Salem Lake 2010, aka Citation Day

My new, shiny, white Karhu's didn't stay new, shiny or white for very long.

My day began at 4:00 a.m.  Ouch.  I was the driver for the carpool to Winston-Salem.  The gang was heading up to run one of my favorite races, the Salem Lake 30K.  The plan: I’d pick up Dean in Cornelius, Todd in Concord, and then Théoden at his hotel in Winston.

I staggered into the kitchen and made coffee.  Once I finally had some caffeine in my system, I gradually awakened enough to gather all my running paraphernalia, including my brand new racing flats, and make the long quarter mile drive to pick up Dean.

With Dean loaded in, we headed towards Concord on Hwy 73 when the first significant setback of the day occurred.  Shortly after the spot where the speed limit changes from 55 to 45, right before Punchy’s Diner, we passed a parked police officer.  I thought I spotted him in time as I tapped the brakes, but I was wrong.  Blue lights.  60 in a 45.  In essence, I received 2 tickets because my Racefest speeding ticket was expunged from my record after taking a traffic class, provided that I didn’t get another ticket in the next 2 years.  I made it about 5 months.  Now I get to hire a lawyer and throw away a few hundred dollars to try and prevent insurance costs.  Hurray.

But at least he wrote the ticket quickly so we were still on schedule as we stopped in Concord and got Todd.  Roughly an hour later, we had Théoden in tow and we still arrived at Salem Lake in time to score a sweet parking spot near the starting line.

Dean and I had formulated our plan for the race.  Roughly, we planned to run it just as we had the year before which basically meant we’d run a progression run, starting out slowly, 9:00/mile or so, and then gradually increase speed.  I wanted to run the last 2 miles at goal marathon pace, in the 7:30’s, to get an idea of what things were going to feel like in the latter stages of the marathon.  This was also to be a marathon simulation run for me, (albeit not quite as fast as I hope to go on race day) – I wore the exact clothes and shoes that I’d wear on marathon race day, and I’d fuel and take the water stops exactly as I hoped to do on race day.

The starter yelled ‘Go!’ and we were off.  Things went more or less according to plan, albeit a bit faster than originally intended – last year our first 2 miles splits were 9:38 and 8:54 – this year, we rolled off back-to-back 8:31’s.  Just before the start, we had run into former co-worker Bob Metzger who stated that he wanted to run around 8:00 pace, but added that he’d tag along with us if we were okay with that (which we were).  I think his presence and stated goal had us pushing the pace a little.  But nothing exceedingly difficult as we cruised at controlled 8:15’s after our 8:30’s start.

Dean, Bob, and I trotted along comfortably, chatting along the way.  Shortly after mile 8, we spotted the leader heading our way and I instantly recognized him, even at a considerable distance.  It was Aaron, our fearless leader of the Charlotte Running Club.  He bounded along cheerfully, giving us high fives as he came by.  He was roughly at mile 10 and already his lead was considerable.  Second place grimaced and looked to be struggling to keep up.  Barring a total, disastrous melt-down, Aaron had this thing locked up.  My morale was bolstered by this development and I picked up the pace a tad.

Shortly thereafter, right before we reached the halfway turnaround point, several of my buddies and rivals ran past.  Brian Sammons, aka BSam, who has been talking quite a bit of smack lately, came past.  I gave him a high-five, smiled, and called out, ‘You better pick it up!  I’m coming!’  Then Théoden ran by and we exchanged a few words of encouragement, and finally my pal and fellow DART’er Todd Hartung.  All these guys are right in my wheelhouse and I had spotted them quite a head-start.  I turned to Dean and Bob and said, ‘Okay guys, I’m going to take off now.’   So whereas I had run mile 7 in 8:13, then mile 8 in 8:08, I went through mile 9 in 7:48.

I actually started feeling better from about mile 8 on.  My legs were still tight after last weekend’s Blue Ridge Relay and I think it took about 8 miles of easy running before they started loosening up.  I decided to try to lock in at goal marathon pace for the rest of the way.

Somewhere around the half marathon point, I caught Todd (Hartung).  We exchanged pleasantries for a second before I continued on.  By this point, I was clicking off low 7:30’s and they felt relatively easy.  I continued to push the pace.  Around mile 17, I spotted Théoden ahead and so I sped up a bit – my mile 18 split was 7:24.  As I eased past, I asked him if he had seen Brian, but he hadn’t as he answered, ‘He’s way ahead.’  So I picked it up even more – I was hoping BSam was still within striking distance.

But he wasn’t.  I crossed the finish line and spotted Brian on the sidelines.  He told me he ran 2:17 and I thought “Damn, I can’t compete with that!”  But later he corrected it – he ran right at 2:20.  2:17 sounded impossible, but 2:20 sounded doable.  After all, I just ran a 2:26 after jogging the first 9 miles.

I came out of this race with a little more confidence.  I know I can click off 7:30 miles even on tired legs.  I don’t know if I can click off 26.2 of them, but I know I can knock out at least 9.  Like I told my friends after the race, “At mile 17 I thought, 1.6 miles, no problem.  But if it had been 9.2 to go, BIG problem!”  I’m curious to see how the marathon goes.

All in all, Salem Lake lived up to it’s reputation.  I had a great time, as usual.  Aaron won, unofficially in 1:55.  We all chatted afterward over Krispy Kreme doughnuts, another of Salem Lake’s little perks.  Some of the many friends I talked to included Brian, Théoden, Todd Hartung, Dean, Todd Spears, Karin Helmbrecht, and more.  I even saw my buddy Clark’s wife Julie there who had just run the 10K.  I didn’t even know she was a runner!  I had a blast eating doughnuts and recapping everybody’s race.

But wait, this post doesn’t end there – I’m adding a bonus social section today, free of charge!  Earlier in the week, the CRC social director, Emily Barrett, and her friend Karin Helmbrecht, decided to put together a bar crawl for Saturday night.  Although hesitant to commit to a bar crawl on the night after an 18.6 mile hard run, I decided ‘What the hell’ – I need to get out.

So Saturday night, I made my way uptown.  I parked on Tryon Street and met the gang out.  While sipping an Old Mecklenburg Copper (I acquired a taste for these after this day), I chatted with a girl who told me, ‘I have to tell you, I’ve bonded with your ex.’  Great – just what every guy wants to hear while he’s still in ‘the bitter phase’ of his break-up.  Oh well, have a few more Coppers and get over it.

As the night progressed, I learned a few things.  Here are some of them, in no particular order:

  • Lamperski cuts a mean rug.
  • Everybody loves John Compton.
  • Joey Church (allegedly!) only runs 12-15 miles  a week (perhaps the most shocking revelation of the night).
  • Dance clubs play the exact same music they did 20 years ago.
  • I want to be on Joey and Karin’s Blue Ridge Relay team (don’t fret Harriers, I will never forsake our squad, but Karin makes it very tempting!)

As midnight approached, I was exhausted.  When people started motioning for me to get on the dance floor, I knew it was time for me to depart.  I made a graceful exit while everyone else appeared to be just getting started.  Outside, approaching my car, I discovered a nice little gift, courtesy of the city of Charlotte, on my windshield – a parking ticket.  Allow me this quick rant.  While not the smartest guy in the world, I like to think I’m not the dumbest either (although some people might argue).  I make this point to say, why does city street parking always require me to solve a logic puzzle?  If hour is greater than 6 PM, but day is not a weekday, and space is numbered, but hour is before 9 AM, etc. etc. And you’re trying to work it all out while driving on a busy city street.  Can’t somebody just design a little standard sign, sort of like a stoplight, that is green if you can park there and red if you can’t?  Oh right, but then you’d know and the city couldn’t collect citation revenue.  Why have parking spots if you can never park in them?  Yeah, anyway, my day ended with a nice little citation bookend to balance out the one that started the day.

But like I said in a prior post, I can take all the crappy little problems that life doles out as long as the running goes well.  And the running went well this week.  The Blue Ridge relay, a strong stress workout on Wednesday, and now Salem Lake,  have all given me a new found confidence.  I think I can run a 3:20.  In exactly 2 weeks, on October 10, we’ll see if I can do it in the Towpath Marathon.

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One Response to “Salem Lake 2010, aka Citation Day”

  1. aaron Says:

    enjoyed the recap. thx for sharing. fun race over there. Was super cool to see you all on the double back as it pumped me up alot hearing you all cheer. 2 more weeks for you! Cool!!!!

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