The Winter Classic 8K and How Life Gets In the Way

Hi gang. Here it is Super Bowl Sunday and I haven’t blogged in some 2 weeks. I apologize but it will soon become clear why I’ve been slack of late in the blogging department. I have about an hour to knock this out so let’s cut with the formalities and get to it, shall we?

Life Gets In The Way

My road to Boston took a bit of a setback recently. About a week ago, the lovely neighbors above me (I live in a condo on the second floor – they’re on the third) were having some work done in their unit. The contractor was hammering down some flooring in the bathroom when his nail miraculously found its way into a water pipe. And not just any water pipe, but one for the emergency sprinkler system. Meaning it was 400 PSI which means it was under a lot of pressure. Which means water went everywhere. And since it was part of the emergency sprinkler system, it couldn’t be cut off with the main water valve so the contractor couldn’t quickly shut the water off. Which means my unit was flooded. Basically, to surmise, you couldn’t have damaged my place worse had you thrown a hand grenade in there.

Here’s a taste. This is my kitchen today:

This is my kitchen after my neighbors got done with it.

This is my kitchen after my neighbors got done with it.

This happened the Friday of the sleet storm. Laura and I had just braved a nasty run through the sleet and freezing rain. We stopped at the grocery store and stocked up on milk and bread like every Charlottean is required to do during inclement weather, and we rented a couple of movies so we could go to her place, crank up the heat, get under a blanket, and just relax. Neither of us would have to drive in the nasty weather. And then I got the call from the HOA about my place.

Driving through the crappy storm, I hit a slick spot on a bridge and started fishtailing around. The entire time, as I furiously spun the steering wheel while trying to regain control, I cursed my neighbor.

When I got there, the place was alive with activity as the water extraction company ripped up my carpets and inserted giant blow dryers to dry the joint out. My upstairs neighbor came down and said to me, “I am so sorry. I see your ceilings are destroyed – you’re going to need a contractor to fix that. Here’s the card to my guy – he’s upstairs now if you want to come talk to him.” I think I showed remarkable restraint by not punching him squarely in the nose.

The next thing I did was rush into the laundry room and get all my good running shoes. I grabbed a gym bag, filled it with mostly running clothes, and left. Luckily, I have a very accommodating girlfriend who is letting me stay at her place until this mess gets resolved. Stay tuned.

The Winter Classic 8K

The day after the great contractor debacle, Laura and I were scheduled to run in the Charlotte Running Club Winter Classic 8K. Needless to say, I was a bit discombobulated after the prior day’s events but like they say, the show must go on.

Luckily, it was an afternoon race, so I had a lot of time to get my stuff together, because all day I ran around looking for running gear for the afternoon – very much like a recurring dream I have. We got to McAlpine in time, but just barely.

The event started with the fun run, and Laura’s older son Wilson got a little revenge on the younger Warren, who beat him back in November at the Jogging for Jersey 5K. Laura and I ran with them:

Wilson takes a slight lead on Warren as they near the third turn...

Wilson takes a slight lead on Warren as they near the third turn…

A few minutes later, it was our turn to race. Laura and I were running a workout in the race and I extolled upon her all week to just stick to the plan, which was a series of ‘cut-downs’ (Hadley disciples are very familiar with this) – 8 minutes fast, a recovery jog, 6 minutes at slightly-faster-than-the-last-repeat pace, recovery, etc. It would be tough for both of us to reel ourselves in and not flat-out race, but after all, we had a marathon planned in just a few weeks. Today was not the day for an all-out effort – hopefully we would help each other to stick to the plan.

The gun fired and we settled into our first repeat pace, about 6:45/mile. I felt pretty comfortable and Laura looked like she did too as she ran right beside me. We passed recently-engaged Adrienne and I said to her, “That giant engagement ring is slowing you down!” We hit the 8-minute mark and Laura and I put on the brakes as Adrienne flew back past.

We ran our repeats hard, then jogged briefly after each one. Normally the workout called for an equal amount of recovery (so an 8-minute repeats would call for an 8-minute recovery), but I modified it so that our finishing race times would not be too embarrassing. So basically I ran the repeat then jogged until my heart rate went back down, usually about a minute or a minute and a half.

And so it went. Rinse. Lather. Repeat. We stuck to the plan until we had about a quarter of a mile to go when some girl snuck past us. I turned to Laura and said, “Okay, forget the workout now. Go get her.” I unchained the cheetah. She instantly passed the girl. “Oh crap!” I thought as I realized I was watching my girlfriend pull away from me very the near the finish line of a race lined with many of my runner friends – I would get made fun of, a lot, if Laura dropped me now.

It was all fun and games until about a quarter to go.  This is the exact moment things just got serious.  Notice the grimace as I work to out kick my speedy girlfriend.

It was all fun and games until about a quarter to go. This was the exact moment when things got serious. Notice the grimace as I worked hard to out kick my speedy girlfriend.

So I kicked, first passing Laura’s foe, then Laura. This was no easy task, despite what Laura may tell you – she didn’t let me go by easily.

I felt like my sub-35:00 was at least semi-respectable for an old guy, especially given the circumstances, and Laura won the ladies’ Masters division. Since this was the RRCA official NC 8K Cross Country Championship, Laura is now the official NC 8K Cross Country Female Masters state champion. Get some.

After we hung out and chatted with all of our runner pals. This race has become one of my favorites as my CRC buddies have really done it up right – great swag, great awards, great post-race spread (including pizza! Jackpot!), and a great cause, Running Works. WTG CRC, WTG. Much fun had by all.

Fall Counts

Thursday, my marathon plan called for a marathon-paced tempo run. Laura had run her workout the day before and I knew this one might be a little tough on my own. So I recruited the likes of Nathan Stanford to join me, and he did.

The workout got off to a rocky start as I struggled to maintain pace. Little did I know things would get much rockier before the day was done. I usually have about 2 miles done before I meet Nathan where he enters the trail. I continued to struggle and I had difficulty gaining my breath (I suffer from asthma which can be worse on chilly days, which this was).

But by the third mile, Nathan had helped me lock on. I caught my breath enough where I could now maintain my marathon goal pace (about 7:45/mile) and still relatively comfortably carry on a pleasant conversation with one Mr. Stanford. After a couple of miles, Nathan turned back and I was once again on my own for the last bit.

By this point, I was feeling good, borderline cocky even, as I started dropping the pace. I was now cruising along at slightly under goal pace when one second I was running and the next I wasn’t. Suddenly, I was on my back, in pain, staring at the sky. My foot had caught the tip of a buried rock and it instantly sent me sprawling. None of that barely losing one’s balance, almost recovering, and gently sitting down. I went down, and felt, like a quarterback blind-sided by a linebacker (had to work in a football metaphor somewhere).

And things hurt. My knees took the brunt of the fall and they were throbbing. I hurt badly enough that I was nauseous and couldn’t immediately stand. I heard someone nearby say, with some urgency in his voice, “I have to go, I’ll call you back” and then approaching footsteps. “Sir, are you okay? How can I help you?” I responded, “Yeah, I think I’m okay. I just need to gather myself. I can’t stand up yet – I’m a little nauseous.”

I felt bad for this good Samaritan – he wanted to help but clearly wasn’t sure how, and I didn’t know what to tell him. He asked, “Can I help you to your car?” Not unless you want to walk 2 miles – it just didn’t seem feasible. But as he asked me questions, the nausea faded and I realized I could make it back on my own. I stood up and started walking and told him, “Thanks, I’m fine.”

I was pretty lucky. I was wearing tights which saved my knees from getting obliterated. The knees hurt and I knew they were probably pretty ugly under there, but I could move – nothing was broken. I was also wearing some gloves – some of those Target $1 deals. The gloves were shredded which saved my hands from getting too messed up.

I survived. I even jogged it the $%^& in. So there.

2 Weeks

I’m banged up. I’m virtually homeless. But I’m still standing. See you in Myrtle Beach in 2 weeks. Let’s do this.

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3 Responses to “The Winter Classic 8K and How Life Gets In the Way”

  1. Martin Says:

    This too shall pass. Keep your head up. Just another reason for your girl friend to baby you with attention.

  2. See Red Run Says:

    Homeless and Hurting in Huntersville. Sorry to hear about the water damage. WTF contractor?

  3. Meagan Says:

    JOG IT THE F@#% OUT!

    proud of you, buddy. =)

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