Charleston Marathon Eve

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Tucked away here in a Charleston hotel, I feel good.

Made the 3 hour 45 minute drive down today.  Had great conversation with my friend Paula on the trip down.  The topic?  Running, well 90% running.  We hit the expo this afternoon around 4pm.  Nothing spectacular at all about this expo.  Stopped in however, to say hello and get info from the Greensboro Marathon booth, Hilton Head Island Marathon booth, and to spend a few minutes chatting with my Asheville Marathon buddy Daphne.

We drove around Charleston, which is just gorgeous.  I really need to come back here sometime soon and explore.  What a beautiful city!

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Dinner at 6pm at local favorite Al Di La.  Awesome food, great vibe!  Did I say awesome food?  Yep, it was awesome!

Now back here in the room, logistics planned for tomorrow.  Relaxing and getting sleepy.

Tomorrow is the BIG DAY!

Race day details and recap coming soon….  I gotta run the race first.

Charleston Marathon- It’s GO time!

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Well, I guess all that’s left to say is that It’s Go Time!

The preparations are almost complete.  The training is over, and the running shoes are packed.  In two hours I will be jumping in the car to head down to Charleston.  A four hour drive south, getting us to Charleston late this afternoon.

Current weather forecast calls for a very chilly start tomorrow, about 34 degrees.  I’m hoping for Sunny skies for my 9th marathon.  I am returning to South Carolina for a marathon for the first time since the first marathon I ran a few years ago in Myrtle Beach.  Beach marathons are typically flat, and that is just what I am looking forward to.  I have trained on hills, and worked on speed.  I hope I’m ready to set a new PR.

First off though today will be a visit to the race expo.  My Bib # 676.  I am not sure how many runners are running the Full, but the race is not sold out, and is accepting registrations today at the expo.  Come join me!

I’ve got reservations at a highly recommended Italian restaurant tonight.  Al Di La, casual Italian.  It’s also Restaurant Week in Charleston, so they will have a special menu tonight.  Pasta and chicken will be on plate tonight. Then early to bed, because I didn’t sleep really well last night, and I want to make sure that I am rested for tomorrow.

As usual, the day before a race, I reflect back on my training and preparations.  I’ve done the best I could do considering.  I’m going to give the race my best, and just enjoy myself.  Adding pressure on myself by shooting for Boston has certainly been on my mind, but in the end, as the finish line approaches, BQ or not, I want to just enjoy it.

Marathon running is not for everyone, but I for one, love the challenge.

Charleston, Bring It On!  I’m heading your way!

3 days left!

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It’s marathon week.  With only three days to go, I am about to head out on my last pre-race run.  To shake out the legs, and envision that starting line.  How do you spend the last few days before a big race like a marathon?

I still have to work today and tomorrow, but have taken Friday off for the travel, and of course Saturday off for the actual race.  My friend Paula and I will be heading down to Charleston, South Carolina on Friday.  We have chosen a hotel only a few miles from where both the Expo and race start are.

Upon arrival in Charleston, about a four hour drive from home, we will hit the race Expo.  This is the fourth year of this marathon, half and 5k.  Hitting a race expo is always the moment of “holy crap, this is getting real”.  Walking in and picking up that race bib is an exciting moment.  Seeing your name and number on the bib is just the start.  Being amongst the other runners for the first time is exciting.  Everyone is relaxed, but tense at the same time.  You’ll see everyone.  Young and old, first timers and veterans alike.  The best thing about it the expo is that we are all equals.  We are all there on the cusp of running.

All kinds do runners, all shapes and sizes, will line up on Saturday to accomplish a goal.  We all deserve to be there, and to have that shot at achieving our goals.  From winner to sweeper, we all run for unique reasons.  To win, to finish, to lose weight, to honor a fallen hero, we all run for a reason.  That starting line on Saturday will be the same, yet different from every other starting line.  I love the starting line.  The excitement, the anticipation always builds as the clock counts down.

Whatever happens on Saturday during my race, I plan on enjoying the run.  Running to me is a way to test myself.  A marathon is a huge test of endurance and heart.  I love the feeling.  Whether I hit my goal or not, I always start a race with pure enjoyment in the forefront of my mind.  Charleston is a new race for me, and a place I have only been a few times in my life.  My eyes will be peeled as my feet move along the course.  I want to soak up the sights and sounds, and enjoy every moment with my fellow runners.  Let’s get out there and give Charleston our best.

Time to lace up one last time before marathon #9.  An easy 2-3 miles to day with thoughts of race day.  Only three days to go.

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Taper Crazed!

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Officially in full on taper mode today and for the remaining three days leading up to the Charleston Marathon this Saturday.  Don’t mind me, I am in a bad mood.  Steer clear, I am going to be a real dictator at work today.  Back off, I don’t feel like listening to your useless banter today.  I’d rather be running than listening to your petty gripes and complaints.

Do you ever feel this way?  Does tapering for a big race just mess with your moods?  I think it’s the combination of nervous energy that has nowhere to go, and a heightened sense of irrational behavior as a result.

I really want to run, but my body needs rest.  My feet are used to moving, but I must try to keep them still.  All runners must experience a varied mix of strange behaviors leading up to the big day.  For me, the change in routine is what really gets to me.  Sets me off.  I am used to routine.  Being off kilter is irritating to me.  The mix of nerves and calm without my normal way to relieve them is tough to get used to.  This usually results in a combination of me being more quiet, or just a general lack of patience.  Self reflection, thinking, planning in my head.  I usually become more antisocial.  Wow!  I guess I could be considered a real A$$hole in the days before a race.

I actually think I am better at tapering now than I have been in the past.  I now realize how the rest is beneficial to my body, and letting my muscles revive themselves before the race.  The longer the race, the more important the taper.  This coming Saturday is my ninth marathon, so I should be pretty used to this by now, right?

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Right now I am undecided as to how many more miles I will put in before the race.  I ran 3.1 miles yesterday.  The run felt good, but slow. Slow is ok though, I must keep in mind.  The important thing is that I got out there and moved.  Lucky or not, this morning the weather has not cooperated for a run.  So, today, I am not running.  Maybe tomorrow I will run one last 2-3 miler.  I’m thinking of taking both Thursday and Friday off completely, and trying to keep me feet up in the evening.  Taking the last few days off before a marathon has worked for me in the past, so I am going to use what I’ve learned.

The start of the Charleston Marathon is just 4 days away……

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As much as I look forward to a big race, tapering is tough.  How do you deal with the taper?  How long do you taper?  Do you find yourself in a completely different state of mind in the last week leading up to a distance race?  How do you keep yourself calm, and ready at the same time?

I think for me, letting my body rest naturally leads to more reflection.  Thoughts about how my training has gone.  Thoughts about my race plan, and how I plan on tackling the race course.  My brain works harder during taper than my legs do.  I guess it’s a natural reaction, and the best thing I can do to be both physically and mentally prepared for race day.  Excitement, nerves, bottled up energy… All things that should get me to the starting line as prepared as possible.  At least that is the way I look at it.

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Today I will try to envision running down the street in this photo.  Part of the marathon course this weekend.  It looks very beautiful, and quiet.  Maybe it will quiet my nerves and settle me today.

10 days til Marathon #9

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Here we go again.  As temperatures have been in the single digits overnight the past two days, tomorrow, the Charleston Marathon will be just single digits away.  Marathon #9 is 10 days away today.  Normally, I am more prepared, both physically and mentally for a marathon this close.  What has happened this time?  I actually started the pre race nerves this morning.  This race has truly snuck up on me.  I guess the reason for that is that I have not run a race in January before.  Normally I am base building right now.  It is amazing to me how much the holidays and work commitments have distracted me so much from this race.  Now is the time to get my head in the game!

It has been so difficult to get my training miles in.  I have been running, but I feel like it hasn’t been enough.  This is really uncharted territory for me.  The past two years, my first marathon each time has been in March.  This allowed for a slower progression toward my goal.  Due to the overwhelming cold weather recently, I have found it very challenging to just get out there and run.  This is no excuse normally, but temps have just been very extreme.  Today, I have a four miler planned, and I will run it at the height of the day, when the temperature is supposed to hit 42 degrees.

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Reminder!  Just 10 days away…..  Ok, so I need to get myself ready mentally, too.  I woke up this morning, my first day off from work in a week, thinking about the race.  Thinking about the plan.  The logistics.  The four hour ride to Charleston, the hotel, food options.  I have started looking for a restaurant, for my pre race dinner.  I’m thinking Italian.  Pasta, chicken.  My go to foods the night before a race.  Planning out the trip, the details, helps get my head in the game.  It helps to calm my nerves, having a plan in place.  Racing at home is so much easier on the nerves.  When you have to travel, stay in a hotel, and get around a city you are not familiar with it is just more unnerving. Planning these things now, will help me to stay calm.

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This is my first time running in Charleston.  I am so excited to see the city, and just experience the southern charm.  I am looking forward to the hospitality, and hope it abounds in the way of crowd support along the marathon route.  I am always so thankful, and show my appreciation to those cheering on us runners.

This being my ninth marathon, I feel pretty confident about getting through the miles.  My goal though for the first part of 2014, is to make progress toward Boston.  By the time the race comes, it will be almost exactly two months since my last marathon in Las Vegas.  So, even though I have only run one double digit mileage training run (10 miles) since Vegas, I feel like I can rely on my legs and feet to get me there.  Not sure if I’ve done enough to hit my goal of a 3:25:00 finish, however.  My goal is what has me nervous for this marathon.  Maybe those nerves will help me fight harder, run harder.

For today, and for the remaining days leading up to this race, I feel my best plan is to get in several more shorter runs.  Focusing mentally on the race will happen naturally while I run, and during my down time.  I feel like my body will be ready, so the mental game, the goal will be the focus.  Zeroing in on mental calm over the coming days is what is most important now.

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The starting line is 10 days away, but the final focus begins today.

Arctic Blast

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An almost unprecedented cold blast is just upon us here in sunny NC.  It’s coming!  I woke up at 4 this morning, and the temperature was about 60 degrees.  Actually went up two degrees before 6am.  The day has gotten progressively colder though, as the actic air mass heads this way.

Here a a a look at the current US temperature map.

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We are sitting right at about 45 degrees now, but it will get much colder.  It’s almost 20 degrees colder in Atlanta right now.  We are warmer than the entire state of Texas!  Well, we are warmer than practically the entire country.  Right now.  Those isobars are getting closer and closer and will soon engulf this area.

I have the perfect opportunity to run right now, but have opted to relax instead.  I ran over 23 miles last week, and have a slight twinge of soreness in my hamstring, so I am sitting this run out.  Will more than likely not run tomorrow ether, as it will be bitter, and bone chilling out all day.  Single digits here tomorrow.  Colder than it’s been the entire 14 years I have lived here.  In fact, much of the US will set record lows, and certainly decade old or more, records tonight and tomorrow.  All I can do is think Spring.

Many runners are gearing up for Disney’s Dopey Challenge this weekend, and are probably pretty excited about getting into some warmer temps.  Although Orlando doesn’t look to warm right now.  I wish you all luck who are participating.  Take your time, and don’t expend all of your energy on those shorter races.  The importance lies in completing the challenge, so pace yourselves.  I will be taking it a bit easier this week, as my goal race is not this weekend.  It’s next weekend in Charleston.  The body has been a bit tight lately, and I am going to err on the side of caution so that I can feel good on race day.

So, whatever you are doing out there in these bitter cold temperatures, please be safe.  Bundle up, and take heed of the warnings of frostbite.  I may just bundle up myself, and head out on a short run tomorrow morning, just to say that I ran during the Arctic Vortex.  Right now though, I am enjoying a milder afternoon than most in this country, and wish everyone warm thoughts….

Think Spring….

Beaches

Flip Flops

Mowing the grass

Try to think of anything that will make the mercury rise.

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Running in the snow

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How about that Nor’easter that blew through the NE overnight.  In fact, over 100 million people have been affected by the storm.  States of emergency, roads closed, windy and blustery, bitter cold.  Wind chills below zero, much below zero.  What is a runner to do?

I used to live in NY, so I am well aware of this type of weather.  Luckily, as I sit on my couch down here in the south, the sun is out, and no snow fell overnight.  It is currently 32 degrees, so right at the freezing mark.  I was going to go for a short run this morning, but opted for an extra cup of coffee, and watching coverage of the storm on CNN.  Sitting here with my little one’s, who hate the cold.

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I guess when I think about it, I would rather run in chilly conditions versus hot conditions, but when the temperatures drop to freezing or below, I find it a little difficult to bundle up and head out the door.  What are all of those runners going to do up north today?  I bet many of them can’t get there cars out onto the closed roads, and schools and offices are closed.  Runners will want to run.  So, be careful, bundle up, and run.  I hope at least the sidewalks have been plowed so that you can get out there and get your exercise.

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If you must, run.  Be careful of ice!  Most of all, be careful of frostbite.  Dress in layers, and keep those extremities layered.  Gloves, double up those socks, keep your face covered.  It only takes 10 minutes out there in the negative temps with windchill to get frostbite.

As for me, I just don’t miss the snow.  I grew up with it, and had more than my fair share.  It does get cold here in NC in the winter.  It can be below freezing, and occasionally snows.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that the weather cooperates in two weeks, as I head to the coast of South Carolina for the Charleston Marathon.  I’ve run races in less than ideal conditions.  Last years Asheville Marathon was run on the coldest day of the year in that area.  It was 8 degrees with wind hills at times, and made the running conditions very difficult.  I’m hopeful for a sunny, windless 50 degrees on race day.

As for today, run or no run, if you live in the Northeast, at least take in the beautiful scenery.

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Pushing your Limits

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2013 is over.  I really didn’t have a mileage goal for the year, but ended up putting in 1,134 miles.  This included 16 races.  Racing miles totaled 255.1.  That’s 5 marathons, 9 halves and 2 5k’s.  Almost a quarter of my overall miles were put in during races.  That is an interesting stat to me.  Really just goes to show that I enjoy competing and pushing my limits.  My goal for 2014 will be to reach the same.

My main goal for last year was to remain injury free.  Check!  Secondary goal was to run a combination of 13 half and full marathons throughout the 2013 season.  Check!  Where does that leave me for 2014?  I would like to log 1,200 miles this year, and qualify for Boston.  Of course, all the while remain injury free again.

When setting goals, do you go for broke?  Really push the envelope?  I like to set goals that are achievable, yet lofty.  Boston is a lofty goal for me.  Can I do it?  I’d like to think I can.  Will I qualify?  That is yet to be seen.  A runner friend of mine recently said that he plans on running less, but getting faster In the new year.  That running a five hour marathon just isn’t fun enough anymore.  I guess as we begin our running journeys, it’s great to pass milestones.  To run that first 5k, to work up to distance racing, if that’s what one chooses.  Running a first Half or Full is a huge accomplishment.  Finishing is usually the only goal for a first timer.  Once having run a few to several distance races, just finishing isn’t good enough anymore.  I like to get better, to push my limits.  At this point, running a marathon over four hours would be a disappointment.  For me, this would mean that my body didn’t react and do what I have trained it to do.  I enjoy running distance, and after setting a new marathon PR at the end of 2013, I would be lying if I told you that setting another PR at the marathon distance this year wasn’t important to me.  Is it.  So is qualifying for Boston.

I will push my limits, and go for it.  I have to keep telling myself to run harder, run faster.  That is the only way I will get to Boston.  I will be disappointed if I don’t qualify this year, but as long as I am making progress toward that goal, I will be ok with it.

How are you going to push your limits in 2014?

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