Marathon 25 – 5 days away!

When I sit back and think about it, I am truly astonished!

The Quarter Century mark!  I know there are people out there who have run hundreds of marathons.  You know, those 100 marathon clubs, and such.  Well, with my marathon this weekend, I feel like I am really hitting a pretty significant milestone.

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The All American Marathon this Sunday will be my 25th marathon.  What began as a simple quest, pushing myself further than I ever thought possible, has turned into quite the passion.  It all began in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 2012.  My first marathon.  Races, places, I’ve been a few places since that first one.  My journey has taken me to 8 different states.  Of course I’ve run the majority of my marathons in my home state of North Carolina, but I’ve ventured out a few times.  ;). Tackling America’s Toughest Road Marathon in Virginia, enjoying plentiful neon at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas marathon in Nevada, running past Moose at Big Cottonwood in Utah, being cheered on twice by millions of spectators in Illinois at the infamous Bank of America Chicago Marathon, running high up in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and most recently taking a running bite out of the Big Apple at the TCS New York City Marathon.  Many, many more inbetween.

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Yes, the journey continues.  Still loving it, still competing, and doing more pacing.  I’m not shooting for the elusive Boston Qualifier this weekend, I am pacing instead.  I will lead the 4:00:00 group to a fun finish for my 25th this Sunday.  I’m getting very excited!  The All American Marathon this Sunday is a milestone to celebrate for me.  It also kicks off a new chapter.  Where will the next 25 take me?  The possibilities are endless!  Cheers!

How I ran to Marathon #20

I got a very peaceful nine hours of sleep last night.  A much needed rest from the total chaos of work lately.  Today, I’m off.  So, besides just relaxing and trying to catch up with myself, and blog reading and writing, I will try to get out for a run today.  After all, I can’t forget that I have a pretty monumental marathon coming up in the not so distant future.

My last marathon, the New River Marathon, was over six weeks ago now.  Plenty of down time, plenty of recovery.  Time now to really get serious and focus on the next challenge.  Yep, marathon # 20 is just 32 days away!  Just typing that is just unbelievable to me.  Twenty marathons!  Back in 2010 when I first started cranking out two and three mile runs I never would have guessed that this day would arrive.  It’s a pretty amazing achievement.

I think that because this running adventure I’ve been on is about to hit another big milestone, I have really started lately reflecting back on marathons I’ve run up until now.  Each one has a story, and each one a medal of achievement.  A momento of accomplishment.  My race medals are loosely displayed on a book shelf in my bedroom.  Hung over books.  Dangling from shelves.  Wrapped around nic knacks.  Some days I don’t pay them much mind, but lately I have been looking at them more.  They tell quite a story of my journey.

I trained, I trained hard!  I hit the starting line in Myrtle Beach in February of 2012 with zeal!  Unknowing of where my running journey would take me.  I ran my heart out, completely unaware of what lie ahead.  It hurt, and I could barely walk back to the car, but with a 3:33:24 finish, I knew it wouldn’t be my last marathon.  What a sense of accomplishment.  I felt like I had achieved something very special.  Running that marathon changed me.  I felt like a Super Hero.  I knew about an hour later that Myrtle Beach would not be a one and done marathon for me.

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My inexperience and lack of respect for the distance immediately took over.  A few days later I signed up for another marathon the following month,  I needed that high again.  Marathon #2 at Tobacco Road proved a big bust.  Thinking I was Ironman, I went out with the 3:30:00 pace group, and clipped away great with the pack until about mile 7.  Miles 8-26.2 I quickly learned to respect the marathon distance, as I cramped, and limped, and struggled to a 4:11:27 finish.  I learned a lot that day.  The most important thing I learned was that this journey for me was not going to be all about speed.  I needed more than that.  I needed to learn lessons.

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Each marathon that has come and gone since then has been a learning experience.  Gaining knowledge about myself, and this sport I love.  I continue to love the marathon.  Each one is unique.  One of the things about running that has really come front and center during my journey is that I not only run with my feet, but with my eyes.  I need scenery.  Views.  I haven’t run Tobacco Road again because the course is monotonous and boring.  It’s a shame too, because it is a local race for me.

Once I figured out that speed wasn’t everything I still struggled over the next few races I ran.  Why?  Lack of experience.  Lack of knowledge on how my body responds to and the correct training I need.  It’s all a learning experience that just takes time.  My next marathon, the Outer Bank Marathon several months later was run with Plantar Fasciitis.  An epic fail.  A race I should not have even run.  That 4:13:58 finish still holds the record for my worst finish.  I learned lessons in the OBX though that I still hold on to today.  I listen to my body more now, I train smarter, I eat better, and proper hydration will make or break a race no matter how fast you run.

Marathons #4 and #5 were both finishes over 4 hours.  Asheville was all about the weather (8 degrees with windchill at the start) and Blue Ridge is considered the toughest road marathon in the United States.  Of my four hour plus marathon finishes the Blue Ridge Marathon was my biggest success.  A monumentally difficult course, I almost broke four hours, and ran a great, and smart race.  That 4:04:59 finish I consider one of my proudest accomplishments.

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By this point, my marathon journey was a year and a half in the making, and that 4:04 in Virginia back in 2013 was my last 4 hour plus marathon.  Lessons learned, new skills and techniques put to use.  Live, run, and learn.  I ran my marathon PR later that year at the City of Oaks in 3:32:24, and followed that up with a 3:41:41 in Las Vegas two weeks later.  By the end of 2013 is when I truly felt like I had learned enough lessons to really consider myself a seasoned marathoner.

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So many more races have come and gone since, and I still am enjoying every moment.  As I count down the days to my 20th marathon, I say thanks for my health.  I revel in the journey, as every mile has brought me to where I am today.  Marathon #20 will be run in Colorado on July 19th.  The Rockies Marathon will be a stepping stone for me.  It may get me to Boston.  It may not.  It will be a new adventure, and the perfect way to celebrate my journey.  A journey that will continue for another 20 marathons after that one, if I’m lucky.  With the Chicago and New York Marathons later this year, all I can say is that I am so lucky and proud to call myself a marathoner.

Marathon #15

One week away from another Racecation.  My trip to Chicago!  A big marathon called the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, a World Marathon Major, and fittingly a major achievement for me, as well.  Chicago will be my 15th marathon.

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Yes, in just a week’s time I will be headed here….. Chicago’s Midway Airport.

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….and then a ride here…McCormick’s Place.  The site of the BOA Chicago Marathon Expo.

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…..and then here…  The Langham Chicago.  The #1 rated hotel in Chicago on TripAdvisor.

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As I enjoy my coffee on a beautiful 60 degree morning, I can’t help but to reflect on what a positive impact running has had on my life.  It helps me stay in shape in my mid 40’s, it keeps me calm, and gives me time to myself.  It grounds me.  It gives me goals, and things to aspire to.  It gives me reason to be out in nature and enjoy our amazing world.  It gives me reason to travel, and experience places I never would have seen otherwise.  It makes me happy!

On the cusp of running my 15th marathon, I look back on the first 14.  My first in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Wow, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  I ran an amazing race, mostly because I was a virgin and just gave it everything I had.  That 3:33:24 proved to be a hard PR to beat.  I had no idea then just how good that finish was.  My next marathon was a disaster, and had the most negative impact on me.  A 4:11:27 at Tobacco Road, scarred by injuries and extremely painful for the final 19 miles on the most boring marathon course ever.  I think it was here that I learned the most marathon lessons.

After a car accident, a broken metatarsal and much agony, my next marathon in the Outer Banks of NC proved to be, and still is, my worst marathon finish in 4:13:58.  I struggled with PF for almost 8 months.  I ran thought it, smart or not.  It sucked.  It was after that race that I figured out how to take care of my body.  How to listen to my body.  I took a month off.  No running at all from Thanksgiving through Christmas.  I began anew the start of the next year.

I ventured off to Asheville, NC and ran the exclusive inaugural marathon at the Biltmore Estate.  It snowed, windchill in the single digits.  It was beautiful, but I found it difficult to run that far while my toes were frozen, and I had icicles in my hair.  Another 4 hour marathon.  I won a contest, and got to travel to Virginia for what is touted to be “America’s Toughest Road Marathon”, the Blue Ridge Marathon.  With over 7,000 ft. of elevation change over the course of three mountains, I almost loved every moment still. A true test of grit and determination, my marathon focus turned positive again that day.  Although I finished in 4:04:59, I felt like the King of the world after conquering that course.  I was reborn.

That marathon, my fifth, was my last 4 hour plus finish.  I’ve run nine more since all sub-4.  That day was a turning point.  I adopted a catchphrase from the race, “You run Hills, I run Mountains”.  After that race I turned in times of 3:45 in Asheville, and then my current PR of 3:32:24 at Raleigh’s City of Oaks Marathon.  Too tough courses about six weeks apart, my mojo was certainly back!

Since then, I have traveled to Las Vegas, Charleston, Hilton Head and Wrightsville Beach, four flat courses (well mostly) in search of a new PR.  Hasn’t happened yet, but all solid races for the most part.  My Birthday marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh, now that one was unique.  I just wanted to finish sub 4, and did.  My family at the finish.  Priceless birthday present.  Then the All American, a run with the military.  Amazing!  Meeting Meb!  Wow, I have had some great runs.  My last was Big Cottonwood, in Utah.  Talk about breathtaking beauty.

They have all led me and my marathon journey to Chicago for #15.  Grateful for my health, and happiness.  Anxious for another epic run.

I love marathoning!

#runblueridge Contest Winner

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It gives me great pleasure to announce the winner of my Blue Ridge Marathon free entry contest.

Drumroll please……..

Miranda Byrd!

Congratulations Miranda!!!  You will now be able to register for the 2014 event for free.  How exciting is that?

Miranda provided me with a few details about herself, and I wanted to share that along with a link to her running blog for anyone that wanted to give it a look or follow.

Miranda lives in the Atlanta area in Georgia.  She lived in Memphis, TN for four years, and that is where her running career started.  She ran her first marathon last year.  The Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon, followed by the St. Jude Memphis Marathon just three weeks later.  Ok, just this detail leads me to believe that she loves a challenge.  The Blue Ridge Marathon will be right up her alley!  Miranda is very involved in her local running community. She is a member of the Douglas County Rogue Runners, GUTS, Atlanta Track Club, and Yeti Trail Runners.  She said she particularly loves trail running.  She loves her dog, and sings in her church choir.  You can check out Miranda’s blog here….  www.mirandainmotion.com

I can’t wait to meet Miranda next April in Roanoke, Virginia, for the 2014 running of the Blue Ridge Marathon.

Again, Congratulations!

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Blue Ridge Marathon Contest!!

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Ok folks, this is it!

Previously stated, and a couple of different dates were given, but I have been given the go ahead to hold my contest this week!

So, starting today with this post, my official race entry contest begins, and will run through this Sunday evening at midnight.  I will use a random number generator and choose a winner next Monday, and make an announcement with another blog entry on October 21, 2013.

You will receive one entry for a comment left on this blog post, and a second entry if you get others to follow my blog.  Please make sure to let me know on Twitter @RunningWild1313 if you introduce others to my blog, and have those people reference your name in his/her replies in the comment section on this blog post.  Your comment on my post should include the reason/reasons why you want to win a free entry into this race.

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The Blue Ridge Marathon is an epic event!  It is challenging, and it WILL challenge you to your core.  The event is April 26th, 2014 in Roanoke, Virginia.  It is a beautiful area, with amazing people.  The winner will receive one free race entry, on this date.  If you would like more information, please visit the official race website at http://www.blueridgemarathon.com, and follow them on Twitter at @BRM26pt2.  The website has a lot of great information regarding race specifics, course map, and elevation chart.

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That is me, after completing the event this year.  Happy as a clam, and thrilled with beating this tough course.  The journey was amazing, the views astounding, the race organization top notch.  We would love to have you join us for this event in 2014.  As an official Blue Ridge Marathon Blogger, I will be back again in April of 2014, and ready to better my finish time from this year.

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The very best of luck to all of you!

#runBlueRidge 200 days away! @BRM26pt2

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After the finish of the 2013 marathon. I’m still in one piece, and smiling!

That’s right!  The Blue Ridge Marathon is 200 days away!  Time to get signed up for America’s Toughest Road Marathon, in Roanoke, Virginia.  April 26, 2014 is race day.  You have plenty of time to train for this amazing race.

Don’t let the impending difficulty of a mountain race keep you from registering…. because this race is amazing!  And remember….

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I found this today, and it couldn’t be more meaningful in life, and on the journey that is the Blue Ridge Marathon.

Be fearless….  Be rewarded!

Registration is open, please visit http://www.blueridgemarathon.com for more details.  Don’t forget, as an Official Blogger for this marathon, I will be holding a contest on my blog in December for a free race entry.

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I’m so friggin’ excited!

#runBlueRidge Contest Update

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I recently posted a few times that I would be running a free entry contest this week for the Blue Ridge Marathon.  I am so sorry to say, but I was contacted late last night about a change in the schedule.  My contest has been bumped to the week of December 9th, so that there will not be two contests going on at the same time.

#RunChat on Twitter has a sponsored giveaway for the marathon this week, so we will look at this as a positive, and a way for those interested to become more involved in #RunChat.  Are you on Twitter?  There is a huge community of runners on Twitter, and it is a great way to become more involved.  “Meet” people from all over the globe who have the same interest in running that you do!  It is also a great way to learn more about races all over the world, and let’s face it, there are over a half billion active registered Twitter users.  There are close to 60 million tweets per day.  That’s a lot of people, and tweets!

I joined Twitter a few years ago, mainly just to check it out, and to follow a few hotels in Las Vegas, as I was planning a trip out there back then, and was looking to get insider info on deals, Etc..  Since then, it really just became a runner forum for me.  Kind of a way for me to pacify my thirst for knowledge about my favorite activity -running.  99% of who I follow are runners, and 99% of my followers are runners.  We can trade info on training, racing, etc..  It’s a great way to get information.  I get a lot of world news from Twitter.  You can really use it in many, many ways.  My Twitter handle is @RunningWild1313, so if you are on Twitter, give me a follow, and I will follow you back.  Hey, and if you are on Twitter already, follow the Blue Ridge Marathon, if you don’t already.  They are @BRM26pt2.

#RunChat takes place on Sundays.  It is a Q&A about all things running, that takes place at 10p.m. On the 1st and 3rd Sunday every month, and at 8p.m. ET on the 2nd and 4th Sunday every month.  Join the Chat!  There is normally a sponsor every week, offering a discount or contest for those attending the chat.  There is currently a 20% discount being offered this week by @KTTape on orders placed using discount code RUNCHAT.

I have been informed that #RunChat will be having a giveaway this week for #runBlueRidge, so my contest is being moved.

Again, I am so sorry.  If you have been waiting for my contest post, please hang in there with me, it will all be worthwhile.  Stay tuned, my contest is just being moved to December.  I loved racing the Blue Ridge Marathon this year, and I actually won a blog contest last year for a free entry.  So, someone will win!!  Promise!

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Contest!! Next week! #runblueridge

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Don’t forget!!  Mark your calendars….  I will be hosting a contest for a free race entry into the Blue Ridge Marathon starting this coming Monday, October 7, 2013.

Details coming soon.  Get your legs ready for….

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You wont’t regret it!  Easy for me to say, right?  Well, it is.  I ran it, I am a veteran.  I survived.  I live to tell just how awesome this race is.  Your chance to run this race for free begins next week.

You can follow this amazing race on Twitter at @brm26pt2, and use the hashtag #runblueridge for connecting to others that are talking about this cooler than cool race!

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Blue Ridge Marathon Contest Alert

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I am an official Blogger for the Blue Ridge Marathon which will be held in April of 2014.  We are 228 days from the start of America’s Toughest Road Marathon.  I ran this race this year, and have recapped it here www.http://wp.me/p3u1nG-i.

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If you want to take part in an epic marathon in the beautiful city of Roanoke, Virginia, April 26, 2014 the following information may be very enticing for you!

I will be holding a contest on my blog the week of October 7th, 2013.  Official rules on how to enter will come later, but I just wanted to make you aware that you can win an entry into this amazing running event.  If you don’t want to wait, you can always visit the official race website and enter today.  www.blueridgemarathon.com. The Full Marathon is limited to the first lucky 750 entrants.  I was one of the lucky one’s this year, and had the most memorable time!

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So, if you are in the least bit intrigued, I urge you to visit the Blue Ridge Marathon website for details on the race.  Join me and a bunch of other running friends and the entire community that comes out to support this great event in Roanoke.  Your journey to the marathon finish will be one that you won’t soon forget.  The mountains, the views, the challenge!  Feel free to share my blog with others that you think may be interested, as well.  You can also follow me on Twitter, at @RunningWild1313.

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Remember:  Contest rules upcoming…. One lucky winner will receive a free entry into the race!  Watch my blog for additional details, contest begins October 7, 2013.

Blue Ridge Marathon Photo Collage

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I am an official blogger for the Blue Ridge Marathon in 2014.  I ran this marathon earlier this year, and need to SCREAM out loud about how great it was!  I am sure 2014 will be even more fantastic!  Stay tuned for more blog posts about this beautiful race in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I took some photos from the event this year and wanted to share them, sort of as a tease for what is to come.  When you see the following sign, you just have this feeling like things are about to get real, and fast!

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Nervous excitement?  Oh yeah!  When you pick up that Bib, and race shirt, doesn’t it make you feel a mixture of emotions?  Especially when you are about to run America’s Toughest Road Marathon…….

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As you toe the line, you have to remember why you are there.  To challenge yourself, perhaps to a higher level than ever before.  To run an absolutely amazing race in some of the most scenic surroundings you may possibly ever run.  The views, the vistas, the mountains, will challenge you and leave you breathless in more ways than one.

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Wow! Just Wow!

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Mill Mountain Star

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View of Roanoke on your run.

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Breathtaking views abound!

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One of many, uphill climbs

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Bart out of breath? Not!

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L-R… David, Amy, Bart, Janie

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Me and my medal. Proud finisher of the marathon.