Todd’s First Ironman

todd-stabenow-photoA good friend, Todd Stabenow, is participating in his first Ironman (Chattanooga) this year and raising money for a great cause.   I’m supporting him not only because of our friendship, he is also putting up a $1,500 4-night stay in Charleston to one lucky winner.

Every $30 donation gives you an entry where you have no worse than a 1/100 chance of winning a stay Sept-May in this beautiful Charleston home.

You can make an easy tax-free donation through the following link: http://goo.gl/IZ4wdO

Go Todd!

Hill-Workout-Charlotte-South-Cedar-Garmin-Map

Hill Workouts – Great Charlotte Location for Hill Sprints

According to Runner’s World, hill workouts are one of the greatest ways to improve strength and speed.

If you are unfamiliar with hill workouts here are two great articles on the benefits:

Hill Training – Brian Mac, Sports Coach
Mastering Hill Workouts – Pete Magill, Running Times

Looking for a good medium hill in Charlotte to do a hill workout? My favorite for the 400m distance is located close to the Bank of America Panthers stadium on Greenleaf Ave and West 1st Street off South Cedar Street.

Hill-Workout-Charlotte-South-Cedar

There is plenty of parking on either street, and the traffic flow is low in the mornings. After you warm up, I recommend starting here and running to the top of Greenleaf Ave.

Recover back down the same hill until you reach your starting point, then run the opposite direction (West 1st Street) until you reach the top. Repeat the recovery jog down, and run back up Greenleaf Ave.

Here is what the workout looks like if you are using a Garmin:

If you are using a watch, you can leave the clock running, pressing the lap button at the start and stop of each hill to gauge your splits.

Hill-Workout-Charlotte-South-Cedar-Garmin-Laps

Give it a try, I believe you will like the hill variation, challenge and scenery.

2014 Race Calendar

Below is my 2014 tentative race calendar. Provided I stay injury free, the following are on my radar with New York City Marathon confirmed.

Charleston Half-Marathon (Jan 18) 1:18:45 (New Half-Marathon PR, 2nd overall)

BB&T Corp Cup Team 5K (Mar 8) 17:31 (3rd overall)

Charlotte 10 Miler (Mar 23) 17:15 (New 10 Mile PR, 1st overall)

Know Your Craft 5K (Apr 5) 17:15 (3rd overall)

CPCC Skyline 5K (Apr 26)

Blue Ridge Relay (Sep 5-6)

Lynchburg 10 Miler (Sep 27)

New York City Marathon (Nov 2) [Confirmed]

Do you have a race calendar in place for 2014? 

Exercise can reorganize the brain and boost your willpower

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Exercise is not only good for the body, your brain also benefits.

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Sure, exercise is good for your body, but what about your brain? Well apparently there’s a link between exercise and mental alertness, in a similar way that happiness and exercise are related.

A lifetime of exercise can result in a sometimes astonishing elevation in cognitive performance, compared with those who are sedentary. Exercisers outperform couch potatoes in tests that measure long-term memory, reasoning, attention, problem-solving, even so-called fluid-intelligence tasks.

Of course, exercise can also make us happier, as we’ve explored before:

If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and things are clear after exercising and eventually happy.

At the same time, endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, are released in your brain. The main purpose of endorphis is this, writes researcher McGovern:

These endorphins tend to minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain and are even associated with a feeling of euphoria.

 

Gateway Outer Banks (OBX) Marathon

Today marks 6 days since running the 2013 Gateway Outer Banks Marathon. Since this was a PR marathon for me, I would like to provide a short report on the course and experience.

Outer Banks (OBX) Marathon offers beauty, history, and pockets of sincere crowd support. This year the race was capped at 2,500 runners; something I understood later along the course. Just in front of me, in the elite corral, I offered support to Dalena Custer and Bill Shires, two strong runners from Charlotte who I train with. They took off a minute before the rest of the marathoners, fading around the bend. As the race director counted down, I took a couple deep breaths and mentally prepared for a few hours on my feet.

Miles 1-6 were relaxing on winding two lane roads. I settled into my target pace of 6:36, hoping to group up with other runners around the same split. Unfortunately, that never happened and I relied on the crowd as running partners.

Miles 6-12 warmed up with sunshine and historical flight. Passing by the famous Wright Brother Monument allowed you to shift focus, enjoying the beauty where the first flight took place. Surprisingly my wife had staked out a spot around mile 8.5, bringing an instant smile to my face. With my pace still on target, things were going pretty well before starting the Nags Head Woods Nature Preserve at mile 10.

Miles 12-18 brought back memories of running junior varsity cross country. After two miles on hard packed gravel and sand, the course took a sharp left up a hill onto a narrow trail. I caught a pack of three runners; Natalie Hall, Jim Warrenfeltz (author of Runner’s World article: Race Recap: The Outer Banks Marathon), and Martin Thorne. Martin and Jim let me glide by and when the course returned to the road, I hung with Natalie for a bit. Jim caught back up a mile later and we enjoyed talking before I pulled away. Hindsight, I should have stayed with good company!

Miles 18-21 were flat and fast. Around mile 20 my wife was there to greet me with a gel and supporting words. Continuing around 6:36 pace, I could feel my legs getting heavy.

Miles 22-26.2, welcome to survival mode. A combination of wind (headwind at 8 mph) and fatigue hit me like a ton of bricks around mile 22. My pace slowed to low 7 minute miles. Natalie breezed past me, offering some kind words that gave me strength. I made it over the bridge and passed mile 24 cranking out high 7 minute pace. Jim passed me and then I realized that I had just over a mile left. Cruising in to the finish felt great, an inexpressible feeling of accomplishment that all runners love.

OBX was my 4th marathon, giving me a new PR of 2:58:45. My time was a bit slower than goal, however I was pleased with the result.