Bull City Half Marathon- Race Recap

This past Sunday I ran Bull City Race Fest again!  Third time in the four years the race has been running.  The only time I didn’t run it was a few years ago when I ran the Greensboro Marathon the day before.  Yes, I hated to miss it that year but I just couldn’t get myself out of bed at 4am after a marathon the day before.  My legs and energy were shot.  This year was another story.

Everything about this race is just awesome.  Tons of runners, nearly 6,000 every year running the Half, Five miler and 1 miler combined.  I was asked to be on the pace team again this year, one of my absolute favorite things to do.  Since I’ve been struggling a bit with my feet I decided to pace the 9:00 mile group.

I paced with with a great runner, Drew, who I hadn’t met at previous pace experiences at this race.  He was an awesome pace partner.  In 2013 I paced the 1:45:00 finish group, in 2015 I paced the 8:30 per mile group with my son, and now 2016 the 9:00 mile group.

Race morning was near perfection weather wise.  52 degrees, and just beautiful.  This race has always been ultra lucky with fantastic weather.  We lined up with our pace sign about 20 minutes prior to the gun.  As you can imagine, this group was loaded with folks wanting to beat the 2:00:00 Half finish.  I love a huge group of runners, especially on a hilly course.  Runners ebb and flow, and you get a chance to meet and talk with so many new faces along the way!

Our race was filled with ups and downs, as you would expect on the hills of Durham.  Such a great course though, giving runners a chance to see many parts of the city.  We kept a great consistent pace.  Constantly checking our progress, Drew and I maintained a pace of about 8:57 through the first half of the course.  As with most races, our timing devices were a little off from each other, and also the mile markers on course, but doing the extrapolations each mile, we were confident our pace was on target especially knowing how difficult and hilly the final miles are.

We ended up bringing tons of folks across the line with new PR’s, and many more just so happy to finish that tough race.  Pacing is always tough work.  My goals are different depending on each races expectations of how close to the target each pacer should be, and much to my surprise I came across the line with a perfect 1:58:00, 9:00 minute mile pace.  So difficult to nailed it perfectly, in fact I’ve never done it.  Most races expect a finish within a minute under goal time, but not over.  This one may go down in the books as the only perfect finish I’ll ever have.

It was a great day!  Finish festival with food trucks is always a bonus, especially when you can spread out and bask in the sun and also the glow of an awesome finish!  Thanks Bull City, and big thanks to Drew for pacing with me!  I shall return!

image

Bull City Race Fest 2015- Race Recap

The Bull City Race Fest is an amazing event, and was held for the third time in Durham, NC, on October 18, 2015.  The event includes a 1 mile, 5 mile, and signature Half marathon distance race.  It is truly an amazing event, that has gained popularity each year.

image

This race has it all!  It is very family friendly, and one that I would recommend to any runner looking for a world class running experience.  Everything from the ease of packet pick up and expo, to the post race food truck rodeo and relaxing finisher village.  The highlight though in my eyes, is the race itself.  The course, with all of its hilly challenges, is both scenic and exciting.

This race was both a recovery run from my Chicago Marathon a week ago, and my final longish training run for the New York City Marathon just 12 days away.  The perfect way to run this race for me was to be a pacer!  The opportunity to pace it didn’t come until just a few days before the race itself.  I quickly jumped on it, and signed up my son to pace, as well.  This would be his first time pacing, and probably around my 10th time pacing a Half.  The best part?  Pacing together as Dad and Son.  In the same pace group, pacing the 8:30 (or finish time of 1:51:25).  Two years ago I paced the 1:45:00 finish group, so I knew the challenge of the course, and knew that we could both easily handle the job.

image image

Race morning went off without a hitch.  Parking was easy and we made it to the starting line for some pre-race photos with the pace team members at 6:50am.  The race was to begin at 7:30, so we had a chance to stretch and use the bathroom and get lined up with our fellow 8:30 pacers in plenty of time.  A cold front had come through our area overnight, and we had unusually cold temperatures for race morning.  It was like 36 degrees, so we tried to stay warm until the start.  It had been so long since running in temperatures like this it was kind of exciting.  When the sun rose, the sky was cloudless and blue.  It was going to be fun!

image image

The Half Marathon had over 2,200 people running and it was obvious when we all began lining up.  It was a sea of runners both in front of us and behind us.  I think we had 6 pacers in our group alone.  We talked some strategy on how we would pace the group right up until the gun went off.  With a challenging course like this one with all of its hills, I knew I wanted to be a few seconds ahead of target pace.  The final few hills can be PR killers, so staying one or two second ahead throughout the race would leave us in good standing for the final mile.

The first few miles are crowded, and run through downtown Durham.  You get a taste of the hills right from the start.  We nailed our target pace though right from the start.  We talked a lot with the group, but it was also obvious right from the start that we would be pacing about 40-50 people and we were all spread out.  I think the most exciting thing for me was how into it my son was.  He has a few trepidations about pacing when we first talked about it, but after I convinced him that he had everything it took to be a fantastic pacer, he really warmed up to it.  He was very excited!  I told him to stick as close to me as possible, but the excitement of the race had him out in front of me a ways quite often.

The course continues on trough Trinity Park, and Duke Campus, hills abound.  With every uphill though comes downhills, and it’s a really nicely varying race.  Occasionally there were neat signs along the course, and chalk drawings and encouragements on the road.  Our group waxed and waned, but our pace was right on the mark.  It was such an enjoyable run.  Offering words of encouragement to runners as they passed me, or encouraging every runner up the numerous hills.  The weather was so cooperative that I never felt like I needed to stop for hydration along the course.  I did, however use my GU’s at miles 5 and 10.

As the final mile approached and we were nearing the finish I started turning and running backwards to encourage runners behind me to push hard and pass me.  My son and I met up side by side with about a half mile remaining.  I wanted to be as close to the target of 8:30 as possible without going over so I ran backwards for pretty much the majority of the final tenth of a mile.  I have so much fun getting those racers to the finish!  Pacing is a truly awesome way to pay it forward.

I crossed the finish line in 1:51:14.  Eleven seconds under our pace goal.  Perfect!  My son finished about 45 seconds under the goal, so we were both within a minute under.  After the finish we were stopped numerous times and thanked for our pacing efforts.  I know several runners even had personal bests on that tough course, so it’s super satisfying to me.

image image image image image image image

The post race village is amazing, and absolutely packed with runners and families.  Food trucks all over, lots of refreshments and food.  It was the perfect day for relaxing and relishing in a victory of the course.  Durham is such a fun happening city.  Relaxing on the lawn in front of the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) was so much easier after we ran back to the car to change out of wet shirts and grab a jacket.  It was chilly!  Well, it felt down right cold to me.  A few more photos on the lawn to commemorate our accomplishment, and a visit to the Baguettaboutit Food Truck before we called it a day and headed home.  Don’t ask me how, but I knew about ten people racing that day and managed to not bump into any of them after the race.  A bit of a disappointment, but there will be other races to meet up.  I had the best time with my son pacing that day.  I only hope the opportunity comes up again sometime.

A Unique Opportunity

Every now and then something really special happens.  Something that just doesn’t happen every day.  This coming weekend one of those moments in time will occur for me.

Most of you know that I love to pace races.  I will be pacing a marathon for the first time in 2016.  I’ve had opportunities to do this in the past, but have just not jumped at it.  Half marathons though are another story.  I think I’ve paced somewhere around 10 Halves over the past few years.  It’s such a fun way to give back to my fellow runners and the running community in general.

image

The unique opportunity that I am talking about is kinda cool.  This Sunday, at the Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon, site of my first pacing experience a few years ago, my son and I will BOTH be pacing.  We are pacing together!  Father and son.  We are pacing the 8:30 per mile pace group.

This will be my sons first pacing job.  I cannot wait, it is going to be so much fun.  Pacing together will give us the unique opportunity to run side by side for the entire 13.1 miles.  Normally he is out in front of me, or he is running a Half and I am running a Full.  This time we get to run together, be vocal, and help our fellow runners get to the finish line.  Talk about a unique opportunity!  Thanks to Bull City!  These race photos should be really great!

Oh, and I haven’t forgotten about a recap for the Chicago Marathon.  I have been gathering my thoughts for a few days, and as soon as I have enough time to write them all out I will.  Just a small teaser though, it was another fantastic time in Chicago.  An amazing race of epic proportions.  If you haven’t, you’ve got to put Chicago on your race calendar!

My Fall 2015 Race Calendar

This Summer has been a mixed bag.  Some great runs, some not so great.  I guess that happens a lot in the summertime, at least it does for me.   I can never make any wild predictions on how my training runs will go, and it’s all based on the weather.  Hot and muggy, Steamy and boiling.  Sunny and humid.  They all sound equally tough, but typically make me stronger for the Fall race season.

I have six races planned between now and the end of 2015.  Two major races, both marathons.  Four, run for fun, pace for others Half Marathons.  This is how it will play out.

1st up…  9/13, and the Run & Ride Half Marathon at Carowinds Amusement Park.

image

This is a new pacing gig for me.  Pacing once again for Beast Pacing.  Target time of 1:50:00. My goal is to come to the finish within 45 seconds under my goal.  Just put a hotel room on hold last night, hoping to take my 17 year old son with me to ride some coasters after the race!

Next up, just six short days later on 9/19, is the Marine Corps Half Marathon.  This time I will be taking my 19 year old son with me, leaving bright and early on a Saturday morning for a 2+ hour car ride to the race location.  This race is run on the Marine Corps base Camp LeJeune.  It’s the first time I’ve had to provide my drivers license number, make and model, tag #, and insurance info for my car during registration.  They need all that info to expedite parking on base.  This should be a fun race, very military pride-filled, and inspiring.  Last year about 1,000 runners signed up, so it should be a good size field of runners.

image image

Taper time!  After a few Halves in mid September, I will concentrate on my next race.  Chicago!  Running the Chicago Marathon for the second year in a row!  I couldn’t be more excited.  My only goals are to equal or better my time from last year, and enjoy the crowds!  This year I will be wearing my name on my shirt!

image

Six days after Chicago, I am pacing another Half Marathon.  This time closer to home.  I will be pacing the 1:55:00 Half at Greensboro.  Loved the tough course last year when I ran the marathon!  This time around only half the distance.

image

Ok, so I do have a few challenges this Fall.  The day after Greensboro, on hopefully not too tired legs, I am running a Half again.  This time in Durham.  The Bull City Race Fast.  No time goals other than to beat 1:55:00.  Should be a piece of cake.  And maybe a piece of cake after the race from one of the food trucks!  This is a great event that I had to skip last year because of running Chicago and Greensboro marathons six days apart.  I was actually signed up to run it last year, but just didn’t have the legs left to even attempt it.

image

All racing done now for the year?  Nope!  Insert another taper here.  The next two weeks after 10/19 will be total relaxation.  Letting my legs recover, and heal.  All for the epic event known as…..

image

Yes, I will cap off my 2015 racing year with an epic run through the five boroughs of New York City on November 1st.  This really is the race of the year for me.  This is the race that I have been fundraising for for months now.  It’s getting to be crunch time, and I still need help.  I really had hoped to have raised all of the $3,000 that I pledged to the James Blake Foundation before the end of the Summer.

As of today, I have raised over $1,600, but need for every one of my readers to dig deep into their pockets.  Will you please help my charity?  $10, $20, $50?  $100?  All monies go toward advancing cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City.  Surely someone you know has been either directly or indirectly impacted by cancer.  Let’s honor those that have lost the fight to this disease, and to help those that are currently battling cancer.  Please give today.

You can click on the following link that will take you directly to my fundraising page on Crowdrise where you can make your charitable contribution now.

Thank you for you help, and I hope you have a fantastic Fall racing season.  I hope you have as much run running as I plan on having.

#RunBullCity – Bull City Race Fest Discount Code

Just wanted to take a moment and spread some hype about a great local race.  The Bull City Race Fest is taking place this year on October 18th, in downtown Durham, NC.  This race festival includes a family friendly 1 mile run, an awesome 5 mile run, and the ever popular Half Marathon.

An amazing Food Truck Rodeo greets runners at the finish line.  And let me just say that the race course is beautiful!  Challenging, but gorgeous!

I have a friends and family discount to offer when you sign up.  Save $5 by entering code “USB13” at checkout.  Check out the race website at https://www.bullcityracefest.com.

image

Join in me this Fall at one of our areas most amazing races!  Follow them on Twitter at @BullCityRace.

are you #UnStoppaBull?  Prove it this Fall!

image

Tarheel 10 Miler – Race Recap

Image

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the location of this amazing race.  By car, this race is about 55 miles from my house.  I have never run it before, and have to ask myself why.  It was an amazing day, incredible race and had an awesome community feel about it.

image

The Triangle region of NC, encompasses Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.  Geographically forming the shape of a triangle, this area has grown and grown the past 30 years.  In large part, this is due to the Research Triangle Park.  I moved here for work 15 years ago, and have never regretted it.  Chapel Hill is the furthest of the major cities here from where I live.  Maybe that is the reason why I haven’t yet run this race.  I guess it’s that, and the fact that I have run other races in years past on the day of this event.  Last year, for example, the Tarheel Ten Miler was on the same day as the Blue Ridge Marathon which I ran in Roanoke, VA.

Deciding to give this race a chance this year, I was thoroughly impressed.  My only pet peeve about the race was that they do not offer race morning packet pick up.  That is something that is really annoying to me.  I won’t banter on and on about it, but caused me to have to drive an extra 80 miles yesterday, and spend an additional two hours in the car.  Not a fan of that.  I really think that this race could reach a broader runner participation if they offered same day bib pick up.  My two cents.

With that said, parking was a complete breeze on the campus of UNC.  I did get held up in traffic for about 15 minutes, but I left myself plenty of time for traffic tie ups, so it wasn’t a big deal or have any impact on my race.  I arrived at a parking lot at 6:25am, for the 7:30 start.  Plenty of time to relax, hydrate and make my way through campus to the bell tower where the start of the race was located.

Folks lined up in two lanes.  There is also a 4 mile race, so those folks lined up on the opposite side of the street from us.  After our National Anthem, the 4 miles took off.  Five minutes prior to the 10 mile race.  We started right on time, and made our way through the beautiful campus and streets of a Chapel Hill.  A rolling course, there were certainly challenges.  Many hills, and difficult ones to boot.  Portions of this course reminded me of the Blue Ridge Marathon course, so I tried to summon thoughts from last year to help get me over the hills.

image

There were 6,200 runners signed up for the two races combined.  The course spread out quickly, and it just didn’t ever feel like there were that many people running.  That is a good thing.  I tried to run my race, and not anyone else’s.  This was very important to me today, as the size of the field could have influenced my pace quite a bit.  I didn’t let it happen.  I actually went out a bit slower than I usually do, but I didn’t have any time goals established in my head other than wanting to be faster than an 8:30 per mile pace.  You see, I was trying to take it easy on myself, and my aching hamstrings.  I have a marathon next weekend, so this race I was just considering my final long run.  No need to hurry, right?  It would be a PR regardless since I had never raced this distance before.  I knew I couldn’t go wrong, other than overdoing it.  I made my way.

I actually didn’t feel that loose this morning, and struggled with stomach issues before I left the house.  I really wasn’t feeling that great those first few miles.  I was instantly amazed though by how pretty the course was.  I’ve never spent much time on the campus at all, so it was really all new to me.  It was beautiful!  We are in full on Spring mode, too, so blooms abounded.  Leaves on all the trees filling in nicely, azaleas in full bloom, dogwoods everywhere.  It was just an amazingly pretty day to run, with clear blue skies, as well.  Temps were in the low to mid 50’s when the race began.

After the 5k mark, I started getting looser.  I guess I was just easing into the race, and not letting anything bother me.  Due to the amount of runners, there was always someone I was passing, or someone passing me.  I got used to it quick.  It’s not like I was out there to win the race, or even try to place in my age group.  I was trying to treat this race like a training run.  I was succeeding.  The course was ultra challenging with hills.  I kept even pace.  At the half way point, I had to remind myself that I wasn’t running a marathon.  I could try to maintain my early pace longer, and probably get away with it.  It’s just been so long since I’ve run a race under 26.2 miles, that this was kind of new territory for me.  Plus the new race distance.  I felt like I was staying competitive, and getting in a good run.

At about the seven mile mark, I started to think about the challenging finish.  It’s called Laurel Hill, and is extremely challenging.  That stretch has gained notoriety for the difficulty of it.  The race actually puts a timing mat at the start of it, and at the end of it, and awards bragging rights for those that conquer it the fastest.  I don’t have my result on that split time yet.  As I got closer to it, I think it was less intimidating to me because I have run some mountainous races like Blue Ridge.  I was hard, don’t get me wrong, but I certainly never walked.  Many people did, or at least took walk breaks.  I passed many folks on this challenging uphill finishing section.

image image image

Just after Laurel Hill, is the finish.  A short distance now, with a little weaving into Kenan Stadium, where UNC Football is played.  The finish line comes into view, and it’s a sprint to the finish in front of the crowds of spectators.  It was totally cool to finish in the stadium.  I gave it my best.  I crossed the line, feeling really good.  Happy with my pace, happy with how my hamstrings held up.

Gun Time 1:18:21

Chip Time 1:18:01

Overall pace of 7:48 ( very pleased)

As of right now, results are not final.  My preliminary results show me at 377/3797 overall, and 50/244 in AG.  Top 10% finish for a new race, and new distance?  Yep, very happy with that.  I filed around the stadium with other runners, picking up water, banana, pretzels and gummi bears.  Snacks and water were plentiful.  The medal is totally cool, and very unique.  Let me know what you think of it!

image image

Overall it really was an amazing event.  So smooth, well organized.  Even though there were 6,000 plus signed up, I never felt too crowded, or rushed.  It was a nearly perfect day in a Chapel Hill today, and a race to remember.  I walked away today, not sore, not limping, and feeling pretty fresh.  I didn’t leave it all on the course today, but that was never my intent.  I feel like I got a good run in, among thousands of my running friends, and will be ready for the 26.2 next Sunday.  It was a fun event, and I certainly recommend it to anyone considering running it one day.

Let’s Race!

Image

Left work a little early today so that I could get over to Chapel Hill for packet pick up.  I say packet, but it was really just my bib and the shirt, which you see in the picture.  Round trip, to pick up these items was about 80 miles.  Very inconvenient, considering I have to drive right back tomorrow morning for the race.  I planned out where I will park, and have my directions all down pat.  I am ready for the Tarheel Ten Miler.  A well respected, well organized, and well attended event in the Triangle area.

The weather has been tumultuous to say the least today.  Cool this morning, and darn right hot and humid when I left.  82 degrees, with storms looming about.  I hit several areas of rain on the way home, as we are under a tornado watch until 9pm.  What does that mean for race morning?  A cooler, drier ass mass at least in the early hours.  The day will warm up to near 80 tomorrow, so it may be a bit of a challenge in the later miles.  I’ll do my best to tough it out, and wrap up my race before it gets too uncomfortable.

I am off for the weekend, which is really nice.  I will get my gear and bag ready tonight, as I need to leave the house in the morning by 5:15am at the latest.  I plan on enjoying the after party festivities, and then relaxing the rest of the weekend.  Well, I have some chores, too.  Boo.  I am excited for the race, and will roll out my hamstrings tonight, trying to get them in prime condition.

Anyone else have a race this weekend?  I planned on running the Blue Ridge Marathon this weekend, but my hamstrings just won’t be able to handle the mountain race.  I figure this ten mile race will be a good tune up for next weekends All American Marathon.  Best of luck to everyone racing!