Running New York

Someone once told me that selling a house and moving is one of the most stressful things in life to do.  I completely agree!  I have been in the the middle of this stress for the last three months.

After making the decision to go ahead with plans to sell the house (youngest graduating in a few weeks) and downsizing, a lot of work was in front of us.  We painted and updated almost every room in the house during spare time from work, projects taking just over two months.  Contractors taking care of things we couldn’t, mostly on the exterior and yard.  Going through everything in the house from top to bottom, organizing, packing, throwing things away, donating others.  Cleaning, staging, and finally listing the house.

We had an offer in 1 day!  1 day!

Now it’s go time!  I thought the tough work was done?  Oh no, there’s more to do.  Now to do final organizing, and packing everything else that hasn’t been packed.  The scheduling, finding a new place, yep, this is stressful.

I’ve only moved once since my college days.  Because I took a relocation opportunity with my employer at the time, the selling of the house, the packing, the moving, were all done for me.  Not true this time.  That was 17 years ago.  Fast forward to now, and not only am I much older, but much less forgiving.  This has been a very hard process!

I’ve been in my attic four out of the last six days, going through boxes, uncovering things I had forgotten all about.  I am tired!  I did uncover some true gems though….  like my High School letter jacket, old vinyl albums, tennis trophies from my younger days of competitive tennis, scrapbooks, and countless photo albums and pictures from a life that seems a lifetime ago.  Treasures really.  I found my class ring, and I found this, which I had no idea I actually saved.

Introducing, an artifact from 21 years ago.  My first race bib!

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I don’t remember that I ever kept it, that was the most surprising discovery of all the last few days.  My first ever race, back in 1995.  A race in Batavia, NY.  A 10k.  I have no idea what my finish time was, believe me, I’ve tried finding online results, they just don’t exist.  I just remember that day in July being scortchingly hot, and running my heart out til I almost collapsed.  I have the race shirt somewhere, too.  I just can’t find it, but one day I will.

This journey of packing up my life to move has really been eventful.  I’ve dusted off some old memories (even popping in a few Prince cassettes, yes cassettes, into the tape deck to listen to) while I worked at cleaning up my life in the house.  It’s now time to finalize my life here, where my kids grew up, and start a new journey.  It’s all bittersweet, but looking forward to this next step in life.

Once I finally have a permanent new home, that race bib will be the first one hung.  That bib signifies a running journey that began so long ago.  As the final days approach before my 27th marathon, having stolen a peek at where my running days began kind of brings this race full circle.  Even though my upcoming Herald of Victory Marathon in Binghamton, NY will be in a different city from my first foot race, it will still be in the same state where it all began for me.  Back on the streets of New York.

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Cyber Monday Race Deals

Who doesn’t love a deal?  My two favorite days of the year for scoring a race registration discount?  National Running Day, which takes place annually in June, and CYBER MONDAY!!!

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I am not a shopper, so Black Friday means nothing to me other than the best day of the year to avoid crowds.  But Cyber Monday, now, I can get into that!  Deals, specials, discounts on everything from carpeting to compression socks, Hi Res TV’s to running shoes, and best of all?  Race discounts!!

Many race directors take advantage of this special online buying day to offer up one-day-only deals off race registration.  It’s simply one of the best days of the year to sign up for your next race, your next marathon, your next destination race weekend.

So get ready!  I know of a few races that are planning big discounts.  Discounts too good to pass up!  So, keep your eyes on Facebook and Twitter come Monday, and get to Googling first thing in the morning scouring the internet for those deals!

Happy Cyber Shopping!

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Run the Quay 2015- Race Recap

The are a ton of “local” races in the triangle region where I live.  I mean a ton!  Huge, fun races like the City of Oaks Marathon, Tobacco Road Marathon and Half, Race 13.1 has a Summer and Fall Half, Bull City Race Fest, The Tarheel Ten Miler, Rock n Roll Raleigh, among so many others.

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This past Saturday however, me and the kids laced up for the ultimate in “local” races.  The 11th Annual Run the Quay 5k, 10k and 15 Quay Challenge.  It’s about as close to my house as any race could be without living on the race course itself.  A short three mile drive (if that) from the house, this twisty, turny and hilly race is almost in our back yard.

One of my sons and I are both in the promo picture above from the race last year.  I am wearing the purple shirt, and he is to the left of me in the red shirt. This year it was a family affair again.  We made the quick trip and picked up our shirts and bibs on Friday evening before heading home for pizza.  We relaxed that evening watching TV.  My older son worked both of his jobs that day, so he didn’t arrive back home until about 10:30 pm.

Last year I ran the 15 Quay Challenge (10k and 5k), and my younger son ran his first 10k.  This year I ran the 10k along with my older son, and my younger son ran the 5k.  You really can pick whatever distance you feel up to, and if you sign up early, like I did, it is a very cheap race to run.  I think I paid $28 for the 10k, and early sign up for the 5k was only $20.

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I really had not been looking forward to the race that much because the early forecast called for hot and humid conditions.  The past three weeks I have been training for pace, so I wanted a cool morning so that I could give last years finish time a run for the money.  With a mega challenging course, this 10k can give you fits.  I wanted to do well and beat my time from last year.  The photo above shows the course from last year.  This year the course was rerouted a bit, throwing in even more hills.  I couldn’t find a course map to post here, but believe me, it had just as many turns and ups and downs as last year if not more.

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The 10k started at 7am, and being so close to the house we didn’t even leave home until 6:25.  We lined up at 6:50 and were off right on time.  My son was instantly behind me within 20 seconds, and I would never see him again until the finish.  I clocked an impressive for me 6:58 first mile.  This meant gunning for my 48:25 finish time from last year was doable.

Body felt good, but the hills were relentless.  I know, I know, I should be used to it, but it’s easier said than done.  It was challenging.  Mile 2 was 7:19, followed by an 8 minute mile 3.  I was doing well, but not super like I wanted.  I kept at it though, and pounded the pavement happily.  It’s fun to race my towns event.  Mile 4 came and went at 8:04, a bit of a rebound on mile 5 with a 7:53.  Because of the numerous turns and crossovers along this route, I managed to see my younger son walking from the car to the start for his race four times. It was cool!  Nearing the finish, I knew that I was close to my goal.  It wasn’t meant to be though, as the final 3/4 mile is all uphill and just sucked the last bits of energy out of me.  Mile 6 was 8:05.  Pretty consistent all along the way, my final time was 48:48.  Missing last years time by 23 seconds.

After receiving my medal, I grabbed a water and waited for my older son to finish.  Younger son by my side, we watched him come into view.  I ran with him about 10 seconds up the hill nearing the finish to try to give him a boost.  He didn’t need me, as I faded quickly in his dust up the final .2.  Now we were done, and it was time for my youngest to get ready for the 5k which started at 8:30.

My official result was 28/211 overall and 7/28 in the 40-49 age group.  Not bad!

Colton took off right at 8:30, and knowing we could see him at least three times on the course we rushed down the road to see him at mile 1.3, back up to the next block to see him at mile 2.2 and then further up to see him at mile 3 and cheer him on to the finish.  Here are a couple of shots I took of him on his run.

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He finished in the top 10%, and was pretty pleased.  The 5k had over 650 finishers, which is pretty impressive for a small town race!  This is such a fun event, and continues to grow year after year.  I love running with my boys, it truly makes this event special to have them running along with me.

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The Fast & Furious 10K

Early on in my racing career I only ran short distance races.  I became a real sucker for the feeling of going all out, and competing.  As I grew in the sport of running I began a quest for more distance.  Those numerous 5k races were becoming a bit boring, so I searched out the next level.  The elusive 10k.

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I’m not sure about you, but the 10k distance is hard to come by.  A 10k race around here is few and far between.  Funny thing is, that back a few years ago when I was learning to run further, I would seek out 10k races.  If you can believe it, I even would travel to 10k’s.  Twice making a mini weekend at the beach (a two and a half hour drive away) to run a 10k race.  Another time I drove 4.5 hours down into South Carolina to run one.  Crazy!  I wouldn’t do that now.  Those 10k’s are still hard to find though.

My next race is local, and one of the few 10k’s in the area.  I haven’t run a race shorter than a Half Marathon in almost a year.  In fact, the 10k I have coming up is that same race.  With that being said, my training focus over the next few week turns to speed versus distance.  I’m so used to running 26.2 miles, that subtracting twenty miles out of that distance seems kinda cool.  Yes, 6.2 miles will be considerably easier than running a marathon, but I haven’t been running sub 8 minute miles in quite some time.  Focusing on speed is sort of foreign to me right now.

My last 10k in June of 2014 was run at a pace of 7:47 per mile.  A finish time of 48:25.  Pretty good, but far from my best.  See, I was also running a 5k race about 45 minutes after that 10k, so I wasn’t going full throttle.  This time I can.  My PR at the 10k distance goes way back to October of 2011.  I ran a 43:09 at the Hilton Head Island Bridge Run.  A speedy 6:56 pace!  Man, how did I do that?  Would love that result again in a few weeks, but I will settle for anything that beats my time from last year.

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My plan of attack…  Run three, four and five mile training runs focusing on speed.  It has been fun.  I have a few more weeks of training runs, so I should be ready.  My last 3.1 mile training run was a 7:58 pace, so I know come race day that I can pull in a better result.

How do you feel about the 10k distance?  Do you run them frequently?  Are they a hard to find race distance where you live?  Is it easy for you to switch gears, and race different distances?  I’m finding it tougher and tougher to find my old speed because I usually race longer distances now.  Any training tips you think might help me find that fast and furious speed?

Don’t call me a fucking jogger!

When did you become a runner?  That is a question that most people answer in different ways.  How does one define a runner?  I guess we must define a runner before we can answer the question of when we became one.

Just for fun I took a look at true definitions of the term “runner”, and the most amusing one, and perhaps most fitting was this….

Runner – Someone who runs at a decent pace, on all terrain, in all weather because they want to.

That was followed up by this…. “Not a fucking jogger, ok?”

As runners, we hate the word jogger.  Jogger implies slow, I guess.  Well, to me, it really doesn’t matter at what pace you run, but to be a runner we must actually be moving faster than a walk.  I think the term “jogger” implies a casual mover, one who doesn’t care about pace, and is just out there for exercise.

Let’s now define “Jogger”.  A jogger is someone who trots or runs at a slow or leisurely pace.  The main intention is to increase physical fitness with less stress on the body than from faster running.

Here is a jogger.  Casual, wearing a sweatband, and even sandals.

Here is a jogger. Casual, wearing a sweatband, and even sandals.

I do not trot.  Let’s get this straight.

I was a true runner a few times much earlier in my life, and actually ran a few races back in the 90’s and early 00’s.  I truly didn’t catch the running bug though until 2010.  In 2010, the month was August when I laced up and hit the road in hopes of starting a new revolution in my life.  I ran short distances, anything from a mile to two miles, probably four times a week.  While slowly developing some cardio vascular health, I found it got easier each time I ran.  So what did I do?  I ran more.  I gradually added distance, sometimes up to three miles, sometimes five to six times a week.  I didn’t even start tracking my runs until October 15th, 2010.

A funny thing started happening over the course of those first few months.  Competitiveness started kicking in.  I was getting good at this thing called running.  Nope, don’t call me a jogger, I am a runner!  Each time I would lace up, I started timing myself.  My goals started to change.  I wanted to get faster, and to get faster I needed to know how fast or slow I was running.  I picked a 5k loop in my neighborhood and ran it incessantly.  I recorded my times on paper for every single run.  I got faster.  I got fitter, and I got more competitive.  A jogger doesn’t care about pace, right?

Then I started to get bored with the same old route, the same distance, the same surroundings.  I decided to step it up.  To run further and faster.  I gradually added more miles, different routes and kept the same routines.  Running was my exercise, my joy.  This didn’t fade, and still hasn’t up to today.  It was early in 2011 that I decided I wanted to take on a real race.  A 5k is where I would test out my new found love of running.  That April I ran a 22:03 5k, won my age group and was like 11th overall.  Success!  It was not called a jogging race, it was a running race.  I was a runner!  What I was doing was working.  That race lit my competitive fire, and looking back at my training log, I started running longer distances on my next training run.  Two days after that 5k I ran 5 miles.  That 5 turned into 10k, and then even longer.

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My goals changed, and broadened.  I wanted to get faster, but I also wanted to run longer.  I started obsessing over races.  I wanted to prove myself a runner.  Racing was fun.  I ran several more 5k’s within weeks of that first one, and with my increased miles in training, my first 10k road race was in July.  It was at that race that I started dreaming of one day calling myself a half marathoner.  That goal would put me on the road more often, and for longer durations.

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I was loving it!  It didn’t let up.  Increasing my mileage was leading to better fitness, and by August I really was in great shape.  I signed up for a Half.  That September, I ran my first Half.  The Newport Liberty Half Marathon, in Jersey City, NJ.  It was amazing!  It was a big race, and I finished in 1:41:38.  I was truly hooked.  About a month later I really started contemplating running (not jogging) a marathon.  It was a daunting thought, but it was possible, right?  I had to really convince myself that I could do it.  After running that Half though, I knew down deep inside that I could run a Full marathon.

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I looked at training plans, I looked at races.  By December of that year I had run two more Halves, and was well on my way to running 26.2 for the first time.  Myrtle Beach would become my first marathon in 2012.  I smoked that course, too.  A finish of 3:33:24 was leaps and bounds above my expectations.  No, I am not the fastest runner out there, but this was a huge success for me.  After completing that marathon I truly considered myself a runner.  A real runner.  A marathoner!

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You see, to me, being a marathoner is a world away from the term jogger.  I do not casually run or trot twenty six point two miles.  I suppose I could, but I don’t.  I don’t judge those that do walk or jog a race, even distances up to a marathon, just don’t call me a jogger.

How do you feel about labels?  If you were referred to as a jogger would it bother you?  How would you define a “runner”. A “jogger”?

Run the Quay 10k & 5k – Race Recap

My hometown event.  Run local they say, and that is just what my 16 year old son and I did on Saturday morning.  After celebrating my older sons graduation from High School on Friday morning, it was a jam packed weekend.  We have only run this event one other time.  Three years ago we ran the 5k, which was the only distance offered for the first nine runnings of this race.  This being the 10 year anniversary of the event, they added both a 10k, and the 15 Quay Challenge (running both the 10k and 5k).

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I do love a challenge, so I signed up for the 15, and my son signed up for his first 10k.  Saturday morning came early, but I dropped by the Chamber of Commerce on Friday afternoon during packet pickup, so we were ready to roll.  We arrived about a half hour before the race start, such an easy 5 minute drive from the house.

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We both felt pretty good that morning.  Albeit a little tired, especially my son.  I actually ran the full “new” 10k course once in training just to familiarize myself with the course.  They described this course as hilly, challenging and full of turns.  30+ turns on the course exclusively run in historic downtown.  I wondered how many folks would miss turns and get lost on the course come race day.  I have to say, they did a great job keeping us on the right track. They color coded the miles, and had signs denoting turns as well as volunteers.  It was a great course, but tough.

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The gun went off.  The start is downhill which is part of the reason why my 5k PR of 20:45 in 2011 still stands today.  Going out strong, my son and I clocked the first mile in 6:56.  I didn’t want to tell him that so I kept quiet.  Right then though comes the first hills, and my son dropped back a bit.  He never caught back up to me, but was never that far behind.  We wound around the hilly and twisty turny course at a good clip.  Volunteers and signage made it easy to stay on course.  I concentrated on just enjoying the run.  I wasn’t trying to set any records, but did want to not have a personal worst.  I was shooting for sub 50 minutes, but knew I had the 5k directly afterward so wanted to leave a little gas in the tank for that.

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Me in purple shirt, son next to me in red.

There was a big crowd, and quite a few spectators all along the route.  The miles ticked by quickly.  Mile 3 then 4 then 5.  I knew the finish was uphill but tried to stay strong for the final push. I haven’t run a 10k race in almost two years, so of course I was surprised by how quickly it was over compared to a Half or Full marathon, which is pretty much all I’ve run the past two years.  I crossed the line in 48:25.  By far not my best, but also not my worst.  I was actually surprised that I finished as high in the standings as I did.  I finished 32/205 overall, and placed 8/32 in my age group.  This event is the only one I’ve ever run where the age groups are 10 years instead of 5.  As I’ve said before, and will continue to say, the 40-50 year old male age group is extremely competitive.  I would have placed higher in both the 20-30 and 30-40 age brackets.  Oh well.

I moved to the side of the street to start watching for my son.  Not long afterward, I saw my sons red shirt off in the distance.  He was chugging along nicely.  As he made his way up to the finish, the hill was taking its toll.  As he neared the finish, we cheered him on.  One guy, probably in his 40’s overtook him just before the finish, and I yelled out to my son “strong, finish strong”.  He turned up the heat, and passed that man and finished just in front of him.  Huffing and puffing, he was proud of his finish and so was I.  His first 10k, and he turned in a fantastic time on this difficult course.  Overall he finished 43/205, and WON his age group!!!  His time was 51:16.  Quite the honorable debut!

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My son with his first medal, and first running trophy for first place in Age Group!

As we celebrated his age group win, I had to remind myself that I had to run again.  The 10k started at 7am, and based on my finish time, I had about 40 minutes rest before the 5k began at 8:30am.  I drank an entire bottle of water without even really realizing it, and also ate a banana.  I hoped I wouldn’t cramp up during my second race.  My son stayed with family while I lined up for the 5k.  A lot more people in this event, the crowd was deep for a local event.  I wished I had brought a second race shirt, because I was still soaking wet from the 10k, but the gun went off and here we go.

Making my way on the 5k course I was familiar with, I felt good.  I wasn’t overdoing it though.  I wanted a respectable time.  The course is hilly like the other, but has a different route.  Ups and downs and some turns, I was hoping for a pace quicker than the first race.  That was my one and only goal.  Did I have enough left in the tank?  Turns out I did.  No cramping, either.  Legs were ok.  My son and friends were at the finish cheering me on as I ascended the finishing hill.  Chip time was 23:45.  Not great, but my goal was met.  A pace quicker than the 10k.  I finished 36/430 overall, and 7/41 in the 40-49 age group.

I felt good after running both races.  Not overly tired, but still have it a good effort.  My efforts that day led to an overall finish of 6th place in the 15 Quay Challenge.  There were only 28 people that opted to take the challenge of running both races.  So I guess sixth place isn’t too bad for this old timer.

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The Run the Quay Race Events is a great locally run event.  Plenty of food and water at the finish, they even had photographers there this year.  Will wait to see how those photos turn out.  More than likely horrible like most others.  We had a great time at the race, and will surely return to run it again next year.  The next race my son and I will run together will again be a new distance for him.  We are already signed up to race the City of Oaks Half Marathon in November.  Can’t wait, it’s always great to run with my kids.

Run your heart out! Today is our day!

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Happy Running Day to all of my readers!  Did you get out there and run?  Let’s face it, you don’t have to express your love for running just today.  I am taking the day off today so that I can run tomorrow.  Still recovering from my lackluster Half marathon on Sunday.  Still nursing the hamstrings.  I have back to back races in three days, so I am trying to do what my body needs to be able to perform at my best this weekend.

I really just wanted to wish you all happy running.  It doesn’t matter if you run today or not, or take advantage of race discounts today or not.  The true spirit of runners doesn’t just happen on one specific day of the year, it happens every day.  As long as you run happy, and run with your heart, our sport will be long lived.

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If nothing else, enjoy your running and run to inspire.