Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Anthem Into The Darkness 4 Mile Night Trail Run

Be sure to read what Phil and Doug said about this race also:
Cardioholics Anonymous
Doug Falls

Today (October 22, 2011)  was indeed a special day, being able to run 2 races in one day. To my knowledge I had only one chance to do that, and it was earlier this year but I was late learning about it and I even forget what the events were. They were shorter runs and both Local to Roanoke.

This was my second time running in the Anthem Into The Darkness.
I dont feel that this race report does justice to how amazing and fun this event is. I wish I had more pictures and different ways to communicate that to you. This event is like none other. It's not a race for the most part, it's just a fun run. It has a slight Halloween theme to it, but it is VERY family oriented.

It was another fine event put on my the Mountain Junkies, LLC. I'm proud to say I'm a Mountain Junkie! I love the adventurous events they put on. I cant wait to run more of these events for the second time.

This run takes place at NIGHT TIME, on TRAILS.
In case you diddnt get that from the title, or the nifty logo above. Funny thing, is that each year, I hear from at least one person in attendance that they have never run trails, and of course they never run at night. The Race Director makes it mandatory that each runner carry one light, and encouraged 2. using 2 lights helps cast different shadows allowing for better perception of the terrain.

420 runners braved the chilly air which was perfect for running.
Location was the Explore Park, which has some interesting history. I'd love to go into it here, but honestly do some Google searching if you are interested. Basically the park is closed, but the trail system remains open because of some awesome people (Mountain Junkies LLC) have made an agreement that if they keep the trails maintained, then they will stay open. This is one of 2 events that the Mountain Junkies host here. The other is the Explore Your Limits 5k and 10k. Read my report on that event from 2011 HERE.

My running friend Doug Falls has hosted a few group runs on these trails over the past year. So, I've been on the trails quite a bit since last year when I ran this race for the first time.

I am thankful for my Dad and Step Mom who came to watch the kids, so that Lydia and myself could run this evening.
Lydia and I were equipped with our head lamps and a hand held. We upgraded our lighting from last year. Last year we both had Energizer head lamps bought from a local hardware store, and a small hand help bought from Advance Auto. We had the headlamps from camping supplies, and I bought the hand helds as a cheap additional suppliment. Of course it was fine and sufficient for the race, as EVERYONE out there is carrying a light or two and you can see much better than you thing you may be able to. Seldom do you find yourself alone out there with over 400 runners on a 4 mile course.

Over the past year Lydia and I have been running at night a lot more lately. We  have both bought quality 60 lumen head lamps. I payed $55 for mine, Petzl Tikka XP2 (purchased from Roanoke's Outdoor Trails). She payed $15 for hers, Kelty brand, purchased from Target. Ironically they are both 60 lumens, cast a spot light for 60 meters, and take 3 AAA batteries. The Petzl has a nicer case and other light settings, but The Kelty is a sweet deal, but doesnt seem as durable.
The hand helds I bought are 120 lumen Mag-lite XL LEDs. So we were well equipped with light.

Petzl Tikka XP 2

I wanted to be sure she and I both have quality lights for this event, but mainly so when we run at night we remain VISIBLE. So incredibly important for night running, or early morning running.

So we arrive good and early at the event, so my folks can get oriented in the day light, and know what to expect.

Race Start
This year you could enter the event either as a racer, or as a runner. The runners started 10 mins after the racers. During the time of registration I diddnt really plan to race the event, and I was thinking that I diddnt want to be in the way of all the racers, fighting for position on the trail. So I registered as a runner.
I think this really served me well, as I was planning for my own time improvement from last year which was 39 mins, and I planned to do it in 36.

Starting in front of the pack with the runners, gave me a fairly clear trail ahead. The first mile or more is not single track and allows for passing quite easily. Beginning on road, then gravel, then grass and all downhill so far. A lot of spreading out of runners. You dont know it but you are running along side the Roanoke River at this moment. The trail transitions from grass to trail slowly and unknowingly. Eventually you are climbing up a hill that I bet most runners would never consider in the daylight, but it's a short one (0.11m). Then a left turn onto the Endurance Loop, Intermediate loop, and finishing the last mile on the Beginner loop. Additional details of the race course HERE.

I'm glad the race ends on the Beginner loop. The Explore Your Limits 10k finishes right after you get out of the woods from the Intermediate loop, and there's a bit of a climb in that last mile. So finishing with a more simple rolling mile is nice, as you can push your pace a little.

I think that my position starting at the front of the second group (the runner group) was fairly strategic, as no one passed me, and I was passing only those that slowed greatly after getting into the woods, or the few that were in the back of the racers group.

The entire course was well decorated with glow sticks, and random flashy things. Nothing scary but it was themed for Halloween. It kept the trail exciting and fun!

Crossing the line within my goal of under 36, my time 35:22, which earned me 4th place in the age group of 20 men ages 35-39. What a successful weekend!

The post-race goodies were consistent with all Mountain Junkie events... a FEAST! Mama Maria's in Salem, VA provided pasta, while the table was full of home baked Dru's cookies, and MJ signature chocolate chip pumpkin bread, Salazon chocolate and so much more. I really need to get more pictures of the food spread out for runners after these Mountain Junkie events. If you cant run, you might as well register just to eat!

Once I was completed running and cooled down a bit, I walked back on the trail a short way and ran with Lydia in to the finish line. She improved her own time by 8 minutes!

I'm excited for my running friends Phil and Pam who really connected with their daughters at the back of the pack. In a few years I'll be remembering you as I walk with my son!

Greenway Memory Miler 10 mile

Be sure to read these blogs on this same race:
Running Nicki
Cardioholics Anonymous

Today was planned to be a special day. I've finally found myself with an opportunity to run 2 races in one day, and I'm going to do it! The Greenway Memory Miler was put on as a benefit for the local Alzehimer's Associations to help increase awareness of Alzheimer's and also to benefit Virginia Amateur Sports. (who havent had funding since 2001). I believe the event was jointly organized by the Star City Striders and Virginia Amateur Sports.

Both events were a part of the Roanoke Outdoor Circus. October 21-23, 2011. Tons of stuff going on, and I couldnt do it all.

Event Date: Saturday, October 22nd, 2011
Location: 9AM Along the Roanoke Greenway, Starting at Wasena Park, Roanoke, VA
Distances: 10mile and a 4 mile

Weather said it would be about 45 degrees at the AM.

Excitement increased as the weekend approached. Temperatures were my biggest concern.

I arrived at the GMM, Glad it was a 9AM start. My wife actually got a parking spot for her and the kids in the Wasena parking lot, but there was another large sufficient lot very close by where most people parked. Tricky thing for out of towners is that Wiley Ave, which runs through this park is often one way and it's just best to drive the normal streets in town rather than try to drive through the park. There's a good opportunity to arrive late because of this challenge.

Where's the start?
I arrived at Wasena park, picked up my registration packet, as Lydia parked, and brought the kids to the playground, which was right there at the race registration and finish line. I asked where the start was and was told "down the greenway under the bridge at the skatepark" I headed that way, and founf no one, so I came back... Realizing it was around 15 mins until race start, I headed that way again, finding no one. I asked another runner, and he was wondering the same thing. Eventually other clueless runners all gathered and figured as long as we stuck together.... So, eventually a biker who claimed to be the lead bike, and then a truck with Barry from the Striders and a microphone. Relief. But a simple sign there would have been nice, but it all worked out.

There I am at the race start chatting with others who will soon be running. Marion Childress, Jerry Ballard and Phil Settle. I'm pumping up Phil to thinking he can take this small crowd and really place in the top 3! (Read his blog Cardioholics Anonymous) I really thought he had a great chance of doing that, and he gave a great run... read about his great effort on his blog report HERE. Doug Falls even showed up to cheer on his friends.

The Course
The race is a 10mile and 4 mile.
The Greenway is a paved path commonly used by runners, walkers and bikers.
From the start on the Greenway, we soon get off the greenway for a small loop (about 1/2 mile), and then back on the Greenway for the rest of the out and back course.
The Greenway: paved, wide, flat

I'm thinking I will likely race this rather than run it. I'll start this race a little faster than I normally run, as I've not run much at all this week. (in fact none since running 8m in the rain at the Cove with Doug falls the previous Thursday) so I had fresh legs. Each mile was very well marked. I asked Marion after mile 1 what our pace was, and he said about 7:30. Much faster than I usually run. I knew I'd be slowing down, but I was happy where I was at for the moment.

Not far into the run is the turn around for the 4-mile runners.
Soon before that turn around, I'm starting to follow another runner. I like the line she is taking through the mellow turns of the Greenway. Straightening out her run, saving steps. I like that approach. I'm thinking that I recognize her from Mountain Junkie events, or some other races. When she turns around at the 4-mile turn around. I think to myself. I would have thought she was running the 10, but oh well. She's 2nd female for the 4-mile, and give her a little shout of encouragement as I pass her in opposite directions.

Later in the race, I pass her again. I'm thinking she's getting in more miles after her 4-mile race. "Hey, did you finish 2nd female?" "*!@$%*, I turned around at the 4, and wanted to run the 10!".
I'm thinking of the numerous ways that could have been prevented. By runner, and by race director and by volunteers. but anyway, I can understand her frustration and I wished it werent so.

The course continued on almost to the sewage treatment plant. Passing an older gentleman near the 10 mile turn around who was enjoying the rippling sounds from the Roanoke River and doing what looked like Tai Chi. I bet all us runners, really messed up his whatever that morning. Sorry 'bout that.

I can tell as I am approaching the turn around because of the oncoming runners. I was counting down the leaders until I got to Phil Similar to the IMTR 16m run. He was in 5th at the time, with large gaps between all top 6.

As often happens, I find myself running along side someone and I am enjoying their pace. I found this happening at about mile 4 or 5. I forget his name, I'm sorry to say but he said he runs all the Mountain Junkie events too, so I'll see him again. I stuck with him until at least mile 6. At times I felt that he was keeping me running faster than I normally would be running. but then when I made small attempts to gain on him, I felt him step it up, and I questioned if I was pulling him, or if he was pulling me?

Somewhere about this time, after the turn around, I run past the inspiring Anita Finkle. I havent talked to her at work in weeks and I diddnt know she would be here today, so I looked forward to talking with her after the race from that moment on.

We run past an on coming runner and he tells us we were 19 and 20 overall. I start thinking how sweet a top 20 finish would be. not being a real fast runner, I dont get that chance to perform well overall, and even in age group rankings, really. This was a smaller event, and as I tell others, placing all depends on who shows up to run. 

Eventually what I recall around mile 7, I pulled away from him. The sounds of his feet getting more distant, and I'm getting focused on the next 2 runners ahead of me. From here to the start I slowly gain and eventually pass those 2 runners.

I was well pleased with the result of my efforts today. I ran a 1:19:05, which is a 7:55 / M pace. I never run that fast, and if so only for 2 or 4 miles at most. This shows me what I'm capable of on a flat course.

The only problem with running that fast, is that now all road races that I enter, I've set a standard of running sub-8 minute miles. Well We'll see about that!

 The last road race I entered was the Lynchburg half and I ran at a 8:47 pace and felt strong at the end. Yet this is still a far fetch from the pace I used to run at when running 5 and 6 times a week back around 2003 and doing my first half marathons. ...and just for the record my PR for a 10 mile was set in 2005 at the Blacksburg Classic 10m at 1:16:25, a pace of 7:39. Apparently I'm not too far off!

Another successful race, and strong performance. Small talk along the course with Marion (who has been running over for 30 years) I was reminded that each year, each month, each week, each day is another opportunity to PR. Yesterday isnt going to determine today. Only this very moment will do that. Thanks Marion. Seeing you at the races over the years and seeing you run strong has been a long lasting encouragement.

Post Race
Post race while waiting for results. I enjoyed having my family there with me. Crossing the line and being greeted with kisses from them all is just priceless. I've never seen cheese cake at a race before, but it was a change of pace, though I diddnt have any. some chocolate goodies and sweets were present amongst the bananas and apples. But Panera bagels seemed to be the biggest hit. I enjoyed a few of them myself.

Age Group placing!
It has been a long time since I placed in my age group. Today I took home 2nd place in my age group. There were only 60 runners for the 10 mile. and for such a small race, I thought I had a decent chance of doing well in my age group. As humor would have it, there was only 2 people in my age group. but I'll take that medal any way! The runner just ahead of me was first in my age group, less than one second ahead of me... wish I had known that!

All along the race, I'm picking out who may be in my age group, but since I was always slowly gaining on him, I never really payed attention to him.

Honestly had I known I would make 2nd in AG regardless how I would have run, I bet I wouldnt have run so hard, but I'm glad I did. I feel like I earned it.

What I learned the most
Run hard now and then, it's OK.
I heard not long ago from a trainer that you should first run for distance before you run for speed. Since I feel like I've earned a strong foundation for distance, apparently I can run for speed at shorter distances.
Though my real running goals are to run long distances, especially 50k trail events, it is nice to run on a flat course and surprise myself with my time.

I carried no resources. I used no gels or food. I took water at every water stop except the last one. I ran in my Nike Air Pegasus 28 Breathe and new favorite Smart Wool socks. I diddnt bring headphones, and diddnt miss them either.