Rex Healthcare Half Marathon – Raleigh NC – 11-4-12

Today I finished my second half marathon, the Rex Healthcare Half Marathon (City of Oaks Marathon) in Raleigh NC.  I chose Raleigh for several reasons, I went to school at NC State and lived in Raleigh for almost 10 years.  It’s a close drive away (my other option was Myrtle Beach a couple weeks back) and my best friends Gray and Katie, as well at my sister, still live in the area.  I have Katie to thank for taking the awesome pictures from today.  My parents also came up to watch this race and cheer me on which was very cool.

At the last minute my Sunday long run buddy Laura G. decided to sign up for this race even though she had run the Marine Corps marathon last weekend.  Despite living here, North Carolina was a new state for her, so a special race for her.  It was also my first North Carolina race, but I’m on state #2, while she logged state #22.


Me and Laura at the Expo getting our gear.


Shirt, bib and gloves they gave us.

This race had been described as hilly and boy was it.  Over 2000 feet of both ascent and descent.  There was a couple of good fast downhill spots, and a couple of good hard climbs but a lot of it was rolling easy hills.  Training out at the lake definitely helped out.

I started out with the 2:30 pace group, based on a finish time predictor from Runners World Magazine, but I wasn’t sure (and didn’t expect to) if I could finish with that group.  We started out pretty quick and actually pulled out ahead of the 2:30 group and then about a half mile in Laura actually ran off and left me.  She must have been feeling really good.  I didn’t chase her since I knew I was already pushing the pace, and had a long way to go.  I clicked off the first two miles at a sub 11 minute mile pace.

10:49, 10:58

After this I slowed it down a little bit and got into a good rhythm as we were making our way through downtown.  I knew I was still ahead of the 2:30 pace group and just concentrated on keeping moving without pushing too hard.  Still had a long way to go.

11:27, 11:29, 11:41, 11:31

After the 6 mile point I knew I needed to stop and use the bathroom and I also knew that Gray, Katie and my parents were waiting for me at somewhere around 6 and a half miles in front of the church Gray and Katie got married in.  There was a water stop and some porta jons with no line at the 10K finish, so I stopped there before I got to my friends.  Added a couple minutes to that mile, but not too bad, and after I saw them that was quite a boost to have people cheering for me.  I heard Katie screaming “GO ERIC!” before I actually saw them and then found them on the side of the road and waved at them as they took pictures.

13:16, 11:18, 11:27


Katie got this awesome shot, probably my best mid-race action shot.

At this point we got to the 3 out and back sections of the course that were added on because of a last minute course change.  This was not a bad part of the course, and mostly flat but it was of course 3 out and backs that are always like “didn’t I just run through here?”.  On the first leg I happened to see Laura as she was ahead of me and we high-fived in mid-road before she split off onto the greenway for the full marathon course, while I stayed on the road for the half course.  By the third out and back I was getting very tired, but I knew I didn’t have much further to go.  I had made it past 10 miles feeling good and had pushed through 11 with decent pace but I could tell I was slowing.

11:43, 11:56

We turned back onto Hillsborough Street and I knew we were almost to the finish, but we hadn’t hit mile 12 yet, so we still had over a mile to go.  At this point I was hurting pretty good, although I didn’t hit a massive wall like I did in New Orleans.  My legs were starting to cramp up and at this point my only focus was making it to the finish.  My parents and friends were camped up at about mile 13, a little bit before the finish and it gave me quite a boost to see them again.  Once again I heard Katie yelling “GO ERIC!!” before I actually saw them and it took me a minute to find them on the side of the road. I jokingly yelled out “ARE WE THERE YET?” although I could see the finish from there, and my Dad yelled back something about being only a 1/4 mile behind the full marathon winner.  Yes I had seen him pass me on the other side of the road with the police car in front of him.


Another great shot by Katie.

12:17, 12:00, 1:59 (0.17 @ 11:27)

I don’t know where I got behind the 2:30 pace group, probably at the 10K bathroom stop, I never saw them pass me, but I also miscalculated slightly the pace I needed for a 2:30 finish.  On a perfect 13.1 the pace I needed was 11:45, which I stayed ahead of the whole time, however, with the bobbing and weaving in the beginning, and really all through the race, added almost an extra tenth of a mile to the distance, and the pace I needed to do 2:30 for 13.2 mile was 11:36.  The pacers either adjusted for this, or adjusted their pace accordingly to make certain they hit exactly 11:45 per mile, where I got caught up in the mix and started fast and then slowed.  I still managed to finish just behind them at 2:33:59.  This beat my previous PR by a good 38 minutes.  I also, besides the leg cramping, felt great at the finish and did not feel like I was about to die.  Gray even commented several times on how good I looked at the finish and that I didn’t seem like I was going to keel over at any minute.

All in all, this was a great race.  The start was a bit of a frustration as all 5000 of us were starting at once (we had the pace groups but not “corrals” per se) and also the full, half and 10K all started together.  But once we got going it was all good.  The course was challenging, but fun and scenic, the water stops were well manned and the course was well marked.  There weren’t a ton of spectators, which I had heard considering it’s a “small” race, but there was a huge crowd at the 10K finish and then all the way down Hillsborough Street.  The medal is really great, actually bigger than my New Orleans medal.


RHABA Fast and Flat 10K – Rural Hall, NC – 10-20-12

I believe I had this race on my schedule before I decided to run Raleigh, but when I realized it was two weeks before the half I decided I would treat is as a half marathon warm up.   I was going to run this race at my projected half marathon pace, which is slower than my 10K PR pace.  Well, the last few weeks as my pace has improved, and I’ve become less and less worried about my finish time in Raleigh, I knew I could have a chance to set a nice PR at this race, so that’s what I set out to do.  I’ve been running some fairly quick tempo runs on Saturday’s and they haven’t seemed to have any ill effect on my Sunday long runs, so I knew if I pushed for a PR I wasn’t going to risk doing any serious harm to my half marathon training, this basically became a 6 mile tempo run.

T-shirt rather than a tech shirt, but it’s nice and it fits.  Add another single XL to the collection, which I don’t have very many so that’s a good thing!

This is an interesting course, beginning and ending at the Mayflower Restaurant in Rural Hall, just off Hwy 52.  It starts off with two loops through a couple neighborhoods, which this section was anything BUT flat, both up and down.  Mile 2 started with a steep downhill, which I actually let myself accelerate down it rather than hold back, which was fun, and nice to see I still had control.  Mile two finished with a pretty nice climb, and then mile 3 had a BIG climb.  138 feet of ascent for mile 3 was about 3 times any of the other miles which were all around 40-50.  After that, we hit out on Hwy 65 down to the Rural Hall City Hall, which was the 4 mile point for a turn around, and then took 65 all the way back to the finish, we did not loop through the neighborhoods again on the way back.

Happy pre-race photo (not that I was un-happy after the race).  I cannot get a bib on straight to save my life.

I’m pretty happy with my pacing for this race, but I still have a little work to do before the half, although I’m almost to the point now where I get what I get and I have to just be happy with it (but I’m worried about going to fast, and wearing myself out, not too slow).  The first mile felt good, although I knew it was too fast (10:25), miles 2-5 were up and down timewise (11:11, 11:34, 11:01, 11:06), but it seemed like every time I looked at my watch I was holding steady at an 11:03 pace, so I was pretty happy with that.  Mile 6 sped up a little bit as we came in for the finish (10:59, which was also my total average pace, I swear that happens EVERY race), and then I turned the corner and kicked in the afterburners to the finish line running the last 0.23 miles at a 9:35 pace.  My finishing time of 1:08:29 is a good 7 minutes faster than my previous 10K PR (1:15:34) and actually, the pace is faster than my 8K PR from September (58:50, 11:45 pace).

Pics or it didn’t happen…

Starting and finishing in a parking lot was nice since it gave everyone plenty of room to walk around and stretch and I did something I normally don’t do (but should) and jogged two warmup laps around the restaurant.  I also made sure I kept walking after the finish as a cooldown which is something I also forget to do most times.  I need to remember this for Raleigh.

I posted my time in the Runner’s World training calculator I mentioned a while back and now it says my half marathon time should be 2:30 (11:45 pace).  I’m not sure if I can hit that, but I may start with that pace group and see how it goes.  I was originally shooting for a 2:45 finish, but I don’t know if I want to start with the 2:45 pace group since I’d like to run the first couple of miles faster than 13:00 pace (without killing myself too early).  I can’t believe I’m changing my goal for the Raleigh half marathon two weeks before race day and adjusting it FASTER and not slower…. Yikes!


(medal photo posted on the Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon Facebook page).


Run 4 The Greenway 8K – Greensboro, NC – 9-15-12

This evening I had a race that fit perfectly into my half marathon training.  This weekend’s long run was 5 miles and this race is 5 miles.  I didn’t have my camera, so just took one picture with my phone of the shirt and bib.


So this run is set up to raise awareness and funds for the Downtown Greenway being built to circle downtown Greensboro.  The race was mostly on the streets but there were some stretches on the portions of the Greenway that have been completed.  The greenway includes many permanent art installations which is fitting for Greensboro’s bohemian artistic feel.

In typical race fashion I started out too fast, which is really something I need to work on.  But it’s so hard to know where to start, when they are saying for the competitive runners to be in the front and walkers/strollers/dog walkers to the back.  I started what I thought was near the middle, but still had lots of people passing me as I chugged along.  I tried to slow myself down, and a good portion of the first mile was downhill so with the flow of the crowd and downhill I was screaming through the first mile.  I got it whoa’d back, but was huffing pretty good by about a mile and a half, which is not very good when you have 3 and a half miles left to go.  If I had a complaint about this race it would be that the water stations were very very understaffed.  I actually skipped past the first one because they had no cups filled and ready, people were standing waiting but I didn’t want to wait.  A little while later there was a water fountain on one of the greenway stretches so I got some water, but of course then you have to stop completely rather than jogging, or even slowing to walk, you can keep moving.  That throws you off a little bit.  I had some stomach issues around 2.5-3 miles where I got hit with some awful heartburn.  I was in Raleigh before the race at a cookout with my friends Gray and Katie (from over at A Recipe a Week) and their families, so not great pre-race meal of hot dogs and the fixings, but was great to see some friends and family I hadn’t seen in a long time.  The last two miles were a struggle but I managed to push through it.

Despite not feeling very well, and the course measuring slightly long, I managed to set an 8K PR.  Besting my Winter Flight time of 1:02:55 by 4 minutes with a 58:50 finish.  My first mile was too fast, and then miles 2-4 were pretty good and mile 5 slowed down a bit.  Splits: 10:28, 11:31, 11:30, 11:59, 12:27.  The course was fairly hilly with an overall descent of 3 feet, but along the course, an ascent of 569 feet and descent of 572.  I actually thought it would be majority downhill, so the uphills must not have been too bad, but there were a few decent climbs along the way.

I didn’t stay for much of the after party, but I did get my one free beer (Natty Greene’s Buckshot Amber ale, which I love!) and had a picture taken post race that they put on a magnet.  I’m surprised they weren’t charging for those rather than handing them out free.

Rhythm and Run 5K – Kannapolis, NC – June 16, 2012

This morning was the inaugural Rhythm and Run 5K to benefit the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in Kannapolis NC.  I signed up for this race as soon as I found out about it since I was a little ashamed as such a music-phile that I didn’t even know this place existed.  The purpose of this race was to promote them and raise awareness, and they surely succeeded.  They had about twice as many register runners than they expected someone said over 200 instead of just 100.  Unfortunately this did lead to one cardinal sin.  They ran out of shirts.  They told me they would have one for me next week, but I dont think I’m gonna drive down there just for a shirt.  I have enough tech shirts, so was only slightly bummed.

My parents were at this race today so that was very cool, as they were making a lightning tour of NC to come see us all, Charlotte on Friday, Kannapolis on Saturday and then Saturday night in Fuquay and then back home Sunday.  Short trip but they wanted to come see us.  I told them it wasn’t worth it for a short race like a 5K (they are also coming up for the Raleigh Half in November) but they happened to be coming through this weekend regardless, so it worked out.

Me and Mom before the race.

The race started promptly at 9AM, which I thought was actually a little late, I’m used to them starting around 7.  The first half of the course was shaded and breezy and then the second half of the course was hot and sunny.

Lining up for the start.

Dad caught me as I headed past him at the start.

The course was an interesting course, we headed down the little downtown street onto the new North Carolina Research Campus, which is still only halfway built and then crossed a main road onto a greenway.  We spent a good chunk of the race on this greenway, so that was nice, away from streets and traffic, although the greenway did cross a couple of major roads and there were some sidewalks/curbs/etc to contend with.  After the greenway we headed into a small park and then wound through some neighborhoods before we headed back into down town.  It wasn’t too hilly, but there were a few hills and I could feel myself bogging down in mile 3.  I knew I was slowing down.  It also got hot after the second mile as well.  As we turned back onto West A Street I knew we were getting close to the finish, but I didn’t have the energy left for any kind of surge… just wanted to finish.  I knew I was pushing close to a PR but I wasn’t sure if I was gonna make it or not.  Ended up setting a new PR by 16 seconds.  My mile splits were 10:08, 10:49 and 11:23, so as usual, started too fast and then faded, although 10:08 is also a 1 mile PR.

Pushing for the finish!

Clock says 34:10, my watch said 34:02.  I think this may be a second or two after my finish since I appear to be walking.  We’ll see what the official results say but I always go with my Garmin time anyway.

After the race I changed clothes and we hung out for a while until they gave out the awards and found out that once again I did not place in my age group (not that I was surprised).  Then we headed out to lunch.  I had asked my Kannapolis connection Kathi (from the FFF 5K) to recommend a couple of BBQ places since my Mom had mentioned BBQ.  One of the places she recommended was a place called Gary’s. The reason I picked it was because she said it had good brunswick stew, although ironically enough, turned out it was an old haunt of my Dad’s back when he used to work that region a lot.  So if I had picked one of the other places, we likely would have ended up at Gary’s anyway!

I didn’t take a picture of the inside, but the walls were plastered with every manner of old tin advertising signs you could imagine.  Coke, Pepsi, 7-up, etc etc.  There were a couple of old Ford T-Birds parked in a glassed in enclosure with a couple jukeboxes.  Looked to be mid-50’s I would guess.  Only glanced at them as we were leaving.  The barbeque was OK, the hushpuppies were good and as advertised the brunswick stew was VERY good. I didn’t eat a lot of the beans, but they were good as well.  I went for the Sweet and Smokey sauce (as did Mom), while Dad went for the Spicy Vinegar sauce.


2012 Forsyth County Law Enforcement Memorial 5K

This morning I ran the Forsyth County Law Enforcement Memorial 5K.  The race benefited the Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation which is a group that helps families of slain officers and helps pay for funerals and memorials for officers killed in the line of duty.  This was my first race in over a month, so it was nice to be running again in a race.  There’s something special about pinning that number on your chest.  This race is also my blog entry for the Automattic World Wide Word Press 5K.  

One is the loneliest number……

The course for this race wound around the campus of Wake Forest University here in Winston Salem.  It was a nice course, but not a very well marked one.  Thankfully there were police at the intersections but several times I had to ask which way to go.  I talked to the overall female winner and her and some of the other top 4 actually missed a turn on the course, she ended up with an impossibly fast time of 16 minutes and change, but they still gave her the award (which I feel she deserved, it wasn’t her fault).

I took this from my car as I was leaving, but we passed this library very early in the course, probably about a half mile.   Shortly after this point we hit a wicked fast downhill, I could actually feel myself holding myself back.  I looked down at the Garmin shortly before one mile and was shocked to see my pace at 10:20.  I ended up finishing the first mile in 10:34, which is my fastest one mile time by nearly a minute.  I did throttle back a little at this point so as not to burn myself out, but the course helped as well with some uphills on the back half.  I don’t know if it’s good mentally, but I was running the math in my head, and I’m like I have 27 minutes to finish 2 miles and PR, so that’s 13:30 per mile.  So now I’m psyching myself up for a PR, and then I would be disappointed if I didn’t.  My second and third miles were slower, but not excessively slow.  11:34 and 11:40.

Finish line! I made it! And I RAN the entire distance.  No walking breaks! Another first, so not only set a time PR, but my first “running” 5K.  Double PR! What does it mean!

I must have done a great job cutting the corners since the course measured short on my Garmin, but the time at the end matched my Garmin, so I am gonna call it Official and I trust the Twin City Track Club to get the distance right.  Beat my previous best time (37:10) by 3 full minutes, so a minute a mile faster.  Unreal!

Other than the course being poorly marked, it was a great race and for a great cause.  Thank you to the Winston Salem Police Department, Wake Forest University Police and Forsyth County Sheriffs for maintaining the course and also for their service to the community!

Fitness Friendship and Fun 5K – Kannapolis NC

North Cabarrus Park, Kannapolis NC

This morning I participated in the Fitness, Friendship and Fun 5K in Kannapolis NC.  The event was set up by a group known as the Jackson Park Runner Girls and headed up by a friend of mine from DailyMile, Kathi Landis. I received a personal invite to this race and how could I turn that down? The race benefited both the girls running group, as well as raising money to support a cure for MS.

Thanks to my surprisingly good pace and time at the 8K two weeks ago, which suggested that I could set a very nice PR at my next 5K, I set a few goals for myself for this race.  I usually don’t set time goals for races, usually just look to finish, or at the very least do better than my last race. I am still at the point of not racing other people, but rather racing myself.  The first goal was to run the 5K in under 40 minutes.  At the 3.1 mile mark of the 8K I was at 38 minutes and some change, so I knew it was doable.  The second goal, was an off-shoot of the first,  Kathi had assured me (thanks to a very small group in this inaugural event) that I could easily place in my age group.  Well I decided I didn’t want to trot around the course with an awful time and still get a medal because I happened to be 2nd of two.  I wanted to feel like I had earned it, and that didn’t mean finishing 2nd or 3rd overall since that was impossible, but running a good race for me, setting a PR etc.  If I ran my best race, then I would feel I had done enough to place, even if it was a very small division.

Needless to say, I managed to blow both of these goals out of the water, or as my friend Amanda said when I told her, I “killed it”.

I finished with a time of 37:04, well under 40 minutes, and an average pace of exactly 12 minutes per mile, which is 5MPH.  I’ve done that on a treadmill and it is not easy.  A couple of downhill stretches helped out, but I was moving pretty good.  At the two mile mark I realized I could WALK to the finish and slide in under 40 minutes, but of course I didn’t quit, in fact I was shocked to discover when I uploaded my Garmin that mile 3 was faster than mile 2.  My mile 1 was blazing fast at 11:21, which beat my previous best 1 mile time of 12:09 by nearly a minute.  I set out to smoke this race, and I did.

I also, surprisingly, placed second in my age group.  And, also surprisingly, it was not because I was 2nd of 2, there was at least 3 of us as someone else was awarded the third prize.  At first, when Kathi announced the 3rd place finisher and it was not me, I knew that I had not placed.  Then, as she was announcing the second place finisher she started with “It’s my understanding our second place finisher made a PR today, and he drove all the way down from Winston Salem….” at which point I realized it was me! She also mentioned I was a Wolfpacker like she was, which drew loud applause from a very NC State friendly crowd. Needless to say I was shocked, and I can’t wait to see the goofy grin on my face in the picture Kathi took of me and my medal.

The course was set through the park, which had a 1.25 mile walking trail, so we ended up looping around the trail twice, once in one direction, and then again in the other direction, and then another small loop to come back around the last .5 mile to the finish.  The course map on paper looked extremely confusing, I wasn’t sure what to think about it and one of the ladies at the sign in table said to me “You can take that with you”, to which I replied, “It won’t help”.  Turns out the course was very well marked and well manned.  Lots of arrows and signs and lots of people pointing the way.  Big round of applause to the group from Jackson Park Runner girls for running a wonderful event and big thumb’s up to Kathi’s husband (I didn’t catch his name, he was referred to as Mr. Landis) who laid out the course and also handled the timing and scoring.

It’s not a trophy shelf yet, but it’s a start.

Up next, in two weeks, the Rock and Roll New Orleans Half Marathon.

Can’t wait to hang one of these puppies around my neck! Bring it on!

  • About Me

    I am a recent graduate in Food Science (NC State, 2009) and I work for a major food manufacturing company. I love food, but I can no longer eat anything that crosses my path. About 24 months ago I begin a serious struggle to get my obesity under control and reduce my chances of developing Type II diabetes. Since September of '09 I have lost 50 pounds and I still have a long ways to go. I've started eating better and exercising more, including taking up running.