Bull City Half Marathon- Race Recap

This past Sunday I ran Bull City Race Fest again!  Third time in the four years the race has been running.  The only time I didn’t run it was a few years ago when I ran the Greensboro Marathon the day before.  Yes, I hated to miss it that year but I just couldn’t get myself out of bed at 4am after a marathon the day before.  My legs and energy were shot.  This year was another story.

Everything about this race is just awesome.  Tons of runners, nearly 6,000 every year running the Half, Five miler and 1 miler combined.  I was asked to be on the pace team again this year, one of my absolute favorite things to do.  Since I’ve been struggling a bit with my feet I decided to pace the 9:00 mile group.

I paced with with a great runner, Drew, who I hadn’t met at previous pace experiences at this race.  He was an awesome pace partner.  In 2013 I paced the 1:45:00 finish group, in 2015 I paced the 8:30 per mile group with my son, and now 2016 the 9:00 mile group.

Race morning was near perfection weather wise.  52 degrees, and just beautiful.  This race has always been ultra lucky with fantastic weather.  We lined up with our pace sign about 20 minutes prior to the gun.  As you can imagine, this group was loaded with folks wanting to beat the 2:00:00 Half finish.  I love a huge group of runners, especially on a hilly course.  Runners ebb and flow, and you get a chance to meet and talk with so many new faces along the way!

Our race was filled with ups and downs, as you would expect on the hills of Durham.  Such a great course though, giving runners a chance to see many parts of the city.  We kept a great consistent pace.  Constantly checking our progress, Drew and I maintained a pace of about 8:57 through the first half of the course.  As with most races, our timing devices were a little off from each other, and also the mile markers on course, but doing the extrapolations each mile, we were confident our pace was on target especially knowing how difficult and hilly the final miles are.

We ended up bringing tons of folks across the line with new PR’s, and many more just so happy to finish that tough race.  Pacing is always tough work.  My goals are different depending on each races expectations of how close to the target each pacer should be, and much to my surprise I came across the line with a perfect 1:58:00, 9:00 minute mile pace.  So difficult to nailed it perfectly, in fact I’ve never done it.  Most races expect a finish within a minute under goal time, but not over.  This one may go down in the books as the only perfect finish I’ll ever have.

It was a great day!  Finish festival with food trucks is always a bonus, especially when you can spread out and bask in the sun and also the glow of an awesome finish!  Thanks Bull City, and big thanks to Drew for pacing with me!  I shall return!

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Running through a Hurricane

It might not be the best idea, but sometimes you do what you have to do.  The number of posts I read about folks doing training runs this past week astounded me.  So many of us have marathons this Fall, but come on….  I think intentionally putting yourself in harms way getting that training run in during hurricane force winds and torrential rain is a bit over the top!

Yes folks, we endured the worst hurricane in a decade or more this past week.  Hurricane Matthew has left behind over 800 dead in Haiti alone.  Many mane more in the United States, as the storm moved its way up the east coast.  I didn’t lose power, didn’t have any flood damage, and was relatively unaffected here at home.  Seven inches of rain left behind will keep the grass green through Fall though.  There was a lot of flooding here in North Carolina though, including this area, but not in my immediate surroundings.  I was lucky.  So many were not as fortunate.  My heart goes out to all affected.  It will take months if not years for some areas to recover.

I, for one, did not feel the need to get training runs in during the horrible storm.  I figured my training for Marine Corps has been so horrible anyway, why add insult to possible injury?  My lead up to MCM in less than a month has been lackluster, at best.  I’ve been on the verge of injury for months now, so I’ve just been doing my best to stay in running shape.  Just to make it to the starting line.

Next up for me is a race that’s sort of been my “go-to” Halves each Fall.  The Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon is this Sunday.  Again I was invited onto the pace team, which will be my third time in the roll at this race.  I will be a pacer for the 9:00 minute mile group.  Putting us at the finish at 1:57:00.  A nice run through the streets of Durham.  Each successive year I have paced a slower time, and it’s really perfect for me this year, because honestly, I am just looking for a sub 4 finish at Marine Corps since my training has been so nonexistent.

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The weather is looking perfect for Sunday morning.  Mid 40’s at the start, and only up to the 60’s by noon.  The 9:00 group will be a perfect pace for me, not a big push at all, and hopefully not an injury inducing race.  With Marine Corps on October 30th, the time is nearing quickly.

One piece of bad news this morning, just as a side note….. I got the “We’re sorry to inform you but, you didn’t make it in through the lottery” email from the Virgin Money London Marathon this morning.  Sad news.  Absolutely no one I know got in.  I have not seen a single post on social media of someone getting in through the lottery. This leads me to ask the question “why have a lottery at all for London”?  If time qualifying and charity running is almost the only way possible to get in, just say so.  Don’t even hold a lottery.  It would have been my first trip abroad.  Oh well, move past it.  As an ambassador for the Abbott World Marathon Majors, it would have been really nice to add my third of the Big 6 to my list of marathon completions, but this is not to be for 2017.  Best of luck to all running next year!

 

Bull City Race Fest 2015- Race Recap

The Bull City Race Fest is an amazing event, and was held for the third time in Durham, NC, on October 18, 2015.  The event includes a 1 mile, 5 mile, and signature Half marathon distance race.  It is truly an amazing event, that has gained popularity each year.

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This race has it all!  It is very family friendly, and one that I would recommend to any runner looking for a world class running experience.  Everything from the ease of packet pick up and expo, to the post race food truck rodeo and relaxing finisher village.  The highlight though in my eyes, is the race itself.  The course, with all of its hilly challenges, is both scenic and exciting.

This race was both a recovery run from my Chicago Marathon a week ago, and my final longish training run for the New York City Marathon just 12 days away.  The perfect way to run this race for me was to be a pacer!  The opportunity to pace it didn’t come until just a few days before the race itself.  I quickly jumped on it, and signed up my son to pace, as well.  This would be his first time pacing, and probably around my 10th time pacing a Half.  The best part?  Pacing together as Dad and Son.  In the same pace group, pacing the 8:30 (or finish time of 1:51:25).  Two years ago I paced the 1:45:00 finish group, so I knew the challenge of the course, and knew that we could both easily handle the job.

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Race morning went off without a hitch.  Parking was easy and we made it to the starting line for some pre-race photos with the pace team members at 6:50am.  The race was to begin at 7:30, so we had a chance to stretch and use the bathroom and get lined up with our fellow 8:30 pacers in plenty of time.  A cold front had come through our area overnight, and we had unusually cold temperatures for race morning.  It was like 36 degrees, so we tried to stay warm until the start.  It had been so long since running in temperatures like this it was kind of exciting.  When the sun rose, the sky was cloudless and blue.  It was going to be fun!

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The Half Marathon had over 2,200 people running and it was obvious when we all began lining up.  It was a sea of runners both in front of us and behind us.  I think we had 6 pacers in our group alone.  We talked some strategy on how we would pace the group right up until the gun went off.  With a challenging course like this one with all of its hills, I knew I wanted to be a few seconds ahead of target pace.  The final few hills can be PR killers, so staying one or two second ahead throughout the race would leave us in good standing for the final mile.

The first few miles are crowded, and run through downtown Durham.  You get a taste of the hills right from the start.  We nailed our target pace though right from the start.  We talked a lot with the group, but it was also obvious right from the start that we would be pacing about 40-50 people and we were all spread out.  I think the most exciting thing for me was how into it my son was.  He has a few trepidations about pacing when we first talked about it, but after I convinced him that he had everything it took to be a fantastic pacer, he really warmed up to it.  He was very excited!  I told him to stick as close to me as possible, but the excitement of the race had him out in front of me a ways quite often.

The course continues on trough Trinity Park, and Duke Campus, hills abound.  With every uphill though comes downhills, and it’s a really nicely varying race.  Occasionally there were neat signs along the course, and chalk drawings and encouragements on the road.  Our group waxed and waned, but our pace was right on the mark.  It was such an enjoyable run.  Offering words of encouragement to runners as they passed me, or encouraging every runner up the numerous hills.  The weather was so cooperative that I never felt like I needed to stop for hydration along the course.  I did, however use my GU’s at miles 5 and 10.

As the final mile approached and we were nearing the finish I started turning and running backwards to encourage runners behind me to push hard and pass me.  My son and I met up side by side with about a half mile remaining.  I wanted to be as close to the target of 8:30 as possible without going over so I ran backwards for pretty much the majority of the final tenth of a mile.  I have so much fun getting those racers to the finish!  Pacing is a truly awesome way to pay it forward.

I crossed the finish line in 1:51:14.  Eleven seconds under our pace goal.  Perfect!  My son finished about 45 seconds under the goal, so we were both within a minute under.  After the finish we were stopped numerous times and thanked for our pacing efforts.  I know several runners even had personal bests on that tough course, so it’s super satisfying to me.

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The post race village is amazing, and absolutely packed with runners and families.  Food trucks all over, lots of refreshments and food.  It was the perfect day for relaxing and relishing in a victory of the course.  Durham is such a fun happening city.  Relaxing on the lawn in front of the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) was so much easier after we ran back to the car to change out of wet shirts and grab a jacket.  It was chilly!  Well, it felt down right cold to me.  A few more photos on the lawn to commemorate our accomplishment, and a visit to the Baguettaboutit Food Truck before we called it a day and headed home.  Don’t ask me how, but I knew about ten people racing that day and managed to not bump into any of them after the race.  A bit of a disappointment, but there will be other races to meet up.  I had the best time with my son pacing that day.  I only hope the opportunity comes up again sometime.