Wimbledon Fanatic

I have been a tennis player most of my life.  Long before running became a passion of mine, tennis was my life.  I first picked up a tennis racquet at about the age of eight.  I lived in a household of tennis players, and quickly became quite a good player over the years.

When I was growing up, I played every chance I got.  I loved it.  I loved learning, and I loved getting better at it.  We played as a family.  We played doubles, we played singles.  I played all the way though Junior and Senior High School on the tennis team.  My Senior year I played #2 singles, and finished my high school tennis career with a record of 16-2 that final season.  I made it to the State Qualifying tournament one year.  I played in several local tennis tournaments, playing men’s doubles and mixed doubles.  Actually winning three tournaments before I hit 21 years old.  I loved it!

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I also watched a lot of tennis on television back then.  I loved watching John McEnroe, and Jimmy Connors.  Andre Agassi, and Pete Sampras.  Loved watching Steffi Graf, and Martina and Chrissy.

Once I got married and started my own family, I had much less time for tennis, or even watching it on TV for that matter.  I never lost my love for the sport, and even joined a USTA men’s tennis team several years ago when I once again dove back into the sport.  With age comes injuries, and I’ve spent the better part of the last few years with some pretty exhausting tendon issues in my elbows due to work, so I haven’t been able to play hardly at all.  This past Spring, I watched several of my sons tennis matches at his High School, and it really made me yearn to get back out on the tennis court again.  Here is a photo of him from the local newspaper.

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Well, in honor of Wimbledon, this morning my son and I got out on the tennis court.  Probably the first time I’ve played in the last year or so.  It felt so good.  We had a blast.  The best news?  My arms feel good still.  The last time I played my elbows instantly hurt after a few rallies, and I could only play for about 15 minutes.  Today though, a full hour and a half, no pain.  Pretty stoked about it.

Because of my long time connection to tennis, and my new found love of running over the past several years, when I decided that I wanted to find a charity team and fundraise for a chance to run the New York City Marathon this year, my choice was clear.  I was a big fan of American tennis professional James Blake years ago.  He’s retired now, but started a foundation to honor his late father who died of gastric cancer.

This is James at Wimbledon….

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He played with a lot of passion, and made it to #4 in the world at one point in his career.  He was always fun to watch.  I decided to join the charity team, and will be representing the James Blake Foundation when I run the New York City Marathon this year.  I pledged to raise at least $3,000 for this cause, which provides vital resources in finding a cure for cancer.  The research that goes into the effort is funded by donations.  It is very important work that they are doing, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a team member for the 2015 race.

I have been reaching out to family and friends, soliciting donations for the past few months and have made some great progress.  Funds have come from all over, from runners, and tennis fans, from strangers, bloggers and even my closest family.  As of today, 6/30/15, I have raised a total of $1,245.  Nearly the half way point in my efforts, I am asking for more help and donations for this fine charity.

Please help me to reach my goal.  It feels so good to give, so won’t you please consider a donation today?  Please share this post on your own blogs, or share in other ways so that I can reach as many potential donors as possible.  I thank you!

The link above takes you directly to my fundraising page where making a donation it so simple and quick.

Thanks again!

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Shouting Out and An Unexpected Century Ride

Check this out! Thanks Kelli!

Running Boston And Beyond

I have raised money by running marathons, and it’s hard. It takes a lot of time and work, and I admire those that do so, especially when the “prize” is running a marathon. Of course that’s a good thing for many of us, right?! Paul from Running Wild  (whom I call “Raleigh Paul”) decided to raise money for the James Blake Foundation, which raises money to help find a cure for cancer, to run the New York City Marathon. And if he meets his $3000 fundraising goal, he will drive several extra hours and bring his dad to the race. How cool is that? (Here’s his post with the link to the fundraiser.) I told him I was going to donate several months ago, and because of several financial surprises (don’t we all just LOVE those?), I put it off. FINALLY, I was true to my word and made a donation to his cause…

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Wrapping up June

With only one more day in the month I’m left wondering what happened.  Where did it go?  With the a Summer Solstice already passed, the days now are already getting shorter.  It feels wonderful though at this time of year to still have daylight at 9pm, and to have the sun rising so early.

I started the month with a 10k race, but have just been training since.  Dealing with pure heat exhaustion almost every run, summertime here will certainly add an extra level of effort needed to crank out the miles.  I’m fresh off of four days of runs in a row, which is my best effort for the whole month.  I haven’t logged nearly enough miles considering I have a Half and Full marathon back to back in under three weeks, but I think I am giving it the most I have.

Work has been absolutely grueling, but at least I’ve been getting really good sleep because of it.  Add a four or five mile run to a 9-10 hour day working on your feet, and you will truly appreciate how I’ve felt the past six weeks.  I’m in much need of a break.  A vacation!

I do get a mini break in mid July, as I fly out to Denver for a weekend of racing.  I can’t wait to see Denver, and Aspen!  The Rockies!

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I recently joined the Beast Pacing team, and will be pacing the Aspen Valley Half Marathon.  I have paced a bunch of races in the past, but this will be my first as part of an official pace team that paces races all over the country.  I love to travel, so I will be pacing more events for them in the near future.

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The next day is Revel Rockies, where my goal is a Boston Qualifier at this beautiful marathon.  I cannot wait for the challenge.  Last year I ran 5 marathons in the first five months of the year.  I’ve only run two so far this year, and I have to say, I miss it.  My last marathon, New River, was almost row months ago, and I am missing the marathon high!

Just a few weeks after my trip to Denver, I finally get a vacation.  Yes, I love Las Vegas.  I’ve been there once already this year, but by the time this trip comes, it will be six months since I’ve been there.  I cannot wait!  I repeat, I cannot wait!  A full 10 days off.  I need it!

How is your Summer going so far?  Any big plans for races, or trips coming up?  June is almost over, so don’t wait too long, or the Summer will pass you by quickly.

In Honor of Dad

My Dad and I live States away, and have for 16 years now.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, and especially on Father’s Day I appreciate all he has given me.

My Dad has always been so supportive, and most of my life it has been from afar.  It’s been almost two years now since my boys and I flew up to NY to visit him.

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I will always cherish that photo!  My Dad is now 80 years old, and still lives by himself in a humble house high on the top of a hill in the town where I was born.  His roots are there, and even though none of his kids live there anymore and haven’t for years and years, he is still content to stay put.  We don’t see each other that much because of distance, but when we talk he always asks about the kids, my work and my running.

Because of his interest in seeing us run, we found a race to run in NY when we visited a few years back. He cheered us all on from the side of the road, and was there at the finish.  He really enjoyed it.

When I told him that my brother and I were going to be running the NYC marathon this year, he was all excited.  I told him I was raising money for charity so that I would have the chance to run it.  He kicked in $100 donation to the cause, which was so appreciated.  For an 80 year old man living on a tight, fixed income, this was a huge gesture!

I made a promise to my Dad, that if I raised my $3,000 minimum goal, and got to run the race, that I would drive up to his house personally, and drive him to NYC for the race.  (He lives about three hours away from the City). That’s a 10 hour drive to pick him up, and another three to my brothers house in Jersey.  My Dad will be there to watch us run!  I couldn’t be happier about that.

I still need plenty of donations if I am going to run NYC though.  I am nearing the halfway mark, and every dollar counts.  Won’t you please consider a donation to the James Blake Foundation which raises money for cancer research?

The following link will take you directly to my fundraising page on Crowdrise.

A thousand thanks!  And Happy Father’s Day to all you Dad’s out there today!

Revel Rockies Race Discount

With just a little over a month to go before race day on 7/19/15, I wanted to once again share a way to save money for those of you out there on the fence about running this race.

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My team “Running Down a Dream” as of today is 20 runners strong!  We had 20 signed up about two weeks ago when one member had to defer her race entry until 2016.  With that, we had 19.  Today, we had another runner sign up on the team, so we are back to 20.  BUT….. There is room for more!

If you still would like to race either the Half or a Full Marathon consider joining my team.  You will save $5 for joining, and also save another $5 if you “like” Revel Races on Facebook when you checkout.  So, with a savings of $10, why not join us?

I will be running the marathon with a BQ in mind, but every kind of runner is accepted and welcomed on the team.  So far we have about 6 running the Half and the remainder running the Full.  We don’t have to run together, as being on the same team doesn’t mean it’s a relay.  Being on a team just means you save money when you register, and we can, if you want, get together for a group photo at the start or finish, or both!  It’s a fun way to meet new runners, and I am really looking forward to it.

I have teams created for the other two Revel races this year as well.  You can join team “Chasing Boston” if you want to run a Big Cottonwood, and/or Canyon City.

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For Rockies in July though, search for team “Running Down a Dream” when you are signing up, to save $$.

If you have any questions before or after registration, please don’t hesitate to give me a shout.  See you in Colorado!

How I ran to Marathon #20

I got a very peaceful nine hours of sleep last night.  A much needed rest from the total chaos of work lately.  Today, I’m off.  So, besides just relaxing and trying to catch up with myself, and blog reading and writing, I will try to get out for a run today.  After all, I can’t forget that I have a pretty monumental marathon coming up in the not so distant future.

My last marathon, the New River Marathon, was over six weeks ago now.  Plenty of down time, plenty of recovery.  Time now to really get serious and focus on the next challenge.  Yep, marathon # 20 is just 32 days away!  Just typing that is just unbelievable to me.  Twenty marathons!  Back in 2010 when I first started cranking out two and three mile runs I never would have guessed that this day would arrive.  It’s a pretty amazing achievement.

I think that because this running adventure I’ve been on is about to hit another big milestone, I have really started lately reflecting back on marathons I’ve run up until now.  Each one has a story, and each one a medal of achievement.  A momento of accomplishment.  My race medals are loosely displayed on a book shelf in my bedroom.  Hung over books.  Dangling from shelves.  Wrapped around nic knacks.  Some days I don’t pay them much mind, but lately I have been looking at them more.  They tell quite a story of my journey.

I trained, I trained hard!  I hit the starting line in Myrtle Beach in February of 2012 with zeal!  Unknowing of where my running journey would take me.  I ran my heart out, completely unaware of what lie ahead.  It hurt, and I could barely walk back to the car, but with a 3:33:24 finish, I knew it wouldn’t be my last marathon.  What a sense of accomplishment.  I felt like I had achieved something very special.  Running that marathon changed me.  I felt like a Super Hero.  I knew about an hour later that Myrtle Beach would not be a one and done marathon for me.

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My inexperience and lack of respect for the distance immediately took over.  A few days later I signed up for another marathon the following month,  I needed that high again.  Marathon #2 at Tobacco Road proved a big bust.  Thinking I was Ironman, I went out with the 3:30:00 pace group, and clipped away great with the pack until about mile 7.  Miles 8-26.2 I quickly learned to respect the marathon distance, as I cramped, and limped, and struggled to a 4:11:27 finish.  I learned a lot that day.  The most important thing I learned was that this journey for me was not going to be all about speed.  I needed more than that.  I needed to learn lessons.

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Each marathon that has come and gone since then has been a learning experience.  Gaining knowledge about myself, and this sport I love.  I continue to love the marathon.  Each one is unique.  One of the things about running that has really come front and center during my journey is that I not only run with my feet, but with my eyes.  I need scenery.  Views.  I haven’t run Tobacco Road again because the course is monotonous and boring.  It’s a shame too, because it is a local race for me.

Once I figured out that speed wasn’t everything I still struggled over the next few races I ran.  Why?  Lack of experience.  Lack of knowledge on how my body responds to and the correct training I need.  It’s all a learning experience that just takes time.  My next marathon, the Outer Bank Marathon several months later was run with Plantar Fasciitis.  An epic fail.  A race I should not have even run.  That 4:13:58 finish still holds the record for my worst finish.  I learned lessons in the OBX though that I still hold on to today.  I listen to my body more now, I train smarter, I eat better, and proper hydration will make or break a race no matter how fast you run.

Marathons #4 and #5 were both finishes over 4 hours.  Asheville was all about the weather (8 degrees with windchill at the start) and Blue Ridge is considered the toughest road marathon in the United States.  Of my four hour plus marathon finishes the Blue Ridge Marathon was my biggest success.  A monumentally difficult course, I almost broke four hours, and ran a great, and smart race.  That 4:04:59 finish I consider one of my proudest accomplishments.

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By this point, my marathon journey was a year and a half in the making, and that 4:04 in Virginia back in 2013 was my last 4 hour plus marathon.  Lessons learned, new skills and techniques put to use.  Live, run, and learn.  I ran my marathon PR later that year at the City of Oaks in 3:32:24, and followed that up with a 3:41:41 in Las Vegas two weeks later.  By the end of 2013 is when I truly felt like I had learned enough lessons to really consider myself a seasoned marathoner.

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So many more races have come and gone since, and I still am enjoying every moment.  As I count down the days to my 20th marathon, I say thanks for my health.  I revel in the journey, as every mile has brought me to where I am today.  Marathon #20 will be run in Colorado on July 19th.  The Rockies Marathon will be a stepping stone for me.  It may get me to Boston.  It may not.  It will be a new adventure, and the perfect way to celebrate my journey.  A journey that will continue for another 20 marathons after that one, if I’m lucky.  With the Chicago and New York Marathons later this year, all I can say is that I am so lucky and proud to call myself a marathoner.