Race Report: 2014 OrthoCarolina 10K Classic

(Originally posted August 24, 2014. This was the first Race Report I ever wrote. Looking back, I was initially surprised that I didn’t post a picture from the starting line, but then I found the pictures I took that day, and in my starting line picture there was a guy standing in front of me in a really awkward pose, so I understand why I didn’t post that picture. Apparently, taking a picture of my race t-shirt didn’t become a tradition until later. Other than that, I haven’t made any major changes to the format.

Side note: Back in 2014, I thought a 10K qualified as a long run. How quaint. Anyway, on to the actual report.)

I survived.

Well, that’s obvious, as this is not a posthumous post. I guess I should say a little more than that.

There was no packet pickup on Thursday before the race. There was only Friday evening and Saturday morning, both at the site of the race. Getting there on Friday after work would have been a nightmare with rush hour traffic, so I opted for the pickup before the race. I wanted to get there really early, like right at 6:30, to avoid standing in line. That meant getting up at around 5:15 AM. That also meant going to bed early. Or trying to, anyway.

Around 9:45 Friday night, I went to bed. Around 9:55, I was still awake, and my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, so I didn’t answer, but I waited to see if they left a voice mail. They did, so I called in to listen to it, fully expecting a recording saying I won a cruise or some similar scam, but it turns out, it was one of my co-workers.

OK, out of bed, log in to work, fix something that was totally my fault, and back to bed. It’s 10:15. OK, I can still do this.

Except at this point, I’m thinking about the race, about what I screwed up at work (nothing really major, just something that bugged me), about how early I need to get up. Under ideal circumstances, I can have trouble turning off my brain so I can get to sleep. This was not an ideal circumstance. I spent a good chunk of the night tossing and turning. I somehow managed to wake up at 5:14.

I showered, used the bathroom twice (I really, really, really hydrated on Friday), ate a couple of slices of wheat bread with peanut butter (carbs and protein, good for long runs), drank some water, brushed my teeth, and left.

They had a large parking deck where you could park for free, which is always good. I got there right at 6:30. There was no line for packet pickup. The packet consisted of a t-shirt (no tech tee, just a cotton/polyester blend, boo), my bib, and 4 safety pins. I am now glad that I didn’t brave rush hour traffic for this.

I went back to my car to drop off the shirt and put on sunscreen. (Seriously, with my complexion, I need SPF 1000, and I’m probably still a melanoma case waiting to happen.) I then picked up my timing chip. Luckily I got it fairly early, because everybody had to get it at the race, and the lines got really long by around 7.

After that, I just wandered around, worrying about the weather (76 degrees, over 90% humidity), my lack of sleep, the hills. And then I saw this, about half a block from the starting line.

2014-08-23 07.32.47

Stop worrying. That’s pretty much what I needed to hear at that time. It worked. I was pretty relaxed as 7:45 approached.

Now, if this was Hollywood, I would have had a fantastic race, all because I saw that sign. But 76 degrees made it more like a horror movie.

All of the mile times listed below are from RunKeeper, but since I didn’t stop it right after the race (oops), I have no idea what my time or pace were for the last .2 miles.

Mile 1

I went out too fast. I haven’t figured out how to fix that on any run that isn’t in my neighborhood. Between being in a large group that runs much faster than I should run, and the fact that almost all of the first mile of this race was downhill, I was going too fast, and I finished the first mile in 10:58.

Mile 2

This mile was mildly eventful. My phone was in my pocket, and I heard the sound that indicated I got a text message, which I thought was odd for a Saturday morning, but apparently my dentist’s office decided to text me a reminder about my appointment on Monday. Gee, thanks.

We also had a few small uphill climbs. It was still doable, although I really should have walked a bit more. Still, I was doing OK, and finished the mile in 12:00 even.

Miles 3 and 4

Hills. Lots and lots of hills. The heat really started to take its toll. Also, in case you were wondering, that stop worrying thing wasn’t working any more. Mile 3 clocked in at a respectable 11:46, but Mile 4 jumped up to 12:24.

Mile 5

At this point, a combination of a few welcome downhill stretches and the fact that I didn’t really care any more made for my fastest mile since the first one, 11:42. Respectable. Had I been able to keep that up, I would have been happier about the race.

Mile 6 to the end

More hills. More climbing. More heat. It was just too much to keep up my Mile 5 pace. Mile 6 ended up at 12:32, but here at least I have something of a story.

I was taking a much needed walk break, when a woman passed me. We had been passing each other for a while. This time, as she passed, she asked, “Intervals?” I replied, “Not (pant) exactly (pant) planned.” I think she laughed. I nicknamed her Interval Woman.

Anyway, I stumbled along, occasionally running, occasionally walking. I do remember a volunteer telling us we had 300 meters to go. I thought to myself, “Dude, I can’t convert metric without a calculator under ideal conditions.” Later, I figured it out, and it’s about .18 miles. I could have sworn this guy was before the 6 Mile marker, though, so I don’t know. Either way, knowing I had 300 meters didn’t help much.

Around that time, Interval Woman caught up to me while I was walking. I could almost see the finish line, so I was getting ready to run at the end, but she kind of forced my hand. I don’t remember her exact words, but she basically said we were both going to run the rest of the way. So I started running one last time.

I eventually left Interval Woman behind, and closed in on this older guy. We both sped up as we approached the finish line. I couldn’t quite catch him. But I finally finished. (Later, when I looked at the results, his age wasn’t listed, but his category was: Male 70+. Kudos, Old Man.)

I had to stop for a moment while a volunteer took my timing chip, but it was pretty quick. (Funny, a couple of weeks ago I was reading a race report on a blog for a race somewhere out west, and the blogger mentioned having to wait for someone to get their timing chip – apparently this other race wasn’t quite as efficient – and I was bemused because at the time, I had never had to give back a timing chip. Now I have.)

At this point, I needed water. I found the tent where they had water, bananas, bagels, and oranges. One small problem, they were temporarily out of cups. Ah, the joys of finishing near the back of the pack. I got a cup from the beer tent (Thank you, NoDa Brewing), and went back for several cups of water and some of the food.

I was completely drenched with sweat. It was so bad, my fingertips were sweating, which meant it took several tries to get my phone to unlock. But I finally got it, and here is the obligatory post-race picture of me with my car key.

2014-08-23 09.21.21

I then posted on Facebook that there are 3 Classic Blunders:

1) Never get involved in a land war in Asia.
2) Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.
3) Never run a 10K in Charlotte in August.

This course would have been difficult at 56 degrees. We had 76 degrees. It was brutal. My previous warmest race was 60, so I beat that by 16 degrees.

And yet, in spite of everything, I still managed (with a little bit of external encouragement) to finish strong.

Now, I had to write all of this so far without knowing for sure what my final time was. Apparently, they had a power hit at some point, and that messed things up. They do apparently have everyone’s correct time, but it’s just going to take some time to get it posted.

Well, as of 6:30 PM Sunday, my time is listed as 1:13:56. Now, at one point earlier in the day, it was listed as 1:16 something. (I’ve also noticed that I went from being 301st to 303rd to 305th over the course of the day. Not that I care about moving down, as long as I’m not last, and I’m at 305 out of 355.) So I’m not sure if that’s my final time. It seems feasible. I forgot to stop RunKeeper right after I finished, and by the time I did, my time was up to 1:15:50. It was probably about 2 minutes after I crossed the finish line when I stopped it. For now, I’m going with 1:13:56, although it’s listed as my clock time, and my chip time is listed as blank.

I guess my overall reaction (and this may change if my official time is lowered) is that, in spite of brutal conditions and a really hilly course, I was less than a minute slower than when I ran 6.2 miles a week earlier. So I’m…well, pleased is a strong word. Let’s say satisfied. (I still want to run another 10K some day and beat my time, of course.)

And, since this was my first 10K race, no matter what the final time is, it’s a PR.

Weekly Wrap-Up: August 22-28

Well, that was a week, and a weekend, too. (Mostly good, except for my phone dying and getting replaced.) Since I didn’t get home until 10:00 Sunday night, my wrap-up is a day late.

My recap of the 2016 Yiasou Greek Festival 5K is coming later this week. I know I said I’d re-post the recap from my marathon this week, but I changed my mind, and first I have to re-post my write-up for the 2014 OrthoCarolina 10K, which, up until Saturday, was the hottest race I’d ever run. I’ll definitely bring that race up when I write about this weekend’s race, so I figured I’d better provide some context first.

The good news is I don’t have to change my banner. The bad news is, that means I didn’t get a new 5K PR. I’ll have some more thoughts on that in my race report.

My new shoes came in on Thursday. (I’m still not crazy about the lime trim, but the Brooks logo is silver with a black background, and that looks pretty cool. They’re growing on me.) Of course, they showed up at the Midtown location of Run For Your Life, and I had to go to the University location for packet pickup for my race, so my trip home from work Thursday took a little longer than usual. On the plus side, they were doing a customer appreciation promotion, so with the purchase of my shoes. I got a free tech t-shirt, and I chose green. I finally have a shirt I can wear when I run on St. Patrick’s Day. With my shirts from previous races, I had every other color covered. (Actually, I have 2 red shirts, 1 purple, 1 gray, 2 white, and about 50,000 blue shirts. I don’t understand all the blue shirts either.)

Weight Check: Since I wasn’t home Sunday morning, and I wasn’t able to write this until Monday, I decided to use my weigh-in from this morning, which was 163.5. That’s up exactly 1 pound from last week. I suppose it could have been worse. I did pretty well most of the week. I did have a Coke on Saturday, and two on Sunday, but in each case I was driving and wanted to stay alert. There was plenty of food (and beer) when I got together with some college friends over the weekend, but I tried not to go overboard. This week should be a little more normal. Maybe.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday Easy 7 7.01
Tuesday 1.5 mile warm up, 1 mile @ Marathon Pace (11:00/mile), 1 mile @ Threshold (10:30/mile) w/3:00 recovery, 10 x 45-sec. Repeats (9:00/mile) with 1:30 recovery, 1.5 mile cool down 7.26
Thursday Easy 7 7.01
Friday Easy 3 3.12
Saturday 4 mile warm up, 5K race, 5 mile cool down. 12.12 (3.51, 3.1, 5.51)

Total: 36.52 miles

I ended up skipping my 3 mile Saturday run. According to my co-worker who created my training plan, that run was really just to shake things out after my race. My legs felt fine on Sunday (and Monday), so I guess I was OK to skip it.

On Monday, the weather was still bad, but not quite as miserable. My legs didn’t have a whole lot of energy. I did OK, I guess.

Up until Tuesday, Charlotte had a streak of 30 straight days where the temperature never dropped below 70 degrees. It’s insane. It was 68 degrees on Tuesday morning, finally breaking the streak. It was the best non-Portland weather I’ve seen since June. It was still a tough workout. There are too many intervals for me to post all of the splits, but they were all under the goal paces, and the very last interval was my fastest, with a pace of 6:58/mile(!).

Thursday was another 7 mile midweek easy run. My plan has a lot of those. The temperature was back up to 70, but it wasn’t completely miserable. I ran relatively well.

Friday I couldn’t just stop at 3 miles, I had to get the 5K distance. I’m not sure why I went all the way to 3.12 miles before stopping. Funny, my Garmin also registered 3.12 miles for the race on Saturday. *cue Twilight Zone theme*

As for Saturday, you’ll have to wait for the race report later this week. I did cut the warmup short just to give myself a little extra time to cool off before the race, and I added that half mile to the cool down.

Next Week: (which has already started)
Monday: Easy 7 (Already done. Hot and humid.)
Tuesday: 3 mile warm up, 8 x 1:00 Repeats (9:00/mile pace) with 2:00 recovery, 2 mile cool downThursday: Easy 7
Friday: Easy 7
Saturday: 14 miles LSD

It’s supposed to cool down a little bit later this week. We’ll see.

Race Report: 2015 Yiasou Greek Festival 5K

(Originally published August 30, 2015.)

For reasons I don’t completely understand, I really, really really wanted a PR for this race.

First, I need to go back to Monday before the race. After a fairly uneventful run that morning, I noticed as I was walking around work that my left Achilles felt a little sore, especially when going up and down stairs. That’s not something I’ve experienced before. Well, I went home, looked up some stuff, and of course immediately focused on the worst case scenarios, which would be no running for several months. Forget about the 5K, that would mean I’d miss out on the Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon.

I went out Tuesday morning for a workout. I got through the intervals, but when it came to the cool down, I could only make it one mile out of two before calling it quits. At this point, I was pretty worried.

Luckily, on Tuesday, my co-worker who wrote my training plan would be back in the office, and I remembered that he had some Achilles problems that he had dealt with. So I asked him for advice. Basically, it can be summed up in one sentence: Stretch the **** out of your calf. Of course, he also said that if it still hurts after that, go see a doctor.

I think I spent most of Tuesday afternoon stretching while still at work. Wednesday was a scheduled rest day, although I did plenty of stretching that morning. And on my next run Thursday morning, it paid off. No Achilles pain. (I had other random fleeting aches and pains, but that’s normal at this point.) Crisis averted.

Now, let’s get to the stuff that’s more related to the actual race.

Since the race is sponsored by Run For Your Life, they offered packet pick-up at all 3 of their locations, and you would choose which one when you registered. I chose University, and drove over there after work Thursday. (Hooray for Thursday packet pick-up!) I got my bib, my shirt, and two tickets to the actual Greek Festival, which isn’t for another two weeks, and I might not even be in town for it. I didn’t notice if they had safety pins, but I decided to recycle some from a previous bib.

Here’s a picture of the shirt, a tech singlet, and my first running shirt without sleeves.


I’m not sure what’s going on with the light in that picture. The shirt is just a solid medium blue. They actually had gender specific shirts, which I don’t recall seeing at any of my previous races. In case you were wondering, the women’s version is pink.

So, according to my training plan, I was supposed to run a 4 mile warm up before the race, then a 5 mile cool down afterward. I talked about my strategy with my co-worker who created my plan. He said that I should try to minimize the breaks between the runs. He also said that, since I was really trying for a PR in the race, I might want to switch it so my warm up is only 3 miles, and the cool down is 6. That sounded good to me. I’d make sure I got 9 miles in outside the race, and anything I couldn’t get to in the warm up, I’d just add to the cool down.

Also, since they mentioned there wouldn’t be a whole lot of parking near the start, I decided I would drive over to Freedom Park and leave my car there. That would be a little over a mile from the start of the race, so I could use that as part of my warm up.

On race morning, I got up, took a shower, ate some peanut butter on whole grain bread and a handful of Goldfish crackers (salt is good when you know you’ll be sweating), drank some water, used the bathroom, and headed out.

I discovered that East Boulevard was already closed near the Greek Orthodox Cathedral at around 6:35, just over an hour before the race. It made sense, since the Starting Line (and Finish Line) were there. I went over one block and made my way toward Freedom Park. Then I realized I was going to need to use the bathroom again. Argh.

I got to Freedom Park and did my business, (While the bathrooms at Freedom Park are nothing to write home about, I suspect they’re a whole lot better than the Port-a-Potties I would have dealt with closer to the starting line.)

By the time I started running my warm up, it was 6:52. This was less than ideal.

I made my way up East Boulevard, and ran down a couple of the side streets. I ended up running down Dilworth Road East and Dilworth Road West, which were part of the course, although I ran them in the opposite direction of the race. As I got closer to the starting line, it was almost 7:20, and I didn’t want to miss the start. So I stopped at the 2.5 mile mark. I could have run a little longer, but I didn’t think I’d get to another milestone in time. Oh well, guess I’d have to run 6.5 miles afterwards.

According to my Garmin, it was 63 degrees when I started my warm up run, and 66 at the start of the race. It was still kind of humid, but definitely cooler than it has been. For August, we really lucked out on the weather.

I made my way over to the starting line, and around 7:25, I took this picture.

2015-08-29 07.24.46

They only decorated the Finish Line side, so this side looks a bit spartan.

Right after I took that picture, they announced that we could start on either side of East Boulevard. I decided to move over to the left side in the hopes I could get slightly closer to the starting line. So I took another picture after I moved.

2015-08-29 07.27.10

There’s a timing mat somewhere up there, trust me.

They let people with strollers start right at 7:30 (something I’ve never seen at a race, but I appreciated it), and then, two minutes later, they gave the signal, and we were off.

The very beginning of the race had a slight downhill. I looked down at my watch and saw that my pace was 7:09. Whoa. Time to slow down a bit.

I eventually settled in at a fast (for me) but more reasonable pace, and finished the first mile in 8:28, which was the fastest mile I had ever run up to that point. (Yes, that’s foreshadowing.)

I hung on during mile 2. I did slow down to a walk for the water stop, which was around the 1.8 mile mark. It’s a good sign that I can’t really tell where it is based on my pace graph. It was still humid, and I had run 2.5 miles before the race, so I figured I needed to make sure I drank the water instead of trying to wear it. Because of the water stop, I finished mile 2 in 9:06. Still, that’s faster than my previous 5K PR pace, so I figured I was in pretty good shape.

I kept going on Mile 3, constantly doing the math in my head. I was thinking I probably had it, but I wouldn’t know for sure until I got to the finish line. It was tough, both physically and mentally, but I didn’t slow down. Mile 3 was 8:36.

The last .13 was slightly uphill. Remember that downhill at the very beginning? Yeah, we had to take it in reverse at the end. Still, I managed to pick up the pace, and I finished this last section at an average pace of 7:43/mile.

My watch said 27:10. The clock had said 27 something. I got my PR. My official time ended up being 27:09.

I couldn’t stick around for very long after the race, since I had another 6.5 miles to run. I grabbed a banana, a bottle of water, and a miniature Clif Bar. They also had some granola bars and bagels. They were giving away small canvas bags to carry your post-race snacks, but considering my car was over a mile away and I wasn’t done running, I passed.

The post-run free beer was Michelob Ultra, not local and not good. Granted, I wouldn’t be able to partake even if they had a good beer available, but I’d still like to see local beers at these races.

They had a booth with a couple of laptops so you could get your results, but the line was really long, and I didn’t really have time to wait. So I left without knowing my exact time, but I did know that I had a PR.

Before I left, I had to take one last picture.

2015-08-29 08.13.57

Yes, that’s a spire from the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in the background. That was semi-planned. I was in a hurry, and planned on taking one shot. It just so happened that I managed to get the spire in my shot.

I found out later that, according to my Garmin, I set a new record for my fastest mile ever, 8:25.4. I suspect that was the last mile, from 2.1 miles to the end. Pretty good considering I had never broken 9 minutes for a mile before.

I’m really happy with my result. I’m not sure I want to do specific training runs before and/or after a race again. It added some stress, and I’m pretty sure I’d enjoy myself more if I didn’t have to worry about the other two runs.

Overall, it’s a good race, and it’s on my radar for next year. And if nothing else, I can say that I got the PR that I wanted.


So, this isn’t my first running blog. I have one that I discontinued. The majority of the posts from there really aren’t that useful to anyone else (But if you really, really want to know how I ran from, say, May 4 to May 10, 2015, let me know and I’ll send you a copy of the post), but I did write up a report from each of the races that I ran, and I’d like to bring those over here.

In a perfect world, I’d either post them in chronological order, or reverse chronological order, or from longest distance to shortest (that way I could post my marathon recap first). But it just so happens that I ran (and recapped) the 2015 Yiassou Greek Festival 5K, and since I’m just a few days away from running the 2016 version, I’m going to start there. I’ll post that report on Thursday or Friday.

I’ll try not to do too much editing, as I’d like to preserve whatever my reactions were just after each race. I’ll fix any typos I find, and I may have to reword some sections where I make reference to prior posts that no longer exist, but otherwise, I’ll leave things alone as much as possible.

I guess I’ll re-post my Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon report next week, and then, we’ll see. I’ll probably shoot for one or two old recaps per week. If I’ve counted right (a dubious proposition at best), there’s a total of 12 recaps for 13 races. (I once did a 10K and a 5K on the same day. It actually went better than expected, although I’m still not sure I want to try that again.) At some point, I’ll also post a write-up of quick summaries of all of the races I ran before I started the old blog.

The Origin Story: How I Lost My Car Key in Ohio

Every hero has an origin story. OK, I’m not a hero (although one time a kid told me I looked like Peter Parker), but I do have a story about why I take a picture with my car key after every race.

In 2011, I was training for the Thunder Road Half Marathon. The race was in November, and for some crazy reason, I decided to go from couch to 13.1 miles. I started training in early July. I joined a small running group and worked through a 19 week training program.

I have a friend named Dann who was getting married on October 8, and before I started training, he had asked me to be in his wedding. I said yes. His fiancee (now wife) Maggie was from Boardman, Ohio, just outside of Youngstown, and most of her family still lived nearby. Dann’s family, on the other hand, was spread out all over the country, and since most of them were going to have to travel anyway, they decided to at least make it easy on Maggie’s family, and have the wedding in Boardman. It was about a 9 hour drive for me including all the stops along the way.

Now, according to my training plan, I was supposed to run 10 miles the weekend of the wedding. Since I had started from nothing, and had little to no margin for error, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to skip any of my long runs. I also thought it would be a bad idea to try to run 10 miles the morning of the wedding. However, I did plan on driving up on Thursday, so that I’d have time to pick up my tux, relax, and go to the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. I decided to go running Friday morning.

I briefly considered doing my 10 miles on a treadmill in the hotel, but I couldn’t imagine being on a treadmill for that long. (The longest I’ve ever run on a treadmill is 8 miles. I only did that once, and if I had gone any longer, I would have lost it and turned into the Hulk, flipping over stationary bikes and elliptical machines.) I did see that there was a park, the appropriately if non-creatively named Boardman Park, just a short drive from the hotel. It was just far enough away (and along a fairly busy street) that I didn’t feel comfortable running from the hotel to the park, so I drove over there. I parked my car, grabbed my phone (I was using an app named Runkeeper to keep track of my distance, pace, and time), my wallet (I know, most people don’t carry their wallet while running, but I try to), and my car key. I left my house key in the glove compartment.

I quickly discovered that Boardman Park is pretty small for a 10 mile run. I did several loops. It was definitely more exciting than a treadmill, but still, even if things hadn’t gone south, I’m not sure I’d recommend going there for a long run. Things were not going well. My pace was slower than usual, I was still pretty tired from the long drive the day before, and I hadn’t really slept all that well in a strange bed. So I already thought it was a pretty crappy run as I finished up the last mile. (And it was. 10.2 miles in 2:27:18, a pace of 14:26/mile. Egads.)

I started walking towards my car. Wallet? Check. Phone? Check. Car key…oh, crap. (A few other four letter words popped into my head, but I’d like to keep this clean.)

I did a quick check near the restroom where I had stopped early in the run, and found nothing. I had made so many loops around the park, mostly running on trails that were already partially covered in fallen leaves, that I realized I had no chance of finding my car key.

500 miles from home, and I’m locked out of my car.

My wallet had a card with the phone number for roadside assistance, so I called for a tow truck (This is where my phone came in handy). I got my car towed to the nearest Volkswagen dealer, which thankfully was really close to the park. The service department looked at it, and apparently, the way my car was set up, they couldn’t make a new key without an old key. Luckily for me, I had a friend with a key to my house, and I knew exactly where I kept my spare car key. Another frantic phone call, and my friend found the key and sent it FedEx overnight to the dealership. The service department was open Saturday, but only until noon. If they couldn’t get the new key made Saturday morning, I’d be stuck in Boardman until Monday.

I rented a car (I’ve never been so nervous about losing the keys to a rental car) and drove back to the hotel to clean up. (I’m sure they enjoyed my post-10 mile run scent at the dealership and the rental car office.) I drove over to pick up my tuxedo. I got to the store around 3. Dann had asked us to try to get there before 2, just in case there were any problems they would have time to fix them. So I was late, but I had a good excuse. Luckily, there were no problems with my tux. I’d also like to point out that I was not the last member of the bridal party to pick up his tux.

The rehearsal and rehearsal dinner were fairly uneventful, outside of the fact that I had to tell my story (up to that point) several times. I was once in a wedding where the groom gave his groomsmen an engraved key chain. I’m very thankful that Dann chose other gifts.

The next day, I got up and, since I had my laptop, went to the FedEx website to track my package. I waited for what seemed like forever, refreshing the page as many times as possible, but somehow managed to not crash the website. Around 9:30, I saw that the package arrived at the dealer. I immediately called the dealer to verify, and they said yes, they got it, and they could get the new key made before noon. I returned my rental car, and walked over to the dealer to wait. I knew that I needed to be in the hotel lobby by 12:15 ready to go to the church. I was still wearing normal clothes, just to add some extra pressure on myself. More waiting. It was after 11. I tried not to pester the guy at the desk too much, but I did check in periodically. Everything seemed to be going OK, but I was still nervous. Finally, around 11:45, it was done, they handed me my brand new (and rather expensive) key, and I drove my car back to the hotel. I got there around 11:55, ran upstairs, got changed into my tux, and got back downstairs at around 12:10. I’d like to point out that I was not the last member of the bridal party to show up in the lobby.

After that, everything went off without a hitch. The ceremony was very nice, and the reception was a blast. It was pretty much what you’d expect from a wedding involving not one, but two Irish Catholic families. (I can say that, I come from an Irish Catholic family too.) Whenever I told my story to someone, I joked that I took all of the bad luck for the weekend so that everything else would go smoothly.

Since then, I’ve been very careful with my car key during my runs. I usually just keep it inside my wallet, which would be much more noticeable if it fell out of my pocket.

After the 2011 Thunder Road Half Marathon, my first race after the incident, I decided to take a picture of me holding my car key.


And a new tradition was born. Ever since then, I’ve taken a picture with my car key every time I finish a race. When I was trying to come up with a name for this site, well, The Key Runner seemed like the obvious choice.

Weekly Wrap-Up: August 15-21

I miss Portland weather.

I’ve got a new pair of shoes on the way. Brooks Adrenaline 16’s, of course. This time, I had to order them, since my current pair of Adrenalines are silver, and since I rotate my shoes, I needed a pair in a different color. Run For Your Life only carries them in one color for my size (10.5 wide), so they ordered me a pair that’s black with lime trim. I can’t say I like the lime trim, but I always say that I’ll run in hot pink and neon orange shoes if they’re comfortable and they keep me from getting hurt.

Weight Check: 162.5, down 3.7 pounds from last week. Uh, wow. I managed to avoid any kind of soda this week, I only had one beer, and I stayed away from junk food. I guess all that paid off. Of course, running in the heat again also helped.

Also, this puts me back in the normal weight range (For a 5′ 8″ adult like me, anything over 164 is overweight.) for the first time since February, and it’s my lowest weight since October 2015.

Of course, now that I’m no longer overweight, the local Publix has decided to start stocking Drake’s. Growing up in the New York City suburbs, we always had various Drake’s cakes, including Ring Dings, Yodels, Devil Dogs, Yankee Doodles, and Coffee Cakes. They’ve never really caught on in North Carolina, though. Every once in a while, I’ve found them, but it’s rare. As much as I wanted to buy up their entire inventory, I limited myself to one box of Yodels. We’ll see how things go.

I’ve got some post-race travel planned for next weekend. I’ll either do my weigh-in pre-race or wait until Monday morning depending on how things go. With the travel, I’ll probably break down at some point and drink some soda, but, as I’ve said before, any ill effects from one bottle of Coke pale in comparison to what could happen if I dozed off behind the wheel.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Tuesday Easy 7.5 7.56
Thursday 3.5 mile warm up, 10 x 20 sec hill sprints with 90 sec recovery, 1.5 mile cool down 6.61
Friday Easy 7 7.01
Saturday 14 Miles LSD 14.01

Total: 35.19 miles

This was the first time since May 30 that I didn’t run on a Monday. Back then, I was still on doctor’s orders to only run every other day. This time, I spent the day on planes.

Tuesday was…interesting. I got chased by a dog, I saw a fellow runner in my neighborhood (which almost never happens), I had to adjust to a time change (I started at 4:10 AM Portland time) and the return of heat and humidity, and I was just generally tired from my trip to Portland. I ended up doing a lot better than I expected.

Thursday was another hill sprint workout. They still suck at any temperature, so I might as well do them when the temperature and humidity both suck. I won’t list all 10 splits. I was a little disappointed by sprint #5, with a pace of 9:28/mile, but after that, I rallied, and my last two intervals were my fastest, with paces of 7:50/mile and 7:30/mile.

Friday was just another hot and humid neighborhood run. I did OK, I guess.

Saturday was my longest run since my marathon. I had planned on getting up at 5:15 AM, but I forgot to change my alarm, and I ended up getting up at 6. I got ready in a hurry, and started running at 7. I’m fairly certain if I had gotten up at 5:15, I would not have started running at 6:15. I probably would have started between 6:30 and 6:45. Still, I wish I had been able to start before 7.

Early on, I felt pretty good. I probably should have slowed down a little bit, because I struggled on the last 4 miles. Pacing is hard. I did manage a little kick at the very end, so there’s that.

Because I had to get ready in a hurry, I forgot band-aids for my nipples, and I forgot Body Glide on my inner thighs. I lucked out, no bloody nipples, no chafing. (Maybe my recent weight loss helped with the chafing.)

Next Week:
Monday: Easy 7
Tuesday: 1.5 mile warm up, 1 mile @ Marathon Pace (11:00/mile), 1 mile @ Threshold (10:30/mile) w/3:00 recovery, 10 x 45-sec. Repeats (9:00/mile?) with 1:30 recovery, 1.5 mile cool down
Thursday: Easy 7
Friday: Easy 3
Saturday: 4 mile warm up, Yiassou Greek Festival 5K, 5 mile cool down*
Sunday: Easy 3?

Rumor has it that it’s going to cool down a little this week. I’ll believe it when I see it. Of course, the heat will return in time for my race next weekend.

I put an asterisk next to Saturday because I’m not sure exactly how things will go before the race. I plan on running a total of 9 miles outside of the race, but the split will depend on how early I get out there and how I feel. Last year, the split ended up being 2.5 before/6.5 after, but I got a late start due to some bathroom issues.

Because of my travel next weekend, I don’t know if I’ll be able to fit in Sunday’s 3 miles. I mentioned it to my co-worker who created my plan, and he said that the 3 miles was mainly to recover from the race. So I might skip it, although I’ll definitely try to go for a walk at some point on Sunday.

Weekly Wrap-Up: August 8-14

I’m actually writing this Tuesday afternoon. I’m back from Portland. I had an amazing time. I miss running there (among other things).

I screwed up my training plan again. Apparently I’m not on call on September 24, the day of my high school reunion. I’m on call the weekend of September 17. So I don’t have to change my work schedule after all. I think I’ve got my training schedule nailed down finally. I swear I didn’t have this much trouble last year when I was using basically the same schedule.

Weight Check: 166.2, down 1.5 pounds from last week. Like I mentioned previously, I waited until Tuesday morning after I got back for my weigh in. I knew I’d be drinking beer in Portland, and probably not eating well. (Yes and yes.) But I got in a few runs, I walked a lot, I even danced (!) a bit. And I did all right. For kicks, I weighed myself before I left, and I was at 166.8, and that was mostly due to my two runs here before I left. Any time I can go out of town and come back lighter is a win.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday Easy 7 7.01
Tuesday 1.5 mile warm up, 1 mile @ TH w/2:00 recovery, 2 miles @ TH w/3:00 recovery, 2 x .5 miles @ TH with 1:00 recovery, 1.5 mile cool down 7.51
Thursday 4-ish miles 5.21
Friday 4-ish miles 2.54*
Saturday 4-ish miles 4.16

Total: 26.43 miles

I don’t remember much about Monday and Tuesday, since they were both before I left for Portland. Luckily, I recorded some comments each day. On Monday, I wrote: “Brutal conditions. I survived, barely. Is it time to go to Portland yet?”

My training plan uses some shorthand to describe the workouts. Normally, before I put a workout in the “Next Week” section of my wrap-up, I re-write it so everyone else will understand it. I forgot to do that last week, so now I need to translate that workout into English. TH is Threshold pace, which right now for me is 10:30/mile. I sometimes question whether some of these complicated workouts should be more simple, but then I remember the guy who created my plan has run the Boston Marathon multiple times, so I defer to him.

My splits on the intervals were 10:09, then 10:19 and 10:13 for the two miles (average 10:16/mile), then a pace of 10:12/mile and 9:45/mile to finish. I’m usually happy when I can get my best pace on the last interval, although I may have paid for that split. My “cool down” (I call B.S., there was nothing cool about that part of the run) was miserable. The only thing that got me through that 1.5 miles was counting down to Portland. “1 mile to Portland Running”, “Half a mile to Portland Running”, “Tenth of a mile to Portland Running!”

“Portland Running” is how I knew my next runs would show up in Garmin Connect, by the way.

Anyway, Thursday was a nice run, although I was expecting to go a little faster. Still, I was happy with the miles, and for the first time in months, I really enjoyed running.

So, Friday. I was at WDS, and every year on Friday morning (or at least the 3 years I’ve been there) they have a 5K Fun Run. It’s a group run, so I basically have to get started when someone says to go. Sadly, my Garmin watch GPS had an epic fail. I power walked for a bit, hoping I could catch the GPS signal, but the tall buildings got in the way. I finally gave up. I waited until we had crossed the first bridge, and then pulled out my phone and started Runkeeper. Also, near the end, I had to stop for a light, and I figured I wasn’t going to get a full 5K anyway, and stopped Runkeeper early. Of course, as I approached the actual finish, people were cheering (of course people were cheering, it’s WDS), so I started running again. With that and the time before I started Runkeeper, I definitely ran farther than 2.54 miles (which is why I marked it with an asterisk), but officially, that’s all I’m going to count.

Sunday there was this huge bike event going on, and the bridges were all closed to traffic. I think I probably could have still run on the sides of the bridges, but I didn’t want to take any chances, so I stayed on one side of the river. I was a little pushed for time, but I managed to squeeze in 4.16 miles. I ran well, and wish I had had the time to run longer. (I don’t remember the last time I wanted a longer run back home.)

I officially ended up with 11.91 miles in Portland. So close to 12. Bummer.

Next Week:
Tuesday: Easy 7.5
Thursday: 3.5 mile warm up, 10 x 20 sec hill sprints with 90 sec recovery, 1.5 mile cool down
Friday: Easy 7
Saturday: 14 miles LSD

One note about this week’s schedule. I split up a week of training into two weeks to work around my time in Portland. However, Tuesday was the one day where I’d be running at home both weeks. I didn’t really want to do the workout twice, but since the total mileage of the workout was 7.5 miles, I decided to turn it into an Easy 7.5 run. (I’ve also completed that run, and it was…quite interesting, mostly in a good way.)

By the way, I really miss the Portland weather.

Weekly Wrap-Up: August 1-7

So far, August hasn’t really been that much better than July, weather-wise. I’m heading out to Portland this week, and I’m really, really, really, really looking forward to running there. Current forecast low temperatures for Thursday, Friday, and Sunday morning (the days I plan on running) in Portland: 59, 60, 59. I don’t remember the last time I ran when it was less than 70 degrees. (Heck, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t run and it got below 70 degrees here.)

I guess I did OK with my running this week, all things considered. I had a little hiccup on Thursday that I had to make up for on Friday, but otherwise, not bad.

I’m going to have to re-work my training plan. My 25th High School Reunion is September 24th. That wouldn’t be a problem, except that weekend I’m supposed to be on call for work, and I adjusted my training plan so I wouldn’t have to try to do a long run while I was on call. Now, I’m going to be on call a different weekend. (No, I’m not going to skip my reunion because of work.) I won’t know until I get back to work and ask around for someone to swap with. Then I can re-work my plan to work around the new weekend I’ll be on call. As a side note, I’m probably more pleased than I should be at the thought of showing up at my reunion and telling people, “I’m training for the New York City Marathon.”

Weight Check: 167.7, down 2.1 pounds from last week. Tuesday was absolutely insane at work, and the rest of the week was no picnic. So I coped by drinking a lot of Mountain Dew. Otherwise, my eating wasn’t too bad. I guess the miles outweighed the soda.

I won’t be drinking nearly as much Mountain Dew once I leave for Portland, although I will be drinking a lot of Portland beer. Oh, they have amazing beer there. I’ll be walking (staggering?) around quite a bit, though, so maybe it’ll even out.

My next weigh-in won’t be until Tuesday the 16th.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday Easy 6 6.01
Tuesday 1.5 mile warm up, 4 x 200M REP w/200M recovery, 4 x 400M REP w/400M recovery, 4 x 200M REP w/200M recovery, 1.5 mile cool down 7.01
Thursday Easy 7 6.01
Friday Easy 5 6.01
Saturday Easy 13 13.11

Total: 38.15 miles

Monday was actually a pretty decent run, and my best average pace for an outdoor run since early July.

Tuesday’s workout would probably been easier logistically if I had a track. Like I mentioned last week, I used .13 miles for 200M, .25 for 400M, and 9:00/mile for my REP pace. Putting 12 splits in here would be more trouble than it’s worth, but I can say that I got under a 9:00/mile pace on every interval, and my last 2 intervals were the fastest ones, with paces of 8:16 and 7:56(!). Also, I meant to mention this last week, but it still applies: Referring to a part of a workout as a “cool down” when it’s over 70 degrees and humid is at best a gross misnomer.

I got a late start Thursday. Whenever I go out for a run where I expect to sweat a lot (Every outdoor run I’ve documented on this site so far has fallen into that category), I put my phone in a Ziploc bag. It’s not completely waterproof (or sweatproof), but it’s better than nothing. I try to re-use the bags, because I’m not using them for food, so it doesn’t need to be sanitary. The bags do take some wear and tear, and apparently, on Thursday morning, the bag I was using gave out, and of course, it was while I was in my kitchen, so my phone fell and hit the tile floor, causing the back to come off and the battery to fall out. So I had to put my phone back together, make sure it still worked (it did), and get a new bag. I didn’t get started until 5:58 AM, and I had wanted to start about 10 minutes earlier. I decided to cut this run back to 6 miles, and bump up Friday’s 5 miler to a 6 miler.

The run itself was pretty meh. Also, it was the first time I used a knuckle light since early March. (I have some lighting issues, I’ll explain some other time.)

That last mile on Friday was the worst. I kept thinking about that stupid Ziploc bag, and how I should be done by now. Still, I survived.

So, Saturday’s run. It was pretty freaking humid. We got a lot of rain late Friday afternoon, and it didn’t actually cool things off, it just made it muggy. I basically stopped to walk every half mile or so, stopped at all the water fountains, ate a Gu around 4.5 miles, another one at around 9, and found just enough energy to speed up at the end, including an extra .11 to make sure I got the half marathon distance. My time was 2:46:42, and I stopped at 13.11 miles. (My goal was to beat my first half marathon time, 2:49:35. Score.) I didn’t feel great by any means, but I felt like it was an OK run.

I found it interesting to go back and check my 13 miler from two weeks ago. That one was 2:46:36, but I stopped right at 13.10. This time, by less than a second, I had a faster average pace. My reaction to the last run was a lot less kind. Maybe I’ve lowered my expectations, or maybe I just did a better job of taking it easy on this run so I didn’t feel completely wiped out (even though this run was about 4 degrees warmer). I don’t know. Running (and my reaction to it) is a strange thing.

Next Week:
Monday: Easy 7
Tuesday: 1.5 mile warm up, 1 mile @ TH w/2:00 recovery, 2 miles @ TH w/3:00 recovery, 2 x .5 miles @ TH with 1:00 recovery, 1.5 mile cool down
Thursday: 4-ish miles
Friday: 4-ish miles
Sunday: 4-ish miles

No changes for next week yet, since I know I won’t be on call next weekend. I’m not going to be able to do long runs while I’m in Portland. So when I put together my training plan, knowing about my trip, I picked 3 days to run, and each day I’m going to try to get in around 4 miles. Maybe I’ll get to 5 miles on one day, maybe it’ll be closer to 3 another day, it just depends. We’ll see how it goes.