Success! Marathon Success!

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I know I have been out of pocket for a few days, but wanted to at least post my finish time for this past Saturdays Asheville City Marathon.

I had an incredible race!  I finished in 3:45:12.  Good enough for 56th overall, and 7th in my Age Group.  I am very pleased, and will recap my great weekend in Asheville in the coming days.  Tough course, plentiful volunteers, and happy runners.  A wonderful race.

More to come soon!

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Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Ambassador

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I received some some really cool news yesterday evening.  As most of you know, earlier this year, I ran the inaugural Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate.  You can read my race recap from the event here.  http://wp.me/p3u1nG-ai.  I would like to announce that I have been chosen by iDaph Events to be an official race ambassador for this race in 2014!

Coincidentally, I will be in Asheville this weekend for another Marathon, a different 26.2, and plan on starting up some promotion of this great event at the Biltmore Estate.  Feel free to share this post, as I want to spread the word about this great event far and wide.

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If you run this race, which is run exclusively on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, in Asheville, North Carolina, you will get views like what you see above and below….

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You will get to experience a gorgeous marathon, filled with beautiful views of what has been deemed “America’s Largest Backyard”.  This event is truly unique, and definitely a bucket list race for marathoners of all levels.

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Registration is open, and ready for you!  Come back to my blog often for more news and information on the race.  I feel privileged to be able to share my experiences from this years race, and get folks excited to run this event in 2014.  Who doesn’t like to have a late Winter Marathon to train for?  It is a great way to shed those holiday pounds!

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Here is my unique finisher medal from the 2013 race.  Join me in 2014!

Thank you iDaph Events!  I am honored, and look forward to our working together.  Check out more on this great event.

events@idaph.net

and follow them on Twitter @iDaphEvents

Marathon #6 just 4 days away!

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Where has all of the time gone?  Just a few short days from now, the Asheville City Marathon will be here.

I am working the next three nights in a row, and during my mornings off, I will be getting everything in order for the long weekend in the mountains.   Looks to be absolutely perfect weather as it stands right now in the forecast.  Low to mid 70’s for highs all weekend, and low 50’s during the morning hours each day.  Perfect for running a marathon!  I need to start thinking about a top layer to toss, since standing outside for an hour or more in that temperature will be chilly before the start.

I am getting very excited for my 6th marathon.  Asheville is a great city, and I can’t wait to experience it on foot.  All of it!  This marathon will be challenging, with hills, peaks and valleys, but should be much easier from an overall elevation change standpoint from my last marathon in Roanoke, Virginia in April.  I look forward to this challenge, and will be ready!  Runners of all shapes and sizes will be descending on Asheville this Friday to attend the expo.  There is a 5k on Friday night, followed by the Half and Full marathons commencing at 6am on Saturday morning.  The half and full start together and break off from each other at about the 7.5 mile mark.  Here is a map of the Full marathon that I will be running.

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This past week I ran just over 25 miles total.  That included my last long training run on Saturday, the Johnson Lexus Half marathon. I finished in 1:43:43, just about where I wanted that run to be.  Overall pace was 7:50 per mile, so somewhat faster than I expect to run this Saturday.  I felt a bit of a tweak in my left groin yesterday, and was a little sore the day after the race, but today I think I am back to normal.  Last evening I ran a 5k tune up, recovery run.  Whatever you want to call it, it was basically a “I need to run, I want to run, I need to see how my legs feel” sort of run.  That nervous energy sort of run.  Not wanting to overdo it, but really needing to test the body and reassure oneself for the 26.2 mile adventure ahead.  I am sure you can relate.  I am going to run an easy four miles this morning, followed by a pace run of 4 to 5 miles tomorrow.  I think that will be it for me prior to the race.  I may rest completely on Thursday and Friday.  We’ll see, but that is the plan right now.

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This race starts at 6am, so it will be dark for about an hour at the start.  These few photos are taken during previous Asheville races, and I am looking forward to all of the views.  Bring it on, Asheville!

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The Full Marathon is capped at 2,500 runners, and the Half is capped at 4,000.  I don’t think that either race has reached capacity, as I have not seen a notice on the races being sold out.  These numbers are big though.  There will be a lot of runners toeing the line on Saturday morning.  The feeling will be electric!  Here is a list of my other marathons and number of finishers.  If this race is anywhere near the cap, it will be the largest marathon field that I have competed in.

Myrtle Beach Marathon 2/18/12.    1797 finishers

Tobacco Road Marathon 3/18/12.     975 finishers

Outer Banks Marathon 11/11/12.    1190 finishers

Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate 3/3/13.    962 finishers

Blue Ridge Marathon 4/20/13.    424 finishers

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Yes, I only started marathoning last year, and ran three total in 2012.  This marathon will be my third for 2013.  I am looking forward to every bit of it.  Hopefully the body will hold up, and I am able to have a fantastic race.  I really want to do well.  I have many more races planned before the end of the year, and much to look forward to.  The Asheville City Marathon is the only focus though for right now, and it’s just a few short days away.  Open your arms Asheville, I am ready for my hug!

Johnson Lexus Half Marathon – Race Recap

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Well, this morning was the first running of the Johnson Lexus Half Marathon, in Raleigh’s North Hills area.  I signed up for this race several months ago, knowing that it should be a good challenge based on the hills in the area, and the beautiful greenways that portions of the race were being run on.  I was right!  It was definitely a challenge.

The weather this morning was overcast, but dry.  Temperature was about 65 degrees at the start of the race.  It rained a good bit overnight, and yesterday, and the chances for rain during the race was 30%.  First off, it did not rain, but the recent rains certainly made running the greenways challenging.  There were many areas on the trails that were pooled with water, with a few spots being impassable unless you ran through the water.  Other spots were partially covered in big pools of water, but you could get around them by dodging off to the side of the trail, and thus, get nice and muddy.  It was a mess.  I was a mess.  The raised portions (wooden walkways) were almost treacherous at times, and very slippery.  Being in the woods, the water does not easily evaporate with the humidity we get, so parts were very slick.  I watched several runners almost wipe out from slips.  Thankfully I witnessed no one crash and fall.

Knowing that this was a “B” race for me, my final tune up, and long run for the Asheville Marathon next Saturday, I kept telling myself this morning, to run hard, but not overdo it.  I started the race pretty fast.  My first mile split was sub 7.  About a half mile at the beginning was all downhill, so it makes it tough to not go out fast.  All I could think about though while running down it, was the fact that I had to run back up it to the finish after 12.5 miles.  Less than a mile in to the race, we made a turn off onto the Greenway. It was very nice, but as I explained before, you really had to keep a close eye on the path.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like having to watch every foot strike, and be on the lookout for potential hazards while racing.  The extra stress this puts on you is unnecessary.  Plus it slows you down.  I think I really would have been able to take more advantage of the downhill portions of this race if I didn’t have to worry about slipping and falling.  Or jumping over puddles, or slipping on mud.  Just me, but I could have been faster today If the course was in better shape.  You can’t argue with Mother Nature though, and it was what it was.

A few miles in, I managed to get into a nice pace, and breathing pattern.  Things felt good.  I couldn’t keep up the sub 7 pace, but certainly didn’t expect to.  Slowly over the next several miles, my pace dropped back to levels that I am used to while racing.  7:05, then 7:17, and slowly eeked toward 7:30.  Once again, my pace today, was something that I was not stressing over.  I just wanted to enjoy the race, and get in that one last hard fought training run for next weekend.  I accomplished that, for sure.  Even though today’s race was fairly cool, the humidity was at or near 100%.  I didn’t stop for water until about mile 5-6.  I stopped at each of the remaining aid stations minus one, until the finish, but still had some cramping during that last uphill climb.  First the toes on my right foot, which made me stop and walk them out.  Then my calves started up the last quarter of a mile.  Note to self: better hydration next time.  Keep an eye on humidity levels in the days prior to racing over the next few weeks.  Crucial hydration will be key.

Here are a few photos of the race.  Not sure who took these, but were posted on the race webpage on Facebook.

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These pictures are all taken on road portions of the race.  Quite a bit of the race was on the greenways, however.  Always nice to run in areas that you never gave before.  It gives runners a unique perspective, and breaks up the monotony of a strictly asphalt road race.  Here is a picture of greenway traversing through a pond.

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As you can see, the day was overcast.  I was glad that it never rained.

This course is really nice, I enjoyed it.  I contains a few loops, so that you can see where your competition is.  I am not one to turn around and check out where the folks are behind me, so a loop here and there is nice.  You get to see where you stand, without being obvious about it.  Coming up on the 10 mile mark, the 1:45 pacer was gaining on me.  The next few miles we jockeyed back and forth.  I would forge ahead, then she would.  According to my Garmin, she was actually ahead of her assigned pace.   I think she was running with a friend, and trying to pace her to a new PR.  Anyway, I ended up beating them to the finish my seconds, after that massively tough uphill climb to the finish.  No race should finish with a 1/2 mile uphill portion, IMO.  It’s a little demoralizing after putting in so much effort, and being so close to the finish.  Downhill finishes are much preferred by this runner!

This race is put on by the Midtown Race Series.  It is well organized, and well staffed.  This time around they did take the advice from previous race participants and offered same day race packet pickup, which was very much appreciated.  I live about 45 minutes from where his race is held, so making a second trip just to pick up my bib is foolish.  Great race directors listen to runners, and this one sure did!  Thank you!

So, all in all, it was a great experience today.  Results were posted at the finish, but the most recent online update shows the following stats for my race.

Clock Time:  1:43:46

Chip time:  1:43:43

Overall Finish:  46/417

Gender Finish:  38/183

Age Group:  5/31

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Overall, I am very pleased with my race today.  My finish time was just slightly under my Half Marathon average finish time.  This was my 16th Half marathon, 6th this year.  I am feeling fit and ready to conquer the Asheville Marathon a week from today.  Recovery time this afternoon and evening, and I should be good to go.  If you have been following along on posts leading up to this race, then you know that I could have had the chance to win a Lexus today.  Title sponsor being a local dealership.  Well, they were not announcing awards until 10:30 this morning, followed by the chance to win the car.  My race finished at 8:43 this morning.  I was not going to stick around there for almost two hours to see if I would win it.  So I am Lexusless this afternoon.  My Volt will hold me just fine.

Gu…Riffic or Gu…Ribble?

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Are you a fan of GU?  I find it a necessity, especially while on runs longer than 10 miles.

With two Halves and a Full in the next three weeks, I made a trip out to our local running store to stock up today.  Capital RunWalk in Cameron Village is an awesome running store that annually wins “best running store” honors in several polls.  This shop is located in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Supporting local running stores is a great thing.  This particular store supports many, many social runs, holds clinics, and sponsors many local races.  One such race is coming up on October, 6th.  RunRaleigh Half Marathon.  Huge fan of this race!!!

A lot of people have strong opinions about GU.  I’ve seen many a post about how good they can be, and how awful they can be.  It all depends on the person, and how one’s stomach will tolerate it.  I consider the texture of GU to be much like loose petroleum jelly.  Melted gummi bears perhaps?  Maybe really thick gravy…. In any event, some folks find it tolerable, and others get sick just thinking about it.

I have never had an issue with stomaching this product.  Available in a multitude of flavors, you just have to find what works, and what tastes good to you.  I have tried many, and really only like the Mandarin Orange, Jet Blackberry, and Lemon Lime.  On today’s trip to the running store, they had the new Salted Caramel flavor available.  Gotta try that, so I bought a few.

My method for taking Gu.  I take one about 15 minutes prior to a run longer than 10 miles.  Typically for a Half Marathon, I use three.  One before the start, and then again at mile 5 and mile 10.  They are small enough to fit into the belt pouch that I wear for long distances, or during races.  For a Full Marathon, I take six.  One before, and then one approximately every 4 to 5 miles.  You can tear the top off with your teeth easily.  My method is usually to squeeze it into my mouth in three rounds.  I do try to swallow it pretty quick, especially when I have a very dry mouth.

I find that GU gives me a nice boost of energy, and is a critical part of my nutrition toward the end of long races.  Usually only a banana will suffice if food is even offered at a race on the course.  Pretzels are good too, but impossible to swallow with dry mouth.  GU is quick and easy, and all while still running.

What do you think of Gu?  Do you like the product?  What have you found that works for you?  Interested in hearing about other options.  Thanks for the feedback in advance!

Forecasting the Race

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I think that Fall is possibly the best time of year to run in North Carolina.  Over the past week we have certainly started feeling the effects of cooler days.  The Sun is setting earlier, making running in the early to late evening much more enjoyable.  The mornings are even better yet.  With the cool downs overnight, the mornings have just been fantastic this past week.  It’s actually begun a little early for my area, but I am not complaining.

I stepped out of my normal comfort zone yesterday and actually got up early to run before work.  Don’t get me wrong, I usually run most days, but normally do not set an alarm, and get out as early as I did yesterday.  With temperatures in the low to mid 50’s when I got up, it was just the perfect run.  As I head into the final days leading up to the next three weekends of racing, my mileage is down for taper.  I ran 4 miles yesterday.  I ran on a nice hilly loop around the area that I live.  My lungs thoroughly enjoyed the crisp morning.  I was able to push out an 8:28 pace.  Not bad considering the hills I run on.  In fact, several runs I have taken lately have been a lot speedier than my run over the Summer.  In addition to not feeling as drained post-run, it is just such a refreshing change.

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In this part of NC, the leaves will not be changing anytime soon, but the temps are approaching runner perfection!  My paces over the past two weeks range anywhere from a low of 8:21 for a 5k hill run, up to a 9:04 for my 18 miler, on a very hot and humid day.  Looking at the forecast for the next week, I have a pretty good idea what I will be up against for this Saturday’s Half Marathon.  The low overnight before the race is supposed to be 62.  Ok, not low 50’s, but we can’t have it all, right?  The high that day 83.  We will be finished racing long before the temps get too warm.

The weather in the mountains, approximately a four hour drive west of where I live, is often times much cooler than it is here.  The 10 day forecast in the Asheville area only stretches until the day I arrive there on the 27th.  The race is the 28th, but as it looks right now, the low is 53 that day, and the high is 73.  Plenty of sunshine, too!  I can handle that forecast, for sure.  It looks like it will be a nice chilly race start, and a gradual warm up.  My last Marathon in April was a perfect day weather wise.  The start was very cold, with not a cloud in the sky.  After a mile however, I never felt too cold, or too hot during the race.  That is the kind of weather you want.  Hoping for the same in Asheville.

Since we are staying in the area for the long weekend, I am hoping to see a little bit of Fall color in the mountains.  Asheville, Boone, Blowing Rock areas are all just beautiful in the Fall.  It’s a great place to be, in the North Carolina mountains during the Fall season, and I hope it will be equally great to run there as well.

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Here’s hoping for some really pretty scenery on our trip, and on my 26.2 mile journey in Asheville.  I hope you enjoy getting out there during this great time of year to run, as much as I do.  Cheers!

Race Jitters

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How do you deal with nerves leading up to a big event?

Do you bite your nails?  Drink?

Well, I don’t do ether of those, so I guess I will just have to calm the jitters by being prepared, and reaffirming myself that race day is going to go well.

With less than two weeks to go, the nerves are starting to come on strong.  You would think that I would be used to this by now.  After all, this is my 6th Marathon.  Running 26.2 miles is just such a big deal, that I don’t know that I will ever get used to the nervousness that comes along with it.  I’ve got 12 days to go, twelve days to reassure myself, and try to feel good about my preparedness for race day.  When you set big goals for yourself, you are bound to be nervous about the accomplishment of those goals.  I guess it’s only natural.

I just have to take care of myself, physically and mentally to arrive at the starting line in the best shape that I can be.

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How do you deal with nervous energy?