Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hobby Jogging: 2/26/11 - Raleigh, NC - Torch Run 5k

Today marked the third race of the Second Empire Grand-Prix. It was the Torch Run 5k and was the same course as the Free to Breathe race at NC State's Centennial Campus, just in reverse. This made for a very long uphill second mile. This was also my first race running in The Athlete's Foot Racing Team singlet (and shorts). It's a great new partnership that myself and my fellow Bromar Track Club teammates are entering into!

After a week of travel for work, I was a little tired going into the end of the week and ended up taking off Thursday (per travel) and Friday (per an ailing shin and hip). This was smart as I needed to heal up! I was a little worried going into the race, but those nerves calmed when the gun went off and I felt great. I wasn't able to cruise the first bit with my training partner, John Simons, as he was sitting today out due to the recent birth of his new daughter Liza. I was able to pace off a consistent competitor, Brent Hale, and was rolling for the first half mile before we hit "the hill."

As we crawled up the long hill on Centennial Parkway, I realized the on course mile splits were off. My Garmin had me at 5:38, which seems about right. Brent and I were sitting 4th and 5th with a small pack of 5 behind us going up the hill. By the time we got to the top, we had caught the guy in 3rd (Rodney Scott) and ditched the pack. As we went down the hill at the roundabout and hit the 2 mile (11:37 per Garmin), Brent and Rodney started to pull away from me, but I kept pushing hard. The last mile was solid (5:39) with a lot of rolling hills, and I was able to muscle through and throw down a decent last .14 at 5 minute pace to finish 5th overall; just under 18 in 17:59. It also should bump me up to 2nd in the Grand-Prix standings when they are released as a few guys sat out today.

All in all, I was very happy with today's race. I went in a little dinged up and wore the Oxysox again to support my sore shin. I competed hard the full race and can tell the consistent long runs, tempos and long intervals are paying off. I am very excited for the 10k next weekend, as there are so few offered these days and hope to throw down a good time as I believe the longer distance will play to my (current) strengths. I am also excited about the Run for the Oaks 5k in 2 weeks, which is a good deal flatter than the first 3 Grand Prix 5k's. I was also pleased with my splits today, considering there was a 124' elevation gain from 0.5 to 1.5 miles per the Garmin dump. For my efforts, I was able to win a nice hand knitted scarf, a medal and $10 worth of Moe's bucks!

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hobby Jogging: 2/13/11 - Raleigh, NC - Run for the Roses 5k

January was an exciting month. I had an excellent training block that was filled with 252 miles (my most ever) and ended with a fast 5k tempo on the track. After a true down week (20 miles) to recover and heal up from some nagging injuries (hamstring), I was back at it this week (48 miles) with a solid mile repeat session on Wednesday and was excited to race. John and I jogged the Run for the Roses course yesterday to get a feel for it and I drove it twice this morning to prepare for the rolling hills and wide tangents that would be presented to us at 2pm today.

Run for the Roses is the longest standing race in the triangle (31 years) and it was also the second race in the Second Empire Grand-Prix. It was also my first race as a once again Raleigh resident (thanks to a new job). The weather couldn't have been better as it was mid 50's at the start with the sun shining down. No gloves, no undershirt; just my Bromar singlet, shorts, flats, garmin, shades and oxysox (as I have been battling some shin splints). Got in an easy 2 mile warmup, some strides, and then got to the line and was ready to roll.

The gun went off and I got out well. Slight uphill to Delway where we headed up towards Blount Street. Looped up to Person and headed into Mordecai. The first half mile was slightly uphill and then we had a nice mile or so of slight downhill. I believe the mile markers were off a little bit as I crossed the official mile mark in 5:23 (my garmin had .96 miles and 5:33 for the full, which was more like it). Towards the end of the second mile, we hit the first big hill. It was a long one that I was able to pick a few people off on before heading down and around the roundabout at the 2 mile mark. Hit the course 2 mile at 11:07, but my Garmin had me around 11:18. This is where it got tough.

The last mile on the Run for the Roses course is brutal. If you take a look at my Garmin dump, you can see we rose (no pun intended) 100 feet in elevation with many ups and downs. What you can't see is the excruciating wind. My last mile (according to my Garmin) was 6:06. Not too sexy considering my other splits, but I continued to gain ground and passed a former Division I runner with about 600 meters to go. Hit the 3 mile in 17:25 then ripped the last .11 at 4:35 pace to finish 12th overall in 17:55 (and 3rd in the strong 30-34 age group). Thanks to Inside-Out Sports for being a sponsor and awarding the gift cards!

The competition was much stronger today than the Run for Young, but John and I held serve against the guys that competed in that race and should hold onto 4th and 5th overall in the overall Grand-Prix standings (when they are tabulated). It felt great to compete again and I felt my effort was 100% the whole way. It has been nice having two excellent training partners in John Simons (Raleigh) and Tyler Pake (Greenville). Strong tempos, long intervals and strong long runs at Umstead are paying off. Looking forward to the rest of the Grand-Prix season and of course, my return to Boston.
PS. On a side note, one thing I noticed today was that the race was a "no headphones" race. When I first started running again in the mid 2000's, albeit slowly and very sporadically, I joined the North Carolina Roadrunners Club (before leaving to help form Bromar). One of the last things I remember was a big fight on the email list about them DQing one of their own for wearing headphones in this race. It was kind of childish, but I thought it was a good stand to take and wish more races would outlaw headphones. Cheers to NCRC for sticking to their guns in iPod friendly times and for putting on an excellent race with great volunteer support.

PSS. To the woman that kept yelling at her approximately 7 year old son to sprint out front at the start so she could get a picture, you are setting a bad precedent. Luckily he didn't listen to her as he would have gotten trucked (as the start area was very small). Let the kid enjoy the race. Get a good photo of him finishing!

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Running in Greenville, NC - A Primer

When I moved to Greenville in September 2009 to enter graduate school at East Carolina University, I found it difficult to find information about places to run. So as I exit the town a year and a half later (for a new job in my second hometown of Raleigh, NC), I hope that this will be of future help to those that move to Greenville or to those that live here and are looking for new places to run. If you have any specific questions or think I am leaving something out, feel free to email me.

JH Rose High School - 600 W. Arlington Blvd
A nice rubberized track that is (generally) open to the public (ie. they leave the gates open on nights and weekends). Like anywhere in Greenville, it can get a little windy, but this is a nice track. The ECU team has been practicing here while theirs is being built, so that should tell you something about the quality of it. Also, it is about 2 miles from campus, which provides a nice warmup.

DH Conley High School - 2006 Worthington Rd
Conley is a bit out of town (down Charles Blvd towards Winterville), but generally has a little less traffic than Rose. It is a newer (also rubberized) surface than Rose and has an adjacent park that is great for warmups on the trail and grass. This can get a little windy as well, but not as bad as Rose.

ECU – Corner of Charles Blvd and Greenville Blvd
In progress as of this post, the new ECU track is going to be awesome. The old one was on par with the high school tracks, but the new one promises to be a nice all-weather surface with a steeple pit and everything you could want in a local track. Hopefully they'll let the public use it (they are building a wall around it). Just be smart and respect the team if they are out there and you should be ok. From talking to some of the runners on the ECU team, they have said expect it to be finished around March 2011 (but don't hold your breath).

EC Velo Bicycle Post Trails - 3132 Short Bridge Rd
The best trails in the Greenville area (Grimesland). These were built by the EC Velo Club for the mountain bikers, but are just as good for a run. $10 a year gets you entrance to these 10+ miles of single track trails that are great for a change of pace as there are plenty of hills and the whole thing is soft trails; a nice break from the constant concrete of Greenville. You may want to carry some pepper spray on the back of your shorts though as wild animals and unleashed dogs will run with you every now and again. If it is your first time, you may want to go with a friend or someone that has been there before. It's hard to get lost, but just a suggestion.

ECU North Recreational Complex - Highway 264 East (10 minutes from campus)
These soccer fields and attached trails are a great place for easy days and for longer intervals. There is a field house with a bathroom, water fountain, drink and snack machine which is nice as well. A loop around the soccer fields is just under a mile and if you add the trails in, you can make a 2.25 or so mile loop that is easy on the legs. Beware the windy days, but this place is one of my favorites for the day after a workout or hard run. Also, they close the gates at dark, so get out there early.

River Park North - 1000 Mumford Rd
This is a fairly short trail (about 2 miles out with a few side trails), but can be added to a run from downtown to make a good 7-8 mile loop. Nice crushed rock trails, but beware the side trails can get a little slick and muddy as I have taken a few dives.

Boyd Lee Park - 5184 Cory Rd
Many local high school cross country races take place here, but it is not a whole lot of trails. It is essentials running around a flat field with a few ducks into the woods. Can get pretty windy. I don't really like Boyd Lee, but some people do, so take it for a spin and see what you think.

Race Directors
East Carolina Road Racing - Kip Sloan
The staple in Greenville road racing, ECRR puts on most of the races around here. Kip's a very nice guy and will get you a course map and/or any info you need about a race by email quick.

Run the East - James Orr
This is a new venture that split off of East Carolina Road Racing this year. I have not met Mr. Orr, but by all accounts he's a good guy and seems to be very tech savvy. Expect good things.

GRG featured in Runner's World
Running Groups
Greenville Running Group - a great email list to get on if you are in Greenville where people bounce around ideas for runs and other local info. They also have a Facebook group where runs are organized during the week as well. If you are moving here, the first thing you should do is sign up for GRG's email list.

ECU Club Running - If you are in college and are not running varsity, ECU Club Running is a great place to keep the competitive juices flowing. The team meets daily and has a wide range of commitment and ability. Lots of nice people and they compete in NIRCA races, as well as local road and trail races. One of their favorites is the Medoc Trail Marathon (and 10 Miler).

GoRun - an all ages (8+) and abilities local group that does weekly track workouts at DH Conley, hill workouts at Town Common, Sunday long runs from Elm Street Park and competes as a team at local and out of town races (this spring they are all running the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach).

Running Stores
Omega Sports - 3160 Evans St (252) 317-8956
Not really a true running store, but as close as you get to one in Greenville. Omega has a great selection, a knowledgable staff and always has information on all the races coming up as well as the current issue of Endurance Magazine, which is a nice free pickup if you haven't read it before.

Popular Races
Reindeer Dash for Cash - in my mind, the best race in Greenville. Held every December and directed by Dawn Cash-Salau. The event features a 5k and a 10 mile race. The 10 miler has prize money and both events have a team component. Pretty typical Greenville 5k course, but great post-race food and nice awards and door prizes. The only true "must" race here.

Fiesta Biathlon - not just for runners, Fiesta is a 5k run followed by a 15 mile bike, but Fiesta is likely the longest running race in Greenville (25 years) that starts and ends at Chico's with a big post race party.
Thinking of buying near Greenville? I can help!

Other Places to Run

Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium - 100 Ficklen St
One of the best places to get your hill repeats in. The ramps at Dowdy are a nice gradual incline and the gates are generally open to knock these "stadiums" out mid run without catching any flack from university security.

Town Common - 100 E. 1st St
This is where 90% of the local races start. It is also a good place to do some hill repeats or meet a friend for a workout or run.

Greenville Greenways - All over Greenville
The greenways are currently expanding and the new section will run from around the dog park down the New River to behind the cemetery at the end of 5th Street near Green Springs Park. This will be a nice new option.

Post-run Fueling
B's Barbecue - 751 B’s Barbecue Rd (No Phone)
One of the oldest and most famous barbecue joints in North Carolina, B's is always busy. Get there early as I believe they only cook 4 hogs a day and when they are gone, B's closes up. They are closed Sunday and Monday and are cash only. They won't break the bank though as a barbecue plate with a side and a sweet tea is around $5. A great place to hit when coming home from the EC Velo Bike Post Trails.

Chico's - 521 Cotanche St (252) 757-1666
Possibly the best reference point in Greenville. Chico's is always busy and has a happening bar area with happy hour appetizer specials daily. Decent mexican food and nasty bathrooms, but a good place to meet up for a run (as you can stash water bottles, gels, etc behind the wall right across the street on the campus side for long runs).

Sup Dogs - 213 E. 5th St (252) 752-7682
A great post race stop and the only outdoor deck in downtown Greenville you can sweat on! Great hot dogs and burgers and cheap daily deals. On Saturday they have $1 hot dogs and $1 PBR draft in a mason jar. Always a good celebratory lunch after a good 5k on a spring day.

Other things of Note
ECU Student Recreation Center (on Campus)
This is the best gym I have ever been in. If you have access to this, use it! It has tons of nice treadmills, a rubberized 235 meter flat track, plenty of weights, basketball courts, a smoothie bar, a pool (with hot tub) and stationary bikes, ellipticals, etc. I haven't checked out the local health clubs like Golds and Snap, but can fully endorse the SRC. Just make sure if you come as a guest that your sponsor doesn't leave as I was recently jerked off a treadmill mid-run and asked to leave because my friend went to class. Lame!

Massage Works of Greenville - 104 East Victoria Ct (252) 355-1000
I am getting older and need work! Spencer at Massage Works does a great job and will keep you loose and limber. Only $50 for an hour massage and well worth it!

Running Assessment Clinic At East Carolina University (RACE)
Dr. Blaise Williams is doing some cool things and has monthly lectures on different topics (which I hear are great). They also do studies from time to time that they will post on the Greenville Running Group email list.

Future Additions
This was orginally posted in February 2011. My hope is that when people google "running in greenville, nc," that they will find this post, so if there are any additions I am missing, or things change in the future, please email me and I will revise accordingly!

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