Running through a Hurricane

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

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

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

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

image

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

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

 

Advertisements

Abbott World Marathon Majors

Slowly but surely….

It may take a while, but with conviction and commitment, I will run each of the worlds major marathons.  What an accomplishment that would be!  To get to do what I love and mix in traveling to places I’ve never been would be a huge treat!

image

As it now stands, at the beginning of 2016, I’ve run two of the six.  What started as a six year plan (when I first learned that I had made it into Chicaco in 2014) I thought about trying to run at least one of the six every year for six straight years.  Of course that plan could change at any time depending on when and if I qualify for Boston.  My best being only 7 minutes shy of my qualifying time, I know I can get to Boston!  When and where that lucky qualifying race will be is still in question.

So, in 2014, I made an epic start to the Six, in Chicago.  I followed that up with another run in Chicago in 2015, along with the second of The Six, in New York City.  My plan for 2016 was Berlin, but that fell through with a disappointing email that stated I didn’t get in through the lottery.  So, what to do now?  Is 2016 lost?  I think not!  My focus for the first part of 2016 will be really finding a routine again.  The last two months of every year are really tough on me work-wise. The holidays are just so tough, and busy it leaves me so little time to really run.  I usually just end up using November and December as full on recovery mode from busy racing years.  It typically works well to my advantage, as in years past when my racing commences the following year, I feel fresh and renewed.  My last few weeks of running have felt really good.

My 2016 plan begins with finding rhythm.  I am pacing three marathons and one half marathon over the next few months, and it all begins this weekend in Charleston, South Carolina.  My reasons for pacing are many.  First and foremost, I find pacing super gratifying because I can give back to my fellow runners.  Using the skills that I have learned through running over the past five years, and completing over 30 Halves and 22 Marathons, I feel very comfortable leading a group of runners to a certain finish time.  It’s a social event, too.  As a manager/director in real life, I am used to leading people.  Being the supporter, and helping people reach goals both personally and professionally.  This flows so naturally into my running, so my comfort level while pacing comes through.  Let’s talk, lets uplift and encourage, and get that PR.  Love it.

I will be pacing the Half and Full in Asheville in March, and then again pacing the Full at the All American Marathon at the beginning of April.  From there I have two more marathons planned before the Summer begins.  I plan on working on speed work, doing 800’s, and hill work during the Summer, and really pushing my own envelope when it comes to speed.  I need to if I want to really concentrate on getting a coveted Boston Qualifyer.  That race will be late summer if all things come together.  My tentative plans for Fall were a hopeful trip to Berlin, so I’ll need to focus on a new plan.  It will come with time.  I do know though, that I will keep focused on my plan of completing each of the Big 6.

Wouldnt it be amazing to be able to say one day that you completed all of the Abbott World Marathon Majors?  Boston, Berlin, London, Tokyo, Chicago, New York.  Wow!  That would be something, wouldn’t it?

image

Have you completed any of these races?  Would love to hear your stories!

Berlin Marathon

I’ve sort of adopted a new goal over this past year, and it’s a pretty lofty one.  Like many of my readers, I really enjoy traveling.  It’s super fun to be able to travel and to race during the same trip, too.  I’m not altogether sure how realistic this goal is, but I would really love to be able to run each of the six Marathon Majors in the world before I retire from marathoning.

image

In 2014, with a stroke of good luck, I was able to run the 1st of the Big 6.  Chicago!  Big city marathons are a production.  Thousands of runners, millions of spectators.  I sort of fell in love with the grandeur of it all.  I checked that one off the list.  When I decided to run New York City this year for charity, it meant that I would be running my 2nd of the Big 6.  Again, an epic race and experience.  Finishing NYC a few weeks ago meant that I had completed 1/3 of the Marathon Majors.  I kinda like this gig!

So, it begs to question…. where to next?  There are four remaining races that I need to run to complete this goal.  The last four are London, Tokyo, Berlin and Boston.  All require travel, and trips abroad, to boot.  Expensive!  Then there’s Boston.  Maybe the hardest one for me to achieve.  Those damn qualifying standards!

image

Recently, on a whim, I decided to enter the Berlin Marathon lottery.  The race isn’t until late September in 2016, so if I get in, there is plenty of time to plan the trip.  An epic trip it would be, too.  I’ve never even been abroad.  Never been to Europe.  Wouldn’t that be just an amazing reason to travel to another continent for the first time?  I should know if I get in or not in another few weeks.  The lottery drawing occurs the first week of December.

Curious to know if anyone out there reading this has run the Berlin Marathon in the past?  What did you think?  Would you run it again?  How about anyone out there that has run Tokyo, or London?  Which was your favorite?

I am excited, and a bit nervous to hear the results of the lottery.  If I’m chosen, the journey continues.  If not, which direction, which race will be next?  I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

10 days til @nycmarathon

Only one race remains on my 2015 running calendar, and it’s a big one!  It truly has been another epic year of running for me, and I get to cap it off with another of the six marathon majors in just 10 days!

image

Yes, the New York City Marathon is quickly approaching.  Deep into taper mode at this point, it’s really all now about the planning.  Logistics and mental preparedness.  The body is ready.  Legs have recovered from Chicago, and the only things that remain for me before the race are a few short runs, and a road trip to New York.

Tomorrow is my last day off from work until I leave on my NY journey next Wednesday.  I plan on getting my race shirt emblazoned with the names of my charity donors.  It’s not too late to donate.  I still have not hit my fundraising goal, so with any donation to my charity partner, the James Blake Foundation, your name will be proudly inscribed on my shirt!  Your thoughtfulness will get permanently written on my shirt so that you too, will get to run the streets of NYC with me.

image

Click on the following link to be taken directly to my fundraising page on Crowdrise, where you can make a donation in any amount with just a few clicks.  Thank you so much for your help in the fight against cancer.

Because of the fact that I am going to absolutely slay this race, I have been placed into Corral 1, right along with all of the Professional men.  Yep, starting with the likes of Meb Keflezghi.  Yes, he is my special friend and inspiration.

image

I gest.  Yes, we’ve clearly met, but I doubt I’ll even see him on race day.  Only in my dreams could I run as fast as he can.  :). I do, however, plan on giving this race my all.  I will be running with inspiration.  Running for my charity partner.  Running for those suffering with cancer.

image

So, as the countdown to New York continues, tomorrow we enter the single digits.  It’s all becoming very real.  The countless hours I’ve spent fundraising, the countless hours pounding the pavement will all culminate as I line up on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at 9:50am for a three hour plus run through the streets of New York City.  I couldn’t be more excited!  It all begins in just ten days.

Chicago Marathon 2015- Race Recap

What can I say about thus amazing race that hasn’t already been said?  I’ve read so many awesome reviews, comments, posts and recaps.  It seems this race just does not fail to deliver a first rate, amazing experiences to runners from all over the world.  Here is my experience along with a few photos.

Back when I first learned that I made it into the race for the second straight year, there was really hardly ever a question in my mind that I would run it.  Yes, it’s expensive.  $185 just to secure your spot.  Then there’s travel expenses, and for me that includes, flights, hotel, food and various other things.  I knew it was going to be an expensive affair, but after my amazing experience in Chicago in 2014, I knew I had to go back for more!

My flight to Chicago left home early in the morning the day before the race.  It was a very easy two hour direct flight that landed me in Illinois at 8:30am.  I had been toying for quite some time about if I would attempt to just go directly to my hotel and try to check in, or to go directly to the race expo and get it out of the way.  Since I was just using train service again this year, I figured it just best to go on straight to McCormick Place and breeze through the expo.  We took the Orange train from Midway to Roosevelt, and then hoofed it about 1.6 miles lugging along baggage and carry-ons.  That was a mistake.  It didn’t look that far on the map.  Should have taken the Green line south one stop, but didn’t.  Lesson learned if I go back to Chicago for a third time!

image

The expo hadn’t been open that long on Saturday when I arrived, but it was packed to the gills.  A huge expo, but such an amazing set-up.  So easy to pick up bib and timing chip, with a full walk through the convention center to grab race shirt and bag.  I was actually impressed with the shirt this year.  Last years was gray, and a bit lackluster.  I ended up choosing to wear last years shirt for the race this year, and painted my name on it.  I wanted to be cheered for!  Here’s a look at my race day shirt and bib.  I also painted “Lucky 21” on the back, since this was my 21st marathon.

image image

You’ll get to see this years race shirt with my medal at the end of the post.  ;). Since I spent a fairly significant amount of time at the expo last year, I really didn’t have a need to shop around or look at much.  I wanted to get out fairly quickly and get on to the hotel.

A three block walk from the convention center, we hopped on the Green Line train and headed to the Hampton Inn Downtown.  So close to the action, and so convenient.  The building used to be the home of the Chicago Motor Club.  It was built in 1928, and has recently been renovated and now my hotel for the weekend!

image image

Most buildings in Chicago are quite historic, and the we had a room on the top floor, with amazingly tall ceilings.  It was very comfortable.  Luckily they were ready for us to check in even though we were several hours early.  Once we successfully check in, and changed clothes, it was out to explore Chicago, and grab some grub!  What food do you think of when you think of Chicago?  Deep Dish Pizza, right?  Well yeah!  We headed out for Gino’s East.  Never ate there last year, so it was the first stop!

image

Man, oh man!  They had the most amazing sauce I think I’ve ever had.  I filled up quite well I do have to say so.  With a fully carbed up system it was time to do some more walking.  Magnificent Mile is always fun, and we wrapped up the walking tour with a trip to Garrett’s Popcorn.  Certainly a Chicago institution, and always a highlight of my trips to Chi-town.  I think it was about 6pm when we headed back to the hotel for the night.  No, I wasn’t up late.  Marathon morning was a mere hours away, and I needed to get my feet up and rest.

If I am remembering correctly, I think I got up at 4:15am on Sunday.  Since I had fallen to sleep around 9pm the night before, I felt completely refreshed and ready for the marathon ahead.  I had been hydrating like fiend for days in anticipation of the warm temperatures that were predicted for race day.  I went down to the lobby, and stepped outside for a quick glimpse.  It was warm.  There’s always a breeze, if not full on wind in Chicago, so it felt pretty comfortable.  Tons warmer than last year, I knew I wouldn’t be cold heading to the starting line this time around.  With temperatures heading into the high 70’s though in the afternoon, I grabbed a Gatorade before heading out for the race.

A simple 10 minute walk had me nearing Jackson Ave., the site of my Corral C entrance.  I met a few friends for a photo op, and off we were into a sea of runners heading into Grant Park.  The process to get through security is a bit unnerving, as it is a bottleneck until you pass through the security check points, and on into the park.  I never felt like I needed to use the bathroom one last time until I had actually been standing in the Corral for about five minutes.  It then became quickly uncomfortable, and knew that at some point I would have to stop to relieve myself.

image image

As race time neared there is all sorts of fanfare.  The announcer spoke, the National Anthem was sung, and before you knew it we were off.  Off and running one of the biggest races in the country.  The feeling really is quite electric.  My goals for the race were really kind of vague.  Chicago was my “gotta do it” race for the Fall season.  A race where I didn’t really have any concrete plans for finish time or pace, I really just wanted to really soak in the experience and enjoy the crowds.  Hence, the reason I painted my name on my shirt.  With 1.7 million spectators lining nearly every inch of the course, I think I heard my name chanted no less than a few hundred times.  It was amazing!

The race course in Chicago is really unique.  You get to see everything!  North, South, East, West.

image

Yes, this is an old map I found online, but it’s the same course we ran.  I felt good the first few miles, and thought I would be happy finishing under my time from 2014, but I knew as the day heated up, it would probably be tough to better my time this year.  I really didn’t care.  I opted to set a goal early on in the race to beat 3:50:00.  I knew the type of pace I needed to run, and I would stick with it.  The trip though downtown is amazing, the miles ticked by.  Lincoln Park came into view, and the trip north.  I felt good, but I was already warming up.  My pace felt slow for the beginning of a marathon, and I knew I just had to keep even, but have fun.

The sights, the sounds, the smells of each neighborhood is such an amazing experience.  Unique and special.  It really was amazing how quickly the first half of the race had come and gone.  I felt good.  My legs were good, and after I finally found a portolet, I knew I could just run.  As the temperatures rose, so did my sweating,  Everyone was sweating.  I knew I had to make full use of the aid stations so that I didn’t put myself in harms way.  I DID NOT want any legs cramps.  Not in Chicago!  Not this race.  My last marathon in July had been filled with miles and miles of debilitating cramps, and I was not going to let this happen to my Chicago Marathon.  Taking aid every two miles I know cost me some time, but it had to be done.  I think every time I passed a medical station there were folks being attended to.  I was too warm for a marathon, and I had to take this into consideration.

I love the hell out of this race though!  The crowds were amazing.  Certainly a highlight for me.  I trodded along, slow at times, but enjoying myself.  I would make it to the finish!  This, I had to keep repeating to myself, once I hit mile 20.  I felt the WALL this time.  It was the heat.  Normally I can push thought a race without much of a thought about hitting the wall, but this one did me in.  It was a huge mental and physical struggle that final 10k.  I just kept saying one mile at a time.  One mile at a time.  Eventually you’ll get there.  My focus was now to keep going to beat that 3 hour 50 minute mark.  It really kept me going. I would never give up, but my body kept telling me to walk.  I wouldn’t do it!  I would not walk.  I was rewarded for my efforts when I made the final turn and saw the cheering fans in the stands.  I had done it.  Two Chicago’s in a row.

My finish time?  3:49:38.  About eight minutes slower this year, but I didn’t care.  I grabbed that medal, and wore it proudly the rest of the weekend!  I earned that medal!  I earned that finish time.  My splits?  Yeah, completely affected by the day warming up as I ran.

10k – 49:15

Half – 1:47:07

30k – 2:36:26

Aside from a faster miles 3-6 than my first 3 miles, my pace slowly but surely rose as the race wore on.  It happens.  I was just too warm, and wanted more than anything to play it safe, and get to the finish in one piece.  I did it!  I love Chicago!  You MUST run Chicago if you haven’t.  At least once.  Hell, I love the city and the race so much I’ll probably (definitely) enter the lottery again next year.  🙂

Here are a few pictures from the rest of the day, and next before I flew home.  Another epic visit to Chicago!

image image image image image image image imageMy shirt and medal photo!

image

Running for The James Blake Foundation

I am running the biggest marathon in the world this year!  The TCS New York City Marathon!

This dream only came true because I joined a charity team raising money for cancer research.  Running for a reason, as they say!

image

I will be running the marathon with the James Blake Foundation charity team.  I began my fundraising quest a couple months ago, and have raised nearly a third of my goal.  I am trying to raise at least $3,000 for this worthy cause, and every donation helps impact the life of cancer patients through incredible research happening everyday.

I kicked off my fundraising efforts with a personal donation of $100, and have so many donors to thank already!  You, too, can help.  Won’t you please consider a donation today?

I am using The Crowdrise fundraising platform, and making a donation is super easy, and all donations are tax deductible.  If you click on the link below, it takes you directly to my personal fundraising page, and your thoughtful gift to this amazing charity is just seconds away.

You can also help me by sharing this blog post on social media.  Share it on your own blog, or on Facebook, or Twitter.  I would really appreciate it, as I want to try to reach as many potential donors as possible.

So?  What do you say?  Will you please make a contribution and share today?

Thank you!