2016 Spring Racing Schedule

With a glimmer of Spring these past few days, all I can say is I am ready!  Today being Leap Day, we have to wait an extra day until Spring this year, but the weather lately has me thinking positively.  I went out on a five plus miler yesterday afternoon on a beautiful 65 degree sunny afternoon.  It was even 60 degrees way up in the northeast.  A good sign that Spring is just around the corner.

Will all of those miles logged over the past few cold, long dreary months pay off?  Wel’ll see.  In general, I’ve felt pretty lazy, as usual for this time of year.  But, I for one, am ready to get off the couch and race!  I have a busy few months ahead, so I am hopeful for some really fun events.

My “Spring racing season” begins in less than two weeks up in the mountains of North Carolina.  I will be heading to Asheville for a few races back to back.  I ran the inaugural Marathon at the Biltmore Estate back in 2013, returned last year to pace the Half Marathon, and this year will be pacing BOTH, on back to back days.

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I am excited to return, and conquer the beastly hills on that lovely estate!  Just thinking about them has me a bit nervous, but my experience should help.  I’ve run them before.  I can, I will, get over those hills again!

After Asheville, I have a few weeks break.  Of course it will be good to take several days off to let my legs and feet recover.  I’ll need it.  With Easter during that time, we should be getting into Spring quite nicely by then.

The first weekend in April I will be pacing another event.  The All American Marathon which is run on a point to point course from Fayetteville to Ft. Bragg, NC, will be my first time running the same marathon three times.  Actually this year is the third anniversary of the event, so I will have run it all three times.  The All American Marathon will be my 25th marathon overall, so it should be full of meaning for me!  I am pacing the 4:00:00 Full, and couldn’t be happier to have reached the “Quarter Century” mark at this event!  I’ve already spoken with the team there to try to get bib #25!

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The Rock ‘n’ Roll Series first came to Raleigh back in 2014.  The first event was on my 44th Birthday.  The folks at RnR helped me celebrate with a 44 on my bib.  Because of the heat and pollen and tough marathon course that year, I decided to run the Half in 2015, only to regret that decision when the made changes to the marathon course a few months prior to the event.  The offered an incredible deal last year at the race expo, to run either race this year for $50.  I signed up for the marathon this year, and I plan to just have fun with this one since it will only be a week after All American.  I also signed up to run the inaugural 5k the day before.  It’s been a few years since I’ve run a 5k, so I figured it would be a good shake out run.

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What an awesome medal!  Rock n Roll originally signed a three year deal with this Raleigh location, with an option to add two more years.  So, depending on numbers, this may very well be the last event here.  Time will tell.

It is surely going to be an exciting Spring for me.  How about you?  What epic races do you have planned for the coming season?  I think that next year I am going to try to break out of my comfort zone, and do a destination marathon for Spring 2017.  The three races I have coming up I have already raced twice each, and will likely choose a change of venue next year.  Any thoughts?  Suggestions?  Where should I race next Spring?

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Herald of Victory Marathon

When planning out a racing season I look at many things.  I look at race history, cost, course layout and elevation, swag, ease of logistics, etc..  I pick local races a lot, and why?  Those races are typically, in the end, cheaper all around because they don’t involve travel costs or lodging.  Sometimes though, I just have to look at races that do involve travel because it often times lends to a change in scenery, a new race, a chance at a mini vacation, and so on.

This coming May, I chose a race that involves a very long drive.  Yes, of course I could fly, but that would add more expense.  I originally heard about this race last Fall, and jumped on early pricing.  This race happens to be an inaugural race.  Now, I’m not always keen on brand new races, as most often waiting a year or two for the race to work the kinks out can be a very good idea.  This time around I chose to give it a chance because of the location.  It’s a brand new marathon, where I grew up!  I couldn’t pass up the chance to run a marathon there.

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So, the Herald of Victory Marathon, in Binghamton, NY will essentially close out my long distance events before the Summer.  The course will take me all over the greater Binghamton area, and has a fair share of elevation change, but looking at the course profile, nothing too difficult.  My Father lives in Binghamton still, so it will be a great chance to once again visit, and have him attend one of my races.  A win win!

Not sure originally that I would be able to break away from work on a holiday weekend, I am going to make it happen.  I am full on planning this trip now.  The race is on Sunday before Memorial Day, so I will make the 10 hour drive on Friday before, and either head back home on Memorial Day or the day after.  Accommodations are booked just in case it ends up being more than just me who make the drive up for the weekend.  If it’s just me, I’ll stay with my Dad.

Believe it or not, I have run two races in Binghamton in the past.  Actually it was the same race, run two different years.  It was a 5k, too.  The Kelly LeBare 5k run during the yearly Spiedie Fest in August.  I wasn’t in running shape for either of those races, in fact I really wasn’t a runner at all back then.  I ran those races back in 2003 and 2004, so it’s been well over a decade since I last raced in Binghamton.  Should be a ton of fun!  So, even though this is a brand new event quite a ways away from home, I have plenty of reasons to give it a shot.  Hoping the Herald of Victory will be an amazing race capping off an amazing trip to see my Dad.

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Double Trouble in Asheville

The Backyard to Vineyard Challenge they call it.  An all new event at the Asheville Marathon & Half at Biltmore Estate.  What began as just a marathon in 2013, the folks at IDaph Events have added a Half Marathon in subsequent years, and now have added a double (for double trouble).

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Crazy runners (like me), are gearing up for a beast of a challenge in mid-March.  Now just four short weeks away I will be running/pacing these events in the mountains of North Carolina.  A Half Marathon that celebrates the beauty and history that is The Biltmore Estate, on Saturday March 12th, followed by another pass by the glorious Estate during a 26.2 mile journey through gardens, hills and vineyards the following day.  Sounds crazy, right?  Well, at least 100 runners are up to the challenge and will receive a commemorative award and special finishers jacket reserved for only the most crazy to finish both events.

This will be my second attempt at running a Half and Full on back to back days.  The first time I tried something like this was last July.  It’s a very exciting prospect, but not easy.  For those of you that have completed two Full marathons back to back are just a bit crazier than me.  For now!  I will attempt the Full/Full challenge one day in the near future.

So, how does a runners prepare for a challenge such as Backyard to Vineyard?  I believe a good dose of mental prep is in order, along with the physical.  Being mentally prepared to tackle 39.3 miles over the course of two days will more than likely be easier for me than the physical part.  I’m already in talks with my legs and feet, believe me!  I know I can do it though!  I’ve done it before, and at elevation.  This time it won’t be any easier, in fact the course is tougher by a long shot.  I will be as ready as ever to conquer!

As a runner, what is your proudest accomplishment?  Have you ever tried any crazy challenges that are out there?  I love to hear your stories.

 

Winter Blues

The time has come.  Seems as though it gets earlier and earlier every year.  I have had it with Winter.  Dread it getting here, dread it even more in the midst of it, and eventually fed up completely with the cold and bitterness.  Jesus, and I don’t even live in the north.  My blood has completely thinned out in the years that I have lived in the south.  Winters here have been a walk in the park compared to those when I lived in NY.  That day is here though, I am ready for Spring!

So many of my usual things get hampered by the lack of daylight, the lack of sunshine, the lack of warmth.  My energy levels suck this time of year.  Why do I find this time of year is best spent on the couch or in bed?  The weather just lends to lack of motivation for me.  I have to force myself to bundle up and get outside for a run.  Does this happen to you?

My training miles really suffer at this time of year.  Looking back on my running calendar I realize just how unmotivated I am at this time of year.  60 something miles in January?  How pathetic is that?  What’s even more pathetic is that of those 60 miles, 26.2 of them were during a marathon.  I didn’t even take my running shoes on vacation.  Didn’t run once.

I can only hope Spring gets here soon.  I have a bunch of racing to do in the coming months, and that means training if I want to perform well.  I have Asheville Half and Full in four weeks!  Then All American Full three weeks later.  Then Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Full the week after that.  I need training miles to feel ready.  What do you do to motivate yourself to get those training miles in for the races ahead?  Dreaming of Spring, warmer temps and sunshine doesn’t seem to be cutting it for me these days.  I need something more! Bring on 101 degrees!

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Krispy Kreme Challenge – Race Recap

Race day was today, 2/6/16.  A local event sponsored and run by students of NC State, benefitting North Carolina Children’s Hospital.  This event has transformed over the course of a decade from a small event among ten friends, to a nationally recognized charity race.  Here are the details….

Running from the Belltower on the campus of North Carolina State (where my oldest son is a student), runners run 2.5 miles through Raleigh to the Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop on the corner of Peace and Person streets.  This is where the real fun begins!  Runners in the challenge then have to eat a dozen doughnuts before taking off and running another 2.5 miles back to campus.  Sounds like a real treat, doesn’t it?  Well, the glazed treats don’t feel like a treat when you’re trying to stuff your face with them.  This challenge all has to be completed in under an hour.

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This was my first time running this event, the 11th installment of the race, which has grown and grown over the years.  Believe it or not, there were almost 3,000 runners in the challenge, and over 3,500 in the casual division (which doesn’t include having to finish the 12 doughnuts).

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I met my son at the Belltower about a half hour before the race began.  The temperature was like 30 degees, so I decided since the race was only 5 miles long, I would wear running pants.  There were runners in every direction as we got ready.  The costume contest was a riot, and many runners took on the challenge.  I saw Dancing Bears, donut costumes of all kinds, Little Red Riding Hoods being chased by two guys wearing a Wolfpack costume, guys in speedos, you name it!

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Take a look at this unique costume!

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We lined up in a sea of nearly 7,000 runners.  We got fairly close to the front so the crowding wouldn’t be too bad.  It was a blast!  I hadn’t run in nearly a week, but I went out at a fairly good clip.  Mile 1 was done before I knew it.  You know, I’m so used to running long distance that I rarely run at the pace I was running today.  I zoomed through mile 1 at a pace of 7:16.  Some ups and down in mile 2, I ran that mile in 7:19.  As I got closer and closer to the half way point, I started fearing the doughnuts.  Pretty soon the doughnut shop came into view, and table after table were piled high with doughnut boxes.  Each runner was to grab a box, and consume the 12 doughnuts before getting back on the course.

I grabbed a box, and found my son in the parking lot to start eating.  He had already finished two doughnuts by the time I found him.  I found getting that first one down was a real struggle.  I mean, when was the last time you ran a fast paced mile or two, and then immediately tried to eat something?  I never have!  It was tough!  I was breathing so hard, my dry mouth I’m sure didn’t help.  I can’t tell you how difficult it is to try to eat those things at such a fast pace.  It wouldn’t be as bad if the doughnuts were nice a warm and melty like they are when you get them hot from the conveyor belt in the shop.  These doughnuts were cold from sitting outside in 30 degree weather, and were probably at least several hours old.  They were glazed stickiness but quite dry.

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That was just the beginning!  I had eleven more to go…..  A few doughnuts later, I started hating them.  It was so not easy!

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Half way there!  OMG!  It sucked!  I hated doughnuts so much now!  How would I ever be able to complete them?  I looked at my watch, I was already trying to choke these things down for almost 10 minutes.  I had to turn up the heat!  Get it done!  Eventually I was eating my last one, tossing the box in the trash and heading to the timing mat marking my completion of the eating portion of the race.  I hit the split at 30:45.  That meant I spent about 15 minutes eating.  It was awful.  I didn’t see a single person vomit though, which was a real surprise to me.

I knew that with a belly full of doughnuts, the run back would not be as fast, or as fun.  It felt like I was carrying a bowling ball in my stomach.  I felt so bloated and very uncomfortable.  Needless to say, my mile 3 which included the doughnut stop was damn near 20 minutes.  I ticked off mile 4 at 8:12 pace, and came to the finish without puking with a mile split of 8:13.  I had done it!  Survived the KK Challenge without barfing, even though I probably could have just after finishing.

Look how the timing clock has “Krispy” on it!  Hilarious!  My son finished well in front of me, but my official time was 49:43.  I beat the hour challenge!  I finished 337/2560 finishers in the Challenge.  Average pace (including doughnut stop) was 9:56.  Not bad!

It’s a very unique race, tons of fun, and thousands of people.  A great way to spend a Saturday morning, especially since the proceeds go to charity.  Since I cherish every small amount of time I get to spend with my college student son now, I really most enjoyed seeing him and spending the morning with him.  I don’t think I’ve seen him since Christmas, so it was a treat.  I am so lucky to be able to run a few races a year with him.  Thankfully his fondness for racing hasn’t diminished at all in the past few years.

Here is a look at my race shirt and medal.  (They don’t give medals to finishers)  you can actually buy a medal, with the proceeds going to charity.  Dylan and I raised $100 that went straight to the charity, so we actually earned a medal through our fundraising efforts.  The Krispy Kreme Challenge is a race to try at least once.  For me?  It’s a one and done type race.  It is a very unique race experience that everyone should try, but many probably do it just once.

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Major Announcement

Since becoming a marathoner almost 4 years ago, I knew I was destined to run this amazing 26.2 mile distance again and again.  All it took was that first race, that first finish line.  I wanted more, in fact I craved it.

Every runner has a path.  My path has been very exciting, all the while learning about myself, my body and how to run injury free.  The path hasn’t always been easy, and I’ve made mistakes along the way.  Who doesn’t?  The main thing to focus on is the process.  How to get yourself to the starting line, and how best to cross the finish line.  To date, I have now crossed the marathon finish line 23 times.  I am full of gratitude just thinking about that number.  Each race offers a unique runner experience, and in fact, over the next few months I will be hopefully adding another 4 marathon finishes to my repertoire.  Asheville, All American, Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh, and Herald of Victory all by the end of May.  How lucky am I?

My marathon journey affords me chances to challenge myself beyond my wildest imagination.  It really is no joke to set out on a 26.2 mile run.  For my ability to run, I am so thankful.  My journey also gives me chances to travel to places I may not have  gone otherwise.  For example, I’ve been to Chicago twice now in two years, both times to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  I’ve only been to NYC once now in the past 18 years, and why?  Yep, you guessed it, to run the TCS New York City Marathon.  Marathons get me places, take me places and sometimes even put me in my place.  I’ve been to Colordao once in my life.  Yes, to run a marathon.  I’ve been to Utah once, again, for a 26.2.  Where to next?  I’ve never been to Boston, but I want to go!  (I’m working on it!).

Amazing marathons exist all over the globe, and I hope to have the chance to travel abroad to many great races.  I recently entered the lottery to run the BMW Berlin Marathon this year, but didn’t get in.  I’ll keep trying.  Eventually I would love to run all six of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.  As my marathon journeys continue, so will my chances to get into the final four majors that I haven’t been so lucky or fortunate to run yet.  What’s left on the list?  Of course the coveted BAA Boston Marathon, but also the Virgin Money London Marathon, BMW Berlin Marathon, and Tokyo Marathon.  This list leads me to my Major Announcement…..  I have been named an Abbott World Marathon Major Ambassador!!!  Yes!  So excited to help spread the word of marathoning and working with this great organization.  I hope you’ll enjoy this journey with me.

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