Sunday, April 24, 2016

Oak Island 10K

Top 3 Males Oak Island 10K
Ran a 38:52.4 last weekend at the Oak Island 10k. 3rd place overall, and 2nd male overall. Won a beautiful framed water color painting.

Colder and quite windy morning. Fortunately didn't affect the race too much- but was tough at certain sections like between miles 2 and 3 which were right into the teeth of the wind. Before the race the Chittys, me and Makayla sat in the car to stay warm after we our packets.

Ran fairly even splits. Started out at about 6:20/ mile and continued with consistent miles in the 6:10- 6:15 range. Felt strong throughout- ran by myself from about the 2 mile mark on. Top 2 finishers were about 20-25 seconds ahead of me. Felt like I was closing the gap a little the last mile and a half or so, but couldn't make up the gap that had been established early in the race.

Crossing the swamps between miles 2-3

Felt like it was a testament as well that my training is right where it should be, and is paying some dividends. Especially the aerobic runs, and some of the lactate threshold runs that I've been incorporating more into my training plan.

Put down a 65 mile week this past week. Which included 20 miles on the Ashley High School track for Relay for Life. Longest run, and highest weekly mileage total since the end of last summer.

The Cape Fear Flyers track season has started as well. Which has kept me busy putting together a staff of 20-25 coaches, and preparing for my job as head long distance coach. Got in some harder 600m intervals on grass and dirt with some of the older kids Wednesday night. We'll be back at the track starting tomorrow night

Happy running, racing, and training all!  Enjoy the process-

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Into April

Post run- our last off season workout

4 straight 60+ weeks. Feeling good.

Looking forward to racing a 10K next Saturday morning at Oak Island. Goals are to be sub 40 (ideal goal sub 39), and place in the Top3 Males.

Getting ready for Track & Field season. Have a parents and coaches meeting this Monday evening. Been working with head coach Shawn to put together a staff of 15-20 coaches, and hoping for close to 100 kids.

Decided to donate a full scholarship for one athlete in honor of my Mom. Hope it can become an annual thing. Shawn told me of a HS Junior in Brunswick County if need of, and deserving one. So here goes.

Last off-season run was Saturday morning. Ran primarily with Owen, Cian, and Isiah- we got in 8+ miles and they were flying at the end. Paxton and Riley ran 7.5 miles- for Riley that is the farthest she has ever run without walking. Also Zach was racing the mile downtown while we were running in the Carolina Beach State Park. He ran a 5:28 on a road course that is not flat- and on a windier morning. Feel like the goal of the off-season program has been met. That several of our kids are in good shape heading into the start of the season.

As for me been getting more aerobic running and some lactate threshold mileage as well. Ran 4 x 1200m Tuesday evening w/ a 400m run/ rest- though keeping the recovery pace at a decent pace, not a slow jog. Concept (recovery not slow) picked up from the Jay Johnson fartlek type workout where alternates between hard (say 10K pace) running, with the recovery staying up at a steady state type pace (say 1/2 marathon+).

Thursday evening went 11.5 miles total. 1.5 mile easy warm-up, followed by my 10 mile CB- North end loop. Worked the pace down til at miles 5 and 6 I was running low 7s. Then ran the next 3 miles at lactate threshold, averaging about 6:20- 6:25/ mile. Tough- solid, draining work-out. But again reminding myself during the harder grind to run fast, but in control.

Followed that with a 10+ mile run Friday evening in 1:21. Closed the last 2 miles in the 6:50s/ mile. Sort of a medium- hard run on tired legs, to kind of gauge recovery fitness and see where I'm at in terms of work load and its effects on overall fitness.  Something I like to do on occasion when I feel I'm in better shape, and/or getting close to a down or reduced mileage period. Which I plan on doing next week.

Saturday morning another 11 miles, 3 + 8 miles with the Flyers kids and fellow coaches- all on the trails of the CB State Park. Then capped the week with 13 miles running with Amie on roads and trails.

Happy running and training my friends, keep challenging yourself-

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Grinding it Out

Post run in the Carolina Beach State Park

Into April we roll. Just completed the 3rd of 4 planned weeks of 60+ miles per week. 61, 62, 63; and god willing another 60-65 this upcoming week.

Long run today with Amie- 15 miles. All over Pleasure Island, mostly on the roads. Averaged a low 9 minute per mile pace, which is a bit faster than the previous 2 long runs we have done of 17 miles where we averaged about mid 9 minutes/ mile. Not to say that pace on those longs run is highly important-it's more one of those things as a data freak runner I notice and make note of.

Overall I feel pretty good physically and spiritually. Have adjusted well to the increase in work load, though I have decreased the ancillary work some. When grinding out the mileage one must adhere to the daily discipline of not only getting out the door to get the runs in, but the uptick in the lengths of runs each day.  As I have been staying true to one of my goals which is to obtain all (for now) of my mileage thru singles, or by running only once per day.

The concept I read about in the book Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear. And I also have touched upon in previous blogs. In a nutshell, the theory is that there are larger fitness gains by running longer daily runs, as opposed to segmenting the mileage by doing 2 a days on some days of the week. IE if I want to get 12 miles in it's better to run one run of 12 miles (which can include any kind of workout within said mileage), than say running 7 miles in the morning and 5 miles in the evening.

Though once weekly mileage totals hit certain higher levels it becomes increasingly difficult to get the week's totals all via singles

Anyhow- also getting a fair amount of aerobic capacity/ development runs in. Last Wednesday I ran 10 miles in 1:09, after a quick one mile warm up. First mile was in the low8s, after which I brought the pace down into the mid/ high 6 minute/ mile range for the last 7 miles of the 10. Felt pretty strong-was a solid, steady, workmanlike effort. Pace did slip back up the last 2 miles to about the 6:50 range. Also consciously aware of running fast/ hard but in control- a concept explained in further detail on Nate Jenkins' blog (see my website list). He talks about how the best runners can run very fast but do so in a manner where they are shall we say making it look easy, since they are not out of control.

Friday evening ran 11 miles total. On the inner island trails and on my normal route to Kure Beach and back. After 5 miles at about an 8 minute/ mile pace, I put down the next 3 miles at fast lactate threshold, or approximate 10k pace. 6:20/ mile. Again, felt fairly strong and efficient while doing so-but working hard and concentrating on the not so easy task at hand. That's one thing I have always appreciated about running fast- is that it sharpens my focus singularly on what I am literally doing moment to moment for the most part. Since if my mind starts to drift too much, my pace usually will follow and fall off.

Last 2 Saturdays ran 8 miles on the Carolina Beach State Park trails with some of the Flyers kids I coach, and some of my fellow coaches and parents. Excited for the beginning of Track and Field season in a few short weeks. A couple of our athletes who have been diligently training this off season are poised to have great seasons. In the words of coach Joe Lancaster "giddy-up!"

Happy running and happy spring all!  Lets all keep on doing what we are doing, and be grateful while enjoying the ride...

Monday, March 21, 2016

March Training

Warm weather here in southeastern North Carolina the past week. Nonetheless, got some quality runs and workouts in.

Last Tuesday a meandering 12+ mile run mostly off road on the inner island trails and the Carolina Beach State Park trails. Slow to moderate pace and effort throughout the run, which included 2 x my hill circuit by Sugarloaf hill in the state park. Good cumulative fatigue by the end of the run, especially since 90%+ was on soft surfaces.

Wednesday evening put down 10 miles on the road course I use on Pleasure Island. 3 mile warm up (though by the 3rd mile I had dropped the pace down to 7:09/mile), followed by a 10k at steady state pace, and a short cool down. Averaged about 6:40/ mile, and was quite pleased and a bit pleasantly surprised by how the workout developed. Felt like I could have gone a little faster, and run a little longer without straining myself too much on the exertion scale. Though I did work fairly hard and was drained by the end of.

Friday ran 17 miles with Amie. Mix of roads and CB State Park trails. Probably about 65% roads/ 35% trails. Averaged around a 9:30/ mile pace. Longest run I have done since last July/ August. Legs held up pretty well, did have some more reoccurring pain in my inner right leg above the ankle, which I now think might be plantar fasciitis. Haven't had a visit from that particular sneaky devil in quite a long time. Mentally the run went ok, did struggle a bit in the middle miles with the all too familiar thoughts of how far we still had to run miles wise. Long runs still can be a bit of a challenge for me, and I sometimes need to adopt a better mindset I think going in to- though not quite sure of what specifically I should change.

But as runners we all have our weaknesses. Plus I have become re-invigorated not on only by doing, but reading again about the implicit importance of regular long runs in any runner's weekly and monthly training schedules. Whether or not one has a long race on the race calendar or not.

Thursday and Saturday were easy/ recovery runs that including striders. Ended the week with 61 miles- highest total also since last summer.

Monday celebrated my 42nd birthday by running 42 laps on the UNC Wilmington track with my good friend Colin (was his idea, and I jumped at). 2 miles warm-up, followed by alternating "on" and "off" 400s for 26 more laps, or 6.5 miles. The "on" laps we started at 1:40, and slowly progressed down to where the last 2 where run at 1:20, and 1:15. Again, good cumulative fatigue in the workout, and again was happy with how I felt, in that the "on" 400s didn't seem too difficult until the last 3 or so. Concluded with 8 more laps or 2 miles to bring the total to 10.5 miles, 42 laps. Happy birthday to me!

Hope everyone's running and training is going well as we head into springtime. Happy running!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lo Tide 5K

Start line. Beautiful morning in coastal NC

5Ks are brutal tests of speed and endurance.  We redline early on- our only respite is the finish line. If it were a boxing match, the challenge would be to not hit the mat.  Inside the maelstrom, our running psyches have to find a way to pull our fallible bodies to safe port. The only way- is forward.

Seconds tick by as we near the end like unforgiving reminders of our limitations as runners. Stand there and count to ten- it doesn't seem long, but to us athletes striving to squeeze every ounce out of our legs, arms, and hearts- it's an eternity.  The margins of error are strikingly infinitesimal.

Pacing, splits, when to pass, when to kick. Don't go out too fast. But don't leave anything in the tank. Jolly good fun.

I ran the 12th annual LoTide 5K race in my hometown Carolina Beach, NC this past Saturday. Finished with a time of 18:55.9, 5th place overall, and 1st in the 40-44 AG. The Cape Fear Flyers team that I was a member of won the team title, beating 30 other entrants.

Flyers team celebrating post-race

Several of the kids I coach had awesome races. Paxton was the 3rd place overall F with a time of 21:15- not too shabby for a 7th grader!  Zac set his 2nd consecutive PR with a time of 19:32 (he's only in 7th grade as well). Our Flyers athletes won the 9-U AG male and female, as well as 10-14 AG male and female.

Each year I get excited/ nervous for this race since it is on my home turf. There's something electric, and stimulating about racing on the very roads that I do a lot of my everyday runs on. Or it's almost surreal-  covering the same terrain in an actual competitive foot race, which I've become so infinitely familiar with the past decade or so.

Flying by the same yards and houses and dogs all there exactly like they were the day before, and the day before- but today it's so wildly different. My senses are heightened and finely tuned. I see it all and I know it all so well- though I don't really see any of it on a race day. But it's so engrained inside of me that visual confirmations are not necessary.

The leprechauns and ferries and Irish dandies all there again too. It's a party. We celebrate St. Paddy's Day a little early. We raise tens of thousands of dollars for those tender souls afflicted by the scrooge of cancer. Later that afternoon my Dad tells me he thought of my Mom just before the race started. She lost her life to cancer, but man did she fight. Just as hard as us runners fight to be the best versions of our running selves on this particular day.

Like I told my friend and fellow coach Elaine post race- I feel so blessed and grateful after each of these races at our tiny little outpost in the world. Blessed and grateful not only that I can run and participate in an activity that I love, but that I am able to share in the joy, tears, sweat, pain of all those around me for one more glorious day.

My goofy self at the awards ceremony

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Dumb Run?


Perhaps. I set out late afternoon Wednesday to run about 8 miles, with little thought of doing any of it at a harder effort. To put in context: this week is to be an easier week volume and intensity wise. I'm coming off a 5k race last Saturday and a good stretch of work-outs and increased volume, plus am racing another 5k this Saturday that I'd like to run as fast as possible for my current fitness level.

Anyhow, long story short it was of the nicest days we've had here in southeastern NC perhaps all year. The quintessential wow it feels like spring out chamber of commerce weather. And a few miles into the run I found myself laying down a 7:10/ mile. Ended up running 4 harder miles (for once I got going I just couldn't stop right?), and feeling a bit whooped afterwards. Not only physically, but mentally as well in lieu of my transgressions.

Then again, what does one run really matter?  Probably not a whole hell of a lot. Plus I'm not trying to peak for this race, and overall I'm pleased with where my training is. So I was able to let go of my minor folly rather quickly, and enjoy a short cool down walk on beach.

This morning I ran 3.5+ miles which included 5 x 150 in/ outs. Priming the pump for tomorrow's Lo-Tide race. Legs felt responsive, almost a bit scary so. Like most amateur athletes, I have my superstitions and believe in jinxes.

We shall see tomorrow. I've got a bunch of race bibs and T-shirts to distribute to some fellow coaches and kids. God I love race stuff!  A pile of crisp bibs, new race Ts, a plastic bag of safety pins.....
In less than 24 hours we all jump into the breach-

Monday, March 7, 2016

Cardinal Strut 5K

Heading down the final stretch to the finish line

Ran the Cardinal Strut 5K in Wilmington on Saturday. Time was 18:52, placed 4th overall out of about 200 runners, and won top Masters award.

Was pleased with the effort, though was hoping my time would have been a little bit faster. Splits were good: 6:04, 5:55, 5:57.  But somehow (poor tangents run?) ended up at 18:52. Nonetheless, was an enjoyable morning spent competing on the Cape Fear Flyers team, composed of me and a couple fellow coaches and kids.

Two of which, Zach and Paxton set their respective 5K PRs in the race. Was stoked for both of them. Not only are they talented young runners, but they are fine upstanding young people as well.  I continue to look forward to seeing their careers unfold.

A fairly cold morning greeted us athletes pre-race. However by the time the guns went off for the 10 and 5Ks, the temperatures, buoyed by sunny skies, had climbed into the 40s. Took off a long sleeve shirt I was wearing moments before the start, and raced in what is becoming a favorite get up of mine of a short sleeve T-shirt and gloves. Wore my Saucony Kineta Relays that I have been for the last few road races, though did swap out the yellow shoelaces for black ones. Hence black on black (shoes are black).

Felt fairly strong throughout the race. A gap opened early between me and the 3 runners ahead who would finish 1st though 3rd. So ran by myself from about a 1/2 mile in, save for some of the 10K runners that I passed.

Was my first 5K in about 3 months, and I never fail to be reminded while in the middle of its agonizing roar, just how hard and painful they are. 5Ks become an exercise in maintaining. Maintaining focus, maintaining will power, maintaining pace. Showing courage in the face of adversity. Hoping that the running Gods will help me fight thru the inevitable temptation to just slow up a bit. Counting off blocks, tenths of miles. Finally getting within ear shot of the finish line area. Making visual contact with the spectators. Seeing the clock.

All of which I did.

A friend asked me the night before if I have any pre-race rituals. Instead of answering in terms of training or diet, I responded on a spiritual note.  I remind myself how blessed I am to be able to compete the next day. How blessed I am to be able to participate with other like minded beautiful people in an activity which I and countless others truly love. And to hopefully never take any of this for granted. For life can change as fast as the precious numbers ticking off on a finish line clock.

Enjoy being able to run and compete my running friends -

Flyers family celebrating post-race

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Snapshot - training.

Post long run. Me, Amie, Peyton

Good stretch of running, specifically work-outs completed.

2/18: Track meet. Hoggard High School.  800m 2:25, 1600m 5:35

2/20:  Run for Ray Trail Race: 8+ miles, 61:00+.  Hard race effort, moderately technical trails, lot of small hills and turns.

2/23: 4.3 steady state effort on Fitness Trail (7:25, 7:08, 6:59, 6:32).  Legs recovering from Ray+ windy/ rainy morning.

2/26: Progression run. 20 min w/u. 20/10/5/5 minutes at progressively harder effort and faster pace. Last 5 minutes at mid 6 min/ mile pace. 15 min c/d. 9.7 miles

2/28: 16.2 mile run. 8:21 pace. Southern Brunswick County. 3/4+ of run on soft surfaces (mostly grass) side of roads.

2/29: 9 miles, mostly Carolina Beach State Park Trails. 2 x 1 mile hill circuit. 5 x :25 striders at < 5k pace.

3/2: 4.7 miles steady state roads Carolina/ Kure Beach. (6:38, 6:41, 6:52, 6:38, 6:45 (pace)). Last 2.7+ miles into 10+ mph wind.

Overall, I feel pretty good. Legs have a fair amount of pop in them. Slowly increasing mileage. Averaging 1st 2 months of 2016 43+ mpw.  Health is pretty good. Some on and off pain inside right leg above ankle. Occasional discomfort returns in left achillies tendon and bottom of right foot.

Solid core work, and some upper body strength work. Consistent general strength and mobility work post runs. Lunge matrix+ leg swings most pre-run

Diet: Pretty good.  Am trying to cut back on sugar.

Mental outlook: Excited about training. Feel energized with how training philosophy has evolved to where it is today. Increased emphasis on aerobic and long runs. Dilligence and attention to ancillary work especially gsm and core. Looking forward to Flyers track season and coaching long distance team.

Upcoming races: Cardinal Strut 5k this Sat and Lo-Tide 5k next Saturday. Not focused too much on specific times.  Looking forward to racing with/on Cape Fear Flyers teams.

Happy, healthy running and training my friends- May you enjoy the journey you are on.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Run for Ray trail races

Amie, Greg, Makayla celebrating their respective 2nd place finishes

Had the pleasure of once again competing this year in the Run for Ray Trail races at Brunswick Nature Park in Winnabow, NC. I ran in the 9 mile race and finished 2nd overall, and was awarded a super cool, artisan made skate deck (see photo above). These hand painted decks are arguably the most unique and coveted race prizes in the Wilmington area. Blessed to have been able to run, and race a solid race.

Close to 300 athletes converged on the back-woods rural park last Saturday morning to test their trail running mettle out on either the 3, 9, or 18 mile courses.  Was a beautiful day, with start time temperatures nearing 60 degrees under sunny skies, with light breezes. Contrast that to years past where I and others have been huddled in our respective vehicles to stay warm, and/or dry until moments before it was time to run.

Run for Ray is annually one of my favorite races to attend. Not only because it is a unique, picturesque trail race, but the proceeds go directly to the Ray Underhill Foundation, which helps cancer patients and their families. Ray was a professional skate boarder who lost his life to chordoma cancer several years ago. Hence the awards, which are only given to the top 3 males and females in each distance.

The 9 and 18 mile courses start out on a dirt logging road for about 1/2 mile or so before transitioning to single track trails, snaking predominately through a dense, swampy deciduous forest. Per usual, I tired to not start my race out too fast, but wanted to get ahead of most of the assembled field before we all converged into the woods, where it's much harder to pass.

First part of the race. I'm smiling!

Once on the single track I did pass a few more of my fellow racers, while trying to settle into a comfortably hard pace that I hoped to sustain for the remaining miles. The trails are quite technical in sections... mud slicks, roots, twigs, ruts, sharp/ tight turns, little mogul like jumps, some quick/ short elevation changes. Divine fun and a challenge for sure!  Even the most gifted and experienced trail runners can take tumbles on the unforgiving terrain.

From about miles 3 thru 7 I ran with another guy right behind me. We talked a little, mostly I relayed what miles we had just finished per my garmin watch beeping, and about how pace per relative effort was skewed, and also possibly way off per gps error deep in the woods. I didn't know exactly where I was in the field (can't tell who is in 9, or 18 mile race), but figured I was close to the front and was in a pretty good position to snag a cherished board.

And I have learned, especially through race experience of late, that I tend to run my best when being hunted, as opposed to being the hunter. Periodically I could sense either visually (the trails snaked and switch-backed a lot) or audibly several runners just behind me...and in my mind they were setting me up to reel me in. This healthy, if a bit irrational fear tends to serve as an extra little jolt of motivation to help push me thru physiologically some of the inevitable rougher patches in races.

Up ahead was a solitary runner I kept trying to reel in. Slowly, painstakingly I (we) were able over the span of maybe 2 miles to close the gap up to a few precious seconds, or say 20-30 feet worth of single-track trail.  But I couldn't seem to bridge that last gap. Simultaneously I was trying to pull away and shake my new friend behind me. His breathing was quite labored at points, yet he kept hanging onto me. And I was pushing about as hard as I possibly could, fully aware that I still had to survive another 3 miles or so.

Left, right, straight, up, down, around, thru we continued to run until I heard a bounded thud behind me, which I knew instantly meant my fellow racer had fallen. I called out without looking back "you ok?" and he responded "yeah."  Right after I decided to absorb the brief shock I knew would come, and do what I needed to do to get myself in lock step behind that runner just up ahead. I figured my fallen comrade would not be able to get right up and be able to run hard enough to make it a threesome; therefore putting myself in better position as we neared the last stretches of the race.

And I turned out to be correct. Running and racing can be a bit cruel at times, but such is the nature of our beloved sport. When their is a thin margin separating us, any unforeseen turn of events must shamelessly be exploited. But if anyone of us would become seriously hurt, many a racer, myself included would stop to assist without thinking twice.

I was able to latch on, stay with and just somewhat mindlessly follow the runner in front me for the last mile or 2. At one point my garmin beeped and I called out the mile but he didn't respond, or didn't hear me. Or didn't want to know. I mentally clicked off 1/10s of a mile, each one getting me closer to the end.  His breathing sounded quite normal, like he was just cruising along so I guessed that he was in the 18 miler. However I formulated a plan to sit right off his shoulder as we got close to the final 30-40 meters, and try and out kick him to the finish line if such actions became warranted. But they did not, as I was right and he continued forth after saying good job to me (he eventually won the 18 mile race). Was happy to hear as I got close to the finish line that I was the 2nd male finisher to come back home, and out of the labyrinth of trails and vortex like woods.

Great day to run and compete, and I hope god willing to be back again next year-

Exhausted, but happy as I approach the finish


Start line: 9, 18 milers

Friday, February 19, 2016

Racing on the Track

Had the pleasure of competing in the Without Limits City Wide Winter Track meet last night.  Official times were 2:24:89 in the 800m Boys/ Adult Open race, and 5:35:55 in the 1600m Boys/ Adult Open race.

Was the first time I had run such a track double since my last track & field meet in high school, close to 23 years ago. It was arduous, a bit tortuous, and tested my physiological mettle; but I loved every minute of it. Periodically we as competitive runners and athletes need to step half blind into the breach; for it is in such tenuous, uncomfortable moments that serendipitous discoveries can sometimes be found.

Tonight I discovered that when pressed up against my current fitness limits, I did not back away from the challenge. To paraphrase one of the Flyers runners I coach who also competed, I stepped up to the line with courage and confidence, and accepted the venture at hand.

In both races I was lined up on the "pole position" or the inside of lane 1 on the waterfall start. I think perhaps this was done per age, me being the oldest entrant, and in fact 1 of only 2 adults in the 800m field. But in the 1600m race, there was a guy there in his 60s, so who knows. Nonetheless, it was somewhat amusing to me, and also slightly disconcerting at the start of the assembled 1600m field which included several young bucks considerably faster than myself.

Before any of the races got under way I took two of my Flyers charges on a warm-up run outside of the stadium. Neither of the Perry boys had ever competed in a track meet, so I discussed some basic elements of and strategies with them such as staying in lanes in the 400m versus cutting in after the 800, 1600m starts. And passing on the first piece of track running wisdom I was provided by my first track coach Dick Semmel, which is to not pass on the turns.  (I even briefly brought up centrifugal force to Isiah... though at times I think I just like the sound of my own voice).

Was a cold night too so I counseled the boys and took the advice myself to remain clothed until moments before the beginning of each of our respective races. Was glad I threw gloves in my bag at the last minute. Got in a few shorter striders with them on the infield grass before we were summoned to the start area for the 800m race.

Joe Harty was lined up by me in the 800m, I've known him on and off the past few years thru his running and helping coach at Ashley High School. He said he was aiming for a 2:15 800m; I told him that was too rich for my blood. Oh to be 20 again-

We were all commanded by the meet starter to step forward to the start line on the Set command. Those are the most mentally agonizing few seconds in the sport of's a suspended universe that doesn't conform to the natural laws normally governing us humans. Everything goes weightless and time itself stretches out real wide, like the tick of a second can be broken down in to innumerable requisite sub units. Sounds are diluted. The runner's field of vision narrows to the few feet of track directly in front of them. Somewhere in a far recess of my mind I was cognizant of not flinching over the line and false starting.

And then an instantaneous cosmic flash we are off and barreling into turn 1.

I settled into 3rd behind Joe and a younger HS age runner. And followed the two of them all around the track on the 1st lap, about 2-3 strides behind. In an 800m race there is no time to relax, or at no time in the race does one settle in to some pace that has any modicum of what could be considered "somewhat comfortable".  No, the 800m requires a perpetual hard, grinding effort which quickly throws its aspirant into some degree of oxygen debt, whereby the race becomes an anaerobic test of willpower to simply sustain pace, while trying to gobble of precious meter after meter of track.

Coming off turn 2 on lap 2 I was slowly losing contact with my two compatriots, but knew I had to keep the gap somewhat reasonable and not completely lose contact. Which I was able to do down the back stretch, as lactic acid flooded my churning legs, and the cold air threatened to burst my lungs wide open and spew pieces of my innards all over the rust colored track. The poet John Donne once wrote "no man is an island."  I can safely bet he never found himself 200m from the finish of an 800m race.

At this point each step is a laborious exercise in sustaining velocity and forward motion. The whirling rush that consumed my head for the most part of the past two minutes or so had all but it exhausted itself, starved of its own source of energy. Life itself becomes so elemental. And strikingly alluring, like a shining diamond unearthed in a sea of black mass below the earth's surface. For in that brief window of existence, all internal effort is unequivocally focused on one singular objective. And that objective is to reach the finish line.

Which I finally did. Utterly exhausted, and coughing like crazy, and unable to walk in a straight line as us finishers were moved up the track to record the results. But I was happy. Happy that I had stared into the abyss and had not blinked. Instead, I ran straight through it.

About an hour or so later I ran the 1600m. Another fairly solid and respectable effort, as I crossed the finish line in a little over 5 and a half minutes. Enjoyed watching some of the next generation of track runners challenge themselves and each other as well. Our sport is assuredly in good hands for the foreseeable future. The smiles on the faces of those I am blessed to coach paint a picture worth more words that I can write out today.

Such a gift to be able to compete, and share the journey with others young and old-

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Capping the week

Headed out on the trails
Wrapped up a 57 mile week this weekend with some runs in the Carolina Beach State Park.  Highest weekly mileage total since last August, when I was training for the Iron Mountain 30 mile ultra. Did some calculations year to date: Averaging 6.18 miles/ day. 43.2 miles / week. Which is about right where I wanted to be heading into 2016. (And per my previous blog, at this rate I would end up with 2,254 miles for the year). Ah the numbers-

Friday ran a couple harder miles, at least effort wise on the soppy trails, and in damp, windy conditions. Legs were feeling the fatigue of all the hilly miles in Pennsylvania earlier in the week, plus the 580 mile drive back on Thursday. But I always enjoy being back in the state park on such days since usually there is hardly anyone else there. And the vegetation has more of a primal, earthy look and smell to it when wet.

Saturday morning met up with some of my fellow Flyers coaches, and a few of the kids and parents. Was a cold, crisp morning with temperatures below freezing coupled with a piercing, icy wind which kicked up near the end of our hour ramble in the woods. Always look forward to getting together with most of the usual Saturday morning gang for a run.

Topped of the week running 8 miles with Amie Sunday. Part of which we ran on the roads, but the bulk of the run was done back in the State Park. Quite frigid again, and even windier than Saturday. Swampy parts of the park, and spots where this is still standing water was all iced over, something one doesn't see too often around here.

Have been experiencing a little pain above my inner ankle on right leg. Even iced it a few times Friday, and have also found that some light stretching in what looks like some kind of yoga pose (right leg straight, with back leg flailed out, and I reach down towards planted foot with right arm, while holding left arm out for balance) has helped. Hoping its just a minor "hot spot", as knock on wood I have been running fairly pain free in 2016.

Getting the 'ol rumble in the belly excitement for some upcoming races, first of which will be this Saturday, the Run for Ray 9 mile trail race in Brunswick Nature Park. A few of our Flyers kids raced Saturday afternoon, a 5k in Carolina Beach as did coach Amie. And we continue to prepare for the upcoming Track & Field season.

Run on my friends-

Friday, February 12, 2016

Quick trip home to PA

Bundled up and loving the snow

Went back to my hometown of Lehighton, Pennsylvania for a few days this week. Lived the life of a running Spartan, as I stayed for 3 nights in an unfurnished apartment which my friend Paul owns. But the world outside the front door is my running oyster, and I took full advantage of a break at work, and the hospitality offered to get in a whole bunch of hilly, snowy, and cold miles in.

Late Monday after the 8.5 hour drive up I met Ryan by the old high school. (A few days later he texted it was like meeting up in 1991 for XC practice, since that's about where we would gather beforehand). We got in about 5 miles crisscrossing through town, and also through the current high school grounds where we stopped to look at the construction of the new football field, and all weather track.

I noticed and remarked how it's only 6 lanes, except on the front stretch where the sprints would be run there are the customary 8 lanes. Also ran through the big cemetery off of 4th street. Ironic since I seem to run through it often when I'm home, and Ryan said he has a knack for, and enjoyment of running thru cemeteries as well.  I joked at one point we should be carrying an Army Track flag with us. (we were teammates from 3rd- 8th grade on Army)

Had shucked my long pants before the run after some debate, and my legs ended up being half frozen by the end of the run. Would be the last run I did up there in shorts. We talked about how we are both data and numbers junkies with running, and log all the miles we do. Both of us always calculating things like average distance per day, then multiplying by 365 to get a snapshot of how many miles in the year we'd end up with at such rate. He also looks back at specific days and runs done the year before, and sometimes will duplicate on the exact date the following year. And of course compare. I told him I have yearly logs saved from the last 7 or 8 years.

Tuesday and the running and nature gods blessed me with some light snow. Headed into the Mahoning Heights up Beaver Run Road, after a loop through town which included the Ochre Street hill (see pic below). It had been several years since my last run in the snow, and I figuratively speaking had a grin ear to ear the entire run.

Up in the heights I fell almost into a trance enjoying the tranquil and serene beauty of the snow sticking to the trees, and lightly blanketing parts of the road. It was one of those runs that I felt completely blessed to be right where I was at that particular moment in time. I would not have traded it for anything else. I was in my own little snow globe- kid like in the joy I was feeling in my heart. And I ran on, up and down the hills I have run on innumerable occasions in this lifetime of mine. My thoughts reflected for a moment on the writings of Emmit Fox, how he states that the only thing that matters is to get our present thoughts correct.

During my runs, and also at times when driving I like to look at the distant ridge lines. And think about how perhaps in a few miles I will be on top of, and/ or catch site of the next ridge line and think about how I did a run last year that took me all the way up and over that particular hillside or small mountain. Some of the views I get while running in PA are just stunning, as I make my way on foot up and down ridgelines which parallel each other in areas, and also slope down towards the valleys where the Lehigh River, or Mahoning Creek flow through.

Such as when I was coming down Jamestown Road and descending off a ridge towards the Lehigh River, I was presented a spectacular view of the mountain dusted in snow that is perpendicular to where I was, beginning just on the other side of the river. Each day, each run, each summit opens up new vistas. It never fails to fully capture my imagination. Sometimes I like to try and find contour maps to look at online as well.

Went for another long run Wednesday morning. 2 hours, or 13.7 miles. Purposely sought out and ran up as many hills as I could, including 4th, 7th, and 9th streets in town. Got back earlier on the run past the Ukranian Homestead (or the Ukes as we call it). Have to always hit Spring Hill at least once when I'm home. My watch just happened to roll over to a new mile half way up, and I observed how my pace went from 8 something per mile, to 14, 15 something per mile on the crazy steepness that makes Spring Hill the little monster that she is.

Had a flashback to early in the season high school track practices when all the athletes would have to do the Ukes run, and how one coach would always park and be at the bottom of Spring Hill (Mr. Brophy?), and another coach would be waiting at the top of the hill (Mr. Bisbing?)

I'm like a surfer chasing after the waves out here, and it's why I love to come back up to my old home and run, run, run. And run some more. I dig the highs, and there is something out here which fills up my running soul, something I can only get on those hills, ridgelines, and valleys. (And come better weather, the woods and innumerable trails).

I hope all my running friends can find their happy places as well-

View back up Ochre Street

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A couple pleasant runs

Somewhere off River Road near Wilmington, NC
Friday ran 11+ miles in the Shallotte vicinity . Came up with a new route which took me out the back way of my Dad's neighborhood, then to the Copas Road loop. Added in the mile or so long nature walk along the small lake which borders a golf course about a mile or so from the Atlantic Inter-coastal Waterway. Looked for gators as I ran beside the waters, but figured they are all buried under mud and hibernating at this time of year. I'll see a few of them I imagine again next summer. Did startle a few ducks.

Stayed mostly off to the side of the road in the grass/ mud as I am wont to do on the country roads I run near my Dads. Easier on the legs as I've written about, and it's easier to avoid become a tragic causality of traffic, which tends to sail especially along Copas Road.

Started out a fairly benign and comfortable pace, before winding it down into the mid 7s/ mile range consistently after the 1st 3 miles. Felt much better than I did Wednesday, both physically and mentally. Enjoyed the challenge of maintaining the effort and pace as the miles ticked off one after the other through the slightly rolling countryside. Finished fairly strong at a mid/ hi 6 min/ mile pace the past quarter to half mile.

Saturday morning met up with my Cape Fear Flyers clan (see picture above) to run on some new trails (on and off road) that my fellow coach and friend Peyton recently discovered. Got close to 6 miles in on a chillier, raw morning. Ran the last 2 with Riley, and helped her achieve a PR for the longest distance she had ever run. She was thrilled, and I was happy for her... and felt like I was right where I was supposed to be running wise at that given moment in time.

Sunday and heavy rains/ wind swept in from off the coast, forcing me to cancel my weekly long run with Amie. One of the good things is when as a runner I'm not on a specific schedule, training for an upcoming long race like a marathon.  And can afford to ditch a workout due to circumstances beyond my control, such as the weather.

Plan to head north up to the homestead in Pennsylvania Monday. Run wise looking forward to traipsing the well shod grounds I have become so infinitely familiar with again the past several years. Hitting the hills while bundling up in the cold. Revisiting other places on foot like the towpath that I've run/ walked/ fished along since I was a young kid. Places that are much more than pieces of land... they get inside of us and become pieces of our running souls.

Until then-

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A "Bad" Run

Some days we just don't have it.  From what could be a combination of factors, we are unable to run how we would like to run. Perhaps we can't go fast enough, or far enough, or long enough. It's just not there. But I have also learned through experience a few things. First and foremost, it's ok. In fact it can be a blessing in disguise, since the particular run affords us the opportunity to look at our training with fresh eyes, and perhaps see either mistakes we may be making, or find aspects of our overall training that we can improve on. Second, if we run long enough we'll come to the realization many times over of the inevitability of having "bad" days. And can minimize and accept them as such.

This happened to me yesterday. My plan was to run 3 miles at an easier, warm-up pace, then run 25 minutes at a steady state pace somewhere around 6:40-6:45.  I must point out too, that I use the McMillan calculator on Coach Greg McMillan's website to calculate paces such as steady state to use in not only my own workouts, but of those I personally coach as well. Simply enter a recent race time like a 5k, and it will spit out pace ranges to run at for everything from 200 meter intervals to recovery runs.

For steady state runs (which as an approximation pace wise is what one would run if they raced all out between about 1 hour+ to 2 hours+) I find it a bit amusing that such pace is termed as "easy medium" on the chart. Since I have never found said pace range to be "easy medium" when attempting to run. Though one may argue that this could also be indicative of where my strengths and weaknesses lie as a runner. If I find such pace "harder" to sustain, then this type of running is a weakness for me; whereas I tend to be able to handle speed-work type paces a little better than the average competitive runner. As a good friend and runner once advised, always work on your weaknesses.

Yesterday was also an usually warm and humid morning for mid winter here in southeastern North Carolina as I set out to do my workout on the Copas Road loop by my Dad's house in Shallotte. I enjoy the 8.5 mile course, since a good bit of it winds through country roads which remind me somewhat of where I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. (save for the absence of big hills).

After 3 miles at an 8+ minute per mile pace, I upped the tempo considerably as I began the steady state portion of the run. But I could tell a couple tenths of a mile later that the effort I was exerting as evidenced by my breathing, was not equating to a corresponding pace which I needed in order to do what I wanted to do. Or, it was too much harder than it should be to even get down under 7 minutes/ mile pace.

I did manage to gut out 2 miles at a hi 6:40s pace before I decided to amend the run. I have learned too, and have written about before, that some days we have to cut our losses and re-focus on making the best of the situation. It is better to get part of a work-out or run in, then to blow up in the face of adversities we feel we cannot overcome on a given day. In this case too, my soaked thru T-shirt was a clue that it was much more humid than I had anticipated, and I had made no effort to adjust accordingly. After a short rest and easy jog I added in 2x 1/2 mile at about 6:20 pace, with a 1/4 mile easy recovery jog in between. So all told, I still managed to get 3 harder paced miles in.

Of course there are days and workouts where it's essential that we do attempt to smash through the wall. This is something a bit intuitive, and subjective... and there are no definitives as to what days workouts fall into either category. Personally, I look at my own training holistically, and in relation to goals and /or upcoming races. As a general rule of thumb, I would be more apt to concede a workout such as yesterday when I have been running fairly well overall, and may be best benefitted by "saving it for another day."

Had a pleasant 5 mile run with my Dad the day before on the Brierwood Loop. It is good to see him running healthy, and enjoying getting out and getting some miles in. The last 2 days also served to remind me how lucky and fortunate I, and we are in the most primal and simplistic sense when we can lace up our shoes and head out the door. For every "bad" run is also a precious gift.

For I hope I never forget the times I would've seemingly given everything in this world for just one more chance to get outside and go for any run... no matter how fast, slow, long, short, good, or bad it may have ended up being.

Enjoy each day of this wonderful journey we are on my friends-

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Winter rolls On

Cold trail run in the Carolina Beach State Park

Been staying consistent with running throughout January, despite dealing with a head and sinus cold the past week and a half. Mileage is right where I would like it to be: 4 weeks averaging about 40 miles per week, and transitioning up to closer to 50 miles per week as we move into February. Also, and perhaps most important is that I am running relatively pain free. Some slight discomfort at times (especially when its damp or colder) in my left Achilles, and/ or bottom of right foot. But for the most part it is all systems a go. Which is such a relief not only physically, but mentally in my overall approach to and appreciation for the nuances of the every day run. And hopefully a lesson learned, for a second time. Do not keep running on worn out shoes, not matter how much I like the feel of them.

2 staples of the past month of running have been the Sunday long run, and the harder midweek 10 mile run. Did 14 miles last time out, and plan to progress up the next 3 long runs to 15, 16, 17 miles. Feel like it's an aspect of my running that I have neglected somewhat in the past. Or was only making it a regular part of training plan when targeting and working towards specific longer distance races, like the 30 mile ultra I completed last September. Now I am doing more so for the inherent benefits of such runs; the increase in capillary development and oxygen transport efficiency, and what I have learned of late, the utilization of fast twitch muscles which occurs late in long runs over say 1:30- 2:00.

Last week I gutted out my 10 miler in the midst of the worst of the cold symptoms I was experiencing. Was pleasantly surprised by the effort I was able to put forth, though it totally wiped me out afterwards. Finished the road loop on the island in 1:12:23, which included several miles fighting with a persistent head wind.

Yesterday I completed the course in the fastest time yet, 1:10:44 which equates to a 7:04/ mile pace. Held back a bit the first few miles, in order to kind of experiment to see if by doing I would have another gear or two available later in the run. Which I was happy to find out was the case (was also coming off a decent effort the night before running a hill circuit twice in the CB State Park, but didn't want to wait until the day after to run the 10 miler per the weather forecast). Instead of running miles 5 through 10 in the low 7 minutes/ mile range per usual, I was able to crank out those miles in the 6:45- 6:50 range, except for mile 7 which was into the teeth of a decent northerly breeze.

Saturday mornings been meeting up with some of the Cape Fear Flyers kids I coach, as well as a few parents and fellow coaches. Last Saturday was freezing cold (see picture above) with temperatures around 30 degrees, combined with 20 mph winds. I don't even want to know what the wind chill was.

Staying true to and sticking with the ancillary work. Have added in weightless squats and calve raises to the myrtle routine after runs. Diligently attacking my core work, and some push-ups and free weights. Perhaps it's just my imagination, but certain times in runs I can tangibly feel some benefits especially in the mid section of my body as I move forward. It's as if it's being held together a little more tighter, or there is less wasted motion or deviation from the plain of propulsion my body is running forward in. Anyhow... I'll take it.

Happy Winter Running all-

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Deep Thoughts by Greg Z

Sometimes the run silences the ambient noise of the day. Some days it provides temporary shelter from the storms of living; a safe port in the harbor. When I lace up my shoes I become the person that I want to be, my best side is put forward.

I slip into another world. Perhaps, it's the challenge of running a hard 10 miler. Or doing a hill circuit multiple times. Or completing a long run. Or keeping the pace nice and easy on a recovery run.

The environment around me comes alive. I'm keenly aware of even the slightest atmospheric changes; an increase in wind speed, a slight drop in temperature, the movement of clouds in relation to the sun. And it's revealed thru clues in the vegetation; the sounds the wind makes whistling thru the tree tops. A chill felt on the back of my neck. The disappearance of shadows on an asphalt road.

Time, as measured by clocks and wristwatches and cell phones loses it's hold on me. The words of the poet William Blake come alive; "time is a tyranny to be abolished."  Time becomes something that is now quantified in relation to distances and speeds run.

Thoughts tend to flow smooth and easy like they are surfing the waves in the ocean. Other times there is silence, whereby a small raindrop falling onto the surface of smooth glassy pond might cause me to momentarily jump.

After an hour or so out here things are always better. The vicissitudes of the toils we inevitably face lose their sharp edges, and become a bit softer to the touch. The roller coaster may not be grounded, but we are also not hanging onto the rails with clenched fists.

I become spiritually plugged in. I marvel at the beauty of nature; like witnessing a painting on a scroll slowly unwinding before my eyes. Some days I contemplate God. Some days I know God exists, because I feel touched in places deep inside of me that I cannot fully comprehend. I'm grateful, and feel blessed.

And I hope and pray my fellow runners can feel the same way-

Friday, January 22, 2016

Survival Run

Pre- run in the Carolina Beach State Park Visitor's Center

Had the pleasure of coming up with and marking 2 courses for the annual Wilmington Road Runners Club Survival run last weekend. Laid out a 4.5 mile route, and a 9 mile route that utilized most the Carolina Beach State Park trails. Over 75 club members turned out; impressive considering it rained and was in the 40s. Afterwards, we all feasted on a full catered breakfast. A good time was had by all, even though many a runner got lost on the trails in the park. (which I took some good natured ribbing for). Many thanks for the hospitality shown to us not only last Sunday, but year round by the State Park. Great race place to run, and enjoy nature.

Eating breakfast afterwards

Me, checking to see if any runners were left on the trails


Monday, January 11, 2016

Getting to work in 2016

Started planning already for the 2016 Cape Fear Flyers Club track season. Had a Board Meeting Tuesday night at one of my fellow coaches' homes. Two of my roles are to put together a coaching staff, and oversee our nascent off-season running and fitness program. I've come to see how being a coach with the Club is an essence a 365 day per year role, similar (but on a much smaller scale) to how for instance, college football coaches are always representing their programs. Or to state another way, we never fully take off our "Coach hat" in our respective endeavors.

We had our first off-season work-out Saturday morning at the Carolina Beach State Park Fitness Trail. The day began blanketed in a grey, cloudy and misty shroud which trapped some cold air on the island. I put on a long sleeve shirt, beanie and gloves to start the run... but twenty, thirty minutes later the sun burned off the gloomy fog and quickly sent temperatures soaring through the fifties and into the sixties. I and the others shucked off gear and clothes as we ran. Again, was such a beautiful, warm day for wintertime.

Ran and talked with Cian. He said he has a goal this year to run 500 miles, and is keeping track of all his runs and cumulative mileage totals. Great goal for a 7th grader. His kid brother Isiah wants to break the state 2K course record this fall in XC, though he was unsure of what the time is. Their younger sister Lily who's 7, ran 2 consecutive laps (2.1 miles) with her Mom on the trail without stopping, and chatted happily away about the different flavored chap sticks she has. Zac, his Dad Paul, me and the brothers got in 5 laps, or about 5.25 easier miles. Next Saturday we all agreed to meet back in the actual CB State Park.

Got a 12 mile long run in Sunday morning with Amie. Ran down towards Kure Beach through the inner island trails, then back in the State Park on a mix of trails and roads. She was struggling in the latter stages, but would not be deterred from hitting the goal mileage. It's healthy as runners to get humbled at times, or to be again reminded that in running it wont always be handed to us, no matter how much talent we have. All I have to do along these lines is think back to the Iron Mountain 30 miler last Labor Day weekend... which nearly beat me into the dust. I emphatically knew after that day that I did not have all the answers...

Two straight 40 mile weeks for me. Plan to up the mileage some this week, and spend a good bit of time back on the CB State Park trails, setting up courses for the annual Wilmington Road Runners Survival run and breakfast this coming Sunday.

Hope everyone's 2016 is off to a promising start-

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Beauty on the Run

I was running back through the inner island trails as I call them, (which are over grown dirt roads that connect to several drainage ponds on the uninhabited middle part of Pleasure Island) past sunset Wednesday evening when I was struck again by the natural beauty of my surroundings. There was just enough daylight left to make out my footing, and the atmosphere had almost a deep purplish grey hue to it, as I made my way back to the asphalt roads. The silhouette of bare deciduous trees ahead, standing apart from the dark, shadowy woods on either side of me made me feel like I was gliding through a painting, hung on some gallery wall, that no one else could see.

Been reading Thomas Merton. He writes about the idea that sometimes works of art, in this case poetry, can touch parts of us deep inside that are beyond our ability to actually communicate in language the feelings evoked. Similar to the mysticism we may feel when in communion through prayer and or meditation with God.  At times like the run on Wednesday I feel like I catch a glimpse into this aesthetic realm...whereby the things around and what is inside of me melt into one. And where conventions such as language begin to fail me...or as Merton would state, we actually dilute the experience through words or symbols.

Monday evening I ran a hard 10 miler on the roads. Want to start incorporating more medium to longer runs, some at a harder pace. Finished reading Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear, who spends an XC season with the University of Colorado and coach Mark Whetmore. Coach Whetmore has his runners do a lot of longer distance runs, and many are at steady state type paces. Plan to run 12 miles on Sunday, which is an additional mile added onto my last long run New Years Day. Idea is to keep adding a mile per week.

Felt pretty good Monday night; finished the run in high 1:13s which pleasantly surprised me. Was a cold and windy night with temperatures in the 30s, and wind chills in the 20s. I wore long pants along with a heavier long sleeve shirt, and a beanie and gloves.  Opened up with the 1st mile in a little over 8 minutes, and wound down through the mid 7s in the middle part of the run, to 7:00-7:10 in the last 2 miles. Controlled, harder effort, but didn't drop the hammer too much in the last third of the run. Want to have something to build off. Enjoyed running on the streets of Carolina Beach in the dark.

Sometimes on nights such as that, I think about the Jack Kerouac novel Dharma Bums where he writes about people like his buddy Japhy Ryder wandering the streets at night in his own esoteric revelries... while the rest of the civilized society eats their dinners in front of the blinking glare of television sets.

Thursday went back to Carolina Beach State Park and hit the trails, and also hit my 'ol hill circuit for the first time in awhile. Did 2 sets of the approximate one mile loop, which encompasses 4 main hills in sand, dirt and leaves. Felt it pretty good on the hills, legs sore in a good way, breathing a bit labored.  Want to start incorporating into a workout once a week. Gradually adding the number of sets, and reducing the time per circuit. Ah, I love a tough running challenge.

The year is just beginning too-

Keep on challenging yourself as well my friends.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Ringing in a New Year

Happy 2016 all!  Time to ring in a new year, ripe with endless possibilities on the roads and trails. Finished 2015 with over 2,300 hundred miles run, which is a new yearly record for me. Have assiduously kept running journals now for the last 7 years. Got my 8th as an Xmas present from my Dad, my very first role model in the sport some 35 years ago.

Put down almost 40 miles last week. Jumped right back into the fray after nearly two weeks of complete running rest. Also started back up with the ancillary work, which each year becomes more and more vital to my overall running program. Though my upper arm/ arm pit area was killing me for a couple days after doing push-ups and lifting free weights.

Ran 8+ miles with Shawn on Wednesday. Both of us struggling in the unusually high humidity for late December; I even shucked my shirt early in the run on the new Carolina Beach State park fitness trail. Shawn wanted to do 3 x 2 mile, bringing each 2 mile segment down in time. But the workout started to get the best of him on the 2nd set, so we amended it, yet still got the mileage in. He's in the process of dropping a lot of excess weight and getting back into his old running shape. Five years ago he could break 17 minutes for the 5k on a good day.

Friday, and New Years Day I ran 11 miles with Amie. Longest run she has ever done, and the longest run I've done I think since my 30 mile ultra Labor Day weekend. Ran at a decent pace averaging in the 8:30s on a big loop that took us to the North End and back as well as part of the back side of the island by the boat launch on the canal. Bit of a colder day too, at least in comparison to the days in the 70s we've been having.

Saturday I stood in the late afternoon cold back again on the fitness trail and helped coach Patti to a PR for distance as well. Which in her case was 7.35 miles, or 7 laps around the loop. I did some pull up type exercises during one of her loops on some of the equipment stations that are location around the off road track in the woods. And read some Running Times magazine, while I kept an elapsed time going on my old, strapless digital wrist watch.

Capped the week with a 7.7 mile run early Sunday morning with Owen... mostly on the State Park trails. Cold, pristine morning with temperatures in the 30s. Ran the last 2 miles just over 8 mins/ mile. He had taken some rest as well after the end of Flyers XC season. Saw Lisa, Jill, and Carey from the Wilmington Road Runners Club back in the park by the marina. They were going to get 10 miles in. Training for the inaugural Southern Ultra 50k the end of January.

Got a core workout in Sunday afternoon to finish off the week. Plan is to try and get 40-50 miles in per week for now, while concentrating on some medium to longer distance runs. Looking forward to what the new year has in store.