Rock ‘n’ Roll Dilemma. Half or Full?

A have a dilemma I need to share and discuss.  Hopefully my readers can give me some advice.

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I ran the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh last April on my Birthday.  It was an amazing event, running a marathon on my birthday was such a huge treat!  I didn’t sign up to run the event again until about six months ago.  When I signed up I had a big decision to make, but at the time it seemed pretty simple.  Here were my considerations …..

-temperatures in mid-April can vary widely here.  Last year temps were too warm for a marathon.

-the full course was killer with hills.  Killer!

-aid stations were lacking on the full course.

I decided based on the above bullet points to sign up, but run the Half this time around.  I wanted to support a Rock ‘n’ Roll event here in my hometown, but the thought of trying to tackle the same full course again was something I just didn’t want to do.  I was happy with my decision to run the Half.

Then, about a month after I signed up, Rock ‘n’ Roll announced (I’m assuming based on runner feedback from last year) a new marathon course.  An easier/flatter course.  Taking all things with a grain of salt because regardless of a change in course, Raleigh is hilly everywhere.  The new elevation chart does look better.  They’ve also announced more water/aid stations.  After all that getting my mind whirling, they posted a challenge.

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For returning runners, if you run the course faster this year than last, you get a special shirt.  A challenge, my friend?  Have they issued a challenge?  Thrown down the gauntlet?  I believe they have.  Only one problem.  I signed up for the Half.

But now I want to run the Full!  I think that if I decide to run Full, I won’t make the change until at the expo.  I would have to pay the change fees, but with a new course it may be worth it.  Waiting until the expo to potentially change races would also let me make a last minute decision based on how the weather looks.

What do you think about my dilemma?  Have you ever changed races at the last minute?  Ever upgraded or downgraded races at an expo?

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What can you buy for $10?

If you’re like me, most of the time you don’t have any cash in your pocket.  Real cash is quickly being replaced by plastic.  Debit cards are the new green.  I rarely use bills, and I’m lucky if I ever find one in my wallet.  Every time my son asks for some lunch or gas money, my answer is typically “I don’t have any”.  I’m bad, aren’t I?  I just usually don’t have it.  I do 99% of my banking online, and walking into a bank or even using an ATM is a rarity for me.

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It makes me think back to the days when I was young.  My Mother always had cash.  If she needed something at the grocery store, she would ask me to grab a $10 bill out of her purse and head down to the store. That $10 may have bought five pork chops, a gallon of milk, a six pack of soda, dozen eggs, and loaf of bread.  What happens over time though?  Inflation!  Things are expensive, even simple things.  In today’s society, that just seems so foreign.  It begs the question, “if asked to grab a $10 bill out of your Mom’s purse today, what could it buy you”?

-One movie ticket (in some cities, not even that)

-Two submarine sandwiches

-Two Venti Latte’s at Starbucks

-A t-shirt

-4.5 gallons of gas (at today’s prices)

-2 beers on a Friday night

That’s right!  You can’t get a whole lot these days, but you can use that $10 for a great reason.  If you could give up that trip to Starbucks for one day, you could help with cancer research.  You could help cure a disease, versus line the pockets of the coffee giants.

I am fundraising to run the NYC Marathon, and have joined the James Blake Foundation charity team.  Won’t you please consider donating $10 toward my cause?

Donating is easy, and you don’t even need those bills that probably aren’t in your purse or wallet anyway.  You can use a debit or credit card.  Simple and fast!  Lickety split!

The following link will take you directly to my fundraising site where you can make a donation in any amount.  Thank you so much!

All American Marathon- Race Recap

The race countdown clock is at 15 minutes….

A bit in shock, and trying to regain my composure, I prepared to run.  You can read all about race morning prior to the start here:  http://wp.me/p3u1nG-1YB.

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I did manage to snap a few photos before the howitzer cannon sent us runners on our way.  One thing I did notice, and you will clearly see in the second photo, the pacers for this event were all over the place.  Not sure that they had a real concrete plan as to where they should line up.  In the photo above, some Raleigh folks that I met in the starting line.  Todd (r) was running his 8th marathon!!  It was nice to finally meet everyone!

The mood at the start was very electric.  Lots and lots of servicemen and women everywhere.  Some running, and some not, but what I can say is that of all of the marathons that I have run, there were a ton of very fit runners in that field.

As the cannon sounded, we were off!  Having run this race last year, I had decided prior to the event to not push the first five miles as hard this time around.  The start of the race, winding through Fayetteville for the first few miles, is difficult.  It’s very challenging.  I think in retrospect, I pushed too hard last year and struggled more at the end of the race as a result.  This time I took it slower over the undulating course leading up to the All American Freeway.  Lots of ups and downs I completed the first five miles in 41:17, for a pace of 8:15.  I think I succeeded at conserving some energy.  Last year I finished this portion well under 8 minutes per mile, and I paid dearly for it later.

With my son there with me running the Half, the potential was there for us to run together for the first ten miles, as the courses as the same.  His lack of training hampered him a bit, and he warned me ahead of time to just go out in front of him if necessary.  Well, about a mile in he was lagging behind me, and slowly but surely disappeared from my view.  I checked now and then by turning around, but I just couldn’t see him anymore shortly into the race.  I thought of him the whole way, and knew he would still have a good race no matter what.  He loved running the race with me last year so much, that he just had to do it again.

Here is a special treat while running on the All American Freeway.  Wear Blue to Remember had a one mile section here, full of signs of soldiers who were killed in action, family members, and American flags everywhere.  It is so touching, so special.

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Despite my fall earlier in the morning, I felt like my legs and body were holding up just fine.  I think the fall sort of distracted me from the normal aches and pains I think about when running.  I was just happy to be out there, and always so honored to be racing among the men and women of service.  Our armed forces are just spectacular, and I highly respect their dedication to protecting our country.  It is a real honor to run this race, and the patriotism abounds!

As I approached mile 10, where the Half and Full courses split, I remained focused on even pacing.  I wanted to run smarter this year.  I wanted gas in the tank throughout the race, and not let up.  As mile 10 passed, my overall pace had only dropped a few seconds.  I wasn’t going for a PR, or even a BQ at this event.  My only goal was to try to beat my time of 3:52:25 the prior year.  Now at 8:18 pace overall, I was succeeding at keeping steady.

Now on base in Ft. Bragg I remembered the course well.  I knew we had some rolling hills coming up as we ran past military housing and the occasional military vehicles brought to the sides of the course.  It’s a great race to say thanks to volunteers.  Why?  There are just so many along the course.  Servicemen and women line the course cheering you on, and aid stations (which are aplenty) are packed with volunteers. These are some of the loudest groups of volunteers that I have ever experienced in a race.  The volunteers are just amazing!  Thank you to you all!

Mile 15 split was 2:06:34.  Pace now at 8:26.  Happy with that, for sure because of the rolling hills over the past five miles.  Heading out toward Pope Airforce Base, the course turns quieter.  For me it was a time to really hone in on the calm and serenity that is running for me.  Aside from passing aid stations, us marathoners were out there in relative quiet.  My son texted me that he was finished.  A 1:55 Half was not as good as his finish last year, but outstanding considering his lack of training.  I was so happy for him, and texted him back “well done son”!

I really was having a great run.  I tried to keep it as even paced as I could.  Knowing that a few tough hills were coming up at the end of the race, I felt good.  From miles 15-20 I don’t think I was ever passed by another runner.  Slowly but surely I passed runner after runner.  I think I counted at least 30.  My thought here was that I was enduring the course better than a lot of runners out there.  I passed one guy, and we struck up a conversation.  This was his first marathon.  I wished him well, and told him to finish strong.  Then I passed another, running his first marathon.  This seemed to be a common theme.  I passed another, his first marathon.  It makes me feel good to run among new runners, or new runners of the marathon distance.  I was there once, and most of these guys were struggling on the back half of the course.  I think they got suckered in to the false belief that endurance running is easy.  I gave all of them kudos for being out there, and to push hard to finish.

I hit mile 20 at a pace of 8:35.  I was slowing down, but not by a whole lot.  My body was holding up, despite now feeling some of the effects from my fall in the early morning.  At this point I really wished that I was able to take some ibuprofen.  Not to be, press on!

Fueling well, I never had the slightest cramp.  Race temps were perfect, and yet I was sweating a lot from the very start.  I had a complete Body Glide fail that day.  By mile 20 my nipples were completely raw, and I knew that they were bleeding because I had blood stains on the sides of my thumbs from rubbing against my shirt.  You couldn’t see the blood on my shirt because it was dark blue and red.  It blended in well, so that I didn’t have to gross out the spectators.

Fearing a huge hill that I epically failed on last year toward the end of the race, that hill never came.  The course had changed a bit this year, and that hill was taken out!  Yeah!  I was so thankful!  We passed some military planes around mile 19.

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Yes, I stopped very briefly to snap the photo.

The end of the race was nearing.  I kept moving.  Clearly slowing down, I still wasn’t being passed by other runners.  I knew that I could finish the race strongly.  I enjoyed the final miles as the spectators starting coming more and more into view.  Finishing at Parade Field, men and women in uniform were there to greet and congratulate us.  The final tenth of a mile came to many cheering on both sides of the course.  I saw my son clapping.  And then, I got passed!  By three guys!  I didn’t care.  I had a strong finish, and most importantly ran the kind of race I wanted to that day.  I stayed strong, and despite my accident before the race even started, I endured!

I came across the line in 3:50:51.  I made my goal, and beat last years time.  It was a top 14% finish for me in my 18th marathon.

I finished 85/595 overall.  8/52 in my age group.

Time to relax.  I really wanted to fall over and lay on the ground.  I thought I might not get up though, so I stood upright, was given my medal and made my way over to my son.  It took me about ten minutes to really catch my breath and feel ok.  I knew I wanted to get my wounds taken care of in the medical tent before heading home, so I grabbed some chocolate milk and some other chow, grabbed my finisher gift and then found a place to sit down for a few.

Take a look at the awesome shirt, medal and backpack!

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My son and I talked, and laughed, and swapped stories of our races.  I love having family that runs occasionally with me.  It really makes the day special.  Overall the event was meticulously pulled off, every detail well executed.  All of my thanks to the numerous people behind the scenes.  What a great event!  The spectators, volunteers and countless military members are so appreciated.  I will be back, and continue to support this amazing race!

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Thank you All American Marathon!

I need your help to run the NYC Marathon

Good morning bloggers and readers!

As many of you already know, I am raising money for charity to run the TCS New York City Marathon this year.  It’s really hard to believe that if I make it there, with generous contributions from people like you, I will be celebrating my 20th marathon there!

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I am raising money for the James Blake Foundation and have committed to a minimum donation of $3,000.  I kicked off my fundraiser about two weeks ago, and I am about 11% toward my goal.  I started off by donating $100 out of my own pocket, and hope that others out there may be able to help.

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Every little bit helps!  Every donation is fully tax deductible, as well.  Won’t you please help me in my efforts to run in New York City this year?

You can donate any amount you wish.  $10 and on up.  Again, every donation will help me reach my goal.

You can click on the following link and be taken directly to my fundraising page.

Big thanks!

So, Say Geronimo! A tale of my pre-race accident

March 22, 2015-

My race morning started like many others.  Up early to an alarm clock piercing in my head, verbally cursing words that no one should hear at that hour of the day.  Ok, ok, I’m up.

What was ahead for the morning was the usual.  My race gear had been laid out the night before, so all that was left before heading out the door was some relaxation, coffee and a shower.  My son and I jumped in the car at O Dark Thirty.  4:30 to be exact.  Meeting a friend by 5:45 who had picked up our packets at the expo, because alas, I had to work both days of the expo.

We met Todd right on schedule.  Then a ten minute drive over to downtown Fayetteville to find parking, which was an absolute breeze.  After getting a drop bag ready, and pinning our bibs on our shirts, we walked over to the park where the starting line is.  All was going too smoothly….

We walked into the park, and found the bag drop area.  Met a few friends there and snapped a few photos.  All was relaxed, stretching taking place to ease into race readiness.

For those of you who don’t have any background on this race, it is a point to point military themed marathon, half and 5k.  A truly inspiring race that I have now been proud to be a part of for the second straight year.  Starting at Festival Park in downtown Fayetteville, NC, runners wind through town, onto the All American Freeway and eventually into Ft. Bragg.  An army installation that is home to the US Army Airbourne forces, and Special Forces, as well as US Army Forces Command and the Reserve Command.  It is an inspiring run in every way.  Thank you to our military.

At this point, before heading to the start line, my son disappeared while I was stretching.  By the time I realized that he was gone, I started scanning the bathroom lines.  The lines were mega long, like most races, and I didn’t see him.  Then he appeared from behind me, stating he had gone to pee back behind the main stage in the park  where we were standing.  Ok, I said.  I will forego the long lines and do the same thing.  What happened next was a tad startling and almost ended my race before it began.

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Maybe I was channeling my inner paratrooper, or muttering the words from a current song by Sheppard. It kinda goes like this…..  Say Geronimo, say Geronimo, say Geronimo…. Bombs Away, Bombs Away….. Ok, I love that song, it’s very catchy.  But, yep, here is what happened….

I was not clumsy, just maybe careless.  I started to jog to the the back of the pavilion stage.  There were like 8-10 concrete stairs leading back behind the stage to the parking lot and then eventually to the woods on the perimeter of the park. It was pretty dark still.  It wasn’t a well lit area.  Any guesses as to what happened next?

At the bottom of the steps there was a curb, which I didn’t see.  Why is there a *bleeping* curb at the bottom of a set of stairs?  I guess the curb was there because it was protecting about a two foot drop down to the parking lot.  OMG….  Here comes the explanation to the earlier paratrooper metaphor.  Before I knew what was happening, my big toe on my right foot slammed into aforementioned concrete curb, and I launched into the air in relative darkness.  Without much time to think, flying through the air, I thought, this was not going to end well.  It didn’t.

Before I knew it, my left hand broke my fall partially (well it was the first body part to make contact with the parking lot).  I then sort of tried the tuck and roll to the best of my ability.  Next to make impact was my right elbow, and then my right knee and outer right leg.  I popped back up as quickly as possible, hoping that my flight and landing were kinda graceful.  There was one guy back there that saw it all happen, but remained quiet and probably happy that I got up on my own.  Like Santa Claus, he spoke not a word and went straight to his work.  Yes, he was back there to urinate, too.  Hurting all over from my fall, knowing that I was probably bleeding, I quickly peed and went back to find my son.

Time to see the damage, as I emerged back into the light of the stage.

Road rash on my hand, lots of skin peeled off, but very little blood.  Oops, I could feel blood running down my leg from my knee..  I check out my elbow next, as I was trying to avoid looking at my leg.  Again, plenty of scrapes, redness, some blood, but not too bad.  My knee and leg…  Another story.  Lots of pain.  I knew I had hit it pretty hard.  There was a good portion of the skin on the bottom part of my knee that was gone in the battle.  The leg hair at the site of impact was gone, the only thing left was road rash, and pounding pain.

Can you say Geronimo?  No time to find a medical tent, and probably still in shock, we walked over to the race start.  Ok, good news, I could still walk, and would race no matter what.  I wiped away blood with a paper towel I had stuffed in my race belt to use to blow my nose.  I picked off dangling skin that I knew would annoy me during the race, and I got ready to race.  There was no way I was going to allow this accident to deter me from the 26.2 mile task at hand.  Ten minutes to race time this song starts playing….  So Say Geronimo, say Geronimo…  No lie!  It was me!  They dedicated it to my pre-race launch.  Ok, no they didn’t, but that’s exactly what I thought.

My finger nails tingling, with pavement gauges in them, blood running down my leg, it was time to lose the focus on the blood and pain, and run.

And I did!

And I finished!

And I hurt like hell today!

True story, I couldn’t make this shit up.  I may not be a paratrooper, but I am a trooper.

Marathon Eve

Tomorrow is the day!

Am I feeling nervous?  Yes!  Am I feeling anxious?  Yes!

Do I want to give it my all?  Of course!

Since my hilly Half last weekend, I haven’t run once.  My body has been overwhelmed with a aches, and pains.  I’ve needed the rest.

Up today at 4am for work, it’s going to be a long day.  Not my typical plan to be up so early the day before a race, but it just couldn’t be avoided.

I would rather be off today, taking a nice leisurely drive down to Fayetteville to visit the race expo, and get that nervous-excited feeling going.  Not this time though.  I have a running buddy picking up my bib and race packet.

I will try to get to bed somewhat early tonight, because race morning is going to be MEGA early!  I have to leave the house at 4:45am tomorrow.  Oh man, I guess I need to get this plan set in concrete today, so that I am mentally ready for an early start.  It all seems a bit overwhelming today, but marathon #18 is tomorrow!

It’s time to get my game face on and be ready to run.

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BQ not happening this week, and it doesn’t have to!

My body is not ready to earn a spot in the Boston Marathon 2016 this weekend.  Well, it really has never been my plan to get a BQ at this race, but let’s face it, we all want it.

I shouldn’t say all, because getting to Boston is not everyone’s goal.  I mean, it’s more than fine to just run a race without any goals other than just crossing the finish line.  There are tons of runners out there just doing it for fun.  Just running for the health benefits, the exercise, the community.  Running can be just a social thing.  That’s totally cool and fine by me.

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The All American Marathon this Sunday may not be a BQ race for me, in fact I know it won’t, because that is not my goal for this race.  I am running this race because I believe in it.  I believe in the organizers, the volunteers, the reasons behind the race.  It truly is a race to celebrate our military.  Patriotism and the American Flag will abound.  The race is inspiring, and full of heart.

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Sometimes we run just to run.  Sometimes we run for a cause.  No matter the reason, we run because we love it!

Sunday’s race for me is about the pure joy I get from testing my limits.  My body is not ready for an epically fast race, or probably even a moderately fast race.  The last few months of work, weather, illness and body aches have left me in poor condition to even better my finish time from last years inaugural running of this marathon.  I will try my hardest, however!  I will put my body and mind to the test on Sunday morning, and run for fun.

Why do you run?  Have you really ever tried to figure that out in your mind?