Saturday, March 31, 2012

Race Report: White Hall 15K

The White Hall 15K is a race in the Baltimore Road Runners Club Grand Prix Series. Business travel had me in the Baltimore area and able to participate in this small, local, club race on the NCR Trail.

Race Day Eve
The day before the race I spent as a tourist in northern Baltimore County. We visited REI, several other shops, and went for a short hike at the North Point State Park on Chesapeake Bay. Saturday evening was my annual work party. I had a a great pre-race meal of seafood dip, salad, crab cakes, and a hot blondie (a brownie variation) with ice cream. I also enjoyed a couple of Dog Fish Head beers with a former bottler from Dog Fish Head brewery.

Race Morning
Since we knew the race was going to be small we planned to arrive less than 30 minutes before the start. Figuring this would give us plenty of time to register, warm-up, and use the bathroom. I enjoyed an English muffin with peanut butter and a cup of coffee for breakfast. The start was about 15 miles north of our hotel, just off I-83.

NCR Trail
The race was run on a section of the NCR Trail which is a rails to trails path from the northern Baltimore suburbs to York, Pennsylvania. I have run on several sections of the trail on past visits, but this section was new to me. In 2011 the race ran north from the start line, gradually uphill, and turned around to run south and gradually downhill to the finish line. During registration we overheard that the course was reversing directions to run south first and then run north after the turn around. I had not studied the elevation profile for this section and was a little worried about the second half of the race being totally uphill.

The trail surface is crushed limestone, hard packed, and smooth. Generally the trail is wide enough for several runners to stand shoulder to shoulder. Oddly, the narrowest trail section was the first 100 yards.

Club Race
Most of the racers seemed to know each other as members of the club. We were greeted warmly and I am pretty sure we were the only Wisconsin entrants. I estimated there were 50 to 100 runners (88 finishers in the final results). The fee of $6 for non-club members was a great deal for a timed (hand) race with on course water stops, controlled intersections, and food at the finish line.

1st 7.5K
We bunched up at the start line a few minutes after eight for the start. With a bang we were off. I wanted to be mindful of my pace, especially with a downhill start. My goal was to run a little faster than 7:30 per mile and if I felt good to gradually speed up.

The course, a former railroad bed, was fairly straight with gentle turns as it followed a small creek through the woods. The scenery really is spectacular on the NCR trail.

I settled into a good pace with a few other runners around me. I was able to pass a few as we headed south and I did not get passed at all. I generally finish at the back of the front of the pack and I was right about that position.

Out and back courses are fun because you get to see who is in front of you. I met the first few runners just after the four mile mark (so they were more than a mile ahead of me!). I also like to see who I might be able to pass. There were 5 runners in front of me that I thought I might be able to pass on the return to the finish line. All of them were a little more broad in the shoulders and heavier than me so I was hopeful the uphill finish would slow them down.
Whitehall 15K Elevation profile

2nd 7.5K
I made my first pass right after the turn around. Then I was running in no man's land for the next several K I couldn't see anyone ahead of me or anyone behind me.

As I ran north I realized the course was more rolling up and down. Although, it was predominantly uphill it was a mix of gradual rolling ups and downs.

About 5K from the finish I saw 5 runners ahead of me and knew I might be able to make a couple of more passes. Of courses as much as I wanted to catch them they certainly wanted to catch the people in front of them. I gradually caught one runner and soon after made a 2nd pass. The 2nd guy kept stopping to fiddle with his iPod so it was an easy catch.

I was able to run negative splits in the final 5K and was pleased with my finish. I had enough in the tank that I could have run a half marathon distance comfortably at my current fitness. I also had enough in the tank that I could have pushed the pace a bit harder, especially in the first half of the course.
White Hall 15K Race Splits
A photographer was not far from the finish and snapped this photo of me. I look and felt pretty comfortable in this photo. Perhaps I could have pushed the pace harder.
Nearing the finish line of the White Hall 15K

After the race, photo of NCR Trail

All road crossings were controlled. Thanks volunteers!

Self-Portrait after the race

Amanda nearing the finish line

White Hall 15K Official Results
Baltimore Road Runners Club
NCR Trail

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blogging vs. [Insert Alternative]

Blogging vs. Running

I choose running.

Blogging vs. playing basketball with my kids.


Blogging vs. watching the Mad Men premiere.

Don and the gang, of course.

Blogging vs. catching up with my feed reader.

Toss up.

Blogging vs. the rest of today's to- do list.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

What Happened to Winter?

Four runs in March in a row wearing shorts and a t-shirt. This photo was taken yesterday when the thermometer neared or passed 70F in Central Wisconsin. Only about 40 degrees warmer than normal.

Probably as soon as we get used to this unseasonable warmth and the screens back in the windows we will get walloped by another snow storm and extreme cold. You never know ...

First run warm enough to wear my new Road ID visor

Monday, March 12, 2012

Easy Run Tips

Is there such a thing as an easy run?

Today coach prescribed 30 minutes of easy running. I heeded coach's instructions and left my house after work/school with my son leading the way on his bike. We did one of our usual loops with some slight variations.

To keep a run at an easy pace try these tips.

1. Don't have a specific route, mileage, or time goal.

2. Run with a slower runner or kid on a bike.

3. Don't look at your GPS watch.

4. Carry an easy conversation without any pauses for breaths.

5. Stay close to home to avoid an errant turn that extends your mileage.

6. Leave the food and fuel at home so you have to return.

7. Stop occasionally to say hi to a neighbor, admire the scenery, or enjoy something you might breeze past on a day you are trying to hit pace goals.

How do you keep your easy runs easy?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Too Many Questions for a Saturday Morning Run

1. What is the weather like?

2. Is it windy?

3. Should I wear shorts?

4. What direction is the wind coming from?

5. Should I run on the trail?

6. Which direction should I run on the trail?

7. Are there other people out running?

8. What are they wearing?

9. Are they wearing shorts?

10. Do you think I should wear shorts?

11. Can I use your watch?

12. Where is the turn around for the 4 mile route?

12a. If I ran 4 miles out and 4 miles back would that be 8 miles?

12c. Should I turn around at Bonniewell?

13. Are you impressed with my stretching?

14. How long will it take me to run?

15. If you were listening to me and I wouldn't have to ask so many questions. What are you doing?

My only question, "When are you leaving?"

Also notable, silly runners, running tights are for winter.