Herald of Victory Marathon -Recap

The long and curious absence from my blog can be summed up in one word….

BUSY

Well, many words can actually describe my absence.  Packing, moving, job change, vacation, graduation.  They all equal a complete and total lack of time to blog.

Well, I’m back.  Let me catch you up on a few things.  I celebrated the graduation of my youngest son a month ago with family in town and a very expensive dinner.  We had a blast.  The most important thing being that my son enjoyed every moment of it, and is just about six weeks away now from walking onto his new college campus to start classes for the next phase in life.  I’ve been getting myself used to not seeing him as much, as I have given him a lot more independence this Summer.  He takes the reigns on his own life very soon.  Sad, but true.

In the midst of everything, I had a trip to see my Dad in NY, and to run marathon #27. My Dad and I had a blast together.  The marathon?  Maybe my toughest one to date.  I can sum up the race in one word…  Well two,….BEASTLY HOT!  Seriously, the race was the day before Memorial Day, usually a moderate temperature time of year for upstate New York.  Not to be.  It was hot and humid my entire four day visit.  Topped off with race morning temperatures in the low 70’s, and about 92 degrees by the time I finished.  I normally don’t race just to finish, but I race that day with the goal of surviving the heat and living another day.  It worked.  Get this, the Herald of Victory Marathon was an inaugural race.  Never done before, but so attractive to me because it gave me a chance to run a marathon where I grew up.  Even though the conditions were excruciating at times (most of the time) I had a smile on my face and a positive attitude from start to finish.  I knew I would finish, even in those temperatures.  I took it easy from the very beginning, thoughts of not wanting to have nothing left in that kind of heat 20 miles in.  I finished.  I ran through Binghamton, Vestal, Johnson City, Chenango Forks, over bridges, through beautiful parks, past cheering spectators in utter and complete appreciation for every volunteer along the way keeping me hydrated and pumped up and energized.

With a finish time of 4:30:33 (a personal worst), the Herald of a Victory Marathon was a huge victory for me personally.  Victorious over another grueling 26.2 mile run.  I managed my race very well from start to finish.  I owned it!  Believe it or not there were only 8 finishers under the 4:00:00 mark.  Eight!  A race with 113 finishers in 90+ degrees, I finished 24th.  My worst time, but a stunning accomplishment on the day.  I’ve learned a lot about myself as a runner, fighting conditions, letting my body and mind do the work.  I never cramped, I was never overcome by the heat.  I did the right things that day and made it to the finish with a smile, my Dad welcoming me over the finish line.

Since that day I’ve only run once.  Once in six weeks. I needed a break.  Five marathons this year, my muscles and really the rest of my body needed a break.  Time to relax and rejuvenate.

I promise I will be better with my blogging, too.  Back on the streets today for a run, and back at the blogging game.  So, how have you been?  Are you enjoying the Summer?

Here are a few pix from my NY trip before I head out on errands today.

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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.

Herald of Victory Marathon

When planning out a racing season I look at many things.  I look at race history, cost, course layout and elevation, swag, ease of logistics, etc..  I pick local races a lot, and why?  Those races are typically, in the end, cheaper all around because they don’t involve travel costs or lodging.  Sometimes though, I just have to look at races that do involve travel because it often times lends to a change in scenery, a new race, a chance at a mini vacation, and so on.

This coming May, I chose a race that involves a very long drive.  Yes, of course I could fly, but that would add more expense.  I originally heard about this race last Fall, and jumped on early pricing.  This race happens to be an inaugural race.  Now, I’m not always keen on brand new races, as most often waiting a year or two for the race to work the kinks out can be a very good idea.  This time around I chose to give it a chance because of the location.  It’s a brand new marathon, where I grew up!  I couldn’t pass up the chance to run a marathon there.

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So, the Herald of Victory Marathon, in Binghamton, NY will essentially close out my long distance events before the Summer.  The course will take me all over the greater Binghamton area, and has a fair share of elevation change, but looking at the course profile, nothing too difficult.  My Father lives in Binghamton still, so it will be a great chance to once again visit, and have him attend one of my races.  A win win!

Not sure originally that I would be able to break away from work on a holiday weekend, I am going to make it happen.  I am full on planning this trip now.  The race is on Sunday before Memorial Day, so I will make the 10 hour drive on Friday before, and either head back home on Memorial Day or the day after.  Accommodations are booked just in case it ends up being more than just me who make the drive up for the weekend.  If it’s just me, I’ll stay with my Dad.

Believe it or not, I have run two races in Binghamton in the past.  Actually it was the same race, run two different years.  It was a 5k, too.  The Kelly LeBare 5k run during the yearly Spiedie Fest in August.  I wasn’t in running shape for either of those races, in fact I really wasn’t a runner at all back then.  I ran those races back in 2003 and 2004, so it’s been well over a decade since I last raced in Binghamton.  Should be a ton of fun!  So, even though this is a brand new event quite a ways away from home, I have plenty of reasons to give it a shot.  Hoping the Herald of Victory will be an amazing race capping off an amazing trip to see my Dad.

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Tromptown Half Marathon Recap

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On a visit to New York to see family, my sons and I had the pleasure of running the 36th Annual Tromptown Races.  The races are held in the small town of Deruyter, NY.  It is a pretty small event, including a fun run, 5k, and Half Marathon.  This race marked my 15th half marathon, and both of my sons ran the 5k.  Along for the hour long drive from Binghamton, NY, where we were visiting, was my Father, who last watched me race in New York back in 2004.  Here is a picture of my sons, and Dad, prior to the start.

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We bumped into Nicki in the parking lot prior to the race and had a chat and walked to the start together.  I met Nicki at the Blue Ridge Marathon this past April.  I won an entry into the marathon there this year during a contest on her running blog.  nickisnook.net  Check her blog out, it’s worth a follow!  She and I are pictured below.  See lives in the Binghamton area, and recommended this race, as she has run it in the past.  Who could pass up on the chance to see the beautiful countryside running in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, especially for the wallet friendly price of $28 for the three of us?  Now that, my friends, is a deal!

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The race started on time, right near the center of town.  I had never been to Deruyter before, but what a friendly town.  Rolling hills, friendly folks, corn fields, cows, and great views of the area.  As I expected as we rolled into town, the race start was right next to a cornfield.

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We ran down one of the few main streets in town as the crowd of just over 200 runners started to spread out fairly quickly.  We ran by the school where we parked and where packet pick up was.  It was here that I waved to my boys and my Dad, before making the turn and passed the finish area.  From here we started making our trip out of the center of town.  We hit one crossroads, where a sign was posted.  I didn’t snap a picture, but wish I had.  The sign told runners from the half marathon to make a right hand turn, and instructed those running the 5k, which started 15 minutes after the half, to proceed straight.  The hill/confidence drainer that lay ahead for those running the 5k, looked absolutely daunting.  I immediately thought about how my boys would react when they saw that hill coming up.  Certainly I have never seen a 5k course with anything like it.  I felt for them!

We started to make our way out of town, where the streets quickly turned into rolling country roads.  The event website http://www.tromptownrun.com lists this race a scenic, and invites you to take in the rural sights and smells.  This is surely what I did, and remained focused on enjoying this race course.  A few miles in there is a fairly substantial hill that really is the first indication of what lies ahead.  Old Mill Road will start to test your legs, and get them ready for High Bridge Road, which is a rolling stretch, taking you from about mile 3 to mile 5.  Fields of corn, and pastures abound at this point in the race.  Before I caught my first glimpse of Deruyter Lake, I came up to a farm, and low and behold, I saw a cow walk across the road.  My first thought was, watch me get held back, waiting for the whole herd to cross over to another pasture, but as I came up to it, the cows were held back by fencing.  Not sure how that one cow got through, but he was on the other side, mooing like crazy for the others to join him.  The smell at this crossing almost knocked me flat.  I don’t encounter smells like these back home.  (Smiling)

As I came up to the Lake (Tioughnioga Reservoir), I was struck by how beautiful and peaceful this area is.  There were little lake houses and cottages all around the Lake.  Lots of folks were outside, and many were roadside, cheering on us runners.  It was a nice treat. Miles 5 to 10 were basically run all around the Lake.  Beautiful views, and rolling hills.  I snapped the following picture at around mile 7.5, the far end of the Lake, looking back toward town.

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It was truly a scenic adventure for the eyes.  A workout for the legs, but if your like me, racing is done with your eyes, too.  I always try to focus on my surroundings, especially when running a race for the first time.  Half way into the race at this point I was feeling good.  My pace was all over the place.  I was taking in the views so much, I wasn’t focusing on my pace like I usually do.  With the hills, I knew I wouldn’t PR, so I focused on trying to stay under an overall pace of 8 minutes per mile until the finish.  Heading back toward town, miles 10 and beyond, I started passing runners that were in trouble.  Racers were pretty few and far between on this course, so there wasn’t a lot of passing going on until late in the race.  I passed one fellow, young guy, who was obviously cramping up terribly in his calves.  I stopped to ask him if he needed help.  He said he was ok, just cramping, but as I looked at his face, I noticed that he was crying.  Pretty bad case of cramps, I guess.  I felt bad for him.  I think we’ve all been there, feeling whipped, feeling disappointed, feeling injured.  Not fun.  I was feeling really good though, and wanted to finish strong.  I had heard a couple times, rolling thunder in the distance, so I knew I wanted to hurry and finish in case it decided to pour down on us.

It was a real treat to come into the finish area, and see my sons and Father.  They cheered me to the finish.  I was very happy, and finished in 1:44:43.  Satisfied for this rolling course.  I placed 44th overall, out of 224 runners.  That was good enough to score me a 3rd place finish in my age group, which was a thrill.  I received a medal for that.  I also received a Family Team medal for coming in 2nd place with my older son.  That was an even bigger reward, and one I will cherish as we competed together.  My sons competing together as a brother/brother combo, took third place, in the 5k.  They finished 26th and 28th overall in the 5k.  almost side by side.  So we really had a successful race, and I will remember it forever.

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This race is run in conjunction with the Fireman’s Fair, there in town, so there were plenty of food options after the race, and rides for kids, along with carnival games, etc..  Too bad they ran out of fried dough before we had the chance to grab some before heading out of town.  We earned that fried dough, but would have to settle for some French fries once we got back to Binghamton.  Just as we were leaving that night, the skies that had been threatening all evening, finally opened up, and dumped about three inches of rain on us as we drove the hour home.  It was torrential, and difficult driving, but we survived in one piece.  If you live in the central New York area, and are looking for a great race, this one is a great race to try.  It was inexpensive, well supported, and scenic all rolled into one.  Definitely recommend this race!  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Special reunion in NY

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The reason for the trip to NY is pictured above.  We haven’t seen my Dad in way too long, so this reunion is special.  My boys haven’t seen Grandpa in years.  Too much distance, too few visitation chances.  So this picture speaks a thousand words to me!  A cherished photo.

So far we’ve eaten Spiedies, and had some delicious ice cream, and traveled all around the area that I grew up in.  You see, I haven’t lived here for 25 years, so I am slowly getting familiar with my surroundings again.  My first job was in the Mall right across the street from the hotel we are staying at.  So many memories here, lots of good memories.  If it weren’t for my Dad still living here we probably wouldn’t have ever come back.  Our life in the South has been such a nice change to where I grew up.  I’ve lived in NC now for 14 years, and love it.

This evening we are racing.  Tromptown Run, about an hours drive from here.  Kids are running the 5k, I am running the Half.  Hope the weather holds.  Will post a recap soon on how we do.

Just a happy family reunion in the mean time, and for the next few days.  Catching up, and enjoying time together.

Marathon training in New York

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In less than a month, I have a long overdue trip to Upstate New York planned.  Yes, I am heading back to the town where I grew up.  Binghamton, NY, I really haven’t missed it at all, but haven’t been there in almost 6 years.  It is time!  My Father still lives there, so it will be a great family visit.

i have been in the planning stages for this trip for quite some time.  I think I have finally decided to fly.  Normally, this would not be an option, but a colleague at work offered up some buddy passes so that it would be more affordable my my sons and I to fly instead of make the 9 hour road trip.  This means flying standby, so I have my reservations, but we are going to do it.  It may take us all day to get there, but I will try to stay optimistic.

Trying to plan what to do while there…… Big ideas, little time.  We will only be there for three full days.  The kids and I are already planning on running a race in Deruyter, NY, called the Tromptown Races.  I am running the Half Marathon, and the boys are both running the 5k.  Should be nice and hot at the race start of 6pm.  There is a Fireman’s Fair at the finish, and hope to meet up with my best friend from college and his wife and kids.  I have yet to meet the kids, but haven’t seen my friends in 12 years.  Wow!  My last road race in NY was the Kelly LeBarre 5k in Binghamton, back in 2004!  I ran it with my brother that year, and also in 2003.  The race in 2003 was my first official 5k race, so it will be nice to be running in NY again, 10 years later!

My Dad is a big golfer, so we will surely hit the golf course for a round of golf while there.  I played golf a lot growing up, and managed to be a pretty good player, but I am so rusty now, only playing my first round of golf in 14 years last week.  Let’s just say I won’t be shooting par golf.

I am also hoping to take the boys and Dad to Ithaca for an afternoon.  My brother may drive up from New Jersey one day to join us.

For sure, we will be eating Spiedies, a local area specialty, and be visiting Friendly’s for a Reese’s Pieces Sundae while on our trip.  I am getting ready excited to see the area again, as I really do miss the foothills.  I took them for granted when I lived there, but plan on enjoying the scenery.  I hope that Mother Nature cooperates, and gives us some decent weather while we are there.  Binghamton is one of the cloudiest cities in the country, pretty dreary, based on the Farmers Almanac.  Living there 18 years, I can still remember how much a sunny day was appreciated.

Have you ever heard of a Spiedie?  Any idea how delicious one is?

Pure deliciousness

Pure deliciousness