Lucky #13

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On May 4th, just four short days away, I will be toeing the line and beginning my 26.2 mile journey for the 13th time.  Successful completion is the goal, if nothing else.  The weather is supposed to be warm, a risk I knew about going in.  I debated the potential for hot weather back when I signed up in December.  I guess a warm weather marathon sounded pretty good, when it was 28 degrees the day I signed up.  The reality of it is now upon me, and it doesn’t sound too enjoyable.  Currently the forecast at the start is about 52 degrees, full on sunshine and a high in the low 80’s.  Wow and yikes at the same time!

I plan on conquering this marathon one mile at a time.  Slow and deliberate if needed, with no pressure.  Well, to be honest, I would like to finish under four hours.  If I do, it will be my 8th in a row under four hours.  BUT….. I will not risk injury, or heat related illness to achieve this goal.  I want to remain healthy, as I have big plans on getting back to my running roots this Summer.  I do not want to start out the Summer being injured.

This marathon is unique in many ways.  I think the most notable is the fact that they are having several packet pick ups.  I believe six in total, starting a few days ago.  There is no race day packet pick up.  Instead, they are having packet pick ups at several locations across the state of North Carolina.  A road show, if you will.  They have been in Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro.  I plan on picking up my packet on Friday, at the closest location to me, Durham.

Yesterday the race organization sent out a post regarding aid stations.  I think, based on the potential for very warm weather, that they have added several more water stops along the course.  Every other mile, up to mile 10, then every mile.  This will be very important to runners.  Staying hydrated will be the order of the day.  I am debating running shirtless, as a sweaty shirt in 80 degrees will surely leave my nipples in a world of hurt.  Maybe I will just wear a red shirt, so that the blood will just blend in. (Sigh)

So, over the next couple of days the final preparations will fall into line.  Body Glide, check!  Do they sell it in an economy size 64oz. stick?  I think I am going to need it.  Gu, for on the course.  Generation UCan, more on course nutrition.  Sunscreen, cap and buff to wipe away the sweat, and keep the sun out of my eyes.

Marathon lucky #13 is here, and I will cross that line!

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All American Marathon week

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I have arrived at marathon week.  Again!

Careful planning, thoughtful short runs, and eating right.  That is my duty this week leading up to the race on Sunday.

The All American Marathon is a new event.  I signed up back in early December, never really thinking that this would be my 5th marathon in five months to start off 2014.  Maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.  Those are the thoughts I’ve had about this race starting the moment I finished my last marathon on 4/13.  Does my body have anything left to give this inaugural event?  So, I need to focus on good mental preparation this week, as well.  Belief! Believe in yourself.  I can do this.  I can get to the finish line, and add this race to my running portfolio.  I think I can, I think I can…..

To all of those runners who lace up and run multiples on multiples of marathons or ultras every year, I salute you.  Luckily I have remained mostly healthy though the last five months.  Really the only issues I’ve had are with my hamstrings.  Having the Summer off to recover, and start a new training cycle for Fall will be a relief.  My body has certainly felt the effects of four marathons the season, and adding a fifth this week, honestly, I am just hoping to get through it without injury.  To enjoy every mile, and to realize that just five short years ago, I was in no shape to even think about running one marathon, much less five in five months.

I will focus on the accomplishment of my body, my legs.  A runners heart is full of hope, desire.  Mine will be full of satisfaction come Sunday at the finish line.  It’s almost time to lace up again, and take on the challenge of a marathon.  This Sunday at the All American, I lace up to push my body further than it has ever been before.  This Sunday I lace up for the love of the sport.  I will succeed, I will endure.

Tarheel 10 Miler – Race Recap

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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the location of this amazing race.  By car, this race is about 55 miles from my house.  I have never run it before, and have to ask myself why.  It was an amazing day, incredible race and had an awesome community feel about it.

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The Triangle region of NC, encompasses Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.  Geographically forming the shape of a triangle, this area has grown and grown the past 30 years.  In large part, this is due to the Research Triangle Park.  I moved here for work 15 years ago, and have never regretted it.  Chapel Hill is the furthest of the major cities here from where I live.  Maybe that is the reason why I haven’t yet run this race.  I guess it’s that, and the fact that I have run other races in years past on the day of this event.  Last year, for example, the Tarheel Ten Miler was on the same day as the Blue Ridge Marathon which I ran in Roanoke, VA.

Deciding to give this race a chance this year, I was thoroughly impressed.  My only pet peeve about the race was that they do not offer race morning packet pick up.  That is something that is really annoying to me.  I won’t banter on and on about it, but caused me to have to drive an extra 80 miles yesterday, and spend an additional two hours in the car.  Not a fan of that.  I really think that this race could reach a broader runner participation if they offered same day bib pick up.  My two cents.

With that said, parking was a complete breeze on the campus of UNC.  I did get held up in traffic for about 15 minutes, but I left myself plenty of time for traffic tie ups, so it wasn’t a big deal or have any impact on my race.  I arrived at a parking lot at 6:25am, for the 7:30 start.  Plenty of time to relax, hydrate and make my way through campus to the bell tower where the start of the race was located.

Folks lined up in two lanes.  There is also a 4 mile race, so those folks lined up on the opposite side of the street from us.  After our National Anthem, the 4 miles took off.  Five minutes prior to the 10 mile race.  We started right on time, and made our way through the beautiful campus and streets of a Chapel Hill.  A rolling course, there were certainly challenges.  Many hills, and difficult ones to boot.  Portions of this course reminded me of the Blue Ridge Marathon course, so I tried to summon thoughts from last year to help get me over the hills.

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There were 6,200 runners signed up for the two races combined.  The course spread out quickly, and it just didn’t ever feel like there were that many people running.  That is a good thing.  I tried to run my race, and not anyone else’s.  This was very important to me today, as the size of the field could have influenced my pace quite a bit.  I didn’t let it happen.  I actually went out a bit slower than I usually do, but I didn’t have any time goals established in my head other than wanting to be faster than an 8:30 per mile pace.  You see, I was trying to take it easy on myself, and my aching hamstrings.  I have a marathon next weekend, so this race I was just considering my final long run.  No need to hurry, right?  It would be a PR regardless since I had never raced this distance before.  I knew I couldn’t go wrong, other than overdoing it.  I made my way.

I actually didn’t feel that loose this morning, and struggled with stomach issues before I left the house.  I really wasn’t feeling that great those first few miles.  I was instantly amazed though by how pretty the course was.  I’ve never spent much time on the campus at all, so it was really all new to me.  It was beautiful!  We are in full on Spring mode, too, so blooms abounded.  Leaves on all the trees filling in nicely, azaleas in full bloom, dogwoods everywhere.  It was just an amazingly pretty day to run, with clear blue skies, as well.  Temps were in the low to mid 50’s when the race began.

After the 5k mark, I started getting looser.  I guess I was just easing into the race, and not letting anything bother me.  Due to the amount of runners, there was always someone I was passing, or someone passing me.  I got used to it quick.  It’s not like I was out there to win the race, or even try to place in my age group.  I was trying to treat this race like a training run.  I was succeeding.  The course was ultra challenging with hills.  I kept even pace.  At the half way point, I had to remind myself that I wasn’t running a marathon.  I could try to maintain my early pace longer, and probably get away with it.  It’s just been so long since I’ve run a race under 26.2 miles, that this was kind of new territory for me.  Plus the new race distance.  I felt like I was staying competitive, and getting in a good run.

At about the seven mile mark, I started to think about the challenging finish.  It’s called Laurel Hill, and is extremely challenging.  That stretch has gained notoriety for the difficulty of it.  The race actually puts a timing mat at the start of it, and at the end of it, and awards bragging rights for those that conquer it the fastest.  I don’t have my result on that split time yet.  As I got closer to it, I think it was less intimidating to me because I have run some mountainous races like Blue Ridge.  I was hard, don’t get me wrong, but I certainly never walked.  Many people did, or at least took walk breaks.  I passed many folks on this challenging uphill finishing section.

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Just after Laurel Hill, is the finish.  A short distance now, with a little weaving into Kenan Stadium, where UNC Football is played.  The finish line comes into view, and it’s a sprint to the finish in front of the crowds of spectators.  It was totally cool to finish in the stadium.  I gave it my best.  I crossed the line, feeling really good.  Happy with my pace, happy with how my hamstrings held up.

Gun Time 1:18:21

Chip Time 1:18:01

Overall pace of 7:48 ( very pleased)

As of right now, results are not final.  My preliminary results show me at 377/3797 overall, and 50/244 in AG.  Top 10% finish for a new race, and new distance?  Yep, very happy with that.  I filed around the stadium with other runners, picking up water, banana, pretzels and gummi bears.  Snacks and water were plentiful.  The medal is totally cool, and very unique.  Let me know what you think of it!

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Overall it really was an amazing event.  So smooth, well organized.  Even though there were 6,000 plus signed up, I never felt too crowded, or rushed.  It was a nearly perfect day in a Chapel Hill today, and a race to remember.  I walked away today, not sore, not limping, and feeling pretty fresh.  I didn’t leave it all on the course today, but that was never my intent.  I feel like I got a good run in, among thousands of my running friends, and will be ready for the 26.2 next Sunday.  It was a fun event, and I certainly recommend it to anyone considering running it one day.

Let’s Race!

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Left work a little early today so that I could get over to Chapel Hill for packet pick up.  I say packet, but it was really just my bib and the shirt, which you see in the picture.  Round trip, to pick up these items was about 80 miles.  Very inconvenient, considering I have to drive right back tomorrow morning for the race.  I planned out where I will park, and have my directions all down pat.  I am ready for the Tarheel Ten Miler.  A well respected, well organized, and well attended event in the Triangle area.

The weather has been tumultuous to say the least today.  Cool this morning, and darn right hot and humid when I left.  82 degrees, with storms looming about.  I hit several areas of rain on the way home, as we are under a tornado watch until 9pm.  What does that mean for race morning?  A cooler, drier ass mass at least in the early hours.  The day will warm up to near 80 tomorrow, so it may be a bit of a challenge in the later miles.  I’ll do my best to tough it out, and wrap up my race before it gets too uncomfortable.

I am off for the weekend, which is really nice.  I will get my gear and bag ready tonight, as I need to leave the house in the morning by 5:15am at the latest.  I plan on enjoying the after party festivities, and then relaxing the rest of the weekend.  Well, I have some chores, too.  Boo.  I am excited for the race, and will roll out my hamstrings tonight, trying to get them in prime condition.

Anyone else have a race this weekend?  I planned on running the Blue Ridge Marathon this weekend, but my hamstrings just won’t be able to handle the mountain race.  I figure this ten mile race will be a good tune up for next weekends All American Marathon.  Best of luck to everyone racing!

Tarheel 10 Miler

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An extremely popular local event is almost here.  The Tarheel 10 Miler, and 4 Mile Run are this weekend in Chapel Hill, NC.  An event I have never run before, almost every runner I know has run this event at least once.  This is my year.  I am a bit stressed about getting there, parking, etc., as Chapel Hill is about an hours drive, and with numerous road closures will be a real adventure just getting to the starting line.  I feel a night of little sleep coming up.

Spring is a popular time for racing, and this area is loaded up with local events.  Running for our Heroes 5k is also taking place the same day in Raleigh.  We have plenty of runners to make each race successful here don’t we?  The Tarheel event just sold out at 6,000 runners.  This is a BIG local race.  I am looking forward to it.

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I have never run a ten mile race, so no matter how I finish this will be a PR for me.  This race will also be my first non-marathon distance race this year.  Actually my last six races have all been marathons.  I have to go back to October of last year, when I ran my last Half, to find a race when I spent less than three hours on a race course.  It will be interesting to see what kind of effort I will be able to give considering I won’t be running 26.2.  My body is used to going out at a certain speed, knowing I am in it for the distance.  This weekend, I have to switch gears.  I can go out faster if I want to, or I can save it for the finish.  The possibilities are endless really.  It will just be interesting to see how my body and mind react to a change in distance.  This is a local artists rendering of the race course.  The finish is most challenging, uphill on Laurel Hill.

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This race will be my one and only “long run” before the All American Marathon on May 4th.  Having just run Rock ‘n’ Roll on the 13th, I have had to recover, and build slowly.  That was only 10 days ago, so I am feeling pretty good considering.  The Tarheel Ten Miler will be fun.  I am not going to go all out, or try to set any speed records for myself.  I just want to enjoy another local event, and continue to let my hamstrings recover.

Meb wins Boston Marathon

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Just incredible performance yesterday by who we should all be calling, a National Hero.  Bringing Boston home for the first time in decades, Meb Keflezighi, an American should be floating on cloud nine today.  What an inspiring day, what an inspired win!

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Reading stories like Meb’s, and Rita’s, and Shalane’s…..  Hearing stories about runners I know who were there to run an epic marathon in Boston, one can be jealous and proud at the same time.  Runners like me all around the world have renewed inner spirit and determination based on those performances yesterday.  Don’t we all want to get to Boston?  I am working hard, and will work even harder now, so that I am one of the lucky one’s at next years Boston Marathon.  I haven’t had that perfect race yet this year, but have a few more chances.  I’m going to work harder, train harder, eat better.

My next marathon is the All American Marathon.  Now just 12 days away.  I signed up back in December, knowing that the potential for a hot race was pretty strong based on a May 4th race day.  Yet to be seen, as the forecast doesn’t go out that far.  I will be prepared for the heat though, and try to race as strong as I can.  I bet registration for this event, which also has a half marathon and 5k, saw a huge jump yesterday when Meb won Boston.  You see, Meb is scheduled to be at this local event.  At the pre-race pasta dinner as a speaker, and also at the finish line festival.  I already knew I was going to get the chance to meet Meb on May 4th, but now I get to meet our newest National Hero, the winner of the Boston Marathon.  How exciting is that?  Just knowing that will help push me along that 26.2 mile race course from Fayetteville to Fort Bragg.

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If you haven’t got any plans for that weekend upcoming, I urge you to join me, the soldiers, other runners and Meb.

Marathon #5 in 2014

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In just over two weeks, my final marathon of the season will be here.  May 4th is coming up quickly.

Last year, as I started planning my 2014 races, I had no intention of doing a marathon a month for the first five months of the year.  It has happened though, and so far so good.  My only issue so far has been a nagging blister, and sore hamstrings.  Coming off this latest marathon, I have had to make an important decision.  A decision to skip a race in Virginia, so save my legs.  I am afraid that if I ran that race, my legs just wouldn’t have anything left.  Finding out about getting into Chicago in the Fall, has helped me make that decision.  I cannot go into Summer injured.

So, taking a few days off this week to recover, I went on a two mile run tonight.  My hamstrings are really sore.  I am going to focus on foam rolling, and taking it easy.  Short runs, good effort, but nothing too serious.  When race day comes in a few weeks, I will be taking it as easy as I can, and try to enjoy.

I want to be feeling good and prepared for Fall races.  I have three marathons, and two halves planned.  That may change.  I won’t be able to be at my best though, and give that BQ one last shot for 2015 if I overdo it.  Big Cottonwood is my BQ goal race.  Chicago will be my big city event, and I have a few local events planned.  First, I get to run the All American, and hopefully meet Meb at the finish line festival.  Here’s to great recovery, and looking forward.

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