Tuesday, November 6, 2012

And that's a wrap

Not really though, you haven't heard the last of us.

It's been an amazing run and it ended with a pretty good one on Sunday. I'll try to be as brief and least race report-ish as possible, but bare with me.

The last week of taper was hard. I didn't really know what to expect on race day. That's where trusting your training and fitness comes into play. I had to keep telling myself that the work was done and I needed to let things take their course through my body. I felt achey, cranky, lethargic, anxious, nervous, excited and on occasion, relaxed (usually when I was running). But, I made it to race day without ruining or disobeying the taper and I was ready to go, chompin' at the bit.

I had some doubts; I had a phantom pain in my knee that bothered me throughout taper and I also questioned whether I could hold my pace. But when it came time to toe the line, I never looked back.

Gregor and I ran the first mile or so together, but unfortunately he had been nursing an injury for the past two weeks and only able to run sparingly, so we had to be smart and run our own races. Fist bump and we went our separate ways. I was lucky enough to have the one and only Lauren Holesh run up on me and ask to run together. My response: absolutely. The result: best decision ever. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Lauren ran for varsity for UNC and we fed off each other the rest of the way.

We took it out very conservatively, coming through 10km in about 41 minutes. I wanted a conservative 10km split, but this was a little slower than I anticipated, so we kicked it up a notch. As a result, the next 7 miles, to the half marathon split, were a little too fast, coming in a little over 1:25. But, I was right where I wanted to be, assuming I could still pull off a slight negative split.

Lauren and I chatted sometimes and other times not. If things were quiet for a while she would ask me "How are you feeling?" or "What are you thinking?". This helped me to get out of my own head, verbalize things and then reciprocate and ask her how she felt. As Lauren and I approached the turn around at Shelley Lake at mile 17, we passed the woman in 2nd place, putting Lauren in 2nd place. All along she told me that she liked how steady I was and trusted my pacing...this began to make me nervous considering she was in contention to win the women's race! And at this point I started to hurt, miles 18-22 were a struggle zone for me. I told Lauren I understood if she needed to go, she was in 2nd place after all! But, she stuck with me, and I ran those 4 miles glued to her shoulder.

I started to come back into my own as we approached the biggest hill of the course. The hill is right before mile 23, coming up to Meredith College. We passed the 1st place woman at the foot of the hill to take the lead. I asked Lauren if she wanted to make her hurt a bit, her response (once we got to the top): "I hate you." I deserved it, but I think it created a decisive split.

3 long miles left to go. We decided to keep it steady, put one foot in front of the other and hold our pace. At this point we were off the greenway and back in the thick of things with plenty of people to cheer us on. It was cool to see spectators we had seen heading out on the greenway react to the fact that we were still running together at mile 23 and beyond. Mixed in with those reactions were also a lot of, "You got it ladies!" and "You go girls!" My response: "Nope!" I'm not sure people realized that I was indeed not female and I'm not sure why they thought I was in the first place...guess it's time for a haircut.

The last miles dragged on. They include running directly away from the finish line to a turn around, and then straight back down rolling Hillsborough Street to the finish. We had plenty of support from Lauren's family coming down that stretch. We must not have been running very fast because it seemed like they kept up with us for those last 2 miles! Shortly after the last turnaround, we saw the 2nd place woman coming towards us not too far behind and knew we had to go. Passing the last marker before the finish at mile 25 we went. Lauren stayed on my hip and we went as fast as our legs would carry us, which would end up being a 6:35 mile, but felt atrocious at that point.

I ended up finishing a bit ahead of Lauren, making sure not to steal her thunder and get in the way of her finishing tape. But, I think she got me by a few seconds on chip time! We hugged, couldn't really say much at that point, but both knew that we had shared a unique experience. Running an entire marathon with a complete stranger, running from behind to have her take first in the women's race, and working together the entire way...that's a rad story if you ask me. I couldn't have run the race I did without her, and I like to think I helped her out a bit as well!

All said and done, the effort was good enough for a 2:51:14 and 9th place overall. I'll take it!

I couldn't have done it without the support of my family and friends. I had a cheering and loving contingent waiting at the finish line.

I most definitely couldn't have done it without my boy Gregor. We signed up for this thing in May, sorta on a whim. It turned out to be a bonding experience like no other. We trained countless miles and laps around the track together at ungodly hours (morning and night). People talk about the unspoken bond you get from running together, and it's real. As esteemed running coach Mark Wetmore would put it, you're hardened and callused by running, and when you share that it's a weird elation.

But most of all, I couldn't have done it without the inspiration of YOUR support of the Building Phase and Chatham Habitat for Humanity! We have raised an incredible $2,070 and every cent of it will go to Habitat to help them Build affordable housing. It's inspiring to me to have something bigger to run for than myself and it's inspiring to me how people are willing to open-up and give to a worthy cause. Thank YOU for making this experience and making this race.

We hope to keep this endeavor rolling with training for future events, work-site days, and maybe even a Building Phase race of its own! We'll be sure to keep you updated!

Thanks for reading, thanks for supporting, thanks for Building.



p.s. The fundraising site is still open, it's not too late to donate or spread the word! Here's the link: https://sna.etapestry.com/fundraiser/ChathamHabitatforHumanity/buildingphase/

Monday, October 29, 2012

Taper Blues

We're inside the final week of preparation. At this point, there will be no physical gains to be realized on race day. That being said, there is plenty we can be doing to make sure our bodies (and minds) are ready to 'toe the line'.

We both have been obsessively nursing minor injuries for the past couple of weeks. People refer to the 'taper blues' because everything seems to fall apart during taper. While it seems backwards that our bodies would revolt against us when we finally give them some rest, it seems to be a motif of tapering. It's important to keep this in mind and rather than push your body and test its limits, trust in your training and fitness and give your body the rest and TLC it needs.

Tapering is a game of patience, it's a power struggle. If you are patient, heed the almighty taper and use the extra time in lieu of training to do some extra stretching, icing, yoga, etc. then taper can make your race. Alternatively, if you succumb to the taper blues, you can royally screw things up. It always strikes me as funny how we look forward to some rest and recovery, but when it comes time to do so, we're reluctant and resistant (myself included).

But experience and the guidance of more experienced athletes and coaches can ease the process. I keep telling myself, "Keep it simple, stupid," or rather "Keep it easy, stupid." Yesterday, I did something I never do: I cut my run short. My legs were achin', I wasn't enjoying it, and it was supposed to be an easy run but wasn't feelin' it, so I said to hell with it. I cut my run from 12 to 10 miles. Small victories.

Tapering has funny ways of reminding us that a lil' r&r is a necessity. It's completely normal to feel completely insane during taper, but it's important not to let it control you, it's important to be the master of your own taper, and to even try and enjoy it a little (crazy, I know.)

We've built. Now we're putting on the finishing touches. However, let's keep in mind that Habitat is still building every day. Let's stay building and stay inspired! We're going to take some of the extra time during our taper to make a final push in fundraising efforts! So don't be surprised to get a few more emails from us! We are also going to finalize a work site day soon!

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more (anxious) taper updates.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Flying Workout (followed by The Flying Biscuit)

Hey everybody!

Gregor here.  There's a lot to be excited about 22 days out from our marathon!  This morning, Wilbie and I carried out a mock run through of our race-day morning.  So, since the real race starts at 7 a.m., the two of us woke up before the crack of dawn, right around 5 a.m. to get some food in our bellies, and have an idea of how our race-day mornings would feel.  After a tasty english muffin with a handful of blue berries, Wilbie and I each made the trek to Raleigh to run on the actual marathon course.  Our goal for the day was to run a total of twenty miles with 18.5 of those miles at our intended marathon pace.  Remember when I told you there's a lot to be excited about 22 days out?  Well here's the exciting part... we nailed it!!  After a 2 mile unintentional tour of some Raleigh neighborhoods (due to some missing street signs), which we used to get our legs warm on a chilly morning (46 degrees at the start of our run), we kicked it up a notch and started clicking off miles at around 6:45 per mile.  Although we were delayed a few more times in the following 18.5 miles (mostly due to faulty race course directions we got from the race's official website!!), the two of us finished, although rather sluggishly after a few tough hills in the last couple of miles.

All in all it was a great run!  Wilbie and I enjoyed some serene views out by the Shelley Lake part of the course, as well as some awesome running-friendly greenways compliments of the City of Oaks.  From here on out, we'll be starting our phase of training known as the "taper", leading up to the big day.  Over the next three weeks we'll gradually tone down the mileage and intensity of our runs in an effort to make sure our legs are as fresh as possible for race day.  Needless to say, we're both looking forward to backing off from the intensity of the training a bit so we can really see how all of our hard work over the past fifteen weeks has come together.

We definitely learned a few things during today's run that we'll need to address in the next three weeks.  For instance, we'll need to work on those hills so we don't bonk with three miles to go on November 4th!  I also personally learned about The Flying Biscuit, a great place to eat breakfast if you happen to like delicious food (try the oatmeal pancakes with peach compote if you ever find yourself there)!

With race day quickly approaching, Wilbie and I would like to thank those of you who have kept up with our blog and donated to Chatham County Habitat for Humanity.  Your donation goes towards a great cause, and those who ultimately benefit from it will be greatly appreciative!  Remember to let your friends know about our fundraising initiative, and to keep tuning into our blog!

'Til next time,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Press Release

Quick note for you local yokels:

Gregor and I were mentioned in the October release of the Community Sports News. This is a local, monthly periodical that compiles accomplishments, events and results throughout the Triangle.

On page 6, in the "Running News" section, under the subtitle "Woods Second At Asheville HM", is the quote, "Local award winners were William Powell, second 20-24, 1:26:36, Gregory Allison, third, 1:26:37;...".

Very small, but very cool acknowledgement. We appreciate the Community Sports News being such a comprehensive source of information. If you haven't checked it out, you should. It's free and distributed locally at Whole Foods, the Community Center, Homestead Aquatic Center, Foster's Market and many more venues.

Shout-out to my bud, and stellar athlete, Josh West for pointing this article out! If you're into reading about endurance sports training and racing, give his blog a view at: http://joshwestruns.blogspot.com/ . He's fast, insightful, and he has the smarts to explain some more science-y things than we usually write about. It always brightens my day when I see he's updated!

Thanks for the quick read and keep on building!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

4 weeks 'til the big day

Wilbie here.

We haven't been as current or frequent on keeping up with the blog as we'd like to be (as we've been reminded by some faithful Building Phase Team members), so I thought I'd give a quick update on the progression of things over the past few weeks.

Since our Asheville adventure, our training has become pretty rigorous. That race was a stepping stone to the bulkier part of our training plan. We've been nailing some great marathon pace tempo runs, ranging anywhere from 10-20 km. These runs are to practice pace. We have to learn our pace and be comfortable. A marathon is a little over 42 km, so the goal is to get into a rhythm where the pace is brisk, but sustainable. We've blocked off next Saturday for a 30 km run at marathon pace. We're going to head over to Raleigh to scout out the out-and-back portion of the course which encompasses miles 9-25. We're stoked to scout things out and maybe gain a little home-court advantage! Here's a link to the marathon course if anyone is interested: http://cityofoaksmarathon.com/course_info/course-map-full.pdf

We've also been booking some serious gut-wrenching track workouts. These workouts are usually at 5-10 km pace for our purposes. The past three times we hit the track we tackled some heart-breaking mile repeats. We ran 5-6 repeats at each workout. When you're striving for speed, but consistency is key, these workouts can become really tough at the end. But, even with sore legs, even with running 3-4 miles to the track beforehand and sloppily yogging (it's a soft "j") a couple back home afterward, it's safe to say we nailed 'em. We finished off our last mile repeats this past week and are looking forward to some shorter, and faster, repeats to come.

Naturally, in the bulkier part of our training plan, the long runs have bulked-up quite a bit! We've been spacing our long runs about 10 days apart at this point, no need to be controlled by the artificial barriers of a 7-day week! Recently we got in a great 18-miler, which we titled Tour de Chapel Hill because we literally ran around Chapel Hill. But, I must admit, this past week we set out for an ill-advised 21 miler and we were both pretty ruined by the end of it. What we've learned: the weather can make or break your run. the weather has been cool as of recent, so we blocked off Wednesday afternoon to get in the long run. Of course, the one day we block off is 85 and humid. Being the spirited dudes we are, we set out anyway. We planted water and gel in 4 spots the night before, so we had that going for us on our little "self-supported" run. But our bodies weren't having it. We were cramping, hot, and heavy-legged by the half way mark. As one might assume, this did not turn into a fulfilling run. The mileage is in the books, but it did not feel good or productive. The joke's on us for forcing it. While it seems restrictive to always do a long run on Sunday morning...it might just be the way to go. You get up, ya run and you're done before breakfast. No heat, no humidity, no tummy troubles to worry about. But hey, we're learning...we're building.

Things are lining up nicely. We're happy with our progression and we look forward to more in the next four weeks. We're also going to begin a gradual taper here in a bit, so stay tuned for that...it's always an interesting process!

For all you builders out there, we will be having a work site build day, but at this point it's looking like it will be after the race. A post-race build party, if you will. We're looking forward to throwin' on a flannel and swingin' a hammer, and we hope you'll join us. We'll keep you posted.

As always, help us help Chatham Habitat build! You can donate here: https://sna.etapestry.com/fundraiser/ChathamHabitatforHumanity/buildingphase/ Any and every donation makes a difference. So donate, inspire us to build and enable Chatham Habitat to build as well.

In the trial of miles, and miles of trials,


P.S. Shout out to Uncle Tom and Uncle Ed, Gregor's uncle and dad, and two of our biggest fans and Building Phase Team members. Thanks for taking such an interest in our initiative, for keeping us motivated and for an epic weekend in Chapel Hill. 'Yuns' are two of the coolest older dudes I know!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

An Epic Weekend in Asheville

I left my legs and voice somewhere in the hills of Asheville, but it was well worth it. Greg and I, and eight close friends, headed westward on Friday afternoon, cars packed full with camping gear and other (not so) necessary spoils for the weekend.

Friday afternoon/evening was spent setting up camp and hittin' up the race expo, but most importantly we indulged in our pre-race meal at the Mellow Mushroom in downtown Asheville. Delicious food in a delectable atmosphere...it was hard not to over-indulge. Afterwards we made way back to camp and had ourselves a campfire. The race crew, comprised of myself, Greg and my girlfriend Katie, made our way to bed relatively early. We knew we would be crawling out of the tent as the rest of the crew were making their way in.

It was an early morning, crisp and foggy. We made our way into downtown Asheville with a little more than an hour to spare before the race. We spent most of that time in the car, trying to avoid the "cold", but eventually got out to jog a bit and stretch a bit and get rid of any pre-race jitters.

Before I give you the run-down (no pun intended!) of the race, let me give you a few side notes about the week leading into the race. Earlier in the week, before attempting a mini "taper", Greg and I tackled two break-through workouts. The meat of the first was as follows: 3x 1200 at 10km pace, followed by 3x 2 minute hill-repeats, followed by 1x1200 at 10km pace. We nailed it. Started off conservative, but discovered some hot speed on the UNC track before heading to do hill repeats on Raleigh hill. Nailed 'em. We eeked out a few steps further on each repeat. We headed back to the track for the last 1200 and obliterated it. Confidence boost, engaged. The next workout, coming about 36 hours later was a 15km tempo run at marathon pace (MP). We were able to hold MP through some rugged trails and rough hills. After nailing these two key workouts so close together, we were stoked for a little rest and taper,  but most of all for what was to come for the weekend.

Back to the race--we approached it as a workout. Another tempo run at MP. We've been aiming for about 6:45 per mile pace (or a bit faster) for our MP runs. Our plan was to try and keep our effort consistent. We knew we were in for a HILLY run, so we approached it humbly with an open mind. We also kept it light-hearted and conversational for the most part, much to the dismay of some around us. We clocked a fast first mile, pulled it back a bit. In the second and third miles we were a bit disheartened after having to climb a couple mountains. No biggie though, this was just another workout. We tried to take in the epic sights, meet fellow runners and I'll  be damned if we didn't have a great time out there. We gave the volunteers our best hoopin' and hollerin', and did the best we could with the difficult race course. One minute we were cruising on a gradual downhill, round the corner and we were abruptly slowed to not much more than a walk by heart-breaking inclines. But, despite the climbs, despite having ourselves a little fun, and despite approaching it as a workout, we were clocking miles sub-MP. We knew from the course map that we were in for a few tough climbs in the last three miles, and they weren't lyin'. The hardest climb came soon after mile 11, it was the steepest and longest climb of the course. We put kept our cadence, effort and heads about us and flew up, dropping and passing fellow runners along the way. The last 1.5 miles were all uphill. Terrain-wise, they weren't the hardest, but they were the only miles that didn't go by quickly. But Gregor and I had each other and we pulled each other through like we've done through so many workouts.

We had one runner in our sites within the last half-mile. We reeled him in, and rounding the last turn to finish shoot, we passed him with a nice little kick. The best part of this all, Gregor and I finished together. To the right is a picture of our finish. Crossing the finish line we were both ecstatic. On a rough n' tumble race course, on our third tough workout of the week, we didn't race but still crushed our expectations. We finished  in 1:26:33 (6:37 per mile pace), good enough for15th and 16th overall, and 2nd and 3rd in the 20-24 age group.

Afterwards we enjoyed post-race refreshment, which included two free pints compliments of Asheville's Highland Brewing Company (don't mind if we do). We also stuck around to accept our commemorative medals for placing in our age group, which we're sporting in the second picture.

Next, we made a B-line for the French Broad River Campground to join the rest of our crew for a lazy day on the river. It was a weekend we'll all be wistful for in the future.

Greg and I are more stoked and motivated than ever. We've seen some of the damage that we can do but I think we both agree that we don't really know what we're capable of...time to re-evaluate MP?

What more could a couple of guys ask for after a dream weekend like that, you ask? Well, actually one more thing: Please help us to raise money for Chatham Habitat for Humanity. Every donation inspires us to run further and faster, and more importantly helps to build affordable housing in Chatham County, NC. You can donate by clicking this link: https://sna.etapestry.com/fundraiser/ChathamHabitatforHumanity/buildingphase/ Help us to build, help Chatham Habitat to build.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for building.

Until next time,


p.s. I'd like to give a shout out to our race crew Katie Knapp for putting up with our shenanigans. She's the best in the biz.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

One Run at a Time

Gregor here, half way through our training plan for The City of Oaks Marathon.  Only 67 days left 'til race day!

It's been a fun past two weeks now that the two of us are back training together and school is in full swing once again.  While the training has been great overall for the both of us in the past two weeks, we've had to learn the hard way to approach each training run with an open mind and most importantly, to listen to our bodies over our minds.  This particular lesson was hammered home for the two of us last Thursday during a planned sixteen mile run, a run which would have served as our weekly long run.  Things started ordinarily enough, until a belly ache had Willbie curling over and a side stitch had me clutching for my stomach.  Eventually these woes passed and we carried on with our run.  After meeting up with the club cross country team for some company, our respective stomach troubles returned, at which time we should have just decided that Thursday wasn't our day and headed home.  However, we chose to carry on.  What seemed like eternities later, although it was only about twenty minutes, Willbie and I were slowly trudging along on the track in an effort to "regain our pace".  There was no pace to be regained at this point, however, as the energy in our legs had been long since depleted.  After 11.5 miles, and 1.5 mile from home, with our legs lead laden, we made the tough decision to finally call it quits, a decision that should have been made about four miles before this.

Although it was tough to put a halt to a run 3 miles short of completion, the two of us learned an important lesson, and one that was reinforced by the feeling in our legs the next morning: some days you just don't have it.  And by "it" I mean any bounce to your step.  In a long haul like the build up to a marathon, it's especially important to listen to your body.  Our heavy legs were our bodies' way of telling us that it just wasn't our day.   While it's never something to make a habit of, calling a run short in the interest of quality running is always a good idea, especially considering the fact that there is training to be done the following day, week, month, et cetera.

Overall the past two weeks have been great, despite this slight hiccup in our training.  We've got some quality runs coming up in the next few weeks including a 20k marathon pace run that I'm personally quite excited about.  We'll be sure to let you all know how it goes!

Til next time,