's FREE Turkey Trot

What: 4.2-mile run.
When: 7 a.m.
Where: Start and finish at the YMCA Park, 427 N. First St., in Albemarle.
Cost: FREE.
Of note: The casual event started 7 years ago with about 10 runners. Last year, 168 participated. ... The first 100 runners who bring canned goods for Stanly County Christian Ministries get a free "Turkey Trot" T-shirt.

Lake Norman Turkey Trot

What: Three races -- a half marathon, a 10K and a 5K.
When: Half starts at 7:30 a.m., 10K at 8, 5K at 8:05.
Where: Gold's Gym, 20420 W. Catawba Ave., in Cornelius.
Cost: $40 for the half, $25 for the 10K and $20 for the 5K through Nov. 21.
Of note: This is a new location and course for the event, now in its fifth year. In the past, the races were held in the Huntersville Business Park. The new site puts home base for the race at Gold's Gym, which is sponsoring the event. One thing will stay the same, though: It's a loop course, with 5Kers doing it once, 10Kers going around twice, and half marathoners circling the course four times.
Race website: Click here.

Charlotte Southpark Turkey Trot

What: The main event is an 8K race, but there's also a 5K "walk," a 1-mile "fun run," and 26.2-yard "tot trot."
When: The 8K race starts at 9 a.m.
Where: The course starts and finishes next to SouthPark Mall.
Why: A portion of race proceeds goes to Partners for Parks and the Sharon United Methodist Church Youth Ministry.
Cost: $25 for the 8K if you register online before Nov. 18; $27 thereafter (or $28 if you mail in your entry).
Of note: This is the 22nd year for the holiday tradition. ... In 2009, there were a total of 6,215 participants -- 4,215 in the 8K, 1,657 in the 5K walk, 343 in the 1-mile run and 233 in the kids' tot trot. In the 8K, the top male was Christopher Estwani in 24:48, while then-12-year-old Alana Hadley was the first female with a time of 29:37. ... Although race-day registration for 2010 is listed on the website as being $40, organizers say they will probably not be able to take late or race-day registration due to popular demand.
Race website: Click here.

Saturday, Dec. 4

Santa's Run for Hunger 5K

When: 9 a.m.
Where: The Millbridge Ruritan Building, 490 Sloan Road, in Mt. Ulla (midway between Salisbury and Mooresville).
Why: Proceeds will benefit Rowan Helping Ministries West.
Cost: $20 in advance, $25 on race day.
Of note: The course winds through rural countryside -- runners will only pass four houses and a dairy farm. ... All 5Kers will receive long-sleeve dri-fit race shirts. ... If you bring five canned goods, you will pay only $20 to register on race day. ... A half-mile fun run ($10) will be held at 9:45 a.m. ... Santa will be on hand for the event.
To register: Click here.

Saturday, Dec. 11

Thunder Road Marathon

What: Full marathon, half marathon, and 5K races.
When: The half and full begin at 7:45 a.m.; the 5K starts at 8:15.
Where: Corner of North Tryon Street and East Fifth Street, in uptown Charlotte.
Why: The races benefit
several local charities.
Cost: Entry fee structure is here.
Of note: In 2009, 1,411 runners completed the full, 3,002 finished the half, and 1,468 did the 5K.
Race website: Click here.

Saturday, Jan. 22

Charlotte Running Company Trail Races

4-, 9- and 13-mile trail races.
9 a.m.
Where: The U.S. National Whitewater Center,
5000 Whitewater Center Parkway, in Charlotte.
Why: Proceeds benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Cost: $25 for the 4-mile, $35 for the 9-mile and $45 for the 13-mile (goes up after Jan. 19 by $5). There's also a $5 on-site parking fee.
Of note: This is the second year for this event, which is now part of the Carolina Trail Run Series. ... According to the race website, "the majority of the course is a single track trail system in covered woods adjacent to the Whitewater Center." ... All pre-registered participants are guaranteed a long-sleeved race T-shirt. ... Hot chocolate and coffee will be served before the race; bagels, fruit and drinks will be served afterward.
Race website: Click here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Details on the 2011 Palmetto200 Relay

Friends have told me that the Blue Ridge Relay Race -- a 208-mile team event that traverses the Blue Ridge and Black Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina -- is among the greatest running and bonding experiences they've ever had.

Registration for the fall event opens Dec. 1, but there's another opportunity to grab a bunch of friends for a similar experience in the springtime:

The Palmetto200 Relay is an endurance running relay event where teams of up to 12 people run 200 miles, broken up into 36 legs, from Columbia to Charleston, S.C. The race will be held April 8-9.

Co-organizer Brian Malak says "runners get to experience some of the most beautiful and historic scenery South Carolina has to offer, from the rolling hills in the midlands, to the coastal marshes and beaches of the low country, to historic downtown Charleston."

Last year, 37 teams competed in the inaugural Palmetto200. The winner? Team Crazy Legs, an six-man ultra team from Charlotte that finished in 25 hours and 35 minutes (average pace of 7:37 for the 201-mile course).

More information about the race can be found here. Registration is now open here. Cost is $800 for teams of 7-12 prior to Feb. 1 ($400 for teams of six or less); thereafter, fees are $1,000 for a full team and $500 for an ultra team. Sign-up deadline is March 10.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How Charlotte-area runners fared at OBX

Most runners don't have what it takes to run one sub-2:42 marathon in a lifetime. Charlotte's Bill Shires has now run TWO in the past six weeks.

Shires, 45, one of the top Masters runners in the area, followed up a 2:40:02 at the Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 3 with a 2:41:35 at the OBX Marathon on Sunday. He finished seventh overall out of 1,661 finishers, and was the fastest 40-or-older racer by almost six minutes.

"I was expecting some really tough competition from Ulf Andre and Tommy Neeson. Both are very good Masters runners," said Shires (shown at left in a file photo -- i.e. not at OBX). "Ulf and I ran pretty much stride for stride until about 15 miles, where I got away from him at a water stop. For the next 11 miles, I was trying to keep the wheels from coming off the car." Andre, 43, of Hillsboro, finished in 2:47:25 and Neeson, 41, of Virginia Beach, ran a 2:48:58.

In between Twin Cities and OBX, Shires also ran a 10-mile race and a 5-mile race; with Sunday's finish, he was crowned the top Masters runner in the state by USA Track & Field for 2010 (third overall for the year) as well as 2010 Masters champion for the N.C. chapter of the Road Runners Club of America.

Here are results for the 77 other Charlotte-area runners who completed 26.2 in the Outer Banks last weekend:

Kody Kubbs, 25, Charlotte, 3:11:39
Chris McFarlane, 27, Charlotte, 3:14:14
Andrew Dolan, 23, Cornelius, 3:20:35
Brandon Hillis, 30, Cornelius, 3:22:54
Mike Adams, 46, Wingate, 3:25:46
Mike Dlugos, 27, Charlotte, 3:30:58
Richard Belcourt, 52, Waxhaw, 3:34:50
Eric Anderson, 29, Charlotte, 3:38:58
Steven Franco, 37, Denver, 3:40:12
Fred Bryan, 43, Salisbury, 3:42:26
Gerald Hutchinson, 50, Charlotte, 3:43:23
Steve Eaton, 38, Hickory, 3:44:06
Elijah Lackey, 22, Hickory, 3:47:31
Elizabeth Maner, 46, Charlotte, 3:48:24
Joe Haines, 39, Hickory, 3:48:28
Brett Morris, 29, Cornelius, 3:50:01
Jason Balara, 35, Charlotte, 3:50:43
Vincent Pastore, 55, Mooresville, 3:51:25
Brian Smith, 39, Concord, 3:51:30
Matthew Andrews, 29, Charlotte, 3:53:18
Chad Baril, 32, Charlotte, 3:54:36
Chris Lariscy, 45, Hickory, 3:58:30
Kate Watts, 29, Charlotte, 3:58:31
Jaclyn Shell, 30, Charlotte, 3:58:35
Trish Kawa, 32, Charlotte, 3:59:03
Victoria Shannon, 37, Charlotte, 3:59:56
Marie Duty, 35, Charlotte, 3:59:56
Nick Brazee, 27, Kannapolis, 4:01:24
Matthew Tansky, 32, Huntersville, 4:01:45
Michelle Vanvliet, 19, Troutman, 4:01:45
Clark Loftin, 28, Denver, 4:02:36
Michael Furr, 38, Albemarle, 4:03:17
Earl Waddell Jr., 40, Huntersville, 4:03:17
Becky Philo, 39, Charlotte, 4:04:00
Tony Philo, 41, Charlotte, 4:04:01
Randy Peterson, 36, Charlotte, 4:05:16
Jade Laughlin, 27, Charlotte, 4:08:19
Mandy Franco, 35, Denver, 4:09:54
Jason Stonestreet, 28, Albemarle, 4:14:42
Trisha Proper, 39, Salisbury, 4:22:00
Kelly Bankston, 38, Charlotte, 4:24:26
Leah Grace, 33, Charlotte, 4:24:27
Steve Grace, 35, Charlotte, 4:24:28
Kai Linn, 32, Charlotte, 4:24:40
Amy McClelion, 36, Salisbury, 4:25:37
Marty Coulter, 37, Hickory, 4:28:54
John Teague, 50, Charlotte, 4:34:31
Ashley Widis, 36, Charlotte, 4:37:14
Marie Phillips, 28, Charlotte, 4:38:31
Tony Swegle, 28, Charlotte, 4:38:31
Brook Kempisty, 26, Indian Trail, 4:40:51
Michael Schulman, 24, Charlotte, 4:41:31
Tom Schumacher, 70, Matthews, 4:42:09
Jay Eckman, 35, Albemarle, 4:43:23
Eric Rysdon, 39, Charlotte, 4:43:39
Laura Rysdon, 38, Charlotte, 4:43:40
Chad Evans, 34, Albemarle, 4:44:32
Michelle Osbourne, 28, Albemarle, 4:45:47
Robert Stonestreet, 60, Albemarle, 4:46:34
Dirk Wuensche, 42, Tega Cay, 4:46:41
Cate Sheehy, 29, Charlotte, 4:53:06
Josh Houser, 23, Hickory, 4:53:35
Charlotte Walsh, 21, Hickory, 4:53:35
Ty Hitt, 39, Charlotte, 4:55:46
Randall Bullard, 34, Charlotte, 4:56:20
Stephanie Yewcic, 46, Huntersville, 4:59:46
Michael Utsman, 38, Charlotte, 5:04:23
Betsy Furr, 37, Albemarle, 5:12:26
Gregory Gilchrist, 49, Monroe, 5:23:52
Blake Lowder, 24, Charlotte, 5:32:37
Jeffrey Benfield, 52, Troutman, 5:32:47
Dawn Lazarony, 41, Charlotte, 5:33:35
Heather Gerheart, 29, Charlotte, 5:50:05
Sabrina Piercy, 34, Charlotte, 5:57:36
Steven Helmandollar, 37, Albemarle, 6:11:41
Julie Farragher, 36, Charlotte, 6:27:57
Julie Chaffin, 39, Indian Trail, 7:16:24

Monday, November 15, 2010

Charlotte has a great day in Richmond

Local runners continued to make an impact on major fall marathons over the weekend, as Charlotteans filled four of the Top 21 spots on the leaderboard at Saturday's SunTrust Richmond Marathon.

The top area finisher was Paul Mainwaring, 36, who ran a personal best of 2:35:10 about 11 months after finishing third overall at the Thunder Road Marathon in 2:38:16. He was seventh overall at Richmond, which boasted a much deeper field than Charlotte's event.

Paul provided a quick recap of his race in an e-mail to me this morning:

"I went through the half in 1:17:24, so I was right on schedule. ... As we hit the bridge back into the city at Mile 16-17, it started to become a bit of a grind. I was still hitting sub-six-minute miles, but having to work a bit harder. However, the crowd support here was great as we headed back through the city, and I was reeling in the odd runner, too, so was able to keep on pace.

"The last five miles are flat and fast. I was hoping to turn on the burners at this point, but it became more of a question of getting to the finish on pace rather than picking it up. I was relieved to finish right around my goal time."

Paul added that he would highly recommend the Richmond Marathon, noting a "great" course layout and "excellent" crowd support. He also wanted to give a few shout-outs:

"Special thanks to my coach, Tim Budic, who plans my training and advises me on race tactics. He is always spot on with his advice and his guidance was a huge part of my success in this race. Also to the Charlotte Running Club. Too many people to mention individually, but whether it be for support during workouts or company on long runs or recovery days, I can always count on being to able to find some awesome people to run with. Finally, to my family, which has to put up with me while I'm doing all my training!"

Three other Charlotte Running Club members finished under three hours: 27-year-old Jay Holder (2:40:28), 37-year-old Aaron Linz (2:41:32) and 29-year-old Alejandro Arreola (2:47:16). The area's top female finisher was Fort Mill resident Terri Marshall, 47, who ran a 3:24:41.

Here are the results for 65 other locals who finished the Richmond Marathon on Saturday:

Tom Ricks, 36, Charlotte, 3:04:41
Edward Morse, 47, Concord, 3:14:50
Patrick Joseph, 22, Cornelius, 3:18:41
Michael McWhirter, 28, Gastonia, 3:19:55
Rasmus Pedersen, 35, Charlotte, 3:22:47
Philip Ciccarello, 27, Charlotte, 3:23:18
Bryan Hurley, 42, Concord, 3:24:50
Naim Bouhussein, 47, Davidson, 3:24:52
Tim Gannon, 39, Charlotte, 3:28:44
Diane Lancaster, 45, Waxhaw, 3:31:50
Beth Pierpont, 46, Charlotte, 3:33:04
Brenda Morris, 37, Matthews, 3:34:47
Mark Ulrich, 37, Charlotte, 3:35:08
Jaclyn John, 33, Charlotte, 3:35:57
Brian Trotter, 36, Gastonia, 3:36:21
Judy McCarter, 43, Huntersville, 3:37:16
David Whitehead, 57, Salisbury, 3:39:26
Glenn Duffy, 47, Charlotte, 3:42:09
Aprille Shaffer, 52, Charlotte, 3:42:46
Amy Hannon, 39, Charlotte, 3:43:10
Jenna Drury, 37, Charlotte, 3:47:24
Wesley Wetmore, 37, Charlotte, 3:57:09
Brad Lower, 44, Fort Mill, 3:57:36
Charles O'Dell, 46, Charlotte, 3:57:46
Peter Steelman, 46, Charlotte, 3:58:36
Denise Burkard, 46, Charlotte, 4:01:45
Emma Evitts, 27, Charlotte, 4:04:23
Nicolae Turcanu, 40, Hickory, 4:05:38
Denise Hauser, 28, Charlotte, 4:05:39
Celeste Bailey, 36, Charlotte, 4:05:55
Cathy Lankford, 36, Charlotte, 4:06:27
Shelly Lee, 38, Charlotte, 4:09:21
Andy Brincefield, 36, Charlotte, 4:12:39
Scott Helms, 40, Charlotte, 4:12:49
David Gresty, 45, Mooresville, 4:13:48
Bryan Saldarini, 29, Huntersville, 4:13:49
Kendall Calvin, 43, Concord, 4:16:12
Kathy McRae, 48, Charlotte, 4:16:17
Denise Derkowski, 45, Charlotte, 4:16:38
Janet Morse, 43, Concord, 4:16:38
Holly Townsend, 40, Charlotte, 4:16:39
Kimberly Ward, 45, Waxhaw, 4:17:35
Randy Adams, 56, Gastonia, 4:17:36
Michelle Olaya, 33, Charlotte, 4:18:33
Paul Simica, 46, Huntersville, 4:18:36
Christopher Iacubucci, 24, Pineville, 4:22:14
April Caya, 30, Concord, 4:22:54
Laura Calvin, 35, Concord, 4:25:13
Cam Selvey, 41, Harrisburg, 4:30:05
Peyton Jensen, 34, Huntersville, 4:32:20
Michael Reimels, 35, Huntersville, 4:36:29
Trish Sexton, 37, Fort Mill, 4:37:50
Jenny Carlson, 32, Charlotte, 4:41:50
Elizabeth Wetmore, 37, Charlotte, 4:45:26
Michael Wilson, 27, Gastonia, 4:48:56
Jane LaVenture, 39, Matthews, 4:49:58
Carie Kahn, 43, Hickory, 4:51:51
Kathleen Belfiore, 49, Mount Holly, 4:54:53
Brian Robinson, 30, Huntersville, 4:55:42
Diane Coffin, 34, Charlotte, 5:00:44
Mitch Barnes, 52, Charlotte, 5:06:36
Norma McKee, 42, Gastonia, 5:10:39
Meg Meaher, 32, Charlotte, 5:29:08
Paul Linden, 53, Gastonia, 5:38:09
Heather Snavely, 39, Fort Mill, 5:49:25

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Let Me Run caps its Fall 2010 season

Lori Klingman, vice president of Charlotte's Let Me Run, asked me to share with you her thoughts regarding the boys' organization's fall season.

Led by Klingman and LMR president Ashley Armistead, Let Me Run has grown steadily into a program that this fall reached 31 schools, a range of public, private and parochial institutions.

The six-week programs combine training for a 5K with lessons "focused on increasing self-acceptance and building healthy relationships." The most recent fourth-grade lesson plan, for instance, included topics ranging from "How to be competitive without putting the competition down" to "Real men show their feelings"; in fifth grade, there were lessons on energy, electrolytes and vitamins as well as sessions on drug awareness. There was also a similar middle-school curriculum.

Here's Lori Klingman's report:

Our fall season came to a screeching halt on Saturday, Nov. 6, with more than 130 boys participating in the Dowd YMCA 5K. Most of the boys also brought a parent, best buddy, or sibling so Let Me Run established quite a presence at the race.

The mood was jubilant, and the boys were all so excited to have "their" moment.... their time to shine. To see those sweaty faces when they cross that finish line will send chills down anyone's spine. I truly felt like my heart would burst.

I knew all those little knobby-kneed legs were shaking at the start line with anticipation. I know, too, that they were shaking at the finish line but for a different reason! How about that uphill finish?? Every boy that I spoke with made a comment about it. Some of the parents did as well, but I can't use those words here! :)

To fully recount this season, I would like to list the Top 10 things that were learned by boys, coaches, LMR staff and parents.

10. Rainy-day indoor practices can be a whole lot of fun.
9. Speed is something, but heart is everything.
8. New shoes will not make you faster, but it is nice to look good.
7. Boys are not non-communicative. Sometimes you just need to ask or open up a discussion.
6. Relay races are a great way to break up a three-mile practice run. Maybe adults should try it, too.
5. Birthday cake as a snack at practice is just fine. Calories are being burned by the second and everybody needs to celebrate sometime.
4. Never kid a kidder. If you are inauthentic, these boys will spot it from a mile away. Be real!
3. After two practices, camaraderie is established and a true team is formed.
2. Children smile when they run. Grown-ups grimace.
1. You will never, ever, ever be sorry that you crossed a finish line, so always push forward!

Words cannot express the gratitude that the LMR board and staff has for our many volunteers. Our volunteers are energetic, kind and generous.

I know that some used their own resources for snacks. I know that some coaches drove quite a distance to their respective school. I know that some coaches rescheduled work meetings and appointments. I know that ALL coaches made this season possible!!

We appreciate every single one of you and hope to see you in the spring. Don't worry. We will track you down..... :)

For more on Let Me Run, click here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Run a very hilly 26.2 (for free, perhaps)

If you're tired of running "ordinary" marathons, if you'd prefer a rigorous test of fitness and magnificent mountain views, the National College Blue Ridge Marathon on the parkway may be just the race you're looking for.

This event, now in its second year, will start and finish in downtown Roanoke, Va. (about three hours north of Charlotte) on Saturday, April 16, 2011. The course boasts 3,620 feet of total elevation gain and 7,234 feet of total elevation change and has been dubbed "America's Toughest Road Marathon"; for comparison's sake, the rigorous Grandfather Mountain Marathon -- a point-to-point race -- has 2,884 feet of climbing and 1,847 feet of downhill.

For more on this unique spring marathon, watch this video:

Registration for the Blue Ridge Marathon is currently $80 through the end of the year. There's also a half-marathon that is now $65 to enter. Proceeds from the race will go to Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

For the second year in a row, readers of this blog can enter to win one free Blue Ridge Marathon registration courtesy of the Roanoke Regional Partnership. Just e-mail me at tjanes@charlotteobserver.com and explain in 50 words or less why a challenge like this appeals to you. Please put "Blue Ridge Marathon" in the subject line, and be sure to include your name, age, city of residence. Deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19. Good luck!