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.

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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National Running Day Discounts

If you are anything like me, you look forward to this day!  Not just to celebrate all things running, but for the various discounts that can be found on races.

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For me, I celebrate running everyday.  It really has transformed my life.  It has given me so many things…

A way to stay fit.  Time to myself.  Goals.  Health benefits.  Reasons to travel.  Reasons to make new friends.  So many things….

Running has taught me patience, and understanding.  I has taught me how to breathe and relax.  It has taught me how to push myself further than I ever thought possible.  Running has given me a real zest for life.

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Why do you run?  Fill in the blank!  And don’t just say you run for the bling.  Running is way bigger than just a medal.

Pacing to BQ

So the days of Spring are long gone, and so are the days of being lazy, cooped up and on the couch by 7:30pm.  Summer is here, and a new strategy for fitness and speed has hatched.

Summer is always an interesting season for me running wise.  It’s usually too hot for distance training, but the abundant daylight offers so many more chances for the runs I like to do.  Runs during the evening!  Typically I hate running in the dark, as it is very unmotivating to me.  This time of year I can afford to come home from work, relax for a few hours, and then head out for a run.  It makes me happy to be able to do that.  I hate feeling rushed, and feeling like I need to get in my runs when I am not mentally or physically prepared for them.

Almost four weeks have passed since my last marathon, and I have been busy preparing for what’s next.  I took a week off first of all, and really let my muscles recharge.  I intentionally signed up for a local 10k in the beginning of June so that I would have to start doing some shorter, faster runs to prepare for it.  If you’re anything like me, distance training can become monotonous.  I get into ruts, and feel like I can’t improve my speed. It’s always a given that I race faster than I train, but this idea I had is twofold, and hatched almost three weeks ago.

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I was going to train for speed.  Focus on pace, and improving my focus.  My eighth run is today, and the seven runs at the beginning of this plan are leading me in the right direction.  I am trying to mix speed work, with endurance to try to achieve a BQ.  I have been shooting for 8 minute miles, and for me, it has been fun, but not easy.  You see, my normal training runs are on some hills, and I usually end up with an overall pace of somewhere in the 8:40 range.  For this plan I tried to choose the flattest route (it’s not flat) that I could to work on speed.  The first mile is always my slowest, no matter how hard I try.  But my results are becoming more what I need to see to possibly make my dream of a BQ come to fruition.

On 5/13 I paced 7:59 for a 5k.  On 5/15 I paced 7:59 at 3.25 miles.  I slipped a bit on 5/17 with am 8:12 for 3.25 miles, but I had worked all day on my feet and was tired.  On 5/18 I yearned for hills, so mixed those in and ended up at an 8:43 pace for 3.5 miles.  Then, super speedy day on 5/20 with 3.5 miles at 7:51 pace.  Two more runs of 4 and 3.5 miles right near 8:00, and I am pleased with how I am doing.  I will push myself hard on 6/6 during the 10k.  I want to see what’s possible, but with like 20+ turns on a challenging course, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Until then, I will keep pushing the pace envelope.  After the race, my focus will be pushing the pace during training runs down to 7:45. I need a pace of 7:49 over the full course of a marathon to BQ, so training for it will be crucial .  The best I’ve done in a marathon thus far is 8:06 pace.  I’ve got work to do!

I will have six weeks after the 10k to be ready for my marathon.  Like I said, I have my work cut out for me, but without a challenge I become complacent, and I do not want that!  I’ve got to see what I am capable of.  Wish me luck!

What are your favorite training go-to’s for increasing speed?  Pleas share!  Happy training yawl!

No PR, No BQ, No Big Deal. Run Happy!

Could this old guy be slowing down?  Well, lately I’ve felt like my fastest running days are over.  Does it have to do with age, or does it have to do with guts and determination?

I turned my focus this past week on speed work.  Running distance in this heat (91 degrees right now), can be very daunting.  So, a nice change to my training has been shorter distances, and speed work.  I’m testing myself, to see if this aging guy still has what it takes to pull a PR at any distance.

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My immediate attention is on a 10k in a few weeks.  I am not gunning for a PR because it’s just not that important to me right now.  I haven’t PR’d the distance in a few years, but I don’t run 10k’s often at all.  But the distant focus is on a pair of races this Summer.  I’ll still go all out like I want a PR, that’s just my nature.

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I have decided that even though I am going to give it my best shot at the Rockies Marathon on July 19th and go for a PR, with high hopes for a BQ, that I will also run the day before.  A Half.

Too crazy not to try something I have never done.  Only once have I run back to back races.  Last Summer I ran a 10k and then a 5k 45 minutes later the same morning.  It was a 15k challenge which I gladly signed up for.  So, I’ve done that sort of race double, but nothing close to what I will attempt in July.

So, I am signed up for the Aspen Valley Half Marathon on July 18th.  I will be a pacer, and hopefully get in a nice much slower than normal pace for me type of warm up.  The warm up is for the next day, running the Full Marathon.  Going for my BQ.  Will I achieve that BQ?  Who knows, but I don’t think I really want to skip the challenge of back to back distance events like this opportunity presents.

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There will be so many opportunities to get my BQ, that I think I am loosening the reigns on the BQ wagon this Summer.  I would rather have a fun challenge of back to back races in two beautiful locations, than pinning all my hopes on one BQ race.  Sure, I am still going to give it my all, but if it doesn’t happen at least I won’t regret passing up on the second race to solely focus on the BQ.  Boston is not everything.  Sure, would I love to go and run Boston one day?  Absolutely!  But at least for now, it’s not the end all be all goal.

I had to do some soul searching of late, and figured out that I run because it makes me happy, makes me feel good.  I run for the health benefits, and for the mind and soul cleansing it provides me.  I run for the beauty around me.  I think if I run solely with a BQ in mind, that I lose many of the reasons why I run in the first place.  I don’t need all the pressure, running is supposed to relieve that.  If I happen to have the race of my life and qualify, then of course I will be thrilled.  If it doesn’t, I don’t want to be heart broken and full of regret.  If I run a 3:24:59 I will be ecstatic, but if I run a 3:50:00, I want to be happy for the experience of it all.

So that’s it!  I’m running a Half, then a a Full the next day.  I will give it my all, I will enjoy and revel in both.  It’s a pretty big challenge, but one I am happy about.  Have you ever tried a crazy running challenge?  Back to back races?  Back to back to back races?  I’d love to hear about your experiences.  Please share!

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”?

City of Oaks Rex Healthcare Half Marathon – Race Recap

I had the most incredible day yesterday at one of our local races.  The Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon and Rex Healthcare Half Marathon is an extremely popular and well attended race here in central North Carolina.  The Old Reliable 10k is also run, and is just as popular.

Huge medal with a spinning acorn in the center.

Huge medal with a spinning acorn in the center.

I ran the Half with both of my sons.  For me, this race was my 24th Half Marathon.  For my 18 year old son, his 3rd Half.  For my 16 year old son, his FIRST!  So, yeah, it was a pretty big day for all of us.  I had been looking forward to this race for months and months.  I actually signed up when registration opened many months ago.  Back then, February, my older son had just run his first Half.  Due to sibling rivalry, my younger son who was 15 at the time went out a few days after that race and ran 13.1 miles.  Why?  His brother had just done it, and he wanted to prove that he could do it, too.  I asked him if he would ever want to run a race at the distance, to which he responded, of course.  I signed him up just before his Birthday in April.  He would have over six months to wait, and train.  My older son decided a few months later that he wanted to run it, as well.

With varying degrees of training, as the race neared we were all excited.  I am a very lucky man.  To run a Half Marathon with both of my sons was going to be epic!  I wasn’t able to even attend the race expo this year because I worked both days.  My oldest, who is a student at NC State, location of the race expo, picked up all of our race bags.

So, with all of our stuff laid out for race morning we hit the hay on Saturday night.  Colton and I woke up early on Sunday, but the drive to the race is not really that far.  Just 20 miles to a parking lot at nearby Cameron Village.  We were to meet up with my son Dylan at 6:30am at the NC State Belltower.  The weather here in NC had just taken a turn this week.  With a cold front coming out of Canada, our race morning was extremely chilly.  And windy!  Race morning temps in the mid 30’s, rising to near 50 for a high.  The wind made it feel bone chilling at times, but it really was to be great conditions overall for a race.

We met up at 6:30, for the 7am start.

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All three of us warmed up, stretched and talked about our goals for the race.  I was aiming for a sub 1:45, Dylan and Colton both wanted to go sub 2.  I knew Dylan could do it, as both of his previous Halves were sub 2, but Colton would be the wildcard.  He is a dedicated sportsman, and stubborn like myself, I trusted that he would finish.  Due to his soccer season at school though, he just didn’t properly train, and because of that I just didn’t know what to expect from him.  As any runners knows, proper training is key, and race day can bring a wide range of results.  I was excited for all of us.

At about 6:45 the three of us made up way into the starting chute.  We decided that we would start together near the 1:45:00 pacer, and just see what happened once the race began.  Part of me was calm and content.  The part of me that was just going to enjoy the experience of running with my kids.  The Dad in me was nervous though, for both of them.  The starting line is quite the sight to see.  Right next to the Bell Tower on Hillsborough Rd., runners filled the street, and spectators were everywhere.  As all three races line up together the crowd was a big one.

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As the gun went off we made our way down Hillsborough.  The three of us stuck pretty close to one another for the first half mile.  Dylan went out in front as we traversed Ashe Ave., and Colton just just behind me heading up and then down the first hill of the course.  Not sure why I don’t have a crick in my neck today, because I kept turned to see where Colton was, while straining my neck to keep my eyes on Dylan up ahead.  A straightaway down Western Blvd., I overtook Dylan when I finally caught a good pace groove.  We were running at a pace of about 7:30 at the time.  Heading into the center of the city for a quick loop, I knew that the first really big hill test was coming up at mile 4.  At this point Dylan and Colton were behind me, and I couldn’t find them in the sea of runners anymore.

Boylan Rd. is a tough uphill section of the course. Up until mile four my right foot (which I have had trouble with lately) felt fine.  Going up this hill that all changed.  All of the sudden the pain was back.  The top of my right foot.  It almost feels like I have a stress fracture in one of my metatarsals.  It really annoyed me, and slowed me down.  As I crested the hill, my overall pace was 7:42.  I made it my goal to try to get through the next four mile section through the city, and not let that pace slip any more.  I knew that rolling hills from miles 8 to 11 would find me losing time, and knowing I wanted to finish under 1:45:00, I couldn’t afford to lose precious time during the relatively flat section through the city.  Winding through the city is always fun, but with each change in direction the wind would come at you from different directions.  Down Morgan, then Martin and finally north on Wilmington St. toward the Capitol Building.  The drumline is always a motivator!!

Running back toward Hillsborough I crossed the timing mat at the 10k split.  48:32.  Not bad!  I had lost a bit of pace in the city, but with an aching foot, I wasn’t complaining.  Out toward Glenwood Ave. S the real fun begins.  Down, the up, then down and back up for the next four miles.  Really an undulating section of the course, it will really bite you in the ass if you aren’t prepared.  I was hanging in there.  I stopped for water near mile 9.  The only time during the race that I took any hydration at all.

My mind was all over the place during this race.  A bunch of times I looked over my shoulder to see if I could locate my kids, but never could.  I found myself hoping they were having good races.  Part of me wanted to stop on the side of the course and let them catch up.  I had thoughts of my younger son getting a calf cramp on a hill and having to drop out of the race.  I had thoughts of Dylan doubled over throwing up in the bushes.  It was nerves.  Fatherly nerves.  I remained optimistic that they weren’t far behind me, and several times thought at some point during the later sections of the race that one or both would tap me on the shoulder, say hello, and then run on past me.  I knew that just beyond mile 11 would be and out and back section, when I would get a look at who was behind me for about a half mile.  As it approached, it gave me energy, knowing that I may see them.

My pacing was still good.  If I could keep it up, I would hit my goal.  I hit mile 11 at 7:55 pace overall.  I knew I could maintain it over the final two miles.  I made the turn at mile 11.6 and quickly affixed my eyes on the runners on the other side of the road.  My eyes were peeled!  A few minutes after the turn, A huge smile on my face as I spotted Colton!  I cheered him along.  Gave him two thumbs up!  I calmed down a bit.  He looked strong.  Then a few more minutes passed, and I spotted Dylan.  He saw me as well, and was pointing at his back, and shaking his head back and forth as if to say “my back is hurting, this isn’t my best but I’m doing it”.  There we all were, within five minutes if each other, making our way down the final stretch of the course back to the finish at the Bell Tower.

I was ecstatic!  What a fun way to end a race.  Lots of spectators, cheering and the finish line was approaching.  I knew that I would have to wait in the finishers chute to see both of them finish.  I crossed the line, hitting my goal.  I quickly had the race medal placed around my neck, caught my breath, and tried to find a spot on the side where I could have a view of finishers behind me.  Just a few minutes later I could see Colton approaching the finish of his first Half Marathon.  It was pure joy to watch him cross the line.  As he walked toward me a volunteer laced his medal around his neck and a big smile emerged on his face.  I gave him a huge tight hug!  He had done it.  In record time, I thought.  I was so proud.

It was now time to move out of the way of other runners.  We found a good spot, and cheered Dylan on as he then finished a few minutes later.  All of us done, all of us under two hours.  I couldn’t have been prouder.  Giving Dylan a huge hug and fist bump, we all gathered our finishers shirts, and found a place to relax on the hill.  We were all immediately freezing.  The wind was whipping around, and because we were all wet from sweat, every time the sun went behind a wispy cloud, the shivering began.

We gathered for photos, ate some food and tried to warm up in the sun.  Priceless moments in time that I will always remember.  I am so happy that I can share this wonderful sport with my sons.  It truly is a gift.  This one was all about family, and I was in my glory.

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Many, many thanks to all of the race volunteers.  Our hometown race is spectacular year after year.  Yes, the race is not easy or flat, but it’s ours.  Last year I ran the Full, and to this day it’s still my PR.  The Half this year, was my fastest half of 2014.  Not a PR, but a personal best for 2014.  Here are our official results.

There were 2,132 runners in the Half.  Overall I placed 233, Colton 329, and Dylan 414.

Our finish times:

Dad: 1:43:58.    Colton:  1:47:27.    Dylan:  1:51:01.

I finished 27th out of 160 in my Age Group.  Colton finished 20th and Dylan 23rd in their AG’s.

Pretty amazing!  Very proud!  Quite satisfied.  It was another amazing year at the City of Oaks.

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Hallowed Half Marathon 2014- Race Recap

October 26, 2014 – Wake Forest, NC.  The third running of the Hallowed Half and 10k, put on by Signature Races.  Another beautiful morning for a race.  So many of my races lately have just been the best weather wise, and this one was no exception.  Race morning temps in the low 50’s.

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My drive to Wake Forest is about 50-55 minutes, so I left the house about 5:30.  Race day packet pick up started at 6:30, and there was a bit of a line when I arrived, but only a few minute wait.  Pretty much the only time I ever see the sunrise is when I am racing, and as daylight approached the sky was cloudless.  After getting my bib pinned onto my shirt, I made my way over to find my fellow pacers for the race.

Women wore witch costumes, and tutus, men were wearing a Grim Reaper costume, with a scythe showing the pace on the faux blade.  Here is a shot of a few folks getting costumed up.

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There were about ten of us total.  Unfortunately I was the only pacer for the 1:45:00 (8 minute mile) group, so would have to go it alone.  I have never had to pace by myself, so I hoped it would work out ok.  It’s great when you have a partner or two, trading off holding the pacing sign and just having someone else to keep you on track.

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As 7:30 approached, we got in line at the starting chute.  I was surprised how few folks really aligned up with me for a 1:45:00 finish.  As you can see by this photo, no one was willing to get in front of me until the last minute before the race began.  I stood quite a ways back from the starting line, where I snapped this picture.  I guess the ultra fast runners were still stretching.  Lol. Here is a photo looking behind me, and believe me, there were plenty of runners lined up.

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Lots of folks in costume, the race began moments later.

When I say that this race is hilly, I really mean it.  Being the third time I have run it, I knew what to expect. I knew what to expect, but really wasn’t prepared.  On tired legs from six weeks worth of mega racing, I was just hoping for a nice even paced race.  My right ankle had been giving me pain for a few days prior to the race, and right off the bat I was giving me fits.  As I adjusted to running in a costume, and carrying an extremely long pace sign/scythe I tried to find my pace.  Half a mile in I was at 8:30 pace, working my way to that magical 8:00.  By the end of the first mile, I was there.  On pretty much the only flat portion of the race course it was obvious that if I had a pace group, they were too spread out at this point to really tell.  The only person matching my steps was a woman dressed as Cat Woman.

A few miles in, we turned east and were running directly in the sun.  Although a cool morning, the sun warmed me up quite a bit.  Running in the sun coupled with having a black hooded costume on, I quickly starting sweating.  I knew that wearing that costume would not last long.  My only running companion was matching me step for step.  Pace was even, and right on the money.  We chatted a bit.  I have her tips on what was coming up on the course.  She told me that if she hung with me, she would get a huge PR.  Her current PR at the Half distance was 1:53:00.  Without saying anything, I knew this would be the race of her life if she could maintain the pace over the course of the hills knowing she had never run that fast before.  This is not really a PR friendly course because of the difficulty.  I had my fingers crossed for her though.

Big hills, big!  Traversing these babies at an even pace was massively difficult.  As the miles progressed I was becoming too hot in that costume.  As we approached the second water station about five to six miles in, I decided it was time to ditch it.  I still had my pace sign, which would have to suffice.  I threw that costume to the curb, and quickly cooled down quite a bit.  Mile 7, 8 then 9.  More huge hills, I lost a few ticks on the pace.  Knowing I would have to make up the time on a downhill, I pushed onward.  It was at about mile 9, on a long uphill stretch that my only companion, Cat Woman, would finally fall back.  She had to walk.  I knew it would happen eventually, but I gave her huge props for sticking with me that long.  I was now alone.  If I hadn’t been pacing this race, I would have run it very differently.  With two previous races on this course, both under 8:00 mile pace, I was struggling more this time around.  I know it was due to the fact that I ran those uphill portions at an even pace, just the same as the downhill portions.  If I wasn’t pacing, I would have taken it more easy on the uphills, and taken more advantage of the easier downhills.  Oh well, nothing I could do but press on.  Alone.

Nearing the haunted trail portion of the race, my pace had slipped to 8:04 overall.  Then, the dreaded Garmin event happened.  Yep!  I had been switching the pace sign between hands every so often because of the weight of it.  The breeze also kept blowing the blade, which made it even more difficult to carry.  I was so tired of holding it, and didn’t have another pacer to hand it off to for some relief.  This time, in switching hands the pole bumped my Garmin and there went a beep.  Omg!  My Garmin reset.  Now there I was, knowing that I was already behind pace, and losing my one way to keep track of getting that pace back.  I was doomed, I thought.  By this point though, I didn’t have a sole running with me, and as we merged in with a bunch of the 10k runners, I couldn’t really tell who was running what race.  many folks I passed were walking, having been totally beaten up by the relentless hills.  I figured I would just have to finish the best I could.  I had no idea now what my overall pace was, and with a long uphill finish, there was no way I was going to hit my mark.

If I had another pacer with me, it would have been the failsafe I needed.  I didn’t though.  Miles 10, 11 and 12, I just tried to keep as even paced as I could.  I knew I was losing more time on the uphills.  Eventually with a half mile to go, I just told myself to go as fast as possible.  That uphill finish is daunting, and will test your will.  With the finish line in sight, and still no one running with me, I crossed the line in 1:47:01.  Yeah, my fastest Half this year.  Not my goal pace, but only 10 seconds per mile off.  I can blame it on several things like my Garmin fail, the lack of running with another pacer or two, the costume or whatever.  But I won’t.  The fact of the matter is that I just didn’t hit my mark.  Last year I ran this race in 1:39:00, and after crossing the finish line completely drained of energy, wondered how in the world I ever had a time like that on this course.  It was tough!

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After collecting my cool medal and some water, I wandered back to the finish line to hopefully see Cat Woman finish.  I was dying to find out if she would get her PR.  Low and behold, she soon crested the final hill to the finish line.  I cheered her on, as she crossed the line just under 1:50:00.  She did it!  A PR by over three minutes on this difficult course.  She was the only person I was basically pacing, so I felt that my work, for at least the first 8-9 miles that she hung with me, was well worth it.  I found her to congratulate her.  She was thrilled.

I hung around the finisher village for about an hour after the race, just soaking up the morning Sun, and talking with fellow runners.  I may not have hit my mark right on point, but I was pretty damn close.  Pacing is a lot of fun, but this race was the most challenging pacing job I have ever had.  I had some obstacles on race day, but managed the best I could.

The tombstone medal opens!

The tombstone medal opens!

The Hallowed Half is such a fun event, and will look to return with a vengeance next year to give those haunting hills another go.

...and reveals just how I felt after I finished the race!  Lol

…and reveals just how I felt after I finished the race! Lol

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Family Affair – Half Marathon with my sons

November 2nd will be a special day.  A really special day for me and my two sons.  Why you ask?  We will be toeing the line as Dad and sons at Raleigh’s City of Oaks Rex Healthcare Half Marathon.  I couldn’t be more happy about it.

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This is my hometown marathon, half and 10k.  The race that is currently my PR at the marathon distance.  A mark that I set in 2013.  This year however, I chose to run the Half Marathon with my 16 and 18 year old sons.  I am not going to try to better my time from last year in the marathon.  In fact, I just didn’t come close at all this year in achieving that new marathon PR.  My best marathon this year was about nine minutes shy of a PR.  My goal this year is to run with my kids.

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I am not really sure what to expect come race day.  My older son has run two Half marathons to date.  This will be his third.  He has run his other two half marathons this year.  His first in Hilton Head, SC,  back in February, finishing in 1:43:10.  Then his second, the Mike to Mike Half Marathon, in Fayetteville, NC.,  in 1:51:50.  He is now a freshman in college, and has been trying to train, but hasn’t gotten in the necessary miles.  Not sure what to expect from him come race day, but knowing him, since the start and finish are at NC State (where he goes to college) he will give it 110%.

This photo is over two years old.  They are both taller than me now!

This photo is over two years old. They are both taller than me now!

My younger son (16yrs.) has yet to run a Half.  This will be his first.  He has been so busy playing on his varsity soccer team in high school this Summer and Fall, that he has barely had any time to train.  He will be the wildcard on race day.  He has certainly had his fair share of workouts, just not all distance running related.  He is hardheaded like me, and I know will give it all he has on race day.

Based on our varied training, I doubt that we will all run together.  I wish we could, but that is probably unrealistic.  If we all plan to give it our all, we will probably all run at different paces.  It will be interesting, to say the least.

How do you think it will turn out?  It will certainly be a first.  We’ve competed in shorter distances together, but never a 13.1.  All I know is that the City of Oaks is about to get a handful of us.  Will it be dear old Dad that arrives first at the tape?  Will it be the college freshman with a PR better than my last two Halves?  Will it be the High School Junior with something to prove?  Surely it will be a blast!