Monday, March 3, 2014

Crystal Coast Half Marathon

This was the seventh year of the Crystal Coast Half Marathon and there were some changes and additions to this years race on March 1, 2014.  The start/finish line was moved to Evans and 6th Street in front of Ruddy Duck Tavern, just a block away from the start/finish in previous years.  The race added a 10K to go along with the half marathon and 5K.  Runners in the past wanted to run over the Atlantic Beach high rise bridge but didn't want to do a half marathon so the addition of a 10K gave them the opportunity.  I've run this race every year and it is my favorite race in my hometown.

Unfortunately, this race has bad luck with weather.  I think it has rained in all by two years and been windy in all of them.  This year we got a break from the rain.  It was still cold and windy but the wind was a lot less than what we've had to deal with in the past.  The temperature was in the upper 30s with a wind chill of 31 degrees when my Dad, Jamie, and I arrived at the Morehead City waterfront for the start.  The wind was out of the North at 10-15mph.  That meant runners going to have to fight a headwind once we turned right off Fort Macon Road and headed back over the Atlantic Beach Bridge to Morehead City.

The course is flat minus the bridge.  The bridge is at miles 5 and 11.  The bridge is 400m up and 1.5 miles over and back.  The course makes a three mile loop around the Morehead City Waterfront on Evans and Arendell Streets.  Runners then run down Shepard Street and go over the Atlantic Beach high rise bridge and make a left onto Fort Macon Road.  Runners then take a left onto Bogue Sound Drive.  After doing the loop on Bogue Sound Drive, runners stay on Fort Macon Road until the turnaround.  On the way back, runners don't do the Bogue Sound loop and instead stay on Fort Macon Road until a right turn onto the Atlantic Beach Causeway which takes runners back over the bridge to Morehead City.  Once back in Morehead City, you take a right back onto Arendell Street and head to the finish line on Evans Street.

Justus sees a kitty near the window
This was my first half marathon in 2008.  Even with less than ideal weather conditions for this race I've still ran some fast times here.  My current PR of 1:20:16 was set here in 2010 and I followed that up with a 1:20:17 in 2011.  Last year I ran a 1:20:20 and placed 2nd overall.  In the previous six years I have placed 2nd, 4th, 2nd, 4th, 1st, and 2nd overall at this race.

My goal for this race was to break 1:20.  I've been chasing sub 1:20 for awhile and felt like I would have gotten it already if it wasn't for some of the wind at this race in the past.  I could have picked different half marathons but I like this race and wanted to break 1:20 in my hometown.

I started my pre-race warmup routine around 7:30 am.  After doing my dynamic stretching I headed off on the race course for an easy 1.5 miles into the cold wind.  Since it was cold and windy I opted to race in the 2XU compression shorts.  I haven't raced in them before but I have done training runs in them.  I figured they would be warmer and better in the wind than my usual Nike split short.  I also had on my highlighter yellow Capital RunWalk singlet with matching arm-warmers, gloves, and my Indianapolis Monumental Marathon toboggan.  I debated between the Adidas Adizero Adios and the Adidas Adizero Boston 3 shoes as my race shoe.  I opted for the Boston 3 for the extra cushioning.  The Boston 3 isn't as light as the Adios but it's still a fast feeling shoe. I love that shoe and ran my 2:50:43 marathon PR in them last November.

Start of the 2014 Crystal Coast Half Marathon
The 10K started first at 8:00am.  The half was up next at 8:10.  I felt good as I lined up on the front line.  I looked around and didn't notice anyone that looked fast.  The race field size also looked smaller than previous years.  I did see Robbie Bass, a Capital RunWalk teammate behind me along with another guy and two women in Capital RunWalk appareal too.  My friend Heidi lined up with me and we talked as another friend, Eric Rowe, came up and encouraged me to break 1:20.  The race started and I was out front with Heidi right behind me.  Since I didn't think there was anyone to push me I focused on pacing off the race director, Butch Robertson, as he was the lead cyclist for the runners.  

It was a little windy starting out but the houses were blocking some of it.  I was all alone out front but wasn't sure by how much.  I didn't hear or see anyone behind me the few times I took a glance back on the turns.  I kept my focus on my goal of sub 1:20 as I ran the first mile in 6:02, right on goal pace with some seconds to spare.  I felt a strong side wind on mile two as I ran down Arendell Street.  Mile two was ran in 6:06.  I made my way back to the starting area where the 5K was about to start.  I thought they would have started by the time I got back but it hadn't.  Butch yelled for them to start it and then he yelled at me to follow him.  The 5K started just as I was coming through around 2.5 miles.  I had to navigate my way through the 5K runners.  Butch did a great job on his bike of creating a clear path through the 5K runners.  Some runners did a great job moving to the far right so I didn't really lose any time dodging them.  I kept running hard, following Butch and the lead police SUV ahead of him.  I was feeling great and still all alone up front as I ran mile three in 5:45.  It was a little too fast but it felt good and I knew I was going to lose some time going back over the AB bridge at 11 miles.  

Robbie Bass before Mile 3
I was in a good rhythm running down the waterfront on Sheppard Street as I ran mile four in 6:09.  The course then turns and goes up the AB high rise bridge.  I know I've said it in a lot of blog posts and will say it again but I love running the Atlantic Beach high rise bridge.  I had a tailwind going up the bridge as I met some 10K runners on the way back from their turn-around.  They all gave me the inside path.  I wouldn't be myself if I didn't speed up running uphill and I did just that running mile five in 5:46.  I had to remind myself to stay in control and now blow up as I came down and off the bridge.  I got my first taste of the headwind when after turning left onto Bogue Sound Drive after the intersection at the Circle at Atlantic Beach.  I wasn't on Bogue Sound Drive long but the wind was tough.

Justus wants the cookie my Dad has
I was still leading with no signs of anyone close anyone was behind me.  I stayed focused and kept clicking off the miles as I ran down Fort Macon Road towards Fort Macon State Park.  The wind was at my side and I was still feeling good.  I was just simply in the zone and not having anyone beside me pushing me or ahead of me for me to chase wasn't bothering me.  I ran miles seven and eight in 5:57 and 6:02.  I rounded the turn around shortly after eight miles and saw my competition.  Second place wasn't as far back I as I thought he was.  He must have picked up the pace a lot since the race started.  This gave me a challenge because I still wanted to win the race especially after leading for as long as I had.  I knew my pace was staying consistent but I didn't see the mile nine marker.  My Garmin was accurate so far during the race because I turned the auto lap off and was hitting the lap button at the official mile markers, like I do in all my races.  My current average pace was showing I was running 5:55 so I should have seen the mile marker around 6:00.  I didn't see it until 0.16 over where it should have been.  Several runners after the race mentioned they thought mile 9 was really long as well.  The next mile marker, mile ten was in the right spot.  Mile ten was the last mile before the course turned and headed down the Atlantic Beach causeway and back over the bridge directly into the headwind.  I ran mile ten in 5:57. I split ten miles in under 1:01, which was faster than the only ten miles race I've ever ran

I felt the headwind as soon as I turned right onto the Atlantic Beach causeway.  It was strong but wasn't as bad as previous years.  It was a challenge and I knew I had to do the best I could in it because I was sure second place was gaining and possibly going to draft me going into the wind over the bridge.  Mile eleven is tough enough going uphill on the bridge but the headwind made it tougher.  It felt like I was running harder than the pace on my Garmin was telling me.  I ran mile eleven in 6:20, not bad considering the wind.

I was still leading when I came off the bridge and made the right turn back onto Arendell Street.  The pace on my Garmin was reflecting not being in the headwind anymore as I was back to under 6:00 min/mile pace.  I ran mile 12 in 6:08, still leading but second place was closer.  He gained a lot on me since we came off the bridge.

Finishing with a new PR of 1:19:33 and first sub 1:20!

I picked the pace up when I heard him on my heels.  I tried doing a surge to drop him but he was holding on right behind me.  Second place made a move on me around 12.7 miles.  He pulled out from behind and passed me.  He was booking it an pulling away from me.  I was currently on pace for my fastest mile of the race.  It was a strong move he put on me.  I chased him as we turned back onto the waterfront with the finish line in our sights.  I knew I wasn't going to catch him as he was about 20 seconds ahead of me when I checked when we turned.  I ran the mile 1.12 miles in 6:20, which is 5:41 min/mile pace.  I finished second overall in 1:19:33 out of 189 finishers!  I was thrilled I finally got the sub 1:20.

Heidi smiling as she wins her 3rd Crystal Coast Half Marathon
Heidi won the women's race in 1:26:33 and finished fifth overall. This was Heidi's third time winning the Crystal Coast Half Marathon.
Robbie Bass finished 16th overall and 2nd in his age group in 1:38:02.

Despite the wind, Eric Rowe finished with a new PR!

I met the winner, Eric Rasmussen, after the race.  Eric's winning time was 1:19:21, 15 seconds ahdead of me.  He's from Wilmington and has a 2:36 marathon PR.  He owns a very cool company that takes people on active adventure trips all over the world including the Inca Trail Marathon, one of the hardest races in the world.

Capital RunWalk after the race
Even though I placed 2nd overall and didn't win I got the time I wanted.  I won the race in 2012 so the time goal was more important to me than winning.  I told Jamie and some friends if I got second or third but got the sub 1:20 I would be happy and I was.  The course may have been a little long this year but it was still a great race for me.  The weather was great in my opinion.  Yes, it was cold and windy but it's only the third time it hasn't been raining for this race.  Like I said earlier, I prefer the cold and the temperature didn't bother me at all.  The wind did slow everyone down but there were still a lot of great performances.  The total finishers was smaller than previous years and I hated to see that.  I love this race and think NC Races does a great job organizing it.  For placing second place overall I recieved a $75 gift card to New Balance Raleigh - Durham that I will probably use on the NB 890 version 4 running shoe.  It's a great shoe for intervals, tempos, goal marathon pace long runs, and even racing.

This was my ninth half marathon and all but two have been at this race.  The two that weren't were the Run For The Booty Half in Greenville, NC which no longer exists, and the New Bern Bridge Run Half.  I may be biased because it's my hometown but the Crystal Coast Half Marathon is better than those two and I think it's one of the best halfs around for the money.

Bear's pressence at my race
Now onto something spirtual that ties in with this race.  Jamie and I adopted a Beagle, named Bear, in February of last year. Bear had several medical issues but we gave him a great life with us but he passed away last November.  He's been in our thoughts a lot since then.  I've randomly seen him laying on the deck of our apartment and in some of his other spots but as soon as I acknowledge I saw him he's gone.  Maybe I'm crazy or maybe it's his way of letting us know he's still with us and a pressence in our life.  Anyways, Jamie noticed a charter boat docked on the Morehead City waterfront while I was running this race.  The name on the boat was "Beagle Charters".  After the race Jamie showed me the boat.  I've ran in this area a lot and never noticed the Beagle Charters boat docked there before.  I'm taking it as a sign that Bear was with me as I set my half marathon PR and finally broke 1:20.  Jamie wrote her thoughts about the experience in her new blog Never2late2tri

Me, Jamie, and Justus post race

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cocoa 5K

This was the second year of the Cocoa 5K that is part of the Carolina Chocolate Festival in Morehead City on the first weekend in February.  I won the inaugural race last year on a cold morning when the temperature was under 30 degrees.  This year, the area was hit by a winter storm three days before the race, that brought 1-2 inches of sleet/freezing rain with another 3 inches of snow on top of that.  Luckily, the temperature warmed up and melted the snow and ice that was on the race course.  

I decided to do this years race as a speed workout during my training for the Boston Marathon.  It was my second race of the year and my second consecutive month racing on the 1st day of the month. My friend Katherine was also going to do the race and I looked forward to running with her.  The last 5K her and I did together was on her wedding day where I paced her to the overall female win at the Run 2 Give 5K in Beaufort in August of 2012.  

I arrived at the CMAST building where the start/finish of the race was with my Dad at 7am. I walked over to the Civic Center to register and get my packet.  The race tee shirts were nicer than last year thanks to the addition of some red colored letters.  I talked with some friends that were also running before making my way back to the car.  It was cold but not as cold as last year and thankfully it wasn't windy.  The temperature was right around freezing and there was a slight breeze.  After eating a Powerbar and drinking some water, I did my usual dynamic warm-up routine before heading out on an easy 1.5 miles warm-up run on the course with Katherine.  The course is an out and back.  You start on a road at the CMAST building, go through the parking lot of the Civic Center, up to the sidewalk on Arendell Street, take the first right past the Visitors Center, then a left onto Evans Street and run all the way to where the road dead ends at the Atlantic Beach high rise bridge.  It's flat with a little downhill start and a slight uphill finish.  There is a speed bump within five feet of the startling line so you have to be careful starting and finishing over that.  

Katherine and I lined up for the 8am start.  The turnout was about the same as last year, around 100 runners.  Ryan Albertson, winner of the Historic Beaufort Road Race 5K in July 2013, was there along with two high school runners he coaches.  I knew Ryan would win the race but I hoped chasing him would get me a fast time.  

Shortly after the start
The race started and Ryan led the way with me and the high school boy side by side behind him.  There were some issues getting through the parking lot of the Civic Center because there was no lead vechicle leading us and cars were coming in and they clearly didn't know a race was going on.  We took the right turn and we were on the sidewalk headed towards the Visitors Center.  Ryan was just ahead of me but I could tell he wasn't running hard, well not hard for him anyways.

After passing the Visitors Center and taking a right and then a left to get on Evans Street, Ryan started to distance himself from me and the rest of the field.  I felt good but watching him sail away was hard.  I started looking for the 1 mile maker and remembered about where it was from last year but there was no mile marker this year.  No big deal since I had ran a bigger 5K in Raleigh in December that also didn't have mile markers.  I looked down at my Garmin 210 and I was running 5:44 min/mile pace.  

The race course passes the home of Carteret County running legend, friend, and my mentor Sonny Hyman.  Ryan's high school runner was still with me, on my right shoulder and I told him that Ryan makes it look easy and that he probably wasn't going to be running 20 miles the day after the race like I was.  I rounded the turn around and hit the lap button on my watch.  I ran the first 1.55 miles in 8:54, 5:44 min/mile pace.  

I did a little surge after passing the turn around.  On the way back I noticed Katherine was running strong and currently leading the women's race with Ryan's female high school runner not far behind.  Katherine looked focused and deteremined.  Ryan was long gone out in front and I was starting to pull away from the high school runner he brought with him.  I kept trying to pick the pace up but lacked an extra gear it seemed.  I was running hard but felt comfortable though.

Finishing with a new PR and 2nd place overall
I felt like my second half split was going to be consistent with my first.  Although I had done a surge shortly after the turn I felt like I was running the same pace.  I lost sight of Ryan once we got back onto the sidewalk and later in the Civic Center parking lot.  I kept pushing hard realizing I had a shot at a PR.  Ryan won the race in 16:54 and I finished 2nd overall in 17:44; a new PR for me by 2 seconds.  My second half split was 8:50; a four second negative split.  The high school runner Ryan coaches finished 3rd in 18:15.  Katherine held on and won the women's race in 19:30, beating the time she was shooting for by an impressive 1:20.  Katherine was three seconds ahead of the 16 year old high school girl Ryan coaches.  I was happier and more proud of Katherine than I was for myself.  

After the race Ryan and I talked before he and the two high school runners headed off for 10 more mintutes of tempo running followed by short uphill repeats on the Atlantic Beach high rise bridge.  Katherine and I decided to run the whole course again for an easy cool down run.  Once arriving back, Katherine and I stretched and waited for the awards to start.  We both won free tickets to the Carolina Chocolate Festival.  

I was happy with my time, it was a PR afterall during marathon training.  I think I could get down into the 17:30s while training for a marathon but it is difficult when the two distances require totally different training.  I felt good during the race; possibly too good because 5Ks should hurt more and maybe I'm not pushing myself as hard as I can in a 5K.  It was a good tempo workout the day before my first 20 mile long run of this marathon training cycle.  I have been doing some short surges and in some of my mid week long runs which has helped develop speed in the shorter distances.  I'm better at the marathon and I enjoy marathon training and racing more than 5Ks but I would like to get my 5K into the 17:30s.  Hopefully Ryan will be able to help me with that once I get past Boston.  

Katherine and I post race with a snow/slush pile behind us
Overall the race went well but it could be improved.  Traffic is low in the area on Saturday mornings but it would be nice to have a lead vechicle and more signs around the Civic Center to alert cars going to the Civic Center and Community College that a race is going on.  The course is easy to follow and there were course signs at all the turns.  They had more of a variety of post race food this year.  The post race food included bananas, water, and different brands of yogurt.  The race packets also included a delicious choclate bar from the festival.  The Harris Teeter peach yogurt was delicious.  A total of 90 runners finished the race.   Mr. and Mrs. Teachey did a great job timing the race.  I've known them since high school and it's always good to see them.  They used to coach the Swansboro High School Cross Country team and they still help out with the team now.  I hope the race continues to grow, attract more runners, and becomes a big part of the Chocolate Festival.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fitness Connection New Years Day 5K

Before the Start
I started the new year off with a first year race, the Fitness Connection New Years Day 5K in Greenville, NC.  It was my first time running a race on New Years Day.  The race benefited the Greenville Community Shelter.  Two days before the race I did a 16 miles long run with the final 8 miles at goal marathon pace.  My training plan for the 118th Boston Marathon on April 21st called for a tempo run on Friday but I bumped it up to Wednesday to do it at the race.  I wasn't fully fresh for a race but still felt confident I would have a good run and probably win the race as well.

The race course is painfully flat with some turns that do help to make it feel faster.  I say painfully flat because I generally don't like flat courses.  I prefer some rolling hills and I'm actually faster on a course with hills.  Most of the race course is in the Tucker Estates neighborhood.  I knew the course well from working previous races held on the same course.

I arrived at the race around 11:45am to help the 5Ks 4 K9s group get registered for the race.  I volunteer with the group and it's a lot of fun.  The group takes dogs from the Pitt County Animal Shelter to local races and runs them in 1 mile and 5K races.  It gives the dogs great exposure to the community.  The dogs get to socialize with other dogs, get outside, get exercise, and show the community that shelter dogs make great pets.  The program has been very successful and all the dogs that have been taken to races have been adopted, and some are even adopted on the day of the race.

After doing a 2 miles warm-up and some striders I made my way over to the starting line on Charles Blvd.  The race starts with a long straight stretch down Charles Blvd. until you make a right turn onto Red Banks.  The weather was great for racing.  It was a little cloudy with temperatures in the low 50s with a slight breeze.  Over 100 runners lined up including three kids I coach on the D.H. Conley Cross Country team.  I've been encouraging them to run more in the off-season and to do local races to stay in shape.  I was glad to see Stephen May, Anders Stoakes, and David Liu at the race.

Start of the race
Kip Sloan of East Carolina Road Racing started the race and I went out fast.  Ahead of me were two friends, Melanie Ng and Charlie Justice, on their bicycles.  Melanie was volunteering as lead cyclist for the race and Choo also volunteered to guide runners around the course.  After surging off the starting line I settled into sub 5:50 pace trying to stay consistent.  I felt alone shortly after the start so I focused on Melanie and Choo for pacing.

I was feeling good as I ran the first mile in 5:47.  I was even talking to Choo and Melanie some.  I had a big lead already so I had to stay focused.  Choo and Melanie kept encouraging me as I ran the tangents of the turns.  I took a look back once I turned off Tucker and onto Red Banks and I saw Stephen and Anders in second place.

As the race turned onto Baytree Drive I noticed there were other course arrows on the road in white chalk that were not ECRR's markings.  They were going the opposite way of the race course.  I thought this was odd and Kip informed me later that they were not there when he marked the course with cones and signs just a couple hours before the start.  Thinking the markings would confuse some of the other runners, Choo turned around on his bike and went back to pick up the other runners to make sure they took the right turns.  The course was marked well but having Choo guide the others was helpful and it prevented everyone from making a wrong turn.

Finishing.  Photo by Kip Sloan
I was still feeling good and trying to run faster with just Melanie and the lead police car ahead of me.  I ran mile two in 5:49.  Melanie kept encouraging me and I picked up the pace still feeling surprisingly well.  I did wish I had someone to run with but at least I had Melanie so I wasn't totally alone.  I did speed up and ran mile three in 5:33.  I sprinted the last 0.1 miles at 5:09 min/mile pace to finish in 1st place overall in 17:57.

Stephen and Anders finished side by side for 2nd and 3rd places overall.  David Liu finished second in his age group.  All three kids that I coached placed and got awards.  Another friend, Susan Garvey, ran her 5K PR while battling shin splints.  Susan just completed the Couch-To-5K program done by the City of Greenville Parks and Recreation.

Once Stephen and Anders finished we headed back out on the course for a cool-down run.  We cheered other runners on as they were close to finishing.  I kept going until I found my girlfriend Jamie, leader of 5Ks 4 K9s.  Her dog was struggling to keep running and just wanted to stop and lay in the grass.  I ran with Jamie and her dog Jack to the finish.  The 5Ks 4 K9s group did well, the first runner/dog team finished the 5K in 27:17.  This was the most dogs the group has had at a race. Nineteen dogs went to the race, with seventeen running, and two cheering from the sidelines. All the adoptable dogs got out of the shelter and got to participate in the race which was an amazing feat all on its own!

For a training run, the race went well.  My pace was consistent and my last mile was my fastest.  The course is flat and fast so if you like that than it's a PR course.  I was faster on hills in Raleigh last month for a 5K than I was for this race.  It was a good first year race and the awards were nice trophies and medals.  A total of 104 runners finished the race.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jingle Bell Run

The Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis in Raleigh at Saint Mary's School on December 7, 2013 was my tenth race of the year and third 5K.  I received a free entry for being on the Capital RunWalk team.  I had not been running hard since the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  I took a week and two days completely off from running.  After the time off I had been running easy and building my base and weekly mileage up.  I was running 30-40 miles a week, two weeks before this race.  I did one speed session four days before racing to have a little leg turnover.  My workout was 3 miles easy, 6x400 with 400 recovery, and 2 miles easy.  Based on the results from the Jingle Bell Run last year I thought a top 20 finish would be an accomplishment.  The winner last year was teammate Sandy Roberts in 14:26.

I wasn't sure what time to aim for in the race since I hadn't been running hard since my marathon.  I just wanted to have fun, run hard, and see where my fitness level was currently.  A friend of mine, Austin Balen, also on the store team and a senior in high school, said he was running it too and wanted to break 18 minutes.  Austin ran in the Footlocker cross-country South regionals at McAlpine Park in Charlotte the week before.  I thought I could pace him to his sub 18:00 5K goal.

Capital RunWalk team before the race
It was 80 degrees the day before the race but a cold front came and produced some strong thunderstorms the night before.  The cold front dropped the temperature 40 degrees.  The forecast for race day was cold, possible rain, and wind.  Jamie and I arrived at Capital RunWalk at 9am to take a picture with the rest of the team members that were running the race.  The race didn't start till 10:30am.  After the picture, most on the store team ran to the start for their warm-up.  It was under a mile to the school.

Once we got to the school, the challenge became getting my shoe chip.  The school campus was packed with runners.  The building race day registration and shoe chip pickup were in was crowded and overloaded with runners.  The race had over 1,000 finishers last year so I expected a big turnout but I also expected the layout and organization to be better.  It would have been nice for a race of this size to use bib chips instead of shoe chips.  Anyways, after finally making my way through the crowd to get my shoe chip, Jamie and I headed back outside.

The rain stopped but it was overcast, cold, and breezy.  After doing my dynamic warm-up routine, Austin and I started off on the race course for our warm-up.  We ran an easy mile out and back for two miles total.  It was a gradual uphill on Hillsborough Street and mostly downhill and flat coming back. Austin and I did some striders in the grass and then walked to the starting line with Jamie and Elinor, another member of the team.  At the starting line, the temperature was 43 degrees with a wind chill in the mid 30s, great running weather for me.

It was a packed starting line.  I talked with several friends while we all tried to squeeze in upfront.  There was a woman with a baby jogger lined up on the front line, she did not belong there.  The front should be reserved for competitive runners and a woman with a stroller is not one.  Runners should do a better job of lining themselves up by their abilities.

Tim Pierce and Me after the start
The race started and Austin and I were out fast.  We went out faster than goal pace to get out of the congestion.  Once we turned onto Hillsborough Street we settled in on sub 18 pace.  The pace felt a little harder than it should have for the first mile.  I kept looking for the one mile marker but never saw it.  There ended up being no mile markers on the course at all.  Austin and I were picking runners off that went out too fast.  Austin started to fall back from me on one of the uphills.  I kept catching and passing people on the gradual uphill to the turn.  I ran the first half in 9:07.

After making the turn I picked up the pace to push the downhill.  I realized I was running with masters runner, Ashley Bass.  He would pull away a little bit on the downhill but I would draw even again on the flats.  He and I were side by side running hard on the way back.  The temperature and cloud cover was great for racing and I was feeling better the longer I ran.

I knew we had one more short uphill coming and decided I was going to push it hard to hopefully drop Ashley.  We hit that little hill around 2.75 miles where I picked it up.  I was able to pull ahead of Ashley by a few seconds.  Now, I just had to hold him off the final quarter of a mile which was downhill.  I sprinted hard to the finish, holding off Ashley, to finish in 10th place overall in 17:46 out of 989 finishers and 1st in my age group.  I ran the second half in 8:38, a nice negative split.  Austin finished in 16th in 18:14.  Although Austin missed his goal of sub 18 he still ran a PR.

I ended up beating my previous PR of 17:47 from the Myrtle Beach Coastal 5K by one second.  It wasn't much but still a new PR.  I surprised myself with my finishing place and time.  I felt surprisingly better the longer the race went on.  It's a shame it wasn't a 10K.  I was very pleased with my time considering I had not been running hard or doing any speedwork since my marathon in November.  Having other runners around me the whole time helped a lot.  It's easier to go faster when you have people to run with and you're not all by yourself.  I really liked the course and the race as a whole.  They had some nice post race food from area businesses.  Many ran in Christmas costumes, Santa hats, of course jingle bells, and reindeer antlers.  It's a fun race and I recommend doing it.

Me, Brian Lankford, and Ashley Bass post race

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

My training partner, Jarrod, and I chose to do the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon for our fall marathon this year.  The Monumental Marathon had a lot to entice us to make the trip from North Carolina to Indiana.  The course was relatively flat with just a couple small hills.  The course goes by Indianapolis landmarks such as Lucas Oil stadium, Monument Circle, Butler University, the Museum of Art, the State Fairgrounds, the Fall Creek Parkway, and finishes at the State Capitol.  The date and time of the event was also a perk.  It was on November 2, 2013 and this race has generally had ideal weather for a marathon.  This was my first Saturday marathon and my sixth marathon overall.  Another good thing was we got to see and stay with my good friend Sarah and her husband Ritchie.  Sarah and Ricthie were great hosts and took us to dinner on Friday night at Maggiano's Little Italy.  I ordered the chicken piccata with angle hair pasta and it was very good.

My goal was to run 2:50-2:52 but if I felt good and had a shot at sub 2:50 I was going to pick it up the final 10K or 5K.  My PR is 2:54:26 from Boston in 2011.  I ran 2:54:29 at Marshall University Marathon last November but had to battle GI issues from miles 22 until the finish.  If I hadn't had the GI issues I think Marshall would have been a 2:51-2:53 marathon.

Shaun, Jarrod, and Me before the start 
After a good night's sleep, Jamie, Sarah, Ritchie, and I drove to the start where we met Jarrod and his Dad. After wishing each other good luck, Jarrod and I headed off to warm-up while Jamie and Jarrod's Dad left to drive to the first spot they planned on seeing us during the race, and Sarah and Ritchie got ready to run the half marathon.  The weather was great for a marathon.  The temperature was in the low 40s with a light breeze.  Although I have ran two marathons in the Adidas Adizero Adios I opted for the Adidas Adizero Boston 3 for this race for a little more cushioning.  While in the porta-potty I realized I left my GU Roctane gels in my jacket in Jarrod's car.  It was a minor panic until I was able to call Jamie.  Since Jamie and Jarrod's Dad were going to be driving around the course and were planning on seeing us multiple times I was fortunate I was able to get my gels from her during the race and not have to go without or try the Cliff Shot gels they had on the course.

Jarrod and I got in the our assigned starting corral and met Shaun there.  Shaun ran the Marshall University Marathon with us last year.   Shaun's planned pacing for the half marathon was the same as ours for the full so we decided we'd run together for awhile.  We were at the front of the second corral, the first corral was for the elites; which included 16 year old Alana Hadley of Charlotte, NC.  She was shooting for sub 2:43 to qualify for the U.S. Women's Olympic Marathon Trials.  While waiting for the start we also talked with my friend Rich and a new friend Ethan from the Runners World Sub 3 group.

It was still dark when the race started at 8:00 am.  The sun wasn't due to rise for another 15 minutes.  Jarrod, Shaun, and I started off together.  We ran the first two miles in 6:29 and 6:34.  We went by the home of the Indianapolis Colts at mile one.  Just after two miles I saw Jamie.  She ran over towards me on the race course and I took my three gels from her.  I dropped one and in a split second stopped to reach for it but Jarrod had swooped it up already.  I shouldn't have worried about it but I was counting on my gels.  After tucking all three gels in the pocket of my Nike woven split short I picked my pace back up.  That's a great thing about those shorts, the inside gel pocket on the right hip holds three gels easily.

We were under an overpass for a tenth of a mile or so on mile three.  The GPS dropped out under it but regained signal fast once we were out from under it.  Even though the weather was cool I took water at the aid stations.  The volunteers at the aid stations were great.  The cups were paper making it easy to grab, pinch, and drink.  Jarrod was trying to get his cup in the trash cans on his toss after drinking water.  He started 0-3 before hitting one and he got better as the race went on.  I was just tossing it as far to the side as I could or near a trash can.  I did get a few in a couple trash cans though, one a perfect shot right in the middle without touching any sides of the trashcan.

Jarrod, Shaun, and I stayed on 6:30 pace through the first 10K.  My 10K split was 40:16 and Jarrod's was 40:18.  We bid Shaun Good Luck at seven miles when he had to turn for the half marathon course.  Jarrod and I continued on the full course feeling good and comfortable.  I picked up the pace just a little bit without trying to.  Miles 7, 8, 9, and 10 were 6:27, 6:29, 6:25, and 6:30.  I took my first gel, a caffeine chocolate raspberry GU Roctane, just before mile 7 and chased it with water.  We passed by the Indiana State Fairgrounds just before mile nine.

I thought I was going to ditch the throw away gloves and arm-warmers during the race but I wasn't feeling warm or hot.  I was feeling comfortable and kept them on for the whole race.  The breeze was a little chilly but I was loving the weather.  Miles 11, 12, and 13 were 6:27, 6:28, and 6:28.  My half marathon split was 1:24:53.  Pretty good pacing the first half which put me in great position to run 2:50.  Jarrod's half split was 1:25:03.

After the half mark, I saw a group of three guys ahead of me.  I didn't want to run solo so I did a surge and caught them.  Once I got to them, I asked what their goal was and they said 2:50 or under.  I said that sounded good to me and I told them I'd run with them.  Two of the guys had ran the race before and gave me a heads up on a couple rolling hills that were still to come.  We started running some of the rolling hills starting around 14 miles.  They were not steep and I welcomed the change from the flat course we had been running.

The group I was running with was staying consistent as well but the pace did slow some.  I took my second  gel, a non-caffeine pineapple GU Roctane, at mile 14 and chased it with a cup of water.  Miles 14, 15, and 16 were 6:34, 6:32, and 6:30.  The group I was in started to dwindle down till it was just me and one other runner, Jason Land.  Jason and I were talking about training, the weather, and the course as we kept running together.  We ran by the campus of Butler University after 17 miles and the Indiana Museum of Art at 19 miles.  Miles 17, 18, 19, and 20 were quicker at 6:29, 6:29, 6:22, and 6:29.  The last timing mat split for tracking was the 30K mark.  My 30K split was 2:00:56.  Jarrod's 30K split was 2:01:18.

I typically take my third and final gel during a marathon at mile 20 or 21 but I was I was still feeling strong and opted not to take it and risk stomach issues.  Jason and I kept miles 21, 22, and 23 at 6:30, 6:35, and 6:34.  After 23 miles the full marathon and half marathon courses join again. Before the race I was worried about weaving around slow half marathoners the final 3.2 miles to the finish.  The course was marked well and the volunteers did a great job keeping the slow half marathon runners in the left lane while reserving the right lane for the marathon runners.

Although I still felt good and was ahead of Jason, who I had ran with since 14 miles, my splits were slowing down.  The course was all flat, even a slight downhill to the finish, and the wind wasn't bothering me either.  Miles 24 and 25 were 6:42 and 6:48 though.

Jarrod had kept me in his sights and my slowing down on miles 24 and 25 allowed him to do a surge to catch me.  He caught me as we ran down N. West Street at 25.5 miles.  He pulled up beside me and said "We started this together, let's finish it together".  That's exactly what I needed to hear!  I ran mile 26 in 6:37.  Shaun was on the final turn and got video of Jarrod and Me running to the finish side by side.  Jarrod and I were sprinting to the finish and he pulled ahead by just a couple steps.  Jarrod finished in 2:50:41 and I finished in 2:50:43.  My final 0.2 miles were at 5:55 min/mile pace.  As soon as I crossed the line Jarrod was there waiting and I almost tackled him with as hard as I hugged him.  Jarrod and I placed 52nd and 53rd out of 3,518 finishers but the full sold out at 5,000 runners.

Although it would have been nice to beat Jarrod, I was very happy with the race and my performance.  I was glad him and I finished so close together.  I was even happier Jamie got to see me run a marathon.  Jamie had fun spectating on the course.  She made some original signs that runners and other spectators loved.  The sign she had at 10 miles said "I know a shortcut".  She had another that said "We tripped a Kenyan, you still have a chance" at mile 23.  The ironic thing is a Kenyan did fall down early in the race at mile one.  Jamie also had fun size Snickers and Starburst at mile 23 and they were all snatched up by runners as they passed her and Jarrod's dad.

Finishing with a new PR of 2:50:43
I've dropped almost ten minutes from my first marathon of 3:00:21 at Shamrock in Virginia Beach in 2009 to my 2:50:43 at Monumental.  In the days after the race, miles 24 and 25 have bothered me.  I might have had a better shot at breaking 2:50 if it wasn't for those miles.  It was still a great race for me and a PR by 3:42.  My pacing was consistent and the best paced marathon I have ran to date.  Two gels worked well for me, no issues at all.  Although I only took in a total of 200 calories the whole race I didn't feel like I needed more.  My muscles didn't cramp or lock up until I finished but they got better the more walking I did after the race.  I took water every other aid station and even back to back aid stations a couple times.

I loved this race.  The course was great, the weather was great, the volunteers were great, and the expo was good.  It wasn't a huge expo like Boston but it was the second best expo I've been to out of the now six marathons I have finished.  They had great deals at the expo.  I was able to score the new Adidas Adizero Boston 4 for $49.99 when it is $110 everywhere else.  There were plenty of water and gatorade stations on the course.  I highly recommend doing this race.  If you're looking for a PR course then this is the race for you.

Me and Jarrod post race

Me and Jamie post race 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Twin Bridges 8K Road Race

The Twin Bridges 8K Road Race is one of my favorite races in my hometown.  The race is part of the North Carolina Seafood Festival that is held the first weekend in October in Morehead City, NC.  I've done the race every year but one since my first in 2000.  This marked my thirteenth year of running it. The race starts in front of the Beaufort Drawbridge on the Morehead-Beaufort Causeway.  It follows Highway 70 West from the Beaufort Drawbridge, over the Beaufort High-rise Bridge into Morehead City, through Morehead City to the Atlantic Beach High-rise Bridge, ending in front of the Bella Pizza & Subs on the Atlantic Beach Causeway.  The course is flat minus the two high rise bridges.  I have many top three and top five finishes including a second place finish last year but I have not won the race before.

I have been training for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 2nd.  This race fell on a cutback week in total mileage and intensity for me.  Despite the cutback week, I was feeling tired on most of my runs the week of Twin Bridges due to the heavy intensity and volume of marathon training.  The week before the 2013 Twin Bridges 8K Road Race on October 5th consisted of 71.5 miles of weekly mileage with a 7 miles tempo run on Thursday at 6:02 min/mile pace in the middle of 12 miles total and my longest run of the marathon training cycle on Sunday in William B. Umstead State Park where I ran 23 miles in 2:48:52 and gained over 1,500 feet.

I had two goals for Twin Bridges.  I wanted to win it and break 29:00.  I haven't broken 29:00 at Twin Bridges.  I ran a 28:49 for five miles in September at The Belmont 5 in Rocky Mount so I thought I should be under 29:00 at Twin Bridges.

New for this years Twin Bridges Race was chip timing.  The race had previously been timed with pull tags.  This year, Run The East, timed it using bib chips.  It made getting results faster but I wasn't a fan of the bib chips.  It was an extra cost and the pull tag system worked well in the past.  My issue with the bib chips are they are big, bulky, and stiff feeling. The chip isn't a little thin strip in the middle of the bib like other bib chips, it is a thick strip that goes all the way around the perimeter of the number.

I drove to the start line and my Dad headed to the finish in his car to wait for me.  I arrived at the start around 7:00 am and ate my usual Powerbar and drank some water.  I sat in the car and relaxed while watching the shuttle buses drop off runners that parked at the finish line.  Once my friends Anne, Heidi, and Katherine arrived I got out and talked with them.  We talked about race strategy and headed off for am easy 2 miles warm-up run.  It was warmer than I would have liked at 70 degrees but it wasn't windy.  There was a slight breeze.

After talking with other friends running the race we lined up and waited for the start.  We waited and waited.  The race usually starts at 8am but for some reason we didn't get started till 8:12 am this year.  Once the race started I was off with Anne right with me.  Her plan was to stay with me as long as possible and that has worked well for her in the past.  A couple runners were ahead of us but I didn't worry.  I knew some would go out too fast.  My plan was to go out at 5:50 for the first mile then pick it up  into the low 5:40s the rest of the race like I had at The Belmont 5.  A high school runner from Swansboro, Pier Dick, was leading as we started up the first bridge.  I was gaining on him after the first half mile.  I caught and passed him right at the first mile marker going up the Morehead high-rise bridge.  He said in the newspaper article after the race that his goal was to win the first mile.  I ran the first mile in 5:51.  I did a surge up the bridge after taking the lead.  I saw Paul Kelly's wife Sally on the left side of the bridge taking pictures and I appreciated her support and cheering for me.

On Morehead high rise bridge.  Photo by Sally Kelly
I hit the top of the bridge and did another surge downhill.  I normally don't push downhills but Sam Bland was biking on the course and he encouraged me to push the downhill to get more separation from second place.  Sam and I have been good friends for years and he's been a great person to go to for advice.  He stayed near me on the bike as I came off the bridge in the lead with the police car ahead of me.  Once you come off the bridge you have a long, flat, straight run until you turn left to go up the Atlantic Beach bridge.  This may be the toughest part of the race.  Running fast by yourself on a flat course isn't as easy as it sounds.  There were some friends out on the course and some spectators cheering the runners on but not many.  The festival wasn't getting cranked up till later in the morning.  My friend Kimberly Hollifield Smith cheered for me and took pictures as I neared the two miles marker.  Mile two was 5:52.

I wanted mile two to be faster, in the mid to low 5:40s but it wasn't.  I was still leading and tried to stay consistent on pace.  Sam kept encouraging me and telling me the margin of my lead.  My lead was staying a consistent 20-30 seconds ahead of second place.  It was starting to feel warmer than it was.  I know 70 degrees may not be hot to most but when you're racing on a course with no shade and only a slight breeze it is.  Mile three slowed to a 5:59.  I knew I had to pick it up so I would not be caught from behind.  I didn't want anyone chasing me to think I was slowing.  I did not want them to think they had any chance at all of catching me.  I picked up the pace while Sam encouraged me to push up and over the Atlantic Beach Bridge to seal the deal and to leave everyone else fighting for second.

I made the left turn and the lead police car got beside me.  The officer told me I was looking smooth and great race.  I told him thanks as I made the move into the far right lane going up the Atlantic Beach high rise bridge.  I love running this bridge!  I run it a lot when I'm home.  It's great for intervals because it is 400m straight up until it flattens out going from the Morehead side towards Atlantic Beach.  It's also 1.5 miles over and back on the bridge.  I've been running this bridge in training runs with friends since high school.  I started my push up the bridge with Sam on his bike close by.  The mile four marker had to be off.  I think I ran faster than the volunteer said I did.  I didn't hit the lap button on my watch until I hit the volunteer and my watch said 6:37 for mile four.  Other runners after the race questioned if the mile marker was in the right place because it was then many ran the final mile in 5:00 or close.

I was still leading and began my push down the bridge.  I pushed hard going down the bridge, pounding my quads hard.  My Dad walked from the finish line and was half the way up the bridge when I saw him.  He cheered, took a picture, and told me I was leading by 30 seconds.  He started making his way back to the finish but I knew he wouldn't make it in time to see me finish.  He called my Mom on his way to the finish and told her he thought I was finally going to win the race.  I kept pushing hard as I got closer to the finish line.  The fans cheering from the bottom of the bridge to the finish line were wonderful.

Finishing photo in the Carteret News Times by J.J. Smith
Thanks to Sam and my Dad I knew there wasn't anyone really close to me as I was finishing.  I began thinking about what to do when I hit the finish line.  I had to do something after thirteen years of trying to win this race and finally accomplishing the feat.  I started pumping my fists and smiling really big.  At the finish line I jumped high and shouted "Finally".  I finished 1st Overall in 29:26.

I watched Anne and Heidi finish 1-2 in the women's race just one second part.  It was Anne's seventh time winning the race.  Anne and Heidi are running the NYC Marathon as guides for Paul Kelly.  They're going to get an awesome tour of the city while helping a good friend rock the course.  Becky finished third in the women's race and my friend Katherine, who had a baby four weeks ago, finished 2nd in her age group and 21st overall out of 310 runners in 34:20.  My friend Charlie Justice surprised himself with a third place finish in 30:02.

I was so happy I finally won this race!  I dedicated my win to my friend and mentor, Sonny Hyman, who is battling health problems.  I wouldn't be the runner or person I am without Sonny.  He's done so much for me and the running community in Carteret County.  Anne, Heidi, Charlie, Becky, and I were interviewed by the Caretet County News Times after the race.  The Carteret County New Times does a great job covering all the area races and runners.  Their support is important to me and I appreciate it.  Carteret County has an amazing running community.  The county has produced a lot of fast runners.  The county also has a lot of runners of all paces.  It's a friendly area and great area to live and run.

Heidi, Me, Anne after the race.  Photo by Sally Kelly
I have ran faster times in the past at Twin Bridges but I won today so I didn't care what my time was.  Sure, I would have liked to have ran faster and under 29:00 but I won and that is all that matters.  Winning Twin Bridges means a lot to me.  It took me 10 years before I won the Lookout Rotary Spring Road Race 10K and it took me 13 years to win Twin Bridges.  It only took me five years to win the Crystal Coast Half Marathon.  I just need to win the 5K or 10K at the Beaufort Road Race in July to complete my wins at the major area races.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Belmont 5

The Belmont 5 on September 7, 2013 was my seventh race of the year and it came on week nine of a sixteen week training plan for the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis on November 2nd.  I normally don't race that early in a marathon training cycle but I've wanted to do one of the Tar River Running Company races for awhile to support my friend Michael Forrester, the race director.  The Belmont 5 was a brand new race, formally a 5K and 10K, on the Belmont Lake Golf Club in Rocky Mount, NC.  I was excited to race somewhere new and on a golf course even if we were restricted to the golf cart paths and not the finely manicured grass.  The 5 mile race course was one loop around 14 of the 18 holes of the golf course on gently rolling terrain, a couple brick bridges, and a couple off road segments that were a hard packed dirt road.

It had been a hot and humid summer, typical North Carolina weather, but despite the weather training for my fall marathon had been going well.  I was hitting my paces on tempos, intervals, and goal marathon pace miles pretty well.  The week before this race I ran 65 total miles and my long run was 19 miles with the final 10 at goal marathon pace.  That run went well and I was able to do the final 10 at 6:34 min/mile pace average.  The week of the race was a cut back week but still had a good 800m interval workout on Tuesday with Jarrod followed by an 11 miles medium long run on Wednesday and a recovery 6 miles on Thursday.  I took Friday off to rest for the race on Saturday.

I haven't ran a true 5 mile race before.  I have done many 8Ks and ran my 8K PR last October at the Twin Bridges 8K Road Race.  An 8K is 4.97 miles so close to five miles.  I had a couple goals for The Belmont 5.  I wanted to win, of course.  My other goals were to break 29 minutes along with my 8K time.  The Twin Bridges course has two high rise bridges at mile one and four.  I knew this race didn't have hills that steep or long so I thought I had a legitimate shot at my goals.  I do like hills in races though.  I think it's easier to go fast with a couple hills than running flat all the time.  In a flat race your muscles don't get to shorten and lengthen much, they're lengthening for the most part.  I tend to drop people around me on hills as well and I grew up in Carteret County where the only hills we had were the high rise bridges but I ran those a lot for intervals, long runs, and tempos.

Personalized Race Numbers
After seeing the personalized bib numbers posted, nice touch by the race director, I realized I was seeded second and had bib number 2.  Bib number 1 went to Gavin Coombs, a former N.C. State University runner.  Gavin has ran a 2:25 marathon.  I knew I had my work cut out for me if I was going to win the race because I was going to have to beat him to do it.

Jamie and I arrived at the golf club shortly after 7am.  The race started at 8am.  I like to get to races an hour before the start because it gives me time to get my packet if I didn't attend packet pickup the day before, get my race day powerbar and water in me, and then have time to relax before doing a warm-run.  If you travel to this race it is off 301 and take the entrance to the golf club that is across from Hospira.  Do not take the entrance across from Sheetz.

After doing an easy 2 miles warm-up I made my way to the starting line.  I talked with several Greenville friends that also made the trip to run the race.  Several of them are in marathon training too and had added on miles before the race started.  This race had a true chip start.  Most races are chipped timed these days but many do not have chip mats at the start so everyone is on gun time regardless of where you line up.  Those races without chips at the start just use them at the finish to make scoring faster.  I'm sure the people that lined up in the middle and back of the pack appreciated the timing mats at the start so their time would be more accurate.

After introducing myself to Gavin and talking with him I was ready for the start.  Gavin and I had on the same shoes but in different colors, the Brooks Green Silence.  The weather was great; temperature was low 60s and we had a nice breeze.  The gun went off and I was out side by side with Gavin.  It was a little bit of an uphill start but then flattened out as we ran on a dirt road and then a very little section of pine straw before we were on the paved bike paths of the golf course.  The gently rolling hills started as soon as we hit the cart paths.  I was still right behind Gavin.  I ran the first mile in 5:50.

I felt good and was enjoying the course.  I was focused on staying with Gavin for as long as I could.  I ran mile two in 5:48.  Gavin did a surge and started to pull away from me.  I was mentally prepared for this and figured he was about to leave me and I would have to run tough solo the rest of the way in order to get the time I wanted because third place was no where near us.  We were all alone and ahead of third place my minutes.  To my surprise Gavin didn't get that far ahead.  I kept him in sight and did a surge of my own to pull even with him.

Side by side with Gavin after 5K.  Photo by Brian Milburn 
Mile three was my fastest of the race, a 5:41.  I was side by side with Gavin and began to realize I had a shot at winning this race.  I didn't expect to be this close to Gavin after we passed the 5K mark. I starting thinking of ways to win this race.  I thought about doing surges in order to run the kick out of him.  I did not want it to come down to a kick the final 100-200m.  I also thought about picking up the pace and just holding it to distance myself from him.  I opted for a surge but Gavin stayed right with me.  I took the lead though but he was on my right shoulder in step with my stride.

We were pushing each other well over the rolling hills.  None of the hills were really steep or long, just enough to change your stride.  Gavin did another surge and I stayed with him.  We started trading the lead back and forth as we stayed side by side.  I ran mile four in 5:45.  I was still feeling good and was enjoying having someone to push the pace with.  It's a lot easier to run faster if you have at least one person with you instead of being all alone by yourself.

2nd Place Overall in 28:49
With less than a mile to go, Gavin and I were still side by side.  He would pull ahead some and I would follow suit, pull even, and even pull ahead a little bit.  Every time one of us made a move the other countered.  I knew I still had a shot to win this race but I needed to do something and do it soon or it was coming down to final kick to the finish line.  I picked it up and Gavin stayed right there with me again.  I knew I was going to have to dig deep for the kick to the finish.  We made one final left and could see the finish line.  Gavin went to his kick and I tried to counter.  Gavin left me and won the race in 28:40.  I finished in 2nd place overall, just nine seconds behind Gavin, in 28:49.  My final mile was a 5:43, my second fastest of the race.

I was thrilled with my time  I reached both goals I had for the race.  I broke 29:00 and beat my 8K PR too.  I don't think I would have been as fast without Gavin.  Having him side by side racing together was a lot of fun and very beneficial to me.  I just settled into goal pace and went along for the ride.  I didn't have much of a kick for the finish but I felt I could have held my low-mid 5:40 min/mile pace longer if the race had been a 10K.  I received a Raleigh Running Outfitters $50 gift card and a nice pint glass with the Belmont 5 logo on it.

I really enjoyed this race!  I loved the course.  It felt fast course and the gently rolling hills were nice.  It was shady thanks to the trees on the golf course but the parts in full sun did feel warmer than what the temperature was but that was due to the pace I was running.  Michael Forrester and the Tar River Running Company did a wonderful job organizing, timing, and scoring the race.  They put on a great race in a great location.  I'm glad the Belmont Lake Golf Club allowed a race to take place on their beautiful course.  I highly recommend doing The Belmont 5 and any other races hosted by The Tar River Running Company.

Jamie and Me post race