City of Oaks Rex Healthcare Half Marathon – Race Recap

I had the most incredible day yesterday at one of our local races.  The Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon and Rex Healthcare Half Marathon is an extremely popular and well attended race here in central North Carolina.  The Old Reliable 10k is also run, and is just as popular.

Huge medal with a spinning acorn in the center.

Huge medal with a spinning acorn in the center.

I ran the Half with both of my sons.  For me, this race was my 24th Half Marathon.  For my 18 year old son, his 3rd Half.  For my 16 year old son, his FIRST!  So, yeah, it was a pretty big day for all of us.  I had been looking forward to this race for months and months.  I actually signed up when registration opened many months ago.  Back then, February, my older son had just run his first Half.  Due to sibling rivalry, my younger son who was 15 at the time went out a few days after that race and ran 13.1 miles.  Why?  His brother had just done it, and he wanted to prove that he could do it, too.  I asked him if he would ever want to run a race at the distance, to which he responded, of course.  I signed him up just before his Birthday in April.  He would have over six months to wait, and train.  My older son decided a few months later that he wanted to run it, as well.

With varying degrees of training, as the race neared we were all excited.  I am a very lucky man.  To run a Half Marathon with both of my sons was going to be epic!  I wasn’t able to even attend the race expo this year because I worked both days.  My oldest, who is a student at NC State, location of the race expo, picked up all of our race bags.

So, with all of our stuff laid out for race morning we hit the hay on Saturday night.  Colton and I woke up early on Sunday, but the drive to the race is not really that far.  Just 20 miles to a parking lot at nearby Cameron Village.  We were to meet up with my son Dylan at 6:30am at the NC State Belltower.  The weather here in NC had just taken a turn this week.  With a cold front coming out of Canada, our race morning was extremely chilly.  And windy!  Race morning temps in the mid 30’s, rising to near 50 for a high.  The wind made it feel bone chilling at times, but it really was to be great conditions overall for a race.

We met up at 6:30, for the 7am start.

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All three of us warmed up, stretched and talked about our goals for the race.  I was aiming for a sub 1:45, Dylan and Colton both wanted to go sub 2.  I knew Dylan could do it, as both of his previous Halves were sub 2, but Colton would be the wildcard.  He is a dedicated sportsman, and stubborn like myself, I trusted that he would finish.  Due to his soccer season at school though, he just didn’t properly train, and because of that I just didn’t know what to expect from him.  As any runners knows, proper training is key, and race day can bring a wide range of results.  I was excited for all of us.

At about 6:45 the three of us made up way into the starting chute.  We decided that we would start together near the 1:45:00 pacer, and just see what happened once the race began.  Part of me was calm and content.  The part of me that was just going to enjoy the experience of running with my kids.  The Dad in me was nervous though, for both of them.  The starting line is quite the sight to see.  Right next to the Bell Tower on Hillsborough Rd., runners filled the street, and spectators were everywhere.  As all three races line up together the crowd was a big one.

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As the gun went off we made our way down Hillsborough.  The three of us stuck pretty close to one another for the first half mile.  Dylan went out in front as we traversed Ashe Ave., and Colton just just behind me heading up and then down the first hill of the course.  Not sure why I don’t have a crick in my neck today, because I kept turned to see where Colton was, while straining my neck to keep my eyes on Dylan up ahead.  A straightaway down Western Blvd., I overtook Dylan when I finally caught a good pace groove.  We were running at a pace of about 7:30 at the time.  Heading into the center of the city for a quick loop, I knew that the first really big hill test was coming up at mile 4.  At this point Dylan and Colton were behind me, and I couldn’t find them in the sea of runners anymore.

Boylan Rd. is a tough uphill section of the course. Up until mile four my right foot (which I have had trouble with lately) felt fine.  Going up this hill that all changed.  All of the sudden the pain was back.  The top of my right foot.  It almost feels like I have a stress fracture in one of my metatarsals.  It really annoyed me, and slowed me down.  As I crested the hill, my overall pace was 7:42.  I made it my goal to try to get through the next four mile section through the city, and not let that pace slip any more.  I knew that rolling hills from miles 8 to 11 would find me losing time, and knowing I wanted to finish under 1:45:00, I couldn’t afford to lose precious time during the relatively flat section through the city.  Winding through the city is always fun, but with each change in direction the wind would come at you from different directions.  Down Morgan, then Martin and finally north on Wilmington St. toward the Capitol Building.  The drumline is always a motivator!!

Running back toward Hillsborough I crossed the timing mat at the 10k split.  48:32.  Not bad!  I had lost a bit of pace in the city, but with an aching foot, I wasn’t complaining.  Out toward Glenwood Ave. S the real fun begins.  Down, the up, then down and back up for the next four miles.  Really an undulating section of the course, it will really bite you in the ass if you aren’t prepared.  I was hanging in there.  I stopped for water near mile 9.  The only time during the race that I took any hydration at all.

My mind was all over the place during this race.  A bunch of times I looked over my shoulder to see if I could locate my kids, but never could.  I found myself hoping they were having good races.  Part of me wanted to stop on the side of the course and let them catch up.  I had thoughts of my younger son getting a calf cramp on a hill and having to drop out of the race.  I had thoughts of Dylan doubled over throwing up in the bushes.  It was nerves.  Fatherly nerves.  I remained optimistic that they weren’t far behind me, and several times thought at some point during the later sections of the race that one or both would tap me on the shoulder, say hello, and then run on past me.  I knew that just beyond mile 11 would be and out and back section, when I would get a look at who was behind me for about a half mile.  As it approached, it gave me energy, knowing that I may see them.

My pacing was still good.  If I could keep it up, I would hit my goal.  I hit mile 11 at 7:55 pace overall.  I knew I could maintain it over the final two miles.  I made the turn at mile 11.6 and quickly affixed my eyes on the runners on the other side of the road.  My eyes were peeled!  A few minutes after the turn, A huge smile on my face as I spotted Colton!  I cheered him along.  Gave him two thumbs up!  I calmed down a bit.  He looked strong.  Then a few more minutes passed, and I spotted Dylan.  He saw me as well, and was pointing at his back, and shaking his head back and forth as if to say “my back is hurting, this isn’t my best but I’m doing it”.  There we all were, within five minutes if each other, making our way down the final stretch of the course back to the finish at the Bell Tower.

I was ecstatic!  What a fun way to end a race.  Lots of spectators, cheering and the finish line was approaching.  I knew that I would have to wait in the finishers chute to see both of them finish.  I crossed the line, hitting my goal.  I quickly had the race medal placed around my neck, caught my breath, and tried to find a spot on the side where I could have a view of finishers behind me.  Just a few minutes later I could see Colton approaching the finish of his first Half Marathon.  It was pure joy to watch him cross the line.  As he walked toward me a volunteer laced his medal around his neck and a big smile emerged on his face.  I gave him a huge tight hug!  He had done it.  In record time, I thought.  I was so proud.

It was now time to move out of the way of other runners.  We found a good spot, and cheered Dylan on as he then finished a few minutes later.  All of us done, all of us under two hours.  I couldn’t have been prouder.  Giving Dylan a huge hug and fist bump, we all gathered our finishers shirts, and found a place to relax on the hill.  We were all immediately freezing.  The wind was whipping around, and because we were all wet from sweat, every time the sun went behind a wispy cloud, the shivering began.

We gathered for photos, ate some food and tried to warm up in the sun.  Priceless moments in time that I will always remember.  I am so happy that I can share this wonderful sport with my sons.  It truly is a gift.  This one was all about family, and I was in my glory.

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Many, many thanks to all of the race volunteers.  Our hometown race is spectacular year after year.  Yes, the race is not easy or flat, but it’s ours.  Last year I ran the Full, and to this day it’s still my PR.  The Half this year, was my fastest half of 2014.  Not a PR, but a personal best for 2014.  Here are our official results.

There were 2,132 runners in the Half.  Overall I placed 233, Colton 329, and Dylan 414.

Our finish times:

Dad: 1:43:58.    Colton:  1:47:27.    Dylan:  1:51:01.

I finished 27th out of 160 in my Age Group.  Colton finished 20th and Dylan 23rd in their AG’s.

Pretty amazing!  Very proud!  Quite satisfied.  It was another amazing year at the City of Oaks.

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Family Affair – Half Marathon with my sons

November 2nd will be a special day.  A really special day for me and my two sons.  Why you ask?  We will be toeing the line as Dad and sons at Raleigh’s City of Oaks Rex Healthcare Half Marathon.  I couldn’t be more happy about it.

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This is my hometown marathon, half and 10k.  The race that is currently my PR at the marathon distance.  A mark that I set in 2013.  This year however, I chose to run the Half Marathon with my 16 and 18 year old sons.  I am not going to try to better my time from last year in the marathon.  In fact, I just didn’t come close at all this year in achieving that new marathon PR.  My best marathon this year was about nine minutes shy of a PR.  My goal this year is to run with my kids.

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I am not really sure what to expect come race day.  My older son has run two Half marathons to date.  This will be his third.  He has run his other two half marathons this year.  His first in Hilton Head, SC,  back in February, finishing in 1:43:10.  Then his second, the Mike to Mike Half Marathon, in Fayetteville, NC.,  in 1:51:50.  He is now a freshman in college, and has been trying to train, but hasn’t gotten in the necessary miles.  Not sure what to expect from him come race day, but knowing him, since the start and finish are at NC State (where he goes to college) he will give it 110%.

This photo is over two years old.  They are both taller than me now!

This photo is over two years old. They are both taller than me now!

My younger son (16yrs.) has yet to run a Half.  This will be his first.  He has been so busy playing on his varsity soccer team in high school this Summer and Fall, that he has barely had any time to train.  He will be the wildcard on race day.  He has certainly had his fair share of workouts, just not all distance running related.  He is hardheaded like me, and I know will give it all he has on race day.

Based on our varied training, I doubt that we will all run together.  I wish we could, but that is probably unrealistic.  If we all plan to give it our all, we will probably all run at different paces.  It will be interesting, to say the least.

How do you think it will turn out?  It will certainly be a first.  We’ve competed in shorter distances together, but never a 13.1.  All I know is that the City of Oaks is about to get a handful of us.  Will it be dear old Dad that arrives first at the tape?  Will it be the college freshman with a PR better than my last two Halves?  Will it be the High School Junior with something to prove?  Surely it will be a blast!

City of Oaks Marathon and Half- Raleigh’s Finest

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That’s right!  Just 100 days away today, our local marathon and half will once again provide some of the finest views on an awesome course.  

In 2013, I achieved my Personal Record for the marathon distance on this beautiful and challenging course.  Still to this day, I am trying to figure out what I did right that day to bank that 3:32.  This race is neither considered flat or fast, as it contains some difficult rolling hills.

When online registration for this years event rolled around, I knew that I wanted to go back.  I also knew that because I had already signed up for a few marathons during the Fall season, that I probably shouldn’t add another one.  I debated it for a few days, until one day the race offered a one day discount, and I had to make a quick decision.  My son actually helped in the decision making process.  Fresh off of watching my older son complete his first half marathon in Hilton Head, my younger son asked if he could run the City of Oaks Half, as his first race at the 13.1 distance.  Decision made!  Of course I said yes, and decided to register for the Half with him.  I want to run with him, pace him, and be at his side when he finishes.

I have already got him set up on a 16 week Half Marathon training plan, which he has already started.  He is excited, and so am I.  In 100 days, I will be toeing the line with my 16 year old to run through Raleigh and and watch as he has his first (of many I hope) Half Marathon finisher medals placed around his neck.

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Look out City of Oaks, this time it’s going to be a family affair!

 

Two Marathons/Two Weeks

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I’ve spent days in recovery mode.  I feel like I’ve barely run in the past week.  In fact, I only ran seven miles the entire last week.

It feels good to have some down time.  It feels good to relax, and let my post marathon legs and feet recooperate.  The rest is over though.

It is indeed time, time to get the game face back on.  Time to lace up the running shoes and pound the pavement.  I’ve got three days of running to do.  Three days before leaving for Vegas for another marathon.  Once I board that plane, the final rest before the 26.2.  So, until that time, I have to get in a few low mileage runs.  Some speed work, some hills.  Now that the muscles are alive again after the City of Oaks last Sunday, I must prepare them and my mind for another journey to the finish line.  That long 26.2 mile journey out in the desert in Nevada.  Sin City.  This Sunday.

I am excited, and somewhat overwhelmed by the adventure at hand.  Two marathons in 14 days.  I am up for the challenge.  Recovery is over, and the preparations begin.

Look out Las Vegas, here I come!

Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon – Race Recap

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What at can I say about my first attempt at this hometown race?  So much to say, so many thoughts, so much fun to remember.  I gave myself a couple of days to digest this experience before recapping so that it would all sink in.  Let me just say that first and foremost, it was just an incredible day!  Let me start from the beginning…..

Several months ago, when I started mapping out my year, I put this race on the “maybe” list.  As we all know, unless we shell out a lot of money at the first part of the year, a racing schedule typically ebbs and flows, and options are weighed throughout the course of the year.  As my plan was coming together for the Fall, I ended up signing up for the Asheville City Marathon.  It was a deal I couldn’t pass up on, because on National Running Day back in June, for one day only, the race was 50% off.  At that point, I just wasn’t sure if I could, or should, run another marathon in the Fall.  So, I listed this race on my finalized list, even though I hadn’t entered it yet.  I was offered an entry from a friend of mine, so this was an easy decision.  Done!  Signed up for my local marathon.  Cost?  $0.  Hard to beat that.  No overnight stay in a hotel, and a quick 20 mile drive to the start.

Jumping ahead a bit (we won’t talk about the minute details).  I will start with the Expo.

I planned on helping a friend of mine, if I didn’t have to work, at the Expo, which was located at the McKimmon Center on the campus of NC State.  As it turns out, I had Friday off from work so I volunteered to help.

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I drove up to the Expo on Friday, and helped out at the Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate booth from 4-7pm.  It was so much fun talking to runners about this event that I ran earlier this year.  I had to pick up my packet for the race anyway, so it made perfect sense to lend a hand.  If you are looking for an absolutely beautiful marathon to do in early 2014, think about this race.  It is truly a one-of-a-kind, bucket list race.  The booth was so well put together, very inviting and professional.  Kudos to Daphne, the Race Director!   We had a great time talking shop, and all things running, Biltmore Estate, and Asheville with runners from all over that evening.  Here is a shot of Daphne and the booth.

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I had to work on Saturday, so I spent most of the day on my feet.  Not really what I wanted to be doing, but because the City of Oaks is local, I could actually work, and not take vacation time during a marathon weekend.  Bonus to running local!  Work ended at 4pm, but instead of spending the rest of the evening on the couch with my feet up, I ended up being out until 10pm.  My eldest son had a soccer playoff game, which I had to attend and support.  Then a late carb loading dinner of pasta and garlic bread.  Once home, I did finally put my feet up for some much needed relaxation.  That is, of course, after getting my race morning gear ready, and the Garmin charging.  I got to bed around 11:30, and with Daylight Savings Time, got an extra hour of sleep, even though it didn’t feel like it when the alarm when off at 3:50am.

Race morning was here.  It was a dark, chilly morning, but very promising from a marathon standpoint.  The temperature was about 48 degrees when I got up, and was supposed to be around 50 degrees and sunny at the 7am start time.  I had my coffee, and stretched, and loosened up.  The morning went off without a hitch.  I was parking my car right at 6am, an hour before the start.  Some more stretching, and trying to stay warm, I finally made the half mile walk to the starting area at NC State.  I didn’t have to use the bag check, and it was just warm enough that I was only shivering for a short while before the start.

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The race starts on Hillsborough St., right in front of the Bell Tower.  Unfortunately I dropped my bag of Sport Beans somewhere during the half mile hike to the start.  Probably because I was trying to keep my hands warm.  I didn’t realize this until 15 minutes prior to the gun when I went to grab them from my fuel belt.  Gone.  There went my pre-race jolt.  I sucked it up, and made my way into the starting area.  I managed to get into a fairly open space, behind the group going out for a 3:30:00 finish.  There were tons of people there.  One of the biggest race starts I have been in without a staggered start.  The City of Oaks race also has a Half Marathon and 10k option.  So people were wearing different colored bibs, but we were all starting together.  The Half had 2,245 runners, and the 10k had 1,038 runners.  A big crowd!  As we all sang our National Anthem, while respecting our flag at the Bell Tower, I readied myself for the 26.2 miles ahead.  I was at peace, and thankful to be there, on a beautiful morning, in my State’s capital.

Having not run this race before, I had to do a bit of homework about the course.  The first part of the course, run in and around the city of Raleigh was fairly familiar to me.  I work downtown, so many of the streets that the course is run on I am familiar with.  I usually don’t run on them, so this was going to be a treat.  The later parts of the race are run on a greenway that I was completely unfamiliar with, but had been warned about the difficulty of.

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I wish there was a map that was a little clearer to see, but this is all I can find.

The gun went off after a 10 second countdown, and the race was on!  The sun was out, the sky was blue, and runners were everywhere.  I took off at a fairly decent clip, moving in and around tons of runners.  Heading toward downtown for a few different loops, one decent sized hill is tackled early on, then a good bit of flat for the next two miles.  I kept my breathing and strides in good harmony.  I felt good.  Coming off from my really good finish last weekend in the Half marathon, I knew I wanted to try to keep my pace around 7:30 in the beginning part of the race in the city.  This worked only for a few miles.  Closer and closer to the Capital Building, I started to hear snare drums.  As we made our way right up to the center of the city, there was a great drumline giving us a beat to run to.  They were awesome!

As I approached the 5 mile point I took my first GU, and continued on.  I made a turn, and encountered a really strong cold wind.  My nose began to run a bit, and I think I lost my pace focus here.  I was paying more attention to the sights of downtown, the wind, and my nose, and not focusing enough on maintaining my pace.  I crossed the 10k mark in 47:35, a 7:40 pace.  I wasn’t off by too much, but knew I couldn’t afford to let this slip a lot lot more on this portion of the course if I wanted to PR.  The downtown portion of the course was cool because there was plenty of crowd support for the early hour.  When we turned onto Glenwood Ave., there were even folks outside riding stationary bikes at a health club.  They moved the bikes outside to the sidewalk so that folks could get their workouts in while cheering us on.  How cool was that?  I loved it!  Turning onto Peace St., we headed down toward Cameron Village.  This area is very spectator friendly, and there were tons of people.  This is also where the 10k finish is, and the first of the marathon relay exchange points is.  It was crowded, and also uphill.  I lost a bit of focus here as well, but had to enjoy the crowd.

As we headed out toward mile 9, racers were finally starting to spread out a bit more.  I had to take a leak for about three miles, but the only portopotties I saw in the city was a set of two, and there was a line to get in them.  Ducking into the woods wasn’t an option, so I had to bide my time until the opportunity presented itself.  I guess it was at about mile 10 that I finally found a spot in a residential area that I could relieve myself.  I am not shy when it comes time to take care of business during a long race, but either spectators, course monitors or my respect for privacy got in the way.  I’m sure I lost about a minute when I finally stopped.  This didn’t matter, because it had to be done.  I was at the point of discomfort by then, and felt so much better afterward.

The Half and Full split comes just before mile 11.  At this point we turn onto the greenway portion of the course.  Once again, the crowd now thinned a lot.  Runners were fewer and further between.  I kept my focus at this point on a few runners up ahead of me, and just maintaining a good overall pace.  My Garmin had me at about a 7:50 pace at this point, and I was going into the tougher section of the course.  It was about a mile onto the greenway portion that I fist felt a twinge of a cramp forming in my right calf.  I started to freak out a bit because I haven’t had any cramps lately, so I knew my electrolytes must have been off a bit, or my water consumption wasn’t enough.  I took note of this, and promptly added an extra GU into the plan, and drank more water at each aid station.  I never got a full on cramp, but it was enough of a worry that I thought about it a lot over the next several miles.  The twinges would come and go, but I think I managed them well.  I hit the 13.1 timing mat at 1:43:27, for an overall pace of 7:53.  Not bad at all, but slower than what my goal was.

The greenway was great, but also the most challenging portion of this race for me.  The out and back section was about 13 miles.  Rolling hills, beautiful Fall colors on the trees, overpasses, tunnels, sharp turns galore.  It was tough.  Many runners were reduced to walking in some sections that were tough, but plenty of top finishers still were in tip top shape when they ran past me already heading back in the other direction.  It is at about mile 17.5 that you u-turn on the greenway and head back toward the city and the finish line.  I was extremely happy to be half way done with the greenway, but knowing that the glorious downhill section was going to be a fierce uphill section at about mile 20-23.  This I was not looking forward to.  The intermittent cramping kept rearing it’s ugly head, and proved to be especially irritating the closer and closer I got to the end.  I hit mile 20 at 2:37:57, overall pace at that point of 7:53.  Nice to know that even with my struggles, and fueling tweaks, I managed not to lose any pace for seven miles on the greenway.  That was just as I arrived at the toughest section though.

I really think that this part of the course is what really could have killed my energy and focus, but instead I stayed positive, and kept going. I refused to give up, I kept my focus on trying to PR.  I knew that if I could manage to run even if I wanted to walk, that I could be successful.  I did.  I was still under PR pace after the tough section, and finally began to see the end of the greenway.  I had done it.  I was about to hit mile 24, and back onto Hillsborough St., with only a few short miles to go.  Folks were really beat up at this point, but I kept running.  I kept going, I kept running.  My Garmin clicked above 8:00 pace, slowly but surely I was losing my battle for that PR.  I knew though that I could do it.  I found that energy, that inner spirit.  I managed to pick up pace over the last mile.  The crowd support was back.  Full force, people were lined up along the streets, cheering.  They would call out my bib number.  “keep going 462, you’re almost there”.  3:30:00 slipped by, but I knew I had done it.  Those last tenths of a mile were hard fought, and so worth it.  Seeing the finish line, and the clock coming into view was so special.  I hadn’t PR’d the marathon distance in over a year and a half. I was about to do it.  I was elated to cross the finish, cheered on by the crowd.  The clock read 3:32:39.  I beat Myrtle Beach!!!  A new PR.

I had a beautiful medal placed around my neck, grabbed a few bottles of water and made my way over to the grass beneath the Bell tower to sit.  To absorb the moment.  I felt good, no limping, no cramping.  As I watched other runners coming across the line I got emotional. I actually teared up, I was so happy, and felt so accomplished.  I had set a new personal record.  I really could not believe it.  This truly was lucky #7.  I have worked so hard, and felt so incredible to have the self imposed PR monkey off my back.

So now it’s onward and upward and most importantly, forward.  I have renewed energy that my training is paying off, and my enjoyment of the run is stronger now than it ever has been.  I know I have more in me, and that if I continue to set new goals for myself, that I can conquer them.  It will never be overnight successes, but earned successes.  That is what is most important to me.

As I continue to relish in my new PR, I will share with you a few stats……

I finished 76/770 overall.  (Top 10%) (in a marathon that is huge for me!)

I finished 7/89 in my Age Group.  (Thrilled with this, too)

Chip Time: 3:32:24 (a PR by a full minute)

Overall placement at the splits:

10k split: 85th.    Half split: 91st.    20 mile split: 83rd.    Finish: 76th

What these splits mean to me is that I hung tough, on a tough course!  I was consistent throughout, and finished strong!  I can only hope to do this in every race.

Thank you Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon for a wonderful experience.  The day was rounded out with a terrific finisher village.  Fantastic post race food choices, band, beer garden and lots of happy runners.  My post race hot chicken noodle soup, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and pepperoni pizza was just what I needed and craved after a 26.2 mile epic journey.  It was truly a fantastic day, and one that I will remember forever.  For now, City of Oaks is the new time standard I have to beat.  I am racing 26.2 miles again 12 days.  Maybe too early to set another PR, but I surely will be gunning for it in Las Vegas.

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I am already looking forward to returning next year!

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I Did It! A new Marathon PR today!

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Today was my 7th marathon.  Lucky #7, I will have to call it from now on.  The Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon, on November 3, 2013. I will recap this event in full by early in the week, but my news from today warranted at least a quick post to let me blog readers know how I did today.

I am happy to report that I achieved a new marathon personal record today.  I know I could have done even better, but struggled quite a bit with intermittent leg cramping on the second half of the race.  I can’t wait to see my splits, and official results are not posted yet, but based on the unofficial results, I came in at 3:32:29 today!  I was absolutely ecstatic, as this is a tough race, filled with many difficult hills.  I have never run this race before, but came into it with a lot of confidence based on my half marathon finish a week ago.  That confidence, and perfect running weather proved to be the winning combination I needed today to beat my previous best.  My PR for the Full had previously been set in February of 2012, so this has been a long time coming.  My old PR was 3:33:32 at the Myrtle Beach Marathon, on a flat course.

So this really means the world to me, as the difficulty of this course is so much greater than the course in Myrtle Beach.  To set a PR on a difficult course like this left me elated.  I was thrilled.  Still am!!

Now on to the Las Vegas Marathon two weeks from today.  I need to recover well, work on speed work, and hopefully go for a sub 3:30:00 on the flat course in Nevada.

My full recap will be up in a few days.  Time to celebrate!

Everlasting Memories

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My next marathon, and first time running my hometown event!

My favorite part of marathon running are the everlasting imprints, the memories that I am left with after the big day.  The sights and sounds, the way I ran, how my body felt, and that feeling of bliss.  Each marathon tells a story.  Every race day is unique, from the venue to the runners and spectators.  I love reading about runner experiences.  Every runner has a story, every runner has a history, and a reason for toeing the line.  The excitement that a marathon brings is different for all of us, and what we take away from it is truly life changing.

My next marathon, the City of Oaks Marathon is just 26 days away.  I am already mentally preparing for this challenge.  My body is trained and ready.  Having run a marathon just 10 days ago, I will be focusing on keeping a decent base, with a few longer runs mixed in.  I only plan on running two 13.1’s over the next few weeks in preparation for this event.  Otherwise, my training runs will be short bursts, pace training on hills.  3, 4, and 5 milers should keep me loose and not over trained.

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The race course is tough.  Touted to be easier than in past years, the course changed last year, but was still reviewed as hilly.  I’m sorry, but in this area, when you design a race course that is 26.2 miles long, it’s going to include a fair number of hills.  The Raleigh area is hilly.  I have run a ton of races around the area, and very few can make a claim that they are flat.  If you train on hills, this course should be no different than other marathons.  I haven’t run this one yet, but fully expect it to be easier than three marathons I have run previously.  The City of Oaks has to be easier than both Asheville marathons I’ve run, and certainly a walk in the park compared to the Blue Ridge Marathon in Virginia.  I guess time will tell.  I will be prepared for a tough race.

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I have quite the affection for distance running.  City of Oaks will be lucky #7.  Here’s to making more memories!

I can’t wait!!!

Fantastical Fall Racing

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The merry go round continues

With less than 5 weeks to go until the Asheville City Marathon, training continues along the right path, and sometimes feels repetitive like riding a carousel.  Last week was a shorter distance week for my training plan.  This week cranks back up a bit.  I managed 4 runs with a busy schedule last week.  I ran 24 miles total.  That was following a long run of 15 miles that concluded the week prior.  Today will start out with a 10 miler, and the week will end with a 17 miler over the long weekend.  Overall mileage for the week will likely near 40.  I am ready, I feel pretty good.  Except the the nagging corn on have on the base of my pinky toe on my right foot.  That thing is annoying as hell!  I have to dig it up, and cut around it with nail clippers at least once a week.  I just don’t think it will truly go away until I take a few weeks off.  That is not happening anytime soon.

My mileage for the month of August so far has been right where I want it to be.  Following 108 miles in July, I am on track for about 130-140 this month.  Before today’s 10 miles, my mileage stands at 94.  It makes me feel pretty confident in being able to knock out this extremely busy Fall schedule I have lined up.  It all begins with a Half Marathon on 9/21….

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Yes, the Johnson Lexus Half is now just 26 days away.  This is my next race, and final warm up to my first marathon of the Fall season in Asheville.  Thanks to some odd luck, and maybe the planets aligning just right, I am able to spend a few extra days enjoying the mountain city of Asheville on my upcoming trip.  Originally I planned on driving up on Friday, hitting the Expo, getting a healthy dinner, waking up the next morning, running the marathon, and then driving the four hours back home.  Now the plan is to find better, and more relaxing accommodations, and stay the weekend, returning home on Monday.  These plans are still up in the air, trying to nail them down in the next day or two.

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Be good to me Asheville!

Once returning home from Asheville, I will have less than a week to prepare for RunRaleigh Half on 10/6.  This is a great course in downtown Raleigh, using nice portions of the greenways.  Last time I raced this course, I finished in 1:40:21.  Pretty sure I won’t be able to crank out that speed the week following a marathon, but I’ll give it a good go!

Two weeks after that is the Bull City Race Fest.  This will be a first time race for me, and should be a lot of fun.  This event also includes a Food Truck Rodeo afterward, so how could I pass this one up?  Plus, I signed up for this race months ago when it was ultra cheap!  I’ve heard the course is pretty hilly, so it should be right up my alley.

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I hope they have bumper stickers to give away!

Just a week later is another Half Marathon in Wake Forest.  Another hilly race, and fun because it is Halloween themed.  Last year I ran this race injured, PF flair up, and I am looking forward to running it healthy this year.  The racing calendar closes out for the year with a bang!  A real one, two punch!!!  Two marathons, in 14 days.  The Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon….on 11/3.

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Hometown run

…..and then the last minute addition to my 2013 calendar, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon on 11/17!

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Downtown Vegas neon

I am so excited for each and every one of these races!  I am very pleased with how my body has held up this year with all of the training, and distance racing I have already done.  If all goes according to plan, I will wrap up 2013 in Vegas, with 9 Halves, and 5 Full’s.  That will exceed my 2013 goal of 13.  A real cause for celebration, and a great lead in to 2014.   I have my sights set on a few races already in 2014.  A Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon here at home on my 44th Birthday, another crack at the Blue Ridge Marathon, and a beach Marathon early in the year.  The rest will come into focus soon enough.  My concentration now has to be the successful completion of a great year of running for me.

How are you coming along with your 2013 goals?  Will you meet or exceed them?

Upcoming Races

Here is a list (not solid yet) of upcoming races on my calendar.  My quest for 13 Half and Full Marathons for 2013 continues into the Summer and Fall.  There are a bunch of options, but spacing them out is proving to be a bit of a challenge.

Image  Taking a trip to South Carolina next month and will do this race with my kids.  This is one of the top 10 biggest races yearly in the state.

Image  On recommendation of folks that have run this race before, this Half Marathon is on my list during a road trip to NY this August.  This race will put my Half/Full count at 7 for the year.  That leaves 6 more for Fall.

9/21 –  Midtown Race Series Johnson Lexus Half Marathon in Raleigh

Image  I’ve already signed up for this Marathon in Asheville, NC.  I ran the Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate earlier this year in March, and just fell in love with the City of Asheville, so I thought I would return in the Fall for the City Marathon.  Completely different course.  I took advantage of the discount they were offering on National Running Day!

Image  Running this race again, as it is a favorite, and I am friends with the race director Paula.

image  The Bull City Race Fest!  This event is on 10/20, and I am signed up for the Half Mary.  This will be my first time running this event.

I may run the Greensboro Marathon on 10/26.

Hallowed half  I ran this hilly Half last year.  It is a Halloween themed race that was really tough, but very enjoyable.  Not sure I can do a back to back Half and Full the same weekend.  Jury is still out on this weekend.

City of oaks  The City of Oaks is our local marathon in the Fall, and this will be my first year running it.  I work along the race route, and have worked the last two years on race day.  It makes me very jealous to watch the masses pass by, but this year will be a different story.

Depending on if I get all these races in, my goal will be complete at this Marathon on 11/3.  If I happen to miss one of the events listed above, I have a fall back on race, the Skinny Turkey Half Marathon on Thanksgiving Day.  I have run that race the last two years, and really want to reach my goal prior to that this year so that I can just eat on Turkey Day.

So, what do you think of this schedule?  It means either 4 or 5 marathons this year, and either 8 or 9 Halves.  Lofty goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the year, but I can make it, if I stay focused, trained and injury free.