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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Fundraising Friday -NYC Marathon 9 days away

We’ve just crossed into taper madness mode.  We are now in the single digits of the countdown to the 2015 New York City Marathon.

I haven’t been running my whole life, but I’ve been running long enough now.  Over five years competitively.  Well, running became a passion of mine five years ago.  Each year the New York City Marathon has been run since I became passionate about the sport, I’ve always been envious of those runners.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to run this amazing marathon?  The biggest in the world.

I finally get my chance, and it’s just nine short days away!

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Its also Fundraising Friday.  The final push to reach my fundraising goal.  I still need all the help I can get to fully fund my charity partner with my pledge.

Today I start writing the names of all of my donors on my charity team shirt.  If you’ve donated already, watch for upcoming posts, as I will post pictures of my race shirt, and you can see your name.  If you haven’t donated yet, there’s still time.  You can make a donation in any amount you wish from $10 and up.  Every dollar helps in the fight to treat cancer patients. Please consider a tax deductible donation today.  I thank you!  The following link will take you directly to my fundraising page on Crowdrise.

And to all of the other runners out there running for a reason, happy Fundraising Friday!

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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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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.

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?