All American Marathon 2016- Race Recap

4/3-  The All American Marathon was my 25th Full.  I’m going to take a departure from my normal race review due to time restrictions, and the realization that lately I just don’t have the time or energy to sit down and focus on a full account.  I haven’t had the desire to blog as much lately, leaving me sort of at odds with how best to review my races, and share information that may be helpful to others in choosing events.  I’ll just let my fingers do the typing and see where it leads……

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I’ve raced the All Amercican Full all three years of its existence.  It’s such a fun and inspirational event, growing in numbers every year.  I’ve had a close affiliation with the race, this year taking the lead in the final month for the pace team.

I worked the pacer table at the expo the day before the race, meeting tons of enthusiastic runners.  It was a chance to meet folks on the pacer team, and talk all things running related including the course, best spectator viewing spots, course elevation, etc…  It was a lot of fun to be involved in this way.

Race morning came, my son and I took off early from the house for the 45 minute drive to Fayetteville.  He was pacing the 2:00 Half, me the 4:00 Full.  The best part about this?  Since we were pacing the same time, we could run side by side for nearly 10 miles until the courses split!  Race day weather would introduce a new challenge for me, and others.  Temperatures were great, but it was very, very windy.  I’ve run in the absolute bitterness of 8 degrees at the Asheville Marathon, near 80 degree temps at Rock n Roll Raleigh, rain in Hilton Head and Asheville Fulls, some wind in Charleston, but this wind was different.  Headwinds of 20mph, mostly sustained, with gusts up to 30 mph.  It wasn’t until we were about 6-7 miles into the race that I really understood how difficult this day would be.

Dylan and I enjoyed our time together, perfectly pacing 10 miles through Fayettevile, onto the All American Freeway and on into Ft. Bragg.  Here are some awesome photos from someone overhead on one of the overpasses.

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We are in green!

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I realized as the courses split, that this day was going to test everything I had.  It would take every ounce of energy I could muster just to cross the finish line.  Turning onto Ft. Bragg, the winds got even worse.  Knowing the course, I was yearning to hit Pope Airfield, where I knew we would turn, and hopefully (finally) get to take advantage of tailwinds.  Just as he turn came, the winds died down, and with it my spirit.  I had never worked this hard to maintain pace.  I knew in my heart without a bit of help in my favor from the wind, the extra effort already expended would kill my race.  So, let’s add mega wind to my list of hates for race day weather.  The wind killed the races of about 300 runners that day in the marathon, as the list of runners that started the race but didn’t finish it, was immense.  More than I had ever seen.

By mile 20 I wanted to walk off the course.  I’ve never done this, but I wanted to.  I had absolutely nothing left in the tank.  All of my energy was drained from fighting the wind, and then it picked back up.  More headwinds….  Really?  Unbelievable.  How can I pace this, when it was really just a death march to the finish?  I was going to finish, but didn’t want to throw any runners off as far as pace, so although disappointed, took off my pacing shirt and ditched my pacing sign.  I was in the race still, but only for me.  Only to finish.

I have never felt so drained in my entire life, but I did eventually finish.  My marathon #25 now barely completed, and now my personal worst marathon finish.  BUT….I finished.  I was embarrassed, and disheartened by my performance.  I could barely stand, and felt like I could pass out of pure exhaustion any moment.  Luckily my son was there to lend assistance if needed.  It took me about 20 minutes to feel recovered enough to take the slow walk to the shuttle, and back to the car.  The weather defeated my pace goal that day, but didn’t defeat my finish.  I finished my quarter century marathon that day in a dismal 4:17:34.  My worst by 4 minutes over the Outer Banks Marathon a few years ago.

Over a week has passed since this event, and my time to reflect has left me with this thought.  I pushed through the conditions, and finished a marathon.  A friggin marathon.  Sometimes I take for granted just how difficult running a marathon is even in perfect conditions.  On that day, the weather was not perfect, my performance was not perfect.  Who cares!  I FINISHED!

#RunAllAmerican Marathon Discount

The time is now!  You’ve got about a week to score the biggest discount of the season on the All American Marathon 4/3/16.

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I will be returning to run this race for the third straight time in 2016, and you can get in right now on the lowest pricing plus a $20 discount until 10/15/15.

Use code “RUNALLAMERICAN20” at checkout for the discount.

Hope to see you there!

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All American Marathon- Race Recap

The race countdown clock is at 15 minutes….

A bit in shock, and trying to regain my composure, I prepared to run.  You can read all about race morning prior to the start here:  http://wp.me/p3u1nG-1YB.

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I did manage to snap a few photos before the howitzer cannon sent us runners on our way.  One thing I did notice, and you will clearly see in the second photo, the pacers for this event were all over the place.  Not sure that they had a real concrete plan as to where they should line up.  In the photo above, some Raleigh folks that I met in the starting line.  Todd (r) was running his 8th marathon!!  It was nice to finally meet everyone!

The mood at the start was very electric.  Lots and lots of servicemen and women everywhere.  Some running, and some not, but what I can say is that of all of the marathons that I have run, there were a ton of very fit runners in that field.

As the cannon sounded, we were off!  Having run this race last year, I had decided prior to the event to not push the first five miles as hard this time around.  The start of the race, winding through Fayetteville for the first few miles, is difficult.  It’s very challenging.  I think in retrospect, I pushed too hard last year and struggled more at the end of the race as a result.  This time I took it slower over the undulating course leading up to the All American Freeway.  Lots of ups and downs I completed the first five miles in 41:17, for a pace of 8:15.  I think I succeeded at conserving some energy.  Last year I finished this portion well under 8 minutes per mile, and I paid dearly for it later.

With my son there with me running the Half, the potential was there for us to run together for the first ten miles, as the courses as the same.  His lack of training hampered him a bit, and he warned me ahead of time to just go out in front of him if necessary.  Well, about a mile in he was lagging behind me, and slowly but surely disappeared from my view.  I checked now and then by turning around, but I just couldn’t see him anymore shortly into the race.  I thought of him the whole way, and knew he would still have a good race no matter what.  He loved running the race with me last year so much, that he just had to do it again.

Here is a special treat while running on the All American Freeway.  Wear Blue to Remember had a one mile section here, full of signs of soldiers who were killed in action, family members, and American flags everywhere.  It is so touching, so special.

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Despite my fall earlier in the morning, I felt like my legs and body were holding up just fine.  I think the fall sort of distracted me from the normal aches and pains I think about when running.  I was just happy to be out there, and always so honored to be racing among the men and women of service.  Our armed forces are just spectacular, and I highly respect their dedication to protecting our country.  It is a real honor to run this race, and the patriotism abounds!

As I approached mile 10, where the Half and Full courses split, I remained focused on even pacing.  I wanted to run smarter this year.  I wanted gas in the tank throughout the race, and not let up.  As mile 10 passed, my overall pace had only dropped a few seconds.  I wasn’t going for a PR, or even a BQ at this event.  My only goal was to try to beat my time of 3:52:25 the prior year.  Now at 8:18 pace overall, I was succeeding at keeping steady.

Now on base in Ft. Bragg I remembered the course well.  I knew we had some rolling hills coming up as we ran past military housing and the occasional military vehicles brought to the sides of the course.  It’s a great race to say thanks to volunteers.  Why?  There are just so many along the course.  Servicemen and women line the course cheering you on, and aid stations (which are aplenty) are packed with volunteers. These are some of the loudest groups of volunteers that I have ever experienced in a race.  The volunteers are just amazing!  Thank you to you all!

Mile 15 split was 2:06:34.  Pace now at 8:26.  Happy with that, for sure because of the rolling hills over the past five miles.  Heading out toward Pope Airforce Base, the course turns quieter.  For me it was a time to really hone in on the calm and serenity that is running for me.  Aside from passing aid stations, us marathoners were out there in relative quiet.  My son texted me that he was finished.  A 1:55 Half was not as good as his finish last year, but outstanding considering his lack of training.  I was so happy for him, and texted him back “well done son”!

I really was having a great run.  I tried to keep it as even paced as I could.  Knowing that a few tough hills were coming up at the end of the race, I felt good.  From miles 15-20 I don’t think I was ever passed by another runner.  Slowly but surely I passed runner after runner.  I think I counted at least 30.  My thought here was that I was enduring the course better than a lot of runners out there.  I passed one guy, and we struck up a conversation.  This was his first marathon.  I wished him well, and told him to finish strong.  Then I passed another, running his first marathon.  This seemed to be a common theme.  I passed another, his first marathon.  It makes me feel good to run among new runners, or new runners of the marathon distance.  I was there once, and most of these guys were struggling on the back half of the course.  I think they got suckered in to the false belief that endurance running is easy.  I gave all of them kudos for being out there, and to push hard to finish.

I hit mile 20 at a pace of 8:35.  I was slowing down, but not by a whole lot.  My body was holding up, despite now feeling some of the effects from my fall in the early morning.  At this point I really wished that I was able to take some ibuprofen.  Not to be, press on!

Fueling well, I never had the slightest cramp.  Race temps were perfect, and yet I was sweating a lot from the very start.  I had a complete Body Glide fail that day.  By mile 20 my nipples were completely raw, and I knew that they were bleeding because I had blood stains on the sides of my thumbs from rubbing against my shirt.  You couldn’t see the blood on my shirt because it was dark blue and red.  It blended in well, so that I didn’t have to gross out the spectators.

Fearing a huge hill that I epically failed on last year toward the end of the race, that hill never came.  The course had changed a bit this year, and that hill was taken out!  Yeah!  I was so thankful!  We passed some military planes around mile 19.

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Yes, I stopped very briefly to snap the photo.

The end of the race was nearing.  I kept moving.  Clearly slowing down, I still wasn’t being passed by other runners.  I knew that I could finish the race strongly.  I enjoyed the final miles as the spectators starting coming more and more into view.  Finishing at Parade Field, men and women in uniform were there to greet and congratulate us.  The final tenth of a mile came to many cheering on both sides of the course.  I saw my son clapping.  And then, I got passed!  By three guys!  I didn’t care.  I had a strong finish, and most importantly ran the kind of race I wanted to that day.  I stayed strong, and despite my accident before the race even started, I endured!

I came across the line in 3:50:51.  I made my goal, and beat last years time.  It was a top 14% finish for me in my 18th marathon.

I finished 85/595 overall.  8/52 in my age group.

Time to relax.  I really wanted to fall over and lay on the ground.  I thought I might not get up though, so I stood upright, was given my medal and made my way over to my son.  It took me about ten minutes to really catch my breath and feel ok.  I knew I wanted to get my wounds taken care of in the medical tent before heading home, so I grabbed some chocolate milk and some other chow, grabbed my finisher gift and then found a place to sit down for a few.

Take a look at the awesome shirt, medal and backpack!

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My son and I talked, and laughed, and swapped stories of our races.  I love having family that runs occasionally with me.  It really makes the day special.  Overall the event was meticulously pulled off, every detail well executed.  All of my thanks to the numerous people behind the scenes.  What a great event!  The spectators, volunteers and countless military members are so appreciated.  I will be back, and continue to support this amazing race!

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Thank you All American Marathon!

So, Say Geronimo! A tale of my pre-race accident

March 22, 2015-

My race morning started like many others.  Up early to an alarm clock piercing in my head, verbally cursing words that no one should hear at that hour of the day.  Ok, ok, I’m up.

What was ahead for the morning was the usual.  My race gear had been laid out the night before, so all that was left before heading out the door was some relaxation, coffee and a shower.  My son and I jumped in the car at O Dark Thirty.  4:30 to be exact.  Meeting a friend by 5:45 who had picked up our packets at the expo, because alas, I had to work both days of the expo.

We met Todd right on schedule.  Then a ten minute drive over to downtown Fayetteville to find parking, which was an absolute breeze.  After getting a drop bag ready, and pinning our bibs on our shirts, we walked over to the park where the starting line is.  All was going too smoothly….

We walked into the park, and found the bag drop area.  Met a few friends there and snapped a few photos.  All was relaxed, stretching taking place to ease into race readiness.

For those of you who don’t have any background on this race, it is a point to point military themed marathon, half and 5k.  A truly inspiring race that I have now been proud to be a part of for the second straight year.  Starting at Festival Park in downtown Fayetteville, NC, runners wind through town, onto the All American Freeway and eventually into Ft. Bragg.  An army installation that is home to the US Army Airbourne forces, and Special Forces, as well as US Army Forces Command and the Reserve Command.  It is an inspiring run in every way.  Thank you to our military.

At this point, before heading to the start line, my son disappeared while I was stretching.  By the time I realized that he was gone, I started scanning the bathroom lines.  The lines were mega long, like most races, and I didn’t see him.  Then he appeared from behind me, stating he had gone to pee back behind the main stage in the park  where we were standing.  Ok, I said.  I will forego the long lines and do the same thing.  What happened next was a tad startling and almost ended my race before it began.

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Maybe I was channeling my inner paratrooper, or muttering the words from a current song by Sheppard. It kinda goes like this…..  Say Geronimo, say Geronimo, say Geronimo…. Bombs Away, Bombs Away….. Ok, I love that song, it’s very catchy.  But, yep, here is what happened….

I was not clumsy, just maybe careless.  I started to jog to the the back of the pavilion stage.  There were like 8-10 concrete stairs leading back behind the stage to the parking lot and then eventually to the woods on the perimeter of the park. It was pretty dark still.  It wasn’t a well lit area.  Any guesses as to what happened next?

At the bottom of the steps there was a curb, which I didn’t see.  Why is there a *bleeping* curb at the bottom of a set of stairs?  I guess the curb was there because it was protecting about a two foot drop down to the parking lot.  OMG….  Here comes the explanation to the earlier paratrooper metaphor.  Before I knew what was happening, my big toe on my right foot slammed into aforementioned concrete curb, and I launched into the air in relative darkness.  Without much time to think, flying through the air, I thought, this was not going to end well.  It didn’t.

Before I knew it, my left hand broke my fall partially (well it was the first body part to make contact with the parking lot).  I then sort of tried the tuck and roll to the best of my ability.  Next to make impact was my right elbow, and then my right knee and outer right leg.  I popped back up as quickly as possible, hoping that my flight and landing were kinda graceful.  There was one guy back there that saw it all happen, but remained quiet and probably happy that I got up on my own.  Like Santa Claus, he spoke not a word and went straight to his work.  Yes, he was back there to urinate, too.  Hurting all over from my fall, knowing that I was probably bleeding, I quickly peed and went back to find my son.

Time to see the damage, as I emerged back into the light of the stage.

Road rash on my hand, lots of skin peeled off, but very little blood.  Oops, I could feel blood running down my leg from my knee..  I check out my elbow next, as I was trying to avoid looking at my leg.  Again, plenty of scrapes, redness, some blood, but not too bad.  My knee and leg…  Another story.  Lots of pain.  I knew I had hit it pretty hard.  There was a good portion of the skin on the bottom part of my knee that was gone in the battle.  The leg hair at the site of impact was gone, the only thing left was road rash, and pounding pain.

Can you say Geronimo?  No time to find a medical tent, and probably still in shock, we walked over to the race start.  Ok, good news, I could still walk, and would race no matter what.  I wiped away blood with a paper towel I had stuffed in my race belt to use to blow my nose.  I picked off dangling skin that I knew would annoy me during the race, and I got ready to race.  There was no way I was going to allow this accident to deter me from the 26.2 mile task at hand.  Ten minutes to race time this song starts playing….  So Say Geronimo, say Geronimo…  No lie!  It was me!  They dedicated it to my pre-race launch.  Ok, no they didn’t, but that’s exactly what I thought.

My finger nails tingling, with pavement gauges in them, blood running down my leg, it was time to lose the focus on the blood and pain, and run.

And I did!

And I finished!

And I hurt like hell today!

True story, I couldn’t make this shit up.  I may not be a paratrooper, but I am a trooper.

….and only a week remains until… Marathon #18

Yes I sip my coffee this morning in preparation for my four hour drive to Asheville, I can’t help but think about next weekend.  Tomorrow will be a great test, and final preparation for another marathon.

The All American Marathon is next weekend!  I cannot believe how quickly it has arrived.  Last year the race was the first weekend in May.  It was hot, it was sunny, it was grueling.  This year they bumped up the date about six weeks.  Landing on March 22nd this year, we are only a week and a day away.  This one will be #18 for me.  Hard to believe.

I will be prepared to put on my smile, lace up the Asics and run.

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This marathon journey has been a hell of a ride.  Running can take you so many places, all you have to do is have the desire and will.

To anyone out there that has yet to try the marathon distanceI say one thing.  It will change your life!

One Day Race Deal – All American Marathon

The All American Marathon and Mike to Mike Half Marathon is offering a one day $10 discount off registration today until midnight.  I ran the inaugural marathon back in May this year, and had an amazing time!

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If you don’t remember, this is the race that I got to meet Meb Keflezighi at the finish and he signed my race bib and medal.

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Current registration fees for the marathon $90, and $80 for the Half go up on December 31st, so today is the perfect day to get in at the lowest possible pricing including today’s discount.  This fantastic race is going to grow in size every year, and I couldn’t be more proud that this amazing race is so close to home.

Act fast, and join me this coming March!

All American Pasta Party

What do you think of most when it comes to pre-race fueling?  I think of pasta.  Loaded with carbohydrates, just what an endurance athlete needs leading up to a big event.  Do you think pasta first?  I know based on what I have seen, most folks either prepare a pasta meal at home the night before a race, or head to the nearest Italian restaurant.

Many big races offer a pasta meal the night before.  It’s typically advertised on the race website, and is usually something you can pay for during registration, sometimes at the door.  Most pre-race pasta dinners are fairly cheap, too.  I’ve seen them ranging anywhere from $15 to $30.  Most include several choices of pasta, and/or sauce, salad, bread and a variety of desserts.  It’s a really great way to get in the spirit of the particular race you are running, and offers the opportunity to meet other runners.

Pasta dinners will many times also include a guest speaker, telling some kind of inspirational tale of our sport.  While at the pre-race pasta meal at the Blue Ridge Marathon last year, I was lucky enough to hear the inspiring stories of Bart Yasso, Bill Rodgers, and Frank Shorter.  It truly is a great way to get into the race mood and elevate your already heightened race spirit.

The full details for the pre-race pasta dinner for next years All American Marathon and Mike to Mike Half Marathon have not yet been released, but they are offering a chance to win 2 free tickets.  If you follow them on Facebook, all of the details will be there.  Here is a copy of the post from this morning.

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If you are a Twitter fan, be sure to follow them there, as well.  They can be found at @AAMarathon.

If you are a member of the military, a veteran or everyday supporter of our military like me, this is a can’t miss race.  It is truly inspirational to run.  You can score a 10% discount on race registration if you enter code “13AMB2015” in the discount code box at checkout.  Current pricing for the three events are as follows:  Full Marathon $90, Half Marathon $75, 5k $20.  If you are military (Reserve, National Guard, Active Duty or Retired) each event is $5 cheaper.  I hope to see you there, and good luck to those participating in the Facebook contest for 2 free pasta party tickets.  I’ll see you there!

All American Marathon -Race Recap

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A few days removed now from the inaugural running of the All American Marathon, I am still trying to wrap my thoughts together into a meaningful and impactful review.  The moments from start to finish are still so very clear in my mind.  So many moments that were memorable, so much satisfaction in completing this race.  If you are a frequent runner or racer, I am sure you have felt the same way I feel at some point.  Sometimes you run races, and they are just that.  A race.  It might be well organized, it might be well attended, it may offer tons of great swag, an awesome medal etc..  You walk away from the race however, feeling sort of ho hum about it.  This race was not that kind of race.  At all!  This race made an impact on me.  Memories that will linger on in my mind forever.  That is the kind of race I love to run, and because of that will surely return to run this race again.

Race morning was an early one.  Actually, one of the earliest.  I got up at 3am.  On four hours of sleep, I bolted for the coffee maker when I walked downstairs.  After a few cups, I made sure that my son was up, and took my shower.  This event also included the Mike to Mike Half Marathon, which would be my son’s second race at this distance.  We got ready, and left the house just after 4:30am, for the hour long drive to Fayetteville.  At that time of morning, traffic was pretty nonexistent so we arrived right on schedule.  I knew where I wanted to park, but had to ask one of the numerous policemen how to get there.  Road blocks, and blue lights were everywhere.  A quick detour of a few blocks, we parked at the courthouse.  Probably about a five minute walk to the race start.

Plenty of time left until we had to head to the starting line, we donned our gear, and readied the bag for bag drop.  A few minutes before 6am we walked over to Festival Park, where the race was starting.  We arrived, and found plenty of space to move around.  Even with over 3,000 runners, Festival Park was an accommodating starting area.  We had to ask where bag drop was, which was not really conveniently located.  Normally I don’t use a bag drop, but since this was a point to point race, and because my son would be finishing about two hours before me, we had to use it.  That way he would have a change of shirt, and his phone at the finish for me to communicate with him via text where I was on the course.

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We lined up.  We just sort of made our way into the sea of runners, and tried to position ourselves between pacers that were running our approximate goal pace.  Note to organizers… Pacing signs need to be bigger next year, and a corral start should be used to ease congestion.  The start and first mile were pretty tight.  Announcements were made, and my first sighting of Meb Keflezighi on the stage as he wished runners good luck just minutes before the race began.  The National Anthem, then Ready, Set, and a boom start from a military howitzer artillery gun, and we were off.  An inspirational start.

Dylan and I were off.  He quickly took the lead, and I just tried to follow as we weaved our way through the sea of runners.  I kept my eyes on his blue shirt so that I wouldn’t lose him.  Our plan was to try to run together as much as possible until the split of the courses at mile 9.  I finally caught up to him after about a mile.  We circled Market House, and wove around the town center to Morganton Road.  The beginning of this course is hilly and a big challenge.  Right from the start.  As we made our way up, and up and up, I remembered this exact portion of the race route from the only other race I’ve run in Fayetteville a few years ago.  Run for the Red 10k.  Back then I never even dreamed I would be back in Fayetteville running a marathon.

About four miles in on a tough uphill section, Dylan slowed down a bit.  Now on the All American Freeway, the road that leads into and out of Ft. Bragg, this relatively flat section lasts about five miles.  I felt good.  Dylan was behind me, and slowly but surely, every time I turned around to find him he was falling further back.  Eventually I couldn’t see him anymore.  We passed a section here that was very inspiring,  Wear Blue to Remember, tons of American Flags and picture posters of Ft. Bragg’s fallen service members.  Quite touching.  I saluted as I passed, and said a prayer for those servicemen and women who keep us safe.

On course aid/water/nutrition stations were abundant at this event.  Every other mile for the first ten miles, and then every mile after that. It was truly amazing, and the most course support I have ever seen at a marathon.  So well done, and each and every station was loaded with volunteers.  To all of you, I say thank you!  You were extremely supportive, and vocal.  I appreciate you more than you know.  Generation UCan was the lead nutrition partner on the course, and the reason that Meb was at this race.  What a great product, it really kept my energy up for the duration of the race.

As the courses split at mile nine, as always, the marathon route really became less traveled.  I found myself turning back one last time to see if I could give a final wave to Dylan, but still didn’t see him.  I was now anxious to hear from him to see how he finished.  Now on the Army Base, I felt privileged to get to see where all of the service men and women work, and live.  There were Army vehicles and a few troops all along the rest of the route.  Some were playing music, others just offering encouragement.  We were running in their house now, so I thanked them all as I ran past them.  There were many course signs offering support from the race organizers and troops along the route as well.  My favorite one, I passed just before the half way point.  The sign read, “When the President dials 911, the phone rings at Ft. Bragg”.  I thought it was awesome!

As the race route thinned of runners, I felt pretty good.  My hamstrings were holding up.  I was able to keep pace, even though I was sore.  Actually really sore at points, but keeping my thoughts on the troops, and enjoying the experience were more important.  Race day temperatures were rising.  We started the race at about 55, and with a beautiful, almost cloudless sky, the a North Carolina sunshine was warming up the race course quickly.  Thankfully there was a nice breeze every now and then, but it was really quite warm.  I can only assume that by the time I reached 13.1 miles, temperatures had to by then be in the mid 60’s and rising.  I was sweating a lot, especially when running into the direction of the sun.  Having aid stations every mile though was terrific, and much appreciated.  I kept my hydration up.  So much so that I had to use the restroom once on course.

I glided through mid course.  I could hear the propellers of a plane in the distance, and occasionally during my run I could see a Blackhawk helicopter flying over the race route.  Things you normally don’t see during a race.  Running at Ft. Bragg offered many unique experiences that I will remember.  Hearing that plane, I knew I was nearing Pope Airfield.  I saw the transport planes with roaring engines, and had to stop to take a picture.  The photo reminds me of a point in the race that I was just trying to enjoy the serenity, the quiet.  Airfields normally don’t look like this, or certainly are not quiet.  Racing through this section of the course was quiet.

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My phone buzzed.  It was Dylan.  He texted me about two hours after the race began.  He had finished in around 1:51:00.  Not as good as his first Half, but considering the hills, a job well done!  He sent me an encouraging text.  “Let’s go Dad”.  I was at mile 18, then 20.  Chugging along.  I could already see the salt stains on my shirt.  I knew, racing my fifth marathon of the year, that I wasn’t going to set any personal records today. I was just trying to enjoy myself, and the run.  It was so amazing.  I felt blessed and encouraged.  It’s still just amazing to me that I can expect my body to hold up when I put it through an experience like a marathon, much less five in five months.  I was enjoying every moment.

The miles passed slower and slower during the 18-21 mile section, and this was the first time that I really felt tired.  My body was aching. I had thoughts like, “how will I ever finish this.”  I found strength though in the tough moments, and realized this was my wall today.  I will push through it.  I found strength in the encouraging words of the volunteers and servicemen and women.  The signs, the cheers.  I needed them.  Except for a 30 second walk break during a monster of an uphill at mile 23, I ran the rest of the way, even when I didn’t want to.  I was determined.  I wanted that sub 4, and even though I had run a marathon just three weeks prior, I wanted to beat that time, too.  I gauged my pace, and was gunning for a finish under 3:54:00.  As I made my way closer and closer to the finish line at Bragg’s Parade Field, I could start hearing cheers become louder and louder.  I knew I was getting closer, and I wanted to finish strong.

I could now see the finish line on the opposite side of the field.  I kept my eyes peeled for Dylan.  I wanted to find him in the crowd of supporters as I ran toward the finish.  There he was, just about 200 yards away.  He cheered as I passed.  I crossed the line in 3:52:25.  I received my medal from a woman in uniform, and I thanked her.  I spent a few minutes catching my breath, then made my way to my son.  He congratulated me, and I congratulated him.  He had already put on one of my flip flops that I had put in the drop bag.  He had a few bloody blisters that he had already had taken care of and wrapped at the medical tent on the field.  This led me to think, for the first time, how my own lingering blister had made out.  It felt a little irritated, but nothing extreme.

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The post race festival was great.  Tons of food, vendors and a huge stage for the award ceremony.  We found some shade, and watched the winner and other runners receive awards.  I felt pretty good, just tired.  There were Army vehicles parked on the field.  There was a circle spray painted on the field for paratroopers to land in, as they dropped out of the sky.  Members of the 82nd Airborne unit.  It was the perfect ending to an inspiring and amazing race.  Then we got to meet Meb, winner of the Boston Marathon.  He was so kind, and autographed my race bib and medal ribbon.  He was down to Earth, and it was such an inspiration to meet him.  I will never forget it.  It was an amazing day.  We took a shuttle back to Fayetteville, a race provided amenity.

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Top notch event!  Amazing day, and inspiring in every way.  This one was special, very special.  It was not just any old race.  It was well thought out, planned and executed.  Amazing for an inaugural event.  This event will grow and grow, and my hope is to return and run it again and again.

Unofficial results:

Chip Time: 3:52:25

123/880 Overall

9/68 Age Group

I couldn’t have asked for a better day.  I got to share it with my son.  The weather was beautiful, and the race was truly amazing.

 

Are you racing this weekend?

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24 hours from now I will be in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  My son and I will have just arrived, and be lacing up for the inaugural All American Marathon and Mike to Mike Half Marathon.  I cannot wait to hit the streets for another race!  Running with my son will be even more fun.

Packet pick up yesterday was a breeze.  No lines, no waits.  All in all, I think if I didn’t ask one question about parking, it would have taken less than three minutes.  The bibs are military themed, here is a photo of both.

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Race day temperatures are supposed to be on the warm side tomorrow, so today I will be continuing the hydrating thing.  Lots of water.  I am working today, so I don’t have the luxury of staying off my feet, but I will rest easy tonight after making a carb loading dinner of pasta and chicken.

It will be an very early morning.  The drive will take at least an hour, so we have to be leaving the house at 4:30 am.  Not exactly thrilled about that, but I knew it when I signed up.  No backing out now.

Time to get my game face on.  My race readiness?  We’ll see how the legs hold up.  All I can say is that my hamstrings will enjoy the break, as this is my last marathon until the Fall.

Who else is racing this weekend?