Bull City Half Marathon- Race Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Running through a Hurricane

It might not be the best idea, but sometimes you do what you have to do.  The number of posts I read about folks doing training runs this past week astounded me.  So many of us have marathons this Fall, but come on….  I think intentionally putting yourself in harms way getting that training run in during hurricane force winds and torrential rain is a bit over the top!

Yes folks, we endured the worst hurricane in a decade or more this past week.  Hurricane Matthew has left behind over 800 dead in Haiti alone.  Many mane more in the United States, as the storm moved its way up the east coast.  I didn’t lose power, didn’t have any flood damage, and was relatively unaffected here at home.  Seven inches of rain left behind will keep the grass green through Fall though.  There was a lot of flooding here in North Carolina though, including this area, but not in my immediate surroundings.  I was lucky.  So many were not as fortunate.  My heart goes out to all affected.  It will take months if not years for some areas to recover.

I, for one, did not feel the need to get training runs in during the horrible storm.  I figured my training for Marine Corps has been so horrible anyway, why add insult to possible injury?  My lead up to MCM in less than a month has been lackluster, at best.  I’ve been on the verge of injury for months now, so I’ve just been doing my best to stay in running shape.  Just to make it to the starting line.

Next up for me is a race that’s sort of been my “go-to” Halves each Fall.  The Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon is this Sunday.  Again I was invited onto the pace team, which will be my third time in the roll at this race.  I will be a pacer for the 9:00 minute mile group.  Putting us at the finish at 1:57:00.  A nice run through the streets of Durham.  Each successive year I have paced a slower time, and it’s really perfect for me this year, because honestly, I am just looking for a sub 4 finish at Marine Corps since my training has been so nonexistent.

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The weather is looking perfect for Sunday morning.  Mid 40’s at the start, and only up to the 60’s by noon.  The 9:00 group will be a perfect pace for me, not a big push at all, and hopefully not an injury inducing race.  With Marine Corps on October 30th, the time is nearing quickly.

One piece of bad news this morning, just as a side note….. I got the “We’re sorry to inform you but, you didn’t make it in through the lottery” email from the Virgin Money London Marathon this morning.  Sad news.  Absolutely no one I know got in.  I have not seen a single post on social media of someone getting in through the lottery. This leads me to ask the question “why have a lottery at all for London”?  If time qualifying and charity running is almost the only way possible to get in, just say so.  Don’t even hold a lottery.  It would have been my first trip abroad.  Oh well, move past it.  As an ambassador for the Abbott World Marathon Majors, it would have been really nice to add my third of the Big 6 to my list of marathon completions, but this is not to be for 2017.  Best of luck to all running next year!

 

Run & Ride Carowinds 2016

Ran there, Rode that!

Another fun year down visiting Carowinds amusement park.  Half Marathon and roller coasters, what could be better than that?

My time goal was hard to achieve because it was like a million degrees on race morning.  Plus two million percent humidity.  Just rough.  Not enough water on the course, and although the course was still not measured correctly, it was better than last years fiasco.

The real kicker this year?  The timing chips were all defective.  For all races.  The 5k, 10k and Half.  They had to rely on runner help for times, and some shotty backup camera.  Hilarious.

My time was 1:53:50, or so they say.  Who knows.  My garmin came in lower, the course was about a quarter of a mile long.  Short?  What ever.  It was fun.  I’m over obsessing about my times most days, so at least it was fun.  And look at the medal!

Charlie Brown riding a roller coaster?  Oh, hell yes!

A non-running Summer nightmare

I can talk all day about the why’s….. I could make up a thousand excuses… I can ponder reasons and doubts and probably come up with a very long list.  Plain and simple, the Summer of 2016 has been a tough running season for me.

 

Normally, every year my racing season ends with a short race, typically early in June.  The Summer is then spent rebuilding sore muscles, recovering from marathons and halves, taking some time off, and then building back for a Fall racing season packed with great races.

This, in part, is very true for the last few months with one exception.  I’ve been on the verge of injury, the brink, since starting back.  I’ve never felt quite right.  I’ve had PF in the past, a bout with it that lasted about 9 months.  A painful injury, but one I ran through causing it to linger way longer than necessary.  I learned my lesson.  Back then, I took a month off from running.  No running at all.  It seemed to do the trick, and when I returned to running slowly, the problem never came back.  The summer of 2016 has been a reminder to me of that pain, that desire to fun free and feel good.  I just haven’t been feeling right all summer.

What running I have done has been short, agonizing at times, and most certainly slow.  I feel like I’ve aged ten years the past four months.  I see all these people posting mileage for the summer, long runs, race prep, etc… It has been painful just to see that.  I want that!  My feet tell me no.  Not yet.

So?  What to do?  I’ve barely even been reading blogs this summer, much less write my own.  I haven’t had really any running news to share, so I just haven’t.  I’ve missed it for sure, but needed to focus on other aspects of my life that needed attention.  But here we are, heading into Fall, so what is my plan?

I didn’t enter the Chicago Marathon lottery this past Spring, so for the first time in three years I will not be heading to the Windy City in October.  I did enter the Berlin Marathon lottery, and I guess fortunately considering my injury status, didn’t get picked because that race is days away.  Marine Corps though, that’s another story.  I did enter the lottery, DID get chosen, so I have one marathon this Fall at the end of October.  I’ve debated over and over again if I should defer, but haven’t decided yet.  Why?  I think I’ve decided to give at least one race a shot and see what kind of condition it leaves me in.  Once that’s over, I’ll know.  I’ll know for sure.

So, without further ado, I AM RACING this weekend.  My body has been in preservation mode, and now needs to quickly flip to racing mode.  A half marathon this weekend should let me know once and for all, if indeed I am either in or out this Fall.  Why you ask, am I racing?  I just need to know.  I need to have a clear direction for this running passion I have for the next several months.

With a pacing gig lined up for mid October, and Marine Corps a few weeks later, and one last Half locally a couple weeks after that, I just need to know if I am back on track or not.  If the race goes ok this weekend, and recovery isn’t bad, I’ll know.  If the race is an epic failure, I’ll know.

So, wish me luck!  I promise to post a recap with all the details, good or bad, next week.    I’m either going to stare injury in the face and beat it, or I’ll be down for the count until 2017.  Should be an epic race either way.  ;). Here goes nothing!

Revel Mt. Charleston Discount 2017

***Same team name for 2018 race!  Same discounts apply***

“Chasing Boston”

 

Time to jump on the bandwagon to Las Vegas!  Registration is open for the Revel Mt. Charleston Marathon & Half for 2017!

Hurray for the new date, which is not on Mothers Day weekend this time around!  The date for 2017 is April 29th.  This downhill race will surely help you reach a goal of qualifying for Boston, hence my team name.  “Chasing Boston”.

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My my team is open to anyone.  Want to run the Half?  Register on team Chasing Boston, and save $5 off current registration rates, and “like” them on Facebook during checkout for another $5 off.  Same goes for those wanting to run the Full!  This isn’t a team where we need to run together, or even know each other, it’s just a way for us all to enjoy a discount.  So, when you’re registering, just click on the button “join a team” and enter my team name Chasing Boston into the search field.  Simple.

I couldn’t attend the race this year because I am in the middle of moving, but I’m already looking forward to next year!  Everything I’ve heard about this years race was epic.  Great reviews all around.

See you in Vegas, baby!

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26 Glorious 26.2’s

For those of you who have been keeping track (and this probably includes only me), the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon on April 10th was my 26th full marathon.  I’ve considered myself a bit OCD when it comes to numbers, so this one was a big deal!  Don’t you have a favorite number?  A lucky number?  Numbers that y don’t care for or feel odd about?  Back several years ago my phone number included my birth date, my age and my sons age.  Of course that only lasted a year or so, but funny stuff with numbers is kinda cool to me.  They call an affection for numbers like this arithmomania.  I definitely have that when it comes to my most recent marathon!

Twenty-six twenty-six point twos.  Yep, most runners will never hit that mark.  I mean, if you consider that less than 1% of the worlds population has ever completed one marathon, what must the percentage be for someone running 26 of them?  A numerologist would have all sorts of fun figuring the statistics on people who run say more than 1, or more than 5.  More than 10, more than 25, or even higher.  It’s a crazy number that I hope will only continue upward for me.  Let’s hope the body continues to hold up!

So yeah, my “double weekend”, including the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5k, which was my last blog post almost three weeks ago, was followed up by the marathon the next day.  This was another race that I’m proud to have been running with my son.  He ran the Half, to a blistering new PR, and although the course was extremely difficult, I managed a sub 4 finish.

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Weather was pure perfection that day.  Unusually cold at the start, followed by tons and tons of sunshine and a gradual warm up.  A course that winds its way all over Raleigh up and down hills past historic cemeteries, buildings and monuments.  Past several colleges, and local landmarks, this race is really a feast for your eyes.  My first half was really good considering the hills.  I went out at a pace just over 8:00 minutes per mile, and maintained a sub 8:35 pace until a tough spot at mile 10.

Considering the fact that I had just run a marathon a week prior, I was feeling pretty good.  As the marathon and half courses split, that section through Meredith College was a big challenge.  Not for the faint of heart.  Or legs for that matter.  It’s a true test, but also rewarded with a downhill as runners head back toward NC State.  Even though my son is a student at State, there were parts of the course on the campus that I had never seen, and it was truly beautiful.  Centennial campus was just a really great part of the course!

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Now, what follows on Avent Ferry Road was another true test of grit!  I believe for me, this was the beginning of the end for my speed.  I eeked it out, but man was it tough.  I didn’t have a ton of expectations for a finish time that day, I pretty much just wanted to finish in one piece.  My legs were already tired from a disastrous marathon seven days prior at All American.  You remember, my worst marathon finish ever.  I really only wanted to go sub 4 in Raleigh.

My pace and legs were wrecked by the time I hit Lake Johnson in Raleigh, but the views and quiet of running around the lake for the first time gave me some positive enregy for the final six miles of the race.  Just look at this picture I took.  Pure running serenity!

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Time to head back northwest to the city, the course was pretty unforgiving.  With the exception of mile 22, where I had a burst of energy, and managed an 8:51 pace, each of my last six miles were over 10 minutes per mile.  I was beat!  I was looking forward to seeing my family at the finish.  Once I finally crested the ridiculous Boylan Avenue hill, I turned east and on into the city for the finish.  My younger son was waiting for me about 3/10 of a mile before the finish.  He surprised me, and I asked he join me and run me in to the finish.  He gladly accepted, although he wasn’t dressed for it at all. 🙂

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Thanks to that final bit of energy he gave me, I gave it all I had and crossed the line in 3:59:05.  Two marathons in seven days, I’ve barely run since.  I was rewarded however with a nice marathon medal, and finish jacket.  I also received the “Remix” medal for completing both races during the weekend of events.  Although this marathon course will never be listed or described as flat, or easy, it’s always a joy to run the streets of Raleigh, my states Capitol.

I finished 30th in my AG, and 246th overall out of nearly a thousand finishers.  Top 25 percent, I’ll take it.  I hope to return to this race next year and give it another go.  I surely recommend it!

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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!