Thursday, April 30, 2009

Internal Struggle

Internal Struggle
April 30, 2009

I have spent the last two weeks in a transitional state between recovering from the Boston Marathon and tapering for Strolling Jim 40. I have confused my body by minimizing the recovery time and moving right into a full week of training. Starting on Monday, which is the normal start of my training week, and ending the following Sunday, I logged 91 miles including the marathon. I continued to run every day, still not having rested since December 27, 2008. It was quite a week, with temperatures ranging from the low 40’s in Massachusetts, to the high 80’s in Alabama, which provided the first warm weather running that I have done this year. The goal for this first week was to start with some easy recovery runs and lots of walking to flush away any lingering pain in my legs and to end with a long run on Sunday. I modified the plan slightly by pacing Laura in the County Music Half Marathon on Saturday, which added to the mileage, albeit at a slow pace. Somehow I needed to have make a smooth transition from another peak week, into a taper week in preparation for running five to six hours on the roads in Southern Tennessee. This would be on a mere 12 days after a near personal record marathon time, on a personal record marathon effort.

Not only is my body struggling with what I am trying to do, my mind is also running wild on how I can accomplish this feat. It certainly is not the first time that it has been done in history, as Dink Taylor actually ran the Boston-Big Sur-Strolling Jim triple last year. I personally have run back to back marathon/ultras on three weeks of rest, but never on 12 days. Having to bounce back on little rest has become more than physical and is now a mental challenge for me. Add in the fact that I had to travel to eastern Connecticut for business, which has thrown me off of my sleep, training, fueling/hydration planning, and I have had very little time to reflect back on my experience in Boston. At the moment I am completely consumed with how to tackle 80 degree temperatures, rolling hills and running 15 miles further on the road than I have ever run before. Running the 50km at Delano Park in March and later that day coming back to run 12 more miles pacing Jamie Donaldson gave me the confidence that I could cover the distance in slightly longer than my projected SJ40 time of six hours, but sandwiched in between the race and the pacing was five hours of recovery.

The bottom line is that right now I feel like I need to focus on the impending race this weekend. I need to spend my time and energy developing a race strategy, planning on how to be successful, and resting as much as possible to complete my recovery and tapering to achieve the best results as a Strolling Jim rookie. So I am reading through my training material, studying the course, working on my hydration plan, and concentrating on the next adventure, while not forgetting about the previous one. This means, that for the time being, I am going to put my full Boston Marathon race report on hold. I know that this may be disappointing for those of you who are waiting on it, but I’ve never faced a challenge like this and if I get distracted, I won’t be on top of my game when the conch is blown on Saturday morning. I will not forget the details from Patriot’s Day in Boston and as soon as time permits, I will work on putting them together. For now, it full steam ahead toward Strolling Jim. My body will know what to do once I lace up my shoes on Saturday, I just need to get my head there too.

In the end, I will be ready and I will be fast; that I can assure you.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

2009 Boston Marathon - Race Report Prologue

2009 Boston Marathon - Race Report Prologue
Huntsville, AL
April 24, 2009

When I am looking for motivation, I can find it in many places, but only a few that really seem to move me. One of these places is a self-inspirational movie based in Boston, which ironically, is where my latest adventure and the basis of this story is focused. Now others might not have the same reaction to this Academy Award winning movie as I do and that is probably one of the reasons why it is so special to me. Each time I watch 'Good Will Hunting', I gain strength from many of interactions between the main characters, Matt Damon, Robin Williams and Ben Affleck. When I am done watching it, I want to tell people close to me that I love them, I want to tackle tasks I've been putting off in my life, I want to plan new adventures and I want to live my life in a way that matters. It is a feel good movie from which I find inspiration.

One the scenes in particular that I watched while on the airplane for this year's Boston Marathon is conversation between Damon and Affleck's characters toward the end of the movie. In this scene, Chuckie (Affleck), has just asked Will (Damon) where his lady friend (Minnie Driver) has been. Will has just responded that she moved to California about a week earlier. Chuckie is disgusted that Will has let her go without chasing her, as they were clearly meant for each other and that was Will's chance at love and his opportunity to get out of South Boston.

Here is the dialogue that goes on between them in this scene, with a few vulgarities replaced.


Look, you're my best friend, so don't take this the wrong way, but in 20 years, if you're livin' next door to me, comin' over watchin' (bleepin') Patriots' games and still workin' construction, I'll (bleepin') kill you. And that's not a threat, that's a fact. I'll (bleepin') kill you.


Chuckie, what are you talkin'...


Listen, you got somethin' that none of us have.


Why is it always this? I owe it to myself? What if I don't want to?


(Bleep) you. You owe it to me. Tomorrow I'm gonna wake up and I'll be fifty and I'll still be doin' this. And that's all right 'cause I'm gonna make a run at it. But you, you're sittin' on a winning lottery ticket and your too much of a (Bleep) to cash it in. And that's bullshit 'cause I'd do anything to have what you got! And so would any of these guys. It'd be a (bleepin') insult to us if you're still here in twenty years.


You don't know that.


Let me tell you what I do know. Every day I come by to pick you up and we go out drinkin' or whatever and we have a few laughs. But you know that the best part of my day is? The ten seconds before I knock on the door 'cause I let myself think I might get there, and you'd be gone. I'd knock on the door and you wouldn't be there. You just left. Now I don't know much, but I know that.

Now it may not seem clear why I mention this in terms of the Boston Marathon, but that is what I will try to explain.

Going back to May of 2007 in Green Bay at the Cellcom Marathon was when I originally met the qualifications standards set forth by the BAA making me eligible to run in the Boston Marathon. Realizing that this was a dream come true and the end result of years of hard work, I quickly signed up to run in April of 2008. It was a wonderful experience being a first time runner at Boston and I will never forget the memories that I have from the race and the entire trip. I think that I accurately captured the range of emotions that I went through during the marathon in my post race write up. I didn't run my best time, but I was able to qualify for the 2009 running, in case I did not re-qualify at another marathon. After returning home and moving on to other races, the memories of Boston faded a little and time passed. In training for and competing in Rocket City Marathon in December, my goal was to break three hours in the marathon for the first time. In the build up from this race, I had little thoughts of returning to Boston. I thought that I had done it once and that was enough. I had forgotten about how amazing it felt to run from Hopkinton, passing by the Wellesley College girls, up Heartbreak Hill, through Kenmore Square, and finally down Boylston in front of thousands of fans. After hitting my goal time in Huntsville, I decided that I would give Boston another shot. This time with less to prove than going for the first time, knowing that I was already deemed worthy, having qualified and run previously. This time it was much less about me, but more about you.

I feel like I have been blessed with a gift; one that I did not realize that I had until in my early thirties. The ability to run, endure pain for long distances and do it very fast has been bestowed upon me. To me this really is a gift, as there are a limited number of people in the world who can do what I do. I am not the best at what I do, but I appreciate the talent that flows through my veins. I have never taken this for granted and am thankful for every step that I can take when running or racing. I feel like I have been given the opportunity to run and go on these amazing adventures and combine it with my passion for writing to capture it all and share it with everyone who wants to follow along.

See, for me not to take advantage of the winning lottery ticket that I am sitting on with my natural ability, ability to recover quickly and my sheer determination to excel would be like cheating myself and all of you. I see other people who have so much talent, yet don't take advantage of it, thus squandering it away. Like Chuckie says to Will, he would do anything to have what Will has. I realize that I'm blessed with this gift and I am not going to let it waste away. Maybe it is because I am continually testing the limits of my own heart that I can't imagine not trying to find out what I could possibly do; what my limits truly are. I may be scared as hell each time I go out, but if there was not a risk of failure, the reward of success would not feel as great as it does. So instead of just sitting on that lottery ticket and never seeing what my come from it, I am going to continue to give it everything I have, for as long as I can, and experience life at ten miles an hour.

If I didn't run and let these fleet feet of mine propel me forward, I feel like I would be letting both of us down.

I am actively working on composing details from the race which will be out in the next few days. Until then, run strong and long!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

2009 Boston Marathon - Prerace

2009 Boston Marathon - Prerace
April 19, 2009
Boston, MA

I am going to tell you a little secret; I am going to let you in inside my head.

I am amidst some of the best runners in the in the world on the biggest stage in the country. For the most part, each of these athletes earned their way in through a qualification time, meaning that they truly are the best of the best. While on an easy run today, I met Ryan Hall and saw his wife Sara run past. Dink Taylor and I then watched the invitation only mile races where the high school boys and girls of the Boston area competed and the elite races featured the likes of Carrie Tolefson, Ian Dobson and Olympian Shalane Flanagan. While there we talked with a guy from San Diego who was preparing to run under 2 hours and 30 minutes. At the expo, we walked amongst many elite athletes signing autographs and 25,000 other non elites picking up their bib numbers, all whom deserve to be here.

I have every reason to be nervous, stick to my stomach and worried about running with such competition. Though I am not going to win, nor place in my age group, I feel tremendous pressure to perform at the best of my ability.

I am scared as hell.

Until you have been to the Boston Marathon, you can’t understand the enormity of this event. It is bigger than the athletes, bigger than the city and bigger than the sport. As much as I try to find the words to describe how it feels to be here, the less I have to say. I walked through the expo today and had cold chills throughout the entire experience. Though I was here last year, I feel like a first timer all over again this year. For three days, this city transforms into marathon central and every man, woman and child here knows what it means to compete at this level in the marathon. Over 26.2 miles tomorrow there will be millions of people who celebrate Patriot’s Day by making the way from their small row homes and from the remote suburbs to line the streets and cheer for people they have never met. I’ve been to many other marathons in other large cities, but the feeling that you have making your way from Hopkinton to Boston, taking a mere four turns between the two cities, is something that you can only identify with once you live it. I’ve read other people’s accounts of the race, and I’ve written my own, but you just have to be here to understand what I am having difficulty trying to say.

So tomorrow morning at six am, I will get on a bus with Dink and travel west to Hopkinton, where we will wait in large tents for three more hours before starting the race. Hopefully, less than three hours later I will be back in Boston, running along Boylston, with a smile on my face and a fist pumped in the air, celebrating my own accomplishments; the effort it took to get here; the heritage of the race now in it’s 113th running; the training partners that ran countless miles with me along the way; my support crew here and all those others than made it possible for me to be on this stage. Many of you have sent your well wishes and it really means the world to me that you will be watching.

See, despite being lost in the enormity of this event and scared as hell, I earned my entry. There are only 906 non-elites that have faster qualifying times than me and tomorrow I am going to prove that I deserve to be here too. I am going to give it everything I've got and lay it all out on the line, because I don't know any other way to run.

I’ll see you here next year and then you can tell me how this race impacts your life.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

2009 River City Run 10km

2009 River City Run 10km
Decatur, AL
April 11, 2009
Official Results

Every runner looks forward to a race where they can showcase their hard work in ideal conditions. Nothing speaks fast times more than the River City 10k in Decatur, Alabama. This course is very flat with limited turns and is held in mid April, when the heat and humidity are typically not a factor. If you happen to get so lucky to get temperatures in the low 40’s with overcast skies and only a light breeze, you had better take advantage of it because it will be a long time before everything will line up so perfectly again. If all northern Alabamians has a running resume, their 10k personal best time would most likely be at River City.

For the 2009 edition of this race, there was the added element of it also being the RRCA Alabama 10km State Championship, which meant that the competition would be fierce. The competition in conjunction with the perfect weather and course conditions left runners with an opportunity to give it everything they had and race all out for fast times.

For me this was my last tune up before traveling to the northeast to run the Boston Marathon. Last year at River City I had cut 80 seconds off of a soft personal best 10k time, running 36:37, which at the time seemed like I was flying along. I parlayed this uplifting performance in Decatur with a decent first attempt at Boston. Comparing my training and racing leading into River City 08 and River City 09 are like comparing apples to oranges. Yes I had the miles and the long runs and a few dress rehearsal races before my 6th place finish (of 168 competitors) of 2008, but that seems like a different era of my running career. Since then I’ve logged 3800 miles, run 44 races and drastically lowered my personal bests at every distance I’ve attempted. Modestly, I’ve gone from winning my age group to being at least in the chase pack behind the winners. The times are now faster and the expectations are now higher than they have ever been.

Lining the toe of my new lime green Saucony Fastwitch racing flats up to the starting line, I new that I was in for a fight from beginning to end. The field was not deep, but it was top heavy. In warm ups, I estimated that it would take a sub 37 to make the top 10 and a sub 35 to make the to 5. Based on my training and recent race times, I planned on trying to run a pace that would put me somewhere behind the top entrants, with David Riddle, Josh Whitehead and Tyrone XXXX figuring to round out the top three. I had gone old school with my race plan on this day, as I had done recently with writing my projected splits on my left forearm. Today the splits were not extensive, as it was my intent to run very even. I simply had written, “530ALLDAY.”

After an odd start where the race directing yelling ‘go’ did not coincide with the horn, which made the front runners take a stutter step instead of a good push off, we were headed down the road. It didn’t take long for David to state his case to win, taking off smoothly and effortlessly to a low 5-minute mile. He was chased by Josh, who notoriously likes to rabbit or front run at races before coming back to the pack. As expected, Tyrone chased behind, but surprisingly, Hirbo Hirbo was running stride for stride with him. I had competed against Hirbo several times last summer, losing to him in a sprint to the finish at Da Do Run Run, where he took me in the last 100 meters, and more recently where I crushed him significantly at Dam Bridge Run 10k in October. I knew he had been racing extensively, but I didn’t expect him to start so quickly. I followed along, running right at my goal pace as we rounded the first corner and headed out of the park.

I was completely taken aback when from out of nowhere; Heath White accelerated passed me and ran out in front by 20 meters. Heath had not beaten me since this race last year, as he had somewhat fallen out of shape. That said, Heath is an animal and has run amazingly fast times and won this race in 2008. I let him go past just so that I could keep running with even effort. I ran through the first mile in 5:32.

As we headed west almost half way through our second mile, I had noticed that our pace was slowing behind Heath. Somehow he was starting to fade already! I increased my leg turnover and ran past him, but in the process of following him, it has cost me several seconds, thinking that he was running where I wanted to be. As I ran by, he jokingly said, “This five-thirty stuff is not for me!” Not looking back to see who it was, a runner that had been running right behind me since the park exit laughed at this statement.

We turned made a southern turn and faced the steepest hill on the course that lead up to the two mile mark. Whoever was running behind me was staying with me stride for stride and said something about the hill, making a reference about the fact that it wasn’t a hill. In reality it is not a hill; not by my standard definition of a hill that I use in training, but when running at 95% of VO2Max, it seemed like Everest. By the time we got to the ‘summit’, the runner behind me had changed his tune and said that it was a killer! We rolled through this mile, with the slow in pace behind Heath, the slight hill and the beginning of the ‘middle-miles’ stretch in 5:39.

Our next mile was all about discoveries. The mystery runner behind me finally reveled himself to be John Nevels. I had known John for quite some time, as he had run on our 4 Guy Century relay team at Delano12 last year and from other races in the past year. I have to say that I have never been so surprised in a race, as I was by John. I hadn’t seen him much since his 100-mile race at Pinhotti in November and when out of sight, out of mind. I couldn’t believe that he was running 5:30 pace along side of me after two miles of a 10k. To his credit, he was not only running well, but he passed me and pulled out in front by 10 meters. This meant that I was now in 6th place overall, matching my place from 2008, only what would be 90 seconds faster if I could hold onto this pace. I used John’s display of speed pull me along behind, trying to stay within striking distance as the race progressed. We went through the third mile in 5:33, putting us at 16:44 through three miles.

The 4th mile was mostly a blur in my memory. Maybe this was because I was trying to just get through the middle miles and make it to the end where I could start my long surge. Chasing John through the neighborhoods was great motivation to stay strong and I came through with another 5:35 mile putting me at 22:17. This was far behind my 4 mile split at Damn Bridge where I had set my 10k personal best last winter, but I was still running strong on this day, whereas the last two miles in Florence where uphill, then rolling into the finish after going out at 5k pace in the first half of that race. On this day in Decatur, I was right where I wanted to be at, time-wise. At the end of the 4th mile we made our way out onto the main road and right into a headwind.

This headwind was the fiercest that we had faced all day. The wind had been swirling and seemed to be working against us with each turn, but now it had cranked up the intensity and it was standing us straight up. John clearly was struggling into the wind as he was leading and I was trailing, though not close enough to draft. I sensed that he was slowing, so I decided to pass. I knew that a passing move into the wind is not the best racing move, but I was feeling strong and figured that I had to strike while I had a chance. With his young legs he certainly would out-kick me at the end if I left the window open. I passed decisively, as you should, and opened up a small gap, before bring the pace back down to where we were before the wind. I ran through the aid station and made the left turn onto the uneven back roads of the park toward the finish. As I pulled away, John yelled to me, “Go get ‘em Eric.” I motioned back to him with my right hand in the air to acknowledge him and accept his words of encouragement. I didn’t know if this meant that he was going to drop off or not, but it was nice to hear. What I think he meant was that Hirbo was within line of sight and had slowed significantly, coming back to us whereas with a strong push, I might be able to catch him. Our 5th mile a slow 5:39. This brought our overall pace up to 5:35.2 pace with a long windy mile yet to run.

I was now running in the zone where my mind knew that my legs were working hard, but that I could sustain it for another 7 minutes to the finish. The question would be if I had enough to go out and get Hirbo, as he was coming back to me, but not enough for me to overtake without a sustained push. We were running on uneven footing which made it difficult to pick out a decent line, so I felt like I was veering side to side to fine a nice path on the blacktop needed repairs about 20 years ago. John had not fallen off at, but instead felt like he was catching his second wind and closing the gap quickly. After looking back at my 5:42 split for this mile, I realize that I was actually slowing down, which in combination of John increasing his speed, made that gap disappear quickly. It was obvious that I wasn’t going to close on Hirbo, but now as we rounded the final corner into the home stretch, John was again passing and moving ahead. I gave him the encouragement that he gave me a few minutes earlier and told him to go get him (Hirbo).

I think that John may have started his final push too soon, and as we again ran into the swirling winds again (now coming from the west). I was not speeding up that much in my final kick, but John started to slow. It was not time to think about this and analyze what was going on; we were in the last 400 meters and I jumped at the chance to run passed. I got a little lift from this and actually picked up the pace as we ran alongside the soccer fields and toward the final turn, and the finish. I was not looking back, but I couldn’t hear his footsteps behind me as we approached the crowd and I made the turn and sprinted toward the finish. As I crossed the line, I stopped my watch at 34:54. I took a few staggering steps trying to catch my breathe and John came through six seconds later. Our long hard fought battle ended with less than 1 second per mile of separation between us. I was 9 seconds off of my personal best, but I held 5:36.98 pace over the 6.214 mile distance, which was inline with my race plan. I had not left anything in the tank, and laid it all out on the line in this race, especially with my last push toward the end. I am very proud of my time and my 5th place finish and impressed beyond belief with John’s outstanding performance.

A few other notable performances were put in on this day as well and they deserve mentioning. These include Greg Reynolds making a wrong turn, getting lost and still running a sub 36. Emily Hardin beat Candace Jacobs and along with David, who outlasted Josh, each earned state championship honors. Training partner and overall good guy Marty Clarke took the male masters honor as well. I don’t think that I heard a single complaint about any of the fast times that most people turned in. Mother nature did her job to keep the conditions near ideal and the course did not disappoint.

So now post race, I am staring right into the face of the Boston Marathon, coming off a near personal best 10k time, yet feeling slightly under trained for the specific needs of the marathon. In hindsight I should have logged more long runs, more tempo runs, more quality runs at marathon pace and focused less on racing every weekend (River City was my 5th race in as many weeks and 10th in 11 weeks, with three of them being 50km ultra marathons). But I can’t change where I am, I can only do the best with what I have and do it on the worlds largest stage ~ The 113th running of the Boston Marathon.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Run Across Alabama for Elliott

What and When?

Starting on July 1st at the Georgia Border near Cloudland, GA and Mentone, Alabama, the run will travel west across Alabama through Fort Payne, Guntersville, Hartselle, Moulton, Russellville, and on July 4th will finish at the Mississippi State line near Red Bay, Alabama. Runners will complete about 50 miles a day for three days followed by a 26.2 mile marathon on the 4th day for a total of 180 miles.


Elliott Schotz was diagnosed with infantile Tay Sachs disease at 9 months old. Although he will never walk, let alone run, one of his favorite pastimes is riding in the jog stroller during his dad's weekend runs. Fresh air, sunshine, and a nice breeze is heaven to him and his dad. One of the lessons Elliott has taught us is to enjoy and live for today and embrace what we have and what we can do. Our hope is that by completing the run across Alabama, we will help raise awareness of Tay Sachs and raise money for NTSAD as well as inspire others to dream big.


Eric Schotz
Jon Elmore
Eric Charette
more TBD

The Course
Map of the Course

Day 1: 54.35 miles From Cloudland, Georgia to Guntersville State Park
Day 2: 51.33 miles from Guntersville to Hartselle
Day 3: 47.78 miles from Hartselle to Russellville
Day 4: 26.26 miles from Russellville to past Red Bay, AL (MS border)


July 1, 2, 3, 4

How Can You Help?

- We will have running log books for you to 'run=along' with the mileage over the course of May and June for what we will do in 4 days.
- We will have a website set up for donations to Tay Sachs
- You can run one, two, three or four days of the journey with us!!!


Blog of the daily life of Elliott
National-Tay Sachs & Allied Diseases Association
Twitter Updates during the run

Saturday, April 4, 2009

2009 Scholarship Fund Run 8k

2009 Scholarship Fund Run 8k
Huntsville, AL
April 4, 2009
Official Results

In arriving on a plane from rural Iowa at late on Friday night, I had no time to really think about this race. The extent of my race planning was to look at my splits from 2008, lower them all by about 10 seconds per mile based on my current fitness level and write them 'old-school' on my left inner forearm in red permanent marker.

I sort of look at the 2008 8k race as my 'coming-out' party where I really stepped up my game and started to compete toward the top of the leader board, as opposed to the age-grouper that I had been before. I ran 29:21 last year on this hilly course in perfect temperatures. While this doesn't seem overwhelmingly fast to me know (I went 28:01 for 5 miles at Lake Antoine Classic four months later), at the time this was a personal record and placed me 4th overall behind Jason Reneau, Donald Bowman and David Purinton. This race doesn't draw much younger talent, as it is after the spring track season begins, which limits the number of races that they can compete in. Either way, this race in 2008 marked the beginning of a very good streak of road races for me that culminated in personal records at every distance from 5k to the marathon. So despite the miserable two loop course with a two-tiered hill combination of Adams then Eustis on mile 3, I look back at this race fondly.

2008 Splits
Mile 1: 5:54
Mile 2: 5:45
Mile 3: 6:00
Mile 4: 5:54
Mile 5: 5:44 (0.97 miles for 8k)

2009 Goal Splits
Mile 1: 5:45
Mile 2: 5:35
Mile 3: 5:50
Mile 4: 5:45
Mile 5: 5:35 (0.97 miles for 8k)

Since the Monte Sano 15k last fall, it seems like every road race in this area has been completely stacked with last minute talent. As of Wednesday, I only saw a few fast names on the list, but by the time we toed the line, just about every fast runner in town out of college was there. It scares me to see such a competitive field, but it also compels me to push that much harder knowing who is in front of me or just on my tail. Plus it makes the reward that much sweeter when the competition is that much better.

The weather was much warmer than I prefer for a road race. Had we started this race at seven or eight am (don't get me started on this) it would have been perfect conditions. With the 9:00 am start, the temperatures had soared into the low 60's which meant the times would be slightly slower than normal. It also meant that I was racing sans singlet. I seem to get really hot when racing, so I don't mind to race without a shirt, but it does mean pinning my bib number on my shorts which I am not crazy about in non trail races.

From the start, Josh took off at his usual sub 5 minute-mile pace leaving us in the dust. He comes back to the field eventually, but he does like to run all out from the start. As we crossed Lowe, it was Donald, David, George and myself running in a close second. The first climb up Adams is a tough one, but since it is so early and the adrenaline is flowing and the legs are fresh, I pushed up the hill pretty hard. By the top of the hill, I had put enough of a surge on to create some separation and move into second behind Josh.

It felt great to make the turn from Adams and stretch my legs out for a second with some longer strides. This was short lived as we made the turn onto Eustis and started to climb again. George pulled even and we begin to run together, with me on the inside for the next few turns. We ran the first mile in 5:30, which was much faster than I wanted to be (5:45 goal for the mile) but I was committed already, so I locked it in and kept going. I later wondered if I had started slower, how much energy would I have had to make a late push and pass.

George stayed close to me as we came down Randolph. I love to race down Randolph as the road is in good shape with newer blacktop, making it a little springy and it is slightly downhill toward the square, so I can usually open things up. I kept putting moves on George, by striding out and making a gap, but his short legs kept their quick turnover and he would quickly close again. We passed the court house and down Madison and the two mile mark in 5:31, putting us at 11:01 through two miles.

I had tried to peak a little as we turned around the town square, and it looked like Donald was not too far back, but I did not see Jason. This race was important for quite a few reasons, including the prize money and the potential for 85 or 100 HTC Gran Prix points in the open Male division. I've made it no secret that I want to win the Gran Prix and think that it is possible if I can earn more than 900 points and David Riddle does not compete in 10 events (as we would earn 100 points for each victory, giving him 1000 points and make him unbeatable).

Coming through the aid station on Madison, I took water, which is not normal for me. I had been fighting dry mouth the whole race, due to my lack of proper hydration lately and was having a difficult time breathing or swallowing. I took a few sips, then a few strides then a few more sips to dampen my throat. This cost me a few steps and George pulled away, although without it, I could not have continued on at that pace.

We made the turn onto Lowe back toward the Adams. This is a five lane road and it is possible to run the tangents (how the course is measured and certified) and not waste time or energy. I had mapped the course previously so I had it in mind to run the tangents through here, while George ran near the sidewalk on the north side of the road. I certainly was not cheating, but I made up significant time on him here.

We turned up Adams again, and I heard a few shouts from the crowd, which I think was fellow Fleet Feet Racing teammates Joey Butler, Linda Scavarda and Greg Reynolds. I didn't go all out climbing up Adams, but shifted to a sustainable pace where I could focus on my breathing. I wasn't struggling at all, but as planned, this mile is just slower than the others. I came through at 5:53, which was only one second slower than my goal.

We turned onto Eustis and made the final climb of the race. I kept my form in check with good arm swing and powered up the hill, checking to my left on Donald as we turned onto White Street. I recovered quickly and opened up my stride again and immediately got back to race pace as we made the turns from Clinton to Randolph again. I was rejoicing in the fact that we would soon be done! I came through mile four in 5:50. This was slightly slower than I had hoped, but I was fine with it, knowing that I was doing what I needed to in order to maintain my position. Clearly Josh and George were not coming back to me and I wasn't going to close on them either, so now it was a battle for 3rd place and running against the clock. I was in no way settling for 3rd, but I also am a realist.

The funny moment of the race was when I ran passed the children's museum and heard a police officer comment to someone 'that is the last time we are going to see him' about me as I passed. They could tell the first lappers from the second lappers based on pace, but it just struck me as funny. Maybe they said this as every runner passed by to help lift their spirits. Either way, it was enough of comic relief that I temporarily forgot about the fatigue in my calves.

I increased the intensity coming down Madison, trying to narrow the gap on George and have a strong finish. I was really working hard now as there was less than a 1/2 mile to go. I again ran the tangents on Lowe and turned onto Adams toward the finish. I gave a quick peek around made sure that I wasn't going to get out sprinted at the finish line and pushed ahead. In the last mile I told myself that if I could run 5:45 pace, that it would force Donald or anyone else behind me to run 5:30 or better to catch me. If they could pull that off, then they deserved to be in the top 3.

I ran the last 0.97 miles in 5:43 and finished with a time of 28:27 and was 3rd overall. I staggered for a few steps to catch my breathe before getting some more fluids.

I virtually took no rest before heading back out on the course to cheer for other runners and help them with encouragement. I went back out several times and eventually ended up running with two very nice girls from Madison to the finish. We made small talk as I tried to help them with encouraging words all the way to the end. They were very appreciative which is nice, but not the reason why I do it. I just like to help others out any way I can, but especially when it comes to hitting their goals in races.

I feel bad for poor Mark Ullom. He must be thinking what can he do? This race was stacked with plenty of fast guys and all of them were 30 and over! Does this qualify as the new 'Old Man's Race of Huntsville?' At least Mark has young 24 year old legs and maybe will surpass us all someday.

01 Josh Whitehead, 30 - 26:48
02 George Dewitt, 50 - 28:03
03 Eric Charette, 33 - 28:27
04 Donald Bowman, 41 - 28:45
05 Jason Reneau, 33 - 28:59
06 David Purinton, 41 - 29:00
07 Marty Clarke, 47 - 29:22
08 Shane O'Neill, 36 - 29:54
09 Mark Ullom, 24 - 29:58
10 Dink Taylor, 43 - 30:08

2009 Goal Splits vs Actual Splits
Mile 1: 5:45 - 5:30 (actual)
Mile 2: 5:35 - 5:31 (actual)
Mile 3: 5:50 - 5:53 (actual)
Mile 4: 5:45 - 5:51 (actual)
Mile 5: 5:35 (0.97 miles for 8k) - 5:43 (actual)

Looking at the goal times vs the actual times is interesting because my actual times from 2009 very very similar to 2008. The difference was in the first two miles were I blew away both last year and my goal times. In hindsight maybe I could have gone 5:45, 5:35 and then had more gas in the tank late in the race, but I would have had to make up 19 seconds that way and I am not sure it is possible for me on this course. Plus running further back in the pack might change the outcome with other runners pushing harder knowing that they are closer to the front. I won't question it though, because it is what it is and that is 3rd place and a cash prize of $25. Especially on a competitive day where nearly the entire top 10 went under 30 minutes.

Twas a good day.