Discount for Revel Mt. Charleston Marathon

It’s hard to believe that the Revel Racing Series could find another perfect location for a downhill marathon and half, but they have done it!

Nestled just north of Las Vegas, NV (my favorite place btw), this coming May 7, 2016 will be the inaugural running of Revel Mt. Charleston.  Get excited!  Another reason to visit Las Vegas!

You can read all of the details on their website.  https://www.runrevel.com.

The main thing is to register while prices are at their lowest.  Under $100 right now til the end of January.  I created a team for the race, which means you can save another $5 if you join, and then another $5 if you “like” them on Facebook during the checkout process.

My team name is Chasing Boston, so search for that name while registering, and you instantly get the discount.  You can run the Half or Full and still be on my team, so choose wisely.  See you in Vegas, baby!

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2016 Revel Big Cottonwood Discount

Registration is already open for Big Cottonwood Marathon & Half for 2016.  Talk about a jump start!  The 2015 race was just a few weeks ago.  They open it early so that folks can plan in advance, and get in on the lowest pricing.

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With that being said, current pricing is as follows, and will stay at this price until 4/12/16.

Half Marathon $79.95

Full Marathon $99.95

My plan is to head back to Utah for this race in 2016 (since it’s one of my absolute favorites) and have created a team that you can join for an even lower price.  Joining my team gets you an additional $5 off current pricing, and if you “Like” them on Facebook during checkout they offer another $5 off.

My team name is “Chasing Boston”, so when registering, just choose “join a team”, and enter that name.  We don’t have to run together, but we can save money together, right?  This past race I had over 20 people join my team, all saving money along the way.

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The Big Cottonwood course is a fast, downhill race that qualifies tons of folks every year for Boston, hence the team name I chose.  So?  What are you waiting for?  Join in on the fun in Salt Lake City.  You may even see a moose or two during your race down Cottonwood Canyon.

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Revel Rockies Marathon – Race Recap

Time to summon the beast within, it’s marathon morning.  It’s BQ attempt morning!

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As I rolled out of bed before 2am, I think I had myself talked out of a great race before my first cup of coffee was even brewed.  I tried and tried to get my head in the game early on that morning, but something just didn’t feel right.  Most of the time when I awake on the morning of a race, I start visualizing.  I start feeling that energy.  I get my game face on.  So here begins the struggle within.

I’m not sure if it was the pressure that I put on myself was what was taking a toll or not.  I think I was feeling just some overall exhaustion, too.  I just didn’t feel 100%.  You know, it takes feeling 110% to run your best marathon.  I think it was probably a combination of the two.

I knew, and posted about this previously, that I was really taking a lot on by scheduling myself such a whirlwind trip to Colorado to begin with.  I couldn’t leave well enough alone.  I couldn’t just be satisfied running one race (a marathon), I just had to go and schedule a second one.  Looking back on it, more than likely it did me in.  Oops, I’m giving away the ending already aren’t I?  Well, it’s probably no surprise, but I didn’t get my BQ on Sunday at the Rockies Marathon.  There, I said it.  I’ve admitted it.  Now I have to own up to it.  Here is what happened, and it may or may not have had anything to do with flying for four hours on Friday, then driving for four plus hours right afterward.  Going to bed at 2am, getting up and pacing a Half Marathon on Saturday morning.  Driving another four hours back to Denver….  Yes, it kinda goes something like that.  My hips hurt, my feet didn’t.  My hips rarely hurt.  My ass hurt.  I just drove 8 hours, and flew for 4 right before a marathon.  A BQ attempt.  DUH!

And so it began…  With a drive to Bandimere Speedway in Morrison from my hotel in Westminster at like 3:30am.  Total darkness, about a 20 minute drive.  Smooth, right?  No one else on the roads except for other runners heading to the same place.  Simple.  Well, you would think.  It was completely simple until I got to the exit for the Speedway.  Headlights streaming into view from the other direction, lined up for what seemed like miles.  I was on the easy side though, with just a right hand turn off the exit, and another quick right into the parking lot.  It was dark.  There were too many cars trying to merge into one lane.  It took far too long.  It added stress, that just didn’t need to be burdened on a marathon runner before the big race.  As I past into the parking area, there were two buses on the side of the road.  One was being looked at by a mechanic.  PANIC!  See?  Those words rhyme.

I finally parked.  Still with plenty of time to catch the marathon buses.  You see, the marathon and half marathon had different times to load onto buses since the races started in two different locations at two different times.  We started earlier.  6am, to be exact.  At an elevation of over 10,000 ft.  This meant we had about a half hour bus ride.  No portopotties that I saw in the parking area, but still plenty of darkness.  I say I’m sorry to that 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix that may have gotten accidentally splashed with urine.  Sorry, really.  I got into what seemed to be a three tiered line for the marathon buses which were already going.  Within about 5 minutes I was loading onto a bus which clearly was going to reach maximum capacity before I could find a seat.  Note to bus driver…. Count passengers as they load.  If the bus has room for 65 passengers, count to 65, and then tell the next person the bus is full before they get on,  argh!  Of course this didn’t happen, and I am on the bus with about ten other people, all standing there realizing there are no seats.  We all had to get off, and of course, lose our place in the bus line.  Ok, don’t get me started!  I just tried to roll with it.  I got into the line again.  And we waited, and waited, and waited.

Once another bus finally showed up, I found a seat next to a woman who was also going for a BQ.  We chatted away in the darkness.  Eating oatmeal bars, and hydrating.  We had a great conversation.  I told her I had paced in Aspen the day before.  She said, oh, I know a woman named Jill that paced up there, too.  Lol, yeah, same Jill I drove to the start in Aspen.  Small world.

After a long and winding journey up into the mountains, we arrived.  We arrived at about 5:30am.  Just barely getting light out.  The sun was rising.  It was chilly.  About 45 degrees.  I made my way to the table to grab some throw away gloves and a Mylar blanket.  A perfect race amenity that surely was needed on a chilly morning way up high in the Rockies.  This is what I saw.

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Views abounded through the pines.  I knew right then that this was going to be a masterfully beautiful run.  I took these photos on my cell phone, and aren’t the best quality, but you get the picture.

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I stretched, and took in the mountain air.  With a slight delay of ten minutes while we waited for the last bus to arrive, I shook out my legs, my nerves, my bladder.

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We lined up, got my Garmin set and soon I was running.

I ran free.  With abandon.  I felt good.  Wasn’t feeling my sore hips.  Was breathing great considering the altitude, was developing a nice fast pace.  For me, that is.  A pace I knew I needed on the downhill.  Not too much, but just enough.  Comfortable.  I never felt I was going too fast.  I had overheard a runner at the expo talk about three uphill sections later in the course that would be a test.  I tried to plan for them both mentally and physically.  I didn’t want to pour on too much sauce too early.  Been there, done that.

The miles ticked by.  Taking in the views of the sunrise, the gorgeous mountains in the distance, the fresh air.  I was happy.  I felt good.  I enjoyed myself.  I was going after my BQ, and things felt better than I though they would.  I was positive and smiling.  My pace was great.  Five miles in at about 7:25 overall.  Not too fast like Big Cottonwood last year, I told myself.  Keep it even.  Stay focused.

8 miles in…. 7:35 pace.  Perfect, I thought.  I was feeling good.  As the course continued it’s downward path, I enjoyed every bit of it.  I spent a bunch of those miles hanging out with, and swapping positions on the road with this woman.  She had Boston in mind, too.  Luckily a photog on the course caught us in a happy moment.

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She didn’t get her BQ either, and I never saw her again when we hit one of the hills on the course.  Thanks for keeping me company Denise!  Hope to see you in Boston one day!

Somewhere between miles 10 and 12, it happened.  BQ hopes and dreams went up in smoke.  I felt the first twinge.  Then another.  Then another, and another.  My calves were starting to give me trouble.  They finally set in, and pretty much out of nowhere.  Cramps that were just debilitating.  The kind of cramps that set you off the side of the road, in pain.  Waiting for the pain to subside.  Massaging it away, willing it to go away.  Stay away!

They didn’t.  Unlike any other race prior.  Mind you, this was my 20th marathon.  For the next 10 miles I struggled with these damn cramps.  Off and on.  On and off.  Terrible.  I struggled not only with those, but also the voice inside me saying “it’s over”.  It was over.  I knew it.  When the cramps didn’t go away after a few bouts, I knew it was over.  Ok, wrap your head around just doing the best you can.  I tried to make the most of it.  Hell, I even took some pictures when I was trying to walk out a cramp.  At least I had great scenery.

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The cramps were relentless.  I adjusted my stops at aid stations.  Trying just water, trying just Gatorade, trying a combination.  Eating a banana.  Well, bottom line is that they lasted easily ten miles, the most irritating ten miles I think I’ve ever run.  Irritating because of all of the starts and stops.  Knowing my time was slipping further and further and further away from my goal.  It was just excruciating.  The agony of defeat.  A bitter pill, for sure.

As my time slowed to a nonsensical pace at times, it took everything I had not to cry out of pure frustration.  Was it the altitude?  How was I dehydrated?  Did I overwork myself the day prior?  Why in the hell was I cramping like this today?  The day I was going after my BQ?  Why?  Bite the bullet and run when you can.  Try to salvage what you can.  I convinced myself that I would not give up, that I would still give it all I had.  What?  Now my nipple was bleeding?  Bloody hell!  What now?  I did my best to cover the suspect at photo spots on course.  What’s worse than free photos with bloody nipples?

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I tried to paste on a smile.  Every now and then.

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Sometimes it worked, other times, well, not so much.

But guess what?  This guy doesn’t give up!  I don’t quit, and I make the most of what’s given to me.  And I’ll be damned, I ran that final three miles and never stopped.  Sure, I struggled for what seemed like an eternity.  But you know what?  I didn’t stop.  I will never stop.  I won’t stop.  Nope.  I know it will take the perfect race for me to get to Boston, but it will happen.  One day.

I made it to the finish on Sunday.  I ran with pride into the town of Morrison.  Not a soul passed me the final three miles of that race.  The cramps subsided, and I made the most of it.  I may not have scorched the finish line that day, but I ran my way to my best marathon finish of the year, despite the trouble I had.  It goes to show that part of my race was good anyway.

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I crossed the finish line in 3:46:46.  Tired, but holding on.  Marveling in another marathon finish, really, what can I not be proud of?  Sure, I didn’t get that BQ I had hoped for, but I still finished strong.  My calves did me in that day, but so hard to complain.  I made it to the finish, in one piece.  Breathing, alive, and mostly happy.  It would take a few minutes for the sting to wear off, but it did.  Looking back on it now, I wish I had a second chance.  That is such the perfect course for a BQ.  I know in my heart that if I hadn’t dealt with cramping issues that day, I could have done it.  It just wasn’t meant to be that day.  But, there will be more opportunities.  That is what I love about our sport.  The opportunity is there tomorrow, if you want to redeem yourself.  Really, the opportunities are endless.

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When I had a chance to sit in the grass afterward with this ginormous medal around my neck, my thoughts turned to this…. Where to next?

BQ Ready

I’ve done all I can.  I’ve run set paces, I’ve run hills, I’ve been eating better.  I’ve been hydrating.  I’ve lost about 7 pounds, and feel good.

That moment of hitting the starting line in hopes of running a Boston Qualifier time is quickly approaching.  I’ve already started doubting myself, but I guess that’s only natural.  If it will be, it will be.

This will not be easy!  Getting a BQ is something I’ve never been able to achieve.  Granted, I’ve really only ever realistically tried to run a BQ only once before.  It’s funny for me to even think of it that way, but it’s true.  I really only tried once before.  Last October at Big Cottonwood.  I went into that race just after being sick with bronchitis, and with aching hamstrings.  This time, no illnesses, fingers crossed.  This time no hamstring issues.  I came away with a 3:41 at that race.  16 minutes too slow.

This time I feel more mentally ready.  Let’s face it though, anything can happen on race day!  Anything!  All of the stars must align just perfectly for me to hit my mark.  My best marathon finish to date is a 3:32 at a City of Oaks a few years ago. Just 7 minutes shy of my mark.  I wasn’t even trying for a BQ.  The course was hard, but the weather was perfectly cooperative.  To this day I don’t know how I managed to run that fast on that course.  Maybe it’s because I wasn’t stressed.  I ran free.  I ran with abandon.

The Revel Rockies Marathon a week from today will be my 20th marathon.  It’s only fitting I make another attempt to qualify for Boston at this race.  It would be so sweet!

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I am going to give it my all.  If it all falls into place, then I will be as happy as a clam.  Not sure anyone will be happier than me on that flight from Denver to Raleigh later that evening.  I’m going to take it easy this week.  Yes, I have to work the next three days, but I have Thursday off, and fly to Denver on Friday.  I’m going to do some meditation, and try to keep myself very calm leading up to race day.  I have a few slow pace runs planned over the next few days, and of course, my shake out on Saturday in Aspen.  All the rest I have to leave up to chance, and how my body feels on race day.  I’m not an elite athlete, so it’s going to take the race of my life, but hey, I am an optimist.

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No PR, No BQ, No Big Deal. Run Happy!

Could this old guy be slowing down?  Well, lately I’ve felt like my fastest running days are over.  Does it have to do with age, or does it have to do with guts and determination?

I turned my focus this past week on speed work.  Running distance in this heat (91 degrees right now), can be very daunting.  So, a nice change to my training has been shorter distances, and speed work.  I’m testing myself, to see if this aging guy still has what it takes to pull a PR at any distance.

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My immediate attention is on a 10k in a few weeks.  I am not gunning for a PR because it’s just not that important to me right now.  I haven’t PR’d the distance in a few years, but I don’t run 10k’s often at all.  But the distant focus is on a pair of races this Summer.  I’ll still go all out like I want a PR, that’s just my nature.

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I have decided that even though I am going to give it my best shot at the Rockies Marathon on July 19th and go for a PR, with high hopes for a BQ, that I will also run the day before.  A Half.

Too crazy not to try something I have never done.  Only once have I run back to back races.  Last Summer I ran a 10k and then a 5k 45 minutes later the same morning.  It was a 15k challenge which I gladly signed up for.  So, I’ve done that sort of race double, but nothing close to what I will attempt in July.

So, I am signed up for the Aspen Valley Half Marathon on July 18th.  I will be a pacer, and hopefully get in a nice much slower than normal pace for me type of warm up.  The warm up is for the next day, running the Full Marathon.  Going for my BQ.  Will I achieve that BQ?  Who knows, but I don’t think I really want to skip the challenge of back to back distance events like this opportunity presents.

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There will be so many opportunities to get my BQ, that I think I am loosening the reigns on the BQ wagon this Summer.  I would rather have a fun challenge of back to back races in two beautiful locations, than pinning all my hopes on one BQ race.  Sure, I am still going to give it my all, but if it doesn’t happen at least I won’t regret passing up on the second race to solely focus on the BQ.  Boston is not everything.  Sure, would I love to go and run Boston one day?  Absolutely!  But at least for now, it’s not the end all be all goal.

I had to do some soul searching of late, and figured out that I run because it makes me happy, makes me feel good.  I run for the health benefits, and for the mind and soul cleansing it provides me.  I run for the beauty around me.  I think if I run solely with a BQ in mind, that I lose many of the reasons why I run in the first place.  I don’t need all the pressure, running is supposed to relieve that.  If I happen to have the race of my life and qualify, then of course I will be thrilled.  If it doesn’t, I don’t want to be heart broken and full of regret.  If I run a 3:24:59 I will be ecstatic, but if I run a 3:50:00, I want to be happy for the experience of it all.

So that’s it!  I’m running a Half, then a a Full the next day.  I will give it my all, I will enjoy and revel in both.  It’s a pretty big challenge, but one I am happy about.  Have you ever tried a crazy running challenge?  Back to back races?  Back to back to back races?  I’d love to hear about your experiences.  Please share!

#BostonStrong

Today is the day!  The biggest Monday in our sport!  Patriots’ Day, the third Monday in April.

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A little race known around the world, the Boston Marathon was established in 1897.  Back then, with 18 participants, the event has grown to 30,000 plus.  It’s The Race!  The race we all want to run.  One of the six World Marathon Majors.  The Big Six includes Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York.  To this point I have only run Chicago.  Later this year I will be adding New York City.  Maybe Boston in 2016.

Wouldn’t it be a great goal to run each of these six marathons?  For me, it would include some international travel, but would be so fun to partake in each of these events.

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Now two years since the horrific events that marred the marathon with bombs, death and destruction of lives and families, the healing continues.  The focus is what it should be, the runners.  I know I wish I was in Boston this morning.  I will be watching though, via live streaming.  I am hoping for an American sweep, of course.

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I would love to see this awesome guy win again!  Who will you be cheering on today during the race?

Race Preview- New River Marathon

Two weeks from right now I will be closing in on the finish line of my 19th marathon.  May 2nd is only two weeks away, and I will finally be running a marathon that has been on my radar for a few years now.

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Currently tapering for what will be a battle in the woods, along the river and over hills in quiet, serene surroundings.  I am SO looking forward to a small and beautiful race, a race where the only competition I will be competing with is myself.

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The past few years I have ended up choosing races that interfered with this one, so it’s finally my year to join the runners in Todd, NC.  I am missing the Blue Ridge Marathon, and/or Tarheel Ten Miler which are both running today.  I chose to run the half instead of the full for last weekends Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh.  All in preparation for the New River race.

There’s something to be said for big city races, large crowds and thousands of runners, but this race will be far from that.  Located in a small rural town in the mountains of North Carolina, the New River Marathon, Half and 5k is a small, cozy affair.  I’m already looking forward to the drive up there, and the small country feel of the race.  The atmosphere will be great, I’m sure.

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As I’ve said before, so often we run with not only our feet, but our eyes.  This marathon will be beautiful!

I have no specific finish time goals for this race, as it is not an easy race course.  My one and only goal is to enjoy the run.  The 26.2 mile run.