Monday, August 29, 2011

The Raleigh 8000 :: 2011 Race Report

Raleigh 8000 Pint Glass
The Raleigh 8000 Pint Glass Award: 3rd Place AG
(photo courtesy of The Raleigh 8000 Facebook Page)
The inaugural running of The Raleigh 8000 took place in spite of hurricane Irene this past Saturday, August 27. Naturally, messages from the conscientious race director expressed intense concern for the safety of the runners and volunteers involved in the race. Consistent weather updates on the race's Facebook page conveyed a very slight possibility that the race would be canceled. But, luckily, Irene didn't pose as a big of a threat to Raleigh as it did to other portions of the state. So, The Raleigh 8000 started on schedule!

Along with the fact that the Raleigh 8000 was my shortest race distance, this race served as a first for me in a few ways:
  • first fully paved course
  • first 8K
  • first race in the rain

I registered for this race a couple of months ago, because I'd been wanting to try out a shorter race. I like the Tar River Running Company's well-organized productions. And, the fact that the course traveled primarily along the Capital Area Greenway in the vicinity of Shelley Lake made this particular race more appealing than the usual road race. Also, the host sponsor, Raleigh Running Outfitters, is my favorite local running store!

Raleigh 8000 Course Photo over the bridge
(photo courtesy of
Plus, I hadn't participated in a race since the end of May. So, I registered for this one knowing that I'd be jonesing for a race before September.

In keeping with my standard arrival time, just shy of an hour early, I pulled into the parking lot at 6:34 AM. It was still rather dark outside due to the cloud cover. A batch of heavy rain had moved away from the area about an hour earlier. And, only a slight sprinkling punctuated by strong wind gusts accosted the runners picking up their race packets.

The rainfall increased steadily then suddenly as I waited in my car. But, at a half hour before starting time, I needed to warm up and use the portaloo. Figuring that'd I'd be getting wet anyway, I decided there wasn't much point to waiting out the rain. So, I ran around the shopping center to the "facilities" and ran back with a couple of strides thrown in while under cover of the storefront awning. The rain and the running felt great at this point.

Surprisingly, the heavy rain actually stopped when we gathered on Six Forks Rd. to start. We had to confine ourselves to one lane as we crossed the mat at 7:30. But, after that point, we had two lanes of Six Forks Rd. all to ourselves for a few meters. There's something liberating about running down the middle of a road like Six Forks, having it closed off to traffic just so you can run. (Thanks to the Raleigh PD for taking care of that for us!)

I'd started close to the middle-front of the pack. But, I quickly moved to the side so that I could position myself closer to the front. I had it in my head that the point of a shorter race is to make yourself as uncomfortable as you can reasonably stand as soon as possible. So, that's what I did. I'd be curious to know how quickly I ran that first mile. But, I left my watch at home. So, oh well.

Raleigh 8000 Course Photo beside Shelley Lake
(photo courtesy of
I'll be the first to admit that I started out too fast. By mile two, I could feel my pace slipping. A shirtless dude who'd been running behind me for a little while finally passed me. Then, another dude passed as we ran up to the straight portion of path on the south side of Shelley Lake.

There were no trees blocking the wind at this point on the course. Irene's breath stormed across the water and right over the elevated greenway. And, I really felt like I was running against a wall here. I held my bib against my shirt, because the wind almost seemed to tear it away from the safety pins. Thankfully, this section was brief.

Raleigh 8000 Course Photo the tunnel
(photo courtesy of
Then I ran down an incline and into more tree cover as I fought to maintain some semblance of speed. Another dude passed me, this one wearing yellow. I missed seeing the 3-mile marker at some point. Perhaps it was the aid station.

The tunnel you see in that photo is smaller than you think. It was dark and not at all conducive to running. And, for some reason, it was less pleasant to run through on the way back than it was at the beginning. I guess I have a thing about small, dark spaces.

Anyway, through the tunnel, through some puddles, over some bridges (careful on that slick wood), and I'm finally on Long Street, which is an uphill climb for about a mile to the finish. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, because Facebook posts from the race director made it seem like climbing an actual hill. Really, this was more of a long incline.

Of course, the last mile could have been all flat for me and it wouldn't have mattered. I was tired. Rather, my legs were tired. I searched for extra speed and strength everywhere in my appendages. But, I couldn't find any. I just couldn't muster up that speed that I usually manage to find during the final meters of a race. I was frustrated.

And, what happens when you're frustrated towards the end of a race? Another dude passes you as he speeds toward the finish line. And, you tell yourself, "Okay, there's still time to catch that dude. I can catch him, find some strength for a sprint, pass him before the finish." But, no, you don't pass him. You're tired.

Raleigh 8000 awards time
The race director distributes awards before the rain gets heavy again
Anyway, I ran under the finish arch as the clock struck 35:24 (chip time was 35:13). I like that time. It's a nice time. I'm not going to complain about it. But, well, nevermind...

As we waited in light rain for the awards to begin, I really developed a profound appreciation for the race director and volunteers. I mean, sure, running in the rain is fun while you're running. But, standing in it to wave people along the course or hand out water probably sucks.

And, the race director, having to deal with all the concerns about the weather just before the race begins, scrounging for volunteers at the last minute, wondering if anyone will show up: he
My Trusty Inov-8 f-lite 230
Inov-8 f-lite 230: My Weapons of Choice for the Raleigh 8000
and his team really earned my respect for all of that. There were a lot of logistics that went into this race well before race day. And, if Irene had forced a cancellation, I can only imagine how disappointing that would have been for all of the organizers. So, thanks to all of you organizers and volunteers for everything you did.

I wore my trusty Inov-8 f-lite 230s for this race. They did not disappoint. The wet pavement really put their sticky rubber outsole to the test. And, their ability to flush water out quickly made racing through puddles fun and efficient with no squishy feeling afterwards. I love these shoes.

So, my first 8K is over. I spent more time eating and waiting for the award ceremony than running. It's an odd thing, really. I want to be fast and speedy. But, I also want races to last longer than 40 minutes. I should sign up for a 5K soon, though. I've been intimidated by that distance for so long. But, it's something that should be done.

Thanks for reading! I highly recommend the Raleigh 8000 to anyone looking for an 8K in Raleigh next year. The course is a good one, and the team putting it together is fantastic.

Raleigh 8000 runners waiting for the award ceremony
Runners waiting for the awards distribution.

Raleigh 8000 runners watching award ceremony
Runners gather to watch the awards distribution.


  1. Great report, Ash! Don't sweat the time/performance (although, that pace is pretty quick to me). Sign up for one of the plethora of 5K around here and just go full throttle the entire race. 8K is kind of an odd distance, in my opinion.

  2. Thanks Scott! It's true that 8K is a somewhat odd race distance. I think a 10K is, too, now that I think about it...

  3. First off I really enjoy reading your blog, thanks for spending the time on it. I was at the Raleigh 8000, and agree that it was great fun. It just so happens that I was sporting nearly impossible to find (in normal sizes) Black-White Inov-8 F-Lite 230's which were straight out of the box from Try Sports at Crabtree Mall. They performed spectacularly. I'll note that I had to go a half size down from my normal size to get a good fit ... FYI.

  4. Thanks so much for reading, runcack73 (if that's even your real name). ;-)

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who enjoyed running a race in hurricane weather. Those f-lites really help out on wet pavement, don't they? Good job finding them at a local store. That's cool that a local store carries Inov-8's!



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