13 in 2013 complete!

Image

 

Way back at the beginning of the year, I wasn’t sure I would be able to put together a racing season like I just completed.  I was coming off a few injuries, including a broken foot from a car accident back in March of 2012, and pretty severe PF.  Last year at this time I took a full month off from running after the Skinny Turkey Half Marathon last Thanksgiving Day.  I was tired, broken down, and desperately wanted to heal, and feel good again.  This was the best thing I could have done for myself.  After I began to slowly train again after Christmas, I felt renewed.  I wasn’t sure what the new year would bring, but I was cautiously optimistic.

Last January, after completing many successful short runs, I decided it was time to set some goals.  My body was starting to respond well to training, so I thought, what the hell, lets’s set some lofty goals.  What came to mind was this.  My favorite number is 13.  I was born on the 13th, and so was one of my sons.  It just turned 2013.  Why not try to complete 13 Half and Full Marathons combined throughout the course of 2013?  I felt good about this goal, I felt it was doable, lofty, yet not over the top.  So there it all began, and my planning was about to begin.

My goal would kick off with the Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate, a race I had signed up for back in the Fall of 2012.  I also had an entry for the Blue Ridge Marathon already booked at that time, so I just needed to fill in the blanks to get me to the magical number thirteen.

Planning for race seasons is so much fun.  I wanted to try some new races this year, but also run some tried and true races from previous years to see if I could better my times.  The following list is my races that got me to my goal this year, and even beyond!

March 3- Asheville Marathon 4:08:47

March 17- Tobacco Road Half Marathon 1:41:10

April 14- RunRaleigh Half Marathon 1:40:21

April 20- Blue Ridge Marathon 4:04:59

May 19- NCRC Invitational Half Marathon 1:45:50

June 1- Lookout Capital Half Marathon 1:46:22

August 8- The 35th Tromptown Run Half Marathon 1:44:43

September 21- Johnson Lexus Half Marathon 1:43:43

September 27- Asheville Citizen Times City Marathon 3:45:12

October 6- RunRaleigh Fall Half Marathon 1:42:09

October 20- Bull City Race Fest Half 1:44:05

October 27- Hallowed Half Marathon 1:39:00

November 3- Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon 3:32:24

My goal was completed here at my hometown marathon!  13 in 2013!  And a new marathon PR to cap it off.  I did it!  But just for good measure, I decided to add another race to the mix, in case.  So, 14 days later, I completed another marathon, and joining an exclusive club along the way.

November 17- Rock n Roll Las Vegas Marathon 3:41:41

Just an amazing year.  I completed 9 Halves, and 5 Full marathons on my way to smashing my 2013 goal.  All I can say, is how in the world can I top that in 2014?  Time will tell.  Back to the drawing board, the planning stages.  Here’s hoping that 2014 will be injury free and fun as hell.

What are you planning for your 2014 running calendar?

2014 Race Season planning

I just cant help myself….

Thoughts of my next racing season have already started to occupy my brain.  Like a junkie, I’m ready for my next fix.  So I wanted to share a few ideas for Winter/Spring racing options.  Some I am already committed to, and others are on the “to-do” list.

If you have run any of these races, and have comments on them, please share.

imageimage

 

image

 

imageimageimageimage

Heading out on my first run today, on Thanksgiving, since my Marathon a week ago Sunday.  Already looking forward to it, and next year as well!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon -Race Recap Part 2

Image

Talk about a destination race!  Las Vegas is it!  My race began… As the gun went off, I was thinking about many things.  First and foremost was, OMG, I just ran a marathon two weeks ago to the day.  Can I do this again?  This soon?  Have I fueled enough?  Will my feet hold up?  I felt good as the race began.

The race course starts in a southerly direction.  On Las Vegas Boulevard, we ran south for about a mile, and turned to the other side to start running back toward Mandalay Bay Hotel.  The crowd was huge, and because the Half and Full started at the same time, the first several miles proved to be very challenging.  The dodging and weaving around countless runners was tough, but I knew this going in.  This was the biggest group of marathon runners that I had run with since this race two years ago.

Image

There I am! Can you see me?

My concentration those first several miles revolved around taking in the views.  The lights, the casinos, and the amazing crowd!  The people of Las Vegas, I’m sure most were vacationers, was absolutely incredible!  Thousands upon thousands lined the race course on the boulevard, hoping to catch of view of that special person they were supporting, or just cheering in general.  This race is truly unique in so many ways.  Mostly, it’s the fact that the Strip is closed to traffic, and to see runners only, is just amazing!  Image

My mood was uplifted by my surroundings and the crowd.  It was just amazing.  It kept me occupied, and happy all during the epic run toward downtown Las Vegas.  First passing Mandalay Bay again at mile two, then comes The Luxor, and Excalibur, The Tropicana, MGM, New York New York, Monte Carlo, and then City Center.  Heading north on the Boulevard, we then passed many more iconic hotels like The Bellagio, and Paris, The Cosmopolitan, Planet Hollywood, and on further, past Caesars Palace, the Venetian and Palazzo.  We ran by where the race would eventually finish at The Mirage Hotel and Casino.  As a Rock ‘n’ Roll event, there was plenty of local entertainment along the way.

About 5-6 miles in I started to grow tired of the runner traffic.  It was just so hectic running with that many people.  Having to worry about foot strikes, not tripping over other runners, was really starting to annoy me.  As we heading downtown, we ran past the hotel I was staying at, The Wynn.  We past Encore, and then the course got a lot darker heading into downtown.  I started to yearn for mile 9 to come, knowing that the 20,000 plus Half Marathon runners would be breaking away from the marathon course.  I was ready for a quieter, less busy run.  Running into downtown there were plenty of sections that were very dark.  This made this section very challenging.

Fremont Street!  Mile 9, we made it!  The Half split off, and the full marathoners then got to enjoy a special treat.  Running right down Fremont Street!  Right down the center of it.

Image

This is how I felt!  My only wish is that my picture looked like this.  It was intense, and truly amazing to run through this section.  I. Enjoyed every moment.  The crowd support here was just fantastic,  who wouldn’t want to step out of the numerous casinos to watch a few thousand runners on an epic 26.2 mile journey?  I would have!

A quick trip down Fremont St., and we were now headed out into what I like to call the “getting the miles in somehow” portion of the marathon course.  Miles 10 and 11 had us running out toward and past the Las Vegas Freeway for a straight shot run up N. Martin L. King Blvd.  The temperatures were perfect.  I was just warm enough, but not too warm.  I was sweating, but nothing too serious.  I did make sure to hydrate all along the way, in fact, the aid stations were a nice break in the monotony of this part of the course.  We actually ran by one “band” that looked like a family band.  A really young kid was rocking it on his guitar, and it looked like his young sister was the lead vocalist.  It was about that time that a guy right behind me must have clipped the curb with his left leg, and took a massive spill.  He moaned, groaned, and hit hard.  I was scared for him, but aid immediately rushed to him.  I was so impressed!  Especially on this portion of the course, where there just wasn’t as much support.  They were right there to take care of him.  I have wondered several times since if he was able to regroup and finish.

For quite a while as we headed further and further away from the Strip, the view of The Stratosphere got smaller and smaller, and eventually disappeared.  I remember thinking, ok, ok, just keep running, and it will come back into view just as you need a bit of inspiration.

image

The Stratosphere is 1,149 ft.  It is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the US. and the second tallest in the Western Hemisphere.  It was visible for a while, but eventually we just were too far away to see it.  I was looking forward to seeing it again on my return to the Strip for the finish.

The more marathons I run, the better and better I get at anticipating “the wall”.  For me, it really isn’t about my body revolting, it’s all about the mental aspect.  Being positive, moving forward, pressing on.  Miles 13 through 20 were pretty dark, but the course was mostly flat, and easy to traverse.  I continued to hydrate, and felt really good.  My pace wasn’t stellar, but I maintained positive energy.  My thoughts revolved around that tower, it really gave me something to strive for visually.  To see that tower again.  It gave me energy, and kept me focused.  My pace slowly crept toward 8:20 per mile.  Coming off from my overall pace two weeks prior at The City of Oaks Marathon, of 8:06 at the finish, I knew I wasn’t going to come close, but I was good with that.  I was hanging in there.

The tower came back into view at about mile 21.  Yeah!  Wow!  We get to run back through Fremont St. again.  How exciting!  A double dose of the downtown neon!  Then we turned back toward as Vegas Boulevard.  Just a few miles of the race remained.  We joined back in the half Marathoners, but had one side of the course just for us.  It was marked well, and seemed like most Half runners respected the invisible line of delineation. At this point the Half runners were back of the packers, walkers, mostly, and tons of them.  It felt good to be passing so many runners, albeit Half runners.

I did pass some marathoners, as I found a new energy, a renewed focus because of being back on the strip.  Passing the hotels again, with tons of screaming onlookers.  It was electric!  Slowly but surely I pressed on, 23, 24, 25.  The finish line at The Mirage came into view.  As I glided to the finish, I was amazed by the crowds.  The lights and sounds of Vegas made the finish spectacular.  I crossed the finish, not too tired, and stopped my Garmin.  An amazing medal was placed around my neck, as the volunteer knocked my phone out of my hand, crashing to the ground.  Luckily it didn’t break.

image

It glows in the dark, too!  The shirt is pretty slick, too, don’t you think?

image

 

My oh my, my 5th marathon of 2013, now finished.  My second in two weeks.  It felt amazing!  I made my way through the finisher village, which was long.  Picking up recovery food and drink along the way.  Water, chocolate milk, apples (no more green bananas).  I grabbed a bagel and PowerBar.  Foil blanket wrapped around me, I eventually found an exit out of the finisher village, and started to make my way back to my hotel.  All in all, it was just an amazing race, and one I truly recommend to anyone looking for a great destination race.  If you love Vegas, or have never been and need a reason to go, you must run this race.  You would not regret it!

My official results:

Chip time 3:41:41 (my third fastest marathon)

62/314 in Age Group

266/1860 Males

315/2927 Overall

Top 10% finish in another marathon! sure! I’ll take it.

 

Top race adds a Half Marathon!

Image

 

It was announced this past week on Thursday, that the Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate was adding a Half Marathon to the repertoire.  Great news for a lot of folks that have yet to complete a marathon, or just have no desire to run that far.  13.1 miles on the paved and dirt surfaces at the Biltmore Estate will be just as enjoyable, and probably be a great choice for folks that already have a Spring Marathon planned.

Registration for the Half just opened a few days ago, and will fill up quickly.  Don’t miss your opportunity to run 13.1, or 26.2 in America’s Largest Backyard.  There are 700 total spots available for the Full and 600 for the Half.

Check out http://www.ashevillemarathon.com for full details, and a link to register.

Image

Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon -Race Recap Part 1

Image

A few days have passed since my epic race day in Las Vegas.  What a great trip, a great race, and a fantastic way to finish out my 2013 racing year.  I’m going to try to capture the memories here, so let’s begin.

I flew to Vegas on November 14th, early in the morning.  On about three and a half hours of sleep, I was tired.  That morning was incredibly cold for this time of year.  It was like 28 degrees, so our plane had to be de-iced prior to leaving.  I think because of the delay, and my short layover time in Atlanta, the stress of making my connection kept me from catching a few winks on that flight.  With a little luck, we made it just in time to board.  Las Vegas bound, tucked into my aisle seat for the four and a half hour flight.

Upon arrival in Las Vegas, the local time was before 10:00am.  Adjusting to the time change is always a challenge, especially when in a city that does not live by the clock that I am used to.  Off to jump into the rental car, and make our way to the Wynn Hotel and Casino.

Image

The Wynn is a beautiful hotel, and highly rated.  I’ve stayed there once before, and chose this hotel as it was one of the race partner hotels, and offered a few extra nice amenities for runners.  We got a beautiful, and comfortable room, with an amazing view.  Some shots of the view….

ImageImageImageImageImage

After an amazing lunch at the Wynn Buffet, we settled into some gaming.  I find Vegas very relaxing.  I do not party, or drink, too old for that.  So due to the time change, and travel exhaustion, I was ready for bed about 8pm, which was really 11pm on my internal clock.  I tried to stay up later, but just couldn’t.  Staying up would have helped with adjusting to the time change better, but it just didn’t happen.  Woke up at 6am on Thursday, full of vigor, and ready for a day of fun, and of course, the race expo.

The Expo was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, an easy walk from the Wynn.  This saved us from having to pay a $10 parking fee.  The Expo was huge, as expected.  Because we attended on the first day, and early in the day, the crowds were certainly manageable.

ImageImageImage

The expo had a ton of vendors.  It really was fun to get race weekend going.  Lots of interesting products, giveaways, etc.  I won the Brooks shirt pictured above, and sampled some newer fuel and hydration products, along with just enjoying “runner watching”, as this race had entrants from all 50 States, and 52 countries.  Just amazing.  A truly international event.

After another amazingly relaxing day on Saturday, with visits to downtown casinos like the Golden Nugget, Binion’s and my all time favorite downtown hotel and casino, The El Cortez.

Image

The evening consisted of visits on The Strip to the Cosmopolitan, the Bellagio, among others.  One of my favorite things to do in Las Vegas is to catch at least a few fountain shows in front of the Bellagio Hotel.

ImageImageImage

Race day Sunday has arrived.  There is always a challenge to running an evening event.  I think it’s even more difficult when you don’t have the comforts of home.  When and where to fuel, what to fuel with.  I hydrated with water all day, and decided that just a light breakfast would be best.  About two hours before the race I fueled up with a banana Power Bar.  The Wynn, being one of the host hotels, had a free shuttle to the race start.  This was an absolute breeze.  It took a little longer than I expected to get to the start, but we made it there about an hour before the start of the race.  The staging area was immense, but with over 20,000 people, there were just not enough port-o-potties.  Luckily I only had to use the bathroom once and made it through a line in about ten minutes.  The pre-race concert featured the band The All American Rejects.

ImageImageImageImageImageImage

I was in Corral 5, so once it was time to start filing into the corrals, it was a smooth transition out of the holding area and make my way.  One last potty break behind a restaurant with about a hundred other runners.  Girls and guys alike.  Who wants to have to start a marathon needing to use the bathroom?  Not me!

In my corral, I loosened up, stretched, and ate a Clif Bar, and took my usual first GU, with 10 minutes to go.  I snapped the following photos as the countdown began.  Such a huge crowd!  Over 30,000 runners registered for all three events.  The Full, Half and Half of the Half participants lined up in over 30 corrals.  It looked like this.

ImageImageImageImage

It was an amazing sight.  It would take over a half hour to release all of these corrals onto the course.  The National Anthem was sung, while we were photographed, and helicopters hovered overhead.  It was go time!  About seven minutes after the gun, my corral was at the line and ready to run.  Stay tuned for my next post on the race itself.  The running of 26.2 miles in one of my favorite places…. Las Vegas.

Vegas Vacation

Image

That’s it folks!  I am officially on vacation.  A running holiday.  My favorite place and my favorite activity, rolled into one.

I just got home from work, and don’t have to think of that place for another week.  Isn’t vacation time grand?  Not that I don’t enjoy my work, because I do, but we all need breaks.  Having a break right before the holidays get rolling is even better.

The rest of the day today will involve packing.  It’s always tougher to pack for a Vegas trip during the colder months than it is in the Summer.  It could be warm during the day, but once the Sun goes down, it’s a different story.  Plus for this trip, I have to pack for a 26.2 mile run.

Image

This time tomorrow I will be there.  Getting on the plane tomorrow morning at 6am, flying through Atlanta, arriving in Vegas before most folks get up.  The first day is always a long day because of the three hour time change.  Then, relax!  Take in the sights and sounds that are exclusive to Las Vegas.  My plan is to hit the Expo early on Friday to avoid the crowds.  I do look forward to this race expo because it is absolutely huge, loaded up with vendors.  I must try not to spend too much money.

The race starts at 4:30 pm on Sunday evening.  I am gong to thoroughly enjoy it.  I am going to try not to worry too much about my pace, and just enjoy the experience.  Of course I will try to blog again before then, but you must excuse me now, as this guy is on vacation.

Image

Two Marathons/Two Weeks

Image

I’ve spent days in recovery mode.  I feel like I’ve barely run in the past week.  In fact, I only ran seven miles the entire last week.

It feels good to have some down time.  It feels good to relax, and let my post marathon legs and feet recooperate.  The rest is over though.

It is indeed time, time to get the game face back on.  Time to lace up the running shoes and pound the pavement.  I’ve got three days of running to do.  Three days before leaving for Vegas for another marathon.  Once I board that plane, the final rest before the 26.2.  So, until that time, I have to get in a few low mileage runs.  Some speed work, some hills.  Now that the muscles are alive again after the City of Oaks last Sunday, I must prepare them and my mind for another journey to the finish line.  That long 26.2 mile journey out in the desert in Nevada.  Sin City.  This Sunday.

I am excited, and somewhat overwhelmed by the adventure at hand.  Two marathons in 14 days.  I am up for the challenge.  Recovery is over, and the preparations begin.

Look out Las Vegas, here I come!