Chicago X 2

It’s all luck of the draw, right?

Here are some important facts…  I’ve entered four race lotteries in the past five years.  I put my name in the hat for the 2012 NYC Marathon, results?  Didn’t get in!  I put my name in the hat for the NYC marathon for 2015.  Results?  Didn’t get picked.  So, from the state in which I was born, my record is 0-2.

I entered the lottery for the 2014 Chicago marathon.  The results?

image

I entered again this year, and BOOM!  The email came early yesterday morning, that low and behold, I am IN, again!  So my record for Chicago?  2-0.  Chicago must be my kind of town!

image

I can go back!  I had the time of my life in Chicago last year, and I would love to return.  Now, I just have to figure out how I can do it.  I would love to be able to get lined up again with the thousands of runners, and experience the million fans alongside the course.  I just now have to look at my budget, and figure out if I can swing it.  And, I won’t in good conscience, head off to Chicago unless I meet my fundraising goal.

You see, for those of you that missed my posts about NYC.  My utter disappointment in the fact that I didn’t get chosen again for New York, I decided to look into running for charity.  I reached out to a charity foundation that had some meaning to me.  I reached out to the folks at the James Blake Foundation, a charity raising money for cancer research, and they accepted me onto their marathon team.

image

I had to pay for my race entry (it wasn’t free), and I accepted the challenge to raise a minimum of $3,000 for this charity.  I kicked off my fundraising with a $100 personal donation to the charity.  To date, through the generous donations of friends, family and fellow runners, I’m nearing $1,000 toward my fundraising goal.

But, I can’t reach my goal without more help.  Help from folks like you!  People reading this blog post, folks I interact with through social media.  Will you please consider a donation in any amount to help this cause?

You can donate by clicking on the following link…  Thank you!

Don’t just visit happiness, LIVE IT!

It’s a plain and simple truth…

Life is not always easy.  It is never certain, most times unclear.  We live in a world of earthquakes, floods, war, death, inequality, racism, hunger, divorce, poverty.  Many aspects of life challenge us as human beings every day.  We must push through and persevere.

Isn’t life full of amazing wonders though?  Sunshine, family, nature, love, warmth.  The list is endless.

Sometimes it is very difficult to watch the news these days.  It seems that most of the time the world is focused on what’s wrong.  I wish we could focus more on what’s right with the world.

We need to smile, and laugh, and love.  Hug your loved ones.  Be polite.  Care for your neighbors.  Reach out and help strangers.  Uplift, and enjoy life.  We only have one life to live, and doesn’t it make more sense to be kind?

image

Let negativity go, or use it to inspire positive change.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more of us smiled?  Live in your happy place today, and every day.

Double Agent reporting for duty!

Back when I began my running journey during the Summer of 2010, I had no idea where it would take me.  I truly just started running as a way to get more exercise.  I had turned 40, and didn’t want to let my body go.  Running quickly became my “go to” form of exercise.

It wasn’t like I had laced up to run for the first time in 2010, I had run a few races dating back to 1995, but 2010 is when I really fell in love with the sport.  I turned a mild affection for this form of exercise into a real passion.  I started racing again in 2011, starting slowly.  In April that year I ran a 5k with my sons.  I finished 1st in my age group.  I caught the bug!  Two months later, and two races later, I set my 5k PR which still stands at 20:44.

For some reason, I yearned for more distance.  Two weeks later I ran my first 8k.  In July I found a 10k down at the beach, and made a weekend out of it.  Wow, this distance thing is fun!  Soon enough my brother convinced me to try a Half Marathon.  I trained for the next eight weeks, and in late September that same year, I ran a 1:41:38 in Jersey City, NJ.  Maybe views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan across the river inspired my run.  Loving this!

I wanted to run more halves!  I found another, on Thanksgiving Day.  And since I was going to be in Las Vegas a few weeks later, I decided to run Rock ‘n’ Roll, as well.  So, with a 1:35:33 at the Skinny Turkey Half, and a 1:43:23 in Las Vegas 10 days later, I was hooked.

image

I also became a Half Fanatic, 3 in 90 days.  Three different states, too!  My official # is 1699.

The distance bug returned during the next few weeks.  Could I possibly take the next step and attempt a full marathon?  I decided to try.  I trained the next eight weeks, and with a trip to Myrtle Beach, notched my first marathon finish on February 18th, 2012.  I loved it!  I ran two more marathons before the end of 2012.

I continued running halves, but also started seeking out more marathons.  I ran 9 Halves and 5 Full’s in 2013, including my last two races of the year being two Full’s two weeks apart.  I wanted more….

2014 brought five marathons in the first five months, overall 8 for the year, including Chicago and Greensboro just six days apart!

image

I decided to finally make it official this week, even though I qualified last year.  My official number is #11142.

So yes, with my MM status, I instantly become a double agent.  A member of both clubs.

I can tell you a few things.  I never started this running journey with any expectations in mind.  I’ve just fallen in love with how running makes me feel.  I never set out to become a member of either of these clubs, but because I love running and racing so much, it just happened.  I guess they are a part of my running resume now.  Looking at my races, I guess I really can be considered fanatical, and now even maniacal about running.

Merriam-Webster-

Maniacal – 1. Affected with or suggestive of madness. 2. Characterized by ungovernable excitement or frenzy.

I am kinda mad about running!

#BostonStrong

Today is the day!  The biggest Monday in our sport!  Patriots’ Day, the third Monday in April.

image

A little race known around the world, the Boston Marathon was established in 1897.  Back then, with 18 participants, the event has grown to 30,000 plus.  It’s The Race!  The race we all want to run.  One of the six World Marathon Majors.  The Big Six includes Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York.  To this point I have only run Chicago.  Later this year I will be adding New York City.  Maybe Boston in 2016.

Wouldn’t it be a great goal to run each of these six marathons?  For me, it would include some international travel, but would be so fun to partake in each of these events.

image

Now two years since the horrific events that marred the marathon with bombs, death and destruction of lives and families, the healing continues.  The focus is what it should be, the runners.  I know I wish I was in Boston this morning.  I will be watching though, via live streaming.  I am hoping for an American sweep, of course.

image

I would love to see this awesome guy win again!  Who will you be cheering on today during the race?

Race Preview- New River Marathon

Two weeks from right now I will be closing in on the finish line of my 19th marathon.  May 2nd is only two weeks away, and I will finally be running a marathon that has been on my radar for a few years now.

image

Currently tapering for what will be a battle in the woods, along the river and over hills in quiet, serene surroundings.  I am SO looking forward to a small and beautiful race, a race where the only competition I will be competing with is myself.

image

The past few years I have ended up choosing races that interfered with this one, so it’s finally my year to join the runners in Todd, NC.  I am missing the Blue Ridge Marathon, and/or Tarheel Ten Miler which are both running today.  I chose to run the half instead of the full for last weekends Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh.  All in preparation for the New River race.

There’s something to be said for big city races, large crowds and thousands of runners, but this race will be far from that.  Located in a small rural town in the mountains of North Carolina, the New River Marathon, Half and 5k is a small, cozy affair.  I’m already looking forward to the drive up there, and the small country feel of the race.  The atmosphere will be great, I’m sure.

image image image

As I’ve said before, so often we run with not only our feet, but our eyes.  This marathon will be beautiful!

I have no specific finish time goals for this race, as it is not an easy race course.  My one and only goal is to enjoy the run.  The 26.2 mile run.

Revel Race Series Discount

Fast

Beautiful

Downhill

All words that any marathoner loves to hear!  Revel Race Series has all of these, and much more.  Like free race photos, free personalized highlight videos, great medals and race shirt.

Price increases are next week for the race in Canyon City and the Rockies event.  If you register before the increase, you instantly save $10.  You can save an additional $10 if you join any of the teams I have created for the three Revel Races this year.

image

https://www.runrevel.com

image

Anyone can join my teams.  Half Fanatics, Marathon Maniacs, BQ seekers, anyone.  We don’t have to run together, but we can save money together by being on a team!

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Half Marathon 2015- Race Recap

The most beautiful of Spring days ushered in and welcomed thousands of runners to Raleigh for the second annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half yesterday.  A bit of a chill and breeze in the air as I easily found a parking spot downtown.  The day had much promise!

I had made the decision to run the Half this time around, and I really was happy with my choice.  I arrived downtown about a hour and fifteen minutes before the race was to begin at 7am.  Stretching and hydrating, I felt pretty good.  I hadn’t gotten much sleep, but surprisingly felt some good energy.  I knew I wanted to take some photos of the starting area, so I made my way over to the start just before 6:30.

image

The crew was furiously setting up the finisher village as I passed by the finish line.  Like a well oiled machine, the volunteers and folks with Rock n Roll had it under control.  Corrals, main stage, signs everywhere.  It was pretty impressive.  I didn’t use bag drop, but that was going in full swing.  Runners starting to gather in big crowds, they started filing into the corrals.  I was in Corral 1, so had a great view of the main stage where they were making announcements.  The National Anthem was sung by a guy who was there running something like his 65th marathon.  He did a fine job!

As the countdown clock was nearing zero, I snapped a few photos.

image image image image image

Unlike my last race three weeks ago, I didn’t trip and fall prior to this run.  I wasn’t battered and bruised at the start, although my leg still isn’t fully healed.  All I really had to do was down my GU fifteen minutes prior, and tighten my shoe laces one last time.  I had decided to wear my RnR Las Vegas marathon shirt for this race, and snapped a picture right before the start.

image

Promptly at 7am, the race began.  Unlike most races, this time I used both my Garmin and Runkeeper on my phone to track my run.  I wanted to track my splits at this race because of the unending hills.  Because this event is not homegrown, and draws in folks from all around the country, the course incorporates many of the iconic sights around the city.  Due to the nature of trying to include all of these sights, runners get the best of Raleigh’s hills right alone with it.  Local races typically try not to include every difficult hill in the city, as a course will draw more runners the flatter it is.  So, with that said, if you are looking for a flat Half or Full marathon, Raleigh is not the city to scout out for races.  It’s a perfect place though if you like to train on hills!  And I do!

The course this year was more well supported with aid stations than last year.  I never felt the least bit dehydrated, as water/Gatorade stops were aplenty.  I cruised along through the first few miles downtown.  I felt pretty good.  The first five miles, full of ups and downs, I maintained a pace under 8:00 per mile.  It wasn’t until mile 6 when my pace hit 8:20 that I knew the hills were taking a bit of a toll on me.  I felt good though, and really enjoyed all of the music and entertainment along the course.  I really think that there were a lot more spectators all along the course route this year.  The constant cheers were so appreciated, especially along some of the tougher uphill stretches.

Traversing Peace St. toward Cameron Village is certainly one of the toughest parts of this course.  I ran mile 7 in 8:26, and mile 8 in 8:57.  Yes, the hills played a big roll in those times.  My overall pace was now over 8:00 per mile, and that was my goal for this race.  I was shooting for a 1:45:00 finish, so if I wanted to achieve that, I would have to now make up some time.  Mile 9 brought us to the Bell Tower at N.C. State.  I had sort of pre-arranged seeing my older son here at the Bell Tower.  He wasn’t sure if he would be on campus that night since a couple of his buddies were in town for the weekend, and sure enough he wasn’t there.  Bummer!  We made the turn onto campus and down Pullen Rd.  I had found a bit more of a boost in energy here, but knew my miles running sub 8 were gone.  I was just trying to keep focused on running smoothly.  After that nearly 9 minute mile 8, mile 9 was 8:21, followed by an 8:06 mile 10.

The beauty of Spring in North Carolina was everywhere.  Azaleas are in bloom, dogwood trees full of whispy white and pink flowers.  Spring brings pollen, but the weather this year wasn’t as warm during the race, so it didn’t feel as bad this year.  Temperatures were probably about 55 to 58 degrees, and felt a bit warmer in the sunshine.  Heading toward the stretch on Dorthea Dix campus, I knew that the “Wear Blue to Remember” dedication was upcoming.  I looked forward to seeing it, and being inspired.  Right as I approached the flags, photos and inspiring folks on the side of the road, my race nearly ended.  It has never happened to me before, but my right knee completely gave out.  Out of nowhere!  It completely buckled and I almost fell.  I staggered over to the side of the road completely bewildered.  What was going on?  I didn’t know what to do, but to try to run again.  So, I did.  A few steps later it buckled again.  Almost fell again.  I tried to massage it, stretch it.  It wasn’t muscular though.  How do I fix this, I thought to myself.  All I could do was keep trying and see if it would stop.  Finally, after a few attempts, and some encouragement from the spectators I slowly began running again, careful, not wanting to fall.  I guess it worked, because it didn’t happen again.  Thinking back on it today, my only guess as to what the hell that was all about is that maybe it had something to do with my fall on that knee and leg a few weeks ago.

Anyway, I was finally running again.  Pretty confident that my knee wasn’t going to buckle again, I tried to pick up the pace.  My knee issue wrecked my pace though on mile 11 and 12.  9:02 and 9:21, despite the starts and stops.  I was determined to finish strong.  Boylan Ave. was approaching, a tough uphill run before dipping back down into the center of the city for the finish.  I managed a good showing on Boylan.  Ran it strong.  I really just tried to enjoy the last mile.  Clapping for spectators, saying thank you.  Winding my way to the finish mile 13 was completed in 8:32.  With the finish line in view, I gave it one final push.  I practically sprinted to the finish, not knowing if my knee would give out and send me flying through the finish line.

I managed to stay on my feet, passing about 8 runners in the final few hundred feet.  With a medal around my neck, my 26th Half marathon was over.  I came close to my goal, even with my knee hampering the later part of my race.  Finish time 1:47:46.  Overall pace 8:14.  Pretty happy with that!

Water, Gatorade, bananas, pretzels, chocolate milk, I took my time walking though the finisher chute.  Stopping now and then to rest in sunny spots.  A guy from Jersey Mike’s handed me a mini turkey sub sandwich that really hit the spot.  As I sat on the curb, I turned to snap a picture of the finish area looking back at the finish line.

image

I decided to return to my car and grab a jacket before heading over to the Red Hat Amphitheater for the post race concert.  It was a good time.  It was nice to relax and take in some music before heading home.  “Hey now, you’re a Rock Star!”  Smash Mouth was the post race headliner.

image image

Results were posted last night.  5,599 finished the Half, and 952 finished the Full.

My results-  502/5599 overall, 378/2213 gender, and 62/359 on my last day in the 40-44 Age Group.

Pretty happy with my results!  Now that today is my birthday, and I am officially 45, let’s see what kind of impact I can have in my new AG.  Thanks again, Rock ‘n’ Roll, the Raleigh event is amazing!  Such a challenge, but so much fun!  Great swag, too!  Love the Cree Shimmer Wall on the medal.

image image image

The Half it is…

I headed to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh expo this afternoon.  The expo was pretty much as expected, although it did seem like there were less vendors there this second go around.   A couple of things became abundantly clear while I was at the expo.

image

Sporting a shirt I bought at the expo last year, I picked up my bib.

From there I decided to check out the “Solutions” table, and at least see how much it would cost me to switch from the Half to the Full.  I had kinda figured it out in my head how much more it would be, but I wanted to see if I would really feel the urge to transfer to the Full once at the desk.  Yeah, after being told it would cost me an extra $70 to make the change (just a wee bit less than what I had already paid to run the Half) I wholeheartedly decided to stick with what I had already paid for.  No extra $$ out of pocket.  At least not yet.

image

With my guardian Sir Walter Raleigh at the front entrance, Rock ‘n’ Roll does know how to put on a good show, I proceeded around the expo center in search of any good samples, etc..  Pretty much the same from big expo to big expo, I didn’t drop any money until I made a donation at the Jimmy V booth.  From there I popped over to the Rock ‘n’ Roll info area where you can register for races, etc…  You know, check out and get enticed into signing up for more races.  I didn’t sign up for anything last year, but the deal they were running today was hard to pass up on.  Signing up on the spot, you could pay just $50 to run next years Half or Full.  Done deal!  I filled out my registration, and now for only $50, have my first marathon of 2016 secured and paid for.

image

So yes, I could have paid $70 to switch from the Half to the Full for tomorrow’s race, but instead decided to pay twenty dollars less than that to run next years Full.  I am super stoked about my decision.  Tomorrow I run the Half, and even if I am running in a cloud of pollen from all of the azaleas in bloom, I will only be running for half the time.  I will survive!  I’ll take my inhaler just in case.

It’s Birthday Weekend!

What’s better than a weekend?  More often than not, not much is better than a few days off in a row.  I seldom get two days off in a row unless I request it.  My work doesn’t allow for many weekends off.  In the case of this weekend, starting right now, I am off until Tuesday.

This weekend will be great in so many ways.

Saturday-  chilling with my feet up most of the day.  A Rock ‘n’ Roll Expo to attend, as well.

Sunday- running a Half/Full Marathon (as yet, still undecided which one).

Monday- celebrating 45 awesome years on this Earth, and 17 amazing years with my youngest son. (Yes, our birthdays are the same day)

image image

So, I will ask again.  What is better than a weekend?  For me it is a birthday weekend with my family, good food, some birthday cake and probably too many candles to light before some burn out, and a Rock ‘n Roll race here in Raleigh, and celebrating all the things I love.

Cheers to you all, and hope you have as great a weekend as I am going to have!

Ps..  and it’s Spring, the weather this weekend is supposed to be a perfect 73 degrees and sunny.  Oh, and did I mention Birthday cake?  Lol

Rock and Roll in Raleigh

Six days to go!  The second annual Rock ‘n’ Roll event in Raleigh is almost upon us.  Word around town is that participation levels for the second running of this event are down.  No surprise to me, since an inaugural event will always bring in more folks.  Regardless, event numbers are looking to be around 8,000 runners between the Half and Full, and that’s a lot.

image

My preparations this last week were good.  I got in three quality runs, all while breaking in new running shoes.  Somehow I let my last pair go a little beyond their useful comfortable life, and I could tell.  This new pair has a surprisingly springy feel, but probably just because my last pair was flat.  The weather has been very cooperative too, for really nice springtime running.  We are finally out of the cold, and into delightful temperatures that are so prime for running.

Looking at my race recap post from last years race, I think it got warmer quicker in the season last year.  The pollen cloud that typically envelopes us during the Spring is not yet here.  We have some, but the worst of it has yet to begin.  I remember almost seeing it in clouds during last years race.  It made breathing, especially during the harder sections of the course, very difficult.  Maybe the worst of the pollen will stay at bay until after race weekend.  Fingers crossed!

If you read my post from the race last year, you know I ran the Full.  It was also my birthday marathon, taking place on my 44th birthday.  It was certainly a unique way to spend a birthday, pounding pavement for 26.2 miles.  So, this will be the second time I run this event at 44 years old.  My birthday this year isn’t until the day after the race.  Because of this fact, the Rock ‘n’ Roll race will be my last race in the 40-44 Age Group.  Yes, a week from today I will officially be in the 45-49 AG.  I think it’s pretty safe to say that I will be the oldest runner in the AG this weekend, on my last official day at 44 years old.  Hey, that’s a built in excuse to run the slowest.

So, as the final days before the race come and go, I am still undecided as to which race I will be running on Sunday.  Registered for the Half, but still considering the Full.  As of right now, however, I am leaning probably 70% toward sticking to the Half.  A lot of that decision will be based on the weather.  As of right now, The Weather Channel forecasts a race day low of 54 and a high of 78.  A partly sunny day, with very little chance of rain.  May be a tad too warm for the Full, but it seems like an identical forecast to last years race.

image

This RnR event will either be my 26th Half or 19th Full, but regardless of which it will be, everyday I say my thanks for the opportunity to run.  It doesn’t matter which race it will be on Sunday.  The only thing that matters is the fact that I am healthy and able to run.  For that, I am so grateful.