Saturday, September 26, 2009

2009 Salem Lake 30K

A marathon is kind of like a 26.2 mile car race. One where the car only goes 20 miles on a tank of gas. For a while it is fun and exhilarating with your foot on the pedal, weaving in and out, zooming past people. But then at mile 20, you sputter to a halt, and have to get out and push the car the rest of the way. Then it is nothing but misery and pain. Oh, sure, if you start slow and miserly, you can stretch your gas mileage to make it the whole way, but it kind of takes the fun out of it.

That's why a 30K (18.6 miles) is such a nice distance. You can pretty much run at your natural pace and not worry about conserving your energy. This makes the Salem Lake 30K one of our favorite races. This was my 5th time running it and Shannon has done it 6 years in a row. The course is easy and flat, with most of it on the beautiful dirt trails around Salem Lake in Winston-Salem. It is a low key event but well organized, and usually attracts some of the fastest runners in the area. Held in late September, the race makes a great tune up for any of the big marathons held in October or November, and the weather is usually mild.

Today was about 60 degrees, with a steady misting rain. I had forgot that they start the race promptly at 8am sharp, and was in a porta potty when they announced the race would start after the national anthem. The national anthem is actually pretty long, because Shannon and I made it down to the start line with enough time for her to take some pictures.

With about 400 runners, the first mile or two is usually crowded, though moving pretty fast. I started near the front this year so I was able to get lots of running room and settle into a steady pace. I was able to hold it until mile 17 when my calves decided to cramp up, but other than that I had an uneventful race.

With the dark, dreary rain, Shannon did not enjoy the scenery as much as usual, and most of the pictures she took during the run did not turn out. That was sad.

We both did OK, taking a couple minutes off our times from last year.

Shannon was very excited that there were Krispy Kreme donuts at the finish though. She put one in a box, and we drove it the 130 miles back to Cary where it is sitting in my kitchen. Sometime next week I will throw it away. This seems like a waste but it made her very happy.

Despite running with her shirt off, after Shannon finished she got so cold her lips turned blue. This happens basically every time she runs, even in the middle of July. We couldn't wait around in the rain and mingle so we headed home. We missed talking with our fellow Godivans Barbara, Tom, and Chris Boyce but we did chat with Jenny Miles and Chris Gould as we were leaving.

A good time despite the rain, and we will, of course, be back again next year.

Monday, September 21, 2009

SOLD: Softride Triathlon Bike


Triathlon Bike: Softride Classic TT 650c
Medium frame
172.5 Cranks
Shimano Ultegra components.
Aero bars.
Spinergy SR-3 wheels.
Wireless computer

  1. Inspired by my neighbor Guy, I suddenly became infatuated with Triathlons!
  2. I bought this bike!
  3. I remembered that I cannot swim.
  4. Wanna buy a bike?

Redefining fast- 2009 Buddy run 5K

A winning strategy in any race is to avoid competition at all costs. I search for obscure, little publicized races and pray no serious runners show up.
But before this 5K race even started I was already in 4th place. There were 3 very intense and fast looking guys owning the start line. The rest of pack, including me, was standing 5 feet behind them, afraid to even get close. One of these guys even had a tattoo on his leg of a person running, and that's pretty serious.

So I gave up hope in placing in the race and instead focused on going under 19 minutes for the first time in my life. Because according to the IAAF, that would be Fast.

They counted down the start and we were off, starting up a slight incline on a residential street. I was almost trampled by several more guys who blew past me, but I resisted following them and stuck with a more methodical pace.

I was really surprised as one by one, almost everyone in front of me slowed down and dropped back, leaving me in second place after the first mile. There was only the guy in the white shirt left, about 100 yards ahead, looking strong. After the halfway turn around, I saw Shannon leading the women, while still taking pictures with her camera and cheering me on.

At mile 2, the guy in the white shirt slowed down and fell back too, leaving only the guy on a bike leading the way. The last mile was slightly downhill and I tried to move my feet as fast as they would go, letting gravity do the work. I still did not believe I would actually win, and expected the guy with the tattoo to come zooming past at any moment.

The bike pacer was collecting the signs which marked the course, and several times I ran by him, left with no direction on where to go. "Um? Straight?", I asked trying not to sound desperate.
"Yeah straight. Don't worry, I got ya".

After a turn, the finish line and clock was in sight, and I sprinted down the hill finishing in 18:47.
I went back up the street to cheer on Shannon who amazingly won the womens race. I gave her a kiss after she finished, which made me self conscious and very queasy. The idea of an engaged couple winning the race and kissing at the finish line was so nauseatingly sappy that I fully expected everyone to start pelting us with water bottles. We certainly deserved that, but instead everyone was quite gracious and congratulatory.

I was excited that I had officially run a fast 5K, until I went to the IAAF website and saw that they had updated the chart for this year, redefining the word fast:

2009 IAAF Men's 5K performance ranking
19:00 and aboveAverage guy
18:00 - 18:59Insecure men trying to pump up their ego in the local non-competitive 5K
17:00 - 17:59Fast
16:00 - 16:59Insufferable skinny cross country team teenagers
15:00 - 15:59Guys who work at the shoe store
14:00 - 14:59Guy at the shoe store named Bobby who sold me my
"Asics Gel Pillow Plodders with roll bar and built in iPod."
13:00 - 13:59Targets of doping investigation
13:00 and belowEast Africans who grew up without shoes

Rats. Still not fast.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lies, Damn Lies, and Elevation Profiles

So after coming within 1 second of being "fast" in a 5K last weekend, I was eager to try again. I saw that this weekend was the "The Buddy Run 5k" in Wake Forest. I checked the elevation profile with "MapMyRun" and it showed this:

The picture above shows inclines of 1% grade. 1% isn't even noticeable, it's basically flat. I emailed this to Shannon and she signed us up immediately. We were hoping this nice flat course would get us PRs and I could break 19:00.
However when we ran it this morning we found the course was more like this:

Oh sure, 70 feet of elevation change isn't much, but when you go up and down it 18 times it adds up. I am not saying this race was hard, because I'm sure that at this very moment there is an ultra marathon going on where participants run 100 miles up the side a sheer cliff pulling a school bus. So, no, this 5K was not hard.
What I am saying is that elevation profiles are generally full of crap. All the "little" hills they smooth over are more relevant than the broad picture.

Anyway... I'll do a The Buddy Run 5k race report shortly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

5K- Difference between fast and mediocre

2009 North Hills 5K

The clock read "18:55", and I thought, "Holy crap."
I was approaching the finish line of the North Hills 5K in Raleigh, about to throw up.
"I could break 19 minutes! That would be fast*!"
So I sprinted to the finish line, with my eyes scanning beyond it, looking for a bucket to place the contents of my stomach.

*I use the word "fast" in a the technical sense, as defined by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). They have a standardized chart used to gage performance in a 5K. I have reproduced the one for men below:

IAAF Men's 5K performance ranking
19:00 and aboveAverage guy
18:00 - 18:59Fast
17:00 - 17:5940 year olds who were on the collage track team
16:00 - 16:59Insufferable skinny cross country team teenagers
15:00 - 15:59Guys who work at the shoe store
14:00 - 14:59Guy at the shoe store named Bobby who sold me my
"Asics Gel Pillow Plodders with roll bar and built in iPod."
13:00 - 13:59Targets of doping investigation
13:00 and belowEast Africans who grew up without shoes

As a runner, I am in the "Average guy" class, and I am proud of that. Back in high school, I was always the last kid picked for the team in gym class, so acheiving the heights of cardiovascular mediocrity is a quite an accomplishment for me.
And now here I was, with the title of "Fast" only several nauseating steps away. As I crossed the finish line the clock read "19:01". This distracted my stomach enough that it forgot about vomiting, at least until I considered the hot dogs being served.

I still held out hope for a sub 19, because 19:01 was just my "gun time". This race used timing chips, so my actual "chip time" could be a few seconds less! Then I could brag, and say "Yeah, I ran an 18... something. ".
I had to wait until the next day, constantly checking for the final results online, until I finally got my result: 19:00

Ug. One second away from being fast. Should have just took it easy and had a hot dog.

More pictures here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

For Sale - Men's Saucony Triumph5 (size 12) - $30

Brand New! In the Box! Paid $80 for a pair, selling for $30!

Buy all 4 pair for $100! What a Bargain!

Why do I have 4 pair of brand new Saucony Triumph 5 (size 12)?
Why did I waste $360 for 4 pairs of shoes I cant wear? To save money! Yes, I am a moron!
When I first started running marathons a few years ago, I wore Saucony Trigon 4 shoes. I went through 3 pair of them, with no problems at all. Not even a single blister.
But then I could no longer get them. I tried a bunch of other shoes that didn't work. Finally, I bought a pair of Saucony Triumph 5, and they were great! Ran 200 miles with no issues at all.
So I thought I would buy a whole bunch so I wouldn't have to worry about the shoes being discontinued. They were selling for like $120 at the shoe store at the time, so I bought 5 pair online for $80 a pair, which was like $440 with shipping. "Look how smart I am! Look how much money I am saving!"
As soon as I hit the "confirm" button to charge my credit card I started to get a weird ache in my big toe. Months later this turned into a crippling shooting pain in both feet. Turns out the Triumph 5 were too narrow for me.

So now you can benefit from my stupidity! If you're size 12 and need running shoes, let me know!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Capital Tourist 20K

Shannon and I made a quick 30 hour road trip to Washington D.C. this past weekend to meet my sister Monique and family. This was our first visit to DC (at least in a very long time), so we wanted to see all the sights. And what better way, than to go for a run?
Started out with a run by the Capitol building and the Supreme Court
Then ran down The Mall past the Washington MonumentLincoln Memorial. Note: bathrooms don't open till 8am.

Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I have a dream" speech at the Lincoln memorial. Did not know that.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It seemed obvious that running through it would be disrespectful, but there was actually a "no running" sign.
We crossed the Arlington memorial bridge into Virginia, and me and my craptastic iphone got us lost.
After 20 minutes of running around Arlington we finally found the Iwo Jima memorial. We also saw Arlington National Cemetery.
Finally, a quick jog by the White House. No sign of the president.
The run ended up being 12.5 miles. Not a bad way to see DC if you only have 2 hours.
Later, we hit the museums, which house our national treasures.

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