Whirlwind Marathon Trip

The last few days are such a blur.  As I sit here on the couch on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I only have a short few hours before heading to work.  Most people I know are on the tail end/final day of an either three day or four day weekend.  Me?  Not so much….

I worked last week on Thursday night, getting home about 10:30pm.  I did have Friday off, so I packed in the morning and did various other chores before hitting the road for a 250 mile drive to Charleston, SC.  I drove south through pounding rain for about four hours before it finally quit and turned partly sunny as I was arriving.  The drive sucked!

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The reason for my trip was to run/pace a marathon the following morning.  So, my first stop was the race expo, which was easy to find and navigate through.  Since I arrived fairly late I couldn’t spend a lot of time there because I still had to find my hotel, grab dinner at a decent hour, and get some relaxation in before an early bedtime.  My stomach felt a little off all day, so I wanted something fairly benign for dinner.  So, after finding my hotel I did a search on my phone for something nearby.  I found a sub shop just two minutes away, and I ordered a plain turkey sub.

Me, in for the night back at the hotel with turkey sub in hand, I relaxed the rest of the evening before a 10pm turn in.  Maybe it was the bed, or the pillows, or the warm room.  Something just wouldn’t allow me to relax and fade away to sleep like usual.  It was a struggle.

I woke up early feeling good though on Saturday morning.  Off to the race site for early meetup with the other pacers.  It was a pleasure meeting everyone.  I felt good, and confident.  A full race recap will follow in the coming days, this is more of a weekend recap, so many of the details are going to wait for that.  As the race began, it was warm, and windy.  All went well for miles and miles.  Right on pace.  As a pace leader you can’t really let on when things start to go wrong.  It happens though.  Luckily I wasn’t alone pacing the 4:00 group.  My pacing partner Eric was awesome!

In a nutshell, the race was good, but I wasn’t, starting about 18 miles in.  I fell off the pace by a few seconds when I started feeling dizzy.  Race day temps were warm, so I took some extra time at an aid station to try to offset what felt like some dehydration issues.  My stomach wasn’t feeling right again.  I did catch up to the group shortly thereafter, but my race was never the same after another mile or two.  My stomach and GI issues continued.  I felt such utter disappointment as my group finally started pulling away from me.  I needed a bathroom, and needed one quickly.  My stomach was my downfall in this race.  I finished off pace, and truly was embarrassed.  I tried to shake it off, as we all know anything can happen on race day.  Truth is, I hadn’t had a finish in a marathon over four hours in almost three years.  I still haven’t gotten over it, but I will.

After the race, I drove the 250 miles home, where my son was waiting for me.  I spent what was left of the evening on the couch resting my aching legs and stomach.  I had to be up early on Sunday to work, and have to work again today.  Yes, talk about a whirlwind four days.  500 miles in the car, 26.2 miles of running, and all the while with stomach issues.  Not sure what went wrong, but my stomach is still not back to normal.  I’ve spent more time in the bathroom the past few days than I have in the past two weeks combined.  It’s really been tough.  But….  This too shall pass.

Onward and upward.  I am blessed that most of my marathons have gone my way.  Most without issue.  When you run as many marathons as I have over the past few years, I guess a bad one is bound to happen every now and then.  I’m just embarrassed that a bad one occurred at a race I was pacing.  I will say, I wasn’t far off my goal pace, even considering my GI issues, but I failed at my pace goal.  I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do, but as with anything else, time will heal my wounds.

Race recap coming soon…..  not all was bad!  I enjoyed most of it, met some great folks, and will return one day to Charleston to do it all over again.  Well, without the stomach issues, I hope!  🙂

Garmin Vivoactive Ready

You might have guessed that on my Christmas list this year, among a few other things, was a new sport watch.  My son actually did some homework on this watch, by Garmin, and asked for one for Christmas.  I got him one!  When it was delivered (about three weeks before Christmas) I got all excited like I had bought it for myself.  After reading up on it, I decided to put it on my list, too.

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Low and behold, Santa left me one under the tree, as well.  So, after much ado, as I have been given the label “TC”, or “Technology Challenged”, I finally have it figured out.  It took some time for me to get it all programmed the way I want it, but I really like it.  A lot!  I haven’t worn a “regular” watch in years, so it has been difficult to get used to, but I am finally adjusted to wearing it all the time.

My old Garmin has been retired.

I have now been running with it on about ten times, and it works like a charm.  It syncs up with an app on my phone, so I can look at maps of where I’ve run, overall pace, elevation changes, best pace, cadence, and the list goes on.  It’s really cool!  I’ve also enjoyed the step counter (I’d been using a different app for that on my phone the past year, but it didn’t track overall mileage from my steps) and the Garmin does, so it’s very nice.  I’ve figured out that an average work day, I cover about 7-9 miles, which is just ridiculous when you think about it.  The sleep feature is the only other feature I’ve tested out so far, and it does a decent job of showing me my sleep patterns.  Bonus!

So, my Vivoactive will be making its debut on the racing scene in two days.  I am heading down to Charleston, South Carolina tomorrow evening for the marathon on Saturday.  It’s going to be an awesome race!  I am pacing the 4:00:00 marathon, so it will be a true test of how well this new device tracks mileage.  Fingers crossed, I will let you know how it goes.

Happy running!

2016 Charleston Marathon

Less than two weeks to go until we ring in the New Year!  Yes, 2016 is waiting in the wings, and I hope it’s one of the best years yet!  I feel very fortunate to have had such a great year but I am ready to don my party hat and grab my noise maker.  Lets toast to another fun year of running!

Sort of a late entry into the game, I finally have a plan for January.  I am returning to a race I ran in 2014.  The charming city filled with southern hospitality that is Charleston, SC.  After scoring a coveted pacing slot, you’re will find me running the streets of Charleston in just 27 days.  I will be pacing the marathon finish time of 4 hours flat!  Of course, knowing this is a very important goal for so many runners, the main objective will be to cross the line in 3:59:59.  Break that 4 hour mark, right?  Big goal of so many!

So, if you happen to be running this race, stop by and say hello!  This is how I will be starting my 2016 racing season, and I am really looking forward to it.

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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!

Charleston Marathon -Race Recap

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As I sit here, and begin typing out this recap, I am trying to find the perfect word to summarize this event.  What comes to mind immediately is (WINDY).  Let’s see if that changes as I begin rehashing the events of this past weekends race from start to finish.

**I am going to try not be overly redundant, as I posted about this race a few times over the past few weeks, leading right up to an extremely brief recap the evening of the race.

First off, I just have to say that Charleston, South Carolina is fantastic!  I’ve only been there a few times in the past, and have never really gotten the chance to explore.  Although I became familiar with Charleston on foot during the race, I cannot wait to go back for a long weekend sometime to really absorb some of Charleston’s history and charm.  My friend Paula and I drove down on Friday.  The trip took us less than four hours.  We drove straight to our hotel, the La Quinta, right across the Ashley River from the peninsula of Charleston.  Our rooms were available for check in when we arrived, so we chilled for about a half hour before heading out to the race expo.

The expo was just a very short drive from our hotel.  Ten minutes, maybe, by car.  Maybe it’s just me, but when you have a race where tons and tons of folks are coming in from out of town, out of state, etc… please have signs posted outside pointing us where to go.  There were absolutely no road signs, and no signs on the building itself, nor inside, pointing runners in the right direction.  Luckily I saw a woman with what looked like a swag bag, walking on the side of the road, and asked her where to go.  She also offered to let us park in her spot as she was leaving.  Parking was not marked either.  Not a great start, but I’m easy, and didn’t let it bother me.

The expo was held in a high school gym, which was way too small for a race this size.  The layout of the expo was also an epic fail.  As this was the fourth installment of this race in Charleston, I was surprised by this.  I hope the race director improves this expo for future runners.  I knew two race directors for other races there, and they felt the same way.  The swag was minimal.  Just a shirt, and a very cheap swag bag to double as a bag check bag.  This was a pretty expensive race, for very little swag.  The shirt featured artwork by a local artist.image

The bib itself needs to be changed, as well.  I’ve read comments on this race from previous years, and it seems like no improvements have been made in this area.  In the photo above, I have the chip portion of the bib tucked under so you can’t see it, but the chip was attached to a tearaway strip on the bottom of the bib.  This was so flimsy, that I thought it would fall off before I even left the expo, and certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving it as is, while running 26.2 miles.  I ended up grabbing extra pins, and pinning the chip to the upper bib.  No way I was going to run a marathon, and lose that chip due to flimsy bib design.  Flash forward, I made it over the finish line with my chip.  Others were not so lucky.  Note to future runners… If the bib and chip are flimsy, find a way to make it more sturdy.

Aside from a few other races being at the expo to spread the word about their races, there really wasn’t much else to see.  The Wrightsville Beach Marathon was there, as was Hilton Head Marathon, the Greensboro Marathon and the Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate.  The race director for the Asheville race actually opened up 50 more spots for the previously sold out half at the Biltmore, just so that attendees of the Charleston Expo had a chance to sign up.  Very cool.  The Greensboro marathon was offering a $30 discount for a week, to sign up for their Marathon this Fall.  I plan on taking advantage of that, for sure.  *note to self! don’t forget to sign up before this weekend*.

We then took advantage of about an hour of free time before our dinner reservations to drive around Charleston and take a few pictures.  I was floored by the architectural beauty, and really enjoyed our sightseeing adventure. I will return for more details, and would actually like to walk around Charleston quite a bit, and take a food tour, as well.  Here are some photos of the area.

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We then made a quick trip back across the river to an Italian restaurant that came highly recommended.  Al Di La Tratoria was awesome.  We sat in the wine bar (no we didn’t have wine).  We sat down at 6pm, and by 6:30 the place was packed.  No wonder I could only get us a table in the bar area.  We didn’t mind at all, and proceeded to have an amazing meal.  I even capped off my meal with some white chocolate mousse with berries for dessert.  Yum!  Everything was so fresh, and tasted as good as it looked.

Back at the hotel, we were in for the night.  We agreed to meet up in the lobby at 6:30am, to head over to find parking at the starting line.  We thought it may be a bit of a cluster, so we gave ourselves ample time to get there, and be ready.  The rest of Friday evening I just relaxed, and tried to keep me feet up.  I got everything together for race morning, so that I could have a peaceful sleep.  Three alarms set for 4:30am, I actually slept fairly well.

Race day Saturday.  Everything went off without a hitch in the morning.  Oh, the one negative to staying at this hotel was that they offered no late check outs for runners.  Give me a break!  Come on La Quinta, get with the program.  I would love to shower before heading home.  Anyway, that was not going to happen, so I checked out, and met my friend in the lobby.  The quick trip to the race start was actually quicker at 6am, than the day before, and when we arrived, there was plentiful parking.  We had over an hour until the start of the race, so since the weather was cold (38), and the winds were blowing heftily at 20 mph, we sat in the warm truck and relaxed.

Promptly at 7:50am, I exited the truck, and headed over to the starting line.  Just a minutes walk away from where we parked.  Simple.  I didn’t have to shiver long, although I think I was the only person I could see in my immediate surroundings that didn’t have gloves on. The one thing I forgot at home.  Throwaway gloves!  Here is my view of the starting line just moments before the start of the race.

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See all of those hats?  It was cold!  Felt like 26-28 with the windchill.  The conditions would certainly end up wearing me down in the end, but I felt pretty good at the start.

The start near Burke High School would send thousands of half and full marathoners barreling down the first few miles along Fishburne/Lakewood Dr.  The crowd really didn’t start to thin until about a mile in.  There was a lot of foot dodging, and concentrating on not tripping yourself or another runner.  There were random pools of water on the sides of the street due to a quick moving thunderstorm the night before, which added to the madness.  We were moving though, the race had begun.

The fist few miles are mostly run along the water.  Very pretty start to this race.  I really enjoyed the sights, as I got into my rhythm for the run.  Miles 2.5 to 3 were beautiful, enjoying the sunshine on the water and faraway views of the area.  Just after mile three, the course turns left onto King St., the main north/south thoroughfare in Charleston.  This six mile stretch was tough.  Lots of wind, but also lots of crowd support.  All I kept thinking at this point in the race was that the crowd had just gotten up and came out to support us with a cup of coffee.  Many of these folks were still not showered, some out walking dogs, etc..  It was just about that moment that I found myself getting very jealous.  There I was still in the very early stages of a 26.2 mile race, and I began to smell bacon.  A very strong scent of bacon from a restaurant, just beginning a country breakfast feast for visitors and locals.  I became very distracted, and found myself wishing I was sitting down in that restaurant ordering my own big breakfast with a hefty side of bacon. Wow!  Then as soon as the bacon scent disappeared, I passed another restaurant, and more smells of, you guessed it, bacon.  Ok, I had to run faster to get away from those distractions.

Keeping up a decent pace, I was holding on to a 7:30 pace as mile 9 passed.  Just a short ways away, the half and full marathoners split, and the crowd lessened quickly. Circling back and under an overpass, we started heading southeast.  For a few minutes the intense wind wasn’t in our faces.  The wind was just daunting!  It was nice to have a bit of a break from it being right in my face.  This part of the course takes you back down toward the water, and eventually onto a pier for a quick out and back surrounded by the water on either side.  That was cool, but the wind was back, and turning back in a northerly direction to repeat that part of the course back to the race splitting point was where I started to lose some steam.  I remember it well.  I just kept thinking to myself to keep pushing.  My legs weren’t working as well, and I was really fighting the wind.  It was taking a lot out of me, and my pace.

I managed to make it to about the half way point in the race before my Garmin started to tick closer and closer to that magical BQ pace.  I was slowing down.  I couldn’t help it.  That 7:30 pace faded, now 7:40, 7:45, and eventually past 7:49.  I would have to maintain that pace the entire second half of the race if I wanted that BQ, but mentally I gave up right then.  This wasn’t my target race for the BQ, but in my mind I wanted to be able to last longer then just 14 miles sub 7:49 pace.  Today wasn’t the day, it was just too cold, and my body was starting to break down fighting that headwind.

Miles 16 though 24 were not as fun, as the course wasn’t as interesting.  More importantly though, I started feeling my lower body aching.  At first I felt it in my knees.  I have rarely been stricken with IT band issues, but started feeling my right knee aching terribly.  I haven’t had pain like that in a long time.  Then I started feeling pain in the back of both knees.  Then my hips.  I never cramped at all, as I hydrated well, and ate a half banana twice to keep going.  I had the hardest time.  My feet felt fine, which was good news.  My main focus now was to push through this pain, and keep moving forward.

I watched countless runners pass me, as we headed into an area of the course where there are a lot of out and backs, doubling back, seeing a lot of the same runners behind you countless times.  I struggled mentally and physically.  It was really tough pushing through the pain.  I wanted to tote along an IV drip with pain killers.  I was hurting.  With each passing mile, I found myself counting down to the finish.

The last several miles of the race are all run in North Charleston.  The wind was just as intense, but it was a tad warmer.  I knew I could still have a respectable finish if I could just keep moving.  Slowly but surely I was nearing the finish.  Have you ever run a race where you concentrated so much on your Garmin, and the miles just didn’t match with the course mileage signs?  My Garmin matched perfectly for most of the race until the very end.  When it matters most.  All of the sudden the last .2 on a marathon course becomes very important.  When you are ready to finish, and I was ready to be done, believe me, my Garmin said 26, but that sign was not there.  More and more spectators started coming into view, cheering.  Ok, so now here is the 26 mile sign, my Garmin says 26.2.  Wait, this should be the finish line, but it wasn’t.  Man, I was sore, and wanted to cross that line.

Finally the finish line came into view.  Finally!  I had to tell myself to enjoy the finish.  Normally I have a burst of energy at this point.  Sometimes I am able to really kick in one good last fight to the finish.  Not today.  I tried to force a smile, to thank those cheering on the sidelines.  I had a hard time even doing this.  It felt like a slow crawl across the finish.  Of course it wasn’t, but it felt that way.  My hips and knees were killing me.  I was never so happy to finish a race, and to have that medal placed around my neck.

I almost felt like I was in another world.  Not a happy world, but one where I was kind of out of my body, looking at myself.  I had done it, finished my 9th marathon.  A tough day overall.  The wind and cold had beaten me down.  It really sent my body into a tailspin that day.  I made my way through the finishers chute.  I grabbed some water, a flat soda, muffin and moved forward.  The finisher village was huge, and filled with vendors, and food.  I just couldn’t move through and see everything.  I grabbed a bowl of shrimp and grits (a brilliant idea) and made my way to the side of a building.  Wrapped in a Mylar blanket, a sat down in the sun.  It felt so good to sit.  I rested my legs for 15 minutes or so, relaxing.  That shrimp and grits were just what I needed.  That soda tasted so good!

As soon as I felt like I could get up without falling back down, we walked to the truck.  My friend had finished her race, the half, went back to our hotel, showered, checked out, and had returned to the finish line just moments before I crossed the finish.  It was time to head home.  So once at the truck, I quickly changed clothes, and we were on our way.

Results for the race are still currently preliminary, but here is a look at what I know at this point.

Gun Time: 3:48:38

Chip Time: 3:47:58

Overall: 231/1180

Age Group: 33/90

Gender: 182/618

Overall, considering the weather conditions, I am happy with my finish.  I wanted to be faster that day, but it wasn’t meant to be.  How can I not be happy though with finishing another marathon, just nine weeks shy of my last one.  The Charleston Marathon was my first race of 2014, and overall it was such a great race.  Every race is different, some harder than others.  The tough part for me that day was fighting against the wind, which ended up making me fight against a body.  My legs got me to the finish, and for that, I am grateful.

On to marathon #10.  As I recover over the coming days, the pain in my legs will disappear, leaving me with great memories of Charleston.  What a beautiful city, and an amazing marathon.  I certainly recommend it highly.  There are things they can improve upon, and I am confident that as this race grows, they will change those things to make the race even better.

Charleston Bling

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Race time 8:00am

Temp: 38

Wind speed: 18 mph

Felt like 26-28 degrees, or colder.

Course support: excellent

BQ?  No

Finish time: 3:47:58

Considering the weather conditions, I did the best I could today.  Sore tonight, but back home and relaxed, eating some well earned pizza.

Just wanted to share my results.  Full recap coming soon….

Charleston Marathon Eve

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Tucked away here in a Charleston hotel, I feel good.

Made the 3 hour 45 minute drive down today.  Had great conversation with my friend Paula on the trip down.  The topic?  Running, well 90% running.  We hit the expo this afternoon around 4pm.  Nothing spectacular at all about this expo.  Stopped in however, to say hello and get info from the Greensboro Marathon booth, Hilton Head Island Marathon booth, and to spend a few minutes chatting with my Asheville Marathon buddy Daphne.

We drove around Charleston, which is just gorgeous.  I really need to come back here sometime soon and explore.  What a beautiful city!

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Dinner at 6pm at local favorite Al Di La.  Awesome food, great vibe!  Did I say awesome food?  Yep, it was awesome!

Now back here in the room, logistics planned for tomorrow.  Relaxing and getting sleepy.

Tomorrow is the BIG DAY!

Race day details and recap coming soon….  I gotta run the race first.

Charleston Marathon- It’s GO time!

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Well, I guess all that’s left to say is that It’s Go Time!

The preparations are almost complete.  The training is over, and the running shoes are packed.  In two hours I will be jumping in the car to head down to Charleston.  A four hour drive south, getting us to Charleston late this afternoon.

Current weather forecast calls for a very chilly start tomorrow, about 34 degrees.  I’m hoping for Sunny skies for my 9th marathon.  I am returning to South Carolina for a marathon for the first time since the first marathon I ran a few years ago in Myrtle Beach.  Beach marathons are typically flat, and that is just what I am looking forward to.  I have trained on hills, and worked on speed.  I hope I’m ready to set a new PR.

First off though today will be a visit to the race expo.  My Bib # 676.  I am not sure how many runners are running the Full, but the race is not sold out, and is accepting registrations today at the expo.  Come join me!

I’ve got reservations at a highly recommended Italian restaurant tonight.  Al Di La, casual Italian.  It’s also Restaurant Week in Charleston, so they will have a special menu tonight.  Pasta and chicken will be on plate tonight. Then early to bed, because I didn’t sleep really well last night, and I want to make sure that I am rested for tomorrow.

As usual, the day before a race, I reflect back on my training and preparations.  I’ve done the best I could do considering.  I’m going to give the race my best, and just enjoy myself.  Adding pressure on myself by shooting for Boston has certainly been on my mind, but in the end, as the finish line approaches, BQ or not, I want to just enjoy it.

Marathon running is not for everyone, but I for one, love the challenge.

Charleston, Bring It On!  I’m heading your way!

3 days left!

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It’s marathon week.  With only three days to go, I am about to head out on my last pre-race run.  To shake out the legs, and envision that starting line.  How do you spend the last few days before a big race like a marathon?

I still have to work today and tomorrow, but have taken Friday off for the travel, and of course Saturday off for the actual race.  My friend Paula and I will be heading down to Charleston, South Carolina on Friday.  We have chosen a hotel only a few miles from where both the Expo and race start are.

Upon arrival in Charleston, about a four hour drive from home, we will hit the race Expo.  This is the fourth year of this marathon, half and 5k.  Hitting a race expo is always the moment of “holy crap, this is getting real”.  Walking in and picking up that race bib is an exciting moment.  Seeing your name and number on the bib is just the start.  Being amongst the other runners for the first time is exciting.  Everyone is relaxed, but tense at the same time.  You’ll see everyone.  Young and old, first timers and veterans alike.  The best thing about it the expo is that we are all equals.  We are all there on the cusp of running.

All kinds do runners, all shapes and sizes, will line up on Saturday to accomplish a goal.  We all deserve to be there, and to have that shot at achieving our goals.  From winner to sweeper, we all run for unique reasons.  To win, to finish, to lose weight, to honor a fallen hero, we all run for a reason.  That starting line on Saturday will be the same, yet different from every other starting line.  I love the starting line.  The excitement, the anticipation always builds as the clock counts down.

Whatever happens on Saturday during my race, I plan on enjoying the run.  Running to me is a way to test myself.  A marathon is a huge test of endurance and heart.  I love the feeling.  Whether I hit my goal or not, I always start a race with pure enjoyment in the forefront of my mind.  Charleston is a new race for me, and a place I have only been a few times in my life.  My eyes will be peeled as my feet move along the course.  I want to soak up the sights and sounds, and enjoy every moment with my fellow runners.  Let’s get out there and give Charleston our best.

Time to lace up one last time before marathon #9.  An easy 2-3 miles to day with thoughts of race day.  Only three days to go.

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Taper Crazed!

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Officially in full on taper mode today and for the remaining three days leading up to the Charleston Marathon this Saturday.  Don’t mind me, I am in a bad mood.  Steer clear, I am going to be a real dictator at work today.  Back off, I don’t feel like listening to your useless banter today.  I’d rather be running than listening to your petty gripes and complaints.

Do you ever feel this way?  Does tapering for a big race just mess with your moods?  I think it’s the combination of nervous energy that has nowhere to go, and a heightened sense of irrational behavior as a result.

I really want to run, but my body needs rest.  My feet are used to moving, but I must try to keep them still.  All runners must experience a varied mix of strange behaviors leading up to the big day.  For me, the change in routine is what really gets to me.  Sets me off.  I am used to routine.  Being off kilter is irritating to me.  The mix of nerves and calm without my normal way to relieve them is tough to get used to.  This usually results in a combination of me being more quiet, or just a general lack of patience.  Self reflection, thinking, planning in my head.  I usually become more antisocial.  Wow!  I guess I could be considered a real A$$hole in the days before a race.

I actually think I am better at tapering now than I have been in the past.  I now realize how the rest is beneficial to my body, and letting my muscles revive themselves before the race.  The longer the race, the more important the taper.  This coming Saturday is my ninth marathon, so I should be pretty used to this by now, right?

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Right now I am undecided as to how many more miles I will put in before the race.  I ran 3.1 miles yesterday.  The run felt good, but slow. Slow is ok though, I must keep in mind.  The important thing is that I got out there and moved.  Lucky or not, this morning the weather has not cooperated for a run.  So, today, I am not running.  Maybe tomorrow I will run one last 2-3 miler.  I’m thinking of taking both Thursday and Friday off completely, and trying to keep me feet up in the evening.  Taking the last few days off before a marathon has worked for me in the past, so I am going to use what I’ve learned.

The start of the Charleston Marathon is just 4 days away……

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As much as I look forward to a big race, tapering is tough.  How do you deal with the taper?  How long do you taper?  Do you find yourself in a completely different state of mind in the last week leading up to a distance race?  How do you keep yourself calm, and ready at the same time?

I think for me, letting my body rest naturally leads to more reflection.  Thoughts about how my training has gone.  Thoughts about my race plan, and how I plan on tackling the race course.  My brain works harder during taper than my legs do.  I guess it’s a natural reaction, and the best thing I can do to be both physically and mentally prepared for race day.  Excitement, nerves, bottled up energy… All things that should get me to the starting line as prepared as possible.  At least that is the way I look at it.

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Today I will try to envision running down the street in this photo.  Part of the marathon course this weekend.  It looks very beautiful, and quiet.  Maybe it will quiet my nerves and settle me today.