Marathon this Spring? Rock on!


Now that Spring is finally upon us, so is marathon season.  I’m curious to know who is running a marathon, and where.

Marathons are plentiful at this time of year.  You’ve got them in probably every state in the U.S. in April alone.  With April starting tomorrow, will we be ready?  I’ve already run three marathons this year, but realize that most people only run one or two per year.  Coming off Winter training season, a lot of us are tapering for a big race right now.  I have the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh marathon on the 13th, followed by the All American Marathon on May 4th.  A bunch of great runners will descend on Boston in April.  Where is your big race?

What I have figured out after a few years of running now, is that I train better in the heat than I do in the cold.  Winter training for me is difficult. It’s dark early, and I find it harder to motivate myself to get out in the cold, often times blustery weather.  My marathon finish times have proved it to me.  Fall marathon finish times this past year were better than the last few winter marathons I’ve run.  So, now that Spring is here, I’m wondering if the weather will help or hinder.  My last two races both had periods of rain, which I do not like.  Spring weather can often times mean rain.  Here in NC, it can also mean a really varying range in temperatures.  Looking at the forecast for the next ten days, most mornings are in the mid to upper 40’s, even 50’s.  I am ok with that for sure, for a race morning.  We are looking at high temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s.  Let’s just say, I hope that marathon morning is cool, around 50, and temps will not rise to near 70 until my race is long over with.

As I meet runners at races, we all have a common goal.  To enjoy the run.  We sometimes have goals, pace or otherwise, but our common goal is to finish and have fun.  Isn’t that why we race?  What are your goals when you toe the line this Spring at your next race? Are you trying to qualify for Boston?  Are you shooting for the 50 staters club?  Trying to become a Marathon Maniac or Half Fanatic?  Maybe your goal is all about your health, and improving your fitness?  Maybe your goal is not to fall down or throw up at the finish?  Just enjoy it!  Running should be fun, so my ‘A’ goal is just that.  My ‘B’ goal is to BQ, my ‘C’ goal is a marathon PR.

I look forward to hearing your stories!  Rock on my running friends!

Marathon Countdown – 2 weeks to go


Fan or not of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series by Competitor Group, the inaugural event in Raleigh, NC is just two short weeks away.  Sold out with 12,000 runners, the event is sure to bring some big money into the city of Raleigh and surrounding Triangle area.  Hotel bookings, restaurants anxiously awaiting the arrival of participants.  What could be so wrong with that?  Many folks have scoffed at the idea of the marathon series coming to town.  I say, let’s just wait and see.  Let local businesses decide if runners come to town with money and boost the local economy.  I’m sure the economic impact will be reviewed and scrutinized ad nausium.

For me, I am glad that the event will soon be here.  Yeah, Rock ‘n’ Roll events are typically more expensive than the average half or full marathon, but you gotta try it, right?  At least once.  I’m excited.  Should be a great day.  I love running in Raleigh, and I am hoping for cooperative weather on race day.

So, two weeks until we take to the line downtown.  Let’s see just how well this inaugural event is run.  There will be a lot of critical eyes watching this event, so I hope it turns out to be epic.   I know my 26.2 mile journey on my birthday will be epic for me, but I also hope it’s epic for the local economy.

Big Cottonwood Marathon and Fall Race Planning

Image I’ve done my research.  I’ve looked at the pictures, and runner comments, and course.  This race looks absolutely incredible!  I must sign up, and fast! This race, just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, is mainly a downhill course.  I have never been to Utah, and this seems like a pretty great opportunity to check out the area and its beauty. Looking at Fall races, and trying to put together a good schedule, a few things have occurred.  First off, I really enjoyed the Asheville City Marathon I ran last September.  I planned on going back, spending race weekend in the mountains and enjoying the Fall foliage.  A few months ago, even though they had already started the registration process for this coming year, they cancelled the event completely, and gave refunds to all that had registered.  This left me with a hole in my Fall schedule.  I also decided (since it’s free to enter) to put my name in the hat for the Chicago Marathon, in October. Distance race planning can be tough.  Making sure you have to funds, travel, new races versus old races, rest time, etc., a lot goes in to the planning schedule.  Summer here is too hot for racing, so I generally get a lot of training miles in.  These training miles in the tough summer heat always leave me well prepared for a great Fall racing season. So…. Options….   Big Cottonwood Full in Utah, mid September. image A week later the Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon in Tennessee put on by Vacation Races.  These two races, on back to back weekends lead me to think of just taking the entire 12 day stretch off as vacation time from work. October…. Rock ‘n’ Rebellion Half on the 5th, here in Raleigh. Depending on the lottery, maybe Chicago mid month.  Not sure I could afford a trip to both Utah and Chicago in the Fall.  Fun to think about though. Greensboro Marathon on the 18th, followed by the Bull City Race Fest Half on the 19th. ( both of which I am already registered for) November… City of Oaks Half Marathon on the 2nd, with my son.  (Registered already) Not sure if the season will continue after that race.  I have the opportunity to head to Spacecoast Marathon in December, or have always wanted to run Kiawah Marathon, which is also in December.  We’ll have to see how it all pans out.  Race planning is fun, isn’t it?

Do you have any big plans for the Fall this year?

A running surprise

Image He doesn’t know it yet, but I have a big surprise for my 15, soon to be 16 year old son.  Yep, either reluctantly or by choice, he became a runner right beside me.  He would have to tell you the answer to that one.  Both of my sons have enjoyed the journey from newbie runners to pretty fast experienced runners.  I have a surprise… My younger son Colton I think feels that he has always tried to play catch up.  He is two years younger than my older son.  In the beginning, a few years ago, he would constantly finish a couple of minutes behind his older brother.  The last 5k the two competed in, Colton finally won the match up.  He then took that victory, and ran a huge PR in his last 5k.  During that race however, his older brother ran a Half Marathon.  Hum…  Time to play catch up.  If you can do it, I can do it, is I’m sure what he was thinking.  Time to step up his game.  Immediately following that event, and his brothers remarkable finish in the Half Marathon, Colton ran a 13.1 mile training run just for fun.  To prove to himself that he could do it, as well.  Since then, he has told me that he wants to run a Half Marathon sometime. We have decided to run a 10k together.  Yes, he hasn’t even competed in a 10k distant event yet.  So we will do that in June, here in our hometown.  What he doesn’t know, is that I have just signed him up for that first Half.  Since it will be his first, I will run it, too. I want to be able to run by his side, and enjoy the experience with him. image I have

signed him up for the City of Oaks Half Marathon, here in Raleigh.  I haven’t decided yet when I will tell him.  I am leaning toward giving him the entry as a birthday gift.  So, next month he will know.  As my older son finishes high school in June, and heads off to college, Colton will not have to compete with his older brother anymore.  He will get to run this race, and only compete against his own expectations.  I am really looking forward to running this race with him.

Boston 2014 – A note to runners


In just a few weeks, amazing runners from all over the globe will descend on Boston, Massachusetts.  We all remember the mystery and terror that was Boylston Street in 2013.  That awful news.  I spent the morning checking updates on my phone, knowing several people that were at the Boston marathon last year.  I was trying to follow their progress, then suddenly the news.  Bombings, not one, but two.

Coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings dominated the news channels, and social media for weeks, even months.  What I feared most about this horrible act of violence was becoming true.  People started associating the Boston Marathon with negativity.  Sort of like visiting Ground Zero within the first few years after 9/11.  How could people avoid having bad memories, when the terror was scorched into our brains with all of the photos and news coverage for weeks?

It’s true, over time news of the events of that day last year have faded, but Boston will never be the same.  But can it get better?  How much has Boston healed in a year?  As runners gear up to descend on Boston again in a few weeks, will the memories of last year remain, and linger in our hearts and minds?

I’m hoping that the media focuses on the Marathon, and that it goes off without a hitch, as it should.  The scars will always be there, but Boston has to prove that it is stronger.  A mantra that became a worldwide slogan.  Boston Strong.  Boston must be strong, the runners must again make their marks, and prove to the world that it is the creme de la creme of our sport.

Make the race epic this year.  Reflect on those lost and injured, and try to move forward.  Move those feet, and do the world proud.  Those of us still striving to qualify for Boston envy you.  We wish you the best, enjoy the fruit of your efforts.  Turn Boston back into a place of positivity and light in our sport.  The image of Boston is yours to uplift and repair.  Do us proud!


Tarheel 10 Miler – A North Carolina Classic


Hard to to believe, but I have never run this race before.  As April draws near, and the race numbers go through the roof, the talk of the town is the Tarheel Ten Miler.

This race, which has an extremely tough uphill finish, and finish line in the Tarheel stadium, is a must around these parts.  I’ve never done it, but this year will be different.  Having earned an entry as a result of pacing at an event last Fall, I finally have the chance to run this epic race.

Thousands of runners will line up to run this April.  It will be my first ever attempt at a ten mile race.  Guess what?  Instant PR!


This race isn’t only for Carolina fans though.  You can chose to crash the party, and wear your own college colors, as I’m sure many, many runners will be doing.  I think that since my son will be going to State in the Fall for his freshman year, that I should wear Wolfpack red.  I’ll have to ask him for some help to show off his school colors.

Check out the awesome bling for running this race!


Even though I’m not a Carolina fan, I will treasure this medal.  It’s just so unique and different.  Looking forward to this race, another great local event.

Vacation Races – Can’t resist


Imagine walking up to a race start line in one of our National Parks.  How about a view like the one above when you start your Half Marathon journey.  It’s breathtaking!  Vacation Races is a company out there, offering Half Marathon races in several of our National Parks.  We all love destination races, but this company is taking it to a whole new level here in the United States.

They are currently offering races that can draw you right into a trip to one of our beautiful Parks.  I, for one, can say that I would love to race each and every one of these races.  Here is a shot they posted on Facebook of the finish line area for today’s Zion Half Marathon.  Again, just breathtaking!


Look them up online, or on Twitter.  @vacationraces, and learn a little bit about the group that’s setting out to give runners the experience of a lifetime.  Take in the beauty of a variety of National Parks, and get your running shoes ready, because you will be running right through the incredible scenery that the beautiful landscape offers.  Talk about eye candy.  With these views, I would barely know I’m running 13.1 miles.

Here are a few of the race options….


I’m am going to try to make that Rocky Mountain Half marathon fit into my schedule this Summer.  It’s quite a journey away from home here in North Carolina, but I’ve never been there, and mixing a race into a trip to a place like that would be priceless.

Here is a race that I plan on attending this Fall.  Have you ever been in this National Park?  It is an incredibly beautiful place, and currently the only race at this point being offered in the eastern U.S..


I can’t wait.  This race in September will be awesome!  Good luck to all of you runners out there running the Zion Half this morning!  Wish I could be out there running along side of you.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon gets closer


Looking forward to earning this bling on my Birthday!

With only 23 days to go, the inaugural Rock n Roll race here in my hometown is almost upon us.  Fanfare is starting to increase, and I am hearing more and more chatter about the race.  Folks are getting pretty darn excited!  I am, too.  It’s officially Spring now, the trees are starting to bud out, grass is starting to get greener and a marathon looms in the not so distant future.  Pretty exciting things in the air.

Spring is always a great time of year here to get outside and run.  Because of my marathon schedule this year, Raleigh will be my 4th of 2014, I haven’t been running nearly as many training runs over the past few months as in past years.  I have to carefully plan on my next three weeks to make sure I arrive at the starting line in good shape.  I really want to watch my diet, as well.

My last three marathons were essentially flat courses, and this one is not.  I typically do really well on hills, as most of my training runs are all hilly.  Funny enough, I chose to run my last three marathons on flat courses because I thought it would help me get closer to a BQ, but I fell short of that goal at all three.  In fact, my PR is here in Raleigh, on the hilly City of Oaks course.  Maybe the hills are just what I need. Maybe the fact that this marathon is on my 44th Birthday will also be a great encouragement to my race day pace.  I just went back and scoured my pacing at the City of Oaks race last November to see how I approached that race from a pacing standpoint.  I learned a few things that I think will help in my approach to this race.  Certain aspects of the course are similar, so my approach will be similar.  I think the challenge of hills, staying strong on the uphill, and using the downhills to my advantage, may be the key.

In any event, I have a few weeks left to prepare.  It will be a celebration regardless, as it is my sons birthday as well that day.  I hope to see some familiar faces out there on the course in Raleigh, and look forward to exploring the city that I love, by foot, yet again.


Let’s ready to ROCK!  It’s going to be here before we know it!  Marathon #12, here I come!

The Mystery that is Malaysia Flight 370


First off, let me just say that my thoughts and prayers are with all of the families and friends of those aboard flight 370 when it disappeared twelve days ago.  I truly hope there will be a happy ending.

It seems the whole world is looking for this plane.  A real mystery.  The news coverage has been endless, confusing at times, with theory after theory about what might have happened to this plane.

I am certainly no expert, but I will offer my own two cents…..

Search the oceans endlessly.  Sonar, radar, submarines, boats, planes…..

Let’s find Flight 370, and solve this mystery for the families.  They deserve answers and closure.

Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon – Race Recap


Yep, through all my trials and tribulations, I earned this medal yesterday at the Wrightsville Beach Marathon.  I have to stress, I earned this one, the hard way.

I’ve run eleven marathons now, all different and all unique.  Some easier than others, well, no marathon is easy, but you know what I mean.  Sometimes things just all seem to come together on race day, and other times they just don’t.  Wrightsville Beach proved a challenge in many ways.  I really think my biggest challenge yesterday was physical.  It began several weeks ago, with pain and tightness in both of my hamstrings.  I’ve been fighting between rest, and stretching to try to comfort and heal my legs.  So, as this race got closer and closer, I mixed in a fair number of short runs, and rest.  Because of my vacation this past week, I ended up only running one two mile training run in the days leading up to this race.  Good for healing, not so good for feeling physically ready.

Next hindrance to the race were my trips to the doctor.  It all began with just a regular and routine yearly physical.  I expected nothing more than a normal appointment.  Blood work, and other yearly tests.  Well, without getting into all of the specifics, my EKG came back with abnormal findings, prompting my doctor to order an echocardiogram.  The following week I had that test done, after fielding questions about if I have had or felt any chest pains, etc.  Talk about stress.  My blood pressure was also abnormally high, my blood work showed a vitamin D deficiency, and high in sugars.  Wow!  Falling apart.  I was not expecting any of this.  So, mentally, when it came to this race, I wasn’t sure that I would even be able to run it until I got the results from the echo test just five days before the race.  I got the all clear.   The fear of all the unknowns proved to be mentally challenging and I was filled with fear for my heart health.  Hopefully everything is under control now.  I am watching my sugar intake, taking a vitamin D supplement, and considering a gluten free diet.  More on that later.

So, with five days until the race, I now had to start to focus on the mental part of my race.  Getting to run it.  The physical part of the race would really be an unknown until the start.  I had plenty of rest, let’s see how it would go.


Since this was a new race to me, I drove parts of the course the day prior after attending the great expo.  This event is so well organized. The race director, I hear, is an awesome runner himself, so I would expect nothing less than a first class event.  It truly was.  The volunteers, sponsors and spectators were all beyond wonderful.  Aid stations were aplenty, the scenery beautiful and course itself was well marked.  The weather was a bit threatening all morning, but it only sprinkled once for a few minutes.

My race –

I made it to the shuttle to the start about an hour and a half early.  Shuttle ride uneventful and quick.  I was at the start an hour prior to race starting time of 6:45am.  With an early start, and daylight savings time last weekend, the start was pretty dark.  Lots of runners everywhere, but never felt too crowded.  I lined up with the 3:30 pace group, with a hope of maintaining that pace if the body cooperated.  As the gun went off, we took off in Wrightsville Beach.  The course was very crowded, and fairly dark, so I found it difficult staying with the 3:30 group without feeling like I would be tripped up.  I decided to go a little faster to get out of the crowd.  The first few miles were run down on a loop around the beach area before crossing the bridge back over to Wilmington.  From there I made my way toward where the race would eventually finish, and on into a beautiful community called Landmark.  My splits say it all, when it comes to how my legs held up right from the very start.


Shameless selfie at the beach while mapping out the course and getting my feet wet.


I was at a pace of 7:49 after 3.5 miles…. and slowly but surely got slower and slower and slower.  I felt pretty good the first few miles, and slowly my running became more labored as I struggled with my hamstrings.  Making my way through the landmark community, I was cheered on by a great community, who woke up early to help encourage runners.  They were out in force. It really was great to see the community involvement.  They made us feel that it was ok that we were intruding in their neighborhood.  We would be back for a second loop through their neighborhood, but first we headed back toward the beach.  As I crossed the timing mat at mile 11.3, and with the 3:30 pacer passing me when I stopped at the last aid station for water, I came in at a pace of 8:04.  My lack of long training runs were catching up to me.  The plentiful rest, was now hurting me.  Another beautiful pass around the loop at the beach, I knew that my legs were not going to hold up.  I was hurting.  It was around the half way point in the race that I began to feel some burning sensations on the bottom of my right foot.  Oh no, a blister was forming, I could tell.

During the rain at the Hilton Head marathon last month, I developed a blister.  That blister was thick, and this past week I had to finally cut off the skin because it became extremely dry and was catching on my sock.  There was not enough time before this race for the skin underneath to get tough.  I was feeling the effects now.  Ok, I can handle it, told myself not to think about it. I tried to enjoy all of the college themed aid stations, and keep hydrating.  The temperature was about 50 degrees, but it was humid.  I was sweating, but it wasn’t too warm.  I pressed on.  At mile 16 my pace had dropped to 8:23.  I knew that I was fighting a losing battle, and had given up on my mile high hopes of qualifying for Boston.  At this point, I really just started thinking about how lucky I was to be there.  Just a week earlier I was stressed out about heart troubles, not even knowing if I would get the clearance from my doctor to run.  I was now focused on finishing the best way I could, to enjoy every moment, and be thankful for my ability to run a marathon.

This really did help to lift my spirits.  I let go of the my pace concerns, and took in every moment.  I verbally or through a hand movement or wave, thanked the volunteers I passed, out there giving of their time to enhance my race experience.  As I passed others, or others passed me, I gave encouragement.  I was enjoying myself, and taking in the views.  We headed back into the Landmark community for a final loop before heading to the finish.  My spirits were high, but that darn blister was hurting more and more.  I passed the timing mat at mile 24.1 in 8:41.  I knew I could go sub 4, and I wanted to finish as strong as I could.  As I passed folks that were walking, I vowed to myself not to walk at all.  To push myself. To test my mental game through the finish.  I never walked.  I dealt with the pain in my legs and foot, and pushed it to the finish.

I came to the line in 3:51:08.  Unofficial finish of 162 out of 477 overall.  Pace of 8:50.  I finished, the physical challenges I had were beaten.


Finisher Village


Once I stopped running, I really began to feel just how much I was hurting.  My foot was burning.  My hamstrings aching terribly.  I labored over to the tent for some refreshment and food.  Pizza, a diet coke, perfect.  I stopped to talk with a fellow blogger Kelly, from RunningBostonandBeyond.  She had a great relay, and from what I see, finished third.  Awesome!  Best of luck to you Kelly on your Boston journey.  Maybe our paths will cross again one day. Maybe Boston next year?  I talked with a guy who looked ruined physically, but was smiling ear to ear because he had just run his first sub 4 marathon.  He was hurting, but glowing.

I had a great time.  Wrapped in my foil blanket, gnawing on pizza, I looked around me.  I feel so much at home, surrounded by people that love and appreciate the sport of running.  We are all out there, crazy or not, testing ourselves on the race course.  I love it, and love the community I belong to.

Smiling, and limping due to the blister, I made my way to my car.  I was getting cold, and needed to change into dry clothes for the drive home.  The two hour drive home was pretty uneventful, except that I began to doze off at one point.  I recognized the need to stop.  I pulled off, and grabbed a Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s.  I needed the sugar boost.

After getting home, and stiffening up because I was sitting in one place for two hours, I barely unpacked the car.  Stairs are always a killer after a marathon, so I spent the evening downstairs on the couch in front of the TV.  What a great experience I had in Wrightsville Beach.  I hope to return to this race one day, and perform at my best.


Three marathons complete for 2014.  All three happened to be at beach towns.  Two in South Carolina, and now this one in my home state.  As I continue to chase a time worthy of qualifying for Boston, I say my thanks for my health, and for crossing the finish line.  Six marathons in less than six months.  I love it, and appreciate my ability to be dedicated to the sport I love.  Here is a look at my “Beach Marathon Series” medals.  Next up, my Birthday marathon on April 13th.


Charleston, Hilton Head, Wrightsville Beach