Race Report: 2017 Charlotte 10 Miler

Sometimes, it’s a good thing when, for one reason or another, I don’t get my race reports done immediately after the race. Not because I write a better report when I work on it for a few days, but because sometimes I need a few days to figure out exactly how I feel about a race. If I had cranked this out the day after the race, it would be very different.

As a general rule, I try to compare my performance to previous performances. (I certainly don’t want to compare myself to others, considering I finished 83rd out of 99 in my age group.) This time, though, I don’t think comparing this year to last year is a fair comparison. Last year, I ran what was very likely the best race of my life. This year, I ran a solid race, and was still almost 2 minutes faster than two years ago. So I didn’t get a PR, but I’m OK with that.

Let’s take a break from the navel gazing and talk about the race.

First, packet pickup. My biggest complaint the last two years was no Thursday packet pickup, and long lines at Friday packet pickup. Well, they finally fixed it. I couldn’t make it out there, but they had Thursday packet pickup at Charlotte Running Company in Dilworth. Friday was the traditional packet pickup at the South Charlotte location of Charlotte Running Company. The parking still sucked, but there was only one person in front of me at 5:50 PM. I got my bib and my shirt.

They call it a “1/4 zip performance shirt.” OK. I like it, it’s different. It’s gray, and I don’t really have that many gray shirts. Granted, there haven’t been many days this winter where I needed multiple layers, but it’s cool.

They had a lot of safety pins available for the taking, but I probably have more than that in my house, so I declined.

I did something a little unusual after packet pickup. I got together with a bunch of geeks to play board games. Seriously. It’s a group called the Charlotte Geeks, and they have a game night once a month or so. I also grabbed a calzone from a nearby restaurant and a chocolate milkshake from the coffeehouse that was hosting us. Maybe it wasn’t the perfect pre-race evening, but it was fun and I didn’t stay very long. I got home around 9 and got to bed around 10.

I had a mediocre night of sleep for a normal night, but it was decent for the night before a race. I got up, used the bathroom, showered, got dressed, ate two Chocolate Chip Clif Bars, drank some water, used the bathroom again, and left. It takes about 10 minutes to get to the race from my house, and I pulled in to the parking deck behind Earth Fare at around 6:50. It was about 41 degrees and there were just a few clouds. Cool enough that I decided to wear a long sleeve tech tee, but still warm enough for shorts, and I figured with the sun it would warm up a little.

I walked past the Finish Line, and then past the port-a-potties. Judging by the long lines, they probably should have gotten a few more.

This year, both races had the same starting line on Johnston Road, with the 4 Mile runners starting at 7:30, and the 10 Miler runners starting at 7:45.

Once again, I got a picture just before the 4 milers started.

As I write this, I’ve never done a 4 mile race. Their course is basically the last 4 miles of the 10 mile course, which isn’t easy, so they get props for difficulty and for racing a distance that I haven’t.

The announcer said something like “Runners ready” (I can’t remember exactly what he said, and he said the same thing before the 10 Miler), an air horn went off, and the 4 milers were gone. A few minutes later, we took to the street. This year, I remembered to take a picture before the start of my race.

Once again, the announcer said, “Runners ready” or something like it, an air horn, and we were off.

Mile 1: 9:47
Mile 2: 9:12
Mile 3: 9:38

Mile 1 was uphill, Mile 2 was downhill, and Mile 3 was on the greenway, so it was pretty flat. Like last year, the first water stop was right at the start of the greenway around the 1.8 mile mark. Once again, the 2 mile sign was around 1.89 miles according to my Garmin, so apparently they didn’t get any more accurate with the mile markers. To the race organizers’ credit, even if I quibbled with their locations, all of the mile markers were clearly marked.

I felt pretty good at this point, and I knew my times for at least the first two miles were faster than last year.

Mile 4: 9:52
Mile 5: 9:55

We turned off the greenway and into a neighborhood. The neighborhood was hillier than I remember. Also, they moved up the water stop from right at the Mile 4 sign to around the 3.5 mile mark. At this point, I felt like I was putting in an awful lot of effort for a slower pace than I had hoped for. I just felt a little bit off.

Mile 6: 9:33
Mile 7: 9:42

We got back on the greenway, and I did recover a little bit. I knew this stretch of greenway like the back of my hand, and that probably helped.

They moved the next aid station up a little, to around 6.25 miles, so it was before we went under Johnston Road. This year, they offered Gatorade as well as water. Of course, I had just eaten a Gu, so I knew I’d be going with water. And of course, I was on the right side of the course, but the water was on the left. Annoying, but it didn’t affect my time too much.

Mile 8: 9:53

This mile covered the end of the greenway portion, the last water stop around 7.75 miles (with a Hawaiian theme this year), and a slight climb along Elm Lane. Between the water, the climb, and the general feeling of being a little bit off, I slowed down a little.

Mile 9: 9:55

Yes, this is the mile with the really big hill. Once again, I managed to get all the way up the hill without walking, but I was definitely slower than last year.

Last 0.99: 8:59 (9:05/mile pace)

Considering that last year I measured 9.95 miles, a total of 9.99 miles is an improvement. Of course, there were no changes to the course, so either my Garmin got more accurate, or I got worse at running the tangents. But that’s not the most notable thing about this stretch.

So after we got to the top of the hill, near the Mile 9 marker, we turned right, and we got on this street that is straight and flat. (It’s actually net downhill, but it’s so gradual you don’t really notice.) Last year, I hit this stretch, took off, and ran what is still my fastest mile ever. This year, right around the 9.2 mile mark, I got a side stitch. I couldn’t believe it. Not only has that never happened to me before in a race, I’m not sure it’s ever happened while I was running.

I slowed down and walked for about 10 seconds while applying pressure. That seemed to fix it, and I was able to start running again. In spite of the break, I still finished with a faster pace for this “mile” than any of the previous ones. I was pretty annoyed though, that after running up this enormous hill without stopping to walk, I had to walk on the flat part of the course.

Anyway, I crossed the finish line, they announced my name, and I went off in search of post-race food and drink.

First, I got a cup of water right after the finish. Then I found Good Bottle Company, who decided to bring some local beer from Sycamore Brewing. They had an IPA, a blonde, and a lager. I went with a Sun Grown Lager. For a lager, it was pretty solid, and obviously, much better than Michelob Ultra.

(Fun fact: This is only the 3rd race I’ve run that offered a local beer afterward. The others were the 2014 OrthoCarolina 10K which had beer from NoDa Brewing but after a killer course, 76 degrees, and 8000% humidity, I was in no condition for beer, and the 2015 Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon which had beer from Lonerider Brewing, and I had a Shotgun Betty Hefeweizen, a beer I love under normal circumstances, so that particular post-race beer has a very strong case for Best Beer I’ve Ever Had.)

They also had a deal where you could pay $10 and get a post-race mimosa in a champagne flute with the race logo. I decided to pass. I have no use for a champagne flute. Also, I like my orange juice straight.

I finished drinking my beer while I waited in line for breakfast. Once again, Big View Diner brought pancakes and sausage. Aww, yeah. It’s still the best post-race food I’ve ever had. They also had bananas and bagels cut in quarters, so I grabbed one of each. I washed it all down with some orange juice, straight, from Natalie’s Juices.

I then found my co-worker who developed my training plans and serves as my unofficial coach. He and his wife both ran the race. I hung out with them for a bit while I recovered.

My car key made it to the finish line, so I stood in front of a brick structure in the parking lot where there’s an ATM and took my post-race picture.

I held the phone a little farther away than normal when I took the picture, but I kind of like it, although if I had realized I was going to do that, I could have held the medal and key a little lower. You’d think I would be an expert at these pictures by now. I guess not. You can actually see my Garmin in this picture, which is kind of cool. Also, it’s hard to see it in this picture, but the tree in the middle of the medal spins. It’s not quite as cool as the spinning acorn on my City of Oaks Marathon medal, but it’s still pretty nice for a 10 mile race.

So, my performance. It’s kind of frustrating that I can’t pin down one thing that caused me to not run the best race I think I’m capable of. (Unlike some other races where I know exactly what went wrong, like my ankle blowing up after 9.5 miles, or the terrible, no good, very bad decision to run up the 59th Street Bleeping Bridge.) It makes it tough to write a recap. (Not that writing is ever easy for me.) After a lot of thought (possibly too much thought), I guess the bottom line here is that I ran a good race when I know I wasn’t quite 100%. I have to remind myself that not every race is going to be a PR. All I can do is go out there, do what I can with whatever hand I’m dealt, and try to enjoy it.

Vital Stats

Full Name of Race: Charlotte 10 Miler and 4 Mile Run
Location: Johnston Road near North Community House Road, Charlotte, NC
Date and Time of Race: February 14, 2017, 7:45 AM
Bib Number: 1290
Official Finishing Time: 1:36:24.0 chip time(9:38/mile), 1:36:38.5 gun time. 646th of 1134 Overall, 388th of 503 Men, 83rd of 99 in Age Group (Male 40-44)

Weekly Wrap-Up: February 20-26

Yeah, I don’t have my Race Report for the Charlotte 10 Miler done yet. Some race reports are harder to write than others. I need to get it done soon, because I’ll have to post something on Thursday, March 2. That’s the drawing for the 2017 New York City Marathon. Whether I get in or not, I’m going to write about it.

Running-wise, it was an OK week. I hit my mileage goal. My long run was a bit warmer than I expected, but I survived.

Weight Check: 165.6, down 1.3 pounds from last week. I really need to stop getting on the scale every single day. My weight was creeping up throughout the week, which was really frustrating, because even though it wasn’t a great week for my eating and drinking, I felt like it wasn’t bad enough to warrant the gains that I was showing. I even very briefly saw 170(!), which is not cool. I guess my long run made a big difference, but I really don’t think I should be counting on my long run to bail me out. Still, I can’t complain too much about the final result. I’d like to see it go down by another 2 or so pounds, though. And watching the scale every day is just causing unnecessary stress, so I need to stop that.

This Week’s Runs
Day Total Miles
Monday 6.01
Tuesday 5.51
Wednesday 5.01
Thursday 5.51
Saturday 11.01

Total: 33.05 miles

I hit all my mileage targets, so there’s that.

Monday went better than I expected. I didn’t feel terrible two days after a race.

Tuesday started out a little slower than I’d like. Maybe I was finally feeling the effects of the race? Well, I got over it pretty quickly when I spotted another runner in my neighborhood, and I sped up to try to stay ahead of her. At one point, I was turning around when she was going straight, and she had completely caught up to me, closing a gap of at least a tenth of a mile. So, yeah, she’s pretty fast and I shouldn’t be racing her on my supposedly easy runs. My legs generally felt OK, though.

Wednesday I did my weekly treadmill run. It’s still mentally excruciating, but at least this week, I could go back to running about as fast as I could and I got it over with sooner. My legs felt pretty good even if my mind didn’t.

Friday was another trip around the relatively flat parts of my neighborhood. For some reason, I sped up on Mile 2 a little more than I was planning. but otherwise, it went pretty well.

Saturday was a lot warmer than I expected. It was about 62 degrees at the start, and felt a little bit humid. I really wish they didn’t shut off the water fountains in Freedom Park for winter, or as I like to call it this year, “winter.” I found one working water fountain just off of the greenway closer to downtown (I’m afraid if I say exactly where, somebody will go shut it down), and I slowed down a bit, which I probably should be doing anyway for a long run. I survived.

This week, I’m going to try ramping up the mileage just a little bit more, with a 7 miler, two 6 milers, the usual 5 mile treadmill run, and a 12 mile long run next Saturday. While the New York City drawing may be on Thursday, no matter how it goes I need to focus on the Tobacco Road Half on March 19. And yes, I’ll finally post a full report for the Charlotte 10 Miler.

Weekly Wrap-Up: February 13-19

The Charlotte 10 Miler is done. If I compare it to last year, I didn’t run as well. But last year I basically ran the best race of my life. Considering that, for whatever reason, I didn’t quite feel 100% during the race, I still ran pretty well. I’m still not sure what was wrong, but I’m leaning towards me just having an off day. It happens, but when an off day and a race day happen on the same day, it’s disappointing. Still, it’s a pretty mild disappointment, more like “OK, let’s get back out there and do better” than “I want to take all of my running gear, put it in a large pile, and kill it with fire.” I’ll publish my race report in the next couple of days.

When I went to update my sidebar to move the Charlotte 10 Miler to Last Race, I realized that when I had it listed under Next Race, I had the date listed as February 14. Oops. No, it wasn’t on Tuesday. My new Next Race, the Tobacco Road Half (more on that later), really is on March 19.

One more thing, I had to go back and add a note to my race report for the Charlotte Southpark Turkey Trot. I had said that I was surprised that my co-worker’s wife had won her age group, but I wanted to clarify that the surprise was that she ran the race, since my co-worker hadn’t mentioned it, not that she won her age group. She’s really fast, so I would never be surprised if she places in her age group.

Weight Check: 166.9, down exactly 1 pound from last week. I can’t say I really did anything better this week than last week. Losing a pound beats the alternative, but I really need to buckle down some more. There’s still too much Mountain Dew in my life. There was a lot of stress at work this past week, though, so I guess I could have done worse.

I forgot to mention last week that I got my annual two boxes of Tagalongs. So far, I’ve managed to limit myself to one per day. So there’s that.

This Week’s Runs
Day Total Miles
Monday 6.01
Tuesday 5.01
Wednesday 5.01
Thursday 4.01
Saturday 10.0 (Charlotte 10 Miler)

Total: 30.04 miles

I wanted to add an extra mile on Monday so I could do a shorter run closer to race day, and I succeeded. My legs weren’t excited to climb the really big hill in my neighborhood (I wanted to tell them, “Wait till you see Mile 9 of the Charlotte 10 Miler”), but otherwise, I ran pretty well with a strong finish.

Tuesday I wore my new Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17s for the first time. My legs felt kind of meh, although I don’t think it was because of the shoes. I survived.

Wednesday was my weekly treadmill run. I went a little more slowly than usual, which was more mentally excruciating than usual. Still, my legs felt better, which is generally the reason I try to get on the treadmill. (Also, it gives me time to catch up on podcasts.)

As much as I wanted to stay out with my friends Wednesday night, I went home early so I could get up and run Thursday morning. My legs felt good, and I even ran the last mile at a 9:33/mile pace, which is pretty good for me.

Saturday was the race. Like I said, I’ve got a full race report coming, but my time was 1:36:24.0. (Yes, they used tenths of a second, but I happened to finish with an even number of seconds.)

Next week, besides writing my race report for the Charlotte 10 Miler, it’s time to start getting ready for the Tobacco Road Half, one month from today. I can’t tell you how much I want to get a PR, although after last year’s race, I’d also be happy if my ankle didn’t blow up after 9.5 miles. My legs feel OK the day after my last race, but Monday will be the real test. I want to get back up to 33 miles for the week, with an 11 mile long run. We’ll see how it goes.

Weekly Wrap-Up: February 6-12

Crazy temperatures this week. I still ran fairly well.

I retired my 2nd pair of Adrenaline 16s. I only wore them in one race, but that race was somewhat significant. (Understatement.) They were a good pair of shoes. I didn’t like the black with yellow trim at first, but it grew on me. I’ve got one more pair of 16s left, and next week I’ll start wearing my first pair of 17s.

Weight Check: 167.9, up 3.7 pounds from last week. Yikes. I started the week Sunday evening watching the Super Bowl. I still don’t want to talk about the game itself, but I do need to mention that during the game, I ate like a pig. I closed out the week at a friend’s birthday party, which was a lot of fun, but I did way too much grazing. In between, I went out several times, drinking beer each night, and oh yeah, at work I drank too much Mountain Dew. It was a pretty terrible week for my diet. I hope I can do better this week.

This Week’s Runs
Day Total Miles
Monday 6.01
Tuesday 5.51
Wednesday 5.01
Friday 5.52
Saturday 11.01

Total: 33.06 miles

Monday was kind of cold, 34 degrees. My legs felt fine. I tackled the big hill in my neighborhood. Somehow, I managed to do a reverse split for the whole thing. It wasn’t intentional, but I’ll take it.

Tuesday was 52 degrees, so it was pretty nice. It was uneventful, which isn’t necessarily bad, and my legs felt fine.

Wednesday was 72 degrees and mentally excruciating, because I went inside for the treadmill. It was actually really foggy outside. I ran well. My legs felt fine, but my mind did not feel fine.

I was expecting Friday to be even colder than it was, but 29 degrees is still pretty cold. Again, my legs felt fine, although it’s possible that they were just numb.

Saturday was my longest long run since New York City. It was also my last run in my 2nd pair of Adrenaline 16s, which, as I alluded to earlier, are the shoes I wore in NYC. There was a 5K going on near Freedom Park, which made getting there and finding parking a little tricky, but I managed, and once I got on the greenway, I was OK. It was around 50 degrees, and warmed up during my run, but it wasn’t humid at all, so I was OK. It would have been nice if some more of the water fountains were working, but I survived. I ran pretty well, and once again, my legs felt fine. I was even able to get a 9:12 on the last mile of the run, so there’s that.

Overall, I was pleased with my mileage this week. I was hoping I’d be able to get in an 11 mile run the week before a 10 mile race, and I succeeded. My legs seem to be pretty well rested, so I guess as long as I don’t go nuts this week, I’ll be ready for the Charlotte 10 Miler next Saturday.

This week, I hope to get in around 20 miles before my race. I’ll try to front-load my mileage (6 miles is a very good bet for Monday). I’m still not sure if I want to run Thursday or Friday. Schedule-wise, a Thursday rest day would work better, but I’m not sure I want to run the day before the race. We’ll see how it goes.

So, yeah, I have a race next weekend. This is where I’ll find out how my slow easy run/fast workout run routine affects my race performance. I’ve been doing it for about a month and a half. I’ve noticed my runs are very slowly getting a little bit faster. And I’ve definitely noticed that my legs aren’t tired and don’t feel beat up.

Still, last year’s Charlotte 10 Miler is the best race I’ve ever run, so comparing this year’s race to last year might not be a fair comparison. Well, all I can do is give this race everything I’ve got, and see what happens.

Weekly Wrap-Up: January 30-February 5

On Thursday, I went to Run For Your Life after work to buy a new pair of shoes (more on them later), and it was pretty busy, partly because they had a group run that was getting ready to head out, and also because they had packet pickup for a race on Saturday, the 49er Gold Rush 5K. I looked up the race when I got home, and the 2016 version had 561 finishers, so it’s not a huge race, but they still had Thursday packet pickup. I was all set to type up another rant about the Charlotte 10 Miler not having Thursday packet pickup when I went to their website and got some news: They’ve added Thursday packet pickup. It’s about time. I don’t know for sure that I’ll be able to make it out there on Thursday, but at the very least, some people will, and Friday will be slightly less crowded.

Yeah, I kind of buried the lede in there, but I bought a new pair of shoes. I went with Brooks Adrenaline 17s. My last new pair was a pair of Adrenaline 16s on clearance, so it was time to try out the 17s. OK, I haven’t run in them yet, my current oldest shoes still have another 20 miles left in them, but trying them on, they felt good. They look OK, I guess. I think I prefer the look of the 16s, but I’ve always said that as long as they can keep my feet and legs from hurting, I don’t care if they look like clown shoes.

The actual running this week went fairly well, and while I didn’t quite get the mileage I had hoped for, I still got more than the previous week.

Weight Check: 164.2, down exactly 2 pounds from last week. OK, that’s better. I’m not sure I really earned a 2 pound loss, but I’ll take it. I didn’t really cut back on the Mountain Dew, didn’t drink much water, and ate a bit of junk food, too. Some weeks I can get away with that, but I really shouldn’t press my luck.

This Week’s Runs
Day Total Miles
Monday 5.51
Tuesday 5.26
Wednesday 5.01
Friday 5.41
Saturday 10.51

Total: 31.70 miles

Monday I got started a little later than I had wanted to, so I didn’t have time for a full 6 miles. My legs didn’t feel great when I was going up the really big hill in my neighborhood, but they felt fine the rest of the time.

Tuesday was also a slightly later start than I’d hoped. I still managed to squeeze in 5.26 miles, and my legs felt fine the whole time.

Wednesday was my weekly trip to the Y. Even on February 1, they still had the “Happy New Year! Please observe the 30 minute rule on cardio machines” sign. The treadmills were pretty empty, but after I finished and walked around trying to cool off, I noticed that all but one of the elliptical machines were being used, so I guess that’s where all the people who made New Years Resolutions are now. The treadmill is still mentally excruciating, but I ran well, and my legs felt fine.

Friday went pretty well. I may have run a little fast (for me) for an easy run, but it wasn’t ludicrous speed.

Saturday I finally made it back to Freedom Park for the first time since New Year’s Day. For some reason, the tunnel under East Boulevard was flooded, but nothing else was. Crossing East Boulevard is no fun, but I was able to get back on the greenway near the hospital, and there were no flooding issues the rest of the way. It was a lot colder than I’m used to at the beginning, around 27 degrees, but the sun was out so it warmed up a little bit. I ran pretty well, and sped up at the very end. Also, this ended up being my longest run since the New York City Marathon, and I need to work on that.

Next week will be busy, but hopefully I can not only stay on schedule, but maybe even add a couple more miles so I can run 11 miles next Saturday. We’ll see how it goes.

Monthly Wrap-Up: January 2017

I decided to try doing a post about my previous month of running. Monthly Wrap-Up lacks the alliteration of Weekly Wrap-Up, but it’ll do.

I’ll start out by reviewing my goals and my progress towards them. As an added bonus, since my first goal is mileage for the year, it’s a good place to mention my mileage for the month.

Goal 1: 1500 miles

Total on January 31: 127.77 miles (23 days of running, 24 runs – I count my 1.01 mile pre-race warm-up as a separate run).

When calculating my projected mileage for the year, my first thought was to multiply my total by 12, which would give me 1533.24 miles for the year. Excellent! The only catch is that January has 31 days, but there’s 6 months with fewer than 31 days. So a more accurate way to make a projection would be to calculate my average number of miles per day and multiply by 365. I ended up with an average of just over 4.12 miles per day, which comes out to 1504.38 miles. OK, that’s cutting it close. I do think I can do better than 127 miles per month. (I’ll have to do better than that if I get into the NYC Marathon.)

Goal 2: 6 races, with 2 that are 13.1 or greater

I ran the Joe Davis Run For Recovery 10K, which counts as the first of the 6 races, but it wasn’t 13.1 miles, so I still need 2 of those. I’m registered for the Tobacco Road Half in March, then I’ll get the other long race in the fall, either in NYC or a half marathon somewhere else. So I’d say I’m on track.

Goal 3: A PR in 3 different races

I got a PR in the Joe Davis 10K. Woohoo! Just two more PRs to go.

For the non-specific goals, I’ve done well with getting other exercise, doing a bodyweight routine on almost all of my rest days, and I’ve done well with the slower easy runs and faster workout runs. I haven’t done well with the better eating, less Mountain Dew, or working on this blog.

Best Run: January 14, Joe Davis 10K, 57:04.2 (9:11/mile pace)

A 10K PR is pretty much going to be a shoo-in for best run of the month, unless I somehow manage to get another more impressive PR, but this was my only race this month. Also, all of my workout runs except the very first one were done on a treadmill, and I would hate to have to call a treadmill run my best run of the month.

Worst Run: January 17, 4.06 miles, 11:40/mile pace

I felt terrible on this run, and I think the race – and the 9.12(!) miles I ran on January 16 – caught up to me. It happens. I recovered pretty well, though.

Overall, it was a pretty good start to 2017. I stayed healthy, and if nothing else, the slower training runs helped keep my legs from feeling beat up all the time, and that’s a good thing. Mountain Dew continues to be my weakness, but I’ve managed not to gain too much weight because of it.

For February, I’ve got the Charlotte 10 Miler. I may have trouble getting to 127.77 miles again, just because I’ll have 3 fewer days to do it, but I have managed to slowly increase my weekly mileage recently, so hopefully I can make up for it. I’m really curious to see how well my slower paced easy runs will work when I run my race. I’m not sure what (if any) affect they had on the Joe Davis 10K. I know I PRed, but I hadn’t been doing the slower easy runs for very long, so other than going into the race with rested legs (which I could have accomplished with a taper), I don’t think it affected my performance. The Charlotte 10 Miler will be after a month and a half of the new strategy, so I’m really curious to see how it goes. Of course, I had quite possibly the best race of my life at last year’s Charlotte 10 Miler, so it’ll be a tough act to follow. We’ll see.