Race Discount Alert

Today until almost midnight (EST)…  The All American Marathon and Mike to Mike Half Marathon is offering a 13% off discount on either race.

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Check them out online!  I ran the marathon this year and it was absolutely one of my favorite races of the year! This race will certainly grow year after year, so make sure to get in on the discount and get in while the registration fees are still on the lower end of the range.

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…and remember, if you can’t get in on the discount today, you can always use the code “13AMB2015” for 10% off up until March 15th, 2015.

Happy Halloween, and happy running!

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Opinion Poll on Race Pacing

I need some help from my readers. I am currently involved in a discussion on race pacing, and need some input. Please, please answer the following questions to help…

1. Have you ever used a pace group in a Half or Full Marathon?

2. For large races with thousands of runners I know they can offer many pace teams at a variety of speeds/finishing times. My questions to you is, what do you think are the most important paces to offer would be runners in a Half and Full in a small race environment of 1,000 runners?

I know opinions will be all over the board, but I am just looking for some differing opinions, and what better way than to ask the readers of my blog.

Thanks for your help!

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I feel a let down coming on….

I am four days away from my final race of 2014.  This Sunday I will be completing my race year in one final Half Marathon.  The City of Oaks Rex Healthcare Half Marathon with my sons.  Although I have really been looking forward to running this event with them, I am already starting to feel the pangs of disappointment that after the race my calendar will be empty.

I don’t know about you, but I would be willing to bet there are a bunch of you out there that like having a race on the calendar.  Something in the future to strive for.  Something to give you good reason to continue training.  I love having a race to look forward to.  It is my motivation, after all.  I just love pushing myself, and feel my best (or worst) comes out on race day.

I’ve had an astounding year, and I don’t want it to end.

I ran eight marathons this year.  After last year’s five, I never thought this possible, but I did it.  I ran all of them sub 4, and two of them are among my top 4 since becoming a marathoner a three years ago.  I’ve now run 16 marathons, and each one holds a special place in my heart.  Here is a look at the first four marathon medals this year.

Charleston, Hilton Head, Wrightsville Beach, Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh

Charleston, Hilton Head, Wrightsville Beach, Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh

…..and here is a look at the final 4 of the year.

All American, Big Cottonwood, Chicago, Greensboro

All American, Big Cottonwood, Chicago, Greensboro

Quite the collection, right?  I am very proud of each of them.  I know I will never be able to top that accomplishment, but I still have Boston to strive for.

As I start looking at races to fill my 2015 calendar, it makes me sort of uneasy that I have nothing lined up yet.  I guess I will take a month or two off from racing, and use that time to rest, recover and then gear up again for another fun year.  What races will make the cut?

Do you get that uneasy feeling when your closest race is months and months away?  Is your race calendar ever completely void?  How do you deal with it?  I would love some insights.

Hallowed Half Marathon 2014- Race Recap

October 26, 2014 – Wake Forest, NC.  The third running of the Hallowed Half and 10k, put on by Signature Races.  Another beautiful morning for a race.  So many of my races lately have just been the best weather wise, and this one was no exception.  Race morning temps in the low 50’s.

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My drive to Wake Forest is about 50-55 minutes, so I left the house about 5:30.  Race day packet pick up started at 6:30, and there was a bit of a line when I arrived, but only a few minute wait.  Pretty much the only time I ever see the sunrise is when I am racing, and as daylight approached the sky was cloudless.  After getting my bib pinned onto my shirt, I made my way over to find my fellow pacers for the race.

Women wore witch costumes, and tutus, men were wearing a Grim Reaper costume, with a scythe showing the pace on the faux blade.  Here is a shot of a few folks getting costumed up.

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There were about ten of us total.  Unfortunately I was the only pacer for the 1:45:00 (8 minute mile) group, so would have to go it alone.  I have never had to pace by myself, so I hoped it would work out ok.  It’s great when you have a partner or two, trading off holding the pacing sign and just having someone else to keep you on track.

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As 7:30 approached, we got in line at the starting chute.  I was surprised how few folks really aligned up with me for a 1:45:00 finish.  As you can see by this photo, no one was willing to get in front of me until the last minute before the race began.  I stood quite a ways back from the starting line, where I snapped this picture.  I guess the ultra fast runners were still stretching.  Lol. Here is a photo looking behind me, and believe me, there were plenty of runners lined up.

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Lots of folks in costume, the race began moments later.

When I say that this race is hilly, I really mean it.  Being the third time I have run it, I knew what to expect. I knew what to expect, but really wasn’t prepared.  On tired legs from six weeks worth of mega racing, I was just hoping for a nice even paced race.  My right ankle had been giving me pain for a few days prior to the race, and right off the bat I was giving me fits.  As I adjusted to running in a costume, and carrying an extremely long pace sign/scythe I tried to find my pace.  Half a mile in I was at 8:30 pace, working my way to that magical 8:00.  By the end of the first mile, I was there.  On pretty much the only flat portion of the race course it was obvious that if I had a pace group, they were too spread out at this point to really tell.  The only person matching my steps was a woman dressed as Cat Woman.

A few miles in, we turned east and were running directly in the sun.  Although a cool morning, the sun warmed me up quite a bit.  Running in the sun coupled with having a black hooded costume on, I quickly starting sweating.  I knew that wearing that costume would not last long.  My only running companion was matching me step for step.  Pace was even, and right on the money.  We chatted a bit.  I have her tips on what was coming up on the course.  She told me that if she hung with me, she would get a huge PR.  Her current PR at the Half distance was 1:53:00.  Without saying anything, I knew this would be the race of her life if she could maintain the pace over the course of the hills knowing she had never run that fast before.  This is not really a PR friendly course because of the difficulty.  I had my fingers crossed for her though.

Big hills, big!  Traversing these babies at an even pace was massively difficult.  As the miles progressed I was becoming too hot in that costume.  As we approached the second water station about five to six miles in, I decided it was time to ditch it.  I still had my pace sign, which would have to suffice.  I threw that costume to the curb, and quickly cooled down quite a bit.  Mile 7, 8 then 9.  More huge hills, I lost a few ticks on the pace.  Knowing I would have to make up the time on a downhill, I pushed onward.  It was at about mile 9, on a long uphill stretch that my only companion, Cat Woman, would finally fall back.  She had to walk.  I knew it would happen eventually, but I gave her huge props for sticking with me that long.  I was now alone.  If I hadn’t been pacing this race, I would have run it very differently.  With two previous races on this course, both under 8:00 mile pace, I was struggling more this time around.  I know it was due to the fact that I ran those uphill portions at an even pace, just the same as the downhill portions.  If I wasn’t pacing, I would have taken it more easy on the uphills, and taken more advantage of the easier downhills.  Oh well, nothing I could do but press on.  Alone.

Nearing the haunted trail portion of the race, my pace had slipped to 8:04 overall.  Then, the dreaded Garmin event happened.  Yep!  I had been switching the pace sign between hands every so often because of the weight of it.  The breeze also kept blowing the blade, which made it even more difficult to carry.  I was so tired of holding it, and didn’t have another pacer to hand it off to for some relief.  This time, in switching hands the pole bumped my Garmin and there went a beep.  Omg!  My Garmin reset.  Now there I was, knowing that I was already behind pace, and losing my one way to keep track of getting that pace back.  I was doomed, I thought.  By this point though, I didn’t have a sole running with me, and as we merged in with a bunch of the 10k runners, I couldn’t really tell who was running what race.  many folks I passed were walking, having been totally beaten up by the relentless hills.  I figured I would just have to finish the best I could.  I had no idea now what my overall pace was, and with a long uphill finish, there was no way I was going to hit my mark.

If I had another pacer with me, it would have been the failsafe I needed.  I didn’t though.  Miles 10, 11 and 12, I just tried to keep as even paced as I could.  I knew I was losing more time on the uphills.  Eventually with a half mile to go, I just told myself to go as fast as possible.  That uphill finish is daunting, and will test your will.  With the finish line in sight, and still no one running with me, I crossed the line in 1:47:01.  Yeah, my fastest Half this year.  Not my goal pace, but only 10 seconds per mile off.  I can blame it on several things like my Garmin fail, the lack of running with another pacer or two, the costume or whatever.  But I won’t.  The fact of the matter is that I just didn’t hit my mark.  Last year I ran this race in 1:39:00, and after crossing the finish line completely drained of energy, wondered how in the world I ever had a time like that on this course.  It was tough!

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After collecting my cool medal and some water, I wandered back to the finish line to hopefully see Cat Woman finish.  I was dying to find out if she would get her PR.  Low and behold, she soon crested the final hill to the finish line.  I cheered her on, as she crossed the line just under 1:50:00.  She did it!  A PR by over three minutes on this difficult course.  She was the only person I was basically pacing, so I felt that my work, for at least the first 8-9 miles that she hung with me, was well worth it.  I found her to congratulate her.  She was thrilled.

I hung around the finisher village for about an hour after the race, just soaking up the morning Sun, and talking with fellow runners.  I may not have hit my mark right on point, but I was pretty damn close.  Pacing is a lot of fun, but this race was the most challenging pacing job I have ever had.  I had some obstacles on race day, but managed the best I could.

The tombstone medal opens!

The tombstone medal opens!

The Hallowed Half is such a fun event, and will look to return with a vengeance next year to give those haunting hills another go.

...and reveals just how I felt after I finished the race!  Lol

…and reveals just how I felt after I finished the race! Lol

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Eight Minute Mile

Seems pretty simple, right?

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As I sit here on a Sunday morning, another race day awaits.  Coffee in hand, considering the race ahead.    The Hallowed Half, my third year running it in a row.  I don’t think, in fact I know I haven’t run any other race three years in a row.  This race is cool, has great swag, and is just an all around fun time.

The 8:00 mile pace is what I am shooting for today.  I am pacing this event, gunning to bring my group to a 1:45:00 finish.  We have a beautiful morning for it.  Temperatures are in the upper 40’s right now, going up to about 70 today.  Yep, it’s almost November and we still have really nice weather.  Thankfully!  It’s actually supposed to get up to 80 on Tuesday.

Not sure why, but I have been nursing a wonky right ankle the past few days.  It actually feels like I pulled something.  I must have done it at work, because I didn’t feel this during my marathon last weekend.  Advil is my friend though, so hopefully it will calm down prior to the race.

I will be sure to take pictures, and put together a recap of the event tomorrow.  I have one goal today.  Even though I haven’t run an 8:00 minute pace lately, I am more than capable.  Last year I finished the race in 1:39:00, a full six minutes under what I am shooting for today.  Should be a breeze, right?  As long as my ankle holds up, we will conquer the hills of Wake Forest today, and have a blast doing it!

As we run our Halloween event today, I will be thinking of the many thousands of runners toeing the line at the Marine Corps Marathon in our Nations capital.  Good luck to all of you!

Clown Caboose

As we approach Halloween, and all those beloved Halloween themed races that we all love to run, here is some motivation to run those races as quickly as you can!

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I don’t know if any of you watch the show, but this clown is a character on American Horror Story.  The new season began a few weeks back, and right from the get go has you lured in to evil in the form of this clown.  Meet Twisty!  Imagine waking up and seeing this thing at the foot of your bed.

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A clown truly to give nightmares.  I have never been a big fan of clowns, and as it turns out, are not very popular at all.  More people are afraid of clowns, or dislike them, than are fans.  Yeah, Ronald McDonald is pretty tame, but he has to be.  He’s trying to sell burgers and fries and shakes.  Twisty ain’t no Ronald.

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As you line up this weekend or next at that Halloween race picture Twisty bringing up the caboose, chasing you to that new PR.  I will, as I try to bang out my fastest half marathon of the year this Sunday.

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Tell me, are you afraid of clowns?

Family Affair – Half Marathon with my sons

November 2nd will be a special day.  A really special day for me and my two sons.  Why you ask?  We will be toeing the line as Dad and sons at Raleigh’s City of Oaks Rex Healthcare Half Marathon.  I couldn’t be more happy about it.

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This is my hometown marathon, half and 10k.  The race that is currently my PR at the marathon distance.  A mark that I set in 2013.  This year however, I chose to run the Half Marathon with my 16 and 18 year old sons.  I am not going to try to better my time from last year in the marathon.  In fact, I just didn’t come close at all this year in achieving that new marathon PR.  My best marathon this year was about nine minutes shy of a PR.  My goal this year is to run with my kids.

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I am not really sure what to expect come race day.  My older son has run two Half marathons to date.  This will be his third.  He has run his other two half marathons this year.  His first in Hilton Head, SC,  back in February, finishing in 1:43:10.  Then his second, the Mike to Mike Half Marathon, in Fayetteville, NC.,  in 1:51:50.  He is now a freshman in college, and has been trying to train, but hasn’t gotten in the necessary miles.  Not sure what to expect from him come race day, but knowing him, since the start and finish are at NC State (where he goes to college) he will give it 110%.

This photo is over two years old.  They are both taller than me now!

This photo is over two years old. They are both taller than me now!

My younger son (16yrs.) has yet to run a Half.  This will be his first.  He has been so busy playing on his varsity soccer team in high school this Summer and Fall, that he has barely had any time to train.  He will be the wildcard on race day.  He has certainly had his fair share of workouts, just not all distance running related.  He is hardheaded like me, and I know will give it all he has on race day.

Based on our varied training, I doubt that we will all run together.  I wish we could, but that is probably unrealistic.  If we all plan to give it our all, we will probably all run at different paces.  It will be interesting, to say the least.

How do you think it will turn out?  It will certainly be a first.  We’ve competed in shorter distances together, but never a 13.1.  All I know is that the City of Oaks is about to get a handful of us.  Will it be dear old Dad that arrives first at the tape?  Will it be the college freshman with a PR better than my last two Halves?  Will it be the High School Junior with something to prove?  Surely it will be a blast!