Race Preview: 2013 Jailbreak 5K

May 21, 2013 by

Race Preview: 2013 Jailbreak 5K

Just a quick note to let you know I’m still kicking and running.  This year is Jailbreak VII and will be held on May 25, 2012 in Lexington, South Carolina.  The race supports the Lexington County Sheriff’s Foundation.  Last year, an out of towner named Scott Wietecha came in and put a whippin’ on all the usual local favorites with a 14:47.  This year, I hope to see some of the Lexington High cross country and track team guys come out to give the regulars a run for their money.

The Course

I wouldn’t necessarily call this a guaranteed PR course, but in the past, I have PR’d here.  Most of the first two miles is flat to downhill.  The third mile has some rolling hills with a short tough stretch up Church St.  The final half mile or so is pretty flat.  Here’s the map:

Jailbreak 5K Course Map

In addition, here’s the elevation map:

Personal Goals

I rarely go into a race without at least one personal goal. This race is no different. I guess I have two for this outing. The first is to avenge myself from the beat down I took last week in the Run Hard 5K when my son whipped me by over a minute and a half.  Now, I’m not going to make excuses. I ran an OK race at 22:43 for having some sort of cold/virus bug. I’m over that, and I’ve had good training of late. My plan is to let him go out his usually too fast pace, and catch him on the last mile, as the hills take their toll. This plan assumes that I am immune to the hills.  I have no historical evidence to support that, but let’s just go with it.

The second goal is to establish a good baseline 5K time for my next marathon training. I’m thinking of doing the Outer Banks Marathon in November, so serious training will pick up in July. I plan on going to back to using the Run Less Run Faster book. In this book, workout speeds are based on your 5K ability. Since I want to improve my marathon time and maybe catch a glimpse of a BQ (Boston Qualifier), I would like to set a PR, just to help with the mental edge of training.  My 5K best is 21:36 and the book says 21:06 puts you in the ball park for having the ability to BQ, based on their statistics.

So, it is time to go work on my playlist. Being Memorial Day weekend, I’m thinking of going with a patriotic theme. This will at least allow me to justify Night Ranger’s You Can Still Rock in America. I will not be including Billy Ray Cyrus’s Some Gave All, though, in case you were wondering.


read more

Race Report: 2013 Lexington Race Against Hunger

Feb 24, 2013 by

Race Report: 2013 Lexington Race Against Hunger

As I’ve mentioned several time before, the Lexington Race Against Hunger is one of my favorite races.  It is well organized with a great cause, has a good tough route, and has a nice post race spread.  I just realized, though, the extra piece of the puzzle that makes the race so good: the Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church gym.

Huh? You say.

Since the race occurs the last weekend of February, the weather turns out to be a factor more often than not.  Most of the time, the race is cold.  The first year I ran it, it rained the entire time, but the temperature was fairly warm.  This year the forecast was not only cold but also heavy rain.  So, as I hung out in the dry gym as the rain poured, I was thankful to have it. Then, after the race, as we listened to the awards presentation in a nice warm building, I was again thankful for the gym.

I had three goals for this year’s LRAH: set my first PR in a 10K since 2009,  help place our company team in the top 3 of the corporate competition, and, finally, stay injury free with my next marathon just two weeks away.

So, what happened? Let’s find out.

Goal 1: Break 46:45 to Set a New 10K Personal Record (PR)

As I hung out in the gym before the race, occasionally looking outside at the pouring rain, I was thinking to myself ‘No PR today without a good warmup’.  I really didn’t want to go run around any longer in cold rain than I had to, but about 30 minutes before the race, the rain pretty much stopped, and I stepped out into a damp 40 degrees to warm up. I donned my homemade leaf bag rain slick and headed out.  I was able to get an OK 15-20 minute warm up, but certainly not what would have like.  At least I was dry so far.  I wandered up to the starting line,  found a couple of my team mates and waited for the starting gun.

The race started right on time, and we took off.  My basic strategy was this: try to run the easier, flatter miles (1, 2, and 6) around a 7 minute per mile pace.  Then for hilliest miles (3, 4, and 5), just give what I could and hope I could beat 46:45.  I had run a 5K two weeks prior that seemed to indicate I was in the ballpark with these goals.

Mile 1 was right on target, about 7:06, but a light rain had started back. Mile 2 is a very steep downhill, and I ran it in 6:54, for a two mile split right on plan.  Good news/bad news at the point. The rain stopped.  That was good news.  The bad news?  Now the brutal part of the course appeared as we climbed Main Street Lexington.  After the tough hills of South Church Street, my mile 3 split was 7:45.

Mile 3 had really taken its toll, and despite mile 4 being flatter, I could only manage another 7:45 split.  The first half of mile 5 is a decent down hill on Hendrix Street toward Church St.  I knew the second half of mile 5 included a short steep hill up Church St to Main Street, then another tough hill up North Lake Drive as we turned back toward Saxe Gotha and the finish.  So, I tried to make up some time on the Hendrix Street downhill.

Must have work, because I hit the 5 mile split at 7:28.  Not great, but decent.  There was still a bit of the North Lake Drive hill left between Lexington Elementary School and Lexington Middle.  My watch showed just past 37 minutes.  1.2 miles to go, and I couldn’t really do the math to tell if I was I ahead of my goal pace.

Almost There: Sucking It Up at Mile 6

My GPS watch will tell me my per mile pace, but I decide not to check it  Just suck it up, I told myself.  Almost there.  As I topped the hill and took one last swig of water from the last aid station, I just tried to keep the legs churning.    The mile 6 split was 7:24, and my watch showed around 44:30.  I thought I was in the clear for a PR now, but I tried to push it a bit more to make sure.  I crossed the finish line in 45:55, running the last .2 miles at a 7:06 per mile pace and securing the PR by 50 seconds!

To see the complete results, click here.

Goal 2: Help Our Team to a Top 3 Finish in the Corporate Competition

One of the unique aspects of the LRAH, is the corporate competition, where teams compete in cross country style scoring, taking your top five runners as scorers.  Well, this year we could only muster up 5 runners for our team.  I’m proud to report we defended our 3rd place finish from last year.

Goal 3: Stay Injury Free

Hmmm.  Jury is still out on this one. As I mentioned earlier, my next marathon (Columbia, SC Marathon) is March 9th, two short weeks after the LRAH.  The training program that I loosely follow had me running 13 miles at a slower pace instead of a 10K at all out race pace on LRAH day.  Well, I did the 13.  I just did 6 more miles after the LRAH awards to get it in.  I felt pretty good, too.  On Sunday, (today, as I write this) I was pretty sore in the usual post race spots – calves and quads.  As the day has gone on, though, a pain that I had hoped to never have again has appeared in the top of my left foot.  Last time, I found out I had stress fractures.  This time, I hope it is just some tendon soreness, and I will take it easy on the running this week.


Again, to see the complete results, click here.

PS.  Given the weather forecast of cold rain, I took extra care with my playlist, adding several appropriate songs to amuse myself.  Here’s a screen shot of my tunes for the race:

2013 LRAH PlayList



read more

Race Review: 2013 Harbison 50K Trail Race Part 1

Jan 7, 2013 by

Race Review: 2013 Harbison 50K Trail Race Part 1

Our Hero’s Race Bib

Happy New Year!  When we last left our hero he was listening to Freebird and crashing badly at the end of the Spinx Run Fest Marathon in Greenville, SC.

Given the lack of posts the past two months, it may  seem he finally came to his senses and gave up long distance running – after all,  it was around mile 22 at Spinx where the inevitable “Why do I do this?” question popped into his head.

So, did our hero abandon his Walter Mitty-esque running goals – breaking 20 minutes in a 5K, qualifying for the Boston Marathon, beating the local shirtless runner?

Of course not.  As a matter of fact, it wasn’t too many days after the Spinx Marathon, that he had what some have said was a crazy idea. “I think I am ready for the Harbison 50K”.  It made perfect sense (to a crazy runner, anyway.)  How? You say.  If you can barely finish 26.2 miles on the road.  How are you going to do 31 miles in the woods?

Easy. You see, at some point much of running is between the ears.  And with the progress he had made with heart rate training over the past year our hero felt he was ready for the next challenge – an ultra marathon.  Less than two weeks after Spinx, he had signed up for the January 5, 2013 Harbison 50K Trail Race.

The training plan was pretty simple, keep the normal weekly workouts going (4-5 workouts, mostly 45 minute to 1 hour runs) but do a couple of long (3+ hours) training runs on the  Harbison trails in November and December.  As an added bonus, a local cycle shop, Cycle Center, was putting on a half marathon trail race at Harbison three weeks before the 50K – perfect tune up.

The Actual Event Review

If you’ve read any race reviews, you may have seen that my general formula is to break my reviews into two sections.  The first section is about the race specifics – course, swag, organization.  The second is about my personal struggles and triumphs during the race.  I’ll stick to that here, but try to keep the remarks a bit shorter.

Race Administration

This is the 3rd running of the Harbison 50K and is organized by the same Dan Hartley who directs the Columbia Marathon.  If you read my review of the 2012 Columbia Marathon, you know I was impressed by how well that race went for a first time event.  I hoped he could live up to the expectations set by the road race.

Well, I’m happy to report, this was an excellent event.   Swag consisted of a nice long sleeve technical tee shirt that was a unique shade of blue.  We also had a first for me in swag – a pint glass with the race date, logo and sponsors engraved.  Finally, the current issues of Trail Runner and Ultra Running magazines were in our bag.  Our race bibs also had our first and last names.

In what I suspect is common in the trail ultra events, Dan held a pre-race briefing the night before the race at a local hotel to cover course markings and answer questions.  This was helpful.  He also held a raffle, giving out probably close to two dozen prizes.  Unfortunately, despite lots of no-shows (must be present to win!), I did not win anything. I would have liked one of the free entries into this year’s Columbia Marathon.

The Course

As the race name says, the event was held at the Harbison State Forest in Columbia, SC.  I don’t have extensive trail running experience, but I have done two half marathons there and try to get out there a few times a year to run.  Basically, Dan has created a large loop out the various trails there and we ran the loop twice.  Of course, he managed to work in the entire Spiderwoman trail, making miles 9-12 and 25-28, especially tough.

One thing I really liked about this race was the way we started.  The first mile and a quarter or so was on a wide gravel road.  This allowed the field to spread out into its natural order.  The other 2 trail races I have done had a much shorter gravel road start, and then passing in the woods during the first few miles is a real pain.  This start worked pretty well, I thought.

About the only slight complaint, I have is the finish. We appeared from the woods back at the center gazebo area and had to cross the gravel road and there was just a guy holding a medal for us in the grassy area.  I didn’t see a finish banner or anything.   There was a clock next to him, but it didn’t seem to be working, or I could have been delirious.

Aid stations

The course had three aid stations that worked out to seven stops due to the looping and routing.  They were well stocked with all kinds of goodies: Gu gels, trail mix, M&Ms, peanuts, pretzels and other stuff.  I’m not used to eating much on long runs, and had not really trained for that, but so I stuck with trail mix and M&M’s.  I had hoped to have some chicken noodle soup as advertised, but when I asked about soup at one or two of the stations, I was told all they had was chili.  That didn’t sound good on the run, so I went on.

Post race

Post race spread looked like a cookout with burgers and hotdogs.  I had a burger but really didn’t feel like eating much, so I watched a few more finishers and left.

It is getting late, and I haven’t even covered my personal struggles during the race.  I’ll work on a part two and post that later.  I will tell you I finished in 6:01:52 officially.  Good for 72nd out of 146.

For the final results click here: http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=17108


read more

Event Review: Color Me Rad 5K – Columbia, SC

Oct 22, 2012 by

Event Review: Color Me Rad 5K – Columbia, SC

Participated in a gimmick event on October 20 – the Color Me Rad 5K.  Gimmicky events seem to be expanding.  As the number of race options explode, event planners are coming up with new and creative ways to lure participants.

Mud runs, burrito dashes, Krispy Kreme challenges.  All of these have a novelty of some sort of offering other than just a scenic course and racing against a clock.

Finish Line

So what did the Color Me Rad have to offer?  Besides a chance to chase my son for 3.1 miles, it also offered a chance to get “bombed” with colored corn starch and squirted with some mystery liquid.  Participants were encouraged to wear white.   And their was a lot of white at the beginning- over 6000 people turned out.  We wore our white and, by the end, we looked like we’d been through the tie dye machine.

So, overall, this gimmicky event was pretty fun.  Anecdotal evidence suggests the young male runner in the family beat the old man by four minutes.  However, since this event had no official timing, that is just a rumor.





read more

Race Preview: Ray Tanner Home Run 12K 2012

Oct 7, 2012 by

Race Preview: Ray Tanner Home Run 12K 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012 is the next running of the Ray Tanner Foundation Home Run.  I don’t have  a whole lot of time to cover the preview on this one,  so here’s the low down.

1.  This is one of the best races in the Columbia area.The post race spread is probably the best.

2. Both the 5K and 12K races are sold out for 2012.  So if you missed it this year, sign up early next year.

3. Here’s the elevation map for the 12K.  I tracked this during last year’s race.

Elevation Map Ray Tanner Home Run 12K


For more information about the course map and other details, please visit the official site at http://raytannerhomerun.org.

Last year the weather was perfect, and I ran one of my best races ever.  Right now, less than a week before the race, the forecast looks good but maybe warmer than I like.  This race is two weeks before my next marathon, so this will be a good gauge of my fitness.  If the last couple of long runs are any indication, I’m in trouble.  I’ll keep you posted.

To see my review from last year, please click here.



read more