Resolve to Run

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As another year comes to a close, it’s pretty typical to set some goals for the year ahead.  It’s also common to look back, reflect and relish in self achievement for the year that’s passing.  I know one thing is for sure.  If we put one foot in front of the other in the new year, we continue to move forward, not back.

So many New Year’s Resolutions revolve around fitness.  Getting fit, losing weight, putting aside those things in life that may impede our forward movement.  These are all great things.  How about spending more quality time with our children, or performing harder at work?  Save more money for retirement, finish those home improvement projects.  All attainable goals, all worth working toward.  The important thing about a resolution is to pick something that is measurable.  People often fail at resolutions because they lose focus on them over time.  If it’s important enough to set the goal as a new year begins, then that should say something.  We desire this change, and it deserves attention and focus.  Not just for a week, or month, but all year.

After running over 1,100 miles in 2013, I resolve to run more in 2014.  I resolve to run smarter, have more fun, and race distances and races that give me better chances at achieving my goal of getting to the Boston Marathon one day.  Of course I am shooting for a qualifying time for 2015, but in the end, if I don’t achieve this goal, I resolve to have fun trying.  I will not kill myself trying to get there, but I will harder in the new year to achieve this goal.

In 2013, I set a new marathon PR.  3:32:24 is my new best, and to qualify for Boston, I need to run a marathon in 3:25:00 or better.  That means cutting my overall pace by 17 seconds.  Specific goal, and surely measurable.  My fastest Half of the year was 1:39:00, a pace of 7:33, on a hilly course to boot.  That pace in a full marathon would put me under my goal.  So, I have to work on endurance and speed.  Going faster, for longer.  Not giving up, and not settling for just a finish.  It has to be a faster finish.  After all, the Boston Marathon qualifiers are the cream of the crop in the sport of running.  To toe the line in Boston, one has to earn that spot.

So, in 2014, I resolve to run……

Smarter

Swifter

Stronger

Three “S’s” will be the key to my SUCCESS.

Happy New Year to you all, and have fun setting those goals, and running toward them in 2014!  It’s time to make life more fun, to set new standards, and to better one’s life.

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7 minutes to Boston

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As I plan out my strategy for 2014, I learned something very important last night.  After running 8 marathons over the past two years, I now consider myself experienced enough to “go for Boston”.  I have learned a lot on the marathon courses I’ve been on, and paid careful attention to training.  I have not qualified for the Boston Marathon yet, but now feel comfortable that I will get there.  The elite event for marathon runners will have to make room for me.  I have a plan, and I will be there.

Obviously the qualifying and field is already full for the 2014 event.  I am shooting for the race in 2015.  I have chosen several flat marathons to try my luck.  I went onto the Boston Marathon qualifying page on their website last night and learned something very interesting and exciting.  You see, I am 43 years old currently, and my PR is 3:32.  I thought in order to qualify for 2015, I would have to cut 12 minutes off my PR in my upcoming marathons, and have inserted speed work into my training to get me closer.  But, here is what I learned last night.  I have to qualify with the time for the Age Group that I will be in at the time of the 2015 race.  This is good news!  I will be turning 45 just one week before the 2015 race on April 20th.  Yes, that means that I only have to drop 7 minutes off my PR.  Really that is huge in the world of marathon running.  My pace would have to be 7:49/mile.  That is doable, and my new standard to shoot for this year.

Of course, just meeting the qualifying standard doesn’t mean that I would get in to the race, so I will continue to push my limits on pacing.  This is just thrilling news to me, as I would just be amazed to qualify, and be among the elite field at this prestigious event.

My schedule for going for Boston is as follows:

In 26 days, I will attempting to qualify at the Charleston Marathon.

In 47 days, the journey will continue in Hilton Head at this inaugural marathon.

For the winter and spring racing season, I have three more marathons planned.  All 5 I have planned for next year for the first part of the year, will be new races for me.  New courses, but flatter courses that the ones I ran this year.  I will certainly run some of my previous marathons again, but my focus for 2014 will be to qualify for Boston, so I need to be smart in picking courses that are a little more conducive to a quicker run.

I am so excited to get running and try to get to Boston.

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Unmotivated

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December does it to me every year.  I should remember this, so as each November comes to a close, I am ready.

Cold mornings, and evenings that turn dark so early are my worst enemies.  I always have good intentions, but find myself taking way too much time off during December.  Why is it so hard at this time of year to lace up my shoes and get out the door?  I guess it’s because I hate running when it’s 30 degrees outside.  I guess it’s because I hate having to run home from work, have no time to relax, and try to get out the door for a run before the temperatures plummet as the sun sets and gets dark.  It’s just easier to say, I’ll run tomorrow, or I’ll just add some extra miles on the weekend.  I say to myself, “I’m not lazy, I run marathons”.  The cold months do not help my training plan at all.

Isn’t it just easier to stay inside where its warm?  Write about running, instead of actually doing it?  Historically, December has been a rough month for me.  Extra tough work, more physical work during the holiday season.  Trying to focus, and do extra things during the holiday season.  Christmas tree, shopping for presents, cooking, get togethers.  All things that take up extra time during the month.  What I really need is to run more, but I find it nearly impossible to make myself do it.  Last year I took a few weeks off in December to rest, and only logged 13 miles for the entire month.  I think this year so far I’ve run less than 40.  That’s an improvement, but not by much.

What do you do to stay motivated to run, or get your exercise during December?  Do you find it tougher to train in the Winter, like I do?  I would love to hear any tips you might have for finding that training focus during the cold, dark months.  Please share.

Wrapping up the year and looking forward…

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December is the final month of the year.  2013 will be over in just a few weeks.  Where did running take you this year?  Where will running take you next year?  Make no mistake about it, runners everywhere are checking those goal sheets, reviewing plans, and reflecting on the year.

Whatever your goals were for the year, did you meet or exceed them?  I surpassed my goals for the year.  For that, I am thrilled.  I made it through my 2013 running season injury free.  That really is what I wanted most.  To use the knowledge I have gained from running over the past few years, and use it to my advantage.  Running smart, listening to my body.  Resting when necessary, going hard and all out when it counted.  I succeeded.  As I sit here and contemplate new goals for the new year, I can’t help but reflect on this.

Listening to my body, and taking care of it.  Carefully training, treating my body well, really does pay off.

To date, in 2013, I have run over 1,100 miles.  I ran 16 races.  Two 5k’s, nine Half Marathons, and five Marathons.  I competed hard, ran the best races I could.  I challenged myself with new goals, and set a new marathon PR.  So much to be proud of.  Now where do I go from here?  What have I learned about distance running?

I really learned that running a 26.2 race is now my new favorite.  It used to be the 13.1, but the challenge of the marathon really grabbed my heart this year.  I enjoy all distances really, as they all are unique in the challenge they provide to me.  The Marathon, however, gives me the most self satisfaction.  Learning this about the marathon this year, has really changed how I view running as I go forward.  Running marathons is no easy feat.  It takes a lot out of you, and is very taxing on the body.  Because of this, I know that if I want to run more marathons, I need to cut back on the overall number of races I run next year.

As of right now, I have plans for 5 marathons in 2014, in the first five months of the year.  Charleston, Hilton Head, Wrightsville Beach, Raleigh, and Fayetteville.  I will probably throw in a few 5k’s along the way with my boys.  I also have plans to run my first 10 mile race in April.  A new distance to try, and a guaranteed PR.  My older son has decided that he wants to run his first Half marathon next year, so that will be really great.  Helping him train, giving him advice, and watching him shoot for a new goal.  A huge goal!

After running 9 Half marathons this year, it feels strange not to have any on my schedule for the first part of 2014.  In fact, the only Half I have planned so far for next year isn’t until October.  Hum…  Wonder if that will change.

All I know is that 2014 has a lot in store for me.  I still love running, and plan a tackling new distances, bigger goals, and new races.  2013 was a success, and starting this blog half way through the year, has really helped me to record my memories.

I hope you have enjoyed my running ramblings.  I really enjoy reading the posts, memories and teachings of other bloggers as well.  I really have learned a lot through other runners.  So, I will keep blogging, and keep reading.

What do you have planned for 2014? I hope it’s an epic year for me, and you!

Birthday Marathon – Rock ‘n’ Roll style

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2014 is shaping up. It’s shaping up quickly, too!  I guess that now that my 2013 racing season has been over for nearly a month, I just have more time on my hands to plan.  The runs are fewer since completing my last marathon, leaving me with more time to plan out next year.

A marathon a month?  Do I dare?  2014 is still a fairly open palate, but it’s filling up quickly with a lot of fun and new races.  I posted recently about registering for the Charleston Marathon next month.  That race is just over a month away.  I have to keep reminding myself to get busy, and lace up.  That race won’t be successful without training miles.  Ok, ok, I will head out on a four to five miler as soon as this post is complete.

So, January is wrapped up, hotel and race paid for.  Next up is February, and The Hilton Head Marathon.  Since my Mother lives there, she is contributing to my registration for the marathon as a Christmas gift.  I still have a few weeks to sign up before the next price increase.

Let’s skip over March for now, as I took advantage of a deal last night.

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I registered for my local Rock n Roll marathon, debuting here in Raleigh in April.  On My Birthday!  I took advantage of the best discount I have seen for this event.  Yesterday, on December 12, there was a $20 discount for registering for any Rock n Roll race, and they even opened up registration for one day only, for those wanting to register and run the Vegas event next year.  I may regret not registering for that, too.  I paid $165 to run the Vegas Marathon this year.  Yesterday, it was on sale for $99.  That is a steal!

So, I am locked in for the Raleigh race on my 44th birthday.  Could there be a better way to celebrate a birthday than running a marathon?  Most people would probably choose to sleep in, and have breakfast in bed prepared by a loving family.  Not me.  I will have a very early wake up call, head into the city, and join hundreds of other runners.  Little do they all know, but they will be helping me to celebrate my birthday.  Who knows at this point, but I may have family members running, too.  One thing is for sure though.  We will all be able to celebrate together at the finish.

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Maybe I will even be able to get ahold of a special commemorative shirt like the one above.  I am not an ambassador for this event, but I should have been.  This race will truly be unique for me, and definitely one to remember.

Have you ever run a race on your birthday?  I, for one, cannot wait until my birthday in 2014.

All American Marathon (May 4, 2014)

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I literally just heard about this race for the first time yesterday, and just have to talk about it.  I will do my part from a social media standpoint to get the word out because just from reading about it, I think this race has great potential.  So, May 4, 2014, will be the inaugural race.  The All*American Marathon, Mike-to-Mike Half Marathon, and Marathon relay registration just opened recently, and I plan on signing up for the marathon.

The race begins at 6:30am, in downtown Fayetteville, NC.  From the start at Festival Park, runners will race up Ray Ave. to Hay St., running right through historic downtown Fayetteville.  From there, runners will pass Veteran’s Park and the Airborne and Special Operations Museum.  This is the home of the historic Iron Mike Statue.  Continuing on Morganton through yet another historic district in Fayetteville.  The Haymount District.  Runners will traverse gently rolling hills until reaching the All-American Freeway.  After about four miles, the Full Marathoners will enter Ft. Bragg.  Runners will run past the home of the 82nd Airborne Division and past Pope Airfield.

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The final 16 miles on the marathon course are run on Ft. Bragg, so this is a great opportunity for non-servicemen and women to see this Army base.  Race organizers are expecting a field of 5,000 runners combined for the three races.  I would expect that there will be many servicemen and women from around the US taking part in the races that day.  What a great way to pay tribute to them, support them, and run side by side with them.

I hope it will be a fantastic turn out.  I will surely be there.  I live about 45 minutes away, so it will be an easy drive for me.  I am already looking forward to this inaugural event!

Be sure to follow the race on Twitter.  @AAMarathon

The current price for the marathon is $75, $60 for the Half.  Rates are good through December 31st.  There is a discount for service members.

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Destination Marathons USA

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The January 2014 Runner’s World came out this week, and I just had to check out the Top 10 list they published on fun filled, recently launched marathons across the US.  I have only been running the marathon distance for two years, so I haven’t really delved into big time destination racing.  Yet!

Looking at their picks, a few really stand out, and already have been on a wish list of mine for race travel.  I have a top 3 based on the list of top 10.

#1. Utah Valley Marathon. –  I have never been to Utah, so this would be a great reason to visit.  The Provo Canyon Scenic Byway is supposed to be beautiful, and it’s always nice to have scenery on a long 26.2 mile journey.  The main attraction though?  The course is mostly a gentle descent.  A net elevation change of 1,700 feet down from the start.  What a great way to try for a BQ time!

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#2.  Vancouver USA Marathon. –  Any trip to the pacific northwest is ok in my book, and even better if running a marathon.  I spent a fair amount of time vacationing to Washington State mostly, when I was younger.  I have spent some time along the Columbia River, and Portland, with a trip or two to Mt. Hood.  The area is just beautiful, so for that reason alone I want to run this marathon one day.  The course is flat and scenic, two more good reasons to run it.

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#3.  Santa Barbara Marathon. –  Ah… A trip to California to run a marathon?  Yes, please.  I have had my eye on this one the past two years, and have even looked into flights.  Hasn’t worked out the past two years, but this one will be on my calendar soon.  A November race, great temperatures, and running along the Pacific Coastline.  All sounds great to me.

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If only my wallet were bigger, or I were to come across a small fortune!  So many wonderful races across America that I want to run someday.  Not to mention those abroad.  I would love to travel to Australia for a marathon.  Paris perhaps…  How about the Athens Marathon, or a marathon in South Africa.  Would love to do them all one day.

For now I will remain focused on getting to some interesting and highly rated races closer to home.

I have run one marathon that did make the Runner’s World top 10 already.  In 2012, I ran the Tobacco Road Marathon, which is in Cary, NC.  It’s about 20 miles from my home.  Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled with the race at all.  It is mostly flat, but extremely boring.

Have you run any of the races that made the top 10 list?  Here is a full listing…

The Louisiana Marathon

Tobacco Road

Illinois Marathon

Pittsburgh Marathon

Minneapolis Marathon

Utah Valley

Vancouver USA Marathon

Rockfest Marathon

Indianapolis Monumental

Santa Barbara Marathon

If you’ve run any of these marathons, please comment and let me know what you thought about your experience.

Happy running!