Tarheel 10 Miler 2016- Race Recap

Now a few weeks past, I have just a few minutes to try to recapture some thoughts and moments from my second running of a huge Triangle event.  The Tarheel 10 Miler and 4 Miler were run on the beautiful (and difficult) Chapel Hill streets on April 23rd, 2016.

An event that draws thousands of runners every year, we converged on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill bright and early that Saturday morning.  For me, it’s about a 50 minute drive, which means I left the house before 6am.  I think I was parking about 6:30, for a meet up with my son, and eventual meetup time with the pacers at 7:15.  Everything about the morning was smooth, except for the temperatures.  It was a bit warm.  Anytime you schedule a race later than mid May around here, it’s a complete crap shoot as to the weather.  It could be 50, it could be 70.  We were flirting with race day temperatures just a tad too warm.

We met at the iconic Belltower on campus for photos and quick meeting.  My first time pacing this event, but have paced two other races (both Bull City) for this team.  With a new race course, which promised more of a flatter run, and the dreaded 1 mile uphill climb near the finish, I didn’t notice much about the new course that made it easier.  In fact, I ran it faster two years ago.  Laurel Hill is the finishing challenge, and after fighting the warmth of the day, and mile markers which were all over the place, I had very little gas left in the tank for that mile long uphill climb.

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There were three of us pacing the 8:00 per mile group, including my son and another guy who I hadn’t met previously.  Right from the start it was painfully clear that our Garmins and the mile markers would make this a difficult race to pace.  Side note: please, mile markers need to be carefully mapped and placed on courses in the correct spots!  We were off by almost a quarter of a mile as we reached Mile 1!  No excuses for that.  It left us wondering, and confused.  We had no choice but to follow our Garmin pace, because after asking several runners during the race, everyone’s timing devices were all over the place.  Needless to say it made for a challenging race.  We made ok time, but often us pacers were not even together, what to rely on?  Course markers?  Garmins?  We did our best.  That dreaded hill at the finish nailed all of our coffins, and each of us were just slightly over 8 minute pace.  It really couldn’t be helped.  Funny, too, that I ran the race 4 minutes or so faster a few years back.

It was still really enjoyable though, and I always love pacing, and the interaction with runners.  We had a good race.  The only other negative I had for the new finish area was that once you  left the finisher chute, there was no access that I saw to additional water.  If I had known that, I would have brought a drop bag with a few bottles of water in it.

According to the website, there were 4,010 finishers in the 10 Miler.  That’s a big race! My finish put me in the top 16%.  Not sure if I could have done better on the day if I hadn’t been pacing because the weather may have impacted my speed.  It was just too warm and sunny.  The Tarheel 10 & 4 Miler is a very successful and huge event in Chapel Hill, and you should try it one day!  UNC is a beautiful campus!  They have pretty nice swag, too for finishing!

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26 Glorious 26.2’s

For those of you who have been keeping track (and this probably includes only me), the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon on April 10th was my 26th full marathon.  I’ve considered myself a bit OCD when it comes to numbers, so this one was a big deal!  Don’t you have a favorite number?  A lucky number?  Numbers that y don’t care for or feel odd about?  Back several years ago my phone number included my birth date, my age and my sons age.  Of course that only lasted a year or so, but funny stuff with numbers is kinda cool to me.  They call an affection for numbers like this arithmomania.  I definitely have that when it comes to my most recent marathon!

Twenty-six twenty-six point twos.  Yep, most runners will never hit that mark.  I mean, if you consider that less than 1% of the worlds population has ever completed one marathon, what must the percentage be for someone running 26 of them?  A numerologist would have all sorts of fun figuring the statistics on people who run say more than 1, or more than 5.  More than 10, more than 25, or even higher.  It’s a crazy number that I hope will only continue upward for me.  Let’s hope the body continues to hold up!

So yeah, my “double weekend”, including the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5k, which was my last blog post almost three weeks ago, was followed up by the marathon the next day.  This was another race that I’m proud to have been running with my son.  He ran the Half, to a blistering new PR, and although the course was extremely difficult, I managed a sub 4 finish.

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Weather was pure perfection that day.  Unusually cold at the start, followed by tons and tons of sunshine and a gradual warm up.  A course that winds its way all over Raleigh up and down hills past historic cemeteries, buildings and monuments.  Past several colleges, and local landmarks, this race is really a feast for your eyes.  My first half was really good considering the hills.  I went out at a pace just over 8:00 minutes per mile, and maintained a sub 8:35 pace until a tough spot at mile 10.

Considering the fact that I had just run a marathon a week prior, I was feeling pretty good.  As the marathon and half courses split, that section through Meredith College was a big challenge.  Not for the faint of heart.  Or legs for that matter.  It’s a true test, but also rewarded with a downhill as runners head back toward NC State.  Even though my son is a student at State, there were parts of the course on the campus that I had never seen, and it was truly beautiful.  Centennial campus was just a really great part of the course!

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Now, what follows on Avent Ferry Road was another true test of grit!  I believe for me, this was the beginning of the end for my speed.  I eeked it out, but man was it tough.  I didn’t have a ton of expectations for a finish time that day, I pretty much just wanted to finish in one piece.  My legs were already tired from a disastrous marathon seven days prior at All American.  You remember, my worst marathon finish ever.  I really only wanted to go sub 4 in Raleigh.

My pace and legs were wrecked by the time I hit Lake Johnson in Raleigh, but the views and quiet of running around the lake for the first time gave me some positive enregy for the final six miles of the race.  Just look at this picture I took.  Pure running serenity!

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Time to head back northwest to the city, the course was pretty unforgiving.  With the exception of mile 22, where I had a burst of energy, and managed an 8:51 pace, each of my last six miles were over 10 minutes per mile.  I was beat!  I was looking forward to seeing my family at the finish.  Once I finally crested the ridiculous Boylan Avenue hill, I turned east and on into the city for the finish.  My younger son was waiting for me about 3/10 of a mile before the finish.  He surprised me, and I asked he join me and run me in to the finish.  He gladly accepted, although he wasn’t dressed for it at all. 🙂

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Thanks to that final bit of energy he gave me, I gave it all I had and crossed the line in 3:59:05.  Two marathons in seven days, I’ve barely run since.  I was rewarded however with a nice marathon medal, and finish jacket.  I also received the “Remix” medal for completing both races during the weekend of events.  Although this marathon course will never be listed or described as flat, or easy, it’s always a joy to run the streets of Raleigh, my states Capitol.

I finished 30th in my AG, and 246th overall out of nearly a thousand finishers.  Top 25 percent, I’ll take it.  I hope to return to this race next year and give it another go.  I surely recommend it!

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh 5k Recap

April 9th I participated in the inaugural 5k for Rock ‘n’ Roll’s visit to Raleigh.  A great way to reach out to more runners is to include an additional distance, and boy did it work!  Running two events during the weekend also awarded each runner with an additional medal.  The Remix medal.  Since I was running the marathon on Sunday, I went into this race really as just a final tune up run.  I wasn’t giving it my all, in other words.  It was a fun event.

Since becoming a distance runner, I haven’t competed in many 5k’s in the past few years.  In fact, this would be my first 5k in almost two years.  I was seeded in corral 1, on the beautiful Dorthea Dix campus.  A rolling course taking us through paths, trails and roads around campus.  I can honestly say that it felt like it ended about two minutes after it started.  Much fanfare set us off on the course on a beautifully cool morning full of sunshine.  I felt pretty loose from the get go, and went out at a decent pace, but nothing too strenuous.  Since they were releasing corrals every minute, it was never congested at all.  I was running freely, but not overdoing it.  It actually felt a bit slow, but knowing I was running under an 8 minute mile pace, I was good with that.  Quite honestly, it felt a little weird to be holding back some, as this is not how I usually race.  Especially short distances.  I didn’t want to risk hurting myself or over exerting the day before a marathon, so I just went with the flow.

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Up the hills, down the hills… soon enough the finish line came into view.  I clocked a 24:01.  I was good with that all things considered.  Not nearly my best on a 5k course, which is 20:44, but good on the day.  I walked away feeling good and warmed up for the marathon the following day.  I was actually quite surprised later that evening when the results were posted.

85/1697 Overall

7/73 Age Group

70/591 Males

That’s a top 5% finish, and I wasn’t even trying.  Ok, not trying to brag.  Enough said.  It was fun to race a 5k again, it had been too long.  Next post, marathon day.

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All American Marathon 2016- Race Recap

4/3-  The All American Marathon was my 25th Full.  I’m going to take a departure from my normal race review due to time restrictions, and the realization that lately I just don’t have the time or energy to sit down and focus on a full account.  I haven’t had the desire to blog as much lately, leaving me sort of at odds with how best to review my races, and share information that may be helpful to others in choosing events.  I’ll just let my fingers do the typing and see where it leads……

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I’ve raced the All Amercican Full all three years of its existence.  It’s such a fun and inspirational event, growing in numbers every year.  I’ve had a close affiliation with the race, this year taking the lead in the final month for the pace team.

I worked the pacer table at the expo the day before the race, meeting tons of enthusiastic runners.  It was a chance to meet folks on the pacer team, and talk all things running related including the course, best spectator viewing spots, course elevation, etc…  It was a lot of fun to be involved in this way.

Race morning came, my son and I took off early from the house for the 45 minute drive to Fayetteville.  He was pacing the 2:00 Half, me the 4:00 Full.  The best part about this?  Since we were pacing the same time, we could run side by side for nearly 10 miles until the courses split!  Race day weather would introduce a new challenge for me, and others.  Temperatures were great, but it was very, very windy.  I’ve run in the absolute bitterness of 8 degrees at the Asheville Marathon, near 80 degree temps at Rock n Roll Raleigh, rain in Hilton Head and Asheville Fulls, some wind in Charleston, but this wind was different.  Headwinds of 20mph, mostly sustained, with gusts up to 30 mph.  It wasn’t until we were about 6-7 miles into the race that I really understood how difficult this day would be.

Dylan and I enjoyed our time together, perfectly pacing 10 miles through Fayettevile, onto the All American Freeway and on into Ft. Bragg.  Here are some awesome photos from someone overhead on one of the overpasses.

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We are in green!

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I realized as the courses split, that this day was going to test everything I had.  It would take every ounce of energy I could muster just to cross the finish line.  Turning onto Ft. Bragg, the winds got even worse.  Knowing the course, I was yearning to hit Pope Airfield, where I knew we would turn, and hopefully (finally) get to take advantage of tailwinds.  Just as he turn came, the winds died down, and with it my spirit.  I had never worked this hard to maintain pace.  I knew in my heart without a bit of help in my favor from the wind, the extra effort already expended would kill my race.  So, let’s add mega wind to my list of hates for race day weather.  The wind killed the races of about 300 runners that day in the marathon, as the list of runners that started the race but didn’t finish it, was immense.  More than I had ever seen.

By mile 20 I wanted to walk off the course.  I’ve never done this, but I wanted to.  I had absolutely nothing left in the tank.  All of my energy was drained from fighting the wind, and then it picked back up.  More headwinds….  Really?  Unbelievable.  How can I pace this, when it was really just a death march to the finish?  I was going to finish, but didn’t want to throw any runners off as far as pace, so although disappointed, took off my pacing shirt and ditched my pacing sign.  I was in the race still, but only for me.  Only to finish.

I have never felt so drained in my entire life, but I did eventually finish.  My marathon #25 now barely completed, and now my personal worst marathon finish.  BUT….I finished.  I was embarrassed, and disheartened by my performance.  I could barely stand, and felt like I could pass out of pure exhaustion any moment.  Luckily my son was there to lend assistance if needed.  It took me about 20 minutes to feel recovered enough to take the slow walk to the shuttle, and back to the car.  The weather defeated my pace goal that day, but didn’t defeat my finish.  I finished my quarter century marathon that day in a dismal 4:17:34.  My worst by 4 minutes over the Outer Banks Marathon a few years ago.

Over a week has passed since this event, and my time to reflect has left me with this thought.  I pushed through the conditions, and finished a marathon.  A friggin marathon.  Sometimes I take for granted just how difficult running a marathon is even in perfect conditions.  On that day, the weather was not perfect, my performance was not perfect.  Who cares!  I FINISHED!

Marathon 25 – 5 days away!

When I sit back and think about it, I am truly astonished!

The Quarter Century mark!  I know there are people out there who have run hundreds of marathons.  You know, those 100 marathon clubs, and such.  Well, with my marathon this weekend, I feel like I am really hitting a pretty significant milestone.

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The All American Marathon this Sunday will be my 25th marathon.  What began as a simple quest, pushing myself further than I ever thought possible, has turned into quite the passion.  It all began in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 2012.  My first marathon.  Races, places, I’ve been a few places since that first one.  My journey has taken me to 8 different states.  Of course I’ve run the majority of my marathons in my home state of North Carolina, but I’ve ventured out a few times.  ;). Tackling America’s Toughest Road Marathon in Virginia, enjoying plentiful neon at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas marathon in Nevada, running past Moose at Big Cottonwood in Utah, being cheered on twice by millions of spectators in Illinois at the infamous Bank of America Chicago Marathon, running high up in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and most recently taking a running bite out of the Big Apple at the TCS New York City Marathon.  Many, many more inbetween.

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Yes, the journey continues.  Still loving it, still competing, and doing more pacing.  I’m not shooting for the elusive Boston Qualifier this weekend, I am pacing instead.  I will lead the 4:00:00 group to a fun finish for my 25th this Sunday.  I’m getting very excited!  The All American Marathon this Sunday is a milestone to celebrate for me.  It also kicks off a new chapter.  Where will the next 25 take me?  The possibilities are endless!  Cheers!

My Asheville Marathon Results ~ Spoiler Alert

We are not going to talk about my curious absence from blogging this past month.  I just haven’t had enough time on my hands.  There is a ton to recap about each of the individual races I paced last weekend in Asheville, but I just don’t have the time right now to do a recap justice.  I guess we’ll settle for snippets, and results…..

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Btw…I am still trying to gather pictures from the event, which I have to search for and grab/copy before my long recap posts.  But, isn’t this an awesome picture of the Biltmore Estate from a cool spot on the race course?

I had an awesome weekend in Asheville participating in the Backyard to Vineyard Challenge.  What is that, you ask?  Well, this year the race doubled down, and held the events on two consecutive days.  The Half Marathon on Saturday, and the Full Marathon on Sunday.  I ran both!  I paced both!

This weekend was all about having fun, and running my heart out.  Giving back to my fellow runners by pacing them to a specific time goal.  For the Half, I paced the 2:00:00 finish group.  A very popular group, containing all of those runners out there trying to get the sub 2.  The weather was perfect, maybe just a tad on the warm side, but me and my pacing partner Louis brought those runners in at 1:59:23.  Just under the mark!

I then refueled, and spent five hours working an expo table for the marathon the following day.  All the while chatting up marathon runners, taking gulps of Gatorade along the way.  Yes, I had a chair, which I requested!  After having run the Half, and having another 26.2 miles the following day, I needed to be off my feet.

Marathon Sunday came so very quickly.  Back at it, I felt good.  I was pacing the 4:00:00 group for the marathon, and the weather?  Not so good.  It started raining about 20 minutes before the race began, and would rain intermittently for the entire race.  I don’t often run in the rain so it was an interesting twist.  Pace the hills for 26.2 miles, in the rain, and mud.  All after having run a Half the day before.  I felt good though, and knew I could manage it.  About 10 miles into the race, my pacing partner Andrea fell off the pace.  Now alone on dirt and rock trails, I had to dig in.  Climbing, climbing, the often washed over mile 11-12 was grueling.  I maintained pace somehow without a helper, and in the quiet.  Runners around me, but no one with me.  I carried on…..

Mile 12 is when she appeared.  A 23 year old medical student from Iowa.  Payton was her name, and she was my angel.  She sidled up to my left side, and said, “I want to break 4:00:00 today, so I am going to run with you to the end!”  I desparately needed the company, so welcomed her with open arms.  We traversed the difficult trails on the backside of the Biltmore Estate through the vineyards, past historic barns, up and down, through the rain, the mud and muck.  Payton kept me honest.  We both almost fell a few times due to slick muddy spots, but I kept on pace.  On pace!  13, 14, 15, the miles we left behind….

We stayed together up to mile 23 when she began to fade just a bit.  I willed her to keep up, She just couldn’t.  She silently started lagging further and further behind me.  I had to keep going however.  I had a schedule to keep.  I had a date with the finish line and would carry whoever I could to cross with me or in front of me.  The rain ebbed and flowed, but my shoes kept moving forward.  3:59:32 was my magic number on the day.  Made it perfectly to the end, urging runners to beat the clock.  It was a magically wet marathon, one I will remember forever.  I absolutely loved it.  Both days!

39.3 miles, two epic days at the Biltmore.  Two spot on pacing days, to boot.  One day sunny, one day rainy.  Perfect!  More details and pictures to come, including why I love pacing, and more on Payton.  :). Happy running!

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Times… They are a-changin’

One constant I have in my life is running, but everything else seems to be changing and moving at a fast pace these days.  I’m getting older, and sometimes that really bothers me.  I’ll be 46 in a little over a month, and that’s closer to 50 than 40.  What’s happening?

Time just seems to be slipping by.  My oldest son is just a few months away from graduating High School, and moving on.  It scares me a bit.  What’s a bright and wonderful lifetime ahead of him, means leaving the nest.  For me?  I am experiencing some sadness and loneliness already, and he’s not even gone yet.  I’m sure this is normal, but I have not adjusted in my head yet what my new normal will be.

The decision was made a few weeks back to sell the house, and move closer to work.  I’ve been busy decluttering, donating to charity, and sprucing up what needs to be presented well when the house goes on the market.  Hoping to be ready in about 4-6 weeks.  Organizing, painting, fixing that stuff that should have been already fixed.  I got comfortable, and let go of the proactive when it comes to the house years ago.  I’m paying for it now.  So, when I’m not at work, or out on a run, I am busy in the house.

It’s a major change.  The next few months are not going to be easy, but times, they are a changing.

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I have to come to terms with change.  I’ve had a kid in the house for the last 20 years.  Soon, this will be over.  Time to move onward and upward.  I just have to work my way through this, and embrace the change.  I moved to my current house almost 17 years ago, this too, will be a tough transition.  Leaving a house, for an apartment or townhome.  Different space, different surroundings.  I need to look at it with zeal, change can be good.

Luckily I have my health, and feel good.  I need to look at a move as a change of scenery.  New things to explore, new paths to run.  New faces.  Ok, I’ve given myself a pep talk for the day, now I have to get back to painting.  This house isn’t going to spruce itself up.  Down to the nitty gritty.

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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?

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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