Sunday, October 17, 2010

Towpath 1/2 Marathon & 10K – October 10, 2010 (10/10/10)

Towpath 1/2 Marathon & 10K – October 10, 2010 (10/10/10)

Today we (myself, wife & daughter) ran the Towpath 1/2 Marathon and 10K.

This is the longest-running race for me. I started in 2002 with my first 5K. In 2003 I did a relay Marathon (there was no half). In 2004 I ran my first marathon (3:55) and repeated this for 2005 (3:45), 2006 (3:36), 2007 (3:42), 2008 (3:37). Last year I ran the half (1:32:16).

This year I also ran the half, in preparation for the Athens Marathon in 3 weeks. Liz decided to run the 10K in preparation for her Athens 10K. Lea thought it would be a good idea to run a 10K on 10/10/10.  Here is Liz eager to go at the start line:

And here is a picture of the real start line:

The race is point to point, starts downhill and then, after mile 3, it enters the Towpath. The surface of the Towpath is crushed limestone. This for me is slower than running in roads because of less friction, even though it is totally flat.  Here is a picture from the Towpath section:

Mile splits: 6:39, 6:52, 6:54 6:59, 7:02, 7:06, 7:05. 7:05, 7:14, 7:17, 7:27, 7:29, 7:19, 6:30 (last .18 according to my Garmin). Looks like I slowed down progressively. I remember my legs hurting (quads) and struggling to keep a fast pace.

Final time: 1:33:45.

This is a minute and a half slower than last year. I compared the times and the difference in time is due to miles 9-13 where this year I slowed down to almost 7:30 min/mile, while last year I had kept a pace closer to 7:05-7:10.

The good news is that, like last year, I won first place in my age group!  Here I am picking up my award (a nice framed print of the Towpath in Fall colors):

Liz (running the 10K) was also slower, compared to last year, 54:46 (last year she had 52:10, a PR that still stands). Unfortunately, she finished 4th in her age group (last year was first).

Lea ran the 10K in 1:02. This was a very good time for her, faster than the sum of her last two 5Ks. She said "I found out that I do better if I don't run at all!" (she is too busy with school to run during the week).

Anyway, the weather was nearly perfect (started at 50F and then warmed up nicely 70F) and we all had a good time. Liz is considering making this race her first Marathon in 2011.  Here is a picture of the first place finisher of the Marathon, just before turning to the finish:

Akron Marathon, September 25, 2010

Akron Marathon, September 25, 2010

Just like last year, I ran the Akron marathon (my 3rd Akron marathon in a row) as practice for the Athens (Greece) Marathon, which is in 5 weeks. The weather was cool (65F) and dry. Liz ran the half (her first Akron race). We saw this as a little adventure. We arrived a bit early and had our pictures taken inside the Stadium with the Finish in the back. It was dark at 6:30am:

My time goal was 3:40. I decided to follow the 3:40 pace group. The pacer was my friend Jamie. Here is a picture while waiting for the race to start:

The race started exactly at 7am. The first 11 miles are in city streets and I followed the pace group. My mile splits (from the Garmin): 8:53, 8:17, 8:18, 8:15, 8:13, 8:07, 8:25, 8:23, 8:05, 8:22, 8:04. Here we are crossing the Start Line at around mile 10:

The next 4 miles are in the Towpath (crushed limestone surface): 8:10, 8:14, 8:15, 8:15.

We exited the Towpath at mile 15. The next 3 miles are the hardest part of the course, running in park with lots of uphills, but I felt strong and started passing people: 8:21, 8:10, 8:14.

After exiting the park at mile 18, I am usually tired and reach a low in miles 20-22. This time however I felt strong and my pace actually increased and lost touch with the pace group. Miles 19-22: 8:06, 8:10, 8:12, 8:10.

The last 4 miles were surprisingly fast (going downhill on South Market definitely helps!) 8:03, 7:56, 7:16, 7:26, and the last .2 (.35 according to the Garmin): 6:49! Talking about negative splits! It really feels great to finish strong in a marathon when people around you are struggling :)

My final time: 3:35. This was my second marathon this year. In Cleveland in Spring I did 3:19 (big time PR)). My goal for Athens, a very hard course, is 3:25. I am pleased with the strong run in Akron and I think I am mostly ready for Athens.

Liz, ran the half. She said she did not care, running for practice and fun, but she ended up with a PR! (I think running relaxed helps her). Her time: 2:04. She will be running the 10K in Athens.

River Run 1/2M – September 12, 2010

River Run 1/2M – September 12, 2010

This was my 5th race in 5 weeks and the 3rd half marathon in a row. It was also the fastest! (expected, because the course is point-to-point and mostly downhill).

I did not follow any particular strategy and do not have any memories or anything of interest to write about this race. Just fast running from start to finish. I am pleased with my very even pace.

Mile splits: 6:48, 6:57, 6:48, 6:45, 6:46, 6:46, 6:56, 6:52, 6:52, 6:56, 6:56, 6:42, 6:51, 6:34 (last 0.1).

I finished at 1:30:07 (previous PR from last year, same race, 1:31:16). I finished 5th in my age group (in the previous or next age group I would have been 3rd).

Liz also ran the half. Her time, 2:05:08, was also a PR by 42 seconds from the half we ran 2 weeks ago. She is telling me that she did not enjoy the race. She was hoping to do better and it felt hard.

I am planning to run this race again last year and this time I hope to break 1:30!!

Leave No Trace Trail 1/2M – September 10, 2010

Leave No Trace Trail 1/2M – September 10, 2010

I saw a notice (in Facebook, I think) about this inaugural trail race and decided to sign up since it was on a “free” weekend. The race was organized by Jim Cheney, and started at Camp Manatoc, off Truxell road (off Akron Peninsula).

The weather was great, dry and cool in the morning (60F). The course was a bit tough, not so much for inclines but mostly uneven with lots of roots. I managed not to fall down even once! (One lady after the race, with lots of dirt in her legs, looked at me with surprise and asked "you did not fall???").

The same trails are used for mountain bikes and there was a big mountain bike race taking place later that day.

I started by positioning myself at about 25th place (from 76 runners) and gradually worked my way to the front. My mile splits: 8:14, 8:08, 8:02. By mile 3 I was in a group of 4 runners and we were catching and passing other runners. Then: 8:57, 8:20, 8:09. 8:41, 8:58, 9:05, 8:27, 8:21, 8:13, 8:29.

For the longest time I was running behind a guy with a bandana in his head (from the results I see his name is David Novak) and quite a bit behind us was an Indian fellow (Suneel Apte). I thought we were going to finish in this order, but the Indian guy caught up with us and he passed me at about mile 13. At this point I found the energy to do a "surge" and passed both guys, storming for the finish line. Since we were at mile 13, I thought I only had 0.2 miles to go. But the course was longer, closer to 14 miles, so this mile was endless. I was embarrassed to get passed by these guys, after my little surge, so I kept pushing.

Just before the finish, I caught and passed another runner (Scott Hallett) and finished strong at 1:57:09, in 11th place overall. I was the first runner over 50 (next older runner ahead was 43). The results are here:

Overall, it was a tough race but I will be happy to do it again next year!

Buckeye 1/2M – August 29, 2010

Buckeye 1/2M – August 29, 2010

I was not planning to run the Buckeye ½ Marathon this year, thinking it was the same weekend as the River Run. But this year it was earlier and Liz suggested that we run it. This was her first race, a 5K three years ago.

This race is sponsored by our running club with lots of competition and fast times. The day was nearly perfect for running. Cool, sunny but shaded, low humidity.

The day before the race I ran a 20 miler training run at 8:15 pace so I did not think I would do well in this half. I saw it more as a tempo run.  Here is a picture at the start line (on Riverview Road):

I decided to follow the 1:35 pace leader (Lloyd Thomas, 7:15 pace) thinking that I will drop back after I get tired. The first three miles were as follows: 7:21, 7:02, 7:12.

After mile 3 I pulled ahead from the pace group, thinking that they will catch up with me later. I was running comfortably at the time. But I found myself going faster and faster, passing runner after runner and feeling very strong, until the end. Splits: 7:09, 7:07, 6:55, 7:02, 7:05, 7:05, 6:53, 7:03, 7:01, 7:00, 6:43 (last 0.1).

Final time: 1:33:14.

This was good for 68/502 overall and 7/37 in my age group (50-54).

I was very pleased with my effort! Instead of feeling tired and heavy from yesterday's 20 mile run, I felt very strong. My time is my 5th best 1/2 time. My PR (1:31:16) and best 3 times are from last year.

Liz (last picture above) finished with a new PR, 2:05:50 (9:37 pace), 7/17 in her age group (50-54). She was pleased with her effort. She has decided that if she does not care for a race, like this one, she does well.

One comment about the race organization: The volunteers and crowd support was great, but they ran out of water cups (I had to open my mouth to pour warm water in the last aid station), the only liquid during and after the race was water, and the only food after the race was pasta (no salad, no fruits???) Is this the result of some kind of cost-cutting effort?

Well, I ate 5 plates of pasta.

Xterra – Oak Hill 5M, August 21, 2010

Xterra – Oak Hill 5M, August 21, 2010

This is a trail race, the 2nd in this series for me. It took place in trails off Oak Hill Road. I was not familiar with these trails.

Here is something that has never happened before to me: I was under the impression that this was a 10K race (6.2 miles). So when people started pushing hard around mile 4.5, I was laughing, thinking “fools, there is still plenty of time”. And then, I saw the finish line and realized that I was the fool! The race was 5 miles. If I knew that, I could have pushed hard too and finished a couple of places ahead.

My final time: 35:53 (pace of 7:11, rather fast for trails but these trails were not too challenging). I finished 14/53 (a small race) and 3rd in my age group.

Here is a clearly staged picture at the finish line:

Liz went for a road training run and met me at the finish. I took a picture of both of us with my new Aiptek 3d camera. All the pictures I am showing in these blogs since last October are taken with a stereo camera so they are one half of the stereo pair.

Perfect 10 Miler – August 15, 2010

Perfect 10 Miler – August 15, 2010

This race is becoming a tradition. 4th time for me, 2nd for Liz.

The weather was hot and humid, but it was overcast. I knew I could not beat last year’s time of 1:08:51, but was determined to do my best, even though I know I am not in as good shape as last year (last year I was 159 lbs, this year 167 lbs, just one factor).

My mile splits (first 4 miles are rather flat):

Mile 1: 6:43
Mile 2: 6:50
Mile 3: 6:44
Mile 4: 6:56
Mile 5: 7:05 (uphill)
Mile 6: 7:14 (uphill)
Mile 7: 6:50 (downhill)

Up to mile 7 I was doing well. I was actually ahead of Michele (a friend who is much better runner) at this point. But the last 3 miles were a torture. I slowed down, passed by about 10 runners (including Michele) and struggled to finish. This is reflected by my mile splits in the last three miles:

Mile 8: 7:08
Mile 9: 7:20
Mile 10: 7:12

My final time was 1:09:34. I finished 43/621 overall and 4/30 in my age group. That's not too bad overall, but it would be nice if I could keep up a 7 min/mile pace for the last 3 miles.

Liz improved her time from last year by 2 minutes. Her final time is 1:34:15 and finished 12/25 in her age group (a bit surprising, last year she was 4th in her age group with a slower time)

Independence 5K – August 7, 2010

Independence 5K – August 7, 2010

The Independence 5K is for me one of the longest-running races. I first ran it in 2003. My time was 20:26. Then again in 2004 (20:12) and 2005 (20:06). This was my PR in 5K until last year. I skipped a couple of years and returned in 2009 with a 19:31 (2nd best 5K time). So, I was looking forward to a good race, plus this is part of the Hermes series and Liz and I needed to do well.

After a short warm-up with Liz, we took our place at the start line, and off we go.

Mile splits: 6:08, 6:36, 6:29, 5:56 (last .1)

I finished in 19:39, 29/335 overall and 1st/15 in my age group! This is the first 5K this year (and the 3rd ever) where I "break" 20 minutes. I was also first in the Hermes series.

Liz finished in 26:25, 2nd/10 in her age group. Here is a picture of Liz at the finish stretch:

We stayed for the awards and enjoyed the DJ, same guy every year, very entertaining:

And here am I, proudly holding my award:

Muddy Paws 5M – July 24, 2010

Muddy Paws 5M – July 24, 2010

I ran Muddy Paws 10M trail race last year and enjoyed it. This year I even managed to talk Liz into running it (her first trail race!) Here is Liz picking up our registrations:

And here are pictures of both of us:

Well, I was planning to run the 10 miler but went out too fast and stopped at 5. My time was 39:33, a 7:55 pace, very good for these trails. I finished 5/133 and first in my age group (50-59).

Liz finished at 59:29, 68/133, and 1st in her age group:

Broadview Heights 5K - July 11, 2010

Broadview Heights 5K - July 11, 2010

The morning after a hard afternoon “Winking Lizard” 4 miler race, I went to neighboring city, Broadview Heights, to run a 5K. I went alone because Liz was leaving for a business trip. I wanted to run this race because this is where I made my 5K PR last year with 19:19. I was curious to see if I could get close to this time again this year.

Well, not even close! My time was 20:26, but I managed to finish 8th/139 overall and first 1/12 in my age group.

Well, I can blame my tired legs from the race the previous day, but I definitely I am not in the running shape I was this time last year.

Next week I am going to the NSA convention in Huron OH, and will miss my favorite race, the Buckeye 50K.  Oh well... Next year.

Winking Lizard 4M - July 10, 2010

Winking Lizard July 10, 2010

This is a new race for me.  We decided to run it the last minute because it is part of the Hermes Road Racing series.

The official name is Winking Lizard "A Shot in the Dark". The 4 mile race is downtown and starts at 5pm so it is not exactly dark. As a matter of fact the day was sunny, very bright and very hot.

The atmosphere is a bit of a party. Here is a picture before the start.  Some people were drinking even before the race started.

And a picture after the race. Both Liz and I liked the retro outfit of this guy:

In addition to the 4 mile race, there is a 2 mile Family Fun Run & Walk that starts first. Here is a picture of the start of this race:

All I remember now about the race is that it was hot and was very happy to see the first water stop around mile 2. I thought I ran very well. My time was 26:23, which is a 6:41 pace. This was good for 51/1280 overall but only 7th/51 in my age group. I secretly hoped for an award but I was not even close. A new guy in the Hermes series finished ahead of me.

Liz finished at 36:19 (9:05 pace), 5/25 in her age group.

After the race we went to the car to change, and then back for the party! It was actually very nice with the sun setting, everyone enjoyed a cold drink, while waiting for the awards. Here is Liz waiting on line to get me a beer:

At some point they were throwing gifts (like T-shirts) from the roof of a building, just like they do in basketball games:

Overall, we had a good time, and will definitely do this again next year!

KentFest 10K - July 10, 2010

I have been desperately behind my blogs but I promised my wife to catch up this weekend, so here we go...

My wife and I went to this very small race in Kent... I discovered this race in 2003 (first year of racing). I think I picked up an entry from from another race. They do not have a web site or email, and googling the name brings up nothing! But I liked it and kept coming back.

2003 - 45:07 - First age group (179 lbs)
2004 - 43:01 - First age group (171 lbs)
2005 - 42:45 - PR, 1st age group (175 lbs)
2006 - 43:37 - 4th overall (175 lbs)
2007 - 41:20 - PR, 4th overall (168 lbs)

Every year the race was getting smaller and smaller... To the point that I was getting an overall placement award! And every year Steve Godale ("the guy with the long hair") was winning.

I missed it in 2008 and it was not done in 2009 so I thought it was over. So I was surprised to get an entry form in the mail for 2010! I told my wife to come because it is a small race and they give 5 first place awards, so everyone gets something and most likely she can get an overall place award (certainly if there are 5 women or less!)

There were only 7 women this year and about 25 men (see picture above from the starting line, Steve is the 2nd guy from the right).

It was sunny and 70s. I ran as fast as I could. Mile splits: 6:40, 6:48, 6:44, 6:47, 6:53, 6:57. Early on, I got in 4th place, but in the last 1/2 mile I got passed by a guy, who had more left than me, so I finished 5th overall. My time was very close to my 2007 time, only 6 seconds slower:

2010 - 41:26 - 5th overall (163 lbs)

It is interesting that in 3 years I have lost a bit of weight but I have maintaining my speed (give or take) as I get older.

My wife's time (seen above at the finish) was 56:30 and finished 3rd overall (see picture below, her trophy is taller than mine!!)

Steve Godale finished second! (he has been winning since 1999).

While waiting for the awards, they raffled coupons from local establishments. Since the race is so small, everyone got at least 3 coupons. And everyone got an award in the end!

Driving back, we stopped at the coupon places and got an almost free pizza and subway sandwich.  We had a blast!  We plan to come back next year and keep this race alive!