Crawlin Crab Half Marathon 2014 – Race Report – Revenge

Revenge is a dish best served cold…


Last year I went into the 2013 edition of the Crawlin Crab Half Marathon trying to establish some confidence for a sub four hour attempt at the Niagara Falls Marathon.  All of my training up to that point was on target.  I went into the 2013 half marathon wanting to prove that I had the speed required to run a sub four marathon.  Everything went well until the sun came out around mile 6 and it got hot.  At mile 9 I began to melt.  10 miles into the run the wheels came off.  Crossing the 11 mile marker I wonder if I really had it for 26.2 miles at my goal marathon pace.  I finished in 1 hour and 50 minutes.  The time on the clock was one thing, my broken spirit was another.

I recovered, and ran a strong 20 mile training run a week later.  Three weeks later I scored my first sub four marathon.

Truth be told even with the success at Niagara Falls, I’ve held a grudge with the Crawlin Carb Half for over a year!

Leading up to the 2014 edition of the Crawlin Crab Half Marathon, I ran the Air Force Marathon 13 days earlier.  As the days to the race drew near I was truly undecided whether I was really going to push it at the half.  Race morning I was still reviewing and questioning my goals for the race, consequently I decided to line up in corral three with some friends (my bib time had me in corral 1).  Standing there in the starting field, I finally decided to run with my friends and see how the day unfolded.  The day was perfect, bright skies, crisp temperatures and calm winds.  The conditions this year was much different than the unforgiving heat of the year before.

cchalk2014a(With a little help from my friends)

Mile 1 8:32 / Mile 2 8:19 / Mile 3 8:09 / Mile 4 8:10 / Mile 5 8:05  At the gun, the race crowd took off at a fast clip.  I kept my attention on my GPS watch as I wanted to avoid running out to fast to soon before settling into a nice rhythm.  The start at the Crawlin Crab rolls out for approx. half a mile then climbs over an overpass then the majority of the race is flat until crossing back over the overpass returning to the finish line. Although I had yet to commit to a fast race or a PR attempt, I knew if I wanted to make a run at a goal time I had to set the table properly.  At the end of five miles…my GPS confirmed, that not only did I set the table properly I may have even pulled out the good china.

Mile 6 7:57 / Mile 7 7:51 / Mile 8 7:54 / Mile 9 7:41  The game was on.  With a solid start under my belt, it was around the 10k mark that I felt something good could happen today.  My leg turnover was light and easy.  So easy in fact that at some point I was a bit worried that I may not be able to keep it up.  Putting that fear behind me, I decide to keep up my goal pace until I crossed the finish line or bust into flames.

cchalf2014b(Can you pass the potatoes…time to eat)

Mile 10  7:34 / Mile 11 7:20/Mile 12 / 7:28  Crossing the 10 mile mark, a quick glance at my GPS and some rough math confirmed that today was the day.  I had not only run a pace which put me into a position to have a fast time, it also left me with a lot of kick still in my lungs and legs.  Today could be special and I was not going to let the good china go to waste.  The RACE was at hand and it was time to serve the meal.  Last year at this point in the race a fast start and rising temperatures drove me into the ground and melted my will to fight/run hard.  Today, I was determined to not lose this PR!

Mile 13 / 7:28  The entree was served and consumed…and now it was time for the desert.  The three course meal that was the opening 12 miles where behind me and I still had a lot of pop left in my legs.  The end of the race course had us returning to the convention center area and back over the highway overpass.  Where in the past I’ve struggled to put the hammer down in this area, today I gave it everything I had.  In that last mile plus, I was passing people left and right.  At this point in the day it was nice to taste the ice cream that was “racing” and not just hanging on to finish.  The final right hand turn and the sights/sound of the finishing area came within range and I kicked it into high gear.

(Raw Video footage of the last 2 miles)

FINISH 13.1  Crossing the finish line, it felt so “significant” to finally have revenge on a course that last year left me humbled and lacking confidence.  The 2014 edition left me feeling secure that my training was paying off and confident that if I followed my race plan, fast times were in my future.

cchalf2014d(#boom PR baby)

I went home happy and with a new half marathon PR in 1 hour 43 minutes and 32 seconds, and that’s better than a hot fudge sundae!

Guest Post From Grindstone 100

Guest Post By: Tim S (Ultra Friend of Mine)
2nd Annual ”2013 Grindstone 100 Mile Endurance Run”

This race will always hold a very special place in my running resume. Not only was it my first trail 100 miler, but I’ve been wanting to compete in this since I became an ultrarunner.

GS100c(at 48 miles into the race)

Back before, us ultrarunners had Google and to search for races (besides word of mouth, of course). I can still vividly recall seeing the Grindstone 100 in Swoope, Virginia, and vowing to run it. At that point in time, my longest run was only 60 miles. I knew I wasn’t in the conditioning needed to complete the race at that point in time, but it always stayed in the back of my mind when I was deciding which Ultra to train for that Grindstone was still out there.

If my running career was Odysseus, then Grindstone was undoubtedly my Polyphemus. To continue my voyage and see other amazing sights around the world, I simply had to get past this monster.

And Grindstone certainly is a monster. The elevation profile even looks like a demon straight from the fiery depths of hell.


I paced my friend and fellow ultrarunner John Waite in 2012 through the last 20 miles of the course. The moment I crossed the finish line with him, the countdown began: 364 days til I raced this for myself. I signed up for the 2013 edition and trained my ass off. I did hill repeats in parking garages, ran on inclined treadmills, and made extra trips to Jockey’s Ridge and The Wright Brothers Memorial in Nags Head for specialty incline workouts.

Then life, as it usually does, threw a curveball. About a week before race, the governmental furlough closed Camp Shenandoah. Clark Zealand (RD) madly scrambled for a way to put the race on due to people flying in from all over the country. However, it was simply too daunting a task on too short of a notice. The race was postponed, and entry fees were allowed to be transferred over to the following year. Given my experience with other RD’s recently, Clark extended us an enormous olive branch by allowing an entry transfer. One RD I know of would have taken our money and, pun intended, run.

So 2013 came and went, and 2014 started shaping up to be the most epic running year I’ve ever had. I competed in my first point-to-point 100 (Graveyard), followed by Badwater Cape Fear and the Virginia 24 Hour Run for Cancer. In July I competed in and finished The LAVSRR 500k. I came home from work the Monday before the race and did an easy 4 mile run. After eating dinner, cold symptoms hit me like a ton of bricks. I went to bed Monday night sick, and ended up calling out Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from work. Needless to say, I did not go into this race very confident. I thought, briefly, about DNSing, but my pride would not allow it.

After gorging on pasta Thursday night and getting a decent night’s sleep, Cassie and I headed to Swoope for pre-race check in. I got my number and a few additional items (tshirt, cookie, beanie, etc) that the race provided. I met up with John, who was running his third (technically) consecutive Grindstone 100. We seemed to have very similar attitudes: happy to see each other, but the basic small talk was stalled as we both needed to zen out before the start.

I went back to my tent and tried to nap, but I was too amped to sleep. I was opening my eyes every 10 minutes to make sure I hadn’t missed the start time of 1800 hours. At 1700 I packed everything I would need into my Nathan pack (2 water bottles, slim jims, cliff bar, GUs, batteries, headlamp, and additional clothes packaged in ziplock bags).

There was a light rain as I walked to the starting line. My stomach was in knots and I was trying to ignore the knowledge that my legs would be screaming in agony just a few hours from now.

We had a moment of silence for Major Donahue, a fellow ultrarunner who passed away in the line of duty earlier this year. Clark followed this up with a prayer, and then we were off!

A conga line of endurance athletes filed across the camp and into the woods as we began our triple digit mile journey across brutal terrain. The first 5 miles went along slowly but confidently. The next stretch was 9 miles with a significant climb. The rain turned from a comfortable drizzle into a torrential downpour. The rain instantly soaked me to the bone, and mentally I could imagine myself carrying all the extra water weight from wet clothes. The rain continued as I ran through the next aid station and approached Dowell’s Draft at mile 20.

I have NEVER thought about dropping so early into a race as I did here at Grindstone. It took em 5.5 hours to go 20 miles.I could not imagine running another 80. Cassie did her job as my crew chief fantastically. She knew what I needed before I even asked for it. She had gear ready to go and provided encouragement in ways only she knew how. After lying to me and telling me how great I was doing, I set out to North River Gap, which was 15 miles away. A small aid station in the middle provided some relief, but by the time I got to the 35 mile mark, I was exhausted. My back was killing me from the hills. It was still dark, and the sun had yet to rise above the mountaintops. I found Cassie in the line of cars. I asked her if she would think any less of me if I dropped. She told me that she would be proud of me no matter what I did, because she knew I gave it everything I had. I realized as she said this, that I had more to give. It wasn’t much more, but it was there.

The longest and hardest climb of the race was from 35 to 43. 7 miles, with most of it uphill. For almost 3.5 hours, my heart was beating out of my chest as I climbed the 4000+ foot mountain. I finally made it to the Little Bald Knob aid station at 43 miles. I sat in front of a fire, warmed myself, had some soup, and set out as fast as I could towards the next aid station. Again, I thought about dropping. If I had of seen Cassie at the 46 mile mark, I would have climbed in the car and admitted defeat.

But then…

But then I climbed Reddish Knob, and the whole race changed. I looked out upon the scenery below me and felt a sense of enlightenment. I felt my soul lift away from my body as I stood on top of the highest geographical point for miles. The sky was one of the most beautiful cloudscapes I’d ever seen. Dark gray storm clouds highlighted the landscape as random sun beams illuminated the treetops below. I stopped for a picture, then ran to the halfway point.

Cassie was tired as hell from driving to aid stations all night, but she didn’t let that stop her from completing her job as my crew. She helped me with a change of socks while we talked strategy. I warmed myself in the car for a few minutes, then I set out, knowing I would see her at the 65 mile mark.

I ran slowly, but strongly, to the next two aid stations. Then I started my downward decent towards North River Gap. I passed a lot of people on the way down. The confidence carried me through the next aid station and through the next few miles. Miles 75-78 were tough. My vision started to double and I could not fathom running another 25 miles, especially with the knowledge that the temperature was going to drop to the 30′s.

I fought through the miles, and decided to put on some music to focus on something else besides the pain. A Bliss N Eso song came on, and it changed my whole attitude. I felt an adrenaline rush from “I am somebody” and ran into the aid station with 20 miles to go at 14 minute mile pace.

I spoke to Cassie frantically. I refueled with Coke, wrapped up my massive blisters, fueled up with a cliff bar, and started the last 20 mile of Grindstone. The biggest advantage I had at this point was that I had run this exact route before- when I paced John back in 2012. I made mental notes of every rock, boulder, incline, decline, and water source back then. That mental imagery stayed with me so entirely that I felt I could have run this last 20 miles blindfolded. I continued to pass other runners as I zoomed by at what was comparatively super human speed to what I’d been running previously.

I came into the aid station at Dry Branch Gap. It was darker than black at this point, and the cold front had finally blown through to where snow could have fallen if enough moisture was present. I donned some gloves, and set out on the 9 mile stretch to the last aid station. I trekked a 3.5 mile mountain, throwing up along the way from the exhaustion and the cold. And then, finally, a downhill! My calves screamed at me, but I screamed back “ALMOST DONE! DON’T QUIT!” I rocketed down the mountain and into the final aid station at 12 minute mile pace.

Cassie was surprised to see me as soon as she did. I had continued to pass people and was now almost 40 places ahead of where I was at the 50 mile mark. I dropped off my pack, kept a water bottle, and downed a couple of GUs. With an electricity coursing throughout my body borderlining on biologically impossible, I gunned it towards the finish. All I heard was my music and all I felt was the earth beneath my feet. Everything that had hurt up until that point ceased. I felt that same enlightenment as Reddish Knob the closer I got to the finish line.

With a quarter mile to go, I put on a Hilltop Hoods song and sprinted into the finish at a speed a 400 meter runner would appreciate. I hugged the totem pole at the finish line, and Clark presented me with my belt buckle and finisher’s shirt.

I could barely move as my muscles froze up. Cassie was waiting at the finish line with a hug and a bag full of supplies. I took one of the most wonderful showers of my life before hobbling back to my tent. And after over 40 hours without sleep, I crawled inside my sleeping back and grew ignorant to all the other surroundings in the world. I woke up a few hours later to see the final finishers cross the line before chowing down on a memorable breakfast,


After examining my race and my race report, pacing John two years ago saved my race. It enabled me to finish strong and helped me reach an achievement that was almost out of my grasp. I learned so much about mountain running and trail running in this race, and I can’t wait to run it again. The confidence I have and the time I know I’ll be able to shed at the next race keep me so excited I can barely sleep. But, like other feelings from ultras, that will pass.

Again, I want (need) to thank Cassie for waiting on me hand and foot throughout 101 miles of misery. John Waite had a huge part in me finishing, even though he kicked me butt and dusted me with 95 miles to go! And lastly, thanks to all of those who provided support throughout the race. Knowing I had people cheering for me made this run tolerable, and at times, enjoyable. You will see me do this race again. And next time, my goals will be exponentially higher than simply finishing. #beastmode

First Video Blog Plus Throwback Thursday

I’m going to attempt my first Video blog post this weekend…to kick things off I’ll answer 10 questions to let my readers, supporters and followers find out a little more about me.

Post your questions in the comments below and I’ll do my best to get to them all.

Thanks, and now for Throwback Thursday.

2007, Al Udied Air base Half Marathon.  I ran this even after working a 12 hour shift…went out to fast and melted in the heat.


I was a bit heavier then…

Cancer Hater – Thank You!!!

The #CancerHater Challenge reached their goal of $10,000.00 and I reached $1625.00 because of your generosity, I had the easy part, simply running.

Cancerhater leaderboard(I made the leaderboard, 8.25 miles in one hour)

Cancer Haters…  Presently I’m at 81% of my goal of $2,000.00


With a week to go “WE” working together can make it…and here is some EXTRA motivation.

If I reach:
$2,000.00 I’ll run the #CancerHater run in a Steelers jersey.  (and if you know me, that is a BIG statement on how much I am invested in this cause)

$1500.00  I’ll shave my head….aka “The Bald Burk Runner”

I know money is tight, but this cause can effect all of us…I had a scare this summer, lucky for me I did not have this terrible disease, but if I did I would have given any amount to find a cure.

Can you help….pls any amount.

TO GIVE, click here.

#CancerHater #CancerSucks #StillEasierThanChemo



Halloween and Running – Don’t be scared

You finally lost the 5 pounds that has been hanging on since the holiday season a year ago and now…it’s back.

Halloween can be a scary time for adults.  Scary is the holiday that celebrates the fun-size candy bar.


Consider these 10 ways to make your Halloween a little less scary and a little more healthy.

  • Buy candy you’re not crazy about.  This doesn’t mean all candy you give out has to be unappealing to you, but you may have more success sticking to the plan if you don’t have buckets for of your favorite candy bars lying around.
  • Give out non-food treats.  Offer small toys, stickers, pencils, erasers instead of candy — not sure you’ll be the most popular house on the block but you will stick to your healthy eating goal.
  • Offer healthier treats.  Some healthful options include granola bars, sugar-free gum, and individually packaged portions of raisins, apple slices, dried cranberries, and nuts.
  • Don’t ask your kids to hide the candy.  If you’re a parent, Halloween offers an opportunity to set a good example for your kids. Model moderation, not deprivation. And don’t blame the dog for eating all the snickers bars…no one believes you anyway.
  • Make the candy you DO eat last longer.  Put a handful of your favorite candy bars in your freezer so that when you do enjoy a piece or two, it will last longer and you’ll have the chance to truly savor the flavor.
  • Enjoy, but be mindful.  Reward yourself with small amounts of candy…will make it less likely you’ll go over bored if you have to and can EARN it.
  • Don’t get too hungry. If you skip a meal on Halloween day and let yourself get overly hungry, you’ll be more vulnerable to candy temptation. Drink plenty of water before to take up that empty space.
  • Plan the perfect Halloween night dinner. Have a tasty, balanced meal for dinner on Halloween.  Choose a dinner that is high in fiber, and includes some lean protein and a bit of fat, so it will take some time to digest.
  • Sip a warm beverage. Keep your hands and mouth busy while you hand out treats on Halloween night by sipping hot tea, decaf coffee, apple cider, or light hot cocoa.  But stay away from the shot of Fireball… they tell me.
  • Avoid boredom. People often end up munching mindlessly when they’re bored. So keep busy Halloween night by making plans with family, friends, or neighbors.


If you really want to have a fun on Halloween night get your kids to hand out the candy and go for a run.  It would be a blast to log a few miles looking at all the little kids dressed up in their Halloween best. If your really into the theme of Halloween, dress up and run around the neighborhood as Wheres Waldo.

Random Question And Some Answers

Leading up to the Crawlin Crab Half Marathon, I served as a J & A Race Ambassador and provided content on the J & A Facebook page.

2013 crawlin crab expo

Building up to the half marathon weekend, I posed a few questions to my fellow race ambassadors…I selected a few of the replies to share with you.

Q.  Do you run in the mornings, mid-day, afternoon or evenings? And why?
A.  Nan Rozelle Besch Lujan replied: I typically run in the morning or in the evening, there’s not a whole lot of midday running going on. Yesterday I celebrated a 1000 a streak of running every day, so usually the question is not am I going to run but when.

Q.  When did you start running and why?
A.  Lisa Rich shared:  2010 – my work/life balance was finally actually balanced and it was time to get healthy and fit. My health had taken some hits through our struggles to have our daughters, and I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to make sure I would be here for them. And I wanted them to have a mom who was a role model.


Q.  What is your favorite J&A race? And bonus question…ever cross paths with a skunk on your morning run…what did you do?
A.  David Hylton told us, First on the skunk … Yes. Long story short, my dog and I nearly got sprayed around 5:30 am one summer. Thought it was a cat. Shoot me a message if you want more details! As for my favorite J&A race, it’s definitely Shamrock Marathon Weekend. I’ve done the half 7 times. Flat, fast, friends and free beer!

Q.  Who is your running hero?
A.  Amanda Kowaleski commented, I have elite runners who I closely follow, but I am actually inspired by talking to/reading about everyday runners. Every single runner has a story of why they started, what they’ve accomplished, and what running has done for their lives.

Q.  What is your favorite day of the week to run?
A.  Bridgett Grogan answered, Everyday!! There’s always a reason to move forward without looking back:)

Q.  Do you run in the rain?
A.  Jason Carmichael told us, As one of my marathon training team coaches says, “what happens when it rains? We get wet.”

Crawlin Crab Half Marathon and 5k is an awesome running event, if you live in or visit the 757 area…give this race ago.  Check out other great J&A events here.


My Running Flaws and How I Fixed Them

Fixing My Running Flaws

I stumbled across this video while searching You Tube for Ultra videos the other day.  And it perfectly put into words video what I have been working to correct in my running form over the summer.


The girls list the five biggest mistakes runners make:

1.  Running Upright

2.  Overstriding 

3.  Heelstriking

4.  Arm Swing (front to back)

5.  Tightening your core

Out of these five I was in pretty good shape other then #2 and 3

I over-stride and heel strike something terrible.  I’ve known this for a long time but really never set out to do anything about it.  A typical trait of all my running shoes was that I wear out the heels (right more then left) faster then anywhere else.  

(Note that wear pattern)

It wasn’t until I watched the DVD on the Western States 100, Unbreakable and witnessed  Anton Krupicka’srunning form, that I decided to do something about this. It was during this remarkable video that I noticed how up right and free he ran.  I now had a video comparison of a nimble and light running style compared with how hard, heavy impacting, and heel first I ran.  I knew I had some areas to improve on.

Over the summer when I went out on training runs I noticed when I ran more under myself (feet landing under my hips) and on the front of my foot compared to the back, my leg turn over improved, I had more zip in my runs and my legs just felt better.

AND another benefit….I GOT FASTER!

Now I will tell you I was not sure what I really fixed, until I watched this video and these gals at The Balanced Runner put on video what small changes I made over the summer.  Without knowing it…I fixed 2 of the Biggest 5 Mistakes. 

Goals – Marathon – Running – Racing and Training

Before you ever stand on the starting line at your first or next race you should set a finishing goal.

But is one goal enough?  I think not.


For every major race I have entered I’ve gone to the starting line with three goals…and sometimes more.

For my very first marathon I set three goals.  First, was finishing in under 4 hours and 30 minutes. My second goal was to finish under 4 hours and 45 minutes and finally my last goal was to finish the marathon running and to not get injured.  At the end of the day I would have been happy to meet anyone of those goals.  But why did I need three goals?

I believe in going into a race with more then one goal because life is not always what we except or can predict.  Sure some motivational speakers will tell you to select a goal and go after it with laser focus never compromising on that ONE stated goal.  But how many of us, in the “work-a-day-world” can really be that focused.  I’m sure the majority of us amateur athletes would agree that there are any number of distractions competing for our time and attention, not only during training but also on race day.


I select a main goal, my “A-goal” for a finishing time just a tad bit faster then I’ve been training for.  I considered this my stretch goal.  This is the target on the wall.

I also chose a secondary goal, my “B-goal” for a time slightly slower then my primary goal.  This goal is a good second best option in case something on race day goes array, something outside of my training or outside of my control. Reaching this standard, I would feel like I achieved a reward nearly equal to my efforts.  This goal (and maybe missing my primary goal) would fuel me to come back even more motivated for the next race.  This goal provides a soft landing spot in case I can’t live up to my “A-goal” without feeling defeated.

And lastly I choose a third tier goal as my “what if” option.  What if, everything goes wrong. What if, any reasonable degree of control was lost because of the winds of fate. This “C-goal” although in the hands of defeat, I would be happy to live and to run another day.

Set a goal, train for it, but leave yourself options just in case you forgot to print the parking passes and have to walk over a mile to reach the starting line. (Yea, I’ve done that)


Cancer Hater – 24 Hour Run

To add a little flair to the fund raising for the Cancer Hater 24 Hour Run, Momentum / Designs That Move You has offered up one of their footnote shoe charms to one of my lucky supporters

cancerhaterTo set the donation price on this shoe charm, I’m going to start a reverse auction starting at $50.00  The first person to donate at the current auction price wins this charm.  Place your bid here and in the recognition name put SC after your name.  I’ll lower the donation bid at random times.

Current donation amount $50.00 $49.00 $45.00  $42.00 $40.00 $35.00 $25.00