Losing a beloved race

Last night I was digging through my closet for a shirt to put on after showering, and found one that made me a bit sad.  I have a plethora of race shirts that are not tech shirts for casual wear, as probably most of you do as well.  Well, sometimes these can be the best sort of shirts to get from a race because you can wear them with a pair of shorts, or jeans and just kick around in them.  The one I found last night I had made at an expo last Fall.  

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Putting on this shirt was more of just a reminder of a race that is no longer being run.  After the first running of the marathon distance, one that I truly enjoyed, this long standing race suddenly and unexpectedly pulled the plug.  The Half and 5k had been run for years, and only last year did they decide for the first time to add the full marathon.  It was a beautiful and challenging course in Asheville, North Carolina.  I conquered those hills and had a blast.  

The reason for pulling the plug?  The race didn’t make enough money to properly “give back” to the chosen charities.  Main sponsor pulled out because of bad press, and that’s all she wrote.  I will miss it!  I’m sure others will as well.  It was well run, organized and seemed to have plenty of support from the community.  I planned on going back to try to better my time on the course.  

As I put on this shirt last night I began to wonder how many other great races no longer exist.  For whatever the reason, a great race lives on in our memories forever, even the ones that are lost.  Do you have any races that hold great memories for you that you no longer get the chance to run because they no longer are being run?  Please share…

I’m just glad I spent the extra money to have this shirt made, and plan on wearing it proudly for years to come.

Marathon #6 just 4 days away!

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Where has all of the time gone?  Just a few short days from now, the Asheville City Marathon will be here.

I am working the next three nights in a row, and during my mornings off, I will be getting everything in order for the long weekend in the mountains.   Looks to be absolutely perfect weather as it stands right now in the forecast.  Low to mid 70’s for highs all weekend, and low 50’s during the morning hours each day.  Perfect for running a marathon!  I need to start thinking about a top layer to toss, since standing outside for an hour or more in that temperature will be chilly before the start.

I am getting very excited for my 6th marathon.  Asheville is a great city, and I can’t wait to experience it on foot.  All of it!  This marathon will be challenging, with hills, peaks and valleys, but should be much easier from an overall elevation change standpoint from my last marathon in Roanoke, Virginia in April.  I look forward to this challenge, and will be ready!  Runners of all shapes and sizes will be descending on Asheville this Friday to attend the expo.  There is a 5k on Friday night, followed by the Half and Full marathons commencing at 6am on Saturday morning.  The half and full start together and break off from each other at about the 7.5 mile mark.  Here is a map of the Full marathon that I will be running.

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This past week I ran just over 25 miles total.  That included my last long training run on Saturday, the Johnson Lexus Half marathon. I finished in 1:43:43, just about where I wanted that run to be.  Overall pace was 7:50 per mile, so somewhat faster than I expect to run this Saturday.  I felt a bit of a tweak in my left groin yesterday, and was a little sore the day after the race, but today I think I am back to normal.  Last evening I ran a 5k tune up, recovery run.  Whatever you want to call it, it was basically a “I need to run, I want to run, I need to see how my legs feel” sort of run.  That nervous energy sort of run.  Not wanting to overdo it, but really needing to test the body and reassure oneself for the 26.2 mile adventure ahead.  I am sure you can relate.  I am going to run an easy four miles this morning, followed by a pace run of 4 to 5 miles tomorrow.  I think that will be it for me prior to the race.  I may rest completely on Thursday and Friday.  We’ll see, but that is the plan right now.

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This race starts at 6am, so it will be dark for about an hour at the start.  These few photos are taken during previous Asheville races, and I am looking forward to all of the views.  Bring it on, Asheville!

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The Full Marathon is capped at 2,500 runners, and the Half is capped at 4,000.  I don’t think that either race has reached capacity, as I have not seen a notice on the races being sold out.  These numbers are big though.  There will be a lot of runners toeing the line on Saturday morning.  The feeling will be electric!  Here is a list of my other marathons and number of finishers.  If this race is anywhere near the cap, it will be the largest marathon field that I have competed in.

Myrtle Beach Marathon 2/18/12.    1797 finishers

Tobacco Road Marathon 3/18/12.     975 finishers

Outer Banks Marathon 11/11/12.    1190 finishers

Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate 3/3/13.    962 finishers

Blue Ridge Marathon 4/20/13.    424 finishers

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Yes, I only started marathoning last year, and ran three total in 2012.  This marathon will be my third for 2013.  I am looking forward to every bit of it.  Hopefully the body will hold up, and I am able to have a fantastic race.  I really want to do well.  I have many more races planned before the end of the year, and much to look forward to.  The Asheville City Marathon is the only focus though for right now, and it’s just a few short days away.  Open your arms Asheville, I am ready for my hug!

Forecasting the Race

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I think that Fall is possibly the best time of year to run in North Carolina.  Over the past week we have certainly started feeling the effects of cooler days.  The Sun is setting earlier, making running in the early to late evening much more enjoyable.  The mornings are even better yet.  With the cool downs overnight, the mornings have just been fantastic this past week.  It’s actually begun a little early for my area, but I am not complaining.

I stepped out of my normal comfort zone yesterday and actually got up early to run before work.  Don’t get me wrong, I usually run most days, but normally do not set an alarm, and get out as early as I did yesterday.  With temperatures in the low to mid 50’s when I got up, it was just the perfect run.  As I head into the final days leading up to the next three weekends of racing, my mileage is down for taper.  I ran 4 miles yesterday.  I ran on a nice hilly loop around the area that I live.  My lungs thoroughly enjoyed the crisp morning.  I was able to push out an 8:28 pace.  Not bad considering the hills I run on.  In fact, several runs I have taken lately have been a lot speedier than my run over the Summer.  In addition to not feeling as drained post-run, it is just such a refreshing change.

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In this part of NC, the leaves will not be changing anytime soon, but the temps are approaching runner perfection!  My paces over the past two weeks range anywhere from a low of 8:21 for a 5k hill run, up to a 9:04 for my 18 miler, on a very hot and humid day.  Looking at the forecast for the next week, I have a pretty good idea what I will be up against for this Saturday’s Half Marathon.  The low overnight before the race is supposed to be 62.  Ok, not low 50’s, but we can’t have it all, right?  The high that day 83.  We will be finished racing long before the temps get too warm.

The weather in the mountains, approximately a four hour drive west of where I live, is often times much cooler than it is here.  The 10 day forecast in the Asheville area only stretches until the day I arrive there on the 27th.  The race is the 28th, but as it looks right now, the low is 53 that day, and the high is 73.  Plenty of sunshine, too!  I can handle that forecast, for sure.  It looks like it will be a nice chilly race start, and a gradual warm up.  My last Marathon in April was a perfect day weather wise.  The start was very cold, with not a cloud in the sky.  After a mile however, I never felt too cold, or too hot during the race.  That is the kind of weather you want.  Hoping for the same in Asheville.

Since we are staying in the area for the long weekend, I am hoping to see a little bit of Fall color in the mountains.  Asheville, Boone, Blowing Rock areas are all just beautiful in the Fall.  It’s a great place to be, in the North Carolina mountains during the Fall season, and I hope it will be equally great to run there as well.

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Here’s hoping for some really pretty scenery on our trip, and on my 26.2 mile journey in Asheville.  I hope you enjoy getting out there during this great time of year to run, as much as I do.  Cheers!

Upcoming Races

Here is a list (not solid yet) of upcoming races on my calendar.  My quest for 13 Half and Full Marathons for 2013 continues into the Summer and Fall.  There are a bunch of options, but spacing them out is proving to be a bit of a challenge.

Image  Taking a trip to South Carolina next month and will do this race with my kids.  This is one of the top 10 biggest races yearly in the state.

Image  On recommendation of folks that have run this race before, this Half Marathon is on my list during a road trip to NY this August.  This race will put my Half/Full count at 7 for the year.  That leaves 6 more for Fall.

9/21 –  Midtown Race Series Johnson Lexus Half Marathon in Raleigh

Image  I’ve already signed up for this Marathon in Asheville, NC.  I ran the Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate earlier this year in March, and just fell in love with the City of Asheville, so I thought I would return in the Fall for the City Marathon.  Completely different course.  I took advantage of the discount they were offering on National Running Day!

Image  Running this race again, as it is a favorite, and I am friends with the race director Paula.

image  The Bull City Race Fest!  This event is on 10/20, and I am signed up for the Half Mary.  This will be my first time running this event.

I may run the Greensboro Marathon on 10/26.

Hallowed half  I ran this hilly Half last year.  It is a Halloween themed race that was really tough, but very enjoyable.  Not sure I can do a back to back Half and Full the same weekend.  Jury is still out on this weekend.

City of oaks  The City of Oaks is our local marathon in the Fall, and this will be my first year running it.  I work along the race route, and have worked the last two years on race day.  It makes me very jealous to watch the masses pass by, but this year will be a different story.

Depending on if I get all these races in, my goal will be complete at this Marathon on 11/3.  If I happen to miss one of the events listed above, I have a fall back on race, the Skinny Turkey Half Marathon on Thanksgiving Day.  I have run that race the last two years, and really want to reach my goal prior to that this year so that I can just eat on Turkey Day.

So, what do you think of this schedule?  It means either 4 or 5 marathons this year, and either 8 or 9 Halves.  Lofty goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the year, but I can make it, if I stay focused, trained and injury free.