Race Medal Sneak Peak


I am running the Hilton Head Island Marathon in nine days.  As the photo above was posted today on Facebook, it made me wonder.  Do you like to know in advance what a race medal looks like before you actually run the race?  Some people may view it as a great motivator to get to the finish line.  Others may want to be surprised at the finish line.

I have run races knowing and not knowing what the medal looked like.  I can’t decide which I like more.  Seeing this medal today has gotten me more excited, for sure.  I think the medal looks great.  It has multiple colors, and runners.  It shows the bridge, which will play a big role at the event, as marathon runners have to traverse it twice.  The medal also shows the iconic red and white lighthouse located in Harbortown.

At this point I am not sure if this medal will be presented to both the marathon and half marathon participants, or not.  Maybe it will be awarded to those running the 5k, as well.  Time will tell.  Are you a fan of separate medals for different race distances at the same event, or does it not matter to you?  Some races don’t differentiate, and others do.  Some races give different shirts.  I know that 5k participants are getting long sleeve cotton shirts at this race, and the half and full runners will get tech shirts.

So, what do you think?  Should race awards be different in some way based on race distance?  Please share your thoughts.

North Carolina Snow Storm


It it sure is pretty, it sure is uncommon.

All hell breaks loose here in North Carolina when the first word of snow is whispered by a weather forecaster.  The grocery stores clear out, the salt and sand, shovels and sleds disappear from hardware store shelves.  Kids delight in a day or two or three off from school, and adults like me go stir crazy, and absolutely bonkers throughout the entire irritating situation.

It began last night around 6pm, with light, feathery flakes.  It didn’t stop for hours and hours.  Waking up this morning to about three inches of fluffy white stuff.  Kids are already out with their sleds, packing the snow down on the streets here in the neighborhood whirring down the roads.  As the weather isn’t supposed to reach over freezing today, and will plunge into the single digits tonight, this is a nightmare situation for trying to get out to work tomorrow.  The roads will be a complete sheet of ice, making it impossible to get out of here tomorrow morning.

I will have to augment my work schedule to accommodate this.  I am supposed to work at 7am, 20 miles away.

Look at these pictures.  Even the beaches in the south are snow covered.


Amazing!  I don’t see anyone with sunscreen out there today, and yet we are supposed to be about 70 degrees on the beaches of North Carolina this Sunday!  Total craziness!  If you don’t give any credence to global warming, I think you should.

Have you heard about the travel nightmares in Atlanta, Georgia?  This was a record setting storm for areas south of here.  I have a friend that was trying to get home from work yesterday in the Atlanta area around the noon time hour.  She still isn’t home, 24 hours later.  The roads are parking lots, gridlock due to the snow.  This turned into abandoned cars, and just a horrible situation.  This sort of thing happened here locally back in 2010.  In fact, the three inches of snow we got, is more than we have had since 2010.  It just doesn’t happen here very often.



Ok, so I guess I will try to get some things done around the house today.  I got my run in yesterday before the storm.  I logged four miles yesterday so that I would have to get out in this today.  This is what others say though, even though I don’t share this thought today.


Be safe out there!

Snow in the forecast


Can I just tell you that I hate snow?  I especially hate snow in the south!  Southerners don’t know how to drive in the white stuff.  We also don’t have the equipment here to deal with a significant snowfall.  A snowfall like is expected later this afternoon and evening will paralyze this area.  Lucky for me I have today and tomorrow off from work, by chance.

I live in the zone where 3-6 inches of snow is expected.  Although it will be pretty, I’m sure, it will be a complete travel nightmare.

My plan is as follows:

What do I want to eat today and tomorrow?  I will think about this as I get ready to head to the grocery store.  Shower and grab some groceries afterward.  Get back home, and then change and go for a quick run before the weather turns ugly this afternoon.  A run today before the storm will allow me to rest again tomorrow when the roads will be to slick for it anyway.  I won’t have to feel guilty that way if I get the run in today.

Then I will sit in the house and get some much needed chores done.  I will also get to watch the madness ensue on TV, watching all of the various broadcasts about the weather, the crazy drivers, and such.

It’s gonna be a mess.  Wish me luck.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon SOLD OUT!!!


I cannot believe it, but the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon and Half has sold out.  Nearly three months before race day, the event is full.  As my readers will remember from previous posts, this marathon takes place on my birthday in April.  What is most curious to me however about the quick sell out, are a couple of recent posts the races Facebook page posted over the weekend.

I signed up about a month ago, when they offered a $20 discount prior to the holidays.  I was really hoping that I could get a few friends and family members to join, but that will not be with the lightning fast sell out.

Here is what was posted over the past few days online, leading me to believe that there was still plenty of time to get my fellow runners registered.


This picture was posted on Facebook this past Friday at 1pm.  Ok, it was a good reminder that the race was getting closer to capacity, but I saw no urgency with this post.  “Less than 1,000 spots left”, doesn’t invoke registration panic, does it?  I didn’t think so.

Then came another post last night on the Facebook page.  This one left me saying “what? It was just at 1,000 two days ago, surely that many people didn’t just sign up in less than 48 hours”.


So from 1,000 to 200.  Is Raleigh really that popular?  Surely this cannot be a huge destination race for runners, or is it?  I figured this race would end up being 80% local runners.  It will be interesting to see the final statistics when it comes to runners, and where they come from.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Raleigh, but 800 registrations in less than 48 hours?  I really don’t believe it.

Then at about 10am this morning, this post on Facebook left me stunned.  Literally my jaw dropped.


Something seems fishy here.  I thought the world was watching the Grammy’s last night.  I didn’t think they would be signing up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh while same sex couples were getting married during Macklemore’s “Same Love”.  I mean, Madonna, Queen Latifah, Keith Urban in tears, wasn’t enough of a distraction to keep the last 200 spots from filling up?

I read a post yesterday stating that the capacity for sell out here for the Raleigh race was 12,000 entrants.  This is another number I can barely wrap my thoughts around.

This race, and the popularity of it, I was clearly underestimating.  My gross miscalculations of how much time was left for people to sign up, is leaving a bunch of runners without a golden ticket to this event.

If it’s a true statistic that close to 10% of registrants in any road race never show up due to injury, etc., then this April 13th, I will be toeing the line in downtown Raleigh with 10,999 other runners.

I cannot believe this news…..but bring it on!

This is going to be the biggest Birthday party I’ve ever had.  By Far!



It’s hard to fight the instinct to push.

It’s never easy slowing down when all you want to do is speed up.

When you give your heart and soul to something, it consumes you.


We must learn though, that with every step forward comes rest.  To get better at something, our bodies need to be ready for it.  Without proper rest and recovery, we will never be our best.

I think that recovering from a marathon is like how my body feels after taking a red eye flight across the country and not being able too sleep.  It takes days to feel right again.

After my most recent marathon I was sore, as expected.  My legs didn’t feel right for a few days, and I slept like a rock.  I decided to run a two miler, four days later.  The resulting run was slow and tedious.  Another two days off led me to yesterdays run.  A two and a half miler, slow again, but a bit more natural feeling.  Ok, so let’s run again today.  Back to back days on the run.  Today I managed a 5k, and threw in a few hills.  Better.  Not whole yet, but better.  Getting there.

I’ve learned to take it slow.  I really don’t watch the Garmin, but I track my progress regardless.  Small steps forward, taking it slow.

There will be a time and place for that quickness, be patient.  A marathon is taxing, remember.

Ok, so these are notes to myself.  Sometimes I need reminding that a low mileage week is great for my body.  Taking days off is ok.  Chilling on the couch with my feet up isn’t being lazy, it’s being good to myself.

Self, relish in the accomplishment of another marathon, and heal to run another.



Hilton Head Island Marathon


Only two weeks remain until the inaugural Hilton Head Marathon.  I am very excited to be running this event for the first time.  In years passed this event was a Half Marathon, 10k and 5k.  With the rise in popularity of the marathon distance, this will be the first year for the 26.2.  Of course it can always be iffy to run a first time event, but because they have the other distances down pat, I feel that adding the marathon will be pretty turnkey.

This event is put on by Bearfoot Sports out of Bluffton, SC.  I have run two other events that they have put on, and have been extremely pleased with the organization from beginning to end.  They produce high quality events, and I am sure this one will be no different.  The last race I ran with them was the Firecracker 5000, this past July 4th.  It’s one of the top 10 races of the year in the state of South Carolina in attendance.  The other event I ran with them was back in 2011.  It was the Hilton Head Island Bridge Run.  I ran the 10k, but they also have a 5k option.  That 10k, even though it traverses one of the islands bridges twice, is to this day, my PR at that distance.

Hilton Head is just under a five hour drive from home.  My mother lives there, so even though it’s a destination run for me, the expense really only comes from the time in the car getting there and back.  Accommodations are free, and so is the pre-race dinner.  I’ve already talked to Mom, and ordered up some chicken and pasta for dinner the night before the race.  it should be a really nice mid-winter getaway for a long weekend.  We will be heading down Thursday evening, and staying through Sunday afternoon.  The race is on Saturday morning.

It really will be a family affair.  Mom is not running this time, but between all of us running, we will have all race distances covered.  Three in the family will be running the 5k, my oldest son will be running the Half (his first one), and I will be running the Full.  I guess we better count on some good post race food, as some of us will be there waiting at the finish for quite some time.  Mom only lives less than ten minutes from the start however, so quick trips back to the house are possible.

I’m hoping for a bit of a warm up, too.  This winter has been incredibly cold.  I certainly don’t want a repeat of the conditions from last weeks marathon in Charleston.  I would love a sunny 50 degree day.

With only two weeks to go, I plan on just a few short distance runs between now and race day.  A mix of recovery runs is in order, as I am still not 100% from last weeks race.  I’m taking it easy, trying to restore my legs the best I can.

Bridges, beautiful homes, Blue herons, Spanish moss and live oak trees.  These will be along my run, and I plan to soak it all in.


10 Time Marathoner


This is what I will be able to call myself in just a few short weeks.  A ten time marathoner.  Wow!

Every day I give my thanks for my health, and ability.  Dedication, the desire to accomplish a goal.  I don’t know that this was really ever a goal of mine until half way through last year.  As I crested Roanoke Mountain last year in April at the Blue Ridge Marathon, I began to think that I could accomplish anything.  The finish line of that race was the completion of my fifth marathon.  I thought that if I could complete “America’s Toughest Road Marathon”, that my limits were endless.

From that race, I moved on to another, and another and another.  I finished 2013 with three more marathons under my belt, putting my total at 8.  Having just completed the Charleston Marathon last weekend, number 10 is now within reach.  It’s close.  Just a few weeks away.

I am heading back down to South Carolina with my family in a few weeks to grab #10 on the island of Hilton Head.


There are no guarantees, of course, but my attempt at the successful completion of 10 marathons will take place on February 8, 2014.

Recovery running


This is is how I imagine I look when I run, but alas, looking at 99% of my race photos, this is far from true.  Having run a difficult marathon in the wind and cold four days ago, I am considering a recovery run today.  I’ve read many articles on how runners of all shapes and sizes and levels of ability approach recovery.  As I have progressed as a runner, I’ve learned that I have to adapt and personalize my recovery, and can’t use a bottled recovery plan.

After the marathon on Saturday, my body felt pretty wrecked.  My hips, and knees were just sore beyond belief.  I certainly have walked away from other marathons easier than I did this past weekend.  The wind forced me to work harder, resulting in more aches and pains.  The day after, on Sunday, I felt even worse, plus I had to work that afternoon.  I wasn’t ready for a run, and didn’t plan on one.  Sunday came and went, leading to Monday.  I could have run on Monday, but wasn’t feeling ready.  No problem.  The aches and pains were still there, but the hips felt much better.  Just some knee pain, but a fading pain.  Tuesday came, and my thought was to wait another day to run.  Like magic, over the course of the day, my legs felt back to normal.  No more pains of any kind.  That leads me to today.  So, I think I am ready for a short distance run.  Thinking maybe a two miler.

It is extremely important to listen to your body, and this doesn’t happen overnight.  I’ve made many mistakes over the past few years, but the good thing is, I’ve learned from my mistakes.  Running when your body isn’t ready will just lead to injury, so learn to listen.  Taking an extra day or two off will only help.  I’ve learned that resting can be just as beneficial sometimes.  Focus on keeping the body healthy.

I am going to start back slowly, with no target pace in mind other than slow.  If I’m not feeling it, I will end it early.

The running community is a great one, full of ideas, tricks and tips.  If you have any suggestions on recovery, what has worked for you, please share.  Would love to hear your recovery techniques.

Charleston Marathon -Race Recap


As I sit here, and begin typing out this recap, I am trying to find the perfect word to summarize this event.  What comes to mind immediately is (WINDY).  Let’s see if that changes as I begin rehashing the events of this past weekends race from start to finish.

**I am going to try not be overly redundant, as I posted about this race a few times over the past few weeks, leading right up to an extremely brief recap the evening of the race.

First off, I just have to say that Charleston, South Carolina is fantastic!  I’ve only been there a few times in the past, and have never really gotten the chance to explore.  Although I became familiar with Charleston on foot during the race, I cannot wait to go back for a long weekend sometime to really absorb some of Charleston’s history and charm.  My friend Paula and I drove down on Friday.  The trip took us less than four hours.  We drove straight to our hotel, the La Quinta, right across the Ashley River from the peninsula of Charleston.  Our rooms were available for check in when we arrived, so we chilled for about a half hour before heading out to the race expo.

The expo was just a very short drive from our hotel.  Ten minutes, maybe, by car.  Maybe it’s just me, but when you have a race where tons and tons of folks are coming in from out of town, out of state, etc… please have signs posted outside pointing us where to go.  There were absolutely no road signs, and no signs on the building itself, nor inside, pointing runners in the right direction.  Luckily I saw a woman with what looked like a swag bag, walking on the side of the road, and asked her where to go.  She also offered to let us park in her spot as she was leaving.  Parking was not marked either.  Not a great start, but I’m easy, and didn’t let it bother me.

The expo was held in a high school gym, which was way too small for a race this size.  The layout of the expo was also an epic fail.  As this was the fourth installment of this race in Charleston, I was surprised by this.  I hope the race director improves this expo for future runners.  I knew two race directors for other races there, and they felt the same way.  The swag was minimal.  Just a shirt, and a very cheap swag bag to double as a bag check bag.  This was a pretty expensive race, for very little swag.  The shirt featured artwork by a local artist.image

The bib itself needs to be changed, as well.  I’ve read comments on this race from previous years, and it seems like no improvements have been made in this area.  In the photo above, I have the chip portion of the bib tucked under so you can’t see it, but the chip was attached to a tearaway strip on the bottom of the bib.  This was so flimsy, that I thought it would fall off before I even left the expo, and certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving it as is, while running 26.2 miles.  I ended up grabbing extra pins, and pinning the chip to the upper bib.  No way I was going to run a marathon, and lose that chip due to flimsy bib design.  Flash forward, I made it over the finish line with my chip.  Others were not so lucky.  Note to future runners… If the bib and chip are flimsy, find a way to make it more sturdy.

Aside from a few other races being at the expo to spread the word about their races, there really wasn’t much else to see.  The Wrightsville Beach Marathon was there, as was Hilton Head Marathon, the Greensboro Marathon and the Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate.  The race director for the Asheville race actually opened up 50 more spots for the previously sold out half at the Biltmore, just so that attendees of the Charleston Expo had a chance to sign up.  Very cool.  The Greensboro marathon was offering a $30 discount for a week, to sign up for their Marathon this Fall.  I plan on taking advantage of that, for sure.  *note to self! don’t forget to sign up before this weekend*.

We then took advantage of about an hour of free time before our dinner reservations to drive around Charleston and take a few pictures.  I was floored by the architectural beauty, and really enjoyed our sightseeing adventure. I will return for more details, and would actually like to walk around Charleston quite a bit, and take a food tour, as well.  Here are some photos of the area.





We then made a quick trip back across the river to an Italian restaurant that came highly recommended.  Al Di La Tratoria was awesome.  We sat in the wine bar (no we didn’t have wine).  We sat down at 6pm, and by 6:30 the place was packed.  No wonder I could only get us a table in the bar area.  We didn’t mind at all, and proceeded to have an amazing meal.  I even capped off my meal with some white chocolate mousse with berries for dessert.  Yum!  Everything was so fresh, and tasted as good as it looked.

Back at the hotel, we were in for the night.  We agreed to meet up in the lobby at 6:30am, to head over to find parking at the starting line.  We thought it may be a bit of a cluster, so we gave ourselves ample time to get there, and be ready.  The rest of Friday evening I just relaxed, and tried to keep me feet up.  I got everything together for race morning, so that I could have a peaceful sleep.  Three alarms set for 4:30am, I actually slept fairly well.

Race day Saturday.  Everything went off without a hitch in the morning.  Oh, the one negative to staying at this hotel was that they offered no late check outs for runners.  Give me a break!  Come on La Quinta, get with the program.  I would love to shower before heading home.  Anyway, that was not going to happen, so I checked out, and met my friend in the lobby.  The quick trip to the race start was actually quicker at 6am, than the day before, and when we arrived, there was plentiful parking.  We had over an hour until the start of the race, so since the weather was cold (38), and the winds were blowing heftily at 20 mph, we sat in the warm truck and relaxed.

Promptly at 7:50am, I exited the truck, and headed over to the starting line.  Just a minutes walk away from where we parked.  Simple.  I didn’t have to shiver long, although I think I was the only person I could see in my immediate surroundings that didn’t have gloves on. The one thing I forgot at home.  Throwaway gloves!  Here is my view of the starting line just moments before the start of the race.


See all of those hats?  It was cold!  Felt like 26-28 with the windchill.  The conditions would certainly end up wearing me down in the end, but I felt pretty good at the start.

The start near Burke High School would send thousands of half and full marathoners barreling down the first few miles along Fishburne/Lakewood Dr.  The crowd really didn’t start to thin until about a mile in.  There was a lot of foot dodging, and concentrating on not tripping yourself or another runner.  There were random pools of water on the sides of the street due to a quick moving thunderstorm the night before, which added to the madness.  We were moving though, the race had begun.

The fist few miles are mostly run along the water.  Very pretty start to this race.  I really enjoyed the sights, as I got into my rhythm for the run.  Miles 2.5 to 3 were beautiful, enjoying the sunshine on the water and faraway views of the area.  Just after mile three, the course turns left onto King St., the main north/south thoroughfare in Charleston.  This six mile stretch was tough.  Lots of wind, but also lots of crowd support.  All I kept thinking at this point in the race was that the crowd had just gotten up and came out to support us with a cup of coffee.  Many of these folks were still not showered, some out walking dogs, etc..  It was just about that moment that I found myself getting very jealous.  There I was still in the very early stages of a 26.2 mile race, and I began to smell bacon.  A very strong scent of bacon from a restaurant, just beginning a country breakfast feast for visitors and locals.  I became very distracted, and found myself wishing I was sitting down in that restaurant ordering my own big breakfast with a hefty side of bacon. Wow!  Then as soon as the bacon scent disappeared, I passed another restaurant, and more smells of, you guessed it, bacon.  Ok, I had to run faster to get away from those distractions.

Keeping up a decent pace, I was holding on to a 7:30 pace as mile 9 passed.  Just a short ways away, the half and full marathoners split, and the crowd lessened quickly. Circling back and under an overpass, we started heading southeast.  For a few minutes the intense wind wasn’t in our faces.  The wind was just daunting!  It was nice to have a bit of a break from it being right in my face.  This part of the course takes you back down toward the water, and eventually onto a pier for a quick out and back surrounded by the water on either side.  That was cool, but the wind was back, and turning back in a northerly direction to repeat that part of the course back to the race splitting point was where I started to lose some steam.  I remember it well.  I just kept thinking to myself to keep pushing.  My legs weren’t working as well, and I was really fighting the wind.  It was taking a lot out of me, and my pace.

I managed to make it to about the half way point in the race before my Garmin started to tick closer and closer to that magical BQ pace.  I was slowing down.  I couldn’t help it.  That 7:30 pace faded, now 7:40, 7:45, and eventually past 7:49.  I would have to maintain that pace the entire second half of the race if I wanted that BQ, but mentally I gave up right then.  This wasn’t my target race for the BQ, but in my mind I wanted to be able to last longer then just 14 miles sub 7:49 pace.  Today wasn’t the day, it was just too cold, and my body was starting to break down fighting that headwind.

Miles 16 though 24 were not as fun, as the course wasn’t as interesting.  More importantly though, I started feeling my lower body aching.  At first I felt it in my knees.  I have rarely been stricken with IT band issues, but started feeling my right knee aching terribly.  I haven’t had pain like that in a long time.  Then I started feeling pain in the back of both knees.  Then my hips.  I never cramped at all, as I hydrated well, and ate a half banana twice to keep going.  I had the hardest time.  My feet felt fine, which was good news.  My main focus now was to push through this pain, and keep moving forward.

I watched countless runners pass me, as we headed into an area of the course where there are a lot of out and backs, doubling back, seeing a lot of the same runners behind you countless times.  I struggled mentally and physically.  It was really tough pushing through the pain.  I wanted to tote along an IV drip with pain killers.  I was hurting.  With each passing mile, I found myself counting down to the finish.

The last several miles of the race are all run in North Charleston.  The wind was just as intense, but it was a tad warmer.  I knew I could still have a respectable finish if I could just keep moving.  Slowly but surely I was nearing the finish.  Have you ever run a race where you concentrated so much on your Garmin, and the miles just didn’t match with the course mileage signs?  My Garmin matched perfectly for most of the race until the very end.  When it matters most.  All of the sudden the last .2 on a marathon course becomes very important.  When you are ready to finish, and I was ready to be done, believe me, my Garmin said 26, but that sign was not there.  More and more spectators started coming into view, cheering.  Ok, so now here is the 26 mile sign, my Garmin says 26.2.  Wait, this should be the finish line, but it wasn’t.  Man, I was sore, and wanted to cross that line.

Finally the finish line came into view.  Finally!  I had to tell myself to enjoy the finish.  Normally I have a burst of energy at this point.  Sometimes I am able to really kick in one good last fight to the finish.  Not today.  I tried to force a smile, to thank those cheering on the sidelines.  I had a hard time even doing this.  It felt like a slow crawl across the finish.  Of course it wasn’t, but it felt that way.  My hips and knees were killing me.  I was never so happy to finish a race, and to have that medal placed around my neck.

I almost felt like I was in another world.  Not a happy world, but one where I was kind of out of my body, looking at myself.  I had done it, finished my 9th marathon.  A tough day overall.  The wind and cold had beaten me down.  It really sent my body into a tailspin that day.  I made my way through the finishers chute.  I grabbed some water, a flat soda, muffin and moved forward.  The finisher village was huge, and filled with vendors, and food.  I just couldn’t move through and see everything.  I grabbed a bowl of shrimp and grits (a brilliant idea) and made my way to the side of a building.  Wrapped in a Mylar blanket, a sat down in the sun.  It felt so good to sit.  I rested my legs for 15 minutes or so, relaxing.  That shrimp and grits were just what I needed.  That soda tasted so good!

As soon as I felt like I could get up without falling back down, we walked to the truck.  My friend had finished her race, the half, went back to our hotel, showered, checked out, and had returned to the finish line just moments before I crossed the finish.  It was time to head home.  So once at the truck, I quickly changed clothes, and we were on our way.

Results for the race are still currently preliminary, but here is a look at what I know at this point.

Gun Time: 3:48:38

Chip Time: 3:47:58

Overall: 231/1180

Age Group: 33/90

Gender: 182/618

Overall, considering the weather conditions, I am happy with my finish.  I wanted to be faster that day, but it wasn’t meant to be.  How can I not be happy though with finishing another marathon, just nine weeks shy of my last one.  The Charleston Marathon was my first race of 2014, and overall it was such a great race.  Every race is different, some harder than others.  The tough part for me that day was fighting against the wind, which ended up making me fight against a body.  My legs got me to the finish, and for that, I am grateful.

On to marathon #10.  As I recover over the coming days, the pain in my legs will disappear, leaving me with great memories of Charleston.  What a beautiful city, and an amazing marathon.  I certainly recommend it highly.  There are things they can improve upon, and I am confident that as this race grows, they will change those things to make the race even better.

Charleston Bling


Race time 8:00am

Temp: 38

Wind speed: 18 mph

Felt like 26-28 degrees, or colder.

Course support: excellent

BQ?  No

Finish time: 3:47:58

Considering the weather conditions, I did the best I could today.  Sore tonight, but back home and relaxed, eating some well earned pizza.

Just wanted to share my results.  Full recap coming soon….