Major Announcement

Since becoming a marathoner almost 4 years ago, I knew I was destined to run this amazing 26.2 mile distance again and again.  All it took was that first race, that first finish line.  I wanted more, in fact I craved it.

Every runner has a path.  My path has been very exciting, all the while learning about myself, my body and how to run injury free.  The path hasn’t always been easy, and I’ve made mistakes along the way.  Who doesn’t?  The main thing to focus on is the process.  How to get yourself to the starting line, and how best to cross the finish line.  To date, I have now crossed the marathon finish line 23 times.  I am full of gratitude just thinking about that number.  Each race offers a unique runner experience, and in fact, over the next few months I will be hopefully adding another 4 marathon finishes to my repertoire.  Asheville, All American, Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh, and Herald of Victory all by the end of May.  How lucky am I?

My marathon journey affords me chances to challenge myself beyond my wildest imagination.  It really is no joke to set out on a 26.2 mile run.  For my ability to run, I am so thankful.  My journey also gives me chances to travel to places I may not have  gone otherwise.  For example, I’ve been to Chicago twice now in two years, both times to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  I’ve only been to NYC once now in the past 18 years, and why?  Yep, you guessed it, to run the TCS New York City Marathon.  Marathons get me places, take me places and sometimes even put me in my place.  I’ve been to Colordao once in my life.  Yes, to run a marathon.  I’ve been to Utah once, again, for a 26.2.  Where to next?  I’ve never been to Boston, but I want to go!  (I’m working on it!).

Amazing marathons exist all over the globe, and I hope to have the chance to travel abroad to many great races.  I recently entered the lottery to run the BMW Berlin Marathon this year, but didn’t get in.  I’ll keep trying.  Eventually I would love to run all six of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.  As my marathon journeys continue, so will my chances to get into the final four majors that I haven’t been so lucky or fortunate to run yet.  What’s left on the list?  Of course the coveted BAA Boston Marathon, but also the Virgin Money London Marathon, BMW Berlin Marathon, and Tokyo Marathon.  This list leads me to my Major Announcement…..  I have been named an Abbott World Marathon Major Ambassador!!!  Yes!  So excited to help spread the word of marathoning and working with this great organization.  I hope you’ll enjoy this journey with me.

image

2016 Charleston Marathon

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

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

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

image

2016 Pace Gigs

Looking ahead to my 2016 racing season, so many things are still up in the air.  I usually have a pretty solid plan by now, and am typically already training for my next race.  Why is this not true this year?  I guess there are many reasons.

Ending the year with the one two punch of Chicago and New York, my body has felt a bit depleted.  When you have no energy, and a lack of desire, it leads me to a oh hum attitude when it comes to getting signed right up for my next race.  I just couldn’t find one that worked for my schedule and budget.  Then I got sick, and have still not fully recovered.  Still having problems and not feeling quite right going on three weeks now.  It has led me to quite the laissez faire attitude.  This is not good when it comes to having a rock solid plan for 2016.

I’m going to just roll with the punches.  I do know this however.  After spending the last five years running various races, I’ve learned a thing or two about myself and my running goals.  Sometimes my goal is to run fast, set a PR, or even try for a Boston Qualifier.  Sometimes not.  Sometimes it’s about the experience.  The race itself.  Getting out there, testing myself, enjoying myself on the run.  It’s not always about how fast you can go, or how far.  I’ve learned I like certain races, and others not so much.  I don’t just sign up for a race because I am a glutton.  I’ve learned to be smart about where I spend my racing dollars.

I’ve also learned through the past couple of years that one of my favorite things to do is be a pacer.  If not Boston material, I am certainly still a pretty fast runner.  What most folks would consider fast anyway.  What I do best I think is have a very consistent pace.  Fast or slow, consistency is key when pacing.  I can offer you that!  Helping others reach a goal before my own goals is something I just never saw coming, but has been a welcome addition to my charitable life.  Giving a bit of myself to others on the race course.  I love it!

This leads me to a few races which are set in stone for next year.  A couple of my favorite races, and races I will be pacing in 2016.  Drum roll please……

image

In March I will be heading to Asheville, North Carolina to pace two events.  Actually same event, two different races.  The Asheville Marathon and Half at Biltmore Estate is a full on runners challenge this coming year.  You can run the Half on Saturday, the Full on Sunday, or both!  I am running both, and pacing both!  I will be pacing the 2:00 Half, and 4:00 Full.  How much fun does that sound?  Tons!

image

In April, I will be heading back to one of my favorites to pace for the first time.  The All American Marathon has been a trusted, awesome race experience for me the past two years.  I’ve run the Full both years the race has been in existence, so on its third anniversary, I will be pacing the 4:00 Full.  This will be my first marathon three-peat.

image

 

I’m sure I will do some more pacing in 2016, but those gigs are what I have lined up so far.  I’m not sure I will even attempt a BQ this coming year.  Right now just not feeling the need to put that kind of pressure on myself.  2016 is going to be about having fun, running consistent, and getting back to basics.  Finding more joy out there on the road.  Listening to my body, and smiling.  If giving back to others through pacing is what gives me joy, I’m going to do even more of it.

What gives you joy this holiday season?

New York City Marathon – Race Recap

The much anticipated, and probably the longest wait for a recap.  Honestly, just so busy, and tired that I just haven’t had the time to do a recap justice.  Hopefully this will sum up not only the race, but also my busy New York trip.

image

It all began with a 630 mile road trip to upstate NY on October 28th.  I haven’t driven to NY in over ten years, so it was a really long day.  Destination, my Fathers house in Binghamton.  My roots are still so deeply embedded in update NY, although if my Dad still didn’t live there I probably wouldn’t ever go back.  My family (Dad and Brother) are the reasons why this trip was even happening.  I’ve written about it previously, but I entered the lottery to run NYC because my brother did.  It was my chance to run with him, in another marathon, but this time in our home state.  The fateful day came when they drew lottery spots….  my brother announced on Facebook early in the day that he was IN!  I waited all day for notification.  I checked my email at least a hundred times, nothing, nothing, nothing.  Finally at around 6:30pm it arrived.  “We’re sorry….blah, blah, blah”.  My dreams were dashed in that one instant.  That shitty email.  It took me all of about a day to figure out that I HAD to race.  I had to find a way.  I turned to looking into charity teams, and vowed to raise money.  I think it was within a week that I was accepted onto the charity team for the James Blake Foundation.  I pledged a $3,000 donation to the charity, and paid my way into the race.  Done!  Fundraising began later that day once my fundraising page was set up.  I thought to myself, “how hard will it be to raise $3,000 over the course of seven months?”  I antied up $100 to start my campaign, and I was off and running.  Well, as it turns out, it is not easy raising that kind of money.  **Flash forward to race day**… I didn’t meet my goal, but came awfully close.  Through the help of family, friends and complete strangers, and awesome people like you, I managed to raise $2,590.  I have until the end of the year to hit the goal, but my personal goal was to hit my pledge by race day.  So, before I get back into the real gist of this post, here is a link to my fundraising page, because I can still use your help.

Armed with the knowledge that I was in the race, I spent the next several months planning, and planning.  I knew I wanted my Dad at the race.  He was so excited!!  To get to watch both of his sons running the New York City Marathon?  Who wouldn’t want to see that?  Not long before the race however, came bad news.  My brother was going to have to cancel his entry due to medical issues.  I was heartbroken for him, and it made the entire trip bittersweet.  How in the world was I supposed to be excited for this, knowing that he was equally agonizing over it?

Dad and I - Binghamton in the background

Dad and I – Binghamton in the background

Ok, I am getting off track a bit.  I knew this recap wasn’t going to be easy to write.  So, after 10 hours on the road in mostly raining conditions, I finally was pulling into the driveway at my fathers house.  Exhausted and road crazed, my Dad and I caught up for a few hours before I had to hit the hay.  With a decent nights sleep behind me, we took it easy most of Thursday.  We went out for a late breakfast, drove around town and hit a few “hot spots” I didn’t want to miss while I was there.

image

The Cider Mill, in Endicott, NY.  To me this place means Fall in NY.  Fresh pressed apple cider, delicious donuts, and candy apples.  Of course we had to buy all of it.  We also stopped for some true Italian Bread from DiRenzo’s Bakery.  Later that evening, we hit the road for another three hour road trip to my brothers house in New Jersey.

A very relaxing few days ahead with family.  I did manage to get in one final shake out run on Friday.  Four miles on the towpath in Bound Brook, NJ.  I hadn’t run in a week!  Had to get loose and find my running legs.  Thankfully the weather was so nice the entire trip.  The last thing I wanted was a rainy, miserable marathon, but it turned out to be near perfect. Although a tad on the warm side.

Saturday we were up and at ’em early for a trip to the NYC Marathon Expo in the city.  Bob was running, and my brother at least wanted to pick up his race shirt.  A drive, a walk and 45 minute train ride later we exited Penn Station in Manhattan.

image

That was my view as I hit the streets of NYC for the first time since 1996.  Long before the World Trade Center disaster.  It had been so long!  We walked a few blocks and within ten minutes were entering the famed expo.  It was crawling with runners!  The biggest marathon in the world on the last day of the expo, it was bound to be busy.

image image image

We quickly picked up our bibs and shirts, stopped for a few photo ops, and shopped the 50% off Asics gear racks before studying the course map.  I bought a few pairs of logo’d shorts and a shirt!  Cheaper than I could get them online, so I was happy.

image image image image image

After the expo, we headed back to Jersey.  A busy day all around.  The Mets in the World Series, Halloween, and the night before the biggest marathon in the world.  We needed some rest and relaxation with only a few hours left until race day.

A typical night before a race, I got all of my gear ready.  This time however was a bit more detailed.  NY is not a simple race morning process.  You don’t just drive yourself to the start.  It’s a long affair.  Patience is needed, and you need to be prepared for anything.  Packing for race morning is very important, so as not to leave anything to chance.

Donor names on the back of my charity shirt.

Donor names on the back of my charity shirt.

image

That picture doesn’t show the last several donation names I got in the days leading up to the race, but you get the idea.  I was ready for bed, anticipating a 3am wake up call.

Race day!  All went off without a hitch.  I was feeling good, the weather was looking promising and I started my mental preparation for the race.  The long process of race morning began as my brother drove us approximately 50 minutes to The Meadowlands parking lot in NJ.  It was there that Bob and I would catch a race bus to Staten Island.  We arrived at about 5:30am, my brother snapping a few pictures as we got ready to board the bus.

image image

Armed with our gear we boarded a bus, and then made the hour long trip to Staten Island.  While we entered the Green Starting Village I was so impressed by all of the food and drink options available to us. We had about a three hour wait until the gun went off, so it was really nice to have.  As luck would have it, Bob and I grabbed a coffee and a hat from DD, and then I spotted a Bus Stop shelter right at the back entrance to the village, which we promptly called ours!  A bench, and shelter from any wind or rain.  Perfect!   It was the find of the morning!  Here are some photos from the village.  Yep, right next to the Verazzano Bridge that is, the start of the race!

image image image

Home sweet home!  A random bus stop on Staten Island.  Love it!  That’s Bob in his DD hat, and throwaway gear.  We passed the time telling stories, talking about the course, numerous stops at the potties, etc…  It was a long wait.  We were comfortable though!

image image

Eventually the time came that we needed to abandon our shelter, and head to the starting corrals.  It was well organized, as you would expect.  The corrals were super tight, and I barely made it in.  My nerves starting to play some games, but I did manage to try to take in the entire experience.  We moved forward  after about a half hour, and things really started to get real.  I shed my hat, gloves, top layer shirt, and got ready for the business at hand.  The fanfare was electric as we entered the loop heading onto the bridge.  In place now, I could actually see the start.  My corral was on the bottom bridge.  Helicopters televising the event were flying overhead, clothes were flying to the sides, and before you knew it, Frank Sinatra, the National Anthem, the boom of the howitzer cannons, and the race WAS ON!  NYC here I come!

At the start!

At the start!

Behind me

Behind me

The first few miles were tight!  Heading up the bridge I didn’t even notice the incline, but was more concerned with not tripping over anyone.  I stayed to the left so I could take in the views of Manhattan, the water, the Statue of Liberty.  It truly was magnificent!  What a way to spend the first few miles!  The downside of the bridge meant picking up the pace a bit.  I knew my first mile was slow based on runner traffic, so I tried to find a better more consistent rhythm on the downside heading into Brooklyn.  It worked.  My goals for this race were pretty simple.  Enjoy the City, enjoy the crowds, and keep my eyes out for family along the way.  My cousin Brad was to be at mile 11 at the corner of Bedford and N. Third St.  I checked for texts occasionally to make sure exactly where he would be.  After that, I would be on the lookout for my brother, dad, Melissa, Chloe and Connor just beyond mile 17, and then again in Central Park around mile 24.5.   As far as time goes, I just wanted a solid race.  My A goal was sub 3:50:00, and B goal was sub 3:40:00.  Time would tell.  Traffic was tight!

My 5k split was 23:46.  My feet and legs felt ok.  It was a tad on the warm side,  Proper hydration would be key, especially if I wanted to avoid cramping.  With the bridges on the course, I knew I wanted to keep my electrolytes in balance.  I thoroughly enjoyed the views of Brooklyn, the brownstones on both sides of the street.  The numerous bands, the cheering crowds.  A non-native to the city, this was my first time traveling these streets and it was so cool to be able to do it on foot.  I’ll say it again, runner traffic was tight, and very annoying at times.  I cleared the 10k mark in 47:31, so I was still managing to stay the course with my intended speed.  Brooklyn was long.  Knowing I would see Brad at almost the halfway mark was keeping me positive.  Around mile 9 all corrals merged onto the course and it became very unnerving.  It was just so crowded in my area.  At that moment I wanted to be running in a small marathon, and have some space to myself, but that was not meant to be on this day.  This is the biggest marathon in the world, stay calm and adjust to it.  I told myself to relax so many times.  I wondered though, as I heard so many people cheering names of runners why I hadn’t heard my name called out.  I knew my name was on my shirt, so why no “Go Paul’s” or “Keep going Paul’s”!  It was then I looked down and noticed that my name (which I wrote in blue marker) was completely gone, and now in a pool of sweat and blue ink on the bottom seam of my shirt.  That’s why!

image image

Brooklyn was long, but awesome crowd support.  Brad texted me to listen for drums and he would be in his designated spot.  In a hot pink shirt, with a sign.  I counted down the streets, and was getting close.  Soon enough I could hear those drums, and moved to the right hand side of the street.  There he was, smiling ear to ear, cheering.  I stopped to give him a quick hug, to which he responded, ok, go, go, go.  I took off.  I found out later he actually took a video of my arrival at that moment, which is so funny to see now.  Thanks Brad for being there to support me!  It was you that got me through Brooklyn.

The halfway point sent us over the bridge into Queens.  My half split was 1:45:00 on the nose!  On track, but feeling my legs getting heavy.  I needed a boost.  Knowing the infamous Queensboro Bridge was looming in the not so distant miles, I Gu’d up, hydrated and kept the faith that I would gain some energy before that long quiet bridge.  I had been warned that it was the loneliest, most difficult part of the race.  Now that I’ve lived through it, I can say that it clearly is!  It was pure hell. I felt so defeated crossing that bridge.  Loathe is a great word to describe it.  Dark, fierce, it will get you if you don’t stay ahead of it.  Like a knarly hairy monster.  Just pure dread is what I tell like on that bridge.  The only thing keeping you going is knowing at the end is Manhattan, and crowds galore.  I did not walk, I did not walk one bit.

Coming off the bridge I still felt very depleted.  I was off my game.  I think I slipped into a dark cavernous place in my head.  After that initial burst of energy from the crowd, I drew nothing from them.  I was in my head, and fighting demons.  The fact that I had just run Chicago three weeks prior might have something to do with it, but I was exhausted.  The only way I could force myself out of that head space was to think of my next cheering station.  I would see my Dad!  I would see David!  Thinking of them got me though.  The miles ticked by.  14, 15, 16…..  I knew they would be at mile 17.  On the left.  I steered to the left of the road well early in anticipation.  I had it so deeply embedded in my brain (Mile 17).  This finally brought me tons of energy.  I was running much better, felt better and was in positive spirits.  I counted the tenths of a mile as I approached mile 17.  Then finally I was there.  Where was my family?  I waited for my name to be yelled.  I scanned the crowds, I cranked my neck back and forth.  Nothing… I actually stopped and thought about running back.  How could I miss them?  That was not going to happen!  They were there to see me, and I needed them.  BADLY!  Finally about two tenths of a mile beyond the mile marker I heard my name.  There they were!  My cheering section.  Smiling ear to ear, I gave them all a big sweaty hug, and then left them behind.  I got emotional right afterward.  Pure joy, tears streamed down my cheeks.  That family energy lasted about two miles.  Then?  Back into my dark space.  I was clearly struggling physically, but I would not let it ruin my day.

Crossing over into the Bronx gave me a much needed boost.  Not the bridge, which sucked, but knowing that mile 20 was nearing.  You don’t spend a lot of time in the Bronx, and I had been told it’s sort of a drab, unsupported part of the course.  I found it amazing.  Maybe I had caught a second wind after coming off the bridge, but I found the crowds really supportive.  The bands were awesome, too.  Plus knowing that the final 10k and trip back into Manhattan was approaching was energizing to me.

Across the bridge into Harlem, and down 5th Avenue.  The end was near.   Hit the 35k mark in 3:03:01.  I knew I had to keep calm and run.  No more demons.  My thoughts turned to seeing Central Park for the first time.  Seeing my family again before huffing it to the finish line.  Trying to stay on pace, I knew I was slowing down.  I didn’t walk.  I didn’t even walk through water stations.  I actually became a little better at drinking while running without drowning myself.  I needed those moments to hit my goal.

Central Park!  It was finally here.  The cheering crowds became louder, the fall foliage on the trees.  Such a beautiful way to end this epic race.  I once again yearned for my family, and the strength they would give me to push through those last two miles.  I saw them again, and again was moved to tears.  I knew how much it meant to my Father to be there.  To witness such an event.  To see his son almost at the finish of the biggest marathon in the world.  As I paced to the finish, dying to actually see the finish line come into view, I thought about my charity, my donors and all the support I’ve received through my running career.  The end of my 22nd marathon was quickly approaching.  I threw up my hands in exultation as I crossed the line.  Immediately overwhelmed, completely debilitated as if the walking dead had entered my body.

image image

A long walk ahead, I could barely move after crossing the line.  An incredibly long wait for a bottle of water that I needed the moment I crossed the line.  The medal draped over my neck was worth the agonizing slog through the finisher village.  Mylar blanket donned, more water please.  Maybe a pretzel?  A banana?  Yes, they helped when I finally had them in hand.  As I exited Central Park in search of my family I realized that my cell phone was finally dead.  With the help of strangers, I finally connected with them about an hour after I finished.  I finished!  I ran the New York City Marathon!

Wish I could have snapped some more pictures along the way.  The memory of this race though will linger in my head as one of giant crowds, epic challenges and support galore.  Family.  In the end, it was really about family.  Thank you New York.  Not sure I will ever race the city again, but what an epic adventure through your five boroughs,  thanks for having me and treating me so well.

Official results:  3:45:23 finish time.  Goal A achieved!  My best marathon finish in 2015.

Overall:  7472/49365. Top 15%

Top 20% in age group. Top 21% in gender.

No complaints here!  I take it!

image

Run the Quay 2015- Race Recap

The are a ton of “local” races in the triangle region where I live.  I mean a ton!  Huge, fun races like the City of Oaks Marathon, Tobacco Road Marathon and Half, Race 13.1 has a Summer and Fall Half, Bull City Race Fest, The Tarheel Ten Miler, Rock n Roll Raleigh, among so many others.

image

This past Saturday however, me and the kids laced up for the ultimate in “local” races.  The 11th Annual Run the Quay 5k, 10k and 15 Quay Challenge.  It’s about as close to my house as any race could be without living on the race course itself.  A short three mile drive (if that) from the house, this twisty, turny and hilly race is almost in our back yard.

One of my sons and I are both in the promo picture above from the race last year.  I am wearing the purple shirt, and he is to the left of me in the red shirt. This year it was a family affair again.  We made the quick trip and picked up our shirts and bibs on Friday evening before heading home for pizza.  We relaxed that evening watching TV.  My older son worked both of his jobs that day, so he didn’t arrive back home until about 10:30 pm.

Last year I ran the 15 Quay Challenge (10k and 5k), and my younger son ran his first 10k.  This year I ran the 10k along with my older son, and my younger son ran the 5k.  You really can pick whatever distance you feel up to, and if you sign up early, like I did, it is a very cheap race to run.  I think I paid $28 for the 10k, and early sign up for the 5k was only $20.

image

I really had not been looking forward to the race that much because the early forecast called for hot and humid conditions.  The past three weeks I have been training for pace, so I wanted a cool morning so that I could give last years finish time a run for the money.  With a mega challenging course, this 10k can give you fits.  I wanted to do well and beat my time from last year.  The photo above shows the course from last year.  This year the course was rerouted a bit, throwing in even more hills.  I couldn’t find a course map to post here, but believe me, it had just as many turns and ups and downs as last year if not more.

image image

The 10k started at 7am, and being so close to the house we didn’t even leave home until 6:25.  We lined up at 6:50 and were off right on time.  My son was instantly behind me within 20 seconds, and I would never see him again until the finish.  I clocked an impressive for me 6:58 first mile.  This meant gunning for my 48:25 finish time from last year was doable.

Body felt good, but the hills were relentless.  I know, I know, I should be used to it, but it’s easier said than done.  It was challenging.  Mile 2 was 7:19, followed by an 8 minute mile 3.  I was doing well, but not super like I wanted.  I kept at it though, and pounded the pavement happily.  It’s fun to race my towns event.  Mile 4 came and went at 8:04, a bit of a rebound on mile 5 with a 7:53.  Because of the numerous turns and crossovers along this route, I managed to see my younger son walking from the car to the start for his race four times. It was cool!  Nearing the finish, I knew that I was close to my goal.  It wasn’t meant to be though, as the final 3/4 mile is all uphill and just sucked the last bits of energy out of me.  Mile 6 was 8:05.  Pretty consistent all along the way, my final time was 48:48.  Missing last years time by 23 seconds.

After receiving my medal, I grabbed a water and waited for my older son to finish.  Younger son by my side, we watched him come into view.  I ran with him about 10 seconds up the hill nearing the finish to try to give him a boost.  He didn’t need me, as I faded quickly in his dust up the final .2.  Now we were done, and it was time for my youngest to get ready for the 5k which started at 8:30.

My official result was 28/211 overall and 7/28 in the 40-49 age group.  Not bad!

Colton took off right at 8:30, and knowing we could see him at least three times on the course we rushed down the road to see him at mile 1.3, back up to the next block to see him at mile 2.2 and then further up to see him at mile 3 and cheer him on to the finish.  Here are a couple of shots I took of him on his run.

image image image image

He finished in the top 10%, and was pretty pleased.  The 5k had over 650 finishers, which is pretty impressive for a small town race!  This is such a fun event, and continues to grow year after year.  I love running with my boys, it truly makes this event special to have them running along with me.

image image

Happy Feet? No, I’m not a dancing penguin, I’m a runner.

Progressing toward a month of over 100 miles of training, and very few days off from work, my feet are tired.  I have had to work very hard to get them some rest.  Elevation has helped a lot, as well as spending some quiet evening on the couch.

image

As I struggle through the final days of training for my next marathon in a little over two weeks, my focus now is more on rest and recovery.  I need to make sure that my body is ready to conquer the next 26.2.  It was a beautiful morning today, and cool.  It was the type of morning that just screams get out and run.  I refrained.  I plan on running a smooth and pace focused five miler tomorrow morning, and I’ve run four days in a row.  Time for a rest day.

Vacation is looming.  Getting on the jet plane on Saturday morning, my thoughts are all about vacation.  I’ve worked six straight days, and work tonight, tomorrow and Friday before I can breath  a sigh of relief.  Can you believe that?  I have to work 9 days in a row leading up to vacation.  Well, most of the battle has been fought already, just three shifts to go.  The problem is that I work on my feet.  I don’t have a cush desk job.  My job is physical and demanding on my feet.  I know how to take care of them though.  This is nothing new to me.  

So my final wind down/taper is upon me.  Wow, can’t believe I haven’t even thought about how this is taper time.  Usually I go mad during the taper, but this time I will have vacation to distract me from taper blues.  

How long do you taper prior to a big race?  How do you fill those empty hours that you would have been out running?  I do know one thing, I am hoping for Happy feet come September 13th.  Happy hamstrings, too!  😉

Mojo Running

Image

What is Mojo?  An inner strength?  Inner spirit?  Fight?  Desire?  The want or need to fulfill, and going after it.  Feeling good, and not being afraid.  Taping into that special glow from within.

Finding that spark is sometimes hard to do.  Sometimes we have it, and other times we don’t.

What do you do to find that spirit?  To show the world and yourself that you run with a purpose?

Sometimes I run, and it’s just a run.  Other times, I find myself in another world.  When the planets align, and the body feels good, the mind is sharp, who knows what can happen.  We humans can achieve greatness.  Look at Meb.  Hard fought, and effort galore, he brings home the Boston Marathon to the U.S. for the first time in 31 years.  Yeah, of course we have to have ability.  What is really comes down to is one thing, I think.  Desire.  (Mojo)

We all run at different speeds, different abilities and different goals.  What we share, however, is that inner spark.  That thing that gets us out on the road, or trail or to the gym.  Whether your goal is to win the Boston Marathon, or just to get there, or to get off the couch and run that first mile, we all need mojo.

I’ve felt my Mojo returning after a few weeks of recovery, and it feels so good.  The legs want to run, the mind is ready for that high.  I’ve tapped into it again, and am running happy.  Running proud, and running strong.

Please excuse me, my running shoes are calling….

Go Big! 50 Marathons

Image

Go Big!  In Utah.

I’ve done it.  I’ve jumped in before a price increase, and signed up for an epic and fast marathon just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah.  I’ve never been to Utah, and look forward to using a marathon as an excuse to take a trip into the unknown.  Well, maybe the very lofty goal of running a marathon in all 50 states is the excuse.

Have you heard of the 50 Staters club?  Running a marathon in all 50 states in our country.  Crazy?  Yes.  Expensive?  Oh, yeah.  This is a goal of many crazy runners out there.  I may have started running too late to accomplish this goal, but slowly but surely, I may be able to make a dent in this goal.  I think that most that have accomplished this goal are either independently wealthy, or are in debt up to their ears.  I will not max out my credit cards to achieve this goal.  If I continue to work toward 50 states, it will be slow and as money allows.

I currently have run 11 marathons, but most of them have been fairly local, or I should say, within driving distance.  Here is a look…

North Carolina- Asheville City Marathon, Tobacco Road Marathon, Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate, City of Oaks Marathon, Wrightsville Beach Marathon, Outer Banks Marathon (6)

South Carolina- Myrtle Beach Marathon, Charleston Marathon, Hilton Head Marathon (3)

Virginia- Blue Ridge Marathon (1)

Nevada- Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon (1)

So, currently I have 4 states under my belt.  I have not repeated any marathons, and still have multiple marathons in both North and South Carolina.  Funny thing is, and right in line with all the news you hear about the number of marathons across the world increasing, as people interested in running them increases, my next two marathons are new to me as well, and both local events.  So by May 4th, my NC number will increase to 8, and to 9 in the Fall.

Utah will be state #5.  Wow, that’s 45 states shy of a fifty states goal.  I can only hope to stay healthy and able to run long enough for my bank account and body to both cooperate.  Maybe my goal should be to run 50 different marathons, and not necessarily in all 50 states.  That would be a more achievable goal.

So, I am saying it here.  I will run 50 different marathons.

Currently at 11, my next four will bring my total to 15 by the end of 2014.  They are…..  Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh, All American Marathon, Big Cottonwood, and The Greensboro Marathon.

Setting goals is very common for runners.  I am already a Half Fanatic, and Marathon Maniac.  Go Big, right?  That’s what folks say.  Go big or go home.  I plan on taking my marathon running BIG!

Marathon this Spring? Rock on!

Image

Now that Spring is finally upon us, so is marathon season.  I’m curious to know who is running a marathon, and where.

Marathons are plentiful at this time of year.  You’ve got them in probably every state in the U.S. in April alone.  With April starting tomorrow, will we be ready?  I’ve already run three marathons this year, but realize that most people only run one or two per year.  Coming off Winter training season, a lot of us are tapering for a big race right now.  I have the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh marathon on the 13th, followed by the All American Marathon on May 4th.  A bunch of great runners will descend on Boston in April.  Where is your big race?

What I have figured out after a few years of running now, is that I train better in the heat than I do in the cold.  Winter training for me is difficult. It’s dark early, and I find it harder to motivate myself to get out in the cold, often times blustery weather.  My marathon finish times have proved it to me.  Fall marathon finish times this past year were better than the last few winter marathons I’ve run.  So, now that Spring is here, I’m wondering if the weather will help or hinder.  My last two races both had periods of rain, which I do not like.  Spring weather can often times mean rain.  Here in NC, it can also mean a really varying range in temperatures.  Looking at the forecast for the next ten days, most mornings are in the mid to upper 40’s, even 50’s.  I am ok with that for sure, for a race morning.  We are looking at high temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s.  Let’s just say, I hope that marathon morning is cool, around 50, and temps will not rise to near 70 until my race is long over with.

As I meet runners at races, we all have a common goal.  To enjoy the run.  We sometimes have goals, pace or otherwise, but our common goal is to finish and have fun.  Isn’t that why we race?  What are your goals when you toe the line this Spring at your next race? Are you trying to qualify for Boston?  Are you shooting for the 50 staters club?  Trying to become a Marathon Maniac or Half Fanatic?  Maybe your goal is all about your health, and improving your fitness?  Maybe your goal is not to fall down or throw up at the finish?  Just enjoy it!  Running should be fun, so my ‘A’ goal is just that.  My ‘B’ goal is to BQ, my ‘C’ goal is a marathon PR.

I look forward to hearing your stories!  Rock on my running friends!

10 days til Marathon #9

Image

Here we go again.  As temperatures have been in the single digits overnight the past two days, tomorrow, the Charleston Marathon will be just single digits away.  Marathon #9 is 10 days away today.  Normally, I am more prepared, both physically and mentally for a marathon this close.  What has happened this time?  I actually started the pre race nerves this morning.  This race has truly snuck up on me.  I guess the reason for that is that I have not run a race in January before.  Normally I am base building right now.  It is amazing to me how much the holidays and work commitments have distracted me so much from this race.  Now is the time to get my head in the game!

It has been so difficult to get my training miles in.  I have been running, but I feel like it hasn’t been enough.  This is really uncharted territory for me.  The past two years, my first marathon each time has been in March.  This allowed for a slower progression toward my goal.  Due to the overwhelming cold weather recently, I have found it very challenging to just get out there and run.  This is no excuse normally, but temps have just been very extreme.  Today, I have a four miler planned, and I will run it at the height of the day, when the temperature is supposed to hit 42 degrees.

Image

Reminder!  Just 10 days away…..  Ok, so I need to get myself ready mentally, too.  I woke up this morning, my first day off from work in a week, thinking about the race.  Thinking about the plan.  The logistics.  The four hour ride to Charleston, the hotel, food options.  I have started looking for a restaurant, for my pre race dinner.  I’m thinking Italian.  Pasta, chicken.  My go to foods the night before a race.  Planning out the trip, the details, helps get my head in the game.  It helps to calm my nerves, having a plan in place.  Racing at home is so much easier on the nerves.  When you have to travel, stay in a hotel, and get around a city you are not familiar with it is just more unnerving. Planning these things now, will help me to stay calm.

Image

This is my first time running in Charleston.  I am so excited to see the city, and just experience the southern charm.  I am looking forward to the hospitality, and hope it abounds in the way of crowd support along the marathon route.  I am always so thankful, and show my appreciation to those cheering on us runners.

This being my ninth marathon, I feel pretty confident about getting through the miles.  My goal though for the first part of 2014, is to make progress toward Boston.  By the time the race comes, it will be almost exactly two months since my last marathon in Las Vegas.  So, even though I have only run one double digit mileage training run (10 miles) since Vegas, I feel like I can rely on my legs and feet to get me there.  Not sure if I’ve done enough to hit my goal of a 3:25:00 finish, however.  My goal is what has me nervous for this marathon.  Maybe those nerves will help me fight harder, run harder.

For today, and for the remaining days leading up to this race, I feel my best plan is to get in several more shorter runs.  Focusing mentally on the race will happen naturally while I run, and during my down time.  I feel like my body will be ready, so the mental game, the goal will be the focus.  Zeroing in on mental calm over the coming days is what is most important now.

Image

The starting line is 10 days away, but the final focus begins today.