What do you do when a race gets CANCELLED?

Up until recently my racing over the years has been relatively 99% unaffected by delays, weather, or even cancellations.  It happens though, inevitably.  If not to me, than to you, or your friends.

I’ve been in races that were delayed 10 minutes, 20 minutes, even a half hour, due to logistics.  Either waiting on more runner filled buses to arrive at the starting line, or a train on the course, or traffic congestion on race morning.  Things happen.  We can all agree on that.  Sometimes the weather even plays a roll, although I have been incredibly lucky when it comes to even rain during a race.  I can count on one hand how many times it has rained/snowed during one of my races.  Snow in Asheville, rain in Hilton Head.  I haven’t been through a major disappointment like the folks that were signed up to run the New York City Marathon a few years ago when Hurricane Sandy forced cancellation altogether.  What do you do when a race cancels?

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My last marathon in Colorado had logistical issues.  Luckily I was a marathoner, and made it to the starting line with time to spare.  Others weren’t that lucky, and Half Marathoners got the shaft completely when the number of contracted buses for the event failed to show up, meaning 1,000’s were sent home when the Half was cancelled a mere hour before the event was to take place.  I would have been livid, if that were me.  All the travel related expenses I forked out to get there, and no race?  Wow!  But, it’s a risk we all take.  Who buys travel insurance anyway?

Just yesterday another race cancelled altogether.  The Greensboro Marathon scheduled for mid October cancelled due to low numbers of registrations.  They debated the thought of canceling for weeks, and finally had to cancel because the race would have cost more to put on than the fees being paid in to run it.  It’s very disappointing.  This particular race I was pacing, so it clearly wasn’t my “A Race” this Fall.  I guess knowing this far in advance, it gives those that were specifically training for this marathon the opportunity to find another race.

A race being cancelled can be heartbreaking though for anyone involved.  I felt horribly for all those runners that didn’t get to run the Rockies Half.  Again, things happen.  Both races I have referred to here in this post both offered full refunds for anyone registered, so kudos to them.  Sometimes this could put a race company out of business.  I’m surprised Revel Races could afford to refund 3,000 or so entries especially after everything race related was already paid for.  I hope they bounce back even stronger than before.  This is the same wish I have for the folks at Trivium Racing who not only put on the Greensboro Marathon, but other races in the area.  As runners we must forgive when event cancellations occur.  It may be tough at the time, but we must.

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So, question for the day.  Have you ever been involved in a race being cancelled?  What did you do?  Did you get a refund, or just have to suck it up?  Good races, and great race companies need to be forgiven and given another chance as far as I am concerned.  Anxious to hear your thoughts.

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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…..

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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.

Greensboro Marathon & Half 2015

As the sport of running grows and grows, so do the number of races.  I’ve read a couple of really interesting articles lately about the growth of our sport, which has led to gluttony of races when it comes to peak marathon season.

Of course there are big city marathons with big expos, lots of spectators and a big price tag that comes right along with it.  Marathons can cost upwards of $250-$300 depending on the race.  Most folks choose races very carefully, and cost can be a huge factor.  For runners like me that run more than just a couple of races a year, careful consideration must be used when deciding where your race budget will be spent.

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Trivium Racing, out of Greensboro, North Carolina puts on really quality events.  Located in the center of our state, runners from all over can convene in the city park this Fall for the third running of an great event.  Current pricing is under $100, and gets you an amazing race course, high quality bling, post race food, music and more.  Convenient free parking, included!

The inaugural year of this event, I learned about it too late in the season to run it.  I didn’t make that mistake last year, signed up early, and ran the marathon six days after running the Chicago Marathon.  The course winds in and around the city of Greensboro, through neighborhoods, and city streets, but also through beautiful countryside.  Yes, there are hills.  The course is challenging, yet so much fun!

This year I will be pacing the Half Marathon at this event.  I hope to take one of my sons along with me to experience this great race.  Running Chicago again this year, I figured I better run the half this time around, since I am running the New York City Marathon a few weeks later.  Gotta leave some steam in my legs for the Big Apple!

This years race is on Saturday, October 17th.  Pease join me!

RUN LOCAL!!!  Support the fine efforts of quality race directors like Richard and Libby.  When races are done right, we need to support them!

Greensboro Marathon – Race Recap

October 18, 2014-

A lot of you may be asking the question…  So yes, I will answer it right off the bat.  I ran another marathon this week.  Wait, didn’t I just run the Chicago Marathon last Sunday?  Yep.  Then, six days later, I completed yet another marathon.

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Let me give you a bit of the background on how this came to be.  This past January while in Charleston, SC for my first marathon of the year, I happened to stop by the Greensboro Marathon table at the expo.  I picked up a race flier from the guy working the table.  They were offering a huge discount to runners at that race to sign up early.  I think I had just a few days to make a decision as the discount only would work for a limited time.  Greensboro is about an hour and a half drive from home, and so I thought sure.  I signed up!  A few months later, after finding out that I made it into the Chicago Marathon through the lottery, it meant that I was now signed up for two marathons in one week.  Six days apart to be specific.

Of course I would run Chicago.  A race of a lifetime.  Where would that leave Greensboro though?  As the Spring and Summer progressed, and training was going well, I decided that I would just kind of leave it up in the air.  As Fall approached and a busy race season was starting I was still unsure how it would all play out.  I would wing it.  It’s not like Greensboro wasn’t close to home.  I didn’t need a hotel, or plane ticket.  I could literally wait until the last minute to decide.

After having a great race in Chicago a week ago today, I felt really good physically.  I would wait a few days to see how my legs and feet would feel post marathon.  My recovery this week was great.  I bounced right back from Chicago, and worked a full week on my feet.  I felt good.  I made the decision to go ahead and run the Greensboro Marathon and really put myself to the test.

And so I did!

I got up very early yesterday morning, and started my pre-race rituals.  With a later than usual 8am start time, it meant that I had to leave the house by 5:30am, to make sure that I had enough time to drive there, find parking, pick up my race bib and shirt and get ready to run 26.2 miles.

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Through the hubbub of the week, I really hadn’t paid a lot of attention to the race course and elevation chart.  I knew that this year (the second running of this event) the course was completely new.  Looking at the elevation chart, it would be anything but flat.  The complete opposite from Chicago, but nothing that I wasn’t used to living here in rolling North Carolina.  I decided in the car heading to Greensboro that my only goal was to finish and go sub 4 hours.  It was all just a test.  I was testing my physical endurance (two marathons in less than a week) and my mental fortitude.

Let me just say that I am very happy that I made the decision to run.  The race started in City Park.  I was able to quickly find parking right across the road in a free parking deck.  Like promised, they had my race bag and bib ready for me at the timing tent.  There was no race day packet pick up offered, but I got the RD to agree to let me pick up race morning since I live about 100 miles away, and would not drive the extra distance twice just to pick up my bib.  See?  Race Directors can be very cool.  Thank you Richard! (and Libby).

All that was left was for me to do was to stretch and prepare.  I snapped a few pictures of the park that morning as I headed to the starting line.

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I lined up in the start chute.  A much smaller race than Chicago by about 45,300 runners, there was all sorts of room.  I lined up next to the 3:40 pacer, and we started chatting.  He asked me if I wanted to run with him, to which I replied, “I doubt it, I just ran Chicago last Sunday, and am just hoping for a good race”.  I didn’t want any pressure, no specific time goals.  While we chatted, a young woman to my left must have overheard our conversation.  She jutted in, “did you run Chicago?  I was there, too”.  She was there cheering on her mother, who ran the race. Through further conversation I learned that the Greensboro Marathon was her first marathon.  I wished her well.  She told me that her mother could still hear the cheers of the crowd in Chicago long after her race had finished and she returned to their hotel room.  This race was quite different, so I hoped that there would be some spectator support for her first marathon.

Sadly, there wasn’t much.  This is such a small city marathon, there wasn’t much support at all.  It was very clear from the start that we were on our own.  My race started like many others.  I just tried to find a groove over the course of the first few miles.  The elevation chart shows that there are very few flat miles.  I don’t remember any.  ;). The hills were relentless, and challenging.  I felt a bit rundown, but I would manage.  I maintained a pace over those rolling hills faster than the 3:40 group for about 6-7 miles.  The countryside on the course was beautiful.  We passed through golf course communities with beautiful homes, passed old farmland and glistening lakes.  It really was an amazing course.  It was quiet, crisp and cool.  The weather couldn’t have been any better.  Clear blue skies, 50 degree temperatures.  A perfect Fall morning in central North Carolina.

I stopped to use the bathroom (aka: a tree) around the 7 mile mark.  It was then that the 3:40 pacer went on by.  The “first time marathoner” also passed me during my bathroom break.  I would spend the next several rolling miles chasing them.  I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to my Garmin because I wasn’t trying to set any speed records, but nonetheless, I still was looking for that sub 4 finish.  Slowly but surely I was nearing the halfway point.  As the timing mat at 13.1 approached I remember thinking “damn, why did I think this was a good idea?”  I felt like I was crawling up those hills at times.  My energy felt depleted here and there, and as the temperatures rose, I was kicking myself that I didn’t have more energy.  I wished that the race was ending at 13.1, not 26.2.  How would I ever manage to run another 13.1 miles to finish out this race?  Fact of the matter was that I still had half way to go.  Buck up!  I crossed the halfway mark at 1:50:48. It certainly wasn’t going to be my best marathon, but I knew I could finish it.

The second half of the race felt even more hilly to me.  I guess that’s only natural, being more tired, and all.  It just felt brutal.  The scenery was still great, but I felt so tired that a lot of the scenery was lost on me.  I spent a lot of time looking down at my feet, trying to will them forward.  I found that looking down was my savior, especially on the relentless uphill sections.  This course was so ridiculously difficult that I just wanted to beat it, to call it my bitch!  It was making me crazy.  I found myself dreaming of the Chicago course, with its flat landscape and adoring fans.  This course?  None of that.

As I made my way, hill by hill, I found myself passing people.  I passed the first time marathoner.  I told her to stay strong.  I knew she was doing well on this tough course. Yes, even though the second half was tougher than the first, I was conquering it stronger than most.  I was passing people that had been in my sights for miles and miles.  One by one, I made it my goal to just reach the next person.  I found much satisfaction in passing these folks.  Little did they know that I had run a marathon just six days prior.  If they knew that I don’t think they would have let me pass them.

I maintained a pace that I felt that would get me to the line in a decent time.  I did have to walk a few times on the last few uphill sections, as I felt that walking would almost be faster than my running pace.  Do you ever feel like you are running so slow that you may as well be walking?  This is how I felt.  Miles 22, 23, 24, 25. It was almost over.  I was begging for that finish line to come into view, and finally it was there.  A short straight away from the finish, I knew I had my sub 4.  It wasn’t a pretty one, certainly not my best.  I did it though.  The small crowd clapped me to the finish.  I had done it!  I crossed the line in 3:53:42.

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I grabbed a water, and stopped to watch others finish.  Believe it or not, I only finished 15 spots behind that 3:40 pacer that I was talking with at the beginning of the race. We chatted a moment, and then I saw the first time marathoner come to the line.  Her first marathon finish, about 4 minutes behind me.  She finished in 3:57:30.  A fantastic job on this difficult course.  I hope she knows that not all marathon courses are this tough.  I hope she goes for marathon #2 one day.

The post race festival was really quite nice.  Right in the park, plenty of sunshine.  A really nice turnout for the second running of this event.  I didn’t stay long, as I wanted to get on the road home.  When I figured out that I had finished 8th in my age group, I headed to my car.  No extra bling for me.  I really didn’t need it.  Knowing that I had just finished my second marathon in six days was enough of a reward for me.

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Unofficial results:  Overall finish 50/284, Gender finish 39/165 and age group 8/30.

Thanks to Trivium Racing, all staff, volunteers, sponsors and spectators.  Finishing Chicago in 3:41 and then Greensboro in 3:53 six days later will be something I always remember.  Greensboro, my last marathon of 2014 and a springboard for the 2015 racing season.

Greensboro Marathon – North Carolina

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The first Fall marathon I have signed up for is about a 70 mile drive from where I live.  The Greensboro Marathon will be run on October 18, 2014.  The second installment of this race will see a brand new course this year.  With the new course, the race logo needs to change.  Maybe they are working on that.  Last year, this race was a point to point race, ending in Greensboro, but starting at Elon College, as seen in the photo.  This years race will be run exclusively in Greensboro.

I am not very familiar with Greensboro, even though it’s not that far away from where I live.  I’ve been there several times on business, but have only run a race there once in the last three years.  In October of 2012 I ran the Cannonball Run Half Marathon there, and from what I remember the area is well equipped with rolling hills.

The course will take runners all over Greensboro, so I look forward to seeing the city on foot.

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Much of North Carolina is not flat.  This course looks to incorporate many, many rolling hills and changes in elevation.  Nothing too serious, but looking at the elevation chart, you’ll notice very few flat sections.  You’re either going up or down.  I’m sure it will be much like the Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon, which also has rolling hills and difficult sections along the way.  Here is a look at the elevation chart posted on the website.  www.greensboromarathon.com

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Looking at this chart, the gains and loses aren’t big, but looks to be like a challenging run.  This race is put on by Trivium Racing, and it will be my first time running one of their races.  I heard good things about the race last year, and hope to add to the good reviews with one of my own this coming October.

That particular weekend this Fall will bring a huge challenge for me.  I will be running the Greensboro Full on Saturday, followed by the Bull City Race Fest Half marathon on Sunday.  Already looking forward to the challenge.  Check out the website, and join me in supporting another North Carolina race.

Upcoming Races

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I may run the Greensboro Marathon on 10/26.

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

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

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

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