Weekly Wrap-Up: April 24-30

Mother Nature decided to make things as difficult as possible this week. She succeeded.

Weight Check: 164.0, down 1.5 pounds from last week. I’ll take it. I still drank lots of Mountain Dew, but I managed to eat OK. Of course, my Saturday run is partly responsible for my weight loss, but more on that later.

This Week’s Runs
Day Total Miles
Monday 5.01
Tuesday 6.21
Wednesday 5.01
Friday 6.21
Saturday 11.02

Total: 33.46 miles

Monday we were getting slammed with rain, and I wimped out and went with the treadmill. When it’s not a tempo run, I end up on there longer than usual, so it’s even more mentally excruciating than usual.

Tuesday I made it outside. It had stopped raining, but it was still wet and it was tough to see the puddles at the very beginning in the dark. My legs felt OK except when I was going uphill.

Wednesday was back on the treadmill. I had podcasts to listen to, and it’s easier to really do a tempo run on the treadmill. I started at 10:43/mile, bumped it up to 9:31/mile at 1, then 9:22/mile at 2.8ish, then 9:14/mile for the last half mile or so. My legs felt fine, my mind did not feel fine.

On Friday, the conditions were miserable, 70 degrees and humid. My legs were OK, I guess. I survived.

Saturday was pretty much the same conditions, just one degree warmer. The combination of the heat and humidity, plus the 6.2 the day before, made for a really miserable 11 miles. Somehow, I got through it, but there was definitely some walking.

I did end up with slightly higher mileage than the previous week, and more miles in April than in March, so there’s that.

Next week, more of the same. It’s my last full training week before the Teal Diva 5K. I’d like to add a couple more miles during the week, although I’ll probably just stick with another 11 mile long run. And this month I have no excuse for a delay for my Monthly Wrap-Up for April.

Weekly Wrap-Up: April 17-23

My plans pretty much went out the window this week. Granted, it wasn’t bad, we just decided at the last minute to celebrate Mom’s birthday on Saturday night. It made for an interesting running schedule.

Weight Check: 165.5, up exactly 1 pound since last week. Once again, I had to do a Saturday morning weigh-in. It wasn’t a great week of eating, partly due to my (first) trip to see my parents last weekend. And yes, I still drank too much Mountain Dew. I guess it could have been worse, but I don’t like seeing my weight that high, so hopefully I can buckle down a bit this week. (Of course, my second trip to see my parents also involved a good bit of eating, so I’m not feeling great about next week’s weigh-in.)

This Week’s Runs
Day Total Miles
Monday 5.11
Tuesday 6.01
Wednesday 5.01
Friday 8.51
Saturday 8.52

Total: 33.16 miles

I was still at my parents’ house on Monday. I didn’t want to drive home Sunday night on Easter, so I stuck around. Originally, I had considered waiting until Monday evening and going to Heist Brewery to run, but there were thunderstorms in the forecast. Of course, as it turned out, we didn’t get any thunderstorms, but I did my run that morning in Greensboro before I drove home. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love my parents dearly, but I don’t love running in their neighborhood. It wasn’t quite as humid as I expected, and my legs felt pretty good, so I was able to finish strong.

Tuesday was warm and humid. Other than the really big hill in my neighborhood, my legs felt OK. Again, a nice strong finish.

Wednesday, of course, was the day where I punish my mind, treadmill day. As usual, my legs were fine, even if my brain was screaming in anguish.

So, Thursday was my rest day. I knew that I’d be going to the March For Science on Saturday at 10 AM. I figured I wouldn’t have time for a long run before that, and thought I’d be better off pushing my long run back to Sunday. Well, the forecast for Sunday morning wasn’t looking so great, with possible thunderstorms. I started thinking about possibly splitting my miles more evenly between Friday and Saturday. Then Thursday night, I found out about my Mom’s birthday dinner Saturday night. I definitely didn’t want to attempt a long run in my parents’ neighborhood.

I wanted to get around 17 miles total for the rest of the week. In a normal week, I would have done 6 miles, then 11. Instead, I ended up with 8.5 each day.

Friday was warm and humid, and in my neighborhood, 8.5 miles is a lot. My legs didn’t like the really big hill. I survived.

Saturday was more of the same, except this time, I wasn’t coming off a rest day. While it wasn’t as bad as the treadmill, running almost exactly the same 8.5 mile route through my neighborhood isn’t much fun. I survived and added an extra hundredth of a mile, just so this run would officially be my long run.

So here’s how my Saturday ended up. I ran 8.5 miles, went to the March For Science, where I walked from the light rail station to Marshall Park, stood around for two hours (the speakers were good, though), did the actual march (we basically walked around two blocks), walked back to the light rail, went home, cleaned up, drove up to Greensboro, went out to eat with my parents (Mmm…seafood.), then watched the Rangers beat the Canadiens to move on to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Let’s Go Rangers!) That’s a pretty full day.

Sunday was a rest day. I earned it. I even pushed this post back a day. I’m feeling better now, though.

This week, well, I’ve already done a treadmill run, because the rain has been completely insane, and it chased me inside. I’m hoping to get around 33 miles this week with an actual 11 mile long run. We’ll see how it goes.

Weekly Wrap-Up: April 10-16

I’m posting this on the day of the Boston Marathon, so I feel obligated to mention that. I know that my co-worker/marathon training plan creator/unofficial coach finished. He had been injured and didn’t train as much as he had hoped, and when I talked to him last week, he was actually kind of unsure whether he’d finish. I think his time was a little slower than he would have liked, but he did finish almost 90 minutes faster than my marathon PR, so there’s that.

As for me, I managed to increase my mileage while (for the most part) slowing the bleep down.

Weight Check: 164.5, up 1.2 pounds since last week. This was kind of a perfect storm. I had to do my weigh-in on Saturday morning due to travel, and before my long run, but after a party on Friday night. Over the course of the week, my weight stayed fairly steady, and I suspect it would have come back down at least a little bit Sunday morning. I still drank too much Mountain Dew, but the rest of the week wasn’t too bad. Even at the party, I did better than I have in the past. So I guess it could be a whole lot worse.

This Week’s Runs
Day Total Miles
Monday 6.21
Tuesday 5.61
Wednesday 5.01
Thursday 6.01
Saturday 10.01

Total: 32.85 miles

Monday my legs didn’t feel great, which may have been the result of me running in the previous week just a little faster than I should have. Still, I finished strong, and overall, it was a decent run.

Tuesday my legs still felt a little tired, but I took it easy until the end, then finished strong. So I’d say it was a good run.

Wednesday I gave my legs a break, but not my mind, and did my weekly brain punishment treadmill run. My legs were OK. I gradually sped up over the course of the run, so it went pretty well.

Friday my legs felt better. I guess the combo of a treadmill day and a rest day helped. Not a bad run.

Saturday was the one run where I may have gone a little too fast at times. I was planning on driving up to see my parents after my run, so I guess I subconsciously wanted to finish my run a little sooner. Also, it started to get a little warm near the end of the run. I still finished strong.

If I was just going by how many miles I did the rest of the week, and used the 2:1 ratio of weekday miles to long run miles, I could have handled an 11 mile long run, but I figured I’d be better off staying at 10 miles.

So, overall, I’m pretty happy with how the week went. I had my slowest average pace in a week since the week after the Charlotte 10 Miler. This time, I wasn’t recovering from race, I was just trying to give my legs a little bit of a break, and I think it worked.

Next week, I’m attending the Charlotte March For Science on Saturday, so I’ll have to push my long run back to Sunday. Other than that (and doing my Monday run at my parents’ house, which I’ll say more about next week), it should be a pretty normal week. (Well, normal if you think running 30+ miles in a week is normal.)

Monthly Wrap-Up: March 2017

It was a good month.

March 2017
Total Mileage: 140.11 miles
Average Pace: 10:36/mile
Number of Runs: 22
Last Month (February 2017): 130.10 miles
Last Year (March 2016): 49.95 miles
Races: 2017 Tobacco Road Half Marathon, March 19, 2:08:01.250 (PR)

Total Mileage for 2017 (through March 31): 397.98

If I had known that, I would have added an extra .02 to my last run of the month. Anyway, last March is really low because that’s when I hurt my ankle, and due to the slow recovery, my monthly totals from last year are going to be pretty low until July, but I’ll go for consistency and keep them in there.

It seems so long ago, but on March 3, I found out I got in to the 2017 New York City Marathon. I also hit a major milestone in my running career, 5000 miles.

Like I said, it was a good month. Let’s check in on my goals.

Goal 1: 1500 miles

Average miles per day would be 397.98 miles divided by 90 days, that’s about 4.42 miles per day, times 365 days for the year, comes out to over 1614 miles for the year. Wow.

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

I ran the Tobacco Road Half, which counts as race #3 out of 6, and the first that’s 13.1 or greater. I also signed up for the Teal Diva 5K, so that will be race #4. My plan is to do another warm-up 5K during marathon training, then the New York City Marathon on November 5. That would meet the goal.

Goal 3: A PR in 3 different races

I did get my PR in the Tobacco Road Half Marathon, so along with the Joe Davis 10K, I have 2 PRs this year. I just need one more, and I’ve got 3 races to do it. I’d really like to change the header banner again.

The non-specific goals? Pretty much the same as last month. I did miss doing my bodyweight routine the day after my race, but I was also at my parents’ house so my routine wasn’t normal. I think I got it done on every other rest day, though. Unless you count the days when I had a cold and wasn’t eating much of anything, I can’t say I ate any better this month. I’m still drinking too much Mountain Dew. Progress on the blog? Not unless you count updating the header image with a picture from Tobacco Road and a post about hitting 5000 miles.

Best Run: March 19, Tobacco Road Half, 2:08:01.250 (9:46/mile)

Of course. A half marathon PR will always win. (In theory, a full marathon PR would be better, but I don’t see me ever running both a half and a full in the same month, let alone PRing both.)

I do need to give a shout out to my March 25 run of 10.01 miles, because I hit 5000 miles at the 9.9 mile mark.

I should note that I had a couple of treadmill runs that were at a faster pace than Tobacco Road, but you’ll probably never see me declare a treadmill run as my best run of the month. Besides, come on, a treadmill run over a half marathon PR? No way.

Worst Run: March 28, 5.31 miles, 11:33/mile pace

It happened to be my slowest run of the month, but even if it was a second or two faster that one of my other runs, the conditions (59 degrees and humid) give this one the edge. It was pretty freaking miserable out there. Of course, I’d better get used to that. By August, I’d probably kill for just 59 and humid.

I’m pretty sure there’s no way April will be able to top March. I might be able to run a few more miles (it does have 5 Saturdays), but I won’t get into my favorite race, get a PR, or hit a milestone. I guess I’ll just be in base building mode. Also, with no race scheduled for April, I have no idea what I’ll do about the Best Run in next month’s wrap-up. I’ll figure something out.

Weekly Wrap-Up: April 3-9

It took longer than I expected to finish up my Tobacco Road Race Report. Once I finally posted it on Friday, I figured I could post my March Monthly Wrap-Up on Saturday, and then I’d be all caught up. This morning I realized that I had totally forgotten to post the March wrap-up. D’oh! So I figured since the monthly wrap-up is already late, I’d at least get the weekly wrap-up posted on time, and then maybe get the monthly wrap-up posted on Monday.

The funny thing is that I wrote the whole thing before I finished my race report. The only reason I didn’t post it is because I wanted to link to my Tobacco Road race report.

Well, I don’t have any races planned for April, so if my next monthly wrap-up is late, it won’t be because of an overdue race report.

As far as running goes this week, I think I probably ran too fast. Or, more accurately, I didn’t do enough slower running. But I did get to drink beer after one of my runs, so there’s that.

Weight Check: 163.3 pounds, down 0.5 from last week. I’ll take it. As usual, I drank too much Mountain Dew. (Work can be difficult, that’s how I cope.) Otherwise, I guess I ate pretty well.

This Week’s Runs
Day Total Miles
Monday 6.02
Tuesday 5.51
Wednesday 5.01
Thursday 4.21
Saturday 10.31

Total: 31.06 miles

Monday I went a hair over my planned mileage because I wasn’t quite at my house and was trying to decide if I wanted to run the rest of the way or not. The problem with having just over 6 miles is that I’m tempted to make it a 10K, and I really didn’t have time for that. It’s funny, a 5.1 or 7.1 mile run doesn’t bother me, but a 6.1 mile run would, because it’s so close to 10K. Also, the conditions sucked, warm and kind of humid, and my legs felt pretty crappy. Somehow, I managed a reverse split. (In hindsight, that may not have been a great idea.)

Tuesday was warmer than Monday, but my legs felt slightly better, and I also avoided the neighborhood hills for the most part. I again managed a reverse split, and again, I’m not sure that was a good thing to do.

Wednesday was my weekly treadmill run, because obviously my mind needed some punishment. My legs felt fine, though. I did take it sort of easy this week, since at this point I was fairly certain I’d be joining the Triple C Beer Runners on Thursday night, and that would be my tempo run this week. I did gradually speed up while I was on the treadmill.

Thursday, for the first time in a long time, I made it out to Triple C Brewing for their weekly run. I knew I’d have to start fast, just to keep up with the crowd to get through the first major intersection with them. Also, it wasn’t that hot, but it was really windy, so that was annoying. I had wanted to get in a little over 4 miles. Right around the 3 mile mark, my co-worker caught up to me, and we ran the rest of the way. His easy pace is my tempo pace. Still, I survived, and afterwards, I was rewarded with beer. I was disappointed that they were out of their Smoked Amber, which would have been good in that weather, so I settled for a Golden Boy, which isn’t terrible, but tastes the same as pretty much every other blonde ale I’ve tried. Then again, it was a post-run beer, and that makes it better.

After a rare Friday rest day, I drove up to Freedom Park Saturday morning for my long run. It was kind of chilly, about 39 degrees when I started. I think I should have slowed down a bit, but my legs felt good the whole time, and I finished really strong.

Today, my legs are sore, and I think it’s because I didn’t have any really easy runs all week. Thursday’s run wasn’t supposed to be easy, that one’s not an issue. It’s the other 4 runs. If I went a little overboard on one of them, I can accept that, but one way or another I feel like all 4 should have been at least a little bit slower.

Next week, not only do I need to slow the bleep down, I need to fit my runs into my schedule. I’m on call for work during the week, then I’m going to drive to visit my parents on Saturday. So next week’s wrap-up might be late.

Race Report: 2017 Tobacco Road Half Marathon

This race was simple. I had two goals. First, finish with two fully functioning ankles. Second, get a PR. I suppose I have those goals for all of my races. (The first one is usually an unspoken goal.) And while I wouldn’t really call it a goal, I went into this race looking for redemption.

So, yeah, I’m going to be talking about last year’s race quite a bit. If you don’t want to read the race report, the short version is that, after a few weeks of intermittent ankle pain, I ran the race, made it to around 9.5 miles, and then my ankle gave out. I managed to finish, and since walking didn’t seem to hurt any less than running, I ran most of the last couple of miles. What wasn’t in the race report (and I detailed it a bit more in this post) is that a few weeks later, a foot specialist diagnosed me with short Achilles tendons, which, when running put pressure on everything connected to the tendons, but the ankles got the worst of it. It was pretty much just a matter of time before something gave out, and for me it just happened to be my left ankle at the 9.5 mile mark of a half marathon. Luckily, the treatment was pretty simple, some custom orthotics, and since then, I’ve had no ankle issues.

I have to say, though, that even if last year’s race was perfectly normal, I’d probably still compare it to this year’s race.

I headed out on Saturday, the day before the race. It was easier to go straight to the expo in Cary before going to my sister’s house. The expo was actually on Friday and Saturday, which is nice. It was pretty much the same as last year. They e-mailed me my bib number in advance. Again, I have to point out that the only races I’ve run that have done this have all been outside the Charlotte area. At least for me, it’s a whole lot easier during packet pickup to say 3819 than to say Smith, and then clarify that my first name is P.J., since I’m almost always not the only Smith in the race.

Anyway, I got my bib, and realized I forgot to bring my own safety pins, so I had to grab some more. I then went over to get my race t-shirt and a pair of free socks from Feetures.

The shirt is a little darker than it looks in that picture. It’s more of a hunter green. It’s my first ever green race t-shirt. As someone who’s Irish every day of the year, it’s always nice to have something to wear on St. Patrick’s Day. Since it took me so long to post this, I had time to wash the socks (Unless it’s an emergency – an out of town race where I left my socks at home – I always wash my running socks before I wear them) and then try them out. They’re not Balega, but they’re not bad. If I’m looking at a bunch of socks and the Feetures are cheaper than the Balega, I might buy them instead, but Balega is still my first choice. I’m still not sure about what color they are, though. The package listed them as navy. They’re definitely not dark enough to be what I consider navy. They’re this weird color that sometimes looks blue, and sometimes looks purple. Considering pretty much every other pair of running socks I own is some combination of white, black, or gray, it’s nice to have a little color in my sock collection, even if I can’t easily name the color.

Back to the expo, I did a quick check of the course map they had posted just to refresh my memory on the aid station placement. It’s a little odd due to most of the course being on the American Tobacco Trail, so where they can set up aid stations is somewhat limited. They basically had them around every mile, except Mile 4 and Mile 9. Those would have been the ideal places for me to take Gu, but I could work around it, and go with Mile 3 and Mile 8 instead.

I was amused that the Charlotte Marathon had a booth at the expo. Even if I wanted to run it, I don’t think I’ll be able to race much of anything 6 days after New York City. I don’t know that I’ll ever do the full, but one of these years I’d like to run the half, since I have some fond memories of the old Thunder Road Half.

I drove from the expo to my sister’s house. My sister was actually out of town, but my brother-in-law was still around, and, most importantly, my nephews were there. Jack (almost 3 years old) was all over the place, and I’m lucky I didn’t wear myself out trying to keep up with him. Quinn (9 months old) crawled around a lot and smiled pretty much all the time. Seriously, he might just be the happiest baby I’ve ever seen. They’re both the best.

We had pizza for dinner, because it was easy for my brother-in-law and it has plenty of carbs.

I had an unusually poor night of sleep. I mean, I usually don’t sleep well before races, but even grading on a curve, this one was pretty bad. My nephews didn’t wake me up, though. I heard them a couple of times, but both times I was already awake. At 4 AM, I got out of bed. I showered, brushed my teeth, applied body glide and band-aids, and got dressed.

I wasn’t sure exactly what the temperature was going to be at the start, so I had packed both long and short sleeved t-shirts, shorts, and a pair of running pants. I figured it was highly unlikely I’d run in the long pants, but I thought I might want them before the race. As it turns out, it was 43 degrees. That’s warm enough for shorts for me, but it’s right on the line between long and short sleeves. I decided that since it was 13.1 miles, and there would eventually be at least some sun to warm things up, I’d go with the t-shirt. I got all my stuff together, got some water for my water bottle, used the bathroom, and headed out. It was about a 30 minute drive from my sister’s house.

Parking near the Start/Finish line is limited. Last year, I parked off site and rode a shuttle to and from the race. This year, I registered early enough (on, uh, April 15 of last year…it didn’t take me long to figure out I needed to take another shot at this race) that I was able to buy a parking pass for $10. They recommended getting to the lot by 5:30 AM, and I pulled in right at 5:21. I sat in my car for a while because it was much warmer in there. I know, 43 isn’t terrible, and I could have handled it easily if I had been wearing jeans and a long sleeved shirt, but shorts and a t-shirt are a different story. I ate a couple of Chocolate Chip Clif Bars while I was waiting, and washed them down with the water I brought.

At around 6:20, I got out of my car, put on some sunscreen, and headed over towards the starting line. I went to the large tent where all the post-race festivities would be. It was slightly warmer in there, I guess because it was partially shielded, and also had several hundred people in close proximity, so that kept things warm. At about 6:40, I wandered over to the starting line.

I looked around and found the 2:20 pacers, and the 2:00 pacers, but I didn’t see the 2:10 pacers at first. So I lined up about halfway in between the other pace groups, and slightly behind the 4:05 full marathon pacers. They were a little late, but the pacers finally arrived. One was a guy whose name I never did catch, but I remember his full marathon PR of 3:05. Now that’s impressive. Of course I mentally referred to him as 3:05 the rest of the way. He was the one who carried the pace group flag. The other pacer was Amy, and she did a good job calling out the time and average pace at each mile marker.

I got a picture of the starting line. It had gotten crowded enough that I couldn’t get behind the pacers to include them in the picture, but they’re there, just to the left of me.

I don’t remember it being this crowded last year, but after looking at last year’s starting line picture, it looks like this year they kept all of us on the left side of the grassy area in the middle, while last year we were spread out on both sides. Also, this year there was a slight breeze, not enough to affect my run, but enough so that they didn’t have the crane with the giant American flag over the start.

The Mayor of Cary said a few words, then the race director spoke, then someone sang the National Anthem. And then, at 7 AM, we were off. It’s the first time I’ve started a race in the dark, although it was close enough to sunrise that it wasn’t too dark.

In the mass of humanity, I lost track of where the 2:10 pacers were. I knew I was ahead of them, but that was OK. I tried to take it easy on the first mile, and I figured they would catch up at some point, and somewhere in the first mile, they did.

Mile 1: 9:57
Mile 2: 9:49

I settled in with the pace group after they caught up. I didn’t say a whole lot, although when someone made a comment about how expensive the New York City Marathon is (which is true), I had to add that it’s totally worth every penny (which is true for me). The pacers kept things fun.

Mile 3: 10:09

The first aid station was around 2.4 miles in, and I slowed down and got some water, but I was able to catch up to the pace group again pretty easily. Then, just after we turned onto the trail, the aid station right before the 3 mile mark came up. I knew I’d want to have my Gu and then wash it down with water. So I slowed down to a walk, took one out of my pocket, went to tear it open…and failed completely. I don’t know what happened, whether it was something wrong with the packet, or just plain user error, but I could not get that thing open. I finally used my teeth to open it. Then I had to find the water (not Gatorade, because I’ve heard that mixing Gu and Gatorade is a very bad idea). After I drank my cup of water, I was careful to make sure I got the empty cup into one of the trashcans, because we were on the trail at this point, and the organizers make a big deal about not littering on the trail. After I got past the last trashcan, I realized I still had an empty Gu packet in my hand. I didn’t want to just stick it in my pocket, so I figured I’d hold on to it. For two miles. It was kind of gross, and holding it tight enough to make sure I didn’t drop it was somewhat uncomfortable, but I survived. It was certainly easier than “running” the last 3+ miles of a race on a bum ankle, so I can’t really complain.

Mile 4: 9:39

Also, as a result of all of this, the pace group had left me behind. I could still see them, but I would have to work to catch up to them. I settled down and sped up a little. I didn’t want to sprint to catch them immediately, because that could come back to haunt me later, but I gradually managed to close the gap, and finally caught up somewhere in Mile 4. Because this was my “catching up” mile, it was a little faster, but it wasn’t ludicrous speed. It helped that there was no aid station on this mile.

Mile 4 was also where we saw the half marathon leader coming back in the other direction.

Mile 5: 9:44
Mile 6: 9:47
Mile 7: 9:55

Things were going pretty smoothly. The pacers kept things fun. I’d never run a race with a pace group before. I don’t think I’ve ever had this combination before at a race, but I had a clear goal, a pace group right around that goal, and I had the training (and race day conditions) to have a good chance of achieving that goal. If my goal had been, say 2:05, I don’t think I would have been able to hang with the 2:00 pace group, and the 2:10 group, as much as I enjoyed them, probably wouldn’t have gotten me to 2:05 unless I sprinted the last 2-3 miles.

The next aid station was right before Mile 6. I got some water, and it went off pretty smoothly. It’s tough to see the stop in my pace graph, and that’s a sign that it went well.

We hit another aid station around the end of Mile 6, and I’m finding it even harder to see exactly where in my pace graph. Not being able to tell the location of an aid station by my pace graph is a good problem to have.

The turnaround was at the exact halfway point, 6.55 miles. My watch said 1:04 something, I can’t remember how many seconds, but it was definitely less than 1:05, half of my goal time, so that’s good. Officially, I ran the first half in 1:04:40.603.

I do think the turnaround caused Mile 7 to be slightly slower than the other miles, since I did have to slow down for the turn.

Mile 8: 9:46

I screwed up at the aid station here. First, I was supposed to wait until the aid station after Mile 8 to have my 2nd Gu, but I had a brain fart and thought this was where I was supposed to eat it. Second, I forgot that we had passed the turnaround. This meant that, instead of water then Gatorade, like the aid stations had been previously, now they had the Gatorade first. That just totally threw me off, and as a result, I also missed the water. (Yeah, I’m still not completely sure how I managed that.) I did somehow get my empty Gu packet into a trash container, but I hadn’t been able to wash down my Gu. I’ve only done that one other time, during a run where I had a Gu, then stopped at a water fountain that turned out to be shut off. It’s not ideal, but I can deal with it.

At several aid stations, they were giving out Gu. I saw Strawberry Banana, my flavor, and also Salted Caramel, which I’ve never had. I tend to not enjoy what I like to call dessert flavored Gu, and prefer fruit flavor (or Vanilla Bean, my usual backup flavor). They may have had some other flavors, but those two were the only ones I saw. As a side note, I have no idea what flavor of Gatorade they were giving out, but they did say it was actually Gatorade, and not Powerade or some other sports drink.

Aid station snafu aside, it was still a decent mile.

Mile 9: 9:57
Mile 10: 9:52

Mile 9 had an aid station, the one where, you know, I should have had my Gu. This time, I actually drank some water. (I’m lucky it was only in the 40’s, so skipping an aid station didn’t really affect me that much.)

During Mile 10, I passed the fateful 9.5 mile mark. Absolutely no ankle issues. Also, I definitely wasn’t laboring like I was last year leading up to this point. Granted, part of that was the fact that it was at least 15 degrees cooler this year, but I do think I was better trained this time around.

Mile 11: 9:56

This ended up being my last mile with the pace group. We hit an aid station early in the mile. I remember one of the other runners in our group warned me she’d be slowing to a walk to get her water, and I told her not to worry, I’d be doing the same thing, since I don’t have the ability to drink water while running, not without either choking, or getting most of the water on my shirt, or both.

I still felt pretty decent. I also noticed that, according to my watch, our overall pace was hovering around 9:52/mile, which is about 3 seconds faster than a 2:10 pace.

At around 10.6 miles, we turned off of the trail and onto the roads leading to the finish.

Mile 12: 9:15

Again, there was a water stop at the beginning of the mile. After that, with the wide road, I decided it was time to make my move, and I left the pace group behind. I still had some energy left in my legs.

The last aid station was near the end of this mile. I had decided to skip it, but as I approached, the guy from the pace group with the 3:05 marathon PR caught up to me. I thought, huh, that’s strange, then I saw him make a beeline to the port-a-potty. I laughed and kept going.

Mile 13: 8:58

It was time for my final push. On the one hand, seeing Mile 13 as my fastest mile of the race is pretty cool. On the other hand, it makes me wonder what I could have done if I had started my push earlier.

Last .16: 8:27/mile pace

There was a slight downhill right before the finish line. This year, it was a lot less painful, although at some point, I realized I wasn’t quite going to get under 2:08, which was slightly disappointing. Still, I finished strong, even when compared to other races where I had two fully functioning ankles when crossing the finish line. And I knew I had a new half marathon PR. According to Garmin, I had run 13.16 miles, which isn’t too terrible.

After crossing the finish, I got a bottle of water and my medal. I walked a little bit away from the finish line, just to get out of the way, then I waited. I wanted to find the 2:10 pacers, Amy and 3:05. Sure enough, a couple of minutes later, I found them. I told them I got my PR, and I thanked them for being great pacers.

After that, I walked up the hill to the finishing area, looking to get my official time. Because there was a long line, a volunteer looked up my bib number on her phone and wrote down my time, 2:08:01. (As it turns out, she rounded it off, my official official time was 2:08:01.250.) I had an official PR.

Tobacco Road is the only race I’ve done where they have a bell at the finish line that you can ring if you get a Boston qualifying time (which is extremely unlikely for me) or if you get a PR. Last year, I had a string of 12 straight races with a PR going into the race, and thanks to my ankle, that streak ended, and I did not get to ring the bell. I hadn’t seen the bell after I crossed the finish line, but I walked back over and found it. Turns out it was on the left side of the finishing area and I had been on the right.

I didn’t get a picture of me ringing it, but I did finally get to ring the bell. I think more than anything else, it was cathartic.

Now it was time to get food and drinks. I got a half banana, an orange slice, some pizza from Papa John’s, chocolate milk, and bread from Great Harvest Bread Company. Also, it was apparently the 100th birthday of the Red Cross, and they were one of the official charities, so they brought a birthday cake, and I got a piece of that as well.

Last year, they had beer from Natty Greene’s in Greensboro. I thought that was odd, because there are a lot of good breweries that are a lot closer than Greensboro. Well, this year, they went even farther away, Appalachian Mountain Brewery in Boone. I had their amber, which was a little more hoppy than I’d like, but it still tastes pretty good after a run, and also, it’s way better than Michelob Ultra.

With all of that out of the way, I needed to take a picture to prove that my car key made it to the finish.

I still can’t believe I used landscape mode instead of portrait. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I was just putting it in this post, but since it was my new half marathon PR, I had to squeeze it into the header banner. I wanted to include some bushes in the background, but in the header, with the cropping you don’t see as much of it.

I hung out for a little bit, then walked over to my car and drove back to my sister’s house. My nephew Jack (the one who’s almost 3) really liked my medal.

Here’s a better shot of the medal, with a Gu packet for scale. It’s pretty freaking big.

Yes, that’s the Red Cross logo in the middle. I like trains, so I’m kind of biased, but I think it’s a pretty cool medal.

So, for the most part, I’m really happy with my race. I got a new PR, I had fun running with a pace group, and I finished the race on two fully functioning ankles. I do wonder if I could have finished a minute or two faster if I hadn’t stuck with the pacers for most of the race, and I have to admit, being 1.250 seconds from being below 2:08 is mildly frustrating. Still, when I think about last year, there’s no comparison.

I had been thinking about that bell for the past year, about what it would be like to ring it if I could get a PR this year. I wasn’t sure exactly how I’d feel, but I have to say, I don’t think catharsis was on my mind. But that’s how it ended up feeling. I guess I was just really relieved more than anything else, like I finally got this monkey off my back. This was no longer the race where I hurt my ankle. It had become my half marathon PR.

I finally got to ring that bell. I found relief, and ultimately, I found the redemption I was looking for.

Vital Stats

Full Name of Race: Feetures! Tobacco Road Half Marathon (There was also a full marathon.)
Location: Thomas Brooks Park, Cary, NC
Date and Time of Race: March 19, 2017, 7:00 AM
Bib Number: 3819
Official Finishing Time: 2:08:01.250 chip time(9:46/mile), 2:09:39.513 gun time. 1,018th of 2288 Overall, 577th of 977 Men, 108th of 178 in Age Group (Male 40-44)

Weekly Wrap-Up: March 27-April 2

Nope, my Race Report for Tobacco Road isn’t done yet. I also need to do a Monthly Wrap-Up for March. (Spoiler: It was a really good month.) I should be able to get both of those out this week.

As a week of running, it was OK, I guess.

Weight Check: 163.8 pounds, up 1.1 from last week. It wasn’t a great week of eating, and as usual there was plenty of Mountain Dew. Part of me thinks I need to buckle down, but part of me thinks that as long as I’m in the low 160s, I should be OK. Ultimately, I think I should probably be getting my calories from something other than Mountain Dew.

This Week’s Runs
Day Total Miles
Monday 5.51
Tuesday 5.31
Wednesday 5.01
Friday 4.71
Saturday 10.02

Total: 30.56 miles

Yeah, those are some odd totals. I’ll explain.

I was hoping to get in a little extra mileage early in the week so that if I went to Triple C Brewing to run on Thursday night, I would only have to run 4 miles. I’d rather only run 4 there because my pace will probably be a little faster than an easy run because there’s a bunch of people around. Also, even at my slightly faster pace, I’m much slower than the majority of the runners who do the full 5 miles, and being the last person to get back to the brewery is no fun. Among other things, I have to wait longer for my beer.

So on Monday, I got an extra half mile. It was a little warmer than I’d like, but it wasn’t too terrible, and I ran well.

Tuesday, on the other hand, was really miserable, warmer and more humid. With a slower pace due to the weather, and a limited amount of time to run before work, I could only get to 5.31.

By Wednesday, I saw that the Thursday evening forecast wasn’t looking so great, so I stuck with 5 miles on the treadmill. Granted, I’m not sure my mind could have handled much more than that. My legs were fine, though.

I was actually a little worried about the forecast for Friday morning, possibly having to deal with thunderstorms. I mean, the reason I don’t normally run in the late afternoon/evening is to avoid thunderstorms. Not cool. Luckily, if we got any thunderstorms that morning, it was before I woke up. It wasn’t raining when I started or when I finished, but I got rained on in the middle of the run. I also noticed the wind in spots. I think it probably would have been pretty miserable without the rain, though. Also, the reason for the odd total is that I noticed I needed 4.6 miles to get to 140 miles for March. I was still about a tenth of a mile from home when I hit that, so I ended up with 140.1 miles for March.

Saturday was cooler and a little bit windy. Also, for some reason, my legs were tired. I survived. I guess I did 10.02 just so I can say my long run was longer than last week.

Next week, I might try to get to Triple C to run on Thursday. Either way, I still probably need to push my early week runs closer to 6 miles. I wouldn’t mind getting in enough miles during the week to get in 11 miles next Saturday. We’ll see how it goes.