Sunday, April 29, 2007

Race of Grace Race Report

I hadn't heard of the Race of Grace 5K until my friend Steve Worley called me late last week and asked me if I were planning on running it. Despite coming off a 17-mile marathon training run on Saturday, I figured what the heck, and decided to run this afternoon's Race of Grace, sponsored by Edenton Street United Methodist Church.

I met up with Steve and Brad Broyles, another local runner I met through Steve, before the race. The out-and-back 3.1-mile course started on West Edenton Street in downtown Raleigh, merged with Hillsborough Street, which took us in front of NC State University for the turnaround before heading back to the church. Various bands lined the course providing a mix of encouraging praise and worship music, making this 5K reminiscent of some of the musical marathons I've done in the past. I particularly enjoyed the group that played the handbell rendition of title theme from the movie Chariots of Fire theme. (I'd be surprised if you've never heard this theme since it's now parodied in just about anything related to running, but just in case you haven't, here's a sample audio clip.

It was a beautiful spring day for a run, but with temperatures hovering near 80 degrees, it was a bit warmer weather than I like to run in. Since I was coming off the long training run on Saturday, I hadn't planned on running for speed, but the race atmosphere got the best of me. Although I didn't anticipate doing so, I finished with a personal-best 5K time of 22 minutes, 39 seconds, eclipsing my previous 5K best of 23:09 that I set on Jan. 1 of this year by 30 seconds. Steve finished just over 25 seconds, and Brad -- who ran Saturday's Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tenn., then flew back to Raleigh in time to run the Race of Grace -- finished in 31 minutes.

The Race of Grace is a well-organized event, plus the crowd support and entertainment provided by the bands before and during the race gives it the feel of a bigger event. Plus, it's for a good cause with the proceeds going to urban ministries and other groups that address social issues such as homelessness, healthcare and hunger. Although this year was only the fourth running of the event, someone said it's quietly become one of the larger races in Raleigh. Judging by the turnout today, I believe it. I'm surprised I hadn't heard of it before this year, but it's a race I'll definitely try to add to my race calendar in the future.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Barely Made It

This morning I saw a note on the Cool Running Web site that indicated the 2007 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon, scheduled for October, had already reached 40,000 entrants. Since Chicago was one of the key races I had circled on the calendar for 2007, I stopped procrastinating and signed up. It's a good thing I did because by 2:47 p.m. this afternoon the race had reached it's capacity of 45,000 entrants. Looks like I was one of the last one's in.

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Confirmed: Cary Road Race Was Indeed Short

A message on the results page for this past weekend's 5K and 10K events as part of the Cary Road Race confirmed what the runners thought afterwards -- the course was indeed short. The following note was published along with the results.

"Timer's Note: According to Neville Wood, the state certifier and the man who measured the Cary Road Race courses, the runners in both races ran a short course. Neville should know since he ran both races."

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cary Road Race Report

Of all the road races I've particpated in since taking up running five years ago, I had never competed in an event at the 10K (6.2 mile) distance. And apparently, even after running this morning's Cary Road Race I still haven't participated in a 10K.

Although the advertised distance for the race was 10K, the buzz among just about all the runners I talked to afterwards was that the course was short, perhaps by as much as a half mile or more. That's surprising since this was, after all, the 29th annual running of this event.

I knew something was amiss while tracking my mile splits on the course. My split at mile two read 6 minutes, 47 minutes. I've never sniffed a sub 7-minute mile in my life. The best mile split I've ever run in a race was 7:15, but according to my finishing time of 45 minutes, 6 seconds this morning's, ahem, 10K, I averaged 7:15 minutes per mile for the race. No way that happened.

My friend Steve Worley, who I ran with for a bit, said his finishing time was seven minutes faster than his personal 10K best. We talked to three guys who ran with Garmin Forerunner watches and each of their GPS trackers registered different distances for the course. One read 5.7 miles, another 5.8 and the the third 6.1 miles. Still short by any measure. Another guy we spoke with said a race official told him that the course was indeed short, but didn't say by how much.

Since the course was a double loop, I'm guessing the distance error was somewhere between mile one and two, which was a turnaround point on the course. Perhaps course officials didn't mark the turnaround point far enough out. I'm pretty certain this is where the course was short because this is where my megafast mile occured. My second time through my split at this point was even faster than the first -- 5 minutes, 58 seconds. There's just no way I ran a sub 7-minute mile much less a sub-6! All my other mile splits seemed pretty accurate based on my running history, pace and ability.

Despite the apparent inaccuracies on the course, I still had a good time at the Cary Road Race, and that's the main thing. The distance error won't keep me from doing the race again next year, when hopefully the 10K really is a 10K. In the meantime, however, I still need to find me a real 10K to run.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

Matthew 28

The Resurrection

1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

The Guards' Report

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."