Sell Out Alert!! Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate

Quietly whispered….

…..and then it soaked in…..

Wow!  The Asheville Marathon & Half at Biltmore Estate set to run on March 15, 2015 is heading toward a record early sell-out!  It was announced yesterday that with an overall cap of 1,300 runners, there were less than 200 spots remaining.  I guess word is spreading far and wide about this truly unique boutique-style race.

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I ran the inaugural event back in 2013.  It is truly a majestic and beautiful bucket list event.  Well organized, with a great expo and plenty of runner perks, this is a race you don’t want to miss!  I mean, who wouldn’t want to run here?

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Check out the race website for current pricing, but act quickly.  http://ashevillemarathon.com

Follow the race on Twitter:  @AvlMarathon

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Revel Rockies Marathon & Half

Revel Race series is currently a group of three incredibly beautiful, downhill races in western U.S..  Big Cottonwood, in Utah (which I ran this year), Revel Rockies in Colorado, and Canyon City just outside of Los Angeles, California.  The inaugural event at Canyon City is this weekend, so good luck to those of you lucky enough to be running there!

A huge fan of this race series, I have to check them off my race to-do list.  Why?  I can think of many reasons.  Traveling to race?  Yes!  Up until my race in Utah in September, I hadn’t been to any of the three locations they offer races.  A great reason to run.  Visiting Salt Lake City was a load of fun.  Getting to see a beautiful area on foot while running a marathon was just amazing!  Downhill races equal faster races.  Better chance for a PR or BQ, or both?  Another huge factor for wanting to run these races.  They have a naturally higher percentage of Boston Qualifiers than most races in the States.  Beautiful vistas, mountains, canyons, nature.  Courses designed for beauty and speed, amazing!  They also have great bling, swag and offer a very generous cancellation policy.  You don’t see that in many races at all.  So many reasons to run a Revel event.

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I have decided to run the Rockies event in 2015.  Race day is July 19th.  I haven’t booked any travel yet, as one of my favorite airlines, Southwest, hasn’t opened up their flight schedule that far out yet.  Travel details will work themselves out in the months to come.  For now though, I have created a team, and would welcome anyone who wants to join in.  You only run together if you want to, but joining a team allows you to get a discount on registration in addition to liking them on Facebook (which gets you another $5 off).  My team name is “Running Down A Dream”.  You can click on the following link and be taken to the registration page.  https://www.brooksee.com/rdv/register?team=146952.   Let’s Revel Rockies.

Take a look at the great finisher medal from the inaugural event this year.  It’s huge!

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The Rockies event promises a beautiful downhill course.  Just look at the elevation chart.  I can tell you from experience, you must train differently for a downhill race.  Do some research, and find yourself a good training plan so that your legs aren’t wrecked post race.

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If you are anything like me, you base many decisions on what events you sign up for on the overall runner experience. You look at race recaps, online forums, and race websites.  Based on my experience at Big Cottonwood this year, I know the folks at Revel Races do races right.

Check out this great race series online.  You can read all about their mission, read runner reviews, check out the race course maps, and much more.  www.runrevel.com.

It’s all about the BLING…. Or is it?

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I’ve seen a lot of posts lately about race medals.  Bling!  The question I have for my readers is, do you run for the bling?  Do you pick races and run them with that medal in mind?

Some races have gotten really creative with medal design, while others have not.  I, for one, can say that I have never chosen a race based on what I think I will get as a reward at the finish line.  Sure, it’s nice to get a great medal placed around my neck at the finish, but that is not the reason I run, or race.  Medals with bottle openers, medals that spin or glow in the dark, medals that open or rotate.  Do you have a favorite?  How about the material it’s made out of, or the ribbon?

As a frequent racer, I have amassed a small fortune of medals, and am proud to receive each one.  I don’t even have an official medal rack to hang them on.  They just all kind of hang randomly from books on a bookshelf.  There is not rhyme or reason to how they are hung, but they certainly inspire.

Here are some photos of various medals I have earned.

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Now I want to see some of your favorites!  Show me the one’s that mean the most to you.

Show me your medals! #Bling

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Marathon medals in order. Myrtle Beach, Tobacco Road, Outer Banks, Asheville/Biltmore, Blue Ridge, Asheville City, City of Oaks

Race medals are a great reward for completing a race.  Who doesn’t love some bling?  To have a medal placed around your neck after completing a tough race is very cool.  These days medals are getting fancier and fancier.  Bigger and bigger.  The photo above shows my 7 marathon medals.  It’s hard to pick a favorite.  What makes a medal special to you?

– the overall design?

– the size?

– the race itself?

– uniqueness?

– colors?

Let me know.  I my favorite is, ah, I can’t decide.  They are all special for different reasons.  The first, the last, the hardest course, it’s hard for me to peg just one reason.

Show me your most prized medal, and tell me why.

Hallowed Half -Race Recap

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10/27-  Hallowed Half Marathon, Wake Forest, NC.  This event also has a 10K option.  This being the second year of this event, it did grow in numbers.  The Half had 273 finishers, and the 10K had 153.

This event takes place about an hour north of where I live.  With traffic being practically non-existent at an early hour, I knew I could drive there in about 45-50 minutes.  Unlike last week, when I overslept on race morning, this time my morning went off without a hitch.  Up at 4am, and out the door by 5:45.  The drive was stress free, and I just woke up feeling good.  As an aging runner, I do wake up every morning with some stiffness and aches mostly in my ankles and feet.  The joints just do not behave as well as they used to.  My daily regime of fish oil, I believe helps.  Anyway, usually within an hour of moving about, the joints loosen up, and race day it is very important that I have that time to get loose.

I arrived at The Factory parking lot right on track for packet pick up.  Sharon, with Signature Races, had a great set up.  Lots of parking, tons of vendors, and happy faces on volunteers setting up.  No line at packet pick up, which was awesome.  Quick, and easy.  Back to my car to relax a bit, and change.  The temperature was about 50 degrees, pretty much a perfect morning.  As the sun came up, the sky had a few wispy clouds, and abundant sunshine.  I got myself ready, laced up the shoes, and grabbed a Clif Bar.  I hit the restroom one last time, and moved to the race starting area.

This being a Halloween themed race, I would say about half of the runners were dressed for the occasion.  I saw plenty of costumes, face paint, etc..  I wore last years race shirt.  The starting chute was pretty relaxed.  Lots of folks milling about, and when pace leaders took their places, the runners really stepped into place.  After the National Anthem, we were off.  This is a very hilly, and challenging race.  Due to the fact that I ran this race last year, I knew more what to expect, and when.  I started fairly close to the front of the pack.  The leaders quickly disappeared after a few turns.  I settled into a great pace right from the start.  I really think that being a pace leader last weekend at the Bull City Half, helped me.  I learned a lot from that experience, plus conditions were just perfect for getting into a great rhythm quickly.

This course takes runners in and around Wake Forest.  Being a fairly small town, this means you get to see quite a bit of it!  Old downtown area, the seminary, the country roads and hills, as well as a lot of new developments.  Due to the nature of this course, there really was not a lot of spectator viewings.  Very little.  The aid stations were prepared, and gave encouragement along the way.  So many parts of the course are just really tough, and there are quite a few really long uphill sections.  Challenging all runners.  The hills really begin after about 4 miles.  Until the first big challenge, my pace was sitting nicely at about 7:30.  After a nice downhill, I got it down to 7:25.  I made it all the way to mile 8 before my Garmin ticked above 7:30 overall pace.  I really tackled all hills with a vengeance.  I was pleased.  Around mile 10, after summiting probably the toughest hill on the course, runners head into a subdivision, and then onto the “spooky greenway” portion of the race.  Filled with volunteers dressed as zombies, etc.., and plenty of spooky decorations hanging from trees and on the trail, even a fog machine, this is such a fun change of pace in the race.  There didn’t seem to be nearly the same number of costumed volunteers on the greenway this year.  A little disappointing.

Coming off the greenway portion, you head back out of the subdivision, and to a main road, which this time you get to run back down.  Passing runners doing the 10k, heading up the hill, I offered much encouragement.  My race was almost over, but they were on the toughest section of their race.  The last mile of the Half is a slow, enduring uphill.  Not a huge grade, but just enough to feel it in your calves as you come to the end of a 13.1.  The same couple of guys I was running around the entire race we fighting for position over the last half mile coming into the finish.  I got close to passing a few, but missed by just seconds.  I came in at 1:39:00.  I was amazed to see that I finished 18th overall.  I really thought that there were more runners in front of me.  Interesting though that I was within 10 seconds of finishing 4 spots higher overall, and that the runner finishing after me in 19th place was a full 2 minutes and 7 seconds behind me.  That is a huge gap.  So I was the last runner in the race to run sub 1:40:00.  My finish was a top 7%, and still 5th in my age group.  Male 40-44 is so competitive!!!  Overall I am very pleased, and beat my goal to finish better than last year.

My most prized accomplishment In this race?  Finishing a Half Marathon in under 1:40:00 for the third time!  Although this race was not a PR, it sure felt like one,  It was almost 30 seconds per mile better than my race last year, and the fastest Half I have run since setting my PR of 1:34:36, at the Goldsboro Heart n Sole Half Marathon on 2/4/12.  So excited about that!

It was a great day!  Completing this race, I was awarded the Fall Triple Crown.  The completion of three local Halves this Fall.

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The event medal was cool, as well.  A coffin that opens to reveal a skeleton.

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This was my final Half marathon of 2013.  My 9th this year.  It has been a great ride!  I feel confident going into this weekends City of Oaks Marathon.  Here’s to another week of fairly low mileage, and letting my legs recover for the long 26.2 ahead this Sunday.

Thanks Hallowed Half for another great event!  See you next year.

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Johnson Lexus Half Marathon

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Title sponsor for upcoming Midtown Race Series Half Marathon

First things first….

I know I have a marathon in like 17 days…yeah, yeah..

Before that however, I do have a tune up Half Marathon on my calendar.  The Johnson Lexus Half is a week from Saturday, on September 21, 2013.  That’s like 10 days away!  How on earth did this race sneak up on me so fast?

Thankfully I have been training hard for the Asheville City Marathon on the 28th, so this Half Marathon will be a nice tune up for me.  I really don’t have a plan of attack just yet for this race, as it really is only a “B” race.  Sort of a means to an end.  That end being the marathon one week after.  I will use this race to shake the body out one last time for distance.  The hard work for the marathon is done.  I have decided that the 18 miler this past week was my last long run on this cycle.  I want my body, my feet and legs mostly, to recover and be as fresh as possible for the hilly marathon.  I really don’t think adding a 20 miler this weekend will serve any purpose other than tiring me out, and stressing my feet and legs even more.  I have put in plenty of miles, and I don’t want to overdo it.

Over the next week leading up to the Half, I plan on running about 30-35 miles.  A few 8-9 milers, but more like easy 4’s and 5’s.  The nice thing about the Halves I am running this Fall is that they are part of the Triple Crown.  The race directors from each of three Halves I am running in this series, have added an extra prize/bling, to anyone completing all 39.3 miles.  The races are as follows:

Johnson Lexus Half Marathon 9/21. http://www.midtownraceseries.com

RunRaleigh Half Marathon 10/6.  www.runraleighhalfmarathon.com

Hallowed Half Marathon 10/27.  Check them out on Facebook

The extra bling for completing all three?

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A nice shiny medal!  I also earned the Spring Triple pictured below earlier this year.

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Gotta support local races!  I am so lucky to live in an area with a very active running community, and so many dedicated and supportive race directors.  Many, many thanks to them for putting on such great events that are so very runner friendly.

So, like I stated earlier.  First things first…before conquering the Asheville Marathon, I have the Johnson Lexus Half to mentally and physically prepare for.  Hoping for a cool morning, and a beautiful run on the green ways of Raleigh.

Q’s for you!

#1. Do you have a lot of great local races you can participate in, or do you have to travel?

#2. Do you ever run a half marathon race to prepare for a full?