Sunday, June 3, 2012

2012 Running of the Bulls 8k: A Tale of Two Races

looking Smurf-tastic at this year's Running of the Bulls
I just read over my 2011 Running of the Bulls 8k  race report and two things stuck out in my mind about that race: I enjoyed the race immensely and it was a turning point in the way I ran.  Sometime shortly after completing the the 2011 Running of the Bulls, I realized that I was half-assing it in races and I need to run all out or not run at all.  Following the race, I lost most of the summer to a sever flu and the onset of Asthma, which stemmed from it.  After regaining my health and learning how to manage my Asthma, I began training for a series of half Marathons, and with the lessens that I learned following last years Running of the Bulls 8k, I have managed to break nearly all of my PR's from 2011 (the one exception being the 10k, which would have also fallen if not for a course measurement error).  The 2011 Race taught me that I would never be happy with myself if I ran a race afraid to give it my all.

When I began signing up for spring races this year, the Running of the Bulls 8k was the one race that I knew I wanted to run.  Not only did I want to run it, but I wanted to Monster it.  In a many ways it became my goal race for the spring.  Running it, was more important to me than running any of the Half Marathons for which I had registered.  I think that I was among the first 5 people to sign up for the race, and I had literally been checking the website for days in advance waiting for the registration to open up.  I ran The half Marathon in Pittsburgh on May 6th, then left the rest of the weekends open to recover an prepare for the Running of the Bulls on June 2.  At Pittsburgh, I had a blast on the course interacting with the crowd, which made the experience that much more fun, so despite my desire to crush the Running of the Bulls, I also wanted to have fun with the race.  Luckily, I was able to do both.
Last Year: I'm in orange and half-assing it.


The Race:

This year just past the two mile mark.
I kept the importance of this race to myself for the most part. I just spoke about how much I enjoyed it last year, how it is so well organized, that the 8k is my favorite distance, and that the course and volunteers are awesome.  Last year, Hiroko could not attend the race, but her co-worker and his son had also run the race and enjoyed it as well, which made Hiroko want to attend this year all the more.  Because to her pregnancy, Hiro opted not to run, since she has only run in one 8k in the past.  I didn't set any time goals for the race, nor did I bother to look up my 8k PR before I left home.  I had already made up my mind as to how I was going to run the race.  I didn't want go out like a mad man and blow up by the third mile, but I wanted to feel the hurt through this race and push past it.  I wanted to run the race on the edge and not hold back.

Mile 1:  The first mile begins on an up hill (that I didn't remember being steep, but my memory must have been foggy) then turns on to a straight nearly flat stretch of Main St. right through the heart of Downtown Durham before turning into a residential area .  I ran up it hard, waved to Hiroko as I passed her, but was having some breathing issues as I made the first turn.  I was able to get my breathing under control and even out my pace before we turned into the residential area. Mile 1 in 2011 -- 9:24, Mile 1 in 2012 -- 8:25.

Mile 2:  The second mile is in residential areas, it has a nice downhill then an uphill and turn before ending at the first water stop right in the middle of the hill and next to the old Durham Balls Athletic Park where the film Bull Durham was shot and which we run through to the finish line at 3rd base.  I was feeling good at this point of the race but was pushing my pace to a point where I wasn't comfortable with my ability to maintain this speed for the duration of the race.  The downhill was welcome, but instead of slacking, I forced myself to push the issue and continue running strong into the hill.  I passed through the water stop without getting anything.  The weather was perfect: cool with a light breeze.  I didn't need water and could see both a brightly clad group of supporters and Hiroko just ahead.  So, rather than slow down I continued to push my way up the hill.  Mile 2 in 2011 -- 8:53, Mile 2 in 2012 -- 8:15.

Great Supporters!
Mile 3:  The third mile begins in the midst of a hill the turns onto another flat straight downtown road that eventually turns into a small but steep hill before turning left and into a long down hill that leads to the new Durham Balls Athletic Park and the Historic Tobacco District.  Last year, I struggled a bit in this portion of the course, so I wanted to keep my focus this year.  I was running well and had no issues as I made my way toward the small hill before the turn and downhill.  I kept my pace well on the hill and forced my legs to keep churning on the downhill despite a burning sensation in my quads from the climb.  As I made my way to the DBAP, I remembered that I felt like the wheels came off of last year's race right at the Three mile mark.  Mile 3 in 2011-- 9:19, Mile 3 in 2012 -- 8:29.

Mile 4: The fourth mile goes up a long slow gradual incline before snaking its way through a couple of parallel streets along the railroad tracks and leading back to Main St.  Last year, I lost my focus during this portion of the course and took this portion of the course way too easy.  I was determined not to do the same this year.  I kept pushing hard and was beginning to struggle with my pace.  Just before the four mile mark I decided to go all in and keep pushing, I didn't feel like I was going to puke or pass out, so there was no reason to back down.  I could fell a swell determination fill me up.  I could tell that this was the point in most races where I back off and play it safe, but I wasn't going to back down today.  Mile 4 in 2011-- 9:30, Mile 4 in 2012 -- 8:31

Near the 4.6 Mile mark
Hiroko and I following the race.
Mile 5:  The fifth mile (or .99 to be exact) went back down Main street then turned down the hill we had climbed at the beginning of the third mile before turning on to another downhill that led into the baseball stadium in right field, along the outfield warning track then down the left field foul territory to the finish at third base.  I began to pick up my pace even more as we turned onto Main Street again.  I had run the last four miles just the way that I wanted to going into the race. and I wasn't going to waste it now.  My chest and right side began to tighten and I could feel a side stitch beginning to form but chose to keep pushing. As we turned onto Morris Street leading back to the old DBAP and the finish, some people in cars stuck in traffic began to angrily honk there horns at the runners and police officer that was holding traffic.  I turned to them and waved my arms and yelled. "thank you for your support!"  This amused both the officer and the runners around me, but it also seem to work out the side stitch as well.  I continued to pick up my pace, collected a few high 5's from the brightly clad cheer girls that we had passed on our way of the hill at the two mile mark, waved to Hiroko as I passed her, and turned towards the stadium.  I began a head long sprint once I got in the outfield, but had to ease up a bit as not to lose my footing on the loose gravel warning track as I made the turns in the outfield.  I was breathing heavily and incapable of sprinting any more by the time I crossed the finish.  Mile 5 in 2011-- 8:22, Mile 5 in 2012 -- 7:40. I had done it!  I ran the race a close to the edge as I could and had crushed both last years time of 45:08 and my 8k PR of 42:58 with a time of 41:21.

The Race was awesome!  Well organized, perfect weather, and a result that I am very pleased about.  I can't wait to run it again next year.  I would like thank the Bull City Running Company for putting on yet another great race!  The Running of the Bulls 8k will always be a race that I have a great deal of fondness because of the lessons I've learned while running it. 



  1. Well fricking done! You destroyed your old PR! So happy for you!!!

    1. Thanks! Only bad thing about that race was that after seeing the pictures, I wanted a haircut!

  2. Great recap! I'm thinking of running it this year and was looking for a post just like this. Like your shirt--I'm heading to Pgh in a few days to run the half!