Wednesday, March 20, 2019

That Time I Ran Two Races In One Day

 You may have seen my running videos. Usually I do a race a week or two and upload a montage of it later that day or the next, but there are the rare days where I record two events on the same day.  March 9th was one of those rare days.

  When I usually sign up for a race, I look at my calendar to see if I’m free that morning, pay the fee, and block that date out.  But for March 9th, two races were scheduled, and both supported great causes. 
the start line

  I first signed up for the March for Meals 5k which supports Senior Resources Inc. and their Meals on Wheels program.  I’ve done this particular off and on again since 2015 mostly because Army commitments would prevent me from running in it each year consecutively.  Besides the opportunity to donate to helping senior citizens, this race takes place in one of my favorite running areas: the Timmerman Trail.

Wooden Foot Bridge
  It’s a pretty relaxing paved trail that spans over several wooden foot bridges and a few concrete and iron bridges as well.  The March for Meals 5k starts in front of an activities center and has you running on a road for the first half mile until you get to the Lexington Medical Center’s administrative building parking lot. 

  It’s a very nice, scenic path through the woods and overlooks a few creeks along the way. While the 5k route didn’t allow us, there are parts of the Timmerman Trail that also run alongside part of the Congaree River for a bit.  

  The race itself was nice, the medals are pretty distinct from others in that place winners get a plate or a medal spoon. I did well enough a few years ago to earn one, and it is still one of my more treasured trophies.  This year, Senior Resources showcased their newly acquired taco truck and all participants received a free taco, be it beef, chicken, chorizo, or veggie.  This was a big bonus for doing the race. The shirt was an improvement this year as well. In previous years, the race shirt was a long sleeve Hanes t-shirt. This year, the shirt was made of a thinner material.

The crowd. Just beyond them was the parking area.
  In fact, the only issue with the race is the parking, and how to get to the parking area. Each year, participants end up driving through the start/finish line to get to the dirt parking lot.  Most times, this is not an issue, but as it gets closer to race time, people gather at the start line and you always have one or two cars show up to park, in which everyone has to get out of the way.  There is another way to the parking area, so hopefully, volunteers at next year’s race can direct people to go that way instead. 

  As for the race, I ran a decent 8:15 average mile. There were a few hills in there, but nothing like downtown Columbia, Charlotte, or even Atlanta.  However, I didn’t expect to push myself since I had a race that night and halfway through the morning run, I decided that I should range-walk or jog the second race.  That didn’t happen.

The Run for Her Life 5k Opening Ceremony

The Start
   The second race, the Run for Her Life 5k, was a charity race for the Lighthouse for Life to raise awareness on domestic underage human trafficking.  And this race was a glow race that took place in Saluda Shoals Park. There’s something about glow races that brings people out of the woodwork.   It was packed, but I could hear the DJ playing in the starting line area, packet pick-up went great, and the race shirt was a tech shirt (a big plus in my book). 

  The race took place well after sunset and they modified the course a little due to the rains from the previous night.  As usual, I started in the back, but my wife and youngest started in the middle. And let me say that I planned on running slow,
but once the horn went off, I got swept up in the enthusiasm, eagerness, and festive mood from other people and I started to run faster.  My daughter wanted to run as well, so she brought off from my wife.

High Fiving at the the finish line
I didn’t catch Tori until about half a mile into the race because of the crowds.  Once I got alongside my youngest, I stayed with her, and she was such a trooper.  We enjoyed the glow lights along the course, partook in the water stations, and most of it kept each company.  While I averaged a 10:15 mile with my daughter, the important thing was that I ran almost the entire race with her.

  Tori walked a little, but she kept going and finished strong. I got to see my little 10 year old cross the finish line with the heart of a lion, and she made me so proud.

My Tori

  If you would like, you can see both race videos here:

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Running Shoes and AAFES: Now a Good Option

Under Armour. They make decent running shoes now
  For the vast majority of my military career, I would go to the local Post or Base Exchange, PX for the Army and BX for the Air Force, and just buy the cheapest pair of running shoes that would fit my feet. I didn’t pay attention to tread, didn’t know about quality, and definitely only cared about how little they cost. I knew about brands such as Nike, Reebok, and Adidas and in my younger days figured that name recognition would take care of quality.  I heard all about how to take care of my feet from the Army’s fitness trainers, serious runners, and teammates who competed in high school and collegiate sports, but figured that I wouldn’t worry about my feet and legs unless they started hurting.

New Balance. The first good non-Big Three shoes I would wear.
  My thought process changed about 10 years ago when I realized I was no longer the youthful, energetic person I was at 17 and that while I had been more fortunate than most of my military friends when it came to injuries, I need to take care of my body to keep going.

Brooks. Even more models and colors than I expected
  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Nike, Reebok, or Adidas, but the local military exchange used to carry some shoe brands that looked like running shoes but I never heard of before. And it was about a decade ago, that I noticed the Army and Air Forces Exchange Service (AAFES) started carrying running shoe brands that the running world was familiar with. I saw Brooks, noticed Asics, glanced at New Balance and it was the New Balance shoes that I started using because I remembered some of the faster runners in my unit wearing them.  I also discovered that New Balance wasn’t as expensive as I thought they would be.

Asics, a very good brand that gets overlooked
  These days, the local Base and Post Exchanges carry a good variety of running shoes. Running shoes with name brand recognition and a reputation of performing well for runners.  Durability, quality, and comfort need to be emphasized and the shoe section comes out swinging. 

Brooks running shoes a plenty
  I recently visited the local post exchange and saw a various of running shoe brands that would give your average running store a run for its money, no pun intended.  Besides the usual suspects of Nike, Reebok, and Adidas, I came across Brooks, Mizuno, Saucony, New Balance, Under Armour, Hoka, and Asics.  While I have yet to try running in Under Armour shoes, I know several cross fitters who swear by them for their short distance running.  In addition to road running, I also noticed that AAFES carries trail and hiking shoes by Merrell. I’ve worn their gear before and love the traction.

Salomon. Not a brand I was expecting in AAFES

  The one brand that I did not see, and I absolutely love is the On running shoe company.  But to be fair, I’ve only seen three stores in my city carry them and one of them isn’t known for selling running shoes.

 Shoe prices ranged from 40 dollars (USD) to over 120 dollars, with most shoes hovering around the 80 dollar price mark.  Because shoe companies seem to offset their yearly models from other companies’ schedules, you can find some shoe brands models on sale or even clearance.  While most AAFES employees don’t have advanced knowledge on the various shoe brands, they are able to help determine if you need a neutral, stability, or motion control shoe and there are even a few minimalist shoes as options.  I recommend that if you don’t know what type of shoe you already need, you should bring along a friend or someone from your unit or group who knows quite a bit about running shoes to help you.

  And the best part of getting running shoes is that you do not get charged tax, which can save you even more.
Merrell. For those who like to go off the road