Looking for a race to run in the Charlotte area this weekend? You've got plenty of choices, and here they are:
Kate's Race for Hope
What: 5K run, 2K walk, and kids' fun run.
When: 5K is at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by the fun run at 8:15 and the 2K walk at 8:30.
Where: McAlpine Creek Park, 8711 Monroe Road.
Why: All proceeds will benefit Hope Cancer Ministries.
Cost: $30 for either the 5K or the 2K walk, $8 for the fun run.
Of note: This is the sixth year for the race, which is held in memory of Kate Schultz Colon, who died of cancer in 2004 at age 25. ... The 5K course is USATF certified.
Race website: Click here.
Gold Rush Sprint Triathlon
What: 500-meter swim, 11.9-mile bike, 5K run.
When: 7 a.m. Saturday.
Where: Mecklenburg Aquatics Center at Charlotte Latin School, 9502 Providence Road in Charlotte.
Why: All proceeds benefit Polio Plus and A Child's Place.
Cost: $75 per individual, $140 for a relay team. There is a $10 fee for each non-USAT registrant.
Of note: The swim leg will take place in a 10-lane Olympic-size pool; the bike and run legs are mostly on "wide neighborhood roads that roll gently" in South Charlotte. ... Hosted by the Rotary Club of Mecklenburg County-South. ... Door prizes include a "Zerona laser body sculpt package" from Haas Wellness Center ($1,500 value), a three-month membership to the Siskey YMCA ($225 value), TrySports gift certificates, and more.
Race website: Click here.
Miles for Marines
What: 15K and 5K trail races that are "being held in honor of all who have served with the U.S. Marine Corps."
When: Beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Where: In Westminster Park, off of India Hook Road in Rock Hill, S.C.
Why: All proceeds will benefit the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.
Cost: $25 for the 15K, $15 for the 5K.
Of note: There will also be a 1-mile event for ages 10 and younger. $10 to register. ... The courses wind along the banks of the Catawba River, and are considered challenging. ... Participants are encouraged to remind themselves, while competing, of "the discipline, self sacrifice and rigorous training that Marines endure in effort to better serve our nation and keep us safe."
Race website: Click here.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Looking for a race to run in the Charlotte area this weekend? You've got plenty of choices, and here they are:
Monday, June 21, 2010
Ha! Don't we all.
For runners on a budget, there are plenty of free resources out there that can guide you through your training (Runner's World's SmartCoach is one). But if you're looking for more support and instruction along the way -- and have some money to spend -- you might want to consider USA Fit Charlotte's and USA Fit North Charlotte's marathon and half marathon training programs.
The 22-week programs begin with orientation sessions/evaluation runs at 7 a.m. Saturday, July 10; participation is open to runners of all abilities ages 18 and older. Thereafter, participants will meet every Saturday morning for a group run at the Run For Your Life locations in Dilworth and Piper Glen (for USA Fit Charlotte) and in University City (for USA Fit North Charlotte).
For a one-time registration fee of $125 (or $100 for returning participants), you'll get: the weekend group runs, daily/weekly training schedules, access to running coaches, informational seminars, and a USA Fit marathon training technical T-shirt.
If you've ever priced similar programs, you might know that this is a reasonably good deal for a package like this -- average monthly cost is only about 25 bucks.
Balking at the prospect of early-morning group runs? Consider this: For many people, group runs are their favorite runs of the week. Having a conversation, or simply eavesdropping on the conversations of others, makes long runs seem to go by two or three times as fast as solo runs. It's like when you take a phone call on the drive home; you talk and talk, and as you hang up when you arrive in your driveway, you think, "Wow, I'm here already?"
You'll also develop fast friendships by joining a group because there'll be a built-in bond -- the shared desire to prepare for a marathon, the interest in running. As with any group dynamic, over several weeks, you'll eventually have sorted through the group to find people you have additional things in common with.
There are other ways to find running groups. The Charlotte Running Club is one. Meetup.com is another. Or, you can check with your local running store or health club. But if you think the perks the USA Fit programs offer are attractive, check them out. Consider the coaching/training and the "freebies" to be what you pay for -- and the camaraderie to be what you get back.
Have questions, or want to find out how to sign up? E-mail email@example.com about the Dilworth or Piper Glen programs, or firstname.lastname@example.org for the University City program. Want to share info about other programs, or other running groups? Do it here.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
If you're planning to run the Summer Breeze 5K in Charlotte's Freedom Park on Saturday morning, get ready for another hot one.
According to the National Weather Service, temperature at the start is expected to be in the mid-70s ... and since the women run first, at 7:30 a.m., followed by the men at 8, the Fahrenheit may eclipse 80 degrees by the time middle-of-the-pack guys cross the finish line.
The Summer Breeze race, sponsored by Run For Your Life, is held annually during the weekend of the summer solstice, which results in the longest day and the shortest night of the year. It became a morning event in 2009, after several years as an evening race.
Last year, 312 women and 257 men participated. Alana Hadley (then 12 years old) of Charlotte was the fastest female finisher, in 19:19.
You can register online (here) through midnight Thursday for $20, or $15 for children K-12. There's also a kids' "fun run" at 8:45 (cost is $5). On race day, fees go up to $30/$20, or $10 for the fun run. Proceeds benefit the Charlotte Track & Triathlon Club.
For full Summer Breeze details, click here.
Oh, and if you want to take a break from racing, organizers are looking for volunteers, too. Find out how you can help by e-mailing Charlotte Track and Triathlon Club volunteer coordinator Lana Torkildsen at PiggyTork@carolina.rr.com.
- - -
If you're looking for a new and different type of racing challenge, there's also this:
Miles of Mooresville
What: Summer race series, featuring 1-, 2- and 3-mile events.
When: Friday night. One-mile race starts at 7, two-miler starts at 7:20, 3-miler starts at 8 p.m.
Cost: For $25 (or $30 on race day), runners can participate in any or all of these races.
Where: Registration opens at 5:45 p.m. at the Charles Mack Citizen Center in downtown Mooresville (North Main Street and Moore Avenue). The start line is two blocks south, on South Main between Center and McLelland streets.
Why: All proceeds will be donated to local charities in the Mooresville area, including the Humane Society of Iredell County's "no-kill" shelter.
Of note: This is the first event in the series, which features identical races on July 16 and Aug. 13. Each runner will receive a technical T-shirt and one free beer provided by Carolina Blonde (ID required). There will be live music and kids activities.
Race website: Click here.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The New York Road Runners are paying travel and lodging expenses for 13-year-old Alana Hadley to compete this Saturday in the NYRR New York Mini 10K, an all-women's race in Central Park with an announced field that will boast 11 Olympians.
This will be the Charlotte middle-schooler's first race against world-class competition. Alana has already raced at the collegiate level -- at the Wake Forest Open in March, when she finished second in the 5,000 meters with a personal-best time of 17:09.38. She has a 10K personal best of 38:08.
"And 3) Probably the biggest factor is that the NYRR and Mary Wittenberg [its president and CEO] are really championing youth running programs as a way to combat childhood obesity. They have over 100,000 kids in NYRR-sponsored programs currently, and what better way to provide them with a role model than to bring in a kid who can actually run with some of the better women around -- and who absolutely loves the sport. Makes sense for everyone."
Top headliners for the New York Mini 10K are four-time Mini champion Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands; two-time Olympic 10,000-meter gold medalist Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia, who is making her first trip back to New York City since her victory here at the ING New York City Marathon last November; and 2009 10,000-meter world champion Linet Masai of Kenya. [Great Britain's Paula Radcliffe and U.S. star Kara Goucher will be running, but not competing, as they are both in their fifth month of pregnancy.]
Mark Hadley believes a Top 15-30 finish is realistic for his daughter.
"We think Alana will probably run somewhere in the 36s for the 10k," he tells me. "The course has its flat parts and its rolling sections, but it's not bad by Charlotte standards. I think she is in shape to run in the mid- to upper 35s on the track, and this course is probably 45 seconds to a minute slower than a track race."
The top runners will be vying for a prize purse of $35,000, with $10,000 in money earmarked for Americans and the winner taking home $10,000.
Founded by NYRR in 1972, the Mini got its name when race founder Fred Lebow convinced the first sponsor to support a six-mile "mini" marathon -- named for the miniskirt, which was then in fashion -- rather than a full marathon. The first race featured 78 participants; 4,291 women ran it in 2009.
Asana Activewear is hosting its Summer Bootcamp Series again this year -- five "boot-camp"-style, outdoor (but in-the-shade) workouts on Saturday mornings in June, July and August. The workouts will be led by personal trainers from Charlotte-area gyms, and will feature a variety of strength, agility and conditioning drills. Registration is $30, which includes all five sessions, a drawstring backpack, a water bottle and freebies and coupons from Earthfare. First 60- to 70-minute session is this Saturday at 8:30 a.m.; other dates are June 26, July 10, July 24 and Aug. 7. Details: Click here.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
About eight weeks ago, I decided to run a secret marathon. Sunday, I ran it. And I think I can safely say that keeping the secret was almost as hard as actually running the race. Anyway, here's my story:
Having made such a big deal on this very blog about my first three marathons, and having experienced a setback in the third (I finished 16 minutes slower than I'd hoped to at Shamrock in March), I came up with a theory: Maybe all the advice, the expectations, the critiquing of my training habits -- maybe even all the support -- were messing with my head. So this actually began as an experiment. What, I wondered, would happen if I signed up for a marathon and didn't tell anybody about it?
Shortly after Shamrock, I learned that my old college friend and roommate Doug Pollock was doing the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon as his first full. Seemed perfect: a race on the other side of the country, off the grid, so to speak; the promise of pretty good weather; enough time to train; and a solid excuse to reconnect with a buddy I hadn't seen in years, to boot. I told Doug I'd keep an eye on flights and see if I could nail a cheap fare. He responded by dipping into his huge well of miles (he travels regularly for work) to book my airfare.
Hiding a marathon from running friends is actually much, much more difficult to pull off than you'd think. I do a fair amount of workouts by myself, but I also have a few regular running buddies and do long runs when I can with a group in University City on Saturdays. And as you all know, there's one topic of conversation that comes up 100 out of 100 times when you run with friends: races. "So, are you training for anything right now?" It's like talking about the weather.
Needless to say, I've had to tell hundreds of white lies over the last couple months.
Before I put my plan into motion, I actually did confide in a few people that I was on the lookout for a stealth marathon. But after I signed up for San Diego, I decided to go completely dark. It just seemed like telling even a select few would defeat the purpose, undermine the whole concept. There were certainly people here in Charlotte who I clued in -- my wife, my parents, a neighbor, a family friend -- but I kept it from anyone with a significant connection to the running community here.
If you were paying close enough attention, it wasn't impossible to figure out. Hiding long training runs is pretty difficult (especially from that UCity running group). When people would ask why I was going so long, I told them I was just trying to keep my options open in case I could find a spring marathon. I was skipping local races I normally would have done, in favor of those long runs. Some of the speedwork I was posting on Facebook was probably a little suspicious. Then, in the past two weeks, my mileage dropped off. (Taper, anyone?) Another giveaway may have been my joining the San Diego Marathon group on Facebook, a move I forgot to remove from my News Feed...
The race itself
It was cloudy for the start, in the low 60s. First part of the race went great. I was right around 8:26-8:27 pace for the first four miles. The course passed some notable San Diego landmarks in the first six or seven miles, including the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the USS Midway aircraft carrier on Harbor Drive, and what to me -- as a baseball fan -- is one of the coolest stretches of the four marathons I've done: a pass through Petco Park, where the Padres play. We ran behind the scoreboard along the backside of the stadium, and got a thrilling up-close view of the field. Average pace for Miles 4-8 was about 8:12.
There was a big climb midway through the first half of the race that I wasn't expecting (gotta study those elevation charts more closely beforehand) -- about 250 feet of ascent between Miles 7 and 10.5. Another surprise wrinkle: Right before Mile 9, you hit Highway 163 heading away from downtown, and the race becomes another animal. The first thing you notice is the camber of the road, which is significant; it's like you're running up a hill and along the side of a hill at the same time. The second thing you notice is a thick stream of runners on an overpass above, crossing right to left, then heading parallel -- until they merge onto the same highway with you.
Now, if the level of coordination was such that organizers had gotten evenly paced full and half marathoners together here, it wouldn't have been a huge deal. But as it was, this was a major design flaw. Remember, this was not a small race, with some 30,000 runners in all. So after the merge, it was complete chaos, with plodders everywhere, and lots of three- and four-across sets of Team In Training groups obstructing straight lines. The only half-marathoner pace sign I spotted had a "2:30" imprinted on it, but this was a couple-few miles after the merge; I think the first wave I weaved through was on about a 3-hour pace. Of course, one silver lining here was that all this climbing led to a peak, and after the peak, there was a valley -- 200 feet of glorious drop in a single mile, between 10.5 and 11.5. Not surprisingly, that's when I clocked my fastest mile of the race (7:59).
We didn't permanently ditch the halfers till about Mile 14, but I felt pretty locked in at this point. I kept clicking off miles in the 8:12 range.
I don't remember exactly when the sun burned off the marine layer. But I can tell you exactly when I started feeling it. Just after Mile 17, we hit Mission Bay, and by then it was close to 70 degrees and brilliantly sunny. For the first few miles on the biking/walking path, there were smatterings of trees. Way more sun than shade, but a couple seconds of shade every couple hundred feet or so. To make matters worse, once you hit the bay, you could see a long stream of runners on the other side of it, and from that vantage point -- especially given that fatigue is setting in -- it seemed as though they were a thousand miles away. It was spirit-crushing, and because of the layout, you had this view for a loooong time. Then at Mile 21 you get out onto Fiesta Island and begin a 4.7-mile stretch during which there is absolutely no cover from the sun.
It's this lack of shade that's the killer. I know 70 sounds pretty good to those of you who've been running in Charlotte when it's 90. But I've run in 90-degree Charlotte heat, too. I know it's brutal. The rub is that Charlotte also has a ton of trees. And you don't normally run 26.2 on hot days in Charlotte. I am telling you, running on Fiesta Island, without any relief from the sun in sight, that late in a marathon -- we might as well have been trotting across the Arizona desert. At one point, I briefly considered throwing myself into the bay.
So Fiesta Island turned into a bit of a death march. I walked a few times, though I have enough experience with bonking now that I tend to walk pretty fast and can more quickly summon the will to start jogging again. Slowest mile was 24 (10:22), but when you consider that includes some walking, it could have been worse.
What kept me going late:
- Definitely the Otter Pop that the co-eds were handing out at Mile 20. I told Doug afterward that it was the best Otter Pop I've ever had in my entire life, and I was not kidding.
- Two or three salt packets, which I firmly believe warded off muscle cramps.
- Sponges dipped in ice water. Heavenly. The first two I squeezed off on my head; the second two I tucked into the collar of my shirt. I am absolutely positive I would have walked less if I'd done what I did with the first two what I did with the second two.
- Boisterous high school cheerleading teams on Fiesta Island. In fact, various packs of cheerleaders were scattered along the entire course, and although I've never run Boston, I thought immediately of the Wellesley girls when I heard deafening screams more than a minute before actually passing each throng.
- I know this could come off as cliche, but thinking about my friend Melanie, who just last week began chemotherapy treatments, and my wife Amanda, a cancer survivor. Like I said, there were a ton of Team In Training runners out there, a ton of "beat cancer" messages and "in memory of" shirts. It puts things in perspective.
The final analysis
Well, it was an interesting experiment. I can't say I took great joy in misleading running friends and acquaintances, and at times, I had to physically restrain myself from spilling my plan to closer pals. So in a way, it was just as stressful as everyone knowing, there was just as much mental noise, and it clearly had no discernible effect on my performance. But I've gotta admit: It was kind of fun taking a different approach, and it was kind of fun just seeing if I could pull it off. Quite honestly, I don't think everyone could hold their ground -- and who doesn't like a good personal challenge?
Really, though, I was drawn from the beginning to the essence of the idea, and I think I got out of it what I wanted: a marathon that I was running for myself, on my own terms, without any input or great expectations. I'd do it again.
When? Ha. Yeah right, nice try.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
It's the only marathon she's ever run. And this year's race, set for Sunday, just so happens to fall on her birthday. Her 87th birthday.
The Charlottean -- a grandmother 10 times over -- started her streak in 1999 after a friend turned her on to the idea of walking a marathon for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through Team In Training. In that first race, Thompson mixed in some running and wound up winning her age group in just under seven hours, just seconds before the official cutoff time. (She hasn't finished that slowly since; her PR is 6:07:22.)
Thompson is a cancer survivor herself, and says she's lost many friends to the disease. Over the years, she's raised $75,000 through Team In Training, and is currently the organization's top fundraiser for San Diego.
Q. When did you start running?
Around 1977, running started to become popular. It was thought to be beneficial, exhilarating, etc., so I decided to run around the block every now and then.
Q. How many miles do you log a week, and what's your average pace?
Q. What is it about San Diego that's so special?
Q. Do you ever run local races here in Charlotte?
Q. What type of cancer did you have?
Q. Tell me about your experience with Team In Training.
Q. I hear you're also an accomplished pianist. Are there any similarities between the way music makes you feel and the way running makes you feel?
Q. How's your body holding up?
Q. Do you ever think to yourself, "I'm getting too old for this ----"?
Here are a few little news items, some of which appeared earlier this week on my Facebook Fan Page:
The Charlotte Running Club is hosting a fundraising event TONIGHT that will feature Queens University of Charlotte head track coach Scott Simmons as its special guest, along with members of the Royals team that competed at the Division II national meet here in Charlotte last weekend. The event will take place at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille (911 E. Morehead St.) from 6-9 p.m.; cost is $15 at the door and includes food and drinks. Authentic USATF gear signed by U.S. Olympic track and field athletes will be auctioned off. All proceeds from the event will benefit the club as well as Queens' goal of purchasing a state-of-the-art Alter-G Treadmill to help train its athletes. Details: E-mail Jay Holder at email@example.com or Jenna Wrieden at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Week 2 of the Charlotte Track & Triathlon Club's Trenton Guy Sr. Summer Track Series is Tuesday at the Myers Park High School track. Registration begins at 5 p.m., with the first event at 6 p.m. All ages and abilities are welcome. The entry fee is $2 for the first two events and $1 for each additional event. The events in order are: 50m, 100m, 1 mile, 4 x 100m relay, 400m, 800m, 200m, and 2 mile. [At the last track meet of the series, on June 29, the final event will be a 5K (instead of the 2 mile). Participation in the 5K is limited, so pre-registration ($5) is required.] Details: E-mail Lana Torkildsen at email@example.com.
Registration for the 2010 Ridge to Bridge Marathon (Jonas Ridge to Brown Mountain Beach Resort in N.C.) opened Tuesday. Cap is 300 runners, and as of 9 p.m. Wednesday, 70 percent of the spots had been filled, according to the website. Ridge to Bridge is a downhill marathon; in 2008, 23 percent of entrants qualified for Boston. Race is Saturday, Oct. 30. Details: Click here.