Sunday, February 22, 2009

Coach Bubba 2009

Photos by Shannon Johnstone

"30 seconds to the start!" was announced as Shannon desperately tried to get a signal on her Garmin GPS running watch. "OH NO! My tracker!", I tried stretching her arm up in the air, closer to the satellites. "15 seconds to the start!". Having the "tracker" (as Shannon calls it) record a run is critically important, because if it doesn't, then the run didn't happen.

I would like to thank all the volunteers
who braved the cold, especially
Melissa who managed to give me my
bib and race packet before she tragically
succumbed to hypothermia.

Over the last couple of years Shannon and I have become obsessed with our running statistics, logging every run down to the second and 1/100 of a mile.
We run with our heads down, fixated on the GPS pace readout, sprinting to the end to get our minutes per mile down to some acceptable number. After every race, we analyze and dissect the results, applying our advanced racing mathematical theories, "Wow, I beat this guy by 5 seconds, who beat this women in a 5k last year and she ran Boston in a 3:20 back 1995, which means I should be able to run this 10k coming up in 6:49 pace".
Anyway, the race started and I put my head down and ran, carefully monitoring my heart rate and pace on my watch, not wasting any time stopping for water. I did manage to say thanks to the police officers holding the traffic and to the few cheering spectators.
With all of this focus and concentration, I managed to meet my goal with 13 seconds to spare, but it was pretty damn hard and I couldn't wait for this race to be over. Coach Bubba was my final test before the Umstead Marathon in 2 weeks and I really wanted to see if all the training had paid off.
Shannon also had a really good race and would have come in 1st in her age group, but unfortunately it didn't count because her "tracker" didn't record it.


"Bubbles" McFong, Carolina Godiva newsletter editor and social butterfly


Marc Jeuland, PHD in Environmental
Sciences and Peace Corps volunteer,
FAILED to break his own course
record from last year. What a loser.

Our friend Micky Fong crossed the finish line being her usual bubbly self, able to enjoy her run because she doesn’t even wear a watch.
Like most of the other Godiva Club folks, she isn’t too concerned with her finishing time; she's there more to socialize. It turned out that the best part of this race was hanging out after and hobnobbing with all the Carolina Godiva Club folks.

Shannon and I had pizza for lunch at the Mellow Mushroom with Laura MacLean and Bubbles McFong, and actually discussed a few things besides running. Barbara and Carolyn stopped by to chat and we decided to do the hash coming up next weekend. Eventually talk turned to the Umstead Marathon, and I became very jealous when I realized that all three of the women at the table had already “got wood”. Which means they have the top finisher wooden plaques from the race that I so covet, which I will discuss in my next post…

Micky and Ronnie Weed trade nicknames for hills in Umstead Park.
They both "have wood"

More pictures from the race can be found here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

St. Valentine's Day Massacre Marathon Relay

Photos by Shannon Johnstone
"What race is this?" asked a very nice smiling woman, walking her dog. She seemed genuinely happy and excited that a race was happening there in Greensboro’s Country Park. I was running my 4th and final loop of a marathon relay around the lake there.
Marathon Relays are fun!
(Note: some enthusiasm may be simulated.)
Most runners will try to push themselves the last mile or so of a race, painfully squeezing every last drop of energy out of their body, gasping for air, nauseated, but knowing they are almost there. But in a relay with 1.6 mile legs, every mile is the last mile. You skip the pleasant, euphoria inducing beginning and middle of the race, and jump right to the agonizing end. And you do it 4 times. So on my forth loop I was huffing and puffing up this hill, my legs using up most of the oxygen with not much left for anything else, like thinking or speaking.

"What race is this?" asked the nice woman again, turning to look at me after a runner ran by her without answering. When I considered the effort it would take to answer, I felt like she just asked me to move a refrigerator. My first impulse was to say “sorry, I don’t have the energy to answer you right now”. Instead I focused very hard and managed:
“It’s the…”, what race is this again?
“Valentines Day…”, wheeze
“marathon…”, why is the name of this race so long?
“relay…” oh, no, things are starting to go dim
“massacre…”. When I finished I realized I had long passed her by and was just shouting random words to other runners like a lunatic.
Would you quit taking my picture,
and take the damn chip?


After I squeezed every bit of life left in me to shave off a few seconds off our time, I finally reach the finish line and frantically tried to hand the timing chip off to Shannon. But instead of grabbing the chip and sprinting off on her leg, she was was busy taking a picture of me, frantically trying to hand her the timing chip.

Actually it was a pretty fun day, and "OFF 'N RUNNING" put on yet another great race. We especially liked the fact they posted results as the race was going on.

More pictures from the race can be found here.




Band of Blisters: Me, Shannon, Janne and Chris.
We were the 3rd place 4 person Co-Ed team
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